Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Torah Revolution: Crazy

The Torah Revolution: Crazy

The Torah Revolution: Clearly the notion of a Jewish State has been hijacked

The Torah Revolution: Clearly the notion of a Jewish State has been hijacked



By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Torah Reading: VAYEISHEV Gen. 37:1-40:23; Numbers 7:18-29. Haftara: Zechariah 2:14-4:7.


"These are the generations of Jacob. These are their dwellings and rollings (GILGULIM) until they came to a state of habitation (YISHUV). The first cause was that 'Joseph was seventeen years old.'

" 'And Jacob dwelled.': Jacob wanted to dwell in tranquility, but the storm of Joseph sprang upon him. The tzaddikim want to dwell in tranquility, but the Holy One, blessed be He, says, 'Is it not enough for the tzaddikim that the World to Come is prepared for them, but they want to dwell in tranquility in this world?' " (Rashi on Gen. 37:2).

Now that the Torah has completed the stories of Abraham and Isaac and that part of the story of Jacob in which he is the chief actor, we now turn to the story of Jacob's children: "These are the generations of Jacob". Their "dwellings and rollings" -- as recounted in the remaining four parshiyos of Genesis, allude to all their future history, in the Land of Israel and in exile, until we will finally come to a "state of habitation" (YISHUV) in the Land of Israel, with Melech HaMashiach: a state of YISHUV HADA'AS, "a settled mind" -- expanded consciousness. Jacob sought immediate tranquility in the Land of Israel, but this tranquillity could only be attained in the Future World, after many "rollings" -- (GILGULIM) incarnations and generations.

The Children of Israel are destined to be a Light to the Nations. As such, they must be at peace with each other, for how can they shine to the nations when they are at war with one another? But in our parshah of VAYEISHEV, the Children of Israel were unable to make inner peace: ".And they could not speak to him [Joseph] peaceably" (Gen. 37:4). Joseph exemplified the true leader -- "and he was pasturing his brothers" (v. 2) -- but as yet his brothers could not accept him. He was too saintly. The brothers were still out for themselves: ".They went only to pasture THEMSELVES" (Rashi on Gen. 37:12). Their in-fighting turned into a hypocritical religious war: "They said, Let us go to Dothan" (from the root DAS, "religious law"; Gen. 37:17). They went "to seek out religious contrivances" (NICHLEY DOSOS) in order to kill the true leader (see Rashi on this verse).

Yet Jacob sent Joseph into the middle of all this "from the depth (EMEK, valley) of Hebron" (Gen. 37:14). -- "But surely Hebron is on a MOUNTAIN, as it says, 'And they ASCENDED from the south and he came to Hebron' (Numbers 13:22)??? But what it means is FROM THE DEEP PLAN of that tzaddik who is buried in Hebron, i.e. Abraham, to fulfil what was said to him at the Covenant Between the Pieces, 'for your seed will be a stranger' (Gen. 16:13)" (Rashi ad loc.).

In other words, the "deep plan" necessitated the sale of Joseph into slavery in Egypt, which would eventually cause all his brothers and Jacob himself to go down to Egypt, in order to bring about the exile of the Children of Egypt there in preparation for their eventual Exodus. The paradigm of Exile / Redemption recurs repeatedly in Jewish history in the exiles of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome (Edom-Yishmael).

All the "rollings" and incarnations of the Children of Israel from generation to generation refine and purify their souls in preparation for the eventual state of YISHUV, "habitation", which depends on peace among the Twelve Tribes. In the coming parshiyos, we will see how the wise leader exemplified in Joseph skillfully manipulates everything to bring his "exiled" brothers to repent of their fractiousness and enmity and make peace with one another. Repentance is a recurrent theme of this and all the remaining parshiyos in Genesis. Reuven repented his "sin" (Gen 35:22; Rashi on 37:29); Judah repented, confessing: "she was more righteous than me" (Gen. 38:26); Joseph's brothers repented: "but we are guilty" (Gen. 42:21).

The essential fissures among the Children of Israel in their later history were between Benjamin vs. the other tribes (Judges Ch. 19ff), and the House of Judah (representing fidelity to the Oral Torah) vs. the House of Israel, the Ten Tribes, who rebelled under the leadership of Jeraboam son of Nevat of the tribe of Ephraim = Joseph (representing worldly success). (This is also the clash today between the "religious" and "secular".) In the coming parshiyos we will see how Judah (from the Children of Leah) becomes a "guarantor" (Gen. 44:30) for Benjamin (from the sons of Rachel), and how the state of near war between Judah and Joseph (Gen. 44:18) is transformed into a state of reconciliation between Joseph and all his brothers (Ch. 45). Judah's repentance and taking responsibility make him worthy of being the religious leader. "And he [Jacob] sent JUDAH before him to Joseph to RULE." (Gen. 46:28).

The bond forged between Judah and Benjamin exemplifies the concept that "all Israel are guarantors for one another" (Shavuos 39a). This bond is embodied in the fact that the territories of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin are contiguous, meeting in Jerusalem, YeruSHALAYIM, City of Peace, at the site of the Holy Altar in the Temple on Mount Moriah. The bond between Judah and Benjamin is also embodied in the figure of Mordechai, who although from the tribe of Benjamin is nevertheless called ISH YEHUDI, a man of Judah (Esther 2:5). The Code of Jewish Law also represents peace between Judah and Benjamin, in the sense that the stringent House of Shammai (Benjamin) receives honor and is always mentioned first, yet the legal decision in almost all cases follows the opinion of the compassionate House of Hillel (Judah).

The transformation of the war between Joseph and Judah into a state of reconciliation and peace is paradigmatic of the future reconciliation of the Jews (= Jude, Judah) and the lost Ten Tribes, and also the reconciliation between the "religious" and the "secular". All this comes about through Mashiach son of Joseph (Rachel) and Mashiach son of Judah (Leah).

However, in our parshiyos, all these hints of future history are contained in allusion only, for prior to attaining the future state of YISHUV and MOCHIN DE-GADLUS -- "settled" and "expanded consciousness" -- the world is in a state of BILBUL and MOCHIN DE-KATNUS, "confusion" and "limited consciousness". Thus our parshah deals with negative feelings and emotions: the hatred of the brothers for Joseph; their deception of Jacob with the blood of the slaughtered goat; the deception of Judah by Tamar; the attack on Joseph by Potiphar's wife, etc. etc.

The state of MOCHIN DE-KATNUS is the state of exile. Thus in our parshah, the scene changes from the Land of Israel to Egypt, MITZRAIM = METZAR, the "narrow" or "constricted" place. While Israel is the "face" (the PNIMIUS, the hidden "interiority"), Egypt represents the revealed exterior, the "backside". Thus the King of Egypt is Pharaoh, the Hebrew letters of whose name when rearranged spell out HA-OREPH, "the BACK of the neck", opposite of "the FACE". In this state of exile, there is no more prophecy, only dreams. Joseph dreams. The Butler and the Baker dream. Pharaoh dreams. G-d appears to Jacob "in the appearances of the night" (Gen. 46:2). Constricted consciousness!

* * *


"The tribes were busy with the sale of Joseph; Joseph was busy with his sack-cloth and fasting; Reuven was busy with his sack-cloth and fasting; Jacob was busy with his sack-cloth and fasting; Judah was busy getting himself a wife. And the Holy One, blessed be He, was busy creating the light of the King Mashiach. -- 'And at that time Judah WENT DOWN' (Gen. 38:1). Even before the first oppressor [Pharaoh] was born, the final redeemer was born" (Midrash Rabbah Bereishis 85:1).

Immediately after the story of the sale of Joseph to Egypt (the beginning of the exile) the Torah immediately tells us the story of Judah and Tamar, which culminates with the birth of Peretz (Gen. 38:29) who was the ancestor of King David, the Messianic King (Ruth 4:18-22).

The story of Judah and Tamar ione of sexual sin and its rectification. Of the three cardinal sins, Abraham rectified that of Idolatry (fallen CHESSED) while Isaac rectified the sin of Bloodshed (fallen GEVUROS). The mission of Jacob and his sons was to rectify the sin of GILUI AROYOS, sexual immorality (fallen TIFERET-Beauty), which is why the preceding parshiyos were preoccupied with how Jacob built his House, with his Four Wives and the Twelve Tribes arranged around his pure "bed", the Holy Sanctuary. Sexual immorality was the main theme in the story of Dinah, recounted in last week's parshah of VAYISHLACH. The theme continues in our parshah. Thus Joseph was "a lad" -- "he was engaged in puerile behavior, he arranged his hair carefully and smoothed his eyes in order to look beautiful" (Rashi on Gen. 37:2 and see Rashi on Gen. 39:6). Judah came in to "the harlot" (Gen. 38:15ff); Potiphar lusted for the beautiful Joseph and his wife attempted to seduce him...

Sexual immorality was an essential element in the original sin of Adam, which the rabbis conceptualized as KERI, an "impure emission" of seed. Adam had been commanded to "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and conquer it and rule." (Gen. 1:28). But in "eating the forbidden fruit" of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, Adam fell into material lust. His seed, intended to produce future generations that would know G-d, "fell" and became prey to the forces of unholy lust. Thus the holy sparks became trapped in exile. This had to be rectified by Adam's descendants, the Children of Israel, whose mission -- as mentioned above -- was to rectify sexual immorality [see Kavanot of ARI, Pesach]. However, Er, the firstborn of Judah, failed the test and spilled his seed in order that his wife Tamar should not conceive and loose her worldly beauty (see Rashi on Gen. 38:7), and as a result G-d killed him.

According to the law of Levirate marriage (YIBUM), Er's surviving brother Onan should have "raised up seed" in the name of his dead brother (i.e. the dead brother would be reincarnated in order to rectify his sin in a new life), but Onan was also selfish, and spilled his seed (Gen. 38:7).

Only through the resourcefulness of Tamar (who was the daughter of Shem = Malki-Tzedek, the "Priest", symbol of moral purity, see Gen. 9:23) was the sin rectified through the mystery of Judah's encounter with the "harlot", which led to the birth of Peretz and eventually of David King Mashiach.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov stated that the main task of Mashiach is to rectify the spilling of seed.

* * *


The reason why Joseph was "a successful man" (Gen. 39:2) was precisely because "HaShem was with Joseph" (ibid.) -- "the name of Heaven was regularly on his mouth" (Rashi ad loc.). Joseph had the power to see and find G-d even in Egypt, the place of MOCHIN DE-KATNUS, "constricted consciousness", the "back-side". This was the key to his "success". Joseph was the very essence of Jacob, as Rashi goes to some lengths to prove (see Rashi on Gen. 37:2).

As the key figure in the "generations of Jacob", Joseph had the same mission as his father: the building of the archetypal holy HOUSE, as discussed in connection with the preceeding parshiyos. At first, Joseph dreams of being in the FIELD, where all his brother's sheaves prostrate to him. Later Joseph strays in the FIELD (Gen. 37:15). Yet at length his dream comes true in Egypt. There his brothers prostrate before Joseph, who orders them to be brought to his HOUSE (Gen. 43:16ff.), where they eat and drink.

The Children of Israel are not disembodied souls. They are IN the material world, their task being to elevate and spiritualize it. This is done through turning the mundane material house into a HOME, a Sanctuary of G-d -- "and I will dwell within them" (Exodus 25:8).

It is the moral integrity of Joseph -- who succeeds in finding G-d even in Egypt, constriction, the "back-side" -- that is the key to this house-making. As we will see in next week's parshah of MIKETZ, Joseph knows the secret of material, economic success (as exemplified in his successful management of the Egyptian economy even in times of famine). Through the story of Joseph, the Torah teaches us that the foundation of genuine long-term material success is moral purity and integrity. Even when Joseph was faced with the supreme moral test -- alone in the house with his master's wife tempting him day after day -- he set the unchangeable Law of G-d before him: adultery is forbidden. "How could I do this great evil and sin against G-d?" (Gen. 39:9).

Joseph observed G-d's law despite the fact that this led to his incarceration in the king's prison and his disgrace in the eyes of sophisticated Egypt. Joseph is the archetype of "the tzaddik who has it bad" (Berachos 7a). Yet even in this adverse situation, "HaShem was with Joseph" (Gen. 39:21). As before (ibid. v. 2), this teaches that "the name of Heaven was regularly on his mouth". That was the very key to Joseph's "success". Joseph knew that G-d speaks to us through the happenings of this world, and that we can find divine messages and meaning everywhere and in everything. Thus Joseph (DAAS-YESOD, Knowledge-Foundation, the Center Column) could "interpret dreams", even those of the Butler (fallen CHOCHMAH-Wisdom) and the Baker (fallen BINAH-Understanding). These two, together with the Captain of Guard (fallen DAAS-Knowledge) in whose HOUSE Joseph was a slave and captive, were the Chief Officers of Pharoah, the very embodiment of the "Back-Side", where holiness is initially concealed. It was through Joseph's incorruptible moral integrity (SHEMIRAS HABRIS, Observance of the Covenant) that he was able to turn everything around and find divine meaning and messages even in darkness and dreams of the night. This is what brings Mashiach.

And so may our Chanukah Lights light up the darkness of night, heralding GEULAH SHELEMAH, complete redemption with Ben David Melech HaMashiach quickly in our times. Amen!

Shabbat Shalom!!! Happy Chanukah!!

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum

PO Box 50037 Jerusalem 91500 Israel

Only in America

Only in America

Jeffrey Goldberg has launched a Hannuka song by Orrin Hatch, and that's only the beginning of the story.

Follow all the links. It's an incredible story. The whole thing would have been impossible in any moment of Jewish history prior to the United States in the second half of the 20th century - and Jewish history has been on for a long time. It's also impossible even today, 2009, anywhere outside the United States. (Except maybe, at a stretch, Australia?)

Do America's Jews fully appreciate how unlikely their condition is? On a superficial level, I'm sure they do, and love their country for what it gives them. On a deeper level, however, do they understand how truly the rest of the world doesn't resemble their world? it isn't like that anywhere else, never has been, and probably won't be, either.
Originally posted byYaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Jews Poison Wells. Again.

Jews Poison Wells. Again.

Their reason for doing so is that they're evil. (That's the motivation).

The proof that they're evil is that they do it. (That's the context).

Though, truth be told, at least some of the commenters object.

Also, such allegations, standard antisemitism as they are, aren't directed only ever against Jews. Remember how throughout the 1990s we were assured the Western sanctions against Saddam's Iraq had produced precisely 500,000 dead Iraqi children, a number that didn't rise as the years passed? Remember how after the American invasion of 2003 nary a single bereaved Iraqi mother was ever produced for the cameras?

Then again, to a noticeable degree, anti-Americanism and antisemitism are related these days. They're aren't the same, not even twins or siblings, but they're easily cousins, the two phenomena. Why, even the column cited here has its anti-American undertones.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Apartheid Wall

Apartheid Wall

The Egyptians are building a 10-kilometer iron wall along their border with Gaza. It starts 20-30 meters (that's an eight-story building) below ground level, to prevent the Palestinians digging under it.

Israeli lackeys, these Egyptians.
Originally posted byYaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Freedom of the Press, at War

Freedom of the Press, at War

Iman Al Hams was killed in Rafah on October 5th, 2004. She was 13 at the time. For her and for her family the rest of the story will never make things better.

For a lot of other people, however, the circumstances of her death were very important: Was she repeatedly shot in cold blood, or was her death the result of a tragic mistake in a complicated war? Was it the story of a callous Israeli officer, or perhaps of a general atmosphere of contempt towards Palestinian lives?

There was no lack of people willing to tell the facts as they were convinced of them. Here, for example, you can read the Guardian's Chris McGreal investigation: he not only knew that Iman had been repeatedly shot in cold blood, but that the IDF would probably not seriously investigate the case, because they almost never do. Six months later, Iman was the poster figure for Ronnie Kasril and Victoria Brittain's call for a boycott against Israel, also in the Guardian. Wikipedia has lots of links to the story, here.

So clear cut did the story seem to be, so obviously bad, that the mainstream Israeli media joined the Guardian and its ilk in describing it. True, the agenda of such a prime-time investigative television program Uvda (Fact!), anchored by Ilana Dayan, a Doctor of Law by training and one of Israel's most respected journalists, was not that Israel is a fascist colonial monster, but rather that the potential rot of war was seeping into the IDF. Still, hers was a powerful voice of condemnation.

Then the story began to unravel. Some of the most damning testimony had come from the officer's subordinates; they eventually admitted they hadn't been accurate. The officer was eventually indicted on some minor charges, then exonerated in court. He then sued Ilana Dayan, the main purveyor of the damning narrative.

Yesterday the court gave a resounding decision in his favor, awarding him NIS300,000 in damages. Amos Harel, reporting in Haaretz, openly admits he doesn't like the court's decision:

Sohlberg's 131-page ruling will become a landmark decision in the history of journalism in Israel, due to the case's extensive publicity and Dayan's prominence. It will also be remembered because Sohlberg, considered a specialist in libel suits and strict when it comes to the media, went too far in dealing not only with the facts of the program, but also going into great detail about the editing process. (For the purposes of proper disclosure, it should be noted that I have been interviewed by Dayan on the radio and on television, and two of my reports on the affair are quoted in the ruling.)

Harel's column alludes to fundamental questions about how journalists cast their tales, and the liberties they sometimes take in editing the materials they have so as to be compelling.

Some of the other shortcomings the judge found and the weight he attached to them, will certainly result in another round in court. Had R. been so clearly damaged, in the mind of the reasonable viewer, by the scene with the jeeps? Was Dayan's leaving 10 months off the age of the 13-year-old victim, as the judge ruled, a flaw or a technical matter? Is the combination of an image of Palestinians removing the girl's body from the scene of the shooting, and a segment of field radio communication recorded on another occasion unacceptable, as the judge found?

Yesterday, watching the report again, I saw it differently than the judge. I saw that it was edited and broadcast somewhat hastily, in quite a dramatic and exaggerated tone. I also noticed mistakes, for example footage of machine-gun fire that was not taken during the actual incident. (Dayan admitted to this mistake, a week after the program aired.) Is the bottom line that the report deviated from the truth, as Sohlberg ruled? With all due respect, I am not convinced.

"Is the combination of an image of Palestinians removing the girl's body from the scene of the shooting, and a segment of field radio communication recorded on another occasion unacceptable, as the judge found?" Shouldn't the answer be a clear, flat, unequivocal, extremely obvious YES? The journalist took footage from two separate occasions which were in no way related, and strung them together to create a lie, and Harel thinks it's legitimate?

The troubling part of the tale - beyond the death of the little girl, of course - is that democracy really needs investigative journalists; it really needs a press corps that is intelligently and professionally skeptical of the authorities. A society at war really does have to have voices that don't automatically accept the narration of the powers that be; it even needs the knee-jerk contrarians, whose starting point is that the reigning narrative is all wrong. Even the contrarians, however, have to be able to recognize the supremacy of fact over ideology, of truth over agenda.

Then, there's the matter that the authorities often have better tools than anyone else to fully investigate what really happened. In this case, the stampede to convict briefly threatened to send an officer of the IDF to jail for behaving as he didn't.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Parashat Vayeshev: Yosef as Leader

Parashat Vayeshev: Yosef as Leader


[Tal Chermon p. 86-87]

Question: Why wasn't Yosef's authority accepted?
Answer: A true leader is one who contains within him all the qualities, thoughts, and aspirations of the people he leads. For example, the "leader of ten" (Shemot 18:21-23) has all the qualities of the souls of the ten people under him. That is why these people accept his rule over them. They know that he feels and understands them and will thus faithfully represent their aspirations. If this is not the case, the people under his tutelage will not accept his rule. The brothers did not accept Yosef's kingship because he did not represent or express their special makeup and task in the world. Yosef capably organized the physical world to function honestly and properly, but he was unable to perform their task of building up the spiritual content of the world. Yosef did not embody their world and thus could not lead them.
Originally posted by Torat HaRav Aviner

RubinReports: Analyzing Why and How So Many Western Intellectuals Hate Their Own Societies and People?

Analyzing Why and How So Many Western Intellectuals Hate Their Own Societies and People?

By Barry Rubin

Consider this quotation from an Israeli professor which I think wonderfully symbolizes many Western intellectuals’ attitudes toward their own countries today. It reeks with hatred for their democratic, stable, prosperous societies and their fellow citizens:

“The social stage was filled with a procession of migrant workers and their...children; single mothers; people with disabilities; poor, sick, and hungry Palestinians at and beyond the checkpoint; homeless Gush Katif evacuees; victims of terror and of road accidents; residents of the north left defenseless in a war; residents of the south [of Israel] whose homes had become the front line; unprotected workers of sub-contractors and employment agencies; the unemployed and those whose income insurance had been discontinued. All had become see-through citizens whose lives were cheap and whose fate no longer engaged the government. As if from behind a thin but impenetrable veil, Israeli society regarded them all with the same glazed, phlegmatic look.”

I'm not giving the author's name both because it isn't important for the points I want to make and the individual in question is by no means the worst example of this type [for an explanation see note at end]. But I find this statement exemplifies the perspective that dominates so much of the thinking, teaching, and cultural products in Western democratic societies today.

While attuned to Israeli specifics, this kind of statement is easily adaptable to North America or Europe, Australia or New Zealand. For example, “migrant workers” become illegal aliens. You can add in victims of the economic depression, racial groups, homosexuals, and all sorts of other categories.

What are the elements of this analysis? The first is to focus only and exclusively on every negative aspect of the country, all its real or alleged failures. This does not mean it is illegitimate to talk about problems. Of course, it is important to do so since only problems discussed and mistakes criticized can be corrected.

But dealing with such things in isolation, as is so often done, is intended to frame an indictment in which a relatively good society is made to seem like a nightmarish hell in which everyone--or everyone who counts--suffers horribly. The society is then found guilty and sentenced to death, or at least penal servitude.

Western Civilization is no longer taught as a mandatory course in most American universities, and so students don't learn of the great debates that led to democracy and the reasonably regulated free enterprise system. They know far less about what was learned in the past about tyranny. They don't study Communism and its failures. In public schools, there seems little about American heroism or December 7 and what happened at Pearl Harbor, or September 11 and what happened at the World Trade Center.

Bereft of knowledge on all the good things about their country, its history and institutions, overwhelmed with negative visions of its crime, how else might many of these young people view them?

In fact, the vast majority of people in Western democratic societies are doing better than ever. Even those said to be miserable and oppressed are often on examination, not in such an abject state. That doesn’t mean they are all happy and have all their wishes fulfilled, for government and society is incapable of such an achievement though, to listen to the contemporary debate it is unclear whether many “smart” people understand that fact.

Second, there is in this world view no consideration of alternatives. Solving problems costs money and supplies of that commodity are not unlimited. Choices must be made; priorities need to be set. Proposed remedies might be far worse than the problems they claim to fix. In addition, to pretend that society can be utopian or that contradictory problems can be simultaneously solved is to create an unsolvable paradox.

Intellectuals, artists, college professors, and activists of a certain viewpoint are often not fazed by such considerations. They seem to say: That's not my department. Or: I have a perfectly good plan which I present in my book based on the other books I've read. Or: According to the theory of [fill in the blank] this plan will work perfectly well.

In fact, often the most reasonable solutions are dismissed without consideration because they must be based on principles and premises which are dismissed by the vision put forward by such people.

For example, if you want to help the temporary refugees from northern Israel? Support a tougher policy against Hizballah. To help those in the south, back a campaign to overthrow Hamas. To improve the Palestinians lives? Press them to make peace and end the conflict rather than continually finding excuses for keeping it going.

Often, however, the complainers want the exact opposite policy, one that intensifies the problems they decry.

Third, there is a tremendous amount of anger among intellectuals and cultural types with what might be called normality. The intellectual or artist wants drama, excitement, change. That a society is stable, that it can afford not to lose self-confidence or identity from its problems and shortcomings strike the professoriate and the artistic circles as intolerable. For them, happiness, prosperity, stability makes for misery, even as they enjoy the fruits of all these things.

Like Shakespeare’s discontented Richard III, it is at the moment of their side’s triumph that they find the winter of their discontent. It can be a short distance from Richard’s bemoaning the victory of his own house of York to rationalizing the September 11 terrorist attack on New York.

So, of course, there are victims of road accidents! There are unemployed! But are road accidents totally avoidable. Is the professor ready to give up driving and take the bus? If five percent are unemployed (the situation is, of course, much worse in the United States at present) and a smaller portion of that group have run out of unemployment compensation does it prove the society that pays the unemployment compensation (not available to those unemployed in past times) is a miserable failure?

How about the 95 percent who have a job or soon will again, those who can afford childcare (and thus women can work) because of the availability of foreign nannies? If the professor and those current unemployed don’t want to pick crops then foreign workers grateful for the wage are a necessity. And those people are making a better living than they would at home.

This anger is channeled into a crusade to teach people to loathe their societies: To sneer at imperfect democracy, bind free enterprise to the point of paralysis, trash religion, and teach anti-patriotism. Yet this makes perfect sense since if these institutions and attitudes are so evil and have not solved the world's problems why shouldn't they be destroyed?

Fourth, obsession with the marginal blots out the mainstream, normal, average. The sufferings or demands of five or ten, fifteen or twenty percent become the only important factor to be considered. Once again, this does not mean these issues should be neglected but neither should they become the whole picture. It is like the way American history is too often being taught in which it becomes a web of racism, imperialism, sexism, xenophobia, greed, and smugness. The picture, to say the least, is both more complex and far different from a portrait that is part fantasy, part smear.

It should be remembered that historically in all human societies throughout history, the poor comprised roughly eighty percent of the population. In Western societies, there has been a massive improvement in the lives of everyone with relatively few exceptions. After all, it is the rise to comfort of the once-ragged proletariat that killed off the hope of a Communist revolution in the West. Intellectuals have in fact turned away from the working class as enemies since they don’t support the left today.

Then, too, people vote with their feet. The desperation of migrants to get into Western democratic states attests to the superiority of rights, opportunity, and well-being there.

In the specifically Israeli case, those from Gush Katif are settlers displaced from the Gaza Strip by the Israeli withdrawal, which no doubt people like the author of the quote bemoaning their fate passionately supported. What of the “poor, sick, and hungry Palestinians at and beyond the checkpoint?” Should Israelis care for them more than do their own leaders and societies content to use them as revolutionary cannon fodder in order to continue an unnecessary conflict for decades more?

As for the specifics, few Palestinians are hungry (especially compared to other Third World situations). They receive massive international subsidies and those who are sick may get free medical care in Israeli hospitals. When Palestinians could work in Israel, before they staged a terrorist intifada, a lot more money was flowing to them.

Those with disabilities? Laws in Israel and elsewhere have been changed to try to help them in myriad ways, huge amounts of money has been spent for this purpose. Victims of terror? You mean people killed or wounded by those same Palestinians referred to above?

Fifth and finally, this critique of Western civilization implicitly suggests that utopia is within reach if only stupid, greedy people don't block it. Moreover, there is no such thing that can be called human nature which may make the best-laid plans go awry or see--despite the story of the French, Russian, and Chinese revolutions—how change can be manipulated by the greedy and power-hungry. The success of American and other democracies has been based on successfully implementing balances and restraints to prevent institutions or individuals from grabbing too much power, realizing the limits of what can be achieved, setting priorities, and protecting individual freedoms.

The concepts presented by this sociologist, then, show the basic critique drowning out the achievements of modern Western democratic, capitalist with regulation, societies to the point that they are made to seem worthless and deserving of destruction.

It is also worth noting that the majority, too, has reasonable interest of its own. How much of its income does it want to spend on welfare or on other projects? Having had a tougher time in achieving a good or reasonable living standards, the workers and the lower middle class are often more reluctant than the upper middle class yuppies to see risky, expensive propositions undertaken. And having worked so hard for what they have, they are less prone to being motivated by guilt than those who have been handed an easy life by parents, lucrative professions, and high social status.

That's why Western politics have flipped. The upper middle class and a considerable portion of the wealthy are the backbone of the left; the workers and lower middle class of the more conservative side.

Finally, of course, there is implicit in the analysis of massive victimhood and society's indifference to them an elimination of any responsibility of people to deal with their own problems. Obviously, this varies from case to case and from category to category. Many have no such choice.

Migrant workers chose—quite intelligently—to leave poor countries to earn more money, often to send back to families. They were not kidnapped from their countries of origin. But if you think that the situation of illegal aliens is so terrible, perhaps they should be sent home, right? On one hand, they chose to break immigration laws, after all, which is perhaps the main reason they are vulnerable to mistreatment. But at the same time they don’t want to leave because they prefer the situation where they are now.

Or take the ever suffering Palestinians. They supported radical political forces that refused to make peace and are responsible for their predicament. Feel sorry for Gazans? Overthrow Hamas. Feel sorry for West Bankers? Tell them to make peace and, aside from getting a state and not having to face violent conflict, they are in line for huge amounts of compensation money.

Another neglected factor is how the bad choices made by individuals relate to their difficulties. This doesn’t mean they deserve their suffering or something like that but it does mean that they, not society, are to blame. Single mothers? Might the breakdown of the traditional family and standards of sexual morality have something to do with it? Obviously, these are complex issues. A single mother might have been married to a terrible husband and had to obtain a divorce. The point is not to say that people suffering don’t merit help and compassion, but can their suffering be blamed on governments or everyone else in the society?

Again, outside the specific arguments being made in the analysis quoted above remains the broader view which currently dominates Western thinking: Our societies are evil and rotten; all problems should be solved immediately; government should do everything; and if I support policies that made these problems worse I still blame society and those who proposed better solutions.

Today, however, radicals have transformed this into an indictment of their own country because they see there are problems, ignoring progress, the impossibility of making all pain disappear, and proposing solutions that will inevitably fail or strangle their own societies.

Contemporary conservativism is based on the idea that given human nature and inevitable clashes of interest, limiting risky change and knowing when most people have a relatively good thing going are good ideas.

Liberalism has been based on the concept of the greatest good for the greatest number, favoring well-considered changes balancing free enterprise with reasonable regulation so as not to kill the goose laying golden eggs or engage in ever-larger risks or sacrifices for the sake of ever-smaller constituencies.

Here's the bottom line:

--Every society, even the richest and happiest, has real problems, but those negatives neither characterize that society nor prove it invalid, given all the other problems it has solved.

--The contradictory nature of problems, the trade-offs in solving them, and the limits of resources must be taken into account. Is there really a better alternative than what currently exists?

--Many of the main critics of these societies propose policies or solutions that would make things far worse. For example, a program to give massive loans to people who could not afford to buy houses might set off a huge economic depression. Yes, that really could happen. In fact, it did.

--However much compassion and help relatively small groups might need or merit, the situation of the vast majority must be considered first.

--Contrary to a very popular view in certain circles today, the main task of intellectuals and cultural figures in a democratic society is not to destroy it. They may create far worse situations, as history has so often shown.

--Don't hate your own people, including the "unwashed masses" that after generations of relative poverty and hard work can now for the first time enjoy relatively stable, comfortable lives.

When you hate your own country and its society and people, you are just engaging in the age-old snobbishness of an over-privileged aristocracy which views the “common people” as inferior. You’re not the people who made the French and American revolutions; you’re the people those revolutions were made against.

RubinReports: Analyzing Why and How So Many Western Intellectuals Hate Their Own Societies and People?

Bride, Father Arrested for Crime of Moving Lips on Temple Mount - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Bride, Father Arrested for Crime of Moving Lips on Temple Mount - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

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Government Okays Jerusalem / Golan Referendum Bill - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

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Nationalist Women: Police Conducted Humiliating Searches - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

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Knesset Bill to Force Courts to Return to Zion - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

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The Myth of the Gaza Blockade - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

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Knesset Speaker: Human Rights Not Just for 'Bleeding Hearts' - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

IDF Returns to Shechem to Replace Dayton's PA Army - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

IDF Returns to Shechem to Replace Dayton's PA Army - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Simple Photography: New York, Great Neck. The Days of Thanksgiving.

Simple Photography: New York, Great Neck. The Days of Thanksgiving.

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Overnight music video

It's three days to Chanuka and it's time to start getting into the spirit.

Here's Uri Davidi singing Al HaNisim (For the miracles).

Let's go to the videotape.

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Israel Matzav: Goldstone shuts his mouth

Goldstone shuts his mouth

When the going gets tough, Richard Richard Goldstone refuses to respond.

On November 17, CAMERA's Ricki Hollander sent a very detailed and critical letter to Justice Goldstone, which asked specific questions about incidents cited in the Goldstone Report.

If you thought that Goldstone, who keeps claiming that no one has provided specific criticism of his report, would relish the opportunity to respond, you are wrong. Here's the letter Ricki got back after CAMERA contacted Goldstone to ask why he had not responded.

Dear Ms. Hollander,
I confirm receipt of your letter. I have no intention of responding to your open letter.
Richard Goldstone

Game, set and match.

But it's okay. They'll make him Secretary General anyway.

Israel Matzav: Goldstone shuts his mouth

Israel Matzav: EU Council of Foreign Ministers calls to divide Jerusalem

EU Council of Foreign Ministers calls to divide Jerusalem

On Tuesday, the European Union's Council of Foreign Ministers called for dividing Jerusalem into two capitals, a Jewish capital in 'west' Jerusalem and a 'Palestinian' capital in 'east' Jerusalem.

"If there is to be a genuine peace, a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states," EU foreign ministers agreed in a statement released on Tuesday, diplomats said.


"The EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem," said the EU ministerial draft. It referred to the Six-Day War in which Israel captured east Jerusalem from the Jordanian army.

The document also called for the establishment of a Palestinian state comprising the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem. "If there is to be [peace] a way has to be found to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the capital of two states," it said.


"I don't really understand why Israel does not accept that Palestine consists of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem," Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn told journalists. "The Israelis have a right to live in Israel, the Palestinians have a right to live in Palestine."

Finish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said the EU must affirm its stand on the status of Jerusalem and insist that Israel must not resume settlement building.

"The EU has very strong principles and we have to stick to those principles," Stubb said. "I think the negotiations, the peace process must simply start and this is a way forward."

The full statement may be found here.

Israel's foreign ministry was not pleased with the EU statement.

The statement by the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union ignores the primary obstacle to achieving a resolution between Israel and the Palestinians - the Palestinian refusal to return to the negotiating table. Given the Israel Government's efforts to renew the negotiations, Israel regrets that the EU has chosen to adopt a text that even if it contains nothing new, does not contribute to the renewal of negotiations.

In light of the extreme draft originally presented by the Swedish presidency at the start of discussions, Israel does welcome the fact that in the end the voices of the responsible and reasonable EU states prevailed, balancing and improving the text. We also welcome the recognition given to the measures and efforts taken by Israel to enable the resumption of negotiations; to the statement regarding the continued development and expansion of relations between Israel and the EU; to the recognition of the severity of the problem posed by Hamas' armaments; and to the EU's expression of commitment to the security of Israel and its full integration in the area.

It could be expected that the EU act to promote direct negotiations between the parties, while considering Israel's security needs and understanding that Israel's Jewish character must be preserved in any future agreement.

JPost adds:

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat completely rejected the EU decision, according to a statement issued Tuesday afternoon. Barkat said the decision posed "real danger" for the future of Jerusalem, saying it would "never work."

The mayor noted that the recent celebration of the 20th anniversary of the reunification of Berlin reminds everyone that no divided city in the history of the world has functioned properly.

The Post has many more reactions. Read the whole thing.

Since the Europeans have already decided what 'peace' ought to look like, why bother negotiating? That will certainly be the 'Palestinian' position.

Look at the moronic statement by Luxembourg's foreign minister quoted above. Why can't Israel accept that 'Palestine' is for the 'Palestinians'? Because there's no such thing as 'Palestine' and there never has been. And because Jerusalem has only been the capital of one state - a Jewish state - and it has been the capital for more than 3,000 years.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: EU Council of Foreign Ministers calls to divide Jerusalem
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