Posts Tagged ‘Barak Obama’

INSULT TO HUMANITY

David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, offers fascinating insights into the workings of the human mind in his book, The Social Animal. Brooks points to how we often judge people in milliseconds based on stimuli recognized only the subconscious. I had that experienced with a recent photo in the San Francisco Chronicle.

I immediately responded to the face of a man distorted by emotion—not so much anger as hatred. I knew who he was, where he was and what he was feeling. What I read confirmed what a glance told me. The man was an Iranian at a rally in Tehran protesting the existence of Israel.

We know the background. Iran has opposed Israel ever since the revolution of 1979 created a religious-dominated government. It has bankrolled and trained terrorists. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and most of the world believe that Iran seeks nuclear weapons—a charge Iran denies. Israel has declared its right to a conduct a preemptive attack to deter an existential threat. President Obama has stated that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons; American military action remains an option. Mitt Romney offers no disagreement. Tehran responds that it will target American military bases and ships in the Persian Gulf—and Israel, of course—should Israel and the West attack its nuclear facilities.

Geopolitics? And then some! But the face of the man in the photo did not reflect the age-old competition for land and resources. It displayed much more. Here’s why…

Last Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad bellowed, “The existence of the Zionist regime is an insult to all humanity.” Opposing Israel’s existence is justified to “protect the dignity of all human beings.” Ahmadinejad, who denies the Holocaust—which tells you something—called Israel “a corrupt, anti-human organized minority group standing up to all divine values.” Iran’s Grand Ayatollah and Supreme Leader—the latter term also tells you something—Ali Khamenei has called Israel a “cancerous tumor” that must be eliminated. Also last week, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah boasted from Lebanon that precision-guided rockets could kill tens of thousands of Israelis. Military targets? No concern. Human beings? Let the slaughter begin.

So what’s the point? The very existence of a Jewish state on land Muslims once conquered offends God and brooks no toleration, no compromise.

Yes, Jews can hate, too. A few days ago, Jewish teens in Jerusalem engaged in several attacks on Arabs. One involved a severe beating. But here’s the difference: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately stated, “We are not prepared to tolerate racism in Israel.” President Shimon Peres declared, “I am full of shame and outrage… This is an intolerable incident of violence that we must uproot from our midst.” The vast majority of Israelis and Jews worldwide echoed their sentiments.

When Jews practice such hatred, they defame Judaism. Israel and the world Jewish community marginalizes them and justly so. Yet governmental and institutional hatred as expressed by Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and others draws wide acceptance—or at best apathy—in the Muslim world. It often attains smug agreement in much of the rest of the world, too.

And it makes quite clear just who is insulting humanity.

Responding is simple. Click on “comments” above then go to the bottom of the article.

Read the first 2-1/2 chapters of SLICK! at davidperlstein.com. Which, by the way, received a great review and coveted Star as “a book of remarkable merit” from Kirkus Reviews. To purchase a signed copy, email me at dhperl@yahoo.com. SLICK! also is now available at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com and bn.com.

INVISIBLE

What if you looked in a mirror but couldn’t see yourself? That’s standard for Dracula. Also for Jews. We’re recognizable as one of the nation’s most accomplished ethnic groups and yet so easy to overlook. Three recent experiences illustrate what I mean.

The April 9 issue of Newsweek featured a cover-story headline bristling with imperatives (italics mine): “Forget the Church: Follow Jesus.” Inside, the article’s headline started with a more journalistic approach: “The Forgotten Jesus.” Cool. I love reading about religion. The subhead continued: “Christianity has been destroyed by politics, priests, and get-rich evangelists.” There’s a point of view here. Okay. But then comes another imperative: “Ignore them, writes Andrew Sullivan, and embrace Him.” Who, me?

Sullivan told readers, “Christianity itself is in a crisis” and delineated where it has gone wrong. Many evangelical leaders, he stated, have hijacked Jesus for their own purposes. Interesting. But Sullivan didn’t cite Catholic or Protestant leaders or academics. He was his own source (with help from Thomas Jefferson, who rejected most of the wording in the Christian Bible).

Suddenly, Newsweek wasn’t reporting on religion. Instead, it provided a soapbox for a preacher with no clue I subscribe. Sullivan revealed, “I’ve pondered the Incarnation my whole life. I’ve read theology and history. I think I grasp what it means to be both God and human—but I don’t think my understanding is any richer than my Irish grandmother’s.” I’ve read theology and history—and I have no clue how anyone could be both God and human. But I’m a Jew. So I guess Newsweek screwed up and sent me its Christian edition—unless the magazine is now a blog. Perhaps in late May—at Shavuot, marking the giving of the Torah at Sinai—I’ll see a cover head reading, “Forget Your Rabbi: Follow Moses.” But I doubt it will roll out nationally.

Ross Douthat also had something important to say in his April 7 column in The New York Times. In “Divided by God,” he referred to the varied theologies of Barak Obama, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, writing, “These divergences reflect America as it actually is: We’re neither traditionally Christian nor straightforwardly secular. Instead, we’re a nation of heretics in which most people still associate themselves with Christianity but revise its doctrines as they see fit, and nobody can agree on even the most basic definitions of what Christian faith should mean.” I don’t propose that Ross Douthat has it in for Jews. But we’re just not in the conversation. America remains a “Christian nation.”

Finally, Carolyn and I shopped at the Marina Safeway. The last two items scanned by our smiling checker were Passover matzoh and Shabbat candles. He handed Carolyn the receipt and wished us both, “Happy Easter.”

At least the cartoonist Hilary B. Price (Jewish) offered a Passover-themed strip in Tuesday’s San Francisco Chronicle. The media mention for the week. And Wednesday night, when we declined bread at the Clement Street Bar & Grill, our waitress, Baseball Mary, asked if we’d like matzoh then brought us some.

This morning, I thought I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror. But I suspect I’m delusional.

Responding is simple. Click on “comments” above then go to the bottom of the article.

Read the first 2-1/2 chapters of SLICK! at davidperlstein.com. Which, by the way, received a great review and coveted Star as “a book of remarkable merit” from Kirkus Reviews. To purchase a signed copy, email me at dhperl@yahoo.com. SLICK! also is now available at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com and bn.com.