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September 15, 2010

A Glass Still Full

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A Glass Still Full

A Reflection by

Jay B Gaskill, attorney at law

 

 

Monday’s San Francisco Chronicle carried a wrenching story about three Jewish girls who were taken from their home in Wierzbnik, Poland by the Nazis in 1942.  As their parents were taken away on a separate train, Annie Glass, 18, was told by her mother to “Hang on to your sisters!” (Sally, 15, and Miriam, 13). 

 

For anyone who is the least bit complacent about the fate of Jews forced to live under a hostile regime, or doubtful of the moral legitimacy and ultimate necessity of Israel as the world’s one Jewish refuge state, this story – one of thousands like it – provides a necessary corrective.

 

San Francisco Chronicle, September 13, 2010

Sisters offer living link to Holocaust

Auschwitz survivors teach value of family

By

Meredith May

 

This entire piece is now available in full at this link –

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/09/13/MNCT1F5Q61.DTL

 

I recommend that you take the time to read the whole article. I have some comments below. 

 

Here are extended excerpts from Meredith May’s excellent piece:

 


“The girls knew they were losing their home when they saw their parents burying family heirlooms and concealing fabrics from the family textile business in the walls. ... [F]amilies were marched at gunpoint to waiting trains, [its] destination ... a concentration camp. [Those with work papers were spared for slave labor in nearby factories.]

 

“The young girls, unbelievably, had work papers. Their mother, through a textile connection, had been able to pawn her jewelry to buy the papers, even though most of the work permits were going to men of working age. 

“[Annie] stood Miriam on a brick so she would appear older. Guards shuttled the girls to the work car — their first stroke of luck. 

“They were taken to a barracks and factory called Majowka, where a brutal overseer killed Jews for sport, forcing them to balance on a beam and shooting them when they wavered. 

“Guards with machine guns routinely entered the sick ward at Majowka and killed patients in their beds, according to historian Christopher Browning’s book ‘Remembering Survival’.

 

“When [Annie] heard her mother was in the labor camp kitchen, she found her peeling potatoes. But something was wrong. ...she had delivered a bunkmate's baby, but the Germans heard its cries and injected it with something to kill it.


“A week later, [mother] died of heartbreak in my arms,” [Annie] said. “I see that picture in my eyes all the time. Two soldiers put a sheet over her, and I jumped on her, begging the soldiers to kill me. 
 

 

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“After the five-day train ride, the girls were registered, their heads shaved and their arms tattooed with a crude needle. 
 
“The sisters, and 200 others, were told to strip and enter a gas chamber. It was night. They sat shivering on long wooden benches waiting to die. 

“Night became morning. 

“A soldier finally came in and shouted to the girls to put some clothes on and go to the barracks... 

 [Later], “On one of their morning marches, a guard saw that Miriam's face was flushed and pulled her away from her sisters for the camp hospital.

 

“...[H]er baby sister would surely be killed, because it was hospital policy to ship the sick to the crematories. She began gathering twigs and weeds to make a broom. The next morning, she sneaked into the hospital and found a nurse who spoke Polish. She presented her a gift of the broom and pleaded with the woman to look after her sister.

 

“Days passed. Glass was in line for the bathroom when she saw trucks loading hospital patients for the gas chambers. [She ran] ‘into the hospital, and it was empty. ... ‘The nurse was there, and she opened a closet. She had hidden Miriam in the linens and pillows.’”

 

Two of the three sisters are now living in San Francisco.  Miriam was murdered there in 1977.  All in all, the Glass family has been decimated; one of the sisters’ cousins survived the camps, an aunt and uncle were able to move to Israel.
 

 

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My Comments

 

Modern Israel was born (reborn) under the auspices of the United Nations in 1948, sustained by the singular, morally confident backing of US President Harry S. Truman.

 

“At midnight on May 14, 1948, the Provisional Government of Israel proclaimed the new State of Israel. On that same date the United States, in the person of President Truman, recognized the provisional Jewish government as de facto authority of the new Jewish state (de jure recognition was extended on January 31). The U.S. delegates to the U.N. and top ranking State Department officials were angered that Truman released his recognition statement to the press without notifying them first. On May 15, 1948, the Arab states issued their response statement and Arab armies invaded Israel and the first Arab-Israeli war began.”  From the Truman Library website --http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/israel/large/index.php

 

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“Truman’s “pro-Israel outlook ‘was based primarily on humanitarian, moral, and sentimental grounds, many of which were an outgrowth of the president's religious upbringing and his familiarity with the Bible.’ Extensive research into Truman's biography and earlier career shows his impressive consistency.” 

 

Daniel Pipes reviewing Benson’s Harry S Truman and The founding of Israel, in The Middle East Quarterly, September 1998.

 

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The Italian republican revolutionary, Giuseppe Garibaldi, is credited with the observation that “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”  Whether Garibaldi said it first, he undoubtedly observed it.  The forces of good must learn to triumph over evil over and over again, because evil is a recurring pathogen.

 

The homicidal haters of the Jewish peoples are a recurring pathogen of the human condition.

 

Sadly, the courage shown by Harry S Truman and the founders of Israel was not a one-off permanent fix.  The enemy is a permanent one.  Western civilization itself, of which Israel is but a local example, is the target of an atavistic form of malignent narcissism.  This mindset is characterized by the destructive urge to bring down the “others” who enjoy perceived success, because their very existence is an affront, making the contrast intolerable to one’s own sense of failure.  It is a form of insanity to be sure, but a durable one. Malignent narcissism is why, for example, drug addicts attempt to recruit others (validating their own depravity) and why, from an Islamic perspective, the material and technological successes of the Western liberal democracies must be seen as a perversion (validation their own failure).  

 

If the Jewish people were just another tribe jockeying for territory, the unhinged-jihad against them might have cooled by now.  The homicidal animus towards Israel stems from the fact that the Jewish state operates under a different paradigm than Islam, that of a free, marginally “decadent”, but morally centered society.  Israel’s very success threatens Arab, Islamic triumphalism.  Israel and the West are not threatened by a major world religion, but by a militant ideology transmuted from the unreformed versions of that religion. 

 

Sanity can not be expected to surrender to malevolent insanity.

 

Another aphorism comes to mind – By their enemies, you shall know them. 

 

There is an ugly, recurring consistency of spirit and world view that is shared by the Jew-haters of the 20th and 21st century.  The current malevolence of Israel’s enemies threads back to the Germany of the 1930’s.  Recall that the Nazi movement was born in the great German humiliation.  The failure of German greatness in WW I and the reparations that followed was seen though the lens of resentment.  To the malignent narcissist mind, the “unjust” success of everyone else is a death penalty offence. 

 

And this is how the worst form of authoritarian triumphalism can arise:  It becomes national therapy.

 

We now know that Nazi propaganda was aimed specifically – and with significant success- at the Arab populations, using quotations from the Qur’an  to promote anti-Semitism as a common ground in the German war effort.

 

One report, among that the many recent accounts that are corroborating this, comes from the University of Maryland.

 

“After four decades of studying Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, Maryland history Professor Jeffrey Herf made one of the most important archival discoveries of his career just a mile from his office.

“More than 3,000 pages of transcripts of Nazi radio broadcasts to Arab nations in the Middle East, stored at the National Archives in College Park, had apparently gone without notice since being declassified in 1977. They reveal the extent to which German officials not only presented their country as an ally of Arab anti-imperialism but also exploited the Koran to spread anti-Semitism.

“Herf's exploration of this treasure trove became the foundation for his fifth book, ‘Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World,’ published last month [2009] by Yale University Press. 

 

“The broadcasts also show how the Nazis selectively used passages from the Koran to spread hatred of the Jews and of Zionism. Herf asserts that the wartime propaganda offensive was an important chapter in the longer and broader history of Islamic extremism.

“A July 1942 broadcast on the Voice of Free Arabism station, ‘Kill the Jews Before They Kill You,’ opened with the false statement that Britain had armed Jews in Egypt to rise up against Egyptians when the Nazis drove British forces from the country.

http://newsdesk.umd.edu/sociss/release.cfm?ArticleID=2033

 

In 2009, Iran’s mullahs engineered the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a raging anti-Semite and holocaust denier, as the country’s president.  As I write this, Iran is actively working towards the next holocaust, this one to be accomplished using atomic weapons. 

 

Note the convenience of atomic weapons, especially for a country hobbled by a third world infrastructure, yet bent on mass murder.  The German-engineered holocaust required organizational and transportation skills currently beyond the capability of Iran and its allied jihad-actors.  If just one nation can just build a few atomic bombs, it will no longer have to rely on a vast network of railroad cars, camps and ovens, and the sprawling bureaucracy such an undertaking entails. 

 

No honest expert now assesses the Iranian nuclear program as peaceful, nor doubts the regime’s malevolent deceptions and plans.  But Israel is under strong pressure by the current US administration (headed by someone I have called the anti-Truman) to stay its hand. 

 

Again, the world faces an outbreak of recrudescent authoritarian triumphalism, once again as national therapy, this time for the economic and political failures of the regimes of theocratic Islam.

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I can hear that soul shattering parental admonition, shouted from a retreating Nazi train:  Look after your sisters!

 

That simple statement touched the sturdy moral reality manifested by Harry S Truman and our greatest generation.  This is our time now, and the clock is running out.

 

JBG

September 09, 2010

Hawking and the G-d Filter

As Published on
THE BRIDGE TO BEING BLOG:  www.jaygaskill.com/blog2
& The Policy Think Site: www.jaygaskill.com
All contents, unless otherwise indicated are
Copyright © 2010 by Jay B. Gaskill, All Rights Reserved....
A time-limited license to publish, distribute or print all or part of this article (except for personal use) is always needed. [A one time license for use in group discussions is almost always routinely given.]
For permissions, comments or submissions, please contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at - law@jaygaskill.com

 

Also available in htm format at this link: http://www.jaygaskill.com/TheG-dFilter.htm

 

The G-d[1] Filter

The Competing Realities of Hawking[2] & Einstein[3], Buber & Teilhard[4] and the Rev. Dr. Polkinghorne[5]

 

Preamble:

 

The paradox of being can be posed in these two questions: 

  • If it has no beginning, why does it contain beginnings? 
  • If has a singular beginning, why does it contain us, the beings who can apprehend being?

 

The paradox of atheism can also be posed in a single question: 

  • If you believe in the absence of God, on what do you base that faith?

 

The core paradox of agnosticism can be stated as a longer question: 

  • If you lack the ability to believe that God exists or that God does not exist, on what do you base the faith that you actually exist in a community of other beings on a planet that orbits a sun in one solar system among trillions?

 

On Metaphorical Communication

 

Data and even the first level explanations of the physical sciences are disordered and organized descriptions, respectively, but neither conveys meaning.  For that task, even the most intelligent and sophisticated minds use metaphor.

 

Well constructed metaphors are the cognitive tools by which we grasp and attempt to tame those subtle and elusive aspects of our experience of reality (and the reality of our experience) that otherwise would defy understanding and frustrate discourse.

 

The core Genesis insight is that we, as beings, are organized in the same pattern as the Supreme Being.  No thoughtful, world-aware person (except the severely metaphor challenged) takes seriously the notion that deity has a beard and floats somewhere in the clouds.  For the sophisticated believer, God is not anthropomorphic; instead humans are partly theomorphic. The differences between human and g-d are questions of local/particular vs. infinite/universal, wholeness vs. incompleteness, integrity vs. fragmentation; these are matters of scale, depth and reach, not the essential nature of living Being.

 

Getting to the Core of the Matter

 

At our best, we are an inherently moral species, fiercely volitional and committed to reason.  This is why some of our best and brightest minds instinctively reject a stupid, authoritarian God. 

 

Ah, but what if...? 

 

Suppose that God is a brilliant, inherently moral Being, fiercely committed to our volition, and represents the very embodiment of scientific reason, moral reason, mathematical reason, creative reason, and compassionate reason – all facets of all ordered conscious thought in all its manifold forms. 

 

Suppose such a deity has been generously communicating to all minds in space-time that were and a willing and able to listen and apprehend. 

 

  • What about our bandwidth limitations? 

 

  • What distorted picture of such a deity would emerge when filtered through the minds of stupid, authoritarian humans?

 

Fortunately, for many of us, G-d appears as the One who judges and loves the judged, forgives and lives in those who forgive.

 

There is much more to be said, of course, but this is just a blog.

 

JBG

 

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Read Jay B Gaskill’s Lost Souls Coffee Shop, an allegory for the human condition. 
Available for purchase on line as an e-book by Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ireadiwrite Publishing & 10 other on-line book retailers. 

 

Just Google “Jay B Gaskill” and the book’s title or go to –

 

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Or

 

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[1] Why omit the “o”?  See my essay, “Why G-d” posted at http://www.jaygaskill.com/WhyG-d.htm .

[2] I’m just now reading Stephen Hawking’s latest book, The Grand Design, which posits a cosmological model in which ‘God’ is not necessary to the story.  This is not an original viewpoint, however original Hawking’s latest theory may or may not be.  I plan to provide a careful analysis when I’ve finished digesting the book.

[3] For reasons too long to condense here, I am fully persuaded that Albert Einstein was a deist, someone who recognized G-d’s handiwork in the beautiful logic of creation, but did not believe in a deity Who would intervene in nature.

[4] Martin Buber, arguably the most famous Jewish religious philosopher of the 20th century, is best known for his masterwork, “I and Thou” (Ich and du - 1923), first published in English in 1937.  The French biologist turned priest, Pierre Teilhard d’ Chardin (1881-1955), proposed an entirely different vision of evolution, one that was subtly but firmly directed towards the ennoblement of creation.

[5] One of my favorite writers is the physicist, turned Anglican priest, the Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne, who wrote, “As embodied beings, humans may be expected to act both energetically and informationally.  As pure Spirit, God might be expected to act solely through information input.  One could summarize the novel aspect of this proposal by saying that it advocates the idea of a top down causality through “active information.” Belief in God in an Age of Science, “Does God Act in the Physical World?” by John Polkinghorne (Yale 1998) at p 63.

 


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