Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Without Taking A Position on US Politics

I would like to write about something that is related to US politics. Now, it's very dangerous for me to do this. As someone pointed out, for me to take a position on US politics, whatever it is, would instantly alienate half my readership (which seems remarkably evenly divided between pro- and anti-Trump). And I've already alienated enough people, so it doesn't make sense to alienate any more. It also seems to just trigger the most acrimonious arguments among commentators, inevitably ending up in some anti-Trumpists referring to Trumpists as Nazi-enablers, and some Trumpists referring to anti-Trumpists as antisemites. Who knew that the frum Jews comprising my readership include both antisemites and Nazi-enablers?

So that's one of the reasons why I'm not taking any position on US politics. But what if I am writing about something which does not involve my taking a position? No doubt some people will still get mad at me, for not taking a position! "How can you not take a position?! Don't you see that it's your responsibility to say that XYZ?!" Well, to that, I will point out that I am not American, and I don't live in America, and I don't understand what's going on there, and nor am I particularly interested to find out. I just want to comment on one very small aspect of all the political arguments that have been raging for years, during Obama and now Trump, and how it relations to rationalism.

One of the basic principles of Rationalist Judaism is Rambam's maxim that one should accept the truth from wherever it comes. More broadly, that means that one should evaluate statements and positions on their own merits, and not judge them based on who issued them. As Rav Aryeh Carmell ztz"l told me, wise men can say foolish things - and foolish men can say wise things. Great men can do terrible deeds, and terrible men can do great deeds.

Yet, for many years now, the appreciation of this seems to be lacking with certain people on both sides of American politics. For many Jews, whatever Obama did had to be terrible and evil. And for many other Jews, whatever Trump does has to be terrible and evil.

Children in cages. Does the date of this picture
determine how you feel about it?
This was brought to light very sharply in the last few weeks, on both sides. Some of those gushing with praise over Trump engaging with Kim Jong were revealed to have condemned Obama for doing the same. And some of those enraged at pictures of children having been put in cages by Trump suddenly changed their line of criticism when the pictures were revealed to have been taken when Obama was president.

Yes, I am well aware that one can draw distinctions between the two cases, and I'm sure that people will happily do so at great length in the comments section. And it could well be that overall, Trump is a great president, or a terrible president. Again - I'm not American and I don't know, I'm too busy researching other things.

Nevertheless, I think that it's still true that many people are evaluating things not based on their own merits, but based solely on where they are perceived as coming from. Which is a pity, and calls for some self-reflection, as to how much one has been caught up in partisanship. From where this foreigner is sitting, it seems that the great United States of America would be a lot better off if people would dial the tribalism back a notch.

57 comments:

  1. This has nothing to to with "Rationalist Judaism". It's a simple question of honesty. (And please don't be ugly and tell me that Jews who adopt a Kabbalah-influenced understanding of Judaism are dishonest - not true!!). I agree that it is comical to observe Americans (like myself) married to a political party or figure. For a time, I thought conservatives were more honest than liberals. Now, I see that they are not inherently more honest - they just generally have less to be dishonest about!

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  2. I have a friend who was absolutely LIVID when Obama established diplomatic relations with Cuba, but has yet to comment on the recognition that Trump extended to NK. This despite the obvious fact that NK is much more oppressive than Cuba ever was.

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  3. Tribalism is endemic in human nature.

    As is the ability to believe what one wants to hear even when the facts are obviously different.

    I bet there are people who would even believe the moon landings were true if they were told it happened during o's years.

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  4. I'm the only one who is not biasedJune 19, 2018 at 2:35 PM

    Good point. We are all guilty of this in some fashion. And judging by the nature of this blog where 95% of the criticism is focused on one sect of Judaism, I would suggest some self-reflection to the author as well...Sorry, had to do it

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  5. Hypocrisy is part and parcel of politics. The dream of eradicating it has been around for centuries, but it's not going anywhere, b/c its also part of people. And politics, by definition, is about people. And every one of us is guilty of hypocrisy. Just as a simple example - today you say ideas should be evaluated on their merits, not based on the character of the men who said them. But yesterday you argued that allegations of misconduct was a reason to ban a man's books. And of course, that itself was hypocrisy, as others pointed out.

    Naturally, one can always distinguish or rationalize hypocrisy. Often people don't even see hypocrisy in themselves, they can only see it in others. It's the way we are built.

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  6. As Jews, our allegiance is to the Torah, which, by definition, does not match any secular political ideology. Our mission requires us to stay above the fray.

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    1. Why 'by definition'?
      See Rabbi Sacks on the concept of covenantal politics...
      Also, it would seem that, at least, the official voices of American orthodoxy disagree with you....

      http://hakirah.org/Vol23Adlerstein.pdf

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    2. I would agree with the first part, but your second point would mean that Judaism has nothing to contribute at all.

      Another approach would be to openly say when the Torah agrees with each side rather than choosing one side or the other and contorting everything about that side to superficially fit the Torah. As an example, R. Leo Jung of the mid-20th century described how socialism's emphasis on providing a floor to everyone's living standard derives from the Torah as does capitalism's allowance for the industrious to enjoy the fruits of their honest labor.

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    3. Neither Adlerstein, nor Sacks, are authorities on Torah. That takes Torah scholars, not pulpit prattlers or internet phenomena

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    4. It's true that the Torah doesn't match any political party's platform. It never has and never will. But the Torah is capable of interpretation, and we tend to interpret things the way we think. So its natural that most Rs will see the Torah as mostly on their side, and vice versa for the Ds. (And of course, for every other party too.) The parts of the Torah incompatible with our political positions are distinguished by us as inapplicable to modern times or modern countries.

      Delete
    5. Zich,

      I was going to be facetious (it just comes more naturally to me), but I decided to respond serotonin your comment.

      I don't know Alderstein at all, so I'll leave that one aside, but Rabbi Sacks I would argue has a better grasp on Jewish philosophy than almost anyone out there. He clearly grasps the implications of Jewish history and thought as few others do. Many more accomplished Talmud scholars may be able to quote chapter and verse but their ability to think through the implications of it in terms of daily political theory is pretty scant. Want proof? See how the Talmud Scholars have created vast networks of sustainable poverty in their communities. And in America it's a network of political goons who consistently bite the public purse that feeds them. Not so astute in the long run. And that's before we talk about the disastrous communal isolationism as the political result of the Talmud Scholars leadership.

      'Anyone' can write some comments on a sugya. It takes a Sacks to write Future Tense, or the sections of the Sacks hagadda on freedom or even The Dignity of Difference

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    6. The problem with Zichron's claim is that "Torah" is far too vague and ambiguous a term. Do you mean Gemara? Halacha? Theology? And do you mean adhering to a particular school of thought, or being aware of multiple schools of thought? The charedi "Gedolim" are usually Talmudists and occasionally halachists, but almost never theologians.

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    7. I don't understand where Charedi gedolim come in here. They are not under discussion.

      Is Rabbi Sacks a historian? Or did he take some stories and create a narrative to fit his own personal beliefs? His 'grasp' of history may have led him to emerge with beliefs that are in sync with you, but he is no historian.

      His theology is likewise. He can quote whatever wikipedia has to say in the name of Reb Saadya Gaon or Maimonides, but her is no scholar. He has no scholarly output, although he is not reticent about his self promotion.

      Reb Gedalya Nadel, as an example, was a theologian. Because he knew the theology of Judaism. He did not deliver pulpit speeches and shoot from the gut on the topics of the day.

      Sacks is no Nadel.

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    8. I would have thought, given his politics, that Zichron Devarim would like Sacks.

      I got an impassioned email from Sacks a month or two ago (not personally sent to me obviously) about how shocked and depressed he was by the rise of anti-semitism in the UK. This is after dozens of emails from him about how important it is that the UK let in Islamic migrants. Occam's razor suggests he is just not that smart. I mean can anyone actually read 'Not in G-d's name' and not be at least slightly embarrassed?

      Sacks essentially drew on common stereotypes about what an intellectual is supposed to look like (e.g. those weird photos he always has looking slightly confused and pained while looking at something just to the left of the camera for no reason) and made a nice little earner out of it. His entire schtick is taking things that 80% of people agree with and then explaining why it's really Jewish teaching by over reading of various stories in the face of unambiguous sources that say the precise opposite. It's a pretty stunning indictment of contemporary Judaism that he's one of the experts on Jewish theology.

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    9. Beef, much?
      It doesn't sound much like you've read his books (try his earlier stuff like 'Arguments for the sake of heaven' and 'Tradition in an Untraditional Age' to see how he grasps history...
      I may be wrong about you, but if you have read his stuff then you know he knows his stuff.

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    10. Gabriel m,

      "His entire schtick is taking things that 80% of people agree with and then explaining why it's really Jewish teaching"...

      You are displaying a stunning ignorance of what Rabbi Sacks presents.

      Thank God that a rabbi finally wrote "not in God's name" a sharp indictment of the problems within orthodox Judaism today, particularly as it relates to non-Jewish cultures.

      His earlier books challenge contemporary orthodox Judaism to behave more socially responsibly ("to heal a fractured world") and to begin engaging in dialogue as jews on matters facing humankind today rather than just digging deeper into isolationism and decrying all goyim as inherently anti-semitic

      He presented a historically based, theologically faithful and coherent series of books on these topics. Noone else out there has done anything like that. Not YU, not Gush, not YCT and certainly not anyone from the right.

      So, no you and zich are wrong. Badly so.

      Delete
    11. The thing is, theologically faithful isn't entirely accurate.

      It seems that you are happy that he found a way to tell Jews that we are not too different to anybody else and we will all get along with his revelation. The problem is, he never proved his point. He just says things without sources and places the burden of proof on his detractors.

      Judaism had a revelation, other religions didn't. How could he claim that all religions are equal? (Dignity of difference)

      Most of his positions are equally unsourced. He may make people feel better about their place as Jews in the outside world, but they are not scholarly positions.

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    12. Rabbi Sacks doesn't seem so concerned as you do as to the question of "we're right/they aren't". Perhaps because you are so focused on that you missed his point. The dignity of difference doesn't really ask your question. It deals with the issue of how to live given that we are all בצלם אלקים. (I presume you don't argue with what the Torah says explicitly....)

      He explicitly points out that Jews and Judaism is different and that each culture has what to bring to the table. That's not the same as being 'the same as'.

      I don't want to sound design rude, but I really think you should try re-reading his books without prejudices to what you think he is saying. Then you might hear what he is actually saying.

      Delete
  7. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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    1. and many good men are trying to do something. it started with voting for trump, and continues with supporting his positions on a variety of issues (immigration is one among many, and far from the most important). but the power of the media, and the viciousness of the left, are such that good men doing something does not seem to be preventing the triumph of evil.

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    2. All it takes for men to be good is to act like good little republicans and vote for trump. Women of course find it harder to hold their noses that tight and vote for a character (word used quite loosely) like that. They may actually think that increasing debt on future generations to back disproven voodoo economics like 'trickle down' is a bad idea, even if it has small.minded people happy in the short term.
      They might actually think that positively alienating allies while cozying up to adversaries and enemies is wrong. (Of course, the right wing pundits accused Obama of that. Because he didn't automatically adopt allies' positions, he was 'alienating' them, unable to differentiate between actual alienation and only mild support)
      They might actually think that protecting the enviroment from rapacious and predatory corporations is a higher priority than simple people trying to make a better life for themselves
      They might actually think that alienating a segment of society is too high a price to pay for the perceived security benefits of 'no more Muslims'. They might demand proof of these benefits before embarking on something as counter productive as that.

      Those women...... Who allowed them out of the kitchen?

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    3. They may actually think that increasing debt on future generations to back disproven voodoo economics like 'trickle down' is a bad idea, even if it has small.minded people happy in the short term.

      This really proves the point of the post: https://www.thebalance.com/us-debt-by-president-by-dollar-and-percent-3306296

      Watching people flip around from 'deficits matter' to 'deficits don't matter' based on no consideration other than which party is in power is a joke that's not funny any more. Democratic politics is so stupid and inane that no person can engage in it and remain decent. The whole loathsome system might be justifiable if it actually led to good government, but, as the debt figures - among countless other indicators - show that's not even remotely true.

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  8. Although there is some discussion here in the US about the living conditions of the children, that is not the focus of the discussion. Most of it is about separating children from their parents, including families who legally come to a port of entry seeking asylum. This is something that has not been done before, and is doing irreparable harm to the children.

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  9. Thank you. Now start evaluating *some* positions of Conservative Judaism, like the Lieberman Clause, on their merits, not on their source.

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    1. You have it exactly backawards. Shaul Lieberman was far and away the greatest talmid chacham of the 20th century, but the clause is the wrong solution to the wrong problem.

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    2. "Shaul Lieberman was far and away the greatest TC of the 20th century"

      I respect your opinion, and I used to think that, too, but I no longer think so. Recently I acquired his Tosefta, and I was profoundly disappointed. Almost a fanatical preoccupation with differing versions (a great many with no material difference) and very little substantive analysis.

      He had a gigantic amount of learning, for sure, and his knowledge of Greek literature (perhaps Roman too, not sure) was staggering. However, probably bc of his iconoclastic nature, he devoted so much attention to the Yerushalmi that he seemed to neglect the far-more important Bavli. He engaged very little in traditional forms of learning, which, despite abuses, remains the dominant method for good reasons. And although his Hebrew was excellent, he was nevertheless not the clearest of writers.

      (Of course, with all that, I know I am just a flea on a flea, and RSL is still a great horse.)

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    3. Gavriel M: Assuming the L clause is valid, allowing a group of rabbis to determine if a marriage should be ended or not, opens up a roughshod group to declare a marriage active, despite rationalism, if the other side decides its more lucrative for them.
      Let the parties work it out.

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  10. >>>
    From where this foreigner is sitting, it seems that the great United States of America would be a lot better off if people would dial the tribalism back a notch.
    <<<

    One could say the same about Israel. And -- to your credit -- you have said it.

    But that's the view from "outside". From inside the US -- with a two-party system, which tends to reward "compromise" within one's own party, and sharp division from the "other" party -- the situation is more complicated.

    It's difficult to run a political campaign with the slogan:

    . . . "The other side has some good ideas!"

    The "tribes" are shifting. Many supporters of Trump might have been members of the Democratic party, fifty years ago. Issues and allegiances change.

    . Charles Cohen

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  11. Surely this extends to politics in general - not just American and not just today's. Rabbi Hershel Schachter once quoted Rabbi Soloveichik as saying, "politics is sheker, simply sheker. If that's the case, why do we call it politics, why don't we call it sheker? Because then the name would be honest, but there's nothing honest about it."
    As someone who is a fan of yours and whose views have been dramatically influenced by your words on this blog, I am voicing my wish that you write more about Rationalist Judaism again. You have insightful things to say about abuse in the community, US politics, Israeli politics and many other things. And it is your blog and you can use it for whatever you wish - you doesn't 'owe' anyone anything. So it's just a wish that I'm expressing. Yelamdeinu Rabbeinu. There is so much unexplored about a rationalist approach to Judaism. Even the wealth that has been shared on this page is still just a drop in bucket (or an ancient k'zayit compared to a modern k'zayit).
    Either way, I wish you continued success -in good health- in writing, teaching, inspiring, and all your wonderful endeavors.

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  12. 1. Rabbi Slifkin, I think it is wise that you refrain from taking a position on anything related to U.S. politics.

    2. The emotional tension related to politics in the U.S.A. naturally rises and peaks when there is political upheaval such as during elections. However, for the past few years the political climate in the U.S.A. has been at a sustained high level of tension and has been rising with even without the political upheavals of imminent elections. Political and behavioral scientists are studying this phenomenon. Some say it is fueled by the widespread use of Facebook use and other social media which makes money by sparking political division - the more people are upset, the more they argue, the more time they will spend online arguing, the more money the social media platform makes. Fans the flames of political divisions and reinforcing political extremes is good for business. There are other theories, but whatever the reason, with the rise of political tension in the U.S.A. over the past decade and rising in leaps and bounds, where people are moving more towards political extremes rather than political centers, it would be wise to not only refrain from taking a position on American politics, but to refrain from commenting on it as well. When punches are flying it's best to stay out of the ring, even if you're only an observer. And make no mistake - in American politics these days, the punches are always flying.

    3. I am not sure if you realize that outside of the U.S. coastal states where the majority of religious Jews live, there are major racial tensions which fuel a lot of politics and political identity in the U.S.A. Although our Civil War was 150 years ago, there are many Americans in non-coastal states whose identities are enmeshed with the politics of race, not to mention religion and gun-culture. Meaning, the concept of “Identity Politics” is very real in the U.S.A. which complicates things even further. It is yet another reason it would be wise for you to steer clear of commenting on U.S.A. politics

    4. In one of your earlier posts when you commented on American politics, I intended to point out the following but missed the chance to do so and am posting it here instead. You referred to "Trump Derangement Syndrome" and I wanted to point out that the expression first began being used 10 years ago with "Obama Derangement Syndrome" when Obama became president and many Republicans were extremely upset, seeing everything Obama did through a lens of extreme negativity.

    4 - About compromise - it used to be a positive trait for politicians to claim success at "working on both sides of the aisle" which in the USA means to successfully work with the other party in our current 2-party political system.

    5 - There are many people who read your blog who do not post comments nor send you emails. How then, can you to know how many of your readers are Pro Trump, Anti Trump, or apathetic to Trump, or how many are Democrats, Republicans or Independents? Some people avoid discussing politics these days simply to stay out of the fray.

    6. Because you have recently expressed your position on Trump on this blog and shared your thoughts and positions about current American politics, when you post a picture and ask a question in the caption all related to American politics it is somewhat insincere to then say, “Without taking a position.” You took a position in recent weeks. Therefore, your question regarding your claimed non-positioned point only acts to reinforce your expressed position and acts as commentary.

    7. I am proudly anti-Trump and against his policies and politics of government; please list me in the correct column in your running tally.

    8. Because you brought it up, following is something to consider in the discussion about immigrant children placed in cages and holding pens.
    http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/392852-trump-cannot-blame-policy-of-separating-children-on-obama

    - Michapeset

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    1. Anonymous,

      1. How much difference do you think one president or another really makes?

      2. Do you think the rise in tension has to do with the economic situation of america?

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    2. I'm pretty sure that "Bush Derangement Syndrome" came first. If not first, then at least before "Obama Derangement Syndrome."

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    3. Torila: Agreed. I haven't heard about a movie about the assassination of a president in Obama years. But there was one about Bush 43, well attended by those subscribing to your bush derangement syndrome.

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  13. Regardless of whether you think Trump is immoral, amoral or whatever how can anyone who is pro Israel not view what he has done with the embassy move and now with UNHRC move as something inherently good and worthy of unabashed support? It is almost certain that these and other similar actions - that draw a clear line between inherently good regimes and inherently bad ones (so refreshing in a world so full of falsehood) - would not have occurred under a Clinton presidency (or any other democrat).

    Trump is not perfect but nor was Bill Clinton a paragon of morality and nor were many other “great” American presidents. So holding onto “morality” as a reason for disdaining Trump beyond redemption seems to be perhaps a little hypocritical at best and perhaps also just a bit petty and pig headed.

    Your Israeli brothers and sisters remain perplexed by some of their Jewish American counterparts.

    Sometimes Trump

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    Replies
    1. Changing the sign from Consul to Embassy is irrelevant optics and the price that is liable to be exacted for this is too much. The idea that all is forgiven for something as irrelevant as this is ludicrous

      If anything, you should become putin supporters. Israel has had much more benefit from him in the past few months than Trump ever could. The only close contender is Obama, who may have said all kinds of things, but came through when it actually counted

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    2. “Irrelevant optics” is your opinion and one which I and many would strongly disagree with. And your justification about the price to pay as being liable to be too high... well first of all that’s speculative and thus far incorrect and secondly- Dershowitz wrote a book for people like you. It’s called “why terrorism works” (iirc) you should give it a read.

      Now what about the UNHRC move? How you going to spin that one so that you can continue to smugly disdain trump as the root of all evil?

      Sometimes (perhaps more often than not) Trump

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    3. What practical benefit has the UNHRC move brought to Jews?

      This is all one big לשיטתיה. Trump, lile many of his supporters, does not appreciate nuance and subtlety and his confuses form with substance. Which is why he did Jews a major favor by doing nothing beneficial for them.

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    4. I know a family who bought a flat on paper in TalPaz 10 years ago, construction of which was then stopped because of the settlement freeze. They have had to pay mortgage payments on top of rent for that period. A few months after Trump was elected construction started and as of July they will finally be able to collect rent although they are not able to fufill their original dream of living there.

      Trump brings real benefit to Jews like this every day. You don't have to care (well, actually, you do, but lets stick with the rhetoric), but don't deny reality.

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    5. So if a Jew was an investor in one of the immigrant detention facilities, which made huge amounts of money in the recent weeks, I would have to admit that he is good for the jews?

      Please, let us remove the frivolous arguments and narrowly focused stories and deal on the major scale, like a president should. Is the state of israel more secure due to embassy movings and UNHRC resignations? Is the economy of its citizens any better off? One person collecting rent just means someone else isn't. Let's keep focus

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    6. For the sake of argument let's assume that the State of Israel is neither more or less secure nor more or less better off as a result of these moves - would you not be in support of these moves as inherently good moves? Are you not in favor of truth over falsehood?

      And if Clinton or Obama had wrought them would you not be singing their praises?

      I think you need to do some some soul searching and examine your motives. Trump is no saint and may have a slightly dodgy past but he has done some inherently good things - which is what this blog post is all about. There have been many figures historically who were not necessarily known for being particularly benevolent but are recognized for the good things they brought to bear. The exact same reckoning applies here. To deny that is almost to be small-minded beyond redemption - just not worth debating someone who is going to find fault with an individual or party no matter the issue.

      And again, I urge you to read Dershowitz's book as mentioned above. Not giving into terrorism - yes long term we are much better off.

      Simon

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    7. Your (mostly) ad hominem attack does not deserve an answer.

      But the idea of 'truth' being 'an embassy in Jerusalem' as an absolute fact, is just another sample of blind following the leader. As far as I am concerned, the only benefit of a state of Israel is the security and wellbeing of Jews. If there is net loss of life, it is not worth it. The symbolism of Hebrew letters in a newspaper is not worth a whit to me. That is why I couldn't care less about this embassy sign hanging on a building.
      Again, Putin the evil has done much more to assist the security of the people who live in Israel, as had the new Saudi crown prince. They deserve more thanks than Trump.

      Delete
    8. Zichron

      It's extraordinarily naive to think that optics don't matter, on a number of levels. Just to name a few, Jews claim a historical right to Israel, of which Jerusalem has been the centerpiece. The US's recognition of that historical reality sends a message to the world that Israel has legitimacy.

      On another level, Palestinians receive foreign aid from the US, and as such, are more limited in what they can do if they see that the US is firmly behind Israel. The recognition also removes Jerusalem from the negotiating table in a potential peace deal.

      Delete
    9. The topic is not Putin or the Saudi prince. It is Trump. Those can be addressed separately.

      If the the statement of "not worth debating someone who is going to find fault with an individual or party no matter the issue" is considered an ad hominem attack then I stand by it.

      I would expect no less comment sent my way if I considered everything that Obama or Clinton did to be bad regardless of the issue. And same vis-a-vis Trump if I supported him regardless of the issue.

      That would me someone who is unwilling to do any kind of unbiased critical analysis. If calling a spade a spade is considered to be an ad hominem attack then so be it (but I'd personally consider it to be an attempt to deflect and avoid addressing the issue).

      Simon

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  14. 'Rambam's maxim that one should accept the truth from wherever it comes."

    Case in point: Bikoret Hamikra.

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    1. Right. Bible criticism is a pseudo discipline, based on nothing but a belief that the traditional תורה מן השמים position is untenable, which is in turn based on a circular argument

      The credentials of its proponents is irrelevant. Foolishness is foolishness, even when its study is scholarship

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    2. Wisdom is superior to folly
      As light is superior to darkness;
      A wise man has his eyes in his head,
      Whereas a fool walks in darkness.
      (Kohelet 2:13-14)

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    3. Are you appealing to the authority of scripture even as you attempt to justify Bible criticism?

      Delete
    4. Surely, Zichron:

      דִּבְרֵי פִי-חָכָם, חֵן; וְשִׂפְתוֹת כְּסִיל, תְּבַלְּעֶנּוּ
      תְּחִלַּת דִּבְרֵי-פִיהוּ, סִכְלוּת; וְאַחֲרִית פִּיהוּ, הוֹלֵלוּת רָעָה

      The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.
      The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness; and the end of his talk is grievous madness.

      Delete
    5. Bikoret Hamikra has added a new dimension to my Torah learning. I have become conscious of the history of the text. And I appreciate what I don't know about that history. It gives me the drive to learn more.

      Delete
    6. moshe lerman,
      your appreciating that you don't know the history of the text may drive you to learn more, but what you are learning is no longer torah.

      Delete
    7. Why is it no longer learning torah? I'd that because true Torah learning must be completely superficial to be acceptable?

      Delete
  15. ...evaluating things not based on their own merits, but based solely on where they are perceived as coming from...

    OK, here is a hypothetical case. We are analyzing a chess game of two grandmasters. Commentator A (Kasparov) says the best move for whites would this, and commentator B (Dr.Slifkin) says, no, it would be that. Are we going to evaluate these comments based on "their own merits" or based on who they came from? If we can pass through this case, we can advance to a 2nd hypothetical case. We are discussing a Halachic question, and HaGra says this, and a zoologist doctor says that. How are we going to evaluate this?

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  16. Still proud of being from the UK?
    https://www.timesofisrael.com/uk-defends-referring-to-jerusalems-old-city-as-occupied-by-israel/

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    1. When did I ever say that I was proud of being from the UK?

      Delete
  17. Regarding your not being american (besides British and Israeli).
    You never know when you might need another passport. My cousin, born and bred (and practicing law) in your old hometown, tells me once she has to get her US visa renewed to visit the US (and do lowly work to advance her shidduch prospects). Turns out, her mother never got US citizenship in her 3 decades living in US (and she really needs a work visa, which she'll never get, but its not a teal job anyway, so wasn't a problem.)

    Point is, you never know how these documents help. As the billionaire owner of your hometown soocer team found out when the Brits refused him a visa, he got around it by getting an Israeli passport which does not require an advance visa.

    Get a US passport based on your wife. Your children should have the same. (And your wife a British passport, assuming she qualifies.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adam from MANCHESTERJune 25, 2018 at 6:35 PM

      How the very DARE you?
      Roman Abramowitz never owned a football (proper football not your American 'game') club in Rav Slifkin's hometown!!
      :-)

      Delete
  18. there are disadvantages to us citizenship as well as advantages. eg. new set of tax declarations to make, even if you are not resident

    ReplyDelete

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