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August 29, 2006

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Erasmussimo

Mr. Hamilton, your assertion that Europe is anti-semitic is without foundation. The best data we have on this -- which remains flawed -- is the number of attacks on synagogues. Such statistics are kept by a number of organizations, and we must treat them carefully because they are not compiled by a rigorous standard. However, the data do indicate that attacks on synagogues are much lower in Germany than in the USA, and about the same in France as in the USA. It's been a few years since I saw these numbers, and perhaps they have changed since then.

Moreover, it is a crime in Germany and Austria to deny the Holocaust -- not so here in the USA. And in fact the Austrians recently convicted a fellow of that and sentenced him to jail.

The Europeans certainly disapprove of the policies of the State of Israel. But the data suggest that anti-semitism in Western Europe is no more serious than in the USA (Russia is another matter entirely).

Bob

Eras,

Do you not ever stop to think, why is it a "crime in Germany and Austria to deny the Holocaust?"

The answer is because there is so much anti-semitism.

I have been there. Anti-semitism is much more rampant there than in America. Why else would they make such a law. I do not often agree with Frederick, but in this case you are wrong. Heck, in Germany, they are even anti-American. If you are American, I dare you to go there for a job. I guarantee that you would be assaulted (mugged and beaten) within your first week. Earlier, if you are also Jewish. They hate foreigners, but especially Americans and Jews.

curtisstrong

Frederick,

As always, you´ve just skipped over the facts that don´t uphold your position and have invented others that do. I never said that I was "blaming" Israel. In fact, I would agree with you that there is some heavy blame to be placed on Europe and the U.N. for placing them in this situation. Howeer, answer the question, do or don´t you believe that Israel has any culpability in the current situation with Palestine? Israel is tough, and that´s an admirable quality...I really do give them full marks for existing in that situation. But they´ve done some things that are not so praiseworthy to be sure. You have to come to terms with that.

Furthermore, I´d like to know how long you´d fight if Saddam Hussein and the Iraqis, backed by the U.N. came in and took the entire East Coast from the U.S. That´s the way Palestineans feel. Again, you probably don´t care much because they´re not "one of yours." However, I´d fight for a while, I think. The Palestineans do the same.

Second, you continue to say silly things like, "U.S.´s fault to be sure," and so on. Yes, Frederick, everyone who even so much as dislikes Bush is an American-hating infidel who would rather live in France, and blames the U.S. for every atrocity that ever happened in the world. Honestly. Rather, I´d like the "U.S. moralist" camp to acknowledge the problems with what their policies do to the world, and stop doing it. You and I have already gone the rounds about Iraq and what´s going on there. If the U.S. had not invaded Iraq, at the very least we wouldn´t have to say that it was our policies that have resulted in some of the chaos, hate, and death that exists there now. As it now stands, we are responsible in part (you still can´t take away from people´s personal choices to murder) for much of the instability that has resulted from the invasion. That does not make me (and many others) feel good.

Finally, "Bush-hater" is quite the loaded term, and it´s both innacurate and irresponsible. Just because I (and others) disagree strongly with Bush´s policies, doesn´t imply "hate." Hate leads to a lot of bad things (like Palestineans blowing up Israelis, and vice-versa). Hate is a powerful emotion, that at least I would hope to avoid in nearly all situations. Let´s lay off the "epithets" that you seemed to discourage a while back. That would be like me calling you a "right wing bigot" every time that you said anything.

Finally, with regard to Bush´s decree from God, I still think it´s quite strange that some in our society can accept this reasoning from a president who is trying to justify a war (despite all of the many numerous wars that we now believe to be unjust that were motivated by religious concerns), and yet we as a society 1) are very skeptical of anyone who raises a deific decree defense in a courtroom to justify murder and 2) we call those people "insane." A bit of a paradoxical situation.

Frederick Hamilton

Curtis,
Fair enough regarding "hating" Bush. It is just that the "insane" thing is a bit much. Not one person has called Bush crazy that has been in his administration. As to Bush and his reliance on his faith, that is most appropriate. My goodness, Lincoln relied on faith and wrote God and divine providence into his most famous speeches. To have a life with faith as an important component is not indicative of any mental disorder. Execepting of course the Islamic jihadists who try to make the claim their faith requires them to kill, bomb, decapitate and destroy "infidels".

Now, as to "do or don´t you believe that Israel has any culpability in the current situation with Palestine?" Sure, some to be sure. Israel has made mistakes in its dealings with Palestinians and its neighbors. But those mistakes are made trying to survive. I am not Jewish. I have visited Israel when a medical student. Israel has only been able to survive by being willing to answer attacks with a strong military. There is no doubt in my mind that Israel would dearly like to be living in peace with its neighbors. There is no part of Israel now not part of the original UN devised borders excepting the Syrian Golan Heights. If Syria ever became a friend to Israel and renounced its determination to destroy Israel they would probably get their Golan Heights back.

When I get rhetorical with "U.S. fault" it is because many of the liberal left claim that it is becasue of the U.S. that we have terrorists, an unstable Middle East, et al. That is pure poppycock. There is no doubt America and the Bush Administration has made mistakes in foreign policy. Man, Clinton made a ton, Bush 1 had his share and Reagan dropped the ball on a few. But, all were trying to do the best for America at the time. America is for the most part on the right side of difficult international situations. That holds for Iraq.

Palestinians feeling the need to fight "for awhile" must come to an end. The 1948 UN division of then Palestine is now 58 years along. Will Israel leave their nation? All of America believes in a two state solution to the "Palestinian problem". The difficulty arises when no one surrounding Israel believes in the two state solution. When Israel's neighbors and their proxy's want to destroy Israel and believe Israel should be wiped off the map then their will be a constant state of war. Since '48, the attacks on Israel have been just that...attacks. Israel can roll over and be destroyed/exterminated or it can fight. I has drawn the proverbial line in the sand and has said "never again". They mean it.

Frederick Hamilton

Sorry, "It has drawn the ..."

Frederick Hamilton

Lest you think it is mostly Europe and Arab/Muslim/Islamists who exhibit anti-semitism, these examples from the Moveon.org web site's Action Forum: "media owning Jewish pigs," "Zionazis," a reference to Senator Lieberman as "Jew Lieberman" and the question, "Why are the Jews so Jew-y?"

Erasmussimo

Bob, your experiences in Germany are certainly unusual. I have been in Germany many times, and I have not once experienced any animus directed at me, even though I speak no German and am obviously American. Nor have I ever experienced anything approaching anti-semitism. We can argue our subjective impressions, but I think it's more useful to rely on the statistics on attacks on synagogues, which certainly suggest that anti-semitism is less in Germany than in the US.

The reason that they have laws against anti-semitic behavior is their own sense of shame and guilt for what happened 65 years ago. The German people have gone to great lengths to cleanse themselves of the attitudes that led to the Holocaust, and I think that they have been quite successful. Indeed, I suggest that Germans are more peace-loving and multiculturally tolerant than Americans.

Mr. Hamilton, I have mixed feelings about the 'Bush-haters' rhetoric. On the one hand, it is pejorative to the argument when serious criticisms of Mr. Bush's policies are presented. On the other hand, it is certainly justified in the many cases in which personal slanders against Mr. Bush are offered. I just wish that Americans could expunge this kind of talk from their political discussions.

I also have mixed feelings about Mr. Bush's reliance on religious belief in policy-making. I can respect such thinking when it is metaphorical in style, as in "My religious beliefs lead me to conclude that America has a duty to help the starving people of Darfur." I start to get nervous when such statements become less metaphorical, as in "God told me to invade Iraq." (and no, Mr. Bush never said that.) I do think that it is salutary to note just how dangerous religious sentiments can be when used by Islamic fanatics. We certainly have our own Christian fanatics who offer all manner of dangerous proposals. I think that reasonable people can tolerate religious sentiments so long as they are confined to the more spiritual side of things.

I think you are too gentle on Mr. Bush's incendiary role in the Middle East. Yes, previous presidents made mistakes, but they also got some things right. I believe that Mr. Bush has taken a delicate situation and made it much worse. Compare the current situation with what we had when Mr. Bush came into office. I think you'll agree, things are much worse today than they were back then.

Yes, Israel is attacked. But please observe that there have been no state-level attacks on Israel in 32 years. Not one of Israel's neighbors (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan) has used any military force against Israel in that time. All the attacks have been carried out by renegade groups. Yes, some of those groups are financed by Iran (and earlier, Iraq). So let's be precise about the nature of the threat that Israel faces. It does not come from its neighbors. It comes from renegade groups. The solution is not to attack neighbors, but to assist them in rooting out the renegade groups. Lebanon is a very tricky situation and was unable to control Hezbollah. But Israel can deal with renegade groups without denying the Palestinians their own country. The real obstacle here is Israel's desire to annex the West Bank. If the Israelis were willing to give up the West Bank, the path to peace would be much easier.

Bob

Era,

Yeah, there is no anti-semitism in Germany.

http://jewschool.com/?p=11165

Bob

Germany has continued to struggle with "far-right violence" or "neo-nazis" which are presently on the rise. Some have suggested that the increase in "hate crime" is related to the successes of the "right-wing" parties such as the NPD (National Democratic Party) in local elections. Also, much of this violence is attributed to the high unemployment rate, as citizens are blaming foreigners for this condition. Also, it next to impossible to become a citizen of Germany. Germans do not want to be assimilated by foreigners. They want Germany to stay German. Germany is only slightly less racist than Japan, who view all non-Japanese as beneath them...but they're okay to use as cheap labor. At least the Japanese don't have hate-crime problems like in Germany.

LAK

Eras,

Europe is extremely anti-semetic. Not only does their main stream media hate Israel, the general attitude toward Jews is still one of contempt. Part of it is ignorance becasue there are so few Jews there. I've ahd people not believe me when I told them I was Jewish, because I don't look streotypically Jewish. Three different people I befriended, a Spaniard, a Parisian and a Czech each asked me on diferent occasions, and in all seriousness, if I got a nose job or dyed my hair when I told them I was Jewish because I look more northern european than anything else. But worse, and I will remember this for the rest of my life, while walking down the street in London with a friend who does look more stereotypically Jewish, this guy just spit in his face for no reason. It was one of the saddest moments of my life. That doesn't happen here, in my experience.

ctw

"['bush-haters' rhetoric] is certainly justified in the many cases in which personal slanders against Mr. Bush are offered."

but not when dealing with someone who takes care in their use of language. (I, for example, never use "hate" in referring to anyone no matter how despicable.) and unlike almost any previous president in my adult lifetime (eight and counting), a cornucopia of language, some of which might be "slander" when applied to others, is all arguably true of the current president. he IS, among recent presidents, abnormally ignorant (literally, not in the sense of stupid, idiotic, etc); he IS an inveterate liar (not unprecedented, of course, but there are degrees); he IS painfully inarticulate; he IS pretty much a life loser by the standards of recent predecessors; there ARE reasons to believe that his motives sometimes stem from deep psychological dysfunction; there IS a legal argument (right or wrong) that he is guilty of war crimes; etc.

so the "bush-hater" rhetoric popular among admin shills notwithstanding, "shrill" is often absolutely appropriate. sometimes the truth rests uneasy on the sensitive ear.

-charles

Frederick Hamilton

Charles,
I read your assessment of GWB and as I read it I thought of the critics views of Harry S Truman. You could easily have been describing Truman.

Abnormally ignorant describes the habedasherer from Kansas City. Lifes loser, sounds like Truman and Lincoln. Painfully inarticulate, Truman and Lincoln again. Lincoln campaigning had others deliver his speeches because he didn't feel talented enough to deliver them. Now inveterate liar is of course the pejorative take on the WMD. The rest of the world thought Iraq had them also, but they are not "liars". Hard to find a more "inveterate liar" than Clinton. Federal Judge sanctions him for lying to a Federal Grand Jury. Disbarred and fined.

Just what are the "reasons to believe that his motives sometimes stem from deep psychological dysfunction". Everybody that either spends time with him or knows him says that he is quite normal and the type of person you would want to have a beer with. Not some psychologically disturbed individual.

Yes he at times seems to mangle the English language. Again, Truman comes to mind.

No sorry, Bush is not ignorant by any definition. Inveterate liar, please, get a grip. He succeeded Clinton he didn't copy him.

Only an elitist talks of someone with Bush's achievments: MBA, businessman, Governor of Texas (not Arkansas), et al as a life's loser. Reagan was considered by the intellectual elite as an ignorant, B movie actor. They forgot the Governor of California part and the crushing of a sitting Governor (Pat Brown) in a Democratic state. Reagan and Bush, two of life's losers. If only I could be such a loser.

Guilty of war crimes? Expand and prove please. Methinks you will get bogged down in political diatribes.

LAK

F,
1. What the rest of teh world believed was partly based on what we were telling them.

2. A Harvard MBA is not impressive whatsoever when you father is the head of the CIA. Hell, its not that impressive otherwise. More relevant would be that GWB was rejected from UT law school, and had to resprt to an MBA at a private institution where his father's money and power had weight.


Worst and least intelligent President ever.

Erasmussimo

Bob and LAK, your characterizations of Europeans as racist and anti-semitic represent subjective assessments unfounded by data. There's actually a lot of information on this subject; you can start with the State Department's report on global anti-semitism, which you can find here:

http://usinfo.state.gov/eur/Archive/2005/Jan/05-93928.html?chanlid=eur

You can also find a great deal of information on antisemitism at the Anti-Defamation League's website; here's the URL to their page on American anti-semitism:

http://www.adl.org/main_Anti_Semitism_Domestic/default.htm

You will find some disturbing data there. It's difficult to make a direct comparison between the two, but here are some raw figures: in 2003, the ADL reported 1557 anti-semitic incidents in the USA, while the German authorities reported 1,119 such incidents in the same year. When comparing these numbers, we must keep in mind a number of things:

1. There are four times as many Americans as Germans.
2. The German population includes a much larger percentage of Islamic people (mostly Turks) who harbor strong anti-semitic views and are responsible for a large but unknown percentage of the anti-semitic incidents.
3. The definitions of 'anti-semitic incident' are different in the two countries.
4. The standards of reporting are higher in Germany than in the USA because all forms of anti-semitic activity are criminal. Putting up a swastika is a crime in Germany, but not in the USA, and so such things are more likely to be reported in Germany than in the States.

Also, the ADL reports that 14% of Americans harbor strong anti-semitic views (In another place, they say 17% are hard-core anti-semites. Go figure.)

Lastly, I want to remind everybody that opposing the policies of the State of Israel does not in any fashion constitute anti-semitism.

LAK

Well facinating statsitics aside, it wasn't a bunch of right wing hicks or islamic immigrants asking me why my nose wasn't huge, it was highly educated friends of friends.

And asking people whether they are antisemites or tracking the nuber of violent manifestations of anti-semitism HARDLY indicates the level of pervasive anti-semitism in any community. Certainly none of the people who were shocked to find out I was Jewish with light brown hair, fair skin, green eyes and a small nose would ever burn a temple or think they were anti-semetic.

There is no substitute for experience. Your data is certainly not the full picture, although it seems germany has nearly 4 times the number of antisemetic incidents per capita, by the data you offer.

Asking people where they hate jews or tracking the number of violent acts is probably more inadequate, imprecise and inaccurate than personal experience in getting a picture of the level of antisemitism. If you want a better measure than the ones you cite, it would be to converse with secular educated members of the upper middle class of the community you seek to measure.

LAK

Era, did you read your links? They support the fact that Europe is a terribly anti-semetic place, including Germany.

Erasmussimo

LAK, you prefer your own subjective assessment to objective measures of anti-semitism. You are welcome to your own opinions, but if you want to convince anybody else, subjective opinions aren't much to go own. I agree that the statistics are not easy to interpret -- but that doesn't mean that we should abandon objectivity for subjectivity. No, our best approach is to assess the existing data judiciously.

You pounce upon the first of four complicating factors (that the per capita rate is higher in Germany) and then ignore the other three factors. This is not judicious.

Yes, I did read the links (and much more). They demonstrate that anti-semitic behavior definitely occurs in Germany and Europe. Perhaps you misunderstand my statements. I have never stated that anti-semitism is non-existent. My statements have been that anti-semitism is no worse among Europeans than among Americans. To be more specific, it is unfair to criticize Europeans for anti-semitism when Americans are just as bad. It's a pot-calling-the-kettle-black situation.

Frederick Hamilton

LAK,
I agree that Bush's persona lends some to what I believe to be an erroneous "lightweight" opinion of him. I don't think it matters. Great intellect and great leadership don't necessarily go together, look to Carter for example. Bush is no dummy. Not sure of his intellect but Yale and Harvard degrees even for legacies aren't awarded willy nilly. Too many at Harvard and Yale would have been happy to stick it to a "Bush".

I wish I could understand antisemitism. I a gentile became quite good friends with a number of Jews in medical school. So much so that I joined a Jewish social fraternity and was their token gentile. Finally President of the group. Their representative to the national meeting at Tamiment in the Poconos. Jewish comedien called me the Jewish Lil' Abner. Quite good fun. Visited Israel after the six day war as one of three U.S. repersentatives to the International Federation of Medical Student Associations. Touring the just captured old city in Jerusalem and visiting the Western Wall just recently recovered was very impressive. More impressive was the need for an Israeli soldier every hundred yards or so with a machine gun and machine gun turretts overlooking the Western Wall. Also visited the al Aska Mosque (sp?) a week before some wacko Australian tried to blow it up. So there I was, a Christian at our faith center, visiting the Jewish faith center, and also visiting the Muslim faith center.

My experiences over many years has given me a fondness and a sympathy for what it means to be Jewish in this crazy world. It isn't pretty. The reverse is not true for Muslims, I don't believe. Maybe post 9/11 I suppose. But nobody really hates Arab/Muslim/Islamists like so many seem to hate Jews. We must find a way to satisfy Palestinians and Jews and for a way for the Lion to lay down with the lamb. (Who cares whether the Lion is the Jew or Arab and vis versa). Historical animosity/hatred is so mindless. So irrational. Totally unexpicable. The Middle East is in the throws of a difficult time. A stable free Iraq if possible would be a great start to a better Middle East. Attainable? I am beginning to think it is. The Iraqi's are taking over the fight against the insurgents and just may pull it off. I know it pains many of you, but we must not walk away from this fledgeling nation. We, right or wrong, pledged our support and must follow through with that pledge.

LAK

Objective or not, your data is fully inadequate to paint the whole picture, which is the point, plus the data doesn't even support your argument. The per-capita number of violent events is much larger in Germany, and it is doubtful that it is just becasue there are more Turks there

How about reading the newspapers? Is that objective enough for you? They are fully anti-israel, which while not directly correlated with anti-semitism, it at least should be given some weight for the general attitude toward Jews.

Eras, i think you are wrong here in a big way. Europe is much more hostile toward Jews than the US is, in my personal observations of the news media and the conversations and experiences I've had, not to mention the history of Europe. No offense, but my personal data is just as relevant and objective as yours, even if there is less of it, and both suggest that Europe is much more antisemetic than the US.

That the US would be more tolerant is logical, as we are a country founded on principles of ethnic and religious diversity, and made up of many groups who were exiled for their relgious beliefs, whereas Europe is factionalized around ethnic and relgious lines.

So I think I've got both the objective and subjective supporting me here, which leaves you with, well not much.

Like I said, I've never had an educated American be shocked to find out I was Jewish becasue I didn't have a big nose.

Erasmussimo

Mr. Hamilton, I too believe that we would do best to make the commitment to see Iraq through to success, but I earlier pointed out that this would take at least half a million American soldiers and several trillion dollars and I very much doubt that the American people are willing to make that kind of sacrifice. What we end up with is a half-ass job that only makes matters worse. Our mistake was the naive confidence that our own way of life is so profoundly superior to every other way of life that the Iraqis would instantly drop thousands of years of cultural proclivities to embrace hamburgers, apple pie, and democracy.

LAK, you continue to argue by assertion rather than by reference to objective facts, so I fear that further discussion is pointless. If I am incorrect here, and you would indeed prefer a rational analysis of what information is available, I am eager to continue this discussion.

LAK

Are you saying the data points I have gathered in my personal experience are not objective? Am I not an objective measure of antisemitism? Perhaps I have less data, but it is just as objective.

And your data supports the fact. You are the one arguing by assertion that the greater number of muslims per capita in Germany explains away the statistically significant difference in the number of anti-semetic events in Germany. Or do YOU have the data to back that claim up (which I find quite suspect).

So cut it with the hypocrisy, eh. 'll trust my experience and the data you offer over you rather pathetic attempts to explain away hard data that supports the argument that Europe is far more anti-semetic than the US.

Plus the argument I advance about history and ethnic diversity are nothing but sound and logical. So get off your snooty high horse dude. You loose this argument base don the data you supplied.

Erasmussimo

I'm sorry, LAK, but I have an iron rule of Internet discussion: once it gets nasty, I terminate my interaction with the upset party. Best wishes.

LAK

nasty??? Telling you to get off your snooty high horse becasue you claim I'm "arguing by assertion" when that is all you are doing? Jesus. You are the one who offered the data that counters your own argument. You are the one that argued by assertion that the data was easily dismissed for suspect unsupported reasons. I point this out to you and you shut down.

If you want nasty, I can get nasty, and I promise I haevn't done it yet. Fact is you are on a snooty high horse. Come down off it and try accountability one day.

Bob

Era,

Your rule seems to be that when the arguement does not go your way, you bow out while insinuating that others who disagree with you are hostile and beneath you. How convenient. I don't see any hostility on the part of LAK. Perhaps it is you that is upset?

By the way, personal experiences in Germany weigh much heavier with me than do some government statistics (and we all know what they're worth). I was there 2 years ago when an American was beaten (not robbed) by 2 thugs who were yelling at him for taking their jobs. They also gave him a few extra kicks for being a Jew. Oh yeah, I want you to understand that I am not saying that there is no hate-mongering here in the USA. There is plenty. I see it mostly from the religious right. You know, kill'em all, nuke'em, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Erasmussimo

Bob, I'm happy to discuss the matter, so long as the conversation remains civil. You offer your personal experience with one case of one American being beaten up by some German punks. That's one data point. If you want to dismiss all the other data points, well, that's your right. Perhaps there are people who will place more weight on your anecdote than on the big picture. I'm not one of them.

Besdies, there's a larger point here. If all we want to do is match personal experiences, where do we end up? I've spent plenty of time in Germany, too, and my experiences don't match yours. Are my experiences better than yours? Are they any less truthful than yours? How would you react if I made grand generalizations about the German nation based on my interactions with a few hundred Germans? I would expect you to dismiss my grand generalizations as a tiny snapshot of a huge picture -- which is exactly how I regard ANY set of personal anecdotes.

When I'm trying to make an assessment, I gather the best data I can. If you reject that approach, well, that's fine with me, but it doesn't convince me of anything.

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