Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jerusalem Synagogue Attack

Source: Heavy
"Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: I have been given superiority over the other prophets in six respects: I have been given words which are concise but comprehensive in meaning; I have been helped by terror (in the hearts of enemies): spoils have been made lawful to me: the earth has been made for me clean and a place of worship; I have been sent to all mankind and the line of prophets is closed with me. (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1062, 1063, 1066, 1067)"

Source: Answering Islam

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Addressing Antisemitism Today; Some Thoughts

I just received an email from a fellow scholar who is working on antisemitism. He asked for my thoughts. I typed up the post, below, very quickly.

Anyone concerned about antisemitism needs to realize that the world is changing rapidly on this topic.

Many of my students are black, Hispanic, first generation, and not at all acculturated into mainstream American life. They know hip-hop and they have street smarts but they don't know who John Adams was. They haven't been socialized with the kind of shame that was widespread in American culture after cultural leaders like Hollywood director George Stevens witnessed and filmed the liberation of concentration camps. Many of my students don't know, and more importantly don't feel the words "Never again."

Many of my students are often openly and unashamedly anti-Semitic. They take it for granted that Jews blew up the World Trade Center. They say so without any shame or hesitance. They aren't aware that there is any reason to feel shame or hesitance for saying such a thing.

The antisemitism they pick up often comes from inner city sources like the Nation of Islam and Muslims who inhabit the inner city alongside them. It is my subjective impression that antisemitism is stronger among African Americans, even those not affiliated with the Nation of Islam.

Anyone working on antisemitism right now needs to know that antisemitism is rife in current Muslim American culture.

This is my subjective impression. I was born in, and currently live in, Passaic County, which, I have read, has the second highest Muslim population in the US. I do not know if that statistic is accurate. I do know many Muslims.

Very nice Muslims have looked me right in the eye and told me that Jews are responsible for the majority of the world's ills. Have told me that Jews are responsible for everything that goes wrong in the Muslim world. Jews are behind ISIS. Jews were behind Mubarak. Very nice Muslims, people I consider friends, have looked me right in the eye and told me that when Muslims are ready, someday, they will kill entire populations of Jews. All the Jews in Israel, or maybe in the world.

I emphasize that nice people have said these things to me because no one should be so naïve as to assume that genocidal hatred of Jews and utterly irrational Jewish conspiracy theories are limited to screaming extremists. They are part of everyday life among many nice Muslims.

How many? I don't know. I haven't done the research. I just did a quick Google search and found a web page that includes the following quote:

"From the study, it became clear that the Muslims interviewed were more anti-Semitic than Christians in the United States and Canada. The average or mean test scores endorsing negative Jewish stereotypes – after statistically separating out anti-Israel sentiment items – were more than double those of North American Christians. When separating culture from religion, Arab Muslims came out as the most anti-Semitic. Arab Christians and Non-Arab Muslims from Bosnia and Pakistan were less so, yet still anti-Semitic. Mainstream North American Christians were not very anti-Semitic at all."

I can't vouch for this study or this page. It's just something I found doing a Google search. Here is a link.

I strongly recommend Neil J Kressel's book "The Sons of Pigs and Apes" review here.

I also recommend Andrew Bostom's "The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism" review here.

Anyone who really wants to address antisemitism needs to also address anti-Christian prejudice amongst Jews.

I am a non-Jew who is horrified by antisemitism. I am supportive of Israel – see my essay "Coming Out As Pro-Israel on Facebook" here. Many Jewish authors and speakers lose me – lose my support, my attention, and my interest, lose me as an ally – as soon as they open their mouths. Why? Because they are not so much about fighting antisemitism as about bashing and smearing Christianity.

This is a huge mistake on a factual level and a tactical level.

Jews make a mistake when they conflate antisemitism and Christianity. And Jews do it a lot. They do it because doing so is an identity-firming aid. As a minority in a largely Christian world, many Jews decide, "We are the folks who don't celebrate Christmas, and, further, the folks who celebrate Christmas are inferior, and are out to get us."

Melanie Philips lost me with her June, 2014 article in Commentary entitled "Jesus was a Palestinian: The Return of Christian Antisemitism." I knew she was trying to say something important, something I care about. I could not grok her message because I was so turned off by her gratuitous and false anti-Christian prejudice.

A very good Facebook friend lost me when she posted a web page that claimed that Catholics in Poland used to use Christmas as an excuse to murder Jews. The web page tried to look authentic. It purported to be recounting genuine history. It was a Jewish cultural website. I sent the link to Antony Polonsky, himself Jewish and the premier historian of Polish Jews. He said that the page was false.

My friend who posted the link to this bogus page is herself a highly educated woman. She's a physician. Yet she uncritically assumed that a made up story about evil Polish Catholics was true, without any evidence to back it up.

Those concerned about antisemitism should educate themselves about Christianity. There are verses in the New Testament that are critical of Jews; these verses are comparable to verses critical of Jews in the Old Testament. In fact the Old Testament verses are harsher. This makes sense; the authors of the New Testament were Jews themselves, with the possible exception of Luke, who may or may not have been Jewish. There are other verses interpreted to mean that the chosen-ness of Jews is unchanging (Romans 11:29). There is much discussion of these matters; the discussion means that disagreement is possible.

There are no verses in the New Testament that call on Christians to murder Jews, and Christians who have done so have done so in contradiction to the New Testament. Popes, bishops, and local priests have repeatedly commanded those Christians who were killing Jews to stop doing so.

Christian crimes against Jews have always been specific to a given set of geographic, historic, and economic circumstances. At the same time that Spain was a bad place for Jews, equally Catholic Poland was a good place for Jews.

European Christians who harmed Jews did so not in obedience to the New Testament, which counsels love, but rather more typically in response to an economic caste system. I hope anyone interested in antisemitism will read my own book, "Bieganski."

I think that those who want to fight antisemitism should educate themselves about Christianity and Christian antisemitism to better prepare themselves for the fight. I also think they should do so in order better to understand Muslim antisemitism.

Compare and contrast the Koran, hadith, and the example of Mohammed with the New Testament and the example of Jesus. Jesus never killed a Jew. Mohammed killed, tortured, raped, and enslaved Jews. Mohammed is Islam's "perfect example, worthy of emulation." The Koran describes Allah turning Jews into monkeys and pigs. A famous hadith, or saying of Mohammed, reports that the time will come when stones and trees will order Muslims to kill Jews hiding behind them.

There is no analog to the Good Samaritan story in the Koran. The Good Samaritan story, of course, demonstrates the Christian concept of universal brotherhood and love.

As for the myth that Islam was a tolerant place for Jews, quoting Wikipedia "Mark Cohen, Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, in his Under Crescent and Cross, calls the idealized interfaith utopia a 'myth' that was first promulgated by Jewish historians such as Heinrich Graetz in the 19th century as a rebuke to Christian countries for their treatment of Jews."

I mention these facts for this reason: If you think battling Christian antisemitism prepares you for battling Islamic antisemitism, you are naïve. Christendom has had leaders who preached against antisemitism. Christendom upholds scripture that counsels love. Christianity's founder was a Jew who killed no one. You confront a different reality in the Muslim world.

Some people conflate Christianity with Nazism. There is more about that in "Bieganski." The conflation of Christianity with Nazism is a big lie that distorts history. And it's more than that. It's a tactical error for those who want to fight antisemitism. People are amazed that antisemitism is rife on college campuses and among the Politically Correct, atheist left. They should not be amazed. If you say "Antisemitism equals Christianity," all atheists are absolved. I know people who are self-righteous, anti-fascist leftists who hate Jews and want Israel to be destroyed. They don't see themselves as anti-Semitic at all, because they equate antisemitism with Christianity, and they are atheists.

One last thing. We tend to be blinded by the concept of universal human progress. There is this idea that things are always getting better. This process is inevitable. This idea is so pervasive people don't even realize that they are subject to it. It is ingrained in language, eg, "That was then; this is now."

Bibi Netanyahu revealed that he is subject to the fantasy of universal human progress. In a September, 2012 UN speech, he contrasted the medieval – bad – with the modern – good. I wish I could grab Netanyahu by the lapels and remind him that there was nothing more medieval than the university, and nothing more modern than Nazism.

Universal human progress is a chimera. In fact the very worst things that we could imagine could happen tomorrow; they could happen right now. As many Jews as were murdered by the Nazis could be murdered again. There is a critical mass of hate in the world right now. We trivialize it at our peril.

I wish I could end on a more positive note.

Oh, let me add this positive Bible verse, "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Friday, October 24, 2014

Adam Zucker's New Film "The Return" in The Times of Israel. Bieganski, the Brute Polak is Dead ... Or Is He?

From Adam Zucker's new film "The Return" Source: Times of Israel
On October 24, 2014 the Times of Israel published "New Film Suggests a Bright Future for Polish Jews," about Adam Zucker's new film "The Return" about Jews in Poland today.

The interview is hopeful. Zucker rejects the Bieganski, Brute Polak stereotype of Poles as the world's worst anti-Semites.

Unfortunately, in the comments section, it's clear that many Jews cling to Bieganski. Examples below:

Samuel Emil Malul wrote, "'Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community of Jedwabne' by historian Jan T. Gross. An immaculately detailed book which shows how this horror occurred with practically no input by Germans, the delight of the Polish neighbors in torturing, pillaging, raping and killing. The execrable acts against the Jewish people in Poland during the war could never have taken place without the conscious intent of their Polish neighbors."

Tuvia Fogel wrote "As far as Jews are concerned, Poland is nothing but the biggest graveyard in the world. Who the hell would want to live in a cemetery?"

Daniel L. Remler wrote "Unfortunately the director, in the paragraph where he compares Germany and Poland, understates the amount of Polish anti-Jewish acts during the war. Yes, the Germans ran the show. Yes, the Germans did far far more. But anti-Semitic attacks on the part of Poles were not limited to just a a few 'incidents.'"

Eddie Belz wrote "When I was younger, I knew many survivors (including my Polish father) and they often spoke about how horribly anti-semitic their fellow Poles were."

elimhauser (sic) wrote "While anecdotal, the refugees from Poland I have met by and large affirmed that anti-semitism was a large part of being in Poland, as demonstrated by the various pogroms after the war as collaborating experience"

In the article, the director himself takes a very different position. An excerpt:

"By and large, anti-Semitism is really not a big deal in Poland. I mean, there are some events that take place and they’re usually caused by the same skinheads that are racist and homophobic and all those other things. What is more noticeable is the philo-Semitism, the love and fetishism of all things Jewish. You go to the JCC at Krakow, there’s no metal detector — anybody can walk in the doors. And that’s not the case at Jewish synagogues in France or Sweden or elsewhere. So, if you were to quantify anti-Semitism in Europe, which is in fact on the rise, Poland is definitely low on the totem pole."

Big, big dziękuję, thank you, and תודה לך to Liron Rubin, mother of the cutest baby I've ever seen, for sending me this link. With apologies to all other babies.

Read the full article here

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Comment on My Hate Mail

A note about my hate mail.

I published my first article about Polish-Jewish relations over twenty years ago. Since then, I have been receiving a fairly steady stream of feedback from readers. Some of it is positive and I am grateful for that.

Some of it is negative and some of it is hate mail.

When I have received hate mail about what I write about Polish-Jewish relations, I have always seen it as somewhat understandable. After all, World War II and Nazism were hell on earth. The massive human suffering involved is incalculable. Though time marches on, there are still people alive today who were direct victims and survivors of Nazism and Stalinism.

How World War II is remembered has an impact on how Poles and other Christians, Jews, and capital A Atheists as well define themselves, and how the world defines them. Legacy is a big deal. I understand that passions can become inflamed.

I am a birdwatcher. I think of birdwatching as an innocent activity, and a stress-releaser.

Recently National Geographic published an article saying that birdwatching and birdwatchers are racist.

I was stunned by this. It makes no sense. When I want to birdwatch, I pick up my binoculars, that I bought for about a hundred bucks over twenty years ago, and I look at birds. No one stops me. No one asks me my nationality. How on earth could this activity be racist?

I mentioned the article briefly to other birdwatchers online. I said I found the article "off base." Hardly an inflammatory statement.

I received hate mail. Serious hate mail. "You are a horrible human being; I will never speak to you again" style hate mail.

How could anyone feel inspired to write hate mail about birdwatching??? What is at stake? Why get so worked up? Who died? Who was tortured? For heaven's sake!

This experience made me think again about the hate mail I get in relation to Polish-Jewish relations.

Maybe it doesn't make sense.

Maybe some people are just angry and use anything as an excuse to foam at the mouth and shout abuse at others. Maybe it really doesn't matter what the topic is.

Maybe it is inherently as possible to be sane, rational, honest, and courteous in relation to World War II as it is to be sane, rational, honest, and courteous in relation to birdwatching. And maybe, conversely, it is as possible to be hateful in relation to either topic.

Dunno. Still gathering data.

You can read my response to National Geographic at the American Thinker website here.