I regard anti-Semitism as ineradicable and as one element of the toxin with which religion has infected us. Perhaps partly for this reason, I have never been able to see Zionism as a cure for it. American and British and French Jews have told me with perfect sincerity that they are always prepared for the day when 'it happens again' and the Jew-baiters take over. (And I don't pretend not to know what they are talking about: I have actually seen the rabid phenomenon at work in modern and sunny Argentina and am unable to forget it.) So then, they seem to think, they will take refuge in the Law of Return, and in Haifa, or for all I know in Hebron. Never mind for now that if all of world Jewry settle in Palestine, this would actually necessitate further Israeli expansion, expulsion, and colonization, and that their departure under these apocalyptic conditions would leave the new brownshirts and blackshirts in possession of the French and British and American nuclear arsenals. This is ghetto thinking, hardly even fractionally updated to take into account what has changed. The important but delayed realization will have to come: Israeli Jews are the diaspora, not a group that has escaped from it. Why else does Israel daily beseech the often-flourishing Jews of other lands, urging them to help the most endangered Jews of all: the ones who rule Palestine by force of arms? Why else, having supposedly escaped from the need to rely on Gentile goodwill, has Israel come to depend more and more upon it? On this reckoning, Zionism must constitute one of the greatest potential non sequiturs in human history.
In a public dialogue with Salman in London he [Edward Said] had once described the Palestinian plight as one where his people, expelled and dispossessed by Jewish victors, were in the unique historical position of being 'the victims of the victims': there was something quasi-Christian, I thought, in the apparent humility of that statement.
We inherited these principles and these freedoms and we here highly resolve that we shall pass them on, as we will pass on an undivided Republic purged of racism and slavery, to our descendants. The popgun discharges of a few pathetic sectarians and crackpot revisionists are negligible, and will be drowned by the mounting chorus that demands: 'Mr Jefferson! BUILD UP THAT WALL'.
A wide and vague impression exists that so-called Eastern religion is more contemplative, innocuous, and humane than the proselytizing monotheisms of the West. Don't believe a word of this: try asking the children of Indochina who were dumped by their parents for inherited deformities that were attributed to sins in a previous 'life.
In ridiculing a pathetic human fallacy, which seeks explanation where none need be sought and which multiplies unnecessary assumptions, one should not mimic primitive ontology in order to challenge it. Better to dispose of the needless assumption altogether. This holds true for everything from Noah's flood to the Holocaust.
Past and present religious atrocities have occured not because we are evil, but because it is a fact of nature that the human species is, biologically, only partly rational. Evolution has meant that our prefrontal lobes are too small, our adrenal glands are too big, and our reproductive organs apparently designed by committee; a recipe which, alone or in combination, is very certain to lead to some unhappiness and disorder.
Sarah Palin appears to have no testable core conviction except the belief (which none of her defenders denies that she holds, or at least has held and not yet repudiated) that the end of days and the Second Coming will occur in her lifetime. This completes the already strong case for allowing her to pass the rest of her natural life span as a private citizen.
We may differ on many things, but what we respect is freeinquiry, openmindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake.We do not hold our convictions dogmatically: the disagreement betweenProfessor Stephen Jay Gould and Professor Richard Dawkins,concerning punctuated evolution and the unfilled gaps in post-Darwinian theory, is quite wide as well as quite deep, but we shallresolve it by evidence and reasoning and not by mutual excommunication.
One of the questions asked by al-Balkhi, and often repeated to this day, is this: Why do the children of Israel continue to suffer? My grandmother Dodo thought it was because the were jealous. The seder for Passover (which is a shame-faced simulacrum of a Hellenic question-and-answer session, even including the wine) tells the children that it's one of those things that happens to every Jewish generation. After the or or Holocaust, many rabbis tried to tell the survivors that the immolation had been a punishment for 'exile,' or for insufficient attention to the Covenant. This explanation was something of a flop with those whose parents or children had been the raw material for the 'proof,' so for a time the professional interpreters of god's will went decently quiet. This interval of ambivalence lasted until the war of 1967, when it was announced that the divine purpose could be discerned after all. How wrong, how foolish, to have announced its discovery prematurely! The exile and the Shoah could now both be understood, as part of a heavenly if somewhat roundabout scheme to recover the Western Wall in Jerusalem and other pieces of biblically mandated real estate.I regard it as a matter of self-respect to spit in public on rationalizations of this kind. (They are almost as repellent, in their combination of arrogance, masochism, and affected false modesty, as Edith Stein's 'offer' of her life to expiate the regrettable unbelief in Jesus of her former fellow Jews.) The sage Jews are those who have put religion behind them and become in so many societies the leaven of the secular and the atheist.
In the early days of the December that my father was to die, my younger brother brought me the news that I was a Jew. I was then a transplanted Englishman in America, married, with one son and, though unconsoled by any religion, a nonbelieving member of two Christian churches. On hearing the tidings, I was pleased to find that I was pleased.
Religions and states and classes and tribes and nations do not have to work or argue for their adherents and subjects. They more or less inherit them. Against this unearned patrimony there have always been speakers and writers who embody Einstein's injunction to 'remember your humanity and forget the rest.' It would be immodest to claim membership in this fraternity/sorority, but I hope not to have done anything to outrage it. Despite the idiotic sneer that such principles are 'fashionable,' it is always the ideas of secularism, libertarianism, internationalism, and solidarity that stand in need of reaffirmation.
I would be quite content to go to their children's bar mitzvahs, to marvel at their Gothic cathedrals, to 'respect' their belief that the Koran was dictated, though exclusively in Arabic, to an illiterate merchant, or to interest myself in Wicca and Hindu and Jain consolations. And as it happens, I will continue to do this without insisting on the polite reciprocal condition - which is that they in turn leave me alone. But this, religion is ultimately incapable of doing.
What struck me, in reading the reports from Sri Lanka, was the mild disgrace of belonging to our imperfectly evolved species in the first place. People who had just seen their neighbors swept away would tell the reporters that they knew a judgment had been coming, because the Christians had used alcohol and meat at Christmas or because ... well, yet again you can fill in the blanks for yourself. It was interesting, though, to notice that the Buddhists were often the worst. Contentedly patting an image of the chubby lord on her fencepost, a woman told the that those who were not similarly protected had been erased, while her house was still standing. There were enough such comments, almost identically phrased, to make it seem certain that the Buddhist authorities had been promulgating this consoling and insane and nasty view. That would not surprise me.
In the aftermath of the recent wave action in the Indian Ocean, even the archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williamson , proved himself a latter-day Voltairean by whimpering that he could see how this might shake belief in a friendly creator. Williamson is of course a notorious fool, who does an almost perfect imitation of a bleating and frightened sheep, but even so, one is forced to rub one's eyes in astonishment. Is it possible that a grown man could live so long and still have his personal composure, not to mention his lifetime job description, upset by a large ripple of seawater?