Sunday, December 4, 2011

Those Israeli ads about marrying US Jews

The ads have now been pulled, and probably just as well, since some of its backers are religious figures whose behavior is comparable to some of the more conservative Mullahs out there.

However, speaking as a non-Jew (and for myself only), it does seem to me that there is a point to be made here.

The Jewish community in the US, like nearly every other, can't be categorized with a broad brush. There are wide variations in opinions on political and social matters (for instance, you have the ADL who are virulently anti-gun, and you also have the JPFO - Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership). So I would say it's inaccurate, not to mention insulting, for these ads to make a single broad judgment about all US Jews.

Having said that, there is a large bloc of the Jewish vote in the US who have, ever more puzzlingly, consistently voted for candidates with friends and policies that are not particularly friendly to Jewish interests and values(*) and are particularly hostile to Israel (realizing that not all US Jews support Israel), most prominently the election of a president known to have friends and associates, both within the US and overseas, who are not exactly shy about their anti-Semitism.

As many predicted, the actions of this president in office have been harmful not only to Israeli interests, but to the very principles and underpinnings of the type of liberal society (for which the US is a globally recognized "brand name", however tarnished) under which hateful bigotries like anti-Semitism have, for a long time now, had to retreat to the fringes and shadows.

I would say it's arguable that recent developments in Israel, where medieval rabbinical troglodytes have increasingly been, say, pushing women to the back of the bus (literally) among other illiberal measures, are in part a response to the betrayal of US allies and supporters worldwide, including Israel (one imagines, as in a scene from a zombie film, the horror as someone who was once a friend and protector is transformed into a dangerous enemy). One can well imagine some in Israel thinking, "Well, so much for global democracy and freedom. I guess we'll need to dig our heels in now and clamp down for a long siege." Or even (as may be the case in some other countries as well) "Those pesky pro-freedom guys are on the retreat, so it's safe for us troglodytes to come out again."

One can well imagine some Israelis contemplating with horror that subset of Jews in the US who voted for Obama and his friends. What is an Israeli to think of people who, in a country where they are free, have voluntarily adopted the attitude of submission, of dhimmism, of the Judenrat collaborators, and effectively voted to stab in the back a nation and people who have been among those on the front lines struggling to make sure that people (Jewish of any political persuasion, or anyone else for that matter) are never again FORCED to submit to such choices?

I think that disgust is not too strong a word to use in this case (disgust either with cluelessness, or with a deliberate willingness to go down the road in question). And I don't think that one has to be Jewish or Israeli to sympathize with, and experience, that same disgust.

The fundamental question is how much in common two people, or groups of people, can truly have, if one is willing to stand up for freedom, dignity, and a recognized right to exist (as a person, or a nation) while the other is willing to quietly (even enthusiastically) submit to the path of slavery.

And perhaps that is the real basis of the political divide in some other cultures, and countries, I can think of.

(*) Some might hope that the recent upset election result for Anthony Weiner's former Congressional seat is an early indicator of a change in direction.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Death of a College

Upsala College was successful and stable for a century, then, in the space of a few years, declined and then finally closed. What happened?

Hmm, let's see. They remained committed to the town in which they were located, and made a principled decision not to "selfishly flee" (a phrase others have often used) to a new site out in the country that had been offered as a donation. They offered fully-funded places to needy students in the local community who would not otherwise have been able to qualify for admission academically (even though such programs typically have a high drop-out rate).

They did all the correct "progressive", "sensitive" things. In theory, the college, and town, should now be peaceful, happy utopias.

Oops. The college developed financial problems and, after 100 mostly successful and stable years, went bust. The financial problems had been building for years, as had problems with crime in the surrounding area which had begun affecting the campus. New Jersey's notoriously punitive tax regime, particularly property taxes, almost certainly played a significant part as well.

After closure, the college property fell into ruin, a grateful city that now owned the buildings failing to care for them properly or, for the most part, put them to effective new use. The town in which the college is located is economically depressed and has become known as a haven for crime.

Some colleges and universities that have been absorbed by growing cities have thrived following that, becoming treasured beacons and havens in their communities. The university I attended is just one example.

But this one failed. I wonder why. I wonder if there are differing political philosophies under which different cities are governed, which have noticeably different outcomes.

Guess which major US party has governed in that locality, and much of that state, for decades?

Hint: It doesn't start with an 'R'.

I wonder what would happen to an entire country that was governed in the same manner as New Jersey and the town of East Orange, and where education and other productive enterprises (and people) were treated with a similar level of predatory disrespect?

More photos of the former Upsala campus (now mostly gone) can be seen here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords and Anna Lindh

I sense certain similarities between the Gabrielle Giffords attack and the murder of Swedish/EU politician Anna Lindh, murdered in 2003 (also by someone who was "mentally disturbed but had no political motive"). ... obituaries

Both principled, both center-leaning members of a left-wing party, both members of political organizations (the US Democrats and the EU, respectively) known for taking a dim view of principled dissidents in their ranks.

The EU takes such a dim view, in fact, that in one case one of their own went into hiding in fear of his life, after receiving death threats for refusing to ignore huge financial audit issues in the EU government.

One big difference: When Giffords was attacked, in a crowded public location, people piled onto the attacker and disarmed him.

When Lindh was attacked, also in a crowded public area, no one intervened, as she ran screaming from the knife-wielding attacker who ended up murdering her as the crowd looked on.

I wonder what could explain the notoriously cruel and barbaric Americans leaping to the defense of a woman under attack, while kindly and civilized Swedes stood by and watched a woman get stabbed to death, then allowed the perpetrator to run away? ... abbed.html

Rather than seeking an answer in DNA, I wonder if there is a systematic explanation. Perhaps it's due to the fact that in most of the US (including Arizona), people are permitted the legal right and means to self defense, and the use of force in defense of others, whereas in Sweden, people are to a great extent denied any legal means to self-defense, and legally Sweden shares with the UK (notoriously hostile to self-defense of any kind) the notion of allowable levels of "proportional response" to an attack.

As in such "gun-free paradises" like New York, where people are famous for "not getting involved", perhaps those onlookers, realizing they might not only get hurt trying to stop Lindh's attacker, but that they or their families might (as in the UK) get a "visit" later from friends of his, decided "better her than me".

As we have seen repeatedly during the past century, there's nothing like a "compassionate and humane" regime to create conditions that are dangerous and unjust, which force people into making despicable, cruel, even fatal, decisions, in order to save their own skins.