Monday, December 26, 2005


Now I am no fan of the suicidalist trend in Reform Judaism. But neither am I an observant Jew. I am just another Western shmuck, too cynical to be called a neoconservative, who just happens to be Hitler and Bin Laden's favourite machine gun fodder. So my efforts, however principled they may appear, amount to little more than cynical self-preservation, extended to my family, friends, and the wider Western culture of secularism, free enquiry and blondes in g-string bikinis. Oh, and I really enjoy jokes like these.
Anyway, I promised a friend that I would post this as a bit of "fair play" after the Cousin Josh piece that I worry may result in someone's lynching by respectable Christian folk (but they won't lynch me, I am anonymous, bwa ha ha ha ha!)
so here goes, disclaimers and apologies aside:

Consider: A backward, warlike and fractious theocratic state becomes part of a global system due to the intervention of one of the local hyper-powers. These geo-bullies are bearers of Western Culture and its science, technology and social advances. The hyperpower is no democracy, but does carry the legacy of that system, and many of its thinkers are concerned about the wellbeing of all humanity.
Most of the inhabitants of said theocratic state are quite eager to embrace the new and enlightened culture. Even some religious leaders are eager to adapt to the new order, and enjoy its cultural, social and sporting activities.
But all is not well. A provincial religious leader is offended by all this, and declares war, first on his assimilationist compatriots, and then on the occupying power. The religious leaders of this sect are also its most ruthless men of war. The wonders of globalisation are fought against valiantly by a growing army of religious maniacs. The rebels ask "Apart from education, sanitation and irrigation, what else have the hyperpower done for us" ?
The desperate colonial power is forced to take harsh measures, but none as harsh as those employed by the theocratic resistance against their assimilationist brethren. Any atrocities commited by the resistance are ignored. Those commited by the colonial power, perhaps invented or exaggerated are used to great effect as propaganda. Finally, the colonists and their imperfect enlightenment are ejected. The story of the oppression and atrocity wrought by the colonists is remembered. The real story of their positive contribution is not remembered, as the story is written by the victorious theocrats.
Later another colonial power defeats the first one, and takes the theocratic state over again, this time to stay, with theocratic unrest continuing. The theocrats scare the crap out of generations of leaders of the hyperpower. They develop a reputation for being the baddest troublemakers in the empire.

This described two historical situations: Can you guess what they are? I will give you a clue: one has elephants, the other Hind Attack Helicopters in essentially the same role. The effectiveness of the RPG-7 rocket propelled grenade against a charging war elephant, a natural question arising from this analysis, has not been adressed before to my knowledge. There you go folks. Ground breaking strategic analysis and historical parallels with your latkes.

The moral to the story:

1. Just because our ancestors were backward religious maniacs does not mean we cannot enjoy latkes.
2. The fact that our ancestors were extremely violent talibanesque badasses is actually cool, worth a chuckle, and definitely worth extra sour cream on your latkes.
3. The dreidl was never fun. Ask any Jewish kid. I mean, what's the point ? Further, it is only margially more relevant to Channukah than elves and reindeer are to the Virgin Birth.
4. The quietly magical ceremony of the Channukah lights is still one of my favourite Jewish moments
5. It does not have to make sense

6. You can spell Hanuka any way you like.
7. I am still accepting Christmas presents.

Happy Chanukah.
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