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IEET > Security > Military > Life > Vision > Futurism > Contributors > Hank Pellissier

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Israel’s Value to TransHumanism


Hank Pellissier
By Hank Pellissier
H+ Magazine

Posted: Aug 22, 2010

Imagine this sci-fi scenario: A small tribe with unique literature, customs and myths believes they’ve been “chosen” for a glorious destiny. But they’re driven out of their native land, forced to wander the globe for aeons, persecuted and annihilated, until they’re impelled by a utopian novel to return to their homeland. They name their new city after the inspirational book and their country becomes a technological powerhouse… but still, they’re surrounded by enemies. They wage eternal war, they hover between hope and apocalypse”¦ their contributions to humanity are astounding but they continue to fear total extinction. Familiar? Of course. I’ve described Israel and the Jews.

A four-millennium saga with floods, burning bushes, diasporas, miracles, massacres, temples, pogroms, holocausts, and 180+ brainy Jews receiving Nobel Prizes - 22% of the total awards garnered by only .25% of the population. Today’s Israel - a dynamic nano-nation tinier than New Jersey in size and numbers - is imagination made concrete, the material manifestation of Theodor Herzl’s futuristic, Zion-inspiring 1902 book Altneuland (translated as “The Old New Land” in English, and “Tel Aviv” in the Hebrew translation by Nalum Sokolov.)
Is Israel valuable to Transhumanism? Yes. Even though most Israelis worry about surviving next week and regard contemplation of the year 2025 as impractical because they might be “pushed into the sea” by then. Yes. Even though membership in the Israeli Humanity Plus chapter is only 50-100 with twenty regular attendees. Yes, Israel is a crucial player in H+ and here’s why:


Silicon Wadi

In 1998 Newsweek named Tel Aviv as one of the Top Ten technologically influential cities in the world.Wired and The Economist rated Israel’s high tech region second only to Silicon Valley. “Silicon Wadi” - an area half the size of its California sibling - has over 3,850 startups with 120 companies on NASDAQ, the largest number outside the USA. Israel’s tech success is aided by low-rate government loans for development - Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Donald Trump and numerous global business surveys have all praised Israel’s economic environment. Another contributing factor: well-educated immigrants who arrived from the Soviet Union in the 1990’s, and abundant local grads from esteemed institutes such as Hebrew University, The Technion, Tel Aviv University and Weizman Institute of Science.

Consider this commendable data: The first cell phones were developed at the Israeli branch of Motorola. The majority of Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed by Microsoft Israel. Pentium MMX chip technology was designed at the Israeli Intel. Both the Pentium 4 and Centrino processors were designed by Israelis. Dov Moran, an Israeli, invented the flash disk. Voice mail technology? Israel. AOL Instant Messenger? Israel. Highest percentage of home computers in the world? Israel. Highest ratio of university degrees? Israel. Highest per capita number of scientists and technicians in the workplace? Israel. (145 per 10,000 - second is USA with 85). Techno-progressive President Shimon Peres recently declared, “the future is in nanotechnology.” Israeli universities advance research in cutting edge fields like cognitive neuroscience, cellomics, telomerase, etc. etc.



Petri Dish for Progress

On November 9, 2009, Ray Kurzweil was a guest at the Israeli Presidential Conference: Facing Tomorrow. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu credited Kurzweil for inspiring his “Renewable Energy Initiative” that seeks to replace all fossil fuel with renewable resources - primarily solar - in the next ten years. Kurzweil discussed reverse-engineering the brain with President Peres. The American futurist also proposed using nanotech to solve energy and environmental issues, and he suggested building an entrepreneurial technology incubator that would be shared collaboratively by both Israelis and Palestinians. Kurzweil has the ears of open-minded Israeli leadership. Imagine the impact if (when) his ideas are successfully enacted. Israel’s small size and tech chutzpah make it an ideal laboratory for scientific progress.


Robotics

Israel has on-going military needs and a small population (5.6 million Jews, 1.9 million Arabs). It has responded to this challenge by becoming a world leader in robotic weaponry. In 1981 it successfully utilized its first unmanned aircraft. Since then, it has added unmanned speedboats, unmanned ground vehicles, border guard robo-snipers, camouflaged robot snakes, and a nine-inch tall VIPeR ‘bot that climbs stairs, sniffs for explosives, disarms bombs with water spray, heaves grenades, and shoots hostiles with a mini Uzi submachine gun. Israel’s goal is to robotize one-third of its military machinery in the next 10-15 years. There’s also been non-violent success. Israeli scientists co-developed (with Europeans) the “SmartHand” (a robotic prosthetic hand), and they’ve recently invented a bionic retina implant, “Bio Retina.”

Artificial Intelligence: Michael Vassar of SIAI (Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence) notified me via email that “the main Israelis that pursued work vital to our core mission are Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky… and the computer scientist Judea Pearl for his development of Bayes Nets.” Kahneman (2002 Nobel Prize winner for his Prospect Theory) was born in Tel Aviv. Tversky was born in Haifa. Their collaboration on “Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases” is a seminal work in the Artificial Intelligence field. Singularity essays like Eliezer Yudkowsky’s “Cognitive biases potentially affecting judgment of global risks” are deeply indebted to the Israeli psychologists. Judea Pearl - computer scientist and philosopher - is also recognized as a giant in the field of artificial intelligence. He’s a pioneer in the probabilistic approach to AI and the father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl.



Stem Cell Research

Israel leads the world in stem cell research papers per capita. On April 9, 2010, scientists at Hadassah Hospital achieved a crucial breakthrough. They demonstrated a new technique that can mass produce huge quantities of fetal stem cells. Two members of the Israeli Humanity+ chapter are highly knowledgeable in stem cell research: bio-scientist Dr. Danny Belkin and bio-ethicist Dr. Frida Fuchs Simonstein.



Environmental IQ

Israel aims to be the first nation with a national electric car network - they hope to have it fully operational by late 2011 (edging out Denmark). Its engineers are also developing hydrogen fuel. Israelis are world leaders in desalination and wastewater renewal. On World Water Day (March 22), the United Nations lauded Israel as the planet’s most efficient recycled water user. Tel Aviv University scientists also recently (04/22/10) discovered that ultra-violet nanoscale wavelengths are superior to chlorine for cleaning tap water. Israelis have long been leaders in solar energy technology and they export their expertise around the world. One company just signed a deal to build solar energy farms in California and Nevada. Israel is also unique in the world because every year its population of trees increases.


Science Fiction

Israel has been described as “the birthplace of science fiction.” For chariots in the sky, eco-cataclysms, invisible voices, and other paranormality, check out the Torah. Want a hero traveling through space, searching for the secrets of creation? Examine the apocryphal books of Enoch, circa 300 B.C. In contemporary Israel, “political science fiction” dominates the genre, with the vast majority of successful books using the homeland as a setting. A utopian-intended society tottering on the edge of annihilation is obviously ideal for SF. A partial list of important authors would include Pesakh Amnuel, David Avidan, Dan Zalka, Etgar Keret, Orly Castel-Bloom, Gail Hareven, and Addy Zemach.


Futurist Philosophy

Mordechai Nessayahu’s “Cosmotism” depicts a future in which Israel saves humanity from eco-disasters and nuclear annihilation. Also influential as a Labor Party stalwart, Nessyahu motivated Yitzak Rabin and Shimon Peres to pursue the Oslo Accords peace plan. Shimon Peres published his own visions in “A New Beginning.” He imagines an improved Israel via peace and an information revolution. Equally optimistic is Yigal Arica’s “What’s in the Future?” Niv Ahituv’s “A World Without Secrets” presents a totally transparent world, where all information about everyone is available to everyone.

Tzvi Bisk - author of Futurizing the Jews (co-written with Moshe Dror) and The Optimistic Jew - predicts that Israel will become a model superpower. He says that it will be a “light unto nations,” with one of the world’s highest scientific, cultural, social and economic standards. He also envisions a cyber-Israel, connecting global communities to enlarge the “Jewish homeland.” Recent events have perhaps dampened Bisk’s positivity. In an email to me he remarked, “you may have noticed from media reports we in the Middle East have not yet gotten the humanist thing right yet, let alone the transhumanist thing.”


Young Bright Lights:

Ilia Stambler is a primary organizer of the nine transhumanist seminars in Israel. He’s a 38-year-old PhD candidate at Bar Ilan University, writing a dissertation on “The History of Life Extensionism in the 20th Century.” He’s also an intern at IEET (Institute of Ethics and Emerging Technologies). Stambler notified me via email that Israeli transhumanists are primarily focused on life extension, with the Singularity ranking second in interest. He also reports that “futuristic visions are often underplayed here in view of the more immediate concerns.”
Adi Berman is only 19 years old, but Aubrey de Grey has praised her as “exceptionally bright and intelligent.” A singer/songwriter with her tunes on MySpace, she’s a respected writer on Imminist.org forums. Her emails to me were pithy: “Israelis hope that Israel has a future.” Discussing radical life extension, she insists, “Life’s irrelevant if death overcomes us… it’s natural that we seek unlimited life spans, every organism tries to survive… each having a natural tool to help them: venom, speed, strength, camoflage, etc… we have a BRAIN, a highly developed one, that is our natural tool to survive….”


Defense & Friends:

Israel is a world leader in satellite technology, often used in spying on hostile neighbors. Israel also has nuclear weapons - an estimated 75-200 warheads. It’s got the fourth largest air force in the world and the most impenetrable flight security. Israel’s “best friend” is not the United States, it’s India - a close economic and military ally, and a collaborator on space research. Israel’s also (usually) cozy with China, Russia, Germany and Mexico.


Conclusion

In my opinion, Israel (like South Korea) will be a tiny giant in the world of the future. Both nations have risen triumphantly from near-nothingness in the last sixty years. Although Israel is miniscule and threatened by opposition, it has used this challenge as motivation for advancement. Israel’s diminutive size and gargantuan progress is reminiscent of the small vibrant city states of history, such as classical Athens (rivaled by Sparta, Thebes and Corinth), medieval Florence (opposed by Venice, Milan, Genoa, Pisa and Siena), the Warring States of China (forward leaps in philosophy, metallurgy, government, law and military strategy), Swahili seaports (Mombasa, Malindi, Kilwa, Sofala, Zanzibar, and Mogadishu competed economically as their cosmopolitan cultures blossomed), plus myriad other mighty dwarfs that performed phenomenally under pressure.
I believe that Israel’s future will be as plucky as David with his technologically superior sling. All humanity can benefit from Israeli research and inventiveness as our planet progresses towards a metaphoric “land of milk and honey.”
Hank Pellissier, with special thanks to Ilia Stambler for his patient assistance.

 


Hank Pellissier was IEET’s Managing Director on January-October in 2012, and an IEET Affiliate Scholar. He’s the author of two e-books, Invent Utopia Now and Why is the IQ of Ashkenazi Jews so High? He is currently at BrighterBrains.org
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COMMENTS


Agreed, Nietzsche wrote that the root of antisemitism is jealousy, “Jews have brains and money”, he wrote. Unfortunately, Israel is heavily outnumbered, and hated to a greater or lesser extent not only in every nation outside Israel but also by a minority of Israeli citizens. BTW, the latest agreement for Israeli- Palestinian peacetalks is to maneuver & buy time.





The following corrections are not intended to take away from this wonderful essay:

—“But they’re driven out of their native land, ... to return to their homeland. They name their new city after the inspirational book”

Did you mean country instead of city? Also, what city or country was named after the word “Torah”?

—“and “Tel Aviv” in the Hebrew translation by Nalum Sokolov.)

That should say “Nahum.”





I think this is a fantastic article as long as the reader does not read too much into politics. Indeed, the Jewish people, as an ethnicity, suffered greatly in the lands of the majority through out history—that ethnic memory of hardship probably helped to shape a culture that cultivates hardwork, ingenuity into the young jewish child.

But the Jewish people is not a monolithic entity. There are a lot of Jews who are opposed to Israel’s policies. Einstein, along with many other Jewish luminaries were non-religious and did not identify with zionism, Jewish superstitions, etc.

One of the most passionate article I’ve read regarding the Israel-palestinian issue was written by a Jew who wrote compassionately for the cause of the Palestinians.(I could not find the article again, but I’ll post some links to articles of similar theme) To my mind, the Jews, who are wary of Israel as representative of the entire Jewish race, are not self-hating Jews, but Jews who are educated enough to look into the mirror and introspect. I"ll let u decide—

http://www.ajc.org/atf/cf/{42D75369-D582-4380-8395-D25925B85EAF}/PROGRESSIVE_JEWISH_THOUGHT.PDF


Never think of Israel as the place where a so-called monolithic Jewish race all dream to live in.





this is Hank, the author - I did mean city, and I was referring to Tel Aviv, which I understand to mean “New Land” - the title of Herzl’s book.  I am sorry that I apparently spelled Sokolov’s name wrong.  Thanks for all yoru comments!





This following is a crazy idea; however as the physics professor would say, “your idea is crazy but not crazy enough to be valid”: Israel’s enemies have no intention of giving up their war, as the two ‘sides’ have been killing & maiming each others peoples for too long. There might very well be peace decades from now, yet with the increased quality and lower cost of weaponry the temptation for a settlement by terrorism and war is high. Since Germany created the situation as it is in 2010 (war would be ongoing in such a feudalistic region, but different from today), Germany could reserve a portion of its territory for qualified Israelis; that way Germany obtains gifted immigrants & its responsibility for the Holocaust is erased, while Israel isn’t as isolated—hemmed in.
But the above is fantastic, in the negative sense. War in the Mideast will go on until the older generation dies off.





This is jewish supremacist nonsense.

Jews are not superior to other people.

Jews are not more intelligent than anyone else.

Jews are not better than anyone else.

Jews are not special people.





To Jim of Davis CA.
1. Einstein was a Zionist—Ben Gurion proposed him to be the first President of Israel.  Einstein declined making way for Chaim Weizzmann (another world famous scientist, in addition to being the individual who got the Balfour Declaration).
2. There are a lot of Israelis oppossed to Israeli policies.  I am one of them.  But I do so out of loyalty to certain Zionist principles not in opposition to Zionism—e.g. the settlements in the occupied territories are a bigger threat to Israel’s existence than the Iranian bomb.
3. ALL the major figures of Zionism were secular and called for separation of Synagogue and State—this list includes Herzl, Jabotinsky, Ben-Gurion and Weizzman.

To Hank:
1. Tel Aviv literally means “The Hill of Spring”—a play on the archeological term “Tel” which instead of revealing the past in Herzl’s book “The Old-New Land” reveals the future—not the winter of past Jewish suffering but the spring of future Jewish hope.
2. The book describes an attitude towards the Arab population which would cause much of the current Israeli rightwing to describe Herzl as a post-Zionist.
3. Nahum Sokolow’s great, great grand niece was just denied the right to marry in Israel because she could not proove she was Jewish (the testimony of 4 Conservative Rabbis was not Kosher enough).
4. Israel is both Space Age (the achievments you cite) and Dark Ages (the settlers and the Orthodox Rabbinate).  It is both a constitutional state (unwritten constitutionalism) and a theocratic state (like England—unwritten constitution and a State Church of which the Queen—the head of State).  Unlike England we have not emasculated the real power of religion.
5. The question is will Space Age Israel (Zionism) defeat Dark Age Israel or vice versa





This is a great article! I would say its positive outlook, focusing on high technology, is rather unique. I think such an outlook is vital for the promotion of peace in our region. As someone living in Israel, I can only agree in this regard with one of our prominent industrialists Stef Wertheimer, who believes that strengthening high-tech in Israel and developing joint regional high-tech projects is the true road to peace. People, particularly here, too often get caught in immediate politics, forgetting to look just a bit further into the future. And cooperatively developed and shared high technology, imho, is the way of the future.

http://www.iesiusa.com/index.php/2010/08/11/stef-wertheimers-tech-road-to-mideast-peace/

And indeed, the Israeli society or the Jewish people are far from being monolithic. And that’s an excellent thing. In fact, the ethnic diversity in Israel is one of the highest, including dozens of ethnic groups and immigrants from all corners of the world, each bringing and cross-fertilizing their cultures. In politics too, at one point we had some 40 parties running for Knesset, with often diametrically opposed agendas, particularly on the relations with our neighbors. And that is good too. The plurality of views has been a strong element in Jewish culture, since the Talmud, and may have contributed in no small measure to the development of science and technology. I must admit that the debates are often fierce. But one should also admit that disagreement with a certain policy can be by no means equated with “hatred” of the country, let alone of the entire people. Rather than a monolith, Israel may be seen as a central hub of Jewish culture.

And yes, the original title of Herzel’s book was “Alt-Neuland” (the old-new land). Herzel was actually hoping that we would be speaking German here, to strengthen the relations with the European community and with the Yiddish speaking communities worldwide. One of Herzel’s central mottos was “im tirzu, ein zo agada” in Heberw, or in the original “Wenn ihr wollt, ist es kein Märchen” – If you want this, it will not be a fairy tale. One can hardly think of a better techno-progressive maxim.





> “Israel’s “best friend” is not the United States, it’s India — a close economic and military ally, and a collaborator on space research.”

Indeed, there was a poll: “The Foreign Ministry conducted a poll of 5,215 people from 13 countries described as “central” ones. The poll has found that the people of India are Israel’s best friends, at least among the larger powers: 58 percent of Indians surveyed said that they support Israel. 56 percent of U.S. citizens expressed support for Israel, as did 52 percent of Russians, 50 percent of Mexicans, 48 percent of Chinese and 39 percent of Italians.

Martin Fox, I think you read into the article what you wanted to read. I saw no “Jewish supremicism” here. However, I did see plenty of facts that I know you can’t refute.

Tsvi writes: “settlements in the occupied territories are a bigger threat to Israel’s existence than the Iranian bomb.”

Hank’s article was about facts and figures, not about unprovable assertions.





Hank, Ilia,

How does one reconcile the closed nature of South Korean and Israeli society with progressive values associated with transhumanism? Immigration and integration into both societies is extremely difficult for outsiders.

Additionally, I find it startling that you would find the need to defend not only a country - which smacks of nationalism - but the Jewish people as well to a philosophy that is generally opposed to concepts of racial and national loyalty. It almost seems as if you are arguing to preserve a relic of WWII in the face of evidence that it is both unnecessary (your own statistics refute the need for a Jewish homeland) and philosophically backward (a nation-state centered around race and religion).





Kyle,
First of all I would like to quote Nick Bostrom’s “Transhumanist FAQ”:

“It is unclear why anybody who has a lot of plastic surgery or a nomadic lifestyle is any
closer to becoming a posthuman than the rest of us; nor, of course, are such persons
necessarily more admirable or morally commendable than others. In fact, it is perfectly
possible to be a transhuman – or, for that matter, a transhumanist – and still embrace most
traditional values and principles of personal conduct.”

Indeed, in the world we live in, there are different cultures, traditions, and dares one say countries and peoples. And to ignore this fact, or even try to annihilate all cultural heritages, in favor of some ideal of a home-less, tradition-less, post-human being is, shall we say, rather impractical. It seems to be a much more profitable way to study various traditions and cultures, in order to increase cross-cultural insemination and cooperation. This can only lead to a greater and wider increase of knowledge and, as a consequence, improvement of technology for the benefit of all.

And on the specific point regarding “the closed nature of South Korean and Israeli society” where “Immigration and integration into both societies is extremely difficult for outsiders.” I am not sure what this thesis is based on. Israel is actually a country of immigrants (including myself). Even now, immigrants from virtually all countries of the world and of all colors of the skin represent the majority of the Israeli population. I am no expert on South Korea, but it seems, it is one of the most receptive and cooperative societies, particularly with regard to the exchange of knowledge.





Ilia,

I was not merely citing transhumanism, but the technoprogressive movement. Progressives generally move away from national and ethnic loyalty. Israel’s very creation and continued existence as a Jewish state embodies both nationalism and ethnocentrism in a uniquely intense way.

“A nation of immigrants” is a preposterous statement when most of the immigrants are non-Israeli Jews who become citizens using the Law of Return. Furthermore, you don’t care about the immigrants, it’s on Jews and Israel. In fact, your focus is on Jews in general, with Israel as their avatar, as exemplified by your “180+ brainy Jews receiving Nobel Prizes — 22% of the total awards garnered by only .25% of the population” comment. Are all those Jews Israeli? No, of course not. Most are American and European nationals. Israel has had NINE Nobel laureates.

By viewing ethnic and religious Judaism as the same and then further lumping Jews and Israelis together, you are stripping each group of unique elements of their identities in order to shoehorn them into your ethnocentric/nationalist rhetoric. Your statistics are all correct, but your (and Hank’s) framing is abhorrent.

Israeli researchers and entrepreneurs current work in transhumanist technology is wonderful, but H+ doesn’t need Israel anymore than Phenomenology needs France.





Kyle - Israel is an extraordinarily progressive nation, especially compared to its neighbors. For example, Israel is very gay-friendly, gays have long been accepted in its military and in society.  In contrast, Palestinian gays are persecuted, jailed, tortured and often seek asylum in Israel.  Kyle, I believe you are over-emphasizing the value of immigration and not recognizing the dangers.  I am also constantly amazed at American gays and gay-friendly activists who protest for Palestinian causes, without realizing that they’re simultaneously supporting homophobia.  Are you suggesting that an open-door immigration policy is a requirement in a progressive-transhumanist society?  I respectfully disagree.  If you do some research about the Middle East you will find that Israel is considerably more open than its neighbors.  For example, the last Jews are soon leaving Yemen, and there are no churches in Saudi Arabia.  Personally, I believe progressive nations should have immigration policies that allow new residents in, only if they’re in agreement with the progressive policies of the nation.  To open the borders to narrow-minded bigots is to end up with spectacles like the Gay Pride March in Amsterdam getting heckled and threatened by fundamentalist immigrants.
In regards to the second part of your letter, I am: yes, quite comfortable defending a “nation” and I find your accusation of me as a “nationalist” naively anarchistic.  Your definition of Israel as “philosophically backward” is also simplistic - Israel has a large atheist demographic - about 25-40% - if that is an important qualifier for transhumanism.





Hi Kyle—Hank here again.  I want to discuss two of your statements.  You said “Progressives generally move away from national and ethnic loyalty” and “H+ doesn’t need Israel”—Personally, I don’t see anything destructive about admiring a nation’s achievements.  If we regard nations as entities that exhibit policies and goals to the rest of the world, what is the harm in admiring them?  I am inspired by Germany’s solar energy policy, South Korea’s urban designs, Denmark’s wind energy, Israel’s stem cell research and electric car network, etc., and I think H+ obviously needs the ideas of those nations more than it needs, say the ideas of Myamar or Sudan.  You seem to have a personal loathing of the nation-state but I don’t see that as a transhumanist virtue.  I also see nothing negative about “loyalty” - quite the opposite.  The failure or success of neighborhoods, cities and nations is partly dependent on the loyalty and affection of its citizens. Are you advocating absolute indifference to one’s community?  I don’t think so…





When will people learn that ‘Jew’ (whatever that means) and ‘Israeli’ are not mutually inclusive terms?
I’m pretty sure the word ‘Jew’ is a derogatory word. If we are talking about the people of Judea, we would call them Judeans. ‘Jew’ is a racial slur, one that modern ‘Jews’ use in the same way that African Americans have adopted the n-word in their own culture (though no one else is allowed to use it).
People are opposed to the State of Israel, because it practices apartheid, it is colonial/imperialistic, and because their military is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Not all Israeli’s are even Jewish (religiously), and not all Palestinians are Muslim. It isn’t about religion, really. It’s about the fact that white europeans colonized this land, evicting and destroying as they did it, after WWII.
The IDF RAPES women in Palestine. The IDF kills innocent people all the time. And they get the worlds consent, which is the sickening part.
Those who fire rockets at them from Palestine are no better. To be clear, I’m a pacifist, and I don’t condone killing or violence by anyone. But, I have more understanding for the impoverished Arabs of Palestine, who have been facing military oppression from an illegal occupation for a long time.

Jews and Muslims, in the past, have lived together in peace in Israel many times in history. There is nothing within their respective religions to make this impossible.
This isn’t about religion. It’s about white vs. arab, and that’s what makes me sick to my stomach.

The solution is integration, reparations for the Palestinians, and a one state solution (tear down the wall, don’t build it higher).

Here’s some irony:
If the Jews get Israel, shouldn’t we give America to the Amerinds?





Hank’s original posting can be found on H+: http://hplusmagazine.com/articles/politics/israel’s-value-transhumanism

If you read the comments you will find that the exact same BS flamewar started there as well.

To restate my comments, Hank’s error was attempting to link Israeli scientific achievements into it’s “Jewishness”, and attempting to make a case that those achievements were due to their ethnicity and religious beliefs instead of simply talking about how valuable those achievements were all by themselves.

I don’t support the current Israeli government. I can’t support Jewish “exceptionalism” under any form, be it social, political, or religious, because it is in no way different that the Nazi “Supreme Race”, the Neo Nazi “White Supremest”, or indeed any other form of racial or religious bigotry. The Historical Jews were willing to commit genocide time and again in the bible over this bigotry, and the current government is still suffering from that same overweening arrogance today, as recently demonstrated by attacking an unarmed civilian ship.  (So sorry, but even if you try to claim they had “pipes and knives” an untrained civilian armed with such weapons is STILL no threat to a trained special forces operative)

Sad to say, the majority of the governments around Israel are just as bigoted, arrogant, and driven by religious zealotry as the worst elements in the Israeli government. It’s a tense no-win scenario until that religious hatred of each other can be ended. While Israel holds enormous potential to modernize and bring peace to the region, it’s never going to do so while religious hatreds control the governmental policies it follows.

Simply put, I agree with most of what Hank writes about. In this one, I think he tried a little too hard to be complimentary, and made some very bad errors in overgeneralization. Jews are NOT Israel. Not every Jew supports Israel. Not every Jew IS Israeli, and not every Israeli is a Jew.  Is Israel doing some really nifty stuff? Hell yeah. But it’s not BECAUSE those scientists are JEWS, the two have no correlation.

People are people. The sooner we all realize that fact, and the sooner we stop promoting stereotypes of this sort, the better off we will all be.





Kyle,

First, thanks for the accusations in “nationalism and ethnocentrism”. It reminds me a lot of the rhetoric employed towards the Jews in Stalinist Russia. In case they upheld tradition, they were branded as “nationalists”; and in case they moved away from tradition they were branded as “rootless cosmopolites” and “infiltrators.” The Jews just don’t seem to get a break whatever they say or do. The accusation in being a “closed society” also reminds a lot of the Medieval inquisitorial statements about the Jews being “secretive” and “closed to the outside world” and, as such, they need to be converted to the broader culture of Christianity as soon as possible. You seem to basically argue that there is no “need” for Israel and the Jewish people (as an identity) for the “techno-progressive movement.” The Israeli achievements are ok, but the fact that they were done in Israel bears no relevance. In the same manner you could discuss whether Buddhism needs India, or for that matter, whether democracy needs America. It might be more fruitful to recognize the diversity and uniqueness of particular social contexts and traditions, instead of deciding the “need” for cultures and nations.

And nobody is “lumping” anything together. As I have recurrently emphasized, the cultural and ideological diversity in Israel and in the Jewish society is wide. I have also emphasized the need for international cooperation, through and thanks to the recognition of diversity. I guess my main point is that cultural heritages need to be preserved, as any unique “pattern” whose loss is tragic.

Under the “law of return” you so despise, more than a million people came to Israel in less than ten years, spanning all races, Jews and non-Jews, mostly from disadvantaged parts of the world (about a 20% increase in the country population). Is there anyplace in the world that has a stronger international relief program? Imagine 50 million poverty-stricken people currently immigrating to the US, whatever their identity. That having being said, I personally do support further liberalization of the law of return, which makes me no less of an Israeli citizen.

I abhor any claims to national supremacy by whatever nation. But I think that the fact of the existence of some “brainy Jews” needs to be studied as an ethnographic phenomenon, bearing on the crucial question of “nature” vs. “nurture.” The fact that less Nobelists are produced in Israel seems to indicate the crucial role of the environment in shaping personal achievement. In the case of Jews, imho, this was often the result of prosecution and the need to assert themselves harder than anyone else. Would you imagine any other nation or country that would have to defend its very need of existence for the benefit of humanity?





@ Valkyrie Ice:

“Hank’s error was attempting to link Israeli scientific achievements into it’s “Jewishness”, and attempting to make a case that those achievements were due to their ethnicity and religious beliefs instead of simply talking about how valuable those achievements were all by themselves.”

Captures my sentiment well.





I just finished writing another article about the black power movement in the 1960’s, and I am wondering if “progressive transhumanists” would have told Harry Edwards, Huey Newton, Muhammed Ali and Dick Gregory that they were being “ethnocentrist” in their struggle?  I don’t think so. 

 





I would have, Hank.

Centrism of any type, be it ethnocentrism, religiocentrism, Nationalcentrism, gendercentrism, or culturalcentrism is WRONG.

Period. No exceptions, no, “its okay in this case”

I can’t walk down the street wearing a t shirt that proclaims “Great Moments in White History” without being labeled a racist. I can’t wear one saying “Great Moments in Aryan History” without being labeled a Nazi, or “Great Moments in Islamic History” without being labeled an Anti-Semite, or “Great Moments in Male History” without being a misogynist.

And yet millions upon millions of people see “Great Moments in BLACK history” and fail to see that it is EVERY BIT AS BIGOTED as all those other examples I gave.

It’s not justifiable for ANY side Hank. Hate takes TWO SIDES to exist. And it requires TAKING SIDES to continue.

People are people. We are all unique individuals, and NOT ONE OF US IS INHERENTLY “SPECIAL”.

I may be more intelligent than most of the people around me, but THAT DOES NOT GIVE ME ANY PRIVILEGES OVER THEM. I’m just a person. I may be bigger than 90% of the people around me, SO WHAT? I may be tall, blonde, blue eyed, and of germanic descent, AND IT IS COMPLETELY MEANINGLESS.

People are People. No-one has a right to “superiority” over anyone else, and no-one is “inferior” to another.

And that is the error you made in this article. You made a case for “specialness” that cannot be supported.

I am sorry Hank, but as admirable as the advances being made are, you turned an objective report into an advocacy piece of propaganda.





Now this is what I call 21st century progress..

“Jereusalem rail firm plans to segregate carriages according to gender”
>> http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/23/jerusalem-segregated-train-carriages

Re advanced immigration policies - Indeed every passport is scrutinised by MOSSAD for usefulness in extra-national activities. Now somewhere on this site there was a connection made between humanism and transhumanism? Seems like Israel, (not Jews), has it’s own rules on humanitarian rights and which nationals deem worthy?





Now this is what I call 21st century progress..

“Jerusalem rail firm plans to segregate carriages according to gender”
>> http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/23/jerusalem-segregated-train-carriages

Re advanced immigration policies - Indeed every passport is scrutinised by MOSSAD for usefulness in extra-national activities. Now somewhere on this site there was a connection made between humanism and transhumanism? Seems like Israel, (not Jews), has it’s own rules on humanitarian rights and which nationals deem worthy?





for Kyle and Valkyrie—I am not a “cultural relativist” - I do not believe every culture offers an equal contribution to civilization or transhumanism, and I think most people secretly agree with me, even though they might be afraid of being called a racist or other horrible names.  Every culture is a collection of memes, and those memes may or may not be beneficial to progress. That said, I am also a student of history, which reveals that Jews have contributed significantly to civilization in many places: Spain, Russia, Hungary, Hollywood, and now modern Israel.  Do I think Israel is Jewish?  Yes.  Do I think Israel’s success is due to the fact that it is?  Yes.  Am I a Jew, or an Israeli?  No, I am not.  I just see facts in front of me that add up to obvious conclusions.  This is surprisingly difficult to do if one’s mind is distracted by notions of political correctness.





You can see the hatred in some of the above comments; the posters hide their antisemitism behind analytical objectivity. Today anyone can see how the Jewish people (we can’t write ‘Jews’ because such is not PC) are the universal scapegoats of the world.
If Israelis and the Palestinians do sign a treaty next year, say, how long will the treaty be in force? Five years? ten?





I’m neither a cultural relativist nor a politically correct person Hank, you should know that by now, but I am a strongly opposed to any and every form of exceptionalism that is based on an ideological fallacy.





I think the way this article was written does a huge disservice to the author’s thesis.  I can agree with the idea that some cultures have norms and values that can either promote or inhibit progress as defined by transhumanists.  I cannot, however, agree with the framing of this concept as one intrinsically specific to a particular people or nation-state.  Tell us more about what these people did, not some ‘essence’ that these people contain or were given by ‘divine’ writ, that is just absurd.  You may not have said it in so many words, but the tone of this article, especially the ridiculous opening paragraph describing the Zionist movement as a ‘sci-fi’ scenario and then actually equating it to the reality of Israel, takes away from the informative lesson about creating a culture of learning and progress. 





Tell that to the feudalists in the region.





Hank, you write:

“For example, Israel is very gay-friendly, gays have long been accepted in its military and in society. In contrast, Palestinian gays are persecuted, jailed, tortured and often seek asylum in Israel. I am also constantly amazed at American gays and gay-friendly activists who protest for Palestinian causes, without realizing that they’re simultaneously supporting homophobia.”

Opinions vary. Less privileged Israeli queers don’t necessarily find the society so welcoming. For example, consider Yossi’s take on the matter:

“It’s the center of Tel Aviv which is open for queers who have money and who are consumers or part of the system. It’s not open for poor queers who are coming from Jewish-oriental families, it’s not open for Palestinians, and it’s not open for religious queers. Israel can say one thing, but usually they act differently. The situation here is a lot like in the US, and you wouldn’t say the US is queer-friendly.”

(http://aaron.resist.ca/?q=node/33)

Rejecting Israeli imperialism in no way implies support for Palestinian homophobia. That’s a dangerous false dilemma.





I believe one of the most common objections raised above against Hank’s article and against the whole Israeli issue was about the “intrinsic specificity” of the Jewish culture presumably opposed to the presumably global and presumably non-discriminating world culture. The work, it seems to me, is not about discrimination or segregation at all! Nowhere does the article say anything about transhumanism or progressivism as an “inherently” Jewish ethnic trait. It rather is about the adjustment of techno-progressive philosophy and action to particular national and social contexts and traditions. Also the article on South Korea seems to be a part of the broader project of studying (and not prescribing) such adjustments. It acquaints the wider (mainly American) readership with the different traditions and forms of adjustment. I believe these were actually the fist articles even to mention these countries and communities in relation to transhumanism. It is just a shame that even the mere mentioning of diverging national contexts evokes such a passionate, even aggressive and suppressive response: “How dares he ‘propagandize’ other ‘special’ cultures!”—Talking about the colonialism…

Some of the comments made above indeed make one wonder whether they are not themselves inspired by deep-seated nationalism and xenophobia. They are of course not Anti-Semites, God forbid, they just don’t like anything that Israeli Jews do, especially the self-identification as Jewish or Israeli. Moreover, some of the sentiments presented above by the posters play right into the hands of nationalism. By refusing to see the Israeli part of the story, by ignoring the massive effort of a great part of the Israeli society to promote peaceful coexistence, by ignoring or despising Israeli achievements even if “we did good,” by denying/demonizing/black-labeling Jewish cultural heritage –  they instigate the feeling that “the world is against us.”





This is pure tribalism.
Perhaps we should all go back to our own native ancestral homelands.





http://abcnews.go.com/International/palestinian-claimed-jew-jailed-rape-deception/story?id=11224513

“Palestinian Who Claimed to Be a Jew Jailed For Rape By Deception”

“Two years ago Kashur met a Jewish woman on the street in Jerusalem. He worked as a messenger for an Israeli law firm and like some other Palestinians looking to integrate more effectively into Israeli society had assumed the identity of a Jew. He called himself Dudu, a common Israeli name.

On the same day the two had a consensual sexual encounter in a nearby office building. The woman, whose identity is still protected by law, did not know Kashur was an Arab. When she found out she filed a complaint with police.

Kashur was questioned by police and spent two years under house arrest facing a charge of rape and sexual assault. It was later dropped to the one of “rape by deception” in a plea bargain.”

So…..they sentenced him for lying to get into someone’s pants?
Lol
That kinda shit would never hold up in “democratic” America.
What they’re really doing is jailing him for being an Arab.
A clearly racist motive.

No one here is arguing that Jews (as a religion or ethnicity - whatever that actually means) are not smart, or that they haven’t accomplished great things.
What we’re arguing is against the obvious totalitarianism of the Israeli government, and it’s anti-semitic policies.

Israel is even prejudiced against other Jews, if they’re not Ashkenazi (hank you should look into how they have treated the Sephardic Jews in the past).

Like I said, it’s not about Jew vs. Muslim.
It’s about the abhorrent racist attitude of the Israeli government, and it’s unbridled colonialism.

And I agree with Valkyrie…this article, while not entirely overt about it, has an undertone of exceptionalism for ‘Jewishness’ (whatever that actually means).
It’s this exceptionalism that I take exception to.





The situation in the Mideast is lose-lose: Israel loses, the feudalists win; Israel wins, it brutalizes its minorities… without a buddhist-minarcho-socialist-vegetarian gay-tolerant world, ALL nations oppress their minorities to some extent.
Arab-Israeli peace treaties buy time for outside parties to do damage control; as with the Gazan war a year and a half ago: the war was limited but the willpower for doing another war is there. Belligerents do not spend their lives fighting & hating to cease merely because intellectuals living safely outside of military areas want them to. By all means, encourage another treaty—however be prepared to wait until midcentury when the oldtimers are dead and have taken their animosities with them.





I have two comments to make - 1) I am still reeling from Valkyrie’s dismissal of the black power movement as “racist” and “ethnocentric.” I don’t know how old the readership here is, but I am 58 and I was lucky enough to have lived during the civil rights movement. I have various emotions regarding Valkyrie’s statement, but the main feeling I have is sadness.  Black and brown Americans have struggled immensely for equal rights.  I’ve recently interviewed black activists who were sent 100 death threats, whose dogs were killed, whose wives committed suicide due to stress, whose mothers died of heart attacks due to abuse from whites, etc all because they   saying, “I am black and I want respect.” I urge anyone who is unacquainted with prejudice to inform themselves of the terrible physical and emotional abuse caused by racism in the USA.  Then ask yourself if you honestly believe it is unethical for persecuted ethnicities to work together for equal rights.  I am hoping that the only excuse anyone has for dismissing equal rights movements for persecuted ethnicities is that they are ignorant. Please don’t let yourself be attracted to notions just because they are “new” or have a sweet simplistic symmetry that you find appealing.
This is all relevant to my discussion of Israel.  In case anyone has forgotten, there were 6 million Jews killed in World War II, and Israel was established because it is regarded as a safeguard for Jewish survival.  To accuse Jews of “ethnocentrism” in these circumstances is
so wildly obtuse as to border on cruelty.  Even if Jews historically decided to ignore their ethnicity, their opponents could - and did - decide not to ignore it.  What resulted was genocide. 
2) I agree with what Illia stated above.  I have read the criticisms of my article, with their rather bizarre intellectual arguments, and my conclusion is (like Illia’s) is that the so-called intellectual contentions are, in fact, just hiding hostile emotions.  I can only guess as to what they are, like Illia did, but I think his appraisal was accurate.  I fear there’s some kind of WASPY jingoist American resentment, that Israel is not to be praised, or South Korea either, that instead of noticing others - we, the readers, (white Americans?) are only supposed to praise ourselves, as the superior leaders of future transhumanism. This terror of acknowledging success in others will only promote ignorance. 





I agree with you about black power movements, Hank. On the other hand, I’ve become increasingly dismayed by your comment asking gay Americans to fall in line behind Israel and I’ve written about it over at my blog.

http://queersingularity.wordpress.com/

I think that’s a downright pernicious bit of rhetoric.





@ Hank

It is a shame you fail to see the reasons why some of us responded to your article in this way, could it be anything to do with the way you presented it?

Take for example the following article that I read 4 days ago, before your article was presented here. Perhaps you read this also? I found this article inspiring and in complete contrast to your own, yet can you understand why? Please have a read and compare for yourself.

“Breaking the Brain code”
>> http://www.jpost.com/Home/Article.aspx?id=184708

Heavens knows why you’ve labelled all those who criticise as racist and anti-semitic when the comments clearly state otherwise? You’ve also dragged the South Koreans into this for some apparent reason, when they are perhaps destined for even greater contributions to humanity?





Hank, you got it all wrong.

You can’t seem to separate ‘jewishness’ from ‘israel’.
Most of the criticisms here have absolutely nothing to do with jews, and everything to do with the apartheid, racist, war mongering state of israel.
Jewish people, like all people, deserve to be merited on an individual basis, and not on the basis of their ethnicity, or nationality.

You clearly can’t separate the two issues in your mind.





You are correct, Hank. I remember the ‘60s as if it were yesterday: blacks were treated badly at that time. If many black militants pushed too far it was because if they hadn’t used threats, blacks wouldn’t have had the upper mocbility thay have today.
However, today the situation is more complicated, the Al Sharptons & Jesse Jacksons are cheap demagogues.





Neturei Karta knows the truth.
Both Arabs and Jews have been ravaged by Zionists for a long time. If you truly valued Jews, you wouldn’t support State of Israel.

http://www.nkusa.org/activities/Speeches/20081227.cfm





@Hank

Dismissive?  I rate them as exactly equal with all other forms of discrimination that need to be ended, and that’s dismissive?

Sorry Hank, I know many black people too, was even best friends with a man who lived in the heart of the old “Harlem Heights” area of my old home town, and I recall all too well the outright hatred I had aimed at me any time I would come to pick him up for work, for no reason whatsoever but that I was white.

Hatred works both ways Hank.  You can’t condemn it from one side and support it from the other. Do Blacks have a right to seek equal rights? Yes, but not to the point of “superior rights” And an enforced double standard of it being “okay” for certain actions to be not only allowed, but encouraged from one side, while resulting in howls of outrage when engaged in by the opposing side.

I refuse to engage in that double standard, Hank.  Sorry that you find that reel worthy. If I cannot support a behavior from one side, I cannot support it from ANY side.

So, If I can’t support exceptionalism for the “Aryans” why do you expect me to support it for the “Jews”? If I can’t support hateful stereotypes and rampant bigotry from the “White Supremest” why do you think I will support their opposite versions from the “Black Power”?

I am for STRICT EQUALITY, Hank. WITHOUT EXCEPTIONS.  So no, I WILL NOT endorse exceptionalism in ANY FORM. Be shocked if you must.





This is for SummerSpeak -
for the record, Israel is a gay-friendly nation
in Gaza, gay behavior will get you 10 years in prison
In Syria, it will get you 3 years in prison
in Iran, it will get you executed.
The Jewish religion has proven to be, in the modern world, far more accepting of gays than the Islamic religion.
For me, it would seem logical for anyone interested in gay rights to
be far more supportive of Israel and the Jewish religion than to be supportive of Islamic nations, especially Palestine, Iran, and Syria.
That is how I see the logic. 
Of course, political stances should not be decided on a single issue.
But when the gap is so wide, either:
gay-friendly Israel?
or Iran where gays get buried up their neck and then have walls pushed on them?
it seems like an obvious choice.
But I also disagree with you on the women’s issue as well.
I can’t imagine why women would support in any way an Afghanistan Taliban regime that wants to cut off girl’s noses.
You may think that I am simplistic in my logic, but I find you illogical.
This is not the first time in history that people have had to decide to like or not like a nation based on a human rights issue.  There was apartheid in South Africa. It was wrong, and the perpetrators were ostracized.  There was genocide in Cambodia.  Wrong again, ditto.  Now there are homophobic killers in Iran, homophobic jailers in Syria and Palestine, and “honor killers” and men who cut noses off of girls in Afghanistan. Wrong again. 
You call the Israelis “imperialists.”  I find this preposterous.  They are a very tiny nation that has no interest in controlling the land of its neighbors, except for defensive purposes.  They have never threatened to push the Syrians into the sea.
I know that there are indeed many gays who support Palestinian issues.  I suppose that there is some self-identification in a notion of oppression, or some glamourous Lawrence of Arabia attraction to the culture, but I find it all very uneducated and self-destructive.  If one is truly interested in gay equality, it would be better to spend your time working to end gay oppression in Jamaica, Iran, Barbados, Trinidad and similar homophobic nations.  There is a lot of work to be done and a lot of people who need help.  Two “adulterers” were stoned to death in Afghanistan last week.  Girls are slaughtered in honor killings regularly. I think it is wiser to work for injustice by helping people like that, than helping Palestinians who are essentially controlled by gangsters, and who torture gays by putting bags of feces over their heads and beating them.  It is commendable that you want to work for justice, I just want to make sure you are know exactly who you are working for.
P.S. thanks, everyone, for all the correspondence.  I do enjoy this.





Here’s where you err Hank:

“For me, it would seem logical for anyone interested in gay rights to
be far more supportive of Israel and the Jewish religion than to be supportive of Islamic nations, especially Palestine, Iran, and Syria.”

First, you lump “Israel” and the “Jewish religion” together as though they are one thing, implying that one cannot support one without the other.
Second, you imply that one has to support either “Israel” and the “Jewish religion” OR Palestine, Iran and Syria.

This is illogical.

Muslim culture is also guilty of horrendous crimes, and we do not need to support either them, or Israel….or Chinese human rights violations, or N. Korean human rights violoations.

You set this whole argument up as a ‘you are either completely against Israel, or completely for them’, and that smacks of the propaganda that Israel dishes out.

Guess what?

The Israeli government and military (not the people by and large, though a few of them are guilty as well) do horrible horrible things. So do some of the Muslims in Palestine. So do the Muslims in Iran, Iraq, Syria, etc. etc.
So do the Chinese, the Afghanis, many countries in S. America and Africa.

But, there is absolutely no reason to pull this lumping together bit. Which is sorta the problem with your article to begin with.

As I stated, each and every individual on this planet should be measured by their own accomplishments, not by their nationality or ethnicity. You are clearly trying to draw a picture of ‘Israeli’ exceptionalism, and now that you’ve been called out on it, your getting defensive.

One does not have to condone ass backwards Muslim culture to condemn the violent hatred of Israel. We can condemn both at the same time.

Of course, there are brilliant people in Israel. There are also brilliant people in Iran, America, China…..etc etc etc….in fact, there are brilliant people all over the world!





Hank, did you read the quotation and link I posted from the perspective of queer Israeli radical Yossi? He rejects the characterization of Israel as queer-friendly. Instead, he suggests that it’s only welcoming to privileged queers who support the status quo. This exactly matches my understanding of our status in United States. To modify the Brazilian saying, money straightens. This doesn’t necessarily help queer folks on the street.

The question of imperialism makes up the core of our disagreement. I view the creation of Israel as an extension of that classically imperialist Western presence in the region. It came out of the British Empire, after all. European domination of the Middle East in the nineteenth century is universally accepted as far as I know. U.S. support for and influence over Israel caused it to perpetuate that tradition regardless of whatever other motivations and goal were involved.

This role as vehicle for U.S. control of the region frames my stance toward the country. In context, focusing overmuch on the admittedly horrible governments in Muslim states gives either tacit or explicit backing to continued Western hegemony. I feel people rightfully obsessed with rational thinking often pay too little attention to the importance of positioning in these matters.  As an American, it’s my duty to frist end the oppressive system I unfortunately participate in. Telling the Palestinians what to do or demonizing them for their treatment of queers from this side of the pond only reinforces the existing unequal relationship. Besides, I need not even leave my home to fight homophobia; a friend of one of my housemates yelled a popular slur while I was typing this comment.





The real problem with the above criticisms is their heavy bias toward the almost exclusively negative representation of Israel. A rare and truthful positive representation is immediately attacked as “propaganda of exceptionalsim.”

Militant nationalists elsewhere too emphasize heavily the critical element, e.g. of the “American Imperialism.” No American achievements exist for them (that were made possible only in America), they make no distinction between pacifists and militarists, for them all Americans are imperialists. And this is the sense one gets in general discussions like this regarding Israel.

Yes, there has been some notice here that there may be some good people in Israel. But what I mostly heard in this enlightened discussion regarding ISRAEL AS A NATION was “you imperialists, racists, Nazis, war-criminals, separatists.”

A personal confession: I admire Iran, not only its glorious 1,000 year old (Islamic!) cultural heritage, but also its present achievements in technology, scholarship, literacy, social security.
Yes, there are violations of the human rights there that need to be struggled with, as there are violations of the human rights in Israel, the US, China, Russia and all over the world that need to be struggled with. But I believe that the recognition of the achievements of other cultures will get us much farther in the promotion of peace than mere black-labeling.





Iran has a great deal to be proud of in its long history.  I particularly admire its monumental architecture, its poetry, and its recent advances in space exploration and robotics.  I was actually considering writing an article called “Iran’s Value to Transhumanism” because it has much to offer.
Unfortunately, Iran has a wretched government, that was not even fairly elected.  And its president spews vile hatred at Israel, in language that is absolutely barbaric.  Here’s a recent sample:

excerpt from a public address delivered by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on Iranian News Channel (IRINN), on June 16, 2010.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Over sixty years ago, by means of an artificial and false pretext, and by fabricating information and inventing stories, they gathered the filthiest, most criminal people, who only appear to be human, from all corners of the world. They organized and armed them, and provided them with media and military backing. Thus, they occupied the Palestinian lands, and displaced the Palestinian people.
———
He seeks to dehumanize Jews, he’s a Holocaust-denier, and a hate-monger.  I understand that people have complaints about Israel, but I hope they at least regard Israel as the “lesser of two evils.”





FYI an Israeli Glenn Beck wanna-be right-wing talk show host’s take on transhumanism:

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Blogs/Message.aspx/4334

“In this ‘Tower of Babel’ crazy quest of mankind to climb to heaven, dethrone G-d and make themselves gods, we are talking about the attempt to erase all borders, national sovereignties, sexual borders and identity, the combining of robotic technology with the human brain, etc….I don’t want to see a NWO (New World Order) with a blurring of morality, a blurring of sexes, a blurring of borders, or becoming a ‘god’. I prefer to embrace my humanity, while serving G-d, not being a god.”

She seems to perceive quite clearly the threat of H+‘s Enligthenment cosmopolitanism and universalism to national boundaries defined by religion and race.





Ilia:
My friend Doojie at kurzweilai.net talks extensively about this issue, and I suggest if you have the time, you look into some of his posts.

“The real problem with the above criticisms is their heavy bias toward the almost exclusively negative representation of Israel. A rare and truthful positive representation is immediately attacked as “propaganda of exceptionalsim.””

The above criticisms are criticisms of the State of Israel, not the People of Israel.
It’s criticisms of their collective decisions/goals, not their individuals.
This is a crucial distinction.
I criticize all nations in the same way. When ever someone lauds an American, crediting their success in part or whole to their being American, I’m quick to point out the imperialistic tendencies and racist attitudes of Americans.
When someone lauds an Israeli, crediting their success in part or whole to their being Israeli, I’m quick to point out the imperialistic tendencies and racist attitudes of Israelis.
When someone lauds a Chinese, crediting their success in part or whole to their being Chinese, I’m quick to point out the brutal oppression of the Chinese.
Etc.

When someone simply lauds a person, mentions their origins for thoroughness and reference, but doesn’t imply that their success is due to their culture, then there is no discussion, such as this one.

Terrence McKenna said culture was our enemy, and he was right.
It’s the social programming that makes us ‘numb to the self’.

No one doubts that their are extremely intelligent Jews, both within Israel, and outside of Israel. Or that there are intelligent Israelis.
Cygnus posted a link to just such an article above.

But, when you credit their merits to their culture, you are creating exceptionalism for that culture.
The issue gets compounded when said culture is guilty of horrendous crimes.
In other words, these arguments would be hard to make if Israel never committed these crimes at all.
I think people just don’t want the atrocities to be forgotten.

Kinda like when someone brings up some of the many accomplishments of German scientists, someone is quick to point out that they killed 6 million Jews (and somehow manage to omit all the other minorities they killed - isn’t it interesting that we focus so much on how many Jews they killed, but ignore the mentally ill, the gypsies, etc - is this not another example of exceptionalism? Why don’t these other victims get recognition? Why only Jews?)

I believe individual Israeli/Jewish scientists should be fully and publicly praised for their accomplishments, but I will not in any way attribute this to their Jewishness, or their Israeliness until these cultures make good on the crimes they’ve committed.

I hold christians, for example, to the same standard. Sometimes Christians do good things, but I will not ever attribute any good thing they do to their being christian, until they seek forgiveness for the Crusades, the Inquisition, the witch burnings, the sexual abuse (including molesting my ex-wife in church), etc.

Same goes for Muslims. I’ll be the first to applaud a Persian for a scientific breakthrough, and in the same breath condemn them for their culture of stoning women, executing adulterers, etc. Until they apologize, and attempt to heal some of the damage they’ve done to individuals, their *culture* get’s ZERO credit, even if I’ll gladly credit some individuals within that culture.

Those exceptional individuals are usually those who rise above their culture. Who rebel and/or reject their culture (whether openly or secretly). Most of the brilliant people within these oppressive countries, are brilliant precisely because they go against the norm.

Alan Turning is sort of a poster child for this point I’m trying to make.





Hi this is for Summerspeaker again.  I urge you to read more than one report on gays in Israel.  read this, for example: http://www.outtraveler.com/features.asp?did=1095
Regarding your concern about imperialism, I find it interesting that people focus on one concern when they analyze global politics and have it trump all others.  Apparently you’ve picked Imperialism.  This fills me with nostalgia for the 1960’s-1980’s when many people ranted about imperialism being the greatest of all evils.  Nowadays the only people I meet that express this are young folks in the ANSWER coalition who are rather uneducated in history, except that they have read 1-2 Noam Chomsky books.  I hope this doesn’t describe you.
One problem with making imperialism your primary peeve is that we don’t know how far back in history to go to redraw the borders.  Should the Turks be moved out of Turkey, back to Central Asia?  Should Indo-Aryans be chased out of India, back to the steppes of the Caucausus?  Should all Arabs vacate their vast area of conquest and return to the Saudi desert?  And of course, should two continents be returned to the original Native Americans?  Usually people ranting about imperialism just focus on recent European imperialism, because ... it fills them with self-righteous guilt?  In the case of Israel, imperialism obviously does or does not apply, depending on when you want to roll back time.
Personally, I don’t make “imperialism” my primary gripe, because I am not interested in supporting cultures that are human rights violators.  I support enlightened cultures that treat their citizenry fairly, but no others.  You are willing to support Palestine even though they have no gay rights; I am totally unwilling to do so, for “selfish” reasons.  I am not gay but I am the donor to two lesbian friends, they have a son, my biological offspring.  I am never going to support any government that oppresses the moms of my genetic lineage.  You probably think you are “transcending” identity politics, but I see you as helping people who would torture you if they could.  Doesn’t make any sense to me.





Dr. Hughes is right, “H+‘s Enligthenment cosmopolitanism and universalism” is what most at IEET want, not borders of all sorts: national, racial, ethnic, gender.
Still, the dislocation is and will be enormous—such ought not be minimized.





for Kyle McKittrick—this is in response to your comment, “H+ doesn’t need Israel anymore than Phenomenology needs France” - I must admit that was thought-provoking for me and I couldn’t respond to it immediately, since I don’t know anything about French Phenomenology.  But I have now researched the topic and my opinion is that your phrase is pithy, succinct and provocative, but the reference to French Phenomenology is just a pseudo-intellectual distraction, and there is actually no wisdom or integrity enclosed in your phrase.  Your denial of Israel’s value is callous, and your use of language is glib.  I commend you on your ability to distract me with the jingoistic skill you displayed, but it would be better to use your literary skills to actually say something worth merit.  I was particularly saddened and shocked by the phrase “H+ doesn’t need Israel” - dismissing an entire hard-working nation with so many cutting edge contributions… I can only hope that you actually didn’t mean it, you just liked the clever sound of your phrase…?





... there’s a temptation to perceive the world as a lab, and its residents as lab animals; to think thousands of years of traditions—most of them pernicious—can be removed without too much pain. But as bad traditions dissolve, the resulting pain is real, the dislocation is real. Look what happened to Russia, starting in 1917 the Russians tried to go from the 12th century to the 20th, with mass carnage ensuing.
One thing is for sure: in 2020 the Arab-Israeli conflict will be ongoing. After that, I don’t know, I’m not interested in more than a decade ahead—attempting to look too far ahead now appears to me to be chasing rainbows in searching for a pot of traqnshumanist gold.





this is for Valkyrie and iPan and the other “anti-exceptionalists”
Thanks for letting me know about this terminology.  I had never heard of it before.  Now that I know about it, I must confess that I am indeed an “exceptionalist” - I believe there is a great deal to be learned by studying the admirable cultures of the world who achieved great milestones in art and science.  I am not, however, at all enamored of “American exceptionalism.”  I do like, and am inspired by, other “exceptional” cultures though, for example: Northern Sung Dynasty, Dutch Golden Age, Prague Golden Age, Japan’s Golden Age, Moorish Spain’s Golden Age, Athen’s Age of Pericles.  You might note that 4 of those 6 had a strong Jewish influence.
for iPan - I am not particularly impressed by Terence McKenna, and I don’t think your tagline “Kill Your Culture” is good avice, especially if one’s culture has a great deal to offer.





@Hank

“I support enlightened cultures that treat their citizenry fairly, but no others.”

Did you read the article I posted about the Arab who is being jailed for “rape by deception”?

“One problem with making imperialism your primary peeve is that we don’t know how far back in history to go to redraw the borders. Should the Turks be moved out of Turkey, back to Central Asia? Should Indo-Aryans be chased out of India, back to the steppes of the Caucausus? Should all Arabs vacate their vast area of conquest and return to the Saudi desert? And of course, should two continents be returned to the original Native Americans?”

This is why I’ve mentioned integration.
The Israeli’s are there to stay. We don’t want to uproot anyone again.
This is why I think the two-state solution won’t work.
They need to integrate into a unified society.
End apartheid.

I think that this whole argument really boils down to an issue about individualism vs. collectivism.

In the article you wrote, you make a clear bid to associate the accomplishments of individuals with their collective, or national identity.

Some of the more radically individualistic amongst us take exception to this, especially when the culture in question is guilty of crimes.

Not all Israeli’s are guilty of the crimes of it’s government, just as not all Americans are guilty of the crimes of it’s government, or all Persians are guilty of the crimes of it’s government.

But, if you’re going to attribute the accomplishments of an individual to the culture they live in, it’s probably a good idea to understand whether or not that culture is blameless, otherwise you’re always going to get people who will point out the less savory side of that same culture.





@iPan

I couldn’t have said that better myself.

ANY distinction other than individual merit is meaningless. Even though I am a strong collectivist, who believes humans are at their best when working co-operatively, I express that thought in terms of the over-collective, not in terms of exclusionary sub-collectives.

We are all part of hundreds of collectives, but who I am is not determined by which collective I am part of. I am not just a cog in the “American collective” or the “LGBT collective” or the “trans-sexual collective” or the “transhumanist collective” or even the “Tennessee collective” I may be part of all those collectives, but I am an individual.

And as an Individual, I would take great offense at having MY PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENTS attributed to the COLLECTIVE instead of to me personally.

And that is the heart of what’s going on here. Do these scientists deserve recognition for their achievements? Or is it only their collective that deserves recognition, moreso than the individuals do?

Who did the work? These individuals, or the exclusionary sub-collective that is a nation state, or a religious ideology?

Collectives exist to serve the common good. They have no other purpose. It is the INDIVIDUALS responsibility to ensure that a collective fulfills this function.  And when we forget that collectives ARE NOTHING BUT TOOLS OF THE INDIVIDUALS WHO COMPRISE THAT COLLECTIVE, and instead treat them as “greater” than mere individuals, then we have ceased to use that tool, and instead have allowed it to use us.

These scientists deserve their credit, and sadly Hank took it away from them and gave it to the collective instead.

And that is what turned it from a report, to propaganda.


@Hank

I’m sorry if you find my views shocking, but I’m not going to change my stance.  If you couldn’t tell from my arguments over strict gender equality in the sexbots thread how strongly I oppose ANY form of exceptionalism and support ONLY precise equality for everyone regardless of gender, race, creed, culture or nationality, then I apologize for failing to make it even clearer.

I support equal rights for everyone. But ONLY EQUAL RIGHTS.  No-one has a “freepass” for behavior that is not allowed by all sides. THERE CAN BE NO DOUBLE STANDARDS.

No-one. Not Blacks, not Jews, not Men, not Women, not terrorists, not Corporations, not even the Pope himself. NO-ONE has a right to “be an exception to the rules”

Call me a militant equalitist if you wish. I’ll defend pure neutral equality to anyone who argues for an exception, for ANY cause. And I will point out any arguments for exceptionalism I see, and attempt, as I attempted to do both here and on H+, to show why exceptionalism is WRONG, not only on a legal and moral level, but because it is DESTRUCTIVE TO THE CONTINUED EXISTENCE OF HUMANITY.

Look at every single MAN MADE threat to our long term survival, and in EVERY case you will find the threat is due to Exceptionalism. One side or another thinks it has a greater right to existence than the other, and tries to exterminate those “less deserving”.

Exceptionalism cannot be supported, period. Not if we wish for the human race to survive to reach a transhumanist future.





iPan,
There might be a better idea. Let us all ask and grant forgiveness from and to everyone we have ever wronged. (I believe this is what Christianity teaches and this is what religious Jews do every year on Yom Kippur). And we can also ask forgiveness from everybody our ancestors wronged whoever they may be, which may cover the entire world apologizing to itself. And this being done, we can strive to create a world that acknowledges and tolerates diversity, including religious and national diversity. 

I fail to understand how Humanity Plus is inherently opposed to religious and national traditions. I have just found this quote, which impressed me very much and which I would like to share with you:

“There is no such age fixed for human life the transgression of which would be impossible. …. All the above observations in the medical and biological sciences make it possible for human beings to expect to discover the secret of longevity and overcome old age one day. Moreover, it has prompted them to continue their research until the goal is reached. There is hope that scientific research into understanding the mystery of longevity will also lead to uncovering the secret of the long life of the Qa’im [Imam Al-Mahdi] from the Family of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny). Let us hope that day will come soon.”
In Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini, “Al-Imam al-Mahdi, The Just Leader of Humanity” Ch. “The Research About Longevity”

This is Islamic transhumanism right there! And this is the Islamic culture that I admire, that produced Firdousi’s “Shah Nameh” and the Taj Mahal, not the ramblings of Ahmadinejad.

How can any one say that these works were produced outside of the culture of Islam, regardless of it, or in opposition to it, when they define the best in the Islamic culture? How can we discard historical memory and tradition? Wouldn’t that make us less than human rather than more than human? Wouldn’t it be impossible to have Islamic, Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist, transhumanism, or diverse kinds of transhumanism adjusted to diverse countries and national contexts? Wouldn’t that make the world a richer place? Or is no one allowed to have any diverging cultural affiliation?





@ Hank

I’m not particularly impressed by McKenna either, and I find numerous elements from all cultures admirable as well.

What I don’t do is admire them so much I give them a blind pass for everything.

I admire Japan greatly, I freely admit to being Otaku, and even somewhat hentai.

But I don’t blind myself to flaws in their culture, which despite the popularity of “Yuri” hentai is NOT tolerant of lesbians, gays, bi, or trans. O dear friend of mine is not only lesbian, but she is a Korean adopted by a Japanese couple as a baby. She has thus GROWN UP as a Japanese citizen.

And she is an outcast to her entire family.  Not because of her being a lesbian, which she is concealing, BUT FOR THE CRIME OF NOT BEING PURE BLOOD JAPANESE.

Can I admire many things about Japanese culture, while refusing to blind myself to the injustices perpetuated by it to those who aren’t “in the club”? You betcha.

It’s not an all or nothing deal Hank. We can value the positive points while condemning the negative.

If you have not yet read it, Hank, I would like to strongly recommend you read this book: http://www.scribd.com/doc/2532766/God-Wants-You-Dead

(description from the link)

“This book is about the past, present and future evolution of human ideas. Its primary emphasis is on parasitic collectivist ideologies. It examines where they come from, how they harm us and how we can remove them from our own minds and from the culture around us. Finally, it tells us the amazing things that will become possible for humanity when they are gone. Not only religions, but also nation states, racial groups, corporations and other collectives are targeted for clear minded observation and criticism”

I can be both a supporter for the needs of collectivism, while still supporting individual rights as supreme precisely because I refuse to accept ideologies as “lumps” in which every part is equally good. I can read the bible and acknowledge that a majority of it is BS, while still admiring those parts of it which promote positive messages. I can look at Japan and admire those parts of it I admire, without having to admire those specific cases of xenophobia, intolerance, and persecution that I am aware of.

Your argument is an All or Nothing one Hank, demanding I admire a culture in every aspect, or else I am assumed to be “against it” And I refuse to be drawn into such a false dichotomy. I can admire the actions and research of these scientists without having to admire the government of the nationstate, and the religion which it endorses.

Recognizing the value of individual aspects does not mean I must admire the whole. Someone could cover a beautiful statue with pigshit, and call it art. I can still admire the statue and desire to wash the pigshit off.





@Ilia

As I just got done saying to Hank, I can admire those parts of a culture worthy of admiring, without having to blindly accept those aspects unworthy of admiration.

But those wonderful words you quoted were the words of an individual. They reflect his individual beliefs and opinions, and while those may be shared by many within his culture, THEY ARE NOT UNIQUE TO HIS CULTURE.

So by claiming it is the “Islamic Culture” that created these words, as opposed to the individual who actually wrote them, you rob this individual of the praise he rightly deserves, and give it instead to a fictional entity “Islamic culture”

In essence, you robbed him of his humanity, making him just a cog in his “Collective”, no longer a person, just a tool of the collective he serves.

Hank did the same in his article.

We need collectives, they serve valuable functions in human survival, but we must never forget that they are fictional entities, tools created by mankind to serve mankind. The moment we begin seeing collectives as “more than human” and thus “more deserving than humans” we cross the line into exceptionalism.

I much admire the words you quoted, and would certainly admire the man that they came from, but I have heard similar words from many transhumanists, in many cultures, in many variants, so why should I assume those words are “Islamic”? Why should I assume that they only came into existence SOLELY because the speaker was Islamic? What does his “presumed” religion have to do with anything? For all I know, he could simply be claiming a religious title without having the slightest faith in Allah. So presuming his words speak for his entire “culture” is only defensible if I make a bunch of assumptions based on what “I” think defines “Islam” which may or may not have any resemblance to what he may think of as “Islam”

And, as I recommended to Hank, I strongly recommend you read the book I linked in the above post.





Just a few examples on how “special” cultures shape scientific and technological achievements: It has been often argued that the Japanese advancements in robotics owe a great deal to the Shinto religion that attributes a soul to inanimate objects. Israeli advancements in stem cell research owe to the fact that the experiments are allowed until 40 days of embryonic development. And that is because, according to the Talmud (to be precise “Yabamot”) the soul enters at the 40th day. It has been also convincingly demonstrated that the 17th century “Protestant Ethics” kick-started the scientific revolution. The list can be continued endlessly. And there is nothing “wrong” with it. To deny the crucial impact of specific social milieu or “culture” on scientific progress is simple ignorance.





Hank, by the best estimates, U.S. adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan have directly killed many tens of thousands over the last decade. That’s only the most easily quantifiable measure of the harm imperialism causes.

The context that matters is the present. The creation of Israel is part of continuing story of Western domination in the region. As citizens of the great power it’s our moral responsibility to oppose the oppression we’re connected to.

The rest of your response makes me think my worst interpretation of your intent was accurate. You’re telling queers like me to pick up an Israeli flag or get tortured by the Other. (Strangely enough, the Palestinians I know over here have always treated me rather well.)





“Just a few examples on how “special” cultures shape scientific and technological achievements: It has been often argued that the Japanese advancements in robotics owe a great deal to the Shinto religion that attributes a soul to inanimate objects. Israeli advancements in stem cell research owe to the fact that the experiments are allowed until 40 days of embryonic development.”

All true.
Many advancements in military technology (some of which Israel uses today) can be directly credited to Nazi Germany.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_during_World_War_II





Israel is authoritarian in many ways, young men are conscripted into the IDF, just for starters. Yet the treatment of women by Israel is better than elsewhere in the region, which might be an understatement. IMO such is the only legitimacy exceptionalism can ethically claim; expediency? that is a different ball game; ethics are IMO what legitimizes exceptionalism. My judgment call is the ‘West’ is, overall, slightly more ethical than its enemies—even though our enemies are probably only fighting for their own interests.
Unfortunately for both them and us, their interests are not compatible.
So on both ethical and national interest grounds the opponents of exceptionalism at this time lose. Anti-exceptionalism reminds me of Leninism, people want to have a revolution but they don’t have a genuine way of realizing a revolution.





Hi - this is my last email on this topic and I thank everyone for a lively discussion. My article has certainly sucked up sufficient attention and I believe we should now read all the other IEET articles and give them equal scrutiny. I want to thank everyone for what I’ve learned about myself: 1) I am an “exceptionalist” believing that certain cultures deserve praise and attention more than others, and certain ethnicities need to be protected from persecution 2) I am more of a human rights advocate than an anti-imperialist 3) I am a “collectivist” because I believe individuals owe an enormous debt to the culture they sprang from.—
So thanks, and see you all at the next debate, don’t take too many drugs iPan, don’t help people beat you up Summerspeaker, keep it real Kyle, we finally disagree and that’s healthy Valkyrie, and Illia, I think you’re wonderful and I guess I am supposed to join you at Masada.  I will have another essay up in two weeks and I want to see you all there at your vicious best.





“The context that matters is the present. The creation of Israel is part of continuing story of Western domination in the region. As citizens of the great power it’s our moral responsibility to oppose the oppression we’re connected to.”

You write of the present, but Israel was created in 1948: you cannot return to the status quo ante of 62 years ago—two full generations—anywhere, including the Mideast.
None of you has any plan or even insight of what to do. It is a case of academics, armed only with their keyboards, passing judgment on partly understood armed belligerents thousands of miles away.





@ Ilia

At what point did I deny that cultures can influence people? I haven’t. I have pointed out the fallacy of attributing individual achievements to a ideological fiction, in essence dismissing the individual, and treating them as if they have no existence other than as part of the ideological fiction.

Are certain memes beneficial? Without a doubt, but those memes exist with or without the ideological baggage that is attempted to be lumped in with it.

Let’s take your “Protestant ethics” shall we?

Do you truly understand why the protestants had these ethics? Because they were the same ethics that had always been enforced on the poor. “Be productive” “be a good worker” “be a good obedient servant to authority” These “ethics” were taught as part and parcel of the religion of Christianity, as they were taught as part and parcel of the Judaic laws they claimed to be taken from. Whether those “ethics” were actually in the bible is not at issue, they were still taught as “god’s law”

Why did the Reformation take place? Because the “protestants” saw that these “ethics” were taught only to the poor. The Rich could buy “Exceptions”.

This exceptionalism is the entire basis for the “Protestant Reformation” The Protestants didn’t think that there should be “exceptions”.

And so, we had the beginnings of “the Scientific revolution” right alongside the “Protestant Reformation” because BOTH OF THEM WERE STARTED BY THE INVENTION OF THE PRINTING PRESS, which enabled the “masses” the equal access to information that had previously only been the provence of the “exceptions”

And yes, they influenced one another enormously.

But that reformation also lead to 100 years of some of the worst religious intolerance since the early christian era prior to the establishment of the “Catholic” church at the Council of Nicea.

How many religious factions wiped each other out? How many wars occurred because of one religious group gaining political power and using it to wipe out their “enemy heretics”?

Do you even recall the civil wars in England between the Calvinists, the Anglicans, and the Catholics? The destruction of the Cathars and Huguenots in France?

And the Puritans? The Pilgrims? In fact almost every single religious “settlement” in the USA? They came here in search of “religious freedom” not because they were so horribly persecuted, BUT BECAUSE THEY WERE PREVENTED BY LAW FROM PERSECUTING RIVAL RELIGIONS. In other words, since they couldn’t have the freedom to “wipe out the heretics” they chose to escape to a land where “there were no heretics”.

Can I see enormous value in these “cultural” ideologies? Sure. Every culture has memes which are of enormous value to the collective good of humanity.

But I can also see the destructive memes which have become parasites on the non-destructive memes, creating an ideological memeplex which cannot be accepted as a “complete package”

And all that you and Hank have done so far is defend why we must ACCEPT these ideologies as A WHOLE, while all I have done is pointed out that I don’t have to ignore the bad to accept the good, but have the ability to disassemble that memeplex to extract the beneficial, while discarding the harmful, and explain why I can praise an individual, without having to assume that individual is an agent of a ideological memeplex.





We know one thing from all this: Israel releases passions out of proportion to its size and importance. In merely a couple of days Hank’s piece has received 63 comments at the time this comment was written.





... so tell us: why is it a nation comprisingly a small fraction of the Mideast region—and a population of only about 7,602,400—arouses such hatreds?





@ postfuturist

Why? Because it’s tied into the major religious dogma of western religions.

The Christians want Israel there, but do you really understand why?

Because the destruction of Israel is the “sign of the apocalypse” that heralds the Rapture, Tribulations, and the 2nd Coming.

So unless that nation remains INTACT up until the “Apocalypse” then it invalidates Revelations.

Iran is simply the latest “possible stater of Armageddon”. Before them it was Iraq, before that it was maybe the Chinese, before that it was the Egyptians, etc.

It’s sad when a powerful nation like America offers UNCONDITIONAL support to a nation that they helped create for no other reason then that it’s destruction will make sure a 2000 year old prophecy is validated.

If I were the Jews, I would find that little fact worrisome.





Well, guess I’ll sign off too

@Valkyrie
Thanks for putting it so succinctly. I certainly didn’t make my arguments as gracefully as you did, but I see the issue mostly from the same perspective.

@Hank
Gratz to you for accepting that your an ‘exceptionalist’. Acceptance is the first step to recovery wink
But seriously, now that you know that about yourself, you can examine it to find out whether or not it contains true moral value. Questioning values is always a productive process smile

@Everyone
In case anything I’ve said is taken out of context, I want to be clear that my entire intent all along is to show ‘the other side of the coin’ and nothing more.

Thanks all.

p.s. @Hank
About the drugs thing. There is a fast growing movement amongst researchers right now that are pushing to use psychadelics in treatment of psychiatric disorders, namely, depression, anxiety, end-of-life. I feel vindicated, because I’ve always advocated controlled, responsible, guided, thought out use of psychadelics. Looks like I’ll get the last laugh on that score (and possibly some prescribed psychadelics soon!)

Farewell
Gezegunung (I hope that’s correct wink





I really am leaving, but I just can’t let Valkyrie’s goodbye go without comment—the final statement that Valkyrie made “It’s sad when a powerful nation like America offers UNCONDITIONAL support to a nation that they helped create for no other reason then that it’s destruction will make sure a 2000 year old prophecy is validated”
  is absolutely preposterous, and insulting to both Jews and Americans.





Valkyrie,

I guess we can agree that cultures are influential and necessary for human development and that there are good and bad elements in each culture, and for that matter in each individual, that need to be respectively nourished or opposed. The only difference it seems is that you primarily see the negative elements, and I see the positive elements that define the culture. You seem to think collectives are predominantly bad and exceptional individuals are good, I on the contrary believe that human communities are generally good and it is the individuals who commit atrocities that shame their cultures.

And Hank,
Thanks for your “exceptional” article, a beacon of positivity in the sea of darkness and hatred.  As for Masada (I guess you are referring to 66 AD), I hope it does not come to that : - )





@Hank

Yes it is preposterous.  And it’s also one of the wonderful little “facts” that if you had ever been to a SBC church and had to listen to the wonderful sermons on how important Israel is, and how it’s destruction will herald the Return of Christ, and all the “heathens will be destroyed!!!!” then you’d realize that the “support” offered by the “Christians” is that of a fanatic feeding what it sees as a sacrificial goat. After all, Jew’s aren’t Christian, and they aren’t going to heaven after having rejected “The Messiah”

And you are absolutely right it’s insulting. What’s even more insulting is how few “Christians” actually question these sermons that continually refer to “Revelations” and Israel’s “sacrificial” role in Christian Mythology.

But don’t take my word for it.  Feel free to read any Chick Tract you wish, or even better, “The Late Great Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsey.


And @ Illia.

You are making a rather large assumption there Ilia. I believe that “Collectives” are primarily good. They are a survival trait that all pack animals share. By definition, a collective is a co-operative effort in which each individual contributes to the common good. As such Collectives are inherently beneficial.

The problem comes when INDIVIDUALS derail simple collectivism into PERSONAL GAIN. When they misuse collective power to “line their own nests” at the collective’s expense.

The “evil” of a collective is the same as the “good”  INDIVIDUALS.

In this case, some aspects of the “Jewish” collective are quite noble and beneficial. I am fully supportive of those cultural aspects that promote those beneficial memes.

But I WILL NOT allow those good points to make me overlook the bad aspects that are part and parcel of the memeplex of “Judaism”, especially the single primary meme of “Jew’s are Special” because they “Are God’s Chosen” and thus “Jews should not be held to the same standards as anyone else” 

As someone else pointed out, 7 Million gypsies, gays, mentally ill, blacks, and other “undesirables” died in the German Concentration Camps. And you never hear about them, because they weren’t “Specially Chosen”

Exceptionalism.  We hated the Nazi’s for it, but it’s okay for this group or that group? It’s okay to ignore human right’s violations, genocidal assaults on defenseless villages like Jenin, or assaults on civilian ships, because of who did it?

It’s not the collective itself that’s to blame Ilia.  It’s the people who are using that collective to achieve their own personal agendas, and fulfill their own personal vendettas. 

But it’s also just as much the fault of all those who turn blind eyes to such activities because they buy into the “exceptionalism” of such people because of collective affiliation. Because by allowing the “exceptions” to exist, they effectively support such destructive and self serving behavior.





Valkyrie,

If anything, the world is far from “ignoring” anything that Israelis do, that is to say, noticing almost exclusively the bad things they do. This is true exceptionalism. I would advise you to research deeper into the Israeli realities, even into the incidents you mention, to see how and why they originated. And I would also like to advise you to apply the degree of “fairness” you exhibit regarding Israel also to other contexts, including your own. (For example, always talk about atrocities in any conversation related to any other country.) But I guess there is really no point to argue about this any longer. People have their “memplexes” and nothing will ever change them.





Valkyrie Ice writes: “It’s sad when a powerful nation like America offers UNCONDITIONAL support to a nation that they helped create for no other reason then that it’s destruction will make sure a 2000 year old prophecy is validated.”

Then Hank slams Valkyrie Ice.

Then Valkyrie Ice backs up his insulting assertion by pointing to the SBC church.

As if they speak for all of America! Get real.





@Ilia

Yes, EVERY COUNTRY AND CULTURE in the world has had it’s share of atrocities. History is filled with examples, but they don’t get the same glossing over that is reserved for “Exceptions”. America itself gets more glossing over than fifty Israels, I’m sad to say.

But I seem incapable of making you aware of why Exceptionalism is a danger to the continued survival of the human race, so you are correct, there is not much point continuing this discussion.

@ Abraham,

I referenced two universally available sources for my views. Chick Tracts, which are the #1 distributor of religious tracts in America (If you’ve EVER read a tract found in a phone booth or on a train, odds are it was a Chick Publication), and “The Late Great Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsey, which was a record breaking best seller in the late 70’s early eighties, which detailed in full how Israel would be destroyed as part of the Rapture, Tribulation, and 2nd Coming.

As for the SBC, Remember the Moral Majority? The massive political power group that helped put Regan and Bush 1 into office?  It was almost entirely composed of the SBC.

But you are right, the SBC alone is not representative of the “majority” Christian faith, to give you REAL proof of my “insult”? I’ll give you the most definitive source possible.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation+1&version=NIV

There you go, John the Prophet’s own words. The Book of Revelations. The definitive guide to the end time as written by John of Patmos during the time of Nero, and the Foundation of all belief in the “End Times” the “Second Coming” and of course, the “Destruction of Israel” by the “Beast” as a prelude to the “Return of Christ in Glory”





“Then Valkyrie Ice backs up his insulting assertion by pointing to the SBC church. As if they speak for all of America! Get real.”

Don’t forget Hal Lindsey, that self-appointed spokesman
—1900 years later—for the author of Revelation.





Valkyrie Ice, I think your prowess in logic is failing you today.
First, the fact that Chick tracts are very popular lends little support to your contention that they represent American thinking. The New York Times is very popular, too.
Second, the fact that most of America believes in the book of Revelations lends very little to support your contention that “America offers unconditional support to a nation that they helped create for no other reason then that it’s destruction will make sure a 2000 year old prophecy is validated.”





Sorry, missed the comment on Lindsey thanks to a blizzard of comments in the mail—a thousand pardons for such an oversight. But a question: what was wrong with the “Moral Majority” pushing Reagan into office?; Reagan’s administration helped instigate the end of the Cold War—so in retrospect the Reagan administration was a blessing in disguise.
That is, unless some of you think the Cold War was a good thing.





Thanks Abraham - the reason I say Valkyrie’s assertion is insulting to both Jews and Americans is because I believe Jews and Americans have a real friendship for each other, based on Jews living here for over a century and making massive contributions in numerous fields, including philanthropy and civil rights.  To state that this is not an actual friendship based on mutual respect and appreciation, but just a relationship based on the Revelations, is to dismiss all the genuine natural feelings of goodwill, and the mutual work that went into establishing everything positive about Jewish & American relationships.  It is tiresome to even have to explain this.





@Post Futurist

I never said it was either good or bad. I simply said it occurred.

@Abraham

The error you are making is to assume I am saying this is an “active” thought pattern. It isn’t. It’s one of those cases of “exceptionalism” I have been attempting to point out all along.  Can you deny that Revelations specifically states that the destruction of Israel is “Part of God’s Plan for the End Times?”

You can’t, not with any evidence that a simple reading of the book of Revelations won’t discredit.

But, an “exception” gets made now doesn’t it?  Just like it’s expected to make an “exception” for Joshua’s genocidal purges in the Old Testament. The fact that Revelations specifically predicts the destruction of Israel is “glossed over” because we’re supposed to only see “the good” side of the bible. We “excuse” the fact that EVERY SINGLE BELIEVER IN THE SECOND COMING is IMPLICITLY looking at Israel as a sacrificial goat to “the Beast”

It is this EXACT same “exceptionalism” that allows this, in my opinion, horrendous belief system, to continue, with millions believing that “The End Times are Near” and that Obama is the Anti-Christ, etc, WITHOUT EVER EXAMINING THE IMPLICATIONS OF THEIR BELIEFS.

And you and Hank both proved all too well exactly why I say you cannot make exceptions. You’re insulted by my pointing out the actual verifiable FACTS of the belief system you support, and which you argue needs to be “An Exception”

Why? What part of what I said contradicts the actual words of the Bible?  What part of what I said about the Christian Mythos CANNOT BE VERIFIED AS FACT? There is nothing to be insulted over, except the fact that you chose to make “Exceptions” in this case, and have blinded yourself to the reality.

And because of that Unconditional “Exceptionalism” given to the Christian mythology millions of people offer unconditional support for Israel, WITHOUT BEING AWARE OF THE FACTS OF THEIR OWN RELIGION.

And that’s today, when religion has a much much weaker hold on the average American than it did in the early half of the century.

And because of the “sacredness” and “holiness” of “Israel” unconditional support has been given by the vast majority of Americans, granting to Israel the exact same “exceptionalism” that they give to their own religious beliefs, never questioning the ideological memeplex which also includes such objectionable beliefs as the one you find so “insulting”

Why, because you refuse to see any evil, because you are making “An Exception” and turning off your rational mind when it comes to these deep seated, embedded in childhood, beliefs.

But I will concede that my statement was an overgeneralization, because it was not the SOLE reason, but it was and still is a gigantic hidden motivator in USA/Israel relations. It’s these hidden motivators that form the greatest dangers when dealing with “Exceptionalism”.

 

Now, Hank, I happen to agree with you that Jews and Americans have a real friendship. But it’s precisely because we “gloss” over the truth of these belief systems too many people seek to do exactly what you did in this article, IGNORE THE NEGATIVES, while seeking to hide them behind the positives.

Do you truly think that this is isolated SOLELY to USA/Israel relations?  No. It’s ENDEMIC to most of the human race. Everyone seeks to make their side “An Exception” to the rules that they want to enforce on the other side. It doesn’t matter what the ideological dispute is over.

Feel free to think I dismiss whatever you want to think I dismiss. I don’t feel I am dismissing anything, and thats the problem. I’m not dismissing the things YOU want me to dismiss, and that you want “Exceptions” made for.

Hank, I consider you a friend, and there’s a lot we agree on, but we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one. I’ll apologize for the fact that you found my words insulting, but I can’t change the truth of what the bible says, or the Christian Mythos that has been built up around it, nor can I change the massive influence that it has on American culture, often in ways that are totally hidden from those acting on those influences.


And at all of you, I think we can agree that terrorist attacks are horrendously “bad” but think about what those who commit them are thinking. They are performing actions that they would otherwise object to, because the Islamic religion also forbids suicide… but they are “exceptions” and thus freed fom the same rules they want everyone else to obey.

Once you make an exception, you cease to use either rational or ethical judgement evaluations. I cannot make it any plainer than that.





“It is tiresome to even have to explain this.”

You know what else is tiresome?
Having to point out to you over and over that Valkyrie (and myself) are talking about Israel as a State power, and not Jews (even if some equate Jewish = Israel).

You constantly (and not explicitly) try to make Israel equivalent to Jewishness.

I think all along, that Valkyrie and I are only pointing out the error in this, and specifically, how it is culture itself that reinforces this error.

That’s tiresome.

Israel does not equal Judaism. And Israeli’s (as a whole, as a nationality) are not better than other nations/cultures, although there are some really impressive people there (and elsewhere too!)





http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=11484893

Saudi Couple ‘Hammered 24 Nails’ Into Sri Lankan Maid

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israeli-soldiers-reveal-the-brutal-truth-of-gaza-attack-1746485.html

Israeli soldiers reveal the brutal truth of Gaza attack

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/june/4/newsid_2496000/2496277.stm

1989: Massacre in Tiananmen Square
Several hundred civilians have been shot dead by the Chinese army during a bloody military operation to crush a democratic protest in Peking’s (Beijing) Tiananmen Square.


What does each and every one of these things have in common?

They are all the result of collectivist ideaologies that alienate individuals from themselves by indoctrinating people with a structure that is ‘larger’ than themselves.

God, King, and Country.





for iPan—according to wikipedia, Israel is 75.4% Jewish and approximately 50% of the Jews in the world live there.  so… Israel is not 100% Jews, as you have been pointing out.  But it is a quite sizable majority.





> “And you and Hank both proved all too well exactly why I say you cannot make exceptions. You’re insulted by my pointing out the actual verifiable FACTS of the belief system you support…”

Just thought I’d point out your mistaken assumption: That’s not a belief system I support.

> “Can you deny that Revelations specifically states that the destruction of Israel is “Part of God’s Plan for the End Times?”“

No need to deny a statement that I felt was largely irrelevant to your overgeneralization. Since you finally admitted you overgeneralized, I feel my work with you is done. Oh wait, one more. I’ll use iPan’s statement for this one:

>“You (Hank) constantly (and not explicitly) try to make Israel equivalent to Jewishness.”

Since Valkyrie Ice makes the same equivalence between America and Christiandom, what’s the big deal?

 

 





“for iPan—according to wikipedia, Israel is 75.4% Jewish and approximately 50% of the Jews in the world live there. so… Israel is not 100% Jews, as you have been pointing out. But it is a quite sizable majority. “

Statistics can be misleading. The situation is more complex.
http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/world-jewish-population.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_population

Of course, none of this mentions the distribution of Ashkenazi, Sephardic, or Mizrahim.
Which of these three groups do you think is most represented in Israel?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jews#Who_is_a_Jew.3F

Judaism shares some of the characteristics of a nation, an ethnicity, a religion, and a culture, making the definition of who is a Jew vary slightly depending on whether a religious or national approach to identity is used.[25] Generally, in modern secular usage, Jews include three groups: people who were born to a Jewish family regardless of whether or not they follow the religion; those who have some Jewish ancestral background or lineage (sometimes including those who do not have strictly matrilineal descent); and people without any Jewish ancestral background or lineage who have formally converted to Judaism and therefore are followers of the religion.[26] At times, conversion has accounted for a substantial part of Jewish population growth. In the first century of the Christian era, for example, the population more than doubled, from 4 to 8–10 million within the confines of the Roman Empire, in good part as a result of a wave of conversion.

Within the world’s Jewish population there are distinct ethnic divisions, most of which are primarily the result of geographic branching from an originating Israelite population, and subsequent independent evolutions. An array of Jewish communities were established by Jewish settlers in various places around the Old World, often at great distances from one another resulting in effective and often long-term isolation from each other. During the millennia of the Jewish diaspora the communities would develop under the influence of their local environments; political, cultural, natural, and populational. Today, manifestation of these differences among the Jews can be observed in Jewish cultural expressions of each community, including Jewish linguistic diversity, culinary preferences, liturgical practices, religious interpretations, as well as degrees and sources of genetic admixture.[31]
Jews are often identified as belonging to one of two major groups: the Ashkenazim, or “Germanics” (Ashkenaz meaning “Germany” in Medieval Hebrew, denoting their Central European base), and the Sephardim, or “Hispanics” (Sefarad meaning “Spain/Hispania” or “Iberia” in Hebrew, denoting their Spanish, and Portuguese, base). The Mizrahim, or “Easterners” (Mizrach being “East” in Hebrew), that is, the diverse collection of Middle Eastern and North African Jews, constitute a third major group, although they are sometimes termed Sephardi for liturgical reasons.[32]
Smaller groups include, but are not restricted to, Indian Jews such as the Bene Israel, Bnei Menashe, Cochin Jews, and Bene Ephraim; the Romaniotes of Greece; the Italian Jews (“Italkim” or “Bené Roma”); the Teimanim from Yemen and Oman; various African Jews, including most numerously the Beta Israel of Ethiopia; and Chinese Jews, most notably the Kaifeng Jews, as well as various other distinct but now almost extinct communities.

———————

Now, here’s the point I want to make about the Isaeli government (and this does not apply to the Israeli population at large, though it might apply to some of them):

The Israely government, because it’s interested in Hegemony, purposefully uses the ambiguity and confusion over this (most of the non-Jewish world doesn’t know how to differentiate between all these sub-cultures of Jews and therefore, just like you, thinks of them as one people) to keep people in the dark.

Early on in this conversation, I tried to clue you in to the fact that what’s really going on in Israel/Palestine is not a religious war. That is, it’s not a war of Jew vs. Muslim.
It’s a racial war.

When Israel was created (again) after WWII, it was settled by white europeans escaping from the after effects of the holocaust. They were immigrants to the holy land, from EUROPE. When they got there, they murdered and pillaged and stole from the indigenous people who were already there.

This is the core of the issue.

I know that many of the Israeli’s born there today had no involvement in what their parents/grandparents did when they arrived. But, due to escalation, and two cultures inability to integrate with each other (the situation in Israel is identical to what happened when europeans colonized the Americas), younger generations are indoctrinated by their respective cultures into hating the Other.

Each side picks up the sword of his father, to avenge the crimes done to his ancestors, and the GOVERNMENTS of both sides perpetuate this hatred for profit.

The zionists are hegemonists, and like the military industrial complex in america, they don’t care which side wins, they only care that there will always be customers to buy their guns.

My point is, those in power in Israel are as anti-semitic, as anti-Jewish, as any radical Muslim.
There are two sides to look at this from.
The Israeli government.
And the Israeli people.

The Israeli people (some of them who happen to identify themselves as Jewish), like Americans for example, can be manipulated by their government, so that some of them support their barbaric government, and some oppose it. Some buy into the propaganda, and some do not.

The Israeli government/military itself is wholly evil, and does not work in the best interest of the Israeli people, especially Jews, who suffer in the worlds perspective of them, because the zionist hegemonists have USURPED what it means to be a “Jew”, and therefore Jews the world over suffer for the crimes of the hegemonists, because most of the world does not know that these Israeli hegemonists are trying to give Jews a bad name. They do things in the ‘name’ of Judaism, but they themselves are not Jews.

If you want to help Jewish people, oppose the State of Israel.
If you just like the status quo, then support it.





http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/Sephardim.html

In World War II, Sephardim in Europe suffered the same fate as other Jews, and most perished during the Holocaust. In a few places, such as Holland, they received some preferential treatment, meaning they were among the last to be liquidated.

After the establishment of the State of Israel, conditions for Jews in many Islamic countries grew increasingly uncomfortable and, in some cases, their lives were threatened. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, tens of thousands of Sephardic Jews fled from North Africa and other countries in the Middle East to settle in Israel, usually being forced by the Muslim authorities to leave behind most of their worldly possessions. Once they came to Israel, most of the Sephardic immigrants were put in transit camps and became dependent on welfare. The conditions in these camps were very bad and it was difficult for the newcomers to work their way out of the lower rung of Israeli society because they had less education than the established Ashkenazic community. Consequently, many worked in blue-collar professions.


See, I’m trying to point out to you that even some jews suffer under Israeli rule.

It’s not as cut and dry as “Israel is Jewish” (and, it’s not as if the Sephardim are completely innocent either).

This whole race/religion thing sucks, and I can’t support any nation that propagate this kind of madness.

In my estimation, the exceptional individuals within such a society are exceptional in SPITE of their culture, not BECAUSE of it.





@ Abraham

Actually I don’t. I specifically stated that the religious influences from Christian beliefs has an overwhelming influence on American political policy, as well as popular American unquestioning support for the “Religious” state of Israel, irregardless of what the “Secular” reality of Israel’s government policies happen to be.

While I cannot say I agree with iPan’s Zionist conspiracy theories (mainly because I have yet to hear one that actually conforms to realistic human behavior patterns) his statement “Each side picks up the sword of his father, to avenge the crimes done to his ancestors, and the GOVERNMENTS of both sides perpetuate this hatred for profit.” hits the nail on the head squarely. In America, this results in cynical political support for Israel from politicians who know that such support will be “admired” by a large margin of the religious populace, due entirely to Israel’s “mythological” importance to the Christian religion.

That same influence was also rampant at the time of WW2, when FDR was being pressured to enter the war by many religious and political groups to “save the Jew’s”, and it garnered massive support for the founding of Israel for those same “mythological” reasons.

Israel (the mythological state) is to all three major western religions part of their “Origin Mythologies”, and as such, there is a religious “compulsion” to confuse Israel (the secular state) with it’s mythological counterpart, and thus, “make an exception” for anything done BY Israel, while condemning anything done AGAINST Israel.





Thanks Valkyrie, to admitting to your earlier over-generalizing.  I believe it really is best to avoid doing that, what happens when it occurs is that the argument no longer seems based on presenting truthful facts, and thus, the discussion is no longer worth continuing.  Right now I see two over-generalizations - 1) iPan’s statement that Israel’s government is “wholly evil” is too shrill in its condemnation for me to even want to engage with him on the topic. 2) Valkyrie is still insisting that the USA’s friendly relationship with Israel is primarily due to politicians sucking up to the Christian fundamentalists.  I really don’t think this is true. There are many relationships that the USA has with Israel that have nothing to do with the 2,000 year old Revelations.  I live near Silicon Valley which is closely tied in with similar tech startups and business enterprises in Silicon Wadi.  My Catholic conservative agricultural parents admire Israelis because they made “the desert bloom” - this admiration for Israel’s transformation of an impoverished land into one with a 1st world lifestyle is quite common with many Americans. There are also 7 million Jews in the USA and many support Israel.  These are all significant reasons that Valkyrie has not mentioned because… why? because it doesn’t fit into the anti-culture, anti-religious thesis Valkyrie wants to propose?  I haven’t seen a poll, but I believe if there is one, the main reason Americans would give for supporting Israel would not be Revelations.
Be that as it may, I checked in with James Hughes to find out his POV, and he thanked me for instigating a lively discussion, but he also made it clear that he - and what he categorizes as the “H+/technoprogressive/Enlightenment point-of-view” is “opposed to any state being defined by race and/or religion including Israel.”  This was interesting for me to find out - I did not know that my viewpoints were actually completely counter to mainstream H+ thought.  This made me a bit uncomfortable, because I have been supporting H+ ideas in my writing for quite a while now.  But I can’t support the H+ philosophical movement if it refuses to recognize the legitimacy of Israel.  Luckily, I found a happy compromise - I am joining Illia’s Israeli TransHumanist organization, where the right of Israel to exist is taken for granted.  I will also abandon my membership in other H+ organizations, like WTO, if they insist on a virulent anti-Israel stance.  Thanks again, and goodbye again, for the 3rd or 4th time.





@Hank

I’m as prone to human fallibility as anyone else, Hank.  However, I have FAR more research time into the Christian religion, and it’s psychological domination of American “populist” thought than most, so I am probably far more aware it’s hidden influences.

But yes, “mainstream” Transhumanism is about equality, which is pretty opposed to “Exceptionalism” because exceptionalism is inherently NOT EQUAL. It holds that double standards MUST be applied, with one standard for the “exceptions” and another for the “Not Exceptions”. As such, exceptionalism is bigotry in it’s purest form.

I’m sorry you disagree Hank, but there is no other way of seeing it.





@ Hank..

Well your last comment seems to be somewhat of an overreaction. Why not just convert to Judaism and move to Israel? But seriously, I thought this debate had finished several times now already, and parties agreed to shake hands?

Would it have helped to rename this article “Jewish contributions to transhumanism”? Most likely not, yet I do find that most folks objections towards Israel concern its political attitude and outlook towards the rest of the world, and how they get away with murder, literally, and how the protestations of the both the UN and world nations appear as impotent to influence Israel? Does Israel give a frig about world opinion or indeed any opinion here?

For many years I naively sided with Israel and its problems and striving, Now I see that I was wrong. And neither does this make me sympathetic to Hamas either, I have become indifferent to both sides, (a little like the debate here). Yet I do still respect the Jewish people/race/genome?





“@Post Futurist
1) I never said it was either good or bad. I simply said it occurred.”
2) As for the SBC, Remember the Moral Majority? The massive political power group that helped put Regan and Bush 1 into office? It was almost entirely composed of the SBC.”

#2 is not quite neutral, it dilutes #1 somewhat. However it is ancient history and this is not to gainsay you. The situation in the Mideast is a life-death situation, possibly our greatest existential threat. First thing to do is find a loophole in the 1975 law that prohibits assassinating foreign heads of state: Ahmadinejad should perhaps “accidentally” die on a foreign tour; such would be a humanitarian act, perhaps saving millions of lives, tens of millions of injuries, in the region. Even if—which appears to be the case—Ahmadinejad is bluffing, he will end up carrying the bluff too far, which means no turning back for his regime’s position of starting the very apocalyptic holy war you rightly mention. We safe in the West see the Mideast as a game, something on the screen; even when we visit the Mideast we know we can be evacuated—however to the residents it is no game, but rather it is life or death.
I’m not authoritarian, IMO the Selective Service system ought to be abolished; if it isn’t feasible at this time then all minorities should be exempted. I’m contacting a number of groups to plan protests against conscription: drafting youths is unconscionable—they are not culpable for the foreign affairs mistakes of their elders.





“You constantly (and not explicitly) try to make Israel equivalent to Jewishness.”

That’s like saying the Eiffel Tower doesn’t have to be French, ipan.





CygnusX1
“Would it have helped to rename this article “Jewish contributions to transhumanism”?”

Yes, I think it would have, because then we could focus on and discuss the contributions of Jews all over the world, and not just the Jews that happen to also be Israeli’s.
There are Russian Jews, German Jews, Chinese Jews, African Jews, American Jews.
But this article isn’t about Jewish culture, it’s about Israel, and lends support to the notion that they are a “chosen” people.

postfuturist
“That’s like saying the Eiffel Tower doesn’t have to be French, ipan. “

No it isn’t.
Israel doesn’t have an exclusive claim on Judaism, and there are sects of Jews that openly oppose Israel (like Neturei Karta).

In your example, your using a physical object, one that happens to physically exist in France.

But, there are Jews in many countries across the globe.
Israel doesn’t hold the exclusive right to be called “Jewish”. It doesn’t represent Judaism globally. In my opinion, it actually misrepresents Judaism (for a thorough explanation, see Neturei Karta’s website).

The problem with Israel for the most part, is all the foreign white people there, regardless of what their religion is.





I would edit my last comment to add this bit, but that is not available here.

“Would it have helped to rename this article “Jewish contributions to transhumanism”?”

Yes.
For example, had the article gone by this title (and actually lived up to it), then one of the first things I would have mentioned is the Kosher laws on the humane treatment of animals, something I have deep respect for, and that I think also is relevant to transhumanism.





Just have to intervene again. It is absolutely curious that the “techno-progressive” would cite Neturei Karta as an ally, one of the most (if not the most) backward techno-phobic and xeno-phobic sects of Judaism.





Israel is actually the biggest threat to transhumanism and to the singularity itself.

Because in my opinion Israel is the most likely nuclear state to start a nuclear war.





Ilia
“Just have to intervene again. It is absolutely curious that the “techno-progressive” would cite Neturei Karta as an ally, one of the most (if not the most) backward techno-phobic and xeno-phobic sects of Judaism.”

Let me clarify a few things.
I bring up Neturei Karta to make the point that Judaism is not united under Israel, and that there are Jews who oppose the State.
I certainly don’t agree wholesale with everything Neturei Karta may or may not believe in.

A quick note about my feelings on religion. I feel that ALL religions are crackpots. That is, I think religion itself is a form of insanity. Generally, I don’t treat any religion differently from another in this judgement, however, I do note differences in how ‘weird’ certain religions are compared to another. For example, Christianity, between the three Judeo based religions, is the weirdest. Hands down. They are the nuttiest. And then there are religions, like the Church of Scientology, the Raelians, Mormons, and many more that take the cake even from Christianity.

I resent you implying Neturei Karta as an “ally” of mine, if only because it’s inaccurate. I’ve used them as a reference (for the reasons I stated above).

The one thing I like about Neturei Karta is that they are disabusing people of the idea that Israel “is” Judaism. They are opposed to the State of Israel, not to Jewish people, or even Israeli people.

I actually associate myself more closely with anarchism (despite the term having negative connotations in modern times…though if it’s easier on the ears, you can call it ‘autonomous egalitarianism’), and my problem with Israel is the same problem I have with all governments and forms of authoritarianism, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, or religion.
The criticisms I apply to Israel are the same criticisms I apply to America, and to Saudi Arabia, and North Korea (and so many others that I don’t want to take the space to list them all).

The thing about Israel, is that it is involved in a global campaign to confuse and cause cognitive dissonance over what’s really happening. Their propaganda machine is twisting people’s minds.

“Israel fired white phosporous at civilians!”
“But 6 million Jews died in the holocaust!”

“Israel killed aid workers!”
“But 6 million Jews died in the holocaust!”

See, I’m tired of the West giving them carte blanche because “6 million Jews died in the holocaust”.

Israel should be held accountable for it’s crimes against humanity and it’s war crimes.

(and so should American politicians)
(and so should Iranian politicians)
(and so should Chinese politicians)





iPan—yes I am back again, because you need to be critiqued on using Neturei Karta to back up your ideas.  For readers who don’t know who Neturei Karta is, they are an anti-Zionist Orthodox group that is so extreme they have been “excommunicated” by other anti-Zionist groups.  Neturei Karta has attended Holocaust denial meetings in Iran, they publicly mourned Arafat’s death (for reasons that I will explain later), they agree with Ahmadinejad’s desire to wipe Israel off the map, etc.  They are nutjobs and they have also been PAID to conduct their anti-Israel activities—five years ago check receipts totalling up to $55,00 were found, Arafat was paying Neturei Karta for their activities, plus the head Neturei Karta rabbi was offered positions in future governments for his anti-Zionist displays.  You could have mentioned this when you used Neturei Karta as an example, but you didn’t, either because you don’t know that much about them, or you decided not to mention it because it was counter-productive to your thesis.  If you chose to do the latter, you’re being an irresponsible reporter.  If you’re only guilty of the former, you’re just an ignorant reporter.  If you want to present yourself as an informed person who has some relevant information to offer other informed people in a discussion, you need to actually be… an informed person.  Otherwise you run the risk of appearing to be just an over-exaggerating, generalizing, pontificator of your personal opinions who imparts fragments of incomplete and perhaps totally invalid information.  Your one point is accurate - yes, there are anti-Zionist groups in Israel,  Many of them.  We do all know that.  But I suspect that you have only a flimsy knowledge of Neturei Karta.  You would have been better off using many other saner Orthodox groups to buttress your contention.
I also want to tell you that I used to be an “anarchist” too but I got over it.  I don’t find that stance to be politically realistic - It might be a simple and enjoyable revolutionary way for you to view the world, and that’s exactly why you shouldn’t do it.  You need to think more instead of constricting yourself with your new-found ideology.  I don’t know who you are, but my niece was also a pissed-off anarchist from the age of 20-27.  Then she got over it.  Best of luck.





I’m going to do my best to address each point, one at a time.

“For readers who don’t know who Neturei Karta is, they are an anti-Zionist Orthodox group that is so extreme they have been “excommunicated” by other anti-Zionist groups.”

I’m not sure “excommunication” is relevant. The Pope has excommunicated many people and countries throughout history.
So, let’s take a deeper look.
(I did some more follow up reading after your post)

“Neturei Karta has attended Holocaust denial meetings in Iran”

Indeed they have.
I found this, from Aharon Cohen of Neturei Karta:
“There is no question that there was a Holocaust and gas chambers. There are too many eyewitnesses.”
and
“My friends I wish to end with the prayer that the underlying cause of strife and bloodshed in the Middle East, namely, the State known as ‘Israel’, be totally and peacefully dissolved.”

(there’s more, and I’m not leaving it out to omit any kind of context, and I certainly don’t agree with every thing he says…but I included this, precisely because you mention them attending Holocaust denial conventions - but you don’t mention anything they actually said there.
That would be like me insinuating Clinton is a Communist, because he took a trip to China to talk to it’s leaders.
Just because they were there, present at those meetings, does not mean they themselves deny the Holocaust, therefore I find your framing of it to be disingenuous.)

“they publicly mourned Arafat’s death”

All human life is valuable (unless your a sociopath), so why shouldn’t they mourn someone’s death?
This seems calloused to me.
You may not like or agree with Arafat (I know I don’t), but I wouldn’t put it the way you do, to criticize someone for mourning the death of another human being.

“they agree with Ahmadinejad’s desire to wipe Israel off the map”

I’ll repaste this quote, as pertaining to Neturei Karta:

“My friends I wish to end with the prayer that the underlying cause of strife and bloodshed in the Middle East, namely, the State known as ‘Israel’, be totally and peacefully dissolved.”

He says it should be PEACEFULLY dissolved. Not wiped off the map.

Also, I think Imadinnersalad’s rhetoric is just saber rattling, he’s just puffing up his chest to look all bad ass to his own country. I don’t think he has any real plans to “wipe Israel off the map”.

“They are nutjobs and they have also been PAID to conduct their anti-Israel activities”

Well, I think further investigation could be done about this, but from what I’ve been able to find so far, they were paid relatively small amounts (you should look at how much Sarah Palin was paid to speak at a University). Public figures, politicians, and diplomats have expenses. The airlines don’t let them fly free (at least not yet).
Now, I’m not saying I know what that money is being used for, all I’m saying is that all public figures are funded from somewhere, by someone. They need to funds to do what they do.
Churches ask for donations.
Governments collect taxes.
So, I’d like to look into this further, and I’d like you to provide substantial links to more information on exactly what that money was used for, and how much over how long.

“plus the head Neturei Karta rabbi was offered positions in future governments for his anti-Zionist displays”

Links?

“You could have mentioned this when you used Neturei Karta as an example, but you didn’t, either because you don’t know that much about them, or you decided not to mention it because it was counter-productive to your thesis.”

I used Neturei Karta as one of the most visible examples to illustrate the fact that Israel doesn’t represent all of Judaism.
I thought I made it clear that there is much they have to say that I personally disagree with.
For example, they talk about how Jews cannot enter Israel because God exiled them. This argument is entirely dependent on believing in their religion in the first place, which I don’t, so I find that particular stance kinda crazy.
But, it’s irrelevant to the point about how Israel itself was founded by european white imperialism.
The issue doesn’t revolve around their religion, it revolves around the fact that all the people who settled Israel after WWII were white european immigrants, and they stole land from the indigenous population, murdered it’s inhabitants, created an apartheid state, and inflict constant brutality on them.

See, I kinda figured that my caveat about how I feel about religion in one of my above comments was enough to stave off this kind of reactionary bile from you.
I thought I made it clear, that personally, I think all religious people are nutters, and I don’t share many of their beliefs.
This is about political zionism, not someone’s crackpot theories about God (which they are welcome to, as long as they don’t intrude on my freedom).

“Your one point is accurate - yes, there are anti-Zionist groups in Israel, Many of them. We do all know that.”

That in fact, is my ONE point.
You say you know it, but you don’t acknowledge it.
Not just anti-Zionist groups, but Jewish anti-Zionist groups. The whole point is that even Jews aren’t united under Israel, so Israel doesn’t represent all of Judaism worldwide.

“I also want to tell you that I used to be an “anarchist” too but I got over it. I don’t find that stance to be politically realistic - It might be a simple and enjoyable revolutionary way for you to view the world, and that’s exactly why you shouldn’t do it. You need to think more instead of constricting yourself with your new-found ideology. I don’t know who you are, but my niece was also a pissed-off anarchist from the age of 20-27. Then she got over it. Best of luck. “

I doubt you were ever serious about anarchism. If you were, you’d realize that it’s the highest ethical position one could take.

The conviction to NEVER exercise authority over another human being cannot be argued to be less ethical.
Your “political realism” is going to land you in a nuclear winter.

One last note:
I don’t appreciate your disrespectful tone in this last reply.
As far as I can tell, I’ve been very tactful, despite my strong feelings against Authoritarianism.
I think maybe you stepped just a little bit over the line this time.

Kallisti





Also, I’ve been searching as much as I can for any mention that Neturei Karta has ever committed any violence.
I can’t find any yet.
Got any links?

You may disagree with their perspective, but as far as I can tell, Neturei Karta members haven’t killed anyone yet, and that makes them more blameless than Israel.





“In your example, your using a physical object, one that happens to physically exist in France.”

So say I write “I have nothing against the French—just don’t like France, it tries to blame everything on the German invasion of 1940, and oppresses its Islamic immigrants. France needs a two-state solution: one state for the French, and one state for Islamic immigrants who can impose Sharia on their own people.”





iPan—I apologize for my disrespectful tone.  Seriously.  I am sorry,  I should not have done that.





As you see, the moderator wants only on-topic comments, so this will be my last. Hopefully the moderator will be so kind as to post this parting shot:
Please do forget in the future that it was even here at IEET, an h+ site, that crypto-antisemitic comments were rapidly (dozens within a few days) posted; “I have nothing against Jews, only against Israel” remarks—not quite dissimilar to when a neo-Confederate says something like,
“I don’t dislike blacks, just as long as they admit Jefferson Davis & Robert E. Lee were fighting for States’ rights.”





for iPan—I am sorry about the disrespectful tone I used previously.  I really am sorry.  I should not have done that.  I am also glad that you did further research on Neturei Karta, and I am glad that you have a sincere commitment to anarchist thinking.  My deep apologies. And now, I think we’d better do as the moderator suggests, veer back to transhumanism and futurism and away from the rancorous politics.  I encourage you to update yourself on technological, especially biomedical progress in Israel.  It really is quite impressive.





for iPan—I apologize for my disrespectful tone in my previous email.  I really am sorry.  It was rude of me and I regret that I did it.  Very sorry! and thanks for bringing it to my attention





Martin Fox writes: “Israel is actually the biggest threat to transhumanism and to the singularity itself. Because in my opinion Israel is the most likely nuclear state to start a nuclear war. “

Yeah, and they might wipe out the H+ headquarters in Tehran.





A goldmine for critical and cultural theorists everywhere! Transhumanists compare Israel to Transhumanism! I’m surprised no one has made this argument before - or perhaps somebody has. Of particular pleasurable to surf the waves of narrative reinforcement - a questionable ‘sci-fi scenario’ posed by the author (which, if it refers to the Holocaust at all, places it before Theodore Hertzel) prompts an article which recursively justifies itself. On a meta-level, the rhetorical similarities in Transhuman and Israeli discourse are captured in this article. Both lay claim, to on some level, existing outside-of or in-spite-of history, and both have a complex relationship to said history - in Israel and in the debate surrounding Israel, History is ideologically and politically loaded. Israelis and their country can too easily become a symbol subject to the desires of whomever deploys them in argument. In Israel, one can see the Present acting on the Past in its own interests, while simultaneously the Past shapes the Futures which those actors can foresee. Where in this semiotic jungle does human reality survive? Obviously, in transhumanism. Transhumanism hasn’t yet accrued the historical baggage (rhymes with damage, gladness, and sadness) that Israel has, and of course their paradoxical determination is to avoid it altogether, but Google, transhumanisms quiet vanguard, has in its brief existence gathered both controversy and acclaim to ornament its phenomenal success. In fact, someone should write a paper comparing Israel and Google! It’d be great PR for Israeli hi-tech.

To the moderator - I consider this post on-topic, as I am engaging in a critique of cyber-rhetoric, an issue certainly relevant to transhumanism (technically, wouldn’t anything ‘humanist’ be relevant to the ‘transhuman’?). Also, by locating the human encrusted within the information system we know as ‘language’ or ‘text,’ I am examining a virtualization of what a trans-human could be: consciousness, clearly present in said article by ‘Hank’, embodied (if that could said to be the right term) within an information system.





“which, if it refers to the Holocaust at all, places it before Theodore Hertzel)”

I don’t think zeroreference would have made this conditional accusation if he had known of the Chmielnitzki Massacres.
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/the-genocide-before-the-holocaust-1.215917





Now that the transvestite sadist (nothing wrong with transvestitism; yet sadism, real torture, is wrong) in Tripoli in on his way out, it is time to consider the future of Mideast/ N. Africa. I’m not anti-Arab/Shiite, because for one, Islamics in America have felt obligated to treat outsiders in a less pushy manner than Christians. And of far more significance: when you examine how Arab/Shiites were treated as proxies by the big powers, you realize their position is not all based on victimology—anymore than is Israel’s. Also, I do not approve of how Israel conscripts its citizens. But that’s their business.
Today peace in the Mideast has to be fast-tracked; merely to overthrow feudalist remnants is not enough—to say the least. Don’t know what to do, however do know it is going to be dicey.

People get violent when opportunities open up but they don’t know what to do with them.





i’m 31, i’ve been reading about transhumanism and negative utilitarianism for year.

i’ve seen this movement morph into years. and i’m laughing in a good way.

the lengthy comment thread above is a testament to people using their brains. what we, techno-humanists, appreciate is the use of intelligence in a cooperative manner.

of course, jews have been around far longer than technohumanism, and far longer even than the modern state of israel of which i am so proud. and during that time, jews as different peoples, and ashkenazi jews as a people in particular, have developed a culture that embraces reading, discusssion, philosophy etc…...

to any people out there uncomfortable with those jews who say ‘jews are smarter’, i will tell you we are not . but it is a fact that ‘we’ write more books , read more, and use our brains more because it is our culture and our value for the brain and the heart, rather than the fist.

it is no surprise that the state of israel, hewed in by its enemies, should be so succesful at using violence. why? because the language of violence has shifted from pure numbers to technology and logistics, things which, jews, as a people whose culture is centered on secular and religious intellectual pursuit, succeed at. we succeed at technology and humanism because we love using our brains.

the brain is a muscle. it gets stronger with use. it makes no difference who is ‘smarter’ , it makes all the difference who uses their brain the most and, whoever does, will in the short run help use technology to fight war, but in the long run, like einstein said,

will bring world peace. using your brain will bring world peace EVENTUALLY. it is a long process , and it will take hundreds if not thousands of years. and until then, those who think, and who read and write, will harness technology for many reasons, to better themselves , to get more power of violent weapons, etc….
the nation-state and the practical realities of man’s suffering in light of a chaotic world possessing famine, disease, random violent behavior (crime that is ===non-national but local in ALL nations) , organized criminal behavior, jealousy,
etc….

the well spring of human weakness and suffering will continue to drive the difficulty of global national politics as the non-political people’s of the world ( the average people ) work hard building the technology and humanist framework that is necessary for getting us to world peace.

as for the comments above—-the comments addressing political undertones of an article aimed at looking for the best in man while putting politics aside, i have this to say:

people who condemn israel for being a colonialist leftover, without reading the history of the middle east, understanding how no nation is without it’s false origin, are lying to themselves. and people who think israel is south africa , may have some valid points, but they dont’ understand that zionists are not going to leave without creating a massive nuclear mess.

to those people that condemn every-country in the middle east for being messed up, well, the world is messy, yes even america is very messy, and it is of no use to go around condemning everyone and being angry all the time.

the jews are trying to make the world a better place, but that doesn’t mean the legacy of a thousand years as a minority, of the holocaust, is going to be forgotten and that israel will simply be abandoned by intimidating it. american jews and jews all over the world will not abandon their brethren in israel simply because there are policy disputes. there is only really ONE policy at stake. and that is whether or not israel should exist. if it should than it has the existential right to defend itself. i believe in the policy of existence, the policy of zionism, and so do many people of all ethical , ethnic, and religious, colors. do i share the same philosophy as everyone who is zionist, no. i find many of them strange bedfellows ( particularly the religious american right comprised of apocalyptic baptists who are proudly ‘anti-science’ and who openly reject evolution——these are not people who are taking the world where it needs to go right now )

there remains tribalism in the world—and it will continue for the forseeable future . neo-futurists and transhumanists need to come to terms with this fact and learn to accept this on some level. are the jews tribalists? sure. is everyone else? of course. are the jews trying to create new religions to make the world peacefull, yes!!! and have we done this before , yea, jesus was a jew. and as much as some jews resent their historical treatment by christians. it is the development of christianity over 2000 years that brought us to this very point where we are now. this is a good point. it is the only point. it is where we must be and where we are. christians, jews, muslims, buddhists, aetheists, communists, and capitalists…..all of these people can be transhumanist.

contradictions are what allow human beings to trancend the narrow world they were born with, and to go beyond. to a better world tomorrow. in jewish prayer, the saying, bshana’ ha ba’ah bi’ yerooshalyim, means “in the year to come in jerusalem” . the phrase is key saying in our culture and it always meant to be spoken as a phrase of hope. looking forward. we are in jerusalem now. maybe not with the messiah ( if you believe in that sort of thing ) , but we are there none-theless. so what is next? what is the next hope?

perhaps the next hope is a new religion, a new philosophy . maybe some jews like hank will play a special role in making it happen. we did it once, maybe now’s the second time?

here’s to transhumanism being a positive force to help mankind. a force to break down all national racial and religious lines, and a force which people of all nations, ethnicities, and religions can cooperate together to build up together, to commune and to understand and tolerate one another.

leh’chaim.





@ zeev - thanks for writing in this great posting. BTW, I am not jewish. Not remotely so. Your remarks are wonderful, I particularly like your comment that transhumanists need to understand that tribalism isn’t going to simply disappear anytime soon.  BTW - I might be going to a Sci Fi and Transhumanist festival in Tel Aviv in October - look me up and say HI.





hank. i did not think you were jewish smile.
just jew friendly, which i appreciate. i am jewish.
i have studied budhissm, spent a lot of time in catholic churches, i’ve been baptised for fun and i like religion.

it took years of being a so called aetheist and talking to communists and technoutopians, and other people to realize that the old model of seeing religion as only an opiate——- was based on a world where religion and state were the only fundamental models of social action, and where ‘philosophy’ was relegated to academia.

reglion has good parts. and new religions are desperately needed to deal with our new technologies.

——as for tel aviv. my sister is there, but i rarely visit. maybe this year will be different.

thanks you for your writing, so far i’ve like it a good deal.
i found this article and then read 4 of your others , they were all good.

i found the one on brazil very interesting but i didn’t comment.
funnily enough, you could spend your whole career on wall street analyzing brazil for a major investment bank. ===that was the one article of yours that seemed to be too involved in the real world of economics smile precisely why i liked it.
i have very eclectic taste. i am a deep believer in technology , almost being fundamentalist about it. but fundamentally, the most advanced technology we have is ourselves. mankind, and above all, it is studying this technology that will allow us to predict where our computers, medicine, communications, weapons, and even genetic/pharmocological engineering of ourselves and our personalities ( david pearce is keen on biopsychiatric utopianism) , will take us.

good luck hank!maybe i’ll see you in tel aviv.





Hank,

If you’re going to be in Tel Aviv, I think you should check out the mass protests going on there. It would be wonderful to get some interviews of those protesting.





No amount of achievements in ingenuity can act as atonement for
war crimes, ethnic cleansing , wholesale murders of innocent children or genocides.  What Israel is doing is indefensible, even I encourage people not to try.

As a comparison, I loathe Islamic culture, especially the orthodox kind. I don’t know what I know am now allowed to loathe in Israeli society, but the thing I have come to viciously hate feels very familiar to me. It’s a particular kind of self-righteous, self-validating and psychopathic culture that was a little more visible in Europe about three quarters of a century ago. As far as I am concerned there is a sickness and a depravity in the middle east, and despite the ingenuity visible in Israel, the rotting heart at the knesset and the poison in Israeli society is uncannily akin to the same exhibited by some in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Al Quaida or the likes of ISIS.

Habitual murderers do as they do. They simply seem to be incapable of anything else. Must be something in the soil there, I suppose.

I suppose you were a little ignorant Hank, back in august 2010. Let’s hope you learned.

Let me say it in another way - I am losing faith in Transhuman ideals. I sometimes thing that the wonderful future we might inherit is something to be earned, by love, by forgiveness, by generosity, by patience. If that’s the case, well, I have been seeing so much filth that increasingly the human race is becoming deserving of quite another future.

Prove me wrong.





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