When Jews agonize about their identity and Israel, is that an elitist tea party?

US Politics
on 62 Comments

Last night we had a blowout discussion of Gaza at the Brecht Forum in New York. At the end of the night Mahmoud Bitar, a Palestinian-American, rose and in a passionate tone said "what I'm experiencing now is excitement, I actually feel optimism today," and that the meeting was historic. I don’t know that I would go that far but it was certainly a packed house, over 250 people, and an unusual combination of leftwingers, progressives, Jews and Arabs. Gaza has lit a fuse and the politics are exploding before us.

But I want to do this post about the Jewish identity piece of the evening.

Before the meeting I met my Gaza roommate Sammer Aboelela, an Egyptian-American, in a park on 8th Avenue and we talked about what we were going to say. We continued an argument we’d had in Gaza, how important the Jewish identity part of the issue is. Sammer said that to him it was a sideshow. The heart of the issue is that Americans are signing off on grotesque aggression against the Palestinians and this is all that matters politically. People have to get engaged as Americans. I said I disagreed because Sammer is underestimating Jewish power in this society, from contributions to congress to the media. Jews care about the issue and they have to be taken on. Fine, he said you can do that, but it’s not the heart of the problem. And Jews are just a tiny part of the population involved. They’re paying for this in Louisiana and no one there worries about Jewish identity.

I wasn't planning to say anything about Jewish identity in my little talk, and I didn't. I talked about five Palestinians I had met and how they showed me that Palestinians are “civilized to the core,” as John Ging put it. Here’s my lineup. If I accomplished one thing, it was that the last portrait I used was of Jalal Sagr, an 82-year-old father who is afraid he is going to die without seeing his imprisoned son, and so the picture of this incredibly dignified but half-broken spirit stayed on the wall throughout the conversation, for the next hour and a half.

Medea Benjamin spoke after me and she got into the Jewish identity piece. Benjamin is a great speaker. She always knows who she’s talking to, and she knows how to rally them. She said that she had avoided the Israel Palestine issue for years for two reasons. One was that she was told that it was a hornet’s nest organizationally and she would get eaten alive. The second reason was “I come from a Jewish family where it was the one issue we didn’t talk about.” She also said that it was remarkable to her “how welcoming you are to people who are coming way too late to the issue.” After that she asked people to raise their hands who had been on it for two decades. There were a bunch of people, including Michael Smith, Helen Schiff, Rick Congress, and Abdeen Jabara. We applauded those people.

I’m digressing a little but it was an important moment because there has been a lot of murmuring about Where Was Code Pink before Gaza. I think I did some myself (I forget!), but Benjamin swept the ground out from under us with incredible grace.

And because “I am a newcomer,” she said, she recognizes that Now is really the time to take this issue to another level, with a major action in Gaza over the New Year's, this is the “moment to up the ante.” To show that this is a force that is stronger than AIPAC.

Now maybe the identity issue would have laid there but it didn’t. In the Q-and-A, Jabara, a long time activist on the issue, asked me to address the Jewish piece. He said that he recognized that the issue would not get anywhere without Jews changing, and he asked me, What do I think of that? I talked about my running argument with Sammer about whether it was a sideshow. To me it wasn’t a sideshow. I thought it was a vital part because of Jewish influence in politics and liberal movements. But non-Zionist Jews couldn’t do this on their own. If we did, we would be defeated. We needed to make alliances in other communities, that was where we could find power, and then I gave the mike to Sammer. He said what he’d said ahead of time, it was an American issue and Americans had to be mobilized on it regardless of ethnic politics.

Well, Jabara’s question reopened the Jewish identity door, and a number of other people talkd about it. Naomi Allen of Brooklyn for Peace said they specifically try to work with the Jewish community to show the liberal Jews that they are not being represented by AIPAC. A friend handed me a note saying, "The psychosis of Israel is its insistence on its right to an internal debate." Brilliant point.

Then a stooped older guy with a walker or a cane, I forget, cranked up to the mike, and next to me Norman Finkelstein said, “That’s Morton Sobell. He’s over 90.”

Sobell went after the issue hammer and tongs with words I won’t soon forget.

“Throughout history we’ve all been fighting against anti-Semitism. Now all of a sudden we reverse the call, asking people to fight against Semitism. This is a tremendous problem. How do you cope with it? That the Jews, who have been persecuted all their history, have become the persecutor.” This had to be addressed, he said.

The person I thought was most affected by the Jewish identity piece, though, was Norman Finkelstein. He took the microphone and after trying to excuse the fact that he was talking about a Jewish-centric issue, saying dismissively, This is just a New York conversation, he did the New York conversation. He said that young Jews were changing around the issue because Jews are liberal and educated, and no one can avoid getting educated on Israel's "dirty laundry" on college campuses, to the point where being for Israel on a campus, “That’s really dangerous, that’s really taking your life in your hands.”

Talking about Jews, Finkelstein spoke with more anguish and passion than he had all night. How can you possibly be liberal and read the Human Rights Watch report saying that Israel had dropped white phosphorus on a hospital? He itemized Israeli abuses and the Jewish view of them.

“Anti-Zionism is not my cup of tea, I have a bigger vision. It’s become a satanic state….”

He spoke in an incantatory manner about visiting Lebanon and Gaza.

“Devastation devastation devastation devastation.” And later, “Rubble rubble rubble rubble rubble rubble rubble– wherever you turn.” Finkelstein as Dylan.

“How can anyone who’s liberal and Jewish support that.”

Finkelstein closed by saying that we could win the issue because we have the truth and the facts and post-Gaza, enlightened opinion (and by implication Medea Benjamin). “With those weapons and just a tiny little bit of backbone, we can win.”

The place exploded in applause and I leaned over to Sammer in I-told-you-so fashion and said, “Well the Jewish identity piece certainly got Finkelstein going.”

Afterward a couple of people came up to me and said that you could never do anything on the issue without winning the Jews, then I walked up Eighth Avenue with Sammer and Max Blumenthal arguing the point a little longer.

I tried a number of tacks with Sammer. Sammer is a strong, controlled person (he grew up Arab and Muslim in America) and I harangued him a little. He said he believed his view that the Jewish piece was a sideshow 90 percent and the 10 percent in him that doubts that is why he was listening.

I said his doorway into the issue was an identity piece: he’s an Arab-American and when he insists that it’s a moral American issue, I don’t see where you go politically on that. You have to go with the people who care. I said there was a brief moment when the Cuba lobby got flipped by Steve Largent the Republican Oklahoma congressman who said that Elian Gonzalez had a right to go back to his father, and Clinton said so too, but that was just a moment. Sammer said that the South African argument wasn’t won because Americans of South African heritage got involved. No, I said; but blacks got involved, they had an identity reason to get involved; and the money, 3 billion and even white phosphorus weren’t going to be enough for the people in Louisiana.

I said that Sammer was underestimating the Jewish power effect in politics and he said that just wasn’t where he was going to plant his charge.

He went into the subway at 40th Street and at the steps there I told him that Adam Horowitz agrees with him: that when Jews stand around at these events and wring their hands about their parents or their history or the Torah, in the end he says, Well go ahead and have that conversation, but the bigger issue is the human rights of Palestinians.

I walked on to my train station past Golda Meir Square. I recalled that Michael Smith had risen at the event to say he had gotten involved in the issue decades ago as a 26-year-old lawyer who though he came from Golda Meir’s town, Milwaukee, had visited Israel and knew that religious nationalism was the wrong path. I thought of Norman Finkelstein coming incredibly alive at the event, and I realized that Jewish stuff has always engaged him. His work began in some ways as a long argument with Michael Walzer and love affair with Noam Chomsky, and later in life it became a long argument with Alan Dershowitz. Morton Sobell was a Communist because of his Jewish identity.

It struck me that Sammer was suggesting a self-indulgent aspect to the Jewish identity piece, and he was right but I didn't know if I was going to change. I feel engaged by Jewish history, by Jewish learning, and by intellectual and political battles in the United States. As a friend who was in the room—another Jewish friend who must go nameless lest his own family learn of his engagement and flay him—the number of people killed in Israel/Palestine during the second intifada is just “a bad day in the Congo,” which is to say that human rights is not the alpha and omega of our engagement, we are engaged by the crucible of three big religions, and in the latest working out of the issue of the Jewish Problem in western society. The last resolution of that problem, which perplexed Bismarck, Herzl, Einstein, Wilson, and so on, a number of good political minds, has not worked out that well– Israel– and we are engaged by another Jewish tradition, Arendtian non-Zionism, to try and figure out a better answer.

Medea Benjamin also has a Jewish reason to be engaged, but that's not the energy for her; she's been working at Third World issues forever. Maybe Sammer is the same way, we'll see. He has a view of democratic politics in which the people are engaged on a moral question. I don’t see it. I think elites matter. And, yes, fighting about Israel, its raison d’etre, legitimacy, and the future of the Jews– is elite tea-drinking.

I wrote that last night and this morning I'm already feeling different. Yes you can say that Sobell, Finkelstein and I are all engaged because we think that Jews matter. But at least, at last: there is a true effort to engage Jews with our non-elitist shadow.

62 Responses

  1. pineywoodslim
    July 15, 2009, 3:38 pm

    Sorry, I agree with Sammer that the Israeli-Palestinian problem is one of universal human rights, to be addressed universally. I find it suspect morally to hand-off the issue to American Jews rather than the public at large. At its worst, it reduces the universal human problem to some strange utilitarian Rorshach test where the primary goal becomes one of working out Jewish identity and the real problem of Zionism/occupation becomes only a means to that end. That's far too ethnocentric and self-absorbed to me. On a practical level of course, the more support against Israeli policies–from whatever quarter–the better. But the focus of that support should not be Jewish anguish over their identity, it should be universal anguish over the plight of Palestinians.

  2. carnas
    July 15, 2009, 3:47 pm

    "I talked about five Palestinians I had met and how they showed me that Palestinians are “civilized to the core"." Another perfect exemplar of the five-year-old mindset that haunts Mr. Weiss in his dealings with this issue: meeting five nice Palestinians is enough to tell you all you need to know about them, and meeting five racist Israelis (see the Blumenthal videos) is enough to slime them all. It's also emblematic of the general American approach to the problem: let's all sing kumbaya and things will all work out.

  3. stevieb
    July 15, 2009, 3:47 pm

    I agree with Sammer too – but I'd qualify that by saying there needs to be discussion within the Jewish community – with themselves – about the direction in which Judaism is to go regarding assimilation. Israel can't be a part of that in my eyes – it's too far gone….

  4. Ed
    July 15, 2009, 3:57 pm

    I believe the insistence upon repressing the Jewish identity component flows from left-wing doctrine, which insists that deep down, we’re all the same. We’re not, as the Jewish Problem itself demonstrates. But far from being dangerous, acknowledging our differences is actually healthy, because it allows for a better diagnosis of whatever ailment or behavioral problem. I think left-wing refusal to acknowledge racial differences has also hindered a solution to the I-P conflict, because it refuses to acknowledge the extraordinary tenacity of the Jewish lobby, and the fanatical lengths to which it will go to get its own way. It’s a Bolshevik tenacity in service of a Nazi vision. That kind of fanaticism and extremism isn’t normal, and has completely distorted American politics.

  5. SilverBird
    July 15, 2009, 3:59 pm
  6. pineywoodslim
    July 15, 2009, 4:09 pm

    Thanks for the link. Interesting. Just a cursory read of the comments to the diary though indicates that most find the idea silly.

  7. RichardWitty
    July 15, 2009, 4:10 pm

    I've met more than 10 nice Palestinians and it reminded me of Abraham arguing with God over Sodom and Gomorrah. The issue is important to different communities BECAUSE it will only be solved with the consent of each community, and therefore you have to persuade. And, because you have to persuade, ANY imposition of any collective punishment, say BDS, will delay that persuasion. And, to persuade the ultra-orthodox and the neo-orthodox, you have to learn Torah. The thesis that it is solely an issue of dissent, and that once dissent is successful, the persecutions will be resolved, is a false one. Israel/Palestine is DIFFERENT than South Africa, and therefore the remedy that is suggested by South Africa as parallel, is an impotent one in this case. Its sad that the issues that are valid from the Israeli perspective did not get the light of day. Even if the experience of Gaza and Lebanon were severe, the experience of Israelis at the hand of Hamas and Hezbollah was also severe, unavoidable.

  8. Tenma
    July 15, 2009, 4:11 pm

    Sorry, Phil, but I also agree with Sammer. As I see it, the idea that it's the responsibility of Jews to liberate Palestine is little different from the idea that Jews must swear fealty to Israel. Both mindsets serve to separate Jews from the greater public. This exclusiveness, as I see it, is the source of the conflict.

  9. RichardWitty
    July 15, 2009, 4:14 pm

    The issue of addressing Gazan civilians concerns will inevitably also shine the light on Hamas.

  10. redneck
    July 15, 2009, 4:16 pm

    How can anyone ignore the power of the networked Jews everywhere but in Asian and African countries? They’re paying for this in Louisiana and no one there worries about Jewish identity. They should, but bless their hearts, the Jewish influence in the MSM and our government give them no information. They are the sideshow, living in a vast wasteland of fly-over fame.

  11. RichardWitty
    July 15, 2009, 4:16 pm

    The range of questions that you conveyed were asked at the press conference that attended in Gaza with Hamas officials, were softball. I get that you likely feared for your safety, but you are back in the states now.

  12. stevieb
    July 15, 2009, 4:17 pm

    Essentially your using a racist argument to justify the fanaticism you so defile in regards to Israel and the Jewish lobby. And that won't work, Ed. Because that fanaticism isn't based on fact – there is no evidence of biological superiority or any other type of superiority – it resides in the imaginations of the 'true believers". Deep down we are all the same – we are a species whose behavior is quite consistent despite our racial differences – which boil down to skin hue and not much else, really. But I always knew that about you Ed….

  13. RichardWitty
    July 15, 2009, 4:18 pm

    Is there a tape or film of the presentation?

  14. J P
    July 15, 2009, 4:20 pm

    I agree that the I/P problem is one of universal human rights: that what Israel has done and is doing to the Palestinians is wrong, morally, legally, and even politically (as in counter productive). However there are implications on how various groups react to that core problem. There is a second order problem that should be of concern to Americans in that it is hard to believe US statements about "American values" when American foreign policy with respect to Palestine is the converse: – US supports freedom (except for Palestinians) – US supports equality (apart from Palestinians) – US supports democracy (apart from Palestine and countries that don't support Palestinians) – US supports international law (apart from Israeli settlements etc) – US supports human rights (apart from in Gaza) etc There is the question of how various Jewish groups relate to this core problem. Some like the UK's IJV put universal values first, while others alas don't. It should be of concern to those Jewish groups that support of Israel is counter productive – particularly the danger of it becoming acceptable to take away individual's rights if they give the "wrong" answer to the question "are you Jewish?" (as Israel does). In the end though isn't that getting too worked up as to whether you are Jewish or not? As a Western European I'm almost certainly part Jewish but how much I have no idea and really does it matter? We are all mongrels The core debate is about values. I support universal human rights and its implementation through international law, while Israel doesn't, rejecting the clear statement of international law that any settlement or structure beyond the '67 boundary is illegal, and also rejecting the Palestinian refugees clear rights. The real problem is Israel.

  15. stevieb
    July 15, 2009, 4:22 pm

    Perhaps you should inform this particular left-wing doctrinaire of the racial differences between an American jew of , say, Polish descent and, say, a Canadian Catholic of British descent. Or even better – between an Egyptian jew and a Palestinian Arab. Go atter…..

  16. goody1shoes
    July 15, 2009, 4:56 pm


  17. Citizen
    July 15, 2009, 5:04 pm

    The analogy with South Africa is not totally on all fours, but to say it has no legs aka is "different," is more than equally INTENTIONALLY MISLEADING. The Israeli perspective has been the sun itself for at least half a century in the USA, Israeli's chief enabler. What Witty calls "dissent" is putting an Arab American on SCOTUS.

  18. dana
    July 15, 2009, 5:19 pm

    Similarly here. Unbelievable what depths the shills for Goldman Sachs will stoop to – now they even try to undust some old canards – if you criticize goldman sachs and, heaven forbid – point to their enablers in the administration – like Geithner, Summers, and in congress – like schummer – why you must be an anti-semite! Thanks for pointing this out – I missed this diary (it wasn't highly recommended so was easy to miss). I found Taibbi's response most interesting. Apparently, he brought out the howlers by daring to mention the word "tribe". Sure, he meant the tribe of the monied, but those who seek conspiracies saw it for what it was – he must have meant THE TRIBE(!). I hope both Taibbi and greenwald enjoy the slugfest. Neither is known for being feint of heart, so I trust they will. Let's give them a hand when we can, shall we?

  19. Dana
    July 15, 2009, 5:23 pm

    Hey Witty – is your job now to villify Hamas? is that the answer you got in response to having phosphor rain on civilians? that it's all because of hamas? that they put the Israelis up to it? Weak, Witty – very weak. You need to consult the hasbara pointers so kindly put out by israel project. You are not following the talking points properly!

  20. Doppler
    July 15, 2009, 5:23 pm

    "The psychosis of Israel is its insistence on its right to an internal debate." Especially in America. Thank you, Mondoweiss, for opening this window on that conversation.

  21. yonahred
    July 15, 2009, 5:30 pm

    to phil weiss, your message today regarding the jewish role in the movement is clearer than it was last night in front of the audience.

  22. seeingformyself
    July 15, 2009, 5:39 pm

    Sammer is correct! He's wise enough to see that it is critical to have involvement and influence from the world , not just the Jewish world. The Jewish piece of support for Palestine must be there for numerous reasons. However it often appears that the Jews involved forget about the rest of us. Because of population figures alone, we are a large part of the equation. There needs to be a campaign to educate and involve "us"……it's not just a problem for Jews. Sammer, keep it up! It is a Human rights issue and it will take a broad base of support if Palestine is ever to be treated with justice and honesty.

  23. yonahred
    July 15, 2009, 5:57 pm

    when finkelstein repeats a word over and over again, you equate him with one of the most eloquent wordsmiths of our time. maybe you meant finkelstein as isaiah or jeremiah. at present you feel that there are two keys to the american public- the media and the congress and you fear that jewish influence will deny the free flow of information and decisionmaking. as long as you can show the world that israel is beating up on your "pure five" you will have a winner and as long as israel can show that israel is up against the guys in the green masks yelling like maniacs israel will have the upper hand.

  24. Ed
    July 15, 2009, 6:22 pm

    I’m no geneticist so I’m out of my depth here, but I think most scientists agree there are differences between the races, even though we are all of the same species. Medical doctors, for example, will sometimes look for different problems when confronted with health ailments based on a person’s race due to certain predispositions among certain races. I suspect the same might be true for mental health. The problem with acknowledging racial differences are more social than they are scientific. Some people are conditioned to believe different is bad, or different makes certain people unable to meet social norms. It’s really an obsessive desire for uniformity that is probably at the root of a lot of racial problems. And Lefties, in there own way, are as obsessive about uniformity as is the Right, and just as anally doctrinaire.

  25. delia ruhe
    July 15, 2009, 6:32 pm

    I’m glad to see that more diaspora Jews are reconsidering their position vis-à-vis Israel. It’s hard to understand why diaspora Jews would continue to support Israeli Zionism anyway, given that Israeli Zionists have always held the diaspora in contempt. However, today, the diaspora is considered “cool” — it has a life and a culture of its own, and it no longer relies on Israel for its identity. In a *Monthly Review* article entitled “Jews Confront Zionism” (June ’09), Daniel Lang/Levitsky writes: “. . . increasingly articulate presentations of the value of diasporic Jewish culture soon come into conflict with many aspects of Zionism. And, in the end, they run directly counter to Zionism as a whole: the project of placing the state of Israel at the center of Jewish life depends on devaluing and erasing diasporic cultures and histories, re¬ducing two millennia of Jewish life to a lacuna punctuated only by mass murder and redemptive nationalism. As central to the Zionist movement as Jewish control over the land between the Jordan River and the Medi¬terranean Sea is the imperative of shlilat hagalut (negation or liquidation of the diaspora), which holds that "degenerate" diasporic Jewish cultures should be eliminated in all but the most token bagels-and-Seinfeld forms and replaced by a new, militarized, and nationalist Hebrew culture. As a result, participants in what Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz has termed "radi¬cal diasporism" (in her 2007 The Colors of Jews: Racial Politics and Radical Diasporism) are increasingly seeing themselves in opposition to Zionism, standing in solidarity with Palestinians on the basis of a shared enemy as well as in the interest of justice.”

  26. Richard Witty
    July 15, 2009, 7:19 pm

    Pretty trivial name-calling Dana. The significance is that Hamas is IN the math of what occurs in Gaza. To state that Hamas' actions effect nothing, are to emasculate Hamas.

  27. andrew r
    July 15, 2009, 7:22 pm

    "I've met more than 10 nice Palestinians and it reminded me of Abraham arguing with God over Sodom and Gomorrah." I have no idea what they saw in you.

  28. andrew r
    July 15, 2009, 7:24 pm

    "It’s a Bolshevik tenacity in service of a Nazi vision." the stupid… it burns…

  29. real goy life
    July 15, 2009, 8:20 pm

    Yeah, I've met a couple of nice Jews. However they wouldn't even argue; they just dropped me completely as soon as I uttered one sentence about Gaza.

  30. Citizen
    July 15, 2009, 8:34 pm

    There are lists of particular physical afflictions that afflict only certain groups, e'g', Jews and Blacks. This information is used all the time by doctors when coming up it with a diagnosis. Less verifiable, in the softer sciences there are assumptions made all the time in practice, e.g., many local government-run tests based on ethnic-cultural-genetic assumptions, e.g., in many states a DUI conviction requires taking such tests as part of the process to get your driver's license back–the tests include questions asking you to name your ethnic background among a list–only certain ethnic backgrounds are offered to pick from. The DNA of chimps is not far off from humans. A slight variation in DNA makes worlds of difference in the real world, even as between humans. Ed has said nothing indicating he hates any group of people, nothing to indicate he is a racist fanatic.

  31. Citizen
    July 15, 2009, 8:47 pm

    How are you going to get American consensus to liberate Palestine instead of supporting apartheid when the AIPAC matrix prevents awareness? There's a reason why most Americans have never even heard of Gaza or the Nakba and why Phil's little blog and he are called anti-semitic. It's the responsibility of all Americans, both Jew and Gentile to quit this great injustice on the Palestinian people.

  32. Lt CalleyinIsrael
    July 15, 2009, 8:56 pm

    Softball is the five IDF whitewashes of what happened in Gaza at the start of this year. Hardball is the 100 plus pages of testimony and 16 or so video clips made by the 26 young IDF soldiers regarding what really happened.

  33. Citizen
    July 15, 2009, 9:00 pm

    It's like only the Jews can perform the operation behind the curtain despite the fact that the operation is on tons of Gentiles, not just comparative ounces of Jews.

  34. yonahred
    July 15, 2009, 9:08 pm

    shlilat ha galut does not make zionists the enemy of the diaspora. that is an argument from fifty or so years ago. certainly there are those that still argue. insofar as israel still dreams to solve its problems with the palestinians through massive immigration there is still some value to shlilat ha'galut, but in fact there is no real contradiction between a jew living in brooklyn or wichita and one living in jerusalem. in fact in israel the jews speak the new jewish language- Hebrew, whereas the languages of the diaspora- yiddish and ladino are moribund. true the antizionists will always say, jew go to brooklyn and so the diaspora gives the israel basher an excuse for bashing, but jewish behavior need not be that attuned to the israel bashers. if a jew is anti zionist in tendency building up the jewish cultural opportunities of manhattan would help him/her define himself as the ultimate jew whereas the jerusalem jew is deprived of various cultural offerings. but this is trivial stuff compared to survival.

  35. Tenma
    July 15, 2009, 9:19 pm

    I agree that it's the responsibility of all people of conscience to end the occupation. And the role of Jews is something that, unavoidably, will have to be discussed. The situation reminds me of a movie where, in order to defeat some greater threat, all the smaller factions have to work together.

  36. LeaNder22
    July 15, 2009, 10:35 pm

    Here is an interesting review about the J. P. Morgan derivative team and some of the tricks, that caused trouble, and why. Pretty simple really. I don't know Taibbi, but admittedly I am a bit hesitant about his article. That is I wouldn't buy a copy of Rolling Stone to read it. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n12/mack01_.html The London Market Place is also back to almost it's former splendor and the fast money.

  37. LeaNder22
    July 15, 2009, 10:39 pm

    Wasn't Israel involved in the creation of Hamas as a counterforce PLO. Never look back, right? Divide and conquer? Divide et impera.

  38. RichardWitty
    July 15, 2009, 11:03 pm

    Its qualitatively different, to the point that the "remedy" of BDS is collective punishment with no chance of success or of justice, so best not inflicted or invoked. The difference lies in the 50/50 nature of the population. If you are working towards a partitiion at the green line, then make that what is prominent. The goal.

  39. RichardWitty
    July 15, 2009, 11:04 pm

    They saw a respectful human being that sympathized with their experience.

  40. RichardWitty
    July 15, 2009, 11:04 pm

    We can imagine what that sentence might have been.

  41. RichardWitty
    July 15, 2009, 11:06 pm

    No. Hamas was started by Muslims as an Islamic education and social service movement.

  42. RichardWitty
    July 15, 2009, 11:07 pm

    Softball is fhe failure to inquire into Hamas' decision to resume shelling of civilians.

  43. nubia
    July 15, 2009, 11:25 pm

    Yes. It's being reviewed and processed at Deep Dish TV and hopefully available soon thru meeting organizers.

  44. Todd
    July 16, 2009, 2:02 am

    Racial superiority and Jews is a dishonest topic. Phil often talks of "his people" and their talents. It's not uncommon at all for Jews to openly proclaim Jewish genetic superiority without an eyelash being batted, let alone self-righteous charges of racism being thrown about. My favorite example of the hypocrisy is Charles Murray. When the Bell Curve came out, there was an outcry that that Murray was a white supremist. However, when the same author writes specifically about Jewish genetic superiority, the new book is displayed in the must read section of chain stores, and no cries of racism are heard.

  45. Todd
    July 16, 2009, 2:07 am

    I don't expect people in Louisiana, or other areas with few Jews, to have a preoocupation with Jews. why should they? They have their own lives to live where they are. Eventually, more people will wake up to what has been done to the politics and culture of the nation by Jews among the elites, and it may happen quicker than some think. Had I not wound up in Israel by accident, I would probably be a bit indifferent to Jewish influence, as well.

  46. Todd
    July 16, 2009, 2:18 am

    I think the Jewish (not Zionist) influence in America is the problem! Without Jewish networks and influence, the U.S. would never have supported Israel, and those networks are much stronger now than they were 60 years ago. Israel is a sideshow! Jewish influence and the corrosion it brings to society through nasty group politics is the the problem that this post tries to identify, but can't due to smugness and a refusal to view America as it is, rather than as a group of faceless Gentile slobs destined for subordination.

  47. Donald
    July 16, 2009, 3:51 am

    Remind me what your position has been on the blockade of Gaza. Whenever I read you I sympathize with some of what you say, but can't help suspecting that you're far more ethnocentric than you wish to admit, even to yourself.

  48. estebanfolsom
    July 16, 2009, 8:51 am

    i'm not sure where to begin we have the same father our mother is the earth we are all gods' children from the moment of our birth how we treat each other is how we will be judged you can call yourself whatever you like a point i won't begrudge you've been given gifts sublime but not for waging war can't you see i trust in you to realize what they' re for? can't you see your the hope the worlds been waiting on? when are you going to cut the bs put an end to the endless con? when will you find the courage to trust in the good of a man that you haven't met and never will if you continue with this plan how can you judge another and give yourselves a pass picking off folks helicopter gun ship always seemed a little too crass if you want to kill a man you must look him in the eye put your hands around his neck and listen to his cry listen to his pleading 'i'm not ready to die' take his life into your hands and let his spirit fly then you will see his sorrow then you will see his fear you should know better after all when death is always near it's just a suggestion i'll throw out and only for what it's worth why don't you give those nukes up save yourself and the rest of this earth and this goes for all of 'us'

  49. Richard Witty
    July 16, 2009, 9:45 am

    My position is one of sympathy for the Gazan civilians imprisoned by Israel, Egypt and Hamas.

  50. LeaNder22
    July 16, 2009, 11:48 am

    Andrew Higgins, Wall Street Journal ” target=”_blank”>http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12327557229501184…

    Surveying the wreckage of a neighbor's bungalow hit by a Palestinian rocket, retired Israeli official Avner Cohen traces the missile's trajectory back to an "enormous, stupid mistake" made 30 years ago.

    "Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel's creation," says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen watched the Islamist movement take shape, muscle aside secular Palestinian rivals and then morph into what is today Hamas, a militant group that is sworn to Israel's destruction.

    Instead of trying to curb Gaza's Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat's Fatah. Israel cooperated with a crippled, half-blind cleric named Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, even as he was laying the foundations for what would become Hamas. Sheikh Yassin continues to inspire militants today; during the recent war in Gaza, Hamas fighters confronted Israeli troops with "Yassins," primitive rocket-propelled grenades named in honor of the cleric.

    Avi Shlaim, Guardian ” target=”_blank”>http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/07/gaza-…

    It continued to play the old game of divide and rule between rival Palestinian factions. In the late 1980s, Israel had supported the nascent Hamas in order to weaken Fatah, the secular nationalist movement led by Yasser Arafat. Now Israel began to encourage the corrupt and pliant Fatah leaders to overthrow their religious political rivals and recapture power. Aggressive American neoconservatives participated in the sinister plot to instigate a Palestinian civil war. Their meddling was a major factor in the collapse of the national unity government and in driving Hamas to seize power in Gaza in June 2007 to pre-empt a Fatah coup.

  51. Richard Witty
    July 16, 2009, 12:47 pm

    So, you want to steal something else from Palestinians, the dignity that they were their own movement, instead insisting that they are only dependant on Israel for everything? Israel thought of Hamas as a potentially civilizing influence, trusting that religious education and social service would moderate Palestinian Gazan sentiment, in favor of a pragmatic self-development and international relations approach. That seems to be a good motive, but that went south.

  52. real goy life
    July 16, 2009, 1:11 pm

    It was, "Did you see what's happening in Gaza?"

  53. Kudos2Witty
    July 16, 2009, 1:20 pm

    Witty states flatly that Israel was not involved in the creation of Hamas. When responders document that it was, he switches tunes, tacitly admitting he lied outright by saying Israel had an apparent good motive to be so involved but wailing how Hamas wrested control from Israel. Typical Witty, the most dishonest commenter on this blog.

  54. Babe Ruth
    July 16, 2009, 1:24 pm

    The only ball is comparing the total number of Israeli deaths due to Hamas rockets over the years with the total number of palestinian deaths due to the IDF. The pattern is clear. Hamas is a resistance unit.

  55. confused Jew
    July 16, 2009, 1:51 pm

    SO let's get this straight…. Philip is saying that the I P conflict is not such a huge problem in regards to human rights violations. real human rights violations are taking place on a greater scale all over the world, but progressives don't really care cause it's more important to deal with Jewish issues, as Jews are society's elite Philip loves being a part of this elite and sees Jewish identity as being of utmost importance. However a huge change needs to be made in Jewish identity for a large portion of the Jewish population. This change must be affected by enlightened Jews like him, in order to do that these progressive Jews need to gain the alliance of other outside nations in order to force their Jewish view on the Zionists. So one question, Philip, what will happen to those Jews that don't wish to change?

  56. stevieb
    July 16, 2009, 4:26 pm

    I didn't call him a fanatic – but it is a racist argument. But you might be, Citizen. I'm not sure. I'm wondering what "a slight variation in DNA makes a world of difference in the real world" means. Maybe an example – and how that should translate into policy measures. I didn't deny there are racial differences – I say they are politically insignificant. They are generally racially insignificant too – they are evolutionary adaptions that have no significance in terms of one race having any significant advantage over another. And those who think they do and would like to have political decisions reflect these trivial matters – than yes, I would think those people fanatical racists, yes…..

  57. stevieb
    July 16, 2009, 4:29 pm

    If you want to look for reasons for racial/ethnic variations in terms of socio-economic success than he least positive variable will be racial differences – I can promise you that….

  58. RichardWitty
    July 17, 2009, 1:44 am

    Yes, the Gazan civilians are suffering the consequences of a blockade by Israel and Egypt, constructed of the civil war between Hamas and Fatah.

  59. RichardWitty
    July 17, 2009, 1:45 am

    And suffering the results of the failure of governance by Hamas, in initiating a war with a more powerful military in which the Hamas "leaders" hid, while the civilians were exposed.

  60. RichardWitty
    July 17, 2009, 1:47 am

    Israel was at most incidentally involved with the formation of Hamas, and even that would be an exageration. Why are you so gullible, you anonymous one?

  61. JoelBitar
    July 18, 2009, 9:43 pm

    Remember, Hamas won the election in 2006 in a free and well-observed democratic election (” target=”_blank”>http://www.cartercenter.org/news/multimedia/Peace… If you respect the right of Palestinan self-determination then you acknowledge that Hamas should be the governing body in the West Bank and Gaza. The provocateur in the civil war was a U.S./Israel backed Fatah that sought to maintain its dominance in Palestine. Hamas reacted to Fatah's coup d’état with a counter-coup. Read this excellent investigative piece about the U.S. funded coup to overthrow the democratically elected Hamas party. (” target=”_blank”>http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/… Your claim that Hamas was the initiator in the Gaza massacre is incorrect. Rockets were fired into Israel from June-November by militant Palestinian groups unaffiliated with Hamas. These rockets were the result of Israel's refusal to ease the blockade and relax restrictions on freedom of movement. As far as I'm concerned, Israel's decision to imprison Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is an act of war in itself. On November 4th, 2008, Israel dropped a bomb on a tunnel killing 6 Hamas militants. This is when Hamas started firing rockets into southern Israel. "The Hamas "leaders" hid, while the civilians were exposed." Are you placing the blame of 500 dead civilians on Hamas? Israel broke the cease-fire and then Israel decided to drop DIME bombs and white phosphorous munitions on civilians. It was Israel that bombed municipal buildings, agricultural land, a UN school, a graduating class of police officers, cement factories and hospitals. There is absolutely no doubt that this was a war against the civilian infrastructure in Gaza. Hamas rockets were just a cover for the same Israeli policies of removing Palestinians from the Land of Israel.

  62. Dana
    July 19, 2009, 7:44 pm

    I think you got it wrong – it's Israel that's shelling civilians, not hamas.

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