April 24, 2007

If It Walks Like A Duck...

Gather a group of "intellectuals" in a room and watch them debate if what looks like a duck, walks like a duck, floats like a duck and quacks like a duck is maybe... a horse!

Whether it's 1938 or not, the kind of debate, denial, excuse-making and over-intellectualization we're hearing today are exactly the kind heard here in 1938, as the worst genocide in history was being perpetrated in Europe.

So now, anyone wanna debate what the word "catastrope" means?

The New York Sun  |  April 24, 2007

It May Not Be 1938, But Threats Are Real

By Gary Shapiro, Staff Reporter

Scholars and writers gathered at Queens College the past two days to discuss threats to Israel and the West under the conference title: "Is it 1938 Again?"

The participants, representing the pro-Israel center left and center right positions, expressed vigorous differences. The editor-at-large of Commentary, Norman Podhoretz, spoke of a World War IV against Islamofascism and favored American military action against Iran's nuclear capability.

A professor at Hebrew University, Moshe Halbertal, told The New York Sun that Mr. Podhoretz's target was too broad, saying there should be a more "calibrated definition" of specific targets to avoid increasing jihadism. In confronting radical militant Islam, he said, "You don't have to transform the political culture of the Arab world."

Disagreement also arose when a professor from the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, Michael Walzer, mentioned the term "ethnic cleansing" in connection with the Arab refugees of 1948. A professor at Harvard Law School, Alan Dershowitz, took strong exception to this, but said he basically agreed with him on everything else.

A professor at Dartmouth, Susannah Heschel, said Mr. Podhoretz's calls for attacking Iran "give us false security," while she said Mr. Walzer's call for a secular Jewish state was neither desirable nor realistic.

An author and Orthodox feminist, Blu Greenberg, expressed regret regarding critics of Israel who speak "half-truths" contributing to Israel's vulnerability. She said if one criticizes "the wall" for frightening and restricting Palestinians, one should also note that it had reduced terror attacks by 65%. She said criticism of Israel must be always be contextual.

Mr. Halbertal said that in the battle of images, Israel would lose because the threats to Israel are often less photogenic than Israel's responses.

Mr. Halbertal told the Sun he did not find useful the analogy between 2007 and 1938. "We are not either in a world war nor on the eve of world war." A senior editor at National Review, David Pryce-Jones, said Iranian rhetoric sounded like that of Goebbels, and said that the Holocaust denial conference in Iran was a "latter-day echo of the Wansee conference."

The editor of the Jewish Political Chronicle, David Schimel, the conference organizer, told the Sun: "The analogy is not to be taken literally." He said the point was to say there was a potential catastrophe on the horizon.

On another panel, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein de-demonized evangelical theology, saying many supported Israel because they love democracy. But the director of the Religious Action Center, David Saperstein, said evangelical Christians may be allies to Jews on Israel, but are not on other issues.

The director of the program in Jewish studies at Queens College, Mark Rosenblum, said the conference was a success in putting up a big tent that did not turn into a circus.

Indeed, Mr. Schimel said that in planning the conference he did not want it to be like magazines, where writers merely speak to their own choirs.

Mr. Rosenblum said perpetrator and victim was "the binary reality" seeping into more discussion in the world. He said both the moderate pro-Israel left and right agreed that there is "an annihilating anti-Semitism objectively loose in the world today."

The conference Sunday filled the entire 485 seats in the Lefrak Concert Hall, with 130 in a simulcast room, and about 200 people were turned away. "The conference struck a nerve," Mr. Schimel said.

Original article here.


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