Friday, 2 December 2022

The Will of the People

I am arrogant.
Tired of discussing with nitwits who have strongly held opinions about subjects they know little about. Tired of discussing with zealots without any critical doubt who worship a person, party or ideology.

Put another way: nitwits and zealots should not waste their time discussing with me. It is more rewarding for them to interact with members of their own herds.

The latest banality is Jews in and outside Israel proclaiming that western democracy is only about giving all power to 50% plus 1 of the population.

Jew-hatred in the past has often been supported by a majority. 
It was only with the embedding of majority-rule societies in the context of protection for minorities and individuals that persecution of Jews stopped. 
No, the pogroms were not "democratic", even if they were supported by a majority of the population, even if they were "the will of the people".

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

Goodbye sabra

When I lived in Israel in the 1960s there were deep political and social differences. I remember someone remarking that if it were not for the Arabs we might have a civil war.
At that time, the Arabs meant the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. These armies were an existential threat to Israel. 

Despite all the political and social disagreements there was no real danger of a civil war, because of the underlying feeling of solidarity and kinship in the country.
Israeli society was like the sabra, the fruit of the cactus: prickly on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside.

Then, the very idea that someone would assassinate a prime minister and others would rejoice, was beyond the realms of my vivid imagination.
Yet it did happen later and the people who supported that are poised to become part of the government.

Now there are comparable deep political and social differences in the country. However, without the underlying feeling of solidarity and kinship.
Say goodbye to the sabra, only the cactus is left.

Friday, 21 October 2022

The sect of revolutionary climate zealots

The strategist behind Just Stop Oil is Roger Hallam. He is a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion.
Just Stop Oil is meant to be a youth-lead campaign that is more aggressive than earlier campaigns.

Before the new campaign started, Hallam and other supporters toured universities calling on students to sign up.
In January, Hallam told students at Glasgow University they “had to become revolutionaries” to avert climate disaster. (The Guardian)

In November 2019, Hallam was interviewed by the German newspaper Die Zeit. During the interview he said the Holocaust was "just another fuckery in human history".
Actually not that big a deal, according to Hallam, because the "fact of the matter is, millions of people have been killed in vicious circumstances on a regular basis throughout history", and genocides are "like a regular event" in history.
He added that the Germans' attitude towards the Holocaust is holding them back.

In the fallout from his remarks, Extinction Rebellion UK stated that he “no longer has any formal role” with their organisation.

Why did Hallam minimalize the Holocaust?
In recent years there has been a growth of groups who declare that the evil they are fighting is comparable to the Holocaust. They often also compare themselves to the Jews who were slaughtered.
They do this because the Holocaust is still considered to be the benchmark of the worst evil.
Therefore, they are comparing the evil they are fighting to the worst crime in history.

Hallam is a strategist and goes a step further. He minimalizes the Holocaust because his disciples have to believe the evil they are fighting is the worst possible crime, the "ultimate" crime, in history.

Two young supporters of Just Stop Oil went to Downing Street in February, where they delivered an ultimatum to ministers calling for an immediate end to new fossil fuel investments.
“If you do not provide such assurance by 14 March 2022 it will be our duty to intervene – to prevent the ultimate crime against our country, humanity and life on earth,” said the letter, read out at the gates and delivered by hand. (The Guardian)

Just Stop Oil is a sect of revolutionary climate zealots. All zealots are similar, they just have different causes and different enemies.
Hallam's young zealots are fighting the "ultimate crime against our country, humanity and life on earth".
How far are they willing to go?

Thursday, 29 September 2022


Facebook keeps on showing me clips with dogs. I do not mind, as I have nothing against dogs.

According to all the clips, everybody loves dogs. That was not always the case in my past. Certainly not in the period 1964 to 1969 when I lived on a kibbutz.
There were few laws on a kibbutz, instead there were unwritten rules and social control through group pressure on the individual.
In my case the pressure was only in the beginning and it was "friendly".
People thought my hair was too long. The men made jokes about shearing. I was a shepherd.
The women acted as if they were surrogate mothers for me. They told me in earnest and friendly voices that I would be even more handsome with less locks of hair.
It was no big deal for me, so when the barber came around I let him give me a kibbutz hair cut.
When there was a festival all the men wore white shirts. It was like a uniform. However, white is not my colour.
I wore a coloured shirt to a festival in the communal dining room.
People presumed I did not have a white shirt and thought it a disgrace I had not already been given one. I was quite new on the kibbutz.
They complained to the woman who ran the kibbutz shop. She came over to me and said, "come around tomorrow and pick a white shirt".
I did, it was no big deal for me.
Not all the unwritten rules and social pressure were so benign.
I lived and worked with Holocaust survivors from Romania. Many had traumatic memories of dogs used by the Nazis.
There were no dogs on the kibbutz.
That is until Roni and Michaela arrived with a small dog.
They were Belgian and part of my West European group. They had no children and loved their small dog a lot.
For many members, no dogs was an unwritten rule. There were arguments galore, but Roni and Michaela would not budge: they kept their dog.
Then the dog was poisoned.
Roni and Michaela were distraught. They accused certain members of the kibbutz of the poisoning. Nobody owned up to the act.
Soon afterwards they left the kibbutz and returned to Belgium.

Sunday, 7 August 2022

Haredim and (Zionist) Women

"I took a seat at the front of the bus because I suffer from car sickness and sitting in the back makes me nausea," she said.
"At one point, a group of 20 men who belong to an extremist Haredi branch, bordered the bus and ordered me to move to the back.
When I refused, they began yelling at me, pulling my hair and finally one man took off his shoe and shoved his dirty sock in my face," she said.
(Ynet, 1 August 2022)

The role and position of women in society have always been a problem for religious zealots. In Muslim societies, the dress and behaviour of women are governed by law.
On the one hand, women are hussies. They have to dress "modestly", to protect men from them.
On the other hand, they are seen as children who have to be "protected" by a male family member. They have to obey the rules of the men who protect them.
Many ultra-orthodox (Haredi) Jewish religious authorities have a perception of the role and position of women in society that is similar to the Muslim perception.

"A History of Zionism" by Walter Lacqueur is an admired general history of the Zionist movement before the establishment of the state of Israel.
I used to write papers on Zionism for my university study group on Arab Nationalism. 
I found Laqueur to be an excellent frame of reference.

Most religious authorities in the shtetls of Eastern Europe hated political
According to Laqueur, one of the reasons for this and the hatred of the larger socialist Bund movement, was the equality of women in both movements. He also writes that the animosity towards political Zionists was more intense than the animosity towards the Bundists.

The "immodest" clothing of Zionist women when working in the fields.
At least the Bund women knew how to dress modestly. 

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Lo-ammi (Not my people)

During the Holocaust there were some Jews who betrayed fellow-Jews. Often out of fear, sometimes because of a reward.
One of the most nefarious of these traitors was the Dutch Jewess Ans van Dijk. She even betrayed her own brother and his family. She was hanged at the end of the war for her crimes.

People tell me that I cannot compare modern-day Jews who betray (Israeli) Jews to war criminals like Ans van Dijk.
They are right. The Jewish war criminals feared for their lives.
Today’s Jewish “as a Jew” traitors do not have that fear. They betray other (Israeli) Jews out of narcissistic, arrogant “moral righteousness” or because it helps their careers.

Is the British Jewish journalist Jonathan Freedland an example of an “as a Jew” betrayer of Israeli Jews?
Let’s take a look.

He has just penned an article for the Jewish Chronicle with the title, “The 55th anniversary of the Six Day War merits no celebration”.
Why not celebrate? 
Because, according to Freedland, of what the “occupation” is doing to Israelis and “us” (British Jews).

Wait a minute.
The Six Day War was first and foremost an existential war. The goal of the Arab armies was the destruction of the state of Israel and the killing or expulsion of the Jews who lived there.
I know, I was in that war. I listened to the Arab propaganda in Hebrew. They did not ask us to surrender. No, they gloated about how they were going to kill all the men and rape all the women.

His objection to the “occupation” is Freedland’s legitimate political opinion.
However, he does not say that he will celebrate that Israel won the existential war and Jews were not slaughtered. 
No, he will not celebrate that the people of Israel live. 
All he cares about is the occupation.

To put it personally: He does not give shit about Jews like me, my family and my friends who survived. He does not give shit about the Jewish soldiers who died fighting for Israel in that existential war.

“As a Jew” all he cares about is his narcissistic, arrogant, perceived moral righteousness.
This is not just a difference about politics. This is an existential difference.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

No country for old people

The Dutch Safety Board (OVV) has just published its report into the way the Dutch government handled the first phase of the corona pandemic in 2020.

If you want to assess the success or failure of actions, you first have to clarify what the goals of the actions were. There is usually a discussion of these goals in a report, at least in the preamble.

How do we remember earlier pandemics?
We conclude that the flu pandemic in 1918 was the worst pandemic in recent history because it killed the most people worldwide. The 2009 swine flu pandemic resulted in less than 300,000 deaths globally and is considered relatively mild.

Therefore, in my opinion, preventing excess deaths is a major goal of preventive measures during a pandemic. There are of course other goals and the different goals should be weighed before choosing a course of action.

A discussion of goals with the emphasis on saving lives cannot be found in the OVV report. The reason is simple: saving lives was/is not a relevant goal in the Dutch corona policy.
There are three illustrations for this lack of interest in mortality during the pandemic.

1. It is not compulsory to report deaths from corona in the Netherlands.
A policy directed towards preventing deaths from the virus would want to know how many people were dying from the virus.

2. The infected elderly were not given the necessary treatment that could have saved them.
No smiling photos of old people leaving hospital after a long fight against the corona virus in the Netherlands, as they would not have been admitted to hospital.
This also happens in other countries, but there is a difference.
In the UK it was exposed in a Sunday Times article: “Revealed: how elderly paid price of protecting NHS from Covid-19”.
In the Netherlands it is the accepted norm.

3. Lack of priority for vaccinating the elderly.
Remember the smiling photos of the old people who received the first corona vaccines. They were a signal of hope.
Not in the Netherlands. The first photo was of a happy nurse, the second was of a beaming television doctor. 
I remember an uplifting photo in German newspapers; it took another three weeks before the first old person was vaccinated in the Netherlands.

The German nurse who vaccinated the first person in Germany said he was happy that Germany had started to vaccinate. It was important to start as soon as possible because every day people were dying.
The Dutch Minister of Health when confronted with a question about the Dutch tardiness with vaccinations replied: it was not important when you started as the Dutch would eventually catch up with the rest of Europe.