Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Mark Steyn is a conservative humorist who defends Israel. That fact and the fact that his name is a homonym of "Stein" is enough to lead many to conclude that he is Jewish, which he is not. Mark explores this phenomenon more fully, and entertainingly, in the August 28 issue of National Review (digital). [HT to Rick Richman at Jewish Current Issues. I am very impressed that Rick is able to link to the future. That sort of talent is difficult to compete with.]

For those who are unable to read the entire article, the following excerpt is a gem, since one is encountering more and more "legitimate" pundits who are calling into question whether the creation of the State of Israel was a mistake, or whether it should be permitted to exist. [See, e.g., Daily Kos Calls for Elimination of Israel, as reported in The Hedgehog Blog.]

So, yes, I am a Jew, because, after all, only a Jew could “defend” Israel, right? I don’t really “defend” it on anything but utilitarian grounds: Every country in the region — Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia — dates as a sovereign state from 60–70 years ago. The only difference is that Israel has made a go of it. So should we have more states like Israel in the region or more like Syria? I don’t find that a hard question to answer.

And the minute people start arguing about going back to the “1967 borders” or the “1949 armistice,” I figure, Why stop there? Why not go back to the 1922 settlement when the British Mandate of Palestine was created and rethink London’s decision to give 78 percent of the land to what’s now Jordan? If you propose that, folks think you’re nuts. But why should 40- or 60-year-old lines on a map be up for perpetual renegotiation but 80-year-old lines be considered inviolable?

Well, because one involves Jews and the other doesn’t. The oldest hatred didn’t get that way without an ability to adapt. Jews are hated for what they are — so, at any moment in history, whatever they are is what they’re hated for. For centuries in Europe, they were hated for being rootless-cosmopolitan types. Now there are no rootless European Jews to hate, so they’re hated for being an illegitimate Middle Eastern nation-state. If the Zionist Entity were destroyed and the survivors forced to become perpetual cruise-line stewards plying the Caribbean, they’d be hated for that, too.

The only difference now is that Jew-hatred is resurgent despite the full knowledge of where it ended up 60 years ago. Today, Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad openly urge the destruction of the Jews, and moderate Muslim leaders sit silently alongside them, and European media commentators take the side of the genocide-inciters, and U.N. bigwigs insist we negotiate with them. In the 1930s, the willingness of Europe not to see the implied endpoint in those German citizenship laws left a moral stain on that continent. Seventy years on, it’s not implied, and the moral stain on us will be worse.


Anonymous DL said...

I wonder just how much of the hatred for Jews is because of their openess to God in a secular world, or in the case of Islamofacism - it becomes competition to do away with. 

Posted by DL

Thursday, August 24, 2006 7:13:00 AM  
Blogger The Kosher Hedgehog said...

DL: Support for your suggestion may be found in a very curious statement by the Jewish sages of the Talmud, found in the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabat, page 89. The Talmud explains why the mountain where the Torah was given to the Jewish people is called Mount Sinai. "Why is it called, ‘Sinai’? For from it, hatred [in Hebrew, 'sinah' ] went out to the nations of the world" (Shabbat 89).

The sages seem to suggest that by accepting the Torah, the Jewish people condemned themselves to be the objects of hatred by the rest of the world. In their classic work, "Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism,"  Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin hypothesize that by insisting on the absolute, transcendent, permanent and final truth of the revelation at Mount Sinai, the Jews alienated and earned the enmity of all those nations whose religions and prophets, polytheistic and monotheistic, the Jews rejected: Amalek, the Philistines, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Roman Catholic Church, Mohammed and Islam, Martin Luther and the Protestants, Marx, Stalin, Hitler, and secular humanists. From this source of Jew hatred, not even Jews themselves are immune, once they have rejected their own religion, Marx, Trotsky, Freud and Noam Chomsky being prominent examples.

To my way of thinking, the surprise, then, is not that antisemitism or anti-Judaism (the former being a racial hatred, the last a theological hatred) exist, but that the vast majority of American Christians, and many Christians in other nations as well, have been so successful in purging themselves of it while remaining true to their Christian faith. This phenomenon has many causes, including the extraordinary religious tolerance displayed by the foremost of our Founding Fathers--particularly Ben Franklin, George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson; the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights; and, in the Catholic world, the teachings and actions of Popes John XXIII, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. At singular times and places tolerance of Judaism has manifest itself in the Moslem world as well. But the modern Islamo-Facist feeds on the Jew hatred induced by the rejection of Islam and Mohammed by the Jewish tribes of the Arabian Peninsula in the Seventh Century, which led to their extermination by Mohammed and his followers. That poisoned tradition continues through the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and his nephew, Yasir Arafat, to Hamas and Hezbollah today.


Posted by The Kosher Hedgehog

Thursday, August 24, 2006 1:17:00 PM  
Blogger The Hedgehog said...

Ralph: I have one minor quibble. Well, maybe it's major, but we hedgehogs can work these things out.

It always startles me when I hear Prager and others say the Jews "gave" the world monotheism, the Ten Commandments, etc. As a believer, I find that inappropriate to say the least. Isn't it more accurate to say that God gave those things to mankind, through  the Jews (Hebrews)?  

Posted by The Hedgehog

Thursday, August 24, 2006 2:55:00 PM  
Blogger The Kosher Hedgehog said...

No quibble at all, Hedgehog, because you are absolutely right. You will notice that I referred to the "accepting of the Torah" above. God was the giver. Israel was the receiver. Moses was the transmitter after the opening words of the Ten Commandments. (One tradition is that the entire assembled nation only heard the first word, "Anochi " ["I am"] directly from God; the rest being transmitted through Moses.) When we lift up the Torah scroll in our synagogues, after reading from it, we proclaim the verse from Deuteronomy, "And this is the Torah that Moses set before the Children of Israel, according to the word of God, through the hand of Moses." That describes the relationship fairly well. When Dennis Prager and others speak of the Jews giving monotheism to rest of the world, they mean that the Jewish people have the merit of being the nation that accepted the Torah, and then disseminated it to the rest of the world. The influence of the Torah on the later monotheistic faiths of Christianity and Islam is self-evident. Dennis also refers to the Jewish tradition, implicit in the Book of Genesis, that the knowledge of the One God held by Adam through Noah had almost disappeared from the world by the birth of Abraham; and that it was Abraham, the son of an idol maker, who "rediscovered" monotheism, even before God revealed himself to Abraham through prophecy. 

Posted by The Kosher Hedgehog

Thursday, August 24, 2006 3:31:00 PM  
Anonymous DL said...

Wow - Thanks for the Biblical lesson. I probably was more right than I realized. I was just basing my thinking on how far out of proportion to reality is the bias against the Jewish people. From the point of view of the haters, what possibly could the Jews have done to cause such vengence? Your answer relies upon faith of course - which seems then to back up the notion that belief in God is not just folly. 

Posted by DL

Thursday, August 24, 2006 6:36:00 PM  

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