“The life unexamined is not worth living.” [Plato, Apology]
“In the affairs of this world, men are not saved by faith, but by avoiding and surpassing it.” [Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac].
In these days, across the aisle hatred and violence has assumed an everyday occurrence, a virtual normality. In the US, democracy has failed. In Israel, it never existed.
Back on February 6, 2022, famed historian Victor Davis Hanson penned, “Joe Biden is the most dangerously radical president in US history.” He not only made the statement, but set out to prove it. For Hanson, Biden made “a Faustian bargain with the Left that he has a veneer of FDR,” the new deal, he tried to pack the court.
On every aspect, the judicial appointments, open borders with 2 million people arriving in 11 months, the Afghanistan fiasco, the deliberate printing of money, a 2 million deficit, a 30 trillion dollar national debt, the energy crisis, the mandates, and by far not the least, daily violence . In fact what it amounts to is a drastic reversal of nearly all the major events undertaken by President Trump.
To Hanson, it represents a level of radicalism not seen in previous presidents.
Equally brilliant Rabbi Berel Wein makes use of biblical character Noach to make the case. Commencing with the period between Adam and Noach, he points to prevalent chaos and eventual destruction. Standing aside, few like Chanoch were moral and positive, but had minimal success.
“Our world, and all our societies, to a great extent, copycat structures of those days.” Using the expression, “everyone is doing it,” Wein explains how today’s immoral behavior mimics immoral behavior from childhood, with never ending excuses and removal of responsibility and acceptance of it being societal norm.
He has observed how the slow erosion of morality, good behavior and godly faith is a constant challenge to all societies, and if no one stands up against it, those societies are eventually doomed to their own self-destruction. In strict chronological order he points to the 10 generations that led up to the Great Flood sinking into this morass of evil without realizing it! Apparently, they were merely repeating the actions of the generations before them, and what they found was everyone else behaving in a similar fashion.
Rabbi Wein observes, “Evil and immoral behavior are very easily accepted in general and mass society.
Evil and immoral behavior are very easily accepted in general and mass society. This notion explains Nazism in Germany and Stalinism in the Soviet Union. It also helps describe much of what is transpiring in Western society today. In the eyes of Jewish scholarship and tradition, Noach is found wanting, given his inaction.
This is readily understood in that he displayed neither faith nor reason in his behavior. He was unable to identify evil for what it is, and to declare a viable alternative for human beings to adopt and follow? Could he have done more? We shall never know.
Commentary featured Meir Y Soloveichik’s brilliant “Anti-Semitism The Bones of the Blood Libel” in their October 2022 issue. Contrary to common belief, the blood libel of old did not originate in Eastern Europe, or the Middle East, but in England. In 1144, a tanner’s assistant by the name of William was found dead on the outskirts of Norwich. William’s hagiographer, Thomas of Monmouth, claimed that Norwich’s Jews had killed William, obeying the orders of an international gathering of Jews. William was made a saint by the Church.
The consequence manifested itself in pogroms over the next several decades, including Norwich in 1190. Then followed the fervor of the Crusades. From Norwich, the blood libel spread through the world, effecting Jewish life everywhere. In advance of Passover, hundreds of years after William’s death, the Jews of Damascus were accused of murdering a monk by the name of Father Thomas. This resulted in the imprisonment, torture and death of members of the Syrian Jewish community. Soloveichik continues, “By taking the tale of the origin of Jewish closeness – the exodus from Egypt – and turning it into a pernicious plan for annual evildoing, the libel illustrates how, as Robert Nicholson once wrote. hatred of Jews “isn’t any old hatred or racism. It is a grand anti-myth that turns Jewish chosenness on its head and assigns to the people of Israel responsibility for all the world’s ills.”
By taking the tale of the origin of Jewish chosenness—the exodus from Egypt—and turning it into a pernicious plan for annual evildoing, the libel illustrates how, as Robert Nicholson once wrote, hatred of Jews “isn’t just any old hatred or racism. It is a grand anti-myth that turns Jewish chosenness on its head and assigns to the people of Israel responsibility for all the world’ ills.”
We need to understand that the blood libel is not a thing of the past. It is ongoing.” The world is all too prepared to bemoan the injustice against the Jews in the past and yet all too ready to overlook those who purvey blood libels today.”
It is to be seen in the successful career of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. The congresswoman has taken the rhetorical dishonesty about Israel to an entirely new level, linking – like libelists of old – purported Jewish activity to grievances around the world.
In referring to the situation at the Mexican-American border, she accused, without offering any evidence, Israel of placing Palestinian children in cages. Ocasio-Cortez’s career reminds one that “There are blood libels and then there are blood libels on steroids. Her presence in Congress is an embarrassment and her incitement goes almost totally unremarked on.
How we react by identifying and calling out the liars and the libelists, that we can “honestly hope the murdered Jews of Norwich will rest in peace.”
Jewish Center for Public Affairs published Fiamma Niranstein’s “Jews and the Left” on January 14, 2020. This much acclaimed author and heroin asks the burning question, “Why do Jewish citizens tend to lean to the left, despite all the anti-Semitism harbored by the left wing groups or parties under the guise of ‘criticism of Zionism’ or of Israel?” An introductory episode provides an answer. On August 19, 2019, Israel denied entry to a newly elected Democrat Congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, who is of Palestinian origin, together with another newly elected Democrat Congresswoman, Ilhan Omar.
The reason: “the two are exponents of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions [BDS] movement and have made several statements of clear hatred for Israel and Jews.”
After the initial denial, Tlaib was later allowed to enter Israel, which she referred to as Palestine, for the purpose of visiting her grandmother. She then declined. Other countries, which are judged by normal standards, deny entry to those who advocate their destruction. Yet, even with the humanitarian permission granted to Tlaib, as usual, Israel was not forgiven by international public opinion, including the media.
In her lengthy Op-Ed, Niranstein had much to say about Obama and his treatment of American Jews. “But, during the Obama administration, everything changed.” Apparently, Jewish sense of guilt was augmented by the immense process of cultural contrition, that was prompted by the accession of a black president.
She opined that Obama contributed much to the cultural hegemony of the sense of guilt, transforming American pride into persistent contrition. As regards Israel, he laid the onus of guilt on the “territories”, forgetting that they are “disputed” according to the UN; instead, they became just “occupied.”
“Like Saint Francis, Obama tried to appease the wolf Iran, wholeheartedly ignoring its overt, genocidal anti-Semitic aspiration. What did he care?”
Fiamma Niranstein rightly observed, “With Obama, a turning point arrived.”