Jabotinsky, Netanyahu, and the American debates

When I arose at 0330 this morning to watch the American presidential debates, I couldnt help but think about the concept of leadership what makes a good leader and why its rare to find one who is also a good politician. So I was pleased to run into this very interesting article by Elliott Jager about a man who was a great leader of the Jewish people, although he was not successful as a politician and unfortunately died far too soon.

The man, of course, was Zeev Jabotinsky, whom generations of left-leaning politicians dismissed as a fascist and an extremist, and whom many still think of as a footnote in Zionist history that is best kept at the bottom of the page.

But Jager points out that Jabotinskys positions were more nuanced than many think today. As a classical liberal, he was absolutely committed to the protection of individual rights (something that the Left likes to talk about a great deal while doing the precise opposite).

This includes the rights of Arabs in the Jewish state. Jabotinsky clearly saw the distinction between civil rights, such as those enumerated in the American Bill of Rights, and national or collective rights, the most obvious example of which is the Law of Return for Jews alone. Those who insist that the Jewishness of the state is essentially undemocratic elide this distinction. Jabotinskys demand for a state with national rights for the Jewish people was uncompromising, but he would never have accepted discrimination against minorities within the state.

Jabotinsky would not have agreed to limitations on where any citizen could live, but he would also have rejected Arab demands to change the flag and the national anthem, which are clearly national issues. And while he lived a secular life and was opposed to any kind of religious coercion, he nevertheless respected Judaism. Jager notes that the food at his Betar youth movement camps was kosher and Shabbat was respected.

One of the themes that Jabotinsky returned to throughout his life was the centrality of Jewish self-sufficiency and self-defense, and the importance of military power in the survival of a state. I suspect that he would be as uncomfortable with Israels degree of dependence on the US as I am. Jager quotes him saying,

For centuries, the nations of the world had been used to hearing that Jews were defeated here, and Jews were protected there ‒ you either defeated or protected us ‒ and it is difficult to decide what was more humiliating: the defeats or being protected. It is time to show the world a Jewish rifle with a Jewish bayonet.

Jabotinsky died at 59 in 1940, but he was the ideological father of Begins Herut party, the secular Right in Israeli politics. As everyone knows, Begin lost out in the struggle with the socialists of David Ben-Gurion, and as happens when an ideological group gains power the personalities and ideas of the out-group are denigrated and even written out of history. Ben-Gurion didnt even permit Jabotinskys remains to be interred in Israel, and he wasnt reburied here until the next PM, Levi Eshkol, ordered it in 1964. Even though the Labor monopoly ended in 1977, Jabotinsky still, in my opinion, doesnt get the credit he deserves as one of the fathers of the Jewish state.

Jager suggests that todays Right is more religious and populist (whatever that means) than Jabotinsky would have liked. One would be hard pressed to find anything more than trace elements of his legacy in Netanyahu government policies or in the views of rank-and-file Likud members, he writes. And,

In contrast, todays more religious and populist Right has been pursuing legislation that would hamstring Israels admittedly hyper-activist Supreme Court so as to bend it to popular will. On civil liberties too, the Right has no interest in limiting the power of the state-established ultra-Orthodox (and non-Zionist) rabbinate. Netanyahu, though personally not observant, has allowed Jerusalems Western Wall plaza to be administered as if it were an ultra-Orthodox shtiebel.

I would argue that the Supreme Court needs to be reined in not to make it agree with the popular will, but rather because it has elevated its concept of democracy which blurs the distinction between national and civil rights above Zionism. Jabotinsky would explain this distinction to the honorable justices, as well as the absolutely essential Jewish component in the concept Jewish and democratic state. Indeed, Netanyahu, in pushing for a Jewish State Basic Law that would explicate the meaning of Jewish State in Israels effective constitution, is faithfully following Jabotinsky.

As far as the Haredi influence over the government and its takeover of the Rabbinate, this is indeed a problem. It was a problem for Labor governments also, and is an artifact of Israels coalition system in which the Haredi parties often hold the balance of power. I dont think it represents Netanyahus divergence from Jabotinskys principles as much as practical politics. Theres no doubt that Jabotinsky would oppose it, but unlike Jabotinsky, who led a movement, Netanyahu needs to make and keep a coalition.

On the other hand, the growing influence of Judaism in popular culture, the army and politics is not at all a bad thing, and as long as it is not coercive, I doubt that Jabotinsky would object. He certainly understood the need for a spiritual component to Zionism, if not a traditional religious one.

Jabotinsky also stressed the importance for a leader to display hadar, a difficult word to translate, but it connotes dignity, gravitas, self-respect, and maybe honesty too. My own opinion is that Netanyahu, despite his faults, is a pretty good heir to the Jabotinsky tradition, and I think he is aware of the history and the responsibility that this places on his shoulders.

I watched the debate. There were no big surprises. Donald was Donald and Hillary put on a polished, empty performance. Two leaders without a sense of history, without responsibility to anyone but themselves. Without hadar.

Israel Commentary

Moderator Lester Holt, well known Left wing commentator,began with two outrageous Left wing lies that, as planned, put Donald Trump on the defensive immediately. Holt stated that:

There have been 6 straight years of job growth and new census numbers reveal that incomes have increased at a record rate after years of stagnation.

Fact check with the US Bureau Statistics revealed the following statistics of which the American work force is unfortunately well aware.

Employment Situation Summary
September 2, 2016

The number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 7.8 million in August, and the unemployment rate was 4.9 percent for the third month in a row. Both measures have shown little movement over the year.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 2.0 million in August. These individuals accounted for 26.1 percent of the unemployed.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 6.1 million in August. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time

As to Holts statement that incomes have increased at a record rate after years of stagnation another gargantuan lie as stated below. Somehow a miserly 1.1% increase in Gross Domestic Product obtains a record rate in incomes!

United States GDP Growth Rate1947-2016

Real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 1.1 percent in the second quarter of 2016, according to the second estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. GDP Growth Rate in the United States averaged 3.22 percent from 1947 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 16.90 percent in the first quarter of 1950 and a record low of -10 percent in the first quarter of 1958. GDP Growth Rate in the United States is reported by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

With this totally false launching pad, Holt then introduced Hillary Clinton for her opening statement and what did she say? Who is she? She made that quite obvious to anyone with open ears.

1. Build a working force for everyone not just those at the top.

2. Invest in you and your future. No specifics here but government subsidy obvious MO.

3. Create more infra-structure. How often did Clintons mentor, Obama use this ploy, obtain billions from the Congress and no building of infra-structure occurred. But, somehow, there sure was a lot more money spent on entitlements and social welfare programs.

4. Advance manufacturing and innovation whatever that means?

5. Clean renewable energy. Oh, Oh! There it is  more sunlight and windmills to satisfy the Environmental Protection Lot. Never mind it does not work. The Democrat administration already wasted billions of dollars on start up sunshine and windmill companies that just dont do the job. The cost is gargantuan and the energy yield comes no where near that of coal and oil. Even worse, the supposed environment improvements are dubious with the rest of the world doing exactly what they please.

6. Additional aid to small business. My daughter and her husband happen to be in a small business under Hillarys mentor Barack Obama. And thanks to his Obamacare and Minimum Wage increase and hundreds more mindless regulations that increase exponentially legal fees, accounting fees and the basic cost of doing business to the point that they are about to give up.

7. Then of course guaranteed equal pay for women, which sounds like a fair idea. In all these promises and declarations I hear nothing about pay for service, pay for achievement, pay for success, pay for excellence and demonstrable service to the United States of America

8. More funds to families trying to balance their work schedule and taking care of their home and kids.Lets have paid family leave

And how are we going to pay for all this. Thats easy just tax the rich and have them pay their fair share

Clinton neglects to mention the current fair share

Top 1% pay nearly 50% of federal income taxes CNBC.com

Top 20% of Earners Pay 84% of Income Tax WSJ

So, who is this Hillary Clinton? She is just another demagogue, another liar, another social reformer, another Social engineer, another Liberal or Progressive Whatever the current politically correct term for LIAR is. And, most important this system has never worked. As Margaret Thatcher so elegantly stated, The trouble with socialism is you run out of other peoples money.

Furthermore, Clinton has an underlying objective. She desperately wants to bring over the Bernie Sanders people that did not vote for her initially because she did not promise quite as many or as much give-aways. She has to remedy that.

Is that really who you want in the White House? Barack Obama has not already maneuvered enough Progressive programs that have killed our economy, astronomically raised our national debt to 19 Trillion dollars where we will soon have a problem paying our debt service, weakened our armed forces to the point that Russia, China. Iran, Northern Korea are laughing at us, taunting us and taking over previously American protected waters and territory.

Do you really want that or do you really have to take a chance on Donald Trump whether or not he was the best liar or had the slickest manner at the debate?

Jerome S. Kaufman

II Further commentary on Lester Holt and the Debate

Breitbart News

By Joel B. Pollak Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News.

NBC News Lester Holt had his Candy Crowley moment at the first debate of the 2016 presidential election on Monday night, bowing to pressure from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the liberal media by fact-checking Republican nominee Donald Trump on the question of his support for the Iraq War.

Again and again, Holt asked Trump tough questions that were straight from the Clinton campaigns talking points, and which were obvious set-ups for Clinton to attack:
Here are the five worst examples.

Tax returns. Holt never asked Clinton about her e-mail scandal, about Benghazi, or about the Clinton Foundation and its dubious dealings. But he did ask Trump about his tax returns, arguing not asking that there might be questionable information in them that the American public deserved to hear.

Birther conspiracy theory. Holt never asked Clinton about her past record of racist statements, including her super-predator remarks as First Lady, or her explicit appeal to white Americans in her 2008 primary campaign against Obama. Yet he asked Trump about the Birther conspiracy theory and cast it as racist.
Stop-and-frisk. After an exchange between the candidates over the policy of stop-and-frisk, Holt interjected to bolster Clintons point by stating, erroneously, that stop-and-frisk had ended in New York because it had been declared unconstitutional by a court. Trump countered, correctly, that the new mayor had canceled the policy before the litigation was over.

A presidential look. Towards the end of the debate, Holt asked Trump about what he meant by saying Hillary Clinton did not have a presidential look. He did so after noting that Clinton had become the first woman to be nominated for president by a major political party, thus setting Trump up as a sexist. As Trump answered, Holt interrupted him, then gave Clinton a chance to respond with her talking points about Trumps past comments on women.

Iraq War. The question of whether Trump supported the Iraq War or not has been widely debated. What is beyond doubt is that Hillary Clinton voted for it. Holt only represented one side of the debate about Trump, and never asked Clinton about her own vote.

In addition, the audience repeatedly interjected almost always in Clintons favor and Holt did not stop them, though it was against the rules. He only stopped the audience when there were cheers for Trump calling for Clintons emails.

Bow again, Lester Holt. You did your job.

A war between peoples

There were eight stabbing attacks by Arabs against Jews in the last four days (as of Tuesday).

News item:

Speaking to students of Palestinian origin in Venezuela, Abbas explained that incitement was not behind the decision to carry out attacks, rather, they [young Palestinians] have lost hope.

He added that he is prepared to return to the negotiation table if Israel halts settlement construction and releases additional prisoners. Abbas went on to say that the Palestinians would not compromise on the right of return, stressing that 6 million Palestinian refugees were waiting to come home.

So this is what we are dealing with. We are in the midst of a war between peoples, a war different from most wars, where there may be various objectives like control of resources or access to transport or markets, expansion of empires, and countless others. Here there is only one simple objective: our enemies want to end our state and kill or disperse our people, while we want to survive as a sovereign state.

There arent many modern examples of wars between peoples, other than the wars of Israel (perhaps the 1971 Bangladesh War is one). The wars of 1948, 1967 and the ongoing Palestinian War all fit this description. The major world wars, although they may have been associated with genocides, did not have genocide as their major objective. The American Civil War and the Korean and Vietnam wars were fought for political control, but not to replace one people with another.

When WWII ended, the Allies received unconditional surrender from their enemies and occupied their lands temporarily, in order to ensure that the previous leaders and ideology would not return. Despite the horrendous violence during the war, there was no attempt to kill or disperse the Japanese or German people. Some territory changed hands, a few individuals who were judged to be guilty of war crimes were punished, and new political structures set up. But the victors did not kill, deport or enslave the vanquished populations en masse.

The Palestinians are a people, a people that was created in very recent times and one that was created as the negation of another people, but despite all that, still a people. They will not go back to being Egyptians or Syrians or Jordanians as most of them would have called themselves just a few years ago. And the thing that unifies them, the main ideological principle that makes them not just Arabs but Palestinian is that they want our land, all of it, and they want us gone one way or another. That is the overriding national goal to which all the rest economics, politics, culture, education, technology, sport every human enterprise in which they participate is subordinated.

I am not going to go into why they are wrong and how they got where they are or who did what to whom. I am satisfied with our moral position as Zionists. I accept the challenge of my left-wing friends who always say that they dont want to talk about history, they want to know how to fix the situation today. Fine, lets discuss that.

For the purpose of this discussion, its enough to understand that the Palestinians are our enemy in a war between peoples, like the biblical people of Israel and Amalek. Today, they have taken up the banner of Amalek. They have defined themselves as the archenemy of the Jewish people.

Have the Jews forgotten Amalek? It seems so. You cant compromise with such an enemy because the question at issue is whether or not your people will continue to exist. He says no, you say yes. There is no common ground: the logical intersection of what he wants and what you can accept is empty. The only law that provides an answer is the Law of the Jungle.

One of the favorite plans of those who have forgotten Amalek is to divide the land. Then they will have their own country and they will live peacefully alongside us. But why would they, when their goal is not to live peacefully with us, but to end our existence? Dividing the land (especially given the geography of the Middle East) just makes it easier for them. Have they ever done anything with land they control than use it to make war on us? Dividing the land is the most irrational thing we could do!

If you succeed in driving Amalek out of your land, you dont let him come back because he promises to consider living at peace with you. Of course he lies he wants to kill you, why do you expect him to tell you the truth? You dont sign papers or shake hands with him. You crush him.

It isnt true that peace is made between enemies, as Rabin famously said. It is made between former enemies, when one is beaten so badly that he prefers unconditional surrender to death. If you want peace, plan to be the winner, the overwhelming winner, or it will not be the kind of peace you want.

Amalek is someone who tries to kill you however he can. He is not someone to whom you give a political horizon. He is not someone whose economy you try to improve, or to whom you sell electricity or water. He is not someone that you provide with food and medicines. If you take prisoners and the fewer you take, the better you dont free them so they can fight again. You certainly dont provide medical treatment for the relatives of his leaders. And above all, you dont abandon the land and expel your own people from it.

Is it immoral to blockade civilians? What if they support the fighters? Unfortunately, this is part of war. Never forget that Amalek started the war and could choose to end it. Remember what his objective is and what ours is. Is it immoral to shoot a wounded prisoner? What if he tried to kill you and will try again if he recovers? It isnt moral to be merciful to Amalek. It doesnt make you a better person. It isnt going to make him like you and it gives him another chance to kill you.

***

Our war is special. Todays Palestinian War (we could call it a continuation of the Oslo War as well, a name given to the Second Intifada), is a war between peoples where one side exists as a people only as an antithesis to the other. And this, in a nutshell, is why there is no compromise solution. A compromise would require that the Palestinians, as a nation, had other interests, other areas in which they could gain while giving up their hope of getting rid of us. But they dont. Amalek is all they are.

Therefore, there is only one way to end the conflict, and it is for one side to be victorious over the other. May it be us.

American military aid: bad for America, worse for Israel

See, you trust in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; where on if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him. Isaiah 36:6

Reactions to the signing of a 10-year $38 billion memorandum of understanding (MOU) for American military aid to Israel are coming in, as predictable as the moon and the tides. The man Netanyahu calls Israels worst Prime Minister ever, Ehud Barak, claims that Netanyahu could have obtained another $7 billion a year if only he hadnt opposed Obamas Iran deal so strongly. Similar remarks have come from the parliamentary opposition, unsurprisingly. Others thank America for its commitment at a time that its own military budgets are being slashed. Still others curse it for helping Israel with its continued genocide against the Palestinians, who have tripled in number since 1970.

The truth is that Israel does not need and should phase out military aid from the US. It is bad for Israel and bad for the US.

Israel doesnt need it. The $3.8 billion per year that will come from the US is about a quarter of Israels 2015-16 defense budget of $15.47 billion. This is a lot of money, but consider that the governments overall budget is about $89 billion, and Israels gross domestic product today is close to $300 billion, almost double what it was 10 years ago.

In addition, the new agreement phases out Israels ability to spend any of it outside of the US. In the past, up to about a quarter of the aid could be spent in Israel. Does anyone doubt that many items can be procured here or elsewhere, at lower cost? I dont. The F-35 alone costs about $200 million per aircraft. Are there alternatives? We might be able to find out if we went shopping with our own money (possibly the F-15SE would become available).

Finally, increased investment in our military industries would improve our ability to sell our products to other countries, helping to offset the loss of US aid.

Aid gives the US administration too much leverage over Israeli policies and actions. PM Netanyahu will be meeting with Barack Obama next week at the UN. Obama will certainly make demands about Israeli-PA relations, the blockade of Gaza, and more. Do we want to give him a club to hold over our heads?

During the Gaza War in 2014, Obama cut off the supply of Hellfire missiles and other items in response to (tendentious) complaints that Israel had deliberately shelled a UN school. The more we can reduce our dependence on aid, the more equipment like this can be manufactured at home.

Israel needs freedom of action to respond to threats. The aid comes with too many strings attached.

Aid distorts our military purchase decisions. If you can get your army boots or fighter aircraft for free then maybe you settle for something that doesnt meet your needs quite as well as a product you have to pay for. The decisions about what we will be given are based in part on US policy objectives and, since the aid is in effect a direct subsidy to the US defense industry, domestic American considerations not whats best for Israel.

For example, it has been suggested that manned fighter aircraft will be much less important in future warfare than drones, but we get free fighter planes from America and build our own drones; so we have lots and lots of manned fighter planes maybe more than we need.

The F-35, with its cost and all its problems, stands out. As I wrote a few weeks ago, would Israel even have considered replacing its F-16 fleet with F-35s if the first batch werent free?

Aid corrupts our military decision-makers. The word corrupts is a strong word, but may not be out of place. If you are a Chief of Staff, and a quarter of your budget comes from America, wouldnt you take the US administrations wishes into account when considering whether or not to take some particular action (say, bombing Iranian nuclear installations)? How could you not do so? Enough said.

Aid cripples the development of our own military industries. This may be the most important consideration of all. Although the new MOU represents an increase from the previous $3.1 billion a year, it phases out over five years the ability to spend up to about a quarter of it for locally-produced goods. If we dont have the capability to produce our own weapons, our dependence on the US becomes even greater, and we lose the jobs and technical know-how that come from it. Buying our own would pump additional money into our economy, which helps offset the loss of American aid. Even the IDFs boots, formerly made in Israel, are now ordered from the US.

Aid doesnt necessarily guarantee a qualitative edge. One of the rationales for US military aid was that the US promised to maintain our qualitative military edge (QME) over our enemies, as a way of counteracting their numerical superiority. But the US has more and more been selling its best weapons to anyone who can pay for them. The way to maintain the QME, then, is for Israel to use her technological abilities to develop weapons and countermeasures for her own use that will not be available to her enemies.

Aid damages Israels standing as a sovereign state. A nation that is dependent on another for its defense is a satellite, not an ally. In order to maintain her national self-respect, Israel should pay for her own defense. In addition, Israels accepting aid provides ammunition for anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda in America.

Phasing out aid is better for America. The US is burdened by a large and growing debt. The end of military aid to Israel can only help America meet her own civilian and military needs.

***

Naturally, there will be objections.

Israel cant afford expensive systems like the F-35 without aid. First, its not true, and second, maybe we dont need such expensive systems, or so many of them.

But the US makes the worlds best weapons. Perhaps. If so, we should buy them with our own money. Im not suggesting we break relations with the US. And who is to say that our home-made products wont fit our unique needs better?

But it takes time to build up our industries. True, which is why I want to phase out the aid over a period of years rather than cutting it off sharply.

But what about the close cooperation between Israeli and the US defense industries? Im not suggesting that such cooperation couldnt continue, but in a framework of mutually beneficial business deals when indicated, as partners rather than clients.

But AIPAC works so hard making it possible. Yes, and Israel should be grateful to AIPAC and to its friends in the US Congress that for decades have made it possible for Israel to survive in its dangerous neighborhood against great odds. But the situation has changed. What used to be a necessity became a luxury, and then changed into a dangerous overindulgence. Its not like there arent other critical issues that AIPAC could focus on.

***

In recent years much has changed in the world and in the Middle East. Israel, which was a third-rate power that managed to win her wars against great odds, became a first-rate power that nevertheless seems to be stymied and incapable of decisively prevailing over much weaker opponents. Although there are several reasons for this, one of the main ones is the increasing influence and control over Israeli decision-making by the US whose government, at the same time, has become less and less supportive.

Im sorry to say that I believe the US is in serious economic, social, political and even security trouble today truly a broken reed. I hope it will repair itself. But like Isaiahs Egypt, it is not a staff to lean upon.

How a white Jewish guy lost his guilt and found redemption

The recent release of the platform of the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), which accused Israel of genocide and apartheid against the Palestinians (it has since been toned down slightly), gave rise to a spate of mostly predictable reactions: fury from Zionists, cheers from Palestinians, and a particularly emetic genre of of course you are right that Israel is an oppressor, and I would never criticize a black person, but maybe you went too far, just saying literature from guilt-ridden left-wing Jews.

Yotam Marom, 30, is a Jewish political organizer, educator and writer who was active in Occupy Wall Street and numerous other causes. He has lived in Israel and has a grandmother who survived the Holocaust. He was arrested in 2014 at the offices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations where he was protesting Israels operation in Gaza. The M4BL platform, which he called brilliant and powerful nevertheless made him think about the place of Jews in a Left that some say is more and more anti-Jewish.

Marom, who has totally devoted himself to The Movement, and who spends his days demonstrating for Palestinians in Gaza, or the Black folks being shot down in the streets, wrote a long confessional article about how he finally came to the realization that the Left that he is so much a part of, hates Jews:

But this march is alive  people weaving in and out of the police barricades, folks dancing and singing, banners waving in the Midtown wind tunnels. Its led by young people, but I notice, to my surprise, that it is also full of families  mothers in hijabs pushing strollers, kids waving Palestinian flags, teenagers climbing trash cans on the way downtown. There is a palpable feeling of warmth and hope and resilience, even despite the heartbreak and mourning and fury. Im glad Im here, with these people.

Then I see a poster that shows the Jewish Star of David, with an equal sign next to a Nazi swastika. I see the Neturei Karta (an Orthodox Jewish sect) in their black coats and hats and beards, paraded at the front of the demonstrations  as if to say, look, even the Jews hate Israel   even though they are right wingers who are anti-Zionists merely because they believe the land of Israel should be settled only after the Messiah comes. Another sign says Good job Israel, Hitler would be proud, and a poster shows Israeli soldiers alongside black and white photos of the SS. No one says anything about it.

Theres more. He notes his comrades talking about how the Jews control the media and the banks. He hears about Jew landlords, and a friend who gives a talk about constitutional rights is called a Jew lawyer. He sees that his friends, so ready to accuse Israel of genocide against Palestinians, dont seem to notice violent terrorism against Jews by Arabs or mass murder of Syrians by Syrians. He is upset to be told that Jews, even good leftist anti-Zionist ones like Yotam Marom, are responsible for the purportedly evil actions of the IDF. In a moment of profound and troubling insight, he realizes that his friends really are Jew-haters (I abhor Wilhelm Marrs solecism anti-Semites).

What should come next is the understanding that hes on the wrong side of the struggle. But it doesnt. He does not understand that he has been toiling in the very belly of the beast all along. That would be too great a leap, too radical a destruction of his conceptual scheme. Of course his friends hate Jews, because the ruling class uses Jew-hatred to divide the oppressed. Of course they are right about Israel being a settler-colonial oppressor, but it is only doing the work of the Anglo-European elites, who created it in the first place. The truth, he sees now, is that Jews are oppressed too, by a white ruling class that uses them to keep even more oppressed people down.

For Marom, Jew-hatred is not a highly contagious cancer in human souls, it is an ephemeral side effect of the economic forces that drive history. Its just another tactic of the ruling class. It can be dealt with rationally, and he intends to deal with it:

Yes, my friends are anti-Semitic. Now the challenge: To convince them that anti-Semitism even still exists, that it is hurting all of us, and that it can be undone.

Good luck, Yotam. Youll find that its not so easy. The folks that are all too ready to abase and flagellate themselves because of their essential racism, sexism, patriarchy and cis-ism will find it harder to recognize and purge their Jew-hatred. In fact, you will find that they are only capable of displacing it from individual Jews to the Jew among nations, which they will hate even more passionately. Look, even you are taking this line:

And as we [Jews] become whole, we can play an even more grounded role as partners in the struggle for a free Palestine by refusing to allow Israel and the US to shed blood in our name.

But there is one great benefit from Jew-hatred for leftist Jews like Marom. In the history of the Jewish people, he finds and is cheered by examples of Jews fighting back, as an oppressed and rebellious people. Once he begins to see Jews as oppressed rather than oppressors, a great weight is lifted. He undergoes an epiphany of a sort and in an especially revealing statement, writes,

How strange, I think to myself, that in the fifteen years Ive spent doing political work, Ive always thought of myself as being in the movement despite my people  my people being white, class-privileged, straight men. I had always, it now occurs to me, thought of myself as a traitor, and even been proud of it. It is only now, as my mind scans the faces of the fighters and dreamers and martyrs and prophets behind me that I realize that its not in spite of my people that I am here, but because of them. We all, I remember now, choose our origin stories. It is the first time my back has felt straight and broad, my chest open and powerful.

So in the name of Jewish fighters and dreamers and martyrs and prophets, he will struggle for a free Palestine, or in other words, the end of Jewish self-determination. Well, no one said he had to be consistent.

I congratulate you, Yotam, on the success of your dialectical process. You have achieved that goal toward which many like you have struggled unsuccessfully. No longer do you need to feel inferior to your black, brown, female, gay, trans and Palestinian friends. You realize at last that you, too, are oppressed. You too are an enemy of the white, class-privileged straight [male] establishment. You too are a Person of Color.

You no longer have to bear the burden of white guilt. Now go, with your straight back, and try to explain this to your Jew-hating friends.

Its the narrative, stupid

How do you characterize a population as a people? Most of us would say that a people has some combination of language, religion, culture, place of origin, and genetic makeup, and that its members identify with a historical narrative that describes how they came to be.

The Jewish people is a paradigm case of a people, with a unique language and religion, a definite origin, clearly distinguishable genetics, and a historical narrative spanning thousands of years that is probably the most powerful story in much of the civilized world. This is why it is so typically chutzpadik for Palestinians to argue that there is only a Jewish religion and not a Jewish people.

The Palestinians do not have a unique religion, language, genetic identity, or place of origin unless you count having an ancestor who lived in Mandate Palestine for at least two years as establishing rootedness there. But they have a historical narrative with which they very strongly identify.

It is a relatively new narrative, having originated in the mid-20th century as a reaction to the establishment of the Jewish state. It is to a great extent false there is no long-term Palestinian presence in the land of Israel (claims going back to biblical times are ludicrous, and few Palestinians can trace their lineage in the land prior to about 1830; most are descended from 20th century migrants). Their story about their dispossession by the Zionists is also to a great extent false and self-serving. But none of this matters.

What does matter is that virtually all Palestinians believe the narrative, and it is perfectly designed to combine with the features of the Arab and Muslim culture of the Palestinians in such a way as to create endless, insoluble conflict with the Jewish state.

The narrative tells of a proud culture rooted in the land, dispossessed by foreign invaders who have no connection with it. It tells about humiliation of the Palestinian people, their wealth and property taken from them. It tells about a Muslim land being ruled by infidels, or almost worse, by Jews, Mohammads historic enemies whose inferior role is demanded by the Quran. It tells about Arab manhood being insulted by repeated military defeats by the children of pigs and monkeys.

The narrative tells about an intolerable condition, and its collision with Arab culture and Islam cant be resolved by a compromise which permits the continuation of Jewish sovereignty in any real sense. Any solution acceptable to the Palestinians must include the return of their property that is, the return of the descendents of Arab refugees to their homes. For Muslims, there is also the fact that the entire land, having been ruled at one time by Muslims, is a part of dar al islam and must return to Muslim rule. And of course, no situation in which a Jew is superior to a Muslim in any way is acceptable.

Worse, Arab honor, which was stolen by military defeat and which continues to be taken by the daily humiliations of Israeli security measures, must be regained. This requires equal humiliation and violence against the Jews.

But why cant the Jews make a similar argument on the grounds that the rights of the Jewish people were abrogated by the Arab conquest of the 7th century? The Palestinians take this threat quite seriously, which is why they insist that there is a Jewish religion but no Jewish people. And it is why they make ridiculous statements like Palestinians are descended from ancient Canaanites, There was no Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, or Jesus was a Palestinian. It is why they are working assiduously to get UNESCO to declare all Jewish historical sites to be Arab or Muslim.

As long as the Palestinian narrative is believed there will be no peaceful two-state solution or any other compromise that allows a Jewish state to continue existing. And as long as Arabs understand that their lost honor needs to be regained there will be no end to murderous outbursts of violence against Jews by Arabs.

These are not things that are in our power to change. There is no way we can educate the Arabs to stop believing their narrative and to start believing ours. No matter how kind we are, how conciliatory, how fair, how just, how many concessions we make, how much economic opportunity we provide, the fundamental problem remains. If you think Im exaggerating, read this about Palestinians in general, and this about Arab citizens of Israel. If anything, as time goes by, the narrative gets embedded more firmly in the Palestinian psyche.

So does this imply that there is no hope?

Not exactly. There is no hope for a peaceful compromise, true. But there are other ways a conflict between peoples yes, I think their narrative makes them a people, if not an ancient one can end. One side or other can prevail, can overpower its enemy to the extent that it gives up the idea that it can win, and stops fighting.

The usual example of this is WWII in which the losers were crushed so badly that they gave up, accepted occupation, and even changed their ways of thinking so as to reject militarism and ultimately became allies of their erstwhile enemies. But there is another example that is much closer to home and might provide a model for a solution that requires somewhat less death and devastation than that wrought by the bombing of Dresden or Hiroshima.

That is the example of the Arab citizens of Israel.

They are not any less committed to the Palestinian narrative. But most of them have come to understand that they are not capable of overthrowing the Jewish state. They lived under military rule from 1948-68, but since then have had the same rights (if not responsibilities) of Israels Jewish citizens. The combination of the perception of an overwhelming imbalance of power plus the availability of economic options has not canceled the Palestinian narrative, but has made it possible for them to live peacefully in a Jewish state. What other country in the world can say that it has a 20% Muslim minority that is not a source of violent instability?

The continued docility of our Arab citizens isnt guaranteed. In order for it to continue, there are several things that are important: they must continue to understand that they will not obtain national rights in the Jewish state, either by violence or political means, although their civil rights will be protected. Israel will remain a Jewish state, not a binational one. The flag and national anthem will not be changed, and there will always be a Jewish right of return, and never an Arab one. The overwhelming imbalance of power must be maintained. But at the same time their rights to equal treatment under the law and their economic opportunities must not be foreclosed.

The same principles apply to the Arabs of the territories, although it is probably not a good idea to suddenly grant them citizenship and hope that they will behave like the Arab citizens from 1948. But we are presently far from establishing the necessary imbalance of power as long as the Fatah and Hamas organizations are operating. They and similar enemies of Israel must be defeated and destroyed as a first step. We wouldnt tolerate Fatah operating in Tel Aviv, so we should not tolerate it in Ramallah either.

The strategic geography of the land of Israel implies that we cannot give up control of Judea and Samaria and still be capable of defending our nation. That in turn means that we have to deal somehow with its Arab inhabitants. Their dedication to the pernicious Palestinian narrative precludes a Western-style compromise, but if we can decisively end their ability to make war, then maybe their only remaining option as in the case of the Arab citizens of Israel will be to live in peace.

HERE Beta

A couple of days ago we installed and tried the HERE Beta navigation package. The package is available for android devices as well as Windows 8.1 and can be downloaded from http://here.com/.

Our testing to date was limited to an android Samsung phone.

The short verdict is that the application is very good. The maps are recent and accurate and it has a large database of points of interest. The directions can be given in a variety of languages. The U.S. English we tried gave us driving directions with text to speech – street names are clearly pronounced. The application can be used of or on line. Going on line adds traffic information to the maps. The application also seems to know the public transportation routes and will direct you to the closest bus stop and show its route. HERE can also work in either 2D or 3D. In 3D it presents views of landmarks and selected buildings. This can be switched of if so desired.

We found maps for any place we looked for, from all the states in the U.S. to Russia, African countries, all of Europe, Israel and more.

The search engine is good – you just type in the place you are interested in and it will find everything resembling the text you typed in. Didn’t find what you were looking? Try a slightly different name. We tried looking for a cigarette store near Las Vegas NV. The first search came up with no results but rephrasing the terms found it. Which is surprising as this is not normally information you would expect from a navigation program.

The program offers several options for rout selection as well as elimination of the use of toll roads, ferries, etc.

Now to the bad: the map files include all the information about a region and are BIG. The average size of maps for U.S. states is about 270Mb. The program offers an option to install it on an external SD card but it might require a card that can hold more than 4Gb for a European trip that covers several countries or a cross U.S. trip. On the positive side, maps can be downloaded as needed, though a trip that involves several countries will, obviously, need the relevant maps.

We have no idea whether the final version of HERE will be free. The beta could use some improvements. One thing we missed was the ability to simulate a ride. Most navigation programs have this ability and, in our opinion it is useful. It would also be very helpful to make the map files smaller by either separating the maps from the rest of the data or dividing large countries into smaller chunks or both.

Again, this is one of the best navigation programs we found in recent years and we hope that it will remain free.

Be-On-Road

Be-On-Road is a neat navigation program published by Aponia Software, s.r.o. of the Czech Republic. The program is free to download from Google Play, the company’s website and the Apple App Store and runs on android devices, Windows CE, Windows and Apple iPhone and iPad. All versions are also available from the company’s website at BeOnRoad.com

The program can use either free OpenStreetMaps (OSM) or maps by Navteq and others that can be bought from the company’s online store. All maps can be downloaded directly from the application. The Navteq maps can be used free of charge for 7 days.

We tested the android application on a Samsung Galaxy S II phone. The application ran smoothly and with no problems.

Be-On-Road is a fairly conventional turn by turn navigation program. It gives clear directions when approaching a turn and again directly before a turn. It can’t handle text to speech so all directions are of the type “turn left” or “turn right”.

The free Open Street maps are surprisingly accurate and even have a fair number of Points of Interest. The program can calculate two kinds of routes: fast and short. In our tests both routs made sense. It allows establishing way points and simulating driving the route. We did encounter slight display problems with a couple of these simulations.

The Navteq maps we tested are new: Quarter 1 of 2013. These commercial maps include many more points of interest than the free variety and are supposedly more accurate. We were surprised that the Be-On-Road web store had a much smaller selection of maps than were available through the android application. The only Asian country available was India and the only African was South Africa. The android application allowed us to purchase maps for most countries in Asia and Africa. The maps offered on the website are from various vendors though Navteq dominates. There are number of regional map providers, like NavTurk and specialized trucking maps are also available for some countries as well as traffic information licenses for some of the Navteq maps.

To summarize: Be-On-Road is a very good free alternative if you are reluctant to pay for your navigation program or maps. It is somewhat less sophisticated and less customizable than programs like iGO but offers the advantage of being free and capable. If you are not interested in customization and bells and whistles this program will do the job nicely and free maps are a bonus.

Navteq 2012.Q3 iGO Maps

We recently tested the latest edition of Navteq maps for the U.S. The maps are from the fourth quarter of 2012.

We found no significant differences between this edition and the previous one. In the area we tested these maps retain the errors of the previous edition (Q4.2011). We found no significant additions.

This is somewhat disappointing since Tele Atlas maps for the same area, dated 2011.9 have more details.

We decided to keep using the Navteq maps despite minor inaccuracies. The main reason for this is that Tele Atlas still didn’t correct a major deficiency: major freeways that have names appear only as numbered roads. The problem is exacerbated by the way some TTS voices used by iGO pronounce the numbers. For example Road 215 is pronounced as “to fifteen”. This is confusing when the directions to “turn on 215” it sounds like “turn on to fifteen”.

Conclusion: if you’re using the Q4 2011 edition of Navteq maps there’s no real reason to switch to the Q3 2012 one.

P.S. After using the new maps for some time we discovered a strange problem: sometimes when performing a search for a point of interest iGO declares an “Out Of Memory” error. We traced this error to one of the new 2012 Q3 files. The error disappears when the 2012 Q3 Extended POI file is replaced with the older 2011 Q4 file or with a Tele Atlas file. The 2012 Q4 Rich POI files seem to be working fine.

After an error happened we found no way to resolve the problem except by deleting the offending file.

P.P.S. After more research and experimenting we found that the file causing the problem described above was corrupted. Replacing it with a good one resolved the difficulties.

NAVTEQ Q4 2011 Maps and iGO Primo 2

New NAVTEQ maps came out and we had to test them. While at it we also tested the new version of Primo: iGO Primo 2 (iGO 9.xxx).

Primo 2 is an improvement over Primo 1. It has more adjustments that can be made by the user without dealing with the sys.txt file. On our old Mio 310 it finds the GPS satellites in about half the time and it has more routing options. Installing one of the available skins from independent developers will make the program even better. The program runs fine with a minimal sys.txt file and needs no instructions on where all the files are located or where to find the GPS receiver.
Primo 2 has one very useful new feature: it announces the side of the street (left or right) where your destination is. You need a TTS voice for this to work.

The NAVTEQ maps are a different story. In our area the new maps have LESS information than the older Q1 2011 version and about the same as Q3 2011 version. Some roads are missing.

Conclusion:

If you’re in the market for a new navigation program definitely take a look at iGO Primo 2. It’s an improvement on an already good program.

You may as well stay away from the Q4 2011 NAVTEQ maps. They lack some of the detail that the old maps had.

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