Sunday, March 8, 2009

More Einstein - and a Poll on Israeli Expansion

This is one of my favorite Albert Einstein pictures. Supposedly, he is playing one of Mozart's violin sonatas, works he enjoyed through his life.

I've got some favorite Einstein quotes, too. He has left us several famous statements, some made vocally, others from his voluminous correspondence.

He expounded on the relationship between science and religion numerous times, beginning in the 1920s. My favorite of these is from his book, The World As I See It:

A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.

Zionists have culled from Einstein's many statements about a possible Israel, beginning in 1919. Many supporters of Israeli expansion cite Einstein as an endorsee of their model. Others assert he did not look positively upon some Israeli policies, from the very beginning of the nation's history.

One of Einstein's most comprehensive quotes doesn't appear on the web in its entirety. At least, I can't find the entire word string, after several searches. Apparently, Einstein made the statement on April 17, 1938, in a speech at the Commodore Hotel in New York City. There doesn't appear to be an on-line transcript of the entire speech. The first sentence of this statement appears widely, but this may be the first time as much of it as I'm quoting below appears on the web. It is cited in Bitter Harvest (3rd edition, New York: Olive Branch Press) by Sami Hadawi. The notes cite the quote as being from The Decadence of Judaism in Our Time (New York: Exposition Press, 1965) by Moshe Menuhin (the father of Yehudi Menuhin):

I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish State. Apart from practical considerations, my awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish State, with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain – especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks, against which we have already had to fight strongly, even without a Jewish State. We are no longer the Jews of the Maccabee period. A return to a nation in the political sense of the word, would be equivalent to turning away from the spiritualization of our community which we owe to the genius of our prophets.

This statement is published here today as preface to a poll on Israeli expansion. I decided that as soon as the Obama administration was presented with new evidence of continuing Israeli expansion in the Occupied Territories, I would conduct a poll on that in Alaska.

The Israelis have announced plans to greatly expand settlements. They did this just before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Middle East. To date, no official from the Obama administration has made a public statement about the expansion plans, which defy international law. We have wanly objected to continuing demolitions of Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

The ascending star of the man who has emerged as the main beneficiary of last month's Israeli election is Avigdor Lieberman, an unapologetic, forthright expansionist.

Here is the poll:

Should Israel:

Be allowed to continue to expand

Be forced back to the 1967 borders

Be forced back to the 1947 borders

Frozen at current settlement levels

Be allowed to expel all non-Jews (from inside Israel) and expand (to occupy ALL the West Bank)

You can only vote for one category


Eureka Springs, AR said...

If two state.. then I say '47. And even for those who think '67 i would think it's not best to start negotiating there.

Unknown said...

None of the options are acceptable. An expansion of Israel in its current form disenfranchises Palestinians by forcing them out of their homes. Forcing back Israel's borders does the same for a generation of Israelis who have grew up and live in settlements. Keeping the borders as is means the Palestinian right of return goes wanting, and non-Jews within Israel continue to live as second-class citizens.

The bottom line is that the idea of an ethnic state is undemocratic by its very nature. Two-state or One-state, whatever borders are drawn, justice won't be served unless everybody who had to leave a home has the opportunity to move back, and the government or governments involved protect the rights of everyone within their borders. And peace won't be lasting till justice is served.

Star the wonder pup said...

Gee, then lets give most of the states back to the native americans, and california back to mexico.

Facts on the ground always trump history.

Star the wonder pup said...

or for that matter, you white boys need to get your honky ass out of Alaska

Philip Munger said...

so, did you vote, star...?

Anonymous said...

sure did, phil. dodging the point, my friend?

Whose anscestral land do you live on?

Philip Munger said...

Anon @ 6 - I'm not sure what your point is. At all. I am polling for information. Might may have made right in the old testament or elsewhere, but we live on a planet facing existential threat from stupid people with way too much power. Nutty Israeli right-wingers or Hamas rocket shooters, or Christofascists who want the world to end so Jesus can come back are only part of the problem.

Frankly, I think that the rapidity of ocean acidification and its consequences are going to dwarf all other known problems put together by about 2020, possibly a bit earlier.

Anonymous said...

lol, phil. diversion and a copout. yes, acidification is a huge problem, but whose anscestral lands do you live on?

Philip Munger said...

anon @ #8 - apparently, the closest pre-white settlement to where I live was near Knik, or Eklutna. They are fairly equidistant - about 15 miles or more away each. There were seasonal fish camps on Cottonwood Creek, but near the mouth, not on the upper creek where we live. The only evidence I have is that the only person to ever live where we do was Emmett, who we bought the house from. The people who built it lived in Anchorage.

I think that around the time of Moses, for instance, where I live was under 100 of feet of ice.

Anonymous said...

oh jesus, phil. the point is...

Philip Munger said...

I don't know what the point is, whoever you are. I doubt the Israelis will give up one Goddam millimeter of that God-foresaken land. As I wrote, "I decided that as soon as the Obama administration was presented with new evidence of continuing Israeli expansion in the Occupied Territories, I would conduct a poll on that in Alaska." I've done that.

I think we should stop subsidizing Israeli expansion, though. How about you?

Anonymous said...

Different question, phil. I was sticking to whose ancestral land you live on, and what gives you the right to be there

Anonymous said...

funkalunatic said it pretty well.

But no more expansion. Let 'em figure it out for themselves.

Of course, then we have to think about things like oil, big money, and terrorism ....

Anonymous said...

Please read up on Einstein. He was a committed Zionist and was offered (and refused) the office of President of Israel. I cannot lay out a history lesson here, but without the history -- what happened in 1948, what has been the position of the Arab states, what Israel's options have been -- you will not understand.

I am an American, a Jew by choice, not by birth, old enough to remember 1967 and I used to call myself a liberal. I supported the peace process in 1994. However, Arafat never showed a commitment to peace, in that there was no end to the indoctrination in hatred and blatant antisemitism, no acceptance that Israel would exist permanently as a Jewish state. After 2000, it has become clear that there is no Palestinian "partner" with whom Israel can negotiate who is both willing and able to restrain terrorists. Today, with Palestinian zeal fueled by Islamism promoted by Iran via Hezbullah and Hamas, it looks bleaker than ever. If Abu Abbas is a "moderate," which is doubtful, how can he deliver when he couldn't hold Gaza or keep Hamas from slaughtering his supporters?

Since 1948, Israel has been seen as an illegitimate Jewish interloper in "Arab" territory; now it is a Jewish interloper in "Islamic" territory. Even if a majority among the Palestinians and/or Israel's neighbors wanted a lasting peace with a Jewish State of Israel, it would be useless unless they controlled the weapons and were willing to fight those who would fight to destroy Israel.

BTW, in international law, the West Bank is not "occupied," because no other nation claims it. Jordan washed its hands of it, and there is no Palestinian state. The West Bank is "disputed,"in that the inhabitants object to Israel's control of it, which might be said, but isn't, of Russia's control of Chechnya or China's control of Tibet. Israel didn't annex the West Bank because it wanted to remain both a Jewish state and a democracy, but could not ignore a hostile population on its doorstep.

I don't think there will be real peace until either Israel inflicts a decisive military defeat, with her enemies acknowledging her nationhood -- no more truces or cease-fires-- or Israel is defeated militarily or crumbles internally because her enemies have succeeded in making life hell. I would love to be pleasantly surprised, and so would the Israelis.

Israelis don't want war. Proportionately, the cost in lives and money has been huge for this tiny country. Americans don't understand that for Israel the war never really stops. Jewish Israelis don't want to expel Arabs, but they don't want to live forever in fear, either.

I admire President Obama and voted for him, but not everything can be solved by negotiation. Negotiation works only when there is a possible settlement more advantageous to both parties than continuing the conflict, and when each can be confident that the other will do its part. It can't be created by wishing. To believe that if Israel evacuated some settlements everything would be fine is delusional. Look what happened when Israel evacuated Gaza.

It pains me when decent, humane Americans have no sense of historical perspective and the way things are in most of the world. The demand for peace again and again has meant that Israel's enemies are given yet another chance to rearm and harass it. When Israel withdraws from territory, as it did from southern Lebanon and recently from Gaza, its enemies hail it as a "victory" and an incentive for further attacks and harassment.

The world's double standard is blatant, although I didn't really see it until the 2006 Lebanon war. When Hamas and Hezbollah stockpile weapons and attack from civilian areas and Israel shoots back, it is scourged in the press for causing civilian casualties. Has everyone forgotten that the Allies burned entire cities to the ground because German and Japanese factories were located in them?

If Israel's enemies shoot from behind their women and children, Israel has no moral obligation to spare them so that Israelis can die instead. Precisely because Israel tries to avoid civilian casualties, its enemies attack from civilian areas, while lobbing rockets indiscriminately at Israeli towns.

Now that Israelis have become frustrated and Israeli demagogues are saying ugly things and getting some traction, the world is outraged, but while Israel's enemies regularly whip up crowds with chants of "Death to the Jews," the world yawns. I don't endorse prejudice, but Arabs, and now other Muslims, have been killing Jews because they are Jews (and sometimes Christians as well), but nowhere are Jews killing Arabs or Muslims because they are Arabs or Muslims. That Israel has caused some unnecessary suffering does not make both sides morally equivalent.

I don't like saying things I expect people on this blog don't want to hear, but somebody needs to. During the election I lost a Zionist friend who was panicked by Obama, when I told her I would rather have Obama as President, even if he put Jeremiah Wright (God forbid) in the Cabinet, than have Sarah Palin as VP and possible President. I hope I have better luck getting liberals to question the "party line" concerning Israel.

Good night, and thanks for your patience.

Anonymous said...

Phil, the guy has a point.

You and I live on lands that were considered part of the Tanaina Indians in the area. They were originally a nomadic people who likely lived for a time very close to where you live. Cottonwood Creek is a great hunting/fishing area and the lake is as well.

All of us in Alaska are living on land that less than 200 years ago was someone else's land. The Russians made a few settlements and declared themselves in title so that they could sell that tainted title to the US.

We might as well practice a little honesty and own up to the fact that we are living on someone elses land.


Philip Munger said...

I am not going out and throwing people off their land, uprooting their trees, bulldozing their greenhouses and gatdens, and machine-gunning their children.

And I'm spending hundreds of hours per year, or more, volunteering with people like Diane Benson and Larry Merculieff; helping raise money for people in the Y-K Delta; and helping bring science to possible solutions to problems for indigenous Alaskans.

I probably can't be compared to the typical white Alaskan. I fail to see much similarity between my case and that of a typical West Bank Zionist settler.

clark said...

president carter was accurate a couple years ago in his book likening israel's treatment of the palestinians to a south african style apartheid state. the MSM didn't want to talk to him about that, AT ALL!

Unknown said...

Maybe we should just call Israel's current strategy for what it is: ethnic cleansing.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Chabon.