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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Universalist Holocaust

There are two basic human responses to an assault. I will protect myself or I will make the world a better place. The first deals with the risk of an attack. The second with your insecure feelings about the world. The first leaves you better able to cope with an attack. The second makes you feel better about the world that you live in.

The Jewish response to the Holocaust fell into these two categories; Never Again and Teach Tolerance. Never Again became the credo of Israel and Teach Tolerance became the credo of the Western Diaspora.

There were Israelis who believed in teaching tolerance and Western Jews who believed in self-defense, but the responses were structural because the divide between Nationalists and Universalists predated the Holocaust.

The Holocaust was a transformative event, but the responses to it came from old debates. The pogroms had led to the same fork in the road between a collective struggle for a better world and national self-defense, between the Universalists and the Nationalists, between the left and the right. The current debates about Israel by Jews and non-Jews revisit those old arguments.

To the Nationalists, the Holocaust was not an unexpected event and Nationalist leaders like Jabotinsky had warned that it was coming. To the Universalists, it was an inexplicable event that challenged the entire progressive understanding of history as a march toward enlightenment.

Violent bigotry was supposed to be the opposite of modernity. History moved forward, not backward. Unlike Czarist Russia, Soviet Russia and Weimar Germany were too modern for mass murder. And then they weren't.

The Holocaust was a mugging in broad daylight on the biggest street of the biggest city in the world. Its message was that human beings had not magically become better people because Berlin had a subway and phone calls could be made across the Atlantic. The Nationalists attributed it to human nature, while the Socialists blamed reactionary nationalism. The Universalists insisted that true progress would come with world unity while the Nationalists went off to build their own castle.

The Holocaust deepened the divide between the Universalists and the Nationalists. The Universalists thought the Holocaust made it more urgent for us to work toward a better world while the Nationalists saw history as a cycle of civilizations that had to be survived, rather than a utopian harbor where strife would end and the fighting would stop.

What the Universalists had always hated about Israel was what a Jewish State symbolized; a turning away from the great dream of the Brotherhood of Man for another reactionary state. Zionism had been rejected by much of the left for its abandonment of universalism. Luminaries of the left from Lenin to H.G. Wells denounced Zionism as a reactionary roadblock to world unity. The answer to the Jewish problem was assimilation, not conglomeration. And to many liberals, Israel's existence is still so pernicious because it lures Jews away from the dream of a better world.

The schism on the left over Zionism is slowly being won by the Anti-Zionists whose visceral hatred is for the Jewish State as a reactionary entity, a retreat from the borderless world. They do not criticize Israel for human rights violations. They find or invent human rights violations because they have labeled Israel as a reactionary entity and in their worldview all reactionary entities oppress and only reactionary entities oppress. The Soviet Union was progressive and therefore not oppressive. Israel is reactionary and therefore oppressive.

The Universalists interpreted the Holocaust as a Nationalist phenomenon and through that warped logic, Israel as a Nationalist response to the Holocaust is just like Nazi Germany. By wanting their own country, their own flag and their own army, the Jews became just like the Nazis. Instead of adopting the Universalist response of national suicide to mass murder, the Jewish people decided to live. And that is a crime that the left can never forgive them for.

Jewish Universalists have always been vaguely ashamed of Israel. They used to understand the need for it in their guts, even as their ideological minds struggled against it, but over time that feeling faded because the things that you feel but do not say are hard to pass down to future generations.

Holocaust museums were built, books were written and tours conducted into Anne Frank's attic, but the understanding of what these things meant was not passed down. The only lesson was to make the world a better place by teaching everyone to be tolerant so that history would not repeat itself. As if any amount of courses and slides on tolerance could stop history from repeating itself.

There are nice Jewish boys and girls who have read Anne Frank's diary, visited Auschwitz and come away anti-semities. They don't call themselves that because their Universalist ignorance is so profound that they don't even know what they are. Instead they call themselves human rights activists, they boycott Israeli products, smash Jewish store windows, hug terrorists and rationalize suicide bombers.

And what else were they supposed to do when the lessons that they drew from the Holocaust are that the underdog is always right, that people in uniforms are bad and that you always have to stand up for minorities.

That is the Holocaust in its universalized form. Never Again made the Holocaust a teachable moment for Jews. Teach Tolerance made it a teachable moment for all mankind. The Nationalist and the Universalist drew two opposite lessons from the Holocaust. The Nationalists focused on resistance while the Universalists focused on persecution. The Nationalist aspires to be a ghetto fighter while the Universalist aspires to be a good German.

The Universalist lesson of the Holocaust is that we must all aspire to be good Germans because our governments, at least the non-progressive ones, are embryonic Third Reichs that are only one flag-waving leader away from opening concentration camps. The Universalists believe that the only way to stop another Holocaust is to destroy nationalism, patriotism and the modern state.

This is what they believed before the Holocaust. And it isn't the Holocaust that motivates them. The Holocaust has been hijacked and distorted as another teaching tool for the left. Its history is one where the Jews happen to stand in for Native Americans, African-Americans or any other victim group, but have no identity, motives or interests of their own. The dead Jews are empty symbols with no tangible claims on the past or on the future. They died to teach us to be better people.

And so the boys and girls, Jewish and non-Jewish, smash Jewish store windows and throw stones at Jewish soldiers out of a desire to be good Germans. Their method of avoiding a repetition of the Holocaust is to perpetuate it by persecuting Jews by being good Germans. If they manage to destroy Israel and all its Jews, then they'll be the best Germans of them all.

This Universalist doctrine does not mention the English boys, who were being good Germans before the time when those words meant anything, by gathering at anti-war rallies. It does not mention the leftist intellectuals who insisted that the Allies were no better than the Nazis or the Communist Universalists of the Soviet Union who allied with Nazi Germany.

The debate over Israel is only one of many such fights between Universalists and Nationalists of every creed and from every nation. It is a struggle between those who believe that nations, religions and cultures have innate worth, and those who believe that they are obstacles to the great jello bowl of togetherness.

The Nazi Holocaust failed, but the Universalist Holocaust is still ongoing. Every time a leftist gets up to denounce Israel and to look forward to the day when it disappears, the Universalist Holocaust grinds on. And they have no shortage of Jewish assistants who are eager to complete the task, believing that a humanitarian utopia waits on the other side of the gas chamber door.

The Jewish Universalists lost faith in G-d, but they did not lose faith in humanity. They still believe with all their hearts that if they strum the guitar loud enough and sing, "Imagine", that a better world will appear behind that door. Disbelieving in history, they have forgotten that the last time that door was opened in Russia, there was barbed wire and bitter cold on the other side.

Jewish Nationalists understood what was coming last time. They understand what is coming this time. Yet no matter how many times they are proven right, the beautiful dreamers refuse to listen to the history which proves them wrong. They're still waiting for the dead hand of history to let go and the better world to be born out of the ashes of the old.

History is the road map that charts where the past lives that made ours possible have gone and shows us where the lives that we make possible may go. The Universalist Holocaust would burn those maps and kill our future for their better world.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Spot on

Naresh Krishnamoorti said...

This is the first time that someone has been able to explain to me why so many Jews so viscerally hate the State of Israel.

chazn said...

Interesting Daniel -

The Universalist assumes that you can attain Utopia in this world. And EVERY human attempt at attaining Utopia has resulted in a holocaust. You say that the Universalist denies that "nations, religions and cultures have innate worth" and I would concur. The universalist assumes the innate goodness of man but their persistent presumptions that man can achieve Utopia, despite the lessons of history, demonstrates otherwise.

The Nationalist, though accused as a warmongerer, is more of a realist. He knows the lessons of history and knows the perils inherent in seeking utopia. He has a problem, though. He accepts the status quo as far as religion goes. He accepts his own religion and "tolerates" or allows others to believe as they want. To avoid conflict, they don't engage and are incapable of engaging in dispassionate debate.

The Hebrew word, commonly used for "sin" is "chet". It means "to miss the target". Religion will do it every time. If finding God can be likened to rolling a bowling ball into the "sweet spot" between the 1 and 3 pins that leads to a strike, religion is like a warp in the lane that will only lead to a gutter ball.

Culture is good. It reflects the beautiful creativity of man. But it can lead to excuses. Culture can say "this is the way we do things" despite whether that "way" can objectively be deemed as genuinely righteous. An extreme example is that the universalist might accept cannibalism within the confines of some culture in Papua New Guinea because its "part of that culture".

Nations are also good. They can provide people with a sense of family or belonging. But they can also become an excuse for arrogance.

The Jewish people are a nation. We've been without borders for 2000 years. We have our own culture(s) but along with it we've adopted some of the cultural of the people with whom we've "rubbed shoulders".

Originally, we were a nation planted in a land, with a culture uniquely our own and a constitution otherwise known as the Torah given to us presumably (I say "presumably" for the sake of debate) by the very hand of the God who created the universe. When we deviated from obeying that constitution, we were ejected (Lev. 18 says "vomited) from the land.

We read in the Oleynu the words of the Prophet Zechariah "In that day (the day when peace reigns on this planet) the Lord shall be echod and His Name shall be echod".

I believe that day will come. It will not be created by the universalist who, by rejecting religion, rejects the notion that there is a God altogether. It won't be created by the nationalist who will refuse to engage his rivals. It won't be created by man at all. It will be created by God and His Messiah. Without Him it will not be created and there is no hope.

And what will characterize that time? There will be wonderful nations with wonderful unique cultures. But there will be harmony because all of these nations will have the same constitution... a constitution that transcends culture... The Law of God written in the hearts of men which, as Jeremiah puts it, "They will all know me from the least of them to the greatest". - Regards

David Swartz said...

The anti-Zionists do seem like they're winning. They also seem like they're insane. God help us.

theunrecordedman said...

Terrific post. You have put your finger on something that has been gnawing at me for years but I would never have been able to tease the strand apart. How about writing a post about how nationalism and protecting borders, not only for Israel, has been successful? Something with the title, 'Good fences make good neighbours', perhaps.

There was one paragraph whose sense I understood but not the actual words:

"There were Israelis who believed in teaching tolerance and Western Jews who believed in self-defense, but the responses were structural because the divide between Nationalists and Universalists predated the Holocaust."

The responses were 'structural' as opposed to what alternative kind of response? Do you mean the structure was Universalist v Nationalist. If so, isn't this what Germans call 'doppelt gemoppelt'?

Once again, this was a really great post that I will link to.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant essay. You have a genius for dissecting what seems incomprehensible and making the reader understand the historical and philosophical reasons for what is going on. It's a rare gift.

Judith

Marlene from Roswell said...

Totally agree with Anonymous....This post was remarkable. Thank you Daniel.
Also, thank you Chazn...I am a believer.
I want to comment on one thing Daniel says here:
"...things that you feel but do not say are hard to pass down to future generations..."
Simply stated, enormous impact.
I was a proctor in a 9th grade program for parents called "Parent Connect". It was a set of videos done by a man whose daughter became a drug addict. The purpose was to bring awareness to parents the signs that your child is in trouble, and lots of other valuable information. One of the things he emphasized is that he ASSUMED his children knew his values and his beliefs. He thought they would know these things from seeing how he lived his own life. He did not verbalize them. He continually emphasized this throughout the program. You must speak of what you believe, value, feel, and know to your children.

Tzvi said...

An excellent, excellent article!

mushroom said...

Thank you, Daniel. Your voice is a prophetic voice.

Its message was that human beings had not magically become better people because Berlin had a subway and phone calls could be made across the Atlantic.

Nor will smartphones and Twitter and hybrid cars magically change human nature. The same world that builds the Pious, er, Prius builds drones.

Kol Bo Gary said...

Thank you, Daniel, for a great piece which should be mandatory reading for any objective person. How unfortunate that your words would be lost on the JINO's, and the rest of the "kumbaya crowd". They can't process or understand evil, or how some people can perpetrate terror. If they win, we all lose.

david's backyard said...

bs"d

Great piece.
I transleted it into Turkish to share with some of my friends.
Love your blog Daniel.
Hazak U Baruh!

Leslie Deinhammer said...

Superbly written. Spot on regarding the disparity in how Universalists and Nationalists view the same event (the Holocaust or otherwise). Fantastic read.

Kevin Bjornson said...

I have natural universal rights because I am human. I have constitutional rights as an American. My natural rights are more inclusive than my constitutional rights.

Both types of rights can be violated, or not, by nationalists or universalists. It's not like all those who believe in equal human rights want to deny those rights (or replace natural rights with alleged positive "rights"). Nor is it true that nations necessarily protect those rights.

Wanting to be a good German is not evidence of sympathy for universalism; just the opposite is true. Obviously one's rights as a German are, by definition, national rights. However, national rights are not philosophically discovered or natural (as universal rights are); national rights are defined by the nation. The German constitution laid the groundwork for denial of rights to Jews.

Their Preamble, and Section 1 consisted of Articles 1 to 19, established the German Reich as a republic whose power derived from the people as a tribe.
Hitler decided that Jews were not part of the German tribe, and since he didn't believe in universal rights, both national and universal rights of German Jews were violated.

If you say that Israelis should have national rights but not universal rights, that creates two problems.

The nation of Israel could change or deny national rights, as happened with they forced Jews out of Sinai, Gaza, and other areas. These expulsions would not have happened, if universal rights had been honored.

Similarly, non-Jews (including humanists) living in Israel would have no national rights at all. And since you claim nobody has natural or universal human rights, they would have no rights whatsoever (in your proposal).

If Judaism is true, it true for all natural persons, in all places, and for all time. Certainly the core of the commandments provide a universal moral code.

To say that Judaism is true for Jews only, implies that truth is subjective. This lays the groundwork for multi-culturalism. Because if all cultures were subjective (applying only to members of the tribe), and no rules apply to all, then by definition moral rules are not objective. They may be adopted or discarded at will.

Tribal rights and arbitrary faith are not a good foundation for security of rights, because they cannot claim to be objectively better, but are mere subjective value preferences. Please study philosophy before you make long-winded philosophical pronouncements. Ideas have consequences, and the stakes are too high for amateur ruminations.

Anonymous said...

I would like to piggy back a couple of the comments. I have never understood how/why any Israeli would work against the best interests of their country. This post explains much. .

Toni Pereira said...

An excelent post as always,and it ilustrates how delusions of progress are dangerous.It's amazing how many people believe that the brutallity of the past(or for that matter from a remote region in Central Asia)is something so remote from our lives.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article once again. I have a couple of questions/comments though.

"The Jewish response to the Holocaust fell into these two categories; Never Again and Teach Tolerance."

Was Jabotinsky involved in Zionism before the Shoah? The first stanza of Shir Betar describes the Jews after the Shoah as a race that is proud, generous and fierce (or cruel, not sure how the lyrics translate into English). It seems to imply correctly I believe, that a Jews natural inclination is to be proud and generous but to be willing to fight for survival. So is there really a contradiction between Never Again and teaching tolerance?


Regarding teaching tolerance: A noble goal except there is a critical flaw when it comes to Jews and tolerance in general. In today's world tolerance means accepting what should be intolerable, even if it means tolerating a terrorist state of sorts called Palestine. Hamas wants to destroy Israel. We know this.

Tolerance is all well and good but tolerance for evil that aims for genocide? Wouldn't that be a chillul Hashem? So many people want to exploit the desire for tolerance for a tolerance for evil.

Keliata

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Kevin,

universal rights are a nice theory, but to the extent that they exist, they exist as you have pointed out within specific nation states. A universal declaration of human rights is worthless. A universalist legal logic can only exist when it piggybacks on a nation state.

Rejecting the nation state does not lead to human rights, it destroys the national entity that the universalist depends on. That is what the left is doing to the West.

Your natural rights only exist to the extent that you can form a nation state with likeminded people. Without that, your natural rights are an interesting theory.

None of that means that Israel shouldn't extend rights to Germans inside Israel or Germany to Jews, what it does mean is recognizing that the structure through which those rights exist is not some borderless brotherhood of man but the specific culture, values and vision of the nation.

That is why Muslims have more rights in Israel and Germany than Jews and Christians do in Muslim countries. Both have majorities whose, current, values are to treat people equally. This isn't because they've given up their national rights and culture. If they did, the result would be anarchy, chaos, a battle for survival and some form of feudalism.

"If Judaism is true, it true for all natural persons, in all places, and for all time. Certainly the core of the commandments provide a universal moral code. To say that Judaism is true for Jews only, implies that truth is subjective."

This seems further off the course, but Judaism represents a specific covenant. It is true for all people in the sense that it objectively took place, in the sense that the American Revolution took place. It does not mean that everyone was involved in that revolution or lives in the United States. But everyone can benefit from the revolution of ideas that took place as a result.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Tolerance, as Washington wrote in his letter to the Jewish congregation, implies condescension. Generosity does not condescend.

http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/2008/02/george-washingtons-rejection-of.html

Unknown said...

There have been some arguments that Czarist Russia was peaceful and the USSR wasn't, though both are pretty misunderstood. Both have been brutal, in many ways more than one, but that is Russian history. They move on.

But this quote, "It does not mention the leftist intellectuals who insisted that the Allies were no better than the Nazis or the Communist Universalists of the Soviet Union who allied with Nazi Germany..." is quite true. People today still say they are no different.

banjo killdeer said...

Daniel,

Thank you very much for this wonderful piece.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

thank you banjo

The Ray Esquivel said...

Daniel, you write very well about what to me is the obvious. However, it has remained a puzzle to me why American Jews are so "Left" and as you put it "Universalist" in their thinking. I really just don't get it. Even after reading your article, I still don't get it.

Seems to me like the typical mental disease of ignoring reality for want of a dream world which cannot, I repeat, cannot be achieved for the simple reason you state early on ... human nature.

For all man's supposed advancement, human nature remains the same but this segment of society, not just American Jews, but liberals as a whole refuse to see reality for what it is. Do they not see, hear, feel the blatant anti-semitism right here in America? Do they not see their "brothers" across the ocean hanging on by a thread to a strip of land that the world condemns them for holding on to? Do they not see the state of Israel surrounded by enemies dreaming of that country's destruction? Do they think they can magically pull out a piece of paper that declares them to be a good and upstanding citizen of the world that negates their Jewishness and it will not be held against them if and when the next holocaust comes? They fool only themselves. Only at that moment will it dawn on them what a tool they have been in continuing the efforts to cleanse the world of what some consider to a "problem."

Well, I am not Jewish, but I am American, and I stand with Israel because from the right perspective Israel and Jews are the underdogs in this fight. Theirs is the righteous fight, a fight for survival. Long live Israel!

Anonymous said...

Universalists believe in One World and reject the concept of nation-states (especially the concept of a Jewish nation-state), yet they campaign fervently for the establishment of a new nation-state for an invented nation: the Palestinians.

GLP said...

An idea I thought of decades ago, but never put on paper and probably couldn't have done so, so eloquently. Fantastic.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has long been puzzled by the dichotomy (to me) of
the majority of Jewish American voters supporting Democrats, I thank you.
Now I get it.
Though as Ray asks above---why?? Why can so many people ignore reality?
Or why do they chose to?
Simply to avoid the hard work that comes with responsibility, both personal and for society?

kevin said...

Daniel: I didn't say that universal rights necessarily exist within specific nation states. Those living in international waters, Antarctica, and in orbit are not within such territory. They may, but that doesn't necessarily mean the nation state is the sole means of enforcement.

Today we have more transnational groups, organizing force and moving across borders as if they did not exist. They may support rights, or violate them. Further, revolution, civil war, or invasion tend to undermine the alleged monopoly that nation states are said to have.

I didn't say that universal rights are a mere theory and are given reality by a nation state. Human rights exist regardless of whether or not they are respected or enforced.

Your national rights are not natural rights, but at best mere contracts or more likely a form of disguised enslavement. Rights from a national constitution may or may not be enforced by a nation state, but still the rights exist if the contract exists.

If the ideas of Judaism are valid for all people, they are universal. If they apply only to the Jewish tribe, they are national rights only. If a nation decides to respect universal rights of those who are not citizens of a tribe, to that extent their national laws are in accord with universal natural rights.

"Objective" means more than something that really occurred or really exists. Rights that are unique to one nation, by definition do not apply to all natural persons and hence are subjective. In this sense we are discussing, "objective" refers to natural laws that apply to all natural persons. Hence this means, to be objective means universally applicable to all humans.

In any event, nations should exist within a federal common law system, as in the roman republic. Natural law is universal, and force needs to be organized globally to enforce those rights. Nations may have their own unique laws that apply to citizens by subscription. Only those laws in common to all nations, should be enforced by the federal global government (not the UN, but something modeled on the roman republic or "coalition of the willing").

stevenhb13 said...

I like this post but I think there's room for common ground. One way to ensure that it "never again" happens is to "teach tolerance" (though I believe that tolerance is necessary but insufficient: the goal should be respect).

We can have nations without war. The Universalist position sounds like the "melting pot" that makes everything the same color gray. I prefer the salad bowl model that includes distinct pockets of character existing harmoniously next to other pockets of character, retaining their differences nonetheless.

Republic Reminder said...

Kevin Bjornson said...
"I have natural universal rights because I am human. I have constitutional rights as an American. My natural rights are more inclusive than my constitutional rights. "

This is accurate relative to the way the Constitution has been dismantled by the unjust judgments made by the Supreme Courts and the power mongers over the last 100 years. However, our Constitution is designed to uphold the laws of Nature and of Nature's God the Creator of all men. Therefore, when the unjust rulings were made against the authority of God and against the authority of the people (whose lawful permission is granted only by way of the Constitution - not by popular vote) those rulings were unlawful and should have been made of none effect by the people’s refusal to abide by the rulings. God’s authority is higher than any branch of the government and the First Amendment expressly prohibits them from molesting our freedom to practice our religion.

Your natural rights and responsibilities have a higher authority than the Constitution and no branch of government has the authority to rescind your natural rights or responsibilities. The Constitution is a contract that records the fact that the government doesn’t have the right to interfere with your freedom to practice your religion. It doesn’t give you that right. It records the fact that God has given you those rights along with responsibilities which are loosely referred to as “the practice of religion” and the government may not interfere with those rights or responsibilities.

God has commanded us to teach his commandments to our children, to our children’s children and to the strangers that live among us. We have an obligation before God to see to it that everyone in America knows God’s laws, statutes and judgments and the government doesn’t have the authority to prevent us from doing that any way we see fit. Public property belongs to us not them. The courts belong to us, not them. The schools belong to us, not them. We take back our land by taking it back at the local levels all across America. We defy them in every area and in every relation. Just like Obamacare is destined to die from lack of participation so too, we need to kill the unjust rulings and the unjust judgments by simply refusing to obey them. Force the congress, the senate, the President and the Supreme Court to back down by simply refusing to obey their unlawful laws, unlawful rulings, unlawful regulations. God is not so interested in their unjust judgments as much as in our allowing the unjust judgments to stand.

Have a happy day, I just thought it was worth mentioning.

KGS said...

The nationalism of a modern, vibrant, and very independent Jewish nation, which belongs within the mutually accepted realm of Western society, simply cannot be accepted by the radical Left that insists all Western displays of nationalism be absorbed (watered down) by mass immigration from 3rd world countries. They insist, no, they demand, that Jewish independence, and the just nationalism (Zionism) that energized them to achieve their long sought goal, to be vanquished, only then can the sins of the West be finally purged, regardless of how much blood, Jewish blood, is spilled in the process.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Kevin,

The nation state is the only context within which rights exist. International law only matters so long as nation states enforce it. The UN has been and remains a joke.

Human rights outside the nation state are an idea, not a reality. To make them into reality requires a structure and no transnational structure has been put into practice that can replace the nation state in that regard.

"In any event, nations should exist within a federal common law system, as in the roman republic. Natural law is universal, and force needs to be organized globally to enforce those rights. Nations may have their own unique laws that apply to citizens by subscription. Only those laws in common to all nations, should be enforced by the federal global government (not the UN, but something modeled on the roman republic or "coalition of the willing")."

That's a dead progressive dream which amounts again to a global nation state as an empire.

Anonymous said...

Ashtonic: A medical condition characterized by fear of growing horns out of one's head and sprouting hairs on the palms of the hand in the event that one uses the word "Jew".Recommended palliative alternatives: Yehudi, Judean, those of the Mosaic persuasion. For stronger treatment, the following are recommended: Christ killers, well poisoners, Eucharist defilers. (The reference is to Catherine Ashton, foreign secretary of the European Union, who is peculiarly averse to using to the J-word. In fact, she never once mentioned the word Jew in her speech to commemorate International Holocaust Day).

Anonymous said...

I agree that human rights exist only in the context of the nation-state. But they also, really, exist only in the context of democratic nation-states. So why can't Israel be a democracy, with equal rights for all? What is it that scares you so much about a democratic Israel - which, by definition, must mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state?

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Democratic is a term with very little useful meaning. A nation state is defined by its values more than by its elections.

The Arab Spring demonstrated that.

Beth said...

"And what else were they supposed to do when the lessons that they drew from the Holocaust are that the underdog is always right, that people in uniforms are bad and that you always have to stand up for minorities."


This makes so much sense it annoys me that I have never seen it stated so eloquently until now. Thank you. :)

Anonymous said...

OK, democracy is a necessary *but not sufficient* precondition of human rights. It's still a necessary precondition - as the behavior of the Israeli regime shows all too clearly. My question stands. Why does the prospect of democracy in Israel, with equal rights for all, scare you so much? And why would any Jew (or any person) who believes in democracy support a Jewish state, undemocratic by definition?

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Democracy isn't a necessary precondition for human rights. You can have human rights without democracy and democracy without human rights. It is however easier and more likely to achieve human rights in a democracy. And democracy itself is a human right.

Israel is democratic. More so than the Muslim countries surrounding it.

Anonymous said...

You say "To the Universalists, it was an inexplicable event that challenged the entire progressive understanding of history as a march toward enlightenment." But this is just not the case. We come from a world where tribes have consistantly merged to form alliances and to increase their likelyhood of survival and a happy life - nations are the result of these merging tribes and have inherited their good and bad attributes. As far back as history or even mythology can take us we see a world of conflict. This conflict is not grounded in nationalism or okuniversalism its grounded in our DNA, in our history and our impulse to see ourselves as better than others as well as our desire to take what we can and to seek revenge sometimes presented by the vengeful as justice. Together this potion of emotion and instinct produce a dangerous mix that keeps wars going with each nation believing it is in the right often fueled by religious feuds that have been in action for thousands of years. Universalist understand this. They also understand that in fact the holocaust was executed (no pun intended) by nationalists.

Now.. it is one thing for a person to feel sympathy for Palestinians many of whom do suffer from theor current circumstance even if they have often been the pawns of their own people and leaders. It is another thing to be an antisemite and I have no doubt that many who hate israel are fueled by an antisametic sentiment tied their religious and sometimes nationalistic cultures. And yes... some Universalist can be haters in disguise - haters who do not see the contradiction in their own thinking.

But make no mistake.... the world's wars are not promoted by u niversalists. And the Universalist ideal is a good one. What would be wrong with a workd of people who do not focus on our differences unless it is to celebrate them ! As for Israel - in a wold of 'nations' with the horrible track record of humanity it is an absolute necessity to have a Jewish state BUT I for one share the dream of peace among a humanity that does not look to provide different rights to different people simply because of where they were born. Sadly I think we are centuries away at best. But to knock the idea and talk of a Universalist Holocaust is twisted.

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