Thursday, December 23, 2004

Europe is a dead horse

I couldn't have said it any better. Mark Steyn in this week's Spectator (via AS):

Americans remain mystified about one of the landmark events of this year: the terrorist bloodbath in Madrid that changed the result of the country’s election. Why, they wonder on this side of the Atlantic, wouldn’t the Spaniards stand firm? But what’s to stand firm for? To fight for king and country is to fight for the future, and a nation with Spain’s fertility rate — 1.1 children per couple or about half ‘replacement rate’ — has no future.

The same could be said of most other European countries, particularly Italy and Germany. As Vittorio Dan Segre once said to me, referring to Europe: "It is an intellectually dishonest exercise to try to resuscitate a dead horse."

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Woody Allen call your office

Actually, life imitates art.
From Manhattan Murder Mystery:
Arthur Bannister: [on the movie screen, The Lady from Shanghai is playing] I'm aiming at you, lover.
Mrs. Dalton: I'm aiming at you, lover.
Arthur Bannister: Of course, killing you is killing myself.
Mrs. Dalton: Of course, killing you is killing myself.
Arthur Bannister: But you know, I'm pretty tired of both of us.
Mrs. Dalton: But you know, I'm pretty tired of both of us.
[On the screen, Arthur and Elsa shoot at each other, breaking mirrors; in the theatre, Mrs. Dalton and Mr. House shoot at each other, breaking mirrors and finally killing Mr. House]
Larry Lipton (Woody Allen): I'll never say that art doesn't imitate life again.

Dangerous and insulting

I have great respect for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and many of his policies. I once met him, about a decade ago, and he seemed to me to be a caring and passionate individual. Generally I believe the Gaza pullout plan will be a positive step in the Middle-East peace process, even though I recognize there are legitimate reservations. It will certainly only go so far as long as this is the Palestinians' thinking (via lgf). It will take a long time and much effort to change that, and I don't see anyone in the Palestinian leadership who has the popularity, courage and desire to see that happen. I guess we have to be happy with small steps.
However it is clear that the situation in the territories is untenable in the long term, both for the integrity of Israel and for the Palestinians. While I feel for the settlers who will have to abandon their homes, this kind of protest is dangerous and insulting. The Holocaust is invoked far to often nowadays, frequently by Anti-Semites. These comparisons are completely out of any proportion and gratuitous and so is the one made by the settlers. It is offensive to the Israelis who want to live in peace alongside the Palestinians, without compromising Israeli security, but even more so to the actual victims of the Nazis. As an observant, Sharon-supporting Jew I am offended.

My sentiments exactly

Finally someone says it: stop stripping Christmas of its Christian content! I'm an observant Jew (and so is Krauthammer) and I just found the "Holiday Tree" in California beat them all. Finally Arnold Shwarzennegger straightened things out. I hope all those who celebrate it have a very Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Why I don't feel at home

This post at Davids Medienkritik, an absolutely fabulous blog, really underlines why I, as a European Jew, feel uncomfortable here.
It boggles the mind that so many Germans don't think that equating the IDF with the Nazis is beyond the pale, let alone subscribe to such a view. From personal experience I can say that I think the situation is not as extreme in Italy, where I live. However, I will soon be moving to Brussels (Belgium) and quite frankly I am somewhat scared. I think I will avoid letting people know that I am Jewish, and I resent being forced to do so to feel secure.

What chutzpah!

The following comment was quoted today by Andrew Sullivan:

EMAIL OF THE DAY: "Your recent piece on the high rate of divorce in supposedly "family values" red states missed an important point, of which I was reminded by today's blog item on teen marriages. I've lived in the South for 30 years. Given the heavy religiosity in this part of the country, there's a cultural emphasis on "no sex without marriage." If you teach your kids to believe in Hell, and then teach them that they're headed there if they engage in sex without being married, you reduce marriage to not a well-considered bond between two adults, but a license for two scared kids to screw. Of course, any marriage entered into out of fear of the devil or of social condemnation typically lasts until the participants find out there's a lot more to life than fucking. Add to that the societal attitude that two kids getting married is a cause for celebration, rather than a life-ruining tragedy, and Christian fundamentalism pretty well foreordains the red states' high divorce rates. It's amazing they're not higher." - more feedback on the Letters Page.

I was taken aback by the tone (and content) of this comment. I can't speak for the Christian "fundamentalist" world, with which I have had little contact, but Orthodox Jews certainly believe that it is wrong to have sex before marriage and that you will go to "purgatory" if you do (there is no such final and permanent punishment like "hell" in the Jewish tradition). Nonetheless, among my numerous Orthodox friends I would be hard pressed to find someone who thought of marriage as a "license for two scared kids to screw." Actually it seems to be humanly possible for even teenagers to occupy their minds with activities other than sex, reach adulthood intact without engaging in it (or marrying to be able to) and find a life-partner at a young age (18-22, not 12 obviously) with whom they are happy and fulfilled. I can tell you that the most intense, stable and loving marriages I have ever observed invariably are between people who waited until after marriage to have sex precisely because "there's a lot more to life than fucking" and they were mature enough to understand that. If in many cases teenagers aren't that mature, I can't imagine that having indiscriminate sex is a better idea than what the commenter calls "no sex without marriage."