The greatest delusion is to think that you are at the mercy of reality.
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The greatest delusion is to think that you are at the mercy of reality.
For some people doubt is the only thing that's certain.
It is better to do right than to be right.
One of my ambitions is to come out of life having survived.
A While back someone asked me 'How are you keeping yourself occupied these days?' So I answered: 'Do I look like a Palestinian?'
People tend to see idiomatic expressions in their idiomatic light and not at all connected with the reality they are purporting to describe. Anyone who has seen vultures eating from a carcass will appreciate the true meaning of the expression ‘like vultures to a kill’. These birds are savage, vicious and uncivilised as they tear bits from the remainder of the kill. Almost always, however, if one uses the expression ‘like vultures’ to a kill’ this has no connection with either these unsympathetic scavengers or their meals. We keep the expression to its purely idiomatic or metaphorical meaning. A few years back when we witnessed some vultures feasting on a dead impala we could have described them as feeding like vultures.
A person who has handled an eel will be best placed to describe the extent of its slipperiness. He could describe a dishonest witness as follows: ‘Well I would like to say that he was as slippery as an eel, but actually the truth is he is not quite so slippery.’ Perhaps it would be useful to say: ‘The witness was more akin to a moray eel than a European.’
Generally we stick to the idiomatic meaning.
Israel bashers use many idiomatic expressions when talking of Israel, its leaders, soldiers, citizens or sympathisers. Among those myths we all encounter peddled about Israel and its army are that Israel is aggressive, expansionist, ruthless and its leaders exploit or disregard the humanity or human rights of Palestinians. We have as Jews endured the pogroms of blood libels and today we suffer from the slurs of those who imply that Jews, Zionists or Israelis (or the ones who are not anyone’s best friends at least) have a predilection for bloodshed or bloodletting. Even if Zionists do not commit actual ritual murders we all know they love to make Palestinians bleed. Some claim to see nothing inaccurate or disturbing publishing and publicising a cartoon of the Israeli prime minister cementing blood and babies into a wall. Well that is just some cartoonist’s alleged criticism of a leader and his policies; it does not say anything about all Israelis or Jews in general. You see this particular leader happens to be supported by some, how do we put it? Well Zionists who happen to have a tendency to bring about the bloodletting of Palestinians. Perhaps what cartoonists or critics might wish to convey is that Israeli leaders or military leaders authorise the use of excessive force on Palestinians, innocent militants and all others, and this well leads to blood loss. So you see, just being figurative, it is as if the Israeli authorities themselves actually made the Palestinians bleed, rather than the naughty soldiers who were just obeying orders. To use a well known phrase we could say that Israeli prime ministers, military leaders, supporters and the Zionist lobby in general have, what is colloquially termed ‘blood on their hands’.
We are killers, we support killing. We cause killing. We just love to spill innocent blood.
Yet in recent days we have seen a case of someone with literal and figurative blood on their hands. These are not mere upsetting images, conveniently and poignantly conveying multiple layers of meaning to the world. This is not the work of some hidden plot nor simply the outcome of deranged or evil teachings on naive young men. Here stands a killer with blood on his hands, the blood of the victim he has purposely and knowingly murdered.
Those who commit acts of intentional terror are not disaffected protesters. They are literal and culpable murderers. Those who hide behind rhetoric that demonises Jews, Zionists or Israel or western society and its leaders, should look at the savagery of evil these murderers. The blood is on the hands of those who spill it, defiantly and proudly. It is not on the hands of those you blindly accuse by burying them in metaphors and idioms. The anti-Israel rhetoric is the empty combination of twisted expressions and metaphors. There stands the stark reality of the evil in our world, with actual blood on actual hands!
One of the hardest things to do is to convince an intelligent person to stop acting like an idiot.
The alleged attacker allegedly attacked the alleged victim with an alleged knife in an alleged location. The alleged victim is alleged to have died, allegedly as the alleged result of an alleged attack upon him by an alleged attacker, as has been alleged by alleged witnesses to the alleged attack who it is alleged allegedly witnessed the alleged attacker allegedly attacking the alleged victim with an alleged weapon in what they alleged, it is alleged, appeared to them, to be allegedly an alleged fatal attack in which an alleged victim alleged to be an alleged male allegedly died as the alleged result of an alleged attack by an alleged attacker upon what is alleged to be him.
There is a furore about Professor Hawking’s boycott of an Israeli conference. Whatever his motivation may be and whatever criticism may be levelled at him it is important to note that his stance on the matter is not relevant to the justice of the cause for Israel and Zionism. It is always helpful to any cause or petition if a prominent name or title denoting importance is enlisted. Letters to the editor from panels of the highly educated academics and intellectuals may add gravity to the cause in question but they do not, in themselves, improve the veracity of the argument put forward in the letter. If in tomorrow’s Times an open letter appeared signed by a host of the post doctoral great and good lending support to the thesis that the world is flat the world would not become any flatter than it actually is. Some would be tempted to give the matter some weight on the basis of who signed the letter, but it is highly unlikely that Nasa would re-evaluate its calculations before sending its next mission into space.
This scenario may seem fanciful. However many intellectuals and clever people support causes that are as just as belief in a flat earth.
When a leading intellectual is used to support a political or other cause we should pause. We must separate the gravitas he or she lends to the cause from the rightness of that support. The temptation for many is to accept the justice of that cause because it has a supporter of such intellectual stature that the cause must be correct. Separate the celebrity from the argument and from the title. The fact that some good looking celebrity uses a product may help market the product, but it does not enhance the product’s performance.
The anti-Zionist Israel bashing movement has many prominent and clever people in its ranks. Some are better informed than others. The mere fact that someone has intellect, education, knowledge or awareness does not make them right. Clever is not the same as good. The Torah asks that we be good. No distinctions appear to be made requiring a greater degree of good from the more intelligent, or exempting the less clever from striving for righteousness. In the Passover Haggadah we encounter a comparison between two opposite sons. The counterpoint to the wise son is the wicked son. No less a figure than the Maharal of Prague questions this. He points out that the opposite of the wise son ought to be the stupid son, not the wicked son. These two sons are intellectual equals. The level of IQ makes no difference to their moral qualities. The distinction is that proper focus of the intellect, when it is orientated towards truth, leads to wisdom, while the opposite focus towards falsehood leads to evil.
Literature and cinema are filled with examples of evil genius. A Bond villain has to be a sophisticated but twisted genius with a technological Behemoth at his disposal. 007 is not the right guy to take on Godzilla. No one has any trouble recognising the bad guy in fiction. In some hidden corner of the world he has amassed weapons of mass destruction, teams of mercenary and devoted soldiers, augmented by the best and brightest scientists that no one in the rest of the world misses. It takes a good brain to be able to go undetected in building a hidden metropolis of universal homicide. The downfall of these villains is always a flaw that a savvy good guy like Bond can exploit.
We recognise this character in fiction, but we find it harder to recognise him in reality. Academics who jump on the bandwagon of Israel bashing are not Bond villains. Nor are many of them malevolent hate mongers. Despite their scientific or academic prowess they often blindly accept the vicious slander and rhetoric directed at Israel. They seem unable or unwilling to recognise the numerous inconsistencies, double standards, hypocrisy and vitriol of the anti-Israel movement. While their celebrity lends apparent legitimacy or justice to the cause they contribute nothing to the reality.
A simple individual who views the situation objectively without vested interests or prejudice will see the truth readily. History has seen millions of great minds that have all clung to untenable and ridiculous ideas. There is a great distinction between possessing intelligence and using it.