Go Back   Bloggingheads Community > Diavlog comments
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Notices

Diavlog comments Post comments about particular diavlogs here.
(Users cannot create new threads.)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #41  
Old 09-01-2010, 08:19 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: US Northeast
Posts: 6,784
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

Quote:
Originally Posted by popcorn_karate View Post
humans inspired by religion produce things you like (art) and things you dislike (war). If you want to get rid of religion you will lose both kinds of fruit.

art and war will still exist of course, they just won't be inspired by religion. I find a lot of religiously inspired art to be truly amazing.
I see religion as a potentiator or enhancer of the original drive (violence-war, or creativity-art). Getting rid of religion would only eliminate one powerful source of conflict, but there are of course others. The same goes for artistic inspiration. In the case of war, the faith based nature of religion makes it particularly dangerous because it becomes an unrefusable mandate. For creativity, I would think that a sense of the sublime can be found in other places, while the possibility of mandate doesn't apply.

Quote:
i think the applicability and lack of specificity is the point : )

regarding dualism, it is a curious dualism in that it assumes that each side of a duality contains the seed of the other side of that duality, unlike the western versions of duality that are more exclusionary. I don't think it limits thought in quite the same way. But you know, its just one way of thinking about things that i find useful - i don't have any desire to proselytize about it or defend it.
If you say "light" you imply "shadow". If you say "up" you imply "down". The seed of the other is always contained implicitly. As to the Western world, there was Heraclitus and his paradoxical logic, to start in antiquity. But all that is too complicated. I'll leave it to the experts.
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 09-01-2010, 08:42 PM
soral soral is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 5
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

I take issue with the following:

4) The entire enterprise of a "Jewish state," no matter how secular it claims to be, is suspect (as are Muslim states). If you're so secular, why call yourself Jewish?

I disagree. You are probably aware that Jewish identity is split between heredity, culture and religion, as is the Greek or Brazilian identity, etc. Jews are not simply adherents of a religious tradition; just ask most Jews. To say that the enterprise of a Jewish state is suspect is just as debased as saying that the enterprise of a Greek state is suspect. But, you might speak up and say, Greeks in Greece are not as religiously fervent as a proportion of their population as Israeli Jews are! And you would be absolutely right, but the fact is that Greeks certainly have been in the past and that if there were a resurgence of religiosity in the Greek state as there has been in Israel, this would in no way obviate the right and the need of the existence of a Greek state, as you claim the right of the Jewish state is obviated by its religiosity.

The conflation of culture, history and faith is something many Christians and (to a lesser extent) Muslims have a hard time conceptualizing, because to be a Christian or a Muslim in the conventional sense requires faith, whereas to be a Jew does not. This confusion should not, however, lead anyone to claim, as you have, that the Jewish nation's right to a state is somehow "suspect".

There is no specific Christian or Muslim ethnicity (though some proud Arabs may disagree), but there is a Jewish one and it deserves self-determination.
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 09-01-2010, 09:14 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Southern California
Posts: 5,694
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

Quote:
There is no specific Christian or Muslim ethnicity (though some proud Arabs may disagree), but there is a Jewish one and it deserves self-determination.
I disagree. I'm a Jewish atheist, so I have no religious baggage to bring to the question. I am certainly steeped in Jewish culture, history and languages, but I have no interest (nor a right, in my view) to self-determination or my own state.

Like most Jews the world over, I have declined the free overnight citizenship offer provided by the state of Israel, and I have chosen to live elsewhere.

In fact, I would argue that Diaspora Judaism is a more legitimate expression of Jewish experience than Israeli/Zionist Judaism, since our historical experience is absolutely defined as minorities (just as it would be inauthentic to transplant African-American culture to Kenya or Nigeria.) But whether you would agree or not with that line of argumentation, I would still reject Jewish statehood.

You'd have a better case if Israel existed on uncontested land in a different part of the world. You'd still have the problem of a nation that grossly discriminates against its ethnic minority (Israeli Arabs), but at least you'd have nation-state legitimacy under international law. Israel, as an occupying power with an unresolved refugee population living in camps, is in gross violation of international law.

Israel has a "right to exist," but it must evolve beyond Jim Crow and toward equal rights for all its citizens. I don't think that's really possible as a "Jewish state," but I certainly welcome reforms that go in the right direction, eg. civil marriage, immigration reform, and so on.

I used to support a two-state solution to the wider conflict. At this point, I don't rule it out entirely, but I'm much more inclined to support one state and doubt very much that two states will ever happen.
__________________
Seek Peace and Pursue it
בקש שלום ורדפהו
Busca la paz y síguela
--Psalm 34:15
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 09-01-2010, 11:27 PM
soral soral is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 5
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

"I disagree. I'm a Jewish atheist, so I have no religious baggage to bring to the question. I am certainly steeped in Jewish culture, history and languages, but I have no interest (nor a right, in my view) to self-determination or my own state."

You say that you feel you have no interest in self-determination or your own state, and I commend you for it. That is your decision and it sounds carefully made. However, you assert that Israel has a "right to exist", in quote marks, while earlier stating that Israel's right to exist is suspect. As a Jew you feel you have no right to self-determination, (not that you waive this right, but that you positively do not have it to begin with) and consequently I must infer that if you are not accorded this right as a Jew, then no Jews are. Do you deny other Jews the right to self-determination on principle? Under what auspices do you call into question this universal human right for Jews? That is, irrespective of the present reality in I/P?


"Like most Jews the world over, I have declined the free overnight citizenship offer provided by the state of Israel, and I have chosen to live elsewhere."

There is hyperbole here. First I must point out that the process of Jewish immigration to Israel, Aliyah, is not overnight but takes months and often years to complete successfully, like many other immigration regimes the world over. Secondly of the world's Jews, about half are found in Israel, give or take a few hundred thousand.


"In fact, I would argue that Diaspora Judaism is a more legitimate expression of Jewish experience than Israeli/Zionist Judaism, since our historical experience is absolutely defined as minorities (just as it would be inauthentic to transplant African-American culture to Kenya or Nigeria.) But whether you would agree or not with that line of argumentation, I would still reject Jewish statehood."

'Our' historical experience? Are you including me in 'our'? I hadn't given that much away yet. Well, you should.

I believe one must be very careful about defining any historical experience in absolute terms, because we don't know how history happened exactly. Besides it's empirically wrong: there have been times and places throughout the world where Jews have been at or near majority status. And who is to say what is 'authentic Jewish experience'? It seems absolutely subjective, if you know what I mean.

Regarding the African-American analogy (always a fraught one in my view) I think you have this backward. As inappropriate as it may seem to transplant African-American culture to Kenya or Nigeria, it is as we speak being done, presumably authentically, by many Kenyans and Nigerians who love African-American culture. Further Kenya and Nigeria and other African nations are among the sources of what today comprises African-American culture, and are indeed seen by many African-Americans as homeland nations, receiving visitors and even emigrants from the African-American community. What's more, these African nations are nearly universally seen as legitimate entities despite ethnic cleansing, deprivation of human rights, war, apartheid-like conditions and starvation, along ethnic lines, committed by the governments of several legitimate nations I could mention.

Please allow me to post an additional reply in just a few minutes.
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 09-02-2010, 12:06 AM
soral soral is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 5
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

"You'd have a better case if Israel existed on uncontested land in a different part of the world. You'd still have the problem of a nation that grossly discriminates against its ethnic minority (Israeli Arabs), but at least you'd have nation-state legitimacy under international law. Israel, as an occupying power with an unresolved refugee population living in camps, is in gross violation of international law."

The idea of needing a "better case" for a nation of Jews to exist seems anathema to me. It seems that Jews either have a right to a sovereign state and self-determination, or they do not, because a right is not conditional. One may argue the retrospective wisdom of founding the modern state of Israel as it exists today, and this can be an interesting academic exercise. Frankly I am curious as to where a more practical location would have been found. But it is not helpful to Israelis and Palestinians working to grapple daily with the complexities of living and bringing their families to better lives than they have now.

Regarding the gross discrimination practiced against Israeli Arabs, this is totally independent of any question of the legitimacy of the state and simply does not belong in the discussion. In the same vein, as an occupying power with an unresolved refugee problem, in gross violation of international law, Israel's right to exist and legitimacy is fully and wholly intact. A nation's violating international law simply has no bearing on whether that nation and its people have a right to exist. The repeated assertion of a connection between the two in the case of Israel is fundamentally damaging to Israelis and Palestinians because it empowers reactionaries and extremists on both sides. I believe from what I have read that Mr. Ibish could back me up on this.

"Israel has a "right to exist," but it must evolve beyond Jim Crow and toward equal rights for all its citizens. I don't think that's really possible as a "Jewish state," but I certainly welcome reforms that go in the right direction, eg. civil marriage, immigration reform, and so on."

The legal rights of minorities in Israel have exceeded those of African-Americans in the Jim Crow South since its founding, and it has been a self-described Jewish State for all of this time. I too would welcome reform of marriage and immigration laws (though in truth most developed nations allow immigration based on claims of identity or ancestry), and would submit that Israel's task now, apart from ending the occupation, is that of nearly every nation on Earth: promote not just the rights but the welfare of minorities.

"I used to support a two-state solution to the wider conflict. At this point, I don't rule it out entirely, but I'm much more inclined to support one state and doubt very much that two states will ever happen."

Mr. Ibish has written extensively about the possibility of a one-state situation, and so I'll allow him to speak for me here:

http://www.ibishblog.com/book/2009/0...till_palestini

You can download it in its entirety for free. Please do. Mr. Ibish seems to be oriented toward the goal of peace for all parties in Israel - Palestine, and I hope more people will start reading his blog at http://www.ibishblog.com/.
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 09-02-2010, 12:30 AM
rfrobison rfrobison is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Tokyo
Posts: 1,629
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
Religiously inspired good deeds don't nullify the damage done in the name of religion.
Of course not. But a fair-minded assessment of the role of religion in shaping human affairs will acknowledge both its positive and negative effects, which you have done. Reasonable people can disagree on whether "religion" -- an exceedingly broad an nebulous concept -- has on balance done more harm than good, but...

Quote:
It may be that there is a central irrationality in faith itself which allows this fervor to arise. Religious morality and its mandates are prescribed in an authoritarian fashion. What "God" says can not be disobeyed. Those who become God's translators have the power to mobilize masses who will follow blindly.
The above is hyperbole.

Quote:
Secularism, on the other hand, is based on rational discourse, not on faith. Its morality is revised and challenged as needed. It's a more mature form of morality. We own it and we have to take responsibility for it and its consequences.
You assume here, incorrectly, that 1) those engaged in "rational discourse" are able to define the term in universally accepted terms solely and everywhere by rational, nonauthoritarian means; and 2) that believers never engage in peaceful, rational debate, or develop new (improved?) ethical understandings.

Quote:
The role of religion should be limited to one's own personal practice without any incursion whatsoever into political life (no wars in the name of religion, no legal precepts for religious beliefs, no exclusions, no crimes for religious reasons). But how do you do that?
Now who's being authoritarian? To demand that people to limit the exercise of their faith to the purely personal sphere -- You can think about God all you like, but dare not speak His name -- is just foolish, and I daresay frightening. I am a Christian. I am a social creature. I have an obligation to my fellow creatures. I cannot and will not divorce my faith from my public or interactions or my political engagement in society in the manner you ask.

And to ask people to build society and law without any reference whatever to ethics or morality is to make a nonsense of the whole concept of law and politics, unless you want to say that such things are only legitmate if they serve purely utilitarian ends. In practice, no one does this.

Religion is bound to be a wellspring for some of these ethically motivated political and legal acts. The only acceptible constraint on any individual or group in bringing the full breath and depth of their knowledge and experience into the political arena is their willingness to play by democratic rules. Period.

You will simply have to live with that, unless you can evangelize and turn Jesus' Great Commission on its head:

"Go, therefore, and make nonbelievers of all nations..."

Insofar as you do so, you can expect (nonviolent!) opposition from people like me.
__________________
Send lawyers, guns and money/Dad, get me outta this
--Warren Zevon--

Last edited by rfrobison; 09-02-2010 at 06:49 AM.. Reason: added a bit and reworded last paragraph
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 09-02-2010, 01:33 AM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Heartland Conservative
Posts: 4,933
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

Fascinating poll data.
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 09-02-2010, 01:46 AM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Southern California
Posts: 5,694
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

Quote:
It seems that Jews either have a right to a sovereign state and self-determination, or they do not, because a right is not conditional. One may argue the retrospective wisdom of founding the modern state of Israel as it exists today, and this can be an interesting academic exercise.
Yes, I agree that Israel is a fait accompli and there is no turning back the clock. Israel exists. Period. I put "right to exist" in quotes above because Zionist have turned it into a loaded phrase by demanding recognition of "right to exist" as a precondition of negotiations. But no one is going to revoke Israel. It's a done deal.

Quote:
But it is not helpful to Israelis and Palestinians working to grapple daily with the complexities of living and bringing their families to better lives than they have now.
Right.

Quote:
Israel's right to exist and legitimacy is fully and wholly intact.
Again, not disputing the right to exist. I question the legitimacy. The occupation is completely illegitimate in my view; the Settlements are worse; the land grab outside the Green Line is just as bad, and the whole stupid enterprise of Settlements + Occupation + Land grab going on for 42 years is beyond unconscionable.

Quote:
The legal rights of minorities in Israel have exceeded those of African-Americans in the Jim Crow South since its founding, and it has been a self-described Jewish State for all of this time.
Jim Crow is not exactly a high bar.

Quote:
I too would welcome reform of marriage and immigration laws (
Good. That would be a great start. I really doubt that the Zionists are willing to reform immigration law, since the whole Apartheid/West Bank and Jim- Crow-within-the-Wall system is based on Jewish demographics. But good luck with that.

"I used to support a two-state solution to the wider conflict. At this point, I don't rule it out entirely, but I'm much more inclined to support one state and doubt very much that two states will ever happen."

Quote:
Mr. Ibish has written extensively about the possibility of a one-state situation, and so I'll allow him to speak for me here:
Yes, he wrote a book about it. Again, good luck with that. I'm not a believer in two-state, but technically I'm an agnostic.
__________________
Seek Peace and Pursue it
בקש שלום ורדפהו
Busca la paz y síguela
--Psalm 34:15
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old 09-02-2010, 01:49 AM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Southern California
Posts: 5,694
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

Quote:
Fascinating poll data.
Honestly, I'm pleasantly surprised. I would have predicted worse results.
__________________
Seek Peace and Pursue it
בקש שלום ורדפהו
Busca la paz y síguela
--Psalm 34:15
Reply With Quote
  #50  
Old 09-02-2010, 03:40 AM
look look is offline
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 2,886
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Always Cynical View Post
The question remains, Why did Eli Lake fail to comment on Shas Party Rabbi Yosef's call for Palestinian genocide?

And why have the bosses at Bloggingheads moved this thread off the front page of Lake's debate?
Bobby? Mickey?

Anybody care to offer an explanation?
Have they? I just checked and it was there.
Reply With Quote
  #51  
Old 09-02-2010, 04:28 AM
Florian Florian is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,118
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

Quote:
Originally Posted by soral View Post
I disagree. You are probably aware that Jewish identity is split between heredity, culture and religion, as is the Greek or Brazilian identity, etc. Jews are not simply adherents of a religious tradition; just ask most Jews. To say that the enterprise of a Jewish state is suspect is just as debased as saying that the enterprise of a Greek state is suspect. But, you might speak up and say, Greeks in Greece are not as religiously fervent as a proportion of their population as Israeli Jews are! And you would be absolutely right, but the fact is that Greeks certainly have been in the past and that if there were a resurgence of religiosity in the Greek state as there has been in Israel, this would in no way obviate the right and the need of the existence of a Greek state, as you claim the right of the Jewish state is obviated by its religiosity..
The concept of the state, as it developed in Europe from the 16th century on, is in essence secular, even though it took several centuries for the governing classes to catch up with the theorists (Grotius, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant etc). It is based on the idea that individuals as individuals possess certain "natural" rights and that the state exists to secure these rights, one of the rights being the right to worship (or not to worship) God as one sees fit. Both the American Revolution and the French Revolution, in their very different ways, gave expression to this aspiration.

Religion, cultural identity, heredity (!) do not belong to this tradition. They belong to the German and romantic tradition of "Volk" (=nation, people) worship, which developed in opposition to the French Revolution and ultimately led to the disastrous conflation of state and nation or people. The idea of the "right to self-determination," i.e. the right of every nation, of every "Kulturvolk," to govern itself was one of the main causes of WW I. There is a direct, historical link between Zionism and the German doctrine of Volks-und Blutgemeinschaft (=community of blood).

If I were Jewish, I would be reluctant to base Israel's "right" to exist on such a blood-stained doctrine.

Quote:
The conflation of culture, history and faith is something many Christians and (to a lesser extent) Muslims have a hard time conceptualizing, because to be a Christian or a Muslim in the conventional sense requires faith, whereas to be a Jew does not. This confusion should not, however, lead anyone to claim, as you have, that the Jewish nation's right to a state is somehow "suspect"..
I think that Christians, if they are at all historically informed, know quite well that their "faith" is not the same thing as culture and history! Muslims, on the other hand, are as unable as you are to see the difference. Indeed it was the Christian (Augustinian) doctrine of the two cities, and of the distinction between the spiritual and the temporal powers, that made possible the separation of church and state, and ultimately the "exit from religion," which is now possible in Europe and its offshoots.

Last edited by Florian; 09-02-2010 at 04:45 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #52  
Old 09-02-2010, 10:16 AM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: US Northeast
Posts: 6,784
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

Wow, rf! How much misunderstanding all together in one single comment!

First, I apologize if my comment was so poorly redacted that lead to misinterpretation. However, I also think you did a good job of misrepresenting what I meant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rfrobison View Post
Of course not. But a fair-minded assessment of the role of religion in shaping human affairs will acknowledge both its positive and negative effects, which you have done. Reasonable people can disagree on whether "religion" -- an exceedingly broad an nebulous concept -- has on balance done more harm than good, but...
Okay, so far.

Quote:
Quote:
It may be that there is a central irrationality in faith itself which allows this fervor to arise. Religious morality and its mandates are prescribed in an authoritarian fashion. What "God" says can not be disobeyed. Those who become God's translators have the power to mobilize masses who will follow blindly.
The above is hyperbole.
Yes, used in order to make a point about a basic concept that's intrinsic to religious faith. If you think about the most fundamentalist religious groups, you will see that my statement isn't hyperbole. Think about crusaders, or suicide bombers, what is mobilizing them? How did David Koresh persuade people into joining him? The existence of cults is based on that blind following of some god's messenger.

Quote:
You assume here, incorrectly,
Incorrectly only in your opinion.

Quote:
...that 1) those engaged in "rational discourse" are able to define the term in universally accepted terms solely and everywhere by rational, nonauthoritarian means; ...
No. You're using hyperbole (universally, solely, everywhere) now. And in doing so, you are misrepresenting what I said. I meant that rational discourse provides a safety mechanism of being able to question a precept and not just follow it blindly. In order to be able to do that you have to understand the precept as coming from others like you. A human precept can be questioned and challenged. But once you introduce the idea of a precept that comes from from an all-mighty, all knowing origin, one's ability to question and challenge gets truncated. Within that framework, who would dare?

Quote:
... and 2) that believers never engage in peaceful, rational debate, or develop new (improved?) ethical understandings.
I never said that. Believers can engage in peaceful, rational debate just like anybody else. History is filled with such thinkers. They have been the ones who have rightly pointed out the multiple inconsistencies and irrationalities contained in religious texts. They have initiated philosophical movements and reforms. Many were also burned in the cross. One such legendary figure was famously crucified, the myth says, a couple of thousand years ago.

Quote:
Now who's being authoritarian? To demand that people to limit the exercise of their faith to the purely personal sphere -- You can think about God all you like, but dare not speak His name -- is just foolish, and I daresay frightening. I am a Christian. I am a social creature. I have an obligation to my fellow creatures. I cannot and will not divorce my faith from my public or interactions or my political engagement in society in the manner you ask.
Rob, what the heck got into you here? That's not what I meant. You can worship alone or in groups. You can express your thoughts and your beliefs publicly. I just said that law and political action from a state has to come from non-religious decision making. I believe in a secular, democratic process. This is directed to the fact that some states, that don't separate religion from state, can initiate violent action against people of a different faith inside or outside of their territory. In terms of domestic policy, there are religious practices that are abhorred outside the particular belief system. That's what I meant when I said that religious belief should be kept to one's own personal life.

Quote:
And to ask people to build society and law without any reference whatever to ethics or morality is to make a nonsense of the whole concept of law and politics, unless you want to say that such things are only legitmate if they serve purely utilitarian ends. In practice, no one does this.
I have no idea how you reached this conclusion from what I said. I never said that society should be built without reference to morality. I only advocate a secular morality.


Quote:
Religion is bound to be a wellspring for some of these ethically motivated political and legal acts.
Yes, we are coming from a religious past, so inevitably our morality has been reflected on religious creed. Historically we have accepted principles emerging from religious texts and we have also been able to grow out of many of them by using rational discourse. Except for fundamentalists who seem to be unable to depart from literal interpretations.

Quote:
The only acceptible constraint on any individual or group in bringing the full breath and depth of their knowledge and experience into the political arena is their willingness to play by democratic rules. Period.
Yes, period.

Quote:
You will simply have to live with that,
As I said, democratic rule seems to be the prevailing political system. I only hope that our species continues to progress and doesn't regress into barbarism or we'll be doomed.

Quote:
...unless you can evangelize and turn Jesus' Great Commission on its head:

"Go, therefore, and make nonbelievers of all nations..."

Insofar as you do so, you can expect (nonviolent!) opposition from people like me.
I have no interest in evangelizing one way or the other. I am most respectful of religious belief. I only encounter a problem when religions try to impose their beliefs and practices on others or engage in acts that don't seem morally acceptable.

How do you defend such acts as female circumcision or holy wars? That's the question that I can answer well with secular morality but not so well from a pro- religious perspective.
Reply With Quote
  #53  
Old 09-02-2010, 11:09 AM
rfrobison rfrobison is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Tokyo
Posts: 1,629
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

Ocean:

Thanks for your reply. And sorry if I overreacted. It's late here, and I want to do your response justice, so I will pick this up tomorrow. I doubt we'll reach any kind of consensus as our starting points are so far apart, but maybe by the end we'll at least understand each other a bit better.

Talk to you later,
Rob
__________________
Send lawyers, guns and money/Dad, get me outta this
--Warren Zevon--
Reply With Quote
  #54  
Old 09-02-2010, 11:11 AM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: US Northeast
Posts: 6,784
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

Quote:
Originally Posted by rfrobison View Post
Ocean:

Thanks for your reply. And sorry if I overreacted. It's late here, and I want to do your response justice, so I will pick this up tomorrow. I doubt we'll reach any kind of consensus as our starting points are so far apart, but maybe by the end we'll at least understand each other a bit better.

Talk to you later,
Rob
Good night, Rob.
Reply With Quote
  #55  
Old 09-03-2010, 12:51 PM
soral soral is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 5
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Florian View Post
The concept of the state, as it developed in Europe from the 16th century on, is in essence secular, even though it took several centuries for the governing classes to catch up with the theorists (Grotius, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant etc). It is based on the idea that individuals as individuals possess certain "natural" rights and that the state exists to secure these rights, one of the rights being the right to worship (or not to worship) God as one sees fit. Both the American Revolution and the French Revolution, in their very different ways, gave expression to this aspiration.

Religion, cultural identity, heredity (!) do not belong to this tradition. They belong to the German and romantic tradition of "Volk" (=nation, people) worship, which developed in opposition to the French Revolution and ultimately led to the disastrous conflation of state and nation or people. The idea of the "right to self-determination," i.e. the right of every nation, of every "Kulturvolk," to govern itself was one of the main causes of WW I. There is a direct, historical link between Zionism and the German doctrine of Volks-und Blutgemeinschaft (=community of blood).

If I were Jewish, I would be reluctant to base Israel's "right" to exist on such a blood-stained doctrine.
On what values are most states' rights to exist based? Religion, culture, heredity and history may not belong to the enlightenment tradition of the secular state, but they are very widely used as the legitimating bases to draw borders between nations. Self-determination, while acknowledged as a universal right, hardly has a universally agreed-upon definition (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-determination).

You are absolutely correct regarding the essentially secular nature of the modern European state. However, I don't believe we have a disagreement on that point. Let me reintroduce context. I replied to the following comment:

The entire enterprise of a "Jewish state," no matter how secular it claims to be, is suspect (as are Muslim states). If you're so secular, why call yourself Jewish?"

The point is indeed that a state does not draw its reason for existence from religious justification. I wrote, "Jews are not simply adherents of a religious tradition" to indicate that Jews deserve a state not because of their religious tradition, but because of their collective nationhood, variously defined as the term may be.

This is the point I was making in opposition to Wonderment. Wonderment claimed the right of Israel to exist is inherently suspect due to its Jewish character. He argues that a Jewish state is defined by its religious character and thus invalid, while I countered by stating that a Jewish state is not necessarily defined by its religious character because Jewish identity is comprised of more than just religion, and therefore a Jewish state is a valid undertaking by Wonderment's calculus.

The development of the modern state as it occurred in modern European history notwithstanding, Jewish identity is still comprised of culture, religion and heredity. To reiterate the purposes of that paragraph: a state merely being religious in some partial form does not obviate its right to exist, Jewish identity is multifaceted and extends beyond religiosity, and Jews constitute a nation of people deserving of the same rights as any other nation. I don't think we disagree on any of these points. Do we?

"If I were Jewish, I would be reluctant to base Israel's "right" to exist on such a blood-stained doctrine."

Regarding your point here - if I were choosing an individual identity, I would be reluctant to select such a blood-stained one as "Jew". But I don't have that option, and neither do most of the world's nations have the option to select the ideological origins of their creation. There are indeed few nations on Earth which do not exist as the primary mode of self-determination for a particular ethnic group, nor many nations whose present form was not shaped through a process of intense bloodshed. Living in a pluralistic society such as the U.S., I recognize that it is easy to deplore other nations that do not have this luxury. Easy, but not helpful.

My point here is that Israel's right to exist is the same as that of many other nations. You place this right to exist in quote marks, and I ask you the same question I asked Wonderment: does Israel have a right to exist or not? Rights are by definition non-contingent. Furthermore, the construction "If I were Jewish, I would be reluctant to base Israel's right to exist on _____" is misleading in that it presumes that Jews must put forth the argument for Israel's existence, whereas again, if they have such a right to exist, it does not need to be argued for by Jews but is proven by the existence of other states with similar rights.
Reply With Quote
  #56  
Old 09-03-2010, 03:23 PM
soral soral is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 5
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Yes, I agree that Israel is a fait accompli and there is no turning back the clock. Israel exists. Period. I put "right to exist" in quotes above because Zionist have turned it into a loaded phrase by demanding recognition of "right to exist" as a precondition of negotiations. But no one is going to revoke Israel. It's a done deal.
Thank you for agreeing with me. As regards the right to exist, well, just because it's being used as a precondition to negotiations (although apparently it has been dropped as such) by Netanyahu et al., does not mean that there should be any confusion regarding the actual right in question. I would ask that you simply state at the beginning that you do not approve of the issue's use as a precondition, but refrain from causing confusion about a right you recognize explicitly, as you have now stated. I only ask this because major parties to the I/P conflict such as Hamas and Hezb. take the position that Israel indeed does not have a right to exist and therefore work to undermine that existence.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post

Right.



Again, not disputing the right to exist. I question the legitimacy. The occupation is completely illegitimate in my view; the Settlements are worse; the land grab outside the Green Line is just as bad, and the whole stupid enterprise of Settlements + Occupation + Land grab going on for 42 years is beyond unconscionable.

Remember that the quote I responded to was the following:

"The entire enterprise of a "Jewish state," no matter how secular it claims to be, is suspect (as are Muslim states). If you're so secular, why call yourself Jewish?"

Stating that the entire enterprise of a Jewish state is suspect is similar to saying that the state has no right to exist, so you can perhaps forgive my confusion on this point. I agree that the occupation is wholly illegitimate. However, the occupation is a policy of the Israeli government and has no more bearing on the right of the state to exist than the Iraq War has on the right of the United States to exist. In other words, none.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post


Jim Crow is not exactly a high bar.
Perhaps not, but it is the bar you raised. You wrote, again putting "right to exist" in quote marks,

"Israel has a "right to exist," but it must evolve beyond Jim Crow and toward equal rights for all its citizens. I don't think that's really possible as a "Jewish state," but I certainly welcome reforms that go in the right direction, eg. civil marriage, immigration reform, and so on."

I argued that your use of the term 'Jim Crow' is hyperbolic because Israel moved beyond Jim Crow at its very founding. And as you stated that this already-accomplished advancement was impossible while Israel remained a Jewish state, I refute that point as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Yes, he wrote a book about it. Again, good luck with that. I'm not a believer in two-state, but technically I'm an agnostic.
There are simply a wealth of reasons, if one is concerned about the future of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples, to believe in the superiority of a two-state outcome to the present impasse. This does not mean that one must believe that the two-state solution is likely to happen. As Ibish writes, a two-state solution may not even be likely in the immediate future, but it should be a profoundly preferred outcome of the conflict. I believe this idea deserves support.
Reply With Quote
  #57  
Old 09-03-2010, 05:19 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Southern California
Posts: 5,694
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

Quote:
As Ibish writes, a two-state solution may not even be likely in the immediate future, but it should be a profoundly preferred outcome of the conflict. I believe this idea deserves support.
I disagree. My position is that it's (almost) futile to waste time with a two-state resolution that will never happen, so you might as well get to work on a one-state resolution that is probably ultimately inevitable (demographics will prevail in the long run).

If a one-state movement emerges as strong, united, nonviolent, secular and democratic, then everyone wins except the fanatics.

The two-state talks currently underway are fraudulent, at least in terms of their stated goals. I support them because I like people to sit down and talk. As I've said before, talking may avoid some violence. On the other hand, when the talks collapse, as collapse they will, the failure may trigger even more violence.

It's worth noting that Palestinians also aspire to secularism, democracy and nonviolence. Most of the secular, peace-loving Palestinians may now support Abbas (or none of the above), but new and better leadership may emerge from the younger generations. The more that Arabs and Jews intermarry, the more Israelis learn Arabic, the more likely this is to happen. It's the Apartheid and Jim Crow, along with segregationist attitudes on both sides, that prevent this from happening faster. The Settlements, of course, are the most toxic element in preventing peaceful co-existence and integration.

Just to close on the "right to exist" question. My view is that there is no requirement that Hamas and Hizballah recognize Israel's "right to exist." That demand is just an obstacle to negotiations with those parties that can otherwise proceed. We negotiated for decades with communists who didn't believe capitalist countries had a right to exist; it's just word games.
__________________
Seek Peace and Pursue it
בקש שלום ורדפהו
Busca la paz y síguela
--Psalm 34:15
Reply With Quote
  #58  
Old 09-04-2010, 09:04 AM
rfrobison rfrobison is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Tokyo
Posts: 1,629
Default The faithful as political actors

Well, here I am a day late. I've had a chance to mull over our exchange and hope to clarify a couple of points, and perhaps raise a couple of others, while keeping my cool and maintaining a respectful tone.

You're one of the most fair-minded people I've run across on this site and you've come to my defense more than once, despite our marked ideological differences. I want to reaffirm my appreciation and respect for you and for what you bring to Bhtv. What with all the ill will floating around the comments section of late, the last thing I want is for us to start feuding.

With that as a preamble, I'll try to lay out my concerns about your earlier post. My initial response was strongly worded, partly because I was annoyed by what I thought I was hearing, and partly to lay down a marker on some points that I'm not willing to concede in the "religion in society" debate.

The key passages are here, and I have highlighted the parts that I find particularly problematic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
The problem is, from my perspective, that religions keep relapsing in periods of corruption and decay when they become a tool for destruction and intolerance. Again, assuming that it's all coming from our own human fallibility, it seems that when those violent impulses which originate in a large number of grievances (territory, oppression, survival, hunger, tribalism) get channeled through religion it gets energized in a very destructive fashion. It may be that there is a central irrationality in faith itself which allows this fervor to arise. Religious morality and its mandates are prescribed in an authoritarian fashion. What "God" says can not be disobeyed. Those who become God's translators have the power to mobilize masses who will follow blindly.
It would be foolish of me to dispute the historical record and the daily news. Religious institutions, like all human institutions, are subject to corruption and decay. And those failings have cost and do cost lives at times. And you are of course right that religious faith can be a powerful motivator, for good or ill.

It may indeed be the case that religious belief, because of its claims over the emotions, as well as the intellect, has a unique power in this regard. But as you alluded to in your earlier posts religious motivations for actions are just that--motivations, not the actions themselves. People have all sorts of motives for what they do. One person's faith motivates her to write a poem, or help the poor, or preach a sermon; another's prompts him to attack a bus full of strangers with explosives strapped to his chest.

Both may claim divine inspiration; they may even both claim to be adherents of the same religion. And certainly most people would call the first person's actions praiseworthy and those of the second abhorrent. But it is extremely hard for me, as a believer, to see what "secularism" does to encourage the one and discourage the other. Indeed, to the extent that the faithful see their traditions being dismissed or denigrated as "irrational," they are unlikely to take a "secularist's" criticism as anything but an affront.

The first problems are definitional. Secularism, as I understand it, means the separation of temporal and ecclesiastical power. Certainly, within Christianity there is scriptural support for that approach to how the believer should comport himself as a civic actor. C.f., Matthew 22:18-21, 1 Peter 2:13-17, Romans:13-1-7. There are others.

In Western political practice, as I understand it, secularism means that the state's organs of government, political and legal, are religiously agnostic and neutral. All are accorded equal rights and responsibilities under the law, and all have the same duties and privileges as citizens irrespective of creed.

So far, so uncontroversial. The problem arises when Caesar goes too far in either direction, favoring one belief system over others, or, conversely, by trying to abridge the rights of believers (or nonbelievers), not only the freedom to peacefully practice their religion, but the right to help shape that society through political or social action. When I hear a phrase like:

"The role of religion should be limited to one's own personal practice without any incursion whatsoever into political life... no legal precepts for religious beliefs..."

I don't hear secularism as defined above. I hear anticlericalism--an attempt to delegitimize certain people as political actors because of their allegedly irrational beliefs. Based on our previous interactions, I don't seriously believe you are trying to strip Christians of the right to vote or of Buddhists to lobby members of Congress for the policies they favor, but someone taking your quote at face value might interpret it that way.


[CONTINUES]
__________________
Send lawyers, guns and money/Dad, get me outta this
--Warren Zevon--

Last edited by rfrobison; 09-04-2010 at 11:58 AM.. Reason: Changed thread title; added missing bit: "practice their religion."
Reply With Quote
  #59  
Old 09-04-2010, 11:42 AM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: US Northeast
Posts: 6,784
Default Re: The faithful as political actors

Quote:
Originally Posted by rfrobison View Post
Well, here I am a day late. I've had a chance to mull over our exchange and hope to clarify a couple of points, and perhaps raise a couple of others, while keeping my cool and maintaining a respectful tone.
Good!

Quote:
You're one of the most fair-minded people I've run across on this site and you've come to my defense more than once, despite our marked ideological differences. I want to reaffirm my appreciation and respect for you and for what you bring to Bhtv. What with all the ill will floating around the comments section of late, the last thing I want is for us to start feuding.
Nah, I don't think we are in danger of falling in silly fighting. And thank you for the flattering comment. I don't think I reach the level of civility I strive for as often as I would like. But I keep trying.

Quote:
With that as a preamble, I'll try to lay out my concerns about your earlier post. My initial response was strongly worded, partly because I was annoyed by what I thought I was hearing, and partly to lay down a marker on some points that I'm not willing to concede in the "religion in society" debate.
Yes, it's often the case that we respond to what we think we are hearing. It's so hard to remember that perhaps we should ask for a clarification first.

Quote:
It would be foolish of me to dispute the historical record and the daily news. Religious institutions, like all human institutions, are subject to corruption and decay. And those failings have cost and do cost lives at times. And you are of course right that religious faith can be a powerful motivator, for good or ill.
Yes, we seem to agree on that. Please note that you wrote religious institutions. I agree that most of the time it is the institutions that get corrupt, or their leaders of the moment. One could argue that some parts of religious texts invite to forms of violence that most people no longer accept as reasonable or fair. So, I'm identifying two potential sources of problems: religious leaders/institutions and some interpretations of religious texts.

Quote:
It may indeed be the case that religious belief, because of its claims over the emotions, as well as the intellect, has a unique power in this regard.
Yes, that's what I meant before.

Quote:
But as you alluded to in your earlier posts religious motivations for actions are just that--motivations, not the actions themselves.
Yes, I agree. I may even say that religious belief is a powerful fuel for action. That action could be constructive or destructive. But it is the strength of the fuel that I was referring to.

Quote:
People have all sorts of motives for what they do. One person's faith motivates her to write a poem, or help the poor, or preach a sermon; another's prompts him to attack a bus full of strangers with explosives strapped to his chest.

Both may claim divine inspiration; they may even both claim to be adherents of the same religion. And certainly most people would call the first person's actions praiseworthy and those of the second abhorrent.
Yes.

Quote:
But it is extremely hard for me, as a believer, to see what "secularism" does to encourage the one and discourage the other.
Secularism doesn't encourage or discourage anything. It only takes out the "fuel" that we were talking about before. Action driven by secular choices may not be as emotionally charged. I do acknowledge that there are still other forms of powerful fuels that can drive action as well. I just think that the others may be more amenable to negotiation that the religious ones because they may not represent an existential threat like the religious ones do.

Quote:
Indeed, to the extent that the faithful see their traditions being dismissed or denigrated as "irrational," they are unlikely to take a "secularist's" criticism as anything but an affront.
Yes, I agree with you completely on that. I have repeatedly made that argument myself. In my previous comments, when I talked about rationality, I wasn't referring to traditions or that being religious is irrational. I meant that the core of religion is faith (belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.) An act of faith doesn't go through rational thought, it bypasses that level of questioning.

Quote:
The first problems are definitional. Secularism, as I understand it, means the separation of temporal and ecclesiastical power. Certainly, within Christianity there is scriptural support for that approach to how the believer should comport himself as a civic actor. C.f., Matthew 22:18-21, 1 Peter 2:13-17, Romans:13-1-7. There are others.

In Western political practice, as I understand it, secularism means that the state's organs of government, political and legal, are religiously agnostic and neutral. All are accorded equal rights and responsibilities under the law, and all have the same duties and privileges as citizens irrespective of creed.

So far, so uncontroversial. The problem arises when Caesar goes too far in either direction, favoring one belief system over others, ...
I stopped your paragraph there, because up to here we are in agreement it seems, but not so much about the rest. As you say, the key in secularism is that Caesar shouldn't go too far in either direction. The state shouldn't say "this is a Christian nation, or this is Muslim nation, or this is a Jewish nation." The majority of the people, or even all people may belong to one religion, but the state's actions can't be driven by religious motives.

Quote:
...or, conversely, by trying to abridge the rights of believers (or nonbelievers), not only the freedom to peacefully but the right to help shape that society through political or social action. When I hear a phrase like:

"The role of religion should be limited to one's own personal practice without any incursion whatsoever into political life... no legal precepts for religious beliefs..."

I don't hear secularism as defined above. I hear anticlericalism--an attempt to delegitimize certain people as political actors because of their allegedly irrational beliefs. Based on our previous interactions, I don't seriously believe you are trying to strip Christians of the right to vote or of Buddhists to lobby members of Congress for the policies they favor, but someone taking your quote at face value might interpret it that way.
I certainly and most emphatically didn't mean that religious people shouldn't vote. When you say "the right to help shape that society through political or social action" I would say that we all have a right to shape society through political and social action, but secularism shouldn't admit that shaping based on religious belief only. For example, you can be an anti-gay activist, and be against same sex marriage, but the state shouldn't accept the reasoning that because a religious text says that homosexuality is an abomination, it should be banned. When a state is being driven by religious mandate to enter into any significant action domestically or internationally, secularism is being violated.
Reply With Quote
  #60  
Old 09-06-2010, 06:16 AM
Florian Florian is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,118
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

Quote:
Originally Posted by soral View Post
On what values are most states' rights to exist based? Religion, culture, heredity and history may not belong to the enlightenment tradition of the secular state, but they are very widely used as the legitimating bases to draw borders between nations. Self-determination, while acknowledged as a universal right, hardly has a universally agreed-upon definition (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-determination)..
The self-determination of peoples, a universal right? The concept has certainly played an important role in European history, especially in Eastern Europe and the former lands of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, and wherever European Empires imposed their vision of the "nation-state" on foreign lands(Africa, the Middle East, India), but like Israel's "right to exist," it is an obscure concept. There is no "right to exist" under international law. States either exist, and are recognized by other states, or they do not exist. Israel is somewhat unusual in being the creation of a former empire (Britain) and the "international community" after WW II, but before it was recognized by other states, it had no right to exist.

Do peoples as such, i.e. all distinct cultural/ethnic/religious/linguistic entities, have a right to their own state? An idle question imo. History has already decided the issue. The Euopean nation-states and former empires, as well as their colonial offshoots in the New World, are all made up of peoples of diverse cultural/ethnic/religious/linguistic identities, molded into a common "national" identity. If you go far enough back in the history of any European nation-state, you will find that they have been "melting-pots" just like the US.

My point was that the secular enlightenment concept of the state is based on the the protection of individual (natural) rights whereas the German, romantic (Volkish) concept of the state is based on the "blood-stained doctrine" of collective rights. This doctrine inevitably tends to become exclusionary, nationalistic, and racist---as the history of Europe sadly illustrates.


Quote:
The development of the modern state as it occurred in modern European history notwithstanding, Jewish identity is still comprised of culture, religion and heredity. To reiterate the purposes of that paragraph: a state merely being religious in some partial form does not obviate its right to exist, Jewish identity is multifaceted and extends beyond religiosity, and Jews constitute a nation of people deserving of the same rights as any other nation. I don't think we disagree on any of these points. Do we?.
Yes, we do disagree. The state of Israel exists, and it is recognized by most other states. So in that sense it possesses legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. Does its religious/cultural/ethnic character "obviate" its right to exist? No, because it has no more right to exist than any other state.

The fact that it treats certain of its citizens as second-class, and treats the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank as if they did not even exist, is clearly a violation of the rights of Arabs and Palestinians as individuals. It seems pretty obvious to me that the violation of the rights of non-Jews is directly related to the fact that the state of Israel defines itself by the religious/ethnic/cultural identity of its population.

Last edited by Florian; 09-06-2010 at 06:20 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #61  
Old 09-06-2010, 03:54 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Southern California
Posts: 5,694
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

It's beyond ironic (chutzpah anyone?) that Israel demands of Palestinians that they acknowledge Israel's right to exist, when the creation and expansion of the state of Israel has been premised on ethnic cleansing and incremental theft of Palestinian land, land on which the Palestinians had existed for hundreds of years, presumably with rights.

The Israeli position has been, "Yes, you have the right to exist, but somewhere else," which is precisely Hamas's condition: "Go exist, Jews, just don't exist here on our land."

The Israeli demand boils down to "Admit we're right who owns this land." Then, maybe, and just maybe, we'll concede a sliver of it to you for self-governance. If I were Palestinian, I would never accept that deal. The Israelis and Americans now want the world to believe that such a view can only be held by fanatics who want to blow up busloads of civilians and practice Shariah law from the Jordan to the Mediterranean, but that's just not true. It's not only mainstream Palestinian thinking, it's mainstream around the rest of the world and it makes perfect moral sense. Pragmatists may conclude that the best Palestinians can hope for is two states, but that is a far cry from conceding Israeli legitimacy to Zionize most of their land.
__________________
Seek Peace and Pursue it
בקש שלום ורדפהו
Busca la paz y síguela
--Psalm 34:15
Reply With Quote
 


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 01:17 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.