Friday, July 18, 2008

Small flames: a response

Jonny Steinberg wrote a one-sided and misleading article in Business Day 17 July headed "Small flames of empathy in a wind of subjugation" ( David Saks responded with an effective letter on 18 July and I have just submitted a letter of my own, reproduced below. It only scratches the surface of the issues raised in Steinberg's article but it is the best one can do under the circumstances.

"Jonny Steinberg’s verbal brilliance obscures the intellectual and ethical poverty of his piece in Business Day, 17 July (Small flames of empathy in a wind of subjugation). Does he imagine that only his small band of self-styled progressives and activists are capable of feeling empathy or that the ordinary Israeli kid, compelled to police the West Bank, enjoys the dirty work of survival?

Steinberg assures us that he was “moderately well informed” before leaving on his deliberately selective tour of the West Bank/Israel but where is that is revealed in his writing. Where, for instance, does he ask why it was necessary for the Israelis to go to the extraordinary expense and trouble of creating a “vein-like network of roads” for the exclusive use of the settlers, whereas Israeli Arabs are free to travel where they like within Israel?

If he had enquired, he would have discovered that it was because the young Palestinian boys with “bullet belts slung over their shoulders” had murdered over a 1000 Israelis in the early years of the Intifada, and that Jewish settlers in the West Bank would suffer a similar fate without the roads, checkpoints and barriers.

Ah, says Steinberg (and his clones) at this point: “if the Israelis simply vacated the West Bank this “subjugation” would not be necessary. The hate, systematically incalcated into the minds of Palestinian and many Arab and Muslim children of the region, would dissipate and peace would descend on the Middle East”.

Would that were true. The Israelis tried to leave in 1999/2000 when the West Bank had been prospering economically, growing by leaps and bounds demographically and with its health and mortality figures showing the benefits of cooperation and relative peace. The answer was the Intifada and its consequences.

They cannot leave because Hamas, Hizbollah, Iran, and others less overtly, have made it clear that any “retreat” on the part of Israel is but a step on the road to total “liberation”. Or does Steinberg’s information conveniently end before he reaches this point in the narrative?

Steinberg’s perspective is revealed in his last paragraph where Israelis are implicitly enjoined to nurture the “little bridges being built”, not simply out of a common humanity, but because when American dominance happily ends they may need the supposed goodwill of their enemies.

Jews have suffered the tenderness of strangers for more than 2000 years of statelessness, which is precisely the reason why Israel was created. Steinberg may wish to reflect further on this while he enjoys the hospitality of the City University of New York."

Mike Berger

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Islamic Agenda?

I reprint below a piece entitled "Islamic Imperialism" written by Willie Paterson, an ardent Christian supporter of Israel. We owe a great deal to the courageous and steadfast support of our Christian friends and I am delighted to welcome them to SOLAR PLEXUS.

There have been critics from within the Jewish community claiming that progressive Zionists should shun the support derived from Christian groups. The reasons they advance include the purported "rightwing" political stance of such groups or alleged religious agendas underlying such support. Sometimes, I suspect it is simply a visceral dislike of the religiosity displayed by some of the more vocal of the Christian evangelical churches.

I don't find any of this convincing. I disagree mildly and sometimes profoundly with the views of many Jewish Zionists, but recognise that were I to insist that every supporter of Israel share my world-view I would find myself confined to a small and ineffectual coalition of fellow conformists. Thus we should welcome every supporter except where their actions or words are so ethical dubious or dangerous to clearly disqualify them. I certainly don't find this amongst the Christians I have been in contact with.

That does not mean that I necessarily agree with everything that our ally and friend, Willie Paterson, has written. I am not sure, for instance, that every more towards improving ecumenical relationships is a covert strategy for undermining the West, though we should not be naive about such matters. The main issue is how to differentiate and combat political Islam while not lapsing into irrational Islamophobia.

While readers ponder this, they may also consider the "Quote du Jour" representing leftwing thought within Israel and outside. This position was discussed more fully in my previous post "Liberal heart, neocon brain" and seems considerably more naive and dangerous than most writings coming from the Christian Zionist camp.

These are issues we should discuss further on this blog. But in the meantime, here is Willie Paterson's article after very minor editing:

Islamic Imperialism.

The United States and the West cannot win the war against radical Islam merely with the most sophisticated military strategies. Winning requires understanding the role of shari'a and the Muslim Brotherhood in developing a global ideological and political movement supported by a parallel "Islamic" financial system to exploit and undermine Western economies and markets. This movement is the foundation and the major funding source for the political, economic, and military initiatives of the global Islamic movement.” (FrontPage, 14 June 2008).

The Western world underestimates the power of radical Islam. In the political arena Islam are either over-represented demographically or use it as a platform to foster radicalism. A case in point is the Israeli Parliament which because of its democratic nature has Arab representatives in the Knesset, some of whom abuse those democratic privilegies to advance their radical ideas. Pressure is building up on the South African Parliament to abolish certain religious holidays which are dear to the Christian Community.

In the financial market the Islamic demand is for segregated services. Most mainstream banks in the Western World have an Islamic Banking department. Does that mean that any religion has the right to their own brand of banking. If not, for what reason does a minority group have that right or is it just another instrument towards the dream to establish a caliphate.

On the religious front ecumenical relations are fostered in the name of peace. This is contrary to the Koran which only acknowledges Islam as a religion. Religious leaders should study these covert agendas more closely.

The SA human rights delegation to Israel should also be monitored carefully. Consisting of strong Muslim influence, this delegation could be hijacked to portray their particular views. It is so that every peaceful avenue must be exhausted to solve political issues, but we must be aware of hidden agendas.

And this is not cynicism, we have to see the world as it is. We are caught in the crossfire of a fierce ideological war.

It is time for the Western world to take note of the often perceived small, but highly successful steps towards Sharia law or a world of Dar al Islaam.

Willie Paterson