A quick snack

Israel Eichler, former Knesset member from the Haredi United Torah Judaism party: “A person who converts and does not fulfill the mitzvahs is not a Jew.”

So by your standards, Mr. Eichler, am I not a Jew?

(And the most distressing part of this all is that these questions are actually given debate time in the Knesset. Theocracy.)

Thanks to NIF’s twitter for this one.


One thought on “A quick snack

  1. Look, as a nice Jewish Muslim boy growing up in Brooklyn, I should know a thing or two, and let me tell you, killing Palestinians per se is not one of the mitzvahs.
    But funny you should come along.
    Here is a quip you may enjoy–you figure in the following email correspondence indirectly, as you see:
    As Audrey titled the page in her blog, “Empowerment”.
    Let me describe a scene last night at Sacred Heart Church in Portland and see if you recognize it. Veterans for Peace and Buddhists (saffron robes and all) spent a week walking across Maine and pulled into Portland yesterday, destination, for a pot luck in the evening. A lot of “hurray for us” speeches and then Bruce Gagnon opened the floor for comments. A word about the Earth, a word about the two parties being the same, then I stood up. It was chance that this was the day my لن نصمت t-shirt (“we will not be silent” in subtitles–from Code Pink) was on the top of the t-shirt stack and this was also my day to donate blood, so I had a very competent looking red sticky-gauze dressing around my left elbow and the Red Cross “I make a difference” name tag (to warn people to be nice to me, you know?) on my shirt (off to the side so you could read the logo on the shirt). So I said, roughly,
    “If you want to rap on the base of the power structure, say something about Israel, about the separation of church and state, about equality under the law.
    “If you rap on the base of the power structure with that kind of inquiry, you’ll feel the whole thing shake. That tells you it’s a man-made thing, artificial, and so you can ask about what it’s good for, why it’s here. (I nodded to the woman who was worried that spending money on the military was hastening the destruction of the biosphere.)
    “And you’ll be empowering yourself, finding your own competency. You’re doing triage, and locating the biggest problem that needs facing first.
    Let me interject that there were fairly long pauses between my little paragraphs. I knew by sight maybe a quarter of the people in the room, it was a familiar room to me, and I kind of owned the real estate intellectually and culturally. Let me summarize the audience reaction as their being seasoned enough that they did not instantly shut me off when I said “Israel”. They did not panic. They listened.
    “So the question is, what are you doing here–are you trying to find your competency, to empower yourself?”

    Three maybe more people made comments from the floor before Bruce closed the meeting. This was his show, “Bring the War$ Home”, and woe, alas, for the global corporate power structure.
    A girl from West Bath sang one more song. The last commenter said she’d thought we were here to celebrate our accomplishment, and that she’d like another song.
    I said, from up front, “Sing something you really believe . . . something you like.” She’d been with the gang, the what-not Grayed Children’s Crusade, for several days, and she said, “Here’s a song I wrote a short while ago about a Muslim social center in the WTC neighborhood.” The chorus started with mentioning the people who’d “worked, marched, and sung” for so long but we seemed to have forgotten what the point was, and so “will we have to start from Ground Zero again?”
    I said, aside, when she was done, “Well, we have to start somewhere.”

    So my flash today, which you are poised to receive, is that Israel is getting ready to kill itself, as it has been for sixty two years and more, and Bibi is the latest cult-leader guarding the poison kool-ade vats.
    But the real star of this show is the US WASP power structure, without whom Israel would not be possible. Those are the people who want to commit suicide. The look in the eyes, the tones in the voices, the byplay between the Veterans for Peace officials, even the guarded attitude of the Buddhist monks, was that this room was getting ready to drink the kool-ade because it was the only right thing to do.
    Israel is the device, the kool-ade vat, but the King of Jonestown is, at the moment, Barack Obama.
    I can’t tell you why a nation decides to commit suicide. Israel is a nation which decided that long ago and doesn’t know it yet. But the US knows it.
    The book I’m reading, from 1981, is a canny fore-shadowing of what would happen in the US if, say, three thousand people died suddenly and mysteriously from something that had some link to long-standing secret government projects and policies.
    Think of the theme-song of M*A*S*H*, “Suicide is Painless, It Brings on Many Changes.” Dr. Strangelove, the SAC pilot riding the bomb down out of the bomb-bay at the end, “How I learned to love the bomb and stop worrying.”
    The original plot of “Dr. No,” the James Bond thriller by Ian Fleming, 1960-ish, was that the good doctor had set up a suicide clinic for the terminally bored, and MI6 had to shut it down before too many valuable public servants killed themselves. Ian Fleming killed himself, for what light that sheds on his plot there.
    Nazi Germany was a mass, democratic suicide attempt that largely succeeded.
    How can you tell when someone is getting ready to commit suicide? I had a policeman tell me, in the process of my father’s suicide, that in the last twenty-four hours, the perp/victim has already made up his mind and is no longer reachable by others.
    The majority, the power structure, of the people in that room at Sacred Heart last night, the church hall in the basement, have signed on to a death trip. The woman who ended the possibly ambiguous comments–were they seconding my remarks or trying to move peace-making back into airy-fairy land?–had the look of someone who ain’t afraid of death, and some of you may need a little nudge to drain that last good cup of cheer so I’ll be there to sustain you in this noble mortal venture. Can you imagine a face like that?
    So Israel is going to blow up the world though it is so delegitimized/demoralized/demented that it thinks only of security, making the world safe for some impossible notion of a Jewish community. By blowing up the world, down to the last treacherous Jew.
    But the US, watching this happen, is the one who sees where it’s headed, and which can’t trouble itself to stir (I heard Condoleezza Rice this week on the radio–there’s someone to run your suicide camp, featuring the poor Israeli kids who only want to die in peace–and Condy will make their shrouds all nice and spiffy) because this is the easy way, the graceful way, the done way, to take the easy way out.
    So I’m asking you. You must have encountered some people on the verge of committing suicide. Don’t their faces go dead first? Doesn’t it all make more sense to them to die, bas, kwisha, no questions asked (Swahili comes to mind, I don’t know why–how do you talk to the crazy white man?)?
    Well, that’s not the end of the story. Take the senior female Death Camp guard speaking there last night, about celebrating the achievement of the peace marchers (enough of this traitorous talk about what we’re doing here in any earthly practical sense) and it’s time for another song. (Another post-me commenter was encouraged to speak louder–these people, none of them, have ever spoken to people who needed to hear what they say–not like a sergeant talking to soldiers in her command who regards those soldiers as her hands and feet, which she does not stick willy-nilly into a fire–and this commenter explained that her voice was weak from having chanted with the Buddhist monks all day long on the road. Sorry, I can’t talk, I’ve been praying and have to rest my voice.)
    Does that camp sergeant, whose one command for her charges is, “Prepare to die!”, really want to die?
    Can one wish for nothing? Wish for extinction? Take this book I’m reading, by Michael Shaara, author of “Killer Angels”, a Pulitzer-winning (1975) account of the battle of Gettysburg, whose two other books feature, apparently, the same protagonist (1968, “The Broken Place”, and 1981, “The Herald”), who talks to the God who isn’t there. In the earlier book he learned to accept that there was absolutely nothing to believe in. He learned to believe in absolutely nothing. That’s a pretty good way to define “incomprehensible”, which is perhaps the highest name of God. It’s the nothing you can’t stop talking about. In the later book, the protagonist, with a different name and history, but continuing the earlier protagonist’s spiritual journey, now talks all the time to this God who isn’t there.
    But to wish to go to that God by killing yourself, that’s a totally different thing. That’s not reaching out in the darkness, that’s spitting in God’s face, as faceless as God is. That’s the definition of sin. That’s refusing to talk to God. That’s trying to pull God down to your level. It’s Luciferian.
    The protagonist at the end of the first book realizes that he’d always hated, hated. People had noticed how much he noticed of everything, what a bright chap he was and what a tragedy it was that he was wasting his life as a prize-fighter and wasting his love–but they were just all tools of his trade, in his war against the God who had to be there, or in behalf of the God who had to be there, to account for all the pain and confusion. This was Jonah with a vengeance. So he gets hit in the head once too many times, wanders on a hilltop in Vermont in the snow, gets found, says to his girlfriend and his college/war buddy the doctor, “I made my peace with them.” Them? But that’s the end of the book. His wrecked drunken father had finally sought him out and confessed that he’d never been able to accept . . . . The son had never been able to accept, he refused to accept, he’d discovered earlier, that there was absolutely nothing to believe in. And all the while there was this dark shadow somewhere in his mind waiting to trap him and make him dreamy, like he’d gotten in the Korean War before he wandered off toward the enemy, intending to die, but ending up a shot-up war hero.
    So the son discovers that when he accepted that there was absolutely nothing to believe in, the darkness, rather than consuming him, went away. He made his peace. Maybe it was brain damage from that last fight, the first fight following his killing a guy in the ring–the only thing he felt natural doing was fighting, but not to cause someone to die, no matter how inadvertently. So the last fight he’s in the ring saying to himself, man, I can’t hit this guy. I have no more animal cunning to fall back on, to make me feel at home, competent. What little rage he had left was not enough to keep him from getting beaten all to hell.
    Rage. What could a nice WASP lady know about rage? Why would she stand in line while the deplorably educated camp sergeant directed her to the proper line for the kool-ade?
    Ah, is it such a mystery?
    When one’s whole life has been a preparation for “going gently into that dark night” rather than to “rage, rage against the dying of the light”, by systematically undervaluing the natural, the intuitive, the unaffected, the blank, the absolute mystery.
    It’s like an HP Lovecraft story, living in a bedroom where one corner of the room, one ceiling corner, doesn’t quite make sense, there’s an opening there, and bad stuff comes in and goes out through that impossibility.
    After a whole life despising God for having made her, suicide is only natural.
    As I say, and as the Bishop said, and as the visiting philosophy professor said, try it, take it or leave it, it’s a theory you might like.
    Christopher C. Rushlau
    25 Grant St., Apt. 7
    P.O. Box 15368
    Portland ME USA 04112-5368
    —– Original Message —–
    From: Stephen Carnahan
    To: Chris Rushlau
    Sent: Thursday, November 11, 2010 9:47 AM
    Subject: Re: Have you ever wished you could live a dramatic life poised above an historic crisis?

    An impressive group of intelligent and courageous protestors.

    The usual response: ridicule, shouting, silencing, probably even some violence.

    After it was clear that this was going to go on, Netanyahu could have said, ”I hear what you are saying. There are others who feel like you, but I disagree. If you will let me finish my speech, I will sit and talk with you for an hour after this meeting.”

    I agree with them. It’s not the detractors that delegitimize Israel, it is the official actions and policies of the government that do. Same in the US.
    Turner, Maine
    From: Chris Rushlau
    To: revfun1
    Sent: Wed, November 10, 2010 12:50:40 PM
    Subject: Have you ever wished you could live a dramatic life poised above an historic crisis?

    Here is a reminder–from a new point of view–of what that crisis is.
    Christopher C. Rushlau
    25 Grant St., Apt. 7
    P.O. Box 15368
    Portland ME USA 04112-5368

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