Saturday, April 26, 2014

Iranian Holocaust Denial

I have wondered why Holocaust denial plays such a big part in the ideology and public statements of the Iranian Islamic regime.

The article cited below by R. M. Gerecht has clarified some of this for me. The main points he makes are:

"Holocaust revisionism permeates and defines the Iranian regime. Former PresidentMahmoud Ahmadinejad   famously supported a research mission to Poland in 2005 to investigate whether millions of Jews could have died at Auschwitz. (Poland's foreign ministry turned down the request.) Today, in addition to Supreme Leader Khamenei, commanders of the Revolutionary Guard Corps—who oversee Iran's nuclear program and terrorist operations—embrace Holocaust-denial with gusto.
Even the "moderate" president elected last year, Hasan Rouhani, danced around the subject of the Holocaust in his interview last September with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, saying it was up to historians to decide—as if they hadn't already—the true "dimensions" of Nazi slaughter. Mr. Rouhani didn't deny that the Germans killed Jews, but he grouped them with other victims of Nazi barbarism.
The Tehran regime's Holocaust reflections spring in great part from two sources. First, a passionate belief in the awesome conspiratorial power of Jews, whom the Iranians allege have long malignly pulled the strings in the U.S. Former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, once the "moderate" mentor of Mr. Rouhani, can wax on, as he once did in a Friday sermon, about how "Jewish capitalism" controls America and, via America, the West. For Mr. Rafsanjani, Judaism as a religion and Zionism as a movement are both "immersed" in imperialism, against which the "most fundamental danger . . . is the Islamic world."
Many Iranian revolutionaries appear to be a bit flummoxed by the contradiction of the all-powerful Jews losing more than half their number to the Nazis. The common refrain that one hears among pan-Arab nationalists and Muslim Brotherhood types—that Hitler didn't go far enough—isn't widespread among Iran's Islamic militants. For them, Holocaust denial restores some logic to history: If they can assert that Hitler did not kill six million Jews, the Holocaust can be labeled a narrative spun by Jews to engender guilt and special advantages over Muslims and others. In that light, Holocaust denial is both moral and politically essential.
The second main reason for denying the Holocaust: Doing so implicitly negates the need for Israel's existence....."

For the full article, see:

Given the above statements and the contents of the article as a whole, what is the path of reconciliation and peace for Iran and Israel? Are reconciliation and peace even possible?

More broadly, what is the path of reconciliation and peace for Iran with America and the Western World?

Friday, April 25, 2014


What assumption(s) are you believing?

(Be as specific as you can in answering this and throughout responding to what follows.)

When anger arises, when fear, frustrations, hurt, greed, sadness, depression, or other reactive habits arise, use that as an opportunity to look at what you are assuming.

When you are dissatisfied, stressed, suffering, look - what are you assuming should be or should not be?

Expand this to when you are feeling excited, justified, "righteous",  "winning"or other emotion-thought states that you might call "good" or "desirable" - what are the assumptions?

Looking at the assumption(s) you are believing - are you sure of the "truth" of these assumptions?

What would it be for you (specifically you now, not theoretically or conceptually) to "let go" of those specific assumptions, to let those assumptions be - not attach and hold to them?

What would it be to "not-know" what you assume you know?

What is experiencing this?

What is responding out of this experiencing?

(c) 2014 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

unintended consequences ?? - and can we explore the politically questionable?

Knowing my interest in unintended consequences, the article cited below was sent to me.

I take issue with some of the conclusions of the article; nevertheless, it offers thought-provoking and interesting hypothesis.

These hypothesis can serve as subject of further analysis by researchers, scholars and policy makers to either verify or disprove these conclusions - if they are willing to tackle these important subjects which are otherwise almost taboo, often avoided for fear of the political and media pressure such as that which recently led Brandies University to withdraw an Honorary Doctorate and Commencement speech invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

How Modernity 'Radicalizes' Western Muslims

by Raymond Ibrahim
"...In fact, far from eliminating "radicalization," Western values can actually exacerbate Islamic tendencies—hence why second generation, "Westernized" Muslims are also becoming more "radicalized" than their parents.
Some already know that Western concessions to Islam—in the guise of multiculturalism, "cultural sensitivity," political correctness, and self-censorship—only bring out the worst of Islam's "schoolyard bully." Yet even some of the most prized aspects of Western civilization—personal freedom, rule of law, human dignity—when articulated through an Islamic framework, have the capacity to "radicalize" Muslims.
Consider: the West's commitment to the law as supreme arbitrator, for the Westernized Muslim becomes a commitment to establish and enforce Islamic law, Sharia; the West's commitment to democracy, for the Westernized Muslim becomes a commitment to theocracy, including an anxious impulse to resurrect the caliphate; Western notions of human dignity and pride, when articulated through an Islamic paradigm (which sees only fellow Muslims as equals) induces rage when Muslims—Palestinians, Afghanis, Iraqis, etc.—are seen under Western, infidel dominion; Western notions of autonomy and personal freedom have even helped "Westernize" the notion of jihad into an individual duty, though it has traditionally been held by Sharia as a communal duty.
In short, a set of noble principles articulated through a foreign paradigm can lead to abominations. In this case, the better principles of Western civilization are being devoured, absorbed, and regurgitated into something equally potent, though from the other end of the spectrum."

For the whole article see:

Is the above really true?

Is it really true that Muslims, because of their particular religious, cultural and other identifications, are not able to universalize the above noted "noble principles?"

Is there a way to test the validity of these statements?

Are there degrees of truth or validity?

Are the assumptions made in the article of such a nature that they can not be tested for their truthfulness or validity? If so, then what are we to make of such statements? If so, are they skillfully articulated or is there a better way to explore these matters?

Friday, April 11, 2014

"at home in muddy water"

Please continue exploring the  themes of being "at home" (or not being at home) as discussed in a previous blog.

Notice what (or when) you believe there are "muddy water" conditions or circumstances in life? (What and when are there "clear" water conditions or circumstances?)

What makes for a condition/circumstance "being muddy"?

What are your reactions to "muddy"?

Noticing this "muddy", what is being present, awake, at home in this muddy water?

What enables and support you in being present?

What hinders or keeps you from presencing?

What attachments and beliefs arise when sensing/feeling/believing "muddy"?

What/how is practice with these?

What is being at home in the midst of hindrance, in the midst of attachment/beliefs and reactive habits?

Conditions or circumstances include so-called internal or external, body, thought and emotions in various permutations and combinations, and self or other, to list just a few ways we might categorize or name them.

(c) 2014 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Friday, April 4, 2014

Manifesting the Universe, This Moment Presence

Zen practice is living compassionately.

Descriptions and theories are not the point of Zen, and often lead in directions which are neither skillful nor supportive.

Nevertheless, many of us like theories, and I am often asked to speak in those terms. Descriptions and theories can serve supportive, skillful and even nurturing purposes, despite the fact that descriptions can also lead to distortion, sometimes more so than adding light.

Asked to say something, right now my opinion is that our life is the universe coming together in this moment,  all sorts of phenomenon, physical and mental, known and unknown, coming together now and giving us the opportunity of presencing, being present, awake - and "out" of that presence, responding. In being present, noticing this moment habits and forces, we can make a choice/effort in manifesting this universe we are. The above is said when pressed to speak in these terms, nothing else.

An interesting discussion of rationality, neurology, psychology and more, especially the most recent scientific research, is an article by Paul Bloom which includes the following:

"As you read this article, your actions are determined by physical law, but unless you have been drugged, or have a gun to your head, or are acting under the influence of a behavior-changing brain tumor, reading it is what you have chosen to do. You have reasons for that choice, and you can decide to stop reading if you want. If you should be doing something else right now—picking up a child at school, say, or standing watch at a security post—your decision to continue reading is something you are morally responsible for.

The idea of “choosing” to stop (or choosing anything at all), they suggest, implies a mystical capacity to transcend the physical world. Many people think about choice in terms of this mystical capacity, and I agree with the determinists that they’re wrong. But instead of giving up on the notion of choice, we can clarify it. The deterministic nature of the universe is fully compatible with the existence of conscious deliberation and rational thought—with neural systems that analyze different options, construct logical chains of argument, reason through examples and analogies, and respond to the anticipated consequences of actions, including moral consequences. These processes are at the core of what it means to say that people make choices, and in this regard, the notion that we are responsible for our fates remains intact.

But this is where philosophy ends and psychology begins. It might be possible that we are physical beings who can use reason and make choices. But haven’t the psychologists shown us that this is wrong, that reason is an illusion? The sorts of findings I began this article with—about the surprising relationship between bakery smells and altruism, or between the weight of a résumé and how a job candidate is judged—are often taken to show that our everyday thoughts and actions are not subject to conscious control.

This body of research has generated a lot of controversy, and for good reason: some of the findings are fragile, have been enhanced by repeated testing and opportunistic statistical analyses, and are not easily replicated. But some studies have demonstrated robust and statistically significant relationships. Statistically significant, however, doesn’t mean actually significant. Just because something has an effect in a controlled situation doesn’t mean that it’s important in real life...."

For the rest of this wide-ranging article see:

(c) 2014 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Being At Home

This is an exercise which can support and nurture our life.

For this to work best, I encourage you to regularly write down responses throughout the week, throughout day, because writing enables us to clarify and articulate what we are believing or holding to - use a notebook, a digital format or what works for you.

Notice where/ when you are/feel "at home" ? 

Notice where / when you are/feel not "at home"? 

In place of "at home" you can use other phrases such as "ok" or "not ok", or what ever phrase works for you.

Looking more closely, which "external" circumstances are related to being "at home" or being not "at home"?

Which "internal" circumstances in terms of body conditions, body-mind, emotion thought, relationship or social conditions  are connected or associated with feeling "at home" or "not at home" ? 

Look, what makes for feeling at home, what makes for feeling not at home?

And what are the results in your life of being "at home"?

What are the results in your life of not being "at home", of being "not at home"?

(c) 2014 Elihu Genmyo Smith