17 Comments

It seems that I have much to learn from the Israelis. Here is an excerpt from Rabi Abba Hillel Silver’s speech at the Waldorf-Astoria in 1943. The last sentences is the most important. It tells me that sometimes I must go forward in faith; that I must empower myself through deep introspection and consideration of the facts. Is this not a Christian perspective?

“The reconstitution of the Jewish people as a nation in its homeland is not a playful political conceit of ours.... It is the cry of despair of a people driven to the wall, fighting for its very life... From the infested, typhus-ridden ghetto of Warsaw, from the death-block of Nazi-occupied lands where myriads of our people are awaiting execution by the slow or the quick method, from a hundred concentration camps which befoul the map of Europe ... comes the cry: "Enough, there must be a final end to all this, a sure and certain end!" How long is it to last? Are we forever to live a homeless people on the world's crumbs of sympathy? ... Should not all this be compensated for finally and at long last with the re-establishment of a free Jewish Commonwealth? Is not this historic justice, and is this world today not reaching out so desperately and so pathetically for a new world order of justice?.. Are we not deserving of it?”

"Are we going to take counsel here of fear of what this one or that one might say, of how our actions are likely to be misinterpreted, or are we to take counsel of our inner moral convictions, of our faith, of our history, of our achievements, and go forward in faith?"

Expand full comment

I am surprised that the Kaplan review doesn't mention the Habsburgs, given how outsized a contribution the Austro-Hungarian Empire made to world culture and science. I am probably biased by my own ancestry there, but still the overall production of just the city of Vienna alone seems formidable, and basically all of it happened in the imperial period.

On the other hand, Walter Scheidel would remind us that the danger of empires is that they tend to overcentralize and suppress Tiebout competition. Modernity would probably have been stalled, not speeded up, if the Pax Romana had survived. Maybe Kaplan addresses this, but the review doesn't AFAICT. Ethnostates are generally bad, but the city-states of the Renaissance were great. How might we build a future with more of the latter and less of the former?

Expand full comment

"Every country has a two-tier health care system. Anyone can get the medical procedures that government will pay for. Additional services go to those who can pay for procedures themselves."

In some ways it's even trickier than that; there's a multi-tiered healthcare system, not just a two-tiered system. I'm thinking specifically of clinical trials: https://bessstillman.substack.com/p/please-be-dying-but-not-too-quickly, which are more available to those with money, but they also depend on learning how the system works and, sadly, how to work the system. My wife wrote the linked essay / guide, which describes both; I've never seen anyone attempt to comprehensively describe how clinical trials work, which is why I encouraged her to write it.

Expand full comment

“The problem for Jews has always been that they are “the other.””

This seems to me an over-generalization. If you draw a line between observant Jews and secular Jews (who are largely indistinguishable from their non-Jewish counterparts), then I think it eliminates the over-generalization. It also seems to me to make clear that there is nothing particular about observant Jews in this respect, and it is really true for the religious, who will always be the “other” in society, since they put into practice their allegiance to a higher authority.

Expand full comment

"Imagine if the Arab immigrants in France wanted to carve out a separate state that included part of Paris, and this state would have its own religious and cultural norms."

This is the future, and probably not even a half century away.

Expand full comment

"Instead, relative to their Arab neighbors, Israeli Jews are still “the other,” and they are feared and hated, just as Arab immigrants to France are feared and hated by part of the native population there."

How do you know who in France hates whom? And this sort of drawing of moral equivalence between Arabs attacking Israel and the French trying to maintain a culture is objectionable and no way to win friends or influence people. Sounds like signaling to your libertarian tribe mates that you are still one of them.

Imagine your reaction if you were reading somewhere that "Instead, relative to their Arab neighbors, Israeli Jews are still “the other,” and they are feared and hated, just as Muslims living in the West Bank t are feared and hated by part of the Jewish population there." Is that all cool, or is it all identitarianism for me, but not for thee, now?

Expand full comment

"He predicts that this will lead Israelis to examine fundamental questions about the meaning of life, just as this can happen to an individual who experiences a close encounter with death."

Do you think the hostility of its neighbors and its status as an ethno-state helps Israelis, even secular ones, to be one of the few high IQ groups with replacement level fertility?

Solving for why Israel is the one big outlier on this is important.

Expand full comment

Modern states can’t afford the prestige hit needed to divest unsustainable provinces. They are defined by the borders of what they can conquer and hold. Imagine America declaring that Texas is just too much, the border is a problem we are incapable of solving, so we’re giving it back to Mexico. The legitimacy of our government would be (even more) in question.

An Empire has options. Divest, allow partial autonomy, trade away the meddlesome province at the next peace conference. Eh, good to see you Moldavia. I’ll probably gift you to Hungary in the morning. How you like that tartar sauce!!

Expand full comment

I prefer to view Jew and Israel hatred as a harsh decree from G-d. I work with it, rather than trying to deny it or control it or mitigate it. People are people, and just like G-d made some of them have a lot of destructive energy, G-d made a lot of them hate Jews.

I wish G-d would decree that manna would descend upon my home so I don't have to make supper, but alas He makes the rules

Expand full comment

"They discuss the Arab narrative, which is that Jews are aliens who settled within Arab territory and then had the gall to establish their own state within that territory."

Not that I think it matters or care much for the idea that ancestral claims have superiority over current possesion as the proper basis of title to land, but as an interesting contextual note, in a comment to another post I mentioned that among those aliens are apparently lots of direct-ish male-line descendants of Natufian Great(400)-Grandfather who plausibly invented the whole Neolithic Package to include beer (you're welcome) in that cave where they found his ten thousand year old bones just eight miles east of Ben Gurion Airport. So, yeah, """aliens""".

Expand full comment