On the Risk of Believing Things that aren’t True

The rulers of Iran continue to poke sticks into the Iraeli hornet’s nest.  Of course, religious zealots, both secular and “spiritual” have done this since time immemorial, whenever they’ve gained enough power to make themselves a nuisance.  Every religion implies an outgroup.  For the Communist secular religion, the outgroup was the “bourgeoisie.”  In Cambodia, they murdered 2 million out of a population of 7 million in order to destroy the “bourgeoisie,” beheading the country in the process.  Spiritual religions tend to be longer lived than the secular variety because it’s impossible to fact check them until after you’re dead.  As a result the specific outgroups they focus on as “enemies of God” tend to vary somewhat over the centuries.  The fashion among the Christians, for example, has gone from murdering Jews to slaughtering heretics to burning witches and back again over the years.  The more “imperialist” Moslems have always focused more on seizing the territories of “infidels,” and continue to do so in the case of Israel.

This habit of attacking outgroups in order to please some non-existent supernatural being, to promote some fantastic “forces of history,” to acquire “Lebensraum” for some nonexistent race, or whatever, is becoming increasingly risky.  The risk is becoming particularly acute at the moment in the case of Iran.  The Jews, always an attractive outgroup because they have typically been both different and weak, have just experienced the result of “passive resistance” against a powerful enemy who wants to kill you.  I suspect that they’re not inclined to try it twice, and this time they’re armed with nuclear weapons.   The theocratic rulers of Iran, who “sigh for the prophet’s paradise to come,” and confidently expect their reward in the next world, are, of course, indifferent to the threat.  The citizens of Iran who are less sanguine about the existence of a next world, or who suspect that the one awaiting their rulers might turn out to be more tropical than they expect, would do well to either emigrate or start digging.

The “Israeli” Jack the Knife; Lying by Omission

I read four or five accounts of the arrest of serial killer Elias Abuelazam in the local and national mainstream media, and in none of them was he identified as other than an “Israeli.” Apparently the editors thought the fact that he happens to be an Arab Christian, and not a Jew, didn’t fit the narrative was not significant enough to mention. These people seem to believe they can still play the same games they did back in the 60’s and 70’s when they had an effective monopoly as gatekeepers of public information. It’s as if they haven’t noticed that times have changed, and there are now powerful alternative voices that will nail them every time. They keep losing credibility and market share, but it just doesn’t seem to matter to them. Perhaps they’ve finally tired of the “objectivity” charade, and have decided to content themselves with preaching to the choir.

The End of Anti-Semitism Lite?

The prevailing fashion among anti-Semites on both the right and left of the political spectrum has long been to rationalize their hatred of Jews as “anti_Zionism,” or hide it behind a grotesque double standard in matters relating to Israel. If the recent claim by a campaign spokesperson for Democratic Congressman Mike McMahon that his opponent was taking “Jewish money” is any guide, they are becoming increasingly unconcerned about maintaining the charade.

I ran across another piece of anecdotal evidence on my way to work yesterday. The guy who stands across the street from Union Station in Washington with signs like “Impeach Bush” (a few months before the 2008 election) had one that said, “Jews Get Out of the West Bank, Now!” Of course, this particular political activist is of doubtful sanity. However, his reference, without resort to euphemisms, to the only form of ethnic cleansing currently accepted as “morally righteous” by the ostentatiously pious of the world shows you which way the wind is blowing. It also demonstrates once again why the existence of the State of Israel is both justified and necessary.

UPDATE: Anti-Semitism Lite is apparently still alive and well at the BBC. Readers who follow how the “news” is reported by the bloated British monopoly, described by Andrew Sullivan in his more lucid days as “NPR on steroids,” will recall the furious and obsessive diatribe the Beeb carried on a while back against Israel’s border fence. It’s articles on the subject were usually salted with an undercurrent of contrived virtuous indignation. Meanwhile, it continued its studious lack of concern about the continued ethnic cleansing of Jews from any number of countries in North Africa and the Middle East, not to mention the many discriminatory laws against them. Here are the “zinger” lines, ubiquitous at the end of articles in the European and US mainstream media to make sure that even the denser readers get the “moral of the story,” in an item about Israel’s retaliation for the latest rocket attack from Gaza.

Correspondents say such attacks are almost always ineffective, with rockets mostly landing in open fields.

In other words, Israel should not object to rocket attacks unless they actually kill a number of civilians large enough to please the BBC.  After all, the Brits wouldn’t mind if France started launching rockets onto their territory as long as the attacks only killed an odd farmer here and there. 

One Thai farmer in Israel has been killed in the past year.

Why, heck, the only one actually killed was a Thai.  They don’t even count.

Dozens of Palestinians, some of them civilians, have been killed in attacks from Israel over the same period.

A re-packaging of the threadbare “disproportionate force” argument, once again ignoring the fact that this latest “cycle of violence” was not started by Israel.  To put it more generally, the elephant in the closet that is invariably ignored in such “news” stories about the Middle East is that the violence there would end tomorrow if Israel’s enemies recognized her right to exist.  They provoke the violence and they alone have the power to end it.  Until they do, the farcical play acting known as the Middle East “peace process” will continue to be an effort in futility.  Once they do, the violence will end.

Palestinian “Victims” – Bill Maher Gets It

The dead tree media and the rest of the vanilla left used to support Israel – before they cleaned their enemy’s clocks in 1967 and 1973. That made it difficult to strike pious poses as Israel’s “saviors.” After all, the Jews could defend themselves. Ergo, they switched sides to the Palestinians, who made much better “victims.” If your whole ideology is about ostentatious displays of superior righteousness, that’s all that matters. There’s no more intellectual depth to their hatred of Israel than that. Once the “victim” was identified, rational analysis of the conflict became superfluous. All that remained was to rationalize a forgone conclusion, and indulge in the usual orgy of self-righteousness.

“Peace Activist” Photoshopping at Reuters

The Lid has the goods on them: In a photo released by Reuters, an Israeli commando is shown lying on the deck of the “aid” ship, surrounded by activists. The uncut photo released by the Turkish group that staged the propaganda stunt shows the hand of an unidentified activist holding a knife. In the Reuters photo, the hand is visible but the knife has been cropped out. Reuters is “shocked, shocked” that it was caught in the act that its “layers of editors and fact checkers” didn’t catch the mistake.

Update: LGF takes note of another “inadvertent mistake” at the top of his blog.

The Turkish Definition of Murder

At 95 years and counting, Turkey cries “murder” over a propaganda stunt, but continues to deny responsibility for the genocidal murder of 1.5 million Armenians in World War I. Those murders are amply documented, for example, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

According to the Turkish regime, this is murder:

This is not murder:

The Western Media and Hamas Propaganda

If you’re interested in the dead tree media’s narrative of the day, just check The Washington Post’s designated propaganda column on the upper right of the front page. You’ll usually find all the talking points that are fit to print. The headline of today’s column sums it up in five words; “Nations decry blockade of Gaza.”

The article might have been written by a Hamas press agent. The byline; White House Urges Change. Right, we all know how that “change” thing works. In this case, “change” means the unchecked flow of rockets and other war material into Gaza from the sea, to supplement the more limited supply coming through tunnels from Egypt. The first sentence reads,

Israel’s botched and deadly commando raid on an aid flotilla has set off widespread international criticism of the Gaza blockade, with popular opinion in many countries swinging heavily against Israel and even the United States urging its ally to find new ways to allow aid shipments to reach the Palestinians.

The Post doesn’t further describe the magical and instantaneous polling process that allowed it to discover that “popular opinion in many countries” was “swinging heavily against Israel” a mere one day after the incident. There is no mention of the responsibility of Hamas and its dupes in the “peace movement” for deliberately provoking a violent incident that cost the lives of nine people. It is all the fault of Israel and its “botched and deadly commando raid.” No mention is made of the fact that the promoters of this propaganda stunt made no attempt whatsoever to negotiate with Israel on the delivery of aid, and that Hamas is refusing it in spite of Israel’s agreement to let it pass through the checkpoints. It’s all Israel’s fault. It must “find new ways” to get the aid through in spite of the demonstrated intransigence of its enemies.

Reading on we find that the raid “has endangered the push for sanctions against Iran and peace efforts in the Middle East,” as if such sanctions weren’t an effort in futility that will have zero effect on the government of Iran whether “the push” succeeds or not, and as if the “peace efforts in the Middle East” were not pabulum for idiots who can never seem to grasp the fact that there would be peace in the Middle East tomorrow if Israel’s enemies conceded her right to exist, and that any “peace process” that doesn’t insist on that right is nothing but a charade.

We learn that the raid “tarnished Israeli relations with onetime allies, especially Turkey,” as if the Erdogan regime hadn’t been leading Turkey away from secular democracy towards an Islamic theocracy for years. There’s the usual, mealy-mouthed he said, she said,

Israeli officials say the demonstrators attacked the commandos with axes and metal rods, while flotilla organizers say the troops used excessive force on unarmed civilians.

No matter that video footage of the incident clearly shows these “unarmed civilians” swarming the Israeli boarders and beating them with iron bars and clubs. As usual, Israelis aren’t allowed to act in self defense, no matter that six of her soldiers were hurt, including two with life-threatening injuries.

We get the usual imbecilities about the “legality” of the Israeli blockade, as if international law were not perfectly clear on the point:

Central to the criticism of Israel were questions about the legality of its actions. The raid took place on a ship that was apparently unarmed, in international waters. But Allen Weiner, a former State Department lawyer and legal counsel at the U.S. Embassy at The Hague, said Israel was technically operating legally.

Israel wasn’t “technically operating legally.” It was operating legally, period. The last time I looked, the international law relating to sea blockades had changed very little over the last 150 years, and it unequivocally supports Israel’s right to blockade Gaza.

It goes without saying that WaPo “doesn’t notice” the strong support for Israel in venues such as the blogosphere, talk radio, and Foxnews. That would only confuse her readers, who are expected to believe that “peace activists” with big mouths have a monopoly on deciding “world opinion.”

In a word, the narrative hasn’t changed. Regardless of the facts, it’s always Israel’s fault, her enemies share none of the blame, she has no right to defend herself, the fact that hundreds of rocket attacks were launched against her from Gaza doesn’t matter, nor does the fact that her enemies have the power to bring peace to the region immediately, simply by accepting Israel’s right to exist. Many inside and outside Israel have been pointing out that her leaders should have known the purpose of the flotilla was not to deliver aid, but to provoke an incident that could be exploited for propaganda, and reacted accordingly. True, but that’s not really the story here. The story is the willingness of the western media to serve as uncritical propaganda mouthpieces for people who have launched thousands of attacks deliberately intended to murder civilians. The story is that media’s studied indifference to those crimes as long as their intended victims are Jews.

Israel has a right to exist. Unless she prevails, her people face another Diaspora in an increasingly hostile world at best. If the “peace activists” have their way, it is more likely that they will face another Holocaust. I and many other gentiles may not count in the Post’s assessment of “world opinion,” but we wish her well, for all that. May her people never lose their nerve or their courage.

Of Assassinations in Dubai and Ideological Narratives

In the ancient times before the blogosphere, when even Internet forums were still a novelty, and blogs nonexistent, one occasionally ran across mainstream media types who would hilariously claim, with a perfectly straight face, that their news reporting was “objective.”  Nowadays such specimens have become a great rarity, seldom encountered outside of circus side shows.  Even the lowliest of trolls are now well aware of the existence of what is referred to as the “narrative.”  The narrative requires that reality be “adjusted” to conform to a particular ideological point of view.  These adjustments are seldom applied in the form of blatant lies.  In these days of instant Internet fact checking, it has simply become too risky.  Rather, one only reports stories that conform to the narrative, perhaps after trimming them of certain “irrelevant details” and adding some “interpretation” by “experts” to make sure readers don’t miss the point.  In other words, the story is massaged until, as the Germans put it, “Es passt in den Kram” (It fits in with the rest of the crap).

Sometimes events of such a shocking nature occur that even the most carefully crafted narratives must be adjusted to account for them.  One such event was, of course, the demise of Communism.  As one might expect, it left the narrative of the “progressive left” in a shambles.  A new, somewhat ramshackle version had to be cobbled together, from such ideological flotsam and jetsam as bobbed to the surface after the Soviet Titanic slid beneath the waves, combined with some interesting new twists.  One of the more amusing of these is the left’s increasingly steamy love affair with the more extreme Islamists.  It seems odd on the face of it that ideologues who once posed as champions of women’s liberation and gay rights, and vehemently denounced the agenda of the Christian right, are now found in such a warm embrace with misogynistic, homophobe religious fanatics.  However, Homo sapiens has never really been a rational animal.  We are simply better than the other animals at using reason to satisfy our emotional needs.  When it comes to emotional needs, there are those among us whose tastes run to “saving” the rest of us and making us all “happy” by stuffing the messianic world view du jour down our collective throats.  These are the familiar types who love to strike heroic poses on the “moral high ground.”  Marxism scratched their emotional itch admirably for many years, but has lately fallen out of fashion.  When it did, it left something of a psychological vacuum in its wake.  Mercifully, no brand new surefire prescription for saving humanity was waiting in the wings to take its place.  Instead, radical Islamism has rushed in to fill the vacuum.  When it comes to messianic world views, it is, for the time being at least, the only game in town.  Incongruous successor to Marxism that it is, it still scratches that itch.  The “progressive left” jumped on board.  It should really come as no surprise.  After all, back in the day, they managed to convince themselves that they were “saving the world” by collaborating in the mass murders of Pol Pot and Ho chi Minh, not to mention Stalin. 

Artifacts of this Islamist – leftist love affair are not hard to find.  When it comes to the European news media, for example, it takes the form of anti-Semitism Lite, often euphemistically referred to as “anti-Zionism.”  It manifests itself in the form of obsessive, one-sided bashing of Israel for the slightest real or imagined infractions of the left’s version of “morality,” combined with a the turning of a blind eye to the far more egregious misdeeds of her enemies.  For example, deliberate attempts by the Islamists to murder Israeli civilians with barrages of rockets are reported with as much emotional detachment as the next day’s weather, but grossly exaggerated accounts of atrocities in Gaza and “blood libel” fables about the harvesting of organs from Palestinian victims become the stuff of persistent propaganda campaigns without the slightest shred of proof. 

The process is nicely illustrated by the manner in which the news about the recent assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai has been reported in Europe.  There, as in the US, the “progressive left” tends to be over-represented in the legacy media.  It is overwhelmingly the case in Germany, where no equivalent of our talk radio or influential bloggers exists to restore a semblance of balance.  Consider, for example, the coverage in Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading news magazine.  A story about the assassination that appeared last week began with the ominous headline, “How Israel Covered Mossad’s Trail.”  The opening blurb reads, “The Israeli secret service will neither ‘confirm nor deny’ its involvement in the murder of Hamas weapons dealer Mabhouh.  However, the Dubai assassin who went by the cover name Michael Bodenheimer left a trail behind him:  In Cologne and in Israeli Herzliya.”  The rest of the article is a collection of circumstantial evidence combined with suggestions that the crime had all the earmarks of a Mossad hit. 

The “news” here is hardly that Mossad wasn’t involved in the hit.  It’s the disconnect between the way Spiegel reported on this story, which happened to fit its anti-Israel narrative, and the way it reports on similar stories that don’t.  Take for example, the involvement of Al Qaeda in 911.  This was a story that most decidedly did not fit Spiegel’s pro-Islamist narrative at the time.  It also came at an inconvenient time, as Spiegel was in the forefront of a quasi-racist German jihad against the United States that reached levels of obsessive viciousness at about the time of 911 that would scarcely be credible to Americans who can’t read German.   Nevertheless, all the same circumstantial evidence was there, complete with a trail leading back to Germany.  In this case, however, instead of accepting the obvious, Spiegel’s editors dug in their heels, and tried to create an alternate version of reality.  They began what I referred to at the time as the “Spielchen mit den Beweisen,” or “cute little game with the proofs,” coming up with ever more contrived reasons to dismiss the increasing mountain of evidence pointing to Al Qaeda’s guilt.  Even when bin Laden appeared on tape, practically jumping up and down and screaming, “We did it!  We did it!” the editors refused to throw in the towel.  They were nothing if not stubborn.  Reality was what they said it was, and the rest of the world be damned!  They pointed out that (aha, oho), the translators of the videotape had been in the employ of the evil Americans.  They produced their own “translators” from the enormous pool of experts they have constantly at their beck and call, ready to “prove” the most absurd concoctions.  These came up with a “corrected” translation on demand which (surprise, surprise) exonerated bin Laden.  Only after a chorus of native Arab speakers in countries that could hardly be portrayed as “friends” of the United States pointed out that Spiegel’s “translators” were sucking canal water, did the editors finally give over, muttering dark comments about the “exegesis of videotapes.” 

In a word, then, as far as ideologues are concerned, be they on the left or the right of the political spectrum, the “real world” is what fits the narrative.  When it comes to dishing out blame, let him beware whom the ideological shoe fits.

UPDATE:  It’s odd that Spiegel didn’t pick up on this.  Looks like prime material for another “Spielchen mit den Beweisen” to me.

German Anti-Semitism circa 1870

Charles Ryan
Charles Ryan

Some of the best and most interesting books I’ve ever read were those I’ve randomly picked out while wandering through the stacks at university libraries.  Occasionally you’ll find nuggets of information and forgotten stories you never would have gone looking for intentionally.  One book, in particular, made a lasting impression on me.  It was entitled, “With an Ambulance during the Franco-German War,” and was published in 1896 by Charles Edward Ryan.  In those days an “ambulance” was a sort of mobile field hospital, occasionally, as in this case, manned by volunteers.  Their neutrality was respected by both sides, and, occasionally, as the lines moved one way or the other with the fortunes of war, they would find themselves under a different flag than the day before.  In fact, this happened to the author at the decisive Battle of Sedan, where Napoleon III and his entire army were surrounded and forced to surrender, and on several other occasions.  War was a great deal less professional in those days.  Instead of shooting the author as a spy, the Germans gave him a pass to travel through France and Germany at will, requisitioning billets and train passes as needed to tend the sick.  So it was that on one occasion he found himself on a train in the same compartment with some German officers and a hapless Jew. 

I have occasionally read and heard claims to the effect that the German officer corps was not tainted by the anti-Semitism of the Nazis.  See, for example, the memoirs of von Papen, a conservative who agreed to serve as Vice-Chancellor in Hitler’s first government in the fond hope that he could be “managed.”  Based on Ryan’s account, however, that wasn’t entirely true.  I will let him speak for himself.

I had seen Ferrieres, the palace of a Frankfort Jew, with admiration, all the more that it had been respected as a sanctuary by orders from the Prussians. Yet it was during this same journey that I witnessed an incident in which a Jew was the hero or the victim, that filled me with astonishment, as it may do my readers who happen not to be acquainted with the ways of the Fatherland. I had frequently heard the Jews spoken of by my German friends in language of supreme contempt; but never did I realize the depth of that feeling until now.

In the railway compartment in which I travelled, all were German officers except myself and one civilian. The latter had got in at a wayside station, and sat at the furthest corner opposite me. My companions began without delay to banter and tease him unmercifully, all the while addressing him as Lemann. He was a small stunted person, in make and features an Israelite, and not more than twenty-five. The behavior of his fellow-travelers seemed to give him no concern ; as they fired off at him their sneering jests, he scanned them with his sharp eyes, but did not move a muscle.
I inquired of the officer next me, who spoke English well, how it came to pass that they knew this stranger’s name. He explained that Lemann was the common term for a Jew in their language, going on to describe how much the sons of Jacob were detested throughout Germany ; and for his part he thought they were a vile horde, who laid hands on everything they could seize, in a way which we English were incapable of fancying. The officers, he added, were all getting down to have some beer at the next station, and by way of illustration he would show me what manner of men these Jews were; and as he said the words, he took off his hairy fur-lined gloves, and threw them across the carriage to our man in the corner, remarking, “There, Lemann! it is a cold day”. The Jew picked up the gloves eagerly, which he had missed on the catch, and pulled them on. When we were nearing the station, the officer who had thrown the gloves at him, took off his fur rug, and flung that also to the Jew. Once more he accepted the insulting present, and quickly rolled the rug about him. Finally, a third threw off his military cloak, and slung it on the Jew’s back as he was passing out. This, again, the wretched creature put on ; and their absence at the buffet left him for the next ten minutes in peace.

Presently the horn sounded, and our Germans came back. One seized his rug, another his cloak, and finally, my first acquaintance recovered his gloves by one unceremonious tug from Lemann’s meekly outstretched fingers. My own face, I think, must have flushed with indignation ; but the others only laughed at my superfluous display of feeling; and Lemann, shrugging his shoulders, — but only because of the sudden change of temperature when his wraps were pulled away,—took out of his pocket a little book with red print, which he began to read backwards, and, turning up the sleeve of his coat, began to unwind a long cord which was coiled round his wrist and forearm as far as the elbow. Every now and then he would stop the unwinding, and pray with a fervor quite remarkable, then unwind his cord again, and so on till the whole was undone. For a time the officers resumed their jeering ; but, seeing that it was like so much water on a stone, they turned the conversation, and allowed the unhappy Jew to continue his devotions unmolested till he got out at Strasburg. What would these officers have done, had they travelled in the same railway carriage with M. de Rothschild?

Evidently, anti-Semitism was alive and well in the German officer corps long before the rise of the Nazis.  I had often thought of scanning Ryan’s book myself to preserve this and the many other interesting historical anecdotes it contains, such as his account of one Dr. Pratt, a former large slave owner who had served with the Confederate medical staff, and was now in exile along with one of his slaves, who had joined him to serve as cook for the ambulance.  When I found the book in the stacks of the University of Maryland, I found its pages badly deteriorated because of the acid paper they were printed on.  The initial printing had been very small, and I suspect very few copies remained by the time I discovered the book.  However, as can be seen by the link above, Google has already preserved a digital copy.  I don’t know how or why they undertook the massive effort of preserving so many valuable old books, but, regardless, I am grateful to them for it.  In this day of Holocaust deniers, 911 truthers, and assorted other tribes of historical revisionists, the more source material we preserve, the better. 

In answer to your question, by the way, no, I am not Jewish.

BBC Declares Military Aggression Legitimate!

According to the BBC, the Arab seizure of Palestine in a successful act of military aggression was legitimate, and the Jews must now be considered “occupiers” in their own homeland. According to that logic, the Indians are illegal “occupiers” of their reservations and the other lands they control in the United States. I would be very grateful to the BBC if one of their spokespersons would explain the difference. The attempt should prove very amusing.