Monday, September 21, 2009
(not a spoof) The Latest "Liturgy" from the Reform Movement - Bless Casual Sex and Sex Change Operations
textbook that was about to be introduced into high school classrooms in
Israel, a book that gives .equal time. to Arab propaganda lies and to
factual history, in effect equating the legitimacy of truth with fiction.
It has pages split in half on one side of which it gives the 'Jewish
version,' meaning historic facts, and on the other side it gives the 'Arab
version,' meaning the usual set of disinformation and lies. About the
'Nakba,' about Jews supposedly carrying out ethnic cleansing of Arabs in
1948, and so on. For details see this story in Haaretz:
Now the authors of this .book. may be onto something. How about after
junking their piece of trash a new textbook is introduced to Israeli high
schools in which both sides of the following questions are debated in the
same split-page format?: Should Israeli Leftists be stripped of their
citizenship and deported and jailed and hanged from the gallows as
traitors? The book could offer arguments pro and con in a balanced and
even-handed manned on pages split in half.
You know, all for the sake of balance and pluralism and hearing both
2. Subject: Interesting Piece on Israel's Far Left from Far Leftist
Haaaretz, of all Places
Left, right, left
By Ari Shavit
Haartez (Hebrew original 11/9/09?)
Shmuel Hasfari is a well-known playwright. Eldad Yaniv is a well-known
political strategist and deal-maker. They joined forces two years ago to
create a well-known local television hero, Polishuk. For hours on end
Yaniv would tell Hasfari how Israeli politics works, and Hasfari turned
the stories into the highly tragicomic TV series. But when the laughter
was over Hasfari and Yaniv sat down and asked themselves whether they
could continue to live with Israel's government in its present form, with
public discourse in Israel as it was being conducted. They asked whether
there was something they could do to shake up the system and compel it to
become serious and genuine.
The outcome is a 15,000-word document that was unleashed earlier this
month into the crowded, tired public arena. It is called "The National
Left," but in a sense its real name could be "Anti-Polishuk." It is an
attempt to restore values to a politics that has lost all values, to
restore an agenda to a politics that has lost any agenda, to wage a war of
ideas in a place where political wars are driven by personal and partisan
interests and motivated by cynicism.
Hasfari, 55, is a natural candidate for the task. By the age of 17 he
belonged to the extreme right-wing organization Dov (an acronym for dikui
bogdim, suppression of traitors). At 30, he was far enough to the left to
already left enough to be a refusenik in the Lebanon War, and since the
early 1980s he has been writing plays focusing on the tensions and forces
in Israeli society. In 1996, he worked on the prime ministerial election
campaign of Shimon Peres, who was running against Benjamin Netanyahu. In
1999 he worked for Meretz during the election. He has always walked a
tightrope between writing and politics, and says that were he not a
playwright he would be a politician.
Yaniv was Ehud Barak's closest political advisor from 1999 to 2001, and in
2002-2006 he was legal counsel for the Labor Party. He returned to work
for Barak, who by then was defense minister, in 2006-2007, as his campaign
chief and as head of the defense minister's personal staff. He was known
as a supreme schemer, a superior manipulator, an indefatigable and slick
political operator. Not exactly the man to offer a new ideological path
for the Israeli left.
Nevertheless, the document Yaniv and Hasfari drafted in evening meetings
over a full year is provocative and fascinating. Many of its ideas are
drawn from the writings and statements of others, yet their collection
into a direct, blunt and provocative text has resonance. It has been a
long time since leftists have attacked the left so directly, in an attempt
to rouse it from its slumbers. Fasten your seat belts: turbulence ahead.
Rumors of my death
You are a playwright. What's your connection to ideological treatises?
Hasfari: "At some point there was a sudden rush to the right. The
conventional wisdom said the left was finished. I felt that as a leftist I
wasn't dead, that the rumors of my death were wrong. I tried to understand
this dissonance and realized there was a very great confusion, a
corruption of concepts and definitions. The fact that I love the State of
Israel and the Land of Israel and the people here does not make me a
rightist. The fact that I am not in love with Yasser Arafat does not mean
that I am not left. Left is something else entirely. Left is being
socially concerned, empathetic. Left is asking what is unjust, un-Jewish
and immoral in our society. But in recent years the impression has been
created here that left means being spineless, universalist, not bound to
anything. Left is tending to the beds of basil of 'the State of Tel Aviv.'
So I wanted to declare that the fact that my children serve in the army
does not mean that I am not left. I am not post-Zionist; I am Zionist
Zionist. I believe that this is my country, my homeland, the place where I
should raise my children. I believe that Zionism is an amazing enterprise.
I believe that Zionism is the correct and important solution for the Jews
in our time. I am a red-blooded patriot."
A leftist can be a red-blooded patriot?
"It isn't because everyone has suddenly turned right, but because the left
has become confused. The left stopped being what it was and what it needs
to be. That is why we wrote this document. We wrote it to wake people up,
to shock people, to shock the left back to life."
Eldad Yaniv, you are a political deal-maker. What's your connection to
ideological treatises? You are a practical, savvy, sophisticated person.
When people see what you are doing, they ask what game you are playing. So
what's your game?
Your text really is meant to shake things up. You call the left "small" (a
play on the Hebrew word for left, "smol"). You write: "The left is a mark
of Cain, a derogatory term for collaborator, Israel-hating Arab-lover,
enemy of the Jewish people, unpatriotic, "kapo," braggart."
"After all, it is unacceptable that for every incident at some [West Bank]
checkpoint this 'small' sends tons of user responses to Haaretz and Ynet
[Internet sites], but on [the refusal of religious schools in Petah Tikva
to admit children of Ethiopian descent], this 'small' is silent. Have you
heard Jumas [Meretz MK and New Movement-Meretz chairman Haim Oron] say
anything about the Ethiopians? Have you heard [former Labor and Meretz
leader] Yossi Beilin say anything about the Ethiopians? Nada. It is of no
interest to them, it goes right over their heads. This proves that they
are not a true left, because you cannot be left without showing
solidarity. There's no such thing as a left that does not first of all
concern itself with its community. So this 'small' is no longer left. It
is an alienated individualism. Beilinism has taken it over entirely."
What do you two have against Beilinism?
Yaniv: "Beilin is part of the peace industry. His core business is
achieving peace. Therefore Beilinism is one-dimensional. But we are saying
that the left is not peace and that peace is not left. Because what if it
is not possible to achieve peace? Ben-Gurion did not get peace in his
lifetime, but he was left. Because left is to aspire to create an
exemplary society here. But all of these Jumases cannot be with the
Ethiopians in Petah Tikva, because they've been overwhelmed by the peace
industry. And the peace industry is flying abroad every day to conferences
with the Palestinians, and deep down it hopes that will not be peace
because if there is there will no more trips abroad. This industry can
function only when there is no peace. The Peres Center for Peace can
function only when there is no peace. Can you imagine what would happen if
there were peace? It would be a catastrophe for them."
Yaniv: "We aren't saying Israel should not strive for peace, it should.
But what if there is never peace? The left must say that the country has
to be divided even if there isn't going to be peace - and that an
exemplary society should be founded here even if there isn't going to be
peace. The left should go back to being a nationalist left."
Slackers and parasites
The nationalist left you refer to savagely attacks those who evade
conscription. That sounds more right wing than left wing.
Hasfari: "Draft evaders are people who steal from the national treasury.
We had a contract: I protected you, now you protect me. Why are you
betraying this pact? By what right do you send my son to the army while
you stay at home in Tel Aviv getting laid? By what right are you an actor,
playing a soldier in "Beaufort," and not going to the army to be a
soldier? By what right? Are there no more wars? Do we no longer need an
army? Are there no more national missions?"
You're really angry. Draft dodgers make your blood boil.
Hasfari: "It drives me crazy. The evaders are revolting parasites. They
are shits. They are do- nothings, cheaters and shits."
Hasfari: "Evading service is treason, absolutely. It's very simple. We are
carrying a stretcher, four guys, and suddenly one decides it's okay to
leave. And when he leaves the injured man falls. What is unclear here? An
evader is a traitor. He violates a contract. I had a contract with him and
he violated it."
The bloggers will call you both fascists.
Hasfari: "A fascist is someone who puts the state above all else. We
aren't talking about the state at all, we're talking about society, about
me and you. My neighbor and I agreed that I would guard on Sunday and he
will guard on Monday. But on Sunday I guard and on Monday he's out having
a good time. And in so doing he is betraying me. He violated our contract.
There is no fascism here, only deception.
"I'll give you an example: A young guy doesn't feel like going to the
army. Instead he went to Beit Zvi (acting school). He told the army that
he wasn't suited to frameworks and to discipline, but he went to a school
that is all about frameworks and discipline. He graduated, became a big
star and portrays soldiers, and will soon be portraying a Nazi officer.
He's willing to play a soldier, but not to be one. It makes my blood boil.
I will never work with him."
Hasfari: "I am talking about Itay Tiran and others, too, and in my view
there is a connection. Because in my view a draft dodger is stealing money
from my pocket. I watched over you when you were little, now I need you to
watch over me, so you evade your responsibility and disappear and become a
stage actor? It's immoral, it's tainted. When I choose actors I do not
work with draft evaders, just as I would not work with a thief, a rapist,
No rights without duties
Basically you are saying that army service - preferably combat duty,
meaningful duty - is a condition for being a leftist.
Yaniv: "Every leftist should be the first to go to the army. It's no
accident that [Revisionist Zionist and Irgun leader Ze'ev] Jabotinsky died
in New York and Ben-Gurion died in Israel. We were always at the front. It
can't be any other way. We leftists will always need to pay a higher price
because we are more sensitive to our duties to the community."
You did your army service at Bamahane, the army journal. Your front was
Yaniv: "An Israeli passport isn't enough? Why should a person need two
Hasfari: "Because he's a Jew-boy. He's imagining how it all ends, and
working his way back from there."
Did I hear you correctly? Jew-boy?
You argue that civil rights should be bound up with civil obligations.
Yaniv: "That statement is really not simple. It is very, very illiberal.
But what can you do when the State of Israel is illiberal? This is a
democratic Jewish state. This is not an ordinary democracy. This is a
democracy in which there is discrimination that favors Jews."
Civil rights are a fundamental, universal, unconditional value.
Hasfari: "We live in the same society, in the same entity. So if you won't
give, you won't receive. If you give the minimum, I'll also give you the
minimum. You won't get an allowance."
Hasfari: "I would stay awake until four in the morning to see Israel's
youth team playing in blue and white against a team of Maoris in
Australia. Why? Because. Because they represent me, because I stand behind
them, because they are part of me and I am part of them. And when I see
the flag raised to the top of the pole between Memorial Day and
Independence Day, I get emotional. Because this flag is us. This flag is
ours. It is not David's and not Abraham's and not Maimonides'. It's our
flag. We drew it with our own hands, and in my view, 'Hatikva' is the most
beautiful national anthem in the world. The beautiful, melancholic music
of 'Hatikva.' That evocative, semi-sad music, full of hope and yearning.
And its wonderful text. 'Hatikva' is me, it is part of me."
But 'Hatikva' excludes one-fifth of Israel's citizens, who cannot sing
"the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart."
Hasfari: "I'm not demanding that any Arab stand to attention and sing when
'Hatikva' is played, but Israel is not a nation of all its citizens. There
is a country here that was established to be a Jewish state, and the
anthem reflects the aim of its establishment. I am not ashamed of that,
but proud of it."
I listen to you both and have reached the conclusion that you are not
rightist, because you want to end the occupation and get out of the
territories. But you are really not liberal left, either. You are
nationalists of the Green Line.
Hasfari: "Green Line nationalists sounds fine to me. I am not apologetic
about my country, about its borders or the Green Line, which has been
recognized by the entire world. This is where I live, this is my country.
Green Line nationalists? I'll accept that, absolutely. Sign me up."
National left sounds a bit like National Socialist (Nazi). What's more,
the language you employ is blunt, provocative, vulgar. It smells of
Hasfari: "Our language is not inflated, not the language of 'small.' We
wrote without question marks. Without 'it is possibles.' Basically what we
are saying here is what people usually say off the record. We wrote an
off-the-record text and decided to put it on the record."
Wake up, psychos
Not only is your language populist, but so is your Zionism. At the end of
the day your solution to occupation is the unilateral solution. But
unilateralism was tried in the Gaza disengagement and failed.
Hasfari: "The problem with the disengagement wasn't the disengagement, it
was with our response following the disengagement. We are a sovereign
state, damn it. Anyone who harms a sovereign state will pay the price for
his actions. Can there be any question about that? You don't have to be
[Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor] Lieberman for
that. For that, you don't have to be a fascist. He who hurts me will be
hurt, immediately. You don't wait for seven years to respond."
In other words, as far as you are concerned the problem is not Operation
Cast Lead. The problem is that Cast Lead was so long in coming.
Yaniv: "The strategy is to partition the land. There is no other strategy.
Withdraw and build a fence. And then, anyone who shoots at you will be hit
hard, without mercy, as in Cast Lead. If you are hit by Qassams you have
to strike back, blows to the head, without mercy. Without B'Tselem,
without Peace Now. With the launch of the first Qassam you have to strike
hard at Gaza without mercy and without blinking. If you are attacked you
respond with all your strength."
Hasfari: "We are very much in favor of the wall. And, if possible, of
making it higher, deeper."
Eldad, you oppose settlements and favor unilateral withdrawal, but you are
the attorney of the city of Ariel.
You have an ingenious solution, but one problem remains: (Advertising
executive) Reuven Adler came up with it first. He said that Israel should
leave the territories and strike hard at the Arabs, and he established a
party to that effect - Kadima. Why aren't you Kadima?
Yaniv: "Adler has a problem with its leader [MK Tzipi Livni]. She doesn't
tell the truth. She knows the truth and doesn't say it. And the truth is
that we should partition the land. Even if there's no partner, we should
partition the land. And evidently, there is no partner. So after 70
meetings with the Palestinians, from which nothing came and nothing will
come, Livni should already have figured it out and said so."
Okay, then (Vice Premier and Kadima MK) Haim Ramon, not Livni. You
basically wrote the Haim Ramon platform: Blunt, direct, simplistic and
Hasfari: "I think Haim Ramon is one of the smartest politicians in
Yaniv: "Aside from the kiss, aside from the kiss. He deserves to be
slapped for the kiss." (In January 2007 Haim Ramon was convicted of
indecent behavior for kissing a 20-year-old soldier without her consent,
when he was justice minister.)
Hasfari: "A gorgeous 18-year-old blonde wraps herself around you and
thrusts her tongue at you. You'd have to be made of stone to resist that."
There's no way around it, you need a leader who will fly the flag of the
national left. If not Beilin or Livni, and apparently not Ramon either,
who's left? Barak?
Yaniv: "Actually, I think that if Barak would do in the territories what
he did in Lebanon, I would support him. I don't rule out the possibility
of Barak adopting the national left idea and running with it.
"In all honesty, there is no real plan of action here. No new party, no
new leader. We are simply throwing a ball out onto the field and hoping
that others will kick it around. We are proposing a road map for the left.
We are hoping to generate change, like that which Four Mothers [the
protest organization credited with applying the public pressure that led
to Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000] generated. On the bottom
line, what we are saying is only one thing: Wake up, psychos. Wake up
because you are the majority. If you do not wake up now this state is
liable to really slip out of our hands. Another minute and all of Israel
will look like Jerusalem. If the left does not join in, does not
understand that the holiday is over and does not come down from the
bleachers then Israel will simply become one big settlement."
3. The following is not a spoof or joke:
Subject: American Jewish "liturgy"
From an article on prayer in the September 20th NYTimes Magazine: "Reform
Judaism is nothing if not responsive to changing times. Recently its
liturgy incorporated a special prayer for people undergoing sex-change
operations. And a predominantly gay synagogue in San Francisco,
Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, has composed its own prayer to be said after
anonymous sex. 'In the dark, in a strange place, our father Jacob
encountered a stranger with whom he grappled all night . . . He never knew
that stranger's name, yet their encounter was a blessing which turned
Jacob into Israel and made him realize, I have seen God face to face.' The
prayer asks God . who created passion and wove it throughout creation . to
bless casual sex and turn it into a blessing that allows us to both touch
and see the Divine."
4. Trial and Power
By Dr. Emmanuel Navon
I shall spare you the ordeal of playing the broken record on what was
wrong with the Oslo accords. Still: we're in between September 13 (the
date on which the Israeli Government and the PLO signed a Declaration of
Principles 16 years ago) and Rosh Hashanah, and there is something to be
learned about the Oslo legacy.
Oslo has been debated ad nauseam, and this debate is as tiresome as it is
irrelevant. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a Catch-22 situation. It
is both unsustainable and unsolvable. Most people, by now, realize that.
This conflict, however, is manageable -- provided Israel completes its
physical separation from the Palestinians, outsmarts them on the
diplomatic chessboard, and neutralizes their regional troublemaking
Peace, of course, would be preferable. But saying this is like saying that
it is preferable to be handsome, wealthy and bright than ugly, poor, and
dumb. Saying it does not make it happen. Moreover, it is a fact that
Israel has managed to thrive and be a success story despite the lack of
Shimon Peres made the bizarre claim in this book The New Middle East
(published in the wake of the 1993 Oslo agreement) that "true power --
even military power -- is no longer anchored in the boot camp, but on the
university campuses." Though clumsily stated (I happen to doubt the
ability of our academic nerds to protect us from an Iranian nuclear bomb),
Peres' idea contains an element of truth. What is anchored on Israeli
university campuses, however, is not true power, but true weakness.
I have had the privilege of teaching in Israeli universities for the past
eight years, and have always been struck by the fact that my students are
confused when I ask them to think. This confusion confirms what I
experienced as a graduate student in Israel. We were asked to learn, but
not to think. To repeat, not to be critical. All the professors were on
the same political wavelength (guess which one), and they did manage to
produce formatted and dogmatic students that knew their field but had no
culture and critical mind. Israeli campuses introduced me to something
new: intellectually boring Jews.
Faced with uncritical and ignorant 20-somethings who just finished the
army and only care about getting a degree and a job, Israel's most radical
professors have it easy. And what they have to say hardly makes our
universities a source of national strength: Young Israeli residents of
Judea and Samaria are like the Hitlerjungen (Moshe Zimmerman, Hebrew
University); Israel's policy toward the Palestinians is one of politicide
(Baruch Kimmerling, Hebrew University) and ethnic cleansing (Ilan Papp.,
formerly from Haifa University); the very existence of a Jewish people is
a "myth" invented by Zionism (Shlomo Sand, Tel-Aviv University); there
never was a unified Israelite monarchy in biblical times (Israel
Finkelstein, Tel-Aviv University); Israel is an apartheid state that
should be boycotted by the world community (Neve Gordon, Ben-Gurion
In a way, Peres was right: Israel's future depends not only on the
vitality of our economy and on the strength of our army but also, indeed
mostly, on what young Israelis know about their past and think of their
country -- in other words on the ideas they encounter on campuses. This is
where Israelis and Diaspora Jews must concentrate their efforts in the
coming years. The Shalem Center's initiative to set-up an alternative,
College-type institution in Israel is a good start in order for our
country to survive its academic nuts.
Ideas, values and faith transcend physical death. The fate of the Ramon
family is here to prove it. Ilan Ramon's mother was a survivor of the
Auschwitz concentration camp. Although he was a secular Jew, Ilan sought
to follow Jewish observances while in orbit (he requested kosher food and
observed Shabbat in space). Ilan also took parts of Jewish history and
faith with him in space: A pencil sketch, "Moon Landscape", drawn by
14-year-old Petr Ginz, who died in Auschwitz; a microfiche copy of a Torah
Scroll saved from the Holocaust; a barbed wire Mezuzah designed by Aimee
Golant; and a landmark dollar of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. "I feel I am
representing all Jews and all Israelis" he said.
Both Ilan and his son Assaf tragically died while heroically serving their
country, but they are survived by the values and ideas they believed in
and fought for.
May we be up to the task of preserving and perpetuating those values and
ideas. And may the Year 5770 give us the opportunity to do so without the
trials of the Year 5769.