Purim’s Beauty Myth

February 24, 2013

What did you think of the question posed at the bottom of the article?

(Forward By Johnna Kaplan)Esther saved the Jewish people because, so they say, she was smart and brave. When she learned of the genocidal plot of Haman, the vizier to her husband, King Ahasueres of Persia, she revealed that she was a Jew and pleaded for her people to be spared.
Esther’s daring act of approaching the king, confessing her nationality, and requesting the Jews be saved from certain death underpins the story of Purim. But as relatable as the holiday’s heroine is meant to be, few of us would get the opportunity to act as she did. Ahasuerus had chosen Esther above all of the other girls in his harem; to put it plainly, she was able to save the Jewish people because she was the hottest woman in the room.
But the story of Purim isn’t the only reason I’ve been thinking about Jewish women, beauty and the pressure to look a certain way.
First, I read this Jewcy piece by Emily Shire (who also writes for the Sisterhood) about how Jewish girls and women have a particular preoccupation with thinness. I had never thought of the issue that way, possibly because, unlike Shire, I grew up in a town where Jews, though hardly invisible, were not the majority. In my experience, (natural) beauty and (effortless) skinniness were expected of all girls equally, as were good grades, athleticism and flawless hair.
My mom was similarly unsure about the premise, though when I read her a sentence about Jewish women being especially devoted to the diet beverage Tab, she said excitedly, “Ooh! I remember Tab!” I tried to recall whether, in my youth, Jewish girls I knew cared more about being thin than the others. I wasn’t sure.
But now, as an adult, I think perhaps we do. The other day a friend mentioned that an acquaintance, a Jewish-Hispanic woman, had “married a white dude; her kids look totally white.” I cynically said, essentially, “good for her, because Jewish guys don’t want us anyway unless we’re size zero.” My friend replied, “Exactly,” and added that the Jewish men she knew preferred “Asian girls with big boobs — another white elephant.” It’s important to clarify that my friend is a) long-married and b) neither Jewish nor Asian. Jewish women are now expected to be thinner (read: prettier) than the competition, to the point where even outside observers notice it.
While pondering this rather depressing state of affairs, I noticed Purim on my calendar, preceded by the minor fast day of Ta’anit Esther. Esther fasted for three days before approaching Ahasuerus. How many pounds, I wondered, could one lose doing that? Because if I was requesting a stay of execution for my entire community based on my attractiveness, I’d want to look as good (read: thin) as possible when doing it.
Esther is not the only Biblical woman who relied on her looks to help defeat enemies of the Jews. Judith got close enough to decapitate Holofernes because he desired her, and though it isn’t explicitly stated, it’s hard for me to believe Yael lured Sisera into her tent simply by promising him a drink. Of course, plenty of other ancient women might have had the guts to wield tent pegs against their foes; we only hear about the ones who got the opportunity.
These days, hopefully, it’s different, but for much of history a Jewish woman could only change the world by being noticed. Even today, you don’t get plucked from obscurity for your personality. The idea that looks can bring salvation runs through the Jewish female experience. If you can catch the eye of the King or even flirt with the Nazi officer, maybe you’ll change his mind. Maybe you’ll live.
I suppose every little tribe under ancient Persian rule had their would-be Esther, who hoped the king would repay her presence in his harem by lending support to her cause. But not all cultures would approve of such things. So I wonder if the celebration of women who do good by means of their beauty is particularly Jewish. I wonder if some relic of it hangs on to this day, and is expressed in the pressure to be prettier, to be thinner, to be the one who might get noticed and save us after all.

I find the “Forward” disturbing more times than not, but what struck me as odd is that the article did realize that a females sexiness is a trait that is encouraged by Judaism in a way that a man’s sexiness is not… this I agree with… but I found it odd that the Forward somehow seems to think this character is unique to Judaism or at the very least is something unusual. I can’t think of any culture that does not share this character. It was almost like the writer reached a conclusion she didn’t like and then concluded that Jews like beautuiful women because we are inferior and then concluded that other cultures are not like this… which is a very odd conclusion. Is this the source of the Forwards progressive readers self hate and Anti-Semitism? Do feminist Jews really believe that gender traits are something that is made by Jewish law and not something that occurs naturally? I find it hard to refute the idea that feminism is in fact self hatred. I am very glad this liberal self hater allowed us a window into her warped soul.


Winning the Demographic War and the Culture War

December 11, 2012

There is no better outcome that the Democrats could have hoped for than the demographic despair that has overtaken some sections of the conservative movement. While the Republican establishment prepares to accept Obama as the new FDR, the grass roots feels alienated and willing to write off the whole country.

Demographics is a serious issue, but it’s not a done deal either. Countries are not static. America was created because a large number of Europeans moved to a place that had formerly been populated by the descendants of Siberian refugees crossing over the Bering Strait. I have often said that demographics kind is destiny, but it’s a mathematical destiny. Change the numbers and you change the destiny.
Taking back America demographically is a matter of having enough children within a cultural structure that passes down the values of adults to the children, while focusing on limiting immigration as much as possible. This isn’t an impossible task.
The Amish population doubles every 20 years and they retain the majority of their children within their communities despite the obvious appeals of the outside world. There are 250,000 Amish in the United States and Canada now. By 2040 there will be over a million of them.
Utah has the highest fertility rate in the country and 9 out of 10 children are born to married couples. The Mormon Church is slowing down its expansion, and is having some retention and birth rate issues, perhaps due to its liberalization and growing investment in overseas missionary work, but its numbers are still a reminder of what is possible.
Demographics can be deceptive, because what we are really talking about are the economic and cultural factors that dissuade large family sizes and that alienate children from the values of their ancestors. What we are really talking about is a clash between progressives and traditionalists.
As an Orthodox Jew, I represent a group that is at the front lines of the clash. In the last century and a half, Jewish progressives have done everything possible to destroy Jewish religion, values and even nationhood. For half that time they were enormously successful, wreaking havoc across entire communities, using state power to force parents into their own schools, and building a literary and cultural infrastructure aimed at ridiculing and destroying traditional values.
They are still at it today, and their tactics and propaganda are as bad as they ever were, but they also losing. While the progressives embrace the culture of abortion and gay rights, the traditionalists have children. Within a decade, a majority of New York Jews will be traditionalist and the impact of that is already being felt in elections. The progressives have ramped up their usual hate campaigns against Orthodox Jews, which is why you see so many negative stories in the media, but the demographics of their progressive culture doom them to extinction.
This same outcome would have taken place nationally in the clash between American traditionalists and progressives, if not for the ace in the hole of immigration. And yet immigration is only half the picture. The bigger half of the picture is culture.
Would the Amish be who they are if in between plow breaks they were watching Reality TV and getting lessons on liberal values? Instead the Amish segregated themselves from the culture and have thrived because of it. And that can be done without completely abandoning technology as a whole.
Orthodox Jews built a cultural infrastructure to convey their values to our children while cutting them off, as much as possible, from the cultural programming of progressives. The largest expense of Orthodox Jewish parents and the community as a whole is on the infrastructure of private schools that teach traditional values to their children. An Orthodox Jewish community is defined by its schools and its best and brightest go into Chinuch or Education.
But schools aren’t enough. Orthodox Jews raise their children on their own books and their own music. Everything that children are exposed to from the youngest ages is supposed to come from within their own culture to such an extent that when Oprah visited a Chassidic family they had no idea who she was, or who Mickey Mouse and Beyonce were. Obviously this isn’t universal and the degree of exposure varies, but retention rates and birth rates are highest among those with the lowest levels of progressive cultural exposure.
Modern Orthodox Jews, a group of which I am, obviously, a member, have the highest levels of cultural exposure, the lowest birth rates and the highest susceptibility to progressive views. The Modern Orthodox approach was viable in 1950s America where the outside culture was healthy, but I have come to question its survival value in an era where the culture is decaying and hostile to any form of traditional family values. Chassidic Jews, with the lowest rates of cultural exposure also have the highest birth rates and, unlike Modern Orthodox Jews, I have yet to meet a single liberal Chassid.

So is cultural secession the solution? For traditional Jews it might be, but for traditionalists as a whole, who have the demographic reach to turn the national numbers around, it can be a temporary solution until the numbers and the political power that goes with them are theirs. As with Orthodox Jews, there is a Christian culture industry, but it isn’t enough to have positive messages as an alternative, it’s equally important to cut out as many negative messages as possible.
Above all else, education is the future. Traditionalists who fail to understand this will allow the educational system and the entertainment industry to transform their children into progressives. Progressives know that control of the educational system means control of the future. Without the educational system and immigration, progressives are doomed to be cafe radicals. With them, they can count the generations until they control everything.
The progressives have few children of their own. Your children are their children. If they can corrupt your children, then they have a future. If they cannot, then they will go off and die in a corner. The progressives have three strengths, class warfare, cultural programming and immigration. America had prosperity that negated class warfare, but it neglected to safeguard its culture from the left and did not consider the consequences of Third World immigration. With their political and culture power, the left destroyed prosperity and now with all three cards in their hand, the progressives are rising high.
But too many conservatives have despaired because they have fallen prey to the myth of a perfect America that once was and can never be again. But America was never perfect, like every person, it was a work in progress. It was a struggle between ideas and ideologies and that struggle did not end because the progressives have worked and plotted to get this far. Defeating them is a matter of exploiting their weaknesses and firming up our strengths.
Most of the Republican Party remains unwilling to acknowledge that this is a cultural war. And it is. Culture is one of the things that the left is good at. It’s an easy and profitable way for the left to pursue its ends. And it’s fun. But it only works with captive audiences.
The left’s cultural infrastructure is wired to feed its programming to an audience that sits there waiting to receive it and is willing to even pay top dollar for the privilege. Like every Iago, it has no idea what to do if Othello not only doesn’t pay for the privilege of going to its schools and movies, but actively tunes it out and forms a community that makes its own entertainment and education.
Forget physical secession for the moment and think cultural secession. Physical secession, even if it were achieved, would do little good without putting cultural secession first. And if you cannot manage cultural secession, then how will you ever achieve physical secession?
Cultural secession means cutting away the educational and entertainment culture of the left out of your home. It means creating your own alternative education and entertainment and grouping in communities that act as a support structure for traditional values. Is it easy? No. It involves sacrifice. But groups such as the Amish and Orthodox Jews have done it and have thrived doing it.
Some wars are settled by guns, but cultural wars are settled by the schoolbook and the movie. They are settled by the family.
The progressive agenda is to destroy the family, to undermine it, ridicule it, economically disadvantage it and burden it until it falls apart and is replaced by the Big Brother of the State. The traditional agenda is to maintain the family and pass along traditional values across the generations. That is what this cultural war is really about; whether the family or the state will the defining unit of human experience.
The progressives are out to break the family, to slice it up in a thousand ways from the ghetto to the Castro. Everything they do is aimed at eliminating any rival to the state. The traditionalist goal has to be to form communities that are capable of preserving the family despite the power of the state. This is not easy and will become harder as time goes on. But it is what has to be done to reclaim the country.

Raising children within a traditional community is a revolutionary activity. It is an act of cultural and demographic defiance against the progressive state. The traditional community is becoming the new underground of progressive countries. It is the place where parents pass on subversive ideas to their children and teach them to pass on those same subversive ideas to their children.
Progressives want every child to grow up to be a slave of the state, thinking the same empty thoughts, laughing at the same things and trotting tamely along to the slaughterhouse. What they fear most is a future where the majority of children do not worship the state, do not accept their premises or parrot their propaganda. What they fear most is a demographic revolution.
Can American traditionalists quadruple their numbers in 40 years the way that the Amish will? Doing that will require taking lessons from the Amish, from Orthodox Jews and from other traditionalist groups that have found ways to build tight knit communities that protect their values and preserve their children. Building those structures is the hardest part. But once the structures are there, then the future is yours.


Geraldo: Romney ‘Racist’ to Claim Culture Plays Role in Israel’s Success

August 3, 2012

Here is an example of why people laugh when Geraldo Rivera describes himself as conservative. His default response is invariably liberal.
Jack Coleman's pictureOn his WABC radio show out of New York City on Tuesday, Rivera played the race card in condemning Mitt Romney for having the incorrect audacity to suggest cultural differences at least partially explain Israel’s economic success compared to Palestinian stagnation. (audio).

RIVERA: Here’s what he said — ‘If you could learn anything from the economic history of the world, it’s this — culture makes the difference. As I come here and I look over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation,  I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things.’ A few other things — like what?  Arabs and Muslims are genetically in-, inferior to Israelis and Jews? I mean, it is really, what kind of statement is this? I mean, and to say Israel is prospering and the Palestinians are not because of culture. What about the occupation? I mean, it is so bald-faced political pandering for the Jewish vote and it makes me sick! I mean, come on folks, be fair!
You can even think that Israel deservedly should have possession of Judea and Samaria, whatever you want to call the West Bank, you can make any kind of argument you want to. But if you don’t think that the prosperity in Israel is totally different than the oppression in the West Bank, where incidentally there is a lot of construction going on. But I mean to say that Israelis earn, you know, have an average per-capita income of $21,000 and the Palestinians only $10,000 and to try to draw some cultural superiority over that? Isn’t that dangerous? Isn’t that what focused the world’s, you know, rage over the centuries at us, at the Jews? I think it really is a rookie remark and, you know, for a guy, he should know better, particularly coming from a minority religion as he does.

Notice how Rivera pounces on “the occupation” as responsible for economic disparities between Israelis and Palestinians — followed by him stating that one could say Israel “deservedly” lays claim to Judea and Samaria, “whatever you want to call the West Bank.” But if one can make this claim — and Rivera says you can — it eliminates “the occupation” as the cause of Palestinian malaise.
Perversely, Rivera describes Romney’s remarks as “dangerous” and alludes to centuries of anti-Semitism in response to perceptions of Jewish “cultural superiority.” But it wasn’t a Jew saying this — it was a Mormon wondering aloud if culture “at least” plays a role in a society’s success or failure.
By saying what he did, Romney violated the most sacred belief of liberals, that of moral relativism, the obscene worldview that sees no distinctions between societies except skin hues and tax rates. One of the clearest demarcations between conservatives and liberals is evident in how they respond to the question, does culture matter? Conservatives answer — of course it does. Liberals hiss — stop the hate speech.
Rivera, who is half-Jewish, half-Puerto Rican, describes such talk as “dangerous,” thus unintentionally bolstering Romney’s premise. Only those from an inferior culture — one that venerates suicide bombers over scholars, for example — would react to these remarks with “rage.” Inhabitants of a culture secure in its values and promise would shrug them off as harmless bluster, possibly true or potentially illuminating.
Minutes later, while challenged by a caller who cited rampant corruption in the Palestinian Authority, Rivera lapsed into amnesia over what he just said (audio)

CALLER: There’s a lot of black stuff going on there. There’s no, there’s no responsibility for anything there and things that you can’t blame on Israelis. And, and …
GERALDO: I’m not blaming Israelis! I’m saying that this remark is ridiculously naive and intentionally parochial and chauvinistic and it is at its heart racist. I think there is a racist component to that.

Except for “the occupation,” except for that. Apparently the Israelis have outsourced this to Palestinians.
Shortly after, Rivera doubled down on wanting it both ways. Having said “the occupation” was to blame, then denying he was blaming Israelis, thereby suggesting “the occupation” is enforced with fairy dust or by the Palestinians themselves, Rivera said this in response to another caller who challenged him (audio)

Let me ask you a question. If you were occupied for 40 years, wouldn’t you be crazy? I’d be crazy. I would have been killed years ago.

Not that the Israelis could be blamed for this, no sirree.

I never had respect for Geraldo, so this isn’t shocking to me


Universal Muslim Economic Failure

July 31, 2012

(SultanKnish) If Romney accomplished nothing else during his Israeli visit, he did manage to offend every single Palestinian Arab terrorist group, all of whom, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP and the DFLP, issued press releases denouncing him. Their American media outlets, on a desperate gaffe hunt, seized on his statement that the GDP Per Capita differences between Israel and the territory under the control of the Palestinian Authority are the result of different values.

The official media narrative is that these differences are the results of eons of oppression, checkpoints and blockades. Fair enough. But then why does the IMF put Israel’s GDP Per Capita well ahead of the oil rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia has no Israeli checkpoints, no Israeli soldiers or planes flying overhead. It has wealth literally pouring out of the ground with a fifth of the world’s petroleum reserves. And yet the IMF puts it 13 places behind Israel and the World Bank puts it 8 places behind Israel. The only Muslim countries with a better GDP Per Capita rating than Israel are small monarchies drowning in oil.
The non-oil Muslim countries who are closest to Israel are Malaysia and Lebanon, 32 and 33 places behind Israel. Both countries also have sizable non-Muslim populations. Muslims make up only 50 percent of Lebanon and only 60 percent of Malaysia.
38 places below Israel is Turkey, which until recently was a secular country and actually has a statistically significant atheist population. And that’s it. Below that we fall off a cliff into places like Belarus, South Africa and Grenada; all of whom still have better GDP Per Capita rates. No Muslim country without oil has a better GDP Per Capita than a Muslim country that has sizable Christian or Buddhist minorities.
What Romney didn’t mention, but should have, is that the Palestinian Authority dealt yet another blow to its economy when it drove out the Christian population. Christians in the territories have traditionally made the best businessmen and the capital of the Palestinian Authority was actually started by Jordanian Christian refugees escaping Muslim persecution. And their decline follows a pattern of Christian communities across the Middle East declining and disappearing under Muslim rule.
Meanwhile Israel is burdened with 1.2 Muslims inside the Green Line, many of whom work in an unreported black economy, and account for 52 percent of national social benefits. Israel’s national  unemployment rate is 5.6 percent. The Arab unemployment rate is 27 percent. Only 59 percent of Muslim men and only 19 percent of Muslim women are officially part of the workforce.  That’s compared to 56 percent of Jewish women and 52 percent of Christian women.
The average Israeli family has double the monthly income of the average Arab family. Half the Arab sector officially lives in poverty. According to many NGO’s this is due to racism. According to many economic statistics this is due to working for a living and then reporting your income.
The Israeli Jewish GDP is nearly three times higher than the Arab-Israeli GDP. This could be blamed on the usual scapegoat of racism, but the Israeli Arab GDP of $6,750 is actually better than the $5,900 GDP in neighboring Jordan, the $6,540 GDP in Egypt and the $5,041 GDP in Syria. This is the same range in which most non-oil Arab Muslim states are grouped and it is clear that there is no escaping it without a big petroleum reserve. Or like Lebanon with its $15,523 GDP, a whole lot of Christians to actually work for a living.
Again culture is still the determinant. Israel within the Green Line only has about 150,000 Christians and about as many Druze, and both groups perform better economically. Christian Arabs have a higher employment rate and a better rate of higher education than Muslims. 
Apart from that official 1.2 million, Israel is also responsible for the 4 million in the Palestinian Authority (some of whom overlap with that 1.2 million and some of whom are imaginary and exist only to collect benefits from international agencies) who are still Israel’s responsibility, according to them and to the world, even though they also continue insisting that they want their own state.

The reason why the GDP in Palestinian areas is so terrible is because its inhabitants live in a giant welfare state. Their income comes entirely from foreign aid. They don’t need an economy because the United States and the European Union are their economy. They don’t need a state because the UNRWA is their state. Palestinian Arabs were already receiving 725 dollars in per capita assistance. Despite their absolutely terrible GDP, only 16 percent of their population in the West Bank lives below the poverty line. That’s a better rate than that of Israeli Arabs, who don’t have an entire UN agency dedicated to taking care of them, and do actually have to work for a living.
It’s easy to admire Israel for what it has accomplished, but it stands out so much because of the region it’s in. Singapore and Hong Kong are less remarkable because they are in a region where countries don’t just give up and wait around for foreigners to come and find oil on their land or for the Mahdi to arrive. In Asia, countries make things happen for themselves. In the Middle East, if you’re not Jewish or Christian, and you don’t have oil, then you have economic problems.
But let’s leave the Middle East and head over to Asia. India and Pakistan are divided by a GDP Per Capita difference of almost a thousand dollars. India is naturally in the lead. Within India, Muslims are at the bottom of the economic ladder. Their per capita GDP is lower, their literacy rate is lower and they perform worse than Hindus. And yet the average Indian Muslim annual income at 513 dollars is still higher than the average annual income in Pakistan at 420 dollars. This remains consistent with the higher Arab-Israeli income and lower Jordanian Arab income model meaning that Muslims in non-Muslim countries will earn less than the majority, but more than they would in a majority Muslim country.
In Africa, Muslim Somalia sits next door to Ethiopia and Kenya and its GDP is so small it can’t even be registered compared to $1,093 and $1,746 for them. You might try to blame Somalia’s civil war, but Rwanda, which experienced a genocide, has a $1,341 GDP. Niger with an 80 percent Muslim population and a $771 GDP sits next door to Chad with only a 53 percent Muslim population and a $1,865 GDP. Next door Cameroon has a 70 percent Christian majority and a $2,257 GDP.
Now let’s head over to Europe. In Britain the myth of the hardworking Bangladeshi or Pakistani storekeeper is practically sacred. In reality 70 percent of Bangladeshis and Pakistanis live in low income households, compared to 50 percent of Africans, 30 percent of Indians and 20 percent of the natives. Bangladeshis and Pakistanis not only have dramatically higher unemployment rates than natives, but they have higher unemployment rates than Africans.
If the issue were racism, then their unemployment rates would be in line with far lower Indian unemployment rates. Instead Muslims have the worst economic record in the UK. Pakistani Muslims in the UK are three times more likely to be unemployed than Hindus. Indian Muslims are twice as likely to be unemployed as Indian Hindus.
Again this fits the same model of Muslims from non-Muslim countries being less economically inept than Muslims from majority Muslim countries. The crucial difference between minority Muslims and majority Muslims is culture. Minority Muslims do have their own culture, but no minority group can entirely escape the values of the majority culture. Arab Israelis and Indian Muslims absorb enough of the values of the majority culture to perform better than their neighbors in Jordan or Pakistan. And they even carry on these absorbed values when they move to another country.
We can see the direct consequences of those values in action. In the UK, Muslims have the highest dropout rate and lack of qualifications of any religion. They have the highest male and female unemployment rates. This isn’t racism, this is Islamism.
Muslims have the highest unemployment rate in Ireland. In Belgium, Moroccans and Turks have a five times higher unemployment rate of the native population. In Australia, Muslims have twice the unemployment rate of non-Muslims and forty percent of their children live below the poverty line. Muslims also have the highest unemployment rate in Canada, 14.4 percent to a national rate of 7.2 percent.
The response to all these numbers is the usual cry of racism, but racism fails to explain why Muslims fail more comprehensively at home than they do abroad. If Muslims fail in the West Bank, then Israeli checkpoints are to blame. If they fail in Canada, Australia and Europe, then racism is to blame. But if they fail in Pakistan, Somalia and Saudi Arabia– who is to blame?

It can’t be Mitt Romney or Benjamin Netanyahu, because neither of those men run Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. The answer can’t be racism, because Saudi Arabia gets everything it wants and it still fails. It can’t be colonialism, because these days the Muslim world is doing the colonizing. So what’s left?
Responsibility is the missing element. It’s the character value without which there can be no economic success. The temptation by leftists and Muslims to respond to Romney’s comments and these statistics by finding someone else to blame is revealing and damning. These statistics are only the tip of the iceberg of larger statistics about illiteracy, violence and corruption that account for Muslim economic malaise.  
The same lack of responsibility that manifests itself after a Muslim terrorist attack, when Muslims rush to position themselves as the victims, rather than dealing with the violence in their midst, also manifests itself in the economic arena and in every aspect of life. This lack of responsibility is a failure of values that cannot be escaped or ascribed to racism, checkpoints or the boogeyman.
Muslims have failed to deal with their problems and so we are left dealing with them instead. But just because the Muslim world insists on pretending that the problems aren’t there or blames them on third parties does not make the problems go away.


Israeli Designer Ahead of NYC’s Fashion Night Out!

September 7, 2011
Meet Israeli-Native, NYC-based designer Nili LotanNili Lotan is an Israeli-American fashion designer and founder of Nili Lotan Design Studio. Lotan’s work has been featured in outlets ranging from Time Out to Vogue, and her designs are frequently worn by celebrities, including Demi Moore and Reese Witherspoon. It’s not you it’s me site and Isrealli.org