Saturday, March 24, 2007


"Some days you eat the bear...Some days the bear eats you."--Anon.

"Who will eat who?"--Lenin

"We who do not know fear, we are the predators of the forest."--Child's song on the Hamas TV show of Farfur, the jihadi Mickey Mouse.

The Jews need to learn to be hunters.

We are not, and this failure may seal our doom.

It is difficult for someone who has never hunted before to appreciate the changes it forces on your thinking. Consider the ordinary hunt:

1. The hunter must focus on his target, his prey.
2. The hunter must calculate where the prey will be found, and when.
3. The hunter must find a way to position himself in a place where he will be able to kill or capture the prey, without the prey seeing him first--inside the prey's natural habitat.
4. The hunter must safeguard himself from dangers both indirect (hazardous terrain and extreme climates) and direct--the prey (or some other animal, or even a person) attacking him.
5. The hunter must have an appropriate weapon for the task.
6. The hunter must have a way to retrieve his prey should he kill it.

These challenges are not glorious or noble or incredibly complex. But they are essential for a successful hunt. Failure on any one of them will lead to a failed hunt. So a good hunter takes careful account of all of these factors before he sets out after his prey

Perhaps most critically, a hunter must force himself to objectify another living creature. By definition, the hunter must decide that his preference to kill his prey is superior to the prey's preference to live. The hunter is the subject, while the prey is the object. The only concern the hunter has for the prey's preferences and instincts is how to predict and rely on them so as to maximize his chance of killing the prey.

When hunting large carnivores, and even many large herbivores, the hunter must be aware that HE is no more than an object to his prey--an object that the prey absolutely MUST avoid. Or, if necessary, ELIMINATE. This is how the hunter becomes the hunted. Accordingly, any hunter who sets out after such dangerous prey must simultaneously visualize two mirror-opposite realities: how he can kill his prey (the prey's vulnerability) and how HIS PREY MAY KILL HIM (his own vulnerability). In this context, a "failure of imagination" can easily result in a dreadful maiming, if not death for the hunter.

Hunting occupies a proud place in both the Arab and Persian traditions. And it shows in the relentless and inventive efforts by the Arabs and Persians to destroy Israel. For many Jews, even Gentiles, it seems bizarre, surely inexplicable, that these countries don't recognize Israel and make amends with it. But in their hunter's minds, such a reconciliation is beyond preposterous. "The Zionist entity" is AN OBJECT to be hunted down, not a subject with which one sets down to negotiate peace. Does a hunter negotiate a treaty with a leopard? And if the leopard escapes the trap...Or the bullet misses...Or the bait is left untouched...There is always tomorrow. For a good hunter is patient.

Remember: The only concern the hunter has for the prey's preferences and instincts is how to predict and rely on them so as to maximize his chance of killing it.

For Israel, a land of Jews who have proven their valor and skill on the battlefield, the lack of hunting consciousness means they are constantly surprised that their interlocutor doesn't really want peace. And they never take steps to hunt down their hunters. Which is the only way they will ever break out of this deadly cycle.

The Jewish tradition has little to say about hunting, but what it does say is negative. The figure of Nimrod ("a mighty hunter") is one of a rebel who defies God and constructs the Tower of Babel, and Jacob's older brother, Esau, a hunter, was foolish enough to trade his birthright for a hot meal. Recent commentaries emphasize that "sport hunting" (hunting a non-menacing wild animal that is not needed for food or fur) is unacceptably cruel, "because it is done solely for pleasure."

But is that true? Is that perhaps an assumption made by people who just have not contemplated any worthy justification for sport hunting? A person who has been trained as a hunter develops many important skills:
Acuity of sight, hearing, and observation;
Focus, self-control and coolness at the key moment;
And finally, most critically, that ability to simultaneously visualize those two mirror-opposite realities: how he can kill his prey (the prey's vulnerability) and how HIS PREY MAY KILL HIM (his own vulnerability).

That last, I submit, is almost utterly absent amongst the Jews today. As their predatory enemies maneuver and scheme and launch dry runs and test attacks and probes against them, the brightest lights in Israel sit around to try to devise ways to cajole or bribe the predators to stop hunting them. The lack of clear understanding amongst Jews of the hunter/hunted dynamic is clear evidence that THEY NEED to learn and develop the ancient skills of hunting, to help ensure their national survival. If that isn't a valid reason to abandon the traditional Jewish attitudes and strictures against hunting, then what is?

Art Spiegelman published two powerful cartoon books on the Holocaust, Maus and Maus II. To read these books is to see the Jews as essentially clueless prey animals (mice) as they were rounded up, degraded, and ultimately annihilated by their brutal, cruel, but focused hunters (Cats/Germans--and, yes, like the Arabs and Persians, the Germans also had a long tradition of hunting.) And while history demonstrates that some Jews were never fooled, and responded adeptly, even heroically, there is no doubt that almost all of the Jews of Europe allowed themselves to be maneuvered into a position where their destruction--and that of their children--was almost assured.

Can anyone doubt that history would have had a much different spin had the Jews of Europe been raised in a tradition that honored hunting rather than denigrated it? What if a large portion of them had developed those skills and instincts uniquely sharpened by hunting?

A few years ago some villagers in a remote region of the island of Sarawak got fed up with a huge man-eating crocodile. According to one of the villagers, after luring the predator near the shore, they rushed into the Lupar River after it:

"With parangs(sharp swords made by local Iban [tribesmen]), axes and tough thread, [note--no guns!] we fight for around half an hour and managed to kill the cold blooded terminator. It was dangerous because its sharp teeth, powerful tail & tough skin which was as tough as thick hardwood."

Here is the photo--it weighed more than a ton:

To be fair, Jewish tradition teaches us that such hunting against a predatory animal is indeed encouraged. But how does one expect to hunt effectively without real-world practice and training?

Until about 100 years ago, almost all the Jews in the world lived in some form of the shtetl, or Jewish quarter, as they had for generations uncounted. As we all know, in the modern era of citizenship and human rights this undignified existence was rightly condemned as obsolete. But it is almost as if Jews haven't internalized that, indeed, the shtetl is gone. The Czar/Sultan will not protect us. And we fully have it in our capability to protect ourselves.

The shtetl mentality appears to be deeply connected to our peculiar rejection of hunting.

It is about a century and a half since Charles Darwin developed his theory of natural selection. Since that time, there has been a lot of controversy about the philosophical implications of that theory, but no-one questions one of its basic assumptions: a species that does not adapt to a new and unfavorable environment cannot survive. Today in the Jewish year 5767, Jews are faced with an environment of incredible contrast: never before has it been easier for the bulk of the Jews on earth to arm and effectively defend themselves. However, never before have Jews been confronted with so many various predators planning violence against them.

In this environment, it is simply irresponsible to discourage the study and practice of hunting by Jews. To do so makes it significantly less likely that we can survive in a free and dignified condition. Or even survive at all.