Never Forget

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Many people have asked why Jews continue to remind the world – some might say ad naseum – of The Holocaust. Not a holocaust, of which there have been a few (recognized and otherwise). The Holocaust.

The answer is so simple it might be scary. The power of the idea “The Holocaust”, as opposed to a holocaust, has dwindled in the human ideational hierarchy since it was first introduced post-1945. The attempted genocide of the Jews in Europe during World War II happened – that is history. But The Holocaust – that is so much more.

The Holocaust was once an idea powerful enough to push the Zionist ideal to a crescendo supported by many non-Jews. An idea that was so powerful it helped create a state has since become an idea very few people care much about…

So, today I ask, must we maintain our course in defense of the idea The Holocaust? To many peoples the loss of 6 million might seem minuscule. But for the Jew, to lose even one is to lose a whole world. We lost 6 million. To lose another 5 million different versions of Jew would be a catastrophe. A catastrophe for the Jews if no-one else.

So is it any surprise that there are Jews who take issue with those who threaten, plan, and act to eradicate over 40% of the total self-acknowledged Jewish population?

The world has decided that the potential annihilation of less than .1% of the total global population does not matter. We the Jews do not matter. The idea of the Jews as a unique group (with its many facets and faults), does not matter. But we Jews made a promise. Never Again. That promise was to ourselves. A promise that requires us to be true to who we are and NEVER forget. Never forget our history.

Are there Jews who, because of where they live, deny other people freedoms in order to defend the lives of Jews. Yes. Have people been hurt and even killed as a result of this conflict over Jewish existence? With great sadness, yes. Are we surprised that, as a result of this constant threat, a new generation of Jews has risen, some full of anger and hate. Some filled with racist pride even. Unfortunately not. Why? Because the world is forgetting, but we made a promise.

So, we continue to wait. We wait until the day that the ideas the Palestinian people, and those who support their cause, espouse and act on include the right of Jews (all people really) to live in peace – as equals – with those around them everywhere in the world. Until that time, we Jews must continue to maintain a home where any Jew may go. And we must try to be as lenient as we can. To give people under Jewish jurisdiction as many freedoms as we can. All while protecting as many Jews as possible. We must. To do less is not Jewish.

I pray we can be more lenient every day. But until then – Never Forget.

I believe this should be the stance of the Jews. Not Israel. The JEWS.

The author is adjunct lecturer in the School of Communications at Bar Ilan University. He is also a disabled veteran of the IDF.

Clashing Ideas and Our Constantly Changing World

The ebb and flow of history does not revolve solely around the material power of states. Nor is it exclusively the purview of institutions. And it is not based entirely on identity or anarchy. Instead it is about ideas and how those ideas are translated into actions. From the rise and fall of empires and the crusades through the Renaissance and Reformation, the American and French Revolutions, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Democracy, the Cold War, Fundamentalism and many of the revolutions we are experiencing today, ideas, and the many perspectives and ideologies on those ideas, have been the motivation for interstate, state and substate groups’ formations and interactions.

Ideas seem to be even more relevant today as technology and education have given the masses greater access and participation in the creation and assertion of the place for ideas in world politics.

This paper argues for a new paradigm (though based in a neo-classical realist perspective) in which ideation is used as the means of understanding the double helix of the many existing political paradigms. Essentially that ideas act as a separate but unifying influence on political relations. It suggests that ideas, rather than being a separate level to research, are part and parcel to all levels and streams of political interaction and thought. It is, essentially, shared ideas that allow individual, state and systemic actors to create relationships and relations, interact with each other, gain support and garner the energy necessary for an idea to be influential enough to materialize as action.

Understanding the role of ideas allows us to better analyze the ramifications of systemic, subsystemic, national and local change. It is possible, by examining ideas as the motivation for change, to identify primary conflict lines; the leaders and followers within a conflict; the different structures that have formed; and how these conflicts have led some to protect the status-quo while others seek to revise it at all levels.   As the influence and role of ideas is better understood it may have significant impact on strategic planning as well as future research.

This paper is a further edit of a previous work – my work in progress as it were.

To read the draft paper, click: Ideation and Power.

The Collective, The Unitary and The Many Conflicts

I had a interesting thought today as I was reading the newspaper – what is it that connects the many different groups in a society. What is so strong that people who, for all intents and purposes, are complete opposites are still somehow connected…what is this thing called nationality? What is culture? What is civilization? Are these concepts so strong that despite bitter ideological disagreement people are still willing to be associated with each other?

And it seems like they are. Take Israel for example. It is a country deeply divided. Religious – Secular, Hawks – Doves, Capitalist – Socialist, Zionist – Anti-Zionist, Jewish – Other Religions (and the full spectrum that exists in any of these dynamic conflicts). And yet all Israeli, even if they are Israeli “hyphenated” as in Israeli-Arab, Israeli-Ethiopian, Israeli-Russian, Israeli-Bedouin, Israeli-French, Israeli-Anglo…etc. And only those who are second generation or greater may try to claim the title of Sabra – Israeli-Israeli born and bred. But in the end they are all Israeli…what a unique concept. And this allows people despite their political, social, religious, racial, gender, ethnic, cultural, and economic differences to have certain similar expectations – both from each other and the collective unit they are associated with.

And it is truly interesting to think the same is true for almost every other identifiable unit. They have rules that people are expected to follow. There are norms that result from the collective – either through experience, tradition, debate, or thought. And when someone, or something, acts in a way that is different, abnormal, illegal, disrespectful or shows disregard for the collective’s mutual contract/understanding  the collective decides or permits specific units or representatives to decide the consequences – if any…

This collective, then, is extremely important. It is something that the independent units share and are willing to actively subscribe to and participate in, even if they abhor it. It is for this reason that states are unitary actors in the international system. It is why institutions are unitary actors within states. It allows states to act in coordination and to cooperate. It gives people the ability to influence government in ANY political system.

So when next someone says – I’m “choose your nationality” I think maybe I am going to ask – “Oh, and what are you doing about that?” Because we are not just what we say we are, we are either what we do or let others do in our name. And to suggest that this is not accurate for people in any collective is inherently false – even if they have been inculcated with the most outrageous or absurd concepts (N. Korea) – because this collective maintains the status-quo despite free will. Why? Because that free will is denied by unitary actors within the state, who are compelled to do so because of the collective wisdom associated with state and the consequences for failing to adhere to that collectively accepted norm…

So is it the norm, the collective, the unitary actor or all of them (and then some) which participate in this process? Well, it seems like all of them. But only if we are willing to see the world socially as the collective norms. What about interests that contradict the norms of the collective but are pursued by the unitary actors none-the-less? Are these any different than the norms and expectations of the collective? Does the collective even matter at these points in time?

It often seems like they do not. The collective does not appear to be the motivation for, nor the basis of, action by the unitary actor. Instead there is a hierarchy of ideas in which hegemonic ideas are actualized as long as they are not threatened. These ideas compete and seek to spread until they are brought to fruition. At which point they may spread more or seek to maintain the new status-quo.

What is interesting is this happens at all levels of unitary interaction – in which single units recognize and interact with each other.

More to come.

The Influence of the Cloud

Ideas as the motivation for International Action

Abstract

Paper presented at IAIS 2011 conference

This paper discusses the role of ideas in political theory and practice. Politics has often been delineated by the research perspective taken, realist, liberal, constructivist, rational choice, etc. While each of these tries to differentiate itself from the other by examining specific aspects and influences on the political milieu, they are united by the sharing and acceptance of ideas.

While technology today discusses the “cloud” as a means of accessing and sharing data through the internet, history and current events have demonstrated that the sharing and accessing of ideas which reside in a “cloud” is not new. In fact, politics, regardless of the perspective, have been based on actions that matured in the “cloud”.  The ideas which are shared in the cloud are not relegated to a specific civilization, culture or identity. Nor are they only attached to the systemic, state, or man levels of research. Sharing these ideas is not dependent upon the distribution of material power on any level.

The ebb and flow of history does not revolve around the material power of states. Nor is it solely the purview of institutions. And it is not based entirely on identity and anarchy. Instead it is about ideas and how those ideas are translated into actions. From the rise and fall of empires and the crusades through the Renaissance and Reformation, the American and French Revolutions, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Democracy, the Cold War, Fundamentalism and many of the revolutions we are experiencing today, ideas have been the motivation for interstate, state and substate groups’ formations and interactions.

This cloud of ideas is even more relevant today as technology and education have given the masses greater access and participation in the creation and assertion of the place for ideas in world politics.

This paper argues the existence of the “cloud” as a separate influence on political relations. It suggests that the cloud, rather than being a separate level to research, is part and parcel to all levels and streams of political interaction and thought. It is, essentially, the cloud that allows individual, state and systemic actors to share ideas, gain support for those ideas and garner influence so as to see ideas translate into action.

Draft of paper available here: David Leitner. ideas as motivation for international actions. 2011 lecture

“Followership” in Response to Post-Cold War WMD Proliferation

PhD Abstract

This dissertation examines whether “the West” acted as a cohesive unit in response to weapons of mass destruction proliferation (WMD) from 1989 – 2005. Adapting organizational psychology’s followership framework I examine if Britain, Australia and Israel accepted the Western leadership antiproliferation goals and if they responded with similar action to WMD proliferation. This analysis helps to determine if the Western alignment acted to attain mutual goals using mutually accepted means in their antiproliferation efforts.

While the examination of each state’s policies can stand as an independent case study in antiproliferation, we further our understanding of alignment cohesion through the followership comparative framework. This framework uses a neo-classical realist systemic structure to analyze constructivist identity within the alignment to determine alignment cohesion. Conclusions regarding antiproliferation efforts, identity and “followership” rely on qualitative analysis based on events data and content analysis.

The central question of this research is: how and why did Western alignment cohesion change in response to proliferation in the post-Cold War? This analysis shows that the unity of purpose between the three “follower” states –Australia, Britain, and Israel – was high at the outset of the post-Cold war period. The evidence and analytic framework indicate that this was because the states accepted the leader’s vision for countering proliferation and maintaining the status quo. The “follower identities” of these states changed significantly throughout the 1989 -2001 period as Britain, Australia, and Israel each sought to redefine the goals and actions of the Western alignment in response to WMD proliferation. The three “follower identities” rose, however, as a result of policy changes by both the leader and the three “followers” after September 11, 2001 – and the subsequent attempts at proliferation by states like Iraq, Iran and North Korea, as well as non-state actors like al-Qaeda. As each of the states became a higher-level follower, the level of “followership” rose within the alignment subsystem signifying cohesion within the subsystem.

This demonstrates the value of the followership paradigm in examining the issue of cohesion in response to proliferation in the post-Cold War. This approach also resolves the tension between realist and constructivist analytic frameworks in the examination of alignments.

 

Here is an article that was based on some of my research from this time: Followership in the post Cold War

PhD and Student for Life