Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Know Your Enemy

"The right wing extremist strains of Israeli Judaism are threatening to turn that ignition into a conflagration." That quote comes from Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, the same Rabbi now being widely quoted for his bizarre Tim Tebow column. Or rather there are numerous articles quoting the column without mentioning his name or who he is.

This is not the article that I had planned to run tonight. That article has already been written and sits waiting. It may be timely, but it will have to wait until next week, because this is timelier and it needs to be said.

In the last hour I read through numerous blog posts treating Hammerman's column as a Jewish view and turning it into an attack on Jews in general. Some of those attacks are fairly mild mannered, but they come down to the same thing. Those pieces however show very little wisdom.

Conservative Christians of all people should know that modern clergy come in two flavors. Religious and liberal. Hammerman does not have an issue with Christianity, he has an issue with religion. If Hammerman were Anti-Christian, then he wouldn't be heading to the United Methodist Church for an interfaith service for World AIDS Day or hosting a series on Judaism, Christianity and Islam featuring an Imam. He's not opposed to floppy feel good social justice religion, whether it wears a cross or a star of david. He's opposed to Religion. Capital R.

Reading Hammerman doing a paranoid piece about American Christianity follows numerous paranoid pieces about Israeli Judaism, all with the same kind of rhetoric. For example...

"American Jews look at Israel and fear that occupation has done the same... and the other sees a fatal chauvinism, a triumph for an extremism fostering nightmares of a Taliban-like takeover of a faith tradition that was built on tolerance."

I'm not going to blame people for not researching Hammerman, though it might not have been such a bad thing to do, but it's not really about him, it's about using common sense to identify people who think the way that he does. The obsession with the threat of a theocracy is the idee fixe of liberal clergy from both religions who will spill barrels of ink about Christian and Jewish extremists who are just plotting to take over, while having nothing but good to say about Mohammed.

The Hammermans are secular, but they are not secularists. They use a theological skeleton to advocate liberalism, while warning everyone about the dangers of right wing extremism and traditional beliefs. Their religion is liberalism, their altar is the Democratic Party and their theology is social justice with everything else stripped away.

The most obvious tell is Hammerman's scope of concern in his Tebow article. "Burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants." All this has little to do with religion and a great deal to do with the obsessions of liberal politics. This isn't theocracy, illegal immigration has nothing to do with the subject. It's generic paranoia about "right wing extremism".

Hammerman, like most left-wing clergy, assumes that conservative religious streams are just another political movement wrapping their agenda in religion. The "religious left" is not afraid of theocracy, they're afraid that the balance will shift from the left to the right. They can't conceive of religion except in political terms. To them Tebow only matters as the incarnation of the right. If he wins, then NPR funding will be cut and the homeless will be left to starve on the street. They can't divorce religion from politics, because there is no religion there. Just social justice. And they see the right as the anti-social justice force.

It's important to understand where these people are coming from, and when that is understood they can be identified and dismissed, without responding with essays on Jews "dressing up a tribalistic hatred in socially-acceptable clothing".

Jews don't respond to hostile articles from liberal Christian clergy as if they represent all Christians. We don't treat Reverend Tim Kutzmark as representative of "Christianity", the way that too many articles have treated Rabbi Joshua Hammerman as if he represented Judaism or Jews.

There is a culture war going on deep in the heart of the modern world. It is a struggle for souls and a battle between religion as faith and religion as politics. The difference is whether we believe in a God or whether we believe in a political ideology that promises redemption by following the politics of social justice. The Jewish aspect of that struggle rarely makes headlines, at least outside the JTA or the Forward or the other champions of the Jewish social justice left.

One of those champion outlets is the Jewish Week, where the Hammerman-Tebow article ran. The Jewish Week has been partially funded by the UJA Federation, the grandaddy of the funding machine for social justice in the Jewish community. The CEO of the UJA in New York is John Ruskay, formerly of Breira, a left-wing Anti-Israel organization. Again not something most people would be expected to know, and yet it can be safely assumed that agenda articles run in agenda papers.

The agenda is power. It always comes down to power. The power to set the agenda is power and power is the agenda. To the left, religion is a vehicle for the expression of that power. Nothing more. Nothing less. It wraps that power madness in terms like compassion and justice, but that is empty rhetoric. The purpose of power is ultimately power. Authentic religion cedes that power to a higher power. Political religion cedes it to politicians, NGO's and OWS.

This isn't a Jewish issue. And those who have tried to make it a Jewish issue have made the mistake of taking Hammerman at his word. And if they take Hammerman at his word that his social justice agenda is driven by Jewish concerns, why not take Barack Obama's word that his social justice is driven by Christian concerns?

It's a shame that some of the people who act as if they know the left for what it is failed to recognize it this time. I will leave you with one more Hammerman quote.

"The recent vandalism against mosques by Israeli Jewish extremists does not point to apartheid, but Israeli officials need to be especially vigilant or such hate crimes could easily lead Jerusalem to a moral place not too distant from Johannesburg and Jackson, where houses of worship were also set aflame."

Anyone who thinks that Hammerman represents tribalistic hatred dressed up in socially acceptable clothing really doesn't understand the left. The left is not a tribe, its identity is ideological, it uses ethnic, racial and religious identities as vehicles for that ideology. Nothing more.


vanderleun said...

The Jewish Week has just put the Hammerman article down the memory and expunged the cache as well. You'd think they'd understand about revisionism, but nooooo.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

I would have thought they would welcome the traffic

careyrowland said...

I believe this started when Marx called religion the opiate of the people.

Daniel said...

he has no smicha. he is not a real rabbi.

Joseph Dooley said...

Even though I am not a Jew, I immediately joined the Jews for Israel group on Facebook. I remarked there and will repeat that Hammerman's piece is only a couple of Jewish references more than a typical secularist, Christophobic screed.

Joseph Dooley said...

Whoops, Freudian slip there. I meant *Jews for Tebow. LOL

DP111 said...

DG wrote: The purpose of power is ultimately power. Authentic religion cedes that power to a higher power. Political religion cedes it to politicians, NGO's and OWS.

Quotable. Will quote it with attribute due.

John K said...

"spill barrels of ink about Christian and Jewish extremists who are just plotting to take over, while having nothing but good to say about Mohammed."

Just finished watching Evan Sayet on the Glazov Gang give his explanation of the liberal mindset again, which is something to the effect work to elevate and esteem everything that is evil, failed, and wrong.

It's applicable to many of the things you have recorded in your article today.

(Second video)

Anonymous said...

Growing up in the Presbyterian Church I have been shocked that the Hierarchy of the church is all about Social Justice. Everything to divestment of stocks in Caterpiller to becoming a welcoming congregation. It has left many Christians, such a myself with no place to go, as I cannot become a born again.

The Environmental agenda, Gay rights, anti Israel and acceptance of illegal aliens have become an integral part of our churches. It is driving conservatives away from the main stream churches, but it is like a run-away train.

Thank you for your insightful comments, it makes my day to see someone else out there is concerned.
Mad in MN

but pygmies said...

We call them: "Rabbis Without Torah." Lenny Bruce had some things to say about this way back in the 1950's. For an antidote, Mamet's article yesterday re: the Akedah.

Anna said...

This: 'Their religion is liberalism, their altar is the Democratic Party and their theology is social justice with everything else stripped away.'

and this: 'They can't conceive of religion except in political terms.'

are critical points for conservatives to understand. The problem with liberals is that they make it very personal; if they disagree with a person's politics and/or religion, they feel the need to totally discredit and destroy that person. They're some of the most intolerant people I've ever met.

Keliata said...

What is it about liberals and "social justice"?

Isn't there typically some sort of punishment for an injustice? They seem less concerned with righting a wrong (liberal wrong) and more with some sort of retribution for it.

dwight said...

A "wall of separation" has been erected around classic liberalism, brick by brick, by people who call themselves "Progressives". And Progressive thought has been instituted therein as the supreme "establishment" of the liberal mind.

Furthermore, Progressives like Hammerman have actually done to the synagogue and the church what they accuse (with fear and loathing) organized religion of wanting to do to the state.

As Greenfield says, "Their religion is [co-opted] liberalism, their altar is the [co-opted] Democratic Party and their theology is [co-opted]social justice." And their god, their "Higher Power", is their personal sense of rightness (in contradistinction to the sense of rightness of a higher authority, i.e. the righteousness of the G-d Who Is not an image or extension of themselves).

They quote the Bible, "God helps those who help themselves," like they quote the Constitution, "And Jefferson said, 'Let there be a wall of separation between church and state'; and there was a wall of separation between religio-centric politics and politico-centric religion." Trust them---it's in there. You can check it out on Snopes if you want. But you don't need to. Because it's an undisputed fact.

The prophets of Israel spoke of the justice and righteousness of a certain "G-d of Israel" (who, as it just so happens, claims to also be the Creator of the universe). The nations don't want to hear it. They would rather take the semaphores of Jewish Particularism and remake them into more useful metaphors to suit themselves, thank you very much.

In his blog today Joshua Hammerman apologizes for anything that may be construed as an offense of some sort.

As a Christian who hopes to be proven true, through thick and thin, to the G-d of Israel, please allow me to express a small sense of grief in the realization that it pained you, Mr. Greenberg, to have to "stop the presses" and to have to say that Hammerman-Tebow "isn't a Jewish issue."

dwight said...

Ah, is there no end to well-crafted hubris? Mea culpa, Mr. Greenfield.

trencherbone said...

The rabbi's rantings are not merely random idiocy. They are part of a well-recognized syndrome afflicting those destined for degenerative dhimmitude ending in total insanity. The syndrome is known as 'moral equivalence', and is the result of consumption of toxic amounts of self-administered taqiyya.

These dhimmis regurgitate the 'moral equivalence argument' to compare Islam with other religions. This vomiting of half-digested taqiyya is a product of their own sick subconscious psychological motives. They are not only attempting to delude others, but are in deep denial and trying to delude themselves. They have gorged themselves on self-generated taqiyya as a tranquilizer to blot out reality.

The conscious part of the moral equivalence argument takes the form "Christians and Jews have committed atrocities such as the McVeigh, Breivik and King David Hotel bombings, so Christianity and Judaism are just the same as Islam. Therefore Islam poses no special threat."

The fallacies are obvious: Christian and Jewish acts of terrorism are rare and infrequent; they are rejected by the majority of followers of the religions, go against the core teachings of the religions, and are committed by a few isolated loonies. In contrast, Islamic acts of terrorism are commonplace, are encouraged by the Koran and are supported, if not actually carried out, by a substantial proportion of Muslims.

The subconscious and self-deluding part of the moral equivalence argument is the refusal to face the fact that Islam is an intrisically violent totalitarian ideology that has infiltrated our civilization, and is bent on our conversion, subjugation or elimination. To acknowlege this would be deeply disturbing and well outside the comfort zone of most people (remember the popular enthusiasm for appeasement of Hitler and 'Peace in Our Time'?). So they reassure themselves, by the moral equivalence argument, that Islam is just like other religions.

It's far easier to stay in denial and regard Islam as being no more a threat to our lives and culture than the Quakers or Lubavitcher Hasidim. That way they don't have to face the looming global clash of civizations, or think about the unpleasant courses of action that may be necessary to reduce the threat.

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