Monthly Archives: April 2004

Jewschool Shows the Way to Mecca

Mobius of Jewschool writes: this is what an apartheid state looks like.

waytomecca1.jpg

Some more food for thought before the day of rest.

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Some Thoughts Before the Day of Rest–Chemical Attacks

Here is a thought before the day of rest: why didn’t the international press report more broadly about the “foiled attack in Jordan” that “might have killed thousands?”
Possibly because Amman was not the intended target. As al-Zarqawi said, “God knows, if we did possess [a chemical bomb], we wouldn’t hesitate one second to use it to hit Israeli cities such as Eilat and Tel Aviv.” Eilat? What is Eilat occupying, other than an important place in the regional economy, especially that of both Jordan and Egypt?
And if they had carried out their attack, what next? Probably all out war, that’s what, and the targets would be Syria and Iran, those who supply the weapons. And, to be cynical, that would make a great story, wouldn’t it?

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Krugman, Meet Ricardo

After reading his latest article, I think it is time to reintroduce Paul Krugman to an eighteenth century economist named David Ricardo. Ricardo had this crazy idea that a person should concentrate on what they are good at; specialization is what he called it, and this went as part of an idea called comparative advantage, which he claimed would enlarge the marketplace for us all. He was, and remains, right.
Why should we remind Krugman of Ricardo? Because he is simply not specializing, and, in doing so, he is hurting the intellectual marketplace of ideas as a whole. Krugman is a brilliant economist, but a really bad journalist on political matters. Not that his ideas, on their own, couldn’t stand, but that he really has no clue about the world around him.
He writes, “All the information I’ve been able to get my hands on indicates that the security situation in Iraq is really, really bad.” Don’t you know how to use Google? If he did, he’d be able to read that Iraqis are turning against Moktada al-Sadr’s Iran-directed militia to restore order and strengthen the hands of the Americans. Or he’d know that there are numerous Iraqi bloggers who certainly think things are bad, but believe they are getting better all the time. But at the very least Krugman should remember that the occupations of Germany and Japan were not cakewalks, either, and certainly were not over and done with in a year.
So, if you happen to see Krugman, remind him that an economist’s first duty is gathering data–not unlike a journalist. Please tell him that, as an economist, he should know that short-run effects have little to do with long-run outcomes. And, finally, tell him to stick to what he’s good for. We’d all benefit, and he would not keep looking like an idiot.

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Article on Israeli Chairs and Why They’re Wrong Published

My article on Israel Studies Chairs, and why they won’t help, was published both in the Kol Columbia–Columbia’s monthly Jewish paper–and in Israel Insider. Here it is:
Rebalancing the Middle East
To fight the anti-Israel bias prevalent on many of America’s college campuses, a major push has developed among concerned Jewish university students, faculty and alumni to establish Israel chairs, or academics who focus on the study of Israel. NYU has an Israel chair in the making, Berkeley received a donation for a visiting professorship in Israel studies, and at Columbia, too, an intention exists of finding donors to back the creation of such a chair. The problem is that this focus on chairs in Israel studies as a solution to bias is misleading at best, and damaging to the cause of all those who seek balance in Middle East studies at worse.
It might seem illogical at first, to think that Israel chairs can further fuel anti-Israel propaganda in our classrooms and campuses. But after examining global trends in Israel coverage in the media, for example, one can clearly see that more discussion of Israel does not help Israel as much as it hurts it. Not because Israel does not have a legitimate point – I believe that, for the most part, Israel is fully justified in many of its actions, as long as the intention remains for two states for two nations. No, the reason is that Israel – and the professor that teaches about it – holds itself to a standard of integrity, while many of its detractors have no problem circumventing the truth.

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Wait for the Flip

Watch for the flip: I am hereby predicting–in an educated guess, wish I’m wrong sort of way–that the media will start to report the proposed Gaza pullback as the best thing that could have ever happened to the conflict if it does not go through. That’s right, only if it does not get approved by the Likud.
As the NYTimes reports, Sharon’s Gaza Pullout Plan May Face His Party’s Rebuff, and as of this writing the international media is still reporting it as some sort of ruse for Israel to grab more land.
But, I believe, if the Likud will vote it down, the press will do a 180, and report that the “hard-line Israeli right has voted to block any withdrawal from the territories,” and decided “to continue Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip.”
The sad part is that the international press has the ability to convince Israelis and even Likudniks to support the plan. Were the press to report the plan as a positive development–as the first real progress made by either party to end the deadlock–it could generate crucial international support for the plan and help convince the crucial Likud electorate that withdrawal from Gaza is a good move. But the press won’t do that, because, as Kristoff so aptly put it, they see Sharon as “that bloodstained figure embraced by President Bush as “a man of peace.” Too bad. We could have had the start of a Palestinian state in Gaza.

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The Want in Middle Eastern Culture

An incredibly interesting article in Haaretz, What have we written since the Bible? brings up the want found in Israeli culture–and also, if one would like to extend it, to Middle Eastern culture as a whole.
There has been a tendency by Israeli as well as Arabic scholars–both inside out outside of the Middle East–to rely on European models and philosophies, which is insulting, in a sense, to the regions rich intellectual history.
If anything, this is the true legacy of Western Imperialism, one which effects the decendents of the Hebrews no less than the followers of Muhammed. It is amazing to me that Arabic professors in the US, such as the late Edward Said and the current residents of MEALAC here at Columbia, speak more of Derrida and post-modernism than they do of the philosophic traditions of Islam. As for the decendents of Jacob, there is a slight return to intellectual roots by such scholars as Michael Walzer, but the mainstay of Jewish intellectuals are steeped in Europeanism.
I hope for a new intellectual era, one based on organically Middle Eastern values and concepts, formulated upon the backdrop of Near Eastern history, and not the history of Europe. Maybe the Journal mentioned in Haaretz will devote an issue to that, too.

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Reducing the Horror of the Holocaust

Comparing any lesser injustice to the Holocaust is simply revolting, and one would hope that Jews would understand that more than other people, but that is simply not the case. The latest example of the Holocaust being used as a tool for political discourse is a rally by Jews Against the Occupation, “Honor the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and Tear Down the Wall!” I put the entire text of the email announcing the action below, in the extended entry.
Here is a small quote: “Sixty-one years ago, on the first night of Passover 1943, an armed revolt broke out in the Warsaw Ghetto. The Jewish Fighting Organization held off the Nazi occupying army and delayed the ‘liquidation’ of the ghetto and its remaining population for weeks. While the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising did not bring down the walls which surrounded the ghetto, it has remained a symbol of resistance to oppression and occupation.”
Are these people sick? I know of no ‘liquidation’ of Palestinians, and no matter what you think of the “occupation,” there is nothing to compare between Israel and Nazi Germany. To make the parallel is to showcase your ignorance of the Holocaust.
Furthermore, one should be intelligent enough to differentiate between a border and a ghetto. The Palestinians aren’t being ghettoized, they’re being separated, which is what states do. They draw borders between them. Is the Mexico-US border an act of ghettoization of California?
I wish the organizers knew that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was carried out by Zionist Jews, from my youth movement in particular, Hashomer Hatzair. And Mordechai Anielewicz, my role model and hero, the leader of the Uprising, would have spit on these demonstrators. He did not rise up for his decedents to trivialize the Zionist movement.

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