Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Conversations with a Holocaust Denier

Marc Tracy’s revue of Ruth Franklin’s new novel, Freedom appeared on Tablet on 2 December. One of the responders was a Holocaust Denier, Michael Santomauro. What follows is the entire stream of a six day exchange between us.

I only read preceding responses following my first response to the revue and my first response to him followed soon after.

The Holocaust, at least for we Jews, is a very real event in our own personal history. It has meaning and consequences for our lives far more immediate than any fiction could represent. Not even historical scholarship is adequate to the event. For us understanding its lessons within the context of our Diaspora experience represents nothing less than life and death.

Fiction, regardless how effective and dramatic in recreating the events of the Holocaust is still experienced by the reader as artistic expression, a fabrication of events as filtered by the experience and imagination of the artist.

Historical interpretation is also a reflection of the same process of inspiration (in this case ideology or prejudice; sorry historians, but we all come to the Present the product of our own personal history, and this necessarily colors our understanding and biases regarding the selection of data collected to relate the historical story), but at least the historian is making the effort to relate events “factually,” aspires to a degree of objectivity. And for this reason history is understood by the reader as “non-fiction.”

I suggest that while fiction and history may serve to reinforce our understanding, that the Holocaust is more than just a tragic event in our recent history, that it is part of an historical process that is centuries-, no millennia-long; that if we are not experiencing it viscerally then we are in denial about its true significance, are thereby perpetuating our own role as victim in this dialogue which Diaspora Jews have involuntarily participated in for nearly two thousand years.

Except that in the past we had not alternative; we were victims without escape. Today there is an alternative, and our choice to remain in Diaspora is a choice to accept whatever the future of this historical process may hold.

The stream begins here:

The bottom line is that the Holocaust is claimed to be a historical event like the Civil War or the New Deal and therefore writing about it should be subject to the same standards of historiography.

When Franklin says of Primo Levi’s Auschwitz memoir that it ”underwent a process of fictionalization” she should have said that he decided to pack his rather mundane experience in the German concentration camp with a bunch of fantastic lies.

The same can be said about Elie Wiesel, who she says of his book ”Night” that its ”poetic austerity comes at the expense of literal truth”.

Not a single memoir of the Holocaust or as a matter of fact not a single historical study of the Holocaust by establishment historians can withstand the cross examinations of Revisionist historians.

If you doubt this remember what Wiesel said ”some things that never happened are true and some things that happened are not true ”.

And one more thing:
I wish to express my outrage that the Holocaust, unlike any other historical event, is not subject to critical revisionist investigation. Furthermore, I deplore the fact that many so-called democratic states have laws that criminalize public doubting of the Holocaust. It is my position that the veracity of Holocaust assertions should be determined in the marketplace of scholarly discourse and not in our legislatures bodies and courthouses.
Let’s get rid of Holocaust denial laws in Israel and 16 other nations. That have been instituted in Israel in 1986 and for the other 16 nations since 1990. Decades after the event. Why?

What sort of Truth is it that crushes the freedom to seek the truth?

David Turner says:
In defending the pursuit of historical veracity through what he describes as an unbiased inquiry into the Holocaust, Michael Santomauro fails to distinguish between Holocaust inquiry and Holocaust denial. The first is an effort to marshal available facts in service of creating as “objectively” as possible, a past event. The second is to select from the available facts and, where absent, to extrapolate “facts” in order to present a predetermined ideological outcome.

Holocaust Denial takes many forms, represents various purposes. Some use it as a form of schadenfreude, the joy of creating and seeing others suffer. Some use it as a defense of their religion from the obvious part that millennia of Christian anti-Judaism played as foundation and inspiration to the crime. But such representations are not “history,” are not valid historical enquiry. Their purpose is not to describe factually, but to promote or defend a political or social position. And this is polemic, not history.

There are many volumes relating the prehistory of the Holocaust, the event itself and its significance for the future with which I am in sharp disagreement. But I do not for that reason deny their authors the right to the study and presentation of their views. Nor are laws criminalizing Holocaust Denial or any other form of incitement against a minority directed at independent scholarship, even when the agenda is ideologically revisionist.

You reason well, Mike. But you confuse your facts with the Facts.

Dear David Turner,

The Holocaust narrative reads like a conspiracy not Holocaust Revisionism!

Preeminent Holocaust expert Raul Hilberg summarized his thesis in 1983 before an audience of nearly 2,700 at Avery Fischer Hall in New York City: the entire German policy for the physical destruction of the Jews was to be explained by mind reading! No document attesting to this criminal policy could be found, because no such document existed. For several years, the entire German bureaucratic machinery operated through a kind of telepathy. As Hilberg put it:

“But what began in 1941 was a process of destruction not planned in advance, not organized centrally by any agency. There was no blueprint and there was no budget for destructive measures. They [these measures] were taken step by step, one step at a time. Thus came about not so much a plan being carried out, but an incredible meeting of minds, a consensus — mind reading by a far-flung bureaucracy.”

Let us note again those final words: “an incredible meeting of minds, a consensus — mind reading by a far-flung bureaucracy.”

In his 1985 “revised and definitive” edition of his book, in it, the University of Vermont professor did not use the expression “consensus” or “mind reading.” And yet he wrote:

“In the final analysis, the destruction of the Jews was not so much a product of laws and commands as it was a matter of spirit, of shared comprehension, of consonance and synchronization.”

I refuse to believe that which is not believable. I refuse to believe in the incredible. I refuse to believe in what Hilberg himself calls “an incredible meeting of minds.” I refuse to believe in mind reading or telepathy, just as I refuse to believe in the intervention of the Holy Ghost or in spontaneous generation. I take exception to any historical thesis, any system of historical explanation, based on such hare-brained notions.

Well, Mike, whether or not there was a plan or blueprint, whether or not the bureaucrats from Himmler on down got the message via telepathy, the evidence of Buchenwald and Auschwitz remains; the roll of Jews previously resident of Germany and France and Holland and Romania and Poland who vanished during the course of the Holocaust is also evidence of the event. Your position is based on ideology, not fact. It’s a form of “wishful thinking,” perhaps not that the Jews whose fate you dismiss as fancy were indeed victims of the West’s “final,” if incomplete solution to their Jewish Problem, but perhaps the adolescent joy of discovery of a flaw, the missing blueprint, that can be exploited to demonstrate to self and other your own superior insight.
In point of fact, Hitler wrote multiple times of his desire to murder the Jews, to erase the entire people (of course he used terms like parasite, vermin and bacillus) from the planet at least as far back as writing Mein Kampf in his jail cell. Interviewed in that cell by Josef Hell he said, “Once I really am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews. As soon as I have the power to do so, I will have gallows built in rows – at the Marienplatz in Munich, for example – as many as traffic allows. Then the Jews will be hanged indiscriminately, and they will remain hanging until they stink; they will hang there as long as the principles of hygiene permit. As soon as they have been untied, the next batch will be strung up, and so on down the line, until the last Jew in Munich has been exterminated. Other cities will follow suit, precisely in this fashion, until all Germany has been completely cleansed of Jews.” Of course this was 1922, before he was elected chancellor, before such primitive and time-consuming instruments of murder as the gallows was replaced by the efficient dispatch of life and remains through the application of Hitler’s idol Henry Ford’s assembly line at Auschwitz.

The evidence, the material evidence remains there, Mike.

The one piece of “evidence” you, and others of your thinking hang on is that we have not yet uncovered the “blueprint.” As if Germany would have admitted in writing that it was murdering the Jews! And who needed a roadmap or order; the Holocaust was quite content to progress “intuitively,” the blueprint already laid out by the fuehrer decades earlier. Are the battle plans for a war written in advance? The carnage proceeds at its own pace, advantages recognized and exploited or not. There is never a definitive “blueprint,” just the intention expressed by leadership to march. Why should the War Against the Jews by judged differently?
Speaking before SS officers at Poznan, Poland in 1943, Himmler stated that for which no blueprint existed: “…we have never conversed about it amongst ourselves, never spoken about it… I am talking about the “Jewish evacuation”: the extermination of the Jewish people. It is one of those things that is easily said. “The Jewish people is being exterminated,” every Party member will tell you, “perfectly clear, it’s part of our plans, we’re eliminating the Jews, exterminating them, ha!, a small matter.”

Dear David Turner,

At the end of the Second World War, the Allies confiscated a tremendous quantity of German documents dealing with Germany’s wartime Jewish policy, which was sometimes referred to as the “final solution.” But not a single German document has ever been found that orders or even refers to an extermination program. To the contrary, the documents clearly show that the German ‘final solution’ policy was one of emigration and deportation, not extermination.

Moreover, there is no documentary evidence that Adolf Hitler ever gave an order to exterminate the Jews, or that he knew of any extermination program. Instead, the record shows that the German leader wanted the Jews to leave Europe, by emigration if possible and by deportation if necessary.

Contrary to the popular propaganda image, the wartime German authorities were concerned about the high death rate in the concentration camps due to disease, and took measures to prevent deaths among the inmates. From a directive dated December 28, 1942, from the head of the SS camp administration office to all the German concentration camps, including Auschwitz. It sharply criticized the high death rate of inmates due to disease, and ordered that “camp physicians must use all means at their disposal to significantly reduce the death rate in the various camps.” Furthermore, it ordered: “The camp doctors must supervise more often than in the past the nutrition of the prisoners and, in cooperation with the administration, submit improvement recommendations to the camp commandants …” Finally, the directive stressed, “The ReichsfĂĽhrer SS [Himmler] has ordered that the death rate absolutely must be reduced.”

At one time, it was seriously claimed that the Germans exterminated Jews with electricity and steam, and that they manufactured soap from Jewish corpses. At Nuremberg, the United States charged that the Germans killed Jews at Treblinka, not in gas chambers, as is now claimed, but by steaming them to death.
These bizarre stories have also been quietly abandoned in recent years. 

In April 1990, Israeli historians conceded that the Germans did not manufacture bars of soap from the bodies of murdered Jews — contrary to what had been alleged for years in countless periodicals and supposedly authoritative history texts. If this story is not true, one might reasonably ask, how then did it ever get started? Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer had a ready answer. He charged that the Nazis invented it. In fact, this particular fable was first widely circulated in 1942 by the World Jewish Congress, and especially by its president, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise.

Michael Santomauro
Call anytime: 917-974-6367
What sort of TRUTH is it that crushes the freedom to seek the truth?

I have already suggested, Michael, that I do not read your comments as from the more typical Holocaust Denial lunatic fringe. Indeed, you sound reasonable and well-educated… in the documents that server your pursuit. Nor do I attack your right to pursue your studies as they affirm your beliefs. Nor do I reject most of the facts you marshal in defense of your thesis. The facts are generally correct, if not viewed within the actual process of the Holocaust. While there were beastly atrocities occurring in most ghettos, several were administered by officers whose approach seem out of sync with an outcome such as extermination. In fact the record of these more humane commandants was concerned for the preserving their wards as filling a labor shortage serving German war aims. Not exactly a humanitarian gesture. Von Braun likewise made efforts to keep his Jewish slaves alive as long as possible in pursuit of developing the super weapons that, had the war lasted a bit longer, might have ended differently. And there might not a Jew around today to respond to Deniers and Revisionists.

A far as the legend of Jews turned into soap goes, again your facts are OK, but context is, again, everything. Rabbi Weiss was an ocean away, subject to rumor no less than any person a continent away. The rumor of people into soap was actually born during the First World War when, if memory serves, the British and French used the lie as a propaganda instrument against the Germans. Considering the barbarism of the Holocaust, it is no stretch to suspect that the Germans were cleaning the stench of burned Jews with soap manufactured from their ashes.

Have you read my earlier quotes by Hitler in 1922, and Himmler in 1943? Himmler openly referred to the “secret” operation to “exterminate” the Jews: “The Jewish people is being exterminated, every Party member will tell you ‘perfectly clear,’ it’s part of our plans, we’re eliminating the Jews, EXTERMINATING THEM, ha!, a small matter.”

Dear David Turner
Link for the speech in question:
Excerpt from intro:

   Reading Himmler’s speech in its entirety, rather than the usual out-of-context quotations, results in a new level of understanding. Brief, out-of-context quotations have been used to support the orthodox Holocaust story since the end of the Second World War. For example, Lucy Dawidowicz cited the Himmler speech in her book, The War Against the Jews 1933-1945. She reproduced however only 197 of the more than 24,000 words and these with a translation which directly supports her thesis. Dawidowicz is not alone in the misleading use of the Posen speech. Gerald Reitlinger, in his volume, The Final Solution also quotes from the Posen speech. Reitlinger reproduces 205 of the 24,000 words.
   Carlos Porter has also provided interesting insights in his translation of the various controversial terms used by Himmler: ausrotten, ausmerzen, umbringen and totschlagen. Besides his translation of these German terms, Porter shows that all of these terms are used multiple times during the speech and that each is used at least once in a figurative sense. The less suspicious phrases in which these terms are used are never quoted in the traditional literature.
   Many of those who accept the orthodox version of the Holocaust story refuse to accept Porter’s translation of Ausrottung, and the other terms which are typically translated to mean extermination. Porter’s translation shows that there can be a benign interpretation of these words, especially when taken within the context of the entire speech.
   In 1993, Robert Wolfe, supervisory archivist for captured German records at the National Archives admitted that a more precise translation of Ausrottung would be extirpation or tearing up by the roots. Wolfe also pointed out that in Himmler’s handwritten notes for the speech, that Himmler used the term, Judenevakuierung, or evacuation of the Jews, not killing.

Mike, as I said earlier, I recognize that, for whatever reason, you are a serious student of the mass murder of my people on the European sub-continent. Your observations are useful as a caution to myself regarding accepting one or another translation from a foreign language. I am certainly aware of the problem in discussing Christian scripture, although while the standard of precision we might prefer can never be achieved word for word, still intent can be approximated from context. In the case of Matthew, for example, “his blood on our heads, and those of our children (from memory, not from text)” may or not have translated exactly from the original Greek or Aramaic (we can only rely on multiple rewrites over the first fifteen hundred years even for the present texts, and you know how meaning changes the original from the whisper-circle experiments. But whether or not the words are accurate, the meaning in context is suggestive. And that, and some other “original” texts have resulted in what one scholar estimates is the murder of one of every two Jews born in the past thousand years.

As regards the Himmler speech, I have read it in entirety and although some words have multiple possible meaning, the context and intent none-the-less refer to the systematic elimination of all Jews whom his soldiers were able to get their hands on. Was this originally the plan, as his words imply, or a progressive elimination of options leading to their disappearance? Does it matter? The fact is that between 1941 and 1945 roughly six million Jews ceased to exist.

You and I can quibble back and forth over ideas, something I find not without value. But we are not likely ever to agree. And the reason is that the Holocaust for you is a topic of interest, an intellectual challenge. For me the Holocaust is a stark reminder of how tenuous my existence is in a world that has murdered Jews for millenia.

The Holocaust was only the most recent attempt to solve the West’s Jewish Problem.

Dear David Turner,

Thank you for your input. In his 1988 book, Jewish Professor Arno Mayer calls for “excavations at the killing sites and in their immediate environs” to determine more about the gas chambers. In fact, such forensic studies have been made. The first was conducted in 1988 by American execution equipment consultant, Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. He carried out an on-site forensic examination of the alleged gas chambers at Auschwitz, Birkenau and Majdanek to determine if they could have been used to kill people as claimed. After a careful study of the alleged killing facilities, Leuchter concluded that the sites were not used, and could not have been used, as homicidal gas chambers. Furthermore, an analysis of samples taken by Leuchter from the walls and floors of the alleged gas chambers showed either no or minuscule traces of cyanide compound, from the active ingredient of Zyklon B, the pesticide allegedly used to murder Jews at Auschwitz. 

A confidential forensic examination (and subsequent report) commissioned by the Auschwitz State Museum and conducted by Institute of Forensic Research in Krakow has confirmed Leuchter’s finding that minimal or no traces of cyanide compound can be found in the sites alleged to have been gas chambers. 

The significance of this is evident when the results of the forensic examination of the alleged homicidal gas chambers are compared with the results of the examination of the Auschwitz disinfestation facilities, where Zyklon B was used to delouse mattresses and clothing. Whereas no or only trace amounts of cyanide were found in the alleged homicidal gas chambers, massive traces of cyanide were found in the walls and floor in the camp’s disinfestation gas chambers. 

An aside to another responder: 

Thank you, Leucippe. What appears above is a debate between two persons with opposite expressions (I cannot speak for Mr. Santomauro’s motives) of an issue important, perhaps central to Jewish identity and existence. I hope it helped clarify both sides of the issue for others not that familiar with the challenge to the reality of the Holocaust, the denial by some that the event ever occurred; or if it did, was greatly exaggerated, manipulated by the Jews for some purpose or other. Shades of the Protocols!

This is not the place to challenge Holocaust Denial; it takes many forms and reflects a range of motives from an effort to defend Christianity as inspiration and precedent, to the obvious provocation of the open antisemite. Neither is to be taken seriously as both, whether through subtlety born of self-deception, or willful polemic, fall well outside universally accepted norms of historical discussion. My debate with Santomauro above, his references to a missing “smoking gun,” the absence of a document by Hitler “ordering” or providing a “blueprint” for the Holocaust, while ignoring the existing record of writings, speeches and interviews precisely stating Hitler’s intentions, for example his 1922 jail cell interview, “Once I really am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews!”; or Himmler’s 1943 Poznan speech to his SS officers, “every Party member will tell you, we’re eliminating the Jews, exterminating them. Ha, a small matter!”

As regards the Himmler speech Mr. Santomauro tried blurring its obvious meaning through the subterfuge of mistranslation. Of course the speech was a translation, and of course individual words can be translated slightly differently. But the meaning comes through not by the weight of its individual words, but by its context. And by context Himmler’s meaning is as clear in 1943 as was Hitler’s in 1922.

Sorry Mike, raising the Zyklon B issue demeans, not promotes your efforts. The means of murder are, at best, a side issue. In fact later studies demonstrated that the results you refer to were, to be generous, in error. But again, this is a bogus issue. You fail to convince based on arguing from texts, and fail also by this detour.
Where previously I reserved judgment on your motives, perhaps a misguided history buff who joyfully “discovered” what he felt a flaw in historical process, you now emerge from the closet fully regaled. What is it about provoking Jews that motivates you? Is it the effort at getting a rise from us, or just the reaching out of the lonely to others also so for common identity and affirmation?
Dear David Turner,

As as I stated before:
“I refuse to believe that which is not believable. I refuse to believe in the incredible. I refuse to believe in what Hilberg himself calls “an incredible meeting of minds.” I refuse to believe in mind reading or telepathy, just as I refuse to believe in the intervention of the Holy Ghost or in spontaneous generation. I take exception to any historical thesis, any system of historical explanation, based on such hare-brained notions.”

Michael Santomauro
Call anytime: 917-974-6367
What sort of TRUTH is it that crushes the freedom to seek the truth?

So why is the Holocaust the object of your disbelief? Why are we Jews so important in your life?

Dear David Turner,

Thank you for asking the question.
Most of us are mentally trapped to think Jewish. Actually, it is safe to say that virtually every mainstream publication or or other type of media organ is “nothing more than a screen to present chosen views.” The great battle over the last century has been a battle for the mind of the Western peoples, i.e., non-Jewish Euros. The chosen won it by acquiring control over essentially the complete mainstream news, information, education and entertainment media of every type, and using that control to infuse and disseminate their message, agenda and worldview, their way of thinking, or rather the way they want us to think. Since at least the 1960s this campaign has been effectively complete. Since then they have shaped and controlled the minds of all but a seeming few of us in varying degree with almost no opposition or competition from any alternative worldview. So now most of us are mentally trapped in the box the chosen have made for us, which we have lived in all our lives. Only a few have managed to avoid it or escape it, or to even sometimes see outside of it, and so actually “think outside of the (Jewish) box.”

The Holocaust is often treated with reverence, and as a central event of world history. For many Jews, says Rabbi Michael Goldberg, a Jewish author and religious leader, the “veneration” of the Holocaust has become a new religion. “And as with any organized church,” he adds, “this Holocaust cult has its own tenets of faith, rites, and shrines.”

Two well-known Jewish writers, Seymour Lipset and Earl Raab, point ed out in their 1995 book, Jews and the New American Scene:

“During the last three decades Jews [in the United States] have made up 50 percent of the top two hundred intellectuals… 20 percent of professors at the leading universities … 40 percent of partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington … 59 percent of the directors, writ ers and producers.

This intimidating power is not a new phenomenon, but has long been an important factor in American life. In 1972, during a private White House meeting, President Richard Nixon and the Rev. Billy Graham spoke frankly about the Jewish grip on the media. “This stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain,” said Graham, the nation’s best-known Christian evangelist. “You believe that?,” Nixon responded. “Yes, sir,” said Graham. “Oh, boy,” replied Nixon. “So do I. I can’t ever say that, but I believe it.”

In 1978, Jewish American scholar Alfred M. Lilienthal wrote in his detailed study, The Zionist Connection:

“How has the Zionist will been imposed on the American people?… It is the Jewish connection, the tribal solidarity among themselves and the amazing pull on non-Jews, that has molded this unprecedented power … The Jewish connection covers all areas and reaches every level. Most Americans may not even sense this gigantic effort, but there is scarcely a Jew who is not touched by its tentacles.”

To sum up: Jews wield immense power and influence in the United States. The “Jewish lobby” is a decisive factor in US support for Israel. Jewish-Zionist interests are not identical to American interests. In fact, they often conflict.

As long as the “very powerful” Jewish lobby remains entrenched, there will be no end to the Jewish-Zionist domination of the US political system and the American media, the Zionist oppression of Palestinians, the Israeli threat to peace, and the bloody con­flict between Jews and non-Jews in the Middle East.

Well, Mike, you’ve redeemed yourself in my mind. For a moment I thought you were quitting with that Zyklon B addendum. I appreciate you coming completely out of the closet, putting aside the non-issue of freedom of speech, since your repeated appearance in this vehicle of the (for real) Jewish media certainly provide even you a forum to air your decidedly from the start anti-Jewish point of view. You quote freely from Jewish sources to “prove” your point but, if you don’t mind my saying, you cherry pick and distort by your selections. Wiesel, who admitted the nightmare too unimaginable to present as anything than in a fictive form certainly was not saying, as you would have it, that the Holocaust was a creation of imagination. Likewise that since no specific order or blueprint has yet been discovered, that the process by which the Holocaust unfolded was as if by telepathy. Again, the closest document I, for one, am aware of was the Himmler Poznan speech, which you choose to nit-pick the translation to suit your purposes but, I suggest, any unbiased reader in the German or English translation, would have little difficult understanding as a full admission that Germany from Hitler on down was fully aware of the program as full and systematic eradication of Jewish existence, if possible.

The one piece of evidence for a “Jewish Conspiracy” that you do point at, relating to Jewish achievement in the United States again, to the eyes of a dispassionate non-Jew might evoke envy but, since the majority of graduates from the universities are non-Jews, and the institutions themselves, and particularly the “ivy leagues” are or were originally Christian in origin; well, I agree, in the 200 years since our “emancipation” Jews have proportionately contributed more artists, scientists, professors, and overall Nobel laureates than the general public, in all lands of the Diaspora. In fact, it has been assumed that had Germany not destroyed their Jews they would have won the war.

Dear David Turner,
Remember the New York magazine cover story: “The Jewish Brain: Are Jew’s smarter?”
Oct. 19, 2005
Re: Are Jews Smarter?

Dear Ms. Senior:

Why is it okay for white Jews (Ashkenazim) to sub-divide themselves from the Sephardic lower IQ? (Forty-five percent of Israel’s population has the Sephardic IQ of 88.)

And it is not okay for other White ethnics to be able to do the same when reporting IQ scores? For example, at the very minimum, it would show Northern and Western Europeans to be comparable if not slightly higher than the Jewish-white IQ, when you eliminate the Eastern European IQ. In some categories the European-White IQ is way higher, such as in spatial reasoning, even for all White ethnics including the Eastern European. This is rarely reported in the mass media. I wonder why? It reminds me of a joke from the Jewish comedian David Steinberg, who is married to an Italian-Catholic: “Whenever I go to family gatherings, the Jewish side breaks things, and the Italian side fixes them!”

In folk psychology and folk sociology, when it comes to E. Q., even my Jewish supremacist acquaintances and friends will think they have been culturally short changed, thinking of themselves as an unhappy lot.

In aesthetics Jews “seem” to have an inferiority complex when it comes to physical aptitude, which I have argued with my Jewish friends, is absolutely uncalled for! For instance, in “folk talk,” my Jewish girlfriends believe what is often said (even by Bobby Fischer) about Jewish men in the “below the belt” department, that they have been short changed from all that inbreeding.

And what about Jewish women? Again, referring to David Steinberg’s promulgation of the joke: “What moves more Jell-O or Jewish women in bed”. The rate of Jewish men running away to marry “shiksa’s” for the under 35 age category is as high as 35-50%, depending on which data you want to embrace.

Are we to make a correlation from any of this?

The point being, it is hard to define what is a “Jewish brain” in the secular world. You mention the high percentage of Jewish Nobel Prize winners since its inception in 1901, yet about two-thirds of the Jewish winners come from inter-faith/inter-ethnic backgrounds. For centuries before 1901, the portion of Jewish contributions to the high sciences is almost void.
To refer to chess master Bobby Fischer (another one of those 1/2 Jews), is slanderous to Jews. Your readers should be aware that he hates Jews with a fervent passion, and blames virtually any bad that is happening in the world on organized Jewry.
You wrote: “Of course, there’s another side to this shining coin. Jewish cleverness has also been an enduring feature of anti-Semitic paranoia.”

The implication here for your readers misunderstanding is that anti-Semitism is the result of Jewish intellect. Historically it has been as a result of resource competition, belief in a moral and intellectual superiority and a fierce policy of non assimilation with the host countries which initially offered you admittance with friendliness. Anti-Semitism is not in any way a mental illness.

Western Civilization is a European-white accomplishment and Judaism has always been an appendage. Not the other way around.

We are a better world today because Western Civilization took the road to Athens over the road to Jerusalem.

If we had a proper scientific study involving IQ tests that are not skewed to fit one group in particular (by, for example, including musical intelligence tests that are currently excluded because some people “don’t believe in” musical intelligence) then all this Jewish intellectual narcissism would disappear up its own arsehole. Which is precisely why we will never see such a thing, for it would be truly “anti-Semitic”.

As long as we’re playing with racism and stereotypes, where do Jews rank in the greed and power scale? Or the bad landlord scale? Or the cause of social inequality, war and exploitation of lesser people scale?

One last thing, it’s too much of a reach to think that Charlemagne “lured” Jews there to lend money. Give me a break!

Michael Santomauro
Editorial Director

Apparently you sent me this latest in response to my observation regarding the contribution of Jews to Western society over the past century or so. I did not mean to offend or threaten; in fact mine was only an observation in response to your earlier comments. But again your facts appear, as earlier, strongly colored by your ideology. I am not aware that the skew towards Jewish recipients of the Nobel were progeny of mixed marriages. And what if they were, that still would not explain why the far superior Aryan genes contributing to their talents would not be even more powerfully expressed in marriages between two Aryans?

You ask, “Why is it okay for white Jews (Ashkenazim) to sub-divide themselves from the Sephardic lower IQ? (Forty-five percent of Israel’s population has the Sephardic IQ of 88.)” 

While I agree that among the ultraorthodox in Israel there is a tendency for the two groups to maintain separate communities, this is a cultural artifact reflecting their unique histories, not the superiority or bigotry you assert. And as to that reference to “the Sephardic IQ of 88,” once again, Mike, either you, or your source, is confabulating. And don’t take this wrong, I don’t mean to provoke yet another response regarding Aryan intellectual superiority, but Israelis are a world leader in techonological innovation from health care to computers. And I suspect that does not result from a population where “Forty-five percent of Israel’s population has the Sephardic IQ of 88.´Unless, of course, you mean that the other 55% of Israelis are so intelligent as to… But I suspect that is not your conclusion.

And finally, Mike, you truly achieved a new low in referring to Jewish women. “What moves more Jell-O or Jewish women in bed”. Of course, as always, you are quoting a Jew, this time a comedian. And, as usual, out of context (we Jews are known to use ourselves as the butt of our jokes). But even here your biases confuse your conclusions. If Jewish women are such active partners, why would “[the] rate of Jewish men running away to marry “shiksa’s” for the under 35 age category [be] as high as 35-50%”? Again, I question your statistics. But your conclusions…

Mike, this all began as you protesting that somehow the “Jewish press” controls the freedom of you and others to explore and express your beliefs. That Tablet, a Jewish journal, has provided you a forum to express yourself from your historical opinions on such anti-Jewish issues as Holocaust Denial, Aryan superiority, and defamation of Jewish womanhood is clear evidence that paranoia, while sometimes justified, fails this particular test.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The non-pacifist case against attacking Iran

Israel should sit back and allow the Iranian threat to continue to build. In the end, faced with the prospect of losing control of the strategic Middle East and its oil the United States will be forced to act. The alternative would be to lose credibility as the last remaining global superpower. And the cost of that failure would be incalculable and irreversible for the United States.

George W. Bush launched the war to topple Sadam Hussein on 20 March, 2003. Three months later he famously and prematurely declared victory aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln positioned off the coast of Iraq. According to the president, “our mission is clear, to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.” In the end there were no Iraqi WMD and the administration was also forced to admit that Sadam had no connection to either September 11 or al-Qaeda.

Shortly before his execution Sadam was asked about the missing WMD. His interviewer reports, "The threat from Iran was the major factor as to why he did not allow the return of UN inspectors. Hussein stated he was more concerned about Iran discovering Iraq's weaknesses and vulnerabilities than the repercussions of the United States for his refusal to allow UN inspectors back into Iraq."

With the withdrawal of US fighting forces on 19 August, 2010 the only observable American achievement following eight years of war that cost more than four thousand American lives, untold Iraqi deaths and more that $1 trillion in treasure is regime change for Iraq; and superpower America dependent on the restraint of the Iranian mouse that roared.

Iraq went to the polls on 7 March 2010 and the result was deadlock. Five months later, as the dust of the last withdrawing US combat vehicle settled on the Kuwaiti border Iraq still had no functioning government. And by all accounts the country is today closer to a bloodier civil war than it experienced in 2003 - 2007.

In an analysis of US options in post-withdrawal Iraq George Friedman, director of Stratfor writes, “There are many who are baffled by Iranian confidence and defiance in the face of American pressure on the nuclear issue. This is the reason for that confidence: Should the United States attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, or even if the United States does not attack, Iran holds the key to the success of the American strategy in Iraq.” In fact Dr. Friedman understates the problem for the US. American troops stationed in Iraq, the Gulf Arab states and Afghanistan are all at risk from Iranian supported proxies throughout the region. In Iraq the Islamic Republic arms, trains and provides guidance and leadership to anti-American Shiite militias. In Afghanistan Iran has the same relationship with the Taliban. The US is a virtual hostage to Iranian influence. And the United States is solely responsible for this situation, having toppled the Sunni Ba’ath regime of Sadam Hussein in Iraq.

The 1980- 1988 Iran-Iraq War cost Iran more than one million lives. The lesson was clear: Iraq under Sadam Hussein was to be avoided. When George Bush replaced the minority Sunni Baath regime with one controlled by the Shiite majority he threw wide the invitation to Iranian influence.

A Sh’ia (Iran)-controlled Iraq allowed Ahmadinejad to not only threaten US forces in Iraq, but to project Iranian influence and threat throughout the region. Iraq was the military buffer protecting the oil-rich Arabian Peninsula from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Another consequence of invading Iraq was that Bush gave the fundamentalist Iranian regime the appearance of equality with the United States in regional affairs, directly in Iraq, through its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas in the Levant and Egypt. Even in Saudi Arabia Iranian-influenced Sh’ia are the majority in the kingdom’s richest oil fields.

To return to the Friedman analysis: “The United States cannot withdraw completely without some arrangement… Iran would dominate the Persian Gulf region after the withdrawal. Thus, the United States… can stay in perpetuity and remain vulnerable to violence. It can withdraw and hand the region over to Iran. It can go to war with yet another Islamic country. Or it can negotiate with a government that it despises — and which despises it right back.”

Debka, Israel’s equivalent of Stratfor, viewing American policy from a regional perspective, draws a much bleaker vision for Iraq’s future. “According to US intelligence, [the Shiites] are preparing to capture large parts of Baghdad as well as Habaniya, Ramadi, Tikrit, Falluja and sections of Anbar Province, in order to … [force the Sunnis] to accept their loss of political influence and… the loss of more territory in the cities…The second [goal] is to crush the power bases the Saudis are building in [Sunni sectors of] Iraq at great expense. While the Saudis and the Syrians are spending money to buy off Maliki's supporters, he plans to physically destroy the Sunni power centers in which they are investing.”

And while the Sunnis and Shiites fight their own civil war, Debka continues, “the Kurds of the north… plan to exploit the anticipated armed Sunni-Shiite feud to drive south and grab parts of central Iraq up to a line some 250 kilometers north of Baghdad.”

And where does Debka see Iran in all of this? “Tehran is also eyeing rich spoils in Iraq's post-American era… the southern oilfields centering on the city of Basra, which account for about 60 percent of the country's oil output.”

So here we are, 19 August, 2010, witness to the last of American combat forces having left Iraq. What are America’s options? Having destroyed Iraqi deterrence to Iran; having allowed Iran to project threat and influence from Saudi Arabia to Egypt; having allowed through accommodation Iranian progress towards nuclear status; how will the current president respond?

To date the signs are that the US will continue the Bush-Obama diplomacy-over-war effort at accommodation. But nothing is more likely to lead to a regional loss of confidence in the United States as regional defender than the kind of indecision and avoidance that has characterized American policy towards Iran for the past eight years. And this is the reason for the rapid deterioration of American influence in the oil-rich and strategic Middle East. Absent American willingness to eliminate the Iranian threat, the Arabs feel they have no choice but to seek accommodation with the new American-created, soon to be nuclear hegemon.

During his 6 July, 2010 interview with Jeff Goldberg of The Atlantic, United Arab Emirates’ Ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba said, 'We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.' [Goldberg] asked him, Do you want the U.S. to stop the Iranian nuclear program by force? And he answered: ‘Absolutely, absolutely.’" According to reliable sources both the Saudis and the Egyptians delivered the same message to the administration, “Absolutely, absolutely.”

Turkey, of course, has already made it clear that it not only views America as irresolute and undependable, it has confidently defied its erstwhile ally and protector by not only voting against America’s UN sanctions resolution, but violates those sanctions by supplying Iran with gasoline and other petroleum distillates. And to further make the point of independence and defiance, the Turks now openly support Hamas and Hezbollah, Iran’s proxies in the Levant. And of course there was also that Turkish blockade-busting flotilla to which the United States, characteristically, stood quietly by as observer. Only afterwards, the damage done, did the administration once again realize the mistake after the fact and try to minimize the damage.

The Saudis recently warned that, absent decisive action by the United States to eliminate the Iranian threat, that they, like Turkey, would see no choice but to also reach an accommodation with Ahmadinejad. Should that happen American influence in the region would plummet, and her only remaining island of support in the region would be Israel.

The September 11, 2001 attacks set the stage for emotion to override common sense among US decision makers. One year later and six months before the invasion, in September of 2002 CIA Director George Tenet came to Bush with reliable information provided by Iraq’s foreign minister Naji Sabri, that Iraq had no WMD. According to Sabri it was all a bluff by Sadam to keep the Iranians at bay. But, according to Tenet, the president was not interested. Tenet writes that, “the administration was already committed to invade.” Whatever his true motives, Bush invaded and set the US on a course destined to place itself in a relationship of dependence on Iran for the security of its forces, its pursuit of the war, even its ability to end the war. It is no less dependent on Iran today.

The United States has little choice but to either confront directly what all states of the region consider a mortal threat, or to fall back on the wishful possibility that maybe just one more round of diplomacy might finally convince the Iranians to abandon the bomb and become good neighbors.

Of course the US always knows it has another option. Aware that war with Iran will, as occurred in 2003, result in hyper-inflation in the price of oil, and that this would likely tilt the world into a deeper recession, or worse; knowing that attacking Iran will result in an escalation of American casualties at the hands of Iran and her proxies in Iraq and Afghanistan; does it not make better sense to avoid direct conflict, to protest loudly but leave the deed, and the fallout, to Israel? If America waits long enough then Israel is likely to attack.

And this is the point. Israel would be justified, failing American resolve to protect its own regional interests, to pre-emptively attack Iran in its own defense. But can Israel sustain the fallout from the action? If, compared to attacking Iran, such relatively minor incidents as Operation Cast Lead or the boarding of the Mavi Marmara brought such intense international ire and isolation, can Israel afford, even survive the international isolation attacking Iran would bring? Israel justifiably sees a nuclear Iran as an existential threat. Would not the fallout resulting from the attack also constitute an existential threat?

Israel has other options. The Iranian threat is regional and not just to Israel. The Iranians have to be stopped, but not by a single member of the threatened regional community. The Saudis agree to “quietly” open their airspace to Israeli fighters, great; Egypt allows Israeli warships to transit Suez, wonderful. But is that the limit of their responsibility for containing the Iranian threat? Since the threat is regional the response must likewise be regional. Absent American leadership Israel should not heroically go it alone, should insist on Arab participation, a second “Coalition of the Willing.”

The result of this coalition would be that Israel is but one of several, including the oil producers, and so not alone responsible for the global economic fallout. The coalition would also serve to create a new reality in the Middle East, an alliance consisting of Israel and the Arab states.

Absent the participation of the Saudis, the Gulf Arabs and Egypt as part of the armada Israel should sit back and allow the Iranian threat to continue to build. In the end, faced with the prospect of losing control of the strategic Middle East and its oil the United States will be forced to act. The alternative would be to lose credibility as the last remaining global superpower. And the cost of that failure would be incalculable and irreversible for the United States.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Israel beyond Zionism?

“Legitimizing Haredi control over conversion is a stalking horse for that other Haredi ambition, passage of Who is a Jew. With passage of Who is a Jew, discrimination against the non-orthodox, which includes the vast majority of Diaspora Jewry, becomes law of the land.”

Herzl would have to be ambivalent about the state of the Jews one hundred years after his death. He correctly assumed that having our own state would return us to “normalcy” as nation and as individuals. We farm the land and successfully defend the land we farm. We have our own government which, with an array of parties and ideologies for the voter to choose from, is surely the most democratic in the world. We are a world leader in the fields of medical and hi-tech innovation; have for decades pioneered such now trendy “green” industries as solar and wind power, offshoot industries such as electric powered transportation. In agriculture Israel first developed sprinklers, then drip and deep root watering for arid land farming, developed domestic plants adapted to arid climates. And for decades Israel has freely shared her expertise and innovations with the hungry of third world countries.

But “normal” also means that the state of the Jews has, under constant threat and open warfare, living with the obligation and burden of military service and taxation led to Israelis gradually seeing themselves as citizens of Israel rather than the avant garde of the Jewish People in our collective Zionist enterprise. And we of the Diaspora, ourselves aware of the threats and pressures facing Israel and Israelis over the decades, have respected the boundary between state and Diaspora, have hesitated to express ourselves in most internal affairs of Israel, even those that impacted the Diaspora.

The result has been an ever-widening gulf between Diaspora Jewry and the state of the Jews, with the partnership of the Zionist Project receding as a result.

What is the Zionist Project, how does it even apply to 21st century Jewry? Zionism was born of the mid-to-late 19th century realization that our emancipation from serfdom and religious persecution did not mean we would be accepted into the newly secular states emerging in the west. Long before Herzl’s nationalist awakening during the anti-Dreyfusard riots in Paris, in his book Auto-Emancipation Leon Pinsker had decades earlier concluded that Jewish security would always be subject to the mood of the majority among whom we reside, that Jewish survival could only be assured in a Jewish homeland capable of its own defense.

But not even Pinsker and Herzl could have even imagined the degree of threat we faced mere decades in their future. Without the Holocaust, the west’s first attempt at a final solution to the Jewish Problem, Israel would likely have remained nothing but a dream among our fringe, a millennial and continuing yearning, “next year in Jerusalem!”

Israeli and Diaspora Jewry consider the creation of the State of Israel the culmination of Zionism. It is not. This was clearly understood and put into law by the first Knesset. With the ovens just cooling at Auschwitz, among the first of the Basic Laws was the definition and commitment of Israel as the instrument of Zionism. The opening line of the 1950 Law of Return states that, “Every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh.” Israel’s Zionist mission, its reason for being, is to provide every Jew in need a home of choice, a refuge in time of need. The Law specifically excludes limitations such as, “only Jews “halachically pure” need apply, even were Halacha as rigid as some among the Haredi would like us to believe it is. The full intent of the Law cannot be made more clear than its Grandchild Clause, a provision extending refuge to anyone who falls under Germany’s 1932 Nuremburg Laws. Those laws define as “Jew” and subject to murder anyone with a single Jewish grandparent.

Israel has avoided writing a formal constitution, likely because of the delicate balance between the contradictory demands of secularism and orthodoxy in the state of the Jews. Orthodoxy in Israel is estimated as less than 25% of the Jewish population, less than 10% in the United States. But the prominence of Haredi parties in the Knesset and coalition gives them a platform and impact far beyond their small numbers. The issue of Who is a Jew is raised periodically in the Knesset, and while it has so far failed to pass into law, to judge by recent efforts in more main-stream Knesset forums and public discourse, resistance to the issue, typically expressed in challenging the status of the Law of Return, is eroding.

For decades rivalry between right-wing and left-wing parties has required whichever party achieved the most votes in an election to turn to the Haredi parties to form a coalition government. This effectively meant that the secular parties were hostage to Haredi political and social demands. This leverage has given the Haredi community social and economic advantages well beyond those enjoyed by all other Israelis. Only in the demand to define as “Jew” for matters religious and civil, the Who is a Jew proposal, did Knesset and state appear to draw the line.

So it is surprising that the Knesset Constitution and Law committee under the secular chairmanship of Yisrael Beiteinu’s David Rotem is promoting a change in the conversion process which would return control of the Conversion Courts to the Chief Rabbinate, effectively providing a Haredi a veto over Who is a Jew.

At the heart of Who is a Jew is the definition of Israel as secular and democratic, and committed to the Zionist Project, or sectarian, exclusionary and, at least as regards the non-orthodox Diaspora, anti-Zionist. Should the Rotem proposal regarding conversion pass the Knesset and become law Who is a Jew will also in time grow less controversial, find less resistance among secular policy-makers. Over time Israelis will adjust to their new change of status as they adjusted to the ban on public transportation on Shabbat. But where the Diaspora is unaffected by Shabbat public transportation in Israel, Who is a Jew has an immediate impact on our Jewish identity, on our status in Israel. So Diaspora Jewry are understandably troubled by this legislation. Should Rotem become law the reaction by US Jewry would almost certainly be immediate and harmful to Israel at a time when she is in dire need our support.

But of even greater importance for the long-term survival of the Jewish people is the impact of any such Haredi-inspired law calling into question the identity of Jews, of its impact on the bedrock of Israeli Zionist obligation, the Law of Return. Limit the Law and Israel will have abandoned its reason for being. Even were a back-door compromise on the Law written in, such as suspending Who is a Jew if and when the Diaspora faces another Holocaust, Jews living in the Diaspora would long-since have grown distant from Israel, will have become accustomed to view Israel as inhospitable and anti-Jewish. At that crucial moment, when hesitation would prove fatal, our Diaspora might well hesitate. And Israel would be responsible.

Israel is the creation of the Diaspora. Even before the Holocaust we anticipated the need for refuge. The state of the Jews is not the property of its current Jewish residents. In matters of defense and taxation and Shabbat transportation Israel is free to decide. In matters of Jewish identity, issues that intimately affect the Diaspora, she is not.

Of course Israel is a sovereign country and free to pass whatever laws she deems fit. And if Israel chooses to accommodate exclusionary forces within her Haredi community over the needs and concerns of our Diaspora she certainly has the power to do so. But doing so comes with baggage. Who is a Jew is anti-Zionist in form and intent. To adopt it, or steps towards it such as Rabbinate control over conversion and identity, is anti-Diaspora in form and intent.

Legitimizing Haredi control over conversion is a stalking horse for that other Haredi ambition, passage of Who is a Jew. With passage of Who is a Jew, discrimination against the non-orthodox, which includes the vast majority of Diaspora Jewry (Israelis are already, for the most part, reconciled to the intrusion), becomes law of the land.

Israel has embarked on a treacherous path the obvious outcome being an unbridgeable breach with the Diaspora. Having abandoned her Zionist mission she will then face a hostile world alone, without even the assurance of Diaspora support.