"Restore(s) a little sanity into current political debate" - Kenneth Minogue, TLS "Projects a more expansive and optimistic future for Americans than (the analysis of) Huntington" - James R. Kurth, National Interest "One of (the) most important books I have read in recent years" - Lexington Green
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Do you believe that the lesson we should learn from the Holocaust is one of tolerance?
Do you believe that the mainstream media reports fairly about Middle East issues?
Do you believe that Israel practices apartheid?
Do you favor the two-state solution?
Do you believe that the unrest in the Middle East would end if a Palestinian state were established?
Do you believe that Israel should compromise more for the so-called peace process?
Do you believe the settlements in Israel are an obstacle to peace?
Do you doubt that Islam desires to establish global dominance?
Do you believe that continued sanctions and negotiations will deter a nuclear Iran?
Do you believe that the international community has the right to dictate Israel’s appropriate response to terrorism in defense of its citizens?
Do you believe that you can be anti-Israel and not anti-Semitic?
Do you believe that the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe is caused by Israel?
Do you believe that Islamophobia in America is far worse than anti-Semitism?
Do you believe there would have been no Holocaust if a Jewish state had existed in Hitler’s time?
Do you believe Franklin D. Roosevelt was a hero to the Jews during the Holocaust?
Do you believe that American Jewry did all they could to stop the slaughter during the Holocaust?
Do you believe your life as a Jew would be unaffected if there were no Jewish state?
Do you believe social justice should be taught in public schools?
Do you believe that you are safer if only the government is armed?
Do you believe that another Holocaust can’t happen?
Hostility toward Israel is disturbingly common throughout the Democratic Party’s base. 25% of Democrats say the U.S. is “too supportive” of Israel, versus only 13% of Republicans giving that answer. Only 9% of Democrats say the U.S. is “not supportive enough” of that country, versus 46% of Republican who think the U.S. should be more supportive.
In addition to the lack of support and outright hostility toward Israel that appear among the Democratic base, outright anti-Semitism appears to be all too common. 20% of Democrats and Independents view Jews as “caring only about themselves,” compared with 12% of Republicans giving this answer. Another survey, conducted in the wake of the Bernard Madoff debacle, indicates that 32% of Democrats blamed “the Jews” for the financial crisis, while only 18% of Republicans did so. (” This difference is somewhat surprising given the presumed higher degree of racial tolerance among liberals and the fact that Jews are a central part of the Democratic Party’s electoral coalition,” said the study’s authors.)
Obama’s clear hostility to Israel, and the disturbing opinion patterns among the Democratic base, should be of concern not only to Jews and to those who have a particular affinity for Israel, but also to all Americans who are interested in world stability and peace, and in an American polity which is not ripped apart by ethnic conflicts.
The incident, so characteristic of this leftist ideologue president, is the stimulus for theorizing about how economies work, and perhaps why this one is so stuck with Obama in the White House.
There is an excellent analysis by David Warren printed last year in Canada and which I have saved. It is a comparison of Obama with Gorbachev and brings considerable light on the subject of success of nations.
Yet they do have one major thing in common, and that is the belief that, regardless of what the ruler does, the polity he rules must necessarily continue. This is perhaps the most essential, if seldom acknowledged, insight of the post-modern “liberal” mind: that if you take the pillars away, the roof will continue to hover in the air.
Gorbachev seemed to assume, right up to the fall of the Berlin Wall and then beyond it, that his Communist Party would recover from any temporary setbacks, and that the long-term effects of his glasnost and perestroika could only be to make it bigger and stronger.
There is a corollary of this largely unspoken assumption: that no matter what you do to one part of a machine, the rest of the machine will continue to function normally.
This brief discussion fits well with the book that was recommended by the Postrel piece.
The Bad History Behind ‘You Didn’t Build That’
By Virginia Postrel
The controversy surrounding President Barack Obama’s admonishment that “if you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen” has defied the usual election-year pattern.
Normally a political faux pas lasts little more than a news cycle. People hear the story, decide what they think, and quickly move on to the next brouhaha, following what the journalist Mickey Kaus calls the Feiler Faster Thesis. A gaffe that might have ruined a candidate 20 years ago is now forgotten within days.
Three weeks later, Obama’s comment is still a big deal.
Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day. Screenwriter Robert Avrech has posted the first part of his Emmy-award-winning film The Devil’s Arithmetic, which is based on Jane Yolen’s book of the same name, for on-line viewing.
The DVD is available from the usual sources, including Amazon and Netflix. Highly recommended.
Via Martin Kramer, who asks: “What happens to aging ’60s American Jewish radicals after the kids move out, the dog dies, and their parents (may they rest in peace), who so valued and cherished Israel, have passed on to their heavenly reward?”
If the trailer is representative, this is a slick piece of agitprop packaged as folksy interviews with thoughtful Jewish intellectuals who just happen to have doubts about Israel, no doubt because their integrity and independent-mindedness let them see clearly the evils of Israel that other Jews (and most non-Jewish Americans) are brainwashed into overlooking. In fact this is a bunch of leftist hacks repeating buzzwords (apartheid etc.) and citing events pruned of context to single out Israel for demonization. The woman in the last interview gives the game away by blaming Israel for the “stateless” condition of Palestinian refugees, even though Palestinian Arab statelessness, to the extent it still exists, is a racket maintained by Arab governments and the Palestinians themselves, and even though the post-WW2 world has had many refugee populations that dwarfed the Palestinian Arab refugee population and that, unlike the Palestinians, were mostly resettled within a few years. The difference is that people like those in this movie couldn’t use those other refugee populations as a weapon against the Jews. You would have to be profoundly ignorant to find this movie convincing, but ignorant people seem to be the target audience. Watch it for yourself.
I was fortunate to have had in high school a leftist, anti-Semitic history teacher, a man who was an enthusiast of Third World “liberation” movements run by kleptocrats and gangsters but who put Israel under a moral microscope. The Israeli Jews, as he saw it, had treated the Palestinian Arabs unjustly by (he would quote a particular historian whose book he always had at the ready) expelling them and this unjust treatment colored everything that Israel did subsequently. Two wrongs — an allusion to the Holocaust — don’t make a right. We should all be citizens of the world and should drop our parochialisms and be happy. Of course he mainly applied this argument to the Jews, and I was not clever enough to point out that the Jews’ enemies had often persecuted them for supposedly being too worldly. I argued, and learned a great deal in that class, and watching this movie trailer transports me right back to it. Shabbat shalom.
Via Martin Kramer. This is a very well done sermon by a Reform rabbi, a political liberal, against Peter Beinart’s argument that we should penalize Israel by boycott because of Israel’s continued control over the area between the Jordan River and the 1949 armistice line.
Beinart’s Times op-ed is a monument to sloppy reasoning. He ignores the key facts underlying Israel’s reluctant continuing control over Judea and Samaria: that Israel captured the territory in a defensive war to prevent its own destruction and therefore holds it legitimately absent a peace deal, that most Israelis would be happy to return control over the territory to an Arab government in exchange for a reasonable peace deal, and that none of the Arab governments that have controlled the territory has been willing to make such a deal (which is why Israeli public opinion has shifted away from its 1990s accommodationism). The settler issue per se is a red herring, since there is no obvious rationale other than anti-Jewish ethnic cleansing for preventing Jewish settlers from remaining in their homes under Arab rule (as more than one million Arabs live in Israel), and most of the “settlers” are residents of close-in suburbs of Jerusalem that would be incorporated into Israel under any reasonable final deal. (Why is the term apartheid only used to color the perceptions of ignorant people about democratic Israel but never used in connection with the proposed de-Judeization of the West Bank?)
Beinart strikes me as either a committed leftist or an opportunist who is trying to position himself to make hay from the BDS movement. Perhaps he is both. Regardless of his motives, his arguments are weak.
Open the door to “scientific” determination of matters of life and death, and America’s Orthodox Jews — a minority within a minority — will be vulnerable to a new Inquisition. On this issue, there can be no compromise. Agudath Israel is right: Jews should stand by the right of the Catholic Church to determine what is acceptable by its standards, just as we one day will ask the Catholic Church to stand by our right to determine what is acceptable by our standards. To its credit, Britain’s Catholic Church stood by us in 2009 when the English courts shamefully and wrongly ruled that our most basic religious criteria were “racist.” Shamefully and wrongfully, some Jews have failed to stand by the Church under the Obama administration’s persecution. I appeal to these Jews: Don’t be naive. We’re next.
Today’s principal form of Jew-hatred is anti- Zionism. Anti-Zionism is similar to previous dominant forms of Jew hatred such as Christian anti-Judaism, xenophobic and racist anti- Semitism, and Communist anti-Jewish cosmopolitanism in the sense that it takes dominant, popular social trends and turns them against the Jews. Anti-Zionism’s current predominance owes to the convergence of several popular social trends which include Western post-nationalism, and anti-colonialism.
Here’s a description of the War Scroll from Qumran, which “is dated to the late first century BCE or early first century CE”:
Against the backdrop of a long biblical tradition concerning a final war at the End of Days (Ezekiel 38-39; Daniel 7-12), this scroll describes a seven stage, dualistic confrontation between the “Sons of Light” (the term used by Community members to refer to themselves), under the leadership of the “Prince of Light” (also called Michael, the Archangel) – and the “Sons of Darkness” (a nickname for the enemies of the Community, Jews and non-Jews alike), aided by a nation called the Kittim (Romans?), headed by Belial. The confrontation would last 49 years, terminating in the victory of the “Sons of Light” and the restoration of the Temple service and sacrifices. The War Scroll describes battle arrays, weaponry, the ages of the participants, and military maneuvers, recalling Hellenistic and Roman military manuals.
You can see why I’m interested.
The Nag Hammadi texts are a little less well known but include — along with a variety of other texts, some of them self-described as “apocalypses” — the now celebrated Gospel of Thomas, which Bart Erhman reads as continuing a “de-apocalypticizing” of Jesus’ message which he finds beginning in Luke and continuing in John:
In the Gospel of Thomas, for example, written somewhat later than John, there is a clear attack on anyone who believes in a future Kingdom here on earth. In some sayings, for example, Jesus denies that the Kingdom involves an actual place but “is within you and outside you” (saying 3); he castigates the disciples for being concerned about the end (saying 18); and he spurns their question about when the Kingdom will come, since “the Kingdom of the Father is spread out on the earth and people do not see it” (saying 113).
Again, you can see why I am delighted that these texts are becoming available to a wider scholarly audience…
In both the Nag Hammadi codices and Qumran scrolls, we have texts that were lost for almost two thousand years and discovered, somewhat haphazardly, in 1945 and 1947 respectively, providing us with rich insights into the religious ferment around a time and place that have been pivotal for western civilization.
Now, more than half a century later, the web — as it becomes our global museum and our in-house library — brings us closer to both…
Warning: spoilers, I guess, though with a film like this it’s hard to give anything away so as to really detract from the experience. Maybe a few autobiographical spoilers of my own.
Having only seen it once so far, I am aware of having gotten at most glimpses of its full intent. I cannot easily describe Terrence Malick’s oeuvre except in superficial ways: mostly out-of-doors, with nature as a significant element; spectacular cinematography; more or less nonlinear storyline; voice-over narrations. I have not seen Badlands but have seen everything from Days of Heaven on. Read the rest of this entry »
AFTER THE war, world Jewry adopted “Never Again,” as our rallying cry. But “Never Again,” is just a slogan. It fell to the leaders of the Jewish people to conceive the means to prevent a recurrence of the Holocaust.
These leaders came up with two very different strategies for protecting Jews from genocide, and their followers formed separate camps. Whereas in the early years, the separate positions appeared to complement each other, since the 1970s the gulf between them has grown ever wider. Indeed, many of the divisions in world Jewry today originate in this post-Holocaust policy divide.
The first strategy was based on international law and human rights. Its champions argued that the reason the Allies didn’t save the Jews was because the laws enjoining the Allies to rescue us on the one hand, and prohibiting the Nazis from killing us on the other were insufficiently strong. If they could promulgate a new global regime of international humanitarian law, they believed they could force governments to rise above their hatreds and the shackles of their narrow-minded national interests to save innocents from slaughter. Not only would their vision protect the Jews, it would protect everyone.
The Jews who subscribed to the human-rights strategy for preventing another Holocaust were the architects of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the Genocide Convention. They were the founders of the international human rights regime that now dominates so much of Western discourse on war and peace.
Unfortunately, the institutions these idealistic Jews designed have been corrupted by political forces they had hoped to defeat.
Consequently, the international human-rights regime they created has failed completely to accomplish what they hoped it would accomplish. Instead, the regime they created to protect the Jews is now a key weapon in the political war being waged against them.
[. . .]
A secondary casualty of the failure of the human rights paradigm has been intra- Jewish relations. Faced with their preferred paradigm’s failure and corruption at the hands of anti-Semites, many Jewish human-rights activists have opted to abandon their fellow Jews and Israel in order to maintain their allegiance to the corrupt, anti-Semitic human-rights model.
PARTICULARLY ANNOYING to these human-rights followers is the stunning success of the other post-Holocaust Jewish strategy for giving meaning to the slogan “Never Again.”
Tomorrow, May 2, is Holocaust Remembrance and Heroism Day, Yom Hashoah Ve Hagevurah. The date for this observance was chosen in part because of its calendrical proximity to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising; more here.
In this video, Jay Black (born David Blatt–singer for the 1960s group Jay and the Americans) sings “Where is the little street?” (“Vi iz dus geseleh?”) accompanied by images from Marc Chagall paintings.
I had occasion today to give myself a quick refresher course on honor killings, one form of which is already present in the Torah as of Leviticus 21.9:
And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.
and found myself once again noting that there is a substantial swathe of regions of the world where honor killings are found, and that where it is found (including in immigrant communities from those parts of the world) the practice is not confined to any one religious group.
Hence this DoubleQuote:
I think it is appropriate to consider honor killing a form of religious violence when the claim is made by those who do the killing that they are acting in the name of their religion — but that it is also important to distinguish such acts committed in a cultural context in which they are practiced across religions from acts that are the exclusive province of one religious tradition.
There are examples of honor killings which are performed in the name of Islam, and/or advocated by Islamic scholars — and the same could no doubt be said of other religious traditions — but honor killing as a genre is fundamentally more cultural than religious.
From my point of view as an analyst, it is important to note and compare both religious and cultural drivers — neither avoiding mention of the one out of “correctness” — nor overlooking the other for lack of comparative data.
Martyr and messiah are two of the more intense “roles” in the religious vocabulary, and unlike mystics and saints, both martyrs and messiahs tend to have an impact, not just within their own religious circles but in the wider context of the times.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, both terms crop up occasionally in WikiLeaks, with the Government of Iraq, for instance, banning use of the word “martyr” for soldiers who died in the war with Iran, and US diplomats wiring home a report by an opposition psychiatrist to the effect that “Morally, Chavez [of Venezuela] combines a sense of tragedy and romanticism (a desire for an idyllic world) to project a messianic image.” Indeed, the whole paragraph is choc-a-bloc with that kind of imagery, and worth quoting in full:
Ideologically, Chavez wants to project an image of a “utopian socialist,” which de Vries described as someone who is revolutionary, collectivist, and dogmatic. In reality, de Vries argues, Chavez is an absolute pragmatist when it comes to maintaining power, which makes him a conservative. Coupled with Chavez’ self-love (narcissism), sense of destiny, and obsession with Venezuelan symbolism, this pragmatism makes Chavez look more like fascist, however, rather than a socialist. Morally, Chavez combines a sense of tragedy and romanticism (a desire for an idyllic world) to project a messianic image. De Vries, however, said Chavez is a realist who uses morals and ethics to fit the situation.
PM Netanyahu of Israel was using the term “messianic” with a little more precision when he described the Iranian regime as “crazy, retrograde, and fanatical, with a Messianic desire to speed up a violent ‘end of days.’”
2. Julian Assange in the role of martyr
The words martyr and messiah, then, carry a symbolic freight that is at the very least comparable to that of flags and scriptures – so it is interesting that both terms crop up in the recent BBC interview with Julian Assange.
My reading of the interview suggests that it is Assange himself who introduces the meme of martyrdom, though not the word itself, when he answers a question about the impact of the sexual accusations against him, “What impact do you think that will have on your organisation and what sort of figure do you think you, Julian Assange, cut in the face of all this. How will you be regarded? What will it do to you?” with the response, “I think it will be quite helpful for our organisation.”
In the follow up, interviewer John Humphrys twice uses the word “martyr” explicitly:
Q: Really? You see yourself as a martyr then?
JA: I think it will focus an incredible attention on the details of this case and then when the details of this case come out and people look to see what the actions are compared to the reality of the facts, other than that, it will expose a tremendous abuse of power. And that will, in fact, be helpful to this organisation. And, in fact, the extra focus that has occurred over the last two weeks has been very helpful to this organisation.
Q: Just to answer that question then. You think this will be good for you and good for Wikileaks?
JA: I’ve had to suffer and we’ve had incredible disruptions.
Q: You do see yourself as a martyr here.
JA: Well, you know, in a very beneficial position, if you can be martyred without dying. And we’ve had a little bit of that over the past ten days. And if this case goes on, we will have more.
3. Julian Assange in the role of messiah
If the role of martyr implies, at minimum, that one suffers for a cause, that of messiah implies that one leads it in a profound transformation of the world. Both terms are now found in association with the word “complex” – which applies whenever a individual views himself or herself as a martyr or messiah – but a “messianic complex” is presumably more worrisome than a “martyr complex” if only for the reason that there are many more martyrs than messiahs, many more willing to suffer for a cause than to lead it.
It is accordingly worth noting that it is the interviewer, John Humphrys, who introduces both the word “messianic” and the concept of a “messianic figure” into the interview, although Assange makes no effort to wave it away…
Q: Just a final thought. Do you see yourself… as some sort of messianic figure?
JA: Everyone would like to be a messianic figure without dying. We bringing some important change about what is perceived to be rights of people who expose abuses by powerful corporations and then to resist censorship attacks after the event. We are also changing the perception of the west.
Q: I’m talking about you personally.
JA: I’m always so focussed on my work, I don’t have time to think about how I perceive myself… I had time to perceive myself a bit more in solitary confinement. I was perfectly happy with myself. I wondered what that process would do. Would I think “my goodness, how have I got into this mess, is it all just too hard?”
The world is a very ungrateful place, why should I continue to suffer simply to try and do some good in the world. If the world is so viciously against it ,why don’t I just go off and do some mathematics or write some books? But no, actually, I felt quite at peace.
Q: You want to change the world?
JA: Absolutely. The world has a lot of problems and they need to be reformed. And we only live once. Every person who has some ability to do something about it, if they are a person of good character, has the duty to try and fix the problems in the environment which they’re in.
That is a value, that, yes, comes partly from my temperament. There is also a value that comes from my father, which is that capable, generous men don’t create victims, they try and save people from becoming victims. That is what they are tasked to do. If they do not do that they are not worthy of respect or they are not capable.
4. Julian Assange, martyr and messiah?
I think it is clear that both Assange and his interviewer are in effect reframing the religious terms “martyr” and “messiah” in non-religious, basically psychological senses — although I don’t suppose Assange is exactly claiming to have the two “complexes” I mentioned above.
Here’s what’s curious about this reframing, from a religious studies point of view:
Assange’s implicit acceptance of a “messianic” role undercuts the specific force of the role of “martyr” – one who gives his life for the cause. “Everyone” he says, “would like to be a messianic figure without dying.” Assange wouldn’t exactly object to being a martyr without dying, too.
A quick search for “Mahdi” and “Mehdi” and “Twelfth Imam” in the 294 messages so far published in diplomatic Wikileaks reveals some references to individuals with those names, and a couple to Moqtada al-Sadr’s Jaysh al-Mahdi (spelled “Jaysh al-Madhi” in one cable by someone who is perhaps confused by the similarity of the name to that of Mahatma Gandhi), along with three cables in which Mahdism is touched upon.
09ASHGABAT1182 of September 16, 2009 reports a comment by an undisclosed source who is “adamant” that the US should not enter into direct talks with Iran’s leadership:
Not only, he insisted, is the Iranian leadership “untrustworthy,” and dominated by a group of “messianics,” who base crucial decisions about domestic and foreign policy on a belief in the imminent return of the “Missing” (Twelfth) Imam.
From my point of view, any foreign policy based on or strongly influenced by belief in the imminent return of a prophesied figure of good or evil, whether that figure be Moshiach or Christ or Mahdi, Antichrist or Dajjal, should be cause for concern: from a religious perspective, because messianic expectations are precisely what Matthew is talking about when he writes that “false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matt 24.24) – and from a secular perspective because such identifications have been made again and again across history, often with disastrous results (think Waco, think the 1979 siege of Mecca, think the Taiping Rebellion).
That’s why I’m interested in monitoring the various strands of apocalyptic thinking out and about in the world today.
A little over a month earlier, on August 3, 2009, 09RPODUBAI316 under the sub-head “A Benevolent Dictator’s Fall from Grace” discussed the idea that the “Arab street” (both Sunni and Shi’a are mentioned) initially saw some Mahdist qualities in Ahmadinejad:
A Syrian journalist and blogger, who owns a media consultancy firm in Dubai, believes that many in the Arab street initially viewed Ahmadinejad when he came to power in 2005 as a “benevolent dictator.” Citing the tradition of the Mahdi, the media consultant argued that both Shi’a and Sunni Arabs are taught from early childhood to await the arrival of a strong and unimpeachable figure who will lead the Muslim world. The media consultant maintained that even secular Arabs view the world, albeit unintentionally, with this ingrained mindset. Our contact argued that Ahmadinejad played in to this narrative, and when Ahmadinejad arrived on the international stage many Arabs saw him, in contrast to their own flawed leaders, as a humble and pious man who was brave enough to stand up for his people and the greater Muslim world by confronting Israel and the West head on. However, both the intensely competitive campaign period and the forceful reaction by the Iranian people to the official election results have led some moderate Arabs to rethink Ahmadinejad’s true disposition. The election, the media consultant said, led some Arabs to understand that despite his astutely crafted and well-marketed image in the Arab world, Ahmadinejad is resented by many Iranians for domestic mismanagement, incompetence, and corruption. Because of this public fall from grace, so the media consultant told us, Ahmadinejad is no longer the “untouchable, holy figure” in the Arab world he once was — his flaws have brought him down to the level of the Arab world’s own imperfect leaders.
I’m reminded of the way that Steve Davis of Charleston, SC, among others, projected messianic qualities onto then-candidate Obama, when he wrote:
Barack’s appeal is actually messianic, it’s something about his aura, his spirit, his soul, that exudes enlightenment in the making.
I interpret Obama’s Lebanon, NH remarks as making light of that sort of projection (McCain’s video makes light of it, too), whereas Ahmadinejad appears to take his own status within the aura of the Mahdi all too seriously.
The last reference allows me to end on a happier note.
The French diplo Jean-Christophe Paucelle is quoted in 09PARIS1046 of July 31, 2009 on the topic of Ahmadinejad’s inauguration.
First he mentions that since non-Muslims had not been invited to previous inaugurations, European members of the diplomatic corps might not know which door to take if they wished to walk out on the ceremony, should such an action be called for… and then he discusses an additional reason why the French would attend the ceremony, despite the contested nature of the election:
Paucelle said that the case of detained French citizen Clothilde Reiss has also influenced the EU decision to attend the inauguration ceremonies. “We think she may be released soon, and we don’t want to create another irritant,” Paucelle said. “There are enough already.” He reported that the French have reason to believe Reiss may form part of a group of detainees likely to be released on the August 7 anniversary of Imam Mahdi. Paucelle noted that a letter released July 29 by Ahmadinejad supported the idea of granting clemency to post-election protesters during Mahdi celebrations. “The Iranians will need to take face-saving measures, and so she will likely transfer to house arrest or some other status,” Paucelle said. He added that, of course, she may not be released at all next week, but the French remain optimistic that she will soon be out of prison.
Clotilde Reiss was indeed not released on that occasion — but she was in fact freed somewhat later, on Sunday, May 16th, 2010.
Here’s a meme worth noting when it crops up in the advocacy of religious violence:
You don’t need permission from a religious authority…
This particular idea came up in the video of Anwar al-Awlaki that was released yesterday, Nov. 8th.
Flashpoint Partners translated the comment in question, “do not consult anyone in killing the Americans. Fighting Satan does not require a jurisprudence. It does not require consulting. It does not need a prayer for the cause. They are the party of Satan … It is the battle between truth and falsehood.”
My interest was piqued because of the correspondence between this comment from al-Awlaki, and the case of Phineas in the biblical Book of Numbers, chapter 25.
Phineas is “the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest” – but when he recognizes that the Lord would be infuriated by the interracial and interreligious copulation of Zimri, “a prince of a chief house” in Israel, with Cozbi, the daughter of the “head over a people, and of a chief house in Midian”, he does not go to the priest his grandfather seeking permission to kill them – he knows it is his Lord’s wish that they should die, and so he takes the responsibility for his action entirely upon himself, and kills them.
As I shall recount in greater detail in two future posts on the topic of Phineas, it is the fact that Phineas acts without first requesting permission that pleases his Lord so much that He grants to Phineas and his seed “the covenant of an everlasting priesthood”.
It is precisely this acting without requesting permission that is emphasized in modern Christian Identity writings on the topic of “Phineas Priests”:
So a Phinehas priest is a MAN who acts on personal initiative to execute Yah’s judgment on violations of Yah’s laws which are adversely affecting His people.
And according to Ehud Sprinzak, the eminent scholar of modern Jewish terrorism, it was reading the “Balak portion” of the book of Numbers, in which the story of Phineas is recounted, that convinced Yigal Amir that he could legitimately assassinate Yitzhak Rabin without first obtaining rabbinic approval (which would have put the rabbi who granted him permission at risk).
So. We have one more piece of the puzzle by which a mind with its own interpretation of God’s will can come to the conclusion that some specific act or acts of violence – accurately termed “terrorism” by others – are not only divinely sanctioned, and indeed mandatory, but can be undertaken without the requirement of prior verification from an appropriate religious authority.
And in this case — the religious authority, such as it is, of Sheikh al-Awlaki proposes this.
Israpundit has done a useful analysis of the votes of individual Congressmen on issues affecting Israel–it seems to have been distributed only via e-mail, and not available on their site. The format of the data is pretty unwieldy, so instead of posting the whole thing I’ve done a bit of analysis. If this issue matters to you, then you might want to check and see if your current Congressman is on the list below. In any event, I think the data is pretty revealing.
Recommended by Ishmael Jones, author of The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Culture, reviewed here on chicagoboyz.
In late 1982, 21 year-old Michael Ross arrived in Israel to escape cold weather. After a three year hitch in the Canadian Army, tackled right out of high school, he was on vacation. Backpackers visiting Europe on a budget often traded their wintertime labour at Israeli kibbutzim for free room and board. Michael was soon headed for one in the Beit Shean valley.
Hailing from Victoria, British Columbia and a mildly Anglican religious background, even being in Israel was a stretch. Far more likely that he’d be kayaking, or mountain-biking, or growing dope up in the Rockies. Short of the North Island of New Zealand, or perhaps Marin County, California, there’s hardly a more heavenly place in the English-speaking world than the Gulf Islands between the city of Vancouver and Vancouver Island. It’s “Lotus-land” to eastern Canadians. A young man just out of an army should have found all the pleasure and excitement he could want in the Pacific Coast lifestyle.
Michael’s background certainly didn’t suggest a future in one of the most respected, yet constantly imperiled, clandestine services in the world — the Mossad. Nor could it predict that he would take a side in one of the nastiest confrontations between the modern industrialized world and its neighbours. Yet for almost two decades “Michael Ross” was to serve in a variety of military and intelligence roles for his adopted home under conditions of unimaginable danger. How he came to do so is both fascinating and rather unsettling.