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Talmud for today?

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — two brief surface readings in Talmud, with a request for deeper understanding ]
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As someone brought up with more of a focus on the Beatitudes than the Torah (I know, a huge question with many potential shades of answer opens up when I say that), I was not familiar with this Talmudic aphorism until the drone strikes that killed Anwar al-Awlaki and shortly thereafter his son Abdulrahman brought it to my attention:

Ha-Ba le-Horgekha Hashkem le-Horgo is a teaching of increasing popularity among Israelis. Taken from the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 72:1, its most precise translation is: ‘If someone comes to kill you, get up early to kill him first.’

I imagine it also has relevance to the (presumed) Israeli targeted killing of (eg) Imad Mughniyah..

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Yesterday I came across a second such Talmudic phrase, based on Genesis 50:

The sages derived a principle from this text. Mutar le-shanot mipnei ha-shalom: “It is permitted to tell an untruth (literally, “to change” the facts) for the sake of peace.” A white lie is permitted in Jewish law.

This aphorism may be of interest to bear in mind in the context of Israeli peace negotiations — but more directly (and literally) “it is permitted to change the facts” carries a sidelong resemblance to the concepts of alt-facts & faux news currently infesting our politicians and media…

Sources:

  • Jewish Quarterly, Kill him first
  • Rabbi Sacks, When is it Permitted to Tell a Lie?
  • ^^

    Knowing the Talmud to be deeper and richer than my own understanding by many orders of magnitude, I’d like to invite commentary on these or other aspects of Talmudic thought that may play, directly or indirectly, into national security issues.

    Irony, much?

    Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — Saudi girl’s council, all male ]
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    I believe this to be an example of the Ouroboros Moebius, or flattened snake twisted and self-biting — the negative or flipped version of the usual self-biter:

    Habitat not limited to Saudi Arabia…

    Source:

  • BBC News, Saudi Arabia launches girls’ council – without any girls
  • Obama explaining Trump’s success in 2008? inter alia

    Sunday, March 12th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — and why white evangelicals feel Christians are discriminated against ]
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    An Atlantic headline yesterday read: White Evangelicals Believe They Face More Discrimination Than Muslims

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    That headline carried me back to Obama‘s “they cling to guns or religion” remarks —

    You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

    And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

    — which now seem to me to be eerily prophetic of Trump‘s victory, and Hillary‘s very similar “basket of deplorables” —

    We are living in a volatile political environment. You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?

    The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now how 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric.

    — both of which must make those who feel addressed — many of them “White Evangelicals” — sneered at.

    **

    If I felt personally slighted by such remarks — and aggrieved by many other small injuries to my faith, monuments carrying the Ten Commandments removed or statues of Baphomet erected to “balance” crosses or crucifixes, for example — I might well answer a question about who faces more discrimination on the basis of that sense that I and my ways are despised — whereas if I am mainline Protestant, Catholic, or unaffiliated, I am less liable to be carrying that sense of personal injury and more likely to answer in terms of the news, in which Muslims (and Jews, why weren’t Jews included in the poll?) are on the receiving end of more overt violence than Christians..

    My explanation for the poll results, then, is that “White Evangelicals” have more to take personally than the other groups polled.

    And Trump’s victory? Doesn’t that Obama quote tell us pretty much all we need to know?

    So now ISIS has its own fake news

    Friday, March 10th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — propaganda and, i suppose, impropaganda ]
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    Publication of the last three issues of the ISIS magazine Rumiyah have been preceded or accompanied by bogus issues, thus giving ISIS its own quota of fake news. I’m of course delighted because one can compare authentic and fake versions as visual DoubleQuotes. Here are some examples from the latest issue, #7, courtesy of Charlie Winter:

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    MEMRI has graciously made its February report, Release Of Two Suspicious Fifth Issues Of ISIS’s ‘Rumiyah’ Magazine – Timeline, Characteristics, And Takeaways, openly available — here are the basic paras:

    On January 6, 2017, the Islamic State (ISIS) released Issue 5 of its online magazine Rumiyah. The issue, which included, inter alia, the usual threats to the West and advice for carrying out attacks there,[1] was picked up by Western media outlets and widely reported. Much less attention, however, was given to two other purported issues of the same magazine, which were released a few hours prior to the official Islamic State release of Issue 5.

    Each of the two fake issues of Issue 5 of Rumiyah appears to have a different purpose. While the first was reportedly a rogue PDF file packed with malware aimed at infecting the devices of anyone downloading or opening the file, the content of the second was surprisingly well crafted content in what appeared to be a malware-free PDF file, making the point of its release not entirely clear.

    This is not the first time that a jihadi magazine or other release is comprised, especially in light of the fierce cyber warfare being waged against terrorist groups. The most prominent example of this is the 2010 operation that aimed to undermine the first release of the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) English-language magazine Inspire. That attack resulted in the release of two modified PDF versions of the magazine, and has had a negative impact on one of the magazine’s distribution channels as well.[2] In another incident in 2013, which also targeted AQAP, a video of the group was purposely sabotaged and a segment calling for the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Yemen at the time was removed prior to its official release.[3]

    Terrorist groups’ distribution chains and channels have evolved in the last decade. What was once a single download link posted on a password-protected top-tier jihadi forum, is now a widely distributed URL to jihadi content posted on the San Francisco-based Internet Archive (archive.org)[4] that goes viral on Twitter, Telegram, and elsewhere within minutes of its initial release. Jihadi response to suspicious content, on the other hand, has been relatively consistent during that same period, with overly cautious and even paranoid behavior characterizing many members of online jihadi circles. In fact, social media has in many ways made it more difficult to “trick” jihadis into consuming dubious jihadi content, since warnings about such content are now generated and disseminated faster and easier than ever before.

    The graphic at the head of this post is taken from a February Heavy Terror Watch post, ISIS Alleges Someone Is Publishing Fake Islamic State Magazines

    It’s all faintly hilarious / deadly serious: fake news, ISIS-style.

    ISIS goes Matryoshka

    Friday, March 10th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — humans bearing doll attributes and vice versa ]
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    ISIS brings those Matryoshka dolls to life..

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    SITE Intel‘s video on ISIS indoctrination of children — one of their people actually terms it “brainwashing” as though it’s a blessing, not a perversion — is pretty graphic, but important.

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    For our younger readers, then:

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    Sources:

  • SITE Intel video report, Raising Terror: How the Islamic State Indoctrinates its Youth
  • The Peoples Cube, Islamic Matryoshka

  • Teletubbies, Developmental Benefits

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