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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 8, 2004 / 17 Nissan, 5764

An Overrated Virtue

By Jonathan Tobin


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There's no such thing as an intellectual justification for Palestinian murderers


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | A long time ago, when I was a freshman in college, I sat in a classroom at Columbia University and learned why intellectuals are so dangerous.


The course was the second semester of Contemporary Civilization, or "C.C.," as we called it, the heart of the school's vaunted undergraduate core curriculum that mandated the study of the great books of Western civilization — aka the works of dead, white European males.


But the course also covered the work of Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), the German-born philosopher who became the intellectual hero of the New Left of the 1960s.


Marcuse, a Jew who came to America after Adolf Hitler's rise to power, styled himself a "Marxist humanist," whose work in "critical theory" provided an intellectual framework for attacks on capitalism. But Marcuse is remembered because he set out to "prove" that basic freedoms, such as the right to free speech, ought to be denied to those who opposed the cause of "progressive" movements.


These thoughts were set down in a famous and disastrously influential collection of essays titled "Critique of Pure Tolerance," published in 1965. Anyone who wants to understand the violent student protesters of that era needs to come to grips with Marcuse.

TOO STUPID TO GET IT
In his essay "Repressive Tolerance," Marcuse laid out the case for the repression of all nonleftist thought. This was music to the ears of radicals, who wanted to not merely debate their opponents but shut them down. Marcuse wound up being an apologist for not just a failed economic theory, but for violence in the name of left-wing "ideals" by groups such as the Weathermen.


Unfortunately, my C.C. instructor was a passionate follower of Marcuse and eager to indoctrinate the impressionable minds in his charge. Schooled in the dialectic of both Karl Marx and Marcuse, this teacher was none too pleased with me when I piped up and pointed out that what he was teaching us was nothing more than an argument for dictatorship.


Though he charted out the "logic" of this theory on the blackboard, I still demanded to know the difference between the Nazi claim to a monopoly on power, and that claimed by those whom Marcuse approved of? Eventually, the class moved on, with the teacher letting me know in no uncertain terms that I was obviously too stupid to grasp such a high-flown concept.


Maybe he was right about me, but the history of the last century should have soured all thinking persons on the idea that repression was a good thing. It's a memory that sticks in my craw, but I count it as one of the most important lessons I've learned.


I was reminded of this incident when reading an essay in The Philadelphia Inquirer on March 31 by writer Crispin Sartwell, in which he defended suicide bombers as being selfless and virtuous.


A philosophy professor and nationally syndicated columnist, Sartwell makes the case that those who commit violence for what they believe is a good cause are not merely "heroic," but better than the rest of us, as it shows they're able to rise above petty self-interest.

A MURDERER? SAINTLY?
In a piece so morally obtuse that only someone with a Ph.D. in philosophy could have written it, Sartwell links suicide bombers with the moral heroism of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Abraham Lincoln.


In a telling passage, Sartwell describes how as a youth, he, too, was "willing to commit acts of violence to show the seriousness" of his beliefs. "In fact," he writes, "I did blow up some things (but no persons). And even if what I did was wrong, I did it to show my moral commitment."


Following Marcuse's lead, Sartwell thought his righteousness gave him the right to act violently. But he is not repentant. Instead, he sees himself as "more mediocre" for having packed his bomb-making kit away with his college yearbook.


Sartwell's defense of suicide bombing, and, in particular, the enormities of the Palestinian terrorist organizations, is not incidental to his philosophy. The writer thinks the Palestinian cause can "demand and justify selfless action."

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Using the same twisted logic that my prof tried out decades ago, Sartwell claims there's a big difference between Hitler-types and the Palestinians who plot the mass murder of Jews in Israel. Thought he concedes that the results of suicide bombing are "monstrous," it is, in his bizzaro universe, an act of "moral heroism." These killers are good, because they are sincere and want to help their people, he would tell us. But what he forgets is that — as the Nazis, Communists, contemporary Islamo-fascists and all others who thought they had a monopoly on the truth proved — sincerity is a very overrated virtue. At the bottom of his fatuous philosophizing are a few sentences that assert that Israel's "military and political machine" is a "direct instrument of repression" of Palestinian culture. Too busy branding Israel with the sort of agitprop labels the leftists of the '60s applied to America, he applies no intellectual rigor to determining whether Palestinian propaganda is based in fact, or is, in reality, a jihad to wipe out the Jewish presence in the country.


Sartwell is not interested in the facts about the Mideast conflict, which stem from repeated Palestinian rejections of peace or compromise. He cares nothing about the gist of the intifada, which was chosen by Palestinian leadership in 2000 as a ploy to avoid a two-state solution.


Having branded the Israeli people as criminal oppressors and subtly linked Israeli leaders to Hitler, Sartwell waxes lyrical about the willingness of some to sacrifice their lives to oppose it. Though he throws in a weasel-word disclaimer that he opposes the death of innocents on buses, he's still prepared to declare the suicide bomber a "saint," albeit a "monstrous saint."


To defend himself against the inevitable opprobrium, Sartwell is quick to point out that he's Jewish. To which I answer: So what? Those who claim to wish Israel or the Jewish people well cannot at the same time be neutral about their right to defend themselves.


It is even more infuriating when a piece such as Sartwell's appears in a newspaper such as the Inquirer that highlights misleading coverage of Israel's mea sures of self-defense against terror while downplaying stories about the Palestinians use of children as suicide bombers.


The moral of this story is that clever people can always be relied upon to provide a justification for the indefensible. Far from being harmless intellectual musings, the defense of murder can never be condoned by a truly moral person.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Let him know what you think by clicking here. In June, Mr. Tobin won first places honors in the American Jewish Press Association's Louis Rapaport Award for Excellence in Commentary as well as the Philadelphia Press Association's Media Award for top weekly columnist. Both competitions were for articles written in the year 2002.

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© 2004, Jonathan Tobin