Thursday, January 11, 2018

Decentralization and Diversity

Thinking about Judaism, in terms of centrality it is the polar opposite of Roman Catholicism.

Catholicism is centralized.  The Pope makes the rules, defining what Catholicism is, and who Catholics are.  Roman Catholicism was organized by the Roman Emperor Constantine, and it became the official religion of the Roman Empire, and by extension much of Europe.  Centralization serves the needs of empire.

Judaism has no such central human authority.  There is the Torah, of course, but it does not actually interpret itself, or execute it's own will.  Rabbis interpret the Torah, and there is no central authority of Rabbis.  Instead, there was the original Rabbi, who authorized his disciples, and they authorized their disciples, and so on.

So, when we get to the present, there is a hugh diversity of opinion among Rabbis.  Some are still anti-Zionist, as most were in the beginning of the 20th century.  Others, of course, are Zionist. And that divergence even exists among the well known groups, Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox, which are exceedingly different.

This has the strength of adaptability, and is the perfect approach for a Diaspora, where people are living far aflung, and where there is not an overriding political or "national" objective.

Once there is a common political or national objective, organization, hierarchy, and centralization become useful, and ultimately, demanded.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a classic article, "The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted," explaining why networks are great at disseminating information, and adapting, but not well suited to political organization or revolution--for those purposes hierarchies are better.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Terror Behind the Creation of Israel

Documented in one of the best posts at Mondoweiss ever, followed by the one of the best comments sections.

The original post is by Thomas Suarez, author of the recent book State of Terror, which is the best book on the Zionist terror from the beginning of Zionism up to the Nabka.  The book is endorsed by the likes of Ilan Pappe, himself the best historian of the Nabka.  Suarez spent many years studying archival documents, some not seen in ages, to produce this book.

The comments section is far longer than the original post, and equally interesting.

One of the commenters sounds a bit like a friend of mine who moved to Israel recently.  Their points are rebutted in a mostly excellent part of the comments, bit by bit.  Very educational.

Then within the comments are many excerpted articles, with the full history of Jerusalem, as best known to objective historians.  Everyone knows it wasn't founded by Jews in 2700 BCE.  David and Solomon are conventionally said to appear 1000 BCE and 900 BCE, however the archeological evidence is that the city was empty then, there is no evidence of palaces or a great civilization.  Then the region is conquered by one empire after another.  But perhaps only under actual Jewish rule for less than the last 200 years BCE.  Afterwards, one empire after another.  In it's 3700 year history, less than 200 years (the Hasemite rule) are known to be under Jewish rule, and at most not much more than that.  (Not that this matters, but it certainly isn't the basis of an objective immortal claim.  Most people have ancestors from many parts of the world...does that give the the right to most people to displace the people who are in any of those places now and create a new exclusive sovereignty for the co-religionists who were dominant in an ancient slice of time in the past?)

The "Second" Temple existed independent of the various imperial rulers, however, so so for about half a millenium, out of the entire 3700 year history prior to modern Israel.  Because...Judaism is a religion.

The Dome of the Rock was the first major Muslim architecture, and has been there almost 1400 years.

Evidence of a First Temple is lacking.

After the revolt of Bar Kochbar, only a small number of leading Jews went into diaspora.  The majority in the levant remained, mostly as farmers, many converting later to Christianity and then Islam.  I said this before from common sense, it is confirmed here.   (Do the Jews have rights to displace the former sovereigns because those poor farmers mostly didn't stick with the religion? What about others that moved in and out, as in fact the Jewish ancestors must have done at some time, and/or may have been there for far longer? )

[This history of Palestine, whose name dates back to the Greeks but was populated for millenia.  The peoples, cultures, religions and empires that have been in and out are astounding.  At the time of Jesus, Greek culture was dominant.  The known Jewish kingdom, the Hasemites, was a mountain group--around Jerusalem--who allied with many other groups to create The Holy Land, a kingdom which lasted less than 200 years, yet it figures big in Western imaginations.]

But this is not to say, even during Jewish rule, that Jews were the only ones in the sourthern levant.  They never were.  I also said this before.  Although the biblical story has Jews as invaders of the Levant (from Abraham's birthplace, Iraq), the best historical evidence is that they were a sect of the regional population of Caananites whose descendants also include modern Palestinians an many other groups.  There is no evidence that any "slaves" escaped from Egypt (and, fwiw, the Pyramids were not built by slaves) or conquered a neighboring territory in 1200 BCE or whatever.  That's all mythology.

The first anyone else knows of Jews is from captivity and that's also when the original Torah was written.  Many including me believe that the Ancient Jewish story (with David, Solomon, and so on) was invented to give the re-settlers a better chance of succeeding.  The returned to their home territory within the new empire created by Cyrus who had conquered Babylon, and under his authority.  Though this is often described as motivated by Cyrus' enlightenment, there may also been considerable geopolitical advantage to him to have a client state near his border with Egypt.  Curiously he and Truman may have had similar motivations in establishing a "Jewish" state, Truman being President who broke ranks with the ongoing UN process  (it was intended that neither Israel nor Palestine in the Resolution 181 plan unilaterally declare independence--in fact it had been forbidden--but be part of a dual nation mandatory system--not to say that 181 had any moral or ethical force either especially as it gave the majority of the territory to settlers rather than the idigenous who, by rights, should have had it all) and recognized Israel's unilateral declaration of independence.

The southern levant has often been a frontier between empires because of it's geography (the connection between 3 continents) and human history.  It seems that Jews--people who claim ancestry from the region but were found elsewhere at various times--have been re-settled twice to run or at least be part of a client state in this region for the major imperial power of the time, first by Cyrus, second by the UK and US.  The Torah casts the Egyptians in a rather unfavorable light--all the better for the Jewish re-settlers not to be co-opted by their new neighbors and remain loyal to the more distant Cyrus.

Given it's central connecting location and proximity to the birthplace of humanity, it's likely that nearly all people have some ancestry from the southern levant.

As Suarez says, however, none of the ancient history really matters now.  But I think clearing away the mythology helps, especially against the backdrop where some are saying "Jews were building Jerusalem for 3700 years."  It would be much more true to say the Palestinians were building Jerusalem for 3700 years.

Correction to earlier post: the Romans used the (latinized) name Palestine for the region from their first conquest in 6CE, not later after the sacking of Jerusalem or the revolt of Bar Kochbar.  It had been used by the Greeks, who had conquered in 330 BCE.

The Christian Crusaders kicked out Jews and Muslims.  When the Muslims ultimately regained control, they let the Jews back in.  So for most of the 2nd Millenium, up until the dawn of Zionism, Jews lived in peace under Islamic rulers in the Levant, sometimes going there as a safe haven from Christians and others.

Judaism is just like all other religions in being a mind control system to create useful idiots.

But true Judaism doesn't hold a candle to Zionism in that regards.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Not My Hero

Jon Schwarz has an excellent critique of The Post at one of my favorite sites, The Intercept.

I wrote this comment about the Post and legendary publisher Katherine Graham.

The Post has always been at social center of plutocracy. Owner Edward McLean bought the Hope diamond for his wife, who wore it socially. Cursed or not, he died in a sanitarium, and the Post was purchased by the boy financial wizard of his time, Eugene Meyer, who had made $15 million dollars before the age of 40 in 1915. He used the pages of the Post to rail against the New Deal. Katherine Graham is his daughter. Eugene gifted the paper mostly to her husband, but also partly to her.
Certainly the paper represents the plutocratic class. Does it also represent the Deep State, CIA, and so on? It has long been alleged, and nothing in the facts would dissuade one from that belief. It's also been called the Pentagon Post.
By 1965 the Vietnam War was obsolete, the ultimate domino, Indonesia, having been taken by a client dictator and purged of adversaries. Johnson Advisors including McNamara were decrying pointlessness. Noam Chomsky has written the capitalist class was turning anti-war by the last years of the 1960's. But the war was a political inconvenience for some people, and opportunity for others. I narrowly escaped the draft years, but somehow never learned for decades that Nixon officially ended the war just before the 1972 election, the ultimate October Surprise. So it had finally served its purpose.
Anyway, printing the Pentagon Papers was gutsy and admirably, but hardly an act of treason either to the capitalist class or the national security class of the day.
Nixon, though he did oversee the undoing of Allende, was not proving the domestic neoliberal that the capitalist class really wanted, and finally got with Reagon, after Carter having done some capable preparatory work. Chomsky has called Nixon the last New Deal President, and Nixon's last unrealized proposal was national healthcare reform based on employer mandates. THAT is what was undone by exposing the Watergate Burglary.

*** end of comment posted.

The Book on Katherine Graham was originally written in the 1970's, entitled Katherine the Great.  It exposes much of the way the government used the paper as a propaganda mouthpiece for the government.  Katherine Graham herself suppressed the mainstream publication of the book.

I found this great background information site looking for info on Philip Graham and the CIA. all the comments!  Mr Graham had a stellar rise, as editor of Harvard Law Review, clerk to Felix Frankfurter, and assistant to William O Donovan, the colorful "Oh So Social" director of the OSS.  Then he marries into the Washington Post by marrying Katherine Meyer, and turns it into the nation's most efficient conduit for pumping out pro-cold-war disinformation cooked up at CIA under Project Mockingbird.

But by the late 1950's, Philip's father-in-law begins to have doubts about the arrangement.  Philip and Katherine are living separately, often forcing friends to take sides.  Philip has a new mistress, and tries to get his will re-written 3 times to make her inheirit the Post.  Ultimately, at a press convention in the spring of 1963, he launches a tirade about government manipulation of the media.  He names a name.  His wife rushes to the scene, Philip is put in a strait jacket and put into a sanitarium (reminiscent of what happened to Edward McLean).  Later, Katherine drives him back to the country home, where he is shortly found dead in the bathtub, the death ruled a suicide.  The last will is ruled intestate, and Katherine becomes the full owner and publisher of The Post.  All this, the efficient elimination of a potential independent voice, someone who has actually had enough and won't take it anymore and might go public about the whole corrupt establishment--conveniently occurred just 4 months before the Kennedy assassination, when there might need to be good media control.

As her fate becomes secure Katherine Graham continues the Post's proud traditions of boosting war and plutocracy and otherwise serving the Deep State better than any major paper, ultimately becoming the last major US newspaper to denounce the Vietnam War.

The Post's leading role in exposing Watergate is also in the comments brushed away as I have done, against the background of the plutocracy deciding Nixon is too independent minded to implement the desired new regime of neoliberalism to replace the New Deal, so he is done in by the Deep State through their friendly local newspaper, somehow always owned and operated by friends, the Post.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Maidan Massacre

There were at least 50 foreign snipers in Kiev on February 20, 2014, sowing murder and chaos to overthrow the elected government of Ukraine and put in place a new NATO-friendly government.  The latest news is that one of the military commanders now appears to have been a "former" American soldier.

No less than Edward Herman underlined that the US media, quick to point out any hearsay about the Russians, has only given a stony silence to all the increasing evidence that the Maidan Revolution was a coup orchestrated by foreigners with the explicit aim of turning around Ukraine, once the heart of Russia, into a western client state armed to threaten Russia.

Accepting the Maidan Revolution as a Military Coup, which it clearly was, negates and reverses claims of Russian aggression afterwards.

So, western propagandizing media, stoking cold war as always, will not do so.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

One State Solution

As masterfully defined by Professor Edward Said in 1999.

My only quibble: He says both Jews and Palestinians may need to relax the full "Right of Return" for all in their respective categories.   I think best to stick with categorical justice, which certainly must include right of return for all Palestinians.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Real Jesus Story

As noted in a "greatest lie" section of Quora, constrasting the Christian legends with what common sense likely took place.

Jesus appears to have been very well born, with both of his parents having leading Royal blood (and they were cousins too) and literally being the grandson of the last greatly respected King of the Jews.  The second in line only to his elder cousin John the Baptist, and after John's murder Jesus becomes a replacement public figure...a new contender for a good new King.

He rides into Jerusalem in phrophesized style with his followers, and attempts to start a debt jubilee by turning over the money changers tables.  Economist Michael Hudson believes that debt jubilees were a great idea which should be brought back.  In any case, it's a brash populist-socialist move on the part of a new aspiring king-to-be, and also portrays his populist socialist tendencies.

But the Romans are having none of it, and kidnap Jesus' own son.  Judas, Jesus cousin and closest confidante, works out an amazing deal with the Romans in which Jesus' son is freed, and Jesus himself gets to spend a mere 3-6 hours on the cross just before the Jewish holiday...and most importantly not having his legs broken...and to get hauled away by his father to his father's royal tomb.  He was well attended, quickly recovered, and ultimately escaped to live a life in exile, where he is occasionally recognized but otherwise keeps a very low profile.  To his followers, this is a symbolic watershed which they will soon avenge--but even with their support newer generations of Jewish  Resistance face ultimate defeat, with the multiple sackings of the the too-independent-thinking Jerusalem by the Romans, who ultimately found Israel incompatible with the Roman Empire principles and renamed it Palestine for the long co-inhabitant "Philistines" who remained after the departure of the more well placed and known diaspora Jews.

Jesus never made an issue of his god-ness, but once Jesus had passed on, an antagonistic outsider named Saul changed his identity to Paul and hijacked the identity of Jesus for the godhead he was enterpreneuring, declared that Jesus had not merely escaped death but arisen from the dead, with "gospels" ultimately created to blend his new religion-of-idealist-deity with the old Jesus-was-the-good-king-who-showed-the-principles-of-courage-and-love-and-survived-and-will-be-restored, and that became the Christianity we know, well after it got hijacked and filtered again by the clerics appointed by Constantine, and so on.

And it all fit a pattern of many similar stories in many other cultures beforehand, such as Buddha, etc.

The real Jesus story is that when the blindfolds are removed we all understand the essential nature of the common good and that it cannot be achieved by selfish means alone.  There is hope then that we can work together.

As a Jew, ...

After my Kindergarten era best friend, a Danish/Irish ancestry kid surnamed Anderson, moved away to the Bay Area in 1963, all of my childhood friends were Jewish, of Russian ancestry (which I now find interestingly coincident with when Kennedy was replaced by Johnson, apparently with the assistance with some involvement of a vehemently anti-communist Russian exile community in Texas which "handled" Oswald for the CIA...perhaps I was being "handled" by the CIA as well, and this is only one of several cases where political swings coincided with unintended departure of my best friends in curious ways).

Sometime not long after my mother put me in Lutheran bible school.  But while I found many of the kids there entertaining, somehow none of them ever became my friends.

The Jewish kids were cooler.  Perhaps it was also they took much more initiative in making friends, inviting me to their homes, on their outings.

I might have converted to Judaism.  Except for one thing.  Sometime around 1973 I became aware of the occupation of the west bank.  This did not fit my childhood myths about Israel: that the Palestinians within Israel to the west of Jerusalem were equal citizens in a democracy, and that the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem were Palestine, where Palestians were free citizens a somewhat backward but picturesque country with many of the most interesting sites to Christianity.

Vision having been thusly shattered, by some voices on Pacifica Radio, I tried to ask all my Jewish friends about Israel and Palestine.  Or, at least three of them.  The most important ones at the time.  It was pretty much the end, or at least at the ending point, of all 3 friendships.

I think now, if my Jewish friends could ever have answered me satisfactorily, I might well have converted to Judaism.  Christianity had nothing for me, my friends were Jewish, and Jewish girls were usually the most attractive.  So, one way I could classify myself would be would-have-been-Jewish, a kind of Jewishness.

And there are other angles, such as one having been called a Jew, and defending Jews at that time.

Jewish ancestry likely also.  My mother, who had been adopted during her infancy, looked vaguely Russian-Jewish, herself always proclaiming the now-discredited Twelve Tribes theory, of being among best children of Israel.  A discredited theory...but perhaps the truth in her undocumented ancestry includes Jewish maternity or something like it.

So, in the fashion of any Marque, I declare myself a Jew, under my own authority., all other worldly authorities being hopeless corrupt  Actually, as it turns out, as I could expound upon in greater fashion another time, the King of Jews.  But not exclusive of other categories, nationalities, and causes, including Palestinian, Iranian, and Russian, for example.

But, anyway, I prefaced one of the most relationship-fatal questions to a Jewish girl I had been in great lust with for a long time, with the ill chosen and immediately regretted words, which slipped off the tongue so easily I must have been primed by endless TV programming, "As a Jew"

"As a Jew, what do you think about Israel and the Palestinians?"  Or something like that.

Immediately offended, at great length she critized the phrase "As a Jew", not identifying otherwise, or even at all, but with the notion that Jews should be expected to have, as a group, an opinion on this or any other matter.  Some Jews, she noted (setting the stage for what I have become) there were anti-Zionist Jews.

After a minute or two of this backlash, I tried to rephrase my question.  "Well I'm sorry for putting it that way.  But...what do You think about Israel's treatment of the Palestinians?"

I continued not to get an answer, just more backlash for asking the question as if Jews should have a collective opinion on it.

Now, gazillion years later, I'm listening to the great orthodox rabbi on Youtube describing the opposition between Zionism and Judaism.  At some point in this previously terrific little lecture, he veers off into the badness of being asked about Israel's treatment of the Palestians as a Jew...he doesn't therein delve deeply in the semantics or philosophy, just with the rhetorical response, "Why don't you ask me about China and how it treats it's citizens."

As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the worst forms of argument, begging the question to get off from having to make a hard statement with respect to a group one self identifies as.

"As a Jew" as I declare myself to be, I can answer the question.  Or "as a human being" or "as a leftist" as I describe myself in those ways also.

And, it's quite simple.  The treatment of Palestinians by Israel is abominable.  It must be stopped.  The best way to stop it would be to stop US imperialism, and the hype that sustains it.  BDS is another perfectly legitimate tactic, and there is no good reason why a religion supremicist state needs to exist for Jews or anyone else, and it's peculiarly oximoronic for Judaism.  "The Jewish State" is a contradiction in terms, and the Israeli government not only doesn't speak for me, it speaks for what I deeply oppose, and vice versa.  The creation of "The Jewish State" without coincidentally solving the displacement and refugee crisis was a terrible mistake, for which my country was a key facilitator and still is, to the great loss of many including Palestinians,  and for which minimal justice requires a full right to return for all displaced Palestinians as well as full equal rights for all Palestinians in Phisreal.