the military use of pornography

(This is an excerpt from Rabbi Dresner’s Dilemma by E Michael Jones, written in 2003. In full here. Jones, is, incidentally, a traditionalist Catholic. – RB)

The Israelis have recently shown themselves well-versed in what one could call the military use of pornography. At 4:30 PM on Mar 30 2002, Israeli military forces took over Palestinian TV stations, when they occupied Ramallah in the West Bank, immediately shutting them down. What followed was a little more unusual. Shortly after occupying the Al-Watan TV station, the Israeli forces began broadcasting pornography over its transmitter. Eventually, according to a report from the Advertiser, an Australian newspaper, the Israelis expanded their cultural offensive against the Palestinian people by broadcasting pornography over two other Palestinian stations, the Ammwaj and Al-Sharaq channels. One 52-year-old Palestinian mother of three children, according to the report in the the Advertiser, complained about ‘the deliberate psychological damage caused by these broadcasts’. The only Palestinian station not taken over by the Israelis ran a written message at the bottom of its screen claiming that ‘Anything currently shown on Al-Watan and other local TV channels has nothing to do with Palestinian programs but is being broadcast by the Israeli occupation forces. We urge parents to take precautions.’ In addition to being outraged, the Palestinians were bewildered. ‘Why in the world,’ one correspondent to wondered, ‘should one do such a thing?’

If we turn to the dominant culture for an answer, we can only become more confused, because according to the dominant culture’s explanation, pornography means freedom. So, making use of the hermeneutic provided by the dominant culture in films like Boogie Nights and The People vs. Larry Flynt, Israeli troops began broadcasting pornography over captured Palestinian TV stations because they wanted to spread freedom among the Palestinian people. Somehow that doesn’t sound right. The simple fact of the matter is that this incident simply cannot be explained according to the principles available in contemporary American culture. In order to understand the disparity between the official explanation of pornography and what might be termed its military use, we have to go back to the ancients. The story of Samson and Delilah might be a good place to start. Israel was invincible militarily then too — at least that part hasn’t changed — so the Philistines decided that they had to get at the Israelite leader by other than military means. Unable to defeat him in battle, they decided to seduce him sexually. Once Samson succumbed to Delilah’s wiles, he lost his power, and Israel lost its leader. They could find him then not on the field of battle, but rather, to use Milton’s phrase, ‘eyeless in Gaza, grinding at the mill with slaves’. The story of the Palestinian TV stations broadcasting pornography has a curiously Biblical ring to it. Having learned their lesson, the Israelis decided to turn the tables on their opponents, because they knew that a blind opponent is no opponent at all, and because they knew — as the ancient Greeks knew — that lust makes a man blind. Thomas Aquinas, giving voice to that same tradition over a millennium later, said that lust ‘darkens the mind’. Suddenly, Israel’s use of pornography in their battle against the Palestinians isn’t so inexplicable anymore, because a blind opponent is a weak opponent. A blind opponent is no opponent at all.


  1. yaron
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    If this is true I am in agreement with you and against such actions. I will look into the article more closely.

  2. niqnaq
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Thank you. You will find Jones, I hope, an engaging fellow, whose traditionalist Catholicism is very closely bound up with his desire to live once more in a society in which people are permitted at least to give a minimal damn about one anothers’ welfare. Also, as you can see, he writes excellent english prose.

    Mind you, he gets pretty malignant about Judaism, from time to time.

  3. yaron
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    “Mind you, he gets pretty malignant about Judaism, from time to time.”

    A Catholic trait since there is only salvation thru the church and they have not succeeded in converting the entire world they have a “spiritual conflict”

  4. niqnaq
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    It also appears never to have been properly proof-read, conflating at one point Wasserman and Katzenberg to create a ‘Wassenberg’:

    Cash describes then 81-year-old Lew Wasserman as at the top of Hollywood’s ‘feudal power structure.’ When Stephen Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg decided to form their own production studio, they first gathered at Wassenberg’s estate to gain his ‘rabbinical blessing,’ after which ‘they spoke in ‘hushed, reverential tones about the industry potentate,’ and how he ‘spun stories about the history of Hollywood and showed them artifacts.’ Wasserman had been Stephen Spielberg’s mentor for over almost 30 years.

    My argument really is that there are a number of universal and obvious principles one needs to apply if one is seriously interested in the general social welfare, and all the major religions should find it easy enough to agree on what they are. Unfortunately, western imperialism nowadays actually employs social scientists chiefly in military or commercial capacities, thereby falsifying and perverting their science, such as it is.

  5. yaron
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    For the mean-time, as Dylan says, “money swears, it does not speak”.

  6. niqnaq
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)

    Darkness at the break of noon
    Shadows even the silver spoon
    The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
    Eclipses both the sun and moon
    To understand you know too soon
    That there’s no sense in trying.

    Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
    Suicide remarks are torn
    From the fool’s gold mouthpiece, the hollow horn
    Plays wasted words that prove to warn
    That he not busy being born
    Is busy dying.

    Temptation’s page flies out the door
    You follow, find yourself at war
    Watch waterfalls of pity roar
    You feel to moan but unlike before
    You discover that you’d just be
    One more person crying.

    So don’t fear if you hear
    A foreign sound to your ear
    It’s alright, Ma, I’m only sighing.

    As some warn victory, some downfall
    Private reasons great or small
    Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
    To make all that should be killed to crawl
    While others say don’t hate nothing at all
    Except hatred.

    Disillusioned words like bullets bark
    As human gods aim for their mark
    Make everything from toy guns that spark
    To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
    It’s easy to see without looking too far
    That not much
    Is really sacred.

    While preachers preach of evil fates
    Teachers teach that knowledge waits
    Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
    Goodness hides behind its gates
    But even the President of the United States
    Sometimes must have
    To stand naked.

    And though the rules of the road have been lodged
    It’s only people’s games, and you got to dodge
    And it’s alright, Ma, I can make it.

    Advertising signs that con you
    Into thinking you’re the one
    That can do what’s never been done
    That can win what’s never been won
    Meantime life outside goes on
    All around you.

    You lose yourself, you reappear
    You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
    Alone you stand without anybody near
    When a trembling distant voice, unclear
    Startles your sleeping ears to hear
    That somebody thinks
    They really found you.

    A question in your nerves is lit
    Yet you know there is no answer fit
    To satisfy, ensure you not to quit
    To keep it in your mind and not forget
    That it is not he or she or them or it
    That you belong to.

    Although the masters make the rules
    For the wise men and the fools
    I got nothing, Ma, to live up to.

    For them that must obey authority
    That they do not respect in any degree
    Who despise their jobs, their destinies
    Speak jealously of them that are free
    Cultivate their flowers to be
    Nothing more than something
    They invest in.

    While some on principles baptized
    To strict party platforms ties
    Social clubs in drag disguise
    Outsiders they can freely criticize
    Tell nothing except who to idolize
    And then say God Bless Him.

    While one who sings with his tongue on fire
    Gargles in the rat race choir
    Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
    Cares not to come up any higher
    But rather get you down in the hole
    That he’s in.

    But I mean no harm, nor put fault
    On anyone that lives in a vault
    But it’s alright, Ma, if I can’t please him.

    Old lady judges watch people in pairs
    Limited in sex they dare
    To push fake morals, insult and stare
    While money doesn’t talk, it swears
    Obscenity, who really cares
    Propaganda, all is phony.

    While them that defend what they cannot see
    With a killer’s pride, security
    It blows the minds most bitterly
    For them that think death’s honesty
    Won’t fall upon them naturally
    Life sometimes
    Must get lonely.

    My eyes collide head-on with stuff,
    Graveyards, false gods, I scuff
    At pettiness which plays so rough
    Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
    Kick my legs to crash it off
    Say, okay, I’ve had enough
    What else can you show me?

    And if my thought dreams could been seen
    They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
    But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only.

  7. yaron
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Sorry for the misquote. I was quoting from memory from the 1960’s in the East Village.

  8. niqnaq
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    enjoy the ginsberg & cassady clip.

  9. yaron
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Thanx for the clip.
    I lived next door to and Ginsberg and Orlovsky but being some 20 years their younger and not sharing there sexual predilections the only contact I had with them was at Molly’s restaurant where were shared a liking for red cabbage soup w/raisons.
    I am assuming from this clip that you posted that you must be familiar with the writings of Peter Lamborn Wilson aka Hakim Bey?
    My favorite essay of his is ‘Shamanic Trance’ in ‘Escape from the 20th Century’.
    As far as the East Side I passed by the Filmore East almost every evening but never went in even though Hendrix, Joplin were there.
    Of this I have not regret but I am still dealing with the fact that while being in London in July 1969 when Brian Jones died and the Stone gave a free concert in Hyde park I did not attend.
    What can I say, I like the Stones.

  10. niqnaq
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    yes. the case of Hakim Bey is certainly very interesting. You may not know this, but the ‘caliphate’ OTO has been attempting for some years to create a Moorish Gnostic Church. This is why P L Wilson’s delightful writings are to be found here:

  11. Posted January 25, 2009 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    It is unfortunate that the dogma of the author wastes so much time. Porn can be a part of freedom relative to another stage in the same culture, depending on numerous factors. The highly sexualized Israeli culture more often uses sexual imagery as part of racist self-definition: we are physically beautiful, unrestrained by tradition, and happening. There is an irrational “truth” that beauty is the same thing as all that is good, thus a beautiful person doing something irrationally validates that act; compare all advertising ever and also the swimming pool executions in Alphaville. The sufferers are denied even the dignity of their suffering, which is a very Jewish way of thinking.
    This is actually very close to a half-written series of short stories that we keep debating posting online, because they’re so morally horrifying. In them the guards of a special prison use sexual and normal social and linguistic tricks to try to permanently alter their charges’ understanding of reality. It is not a “prison flick” where bad things happen within a lax or bad system, it is an intentionally perverted educational system that overtly and systematically attacks the victims’ self-image.
    A Roman Catholic ought to know better that forcing someone to view pornographic imagery against their will is not about the pornography any more than rape proves that sex is wrong. It’s just like doing anything else to someone against their will. This is the societal equivalent of pinching a subordinate coworker’s rear to remind them that you are categorically superior, feel no respect for them, and will demonstrate their inferiority and helpless at will, thereby demonstrating your own power, by shoving this material into their faces. It is also clear that Israelis hope to benefit from the moral and social confusion and destruction of Palestinian society.

  12. niqnaq
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    But it is also true that for a period of some hours after orgasm, one’s etheric body is darkened and coarsened and impenetrable spiritually.

  13. yaron
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Niqnaq- What point are you trying make in your last comment?
    Are you opting for some kind of celibacy?

  14. niqnaq
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    No, just saying that you can’t do both at once, unless you are engaged in left-hand tantra, or some kabbalistic practice of equally dubious nature. Islam is actually very sensible about this sort of thing; it contains no elements of metaphysical dualism of the sort that christianity and lurianic kabbalah contain; it does not suggest that humans should attempt to behave like angels, but rather, that they should attempt to behave like humans. This includes the simple courtesies of cleansing yourself before prayer. Islam considers all forms of bodily effluent to be attractive to mischievous spirits, just like the halachah does.

    By the way, a good morning to you, Yaron, from pre-dawn London.

  15. yaron
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    “This includes the simple courtesies of purifying yourself before prayer.”
    Well, this exists in all religions not just Islam.

    As far as “Lurianic dualism’ I tend to agree with you but if you realize that it has been instituted for only 400+ years that there are/were different traditions.
    We could simply divide them into apophatic/cataphatic as is present in Eastern/Western Christianity with examples of Meister Eckhardt, Gregory of Palamas, John Scotus Euirugena etc

  16. niqnaq
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    you’re outta my depth there, Yaron. I can’t help remembering this wonderful quote which John Cage has in his book “A Year From Monday”, and which he picked up from some utterly out-of-the-way society in the south seas or wherever: “We have no religion; we just do everything the best way we can.”

    I just recalled reading a year or two ago about some ashkenazi ‘evangelist’ who gives very popular though controversial public lectures in which he says things like, “When that great day comes, you will look around and you will be puzzled to see that all the chilonim (secular or non-observant) Jews have simply disappeared. Then you will hear a faint sound, like zzzt, zzzt, like flies hitting an electrified wire mesh screen. That’s them, being incinerated…”

  17. yaron
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    What I simply mean is that the ‘Lurianic mindset’ has taken over as the ‘official’ kabbalah{in want of a better word}.
    The run of the mill religious mind immediately perceives {albeit, in an unwanted manner} a dual creation, a sort demiurge cosmos of ‘alterity’ which then becomes the basis of relating to the world, them and us. However, it seems this is an inevitability of the human condition thus the constant reverting to tribality the result of which is war.
    May god/allah etc protect us all!

    BTW, when approaching the Lurianic texts there are pages of warnings against anthropomorphism which in itself seems to be sort of a ‘Hallajian’ joke where satan/shaitan is the true servant of god!

  18. niqnaq
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    sorry, I added something to the comment above after you added your own comment to it, which I didn’t intend to do.

    The effect of lurianic kabbalah is widely held to have been no less than satanic, even by other kabbalists, but on the other hand the level of superheated steam in all jewish ideological discourse is so high that one stops paying attention. What I do find striking is the Sabbatian idea that you can use the demons for your own purposes, and the Frankist idea that you can infiltrate the opposition. By the way, there appears to be absolutely nothing out there about Jacob Frank in english – certainly nothing like Gershom Scholem’s massive book about Zevi. Chaos as Shelter have a song about him, though, using an english text which I think they got from here:

    Another interest I have is in the effect of the teachings of Rav Kook. I think that when more orthodox jews called him ‘sabbatian’ they were just speaking figuratively, but I also think that there are the remnants of a sort of psychedelicism in the settler movement, which may have come from him, or from Lubavitch (‘Chabad’) which is full of reconstituted acid casualties.

    p.s.: if we go on having these long conversations,maybe we should consider running this as a joint blog, like
    which is jointly run by Gershom Gorenberg and Haim Watzman, two completely different types of guy.

  19. yaron
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Firstly, the ‘donmeh west’ is a joke. I think he is just an exhibitionist craving attention and from what I remember he has no knowledge of Hebrew even the more so of Sabbatian texts.
    The major Sabbatian texts were written by Nathan of Gaza and basically the only so-called heretical concept is that he is called ‘Amira'{the word}i which in essence parallels with the Shi’ite concept of ‘occultation'{which seems now to have been adopted by chabad/lubavitch} and has the ‘whiff’ of incarnation doctrine which is of course an absolute taboo to 2/3 of monotheism.
    I possess copies of the major Sabbatian texts and they are quite interesting, as a matter of fact in my opinion, the most fruitful and original novellae of Lurianic ideas which was/is unfortunately ‘occulted’ by the religious establishment. It is an example of denial but from my readings etc. it penetrated into the Jewish world surreptitiously and even today there are students of these writings.
    Comically enough, I know of two well known and respected ‘kabbalists’ who are very in involved in the study of these texts. Antinomianism has a very distinct appeal to the pious. If their names were ever released in this context it would be their end.

    “The effect of lurianic kabbalah is widely held to have been no less than satanic”
    If you mean dividing the world into a sort of dual creation I agree with you.

    As far as the Frankists go I have seen translations of his works from the Polish but I don’t remember if into English or Hebrew. They are in the Gershom Scholem room at the Hebrew University in Jer.
    He is very distinct from the Nathan of Gaza school, simply in my opinion Frank was a deviant.

    Scholem’s work on Sabbatianism is gigantic but it has been claimed that wherever he looked that is what he saw{not to put him down.}

    There is an excellent work by an extremely competent scholar called “Post-Sabbatian Sabbatianism” by Bezalel Naor {in English} subtitled ‘Study of an underground messianic movement}. Hard to obtain today{p. 1999} but after assidouusly perusing the net I found it a a place called ‘intellect books’ situated in New Jersey.

    I am not sure what you mean by “the level of superheated steam in all jewish ideological discourse is so high that one stops paying attention”

  20. yaron
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    “reconstituted acid casualties”
    I must laud you on this expression. I actually took acid while it was legal but for my ‘spiritual constitution’ I quite speedily refrained from its use.

    In my last reply the book I recommended was authored by the same author that translated one of Kook’s books into English.
    There actually still exists in the orthodox world an ‘excommunication’ on his writings. Recently two quite large volumes of his unexpurgated writings were released from original mss.{as most of the original printings were ‘touched up’ and I heard there was a bit of a ‘balagan’ even in the Kook circles about releasing these.
    I will look at the site you cited.

  21. niqnaq
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    well, acid always freaked me out too, but I saw it as a powerful (if dangerous) self-educational tool. I still see it that way. I happen to be in constant physical pain nowadays because of a back injury, so that kind of sensory intensification would not be too welcome, unfortunately, but there are some interesting preparations on the market which do seem to be effective and legal substitutes for cannabis, which is something.

    regarding the ‘superheated steam’, I suppose you yourself hardly notice it at all; I am certainly no longer shocked by it. I am referring merely to the level of ‘vitriol’ and abuse and hyperbole that accompany intra-Jewish disputes in Israel, where people are much less restrained by decorum than elsewhere.

    and, oh, yes, that Donmeh West guy: I joined his online seminars for a few weeks, and he does know the classics, at least in translation – he was teaching from Luzzato’s 138 Openings – but he is a real bully.

    to add yet another postscript: ‘South Jerusalem’ is not particularly politically advanced, by my standards, but it does breathe a definite atmosphere of place, of existentially being there, which I find invaluable. (I get this from the video of Berry Sakharof’s Ir Miqlat, too, even though it is just a rather wistful internal travelogue of Israel.) That reminds me, by the way, I would love to get some tidying up done on my translation of Hadag Nachash’s Aize Kif, which I know is completely rudimentary and fails to grasp the intention of a lot of the lyrics altogether (Done now, here, below the news story). The song is obviously about warmongering crap TV, a la Rupert Murdoch, but it has a lot of obscurities.

    Gorenberg writes for the American Prospect, and is often reproduced elsewhere.

  22. moonkoon
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    “The run of the mill religious mind immediately perceives {albeit, in an unwanted manner} a dual creation, a sort demiurge cosmos of ‘alterity’ which then becomes the basis of relating to the world, them and us.

    I see dualism as a part of our nature, like utopianism.
    They are part of what we struggle against, the “fallen” aspect of our nature, if you like.

    They are not something we ever lose, but always waiting around for the chance to assert their destructive influence.

    When they get societies in their grip, civilisation starts to break down.

    The modern remedy seems to be to divert them into harmless cul de sacs such as sport, lotteries etc., where we can celebrate the notions.

    But as well as celebrating them we need to acknowledge the harm they can do when allowed to run riot, unchallenged.
    It is a bit like the difference between eating and over-eating.

    We can perhaps get away with allowing ourselves the luxury of dualistic fantasies when we live in relative isolation but in this smaller world they increasingly become obstacles to cordial relations between communities.
    The dualistic view becomes a prison of our own making.

    Besides I think dualism is an insult to the God who knows us one by one and tells us to love our enemies.

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