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12 December 2015

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Chris Chuba

"its [Riyadh conference] repeated demand of the removal of the current Syrian government as a preamble to any "negotiations" included."

The Kurds and some FSA elements were excluded from that conference and are going to have their own so it will be interesting to see what is in the wording of their charter regarding their demands. In the Riyadh conference they not only demanded the removal of Assad but also his closest advisors, it looks like they are going for something close to a Baath party purge. Their demands are clearly unreasonable and unrealistic. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out over the next few weeks and months.

Thank goodness the Russians are there to help change the facts on the ground, it shows the value of combining military efforts with diplomacy rather than just doing military action and hoping for the best like we did in Iraq and the Saudi's are doing in Yemen (an abomination).

Babak Makkinejad

Europeans, out of religious conviction, used to build these cathedrals that took man y generations to complete.

Likewise with US and Israel, more than 70 years of effort exerted and expense spent on her behalf by the United States, with decades more in store - without a doubt.

A religious project, in my book.

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

Actually, complaints about British hostility towards Israel, and about the shift of much Protestant opinion both here and in the United States against that country, are endemic on 'Zionist' sites.

Two examples thrown up by a quick search.

http://www.jewishmag.com/106mag/euroarabia/euroarabia.htm
http://www.jewishideasdaily.com/687/features/mainline-protestants-and-israel/

A common feature in these and many similar articles is an absolute inability to contemplate the possibility that shifting attitudes could have anything to do with the behaviour of Israel and its supporters in the West.

Actually a family wedding, shortly after 'Operation Cast Lead', gave me an opportunity to do some fieldwork among a varied selection of British Protestants. What was not at issue in people's responses to the Israeli offensive was politicised identification with Palestinians. But people were shaken by the violence. And talk of 'mowing the grass' really does not help Israel.

In the wake of recent events, there has been an immense upsurge of Islamophobia here.

Quite naturally, Zionists are attempting to use this to incorporate Israeli policy in a narrative of Western civilisation in a kind of mortal struggle with Islam. How well this will work remains to be seen.

People's sense of identity is in flux in very complicated ways – much of what is important is not articulated, or very imperfectly articulated, and how things are going to 'pan out' is not a matter on which I feel able to take confident guesses.

But the old 'Cult of the Shoah' is increasingly a phenomenon of élites that are isolated and indeed commonly hated: as both Blairite 'New Labour' and the Cameron/Osborne Tory 'modernisers' are.

If you want a sense of how bizarre the current situation is, I would recommend two articles dealing with the scandal surrounding the current Tory chairman, Lord Feldman:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3356963/PETER-OBORNE-Cameron-crony-break-Tory-Party-two.html
http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/comment/150704/why-pm-trusts-lord-feldman-his-ace-a-hole

Actually, Grant Feller, the author of the second article, has attitudes which would be shared only by a very small subset of the Jews I have come across, most of whose views have little in common with those of people who write for the 'Jewish Chronicle'.

But that is part of the point. The peculiar autism one sees in the comments by Fellers is a general characteristic of the British 'Borg', common to the non-Jews who make up the preponderant part, and the Jews who are a heavily influential one.

This is part of the reason why 'neoconservatism', which is underpinned by the 'Cult of the Shoah', retains its dominance among the British élite, although it always had limited traction among the wider population, and is now generally repudiated.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments and the interesting links that you had included.

The identification of Judaism with state of Israel is quite explicit in the first two links - I suppose there could be no surprises there once one pay attention to the wording in the URL address.

On the other hand, I feel that as an outsider, I cannot tell others what their religion should be. If the majority of Jews are equating Judaism with Israel, who am I to tell them that they are factually, theologically, politically, and historically wrong? There are Jews who are already saying that and are labeled "crazies" or "self-hating Jews".

You may recall an observation that I made before on this forum that Israelis have been very careful not to identify publicly Islam as their enemy.

However, they have delegated that to their supporters outside of Israel. Furthermore, their self-image is that they are a Western Country, for reasons of orientation as well as prestige. To the extent that fear of Islam and Muslims prevails in Europe, North America and Russia, they would be beneficiaries, in my opinion.

After reading the other two links, yes, I should think that things are in a state of flux in regards to the Cult of Shoah at the moment in Britain. Let us see how deep and how far it will go.

My guess is that were I English, I would have wished all these people will their ancient pre-modern tribal and religious beliefs and issues to leave me (and Britain) alone and go fight it elsewhere.


David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

What you write raises all kinds of questions. A few observations.

In his exchange with David Rothkopf back in May 2014, Michael Oren suggested that American Jews needed to conduct some 'soul-searching', and answer 'basic questions':

'Do you consider your life inextricably linked to the Jewish story? Do all Jews – American, Israeli, or French for that matter – share a destiny?'

And he went on to write that:

'I can't speak for American Jews, but my guess is that the overwhelming majority of Israelis, religious and secular, would answer all of those questions in the affirmative.'

(See http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/05/15/a-jewish-state-vs-the-jewish-state/ .)

In a way I have come to realise is common among American Jews, Rothkopf is trapped by the emotional blackmail – and avoids pointing out the obvious fact that the editor of 'Foreign Policy' living in Washington DC does not share a 'destiny' with Israelis living under the shadow of Hizbullah missiles.

Let me gloss what Oren is saying. The history of the Jews is one of exile, of a European civilisation which would never accept them, so that the Holocaust was the natural and inevitable 'destiny' of Jews in Europe. From this, they found a redemptive return, in the creation of Israel.

Anyone who grasps the basic nature of this story should realise that Zionists of the Oren type are actually both implacably anti-Russian and anti-European.

For some reason whose cogency I do not fully grasp, such Zionists think that the deep-rooted urge to massacre Jews which they belief is natural to the 'goyim' is at least in abeyance, in the forseeable future, in the United States.

This bears upon the – very important – issue raised in the your last paragraph.

As should be clear, the answer is quite complex. There is in fact no Jewish 'destiny' or 'story', only Jewish 'stories'. And, to cut a very long and impossibly complex set of 'stories' short, one can identify a spectrum, defined by different reactions to the opportunities to move out of the ghetto opened up by the Enlightenment (here, incidentally, the German Enlightenment is of particular interest.)

At one end, one has those Jews for whom these opportunities were to be grasped with alacrity. These 'stories' ended in all kinds of different places – but this group of Jews has to be one of the most creative, alike for good and evil, in human history.

In relation to the British experience of Jews, and in particular Jews who found refuge here from the disasters of continental European history, the balance is very strongly positive.

At the other end of the spectrum are 'ghetto Jews' – people for whom being dragged out of the securities of an enclosed Jewish world was traumatic.

And, as is common, very many people were, as it were, 'betwixt and between' – and still are. And, of course, the Holocaust, in which all the hopes of the German Jews who had sought to escape the ghetto were brought to nothing, has immeasurably complicated matters.

In relation to these issues, however, the British situation is quite distinctive – radically different alike from the American and European.

Involved in this are complex ironies. Those whom I call, for lack of a better word, 'Dreyfusard' Jews have had an immense fertilising influence on British life. But part of this process is that the kind of Jews who would have progressively disappeared in Germany – through intermarriage – have disappeared here.

At the other extreme, we have the story of the empowerment of a quite different group of Jews – including figures like Lord Finkelstein and Grant Feller.

About these people, my view is indeed rather that you characterise in your final paragraph: I am perfectly happy for these people to live here as 'resident aliens', but if they go on trying to drag us into their tribal wars, this will end badly.

As to the chosen allies of these people, it is difficult to describe the extent to which Blair is hated – and Cameron and Osborne are 'rich white trash': 'toffs' without being gentlemen.

Betwixt and between, are very many British Jews, for whom, in different ways, and to different extents, the failure of the Zionist dream is immensely painful.

But then, one comes back to the fact that there is so much of value in Jewish traditions, both religious and secular, which has nothing to do with Zionism.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

I regret that I had not made my last paragraph more clear to indicate that I had in mind by "all these people" all those Jihadi sympathizers living in England as well.

I agree with you that the contribution of religious or non-religious Jews to the betterment of Human Condition over the last 2 or 3 centuries in many spheres of endeavor has been, without a doubt, tremendous - specially considering their numbers.

[Hundreds of years ago there were hundreds of Jewish scholars that also contributed to what became to be known as Muslim Philosophy, before Darkness Fall.]

But you are quite right; the quarrel is with Zionism which, regrettably, now define contemporary Judaism - in my opinion.

In regards to Jewish solidarity, I find that quite natural; I imagine the English will not be oblivious to the fate of Australians or New Zealanders if and when they are overwhelmed by the "Brown Peril" which has replaced the "Yellow Peril" in the popular imagination there.

Or closer still, Iranians and the Shia Doctors in Iran are not oblivious and are quite concerned with the fate of Shia Muslims everywhere (including another massacre in Pakistan a few days ago).

But per your point, an Iranian ayatollah living in Qum is not subject to the same kinds of threats as a Lebanese baker & his family are in a village in South Lebanon under constant Israeli threat of war.


David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

The caravan is moving on, but we will doubtless be able to continue this discussion in future threads.

A couple of points, however for the time being.

I had been fully aware that your reference to 'all these people' also involved jihadi sympathisers. In fact, what you are describing is a possible quite coherent response to current events – at once Islamophobic and in some sense anti-Semitic.

Also among the elements making this possible are the very ambiguous attitudes of Jews associated with the 'modernising' projects of 'New Labour' and their Conservative imitators to Muslim immigration.

To see how this can be worked out, have a look at commentaries on the 'Occidental Observer' site associated with Kevin Macdonald. Of particular interest is a July 2013 article by Tobias Langdon, entitled 'Lords Feldman and Finkelstein: Guiding the Tories to Oblivion', available at
http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2014/07/lords-feldman-and-finkelstein-guiding-the-tories-to-oblivion/

My own view – and I knew a few key 'New Labour' people moderately – is that these 'modernisers' have failed to learn a key lesson of modern history. On the one hand, all of us have to adapt to change – but the 'Jacobin' notion that one can simply repudiate one's own past or coerce others into repudiating theirs is a route to disaster.

The political philosopher John Gray – who you have quoted – has harked back to the suggestion by the French 'positivist' Saint Simon that the future of mankind might lie in a fusion of the ideas of the Enlightenment radical Voltaire and the Catholic reactionary de Maistre.

In looking back at the 'end of history' nonsense of Fukuyama, several points can usefully be born in mind. One is that the 'Voltairean' critique of the kind of Hegelianism on which it relied by Sir Karl Popper – that the suggestion that one could identify long-term trends in history with strong predictive power is actually completely 'unscientific' – is right. And this kind of claim to knowledge is at once intellectually spurious, and latently 'totalitarian' in its implications.

But by the same token, Popper's claim that the road to a successful future lay in simply turning one's back on 'tribalism' is acutely vulnerable to a critique in terms of ideas drawn from 'counter-enlightenment' thinkers like de Maistre.

At the heart of this is the realisation that we are, inescapably, both individuals and members of groups: in part, 'pack animals', as it were.

And as such drill, dancing, singing, all kinds of ritual, and indeed worship, not to forget sport, are intimately involved both with deeply-rooted features of human nature, and with keeping human societies functioning.

(It was drill that turned Wellington's 'scum of the earth' into soldiers – and I could discourse at length about the role of hymn-singing in building social disciplines in South Wales. The piece by Grant Fellar to which I referred, incidentally, indicates a total inability to understand the 'socializing roles' of either rugby or cricket – crucial to understanding British society.)

But this leads on to another point about Fukuyama. His argument rested upon the 'thinking' – if one can dignify it with that word – of the Russian émigré Stalinist-turned-EEC bureaucrat Alexander Kojève, which revived the strand in Hegel according to which history ended with the defeat of the Prussian monarchy by Napoleon at Jena in 1806, because then the 'vanguard' of mankind had attained 'consciousness.' This came to Fukuyama through Allan Bloom and Leo Strauss.

There is actually a continuity in Kojève's apparently bizarre intellectual evolution, which relates to an image of 'modernity' being brought to the barbarians, whose culture has no value – including by coercive means.

And as is clear, the 'barbarians' can be anywhere: and certainly, in 'Middle England' or the American South, almost as much as in the Donbass or Iraq.

Ironically, in championing Kojève's fatuities, Bloom and Strauss were turning their back on a range of interesting thinking about 'modernisation' which originates with Jews who among other things were wrestling with the complexities of the Jewish involvement in these processes – not least as victims, but hardly exclusively so.

They also however embodied a trait which one sees in the attitudes of those Jews who have become central to 'the Borg' – alike in Britain and the United States.

An underlying premise often appears to be, as it were, that others should practice a Popperian repudiation of 'tribalism', while Jews retain a special entitlement to it because of the Holocaust. People who adopt this approach are, in my view, living a lie – and the ultimate consequences could be explosive.

It is also a resolution which produces stupidity. And is remains the case that the interesting and useful people are those who are aware of, and wrestling with, the contradictions of 'modernisation'.

A case in point is indeed Peter Oborne, to whose discussion of the scandal in which Lord Feldman is involved I linked – he is a practising Anglican whose wife is the vicar of a church near us.

Another interesting example is also the husband of an Anglican minister – an orthodox Jew called Robert Cohen, formerly a BBC journalist in London, but now living in Kendal in Cumbria: which gives him an excellent vantage point for an understanding of 'Middle England'.

In his writings one finds developed a modern reworking, from a religious perspective, of an old Jewish anti-Zionist tradition. His recent post on 'the battle for the soul of Hannukah' and letter last April to the Vivian Wineman, President of the Board of Deputies entitled 'Boycotting from Within' are of particular interest.

(See http://micahsparadigmshift.blogspot.co.uk/ .)

As it happens I do not think Cohen has, any more than anyone else, a coherent idea of how to get out of the appalling mess in Palestine. And my great admiration for him is qualified by my reservations about the whole 'human rights' approach. But, as you have noted, a Confucian 'rectification of names' is a prerequisite if we are to get anywhere. And I think he is doing that.

Lastly, my reference to 'Israelis living under the shadow of Hizbullah missiles' was not intended to imply any kind of taking sides in this conflict.

If one's chief concern is to try to prevent situations hurtling towards disaster – as I think all of ours, in the Middle East, ought to be – one needs to attempt to practice 'hard-hearted empathy' with all sides. Unfortunately, this is difficult enough for all of us, but particularly so for people whose underlying premise is a deep-seated conviction of their own righteousness.

LeaNder

"Often because of religious disagreements in the moment."

I somewhat doubt that the ultimate force behind war then or now was ultimately based (only and/or purely) on religious disagreements.

Never mind that Babak seems to offer us some type of variation in his "religion cum (and/or as) culture" theses. Maybe since that leaves out power among other things in what feels like a gamble with historical analogies.

turcopolier

LeAnder

"I somewhat doubt that the ultimate force behind war then or now was ultimately based (only and/or purely) on religious disagreements." OK. What is your explanation as to why Pope Urban launched the first crusade? pl

LeaNder

Babak, this is a long way around a paradox that can be put shortly, and does not need any juxtaposition of religions like Protestants versus Catholics.

Israel wouldn't have been created without the arch enemy of the Jewish people ever. The question is to what extend did the creation of Israel create a new political paradigm, that underlines your lower supportive "religion matters" paradigm somewhere beneath your larger culture paradigm.

LeaNder

Pat, I suppose you are referring to Pope Urban II. Are you? If so, he surely was involved in a power struggle before he could start the Crusade. How complex was the context behind Wikipedia? Is this what Benedikt tried to tell me in his speech at Regensburg and failed?

"What is your explanation as to why Pope Urban launched the first crusade?"

Are you directing my attention to the Seljuk Turks? If so, thanks, a lot.

Not sure if my hare brain may be able to hold centuries and analogies between now and then outside a secular and thus non-Armageddon universe. ... In other words if you could see me now, you probably would witness the "Montana Stare". See above "hare brain" or nitwit, as I used to call it earlier.

David Habakkuk

LeaNder,

It is very many years since I studied the history of the English Civil War. However, a vivid recollection from college days related to the large literature, Marxist and other, which had attempted to explain this in sociological terms.

When detailed study was done of the social composition of the 'Long Parliament', it turned out that there simply was no clear social differentiation between those who sided with the King and those who opposed him. The only significant difference was that the latter were somewhat older.

A sceptic's view of the origins of the conflict was given by the – very drunk – royalist poet Samuel Butler, at the start of his doggerel epic in which the central protagonist is the Presbyterian gentleman 'Hudibras'.

It is, one might say, a nightmare vision by someone who knew a great deal about the power of fanaticism, the bizarre excitability of human beings, and their capacity to cause destruction:

When civil dudgeon first grew high,
And men fell out they knew not why?
When hard words, jealousies, and fears,
Set folks together by the ears,
And made them fight, like mad or drunk,
For Dame Religion, as for punk;
Whose honesty they all durst swear for,
Though not a man of them knew wherefore:
When Gospel-Trumpeter, surrounded
With long-ear'd rout, to battle sounded,
And pulpit, drum ecclesiastick,
Was beat with fist, instead of a stick;
Then did Sir Knight abandon dwelling,
And out he rode a colonelling.

There follows Butler's immortal description of the religion of 'Hudibras', which is too long even for me to quote any more than its ending, but seems to me to catch perfectly a spirit still alive and well in the likes of Tony Blair and Barack Obama.

Of both, it might indeed be said, as Butler said of the Presbyterians: 'All piety consists therein/In them, in other men all sin'. Much less changes than people think.

(For the poem, see http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/4937/pg4937-images.html .)

turcopolier

LeAnder

Yes, the half civilized Teutonic barbarians who peopled Europe's noblesse at the time were difficult for Urban to line up at the start line, but so what? That was essentially a logistical problem for him. Urban launched the crusade because the Byzantine emperor appealed to him for help. His forces had lost the Battle of Manzikert in 1072 to the Seljuks (Babak's favorites) and thereby had lost nearly all of Anatolia to Islam. Alexius Comnenus' message took a year or so to reach Rome and then it took several years to get "les mecs" together to hear Urban's appeal at Clermont, then a few more years to get them to leave on the road to Constantinople. My point was that the papacy and Urban II had no real interests in Anatolia or Palestine. The Muslim rulers of Jerusalem did not molest Christian pilgrims. Urban launched the crusade to support Christendom and Alexius Comnenus was the leading defender of Christendom in the East. Urban did not like Alexius and Alexius did not offer to end the schism within Christendom. I am surprised that you claim not to be able to compare olden times with modern times. People were and still are people. pl

bth

I was researching Syrian grain storage silos and came across this interesting article that discussing grain spoilage in Egypt. It is interesting that the pharaohs of old could manage wheat storage but the current Egyptians cannot and are the world's largest wheat importers. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-08/pigeons-grow-fat-in-egypt-as-poor-storage-means-wasted-wheat

William R. Cumming

My understanding is that Christian knights sacked the Eastern Rome and wondering about it?

Also Christian s killed Christians if memory serves during one of the sacks of ACRE?

William R. Cumming

Well Ash Carter will be retained by HRC as her SECDEF for his expertise in private e-mail accounts maintenance when a government employee?

turcopolier

WRC

The Venetians managed to divert the army of the 4th Crusade to Constantinople in 1203 where they sacked the city. The Byzantine Empire never recovered from that . Greek Orthodox clergymen still bitch about it. Which siege of Acre are you asking about? Suggest you read something decent about the Crusades. pl

Jane

Since about fifty percent of fertilized eggs wash out with the woman's next menses and are either flushed down the toilet or disposed of in land fill and are a much greater number than those disposed of by Planned Parenthood, perhaps you would include them in your call for religious burial?

William R. Cumming

Thanks P.L.!

William R. Cumming

The NYTimes today December 22nd discusses the problem of Cuban immigration to the USA and
wondering where US Senators Cruz and Rubio stand on the issues discussed in the article?

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