Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Drawing Strength from Blood Libels


Over the last few years of this blog, I have made repeated reference to the rationality of following the overwhelming majority, or global consensus, of the scientific community. This is no different from how we act in halachic matters. Everyone is always entitled to their own opinions. However, when a person lacks sufficient knowledge to form their own opinion, it makes sense to follow the majority. And even if one has formed one's own opinion, if the overwhelming majority of others disagree, it makes sense to double-check one's own thinking.

Unfortunately, such an approach leads to depressing results when evaluating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The vast majority of the world believes that Israel is, to a greater or lesser degree, the bad guy. Could they all be wrong?

The famous writer Achad Ha-Am wrote about how, when evaluating the general global disapproval of Jews, some consolation can be drawn from one of the most appalling of all indictments: the blood libel. The fact that this is so obviously false, and yet so widely believed, demonstrates that the global disapproval of Jews is based upon irrational antisemitism rather than genuine flaws:
"This accusation is the solitary case in which the general acceptance of an idea about ourselves does not make us doubt whether all the world can be wrong, and we right, because it is based on an absolute lie, and is not even supported by any false inference from particular to universal. Every Jew who has been brought up among Jews knows as an indisputable fact that throughout the length and breadth of Jewry there is not a single individual who drinks human blood for religious purposes. ... Let the world say what it will about our moral inferiority: we know that its ideas rest on popular logic, and have no real scientific basis. ... 'But' - you ask - 'is it possible that everybody can be wrong, and the Jews right?' Yes, it is possible: the blood accusation proves it possible. Here, you see, the Jews are right and perfectly innocent."
In this dark hour, when much of the world unites in condemning Israel for its defensive campaign against Hamas, and many Jews feel uncomfortable with maintaining an opposing view, it is worthwhile to remember this. For much of history, much of the world was certain that Jews bake matzas with the blood of Christian children. That tells you everything about global opinion regarding Jews that you need to know.

The current campaign in Gaza presents a new example of this phenomenon. Much of the world is talking about Israel's "indiscriminate" attacks on Gaza or even deliberate attacks on innocents. Yet every Jew with even a basic knowledge of the campaign knows that this is not the case; that in fact, the very opposite is true. This should help people realize that world opinion of Israel is based on nothing more than simple antisemitism (or media reports resulting from it).

I'm sure that most of my readers already know this. We are aware that most of the world irrationally hates us; it's just depressing. But to my mind, there is something here than can be of help to readers of this website.

Many readers are struggling with the fundamentals of faith. Is it rational to believe that there is something special about the Jews? That we are the chosen people? Aren't we just yet another nation with delusions of grandeur?

I think that one can also draw faith, albeit in an odd way, from the blood libel, especially in its contemporary incarnation. In the entire global history of armed conflict, no nation has done remotely as much as Israel to minimize civilian (and even military) casualties amongst its enemies. Yet simultaneously, no nation receives remotely as much condemnation for killing civilians!

Is this normal?! Does this reflect a world in which there is nothing other than the order of nature?

Like I said, it's somewhat odd to draw faith from something negative. But I find it to be an enormously powerful example of how there is something unique about the Jewish People. Overwhelming, bizarrely irrational global hatred; and yet we have survived, and returned to our homeland. Am Yisrael Chai!

(See too this post: Does Rationalism Mandate seeing Judeopathy as Naturalistic?)

58 comments:

  1. Just so I understand:

    Are you suggesting that the hate for Israel or Jews is irrational and therefore is guided by some supernatural cause (contra to almost everything else you I think you claim to believe regarding natural / supernatural causes)?

    Or are you just saying you can't understand it so it must be irrational and sometimes people, even large groups of people act irrationally?

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  2. First I was making the second point, then I made the first point.

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  3. Do you really believe the whole world hates Jews for irrational reasons? Isn't it more likely that the world criticizes Israel because Israel is often wrong?

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  4. Yes. Your argument seems to be that Israel is obviously right and yet they are criticized. Since Jews were hated in the past for irrational reasons, the criticism of Israel now must be based on irrational reasons.

    But couldn't one argue that your initial premise (that Israel is right) is wrong in the first place?

    If I misconstrued the argument, I apologize.

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  5. Natan, I think this is the first article of yours I can completely agree with, without caveat.

    yitz..

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  6. "The fact that this is so obviously false, and yet so widely believed, demonstrates that the global disapproval of Jews is based upon irrational antisemitism rather than genuine flaws." Can't a broader point -- that it has been proven the consensus of the scientific community is not necessarily rational, and therefore anything on which they have consensus can possibly be irrational -- also be made? Just because in this case you think you understand the source of the flaw in their thinking doesn't mean there aren't other cases where you are also being irrational in following their consensus.

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  7. OsIt's legitimate to think that Israel is wrong and has no right to exist. What is not legitimate is to accuse it of the war-crimes that it didn't commit and to hold it to a moral standard that no other country is held to.

    A country like Turkey, that occupies 40 percent of Cyprus, has settled tens of thousands of turkish citizens there, has caused the exodus of the Greek population and has committed real atrocities and massacres of the civilian population is a country in good international standing. It is not a subject to trade or academic boycott and is expected to play a 'positive' role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, its membership in EU is under consideration. This selective 'morality' is anti-semetism.

    The fact that the world is anti-semitic doesn't make us automatically righteous. What it means is that we have only ourselves to rely upon.

    Why is the world anti-semitic? If I have time I will write about it later.

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  8. beebauman, you're confusing science with politics. Also, even in science it is certainly possible that the consensus is wrong; but I would not believe that they are wrong, unless there is adequate reason.

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  9. Yes. Your argument seems to be that Israel is obviously right and yet they are criticized.

    No, my argument is that Israel is obviously trying to minimize civilian casualties and yet they are condemned for trying to produce many civilian casualties.

    But couldn't one argue that your initial premise (that Israel is right) is wrong in the first place?

    The initial premise is that Israel is not seeking to kill Palestinian civilians. Do you have arguments that this is wrong?

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  10. Natan, I'm not confusing anything. If the point is that a broad human consensus can be irrational, that applies equally to a scientific consensus as a political one. After all, everybody in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is looking at more or less the same facts and drawing opposite conclusions. It boggles the mind! The rules in science are somewhat more tightly defined. So what? The point is, humans can be totally irrational and walk around congratulating themselves for being so rational. Somewhere deep inside they're all operating from the same flawed premise which causes them to misinterpret the facts.

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  11. The rules in science are somewhat more tightly defined. So what?

    That makes an enormous difference!

    You, "beebauman," generally respect scientists for their views on science. But you do not generally respect politicians for their views on politics. Because politics has much more to do with values and less to do with facts.

    But again - yes, it's certainly possible that scientists can all be wrong, based on some sort of bias/ mistaken paradigm. However, unless I have particular reason to think that such is the case, I don't!

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  12. "You generally respect scientists for their views on science. But you do not generally respect politicians for their views on politics. Because politics has much more to do with values and less to do with facts."

    Generally, sure. But the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is unique. There are a set of facts with a clear conclusion and you can bang your head against the wall from today to tomorrow and not understand how seemingly intelligent people don't see things the way they are. You explain it by postulating global irrational anti-semitism.

    My point is, you consider yourself to be a Rationalist, but you may also, unbeknownst to yourself, be suffering from a similar malady.

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  13. Now you've lost me. Are you arguing that we should follow the majority with regard to Israel/Palestine? Or are you saying that we should not follow the majority in scientific issues?

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  14. I identify with the thrust of this post. But the real issue is a deeper one.

    Each individual has his own subjective experiential world, which can be a source of truth but is in no way "scientific" in terms of objective demonstrative knowledge. You can know quite deeply and truly that you are right about love, about what you've been through, about who you really are. You can't "prove" it to anyone else, and in fact everyone else may think you are wrong or evil or insane, but that "majority" has no more weight than your own inner conviction.

    As the Bible has it, this subjective reality is not true only for individuals, but also for nations. No other nation can fully understand what another knows through its own experience.

    But there is also the objective realm of things that can be measured and tests by anyone, and replicated with integrity across borders and cultures. This realm is science. It doesn't include or explain right and wrong, or justice, or the will of an individual or a single nation to struggle for survival against huge "objective" odds.

    In other words, it is not that the rules in science are more tightly defined. Rather, it is that the realm of science does not include the subjective world of experience and values. But both are equally valid.

    It therefore makes sense for an honest person to really on a reasonable scientific consensus in realms that can be objectively measured and verified, while at the same time not feel bound by a "majority" of humanity when it comes to personal experience and values.

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  15. Although I agree that the IDF has taken a lot of precautions to minimize the deaths of civilians, there are prominent Israeli voices calling for genocide in Gaza.

    How do you explain the comments of Gilad Sharon and Eli Yishai?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/18/gilad-sharon-israel-gaza-op-ed_n_2155932.html

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  16. That's not relevant to the point of this post.

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  17. I found this post so illuminating because it hints at the problem with Rationalist Judaism. (Someone else said this was your first post ever that they fully agreed with, which is also interesting). You agree that the Torah was given to us by an infallible G-d. And you agree that scientists are fallible. Yet when the two conflict, you seek to minimize the conflict by reinterpreting and bending the Torah to match newly available scientific information. You can't see how the science can be wrong, so it must be right. It's completely irrational to reinterpret information that you know is infallible with information that you know is fallible. God, the Torah, and the Jews are all intertwined mystical entities with underlying spiritual realities that you can't detect in a lab. To assign precedence to that which you can observe over that which causes it to be is irrational. To think that just because an experiment followed certain rules the first 100 times means it must follow the same rules the 101st is irrational.

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  18. It's completely irrational to reinterpret information that you know is infallible with information that you know is fallible.

    So go ahead, believe that there is a solid firmament above us and that the earth stands still.

    To think that just because an experiment followed certain rules the first 100 times means it must follow the same rules the 101st is irrational.

    You must be really scared when you get on an airplane.

    I think that we have different definitions of "irrational"!

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  19. Just to be clear, irrational hatred for Jews need not stem from supernatural causes. There is a great deal of irrational hatred for black people, for example, and no evidence that it stems from supernatural causes.

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  20. I agree with Tesyaa.

    I am not sure why we are compelled to accept that irrational hatred must be supernatural?

    And what other supernatural non-essential beliefs do you have?

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  21. "So go ahead, believe that there is a solid firmament above us and that the earth stands still."

    I don't know about all that. But I certainly believe that there was someone named Noach who took animals into an ark and experienced a big flood. And that the world was created in 6 days 5773 years ago.

    "You must be really scared when you get on an airplane."

    I'm ALWAYS equally scared, on an airplane or not. I strive for a constant awareness that G-d is recreating us at every second. Seriously though, don't make me out to be some primitive moron. G-d makes things appear to follow certain rules because He wants us to rely on them. It's his gift to us. The nuance here is to what extent we see the rules as infallible in their own right. I choose to see it more as like when you call customer service and they tell you they can't do it because it's "policy". OK, bad example maybe but I hope the point is clear.

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  22. I think it has a lot do with this article.

    The premise here was that Israel is not looking to kill Palestinian civilians, and therefore the anti semitism shown towards Israel could be seen as irrational.

    However, there clearly are prominent Israelis who have no problem with the murder of palestinian civilians. Many of the Orthodox Jews both Israeli and American that I have interacted with display a similar attitude, and I think it goes a long way in explaining the anti semitism you are discussing.

    When you combine that with the death toll on the Palestinian side compared with the Israeli side, and the deplorable conditions the Palestinian people are forced to live in, I feel the anti semitism while still ultimately unjustified, can be well understood.

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  23. There is a great deal of irrational hatred for black people,

    Of course.

    I am not sure why we are compelled to accept that irrational hatred must be supernatural?

    You're not compelled. I personally feel that the extent and extremity of it is qualitatively different from, say, hatred of blacks.

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  24. However, there clearly are prominent Israelis who have no problem with the murder of palestinian civilians... I think it goes a long way in explaining the anti semitism you are discussing.

    It's not relevant. What's being discussed in the world is what Israel is actually doing; not what some people would like to do.

    When you combine that with the death toll on the Palestinian side compared with the Israeli side,

    I could add that to my post. Have you ever heard of another conflict where people judge it based on how many people are killed on each side?

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  25. In the Iraq war there was a great deal of emphasis on the civilian death toll and comparison to the smaller losses of the militaries involved.

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  26. No, my argument is that Israel is obviously trying to minimize civilian casualties and yet they are condemned for trying to produce many civilian casualties.

    In the most recent iteration of the conflict, Israel has largely not been condemned for civilian casualties. The US and EU both came out in support of Israel, as did many European countries. Even Human Rights Watch, which has been harshly critical of Israel in the past, put more of the blame for this mess on Hamas.

    The initial premise is that Israel is not seeking to kill Palestinian civilians. Do you have arguments that this is wrong?

    Israel is rarely criticized in the west for targeting civilians, which is a spurious charge. Instead, Israel is usually criticized for not doing enough to prevent civilian casualties. This is not a wholly unfounded accusation. As Alan Dershowitz put it once in a debate with Jeremy Ben-Ami, Israel's human rights record is probably a B-, but better than any other country.

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  27. Something I once read about "rational" reasons for anti-Semitism: each reason may seem rational on its own, but then contradicts another's "rational" reason. For example, the Nazis hated Jews and accused them of being communists by nature; communists hated Jews and accused them of being capitalist by nature!

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  28. You make an excellent point about the irrationality of the antisemitism the world displays time and again.
    I would only like to contest your comparison of following the majority when it comes to opinions and halachic matters. In halacha, we don't follow the majority because the minority is incorrect- eilu v'eliu divrei elokim chaim dictates that the opinions of true Torah authorities always represent a correct Torah perspective on an issue. We rely on the minority opinion in she'at hadchak, so it clearly isn't wrong, nor does it have to capitulate to the majority. Rather, we follow the majority to set standards and normative practice.

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  29. Criticism is one thing , but the deep hatred that bubbles to the surface ,everywhere on the blogosphere is something else. There is a deep almost limitless reservoir of anti-Semitism out there.

    My rebbe, Rav Aryeh Leib Baron, z`tz l , used to tell us -I can`t remember where he quoted from-that to understand evil , one has to be evil. To understand murder , one has to be a murderer-(by the way , I once saw a proof of this from a local news story, but that`s another matter).It`s not possible to equate the libels with the facts on the ground.

    All of which is to say that Israel is not a perfect country, but the constant vitriol sent its way, for anything short of sainthood, tells me that something abnormal is at work here.

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  30. Great post! Everyone is reading way to deeply into this . . .

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  31. Charles Krauthammer's classic 1990 Time Magazine piece is worth reading - http://www.jr.co.il/articles/judging.txt. It's still the standard.

    As to the matter of following the majority, that's a valid way to go insofar as there isn't too much group-think involved. We don't pasken like Beit Hillel because their greater numbers made them more likely to be correct (as if there's a right and wrong in paskening). It's just a matter of policy. But considering that most of those people were in the same Beis Midrash, being taught by the same people, the fact that there were more of them than talmidim of Shammai had nothing to do with a higher probability of being correct. So unless you're confident that all or the vast majority of these scientists are reaching their conclusions in a largely independent way (and I'm not saying they are or aren't), the impact of the numbers is watered down somewhat.

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  32. If I was an antisemite, I would point out that all the information you have about the intention and results of the operation in Gaza comes from the IDF.

    i.e. your source of information is biased.

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  33. Just to add some solid data to the discussion, a poll of U.S. opinion taken earlier this week showed that 36 percent of Americans said they sympathize more with Israel and 9 percent more with the Palestinians. Another 13 percent said they sympathized with both sides, while 24 percent said neither side and 18 percent were unsure. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Israel, but certainly not a condemnation either, so we can take some comfort But I suspect that popular opinion in other countries is not as favorable.

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  34. If I was an antisemite, I would point out that all the information you have about the intention and results of the operation in Gaza comes from the IDF.

    i.e. your source of information is biased.


    Actually, most of us in Israel can attest to the IDF's conduct from either first-hand experience or from having spoken to people we know well.

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  35. Few would dispute that the IDF operates on a higher moral level playing field than Hamas... but your analogy to the blood libel is weak and sensationalist.

    According to B'Tselem over 3,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israel since September 2000. Where as not one child was sacrificed for their blood in medieval Europe.

    Israel doesn't choose its battlefield, but it does choose how it responds to Hamas... Can the world not question Israel for their "surgical" targeting of the al-Dalu family... how can an explosion of that size not result in civilian deaths?

    http://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.478527.1353217347!/image/2591470598.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_640/2591470598.jpg

    Are bombs are appropriate for assassinations in built up areas?

    We've all seen the videos of grad missiles Hamas launched from built up areas, and I don't think anyone would deny Israel the right to respond to these direct threats... but there is a distinction between responding to these and the targeting of individuals with bombs.

    The Medieval Blood Libel was without basis, which no gentile ever witnessed... the world is watching Israel and people have the right to draw their own conclusions.

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  36. The only thing supernatural here is you inability to comprehend the fact that many people have a problem with an Israeli occupation of gaza where they are currently being bombarded with inevitable civilian casualties. You might disagree and consider Israel's right to self defence as overruling that, but try to be big-minded enough to recognize differences of opinion that possibly stem from different values than your own.
    Hurling indiscrimnate accusation of anti semitism at everyone just make you and jews like you look like idiots.

    In a non supernatural way, Mr 'Rationalist'.

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  37. "The vast majority of the world believes that Israel is, to a greater or lesser degree, the bad guy."

    I'm not sure this is the case. Certainly in my country (the USA) most people are sympathetic to Israel and not at all sympathetic to Hamas. (See http://www.businessinsider.com/israel-hamas-poll-democrats-republicans-gaza-iran-2012-11 )

    I wonder if you are interpreting a few isolated statements as evidence of what "the vast majority of the world" believes.

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  38. When we examine, and analyzed these antisemitisms with the principles of physical (world) rational, it is by all means irrational.

    But when it is analyzed with the principles of the spiritual, it is in every way rational.
    o

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  39. bb said, " many people have a problem with an Israeli occupation of gaza".
    As far as I know, Israel pulled out of Gaza with the Oslo accords in 1994. The army still protected the settlements there until 2005, the disengagement. In what way is Israel "occupying" Gaza? The Jewish population of the Gaza strip is (probably) 0--which is what we'll expect to be the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria if we ever give them to the PA.

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  40. in the idf link kemp quotes ratio of 4:1

    not everyone agrees with those figures. otoh. gaza is a densely built up urban area

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_casualty_ratio

    Iraq, and in Kosovo, it was worse: the ratio is believed to be four-to-one.


    According to a 2010 assessment by John Sloboda of Iraq Body Count, a United Kingdom-based organization, American and Coalition forces had killed at least 28,736 combatants as well as 13,807 civilians in the Iraq War, indicating an essential civilian to combatant casualty ratio of 1:2.[21] It is unclear what percentage of civilians were killed in the initial invasion by the coalition.

    ..
    f the NATO figures are to be believed, the bombings achieved a civilian to combatant kill ratio of about 1:10, on the Yugoslav government's figures, conversely, the ratio would be between 4:1 and 10:1. If the most conservative estimates from the sources cited above are used, the ratio was around 1:1.

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  41. "It's legitimate to think that Israel is wrong and has no right to exist"

    Wrong about what, exactly? Carol, how do you define "legitimate?" I believe Jordan has no right to exist, but who cares about what I think about that? When people "believe" Israel has no right to exist, they act on that with boycotts and harmful violence or other means. So calling that 'legitimate' belief may have quite a different meaning than it normally would. And it is wrong to target Israelis for bodily economic or other harm, no matter what supposed legitimate theoretical "beliefs" a person has. It's pure hate.

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  42. Student V, I meant legitimate as a topic for discussion, not that I agree with that view. Israel can be wrong about
    many things just like any other country. For example, some think that Israel is wrong for building settlements in violation of the international law, others think that it's wrong for not building more settlements and that doing so doesn't violate the international law. The discussion should be open but substantive.

    Incidentally, one of the sources for my comment that was not posted was 'Two Hundred Years Together' a history of Russian-Jewish relations by Alexander Solgenitzin.

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  43. bb said...
    "The only thing supernatural here is your inability to comprehend the fact that many people have a problem with an Israeli occupation of gaza"

    Yes, it does indeed appear supernatural that so much of the world can talk about the "Israeli occupation of Gaza", which is about as close to reality as the fact that the moon is made out of swiss cheese.

    Hamas is smart. The reason they repeat their mantra about "resistance" to "occupation" is because it is useful propaganda for them. Billions of people around the world believe it, act upon it, and organize mass pro-Hamas protests based upon it. That these phrases are empty of any reality doesn't even matter.

    So let's think about the whole picture: Israel once did indeed "occupy" Gaza (rightly or wrongly). Then they handed it over to the PA in a treaty, but there were still settlements. Then Israel uprooted 10,000 citizens from their homes in settlements and withdrew militarily to the very last millimeter (until this very day).

    This was followed by a takeover by Hamas (following legitimate elections), who promptly declared war on Israel as "resistance" to "occupation"! And a huge portion of the world, even people like bb who post on this blog, actually believe it!

    Yes, this is surely a (negative) miracle.

    Shabbat Shalom

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  44. "Actually, most of us in Israel can attest to the IDF's conduct from either first-hand experience or from having spoken to people we know well."

    I agree, I also live in Israel. Doesn't mean the information isn't biased.

    If one believes that all Israelis want to commit genocide against Palestinians, then information from Israel or Israelis is not going to enter the conversation.

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  45. This is something that I have thought about often - a sad but beautiful idea. Well said.

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  46. I'm not saying that I agree with Israel critics, I am probably more pro-Israel, but I am at least able to understand the fact that those on the other side simply feel empathy with a people who are not allowed their own land and live in a situation of some hardship.
    I don't feel the need to consider them all as evil anti-semites just because of a legitimate difference of opinion.

    Oh, and in a completely non supernatural way.

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  47. I am at least able to understand the fact that those on the other side simply feel empathy with a people who are not allowed their own land and live in a situation of some hardship.

    Of course. But that's not what I'm talking about.

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  48. Yes, it is.
    You consider all Israel critics as supernaturally endowed with a mystic hatred for Jews, whereas I can disagree with them while acknowledging that they are probably not supernatural evildoers.

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  49. I never said anything about "all Israel critics."

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  50. 'Some Israeli critics', then.
    Happy?

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  51. R Natan,

    You are mistaken in your understanding of the scientific method. To determine scientific truth you do NOT blindly follow the majority, instead you examine any question case-by-case on its merits. Thus the motto of the Royal Society(1) is “Nullius In Verba” which is Latin for "Take Nobody's Word For It". So in each case to determine scientific truth, you check the facts and the conclusions drawn from those facts. Of course if you do not have the time or inclination to examine the arguments for and against, you may decide it is convenient to follow the majority, but that is convenience, it is NOT science.

    That principal applies even more in politics, for which the rules (insofar as there are any) are much looser than in science. Thus if you want to know who is right, you do NOT blindly follow the majority. Instead you must examine any issue on a case-by-case basis and check the underlying arguments. It is easier to do this in politics, as you do not need any prior scientific knowledge. I am confident that when this is done, Israel’s actions especially when compared to other armies, even the best of them, are proper and correct ON THEIR OWN MERITS. There is no need to invoke the memory of absurd blood libels.

    (1) For non-British readers, the Royal Society's full name is "The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge" http://royalsociety.org. It was founded in 1660 and is the World’s oldest academy of scientists in continuous existence. Sir Isaac Newton was one of its early presidents.

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  52. "Student V, I meant legitimate as a topic for discussion, not that I agree with that view. Israel can be wrong about
    many things just like any other country. For example, some think that Israel is wrong for building settlements in violation of the international law, others think that it's wrong for not building more settlements and that doing so doesn't violate the international law. The discussion should be open but substantive."


    I understand what you're saying, but this is always presented in a binary form (as you unfortunately did at first, probably unintentionally), of course framed that way by the haters who simply hate Jews.

    For example, someone might say "Israel is wrong." The reason I asked you what you meant by wrong is because it doesn't make sense to label a country as "right" or "wrong." And yet, that is what people do, only for Israel, but not to other countries. No one debates whether Egypt (now led by muslim brotherhood) is "wrong," or "right." People just deal with what happened there. They deal with reality now. (or hide from it)

    No one, except a pure hater, takes one thing America does (say, for example, their immigration policy) and then labels the country on the basis of that and says "America is therefore an evil entity." (because I don't like policy x y z).

    There is almost always bias and personal/political gain involved in that type of discussion. Jews can debate amongst ourselves what our country should do. Like Americans can debate theirs. Does it make sense for Englishmen in London to make protest movements over whether Obamacare should be implemented in the USA or not? No, and they do not. But this is what we see regarding Israel.

    Btw those citing NATO figures in regards to former Yugoslavia must not realize the inherent bias there. NATO under bill clinton's direction purposely TARGETED Serbian civilians as a matter of course. Of course they claim those men women and children were legitimate targets and somehow a military engagement because they wish to justify and whitewash their behavior. NATO committed unbridled genocide (not only murder but also expulsion of civilians) for the sake of regional politics and the US agenda toward the muslim world.

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  53. "Like I said, it's somewhat odd to draw faith from something negative."
    I'd like to comment that a friend of mine has also drawn faith from something both terrible and strange. His daughter was born with Tay Sachs. The shock was compounded by the fact that his wife is a Philippine convert. I don't know about the terribleness, but the strangeness of the situation, he says, strengthened his faith.

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  54. To determine scientific truth you do NOT blindly follow the majority, instead you examine any question case-by-case on its merits.

    Obviously. I was talking about cases where one is not qualified to perform such an analysis.

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  55. I agree with this post -- it's occurred to me before that anti-Israel views, and the history of anti-Semitism in general, are pretty good evidence for the truth of Judaism -- all the events of Jewish history seem to be "of Biblical proportions," on a different plane of existence than the rest of the world. Of course, Blaise Pascal had a sort of opposite interpretation, claiming that the poor and oppressed situation of the Jews of his time was further proof of the truth of Christianity. The pro-Judaism interpretation makes so much more sense, though, because Jews have contributed and continue to contribute so much to world civilization (while the oppression of Jews was something the Christians did on purpose to try to prove their superiority, when really all it proved was how barbaric and immoral they were).

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  56. >In the most recent iteration of the conflict, Israel has largely not been condemned for civilian casualties.

    Thats because the conflict ended relatively quickly. No invasion. Had it gone through.....you thnk Human Rights Watch would not condemn?

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  57. Great post R Rlifkin.The commentor who amazingly compared the irrational hatred of jews to thatof black people has to be credited with perhaps the most hateful,idiotic insulting ect commment ever posted here.I will respond with two words ,six million.enough said

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