May Israel defend itself at all?

A disturbing column by Charles Krauthhammer on the global response to Israel’s blockade of Gaza:

Oh, but weren’t the Gaza-bound ships on a mission of humanitarian relief? No. Otherwise they would have accepted Israel’s offer to bring their supplies to an Israeli port, be inspected for military materiel and have the rest trucked by Israel into Gaza — as every week 10,000 tons of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are sent by Israel to Gaza.

Why was the offer refused? Because, as organizer Greta Berlin admitted, the flotilla was not about humanitarian relief but about breaking the blockade, i.e., ending Israel’s inspection regime, which would mean unlimited shipping into Gaza and thus the unlimited arming of Hamas.

Israel has already twice intercepted ships laden with Iranian arms destined for Hezbollah and Gaza. What country would allow that?

But even more important, why did Israel even have to resort to blockade? Because, blockade is Israel’s fallback as the world systematically de-legitimizes its traditional ways of defending itself — forward and active defense.

(1) Forward defense: As a small, densely populated country surrounded by hostile states, Israel had, for its first half-century, adopted forward defense — fighting wars on enemy territory (such as the Sinai and Golan Heights) rather than its own.

Where possible (Sinai, for example) Israel has traded territory for peace. But where peace offers were refused, Israel retained the territory as a protective buffer zone. Thus Israel retained a small strip of southern Lebanon to protect the villages of northern Israel. And it took many losses in Gaza, rather than expose Israeli border towns to Palestinian terror attacks. It is for the same reason America wages a grinding war in Afghanistan: You fight them there, so you don’t have to fight them here.

But under overwhelming outside pressure, Israel gave it up. The Israelis were told the occupations were not just illegal but at the root of the anti-Israel insurgencies — and therefore withdrawal, by removing the cause, would bring peace.

Land for peace. Remember? Well, during the past decade, Israel gave the land — evacuating South Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005. What did it get? An intensification of belligerency, heavy militarization of the enemy side, multiple kidnappings, cross-border attacks and, from Gaza, years of unrelenting rocket attack.

(2) Active defense: Israel then had to switch to active defense — military action to disrupt, dismantle and defeat (to borrow President Obama’s description of our campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda) the newly armed terrorist mini-states established in southern Lebanon and Gaza after Israel withdrew.

The result? The Lebanon war of 2006 and Gaza operation of 2008-09. They were met with yet another avalanche of opprobrium and calumny by the same international community that had demanded the land-for-peace Israeli withdrawals in the first place. Worse, the U.N. Goldstone report, which essentially criminalized Israel’s defensive operation in Gaza while whitewashing the casus belli — the preceding and unprovoked Hamas rocket war — effectively de-legitimized any active Israeli defense against its self-declared terror enemies.

(3) Passive defense: Without forward or active defense, Israel is left with but the most passive and benign of all defenses — a blockade to simply prevent enemy rearmament. Yet, as we speak, this too is headed for international de-legitimation. Even the United States is now moving toward having it abolished.

But, if none of these is permissible, what’s left?

Ah, but that’s the point. It’s the point understood by the blockade-busting flotilla of useful idiots and terror sympathizers, by the Turkish front organization that funded it, by the automatic anti-Israel Third World chorus at the United Nations, and by the supine Europeans who’ve had quite enough of the Jewish problem.

What’s left? Nothing. The whole point of this relentless international campaign is to deprive Israel of any legitimate form of self-defense. Why, just last week, the Obama administration joined the jackals, and reversed four decades of U.S. practice, by signing onto a consensus document that singles out Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons — thus de-legitimizing Israel’s very last line of defense: deterrence.

The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million — that number again — hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists — Iranian in particular — openly prepare a more final solution.

via Krauthammer: Those troublesome Jews.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://enterthevein.blogspot.com J. Dean

    This makes for a strange conversation among Christians, particularly when you get dispensationalists involved (I’m a recovering dispensationalist who has converted to amillenialism). Many dispensationalists-not all, granted, but many-will jump on a “defend Israel’s actions at all costs” attitude because of their beliefs about Israel’s future role in eschatology. It can be frustrating engaging in conversation with these people at times, because if you say anything that doesn’t square with agreement of Israeli policy in a carte blanche manner, you’re a latent anti-Semite.

    Me, I believe that Israel is right to defend itself. Having said that, I also believe-based on Scripture-that Israel the political entity is not God’s chosen nation, as it rejects Jesus Christ as the Messiah. So with Israel-as with other secular matters-I agree with them in some ways, but take issue with them on matters pertaining to God and the Scriptures.

  • http://enterthevein.blogspot.com J. Dean

    This makes for a strange conversation among Christians, particularly when you get dispensationalists involved (I’m a recovering dispensationalist who has converted to amillenialism). Many dispensationalists-not all, granted, but many-will jump on a “defend Israel’s actions at all costs” attitude because of their beliefs about Israel’s future role in eschatology. It can be frustrating engaging in conversation with these people at times, because if you say anything that doesn’t square with agreement of Israeli policy in a carte blanche manner, you’re a latent anti-Semite.

    Me, I believe that Israel is right to defend itself. Having said that, I also believe-based on Scripture-that Israel the political entity is not God’s chosen nation, as it rejects Jesus Christ as the Messiah. So with Israel-as with other secular matters-I agree with them in some ways, but take issue with them on matters pertaining to God and the Scriptures.

  • Louis

    Jews are free to worship inside Iran, they are a recogniosed religious minority. As are the Assyrian Church (the descendants of the Nestorians), and some others. Granted, they are not all that free. But there is more freedom for these people in Iran, than for the same in Saudia Arabia. Remember, in the East, as well as in Africa, posturing is an important part of the diplomatic / politcal process. What you say is often quite different from what you mean. It is a cultural issue.

    Also, the country in the Middle East which grants the most freedom to Christians in the Middle East is Syria, not Israel.

    People should look at this issue as two nations, occupying the same territory, struggling to find their places in the sun. The Palestinians have as much a right to exist than the Israeli’s. Blind choosing of either side is not wise. And the fervour of some Christians to be “Evangelical Zionists” doesn’t do their Palestinian co-religionists any good. I agree largely with J Dean @ #1.

  • Louis

    Jews are free to worship inside Iran, they are a recogniosed religious minority. As are the Assyrian Church (the descendants of the Nestorians), and some others. Granted, they are not all that free. But there is more freedom for these people in Iran, than for the same in Saudia Arabia. Remember, in the East, as well as in Africa, posturing is an important part of the diplomatic / politcal process. What you say is often quite different from what you mean. It is a cultural issue.

    Also, the country in the Middle East which grants the most freedom to Christians in the Middle East is Syria, not Israel.

    People should look at this issue as two nations, occupying the same territory, struggling to find their places in the sun. The Palestinians have as much a right to exist than the Israeli’s. Blind choosing of either side is not wise. And the fervour of some Christians to be “Evangelical Zionists” doesn’t do their Palestinian co-religionists any good. I agree largely with J Dean @ #1.

  • Michael Z.

    Dispensationalism aside, hopefully, :-P

    Israel reminds me of those kid heroes in those movies who finally faces up to the bully and gets sent to the principal’s office because of it.

  • Michael Z.

    Dispensationalism aside, hopefully, :-P

    Israel reminds me of those kid heroes in those movies who finally faces up to the bully and gets sent to the principal’s office because of it.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    This has never been a millennial thing for me. And at Seminary, despite the fact that I am very pro Israeli, I was called an anti-Semite for not believing that Israel has anymore God given right to the land than the Palestinians (many of them christian).
    However, I believe that Israel has a right to the land, they have paid for it with much blood. Palestine had its chance and had they not broken treaty after treaty trying to exterminate the Jews, they would have the state they claim they want.
    Obama will be recognized one day as being worse for our country’s interests in the realm of foreign policy than any other president.
    However, Israel right now is playing with kid gloves on, push them too far, they will defend themselves, and Palestine, Lebanon, and any other country that gets in their way will rue the day. They know how to fight, they have proven that many times.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    This has never been a millennial thing for me. And at Seminary, despite the fact that I am very pro Israeli, I was called an anti-Semite for not believing that Israel has anymore God given right to the land than the Palestinians (many of them christian).
    However, I believe that Israel has a right to the land, they have paid for it with much blood. Palestine had its chance and had they not broken treaty after treaty trying to exterminate the Jews, they would have the state they claim they want.
    Obama will be recognized one day as being worse for our country’s interests in the realm of foreign policy than any other president.
    However, Israel right now is playing with kid gloves on, push them too far, they will defend themselves, and Palestine, Lebanon, and any other country that gets in their way will rue the day. They know how to fight, they have proven that many times.

  • Carl Vehse

    In addition to Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamoterrorist countries of the mid-East, and Helen Thomas sycophants, Israel has to put up with Reuters fauxtography.

  • Carl Vehse

    In addition to Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamoterrorist countries of the mid-East, and Helen Thomas sycophants, Israel has to put up with Reuters fauxtography.

  • Kirk

    I’m torn on this issue. On the one hand, I do believe that Israel had the right to stop this aid ship. I wish they had some how managed to avoid killing people, but what’s done is done. On the other hand, if I’m understanding the diplomatic situation correctly, our support for Israel exists because we view the Jews as a stabilizing influence in the region. Or, at least, we view them as a curb to Arab aggression and dominance in the region. It seems to me, though, that through actions like this Israel does more to destabilize the region, than anything else. “Indiscretions” the the flotilla incident build animosity and hurt the United States’ diplomatic standing in the region. For me, it’s becoming less of a question of whether Israel is right or wrong, and more a question of whether or not our support for Israel is warranted.

  • Kirk

    I’m torn on this issue. On the one hand, I do believe that Israel had the right to stop this aid ship. I wish they had some how managed to avoid killing people, but what’s done is done. On the other hand, if I’m understanding the diplomatic situation correctly, our support for Israel exists because we view the Jews as a stabilizing influence in the region. Or, at least, we view them as a curb to Arab aggression and dominance in the region. It seems to me, though, that through actions like this Israel does more to destabilize the region, than anything else. “Indiscretions” the the flotilla incident build animosity and hurt the United States’ diplomatic standing in the region. For me, it’s becoming less of a question of whether Israel is right or wrong, and more a question of whether or not our support for Israel is warranted.

  • Cincinnatus

    And whether or not our support for Israel is in our best interests.

  • Cincinnatus

    And whether or not our support for Israel is in our best interests.

  • kerner

    I agree with Kirk. From a pragmatic point of view, what does our alliance with Israel do to benefit us?

    On the right to exist issue, the world is full of ethnic groups that don’t have an independent national homeland. How does Israel have a greater right to exist as an independent state than, say, Tibet, Scotland, Kurdistan, or the Tamil regions of India and Sri Lanka? Or for that matter, Palestine? We don’t support all of those the way we do Israel.

    I understand Krauthammer’s argument that the best way for Israel to defend itself is to create buffer zones around itself. the problem is that a byproduct of this policy has been to oppress the people living in those buffer zones. Israel argues that it would not have to oppress those people if they were not already hostile, and the Palestinian Arabs argue that they would not be so hostile if they weren’t being oppressed.

    And the oppression is real. Not only are the Palestinians deprived of their so called right to exist as an independent state, they have no civil rights, and they have no economy. There is no manufacturing or international trade in Gaza or the West Bank.

    I understand Israel’s concerns. If the Palestinian Arabs voted in Israeli elections, they would in a few years outnumber Israeli voters and Israel would lose its character as a Jewish state. If the Arabs voted in a truly independent state, that state would, at least for awhile, be hostile to Israel, and Israel would be more vulnerable than before. If such a hostile state developed its economy some of that trade and manufacturing would be devoted to weapons.

    So, the Arabs live under tyranny, because of what they might do if they didn’t. But I think there is a limit to how long the world, or even the USA, will support the imposition of tyranny on a people for what they MIGHT do if they were independent. Even if that “might” seems pretty likely. Eventually, people are going to insist that the Palestinians be given a chance at freedom. If they abuse that freedom, both they and the Israelis will suffer. Great Britain has suffered for a long time after freeing Ireland. But I don’t think the Arabs can be deprived of their freedom forever.

  • kerner

    I agree with Kirk. From a pragmatic point of view, what does our alliance with Israel do to benefit us?

    On the right to exist issue, the world is full of ethnic groups that don’t have an independent national homeland. How does Israel have a greater right to exist as an independent state than, say, Tibet, Scotland, Kurdistan, or the Tamil regions of India and Sri Lanka? Or for that matter, Palestine? We don’t support all of those the way we do Israel.

    I understand Krauthammer’s argument that the best way for Israel to defend itself is to create buffer zones around itself. the problem is that a byproduct of this policy has been to oppress the people living in those buffer zones. Israel argues that it would not have to oppress those people if they were not already hostile, and the Palestinian Arabs argue that they would not be so hostile if they weren’t being oppressed.

    And the oppression is real. Not only are the Palestinians deprived of their so called right to exist as an independent state, they have no civil rights, and they have no economy. There is no manufacturing or international trade in Gaza or the West Bank.

    I understand Israel’s concerns. If the Palestinian Arabs voted in Israeli elections, they would in a few years outnumber Israeli voters and Israel would lose its character as a Jewish state. If the Arabs voted in a truly independent state, that state would, at least for awhile, be hostile to Israel, and Israel would be more vulnerable than before. If such a hostile state developed its economy some of that trade and manufacturing would be devoted to weapons.

    So, the Arabs live under tyranny, because of what they might do if they didn’t. But I think there is a limit to how long the world, or even the USA, will support the imposition of tyranny on a people for what they MIGHT do if they were independent. Even if that “might” seems pretty likely. Eventually, people are going to insist that the Palestinians be given a chance at freedom. If they abuse that freedom, both they and the Israelis will suffer. Great Britain has suffered for a long time after freeing Ireland. But I don’t think the Arabs can be deprived of their freedom forever.

  • Cincinnatus

    Good words, kerner. I think I’ll make a brief attempt at answering my own question.

    There is no compelling justification for arguing that continued support of Israel serves long-term American interests. In exchange for our adamant support of the modern nation-state of Israel (an arbitrary creation of the United Nations in 1948), we have received the passionate and quite material hatred of the entire Arab (nay, Muslim) world. It is somewhat difficult to assemble a strong case for how deliberately aligning an entire militant region of the globe against us is in our interests. Indeed, our reasons for remaining on Israel’s side appear largely sentimental: perhaps it is because we sympathize with the Jewish plight in World War II; perhaps it is because many American Christians perceive for Israel a “special” role in eschatological, theological, or historical models; perhaps it is because Israeli “democracy” is somehow inexplicably better than the democracy of, say, Jordan and Lebanon or the religious freedom afforded by Syria; perhaps it is because the terrorism of Mossad is morally superior to the terrorism of Hamas; perhaps it is because we perceive Israel to be a stabilizing influence in the tumultuous Arab world–which, considering that Israel is the root of much Arab instability, is obviously a suspect justification.

    Whatever justification we use, it is increasingly difficult to discern why continued support of an arbitrarily created nation to house an arbitrarily selected ethnic group (out of all the other displace and dispossessed ethnic groups in the world) at great cost to American lives, material interests, and public monies, as well as our diplomatic standing, is still a worthy investment of the American brand.

    That said, Israel, as a nation that now exists, has a right to defend itself. But why should the American position default to the Israeli side of the argument on every single occasion? How is it that we are inclined to align with Chechnya against Russia or Tibet against China but not oppressed Palestine against Israel?

  • Cincinnatus

    Good words, kerner. I think I’ll make a brief attempt at answering my own question.

    There is no compelling justification for arguing that continued support of Israel serves long-term American interests. In exchange for our adamant support of the modern nation-state of Israel (an arbitrary creation of the United Nations in 1948), we have received the passionate and quite material hatred of the entire Arab (nay, Muslim) world. It is somewhat difficult to assemble a strong case for how deliberately aligning an entire militant region of the globe against us is in our interests. Indeed, our reasons for remaining on Israel’s side appear largely sentimental: perhaps it is because we sympathize with the Jewish plight in World War II; perhaps it is because many American Christians perceive for Israel a “special” role in eschatological, theological, or historical models; perhaps it is because Israeli “democracy” is somehow inexplicably better than the democracy of, say, Jordan and Lebanon or the religious freedom afforded by Syria; perhaps it is because the terrorism of Mossad is morally superior to the terrorism of Hamas; perhaps it is because we perceive Israel to be a stabilizing influence in the tumultuous Arab world–which, considering that Israel is the root of much Arab instability, is obviously a suspect justification.

    Whatever justification we use, it is increasingly difficult to discern why continued support of an arbitrarily created nation to house an arbitrarily selected ethnic group (out of all the other displace and dispossessed ethnic groups in the world) at great cost to American lives, material interests, and public monies, as well as our diplomatic standing, is still a worthy investment of the American brand.

    That said, Israel, as a nation that now exists, has a right to defend itself. But why should the American position default to the Israeli side of the argument on every single occasion? How is it that we are inclined to align with Chechnya against Russia or Tibet against China but not oppressed Palestine against Israel?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinatus,
    So I’m thinking that appeasing the Muslim world on this issue will work just as much as Chamberlain appeasing Hitler. So the issue of having a militant Muslim world gunning for us, is pretty much a moot issue. Israel is not the reason they are coming after us, but they would like to get rid of Israel so they tell us it is.
    We probably side with Israel for a variety of reasons, sympathy for WWII being but one.
    I don’t know where you get the idea that our support for them is in anyway because they are a stabalizing presence. That is ludicrous. Stalin supported them originally to destabilize the area.
    We probably support them because their existence is due to Palestine breaking a treaty, they have been an ally in combating Islamic Terrorism for decades. Their Democracy is not a sham, and they have no malicious intent toward the United States. Their history even towards their Muslim neighbors has been one of concession, constantly giving land in trade for peace. If Syria really wants the Golan Heights back, they can declare peace, as Egypt did to get the Sinai Peninsula back. It is quite simple.
    and the alternative would be to support a genocide that makes Hotel Rwanda look like Disneyland.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinatus,
    So I’m thinking that appeasing the Muslim world on this issue will work just as much as Chamberlain appeasing Hitler. So the issue of having a militant Muslim world gunning for us, is pretty much a moot issue. Israel is not the reason they are coming after us, but they would like to get rid of Israel so they tell us it is.
    We probably side with Israel for a variety of reasons, sympathy for WWII being but one.
    I don’t know where you get the idea that our support for them is in anyway because they are a stabalizing presence. That is ludicrous. Stalin supported them originally to destabilize the area.
    We probably support them because their existence is due to Palestine breaking a treaty, they have been an ally in combating Islamic Terrorism for decades. Their Democracy is not a sham, and they have no malicious intent toward the United States. Their history even towards their Muslim neighbors has been one of concession, constantly giving land in trade for peace. If Syria really wants the Golan Heights back, they can declare peace, as Egypt did to get the Sinai Peninsula back. It is quite simple.
    and the alternative would be to support a genocide that makes Hotel Rwanda look like Disneyland.

  • Louis

    Here is a report by Der Spiegel on the issues surrounding the deadly flotilla raid: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,699509,00.html

    But this paragraph highlights the regional problem very well:

    Evan Kohlmann, a US terrorism analyst and the author of the 2006 Danish study, told SPIEGEL ONLINE: “On one side, you have the Israelis insisting that everyone on board is a terrorist. On the other side, you have the Turks insisting that everyone on board is an innocent peaceful humanitarian.”
    He added that “it doesn’t take much insight to recognize that neither side is being very straightforward.”

  • Louis

    Here is a report by Der Spiegel on the issues surrounding the deadly flotilla raid: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,699509,00.html

    But this paragraph highlights the regional problem very well:

    Evan Kohlmann, a US terrorism analyst and the author of the 2006 Danish study, told SPIEGEL ONLINE: “On one side, you have the Israelis insisting that everyone on board is a terrorist. On the other side, you have the Turks insisting that everyone on board is an innocent peaceful humanitarian.”
    He added that “it doesn’t take much insight to recognize that neither side is being very straightforward.”

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror@10: Guess who was the most popular and beloved nation in the wider Middle East until about 1960?

    Care to guess why that may have changed? And care to guess what that change in attitude did to American missionary efforts in the region?

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror@10: Guess who was the most popular and beloved nation in the wider Middle East until about 1960?

    Care to guess why that may have changed? And care to guess what that change in attitude did to American missionary efforts in the region?

  • Louis

    Cincinnatus,

    To be fair, part of that decline in popularity was also the coup that replaced Mossadegh in Iran in 1953 with the Shah.

  • Louis

    Cincinnatus,

    To be fair, part of that decline in popularity was also the coup that replaced Mossadegh in Iran in 1953 with the Shah.

  • Cincinnatus

    Lois@13: True, true. Oh wait! Who was responsible for that coup?

  • Cincinnatus

    Lois@13: True, true. Oh wait! Who was responsible for that coup?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus,
    I imagine the Middle East was very grateful that the U.S. naively broke the colonial grip of France and Britain, through which Missionary efforts may have actually been a bit better.
    However, one is naive to think that that sentiment could remain. We are a western country, and though now a Christian country, the product of Christianity working through western ideals. The Muslim world would eventually find something to be mad at us about. It is the nature of their culture. As I said appeasing them by withdrawing support for Israel will not have the effect you think it would. History, History, and History recount this lesson.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus,
    I imagine the Middle East was very grateful that the U.S. naively broke the colonial grip of France and Britain, through which Missionary efforts may have actually been a bit better.
    However, one is naive to think that that sentiment could remain. We are a western country, and though now a Christian country, the product of Christianity working through western ideals. The Muslim world would eventually find something to be mad at us about. It is the nature of their culture. As I said appeasing them by withdrawing support for Israel will not have the effect you think it would. History, History, and History recount this lesson.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Israel in addition to being a democracy is among the most advanced technological and industrial nations in the world. It has become first-rate in the development of such fields as telecom, microchips, software, biotech, and defense technology. Aside from Germany, it has become the closest to the U.S. in scientific and technological innovation. In terms of Nobel Prizes the Jews have 165 and the Arabs 6.

    Israel is largely a culture of excellence and accomplishment. Many insecure Arabs and Persians basically hate the Israelis-and the Americans-deep down knowing their own backwardness and mediocrity. The Jewish people in Israel and around the world have disproportionately contributed to the advancement of science, technology, and humanities, to say nothing of their religious contribution to civilization.

    The truth is that most Arabs and Persians have made it clear that they wish to annihilate Israel. As Krauthammer remarks, Israel has made serious efforts to negotiate a reasonable peace, though understandably they are fighters hardly willing to cave in to their enemies. Should the American people in a fit of pacifism and isolationism under a feckless president abandon Israel to the savage nations of the Middle East, then shame on us.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Israel in addition to being a democracy is among the most advanced technological and industrial nations in the world. It has become first-rate in the development of such fields as telecom, microchips, software, biotech, and defense technology. Aside from Germany, it has become the closest to the U.S. in scientific and technological innovation. In terms of Nobel Prizes the Jews have 165 and the Arabs 6.

    Israel is largely a culture of excellence and accomplishment. Many insecure Arabs and Persians basically hate the Israelis-and the Americans-deep down knowing their own backwardness and mediocrity. The Jewish people in Israel and around the world have disproportionately contributed to the advancement of science, technology, and humanities, to say nothing of their religious contribution to civilization.

    The truth is that most Arabs and Persians have made it clear that they wish to annihilate Israel. As Krauthammer remarks, Israel has made serious efforts to negotiate a reasonable peace, though understandably they are fighters hardly willing to cave in to their enemies. Should the American people in a fit of pacifism and isolationism under a feckless president abandon Israel to the savage nations of the Middle East, then shame on us.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror: I’m not necessarily arguing that we should withdraw our support from Israel carte blanche. After all, they are, whether I like it or not, a sovereign nation with a legitimate right to defend themselves within the parameters of international law and moral judgment. But I am saying two things:

    1. Our adamant support of Israel in all cases is inexplicable and is increasingly working against our favor. It’s time to reevaluate our stance here. We cannot go investing our national treasure in every nation for which we feel sympathy and which claims the name “democratic”, as nice as such aims are, especially when to do so results in grave dangers to our national and diplomatic interests. It’s time to critically examine the inquiry of whether Israel can defend itself (being the only nuclear power in the Mid-East, I am certain that it can) and whether our unwavering commitment to her is either necessary or beneficial (neither, I am certain).

    2. The Arab world (which is not, in fact, 110% Muslim, much less extreme, terroristic Muslim) has pragmatic reasons for hating us, apart from the religious reasons of the minority of fanatics. Those reasons would include, amongst other things, establishing tyranny in Iran via a coup, continually interfering in the affairs of Middle Eastern nations (often with military force), taking land from Palestine to create and then militarily support the nation of Israel, maintaining ethnic conflicts in other arbitrarily created nations like Iraq (a country whose borders bear absolutely no relation to ethnic or geographical ties), and in general screwing around in and screwing up the Arab world. Our continual pursuit of such policies (all in an imperial day’s work, apparently) are also working against our favor, depending upon how you define our favor. I would define it, at least in part, as not having entire segments of the globe hate us to such an extent that they are willing to pursue nuclear weapons, terrorism, oil cartels, and other more or less violent means to render our peaceful existence difficult. Withdrawing support for Israel would not suddenly make the Arabs love us, but then again, our adamant support for Israel is, in fact, directly fueling their hatred.

    But I would love to hear more about what “History, History, and History” would tell us about the dire consequences to America were we to alter our Middle Eastern policies. Apparently something on the hyperbolic order of World War II and Nazi Germany?

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror: I’m not necessarily arguing that we should withdraw our support from Israel carte blanche. After all, they are, whether I like it or not, a sovereign nation with a legitimate right to defend themselves within the parameters of international law and moral judgment. But I am saying two things:

    1. Our adamant support of Israel in all cases is inexplicable and is increasingly working against our favor. It’s time to reevaluate our stance here. We cannot go investing our national treasure in every nation for which we feel sympathy and which claims the name “democratic”, as nice as such aims are, especially when to do so results in grave dangers to our national and diplomatic interests. It’s time to critically examine the inquiry of whether Israel can defend itself (being the only nuclear power in the Mid-East, I am certain that it can) and whether our unwavering commitment to her is either necessary or beneficial (neither, I am certain).

    2. The Arab world (which is not, in fact, 110% Muslim, much less extreme, terroristic Muslim) has pragmatic reasons for hating us, apart from the religious reasons of the minority of fanatics. Those reasons would include, amongst other things, establishing tyranny in Iran via a coup, continually interfering in the affairs of Middle Eastern nations (often with military force), taking land from Palestine to create and then militarily support the nation of Israel, maintaining ethnic conflicts in other arbitrarily created nations like Iraq (a country whose borders bear absolutely no relation to ethnic or geographical ties), and in general screwing around in and screwing up the Arab world. Our continual pursuit of such policies (all in an imperial day’s work, apparently) are also working against our favor, depending upon how you define our favor. I would define it, at least in part, as not having entire segments of the globe hate us to such an extent that they are willing to pursue nuclear weapons, terrorism, oil cartels, and other more or less violent means to render our peaceful existence difficult. Withdrawing support for Israel would not suddenly make the Arabs love us, but then again, our adamant support for Israel is, in fact, directly fueling their hatred.

    But I would love to hear more about what “History, History, and History” would tell us about the dire consequences to America were we to alter our Middle Eastern policies. Apparently something on the hyperbolic order of World War II and Nazi Germany?

  • Albert

    Bror,

    You said: “We probably support them because their existence is due to Palestine breaking a treaty . . .” What treaty was that?

    Also, about the democracy in Israel. Can a non-Jew be prime minister or president in Israel? They don’t insist on calling themselves the “Jewish state” for no reason.

    Albert

  • Albert

    Bror,

    You said: “We probably support them because their existence is due to Palestine breaking a treaty . . .” What treaty was that?

    Also, about the democracy in Israel. Can a non-Jew be prime minister or president in Israel? They don’t insist on calling themselves the “Jewish state” for no reason.

    Albert

  • Albert

    Cincinnatus,

    You rightly mention the Arab world’s pragmatic reasons for hating the US. I will never forget during the Israeli war in Lebanon, after a bombing run, the news crew was in one of the Lebanese devastated villages. The reporter stood by a wall where the following words were graffitied in Arabic: “From Reagan to Begin to the bodies of our children.” An obvious reference to bombs and bullets. It was a vivid and unmistakable picture of how the Arabs perceive the unflappable US support of Israel’s war machine.

    Albert

  • Albert

    Cincinnatus,

    You rightly mention the Arab world’s pragmatic reasons for hating the US. I will never forget during the Israeli war in Lebanon, after a bombing run, the news crew was in one of the Lebanese devastated villages. The reporter stood by a wall where the following words were graffitied in Arabic: “From Reagan to Begin to the bodies of our children.” An obvious reference to bombs and bullets. It was a vivid and unmistakable picture of how the Arabs perceive the unflappable US support of Israel’s war machine.

    Albert

  • kerner

    Bror:

    The US didn’t break the colonial grip of France and Great Britain on the middle east. France was too weak afterWWII to hold onto Algeria (whose population was 15-20% ethnic French), much less hold onto Syria. And Great Britain was in much the same position with Iraq, Jordan and Palestine.

    Britain’s biggest problem was that during WWI they had pomised zionists support for establishment of Israel in return for support for its war effort; and it also promised the Arab subjects of the Ottoman Empire indepndence in return for helping Britain fight the Turks. Britain got into trouble when, after WWII, both allies showed up in Palestine to collect.

    For an ironic aside, read your history of jewish refugee ships running Britain’s naval blockade of Palestine in the 1940′s. In fact, read of how Israel was willing to engage in what would now be considered terrorism in order to establish their presence and nationhood. I don’t hold that against Israel today, but it does make me a little less condemnitive of the Palestinians now that the shoe is on the other foot.

    And there’s no way we can say for sure what our relationship would be with the Islamic world had we spent our efforts in the mid-east forging alliances with the Arabs instead of gratuitously pi$$ing them off.

    Alas, I may have to concede your point that things are in such a state today that just throwing up our hands and walking away would be seen by some as weakness and invite more agression. But the situation today wasn’t inevitable.

  • kerner

    Bror:

    The US didn’t break the colonial grip of France and Great Britain on the middle east. France was too weak afterWWII to hold onto Algeria (whose population was 15-20% ethnic French), much less hold onto Syria. And Great Britain was in much the same position with Iraq, Jordan and Palestine.

    Britain’s biggest problem was that during WWI they had pomised zionists support for establishment of Israel in return for support for its war effort; and it also promised the Arab subjects of the Ottoman Empire indepndence in return for helping Britain fight the Turks. Britain got into trouble when, after WWII, both allies showed up in Palestine to collect.

    For an ironic aside, read your history of jewish refugee ships running Britain’s naval blockade of Palestine in the 1940′s. In fact, read of how Israel was willing to engage in what would now be considered terrorism in order to establish their presence and nationhood. I don’t hold that against Israel today, but it does make me a little less condemnitive of the Palestinians now that the shoe is on the other foot.

    And there’s no way we can say for sure what our relationship would be with the Islamic world had we spent our efforts in the mid-east forging alliances with the Arabs instead of gratuitously pi$$ing them off.

    Alas, I may have to concede your point that things are in such a state today that just throwing up our hands and walking away would be seen by some as weakness and invite more agression. But the situation today wasn’t inevitable.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Albert,
    Had the Palestinians not broken the Balfour Treaty, the west would have backed them. They would still have the state they wanted. But instead they went for genocide, the Jews living in their care had no other option but to fight for their lives.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Albert,
    Had the Palestinians not broken the Balfour Treaty, the west would have backed them. They would still have the state they wanted. But instead they went for genocide, the Jews living in their care had no other option but to fight for their lives.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinattus,
    IF you are really interested then you can read, among others, “A Peace to End All Peace,” “The Ottoman Centuries” just about anything by Bernard Lewis, such as “the middle East” and “What went Wrong.”

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinattus,
    IF you are really interested then you can read, among others, “A Peace to End All Peace,” “The Ottoman Centuries” just about anything by Bernard Lewis, such as “the middle East” and “What went Wrong.”

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kerner,
    I think we could possibly have made other decisions in the past, but I’m guessing given the culture, that things would not be all that different today.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kerner,
    I think we could possibly have made other decisions in the past, but I’m guessing given the culture, that things would not be all that different today.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    One more for you Cincinattus,
    “The Arab/Israeli Wars”

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    One more for you Cincinattus,
    “The Arab/Israeli Wars”

  • Albert

    Bror,

    I don’t think that the Balfour declaration was a “treaty” . It certainly wasn’t anything the Palestinians (or the inhabitants of that land) had any say in. It was a British declaration made by colonial Britain in 1917 or thereabouts promising European Jews a portion of then Palestine which was under British rule. I don’t think the inhabitants of Palestine had anything to do with it, were not consulted about it, and they certainly didn’t consent to it.

    Although I completely sympathize with the plight of European Jews in the last century, I also see some parallels with the plight of Palestinians.

    On another note, it is important to also remember that many Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Iraqi’s and others scattered throughout the Middle East are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Supporting Israel just because Israelis are more educated, have won more Nobel peace prizes or have a semblance of a democracy puts everything we’re taught in scripture about the poor (and the oppressed) on its head. In fact, many of these Christians are persecuted by their Muslim compatriots and governments precisely because they perceive that the Christian West supports a nation that oppresses Muslims. It’s a terrible bind for the Christians of the Middle East, and in IMNSHO, terribly compromises the gospel of Christ. Christian ministry to the Muslims of the Middle East has been compromised by American foreign policy and the complicity of American Evangelicals and Christian Zionists.

    Albert

  • Albert

    Bror,

    I don’t think that the Balfour declaration was a “treaty” . It certainly wasn’t anything the Palestinians (or the inhabitants of that land) had any say in. It was a British declaration made by colonial Britain in 1917 or thereabouts promising European Jews a portion of then Palestine which was under British rule. I don’t think the inhabitants of Palestine had anything to do with it, were not consulted about it, and they certainly didn’t consent to it.

    Although I completely sympathize with the plight of European Jews in the last century, I also see some parallels with the plight of Palestinians.

    On another note, it is important to also remember that many Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Iraqi’s and others scattered throughout the Middle East are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Supporting Israel just because Israelis are more educated, have won more Nobel peace prizes or have a semblance of a democracy puts everything we’re taught in scripture about the poor (and the oppressed) on its head. In fact, many of these Christians are persecuted by their Muslim compatriots and governments precisely because they perceive that the Christian West supports a nation that oppresses Muslims. It’s a terrible bind for the Christians of the Middle East, and in IMNSHO, terribly compromises the gospel of Christ. Christian ministry to the Muslims of the Middle East has been compromised by American foreign policy and the complicity of American Evangelicals and Christian Zionists.

    Albert

  • Albert

    Oh, one more comment. I don’t think one can properly say the Palestinians went for “genocide”. Jews have lived and flourished in Arab countries for centuries. It wasn’t until European Jews declared the formation of a “Jewish” state in Palestine that things turned bad.

    Albert

  • Albert

    Oh, one more comment. I don’t think one can properly say the Palestinians went for “genocide”. Jews have lived and flourished in Arab countries for centuries. It wasn’t until European Jews declared the formation of a “Jewish” state in Palestine that things turned bad.

    Albert

  • http://enterthevein.blogspot.com J. Dean

    A couple of notes about what has been posted up to this point:

    First of all, I’m quite pleased to see that this has not turned into an argument based on dispensational theology (Ah, if only my mother-in-law would read up on this!).

    Second, the judgments reached need to be based upon moral principle in each case, rather than broad generalities. Should Israel be found to act unlawfully, they should be called on the carpet for it; as should the Palestinians or the surrounding Muslim-dominant countries. It is a dangerous perversion of justice to gloss over immoral actions simply out of a motivation for sympathy or empathy to the offending party-whoever that may be.

    Has Israel acted unlawfully, more than once? Yes. Are the Palestinian Muslim movements like Hamas and Hezbollah wicked organizations? Yes. One can hold both of these positions and not be in contradiction. Again, we analyze each action on its own merits, apart from our sympathies, and come to honest conclusions about the morality of those actions.

  • http://enterthevein.blogspot.com J. Dean

    A couple of notes about what has been posted up to this point:

    First of all, I’m quite pleased to see that this has not turned into an argument based on dispensational theology (Ah, if only my mother-in-law would read up on this!).

    Second, the judgments reached need to be based upon moral principle in each case, rather than broad generalities. Should Israel be found to act unlawfully, they should be called on the carpet for it; as should the Palestinians or the surrounding Muslim-dominant countries. It is a dangerous perversion of justice to gloss over immoral actions simply out of a motivation for sympathy or empathy to the offending party-whoever that may be.

    Has Israel acted unlawfully, more than once? Yes. Are the Palestinian Muslim movements like Hamas and Hezbollah wicked organizations? Yes. One can hold both of these positions and not be in contradiction. Again, we analyze each action on its own merits, apart from our sympathies, and come to honest conclusions about the morality of those actions.

  • colliebear06

    Yes, Israel is very imperfect. Imperfect democracy, but still better than a dictatorship, the most popular type of authority in their area of the world.

    I wish that the U.N., along with the United States, had come up with a better plan for the dispersed European Jews at the end of WWII. Earlier, Britain should never have made the same stupid promise to two different groups of people. So, how do we deal with this problem today?

    Why do I get the feeling that the Jews are not just like any other ethnic minority (Kerner @8). When is the last time you heard anyone complain about their nasty boss, that typical “Scot” or “Tibetan”?

    It is a mystery to me, that this group of people come under such universal scorn.
    Probably more than anything, it is a spiritual battle, and Christians, being schooled in true spirituality, need to be most sensitive to parties involved in this sad conflict. Let’s study history, and learn from it, assign blame where it’s warrented but also encourage forgiveness, in large doses.

  • colliebear06

    Yes, Israel is very imperfect. Imperfect democracy, but still better than a dictatorship, the most popular type of authority in their area of the world.

    I wish that the U.N., along with the United States, had come up with a better plan for the dispersed European Jews at the end of WWII. Earlier, Britain should never have made the same stupid promise to two different groups of people. So, how do we deal with this problem today?

    Why do I get the feeling that the Jews are not just like any other ethnic minority (Kerner @8). When is the last time you heard anyone complain about their nasty boss, that typical “Scot” or “Tibetan”?

    It is a mystery to me, that this group of people come under such universal scorn.
    Probably more than anything, it is a spiritual battle, and Christians, being schooled in true spirituality, need to be most sensitive to parties involved in this sad conflict. Let’s study history, and learn from it, assign blame where it’s warrented but also encourage forgiveness, in large doses.

  • kerner

    Bror:

    The Balfour declaration was what I was talking about when I said that the British promised zionists a homeland in Palestine. But they also promised the Arabs under Ottoman rule their own independence as well, and the Arabs living in Palestine, as far as I know, didn’t know that their homeland had been promised to someone else. Effectively, the British promised the same country to two groups of people. After WWII, both groups demanded that the British keep their word, which was impossible. For awhile, the Brits tried to control the area and keep everybody happy by limiting jewish immigration, but they couldn’t do it without violence against the Jews who refused to stop coming. Finally the Brits just gave up and left Palestine to its own devices.

    When the U.N. (not my favorite organization) stepped in, they sent Count Folke Bernadotte, of Sweden, to mediate the dispute. When Bernadotte proposed terms the Israelis considered unfavorable, jewish terrorists (the Stern Gang, and maybe the Irgun) murdered him.

    This is hardly “the Palestinians breaking a treaty”. There was plenty of violence and bloodshed on both sides. And neither side was of a mind to compromise.

    Once again, that was over 60 years ago, and I’m not going to hold it all against Israel now. But it is not accurate to portray the Israelis as a bunch of peaceful, picked upon, victims. They came to take that land away by force from the people who were, and still are, there.

  • kerner

    Bror:

    The Balfour declaration was what I was talking about when I said that the British promised zionists a homeland in Palestine. But they also promised the Arabs under Ottoman rule their own independence as well, and the Arabs living in Palestine, as far as I know, didn’t know that their homeland had been promised to someone else. Effectively, the British promised the same country to two groups of people. After WWII, both groups demanded that the British keep their word, which was impossible. For awhile, the Brits tried to control the area and keep everybody happy by limiting jewish immigration, but they couldn’t do it without violence against the Jews who refused to stop coming. Finally the Brits just gave up and left Palestine to its own devices.

    When the U.N. (not my favorite organization) stepped in, they sent Count Folke Bernadotte, of Sweden, to mediate the dispute. When Bernadotte proposed terms the Israelis considered unfavorable, jewish terrorists (the Stern Gang, and maybe the Irgun) murdered him.

    This is hardly “the Palestinians breaking a treaty”. There was plenty of violence and bloodshed on both sides. And neither side was of a mind to compromise.

    Once again, that was over 60 years ago, and I’m not going to hold it all against Israel now. But it is not accurate to portray the Israelis as a bunch of peaceful, picked upon, victims. They came to take that land away by force from the people who were, and still are, there.

  • Carl Vehse

    Another column dealing with the Gaza flotilla incident and the Turkish ambassador’s demand that Israel apologize is Victor Davis Hanson’s “Should Jews Apologize to Turkey or Go Back to Poland and Germany?

  • Carl Vehse

    Another column dealing with the Gaza flotilla incident and the Turkish ambassador’s demand that Israel apologize is Victor Davis Hanson’s “Should Jews Apologize to Turkey or Go Back to Poland and Germany?

  • Pingback: the sad red earth » Politics as a Continuation of War by Other Means (Update)

  • Pingback: the sad red earth » Politics as a Continuation of War by Other Means (Update)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kerner,
    Well if what you are saying is true then I read the Arab-Israeli wars wrong, or Chaim Herzog lied outright.
    The Palestinians according to his recollection of events and everyone else I know were given home rule by the Brits, on the condition that they let the Jews live in that area where many had already been living. The Palestinians would have a military the Jews would not. The Jews would be under the protective custody of the Palestinians. However the day after Britain left, Palestine invited its neighbors, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria to come in and “help them exterminate the Jews and drive them into the sea.” (which sounds an awful lot like genocide.) The Jews then repelled four armies of tanks with Molotov cocktails, and a few rifles, until they were supplied with better weaponry from Moscow.
    So the Palestinians made their bed and continue to deficate in it and I find it hard to be sympathetic to them.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kerner,
    Well if what you are saying is true then I read the Arab-Israeli wars wrong, or Chaim Herzog lied outright.
    The Palestinians according to his recollection of events and everyone else I know were given home rule by the Brits, on the condition that they let the Jews live in that area where many had already been living. The Palestinians would have a military the Jews would not. The Jews would be under the protective custody of the Palestinians. However the day after Britain left, Palestine invited its neighbors, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria to come in and “help them exterminate the Jews and drive them into the sea.” (which sounds an awful lot like genocide.) The Jews then repelled four armies of tanks with Molotov cocktails, and a few rifles, until they were supplied with better weaponry from Moscow.
    So the Palestinians made their bed and continue to deficate in it and I find it hard to be sympathetic to them.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Albert,
    And the palestinians invited their friends to exterminate the Jews, before the Jews had opportunity to declare a Jewish State.
    Perhaps the Jews were planning on it. I suspect they were. But I would be more inclined to hear the Palestinians out if they had even made an attempt to look like they were honoring the agreement with Britain.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Albert,
    And the palestinians invited their friends to exterminate the Jews, before the Jews had opportunity to declare a Jewish State.
    Perhaps the Jews were planning on it. I suspect they were. But I would be more inclined to hear the Palestinians out if they had even made an attempt to look like they were honoring the agreement with Britain.

  • Albert

    Bror,

    There was no agreement with Britain. There was only a unilateral British declaration giving the Palestinians’ land to European Jewry. There’s nothing for the Palestinians to honor. It’s like saying Canada agreed to give California back to Mexico (if Canada could do that). Us Americans would have a bit of an issue with such an “agreement”! No?

    Also, the 1948 war was not declared until Israel proclaimed itself a new nation in the Palestinian homeland! As far as I know the Arab Nations were still colonial entities and the British and French quickly intervened to stop any conflagrations.

    Israel has cast itself as the victim from day one. I understand that because Jews have been victimized. But, it’s not the entire truth. There are a lot of victims in this conflict that are not Israelis. The world wide diaspora of Palestinians is much less publicized but it’s a fact. They don’t live in refugee camps in Lebanon and in the impoverished Gaza strip and the West bank because they are the aggressors.

    Finally, why would Chaim Herzog be an objective historian!!!!???? I would say Herzog and other leading Zionists had an agenda and did not shy away at all from revising history to suit their goals.

    Albert

  • Albert

    Bror,

    There was no agreement with Britain. There was only a unilateral British declaration giving the Palestinians’ land to European Jewry. There’s nothing for the Palestinians to honor. It’s like saying Canada agreed to give California back to Mexico (if Canada could do that). Us Americans would have a bit of an issue with such an “agreement”! No?

    Also, the 1948 war was not declared until Israel proclaimed itself a new nation in the Palestinian homeland! As far as I know the Arab Nations were still colonial entities and the British and French quickly intervened to stop any conflagrations.

    Israel has cast itself as the victim from day one. I understand that because Jews have been victimized. But, it’s not the entire truth. There are a lot of victims in this conflict that are not Israelis. The world wide diaspora of Palestinians is much less publicized but it’s a fact. They don’t live in refugee camps in Lebanon and in the impoverished Gaza strip and the West bank because they are the aggressors.

    Finally, why would Chaim Herzog be an objective historian!!!!???? I would say Herzog and other leading Zionists had an agenda and did not shy away at all from revising history to suit their goals.

    Albert

  • Albert

    BTW, please don’t read into my comments any defense of the Palestinians’ use of violence, especially against civilians. I think the Palestinians and their leadership have made many many mistakes and have also acted in evil ways. But so have the Israelis. As J Dean aptly said Hamas and Hezbollah and others are evil entities, and Israel also does evil things.

    As far as I’m concerned, there is no basis in theology for the support of Israel as such. If one were to choose to support Israel it would have to be for some strategic, political or other reason.

    Albert

  • Albert

    BTW, please don’t read into my comments any defense of the Palestinians’ use of violence, especially against civilians. I think the Palestinians and their leadership have made many many mistakes and have also acted in evil ways. But so have the Israelis. As J Dean aptly said Hamas and Hezbollah and others are evil entities, and Israel also does evil things.

    As far as I’m concerned, there is no basis in theology for the support of Israel as such. If one were to choose to support Israel it would have to be for some strategic, political or other reason.

    Albert

  • Cincinnatus

    Further fun facts: The Arab League declared war on Israel only subsequent to the Jews’ arbitrary (and possibly illegal?) declaration of nationhood in 1948 on the very day that the Balfour guarantee expired. 810,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes and homeland in the ensuing conflict. Not to mention, as Albert has, that the Balfour declaration itself was a unilateral, unrequested, and unconsensual display of force by colonial Britain designed to appease Jews in both the UK itself and its colonial holdings.

    I’m not claiming that Israel is or always has been the villain (or that it’s ever been the villain, per se), but it’s equally–or perhaps more–foolish to claim that they are or always have been the heroes of the Middle East. The very existence of Israel continues to be problematic, and it is not primarily because Arabs unanimously subscribe to some kind of biblical, prophesied, genetic hatred of the descendants of an ancient Scriptural character. They hate Israel because (again, for the most part) the modern nation-state of Israel is a product of unilateral colonialism, violence, hubris, and religious fanaticism, facts still very present in living memory. The succeeding decades have presented an Israel generously armed and stubbornly, unthinkingly, almost fanatically supported at every turn by an American culture that has been quite literally hostile (at the cost of many, many lives) to other cultures in the Middle East. Does that justify terrorism by Hezbollah, Hamas, etc.? No, of course not. But it should also give us pause in assigning black-and-white categories of morality in this part of the globe.

  • Cincinnatus

    Further fun facts: The Arab League declared war on Israel only subsequent to the Jews’ arbitrary (and possibly illegal?) declaration of nationhood in 1948 on the very day that the Balfour guarantee expired. 810,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes and homeland in the ensuing conflict. Not to mention, as Albert has, that the Balfour declaration itself was a unilateral, unrequested, and unconsensual display of force by colonial Britain designed to appease Jews in both the UK itself and its colonial holdings.

    I’m not claiming that Israel is or always has been the villain (or that it’s ever been the villain, per se), but it’s equally–or perhaps more–foolish to claim that they are or always have been the heroes of the Middle East. The very existence of Israel continues to be problematic, and it is not primarily because Arabs unanimously subscribe to some kind of biblical, prophesied, genetic hatred of the descendants of an ancient Scriptural character. They hate Israel because (again, for the most part) the modern nation-state of Israel is a product of unilateral colonialism, violence, hubris, and religious fanaticism, facts still very present in living memory. The succeeding decades have presented an Israel generously armed and stubbornly, unthinkingly, almost fanatically supported at every turn by an American culture that has been quite literally hostile (at the cost of many, many lives) to other cultures in the Middle East. Does that justify terrorism by Hezbollah, Hamas, etc.? No, of course not. But it should also give us pause in assigning black-and-white categories of morality in this part of the globe.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Albert,
    I do not maintain Chaim was the most objective, but factual. And Britain as the occupier of Palestine did have the right to give it to whom they wanted. It was the condition of home rule and the Palestinians accepted them.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Albert,
    I do not maintain Chaim was the most objective, but factual. And Britain as the occupier of Palestine did have the right to give it to whom they wanted. It was the condition of home rule and the Palestinians accepted them.

  • Louis

    Bror – sure – and then they gave it to 2 different peoples. Hence…

    Also, the British was as complacent in removing Mosadegh in Iran as the US. It is all part of “The Great Game”. we are still dealing with the fall-out, and it is very, very complicated…

  • Louis

    Bror – sure – and then they gave it to 2 different peoples. Hence…

    Also, the British was as complacent in removing Mosadegh in Iran as the US. It is all part of “The Great Game”. we are still dealing with the fall-out, and it is very, very complicated…

  • ptl

    Any way you slice it, the Jewish people surely play a major role on the World’s stage…..always have and always will, shalom!

  • ptl

    Any way you slice it, the Jewish people surely play a major role on the World’s stage…..always have and always will, shalom!

  • Joe

    “Also, the country in the Middle East which grants the most freedom to Christians in the Middle East is Syria, not Israel.”

    Sorry, I know this is off the main topic, but this statement is just wrong. Lebanon is the middle east country that gives the Christian the most freedom. Indeed, the Lebanese constitution requires that a certain percentage of all seats in parliament and a set portion of the executive branch be held by Christians.

  • Joe

    “Also, the country in the Middle East which grants the most freedom to Christians in the Middle East is Syria, not Israel.”

    Sorry, I know this is off the main topic, but this statement is just wrong. Lebanon is the middle east country that gives the Christian the most freedom. Indeed, the Lebanese constitution requires that a certain percentage of all seats in parliament and a set portion of the executive branch be held by Christians.

  • Louis

    Joe – freedom on the ground. Hezbollah is not particularly friendly to Christians, whereas Damascus (for instance) holds the patriarchy of the Antiochene Orthodox Church, which goes about its business largely unfettered. Contrast this with the constant problems, humiliations etc faced by the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul, capital of the US ally Turkey….

  • Louis

    Joe – freedom on the ground. Hezbollah is not particularly friendly to Christians, whereas Damascus (for instance) holds the patriarchy of the Antiochene Orthodox Church, which goes about its business largely unfettered. Contrast this with the constant problems, humiliations etc faced by the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul, capital of the US ally Turkey….

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, while the Jewish people are clearly the ablest people in the Middle East, sensible people make no claim that they are the sole “heroes” of the Middle East. Jews are fallen like the rest of us and have made their share of individual and political mistakes.

    Also, I question your assumption that America would be better regarded in the Middle East without the millstone of support for Israel around our necks. The Palestinians and most Arabs , for one example, supported the Nazis during World War II out of hatred and resentment against the Jews and Americans well before the founding of Israel. These Arabs resent our Judeo-Christian tradition that they well know is a major factor in the successful development of America and Israel

    Seven Rosen writing in the WSJ today writes:

    Anti-American feelings in Turkey exist independently of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, but these three phenomena are mutually reinforcing and convergent. More disturbingly, parallels to these trends pervade much of the Muslim world. What the flotilla incident demonstrates is that igniting this tinderbox of hostility toward Israel, Jews and America does not take much of a spark.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, while the Jewish people are clearly the ablest people in the Middle East, sensible people make no claim that they are the sole “heroes” of the Middle East. Jews are fallen like the rest of us and have made their share of individual and political mistakes.

    Also, I question your assumption that America would be better regarded in the Middle East without the millstone of support for Israel around our necks. The Palestinians and most Arabs , for one example, supported the Nazis during World War II out of hatred and resentment against the Jews and Americans well before the founding of Israel. These Arabs resent our Judeo-Christian tradition that they well know is a major factor in the successful development of America and Israel

    Seven Rosen writing in the WSJ today writes:

    Anti-American feelings in Turkey exist independently of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, but these three phenomena are mutually reinforcing and convergent. More disturbingly, parallels to these trends pervade much of the Muslim world. What the flotilla incident demonstrates is that igniting this tinderbox of hostility toward Israel, Jews and America does not take much of a spark.

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, I don’t have much to say to your claim that the Jews are the “ablest” people in the Middle East (I don’t even know what that means, but it sounds vaguely racist), but nowhere in your comment do I see any kind of justification for the kind of adamant support we’ve been giving Israel.

    Your comment only does two things:

    1. Sets forth a rather absurd argument that Palestinian/Arab hatred of Israel is rooted in petty jealousy. Really? So Palestinians are willing to engage in suicide bombing simply because the Jews have more stuff? Don’t be silly. Maybe, just maybe, this kind of jealousy is rooted in the more relevant fact that Israeli prosperity is happening on land that was quite literally stolen from Arabs and is funded and armed by the United States. Again, both sides are at fault here.

    2. Your comment, and the quote you cite (assuming the Wall Street Journal is a respectable source for unbiased commentary on history and foreign affairs), only corroborates a claim that no one here is disputing: that the Arabs hate the Jews/Israel/America (and vice versa). We all know this, so what’s your point? It still provides no explanation as to why such hatred exists. I’m arguing that such hatred is rooted not primarily in an irrational religious frenzy (Arabs hate Jews and they always will! Their culture is a culture of hate! It’s in the Bible!) but in more typical, pragmatic, and, in fact, legitimate geopolitical grievances–which is certainly a more plausible claim than reducing Middle Eastern conflict to materialistic jealousy.

    Note: I am not justifying terrorism. I am, once again, arguing that Israel, too, is founded in “the taint of sin and the stench of corruption,” and there are very good, practical reasons for reexamining America’s unthinking support for all things Israel. What are we gaining–diplomatically, financially, militarily, etc.–by condoning Israel every time she bombs a Palestinian settlement or forces thousands more Palestinians (including Christians) into refugee camps? We’re far beyond the point where we can play the “but they started it game!” because not only is it absurd (really? our justification is that they “started it” 60 years ago?) but it is also untrue (the truth is that we started it). The hard truth is that most of the current turmoil in the Middle East is recoil from our own penchant to meddle in global affairs where we do not belong.

    In sum, all I am claiming (along with Albert and others) is that Israel is a nation like all others, guilty of at least as many indiscretions as all others. Given its actions, it is probably not morally or politically superior to its neighbors, and it is time, thus, to assess our commitments there.

    And as a Christian, should it not concern you that Israel treats Christians within its borders far more brutally than most of its neighbors, the supposed enemies, do?

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, I don’t have much to say to your claim that the Jews are the “ablest” people in the Middle East (I don’t even know what that means, but it sounds vaguely racist), but nowhere in your comment do I see any kind of justification for the kind of adamant support we’ve been giving Israel.

    Your comment only does two things:

    1. Sets forth a rather absurd argument that Palestinian/Arab hatred of Israel is rooted in petty jealousy. Really? So Palestinians are willing to engage in suicide bombing simply because the Jews have more stuff? Don’t be silly. Maybe, just maybe, this kind of jealousy is rooted in the more relevant fact that Israeli prosperity is happening on land that was quite literally stolen from Arabs and is funded and armed by the United States. Again, both sides are at fault here.

    2. Your comment, and the quote you cite (assuming the Wall Street Journal is a respectable source for unbiased commentary on history and foreign affairs), only corroborates a claim that no one here is disputing: that the Arabs hate the Jews/Israel/America (and vice versa). We all know this, so what’s your point? It still provides no explanation as to why such hatred exists. I’m arguing that such hatred is rooted not primarily in an irrational religious frenzy (Arabs hate Jews and they always will! Their culture is a culture of hate! It’s in the Bible!) but in more typical, pragmatic, and, in fact, legitimate geopolitical grievances–which is certainly a more plausible claim than reducing Middle Eastern conflict to materialistic jealousy.

    Note: I am not justifying terrorism. I am, once again, arguing that Israel, too, is founded in “the taint of sin and the stench of corruption,” and there are very good, practical reasons for reexamining America’s unthinking support for all things Israel. What are we gaining–diplomatically, financially, militarily, etc.–by condoning Israel every time she bombs a Palestinian settlement or forces thousands more Palestinians (including Christians) into refugee camps? We’re far beyond the point where we can play the “but they started it game!” because not only is it absurd (really? our justification is that they “started it” 60 years ago?) but it is also untrue (the truth is that we started it). The hard truth is that most of the current turmoil in the Middle East is recoil from our own penchant to meddle in global affairs where we do not belong.

    In sum, all I am claiming (along with Albert and others) is that Israel is a nation like all others, guilty of at least as many indiscretions as all others. Given its actions, it is probably not morally or politically superior to its neighbors, and it is time, thus, to assess our commitments there.

    And as a Christian, should it not concern you that Israel treats Christians within its borders far more brutally than most of its neighbors, the supposed enemies, do?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, the Jewish people historically have far out-performed the Arabs, intellectually, in the arts and sciences, and economically. This is a matter of fact, not “racism. In truth the Jews, also, disproportionately perform better than most American ethnic groups.

    When it comes to treatment of palestinian Arabs, according to David Meir Levi Here writes:

    In short: In Israel, on the other hand, the Arabs who did not flee numbered about 170,000 in 1949; and now number more than 1,400,000. They [have] 12 representatives in the Israel Parliament, judges sitting on the Israeli supreme court bench, and Ph.D’s and tenured professors teaching in Israeli colleges and universities. They are a population that enjoys more freedom, education, and economic opportunity than do any comparable Arab populations anywhere in the Arab world. The Arab rulers caused the Arab refugee problem in 1948 by their war of aggression against the infant state of Israel, a legal creation of the United Nations; the Arab rulers have since maintained the Arab refugee population and and denied it any possibility of normal life in Arab countries in order to use the suffering they themselves have caused it as a weapon in their unending war against Israel.

    On the treatment of Christians Levi writes:

    And note in this context that Israel is run by rule of law. A Christian Israeli who feels that the government is not treating him fairly has the option to go to court, including up to Israel’s version of the Supreme Court (the Israeli High Court of Justice) and challenge the government. A number of Muslim challenges to Israeli government decisions regarding land, buildingsAnd note in this context that Israel is run by rule of law. A Christian Israeli who feels that the government is not treating him fairly has the option to go to court, including up to Israel’s version of the Supreme Court (the Israeli High Court of Justice) and challenge the government. A number of Muslim challenges to Israeli government decisions regarding land, buildings, the course of the defensive barrier, etc., have been decided in favor of the Muslim Arab plaintiffs. There is no reason to think that a Christian plaintiff would fare any worse.

    America until quite recently under Obama has been a staunch though hardly uncritical ally of Israel. Most presidents who have examined the subject have regarded the support of Israel to be very much in the vital interest of our nation. The problem just now is that mainly the Left and the heartland isolationists, much like Chamberlain in the Thirties, don’t want to pay the hard price of standing by this brave and worthy people.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, the Jewish people historically have far out-performed the Arabs, intellectually, in the arts and sciences, and economically. This is a matter of fact, not “racism. In truth the Jews, also, disproportionately perform better than most American ethnic groups.

    When it comes to treatment of palestinian Arabs, according to David Meir Levi Here writes:

    In short: In Israel, on the other hand, the Arabs who did not flee numbered about 170,000 in 1949; and now number more than 1,400,000. They [have] 12 representatives in the Israel Parliament, judges sitting on the Israeli supreme court bench, and Ph.D’s and tenured professors teaching in Israeli colleges and universities. They are a population that enjoys more freedom, education, and economic opportunity than do any comparable Arab populations anywhere in the Arab world. The Arab rulers caused the Arab refugee problem in 1948 by their war of aggression against the infant state of Israel, a legal creation of the United Nations; the Arab rulers have since maintained the Arab refugee population and and denied it any possibility of normal life in Arab countries in order to use the suffering they themselves have caused it as a weapon in their unending war against Israel.

    On the treatment of Christians Levi writes:

    And note in this context that Israel is run by rule of law. A Christian Israeli who feels that the government is not treating him fairly has the option to go to court, including up to Israel’s version of the Supreme Court (the Israeli High Court of Justice) and challenge the government. A number of Muslim challenges to Israeli government decisions regarding land, buildingsAnd note in this context that Israel is run by rule of law. A Christian Israeli who feels that the government is not treating him fairly has the option to go to court, including up to Israel’s version of the Supreme Court (the Israeli High Court of Justice) and challenge the government. A number of Muslim challenges to Israeli government decisions regarding land, buildings, the course of the defensive barrier, etc., have been decided in favor of the Muslim Arab plaintiffs. There is no reason to think that a Christian plaintiff would fare any worse.

    America until quite recently under Obama has been a staunch though hardly uncritical ally of Israel. Most presidents who have examined the subject have regarded the support of Israel to be very much in the vital interest of our nation. The problem just now is that mainly the Left and the heartland isolationists, much like Chamberlain in the Thirties, don’t want to pay the hard price of standing by this brave and worthy people.

  • Louis

    Peter,

    I wasn’t going to say anything. But the crux of your argument here is – race. I grew up amongst racists. I’ve seen discrimination, and I’ve been discriminated against. There are many reasons people from one ethnicity seem to outperform people from another – history, access to education, culture, wars, discrimination, “pure chance (luck of the draw in history)” – but that is absolutely no reson to go and make statements, much less policy decisions. I’m calling it as I see it:

    You, sir, are a racist. Repent.

  • Louis

    Peter,

    I wasn’t going to say anything. But the crux of your argument here is – race. I grew up amongst racists. I’ve seen discrimination, and I’ve been discriminated against. There are many reasons people from one ethnicity seem to outperform people from another – history, access to education, culture, wars, discrimination, “pure chance (luck of the draw in history)” – but that is absolutely no reson to go and make statements, much less policy decisions. I’m calling it as I see it:

    You, sir, are a racist. Repent.

  • kerner

    For anyone who wants to read about the attitudes of Christians, or at least Christian leadership, in Israel/Palestine, read here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Sabbah

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodosios_(Hanna)_of_Sebastia

    http://www.elcjhl.org/admin/bishop/bishop.asp

    and I hope these links work.

    I don’t know the details of the olitics of these people, but they hold positions of authority in th Church in that place.

  • kerner

    For anyone who wants to read about the attitudes of Christians, or at least Christian leadership, in Israel/Palestine, read here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Sabbah

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodosios_(Hanna)_of_Sebastia

    http://www.elcjhl.org/admin/bishop/bishop.asp

    and I hope these links work.

    I don’t know the details of the olitics of these people, but they hold positions of authority in th Church in that place.

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter: I won’t go so far as to call you a racist. To be fair, you’ve declined to define how, exactly, the Arabs are inferior to the Jews. If it is institutionally and culturally, we may have an argument. If it is genetically, you should be prepared to accept Louis’s label. Either way, you have to be careful when declaring one people “inferior” to another.

    That said, you’re still not justifying our support for Israel. We’ve gone from Palestinian jealousy to the claim that the Jews are “brave” and “worthy.” First of all, what do those words even mean? In contrast to what “cowardly” and “unworthy” people (and here racism would be a danger once again)? And since when did “bravery” become the standard by which we evaluate our international commitments? There are plenty of “brave” peoples in the world we don’t support, and we support plenty of nations which aren’t exactly renowned for bravery on the international stage (Japan and its non-existent military, for instance). I’m just baffled here. Why should we support Israel because it is brave, and what are our standards for bravery? And is routinely bombing Palestinian settlements “brave”?

    Absurd.

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter: I won’t go so far as to call you a racist. To be fair, you’ve declined to define how, exactly, the Arabs are inferior to the Jews. If it is institutionally and culturally, we may have an argument. If it is genetically, you should be prepared to accept Louis’s label. Either way, you have to be careful when declaring one people “inferior” to another.

    That said, you’re still not justifying our support for Israel. We’ve gone from Palestinian jealousy to the claim that the Jews are “brave” and “worthy.” First of all, what do those words even mean? In contrast to what “cowardly” and “unworthy” people (and here racism would be a danger once again)? And since when did “bravery” become the standard by which we evaluate our international commitments? There are plenty of “brave” peoples in the world we don’t support, and we support plenty of nations which aren’t exactly renowned for bravery on the international stage (Japan and its non-existent military, for instance). I’m just baffled here. Why should we support Israel because it is brave, and what are our standards for bravery? And is routinely bombing Palestinian settlements “brave”?

    Absurd.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Louis, you sir are an egalitarian, the rank emotional view from which able people are often rather discriminated against. I shan’t be foolish enough to ask for your repentance, though you might reflect on the fact that, other than before God and the law, people and peoples most definitely have degrees of perfection.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Louis, you sir are an egalitarian, the rank emotional view from which able people are often rather discriminated against. I shan’t be foolish enough to ask for your repentance, though you might reflect on the fact that, other than before God and the law, people and peoples most definitely have degrees of perfection.

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter: You’ve been reading too much “Alternative Right.” Where do “peoples” (not necessarily individuals) achieve “degrees of perfection”? Most Jews in America “outperform” other cultures because most Jewish immigrants to the United States during the first half of the twentieth century came from stable family and cultural backgrounds that valued (and still value) education, excellence, and achievement. This is the same reason that most blacks in America underperform: most were raised in a culture that does not value education, excellence, and achievement. There is nothing meaningfully genetically superior about Jews or inferior about blacks, even accounting for a small amount of “selective breeding” (perhaps Jews in America are more inclined to encourage their children to seek intelligent and successful mates). In fact, I can’t believe we’re having this discussion.

    And even if Jewish culture is somehow “superior” to Arab culture–a claim which depends 100% upon the metric you use (yours is apparently material success)–how is that a valid reason for maintaining an unswerving commitment to Israel, at great cost to our diplomatic standing and military resources? This portion of the discussion is irrelevant and ludicrous: we don’t form strategic alliances only with nations and peoples we deem “worthy,” “successful,” “brave,” or “superior.” That’s completely absurd. Or perhaps we do in the lone case of Israel–a fact which would accentuate the need to question the nature of such an alliance.

    I quite literally do not care whatsoever whether the Jews in Israel are more prosperous than the Palestinians–or whatever claim of superiority you decide to make next. It’s doesn’t matter; it’s certainly not a compelling justification for continued support of Israel in all things. In fact, I’m still waiting for such a justification–from anyone. Literally no one has provided a justification worthy of consideration thus far.

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter: You’ve been reading too much “Alternative Right.” Where do “peoples” (not necessarily individuals) achieve “degrees of perfection”? Most Jews in America “outperform” other cultures because most Jewish immigrants to the United States during the first half of the twentieth century came from stable family and cultural backgrounds that valued (and still value) education, excellence, and achievement. This is the same reason that most blacks in America underperform: most were raised in a culture that does not value education, excellence, and achievement. There is nothing meaningfully genetically superior about Jews or inferior about blacks, even accounting for a small amount of “selective breeding” (perhaps Jews in America are more inclined to encourage their children to seek intelligent and successful mates). In fact, I can’t believe we’re having this discussion.

    And even if Jewish culture is somehow “superior” to Arab culture–a claim which depends 100% upon the metric you use (yours is apparently material success)–how is that a valid reason for maintaining an unswerving commitment to Israel, at great cost to our diplomatic standing and military resources? This portion of the discussion is irrelevant and ludicrous: we don’t form strategic alliances only with nations and peoples we deem “worthy,” “successful,” “brave,” or “superior.” That’s completely absurd. Or perhaps we do in the lone case of Israel–a fact which would accentuate the need to question the nature of such an alliance.

    I quite literally do not care whatsoever whether the Jews in Israel are more prosperous than the Palestinians–or whatever claim of superiority you decide to make next. It’s doesn’t matter; it’s certainly not a compelling justification for continued support of Israel in all things. In fact, I’m still waiting for such a justification–from anyone. Literally no one has provided a justification worthy of consideration thus far.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Peter,
    Is that seriously your answer? People and peoples have degrees of perfection? Really?
    Israel has done well. It has had the funds and the know how. They continue to do so. The rest of the middle east seems to produce less than the country of Finland, the raw good of oil put aside. That is not something that has happened in a vacuum. Islam has thoroughly destroyed their culture’s ability to advance with the rest of the world. It has not encouraged learning and the sciences. Militarily the tide turned with their final siege on the gates of Vienna, they have not excelled in that art either.
    But this does not need to be so. The same thing could be said for Israel had they not been in a European environment throughout the Renaissance, and if it wasn’t for the fact that most of them have abandoned most any resemblance of faith, even if they still for cultural reasons refuse to eat lobster and have a family meal on Friday night.
    But the Arabs are not inherently inferior to the Jews. That sort of racism is born out of a despicable romanticism, by which dumb white guys think they are superior because of what a few smart white guys have been able to do in excelling their peers. Yet other cultures produce their own geniuses. The Arabs have had theirs despite Islam, so have the Turks.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Peter,
    Is that seriously your answer? People and peoples have degrees of perfection? Really?
    Israel has done well. It has had the funds and the know how. They continue to do so. The rest of the middle east seems to produce less than the country of Finland, the raw good of oil put aside. That is not something that has happened in a vacuum. Islam has thoroughly destroyed their culture’s ability to advance with the rest of the world. It has not encouraged learning and the sciences. Militarily the tide turned with their final siege on the gates of Vienna, they have not excelled in that art either.
    But this does not need to be so. The same thing could be said for Israel had they not been in a European environment throughout the Renaissance, and if it wasn’t for the fact that most of them have abandoned most any resemblance of faith, even if they still for cultural reasons refuse to eat lobster and have a family meal on Friday night.
    But the Arabs are not inherently inferior to the Jews. That sort of racism is born out of a despicable romanticism, by which dumb white guys think they are superior because of what a few smart white guys have been able to do in excelling their peers. Yet other cultures produce their own geniuses. The Arabs have had theirs despite Islam, so have the Turks.

  • Louis

    Peter – egalitarian? If you mean that I don’t view one race as superior to the other, I’d gladly take the label. I’m an Afrikaner. I know discrimination from both sides. I’ve been denied job oppurtunities because of my skin colour. I’ve been excluded because of my ethnicity. I’ve also been privileged because of both. I spent time in rich neighbourhoods, and poor townships. I’ve worshipped with both peoples. I understand Afrikaner history, as well as black South African history. I’ve personally known neo-Nazi’s as well as Freedom-fighter types.

    I now live in Canada (does that automatically make me evil and wrong?). Local circumstances change. History plays a role. But people are always people. I ask myself, though, if I was an enquiring Arab, how would your your posts here influence me?

    My folks spent many years as missionaries, in Zambia. My father spent his own money helping his students, even paying for their lobola (dowry). At the same time, they were ardent anti-Communists.

    Don’t you come with your vilification and racism. You know nothing. About me, or about the personal struggles of people in the hot spots of the world. again I say, repent!

  • Louis

    Peter – egalitarian? If you mean that I don’t view one race as superior to the other, I’d gladly take the label. I’m an Afrikaner. I know discrimination from both sides. I’ve been denied job oppurtunities because of my skin colour. I’ve been excluded because of my ethnicity. I’ve also been privileged because of both. I spent time in rich neighbourhoods, and poor townships. I’ve worshipped with both peoples. I understand Afrikaner history, as well as black South African history. I’ve personally known neo-Nazi’s as well as Freedom-fighter types.

    I now live in Canada (does that automatically make me evil and wrong?). Local circumstances change. History plays a role. But people are always people. I ask myself, though, if I was an enquiring Arab, how would your your posts here influence me?

    My folks spent many years as missionaries, in Zambia. My father spent his own money helping his students, even paying for their lobola (dowry). At the same time, they were ardent anti-Communists.

    Don’t you come with your vilification and racism. You know nothing. About me, or about the personal struggles of people in the hot spots of the world. again I say, repent!

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, I’ve observed in school, college, and business that on average Jewish people tend to be the brightest and savviest. Bernard Lewis once wrote that most Arabs before Islam regarded the Jews as extraordinary people of the book. After all they were the first people to serious understand and attempt to live out the consequences of ethical monotheism. Most people in the West were living as illiterate primitives at the time when the Jews started writing their rather brilliant book.

    In the Bell CurveHerrnstein and Murray found that the average IQ for African Americans (85) is lower than for Hispanic (89), White (103), East Asian (106), and Jewish Americans (113). In The Global Bell Curve, Richard Lynn shows convincingly that similar racial IQ/socio-economic hierarchies are indeed present within Africa, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.

    I’m certainly not arguing that we should ally ourselves only with nations of bright people, though one reason for doing so is that Israel in recent years has been making extraordinary scientific and technological contributions to world civilization.

    However, the main reason for our alliance is that for better or worse Israel has achieved legitimate statehood and deserves elemental justice as a state, rather than the sort of annihilation that most Middle East countries wish for it.

    In The Bell Curve, Herrnstein and Murray found that the average IQ for African Americans (85) is lower than for Hispanic (89), White (103), East Asian (106), and Jewish Americans (113). In The Global Bell Curve, Lynn shows in detail that similar racial IQ/socio-economic hierarchies are indeed present within Africa, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, I’ve observed in school, college, and business that on average Jewish people tend to be the brightest and savviest. Bernard Lewis once wrote that most Arabs before Islam regarded the Jews as extraordinary people of the book. After all they were the first people to serious understand and attempt to live out the consequences of ethical monotheism. Most people in the West were living as illiterate primitives at the time when the Jews started writing their rather brilliant book.

    In the Bell CurveHerrnstein and Murray found that the average IQ for African Americans (85) is lower than for Hispanic (89), White (103), East Asian (106), and Jewish Americans (113). In The Global Bell Curve, Richard Lynn shows convincingly that similar racial IQ/socio-economic hierarchies are indeed present within Africa, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.

    I’m certainly not arguing that we should ally ourselves only with nations of bright people, though one reason for doing so is that Israel in recent years has been making extraordinary scientific and technological contributions to world civilization.

    However, the main reason for our alliance is that for better or worse Israel has achieved legitimate statehood and deserves elemental justice as a state, rather than the sort of annihilation that most Middle East countries wish for it.

    In The Bell Curve, Herrnstein and Murray found that the average IQ for African Americans (85) is lower than for Hispanic (89), White (103), East Asian (106), and Jewish Americans (113). In The Global Bell Curve, Lynn shows in detail that similar racial IQ/socio-economic hierarchies are indeed present within Africa, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@46) said, “people and peoples most definitely have degrees of perfection.”

    Oh, well then. Can you just list those peoples and their degrees of perfection (in whatever units that’s calculated in) and we’ll just, say, make the cutoff point for American allies at the top 50?

    Also, please show your work.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@46) said, “people and peoples most definitely have degrees of perfection.”

    Oh, well then. Can you just list those peoples and their degrees of perfection (in whatever units that’s calculated in) and we’ll just, say, make the cutoff point for American allies at the top 50?

    Also, please show your work.

  • Cincinnatus

    I’m indulging you all too much, Peter, but yes, I am aware of these studies. Granting that they are valid and not dubious, so what? A ten point average difference in IQ is not the reason Israel prospers in the Middle East. It prospers because a) prior to their recent and unwelcome arrival in the Middle East, most Jews had been steeped in a European and American culture that valued above most other things education and economic success (not to mention the fact that most ultra-zionists came from wealthy families) and b) they are funded generously by America.

    In any case, not all Arabs or Arab nations desire “Israel’s annihilation” (though I could see why they might, given the historical events recounted earlier in this discussion). But, hey, maybe they wouldn’t if we at least condemned some of Israel’s trigger-happy actions and supported, say, a two-state solution or something that doesn’t evince a stubborn support of Jews over Arabs for no compelling reason. We’re going to have a hard time convincing the Middle East to stop shooting at us if we display an obstinate inability to empathize with the fact that Israel brutally oppresses Arabs within its borders, which most Arabs (with some justification) perceive to be illegitimate in the first place.

    Thought experiment: Pretend that you live in Rhode Island. One day, Canada promises to give New Jersey to the American Indians who live in Canada as a protectorate. Interestingly, Canada does not consult the people of New Jersey/the United States, but it happens anyway. On the day the protectorate expires, New Jersey declares itself an independent, Native American nation. Rhode Island and other states are, of course, rather threatened by said declaration, and would like their land back: it is theirs, after all, and they have families and other interests in New Jersey. The Rhode Island militia thus attacks. New Jersey strikes back, and their force is overwhelming. They repel your militia, but instead of returning to New Jersey, they conquer and occupy Rhode Island too. They don’t stop there: they kill many native Rhode Islanders, and expel hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders and native New Jerseyans from their states–including you. You and your fellow Americans are forced to live in refugee camps in Pennsylvania or seek asylum across the globe. Many unlucky Rhode Islanders and non-Canadian New Jerseyans remain in their state under the harsh rule of New Jersey’s Canadians, deprived of all political, economic, and individual rights. They are condemned to a life of poverty and disenfranchisement. Worse, Canada stubbornly provides New Jersey with the benefit of its vast wealth and military might, refusing to consider the plight of native New Jerseyans and Rhode Islanders.

    This is essentially what happened in Palestine in 1948 and succeeding years, and surely you can see why Palestinians might not view this story happily. Again, I am not justifying terrorism, but seriously. This story has nothing to do with cultural or genetic superiority, unless you condone a crude “natural right of the stronger.” It’s a sad story, and it defies the dictates of justice and compassion to support Israel over Palestine in all things. It certainly doesn’t serve our interests.

  • Cincinnatus

    I’m indulging you all too much, Peter, but yes, I am aware of these studies. Granting that they are valid and not dubious, so what? A ten point average difference in IQ is not the reason Israel prospers in the Middle East. It prospers because a) prior to their recent and unwelcome arrival in the Middle East, most Jews had been steeped in a European and American culture that valued above most other things education and economic success (not to mention the fact that most ultra-zionists came from wealthy families) and b) they are funded generously by America.

    In any case, not all Arabs or Arab nations desire “Israel’s annihilation” (though I could see why they might, given the historical events recounted earlier in this discussion). But, hey, maybe they wouldn’t if we at least condemned some of Israel’s trigger-happy actions and supported, say, a two-state solution or something that doesn’t evince a stubborn support of Jews over Arabs for no compelling reason. We’re going to have a hard time convincing the Middle East to stop shooting at us if we display an obstinate inability to empathize with the fact that Israel brutally oppresses Arabs within its borders, which most Arabs (with some justification) perceive to be illegitimate in the first place.

    Thought experiment: Pretend that you live in Rhode Island. One day, Canada promises to give New Jersey to the American Indians who live in Canada as a protectorate. Interestingly, Canada does not consult the people of New Jersey/the United States, but it happens anyway. On the day the protectorate expires, New Jersey declares itself an independent, Native American nation. Rhode Island and other states are, of course, rather threatened by said declaration, and would like their land back: it is theirs, after all, and they have families and other interests in New Jersey. The Rhode Island militia thus attacks. New Jersey strikes back, and their force is overwhelming. They repel your militia, but instead of returning to New Jersey, they conquer and occupy Rhode Island too. They don’t stop there: they kill many native Rhode Islanders, and expel hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders and native New Jerseyans from their states–including you. You and your fellow Americans are forced to live in refugee camps in Pennsylvania or seek asylum across the globe. Many unlucky Rhode Islanders and non-Canadian New Jerseyans remain in their state under the harsh rule of New Jersey’s Canadians, deprived of all political, economic, and individual rights. They are condemned to a life of poverty and disenfranchisement. Worse, Canada stubbornly provides New Jersey with the benefit of its vast wealth and military might, refusing to consider the plight of native New Jerseyans and Rhode Islanders.

    This is essentially what happened in Palestine in 1948 and succeeding years, and surely you can see why Palestinians might not view this story happily. Again, I am not justifying terrorism, but seriously. This story has nothing to do with cultural or genetic superiority, unless you condone a crude “natural right of the stronger.” It’s a sad story, and it defies the dictates of justice and compassion to support Israel over Palestine in all things. It certainly doesn’t serve our interests.

  • Cincinnatus

    Oh, and I must second tODD’s request. Consider that most Chinese consider themselves a superior people, and it seems, based upon your little IQ exercise, they are correct, particularly since their economy (their “success”) will soon supersede ours. On the other hand, the Chinese boast a despotic government that represses Christians and other minorities within its borders.

    So we also need to know the precise metric of superiority you are using.

  • Cincinnatus

    Oh, and I must second tODD’s request. Consider that most Chinese consider themselves a superior people, and it seems, based upon your little IQ exercise, they are correct, particularly since their economy (their “success”) will soon supersede ours. On the other hand, the Chinese boast a despotic government that represses Christians and other minorities within its borders.

    So we also need to know the precise metric of superiority you are using.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror, you’re limited by both American and Lutheran pieties on this issue of degrees of perfection among people and peoples. Probably the most cogent arguments on this subject come from the pen of Aquinas in both his Summa Theoligica and Summa Contra Gentiles. Forgive me for this reference to Roman Catholic thought.

    Please, also, note the following from my post above:

    However, the main reason for our alliance is that for better or worse Israel has achieved legitimate statehood and deserves elemental justice as a state, rather than the sort of annihilation that most Middle East countries wish for it.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Bror, you’re limited by both American and Lutheran pieties on this issue of degrees of perfection among people and peoples. Probably the most cogent arguments on this subject come from the pen of Aquinas in both his Summa Theoligica and Summa Contra Gentiles. Forgive me for this reference to Roman Catholic thought.

    Please, also, note the following from my post above:

    However, the main reason for our alliance is that for better or worse Israel has achieved legitimate statehood and deserves elemental justice as a state, rather than the sort of annihilation that most Middle East countries wish for it.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, the best recent source on the superiority of the Jews comes from George Gilder’s recent book, The Israel Test You can get a bit of the flavor of Gilder’s view from a NRO article, Choosing the Chosen People Anti-Semitism is essentially hatred of capitalism and excellence, including as follows:

    Western civilization, in part, originated in Israel. Now Israel is a crucial source of invention, military intelligence, and entrepreneurial creativity that may yet save the West. I believe Netanyahu is a Churchillian figure emerging at the perfect time to confront the jihad….

    Israel epitomizes the excellence and accomplishment of Jewish culture. It is hated by anti-Semites not because of any flaws or legal infractions but because of its unique virtues, which show up and shame the forces of mediocrity everywhere.

    Another excellent source on this is Charles Murray and Richard Hernstein’s book, The Bell Curve This book, if read carefully, aling with Gilder dislodges one from the pious slough of egalitarianism.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, the best recent source on the superiority of the Jews comes from George Gilder’s recent book, The Israel Test You can get a bit of the flavor of Gilder’s view from a NRO article, Choosing the Chosen People Anti-Semitism is essentially hatred of capitalism and excellence, including as follows:

    Western civilization, in part, originated in Israel. Now Israel is a crucial source of invention, military intelligence, and entrepreneurial creativity that may yet save the West. I believe Netanyahu is a Churchillian figure emerging at the perfect time to confront the jihad….

    Israel epitomizes the excellence and accomplishment of Jewish culture. It is hated by anti-Semites not because of any flaws or legal infractions but because of its unique virtues, which show up and shame the forces of mediocrity everywhere.

    Another excellent source on this is Charles Murray and Richard Hernstein’s book, The Bell Curve This book, if read carefully, aling with Gilder dislodges one from the pious slough of egalitarianism.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@50), I’ve observed in my time on the Internet that Massachusetts Congregationalists tend to be racists (cf. “Jewish people tend to be the brightest and savviest”).

    They also tend not to understand the provenance of the Bible: “… at the time when the Jews started writing their rather brilliant book.” Um, see, Christians regard God as the author of the book, not the Jews, and tend to credit him for its brilliance. To credit the Jews for the brilliance of the book that repeatedly documents how much they ignored the contents of that same book is, at best, odd.

    “Israel in recent years has been making extraordinary scientific and technological contributions to world civilization.” Ah, so we should also be condoning everything that China does as well? Ix-nay on the Alun-gong-Fay? You can have Taipei for all we care, as long as you keep displaying your technological and racial prowess?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@50), I’ve observed in my time on the Internet that Massachusetts Congregationalists tend to be racists (cf. “Jewish people tend to be the brightest and savviest”).

    They also tend not to understand the provenance of the Bible: “… at the time when the Jews started writing their rather brilliant book.” Um, see, Christians regard God as the author of the book, not the Jews, and tend to credit him for its brilliance. To credit the Jews for the brilliance of the book that repeatedly documents how much they ignored the contents of that same book is, at best, odd.

    “Israel in recent years has been making extraordinary scientific and technological contributions to world civilization.” Ah, so we should also be condoning everything that China does as well? Ix-nay on the Alun-gong-Fay? You can have Taipei for all we care, as long as you keep displaying your technological and racial prowess?

  • kerner

    Cincinnatus @ 53:

    Wouldn’t you thought expriment have made more sence geographically if Peter were living in Delaware? ;)

    Peter:

    Do you have any consideration of the Roman Catholic thought generated by John Paul II when he appointed an anti-zionist like Michel Sabbah to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 1987? Or that generated by Patriarch Sabbah himself?

    Frankly, I’m not particularly deferential to Papal authority, but since you are, I wonder how you take the opposition to Israeli policy by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.

    But also to clarify, I gather your argument is that the US should have a policy of supporting superior cultures under attack by inferior cultures. While I believe that argument is implicit in much pro-Israel rhetoric, you don’t often hear it asserted this directly.

  • kerner

    Cincinnatus @ 53:

    Wouldn’t you thought expriment have made more sence geographically if Peter were living in Delaware? ;)

    Peter:

    Do you have any consideration of the Roman Catholic thought generated by John Paul II when he appointed an anti-zionist like Michel Sabbah to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 1987? Or that generated by Patriarch Sabbah himself?

    Frankly, I’m not particularly deferential to Papal authority, but since you are, I wonder how you take the opposition to Israeli policy by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.

    But also to clarify, I gather your argument is that the US should have a policy of supporting superior cultures under attack by inferior cultures. While I believe that argument is implicit in much pro-Israel rhetoric, you don’t often hear it asserted this directly.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, actually the Jewish people were the first to discern an ethical monotheist God who according to the Bible were chosen by Him as a people to receive His Commandments and Revelation along with the Spirit that, as Prof. Piepkorn writes, was the principal though not sole author of Scripture.

    As to China, so far they have contributed little original intellectual work compared to the Jews and the West, though, since as The Bell Curve remarks that in terms of IQ the East Asians score above the Americans and just slightly below the Jews, we may expect better of them, assuming their leftist government gets out of the way.

    As to the Congregationalists, going back to the Seventeenth Century in New England, they were acutely aware of the reality of degrees of both moral and intellectual distinction as well as social distinction. Harvard College, for example, until rather recently openly recognized intellectual distinction and sub rosa social class distinction. John Adams, the son of a yeoman farmer from Braintree, ranked rather low in social class, according to an actual numerical rank at the time. Sorry to be a skunk at your American egalitarian lawn party.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, actually the Jewish people were the first to discern an ethical monotheist God who according to the Bible were chosen by Him as a people to receive His Commandments and Revelation along with the Spirit that, as Prof. Piepkorn writes, was the principal though not sole author of Scripture.

    As to China, so far they have contributed little original intellectual work compared to the Jews and the West, though, since as The Bell Curve remarks that in terms of IQ the East Asians score above the Americans and just slightly below the Jews, we may expect better of them, assuming their leftist government gets out of the way.

    As to the Congregationalists, going back to the Seventeenth Century in New England, they were acutely aware of the reality of degrees of both moral and intellectual distinction as well as social distinction. Harvard College, for example, until rather recently openly recognized intellectual distinction and sub rosa social class distinction. John Adams, the son of a yeoman farmer from Braintree, ranked rather low in social class, according to an actual numerical rank at the time. Sorry to be a skunk at your American egalitarian lawn party.

  • kerner

    I apologize for my typing skills. agrh.

  • kerner

    I apologize for my typing skills. agrh.

  • Louis

    Peter, you said “Todd, actually the Jewish people were the first to discern an ethical monotheist God “. Have you actually ever read the Scriptures? God revealed Himself to Abraham, father of BOTH Arabs and Jews. But your whole IQ thing, as well as these glaring omissions, reveals the hand of a racist. Your writings are remarkably similar to those from the Far right in the old South Africa, when I was growing up. Not all racists are anti-Semmite – the ones in SA were actually very pro-Israel. The apartheid government shared a lot of military expertise with Israel back in the 70′s and 80′s. Ironical, because most Jews in SA were left of centre, and wanted the unbanning of the ANC etc. The leader of the SA Communist party, Joe Slovo, was Jewish. I never could connect these incongruities.

    Also ironical is your use of the word anti-semmite. Actually, Arabs are also Semmitic, and DNA studies show the close link between these peoples.

    Face it Peter, your mask is off. I guess your virulent hatred of Obama also connects to this…??

    For the record, I’m not pro- or anti- anything when it comes to the Near East. I find it incredibly sad.

  • Louis

    Peter, you said “Todd, actually the Jewish people were the first to discern an ethical monotheist God “. Have you actually ever read the Scriptures? God revealed Himself to Abraham, father of BOTH Arabs and Jews. But your whole IQ thing, as well as these glaring omissions, reveals the hand of a racist. Your writings are remarkably similar to those from the Far right in the old South Africa, when I was growing up. Not all racists are anti-Semmite – the ones in SA were actually very pro-Israel. The apartheid government shared a lot of military expertise with Israel back in the 70′s and 80′s. Ironical, because most Jews in SA were left of centre, and wanted the unbanning of the ANC etc. The leader of the SA Communist party, Joe Slovo, was Jewish. I never could connect these incongruities.

    Also ironical is your use of the word anti-semmite. Actually, Arabs are also Semmitic, and DNA studies show the close link between these peoples.

    Face it Peter, your mask is off. I guess your virulent hatred of Obama also connects to this…??

    For the record, I’m not pro- or anti- anything when it comes to the Near East. I find it incredibly sad.

  • kerner

    I think the point tODD was making is that the Jews discerned God’s Word because God chose to reveal it to them, and that God did not so choose because He found them to be intrinsicly better people.

    In practice, God frequently chooses the humble (eg. Peter), the outcast (eg. Matthew) and His overt enemies (eg. Paul) to be His servants.

    The Bible is full of examples of God intentionally selecting servants from the ranks of the apparently least qualified. Which would explain how I got in this club.

  • kerner

    I think the point tODD was making is that the Jews discerned God’s Word because God chose to reveal it to them, and that God did not so choose because He found them to be intrinsicly better people.

    In practice, God frequently chooses the humble (eg. Peter), the outcast (eg. Matthew) and His overt enemies (eg. Paul) to be His servants.

    The Bible is full of examples of God intentionally selecting servants from the ranks of the apparently least qualified. Which would explain how I got in this club.

  • Cincinnatus

    kerner: Oops, yes, Delaware would make more sense.

    But in any case, you’re being ridiculous Peter. The Jews were one of the first to recognize monotheism (though in fact many, like Eric Voegelin, cite evidence that their monotheism is derivative of late Egyptian summodeism). So? They haven’t been very good at keeping up with the messianic times since then.

    And they aren’t the only culture (or the only culture to have contained individuals) to discover important things: Al Farabi, an Islamic philosopher, is perhaps the first to have acknowledged (rightly or wrongly) the superiority of democracy as a constitution. Pagan Greeks discovered philosophy. Theology is a creation of Plato. China discovered paper. The Gothic peoples arguably discovered individual liberty. And are you going to claim that the Jews discovered writing–perhaps the most important discovery of all?

    I’ll grant that some cultures are fortunate enough to have or produce certain individuals or to make collective discoveries that are more or less important to our current lives. But you can’t put them in rank order. How are the Jews most important? And particularly the modern Jewish nation, which bears little relation (if any) to the ancient Jewish culture. How do you “rank” intellectual discoveries, even if you can assign responsibility for them to a particular culture (itself a dubious task: look up the term “axial age”)? This is the point at which you transgress the border of empirical, historical fact into the realm of racism and ethno-centrism. So the Jews allegedly (and very much arguably) discovered monotheism some three or four thousand years ago. And that affects their current standing in the world how?

    And how do you rank cultures holistically? The American people are innovative, commercially successful, and generally civil to our own kind. We’re also fairly violent and extremely selfish and materialistic, and we’ve done much harm as well as good in the world. Where do we fit on your little scale?

    And even if you could construct a valid ranking of “superior” cultures–and I’ll say it: you can’t–why would that matter for our support of Israel? Try justifying our alliance by declaring that we support Israel because they are the “superior” people in the Middle East. I’m sure America will win loads of fans that way.

    I’m not being egalitarian, if we want to employ that term pejoratively. But I am being humble, and you should be as well. I regularly claim, quite broadly speaking, that “Western” civilization, broadly understood, is superior in its intellectual achievements throughout history. That emphatically does not imply, however, that “Westerners” are somehow individually superior to other cultures. The same applies to Jews.

  • Cincinnatus

    kerner: Oops, yes, Delaware would make more sense.

    But in any case, you’re being ridiculous Peter. The Jews were one of the first to recognize monotheism (though in fact many, like Eric Voegelin, cite evidence that their monotheism is derivative of late Egyptian summodeism). So? They haven’t been very good at keeping up with the messianic times since then.

    And they aren’t the only culture (or the only culture to have contained individuals) to discover important things: Al Farabi, an Islamic philosopher, is perhaps the first to have acknowledged (rightly or wrongly) the superiority of democracy as a constitution. Pagan Greeks discovered philosophy. Theology is a creation of Plato. China discovered paper. The Gothic peoples arguably discovered individual liberty. And are you going to claim that the Jews discovered writing–perhaps the most important discovery of all?

    I’ll grant that some cultures are fortunate enough to have or produce certain individuals or to make collective discoveries that are more or less important to our current lives. But you can’t put them in rank order. How are the Jews most important? And particularly the modern Jewish nation, which bears little relation (if any) to the ancient Jewish culture. How do you “rank” intellectual discoveries, even if you can assign responsibility for them to a particular culture (itself a dubious task: look up the term “axial age”)? This is the point at which you transgress the border of empirical, historical fact into the realm of racism and ethno-centrism. So the Jews allegedly (and very much arguably) discovered monotheism some three or four thousand years ago. And that affects their current standing in the world how?

    And how do you rank cultures holistically? The American people are innovative, commercially successful, and generally civil to our own kind. We’re also fairly violent and extremely selfish and materialistic, and we’ve done much harm as well as good in the world. Where do we fit on your little scale?

    And even if you could construct a valid ranking of “superior” cultures–and I’ll say it: you can’t–why would that matter for our support of Israel? Try justifying our alliance by declaring that we support Israel because they are the “superior” people in the Middle East. I’m sure America will win loads of fans that way.

    I’m not being egalitarian, if we want to employ that term pejoratively. But I am being humble, and you should be as well. I regularly claim, quite broadly speaking, that “Western” civilization, broadly understood, is superior in its intellectual achievements throughout history. That emphatically does not imply, however, that “Westerners” are somehow individually superior to other cultures. The same applies to Jews.

  • Albert

    I can’t believe the conversation has devolved into which “people” are better, bigger, badder, stronger, blah blah blah. What does that have to do with right and wrong?

    Look, even if the Jewish race had gold plated brains, it matters very little to us Christians as to whether or not we as a country (and/0r as Christians) should support their actions. The Nazis believed they were intellectually superior to (and more educated than) everyone they exterminated!!! Never once heard anyone say we had to support the Nazis because they were more successful than the people they exterminated.

    Pray tell, were the Jews superior to their Egyptian captors? Isn’t that the point of the Exodus? That God freed a rag tag bunch of Hebrew nomads from the clutches of the greatest ancient civilization in the world? Were the Jews superior during their captivity in Babylon? What about during the wars with the Assyrians? Hmmmmmm. Could it be that the Jews were superior during the Roman occupation? Before 70 A.D.? After 70 A.D? When, oh just when did they get to be superior?

    Those who trust in chariots and live by the sword will most surely die by it!!!

  • Albert

    I can’t believe the conversation has devolved into which “people” are better, bigger, badder, stronger, blah blah blah. What does that have to do with right and wrong?

    Look, even if the Jewish race had gold plated brains, it matters very little to us Christians as to whether or not we as a country (and/0r as Christians) should support their actions. The Nazis believed they were intellectually superior to (and more educated than) everyone they exterminated!!! Never once heard anyone say we had to support the Nazis because they were more successful than the people they exterminated.

    Pray tell, were the Jews superior to their Egyptian captors? Isn’t that the point of the Exodus? That God freed a rag tag bunch of Hebrew nomads from the clutches of the greatest ancient civilization in the world? Were the Jews superior during their captivity in Babylon? What about during the wars with the Assyrians? Hmmmmmm. Could it be that the Jews were superior during the Roman occupation? Before 70 A.D.? After 70 A.D? When, oh just when did they get to be superior?

    Those who trust in chariots and live by the sword will most surely die by it!!!

  • Peter Leavitt

    Kerner, I’ve made it clear that the main concern is that as a matter of justice Israel as a legitimate state deserves better than to suffer Hamas and most Middle East countries who have made it quite clear that they wish to annihilate this nation.

    I, also, agree with George Gilder that Israel is a crucial source of invention, military intelligence, and entrepreneurial talent that has the potential to help save the West.

    As to Sabbah, I know little about him, except that he objects to Zionism along with some Jews. He wouldn’t be the only of JPII’s dubious appointments.The anti-Zionism argument in practical terms has been settled with the legal establishment of Israel as a nation. One can argue that the early American settlers had no right to displace the Indians and import black slaves, though no one, except for a few wing-nuts, argues that the U.S. is an illegitimate nation.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Kerner, I’ve made it clear that the main concern is that as a matter of justice Israel as a legitimate state deserves better than to suffer Hamas and most Middle East countries who have made it quite clear that they wish to annihilate this nation.

    I, also, agree with George Gilder that Israel is a crucial source of invention, military intelligence, and entrepreneurial talent that has the potential to help save the West.

    As to Sabbah, I know little about him, except that he objects to Zionism along with some Jews. He wouldn’t be the only of JPII’s dubious appointments.The anti-Zionism argument in practical terms has been settled with the legal establishment of Israel as a nation. One can argue that the early American settlers had no right to displace the Indians and import black slaves, though no one, except for a few wing-nuts, argues that the U.S. is an illegitimate nation.

  • Louis

    Albert, actually, the only one here claiming superiority for anybody is Peter. And unfortunately it is impossible to argue with him. Another similarity with those race obsessed folks I grew up with…..

  • Louis

    Albert, actually, the only one here claiming superiority for anybody is Peter. And unfortunately it is impossible to argue with him. Another similarity with those race obsessed folks I grew up with…..

  • Peter Leavitt

    Kerner, one Egyptian ruler, Akhenaton, thought that the Sun was the only or the most important god. One can by a stretch consider him a monotheist, though Egyptians eventually thought that Akhenaton was mistaken and after he died restored Egypt’s plural gods.

    The Jewish people not only first discerned and wrote about true monotheism, according to the Bible they became God’s chosen people, producing Abraham, Moses, David, et al, the prophets, and finally the Messiah. It hardly follows from this that Israel gets a free pass for its policies, though its mistaken to deny this is a great people, at present seriously threatened by several essentially savage nations in the Middle East.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Kerner, one Egyptian ruler, Akhenaton, thought that the Sun was the only or the most important god. One can by a stretch consider him a monotheist, though Egyptians eventually thought that Akhenaton was mistaken and after he died restored Egypt’s plural gods.

    The Jewish people not only first discerned and wrote about true monotheism, according to the Bible they became God’s chosen people, producing Abraham, Moses, David, et al, the prophets, and finally the Messiah. It hardly follows from this that Israel gets a free pass for its policies, though its mistaken to deny this is a great people, at present seriously threatened by several essentially savage nations in the Middle East.

  • kerner

    Peter:

    I don’t know anything about Patriarch Sabbah either, or about Archbishop Hanna or Bishop Younan. This shows, however, that we in the West know very little about how Christian Arabs are treated in, and by, Israel. To hear these men tell it, the answer is “not very well”.

    On the other hand, these men are Arabs as well as Christians, and they may be allowing hostility between Israel and the Arab world to influence their politics. This may mean that this is more of a nationalistic conflict than a religious one.

    Or, I suspect the religious aspect of the conflict is very like the conflicts between protestant and Catholic countries after the reformation. The various religions became more about the political and military positions of their countries than about their faith. Which is a bad direction to go, if you ask me.

  • kerner

    Peter:

    I don’t know anything about Patriarch Sabbah either, or about Archbishop Hanna or Bishop Younan. This shows, however, that we in the West know very little about how Christian Arabs are treated in, and by, Israel. To hear these men tell it, the answer is “not very well”.

    On the other hand, these men are Arabs as well as Christians, and they may be allowing hostility between Israel and the Arab world to influence their politics. This may mean that this is more of a nationalistic conflict than a religious one.

    Or, I suspect the religious aspect of the conflict is very like the conflicts between protestant and Catholic countries after the reformation. The various religions became more about the political and military positions of their countries than about their faith. Which is a bad direction to go, if you ask me.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erikson

    I love being limited by my Lutheran Piety! As to my American pieties,
    I suppose I have them, but I dare say I am quite well traveled, and by that I mean more than I spent a weekend outside the states. Yet I am very proud of my country. But that pride is not just a blind sort of cheering for one’s favorite football team. I like to take critical looks at my own position. One reason I like this blog, and get along with tODD, and Cincinattus even if we don’t always agree.
    But seriously I do love being accused of piety of any type. Doesn’t happen too much.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erikson

    I love being limited by my Lutheran Piety! As to my American pieties,
    I suppose I have them, but I dare say I am quite well traveled, and by that I mean more than I spent a weekend outside the states. Yet I am very proud of my country. But that pride is not just a blind sort of cheering for one’s favorite football team. I like to take critical looks at my own position. One reason I like this blog, and get along with tODD, and Cincinattus even if we don’t always agree.
    But seriously I do love being accused of piety of any type. Doesn’t happen too much.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Louis, @60, your basic error is equating intellectual, political, and social distinction with “racism,” a common fallacy of small minds and the left.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Louis, @60, your basic error is equating intellectual, political, and social distinction with “racism,” a common fallacy of small minds and the left.

  • Louis

    Peter @ 69 – wow. What a way to affirm your superiority.

    My, I haven’t seen anything like this since…. well ever. Your arrogance is simply breathtaking.

  • Louis

    Peter @ 69 – wow. What a way to affirm your superiority.

    My, I haven’t seen anything like this since…. well ever. Your arrogance is simply breathtaking.

  • kerner

    You know, Dr. Veith originally posed the question: “May Israel defend itself at all?” And I think we all agree that it may.

    The question we are debating is : “Should the United States be defending Israel?” and why or why not?

    We’ve been focusing on Peter’s answer : “Because the Jews are good civilized people, whereas the Arabs are bad savage people.” (Apologies, Peter, if I don’t perfectly paraphrase you position)

    But what about Bror’s answer: “Because the Arabs and other Muslim nations would perceive our abandonning Israel as weak, and as a defeat for the USA at the hands of Islam, and this would put us in a much weakened position and does not serve our interests.” (again, I paraphrase). He has a point, does he not?

  • kerner

    You know, Dr. Veith originally posed the question: “May Israel defend itself at all?” And I think we all agree that it may.

    The question we are debating is : “Should the United States be defending Israel?” and why or why not?

    We’ve been focusing on Peter’s answer : “Because the Jews are good civilized people, whereas the Arabs are bad savage people.” (Apologies, Peter, if I don’t perfectly paraphrase you position)

    But what about Bror’s answer: “Because the Arabs and other Muslim nations would perceive our abandonning Israel as weak, and as a defeat for the USA at the hands of Islam, and this would put us in a much weakened position and does not serve our interests.” (again, I paraphrase). He has a point, does he not?

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, Peter, Peter. Might I refresh everyone as to the substance of your argument so that it might be judged on its own merits?

    1. The Jews are intrinsically superior to all other peoples in the world. Proof: they might have pioneered monotheism several millennia ago; also, a flawed study recounted in a work of popular psychology notes that, on average, Jews have higher IQs than most other races.

    2. Jews are the future hope of Western civilization. Proof: ???

    Conclusion: ???

    Even if we were willing to grant your first premise–and we are not, because it is absurd (you, my friend, might take your own advice @ 69: what you are espousing are not mere innocuous “distinctiong”, of which I am in favor)–where exactly are you going with this? You’ve denied that Jewish “superiority” is a basis for supporting them politically. You’ve hinted that perhaps the general awesomeness of the Jews might mitigate their atrocious acts towards the Palestinians, while the Arabs, because of their “mediocre” accomplishments (we’ll set aside algebra and medieval philosophy, amongst other things, for the time being), are more culpable. Is that it? And setting aside the pure incoherence of this argument, so what?

  • Cincinnatus

    Peter, Peter, Peter. Might I refresh everyone as to the substance of your argument so that it might be judged on its own merits?

    1. The Jews are intrinsically superior to all other peoples in the world. Proof: they might have pioneered monotheism several millennia ago; also, a flawed study recounted in a work of popular psychology notes that, on average, Jews have higher IQs than most other races.

    2. Jews are the future hope of Western civilization. Proof: ???

    Conclusion: ???

    Even if we were willing to grant your first premise–and we are not, because it is absurd (you, my friend, might take your own advice @ 69: what you are espousing are not mere innocuous “distinctiong”, of which I am in favor)–where exactly are you going with this? You’ve denied that Jewish “superiority” is a basis for supporting them politically. You’ve hinted that perhaps the general awesomeness of the Jews might mitigate their atrocious acts towards the Palestinians, while the Arabs, because of their “mediocre” accomplishments (we’ll set aside algebra and medieval philosophy, amongst other things, for the time being), are more culpable. Is that it? And setting aside the pure incoherence of this argument, so what?

  • Cincinnatus

    kerner@71: “Because the Arabs and other Muslim nations would perceive our abandonning Israel as weak, and as a defeat for the USA at the hands of Islam, and this would put us in a much weakened position and does not serve our interests.”

    That’s the same sort of logic that resulted in Korea and Vietnam. Besides, in my opinion, perceived weakness would be a decidedly short-term concern. What exactly would the Arab nations propose to do if they were to perceive us as momentarily weak (and that’s a gigantic “if”: they might, just might, appreciate help instead of bombs and perpetual vilification)? Invade us with their non-existent navies? Launch a few non-existent cruise missiles across the Atlantic? Win a space race? Kill their cash cow by cutting off our oil? In short, that argument is, I think, quickly dismissed.

    The whole thing is still rather a lose-lose situation, though.

  • Cincinnatus

    kerner@71: “Because the Arabs and other Muslim nations would perceive our abandonning Israel as weak, and as a defeat for the USA at the hands of Islam, and this would put us in a much weakened position and does not serve our interests.”

    That’s the same sort of logic that resulted in Korea and Vietnam. Besides, in my opinion, perceived weakness would be a decidedly short-term concern. What exactly would the Arab nations propose to do if they were to perceive us as momentarily weak (and that’s a gigantic “if”: they might, just might, appreciate help instead of bombs and perpetual vilification)? Invade us with their non-existent navies? Launch a few non-existent cruise missiles across the Atlantic? Win a space race? Kill their cash cow by cutting off our oil? In short, that argument is, I think, quickly dismissed.

    The whole thing is still rather a lose-lose situation, though.

  • Cincinnatus

    Oh, and don’t expect a meaningful attack on Israel either, as Israel is the only nuclear-armed nation in the region. Israel is a big boy now; it can take care of itself.

  • Cincinnatus

    Oh, and don’t expect a meaningful attack on Israel either, as Israel is the only nuclear-armed nation in the region. Israel is a big boy now; it can take care of itself.

  • Louis

    Kerner you are right. But I couldn’t let Peter’s racism slip by. I saw too much of that as a young man. Now he has added unbelievable arrogance as an argument in itself. It seems that his argument is thus: They are superior, and so am I, while you are small-minded, therefore you have to submit to my awesome intellect.

    What do they teach them in these schools? :)

  • Louis

    Kerner you are right. But I couldn’t let Peter’s racism slip by. I saw too much of that as a young man. Now he has added unbelievable arrogance as an argument in itself. It seems that his argument is thus: They are superior, and so am I, while you are small-minded, therefore you have to submit to my awesome intellect.

    What do they teach them in these schools? :)

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, I’ll grant that no one nation gets a pass for its policies that need to be judged on their own merits. However, Israel, a legitimate nation, has made over the years sincere and serious efforts to trade land for peace, including the extraordinary proposal by Ehud Barak to transfer the vast majority of the West Bank to the Palestinians in exchange for peace that was rejected by Arafat who then launched the savage Intifadah. Sharon gave up the whole of Gaza, ending up with Hamas taking over and launching thousands of rockets on southern Israel.

    Also, Bror is right that should America abandon Israel, we shall be regarded as weak in defense of our allies and interests. Weak nations always invite exploitation by savage and determined rogue nations. In the long run the Cold War was won due to America standing up and fighting including in Korea and Vietnam.

    Donald Kagan in his bookOn the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace writes that most wars in history have been caused by strong nations who vacillated as to whether they would go to war. This happened in the Thirties when the West didn’t stand up to Germany. The pacifist and isolationist position ironically almost always leads to war.

    Bror, also, remarked that we are in danger of repeating Chamberlain’s naive mistake, which I quite agree with. “Peace in our time” will come only if we stand up to our serious enemies that include Hamas and Iran.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, I’ll grant that no one nation gets a pass for its policies that need to be judged on their own merits. However, Israel, a legitimate nation, has made over the years sincere and serious efforts to trade land for peace, including the extraordinary proposal by Ehud Barak to transfer the vast majority of the West Bank to the Palestinians in exchange for peace that was rejected by Arafat who then launched the savage Intifadah. Sharon gave up the whole of Gaza, ending up with Hamas taking over and launching thousands of rockets on southern Israel.

    Also, Bror is right that should America abandon Israel, we shall be regarded as weak in defense of our allies and interests. Weak nations always invite exploitation by savage and determined rogue nations. In the long run the Cold War was won due to America standing up and fighting including in Korea and Vietnam.

    Donald Kagan in his bookOn the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace writes that most wars in history have been caused by strong nations who vacillated as to whether they would go to war. This happened in the Thirties when the West didn’t stand up to Germany. The pacifist and isolationist position ironically almost always leads to war.

    Bror, also, remarked that we are in danger of repeating Chamberlain’s naive mistake, which I quite agree with. “Peace in our time” will come only if we stand up to our serious enemies that include Hamas and Iran.

  • Cincinnatus

    I’m familiar with Kagan. He doesn’t apply here. You would know this, perhaps, if you had interacted with my response to the “showing weakness” argument. It doesn’t hold water. To alter our stance towards Israel isn’t the same thing as appeasing a vast Nazi war machine with the intent and ability to conquer a continent. Israel, with its well-trained (and oft-used) military, surely the superior force in the Middle East, and its nuclear weapons, is not equivalent to defenseless Czechoslovakia. Furthermore, unlike even Vietnam and Korea, there isn’t some “evil empire” like the USSR lurking beyond the third world children poised to exploit our alleged weakness in this case. The “American way” is not threatened, I am sorry to inform you, by the largely incompetent regimes populating that sector of the globe. No one is pulling the levers behind the tinpot dictators and Islamists in the Middle East except perhaps ourselves and our perpetual interference in that region.

    Do let me know, however, when any of the Middle Eastern nations–or, really, all of them combined–are able or even willing to invade or otherwise attack America. You’d think they would have made a move by now, since our weary expeditionary force has been mucking around at Iran and Syria’s doorsteps for the past seven years. But sensible observers know they lack the capacity to do any such thing.

    It’s the same reason I couldn’t possibly care less about Iran’s nuclear ambitions: Israel won’t let Iran get anything close to a nuclear weapon, and they don’t need us to take care of the “problem.” Meanwhile, Hamas is Israel’s enemy, not ours–and again, Israel is quite capable of changing its own diapers and taking care of Hamas at this point. And that is purely a question of military and economic, not racial, superiority.

  • Cincinnatus

    I’m familiar with Kagan. He doesn’t apply here. You would know this, perhaps, if you had interacted with my response to the “showing weakness” argument. It doesn’t hold water. To alter our stance towards Israel isn’t the same thing as appeasing a vast Nazi war machine with the intent and ability to conquer a continent. Israel, with its well-trained (and oft-used) military, surely the superior force in the Middle East, and its nuclear weapons, is not equivalent to defenseless Czechoslovakia. Furthermore, unlike even Vietnam and Korea, there isn’t some “evil empire” like the USSR lurking beyond the third world children poised to exploit our alleged weakness in this case. The “American way” is not threatened, I am sorry to inform you, by the largely incompetent regimes populating that sector of the globe. No one is pulling the levers behind the tinpot dictators and Islamists in the Middle East except perhaps ourselves and our perpetual interference in that region.

    Do let me know, however, when any of the Middle Eastern nations–or, really, all of them combined–are able or even willing to invade or otherwise attack America. You’d think they would have made a move by now, since our weary expeditionary force has been mucking around at Iran and Syria’s doorsteps for the past seven years. But sensible observers know they lack the capacity to do any such thing.

    It’s the same reason I couldn’t possibly care less about Iran’s nuclear ambitions: Israel won’t let Iran get anything close to a nuclear weapon, and they don’t need us to take care of the “problem.” Meanwhile, Hamas is Israel’s enemy, not ours–and again, Israel is quite capable of changing its own diapers and taking care of Hamas at this point. And that is purely a question of military and economic, not racial, superiority.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, you’re arguing from the same sort of isolationist position that nearly defeated Roosevelt and Churchill in the Thirties and LIncoln before the Civil War; further this position was evident before the Revolutionary War when the Cincinnatus of the time, Washington, and other patriots wisely decided to fight England.

    Hamas and Iran are indeed our enemies, your essentially heartland isolationist view notwithstanding. Should America under the rule of an incompetent president abandon Israel, then, again, shame on us.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, you’re arguing from the same sort of isolationist position that nearly defeated Roosevelt and Churchill in the Thirties and LIncoln before the Civil War; further this position was evident before the Revolutionary War when the Cincinnatus of the time, Washington, and other patriots wisely decided to fight England.

    Hamas and Iran are indeed our enemies, your essentially heartland isolationist view notwithstanding. Should America under the rule of an incompetent president abandon Israel, then, again, shame on us.

  • Louis

    There he goes again:

    Witness – Cincinnatus disagrees with him, hence he is identical to a loyalist (how do you get there? On the other hand as a Monarchist – welcome borther ;) ). Also, he has a heartlnad position – again, Peter revells in his geographical (???) superiority. Peter, ad hominem arguments are not arguments at all. Please, please learn that.

  • Louis

    There he goes again:

    Witness – Cincinnatus disagrees with him, hence he is identical to a loyalist (how do you get there? On the other hand as a Monarchist – welcome borther ;) ). Also, he has a heartlnad position – again, Peter revells in his geographical (???) superiority. Peter, ad hominem arguments are not arguments at all. Please, please learn that.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Remember, folks: When you don’t agree with Peter (@78) on any foreign policy matter, you will eventually be labeled a “(heartland) isolationist.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Remember, folks: When you don’t agree with Peter (@78) on any foreign policy matter, you will eventually be labeled a “(heartland) isolationist.”

  • Cincinnatus

    I’m not just an isolationist this time: I’m a heartland isolationist. But I thought conservatives (and especially neoconservatives) loved the heartland?

    Anyway, Peter, there isn’t anything remotely “isolationist” about my argument. First of all, you apparently didn’t read my comment at all, because I made a valid and qualitative distinction between Chamberlain/the Nazis and America/the Arab World. It’s an epic example of comparing apples to pineapples. Second, my thesis, stated generally, is that we, as a nation that does not, in fact, possess infinite resources and infinite global goodwill, should choose our battles and commitments carefully. We currently aren’t doing that in the Middle East. Iran and Hamas are not our greatest enemies, and Israel is (consequently) not our greatest ally.

  • Cincinnatus

    I’m not just an isolationist this time: I’m a heartland isolationist. But I thought conservatives (and especially neoconservatives) loved the heartland?

    Anyway, Peter, there isn’t anything remotely “isolationist” about my argument. First of all, you apparently didn’t read my comment at all, because I made a valid and qualitative distinction between Chamberlain/the Nazis and America/the Arab World. It’s an epic example of comparing apples to pineapples. Second, my thesis, stated generally, is that we, as a nation that does not, in fact, possess infinite resources and infinite global goodwill, should choose our battles and commitments carefully. We currently aren’t doing that in the Middle East. Iran and Hamas are not our greatest enemies, and Israel is (consequently) not our greatest ally.

  • Louis

    Todd, don’t forget “small-minded” and “leftist”.

  • Louis

    Todd, don’t forget “small-minded” and “leftist”.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Well, Todd, what’s your view on the matter other than lobbing an argumentum ad hominem.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Well, Todd, what’s your view on the matter other than lobbing an argumentum ad hominem.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@83), you’re hilarious! Now, now, you’re going to complain about ad hominem attacks? Really?! Oh, yes, I can see why it would bother you when I point out how you not infrequently retreat to ad hominem attacks yourself. Naturally, my pointing that out is, itself, an ad hominem attack! Why address your own ad hominem arguments, when you can claim that my complaining about your ad hominem arguments is, itself, ad hominem. Wonderful. Sheer nonsense, but hilarious all the same. Do go on.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@83), you’re hilarious! Now, now, you’re going to complain about ad hominem attacks? Really?! Oh, yes, I can see why it would bother you when I point out how you not infrequently retreat to ad hominem attacks yourself. Naturally, my pointing that out is, itself, an ad hominem attack! Why address your own ad hominem arguments, when you can claim that my complaining about your ad hominem arguments is, itself, ad hominem. Wonderful. Sheer nonsense, but hilarious all the same. Do go on.

  • Louis

    Peter (@83), you really have no shame!

  • Louis

    Peter (@83), you really have no shame!

  • kerner

    Cincinnatus:

    Much as I agree with most of what you say, I urge some caution on this one point. Israel may be capable of defending itself, but it has been doing so only with our aid for a long long time. They don’t admit to having nuclear weapons, but I agree with you that they almost certainly have them.

    Let’s say we abruptly told Israel, “You’re on your own, guys.” And even if the Israelis unilaterally abandonned most of the West Bank and Gaza, the logistics involved in defending Israel proper are going to present some problems.

    They are definitely going to need a security wall. And they are definitely going to need to restructure their economy to give up the use of cheap Arab labor. And they will very definitely need some kind of defense system that will enable them to shoot down the comparitively crude missiles that will inevitably be lobbed over the security wall. And they will probably want to retaliate every time that happens. When they do retaliate, who knows what response the Israelis will get, or from whom? If Iran tries to develop nuclear weapons, a country of 6,000,000 people can’t take a nuclear strike and come back from it, so Israel will surely attempt a pre-emptive strike, which may itself be nuclear.

    I realize you are not impressed with US interventionist foreign policy, but leaving these hostile camps to their own devices seems like kind of a dangerous course to me. An all out war in eastern and central Asia could be more devastating than anything the world has seen for a very long time. Are you sure our best policy is to let these people work all this out by themselves?

  • kerner

    Cincinnatus:

    Much as I agree with most of what you say, I urge some caution on this one point. Israel may be capable of defending itself, but it has been doing so only with our aid for a long long time. They don’t admit to having nuclear weapons, but I agree with you that they almost certainly have them.

    Let’s say we abruptly told Israel, “You’re on your own, guys.” And even if the Israelis unilaterally abandonned most of the West Bank and Gaza, the logistics involved in defending Israel proper are going to present some problems.

    They are definitely going to need a security wall. And they are definitely going to need to restructure their economy to give up the use of cheap Arab labor. And they will very definitely need some kind of defense system that will enable them to shoot down the comparitively crude missiles that will inevitably be lobbed over the security wall. And they will probably want to retaliate every time that happens. When they do retaliate, who knows what response the Israelis will get, or from whom? If Iran tries to develop nuclear weapons, a country of 6,000,000 people can’t take a nuclear strike and come back from it, so Israel will surely attempt a pre-emptive strike, which may itself be nuclear.

    I realize you are not impressed with US interventionist foreign policy, but leaving these hostile camps to their own devices seems like kind of a dangerous course to me. An all out war in eastern and central Asia could be more devastating than anything the world has seen for a very long time. Are you sure our best policy is to let these people work all this out by themselves?

  • kerner

    oops, I meant western Asia, not eastern.

  • kerner

    oops, I meant western Asia, not eastern.

  • Cincinnatus

    You make good points, kerner. First, I’m not necessarily arguing that we should unilaterally and universally abandon Israel tomorrow. On the other hand, if we did abandon them (or at least reoriented our commitments in a more rational manner), and if your worst-case scenarios were realized (and it is rather likely that they would be), I’m still left wondering how those things represent problems of concern to us. What’s so special about Israel that we should be worried about the fact that she will have to control a tumultuous border? Don’t you think they’re aware (and prepared) for the eventuality of a wall, etc.? And how is Israel’s reliance upon cheap Arab labor any more our problem than Germany’s reliance on cheap Turkish labor or our own reliance upon Latino labor? And isn’t it Israel’s imprudence and Israel’s problem if they aren’t able to manage the scale of their retaliations against rogue Palestinian missiles (against which they already possess defenses, anyway)? And Israel’s almost certain preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear capability seems, at this point, to be inevitable and, really, the most painless of likely options–and it won’t require a cent or word from us.

    The bottom line is that I am still lacking a compelling justification for such intimate involvement in and defense of Israel’s affairs. If Russia pulled out of Chechnya (a roughly equivalent power relationship to Israel and Gaza), no doubt the terrorism would not cease. But how is that any less or more America’s problem than the West Bank, and why should I worry about the Russian military’s ability to handle its rebellious hinterlands?

    And your last threat simply isn’t credible: the last time we had an “all-out war” in the Near East, it was over in six days, with a decisive victory by Israel over all. Her position and power have increased measurably since then. So why shouldn’t we let them work it out themselves? We’re quite willing to do that in the rest of the world, sometimes to good effect, sometimes to bad, but most of the time irrelevant to our own affairs.

  • Cincinnatus

    You make good points, kerner. First, I’m not necessarily arguing that we should unilaterally and universally abandon Israel tomorrow. On the other hand, if we did abandon them (or at least reoriented our commitments in a more rational manner), and if your worst-case scenarios were realized (and it is rather likely that they would be), I’m still left wondering how those things represent problems of concern to us. What’s so special about Israel that we should be worried about the fact that she will have to control a tumultuous border? Don’t you think they’re aware (and prepared) for the eventuality of a wall, etc.? And how is Israel’s reliance upon cheap Arab labor any more our problem than Germany’s reliance on cheap Turkish labor or our own reliance upon Latino labor? And isn’t it Israel’s imprudence and Israel’s problem if they aren’t able to manage the scale of their retaliations against rogue Palestinian missiles (against which they already possess defenses, anyway)? And Israel’s almost certain preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear capability seems, at this point, to be inevitable and, really, the most painless of likely options–and it won’t require a cent or word from us.

    The bottom line is that I am still lacking a compelling justification for such intimate involvement in and defense of Israel’s affairs. If Russia pulled out of Chechnya (a roughly equivalent power relationship to Israel and Gaza), no doubt the terrorism would not cease. But how is that any less or more America’s problem than the West Bank, and why should I worry about the Russian military’s ability to handle its rebellious hinterlands?

    And your last threat simply isn’t credible: the last time we had an “all-out war” in the Near East, it was over in six days, with a decisive victory by Israel over all. Her position and power have increased measurably since then. So why shouldn’t we let them work it out themselves? We’re quite willing to do that in the rest of the world, sometimes to good effect, sometimes to bad, but most of the time irrelevant to our own affairs.

  • Cincinnatus

    In sum, my argument is merely pursuing (over and over) the inquiry of why Israel matters to us. I can’t think of a great reason. Of course, that sounds callous and selfish, but such is the way of international relations. We possess neither the capacity nor the resources to be a crutch to every country that arbitrarily strikes our fancy, or that excites feelings of justice and compassion.

    If we did, we should have been in Rwanda, Sudan, Nigeria, Tibet, Western China, Armenia, Chile, ad infinitum, years ago. And really, all of those nations have more compelling and heartfelt cries for defense or assistance than the Mideast’s sole member of the nuclear club.

  • Cincinnatus

    In sum, my argument is merely pursuing (over and over) the inquiry of why Israel matters to us. I can’t think of a great reason. Of course, that sounds callous and selfish, but such is the way of international relations. We possess neither the capacity nor the resources to be a crutch to every country that arbitrarily strikes our fancy, or that excites feelings of justice and compassion.

    If we did, we should have been in Rwanda, Sudan, Nigeria, Tibet, Western China, Armenia, Chile, ad infinitum, years ago. And really, all of those nations have more compelling and heartfelt cries for defense or assistance than the Mideast’s sole member of the nuclear club.

  • Albert

    Cincinnatus,

    The last war in the ME was the Yom Kippur war of 1973, and it was not over in 6 days. You’re thinking of the 1967 war. The Yom Kippur war was much less of a resounding victory for Israel, and was the basis for the peace agreement with Egypt.

  • Albert

    Cincinnatus,

    The last war in the ME was the Yom Kippur war of 1973, and it was not over in 6 days. You’re thinking of the 1967 war. The Yom Kippur war was much less of a resounding victory for Israel, and was the basis for the peace agreement with Egypt.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I will lazily second Cincinnatus’ comments, at least to a large degree. I was going to point out the Six-Day War, as well, but now he’s already done that. Also, he clearly knows more about this topic than I do. Most of you do.

    And while many expect Israel to strike at Iran’s nuclear abilities when they deem it necessary, I see no reason to expect that such a preemptive attack would itself be nuclear, considering the success Israel had last time in this scenario. I mean, Israel may push its boundaries, but it has yet to show that it’s stupidly willing to go too far.

    I also think that there’s a fair amount of spectrum between the United States’ current position on Israel and “You’re on your own, guys.” Let’s try not to treat this as some either-or situation.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I will lazily second Cincinnatus’ comments, at least to a large degree. I was going to point out the Six-Day War, as well, but now he’s already done that. Also, he clearly knows more about this topic than I do. Most of you do.

    And while many expect Israel to strike at Iran’s nuclear abilities when they deem it necessary, I see no reason to expect that such a preemptive attack would itself be nuclear, considering the success Israel had last time in this scenario. I mean, Israel may push its boundaries, but it has yet to show that it’s stupidly willing to go too far.

    I also think that there’s a fair amount of spectrum between the United States’ current position on Israel and “You’re on your own, guys.” Let’s try not to treat this as some either-or situation.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, you’re right that the important question is why Israel matters to us.

    Among the best answers is that from the British writer, Melanie Phillips as follows :

    The issue of Israel sits at the very apex of the fight to defend civilisation. Those who wish to destroy western civilisation need to destroy the Jews, whose moral precepts formed its foundation stones. The deranged hatred of the Jews lies at the core of the Islamists’ hatred of America, the ‘infidel’ west and modernity, and is the reason why they wish to destroy Israel. Unless people in the West understand that Israel’s fight is their own fight, they will be on the wrong side of the war to defend not just the West but civilisation in general.

    Why so much of the West roots for Israel’s destruction is a subject for a multivolumned tome, but like a drinker knowingly careening towards rock bottom, we cannot represss our worst impulses, despite an inner nagging that they will be eventually result in our hasty demise. And so goes Western Civilization, led off a cliff by liberals locked in a tonque-kiss with anti-Semites….

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, you’re right that the important question is why Israel matters to us.

    Among the best answers is that from the British writer, Melanie Phillips as follows :

    The issue of Israel sits at the very apex of the fight to defend civilisation. Those who wish to destroy western civilisation need to destroy the Jews, whose moral precepts formed its foundation stones. The deranged hatred of the Jews lies at the core of the Islamists’ hatred of America, the ‘infidel’ west and modernity, and is the reason why they wish to destroy Israel. Unless people in the West understand that Israel’s fight is their own fight, they will be on the wrong side of the war to defend not just the West but civilisation in general.

    Why so much of the West roots for Israel’s destruction is a subject for a multivolumned tome, but like a drinker knowingly careening towards rock bottom, we cannot represss our worst impulses, despite an inner nagging that they will be eventually result in our hasty demise. And so goes Western Civilization, led off a cliff by liberals locked in a tonque-kiss with anti-Semites….

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@92), if you’re going to rely on the authority of quoted sources (as apparently you must), at least try to quote reasonable sources, and not those who, oh, demand that “We are entitled to ask precisely when [Obama] stopped being a Muslim, and why”, asking, for example, “Did Obama embrace Christianity as a tactical manoeuvre to get himself elected? Why indeed has he dissembled about his family background if not for that end?”[1]

    More to the point, try to find a writer who has her Israeli history straight, as opposed to this bit from Phillips:

    Israel was never the Palestinians’ ‘homeland’. It was never taken from them ‘by force’. On the contrary, they tried to take the Jews’ homeland from them by force – and are still trying. It was the Jews alone for whom historically ‘Palestine’ was ever their national homeland. On account of that history and the inalienable right to the land that it conferred, Britain was given a mandate to re-establish that national home and establish accordingly ‘close settlement’ of the Jews within the whole of Palestine – which included what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. [2]

    Regardless, with this quote you’re merely rehashing arguments that Cincinnatus addressed a long time ago (@42), to which you haven’t responded. (Cf. “Deranged hatred of the Jews”, to say nothing of the gloriously over-the-top “war to defend … civilisation in general”.)

    [1]spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/765631/obama-and-the-giant-blogosphere-conspiracy.thtml
    [2]spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/3197296/on-the-other-side-from-civilisation.thtml

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@92), if you’re going to rely on the authority of quoted sources (as apparently you must), at least try to quote reasonable sources, and not those who, oh, demand that “We are entitled to ask precisely when [Obama] stopped being a Muslim, and why”, asking, for example, “Did Obama embrace Christianity as a tactical manoeuvre to get himself elected? Why indeed has he dissembled about his family background if not for that end?”[1]

    More to the point, try to find a writer who has her Israeli history straight, as opposed to this bit from Phillips:

    Israel was never the Palestinians’ ‘homeland’. It was never taken from them ‘by force’. On the contrary, they tried to take the Jews’ homeland from them by force – and are still trying. It was the Jews alone for whom historically ‘Palestine’ was ever their national homeland. On account of that history and the inalienable right to the land that it conferred, Britain was given a mandate to re-establish that national home and establish accordingly ‘close settlement’ of the Jews within the whole of Palestine – which included what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. [2]

    Regardless, with this quote you’re merely rehashing arguments that Cincinnatus addressed a long time ago (@42), to which you haven’t responded. (Cf. “Deranged hatred of the Jews”, to say nothing of the gloriously over-the-top “war to defend … civilisation in general”.)

    [1]spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/765631/obama-and-the-giant-blogosphere-conspiracy.thtml
    [2]spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/3197296/on-the-other-side-from-civilisation.thtml

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, Spectator is a reputable journal that publishes first-class writers. Melanie Phillips is correct that Israel was never the Palestinians homeland. The Palestinians shared that land with the Israelis under Jordanian rule until the land became a British mandate that was eventually divided by the U.N. in 1948, whereupon the Palestinians with the help of other Arabs tried to annihilate Israel during several wars. Historically, Israel had an impeccable claim for that land.

    I was taught in college that it is best to find and rely on competent authorities on most complex subjects. When it comes to the subject of Islam and Palestine, I rely mainly on Bernard Lewis, Natan Sharansky, Daniel Pipes, and Melanie Lewis, all of whom are better informed than you or I.

    The simple, typically Protestant view that ordinary Americans are qualified to pontificate on complex matters is silly and dangerous. Over the years on business matters I’ve been skeptical of self constituted views and have routinely not promoted and sometimes fired those who lack the wit and skill to seek and study competent authority on complex matters.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, Spectator is a reputable journal that publishes first-class writers. Melanie Phillips is correct that Israel was never the Palestinians homeland. The Palestinians shared that land with the Israelis under Jordanian rule until the land became a British mandate that was eventually divided by the U.N. in 1948, whereupon the Palestinians with the help of other Arabs tried to annihilate Israel during several wars. Historically, Israel had an impeccable claim for that land.

    I was taught in college that it is best to find and rely on competent authorities on most complex subjects. When it comes to the subject of Islam and Palestine, I rely mainly on Bernard Lewis, Natan Sharansky, Daniel Pipes, and Melanie Lewis, all of whom are better informed than you or I.

    The simple, typically Protestant view that ordinary Americans are qualified to pontificate on complex matters is silly and dangerous. Over the years on business matters I’ve been skeptical of self constituted views and have routinely not promoted and sometimes fired those who lack the wit and skill to seek and study competent authority on complex matters.

  • Cincinnatus

    As one who is inclined to acknowledge the inherent inequalities of nature, I still find this statement:

    “The simple, typically Protestant view that ordinary Americans are qualified to pontificate on complex matters is silly and dangerous.” (Peter@94)

    to be pompous and, really, incorrect. Unless you’re willing to discard republican government and return to the more uneducated portions of the dark ages. If we were talking about a technical scientific matter, I would agree with you; but here we’re talking about political matters, about res publica (“public things”), about which public discourse is the foundation and mainstay of our republic and its system of government. Are we “ordinary Americans” competent to “self-constitute” views on any subject? Are we competent to vote? Dare we question the [self-proclaimed?] experts?

    Just kidding. I totally agree. Leave “complex matters” to the technocrats; keep those simpletons, those “ordinary Americans” entertained in the meantime.

    I hope you recognize the irony of choosing the “experts” to whom you defer on a given subject. For every expert you include in your list, there are at least as many more who would take the opposite or a variant position. Are you sure your “ordinary” mind possesses the “wit and skill” to select the proper authorities? And who, precisely, determined these individuals to be “the” experts in this field? Methinks you might be “self-constituting” a few ideas before you choose your sources.

    I know you like to flirt with Catholic epistemological principles, but according to Aquinas, whom you oft quote but, I fear, little understand, there is an important place for individual reason (indeed, it is the essence of what is human; natural law, after all, is that law which is accessible to reason) beyond the confines of Church dogma (which itself is founded on some kind of rationality presumably accessible to human reason). When did political matters ascend beyond the competencies of rational discussion and debate?

    [note: we do not criticize the use of authorities. It is the essence of scholarship. But scholars, you must be aware, do not liberally employ citations because they do not deem themselves competent to comment on a given subject but because they are entering a conversation with other devoted participants and with preexisting norms and ideas--which, presumably, we are doing here, albeit more informally].

  • Cincinnatus

    As one who is inclined to acknowledge the inherent inequalities of nature, I still find this statement:

    “The simple, typically Protestant view that ordinary Americans are qualified to pontificate on complex matters is silly and dangerous.” (Peter@94)

    to be pompous and, really, incorrect. Unless you’re willing to discard republican government and return to the more uneducated portions of the dark ages. If we were talking about a technical scientific matter, I would agree with you; but here we’re talking about political matters, about res publica (“public things”), about which public discourse is the foundation and mainstay of our republic and its system of government. Are we “ordinary Americans” competent to “self-constitute” views on any subject? Are we competent to vote? Dare we question the [self-proclaimed?] experts?

    Just kidding. I totally agree. Leave “complex matters” to the technocrats; keep those simpletons, those “ordinary Americans” entertained in the meantime.

    I hope you recognize the irony of choosing the “experts” to whom you defer on a given subject. For every expert you include in your list, there are at least as many more who would take the opposite or a variant position. Are you sure your “ordinary” mind possesses the “wit and skill” to select the proper authorities? And who, precisely, determined these individuals to be “the” experts in this field? Methinks you might be “self-constituting” a few ideas before you choose your sources.

    I know you like to flirt with Catholic epistemological principles, but according to Aquinas, whom you oft quote but, I fear, little understand, there is an important place for individual reason (indeed, it is the essence of what is human; natural law, after all, is that law which is accessible to reason) beyond the confines of Church dogma (which itself is founded on some kind of rationality presumably accessible to human reason). When did political matters ascend beyond the competencies of rational discussion and debate?

    [note: we do not criticize the use of authorities. It is the essence of scholarship. But scholars, you must be aware, do not liberally employ citations because they do not deem themselves competent to comment on a given subject but because they are entering a conversation with other devoted participants and with preexisting norms and ideas--which, presumably, we are doing here, albeit more informally].

  • kerner

    According to wikipedia, the Israelis were in dire circumstances in the Yom Kippur war, and were contemlating usung nuclear weapons, when the United States intervened with a massive resupply operation that allowed the Israelis to counterattack and overcome the Arab armies using conventional weapons. After the war was over, OPEC retaliated with an oil embargo.

    Our policy since then has been to send billions in foreign aid to both the Israelis and Arabs in an attempt to bribe them into not fighting. But there are so many players, it is problematic to keep track of everything that goes on and both sides have settled into kind of a cold war position in which each side does as much as it can get away with to wear down the other and gain public relations advantages.

    What is going on now is that Israel is losing its public relations advantages in the USA as the Arabs, having lost the direct confrontations, are becoming more skilled at maintaining the long term campaign.

    The Muslims are now using strategy similar to what they used after the First Crusade. When the superior European war machine established the Crusader Kingdoms of Antioch, Edessa and Jerusalem, the Muslims (the Seljuk Turks at that time) gradually wore down the Crusaders, always making truces when it suited them, but never conseding the Crusader kingdoms’ “right to exist”. The last Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem fell about 80 years after it was founded. Richard the Lion Hearted and the third Crusade tried to retake Jerusalem, but were not successful.

  • kerner

    According to wikipedia, the Israelis were in dire circumstances in the Yom Kippur war, and were contemlating usung nuclear weapons, when the United States intervened with a massive resupply operation that allowed the Israelis to counterattack and overcome the Arab armies using conventional weapons. After the war was over, OPEC retaliated with an oil embargo.

    Our policy since then has been to send billions in foreign aid to both the Israelis and Arabs in an attempt to bribe them into not fighting. But there are so many players, it is problematic to keep track of everything that goes on and both sides have settled into kind of a cold war position in which each side does as much as it can get away with to wear down the other and gain public relations advantages.

    What is going on now is that Israel is losing its public relations advantages in the USA as the Arabs, having lost the direct confrontations, are becoming more skilled at maintaining the long term campaign.

    The Muslims are now using strategy similar to what they used after the First Crusade. When the superior European war machine established the Crusader Kingdoms of Antioch, Edessa and Jerusalem, the Muslims (the Seljuk Turks at that time) gradually wore down the Crusaders, always making truces when it suited them, but never conseding the Crusader kingdoms’ “right to exist”. The last Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem fell about 80 years after it was founded. Richard the Lion Hearted and the third Crusade tried to retake Jerusalem, but were not successful.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Well, at least one country gets it:

    While Israeli flags are being burned in many European capitals in the aftermath of the dead flotilla raid, thousands of people took part a pro-Israel rally in Helsinki on Thursday. The Finnish capital’s streets were filled with Israeli and Finnish flags as participants marched towards the port while chanting slogans in support of the IDF and waving banners protesting what they claimed was the biased media coverage of the flotilla raid. The protestors also sang “Hevenu Shalom Aleichem (We Brought Peace Upon You).”

    Ahmadinejad made the following statement today at the World Expo in Shanghai:

    It is clear the United States is not against nuclear bombs because they have a Zionist regime with nuclear bombs in the region. … They are trying to save the Zionist regime, but the Zionist regime will not survive. It is doomed.

    Meanwhile, Obama apparently suffers the illusion that the recently passed U.N. “sanctions” will be adequate to deter Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Well, at least one country gets it:

    While Israeli flags are being burned in many European capitals in the aftermath of the dead flotilla raid, thousands of people took part a pro-Israel rally in Helsinki on Thursday. The Finnish capital’s streets were filled with Israeli and Finnish flags as participants marched towards the port while chanting slogans in support of the IDF and waving banners protesting what they claimed was the biased media coverage of the flotilla raid. The protestors also sang “Hevenu Shalom Aleichem (We Brought Peace Upon You).”

    Ahmadinejad made the following statement today at the World Expo in Shanghai:

    It is clear the United States is not against nuclear bombs because they have a Zionist regime with nuclear bombs in the region. … They are trying to save the Zionist regime, but the Zionist regime will not survive. It is doomed.

    Meanwhile, Obama apparently suffers the illusion that the recently passed U.N. “sanctions” will be adequate to deter Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, on your key point that Aquinas stressed the capacity for the potential of individuals reason, I agree. However, before Aquinas held forth he had absorbed Biblical authority with Revelation and for the most part from Aristotle on philosophy. After absorbing these authorities, he then managed to write several classic works on philosophy and theology.

    My basic view is that we ordinary souls need to pay careful attention, though not uncritically, to authoritative views and develop the ability to sort out the best of them according to our best light and understanding. This is what I gleaned from common sense, an excellent family background,, and a fortunately excellent bunch of school and college teachers. If this comes across as “pompous,” I apologize, for the lack of sufficient and perhaps humble articulation.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Cincinnatus, on your key point that Aquinas stressed the capacity for the potential of individuals reason, I agree. However, before Aquinas held forth he had absorbed Biblical authority with Revelation and for the most part from Aristotle on philosophy. After absorbing these authorities, he then managed to write several classic works on philosophy and theology.

    My basic view is that we ordinary souls need to pay careful attention, though not uncritically, to authoritative views and develop the ability to sort out the best of them according to our best light and understanding. This is what I gleaned from common sense, an excellent family background,, and a fortunately excellent bunch of school and college teachers. If this comes across as “pompous,” I apologize, for the lack of sufficient and perhaps humble articulation.

  • Cincinnatus

    Actually, you might be interested to know that the most cited philosopher in Thomas’s works is St. Augustine. Fun fact.

    In any case, no one disputes the value of deference to proper authorities or a well-placed citation. The problem, as tODD is fond of pointing out, is that your format for citation proceeds thusly:

    1. WHAARGARBLL-ish argument
    2. Look! Someone else in a right-wing publication says roughly the same thing I do!

    The point is that citing an editorial (typically from a biased source) doesn’t lend particularly high levels of credence to your argument. Feel free to do so, but I, for one, have lost the inclination and patience to read the articles you link–primarily because they say nothing whatsoever that you haven’t already said. It’s not as if you’e usually citing empirical studies or statistics, after all, that would corroborate your normative claims, and your links aren’t generally hard-hitting pieces of compelling commentary. In your case, they serve primarily as “high-fives” to your own statements, which is cool and all, but the fact that someone in the Wall Street Journal agrees with you doesn’t mean you win. Your citations, in other words, typically fulfill the requirements of the logical fallacy of the “appeal to authority”:

    1. A says x
    2. A is an authoritative expert
    .: x is true

    There is often a fine line between committing said fallacy and legitimately supporting your argument with cited evidence, but you’ve crossed it on more than one occasion in this very thread. It might help if some of your citations were factual rather than bloviational; your last quote by Melanie Phillips, for example, isn’t a factual argument about Israel’s history or importance; all I derive from it is that Phillips is obviously some species of Zionist, and she offers absolutely no compelling justification for why I should be one too.

  • Cincinnatus

    Actually, you might be interested to know that the most cited philosopher in Thomas’s works is St. Augustine. Fun fact.

    In any case, no one disputes the value of deference to proper authorities or a well-placed citation. The problem, as tODD is fond of pointing out, is that your format for citation proceeds thusly:

    1. WHAARGARBLL-ish argument
    2. Look! Someone else in a right-wing publication says roughly the same thing I do!

    The point is that citing an editorial (typically from a biased source) doesn’t lend particularly high levels of credence to your argument. Feel free to do so, but I, for one, have lost the inclination and patience to read the articles you link–primarily because they say nothing whatsoever that you haven’t already said. It’s not as if you’e usually citing empirical studies or statistics, after all, that would corroborate your normative claims, and your links aren’t generally hard-hitting pieces of compelling commentary. In your case, they serve primarily as “high-fives” to your own statements, which is cool and all, but the fact that someone in the Wall Street Journal agrees with you doesn’t mean you win. Your citations, in other words, typically fulfill the requirements of the logical fallacy of the “appeal to authority”:

    1. A says x
    2. A is an authoritative expert
    .: x is true

    There is often a fine line between committing said fallacy and legitimately supporting your argument with cited evidence, but you’ve crossed it on more than one occasion in this very thread. It might help if some of your citations were factual rather than bloviational; your last quote by Melanie Phillips, for example, isn’t a factual argument about Israel’s history or importance; all I derive from it is that Phillips is obviously some species of Zionist, and she offers absolutely no compelling justification for why I should be one too.

  • Abby

    This is not political. But is why I’m pro-Israel. As a christian, adopted by God into this family. God has not forgotten Israel, right now they still cannot “see.” But He tells us not to be arrogant about our adoption because we can be cut off too. I love Jewish people. I used to want to be one, until I understood about the “adoption.”

    “. . . Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27For it is written,

    “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
    break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
    For the children of the desolate one will be more
    than those of the one who has a husband.”
    28Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.” Galatians 4:21-31

    Also, I married a full-blooded Lebanese. I am deeply involved in the Arabic community in my city. My husband also is pro-Israel. Because of his christian faith.

  • Abby

    This is not political. But is why I’m pro-Israel. As a christian, adopted by God into this family. God has not forgotten Israel, right now they still cannot “see.” But He tells us not to be arrogant about our adoption because we can be cut off too. I love Jewish people. I used to want to be one, until I understood about the “adoption.”

    “. . . Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27For it is written,

    “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
    break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
    For the children of the desolate one will be more
    than those of the one who has a husband.”
    28Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.” Galatians 4:21-31

    Also, I married a full-blooded Lebanese. I am deeply involved in the Arabic community in my city. My husband also is pro-Israel. Because of his christian faith.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Abby (@101), the modern country of Israel has nothing to do with any entity — whether a nation or a group of people — labeled “Israel” in the Bible. All that you say (from the book of Romans) is true, but about the Jews. And we should take pains not to confuse “the Jews” and “Israel”. As Christians, we can talk about supporting Israel for this or that political (or even emotional) reason, but there is no spiritual reason to support that country.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Abby (@101), the modern country of Israel has nothing to do with any entity — whether a nation or a group of people — labeled “Israel” in the Bible. All that you say (from the book of Romans) is true, but about the Jews. And we should take pains not to confuse “the Jews” and “Israel”. As Christians, we can talk about supporting Israel for this or that political (or even emotional) reason, but there is no spiritual reason to support that country.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, one can’t simply excise modern Israel from the ancient land. The historic and religious connections with the Biblical land of Israel are real. No serious Israeli statesmen argues that this gives Israel a free pass for its state policies. Also, men like Churchill who had a lot to do with formation of modern Israel based their policy in strong measure on the historicity of this ancient land.

    Cincinnatus, since apparently the custom of this blog is to make direct statements without backup sources, I shall try to go lighter on this, though I must say that it is helpful to know any writer or blogger’s sources. For example, I would be interested to know and read some of the backup material from your sources on the subject of Zionism and your arbitrary view that the creation of this nation was arbitrary.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, one can’t simply excise modern Israel from the ancient land. The historic and religious connections with the Biblical land of Israel are real. No serious Israeli statesmen argues that this gives Israel a free pass for its state policies. Also, men like Churchill who had a lot to do with formation of modern Israel based their policy in strong measure on the historicity of this ancient land.

    Cincinnatus, since apparently the custom of this blog is to make direct statements without backup sources, I shall try to go lighter on this, though I must say that it is helpful to know any writer or blogger’s sources. For example, I would be interested to know and read some of the backup material from your sources on the subject of Zionism and your arbitrary view that the creation of this nation was arbitrary.

  • ptl

    I like experts and learning from them…you just have to have the right ones! HINT: Blog commenters do not usually fall into that category. Most of what they say is rehashed or repeated, not very original and without credit to their sources be it radio, tv, the press, etc. But they are valuable and worthwhile when they reference others who really do know what they are talking about. My thanks to those humble and modest folks! Other than that, you just sort of get a window into how weird and divided this world seems to be becoming day in and day out, and how rare it is to find real wisdom and maturity now a days. Maybe it has always been that way, and that’s why we need those experts to clear up the air and cut through all the smoke from the pipes of armchair leaders?

  • ptl

    I like experts and learning from them…you just have to have the right ones! HINT: Blog commenters do not usually fall into that category. Most of what they say is rehashed or repeated, not very original and without credit to their sources be it radio, tv, the press, etc. But they are valuable and worthwhile when they reference others who really do know what they are talking about. My thanks to those humble and modest folks! Other than that, you just sort of get a window into how weird and divided this world seems to be becoming day in and day out, and how rare it is to find real wisdom and maturity now a days. Maybe it has always been that way, and that’s why we need those experts to clear up the air and cut through all the smoke from the pipes of armchair leaders?

  • Abby

    Todd @102 When did the land of Israel cease to be the promised land for the Jews? I don’t know about that history.

  • Abby

    Todd @102 When did the land of Israel cease to be the promised land for the Jews? I don’t know about that history.

  • ptl

    Abby a 105…yeah tODD, praytell, how you so smart :)

  • ptl

    Abby a 105…yeah tODD, praytell, how you so smart :)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I don’t know if anyone is still reading this thread, but just to see if you are (Ptl @106, Abby @105), can you first tell me what is meant by “the promised land” — to what promises are you referring, particularly? Because I didn’t use that phrase myself, so I can’t really answer your question (specifically, Abby’s) without knowing what you think it means.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I don’t know if anyone is still reading this thread, but just to see if you are (Ptl @106, Abby @105), can you first tell me what is meant by “the promised land” — to what promises are you referring, particularly? Because I didn’t use that phrase myself, so I can’t really answer your question (specifically, Abby’s) without knowing what you think it means.

  • Abby

    Dear Todd, you are right, you did not use the words “promised land.” Initially the subject of this topic was whether or not the Jews have the right to defend themselves, and/or the possession of their land. When you spoke of “no spiritual reason to support that country,” my mind went to the original covenant given by God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob–which involved not only the piece of land they could live on and develop as a nation, but became the greater “spiritual” covenant involving the coming of our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ.
    So, I guess I am trying to say, that I believe Israel belongs to the Jews yet today and they have the right to defend themselves and their land.

    I am not a scholar or historian. The following is my train of thought:

    From Genesis 12:
    “Now the LORD said to Abram: Get out of your country, From your family and from your father’s house. To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

    Genesis 17:
    “God talked with him (Abraham), saying: As for me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. . . I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant . . . I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

    Genesis 25:
    (Isaac, Abraham’s son)
    “The LORD said to (Isaac’s wife, Rebekah): ‘Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.’ . . . the first to come out was . . . Esau. Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob.”

    Deuteronomy 1:
    “Look, the LORD your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the LORD God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.”

    Joshua 1:
    “After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: ‘Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to the–the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. . . Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.”

    Joshua 21:
    “So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it.”
    +++++++++++++++++
    From Paul Greenberg, Jewish World Review, today:
    “Rather than demand Helen Thomas’ dismissal, Mr. Fleischer — and all those others outraged by her hissy fit — ought to send her a thank-you note. Consider this mine. For years her animus toward the Jewish state could be read quite clearly between the lines of her columns, or even smelled. Now she’s admitted it by using the old Go Back Where You Came From ploy against Israel’s Jews. She said they “should get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home.”
    And where would that be? Miss Thomas answered: “Poland. Germany.” The problem for the Helen Thomases of the world is that Israel is where the Jews came from — a minor detail Miss Thomas seems to have overlooked.

    But her point was clear enough: Jews are just interlopers who should get the hell out of the Middle East. Maybe she’s never noticed that Hebrew, like Arabic, is a Semitic language. It’s a mystery how anyone on reading the Torah can deny that this people has it roots among the nomadic tribes of the Fertile Crescent, but mere fact has never been a barrier to bigotry.”

    (Read the whole article: http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/greenberg061410.php3

    Since the beginning of this covenant by God given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, nations have tried to remove the Jews from this land. From Genesis 17, this land is given as an “everlasting” covenant to the Jews. I don’t fear that it will be taken from them again. But they have always had to fight to keep it. Pretty amazing for such a small group of people (6,000,000). God must still be working something out. All I can say is, that is what I believe.

  • Abby

    Dear Todd, you are right, you did not use the words “promised land.” Initially the subject of this topic was whether or not the Jews have the right to defend themselves, and/or the possession of their land. When you spoke of “no spiritual reason to support that country,” my mind went to the original covenant given by God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob–which involved not only the piece of land they could live on and develop as a nation, but became the greater “spiritual” covenant involving the coming of our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ.
    So, I guess I am trying to say, that I believe Israel belongs to the Jews yet today and they have the right to defend themselves and their land.

    I am not a scholar or historian. The following is my train of thought:

    From Genesis 12:
    “Now the LORD said to Abram: Get out of your country, From your family and from your father’s house. To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

    Genesis 17:
    “God talked with him (Abraham), saying: As for me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. . . I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant . . . I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

    Genesis 25:
    (Isaac, Abraham’s son)
    “The LORD said to (Isaac’s wife, Rebekah): ‘Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.’ . . . the first to come out was . . . Esau. Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob.”

    Deuteronomy 1:
    “Look, the LORD your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the LORD God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.”

    Joshua 1:
    “After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: ‘Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to the–the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. . . Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.”

    Joshua 21:
    “So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it.”
    +++++++++++++++++
    From Paul Greenberg, Jewish World Review, today:
    “Rather than demand Helen Thomas’ dismissal, Mr. Fleischer — and all those others outraged by her hissy fit — ought to send her a thank-you note. Consider this mine. For years her animus toward the Jewish state could be read quite clearly between the lines of her columns, or even smelled. Now she’s admitted it by using the old Go Back Where You Came From ploy against Israel’s Jews. She said they “should get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home.”
    And where would that be? Miss Thomas answered: “Poland. Germany.” The problem for the Helen Thomases of the world is that Israel is where the Jews came from — a minor detail Miss Thomas seems to have overlooked.

    But her point was clear enough: Jews are just interlopers who should get the hell out of the Middle East. Maybe she’s never noticed that Hebrew, like Arabic, is a Semitic language. It’s a mystery how anyone on reading the Torah can deny that this people has it roots among the nomadic tribes of the Fertile Crescent, but mere fact has never been a barrier to bigotry.”

    (Read the whole article: http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/greenberg061410.php3

    Since the beginning of this covenant by God given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, nations have tried to remove the Jews from this land. From Genesis 17, this land is given as an “everlasting” covenant to the Jews. I don’t fear that it will be taken from them again. But they have always had to fight to keep it. Pretty amazing for such a small group of people (6,000,000). God must still be working something out. All I can say is, that is what I believe.

  • Abby
  • Abby

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