Monday, March 7, 2016

The Purim Massacre

(A re-post from a few years ago)

Download this as a PDF here

In the victorious conclusion of Megillat Esther, we find that after Haman’s decree against the Jewish People is revoked, and they are spared from destruction, they do not leave matters at that. Instead, having obtained royal permission to strike their enemies, including women and children, the Jews kill over seventy-five thousand people! Esther then further seeks permission for another day of massacre.

This episode provided excellent fodder for Christian antisemitic sentiments. The nineteenth-century German biblical scholar Friedrich Bleek concluded that “We may, therefore, with truth, maintain that a very narrow-minded and Jewish spirit of revenge and persecution prevails in the book, and that no other book of the Old Testament is so far removed as this is from the spirit of the Gospel.”[1] Over in America, the leading church pastor Washington Gladden described it as “a fiendish outbreak of fanatical cruelty… The fact that the story was told, and that it gained great popularity among the Jews, and by some of those in later ages came to be regarded as one of the most sacred books of their canon is, however, a revelation to us of the extent to which the most baleful and horrible passions may be cherished in the name of religion… Let it remain as a dark background on which the Christian morality may stand forth resplendent; as a striking example of the kind of ideas which Christians ought not to entertain, and of the kind of feelings which they ought not to cherish.”[2] Countless other such expressions of disgust by Christian scholars have been documented by Elliott Horowitz.[3]

However, if we carefully study the account in the Book of Esther and consider the situation, a very different picture emerges. Let us first examine the crucial verse in which the Jews are granted license for the massacre:
By these the king authorized the Jews who were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to annihilate, any armed force of any people or province that would attack them, little children and women, and to plunder their goods (Esther 8:11)
There are several significant points to be noted here. One is that they were being given permission to attack those that might attack them. Contrary to Bleek’s description of the massacre being an act of revenge, it is presented instead as precautionary self-defense. Rabbi Mordechai Ventura notes that “these people that they killed in Shushan were haters of Israel, who would always tell the Jewish People that they were going to kill them and smite their young.”[4] In other words, while there was a reprieve from Haman’s plan, there was no guarantee that such a danger would not arise again. There was an ever-present danger of antisemites gaining permission to engage in wanton slaughter of Jews. Had Haman’s decree not been rescinded, there is no doubt that these antisemites would have gladly taken the opportunity to slaughter all the Jews! Since the Jews were given a unique chance to attack their enemies, it was appropriate to take the opportunity to kill those people who would undoubtedly take the opportunity to kill them if such an opportunity would ever arise.

Furthermore, it may even be the case that this was the only way to actually rescind the decree – in 8:3 Achashverosh points that an edict sealed with the king’s signet ring may not be revoked. Thus, Haman’s decree could not be revoked, only circumvented – by authorizing the advance killing of those who would fulfill Haman’s decree.

What about with regard to the women and children? There are several possibilities to be considered here. One is that we should not make the mistake of judging actions of millennia ago by the moral barometers of today. In times of old, women and children were always considered to be extensions of the husband. This was not some Jewish innovation; it was the standard model in the ancient world. And it was not only the perception of reality; it was reality, as women were far less independent. Killing your enemies did not mean the adult males; it always included their families. While this answer may not be emotionally satisfactory from a contemporary perspective, it cannot be ruled out. But there are alternatives.

Another approach is that this case may be considered not as a battle between two groups of individuals, but rather as one between two nations: Jews and Amalekites (using the term Amalekite not in the technical sense of someone genetically descended from the tribe of Amalek, but instead in the sense of someone fundamentally identifying with a certain worldview of Judeopathy (pathological hatred of Jews) which is Alan Dershowitz’s preferred term for antisemitism.[5]) It is safe to assume that the families of these men who would have killed the Jews were themselves quite supportive of this ideology. And even those children too young to form an opinion, are part of the same social group. It is thus no different from the Torah’s instruction to wipe out the nations of Amalek and the Seven Nations of Canaan. Maharal uses the notion of “war between nations” to justify Shimon and Levi’s slaughter of the community of Shechem.[6] That justification is disputed by many, since Shechem was a single individual. But in this case, where we are talking about the family members of a group united in a single cause, there is more justification for seeing it as a war between two peoples.

Paul Haupt argues that the permission to kill women and children was only applicable to those women and children that desired to attack the Jews.[7] It does not seem especially likely, however, that children (the word probably describes very young children) could have posed a serious threat.

Robert Gordis presents an extraordinarily original interpretation of the verses, according to which the Jews did not take on the task of killing the women and children and were never instructed to do so. He explains the phrase “women and children” as referring to the Jewish women and children that the enemies of the Jews wished to kill, reading the verse as follows: “the king authorized the Jews… to destroy, to slay, and to annihilate, any armed force of any people or province that would attack them, their children and women, and that would plunder their goods.”[8] Whether this is a linguistically sound interpretation is unclear.

Another proposal is that the license to kill women and children has to be considered in light of the fact that it mirrors the original edict by Haman:
And the letters were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. (Esther 3:13)
This is taken by some to mean that it was considered a legitimately symmetrical counter-response to the original decree, according to ancient norms;[9] but it may instead mean that Mordechai, who composed the new decree, wished to publicize a strong deterrence for the Jews’ enemies and to highlight the measure-for-measure reversal that had transpired.[10] Along these lines, it is pointed out by some that is that even though the killing of the women and children was authorized, it is by no means clear that it actually took place. Rabbi David Nativ argues that the only mention of it is in the decree that authorized this action. Yet in that same decree, it states that the Jews were permitted to plunder the spoils. Now, the Book of Esther attests that this did not happen:
For the Jews who were in Shushan also gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and slew three hundred men at Shushan; but they did not lay their hand on the plunder. But the other Jews who were in the king's provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy five thousand, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder. (Esther 9:15-16)

We thus see that the Jews did not take advantage of everything that Achashverosh authorized. There is thus no evidence that the Jews actually did kill the women and children; all that Scripture attests to is that they killed their enemies.
Furthermore, the fact that the Jews did not plunder the spoils indicates that they did not see this as an ordinary battle of survival. Instead, they apparently perceived it as strictly self-defense and that they should not exceed this mandate. Thus, there is a case to be made for saying that they did not kill the women and children.[11]

NOTES

[1] Bleek, Introduction to the Old Testament, vol. 1 p. 450.
[2] Gladden, Who Wrote The Bible, p. 164.
[3] Horowitz, Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence: pp. 23-45.
[4] Ventura, Patshegen HaKetav to Esther 9:16.
[5] Dershowitz, Chutzpah, p. 121.
[6] Maharal, Gur Aryeh to Genesis 34:13.
[7] Haupt, “Critical Notes on the Book of Esther,” p. 63.
[8] Gordis, “Studies in the Esther Narrative,” p. 52.
[9] Levenson, Esther: A Commentary, p. 110-111.
[10] Moore, Esther, p. 83.
[11] Nativ, “The Historical Framework of Megillat Esther.” A similar explanation is provided by Rabbi Yonatan Grossman, “Indiscriminate Slaughter?” On the other hand, the fact that Scripture highlights the fact that they did not touch the spoils but makes no such mentioning of them not harming the women and children, may indicate that they did kill them.

Bibliography
Bleek, Friedrich. Introduction to the Old Testament, English translation by G.H. Venables, (London: Bell and Daldy 1869)
Dershowitz, Alan. Chutzpah (New York: Touchstone Books, 1992)
Gladden,Washington. Who Wrote The Bible (Kessinger Publishing 2003)
Gordis, Robert. “Studies in the Esther Narrative,” Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 95, No. 1 (Mar., 1976), pp. 43-58
Grossman, Rabbi Yonatan. “Indiscriminate Slaughter?” Translated by Karen Fish, accessed online at http://www.vbm-torah.org/archive/ester/22ester.htm
Haupt, Paul. “Critical Notes on the Book of Esther,” The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Jan., 1908), pp. 97-186
Horowitz, Elliott S. Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence (Princeton University Press, 2006)
Levenson, Jon D. Esther: A Commentary (Westminster John Knox Press 1997)
Moore, Carey A. Esther (Garden City, New York: Anchor Bible/ Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1971)
Nativ, Rabbi David. “The Historical Framework of Megillat Esther,” lecture at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Adar 5752 [1992], accessed online at www.vbm-torah.org/purim/­pur60-dn.htm
Ventura, Rabbi Mordechai. Patshegen HaKetav, in Mikraot Gedolot Urim Gedolim (Jerusalem: Even Yisrael Institute 1999)

108 comments:

  1. Fascinating post. I do have a larger question, though. Even if you look at the end of Esther as a war of self-defense, which seems pretty clear, how do you address the command to wipe out the seven tribes and the original tribe of Amalek? Is it possible for a nation to have an essence that is evil? And, on that topic, how do you see "chukim" in general, where we are told the rationale is beyond us? Is there any way to address this rationally, or is this the line where you must make that leap of faith essential to all religion?

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  2. re: killing women and children...you effectively say that murdering the household of the man was simply done back in those days. Then you say "While this answer may not be emotionally satisfactory from a contemporary perspective, it cannot be ruled out."

    I would love to hear you epand on this further. Should not the morality in the Torah be everlasting? How can those actions EVER be considered moral or appropriate, or allowed or COMANDED?!?!

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  3. I see no moral problem with symmetrically dishing out to our enemies in accordance with what they wish to dish out to us.

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  4. I read a p’shat somewhere (Ibn Ezra or Malbim, I think) that this was a face-saving measure by Achashverosh. He could claim that he had Haman executed “על אשר־שלח ידו ביהודיים”—i.e. claiming that Haman had altered the king’s edict and that this version was supposed to have been the original decree. This necessarily requires that the language be the same, except for the “detail” of who was being allowed to kill whom.

    And, as you noted, there is no indication that the Jews targeted women and children. (Although, since the text makes a point of “ובבזה לא שלחו את־ידם” and does not make a similarl claim regarding women & children, I would guess that at least some were killed.)

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  5. how do you address the command to wipe out the seven tribes and the original tribe of Amalek?

    That will have to be a topic for a future post.

    Is it possible for a nation to have an essence that is evil?

    It's not necessarily related to a notion of their having an "evil essence." I don't think Rambam viewed it that way.

    And, on that topic, how do you see "chukim" in general, where we are told the rationale is beyond us? Is there any way to address this rationally, or is this the line where you must make that leap of faith essential to all religion?

    Once you accept the existence of God, it's not a leap of faith to observe a chok, just like we obey medical instructions from a doctor even though we don't understand them. But in any case, acc. to Rambam, chukkim are not incomprehensible. See my post on this at http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2009/07/rambam-on-reasons-for-mitzvos.html

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  6. I'm with HaRazielli.

    The idea is that nations are collectively responsible. Some people nowadays think dropping the atom bomb during WWII was wrong, but to most people alive back then, it was obvious that there was a war between the American and Japanese peoples -- as collectives. It wasn't the army of America against the army of Japan and Germany, but rather America vs. Japan and Germany.

    The idea of collective guilt and reward and punishment is all over Tanach. Hashem often deals with people as members of larger units rather than individuals.

    (Even in our own interactions with other human beings, people often gain or suffer depending on what group or family they belong to.)

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  7. Rav Slifkin,

    I would draw your attention to a Dvar Torah by Menachem Liebtag (http://www.tanach.org/shmot/bshal2.htm) were he argues that the specific crime of Amalek was that they attacked the women and children, the sick and the infirm. Their very underhanded act of attacking those least able to defend themselves was what rendered them as not haing "yirat Elokim".

    One explanation for the wording of the Mordechai's letters was that they were intended to as faithfully as possible mimic Haman's original letters.

    Yossi

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  8. I think the fact that the verse says they did not lay hand on the spoils, but does not say that they did not kill the women and children, implies that in fact they did kill them.

    Personally, I always saw that the natural tendancy to not want to hurt women and children was a means to force restraint on those who might want to go to war. As in, if you go to war, remember that you will have the blood of innocent children on your hands, and not killing them isn't an option.

    A large part of me feels guilty for seeing strong parallels between this aspect of purim and recent events.

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  9. Should not the morality in the Torah be everlasting?

    Maybe we shouldn't impose our idea of morality on Torah. Perhaps it's teaching us that contrary to what you think, it is, in fact, NOT wrong to wipe out all of them down to the last infant. It's not "moral" either to allow the goel hadam to kill the killer of his relative, but it is allowed in halacha.

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  10. TO: Harazielli and Yehudah.

    I am sorry but you couldn’t be more wrong.

    Killing, even when justified, damages the killer. And in addition murdering innocent children is NEVER justified.

    Golda Meir said it addressing the Arabs(I don’t remember the exact wording, )

    We despise you, not so much because you kill our sons, but because you force us to make our sons kill you.

    BTW, do you also think the Geneva Convention (in its principles, at least) is foolish??

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  11. "BTW, do you also think the Geneva Convention (in its principles, at least) is foolish??"

    Are you asking if the geneva convention is foolish, or are you asking if it is foolish to follow the laws of the geneva convention while your enemies do not?

    As we saw in the war on Terror, the United states tries to argue that the Geneva convention "does not apply"

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  12. I was asking as a general principle, do these people believe that there is such a thing as morality in war.

    As for the GC itself, it likely can use some modifications.

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  13. Should not the morality in the Torah be everlasting?

    It is everlasting, but not its practical applications. That evolves in the spirit of Torah and human civilization.

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  14. All interesting points you are raising.

    Please elaborate on the linguistics of Robert Gordis

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  15. Btw - this post is a blueprint for why we lose to the arabs and the model we should be following in order to defeat them. Look at some of your answers in regards to reciprocity. In those days Jews (or at least Jewish generals?) Knew how to fight and win.

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  16. I have no moral qualm with the concept that one does to one's collective enemies what they would like to do to you.

    I love Purim!

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  17. In those days Jews (or at least Jewish generals?) Knew how to fight and win


    Yeap. This is why they were in exile and needed a miracle to save them.

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  18. HaRazieli, you don't have a problem with Ester being taken by Ahashverosh? All you see is the great victory? Student V, how about you? No feeling of national shame here? Wait! Are you actually celebrating the killing of the 75,000? What are you people celebrating?

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  19. "A large part of me feels guilty for seeing strong parallels between this aspect of purim and recent events. "

    I hope it doesn't discourage you if I commend your seeking consistency in your various beliefs.

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  20. "I hope it doesn't discourage you if I commend your seeking consistency in your various beliefs.

    March 17, 2011 4:01 AM
    "

    Would you say the same if I felt guilty because I'm not organizing a group of people to walk into PA controlled territories carrying large signs that says Israel is a Jewish Democracy and killing anyone who attacks us?

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  21. Elemir-Regarding the Geneva Conventions-since when are we required to tailor our morality to international conventions with which we may or may not agree with?

    Also, killing in and of itself is either moral or immoral depending on the context within which the killing takes place. When faced with a genocidal enemy-killing their civilians even in a pre-meditated fashion is not immoral.

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  22. ' When faced with a genocidal enemy-killing their civilians even in a pre-meditated fashion is not immoral.'

    So everybody becomes genocidal and we degenerate to the level of Liberia or Siera Leone? No Geneva Convention, no international law, no universal human rights just kol haalim gvar! Is this your own thinking or do you think this was G-d intend when he created the world?

    Here is food for thought for genocide enthusiasts and Purim generals. Hitler believed that his attack on the USSR was a preventive strike against an enemy bend on invading and destroying Germany. Had he treated the civilian population in compliance with the GC he might have won. Instead, he turned the whole population of the USSR and the world against Germany. Now compare this to the Israeli preventive strike in the Six Day war. The moral superiority is striking.

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    1. Under the group of treaties that are commonly called "the Geneva Convention", in certain circumstance, the deliberate killing of civilians is not only allowed, but encouraged.

      Also, as a historical note, the USSR was getting ready to attack Nazi Germany when Hitler ordered his own forces to assault.... Further, no matter how the Nazis had treated the Soviets, there would have been the same amount of resistance from the Soviets due to Stalin's orders.


      Also, as a personal note, I think the concept of "international law" is idiotic in the extreme. Laws are made by nations, for nations. Until God reveals himself to the entirety of humanity, and says "These are the boundaries which nations should not cross" there will be no such thing.

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  23. I think there is a tremendous irony that people who are attracted to a blog that aims for rational thought, suddenly lose the ability to think of things from outside of their perspective. Would Harazieli be ok with an Arab saying they have killed our kids so we will kill theres? Of course not, he would call it barbarism, as people did with what happened in Itamar? Is morality a one way street? Are you really willing to kill the enemy's babies or would you ust put that on those in tzahal as you pontificate on the net? The worst part is that you hide behind a name when you make these gross comments.

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  24. Carol, what you said made no sense. The jews were victorious in the Purim story. Everyone will always say it's a miracle when we win a war/battle. And at that time they had already been granted permission to return to eretz yisrael. However their status (exile or not) is besides the point. The purim story as told in the megilla represents sound military strategy which present day so called leaders of Israel cannot comprehend or even approach because of their idolatrous allegiance to a purity of arms doctrine they artificially created by themselves. They would not know sound strategy for VICTORY if it hit them in the head, and here are some basic priniciples outlined in our people's holy texts which no one bothers to pay any attention to.

    Are you claiming that in today's conflicts we don't need any miracles to help us? Could have fooled me since we keep losing and getting terrorized.

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    1. I would rather rely on military and politcal strategy that leads to victory, and occasionally be surprised and grateful for a miracle, than rely on a miracle and watch the wailing of mothers when jewish armies are surrounded and destroyed.

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  25. As to your other question, you're going to have to be more specific because I'm not sure if you were asking me the same question you asked razieli or something else. Am I ashamed of what exactly? The purim holiday? - no its something we have always celebrated. What are you asking?

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  26. Carol, if you are wondering why some of your comments aren't getting posted, please e-mail me and I will tell you.

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  27. Student V said:
    'The purim story as told in the megilla represents sound military strategy which present day so called leaders of Israel cannot comprehend or even approach because of their idolatrous allegiance to a purity of arms doctrine they artificially created by themselves.'

    Please spell out this strategy before I respond. Thank you.

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  28. >>>>> since when are we required to tailor our morality to international conventions with which we may or may not agree with?

    I wasn’t saying to adopt the GC verbatim. I was talking about its principles about morality in war.

    And, yes Judaism does adopt and adapt morality (if we see good in it) from the rest of the world, as much as many deny this.

    On the other hand, please note and accept this fact. That we DO NOT have our current morality from the Torah, we have it mostly from Chazal, with additional modifications over time.

    Chazal (consciously or not) found the Torah a bit too brutal and changed it.

    They indirectly abrogated the law of killing Amalek and killing the 7 nations. They said (except for a minority opinion) that the ben sore u’morer never happened and never will. the death penalty, in general, was done away with by making it impossible to implement, and likely will never be re-instated even if we had a sanhedrin.
    Similarly, for slavery.

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  29. Student V said:
    'Carol, what you said made no sense. The jews were victorious in the Purim story. Everyone will always say it's a miracle when we win a war/battle.'

    Not everyone. Neither Rambam, nor Satmar(kidding), nor I would say it. The king ALLOWED the Jews to defend themselves and attack their enemies after the decree of destruction had been annulled. Prior to the annulment the Jews were helpless. Where is the military miracle and why do you need one?

    The fact that Esther was taken by Ahashverosh should sadden every heart. What it illustrates is the duality of ANY war. Both sides suffer and in my mind 75,000 dead amalekites or whoever will not compensate for the suffering of Esther. Secular Western culture thinks in these terms and this is good. This is why it tries to resolve issues by compromise rather than conflict. This one of the secondary themes of Purim.

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  30. Carol you wrote: "where is the military miracle and why do you need one"

    Now you've really got me confused. I have no idea what you are saying. My original point had nothing to do with miracles- it was you who brought that up and I responded. Traditionally the Purim story is considered miraculous. You deny that?

    Originally my point was a simple one. All of the points Rabbi slifkin brings up to make sense of certain verses in the megilla point to a sound military strategy that much to our detriment, the modern jewish generals have abandoned for the sake of politicial correctness and geneva handcuffs (or their own purity of arms handcuffs). The reconciliations Rabbi Slifkin suggested make sense in light of a policy of RECIPROCITY - what the enmy does to us we are willing to do whatever is needed to counteract and stop them. Otherwise, his suggested explanations of the verses don't make it any better, if you hold that a brutal enemy cannot be dealt with in a brutal manner!

    In the purim story they did what was necessary to WIN - not just to appear western or cosmopolitan or "impressively" xtian, God forbid.

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  31. Student V, I apologies. I was wondering myself how your comments the way I understood them were completely out of you character. Let's see if I understand correctly now. You are saying that the sound military strategy that we learn from Megilah is to do whatever is necessary to win. Correct? I agree but within the framework of civilized warfare as defined by the international law to the maximum extend possible. Brutality doesn't bring lasting victory. They had rules of warfare in those days as well. Josephus relates that pouring boiling oil on besieging troops was against the accepted norms of warfare. Jews practiced it out of desperation in their war with Rome and suffered the consequences.

    As far as measured Israeli response is concerned, Israel doesn't believe that there is a military solution to the conflict. Sooner or latter a deal will have to be made, hence the measured response.

    Lemmase, after the attack in Itamar what more should be done then finding and punishing the terrorist and his accomplices?

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  32. "Lemmase, after the attack in Itamar what more should be done then finding and punishing the terrorist and his accomplices?"

    First off, Israel can demand that the PA stop inciting hatred in their media and textbooks, or there is no more peace negotiation.

    That would be a good start. It's time to stop letting them get away with things which we know they have the power to change. If its true that everyone sees itamar as bad, then the P.A. can use that to change the textbooks and media.

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  33. "Would you say the same if I felt guilty because I'm not organizing a group of people to walk into PA controlled territories carrying large signs that says Israel is a Jewish Democracy and killing anyone who attacks us?"

    I commended an attempt at consistency between your various beliefs, not between your beliefs and actions.

    As it happens, I would generally agree that consistency between belief and action is also good. There are, however, certain racists for whom I would not recommend such a practice.

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  34. I have no doubt that Hazal did interpret misswoth in a way which adapts somewhat to changing moral sensibilites. But, that type of interpretive license would only happen as a result of considering what correct moral sensibilities acutally are within the context of a wholesome Torah view which takes into account Torah principles as a whole.

    When dealing with a genocidal enemy population there is no reason to think that Hazal, had they been living today, would feel that correct moral sensibilities should limit the scope of our reprisals against civilian populations.

    Having said that I don't think that what is called for in response to the Itamar terrorist attack is to round up and kill Arab babies. What is called for is reprisals against the general civilian population which incidentally result in the death of many babies.

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  35. HaRazieli,

    AgainI ask whether you will bedoing thekilling or whether your desire for bloodonly applies for others to do the work. When are you signing up for Tzahal? Also, would you have been ok with Arabs doing the same after Baruch Goldstein's murders?

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  36. Harazieli said:

    'What is called for is reprisals against the general civilian population which incidentally result in the death of many babies.'

    These are war crimes and will result in Israel's defeat and possible destruction. If UN can impose a no-fly zone over Lybia then can do the same over Israel.

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  37. Pesach,

    I would not advocate Arab reprisals against us after Baruch Goldstein's action since they are the bad guys\aggressors. I would recommend that any Arabs who wish to dissociate themselves from the morally rotten Palestinian national cause do so in an open manner such as allows us to embrace them as allies of the Jewish nation.

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  38. HaRazieli,

    You are commenting on a blog of rationalism a statement like :they are the agressors" does not belong here. Baruch Goldstein is an agressor. There are times when Jews in the shtachim are agressors. To suggest otherwise is absurd.

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  39. Carol, your latest comments really make you sound like you are paralyzed by fear. We do not have to obey the UN or "international community." Israel in its past HAS defied them all and defied the US, and it did not cause armageddon. In fact, it brought great victory. We do not have to cower in fear because the world hates us. Now is the time for self respect.

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  40. Nothing will happen to Israel no matter what the US does or says. They can certainly try bombing Israel, but Hashem will stop the bombs in mid-air. Of this we are confident, because we are Jews, and for no other reason.

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  41. Pesach,

    In this conflict Arabs are indeed the aggressors and anything Jews do in response is just that.

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  42. "Mike" aka poshuter,

    What you said is insane. Bombs will not be stopped in midair and we would be stupid to believe that. On the other hand , it is not rational to believe that the US would bomb Israel for defending itself or being a little harsher w srabs than obama would like! People suggesting this clearly live with an irrational fear of the goyim and a ghetto-mentality which is incapable of evaluating facts.

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  43. Student V said:
    'Carol, your latest comments really make you sound like you are paralyzed by fear. We do not have to obey the UN or "international community." Israel in its past HAS defied them all and defied the US, and it did not cause armageddon.'

    Israel has never engaged in atrocities against the civilian population or acts of genocide. This is what being advocated by you, razieli and some other people on this thread. I am completly against it. It's morally wrong, against Israel's own interest and will benefit her enemies. I am not against military actions, but I am leaving that for the generals who are the experts. Self-respect, you say? War crimes are not the way to aquire it. Chazal tell us in Pirkei Avos: 'Eize hu mechubad? Haqmechabed es habrios!'. 'Brios' includes everyone.

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  44. Carol,

    Your citation of "eizehu mechubad" is completely warped. Yes, we should generally respect our fellow Jews and humanity. But, not those who are our enemies-and yes, the Palestinians are indeed our enemies.

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  45. Razieli and all the brave warriors out there, enemies or not they don't lose their human rights or protection of the law in our civilization. I simply gave a contemporary explanation to the Mishna in the spirit of our times. And this is how I learn it and teach it. How many times do I have to say that I am not against legitimate military response?

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  46. Your explanation of the Mishna is not a reasonable interpretation. What is called for is not identifying with the "spirit of the times" but rather the true spirit of the Torah which demands that enemy populations be treated harshly until surrender or expulsion.

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  47. No. The enlightened nations of the world agreed on civilized rules of warfare. Israel is supposed to be the light to the nations in ethics and morality. If you consider that it's a country surrounded by enemies that has been at war for over 60 years, it occupies a unique place due to its awesome achievements in every area and especially in the area of democracy, freedom and human rights. Treating the enemy population in a way that violates the GC and international law will destroy this achievement. This is what our enemies want and it will not help us win, but will add a powerful weapon to their arsenal. Just look at the modern world - brutality doesn't work. If you don't see the moral problem consider the practical aspect. Torah doesn't want Israel to be a pariah state. Again from Pirkei Avois: 'Eisehu hacham? Haroeh es hanolad.'

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  48. Unless our definitions of genocide differ, I don't believe I advocated what you say I advocated, Carol. So can I ask why you are putting words in my mouth? Or, are you redefining genocide to include anything that tickles the back of ban ki moon's neck? In that case even any small measure of self defense against terrorist hideouts by israel can be called genocide. Yes, those operations are condemned!

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  49. Carol, you say you are not against "any" legitimate military operation, but you define legitimacy by UN Prescriptions! We are not bound to those artificial guidelines which purposefully tilt the advantage toward our enemies. You simply assume that since multiple nations agreed upon it (in writing and theory, notably NOT in action), then its infallible gospel. Razieli and I and other "warriors" simply do not accept these suicidal handcuffs. It doesn't mean we want to go and wantonly kill as many fakestinian children as possible - who would ever want to do something like that?

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  50. Student V, these are your words:

    'Btw - this post is a blueprint for why we lose to the arabs and the model we should be following in order to defeat them. Look at some of your answers in regards to reciprocity. In those days Jews (or at least Jewish generals?) Knew how to fight and win.'

    What war has Israel lost? Aren't you suggesting that reciprocity that is missing is the killing of the civilian population? I never mentioned UN and don't think that Israel is bound by its resolutions. I don't know how to fight wars and leave it to the army. All I oppose is violation of the universal human rights. Yes, Israel is bound by the GC and has won all its wars without violating it. This is Israel's strength and not weakness.

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  51. Student V said:
    ' It doesn't mean we want to go and wantonly kill as many fakestinian children as possible - who would ever want to do something like that?'

    Your fellow warrior Yehuda wants. This is what he said:
    'Hence, I don't care if we are morally "superior" to Arabs or not. In fact, if we killed civilians the way Arabs did, we would be much better off. I, for one, would kill 10,000 Palestinians a week until they unconditionally surrendered.

    My reaction to the murders is not shock and grief. We all know how barbaric the Arabs are. There's nothing shocking about it; it's expected and will happen again. Our reaction should be to kill our enemy, not talk about how barbaric they are. (And our enemy is not a few individual terrorists; it is the Arab population in greater Israel.)'.

    Are you denying it already? What will be your line at Neurenberg?

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  52. Carol, maybe you're missing the point. If you react to my comment, you should be reacting to what I wrote, not what yehuda wrote (or any other shlomo or other warrior). Still I find a problem with what you claimed about yehuda vs what he actually wrote (and you quoted). Why did the word 'civilians' get transformed into 'children' by you carol?

    The distinction you made between the UN and geneva accords is inconsequential to me. I view them the same in principle. The UN claims to be upholding those accords with its condemnations and fulminating. I can't speak for yehuda or anyone else, but can't you see Carol, that there is a difference between purposely rampaging civilians who are clearly unarmed vs. Rejecting a policy which puts the lives of your soldiers in danger in order to protect civilians (even some who are aiding the terrorists or are actually armed)? You cannot see these are different?

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  53. Additional points- being a "light to the world" does not supercede survival. That's number 1.

    Now, In yehuda's defense, since we're on the subject, why if our enemies do not abide by the GC, should we? Wouldn't that be suicidal? Maybe we are a light to the world by following yehuda's formula - then we have shown how the arabs in the mideast understand strength and how they need to be dealt with to decrease hostilities. By example we can show how to react to a group which has no regard for the civility set out by civilized nations. The GC are for mutually abiding nations such as the ones who signed them and regularly observe them. Ever consider that your idea of light to the nations is incorrect? Why is it automatically a model of meekness and weakness rather than a model of strength and survival?

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  54. Student V, said:

    'Still I find a problem with what you claimed about yehuda vs what he actually wrote (and you quoted). Why did the word 'civilians' get transformed into 'children' by you
    carol?'

    And this is what Yehuda wrote:
    'Our reaction should be to kill our enemy, not talk about how barbaric they are. (And our enemy is not a few individual terrorists; it is the Arab population in greater Israel.)'.

    The Arab population in greater Israel includes a fair number of children, no? Or do you think that he intends to send children to the left and the parents to the right? Will you also be playing music? Please...

    Your intentions are good but your ideas are retarded.

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  55. SV, I think I've already answered most of the points in my posts. I want to put this issue to bed. We are friends, ok?

    Kind regards to the warrior tribe.

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  56. SV, I apologize for saying that your ideas are retarded.

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  57. Carol,

    I actually didn't see the "retarded" comment until now. I must have forgotten about this thread after the last comment I left. I accept your apology.

    As to what I was nitpicking wrt Yehuda, it was that there is a difference between children being killed in a military operation not specifically aimed at children, vs literally targeting children (for whatever sick reason). I thought you had implanted the latter onto yehuda's statements when he was actually discussing the former.

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  58. As Parshat Amalek is connected to Purim this is related. On Shabbat, I mentioned to someone that at the time the Torah was given an "Eye for an Eye" may have been literal (Leviticus 24:19-20 seems rather prescriptive), and by the time the Talmud was written it was such an anathema, the original understanding was completely lost to the ages. Our current non-literal interpretation is simply what was recorded a thousand years after Matan Torah. The response I received was that literal Eye for Eye was so barbaric that couldn't accept that it was ever the understood that way.

    My follow up thought (left unsaid) was how can you accept that the Torah commands us to eradicate Amalek completely - men, women, and children, for a crime committed by their ancestors, but a court gouging out an eye of someone who intentionally (let's assume for arguments sake) cruelly did to someone else is too cruel to consider a possibility?

    Of course today we also interpret annihilating Amalek non-literally by considering Amalek an idea and we legitimize the reinterpretation with the fact that Amalek as a people have disappeared. However, there's no doubt in the time of Shaul it was understood literally.

    Suggesting that we acted in many ways like the other nations of a particular time period evoke a lot of cognitive dissonance.

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  59. Thanks for the great post.

    I saw all the discussion from 5 years ago and couldn't resist giving my tuppence worth.

    The first thing to get clear is that absolute morality cannot exist. When I speak about morality I am referring to that which God expects of us.

    The second is that there is a difference between ideals and basic moral standards. There are some things which we are forbidden from doing, and others which we should aim to avoid, but are not strictly speaking forbidden.

    I believe that we are given a mandate to do anything necessary to defend ourselves. This is unchanging, and if really necessary would indeed include genocide.

    Nonetheless we are expected to avoid situations where this is necessary. We do not want to become cold hearted killers.

    In the past this was rarely possible. But now there is more ability to do so, and we should strive to save civilian lives if we can, although not if it means significant risk to Jewish lives.

    Of course this is ignoring pragmatism. It might well be that for political reasons and other aspects of the circumstances we find ourselves in, it is not sensible to use overmuch force. I'll leave the army to work that aspect out.

    One real practical difference this will make is in killing Arab civilians for land. Ignoring the pragmatic side of things, it may well be moral to kill a number of Arab civilians to improve the situation of Jews in the land and aquire more land- indeed we were obligated to wipe out the 7 nations in order to take over Eretz Yisroel. Much as I hope that I'm wrong, we might even be expected to wipe out 3 million Arabs if it was the only sensible way to take back the land. As I've said, I hope this is actually immoral, but my personal feelings can not be sole judge of God's expectations.

    Relating this back to the purim story. It could be that klal yisroel could not have afforded to go lightly on their enemies. Those who refused to wipe out their enemies completely may have been considered weak by other nations and ripe for the picking. They thus had to be cruel. Fortunately the world has since changed and we can afford to be kind to our enemies children.

    Once again thanks foreatgreat post, and solid analysis of important issues in Judaism.

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  60. A possible explanation for the unbalanced death toll is that there were battles all over the empire, mobs of citizens attacking the Jews, and we fought them off every time. We didn't go door to door, killing families, but took on the mobs and annihilated them.

    Anybody else wonder why the name of Hashem is not mentioned, besides the usual explanation?

    Peretz Mann

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  61. Much as I hope that I'm wrong, we might even be expected to wipe out 3 million Arabs if it was the only sensible way to take back the land. As I've said, I hope this is actually immoral, but my personal feelings can not be sole judge of God's expectations.

    This is the reasoning used by murderous dictators and their many helpers throughout history. If we learned anything from the various mass murders of the 20th century, it is that basic morality should not be sacrificed in the name of a higher "ideal".

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    1. On a practical level that is good advice. I was discussing theology and am interested in investigating Jewish thought. I am prepared to make statements that are horrific and damaging, if I feel they are true.

      It is true that most people who advance such claims commit terrible acts. That is irrelevant to the veracity of such acts.

      Similarly most people who claim blacks have less intelligence than writes are racist bigots. But that would not stop me publishing a paper if I performed an experiment proving it true. I would do the same if it proved the opposite.

      I personally do not advocate any such actions. Under present circumstances they are without any doubt immoral, seeing as they are unlikely to achieve their desired aims. Thus we would be murdering an entire population for no reason, an action that is definitely immoral.

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  62. David, who determines "basic morality"? You? And Yavoy, you write, "Fortunately the world has since changed and we can afford to be kind to our enemies children." It depends on your definition of "afford." The parents of terror victims might disagree with you.

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    1. If killing their children would help, I would agree with you. Unfortunately I don't think it will.

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    2. David, who determines "basic morality"? You?

      I'll go with the 90% (conservatively estimated) consensus on the immorality of mass murder, slavery, torture, etc.

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    3. The parents of terror victims might disagree with you.

      There is a reason why, in criminal law, we set forth the definitions of crimes and their maximum punishments in advance, rather than simply asking the victims what they want to do the perpetrators and their families.

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    4. Are we playing a numbers game now? I disagree with your estimations, in any event. In America, I think the percentage opposing "mass murder" in a retaliatory attack is more like 60%, but let's pretend for a second that it were 90%. That number reflects the thinking of 2016. During WWII, 90% of Americans thought that carpet bombing and mass targeting of civilians was supremely moral. Is it your contention that our grandparents were immoral fiends?

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    5. Are we playing a numbers game now?

      No, we're talking about our basic morality which we can override with all kind of justifications. History tells us that this is a very, very bad idea. I mention the numbers to indicate that I'm talking about morality that everyone agrees with but that sometimes gets overtaken by lunacy.

      "Is it your contention that our grandparents were immoral fiends?"

      Morality has evolved for the better. It was once acceptable to conquer the neighboring tribe to take them as slaves. That is no longer the case. So your argument fails.

      As far as "strategic bombing" goes, approval of that, warranted or not at the time, is not the same as approval of the intentional killing of all civilians. "Judges and lawyers live on the slippery slope of analogy. They are not supposed to ski it to the bottom." (Robert Bork)

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  63. This blog touches on a point about Purim that I've pondered for a few years. My simple reading of the text tells me that nothing miraculous occurred, or at least nothing that miraculous AND consequential. As noted above, the Jews obtained next to nothing in terms of political or military favor as a result of the Mordechai's usurpation of power. He and Esther asked the king to cancel his genocide decree. The king said "sorry, can't do that!". Instead, he gave the an alternative. Go out and defend yourselves (albeit preemptively - maybe).

    I wonder what the Jew's would have done otherwise? People and other animals will defend themselves even against a much stronger opponent. That's why the Nazi's always lead the Jews to believe that they have an avenue of salvation down the road.

    So what did the Jews gain from the King's favor? A boost in self-confidence?

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    1. Non-intervention by the authorities? Violence is usually not authorized to non-state actors.

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    2. Could be. That too is quite a novel interpretation of the great salvation that we celebrate.

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  64. Yavoy,

    I'm a bit surprised at you. Terror has always worked in history. You're telling me that Israel couldn't scare the Arabs within its midst if it wanted to? You gave a figure of three million. I don't think it would take more than 100,000. But whatever it took, that's what I would do. If you wanted to be more "surgical," I would target the wives and kids of terrorists. The Russians did that once in the 1980s with much success. But like I said, whatever it takes. That's a government's main purpose: to protect its people.

    Let me end off by pointing to two American heroes: 1) Ulysses S Grant who was otherwise known as "Unconditional Surrender" Grant, and 2) Douglas Macarthur, who famously said, "In war there is no substitute for victory." Victory. Not stalemate. Not ceasefire. Victory.

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    1. Current deaths from terror attacks are relatively low a year. That's hard to stamp out - it just takes a few nutters with machine guns to kill as many. Killing a few thousand Palestinians might discourage most of them, but might well encourage those nutters. And it might encourage foreign terrorist groups to get involved.

      Besides, you're ignoring larger consequences. If foreign countries cut off business ties with Israel, the government could lose millions in taxes a year. This could severely effect health care, causing many more deaths a year. They're less noticeable, but why should only deaths from terror count? I care about any Jews who die.

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    2. It is not hard to stamp out. It's called fighting with overwhelming force. It's called making the price of terror so high that no one will attempt it. And if stopping all terror is truly impossible (which I don't believe), then kick them out like Kahane suggested. It's insane to let a murderous population live in your midst. It defies all logic and sense of nationalist pride.

      Besides, it's not just deaths we're talking about. We're talking about living normally in one's own country -- i.e., not having to build bypass roads all over the place, not having to build a fortress around Kever Rachel, etc. etc. It's called living like a proud person instead of a timid, terrified one.

      I can't answer your last point in a brief comment, but most countries tend to care about the bottom line: what is good for them. That's why the USA has great relations with China and Saudi Arabia. These countries commit horrible abuses, but America gets along with them because they benefit from the relationship and that is all that counts at the end.

      Numerous countries benefit from having a relationship with Israel. They will not stop that relationship over a quick one-time campaign to crush terrorism once and for all. But even if they did, wouldn't you rather live as a poor Jew who is proud, free, independent and safe than a rich one who lives in fear and resignation? I know I, for one, would rather the former.

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    3. I live free, proud, and do as I like. The total number of people killed in terrorist attacks is less than a fifth those killed in car crashes, but I still drive. I see no need to change my lifestyle because of Palestinian terror. If that's what's really bothering you its your attitude that needs to change. Let logic rule over fear.

      Killing innocents stamps out some sources of terror, but ignites others. There is no guarantee it would help, and I'm not prepared to kill them unless I have some reason to expect it will.

      And do you honestly think no country would react to the ethnic cleansing of three million Palestinians? Besides for which, I myself would not be prepared to kill the tens of thousands of civilians this would probably entail to save a few tens of lives. Maybe I'm wrong for not doing so, but I still wouldn't do it. Remember they may not be be Jews, but they are still bt'selem elokim. We are not meant to become thoughtless executioners of other humans, even if it is sometimes neccessary to kill them.

      BDS has probably caused enough economic damage to lessen life expentency in Israel by an equivalent amount to terror (i.e. Negligible). Have a policy of killing terrorists children and it will almost definitely gain more traction. America would probably stop giving five billion dollars of aid annually to israel. After all giving that quantity of aid is not in their best interest. Its a form of charity. So yes, economic life in Israel would continue, but your policy will not save any lives overall, but would rather lead to an overall loss of life in Israel.

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    4. Let me give you an analogy. Every day a Jew walks out of his house and hears his upstairs neighbor yell, "Dirty Jew!" His solution is to start wearing ear plugs. In reaction, his neighbor starts spitting at him from his window. His solution is to start carrying an umbrella.

      The Jew has solved the problem. And yet, to me (and I think to most people), something is wrong with this person's actions. It smacks of defensiveness and lack of pride. It just doesn't seem to be the way any normal person would, or should, react.

      Yes, it is possible to build a relatively safe existence in Israel despite all the terror. So Ramallah is no longer safe? Alright, no big deal. So I can't drive on certain main roads? Alright, no big deal. So I have to duck under a fortress to daven at Kever Rachel? Alright, no big deal.

      Nothing has to be a big deal, in theory. Truth is, I'm not even sure why it should be a big deal if we are independent or not. Do we really need a flag and an anthem and all that?

      You mention car crashes. This argument is brought up in numerous contexts. But car crashes are an unfortunate part of modern-day society. Attacks against your country from people living in your country are not -- and need not be. A Jew (or an Arab for that matter) accidentally killing another Jew in a car crash is not the same thing as a vicious anti-Semitic Arab murdering a Jew as an act of war against the Jewish state.

      People use the car crash argument concerning 9/11, too. Why are we getting so excited when so many more Americans die in car crashes. Surely, though, you agree that this line of reasoning is strange.

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    5. There would be no BDS if Israel had crushed Arab terror in the 1980s and 90s. BDS is a relatively recent campaign. And the longer Israel lets its Arab problem fester, the more anti-Israel the world will become. That's the price of "being nice."

      The very basis of a normal proud life is security. That should be Israel's foremost goal. Even if it costs it.

      America gives three billion, by the way, not five. And it is definitely not a form of charity. No country performs charity on that scale. It's in America's best interests to have Israel and its intelligence services as allies (to say nothing of Israel's tech prowess).

      If Israel feels that America is constraining it, it should look elsewhere. Try India, China, and Russia. In today's world, having these countries as allies is just as good as having the U.S. as one. And by the way, if America even for a second thought Israel would turn to these countries, you would suddenly find America super accommodating.

      International politics is a game that must be played smartly. It is the height of folly to put all you eggs in one basket and then claim that you can do nothing about terrorism in your midst because your hands are tied. What was the point of creating an independent Israel if we're still going to take our orders from the poritz?

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    6. No need to create a straw man argument. I never said that we need to listen to everything America said. Neither are the numbers or details relevant. The point is we would not save total lives by wiping out the Palestinians. Yes we may gain money from other sources, but overall we would probably be worse off.

      As for national pride. I do drive on Palestinian roads no problem. The occasional incident has occurred on these roads, but they're pretty much safe. And when one does occur we kill the terrorist. We are not giving in to terror.

      And the Arabs are frightened of us - we are the only country ISIS fears. No Arab country dares start a war.

      And besides I personally take national pride in not having sunk down to the level of the Palestinians. To take it back to your moshul, I wouldn't be particularly proud of the Jew if he shot the anti-Semite in the head instead. A balanced middle ground, possibly involving a sound thrashing is called for.

      If you can't take pride in Israel as it is now, I'm afraid you have pretty low self esteem.

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    7. I would argue the low-esteem person is someone who retreats under fire rather than fights back.

      You travel on all roads? Really? All those bypass roads are for show? Do you also regularly visit Kever Yosef?

      And how are the Arabs frightened? Name one place in Israel where an Arab fears for his life? I can give you hundreds where a Jew does.

      And I agree with you about the anti-Semite in my moshul. He should not be killed.

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    8. I can give you a thousand places where an Arab is scared to carry out terrorist attacks. That we don't kill them otherwise is not a weakness.

      Our security forces do not retreat under fire. They kill terrorists wherever they are.

      There is no need to kill civilians for national pride. We are not living as poor week frightened Jews. Yes, we face daily terror. But we deal with it. If you have to kill three million people to feel safe in Israel, then that is a sign of cowardice, not strength.

      Take pride in what we have achieved, and do not consider it worthless because a few tens of people are able to attack us at the cost of their lives. Three million lives are not needed to bloat your ego.

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    9. Please forgive my harshness, but the fact that you think it's normal to face daily terror is insane. I can't fathom in a million years Americans tolerating a 30-year terror campaign by Mexican nationalists, for example, in the hearts of its major cities.

      And it's you, by the way, who keeps on giving the number of three million, not me. I would tell the generals to kill until the enemy surrenders unconditionally. The number would be far less than three million.

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  65. Terror has always worked in history.

    Yes, always. That is why Northern Ireland was able to rejoin with Ireland and Israel was destroyed by its terrorist enemies. At least in Yehudah's alternate universe.

    In our universe, not so much.

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    1. "Terror," as in terror of the strong against the weak.

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    2. I think he is referring not to terrorist groups, but to the vicious oppression of dissidents.

      Even so the historical effectiveness of such actions has been pretty patchy, enflaming the situation as often as it calms it. Consider Gaddafi and Adsad as recent examples.

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  66. You put me in the unenviable position of defending evil people, but I think the older Assad is a better example (think of the 1982 Hama massacre).

    And again, I'm surprised at your disagreement. Everyone knows when he's beat. Even the fanatical Nazis and Japanese surrendered at a certain point. It's simply human nature. That's why in ancient times, nations -- including the Jews -- used to cut off heads and hang them up for all to see. It was a terror tactic.

    The Radak uses the same logic, incidentally, to explain why the Jews cut off the thumbs and big toes of various kings Canaan.

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    1. Well if your only prepared to consider the cases where it worked, then it's not a particularly pointfull discussion. And the Nazis didn't surrender till Berlin was taken, there were almost no troops left and Hitler was dead - hardly a point in your favor. I agree killing all Palestinians on sight would curb terror, but that is for all practical purposes irrelevant.

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    2. Give me a single example where overwhelming (please underline that adjective) force didn't work.

      And I fail to see how Germany proves your point. I think it proves mine instead. Germany had 70 million people during WWII (as far as I can tell from Google), and the Allies killed roughly 7 million Germans. In other words, it won definitively by killing 10% of Germany's population.

      Regarding German troops, you're forgetting the 3.5 million German soldiers who surrendered and survived in POW camps in the USA and USSR.

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  67. http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/in-self-defense-of-purim/

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  68. Since blooming of feminism we are accustomed to take husband and wife as separate and mainly independent human being. Indeed, that is correct in most of aspects, but we all know that that a husband and a wife have huge influence on each other and, respectively, Tora learns us that a husband and a wife have huge responsibility on each other, therefore in some aspects a family should be considered as a whole unit. For example, we all know the famous words of Rabbi Akiva - "mine and yours is her". Another example, from opposite direction, is "ir ha-nidakhat", where wives of wicked shall be executed among with those wicked - even if it was not proven that the wife was idol worshiper herself.
    A society in that days was politically organized in tribes rather than in political parties. One who was disagree with his native tribe agenda was need to leave his tribe and somehow join to another, or establish a new one. like Avraham the Forefather did. Therefore destruction of ideology implicitly meant destruction of the tribe.

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  69. Well if you think that 'only' 300000 deaths are necessary...

    Look Yehudah, I could argue with you all night and day, and I could bring counter examples, and explain why Germany isn't relevant here, and you would argue it is, and we'd both be wasting our breath. I think we've both stated quite clearly our points and perspectives, and any further discussion won't get us anywhere.

    So I'm going to end the discussion here. I'm not going to reply to anything you write on the topic, and we can peacefully disagree.

    Agreed?

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  70. One obvious message of the book of Esther is that diverse multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies are plagued by endemic hatred and violence. Of course, one doesn't have to look at the book of Esther to know that, you can just open up a newspaper or walk around downtown Philadelphia. Since, as David Osie correctly observes, morality has evolved (partly, by the way, because humans have undergone not insignificant non-metaphorical evolution over the past 2,500 years*) the proper response is to find civilized and humane ways to get rid of hostile ethnic/religious groups so you can lead nice lives like people in Sweden and Norway before all the Muslims turned up.

    The obvious answer is to start paying Arabs to leave. Some people say this won't work. Maybe not? But you have to try to find out? If it doesn't we can try something else. It's certainly a lot cheaper than having a permanent state of high security and paying for two police forces (the PLO one and our one) in the West Bank as per the Likud non-plan. Plus, if even a small fraction of Arabs take the offer we're still better off.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_10,000_Year_Explosion (High Ashkenazi IQ, for example, is a product of the previous 1,000 years).

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  71. One obvious message of the book of Esther is that diverse multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies are plagued by endemic hatred and violence.

    When I was in Yeshiva, I coined the term "single time induction" to label pseudo-empiricism that tries to induce a general principle from a single example. I've since learned to use the more conventional term "confirmation bias". But it isn't even worth mentioning here given that there no indication of that this example even confirms your point.

    Of course, one doesn't have to look at the book of Esther to know that, you can just open up a newspaper or walk around downtown Philadelphia.

    Yes, the US has a history full of horrible violence between the Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and Mormons. As well as between the descendants of the English, Irish, Germans, Italians, and Chinese. Everyone knows that the great American immigration experiment is a complete failure and we'll be splitting up in to sub-nations in just a short while.

    BTW, here is the chart for Canada via wikipedia:

    Ethnic origin[Note 1] % Population Area of largest proportion
    Canadian 32.16% 10,563,805 Quebec (59.1%)
    English 19.81% 6,509,500 Newfoundland and Labrador (43.4%)
    French 15.42% 5,065,690 Quebec (29.1%)
    Scottish 14.35% 4,714,965 Prince Edward Island (39.3%)
    Irish 13.83% 4,544,865 Prince Edward Island (30.4%)
    German 9.75% 3,203,325 Saskatchewan (28.6%)
    Italian 4.53% 1,488,420 Ontario (7.0%)
    Chinese 4.53% 1,487,580 British Columbia (10.7%)
    First Nations 4.17% 1,369,115 Northwest Territories (37.0%)
    Ukrainian 3.81% 1,251,170 Manitoba (14.9%)
    East Indian 3.55% 1,165,145 British Columbia (6.3%)
    Dutch (Netherlands) 3.25% 1,067,245 Alberta (5.1%)
    Polish 3.08% 1,010,700 Manitoba (7.3%)
    Filipino 2.02% 662,605 Manitoba (5.2%)
    British, not included elsewhere 1.75% 576,030 Yukon (2.4%)
    Russian 1.68% 550,515 Manitoba (4.3%)
    Welsh 1.40% 458,705 Yukon (2.8%)
    Norwegian 1.38% 452,710 Saskatchewan (6.9%)
    Métis 1.36% 447,655 Northwest Territories (6.7%)
    Portuguese 1.31% 429,850 Ontario (2.3%)
    American 1.13% 372,575 Yukon (2.2%)
    Spanish 1.12% 368,305 British Columbia (1.4%)
    Swedish 1.04% 341,845 Saskatchewan (3.2%)
    Hungarian 0.96% 316,760 Saskatchewan (2.8%)
    Jewish 0.94% 309,650 Ontario (1.4%)

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  72. The obvious answer is to start paying Arabs to leave. Some people say this won't work. Maybe not? But you have to try to find out? If it doesn't we can try something else.

    I think that the obvious answer is to unite the world's peoples through Transcendental Meditation. Some say this won't work. Maybe not? But you have to try to find out? If it doesn't we can try something else.

    Or maybe you can do some thinking and consider first whether it is feasible. What happens when Jews surreptitiously buy property in a Muslim area of Jerusalem? Do everyone just happily move along. Or do they understand this as an attempt to gradually take over the city and oppose it? Perhaps that informs the result of your imagined plan. (One of "n" problems with this "plan").

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  73. 1) David Ohsie, your citation of America is embarrassing for a number of reasons (Muslims? seriously?), but to cut a long story short, America is wildly violent and crime-ridden by first-world standards because .... it's much more diverse than most western societies. Instead of just parading your ignorance, do some reading.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_ranked_by_ethnic_and_cultural_diversity_level

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9477.2007.00176.x/abstract;jsessionid=752AE96C71B9FC9DD0ACD228D5D181BC.f04t03?systemMessage=Wiley+Online+Library+will+be+unavailable+for+up+to+3+hours+on+Saturday+19th+March+2016+from++11%3A00-14%3A00+GMT+%2F+07%3A00-10%3A00+EDT+%2F+19%3A00-22%3A00+SGT+for+essential+maintenance.++Apologies+for+the+inconvenience.

    2) David Ohsie, imagine what would happen if I turned up at your house and demanded 35% of your income so I could spend it on what suited me. Probably wouldn't work out to well, no? The lesson here is that actions on behalf of private individuals are not the same as actions carried out by a government. If you spent less time luxuriating in your imagined wisdom and more time thinking you wouldn't make such weirdly impertinent comments.

    3) I don't see any harm in trying the transcendental meditation idea. In the event that it doesn't work out at least 1,000s of Jews won't die as per your favoured projects. Then we can try my plan.

    4) Outside of your liberal-American bubble the world is a very different place. Within a few decades European countries will be faced with the choice of joining the third world or repatriating the African and Middle Eastern populations that are growing up amongst them. I suppose we could wait around and jump on the bandwagon, but much better (IMHO) to be a light unto the nations.

    5) Canada is almost as White as a Bernie Sanders rally. I have literally no idea what kind of point you imagine yourself to be making. The only significant diversity is the large French minority and, surprise, surprise that's the major historical source of political discord in Canada. You can't actually be so thoughtless that you didn't think to sum up "Canadian", "English", "Scottish", "Irish" and "Welsh" in your list, right? Right?

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  74. "how do you address the command to wipe out the seven tribes and the original tribe of Amalek?

    That will have to be a topic for a future post."

    Was this post ever written?

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  75. 1) David Ohsie, your citation of America is embarrassing for a number of reasons (Muslims? seriously?), but to cut a long story short, America is wildly violent and crime-ridden by first-world standards because .... it's much more diverse than most western societies. Instead of just parading your ignorance, do some reading.

    Now you are being silly. Whatever problems America has, if America is your example of a failed state, then you are living in your own world. "Wildly X by very high standards" is not very good measure of X. Also, your explanation of the relative rates of violent crime as related to a clash of cultures is unfounded. America has been more violent than Europe well before the emancipation of Blacks in America (which you appear to decry).

    2) David Ohsie, imagine what would happen if I turned up at your house and demanded 35% of your income so I could spend it on what suited me. Probably wouldn't work out to well, no? The lesson here is that actions on behalf of private individuals are not the same as actions carried out by a government. If you spent less time luxuriating in your imagined wisdom and more time thinking you wouldn't make such weirdly impertinent comments.

    I'm not talking about the land grabs by settlers. I'm talking about people buying up apartments in arms-length voluntary sales. When Jews secretly do that in Arab sections of Jerusalem, there is a backlash because everyone understand why that is being done. Again, extrapolate from there what the chance of success your plan has.

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  76. 4) Outside of your liberal-American bubble the world is a very different place. Within a few decades European countries will be faced with the choice of joining the third world or repatriating the African and Middle Eastern populations that are growing up amongst them. I suppose we could wait around and jump on the bandwagon, but much better (IMHO) to be a light unto the nations.

    Not that this is really relevant to anything, I'm actually a political conservative and my admitted over-admiration of the US is reflective of that. OTOH your characterization of America as a failed state is a standard trope among a certain extreme strains of liberal politics.

    Getting to the little bit of substance you have; I didn't advocate for open immigration to Europe. I objected to your thesis that any conglomeration of cultures is inherently unstable. This is provably false.

    Canada is almost as White as a Bernie Sanders rally.

    Herein is your largest fallacy and contradiction to your thesis (and this applies to America as well). What you call "white" is a conglomeration of formerly warring European cultures and ethnic groups. By your theory, the Italian, Irish, English, French and German people who came to the US and Canada should have broken out in civil war as they did in horrific state conflict in Europe until the middle of the 20th century (at which point we slid into totalitarian Empire in control of large parts of Europe). Similarly, while Catholics were mistreated by the Protestant majority in many parts of the US, we did not have the open religious war that formerly characterized Europe. (And of course the centuries long American mistreatment of Blacks is well known.)

    If I can bring one more counter-example; it is Israel itself. Despite the presence of a 25% non-Jewish population, many of whom culturally identify with Israel's sworn enemies lying right outside its borders, this population is not in a civil war with the rest of the population. You can contrast them with the culturally (almost) identical population on the other side of the Green line and realize that there is a lot more to the causes of conflict than cultural diversity.

    To make this clearer, walls at the border are only successful in stopping terrorism (e.g. the second Intifada) because the 1.5MM citizens within the borders are not committing it. Unfortunately, this fact continues to be taken for granted, and may not last forever. On the day that changes, the problems really becomes intractable.

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  77. 1) America's murder rate is four times that of a normal western country; it's also more diverse than most western countries. You brought it as example of how diversity is so awesome, without apparently putting any thought into it because you are an American chauvinist. If I want to bring examples of how diversity doesn't work then I could go on all night: Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Congo, Nigeria, ....

    One thing I do thank you for is the Mormon reference. I'd never really put much thought into Mormon history. But whaddayouknow there was loads of violence until the Mormons decided to trek halfway across America to get away from it all. Might be a lesson there somewhere.

    2) Of course they will understand what is going on. The government, under this plan, will announce that we wish the Arabs well, somewhere else, and we are willing to assist them financially in setting up there new life wherever takes their fancy (Syria has about 3,000,000 empty houses now I understand). Of course, it goes without saying that Arabs who try to disrupt matters through violence will have to be dealt with. To what other backlash do you refer? Perhaps Arab teenagers might start rampaging round Israel with knives? Perhaps Hamas might start firing rockets from Gaza? Gosh we might have to construct roadblocks!

    If non-tribally minded Arabs prefer to stay in Israel while most of their brethren leave than that's fine with me. I'm not a fanatic.

    Since, you didn't understand my analogy, I'll spell it out: if I try to collect taxes it won't go well. However, governments all around the world collect taxes without too much trouble. Similarly if a gang of well meaning eccentrics start trying to buy up East Jerusalem it tends to result in fandangos. The result of a government in Israel doing the same would be entirely different.

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  78. 4) Why should English Protestants, Irish Protestants, Welsh Protestants and Scottish Protestants start fighting when they turn up in America/Canada? That aside, there are numerous cases of ethnic/religous violence between white groups in America, for example when Irish Catholics and Italians started showing up in New York. The answer to your historical quandary is that during the periods of immigration restrictions (for example 1920-1965) America was able to ameliorate, to some degree, its diversity problem by assimilating its different groups into a shared national identity and through intermarriage and social mixing. Obviously, that's not even an option in Israel, even if we didn't have halacha to worry about.

    When I refer to your liberal American bubble I include most Republican voters.

    "To make this clearer, walls at the border are only successful in stopping terrorism (e.g. the second Intifada) because the 1.5MM citizens within the borders are not committing it. Unfortunately, this fact continues to be taken for granted, and may not last forever. On the day that changes, the problems really becomes intractable."

    I agree, let's not wait until another 1948 situation blows up to finish what Ben Gurion started. A stitch in time saves nine.


    "I objected to your thesis that any conglomeration of cultures is inherently unstable. This is provably false."

    Crikey, it's not physics and I haven't made a thesis, but now I will. "As a general rule, diverse societies have higher levels of violence and other negative social indicators than non-diverse societies. Whilst diversity has some benefits, these are subject to sharply diminishing returns after you get to about 2% diversity, whilst the downsides grow exponentially once you get beyond 5-10%. If people want to lead happy, peaceful lives they are well advised to pursue political policies that minimize the amount of diversity in their society."

    Now, you've tried to disprove this based on the following observations
    1) America's murder rate is only four times higher than normal western countries.
    2) Canada has a lot of French people, plus some Eskimos living in reservations.

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  79. Gavriel M, be careful. Your truck had run over a number of straw men in its haste to transport the goal posts. Here was your original statement:

    "multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies are plagued by endemic hatred and violence"

    You've changed "multi-enthnic" to be "as long as the ethnicities are not from Europe", you've converted the Irish to Protestantism, and you've changed "plagued by endemic hatred and violence" to "higher than average murder rate for the 1st world" and held up the US as a country "plagued by endemic hatred and violence".

    Since, you didn't understand my analogy, I'll spell it out: if I try to collect taxes it won't go well. However, governments all around the world collect taxes without too much trouble. Similarly if a gang of well meaning eccentrics start trying to buy up East Jerusalem it tends to result in fandangos. The result of a government in Israel doing the same would be entirely different.

    This among the weakest analogies in the history of analogies. People accept that they will be taxed (to a degree) by their own government for their own benefit. They don't accept robbery by either private entities or the government.

    When Jews buy up Arab property, they are engaging in a voluntary transaction, and, even so, there is a lot of resistance once they are found out. Making the transaction involuntary as a part of an explicit government driven program of ethnic cleansing will make things worse.

    Anyhow your proposal isn't even serious which is why you have to laugh off the question of where you will herd these forced refugees.

    Whilst diversity has some benefits, these are subject to sharply diminishing returns after you get to about 2% diversity, whilst the downsides grow exponentially once you get beyond 5-10%.

    80% of statistics are made up on the spot.

    Why should English Protestants, Irish Protestants, Welsh Protestants and Scottish Protestants start fighting when they turn up in America/Canada?

    The Irish are not Protestant (as a rule). As to why different ethnicities should fight, that was your thesis, not mine. It was my position that they will not always do so. But we do know that the Europeans were fighting wars against one another through the 20th century, so if your theory holds, it should apply to them as well. But it doesn't always as evidenced in America and Canada.

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  80. Do you even bother to do cursory google searches before you giving your wise proclamations?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Americans#17th_to_mid-19th_century
    "An estimated 250,000 migrated to the United States during the colonial era. Only 20,000 immigrants of these immigrants from Ireland were Catholics—English, Irish or a few Germans. Catholics numbered 40,000 or 1.6% of the total population of 2.5 million in 1775"

    As to where all the Arabs would go, it's a non-issue. Europe has absorbed more immigrants in the last two years than the entire Arab population of Eretz Yisrael. We're talking about a population transfer that would take at least a decade. The logistical problems are minuscule compared to the logistical problems involved in keeping them here.

    "They don't accept robbery by either private entities or the government."

    Taxation is robbery by the government. Try to keep up.


    BTW. I never even said the transactions would be involuntary. The policy is quite simple: the government of Israel will declare that things aren't working out, we want an amicable divorce and we're willing to financially assist Arabs who want to start a better life elsewhere. Of course, if initial take up is slow you ratchet up the carrots and sticks. The obvious first move would be to divert the money that Bennett is currently pouring down the drain trying to improve Arab schools and use some of the money to build them some schools elsewhere. That probably seems implausible to you, but Saudi Arabia built a dozen mosques in Germany to cater to the needs of Syrian refugees who are refugees, in part, because Saudi Arabia thought it would be fun to destabilize their country. In fact, most of the things you think are unfeasible are entirely feasible once you get past liberal Crimestop. In fact, many of them are so feasible they're happening right now.

    Again, policies of this kind will be implemented by many Western governments within two decades. We can wait around until all the cool kids are doing it, or we can do it before it becomes cool. Or we can wait until some big regional conflagration happens and we have to kick them out at the point of a gun, as in 1948 (which presumably, in your view, we should commemorate with a fast day or something). Or, we can get kicked out ourselves. One way or another, someone's going to move. What I suggest is that we give ourselves time to carry out matters with a level head.

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  81. Do you even bother to do cursory google searches before you giving your wise proclamations?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Americans#17th_to_mid-19th_century
    "An estimated 250,000 migrated to the United States during the colonial era. Only 20,000 immigrants of these immigrants from Ireland were Catholics—English, Irish or a few Germans. Catholics numbered 40,000 or 1.6% of the total population of 2.5 million in 1775"


    The Irish are 80% Catholic. You pulled up an interesting, but irrelevant and questionable factoid. The article mentions that it may be undercounting Catholics at that time, given the anti-Catholic legal framework of the time. More importantly there was massive Irish Catholic immigration at later times including during and after the Irish Potato Famine.

    As to where all the Arabs would go, it's a non-issue.

    Another reason why this is not a serious proposal.

    "They don't accept robbery by either private entities or the government."

    Taxation is robbery by the government. Try to keep up.


    For anarchists, it is (and perhaps you are one). For the rest of us, we realize that we need a central repository of force, answerable to the people in a democratic fashion, to be called upon to preserve our freedom (IOW, you need to be able to call the police when someone stronger or better armed takes your property). That is a public good properly financed via taxation even for the most libertarian.

    BTW, your plan will need to financed by what you term as robbery.

    BTW. I never even said the transactions would be involuntary.

    Precisely, and you did that to make it sound "reasonable". What I showed (as if it needs showing) is that what you want is either impossible, or will involve forced deportation to some no-man's land concentration camp since neither the people involved nor any destination country will go along with it.

    In fact, many of them are so feasible they're happening right now.

    Yes, if you are willing to act as murderous regimes act. But Israel doesn't have a huge oil reserve to get the rest of the nations to go along with it and can't withstand a South Africa like boycott (I hate to even write that because it should not be done because it is horrible, but as a backup, I want to point out that if it was done, it would be a practical as well as a moral harm).

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  82. David Ohsie, I said this "Why should English Protestants, Irish Protestants, Welsh Protestants and Scottish Protestants start fighting when they turn up in America/Canada?"

    You accused me of ignorance, as is your wont, but it is, in fact, a factually accurate description of the first 200 years of settlement in the Americas. Your arrogance and generally supercilious tone, stand in stark contrast, as is customary, to your superficial knowledge and lack of insight. Which leads me to...

    "For anarchists, it is (and perhaps you are one). For the rest of us, we realize that we need a central repository of force, answerable to the people in a democratic fashion, to be called upon to preserve our freedom (IOW, you need to be able to call the police when someone stronger or better armed takes your property). That is a public good properly financed via taxation even for the most libertarian."

    Taxation is functionally the same act as robbery. It involves exactly the same actions to whit, extracting money through the threat of, or actual use of, violence. The fact that people accept taxation (including me) as routine, but not robbery - when they are one and the same thing - shows you something important: peoples' responses to precisely the same action differ depending on who is performing the action.

    "Yes, if you are willing to act as murderous regimes act. But Israel doesn't have a huge oil reserve to get the rest of the nations to go along with it and can't withstand a South Africa like boycott (I hate to even write that because it should not be done because it is horrible, but as a backup, I want to point out that if it was done, it would be a practical as well as a moral harm)."

    Our GDP per head is 50% bigger than Saudi Arabia and we have huge funds of money that are currently being destroyed maintaining the Oslo war process. Further, there is nothing even mildly immoral in paying people money to go live somewhere else so you can both live more peacefully. Since you are on record as supporting exactly the same policy for Jews in Yeuhda and Shomron (although perhaps you don't think they should be paid) then you don't either. Your moral views are shallow, childish, unable to stand up to the slightest scrutiny and lead to nothing but misery and death. They, in the form of neoconservatism, have laid waste to huge swathes of the globe and will in short order transform much of the western world in a third world fleapit. They are not worth a bucket of spit. I would say that following even the most crude and fundamentalist reading of the Torah would be a better guide to action than your moral views, but that is to say nothing since making decisions by throwing darts while drunk would be as well.

    Again, if what I advocate (incentivising the emigration of unassimillable minorities) amounts to a "murderous regime", then what was Ben Gurion, who expelled 800,000 Arabs at the point of a gun, in your eyes? Lex Luther? Yeesh.

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  83. David Ohsie, I said this "Why should English Protestants, Irish Protestants, Welsh Protestants and Scottish Protestants start fighting when they turn up in America/Canada?"

    You accused me of ignorance, as is your wont, but it is, in fact, a factually accurate description of the first 200 years of settlement in the Americas. Your arrogance and generally supercilious tone, stand in stark contrast, as is customary, to your superficial knowledge and lack of insight. Which leads me to...


    Are the Irish in America typically Catholics or not? Did the Irish rebel multiple times and then fight a war of independence against English foreign rule or not? You taught me something about the colonial America that is irrelevant.

    The point remains that the same tribes fighting wars in Europe and elsewhere live relatively peacefully together in other places including Arabs and Jews inside the Green Line in Israel today! I made no claims about the first 200 years of settlement in America. I make no claim that this always happens. I claimed that this statement is false: "multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies are plagued by endemic hatred and violence".

    Taxation is functionally the same act as robbery. It involves exactly the same actions to whit, extracting money through the threat of, or actual use of, violence.

    You've just described almost all economic activity. If you stop paying the rent, I will use (state sanctioned/assisted) force to remove you. I you try to take my property I will use (state sanctioned/assisted) force to restrain you. So human relations are functionally the same as robbery by your definition. So your statement is vacuous.

    The fact that people accept taxation (including me) as routine, but not robbery - when they are one and the same thing - shows you something important: peoples' responses to precisely the same action differ depending on who is performing the action.

    Yes, it shows that when people give their general consent, then they will go along with it. And I showed that even when Arab land is bought by Jews in a completely voluntary transaction, there is resistance.

    I'm not sure why you keep on with this line of argument, since you've admitted that you will round them up into concentration camps even if they don't consent.

    Further, there is nothing even mildly immoral in paying people money to go live somewhere else so you can both live more peacefully.

    I don't completely disagree, but they won't go voluntarily and "voluntary" is a fig leaf; your plan is to forcibly displace the population.

    They are not worth a bucket of spit.

    I agree. My opinions are worthless. My arguments must stand on their own.

    Again, if what I advocate (incentivising the emigration of unassimillable minorities) amounts to a "murderous regime", then what was Ben Gurion, who expelled 800,000 Arabs at the point of a gun, in your eyes? Lex Luther? Yeesh.

    Now you finally ask a good question (although I don't accept your premise about "unassimillable minorities" or that your plan is simply "incentivising"). If Israel was going to work (and is going to work), then we needed a contiguous political entity with a Jewish super-majority. Had the Arabs not chosen to go to war, it would have been difficult to create such an entity; the war enabled the use of force to create it. It is analogous in some ways to the question of whether or not the use of the Atomic Bomb in Japan was justified if we grant that it ended the war significantly earlier than otherwise. Do I think that it is justified to colonize an area and kick out the natives? No. Do I live in and benefit from a country which was founded in that way? Yes.

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