Sunday, January 11, 2009

All aboard the anti-Israel hate train

(Previously published on Blogcritics)

It was only too predictable that once Israel launched its "Operation Hamas Wipe-out," attacks against Jews would once again escalate across Europe. Jewish people have been attacked in incidents across Europe, including Britain—oh, what a big surpise!—France, Denmark and Sweden.
In Toulouse, France, some wingnut slammed his vehicle into the city's synogogue. In Denmark, two Israelis were shot at. In Britain, a gang of nogoodnicks marched through London's largely Jewish Golders Green neighborhood, shouting "Jew!" and trying to enter Jewish-owned shops.
"It is a pattern with which we and the police are now sadly familiar, whereby hysteria is whipped up against Israel, and British Jews then suffer a wave of anti-Semitism," Mark Gardner, a spokesman for the Community Security Trust group, said.
It makes you wonder if, instead of whipping up a heretofore unseen wave of anti-Semitism, Hitler had simply tapped into a rich vein that was already well present amongst Europeans.
Demonstrations have been taking place in London, including an ugly object-throwing incident in front of the Israeli embassy last week. As of this writing, the latest pro-Palestinian rally is expected to draw 100,000 people. All the usual jetsam and flotsam will be present, the same folks who made themselves heard during the anti-Iraq War demonstrations, most notably the remarkably vacuous folks of the Stop The War campaign and their "Not In My Name" followers.
I continue to be amazed at the number of Brits who say they proudly took part in the great anti-war march of 2003. I always reply that even if I'd been against the war, I would not have joined up with anti-Semites from the Left, the Right and the radical elements of Muslim community to protest it. If you're proud to have publicly embraced a rally with very obvious anti-Semitic components to it, then you have a problem.
The other night, a news segment on one of the British national networks highlighted the views and opinions of Israeli soldiers who refused to fight. The message was clear: According to these broadcasters, the only heroic Israeli is one who lies down, defense of his country be damned.
Having said that, the ferociousness of Israel's attacks is no doubt cause for some condemnation. The blowing up of the school was indefensible. There are other stories of brutality from the current conflict, and none of it is doing Israel any good in terms of its image. Even people who considered themselves pro-Israel or at least neutral have lobbed criticism at the Jewish state.
Horrifyingly, Mideast Islamic hardliners come off looking as if they're winning the P.R. battle.
And, of course, there are Isrealis and members of the Jewish community who are horrified at the strength of the Israeli assault on Gaza.
But Israel is determined to put the strangehold on Hamas and they have determined that raw firepower is the only way to do it. The uproar over the latest campaign is simply an expression of an anti-Israeli bias that was already present. Long before this latest conflict, British academics were eagerly supporting a ban on Israeli universities and professors.
The Left decided that since Israel no longer needs their protection—indeed, ever since it became what disgusts the Left the most: a militarily strong state—then they would take up the Palestinian cause. It's fitting, since the squeakiest wheels always get the pinko grease.
For those on the far Right and in the Muslim community who hold anti-Semitic sentiment close to their hearts, the argument that Israel is doing what it takes to defend itself just won't cut the ice, because they don't believe that Israel should exist in the first place. Shimon Peres' assertion that, "We are not in the business of public relations or improving our image. We are fighting against terror and we have every right to defend our citizens" falls on deaf ears.
Instead, all we are mostly hearing are demands that we cancel defense contracts and loosen our ties to Israel, that we stop befriending the only viable democracy in the entire Middle East region.
Dare we mention the hypocrisy of the bad feelings toward Israel right now? In 2006, the heaviosity of Hamas' threats against Israel drew condemnation. Now that an all-out battle to destroy Hamas has taken place in earnest, the world turns against Israel. It's enough to make you wonder if any previous condemnation of Hamas by world leaders was mere posturing and lip-service.
But I don't recall any demonstrations when Hamas forceably took control of the Gaza strip. I don't remember outraged protests when Hamas rounded up Fatah loyalists and executed them in the streets. I have no recollection of any outraged hand-wringing when Palestinians became embroiled in their civil war.
It seems that when the Palestinians are the masters of their own misery, the world doesn't want to know. But when Israel becomes involved, it's time to hop on the anti-Semitic hate train.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy new 12-month period of time!

I just took my first run of 2009. I had my first coffee and visit to the cafe of 2009. And—like, ohmigosh—this is my first weblog entry of 2009!
Seriously now? I think our obsession with "the new year" is the biggest bunch of malarkey known to mankind. Well, aside from socialism or MC Hammer pants, that is.
Think of time as a river. It flows throughout the universe in one inexorable, never-ending stream. Some metaphysicists think that there is no such thing as "the end of time." In fact, it is theorized by some that, due to alternate universes, time has no beginning and no end. Like space itself, it just is. (I'll leave it to Mr. Clinton to define that.)
So, if that's true, then what the hell is a "year?" Why, an arbitrary 12-month human demarcation of time, that's what. I can understand why we have 12-month years, 29- to 31-day months, 24-hour days and 60-second minutes. Humans have done their best to manage and define time, I'll give them credit for that.
If you want to get all excited by attaching a new number to that river of time, pretend that it's all fresh and new, and sing that hokey "Auld Lang Syne" with strangers, then by all means if it makes you happy.
The fact remains: Time has always been time, and human beings have always been completely irrational creatures. Can you tell me what the difference is? Why is the "new year" any different from the last year? Or the year before that? Or 1909 or 1809 or any other year you could mention?
Personally, I derive much more satisfaction from the fact that it's January. After all, winter can't end until you've gotten past its longest, darkest and coldest month. While it's still December, all you can think—well, all I can think—is, "Jeezus Gawd almighty, it's not even January yet!"
Well, now it is. A much better reason to celebrate.
Short of the sky turning bright green as opposed to light blue—which, I can already attest, it hasn't done—or a total sea-change in the way people think and act, I don't see any reason to be happy and excited about referring to the next four seasons as "2009." We all got excited about a number. I ask you, is that not ridiculous?