Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Laurel Street Fair

Michael L.

Anyone who follows my writings knows that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In fact, I lived in a variety of apartments in San Francisco with Laurie throughout the late 1990s and 00s before we purchased a home in the Laurel District of Oakland.  I have lived in North Beach, two separate residences in the Richmond District, and the Excelsior in SF.  Now we own a place in the Oakland foothills and I love our neighborhood, in part because I love good food.

I am actually kind-of a skinny guy.  I do not really eat that much, but I used to cook for a living and know a thing or two about deliciousness.  The worst food on the planet comes from people with money and the best food comes from the poor.  Nobody on this planet eats worse than the ignorant rich.

I live on the cusp of rich people and poor people.  If I look east, toward the Oakland hills, I see the homes of the wealthy.  If I look west, toward downtown, I see ghetto between here and there.

Downtown, itself, is actually doing pretty well and Oakland, in general, while always struggling, is seeing some very interesting development in various spots around the city and Laurie and I are even considering buying into Oakland's waterfront area just opposite the cute island town of Alameda, which, itself, is just east across the Bay from San Francisco.

I am not jumping into anything, but we shall see.  One thing is certain, more and more white, middle-class, upward-mobile yupsters are buying housing in the East Bay because San Francisco is just too damn expensive.  The median home price there is now upwards of one million dollars and it is turning San Francisco into a ginger-bread town.  I love the place but, year upon year, it is becoming more a tourist destination than a place for people to live... but this has been going on for a long time.

In any case, come next month we are having the Laurel Street Fair, which actually takes place on MacArthur Boulevard but who is counting?

This is a little video concerning the upcoming event that one of my neighbors put together and it says a lot about the best of human diversity.

People from a huge variety of backgrounds can, in fact, live in harmony.  We have not seen a whole lot of JayinPhiladelphia recently, but I know for certain that he would agree with that sentiment.



This is diversity in its positive aspect.

Not only do I get to see these beautiful women dance, but I am within a stone's throw of great Chinese good, great Soul good, great Indian good, great Japanese good, and a new joint that just opened up down the road called Sequoia that is bringing the regular American diner to the next level.

This, obviously, is not my usual kind of post.  I am not bitching about the heinous Obama administration and its loathsome foreign policy in the Middle East and I am not fretting over what I have to say that it might be more acceptable to university professors or the editors of news.

But sometimes it is nice to look out your window and know where you are.

{This piece is for Jay.}

Go Giants!

Go A's!

We live where we are and, I have to tell you, I am exceedingly happy to live where I do.

Who is an extremist?

Sar Shalom

One of the common epithets hurled at those exercising Jewish rights to visit the Temple Mount is that of "extremist." For the Arabs to use that language is understandable, however, even the UN has taken to doing so. Without going too deep into the UN's designation of Jews visiting their own holy sites as "extremists," it is worth reflecting on the history of making such designations.

In this country there is a history of calling anyone promoting unpopular rights an "extremist." One notable example is Martin Luther King Jr., who wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, "At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergyman would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist."

What the example of King shows is that branding someone an "extremist" does not necessarily mean anything about the target of the branding. Rather, it can simply mean that the person doing the branding, due to extreme bigotry, viscerally opposes the target's goals. In the meantime, we should start to compare those who, like the UN Special Coordinator, call Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount "extremists" to the bigots who labelled King an "extremist."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ding Dong Kuntar Is Dead!

Doodad

According to reports, the IDF has killed baby killer Samir Kuntar. Woo hoo! One down.

{Editor's note - what Doodad is referring to here is the fact that the IDF targeted and struck a vehicle in the Golan Heights containing Hezbollah fighters and tacticians, along with an individual, Samir Kuntar, who became a hero within Hezbollah because  killed a Jewish father and his four your old daughter by smashing her head in with the butt of a rifle.}



Monday, July 27, 2015

A Hunchbacked Warthog Makes Growling Sounds at Israel

Michael L.

Adiv Sterman, writing in the Times of Israel, tells us:
warthogAs part of the Obama administration’s current campaign to push the Iranian deal signed July 14 in Vienna, Kerry told an audience at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York on Friday that should Congress vote against the agreement, “our friends in Israel could actually wind up being more isolated, and more blamed.”

The statement was promptly rejected by the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, now a member of the centrist Kulanu party.

“If American legislators reject the nuclear deal, they will do so exclusively on the basis of US interests. The threat of the secretary of state who, in the past, warned that Israel was in danger of becoming an apartheid state, cannot deter us from fulfilling our national duty to oppose this dangerous deal,” Oren said in a statement.
 "our friends in Israel"?

John Kerry has friends in Israel?  This is rather difficult to imagine, actually, but I suppose that there must be one or two people in Israel who do not actively despise Barack Obama and John Kerry.

This administration is about as popular as a hunchbacked warthog with herpes in Israel... and that goes at least as much for the Arabs as the Jews, because both understand that in allowing Iranian nuclear weaponry it is enabling the potential holocaust of both people.  It must also be remembered that Sunnis and Shias distrust one another almost as much as they distrust and despise Jews.

This is not the first time, by the way, that Kerry has made these kinds of veiled threats and the "isolation" of Israel is an ongoing theme with the Obama administration.  Israel is constantly admonished by the U.S. administration in terms that I interpret as follows:
You guys better do as you are told or something bad could happen.   
We are your best friends and we would not want to see you get hurt, so you better listen up.
You will allow the murderers of Jews out of Israeli prisons.   
Your leadership will apologize before the international community to those who seek you harm by supporting efforts to break the blockade of Gaza and, thus, allow-in weaponry against you.
You will not let your people build housing for themselves on the parts of your land where we disapprove of your presence.   
We will arm your Iranian enemies with the world's most dangerous weapons and you will be quiet.   
We will also flood the Iranian economy with one hundred and fifty billion dollars which they can use to bolster genocidally anti-Semitic organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, but you will remain quiet.   
When Arabs shoot rockets at your people you will sustain the suffering of your children without response because to do otherwise would constitute an act of aggression and a war crime.
One of the memorable catch-phrases of the Obama administration is this notion of "leading from behind."  This is a very real thing and Obama has perfected it in terms of Israel.  In order to lead "from behind" one needs both the authority of position and the enthusiasm of those one is behind leading.  Obama knows very well that both the EU and the UN are hungry for more sanctions and harassment of the lone, sole Jewish state.  All Obama needs to do is remark about how displeased he is with the Jews Israelis in order to send a message throughout Europe that it is open season and to give the BDS movement a shot in the arm.

At the same time, however - given Israel's economic, technical, and diplomatic relationships all around the world - Kerry's forebodings of "isolation" seem more like an attempt to play on Jewish fears more than anything else.  The last thing that Israel is, or is likely to be going forward, is "isolated."  The Jewish people in the Middle East are a people under siege, that is certainly true..  European Jewry is under siege, as well, because of the deterioration of Enlightenment values throughout that continent.

American, Canadian, and Australian Jews are doing nicely because of the strength of secular democracy within those countries.  Nonetheless, the history of the Jewish people, as a whole, is that of a people under siege and, therefore, it is not difficult for powerful people, such as those from the Obama administration, to manipulate Jewish fears, which is precisely what they are doing.

Whenever the Obama administration starts making noises about Israeli "isolation" or the likelihood of Israel becoming a heinous "apartheid" state unless it does what it is told, these are veiled threats exploiting historically-based Jewish fears.  It is a way for non-Jews with an agenda, like John Kerry, to use Jewish apprehensions, given our history, as a weapon against us.  When people like Kerry claim that Israel is becoming, or already is, an "apartheid state" what they are saying is that like apartheid South Africa, it must be dismantled in favor of something else.  In this case the "something else" is a 23rd Arab-Muslim Koranically-based dictatorship.

A direct threat, obviously, was the suggestion that, given Israel's refusal to sometimes do as told, the Obama administration may very well turn upon it at the United Nations.

As CNN reported after Netanyahu's recent victory at the polls:
Washington (CNN) The Obama administration's frustration with Benjamin Netanyahu is turning into outright hostility after the Israeli prime minister's commanding victory this week.

Administration officials greeted his win with harsh words Wednesday and suggestions that the U.S. might scale back its support for Israel at the United Nations, a significant reversal in policy after years of vetoing resolutions damaging to Jerusalem.

A senior administration official said that Netanyahu's sharp tacks to the right before Tuesday's vote -- in which he ruled out the creation of a Palestinian state, a pillar of U.S. policy in the Middle East -- "raise very significant substantive concerns" for the White House, and that "we have to reassess our options going forward."
There is no question, in my mind, at least, that the Obama administration is the most hostile American administration toward the Jewish State of Israel in the history of the United States.  The reason that the Obama administration is hostile to Israel is not out of some form of direct anti-Semitism, but through the influence of post-colonial theory in the academe, which represents the very basis of Obama's political thinking.

Post-colonial theory, as presented by anti-Israel / anti-Western / anti-American professors like Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, and Rashid Khalidi, suggests that the world is divided between white, western imperialists and their non-European victims "of color" and that Israel is a white, European transplant onto the indigenous soil of another people.

Thus Israel - and ultimately thereby the Jews - must be opposed and undermined.

Yet, somehow, we are supposed to believe that this is actually in the best interest of the Jewish people.

It isn't.

Finally, John Kerry would honestly have us believe that if the U.S. Congress rejects the Iran deal, this is the fault of the Jews in Israel or will be considered as such?

This is profoundly disturbing and reminiscent of European thinking in the early-middle part of the twentieth-century.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Jim Crow for Jews and the Artificial Construction of Palestinian National Identity

Michael L.

{Cross-posted at Jews Down Under and the Elder of Ziyon.}

flags 1The western-left today thinks that the Jews are oppressive to Muslims in the Middle East.  They believe that Jewish Israelis are brutalizing and ethnically-cleansing the innocent "indigenous" population.

In previous decades the so-called "Palestinian narrative" has taken hold of the western imagination.  Within that narrative, vicious and militaristic Jews marched out of Europe and violently displaced the native population in the early-middle of the twentieth-century.  Jews pushed "Palestinians" out of their native land where, as "Palestinians," they had been living for many thousand of years.  Mahmoud Abbas even laughably claimed that the "Palestinians" have a 9,000 year history on that land.  He said, "Oh, Netanyahu, you are incidental in history; we are the people of history. We are the owners of history."

If the "Palestinians" are the "owners of history" it must be a secret history that they keep entirely to themselves.  I have never heard of a people with a secret history before!  The "Palestinians" have lived on that land for 9,000 years and, yet, somehow, history seems to have passed them by.  It is a profound mystery.  There are no records of a "Palestinian" state on that land.  There are no records of the great "Palestinian" artists or leaders or scientists that thrived in the Land of Palestine for all those thousands of years.  Yet the foundation of Arab and western-left hostility toward the Jewish Israelis is the idea that they violently displaced the native population.  Jews, we are to understand, are illegally "Occupying" - with the Big O - Judea, a land that belongs to Palestinian-Arabs, not Jews.

There is always a charge against the Jews among westerners in every generation.

Every generation they tell us just why Jewish kids deserve a good beating.  In previous generations, of course, we were either guilty of killing Jesus or of giving the world Jesus and are, therefore, responsible for the failings of Christianity.  We were sometimes thought of as the heinous agents of greedy capitalism or the heinous agents of totalitarian socialism.  And, needless to say, in the early part of the twentieth-century, we were the wrong "race."  We were considered inherently, essentially, bad people.

In this generation, however, the charge is that we are mean to Arabs.

There are around six million Jews in Israel and something between three hundred and four hundred million Arab-Muslims surrounding them in the Middle East.  For reasons having to do with theocratic bigotry, Muslims in that part of the world traditionally despise the Jews and often teach their children to throw stones at us.  Throwing stones at Jews in Israel is not a manifestation, as is often claimed, of righteous push-back against the "Occupation," but is a time-honored tradition within Arab culture, grounded in the rankest form of bigotry and persecution of the despised "other."

It was Caliph Omar Abd al-Azziz, who reigned between 717 and 720 CE, who codified the rules of dhimmi status, sometimes referred to as the Pact of Omar or Covenant of Omar, but which I like to think of as Jim Crow for Jews.  The first and foremost rule was the paying of jizya tax and acceptance of the conditions of ahl al-dhimma.  In Martin Gilbert's In Ishmael's House, we read:
There could be no building of new synagogues or churches.  Dhimmis could not ride horses, but only donkeys; they could not use saddles, but only ride sidesaddle.  Further, they could not employ a Muslim.  Jews and Christians alike had to wear special hats, cloaks and shoes to mark them out from Muslims.  They were even obliged to carry signs on their clothing or to wear types and colors of clothing that would indicate they were not Muslims, while at the same time avoid clothing that had any association with Mohammed and Islam.  Most notably, green clothing was forbidden...

Other aspects of dhimmi existence were that Jews - and also Christians - were not to be given Muslim names, were not to prevent anyone from converting to Islam, and were not to be allowed tombs that were higher than those of Muslims.  Men could enter public bathhouses only when they wore a special sign around their neck distinguishing them from Muslims, while women could not bathe with Muslim women and had to use separate bathhouses instead.  Sexual relations with a Muslim woman were forbidden, as was cursing the Prophet in public - an offense punishable by death.

Under dhimmi rules as they evolved, neither Jews nor Christians could carry guns, build new places of worship or repair old ones without permission,or build any place of worship that was higher than a mosque.  A non-Muslim could not inherit anything from a Muslim.  A non-Muslim man could not marry a Muslim woman, although a Muslim man could marry a Christian or a Jewish woman. 
Martin Gilbert, In Ishmael's House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands  (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2010) 32 - 33.
The unacknowledged foundation of the conflict is Arab-Muslim Koranically-based bigotry against Jews... we children of orangutans and swine.  Were it not for Islam, there would be no conflict.  Or, another way of putting it is that if Israel was not a Jewish state, but yet another Muslim state, there would be no conflict based on a supposed need for a "two-state solution."  In fact, not only would there be no conflict, there would not even be any "Palestinians."  The reason for this is because the designation "Palestinian" only came into being so that Arab-Muslims could make their hysterical claims upon historically Jewish land.  The great majority of local Arabs did not consider themselves "Palestinian" until the latter third of the twentieth-century.  And some even remain skeptical concerning it to this day.

"Palestinian" does not represent an ethnicity any more than "Saharan" represents an ethnicity or "Californian" represents an ethnicity.  If we must use outdated terms, then anyone who lives in Israel - a part of the former British Mandate of Palestine - must be considered a "Palestinian."  There are Muslim Palestinians and Jewish Palestinians and Christian Palestinians and Rosicrucian Palestinians and Rastafarian Palestinians and Atheist Palestinians.  To claim that only Muslims and Christians can be "Palestinian" would be something akin to claiming that only Rastafarians and Rosicrucians can be "Californians."   As someone who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, it sometimes seems as if California is, in fact, run by Rastafarians and Rosicrucians, but no one would ever suggest that only some people can be Californian.

Furthermore, it must be understood that "Palestinian," as an ethnic designation, was artificially constructed or contrived.  It did not emerge, as other ethnicities have, organically, but was primarily a creation of Yassir Arafat and the Soviets.  Even Rashid Khalidi in Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness only finds the first quiet notions of the idea emerging around the turn into the twentieth-century, but everyone who understands the history of the conflict knows that most "Palestinians" only came to see themselves as "Palestinian" in the 1960s with the creation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

Many would suggest that, contrived or not, "Palestinian" as an ethnic or national designation now exists and that as a matter of general human decency, if not liberal ideology, it must be acknowledged.  And, of course, the world has acknowledged the "Palestinians" as a distinct people with a history and with rights.  What I fail to understand, however, is just why it is that Jewish people are under any moral or ethical obligation to acknowledge a people who only recently came into existence as a people for the purpose of undermining, and eventually destroying, Jewish national autonomy?

Jews may acknowledge the "Palestinians" or we may not.  Jews may negotiate with "Palestinians" or we may not.  It may even be in Israel's best interest to both acknowledge and negotiate with "Palestinians" or, maybe not.  But just why in this world are we under any sort of ethical obligation to acknowledge a people who only emerged as a people for the sole purpose of destroying Jewish freedom on our own land?

I suppose that I am trying to slam the barn door only after the horses have escaped, but I am one of those who has come to the conclusion that the very biggest mistake that Israel ever made was in acknowledging a distinct "Palestinian" people and, therefore, agreeing to negotiate with their alleged representatives, the PLO terrorist organization.  Were it up to me Israel would only agree to negotiations with legitimate state actors.  Israel may legitimately negotiate with Iran, but it certainly should not negotiate with the Islamic State (IS), which Barack Obama deceptively refers to as ISIL in order to veil the Islamic nature of the group.  And just as Israel should not negotiate with the Islamic State, so it should not negotiate with either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority.

Neither represent legitimate state actors and both are entirely riddled with genocidal anti-Semitism.

As we are seeing with the Iranian bomb situation, Israel can no longer afford to allow itself to be pushed around.  People respect those who respect themselves and letting the murderers of Israelis out of Israeli prisons, as a concession to Mahmoud Abbas and Barack Obama, does not suggest self-respect, but its opposite.  The only way for Jews to have self-respect, however, is to see through the "Palestinian narrative" for the tissue of lies that it represents.  Otherwise both Israeli Jews and diaspora Jews must, by necessity, see themselves as complicit in a terrible crime against the innocent indigenous population.

I recommend against it and history backs us up.