Israel, Middle East

I am Done Apologizing For Justice: A Response to Rabbi Menachem Creditor

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The Following is a response to the Essay “I’m Done Apologizing For Israel” written by Rabbi Menachem Creditor. That essay can be found here:

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-menachem-creditor/im-done-apologizing-for-i_b_5606650.html

The Palestinian people are done apologizing for daring to not be Jews. Ever since the Western Imperial powers gave into pressure from the Conservative Christian, Zionist Jewish, Cold War Hawk and Corporate lobbies and recognized Israel, the Middle East has been most troubled and violent of regions. After the evil that was the Holocaust the Western Powers made “never again” their mantra and bought into the absurd and racist ideology of imperialist Zionism as a way to assuage their own guilty consciences for not acting to save the Jews of Europe when they had the chance. It did not hurt that the West now had a non-Arab/Muslim foothold in the oil and gas rich Middle East, a foothold in the form of an expansionist, violent nation that owed its very existence to Western support and eventually largesse. Eastern European Jewish survivors of the horror that was the Holocaust joined with wealthy zionists from the diaspora and forged a nation whose only legitimate justification could be found in a covenant with an unknowable deity which led to an ancient campaign of genocide and brutal expansionism against a native pagan population described in a 3,000 year old book of religious fables and theology. Using intimidation, economic exploitation and outright terrorist tactics (like those of the Stern Gang and others) the zionists were able to force a conflict which led to the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Arab Palestine to make way for Zionist settlement and expansion.

The Palestinians were forced to flee, forcibly evicted from their homes and property and in many cases were outright killed. Many ended up in ghettos and many more in refugee camps in poor and despotic nations that did not want them. The colonizers, who named their “nation” after the ancient semitic Kingdoms of Israel & Judea, broke their promise to the international community, and to the Palestinians themselves, by refusing to compensate the dispossessed Palestinians for their land and property and by refusing to allow them the right to return to the land of their birth. Many of these Palestinian Arabs had lived in the area for generations, even centuries. They had lived in peace, or at least in absence of conflict, with Jews, Christians and others for centuries under Ottoman authority. This was their home and the Zionist colonizers stole it from them based on a mythical contract executed by a mostly mythical man with an invisible and implacable god. This new nation went on to defend itself against an Arab world that saw a threat in the powerful, colonizing, advancing and Western backed ethno/religious state. That a crime had been committed against the Palestinians was never denied, indeed some Israeli leaders admitted that the Palestinians had legitimate grievances against their conquerors. David Ben Gurion himself stated

 

A people which fights against the usurpation of its land will not tire so easily… it is easier for them to continue the war and not get tired than it is for us… The Palestinian Arabs are not alone. The Syrians are coming to help. From our point of view, they are strangers; in the point of law they are foreigners; but to the Arabs, they are not foreigners at all … The centre of the war is in Palestine, but its dimensions are much wider. When we say that the Arabs are the aggressors and we defend ourselves — this is only half the truth [...] the fighting is only one aspect of the conflict which is in its essence a political one. And politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves [...] The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country, while we are still outside.

 

The Zionist vision has always been an imperial vision, a vision of an ethno-religious liberal republic (at least for those who bow down to overall Jewish superiority in the nation) built upon the territory of people who are seen as “occupiers” of a land they and their ancestors worked, improved, and lived on for generations. Zionism in its most militant form is remarkably similar to Nazism: it is based on a conception of race & heritage that is completely artificial, it is based on the idea of a national living space for a growing and virile master race, it is militaristic and based upon the appropriation of land thought promised to the chosen race under a spiritual, moral covenant that is coherent only to those whom it benefits. These two ideologies create aliens out of people who have lived within the land for all their lives, creates terrorists and militants out of people fighting for their lives, their dignity and their land, and makes hypocrites and charlatans out of a proud Jewish people who have historically fought for dignity and for the right to live in peace.

It is said that those who are hurt in turn hurt others…if we look from this perspective the Zionist mission is understandable if not forgivable. That the Jewish people, or at least a large segment of them, wish to do to Palestine what the Americans did to the Native Tribes, what the Spanish did to Native Empires of South America, and what the Chinese did to the kingdoms of central and southern Asia, is understandable if not forgivable. But 3000 years of imperialist wrongdoing does not make what Israel did and continues to do to the Palestinian people right. As desperate, as violent, as seemingly misguided as the resistance against Israel by the Palestinians is, and as foolish, opportunistic and bigoted as their chosen representatives, like Hamas, are, that does not mean the Palestinian fight is any less righteous, any less just. If Israel has the “absolute right” to defend itself, then what of the Palestinians, the ones who are truly dispossessed? A cheap rocket coming from Gaza is a weapon of terror but a million dollar bomb dropped from a billion dollar Israeli F-16 is righteous and justified by the “facts on the ground”? Were the Afrikaaners justified in keeping the native population of South Africa in check? Was the African National Congress and other black African groups “terrorists” for violently resisting their oppression and the theft of their land? If we say that Israel is morally justified in its mission in Palestine then what basis do we have to deny the same stamp of approval to what the Whites did in South Africa? Remember that the ANC was once known as a terrorist group and Nelson Mandela and his fellow Black African freedom fighters were as vilified and hated as the leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are today. It is moral relativism of the most disgusting, the most self-serving sort to give the mandate of a just cause to one while rightfully condemning the other as an international embarrassment.

And now we have Rabbi Creditor with his cloying, solipsistic and morally repugnant apology for his support of the Zionist cause. We are asked by the author to pity him for having to defend the actions of an international pariah who has defied the international community and waged aggressive war against the people whose land they occupy. We are told were are “anti-Semitic” (a tired intellectual strawman if there ever was one) for daring to point out atrocities committed in the name of a nation claiming the mandate of heaven. We are told that because the Israelis treat some of the scores of people, mostly civilians and children, they maim and slaughter with weapons of war they extreme violence should be excused. We are told with a straight face that people in a crowded city that has been blockaded for a decade who shoot rockets into a nation with nuclear weapons and missile defense systems is a sign that the latter nation is “under-siege”.  We are told that a group, as odious as it may be to some, chosen in internationally recognized and administered democratic elections to represent the Palestinians of Gaza is “illegitimate” and must surrender this authority because it dares fight back against an occupier. We are told that lack of enthusiastic support for the nation of Israel is essentially the same thing as morally condemning all Jews, everywhere. To coin a phrase—enough of this mashugana!

To equate the great Jewish people of the world and all that they have given to the shared cultural and scientific heritage of earth with a violent, xenophobic and imperialist nation state is an insult to Jews everywhere and throughout time. The real, and totally disgusting, crimes committed against Jews as a people do not justify the actions of the nation of Israel nor do they add any legitimacy to its theological justification for existence. To admit this fact is not to commit any violence against the Jewish people. Jews must be held to the same standards of moral culpability and agency that every other nation is, or should be, held to. Rabbi Creditor, and anyone who supports imperial violence, xenophobic hate and ethnic cleansing under whatever banner it chooses to wave, should have to apologize, and vociferously at that, for such support. I, and millions of others, are done apologizing for our pursuit of justice for the people of Palestine under siege.

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Literature

The Devil in Cordoba

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My grandfather’s sister, his older sister, the matriarch of the family back when those titles meant something, well she used to tell me this story of the Devil and Men of Cordoba: The city of Cordoba was in the midst of a famine from a failed harvest. The nobles and the landlords and the rich merchants had pushed the farmers and the peasants to produce more and more from the land, and the common people demanded more and more cheap produce and material, and soon the land was exhausted, the herds were depleted and fruitful nature gave-way to waste land.  The peasants fled to greener pastures and left the fields fallow. The residents of Cordoba, the poor along with the rich, had never even seen a plow before, never herded a goat out in the pastures! How would they survive? Many, all the rich men and many of the workers and the poor, wished to abandon city life and learn to work in the fields and the remainder, some of the workers, the poor and the scholars and artists, wished to save their cultural wealth and heritage and move to another city. There was great hubbub in the streets as everyone argued his or her point.

Well it was then that the Devil decided to visit Cordoba. He was idle and bored and felt like getting up to no good, so he spoke the entire city in a dream, and gave them a choice: he could turn them all into goats, but they would roam about and feast and never go hungry or suffer from want OR they could stay in the city, kept in by an enormous, deep crevasse, and suffer from want at the whims of nature but be able to create a beautiful city and become the wisest group of people on the earth? Well as the devil expected, most of the city, especially the rich and the merchants and the landlords, chose to become goats and live a life of blissful plenty out in the fields. The rest chose to remain trapped in the city, and transformed themselves into wise scholars and artisans with the great library of books as well as workshops full of paints and tools and jewels and scientific instruments given them by the Devil (who they knew as the voice in their dreams). They had but one small garden and a small herd of cattle and pigs and a well of water to last them all year, and when this was used up they would have to make do with what little they were able to save, or they would starve.

Things went on like this for awhile; the goats got fat and happier by the day while the newly minted wise men of the city created wonderful works of art and made great scientific breakthroughs. The city was more beautiful and more prosperous culturally than it ever had been, with libraries and temples to art and public mosaics and paintings and cafes for smoking and talking of ideas great and small. There were observatories and Universities and music halls and galleries full of sculpture and beautifully woven textiles. There were laboratories where scientists devised brilliant concoctions and devices. The people praised the voice in their dreams that had brought them this bounty. All the while the devil laughed and watched as the supplies of the city withered away to nothing. Soon the city dwellers were hungry, with just barely enough food to keep them alive. Everyone felt the terrible pangs of want and the craving for taste beyond the watry grain mash and preserved meat they had to live on. Many began going onto the walls of the city and looking out over the crevasse at the goats in the fields: the goats, now pot-bellied and their coats shining and full, the luscious grass, the squash and peppers in the field, the low-hanging figs and pomegrantes from the trees, the beautiful clover flowers and dandilions and they lapped up the sweet honey that dripped from the beehives. The manure that the well-fed goats produced fed the fields and the orchards and soon a wild bounty spread all around the city from horizon to horizon, kept and supplied nutrients by the goats and designed by nature. It was a paradise…a paradise that was forever out of reach to the.

To a person the city fell to its knees and called upon the voice to once more visit them in their sleep that night. The Devil, laughing and having a gay time watching the travails of the people of Cordoba, once more he made himself heard in the dreams of the people. He asked them if they were happy with their choice? All save for a handful said no. He then gave them the option of joining their friends in their friends, as goats, in the paradise below…OR he would give the people the means to solve their food crisis once and for all, scientifically, but they would not know when, if ever, they would make the breakthrough. All save for a handful asked to be made goats, and so they were. They joined their fellows in the gardens and fields on the other side of the ravine and gambolled about happy as can be. The handful of wise people left behind were given more books, more tools and supplies, but even less food than before. But this time the people left behind decided that instead of trying to attempt the impossible by bringing forth food from nothing but scientific equipment they would instead attempt to address the problem in a more straightforward way. They tore all of the wood from their homes, the market stalls, the shutters on the buildings and cut down the few fruit trees they had. It seemed at first to be a foolish way to solve a problem of hunger, but soon the wise people had used their scientists to figure out the width of the crevasse, they used their engineers to put together a plan for a bridge to span it, they used their artisans to build the bridge and they used their scholars to document how it was all done so that no one would ever again have to figure it all out from scratch.

The people left in Cordoba, for the most part those who had started out poor, uneducated, overworked, or under-appreciated for their talents, but who were now refined, intelligent, hard-working, imaginative and humbled by their time of want and hunger, walked out across the bridge and into the fields. Lesser minds would have run about and ate their fill but these wise people, schooled by years of want and hunger as well as study and experimentation, instead took it on themselves to study the land, make an account of what grew where and how and in what volume. They built a great fence around the gardens and the fields and the orchards and they kept the goats out there to manure the fields and check the growth of weeds. The fatter goats they milked from whence they made cheese and cream, and the older, less able ones they humanely slaughtered for meat. From their study they had found the best diet for active minds and productive bodies, and they made sure that the land was not overused nor and so that there were never too many people to feed they kept diligent records of the growth and decline of the population.

These well fed, well housed, and hard working people were able to devote more and more time to the pursuit of art and music and making the city a beautiful place. None made profit from another man’s toil and all were able to share in the bounty of nature, a resource that would last generations under their learned and wise husbandry. Cordoba became the greatest of all cities and the people were happy and proud of their society. The Devil laughed and slapped his knees at his sport: he had a hand in creating a near perfect society. All it took was a few impatient folks deciding life would be better as a mindless, well fed goat.

 

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Atheism, Feminism

Towards A Feminist Atheism

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I will start this post with a few simple statements of fact: society is and has long been misogynistic and many people within that society are personally misogynistic to one degree or another, knowingly or not. Atheists are part of that society, and the Atheist movement is a part of society…therefore some elements of the Atheist movement, and some individual atheists, will be misogynistic. It is not an condemnation of a movement of which I am a proud part to point out this fact.

I was not always as aware of misogyny and feminism as I am not, and I am nowhere near close to the end of my education on the topic. I can say that growing up with three incredibly intelligent and independent minded sisters and a very feminist father and an incredibly supportive and liberal mother really shaped my views of women, men, and society. I grew up without knowledge of patriarchal religion and I was never taught that being gay or trans* was in anyway different from my own sexuality. I was unschooled (i.e. I directed my own education at home with the help and support of my parents) until I started attending community college classes at the age of 16 so it was not until then that I even realized that people had a PROBLEM with other people’s sexuality. It had just never been something that seemed to me as a “difference”. People love. That is what I was taught. I know now how lucky I was to be raised this way, that most people do not get to go their entire childhood without encountering damaging hate of differences in people. I also know now how very naive I was. I think m autism had part in this…I tend to see people as uniform unless I really get to know them. It is literally almost impossible FOR me to see difference sometimes! That is one thing about my autism that I do like

I am now married to a wonderful, intelligent, gorgeous feminist atheist woman. She has also opened my eyes as to how women are viewed, and abused, in society. She is a pin-up model so I have seen firsthand how people, especially men who claim to be “open-minded” try to shame her for daring to be proud of her body and to take control of her sexuality. Her strength in the face of this sort of judgement, even at times from her own very conservative Catholic family, is inspiring to me and has moved me to look into more about feminism and issues of justice for women and for the rest of society.

I am a feminist not just because of the women in my life but because of myself, my own feelings, and the men in the world who are degraded and poisoned by patriarchal views. We raise boys to be rough and stupid and dense and to ignore their feelings and the feelings of others. We assume that any man who can express his emotions, admits when he is in pain, or stands up for women is a “pussy”. We also tell our young boys and men that gay, bi, and trans* men cannot, by definition, be masculine or strong and that masculinity is the ability to dominate and control others through physical power and manipulation. Women are the focus and the chief targets of the controlling grip of patriarchal mechanisms but both women AND men are the walking wounded; many men do not even understand how much their own minds and emotions have been hampered, even crippled by the social disease that is misogyny.

A case in point: the backlash against atheist blogger and activist Rebecca Watson when she dared to tell her story about being sexually harassed by a man (an atheist man) at a conference. Many male atheists, including one of the self-important “patron saints” of the “New” Atheism, Dr. Richard Dawkins, attacked her as essentially a whiner and  other claimed she was undermining the Atheist cause (whatever that may be) by DARING to suggest that any freethinker could be a misogynist. Dawkins even suggested it was NATURAL that women will be constantly harassed, propositioned and given unwanted physical attention in public, even at a place where the participants declare their moral superiority to Religious misogynists. Skepchick blogger Sarah Moglia even reported that Dawkins threw a temper tantrum and blacked-balled Watson from speaking at the popular Atheist conference The Reason Rally! ( http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2013/09/05/richard-dawkins-blackballed-rebecca-watson%EF%BB%BF-from-speaking-at-the-reason-rally/)

Needless to say Rebecca Watson (and many others who do not have her fame or name recognition) fought back and stood her ground and in her case she become a leading voice in the Atheist community. This was after hundreds of rape threats, death threats, and insults online and in person. The idea that Atheism somehow inoculates men against being misogynistic is absurd and dangerous: it causes freethinkers to believe in a sense of moral superiority that is unearned and also causes the real issues facing women in the Atheist community to be ignored, laughed at or dismissed. We claim to be better than the senseless, reason-free hate and prejudice of the religious world. That claim is made laughable and impotent if we continue to ignore the problem of patriarchal ideas and misogynistic tendencies within the Atheist movement.

In my own personal experience, mostly in the Atheist groups I am part of online, I am constantly seeing some men, not all by any means, attack and belittle women who dare raise issues about patriarchy or who even use the word feminism. It is as though some atheist men think of themselves as beyond such petty concerns. I believe the truth is that when a woman brings up issues of misogyny and feminism it scares some men and forces them to confront the prejudices within themselves that they want to, need to, believe they do hold. Atheism is not served by believing that atheist are a priori morally superior in all issues or beyond the prejudices that infest and poison society as a whole. One of the major Atheist groups I was once a part of on Facebook, AANR (Atheists, Agnostics, & Non-Religious) is positively FILLED with people who harass women, degrade them, demand nude photos and even actively proposition them through messages and in person. Women were often ridiculed or appreciated only for the physical attributes that these men found desirable. There was even a supposedly “tongue and cheek” meme on the site where if someone brought up an issue, especially women, they would be confronted with this not too subtle misogynistic threat: TOGTFO. What does that mean? “[show us your] Tits Or Get The Fuck Out”. This misogyny was one of the reasons I left what was once the largest atheist related group online. This sort of vile misogyny is not limited to AANR buy any means; all around the internet and in groups in the real world, women are gaslighted, harassed, sexually objectified and taken less seriously just because of their gender. This has got to stop.

I am writing this not because I think I am immune to misogyny or patriarchal thinking. I am not. I am sure I have abused my privilege in the past and I probably will in the future. But at least I am aware of my own failings and want to overcome them. I want all atheists, men and women, to overcome this issue too. We are a remarkable community of intelligent, activist, largely kind and empathetic people who can have an enormous influence on society for the better if we choose to. Far too many atheist men have bought into the easy moral capitulation that is the MRA movement. NO MORE. Let’s decide that we are NOT yet past the demons that haunt the rest of society. Let us instead aim to lead by example and try and take on misogyny and patriarchy as a unified and progressive movement. We can create a better future for all of us. Feminist Atheism should not be a bad word.

NO MORE shaming women

NO MORE using slurs against women

NO MORE dismissing the concerns of women because they are women

NO MORE assuming that we are morally superior by virtue of our atheism

NO MORE using atheist groups, meetups, and conferences as a way to try and get sex from women

NO MORE supporting atheist luminaries like Richard Dawkins who refuse to confront their own prejudice

NO MORE treating feminism, patriarchy, and misogyny like they are four letter words

No. More.

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Immigration

Some Excerpts From a Debate on Immigration

CALIFORNIA-FAMILIAS INMIGRANTES

The following is from a debate I had only with a xenophobic anti-immigrant fellow. I have removed his name for privacy’s sake.

A. [Redacted], you are being defensive and calling out everyone for attacking you for correctly characterizing your opinions and views as bigoted and xenophobic. Does that make you a bigot or a xenophobe? I don’t know. Only you know that. In other words stop whining. No one is forcing you to enter this “den of leftists” (and I am sick and tired of right wing people trying to dehumanize their opponents by calling them by random nouns… “the leftist” “the illegal”…just shut it…we are all human) 

B. English is not and has never been the official language if the USA. We have no official language. We have always had different languages spoken in this nation and government documents have been printed in multiple languages for generations now and last I checked the Chinese have yet to invade. 

C. I would always wish to be on, or even err on, the side of social justice and openness. If that means a small expense to us blessed, pure blooded, “native born” people then so be it. I am willing to live with your discomfort Angel. 

D. There is no evidence that the people coming into this nation are any more crime prone then any other random assortment of people. On the contrary, immigrants, both documented and undocumented, have a lower crime rate then native citizens. Don’t take my word for it though…I got this info from a few minutes of searching the FBI crime statistics database. It is laughable for those racists in Murrieta, California to call the “illegals” criminals…these are babies, toddlers, and their mothers. They meet the federal definition for refugee status, and that is why they were being taken to federal processing centers: to ASSESS THEIR STATUS. So what the protesters were ACTUALLY doing was disrupting the legal process of finding out who these people are, their status, and what do do with them. They are disrupting the very thing they are calling for. So they are not just racists, they are fools as well. 

E. WE CREATED the crisis in these Central American countries that is leading these people to flee. The gangs that run rampant in the streets there are tools of the corrupt governments that we have propped up and funded for years at the expense of democratic and social justice oriented movements in this nations. Look at what we did in El Salvador with the literal death squads, in Nicaragua, in Guatemala. We are reaping what we sowed during the Monroe Doctrine fueled imperial backed corporate land grab perpetrated by this government under both Democrats and Republicans since at least the early 1800′s. We have a responsibility to these people and we owe them at least a fair chance at asylum. 

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Activism, Autism

Autistic: What I am Not

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I need to start standing up for myself more as an autistic person. I am sick of people who think they know better about how to handle my condition and my life then I do. Just because you “knew a guy” who won the Nobel Prize and was autistic does not mean I should be able to hold down a job at a super market without having a nervous breakdown every week. Everyone tells me what I am capable of without even listening to me about my capacity or my struggles. I often go on about what I am on this blog, what I do, what I think, and what I am capable of. I have decided it is time to stand up for myself and declare what I am not.

I am not “lazy” because I can’t function emotionally or mentally in the general work force.

I am not “weak” because I have a hard time processing emotions and am easily overwhelmed by the emotions of others.

I am not “stupid” because I cannot understand some math concepts and have a hard time with my handwriting and communicating verbally at times

I am not a “child” because I require the emotional support and protection of my family and enjoy being near them and having them in my life

I am not “sad” because I have depression that comes from dealing 24/7 with a brain that does not understand or function well in a world made for neurotypical minds.

I am not a “freak” or a “savant” because I excel at retaining information and discussing my area of expertise.

I am not a “failure” because I could not get through college after 4 years of striving and pain and intense mental focus.

I am not a “recluse” because I prefer to stay at home where I feel most in control and safe.

I am not “anti-social” because I cannot handle large public gatherings and can only handle one or two friends at a time.

I am not what you want or need me to be

I am Autistic and I don’t have to apologize for that to anyone.

So shut up, listen up  have some fries with that Assburger

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