DEBATE – Anti-Semitism: myth or reality
Good evening book lovers and wisdom seekers.
As some of you have realised the title of this debate morphed slightly since I initiated it. The discussion was first titled ‘Anti-Semitism, A Myth or A Threat.’ We are now supposed to engage in a dialogue on ‘Racism, a Myth or a Threat.’
Ladies and gentleman, this shift in the title is, actually, more significant than it first appears. It is actually a manifestation of our confusion and fear of looking at Jewish identity, politics, culture and ideology.
There is no doubt amongst scholars that Jews, as a group, derive from multiple ethnic origins and are far from a homogenous race. There is no racial continuum between a Polish Jew and a Yemenite one. But it is also obvious that Jewish political culture, whether Zionist or ‘anti’ is ethno-centric and, to a large extent, racially driven. Just like Israel, the Jews-only State, Israel’s Jewish opponents too often prefer to operate within Jews-only organisations such as ‘Jewish Voices For Peace,’ ‘ Jews for Justice,‘ etc’. In short, whether they are Zionist or ‘anti,’ Jews somehow prefer to operate in ethnically segregated racially oriented political cells.
The conclusion is obvious -though Jews are not a race, Jewish identity politics is racist to the core.
We can now rephrase the title of the debate slightly and ask whether Jewish racism is a myth or a threat. Let me tell you straight away, this won’t lead into an interesting discussion. Jewish racism is evident and it is certainly a threat.
Five million ethnically cleansed Palestinians can confirm that this is the case. Their brothers and sisters that stayed behind, against all odds, can tell you about Israeli ethno- centrism and racially discriminatory laws. Even here, in the UK, my Palestinian friend, the poet, Naiad Izzat, was expelled from a Palestinian solidarity group by so- called good Jewish socialists just for saying what she thinks about Jewish culture and politics. So here is another embarrassing conclusion. Jewish racism is easily visible as a threat but for some reason we cannot address it in the open.
I guess that by now we are ready to tackle the initial topic of this debate. Anti-Semitism, is it a myth or a threat?
Let us first make sure that we understand the terminology involved.
At a certain stage, largely at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, some elements within European intelligencia were fascinated by Darwinism and its political applications. It was then that opposition to Jewry adopted a racist rationale. Some political thinkers and movements were clearly opposed to Jews just for being Jews. Such opposition could be recognized as an essentialist tendency that is racially driven and is often tagged as anti-Semitism. However, I believe that this rationale had been defeated by the end of WWII.
As a leading commentator on Jewish identity, I am closely familiar with pretty much every critical text related to Jewish politics. I can confirm that I have never come across contemporary opposition to Jewry that is blood or biologically related. I can’t point to any body of work or political call to oppose Jews for being Jews. But I have seen many texts that criticise Jewish racism, culture and politics.
You will have to ask yourself, maybe for the first time, is cultural criticism wrong? Is political criticism a crime? Should a certain kind of politics be free from criticism? Elaborating on these questions may lead us to a better understanding of the notion of Jewish power. Jewish power isn’t solely the manifestation of the dominance of certain Jews within our political, cultural and financial landscape. Jewish power is primarily the capacity to stop us from discussing the true meaning of such Jewish dominance.
We tend to believe that politics of any kind must be subject to thorough criticism. We don’t stop ourselves from criticising the BNP or David Cameron. We do not seem to hesitate before we criticize the Muslim Brotherhood, but try to comment on Ed or David Miliband’s support of Israel and the Zionist project. Alternatively make an attempt to question what is the meaning of the Jewishness of the Jewish State. You will quickly face a wall of resistance, and may end up subject to a smear campaign by the so-called progressive Jews. The truth is that Jewish power, i.e. the aggressive attempt to conceal the real meaning of Jewishness, is actually maintained by the Jewish Left.
The Kosher Trinity and the Jewish Quantum Mechanics
We will now try to grasp the mechanism by which this suppression of political criticism has taken place.
Due to emancipation, secularization and the rise of nationalism, European Jewry went through a radical transformation during the 19th century. By 1897, we saw the formation of two Jewish nationalist movements. One was Zionism – a promise to ‘civilize’ the diaspora Jew by means of resettlement in Zion (Palestine). The other was the Bund – a ‘socialist Jews only movement’ that demanded the rights of a nation for the Yiddish people in Eastern Europe.
Israeli historian Shlomo Sand argues that these two movements contributed towards the invention of the ‘Jewish Nation.’ It was the invention of the Jewish nation that brought about a new kosher trinity – as opposed to theo-centric rabbinical Judaism,- modern Jewish secular identity is related to Race (a biological bond), Nationalism (a common narrative) and Religion (a fantasy of common beginnings and heritage referred to as Yiddishkeit ).
The kosher Trinity is coherent and consistent, yet a sinister amalgam. Let’s, for instance, examine the Zionist call: as a race ‘the Jews are victims,’ as a Nation ‘they deserve a place under the sun’ and for their religion ‘this place must be Zion.’
Although many Jews operate politically, and in most cases aggressively as Jews, they somehow defy any criticism of themselves in the name of racism and religious intolerance.
When you criticize Israeli policy, the Zionist Jew will denounce you as a racist. When you disapprove of the racist and supremacist tendency entangled with Judaism and the Talmud, the progressive Jew will accuse you of religious intolerance. But when you expect the cosmopolitan Jew to uphold his alleged universal commitment to humanity and to remove himself from his Jews- only progressive cell and join humanity for real, you are immediately blamed for being intolerant culturally, religiously and even a racist.
What we see here in practice is a new form of Jewish Quantum mechanics. The political Jew is everywhere and nowhere at once. The political Jew is a dynamic and coherent and yet, somehow blurred. You can never comprehend what it is or where to find it exactly, but you can be sure that it is somewhere within an imaginary tri-polar magnetic field that is formed by Jewish racism, aggressive nationalism and vague and versatile Jewish religious adherence. The Jewish political subject is bouncing endlessly between these three magnetic forces. It is never standing still, it is never found in one place -it moves, morphs and adapts
May I admit that so-called anti-Semites may skip the above physical metaphors and instead refer to the Jew as a chameleon. Interestingly enough, Woody Allen’s Zelig may as well be a cinematic attempt to deal with this Jewish morphic condition.
Now, let’s face it. At least theoretically speaking there is nothing wrong with being racially oriented, we do not campaign against Blacks who celebrate their blackness. Nationalism can be an uplifting feeling and religious rituals can purify the spirit. But, unfortunately, none of these positive potential characteristics can be ascribed to Jewish identity politics. Tragically, modern Jewish politics is always celebrated at the expense of someone else. The Zionists plundered Palestine, the Neocon suffocates Arab land with ‘depleted’ uranium shells in the name of morals, the good cosmopolitan Jew rushed to Spain to kill Catholics and burn their churches in the name of the ‘proletariat’. As I speak to you tonight the Jewish lobby here in Britain, America and France is pushing for war against Syria and Iran.
I came here today to address the question of whether anti-Semitism is a myth or a thereat. My answer is simple. The opposition to Jewish power is neither a myth nor is it a threat. It is actually a primary humanist and moral duty.
The Jewish State and its dedicated lobbies are threats to world peace. To oppose Jewish power and to understand its operational mode is an ethical imperative. And it can also save the Jews.
Jews are pretty gifted in bringing disasters upon themselves. Jewish history is a spectacular chain of horrid holocausts. And if there is something Jews fail to do, it is to look in the mirror and admit some faults. Instead of taking responsibility for their past and future, Jewish culture and politics can be understood as a successful attempt to blame others. It is somehow always the ‘anti-Semitic Goy’ who is at fault.
Peculiarly enough, early Zionism was a rare Jewish attempt to look in the mirror. A few Jewish intellectuals such as Herzl, Nordau and Jabotinsky looked in the mirror and were devastated enough to admit that something was indeed problematic in the Jewish social condition. They diagnosed a Jewish cultural malaise but their remedy proved to be a complete failure.
Whether Jews can look in the mirror and self-reflect is an open question. However, criticism of Jewish power and culture is an ethical must, it is a necessity. We owe it to ourselves, to our kids and to future generations. I guess that it would be also right to suggest that those who are tagged as anti-Semitic nowadays, are simply brutally honest people, often enough, of Jewish origin.
Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
In Nigeria, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half of a Yellow Sun has helped inspire new, cross-generational communication about the Biafran war. In this and in her other works, she seeks to instill dignity into the finest details of each character, whether poor, middle class or rich, exposing along the way the deep scars of colonialism in the African landscape.
Adichie’s newest book, The Thing Around Your Neck, is a brilliant collection of stories about Nigerians struggling to cope with a corrupted context in their home country, and about the Nigerian immigrant experience.
If things proceed normally, President Barak Obama will soon proclaim April 11, 2014 “Education and Sharing Day, U.S.A.” Despite the innocuous name, this day honors the memory of a religious leader whose lesser-known teachings help fuel some of the most violent attacks against Palestinians by extremist Israeli settlers and soldiers.
The leader being honored on this day is Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, charismatic head of a mystical/fundamentalist version of Judaism. Every year since 1978, a Presidential Proclamation, often accompanied by a Congressional Resolution (the 1990 one had 219 sponsors), has declared Schneerson’s birthday an official national day of observance.
Congress first passed a Resolution honoring Schneerson in 1975. Three years later a Joint Congressional Resolution called on President Jimmy Carter to proclaim “Education Day, U.S.A.” on the anniversary of Schneerson’s birth. The idea was to set aside a day to honor both education and the alleged educational work of Schneerson and the religious sect he headed up.
Carter, like Congress, dutifully obeyed the Schneerson-initiated resolution, as has every president since. And some individual states are now enacting their own observances of Schneerson’s birthday, with Minnesota and Alabama leading the way.
Schneerson and his movement are an extremely mixed bag.
Schneerson has been praised widely for a public persona and organization that emphasized “deep compassion and insight,” worked to bring many secular Jews “back” into the fold, created numerous schools around the world, and had offered, in the words of the Jewish Virtual Library, “social-service programs and humanitarian aid to all people, regardless of religious affiliation or background.”
However, there is also a less attractive underside often at odds with such public perceptions. And some of the more extreme parts of Schneerson’s teachings – such as that Jews are a completely different species than non-Jews, and that non-Jews exist only to serve Jews – have been largely hidden, it appears, even from many who consider themselves his followers.
As we will see, such views profoundly impact the lives of Palestinians living – and dying – under Israeli occupation and military invasions.
Who was Rabbi Schneerson?
Schneerson lived from 1902 to 1994 and oversaw the growth of what is now the largest Jewish organization in the world. The religious movement he led is known as “Chabad-Lubavitch,” (sometimes just called “Lubavitch” or “Chabad,” the name of its organizational arm). Schneerson was the seventh and final Lubavitcher “Rebbe” (sacred leader). He is often simply called “the Rebbe.”
Founded in the late 1700s and originally based in the Polish-Russian town of Lubavitch, it is the largest of about a dozen forms of “Hasidism,” a version of Orthodox Judaism connected to mysticism, characterized by devotion to a dynastic leader, and whose adherents often wear distinctive clothing. (Spellings of these terms can vary; Hasid is also written as Hassid, Chasid, etc.)
There is an extreme cult of personality focused on Schneerson himself. Some followers consider him the Messiah, and Schneerson himself reportedly sometimes implied this was true. Some Lubavitch educators consider him divine, making such claims as, “the Rebbe is actually ‘the essence and being [of God] … he is without limits, capable of effecting anything, all-knowing and a proper object of worshipful prostration.”
While many secular Jews and Jews from other denominations disagree with its actions and theology, Chabad-Lubavitch is generally acknowledged to be a powerful force in Jewish life today. According to a 1994 New York Times report, it is “one of the most influential and controversial forces in world Jewry.”
There are approximately 3,600 Chabad institutions in over 1,000 cities in 70 countries, and 200,000 adherents. Up to a million people attend Chabad services at least once a year. Numerous campuses have such centers and the Chabad website states that hundreds of thousands of children attend Chabad summer camps.
According to the Times, Schneerson “presided over a religious empire that reached from the back streets of Brooklyn to the main streets of Israel and by 1990 was taking in an estimated $100 million a year in contributions.
In the U.S., the Times reports, Schneerson’s “‘mitzvah tanks’ – converted campers that are rolling recruiting stations whose purpose is to draw Jews to the Lubavitch way – roamed streets from midtown Manhattan to Crown Heights. And the Lubavitchers’ Brooklyn-based publishing house claimed to be the world’s largest distributor of Jewish books.”
Non-Jewish souls ‘satanic’
While Chabad sometimes openly teaches that “the soul of the Jew is different than the soul of the non-Jew,” Schneerson’s specific teachings on this subject are largely unknown.
Quite likely very few Americans, both Jews and non-Jews, are aware of Schneerson’s teachings about the alleged deep differences between them – and about how these teachings are applied in the West Bank and Gaza.
Let us look at Schneerson’s words, as quoted by two respected Jewish professors, Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky, in their book Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (text available online here. This book, praised by Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, and many others is essential reading for anyone who truly wishes to understand modern day Israel-Palestine. (Brackets in the quotes below are in the translations by Shahak and Mezvinsky.)
Some of Schneerson’s rarely reported teachings:
“The difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish person stems from the common expression: “Let us differentiate.” Thus, we do not have a case of profound change in which a person is merely on a superior level. Rather, we have a case of “let us differentiate” between totally different species.”
“This is what needs to be said about the body: the body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the body of [members] of all nations of the world … The difference in the inner quality between Jews and non-Jews is “so great that the bodies should be considered as completely different species.”
“An even greater difference exists in regard to the soul. Two contrary types of soul exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from three satanic spheres, while the Jewish soul stems from holiness.”
“As has been explained, an embryo is called a human being, because it has both body and soul. Thus, the difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish embryo can be understood.”
“…the general difference between Jews and non-Jews: A Jew was not created
as a means for some [other] purpose; he himself is the purpose, since the substance of all [divine] emanations was created only to serve the Jews.”
“The important things are the Jews, because they do not exist for any [other] aim; they themselves are [the divine] aim.”
“The entire creation [of a non-Jew] exists only for the sake of the Jews.”
Most people don’t know about this aspect of Schneerson’s teaching because, according to Shahak and Mezvinsky, such teachings are intentionally minimized, mistranslated, or
For example, the quotes above were translated by the authors from a book of Schneerson’s recorded messages to followers that was published in Israel in 1965. Despite Schneerson’s global importance and the fact that his world headquarters is in the U.S., there has never been an English translation of this volume.
Shahak, an Israeli professor who was a survivor of the Nazi holocaust, writes that this lack of translation of an important work is not unusual, explaining that much critical information about Israel and some forms of Judaism is available only in Hebrew.
He and co-author Mezvinsky, who was a Connecticut Distinguished University Professor who taught at Central Connecticut State University, write, “The great majority of the books on Judaism and Israel, published in English especially, falsify their subject matter.”
According to Shahak and Mezvinsky, “Almost every moderately sophisticated Israeli Jew knows the facts about Israeli Jewish society that are described in this book. These facts, however, are unknown to most interested Jews and non-Jews outside Israel who do not know Hebrew and thus cannot read most of what Israeli Jews write about themselves in Hebrew.”
In Shahak’s earlier book, Jewish Religion, Jewish History, he provides a number of examples. In one, he describes a 1962 book published in Israel in a bilingual edition. The Hebrew text was on one page, with the English translation on the facing page.
Shahak describes one set of facing pages in which the Hebrew text of a major Jewish code of laws contained a command to exterminate Jewish infidels: “It is a duty to exterminate them with one’s own hands.” The English version on the facing page softened it to “It is a duty to take active measures to destroy them.’”
The Hebrew page then went on to name which “infidels” must be exterminated, adding “may the name of the wicked rot.” Among them was Jesus of Nazareth. The facing page with the English translation failed to tell any of this.
“Even more significant,” Shahak reports, “in spite of the wide circulation of this book among scholars in the English-speaking countries, not one of them has, as far as I know, protested against this glaring deception.”
Praised by Said, Chomsky, etc., Shahak is almost unknown today
This pattern of selective omission, it seems, applies to Shahak himself, whose work is largely unknown to Palestine activists today, even though he was considered a major figure in the struggle against Israeli oppression of Palestinians, and his work was praised by diverse writers.
While Shahak was alive, Noam Chomsky called him “an outstanding scholar,” and said he had “remarkable insight and depth of knowledge. His work is informed and penetrating, a contribution of great value.”
Edward Said wrote, “Shahak is a very brave man who should be honored for his services to humanity … One of the most remarkable individuals in the contemporary Middle East.” Said wrote a forward for Shahak’s Jewish History, Jewish Religion.
Catholic New Times said: ‘This is a remarkable book …[It] deserves a wide readership, not only among Jews, but among Christians who seek a fuller understanding both of historical Judaism and of modern-day Israel.”
Jewish Socialist stated: “Anyone who wants to change the Jewish community so that it stops siding with the forces of reaction should read this book.”
The London Review of Books called Shahak’s book “remarkable, powerful, and provocative.”
Yet, very few Americans today know of Shahak’s work and the information it contains.
American tax money & Jewish Extremism in Palestine
If they did, it’s hard to believe that Americans would allow $8.5 million per day of their tax money to be given to Israel, where such teachings underlie a powerful minority that is disproportionately influential in governmental actions.
Nor is it likely that a fully informed American public would allow donations to religious institutions in Israel that teach supremacist, sometimes violent doctrines to be tax-deductible in the U.S.
One organization raised over $10 million tax-deductible dollars in the U.S. in 2011 alone – removing money from the U.S. economy and enabling illegal, aggressive Israeli settlements in Palestine. And some of this money went to benefit individuals convicted of murder – including the murderer of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
The New York Times obituary on Schneerson reported that Schneerson was “a major political force in Israel, both in the Knesset and among the electorate,” but failed to describe the nature of his impact.
One of a sprinkling of writers willing to publicly discuss Shahak and Mezvinsky’s findings is Allan Brownfeld, who is less reticent. Brownfeld is editor of the American Council for Judaism’s periodical Issues and contributor to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
“Rabbi Schneerson always supported Israeli wars and opposed any retreat. In 1974 he strongly opposed the Israeli withdrawal from the Suez area. He promised Israel divine favors if it persisted in occupying the land.”
Brownfeld reports that after Schneerson’s death, “[T]housands of his Israeli followers played an important role in the election victory of Binyamin Netanyahu. Among the religious settlers in the occupied territories, the Chabad Hassids constitute one of the most extreme groups. Baruch Goldstein, the mass murderer of Palestinians, was one of them.”
Another such Chabad Hassid is Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg (also sometimes written as “Ginzburg” and “Ginsburgh”), who studied under Schneerson in Crown Heights and who heads up a major Chabad institution in the West Bank.
Ginsburg praised Goldstein, the murderer of 29 Palestinians while they were praying, and considers all non-Jews subhuman.
According to author Motti Inbari, Ginsburg “gives prominence to Halachic and Kabbalistic approaches that emphasize the distinction between Jew and non-Jew (Gentile), imposing a clear separation and hierarchy in this respect.”
In his book Jewish Fundamentalism and the Temple Mount: Who Will Build the Third Temple? Inbari states, “[Ginsburg] claims that while the Jews are the Chosen People and were created in God’s image, the Gentiles do not have this status and are effectively considered subhuman.”
Professor Inbari, an Israeli academic who now teaches in the U.S., writes that Ginsburg’s theological approach continues “certain perceptions that were popular in medieval times.”
“For example,” Inbari writes, “the commandment ‘You shall not murder’ does not apply to the killing of a Gentile, since ‘you shall not murder’ relates to the murder of a human, while for him the Gentiles do not constitute humans.”
Inbari reports, “Similarly, Ginzburg stated that, on the theoretical level, if a Jew requires a liver transplant to survive, it would be permissible to seize a Gentile and take their liver forcefully.”
While the mainstream American press almost never reports this kind of information, an April 26, 1996 article in Jewish Week by Lawrence Cohler reported on Ginsburg’s teachings, including their problematic roots in Jewish texts.
Cohler reported that a professor of Bible at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Rabbi Moshe Greenberg, “called for radically revising Jewish thinking about some Jewish texts on the grounds that scholars such as Rabbi Ginsburgh are far from aberrant in their use of them.”
Cohler quoted Greenberg’s concerns: “‘There’ll be a statement in Talmud… made in circumstances where it’s purely theoretical, because Jews then never had the power to do it,’ he explained. And now, he said, ‘It’s carried over into circumstances where Jews have a state and are empowered.’”
A rabbi associated with Ginsburg coauthored a notorious Israeli book, The King’s Torah, which claims that Jewish law at times permits the killing of non-Jewish infants. American donations to the Chabad school Ginsburg heads up, and that published the above book, are tax-deductible in the U.S. Ginsburg, who endorses the book, teaches classes throughout Israel, the U.S. and France.
Such extremism is opposed by the majority of Israelis, and major Jewish religious authorities condemn it, a Chief Rabbi, for example, stating: “’According to the Torah, every man is created in God’s image.”
Yet, such extremist views continue to exert a powerful influence.
Israeli military manuals echo extremist teachings: “kill even good civilians”
Israeli military manuals sometimes replicate extremist teachings. For example, a booklet authored by a Chief Chaplain stated, “In war, when our forces storm the enemy, they are allowed and even enjoined by the Halakhah to kill even good civilians…” Such teachings by the IDF rabbinate were prominent during Israel’s 2008-9 attack on Gaza that killed 1,400 Gazans, approximately half of them civilians. (The Palestinian resistance killed nine Israelis during this “war.”)
Chicago writer Stephen Lendman has described these teachings, giving a number of examples.
Lendman writes, “In 2007, Israel’s former chief rabbi, Mordechai Elyahu, called for the Israeli army to mass-murder Palestinians:
“If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill 1000. And if they don’t stop after 1000, then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000. Even a million.”
Lendman reports that some extremist Israeli rabbis teach that “the ten commandments don’t apply to non-Jews. So killing them in defending the homeland is acceptable, and according to the chairman of the Jewish Rabbinic Council:
“‘There is no such thing as enemy civilians in war time. The law of our Torah is to have mercy on our soldiers and to save them…. A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail.’”
Lendman writes, “Rabbi David Batsri called Arabs ‘a blight, a devil, a disaster…. donkeys, and we have to ask ourselves why God didn’t create them to walk on all fours. Well, the answer is that they are needed to build and clean.’”
Another such rabbi is Manis Friedman, a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi inspired by Schneerson who served as the simultaneous translator for a series of Schneerson’s talks. (Friedman is currently dean of a Jewish Studies institute in Minnesota.)
A 2009 article in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reports, “Like the best Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis, Manis Friedman has won the hearts of many unaffiliated Jews with his charismatic talks about love and God; it was Friedman who helped lead Bob Dylan into a relationship with Chabad.
“But Friedman, who today travels the country as a Chabad speaker, showed a less warm and cuddly side when he was asked how he thinks Jews should treat their Arab neighbors.”
In Moment magazine’s article, “Ask the Rabbis // How Should Jews Treat Their Arab Neighbors?” Friedman answered:
“I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral.
“The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).”
Lendman reports, “Views like these aren’t exceptions. Though a minority, they proliferate throughout Israeli society…”
They also, Lendman notes, work to prevent peace in Israel-Palestine.
Shahak and Mezvinsky note that when the book containing Schneerson’s statements quoted above about Jews and non-Jews was published in Israel, he was allied to the Labor Party and his movement had been provided “many important benefits” from the Israeli government.
In the mid-1970s Schneerson decided that the Labor Party was too moderate and shifted his support to the more right-wing parties in power today. The authors report, “Ariel Sharon was the Rebbe’s favorite Israeli senior politician. Sharon in turn praised the Rebbe publicly and delivered a moving speech about him in the Knesset after the Rebbe’s death.”
Roots in Some Early Texts
Brownfeld decries the fact that few Americans are properly informed about the fundamentalist movement in Israel “and the theology upon which it is based.”
He notes that Jewish Americans, in particular, are often unaware of the “narrow ethnocentrism which is promoted by the movement’s leading rabbis, or of the traditional Jewish sources they are able to call upon in drawing clear distinctions between the moral obligations owed to Jews and non-Jews.”
Teachings that Jews are superior and gentiles inferior were contained in some of the earliest Hassidic texts, including its classic text, “Tanya,” still taught today.
Brownfeld quotes statements by “the revered father of the messianic tendency of Jewish fundamentalism,” Rabbi Kook the Elder, and states that these were derived from earlier texts. [Kook, incidentally, was also an early Zionist, who helped push for the Balfour Declaration in England before moving to Palestine. He was the uncle of Hillel Kook, an agent who went by the name “Peter Bergson” and created front groups in the U.S. for a violent Zionist guerilla group that operated in 1930s and '40s Palestine.]
Brownfeld quotes Kook: “The difference between a Jewish soul and souls of non-Jews—all of them in all different levels—is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle.”
Brownfeld explains that Kook’s teaching, which he says is followed by leaders of the settler movement in the occupied West Bank, “is based upon the Lurianic Cabbala, the school of Jewish mysticism that dominated Judaism from the late 16th to the early 19th century.”
Shahak and Mezvinsky state, “One of the basic tenets of the Lurianic Cabbala is the absolute superiority of the Jewish soul and body over the non-Jewish soul and body. According to the Lurianic Cabbala, the world was created solely for the sake of Jews; the existence of non-Jews was subsidiary.”
Again, Shahak and Mezvinsky report that this aspect is often covered up in English-language discussions. Scholarly authors of books about Jewish mysticism and the Lurianic Cabbala, they write, have frequently “willfully omitted reference to such ideas.”
Shahak and Mezvinsky write that it is essential to understand these beliefs in order to understand the current situation in the West Bank, where many of the most militant West Bank settlers are motivated by religious ideologies in which every non-Jew is seen as “the earthly embodiment” of Satan, and according to the Halacha (Jewish law), the term ‘human beings’ refers solely to Jews.”
Israeli author and former chief of Israeli military intelligence Yehoshafat Harkabi touches on this in his 1988 book Israel’s Fateful Hour.
Harkabi writes that while such extremist beliefs are not “widely dominant,” the reality is that “nationalistic religious extremists are by no means a lunatic fringe; many are respected men whose words are widely heeded.”
He reports that the campus rabbi of a major Israeli university published an article in the student newspaper entitled “The Commandment of Genocide in the Torah,” in which he implied that those who have a quarrel with Jews “ought to be destroyed, children and all.” Harkabi writes that a book by another rabbi “explained that the killing of a non-Jew is not considered murder.”
Brownfeld writes, “Although messianic fundamentalists constitute a relatively small portion of the Israeli population [most Israeli settlers are motivated by the subsidized lifestyle US tax money to Israel provides], their political influence has been growing. If they have contempt for non-Jews, their hatred for Jews who oppose their views is even greater.”
Brownfeld cites the murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had started to make peace with the Palestinians, writing that it was just one “in a long line of murders of Jews who followed a path different from that ordained by rabbinic authorities.” Brownfeld reports that Shahak and Mezvinsky “cite case after case, from the Middle Ages until the 19th century.”
The authors report, “It was usual in some Hasidic circles until the last quarter of the nineteenth century to attack and often to murder Jews who had reform religious tendencies…”
They quote a long article by Israeli writer Rami Rosen, “History of a Denial,” published by Ha’aretz Magazine in 1996. This article, which cannot be found online, at least in English, is also cited in the book Brother Against Brother: Violence and Extremism in Israeli Politics from Altalena to the Rabin Assassination, by Israeli professor Ehud Sprinzak.
In his Ha’aretz article Rosen reported: “A check of main facts of the [Jewish] historiography of the last 1500 years shows that the picture is different from the one previously shown to us. It includes massacres of Christians; mock repetitions of the crucifixion of Jesus that usually took place on Purim; cruel murders within the family; liquidation of informers, often done for religious reasons by secret rabbinical courts, which issued a sentence of ‘pursuer’ and appointed secret executioners; assassinations of adulterous women in synagogues and/or the cutting of their noses by command of the rabbis.”
While Rosen’s article may seem shocking, in reality, it simply shows that members of the Jewish population, like members of Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and diverse other populations, have at times committed atrocities, sometimes allegedly in the name of their religion. The difference, as Shahak and Mezvinsky point out, is that such information is largely covered up in the U.S. Such cover-ups, however, don’t make facts go away. They merely bury them, where they smolder and at times eventually lead to exaggerated perceptions.
U.S. media rarely report that some extremist Israeli settlers are intensely hostile to Christians, and in one instance threatened peace activists who came to the West Bank to participate in nonviolent demonstrations, “We killed Jesus and we’ll kill you, too.” There is also a record of official hostility. For example, a few years ago an Israeli mayor ordered all New Testaments to be rounded up and burned.
While Schneerson is honored on national “Education” days, the reality is that the elementary schools he created often failed to teach children “basic reading, writing, spelling, math, science and history,” according to a graduate.
In his article “National Education Day and the Education I Never Had,” Chaim Levin reports on his experience at the Chabad school “Oholei Torah” (Educational Institute Oholei Menachem) in Crown Heights, New York – the site of Chabad’s world headquarters:
“I have profound respect for the late Rebbe and his legacy. However, I remember very clearly those talks that [Schneerson] gave – the ones we studied every year in elementary school about the unimportance of ‘secular’ (non-religious, formal) education, and the great importance of only studying limmudei kodesh (holy studies). As a result of this attitude, thousands of students were not taught anything other than the Bible throughout our years attending Chabad institutions.”
The goal of such schools, Levin writes, was to produce “schluchim,” missionaries who would promote Chabad all over the world.
Meanwhile, he notes, “Failure to provide basic formal education cripples children within Chabad communities. We cannot ignore the harm done…” Levin writes, “Until this day, Oholei Torah and many other Chabad schools — particularly schools for boys and a few for girls in Crown Heights and in some other places — do not provide basic formal education.”
Education and Sharing Day 2014
In his 2000 article, Brownfeld writes that Shahak and Mezvinsky’s book should be “a wake-up call “to Americans, particularly Jewish supporters of Israel.”
Fourteen years later, however, very few people are aware of these books and their powerful information, and U.S. tax money continues to flow to Israel. The main author, Israel Shahak, is now dead, as is Edward Said; Noam Chomsky rarely, if ever, mentions him; and Shahak’s co-author, Norton Mezvinsky (uncle of Chelsea Clinton’s husband), is a member of a Lubavitch congregation in New York.
In many ways, little seems to have changed since 1994, when Congressmen Charles Schumer, Newt Gingrich, and others introduced legislation to bestow on Schneerson the Congressional Gold Medal. The bill passed both Houses by unanimous consent, honoring Schneerson for his “outstanding and lasting contributions toward improvements in world education, morality, and acts of charity.”
And in two weeks, Americans will be officially called on to observe a day that honors Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson and the Lubavitcher movement.
That is, unless masses of people contact their Congressional representatives to demand a whole new direction: a “National Education and Sharing Day” that honors an individual who values education, and who believes that all people – in the words of the Declaration of Independence – are created equal.
Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew and president of the Council for the National Interest. Her book, Against Our Better Judgment: How the U.S. was used to create Israel, contains additional information on Rabbi Kook’s family connection to American front groups for Israeli terrorists.
April 7, 2014 Posted by aletho | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Supremacism, Social Darwinism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | Chabad, Judaism, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Schneerson, United States | Leave a comment
the Americas have a noble, exceptional, honorable history
so we are told
the workers, the immigrants, who were cheap insurance against challenges to legitimacy, land title, labor bankruptcy and invasion
make them build the infrastructure
make them pay
make them love labor, exploitation and oppression
wrap it in a flag
imply a promise
never throw a bone
make them work for it
make them bow at the alter of class devotion
it’s no mistake, that word patriot
“defends his country and its interests with devotion”
devotion: to give all ones time and resources, to sacrifice
to devote: a vow, a formal, solemn promise
vow: a 13th century solemn promise to god
latin devoveo, a self-sacrifice, an offering, a curse
curse? a solemn utterance intended to invoke a supernatural power to inflict harm or punishment on someone or something?
devote yourself to me, as god requires, or you will be punished!
sounds like a curse
patriot, a concept that did not exist before the 16th century
just in time
for ships and colonizers, slaves, indentured servants and immigrants
as many an 3 of 4 whites in American colonies in the 18th century were indentured
privately held personal property, chattel
cheap insurance against recalcitrant native peoples and slaves
recalcitrant: having an obstinately uncooperative attitude toward authority or discipline
may it be so
indentured servants: they, and their descendants can be sold and inherited
“If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are” – Ronald Reagan
Human rights concerns have risen again in Colombia after an online recording of a military chief revealed his solidarity with a colonel jailed for alleged extrajudicial killings.
In the recording, published by leading news magazine Semana on Sunday, Colombia armed forces chief General Leonardo Barrero is heard telling colonel Robinson Gonzalez del Rio that prosecutors’ investigations into the extrajudicial killings is a “bunch of crap.”
The army chief also suggests that Gonzalez, who is facing criminal charges over the killing of two men in 2007, mount a counterattack to discredit prosecutors.
According to local reports, deputy joint chief General Javier Rey, resigned on Monday following the revelation by Semana’s weekend report. Barrero is also reported to have expressed regret over his remarks in the audio recording.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said the serious allegations made in the Semana report need to be investigated. The government, however, said it was taking no immediate action against Barrero as he was not directly accused of corruption.
An earlier scandal on extrajudicial killings by Colombia military dubbed the “false positives scandal” broke in 2008.
According to media reports, hundreds of innocent civilians were slain and presented as guerrillas killed in battle by the country’s army in an effort to inflate body counts and receive promotions or other benefits.
Earlier this month, Semana reported that a military spy ring had eavesdropped for 15 months on emails and text messages of government negotiators involved in peace talks with leftist rebels.
A Nepal-based human rights organization says over 400 Nepalese workers have lost their lives on World Cup stadium construction sites in Qatar.
The Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee (PNCC), which follows up on migrant workers deaths in Qatar, recently published lists of the dead using official sources in the Qatari capital, Doha.
The PNCC also warned that the death toll can reach 4,000 by 2022.
The report will pile new pressure on the Qatari authorities and FIFA to curb the mounting death toll of foreign workers on the building sites.
Nepalese workers make up only 20 percent of two million migrant workers in Qatar and the death toll can be much higher than this.
Migrants from other countries are also feared to have died, but there is no official data available.
Harsh working conditions for foreign laborers in Qatar first came to light last September and the deaths of at least 36 Nepalese construction workers were registered in the weeks following the September revelations.
The new death toll also sets alarm bells ringing for FIFA as it shows that global protests against the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar have fallen on deaf ears.
Last month, the PNCC said, “FIFA and the government of Qatar promised the world that they would take action to ensure the safety of workers building the stadiums and infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup. This horrendous roll call of the dead gives the lie to those reassurances.”
Migrant workers in Qatar live in extremely inhumane and sordid conditions and they are deprived of any workplace security.
The question is no longer what, the question is when.
Very soon, income inequality in the United States will reach such a critical level it is likely violence will be viewed as an acceptable response to America’s social ills.
Unlike Depression Era bank robbers, assaults will be aimed at soft human targets. After all, who uses cash anymore?
Extortion. Kidnapping. Arson. A crime wave of epic proportions might well be the only way those running America will come to their senses and realize that no democracy can continue to exist where so much is controlled by so few. The present system of representative government has failed in such a spectacular fashion to protect the rights of the majority that the government itself has become the criminal.
Do not kid yourself that the present resource inequality will do anything but get much, much worse. Do the math. Tax rates for the extremely wealthy being so extremely low can only lead to the further accumulation of massive fortunes by the select few. That wealth will be taken from those lower on the economic food chain and so the disparity can only become greater.
Let them eat cake.
Public discussion of the critical problems currently facing this nation is so infantile it might as well be Medieval monks chattering on about the number of angels that can fit on the top of a pin. Bridges collapsing. People literally starving. Jobless working class. A country without hope. Yet the rulers natter on about reducing the rations of the most needy while at the same time they loot every household in the name of a putrid for-profit medical system and drone bomb the hell out of any country they wish.
How many military bases does this country have outside our borders? How many countries have U.S. troops stationed in them? Only criminals need those many guns.
Serious problems. There is a total disconnect between those charged with keeping this country on an even keel and reality.
The United States has become a kleptocracy. And criminality is the lesson it is teaching its citizens. Those living outside of the law, whether in skyscrapers or shacks, bring only pain and deprivation to those who strive to maintain a civilized society. When the government itself is the criminal, cutting up the pie solely for itself and its cronies, an equally criminal response will be inevitable.
What to do? It’s Robin Hood time. It’s only a question of who becomes the outlaw of Sherwood. People will only allow a boot to press against their neck for so long before the violence being done to them precipitates a like response. Unless those in positions of power tax the rich until it hurts, there will, like night follows day, be a violent response from those being oppressed against those they see as inflicting their pain.
If this government keeps shirking its responsibility to the vast majority of its citizens, this country is dooming itself to a bloody future.
Peter Breschard is the author of Circus Rider and My Love Affair with Barack Obama as well as other lesser works of fact and fiction.
As Americans in the economic middle struggle to keep up, many retailers and other businesses have decided to focus on the demands of the wealthy.
Since the end of the Great Recession, the nation’s top earners have been doing a significant portion of the consumer spending during the weak economic recovery, which is great news for high-end businesses that cater to this class.
But retailers and restaurants that have long catered to the middle class are fading because middle-earners have so little disposal income these days.
The rich (considered the top 5%) don’t have the same problem. They were responsible for nearly 40% of domestic consumption in 2012. Two decades earlier, the rate was only 28% in 1995, according to research performed by economists Steven Fazzari, of Washington University in St. Louis, and Barry Cynamon, a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
They say inflation-adjusted spending by the top 5% has increased 17% since 2009, compared with just 1% among the bottom 95%.
The beneficiaries of increased spending by the wealthy have been luxury gambling properties like the Wynn and the Venetian in Las Vegas, five-star hotels like the Four Seasons and St. Regis, upscale clothing retailer Barneys New York, and others.
Meanwhile, many other companies are floundering, filing for bankruptcy, or closing their doors because they cater to the middle class. These businesses include Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants, and retailers Sears, J.C. Penney, and Loehmann’s.
“As a retailer or restaurant chain, if you’re not at the really high level or the low level, that’s a tough place to be,” John G. Maxwell, head of the global retail and consumer practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers, told The New York Times. “You don’t want to be stuck in the middle.”
Fazzari warns that relying too much on the rich to keep the economy going is not a sound long-term strategy.
“It’s going to be hard to maintain strong economic growth with such a large proportion of the population falling behind,” he told the Times. “We might be able to muddle along—but can we really recover?”
To Learn More:
The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World. (by Nelson Schwartz, New York Times)
Inequality, the Great Recession, and Slow Recovery (by Barry Z. Cynamon and Steven M. Fazzari, Washington University) (pdf)
U.S. Income Inequality Reaches Record Extreme (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Richest 7% Get Richer; Poorest 93% Get Poorer (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
By Gilad Atzmon • May 25th, 2009
Unlike her cosmopolitan brothers and sisters who spread Zionism and tribal racism using a liberal and progressive disguise, Melanie Philips is open about it all. The other day she defined what Zionism is in a very clear manner:
“Zionism,” writes Philips, “is simply the movement for the self-determination of the Jewish people. And its significance is greater than any other movement of national liberation because Judaism itself rests upon three legs — the people, the religion and the land. If one is lopped off by having its legitimacy denied, the whole thing collapses. That is why anti-Zionism is far more than an unpleasant political position. It is a direct attack on Judaism itself.”
Philips doesn’t leave much room for speculation. For her, not only is Zionism a legitimate national movement, ‘its significance is greater than any other movement’ because it rests upon ‘three legs’. Thinking about it for a second, it is indeed significant for something to rest upon three legs, I myself rest upon just two legs and a bit. Occasionally when I stand naked in front of the mirror I wish I were Zionism.
As Philips maintains, Zionism is indeed an amalgam of three Jewish ingredients: the people, the land and the religion. It is this very composition that makes Zionism into an epic victorious narrative. It is this very mixture that made Zionism into the 20th century collective symbolic identifier of the Jewish people. It is Zionism that has managed to reinvent the Jewish people as a nation with a lucid ideological, spiritual and geographical aspiration. Yet, as much as Zionism makes a lot of sense to very many Jews around the world, it makes less and less sense for those who fail to be chosen i.e., the rest of humanity. The reason is simple, Jews may be welcomed to celebrate their symptoms collectively but they are not exactly entitled to do so at the expense of anyone else.
Zionism has managed to interpret Judaism as a brutal license to plunder and kill. It transformed a spiritual text into a land registry. It primarily invented the Jews as nation. It then set for the newly born nation a task of immoral geographical aspiration with some devastating racist colonial implications.
One may wonder, how did Zionism manage to be so successful, how did it manage to get away with murder, and how has it done so for so long? At the end of the day, the lethal mixture of ‘land’-‘religion’-‘people’ stands in complete opposition to the post-war Western cultural and political narrative (cosmopolitan / multi-cultural / multi-faith / open borders).
I tend to believe that Philips’ equation Zionism = Judaism is the most effective Zionist tactic of them all. It leads towards a severe paralysis of most humanist opposition of Zionism. The reason is obvious, ordinary ethical beings do not know how to comb the knots out of this shattering formula that leads them to criticism of a religious belief system.
In fact one way around it is to dispute Philips’ equation. Zionism doesn’t equal Judaism. Zionism is a mere radical narrow interpretation of Judaism. It takes the biblical plunderous narrative and turns it into a daily practice. It takes the Judaic moral notion of chosenness and turns it into crude supremacist agenda. Rather than Judaism, Zionism is in fact the true genuine face of Jewish ideology. It is racist, it is chauvinist, it is seeking power; but it is different from Judaism, for Judaism is centred around the fear of God and Zionism is totally fearless. Accordingly, It will be right to argue that to oppose Zionism is to oppose Jewish ideology or what I myself define as ‘Jewishness’.
It must be said that Zionism regards itself as an enlightened rational movement. To a certain extent, as an ideology and praxis, it tries to understand itself, it seeks explanations or at least justifications in rational and historical terms (rather than ethical ones). Melanie Philips, it must be said, is offering a coherent argument. She says, ‘this is what we are’, taking this from us is a dismissal of our right to be.
I believe that Philips framework is correct, it is her terminology that is slightly confusing. It is not Zionism = religion but rather Zionism and Jewishness that are intrinsically connected. If we want to oppose Zionism for real, we set ourselves into an inevitable conflict with Jewish ideology. To oppose Zionism is to admit that we have a serious issue with Jewish nationalism, with Jewish tribalism, with Jewish racist ideology, with Jewish supremacy and Jewish collectivism. To oppose Zionism is to admit that we have a problem with the ‘Jewish thing’.
However, it may be noted that if Zionists such as Philips are entitled to suggest the equation between Zionism and Judaism, the opponent of Zionism should not be reluctant to do the same and to extend the critique of Zionism to Jewish ideology and beyond.
I mentioned numerous times in the past. As it happened, it is actually Zionists and Israeli dissidents who seem to push the anti-Zionist discourse ahead. The reason is pretty simple.
Israeli dissidents are far from being reluctant to expose or reflect on their collective past. Unlike the tribal Diaspora Jewish left activists that are quick to dismiss any complicity in Israeli crimes by shouting “not in my name,” some Israeli dissident voices tend to take direct responsibility. They understand the notion of guilt and they turn it into responsibility.
A month ago Haaretz published an article by Uri Avnery in its ‘Israeli Independence Day Special Edition. ‘Living With The Contradiction’ was an attempt of an Israeli humanist to face his own original sin within an historical perspective.
Avnery is an astonishing writer. Though I tend to disagree with him on various issues, the man is no doubt a leading voice of reason in that doomed state. Unlike Melanie Philips who supports Zionism from afar, Avnery was a commando soldier in 1948. He was himself personally involved in the creation of Israel. “We knew that if we won the war, there would be a state and that if we were defeated there would be no state – and that we would not be around, either.”
Unlike Melanie Philips who speaks about ‘a land’, Avnery was one of those who invaded the land and expelled its habitants.
“We left no Arabs behind our front line, and the Arabs did likewise,” and yet, Avnery, unlike Philips, realises that the Zionist amalgam People / Land / Religion leads towards disaster. Israel’s original sin is not is not exactly a recipe for peace.
“How then is it possible,” asks Avnery, “to reconcile the contradiction between our intentions and feelings at the time, when we established the state and paid for it with our blood, pure and simple, and the historic injustice we inflicted on the other side?”
He continues, “It is necessary for our mental health as a nation and as human beings, and it is the first step toward future reconciliation. We must admit and recognize the consequences of our actions and repair what can be repaired, without disavowing our past and youthful innocence.” Avnery goes out of his way to explain rather than justify the 1948 sin, yet he is searching for reconciliation. He understands that the Jewish state will be doomed unless it faces its past.
I wish that those who contribute to the Palestinian solidarity discourse would have the courage exhibited by Philips and Avnery. I wish that like Philips, we would have the courage to equate Zionism with Judaism yet to use it as a critical shift. I wish we could look at the Nakba like Avnery with fear and yet to draw the necessary conclusion, to demand the right of return.
- Lexicon of Resistance
- Theses on Zionism
- Algeriepatriotique interviews Gilad Atzmon: “Dieudonné has proved to be resilient to Jewish nationalist terror”
Today, January 28, 2014, President Obama will address the nation in his State of the Union (SOTU) speech to Congress. A major theme of the address will be the growing income inequality in the US.
His speech represents an echo of similar themes and talks that have been presented this past week at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. That’s where every January the big capitalists of the world gather to discuss amongst themselves the major issues of the past year and what to do about them—in between being entertained by various cultural celebrities and performers who have been allowed into their club as junior partners in wealth. The annual Davos cultural events are not unlike the small venue side-shows held in the big Las Vegas casinos: the entertainers strut and sing while the real betting and dice-rolling discussions involving future capitalist policy initiatives go on behind ‘invitation-only’ doors requiring tickets for entry costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend ( the typical ticket price of entry for a Corporate CEO and his entourage at Davos, for example, exceeds $500,000).
This year the WEF and global capitalists have ‘discovered’ income inequality, now accelerating and intensifying worldwide to a dangerous degree, and especially in the US. The dimensions of the inequality problem have grown so severe in recent years it may, they themselves are now warning, result in unwanted ‘social unrest’ in the near future.
Now that it has become an ‘acceptable’ discussion theme, Obama and Democrat party politicians (and a few clever Republicans) have also discovered income inequality. Together they plan to raise the rhetoric on the topic in upcoming midterm and 2016 national elections. Therefore, in Obama’s SOTU speech today we’ll hear some basic facts about the problem, some vague proposals that are never intended get to the earliest legislative stages, and a lot of general talk about how improving ‘opportunity’ is the only answer to reducing inequality—all of which means let’s not do anything significant in the short run but instead focus on very long run solutions like improving childhood education, creating long run opportunities, and other very long term solutions.
The politicians’ new discovery of inequality follows liberal academics discovery of the same in recent years. Well known fellows like Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, Joe Stiglitz, James Galbraith and others have all written their books on the topic in recent years. But they too, like the politicians they support, have been very careful about recommendations for resolving the problem, mostly repeating time-worn, mushy old liberal proposals involving ‘education and opportunity’ once again.
The growing income inequality in the US goes back at least to the late 1970s, accelerating during the 1980s and early 1990s, and then again after 2000 under George W. Bush. It’s grown the worst under Barack Obama, with latest figures showing the wealthiest 1% households accruing for themselves since 2009 nearly all (more than 90%) of all the income gains during the so-called ‘recovery’.
More recent, damning revelations about the extent of growing inequality go back to 2002 at least—long before the politicians and the more well known liberal economists acknowledged it. In 2002 University of California, Berkeley economist, Emmanuel Saez, began publishing his analyses of IRS income data, since all pre-existing sources of income inequality by the government and business more or less obfuscated the true picture. Saez has updated his ground-breaking results periodically ever since. Most of what is reported and published about the income gains of the wealthiest 1% are from his researches.
This writer relied heavily on Saez’s data in his 2004 book, ‘The War At Home: The Corporate Offensive From Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush’, which attempted to identify the various policies since the late 1970s that have been largely responsible for the inequality shift that Saez so well documented in 2002. Saez’s hard data—then and ever since—is irrefutable. However, the political implications behind Saez’s data were not spelled out, except for some suggestions concerning the tax structure.
But Income inequality in the US is no accident. It has conscious, deliberate origins, to be found in the policy initiatives of corporate America since the late 1970s, and the willingness of the politicians Corporate America elects in Congress, Presidents, and at State levels—Democrat and Republican alike—to implement those policy initiatives.
There’s the tax restructuring in favor of the rich and their businesses, the free trade and offshoring, the atrophying of the real minimum wage, the dismantling of real pensions and employer contributions to healthcare, the shift from full time permanent jobs to part time and temp work, the destruction of unions and higher paying union jobs, the displacing of higher paid jobs with technology, substitution of credit for lack of wage growth, failure to invest in the US by corporate America, so on and so on. That’s why jobs, real wages, and incomes for the vast majority of American households has stagnated at best, and declined in real terms for most. That’s why wage earners’ income of the bottom 80% households have contributed to income inequality.
But all that’s still only half the story of income inequality. The other ‘half’ of the story is why the incomes of the 1% have risen so sharply as well. Both their rise, and the stagnation-decline of the bottom 80%, are jointly responsible for the income inequality.
Corporate America and their politicians, and the policies they’ve initiated and implemented, are responsible for the accelerating capital incomes of the rich (1%), very rich (0.1%), and mega-rich (0.01%). And much of that has to do with the enabling of financial asset speculation and financial securities inflation that has been the defining characteristic of the US (and global) economy since at least the 1980s. Reagan unlocked that door. Clinton opened it. And George W. kicked it in. And Obama has done nothing to repair the entry.
Real solutions to income inequality would have to include proposals not only to enable the recovery of incomes of the middle working class, and the working and non-working poor, but would have to include proposals to reign in the runaway income accumulation of the very rich, the mega-rich and their friends. But you won’t hear the latter even suggested in Obama’s SOTU speech. What you’ll hear are token long run proposals to slow the decline in income growth for the working poor perhaps, and a lot of vague suggestions about the middle class.
What the middle class needs is decent jobs and tens of millions of them, just to restore what has been lost in the past 15 years. There are still 20 million unemployed in the US, and more than 5 million more have left the labor force. 60% of the jobs that have been created since 2009 have been low paid, while 58% lost have been high paid. Retirement systems are broken and retirees income for tens of millions are in freefall. Obamacare has meant those with insurance now have to pay more for less. Tens of millions of students are effectively indentured and can’t find jobs. If Obama and his politicians want to do something about income inequality, let’s hear concrete legislative proposals to address these issues now, immediately, in the short run.
It took the Krugmans, Reichs, and Stiglitzes only a decade to ‘discover’ their academic colleague, Saez’s, significant work. Better late than never, I suppose. However none of the liberal economists bother to point the finger at the politicians responsible, especially their Democratic party friends, for the inequality trends. But if anything serious is going to be done about income inequality in the US, it will have to include not only real, short term solutions to raise the incomes of the many but also serious, real measures to take back the excessive income gains of the rich and super-rich as well. For the latter will be necessary to fund and restore decent jobs and wages, to revitalize a crumbling retirement system, to save a collapsing healthcare system, and, yes, even to provide affordable education opportunities for all.
January 28, 2014 Posted by aletho | "Hope and Change", Economics, Supremacism, Social Darwinism | Democratic Party (United States), Economic inequality, Emmanuel Saez, Obama, United States | Leave a comment
The world’s 85 wealthiest people have as much money as the 3.5 billion poorest people on the planet – half the Earth’s population. That’s according to Oxfam’s latest report on the risks of the widening gap between the super-rich and the poor.
The report, titled “Working for the Few,” was released Monday, and was compiled by Oxfam – an international organization looking for solutions against poverty and injustice.
The document focuses on the extent of global economic inequality caused by rapidly increasing wealth of the richest people that poses the threat to the “human progress.”
A total of 210 people became billionaires last year, joining the existing 1,426 billionaires with a combined net worth of $5.4 trillion.
“Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown,” the report stated.
Also, according to the Oxfam data, the richest 1 percent of people across the globe have $110 trillion, or 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the planet’s population – which effectively “presents significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems.”
“It is staggering that, in the 21st century, half of the world’s population — that’s three and a half billion people — own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all fit comfortably on a double-decker bus,” Oxfam chief executive Winnie Byanyima told a news conference.
And the number of the rich is steadily growing: for example, in India the number of billionaires skyrocketed from six to 61 in the past 10 years, and their combined net worth is currently $250 billion.
The report comes ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos which begins later this week, and urges the world leaders to discuss how to tackle this pressing issue.
Among the solutions presented by Oxfam are measures to avoid tax dodging and using economic wealth to pressure governments, looking for political benefits. Also, the organization calls for “making public all the investments in companies and trusts for which they are the ultimate beneficial owners,” as well as “challenging governments to use tax revenue to provide universal healthcare, education and social protection for citizens.”
Oxfam also said that there are many laws that favor the rich, which were lobbied for in a “power grab” by the world’s wealthiest people.
Since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 out of 30 countries for which data are available, according to Oxfam.
“A survey in six countries (the US, UK, Spain, Brazil, India and South Africa) showed that a majority of people believe that laws are skewed in favor of the rich,” the report said.
For instance, almost 80 percent of the Spanish and the Indians, as well as over 60 per cent of the US and the UK residents, either agree or strongly agree that “the rich have too much influence over where this country is headed.”
I was reading an interview with Adrian Bejan (worth taking a look at), and I got to musing about his comments regarding the relationship between energy use and per capita income. So I pulled up GapMinder, the world’s best online visualization software. Here’s a first cut at the relationship between energy and income.
Figure 1. Energy use per person (tons of oil equivalent, TOE) versus average income, by country. Colors show geographical regions. Size of the circle indicates population. The US is the large yellow circle at the top right. Canada is the overlapping yellow circle. China is the large red circle, India the large light blue circle. Here’s a link to the live Gapminder graph so you can experiment with it yourself.
Clearly, other than a few outliers, the relationship between energy use and income is quite straightforward. You can’t have one without the other. Well, that’s not quite true, you can have energy without income. You can have (relatively) high energy use without having the corresponding income, plenty of Africa is in that boat. But the reverse is not true—you can’t have high income without high energy use. You need the energy to make the income.
Now, James Hansen is the NASA guy who is leading the charge to stop all forms of cheap energy. Coal is bad, terrible stuff in his world. He calls trains of coal “death trains”. He wants to deny cheap energy to all of those folks in the bottom half of the graph above. Well, actually, he wants to deny access to cheap energy to everyone, but where it hurts is the bottom half of the graph. For example, the World Bank and other international funding agencies, at the urging of folks like Hansen, have been turning down loans for coal plants in developing countries.
But as you can see, if you deny energy to those folks, that is the same as denying them development. Because when there’s less energy, there’s less income. The two go hand in hand. So what James Hansen is advising is that we should take money from the poor … actually he wants to deny them cheap energy, but that means denying them income and the development that accompanies it.
A look at the history of some of the countries is instructive in that regard, to see how the income and the energy use have changed over time. Figure 2 shows the history of some selected countries.
Now, this is showing something very interesting. It may reveal why Hansen thinks he’s doing good. Notice that for countries where people make below say $20,000 of annual income, the only way up is up and to the right … which means that the only way to increase income is to increase energy use. Look at India and China and Brazil and Spain and the Netherlands as examples. (Note also that crude birth rate is tied to increasing income, and that the crude birth rate in the US has dropped by about half since 1960.)
Above that annual income level of ~ $20,000, however something different happens. The countries start to substitute increased energy efficiency for increased energy use. This is reflected in the vertical movement of say the US, where the 2011 per capita energy use is exactly the same as the 1968 per capita energy use. And Canada is using the same energy per person as in 1977 … so let’s take a closer look at the upper right section of the chart. Figure 3 shows an enlargement of just the top right of the chart, displaying more countries.
Now, this is interesting. Many, perhaps most of these countries show vertical or near vertical movement during the last twenty years or so. And the recent economic crash has caused people to be more conservative about energy use, squeezing more dollars out per ton of oil equivalent.
But that only happens up at the high end of the income spectrum, where people are making above about twenty or even twenty-five thousand dollars per year. You need to have really good technology to make that one work, to produce more income without using more energy. You need to be in what is called a “developed” nation.
When people think “development”, they often think “bulldozers”. But they should think “energy efficiency”, because that is the hallmark of each technological advance—it squeezes more stuff out of less energy. But you have to be in an industrialized, modern society to take advantage of that opportunity.
So this may be the reason for Hansen’s attitude toward energy use. He may not know that most of the world is not in the situation of the US. This may be the reason the he claims that we should curtail energy use by all means possible. He may not see that while the US and industrialized countries can get away with that, in part because we waste a lot of energy and have a lot of both money and technology, the poor and even the less well off of the world have little energy or money to waste.
For those poorer countries and individuals, which make up the overwhelming bulk of the world’s population, a reduction in energy use means a reduction in the standard of living. And the part Hansen and his adherents don’t seem to get is that for most of the world, the standard of living is “barely” … as in barely making ends meet.
As is usual in this world, the situation of the rich and the poor is different, and in this case the break line is high. Twenty grand of income per year is the line dividing those who can take advantage of technology to get more income with the same energy, and the rest, which is most of the world. Most of the world are still among those who must use more energy to increase their income. They don’t have the option the US and the developed nations have. They must increase energy use to increase income.
And when you start jacking up energy prices and discouraging the use of cheap energy sources around the planet, as Hansen and his adherents are doing, the poorest of the poor get shafted. James Hansen is making lots and lots of money. He’s comfortably in the top 1% of the world’s population by income, and he obviously doesn’t give much thought to the rest. We know this because if he thought about the poor he’d realize that while he is mouthing platitudes about how he’s doing his agitation and advocacy for his grandchildren’s world in fifty years, what he’s doing is shafting the poor today in the name of his grandchildren. Of course Hansen is not the first rich white guy to do that, so I suppose I really shouldn’t be surprised, but still …
Increased energy prices, often in the form of taxes and “cap-and-trade” and “renewable standards”, are THE WORLDS MOST REGRESSIVE TAX. Hansen proposes taxing the living daylights out of the poor, but he won’t feel the pain. He can stand a doubling of the gas prices, no problem. But when electricity and gas prices double around the planet, POOR PEOPLE DIE … and Hansen just keeps rolling, he has quarter-million-dollar awards from his friends and a fat government salary and a princely retirement pension you and I paid for, he could care less about increased energy prices. He’s one of the 1%, why should he pay attention to the poor?
Forgive the shouting, but the damn hypocrisy is infuriating, and I’m sick of being nice about it. James Hansen and Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt and Phil Jones and Peter Gleick and the rest of the un-indicted co-conspirators are a bunch of rich arrogant 1%er jerkwagons who don’t care in the slightest about the poor. Not only that, but they’ve given the finger to the rest of the climate scientists and to the scientific establishment, most of whom have said nothing in protest, and far too many of whom have approved of their malfeasance.
Their patented combination of insolent arrogance and shabby science would be bad enough if that was all they were doing … but they are hurting poor people right now. Their policies are causing harder times for the poor today, as we speak … and they mouth platitudes about how they are saving the poor from some danger they won’t see for fifty years?
If you ask the poor whether they’d rather get shafted for sure today, or possibly get shafted in fifty years, I know what they’d tell you. To me, hurting the poor today under the rubric of saving them in half a century from an unsubstantiated and fanciful danger is moral dishonesty of the first order.
So let me say to all of you folks who claim the world is using too much energy, you have the stick by the wrong end. The world needs to use MORE energy, not less, because there is no other way to get the poor out of poverty. It can’t be done without cheap energy. We need to use more energy to lift people out of bone-crushing poverty, not use less and condemn them to brutal lives. And to do that, energy needs to be cheaper, not more expensive.
Let me be crystal clear, and speak directly to Hansen and other global warming alarmists. Any one of you who pushes for more expensive energy is hurting and impoverishing and killing the poor today. Whether through taxes or cap-and-trade or renewable subsidies or blocking drilling or any other way, increasing energy costs represent a highly regressive tax of the worst kind. And there is no escape at the bottom end, quite the opposite. The poorer you are, the harder it bites.
So please, don’t give us the holier-than-thou high moral ground stance. Spare us the “we’re noble because we are saving the world” BS. When a poor single mother of three living outside Las Vegas has her gas costs double, she has little choice other than to cut out some other essential item, food or doctor visits or whatever … because her budget doesn’t have any of the non-essential items that James Hansen’s budget contains, and she needs the gas to get to work, that’s not optional.
For her, all her money goes to essentials— so if gas costs go up, her kids get less of what they need. You’re not saving the world, far from it. You’re taking food out of kids’ mouths.
You are causing pain and suffering to the poor and acting like your excrement has no odor … but at least there is some good news. People are no longer buying your story. People are realizing that if someone argues for expensive energy, they are anti-human, anti-development, and most of all, without compassion for the poor. They are willing to put the most damaging, regressive, destructive tax imaginable on the poorest people of the planet.
Now those of you advocating for higher energy prices, after reading this, you might still fool the media about what you are doing to the poor. And it’s possible for you to not mention to your co-workers about the real results of your actions. And you could still deceive your friends about the question of the poor, or even your wife or husband.
But by god, you can no longer fool yourself about it. As of now, you know that agitating for more expensive energy for any reason hurts the poor. What you do with that information is up to you … but you can’t ignore it, it will haunt you at 3 AM, and hopefully, it will make you think about the less fortunate folk of our planet and seriously reconsider your actions. Because here’s the deal. Even if CO2 will damage the poor in 50 years, hurting the poor now only makes it worse. If you think there is a problem, then look for a no-regrets solution.
Because if you truly care about the poor, and you are afraid CO2 will increase the bad weather and harm the poor fifty years from now, you owe it to them to find a different response to your fears of CO2, a response that doesn’t hurt the poor today.
January 7, 2014 Posted by aletho | Economics, Environmentalism, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science, Supremacism, Social Darwinism | James Hansen, World Bank | Leave a comment
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By Jesse Attreau | The Unintimidated Press | February 23, 2011
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the image that I have of a lapdog is one of a homely looking mongrel of some sort or another panting rapidly with tail wagging uncontrollably, sitting upright by its master’s leg while waiting patiently for its next command.
Oh, yeah, and a little slobbering might be taking place as well.
Did you ever notice how relations on the state level can sometimes take on the appearance of that of a lapdog association? Consider the strange relationship between the United States and Israel, with the U.S. being the lapdog and Israel the master. … continue
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This article will examine some of the connections between the US and UK National Security apparatus and the appearance of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory beginning after the accident at Three Mile Island. … continue
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