I was planning to write in a few more weeks, but as I will be away, and as things are heating up in Israel, I will instead compress the next planned three parts into this installment. As I will need to write quickly, I apologize in advance if I am unclear and incomplete. I wish I could do a better job now.
Vienna Mike disagrees with my call not to vote in Israeli elections, in one detail. He suggests that a Medinat Yehudah Party (MYP) should be introduced soon. As Rumsfeld would say, there is an important known unknown here. I certainly agree with Mike that there needs to be an MYP at some point. The issue for me is whether the negative consequences of voting for Israeli MKs (i.e., the effect of voting on the voters themselves, and the legitimacy that voting confers on the regime as far as both domestic and foreign publics are concerned) are offset by the benefits of such a party. If Jews were Muslims, I would side with Mike regarding the issue of timing. Muslims are expert at playing double games, as lying is central to their cult. Can Jews who still mostly think of themselves as Israelis do so as well? If the wearing of Beged Ivri can insulate the early party members from the socialization as Israelis that elections produce, and if the benefits used by the Israeli elites to co-opt party members will not affect the MYP members, such a party would be a good thing even early on. We must keep mind, however, that yet another ignorable party is no advantage. Such a party will be taken seriously only when “outside” forces so disrupt the regime that the party can be a solution to the problem of disruption. If Mike thinks that getting such a party in place now, and keeping it running with a skeleton crew, is advantageous, then so be it. But for the average Jew, voting, except for the MYP, should be strongly discouraged, or so I think.
MORE FROM SCHATTSCHNEIDER
In Part 1, I discussed the scope of conflict. To this I now add another key idea: the displacement of conflict. Briefly, a given fight will tend to be about only one thing. Yet an aggregation of people will naturally have multiple agendas. However, the only way to prevail is to suppress (displace) all agendas, all potential conflicts, in favor of the one that is the purpose of the fight and the larger war. Knowing this, we can expect the Israelis to attempt to highlight various disagreements among Jews. This must be avoided. Naturally, we must in turn make sure that the enemy is fragmented, that all sorts of agendas are put into play.
A MODEL OF A POLITICAL SYSTEM
Mike wants me to get concrete, but sometimes theory is useful in supplying a framework for action. I have condensed the following discussion to make it short, but it is not simple. That said, Jews should not be overwhelmed by a little complexity.
First, some definitions. By a system I mean a set of interactions that can be seen as distinct from an environment consisting of all other interactions. A social club, for example, could be identified easily enough by finding those members who attend at particular times, by the subject matter covered, the location, and so forth. It is therefore a system. By a political system I refer to that set of interactions that bear on the authoritative allocation of values. By authoritative I refer to Max Weber’s distinction between power and legitimate power (authority). The values to be allocated are both material (e.g. money) and nonmaterial (e.g. spiritual). A political system can only persist if demands for benefits (values) are satisfied to an extent sufficient to continue support for the system. Demands stress the system, threatening its equilibrium; to restore equilibrium, the key actors and institutions must respond either by supplying what is demanded or suppressing the demands in some way. Such responses are political outputs.
A political system is open in that events from the outside influence its behavior. Demands are a key part of that outside influence. But where do demands originate? Sometimes their origin is clear, coming, for example, from the outputs of the economic system. Those who do not earn the income they think is fair are likely to demand economic reforms. Capitalism is appealing for so many because it efficiently converts labor and resources into values. Plausible threats from outside a country will lead to demands to address these threats.
Just as important, though, are the spiritual values that are part of a cultural system. Wearing “Israeli” clothes can be seen as part of that system. A belief that the government is holy, that rabbis are to be treated with kid gloves whatever their perfidy, that the IDF is a Jewish army—all of these things are part of a cultural system. A cultural system interprets an often ambiguous reality; it supplies rituals, catchphrases, and ways of resolving conflicts.
So far, I have mentioned social systems such as economic systems and cultural systems. We need include only one more: psychological systems. Whereas social systems relate to observable actions, and cultural systems relate to interpretive frameworks that are shared, psychological systems operate, obviously enough, in one’s head: fear, pride, piety, avarice, love, laziness, indifference, and so forth.
Is any of this discussion useful? Some of you may be wondering why I have bothered with an abstract discussion when there are Jews who may soon be kicked out of their homes in Yesha, or hit with missiles, or murdered by Muslims. I maintain, though, that if we can come to grips with what a political system is, we can begin to determine what concrete actions can be taken to alter it. A political system is in a dynamic equilibrium: it is stressed by demands and then produces political outputs to return it to its steady state. In a nutshell, what we must do is to so disrupt the political system of Medinat Israel that it cannot return to its previous steady state. Rather, it must issue wholly new political outputs, one of which is strong support for Medinat Yehudah. According to this analysis, anything that is not concretely connected to demands and supports is irrelevant. Thus, what we cannot do if we want to succeed is (1) cry out to Hashem, (2) meet IDF members (even those who live next door) with hugs, tears, and pizzas, or (3) fret about sexual purity. None of these acts or feelings will disrupt Israel’s political system. Indeed, a focus on such things is probably a direct result of manipulation by the political elites to suppress demands for decent, let alone Jewish, government. Israel is politically stable because it is kept stable.
Interfering with the Israeli political system’s ability to meet or suppress demands is thus key. We must focus on those aspects of the system that are most susceptible to alteration, keeping in mind that each intervention we launch—each fight—must be waged so as to include on our side those who are needed and exclude those who could oppose us from the fight altogether (see my last post on the scope of conflict).
Given this framework, we now can see the value of non-violent direct action. By its nature, such action is capable of bypassing the mechanisms that keep a political system in equilibrium. It can do so by disrupting the patterns of group interactions (the social system), norms and rituals (the cultural system), and individual calculations (the psychological system). Let’s get specific.
How could Jews oppose a new expulsion? Because MKs are not directly elected, they have no interest in opposing the source of their payoffs. Voting itself does nothing important. The Knesset, as it exists now, will only provide “democratic” cover for a new expulsion, complete with pronouncements and posturing. The Knesset would be useful only if the government could be made to fall by enough parties dropping out. To achieve this, we would need to find those parties that are vulnerable to non-violent direct action. The most logical starting point would be the so-called religious parties, in particular, Shas. As Eidelberg has recently noted, the only time an Israeli government has fallen has been because of Shas.
The Supreme Court? Maybe if there were groups “unaffiliated” with MYP that could plausibly threaten the sweetly regular lives of members, the court would be useful. However, until court members can expect to be awakened at night by loudspeakers calling them traitors, until the horrible Beneish can be hounded at restaurants in N. Tel Aviv, her table splattered with “blood” of dead Jews, with the spectacle being taped for the outside world to witness, even seeking a “ruling” would only result in delegitimizing opposition to an expulsion, as we know how the “ruling” will go. The best we could probably achieve now is inaction by the court.
I suggest a first focus on the mechanisms that support the political system but are not directly a part of it. Two promising candidates are the media and the IDF. So far as we know, in all societies with established media, the media frame what a political event is about. Most people, after all, have no direct interaction with important political events. Their information is provided by intermediaries. Politics, as Lippman has said, consists of “pictures in one’s head.” Media also set agendas by focusing on certain issues and ignoring others. In Israel, the media, by generating catchphrases and blurbs and reporting selectively and dishonestly, create a version of events that make the Yeshites into dangerous, fascist religious fanatics who oppose peace, want to make Israel a theocracy, and only care about their own kind. Media thus create support for the regime’s attempt at expulsion and suppress demands in the majority for retaining Yesha. Knowing what the media will say and do, we need to be proactive.
The best modern example I know of involving the use of non-violent direct action related to despised groups (and that is exactly what Jews are in Israel), with a particular focus on the media, is the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), founded by Larry Kramer in New York in 1987. Kramer is a Leftist, as most effective activists have been in the US, but we can learn from the techniques he and his entourage deployed just as we can learn from Mao. Before discussing this group’s style, I will provide just enough context to understand the dynamics. I am sure that you, dear reader, are as sympathetic to gay men with AIDS as they are to our struggle. The point is that there are instructive parallels.
The sorry history of the AIDS epidemic prior to ACT UP is chronicled in Shilts’s book And the Band Played On. Those who read this book will find much that is eerily familiar, so long as one substitutes “settlers” for “gay men with AIDS”: repeated futile efforts by gay activists to induce governmental action in publicizing AIDS was met with institutional obstruction; there was resistance and hostility by self-involved and self-promoting gay men who thought people like Kramer were crazy, internally homophobic, and “sex-negative” and who thus opposed efforts to reduce the spread via such sensible measures as temporarily closing bathhouses; there was indifference and outright obstruction from supposedly liberal newspapers of national scope (especially the New York Times) and gay newspapers (e.g. the New York Native), the former of which would not even mention AIDS on the front page; there was benign and not-so-benign foot-dragging and academic in-fighting from governmental agencies entrusted to protect public health (the Centers for Disease Control and the National Insitutes of Health) or regulate the development of new drugs (the FDA); and there was a refusal to publish early findings in the main medical journals (e.g., The New England Journal of Medicine) because double-blind trials were not yet completed. There were a small number of heroes, but they lacked political clout and know-how. Ultimately, money and attention started arriving when, by 1985, celebrities like Rock Hudson and Liberace were known to have AIDS. Suddenly, media channels were covering the issue and Hollywood biggies were organizing foundations to fund AIDS research (e.g., Elizabeth Taylor, who was made national chairwoman for the American Foundation for AIDS Research). Before proceeding—as the main point of this story (ACT UP) hasn’t mentioned—let’s compare this situation with the Jews’ predicament.
Ever since parts of Eretz Israel were liberated in 1967, Israel’s establishment politicos have been trying to give it back to Muslim control. Even elites who do not understand that Islam is the religious analogue to AIDS must know by now that Arabs, carriers of Islam, are deadly to Jews. But then, Jews are as popular among Israeli elites as gays were (and, to an extent still are) among non-gays. R’ Kahane’s reception can be compared with that of Larry Kramer. The vilification of Kahane occurred not only from the Left, but from the so-called Right, a coalition ultimately banning Kach. This vilification occurred in the US media as well, including supposedly believing, rightwing Jews such as Dennis Prager. The actions of Israeli news sources are also comparable to those in America regarding AIDS. Not a single major news source will tell the truth about Islam and its Arab carriers. Like the New York Native, the Jerusalem Post ultimately sided, in its editorial position, in favor of the GK expulsion, ruining Jewish life and empowering the Muslims. More recently, Arutz Sheva has joined this ignoble company, censoring talkbacks that are deemed offensive to Muslims, and those TBs that do not play nice with the new policy of censorship. So long as the attacks are mainly against Jews, there is effectively a conspiracy of silence, with Jews, not Muslims, being maligned. Then there are the institutional obstacles. In Yesha, the Yesha Council operates to advance Israeli elite preferences, conspiring behind the scenes to orchestrate expulsions, all the while being interviewed and photographed doing the opposite. Of course, the Knesset, Government, and Supreme Court lead the conspiracy. Then there are the leftist anti-Jewish groups such as Peace Now. Yes, there are a few heroes. We can point to Nadia Matar, for example. There is also, as with AIDS eventually, some money to oppose Israeli elite actions. Yet the money is inefficiently spent, going for such things as heating windowless houses in Hevron and printing posters that will be torn down.
Let’s return to New York. As discussed in Kramer’s book, Reports from the Holocaust: The Making of an AIDS Activist, AIDS funds and efforts went nowhere. ACT UP took on as a first priority a fairly narrow mission: to change how new drugs were tested and dispersed. Did it bother to write to the head of the FDA, who was insisting that every “i” be dotted and every “t” crossed in the application process? No. It formed three basic groups: (1) a within-system “Treatment + Data Committee,” (2) a within-system media committee, and (3) a series of ad hoc outside-the-system groups dedicated to non-violent direct action. Via sympathetic doctors and scientists, the first group learned more about AIDS treatment, prevention, and the scientific vetting process than nearly every establishment doctor and scientist—including honchos at the NIH and the FDA. The third set of groups publicly intruded and disrupted professional meetings and conferences held by the NIH, the FDA, Health and Human Services, various unaffiliated AIDS conferences, and so forth. Moreover, news sources who were not devoting proper attention to AIDS were disrupted in newsrooms and on the beat. Particular names of important officials were focused upon, as Alinsky would advise. For example, in an early demonstration, the head of the FDA, Dr. Frank Young, was hung in effigy in front of Trinity Church. Such things had simply never been done to such august personages. Guerrilla theater with fake blood splattered all over the participants by “dying” and “dead” activists halted speeches, leading to arrests. Bush-1 couldn’t even leave to his summer house in Kennebunkport without be located and obstructed. He was furious. The second group organized media coverage. Sympathetic journalists were given tips regarding what would be happening. As the actions were deliberately made colorful by media savvy activists (and thus fun to cover), they were covered. Naturally, as the president is always newsworthy, the action against him made the major networks. As access to news scoops was professionally useful to the journalists, these journalists made sure to provide coverage with the appropriate slant. When the Catholic Church was interfering in New York, some “unaffiliated” activists dropped the “Host” during a service. When opponents who were known to be “secretly” gay started causing trouble, they were “outed.” A long history of actions can be found simply by Googling “ACT UP.”
To sum up: the political system was disrupted. Groups of professionals could not convene their conferences and members could not wrangle for prestige in sedate academic settings anymore. Presidents could not ignore roadblocks with impunity. Journalists could not avoid the fray and indeed were co-opted. This was disruption of overlapping social systems. Norms (see “cultural system” above) governing proper treatment of scientists and doctors were trampled upon when such persons were—in public no less—called murderers and incompetents. Norms regarding respect for religion were similarly trampled upon. Individuals were swayed to support the cause because doing so was more convenient than opposing it. This disruption led “suddenly” to great interest in what the within-system Treatment + Data Committee had to offer. Cooperate with that committee, and one could avoid the “lunatics” in the direct action wing of ACT UP. Naturally, those who cooperated soon “forgot” that they were so recently indifferent. Their better angels mysteriously prevailed. The FDA decided that perhaps pointless delays should be ended and scientific protocols that were never designed for fast-working fatal illnesses could be modified. Drug companies that wanted to stall in order to gain the most lucrative patents decided that playing for time could be very costly. In Kramer’s book we have a most telling comment (p. 191):
In a desperate stuggle to secure their new homeland, the Jewish people in Palestine fighting to establish Israel had an organization called the Irgun. It was an underground guerrilla army, and its members were extremely disciplined and daring. They started fires. They threw bombs. They kidnapped. They assassinated. They executed their enemies. They won.
APPLICATION TO OUR CURRENT STRUGGLE
The struggle for Medinat Yehudah will be much more difficult than anything ACT UP attempted. Unlike the US, Israel is not a democratic republic. Unlike the US, the political elites are willing to order killings, and they cannot be so easily shamed. That said, I suggest that much can be done that has not been done so far. And like people with AIDS, the Jews of Israel can expect, if nothing is done, to be slaughtered. I am not positioned to know some of the key information necessary to wage a counteroffensive. But this is no time for silence. Let’s consider some possible counter-moves to oppose the leaked plan to wage war on Jews in Yesha.
First, we need to recast the Fakestinians as part of a global jihad, which of course they are. Israeli elites, both “religious” and secular, needed to be called what they are: dhimmis. They are not “macho” at all, but spineless cowards. The “New Jew” indeed! While they hate Jews, their dhimmitude is easy to sell publicly. Even the Swiss are more manly. Consistently, though, there must be a second message: the Israeli elites can easily be rid of the hated Jews simply by sending them packing to an autonomous area in Yesha. Since the elites hate Muslims as well, they can solve two problems at once.
Second, the media are potentially vulnerable. Unlike government officials, the media do not live in a bubble of protection. We know how the Israeli media provide cover by shaping issues. We need to identify the key media elites by name. We need to know where they work, where they live, what their schedules are hour-by-hour. These elites need to know that when they refuse to identify the Muslim enemy in their “news” stories and when they attack Jews, they will not have peaceful board meetings. They will not be able to get into their offices without disruption. When they go to parties, they will face insults. Sympathetic journalists need to be given advanced warning so that all can be streamed to the Internet. Naturally, Jews will become expert in Islam to supply needed information.
But third, the media are merely a support mechanism. We need to address the direct sources of elite power. The most obvious is the IDF. There are a huge number of believing Jews in the IDF. They must be persuaded not to serve anywhere so long as there is talk about “freezes” and the like. Later, they must be lured into Medinat Yehudah; they must be persuaded not to serve in the IDF at all. But this will not be possible immediately.
Yes, yes, but how can we achieve massive refusal to serve? Well, are there no rabbi leaders? Such rabbis are now smug in their belief that they are personally inviolate. This must change, as they must “rule” that it is against Torah for Jews to serve in an IDF that makes war on Jews and gives the Land not “merely” to gentiles, but to Amalek. Naturally, the Torah is on our side. Just as scientists thought they could have their conferences and meetings when AIDS drugs were sitting waiting for a line in a protocol to be changed before being tested, so too rabbis think that they can have their gatherings in Har Nof, Meah Shearim, and Yesha while the government prepares to expel Jews. This must change. I defer to those on the ground for the specific rabbis to target, but I would surely think that Druckman would be on the list. But why stop there? We have Amar and “Shades” Yosef as well. They are not Zionists per se, but I am told their views carry great weight. Why do these people believe that they can suck up money while letting Jews be expelled, raped, and killed? Their schedules need to be determined. Their meetings must be infiltrated. Their “courts” need to be disrupted. All of this needs to be caught on video. Are there no Yeshites up to the task? These rabbis should know no peace. But always, they are to be given a way out. They merely need to rule that Jews in the IDF must not expel Jews and must not serve in an IDF that would attempt such a thing. I defer to more knowledgeable readers to determine the ideal targets.
Fourth, the Yesha Council members must be personally targeted. They must be watched and must have no chance to be involved in another expulsion. They should not be interviewed, and journalists who try to interview them should be followed to their homes and embarrassed. Their children should be shunned. Their dinners should be disrupted. They should not be able to pray in public.
This is merely a start.
I’ll supply them when I have more time.