Breakfast at the Waldorf With the Clintonite Israel Lobby

Israel/Palestine
on 48 Comments

Yesterday I got a free, fancy breakfast and then a free fancy lunch from supporters of Israel. But the two approaches were very different and signal a fracture in American politics around the Middle East.

Breakfast was at the Waldorf with the Israel Lobby. To be specific, it was The Israel Project, which is dedicated to working on journalists to improve Israel’s image. "TIP has trained thousands of influential policy leaders, opinion elites, and spokespeople to help strengthen Israel’s image in international media."

I got to the Duke of Windsor room at 10 a.m. 50 or so people were clearing out. I had the impression that these were not journalists but donors. I was meeting Marcus Sheff, a 40-ish reservist in the Israeli army who works for the Israel Project. Sheff has a British accent and a charming, voluble manner, and as I sat down to my scrambled eggs beside him, he checked his blackberry to see whether John McCain’s visit to Sderot in southern Israel, which I gather he had helped to arrange, had come off yet. And then a straggling donor (pretty, middleaged) came over to talk in an earnest tone about NPR and the New York Times’ coverage of Israel.

Their exchange was off-the-record; suffice it to say that dealing with the media is the heart of of TIP’s mission, and they’re a lot more sophisticated than CAMERA.

To wit: Sheff talked to me all about what a great multicultural democracy Israel is and how much it has to teach America about equality in health care, education, and social welfare. A ceo is in one bed in the hospital, an Arab from Nazareth in next to him, getting the same care. Remember that Israel was founded by socialists. Sheff said that "truly no other country" has been able to pull socialized medicine off. Even the Scandinavians–"their systems are falling down."

Eventually I broke in on Sheff to say that I imagine that there were guys from the segregated south who could tell me all the great things Alabama was doing back in the ’60’s. The hole in his story is that the treatment of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is a "red flag" of injustice across the Muslim world (as Mohamed ElBaradei has put it), and this was hurting my country, the U.S.

Sheff said my analogy was "in now way acceptable. Let’s not confuse Israel with the West Bank or Judea and Samaria, whatever terminology you want to use….The West Bank is a situation which needs to be solved. The vast majority of Israelis want a peace process that will put an end to this…." That’s been true since ’92 and Rabin. The majority of Israelis don’t want to rule over 3 million Palestinians. It will be very painful for Israelis to sacrifice land and settlements to gain peace but they will do it. Why, back in Israel, Sheff’s neighbor, a Likudnik, has said to him, "I’d give it all back for peace." The problem is–

You guessed it, the Arabs. "The bottom line is there is no one to negotiate with. That has to be the key." The Palestinians have to be able to deliver. They’ve never demonstrated this ability. In 2000, "Arafat wouldn’t sign on the bottom line." And now Gaza proves the point. "The only thing they have delivered was terror."

I told Sheff that I was tired of this narrative. As far as I was concerned, as an American, a Palestinian state was promised to the Palestinians in ’47 in U.N. Partition, and nothing has come of it for 60 years, and their territory has shrunk and shrunk, and over and over we’ve been told they can’t be trusted with self-governance. I pointed out that in Kosovo, the west isn’t playing footsie with a small country; it’s addressing an injustice by establishing a Muslim state. But all we’ve had in Israel/Palestine for 60 years is a cycle of violence that now engulfs the U.S. We’re occupying an Arab country too! As far as I’m concerned, my country should put its foot down on the injustice.

Sheff bridled. He denied that there was a cycle of violence. The Palestinians initiate all the violence. And as for the west imposing a solution, "Everything that’s ever happened in terms of the peace process has been with direct negotiations between the two sides."

In essence, Sheff was telling me as an American to bug out. Oh yes, we want your "elite" support for Israel. But don’t dare tell us what to do.

Lunch was on 70th Street with the Israel Policy Forum and former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami. These folks are also Zionists; and as a post-Zionist or anti-Zionist Jew, I have some differences with them; but the atmosphere could not have been more different from breakfast. There were Arab ambassadors at the head table who were called on to speak after Ben-Ami. And Ben-Ami was basically pleading to Americans to get involved in Israel/Palestine and push for negotiations with Hamas, without which nothing would go forward. Ben-Ami wasn’t trying to rationalize the strikes against Gaza; he conceded that Israel had been un"generous" to the Palestinians since Annapolis. And the Egyptian ambassador spoke of the "radicals" in Israeli government who had given the Palestinians nothing since Annapolis, only more checkpoints and settlements.

Looking around the room, I saw Rob Malley, an associate of Obama’s[I’m informed I’m wrong about this], Dan Fleshler of realisticdove, Charney Bromberg of Meretz Israel. All these people aren’t just looking out for Israel, they are concerned with Arab human rights. I have my differences with them. For instance, Ben-Ami, Bromberg, and Fleshler have all taken sharp exception to Walt and Mearsheimer; and I believe that progressive Jews must embrace Walt and Mearsheimer as truthtellers in order to identify and declare war on the regressive force here. Yet these people are focused on the real issues of the inhumane treatment of Palestinians. And if the two-state deal doesn’t happen, I wonder whether some of these folks will become post-Zionists too…

When I got home I looked up The Israel Project. It was started by Clintonites. Notably Jennifer Laszlo-Mizrahi, a very savvy p.r. and public policy type. According to Guidestar.org, Laszlo-Mizrahi made $200,000 a year for 32 hours a week of work in 2005. I bet it’s more now. Sure pays to work for the lobby! And The Israel Project’s biggest expenditure that year was $814,000 in polling and focus groups to the center-left group Greenberg, Quinlan and Rosner. Another Clintonite outfit: Stan Greenberg, who’s worked for Labour in Israel. And Jeremy Rosner, also "committed to progressive goals, ideas and leaders…"

Now this is what I find fascinating here. As Sheff pointed out to me, the political landscape has flattened in Israel. Left and right don’t hold any more. The Kadima Party has been able to join old Likudniks with Labourites around the principle: We have a biblical right to the West Bank, but we’ll give (some of) it up for peace.

I wonder if this collapse is also happening in the U.S. Having cast off the anti-abortion/stem cell wing of his party, John McCain isn’t that different from Hillary Clinton. They’re identical on Israel. And of course, Joe Lieberman, an Independent and former Democrat, was at McCain’s side in Israel. They’re all committed to "the peace process," but rather vaguely. The Clintonites and the Republicans are like Labour and Likud; and they would both endorse the principle Ann Lewis set out the other day in D.C., on Hillary’s behalf:

"The role of the president of the United States is to support the
decisions that are made by the people of Israel. It is not up to us to
pick and choose from among the political parties."

Sheff gave me the same line at breakfast. The U.S. should let Israel and the Palestinians work this out on their own; and by the way, Israel is always right. Don’t dare tell us what to do (or our friends in the U.S. will defund your campaign). At lunch it was a different story. A room with a lot of Obama supporters was pushing for the U.S. to take an aggressive role, and push Israel, because Israel is incapable on its own of making progress here. This is what Obama v. Hillary is about. And this crack in our politics isn’t going away soon.

48 Responses

  1. Suzie
    March 21, 2008, 12:36 am

    Philip, I fucking love you. Hooray for your writing and your thinking.

  2. peters
    March 21, 2008, 1:08 am

    Me too, Suzie. And I wish some of the people who comment would tone down the rhetoric. It doesn't really help. And besides, Mr.
    Weiss is so extremely fair and even-handed that I believe we owe it to him, to play fair on his site.

    Can anyone tell me why Bill pardoned Marc Rich? What was going on with him?

  3. peters
    March 21, 2008, 1:08 am

    Me too, Suzie. And I wish some of the people who comment would tone down the rhetoric. It doesn't really help. And besides, Mr.
    Weiss is so extremely fair and even-handed that I believe we owe it to him, to play fair on his site.

    Can anyone tell me why Bill pardoned Marc Rich? What was going on with him?

  4. cogit8
    March 21, 2008, 1:10 am

    To my short list posted the other day (about Jewish responsibility for various odious neo-con concepts):
    3. The doctrine of preemption. Taken straight out of Israel's playbook, pushed by neo-cons as U.S. policy, a result of exceptionalism. When combined with German militarist attitudes toward the unter-mensch, it produced the idiocy and immorality which is to Iraq today.

  5. Montag
    March 21, 2008, 1:24 am

    How about Israel's October, 1985 long distance air raid on the PLO Headquarters in Tunis, followed a few months later by Reagan's long distance air raid against targets in Libya? Only Great Britian would let us use their bases and air space because of the violation of international law involved. Monkey see, monkey do.

  6. americangoy
    March 21, 2008, 1:48 am

    "Sheff bridled. He denied that there was a cycle of violence. The Palestinians initiate all the violence."

    Well this will be familiar to all the moms and dads out there with two brothers.

    "He started it!" they both say and point at one another.

  7. Shai
    March 21, 2008, 1:53 am

    "Tired of the narrative"? What is this, some sort of TV show that has to keep you entertained? This may be a hobby for you, Weiss, but those of us who live in Israel put our lives on the line when we pursue solutions like you propose. I know very few Israelis who wouldn't take a chance for peace IF they knew that the Palestinians wouldn't use the gains to undermine the Jewish Democratic state Israel wishes to be, and it's illustrative that Israel has not yet taken those chances, because the PA keeps proposing solutions that don't provide that comfort.

    Now, do you have any recommendations for the Palestinians on which bridging proposals work? Or are Israel Lobby you intent on Israel Lobby invoking Israel Lobby the name Israel Lobby of W-lt and Israel Lobby M-ersheimer ad infinitum as if it Israel Lobby it were some Israel Lobby sort of talisman that Israel Lobby will just automatically Israel Lobby resolve Israel Lobby everything?

    Give the Israel Lobby this much – whatever they achieve, they don't achieve it through bus bombings and the like. You're entitled to say what you want about them, but to call you "extremely fair" as Suzie did is in my view not true. Your views are if anything tendentious because you never speak of the Arab Lobby and its petroleum power's influence on your view of where the US's interests lay, and because you just always seem to presume prima facie that everything said by those supporting the Palestinian side in this argument is Truth with a capital T, and everything said by those supporting Israel's view is weasel worded and twisted. It is in fact possible that there are two narratives that are correct from their own perspectives, and if you want a solution that's what you'll focus on. A solution is NOT to cause Israel to disappear and celebrate the day, contrary to what some of your commentators seem to feel.

  8. patrick
    March 21, 2008, 2:15 am

    Phil is a good and noble man in his attempts to find a just peace in Israel/Palestine. However, a growing number of Americans have tired of this issue and wish to be done with it. By this I mean cutting aid to Israel and wishing all parties the best of luck with their future oppression, massacres, brutality, wars, ethnic cleansing and racism.

    One of the reasons we are tired of the Israel/Palestine situation is beacuse of the attacks of 09/11/01, which were perpatrated against us (partly) due to our almost blind support of Israel.

    You can kill each other all you want, just not on our dime. Good Luck with your killings.

  9. qt
    March 21, 2008, 2:41 am

    Shai wrote: "Those of us who live in Israel put our lives on the line when we pursue solutions like you propose."

    Nonsense. You've kept your old passport and you know it. Virtually everyone in Israel has.

  10. hlmeankin
    March 21, 2008, 3:34 am

    Its time for Jews to do a reality check on just what consitutes the "democratic state of Israel".

    Haaretz of 19/03/2008 reports the following about how Israeli/Arabs fair in "democratic" Israel. (concerning a human rights study to be released wed)
    "The report covers Arabs killed by the security forces and by Jewish citizens, anti-Arab incitement by leading Jewish public figures, workforce discrimination by private Jewish organizations, the barring of Arabs from public places, and the destruction of Arab property. The report particularly highlights what it calls the government's helplessness in the face of the problem.

    The report lists Arab citizens killed by police, soldiers, security guards and Jewish civilians over the past seven years. It notes that only one Jewish citizen, of Ethiopian origin, was killed under similar circumstances during this period. Indictments were issued in only seven cases, the report states. In two cases, the assailants were found not guilty, and the State Prosecutor appealed the verdict in one of these cases. In another case, the indictment was dropped because the shooter was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial.

    Most cases of Arab citizens injured by Jews were not fully investigated, and the attackers were not indicted in most cases, according to the report.

    However, the report says Arab violence against Jews led to immediate police action, including collective punishment in villages like Jisr al-Zarqa this month.

    The report also highlights employment discrimination against Arabs, and accuses the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry of foot-dragging in enforcing the workplace anti-discrimination law.

    Citing lawsuits and verdicts of recent years, the report states Arabs are subject to racial profiling at Israel's airports. "Problematic passenger" forms, filled out by security guards and bearing the names of Arab passengers, were found in Israel Airports Authority files. Similar cases occured at train stations and on trains, the report stated.

    The report also addresses discriminatory legislation, mentioning no less than 10 bills contravening the Basic Law on the Knesset that were passed by the Knesset presidium over the period the report covers."

    Seems that living in Israel isn't very democratic unless you are Jewish.
    Just as whites living in jim crow America found things "democratic".

  11. Shai
    March 21, 2008, 4:43 am

    Patrick, first of we don't want to kill anyone. We want to live in peace, but there aren't any terms we can live with that the Palestinians (the PA, rather) can accept.

    Contrary to all the claims made here, the issue of divvying up the land is resolved. The problem is Jerusalem (which is resolvable, I think, with vertical sovereignty on the Temple Mount, which the Arabs have thusfar refused) and by limiting refugee returns to the new Palestinian state (which also the PA refuses to accept).

    Regarding ending military aid, fine by me. American military aid is not really so important that we can't let it go, and the vast majority of it is spent on American products that keep Americans employed. We could use the employment here just as well as you can there. It seems to me that the matter is mutually beneficial, but if not – so be it.

    Let's talk about what this is really about. Arab pressure to force Israel to accept their terms and their narrative of the conflict, and this entails removing diplomatic support and friendship from Israel. That pressure is expressed as terrorism, rising oil prices (2nd round, first being after the Yom Kippur War). In other words, proud America becoming "France" is the Arab "terms", a country whose interests rather than values define everything they do.

    Well, that's a step down, Patrick – but it's your nickle, you spend it how ever you damn well please, if that's what your values are worth. If Americans choose their friends based on being blackmailed by terrorists, rather than them being allies, then maybe we Israelis ought to be reassessing our friendship's value, too, and developing deeper ties with China, India and Russia, all of whom have similar conflicts in their borders that we do, yet nobody has a blog bitching about how they're so evil, do they.

    At the end of the day, my own assessment is that Americans aren't that feckless, with the exception of a few very loud ones, such that they'd sell out just to appease a bunch of loudmouthed Islamist fanatics and extremist racist governments like Saudi Arabia.

    qt, whether Israelis have foreign passports or not is more a testament to their distrust in the political leadership to defend them, than it is a hedging of bets on their belief in the concept that is "Israel" and Zionism. That same distrust, by the way, undermines the very cause you support, a state for Palestinians. We believe the Palestinians who say they want us to die more than we believe the government who says they want to make peace with us, and who won't defend us when they shoot rockets on our cities.

    In any case, what's relevant is that I am here, I serve in the military to defend Israel against those you hope will kill us, and so do my children. All of my investments are here including my profession and home, I am invested in my town and my friends, not less than any Palestinian, and in many ways more so. I'm not going anywhere just so that your selective anxieties about human injustice can be assuaged. Do your own heavy lifting and try to understand the other side of the argument, and work to a resolution rather than intellectual stunts if you really want a solution and to assuage your anxieties.

    And all this in mind, further I'm not so spineless as to stab my neighbor in the back to save my own life, or just to satisfy your view of how this conflict between us and the Arabs should end, as apparently you would advocate. The "save your own skin" approach apparently is what Weiss and you advocate to the American government as well. It's what Barak advocated in abandoning the South Lebanese Army to their fate – a great perfidy, in my mind, and it only sealed our own fate to for the worse. For me, loyalty to friends means more. You want more loyalty to America from Israelis? I'm willing to hear that argument. But I'm not going to accept any negotiation over the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish Democratic state. If you want to argue that, find someone else.

    I am not going to tell you Americans what to do. If America thinks Israel is more a burden than a benefit, by all means let us go and see if your alliance with the Arabs ends the attacks. It didnt' for Spain, France, or England. In fact, Yemen and Saudi Arabia and Syria and Lebanon are all hit by terrorists, and those governments even harbor them!. But heck – maybe you'll be lucky. Play nice with them if it suits you. My own opinion is that you'll not be as well off as you assert, that as a nation you'll lose self-respect as you Francify.

    Also, let's be frank. Your opinions are less about love of America than it is about hate for Israel, for whatever reason. Let's put that one on the table, "qt".

  12. Shai
    March 21, 2008, 4:46 am

    Hlmeankin, you don't live in Israel. If you have to depend on a newspaper to tell you what goes on, you really aren't in a position to judge. The fact is that there's a lot of incitement against Arabs and against Jews by each other. The situation is not good, and a lot of that is due to the conflict. Resolve the conflict and you'll resolve the problem.

  13. Rowan Berkeley
    March 21, 2008, 5:27 am

    Shai says "Give the Israel Lobby this much – whatever they achieve, they don't achieve it through bus bombings and the like."

    Well, they achieve whatever they achieve by getting american hellfire missiles fired at people they dislike.

  14. neocognitism
    March 21, 2008, 5:33 am

    Brilliant, Philip! This conversation is playing out all over the web, all over the country. This is a wonderful piece that distills the underlying dynamic out to show to everyone.

  15. Richard Witty
    March 21, 2008, 6:24 am

    I like that the world made the distinction between the Ben Ami's presentations and the Israel Project's. Obviously there is a great difference.

    Here, as elsewhere, there is also a difference between those that courageously, candidly, and calmly endorse the Ben Ami recommendation, and those that adopt the Walt/Mearsheimer "realism" and Finkelstein thesis and method.

    In Israel, there is a baby in the bathwater. Zionism itself is the assertion of liberty and free association, of a people that were prior subordinated and oppressed.

    Liberation is a good. It is better that that happened than that it didn't happen.

    It is now better that the Palestinian people have the same opportunity.

    Around the assertions of Walt/Mearsheimer, the focus has been distracted from substantive issue of the rights and welfare of the Palestinian people and Palestinians, to a personal domestic resentment of "the Israel Lobby", in the US.

    That thesis puts the far left and the far right in the same bed.

    The focus on the CONTENT of Palestinian rights and welfare puts the radical left and the liberal left in the same bed.

    I like the implementation of the proposal of the liberals FAR more than the proposal and tone of the right/left.

  16. Richard Witty
    March 21, 2008, 6:51 am

    Also Phil,
    While your retort to Scheff is interesting drama, witty, and accurate, it was INSUFFICIENT to make any change.

    To make change, to confront his arguments, ridicule would not succeed. It takes content that is verifiable and conflicts with the assumptions.

    I get that you were trying to address the smug feeling that was presented. But, whether the feeling was smug or not, the content remained.

    Is it true that the medical profession provides a universalistic commitment? If not, then that should be statistically and personally verifiable.

    And, if it is, then it is a functional rallying point as a basis of commitment to new institutions based on more appealing values.

    Real change.

    Here your audience is impressed by talk and dissing those that they perceive of as in power (or worse), rather than changes in Palestinians' experience and condition.

    Anti only. Shadow.

  17. Arie Brand
    March 21, 2008, 8:14 am

    "Contrary to all the claims made here, the issue of divvying up the land is resolved."

    Hmm, tell me more about that Shai.

    And when you talk so lightly about dispensing with American aid you are indeed referring to that three billion dollars yearly, are you? – and also about the USs continuous support in the UN without which there would by now have been binding Security Council resolutions against your pocket state with its six million citizens.

    And don't you believe that it would be all that easy to find new 'friends'. You have very little to offer, except guilt by association.

  18. liberal white boy
    March 21, 2008, 9:10 am

    When America starts arming Palestinians there will be peace in the Middle East. …Slobbering Vegetable and Israeli War Criminal Ariel Sharon Succumbs to Diaper Rash
    link to homo-sapien-underground.blogspot.com

  19. Shai
    March 21, 2008, 9:33 am

    Rowan, Israel doesn't fire missiles at "people they dislike". They fire them at people who threaten them with death, which is pretty good cause for something called "self defense". It's something that your political sophistry allows for nobody but yourself, I bet.

    Arie, read what I wrote – I was clear that I was referring to doing away with the weaponry assistance. Regarding the rest, I was clear that I consider the US's stance defending Israel in the UN to be a principled stance, one that the US should be proud of, and your stance to be unprincipled and cowardly.

    I don't think that there's anything wrong with you trying to convince your Congressman that you're right and that America should be cowardly like France, and I think that Weiss' attempt here in this blog to undermine supporters of Israel's assertion that the current political stance of defending Israel in the UN is the more principled of the two views, yours and theirs. Weiss's constant referring to the Israel Lobby as though this is some kind of pejorative, and if not he's making it one, is witch hunting, and it should stop. It is a constitutional right to lobby Congress, and the Americans, Jewish and not, who lobby Congress on interests common to America and Israel are not putting Israel's interests first. That's why the interests are seen as "common". You want to believe that a stronger interest exists in filling the tank of your SUV for $1.50 per gallon, go ahead. But I don't see that as a principled stand.

    My own view is that there is nothing to fear from an open debate – but let's have one and stop speaking as though there is some kind of Jewish cabal here. There are Jews, and Weiss is proof, on both sides of every issue. Capitalists and communists, progressives and neo-cons, Mets and Yankees – it doesn't matter, Jews are there because there is no reason they shouldn't be. But when Palestinian supporters speak in bumpersticker slogans, are more interested in stunts than in state building, and try to peddle a view that Jews intrinsically in some way are to be suspected and uniquely at fault for x, y or z, well, that's not really an open debate, is it? It's obviously false.

    Frankly, of the Palestinians and their supporters, I suspect the thing they fear most is that they might get a state and actually have to take responsibility for themselves and what they do. It'd be a sad day for people like you, too, who build their self image as liberal fair people on the backs of others. Who'll be their whipping boy then?

  20. Shai
    March 21, 2008, 9:38 am

    Liberal White Boy, the Americans have been arming the Palestinians. The entire Palestinian police force (all of them, several local armies, in fact) were all trained by American forces. Their weapons were taken from American stock stored in Israeli warehouses. In addition to that, a lot of Russian weaponry is smuggled in, including the Kalishnikov that killed 8 rabbinical students in Jerusalem two weeks ago. The Palestinians problem isnt' a shortage of weaponry, it's a shortage of desire to build their own state rather than destroy the state of the Jews.

  21. the Sword of Gideon
    March 21, 2008, 11:19 am

    Has somebody who has contributed to the Israel project I have one question. Who the hell let Phil Weiss have any scrambled eggs? And having been to the Waldorf did they let him have orange juice too. For the love of God letting him in was one thing but feeding him is absurd.

  22. Okeydokey
    March 21, 2008, 11:21 am

    Posted by: Shai
    >>>>>>>

    O.K….so you hate Arabs and gentiles, especially Americans, we are all beast, especially the Palestines, and everyone is out to kill the Jews, and Palestine is yours by bible deed and Israel is only defending itself, not stealing land for sixty years and the 465 children they killed the last two years were all accidents and so on. And Israel is capable of going it alone in commerce with the intel chip that was invented in Israel, not Calif, as everyone thought ..LOL…and creating their own business without the US having to require Egypt to use 12% Israeli material if they want to import their cotton into the US ..and gee look at all the jobs Israel provides to Americans by taking 3 billion from American taxpayers and sending it back to us by buying bulldozers…LOL…that's a funny one.
    …yep, so independent, those Israelis…the world's longest running welfare babies and still at it.

    You do realize you are nuts don't you? And since you are willing to give up US aid kindly mail me a check for $500…that's the average amount every Israeli receives out of the billions we taxpayer give you.

  23. Shai
    March 21, 2008, 11:42 am

    Okeydokey, do you always let people say something, and then just hear what you want? I've been noticing, it's par for the course for Israel haters – no wonder then the minds of people like you are so constipated. It all goes in, nothing comes out but stink.

    Post your real name and address, okeydokey – maybe you'll get lucky and get a check, or maybe you'll get unlucky and get a pink slip 'cause your business had a few less orders to fill on Uncle Sams corporate welfare program. Either way, I'm willing to do without the American aid, as long as it is then understood that Israel is a free agent to pursue any other alliances they wish, just like all others of America's allies.

  24. Protest I
    March 21, 2008, 12:01 pm

    Phil is not evenhanded. Only a little nearsighted.

    I am concerned about the good Palestinians.

    The civility is their best remedy.

    How about for start, to deglorify the genocidal Arafat, Grand Mufti…?

  25. Joachim Martillo
    March 21, 2008, 12:25 pm

    "A ceo is in one bed in the hospital, an Arab from Nazareth in next to him, getting the same care. Remember that Israel was founded by socialists."

    Labor Zionism is a form of fascism. Katznelson even plagiarized the Belgian fascist de Man. Borokhov tried to integrate Marxist ideas of class conflict by viewing classs as consisting of nations or ethnic groups, but this approach can hardly be called socialist.

    The assumption that the CEO was Jewish is interesting in and of itself. Discrimination built into the Israeli economic system guarantees such almost always to be the case. It is also probable that the Jewish CEO is living on land stolen from Arabs — possibly the family of the Arab from Nazareth.

    Suppose the Arab from Nazareth tries to move into the Jewish town where the Jewish CEO lives, the Jewish state and Jewish society will create innumerable obstace. Should the Arab from Nazareth manage to overcome the obstacles. Thugs will beat him or harass him until he leaves.

    The Israel Policy Forum's focus on human rights distorts the real issue as Naomi Klein points out in a different context in The Shock Doctrine (p. 124 – 125).

    "The [Ford Foundation's] decision to get involved in human rights but 'not get involved in politics' created a context in which it was all but impossible to ask the question underlying the violence it was documenting: Why was it happening, in whose interests?'

    "The debate about whether 'human rights' can ever truly be separated from politics and economics is not unique to Latin America; these are questions that surface whenever states use torture as a weapon of policy."

    The undiscussed context of Arab human rights in Israel and the occupied territories is of course Jewish racial politics, Jewish racial economics, Jewish genocide, Jewish racism and Jewish extremism in general.

    In this case Jewish means ethnic Ashkenazi and encompasses Soviet Jewish, Zionist Jewish and Friedmanite Jewish politics and economics.

    It is interesting that Klein is able to discuss the Jewish aspect of Friedman's economics and politics but is unable to address the bigger picture that Jewish radical leftist or Jewish Zionist economics and politics.

  26. Joachim Martillo
    March 21, 2008, 1:33 pm

    Forgot word.

    It is interesting that Klein is able to discuss the Jewish aspect of Friedman's economics and politics but is unable to address the bigger picture that includes Jewish radical leftist or Jewish Zionist economics and politics.

  27. Rowan Berkeley
    March 21, 2008, 1:57 pm

    I don't agree with Joachim above. In my view there is an argument for inflecting the marxian doctrine of national liberation in this way, although the extent of geographical dislocation involved is startling even by stalinist standards.

  28. Ed
    March 21, 2008, 2:18 pm

    Shai,

    as an Israeli citizen who allegedly doesn't care about receiving any more American welfare, you sure are spending a lot of time trying to convince Americans of your country's righteousness. Are you by any chance on the Israeli government payroll assigned to propaganda? It's agents are everywhere on the internet these days — see the following YouTube video:

    Israeli Army of Cyber-Soldiers Target Our Right to Know
    link to youtube.com

  29. the Sword of Gideon
    March 21, 2008, 2:55 pm

    You know I don't go to any islamic Jihadi events and eat their food. What's the story with that one.

  30. syvaen
    March 21, 2008, 3:26 pm

    I have to agree with Shai on one point. He would be agreeable to give up US aid (that would include eliminating tax deductions on private donations to Israel) if we permitted her to build alliances elsewhere in the world. Now that is a great deal.

  31. Joachim Martillo
    March 21, 2008, 3:35 pm

    While Lenin and Stalin articulated a theory of nationalism within the framework of Marxist-Leninism, it is very different from the ideas of Borokhov.

  32. Just asking....
    March 21, 2008, 3:52 pm

    Posted by: Shai

    "Frankly, of the Palestinians and their supporters, I suspect the thing they fear most is that they might get a state and actually have to take responsibility for themselves and what they do. It'd be a sad day for people like you, too, who build their self image as liberal fair people on the backs of others. Who'll be their whipping boy then?"

    Fine. Then how about you just give them the rope and let them hang themselves? If they do THEN you'll have been proved right. As it stands you're doing all you can to keep a bad situation bad and CLAIMING that it's their fault not yours. Maybe it is, but how would we know?

    I suspect you won't do this because the real fear here is your fear: a fear that they might succeed in creating a unified and viable national life, and then become a real threat. I recognize that that's really something to be afraid about. All I'd suggest is that making peace with an enemy is always a risky game, but perhaps not as risky as constantly cutting your enemy off at the knees and then complaining that he can't stand up, and using that as reason to ask for support (principled stands, etc…). That's what some people mean by a vicious cycle. I can see what might look like prudence here, but I don't see what's so damn noble or principled about it. Might as well just kill the guy and have done with it. Either that or step the fuck back and let him try and stand. Maybe help him. If he wants your help by now….

  33. liberal white boy
    March 21, 2008, 4:27 pm

    I stand corrected Shai. One of the Zionist criminals in the Bush Administration did run some guns to Gaza for the purpose of over throwing their elected Government. That Abrams character must be a real bungling idiot. Screwed up the overthrow of Chavez. Screwed up the overthrow of Hamas. Had an important role in concealing the murder of many innocent people in Central America and then gets convicted for lying to congress about it. But anyway shai I wasn't talking about hand guns I was talking about precision guided weapons. If the Palestinians use them against the IDF war criminals that have been terrorizing them for the last 60 years then we will know they are not terrorists. Then without an army maybe Israel will make peace. If the Palestinians fire them at innocent Israeli's (If there is such a thing)then we will know they are terrorists and the hell with them.

  34. bondo
    March 21, 2008, 4:40 pm

    a ceo and an arab in a hosp near to each other.

    the ceo continues with hosp care.

    the jewish brown shirts drag the arab/palestinian from his bed, beat him a bit, drag him outside, tie him to their jeeps hood and bumper and take him to jail. on arrival he is dead. disappointed that their game is no longer playing the jews shoot the nearest palestinian children.

  35. bondo
    March 21, 2008, 4:54 pm

    was my comment deleted?

  36. samuel burke
    March 21, 2008, 8:08 pm

    Phil, this is the best place to learn about the "jewish question" which continnues to try to enthrall the world.
    jewish-americans zealous support of zionism-judaism, is at the heart of the palestinian question.

    Are the palestinians a people? or have the jewish zionist discounted them as a people or a race.
    Is there a narrative of the palestinian crime that is fair and balanced?

    we have a narrative of world wars I and II and all its accompanying crimes.

    will the world ever recognize the palestinians side of the story if they ever heard the truth?

    has it been distorted enough?
    the truth that is.

  37. Arie Brand
    March 21, 2008, 8:30 pm

    As far as I can see Shai has two main strategies in his apologetics.

    Whenever the facts seem compromising to his position he starts to indulge in post-modernist babble about different narratives. In other words: my story is as valid as your story and to hell with the facts.

    Whenever moral issues are raised that deal with the injustice the Palestinians have suffered from, he shies away from any moral discourse and reminds us sternly that he is merely dealing with facts: "The only thing I am asserting here that I'm not going to argue the rightness of my case …"

    Like hell. Whenever a potential American stance is discussed that might be detrimental to Israel his discourse is shot through with a moral vocabulary and moral judgments.

    Let me give a few examples:

    "feckless' (for an America that would desert its 'proud ally');

    "spineless" (for those who stab their neighbours in the back to save their own skin);

    "you'l lose self respect" ("as you Francify");

    "cowardly like France" (that is, disagreeing with Israel);

    "a principled stand" (that is any stand in favor of Israel).

    Incidentally Shai, as far as your references to France are concerned, whoever is briefing you on the line to take in defending Israel against the big bad outside world is a bit out of date. France is no longer the whipping boy of post 9/11 and pre-Iraq days.

    Here is an update:

    "In the heady atmosphere of war lust and post-9/11 New Patriotism that subsumed Washington in March 2003, GOP House Representative of North Carolina Walter B. Jones made a stand. Jones told the press that he hoped his effort to rename French fries, "Freedom Fries," in the House cafeterias would prompt visitors "to think of the thousands of military members overseas who are there for you, for me, and for the freedom of millions of people they never know personally."

    It was the high-water mark in the Campaign to Hate France, a key splinter project of the Let's Get Iraq effort.

    Two years later, Rep. Jones told North Carolina's big daily, the Raleigh News & Observer, that he wished the Freedom Fries incident "had never happened" and that Congress "must be told the truth" about the Iraq war."

  38. samuel burke
    March 21, 2008, 8:46 pm

    this remark begs the questions that follow it.

    " If Americans choose their friends based on being blackmailed by terrorists, rather than them being allies, then maybe we Israelis ought to be reassessing our friendship's value, too, and developing deeper ties with China, India and Russia, all of whom have similar conflicts in their borders that we do, yet nobody has a blog bitching about how they're so evil, do they."

    the question is are the palestinians a race?
    was there a crime commited against them?
    how many lives must be sacrificed on the altar of war for racist supremacist reasons?
    is there a number?
    racist separatist religionist supremacist is a good deffinition for zionism.

  39. shy di
    March 21, 2008, 11:07 pm

    Shai

    To build alliances with India and China you need to guilt them. How you gonna do that? Supplying them with East European babes, porn and Ecstasy just aint gonna cut it.

  40. neocognitism
    March 22, 2008, 3:47 am

    Shai,

    Actually, I want to send you more money, so would you give your real full name and address and phone number?

  41. Shai
    March 22, 2008, 1:57 pm

    Shy di, you're an idiot.

    Samuel Burke, Judaism is neither racist, nor supremacist, and neither is Zionism. Yes, there are Jews who think Judaism gives them an ontological edge (this stream of thought is derived from Yehuda Halevi, I think from the 10th century), but you can't at the same time ignore the rationalist school of the Rambam of about a generation later, who claimed that only the ethical mission of the Torah is supreme, and that just as humans are born such only in potentia (the full potential is gained only by being an ethical person, which actualizes the potential), Jews also are only such in potentia, never attaining that status without ever having gained a full understanding of their obligations in the world. So, don't just spew bullshit – there are a lot of Jews who think the supremacist approach is disgusting, and I'm one of them. At the same time, I'm proud to say that Israel is home to Jews from over 80 countries. We have prejudice here like in all countries, but I'd for one have no problem if my sons or daughters married a countryman/woman from another race than my own. My own opinion about Palestinians is there is no doubt they are not a race unto themselves. They are Arabs. But so what? I don't think that anybody should be killed or damaged just because of their race, and Zionism nor Judaism demands such a fate for people who don't share their views.

    Arie, as far as the French, jury's out. After 40 years of perfidy, I'm not so fast to think things have changed.

    As far as your whole point about the "moral discourse", I consider my offer a concession on my part, as I recognize that Israel haters are too brainwashed to see how wrong they are. As far as I can tell, morals aren't really of much concern for Israel haters. But you go ahead and hate, Arie – no skin off my nose. I'm just trying to figure out how to end the conflict, see? I mean, it's just about peace for me, not about being "right". But since there's not been enough blood for you, you go ahead and root for the butchers if it makes you feel better. My views are not "apologetics", and there is no "strategy" to them. Believe it or not, people really do exist that don't see things the way you do, for reasons they think are legitimate.

    Liberal White Boy, you really think that if Hamas had precision weapons they'd behave more responsibly than they do with weapons they know are NOT precision weapons? They've been shooting rockets like this for years at Israeli civilian targets! On purpose! Geez, the mind boggles. I now know why supporters of Communism couldn't see the faults of Lenin and Stalin – "liberals" know how to check their brain at the door for a cause better than nobody else.

    Just asking, as far as I'm concerned as long as "unified an viable" for Palestinians means they can gather a force and destroy my state, I'm not cooperating. Don't like it? Tough. I suggest if you're interested in the best welfare of the Palestinians rather than destroying the Jewish state, you suggest that Palestinians gather around the task of negotiating a compromise and state building rather than tossing missiles over the border.

    Ed, amazing isn't it that I take MY OWN TIME to argue with the truth-challenged? Can you fucking believe it? Guess not, huh?

  42. Rowan Berkeley
    March 22, 2008, 2:39 pm

    Joachim – Lenin, Stalin, and Borochov, and of course Trotsky, all reflect a basic property of classical Marxism that is not too popular nowadays, namely, the idea that 'more advanced nations' have a positive duty to carve themselves some space in the sun. In the 1960s, a lot of us got so fed up with this quality in marxism that we became either anarchists or maoists. It is in this context though that you need to place labour zionism, and by doing so you will be able to appreciate one of the reasons that it is still so popular with the fabian wing of the british ruling class.

  43. Rowan Berkeley
    March 22, 2008, 2:48 pm

    talking of the sixties, you know where that got us : nowhere, unless you count the che guevara t-shirts.

  44. shy di
    March 22, 2008, 5:12 pm

    Little kiddies have died because of you, asshole.

    I can't even smash a spider.

    You sit there and justify this carnage in your high, know it all tone. Pathetic git.

  45. Richard Witty
    March 22, 2008, 6:04 pm

    Shai,
    These aren't liberals.

    Liberals hold the view that mutual welfare is the goal to seek. Even if there are concerns of the Palestinians that you aren't intimately familiar, my sense is that you aren't out to screw them.

    (It is worth understanding history through the other's narrative, as there is usually some truth in it.)

    A relationship to Zionism that is "anti", is usually more describable as radical and in my estimation isn't even describable as "left", more left/right (mingling the views of the right-wing ANTI-Zionist with the left-wing ANTI-Zionist).

  46. Shai
    March 22, 2008, 6:47 pm

    Richard, you know what? In a world where the right steals the terminology of the left, and the left the terminology of the right, even the words "conservative" and "liberal" no longer mean what they originally meant. What word can I use to describe "liberal" when liberals describe themselves thus?

    If "liberal" means what you say, then I'm wrong. It's just that I never see anybody "liberal" today defending Israel's right to co-exist peacefully with a Palestinian state (here on this blog, people who identify themselves thus basically hate Israel's guts and want it to disappear), or Iraqis' rights not to be under a dictatorship, etc.

    Yes, I'm not out to screw the Palestinians, and surprisingly perhaps I do know the Palestinians' narrative enough to know where I disagree with it and where I think it's got a reasonable claim (I think the argument breaks down into a question of civil vs. national rights), it's just that I don't think that it's productive to argue about narratives. I say clearly that I don't care if you or him or they think my narrative is false, if they teach their kids there was never a Temple Mount, that all Jews come from Khazars, or whatever. I just don't care (I used to). It's completely irrelevant to coming to a decision that leads to peace, and more likely will prevent it. What's more relevant to me is the indoctrination of saying that Jews cause AIDS, that they are involved in massacres that didn't occur, that they are all homosexual rapists, that they caused 9/11, that they have cabals that caused the banking crisis and control the press and on and on, all similar to claims I might hear from some of the commentators on this blog. Why would anybody want to have peace with such a horrible people, if it were true?

    Yes, your views about anti-Zionism being radical and not right or left ring true, objectively speaking. I wonder if that's how rightist and leftist Israel haters see it.

  47. Shai
    March 22, 2008, 6:49 pm

    Shy di, from where you sit in your Ivory Tower, what if you had to smash a spider to save the little kiddies?

    Stupid git.

  48. just asking
    March 23, 2008, 10:56 am

    Posted by Shai:

    "Just asking, as far as I'm concerned as long as "unified and viable" for Palestinians means they can gather a force and destroy my state, I'm not cooperating. Don't like it? Tough. I suggest if you're interested in the best welfare of the Palestinians rather than destroying the Jewish state, you suggest that Palestinians gather around the task of negotiating a compromise and state building rather than tossing missiles over the border."

    I have no interest in destroying the Jewish State, and I think that what you say in the second part of your response is exactly what the Palestinians ought to be doing. What I don't understand is why you don't see the contradiction in your own statements about the situation. If you really cared about ultimately trying to live in peace with the Palestinians, then I would imagine you would try and support any move they might make toward building the state you mention. That would require the development of a democratic process that might bring the various factions of their society together into a political process (the conversion of armed struggle both within and without into a political one). There's no question that it is taking the Palestinians a long time to manage this process–and there are a lot of reasons for this as you well know (some are internal some external)–but it would seem to me that acceptance of that process and its own natural course is central to any policy toward the Palestinians that really cares about their success. The election of Hamas was an inevitable stage in the natural course of that process, and the right thing to have done in response to it was to accept it and then say: "Ok, we''l treat you like a state with a political process, and we will expect you to act like one." It was on Hamas at that point to prove they could rule, and up to the Palestinians to decide whether or not they could do it (and do a better job than the corrupt idiots they were in part replacing and with whom they would have had to in part cooperate and shre rule). That, of course, was not the response of Israel, and I don't see why it's not reasonable to assume that this indicates that Israel–or at least a dominant portion of its body politic–is really much more in line with the first thing you say your response. Israel's primary, ongoing policy objective is to disable the development of a Palestinian National movement toward autonomous self-rule and statehood. The political factions that now dominate its policy-making follow this policy because they believe that it's better to face a weak and disunited enemy that can be controlled (they don't even care all that much anymore about exploiting it for labor–although some still care about getting more of its land) than it is to risk having to live with an autonomous enemy who might become a real military threat. This fear is what keeps Israel from pursuing peace with that enemy–the turning of that enemy into a friend.

    As I said before, it may be true that this is the most prudent path to take. I just bristle at the idea that there's anything noble or principled about either taking it or supporting it. My own principled approach would be to work toward peace between two autonomous parties. You prepare for a fight if you need to, but you work to avoid it if you can, and that means being prepared to give your enemy a chance to act like a neighbor. If he'll do that once you actually give him a chance to, then you treat him like a neighbor. If he still proves an enemy, then you fight him to a standstill or to the death, if necessary.

    Are you really prepared to say that the Palestinians have been given the full chance to comport themselves as they ought to? With no meddling and a clear path toward national sovereignty (which includes the right to make their OWN decisions about how to structure that state)?

Leave a Reply