Anti-justice? Wow.

Television and radio host Glenn Beck has, as Steve Benen puts it "doubled down" on his opposition to Christian churches that speak of "social justice."

Yesterday, Beck told his radio listeners to "look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church Web site. … If you find [them], run as fast as you can. … They are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!"

As Joe Carter noted at First Things, taking Beck's advice would require all Roman Catholics to leave that church, since "Social Justice" is — for Catholics as for almost every longstanding Christian denomination — an integral aspect of the church's teaching. ("Social Justice" is, in fact, the title of Section One, Chapter Two, Article 3 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

Glenn Beck continued his attack on "social justice" today, arguing that it entails "a perversion of the gospel" and is "not what Jesus would say" (MediaMatters has the audio).

This is an astonishing claim to anyone who's ever had a Bible and their eyes open at the same time. Justice is an inescapable, relentless, pervasive, nearly omnipresent theme of that entire volume. It is impossible to read the law and the prophets, the Gospels and epistles, the histories, wisdom literature and apocalypse without being confronted incessantly with the theme of justice, justice, justice, justice, justice, justice, justice.

That accounts for justice, in the Christian teaching of every Christian church, being regarded as a cardinal virtue and an attribute of God.

I'm guessing that Beck would argue that he's not opposing justice per se, only "social justice" — which he sees as a "code word" for Nazicommunism or something. But this is nonsense. Not just the slander that every Christian from the original disciples on down is a Nazicommunist, but the very idea that it's possible to speak of "justice" as distinct from "social justice."

Justice is, by definition, social. Justice, by definition, is something that exists only between and among individuals and groups of individuals and groups of groups. One might argue that "social justice" is redundant, but one cannot oppose "social justice" without opposing justice itself.

(I can't even imagine what "individual justice" might mean. Perhaps some kind of self-help therapeutic babble — "You need to be fair to you …" Or maybe the title of a violent action movie starring Vin Diesel as a judge whose daughter has been kidnapped by drug dealers.)

That trailblazers of wingnuttery like Glenn Beck would explicitly condemn justice itself shouldn't be surprising. You'll recall that just a few months ago, Beck and his allies (including most of the Republican caucus in Congress) were loudly railing against a related prerequisite virtue, empathy.

Yes, that's right, they said empathy was bad. Once they decided that, then it was only a matter of time before they were bound to come out against justice as well, because empathy is the foundation of justice. (See if you can arrive at some conception of justice that does not rely upon empathy. No philosopher, ethicist or religious genius ever yet has managed to do so.)

Let me be clear: When Glenn Beck asserts that justice is incompatible with the Gospel and with the teachings of Christ, he is not following the Pauline/Augustinian argument that perfect love transcends justice ("Justice that is only justice is less than justice," in Reinhold Niebuhr's phrase). He is, rather, saying that justice itself is a bad thing.

Glenn Beck is anti-justice. And he's telling his radio audience that Jesus Christ was anti-justice. It's hard to see how that doesn't make Glenn Beck anti-Christ. (The word there is an adjective, but the noun would also seem to fit.)

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  • Ursula L

    American Jews, right now, don’t need Israel. Other Jews do.
    There are a couple of problems with this.
    First, Israeli immigration policy does not distinguish between Jews who “need” Israel and those who don’t. Anyone Jewish can immigrate at pretty much any time. If the goal was a safe place for those who needed it, then the immigration policy is over-broad. Arguing that the purpose is a safe place for those who need it doesn’t fit with an actual policy of immigration without consideration for need.
    Second, the territory of Israel is simply not large enough to support the population that is created and growing according to this type of immigration policy.
    Third, using Israel as a safe-haven without demographic consideration is self-defeating. As has been seen over and over, the expansion of settlements necessary to house the increasing population inevitably encroaches on Palestinian communities. As long as settlers continue to take homes and land from Palestinian individuals and families against their will, violent resistance to the encroachment and seizure will continue, and the so-called “safe-haven” will not actually be safe.
    Fourth, of course, is that moral arguments for the need for a “safe-haven” collapse when the means used to attempt to create that “safe-haven” inflict on others the same sort of hardship that the “safe-haven” is allegedly being created to protect people from.
    And finally, getting to be the ones inflicting injustice instead of the ones having injustice inflicted upon is not the same thing as creating justice.

  • http://j.com/ Tonio

    but you can’t get married if you’re not Jewish enough for the Orthodox rabbinate.

    If I was in that situation, I can imagine myself questioning the rabbi’s right to make that judgment in the first place, particularly if I wasn’t Orthodox. As a matter of general principle, the idea of no civil or interfaith marriage rankles my First Amendment sensibilities. (I know we’re not talking about the US, but still…)

  • Anton Mates

    If I was in that situation, I can imagine myself questioning the rabbi’s right to make that judgment in the first place, particularly if I wasn’t Orthodox.

    Plenty of secular Israelis do. They just don’t have any recourse at the moment, other than going abroad to get married. (Israel recognizes other states’ civil marriages.)

  • Lee Ratner

    You know what gets to me, all the people who have problems with Israel as a Jewish state and maintain that its impossible for a state to be both Jewish and liberal democracy but seem to have no problems with the Muslim-majority states being theocratic to at least a partial extent and having their own miniature UN in the form of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Do you really think that the Middle East would be all sweetness and light without Israel? Without Israel, the Middle East would be Algeria writ large towards its Jewish population. I predict that the vast majority of non-Jews even among Progressives would not give a damn and find some way to justify mass expulsions as being the “stress of modernity” or some other such rubbish. At best Jews might find themselves in citizen stranger status where they are technically equal but really excluded from national life. Again I predict not a lot of people would care except Jews and progressives and others would have all sorts of justifications for this.
    Why should the public schools always teach somebody else’s history and literature? Why should the official values always be somebody else’s values with Jewish values degraded and mocked? Why should Jews want to live in a state where all laws have to be in conformity with shariah? Why should Christians and Muslims have custody and control over our shrines? Why should the customs and culture always be somebody else’s?

  • Rebecca

    Lee, I really don’t like that every comment you make lists these broad assumptions about what other people think. No, I don’t think it’s okay for Muslim-majority states to disenfranchise their Jewish populations. No, I don’t think it’s okay for any country to be a theocracy. I doubt anyone here does. Unfortunately, those countries’ status as a Muslim state does not depend on their disenfranchising Jews, whereas if Israel gave citizenship to Palestinians, Jews would lose their majority. It’s easy to condemn those Muslim states out of hand, but you seem to have trouble condemning Israel for doing the same thing because of what that would entail.

  • Spearmint

    Forgot to answer this bit before:
    I don’t really see why anyone else needs Jews to persist in being Jews. Most ethnic groups don’t persist indefinitely. That doesn’t mean everyone involved gets slaughtered (although that sometimes happens); their descendants just take on new customs and identities. I don’t find that to be terribly tragic, personally.
    Oh, I agree. I’ve always thought the anti-globalization/assimilation/appropriation frenzy on the Left is a bit of an over-reaction- all cultures are syncretic. (Not that this means anyone has the right to force other people to give up their culture, obviously.)
    But people have been providing pretty strong incentives to Jews to assimilate for a long time, and it hasn’t worked. At some point it seems to me you just have to throw up your hands and say, “Fuck it, go be a discrete religious/ethnic group if you want it so badly.” And if people are going to be that fussy about it, it giving them their own country/province/whatever where they can go fail to assimilate without getting in everyone’s way seems like a sensible response.
    Hamas seems exceptionally convinced that they have God on their side.
    They have time on their side, which is almost as good. All they have to do is wait around and make a peace process completely impossible (and aren’t the Israelis glad to help in that endeavor!) until the conditions get so bad that the international community feels compelled to step in and force a solution. And the more Israel invaginates the West Bank with settlements, the more impossible a two state solution becomes. Since it’s very much in the Palestinians’ interest to get a one state solution, this is a brilliant strategy. Of course, it requires sacrificing this generation of Palestinians to terrible suffering, but you know. Hamas.
    Not that the immigrants in question have the power or responsibility to implement those options, but us wealthier societies certainly do.
    Are we going to, though? Our general policy seems to be “Redefine things as not-genocide so we don’t feel compelled to intervene” not “Save people.” Not that a world in which Jews get saved and everyone else is left to twist is much of an improvement, but I don’t think the Jews should have to wait for the rest of the world to get its act together if their international community is actually willing to help them.
    I don’t see how this is different from your telling Palestinians “You should solve your oppression problems by sucking it up and moving away, not by trying to get a state in your homeland.”
    a) I’m for them having a state in their homeland. I’m for them having a better state then their current crappily allocated state, actually. I’m just not in favor of them having the only state.
    b) My problem is with people telling underprivileged people that the strategies they believe are working for them, aren’t. Insofar as, say, Hamas’s strategy is working for them, I’ll defend that too, and any Palestinian who wants to support them. It just seems to me that most of the Palestinians would rather have peaceful, normal lives than be stuck in refugee camps indefinitely, and as far as that goes, not assimilating is a bad idea (which is why I think Jordan et al. should help them out; it’s not the Palestinians I’m irritated with). Anyone who is really determined to keep the land above feeding their kids or whatever should stick to their guns.
    Imagine a hypothetical reality where what you sometimes hear people say is true – that WWII happened to stop the Holocaust. Over twelve million Soviet civilians died in the war. Would the Holocaust have been acceptable if it was a direct alternative to the deaths of twelve million other people?
    I would say given the level of Soviet military preparation at the time Hitler attacked them, if Hitler hadn’t attacked the Soviet Union and they had some reason to believe he wouldn’t later, they shouldn’t have attacked themselves, no. You’re not obligated to do suicidal things to save other countries’ citizens. (Which is one of the reasons I don’t think the Palestinians should get dragged into Israel’s foreign adventures.) Of course, this would have saved a million Jews, too.
    If Hitler had asked them to turn over Soviet Jewry, at that point I think they would have to refuse and go to war over the issue if they had to, because a country that you knew would turn over its citizens to be murdered on demand really wouldn’t be worth living in for all the people left alive.
    (If you’re interested in having this conversation, I can also ask, would it have been acceptable for the Jews to murder the Palestinians instead of displacing them?)
    No, killing them would be too high a cost. If they’d had to move everyone by force, that would have been too high a cost too- they don’t need nearly as much territory as they currently have. Insofar as they did murder people, I definitely think they shouldn’t have done that.
    Taxes are totally like ethnic cleansing!!1!!
    No, but the principle is the same.
    There are a few definitions of “Israel’s existence as a Jewish state,” but none of them are sustainable as a democracy without a separate state of Palestina.
    No disagreement there.
    above-board, notified-well-in-advance stadium/highway/ballpark/whatever constructions that involve municipal hearings and compensation payouts
    Oh, come on. You don’t seriously think that eminent domain usually happens with the consent of the community that’s affected? What happens is that other people- usually richer, whiter people in the yuppier parts of the city, or people who live in the city the reservoir is going to supply rather than the people in the soon-to-be-flooded valley, or whatever- out-vote or out-buy the votes of the people affected, and then they get forcibly moved. If they’re lucky they get compensated at full value, very often not.
    How is that any different, legally speaking, from the Central Committee deciding that all the Tatars need to be moved to Siberia to make room for a nuclear test site? The motivation is different, but the amount of legal recourse the victims have is pretty similar.
    I like my country, but it ain’t perfect, and I wouldn’t want to imply that it is.
    You are ahead of, say, Italy, however. :)
    If the goal was a safe place for those who needed it, then the immigration policy is over-broad.
    I agree, but I think that is still the underlying intent of the policy, and trying to parse it into need-based or not need-based immigration would be tricky. Obviously if you live in New York you don’t need to flee, but what if you live in France, where synagogues have been fire-bombed? How much need constitutes need?
    the expansion of settlements necessary
    …The Israeli government has to subsidize them to fill them. It’s not like they’re a response to a housing crisis. Their levels of immigration aren’t so high that they can’t fit everyone in Israel proper.
    And finally, getting to be the ones inflicting injustice instead of the ones having injustice inflicted upon is not the same thing as creating justice.
    Well, it depends on the degree of injustice, surely? I mean, if you have an injustice worth 10 injustice points and you replace it with an injustice worth 6 injustice points you’ve reduced net injustice. To go back to the bread example, if I’m starving and I steal your bread, I’ve wronged you but compensated for the wrong society did me by putting me in a position where I was starving. Isn’t this is a more just scenario than me starving to death?
    As a matter of general principle, the idea of no civil or interfaith marriage rankles my First Amendment sensibilities.
    The real question is, where does Israel get off telling people who have been living there for centuries they can’t be legally married. Seriously, WTF? The country needs a civil war.
    Why should Christians and Muslims have custody and control over our shrines?
    Presumably because they were the ones controlling them in 1900 and you’re not supposed to invade countries just because they have something you want?

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    I have to agree with Rebecca, Lee: it’s neither reasonable or persuasive to lay about you with accusations left and right like this. It doesn’t actually address what anybody is saying about Israel’s policies and actions; all it does is deflect by saying, ‘Other people are bad.’ That’s not very constructive, and doesn’t really come across as listening to what anyone else is saying beyond scanning it for a binary ‘pro-Israel’ or ‘anti-Semite’ distinction that hardly seems appropriate to the complexities of human nature.

  • Tonio (“Whaddya mean I’m defensive?”)

    Lee, I really don’t like that every comment you make lists these broad assumptions about what other people think. No, I don’t think it’s okay for Muslim-majority states to disenfranchise their Jewish populations. No, I don’t think it’s okay for any country to be a theocracy. I doubt anyone here does.

    Excellent point. To me, Lee’s posts seem very defensive of Israel and of Jews in general. Whenever someone criticizes Israeli policies, the response is that critics are unfairly singling out Israel and are often motivated by bigotry. That reminds me uncomfortably of how Bill Donahue flings accusations of hatred at anyone who criticizes Catholic doctrine or the Church hierarchy.

    Unfortunately, those countries’ status as a Muslim state does not depend on their disenfranchising Jews, whereas if Israel gave citizenship to Palestinians, Jews would lose their majority.

    My primary focus is on the religious freedom of the individual, and by extension the religious freedom of groups. Even with a two-state solution in the Levant, each state would have religious minorities whose members deserve the same rights as the members of the religious majority. And it wouldn’t be realistic to expect the religious situations in those countries to remain static, because of factors like immigration and conversion. So which religion is in the majority or minority in any country is not all that important to me. What is important to me is finding a solution that offers as much protection for everyone’s religious freedom as possible.

  • JE

    I don’t think anyone on this thread, JE included, is arguing that Israel needs to cease to exist, or that the Israelis should all pack up and move somewhere else

    First depends on how much you can change a country before it’s not the same country (the lack of clarity here is why saying a country has a right to exist can be anywhere from useless to tyranical, to liberal and it can be destroyed in fact even if it’s protected in name, to strict and in it can be used to block reforms that are both wanted and needed), the second is a definate “no”, not only is that not needed to make them to so would be wrong, as wrong as the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians

  • Lee Ratner

    I realize that my comments were over broad. I just read two very infuriating Juan Cole columns and Salon.com and this more than a little influenced my vote. I am not accusing anybody on this thread of being in favor of Muslims persecuting Jews. There is a certain type of critic of Israel that find particularly infuriating though and its those that find the concept of a Jewish state inherently racist but seem to have no problems with Muslim states or even a mini-Muslim United Nations in the form of Organization of the Islamic Conference. Its the people who romanticize the dhimmi system, and if you replace Muslim with White and Jew with Black but kept the basic workings of the Dhimmi system, there is no way that it would be called tolerance. I’m also not pleased with how these people are capable of ignoring all the official and unofficial Jew-hatred in the societies of many Muslim majority countries or a least explaining it away.
    Sometimes I feel that Jews are used by Left as a source of foot soldiers and support but ignored when we need help. Frequent appeals are made to us and we are told that we should support this or that cause because we were persecuted but when we need help, we’re ignored. This pattern has existed since at least the late 19th century and continues to the present. Sometimes I feel that there is a lot of will-blindness towards anti-Semitism if it is thought that a particularly noble cause could be thrawted by calling attention to it, the Algerian independence movement is a good example of this willful blindness.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    There is a certain type of critic of Israel that find particularly infuriating though and its those that find the concept of a Jewish state inherently racist but seem to have no problems with Muslim states or even a mini-Muslim United Nations in the form of Organization of the Islamic Conference.
    If you want to rant about them, you need to cite stuff, preferably with quotations. You also need to ask yourself whether it’s relevant to anything anyone said in the discussion actually taking place. Without those two things, it’s going to come across as a broad accusation of everyone who doesn’t agree with you in every possible respect.

  • Lee Ratner

    The Israeli government recognizes interfaith marriages, I’m not exactly sure of the mechanics of it but they are recognized. Non-Jewish and children of Israeli citizens can get Israeli citizenship through their spouces. Its rare but Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have gotten Israeli citizenship by marrying Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews. Children of said marriages are Israeli citizens. If Jewish person with a non-Jewish spouse and children immigrates to Israel under the Law of Return, the non-Jewish spouse and children also receive automatic Israeli citizenship. There was a lot of anger by Orthodox Israeli Jews at the Israeli governments for accepting a lot of Christians and other non-Jewish with the huge influx of Soviet and Ethiopian Jews during the 1990s.
    The reason why their are no civil marriages in Israel is more complicated. During the Ottoman Empire, their were no civil marriages and matters of personal status were under the control of their respective religious communities. The British continued the system under the Mandate and the Israeli government also decided to continue the system after independence. It worked and nobody really objected to it plus it was away to keep the Ultra-Orthodox Jews quiet because they controlled the Rabbinate. It was a kind of a buy-off, Ultra-Orthodox Jews would be in control of Jewish marriages, divorces, conversions, and determining whether food was kosher in return for keeping their anti-Zionism quiet and not loudly proclaiming how they would rather be second-class citizens under Muslim rule. The system really does not work anymore but the Ultra-Orthodox are powerful enough to block any attempts to reform the marriage system in Israel, especially since non-Jewish Israelis really seem to favor the status quo.

  • Spearmint

    Whenever someone criticizes Israeli policies, the response is that critics are unfairly singling out Israel and are often motivated by bigotry.
    While it in no way invalidates the critiques and the knee-jerk accusations of anti-Semitism are really problematic, the biased reporting is a problem. It’s a little like how the Republicans get hysterical about judicial activism if it results in a liberal verdict but are mysteriously silent when the Supreme Court overturns a hundred years of campaign finance regulation precedent- okay, legislating from the bench isn’t good, but when their concern is so utterly selective it’s hard worry as much about judicial activism as you do about the Republicans’ real agenda.
    the second is a definate “no”, not only is that not needed to make them to so would be wrong, as wrong as the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians
    Er… for the right of return people to get their farms back someone has to pack up and move, surely? Off the farm, if not out of the country.
    You also need to ask yourself whether it’s relevant to anything anyone said in the discussion actually taking place. Without those two things, it’s going to come across as a broad accusation of everyone who doesn’t agree with you in every possible respect.
    Yeah, this.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    This is one of those things where I’m probably way off base. But I don’t think it’s antisemitism per se if the west treats israel different from the way it treats the western world. If a european country tried the kinds of policies that people have complained about in israel, I think they’d get the same response. It’s not antisemitism, it’s *israel being held to the same standard as the west*. When western coutnries ignore similar things in the muslim world, that’s not because of antisemitism: *it’s because of anti-islamicism*. We also pay way less attention to genocide in africa than we do to a missing white woman in a wealthy DC suburb — imagine someone complaining that it was anti-white-american-male-ism that *he* got sent to jail for just *one little murder* when, had he been a general in a third world country, he could have murdered *lots* of people without any reprisal.

  • Tonio

    I think they’d get the same response. It’s not antisemitism, it’s *israel being held to the same standard as the west*. When western coutnries ignore similar things in the muslim world, that’s not because of antisemitism: *it’s because of anti-islamicism*

    Good point. I object to theocratic ideas in any culture, while observing that the ideas advocated by the Ultra-Orthodox Jews don’t seem to be as horrific as those of the Iranian mullahs. I usually don’t post condemnations of the latter because from my reading, no Slacktivite has endorsed or justified that type of government. I see no difference in principle from objecting to a lack of civil marriage in Israel and a lack of same-sex marriage in an American state, since both involve religious groups controlling or dictating government policy.

  • Lee Ratner

    Kit: I was primary raging against Juan Cole, an intellectual who I find particularly infuriating because he’s on the record as beliving that it was evil for Jews to immigrate to Israel/Palestine. Meanwhile, Professor Cole has written books about how the United States could engage the Muslim world, entitled “Engaging the Muslim World.” To me this signals that Professor Cole as no problems with their being a “Muslim world” but he does have problems with a “Jewish state.” There are plenty of other pro-Palestinian activists like this, particularly those coming from the world of Islamic Studies. There is nothing wrong with wanting to study Islam but one should not be surprised if Jews are more than a little suspicious about their anti-Zionism. Especially when these intellectuals romanticize the Dhimmi laws, which to me is about the same as romanticizing separate but equal. Everything a Muslim leader says is taken at face value or spinned away. Re, the monstrous anti-Semitism of Algeria’s FLN. Yeah the Algerian FLN heroically kicked the French out of the country. That did not give them an excuse to do the same to Algeria’s Jews even though they possessed French citizenship.

  • Anton Mates

    Lee Ratner,

    You know what gets to me, all the people who have problems with Israel as a Jewish state and maintain that its impossible for a state to be both Jewish and liberal democracy but seem to have no problems with the Muslim-majority states being theocratic to at least a partial extent and having their own miniature UN in the form of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

    Well, three things:
    1) I don’t have a problem with Israel as a Jewish state, and I don’t think anyone else on this thread does either. As I said, my problem (in this particular area) is with Israel as a legally-enforced majority-Jewish state. A state which happens to have a majority-Jewish population is fine, just like a state with a majority-anything population. And a state whose laws are largely based on Jewish norms and ethics is also fine; any democracy is going to have laws largely based on the norms of its dominant religion, although obviously a liberal democracy has to balance that against the rights of citizens who don’t belong to that religion. It’s when you’ve got laws that are explicitly designed to keep one ethnic/religious group in power that there’s a problem.
    2) Pointing to Muslim theocracies as a counter-example makes no sense; Muslim theocracies aren’t liberal democracies. Seriously, “Like Iran, but Jewish!” doesn’t seem to be the aspiration of most citizens and supporters of Israel. Not even Netanyahu.
    3) Who are “all the people” who criticize Israel, yet have no problem with repression and theocracy in Islamic countries? I don’t think a week goes by without Amnesty International or another liberal group releasing a report on human rights violations somewhere in the Muslim world. Heck, even Western conservatives (sometimes) worry about human rights violations when it’s Muslims doing the violating. The US has been more or less continuously pushing for regime change in various Muslim countries for the last thirty years, via sanctions, threats and bombing. We’re currently at war in two Muslim countries, with one of our explicit goals the prevention of political dominance of extremist Islam. Meanwhile, Israel gets a few billion dollars a year in aid, our assistance in the event of any major war, and honorary EU status when it comes to grants and loans.
    So far as I can see, Israel takes way less crap for its human rights violations than the average Muslim country does. (Saudi Arabia’s the primary exception, I think.) That’s not because of a global Jewish media conspiracy or anything, it’s mostly just because a powerful Israel is useful to a lot of our pragmatic foreign policy goals while a powerful Iran or Libya is not.

    Do you really think that the Middle East would be all sweetness and light without Israel?

    No. But no one is saying we should get rid of Israel in the first place.

    Without Israel, the Middle East would be Algeria writ large towards its Jewish population.

    As I’ve said before, Algeria’s not a good example for this argument, because Algeria’s treatment of its Jewish population is largely due to the same factors that are fueling opposition to Israel. Namely, a European colonial power wrecked any sense of multicultural solidarity among the native population by treating the Arabs like crap and granting the Jews superior status. (Though not a status as high as the French Christians, of course, haha, don’t be silly.) France secured Jewish support during the Algerian War for long enough to ensure that the Jews would be viewed as national traitors, then promptly threw them under the bus when it relinquished the country.

    I predict that the vast majority of non-Jews even among Progressives would not give a damn and find some way to justify mass expulsions as being the “stress of modernity” or some other such rubbish.

    And I think that prediction’s totally unjustified. Much of Western foreign policy orbits around Israel; it’s practically the only country about which we consistently do give a damn. If there’s one thing bleeding-heart progressives, oil-hungry war hawks and crazy Armageddon-happy evangelicals agree on, it’s that Israel’s continued existence is a good thing. Can you seriously see the US or Europe not caring if crazy Islamic extremists take over Israel and kick everybody else out?

    Why should the public schools always teach somebody else’s history and literature? Why should the official values always be somebody else’s values with Jewish values degraded and mocked? Why should Jews want to live in a state where all laws have to be in conformity with shariah?

    Why are these the only options? Historically, Palestine’s been quite uninterested in Sharia. Even Hamas, which is about as hardline Muslim as any Palestinian governmental or paragovernmental organization’s ever been, has disclaimed any intention of institutionalizing Sharia. What makes you think that if Israel ended up with a significant Muslim minority–or even a majority–it would instantly turn into Saudi Arabia? With the relatively wealthy and socially entrenched Jewish population, secular and Christian Palestinians, and the West all pushing to prevent that?

    Why should Christians and Muslims have custody and control over our shrines? Why should the customs and culture always be somebody else’s?

    Because that’s how democracy works. No one in a liberal democracy has full control over “their” shrines or unchallenged authority over the national culture. Control is shared. As long as Israel’s not overtly embracing theocracy or something, it has to deal with that.

    I just read two very infuriating Juan Cole columns and Salon.com and this more than a little influenced my vote.

    Link us! This thread could use more data points to chew over. I usually find Juan Cole quite rational on the topic, but I’m willing to revise my opinion.

  • JE

    Er… for the right of return people to get their farms back someone has to pack up and move, surely? Off the farm, if not out of the country.

    there is a huge difference between the two. Any forced movement of people should only happen if it’s sufficiently nessecary, and even then it should be as specific as possible (in this and most cases limited in scope to a single property, if it were decided that they shouldn’t be allowed to live in the same nabourhood let alone the same country this would be a cross violation of their rights, and all possible steps should be taken to minimize the need and impact, that means offering refugees compansation instead of return, and offering them other similar or equivilent properties which can then be acquired through normal means, and the return should staggered over at least a decade to minimize the difficulty for those displaced.
    In the end eminent domain is not ethnic cleansing because it opperates on an entirely different level for entirely different reasons

  • Tonio

    While I’m not familiar with Juan Cole, I’m wary about the idea of offering up anyone as an example of a “typical” intellectual. Intellectualism is such a broad concept that it doesn’t seem to me to be a true political philosophy. It wouldn’t seem unreasonable to me to find intellectuals among both liberals and conservatives.
    Anton’s first point is the same one I was making, although more effectively expressed. And I agree with the second point.

    What makes you think that if Israel ended up with a significant Muslim minority–or even a majority–it would instantly turn into Saudi Arabia?

    Yes. That sounds to me like saying that any country that ended up with a significant Jewish population would turn into an ultra-Orthodox theocracy. Or that any country with a significant Christian population would become a Republic of Gilead. Are those fair comparisons?

  • Tonio

    although more effectively expressed
    To make sure my meaning is clear, I was crediting Anton with more effectively articulating the argument.

  • Anton Mates

    Ross,

    This is one of those things where I’m probably way off base. But I don’t think it’s antisemitism per se if the west treats israel different from the way it treats the western world. If a european country tried the kinds of policies that people have complained about in israel, I think they’d get the same response. It’s not antisemitism, it’s *israel being held to the same standard as the west*.

    Exactly. We know the Israeli government is Not As Bad As Kim Jong-il or the Taliban, thanks. The question is whether it’s behaving up to par with other Western democracies.
    Lee,

    Kit: I was primary raging against Juan Cole, an intellectual who I find particularly infuriating because he’s on the record as beliving that it was evil for Jews to immigrate to Israel/Palestine. Meanwhile, Professor Cole has written books about how the United States could engage the Muslim world, entitled “Engaging the Muslim World.” To me this signals that Professor Cole as no problems with their being a “Muslim world” but he does have problems with a “Jewish state.”

    Again, citations would be good. But from your description, those aren’t parallel issues. Does Cole deny that Muslims did evil things in the past? Does he believe that the US should not engage the Jewish world?

    Yeah the Algerian FLN heroically kicked the French out of the country. That did not give them an excuse to do the same to Algeria’s Jews even though they possessed French citizenship.

    As far as I can tell, they had exactly the same excuse in both cases. They kicked out native-born Christians, native-born Jews and native-born Muslims who were thought to be “collaborators”–Harkis–on the grounds that all those groups had been on the French side during the war. In the case of each group, this claim was partly right and partly wrong. I don’t think the FLN’s treatment of any of these groups was “heroic”–in fact it was a war crime by any standards–but I don’t see that their treatment of Algerian Jews was more atrocious than their treatment of everybody else.

  • Another Chris

    Just a point, Anton:
    “Much of Western foreign policy orbits around Israel; it’s practically the only country about which we consistently do give a damn.”
    You might want to amend that to USA foreign policy. Hard to say that all of the Western world agrees on anything in terms of foreign policy.

  • Anton Mates

    Spearmint,

    But people have been providing pretty strong incentives to Jews to assimilate for a long time, and it hasn’t worked. At some point it seems to me you just have to throw up your hands and say, “Fuck it, go be a discrete religious/ethnic group if you want it so badly.”

    See, I’d say that Jewish assimilation is working right now, and is picking up speed. The Wikipedia article on interfaith marriage is the only citation I have time to grab at the moment, but as far as I know Jews are intermarrying with other groups at an increased rate pretty much everywhere in the world. Orthodox rabbis in both the US and Britain bemoan the “silent Holocaust” of Jews drifting away from their religion, and even in Israel itself groups like Yad L’Achim and Lev L’Achim feel like there’s a plague of miscegenation they’re called to oppose, sometimes through force.
    I think that’s mostly due to the rise of secularism, really. Jews bristled at historical demands that they convert to Christianity or Islam, but now that marrying a non-Jew who’s just as apathetic about their religious and ethnic background as you are about yours is an option, they’re often taking it.
    So I don’t see any reason to think that “the Jews” are crazily committed to ethnic separatism. There are separatist Jews just like there are separatist Muslims and Christians, and of course they have the right to try to avoid intermingling with the heathens, but they don’t speak for the whole of their people.

  • Anton Mates

    Another Chris,

    You might want to amend that to USA foreign policy. Hard to say that all of the Western world agrees on anything in terms of foreign policy.

    Agreed, but I’m still comfortable saying that “much of Western policy” operates on the assumption of Israel’s importance. The Western world is often sharply divided on its opinion of particular Israeli actions and policies, but there are very few Western states (bigger than Luxembourg, anyway) who act like they just don’t care about the issue. And virtually all of Western Europe has close military/economic ties with Israel, and has expressed support for its continued existence.
    If Israel was overrun by militant Islamists who drove all the Jews into the sea, I can’t imagine any major Western state going “ho hum, these things do happen, what’s on TV tonight?” If for no other reason than because everyone in the world would be going “ohshitohshitohshit who’s gonna fire their nukes first we’re all gonna die.”

  • Lee Ratner

    Here is a link to the Juan Cole article I found infuriating:
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/feature/2010/03/17/goldberg_israel_nationalism
    Here is a link to a New Republic article explaining why I found the article infuriating better than I can:
    http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/juan-coles-ignorance
    The reason why I think that a one-state solution is not going to be particularly friendly toward the Jews and would lean towards excluding the Jews in national narrative was that historically even the secular Palestinian nationalists, and this goes back before the Balfour Declaration, have defined Palestinian as basically being the non-Jewish parts of the Land and that a Palestine state by nature must reduce Jewish connections to meaninglessness. I feel that they will have a lot of support in this from other Arab and Muslim nations. Plus the rise of Hamas and Political Islam in general does not make me enthusiastic. Plus most nations with large Jewish populations, in Europe and the Middle East, have a very poor record of incorporating their Jewish minorities into the national narrative. Somehow, I doubt this would upset people in the same way that people are upset about Texas Board of Education is attempting to remove minorities from the American national narrative.

  • Jeff

    [[As I said, my problem (in this particular area) is with Israel as a legally-enforced majority-Jewish state.]]
    If Israel isn’t a “legally-enforced” Jewish state, it won’t be a Jewish state at all.
    [[What makes you think that if Israel ended up with a significant Muslim minority–or even a majority–it would instantly turn into Saudi Arabia?]]
    What I could see is South Africa at best, and Zimbabwe at worst. I don’t hear any Mandela’s (or even Tutu’s) emerging from the Palestinians, so my gut feeling is that Israel would lean much more towards Zimbabwe.

  • Launcifer

    Completely off-topic for the current discussion, I know, but I was perusing the weirdwide web and found this little article about the inestimable Mr Beck (I’ll refrain from typing his first name since, no matter what keys my fingers hit, it will come out as “Jeff”). Possibly not to everyone’s taste, but I thought it might interest some(one).
    Oh, yeah, Fulham beat Juventus this evening. Just thought I’d share that, apropos of nothing.

  • Spearmint

    @Ross: You make a very good point, but “Muslims are crazy savages and we can’t expect better from them” is not an agenda I’m eager to promote either, even if it is Al Jazeera that’s voicing it.
    That sounds to me like saying that any country that ended up with a significant Jewish population would turn into an ultra-Orthodox theocracy</i
    Well, we’re one for one so far… Israel is nothing like Iran but I don’t think you can really call it a secular democracy.
    Anton, re. intermarriage: yes… but there have always been Jews who intermarried or converted, and there have always been a rump of Jews who refused to assimilate. It’s a little like boiling off a liquid, maybe, if the gloop at the bottom was alive and constantly reproducing itself. You’ve got priests whining about intermarriage and conversion in the Torah, and I suspect 500 years from now analogous rabbis will be bemoaning the same issues. It would be nice if in the future the world will be secular/not-racist enough that intransigent Jewishness isn’t considered a good reason to harass or murder people, and we are making huge progress in that direction, but I’m not that optimistic.
    people are upset about Texas Board of Education is attempting to remove minorities from the American national narrative.
    Hey, they’re removing Jefferson too! They’re equal opportunity revisionists!

  • Spearmint

    Oh sodding hell.

    Let’s try that again.

  • http://funwithrage.livejournal.com Izzy

    Wait, they’re removing Jefferson? How does that even *work*? I mean…dude was a president. One of the first presidents. Don’t they think the students are going to get suspicious if they skip from two to four?
    Or are they planning to mumble? “Washington, Adams…Mppphusffff…”
    “What?”
    “Um. M…Mefferson..haffer. He was…Martian.”

  • Lori

    Wait, they’re removing Jefferson? How does that even *work*? I mean…dude was a president. One of the first presidents. Don’t they think the students are going to get suspicious if they skip from two to four?

    IIUC they’re not removing Jefferson altogether. They’re just removing all mention of any connection between his work and Enlightenment thought—presumably because the Enlightenment is a Secular Humanist conspiracy to send everyone to hell. Instead they’re going to talk about Calvin.
    I wish I was making that up.

  • Spearmint

    Because the Declaration of Independence made no contribution to Enlightenment thought, doncha know.
    We’re lucky they’re leaving in the Enlightenment at all. Next time they revise the curriculum they’re probably redact everything after the Reformation.
    “Martin Luther! Catholics are evil and sell indulgences! *mumble mumble* Pilgrims! *mumble mumble* WW II! We rule, the French suck! *mumble mumble* Regan destroyed Communism! *mumble mubmle* And in conclusion, Obama wants to sell your granny’s kidneys to Al Qaeda.”

  • Spearmint

    they’re probably redact
    Me type English good. Blech. “They’ll probably redact”

  • hapax

    Regan destroyed Communism!
    Yeah, but then she got poisoned by Goneril, so it was all for nothing. :-(

  • Lori

    Because the Declaration of Independence made no contribution to Enlightenment thought, doncha know.

    I think what they’re trying to say is the opposite—that the Enlightenment didn’t have any influence on the Declaration of Independence. After all that messes with the idea that America is a Christian Nation. The RTC version of extreme American Exceptionalism is about a half step from saying that Jesus wrote the Declaration himself.

  • Spearmint

    Dammit. Friggin’ immigrants and their hard-to=spell names. In my defense, the Texas Board of Education may not be able to spell his name either.

  • Lori

    Obama wants to sell your granny’s kidneys to Al Qaeda

    Obama does not want to sell grandma’s kidneys to Al Qaeda—he would never charge them. He’ll just kill grandma and give her parts to the terrorists. Or drug addicted gay hookers who moonlight at abortion doctors—it’s tough to follow the legislative language in that part of the bill.

  • Spearmint

    Obama does not want to sell grandma’s kidneys to Al Qaeda—he would never charge them
    Good point. Clearly I have not been paying enough attention in class. *is ashamed*

  • Launcifer

    Clearly I have not been paying enough attention in class. *is ashamed*

    Even worse, if he’s giving them to Alky Ada – well, the name speaks for itself, doesn’t it? It’s just so damned unAmerican to help someone rectify a situation that they’ve brought upon themselves.

  • Launcifer

    Yeah, but then she got poisoned by Goneril, so it was all for nothing.

    Was this before or after she got possessed by Captain Howdy?

  • Spearmint

    It’s just so damned unAmerican to help someone rectify a situation that they’ve brought upon themselves.
    Fixed that for you.

  • Anton Mates

    Lee,

    Here is a link to the Juan Cole article I found infuriating:
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/feature/2010/03/17/goldberg_israel_nationalism
    Here is a link to a New Republic article explaining why I found the article infuriating better than I can:
    http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/juan-coles-ignorance

    Aside from the stuff about Juan Cole and Jeff Goldberg not liking each other very much, I’m not seeing a lot of support there for the idea that Cole’s opposed to Israel’s existence. Matter of fact, I see Cole write that “I’m not a Palestinian nationalist who insists that they return to what is now Israel (though they should receive compensation for lost property if they don’t).” He does think a one-state solution is more feasible than a two-state solution at the moment, due largely to the settlers.

    The reason why I think that a one-state solution is not going to be particularly friendly toward the Jews and would lean towards excluding the Jews in national narrative was that historically even the secular Palestinian nationalists, and this goes back before the Balfour Declaration, have defined Palestinian as basically being the non-Jewish parts of the Land and that a Palestine state by nature must reduce Jewish connections to meaninglessness.

    And historically the Zionists have defined Israel as being the Jewish part of the land. Certainly they’d both have to compromise.

    I feel that they will have a lot of support in this from other Arab and Muslim nations. Plus the rise of Hamas and Political Islam in general does not make me enthusiastic. Plus most nations with large Jewish populations, in Europe and the Middle East, have a very poor record of incorporating their Jewish minorities into the national narrative.

    True enough. On the upside, the Israeli Jews would be more numerous, wealthy and powerful than any other nation’s Jewish minority in recent history, which would make them harder to disenfranchise. And the international attitude toward ethnic cleansing has shifted a bit since the early 20th century.

    Somehow, I doubt this would upset people in the same way that people are upset about Texas Board of Education is attempting to remove minorities from the American national narrative.

    Heh. Trust me, working with the NCSE has taught me that about 0.5% of the American population actually notices when the Texas BoE does something insane to the curriculum. Israel’s a national obsession by comparison.
    ticular area) is with Israel as a legally-enforced majority-Jewish state.]]
    Jeff,

    If Israel isn’t a “legally-enforced” Jewish state, it won’t be a Jewish state at all.

    If true, that would put Israeli Jews in the position of 99% of the world’s other religious/ethnic communities, which aren’t large enough to dominate their countries democratically either. So it goes.
    I don’t think it is true, though. Israel’s population is 75% Jewish right now; if it went for the two-state option and repealed the Law of Return, it could remain a majority-Jewish state for the foreseeable future. (And if it intended to end legalized discrimination, it would have to either repeal the Law of Return or extend it to Palestinians.)

    What I could see is South Africa at best, and Zimbabwe at worst. I don’t hear any Mandela’s (or even Tutu’s) emerging from the Palestinians, so my gut feeling is that Israel would lean much more towards Zimbabwe.

    I wouldn’t have a problem with a South Africa-style outcome, personally. South Africa isn’t a paradise, but it’s still better than it was before apartheid ended.
    As for Zimbabwe…I doubt it. Whites made up less than 6% of the population there, to begin with and they fell from power by losing an outright civil war, and the Zimbabwean black population was considerably less well-educated than the Palestinians are at the moment, and Zimbabwe didn’t have the US highly invested in making sure it remained a regionally powerful and Western-friendly state. I think Israeli Jews would have a far better chance of retaining high socioeconomic status, even with a Palestinian majority.

  • Anton Mates

    “Um. M…Mefferson..haffer. He was…Martian.”

    You know, I heard that President M’effersonhaffer actually owned a bunch of nubile earth women as slaves, and may even have used his Pregno-Ray to fill them with his squirming Martian spawn. They whitewash all that stuff in most social studies classes.

    Instead they’re going to talk about Calvin.

    And Aquinas! Don’t forget Aquinas.

  • Lori

    The thing is that it’s not true that Americans are unhelpful. We can be really generous. In fact, as we’ve discussed several times that really nasty people are definitely a minority. The problem is that the 25%-30% who are nasty are astonishingly horrible* and they get about 90% of the press.

    .

    *And I mean seriously, stunningly bad. Yesterday there was a Tea Bagger rally in Ohio and a man with Parkinson’s attended to counter-protest and urge people to consider those with chronic debilitating illnesses when they’re thinking about health care. The video of the way he was treated made me cry. I know that people can be rotten, but there is a part of me that just never stops being surprised by the utterly shitty way some people will behave once you get them riled up & convinced that it’s OK to treat “Them” like they’re not human beings.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ik4f1dRbP8&feature=player_embedded

  • Spearmint

    Yesterday there was a Tea Bagger rally in Ohio and a man with Parkinson’s attended to counter-protest and urge people to consider those with chronic debilitating illnesses when they’re thinking about health care
    Yeah, I saw that; it was ghastly. You’d think they’d worry about PR if nothing else, but I guess when Rush Limbaugh’s best rejoinder to an eleven year old whose mother died because she lost her insurance is “She still would have died under Obamacare, because it doesn’t go into effect until 2011!” they’ve gone past the point where they’re worried about PR.

  • JE

    Its the people who romanticize the dhimmi system, and if you replace Muslim with White and Jew with Black but kept the basic workings of the Dhimmi system, there is no way that it would be called tolerance.

    Maybe, but given how often “[Pre abolition figure] treated his slaves well” I’m not convinced

  • http://mabus101.livejournal.com Mabus

    Donalbain: You mean like the British did to the Irish Republicans? Or perhaps, are you extending your own vile racism that suggests it would be OK to commit genocide, and assuming that others would feel the same way?
    To clarify: In no way did I say such an action would have been justified. I said it would have been done. I do not believe any Western society would have tolerated the level of continual bombings on the scale Israel has suffered, from an ethnically identifiable group of people, without attempting to obliterate that group. The Palestineans have escaped this fate only because Israelis are descended from a people (indeed, still have a small number of people alive today) who suffered from an attempted genocide themselves, and therefore know better than to commit it than just about any other ethnic group in existence.
    If large numbers of Native Americans had spent the last fifty years blowing themselves up in the streets of Nashville and Atlanta, killing ordinary civilians on their way to work or school, then sometime in that period–quite possibly as little as five years or less–I have no doubt that Americans would have put aside all moral principle, forgotten whatever wrongs were being protested, and demanded the deaths of every last one. It would be a vicious and evil act–but it would have happened. Doubt it? Consider our reaction to 9/11, essentially a single terrorist incident. Certainly we took some justified safety measures, but there was also a firestorm of anti-Muslim, anti-Middle-Eastern prejudice. Now imagine living with bombing after bombing, day after day, for decades, and ask yourself what the country would look like.
    It’s not a question of whether the Palestineans have legitimate grievances–they do. It’s a question of how much a people can take of the methods the Palestineans are using to try to “fix” them, before they snap.

  • Another Chris

    @Anton: Good point about foreign policy.
    @Spearmint: I like your outline for the history course, but you need to slip a few more “Muslims are evil!” in there.
    Oh, and this:
    “Orthodox rabbis in both the US and Britain bemoan the ‘silent Holocaust’ of Jews drifting away from their religion”
    Because people losing touch with their traditions is the same as genocide. That’s one of the most trivialising statements I’ve heard about the Holocaust, coming from the last people I would expect.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    Kit: I was primary raging against Juan Cole, an intellectual who I find particularly infuriating because he’s on the record as beliving that it was evil for Jews to immigrate to Israel/Palestine.
    Okay, but why rage about him to us? Had anyone spoken in support of Juan Cole? And why expand the writings of one guy into the generic ‘people’ in a way that implies you’re including us?
    Honestly, it feels like you’re downloading prerecorded rants at us. Sorry; I quite agree that anti-Semitism is a serious issue, but you’re using such broad strokes, with only tangential connection to what’s being discussed and the actual subjects of your anger so unclear, that it’s coming across as mass accusations.

  • Lee Ratner

    I really fail to see why so many people are upset about Israel’s Law of Return. Plenty of other countries have similar immigration laws favoring diaspora communities without creating much of an uproar. Ireland, Germany, Japan, and Spain to name a few. To me all the criticism aimed at the Law of Return seems to be nothing more than a double standard.
    Now on to what the position of the Jews would be like in a unified Israel/Palestine:
    On the plus side for the Israeli Jews: There are about 5.6 million Jews in Israel/the Territories. Even with a right of return for the Palestinians, Jews would stil be a fairly sufficient part of the population percentage wise and possess a lot of political power even in minority status. Israeli Jews are also in a fairly entrenched position economically and socially.
    On the negative side for the Israeli Jews: Palestinian Arab leadership going all the way back to Ottoman Palestine never really imagined that the Jews would have a significant role in an independent Palestine. This tradition continues to the present. When the Palestinian leadership has to include a token Jewish presence, they prefer deal with the Ultra-Orthodox, Jews who would pretty much not mind being excluded from the national narrative and life and would like to live in pseudo-ghetto/dhimmi status. They don’t like dealing with Jews that would insist that Jewish heritage should be part of the national narrative and life. The growth of Political Islam is also a negative. Hamas charter wants to declare Israel/Palestine to be a waqf and make non-Muslim land ownership and possibly land rental illegal. The other Arabs and Muslim nations, the countries whose opinion’s the Palestinians would care most about are unlikely to be concerned about the Jews of Palestine.
    Overall, the negatives outweigh the positives.