Syria’s Tragedy Distilled: A Short Chat with Dr. Zaki Lababidi, Vice President, Syrian American Council

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To be decoded:

Forty-six years: 1971.
Forty-one years: 1976
Nineteen Separated Security Services.

BackChannels enjoyed a brief chat by phone with Dr. Zaki Lababidi, Vice President of the Syrian American Council.  Mission: ” . . . to empower the Syrian-American community to organize and advocate for a free, democratic, secular and pluralistic Syria through American support.”

In the morning 🙂 , the notebook says “41” or “46” and “1971” and “Emergency Rule” and “19 Security Services”.

It also quotes Lababidi as saying, “You could be picked up for anything!”

So into the brutal mysteries of Cold War Era political machinery let us go, albeit in the way of (I hope) good blogging, briefly.

1971

What Nazi Germany could not hold, including loose political energy, the Soviet Union picked up handily, so that in 1956, a young Hafiz al-Assad joined the Baath Party as an activist set on a familiar authoritarian course into maturity: military career; coup sending civilian Party leaders into exile; Minister of Defense; a soul-changing military defeat (by Israel, 1967); and ascent to power, first as prime minister of Syria and then as president: 1971.

In that same year, Hafiz al-Assad agreed with the Soviet Union to host a naval “Material-Technical Support Point” in Tartus, perhaps the result of Assad’s recruitment into the Ba’ath Party extending back only 15 years from that agreement.

1976

In the wake of the 1963 Ba’athist coup, the Muslim Brothers did more than beg to disagree with secular governance and met by dictatorship were summarily outlawed.  Wikipedia suggests radicalization ensued and twelve years later — 1976 — a series of assassinations of Ba’athist officers, civil servants, and educated professionals would be credited to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Syria’s “Emergency Laws” or “Emergency Rule” had been set in motion and place since the 1963 coup and the Muslim Brothers response to it and would have been similarly enforced in the wake of assassinations by Islamic extremists.  In 1976 the Syrian Lawyer’s Union formed a human rights committee to challenge the law and its abuses.  Although Bashar al-Assad lifted the Emergency Rule in April 2011, the regime’s opposition continued to face a police state delivered by way of those “19 security Services”.

19 Security Services

There need be no essay here — and here the interview may resume as Lababidi notes, “nineteen security services, each reporting directly to Bashar al-Assad and each spying on the other.”

The Assad regime had believed itself coup proof.

However, the absurdities in the injustices of fascist police state would motivate with its sadism literally an army of defectors and while sustaining the miseries of rebellion.

When in 2011 when youngsters who had joined the intended peaceful “Arab Spring” demonstrations were arrested and thrown into prison, Lababidi reports that parents who went to see them were told, “Forget about your children.  Go make more babies.”

Mixed in with the atmosphere of that day were government demands familiar to Russian imperial history: “You needed a permit from the government for everything — to travel, to get married, to buy a house,” says Lababidi.

Lababidi claims that Islamic extremists in Germany were infiltrated into Syria while the same type among Syrian prisoners were also released into the field, which fits with the BackChannels’ argument that Assad acted to produce the enemy that would be most useful to him in realpolitik as well as as an image builder for “Assad v The Terrorists”.

All Syrians challenging Assad became “terrorists”, noted Lababidi.

We talked about other things . . . the bombing of 15 Syrian hospitals by Russian air force; the diminished numbers of Syrian troops fighting for Assad — “eighty-five percent other military,” says Lababidi referring to Hezbollah, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and others scraped up with “one-hundred dollars a month and an AK47”.

Given the suffering imposed on millions by Assad and the cultural emphasis on the want of revenge, Lababidi says, “There will be no peace if Assad stays in power.”

However, the opposition hasn’t the military power to topple Assad, according to Lababidi, and has no appetite to go to war with Russia.

We also briefly touched on Syria and the state’s sustained anti-Semitic attitudes, beliefs, policies, and postures, and to that Lababidi states, “We get the most help from the Jewish Community!”

Noting Hitler’s pairing of himself with Germany through massive propaganda and the enforcement of change in the social grammar from saying “Germany” to always saying “Hitler and Germany”, Lababidi notes the same behavior in Assad’s reinforcement of his power: “One must always say, “Syria Assad!”

At age 16 and having experienced fascist Ba’athist socialism, so called, Lababidi told himself, “If this is life here, I’m not interested.”

When he left Syria, he was among those who wanted to meet a Jew to see “if they looked like us”, so pervasive had been the propaganda cartoons and other anti-Semitic imagery.  Given the related necessary empirical observation: “We became best friends”.  

Too Much War

“We have not been able to experience PTSD” (Post Traumatic Syndrome Disease), notes Lababidi in relation to the experience of being trapped within or in proximity to the continuous and unrelenting violence of war.

When PTSD — traumatized biological memory in its interaction with the mind — that tells about the depth in evil and horror left poorly addressed by so many parties connected to the apparently continuing destruction of Syria.

Reference

Britannica.  “Hafiz al-Assad”.

CNN.  “Syria’s al-Assad leaves state of emergency in place.”  Staff, March 30, 2011.

France24.  “Syrian President Ends Five Decades of Emergency Rule.”  April, 22, 2011.


George, Alan.  Syria: Neither Bread Nor Freedom. P. 109.  UK: Zed Books, 2003 :

In reality, Syria’s State of Emergency has little to do with the Israeli threat; rather, it is, in the words of Middle East Watch, ‘the central legal mechanism and justification for the Syrian repressive system’.  Middle East Watch further commented: ‘After twenty-either uninterrupted years [now 40 years] of a state of emergency . . . there is now an overwhelming presumption that the ’emergency’ is simply an excuse for the regime to suppress legitimate domestic opposition.”

Alan George’s Syria: Neither Bread Nor Freedom on Amazon USA


Global Security. “Syria Intelligence & Security Agencies”.

Human Rights Watch.  “II. Recommendations To the Syrian Government”.  Section of report, 2007.

MacFarquhar, Neil.  “Hafex al-Assad, who Turned Syria Into a Power in the Middle East, Dies at 69.”  The New York Times, June 11, 2000: Hafez al-Assad passed away on June 10, 2000.  The New York Times said of his tenure, “The bloodless power grab he staged in November 1970 brought stability and the first modern construction of roads, schools and hospitals. Mr. Assad followed the Soviet model of a single-party police state, constructing a network of 15 competing intelligence agencies that spied on his own people.”

Wikipedia. “1963 Syrian coup d’etat”.

Wikipedia.  “Islamist Uprising in Syria”.

Wikipedia. “Russian Naval Facility in Tartus”.


Research / Reference Addendum

Asher-Schapiro, Avi.  “The Young Men Who Started Syria’s Revolution Speak About Daraa, Where It All Began.”  Vice News, March 15, 2016.

BBC News.  “Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle.”  July 30, 2012:

At one protest in Deraa, many shouted slogans denouncing Maher, including: “Maher you coward. Send your troops to liberate the Golan.”

By late April, witnesses said the fourth division’s tanks had cut off Deraa and were shelling residential areas, while troops were storming homes and rounding up people believed to have been taking part in the protests.

The US subsequently announced sanctions against Maher, saying the fourth division had “played a leading role in the Syrian regime’s actions in Deraa”. The EU also imposed sanctions on Maher, describing him as the “principal overseer of violence against demonstrators”.


CBS News / Global Post.  “How Schoolboys Began the Syrian Revolution.”  April 26, 2011:

DARAA, Syria — It was the small act of defiance that catapulted Syria to the frontline of the Arab revolution.

And it came not from the organized opposition in Damascus or Aleppo or any other major Syrian city, but from the graffiti cans of school boys in a run-down border town half way to the desert.

“As-Shaab / Yoreed / Eskaat el nizam!”: “The people / want / to topple the regime!”


Hassan, Ahmad.  “The Incompetence of Syria’s Security Services.”  Al-Akhbar, March 4, 2014:

“Meanwhile, a car passes by the checkpoint and explodes a few miles away” 34-year-old Fadi M. told Al-Akhbar. “How can we be confident these services can preserve security and stability?”

“Sadly, we had security services that could hear a man’s conversations with his wife but couldn’t discover arms shipments at the beginning of the crisis,” he sighed.


Omran Center for Strategic Studies.  “The Syrian Security Services and the Need for Structural and Functional Change.”  November 18, 2016:

This study finds that the Syrian state does not possess a “security sector” from a technical definition perspective sufficient enough to deserve reform. As it stands, security work in Syria falls into two categories: The first concerns forces of control and repression. Among these are the Air Force and Military Intelligence Directorates, which are divisions of the Syrian Army and the Armed Forces; the General Intelligence Directorate, which is a division of both the National Security Bureau and the ruling party (the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party), while political security forms a division of the Ministry of Interior. The second category is military-security networks (such as the Republican Guard, the 4th Armored Division, and the Tiger Forces) that bear the responsibility of engineering the security process, determining its relationships and foundations, ensuring the regime’s security, and carrying out all measures and operations within society whenever there is sign of a security threat. Accordingly, two flaws and aberrations can be identified: The first relates to the security structure’s fragmentation, which in the past has helped curtail community activity, while also limiting its progress and development. The second issue relates to the function of these services, which is characterized by fluidity and boundlessness, with the exception of its permanent role consolidating and bolstering the regime’s stability. Indeed, any reform process of these services must target their function and structure at the same time.

 


Wikipedia entries generally offer outbound and reflexive reference related to any given page, so these three may suffice to suggest how well wrapped in intelligence and security operations the state has been — and how understandable the rebellion against it.

Wikipedia: “Category: Syrian Intelligence Agencies”.

Wikipedia.  “General Intelligence Directorate (Syria)”.

Wikipedia.  “Law Enforcement in Syria”.

Wikipedia. “National Security Bureau of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party — Syria Region”.

Wikipedia. “Political Security Directorate” (Syria).

— 33 —

Political Spychology DeLITEful: Pavel Stroilov’s 2011 Pastiche

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In the same conversation, Arafat confided:

There are 250,000 Palestinians living in the US. 8,000 of them are university lecturers. Palestinians are highly educated people. Our level of education is higher than the Israelis’.22

May I be so bold as to suggest: the high proportion of American university lecturers among the long-suffering Palestinian people is a factor which needs much more attention from analysts of the Middle East. It may explain a lot.

Under the Soviet and Arab pressure, the PLO was internationally recognized as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” (imagine al-Qaeda being recognized today as the sole legitimate representative of the world’s Muslims).

Stroilov, Pavel. Behind the Desert Storm: A Secret Archive Stolen From the Kremlin that Sheds New Light on the Arab Revolutions in the Middle East (p. 45). Price World Publishing. Kindle Edition, 2011,

If a secret gets out but no one hears it or reads about it, does it count?

🙂

The key is in the “if no one”.

In fact, the professional politico in or around Russian studies knows of, say, the Mitrokhin Archive, Ion Mihai Pacepa, the volumes listed in the “Russian Section” of this blog, and doubtless Russian as well plus an enormous “much else”.

The public at large?

Perhaps not so much.

For that, Pavel Stroilov proves easily read, delightfully illuminating, and reliably provocative.

Here’s where he begins:

 This book, I am proud to say, proceeds from a grand theft aggravated by high treason.

To be more precise, it concludes a whole series of crimes—and puts a stop to it.

I have stolen these secrets from Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet dictator, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. I covertly copied thousands of secret Politburo documents from the Gorbachev Foundation Archive, and then smuggled them out of Russia.

Who among the enthused for liberal democracy would not be charmed?

And here within the virtual pages of the Kindle edition, the past catches up with the present:

Chapter 3:
Comrades and Ayatollahs

…The movement continues in the right direction: the resistance to imperialist forces. Very important roles belong to Syria and even to Iran. In this sense, Iran is our ally, even though we are very different.

Mikhail Gorbachev to Hafez Assad, 28 April 1990

BackChannels joyously recommends reading “Pavel” to Cold War beginners, and, as may be glimpsed from more critical reviews cited, as a way on to the bridge between Cold War history and today Middle East conflicts.

Additional Reference

BackChannels

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/11/23/moscows-rules-a-module/

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/11/28/a-short-page-referencing-works-by-or-associated-with-ion-mihai-pacepa/

General Reading Online

Berlinski, Claire.  “The Cold War’s Arab Spring: How the Soviets Created Today’s Middle East.”  Tablet, June 20, 2012.

Kalinovsky, Artemy.  “On the (supposedly) sensational documents from the Gorbachev Foundation Archives.”  Critical review.  LSE Ideas, May 17, 2010.

National Security Archive, George Washington University (portal).


Radchenko, Sergey.  “Behind the Desert Storm: A Secret Archive Stolen from the Kremlin That Sheds New Light on the Arab Revolutions in the Middle East by Pavel Stroilov (review).  Journal of Cold War Studies, pp. 266-268, 14:4, Fall 2012:

Devoid of any scholarly analysis, the book is full of nonsense, some of it derived from far-fetched interpretations of Stroilov’s source material and some borrowed from popular conspiracy theories. Fortunately, Stroilov is relatively brief with his own comments. Most of the book is made up of verbatim transcripts of documents, including memoranda of Gorbachev’s conversations with foreign leaders, Politburo transcripts, and various enlightening notes penned by Gorbachev’s chief foreign policy aide, Anatolii Chernyaev, and by other officials. Although excerpted and often cited out of context, these documents offer an interesting glimpse into the dynamic of Gorbachev’s policymaking and disclose hitherto unknown aspects of Soviet diplomacy during the first Gulf War.


Wilson Center.  Cold War International History Project (portal).

Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_measures

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuri_Andropov

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Peace_Council


Stroilov-bio

–33–

FTAC: “Oh, Jerusalem” and Islam’s New Divide

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The prompt was the familiar — too familiar — and now cliche threat: the whole Muslims world will now unify against the “Little” and “Great” Satan that would be Israel and the United States were it not that Moscow, Damascus, and Tehran have consistently and with enthusiasm proven themselves cruel and evil to the Believers fervent or moderate:

Unless directed by Moscow — the PLO was once its projects; Hezbollah and Hamas remain its clients; Assad and Khamenei remain its fellows in dictatorship — the “Jerusalem Move” may well divide Islam.

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/islam-supports-israels-right-of-existence/

The “Palestinian Cause” isn’t what it was when cobbled together by the Soviet Union and pressed into the minds of the unknowing or leaders venal enough to inspire jealousy and leverage it into greater power for themselves — and what sadistic and tyrannical selves they proved to be.

The Palestinian popular charges of corruption leveled at Mahmoud Abbas and the Hamas leadership as well — and their reputations for growing wealthy off funding intended for Palestinian development — may also turn support away from old Soviet Moscow’s pernicious designs. (Note: the Soviet Union will have been dissolved 26 years this coming December 25).


Referenced

Dahri, Noor.  “Islam Supports Israel’s Right of Existence.”  Times of Israel, October 16, 2016.

For Noor Dahri and other devout Muslims knowledgeable in the interpretation of the Qur’an, the “Jerusalem Decision” may call for choosing between Moscow’s tired incitements and manipulations of the Muslim community and a renewed message in scripture.

Related on BackChannels

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2015/10/12/ftac-tip-to-the-kgbs-amplification-of-middle-eastern-anti-semitism/

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/03/08/bds-cult-modules/

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/09/23/ftac-these-too-are-palestinians/ 

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/10/03/palestinian-kgb/

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/11/28/a-short-page-referencing-works-by-or-associated-with-ion-mihai-pacepa/

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/12/27/excerpt-1920s-the-spread-of-hate-russia-germany-laqueur/

 

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2017/07/29/ftac-antidote-to-what-poisoned-the-palestinians/

On Palestinian Corruption

Eldar, Shlomi.  “Palestinian journalists frustrated with inability to cover PA corruption.”  Al-Monitor, January 12, 2017:

No journalists in Gaza — no matter how senior — would even think of criticizing the leaders of Hamas, and in the Palestinian Authority (PA), criticism of any kind against President Mahmoud Abbas, or exposure of corruption in the PA, could result in the journalist’s arrest.

“We all known there’s terrible corruption in the PA,” a senior veteran journalist from Ramallah, the seat of the PA in the West Bank, told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “We know hundreds of stories about senior PA officials and about Abbas’ sons, but we can’t publish them or even talk openly about them.”

 

Laub, Karin and Mohammed Daraghmeh.  “In tough times, most Palestinians view government as corrupt.”  AP, May 24, 2016:

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — A gated community of villas with well-tended flower gardens near the West Bank town of Ramallah may help explain why Palestinians almost universally believe there is corruption in the government of President Mahmoud Abbas.

The secluded “Diplomatic Compound,” built for senior Palestinian Authority officials on subsidized land, is one of the symbols of what many Palestinians think is wrong with their leaders — that they are cut off from the people and award themselves special privileges.

Menenberg, Aaron.  “Terrorists & Kleptocrats: How Corruption is Eating the Palestinians Alive.”  The Tower, June 2014.

The Tower.  “New Survey: 96% of Palestinians Believe Palestinian Authority is Corrupt.”  May 24, 2016.

Toameh, Khaled Abu.  “Palestinians: ‘The Mafia of Destruction’.”  Gatestone Institute, September 21, 2016.

FTAC Addendum

I think there’s more to the story as Moscow and Tehran crowd Israel with military presence beyond Hezbollah alone.   In essence, te Cold War’s tension is back in place, and this time — and at this time — it appears the United States has chosen to assert western power with a move certain to be opposed but with uncertain cohesion in the Russo-Arab and Russo-Iranian spheres of control and influence. What Washington may have just done with Jerusalem stands counter to Moscow’s assertions of power in Syria and Ukraine. We have more or less planted a flag forward and now will see some return from the Russo-Iranian axis.

–33–

FTAC: Being “Global Elite” and . . . Nothingness

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“For the global elite socialism is a tool to control the masses. Use government to provide enough stuff to keep passions in check. If a guy has an apartment, access to free porn and beer he likely won’t revolt. “

Almost “ouch”!

One becomes less interesting as well as pernicious with time and since when has the other been free? 

Soma” and “The Feelies” are the drug and entertainment experience featured in _Brave New World_ (something else I should now re-read).

It’s true that as a nation, we have loaded up on material comforts, which trade produces our economy, so good, and “adult pacification systems”, which may include the downers, uppers, and mellowing agents prescribed by physicians (I want the roll-eyes emoticon for just such phrases) or naughtily accessed by the over- and under-enthused (and generally so for good reasons).

I would argue that business and political global elite are neither capitalist nor socialist nor much of anything apart from immense egos that tend toward authoritarianism in their own right!

Carnegie essentially quit — and then made sure to attach his name to a nation’s libraries . . . .

For touring in political science and with some focus on the Russian civilizational experience, I would suggest strongly that dogma, ideology, and religion serve power by leveraging the enthusiasms of “masses” and mobs.

Free radicals  🙂 are perhaps not so welcomed . . . .  

Note: I was surprised recently to find the term “liberal conservative” in Pipes’ history of the Russian Revolution, and were I alive then, that is where I would place not only myself but possibly most good willed and responsible Americans.  There has been nothing wrong with making ourselves modestly comfortable and being apprised and attentive to the needs of others less well accommodated. Whether we should then lose our heads (a now interesting phrase) to serve a “global elite” at the expense of our “ethics, ideals, principles, and values” — and sentiments! — seems a fair question for asking.


–33–

FTAC: The PLO Remembered

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Source of inspiration:

Younis, Rami.  “Looted from Beirut 35 years ago, now on display in Tel Aviv.”  +972 Magazine, December 4, 2017.


“Similar to the destruction of Palestinian urbanization in 1948, the theft of Palestinian visual culture is another attempt by Israel to control the historical narrative and erase Palestinian history. “

And yet the authors of both the documentary and the gushing +972 promotion launch their criticisms from Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University with the help, frankly, of the IDF that could as well have kept its information out of the public sphere.

Palestinians may wish to revisit the real history behind Yasser Arafat —
https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/10/03/palestinian-kgb/ — who survived his repeatedly defeated troops and impoverished people to die himself with upwards of $100 million in loot (and about the same may be said of the living Abbas who has also built a remarkable system of patronage on the suffering of the Palestinian main base).

A few reminders about the PLO and perhaps the principle of evil.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/asia-and-africa/middle-eastern-history/black-september-group

http://www.merip.org/mer/mer119/dilemma-plo

http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_article=795&x_context=7

For more on the Soviet role in the weaponizing of the Palestinian mind:

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/103576/the-cold-wars-arab-spring


Referenced

Berlinski, Claire.  “The Cold War’s Arab Spring: How the Soviet’s Created Today’s Middle East.”  Tablet, June 20, 2012:

Two of Bukovsky’s documents appear in English for the first time in Behind the Desert Storm. The first is Yuri Andropov’s memo to Leonid Brezhnev in 1974 detailing a KGB meeting with Palestinian terrorist Wadie Haddad. It recommends that the Soviet government provide material support to Haddad’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The second is the transcript of a 1984 Politburo meeting approving the shipment of 15 million rubles’ worth of weapons and ammunition to the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine in exchange for a collection of ancient art. The invention of modern terrorism: All credit is due to the Kremlin.

Borden, Sam.  “Long-Hidden Details Reveal Cruelty of 1972 Munich Attackers.”  The New York Times, December 1, 2015.

CAMERA.  “Yasir Arafat’s Timeline of Terror.”  November 13, 2004.

Cobban, Helena.  “The Dilemma of the PLO”.  Middle East Research and Information Project, Winter 2016.

Encyclopedia.com. “Black September”.


Link Modules Related on BackChannels

On the Disingenuous Cruelty of the BDS Movement

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/03/08/bds-cult-modules/

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/09/23/ftac-these-too-are-palestinians/

On the KGB’s Manipulation of Palestinian Politics and Mind

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/10/03/palestinian-kgb/

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2015/10/12/ftac-tip-to-the-kgbs-amplification-of-middle-eastern-anti-semitism/

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2017/07/29/ftac-antidote-to-what-poisoned-the-palestinians/

On Russia’s Endemic Medieval Anti-Semitic Habits and Related Defamation and the Development of Other Political Disinformation

https://conflict-backchannels.com/category/anti-semitism/

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/12/27/excerpt-1920s-the-spread-of-hate-russia-germany-laqueur/

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/11/28/a-short-page-referencing-works-by-or-associated-with-ion-mihai-pacepa/

 

–33–

 

 

FTAC: Political, Racial, Religious Singularity and Purity / Distribution x Equilibrium

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Perhaps by way of the editor’s accidental tourism in poli-sci and poli-psy, BackChannels has from the start been about the distillation of basic concepts and values.  That’s evident down the column of the left sidebar (which hasn’t been updated in some time): there are the universals  —

Compassion

Empathy

Justice

Humility

Inclusion

Integrity

The six are what matter within ourselves if we are to support goodness and grace against the evil of a behavioral and moral vacuum.

They are perhaps the argument against the malign narcissism of politically absolute and inevitably sadistic systems of power.

In relation to a conversation about barbarism, cultural relativism, and civilizational superiority, the following moved mind-to-keyboard and out into a closed Facebook space:

Argument here has essentially to do with the civilizational character of cultural ethics, principles, and values and that is a little complicated by the fewer than 7,000 living languages extant that suspend and replicate thought from one generation to the next — or become muddled or die out.

Not to rapid-shift here, but when Mongol power receded from conquest in Russia, the princes, according to Pipes, had ingested and adopted the idea that the ownership of property and persons was natural and alike, and one test of sovereignty involved possession of the freedom to destroy either at will and with impunity. The modern Greco-Roman Judeo-Christian soul might consider that philosophy of absolute power / absolute ownership just a little bit . . . barbaric.

Whatever it is, it’s on display in Syria and Crimea, and as there seems to be a small cultural pride –how pure and pretty we may be! — theme in this forum, I would suggest this about the preservation of separable but not exclusive cultural, ideological, racial, and religious differences in appearances, ideas, and traditions:

Core X –> | Mixed XYZ –> |Fringe WXYZ x Primary Variable of Interest

No “theme” disappears but each has its core, its mixer, and its fringe and all have the freedom to choose what is most important in the character of their own survival.

There’s an old joke for intellectual youngsters: “Time exists so that everything doesn’t happen all at once; space exists so that everything doesn’t happen to you.”

As a political concept, what is important about ideas, including matters associated with self-concept and self-regard, is their distribution in geopolitical space and the equilibrium established or maintained between them.


So the world offers some small space for everyone who cares to assert that which is most important to himself as regards self-concept or identity.

There’s an old saw — and on the web attributed both to Dorothy Parker and Woody Allen without proof at the source! — “”The Jews are like everyone else, only more so.”

🙂

To answer the mother’s question, “Why can’t you be like everyone else!?” — we are all like everyone else, but we do choose some aspects of ourselves for highlighting, packaging, and presenting, and so may we all continue searching for — or finding — our individual space and time with, one may hope, a few others.


It has often been said that the Jews are like everyone else, only more so. And today, that is more true than it has ever been!

The world of our parents and grandparents was one of exclusion from the wider society. Living apart from the Ukrainians, Russians, and Poles was expected in the old country; when our forebears immigrated to this country many of them maintained their distinct dress, language, foods, songs, and of course religious rituals for a generation or so.

But my grandmother, who was 8 years old when she came to Boston in 1921 from the province of Volhynia in the Ukraine, did not want to be a “greenhorn.” She refused to speak Yiddish. She soon learned that she loved to eat lobster and clams, like so many other Bostonians. She wasn’t so interested in Jewish life. And so she, like many other immigrants, began to shed the ethnic attributes of the old world.

Adelson, Seth. “The Simple Child Sees Only the Past: Kol Nidrei 577.” Sermon.  The Modern RabbiOctober 1 2017.

–33–

Battered, Jaded, Numbed? Here’s An Old Tonic

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As have many days for many years, this one started with a glimpse at conflict and crime news, some searched up, some by way of Facebook forum conversations: Mexico’s national addiction to drugs and money (in that order); a look at human trafficking — it appears China receives from Columbia a steady stream of duped women to be forced into prostitution and then takes little action against the trade.

Web surfers visiting here have probably had their own fill of experience or news — or both — vomited up from the evil and ugly world.  For those so offended but in themselves good and noble and perhaps in need of a refreshed idealism and inspiration, I offer an old memory.

Here’s a trailer.

And here — from another company — the greater quotation.


Related On the Web

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1977/08/20/richard-kiley-at-55-the-once-and-present-man-of-la-mancha/30d559ae-bac1-47f6-b7f4-cffc93304468/ – 8/20/1977

https://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.php?thread=1088321 — 11/21/2015 Message board topic: 50th anniversary of the musical.

–33–

Defective Heroes

Grant Arthur Gochin

JRep – December 11 06-07Commentary

Jerusalem Report Article,  publish date:  December 11, 2017.
Volume XXVIII No. 18, pages 6 & 7.

Defective Heroes

Grant Arthur Gochin

Defective heroes abound. Currently, in Lithuania, evil is on display.

Prior to 1915, (for approximately 700 years), Jews lived in Lithuanian territories and enjoyed relative peace. After a Russian expulsion of Jews, independent Lithuania realized their loss of human resources and invited economically active Jews to return to Lithuania, with promises of autonomous communities and full equal rights. This honeymoon period lasted until 1924, when Lithuania abolished their post of “Minister without a Portfolio for Jewish Affairs”.

After a coup in 1926 the Lithuanian Voldemarist movement arose, it conflated Jew hate with Lithuanian patriotism. A subsequent Jew hate movement arose called Verslas, so that, by the 1940s, Jew hate and Lithuanian patriotism were synonymous in many circles. Protectionism was legislated to suppress Jewish businesses…

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