Category Archives: Fatherland

Reductio Ad Iudaeoram, Pt. II

innocence is bliss

Dave Chappelle is woke as fuck. He traffics in every NPR tote-bag trope from hair touching to food deserts, and tops off each of his specials with grave sermonizing about racism. His recent tranny bit was a fig-leaf for Netflix, and his “Space Jews” bit only made the whole thing palatable for consumer-dissidents of every variety, whose bravest ego-defense will always be Palestine.

What do I mean by this? Full-retard anti-semitism is not a garden variety prejudice, but its psychological mechanism is textbook projection, which works the same in every fanatical creed, its object being to salve the conscience while relinquishing one’s freedom. Moderate, “implicit,” classical liberal racism is sober and mature—the subtle recognition of ontological differences that makes mutual respect possible. Full-retard anti-semitism, in contrast, is dishonest precisely because it arises from a sense of innocence, something cunning and vindictive mediocrities are always in the market for.

As an illustration of this, here is Congressman Thomas Massie commenting apropos of the recent controversy around the congressional progressive caucus’s rejection of an allocation for Israel’s missile defense system:

the innocence abroad

I like Thomas Massie. I’d make him President if I could. I’m certainly not calling him an anti-semite, but his Twitter feed is full of this Pollyanna bilge, and his formulation (above) is a good illustration of psychological distancing. Obviously, both of these things (“fantasy” and “reality,” above) are true, and they’re interdependent because a lot of the time it’s Foreigner A exerting influence on Congress to suborn U.S. influence over Foreigner B. But even supposing Massie’s tweet is correct as formulated: in order to buy influence, you have to have someone who is willing to sell, someone who holds power and is willing to hire it out. What Massie was implying instead—and certainly what those applauding him inferred—is that foreigners are corrupting Americans who would otherwise be quite innocent in foreign affairs.

Well I like America fine, okay? But that’s pure idolatry. Ever heard of Brown Bros. Harriman, or Mr. Potter? How about the Contracts Clause, or Lin Manuel Noriega? This country was structured on peonage and patronage and foreign wars from day one. Horatio Alger was a pederast for chrissakes, and Reverend Dimsdale was a paragon of “a moral and religious people.” Show me a man who thinks the problem is Jews, and I will show you an exhibit of the psychology needed to willingly go on having a problem when the debt for it comes due. And as for those earnest liberals who now essentially view Israel entirely from the Palestinian perspective, if I was King of the Jews I’d relinquish everything up to the 1949 armistice lines just to force the purveyors of this thoroughly conventional iconoclasm to say what they really think.

Oh, and by the way: $4 billion per year in military aid to a country whose military is constrained by this arrangement to spend $20 billion here, annually, equals negative 16 billion dollars, geniuses.

Southern Exposure

There’s only one great road trip in Israel, a three-hour drive from Tel Aviv’s sweltering, interminable bumper-to-bumper through a great empty desert of sandstone canyons and date palms and camels, downhill all the way to the little manicured pubic-strip of beachfront hotels along Israel’s flea-speck of Red Sea shore. The Arava is a single arroyo so big you can see it from space, straining south toward furthest Arabia, punctuated by a massive below sea-level crater you can see a hundred miles across as you descend into it along serpentine switchbacks to its soft, sandy belly. Emerging at the other end, from eastward the craggy red mountain spine of Jordan leers down at you the remainder of the way to Eilat.

This dramatic topography belies the relative size of the speck of map that it crosses, and the contrast gives itself to a sensation of wild freedom comparable to driving from Denver to Taos, or from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe. When the highway finally reaches Eilat, you’re still looking downhill, across a long, gentle slope extending between foothills through town, down to the water and off down the coast of Saudi Arabia, as if the whole southern half of the country was one great funnel-shaped beachhead. To the east of you is Jordan, Egypt is immediately to the west, and the bay is full of Panamax tankers. No other place so small and narrow as Eilat could ever feel so wide open.

“They’ve got all these crime families in Israel, kafkazi, Moroccan. Mafia, mafia,” Boris informs me in slow, steady Hebrew as if he’s talking to a chinaman. We’re cruising south in Betzalel’s Lamborghini, top down, full moon beaming, the cool night air swirling in the desert around us. Boris is a street-wise general contractor who grew up in a pnimia, a kind of low-class boarding school for foster kids. Shrewd and charismatic, he has dreams of getting rich and a habit of cultivating useful friendships: Betzalel is the indolent and airheaded rich-kid pushover, and I am the American. I regard Boris with wry skepticism and he respects me for it. Plus we have a mutual sort of anthropological interest going on.

“And it’s true they pimp and run drugs,” Boris continues, “but would you believe where the bulk of their income is derived? From recycling. Municipal recycling! You get 10 agorot for a Coke can, right? Half a shekel for a bottle. So these guys extort restaurants and falafel stands for recyclables. Isn’t that wild?”

“No one in America would think to make a criminal enterprise out of saving the planet,” I respond. “That’s for damn sure.” (Actually, nowadays that’s not true anymore.)

Yotveta is the last stop before Eilat. We pile out. Boris and I grab chips and chocolate milk while Betzalel fills the gas tank.

It’s 1 AM on a Friday night when we check into the hostel. The room’s like a county jail cell, with eight bunks for a total of sixteen beds, a couple of violently buzzing fluorescent lights and a shitty ceiling fan. It’s not Betzalel’s kind of digs, but he was going along to get along because he didn’t want to be too generous.

A boisterous group of guys our age is drinking arak and playing dominos around a card table, monopolizing the space in front of the room’s single window, overlooking a boulevard where revelers are transiting back and forth loudly. These roommates are a half-dozen hairy kafkazi guys in skinny jeans and beaters, with two raven-haired broads standing, because the guys have all the chairs. One of the girls is frumpy and the other is pretty. They’re both wearing heavy layers of make-up. We nod to this group and the girls glance at us furtively, but I can tell the cute one had been looking at Boris.

We go out. We bar hop. We drink and dance and try to pick up chicks. Everyone comes to Eilat in discrete groups and it can be difficult to separate the women. Eventually the night finds us at a bar in this little cabana type place by the water. A largish group shuffles in behind us and in the dark I make out our roommates. As they pulled out stools Boris looked wary, but Betzalel struck up with them very amicably and before long we were all up the street in a nightclub with strobe lights, fog machines, a DJ and everything. Some drunk, sweaty chick was grinding on me, spilling her RedBull and vodka down my shirt in slips and slops, when I realized Boris and Betzalel had vanished. My dance partner was way too drunk for me to fuck honorably, and she smelled like faded Axe body spray and patchouli, so I took off looking for my friends. I found Boris around back by the dumpsters, making out furiously with the cute kafkazi girl from the hostel. Betzalel was off a ways, puffing on an L&M with his collar popped and pissing against a chainlink fence.

I walked right over. “Hey Boris man, where are those guys? You sure that’s a good idea?”

He tore himself off her face like a suction cup and looked around blankly. Then he said, “We’re taking a cab back to the room. You coming?”

“Uh…. Yeah, but what about those guys? You’re not worried?”

“Just stand guard down the hall for me.”

Ten minutes later I’m leaning on a vending machine with Betzalel when our douchebag roommates come bowling up the stairs like West Side Story. You could hear Boris fucking the shit out of this girl down the hall. “Hey, guys, how’s it going?” I put on a shit eating grin and tried to distract them, but they brushed right past me and into the room. I wasn’t gonna let them beat up my friend, but as I started to follow them in they burst out, dragging Boris by the scruff of his neck, shoeless with his belt buckle dangling. As the girl came slinking out, shamefaced and shoulders arched, Betzalel slipped into the room behind them and shut himself in. Betzalel’s grandfather owned an oil refinery in Greece, meat-packing plants in Israel, and God-knows what else. I’d been trying hard to like him but the fact was he was exceptionally stupid and contemptible.

In any case, I decided I’d play dumb with these kafkazi guys and see how far it got me. I trailed close but not too close behind them as they made their way to the parking lot, and when we emerged into the early morning I put on the thickest, most ham-fisted American accent I possibly could. “Hey where we going guys? We going back to the club?”

“Go back to the room, Sam!” Boris entreated. But as they opened the sliding side-door on their Mercedes Sprinter I slipped in behind the driver’s seat. “We going for breakfast or something guys?” I tried to look as moronic as I could. They all glanced at each other sidelong and kind of shrugged. Then they shoved Boris in beside me and five of them hopped in behind us. The sixth and runtiest one had bad acne, a ridiculous overbite and coke-bottle glasses with a headband. He grabbed the girl by the hair and slammed her face against the passenger-side window, then walked calmly around the front to the driver’s side. She snuffled and wiped a profuse stream of blood from her nose up her forearm, then from her forearm onto her pants. Then she climbed in the front passenger seat resignedly and buckled up.

There’s a ring road that goes up around Eilat into the burnt hills and comes out at a highway that winds up to an observatory and on along the Egyptian border. Dawn was breaking over Jordan as we turned east off the highway down a dirt track and off onto an endless, sandy mesa. Pretty soon we pulled over by some bushes and the driver snuffed the engine.

Boris was not the kind of guy to go quietly like he had, and the fact that no explicit threats had been made nor weapons brandished told me that on the one hand, these guys had good reason to be confident of being feared, which was very bad for us; but also that the situation was negotiable, because if you don’t need to make a threat explicit you don’t lose face by back-peddling. The question was how to give them latitude.

I hopped out ahead of the other guys in back as they dragged Boris out by his armpits like he’d been condemned to a firing squad. They threw him on the ground. I helped him up. Then they surrounded us as the biggest one, this choad-like, walleyed kid with a ginormous globule of neck fat separating his head from his shirt collar, brought out a tire iron and waddled over to right behind the little guy with the glasses. The runty one got right in Boris’s face.

“The name Benziad mean anything to you?”

“Yes, of course.” Boris replied. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything. I didn’t know.”

Eyal Benziad was one of the most feared names in Israel. I hadn’t lived in the country eighteen months and barely spoke the language, but even I knew that. The resemblance suddenly asserted itself: we were face to face with the son and protege of a mass murderer.

“Guys please,” Boris continued. “This is all a misunderstanding. I apologize. I really mean it. I didn’t know. I’m sorry. Please….” His voice was breaking. He was on the verge of tears.

Now, we may have been facing death, but I wasn’t going be murdered without my dignity, and Boris’s groveling pissed me off. At that time the U.S. wigger imitator of boogie lip-flap was a well-known comedy trope internationally, and I’m not proud to admit that I was going through a bit of a phase myself. In fact, at that moment I was dressed in a Sprewell jersey, Timberlands and basketball shorts down to my ankles. I looked like J-Rock from Trailer Park Boys. I even had on a sweatband. That’s when it dawned on me. I knew just what I had to do.

“Yo dawg, this some bullshit dawg!” I shoved Boris aside and got right in this kid’s face. “This my boy, dawg. We aint’ going out like no punks!” I said all this entirely in English, gesticulating as niggerishly as I possibly could. I tapped the runty kid lightly in the chest. “You fuckin’ with my boy, you fuckin’ with me dawg! We ain’t goin’ out like that. My boy ain’t no punk.”

The others tightened the circle around us. I’d tried, but now we were completely fucked. Just then the corner of the runty kid’s mouth turned up, and he glanced wryly around at the others. The walleyed kid in back burst out laughing like an orc receiving a handjob. That set off a chain reaction. First, the runt started cackling, then the others until they were gasping for breath. Boris glanced at me for a nanosecond, subtly enough to not be seen, with a look of supernal relief and amazement.

“What’s this guy’s name?” the runt asked Boris in Hebrew.

“Sam.”

“Sam? Nice to meet you.” He gave a mirthful snort as he stuck out his hand and we shook. “You America? America good. George Bush. Dr. Dre. You many good, many ha ha ha.” He said all this in English. “You friend name?”

“Boris,” I replied.

“Okay, Boris,” (now in Hebrew). “I think we can call this a misunderstanding. You need to have respect and be aware of who you’re dealing with in the future.”

“Absolutely. Thank you. Thank you.”

Then we all went back into town for omelettes and hair of the dog.

The Last Refuge of Scoundrels

generation identitaire

I said I like my enemies ridiculous, and the universe did not disappoint:

There are only two things that Antifa, the Vatican, grooming gangs, neo-Nazis and BLM all have in common: (1) they are god-awful reprobates, and (2) they reflexively support the Palestine Arabs. It was only a matter of time before unibrowed Insta slags began slithering that direction—a cherry-on-top that is most fitting, and not only for its circumference. There really is nothing more intellectually lazy than anti-Zionism; when you look at all the factoids and incidents that Israel’s habitual detractors busy themselves flapping about, you’ll eventually notice three things: (1) a kind of high-powered microscopy, as if to the exclusion of all other topics this one holds no end of fascination; (2) a penchant for sensationalism coupled with a distinct and remarkably consistent aversion to context; and (3) indictment counts that could just as readily be turned on anyone, e.g., callousness, “privilege,” solipsism, etc. Sure, the Jews are wicked. But they are wicked in the way of all flesh. Ultimately, the cause of their detractors’ singularly circuitous loathing is that the Jews are trying to live, and we don’t like it when others do that. The Palestinians are trying to live as well, and (if they had the whip hand) would treat their neighbors most sadistically. They’re not shy about this. But they lack the whip hand, and pity is cathartic, and taking a criminal for what he is would force us to look too closely in the mirror.

Lord knows I’ve picked my arguments with Zionism; but no creature in the world is sicklier than an anti-Zionist Jew, so I tried to at least make my criticism a novel and constructive one, viz., that Zionism, despite its blood-and-soil mythos and martial culture, is in large part a victimology and thus a fitting spearhead for some of the worst cultural and technological excesses of global liberalism. But liberals have never been comfortable with Israel, because Israel is a constant reminder that what opposes one’s life and thriving must be regarded as evil, rather than misguided.

To regard conscientious, unabashed criminality and celebration of murder as misguided is to presume to arbitrate moral law; to treat it as justifiable is to vicariously absolve oneself of moral duty. That is why Palestine is a cause célèbre. It unites a remarkably broad coalition the world over, because it is a vocation of moralfags and a refuge for ulterior motives of every variety; a veritable Burning Man of ego defense and weaponized magnanimity. The Jews may not be Christ-like but our detractors undoubtedly are Pharisees. And as I said in my takedown of Grand Inquisitor E. Michael Jones, if the Jews are the enemies of all mankind, then mankind is not the enemy of itself, and believers can very cheaply be absolved of a great deal of introspection. A faith so cheaply bought is chaff for the wind—-its nihilistic heart reveals itself at length:

Of course I don’t blame anyone for pitying Arab children, even if they’d never pity Jewish ones—-because if it’s between my kid and someone else’s on a playground somewhere, I hope my child gives the other a pummeling, and I won’t be made to feel guilty about it. So I think it’s high time the Jews learned to embrace the world’s opprobrium. Get the fuck off social media and get over it. The whole late 20th-century Jewish discourse of “tolerance” and moral sniveling is sick and regressive. As Mencius Moldbug pointed out,

Animosity, when expressed from higher to lower, appears as contempt. Expressed from lower to higher, it comes out as resentment

You cannot evidence contempt for something you aren’t taking at face value. If someone insists that I am his superior—-my “influence,” my intellectualism, my persistence in thriving, in full view of him—-who am I to argue? A man who lives in resentment will avenge you, upon himself, without needing to be asked. And if I have the power to give offense merely by existing, why should I deprive myself of this power by attempting to placate someone who cannot be reasoned with in any case? Why should I lower myself to counter-signal him? It makes no sense. The human creature is titillated by being shown disdain; the PR dividends will pay themselves.

Every atrophied impulse that reactionaries fetishize is latent in Zionism, because the question of Palestine is conveniently beyond good and evil. It is not a question of whether there can be peace, or who has what rights. It is not a question of fine-wrought claims adjudication and who did what to whom. Peoples clash. They migrate and conquer, they form armies and flee from armies, are conquered and displaced in turn. It is the way of the world. Muslims will feel assured of their rights even if it desecrates justice from here to eternity, because they understand this all very well—that is why, after a millennium of brute dominance they turned around, once defeated, and took up the tactic of weeping about human rights. The Jews are no less guilty of this, the difference being, bizarrely, that we didn’t begin weeping until we’d started to win. Either way, the question of Palestine is essentially whether either people, Jews or Muslims, are to be the kind of sacrosanct exception to the ironclad laws of nature which modern progress keeps seeking to carve out; and because (no matter how many stars we may wish upon) the only possible answer is no, the real question reveals itself as: if I am not for myself, who will be for me?

In that context, being reviled with the kind of cheap and scurrilous rectitude that always accosts the Jews is an honor.

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 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 was a jackbooted anachronism in a liberalizing world. For a long time, I was a proponent of the corollary view that Israel is based and red-pilled; 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 of 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 altruism and 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. 

IMG_3346

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 must subject a foreign civilian population to permanent martial law. We see a state implicated in the destruction of whole 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.

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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. Some things never change, and a chutzpah that requires the moral license of past misfortunes is utterly repulsive. It would be better to finally decide between victimology and master morality, but after 2,000 years this is never going to happen.

As Christopher Hitchens once said, “It will never be safe or normal to be Jewish, and I hope it never is.” He never said why he hopes this, but here is why: because true nobility is inherent in how we bear misfortune, and castigating reality has nothing to do with it. That’s why the best Jews and Zionists were always the ones who lived parallel lives. The ones who “think of it always and speak of it never,” who “dress British and think yiddish.”

Perhaps that, little yidden, is my recommendation to you.

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.

 

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 that 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, Hashem’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?

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 pulling 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) 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

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.

Van Dammed

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If looks could kill

I’m not going to deny that there are some tough motherfuckers in the Israeli army. But once inside the institution itself, you’d have to look real hard to find them. Maybe this is the result of an elaborate ruse intended to inspire gross underestimation, though it probably has more to do with the fact most teenaged Israeli conscripts are pretty well cowed compared with American kids, who by the age of eighteen have (on average) done way more fucking, fighting, shoplifting, drug ingesting and all-around troublemaking than their middle eastern counterparts despite being (on average) a good fifty pounds heavier. Whereas stateside, stealing a car or beating a classmate to a bloody pulp can (in ever rarer instances, it is true) be a ticket to Fort Benning, in Israel, getting caught with a swiped laptop or a vile of ecstasy is taken as a sign not of potentially useful daring-do but of dangerous non-conformity, and those with juvenile rap-sheets are actually denied the option of military service. Ain’t that bass-friggin’-ackward?

On the day in 2006 when I officially became army property, a family friend drove me in his late-model Peugot and dropped me off outside the grounds of a 1967 Six-Day War battle site, Givat Hatakhmoshet (Ammunition Hill) that is now the location of a military museum. A group of fellow twenty-something male English-speakers and several Russians was milling around the entrance in the orbit of a middle-aged Tennessean and her distractingly pretty teenaged daughter, both of whom were handing out shiny new electric razors, tins of shoe polish, bags of Cheetos, candy bars and little squeeze-it juice boxes. These were hard-core Christian Zionists, permanent residents of Jerusalem and members of a far-right evangelical organization that doesn’t even expend its resources proselytizing, so eager are its members to hand out squeeze-it juice boxes to Israeli soldiers without the potential constraint of theological controversy. I guess they figure we can sort ourselves out when Jesus comes.

By and by, several female corporals, armed with clipboards, emerged from inside the gate and led us through a series of metal detectors and into a building where we were briefly interviewed one by one and each made to sign a sheaf of papers; then around back to a row of bleachers where we sat for an hour or so. The Russians, most of whom had recently graduated from high schools in Israel, talked amongst themselves in Russian. The Anglos, all recent arrivals in the nineteen-to-twenty seven year-old age range and mostly American but including a few Canadians and South Africans, introduced ourselves. Soon the corporals returned and led us into a movie theatre in the museum building, where we were treated to grainy footage of the 1967 Battle of Ammunition Hill. The gist of the piece’s narration (in Hebrew, Russian and English) seemed to be that it is good to die for one’s country. The whole angle of appeal seemed rather low-literacy, and I wondered, where was the more nuanced propaganda geared toward well-read bourgeois malcontents? I wasn’t sure I would be able to subsist in this army if my emotional needs weren’t going to be taken into more careful consideration.

Eventually we were herded onto a bus and taken to an army base where we spent the day in endless lines as we were processed: shorn, vaccinated, fingerprinted, made to sign more papers and issued dog-tags, military ID cards, boots, berets, class-A uniforms, C-bags and squeeze-it juice boxes.

Now, Israel is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, and although it often fails to behave like one when convenience trumps adherence, we were nonetheless issued little pocket-sized tagboard documents, to be kept on our persons at all times, enumerating the rights of POWs under those very agreements—–in French, for the apparently singular edification, amusement and rolling-paper needs of possible Hezbullah captors, who obviously are not a party to any covenant on the laws of war. Maybe the logic was that if we could get them laughing uncontrollably, this would buy us enough time to escape back over the Israeli border before they could slather the insides of our rectums with gasoline using soldering irons.

Every single new conscript on base that day was a recent arrival, either from a French or English speaking country, the former Soviet Union, the former Yugoslavia or South America. The vaccination line alone contained an incredible spectrum of backgrounds and experienecs. Among the former Soviets it ranged from Mikhael, a hale and hearty, ethnic Russian former Uzbek-army sergeant from Tashkent, who wore a massive gold crucifix burrowed neatly among his many chest hairs at the apex of his V-neck tee, to Valerie, a spindly, doe-eyed Ukranian waif who looked as though conscription was the only thing standing between him and continuing to be breast-fed at home. At the behest of Mikhail he was being kicked around by some rough looking and very nearly toothless fellows whose body odor suggested they’d never been fed out of anything but tin-cans. In outhouses. Next to toxic waste dumps.

Among the Americans the spectrum ranged from Josh, a four-foot-seven east-coast bus-station rat runaway from a Nassau County trailer park whose regular intravenous heroin consumption went unnoticed by army authorities until many months later—after he had passed the physically grueling tryout and a significant portion of the training for a top-tier infantry commando—to Daniel, a half-Jewish Nicaraguan jeweler’s kid from Miami, who recited sentimental rap lyrics in Cholo drawl.

In short order a Russian had dubbed me “Van Damme” in self-satisfied obeisance to my apparently strong resemblance to the Belgian movie star. Indeed, a summer’s worth of construction work in the Tel Aviv suburbs had rendered me lean and chiseled. The word soon spread like wildfire and before we even boarded the buses for training camp I had become the object of intense scrutiny, with French, Russian and assorted other Doubting Thomases making the pilgrimage from all over the base to crowd around me and behold with their own eyes the Van Damme lookalike in their very midst, whose legend they’d heard imparted in myriad languages. Given that the preponderance of bootleg DVDs on offer in the open-air markets of Eastern Europe are in fact movies starring Jean Claude Van Damme, I was in no position to challenge my fellow conscripts’ expertise.

By that evening we found ourselves, after a three-hour bus ride, at the training base of the Israeli Army Education Corps for a three-month basic training regimen designed to improve our Hebrew. As boot camps go, this one was pretty light, basically the same minimal program that non-combat soldiers endure, with an added six-hours per-day of classroom instruction in Hebrew-as-a-second-language, taught by female corporals (and several male ones, all of whom either sported orthodontic headgear or evinced an ostentatious level of femininity). Despite the low physical intensity and my impending admission to the training program of a hardcore combat unit, this Hebrew language program would be the toughest three months of my service, because unlike elsewhere in the Israeli army the age range was mid-to-late twenties; because not most, but a good proportion of the former Soviets had seen either homelessness, prison time (relatively few of those, I have to admit), military service or assorted other hard knocks in their countries of origin; and because the base itself was a converted former prison. In short, I found myself in an actual prison with the dregs of the former Soviet Union—toughened petty criminals, urchins and proverbial red-headed step children, some of them sub-literate even in their own languages, all (ostensibly) being supervised by nineteen-year old female corporals (one of whom we nicknamed “sexual chipmunk” for her small stature, ample posterior, overbite, apple cheeks and big, sultry eyes) and orthopedically challenged male ones, selected not for toughness but because at home they spoke one of their charges’ first languages.

Wild shit quickly transpired.

Several of the former Soviets had been involved back home, whether formally or by proximity and mere diffusion, with the post-communist extreme right. Upon arrival, a couple of these guys quickly took to cheekily decorating the bathroom stalls with swastikas. The dozen-strong French/Belgian contingent, all of them dweebs from dunderheaded, religious Zionist households, soon caught one of them red-handed, cornered him in the very stall they’d caught him defacing and kicked the crap out of him.

The poor guy had to be airlifted to the hospital, but before the bird touched down word had gotten around to the Russians, a dozen of whom decided not to stand idly by while the honor of a fellow Ruski was violated with such brazenness by an incautious bunch of effete Frogs, who quickly found themselves on the receiving end of their own poorly-considered tactics in a battle royale straight out of Mortal Combat.

The following morning, two dozen of our fellows were either in the brig or the hospital and the rest of us were subjected to a stern lecture by a pot-bellied major who admonished us to never permit abuse of the memory of the Holocaust, and to never lift a hand against a fellow Israeli soldier—which sounded like a catch-22 considering the chain of events that aroused the officer’s concern.

Saturday Night’s Alright for Fightin’

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Love

What can I say? I was a middle-class brat running away from a broken home. I dropped out of community college, sold my Gibson Explorer (I know, don’t remind me) and bought a plane ticket to Israel where I had hackneyed, weed-addled fantasies of becoming an Israeli army scout sniper. I promised myself I’d exhume my good liberal conscience after I had become a war-hero—a war-hero peace activist. What an all-around great guy I would be then!

First I volunteered on a kibbutz. For those who don’t know, the kibbutz used to be a rural agricultural collective where the residents tithed their earnings, dined side by side in a single cafeteria and sent their kids to be raised together in on-site communal dorms. There are over a hundred such communities in Israel, though nearly all have privatized by now, which means two things: that they’ve basically become bedroom HOAs organized around vestigial on-site enterprises owned by outside investors, situated on seriously prime real estate; and that the back-biting and nosiness one might expect in such a tight-knit community is exacerbated a thousand times over by the floodgates of income disparity being suddenly thrown open. So while kibbutzniks cling to their self-image as veritable founders of, and best damn folks in, the country, they actually hate one another, because throughout the years of collectivism some of them had been shrewd enough to keep money invested (or just stashed) off-site, while others left, only to return highly educated or married to more affluent people, leaving an underclass to languish as well-kept but resentful proletarians who give tours, rake leaves, man the cafeteria, stack palettes at the factory or supervise while Indochinese temp-visa coolies do any of those things.

Within a week of arriving I had befriended half a dozen male high school seniors, with whom I bonded over plastic bong hits of godawful filler-cut hashish first melted on a butter knife, then massaged into the emptied-out contents of a Winston Light. They suckered me into helping them with their English homework.

One of these kids, Shai, was slightly off. At first he was my go-to homie on account of his superb English, but I quickly noticed that when teased by his peers in even the most innocuous manner he would erupt into fantastically infuriated violence, throwing furniture, kicking holes in drywall and screaming at the top of his lungs. When this happened everyone would just clear out of his way, and I came to find out through the merciless little kibbutz grapevine (which, unbeknownst to me, was well aware of my drug use—I was considered a bad influence and mistaken by half the parents on the kibbutz for a big bad American drug dealer who preyed upon hapless teenagers) that Shai’s father was dead, his sister was in a mental institution and he himself was on psychotropic prescription medication of some sort. The army was well aware of all this, and come late July, Shai would be left behind while his schoolmates shipped out for the quintessential rite of Israeli adulthood that he had been raised to anticipate.

Later that summer, the kids had all been drafted and I was living and working in Tel Aviv, doing odd construction jobs and working on moving vans, when I got a call from one of the recently-minted soldiers, asking if I would like to replace him at his six-day a week landscaping job in the town nearest the kibbutz. He even offered to let me stay in his now-vacant dorm room. Hells yeah, I told him.

The job was ten rigorous hours a day. On weekends I would take the train north from Tel Aviv to an affluent foothills town above Haifa to luxuriate at my girlfriend’s parent’s house. Unfortunately, life around the kibbutz had gotten pretty dull without the boys around, but Shai had it much worse than I did, languishing, playing video games and half-heartedly tending to the humiliating odd jobs his neighbors pityingly offered him. In the evenings he and I would smoke weed and play video games. Every few nights he drove me to Tel Aviv and parked out front of the apartment building of a former co-worker of mine who moonlit as a drug dealer, while I went inside and took care of business.

In those days Shai was pretty down in the mouth all the time. Once he even took a swing at me when I tried to turn down his car stereo so I could take a phone call. It was around that time that I decided to stop procrastinating and go cold turkey on the reefer. I was expecting a letter from the draft board and wanted to be clean in case they piss-tested me at my physical. But when I informed Shai that I could no longer be of assistance in procuring his hash, he threatened me. Then he started ringing my phone off the hook. Finally, one evening as I was returning home from work, I turned on my phone to discover a string of Hebrew text messages threatening to kill me and warning me not to return to the kibbutz. Fuck him, I thought.

Late that night, while I was telephoning my mother from the little orange Bezeq payphone along the frontage road outside the kibbutz (payphones are orange in Israel), Shai’s beat-up old blue Subaru wagon came screeching up, kicking up a dust cloud as it swerved into the dirt along the shoulder. He burst out, slammed the door behind him, took four or five tense steps in my direction and yanked the phone away from me, slamming it down onto the receiver as he bitch slapped me with his ginormous opposite paw.

Did I mention that Shai is about six-foot-five? I’m six even. With those figures in mind I abruptly decided not to fuck around with formalities and just reached out, wrapping my fingers around the back of his skull, plunging both thumbs deep into his eye sockets. He writhed and roared, kicking and clawing as I held on for dear life. After a five to ten second infinity he broke loose and began flailing at me erratically, attempting fisticuffs. I took a boxing stance and commenced thumping, landing a good, direct four out of five. Deep in the throws of frothing rage, Shai’s attempts to straighten out and focus yielded limited success; he must’ve landed about three out of seventeen. But for as good as I gave, he just wouldn’t go down. Hell, you try fighting Frankenstein’s creation three days out of a years-long, everyday weed habit and see how well it goes for you. Again, considering the options, I decided it was best to quit fucking around, so I hightailed it.

Just then, Shai dove into the driver’s side door of his station wagon, hit the ignition and fucking floored it. I felt the whoosh of his front bumper sweeping my ass as I hopped into a bush. The crazy motherfucker tried to kill me.

He slammed the brakes and reemerged from the vehicle in hot pursuit, this time on foot. I fled once more, but because at this point I was thoroughly convinced that Shai would have no problem chasing me all the way to my door, beating it down and murdering me with a brick, I ran in circles. Before long I had worn him down to the point that I was about to start lapping him, which (considering the sheer length of his arms) would have been a major tactical blunder on my part. So I caught my breath as best I could and put up my dukes for the round two bell. This time I landed a hundred percent, each thumping blow as ineffective as the last. Giving up on throwing punches, Shai started walking me backward, lunging as he tried to get me in a bear-hug. Again, it seemed best to run, so we resumed our track meet. Once more I gained a good head start and with ten or twelve meters between us I noticed a big boulder along the side of the road, big enough to do damage but just small enough to hoist and aim. So I gambled on it, turning around to face my attempted murderer. As he closed the distance between us he lowered his head, charging as if to tackle me. I stole the opportunity and bent down to swoop up the rock, hoisting it with two arms up over my head. As Shai came within grabbing distance he reared his awful cranium. That’s when I slammed the rock down upon it. “Thud!” Then silence. Crumpled on the ground, Shai rolled over, gave a moan, then slowly pulled himself up to his knees and began bawling like an infant in choking, stentorian sobs. I froze, dismayed and remorseful (I’m not a fucking sociopath, after all).

Those waterworks were like sprinklers on a timer, for at that very moment an old man emerged from around a bend in the frontage road, out for a walk with a poop baggie and a Standard Poodle. And this is what he saw: the big bad American drug dealer, heaving but erect, looking down at the poor mentally ill kid who was clutching his wounded face and emitting a by-then shrill whimper. The old man came running over, crouched down next to Shai and gingerly helped him up.

Cops were called. We were detained. As we sat handcuffed in the back of the police jeep, we were asked if either of us wanted to press charges against the other. Shai was over it, but I could hear the old man a few feet away from the vehicle, telling one of the cops that he would press charges against me on Shai’s behalf, that I was a drug dealer, etc., etc. Recalling the threatening text messages that I still had in my phone, I decided I had better press a counter charge and avoid the risk of being the only one on the defensive. I informed the officers of my decision when Shai told me, in English, in a whisper, that if I pressed charges against him he would rat out my dealer, whose address he knew from our trips to Tel Aviv together. So I told the officers that, on second thought, I wanted to decline the opportunity to press charges.

Those cops must’ve been lazier than shit. Apparently not wanting to fill out the requisite paper work, they prevailed upon the old man not to press charges against me, either.

We were let out of the Jeep and our handcuffs removed. Shai was taken to the hospital where he was treated for a concussion. His right eye was swollen shut for the next six weeks, big bandage, stitches across his forehead, bruises all over the place. Given the size difference between contenders, the kibbutzniks developed the impression that I was some kind of Chuck Norris/Bruce Lee hybrid. Little did they know I remained scared shitless of ol’ Shai, swollen eye or none.

(originally published April 18th, 2012)