Evolving Thoughts

People or classes?

It seems that almost nobody can mention Jews without making an inadvertent or deliberate ass of themselves. Most recently, Richard Dawkins put his foot in it in this Guardian article. He said:

When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous I am told – religious Jews anyway – than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place.

Now, I know what he’s trying to say here. He wants to say that if atheists had the influence that a religious lobby had, atheism could be much better accepted. But that’s not what he said.

The group he is referring to is not a Jewish lobby, but a pro-Israeli lobby. There’s a difference, even if all the members of the latter are Jewish. Many Jews, religious or not, do not think that everything Israel does in its foreign and domestic policy is to be supported. And as we have heard over the years, many members of the Pro-Israel lobby in Washington are motivated not by being Jewish, but by being Millenarian fundamentalist Christians.

I seem to have a number of Jewish friends, but I am rarely aware of it. I wish I could claim some moral high ground here, but I am usually unaware of the personal and ethnic properties of all my friends: gays, bigots, etc., until they say something. And those who are Jewish who I know are equally blind to my Anglo-Irish heritage. I suppose they, too, sometimes wake up with the realisation that “Hey. One of my best friends is a WASP”, but then again they may not.

So I find it hard to understand why anyone needs to identify people by their ethnic or religious affiliations. Like sexual orientation, it’s the least interesting fact about a person, unless one wants to convert them (or in the case of sexual orientation, get them into bed). And for some reason, people have a particular blind spot about Jews. As I think Chaim Potok once had a character say, “People either love Jews too much, or hate them too much”. I’ve been there. I once tried to convert (largely because I was reading Potok and the Harry Kemelman rabbi detective stories), and was told by a wise rabbi at Temple Beth Israel in Melbourne to come back in seven years, if I still wanted to convert.

So why is what Dawkins said so wrong? Because he identifies one particular political lobby with an entire religion and more, an entire set of ethnic groupings. Even if it were true (and it’s truer than I like) that American foreign policy is monopolised by the pro-Israeli lobby, this is not the same as making it something that Jews do. Its a fallacy of composition.

An even more worrying trend is the vilification of Arabs. This is not something that is post-9/11. It has been going on for some time. Let’s get it straight: not all Arabs, or Muslims, support terrorism. There is a general term for those people: terrorists. Those who do not support terrorism are not “friendly Arabs” either, they are just people. We should not demonise groups, or religions. And this goes also for atheists – why should they have a bloc that influences American policy? Shouldn’t it be the goal to remove special interest lobbies rather than add to them?

I think we long ago lost our democratic nature, and replaced it, in Australia as in the US, with a lobbocracy. And the tendency to put people in nice general classes that we can have a canned attitude towards, removing the necessity for taking people as they come and having to actually think about them, is a malign and irrational approach we should not encourage. The latest example of it in Australia is the current (and we hope soon to be ex-) government’s decision not to allow any more Sudanese immigrants because they don’t “integrate”. It’s pure racism, despite the denials, because he is assessing individuals in terms of the group “traits”. If we want to have people integrate, give them the resources, screen people (not just from Sudan) for predictor characteristics, whatever. But don’t demonise an entire people. I am aghast at this in this day and age, and in my supposedly liberal country.

I’m fairly sure that I have made an ass of myself here, mentioning Jews (and gays, and Sudanese) but at least I’m trying not to be a prototypical WASP. Don’t demonise me, either.

Comments

  1. #1 Susan Silberstein
    October 10, 2007

    What do you mean when you say that it is truer than you like that “American foreign policy is monopolised by the pro-Israeli lobby”? It almost sounds as if you are saying that Dawkins would be right if he was just using the term Israeli rather than Jewish.

    You cannot imagine how tired American Jews are of hearing that we run the government, foreign policy, etc. You want a Jew to run things, fine, I volunteer. The country would surely be a better place.

  2. #2 John S. Wilkins
    October 10, 2007

    See? I told you I’d make an ass of myself.

    I think America has too strong an attachment to Israel. Why that is, is a historical and sociocultural thing, but it is at least partly why the US has overengaged in the middle east.

    But don’t think that I am opposed to Israel getting military support. I just think that for some foreign policy mavens, they see everything through an Israelcentered lens.

    And why don’t you run for President, Susan? That would be a very fine thing. Especially if you succeed.

  3. #3 Chris
    October 10, 2007

    I’m starting to wonder what kind of intellectual legacy Dawkins is setting up for himself. I’ve been known to argue that the selfish gene wasn’t actually a terribly helpful concept, in the long run, but at least it was stimulating. His recent efforts are mostly just embarassing.

  4. #4 johannes
    October 10, 2007

    > it is at least partly why the US has
    > overengaged in the middle east.

    What about oil?

    > I just think that for some foreign policy mavens,
    > they see everything through an Israelcentered lens.

    The middle east is not the world, and American foreign policy is not just about the middle east. Think Russia, India or China. Even if the vaunted ‘Israeli lobby’ would control American middle eastern policy (but if this would be true, how do you explain the close US-Saudi relationship? And how do you explain the joined Soviet/American pro-Egyptian intervention in 1956 – and the absence of modern American weapons in the Israeli arsenal before de Gaulle’s break with Israel in 1967?), there would be other diplomatic theatres beyond their control or interest.

  5. #5 Flaky
    October 10, 2007

    Shouldn’t that be the pro-Israel lobby (without the i)? And even that is a misnomer, because what it is taken to mean is a lobby for the unconditional support for any military action by Israel, lawful or otherwise, and the further annexation of Palestinian regions. In this sense of the word, not even all Israeli Jews are ‘pro-Israel’ (Yitzhak Rabin). The implication of the word is absurd; anyone who wishes peace in the Middle East is anti-Israel. (It was rather chilling to hear in a documentary somewhere on the tubes that anyone who actually manages to unite Israel and Palestine in peace is the Devil)

  6. #6 Ian H Spedding FCD
    October 10, 2007


    I think we long ago lost our democratic nature, and replaced it, in Australia as in the US, with a lobbocracy.

    I prefer to call it advocracy because there are altogether too many lawyers involved in it.

    Not that we should demonise groups, I agree…

  7. #7 John S. Wilkins
    October 10, 2007

    Some of my best friends are lawyers.

  8. #8 monson
    October 10, 2007

    Well, AIPAC does have more influence than they deserve on a strictly numbers basis. So do Cubans. Or should I say anti-Castro Cubans. That is how American policy works. Are there really a lot of Jews opposed to AIPAC? How opposed? The point is that a religous/nationistic minority influences policy greatly why can’t we have a realist PAC or something?

  9. #9 John S. Wilkins
    October 10, 2007

    Oddly (or coincidentally, but maybe not so much) I just saw an interview on the PBS Newshour (yes, we get it here) between two authors, one arguing that AIPAC has too much influence, and another arguing that this is the latest in a series of “Jewish conspiracy” theories. One thing they both agreed on is that most (American) Jews did not want the war in Iraq, and that AIPAC is not representative of Jewish opinion in the States.

    And flaky is right – I should have said “pro-Israel”, not “pro-Israeli”.

    But I’m not speaking from that detailed perspective – the behaviour of the US in supporting every aspect of Israeli policy is salient to non-American observers. What the causes or lobby interests are that influence that are beside the point, both to the argument I make above, and to the strong pro-Israel policies the US has pursued. I leave the internal questions to Americans.

    As to supporting Israeli military actions: how could anyone think Israel is wrong to defend itself? They have an obvious clear and present danger. But that is very far from supporting all military actions (like the recent incursions into Lebanon). However, and this may be a bias in the reporting, I never see the US administrations deploring any actions of Israel’s, even when they are beyond the pale. And that is mostly what I meant.

    This is a very gray area. There are no simple judgments to make. However, I would like to see Israel treat noncombatants (like the bulk of the Gaza Strip) better when they are under their control, and to see more constructive engagement with the Palestinians, history notwithstanding.

  10. #10 Joshua Zelinsky
    October 10, 2007

    Monsoon, there are a heck of a lot of Jews who are opposed to AIPAC or simply don’t agree with it. If you spent sometime reading material from the general Jewish community this would quickly become apparent. Examples include Tikkun (a left-wing/progressive magazine which may be an extreme example). If one talks to Jews on an American college campus one will get a possibly every single possible attitude about Israel only a small minority of whom are in the unconditional support category.

  11. #11 The Ethical Atheist
    October 10, 2007

    John,

    The way things are currently, I feel that special interest lobbies are a good thing. They ensure that the minority is not trampled over. I agree with Dawkins that atheists should have more influence over American politics today, as stem cell research is banned, creationism is pushed in schools, and abortions are vilified solely on religious basis.

    Also, I feel that your idea where individuals were judged by their personal traits rather than by affiliation is an unattainable utopian dream.

  12. #12 jeffk
    October 10, 2007

    So I find it hard to understand why anyone needs to identify people by their ethnic or religious affiliations. Like sexual orientation,

    I agree that Dawkins may have miscalculated this one. But you can learn an awful lot from a person by their religious affiliation, ethnicity and sexual orientation. If someone’s religiously affiliated, the more serious they are, the more I know they’re a moron who will believe anything. And that’s a useful bit of information when I’m getting to know someone. Or take sexual orientation: sex is a huge part of who we are. My relationships with my gay friends are in many ways different than with my straight ones; why deny it? Also, being queer gives someone a particular cultural background, and knowing that tells you a lot about a person.

    Or consider someone’s job, which has also been mentioned. This is what many people spend the MAJORITY of their time doing; if that doesn’t tell you about someone, what does? Scientists are generally pretty different people than accountants.

    What’s the point of throwing away all of these interesting bits of information about a person because it’s somehow not PC to use them? It reminds me of Stephen Colbert’s “black friend”, whose race he actually can’t see.

  13. #13 Brandon
    October 10, 2007

    While it would be nice to judge each person by their own merits, that becomes very unfeasible in a world of 6 billion. I think people too often tend to divide others into groups, but when dealing with foreign policy it’s kind of necessary. Also, I think, compared to previous conflicts, that America has been very good about waging war on terrorists, not Iraqis or Arabs or Muslims. There are isolated incidents and nutcase religious righters, but there’s nothing close to the level of racism seen in World War II and the Cold War.

    As a Jew, I didn’t think your post was all that offensive. But you neglected to mention that maybe, just maybe, the reason America is so friendly to Israel is that out of all the Middle Eastern countries, they by far share our values the most. I don’t support what they did in Lebanon or what they’re doing in Gaza, but seriously, could any other Middle Eastern country have such a class act? Israel would not have survived to this day without the USA’s exceptional support, and the whole world would be worse off without them.

  14. #14 natural cynic
    October 10, 2007

    Why not narrow the focus to pro-Likud instead of pro-Israel?

  15. #15 Aaron Clausen
    October 10, 2007

    It’s helpful in all of this to understand that it isn’t just some nebulous “Jewish lobby” involved here, in the US you have some fairly significant Christian churches (and all that that means in US politics) who have some pretty spectacular beliefs regarding Israel and Armageddon, and I think that also plays a part in the pro-Israel position taken by the US.

    It’s really a two way street, of course. The US gets its only clearly-defined foot in the Middle Eastern door via Israel.

    As to Dawkins, I think he has fallen for some variant of the Jewish conspiracy, though he comes at it from the angle that the “Big Three” monotheistic faiths are, at the core, violent, intolerant and xenophobic, so it’s not so much a “Jewish” conspiracy, but a “Yahwehist” conspiracy.

    I don’t see any point in invoking Jews as some sort of unified socio-politico-religious group. One look at Israeli politics ought to educate people that such a creature does not exist.

  16. #16 Peter Lund
    October 10, 2007

    I don’t think anybody but Orac and some of its commenters made fools of themselves.

  17. #17 Neil
    October 10, 2007

    I am one of John’s jewish friends (did you know that John? I mean that I am jewish, not a friend?). At least if judaism is an ethnicity I am jewish. It is absolutely clear that US foreign policy is absurdly pro-israeli; so is the media. There is a number of reasons for this, but a central one is the influence of evangelical christianity: these people are zionists, since they believe that israel plays some central role in armageddon. These things are also self-perpuating: since everyone knows that all palestinians are terrorists, anyone who denies this is seen to be a moral monster.

    Empirical evidence for the pro-Israel bias of the US media: several polls have asked the US public to estimate the number of israeli casualties v palestinian casualties since the second intifada. The median estimate is about 8:1. Of course, the real ratio is in the other direction.

    I second the commentators who point out that Israel itself is a diverse society. But this diversity is not reflected in diaspora jews. There is a very widespread view among jews outside israel that it is wrong to criticise israel in public. You can condemn it privately (ie, among jews) but not so that non-jews will hear. So the public debate is ceded to a certain strand of zionists. Haaretz would be slammed as anti-semitic, were it published anywhere other than Israel.

  18. #18 John S. Wilkins
    October 10, 2007

    Neil, I thought you were a bioethicist. At least one of my best friends is a bioethicist, at any rate.

    On my unattainable idealism, I note that I agree with the poet (Tennyson?) who said that a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a [Platonic] heaven for? More seriously, this is humanism. It means taking individuals seriously. Sure, we can’t avoid treating people as equivalence classes, but that doesn’t make it a decent honourable thing to do.

    On the virtues of lobbocracy, all I can say is that I have seen no positive good come from it, and plenty of positive evil. So while it might be a tactical move to set up an atheist lobby (how do you make a lobby group from a privative class?), it is not necessarily a moral thing to do.

  19. #19 Neil
    October 10, 2007

    Neil, I thought you were a bioethicist.

    Now I’m offended.

  20. #20 Jason
    October 10, 2007

    First of all, on the most important matter: I think it’s “pro-Israeli”, not “pro-Israel”, for the same reason it would be “pro-British” etc., not because it’s about individual citizens but because it’s an adjective (or whatever the highfalutin’ terminology is these days). So John was right all along. If there’s any dispute about this I’ll ask my wife, and then you’ll all be sorry.

    Secondly:

    > consider someone’s job, which has also been mentioned.
    > This is what many people spend the MAJORITY of their time doing

    Actually, no it isn’t. Almost nobody spends the majority of their time doing their job. Not even their waking time. But isn’t it interesting that a lot of people (maybe most people) feel like it is?

    And finally:

    > There is a very widespread view among jews outside israel
    > that it is wrong to criticise israel in public. You can condemn
    > it privately (ie, among jews) but not so that non-jews will hear.

    My experience (in Britain and in Sydney) has been that Neil is right about criticising Israel in public, but that it’s also considered a bit problematic to criticise it in private. By and large.

  21. #21 Jud
    October 11, 2007

    “I never see the US administrations deploring any actions of Israel’s, even when they are beyond the pale.”

    We’re in agreement as to effect, but cause is more problematic. How did the “pro-Israel lobby” attain such political power only a couple of decades from the time that the U.S. government, and major U.S. companies, with no government static, were complying with many aspects of the Arab economic boycott of Israel? My own conclusion is that Jewish pro-Israelis are no more politically powerful than “Jewish bankers” are in control of the U.S. or world (pick your conspiracy) economy.

    The more thoughtful explanation, it seems to me, is that political dependence of the Bush administration on the ability of evangelical churches to organize votes where they are most needed, plus military alliance based on ideas of a GWOT, have at least momentarily outweighed the historic political power of the U.S. petroleum industry.

  22. #22 Ian H Spedding FCD
    October 11, 2007

    As I see it, like so many things it comes down to a question of definitions, so this is my two Euro’s worth:

    ‘Pro-Jewish’ or ‘pro-Jew’ means favouring any people of the Jewish ethnic group, culture and/or religion which can include, but is not limited to, those from the state of Israel.

    ‘Pro-Zionist’ means support for the international political movement known as Zionism which, originally, lobbied for the establishment of a Jewish homeland.

    ‘Pro-Israeli’ means support for the people of the state of Israel which can, but does not necessarily, include support for the policies of the Israeli government.

    ‘Pro-Israel’ can mean both support for the existence of the state of Israel and support for the policies of its government.

    Simple, innit?

  23. #23 Susan Silberstein
    October 11, 2007

    “And why don’t you run for President, Susan?” Well, John, I don’t think I can, how shall I put this, pass the background check.

    I do think that part of the attachment is that Israel is the only democracy in the ME and there was a time when that probably meant something. Now, who knows? Oil may trump everything and things may change. Jews really are a tiny minority in the U.S. and everywhere else except for Israel and the world is running out of gas.

    P.S. There is a lot of anti-Semitism in English academia and upper class circles. Some people like to make the argument that anti-Semitism is not anti-Israel, but Jews just don’t buy that. Israel was set up to be a Jewish country, like it or don’t.

  24. #24 Thony C.
    October 11, 2007

    I do think that part of the attachment is that Israel is the only democracy in the ME

    I beg to differ. Palestine elected a democratic government in an election that was adjudged by independent observers to be free and fair. Israel and America both refused to, in anyway, recognise or negotiate with that government because they did not approve of the political party that the Palestinians had elected!

    Disclaimer:
    This posting is a neutral statement of fact and does not in anyway reflect the political, social, religious or cultural sympathies or antipathies of the poster.

  25. #25 TSK
    October 11, 2007

    : Some people like to make the argument that anti-Semitism
    : is not anti-Israel, but Jews just don’t buy that.

    Shouldn’t it be the other way round: anti-Israel is not anti-Semitism ? “anti-Semitism is not anti-Israel” sounds always wrong.

  26. #26 Neil
    October 11, 2007

    Of course “anti-Israel is not anti-semtisim” was what was meant. Susan says that Jews don’t buy that you can be anti-Israel w/o being anti-semitic. Newsflash! This Jew is anti-Israel! Yes, of course some, perhaps a fairly large proportion, of anti-Israel feeling is motivated by anti-semitism. But it’s just blackmail to hold that the one must entail the other. BTW, part of the reason for the nexus is clearly that many jews don’t distinguish “Israel” from “judaism”. You can’t have it both ways.

    There’s an old Lenny Bruce sketch, that describes the conflation of judaism and israel that is common in the jewish world, and certainly accurately fits my upbringing. In the sketch, a man approaches his rabbi and says he is confused about god. The rabbi admonishes him for bringing god into the synagogue; it will only distract us from raising money for Israel.

  27. #27 Susan Silberstein
    October 11, 2007

    Okay, Israel is the only democratic “country” in the ME, since 1948. Remember that the Palestinian elections are a very recent thing.

    I miswrote and will now bore you with details: far too often, people explain that, “no, really I’m not anti-Jewish; some of my best friends, blah, blah, blah, I’m just anti-Zionist, Israel does terrible things to the Pals, Jews rule the world, yadda, yadda.” Where I come from, that is usually codespeak for anti-Semitism. I don’t buy this I love the Jews, I just hate what they do stuff.

  28. #28 Neil
    October 11, 2007

    Susan, when someone says ” I love the jews, I just hate what they do”, that’s anti-semitism”. That’s not what I’m objecting. I’m objecting to the common response, in Australia and the UK, to criticisms of Israel as necessarily motivated by anti-semitism.

    On the other question. Is Israel the least bad country in the ME? Probably. So what? I don’t see why I have to pick a ME country and support it. The “better than Syria” line is very faint praise. In any case, the very fact that Israel is a semi-democracy is a reason to criticise it: we rightly hold democracies to higher standards (partly because there’s a point in criticising democracies). Were US support for Israel to drop dramatically, there is a realistic chance of a peace settlement, partially b/c Israel is a democracy. That’s a difference between Israel and Burma. That’s a reason to criticise, not to give it a free pass.

  29. #29 TSK
    October 11, 2007

    : I miswrote and will now bore you with details: far too
    : often, people explain that, “no, really I’m not anti-
    : Jewish; some of my best friends, blah, blah, blah, I’m
    : just anti-Zionist, Israel does terrible things to the
    : Pals, Jews rule the world, yadda, yadda.” Where I come
    : from, that is usually codespeak for anti-Semitism.

    Let us cut out “Jews rule the world” which is really pretty obvious. In this case my litmus test is normally to check him for his feelings of non-white foreigners, blacks etc. As Jews are a very small minority, the chances are slim that his feelings are based on personal grudges; that leaves us with the overwhelming majority of racist-based antisemitism. If he is an antisemit, he will normally swallow the bait and rant about these dirty foreigners etc.
    etc. Then I am pretty sure that he doesn’t care a damn about the Palestinensians if they weren’t accidentally victims of Israelis. And yes, I agree, it happens much more than I like to admit.

    If he does NOT, he is likely not an antisemit. Mostly he is either pretty far left and very critical of both USA and Israel or he is very concerned about the prolonged conflict and wishes that it ends because

    - he/she is humanitarian (AI, Red Cross)
    - he/she is deeply concerned that the increasing hatred
    on both sides is making peace more and more impossible.
    - it harms the reputation of the Western world and
    alienates us further and further from the Arabic
    World (Yes, Israel is counted as belonging to the West
    in Europe).

    I want to add that the stance of “anti-COUNTRYXism is anti-CITIZENXism” is a rhetorical device often abused by politicians, especially current governments. Instead of addressing the concerns, it is easy to shift the blame to
    personal antagonism. Anytime I hear about a break-out of “antiCOUNTRYXism” I am pretty certain that the politicians have been caught to plan or do nasty things and like to avoid confrontation.

  30. #30 Ian H Spedding FCD
    October 11, 2007

    Neil wrote:

    On the other question. Is Israel the least bad country in the ME? Probably. So what? I don’t see why I have to pick a ME country and support it.

    You don’t. Yet.

    But suppose Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and the Palestinians launched a co-ordinated attack on Israel, would you just say: “Oh, they’re all as bad as each other. Leave them to it.”?

    Unlikely? Maybe. But it’s the Arab states that want to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth, not the other way round.

    The “better than Syria” line is very faint praise. In any case, the very fact that Israel is a semi-democracy is a reason to criticise it: we rightly hold democracies to higher standards (partly because there’s a point in criticising democracies).

    Why? Why hold democracies to higher standards? Why not hold all states to the same high standards? The alternative is what they call ‘double standards’, isn’t it? Aren’t they supposed to be a Bad Thing?

    Were US support for Israel to drop dramatically, there is a realistic chance of a peace settlement,…

    You are joking, aren’t you? Israel’s enemies would be on her like a pack of wolves given half a chance.

    As someone else pointed out, if the Arab States disarmed, there would be peace in the Middle East, if Israel disarmed unilaterally, there’s a good chance of another Holocaust.

    And you can bet that the rest of the world would stand around tut-tutting and twittering about how awful it was and doing sweet FA until it was far too late.

  31. #31 Neil
    October 12, 2007

    This is my last post on this topic. I don’t usually engage in these exchanges b/c political postings usually consist in half the people saying “this post is exactly right” and the other half saying “this is wrong and in addition the poster is stupid and evil”. Nothing is gained by anyone. Let me just make two points. First, it makes sense to hold democracies to higher standards because they are vulnerable to the charge of hypocrisy, and because moral pressure has a chance of working on them. Second (and I can’t believe I need to say this) Israel is a military superpower. Obviously it couldn’t sustain this without American support. But being a military superpower is a property that tends to persist. If the US withdrew all support for Israel tomorrow than Israel would have window of opportunity, between the withdrawal of support and the winding down of military capacity, to negotiate a settlement. Why you think that US withdrawing support = Israel’s disarming I don’t know. I guess because no one (and that probably includes me!) can debate these issues at all rationally.

  32. #32 Caledonian
    October 12, 2007

    As someone else pointed out, if the Arab States disarmed, there would be peace in the Middle East, if Israel disarmed unilaterally, there’s a good chance of another Holocaust.

    And you can bet that the rest of the world would stand around tut-tutting and twittering about how awful it was and doing sweet FA until it was far too late.

    Maybe, just maybe, the Zionists should have taken that into consideration before settling in the midst of hostile Arab nations? If the goal was to prevent Holocausts, they did a terribly poor job of it.

  33. #33 John S. Wilkins
    October 12, 2007

    Caledonian, that’s both stupid and historically naive. Jews had very few choices at the end of the second world war, and were routinely rejected from many countries. There had been a (legitimately acting) Zionist movement in Palestine for some time prior to the war, and initially there was little opposition from the local Arabs, until partition was mooted. Then the local Arab countries decided to play domestic politics by demonising the new Jewish state.

    In any case, that is now ancient history. In the modern world, Israel is as much a legitimate state as any other (including, I would say, Palestine). And sovereign states have a right to defend themselves against invasion (no matter what you might think of their leaders or policies). Like Iraq…

  34. #34 johannes
    October 12, 2007

    > I beg to differ. Palestine elected a democratic
    > government in an election

    An election alone doesn’t make a democracy, and a goverment isn’t democratic just because it had been elected.

  35. #35 Brandon
    October 13, 2007

    Just ignore Caledonian. He’s either a troll or a nutcase, and he has an amazing ability to ruin any conversation. In the past, he’s claimed Isaac Newton wasn’t a “real” scientist, said he doesn’t share values of freedom and tolerance, and compared the religious to Nazis. Ignore him and hopefully he’ll go away.

    My personal opinion is that the existence of Israel is a core part of the Jewish identity, up there with, “Jesus died for our sins.” You can criticize Israel’s actions all you want, but if you tell me that Israel doesn’t deserve to exist, then I will call you an anti-Semite. And if you tell me that the people of Israel deserved these problems by walking into them, well, please don’t become a rape victim counselor.