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Our Israeli friend Hillel Schenker, a co-editor of the Palestine-Israel Journal, objected to Shamir’s negative description of secularism. Below is their exchange.

Secularism - too much pride, too little compassion

A Dialogue Between Hillel Schenker and Israel Shamir

Shamir wrote:

Dramatic developments in Turkey , where the constitutional court judges (the most reactionary part of establishment) in union with Kemalists allied with the pro-American generals supported by Zionists and the neo-cons staged a coup against Erdogan, a popularly elected moderate friend to Russia and Iran . The enemies of democracy and our enemies are godless - and it makes us think twice about plans of "a secular state", “medina chilonit” of Jewish anti-zionists. Our friend Paul Eisen of London succinctly stated it: a "secular state" is another form of Judaic rule. We observe it in Europe as well – the most secular states, France and England , are the most heavily influenced by their Jewish communities. The country heavily influenced by the Church, Greece , is the freest from Judeo-American influence. Russia and Iran are non-secular. In Turkey , secularism is another form of submission to Zion .  

Hillel responded:

Israel ,

Don't you see any connection between secularism, human rights and freedom of expression? I find that wherever religion has increased influence on a society, there tend to be limitations on human rights, freedom of expression, women's rights, etc.


Hillel (a proud, secular Israeli, who is concerned about the growing influence of right-wing religious forces in Israel , who in alliance with right-wing secular forces will make a possible resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that much more difficult).

P.S. My impression was that the greatest level of freedom of expression in Russia in recent years was during the Glasnost period and the Yeltsin years. The Putin years are characterized by a growing limitation on freedom of expression and alternative political activity, and the growth of the influence of the church has only served to exacerbate these tendencies.

P.P.S. I'm sure you weren't happy with George Bush's attempt to increase the role of religion in the public discourse in the U.S. , and his alliance with the right-wing evangelical Christians. When he was asked what he thought about the fact that his father, George Bush Senior, was opposed to regime change and the invasion of Iraq , Bush Jr. answered that he had a "higher father" who guides his actions.

Shamir answered:

Dear Hillel,

Let us begin with your post scriptum. Indeed, the Glasnost (1987-1991) and Yeltsin (1991-2000) years were the years of great freedom – not that much of expression, but rather of liberal freedom to amass riches or to die of hunger. State corporations were broken and privatised, state media was made private; the Open Society paradigm was experienced by the Russians in its fullness. Coincidentally, these were the most awful years the living generations of Russians ever experienced. These were years of material deprivation for the millions, of rise and rule of the [predominantly Jewish] oligarchs, of Russia submitting to the US, of the country dismantled, broken to pieces, of millions of refugees, of civil wars along the southern rim, of pauperisation for the vast majority, of life expectation shortened by more than ten years, of child mortality rising, of the population decrease, of science being sold abroad, of film production zeroing – as any other production.

As for democracy, the democratically elected Parliament was shelled by Yeltsin’s elite troops, and the parliamentarians were jailed. Elections of 1996 were falsified on the scale unheard of. As for freedom of expression, mass media was appropriated by a few Jews, and only the views they agreed with could be expressed in these years – like everywhere in the Free World. In order to strip the Russians off their assets, they induced them with extremely low self-esteem; and once proud nation of Tolstoy and Lenin, of Sputnik and SS-300 was turned into a herd of broken, miserable creatures ready to sell their heirlooms for a string of beads. “American boy, take me along with you”, was the hit of these days, a dollar-denominated prostitute was the

These were hellish years for ordinary Russians. Now, under Putin, the self-esteem is back, the oligarchs are jailed or ran away to Tel Aviv and London ; life of the ordinary Russians improved, though it is still worse than what it was before the Glasnost. There are not many Russians (in Russia or in Israel ) who’d share your sentiment – unless it is a fugitive oligarch. Putin did not limit the freedom of expression. He took away the TV away from the oligarchs. Now, you may curse the government and the president in a newspaper you own. Actually, there are many newspapers that do it quite all right. You may not do this on the state TV, but that’s true everywhere.

As for the Church, this is the spiritual backbone of the Russian people. The Orthodox Church, the church of Byzantium , unites the Russians with the people of Bethlehem and Nazareth . The church protects them from the Jewish takeover the French and the Americans were subjects to. A candidate to the Russian presidency does not have to wear sack to AIPAC, or creep to CRIFF. The Russians of the Jewish origin are equal and worthy citizens, not the ruling caste above reproach. They do not object to the church bells, they do not hate Christmas and Easter celebrations, they do not enforce holocaust cult.  Anyway they are better off in the Pravoslav Russia than in the secular but oh so Jewish Israel, and indeed over a hundred thousand of them moved back to Russia in Putin’s days, and this number is growing monthly.  

Let us move to your PPS. The “higher father who guides actions of” President Bush is rather a collective figure of his Neocon-ADL-AIPAC mentors than One-You-Think- Of. That is the same “higher father” Obama, Clinton and McCain came to worship together last week. This is the ‘higher father’ of the weird crypto-Judaic sect of Christian Zionists. This sect was created and promoted by Jewish media lords. Indeed, before Robertson discovered the light of Zion , he was a penniless preacher. After this discovery, he received his own TV station, sympathetic coverage in the mass media, even a private airplane. Afterwards, other preachers moved to Zionism as to a new Klondike . If tomorrow, Obama were to act like Putin and return the TV to people, Christian Zionism would disappear like smoke at night.

As for the role of religion in the American discourse, one needs more of it. The American people seek Christ, but the priests of secularism forbid them the direct approach. They forbid them even to refer to Christmas. That is why the Americans turn to bastardised forms of religion offered by their “higher father”. In a similar way, womenless men in jail turn to sodomy. If religion would be free in the US , there would be no Iraq war: the Pope, the Patriarch and Ulema condemned it.

And now, let us turn to your signature. You refer to yourself as to “a proud, secular Israeli, who is concerned about the growing influence of right-wing religious forces in Israel , who in alliance with right-wing secular forces will make a possible resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that much more difficult”. I wonder what you are proud of. Secular Israelis committed the dreadful crime of Nakba. Secular Israelis instituted apartheid. Secular Israelis blocked and derailed “a possible resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. All Israeli prime ministers and ministers of defence and chiefs of staff were and are secular. Some of them, notably Ben Gurion, the father of Nakba, were notoriously anti-religious. The left-wing leader Barak, the instigator of the Second Intifada and the right-wing idol, Sharon the Butcher were equally removed from the Synagogue. A religious voice in Israel is that of Avrum Burg, who is more enlightened than any secular politician. Please do not frighten us with “the growing influence of right-wing religious forces in Israel ” – they can’t be more awful than the secular lot.

The religious Jews do not care much about non-Jews, true. But the secular Israelis – naturally white educated Labour-voting Ashkenazim – do not behave like brothers even to other Jewish communities, never mind the Palestinians. They, the secular Labourite Ashkenazim, tried to break up and enslave the oriental Jewish communities, undermining their self-esteem and destroying their family traditions. They tried to do the same to my own Russian community. Now they have enforced the neo-liberal paradigm, had built the Wall, pauperised and despised other Israelis.

It is not coincidence. Godless (“secular”) people are short of compassion and big on arrogance, though I really do not know what is there to be proud of. Not in vain, when the Oriental Jews organised their first independent party, it was a religious party, SHAS, and it was a pro-peace party. Their leader was immediately jailed on trumped-up charges.

The secular Israelis, being devoid of compassion, are unable to make peace with their neighbours – they want to rule, above all. Look at the icon of peace-loving secular Israel , Yitzhak Rabin. He imported Fatah from Tunis in order to suppress First Intifada “without limitations of the High Court”; and trained their security forces in obedience to Israel and to the US . Naturally they were cruel to locals and stole all they could. That is why the Palestinians preferred the compassionate Hamas. That is why the secular Israelis fight Hamas day and night – because they can’t deal with people who believe in God, only with the Godless ones.

Look at another idol of secular Israel , at the High Court. These men and women authorised torture, permitted kidnapping of Vanunu, allowed “targeted assassinations” , blessed the Wall. Actually, the war between Jews and Palestinians began in 1987 (“First Intifada”) because of Dorit Beinish, the present head of the High Court and the very paragon of a secular Israeli. Beinish invented a quasi-legal device how to confiscate the Arab lands: she asserted that pubic lands, “lands of Sultan”, now belong to the Jewish state, and allowed to give them to the Jewish-only settlements.


And now we can answer your main question, is there any connection between secularism, human rights, women's rights, and freedom of expression? You bet there is. Secularism is a denial of compassion and a denial of brotherhood of men; it is a form of supreme arrogance which leads to totalitarian dictatorship – whether a Nietzschean strongman dictatorship, or a Straussian Hidden Hand rule. Secularism denies human rights of ordinary people, of vast majority – their human right to self-esteem, right to employment, right to peace of mind – for the sake of minority. That’s why it was easily converted into the cult of holocaust under its so-very-secular high priest Yehuda Bauer. As for women’s rights, secularism is especially good in turning Woman into a widow or a divorcee. Freedom of expression? Try and publish any of my texts in any mainstream secular Israeli publication, and then we shall return to this topic again.


From: Djenane Kamil, Cairo

Dear Israel,

Computers do not agree with me, or maybe I am just too old to learn it all, but I could not find another place to reply to your mail. I apologise if writing to you directly is not done!

As usual, you wrote an excellent article, by answering Mr. Hillel, and I am proud of you! Keep up the good work. I have a question though, for in your response you spoke mostly of Judaism and Christianity. Being a Muslim and living in an Egypt far different from the one I grew up in, I am very concerned with the rising influence of religion. Too many Egyptians are ignorant, and they will believe anything anyone wearing a turban will tell them. That goes for the other Muslim countries, I fear. Religion is fine, but interpreting it for your political and social benefits, or as though we still lived in the seventh century, is definitely NOT fine. Egyptians are, as everyone coming here attests, compassionate by nature, but they could do with some more pride, and some more secularism!! Does secular necessarily mean non-religious? I don't think so.

Again, I apologize for replying directly, and address a big thank you to you, for this mail, as well as for all the ones you sent before. Many regards!

Djenane Kamil, Cairo/Egypt

Shamir replied:

Dear Djenane,

It is perfectly ok to write to me this way or any other way. I understand your position. The problem is that your feeling (a bit more secularism, a bit less religion) is mainly (not exclusively) an attitude of relatively wealthy and educated classes. We do not hear it from the underprivileged ones. Let us be frank, it could be seen as an expression of egoism. A man wants to have "less religion" when he wants to share less with other less fortunate members of his community.

Poor people go back to Islam because the wealthy and educated classes had moved to egoistic neo-liberal mode and undid socialism. The choice is entirely yours and of other well-off Egyptians: express more solidarity with your poor fellahin, share with them of your wealth and your knowledge, and their immediate need for religious compensation will become less urgent. More socialism and more equality - and you'll get less religious shackles.

In Europe , the church was undermined by the socialists because they promised (and delivered) more wealth-sharing than the church. If your Islamic zakat or the Christian tithes are like 10 pc, socialists fixed the taxes at 40 pc. Afterwards the neo-liberals came in and eliminated the welfare state done by the socialists, but the Europeans could not go back to Church they deserted long time ago. For the Egyptians, not that long time passed from Nasser ’s reforms, and they still can go back to the Ulema of Azhar.

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