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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ron Paul..Jew Hater in Chief?

Via a comment on Shadow Democracy
Ron Paul, my former boss, is not an explicit Anti-Semite, but he is most certainly anti-Israel and one could make a strong case - outright anti-Jewish.
During my 6-year stint with him, I served as his only Jewish staffer. He regularly touted me as proof against allegations that he wasn’t an Anti-Semite, even one time ordering me to wear Jewish clothing and attend a press conference of his Democrat opponent who was exposing his links to Anti-Semitic groups. I felt used.
(For the record, Ron did not know I was Jewish until I had already been hired.)
Ron and I finally departed ways, partly because I was ashamed to work for such an explicitly anti-Israel advocate.
If you still doubt his anti-Jewish/anti-Israel views, ask yourself this question:
Why is it that when Ron Paul talks about the evils of taxpayer dollars going overseas for foreign aid, he only singles out Israel as a recipient? Why does he never mention the billions we send each year to Egypt for foreign aide? Turkey, the Palestinians, other Nations? Never a peep out of Paul about those dollars. It’s just always the “Jews.”
Eric Dondero, Fmr. Senior Aide
US Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX)
Dondero also reveals that the infamous 95 percent of black men are criminals quote was actually authored by Lew Rockwell, Ron Paul's congressional chief of staff.
In fairness, the comments about Blacks being “fleet-footed” were written for Ron, though published under his name in his Ron Paul Newsletter, by his Top behind the scenes aide Lew Rockwell.
But the other comments about Israel being the most powerful lobby, were definitely Ron Paul’s words. In fact, I’ve heard him say similar comments on numerous occasions, some far more explicit, to private quasi-Anti-Semitic groups.
Taking into account my previous post, I have to wonder if a certain gay pagan quaker minister named Jim Christian Perry with a possible Jewish grandparent wasn't bullied into putting on "Jewish clothing" and going out to represent the Ron Paul campaign to defend Ron Paul against accusations of bigotry.
Eric commented further on this post describing the news conference
Thanks for asking about the press conference. It was quite an amusing incident actually. It was not only Ron who urged me to do it, but practically the whole campaign staff at the time, including Ron's longtime Campaign Manager and staunch Christian Right Conservative Mark Elam.
I went down to Victoria for the conference. Lefty Morris was waving some papers in the air accusing Ron Paul of being a closet NeoNazi. (This followed, btw, a huge protest weeks ealier in front of the Victoria Holiday Inn of activists waving signs, "Ron Paul is a Nazi...").
Well, I showed up with a yalmurka on my head, and carrying some Jewish insignias. It threw Morris off-kilter. He was watching me the whole time. Towards the end, the Victoria media turned to me and did an interview. It all hit the papers and the local TV station the next day.
Looking back it was quite brillant political theatre for a campaign. It worked.
But now I just feel like I was used.
It's funny that the Austin and Houston media were so viciously against "extremist far-out fringe Anti-Semite" Ron Paul in that 1996 Campaign. Now they are virtually supporting him, or at least completely silent on their former criticisms of him.
Now that Paul has switched to being a liberal, opposing the War, and bashing Bush, he's their best friend.
But back in 1996, they were 100% behind Lefty Morris.
*See more from Eric in the comments section to this post. Eric himself blogs at Libertarian Republican*

Jews for Ron Paul Exposed as a Fraud!
[The Jim C. Perry / Yaakov Perry Report]
Ron Paul, the Anti-Republican candidate for President and a favorite of White Supremacists like David Duke, has unveiled a new defense strategy to counter charges of Anti-semitism. The campaign of the candidate who claims to disdain ethnic collectivism now boasts an organization called "Jews for Ron Paul."
If Jews for Ron Paul puts you in mind of Jews for Jesus, you're not far wrong. Because Jews for Ron Paul is a scam.
Jim C. Perry (James Christian Perry, the C is short for Christian), the Executive Director of Jews for Ron Paul and heavily featured as the spokesman for the front group. Like many Jews for Jesus figures, Jim C. Perry claims to be an Orthodox Jew. The JTA article featured many of Perry's grandiose claims.
For Perry, an Orthodox Jew, there is a connection between his own religious beliefs about personal responsibility and the Libertarian philosophy underpinning Paul's candidacy.
"It's the idea that people are meant to be equal and free in a just society. Those are the same things that draw me to be an observant Orthodox Jew," said Perry. "I believe Judaism puts strong emphasis on individual meaning, personal responsibility," he said, adding that God "calls us to take responsibility for our own actions.".
Here I am a kipah-wearing, fringes-hanging Orthodox Jew...
The real Jim C. Perry though is not an Orthodox Jew, though he makes a point of dressing up like one until he's virtually a cartoon. He's gay and is currently married to a gay man and a self-identified Churchgoing Unitarian Universalist. Here he identifies himself as a Seminarian. He has another account where he calls himself Reverend Jim C. Perry H.P., M.D.A. (he also claimed to have a doctorate in English which he apparently modestly left off here all at the tender age of 22) and a Pagan Minister. Briefly he appears to have gone Ward Churchill and began calling himself Jim Flying Eagle. (He may have also used James L. Rush and posted at Cherokee Pride as James L. Rushing River pretending to be Cherokee)
Now Jim C. Perry, Gay Pagan Unitarian Minister (possibly also Cherokee and Mormon), thanks to a few photos in costume, is being passed off as an Orthodox Jew. A clear and unambiguous lie. Like everything else in the Ron Paul campaign, Jim C. Perry and Jews for Ron Paul is a lie.
Under the user name XSOIDEI, Jim C. Perry has posted at pagan sites as "Pagan GOP"
by Pagan GOP (Concord, NH)
I am quite offended by the person who the comment that the KKK and GOP are one and the same. I am a PROUD Republican and Pagan. I was hurt by your comments.
No, I do not support the War in Iraq, no Republican in his right mind would! Bob Barr, Ron Paul and Orrin Hatch, all GOPer in Congress were OPPOSED to the War!
I am very Liberty Minded.
Since universal unitarians are actually compatible with paganism this may not be a contradiction or it may be another case of Ron Paul supporters pretending to be members of various groups to rally support for him. There are signs of this with Jim C. Perry because he also appears to have been joining Mormon groups. Jim C. Perry or "Yaakov Perry" as he calls himself on the phony Yahoo Jews for Ron Paul group has penned announcements on behalf of "Jews for Paul" shilling for Ron Paul on Digg under YaakovPerry. There he has claimed to be Chabad, but here he claimed to be gay and a quaker.
Perry, who is gay, said he wants to help Democratic lawmakers protect and extend civil liberties in New Hampshire. Perry's marriage is recognized by his Quaker faith but not New Hampshire law.
He appears to run New England Flags and to be married to a man named Armen. If you're getting bored of this the sum total is that Jim C. Perry is a lot of things, including compulsive liar. He is not an Orthodox Jew. Jews for Ron Paul which he runs is a scam.
When I first wrote about Ron Paul, I noticed a burst of comments from people claiming to be Jewish and Ron Paul supporters. I suspected that most of them were fake, probably at least one of them was really Jim C. Perry who moonlights as a Jewish Ron Paul supporter, when he's not being a Pagan Ron Paul supporter, a Cherokee or a Unitarian Universalist. The JTA story on the Ron Paul campaign and Jim C. Perry or Yakov Perry needs to be changed to reflect the fact that he is not an Orthodox Jew.
The Jews for Ron Paul advisory board also features Burt or Burton Blumert, better known as the publisher of, a site named after Ron Paul's former Congressional Chief of Staff, that might be considered slightly to the left of Stormfront. Burton Blumert is not exactly the poster boy for those who would argue that Israel would be better off with Ron Paul.
Consider tidbits like this from his "essays" such as "My Palestinians."
It is obvious that Palestine under the British Mandate – an island of freedom and free enterprise as compared to rule by Istambul or Tel Aviv – led its citizens to a love affair with the gold sovereign that becomes more entrenched with time... My Palestinians haven't been calling much lately asking the price of the COIN. Their future doesn't look too bright, but they have survived horrible oppression in and around Israel, and, maybe, just maybe they will persevere."
The bulk of the "Jews for Ron Paul" board are associated with and with Mises and the Austrian School of Economics. Then there's Ilana Mercer, a WND columnist (a site which hosts pro-israel commentary but also the anti-semitic and anti-israel ravings of Pat Buchanan and Vox Day among others) who penned such articles as "Al Jazeera: Fair, Balanced & Banned"
"The only fair shake Israel ever gets in this country’s media is from Al-Jazeera. The women anchors are also beautiful and refined,”
The simple reality is that the Ron Paul campaign is Anti-Jewish and Anti-Israel but it is also extremely manipulative and deceptive. On the Jews for Ron Paul group, mainly non-Jewish figures hash out ways to sell Ron Paul to Jews utilizing political and religious arguments. The key one that has hit home with some is to claim that Ron Paul will "leave Israel alone."
I have no doubt that Ron Paul would eliminate foreign aid to Israel, but anyone who thinks that a bigot whom the David Duke website proclaims as their King and whose promoters include White Supremacist figures is just going to "leave Israel alone" really has not done a good job of learning from history. People like that don't leave Israel or Jews alone, whether they're libertarians, anarchists, conservatives or liberals.
The Ron Paul campaign is fantastically deceptive and the latest twists involve botnets and stolen credit cards. I have no doubt that Jim C. Perry, who's played a mormon, a pagan, a unitarian universalist and now an orthodox jew on the internet will quickly come back with excuses. No matter how red handed you catch them, Ron Paul supporters always have their excuses. What they completely lack is any honesty or integrity or trace of decency. As far as they're concerned any lie you tell to promote Ron Paul is justified and operating on its usual principle of plausible deniability in regard to the Neo-Nazis, Racists, 911 Deniers and other extremists and haters promoting Ron Paul, the Ron Paul campaign will shrug and claim this has nothing to do with them. Yeah, right.
And while Ron Paul supporters are targeting Jews one way, they're targeting Muslims in a whole other way that reveals the real slant. See here.
Ron Paul may be crazy but he's also dangerous. His supporters are pathologically deceptive and manipulative and behave in ways that are downright psychotic. Jews for Ron Paul has been exposed as a fraud, but don't expect it to go away. The Ron Paul campaign responded to revelations that Ron Paul has received a donation from a leading Neo-Nazi figures, not by returning the money, but by unveiling a Jews for Ron Paul group. Even if Jim C. Perry is dumped after this (which I suspect he won't be) the lies from Ron Paul supporters and the Ron Paul campaign will go on.
That's why it's important to go on exposing them.
Update 1: Jim C. Perry as a Democrat, the fallout and his failure to return campaign contributions despite promising to do so.
Update 2: Jim C. Perry's disastrous Libertarian party time Via Andrew Walden
Update 3: Linked to by Little Green Footballs, HotAir, Anti-Racist blog, American Thinker, Israel Matzav and Free Republic, Bookworm Room , Space Ramblings , Pillage Idiot,Ioterran, Maverick News Network among others.
Update 4: "Birth Name: James Christian Perry. I was named after my uncle James Perry, one of my father’s five brothers. My middle name was given to me in honor of a late friend of my parents." - In other words, Jews for Paul is run by James Christian Perry. Sigh.
Update 5: Ron Paul's Lone Jewish Staffer Speaks Out
Update 6: Jim C. Perry signed a thank you petition for army deserter Ehren Watada for his desertion.
Update 7: Jim C. Perry was originally the outreach liason for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community for the Free State Project. The wording of his messages is instructive.
Hey Skip, welcome! No, I am have been racking my brains trying to come up with ideas for how to pitch the FSP to the BGLT Community.
My boyfriend Micah (also on this list) already lives in NH and I am in the process of moving to NH.
I am trying to figure out a way to turn the whole gay marriage issue into a reason to join the ranks of the FSP. If it isn't hard for us to get the gay/les/bi wing of the poly crowd interested (as seen from the size of the poly yahoo group, if you have ever seen their numbers) then I don't see why we cant attract bglt people who arent poly into joining as well.
On that note thought, most polyamorus people learn of this group marriage option through books like Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein... a LIBERTARIAN author, so I must say they are usually already Libertarian leaning as it is.
And then a few years later Jim traded in Micah for Armen, began calling himself Yaakov and got assigned as the liason to the Jewish community and began racking his brains on how to pitch Ron Paul to the Jewish community. Lest anyone doubts that this is the same person, he lists the original website he used before he had to take it down after he got exposed at Free Republic.
Jim C. Perry was originally also the GLBT Outreach Director for the George Phillies campaign

Friday, December 23, 2011

President Obama says happy Hanukkah to Jews around the world

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have a message for Jews around the world: chag sameach.
That’s Hebrew for wishing someone a festive holiday, akin to a "happy holidays" greeting. The Obamas issued the following statement today in honor of Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, which begins tonight at sundown:
Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to all those celebrating Hanukkah around the world.
This Hanukkah season we remember the powerful story of a band of believers who rose up and freed their people, only to discover that the oil left in their desecrated temple –- which should have been enough for only one night –- ended up lasting for eight.
It’s a timeless story of right over might and faith over doubt –- one that has given hope to Jewish people everywhere for over 2,000 years. And tonight, as families and friends come together to light the menorah, it is a story that reminds us to count our blessings, to honor the sacrifices of our ancestors, and to believe that through faith and determination, we can work together to build a brighter, better world for generations to come.
From our family to the Jewish Community around the world, chag sameach.
Chag sameach and happy Hanukkah to all!

Friday, December 16, 2011

President Obama "My Commitment to Israel is Unshakeable"

December 16, 2011, 4:49 pm

In Obama Speech on Israel, No Mention of Palestinians

President Obama spoke at the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism.Doug Mills/The New York TimesPresident Obama spoke at the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism.
Less than a year before the presidential election, a pattern is emerging. The Republicans will outdo themselves to say the most provocative things they can to demonstrate they love Israel more than anyone else. And President Obama will counter by saying as little as he can about the Palestinians.
In a speech Friday to the convention of the Union for Reform Judaism, Mr. Obama sought to counter Republican criticism that he had been more supportive of the Palestinian cause than Israel by outlining how he had fought for Israeli interests over the last three years, providing unprecedented military and security aid and defending Israel on the world stage. He said that the United States hadn’t eliminated any options to combat Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, and promised to keep international pressure meant to rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
“We will keep standing with our Israeli friends and allies,” Mr. Obama said. “Don’t let anyone tell you a different story. We have been there, and we will continue to be there.”
What Mr. Obama did not get into much was any real discussion of the Palestinian issue, which has been stuck in neutral since his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September, when he said he would not back Palestinian statehood in the Security Council.
That has not, however, stopped Republican presidential candidates from sniping that Mr. Obama hasn’t shown enough support of Israel, and trying to contrast how different they would be if they were president. Newt Gingrich recently called the Palestinians an “invented” people whose leadership seeks the destruction of Israel, while both Mr. Gingrich and Mitt Romney said that they would be fine with moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv despite decades of American foreign policy based on the widely held belief that such a move would be inflammatory absent a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.
Whether any of the machinations do much to move the overwhelmingly Democratic Jewish vote remains to be seen. Mr. Obama on Friday was doing his best to remind his audience — the largest convention of reformist Jews in North America — that its values were Democratic values. He talked about the health overhaul law, the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and his work to make college education more affordable.
And, of course: “America’s commitment and my commitment to Israel and Israel’s security is unshakable,” Mr. Obama said. He added: “It is unshakable.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In Memory Of a Mensch, Earl Leslie Krugel

Tommorow we commemorate the birthday of Earl Krugel....At a time when Eretz Israel is under physical attack on a daily basis by the criminals of Hamas, the cowardly terrorist group, the murderers of babies and children, we pause to honor a man who gave his life for the Jewish people.

Murdered by a Nazi in prison, a shameful coward who sneaked up on the older man and slew him from behind.
This is the way of the anti-Jew.
The fear the Jew, they castigate him, because the light that shines from a Jewish soul casts it's brightest light on such evil little men, such as the vermin in Hamas, and the failures of men that populate hate groups such as Aryan resistance.
Earl was a grandfather, beloved by his family, and all who knew him.
Unlike the timid ambushers of Hamas and Hezbollah, who slay babies in their cribs , Earl was a man who boldly defended his people, aware of the possible consequences.

On Thanksgiving, it's a time for zikrown, for remembrance of a great man who paid the ultimate price  for his courage and humanity.

We at Earl Krugel Chai say a special prayer for you, Earl and Lola, and your family.

Baruch Hashem
I've included a letter we received about Earl from a few years ago which I feel captures some of his essence..

Earl Krugel (A letter From a Friend)
I met Earl at the Men's Federal Correction Center.
I was a Corrections Officer at the jail when Earl first arrived.

The first thing you noticed about him was he had some kind of inner strength, he didn't seem aloof, exactly, but it was like he had, I don't know how to describe it, (I'm not much of a writer) a power that he drew on out of himself.
The first day, during report, one of the other "C.O."s" told me, "That's Earl Krugel, a high profile case, David, he's the West coast Chairman of the Jewish Defense League."

I'd read about the case, of course, and the nickname, "Captain Krugel" popped into my head, so I always called him "Captain."
I found myself drawn to him immediately,
I was having some problems at home, I was separated from my wife, and Earl had a way of reaching out to people.
With all the legal problems he had himself, he spent his time counseling everyone around him, and he reached out to me, as well.

Late one morning I was doing rounds, I made a check next to his name and remarked, in "comments", "studying Bible, no apparent problems, adjusting well."
"How you doing, captain?" I asked.
"I am well," he said, lowering his leather bound Jewish Bible. "And you, David, how are you?"
Although, like I said, I found myself liking Earl immediately, as a trained professional I always did my best to appear impassive while conversing with inmates.
"I'm fine, Captain, just dandy."
He smiled a little and said, "Your words say one thing but your eyes say another."
I looked at him, "You're guessing. But you're right. It's my wife. Last night I went by to see her and there was a man there. I almost lost it. I could have killed the dude."
Earl got up and walked towards me. "There is a strength." he said, a slight smile on his lips.
"What are you talking about, Captain?" I asked.
His right hand shot out through the bars and grasped mine in a gentle yet vise-like grip.
I'd never seen a move that quick, yet I didn't feel threatened.
Something was flowing from him to me.
"Pull your hand away." He said.
I couldn't move.
"It's the strength of our people, our faith and our G-d." He said, and let my hand go.
"Our G-d?" I shot back. "You mean the one who let most of my family be tortured and murdered by the Germans in Europe?"
Earl's eyes were hooded but burning with intensity.
"You seek to know why.
You don't understand, so you turn your back on your faith, your people, your wife, and your
G-d." I started to walk towards the next cell. "Don't preach to me, Convict." I snapped.
Earl had a composure that was unreal.
"You don't understand the birth of a sapling in a Redwood forest. You don't understand the crash of waves on every beach in the world, one after the other. You don't understand the tears in the eyes of a hungry child. You don't understand the explosion of a supernova which pulls solar systems into the void and returns a million verdant planets, so do you now turn your back on the universe?"
I just looked at him.
"Your wife is coming back to you, David. Take her to synagogue, return to our people. Make babies. Be a light to the nations."
I spoke over my shoulder, cynically, "What are you now, Captain, a prophet?"
He grasped his bible from the bed and and gracefully lowered himself onto the floor of the cell, crossing his legs, the Book on his lap. "I am a man, David. A child of G-d, like you."

The next day there was a small riot in the day room. Two black convicts were beating Hell out of some poor white kid.
A phalanx of C.O.s headed towards the scene to break it up.
Earl emerged from a crowd of screaming inmates, grabbed the two black guys, one with each hand, and pulled them off of the kid.
"Enough!" he shouted.
A strange stillness descended over the inmates. The disturbance was over that quick.

Later, during rounds, I stopped by Earl's cell.
"Captain." I nodded, holding my clipboard.
"David." he responded, still sitting in what he later told me was the "Lotus position" on the cement floor.
I looked towards him. "Don't get involved in inmate situations, Captain, that's our job."
He smiled, "As you wish."
Earl stood up and stretched, doing some slow ballet looking martial arts movements.
I went on, "My wife called last night, Captain, she wants to try again."
He detected the joy in my voice.
" A man and a woman. Two people, one flesh. Treasure her, my young friend."

Earl and I grew closer over the years. I was relieved, though saddened, when he was sentenced and assigned to what was considered a "nice" prison, as prisons go.
I went to wish him well as they called his name to roll up, but was called to another wing for an issue over there.
I almost missed him.
I trotted back to Earl's cellblock and saw him for what was to be the last time.
"Captain, Captain!" I yelled as Earl headed down the stairway, a saint like expression on his handsome face.
I broke and ran as he looked back vaguely in my direction.
In a minute he'd be gone and I'd never see him again.
I caught him as he stepped off of the metal stairway and put my hand on his arm.
He turned around and looked at me.
Tears welled up in my eyes.
"What?" he asked, softly.
"Good luck." I said, and hugged him fiercely.

They took him away and I never got to see him again, but I will never forget that remarkable man.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Israel to continue hold on PA tax funds

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israel will maintain its freeze on transferring taxes collected for the Palestinian Authority.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his inner Cabinet of eight ministers in a meeting Sunday decided to continue the suspension that began early this month, shortly after the Palestinians were admitted as a full member of UNESCO, the U.N.'s scientific and cultural agency. The suspension will continue, according to Haaretz, due to new movement between Hamas and Fatah to form a unity government.
Israel transfers to the Palestinian Authority about $100 million in tax payments collected on the Palestinians' behalf each month.
The defense establishment, including Minister of Defense Ehud Barak, has called for the payments to be reinstated. Israeli security services reportedly have argued that withholding the funds, which go in part to pay Palestinian police officers, could hamper security arrangements in the West Bank.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman are strongly in favor of withholding the funds.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Dershowitz Defends Israeli Prisoner Exchange

Harvard Law School Professor Alan M. Dershowitz defended on Thursday Israel’s decision to secure the return of captured soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for the release of around 1,000 Palestinian prisoners as part and parcel of Israeli democracy, something that he said Western observers do not take sufficient care to understand.
Dershowitz made the remarks at a talk alongside Rabbi Jonathan H. Sacks, the chief religious leader of British Jews, and said that Israel’s decision to agree to a swap represents a vital democracy insofar as the movement to secure Shalit’s freedom was a popular one that was led by his family and carried out in the court of public opinion.
“No matter what we may think in the halls of academia ... ultimately, the decision has to be made by Israelis,” Dershowitz said.
Many observers have criticized Israel’s choice to release a large number of prisoners in exchange for Shalit’s return, a decision that many say will lead to further kidnappings of Israeli soldiers to be used as bargaining chips. Dershowitz pushed back against American criticism of Israeli policy by saying that American critics of Israel do not adequately take into consideration Israel’s status as a democracy, which he said entitles it to a greater degree of independence than some of its critics grant.
In the wake of the exchange, Dershowitz and Sacks both said it was important for Israel to retain its Jewish identity even in the hailstorm of conflict, adding that the long-standing tension between Israelis and Palestinians should, in principle, be able to lead to a sense of understanding between the two peoples.
Harvard Law School Professor Alan M. Dershowitz defended on Thursday Israel’s decision to secure the return of captured soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for the release of around 1,000 Palestinian prisoners as part and parcel of Israeli democracy, something that he said Western observers do not take sufficient care to understand.
Dershowitz made the remarks at a talk alongside Rabbi Jonathan H. Sacks, the chief religious leader of British Jews, and said that Israel’s decision to agree to a swap represents a vital democracy insofar as the movement to secure Shalit’s freedom was a popular one that was led by his family and carried out in the court of public opinion.
“No matter what we may think in the halls of academia ... ultimately, the decision has to be made by Israelis,” Dershowitz said.
Many observers have criticized Israel’s choice to release a large number of prisoners in exchange for Shalit’s return, a decision that many say will lead to further kidnappings of Israeli soldiers to be used as bargaining chips. Dershowitz pushed back against American criticism of Israeli policy by saying that American critics of Israel do not adequately take into consideration Israel’s status as a democracy, which he said entitles it to a greater degree of independence than some of its critics grant.
In the wake of the exchange, Dershowitz and Sacks both said it was important for Israel to retain its Jewish identity even in the hailstorm of conflict, adding that the long-standing tension between Israelis and Palestinians should, in principle, be able to lead to a sense of understanding between the two peoples.
“If there is anyone on earth who should be able to understand Jewish struggles, it’s Palestinians,” Sacks said. “And if there is anyone on earth who should be able to understand Palestinian struggles, it’s Jews.”
Dershowitz said that while the conflict is headed in the wrong direction politically, it is moving in the right direction intellectually.
“It can’t be based on ‘it’s our home’ or ‘it’s your home,’” Dershowitz said. “It’s the home of both people and both people have to live in peace with each other.”
Both Sacks and Dershowitz, two highly vocal advocates for a Jewish state, recognized the difficulty of the conflict. For all their expertise on the matter, neither Sacks nor Dershowitz had a clear view of whether the effort to achieve peace is progressing in the right direction.
Both men said that there was an inevitability to the tie between the Jewish people’s history and today’s Israel. Because Jews are unique in their perpetual homelessness, Israel remains a product of Jews’ history of trauma and expulsion, Sacks said.
“Jews discovered that there was not one inch on the face of the planet that they could call home,” Sacks said.
“It’s hard to see how, in a world in which there are 56 Islamic states and at least 82 Christian states, there isn’t room for one Jewish state,” Sacks added. “Whatever criterion you use, Jews have a right to this very small space.”

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Narrows

Ben-Gurion repeatedly faced down crises by fearlessly rejecting retreat and useless compromise. Obama would do well to follow his model.

Related Content

Q&A: Edward Luttwak

The military strategist talks about Israeli security, Henry Kissinger, the Arab Spring, and the death of Osama Bin Laden


As Israel fought for independence, David Ben-Gurion turned the military’s guns on Jews. In his new biography, Shimon Peres recalls his mentor’s greatest test.
Now an international airport and a university, as well as any number of boulevards in Israeli cities and towns, David Ben-Gurion—the man—was born in Płońsk, the Russian-ruled part of Poland in 1886. When he read Israel’s declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948, thereby inaugurating the first government of the first Jewish state in two millennia, he was already 62. In the years since, some 150 new states have been established. Most of these were the gift of colonial powers that handed them over to their new rulers as complete packages with everything ready from internationally recognized borders to a ministry of finance and a prison service. That was true of the post-Soviet states as well, except for the democratic bits, which their rulers mostly ignore anyway.
It was entirely different for Ben-Gurion. The state he led from its birth until 1963, with a fateful gap in 1954 and 1955, had to be created from the ground up, and he had to do much of the creating. The British left abruptly without any organized handover, evacuating their camps and abandoning their offices after taking away all removable equipment. To find clerks and office furniture was nowhere near as hard as finding weapons for an army, air force, and navy—and double-quick because Arab armies were already advancing. Stringent British and U.S. embargoes in the name of peace (with the already equipped Arab armies, including the British-officered Arab Legion left unmentioned) were meant to ensure the expected outcome. But even that near-insurmountable challenge was overcome under Ben-Gurion’s leadership by a variegated cast of unlikely characters that briefly included Josef Stalin (to hurt the British), the irrepressible Hank Greenspun of Las Vegas, the frighteningly smart secret agent Ehud Avriel, a British gentile RAF pilot who could fly any transport any distance, and others worthy of full-scale biographies.
Yet the greatest obstacle to the creation of the Jewish state were the Jews, or rather the Zionist leaders themselves. For all their talents, many were so conditioned by deeply rooted mental habits of dependence that they simply did not understand the absolute imperative of possessing state power. Some, including the religious, could not bring themselves to accept its inevitable military aspect. Guns were for Cossacks, not Jews—an attitude, or mere pose, that long lingered and indeed lingers still in benighted recesses, such as the editorial office of theNew York Review of Books.
As late as the Zionist Congress of 1946, held in Basel in the immediate aftermath of the most terrible demonstration of the ultimate survival risk of statelessness, Ben-Gurion met strong resistance when he pressed for a maximum effort to secure an independent state in Palestine. He was the leading Labor party politician, head of the World Zionist Organization, and chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, which actually built settlements and funded most Jewish institutions, including the Haganah militia. But in Basel, where everything had to be done democratically, the immensely prestigious Chaim Weizmann, who valued his easy access to the halls of the mighty in Britain as elsewhere, preferred continued British control, even as the British continued to block Jewish immigration into Palestine (nobody was impeding the many Arab migrants). As for the very strong Marxist contingent, newly reinforced by the reflected glory of the victorious Red Army, with its powerful kibbutz movement, and the coolest youth movement, Hashomer Hatzair, ennobled by leading the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, it wanted an indefinite U.N. mandate over the whole of Palestine to pursue the binationalism that some still long for. Then there were the non-socialist Zionists, many of whom much preferred caution to action. Outside the Congress, Menachem Begin’s Revisionists were very eager for a state, but only over the whole of Palestine, a non-starter.
Shimon Peres’ new Nextbook Press biography of Ben-Gurion earns its price in its very first pages by describing what happened next in Basel. Though there are much fuller accounts, Peres was actually there as head of the Labor party’s youth wing and as Ben-Gurion’s aide, and he saw it all at closest range. For Ben-Gurion, there was but one way of reconciling his utter certainty that the Jews needed a state with the widespread opposition he was encountering at the Congress.
Peres recounts that Ben-Gurion’s formidable wife Paula suddenly rushed down into the basement where the Labor caucus was meeting to tell a startled delegate that her husband had gone mad (“meshugge gevoren”). Instead of settling for a weasel-worded resolution, Ben-Gurion announced he was packing his bags and leaving Basel to start forming a new Zionist organization that would pursue independent statehood unhesitatingly. Faced with that, his many opponents among the Basel delegates dropped their objections and started working to make it happen.
For a true leader in a great crisis, the whole world is but a very narrow bridge, and the only important thing is not to be afraid, to reject ignominious retreat and useless face-saving compromises alike. When Ben-Gurion came to the narrow bridge at Basel, it was only his supremely courageous resolve to abandon the Congress and start all over again that won the day.
Ronald Reagan came to his narrow bridge at the very outset of his presidency. European leaders, his own secretary of State, academia, and the quality press were all telling him that in the nuclear age there was no alternative to coexistence with the USSR, hence it was imperative to resume talks leading to a summit meeting with Brezhnev. Having campaigned against détente, Reagan was being told to resume it—and quickly. Ignoring the establishment, Reagan flatly refused, embarking instead on a tenacious campaign to delegitimize the Soviet Union. His “evil empire” speech that must now be judged prophetic was universally ridiculed at the time.
Bill Clinton was famously deft at avoiding narrow bridges, but when he could not he showed the mettle of true leadership, notably by out-staring House Speaker Newt Gingrich and accepting a federal government shutdown in December 1995 rather than unwanted budget cuts. That was the very clear precedent that President Barack Obama chose not to follow this year. He had weighty justification in our time of global fiscal insecurity. But by allowing the Republicans to dictate the outcome of the budget fight, Obama crippled his own leadership, and even a string of foreign policy successes may not repair the damage.
The newly inaugurated Clinton was also forced to choose between the youthful activists on the left of the Democratic party—many backed by lavishly funded environmentalist lobbies, both of which had done much to elect him—and the dour voices on the right of the party. After 12 years of Republicans in the White House, they wanted more of the same: fiscal prudence and regulatory restraint. Clinton chose the right, broke the tender hearts of the more innocent of his supporters, and paved the way for eight years of economic growth and high employment.
Obama once again did not follow Clinton. Having been elected with enthusiastic Wall Street support and funding from top financiers, he could not bring himself to break their tender hearts, or rather their wallets, when their firms were bailed out. With a tough Secretary of the Treasury—the opposite of his ever-emollient Timothy Geithner, who whines when he attempts to upbraid the Chinese—Obama would not have needed any new laws to force Wall Street firms out of dangerous practices and to stop them from paying spectacularly outrageous bonuses to their failed executives, which rankle still. Instead, at a time when most firms were on federal life support, Geithner feebly said that there was nothing he could do, and Obama allowed himself to be rolled with him.
It was just as well that Ben-Gurion had more than his share of courage because he had to face more than his share of narrow bridges. In June 1948 the first Arab onslaught was being precariously held, with Egyptian tanks some 25 miles from Tel Aviv, when a brief U.N. ceasefire came into effect. It was then that the Altalena, a ship outfitted by Menachem Begin’s Etzel militia, arrived with desperately needed weapons and some 800 volunteers. Ben-Gurion was concerned by the violation of the U.N. cease-fire, but very much more by the challenge to the new state’s monopoly of force. He wanted the Etzel dissolved into the newly established Israel Defense Forces, not reinforced with weapons and volunteers that threatened to make Israel into another Lebanon of rival militias. When urgent talks failed, it came to force at Ben-Gurion’s orders, with the 26-year-old Yitzhak Rabin already a brigade commander in charge of the firing that burned the Altalena directly in front of the Tel Aviv beach, a mere 100 meters offshore in full view of the horrified population.
It was outrageous cruelty to fire on Jewish volunteers, but once again Ben-Gurion persuaded all around him that there was no valid alternative to the hardest option, as indeed there was not. Peres was there as an aide, not a soldier, but he had to get hold of a rifle in case the Etzel would attack Ben-Gurion himself. (Begin did not lack courage either: He boarded the ship and was almost the last to jump off with the ammunition already exploding. Then he went on to his radio station to denounce Ben-Gurion, but also to accept the Etzel’s dissolution to avoid civil war.)
Ben-Gurion was active in foreign affairs for decades in one capacity or another (he dealt with Ottoman officials before 1914), but it was only in 1956 that he came to two narrow bridges in a row in foreign policy. The first was the secret negotiation with the British and the French over their concerted 1956 attack on Egypt that preceded Israel’s Sinai campaign. Its swift success in conquering the peninsula eventually led to the second: President Dwight Eisenhower’s ultimatum, demanding Israel’s total withdrawal, but with irreversible gains. Ben-Gurion had met Eisenhower in 1945 when as head of the Jewish Agency he visited Germany’s displaced persons’ camps, and preceding revisionist historians by decades, he saw great wisdom in the man. Once again in the room when it happened, Peres gives a uniquely intimate account of what ensued in both cases. Of the first bridge, suffice it to say that when Ben-Gurion was asked to open the negotiations, as if he were the one asking for help, he asked only one question of French Prime Minister Guy Mollet: “When did the French stop writing in Latin to switch to French?” (To find out how that made all the difference, one really must read the book.)
Given Obama’s more than adequate record in the hard business of fighting terrorists, and his sound preference for doing less rather than too much in refractory Muslim lands after the huge error of the Afghan troop surge, it is in economic policy that he must stop backing out from narrow bridges. As Israel’s prime minister during the heroic first years of the Israeli economy, when some 800,000 inhabitants fed, housed, and assimilated more than a million destitute immigrants with little outside help, Ben-Gurion would have failed totally had he failed economically. His successful calls for austerity—there was very strict food rationing—and solidarity from all, showed classic leadership.
But there was also Ben-Gurion’s willingness to reject conventional wisdom and embrace whatever worked. Instead of expensively educated Geithners who fit their government passages into their personal career plans, he had the likes of Pinchas Sapir, a minister of industry who created out of nothing many of the industries he supervised, and who died almost penniless in a modest apartment in a then very modest Kfar Saba after years of courting the wealthy to invest in Israel, because he was greedy only for the honor of public service. It was by every innovative expedient under the sun, through many a wrong turn, that Sapir, and Israel more broadly, succeeded economically. With many millions of Americans in acute economic distress, Obama should not leave the search for innovative expedients to his Republican opponents, nor should he allow himself to be held back by his advisers who confuse the entire economic system with a handful of the very largest firms that offer the best positions to former U.S. government officials.
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Irv Rubin and Earl Krugel