Monday, 30 May 2016

The Case for a Semitic Cultural Revolution in Israel

I have had a number of responses to my last post, It's Shabbat, Not Shabbos!, some positive and some negative.  The folks who don't like what I have to say accuse me of racism and advocating ethnic cleansing.  I honestly don't understand the hostility, because I am not advocating anything that Israel's forefathers didn't advocate themselves.  All of Israel's forefathers from Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the founder of modern Hebrew, to David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, advocated a return of the Jewish people to our Hebrew, Semitic roots.  If this were not the case, Ben Yehuda would not have taken it upon himself to modernize the Hebrew language so that it could be used in the contemporary world and David Ben Gurion would still have been David Grun.  So by advocating a return to our original cultural roots, I don't think I'm doing anything different than Israel's founding fathers, who did not originally have Hebrew names or even speak fluent Hebrew.

I think that the folks who don't like what I say have forgotten where we, the Jewish people, the Nation of Israel, came from.  We are a Semitic people, just like the Arabs, Assyrians, Arameans and Phoenicians.  Our roots are not in Europe, but in the Middle East, where Israel first became a nation. Yes, it is an indisputable fact that the Jewish people spent centuries in Europe and have been a major contributor to European civilization for two millennia, but we did not do so willingly.  We were expelled from our ancestral home in the Land of Israel by a succession of enemies, from the Babylonians to the Romans.  Now that we have returned to the land of our forefathers, it is only natural that we try and reclaim our Hebrew, Semitic heritage - something that modern Israel's founders have been trying to do from the beginning of the Zionist movement right up until today.  I am simply trying to carry on this legacy.

Besides, now that Jewish independence has been restored, many cultural traits that we had developed during our time in exile have become redundant.  Take the Yiddish language for example.  It was created so that Jews in Europe could communicate with each other, regardless of where on the continent they came from.  But now that we have modern Hebrew, we don't need Yiddish anymore. Furthermore, many of Israel's founders and pioneers routinely condemned Yiddish as a corrupt jargon, so I am certainly not the first person to say this.

I am not trying to impose anything on anyone.  I am just encouraging my fellow Jews who are already living in Israel to be Israeli and embrace the Hebrew, Semitic identity that Israel's founders promoted.  This is no different than people in any given country telling immigrants to embrace that country's customs, language(s) and values.  "When in Rome, do as the Romans do," goes the old saying.  We certainly don't want to give ammunition to the other people in the Middle East who say we are nothing more than European colonizers.  But by not embracing a Hebrew, Semitic identity, that's just what we're doing.

If anyone is trying to impose an identity on anyone, it's the people who are the most reluctant to assimilate and embrace Israel's modern Hebrew culture.  We call them Haredim, or so-called ultra-Orthodox Jews.  If it were up to them, we would all be walking around in black hats and black coats speaking Yiddish.  These are people who burn Israeli flags, spit on women for dressing "immodestly" or refusing to sit at the back of the bus, and say that modern Hebrew is an abomination.  They are the people who spit and throw rocks at cars on Saturdays, chanting "Shabbos! Shabbos!"  It is they who would have us once again become a nation of paupers and priests as if we were still living in the shtetls and ghettos of Europe. It is they, not I, who are saying that their way is the only way.

Friday, 27 May 2016

It's Shabbat, Not Shabbos!

I grew up in a family with roots both in the Jewish diaspora and Israel.  My father was born and raised in Israel.  In fact, he is a few years older than the state itself, having been born before 1948. My mother was born in Canada to parents with roots in Poland, which was at the center of European, Ashkenazi Jewry before the Holocaust.  For the better part of my adult life, I have chosen to emphasize my Israeli identity over the Polish, Ashkenazi heritage of my mother's family.  The reason is that I perceive Israeli identity as being closer to what the Jews were as a people before two thousand years of exile began polluting our Semitic Hebrew culture with foreign customs, names and languages.

For example, when mentioning Jewish holidays or anything associated with them, I prefer to use Hebrew terminology.  I say "Shabbat", not "Shabbos".  I say "yom tov", not "yantef".  In fact, for me, anything said in Yiddish is basically a four letter word.  For me, Yiddish is a relic of our long exile, which ended in 1948 with the creation of the State of Israel.  For me, using Yiddish in the context of Jewish life is anti-Zionist, as is corrupting the modern Hebrew language by using European, Ashkenazi pronunciation.  

It bothers me enough that people in the diaspora still insist on perpetuating the pollution of our Semitic Jewish heritage with non-Semitic elements.  But what really gets me ticked off is that Jews that have made the righteous decision to make Israel their home continue in the corruption of their own culture.  So for example, if you are a Jew who lives in Israel, you should not have a name like Rubenstein or Wasserman.  You should also certainly not be walking around in medieval Polish garb with black hats and long black coats, as if you were still living in the old shtetls and ghettos of Europe. Doing any of these things, for me, is anti-Zionist and a form of sedition in a country where all the corrupted, non-Semitic elements that have polluted Jewish culture should be abandoned.  Now of course, Israel is a democracy, so we can't ban people from conversing in Yiddish or wearing medieval Polish garb, but we should certainly be discouraging such practices, because we cannot truly return to the land of our forefathers - the Land of Israel - until we return to our Semitic Hebrew roots.   

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Why I'm Angry at China

I've always had a great amount of respect for the Chinese people, who have contributed so much to human civilization.  Heck, we wouldn't have modern civilization if it weren't for the Chinese.  So why should I be angry at a country that has given the world so much?  Because inasmuch as China helped to create civilization as we know it, the country is now acting in ways that are nothing but detrimental to civilization.  Now of course, I cannot blame the Chinese people as a whole for the wrongful acts perpetrated by their country.  After all, it is common knowledge that China is not governed by the will of its people, but by an autocratic and despotic regime whose number one priority is to maintain and expand its power.

Dictatorship, Occupier and Aggressor

Unfortunately, China has always been ruled by despots.  In the distant past right up until the early 20th century, the country was ruled by a series of imperial dynasties.  China's current ruling despots are of course the leaders of the country's Communist Party.  Unlike their counterparts in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, China's Communists manage to survive the end of the Cold War. They did this by abandoning communism in all but name and choosing to pursue a market economy. But unfortunately, democracy has not followed China's transition to capitalism.  The country remains an ironclad dictatorship where there is no freedom of speech, no freedom of assembly, no freedom of religion and so forth.

It's bad enough that the Chinese people have to live under the boot of a dictatorship, but this same dictatorship also occupies and oppresses several non-Chinese populations.  China as we know it today and as it is internationally recognized does not just include the land that has been known as China for centuries.  It also includes Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, Tibet and East Turkestan.  These regions are the homelands of the Mongols, Manchus, Tibetans and Uighurs respectively.  But China's dictators have taken to plundering these regions and oppressing their populations.  Heaven forbid, for example, a Tibetan has a picture of the Dalai Lama lying around somewhere.  That person will most certainly be arrested and imprisoned for who knows who long.  In fact, some Tibetans have found the rule of China's dictators so unbearable that they have taken to burning themselves to death.  In East Turkestan, the northwest region of the People's Republic of China known in Chinese as Xingjiang, people in the mostly Muslim region were banned from fasting on Ramadan.  China's dictators have also tried to change the demographics of the occupied regions in order to create a Chinese majority in each of them so that they can legitimize their continued occupation.  And as if occupying and subjugating the peoples of the regions adjacent to China isn't enough, the country's dictators are hungry for even more territory.

As I'm writing this, the Chinese military is building bases in the small islands of the South China Sea. In fact, China's dictators have taken to claiming the entire South China Sea as their exclusive dominion.  They also continue to threaten the island of Taiwan, which in the last few decades has become a vibrant democracy - not for long if the dictators on the mainland have their way.  The fact of the matter is that as China's economic and military strength continue to grow, so will aspirations of the dictators who rule it.

No Respect for People's Health or the Environment

Historically, the Chinese have been among the most enlightened societies on Earth, so you would think that they would have the utmost respect for people's health and well-being as well as the environment, right?  Well, many Chinese probably do, but unfortunately, they're not the ones running the show in China.  Indeed, China's leaders lack little if any respect for the health of their people, let alone the environment in which they live.  So it's no wonder why clean air in China is a luxury most people in the country don't have.  In many respects, China is now the world's biggest polluter, yet whenever the international community comes together to agree on lowering pollution levels, China always gets a free pass.  China is also one of the biggest reasons that poachers of endangered species have been making a killing lately, both in a figurative and literal sense.  Things like the bones of endangered tigers or the horns of threatened rhino species fetch a high price in the Chinese marketplace, where they are used as ingredients in traditional Chinese medicines.  So if you happen to be an environmentalist, you're probably more angry at China than I am.

Killing People's Livelihoods 

One of the more common shots that people take at China is that they take away jobs from people in developed countries.  While it is true that businesses routinely move jobs to China to take advantage of the country's lower labour costs, one can't blame China exclusively for the loss of jobs at home. This is just a symptom of globalization and global capitalism.  As long as there are cheaper jurisdictions that businesses can take advantage of to cut costs, people in more advanced countries with stronger labour laws and higher wages will inevitably lose jobs to places where labour laws are more lax and labour itself is cheaper.

There are, however, a couple of economic trends for which I will single China out.  One is the seemingly endless growth of counterfeit goods for which China is a leading source, if not the leading source.  Everything from cellphones to expensive clothes is now counterfeited.  And where do many of these counterfeit goods come from?  Right from the Middle Kingdom itself.

If you're looking for a home, you might also have a reason to be angry at China.  This goes especially for those trying to find a home in Vancouver, Canada where real estate speculators from China have flooded the market and driven real estate prices to unbelievable highs.  The end result is that people who actually live in Vancouver or anywhere else where these investors from China are looking for property are priced out of the market.  I wouldn't be surprised if overseas buyers from China have a presence in every major city in the world where real estate is valuable.  In fact, when I was attending open houses in my home city of Toronto looking for a new house, I got worried every time I saw someone enter who appeared to be Chinese because I thought he or she might be an overseas buyer from China or perhaps a representative of one who would put an insane offer on a property I liked that would price me and any other Canadian would-be home buyer out.  Now just to be fair, inasmuch as I might hate speculators from China snapping up real estate and driving up prices, I also hate governments, especially here in Canada, who allow this to happen.

Can China Clean Up Its Act?

The answer to this question is, of course it can!  But it won't be easy.  The first obvious step is to remove the dictatorship that rules the country and which is the primary source of China's immoral and aggressive behaviour.  This will be extremely difficult as China now boasts the world's most powerful dictatorship in the world aside from Russia.  One would hope that the Chinese people will find a way to free themselves from their autocratic rulers.  Logic dictates that if they helped create civilization as we know it, they can certainly get rid of a few petty dictators, right?  Then again, they've tried before and failed.  Anyone who remembers the events of Tiananmen Square knows what I'm talking about.  Unfortunately, it will probably be up to external powers to remove China's dictatorship in the upcoming Third World War that I've spoken about in previous posts.  


Thursday, 12 May 2016

Israel Should Cherish Its Independence and Support Those Who Don't Yet Have It

Israel has just celebrated the 68th anniversary of its independence.  No Israeli who is loyal to the state takes the country's independence for granted, nor should they ever.  After all, we as a people waited two thousand years to restore our sovereignty in our ancestral homeland.  And we'll be damned if we let anyone take it away from us!  But whenever we celebrate our independence, I believe we should also think about the peoples of the world who have not yet achieved self-determination. There are countless groups of people in the world today who don't have a nation-state to call their own and who are fighting valiantly for the opportunity to achieve independence, sometimes sacrificing their lives, just as many Israelis have sacrificed theirs in order to gain and retain our sovereignty.  In fact, I would say that if we truly value our own freedom, we should support those who do not yet have it.

What do I mean by support?  To put it succinctly, I mean that Israel should offer moral, financial and even military support to peoples fighting for their right to independence, so long as doing so does not endanger its own security.  Actually, helping certain peoples to attain self-determination may enhance Israel's security interests.  For example, helping the Kurds of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey to achieve independence would gain Israel a valuable ally in the region.  Israel and the Kurds already have mutual enemies, so it is only natural that we be on friendly terms with them and help each other out. In fact, it is generally known that Israel and the Kurds have cooperated on more than one occasion.

There are others who could use Israel's help and with whom we share common enemies.  Indeed, the dwindling Christian populations of the Middle East, especially the ones who have fallen victim to the atrocities of the so-called Islamic State, could certainly use a loyal friend since their fellow Christians in the Western world have largely abandoned them.  Ideally, Israel would back every group of people who have a legitimate claim to an independent nation-state.  I would love it, for example, if Israel's leaders publicly supported independence for the peoples of Scotland, Catalonia and Quebec.  But of course, Israel does not exist in an ideal world, so it would be impractical for me to expect our leaders to publicly support every righteous cause for independence. Still, there are cases in which Israel can and should support a people's struggle for self-determination while maintaining and even enhancing its national security interests.