Disavow, Renounce, Didn’t Hear

Gershom Gorenberg

Just in case I’m ever struck by the mad thought of running for political office in Israel, I’d like to set the record straight: I don’t agree with the prophet Isaiah’s political views. He doesn’t speak for me. No way.

It’s true that I’ve enjoyed some of his sermons, and I took some comfort from the spiritual stuff, like that vision of heaven, with the six-winged creatures praising God. But I attended to Isaiah strictly for the religion, not for the politics. I mean, I’m a patriotic Israeli (even if my lapel pin got lost in the wash, honestly).

I’m pretty sure I wasn’t even there the day he said,

Ah, sinful nation!
People laden with iniquity!
Brood of evildoers!
Depraved children!
They have forsaken the Lord,
spurned the Holy One of Israel,
Turned their backs on Him!

but if I was there, I slept through the sermon. Otherwise, I would have told him that I might just run for office, and therefore I cannot tolerate him cursing my country.

Actually, now that I look for the first time at the transcripts (thank God there’s no YouTube clip) I can see it gets even worse. This Isaiah, he’s a wright nut, he is. In Hebrew, after all, the names Sodom and Gomorrah refer not to cities where family values were violated (which is a reasonable issue to bring up) but to places that refused to help poor people and that didn’t accept immigrants. Those are other countries, not ours. We don’t have any class warfare in our country. We don’t even talk about class issues in polite company. And here Isaiah comes and equates us with them:

Hear the word of the Lord,
You chieftains of Sodom;
Give ear to our God’s instruction,
You folk of Gomorrah!

“What need have I of all your sacrifices?”
says the Lord…
Though you pray at length
I will not listen.
Your hands are stained with crime…

Devote yourselves to justice;
Aid the wronged.
Uphold the rights of the orphan
Defend the cause of the widow.

Honestly, Isaiah, you might as well say, “God damn Israel.” I don’t go for this stuff. Despite what certain pundits say, I’m not a Marxist. When you say things like, “Your land is a waste, your cities burnt down,” it sounds like you are blaming us , our country, for the bad things that happen to us, which is absurd, because we have never wronged anyone, here or abroad.

So let me make it clear: I was not there when Isaiah said this stuff. And if I was, I wasn’t listening. And if I was listening, I told him I don’t agree. Now can we get back to some serious issues, now?

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19 thoughts on “Disavow, Renounce, Didn’t Hear”

  1. I am not sure what point you are trying to make here, but if you are attempting to say that Wright is no different than the Biblical prophets, I would point out that are major differences between them. The Biblical prophets weren’t adept at lining their pockets like Wright is, they also condemned Israel’s enemies and called down Divine wrath upon them. Wright blamed the US for the Hiromshima and Nagasaki, apparently not realizing that they saved not only possibly hundreds of the thousands of lives of his fellow Americans (okay, they were almost all white during the segregated army days of WW2), but also MILLIONS of Japanese, Chinese and other east Asians. This shows me that Wright is an igroramus, no matter how smooth a talker he is. I am truly mystified at the hero-worship so many “progressives” are heaping on Obama. People saying we should overlook Obama’s 20-year long association with Wright would never say the same about some other candidate who had a similar relationship with a professed bigot and hate-monger.

  2. Mr.Ben Davd: Again you are quite willing to shoot your pen off and show your total lack of historical facts. I have been to Hiroshma up close and personal and stood in the Peace Park at the point of “ground zero” and asked God to forgive us for this act which was steeped in hatred for the Japanese not any great military tactic The Japanese were beaten and they were making overtures with the Russians when they were bombed. The propaganda that millions of A merican lives were saved was the crap we were fed and I have first-hand knowledge of it being 7 years old at the time. We were taught daily to hate the Japanese not the Germans. I never heard that the Germans were working on an a-bomb before the end of the war.We didn’t intern native-born Germans like we did Japanese. We excused the German monsters and even hired Werner Von Braun who used Jewish slave labor at the rocket sites.I worked at Chrysler when he and his brother Magnus were there.We paid these criminals big money.Remember better dead than RED

    I am no fan of Dr, Wright , who appears to like his new found pulpit;the public! Barak needs to call upon other notable Black preachers to refute Wright’s rants The Black church is where and for years the only “spokesforum” for their grievances unfortunately they are honest about how a large segment of Americans feel about Jews and Israel but would never admit it and never in print ,sure political suicide. Don’t give my fellow countrymen too much credit.If oil is no longer a vital issue to the government see how fast they leave Israel in the lurch.It’s a terrible indictement and I hope it never happens

    It’s obvious that your sympathies are with the neo- facists (Republicans) Well lets talk about John McCain’s thirst for endoresments Rev.Hagee and his Christian Zionists of Sugarland,Texas for one .These people come from what we call the Christian Hate Belt. Rev. Hagee says that”Roman Catholics are” apostate whores and the anti-Christ” and the blacks in the 9th Ward got what they deserved because they offended God.McCain says he sought Hagee’s endorsement althought he doesn’t agree with all his opinions;thats like saying I sought Hitler’s endorsement but I don’t aree with all his opinions after I read Mein Kampf.McCain knew what this turkey stood for but he needs the haters vote

    I know the settllement “wonks” just love Hagee and his freaks but backpedal about 50 or 60 years and you find that these groups were enthusiastic jew haters Now their corrupted view of Revelations has given them a new BS program I note that Fraud (Fox)Rupert’s organ was the only American news network in Israel. You must watch it because your comments in regard to Obama mouth their’s

  3. Mr Hilborn,

    No, I am NOT “lacking historical facts”. Read Richard Frank’s recent book “Downfall” where he, using JAPANESE SOURCES, shows that Japanese were NOWHERE near surrender when the A-bombs were dropped. The fact you happened to visit Hiroshima gives you no extra knowledge of the facts.
    Frank points out that 100,000 Chinese were dying EVERY MONTH and had the war dragged on another few months, Japan would have been faced with famine and plague that could have claimed millions of lives . The slogan at the time being propagated by the government to the population at the time was “100 million die together”. They were training civilians to take hand grenades and to approach American soldiers and become suicide bombers.

    After showing your attitudes to entire populations by ignorant assertions that settlers are “ignorant, violent brownshirts(actually their education level is higher than the national average), you know dismiss half of your fellow Americans as “neo-fascists”, I now know how much weight to give to your opinions.

  4. George, the Germans were in fact working on an A-bomb during the war. The effort was aborted in 1944 when Norwegian terro… I mean freedom fighters famously blew up the Tinnsjø ferry carrying the remaining stock of heavy water from the Vemork plant, which the Americans had bombed in November 1943.
    The Japanese, OTOH, had never been working on a bomb (or at least we were never told over here).

  5. Fiddler:

    The Japanese WERE working on an A-Bomb, they were even making progress, but it would have taken them far longer than the Americans to get it to work. (This is discussed in Richard Frank’s book which I mentioned in my earlier comment). I saw a television program about the US-Japan war and a Japanese war veteran said he would ask fellow Japanese who thought it was “unfair” that the A-bombs were used on them, that if they had the bomb, wouldn’t they have used it on their enemies?
    Don’t forget that the Japanese also did experiments in bacteriological warfare which it is believed the Emperor himself either took an interest in or actually participated in (he dabbled in marine biology).

  6. Yes I know the Germans were working on the bomb but not as a 7 year old .I was taught to hate the Japanese not the Germans so as a 7 year old I thought anything we used on the Japanese was allright and so did all Americans. That’s no excuse for its use and all the pundits can line up their arguments to try to justify it. That’s akin to the napalm I saw used in Viet Nam in 1968 and 69,being in a 155 mm outfit we didn’t didn’t fire it but we saw the innocent woman and children it was used on, when we went through the hamlets, scarred for life if they recovered Our pilots never saw the hell they wont. The end does not always justify the means. It is great to rationalize when there are so-called senarios that say “well they would have used it on us” I have a senario that says we didn’t use it on the Germans because German-Americans are our second biggest ethnic grouping and even Eisenhower was of German parentage.The penalties of being different racially in this country are great.There are powerful elements in this country that want to keep it that way.

    I should be on the side of those who want to keep things the same seeing Thomas Hilborn arrived in New Jersey in 1657 but being a Quaker he started our family heritage of being “trouble makers” for humanitarian causes.Eventhough I caused some consternation among the clan for being in the Army and fighting in Nam.I bought the BS “hook line and sinker” I have had a chance to mature since then and see my country as it is not in some idealized posture.
    When I was in Israel in March I was advised by our Methodist missionary intern (I left the Quaker fold in the 60s) that Israeli security considers those of us who do humanitarian work among the Palestinians and Christian Arabs as” trouble makers” I told him that I would wear that badge proudly “It is patriotic to dissent” and ” hate is a four letter word”

  7. After Obama’s speech on racism Jon Stewert’s comment was,

    “In surprising news today a politician seeking election spoke to us as if we were adults”

    Unfortunately as the campaign wears on Obama is finding out that the public still isn’t ready for that. It’ll cost us a lot to be so easily distracted and manipulated by the ratings seeking media and the bought and paid for opinions of the talking heads. I like this article and I think the point is easy to see. The crazy things that Wright may believe and add to a few sermons over a 30 year career as a preacher have absolutely nothing to do with Obama as a candidate. We should be rejecting this as an ongoing topic for discussion and rejecting those who use it. We should be insisting that our media and our leaders focus on the many critical issues that face us rather than this national inquirer mentality. We allowed ourselves to be manipulated in 2004 and have paid a terrible price. If we allow it again we have only ourselves to blame for the consequences of our willful blindness. I’m hoping that in general, we’re smarter and more mature than that. I’m hoping we truly care about our country enough to finally and forcefully say enough and start cleaning up our own house.

  8. Mr Brayall,

    I am afraid Wright’s behavior is most certainly a legitimate subject of discussion as related to Obama’s candidacy. Somehow I feel that if a Republican candidate had a close, 20-year-long relationship with a white racist preacher who was as obnoxious as Wright, the Democrats would be screaming about it, and justifiably so. Obama has no inherent RIGHT to be President, and while you are right that not enough is spoken about the issues, a candidate’s character and associations are certainly legitimate subjects of scrutiny.

  9. Republicans don’t make up 50% of the voting public and neither do Democrats most Americans aren’t affiliated with either party.What I was pointing out was the official party line now from the party head and this does not apply to the party’s past history.I am willing to point out what I see as a patriotic American using what I perceive as my patriotic and moral duty to speak out against past and present injustices caused by the country I love ,either directly or indirectly. Unfortunately some cannot do that and excuse their unjust conduct by blaming their advisaries for their inability not to see the others’ point of view.

    I am critical of my country because it needs to change.and a young 1/2 Black man may be the vehicle for this change.The voters in this country consist of an adult populace where only 15% of the public has a passport ,less than 20% has a library card,less than 8% read a daily newspaper. Yes we have Barnes& Noble,Amazon.com,and Borders, but a closer look at them shows that the big sellers are pulp fiction. We seem to be bombarded by opinions not news , repeated and repeated over and over on the boob tube. This is an ignorant country not a inherently stupid country ,a uninformed country .I’m sure not too many Americans can tell you right where Iran is or anything about who the Shia are,but we are told they are the enemy ;so say Dubya and Israel so it’s got to be true.

    Mr,Ben David quoted Eric Blair A/K/A George Orwell once ;isn’t this the society discribed in his book 1984 or the beginning of the formulation of it.

    Mr. Ben David: you claim that the soldiers from the settlements rank higher than the national average educationally Back it up with authoritative sources and who was included in the mix and who was compiling the data and what were the parameters? Was the scientific method used to formulate a hypothesis and was the hypothesis tested ? Or was this just a compilation of raw data? Did the ranking include just Israelis or all the people living in Israel? How did they rank against other Israeli recruits?

  10. Mr Hilborn;

    Half of the population in Judea/Samaria (what you refer to as “the settlements”) is religious, half is secular. Most of the religious come from what is called the “National Religious” trend, as opposed to the Haredi (so-called “Ultra-Orthodox”) trend. A high percentage of these National Religious serve in combat units. The National Religious population has a high level of education relative to the entire population. No doubt you would find the ideas of these National Religious people distateful (religious, nationalist, etc), but this doesn’t detract from the fact that they have this more educated background. The population of Israel with the lowest educational background does not generally live in Judea/Samaria, since many or most of those who do have at least some ideological motivation to live there, particularly in the more outlying communities, and ideological people tend to be more educated. Among the secular and the religious population in Judea/Samaria, a high percentage are professionals. Thus your characterization of them as “uneducated brownshirts” is way off the mark.

    Regarding the Quakers, it seems that we Jews are always on the wrong side of them. During the Second World War, the Quakers opposed fighting the Germans who were murdering us….presumably because the “weak” should passively submit to the “strong”. I also recall reading once, (please correct me if I am wrong), Quakers helped German war criminals escape justice because, as I understand, they believe no human can judge another. If we fast forward to today, now the line has changed……the Quakers now have decided that the “weak” (in their minds, the Palestinians, but I would argue with that definition) should actively resist the supposedly “strong”, i.e. us. We just can’t win.

  11. Now on to some of my sources for my position on the Hiroshima bombing:

    1) Admiral “Bill Bull ” Halsey
    2) Admiral W D Leahy “It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no materal assistance in our war against Japan”( I Was There) William Leahy
    3)Barton Bernstein The Atomic Bomb
    4)Magic Diplomatic Summary7/26/45 Records of the National Security Agency,Magic Files,National Archives

    5) The Private Papers of Harry S Truman pg53
    6) The A -Bomb Was Not Needed;Ellis Zacharias
    7)Ike on Ike, Newsweek 11/11/63 pg108 “It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing”
    8)Japan’s Decision To Surrender;Robert Butow
    9)” A Postwar Myth;500,000 US Lives Saved” Barton Bernstein

    These sources and many others support the theory that the bomb was not the only option open to President Truman. Both Generals Marshall and MacArthur thought the maximum figure was between 20,000 and 46,000 troops not the myth that was promulgated later to keep the public from asking troubling about the effects of the bomb

    Read William Manchester’s great biography on Douglas MacArthur ” An American Ceasar” Here is a man who understood the Japanese and the importance of the Emperor to the Japanese people and that’s why he permitted a form of constitutional monarchy to go forth and single-handedly promoted reforms in government and society which are the nucleus of the present economic powerhouse we call Japan. General MacArthur would have jumped at the chance to have dialog with the Japanese or the Emperor’s representatives on the status of the Emperor vis-a-vis unconditional surrender and possibly negated the dropping of the bomb but it wasn’t his call.The US wanted a neat ,tidy, narrowly framed total victory and the bomb was the answer;it got it. For Mr. Ben David ;Douglas Mac Arthur is one of my hero’s.He was a lifelong Republican,a vain martinet,pompous but a absolutely brilliant military tactician . He did lack political savy and he paid for. This also a man who insisted that the post-war Japanese government permit the formation of labor unions.Name a Republican now days that would go along with that program

  12. Quakers have died for their beliefs to be pacifists .Yes; right in Boston by the Puritans in Boston Commons Mary Dyer was hung for her beliefs.Now you want to fault these people because they weren’t killng Germans but serving in medical units.That’s one of the most asinine things I have ever heard uttered. Most American soldiers were doing their job in WWII.No one killed German soldiers because they might have killed Jews.They killed them because they were the enemy.The US government kept the knowledge of the death camps secret even from most division and corps commanders.
    Now to what American Quakers do in the judiciary. I know only a few practicing Quakers and only one judge and he has no compunction to sentence a convicted felon to life .

    I do have a major problem with theocracies and I would take up arms against any government that imposed one. I would violently oppose a system as you have in Israel as an intrusion of the First Amendment. I,Sir don’t consider Israel a democratic republic in form or actually. Unfortunately my country has picked up some bad habits from yours in their so-called “war on terror” such as the right to counsel for detainees,right to the writ of habeas corpus, which goes back to the Magna Carta,the use of torture on prisoners which both our CIA and your security service thinks is ok. It’s not ok and never has been. The Gestapo loved torture and they said they were doing it to defend the “volk”.In Israel and the US aren’t they saying they are protecting their “volk”Sure there are some differences but when a government througth it’s agents acts like thugs ,they are thugs. One actual example I know of was a young Palestinian I personally talked with who was tortured by Israeli security and was hospitalized for three weeks and released; no charges yet I know of others. Amnesty International has the data and so do many organizationsThe” holier than thou” blows What happened during the holocaust does not give the survivors or their heirs the right to engage in similiar or barbarous conduct ; otherwise you have forfeited the moral high ground you once had

  13. Mr. David

    The republicans have courted icons of the religious right for years and ignored or tolerated remarks just as hateful as any Wright has made. They still welcome and seek that support. It’s pure hypocrisy to claim the fact that Obama has known Wright for 20 years makes a crucial difference in the guilt by association game. There’s hasn’t been one shred of evidence that Obama ever supported or agreed with any of Wright’s offensive statements. It’s also a purposely dishonest misrepresentation of Wright’s years of service to select several outrageous statements and imply that’s the sum total of his work and attitude.

    The amount of coverage and discussion their relationship and those few incendiary comments has gotten is ridiculous when compared to the serious issues this country is facing. It’s a political distraction and attack that we should be smart enough not to fall for. Our outrage should be aimed at those seeking to distract and manipulate us and the media for cooperating for the sake of ratings. Sadly, it will continue as long as we allow it and support it.

  14. Richard Frank disputes almost all the sources you give. In any event, there are far more people who were present at the decision-making process who supported using the bomb.

  15. Here is a link to an article by Richard Frank where he summarizes his views. He specifically rejects the claim that MacArthur believed Japanese surrender was imminent before the bomb was used.


    For your information, Israel is not a “theocracy”. Religious laws generally only apply to personal status (marriage, divorce, etc), but I should point out your Palestinian friends have the same thing, so I suggest you direct your criticism against them as well.
    Official Palestinian propaganda is that it is a praisworthy act to kill Jews. Many Palestinians want to do this (this is what their public opinion polls show). Now, your “moral sensibilities” say that we should allow them to do it so that you can feel good about us. I am frankly not interested in living up to YOUR sensibilities. We did that for far too long. Be honest, did we EVER have the “moral high ground” in your eyes? Did we have it because we had the “honored” position of being big-time “victims” for a short time after 1945? We decided we are not going to be victims any more, and if that makes us lose “the moral high ground” in your eyes, so be it.

  16. Mr. Ben David : You will have to do better .When was Frank there? I guess Admiral Leahy wasn’t in the Far East Theater or “Bull” Halsey. Frank”s scholarship is about as good as Ben Stein’s attempt to refute evolution on CNN last week .I don’t see where he refutes my sources with anything but hearsay. His book is nothing but revisionist drivel When did you read MacArthur’s biography by Manchester? It’s not a book you can pick up on the library shelf.

    On another point ; the new settlements according to the EU and the United Nations are illegal;I don’t care.I only repeat my dear friend, Rabbi Sherwin Wine’s comment, after seeing them in early2007,” they look like upscale ghettos,I thought Jews were tired of living in ghettos with walls” Unfortunately we lost Rabbi Wine last July to an automobile accident. It was a great loss to all the Christian and other religious groups in the Birmingham,Bloomfield,and Southfield area of a man of towering intellect ,compassion for humanity ,and a supporter of world peace

    Yes,Israel had the moral high ground over all their so-called enemies until Sharon permitted the slaughter of the Palestinians in Lebanon in the 1980s along with the complicity of the Mariot Christians. In that I believe in a “loving” God I believe he too should be pardoned for his sins, and I hope he is not suffering in his present condition

  17. Frank , in his book, notes that those who claimed in later years to oppose the use of the bomb did not leave any record of this opposition in the discussions that were held at the time among the policy makers. And so what if Leahy opposed it, Marshall and most of the others were in favor of it, including the President. Frank says that Leahy claimed that Japan would have surrendered anyway without use of the bomb. THIS IS TRUE, no one disputes this. But the question was “AT WHAT COST”? You yourself gave the reason that justified using the bomb in an earlier comment:
    “The US wanted a neat ,tidy, narrowly framed total victory and the bomb was the answer;it got it. ”
    That was the whole idea! Let’s say they didn’t use it. Frank says the idea of an American invasion of the Home Islands as parts of Operation Olympic and Operation Coronet was being viewed as less and less viable due to the Japanese moving strong forces and Kamikaze air units to Kyushu which was the object of Operation Olympic. So then the idea was blockage (the chillingly named “Operation Starvation”) and continued conventional air bombing. Don’t forget there were also large Japanese armies on the continent of Asia, in China, Manchuria, plus Indochina as well as the Dutch East Indies (today’s Indonesia). Now, in hindsight, we know that the Japanese army in Manchuria collapsed much more quickly than expected as a result of the Soviet invasion. Did you know 350,000 Japanese died in that assault, many of them civilians? So let’s say the war would continue for another 4 months, before surrender. As Frank pointed out, over 100,000 Chinese were dying every month, large numbers of Allied prisoners were dying every month as well. Famine was just around the corner in Japan, so we don’t know how many would have died from that , plague and civil disorder. There was talk about the Soviets invading Hokkaido at this point. How many would have died in that operation? There was also the possibility that the Soviets would have set up a “People’s Republic” in their zone of control just like they did in Korea (for which the world is still paying to this day).
    Since the surrender would not have been the result of a great shock but rather a war of attrition, it is possible that the Japanese forces outside the Home Islands would have continued fighting (don’t forget that the Japanese Kwantung Army in Manchuria and China had a history of insubordination), or tha there could have been a coup in Japan itself of extremist elements opposed to surrender.

    All of this is assuming the Americans don’t invade. But if they did there was the precendents of the horrific casualties suffered on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the mass suicides of civilians like on Saipan and Okinawa.

    If you also want to claim that Japanese was “really” on the verge of surrender before Hiroshima (something that Frank shows CLEARLY was NOT the case-don’t forget the Japanese openly rejected the Potsdam Declaration), then why didn’t immediately contact the Americans after the first bomb. For three days they did nothing and it is recorded that many Japanese military leaders claimed the Americans wouldn’t be able to repeat it.
    Thus, to me it is clear. There was NO choice in the matter about whether to use the bomb or not.

    I hope Mr Gorenberg and Mr Watzman will forgive this digression from the subject matter of their blog, but since this matter was opened, I feel it is necessary to clarify it since this deals with issues still alive in our own time.

  18. Mr. Ben David: Historians usually have a built-in bias and so does Frank.I find his scholarship suspect because he glosses over much of the importance of the Emperor.I will give you an example and I will pull it out of my copy of an American Ceasar and I believe MacArthur was talking to a Japanese General in the 1920s, when he was a staff officer,who was complaining about the Army’s inability to control cholera among the soldiers because they wouldn’t take the Western medicine given to them. MacArthur told him to tell them that the Emperor said they had to and it was done with total compliance.No one on our side knew the Japanese mindset like MacArthur having lived a considerable among his life in the Orient. First with his father General Arthur MacArthur and later in his many assignments in the Far East.The Emperor was given god- like standing even with the “hot heads” MacArthur was one of only five star generals,he spoke fluent Japanese and had met the Emperor before the war and was very familiar with the Japanese royal procedures.So why wasn’t he brought into the loop ?;because George Marshal hated him. He was obviously smarter than Marshal,Marshal never had actual battlefield experience and Mac Arthur did and the big reason was that they were both dating a good looking woman in Washington in the early 30s and Doug won out.So the point is Mac Arthur was never given a chance It may have come to naught ,but the Japanese respected MacArthur,but we will never know so we let the”genie” out of the bottle and now we have the capacity to wipe us all out.

    When Hillary says that we will wipe Iran out if they attack Israel ,I’m sure they would use Nukes if they had them but what would be left of Israel? NOTHING .Time for a new senario

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