All men doubt the existence of G-d some of the time, and some men doubt the existence of G-d all of the time. There are exceptions, but they are irrelevant for most of us. These exceptions appear as oddities to us, a phantasm, their indefatigable faith as improbable to us as the Deity. Surely these men and women don’t really exist. They are ghosts moving in and out of our commitment to what we see, always there, but never really perceived. They have been called Tzadikim, Saints, Holy men, the Lamed Vav. We read of their stories and wonder of their veracity. We wonder of their Dark Nights, did they have them? Did they see them? Did fear ever enter their thinking…their being?
The mind of modern man traverses the great landscapes of human experience, its varieties and its similarities. Facts are known — there was once a religion that practiced human sacrifice — could that be? Where was G-d? Did he speak to these people? Are they real? Where are they now. Bones merely? Did he punish them for their ignorance?
A thought experiment is now conjured first introduced by Philosopher and mathematician David Berlinski. Take a man from the most wild of tribes, a collective progeny of the sacrificial cults, from the most primitive of societies, a head hunter perhaps; give him an education in particle physics and teach him English; present him before the BBC and he will dutifully wax metaphysical on the significance of the Higgs Boson for the Standard model of particle physics. The change in disposition is, if even calculable, exponential. This is where evolutionary psychology, the proposition that structures of human culture are merely expressions of evolutionary advantageous epiphenominalism, dies an excruciatingly painful death. There is no linear progression of human capability as is dictated by psychological evolutionary theory, but a leap, a breaking, a severing, flashes of bright light in the darkness of damp and uncomfortable caves, innate potential, not innate being.
Most of human life is an exercise in forgetting the fact that we shall one day die. What that means, we have no idea, primarily because we have so little understanding of what it means to exist. We are forever children, staring as we do through our telescopes and studiously scribbling our equations… what is dark matter? What is it that compels the electron to jump orbits? What is it that compels the electron to orbit at all? Probabilistic wave equations are an adequate description, but it is not an adequate answer. The laws of physics are as they are. Nothing necessitates them. Moses asked G-d at the burning bush, “Behold, I will come to the children of Israel and say to them, the G-d of your fathers has sent me to you, and they will say, ‘What is his name?’ What shall I say to them?” G-d replied to Moses: “I shall be who I shall be… Tell the children of Israel, I Shall Be (Eh-he-yeh) has sent me to you.”
These are eerie coincidences. That creation itself may be as it is because it is, is a revelation that is just as mysterious as the Creator’s name(note I am not implying pantheism). Stephen Hawking recently detailed his disbelief in a creator by appealing to the laws of reality. The laws of physics, he claims, are adequate to create the universe from nothing. That the laws of physics are something, if anything they are algorithmic and are informational, is a metaphysical and logical oversight that is common among physicists, one that induces the belief that they are necessary structures. But as Einstein once said, “Physicists make lousy philosophers.” Kurt Godel agreed.
Ontological materialism is as absurd a notion as to suggest that the universe is arguing with itself about its existence, as self appointed scientific priests pontificate on the idea that all their ideas and equations are merely a material function of the brain, the brain being a property of the universe and consciousness being a property of matter, that it has ideas, behaviors, tendencies, loves and dislikes. The universe may have these properties, but that would preclude materialism, and if it doesn’t have these things, then why does the mind not only have but experiences these things? These are questions not likely soon to be answered, if at all. Ask the lightbulb of a flashlight to illuminate its batteries and you get a sense of the problem. That these questions are elemental does not mean they have been answered. Science has nothing to say about them and it doesn’t even have the faculty to ask the questions. The idea that they have been answered is a promissory materialism that if correct would be improvable, and is thus a metaphysics. And so therefore a faith no more coherent than many of the pagan myths that preceded the civilizing influence of ethical monotheism.
So here we reside between two great mountain ranges of thought. One has its corollary purpose, the other, seen across the valley, has as its corollary nothing. Contrary to the claims of the atheists, faith is not easy, and its possible outcomes are not always calming. Both mountain ranges are equally terrifying to consider. This is our current paradigm. . . existence. I close with a kind thank you for reading
“They all agree that they have to establish the Caliphate; they all disagree who should be the Caliph. That is the nature of their disagreement.”
There are many of you who are Muslims who have made your stance against ISIS known, and for that you should be commended. However, the endeavor by you to ensure the rest of us that Islam is a religion of peace or that Shia Islam is less violent than Sunni Islam — nobody could ever maintain that any sect of Islam is peaceful — and that ISIS is acting in contradiction to Islamic values, for us in the west, appears as another sorry attempt to redirect attention away from the ideological origins of this fanaticism and the very thing that inspires it daily. Every day, for the last 14 centuries, Islam has been at war and has subjugated anything and any idea that is non Islamic to its judgement. Forgive us westerners for finding your increasingly desperate apologetics for an imperial and hegemonic ideology wanting. You just aren’t credible.
Everywhere this faith, Islam, has gone it has been at war with its neighbors. Read More…
For 14 centuries Islam has built its cities on the ruins of conquered civilizations and built new cities with slaves from those civilizations. This occurs even today. But as westerners and as members of the first and only civilization to outlaw slavery in any of its forms, we impute our societal realities on the appearances of other societies. As this video shows, “Islamic Civilization” is a myth. Perhaps if there were Jews living over ceasefire lines in Dubai, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch would give a shit. But they don’t because Amnesty international and Human Rights Watch are not in the business of giving a shit about human beings, just hating Jews.
H/T to Planck’s Constant
From Radow English
By AYUB NURI
Many European countries have announced their support for the Kurdistan Region in its fight against the Islamic State. European foreign ministers and high-level politicians arrive in Erbil one after another, pledging arms and military support for the Peshmerga.
It is great that the Kurds receive such world attention as they try to drive Islamic extremists out of their land. But we should remember that the West isn’t helping the Kurds because they believe in the Kurdish cause: they are interested in this war because they fear it may one day knock on their own doors.
European leaders seem to have finally woken up to the threat of the Islamic State. They know that the radical jihadis in Syria and Iraq have a migratory nature and every few years move from one country to another. Now, Europe wants to fight them while they are concentrated in Mosul and Raqqah.
But they are hoping to use the Kurds to do the fighting. They are not sending their own soldiers and they don’t have the expertise to fight jihadi groups. On the other hand, the Kurds have both the expertise and the will to fight, because their land is occupied. Therefore it sounds like an ideal situation for the West.
But the Kurds should be careful and not become a free agent. They can be grateful for any weapons or support they may receive, but they should also have their own agenda — and stick to it.
The war against Islamist militants should only be to drive them out of the Kurdish land. Kurdish Peshmerga forces should stop where Kurdistan’s border ends. The Islamic State cannot be destroyed easily and it is not Kurdistan’s responsibility to do so.
It is an Iraqi problem and therefore Baghdad’s responsibility to sort it out. If the world wants to eradicate this radical group, they should go and talk to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and other Arab countries about it.
If Europe is serious about fighting Islamic extremists they should also fight them in their own countries. They can’t expect the Kurds to hunt down Islamist militants in Iraq, while they let them live freely in Amsterdam, London, Paris and Stockholm.
Read Entire Article at Rudaw English
You are nothing, really. We have seen you before in the form of the worst of ourselves. You hate the west and our values, Israel, and the very idea of a free and open society. And though the US Secretary of Defense, with great befuddlement, declared that you are an imminent threat and gave us reason to fear, I can assure you that we, the people, are not afraid anymore. You can butcher our citizens and rain rockets on our cities, and your flags may fly in European cities in between calls to kill the Jews, but you are not a new thing, nor particularly terrifying.
We have seen you before. We have seen you in all the calamities of 20th century western history. You are the Nazi, the NKVD, the Khmer Rouge. You are the German Soldier of the great war marching into France with the motto “Gott mins uns” inscribed on his belt buckle. There this soldier murdered whole villages of Frenchmen for sedition, just as you capture and kill your Christian, Yazidi, Kurdish and Jewish neighbors. That soldier never made it out of France alive.
We have seen you in the form of Stalinist purges and five year plans, Japanese imperialism and the Rape of Nanking, SS einsatzgruppen mass graves, collectivization and starvation, Cossack pogroms, the African slave trade. We have seen your frenzied appetite for blood even in its atheist manifestation during the French revolution and its theological form in the Christian crusading armies. We have seen you dumping poison pellets into gas chambers.
Nor are your ideas particularly terror inducing. We have seen your imperialism in world communism, your xenophobia and tyranny in Nazi Germany, Ustashe Croatia, and Bosnia, and in our own american experience with our treatment of the native inhabitants of these continents. What is your Islamic Imperialism but so much more of the same?
You are merely the worst of our collective western experience. You are our sins. But where there is sin, we believe, there is repentance.We erect monuments to our failures and remember them, whereas you believe that you can never fail. You are constitutionally incapable of seeing the worst of yourself because it would require a long gaze in the mirror. Even your coreligionist enemies cannot see you as truly their failing; suggesting as they do that you are a large tentacle of a Zionist conspiracy, they appropriate all their evil to their true enemies, us.
But all these sins of ours are sins precisely due to the very real and irrepressible ideas upon which we were founded. We come from Athens and Jerusalem. We have a keen sense of the good and the sublime, the proper and the Just and our waywardness in past times have been aberrations from our ideal. For how could we regard ourselves in such low moral standing as to have some among us who believe that we deserve to be afflicted with your evil on account of our sins? The answer is because we can commit sins because we believe things to be sins and you cannot because you believe nothing to be a sin but our existence. You find nothing wrong with the world and your brutality except that it hasn’t been brutal enough.
We may seem weak now. It may seem to you that we have a become a mincing politically correct leviathan. It may seem that we, in our postmodern self reflection become self flagellation, are now incapable of arising from the dust and meeting you in the field of battle. But all those things that we have seen resembling you, are now gone, and that irrepressible Judaic gift given to our ancestors always reemerges even if only to point out our faults.
They are gone because we fought against them and so against ourselves. We sent 600,000 to there death to free a people that we enslaved, a case in which repentance was payed in blood. There we developed the modern means of war, rapid fire rifles, cannons, canister fire, a weapon that turned human beings to ground meat, entrenchments, and armored naval vessels.
We sent millions of our young into battle in WW1 and and stopped a German-Hungarian-Ottoman axis by means that make your civil war in Syria appear as a mere skirmish. We lost 2 million soldiers on our collective sides in a month at the battle of the Somme. We used gunned chariot, and gas, and machine gun, and artillery. Our soldiers hung their canteens on the the limbs of their brothers in arms who were compacted into the trench line. The rotted there and tuned to bone. We afflicted our young with shock from the impact of our shells.
When evil sprouted wings and took flight, the RAF was there to down Luftwaffa 109s, saving Europe from your allies, the Nazis. From there we leveled entire cities and killed many thousands of civilians to ensure that Europe was rid of your kind that came before you with a Swastika. We left entire cities aflame and used the power of the atom to end Japanese imperialism. Look, dear ISIS, for your future is not all that different.
Yes, you are perhaps right. We are weak now. We could never prosecute such a furious war against you…for now. But that is not because we are weak intrinsically. We have become increasingly tolerant, but do not believe that our we will be tolerant of our own destruction. Our weakness now is yet another of our sins. Just under the surface, however, our great traditions are turbulent and they will soon arise to admonish that we have felt far too guilty for far too long and that in our guilt we will allow for our suicide. And suicide is a sin. And we will erect a monument to that particular sin upon your graves.
I recently had the good fortune of seeing on my Facebook newsfeed a link to an article from Tablet Magazine, a Jewish culture magazine I highly regard for its rigor and style, entitled “How Not to Write a Zionist Op-Ed.” I also recently had the misfortune of perusing the contents of that article.
Written by Tablet’s Mark Oppenheimer, the article does not convey the instructions that it advertises. Being that I am in the habit of writing Zionist Op-Eds, I was hoping to be provided with a set of decent if not necessary conditions that may define a good Zionist Op-Ed, or, perhaps, a categorical list of do-not-dos. Instead, I and readers elsewhere were presented with a complaint about a recent Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal entitled “A Defense of Zionism,” written by Israel’s former ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren.
Oppenheimer concludes that Oren’s article is “clearly a work of propaganda, the kind of thing written by an ambassador (Oren’s former job) not a professor (his current one).” Indeed, I, too, have acknowledge that the flaccid content of Oren’s former Op-Eds were a product of his diplomatic position. But Oppenheimer believes that Oren’s current academic position should allow him the latitude to write articles of polemical strength.
Apparently for Oppenheimer, Oren writing of Israel’s “glories” is not a sufficient procedure for a an adequate defense of Zionism, a “wartime agitprop,” as he calls it. And it is true that Oren’s piece leaves the reader feeling uplifted about Israel’s social achievements but diminished in clarity on the necessity of Zionism. But Oppenheimer does nothing to alleviate these concerns, instead launching into a fitful critique of the shifting priorities of a diplomat become scholar. Oppenheimer’s piece then becomes an exercise in social science, arguing that “the failures of his Wall Street Journal essay are object lessons of the pitfalls of a world where so many move between academic and government work, or government work and lobbying, or scholarship and opinion writing. Oren is a perfectly competent polemicist, but it’s a shame that he’s so willing to betray the obligations of a scholar.” These failures are indeed immanent, and should be dissected by academics dedicated to the study of the behavior of academics, a department of inquiry not easily established because its subject is itself, but they have nothing to do with Zionism, its defense, or Oren’s piece.
As Oppenheimer continues, Oren’s “betrayal” finally becomes defined in what he did not say as opposed to what he said. Incensed that Oren did not mention the word “settlements” or “blockade” and Israel’s culpability in “[immiserating] Gaza,” it becomes clear that Oppenheimer has conflated Israeli policies with Zionism. Though, as Oren himself writes in his piece, the enemies of Zionism have existed long before Israel and Egypt’s co-blockade of the Gaza Strip after it turned Hamas enclave, existing as they do in the form of an inveterate hatred of the Jews. To this Oppenheimer agrees, “I for one think that much antipathy toward Zionism does come from anti-Semitism, as well as a displaced loathing toward the United States, Israel’s patron.” He continues, though, that in a fair assessment of anti-Zionism “it’s impossible not to talk about the occupation, the refusal to give back land won in 1967, the efforts to settle that land, and the ongoing controls that Israel places on people who live in that land.”
This is a staggering rhetorical staccato. One not expected to be found in the lines of the same piece complaining of academic betrayals. Oppenheimer acts the magician here. Turning two issues into four, he exponentiates the controversy of Israel’s control of the west bank. It is indeed true that there are settlements and settler policies; and it is indeed true that a military occupation exists in the disputed territories of the west bank. But Israel has offered to give 95% of that land to both Jordan post 1967 and to the Palestinian leadership and the “ongoing controls” are a result of a refusal by the Palestinians to accept that proposal and the proposals that proceeded it all the way back to 1937.
As Oren writes
In view of these monumental achievements, one might think that Zionism would be admired rather than deplored. But Zionism stands accused of thwarting the national aspirations of Palestine’s indigenous inhabitants, of oppressing and dispossessing them.
Never mind that the Jews were natives of the land—its Arabic place names reveal Hebrew palimpsests—millennia before the Palestinians or the rise of Palestinian nationalism. Never mind that in 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008, the Palestinians received offers to divide the land and rejected them, usually with violence. And never mind that the majority of Zionism’s adherents today still stand ready to share their patrimony in return for recognition of Jewish statehood and peace.
Never mind, indeed. Never mind that Oppenheimer has failed to appreciate the polemical power of these paragraphs and instead admonishes Oren that ” [he] can defend the settlements, but if he wants to change people’s minds, he can’t ignore the settlements.” And never mind that Oren writes of Israel’s failures and controversies that,
“Many Zionists insist that these [west bank] territories represent the cradle of Jewish civilization and must, by right, be settled. But others warn that continued rule over the West Bank’s Palestinian population erodes Israel’s moral foundation and will eventually force it to choose between being Jewish and remaining democratic.”
The clear fact that Oren not only mentions the settlements but implicates “many Zionists” as the ones who want them to exist in perpetuity, and that there are also many Zionists who oppose such policies not only complicates the definition of Zionism, but belies Oppenheimer’s suggestion that anti-Zionism is partly caused by the settlements, the anti-Zionists Oppenheimer categorizes as the “many whose anti-Zionism is born of recent history.” One does not, as Oppenheimer implores, have to defend the settlements to defend Zionism. And one does not have to defend the blockade of the Gaza strip to defend Zionism. However, the inverse is true. One must defend Zionism to defend both the settlements and the blockade. In as much as these policies are the result of a nation that has faced more aggressive wars than it has decades of existence, Oren’s “faux-searching tone,” as Oppenheimer caricatures it, and “perplexity” begins to gain purchase. Just what is about the Jewish State that ignites so much enmity against it? Oren offers a suggestion towards the beginning of his piece which Oppenheimer regards as a “fair question” but then proceeds to ignore its implications. Oren writes, “Perhaps revulsion toward Zionism stems from its unusual blend of national identity, religion and loyalty to a land. Japan offers the closest parallel, but despite its rapacious past, Japanese nationalism doesn’t evoke the abhorrence aroused by Zionism.”
To rap up our syllogistic exercise, one must defend nationalism to defend Zionism, a fact that far too many Jews, obsessed with making a liberal case for Israel, ignore. Nationalism is, today, a tough sell. Today we have a United Nations, but most of those nations are now just administrative districts in the vast blended strata of the “human community.” Japan ,as Oren correctly observes, is an exception, along with Israel. Oren’s question still stands resolute and indefatigable. There is something about the Jewish State and its nationalistic leanings that evoke a revulsion that Japanese, French, or Singaporean nationalism does not — Oppenheimer ineptly references Singapore in relation to academics without understanding its importance. If there are anti-ZionistS who have reached their conclusions because of the existence of the settlements then they need to explain why Israel cannot exist if it were to withdraw from the west bank. And if they can’t do that, then it is academically prudent to assume that they are anti-nationalists; and if they are anti-nationalists, then they must answer for their obsession with Israel, the most benign and liberating nationalism in history; and if they can’t do that, then they must answer for their antisemitism.
What Oren attempted to do in his piece was to lay out what Zionism was, is, and what its future holds. And in so doing he revealed, undetectable to Oppenheimer, that anti-Zionism, in most of its forms, as Dr. King instructed, is antisemitism. That there are “the many whose anti-Zionism is born of recent history” further demonstrates the fact. There would be as few anti-Zionist as there are now anti-Indians if there were a measure of balance in the world’s attention to the suffering masses of the third world. That Israel is repeatedly and disproportionately battered in the media creates these many “born of recent of history.” But, Mr. Oppenheimer, they aren’t borne of recent history. An academic and fair assessment of Israel’s history does not make anti-Zionism inevitable. They are born of recent antisemitism masquerading as human rights councils and journalists pandering to the demands of a western world that has turned its antisemitism into anti-nationalism and its anti-nationalism into antisemitism.