On the nature of Islamophobia: Jacobs vs. the “liberal” Rabbis on the Boston Megamosque

In the following post, I’ll discuss two documents, both published in the Boston newspaper, the Jewish Advocate. One, by Charles Jacobs, criticizes the Massachusetts Governor Duval Patrick for his interaction with the Muslim American Society in Boston which ends with a short paragraph that mentions a Rabbi, whom Jacobs essentially accuses, along with Patrick of being (in my terminology), “dupes of demopaths.”

The Second is a response by a fairly long list of Rabbis and rabbinical students who find Jacobs criticism as unacceptable. This second piece offers a fascinating insight into the mind of earnest non-Muslims still deeply committed to believing that Islam (which sees them as infidels) is as capable of modern, tolerant reciprocity, just like most Christians and Jews in the USA.

And lest anyone consider me an essentialist for talking about Islam, let me anticipate myself by pointing out that these rabbis, not me and not Charles Jacobs, are the ones incapable of distinguishing various kinds of Islam, of essentializing Islam.

What’s up with Patrick?

By Charles Jacobs
June 5, 2010

Just days before the Gaza flotilla, Jews were attending to a smaller but more proximate fight: State Treasurer Tim Cahill, who is campaigning as an independent for governor, charged that Deval Patrick’s May 22 visit to the Muslim American Society’s (MAS) Saudi-funded Roxbury mega-mosque was a case of “pandering” – and of not taking the threat of terrorism seriously.

In response, the MAS – which is called by federal prosecutors “the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America” – gathered a few hundred people at the mosque and did what it does best when critics raise concerns about who are the trustees and what do mosque leaders teach Boston Muslims about Jews, gays, women, Christians and America. The mosque leaders ducked the questions and charged their critics with bigotry. The MAS lambasted Cahill.

As if on cue, media stenographers dutifully took down and reported the bigotry charge against Cahill as though it was obviously true. And, again as if on cue, prominently noted and photographed was kippah-wearing Rabbi Eric Gurvis, hugging Bilal Kaleem, who heads MAS.

The real story is what actually happened during the governor’s visit?

Inside the mosque, the MAS asked Patrick to consent to seven “recommendations.” With one reservation (it’s not only Muslims whose bosses need to know about their prayer times), the governor accepted all seven. Most controversial is that the MAS (“overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood,” please recall) handed over a $50,000 check to a member of state Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office to fund a program to train Massachusetts police officers in “sensitivity.”

Who handed over the check? Imam Abdullah Faarooq, who is a graduate of University of Massachusetts and an American convert to Islam. Faarooq is also a supporter of two Boston area radicals, one facing trial for and the other convicted of trying to kill Americans.

Aafia Siddiqui, a former member of Faarooq’s mosque, is now in jail for shooting FBI agents in Pakistan. Tarek Mehana, a young Muslim arrested in Sudbury in October, is alleged to have sought terrorist training in Yemen and plotted to machine gun shopping malls in New England. You can see Patrick embracing Faarooq at the mosque in a seven-minute video made by my group, Americans for Peace and Tolerance.

Also in our film is a sermon Faarooq delivered in a Brighton mosque in March. Faarooq teaches Boston Muslims that they are obliged by their religion to stand up for their co-religionists and urges them to support Siddiqui and Mehana. “If there’s anyone that should be brave, it must be us,” Faarooq said in the sermon. “You must grab onto this rope, grab onto the shovel, grab onto the gun and the sword. Don’t be afraid to step out into this world and do your job.”

Hmmm…. Will Massachusetts police be instructed to be more sensitive to Faarooq’s friends? (Martha, give back the check!)

So what’s with Patrick? A year ago, I gave him the stunning report in the Boston Phoenix, documenting the controversies over the near give-away of the public land to a controversial Muslim board of trustees. And I told him that the Jewish community was concerned. And Patrick lived in Sudan: He must know that the Muslim Brotherhood government there has slaughtered 2 million and enslaved hundreds of thousands of black Christians and animists in a self-declared jihad. He knows – or could easily know – that Faarooq denies that Arabs in Sudan enslaved blacks. And he could easily have been briefed by the heads of the Jewish organizations he works with here – the Jewish Community Relations Council and its parent Combined Jewish Philanthropies, both of which skipped the grand opening of the mosque precisely because of concerns they have about the mosque’s leaders and ideology. (It is, however, unclear if Patrick was ever briefed by Jewish leaders on their concerns.)

Can it be that Governor Patrick, untutored about the facts, is simply naive? Cahill reminded the public that Patrick “attributed the 9/11 bombings to a ‘failure of human understanding in America.’”

Finally, why does Rabbi Gurvis refuse to acknowledge what he has been shown in official documents: that the MAS is a Muslim Brotherhood organization; that the mosque was funded by Wahabbi Saudis, not known to fund moderate mosques; and that the MAS/ISB leaders have invited defamers of Jews and Christians to “educate” the historically moderate Boston Muslim community? Rabbi Gurvis knows all this. Maybe for him it’s “my Muslim friends, right or wrong.” Or maybe the rabbi’s need to demonstrate his moral superiority by caring for the “other” – no matter how radical or extreme – trumps any foreseeable consequences.

While this is not particularly kind to Gurvis, it certainly isn’t a diatribe. It asks some serious questions, and then wonders at why Gurvis – at least so far, in a particularly public participation in events – has yet to answer them, indeed, acts as if he were unaware of them. The two speculations are really one: Is Gurvis part of the “Muslims right or wrong” post-modern chorus.

Stay tuned. Long after the flotilla sinks from view, this will be with us.

Charles Jacobs is president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance.

For more insight into this matter, see the interview with Jacobs by Bill Little of PJTV.

Now let’s get to the response. On June 11, Garvis and some colleagues struck back at Jacobs in the Jewish Advocate.

An Open Letter to the Jewish Community

We write in defense of our colleague, Rabbi Eric Gurvis. Rabbi Gurvis leads Temple Shalom of Newton, is the past president of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis (MBR), Boston Area Reform Rabbis (BARR), and currently serves as the president of the Newton Clergy Association. He is a distinguished teacher and respected community leader.

We were shocked and appalled by the vicious, personal attack written by Mr. Charles Jacobs and printed in the Jewish Advocate.

Vicious, personal attack? Did I miss something?

I find this comment particularly revealing. In turning a substantive criticism – Rabbi Gurvis has seen the evidence and refuses to even acknowledge it, much less process it — into a vicious, personal attack, these rabbis have rallied to their colleagues defense, not as serious discussants, but as hysterics.

Reminds me of the famous scene in Monty Python’s Holy Grail where the annoying peasant cries out “Help! Help! I’m being oppressed!”

But I digress. The real question is, why this violent response to criticism? Presumably, the liberal rabbis who signed this “defense” are all in favor of self-criticism. I haven’t read their writings, but I’m willing to bet my reputation as a student of the 21st century scene that many of them denounce the “Israel right or wrong crowd,” and believe strongly that Israel should “take the criticism” proffered by them and others.

So, presumably, that means they’re ready to take what they dish out, to receive rebuke as well as to administer it. Otherwise it wouldn’t be fair, right? So what’s the problem, and why the hysteria?

We get a clue from the next sentence.

We denounce this attack, and call upon Mr. Jacobs to discontinue his destructive campaign against Boston’s Muslim community, which is based on innuendo, half-truths, and unproven conspiracy theories. We call upon members of our community to reject the dangerous politics of division that Mr. Jacobs fosters.

Okay. So this is about their sense that Jacobs is pursuing a “dangerous politics of division” between the larger community and the Muslim minority in Boston. We’ll return to that fear later, but for now, let’s just pause on the language with which they rebut Jacobs’ claim that Gurvis knows all the details and refuses to accept them.

innuendo, half-truths, and unproven conspiracy theories

So what Jacobs considers a well-documented case that the founders, builders and leaders of the Boston Mega-mosque are radical Islamists, strikes these folks as “innuendo, half-truths, and unproven conspiracy theory.”

Any reader how cares to know more, must visit Americans for Peace and Tolerance and survey their documentation. The problem is substantive and substantial; so much so, that I have to wonder if many of the rabbis who signed have read anything, or they are merely standing up for their colleague.

In any case, to characterize the evidence as “innuendo and half-truths” suggests either a lack of familiarity or an inability to process data that makes one uncomfortable. These rabbis have hardly responded to the criticism offered in any serious manner.

Rabbi Gurvis stood with a number of us at a recent interfaith press conference, denouncing the inappropriate words of a gubernatorial candidate who implied that addressing a large group of Muslims was “pandering to terrorists.”

Whether or not this was a “large group of Muslims” is to be discussed. The implication is, this was representative of the Boston Muslim community and to characterize them as “terrorists” (or even in league with terrorists) is a divisive and harmful thing to say.

Here’s where the evidence comes in again. If the people Patrick met with were both a “large group” and had links to Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Wahhabi groups in Islam, then the conclusion is doubly alarming: the radical Islamists, those folks that Eric Holder and John Brennan don’t even think we should mention, much less analyze, are a “large group.” The idea that just because they seem numerous, we should then treat them as if they’re moderates strikes me as a category error that hopefully one weeds out of the reasoning processes of high schoolers.

Just as we rabbis would expect Christians and Muslims to stand with us Jews if we were unjustly held accountable for the actions of a handful of our people, Rabbi Gurvis stood with our Muslim neighbors. In fact, he pointed out that when Temple Shalom was defaced by a swastika, one of the first calls he received was from Bilal Kaleem from the Muslim American Society.

It’s no proof that Bilal Kaleem is not a demopath that he defends Rabbis who support his (demopathic) campaign. If he’s a real promoter of human rights and the rights of free speech, let him defend Zionists who are assaulted both verbally and physically by Muslims, indeed, by Muslims of his organization. If these rabbis think this is proof of Kaleem’s good faith, they’re like professors who give their students tests a fifth grader could pass and then shout from the rooftops about how good their student’s grades are.

During these difficult times, Rabbi Gurvis, along with other courageous religious leaders are attempting to foster a different kind of politics. We support his commitment to interfaith dialogue and cooperation. We stand together in our commitment to a community in which neighbors seek to know one another and join together for the common good.

This is interesting language. The rabbis speak as if such dialogues are, a priori “good.” Who could argue with such noble desires? Who could oppose such great-hearted goals?

They seem oblivious to the dangers of dialogues conducted by demopaths in search of weak spots in the defense systems of the democratic and tolerant societies they seek to undermine. They have no clue that they may be “the weakest link.”

We write these words following the week in which the Torah portion was Shelach Lecha. It tells the stories of the Israelite scouts who were overcome by fear. As a result, they “spread calumnies” among the entire Israelite camp who in turn broke out into loud cries and weeping. Because they succumbed to their fears, God condemned this generation to die in the wilderness. We refuse to allow Mr. Jacobs to spread his calumnies and paralyze our community in fear.

This is a breathtakingly self-serving and loopy interpretation of this biblical passage. A more appropriate reading would be that these men – Gurvis and his friends – have come back from the camp of the enemy and, rather than declare them too great for us to resist, declare them potential friends with whom, if we are nice enough, we can form a solid alliance. And indeed, behind their placatory urgings lies what I think best explains their hysterical reaction to Jacobs’ criticism.

They have read the material Jacobs makes available. They do know the enemy. And they are afraid of provoking him. Very afraid. Indeed, they illustrate the true meaning of Islamophobia – those so afraid of Islam they’re afraid to criticize it

They are grasshoppers in their own eyes, and they are grasshoppers in the eyes of Islamists who think in terms of 1.5 billion Muslims and 12 million Jews, in terms of an Intifada, a “shrugging or shaking off” of a fly (Israel) by a great beast (Islam). And so all they can do, like the 10 spies who return frightened from the land, is to spread the calumnies against those who are not intimidated. Thus Jacobs’ reasoned and documented criticism becomes…

shock[ing] and appall[ing]… vicious, personal attack… innuendo, half-truths, and unproven conspiracy theories…

If there’s a Joshua in this story, it’s Jacobs. As for the rabbis who signed this letter, they’re the ones who cry and whine about those who would confront a giant enemy. And here they are, in all their glory:

We the undersigned rabbis support Rabbi Eric Gurvis and walk together in faith.

Institutional affiliation for identification purposes only
Rabbi Thomas Alpert
Rabbi Stephen Arnold
Rabbi Lev Baesh (B’nai Or, Newton, MA)
Rabbi Alfred Benjamin (Rabbi, Temple Shalom, Milton, MA)
Rabbi Joseph Berman
Rabbi Allison Berry (Temple Beth David, Canton, MA)
Rabbi Herman Blumberg (Emeritus, Temple Shir Tikva, Wayland, MA)
Rabbi Carey Brown (Temple Isaiah, Lexington, MA)
Rabbi Sharon Clevenger (The Rashi School, Newton, MA)
Rabbi Joe Eiduson (Congregation B’nai Shalom, Westborough, MA)
Rabbi Lisa Eiduson (Temple Beth Avodah, Newton Centre, MA)
Rabbi John Franken (Temple Ohabei Shalom, Brookline)
Rabbi David Freelund (Cape Cod Synagogue, Hyannis, MA)
Rabbi Ronne Friedman (Temple Israel Boston)
Rabbi Neal Gold (Temple Shir Tikva, Wayland, MA)
Rabbi Robert Goldstein (Temple Emanuel Andover, MA)
Rabbi David Gordis
Rabbi Art Green (Hebrew College, Newton, MA)|
Rabbi Neil Hirsch (Temple Shalom, Newton, MA)
Rabbi Sandi Intraub (Chaplain Resident, Hebrew SeniorLife )
Rabbi Howard Jaffe (Temple Isaiah, Lexington, MA)
Rabbi Shira Joseph (Congregation Sha’aray Shalom, Hingham, MA)
Rabbi Dan Judson (Hebrew College, Newton, MA)
Rabbi Randy Kafka (Temple Israel South Shore, North Easton MA)
Rabbi Daniel Klein
Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein
Rabbi David Kline
Rabbi Stephanie Kolin (Temple Israel, Boston, MA)
Rabbi Neil Kominsky (Emeritus, Temple Emanuel, Lowell, MA)
Rabbi Jonathan Kraus (Beth El Temple Center, Belmont, MA)
Rabbi Claudia Kreiman (Temple Beth Zion, Brookline, MA)
Rabbi Judith Kummer
Rabbi Stephen Landau (Congregation Tikvoh Chadoshoh, West Hartford CT)
Rabbi Karen Landy (Hebrew Senior Life, Dedham, MA; Havurat Shalom, Andover, MA)
Rabbi Michele Lenke (Temple Beth Shalom, Needham, MA)
Rabbi Allan Lehmann (Vice President Massachusetts Board of Rabbis)
Rabbi Greg Litcofsky (Temple Shir Tikva, Wayland, MA)
Rabbi Natan Margalit ( Hebrew College, Newton, MA)
Rabbi Todd Markley (Temple Beth Shalom, Needham, MA)
Rabbi Daniel Medwin
Rabbi Bernard Mehlman (Emeritus, Temple Israel, Boston, MA)
Rabbi Rim Meirowitz (Temple Shir Tikvah, Winchester, MA)
Rabbi Joseph Meszler (Temple Sinai, Sharon, MA)
Rabbi Laurence Milder (Congregation B’nai Shalom, Westborough, MA)
Rabbi James Morgan
Rabbi Jeremy Morrison (Temple Israel, Boston, MA)
Rabbi Beth Naditch
Rabbi Michelle Pearlman (Temple Shalom, Newton, MA)
Rabbi Barbara Penzner (Temple Hillel B’nai Torah, West Roxbury, MA)
Rabbi Jay Perlman (Temple Beth Shalom, Needham, MA)
Rabbi Jonah Pesner (Director, URJ Just Congregations, Newton, MA)
Rabbi Ellen Pildis (Jewish Studies Director, The Rashi School, Newton, MA)
Rabbi Elaine Pollack (Newton Lower Falls, MA)
Rabbi Victor Reinstein (Nehar Shalom Community Synagogue, Jamaica Plain, MA)
Rabbi Rachel Saphire (Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley, MA)
Rabbi Talya Weisbard Shalem
Rabbi Lawrence Silverman (Congregation Beth Jacob, Plymouth, MA)
Rabbi Jodi Seewald Smith(Temple Chayai Shalom, Easton MA)
Joel Sisenwine (Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley, MA)
RabbI Toba Spitzer (Congregation Dorshei Tzedek, West Newton, MA)
Rabbi Keith Stern, (Temple Beth Avodah, Newton Centre, MA)
Rabbi David Thomas (Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley, Sudbury, MA
Rabbi Van Lanckton, (Temple B’nai Shalom, Braintree, MA)
Rabbi Andrew Vogel (Temple Sinai, Brookline, MA)
Rabbi Moshe Waldoks (Temple Beth Zion, Brookline, MA)
Rabbi Jeffrey Wildstein (Temple Beth David, Westwood, MA)
Rabbi Julie Wolkoff
Rabbi Sara Zacharia (Hebrew College, Newton, MA)
Rabbi Elaine Zecher (Temple Israel, Boston, MA)
Rabbi Henry Zoob (Emeritus, Temple Beth David, Westwood, MA)

Rabbinic Students
Joel Baron (Rabbinical Student, Hebrew College, Newton, MA)
Rogerio Zingerevitz Cukierman (Rabbinical Student, Hebrew College, Newton, MA)
Margie Klein (Rabbinical Student, Hebrew College, Newton, MA)
Lev Meirowitz Nelson (Rabbinical Student, Hebrew College, Newton, MA)
Suzie Schwartz, (Rabbinical Student, Hebrew College, Newton, MA)
Lila Veissid (Rabbinical Student, Hebrew College, Newton, MA)
Professor Judith Kates (Hebrew College, Newton, MA)

If you know any of these men, write them a polite letter asking how they can dismiss the evidence and rail at a man who has good reason to sound the alarm.

83 Responses to On the nature of Islamophobia: Jacobs vs. the “liberal” Rabbis on the Boston Megamosque

  1. Solomonia says:

    When Rabbis Attack: Standing Up for Charles Jacobs…

    The name Charles Jacobs should be a familiar one to readers of this blog. Charles Jacobs, founder of The David Project, co-founder of the Boston branch of CAMERA and the American Anti-Slavery Group, and now Americans for Peace and Tolerance…….

  2. Markus says:

    The PJTV interviewer is Bill Whittle.

  3. incognito says:


  4. sshender says:

    What’s that you say? Rabbis acting foolishly? It seems that out of all the Jews who should know better, Rabbis have the shortest memory of all.

    O/T – Richard, there is a video online with some dutch anthropologist/activist girl talking about how Gazan are angels and it’s the most beautiful place on earth. (EoZ has it posted on his blog) very much worth a fisking. Dupe par excellence.

  5. John P. says:

    The list of offended rabbis appears to be composed entirely of inveterate leftists.I can’t understand the minds of liberal Jews. Why do they always seem to embrace poorly thought through views and opinions that often serve to weaken and jeopardise the Jewish community?

  6. Ray in Seattle says:

    JP – Because when someone assumes an identity they will use all their brain power to justify it to themselves and others – not to ask if it is justifiable.

  7. sshender says:

    In other news, just an ordinary day in Israel: A young American tourist was assaulted for no apparent reason while taking pictures with his wife on the Jaffa promenade by… well, take a pick… “minority” citizens from Lod. This is the second time that Arabs run amok on non-suspecting people strolling by the seaside. The first ended up fatally.

    And Israeli firefighters are being kept busy these last few weeks by tending to fires, in most cases started by deliberate arsonists from…. you guessed it… those oppressed “minority citizens”.

    Can you imagine what would be the fate of the Jews, even in Europe, if their youth behaved even half as violent, pushy and reckless as the Arab youth Israel does?

  8. Shoshana says:

    If you know any of these men, write them a polite letter asking how they can dismiss the evidence and rail at a man who has good reason to sound the alarm.

    A good number of these “men” are women.

  9. incognito says:

    It seems that out of all the Jews who should know better, Rabbis have the shortest memory of all.

    For american rabbis it’s understandable.

    some dutch anthropologist/activist girl talking about how Gazan are angels and it’s the most beautiful place on earth

    She should go live there and marry a Hamas man.

    The list of offended rabbis appears to be composed entirely of inveterate leftists.I can’t understand the minds of liberal Jews. Why do they always seem to embrace poorly thought through views and opinions that often serve to weaken and jeopardise the Jewish community?

    Think about the kind of education american rabbis get.

    Because when someone assumes an identity they will use all their brain power to justify it to themselves and others – not to ask if it is justifiable.

    Question: WHY and HOW do they assume a specific identity?

    Can you imagine what would be the fate of the Jews, even in Europe, if their youth behaved even half as violent, pushy and reckless as the Arab youth Israel does?

    Yes. And I can also imagine where Israel is going if they are going to tolerate these youths behavior for long. I always thought that the 5th column is the most dangerous.

    If you know any of these men, write them a polite letter asking how they can dismiss the evidence and rail at a man who has good reason to sound the alarm.

    If such a letter could be effective it could only mean that they would not have reacted the way they did in the 1st place.

  10. Ray in Seattle says:

    WHY and HOW do they assume a specific identity?

    OK, here’s a mind dump. Hope it’s not too long nor too rambling.

    No one sits down at an early age, rationally thinks through the options, perhaps numerically rating them according to some scale – and says, “I want to be a rabbi, or a policeman or a scientist”, or anything else.

    Instead, sometime while maturing from adolescent to young adult they will feel emotionally drawn to some recognizable identity usually exemplified by some person(s) they know or admire. We are programmed by evolution to do this. For boys, emulating a father figure is natural. So it could be parental influence, a particularly memorable teacher or in some cases a fearless gang leader. Boys are also attracted to male values such as conflict, bravery, strength, etc. It’s usually a combination of emotional factors acting throughout childhood in that kid’s environment. And as kids try on various identities they get feedback from friends, family, etc. that makes them feel good or bad depending.

    But once a kid starts to develop a particular identity they can spend enormous personal energy becoming that person. Again evolution gives us that capacity when we’re young. Kids can spend thousands of hours learning to play a guitar or video games or football or math or whatever that identity requires for them to get the feedback from peers.

    Once a person internalizes an identity they acquire experience as time goes by dealing with life and its problems through that identity. There are many dimensions to identity, not just occupation. How one treats others, social values – conservative, liberal, religious values, etc. These all are driven by emotion so that we feel good when we conform to our identity and get good feedback feel bad when we don’t or can’t. It becomes a familiar way of facing life that offers security because it’s successful in one’s social environment and accepted by others.

    We therefore become very protective of our identity. The older we get the more we find security in it. We can become hateful and violent toward anyone who threatens our identity – in some cases even just by having an identity that is not shared in a prominent way.

    I don’t know any rabbis but I suspect that their identity usually includes a mentoring self image – a need for more approval and respect from their social peers than most, a need to be seen by others as worldly wise.

    I now suspect that the many “lefties” who hate Israel and the US today are the result of a revulsion of the kind of identities that started, promoted and approved of the Viet Nam War back in the sixties. Those who were 18 to 20 somethings then (like me) went through some extremely emotional experiences over several years as we were establishing our identities dealing with the draft, the riots, Kent State, etc. We’ve have had 50 years now to influence a widespread rejection of that identity in their descendants – and the establishment of an opposite identity complex. Many of these “descendants of hippies” now see any strong military opposed to any indigenous people – as oppressors and wanton killers of defenseless women and children.

    This has become the dominant social identity value of those post-Viet Nam generations. It’s driven by very strong emotions that are totally impervious to reason (as are all strong emotions which are usually identity emotions) in the minds of millions of the descendants of my generation. It’s how they see and (emotionally) judge the world. It’s not lack of intelligence or the wrong kind or quality education. It’s the strength of their identity emotions that they got from my generation.

    The lesson is that no large democracy can afford to fight a war – especially against insurgencies – unless the reasons are clear and the great majority of the people approve and support the effort – especially if it will be a protracted war – and especially if there’s anything less than an all-out full effort to win as quickly as possible. If a Western democracy that embodies identity values that include compassion, cooperation and peaceful relations with others makes that mistake – the following several generations may prevent the nation from defending itself from real threats. That’s why civilization is cyclic and that’s why great societies come and go.

    That’s why Israel is now in serious existential trouble and is why the US is becoming a second rate power – things you have frequently pointed out.

  11. incognito says:

    No one sits down at an early age, rationally thinks through the options, perhaps numerically rating them according to some scale – and says, “I want to be a rabbi, or a policeman or a scientist”, or anything else.

    But WHY and HOW don’t they? Do you think there is ANY way to induce them to do it?

  12. Ray in Seattle says:

    I’m no sure what your 1st question asks. As far as inducing, if you mean to be a rabbi, or a policeman or a scientist”, or anything else – I think you can induce someone to pursue a vocation – but that doesn’t necessarily mean they choose it as a part of their identity. You can do science without being a scientist in terms of identity.

    Many people enter professions because their parents wished it – and end up unhappy and unfulfilled if it doesn’t become part of their identity. In that case it’s just a job that they do. They could even despise it.

    Identity means that you are fulfilled and feel good being that kind of person and having others recognize you as that kind of person. It’s an emotional connection that people don’t think about very much if at all. And it has many more dimensions than how you make your living. But in an affluent democracy where there is great freedom to pursue whatever occupation you are qualified for – occupation is often a key part of one’s identity. If you meet a scientist in the US or Canada you assume that person loves science and wanted to be a scientist. Same with a musician or a veterinarian, etc.

    In collectivist societies where the state decides your occupation people are very likely not to consider their job as part of their identity and will focus their personal energy on other dimensions of identity like sports, the arts or maybe becoming a black market trader. It’s probably one reason why socialism is such a disaster economically.

  13. sshender says:

    Ray, thanks for laying this out so clearly. I belive your first deserves to be published as an essay – because you so clearly identify a problem which few right minded people delve into instead of the knee jerk “antisemitism” accusation. It is my position that the reason why Israel’s or America’s message and
    reason d’etre are not positively received is the combination of an indoctrination into a very lethal counter-Western narrative coupled with psychological and moral hyper-sensitivity as a result being protected from the “real world” and its violence.

    Your analysis is too often overlooked or people are just too lazy to do a serious psychological analysis of this phenomena, and prefer instead to look for some ulterior driving forces, such as greed, realpolitik, religious dogma or many others.

    I honestly think you’ve hit the jackpot here, and it’s true for tooooooooooo many people who otherwise would not take sides, but are thus preconditioned to side with the week “oppressed” one. Needless to say that the number one culprit in this is the MSNM who thrive on gore and sensationalism and have abandoned any context and content and skew the perception to the extreme.

  14. Ray in Seattle says:

    sshender, Thanks for your comments. Remember that the MSNM is also largely populated by the same people I described – the college educated hippie generation and their offspring, my generation. They hold the board positions now in the MSNM and oversee corporate directions. Our children and grandchildren actually produce the product for them.

    This is the problem I have with the cog war concept. While the effect is certainly that a cog war is being waged – most Westerners who are pro-Pal anti-Israel would honestly deny that they participate in any such war. For them it’s just what the world looks like because of the identity they carry. In most cases, vis-a-vis Palestinians, what they feel deeply and emotionally is that Israel could not possibly be in the right. So they cognitively interpret events to satisfy that emotional reality. They’re not dumb. Such contortions and double standards take some clever minds to so thoroughly fool themselves for so long and against such clear evidence.

    Fortunately, given enough time and emotionally relevant evidence that can change. There is perverse hope in that the Pals and their ME supporters themselves can not help but provide a never-ending stream of highly emotional evidence – such as the recent flotilla videos. I think I sense a small but significant swing toward Israel in the West in the last few days as the new videos come out and some sensible op-eds are written – many condemning Turkey and speculating on whether they should continue as a member of NATO. I think much of that is due to Netanyahu’s firm (for Israel) defense of his actions and refusal to call off the blockade. We’ll see.

  15. incognito says:


    #12, I was referring to inducing them to “think rationally thru options” and I did not mean just to choose a vocation, but ingeneral.

  16. incognito says:


    Saying that identity drives you does not contribute much — it’s rather trivial.

    A more pragmatic perspective is how and why people end up with identities they do, particularly when those identities are emotionally/nonrationally or even irrationally based.

    The question is there anything that can be done IN CHILDHOOD/YOUTH to produce identities that are less emotional/nonrational?

    I claim that it is possible, Ray seem to be indifferent to that in the sense that he is so vested in his “theory” of emotional identity driving behavior, that he does not believe this can be even attenuated, let alone eliminated.

    Note very carefully that when the west was still civilized (had a decent education) there used to be more rationally driven men. When education collapsed, the amount of identity-driven people exploded.

    Note also that I do not claim that proper education can eliminate the emotionally based identities. But what it certainly can do is (1) increase considerably rational people (2) reduce the nonrational behavior of even those driven by identities.

    That won’t happen. Instead you will be watching the world descend into emotionally driven behavior and ultimately to the 7th century.

  17. Ray in Seattle says:

    incog, Thanks for your reply above (#16) where you really explain your position very well. I’d say we each hold a different paradigm for how brains produce behavior. Crossing paradigms like this for discussion and sorting out views is very difficult. I don’t believe you or anyone is “wrong” for seeing the world through your paradigmatic prism. Yours is the dominant view by far. It is the view that cognition drives behavior and that bad or wrong behavior is the result of faulty cognition.

    I find this view less than effective for explaining many things like the anti-Israel position taken by many in the West. I find that identity emotions as the driver of behavior as a paradigm does a better job. I could be wrong but I think it’s a possibility worth exploring – especially if it offers any promising paths to solutions that the other paradigm does not.

    I believe the homo-sapien brain evolved just as it did in all higher animals – as a support system for maximizing emotional satisfaction as the result of behavior decisions. No animal including humans can get away from that.

    My view does embrace the importance of rational cognition in decision-making. For that to happen though I require that a person’s identity must first develop around that as a strong value. These rare humans must have an identity that seeks to view the world objectively and rationally in the face of much irrational opposition. And so they must somehow develop an ability to derive deep emotional satisfaction from being that kind of person – of having that identity.

    One way we maximize emotional satisfaction is by using our brain to enhance our survival, like to invent a bow and arrow. Another way is to make us feel good when using that bow and arrow to kill another human who we may sense as a threat to our identity – who humiliates us, for example. It always feels good to defend our identity. But innovation will always be ridiculed at first. Before there was a bow and arrow – the culture said that throwing spears was the “right way” and humiliated anyone who proposed a different way.

    The existing order always embraces defense of its cultural identity – its way of seeing the world and it provides emotionally rewarding feedback for that and even money rewards – as it does for the families of Pal suicide bombers, for example.

    Identity determines behavior by how and where it programs our brains to find the greatest emotional satisfaction. Sometimes it rewards innovation but the most consistent rewards go to those who support and follow the crowd down whatever irrational path they take.

  18. Ray in Seattle says:

    Incog, Great article by Spengler. Needless to say, I see complete support for my premise in his words – as I’m sure you see for yours. Nothing’s more fascinating than human brains contemplating their own operation. Cheers.

  19. incognito says:

    It is the view that cognition drives behavior and that bad or wrong behavior is the result of faulty cognition.

    No, it is not.

    Cognitive/rational and emotional/non-rational drivers both exist and will always complement each other. The issue is that the former must be developed to be effective in balancing the latter, which is more instinctive.

    To the extent that no such development is made there is certainty that the latter will exclusively drive behavior. If such development is undertaken — and I again alert you that it looks nothing like current education — then there will be at least some balance between rationality and emotion.

    You, on the other hand, believe that no matter what is done, emotions will always drive behavior and no attenuation of this is possible. I consider this wrong and not supported by evidence. It is only because the kind of development lacks today that it may appear that way to you, because you see only ITS consequences.

    Now, IF such development were systematically applied and proven ineffective then yes, I would have to accept your position. But that is not going to happen, and as long as that is the case we will witness increasing descent into pre-civilized circumstances, confirming your theory.

  20. incognito says:

    BTW, for a cognitive identity to develop one must from very early childhood undergo the development I refer to, otherwise it will miss it to develop around. What it will also happen is that this identity will largely be advantageous, so it will be reinforced by experience.

    What is more, the cognitive identity is a collective good, which means that the vast majority of the population must acquire it. That’s why there is no individual solution to this problem (I refer you to collective choice theory, prisoner’s dilemma, the common greens, the free rider, etc.)

  21. incognito says:

    Anti-Semitism Is Salonfähig Again
    The Gaza flotilla was a perfect piece of Islamist theater, revealing an old European hatred

    If read intelligently it provides evidence for my argument.

  22. Ray in Seattle says:

    Don’t have much time today but here’s a link to the video of a recent talk by Michael Shermer about belief and self-deception. The 2002 edition of his book, “Why People Believe Weird Things” is the book that first really got me thinking about belief and how the brain works.


  23. incognito says:

    I am familiar with both Shermer and this video.

    But you see, Shermer is an excellent example which defies your theory: he lacked a decent education, was religious, then educated himself and, without even what I call a proper education, he became a critical thinker and an atheist.

    Please note that his lecture does confirm my argument that beliefs/emotions are instinctual (hardwired in the brain) and that we need to work hard to overcome them.
    But overcome them we can via proper training.

  24. Ray in Seattle says:

    Yes, that’s how paradigms work. Whatever you see will seem to fit it. It’s the window you look through at the universe and so it becomes the frame for whatever gets through it.

  25. incognito says:

    Yes, that’s how paradigms work. Whatever you see will seem to fit it.

    Don’t confuse theories with paradigms.

    Aren’t the facts about Shermer factually true and, if they are, aren’t you the one fitting reality to your dogma?

  26. incognito says:

    I hope Debka is wrong about this:

    Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani and foreign affairs and security committee chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi are preparing an epic descent on the Gaza Strip next Saturday, June 19 and a tour of the Israeli border debkafile’s Iranian sources reveal. Tehran has applied to Cairo for visas for 200 Iranian lawmakers, leaning hard on Cairo for its assent – up to and including President Hosni Mubarak.
    Monday, June 14, Iran submitted a formal request for Egypt’s permission to land an Iranian passenger plane at Cairo International Airport or at El Arish in northern Sinai, carrying this large parliamentary delegation and a consignment of food and medicines for Gaza
    debkafile’s intelligence sources note that if Cairo allows the delegation to enter Gaza, it would be the first time a high-ranking Revolutionary Iranian delegation was ever permitted to tour the Gazan-Israeli border under the eyes of IDF border positions. Larijani is planning to stand up at some point on the border fence, flanked by the enclave’s Hamas rulers, and deliver a message of hate for Israel and support for the Palestinian Hamas extremists.
    Tehran has another ulterior motive for grandstanding in this style. One is to steal the international limelight Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan attracted by his blockade-breaking flotilla of May 31 – and go one better. The scenario Larijani has scripted will take his flock of Iranian lawmakers right into the Gaza Strip and show themselves on the Israeli border as a provocative challenge for the Israeli patrols on the other side.
    Meanwhile, the first Iranian aid ship for Gaza set sail from Khomanshahr Monday, with a second due to leave port Saturday.
    To build up the pressure on Cairo to allow his visit, Larijani Monday instructed four Majlis members to set out for Egypt without delay to try and reach the Gaza Strip and prepare the delegation’s grand tour – that is if they receive visas and permission from Cairo.

  27. incognito says:

    More evidence that “identities” can be dropped via another mechanism: shock.

    Martin Kramer: The rabbi who asked Helen Thomas the question describes himself as a “New York Democrat Jewish liberal supporter of Obama.” He’s been shocked not only by 25k antisemitic hate emails, but by TV, newspapers, and blogs portraying him as “some right-wing ambusher.” His conclusion: “I have to really reevaluate liberal and c…onservative… because I think I’ve been a little blind.” The rabbi was ambushed—by reality.

  28. Ray in Seattle says:

    “Aren’t the facts about Shermer factually true and, if they are, aren’t you the one fitting reality to your dogma?”

    I think your dogma got run over by your karma. ;-)

    Sometimes it’s good to step back for a minute on this stuff. Theories and paradigms are neither true nor false. They are cognitive constructs of human minds that attempt to model reality in ways that are useful for prediction. Prediction is what brains do to help us survive. When we make a behavior choice our brain is predicting – making a bet with our survival and well-being at stake – that the chosen behavior will result in a net benefit to us greater than any other behavior choice we have available. So we do his continuously in life – some better than others.

    Theories and paradigms are models of reality that we construct to help us make better choices for certain kinds of problems. One might work better or worse than another for different kinds of problems.

    For that reason I have no interest in “proving” my model is “true” or that some other model is “false”. Claims of “truth” for these things are more appropriately leveled from a pulpit than in an online discussion like this. I’m willing to discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of one model over others but only in the sense of their utility for prediction and problem solving – and only with others who have a similar interest and open mind.

  29. Ray in Seattle says:

    incog, your #20 seems like a good attempt. But it shows you don’t really understand what I’m saying. I agree with your extended description of your theory. To keep things simple I did not get into emotion in my previous post. Also that’s a hot button with some here. But yes, I should have more accurately said that your model sees good cognition (rationality) as the ideal driver of behavior – but it’s often subverted by emotions and non-rational considerations in the minds of those who have not been properly “trained” to be rational thinkers. That’s a more complete version of the standard western college-educated model of behavior.

    I am proposing that emotion and reason are not in opposition but that they serve different purposes in the human brain. In my model we are not aware of what I call emotion except by its effects. Some emotions are instinctive, some are learned. They are simply the forces that drive behavior. When any animal expresses a behavior – their brain has measured several emotional forces – often conflicting – from various sources in their brain in response to some situation – and those emotion signals are processed to produce a behavior as a response to that situation. All higher animals’ brains operate this way.

    We can be cognitively aware of feelings that we have which are the physiological effects of stronger emotions but we are not aware of our emotions in this sense. According to my theory the most reliable indicator of our emotions is our behavior – which is the direct result of those emotion signals.

    Some people more than others develop an ability to use reason for choosing their behavior. It becomes part of their identity. Others don’t develop that ability so much and can go through life responding more often to non-rational impulses (instinctive and other emotion signals) that don’t require as much effort. More typically some become good at using logic and reason in some areas of their life but not in others.

    This is not how you use the term emotion. I think your use is similar to how I define feelings. Mine is a psychological force that brains use to drive behavior. If you see emotion simply as feelings then what I’m saying won’t make sense.

    Reason is a neural layer that evolution added to the brains of humans (and a few others in small amounts) to give us a way to predict the results of our behavior choices other than by instinct and learned associations. It allows us to make models of reality and logically ask what will happen if we do X – before we actually do it. If we are rational people we develop the skill to use it and also the confidence to apply it in certain situations – an emotional force that we attached to our logical results. That allows those results to compete with instinct signals, for example, to drive our behavior. It’s a powerful tool when used skillfully. Education is very important for developing that skill.

    But you have to want to be a rational person before you can develop those skills to any extent – you have to make it part of your identity. It’s like playing the guitar. You can’t make your fingers go through the motions and expect to become good at it. You have to first want very much to be a good guitarist. That gives the motivation (emotional drive) to do the incredible amount of work to fulfill that identity – to become that kind of person. I admire both good musicians and people who consistently behave rationally in difficult (high emotion) situations. I wish I was better at both of those than I am.

    I believe that people develop rational (or musical) skills by seeing such qualities admired (emotionally rewarded) by their society and especially by their family and peers. This works best from 12 to 20 or so when evolution has programmed us to establish the important dimensions of our identities. Education can help someone learn how to make rational decisions. But they first have to want to be a rational person. Once they have the emotional drive for that you will be hard pressed to stop them – no matter how much education you do or don’t provide. This makes more sense to me than simply saying that you can “train” someone to be rational.

    Sorry about the length again but it’s difficult to explain this. I don’t know how to make it shorter. I also realize these ideas are highly irritating to some. People generally do not like being exposed to ideas that smell of paradigm shift. So I’m happy to drop it at any time and will do so voluntarily if no-one responds.

  30. incognito says:

    I don’t think you know the difference between paradigms, theories and models. In which case you should not be so cavalier with throwing them around.

  31. incognito says:

    Iranian MP Mahmoud Ahmadi-Biqash said on Sunday that the Egyptian government has agreed to issue visas to 70 Iranian parliamentarians who have registered to travel to the Gaza Strip.

  32. Eliyahu says:

    It seems to me that many or most of the rabbis listed above –of both the male and female persuasions– belong to the Reform denomination. The JTA is now carrying an article calling on Eric Yoffe, a leader of that denomination, to denounce antisemitism.

  33. Ray in Seattle says:

    At least I do know the difference between civility and being an a**.

  34. incognito says:

    Then I suggest you stick to that.

  35. incognito says:

    It seems to me that many or most of the rabbis listed above –of both the male and female persuasions– belong to the Reform denomination.

    Why ain’t I surprised? Jewishness for them is a social club.

  36. Ray in Seattle says:

    Stick to ” . . knowing the difference between civility and being an a**” ?

    Yes, good advice. I too often assume the former when it’s actually the latter. Wishful thinking I suppose. Wanting to believe what feels good rather than what is.

  37. Daniel Bielak says:

    incognito says: Chicken.
    Ray says: Egg.

    Please, no hard feelings guys. We’re here together.

  38. incognito says:

    Anthropology Professor: Look at US Actions, Not Words

    I agree with the advice he gives, but can you locate the flaw in his argument?

  39. sshender says:

    Now it’s been established beyond reasonable doubt that incognito is the newest reincarnation of oao – only with capital letters.

    Ray, I suggest you stop feeding the troll, as it looks like he’s incapable of having a civilized debate for more than 5 minutes before getting vulgar – REGARDLESS OF WHETHER HE’S RIGHT OR WRONG. There are civilized ways to settle differences (let alone delicate as these) without stooping so low.

  40. incognito says:

    Another good one by Steyn:

    Steyn on the World

  41. Daniel Bielak says:

    I appreciate both Ray’s and incognito’s contributions here (on this blog).

    I understand where incognito is coming from, and I do not, though, at first, did – when I felt it directed towards me – take offense to what is, at times, incognito’s rudeness.

    sshender, on this recent exchange Ray was the first to use a vulgar term. I’m not blaming Ray, I’m just pointing out something that I think that you may not have realized.

    It is beneficial to be mindful of our thoughts and communication and actions – including the effects of our thoughts and communication and actions – and to try to avoid causing harm to ourselves and others.

  42. Ray in Seattle says:

    A recent article in Scientific American


    points out . .

    “. That chasm over there? Impossible to jump across. How about that growling bear? It’s impossible to physically subdue. There would have been goals that were impossible or, at least, very difficult or unlikely for an individual to achieve, and having the perceptual system guide us in the right direction (e.g. by making the chasm look wider than it actually is, and the bear perhaps a bit larger and meaner) would have been extremely important. ”

    i.e. By responding to Israeli overtures and reluctance to harm civilians with violent intransigence and unyielding demands for all of Palestine . . Palestinians have convinced many in the West that since they will never give up one inch of their goal to destroy Israel then we might as well let them . . sensing subconsciously that letting them have Israel would be much easier and far less bother in the long run.

    This is yet one more reason – based on human nature – why you can’t try to reason or treat compassionately those who have decided that you are their enemy. First it doesn’t work and second, it makes the goal appear that much easier to them, and so they are led by the same human nature to see their goal as that much more reachable.

    I’ll say it again. Once you have decided that you must defend yourself from truly violent aggression of an enemy then you must destroy the aggressor doing whatever it takes as quickly as possible. You must have one goal; to make it physically impossible for them to ever attack you again.

    In Israel’s case there would be great outrage by the world if the IDF was tasked to do what was necessary to reach that end. I’d suggest the world will get over it rather quickly and would breath a sigh of relief to have the problem finally eliminated – even though there would be much dramatic hand-wringing by the usual hypocrites.

    The longer Israel puts off the decision that it will eventually be forced to make, the more death and destruction will be necessary – and most of that death and destruction will probably be Arab.

  43. Daniel Bielak says:

    It is beneficial to be mindful of one’s own thoughts and communication and actions – including the effects of one’s own thoughts and communication and actions – and to try to avoid causing harm to oneself and others.

  44. Ray in Seattle says:

    Daniel, Is it also beneficial to be mindful of an enemy’s thoughts and actions. If they present a violent threat to your existence than you will probably have to cause harm to them to prevent them from reaching their goal.

    You can pretend that being nice to them will change their mind. I just illustrated in this very thread the folly of such wishful thinking on a rather trivial scale. Israel’s precarious position in the world after 60 years of such folly is a more relevant example.

    Or, you can defend yourself using whatever level of violence is necessary. Israel is a free democracy and will freely make that choice and will bear the consequences. That’s just the way it is.

  45. Daniel Bielak says:

    Ray wrote,

    “…This is yet one more reason – based on human nature – why you can’t try to reason or treat compassionately those who have decided that you are their enemy…”

    Discern how to defeat those deranged violent people non-violently, and defeat them non-violently. It is difficult but possible. It is the most difficult way – but it is the only way to actually defeat enemies. For people who are in the situation that Jewish Israelis are in – for those who have the huge matrix of enemies, and the large degree of intensity and huge and widespread scope of animosity directed towards themselves, that Jewish Israelis have – it is especially the most difficult – and it is the only – way to defeat enemies and to protect oneself from harm.

    “Once you have decided that you must defend yourself from truly violent aggression of an enemy then you must destroy the aggressor doing whatever it takes as quickly as possible”

    non-violently – through skillful communication and skillful non-violent actions.

    The world runs on consensus. Consensus is attained by communication.

  46. Daniel Bielak says:

    Israel has allowed itself to be in the horrible situation that it currently is in by the lack of skillful communication by Israeli leaders and advocates of Israel.

    Israel can get out of the horrible situation that it is in by skillful communication by Israeli leaders and advocates of Israel.

  47. Daniel Bielak says:

    Skillful communication to the world – to the whole world as a whole – to individual leaders of national states (American, European, Arab, and others) – to groups of individual leaders of national states (American, European, Arab, and others)

  48. Ray in Seattle says:

    Daniel, I realize that this view is part of your identity. There is nothing I could do or say, there are no examples I could point out, there is no reasonable argument I could offer that would cause you to see my view on this – as being closer to reality than yours.

    I’m not saying you’re a bad guy. I’m sure you’re a nice guy. But there’s little point in carrying this argument further between us. Let’s agree to disagree.

  49. Daniel Bielak says:

    Honest, accurate, comprehensive, firm, clear communication.

  50. Daniel Bielak says:

    Ray, okay, for now, let’s agree to disagree.

  51. incognito says:

    The Nation-State Is Making a Comeback
    By David Pryce-Jones

    Gee, what a surprise (not).

    Unfortunately, it’s too late. Those states are dying, quite islamized and collapsed. The EU parasitic bureaucratic layer on top only accelerates their bankruptcy. All this makes it much easier for islamists to take over.

    Now it should be clear why they all gang up in Israel: that’s about the only thing that unifies them and distracts the plebos from their own reality.

  52. Ray in Seattle says:

    Daniel, I’ve been thinking about what you said yesterday. I’d like to add this thought.

    A reluctance to offend someone, or an apology for having done so, is far more meaningful when it comes from someone who has demonstrated that they are willing to offend those who deserves it. Otherwise it will be interpreted as cowardice, not virtue. And justifiably.

  53. […] growth accusing Israel of genocide, or the entrepreneur behind the Ground Zero Mega-Mosque, or the Boston Mega-Mosque, insisting that it’s to honor freedom of religion, must be recognized for what it […]

  54. Eliyahu says:

    There is a very big problem with the rabbis who attacked Charles Jacobs. They are ignorant. Ill-informed people ought to be modest enough not to express an opinion about things that they know nothing about. One can have all sorts of wonderful intentions. One can wish to be supremely and superbly moral. But moral positions on concrete matters have to be based on truth and facts. Not on wishful thinking, prejudices and so on. Morality cannot be based on lies. These rabbis were obliged to base their opinions on facts and knowledge, not on what they wanted to believe. Did they investigate what Jacobs said about the Muslim association in Boston and about the Muslim Brotherhood?? If they had any becoming humility they would have examined Jacobs’ claims before attacking him.

  55. incognito says:

    They are ignorant. Ill-informed people ought to be modest enough not to express an opinion about things that they know nothing about.

    That was my point, but expressing opinions without knowledge has been part of the american culture for quite a while and has become an acute problem in the last decade.

    I called in an article I wrote and linked to here: “the freedom from the tyranny of knowledge and reason”. The idea is that americans confuse the concept of freedom of expression with freedom from the rigours of the effort and capacity of knowing what they’re talking about.

    But moral positions on concrete matters have to be based on truth and facts.

    Exactly what education should instill in them but doesn’t anymore.

    Morality cannot be based on lies.

    But it is exactly what will happen if you don’t have the desire and capacity to distinguish lies from truth.

    These rabbis were obliged to base their opinions on facts and knowledge, not on what they wanted to believe.

    They are believers so chances are they’ll believe anything. Had there been any consequence to wrong beliefs, some might have changed. But there isn’t.

    If they had any becoming humility they would have examined Jacobs’ claims before attacking him.

    Aw, c’mon. You don’t beleve that people become clergy due to humility, do you? In America?

  56. Ray in Seattle says:

    I would simply ask how many here believe that Al Gore said that he invented the internet – or was the leading character in Love Story.

    Then tell me how much you pursue the non-varnished objective truth.

  57. incognito says:

    I would simply ask how many here believe that Al Gore said that he invented the internet – or was the leading character in Love Story. Then tell me how much you pursue the non-varnished objective truth.

    Oh, this is really an incoherent, stupid comment. What is the connection between the first and the 2nd statement?

  58. incognito says:

    More rabbis:

    Ascherman identified the LAW organization, the PLO legal advocacy lobby. Yet a call to LAW revealed that LAW does not deal with the question of uprooting of trees. The LAW spokesman, Arjan El Fassed explained, that while LAW is not a humanitarian organization per se. He mentioned that monies that they receive from the Rabbis for Human Rights go to the families of the “martyrs” who have been killed over the past ten months. Asked to define what he means by “martyrs”, El Fassed described the various attacks in which Palestinians have died in attacks on Israelis. In other words, the Rabbis for Human Rights have been providing funds for the families of Suicide Bombers.


  59. Ray in Seattle says:

    People tend to express their opinions about that which they have strong feelings. Having sufficient knowledge on the topic has little to do with it. If they sense it will affect their well-being they’ll be interested. Human nature.

    In a democracy all the people get to have an opinion – the dumb and the smart, the ignorant and the informed. Some say it’s a weakness of our system. I’m not sure but I have yet to see a better one proposed. Any other approach will put some person in the position of deciding whether your opinion is well enough informed to be considered. Are you ready to submit to that?

  60. Daniel Bielak says:


    With you last previous comment to me I don’t know whether you were saying that you appreciate what you may have been referring to as a high level of integrity which you were saying that I have, or whether you were telling me that I am a coward.

    What you would be saying in either of, and both of, those cases are correct in, in each of those cases, a way.

    I know and sense my own weakness – my own vulnerability to being hurt by doing wrong actions (including wrongly offending).

    If I was not as flawed as I am, and if I could therefore discern that which by saying would be something offensive to someone but would be beneficial, I would then say that offensive but beneficial thing.

    I am very flawed, but I have a high ability of discernment and understanding – in my heart I often seeth with rage, and am easily offended, and feel like lashing out when I am offended, but I fear causing harm – I fear causing harm to myself and to others – but ultimately to myself – I fear suffering – and I feel empathy and shame.

    Courage and cowardice are two sides of a counterfeit coin.

    What is beneficial to discern is right action and wrong action. Right action is that which it is beneficial to do, and wrong action is that which it is beneficial to avoid doing.

  61. Ray in Seattle says:

    Daniel, I appreciate your concern about these things. You say that,

    What is beneficial to discern is right action and wrong action. Right action is that which it is beneficial to do, and wrong action is that which it is beneficial to avoid doing.

    In his context beneficial action is action that discourages aggression and therefore minimizes the death and suffering that results from such aggression. That means confronting aggression (which means offending aggressors) early and harshly before the aggressors decide they will not be opposed or will only be opposed ineffectively.

    Failure to do so is not only cowardly IMO but usually results in far more death and destruction that if the aggression is dealt with forcefully at the first signs of intention. That includes threats of aggression IMO.

    Aggression is a very serious matter. Those who threaten aggression (like by saying Israel should be wiped out, annihilated, etc.) should be attacked to destroy their military and industrial infrastructure before they can carry it out. I see no reason to wait for them to amass weapons and give them the advantage of surprise. My concern is that non-aggressive people should never suffer from the acts of aggressors. As a matter of responsibility for the non-aggressive people in the world, aggressors should always suffer for their crimes and for their intentions.

    Regarding cowardice. I have no interest in judging you on that count. I am interested in discussing these matters with you because you seem to be a compassionate, caring person. My point is that aggressors are people who deserve to be offended. The reason is as I stated above – to protect the non-aggressive law-abiding people of the world from that aggression. The failure to offend them when necessary will be interpreted by them as cowardice and since they are essentially cowards themselves – seeing that they will suffer no serious consequences, will encourage their aggression.

    Re: the Israel/Palestine conflict I believe that much of the aggression against Israel is the result of Israel not sufficiently “offending” the Arabs who attack Israel – like by killing them and imprisoning the POW’s until their political sponsors sue for peace and pay sufficient restitution, including the costs of maintaining the POW camps. Also, Israel is far too reluctant to offend the West and the US. That gives the West to ability to trade Israel’s security against access to Arab oil, which the West has cravenly pursued.

    I think the failure to sufficiently “offend” aggressors, early and harshly, no matter the cost, usually results in the greater suffering of innocent people. It has also resulted in Israel’s dangerous and precarious position in the world.

    That bothers me. Does it bother you? If it does then you need to consider that an “action” that avoids offending someone who deserves to be offended – is not a beneficial action. It is a very dangerous and deadly action that, based on recurring history through the millenia, frequently gets millions of innocent people killed. I’m against that.

  62. Daniel Bielak says:


    I wrote,

    “With you last previous comment to me I don’t know whether you were saying that you appreciate what you may have been referring to as a high level of integrity which you were saying that I have, or whether you were telling me that I am a coward.”

    I now realize that what may also be the case is that you may not have even been referring to me with what you wrote.

    I shouldn’t have written that last comment I wrote – I shouldn’t have written anything now.

    I am very flawed – and I often do actions which I know, even know before I do them, will be harmful – but, because of detrimental qualities (craving (root, existential, craving); and severe mental affliction, which involves root, existential craving (severe OCD) in my temperament – I do those harmful action anyway. I do, though, try very hard to avoid directly harmfully offending people, and when I have harmfully offended a person or people I try very hard to correct the harmful action that I did of harmfully offending that person or those people.

  63. Daniel Bielak says:


    I wrote my last previous comment before I saw your last previous message to me.

    I’ll read, and try to reply to your comment, later, when I am in a more wholesome state.

  64. Ray in Seattle says:

    Take your time. You have never said anything that offended me and I doubt you ever will. Honest statements of belief do not offend me. Insults offend me but only because it distracts from the discussion. It’s not your style to insult people anyway so don’t worry. I’m signing off for the day.

  65. Eliyahu says:

    Many, most or all of the rabbis attacking Charles Jacobs are of the Reform persuasion. Hence, I recommend that they read what Ellis Rivkin, a professor of history at the Hebrew Union College, of the Jewish Reform movement, had to say about Islam. Rivkin clearly recognized that Islam oppressed non-Muslims, including Jews. He understood the dhimmi institution.

  66. incognito says:

    Hey, if they are funding pensions for pal martyrs, what else needs to be said?

  67. […] Augean Stables » O&#1495 t&#1211&#1077 nature &#959f Islamophobia: Jacobs vs. t&#1211&#1077 &#… […]

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  69. Hesperado says:

    Ray in Seattle,

    I found your analysis of identity psychology interesting. Pardon me for not reading all your comments and perhaps leaving out important details that might answer my question, but here goes:

    Your analysis sounds like a plausible way to explain psychological and cultural defensiveness and concomitantly, tendencies toward irrational adherence to paradigms that tend to ignore where new data may threaten those paradigms.

    My question reflects my conviction that begins in basic agreement about this way of framing the whole issue, as you noted in one of your comments, of why so many Westerners remain myopic to the threat of Islam — while I veer away I think where it seems to me that you would apply that same framework to Muslim psychology and society, in effect a variation on the “we’re not really different from them at bottom” theme.

    And now finally for my question: Does your framework allow for one particular culture to manifest profoundly stronger characteristics of this identity cultivation and identity defensiveness (with consequent vilification of the Other), while another culture may have cultivated signs of transcending them to a great degree? The former being Islam, the latter the modern West. If the answer is yes, doesn’t this strain your explanatory model beyond the breaking point — i.e., doesn’t it mean that we cannot explain Islamic jingoism, tribalism, supremacism, fanaticism, xenophobia and violence in the terms of the same framework by which we explain our vastly milder versions of those?

  70. Daniel Bielak says:

    Westerners, want to think, about Islamic-Supremacists, “we’re not really different from them at bottom”, because they a false narrative (about the situation – the situation being the vicious racist intendedly genocidal currently 90-year war against Israel) – they believe lies that vilify Israel.

    What is happening now happen – exactly – in the 1930’s.

    What happened in the 1930’s is quaint compared to what is happening now.

    Jewish people – Israeli leaders, advocates of Israel – can make things change for the better.

    Jewish – Israeli leaders, advocates of Israel – people need to start to tell the factual history – the factual past 90-year history – of the situation.

  71. Daniel Bielak says:


    “…because they a false narrative…”

    …because they believe a false narrative – because of the combination of ignorance of historical facts, and being told lies (which, in lesser degrees of obscenity and perversity of the lies, have been appeasingly told to them by delusional Jewish people – almost all Jewish people – and which, in greater degrees of obscenity and perversity of the lies, have been told to them by deranged Jewish people – some few very vocal Jewish people…

  72. Daniel Bielak says:

    As has always been the case – for thousands of years,

    The lies were originally told by racist genocidally anti-Jewish non-Jewish people, and then the lies were allowed, and internalized, and adopted and most influentially propagated by Jewish people.

  73. Daniel Bielak says:

    Jewish people can stop the lies – can stop the belief in the lies.

    Jewish people can and need to tell the truth.

    Jewish people can and need to tell the factual past 90-year history of the situation.

  74. Daniel Bielak says:


    Thanks for your understanding.

  75. Daniel Bielak says:


    Thanks for your understanding and sympathy and compassion and kindness and support.

  76. Daniel Bielak says:

    Also, I want to add that,

    I think that what incognito says is – and what I think is the case is:

    the chicken and the egg

  77. incognito says:


    On several occasions I have argued that Ray’s so-called theory it’s almost tautological: they do what they do because they strongly believe in it.

    I also argued that what is important to understand is HOW and WHY strong emotional beliefs (Ray’s identity beliefs) are acquired and why some manage to moderate or even lack them while others don’t — something which your question alludes to. Ray’s “theory” is mute on that.

    In fact, instead of explaining behavior, it actually avoids an explanation: something that explains everything explains nothing.

  78. nk1213 says:

    I know Rabbi Eric Gurvis, as well as couple of the signees on this list of recipients, and while I think that Jacobs has a valid (if not completely logical) point, he carries it to the point of vapidity.

    Part of what makes the Jewish diaspora so dynamic, relative to that of the Arab or Palestinian diaspora, is that we have the ability to congregate, self-criticize, and do so without worrying about the possibility of a characterization of Jews as “extremist.”

    Although the response letter to what Jacobs was pretty terribly worded, I think it should be fair to assume that although Gurvis knew (to some extent) some of the bad things that are in the closet of MAS, it is the obligation of any observer to give Gurvis the benefit of the doubt.

    Knowing him (and some of the signatories) not to be anti-Israel, it is the obligation of someone like Charles Jacobs to call to Rabbi Gurvis and talk to him. Ask him what he thinks in a non-condescending or confrontational tone. A rabbi deserves that at the very least.

    That said, the MAS does suck, and I hope Rabbi Gurvis has the sense to realize what it’s origins are and the ideology to which members of its leadership subscribe (similarly to Tariq Ramadan).

  79. […] followed the Boston Mosque controversy, and tracking the English Sharia law controversy, I’d say assigning these concerns to the […]

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