Category Archives: Fatherland

Deconstructing Zionism, Pt. II

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(Part I here)

I am fond of a quote from Orwell, where he observed that “Even a single taboo can have an all-round crippling effect upon the mind, because there is always the danger that any thought which is freely followed up may lead to the forbidden thought.” Assuming that a “crippling effect upon the mind” is something undesirable, this is the best rationale for intellectual freedom that I’ve ever heard.

Of course, taboos will always be with us, and any ideology will tend to narrow the parameters of cognition, behavior, and decency. But Zionism is one of those perennially beleaguered creeds that one can hardly scrutinize without earning its anathema. All cultures work through cognitive frames, but at their best they do not invite this extent of paranoia.

Then again, paranoia is a feature of all sorts of ideologies, some of which pose far greater threats to human freedom than Zionism does. And polemics could just as easily be launched against anti-Zionism, a peculiar ideological commitment centered on the proposition that a nation state with a high human development index and a decent human rights record (within its internationally recognized borders, at least) should be dismantled and abolished. So why single Zionism out for criticism? Well… where no double standards are being imposed, the retort that some sacred cow is being “singled out” by criticism is special pleading. But it is true that I have polemicized about Zionism at least as much as I’ve defended it. Why?

First of all, because Zionism was a big part of my formative years. I lived in Israel for four years in my early twenties and did a stint in the Israeli army. So if I wanted to make a case study of intellectual horse-blinders, Zionism is close at hand. My focusing on the subject no more “singles out” Israel than Ma’ariv or Adi Ashkenazi does. But there is a second reason: because Zionism’s intellectual horse-blinders are perhaps more insidious than others, in that it claims with considerable justification to be liberal.

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There’s no question that Zionism operates on a lot of liberal software, but its mainframe is not only not liberal; it implicitly rejects universal reason. It inculcates an extremely active sympathetic nervous system by strongly suggesting to adherents that Jews (not just e.g., the Mossad, but Jews as a people) have peculiar imperatives that transcend morality—and that if someone accuses you of wrongdoing, chances are you’re being hounded by Amalek. Certainly, the persistence of violent, irrational anti-semitism muddies the waters in favor of this mentality, but if evil is embodied in whoever casts doubt on your arbitrary imperatives, then your concept of the good is totally subjective. There are other ideologies like this—various kinds of fascism, nihilism, postmodernism—but for any of them to earnestly make the astounding claim that they are fundamentally liberal cannot go unchallenged without tacit concurrence.

In my previous post on this topic, I considered and rejected the idea that Israel is an anachronism (racist, colonialist, theocratic, etc.) in a liberalizing world, in favor of the inimical proposition that Israel is in fact a spearhead of global liberalism. This doesn’t mean that Israel is not racist, colonialist, etc., or that it is a force for human freedom. Rather, it means that Israel has become a powerful force for late-stage liberal democracy’s worst excesses, e.g., indefinite rule by emergency powers; repression of ideas in the name of fighting “hate”; innovation in the field of biometrics and mass surveillance; and the cloaking of ruthless self-interest in the language of universalism.

According to Glenn Greenwald in No Place to Hide, intelligence sharing between Israel and the U.S. tends to one-sidedly benefit Israel:

Despite the close relationship between American and Israeli intelligence agencies, the extensive information provided to Israel by the United States produced little in return…. As the NSA complained, the partnership was geared ‘almost totally’ to Israel’s needs.

The same might be said of America’s famous friendship with Israel more generally. It is completely one-sided. I’ve written before that contrary to conventional wisdom, the financial advantage in the relationship is America’s, while Israel takes on the bulk of the military risk. I stand by this admittedly counter-intuitive argument. But in terms of which party is signing off on the other’s values and enabling the other’s behavior, the relationship entirely favors Israel. (In fact, without U.S. protection, Israel would behave very differently.) In a bizarre, recurring spectacle, ranking American politicians effusively pledge fidelity (if not fealty, exactly) to the fatherland of their billionaire donors (who also control the media which determines their electoral prospects.) Where is the analogue for this in Israeli public life? Americans are regularly treated to rapt oratory about the importance of this relationship for America’s values, but those have got to be the most unrequited values in the world—Israel couldn’t care less about them:

Nietzsche said a good fight justifies any cause, and Israel’s national pugnacity is justifiably admired. Even so, justification and relative worthiness to prevail are two different things. America, for example, stands for fundamental decency, whereas Israel stands for the most parochial interests of Jews—which is fair enough, but liable to conflict with fundamental decency in a million different ways. Netanyahu’s tweet (above) is just one illustration. When America falls short of decency, it is betraying itself. The same cannot be said of Israel.

It’s certainly true that Israel offers robust democratic protections to its citizens, that Israeli citizenship confers great advantages on those Palestine Arabs who enjoy it, and that Israel has been compelled to take certain repressive measures against those in the occupied territories, who don’t. But a great deal of Israel’s treatment of Arabs (on both sides of the line) is purely aggressive, and when Israel violates their rights it tends to do so not e.g., as a temporary symptom of an election result, but as a matter of its most intrinsic policies and values. Of course, many accusations against Israel are pure fiction, but a great many are not. I won’t go down the list of Israel’s alleged and not-so-alleged (fast-forward to 1:59) crimes against Arabs. What I’m interested in here is why we do it, because that might explain why Israel can be so entitled and disdainful in its attitude toward Americans.

First things first: Zionism is the proposition that the Jews should enjoy national sovereignty in their historic fatherland. While I’m not convinced that this is a universal moral imperative, I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all—where I depart from Zionism is in its reasons why. Basically, there are two: (1) because it is necessary to ensure the physical safety of Jews; and (2) because it is necessary to ensure the continuation of Jewish culture. 

The first of these reasons is debatable. Jews have physically survived in the diaspora for over 2,000 years; poorly in some places, but quite well in others. It’s true that pogroms still take place, but no fewer (and probably more) take place inside Israel than they do abroad. So it seems to me that the real reason for Zionism (at least in terms of physicality, security, etc.) is not simply to defend Jews from clear and present danger, but to vindicate Jews as self-reliant fighters in spite of traditionally being disarmed and enfeebled. It’s overcompensation arising out of an inferiority complex; nothing could be more obvious. There was a time when this resonated with me (if not exactly in those terms.) But eventually I had to ask myself whether an inferiority complex is something worth hanging onto, and whether vindicating myself as a man has any necessary connection with Jewishness. And it does—just not much.

Clearly, the second reason (to ensure the continuation of Jewish culture) weighs more in favor of Zionism, because of assimilation in the diaspora. As an American mischling, I’m not the best-qualified person to defend this line of reasoning. The most I can say is that I support a Jewish state as an option for people whose Jewishness is more important to them than mine is for me. But can Zionism afford to agree with me there? As the self-proclaimed state of all the Jewish people, Israel must insist that Jews and even half-breeds belong in Israel; ergo they live outside of Israel because of some defect or inadvertence. But if I belong in Israel, that would have to mean that my most intrinsic wellbeing is dependent on Jewishness. I see no problem with that as a religious belief; but as civics, or teleology? It’s hard to see how all but the most obstreperous, shrunken-headed fanatics could entirely believe it—about themselves or anyone else.

On the other hand, it is very easy to see how my most intrinsic wellbeing depends on fundamental decency, ordered liberty, and intellectual freedom. Granted, we don’t entirely have those things in America. But they aren’t subordinate values here. There is no America without them.

Deconstructing Zionism, Pt. I

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if you will it, it is no dream

The Jews are probably the most hated group of people on the planet, and to paraphrase Henry Kissinger, any people that is so widely hated must be doing something wrong. Now, I don’t think that Kissinger’s view is necessarily correct. Jesus was hated in his time, and so was Socrates. But whether we’re right or wrong to be hated, there is much to be said for how one deals with being hated; and a great deal of the rightness or wrongness of being hated can be measured there.

So how do the Jews deal with being hated? We demand acceptance. We castigate others as immoral for not liking us, and feel deeply entitled as victims to validation and moral support. There can be no greater accomplishment for Israel than to simply be acknowledged as existing, by Chad or Honduras or some Egyptian TV presenter. This is absolutely pathetic. North Korea has more self-respect.

When the Arabs bury their war dead, they own their choices by declaring that the fallen died on account of Islam. When Israelis bury their war dead, they say the exact same thing. Muslims take the initiative; Jews just keep having things happen to them. The Arabs have martyrs; the Jews have victims—and victims are always on the defensive. When the French lost Alsace and Lorraine, they resolved to “remember it always and speak of it never.” In contrast, it is doubtful that Israel can ever shut up about all its massacres and humiliations, which it fetishizes and nurses its children on. It’s disgusting.

Of course there are many trends and factions in Zionism, and many different personality types in Israel. But as with my prior essay series on Judaism, the question is, what is the general tendency? Well… Who is Zionism’s most representative personality? It’s not Joseph Trumpeldor or Imi Lichtenfeld. It’s Jared Kushner, or Rahm Emmanuel. They may not be the most powerful Jews in America, but they’re the best exemplars of how Jewish power in America functions, and Jewish power in America is more fundamental to Zionism than anything that goes on in Israel.

Not long ago, fashionable liberals believed Israel to be a jackbooted anachronism in a liberalizing world. I was a proponent of the corollary view that Israel is based and redpilled for a long time. But I was wrong. In fact, the opposite is true: it would be more accurate to say that Israel is to the liberal world order what Prussia once was to the Holy Alliance.

The goal of late-stage liberalism is to advance “progress” across a theoretically limitless field of human backwardness. The goal of Zionism is to secure the existence of the Jewish people against a theoretically limitless field of outside hostility. Like the enemies of Hamlet or Big Brother, these ideologies’ adversaries are everywhere and nowhere at once. Efforts to ferret them out and crush them must constantly be redoubled. The conclusion each one must eventually reach is that might makes right. And like late-stage liberalism, which functions in machiavellian fashion as its adherents go around preaching human rights, Zionism asserts in the same breath both that Israel has a non-contingent moral “right to exist,” and that its contingent, amoral strength is its ultimate justification.

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make up your mind dude

Like a man, there comes a time in the life of any regime or ideology when potentialities are null, and what you see is what you get. What we see with Zionism is a regime that cannot sustain itself without plundering and subjecting a foreign civilian population to permanent martial law. We see a state complicit in the destruction of entire nations (Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen) as a matter of its most intrinsic long-term strategy. We see a culture obsessed with victimhood, “remembrance,” and death. We see a people that believes it has special dispensation from morality, with a clandestine orientation to the outside world that is by turns vindictive and pathetic. We see an ideology that increasingly cannot tolerate criticism, because its conscience is not clean. screen-shot-2020-11-29-at-11.02.39-am

Zionism once promised a “new Jewish man,” but after seventy-two years of Zionism the Jew, and the Jewish Israeli, is every bit the specially protected creature his forbear was in medieval Europe, subject to occasional massacres as a matter of course. Where once the relationship of hofjude to crown was the thread by which the community’s safety swung, today the country is dependent on billionaire surrogates pulling strings in foreign capitals. Zionism has accomplished a great deal, but changed nothing fundamental about the Jewish character and its relationship to the world. Why not?

Part II

Also published at Affirmative Right

Deconstructing Judaism, Pt. IV

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Assyrians, Donny

One October almost a decade ago, I was enrolled for the fall semester in my California hometown community college when an Israeli army pal flew in to visit. He spoke almost no English, and it was a great opportunity to translate and see my native country through alien eyes. The morning he arrived, I showed him around San Francisco. It was during the Jewish high holidays, and I had taken the week off school. Our plan was to drive to Lake Tahoe the next morning.

Toward mid-afternoon we came to the Palace of the Legion of Honor (when I show you San Francisco, I do it right.) The museum is on a hill sloping sharply down from the plateau of a cliffside that looks north across the Golden Gate toward Marin. The bottom floor is partially subterranean, but white-walled, high-ceilinged and well lit. As you exit east-to-west along the south side, there’s a long hallway leading past the gift shop and the cafeteria. My friend and I slowed to peruse the contents of the glass cases along the south wall, when a number of ancient Assyrian artifacts caught our eyes.

“Assyrians!” my friend exclaimed.

“Those bastards!” I chimed in.

Well, about a week later I was in World Civ class (Honors World Civ, if you must know.) The instructor, a charismatic, Jesuit-educated old historian with a wry sense of humor, who knew about my Israeli army sojourn, was lecturing about the bronze age Levant. When he came to the Assyrian sacking of Jerusalem in 701 BC, he paused, lowered his glasses down his nose a bit, and cast me a wry glance. “I don’t want to inflame any tensions here,” he quipped. “I know Sam’s still mad at the Assyrians.” What could I say? He’d busted me.

My old father is a small-town doctor, raised as one of a few dozen Jews at a time when the town was overwhelmingly WASP. He’s totally irreligious and apolitical. Yet, not long ago, he told me about a Lutheran minister who’d been in to see him as a patient. “I asked the guy why Martin Luther didn’t like the Jews,” he told me. Awkward. What kind of madhouse would the world be if everyone had memories this long?

As it turns out, we have some idea. Yoav Shamir’s 2009 documentary, Defamation, examines official Jewry’s exploitation of anti-semitism for political gain. Andy Nowicki reviewed the film for the original Alternative Right:

[T]he most powerful segment of the film involves a group of Israeli teenagers who are flown to Auschwitz on a field trip. The kids are familiar adolescent characters: rowdy, rambunctious, immature, emotional, prone to gossip and mischief, at times sweetly wide-eyed in their innocence. They are both annoying and likable simultaneously, as teenagers can be. In any case, this group is in no mood to have their consciousness raised during their exciting trip together: much to the consternation of their adult chaperones, they just want to have fun. 

Over the course of the trip, however, these kids are repeatedly bludgeoned with the message: You are Jews and the world hates you; you must in turn hate and fear the world if you hope to survive! Their faces are pushed into the gruesome tales of the events that took place in the notorious camp, and at night their handlers tell them stories of how the present-day country of Poland is still rife with neo-Nazi violence. A harmless comment to some members of the group uttered by an old Polish man is interpreted as viciously anti-Semitic; Shamir tries to correct their misconception, but to no avail; they have been instructed how to perceive reality, and won’t be dissuaded.

The kids, being hedonistic at heart, do manage to put up some resistance to the relentless stream of emotionally compelling propaganda being pumped into their ears, but they can only hold out for so long. Near the end of the trip, a lovely young Jewess breaks down and tells Shamir that it has finally happened: she has learned to “hate” her enemies; the implication is clear that she has come to view the Palestinians and Arabs as cut from the same cloth as the Nazis. 

This scene has a viscerally searing quality, similar in feel to Orwell’s account of his hero Winston Smith succumbing to the horrific manipulations of the Ministry of Love and learning to embrace the pernicious ruling ideology of Oceania. The corruption of innocence portrayed here is simply breathtaking, and heartbreaking to behold.

Who can fail to detect the empathy in Nowicki’s recounting of this little incident? I know all about these stories. I was nursed on precisely this kind of pathos and spite throughout my childhood, and adolescence, and as a young adult in Israel. The problem is that, because I am half-Jewish, this fear and loathing that Judaism traffics in is directed, in part, against a part of myself.

The perspective of this series is one that will be difficult for many Jews to accept or even follow. I’ve tried to raise a mirror to Judaism—not just to the frummies, or the liberals, or the Zionists, but to Judaism and Jewishness fundamentally, and what I see reflected back is not entirely flattering. As Nowicki puts it, channelling the filmmaker, Shamir,

Hating those one takes to be one’s enemies and constantly fearing the worst from them may in fact be a self-fulfilling prophecy, bringing out the worst in everyone, oneself and one’s enemies alike. If Jews want to thrive and inspire goodwill from others, Shamir appears to be saying, they should eschew such a spurious mindset, and not dwell so much on bad things that were done to them in the past.

But what kind of Judaism would this be? It’s scarcely even conceivable.

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Deconstructing Judaism, Pt. III

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“Seen from the outside, Israel still comports itself like an adolescent: consumed by a brittle confidence in its own uniqueness; certain that no one ‘understands’ it and everyone is ‘against’ it; full of wounded self-esteem, quick to take offense and quick to give it. Like many adolescents Israel is convinced—and makes a point of aggressively and repeatedly asserting—that it can do as it wishes, that its actions carry no consequences and that it is immortal.”  —Tony Judt, Ha’aretz (2006)

I have identified here as the sine qua non of Judaism the belief that the Jewish people are congenitally more special, intelligent, persevering and misunderstood than all other peoples, with a special destiny to be vindicated before the rest of mankind. Let’s test this thesis against some possible alternatives:

(1) The essence of Judaism is faith. It is doubtful whether anyone really believes this. Orthodox Judaism mandates faith, but it defines who is a Jew biologically, and there are many more irreligious Jews than there are religious ones. One could believe all thirteen Pillars of Faith and not be Jewish, and one could be Jewish without believing them. So we can dispense with this hypothesis.

(2) The essence of Judaism is the belief that one’s culture and people, i.e., the Jews, are good, and worthy of preservation. This begs the question of what values are being preserved, because Judaism is not just a people but a culture with definite values. Some cultures value honor over life, whereas Judaism prizes life more highly than that. Thus Israelis views their combat deaths not so much as stoic assent to duty and fate in the normal course of struggling for the good; but more as the ripping of unripe fruit from the national tree by an insatiable, perennial adversary. Esav soné es Ya’akov. In every generation they rise up to kill us. C’est la vie, woe is me. If there is nothing more to Judaism than this, it confirms our thesis.

(3) The essence of Judaism is a system of law and ethics. Though there are both ethical and legal components to Judaism, it would be a stretch to say that Judaism’s ethical requirements are essential. For example, derech eretz can be termed essentially Jewish only in reference to halakhic precepts, yet adherence to halakha is not required in order to be considered a Jew, which (again) is defined biologically.

In fact, in the modern era, flagrant violation of both derech eretz and halakha, not only as a matter of personal foibles but as a matter of personal identity, is no bar to Jewishness affirmed (or at least not denied) by the broader Jewish culture. For example, comedienne Sarah Silverman, pornographer Al Goldstein, and New York LGBT synagogue Beit Simchat Torah would horrify the Hasmoneans, or the sages of Pirke Avot. Yet Goldstein identified strongly as Jewish, as does Silverman, and Beit Simchat Torah is literally a synagogue, with a frum rabbi. The demographically beleaguered State of Israel would grant citizenship to every one of its genetically dead-end members, with a three-year tax holiday, free healthcare, and $15K in cash assistance almost immediately upon arrival, regardless of need, simply because they meet its biological definition of “Jewish.” Should they wish to become parents with a gay partner—a hillul hashem if ever there was one—the Jewish State will go to great lengths to ensure that they can. So no—law and ethics are not essential to Judaism.

(4) The essence of Judaism is tikun olam. While orthodox Judaism indeed views the performance of mitzvot as inherently leading toward a “healed world” (tikun olam), this is perhaps more quantitative than qualitative. In any case, for most modern Jews, tikun olam actually functions as a half-assed secular substitute for strict religious observance. In this sense it is really just moral law derived by fiat of Jewish genius as a necessary corrective to the intellectually deficient goyim. It can also be conceptualized as simply “being a good person,” but that is equally arbitrary, and has no necessary connection to Judaism.

So we’re back where we started: the sine qua non of Judaism is the belief that the Jewish people are congenitally more special, intelligent, persevering and misunderstood than all other peoples, with a special destiny to be vindicated before the rest of mankind. It transcends virtually all religious and political differences among Jews. It is more than an ethnic identity—no other ethnicity in the world is so rooted in such narcissism. And it isn’t just a religion, either, because faith in God is at best only ancillary to it.

(…..Part IV here…..)

Achtung Juden

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What ideology unites Antifa and 4Chan, manosphere he-thots and intersectional harpies, tradcaths and neopagans, wignats and hoteps, Dugin and Zizek, peacenik granolas and international arms dealers?

“Well it’s your own damn fault if you’re so hated!” By those clowns? Really? A man with no enemies is a man with no character, and these enemies are not sending their best. Like the Jersey City shooting earlier this month, last night’s machete attack on an ultra-orthodox Hanukkah party in upstate New York appears to have been carried out by a lumpen African-American under the influence of YouTube Wakanda theology.

Now, I’m half-Jewish, and basically a modern, secular person—I have about as much in common with Hasidic Jews as I do with Denisovans. So it’s as strange to see people who are so different from me being attacked for what little we have in common, as it is startling to see how different the backgrounds of the perpetrators tend to be.

You may recall, for instance, last year’s events at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. No, not the Purim party. I’m talking about the sabbath service where a lonely old wignat truck driver with an AR mistook the place for a range and did target practice on a dozen or so nursing home inmates in wheel chairs. Update: they didn’t survive. You may also recall the following April, when a homeschooled sperg male nurse took out a Federal Reserve banker at a shul in San Diego, wounding the rabbi in the process, along with an eight-year old girl who runs the porn industry. The perp there seems not to have had any imaginary friends, though he did have the next best thing, i.e., 8Chan anons.

Then there was the 2014 Kansas City JCC shooting, also perpetrated by a wignat, who killed a kid and two adults, all of them gingerbread-baking white Methodists in RealTree camo and ugly Christmas sweaters. At least the 2012 shooter in Toulouse (that’s France, for all you Victor Hugo fans) managed to hit actual members of the tribe, killing three toddlers and wounding five others at a synagogue daycare. Oh, and how about the 2009 DC Holocaust Museum shooting? That one took out the security guard, a married black father of three, which is not as rare as a unicorn but should probably require a permit or something. Then there was the Seattle JCC kindergarten shooting in 2006, and the El Al ticket counter shooting in LAX a year or so prior. Oh, and who could forget the 1999 JCC shooting in LA? A real classic, which took the lives of four children, a secretary, and a mailman.

Why do these things keep happening? I’m sure some anthropomorphic little Eric Cartman somewhere would love to fill me in. Yes, the Jews have their fair share of perverts, plutocrats, embezzlers and corrupt politicians. But these pogroms never seem to target those Jews—or any pervs, plutocrats, embezzlers, politicians, etc. So the question is not what the Jews have done to deserve these atrocities. Because if that was the question, they wouldn’t really be atrocities, would they? “Well they’re not, teehee.” Yeah, tell me more about elite pedophile rings there, guy who supports kindergarten shootings.

The reason these things keep happening is because Jews don’t prevent it. And so the real question is, what is to be done to prevent it?

I don’t intend the question as a “silence is violence” callout. Silence can be complicity in the unconscionable, but a lot of unconscionable shit goes on every day, and no one owes it to anyone else to think or feel anything. The solution, then, depends on the Jews. Do we want to live, or don’t we? It’s that simple.

I know that’s sounds trite. I only ask because lots of Jews don’t want to. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that Hitler or Chemelnitsky is coming. Believe it or not—in spite of all these attacks—that’s not the problem. I’m also not talking about Jews who are estranged from their heritage, either. No. I’m talking about Jews who make fellow traveling with some form of anti-semitism a literal component of Judaism.

Sound far-fetched? These types are quite vocal, and they’re the tip of a huge psychological iceberg. On the left stand the anti-Zionists, who should be irrelevant—clammy, furtive little figures like Philip Weiss, Norman Finkelstein, Israel Shamir, and Gilad Atzmon, who make entire careers and identities out of shame, discomfort and denunciation of an identity they could easily just walk away from instead. Proof that mainstream liberal Judaism essentially fellow-travels with this pathology is the recent, wholesale renunciation of Zionism by Jewish Voice for Peace—whose board members include Tony Kushner, Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. (It was 1941 when Jabotinsky declared “all those who regard [peace with the Palestinians] as a condition sine qua non for Zionism may as well say ‘non’ and withdraw from Zionism.” Better 78 years late than never, I suppose.) Liberal Zionists like Jeremy Ben Ami and Peter Beinart are actually worse, because they’re pushing from within for the Zionist movement to reflect JVP’s attitudes. Of the Palestinian factions they imagine they’d like to conciliate, each one, including the internationally recognized PLO, has a completely undisavowed and remarkably recent history of deadly attacks on Israeli women, children and elderly. But then, no one in J-Street has to actually live with those consequences (unless J-Street is working with frummies from Monsey I don’t know about.)

As bad as all this is, there’s something far more patently offensive to the intellect about the left anti-Zionists’ mirror image on the right, among the burgeoning ranks of sycophantic, alt-right adjacent Jews desperately flailing to live down every absurd libel and stereotype as if it applied to them personally. (At least having no pride or self-esteem whatsoever suits leftists.) Tech entrepreneur Ron Unz, for example, runs the largest aggregator of anti-Jewish content on the web, where he publishes his own rambling, scarcely readable essays that reprise familial and childhood resentments at great length before eventually getting around to the ostensible topic, which is always how bad his own people are. Self-help charlatan Mike Cernovich similarly grovels for acceptance from Twitter Nazis. Classics professor Paul Gottfried pathetically fawns all over pseudoscientist Kevin MacDonald (and is shocked, shocked to find that liberal journalists associate him with alt-right leaders he actually associates with.) Eccentric inventor Henry Makow writes gushing blurbs for latter-day clerical fascist E. Michael Jones’s self-published screeds; and blog posts with titles like “Anti-Semitism is Legitimate Self Defense.” Would he like somebody to murder him, or what?

One looks for sanity in this febrile atmosphere of ADHD Twitter discourse, of anomie and atomization and dementia, and sees the Jewish civil society commentariat, the ADL, the Atlantic, etc., exuding precisely the fear and panic that the high school bully mentality of anti-semitism veritably lives to elicit. When has official Jewry in America ever prevented an attack on Jews here? When they aren’t pushing constitutionally dubious legislation that makes us look ugly and stupid, their solution to everything is “education”: more words, factoids, arguments, and admonishments against wrongthink; to explain ourselves for the umpteenth time to a balkanized and stupefied public justifiably leery of smug expertise.

In Russia, in 1911, Jabotinsky had a prescient sense of this:

Now they have raised a rumpus over ritual murder, and once again we have taken on the role of prisoners on trial: we press our hands to our hearts, with quivering fingers we leaf through old stacks of supporting documents that no one is interested in, and we swear right and left that we do not consume this drink, that never has a drop of it passed our lips, may the Lord smite me on the spot. . . How much longer will this go on? Tell me, my friends, are you not tired by now of this rigmarole? Isn’t it high time, in response to all of these accusations, rebukes, suspicions, smears, and denunciations—both present and future—to fold our arms over our chests and loudly, clearly, coldly, and calmly put forth the only argument which this public can understand: why don’t you all go to hell?

Who are we, to make excuses to them; who are they to interrogate us? What is the purpose of this mock trial over an entire people where the verdict is known in advance? Our habit of constantly and zealously answering to any rabble has already done us a lot of harm and will do much more. The situation that has been created as a result tragically confirms a well known saying: ‘Qui s’excuse s’accuse.’ We ourselves have acquainted our neighbors with the thought that for every embezzling Jew it is possible to drag the entire ancient people to answer. . . Every accusation causes among us such a commotion that people unwittingly think, ‘Why are they so afraid of everything? Apparently their conscience is not clear.’ Exactly because we are ready at every minute to stand at attention, there develops among others an inescapable view about us, as of some specific thievish tribe. We think that our constant readiness to undergo a search without hesitation and to turn out our pockets will eventually convince mankind of our nobility; look what gentlemen we are—we do not have anything to hide!

This is a terrible mistake. The real gentlemen are those who will not allow anyone for any reason to search their apartment, their pockets or their soul. Only a person under surveillance is ready for a search at every moment. This is the only one inevitable conclusion from our maniac reaction to every reproach—to accept responsibility as a people for every action of a Jew, and to make excuses in front of everybody including hell knows who. I consider this system to be false to its very root.

In over a century, nothing about “this system” has changed. The very existence and prominence of an “Anti-Defamation League” proves this definitively. Cringy reflections on personal and familial Jewishness are a staple among media elites. Jewish topical films and literature reflect the most skittish, vindictive psychology. Far from being an outpost of stoicism and contempt, the State of Israel is fully invested in this victimology, and after 70 years it cannot even live up to its mandate to eradicate these pogroms. Its leaders are busy fighting corruption charges, and casting about belatedly for Nazism; it sends its condolences, as peremptory as any American politician’s. If the body count approaches a dozen, you may get a shitty little Israeli cabinet minister at your memorial service, issuing thinly concealed I-told-you-sos. Mazal tov for that.

For over a thousand years, our ancestors were forbidden to own land, enter an honest trade, testify in court, ride a horse, or carry a weapon in self-defense. We were a “protected” class. A crime against us was a property crime. And after seventy-two years of Zionism the Jew, and the Jewish Israeli, is every bit the specially protected creature his forbear was in medieval Europe, subject to occasional massacres as a matter of course. There is only one system in all of world history that has genuinely offered us the means to relieve ourselves of this baggage. But we cannot fully enjoy its benefits unless we finally, affirmatively accept its offer:

Based Closet Case Goes All-In For America

Nick Fuentes won’t debate me. Not only will he not debate me, he won’t risk having any contact with me whatsoever. Apparently, he doesn’t want to risk getting rolled like he’s been doing to those TPUSA clowns.

See, I have a (not very active) Twitter account that I use solely to troll anti-semites. When I say anti-semites, I don’t mean your grandmother saying “Jew ’em down.” I mean full-retard anti-semitism, which is a monomaniacal form of Dunning-Kruger effect (esoteric Dunning-Kruger, you might call it) that’s starting to become dangerous again thanks in part to a perfusion of unlettered mountebanks on Twitter, who are easy to skewer because their view of history and anthropology is just a lot of sub-literate jews ex machina. I’ve had the pleasure of BTFOing (and being blocked by) numerous alt-right “thought” leaders, including Mike Enoch and Erik Stryker.

But having never gotten around to aiming a single barb at Nick Fuentes, when I went to view his Twitter account amid the recent flurry of media attention surrounding his “Groyper War,” I was surprised to find that he had blocked me. I have fewer than 100 Twitter followers and, as far as I can tell, there are maybe three or four dozen regular readers of this blog. So for someone like Fuentes who’s in the national media spotlight to take precautionary measures against me seemed strange. But activism, after all, is a form of PR. I have a great deal of suspicion for anyone who makes a business out of it—the more vehement they are, the more suspect. Fuentes is clearly a savvy marketer, and like all savvy marketers, his effectiveness depends on the simplicity of his message, and the credulity of his audience. In this regard, he really is no different than Charlie Kirk.

For example, here is Nick debating some (apparently Jewish) little weirdo in a MAGA hat. The subject? Israel. I couldn’t stomach a whole 90 minutes of Fuentes smirking insufferably at this poor braying sperg (and neither should you) but I did watch the first few minutes. Right out the gate, Nick states that Israel’s interests run counter to America’s, because America is interested in defeating ISIS, and Israel is not. Of course, if Nick is referring to the interests of the U.S. government, this is laughable obscurantism, and if he’s referring to the interests of the common American folk, one would think his paleocon isolationism would’ve kicked in to stop him advocating foreign wars, period.

But what’s more revealing is when he goes on to opine that Israel is a pariah state, because its foreign policy is to divide its enemies against one another, and that this has caused a great deal of mideast instability, particularly the Syrian civil war. But does any country that has enemies not have a policy of dividing them? Every country in the mideast has a policy of dividing Syria. Syria has a policy of dividing Syria. That’s how the Assads stay in power when so many of “their people” hate them. The whole Assad-protects-the-Christians meme completely ignores the fact that a fuckton of Syrians legitimately want to kill Assad, not because they hate Christians or because the Israelis goaded them, but because of the very un-Christian things his family has done to them over the decades.

What this leads me to is what has always been creepy and worm-infested about the left anti-war movement of the G.W. aughts, as well as paleocon isolationism and its offshoots in the alt-right. Here’s a heinous (if warmed-over) example of the former:

“Time for a full response from Beijing”? Are you sure it isn’t time to light more communists on fire? Because I have no doubt that Galloway, apologist that he is for every form of Muslim violence (when it’s directed against Israel or the west), knows all about China’s “full response” to its Muslim population. Yet the alt-right, which is so opposed to comparatively mild internet censorship here in the west, largely thinks like Galloway when it comes to China’s censorship regime:

How’s that for “cultural Marxism”?

Imagine how little regard this charlatan has for his followers. What Enoch is doing in this tweet is essentially peddling the idea that the CIA spreads freedom. The system conflates freedom with rap music and butt-fucking, and instead of seeking the real thing the alt-right eagerly buys this straw-man. Meanwhile, day after day, every mechanism of social control that’s being put into place in China is creeping into West.

If you support big tech with your data, you’re supporting what they do to your society. Yet every alt-right grifter is intellectually masturbating on these platforms and begging not to be thrown off. There is a poem about this:

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

All these e-“dissidents” want the lights kept on just as badly as Joel Osteen, Howard Stern, and Rage Against the Machine do, even if it means eating a soyburger, sucking a dick, and bombing Tehran. That is the problem, not just $3.8 billion per year to Israel out of a $30 trillion national debt.

And you can’t fix the problem if you can’t fix yourself. Liberal democracy has created more power, prosperity, security and innovation than all the fascist strongmen the alt-right so longs for, combined, and they’re feeding off of it like pigs in a trough with no self-consciousness whatsoever. “I can’t believe I’m doing this, I swear I’m not that kind of girl” is all their activism amounts to. Say what you want about Alex Jones, but if 1776 is a pipe dream, at least it’s consistent.

Granted, I’m no big fan of PornHub, or 365 Black, or drag kids on ketamine, but if you think America is so satanic, you might want to ask yourself: is what China does to Muslims not satanic? Is Iran’s treatment of Christians not satanic? Is Putin, as a man and a leader, not satanic?

No? Are you sure

If what you’re really all about is classical metaphysics, family values, etc., and you think that denouncing the Jews is the sine qua non of defending those things, then you’re not about tradition. You’re just projecting.

None of these tradcaths genuinely wants the kind of mind control by gilded pharisee eunuchs that they pretend to advocate. How do I know? Because according to their whole weltanschauung, a non-Jew is essentially Judaized in proportion with how much he sins. Watching too much porn? You’ve been Jewed. Got college debt? It’s the Jews, etc. They’re not really blaming the Jews for rejecting Christ. They’re blaming the Jews for original sin. They don’t actually want to live under the High Church of Sicut Judaeis (their ancestors gladly immigrated to a country where the Church has no official status.) No—they just want to see those screws put into other people.

So it should come as no surprise that there is very convincing evidence that Nick Fuentes is gay. (I mean, evidence other than just his impish, Baby Stewie gayface, which has the disproportional forehead, pointy chin and horizontally long mouth characteristic of so many gay men, e.g. Pete Buttigieg.) It takes an evolved kind of slyness for a gay man to dissimulate as heterosexual, and Fuentes the gen-Z social media maven is nothing if not sly. Everybody who’s been to high school has met an over-the-top closet case like this, and the Church has always been a hiding-place for them. Stentorian anti-semitism suits both the gay penchant for melodrama, and the need for extreme dissociation. The model here is of course Father Coughlin, who was deeply closeted. The subconscious logic is, I may be a faggot, but if I denounce the Jews hard enough I might just get into heaven through the back door. And this is quite beside the point that advertising one’s piety is not only shady and obnoxious, it is literally anti-Christian.

I’m not telling you what to think about Jews, okay? I don’t even think Groyperism is bad overall. In a system where public lying is endemic, with an elite more debauched and venal than any before in history, you’re going to get anti-semitism when 50% of that elite is Jewish. But what I am asking you to do is to consider whether “Jewish” is a real criteria of right and wrong, reason and unreason—and what psychological purposes it serves to pretend that it is.

The Dreyfus Affair was utterly of the same species as this: the cheap scapegoating of a hapless kike by a coterie of officers invoking patriotism, Catholicism, and Jewish conspiracy—all in order to cover up their own incompetence, and the treason of one of their colleagues. Without Israel running interference for the petrodollar, every one of these tradclowns would be warming his hands over a trashcan fire. But if my whole schtick was to press Jesus Christ into service e-marketing psychological distance to sub-literates on YouTube, I’d be doing a Father Coughlin impersonation, too.

Requiem for an Honest Man

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shalom khaver

What if you had to choose between a bang and a whimper?

The bereaved father (Hebrew) of an only-child fallen soldier (English) committed suicide over his son’s grave. Did the comfort to be taken in sacrificing for the greater good turn out to be empty mockery? Well….

If the glib reassurances of the living don’t stick, it’s because they shouldn’t. As a father of sons I can absolutely relate to this man. Good for him. The paradox of a state that conscripts you to murder and be murdered, but forbids suicide, strongly implies ownership. With the best of intentions.

Camus said, “The only serious question in life is whether or not to kill yourself.” Either we affirm life or we negate it. Every acquiescence to hatred and fear is an acquiescence to death, a suicide in miniature.

At least actual suicide is honest.

 

Logos

image

freedom isn’t free

I meant to give you what’s been lost

but now you have to try and find it

Tetragramatons and old appliances

and Father David has his incense

a dusty village has its Saint

We’ll not be going back to Kansas

though roadsigns promise yesterdays

Fatherland Über Alles

Say goodnight to the bad guy

Say goodnight to the bad guy

“Military cemeteries in every corner of the world are silent testimony to the failure of national leaders to sanctify human life.” —Yitzhak Rabin

The light in his heart blinded his sight; the longing for peace deafened his ears. And there’s something depressingly totalitarian in the notion that the sanctification of human life is the responsibility of the men in charge (=”national leaders”). A business like that could get real selective.

But since everywhere it already is and always has been, when it comes to Number One the only explanations for laxity are hubris, subterfuge or infirmity. And when it comes to the country Rabin led, you’re either for it, against it, or indifferent. There’s no moderate position that means anything.

To wit,

If Israel were to relinquish the West Bank, 80 per cent of its population and most of its industry would be within range of light artillery, mortars and even rifles positioned on the high ground of the Samarian and Judean ridges. These ridges cannot be effectively demilitarized or adequately inspected….

and

Those… who claim that modern military technology has made obsolete the need for… critical terrain…. are simply spouting ignorance. As weapons of war become more sophisticated these factors assume a greater and not a lesser importance…

Air defence radar situated on the [West Bank] affords the Israeli Air Force approximately 15 minutes’ warning time in the event of… air attack. Without these installations, the IAF would only have about four minutes in which to scramble its fighters…

[Furthermore,] no amount of electronic gadgetry could possibly substitute for control of… in-place defences against… guerrilla forces infiltrating across torturous borders. Between 1949 and 1967 the IDF devoted much of its resources against [such] infiltration. That these efforts were essentially not successful is clearly attested by the large number of Jews killed and wounded and property damage sustained during this period.

These are the expert analyses of disinterested military professionals, known to US policymakers since 1967. There’s an obvious inference to be made from them: that the moment Israel accepts a two-state solution, its viability, i.e., the lives of its people, becomes wholly dependent on feckless outside brokerage. How well has that worked out for other US collaborators? For the Jews? Consequently, Israel negotiates only in bad faith; it relinquishes territory only under immense outside pressure.

And so today, a lower-grade, more intractable intifada is upon us, the latest stage in an unresolved 1948 real estate dispute turned bitterly personal. Though Big Brother’s take on the matter rings unmistakably millenarian, machiavellian dispassion is still the best approach to it.

But the standard premises run as follows: (1) The Jews are the aggressors whose bad behavior (“the occupation”) provokes these recurrent flare-ups. Redress this bad behavior and the problem solves itself. (2) The Arabs are the aggressors whose bad behavior (“terrorism”) provokes these recurrent flare-ups. Redress this bad behavior and the problem solves itself. (3) Each side has fair claims and unreasonable demands. Empower the reasonable people on each side (“civil society”), disempower the recalcitrants (the electorates), and the problem solves itself.

But all three run into each other, because nobody who has any real power is willing to endorse either of the first two (otherwise the matter would be settled), and the third can be modified to suit the purposes of any of the myriad stakeholders who appear to have real power.

A recent example, this one dressed up in IDF fatigues, appears this month in the Atlantic from the pen of one Jeffery Goldberg—like me, an American of Hebrewish provenance who as a youth served in the Israeli army only to return to the US with his tail between his legs.

Over the years, most of Goldberg’s journalistic efforts have been exerted (with preciously thin impartiality) on behalf of der judenstaat. But as a DC correspondent, a credentialed establishment man, he is innately straight-jacketed by the millenarian paradigm.

Because today this consensus so heavily emphasizes The Occupation and the Despair™, Goldberg wants the morally immaculate Atlantic readership informed that in addition to its anti-colonial aspect, Palestinian nationalism is replete with dehumanization of The Other, based on decades of misapprehending (because Israel was conceived in peace and dedicated to the proposition that peace peace peace) but nonetheless egregiously insensitive sectarian chauvinism that handily predates the Jewish state in all its inadvertent excesses.

Shocking, no? Now that Goldberg has blown this thing open, will the Palestinians’ blood-curdling judenhaas cost them any street-cred? Of course not: the Jews are Franco to Orwell’s Catalonia here, haven’t you read the playbill? Only NPR granolas still think they see Israel anywhere near the progressive fold, and only glorified bloggers like the Atlantic house neocon believe that a death threat is exactly that, when The International Community™ is adamant it’s just a cry for help.

The Serbs were laboring under the same unwary naïveté when they went out to battle the unrepentant sons of ustashi and the traveling remnants of Charlie Wilson’s jihad, only to have The Rule of Law™ rain bombs on their children and old people. The slightly more sophisticated Goldberg understands that the Frantz Fannon approach to Levantine affairs is sold out, he just hasn’t figured out that there’s no return policy. Ever the sectarian partisan, ever the lamenting liberal, if he wants to keep selling himself as a moderate and conceiving of himself one of the Good Guys™, then neither of his two conflicted faces may blurt out what they’d like, even when they’ve just said it. So he wraps up with this:

There will not be peace between Israelis and Palestinians so long as parties on both sides of the conflict continue to deny the national and religious rights of the other.

Aw, truly. And horses will not fly until they sprout wings. “Parties on both sides of the conflict”=the other guy. What we have here is The People’s Court, Uncle Sam presiding.

Thus the real hangup—of Arab, Jew and Earnest Liberal alike—reveals itself, and it isn’t tribe or talisman. For when we deploy the debate-stopping language of Rights, we whitewash our innate imperatives as creatures, not only to train up a tree in the way it should grow, but to fuck, suck, eat and shit.

Clearly, the Palestine Arabs were there first, minding their own business. They say they have the right to Palestine, to be its sole proprietors and never have this status challenged by covetous interlopers (their leaders sing different, but it’s a show tune). As rights go, this one is self-evident, devolving to the Palestinians in accordance with the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.

The only problem is that God doesn’t seem to give a shit. Neither does He seem too terribly anxious to hear we Zionists’ case regarding our putative right to pluck a fig and dig a latrine free from the capricious imperium of crescent and cross, because every time we set to digging, something explodes, and the Supreme Judge of the World™ admonishes us to “exercise restraint.” Perhaps it’s God’s silent stinkers alighting this tinderbox year after year, ha-Shem’s way of weeping over our rights and their apparent illusoriness. Though I’m disinclined to blame human foibles on the Creator, I don’t know. I’m not a theologian.

What I can declare self-evident is that the promulgation of sacred liberties, of rights, never seems to involve their simple extension, but their usurpation. It’s the greatest pretext ever devised, not for ceding power but for seizing it.

Al Pacino said it best as Tony Montana, but he may as well have been speaking for Israel:

What you lookin’ at? You all a bunch of fuckin’ assholes. You know why? You don’t have the guts to be what you wanna be. You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fuckin’ fingers and say, “That’s the bad guy.” So… what that make you? Good? You’re not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie….

In the moral lexicon of the Millennium, Israel is a sectarian anachronism, rooted in ethnic cleansing; a gangster state that espouses no principle higher than self-interest, its own and no one else’s.

Not bad for the most neurotic people on the planet!

A year or two back I saw an illustrative exchange on Meet the Press between reporter Andrea Mitchell and Israeli diplomat Ron Dermer. Mitchell played a clip of Israeli border guards kicking the crap out of a supine Arab youth, then primly asked the ambassador, “What do you say to those who cherish Israel, but who see it as potentially losing its soul?” Its soul? You’re lookin’ at it, lady. Were they not beating the kid hard enough?

Zionism is anachronistic because Judaism itself is anachronistic, at least inasmuch as it attempts to preserve something older than last week. “Progress” always requires conformity. The tyrants of this world and their hapless minions have always taken it hard that the Jews maintain their insistence on special dispensation from kneeling and groveling before its idols, but at this late stage of the game neither can most Jews stomach the fact that these principles entail risk, and self-preservation requires violence. Hard choices will have to be made, but most diaspora Jews (and many in Israel) will choose not to choose—such that, in fifty years’ time, there will be no more Judaism outside Israel. The distinctive Jewish liberal intellectualism that thrived under the pressure of interstitial cultural spaces will, in the west, simply become multiculti androgynous gobbledygook, while in Israel it will wither in relative isolation. Meanwhile, open discussion of Israel’s dire penchant for indecision is monopolized by messianic nutjobs, while open, realistic discussion of the community’s actual responsibility for the historic situation it finds itself in is monopolized by Israel’s local liberal elites, who’d relocate to Florida in a heartbeat if it didn’t mean giving up their small-pond big-fish status. Benny Morris is the only member of that latter milieu who has faced this dilemma without saccharine moralism: sometimes you have to steal a loaf of bread to feed your family. It shouldn’t be denied, but neither should it be apologized for or agonized over.

Israel’s detractors accuse it of being the tip of the Western spear in the Third World’s hide, while Israel-apologists imagine it’s a forward outpost of democracy in Kipling’s orient. But the tide of democracy tends to wash over such outposts (Algeria, Rhodesia), and the whole “Who’s got your six?” gag rings tinny when Uncle Sam’s already got the Confederacy pullin’ fireguard for Pride. The difference between Israel and the West whose back it thinks it has is the difference between Futurism and Flashbacks; between New Soviet Man and 90s Man. Between cowboy morality and midnight cowboy morality, the Millennium and the God of the Copybook Headings.

Look, I’m as tormented by hypertrophied self-awareness as Franz Kafka, as sexually maladjusted as Alan Ginsburg (well, that’s quite an exaggeration, but I digress), as gullible as Vassily Grossman, as conflicted in my affinities as Hannah Arendt; and White City Bauhaus is just the bee’s knees. But Israel without reaction (Josef Trumeldor), fascism (Vladimir Jabotinsky), pugilism (Imi Lichtenfeld) and gangsterism (Bugsy Siegel, Hank Greenspun) is no Israel at all.

Of course, there’s something deeply romantic about all these shades of grey, but there comes a time to put aside childish things. And the Jewish deficiencies Israel was intended to exorcise—the conniving, ruthless mercantilism, the sniveling refusal to bear calamity without castigating fortune—though counterbalanced by a robust militarism, these tendencies are rife among Israelis, and after five decades of police action frozen on autopilot, that now bureaucratized fighting spirit has overtaken the gangster volatility and iconoclasm of early 20th century Zionism, until nearly all that’s left is conformist thinking, Kardashian-tier trend-mongering stupidity, and spite, and the swaggering, tactless lack of Talmudic scruples typified by Netanyahu. In wanting to be liked, Rabin acceded to a precipitous valuation of his people’s lives, but at least he conducted himself with modesty, and played his cards close to his chest.

An analogous degeneration is taking place among the Arabs, who’ve gone from devout tribes of incorrigible bandits to effete, mealy-mouthed holy-rollers, hogging the airwaves with their tiresome identity crises and felching oversees lucre for their hair-trigger bloodfeuding and basement sex-traffic.

Yet despite our smug superiority, throughout the past century of Arab-Jewish reprisals, from time to time a visceral disconcertion tends to arise among Jews over everything the backward old Levant (our patrimony, which will only and forever be defined by the Arabs no matter how long we persist there, just as their religion will forever be defined by us, no matter how mad our impudence drives them) has to recommend it that Christendom never did and modernity never will. There’s an odd familiarity to the Arabs that transcends the present enmity. Old habits die hard, if we’re being honest. Even at the cost of an occasional school bus making the acquaintance of an RPG, Bedouin blood feuding’s right up our alley.

So I don’t disparage the Palestinians as terrorists or any other empty epithet. Obviously their more conspicuous tactics (indiscriminate stabbings, shootings and bombings of civilian targets) are rather chickenshit, and my hypothesis would be that this has as much to do with inchoate rage of irrelevant etiology as it does with any tactical desperation born of power asymmetry. But it is also provoked, not by Israel’s putative brutality but by the acrid scent of that congenital Jewish tendency, at this late date unvanquished by Zionist instruction, to panic and duck for shelter. This is what a Rabin embodied, i.e., surely the world’s liberals will save us. They’ll save us, alright—not from having to defend ourselves, but from defending ourselves, period.

But as far as any possible moral dimension to how an adversary plays the field (“terrorism”) in a zero-sum contest, it isn’t worth my time and isn’t mine to look into. As for the many US Jews who couldn’t care less about Judaism and the welfare of Israel except as an opportunity to virtue signal: that’s their prerogative. Jabotinsky was right about them, of course:

We cannot offer any adequate compensation to the Palestinian Arabs in return for Palestine. And therefore, there is no likelihood of any voluntary agreement being reached. So that all those who regard such an agreement as a condition sine qua non for Zionism may as well say “non” and withdraw from Zionism.

I don’t know how surprised Jabotinsky would’ve been to see these types withdraw from Zionism the way they have, but at this point they’re no more useless to Israel than my sentiments or his, and they don’t owe allegiance to their co-ethnics if they don’t feel any. A true blue Jewish state, with traffic jams and lawsuits and punk kids, kind of takes the piss out of tribal comradery anyway, and to the extent I hew to the ancient faith I do so for personal reasons, as a source of strength, and a form of oriental ancestor worship. If that strikes you as arcane or narrow-minded, well, there’s no accounting for taste. But lean forward too far and you might end up taking a dick (like this poor, dumb bastard—in the words of Milan Kundera, “He wanted the Kingdom of Heaven”). The only reason to sacrifice a thousand-odd women and children on the rancid alter of pretend International Norms™ every three-quarters’ decade is to avoid the Serbia treatment. Which either tells you who isn’t really running global affairs, or is a piss-poor commentary on the value of intra-ethnic solidarity in the aftermath of the 20th century.

Maimonides is purported to’ve said, “The messiah will come, though he may tarry.” Well, let that sanctimonious cocksucker drag his feet. It’s still more interesting down here without him.

Nazi Hussein

the_lone_gunmen_b

“I and the public know/What all schoolchildren learn…..”*

Part I of a series in progress…. Part II here, Part III forthcoming

In an absolute sense, you never really know what’s true. In the case of second hand stories, you can only relate what you’ve been told.

The year was 2005. I had an eight hour layover in Amsterdam. It was sometime in that cleft between dawn and the start of business hours on a frigid weekday in late winter, and if you’re getting high at that hour it can only be for one of two reasons: because you have a serious drug problem and have been up all night awaiting your chance to smoke, or because you’re a tourist in friggin’ Amsterdam and this just happens to be the time of day your plane landed. Although on that particular day the latter reason was certainly true of me, I was getting high for the former reason.

After a forty-five minute stroll past shuttered storefronts, I happened upon a coffee shop that was open and operating. Beside a squat, bald, mustachioed Turk with greasy facial moles who apparently ran it, the place was empty of customers except for two guys having a conversation in Arabic, whom I sat down next to at the bar.

The one nearest me, on my right, was late-middle aged, stocky but dapper and a tad swarthy, with piercing green eyes, a bulbous nose and a five o’clock shadow. He wore a dark blue trench coat and grey slacks, assiduously polished black leather shoes and a felt fedora, and assessed me guardedly as I pulled out the stool to his left and goofily nodded my unmistakably American amiability. To his right sat a tall, gangly youth with a long, acned face and wavy, greased black hair, wearing skinny jeans, Adidas, and a beige turtle-neck. This younger Arab was adamant about something, intent on his interlocutor and bantering at length a mere inch or two from the right side of the latter’s face. Periodically this older gentleman, staring straight ahead, would indifferently muster a monosyllabic reply before taking a hit off the little green plastic house-bong that stood between them, filthier than a store-sock and giving off little whisps of stale smoke from its top-hole. When the old Arab exhaled, the Turk, stationary behind the bar and leaning against the back wall in front of us with his hands in his pockets, would grimace conspicuously, give a passive-aggressive grunt of objection and slowly, begrudgingly turn his head away from the oncoming cloud.

I paid the harried little Turk for a gram of hashish and set to mixing half of it with the contents of a Winston light, with all the ritualistic lighter-flicking and foil-oragami that entails. At that age I was naively enamored Levantine hospitality and the contrast it posed to the American wariness and insincerity I had known all my life. So when my mixture was complete I gestured in the direction of the bong and, when the old Arab handed it to me, packet the bowl and passed it back to him. His face registered surprise without breaking the exasperated pallor the younger man’s ranting seemed to have induced, and he lit up, inhaled and passed the bong back to me.

I packed another bowl and offered it to the younger man, who gestured refusal without a let-up in his Arabic banter. So I lit up, and as I exhaled it the older man, in unaccented American, asked “Where you from, kid?”

“From California. I’ve got a layover on my way to Tel Aviv.” That last bit of information was superfluous and intentionally provocative. I have no major objection to the basic Arab view of Israel, at least not on strictly logical grounds. If I was Arab, I’d share it. My objection to that viewpoint, such as it is, is mostly an accident of birth, and I figured that relations with an Arab who isn’t entirely determined to not get along with me are liable, ironically, to be all the more fraternal on that account.

The older man snorted an amused and oddly satisfied chuckle and glanced snidely at his compatriot, frozen of a sudden as though he’d just been slapped in the face.

“Where you guys from?”

“Palestine!” bellowed the youth, also in unaccented American, with a force he perhaps hadn’t anticipated from himself.

“He’s from Los Angeles” the older man, now in better control of his amusement, corrected him. Not being in on the joke, I was starting to feel rather like the object of some conspiratorial roast.

“Oh cool, I’m from Santa Carla! What do you do in LA?”

The younger man glared at me with unselfconscious hostility. The older one continued, “His family owns some kind of bodega in the hood down there.”

“What brings you to Amsterdam?” I asked the youth.

“I’m on my way to Kuwait” he sullenly replied.

“What’s going on in Kuwait?”

“My uncle owns a business.”

“I see. And is this man your uncle?” I was still concealing my provocations beneath that insoluble veneer of American obliviousness. The older gent let slip a snort that broke into a chuckle.

“No, no, no, we just met in here and this kid” (he pointed with a jerk of his thumb) “started talkin’ Arab at me. I’m from Michigan. Name’s Nazee, nice to meet you.” He extended a hand.

“Likewise; Sam” I said as we shook hands. His handshake was not lithe but firm and smothering, more midwestern than middle eastern.

“What brings you to Amsterdam?”

“Well, I’m moving to Israel to enlist in the Israeli army.” The younger man’s jaw and brow dropped an inch apiece as if he hadn’t figured his day could get any worse.

“You’re from Santa Carla and you want to move to the middle east?” asked Nazee. “Why in the hell would you wanna go and do a thing like that?”

“Well, I think it’s a beautiful place.”

“That’s certainly true. But what are you going there to do? I mean, why join the Israeli army? Are you Jewish? Are your parents Israeli?”

“Well, my parents are both American. I’m half-Jewish. A couple years back I lived over there for a few months, and since then I just haven’t been able to think about anything except going back. So I figure, if I learn the language and enlist in the army, that would make me a part of the place. I wouldn’t just be a tourist. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an ideologue. I’ve got nothing against you people, and I can imagine how you must view an American joining the Israeli army. But I figure once I’ve become a real part of the country, I’ll stay out there and pursue peace in my own way, as a journalist and an author. So I dropped out of college and I’m on my way.”

“Well, I agree that nobody really needs college to make it.” A silent moment passed and the youth recovered from his disbelief and resumed ranting in Arabic. I took another bong hit. Pretty soon they got up, and Nazee said, “My pal and I are going to grab a bite if you wanna come.”

A bit surprised, I threw on my huge backpack and set off with them.

We meandered through the red light district and along the canals for about half an hour, occasionally passing a joint between us. Very little was spoken to me in English. Finally we came to an Arab restaurant where we sat and ordered. As their conversation continued, I got the feeling I was the butt of some joke unbeknown to me. When the food came, I dug in with my hands. “He eats like an Arab!” Nazee exclaimed. The conversation switched to English for awhile. At length we paid our tabs—separately, like good Americans—and got up to accompany the young Palestinian to the train station. As Nazee and I were leaving the platform we’d seen him off from, I said blankly, “Well, he was a nice guy.”

“No he wasn’t. He was making fun of you the whole time.”

“Well, I can understand his resentment. I shouldn’t have said anything about Israel.”

“Look, kid. I got two boys your age, that kid’s age. You’re all a bunch of fucking retards. You’re going to Israel, right?”

“Yeah, but it doesn’t mean I can’t respect other people’s feelings.”

“Respect away. But you wanna go work for Sharon and Peres? That’s no joke. Those guys are fucking gangsters, man. Gangsters. Not movie actors, not mixed up kids with silly tattoos. Mass murderers. And you’re softer than rotting fruit. You can’t think the way you do in the place where you’re going.”

Laden with that whole post-9/11 constellation of enemy-of-my-enemy stereotypes, I was still confused about something. “I thought you and that guy were friends.”

“Fuck that guy. What’s the problem with being friendly and just speaking English? All three of us speak fluent English, but he spoke Arab the entire time just to exclude you from the conversation.

“Fucking Arabs, man. They’re always trying to implicate one another in some little pissing contest. You’re suspect unless you’re pledging loyalty over and over. They need Israel though, ’cause they all hate each other. And Israel needs them, ’cause the minute there’s peace you people will be at each other’s throats. How much can a Russian and an Ethiopian really have in common, anyhow?

“That kid’s parents made good in the States”, he continued. “He’s going to make good money living in Kuwait on a US passport. People like him want all the benefits of being American, but they hate America. I live in Michigan, yeah? There’re a lot of Arabs over there. Most of them hate Americans. Not just George Bush; their neighbors, too. Fuck that. I didn’t go to America to just hunker down with my kind.

“I came to America from Syria almost thirty years ago. I was nineteen years old. Back then they took you to the army right out of high school. Still do, as a matter of fact. It was the mid-seventies and there had just been this God-awful war against Israel. I didn’t know a thing about politics, I just couldn’t see the point of dying for the asshole that was in charge over there. So I took a bus to Jordan and found my way to the US embassy. I swept floors at a bakery, slept on the street and just waited in line at the embassy for hours, every day I could get down there, for about nine months.

“By some miracle I finally got in to see this woman, I didn’t know who she was, her title, or what gave her authority to decide my case, but she asked me why didn’t I wanna go back to Syria, and I told her straight up that I didn’t wanna get drafted. She asked what I wanted to do in the US, and I couldn’t tell her, and she looks me right in the eye, something about her voice and the way she’s facing me kinda changes, and she says—I’ll never forget it—she asked me if it mattered to me to marry Muslim, or if I could marry a Christian or a Jewish or a Chinese girl, and I said through the interpreter, I said, lady, I don’t give a rat’s ass, I’ll marry who I love. And she stamped my passport right there.

“I didn’t speak a word of English. I spent three years cleaning toilets and flippin’ burgers by the beach in Miami, almost didn’t eat anything except hamburgers in all that time. But I learned English. Over the years I spoke Arabic with my parents and sisters by phone, but it got harder and harder. The truth is I haven’t really spoken Arabic in thirty years. I don’t know if you noticed that kid was doing most of the talking. I can’t speak much Arabic anymore. It’s too emotional for me.

“I been back to Syria a few times though. I’m considered a deserter, so I gotta fly through Amman, cross overland and pay a shitload of money. I can’t fly straight in or they’ll arrest me at the airport. I paid $10,000 the last time. One time, there was some kind of disturbance at the airport in Jordan, and our flight just circled and circled above Amman for like, half an hour. Finally, the captain got on the intercom and said we may just have to land in Damascus. I almost shit myself, ’cause they would’ve cut my balls off if I showed up at the airport in Damascus. But we ended up landing in Amman.

“My kids don’t have that problem. When they were old enough, I sent them to see their grandparents and cousins. They can just fly right in on US passports. But the police followed them everywhere. Fucking everywhere. That’s why I don’t understand this ghetto mentality a lot of the Arabs around Detroit have, ’cause they don’t have to put up with that over there.”

“But that’s not true!” I interrupted. “What about the PATRIOT Act and all the domestic surveillance of Muslim-Americans?”

“Look man, I got a welding business. Sheet metal fabrication. I work with my sons. All the contractors around town, we all know each other. On 9/11 I was in this lunch spot we all go, and a bunch of these guys were at the counter, they came in without noticing that I was already there at a corner table with my back turned. The World Trade Center was on the TV above the lunch counter for like, the five-thousandth time that day, and they all started talking about the fuckin’ ragheads and how we need to bomb ’em to smithereens.

“Then one of these guys pipes up, he says, ‘Wait a minute, what about Nazee? He’s Arab, ain’t he?’ And someone else says, ‘Yeah, but he’s not like that.’ And they all kinda quieted down after that, maybe they felt like they went too far with what they’d been saying. That’s just the way people are. The PATRIOT Act ain’t about Arabs. Arabs are an excuse, like the Jews used to be. You think they’re just gonna spy on Arabs now? They’re gonna fuck everyone. What you gotta be worried about is not getting fucked! But racism? Racism’s older than prostitution. Get over it. You can hate people’s guts and still get along with ’em if you’re willing to try. Most of the Arab immigrants in my neck of the woods don’t try though, they stick to themselves. They’re hostile. But they want all the benefits. Like that Turkish guy in the coffee shop giving us dirty looks every time we blew smoke. For christsake, asshole—you sell weed for a living!

“Look at this fuckin’ Arab over here” he whispered, jerking his head rightward to indicate a snowy-haired man some meters away, walking along an adjacent canal with a hijab-clad younger woman by his side. “You think they put those grocery bags on their women because they think it’s wrong for a man to stare at girls? Hell no. It’s because they’re busy looking at everyone else’s girls. They come to a place like this so they can do that. Guy probably brought his daughter to the fuckin’ Netherlands and then put a bag over her head and forced her to marry a stranger or a cousin just because the guy’s from the same country. Well stay the fuck over there if all you’re interested in is the old country.

“You got these mass murderers like Sharon—same story. He’d have fit right in at the KGB. It don’t matter for some people what to believe, as long as they can get their little hard-on. You know what they want? Approval. Behind that tough guy stance, they’re only doing what other people let them get away with. They want to be admired, be remembered. Same reason the pharaohs built those pyramids, man. It’s in our DNA to want to leave a legacy, to shape the future, especially for men. So we come up with all these bullshit rules about what’s best for other people, and pretty soon even a mass murderer thinks he’s doing everybody a favor.

“Look, I think it’s stupid for you to go fight with people who ain’t done you any wrong, but you gotta figure that out yourself. Maybe you got a point, a good reason. I can’t know. Maybe, if I’da been born in the states, I’d have gone the opposite direction. I mean, I’m not much smarter than you. But at some point you gotta worry about yourself and stop implicating the whole damn world in your bullshit, stop trying to make the whole world’s bullshit your own. It’s just a matter of making that choice yourself, or being forced to by circumstances.

“You know how easy it is to get along with people? Look, I’ll prove it. My name’s Nazee, right? Nazee Hussein. This is my business card.” He reached into his coat pocket and handed me a little white rectangle of tagboard with blue letters on it that read, “Nazi Hussein and Sons. Sheet metal fabrication.”

“You spell your name Nazi?”

“I spell it like it sounds. Politics aren’t my department.” In his fedora and trenchcoat, the Bogie quote was well played.

We continued in silence for a few minutes and eventually stepped into a little souvenir shop where there was a big glass display case full of iron-on flag patches for backpackers. The clerk sneered as Nazi reached in and took out the little Israeli flag and handed it to me. I looked at the clerk and pointed to the Palestine flag, and she started to reach for it, but Nazi laid a hand gently on her forearm to stop her. “What in the hell do you think you’re doing?” he asked me.

“I want to wear both flags to show that I’m open-minded, that I want peace, that we can all get along. Like you said!”

“You walk into the Tel Aviv airport with a Palestine flag on you and they’re gonna tear open your ass. Think, man! You gotta firm up. We all want peace, but that’s not where you’re going. You want people to be reasonable, but what’s reasonable to a guy who had the good fortune to grow up in the states is different than what’s reasonable for an Israeli kid working airport security who grew up his whole life with his neighbors wanting to kill him. If you wanna be with your people, then be with your people. America’s the opposite direction.”

I paid for my Israeli flag patch, handed Nazi a couple safety pins and turned my back to him while he pinned it on my Jansport. Then we walked back to the train station together and stood on the platform smoking a joint. When the train to the airport came I gave Nazi Hussein a big hug, stepped onboard, and made my way to Israel.

I can’t say that I really strongly countenance or object to any of Nazi’s criticisms of his people—I’ve just never walked in his shoes. But his words have been kicking around my head for over a decade now. They were there when I was living in Israel, when I served in the Israeli army and when I returned to California with my tail between my legs.