Friday, October 24, 2008

A New Blog You Needn't Read

Some months ago I offered the Argentinian fellow who hides his true identity behind the title Ibrahim ibn Yusuf the option of sharing a blog. The idea - or at any rate, my part of it - was to have a thoughtful, systematic discussion between two people who radically disagree about Israel. I intended to look into Ibrahim's methodology, his thought processes, his relationship to facts and sources, and eventually also his motives. I don't know what his intentions regarding me were, but it was a free platform and he could have taken his part of it in whatever direction he wished. Theoretically, he could have bested me, though I admit I didn't think he would. The little I'd seen of hs work and the much I'd seen of others of his ilk left me mildly confident that most careful readers of our blog would find him to be the second most convincing of the two of us.

Shortly after we started some serious doubts began to accrue regarding Ibrahim's honesty in presenting himself. He himself admitted that it would have been easy to dispel the doubts, had they been based on falsehoods, but he was adamant in his refusal to do precisely that, eventually telling me that in the meantime the whole exercise no longer interested him. Personally I felt at the time and feel still that he feared he'd gotten into something he hadn't reckoned on so he ran, but I can't prove that, obviously.

What I can do, however, is to point you at his new blog, The Hasbara Buster. In one of his recent comments he said he's glad he has pro-Israeli readers and commentators, because that way he gets to understand how they think. Interesting comment, given his past behavior, and I'd suggest that what he really means is that he looks forward to talking to such people in an environment that he controls.

There's a pro-Israeli blogger named Yitzchak Goodman, author of Judeopundit, who is doing an admirable job of responding to the Buster's posts. I wish him luck, though I ask myself if he's not wasting his time. The Buster is way out there on the fringe of anti-Israeli bloviating, and it's unlkely that he makes any difference in the world. People such as myself, and also Goodman, need to ask themselves each year if any of the following three things are happening:

1. Are there more Jews in Israel than there were the previous year?
2. Is Jewish cultural (or religious) creativity as strong as it was last year, or perhaps even stronger?
3. Is Israel's economy, and with it the condition of the Israelis, better than it was last year?

In any year where the answer to any one of these questions is positive, we're doing alright, no matter what the Busters of the world do. Since most years all three questions have positive answers, why care about what those feverish folks think or say? Enemies of the Jews have been spewing their ire for millenia, and the Jews keep on doing their thing; these days, their thing is pretty miraculous, all in all, in spite of the blemishes.

The question that does remain, however, is why. Why should an instructor of language (Catalan, I think) in Rosario have this urge to "bust" things Israelis say about themselves. It's not because he has a good case - you're free to go visit and see for yourself how sloppy and often silly he is. It can't be because Israel is uniquely worse than other societies, because it isn't. Sometimes he tells that he's compelled to unveil Israel's crimes because the Israelis claim they're better than others. OK: and the Israelis are the only ones in the world who claim they're better? And even if they were the only ones, why should this be such an obsession in faraway Rosario?

In a recent post the Buster said I'm engaging in character assassination for posing this question. I don't agree. Not given the history of the Jews and their detractors these past few millenia.


Philo-Semite said...

Mr. Goodman's valuable time would be better spent combatting the vicious anti-Israeli writers at the Guardian's "Comment is Free".

Anonymous said...


In a world where free speech is guaranteed, you'll get to hear from kooks and charlatans. Just as you would if you were reading Pravda.

In other words? Free speech will also contain propaganda. It will contain views that aren't followed. And, that personally you not only don't agree with them. You also find them repugnant.

As a matter of fact that's what makes free speech so attractive. It contains the full spectrum. It's not "controlled." The very definition of free, is that everybody's opinion can be stated out loud. No one has to fear voicing their own opinions.

But humans have ears as well as eyes. And, tongues. We do learn from what we see and hear. Sometimes? The long way. Where we process information ... as Winston Churchill would say: "In our youth, through our hearts. And, as we grow older, through our heads." It can shift your position from liberal to conservative. It can shift it back again.

And, like any woman can tell you; you can also change your mind. (If, within 30 days? You can even bring "it" back for a refund.) Here, it was Mr. Macy who discovered how letting people "return merchandise" worked to make his store more popular!

As to where Israel gets hurt, today? My goodness. I don't think it's in her enemies. Though she seems to have lots of them.

While, from where I sit, I see India and Israel having about the same set of problems. Both countries were created in the late 1940's. By UN fiat. Both have had to deal with "lines drawn on a map" ... that excludes common sense from this design. And, both countries were led by men who favored Marx. Over Western philosophy. (Yeah. I know. Marx is also considered "Western," in that he wrote his stuff while living in England.) But socialism is an ILL. It's not a solution. Used as a corrective though, it can help Capitalism; where it picks up the slack. (Heck, even in the American system, which I prefer to the British Parliamentarial one.) You still need to have some sort of regulatory devices. Just like you need roads so that cars can run more efficiently. (You didn't need cemented roadways when you were traveling by horseback.)

FDR pushed Churchill to "give up the Crown Jewel," of India! He did this when, for American participation; FDR demanded India also sign the Allied Nations agreement for participating in WW2.

The Soviets would also benefit from their WW2 status. Where they got "position." Of course, without the Soviet sacrifice, fighting the Germans and the Japanese would have been far more difficult.

While, for Ben Gurion, I'm sorry. No excuses. You cannot begin a country on the ideals of kibbutzim. Without realizing that you're running into trouble. Capitalism is a core truth. Some people want to take far greater risks ... and for this you need rewards. Nothing beats Capitalism in this department. There just isn't enough good will to make Marx function.

And, if this weren't enough? You've got that crazy decision Ben Gurion made, as if Judaism comes in only one flavor: Orthodox. And, the orthodox are making sure to keep Judaism flowing backwards. Or? Well, you'd see female rabbis. You'd see a SECULAR WORLD that worked in politics. And, you'd leave the orthodox to raising funds through charity. Where, if you wanted to be kind, you could give them a tax-free zone; or a "deductibility allowance" ... when people decided ON THEIR OWN, to offer support. PERIOD.


Well, here's the problem. In Europe, Jews never held public powers. Occasionally? You'd get a Marx rising among the paperwork. Or you'd get a DISRAELI; where his father brought him to church, for conversion, when he was 13. Knowing he had a bright son. And, wanting to see him going far in the political sphere.

But by and large, there's no government on earth where Jews feel entirely comfortable. Or where they are accepted.

Yet, here, in the land of Israel, where you should have seen a better political stock rising; it turns out to be the opposite.

I've often used Harvard as an example. In America, the SAT's were put into place in an effort to weed out Jews! Believe it or not!

Jews, to get into Harvard, could get there "only on quota." But in that selection process? You got the best stock!

Now, go look at what you have!

Arik Sharon was a threat to the political establishment. So what did they do? On the one hand, the police went after him, and his son, Omri. That wasn't enough! So, they found medical personnel who opted to tell Sharon his "ticker" suffered from a birth defect. And, he needed rat poison, to thin his blood, so he could get a valve replaced. At his age!

The rat poison did it's job. Today, you'd see that Sharon's ticker is still working fine. But his brains have been blown out. So he's a vegetable. Maybe, it would have been better if his cardiologist was a goy?

Maybe, it's always better to see a secular universe where all can participate? Even if that marginalizes Jewish participation? Because Israel has very little to show for all the efforts that have gone into this dream.

It's a religious dream? My goodness, what a waste of time.

You just can't spread religion on the Internet!

Heck, in the McCain campaign, you might want to notice, McCain has wrapped himself in the cloth of the religious right. He's saying "Roe is bad law." So, instead? He offers to help women give up unwanted pregnancies that they bring to term! He's offering adoption services!

Just in case you were wondering how McCain "lost" his Hillary voters ... it's come down to a few seats on the Supreme Court.

Israel's Supreme Court? Please. Don't waste my time!

The political system now stinks to high heavens. Sure. One case at a time. Sharon didn't need to have to be picked apart by the corrupt police. Shimon Peres has a political appointment made on false rape charges against another man.

And, you're kidding me, riiight, when you say Olmert's biggest crime is that he "double-billed" a few airline fares? Oy vey, when you can make a mountain out of this moldy stuff. For what purpose?

Yitzchak Goodman said...

Thank you for the link and the kind words. My wife is convinced that all blogging of any kind is a waste of time, but your more specific questions are interesting. If I have the time and inspiration, I may reply to them on my blog. Have a great year.

andrew r said...

"It can't be because Israel is uniquely worse than other societies, because it isn't."

There are a few concrete things that set Israel apart from every country in the world. It doesn't boil down to raw statistics.

-It's the region's biggest ally of the world's biggest imperial power.

-It's the only country whose founding led to a refugee crisis and would cease to exist under its own definition if the refugees were repatriated.

-Most importantly, it's the only country that grants more civil rights to people who don't come from there over people who do. A Jew from Rosario has more right to live in Israel or the West Bank than the many Palestinians abroad who are barred from returning (and many are barred from the West Bank).

To be sure, Israel is not set apart in having its existence as a state opposed. That goes for Taiwan, Kosovo, Sahrawi Republic, and a few breakaways in the former Soviet Union.

Why oppose Israel? It's enlarging its border to include land full of people who are to be excluded from the state. It can only do this with generous western backing, which makes it a focus of anti-imperialism. I think fewer people would question Israel's Jewish majority if they didn't see this as a continuation of the nakba.

bataween said...

*-It's the only country whose founding led to a refugee crisis and would cease to exist under its own definition if the refugees were repatriated.*
An absolute lie.The Arabs league created twice as many Jewish refugees, and even today, twice as many Iraqi Christians have fled Iraq than Palestinian Arabs left Israel in 1948.