Beinart’s new book

In city after city, American Jews have built Holocaust memorials. The Jewish schools in those cities are often decrepit, mediocre, and unaffordable, but there is no shortage of places to learn how Jews died. When a community builds better memorials than schools — when it raises children more familiar with Auschwitz than with Simchat Torah — the lesson of those memorials cannot be: Honor the dead by leading informed, committed Jewish lives. Nor is the lesson: Honor the dead by acting justly toward those non-Jews who live under Jewish rule, since mainstream Jewish organizations rarely grapple with the injustice inherent in occupying land in which Jews enjoy citizenship and non-Jews do not. Instead, the implicit lesson is: Honor the dead by preventing another Holocaust, this time in Israel. That lesson is reinforced by the vast sums that American Jewish groups spend on “Israel advocacy,” on teaching young American Jews to defend the Jewish state against the viciously anti-Semitic climate that supposedly pervades their college campuses and the world.

But the Israel advocacy generally fails. For one thing, it is difficult to teach Jewish students to defend the Jewish state when they have not been taught to care much about Judaism itself. Second, it is intellectually insulting to tell young Jews who have been raised to think for themselves that they should start with the assumption that Israeli policy is justified, and then work backward to figure out why. Third, since young American Jews—more than their elders—take Jewish power for granted, the victimhood narrative simply doesn’t conform to what they see in their own lives or in the Middle East.

Rethinking Zionism Jews have gone from powerless to powerful in the last few decades — and now it’s time to acknowledge what it means BY PETER BEINART

I thought this was an interesting point. Museums are probably much less expensive to run than schools, but Holocaust remembrance can become a sort of fetishism of death, the sort that Jews rightfully deplore in their enemies.

The Crisis of Zionism got a mostly negative review in the WSJ:

Here is what he thinks: Israel is an oppressive, apartheid-type state. Its failure to attain peace with the Palestinians can be blamed on the actions of—in no particular order—Israel’s leaders, American-Jewish organizations and Orthodox Jews (bigots to a man, in his telling). Because of these bad actors, Mr. Beinart warns, the “liberal Zionist dream”—a Jewish state built on liberal ideals—risks demise. He focuses in particular on the West Bank, the area captured in 1967 by Israel from Jordan in the Six-Day War. “If Israel ceases being a democratic Jewish state,” he writes, “it is less likely to be because Arab armies invade the West Bank than because Israel permanently occupies it.”


Mr. Beinart attempts to resolve this contradiction by claiming that there are two Israels: one within the country’s original 1948 borders and one outside, where “occupation . . . desecrates Israel’s founding ideals.” But in truth there is only one Israel. Mr. Beinart fails to appreciate that Israel is in a state of war and that Hamas—which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2006—is a terrorist organization (recognized as such by the U.S.) that seeks to destroy what it calls the “Zionist entity.”

But while Hamas’s charter openly declares this destructive goal—and Hamas fosters attacks on Israel with rockets and suicide bombers—Mr. Beinart blames Israel for not doing everything to “find a diplomatic solution.” He also attacks Jewish leaders for focusing on the wording of the Hamas charter and ignoring the group’s other, less extreme documents. If only Hamas listened to Mr. Beinart.

In a State Over Israel

Power has its own ideology

The job of president comes with interests that are more powerful than traditional political divisions. Even so, there is something horrible about the way that the President and his staff have asserted the right to kill Americans abroad without any judicial supervision. Would it really be difficult to have a special tribunal comprised of juries, lawyers, and judges with security clearance that could supervise a process like this to prevent abuses?

Weigel on the merits of the Republican debates

In Unleash the Crowds Newt Gingrich is right: We need more debates. And more yelling! By David Weigel, Weigel makes the compelling case that the debates are an inexpensive and effective way for the candidates to show their excellence and communicate with voters.  So effective, that it is hard to imagine anything more valuable they could have done with that time. I’m convinced but I’m glad I don’t have to watch them.

The 5th amendment and mind reading

Should the government search your brain? The state may soon be able to force you to reveal your password. That’s a huge threat to the Fifth Amendment BY DAVID SIROTA paints a very dark future of state mandated mind reading in legal proceedings. I don’t know if the constitution would really prevent that. After all, the DNA you accidentally leave on a chair in a police station can be used against you (Collection and Analysis of DNA Left on a Chair at the Police Station Not a Fourth Amendment Search, Court Holds). But if your mind isn’t private, it is hard to understand privacy having any meaning. I hope that the Supreme Court makes an accurate finding of law and  our legislatures and executives protect us of the constitution does not.

For some speech you deserve a shunning

“The legislation has indeed included draconian remedies in various drafts, so I join my colleagues in criticizing the bills. But our opposition has become so extreme that we are doing more harm than good to our own cause. Those rare tech companies that have come out in support of SOPA are not merely criticized but barred from industry events and subject to boycotts. We, the keepers of the flame of free speech, are banishing people for their speech. The result is a chilling atmosphere, with people afraid to speak their minds.”

The False Ideals of the Web By JARON LANIER
If those in opposition were advocating genocide, mass-rape, or some other near-universally reviled and horrible thing would Lanier mind that the advocates were being shunned for their perfectly legal speech? I doubt it. Freedom of speech is the right to speak your mind without legal consequences. It is not the right to say what you want without any consequences.  If you say unpopular things you have to live with the possibility of becoming unpopular. For a community where rule of law and information sharing are core values, advocating SOPA / PIPA are shun worthy or nearly so.

Pay among the clergy

Unsurprisingly, human capital and productivity determine wages:

“The American Jewish newspaper Forward conducted a survey in 2010 comparing salaries for rabbis, protestant ministers, and Roman Catholic priests. The rabbis came out on top by a wide margin, with an average annual haul of approximately $140,000, including a tax-free housing allowance. Christian holy men earn more than $100,000 less than rabbis, on average, with Catholic priests making even less. There are a couple of reasons why: Christian congregations tend to be smaller than their Jewish counterparts and often have multiple pastors. Also, rabbis typically spend more years in training than Christian ministers.

A Christian holy man could land a high-paying gig at a megachurch, but those jobs are rare. The average pastor with a flock of more than 2,000 people earns $147,000. The best-paid get more than $400,000. Even their underlings do pretty well, with assistant pastors at the biggest churches earning in the high five figures. Only 0.5 percent of protestant churches, however, can boast of such numbers.”

What Type of Clergy Get the Highest Salaries? A priest, a rabbi, and an imam walk into a bar. Who buys the drinks? By Brian Palmer

It is worth pointing out that senior Christian clergy like Bishops, Cardinals, Pontiffs, and Patriarchs often receive lavish perquisites as part of their position that include retainers, luxurious housing and travel, and free handmade bespoke clothing.

Is this the death of ethical vegetarianism?

Ordering the vegetarian meal? There’s more animal blood on your hands by Dr. Mike Archer. He argues that if meat from grazed cattle is the alternative to farmed grains, the total suffering inflicted is lower on grains.  I caution that because most american cattle used for beef are fed grains and not grazed, this criticism does not entirely apply here. I’ve heard this argument sketched out before, but I’ve never actually seen the hard numbers presented in this piece.

Jury Nullification is the law of the land (or should be)

I greatly enjoyed Jurors Need to Know That They Can Say No By PAUL BUTLER, an Op-Ed advocating for both the right to and the use of jury nullification in American jury trials.

The war on drugs (really drug users and makers) is a human rights calamity and jury nullification seems  a powerful tool to affect positive change. It also happens to have a decent constitutional argument underpinning it.