Indeed, 2019 was rich with rupture-climax events. But it might also be said that 2019 was as much the year of the anti-climax--that is, the year that events, long anticipated, finally burst fully ripened. That was, of course, the story of the impeachment of President Trump by the US House of Representatives. But it was also the case with the decoupling of the Chinese and US economies (and note, not their separation or segregation) marked by rupture at the beginning of the year and a first stage arrangement at its end. This was also the year of Brexit, but not just Brexit but of the metaphor of Brexit fro the great inversions of political affiliation that appeared to affect political communities worldwide. In some sense, this was also the great year of Jew baiting--everyone, it seems, had something to say about the People of Israel, even as their actions usually belied their words. It was also the year of explosions. There were explosions in Hong Kong, in Bolivia, in the UK, and in that stew pot that is Syria-Lebanon. This was also the year of the rise of the core of leadership--in Turkey, Russia, China, the United States, Germany, and France. When one thinks about 2019 in the future, one will think--climax, explosion, rupture, and revelation.
With no objective in particular, this post and a number that follow provides my summary of the slice of 2019 to which I paid attention through epigrams and aphorisms. It follows an end of year tradition I started in 2016 (for those see here), 2017 (for these see here), and 2018 (for those see here).
Ruminations 89: 2019 in Epigrams and Aphorisms:
Ruminations 89(1) (Blasphemies).
Ruminations 89(2) (Cults and Cult Objects).
Ruminations 89(3) (Impeachments).
Ruminations 89(4) (Data, Discretion, and Analytics in the State-Enterprise Complex).
Ruminations 89(5) (The "Jewish Question" as Global Social Ordering)
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. My Administration is committed to combating the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incidents in the United States and around the world. Anti-Semitic incidents have increased since 2013, and students, in particular, continue to face anti Semitic harassment in schools and on university and college campuses.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq., prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance. While Title VI does not cover discrimination based on religion, individuals who face discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin do not lose protection under Title VI for also being a member of a group that shares common religious practices. Discrimination against Jews may give rise to a Title VI violation when the discrimination is based on an individual’s race, color, or national origin.
It shall be the policy of the executive branch to enforce Title VI against prohibited forms of discrimination rooted in anti-Semitism as vigorously as against all other forms of discrimination prohibited by Title VI. (Executive Order on Combating Anti-Semitism)
2. The Jewish Question is a specific application of a fundamental ordering principle of society that is the expression of the structures of detachment and separation that may be invoked both to define a society and to transform it in the shadow of another, one deeply embedded into the evolving world view of the society of which it forms a part.
"Russian President Vladimir Putin says he doesn’t care about alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election because the actions weren’t connected to his government. In an interview with American broadcaster NBC News that aired Saturday, Putin also suggested that some of the 13 Russian nationals indicted by the United States may not be ethnically Russian. “Maybe they are not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship, which should also be checked,” he said." (Putin Says)
"As Sultan Nazrin recently pointed out, after 62 years existence and experience as an independent country, national unity in Malaysia still seems elusive. We are now more polarized, divided and distrustful of other races. This will remain the case for as long as the government justifies distinguishing people by race and religion, and the country is claimed by one ethnic group. Leaders often deplore the lack of unity, but rely on and support policies that continue segregation and create disunity. For true unity it is important that all segments of Malaysian society are treated as equal. There should be one nation for all people living in Malaysia. There should not be different classes of citizens.
Everyone must consider themselves Malaysian and must think and act accordingly. Affirmative action, if required, should be based on need and not race. The real issues underlying disunity in the country are race and religion. These issues should be addressed head on. The prime minister has stated that in a true meritocratic system the Malays would be sidelined in their own country. Critical of the Malays, Mahathir seems to imply that Malays are incompetent and will lose out in a competitive system. I disagree with this assumption. He has referred to the non-Malays as foreigners at the time of independence. He seems to subscribe to the asal-pendatang thesis which creates classes of citizens. The Barisan Nasional (BN) government, to its credit, abandoned this distinction. To its credit, the BN Government helmed by Najib Razak advanced the Satu Malaysia (One Malaysia) concept." (National Unity Still Elusive).
3. The Jewish Question arises when a people can be constructed as detachable from the political society in which they form a part.
Indonesian police arrested a man on Friday accused of creating an anti-Chinese disinformation campaign to incite racial hatred, amid a proliferation of rumours alleging Chinese involvement in post-election unrest that has raised fears of ethnic violence. Police say the suspect created a viral hoax using a photo of three Indonesian police officers at protests this week with a caption describing them as secret Chinese soldiers based on their “slanted eyes.” They presented the suspect in an orange jumpsuit and face mask at a press conference on Friday, along with three men described as the officers in the photo, deployed to Jakarta from the Indonesian island of Sumatra. “We are real Indonesian mobile brigade police. We are not Chinese officers,” one of the men said. Clashes have broken out between security forces and protesters this week after results showed President Joko Widodo had defeated challenger Prabowo Subianto in last month’s poll. Eight people have been killed and more than 700 hurt in the unrest, which occurred after peaceful rallies descended into chaos after nightfall over three days this week. Ethnic-Chinese Indonesians make up less than 5 per cent of the population of 260 million people in the world’s most populous Muslim country. Many successful business figures are Chinese, and the community has been a target in the past of ethnic violence and discrimination over its perceived wealth.
The Baha’is of Iran—the largest non Muslim religious minority in the country—have suffered the “most egregious forms of repression, persecution and victimization” over the last 40 years, notes Javaid Rehman, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, adding that the Iranian authorties should ensure that all religious minorities are recognized and able to enjoy the right to freedom of religion or belief. In his report to the UN General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur outlines a series of human rights violations against the Baha’i community of Iran and other ethnic and religious minorities, and sets out a number of recommendations to the Iranian authorities. “The absence of constitutional and legal recognition for non-recognized minorities entails denials of fundamental human rights for their followers. Left outside the national legal framework, unrecognized minority religious groups such as Baha’is, Christian converts, [and] Sufis...are the targets of discriminatory legislation and practices,” the report reads. . . . “Given that the Baha’i Faith is regarded as a ‘misguided sect’ and Baha’i worship and religious practices are deemed heresy, they frequently face charges such as ‘breaching national security’, ‘propaganda against the holy regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran’ or ‘propaganda activities against the regime in the interests of the Baha’i sect,’” the report adds. (Baha’is of Iran suffer most egregious forms of persecution - UN report).
Anti-Semitic posters have been put up all over the Polish capital Warsaw in recent days ahead of the country’s national elections. The posters include images of former and current Israeli diplomats as well as prominent Jewish figures along with the slogan “Beware of parasites” — using a play on the words to include the word for “Jew” as part of the word for “parasites.” Among those featuring on the posters are US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher, former Israeli ambassador Anna Azari, Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, and London-born Israeli activist for Holocaust commemoration Johnny Daniels. The posters also call for an end of restitution to Jewish owners and their heirs of property that was seized during the Holocaust, saying it is a “mafia” program, and demand that Poland “Stop the Jewish occupation” of the country.
"The Jewish Question is as old as the history of Jewry itself. From the days of antiquity to the present, peoples have always risen up to defend themselves against Jewish parasitism. The defense was often bloody. Greater Germany is the first country in the world to find a legal way to separate from the alien Jewish people. In contrast to the views of the last century and of the so-called democrats of today, National Socialism sees the Jewish Question not as a religious problem, but rather as a racial question." (German Propaganda Archive: The Jewish Question (Max Eichler, Du bist sofort im Bilde (Erfurt: J. G. Cramer’s Verlag, 1939) pp. 139-142. ))
6. The Jewish Question normalizes, as a societal habit, the ghetto; normalizes apartheid; normalizes the guards (provided by the community from out of which the Question arises in the first place) whose protection lasts as long as the patience of a society in transformation wills it, but whose necessity underlines the difficulty of embedding the group within the societal fabric; the greater the protective measures the more likely the success of separating the group from the society around it.
"So why has the news that a synagogue in the Netherlands stopped posting the time of services upset me above all? Because it is vivid proof that anti-Semitism is driving Jews underground in the West. For some time now, many kippah-wearing Jews have adopted the habit of wearing baseball caps when visiting Europe. Young people think twice before wearing Israeli-flag T-shirts when they wander the streets of Paris. Or before carrying a backpack with the name of their Jewish youth group prominently displayed. A number of years ago, I met a Jewish woman from Brussels who told me that she had asked her teenage children not to wear their Jewish-star necklaces in public. She acknowledged that she was embarrassed to have asked them and relieved when they agreed. During a trip to Berlin, a friend gave me directions to an out-of-the-way synagogue. After some intricate explanations, he added that if I got lost, I should look for police on the street with submachine guns. “That,” he noted, “would be the entrance to the synagogue.” But I should also keep watch for men in baseball caps and follow them. “They will lead you to the synagogue.” I did get lost, and followed some men in baseball caps as instructed. I was relieved when I saw the police. I had found it." (Jews are Going Underground).
"When will enough be enough? These heinous attacks make something abundantly clear: the Jewish community needs greater protection," the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement. "We are calling for increased protection for the Jewish community now and for those in positions of power and leadership to guarantee that the full force of the law is brought down on those who perpetrate these horrific crimes."().
7. The ideologies of the Jewish Question is premised ultimately on absorption or expulsion; but in its contemporary guise always at the instance of the object of the Question.
Pervasive persecution of Christians, sometimes amounting to genocide, is ongoing in parts of the Middle East, and has prompted an exodus in the past two decades, according to a report commissioned by the British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt. Millions of Christians in the region have been uprooted from their homes, and many have been killed, kidnapped, imprisoned and discriminated against, the report finds. It also highlights discrimination across south-east Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and in east Asia – often driven by state authoritarianism. . . The report shows that a century ago Christians comprised 20% of the population in the Middle East and north Africa, but since then the proportion has fallen to less than 4%, or roughly 15 million people. . . The report identifies three drivers of persecution: political failure creating a fertile ground for religious extremism; a turn to religious conservatism in countries such as Algeria and Turkey; and institutional weaknesses around justice, the rule of law and policing, leaving the system open to exploitation by extremists.
8. The Jewish Question, of course, is not limited to the Children of Israel; it is instead a metaphor for the complex of relationships and actions necessary to transform a societal community by constructing as separable what might otherwise be an indistinguishable part.
Islamic State militants in Nigeria have executed 11 Christian captives to coincide with Christmas celebrations, claiming the killings as revenge for ISIS leaders assassinated by U.S. forces this year. The execution footage was released by ISIS' Amaq propaganda agency on December 26, according to the BBC. The 11 unidentified victims were all men and "captured in the past weeks" in Nigeria's northeastern Borno state, the terrorist group said. The 56-second video was filmed at an unidentified outside location and shows militants lined up behind the 11 kneeling captives. The killings begin with the prisoner in the middle, who is shot dead before those alongside him are forced to the ground and beheaded. . . The Christmas executions were carried out by militants under the banner of the Islamic State West Africa Province—a Boko Haram offshoot loyal to ISIS. (ISIS Executes Christian Prisoners to Mark Christmas, 'Avenge' Dead Leader Baghdadi).
Specifically, The Gambia argues that: “from around October 2016 the Myanmar military (the ‘Tatmadaw’) and other Myanmar security forces began widespread and systematic ‘clearance operations’ -- the term that Myanmar itself uses -- against the Rohingya group. The genocidal acts committed during these operations were intended to destroy the Rohingya as a group, in whole or in part, by the use of mass murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as the systematic destruction by fire of their villages, often with inhabitants locked inside burning houses. From August 2017 onwards, such genocidal acts continued with Myanmar’s resumption of ‘clearance operations’ on a more massive and wider geographical scale.” (The Republic of The Gambia institutes proceedings against the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and asks the Court to indicate provisional measures).
9. Willing instruments of moving a Jewish Question toward solution include those societal elements who themselves have faced their own Jewish Question, and who might remain apart; it is the oppressed who become masters of their own oppression and that of others.
Francine Graham was an occasional babysitter in the West Harlem housing project where she grew up and former neighbors still remember her as polite and caring.Decades later, when she settled into a townhouse complex in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Graham worked as a certified nurse's aide for a health center run by the Catholic Church and looked out for ailing neighbors, according to her former employer and residents who interacted with her." She was good people," Edwin Lopez, 62, who exchanged pleasantries with her while walking his dog, Nike, at the Water's Edge Crescent complex in Elizabethport. "You just never know who you're living next to."Graham, 50, and David Anderson, 47, are accused of killing a police detective near a Jersey City cemetery and then storming a nearby Jewish market on Tuesday. There, they shot and killed three people in what authorities said were acts of domestic terrorism "fueled by both anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs."The hours-long police standoff ended with their deaths. For those who saw Graham as kind, normal and neighborly, it brought complete bafflement."That was not the Francine that I knew," said Estelle Rodriguez, 73, who four decades ago moved to the 19th-floor apartment across from the Grahams in West Harlem's Manhattanville Houses. "We were like family. She was always a loving girl."10. The object of the Jewish Question is always the allocation of space for the alignment of political and moral orders; the language is one of religion but the issue is always one of loyalty to a specific narrative of societal self-reflexivity and its constraints; the stakes grow larger as intrusiveness of regulatory bodies grows more comprehensive.
According to Brazil’s Commission to Combat Religious Intolerance, over 100 Afro-Brazilian religious facilities nationwide were attacked by drug trafficking groups in 2019, an increase on previous years. A national emergency hotline created to report such attacks finds that 60% of incidents reported between 2011 and 2017 occurred in Rio de Janeiro. Persecution of these Afro-Brazilian religions, whose adherents are largely poor black Brazilians, has been around since at least the 19th century. But the current wave of religious bigotry is more personal, and more violent, than in the past. As the Washington Post recently reported, Afro-Brazilian priests are being harassed and murdered for their faith. Candomblé and Umbanda practitioners fear leaving their homes. Terreiros have closed due to death threats. Rio’s Commission to Combat Religious Intolerance, a group created in 2008 by religious minorities, reported about 200 such incidents in the city between January and September 2019 – up from 92 in all last year. . . The increase in religious hate crimes coincides with the growing political and cultural clout of evangelicals in Brazil. Evangelical lawmakers currently hold 195 of 513 seats in Brazil’s lower house of Congress, giving them the power to shape the national debate on abortion, religion in schools, gay marriage and other social issues.