Will God punish the world’s Jews because American Jews worship a false idol?

Obama at the Western WallI had lunch today with two friends, both conservative, neither Jewish.  Since we were talking politics, both asked me a question I hear repeatedly from non-Jewish conservatives — How can Jews support Obama?

It occurred to me — and this is a very depressing though — that Jews are repeating an old pattern.  American Jews are Jews in name only, insofar as theirs is, at best, a superficial association with the religion.  I’m a bit of an anomaly, in that I don’t practice the religion, but believe absolutely in its conservative strictures.

If I remember my Bible correctly (and with my memory, that’s a big “if”), the Bible is very clear:  when Jews start worshiping false idols, they are punished and they are punished horrifically.

BDS rallyThe most false of all false idols, of course, is the type of assimilation that sees Jews claiming to be Jewish while rejecting the Jewish God.  This is a type of assimilation that sees them losing all the way around.  They never fully integrate with their neighbors, even though that’s their primary goal, and they also break their covenant with God.

American Jews, by worshiping Obama as a false idol have set themselves up for another round of punishment.  Even worse, the consequences of their actions will fall most heavily, not on them, but on Jews in Europe and the Middle East.  While most Americans (outside of Ivy League colleges) are not antisemitic, the antisemites in the rest of the world are smart enough to know that Obama gave them a free pass.  As has always been the case, from the Bible through to the Holocaust, a core of true-believers will survive, and the rest are in for a hell of a time.

As you can see, Obama’s actions, not to mention rising anti-semitism around the world, make me nervous.

Whew!  I just depressed myself.

As a Jew, why am I not more exercised about the use of poison gas in Syria?

As you’ve gathered, I do not support President Obama’s promised “show” strike against Syria to protest the Assad regime’s alleged use of toxic nerve gas against a community that presumably supported the al Qaeda rebels. To justify my position, I’ve pointed to the fact that there is no benefit to the U.S. in getting involved in Syria.  That still leaves the question, though, of why I, a Jew, wouldn’t want to see every country of good will make its utmost efforts to protest the use of poison gas against civilians.

It’s not that I think a Syrian civilian’s life is less valuable than a Jewish civilian’s life (or an American’s life, for that matter).  Based on the available news, I assume that those who died were just ordinary people, trying to live in a nation torn apart by an internecine tribal, Muslim battle.  If that assumption is correct, those who died are innocent victims, no less than those who lost their lives in Nazi gas camps and mass graves throughout the Pale.  So why don’t I want to help?

Well, there are several reasons.  My first response relates to my family history.  What’s happening in Syria is not genocide, a la Hitler, who wanted to remove an entire race from the earth.  There was no military objective underlying Hitler’s decision to round up 6 million people and killing them. Indeed, it was militarily stupid, because it diverted resources that were desperately needed for a two-front war.

In this regard, I know my views about “ordinary war” versus genocide are informed by my Mother’s experiences.  While she’ll go to the grave hating the Japanese guards who so brutally controlled the concentration camps in Indonesia where she spent almost four years of her life, she’s never been that hostile to the Japanese people.  “They were fighting a war,” she says.  “In this, they differed from the Germans, who were destroying a people.”

What’s happening in Syria is a civil war.  In the hierarchy of wars, civil wars are always the most bloody and least humane, in much the same way that, in the area of law, the most vicious cases are divorces.  Your opponent is close enough for you to hate wholeheartedly.

In Syria, we are witnessing a fight between two closely-related, rabid dogs.  These war dogs can be put down entirely or they can be ignored.  They cannot be trifled with in an inconsequential way, or they will turn the full fury of their wrath on the trifler, even as they escalate actions against each other.  If America goes in, she must go in to destroy one side or the other.  Doing less than that is futile and tremendously dangerous, especially because these are Arabs….

And that gets me to the main reason I’m opposed to intervening despite gas attack that Assad’s troops launched.  Perhaps to your surprise, I’m not going to argue that “Let the Muslims kill each other there, because it’s good riddance to bad rubbish.”  I certainly don’t mind Syria being so busy internally that she has no time to harass Israel.  However, that pragmatic response is most definitely not the same as delighting in the destruction of her innocent civilian population.

Instead, my sense of futility in getting involved in Syria is that what we’re seeing is simply how Muslim Arabs fight.  They don’t do polite warfare, with rules.  They do balls-to-the-wall warfare, with women and children as primary targets.  Their cultural preference when fighting war is rape, mutilation, torture, mass-murder, civilian massacres, and soaking-their-hands-in-their-victims’ blood.

When we oppose gas warfare, it’s because it is so wildly outside the rules by which Western warfare has so long abided:  we fire things at the enemy, whether guns, or cannon, or missiles.  Our culture accepts projectile warfare, but has been for at least a century extremely hostile to non-projectile warfare, whether it’s gas attacks, civilian slaughters, or concentration camps.

Within the context of the Muslim world, when it comes to warfare, anything goes.  If we stop one type of atrocity, they’ll come up with another one, because they have no parameters.

Also, to the extent all Muslim/Arab wars are both tribal and religious, they have no concept of civilians.  Whether you’re a newborn infant, a teenage girl, a mentally handicapped man, or a doddering old lady, if you belong to “the other” tribe or religion (and everyone does) then you are automatically an enemy and a target.  Today’s baby becomes tomorrow’s adolescent rock throwers.  That young teenage girl might give birth to another member of that tribe.  The mentally handicapped man is proof that the other religion or tribe is corrupt.  As for the doddering old lady, she almost certainly raised someone among your enemy.

I’m not saying anything surprising, here.  It’s why the Palestinians so enthusiastically target Jewish schools.

Incidentally, it’s worth noting that we did not go to war against Germany at the end of 1941 because it was harassing and killing German Jews.  We tend to leave countries alone, even when they slaughter their own people.  We went after them because they were trying to take over Europe.  To the extent the Roosevelt administration knew about the genocide, it kept it under wraps.  There was no way Roosevelt was going to take America to war over a bunch of Jews.  It was only after the war that everyone was shocked — shocked! — to learn about the scope of Nazi atrocities.

My daughter rather inadvertently pointed out how ridiculous this “mass slaughter of civilians” yardstick is.  For one of her classes, she is required to read three newspaper stories a day.  I suggested the report about Kim Jong-un’s order that his former lover and her entire band get machine-gunned to death.  I also told her that the regime forced the family’s of those executed to watch their loved ones die, and then shipped all the families, lock, stock, and baby off to the concentration camp system.  “They’ll be lucky if they die there quickly,” I added.  “The camps are that bad.”

When she heard this, my daughter, bless her heart, came back with a question that gets to the heart of Obama’s flirtation with bombing Syria:  “Then why aren’t we planning to attack North Korea, instead of Syria?”

Excellent question, my dear, especially considering North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.  We have shown for decades our willingness to stand aside when tyrannical regimes kill their own people — provided that those murders do not implicate American interests.  Even during the Cold War, our incursions into other countries were to protect non-communists from communists.  Since we couldn’t attack the Soviet Union directly, we engaged in containment by proxy.  In other words, our national interests were at stake, because the Cold War was a direct threat to American interests.

In Syria, however, both sides embrace Islam and hate America.  There are no parties there that need to be protected to further America’s security interests.  We should certainly decry the deaths of the civilians, but the average American on the street seems to understand better than the pettish, petulant Obama that this is one where we should stand aside.  This is their culture and they will defeat it only when they want to, not because of half-hearted, ineffectual, silly efforts on our part.

Obama is sort of beginning to grasp this fact, and he’s trying to save face by approaching Congress.  He assumes that the Senate will support his war cry, because Democrats are slavishly echoing him and there are a few Hawkish Republicans (like McCain) who support him.  He fully expects, however, that the House will vote him down, thereby saying him from the consequences of his own threats and posturing.  It’s quite obvious that he also expects that there will be a pitched battle on the House floor, exposing Republican callousness to a disgusted America.

Obama’s hope that Republicans display each other to their worst advantage in their own form of internecine warfare is misplaced.  Considering that only 9% of the American people believe intervention in Syria is a good thing, if the Republicans display even minimal good sense in opposing a strike, they will get the full support of the American people.

God’s Chosen People

Michaelangelo hands of God and Adam

There’s a guy where I exercise who’s nice, but I’ve never really warmed up to him.  He’s not part of the ownership or the management team, so it’s never really mattered to me what I think of him.  Last week, though, I discovered that my subconscious might have been sending me messages when I couldn’t make myself like him.  After a tirade against capitalism, for ObamaCare, and in favor of restrictions on all things that could affect Global Warming (yes, let’s get rid of the sun!), he said, “And another thing….”  He then started to inform me how pernicious the message is that the Jews are “God’s chosen people.”

My exercise place is wonderful, so I wasn’t about to upset the nice dynamic there by getting into a debate with a hard-core Leftist.  Those debates usually end badly:  the Leftist doesn’t change his mind, while any people in the vicinity who aren’t hard-core but are still Left (this is Marin after all), get very upset and start thinking with their navels, not their brains.  The best way for me to handle situations like this is to leave, think my arguments through, and then have those arguments ready for the inevitable round two.  This blog is where I think my arguments through. . . .

Apropos his anger that Jews think they’re special (along the lines of “Who are they to claim they’re God’s chosen people?”), it occurred to me that both the Left and antisemites are ferociously ignorant about their Old Testament.  Here is what the Bible tells (and all of you, who are more Bible literate than I, please correct me when I’m wrong):

Before he formed the covenant with the Jewish God, Abraham was polytheistic.  Ur, his original homeland, was certainly polytheistic.  God did not originally appear as a monotheistic God.  Instead, he just appeared as a divine being who selected Abraham (or, as he was initially, Abram).  If Abraham joined in a covenant with God, aligning his family with God, and circumcising all males as a sign of that covenant, God would treat Abraham and his descendents well.  Provided that all of them, through the centuries, abided by the covenant (and circumcision is a harsh demand) they would have land and good fortune.

The Bible acknowledges more than once that there are other gods swirling around in the ancient world.  For example, when Jacob and Rachel flee her father, Laban, Rachel takes her father’s “Household Gods.”  Significantly, in the Ten Commandments, God himself acknowledges other Gods.  It’s just that, as to the Jews, if they wish to keep the covenant, he must be the only God they claim and worship:

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

Those words make sense only if there was competition. Otherwise, God would have said, “There are no other Gods, but for me.”

While God promised much to the children of Abraham, he also placed heavy burdens upon them in addition to circumcision.  In a time when people were comforted by a panoply of gods, all of whom were physically present and whose favors could be bought with human or animal sacrifices, the Jews had just one abstract God in whom they had to believe, regardless of his invisible nature.

During the Greek occupation in Palestine, the Jews could not partake of the physical libertinism that characterized the Greeks.  Jews could not hold on to slaves for more than seven years, and had to treat their slaves humanely, which placed them at an economic disadvantage compared to others in the ancient world.  They were prohibited from eating all kinds of foods, which may have conferred some health benefits on them (e.g., no trichinosis), but which also limited their ability to thrive.

And so it goes, rule after rule that gave the Jews a spiritual advantage, but that limited their options in the ancient world.  In exchange, absent periodic miracles, such as the exodus from Egypt, being God’s chosen people wasn’t so great:  they were isolated and often at war with the world around them, their lives were constrained by God’s stringent rules, and God was big on punishing individuals or whole groups for any failure properly to abide by His rules.

The end result was that, in the ancient world, Jews were considered everything from fellow imperialists, to slaves, to an occupied people.  The one thing that they weren’t considered to be, though, was arrogant and special.  Indeed, in the ancient world, they were considered foolish for hewing to one invisible God rather than taking advantage of the panoply of gods then benefiting everyone else.

What changed was Christianity, which looked at the Jewish God and the whole notion of monotheism and concluded that it was a good idea.  The early Christians were Jews and, when they split from Jews who didn’t recognize Christ’s divinity, they still considered themselves God’s Chosen People — only they were even more chosen because they had taken Christ as their savior.  Suddenly, the Jews’ claim to be God’s Chosen People seemed (a) wrong and (b) arrogant, considering that both Jews and Christians were claiming the same God as their own.

All of which is to say that the Leftist at the dojo was wrong when he sought to insult Jews because they somehow think they’re “special.”  That’s not the issue at all.  Jews have simply chosen, for thousands of years, to abide by a very challenging covenant that Abraham made with a God who came to Abraham and said, “If you pick me, and you play by my rules, we’ll be a team forever.”  In the beginning, everybody thought Abraham made a bad deal by letting himself and his descendents get tagged by this jealous God.  It was only with the passing of time that others began to think that they’d like to be tagged too.

Certainly now, Jews do not display religious arrogance.  They do not demand, either with words or swords, that others worship their God; and they do not enslave or tax or otherwise discriminate against those who don’t.  Yes, amongst themselves they think they’re doing the right thing, but so does every group, whether religious or otherwise.  Why bother to be a group if you don’t have special bonds that distinguish you from others?  But there’s a profound difference between thinking “Yup, I’m engaging in correct religious behavior,” and thinking “You all are evil and doomed.  You deserve to die and then go to Hell.  And while you’re on this earth, I have the right to make it a Hell on earth for you.”  Now that’s arrogant.

Pigs are flying — Jewish newspaper endorses Republican

The editor of a Jewish newspaper — let me repeat: a Jewish newspaper — has endorsed a Republican.  Because we’re discussing Jews, it may be wrong to analogize this to pigs flying, but I guess it’s okay as long as we’re not eating those pigs for breakfast.

I was at a luncheon today (see below) and was asked, as I often am given that I’m a Jewish conservative:  “How can Jews support Obama?”  It’s an excellent question, and an extremely tough one to answer.  The easiest statement, although also the hardest to analyze, is that Jews have substituted the Democrat Party platform for Torah.  They ostensibly give obeisance to the God of Abraham, but their true God is Progressive politics. 

However, Jews do not forget the Holocaust, and they do not forget that Israel does what Jews have not done since Roman times:  Israel fights back.  To the extent that Obama seems determined to clip Israel’s wings to a fatal extent, leaving her grounded as predators circle, touches something visceral in those Jews who have not drunk too deeply from the political Kool-Aid.  There is hope.

Other than all that, what has Paul Ryan ever done for us?

Within seconds of Romney’s announcement that Ryan would be his running mate, the chatter started.  Democrats expressed delight, because they see Ryan’s stance on Medicare as one they can use to portray Romney and Ryan as Satan incarnate.  A couple of years ago, they showed Ryan pushing grandma’s wheelchair off the cliff.  This year, I’m sure that they’re going to show him detonating the mushroom-shaped cloud that immolates every American over 50 . . . or is it 40?  Or maybe 30?

Republicans haven’t been much better.  They celebrated wildly because Ryan is so wonderful, and then immediately began worrying:  He’s not the right color; Wisconsin brings too few electoral votes (10), as opposed to being a major swing state; bold picks seldom end well; he’s merely a competent speaker; and, of course, he is a target because of his attempts to save Medicare from itself.

What’s funny, though, is that each person who worries about some deficit in the Ryan pick comes back with an offering to show some demographic that nobody thought about, but that Ryan can bring into the Republican fold.  Right now, Republicans remind me of the famous Monty Python Life of Brian skit, with a leader expressing horror about Roman rule, and the followers reminding him that it’s not all bad.  For those of you unfamiliar with that scene (is there anybody unfamiliar with that scene), the leader of the People’s Front of Judea rhetorically, and with great disdain, asks his follows what the Romans have ever done for them, only to learn that his followers are able to recognize Roman virtues:

In no particular order, here are some of the things Paul Ryan, by appearing on the ticket, will end up doing for us, American conservatives:

1.  As the famous six-minute video shows, Ryan has already stared Obama down once, when he wiped out Obama’s pie-in-sky rhetoric by agreeing with Obama’s goals and then showing irrefutably that the ObamaCare numbers couldn’t possibly add up:

Ryan’s math literacy didn’t actually dissuade an innumerate, ideology-driven Congress from leading us to the economic abyss.  Polls show, however, that the American people, perhaps with a math ability driven by their own pocket books, have consistently agreed with Ryan to the effect that ObamaCare is a bad thing.

2.  Ryan is popular in Wisconsin.  Despite coming from a heavily Democrat district, he keeps winning.  This matters because, with the Scott Walker statehouse protests, Wisconsin put itself right in the middle of the referendum over the direction America is taking.  Despite the union spending there, Ryan’s and Walker’s party won.  Wisconsin, then, finds itself being in the peculiar position of being a bellwether state and Ryan is one of the tocsins.

3.  Ryan may not be the most fiery speaker in the world, and we’re completely in the dark about his teleprompter skills, but he is able to articulate the American vision in a way Romney can’t.  Since this election is a referendum about American values, have someone on the ticket who is comfortable speaking about those values is huge . . . ginormous . . .incredibly important.  If you ignore Charlie Rose’s bloviations, this video shows Ryan articulating just those values:

On second thought, don’t ignore Rose. The video shows admirably, not only that Ryan espouses core constitutional values, but also that he will not let MSM bullies derail him or even fluster him.

4. Although the Democrats are crowing about Ryan being toxic to seniors, the numbers show that seniors like him.  Seniors understand two things:  The first is that Ryan will not touch entitlements that have already vested; and the second is that Ryan is holding out the last best hope for the seniors’ children and grandchildren.  Seniors, having lived long, are able to take the long view.  Also, they’re probably supportive of Ryan’s values, which resonant with those values that were still prevalent in their own youths.

5.  Young people may like him.  Not only is he charmingly youthful, but they, next to African-Americans, are the demographic most horribly harmed by the Obama economy.  Hope and change has morphed into sleeping in Mom’s garage and riding a bike to work because you can’t afford a car.  Tara Servatius has a great post at American Thinker on precisely this point.  I’ll cherry pick a few idea, but I urge you to read the whole thing:

A staggering 51 percent of those who graduated from college since 2006 don’t have a full-time job, according to a recent study.  Ironically, these are the same voters who mobbed the polls for Obama in 2008, giving him a significant part of his winning margin.

Mitt Romney could have gone black, Hispanic, or female with his vice presidential pick.  Instead, he did something smarter.  He went young.

[snip]

A whopping 66 percent of voters under 30 gave Obama their votes in 2008, making the disparity between young voters and other age groups larger than in any presidential election since exit polling began in 1972. But now, four years older, many of them have entered their 30s, and a full 50 percent say Obama has failed to change the way Washington works.

Until he picked Paul Ryan this weekend, Mitt Romney had no way of credibly addressing this cohort. Now, with Ryan at his side, he does. The Ryan pick was first and foremost a nod to a generation whose problems Obama not only has never truly addressed, but rarely even acknowledges.

6. Paul Ryan has an A rating from the NRA.  Cynics will say that NRA ratings always matter to conservatives and constitutionalists, but this election is special.  This may well be the first time in which NRA members and gun rights supporters understand that the loss of the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms is no longer a hypothetical worry, something that must be guarded in the abstract, but a genuine concern.  Another four years in office will give Obama the chance to affect the Supreme Court (and that reed is sufficiently fragile already), to pack lower federal courts, and to issue more and more executive and administrative orders curtailing the American right to bear arms.  Mitt Romney has waffled on this point, although he’s better than Obama; Ryan, as I said, is an “A.”

7.  There’s nothing about Ryan that will scare away the Jews.  That is, if Jews were already leaning away from Obama, Ryan won’t change that.  Israel hasn’t been an issue for him, but every indication is that, as is true for most Republicans, he’s a friend to Israel.

8.  Yes, Paul Ryan is a Tea Party candidate — and that’s a good thingAs Rick Richman points out, 2010 wasn’t the result of a few crazy people in George Washington costumes.  The wave election that resulted in conservative candidates winning races in every corner of America, from small towns to the federal government, meant that many more people than just Tea Partiers looked at the Ryan world view and found it good.  There’s no reason to believe that, in the face of Obama’s continued attacks on traditional American values, politics, national security, etc., people will have become disaffected from that Ryan-esque world view.

Those are just a few of the nice things I remember reading about Paul Ryan.  I’m sure you can think of more.

I’ll just ask worried Republicans one thing:  Other than being a budget wizard who’s not afraid of Barack Obama; being popular in a bellwether state; having the ability to articulate conservative values; appealing to seniors; holding out true, not hyped, hope for young voters; getting an A rating from the NRA; not scaring Jews; and representing a rising tide of American conservativism, what has Paul Ryan ever done for us?

The President who manages to embarrass a nation

You all saw that Mr. “I know Judaism better than the Jews” is now refusing to apologize for having referred to Polish, as opposed to Nazi, death camps.  What a maroon.

I always tell my kids (usually after they’ve said “Moooom, you’re embarrassing me”) that a person can only embarrass himself.  President Obama is the exception to this rule:  he is an embarrassment to himself, to Jews (most of whom, sadly, vote for him and let him get away with his self-aggrandizing garbage), and to Americans generally.

Are Jews finally figuring out that Obama isn’t Moses, he’s Pharaoh?

The handwriting was on the wall in 2008 but Jews, despite having eyes, could not see it:  Obama is not now and never was a friend to Israel.  His social and political allegiances meant that any protestations of friendship were lies.  And certainly his acts during more than three years in the White House have been aggressively hostile to the Jewish state, whether he’s been showing personal antipathy to Netanyahu, political antipathy to the Jewish state itself, or bizarre outpourings of love for the Jewish state’s genocidal enemies.

Perhaps too late, or perhaps just in time, some Jews seem to be catching on that Obama isn’t Moses, he’s Pharaoh:

If senior journalist David Goldman is right, the correct word for describing the way a growing number of US Jews feel about President Barack Obama is not ‘anger’ but ‘rage’ – white-hot rage, at that, and a conviction that they have been swindled.

Goldman, Senior Editor of First Things magazine and ‘Spengler’ columnist for Asia Times Online, spoke last week at a convention on intellectuals and terror at Ariel University in Samaria. In his lecture, he quoted a top Jewish campaign donor who used the word ‘sociopath’ to describe Obama. In an interview with Israel National News, he predicted a possibly dramatic ‘train wreck’ for the Democrats in the November mid-term elections, with Jewish fundraising for Democrats drying up and a possibly high turnout of anti-Obama evangelical Christians.

Read the interview with David Goldman here.

My annual Passover post — Pharaoh’s hard heart and the nature of tyranny

I wrote this during Iran’s Green Revolution.  For the paragraphs regarding Iran, please feel free to substitute Syria, the Sudan, the economic victims of the financially decimated European Union, Palestinian children who are pawns in Hamas’ genocidal strategy, or any other group of people groaning under a tyrant’s yoke.

****

An antisemitic Jew I know, rather than seeing the Passover ceremony as the celebration of freedom (the world’s first and for a long time only successful slave revolt), and of justice and morality (the Ten Commandments), derides the whole ceremony as the unconscionable and immoral celebration of the genocide of the Egyptian people. What troubles him so much is the fact that, after each plague, when Pharaoh seems about to soften and let the Jews go, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, leading to the necessity of yet another plague, culminating in the death of the first born.

I know that some people have tried to explain away this part of the story by saying that it is simply dramatic license, meant to increase the tension and danger of the Jew’s escape from Egypt. After all, if it had been easy, it wouldn’t have been much of a story. You know, Moses asks, “Hey, Pharaoh, can we go?” and Pharaoh answers “Sure.” That’s not a narrative with much punch or heroism, and God’s involvement is minimal or, at least, unexciting. It’s much more exciting to have an escalating series of plagues, with the audience on tenterhooks as to whether those pesky Jewish slaves will actually be able to make a break for it.

This reasoning is silly. There’s a much more profound purpose behind the ten plagues, and that is to remind us of the tyrant’s capacity for tolerating others’ suffering, as long as his power remains in place.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, despite an increase in the burdens placed upon his people. A blood filled Nile River may, at first, have seemed appalling, but the red receded and life went on. Pharaoh still held together his government. The same held true for each subsequent plague, whether lice or boils or wild animals or frogs, or whatever: As long as Pharaoh could maintain his power base, he was okay with the incremental decimation visited upon those he ruled.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might worry about a populace starving and frightened, but that was irrelevant as long as that same populace continued to fear and worship him. The people’s suffering, ultimately, was irrelevant to his goals. It was only when the price became too high — when Pharaoh’s power base was destroyed because his citizens were destroyed — that Pharaoh was convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways.

Human nature hasn’t changed much in 3,000 years. Think, for example, of both the Nazis and the Japanese at the end of WWII. For the Nazis, it was apparent by December 1944 (the Battle of the Bulge) that the war was over. Hitler, however, was a megalomaniac in the pharaonic mold, and his high command, either from fear or insanity, would not gainsay him. Rather than surrendering, the Nazi high command was willing to see its country overrun and its citizens killed. Only when the death toll became too high, and it was apparent that nothing could be salvaged from the ashes, did the war on the continent finally end.

The same held true for the Japanese. Truman did not decide to drop the bomb just for the hell of it. Even the fact that it would impress the Soviets was an insufficient reason for doing so. What swayed Truman was the fact that his advisers told him (credibly as it turned out) that the Japanese Bushido culture would not allow Japan to surrender even when surrender had become the only reasonable option. Instead, the military warned Truman that, although the Americans would inevitably win the war, if Truman didn’t take drastic action, victory would take another year, and cost up to 100,000 American lives and at least that many Japanese lives (including Japanese civilians).

Truman therefore had two choices: another year of war, with the loss of 100,000 Americans and many more than 100,000 Japanese; or an immediate stop to the war, with no more American casualties and at least 100,000 Japanese casualties. Put that way, the choice was a no-brainer. The outcome would be the same for the Japanese, but Truman would save the lives of more than 100,000 Americans, British, Australians and Dutch. (One of those Dutch, incidentally, was my Mom, who was on the verge of starving to death in a Japanese concentration camp.) The Japanese high command was Pharaoh. No amount of smaller plagues could stop the command from its chosen path. Only a large plague would swiftly lead to the inevitable conclusion.

But what about the innocent lives lost as a result of Pharaoh’s, the Nazi’s, and the Japanese high command’s intransigence? As the Japanese tale shows only too well, the innocents were always going to die, with the only question being whether they would die quickly or slowly. The same holds true for the Germans, whom the Nazis had long ago designated as cannon fodder to support their intensely evil regime. That’s the problem with an evil regime. If you’re unlucky enough to live under that regime, whether or not you support it, you’re going to be cannon fodder. Pharaoh will let you die of plagues, and the Nazi and Japanese leadership will let you be bombed and burned — as long as they can retain their power.

Iran is no different. Although the people bleed and cry under the brutish regime, no plague, including rioting in the streets, has come along that is bad enough to break the back of that tyranny. The people continue to die by inches, and the regime threatens everyone within bombing distance.

Liberals believe that it is immoral to impose serious consequences against the Iranian regime because there are innocents who will suffer from those consequences. What these liberals fail to understand is that, when power doesn’t reside in the people, but resides, instead, in a single group that is insulated from all but the most terrible strikes, imposing small plagues against the country (freezing a few bank accounts, public reprimands, vague threats) is utterly useless. These small plagues, no matter how much they affect the ordinary citizen, do not affect the decision-making process in which a tyrant engages. The only thing that will move the tyrant is to destroy his power base. Everything else is theater.

With that, I’d like to wish all of you a Happy Passover. Whether Jewish or not, I hope that the Pesach celebration serves as an occasion for all of us to remember that, though the price may sometimes be high, both for slave and master, our ultimate goal as just and moral human beings must be freedom. So please join with me in saying, as all Jews do at this time of year, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

Proof — as if we need it — that anti-Zionism sentiment is antisemitic and that Israel is not just right but necessary

Today, a gunman hunted out a Jewish school in Toulouse, killing four (three of whom were young children) and then vanishing.  Despite the unusual specificity of the targets (i.e., Jewish children), the usual suspects are very busy denying that the unusual specificity of the targets had anything to do with anything.  D.G. Myers will have nothing to do with this type of dissimulation and uses it to hone in on two very pertinent truths:

Nor have [the shooter's] ethnicity and affiliations (if any) been established. That did not stop commentators on the Washington Post’s story from issuing the standard “Israelis kill innocent children too” equivalencies. This much can be said for certain, however: the shooting at a Jewish religious school had nothing to do with Israel, except in as far as all Jews are identified with Israel, for better or worse. The gunman could not have singled out Rabbi Sandler and his two children, since according to witnesses, he “shot at everything he could see.” As Jonathan said, he simply wanted to kill as many Jews as possible.

But the fact that commentators were quick to draw a connection to Israel — Arab commentators on the Jerusalem Post story did the same — reveals an undeniable truth: Anti-Zionism is indistinguishable from anti-Semitism, precisely because all Jews are identified with Israel, for better or worse.

And there is another connection between this morning’s shooting and the Jewish state as well. If the innocent dead and wounded at Ozar Hatorah were targeted only because they are Jews, there is one place on earth where they will be protected, only because they are Jews. Perhaps there is no better justification than that for the state of Israel.

One of the reasons the Daily Mail is popular is because of stories about an ultra-Orthodox wedding in Israel

The Daily Mail is one of my go-to places.  I love the strange amalgam of real news, crime stories, pop culture, and general miscellanea.  Today, that miscellanea included an exquisite, and completely un-antisemitic, photo essay about an ultra-Orthodox wedding in Israel.  The pictures are dazzling windows into a different world, a world that is rooted in a different time and place.  Check it out.

Obama is such an easy target that it’s a shame the Republicans are determined to kill only each other

We can expect tomorrow night’s State of the Union address to be an action-packed hour (or so) of vitriol and self-pity.  Obama will cherry-pick a few numbers about the 1% and then whine about how he’s been trying really hard to destroy that same 1%, but that a vast array of insurmountable obstacles — Congress, Republicans, the media, the American people, the Jews — have prevented him from doing so.  In a most-read piece, Joseph Curl explains what Obama will be hiding:

The unemployment rate when Mr. Obama was elected was 6.8 percent; today it is 8.5 percent — at least that’s the official number. In reality, the Financial Times writes, “if the same number of people were seeking work today as in 2007, the jobless rate would be 11 percent.”

In addition, there are now fewer payroll jobs in America than there were in 2000 — 12 years ago — and now, 40 percent of those jobs are considered “low paying,” up 10 percent from when President Reagan took office. The number of self-employed has dropped 2 million to 14.5 million in just six years.

Regular gasoline per gallon cost $1.68 in January 2009. Today, it’s $3.39 — that’s a 102 percent increase in just three years. (By the way, if you’re keeping score at home, gas was $1.40 a gallon when George W. Bush took office in 2001, $1.68 when he left office — a 20 percent increase.)

Electricity bills have also skyrocketed, with households now paying a record $1,420 annually on average, up some $300.

Some 48 percent of all Americans — 146.4 million — are considered by the Census Bureau either as “low-income” or living in poverty, up 4 million from when Mr. Obama took office; 57 percent of all children in America now live in such homes.

And that’s not even the half of it.  You can read the rest here.

In this target-rich environment, the tone-deaf Mitt Romney is attacking . . . Newt.  This is why Newt is surging.  While Mitt attacks him, Newt, although he too has taken too many time-outs for vicious internecine warfare, hasn’t forgotten that the American people care about the economy and national security.  Even Newt, though, could step up the attacks on Obama.  It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

And here’s a judo-style suggestion for dealing with all of Obama’s victim talk:

President Obama claims that the media misrepresents him, Republicans are evil, Congress is obstructionist, and the American people are lazy.  These are the reasons, he says, that he has been unable to implement his agenda.  It’s not his fault; it’s everyone else’s fault. 

Well, let’s assume, solely for the sake of argument, that everything the President says about the obstacles facing him is true.  That assumed truth leads to one, and only one possible question:  What the heck type of a leader is President Obama?  By his own admission, he is unable to handle anyone or anything that stands in his way.  This isn’t just an inability to handle the 3 am phone call.  Instead, this is the inability even to pick up the phone. 

The man who occupies the highest leadership position in the land — indeed, in the world — has repeatedly conceded that he isn’t up to the job.  Since he’s not going to quit, it’s up to you, the American people, to fire him.  And when you replace him, I’m the man for the job because….