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Is it good for the Jews?

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The Western world has had relatively few national leaders who were unambiguously 100% Jewish in ancestry, upbringing, religion, and ethnic identification. The American presidency, for example, remains remarkably WASP-dominated.

But going back to Queen Victoria’s favorite prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, who identified strongly as a racial Jew while espousing Anglicanism as his religion, there has been a growth in the number of national leaders who have some claim to being at least a little bit Jewish. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is representative of this broad trend: one of Sarkozy’s four grandparents was Jewish (he was raised in that grandfather’s house, and was closest to him).

As time goes by and there are more products of mixed marriages, a larger fraction of national leaders seem to have some Jewish roots. My impression is that in the 21st Century, part Jewish national leaders tend to be found more right-of-center than left-of-center, but I could be wrong about this.

An even fuzzier example than Sarkozy is the new Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

From the Israeli newspaper Haaretz tomorrow:

Jewish Australians Welcome New PM, Malcom ‘Moishe’ Turnbull

Turnbull, who deposed Tony Abbott as Australia’s premier on Monday, claimed in 2013 that he may have Jewish roots and has long been a staple at Jewish community functions.

Dan Goldberg Sep 17, 2015 12:02 AM

It was a balmy summer’s night in late February as a throng of Jewish guests gathered at a prestigious yacht club in one of Sydney’s most exclusive harbor-side suburbs. … it was Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull who stole the show.

His off-the-cuff speech was vintage Turnbull: charismatic, witty, and, as always, audience appropriate – in this case, with lashings of Hebrew and Yiddish.

“As you all know it’s a standard blessing when somebody celebrates a birthday … to say ‘Biz hundert un tsvantsik,’ which means for those whose Yiddish is not up to scratch, ‘May you live to 120’,” Turnbull said.

The audience lapped it up. He was holding court inside his own electorate of Wentworth, home to the largest Jewish population in Sydney. And he was speaking just down the road from his $50-million waterside mansion in Point Piper, a stone’s throw from shopping-mall mogul Frank Lowy and a coterie of Sydney Jewry’s A-list, many of whom Turnbull befriended.

“My birthday message to the Jewish News today is ‘Biz zvai hundert un fufzik – so that’s 250 years,” Turnbull quipped, before signing off with some Hebrew: “Kol Hakavod [congratulations] on this great achievement and I look forward to many, many more issues of the Australian Jewish News.”

The following morning the Sydney Morning Herald reported on the function, stating: “The event followed reports than Mr. Turnbull now has sufficient numbers to mount a challenge to Mr Abbott in the Liberal Party room.”

Fast forward seven months. On Monday night Turnbull, who claimed in 2013 that he may have Jewish roots, finally deposed his more conservative rival in a surprise coup. …

Turnbull, 60, was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford before successful stints as a journalist, barrister, merchant banker and tech entrepreneur. He first won his seat for the Liberal Party in 2004, and is a progressive who supports gay marriage and an Australian republic.

His net worth was estimated by Business Review Weekly at $186 million in 2010. Now he has the keys to the prime minister’s residences at Kirribilli House in Sydney and The Lodge in Canberra, which some media outlets have noted may resemble a downgrade in his lavish lifestyle.

His first major task will be to name his ministers. Josh Frydenberg, the sole Jewish MP inside the government, was an Abbott loyalist and, as parliamentary secretary to the PM, had little choice but to back his former boss. But some have speculated he may not be sacrificed when Turnbull declares his new frontbench this weekend.

Ironically, this week’s political drama was played out as most of the nation’s 110,000-plus Jews were celebrating Rosh Hashanah.

“There was a real buzz and an air of excitement,” Central Synagogue’s Rabbi Levi Wolff told Haaretz. “He’s a very, very dear friend and someone who has a huge amount of support from the community. He really does have an understanding and knowledge of Judaism that probably the average congregant doesn’t have.

“In my shul, he’s referred to as Moishe Turnbull.”

But a senior Jewish leader, who declined to be named, told Haaretz: “The rabbi gave him a huge rap in shul, as our very own Jewish PM – it’s bullshit,” he said.

The source, an associate of Turnbull, added: “I don’t think it’s in his interests to play his Jewish roots up. I don’t think it’s a line that should be pushed. He wasn’t brought up Jewish and hasn’t established connections with Jews because of his roots.”

A practicing Catholic, Turnbull claimed in 2013 he may have Jewish roots. “My mother always used to say that her mother’s family was Jewish,” he told the Australian Jewish News.

“There is no doubt that the strong traditions of family and the whole heimishe [homely] atmosphere of the Jewish community, which I’m sure some people don’t like, for me – as someone who is a good friend, but not part of it – I find very admirable.”

Turnbull last visited Israel in 2005, and has long admired Israel’s hi-tech innovation, dubbed Silicon Wadi, conceding that Australia was unlikely to catch up with Israel. “I don’t know that anyone can replicate the secret chicken soup of Israel,” he told the Australian BRW magazine in 2013.

A crucial policy issue for the future of Australia is preventing more Camp of the Saints flashmobs from influxing into the country, as is currently happening in Europe, and was happening under the previous leftwing government. The conservative PM whom Turnbull deposed, Tony Abbott, did a good job of building a humane but highly effective naval blockade to prevent illegal immigrants from coming to Australia by boat.

Australia in recent months has been a light unto the nations.

Nobody, however, seems all that sure what the new PM will do about that. Presumably, it’s not a big priority for him one way or another.

It would be tragic for the citizens of Australia if some cloakroom politics like this over other issues led, in a fit of absentmindedness, to a massive Camp of the Saints.

One reason to worry that Turnbull, a former managing director of Goldman Sachs in Australia, would be inclined to err in the direction of making Merkel’s Boner is because, coming from a fairly Jewish cultural environment in his wealthy home constituency, he’s likely to have been exposed to a lot of unthinking schmaltz about the glories of mass migrations into gentile nations.

That kind of lowbrow ethnocentric sentimentality shouldn’t be a major problem for setting national policy, except … that nobody is supposed to critique and satirize, or even notice, Jewish biases.

So, a lot of important people who haven’t thought hard about immigration policy assume that all this stuff you hear all the time about “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses” really is the Unquestionable Wisdom of the Ages instead of just being a simpleminded, obviously self-interested schtick that deserves eye-rolls and snickers rather than credulous respect.

Here’s a rare example of somebody with enough self-confidence on the ethnic front to make fun of today’s Reigning Schmaltz:

 
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With Muslim terrorists committing anti-Semitic massacres in France and Denmark earlier this year, and Middle Eastern and African youths routinely harassing Jews on the street in European cities, one might think that facilitating another massive influx of Muslims, along with all the chain migration to follow, would be considered not good for the Jews.

Some Eastern European countries have offered to accept persecuted Syrian Christian refugees, but not Muslims. You might think that would be considered a reasonable compromise good for the Jews, right?

But that is simply unthinkable to the current mind. The important thing is not to do practical things to help actual European Jews, the important thing is to stick to the Narrative and follow out its symbolic logic. Thus, from the New York Times:

Hungarian Leader Rebuked for Saying Muslim Migrants Must Be Blocked ‘to Keep Europe Christian’
SEPT. 3, 2015

Open Source
By ROBERT MACKEY

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, was criticized online and in person on Thursday for writing in a German newspaper that it was important to secure his nation’s borders from mainly Muslim migrants “to keep Europe Christian.”

“Those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims,” Mr. Orban wrote in a commentary for Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung, a German newspaper. “This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity.”

“Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian?” Mr. Orban asked. “There is no alternative, and we have no option but to defend our borders.”

Before meeting with Mr. Orban on Thursday in Brussels, Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, which represents European Union leaders, thanked him for securing Europe’s borders, but took issue with the argument of Mr. Orban’s opinion article.

“I want to underline that for me, Christianity in public and social life means a duty to our brothers in need,” Mr. Tusk said as he stood alongside Mr. Orban.

“Referring to Christianity in a public debate on migration must mean in the first place the readiness to show solidarity and sacrifice. For a Christian it shouldn’t matter what race, religion and nationality the person in need represents.”

Mr. Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland, drew attention to his rebuke of the Hungarian leader on social networks, and his office posted video of his comments on YouTube.

Mr. Orban waited until the end of the day to respond to Mr. Tusk. At a separate news conference in which he faced reporters alone, he reiterated the theme of his article, that Europe was at risk of being “overrun” and had to shut its borders. The Hungarian prime minister argued that European countries had no obligation to accept most of the migrants, as “the overwhelming majority of people are not refugees because they are not coming from a war-stricken area.”

“Our Christian obligation is not to create illusions,” he said. …

Mr. Orban’s formulation echoed notorious remarks made by the poet T.S. Eliot in 1933, another moment in history when Europeans expressed fears of being overwhelmed by a “flood” of non-Christian immigrants.

The Real Enemy

The highest priority must always be to defeat the real enemy, T.S. Eliot.

Of course, you can’t stop T.S. Eliot in the past without getting a few more kosher supermarket shoppers and bat mitzvah security guards murdered by Muslim thugs in the future. But the deaths of these Jews will, apparently, be a small price to pay for not having to consider whether diminishing marginal returns have started to set in for our era’s dominant ideological obsessions.

Never forget: It’s always 1933.

Thus, from the New York Times once again:

Treatment of Migrants Evokes Memories of Europe’s Darkest Hour
By RICK LYMAN SEPT. 4, 2015

BUDAPEST — In Hungary, hundreds of migrants surrounded by armed police officers were tricked into boarding a train with promises of freedom, only to be taken to a “reception” camp. In the Czech Republic, the police hustled more than 200 migrants off a train and wrote identification numbers on their hands with indelible markers, stopping only when someone pointed out that this was more than a little like the tattoos the Nazis put on concentration camp inmates.

Razor-wire fences rise along national borders in Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary and France. Many political leaders stoke rising nationalism by portraying the migrants as dangerous outsiders whose foreign cultures and Muslim religion could overwhelm cherished traditional ways.

“It was horrifying when I saw those images of police putting numbers on people’s arms,” said Robert Frolich, the chief rabbi of Hungary. “It reminded me of Auschwitz. And then putting people on a train with armed guards to take them to a camp where they are closed in? Of course there are echoes of the Holocaust.”

Europeans are facing one of the Continent’s worst humanitarian crises since World War II, yet many seem blind to images that recall that blackest time in their history.

This migrant crisis is no genocide. The issue throughout the Continent is how to register, house, resettle or repatriate hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees, a daunting logistical challenge. But perhaps not since the Jews were rounded up by Nazi Germany have there been as many images coming out of Europe of people locked into trains, babies handed over barbed wire, men in military gear herding large crowds of bedraggled men, women and children.

At the same time, the images may reveal a deeper truth about Europe and its seeming unpreparedness for a crisis so long in the making: While extolling the virtues of human rights and humanism, it remains, in many parts, a place resistant to immigration and diversity.

As a result, some here are reacting in ways that recall some of the Continent’s darkest impulses.

“They must be oblivious because who would do that if they had any historical memory whatsoever,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “It’s amazing, really. Certainly those images of the trains can’t help but conjure up nightmares of the Holocaust.”

Rabbi Frolich was especially struck by the lies used to manipulate the migrants.

“They tell them that the train was going to Austria and then take them to a camp instead,” the rabbi said. “I don’t think the police got instructions from the government to do it this way, but it is very similar to what happened to Jews in the 1940s.”

Jan Munk, chairman of the Jewish Community of Prague, was inclined to be generous in his interpretation of the episode.

“I understand the reasons why the police marked migrants with numbers,” he said. “They are under a lot of pressure and stress and simply did not realize the connotations it would have. It was indeed tasteless and reminded me of the numbers at Auschwitz, but I know it was not done on purpose.”

But for others, the fact that it was not done on purpose was even more frightening, showing a puzzling historical disconnect in many of the very places that the Holocaust caused the deepest devastation.

“It may be correct that they didn’t know, but the insensitivity and the ignorance of the imagery their actions evoked is stunning; it’s just sickening,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, in New York.

The T.S. Eliot Menace is the important thing, not the future of Europe.

George Orwell famously stated: “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

But those who control the present may not actually get a future they will like if they are so focused upon symbolically smiting their enemies of the past that they blind themselves to learning from the present.

 
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Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.


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