Sunday, March 29, 2015
Christian identification with Israel
I went to a hymn-singing service at Wynnum Presbyterian church yesterday. I am deeply moved by music and hymns are meant to be moving so I love to hear and sing the great old Protestant hymns.
A famous hymn that I enjoyed was "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah", sung to the marvellous "Cwm Rhondda" tune. It's been sung on many great occasions in England. Here it is being sung on a very great British occasion indeed. The last verse of it is below. At the link you can hear that verse sung by everybody who is anybody in Britain:
When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death and hell’s Destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee.
So the identification with the Children of Israel is deep into Christian culture. God's gift of the land of Irael to the Jews is equated with salvation. For Christians not to love Israel makes them very dubious Christians indeed
Secular people sometimes say that the Jews of today are totally different from the people who came up out of Egypt -- but to say that is to disbelieve all the promises that the Lord made to the Children of Israel. Only pseudo-Christians or unbelievers could say that. There are however a lot of pseuds around.
No matter what you do, modern liberals will tell you you’re wrong.
For decades, liberals complained that American society is segregated because rich, white people don’t want to live in ethnically mixed neighborhoods. Sometimes, liberals had a point.
From the 1930s to 1960s, as rich white people moved into New York City, urban planner Robert Moses got city bureaucrats to condemn and destroy busy black neighborhoods. The city called the neighborhoods “blighted” and moved many of the poor into rent-subsidized apartment complexes called “projects.” Many quickly became slums.
Now times have changed. Some rich, white people want to move into poorer, non-white neighborhoods because they like diversity (and cheaper real estate). So today the newcomers are attacked by liberals because they cause “gentrification.”
Movie director Spike Lee, who lives in Brooklyn, said gentrifiers behave almost like “Columbus and kill off the Native Americans.” Of course, the new gentrifiers don’t actually kill anyone, but because their arrival often leads to rising real estate values, critics complain that they drive poor people out of the neighborhood.
Two women in Brooklyn got so angry about it, they pulled out a gun, forced two white people out of an apartment and moved in (they were later arrested).
Columbia urban planning professor Stacey Sutton calls gentrification a “manifestation of inequality” that may “fundamentally alter the culture and character of the neighborhood” in ways that hurt the poor.
Yet her own school did something worse. Columbia colluded with politicians to use eminent domain law to take pieces of the Harlem neighborhood that surrounds Columbia. In court, the school argued that it had the right to take neighbors' land because it would “benefit West Harlem.”
Who owns the land is something that ought to be decided not by government but by free people making their own decisions about where they wish to live. When gentrification happens that way, spontaneously, price rises are often accompanied by drops in crime, new job opportunities and better connections to the rest of the culture. What the left calls “gentrification” is often called “improvement” by people who live there.
Another Columbia urban planning professor, Lance Freeman, found to his surprise that gentrification didn’t even mean significant displacement of the previous population. In his book “There Goes the ‘Hood,” Freeman writes, “poor residents and those without a college education were actually less likely to move if they resided in gentrifying neighborhoods.”
That’s because gentrification often means the neighborhood gets safer and more interesting. That’s something the old residents enjoy as much as new ones.
The Economist reports that a 2008 study of census data found “no evidence of displacement of low-income non-white households in gentrifying neighborhoods” and found that black incomes “soared” in gentrifying neighborhoods.
That doesn’t stop some people – often rich, white liberals – from complaining that gentrification destroys the quaintness of the neighborhood. They sound almost like the people who think that the developing world should never be sullied by modern technology. Actually, sometimes the same people make both arguments.
In San Francisco, some longtime residents got so angry about Google employees moving in that they surrounded Google employee shuttle buses, waving protest signs.
It’s a fight between hippies and tech geeks, with the hippies calling for regulations to prevent change. Such regulations have perverse effects, however. They lead to long waits for building permits and subsidies for housing that end up getting used by the well-connected and rich.
When regulation makes it harder to build or to alter old buildings, the effect is higher costs and reduced choices, which only makes things harder for the poor. Regulation saves some old things people like, but those people will never even know what new things they missed out on.
If nothing like gentrification ever happened in the world, we all still would be living in the same caves our ancestors lived in thousands of years ago. I say, let free people keep transforming the neighborhood.
Washington, DC, Comics: Dr. Ignoro vs. Bibi
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough recently spoke to J Street, a left-wing organization that fancies itself the headquarters of the tough-love-for-Israel crowd. J Street’s critics would phrase it a bit differently. In a charitable mood, they’d say J Street is all about loving Israel to death.
Regardless, J Street is the perfect think tank for the Obama administration to get its message out. Which is why McDonough was there to deliver harsh criticism of Israel and to signal that the U.S., under President Obama at least, will not be as reliable an ally to Israel as it once was, particularly at the United Nations.
The ostensible reason for the breakdown in relations is that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won re-election by saying things the White House didn’t like. Specifically, Netanyahu said that there would not be a two-state solution on his watch if he were re-elected. Netanyahu’s point was merely that given the current circumstances in the Middle East and the disastrous experience of handing Gaza to Hamas, it’s unlikely we’d see a two state solution anytime soon. But even if you were inclined to read something more nefarious into his remarks, Netanyahu has since modified – or “walked back,” as they say in diplomatic circles – his statement.
Too bad, says the White House. Bibi said what he said. “We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made,” McDonough told the crowd at J Street.
There’s nothing in the news accounts about whether the J Street audience burst into laughter or even if McDonough intended this as a laugh line. But intentional or not, it is hilarious.
For if there is one thing we know about Obama, it is this: He is very good at ignoring things he wants to ignore. If he were a superhero, he might be The Ignorator or perhaps Dr. Ignoro, complete with a cape, a giant “I” on his chest and his signature blinders blocking out all the inconvenient bits of life.
While the White House claims that it cannot pretend Netanyahu didn’t make those remarks, it has no problem playing make-believe with comments from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (currently serving out the 10th year of his four-year term), who has repeatedly said the Palestinians will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Abbas, who literally has a Ph.D. in Holocaust denial, is what counts as a Palestinian moderate. Nonetheless, he formed a unity government with Hamas, the terrorist group openly determined to slaughter the Israelis.
But such facts are no match for Obama’s limitless powers to pretend away annoying details. Why, just last week, Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, responded to chants of “Death to America” by saying, “Of course, yes, death to America.” The White House is pretending he didn’t make such comments. And when the administration gets a deal with the Iranians on their nuclear program, the president will take it to the U.N., not the Senate, because ignoring Congress – and the Constitution – is simply what he does on days that end with “y.”
Barely six months ago, Obama cited Yemen as a great example of how successful his counterterrorism approach is. This week, as Yemen spiraled toward civil war and American military forces fled, Obama went golfing, ignoring the whole mess. (For Dr. Ignoro, the golf course is like his Batcave or Fortress of Solitude).
When his own advisers, military and civilian, warned Obama that fully bugging out of Iraq would be calamitous, leaving a vacuum for terrorists and Iranian meddling, the president ignored the advice and pretended everything was fine.
When a reporter for The New Yorker asked him about the Islamic State gobbling up Iraq, Obama explained why they should be ignored: They’re just a “jayvee team,” he said.
Obama is at his best when ignoring his own comments. His “red lines” are drawn in disappearing ink as far as he’s concerned. Twenty-two times Obama said he didn’t have the authority to unilaterally legalize immigrants. He did it anyway. You can keep your doctor and your insurance, he said – before he stopped saying it.
So the notion this White House can’t pretend Netanyahu didn’t say what he said is simply hilarious, particularly given that what Netanyahu has said isn’t what the White House is pretending to hear.
Of course, no informed person believes the White House is angry about how Netanyahu won re-election. It’s angry that he was re-elected at all (unsurprising, given that Obama’s political allies worked to oust him). Obama detests Netanyahu and is letting that animosity poison a strategic alliance. He is making that choice while pretending he isn’t. That’s what he does
Israel’s Leftist Losers
For thousands of years the Jews dreamed of reclaiming their country. The left had another dream.
It dreamed of a country run by bureaucrats that worked only three days a week. It dreamed of unions running monopolies that worked whenever they liked and charged whatever they wanted. It dreamed of children raised on collective farms without parents and of government as a Socialist café debate.
Most of all it dreamed of a country without conservatives. It still hasn't gotten that wish.
Netanyahu's victory hit hardest in Tel Aviv where, as Haaretz, the paper of the left, reports, "Leftist, secular Tel Aviv went to sleep last night cautiously optimistic only to wake up this morning in a state of utter and absolute devastation."
Tel Aviv is ground zero for any Iranian nuclear attack. Its population density makes it an obvious target and Iran threatened it just last month. A nuclear strike on Tel Aviv would not only kill a lot of Israelis, it would also wipe out the country's left.
Haifa and Tel Aviv are the only major cities in Israel that the left won in this election. And it was a close thing in traditionally "Red Haifa" whose union dockworkers these days are Middle Eastern Jews who vote right. The left took a quarter of the vote in Haifa to a fifth for Netanyahu's conservative Likud party.
In Tel Aviv however, the Labor coalition and Meretz, the two major leftist parties, took nearly half of the vote. Amos Oz's daughter told Haaretz that everyone in the left had been upbeat because everyone they knew was voting for the left. Now the leftist elite is once again forced to come to terms with the tragedy that much of the country doesn't want to hand over land to terrorists, live on a communal farm or turn over the country to Marc Rich's lawyer and his American backers who make Slim-Fast and KIND bars.
There are however days when they think Israel might be better off without certain parts of Tel Aviv.
The left doesn't want a country. It wants a Berkeley food co-op. It wants a city with some ugly modernist architecture. It wants a campus with courses on media studies and gender in geography. It wants an arcade where unwashed lefties can tunelessly strum John Lennon songs on their vintage guitars. It wants cafes with Russian Futurist prints on the walls. It wants to be about excited about political change. Its only use for Israel was as a utopian theme park.
Its allegiance was not to Jewish history or democracy, but to its crackpot leftist fantasies. Now its fantasies are dead and it wants to kill Israel.
The left spitefully alienated every immigrant group from Holocaust survivors to Middle Eastern Jews to Russian Jews. It also had slurs for each of them. The Holocaust survivors were ‘Sabon' (soap) and the Middle Eastern Jewish refugees were ‘Chakhchakhim'. That particular slur at an election rally cost Peres and Labor the 1981 election. Another slur at an election rally now hurt the left and boosted Netanyahu. But if you ask the left why it lost, it will blame Israeli racism.
The Israeli left slurred Middle Eastern Jews as "primitives" and used them as cheap labor to maintain the Kibbutz collectivist lifestyle until they stood up for themselves and the experiment in ‘equality' ended. It slurred Russian immigrants as "prostitutes", Settlers in '67 Israel as "bloodsuckers" and Ultra-Orthodox as "parasites".
Netanyahu's likely coalition will lean heavily on parties that draw their support from Middle Eastern Jews, Settlers, Russian Jews and the Ultra-Orthodox. These groups are also known as the majority of the country. That's why the left lost. Again.
The left wants its clubhouse back and it can't get it back. Demographics and immigration turned the ideal Israeli leftist, a wealthy secular Ashkenazi urbanite from an important family, into a minority. The only reason the left still exists is because its phantom Apartheid State of media outlets, courts and academics still maintains a death grip on the system.
The other reason that the Israeli left exists is that its malicious oppression of new immigrants splintered them into warring groups, much as the Democratic Party's Tammany Hall did in the United States. The left couldn't own them, but it did set them against each other in order to maintain a dysfunctional political system in which the strongest form of central authority comes from an unelected judiciary.
The left hasn't managed to conquer Israel, but it has succeeded in dividing it. Every new group of immigrants has been indoctrinated, not with allegiance to the left (that was a lost cause early on) but with resentment of each other. The Russian Jews are told that they live badly because of the Ultra-Orthodox Jews. The Middle Eastern Jews are told that they live badly because of the Russian Jews. The Ultra-Orthodox are told that they live badly because of the Settlers. There's plenty of overlap between these groups, but the tactic still works well enough for the left to stay in the game.
The real Apartheid State in Israel is this Deep State of the left. It's the one you see on display when former heads of the Mossad and Shabak denounce Israel and Netanyahu. It's in the phony media polls and exit polls that were skewed in favor of the left. It's in the candidacy of a cretin like Herzog with his high voice and his old guard last name promising to do whatever Obama and the left tell him to do. The left tried to sell Herzog, the errand boy for international leftist criminals like Marc Rich and Octav Botnar, as the future of Israel. The public never bought it.
The left has no leadership. It has nothing to offer. It has no reason to exist except malice and spite.
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Posted by JR at 1:36 AM