Posts from July 2003

We are all Jewish

We are all Jewish
: Douglas Rushkoff writes:

I got an email this weekend from Daniel Pearl’s parents, who are publishing a book called “I am Jewish,” after the Wall Street Journal reporter’s last words before being executed in Pakistan.

The idea is to get a bunch of writers and thinkers to reflect on this phrase, and what it means to be Jewish. They’re hoping that a diverse set of responses will allow some underlying commonality – and pride – to shine through.

It’s hard to know exactly how to respond. The effort, like the Daniel Pearl Foundation, is a way of transforming a heinous moment into the catalyst for positive thought, unity, and pride. But it’s hard for me to use the ‘rebound effect’ in this way. The “I am Jewish” that Pearl was forced to recite had nothing to do with being Jewish – except in that this word and supposed bloodline was something hated by the people who killed him. Of course, there are no Jews in Pakistan, so the hatred had to do with something else. Some idea about Israel or zionism. Most likely an imported form of anti-Semitism.

But how does one approach these words, “I am Jewish,” when they come in this context? How do they become a source of pride? Is tying this senseless murder to some sort of Jewish pride like turning the destruction of the Shoah (holocaust) into a righteous sacrifice?

Why should a collection of this sort by the parents of a murdered person cause me concern? Have I grown paranoid, or is there something amiss in this transition from bloodshed to inspiring reflection?

Rushkoff’s concerns are well-taken and though still unformed, well-said.

I see the challenge differently — in no small measure because I am not Jewish. I tried to write about this in a sermon I gave last month, aimed at the audience of a small Congregational church.

I have always wondered why Christian churches reject the rituals and thus heritage of our Jewish ancestry (and though I’ve never heard the reason why, of course, I fear one reason: anti-Semitism).

There is every good reason for us — Christians and Muslims — to celebrate Passover, for example, and to read Kaddish when we mourn (which I did in the sermon I gave on the first anniversary of 9.11). We should do these things because sharing these rituals will remind us of our common religious heritage; it will remind us that we are all children of God, descended of Abraham; it will build a bridge from worship to worship and people to people.

We are all Jewish.

I don’t mean this in a post-9.11-We-are-all-Americans way; it’s not just about solidarity.

No, I mean this in a more fundamental, connected, intimate way; it’s harder to kill your own.

We are all Jewish.

I am a proud centro-sensible-prowar-unpc-lib

I am a proud centro-sensible-prowar-unpc-lib
: Both Roger L. Simon and Michael J. Totten (damn, I feel so classless, even naked not using a middle initial) answer my challenge — well, actually, my bit of sniveling beggging — that they not abandon the liberal label and instead retake and reform it.

Totten says in the comments:

I’ve been tempted to just start calling myself a centrist, but then you have to go and write stuff like this, so I just don’t know.

The whole labelling this is ridiculous, but I don’t want “liberal” to become synonomous with pacifism just yet. Or ever, for that matter. But at some point, and I don’t know where that point is, my differences with the peacenik crowd may just become too much for me.

And there’s nothing wrong with just being an independent centrist.

And Simon objects more to being called sensible than being called liberal: “I

The Palestinian solution

The Palestinian solution
: Michael J. Totten has a breathtaking column in Tech Central Station arguing that we must be careful, very careful not to reward terrorism:

It is time to ask ourselves honestly: Is it possible to support a Palestinian state without encouraging terrorists elsewhere?

There are many stateless Muslims; the Chechens in Russia, the Kurds in the Middle East, the Uighurs in Eastern China, and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Opinion leaders tsk-tsk the Russians, but no one holds demonstrations for the liberation of Chechnya. The Kurds are good people and they deserve their own state, but nearly everyone agrees it would only make trouble. Few even know the Uighurs exist. Meanwhile, as the Palestinians continue the jihad, the number of their supporters isn’t declining. It’s rising. The lesson for extremists is clear: the squeaky wheel gets greased.

Lest the Arab-Israeli conflict grind on indefinitely, Palestinians eventually need their own state. But we need to find a way to get them that state while discouraging bad actors elsewhere….

The trouble with the road map isn’t that Palestinians won’t cooperate. The problem is there’s no punishment if they don’t….

Before the intifada was launched in 2000, a Palestinian state was not a guaranteed outcome but an option to be negotiated. George W. Bush is the first American president to use the words “Palestinian” and “state” in the same sentence. Bill Clinton never went so far. Bush didn’t do this because the Palestinians are suddenly more deserving of a homeland. He did so because they violently demanded it.

It’s an object lesson for would-be terrorists elsewhere. Terror precipitates a crisis, generates public sympathy, and produces results on a much faster schedule….

Totten offers a different and decisive road map: “First, defeat terrorism. Second, nurture democracy. Third, negotiate a settlement.” Worth the read.

Tehran’s left bank

Tehran’s left bank
: Hooman has an interesting post saying that Iran is the France of the Middle East (and he knows you’ll read into that what you please). He lists the says and here’s the one that amused me:

8- Both countries make “artistic” movies that only the other one can make a head or tail of. That may explain why Iranian movies are so successful in the Cannes film festival.

Objectivity schmobjectivity

Objectivity schmobjectivity
: Robert L. Bartley, editor emeritus of the Wall Street Journal, writes today that objectivity in journalism is dead. But he writes about it from the wrong perspective, that of the journalists and their institutions, saying that objectivity is hard to maintain.

I look at it from the audience’s perspective instead. I’ve been saying in this space for sometime the success of both FoxNews and weblogs indicate that the audience expects opinion — and straightforward honesty about that opinion.

: Hylton Jolliffe of Corante also sends us to this article, Rethinking Objectivity.

: See also Bradford Pilcher.