Inspiration for this little bit of wisdom: another set-to about the God of Judaism and the God of Islam — or depictions, expressions, instructions, etc. seemingly attached to the construction or perception (in mind, of course) of each.
Basically: “Your God is not my God — and my rightness must be therefore more right than your rightness.”
And God must have put us here to prove how right we are about God.
Something like all of that plus the bloody historical baggage that has been dragged through time with that kind of thinking.
Ethnolinguistic cultures on earth: about 7,000 (fewer, actually). There are many ways of looking up at the stars and experiencing or interpreting the divine.
In the Torah, God hears Ishmael’s cries too.
The more true challenge of the present lies in handling the habits attending medieval politics and worldviews that better account for turning something we cannot know — God, as we think of God, is greater than our observational capabilities — into something we think we know. Judaism represents the Tribal Way of the Hebrews, an old People with a calendar to prove it and a distinct trail through time planted on or in the earth in built space or artifacts. Rather than mosey on to other civilizational uptake, adaptation, and competition, it might prove healthier to visit the present, take a deep breath, and have both a broad and long view backward, the better perhaps for considering and taking the next step forward.
Having given up the burning of witches and largely ejected “contra-lateral amputation” as inhumane (although there are some barbaric, malignant, primitive, and sadistic holdouts), we might do better than eternally trying to erase one another.
Call it a plea for peacefulness momentarily enshrined in a blog post . . . also a plea to perhaps stand together for a broad and great gaze backward from this extraordinary plateau in human communicating and social interaction — and then: think fresh; think forward; think next.
The “New Nationalists” — there’s a term that’s getting around — are old feudal reactionaries. Each — start with Erdogan in his White Palace — means to live as if in a castle socially surrounded by nobility and attended by peons and slaves.
BackChannels hopes they will one day find themselves left floating in their own blood-dimmed and greed-soaked clouds and the better world, broadly inclusive, culturally self-sustaining (we should be concerned with keeping and growing our 7,000 or so living language cultures), earth conscious, still in awe of the universe, and beautifully interwoven will look back on them with a shudder.
“Jews who deny Muslim and Christian attachment to Jerusalem pave the way for Muslims and Christians to deny Jewish attachment to Jerusalem.”
“Muslims who deny Jewish and Christian attachments to Jerusalem pave the way for Jews and Christians to deny Muslim attachment to Jerusalem.”
“Christians who deny Jewish and Muslim attachments to Jerusalem pave the way for Jews and Muslims to deny Christian attachment to Jerusalem.”
It’s funny how the assignment of culpability works within such a statement.
Truth to tell: in 12th Century Christian Hungary, laws devised to discriminate against Jews were upon activation applied equally to Muslims (source: Raphael Patai, _The Jews of Hungary_).
The bogey: jealousy and resentment (perhaps) and supersessionary ambition (no question).
What is it about the medieval world and worldview — apart from concentrating ill-gotten wealth in thuggish elites — that keeps so many of the Soviet / post-Soviet arc trapped within it?
Perhaps post-Holocaust, the arguments are shifting from hidden and shameful supersessionary wishes (I thought that was done with in 1964) and “recognition of ‘the other'” (who isn’t “other” for somebody?) to the differences between medieval perception and rhetoric (and absolute power) toward the modern comprehension of political conditions, greater recognition of mutual obligations, and interest in the peaceful interweaving of complex and varied cultural and economic systems.
What may the medieval world have looked like?
And thank the same system of thought so slyly — ah, but obviously — singles out the Hebrews as the source of all troubles.
Leadership, cultural mentality, and political power have a relationship in which the medieval of mind invests energy in the command and control of mobs. Frame-ups, innuendos, lies, rumors: snookering the marks is what political dishonesty has been all about.
In and around the Middle East Conflict, the Palestinians — who having suffered Arab apartheid and gross isolation and misguidance for decades — have paid the highest price for their once unwitting subordination to a mixture of Nazi- and Soviet-promoted images of the surrounding world, and that starting with the demonizing and scapegoating of the Jews.
Soviet cartoons distributed in the Middle East to leverage “the masses” into the Soviet camp.
Soviet cartoons distributed in the Middle East to leverage “the masses” into the Soviet camp.
The Soviet Era cartoons from the late 1960s and early 1970s suggest what Moscow used to inveigle the Arab World in its unholy designs, for back then, Russia was avowedly and godlessly communist as well as deeply anti-Semitic.
Palestinians and others — and this plainly demonstrated in Syria, and nowhere more so than with Yarmouk, the once Palestinian camp and refuge — will never know authentic freedom and self-determination while bent to the will of a still medieval and excessively controlling — and kleptocratic (and today “ultra-nationalist”) — Moscow.
Always a little differently than expected: perhaps our New Global Intelligentsia has now to deal with a more visible and powerful Global Business and Political Elite.
The epigrammatic thought springs from yesterday’s wrestling with a draft about the “Black Led Movement Fund” and foundations flowing down from Henry Ford’s enterprise and George Soros’s success.
It also stems from about ten years of personal growth in the region of international affairs abetted by the uptake of broadband, social networking (Facebook), and blogging ability (a new artform) and the development by affinity of a pretty good and English chatyping “international club” online. With that growth has come the recognition, at least on BackChannels’ part, that our “Awesome Conversation” has obscure nodes (like this one) and virtual public stars (too many to name) that comprises a still new and virtual thin band of global intelligentsia.
We’re thinking. We’re talking. We’re having a great conversation. And perhaps by doing so, we’re changing our world.
Beside (and above, I’m sure) the thinker-talkers exists another connected community, altogether more institutional, more private in its outlooks and its workings, but at the head of so many enterprises and institutions are real people, and one may well wonder about their cultural and political ambitions and visions.
Now back to the Black Lives Matter movement and its chief financial enablers and enthusiasts . . . .
In his day, Henry Ford had developed the strongest reputation as an anti-Semite, and in this day George Soros appears to have developed an atheist’s contempt for the Jews and Israel as part of an anti-nationalist atheist-socialist globalization program. Today, both Ford and Soros foundations have stepped in to fund the nostalgically Marxist Black Lives Matter movement and related Black Led Movement Fund with upwards (or beyond) a newsworthy $100 million.
While Americans and others in the world have been busy considering their election season options in the empowering of a next set of public of representative public leaders, the uber-wealthy have been applying money to political issues in their own way.
BackChannels wonders how much cultural and political “clout” the world’s wealthiest individuals exert and what kind of world are they fashioning (for the rest of us) as powers in their own right?
Note that George Soros with his portfolio valued at about $8 billion (but Forbes says “$24.9 billion”) has been estimated as being merely the 80th wealthiest person in the world: who are the 79 wealthier individuals ahead of him, and how are they involved with the world’s cultures and political themes?
On this post, BackChannels has certainly more questions than answers.
What each wants — these are not beauty pageant youngsters — is a big other and open question.
Regarding Henry Ford, Anti-Semite
Hitler was very aware of Henry Ford, of Henry Ford’s writings, and praised them. He turned to the same documents. There’s a common thread. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a cherished text for both. And there were certainly business connections between Ford Motors and the Nazi regime.
In the period from 1910 to 1918, Ford became increasingly anti-immigrant, anti-labor, anti-liquor and anti-Semitic. In 1919, he purchased a newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. He installed Charles Pipp as editor and hired a journalist, William J. Cameron, to listen to his ideas and write a weekly column, “Mr. Ford’s Page,” to expound his views.
Ford wanted to assert that there was a Jewish conspiracy to control the world. He blamed Jewish financiers for fomenting World War I so that they could profit from supplying both sides. He accused Jewish automobile dealers of conspiring to undermine Ford Company sales policies. Ford wanted to make his bizarre beliefs public in the pages of the Dearborn Independent. For a year, editor Pipp resisted running anti-Jewish articles, and resigned rather than publish them. Cameron took over the editorship and, in May 1920, printed the first of a series of articles titled “The International Jew: The World’s Problem.”
Regarding George Soros, “Anti-Semite”? Or “Atheist Social Democrat”?
According to Connie Bruck of The New Yorker, George Soros told her that “I don’t deny the Jews their right to a national existence — but I don’t want to be part of it.” According to Joshua Muravchik, Soros has publicly likened Israel to the Nazis. According to the Jerusalem Post, “Soros and his wealthy Jewish American friends have now decided to aim their fire directly at Israel . . . to form a political lobby that will weaken the influence of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.”
Russia’s General Prosecutor’s Office essentially banned two branches of Soros’ charity network in November, placing the Open Society Foundations (OSF) and the Open Society Institute (OSI) on a “stop list” of foreign non-governmental organizations whose activities were deemed “undesirable” by the Russian state.
OSF first came into trouble with the Russian government in July 2015, when it hinted it might ban the foundation along with a number of other pro-democracy organizations accused of launching “soft aggression” in the country.
Magui Rubalcava Shulman, Director, Immigration — served as program director for Hispanics in Philanthropy; worked on an evaluation of the Grants for Schools program of the Mongolian Foundation for Open Society Institute.
A correspondent in Germany wrote to tell me about the bombing of his apartment by parties unhappy with his work in the peace making field.
I couldn’t find a corroborating abundance of small town fire stories in relation to the claim, but the correspondent sent along one online clipping, noting that state security services had sought to squelch coverage of the event while they themselves looked into it.
Another in the United States wrote recently, “At the mosque yesterday when a man ran in and shoved a rolled up wad of bills into the zakat box I wondered about how many of these people run their lives based on an underground economy.”
I would have to say “I don’t know” to that last correspondent.
This is the tale of another Egyptian coup, an account in fiction of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952. Strong in atmosphere and romance, engaging some in the daring of its hero, Dirk Celliers, and in the depiction of angry crowds, wild slaughter in the streets, and the burning of Cairo (“Black Saturday” today in the history books), it is itself more an impression than a parallel history in its own right — in fact, it’s light on the hinges — but it resonates with the latest rounds in Egypt’s political turmoil.
The reader will recognized the Egyptians of 1952 in many facets: the royal state (that Farouk ran and Mubarak would have established had he gotten away with it), the secular nationalist army, the Muslim Brotherhood, the conservative culture, especially constraining for women and also defensive and dangerous with regard to their keeping, and then the roving crowds — out to tear apart the “Englesi” of the earlier age and boot the same out of the state’s affairs — and riots, bullets, fires, and the rending of hapless victims limb from limb, which today one might liken to throwing youth, aligned with one side or the other, off the roofs of buildings.
On a personal note: having inherited this work from a father who had degrees in economics, political science, and law and spent the bulk of his career in civil service, I found the pages uncut, which means the old man had acquired it, kept it on his shelf, smoked his pipe (back then) beneath it, but never read it.
“Post-Soviet Russia” may have morphed the “Evil Empire” out of a few captive states but by no means did the collapse of the Soviet Union spell the end of its most durable internal business, political, and social relationships, much less the external ones that today sustain the Russo-Iranian-Syrian (Assad) arrangements that should have ended yesterday and been in the way to doing so in 1991.
Oh no on all of that.
This excerpt hails from Nick Fielding’s forward:
President Boris Yeltsin’s appointment of Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, to head upt the FSB in 1998 marks the beginnings of a new era. By 2000, as soon as he became president, Putin began to rebuild the intelligence services and to concentrate power in their hands. While the FSB’s predecessor had been a “state within a state,” subservient to the Community Party, the FSB has in many ways become the state itself–its officers now directly responsible to the president, and its former members owning and controlling the commanding heights of the economy.” (ix).
I’ve commented elsewhere myself on President Putin but not quite like this (chapter title: “The Interests of the State Demand It: Spymania”):
In May 1999, Putin was the director of the FSB and also head of the Kremlin’s security council, a group of high-ranking officials who set national security strategy. It was a time of instability in Russia, just months after the country had suffered a major economic crash. President Boris Yeltsin seemed to be drifting. One day Putin went to the offices of Komsomolskaya Pravda, a mass-circulation broadsheet daily. At the newspaper, he gave an interview in which he was asked, “There is a concern that you and your friends might organize a military coup d’etat?” Putin replied, “And why do we need to organize a coup d’etat? We are in power now. And whom would we topple?” Then the newspaper interviewers suggested: perhaps the president?
“The president appointed us,” Putin said, with a half-chuckle.
Instead of an internal threat, Putin pointed to foreign espionage as Russia’s gravest enemy . . . .”
One might imagine what would come of that observation, but with The New Nobility one does not have to imagine anything, the research being well reported, from the refusal to grant visas to Peace Corp volunteers accused of “gathering information of social-political and economical character” and far on to the handling of affairs in the North Caucasus.
As I remain ever a man on a mission without a mission, my easy recall of details from the book seems absent, everything being interesting and nothing being immediately or practically relevant except for one thing: the idea that Russia is again in the hands of autocrats who may be expected to commandeer their media, squelch political criticism and resistance, and generally discourage the development of a more open, robust, and vibrant democracy (for the record: I think Masha Gessen is a gift to mankind, Pussy Riotshould have had the good sense to keep its act out of the church, Khodorkovsky fits the profile of a kind of Putin victim — either too rich to complain [I’m thinking of the “Putin stole my Superbowl ring” thing to which Putin has responded, recently, vociferously, and convincingly] or too remote in plutocratic station to inspire massive (proletarian to middle class) anger over the misdeed, and, at that, an anger strong enough to overcome the fear of the state’s ruling class).
If you think RT has been bending and twisting it some in Syria — and the war of images and words on the World Wide Web over that tragedy seems as real as it was in the paper-based days of NATO-Soviet discord — there’s no need to think “KGB”: Федеральная служба безопасности Российской Федерации (ФСБ)” (Federal’naya sluzhba bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsii) or, in plain English, “Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation” will do.
“FSB”, however old its story — about two decades in the making at the moment — is the buzz for what may be the clouded image of a still new and rapidly evolving Russian intelligence and security state.
It is raining today in western Maryland, and the apartment is dark and cool. The air conditioning’s white shushing noise seems pleasant enough. The dog in the apartment next to mine lets out a lonely howl while at my right elbow there’s a cool drink, Diet Coke and Cruzan white rum on ice with a slice of lime, and at my left elbow David Cornwell’s latest, which for pace fairly requires just the day I have got.
Of course, it picks up, by which I mean the book, if not my day.
And it resonates.
Le Carré’s latest tells the tale of war bureaucratized, privatized, loaned out by governments — here, Her Majesty’s Own — and in the hands of corporate robber barons with numerous hands, rivals among them, gripping the wheels and as many and more dipping into the cookie jar hidden from public view and debate.
Unlike the deckle-edged Schiemer book mentioned above (also “A Novel of Modern Egypt” — the modern one of 1952), my father read Le Carré’s books, so suited to those intellectuals maintained or trapped or both in the great bureaucracies of state and defense. Possibly no other author creates the image of the political office, from bottom to top in relation to power, and its auditoriums, corridors, labyrinths, meeting rooms, hallways, residences, sidewalks, car parks, cafes, bars, and restaurants and the talk and signals of its tête-à-têtes and small groups better — and then tops it by making his heroes above average bunglers but ones with the finest and greatest of patriotic British spirits!
This one is like the Torah: the more close reading the reader and the longer the engagement, the more shutters fly off the windows, the roof disappears, the heavens open, and one sees a little bit of everything more clearly.
Unlike with the Torah, I was not enamored of either the extremity of spymaster Gabriel Alkon’s sadism at time nor the author’s indulgence in practicing random acts of violence through an anomic sidekick as well as the engineering of assorted shoot-em-ups: on the other hand, perhaps all of that will make it easier for a Hollywood writer with highlighters to find the good parts and yank them into something worthy of competing with the Broccoli franchise (more on that in a moment).
Opposite all that: Silva knows his politics and semi-wonks like myself may find ourselves on similar ground as regards with Big Picture Analysis in International Affairs. Here on BackChannels, I hedge with the “may be’s” and the “seems to’s” but in this sprawling jet setter spy epic fiction, Silva pulls no punches. From mafia to oligarch, prized fine art to torture, subtle spy craft to ugly explosion . . . it’s not only pretty good reading, it’s a great mirror in its underlying analysis of a global state of affairs.
Let it surprise you, says I, and damnation to any spoilers out there who may have said too much already.
* * *
I don’t spend all of my time on my bed reading.
Sometimes I get up, go into the living room, and watch a movie.
It has been a while since I’ve watched a Bond film, but I thought Skyfall was terrific but Quantum of Solace remarkably less so. The difference for me: the sophistication of the plot and its cultural interests.
Skyfall tackles the “malignant narcissist” head on, the punch from the shadows — sub-state warfare — also, and updates the mirror on the modern post-modern world, one in which “M” is “Mom”, Ms. Moneypenny’s just about as good an operator in the field as Bond, Bond himself has an almost (maybe not almost) gay moment, and the desire of the dictator to surround himself with himself and control the world rings true to what we know about the real ones.
By comparison, Quantum of Solace seemed to me an extended shoot-em-up over greed with water supply involved.
That method got old and certainly does not work for me five years after the release of the film.
A little conflict of interest here: I own a Barbour too, Mr. Bond. I may not be able to fight like you but I’ll be as dry in a November rainstorm as any hero or villain on the planet.
Finally, in e-books: Hemingway and Gellhorn (for $2.99 how can you go wrong) and Spies for Hire ($10.38 for the Kindle, so perhaps interest should be sincere). I’m enjoying the former; have not started the latter; but it might go down well with the Le Carré book. Indeed, our states are in trouble if and when they compromise their monopoly on the development of military and political intelligence and, worse, when private enterprise comes to “run operations”.
It seems to me that nongovernmental interests may have other interests, including their own survival aided by their own extended relationships, at heart.
Tom Hundley, the Pulitzer Center’s senior editor and a former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, is more blunt: “This great mass of freelancers who are depending on grants from us and working on pitiful fees from brand-name outlets—I mean, this just isn’t going to work.”