Exile and the Prophetic: Forget the ‘fiscal cliff’ — could Israel fall off the American political cliff?

US Politics
on 23 Comments

This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

What’s a Jew of Conscience to do, especially when Obama’s (Jewish) politics leaves us out in the cold?

Being off the political radar screen is definitional. It depends on whose radar screen we acknowledge, who owns the radar and whose setting the field of vision. Historically speaking, those who set the parameters of political action one day may be sitting on the sidelines the next.

Everyone’s political shelf life is up for grabs. That’s why President Obama is already thinking about his legacy.

Message to Obama: If you don’t establish a legacy soon, in four years you might be wandering around the beaches of Cape Canaveral, albeit with your Secret Service protection in tow.

Think of Mitt Romney’s political future. In his victory speech, the reelected President suggested that he and Mitt should meet together as a show of bipartisanship. A meeting would help establish a fraternal tone for the difficult ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations ahead.

Message to Obama: You’re on your own. Romney has already fallen off the political cliff. No one in the Republican Party wants to be seen with him. His political reach is less than a freshman Congressman that was elected a few days ago.

Could Israel fall off the American political cliff? Through hard political work or some miracle, could Palestinians rise from the barren valley of American politics so they would even have a remote chance of one day being pushed off the cliff? You see, you can only fall if you’re somewhere on the political radar.

It’s a political hazard to ascend the American political enterprise. The risk is summary execution. Yet it’s worse to be in the political valley on a permanent basis. Tasting the fruits of upper mobility is intoxicating. Everyone should have a taste, even if it eventually turns bitter.

The attitude necessary for upward mobility is extreme. To begin with, you have to adopt the pretense that the services you are provided are debts others owe you. If you’re successful over the long haul, you come to believe your preeminence is an entitlement.

Enjoy, you’re entitled! More or less, that what we Jews believe today. On the economic front, on the cultural front, on the Holocaust memorial front, on the Israel front – we’re entitled. This sense encourages a politics of entitlement. Yet like political figures, entitlement politics has a shelf-life. Each year a community tastes the fruits of entitlement, the community draws nearer the cliff.

Entitled communities are already close to the cliff. They have to be since they’re busy pushing others off the cliff to maintain their place in the entitlement pecking order. This gives added meaning to the aphorism – ‘In politics proximity is everything.’

Does the ultimate bitter fruit of upper mobility teach lessons for a future politics of justice and compassion? As Jews we haven’t faced this question in the longest of times. Until we come face to face with our entitlements, arrogance is our default option. When we’re dangling off the cliff perhaps our attitude will change. By then, it will be too late.

Can President Obama help Jews face our arrogance of power? If only he admonish us, that like every community, the arrogance of power has limits.

It’s hard for the President to provide this caution when he governs a nation that doesn’t learn the lesson we Jews need to learn. Any sign of Obama backing down on American ascendancy will encourage another round of the first term ‘apology tour’ hecklers.

In politics, the notion of a ‘moral’ cliff doesn’t exist. Only a fiscal or military cliff will do. In the President’s campaign speeches – indeed in the entire election season – we heard over and over again how America’s military and economic power in the world is only preface to America’s real power. That power lay in America’s ideals, goodness and compassion.

Obviously, these are rhetorical flourishes. President Obama communicates well the possibility of combining the two. Realistically speaking, however, no individual, community or nation can exist on ideals, goodness and compassion. Nor should anyone have to rely on others for the actualization of these same values. Every person, community and nation needs a modicum of power to protect and project itself.

As human beings and societies, we’re already too close to the political, economic and environmental cliffs of life. We need each other to survive and flourish.

President Obama’s background is a great teacher for himself and others. Our Jewish background is a great teacher for ourselves and others. Then why, when we finally have power, do we neglect the lessons that might provide an interdependent empowerment with others? Perhaps Obama can call us back to the lessons our history teaches before it is too late.

Such a call presupposes that President Obama himself is a learner and enactor of the lessons his background teaches him. The bind he’s in as a moral cliff teacher is being caught within a system – a system he leads – that systematically denies all of us of living that example.

Now that the election is over, Jews of Conscience support President Obama’s when he presses Netanyahu and Israel. But just as reelection support for Obama was predicated on dropping the Israel/Palestine issue, do Jews of Conscience have to drop – at least for this moment – the wider critique of American foreign and domestic policy?

In short, you can’t demand that Obama fight the fight of fights against the Jewish establishment – where, again, there isn’t any politically viable constituency to support him – and be nipping at his heels on other issues or on the limitations of his Israel confrontation.

In the political world, you can try to have your political cake and eat it, too, but it usually doesn’t work that well. If Jews of Conscience keep their full critique of American power and its Israel policy against such political head winds, advocacy for justice in Israel/Palestine will remain on the sidelines of politically viability – as political viability is defined now.

In the end that’s the Israel/Palestine issue dilemma in its American nutshell: Can political viability be redefined? If this isn’t difficult enough, add the time factor. How much time is left?

In Gaza, Noam Chomsky was right – only a two-state solution is possible. Noam Chomsky’s critics were also right – the two state solution is foreclosed.

In Washington, the closest to Chomsky is the administration but they’re so far away it’s like they exist in alternative universes. Despite all of the administration’s possible blustering, President Obama would settle for respectful talks between Israelis and Palestinians as ‘confidence building measures.’

You know where that leads.

Israel should sign on to this – for the next two years. Realistically speaking, that’s all the time Obama has anyway.

Meaning – freeze things where they are, more or less. Or better, expand Israeli power within the ‘freeze.’

Politics is the bridge between gaps.

Could the gap be wider?

About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is retired Director and Professor of Jewish Studies at Baylor University and author of Burning Children: A Jewish View of the War in Gaza which can be found at www.newdiasporabooks.com

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23 Responses

  1. DICKERSON3870
    November 10, 2012, 4:54 pm

    RE: “Despite all of the administration’s possible blustering, President Obama would settle for respectful talks between Israelis and Palestinians as ‘confidence building measures.’” ~ Marc Ellis

    MY COMMENT: During this upcoming four years, the Israeli-Arab conflict will be Obama’s “Chinatown”. Expect to see a heavily camouflaged policy of “benign neglect”.

    FROM THE 1974 FILM CHINATOWN:

    Evelyn Mulwray: “Tell me, Mr. Gittes: Does this often happen to you?”
    Jake Gittes: “Actually, this hasn’t happened to me for a long time.”
    Evelyn Mulwray: “When was the last time?”
    Jake Gittes: “Why?”
    Evelyn Mulwray: “It’s an innocent question.”
    Jake Gittes: “In Chinatown.”
    Evelyn Mulwray: “What were you doing there?”
    Jake Gittes: “Working for the District Attorney.”
    Evelyn Mulwray: “Doing what?”
    Jake Gittes: “As little as possible.”
    Evelyn Mulwray: “The District Attorney gives his men advice like that?”
    Jake Gittes: “They do in Chinatown.”

    SOURCE – SOURCE – link to imdb.com

    P.S. “FREE DON” SIEGELMAN PETITION – link to change.org

  2. DICKERSON3870
    November 10, 2012, 5:40 pm

    RE: “Enjoy, you’re entitled! More or less, that what we Jews believe today. On the economic front, on the cultural front, on the Holocaust memorial front, on the Israel front – we’re entitled. This sense encourages a politics of entitlement.” ~ Marc Ellis

    A MID-AUTUMN EVENING’S MUSICAL INTERLUDE, proudly brought to you by the makers of new Ziocaine Über-Xtreme®: It’s guaran-damn-teed to make you feel entitled!™

    . . . Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man
    His enemies say he’s on their land
    They got him outnumbered about a million to one
    He got no place to escape to, no place to run
    He’s the neighborhood bully . . .
    . . . The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land
    He’s wandered the earth an exiled man
    Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn
    He’s always on trial for just being born
    He’s the neighborhood bully . . .
    . . . Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
    That he’ll live by the rules that the world makes for him

    ’Cause there’s a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
    And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac
    He’s the neighborhood bully . . .
    . . . Now his holiest books have been trampled upon
    No contract he signed was worth what it was written on
    He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth
    Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health
    He’s the neighborhood bully . . .
    . . . What has he done to wear so many scars?
    Does he change the course of rivers? Does he pollute the moon and stars?
    Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill
    Running out the clock
    , time standing still
    Neighborhood bully
    ~ Lyrics by Bob Dylan, 1983 (the year following the Sabra and Shatila massacre that occurred in Lebanon under the watchful eyes and flares of Gen. Ariel Sharon* and the IDF)

    SOURCE (ENTIRE LYRICS): Neighborhood Bully Lyrics, by Bob Dylan, 1983 – link to bobdylan.com

    NEIGHBORHOOD BULLY, ISRAEL TV, ORBACH [VIDEO, 05:49] – link to youtube.com

    * FROM WIKIPEDIA [Sabra and Shatila massacre]: (EXCERPT) . . . The Kahan commission found that Ariel Sharon “bears personal responsibility”,[10] recommended his dismissal from the post of Defense Minister and concluded that Sharon should not hold public office again, stating that:

    It is our view that responsibility is to be imputed to the minister of defense for having disregarded the prospect of acts of vengeance and bloodshed by the Phalangists against the population of the refugee camps and for having failed to take this danger into account when he decided to have the Phalangists enter the camps. In addition, responsibility is to be imputed to the minister of defense for not ordering appropriate measures for preventing or reducing the chances of a massacre as a condition for the Phalangists’ entry into the camps . . .

    SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

    • DICKERSON3870
      November 10, 2012, 5:56 pm

      P.S. SPEAKING OF THE “NEIGHBORHOOD BULLY”, ALSO SEE: “Israel is becoming a bullying and violent place”, By Avi Shavit, Haaretz, 11/24/11
      Without universality, rules of the game and understanding of liberal democracy, Israel is becoming a bullying and violent place.
      LINK – link to haaretz.com

    • DICKERSON3870
      November 10, 2012, 6:06 pm

      P.P.S. ALSO SEE: “Bob Dylan – The Rolling Stone Interview” (by Kurt Loder – 1984)

      [EXCERPT] . . . • Q – Your latest album, ‘Infidels;, is hardly subteen fodder. Some critics have even detected a new note of conservatism in some of the songs — even outright jingoism in “Neighborhood Bully” in which the metaphorical subject is said to be “just one man” whose “enemies say he’s on their land.” That’s clearly a strong Zionist political statement, is it not?
      • A – You’d have to point that out to me, you know, what line is in it that spells that out. I’m not a political
      songwriter.
      Joe Hill was a political songwriter; uh, Merle Travis wrote some political songs. “Which Side Are You On?” is a political song. And “Neighborhood Bully,” to me, is not a political song, because if it were, it would fall into a certain political party. If you’re talkin’ about it as an Israeli political song – in Isreal alone, there’s maybe twenty political parties. I don’t know where that would fall, what party.
      • Q – Well, would it be fair to call that song a heartfelt statement of belief?
      • A – Maybe it is, yeah. But just because somebody feels a certain way, you can’t come around and stick some political-party slogan on it. If you listen closely, it really could be about other things. It’s simple and easy to define it, so you got it pegged, and you can deal with it in that certain kinda way. However, I wouldn’t do that.
      Cause I don’t know what the politics of Israel is. I just don’t know.
      Q – So you haven’t resolved for yourself, for instance, the Palestinian question?
      • A – Not really, because I live here.

      • Q – Would you ever live in Israel?
      • A – I don’t know. It’s hard to speculate what tomorrow may bring. I kinda live where I find myself.
      At another point in the song, you say, “He got no allies to really speak of,” and while “he buys obsolete weapons and he won’t be denied…no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side.” Do you feel that America should send troops over there?
      No. The song doesn’t say that. Who should, who shouldn’t — who am I to say?
      • Q – Well, do you think Israel should get more help from the American Jewish community? I don’t want to push this so far, but it just seems so…
      • A – Well, you’re not pushing it too far, you’re just making it specific. And you’re making it specific to what’s going on today. But what’s going on today isn’t gonna last, you know? The battle of Armageddon is specifically spelled out: where it will be fought, and if you wanna get technical, when it will be fought. And the battle of the Armageddon definitely will be fought in the Middle East. . .

      SOURCE – link to bobdylantalks.blogspot.com

      • DICKERSON3870
        November 10, 2012, 6:24 pm

        P.P.S. BOB DYLAN (CIRCA 1965): “He not busy being born is busy dying.”
        ♦ Bob Dylan – It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) [VIDEO, 07:33] – link to youtube.com

        MY COMMENT: Sadly, it appears that Bob Dylan stopped “being born” quite some time ago – perhaps about the same time Chabad got its hooks into him.

        ● FROM THE INTERNET:

        [EXCERPT] . . . According to the Sue Fishkoff book “The Rebbe’s Army”, p.167, Bob Dylan is one of the biggest names associated with Chabad. In the early 1980s, Chabad “rescued” Dylan from a brief flirtation with Christianity, and for several years, Dylan studied with Minneapolis Rabbis Manis Friedman and Moshe Feller, whom he visited also for Shabbat dinners. Dylan made a surprise appereance at the 1988 and 1989 Chabad telethons, once playing “Hava Negila” out of tune on the harmonica. . .

        SORCE – link to youtube.com

        ● ALSO SEE: “Inciting to kill Obama: Another Judeofascist from Chabad”, by Larry Derfner, +972 Magazine, 1/21/12

        [EXCERPT] Chabad is the largest, most energetic Jewish movement on earth, and it gives a place of honor to people like Andrew Adler, the ‘Atlanta Jewish Times’ publisher who suggested that the Mossad kill Obama.
        Unfortunately, Chabad enjoys this heimishe image for bestowing yiddishkeit on Jews the world over, holding Passover seder for young Israelis traveling in the East, laying tfillin at the airport – strictly mitzvah-doers. The other side of Chabad – the violent, Jewish supremacist side – is less well-known. Maybe that will change now, though, with the op-ed by Chabadnik Andrew Adler, publisher of the ‘Atlanta Jewish Times’, who suggests that Israel assassinate Obama so it’ll be free to bomb Iran. (Disclosure: I wrote about Israel for the Atlanta Jewish Times in the 1990s, years before it was sold to this lunatic.) . . .

        ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to 972mag.com

        P.P.P.S. I wonder if it ever crossed Mr. Adler’s addled mind that a disturbed individual might see his column; and acting pursuant to Adler’s premise, try to do to Obama what Jared Loughner did to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords?

      • DICKERSON3870
        November 10, 2012, 6:56 pm

        ● RE: “Inciting to kill Obama: Another Judeofascist from Chabad”, by Larry Derfner, +972 Magazine, 1/21/12

        ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to whattheysayaboutisrael.blogspot.com

      • DICKERSON3870
        November 10, 2012, 6:39 pm

        P.P.P.P.S. ALSO SEE: “U.S. publisher who called for Obama assassination proves ‘Israel-firsters’ exist”, by Yossi Gurvitz, +972 Magazine, 1/21/12

        [EXCERPT] . . . Adler has since issued a non-apology: “I very much regret it, I wish I hadn’t made reference to it at all,” he told the JTA. It is worth noting that Adler is a Chabadnik, i.e. a member of a religious faction which has already shown an unhealthy interest in assassinations. Harry Shapiro, a Chabadnik, was convicted of planting a pipe bomb in a synagogue visited by Shimon Peres in Jacksonville back in 1997. A leading Chabad rabbi in Israel, Dov Wolfa, has flirted with the supporters of Yigal Amir, Rabin’s assassin. I think it is safe to assume that an Islamic movement with this sort of record would find itself under, shall we say, intense scrutiny by the authorities.
        Now, no one would mistake me for a supporter of either the Netanyahu government or Israel’s out-of-control security establishment, but I am certain that had anyone suggested such a covert operation to Netanyahu, that person would be fired on the spot. And that even had Netanyahu entertained such an idea, the leadership of Mossad would submit their resignation rather than going along with the plan. What Adler wrote was a fantasy, unrelated to Israeli reality.
        Which, alas, is true about much of what Jewish Americans think of Israel. However, Adler did prove a point, albeit not one he intended: He showed us that there are, in fact, American Jews who are “Israel-firsters”, that is, people who put the interests of Israel ahead of their own country. In Adler’s case, to the point of supporting the assassination of his own duly-elected president
        – which skirts very closely to treason . . .

        ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to 972mag.com

    • DICKERSON3870
      November 14, 2012, 7:25 pm

      RE: “. . . Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill
      Running out the clock . . .”
      ~ Bob Dylan’s lyrics from Neighborhood Bully (see above), 1983

      FROM ALISTAIR CROOKE, London Review of Books, 03/03/11:

      [EXCERPT] . . . Israel’s vice-premier, Moshe Ya’alon, was candid when asked in an interview this year: ‘Why all these games of make-believe negotiations?’ He replied:
      Because … there are pressures. Peace Now from within, and other elements from without. So you have to manoeuvre … what we have to do is manoeuvre with the American administration and the European establishment, which are nourished by Israeli elements [and] which create the illusion that an agreement can be reached … I say that time works for those who make use of it. The founders of Zionism knew … and we in the government know how to make use of time.

      SOURCE – link to lrb.co.uk

  3. RudyM
    November 10, 2012, 5:41 pm

    Am I really reading this correctly? This is pretty stunning:

    Now that the election is over, Jews of Conscience support President Obama’s when he presses Netanyahu and Israel. But just as reelection support for Obama was predicated on dropping the Israel/Palestine issue, do Jews of Conscience have to drop – at least for this moment – the wider critique of American foreign and domestic policy?

    In short, you can’t demand that Obama fight the fight of fights against the Jewish establishment – where, again, there isn’t any politically viable constituency to support him – and be nipping at his heels on other issues or on the limitations of his Israel confrontation.

    In the political world, you can try to have your political cake and eat it, too, but it usually doesn’t work that well. If Jews of Conscience keep their full critique of American power and its Israel policy against such political head winds, advocacy for justice in Israel/Palestine will remain on the sidelines of politically viability – as political viability is defined now.

    It must be a great comfort to Obama, and the U.S. military/intelligence machine, to have voices like yours calling off potential critics.

    Personally, I can’t see how a situation like this would constrain me from speaking out against U.S. foreign policy in general (even if I were Jewish).

    Aren’t you, in effect, asking American Jews to be Jews first and Americans second, even if it’s a mirror-image of the Israel-first approach to being Jews first Maybe American Jews have more responsibility to do something about Israel/Palestine than about other foreign policy issues, but does this cancel out a responsibility to address other foreign policy problems?

    As much as I see Zionism and Zionist penetration of the U.S. government (and closely related corporate entities in the very large gray area between the corporate and the governmental) as a major issue, there are independent actors pushing toward empire (and possibly some sort of world government, or at least a push to greatly limit democracy and override it with corporate-friendly regional agreements).

    As for Obama, I neither voted for nor supported his re-election. While I’m glad Romney lost, Obama did not deserve to win. He has crossed too many of my red lines, and I will not assent to his attack on my rights as a U.S. citizen (an attack he may not have started, but which he has certainly continued).

    My guess is we are all kidding ourselves here anyway, and this country needs a serious uprising of some sort, though I certainly have no clue as to exactly what might work or how to pull together the disparate elements within the U.S. But we need to change a lot of things at once, so we don’t, for instance, feel the pressure to be politically realist and give Obama a free pass on everything else (in foreign policy) while he supposedly tackles Zionism. I want to say “Revolution!” but I don’t exactly have one I believe in.

    And it’s only those with little or no power who can’t have their cake and eat it too. The powerful do it all the time, something we should resent.

  4. seafoid
    November 10, 2012, 6:10 pm

    “In Gaza, Noam Chomsky was right – only a two-state solution is possible.”

    Who is qualified to say “only x is possible” ?
    Is Gaza supposed to be sustainable ?

    What is Gaza anway? Isn’t it just a holding pen for all the southern Palestinians who didn’t belong in Judistan ?

    Regarding Jewish access to the levers of power :Every generation considers itself different to its predecessors and its circumstances permanent.

    link to online-literature.com

  5. yourstruly
    November 10, 2012, 7:42 pm

    to President Barack Obama
    online via mondoweiss.net

    Dear Mr. President,

    recognizing that it’s not your fault, but still, the fact is that, for whatever reason, be it chance or destiny, if one’s goal is to change the world, what good luck, being in a position, wherein, just by making the right decisions, presto, turnabout & at long last we’re down off this here moral cliff & heading towards the just and peaceful world. Your bringing about a resolution of the Mideast conflict, for example, especially since all it’ll take to end this conflict is for the government of the U.S. of A. to sever its special relationship with Israel, while, at the same time, coming out for justice in Palestine. And I’m sure you’re aware that resolution of the Mideast conflict will accentuate peace to the region, a peace that will prove irresistable elsewhere, whereupon, presto, the turnabout will be underway, thanks, in no small manner, to your efforts on behalf of the 99%. Afterwards you will be remembered as the person who, rising to the challenge, made the key decisions that helped usher in a new age, the age of goodness and compassion, where one equals one.

  6. Matthew Graber
    November 10, 2012, 9:57 pm

    “Politics is the bridge between gaps.”

    I’m still reading Judith Butler’s latest, “Parting Ways.” The word “agonist” popped up today, and I needed to look that one up in a dictionary or two. I searched a bit longer, and the closest word that I know to agonism is jihad. But I’m ignorant to the jurisprudence and praxis of both words.

    Then I was thinking of some wordplay.

    The gulf between the socialist ideal of equality and contemporary suffering is eclipsed by agonists and jihadis.

    May or may not be correct. What do others think?

    “Politics is the bridge between gaps.”

    • LeaNder
      November 11, 2012, 1:21 pm

      The word “agonist popped up today, and I needed to look that one up in a dictionary or two. I searched a bit longer, and the closest word that I know to agonism is jihad. But I’m ignorant to the jurisprudence and praxis of both words.”

      I wish, I knew were you encountered the word.

      αγω (Greek: ago, spelling? ) to lead, to drive forward, to head, αγωνιστής, (agonistes?) in old Greek the athlete, the contestant, the competitor, champion. In German it would be much easier to find the correspondent term, over here the word survives as a not much used word with the old Greek meaning. At least that is what my school Greek-Germany dictionary tells me.

      Jihad: From the US perspective or at least the temporary US usage, or perversion if you like, of “jihad” would be the one challenging the US actor champion. Thus: Agonistes would be the righteous leader, the good, the “jihahadist” would be the opponent from the righteous leader’s perspective, and thus the evil.

      No idea, if that worked, I at least I tried.

      But strictly I met the word too twice, not too long ago and never wasted a thought on it. So thank you.

      Seems you are correct in English even my Webster classes it only with some kind of expert medical usage probably some type of “agent”.

      But I’m ignorant to the jurisprudence and praxis of both words.

      Do words need jurisprudence? What they may have are sources [ if they look strange they may be Greek or Latin for us Germans, although in English you probably do not feel the Latin origins much any more, ] and usages.

      You make me check the OED.

      • LeaNder
        November 11, 2012, 1:34 pm

        shit, I noticed “jihahadist” too late, now that may well be a Freudian slip. ;)

        haha, I of course meant “jihadist”.

      • Inanna
        November 11, 2012, 9:57 pm

        You know, I wonder if we Arabs will ever get the word ‘jihad’ back. My major exposure to it growing up was in sermons in church where the priest would use the word ‘jihad’ to talk about our internal spiritual struggle. I wonder if we can reclaim it?

    • LeaNder
      November 11, 2012, 1:51 pm

      It must exist in English too, I had Milton at the back of my mind, but I wasn’t sure it really was the title, you and me just do not have the right type of dictionaries:

      John Milton, Samson Agonistes, there is a link to the word “agonist” too.

      • Shlomo
        November 13, 2012, 6:19 am

        “Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man” by Garry Wills.

  7. Citizen
    November 11, 2012, 1:46 pm

    How could Israel fall off the American political cliff?
    Rafi Eitan to Obama: Free Pollard! link to israelnationalnews.com

  8. Citizen
    November 11, 2012, 2:03 pm

    What cliff?
    Here’s the scoop: Next Stop: Syria link to veteransnewsnow.com

    • Shlomo
      November 13, 2012, 6:51 am

      It’s like watching an international horror show directed by others. One by one the West (abetted by Saudis) is destroying secular governments. The lies told are obvious and predictable. Yet the madness goes on, led by supposedly bright people who should know better. Yet it’s as if history doesn’t matter. Even those who study it seem condemned to repeat it.

      What happens when radicals left alive in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, etc. unite and march against the West? Armageddon? Is that fated to happen?

      Cassandra foresaw the future but was not believed.

      Many today foresee coming madness (brought on by Western ignorance and arrogance, graft and greed) but can do little about it.

      What to do? Is there beer and TV enough in the universe to distract us?

  9. gamal
    November 11, 2012, 9:58 pm

    “Yet it’s worse to be in the political valley on a permanent basis. Tasting the fruits of upper mobility is intoxicating. Everyone should have a taste, even if it eventually turns bitter.”

    This is the most offensive piece of nonsense i have read in a long time, because
    a) Upper Mobility, political, social and economic is always the result of injustice, rather than extra-IQ points, or cultural valuing of education, or any other such imponderables, and is always achieved via discrimination, oppression and pillage.
    b)The valley aint so bad, I am as I always manage living in an area currently that is reputed to be dangerous and suffering from manifold social crises, white people with whom i interact always adopt a look of serious concern when my address comes up, and yet this area with its, Abo’s, Torrres Straighters, Polynesians, Lebo’s, Assyrians and others is remarkable for the qualities of the people, not intoxicated with privilege, they have all the sterling qualities, that i aspire too but can not really accomplish.
    c) to find the taste of “Upward Mobility” sweet you have to be about as shallow and materialistic as it is possible to be, and purblind to boot, if this were prophetic vision I will certainly follow the Jesus of the gospel of Barnabi, “Oh Andrew, if the eye be not guarded it is impossible not to fall headlong into lust”, it doesnt turn bitter its bitter from start to finish, even if you are lauded and can fuck everything that moves and receive the salutes of the obsequious . “Upward Mobility” call it what it is domination, injustice and contempt, you can have my turn, i pass. As Muhammad remarked “There will be those who merely learn the science of religious diction and sell their knowledge to Kings and Princes………but you will get nothing from Kings and Princes save sins to commit.” Towards a Jewish Theology of Subjugation, perhaps.

  10. Shlomo
    November 13, 2012, 7:49 am

    > “Upper Mobility, political, social and economic is always the result of injustice…

    Say what? Improving one’s station is double-plus ungood now? Why? Most times our starting position is based on birth or other uncontrollable fates. Why stay stuck there?

    Such thinking sounds like Cornell Westspeak. Within 30 seconds of opening his mouth that man WILL burp “xenophobia.” Like clockwork. It’s like he’s programmed, endlessly channeling H. Rap Brown. Interesting at first. A tad boring 40 years later.

    > “b) The valley aint so bad….”

    Depends. The one the Light Brigade entered wasn’t so hot. :>)

    There’s a certain safety in under-achieving, no? For starters, it eliminates failure. No gain, no pain.

    Some push themselves too hard. Others leave the brakes on too long. Only the individual can know what works for him/her.

    > “this area with its, Abo’s, Torrres Straighters, Polynesians, Lebo’s, Assyrians and others is remarkable for the qualities of the people…”

    Well, every group has its bad apples. Priests and pimps ply the same earth.

    There are fine folks in gated communities, too. Money doesn’t lessen a person’s innate worth. In fact, it’s naive to think poverty ennobles the soul (like thinking one must suffer for art when the opposite is true). Wealth doesn’t automatically corrupt. Life is not that simple.

    > “not intoxicated with privilege, they have all the sterling qualities, that i aspire too but can not really accomplish.”

    Not sure what that means. “Privilege” varies with one’s viewpoint. And culture. In some tribes, for example, you attain status by burning possessions. In another, you do something else.

    Also, an important question is what one does with “privilege.” Take Oskar Schindler, for example.

    > “c) to find the taste of “Upward Mobility” sweet you have to be about as shallow and materialistic as it is possible to be”

    Again, how so? And why so? Also, what is “materialistic”– wanting a warm house?

    Why not live and let live?

    Living like a bum is not virtuous. Even those who swear vows of poverty depend on others NOT doing so. I mean, somebody has to earn the alms that get given away.

    Seems to me it’s mostly a question of balance and barriers. That is, how much does one need to be happy? And what barriers obstruct that need?

    > “Upward Mobility” call it what it is domination, injustice and contempt…

    Again, sounds far too simplistic. Is a drunk lying in the gutter better off than someone with a decent job, health insurance, and nice apartment? Is having an HD TV now viewed as sinful?

    Swedes and Swiss, now viewed as nice and neutral, were once both fierce military powers. And Tibetan monks used poor children for work and sex slaves. So it’s hard to know national/personal souls externally.

    Some of the craziest, bitterest, meanest people I’ve ever met were “religious.” On the other hand, some of the funniest, kindest, smartest folks have been “non-believers.”

    And vice versa.

    Similarly, many world leaders SAY peace, love, democracy, human rights, etc. motivate them, yet they COMMIT rape, murder, land-theft, enslavement, and so on. And they will see no contradiction. So it’s hard to judge behavior (not to mention assess value) based solely on resumes and rhetoric, degrees and definitions. Some will seek status to fill holes in their souls. the emptiness caused by lack of love. Similarly afflicted people may do the opposite and avoid all forms of status. Not because they are “above” the pursuit, but because they don’t feel they deserve the prize.

    Someone born down in the dumps might just find his/her redemption by striving upwardly. Only s/he will know for sure.

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