43 thoughts on “Hanukah 2011: Days of Darkness – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. There is a tiny sliver of hope for the run-up to the election, as a couple of responses over at Mondoweiss have pointed out. And given the bias of the MSM it is only tiny – but look at Iowa. If Paul won the nomination for the Republicans the noose that Netanyahu has around Obama’s neck is loosened. How can the Israel firsters support Paul over Obama? It might be a whole new ballgame.

  2. This is the Israeli ambassador to the UN’s reply to the condemnation of settlements and settler violence: “While innocent citizens are being slaughtered in Syria, terrorist elements are operating freely in Gaza, UN forces are attacked in Lebanon and Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon – the Security Council is silent and paralyzed.”

    Even if we were to agree that there are more pressing matters that require the UN’s attention, how is it relevant?

    1. According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the fact that BA is beating his children to pulp, should keep the police from feebly condemning BB’s ever more cruel molestation of his step-daughter.

      Apparently, while you’re keeping the US Congress subservient, you can rewrite not only International Law but also commonsense.

      Here’s a MUST read opinion by one of the dwindling handful of brave Israeli broadsheet journalists, Amira Hass of “Haaretz”, who usually reports the otherwise-ignored atrocities in the occupied territories:

      (English) http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/palestinians-are-heroes-braving-israeli-dictatorship-1.402660

      (Hebrew) http://www.haaretz.co.il/opinions/1.1597048

  3. Please, Richard.
    You’re spreading mass hysteria.
    I’d advise anyone who thinks that the Israeli Democracy is dead to come here and see for one’s self whether this is so.

  4. Richard: I prefer to see it as a traditional winter festival coming in the deepest throes of cold and darkness. It serves to remind us that there is hope and light even then. That spring will return.

    So well said. When will the solstice celebrations be torn out of the grip of the worlds’ religions and returned to their rightful, secular purpose, which goes back before written language: celebrating the lengthening of the days.

    I am so weary of the annual tradition in the US of the right-wing bashing anyone who does not agree that Christmas should be a state-sponsored endorsement of Christianity. We need to return to Saturnalia where everybody forgets what religion they are for a few days and comes together to celebrate the religion of humanity.

  5. Sad to see you so pessimistic here about the future.

    Just eight years ago, you wrote:

    “I believe that peace can and will come not in decades, but in years–perhaps less than five years.”

    And this was at a time when a Sharon-led Likud government was just swept into power (with a RW coalition including National Union at that point).

    And just a few months after the suicide bus bombing in Haifa and the killing of Rachel Corrie in Gaza.

    I wonder – what has changed more – the direness of the situation or your perspective on it?

    Do you find it hard to believe that in 2003 you believed peace was maybe less than five years away?

    Must seem like a lifetime ago.

    1. I was more optimistic then because it appeared that there might be some pragmatism in Sharon’s approach. The Gaza siege, Cast Lead & the 2nd Lebanon were yrs away. Bibi was a 2nd tier politician in 2003.

      Bibi’s ascendancy has meant Israel’s decline & the collapse of all hope for a peace process.

      In fact I essentially no longer believe the Israeli political system is capable of resolving the conflict, which is much diff than what I believed in 2003.

      The situation is far worse than it was in 2003. My views adapted as the situation worsened.

  6. @Elisabeth I should have said, a returning Islamic winter. I don’t put much stock in what religion driven people have to say. Actions speaking louder than words.

    1. I am not sure what you mean with ‘returning’. Your term ‘winter’ clearly referred to a failing of the Arab spring that took place in Egypt and Tunesia. So were they in ‘Islamic winter’ before their revolutions took place?
      And do you really make excuses for an authoritarian Israel? (Surely you are not serious.)

      What is your point?

      1. By winter I mean the 1000 years Jews lived in poverty, fear and humiliation under Islamic rule.

        No excuses. I’ve made the personal observation that authoritarian governments have withstood invasions better than democracies.
        Stalin’s Soviets resisted the Nazis whereas France capitulated.

        1. Yr grasp of history is seriously deficient. Jewish life in Arab lands, while not perfect, was far more tranquil & productive than in Christian lands.

          Yr generalizations about democracies folding under military threat is similarly defective. Or have you forgotten that two democracies spearheaded allied victories in WWI & WWII: the U.S. & Britain.

          1. “… two democracies spearheaded allied victories …”

            Germans had lost 80% of their personnel on the Eastern Front during WWII.

            Facts are definetely not your strong side …

          2. Ditto. Much more freedom and prosperity occurred for Jews living under and as participants in the heyday of Islamic Civilizations from Spain to Yemen and on through Syrian and Iran.

        2. “poverty, humiliation and fear”??? When and where was this? I missed that class. Do you mean like Iranian Jews live in fear and humiliation? Is that what you mean? Or do you make it up as you go?

          1. Do Lybian Jews live in fear and humiliation? Do Egyptian Jews live in fear and humiliation? Do Iraqi Jews live in fear and humiliation? Do Saudi Jews live in fear and humiliation? Do Lebanese Jews live in fear and humiliation?

            Sounds like you’ve been missing a lot of classes…

          2. There are almost no Jews living in Arab lands so claiming that they live in fear in countries where they either don’t exist or barely exist is a misnomer. The reasons for this condition are complicated and involve a combination of anti-Semitism, Zionist provocation of anti-Semitic hoax attacks, and Aliyah-promotion designed to stampede native Jews to Israel.

            You of course focus on the period from around 1920-1970, when many Jews left these places, while I of course spoke of the overall history of Jews in Arab lands which lasted for a millennium or more. And I repeat that Jewish civilization in the Arab world flourished during this period, especially compared to the Crusades, Inquisitions, pogroms, and massive hatred Jews endured in Christian Europe during the same period.

            Turkish and Iranian Jews live reasonably well and comfortably in those two countries. While there are drawbacks to being Jewish in these places, conditions are nowhere near as bleak as anti-Muslim hasbarists like you make it out to be.

          3. That was precisely my point. They are all gone because of fear for their lives and daily humiliation.

          4. There is no question that historically Christians were much less hospitable to Jews than Muslims.

            However, it was never easy to be a non-Muslim in a Muslim land. With a name like “Siverstein” you should get a bit of education about Jewish history in Muslim countries.

            This video – “Farewell Israel: Bush, Iran, and The Revolt of Islam” – is a good primer. It explains political Islam rather well.

            This link talks about how Turks treat their Jews today: http://www.jewcy.com/post/betrayal_turkish_jews

          5. I don’t find Jewcy to be a credible source for much of anything. Even less so on this subject. I detest prejudicial far right terms like “political Islam” when used by propagandists like you in the way you are using it. It is borderline racist. Watch yr step.

          6. Yes, you are quite selective in your sources.

            What is clear is that minorities are protected under Islam.

            They are protected as long as they acknowldege their subservant position. It comes as a special tax, restriction on position in a society, and many laws and customs like prohibition on riding horses (their heads cannot be higher than that of a Muslim) or being pelted with stones after Friday prayers (and they could only run for cover, never to respond). This was daily HUMILIATION.

            Once they assert themselves, they would loose this “protection”. This what happened to Armenians, and later to Jews when Israel was established and then again later when Israel won the Six Day War.

            This is your history in a nutshell…

          7. Once again more racism.

            Do you have any rebuttal to the fact that most Orthodox streams in Judaism actually hold that Jews are genetically superior to non-Jews, a view also shared by Meir Kahane and his thousands of world followers. This is not just my opinion but one advanced by no less an authority than Prof Moshe Greenberg. Do you have any rebuttal to the inferior status in Israeli society for non-Jews? Not to mention do you have any explanation for the ten or so million Jews slaughtered over the centuries in Christian Europe?

            Which would you prefer, the eminent medical, scientific and artistic achievements of Jews in Arab lands over the centuries (Rambam, Ibn Gabirol, Yehuda Halevi, Ibn Ezra, etc.) or pogroms, inquisitions and holocausts in Europe?

        3. Joel, Stalin’s army was crushed initially by the Germans. Do you know why? His authoritarian regime had ‘cleansed’ itself of practically all capable officers.

          “The Red Army was already paralyzed by Stalin’s Great Purge. From 1936 to 1938, Stalin killed or jailed many competent military leaders. Around 30,000 Red Army members were executed, with even more sent to Siberia and replaced with politically reliable, though inexperienced soldiers. In 1941, 75% of the officers had held their positions for less than a year. They were ill-trained and reluctant to take initiative. They would not act without a direct order for fear of the firing squad. Stalin’s officers were better politicians than tacticians.”

          Do you really think a country where people are afraid to take initiative is capable of withstanding anything, let alone worth living in?

        4. Not to diminish the valor of Red Army, but the French could perhaps resist better if they could retreat to the vicinity of Madrid where Wehrmacht would be surprised by (to them) early and savage onset of winter.

          Mongols did pretty well in Russia before their numbers were drastically reduced by Black Death which somehow affected Slavic people very little, and it is worth to notice that they were perfectly adapted both to cold and to large distances. Luckily for West Europe, Mongols detested humid weather.

  7. About Syria: Syrian issues were debated and appropriate resolutions were voted upon, both in Security Council and Arab League. The claim that UN and other bodies debate Israel and ignore other issue is simply false.

  8. “I’d advise anyone who thinks that the Israeli Democracy is dead to come here and see for one’s self whether this is so.”

    You mean one can watch Israeli Democracy the way one can watch Lenin in Moscow? After standing in a long line, we can see a perfectly preserved mummy (or is it a wax figure? hard to tell when it is behind glass). Or even better: experience it. For starters, representatives of The People will recognize you as a “radical” and subject to several hours of checks and interrogations. Arrive at the airport 4 hours before the flight and dispense with false modesty. They do not shoot through laptops often, but just in case, leave your better laptop at home.

    A tricky part: how to describe the purpose of the visit? A wrong answer can deprive to the chance to “see for one self”. I guess that the answer “to see Israeli democracy in action, if possible, of course” would pick interest and be rewarded with a series of followup questions (to be answered to several agents, consistently if one can). What is my plan more specifically? Blow up Knesset? “I could not tell gun powder from poppy seed strudel!” Visiting representatives of Left Blogistan in Tel-Aviv to see how they exercise their freedom of speech? That may be one sided. Visiting Shalem Institute in Jerusalem? (An appointment may be needed. This is a very high class Hasbarah outfit, but perhaps too sophisticated to be in good graces with the current government.) Visiting cultural institutions of economically underrepresented minorities?

    1. An interesting detail that is somehow missing from this comment is that no one was ever forced to visit Lenin’s Mausoleum and no one is forced to visit Israel.

      Since part of this thread is dedicated to the history of world wars, it is appropriate to mention that it was French who learned that their generals were always preparing for the previous war.

      The current “war of ideas” is being fought in people’s minds on web pages like this one. Thus, I am glad that Israelis realize this and that the “representatives of The People” are doing their job.

        1. I am in an army of one. But I can easily take on a dozen of people like you because I am fighting for truth, and in the end truth always wins.

          I must also add, that I have yet to meet a person who is being paid to comment in support of Israel. It is an invention of anti-Israel brigades who cannot stand an honest intellectual debate and have to “moderate” comments from people like me – as you are doing it now.

          1. I don’t like you, your attitude or the fact that you hear what you want to hear & disregard the rest. This isn’t a baseball game, nor a soccer match. I don’t appreciate yr obnoxious attitude. You will be moderated. When yr comments are relevant and substantive they will be published. When you offer lies & historical revisionism as you so often do, they will not.

      1. I did not make any impression of someone being forced to do either. I was just pointing out practical difficulties involving in a visit to Israel to see the democracy in action as advised by “Sane guy”. Israeli security agencies use web prowling to find about activities and views of potentially “radical” visitors and I got some airport experience what happens if you fall into some “suspicious” profile.

        Interestingly, defenders of “Israel as it is” are split into two sets. One claims that democracy is doing just fine. The second claims that who needs democracy? Russia resisted better than France etc. The two claims are not inconsistent: yes, we still have democracy, but we are working to get rid of most impractical aspects like tolerating the seditious speach or NGOs, or annoying members in the Knesset, or Supreme Court that has some highfalutin ideas about universal justice (rather than applying Jewish values and traditions). You will be able to call it Democracy Turbo. Or democrazia alla Putinesca.

  9. Just a few winter thoughts.

    I grew up quite a bit north from Israel. Traditionally, some seasons were regarded as more cheerful and some as more dreary. Winter was a cheerful season bracketed by late Fall and early Spring, two dreadful seasons of almost constant drizzling rain. As a child you read about “children are happy, snow is falling from the sky”. Time for sleds, snowmen and snowballs. In historical novels, winter was a time when peasants could get some rest (not that many novels about peasants though), noblemen would ride around, mounted or in sleds, make merry or make war. Winter was the best time for both. During dreadful times roads would be barely passable or worse. Then everybody was busy. But winter was a time when nothing could stop men on good horses and with sleds.

    Then there was early Spring again, and some peasants would die of hunger.

  10. A few facts re. the Eastern Front, if I may. While its true, that the Russian soldier was hardy soul, he needed boots to march in. The leather (and in many cases, the boots themselves) was provided by the United States. While the Red Air Force was able to field some excellent aircraft who’s performance was equal to or surpassing that of the Luftwaffe, this wouldn’t have been the case without the high-octane aviation fuel that the Soviet Union was incapable of producing and was therefore provided by America & Britain in copious amounts. The Red Army in 1941 was notoriously deficient in the area of communications. By 1943 they were already well supplied by the US with millions of miles of insulated-copper telephone wire, field phones, and pack radios. Without SPAM the Russian soldier (not to mention his wife and kids back in Moscow and Leningrad)would’ve starved to death. In short, without The United States and Britain, the U.S.S. R. would’ve been SOL and Hitler would’ve been vactioning in Odessa.

    1. There is no question that the US had contributed in materials, food products and some weaponry to the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. However, this happened after the US “was entered” into the war – after Pearl Harbor and after Germany declared war on America.

      By 1943 Soviets repelled Germans under Moscow and defeated them in Stalingrad. The fact that Germans had air superiority for most of the war makes these victories even more important.

      We can go back and forth on these issues. The simple truth is that the main Soviet demand for the Allies to open the second front was only satisfied in 1944, when the Soviet territory was already liberated from the Nazis.

  11. “… when the Soviet territory was already liberated from the Nazis.”
    Which could not of been accomplished without the aforementioned supplies, einstein. The defense of Kursk (the quintessential example of defense in depth) and the subsequent offensives (the operation against Army Group Centre in 1944, for example) that took place directly afterwards would not have been possible sans effective radio and telephone communications. Re. German air superiority on the eastern front. By 1943 many of Germany’s best pilots (as well as the cream of the flight schools) had been redeployed to defend the reich against Bomber Command and the Eighth Airforce. And while qualitatively speaking, the german pilot was superior to his Red counterpart, his aircraft frequently failed in performance in combat at altitudes of 15,000 feet and under (the “sweet spot” where most air-to-air combat took place on the Eastern Front) Quantitatively, the Luftwaffe weren’t playing in the same ball park with the Red Airforce after 1943. So while achieving a certain tactical superiority, it was a moot point against a reconstituted Red Airforce that numbered almost 50,000 operational aircraft by 1945. Again a state affairs, that simply would not have been possible without massive Allied assisitance in aircraft, aviation fuel, rubber, etc, etc.

    Back to the stacks, history buff.

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