Monday, September 06, 2010

Soccer Dad

Soccer Dad

Mizrachi Jews and new sorties in the "War of Ideas in the Middle East"

Posted: 06 Sep 2010 10:11 AM PDT

As you may know, Martin Gilbert has just published a book called "In Ishmael's House, a history of Jews living in Muslim lands." The book includes what happened to the Mizrachi Jewry after 1948 and Gilbert joins the not terribly large group of historians who have tackled this important subject in any detail. (The Jews of Islam by Bernard Lewis, if I remember correctly, deals with its subject in very general terms.) MondoWeiss excerpts the final four paragraphs from a review of the book by New Historian Avi Shlaim:

Nowhere is Gilbert more strikingly one-sided than in his account of the consequences of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In the course of this war, the name Palestine was wiped off the map and 726,000 Palestinians became refugees. In its wake, around 850,000 Jews left the Arab world, mostly to start a new life in the newborn State of Israel. For Gilbert, these Jews are simply the other half of the "double exodus" and he persistently refers to them as "refugees." With few exceptions, however, these Jews left their native lands not as a result of officially sanctioned policies of persecution but because they felt threatened by the rising tide of Arab nationalism. Zionist agents actively encouraged the Jews to leave their ancestral homes because the fledgling State of Israel was desperately short of manpower. Iraq exemplified this trend. The Iraqi army participated in the War for Palestine, and the Arab defeat provoked a backlash against the Jews back home. Out of a population of 138,000, roughly 120,000 left in 1950-51 in an atmosphere of panic and peril.

I was five years old in 1950 when my family reluctantly moved from Baghdad to Ramat Gan. We were Arab Jews, we spoke Arabic, our roots went back to the Babylonian exile two and a half millennia ago and my parents did not have the slightest sympathy with Zionism. We were not persecuted but opted to leave because we felt insecure. So, unlike the Palestinians who were driven out of their homes, we were not refugees in the proper sense of the word. But we were truly victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Despite all its shortcomings, Gilbert's book is an illuminating and a moving account of the history of the Jews in Arab lands. But he is psychologically hard-wired to see anti-Semitism everywhere. The picture he paints is consequently unbalanced.

By dwelling so persistently on the deficits, he downplays the record of tolerance, creative co-existence and multi-culturalism in Muslim lands which constitutes the best model we have for a brighter future.

One has to wonder (and certainly the inquiring minds of MondoWeiss don't inquire in that direction): does Shlaim appreciate his freedom? Does he think he would be free, or as free, to pursue his intellectual interests and speak his mind if somehow the Jewish community of Iraq had survived and he was part of it? What do all those nice distinctions ("victims," but "not refugees in the proper sense of the word") mean? Since he has introduced his own family into the discussion, did they have property? If so, what became of it?

The story of the Mizrachi Jews in Modern times is, in all frankness, not that lachrymose in its ending. The great ugly truth that everyone is too polite to mention is that having one's property looted by one's Arab Muslim overlords is not such a bad deal if the package includes ultimately being free of them. Mizrachi Jews left under various circumstances, as did the Palestinians. And while Mizrachi Jews may ultimately have encountered a happier fate than the Palestinians did, there is no justification for the suffering and injustice imposed on them by an Arab world that turned on its loyal Jewish citizens in a spirit of revenge.

As far as supposed wrongs to the Palestinian people as a whole are concerned, I don't think any serious historians argue that the Yishuv could have acted differently in 1947 and 1948. The New Historians have perhaps corrected an erroneous David-Goliath sense of the relative strength of the two sides, and the more extreme views regard 1948 as the rinse-cycle of the born-in-sin Zionist movement, but in practical terms, non-Goliaths who threaten your existence have to be defeated. The Mizrachi Jews, in contrast, did not threaten anybody.

And Shlaim's conclusion is breathtaking. Muslim "multi-culturalism" is "the best model we have for a brighter future"? Really? Is there a contemporary example of it somewhere we could hold up as a shining banner? If downplaying this supposed "best model" is the book's major shortcoming according to Shalim, I'd say that counts as an endorsement.

Crossposted on Judeopundit

The "world is flat" award for the columnist who tries hardest to emulate thomas friedman goes to ...

Posted: 06 Sep 2010 04:36 AM PDT

Kathleen Parker for her silly Facebook and social media offer the potential of peace column the other day.

At the State Department, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sits between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. There is much gray hair among them.

Not far away, at a sidewalk cafe near George Washington University, four college students converse amicably. One is Israeli, one Palestinian, another Syrian, the fourth African American. (One of my young tablemates knows and identifies them.) Their iPhones join flatware among platters of couscous and falafel. They are speaking English, laughing, trading news and barbs.

The scene just described is not rare in the nation's capital or in many other cities where colleges and universities attract diverse populations. I've witnessed variations of the same tableau dozens of times. Different faces, ethnicities and nationalities, but the same dynamic and, for members of an older generation, the same revelation.

Of course they're not in their home countries, so this is hardly telling. But there was this observation.

Meanwhile, evidence mounts that sentiments are shifting among younger people, whose worldviews are broader than those of previous generations. Recent polling by Frank Luntz found that American Jewish college students are more willing than their elders to question the Israeli position. They resist groupthink and desperately want peace.

Jewish college students? Hold on. The academy is one of the places where one is subjected to relentless anti-Israel propaganda. This isn't just a function of student organizations, but often occurs in classes. This is precisely an example of groupthink. Young impressionable people without a full understanding of a situation being led to conclusions by those in authority. As Evelyn Gordon observed regarding the Luntz poll:

But it's also a travesty because it shouldn't be hard for any Jewish leftist to explain why Israel, for all its flaws, is still a far better example of the left's one-time values, such as freedom, democracy, tolerance, and human rights, than any of its enemies.

And of course there was Parker's followup observation.

Might Palestinian youth feel similarly? Alas, I could find no similar polls.

Hmm. I wonder why (not).

Before she finishes with the column she leaves us with this chilling thought.

If I were dictator for a day, I would arrange for every young person to "friend" another in the enemy camp of their choice, creating virtual student-exchange programs in every neighborhood on the map. While the old folks bicker over their sandboxes, the children could begin building fortresses of friendship.

Kathleen Parker as dictator. Yikes! That's a frightening thought.

So like Thomas Friedman, Kathleen Parker believes that technology will bring us all together. She also demonstrates a fondness for dictating to others. Fortunately, unlike Thomas Friedman, she doesn't necessarily pine for Chinese Communism. Unfortunately she betrays a desire to be one herself.

There was a time when I thought that Parker was reasonable. Now that time seems distant.

Crossposted on Yourish.

Fareed must have learned cause and effect from fox butterfield

Posted: 06 Sep 2010 04:36 AM PDT

One of Best of the Web Today's James Taranto's favorite targets is Fox Butterfield of the New York Times. As Taranto summarizes an occasional theme promoted by Butterfield:

It's a little like the old Fox Butterfield fallacy: Prison population growing despite reduction in crime.

Apparently Fareed Zakaria learned the lesson well. (via memeorandum) He writes in What America has lost:

Nine years after 9/11, can anyone doubt that Al Qaeda is simply not that deadly a threat? Since that gruesome day in 2001, once governments everywhere began serious countermeasures, Osama bin Laden's terror network has been unable to launch a single major attack on high-value targets in the United States and Europe. While it has inspired a few much smaller attacks by local jihadis, it has been unable to execute a single one itself. Today, Al Qaeda's best hope is to find a troubled young man who has been radicalized over the Internet, and teach him to stuff his underwear with explosives.

Since Al Qaeda's not effective now it never was a threat! Brilliant.

Patterico, Political Byline, Powerline and others, have similar takes.

At first I was about to say that with writing like this, it's no wonder that Newsweek sold for $1.The more I think about it, 1 dollar seems like overpayment for this sort of foolishness.

4 years

Posted: 06 Sep 2010 04:12 AM PDT

At 1:15 AM she turned 209 weeks old.

Today, isn't really her birthday. However both she and her now 9 year old sister were born Labor Day, so I chose today to write.

What do you feel when your youngest starts school? (Even if it is pre-nursery.)


Well the carefree days of babyhood are mostly gone. She's not a baby. And she'll tell you that - emphatically - if you tell her otherwise. (Unless, she's in a mood when she wants to pretend that she's a baby so you'll cradle her in your arms.)

Last night before she went to bed she put her own "babies" to bed, explaining that one was sharing her blanket with her two "sisters" - who didn't have their own - so they wouldn't be cold. I was very impressed with the generosity of the doll.

It's been awhile since I've done this because as a child reaches a certain point, she doesn't change so much from month to month. Or at least she doesn't change in obvious ways.

So yes I miss the babyness, though I still enjoy watching the new milestones. Such as starting school.


Or egging the challahs.

She has this habit of reaching into the cookie containers and taking one whenever she feels like it. (Not too long ago when one of her friends visited. She helped him to a cookie. Just pulled up a chair, took a cookie and gave it to him.)

She does seem to adjust to new situations well and she loves following around her big (not her biggest) sister and pretending that she's one of the girls. In fact when her Imma dropped her off at school she chose not to be walked in separately, but walked in with the rest of the bigger girls.

So we no longer have a baby, we have a little girl.

Previous related entries: 38 months, 36 months, 35 months, 34 months, 33 months, 32 months, 31 months, 30 months, 29 months,
28 months,
27 months,
26 months,
25 months,
Two years,
23 months,
22 months,
21 months,
20 months,
19 months,
18 months,
17 months,
16 months,
15 months,
14 months,
13 months,
One year,
11 months,
10 months,
9 months,
eight months,
seven months,
six months,
five months,
four months,
three months,
two months,
One month.


Posted: 04 Sep 2010 08:29 PM PDT

Before we visited Niagara, we stopped in Lockport, New York.


Lockport is a stop along the Erie Canal, roughly a half hour west of Buffalo. In addition to seeing some of the locks up close.



(These are the original locks. The Canal's been upgraded with wider locks now in use.)


The real hero of Lockport is a man named Birdsill Holly. Holly was an inventor and entrepreneur. He leased the water power of the canal to build a number of industries in Lockport. Among American inventors, he holds the second greatest number of patents - that's second to Thomas Edison.

Holly's ingenuity led to the creation of three businesses along the canal in Lockport: Holly Manufacturing Company, Richmond Manufacturing Company and Lockport Pulp Company.

All that's left of the Holly Manufacturing Company are the entrance to the tunnels through which the water flowed.

You can enter the what's left of the Lockport Pulp company building and explore the tunnel that brought the water in.

Lockport provided a glipmpse of a fascinating bit of America's industrial history.


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