A window into the rightwing American mind re Israel/Palestine

This is kind of amazing. You’ve seen the story about James O’Keefe, the 24-year-old young Republican prankster who got pinched trying to tamper with Mary Landrieu’s phone system, right? So here’s the first issue of the alternative conservative paper he started when he was at Rutgers back in ’04.

 
It includes a parody of the New York Times, from an aggrieved right-winger’s point of view. One of the stories on the fake NYT front-page is about Israel/Palestine: "Five Palestinians Murdered by Israeli Militant." In the parody version, the Palestinian victims were "on their way back from a charity bake sale to raise awareness about women’s rights" and were killed "for no apparent reason by Israeli soldiers occupying their land." And on and on. At the bottom of the column is the "punchline":
"For info on 26 Israeli children killed, please turn to A26."
 
So the joke is that the liberal, America-hating New York Times sides with Palestinian terrorists. There are a million ways to respond to this. I don’t even know where to start.  They obviously don’t know the basics of the I/P conflict nor have they ever apparently looked at the NYT’s coverage of it. To me, it just underscores the kind of reflexive, emotion-driven ignorance we’re up against. How do you get all of the O’Keefes out there – and there are millions of them — to actually think about this? I don’t think I’m putting my finger on quite what it is. Maybe racism is the best description. And the obliviousness to how the Times approaches the issue (an issue the right wing purports to care about) is staggering.
Posted in Israel/Palestine, US Policy in the Middle East

{ 69 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. potsherd says:

    There seem to be two kinds of Israeli apologists. The first identify first as Jews and thus support Zionism out of tribal reflex, even if otherwise liberal in their politics.

    The second are first right-wingers, fascist-minded hatemongers, who recognize in Zionism a fellowship. The poster “Julian” here is of this type.

  2. jimby says:

    I would maybe start by sending Rush Limbaugh exploding vicodin.

  3. Cliff says:

    Watch Defamation and you’ll realize the situation is even worse.

  4. Avi says:

    It’s all part of the conditioning the population undergoes at the hands of its media, government and institutions.

    It probably is racism to a degree. If we looked at the stereotypes about African Americans in the US and the stereotypes about Arabs/Muslims we find that those stereotypes are almost identical. Angry, violent, primitive, primal, rude, unclean, lazy are stereotypes used to describe both groups, with perhaps the added “terrorist” label for Arabs/Muslims.

    But, it goes beyond that.

    Consider movies produced by The Cannon group with their mini Hollywood located just outside of Jerusalem. link to en.wikipedia.org

    The Cannon group brought us such garbage as Delta Force (with Chuck Norris) where the bad guys are Palestinian “terrorists” who hijack a plane with a few Holocaust survivors with American passports and Jewish names on board. Of course, the Holocaust survivors get singled out by the hijackers and are forced to relive the horror of yesteryear at the hands of the evil Palestinians.

    Those are some of the blatant displays of propaganda, but there are more subtle cues that purport to be funny or humorous. Take for example, Adam Sandler’s Click in which Rob Schneider plays the wealthy yet primal Arab prince who stares at American women’s behinds with sexual perversion, unable to conceal his desires. The old “They’re gonna rape all your women” stereotype.

    Then there’s the daily bludgeoning of the propaganda that depicts Israel as “our friends” the “good guys” and Arabs/Muslims as “enemies of civilization” and the “cave dwelling apes”.

    Of course, it doesn’t end there, there is also the process of subtle propaganda, where Jews in general are shown as an inseparable part of America. Sex and the City “I’m invited to a bar mitzvah next week, what should I wear?” This way, Jews and by extension Israel are depicted as an inseparable part of the fabric of American culture.

    Over time, TV audiences become accustomed to the symbolism that follows, the menorah, Hanukkah. This is all a process by which one group becomes part of the mainstream. At the same time, Arabs/Islam are associated solely with terrorism, violence, unrest. They are distant, unfamiliar, have strange accents and they hate America. You won’t see John Travolta’s character asking his co-worker if he’d like to join him to a Ramadan dinner, for example.

    Another aspect has to do with the glorification of Israel in the US, in mainstream culture. Israelis are constantly touted as “experts on security and terrorism”. Israeli weapons are used by the good guys in a given network TV drama. The Desert Eagle, El-Al security, Israeli grav maga’, gadgetry etc.. are all shown in a favorable light and marketed to right wing, militant Americans as true and tried, durable field gear and tactics.

    Over time, such products become household names like GE, RCA, Nike, Windex and in turn reaffirm Israel’s closeness and familiarity in the eyes of the average American, while Muslims and Arabs are still associated with camels, caves and bombs. They are exotic, live in far away lands, mostly in deserts and they can barely speak English.

    On top of it all, both countries share the same Orwellian mind ****. The Pentagon is part of the department of DEFENSE. Israel’s military is the Israel DEFENSE forces.

    What do Arabs have? They have Hamas, Hezbollah the party of Allah, liberation this and freedom that, all dismissed as “terrorists”.

    • Dan Kelly says:

      All so true, Avi.

      • UNIX says:

        I think it’s ok for Jews to become part of the mainstream, including Hannukah and Menorah.

        • Cliff says:

          Another benign comment from the troll.

          And I think this is the part where you leave, because it’s not in your interest to elaborate.

        • I guess you’re referring to Jews in the US, and suggesting that Hannukah & Menorah should become ‘mainstream’ icons of American culture.

          Riddle me this, BSDman: Should the crucifix, Manger scene, and Easter eggs reciprocally become mainstream icons in Jewish Israeli culture? Just to affirm that US and Israel are such good allies, don’t you know.

        • Mooser says:

          BSDNOW, I already tried that with my wife. She took one look at my Menorah (it’s authentic, from Israel) and said: “Where the hell am I supposed to hang all my ornaments?”
          So you see, it may not be possible.

    • Cliff says:

      Good post.

      ‘Jewishness’ is a protected identity in our political/popular culture.

      We will keep hating Arabs (and hate Muslims by association) so long as they live somewhere we want to live or have something we want.

      Anyone here watch The Office?

      Dwight Schrute plugged some seafood restaurant in Tel Aviv on the last episode.

      If you know the show, you’d know that Dwight has probably never been outside the tri-State area, let alone, Tel Aviv. It was so contrived. So out of character. Lame and transparent.

      The sad thing is that it takes A LOT of investment to get to this point where you can reflect and realize how thorough the PR/propaganda is.

      I see a lot of ‘brand Israel’ on TV and in movies. It’s just common. Why not? It’s not like the other side is unknown to shameless exploitation.

      Oh, also about Dwight Schrute. He is also apparently German. His grandfather is implied to be a ex-Nazi – living in Argentina in hiding. Dwight says he tried to visit him once, but was protested by the ‘Shoah Foundation’.

      Lots of books document images of Arabs in American film. There should be another study, done within a comparative framework (Arab images vs. Jewish images) with lots of annotations to describe the ‘political climate’ at the time. Like what ME issues were like at the time.

      I was watching the video version of ‘Reel Bad Arabs’ and simply could not believe the shit that has been produced by Hollywood.

      I mean, its STILL happening. Adam Sandler is such a Zionist douchebag. He has been doing that Arab-face gimmick for awhile. Usually he uses Rob Schneider.

      Here’s part 1 of the video version of ‘Reel Bad Arabs’

      • Cliff says:

        err meant to say, Dwight probably hasn’t been outside of the tri-State area, let alone TO Tel-Aviv.

        He’s not a hermit but he doesn’t seem like the world-traveler to me. It’s just a sense about him you’d get if you watch the show. Given how his character is regularly made to look like a militant fool, and of German ancestry which is frequently mocked- I doubt that this would be a natural course for the character. He’s basically some writer’s punching bag.

        I wonder why Dwight had to deliver the PR though. It was actually a funny line. And random. I doubt they’d put the line in a normal situation within that episode (in the scene, Dwight is pretending to being an advanced AI – in order to impress a potential investor to the fictional paper company where the show takes place) – because then the line would be ‘naked’.

        • “let alone TO TelAviv…”

          far, far too many Americans, especially American decision-makers and -shapers, have been to Tel Aviv, or wherever Yad Vashem is, where they have been emotionally overwhelmed, then further subjected to a full-court Bernays: “Israel rocks.”

          I suspect the number of non-Iranian Americans who have visited Iran is less than 10,000. When that changes, when as many American legislators as visit Israel also (or alternatively) visit Iran, where they will be overwhelmed with the beauty of cities like Shiraz and Isfehan; where their brains will explode with the way a shrine in Mashad puts one in touch with the universe; where standing inside a 3,000 year old caravansarie in the middle of a desert that was a place that offered survival on a Silk Road journey will, perhaps, start the juices flowing of how cultures came together and swapped myths and religious ideas in a time way before John Hagee… then changes will start to take place.

          Israelis do little to recommend themselves when they work so hard to stunt efforts to learn about Palestinians, Arabs, and Iranians. What are they afraid of?

          Jabotinsky and his Iron Wall concept was a topic here a few days ago. Part of Jabotinsky’s underlying argument was that “We, Jews, are NOT easterners, we are Westerners.” The East, Arabs, Persians, Turks, the lot of them, are backward, ignorant people. WE, Jews, we are not like they are. It is our god-ordained mission to drag these brutes into the high culture of our advanced civilization….

          Yet Jews still cling to Semitic roots while glorying at Israel’s technological advancement that would have been impossible without Persian/Arab concept of ZERO and algebra.

      • Dan Kelly says:

        The whole Dwight character seems to be the writers’ caricature of a German.

        There have been a few episodes of Law and Order (a show that isn’t even watchable anymore) over the years that have incorporated Zionism into the theme. Zionism isn’t explained, of course, and those against it, if they aren’t outright neo-nazis, are always of questionable character. The underlying assumption is that Zionism is normal.

      • UNIX says:

        The video series ‘Reel Bad Arabs’ is pretty thorough. There were some outrageous stereotypes of Arabs and dehumanization of Arabs portrayed in the films referenced.

        The narrator finds fault however, when he in turn promotes movies like Paradise now which includes outrageous stereotypes and dehumanization of Jews and Israel

        Portrayal must be equal for Jew or Arab, as human beings with all the gifts and faults that entails.

        • VR says:

          Nice reply BSD, and how has there been “equal for Jew or Arab?” Because this is what we are discussing, not a lesson on how to achieve the “equal,” it is a nice goal – but does not address the current problem, does not ask why it is happening, and makes no connection between lets say that same image in the “war against terrorism,” the despicable references of Zionists to “Arabs,” and the attended atrocities committed. In other words BSD, you contributed nor said anything.

        • Shmuel says:

          Thanks for the “balance” and the platitude, BSD. Apart from the fact that Paradise Now was a single, foreign film the vast majority of American have never heard of, let alone had the opportunity to see, it does not stereotype or dehumanise Jews or Israelis – unless the very fact that it portrays Palestinians as human beings somehow diminishes Jewish-Israeli humanity. I’ve heard a lot criticism of PN (some of it legitimate), but the accusation of “stereotyping Jews” is new to me.

          I’m assuming you haven’t seen it. Go see it, and then we’ll talk. It’s a great film, and there’s a lot to talk about.

        • UNIX says:

          Paradise Now was stressed in the piece “Reel Bad Arabs” as a positive movie.

          It’s important to be equal though and moral towards both Jews and Arabs.

          Paradise now dehumanizes Jews to the point where it’s acceptable at the end for Jews to be murdered in suicide bombings.

          All movies should portray both Jews and Arabs as human, not as faceless caricatures.

        • Shmuel says:

          BSDNOW: Paradise now dehumanizes Jews to the point where it’s acceptable at the end for Jews to be murdered in suicide bombings.

          Um, no it doesn’t. Have you seen the movie?

        • UNIX says:

          Oh yes several times. I don’t want to draw this out into a personal attack on me. What I mean to say is that the answer to the historically bad representation of Arabs and Palestinians is not to counter by portraying “faceless Jews” “ugly Jews” or justification for killing Jews.

          I never thought to much about the portrayal of Arabs until I saw that piece.

        • Shmuel says:

          BSD,

          I wasn’t attacking you. Your assertion that no religious/ethnic group should be portrayed as “faceless” or “ugly” or in a way that “justifies” killing them is self-evident and so adds nothing to the discussion.

          For someone who saw a film “several tiimes” you really missed the point. Paradise now offers a window into the soul of potential killers of innocents, helping us understand their motives and emotions – including their fears and moral qualms. If Jewish Israelis were simply “faceless caricatures” there would be no dilemma. The protagonists neither hate Jews or Israelis, nor consider them inconsequential – which is precisely what makes the story “work”. The accusation that the film in any way “justifies the killing of Jews” is thus entirely without basis.

          If you know the film so well (I admit, I have seen it only once), please elaborate, give examples to support your assertion – beyond the irrelevant platitude that everyone should be treated fairly.

        • UNIX says:

          Well, to be clear there is only one Jew portrayed in the movie, very ugly, sex crazed, similar to many of the caricatures portrayed in “Reel bad Arabs” He wishes the bombers “good luck” on their mission. (No morals)

          Jews are accused of poisoning the wells in Nablus in Paradise Now by the taxi driver.

          There is a scene that visually reprises DaVinci’s last supper, this time with suicide bombers.

          It isn’t just one movie that degrades the public’s perception of a people it is many in succession.

          The trend towards equality in the portrayal of Arabs in motion picture imaging is positive and it will continue. We need to be diligent however and not allow Paradise now, and other upcoming films to contribute to the degradation of the image of Jews from America, Israel or elsewhere.

          If you don’t mind I’m going to quit this particular thread, I’ve said my piece.

        • Shmuel says:

          BSD,

          There are also the Jews on the bus, ordinary people, including the child that makes the bomber change his mind. I don’t recall the remark about the poisoning of the wells, but it is certainly incidental to the plot. I heard about the “Last Supper” association (invented by Irit Linur), and to be perfectly honest, it’s a painting I know well, and I live immersed in Catholic culture, and it did not occur to me for one second. You really have to dig hard (as Linur did) to come up with the idea that the bombers are supposed to represent Christ – which, even if true, would be totally inconsistent with their characters and the rest of the story.

          It isn’t just one movie that degrades the public’s perception of a people it is many in succession.

          We were discussing a specific movie, and how it denigrated Jews to the point of justifying their killing. Those are pretty serious accusations, and if true should be apparent from the film itself, without placing it in the vague context of “a succession” of “many” unnamed films.

          The equivalence you have created is a false one, because the negative portrayal of Arabs and Muslims in American film and TV is pervasive and well-documented. Of course Jews shouldn’t be denigrated in film, but they rarely are in the United States, and the one example you cited (mentioned, you say, in “Reel Bad Arabs”) isn’t American, and does not unequivocally do what you say it does.

          You have said your piece, but you have said it badly. Your qualification of the stereotyping of Arabs in American popular culture not only emptied your initial remark of all meaning; it also emptied the qualification itself, regarding the sterotyping of Jews (when it actually does occur) of all meaning. If Paradise Now is anti-Semitic than everything is anti-Semitic and nothing is.

        • Mooser says:

          “Well, to be clear there is only one Jew portrayed in the movie, very ugly, sex crazed,”

          Hey, even ugly Jews, like me need love, or a reasonable facsimile.!

      • Citizen says:

        Here’s a political analysis of Hollywood and Adam Sandler’ s hasbara comedy:
        link to jewcy.com

    • JGlatzer says:

      This is an admirable summing up of the American media propaganda visavi Israel.

      My mom is a right wing Republican, however I remember in my youth my mom telling me “Of course Palestinians deserve their own State” long before it was fashionable and acceptable to say so. She listens to my experiences in Palestine and the truth of the issue. She is my window into the right-wing Zionist mindset. She said when people hear “Palestinian” they automatically think “terrorist”.

      This is the mindset that has to be changed before we try to convince people with facts and numbers. If people still have a knee-jerk reaction of Palestinians as terrorists, it won’t matter what we say; no matter how horrific the statistic they will say, “Well, they’re terrorists, it’s too bad but they deserved it.” As an ex right wing Zionist, I can admit this used to be my mindset.

      Forget Brand Israel, we need to advocate Brand Palestine. We need to “humanize” Palestinians in conjunction with the other aspects of our struggle. In everything we say and do with this issue, we need to emphasize how much Palestinians are just like us or anyone else in the world. They are just regular people.

      • Palestinians are just like us or anyone else in the world. They are just regular people.

        perhaps it’s the approaching acceptance of Palestinians as “just regular people” that incented David Brooks’ recent column, celebrating Jews as “more than just regular:”

        Jews are a famously accomplished group. They make up 0.2 percent of the world population, but 54 percent of the world chess champions, 27 percent of the Nobel physics laureates and 31 percent of the medicine laureates. …

        link to usa.mediamonitors.net “Inviting David Brooks to My Class,” by M Shahid Alam.

    • MRW says:

      So true, Avi, to the point where I now change the channel rather than watch some of the blatant propaganda and gratuitous choices writers make in their scripts. I wont watch ‘Serbians are bad guys’ movies either, the fare of the mid-90s where every non-Serb in the region was a poetic hero driving around in a mud-splattered car with a righteous revenge bomb in the trunk. (I am one of the few I know who actually read the history of Nazis operating from Albania to Thessaloniki, and grew up with Serb kids whose fathers helped build those tunnels, the ones NATO tried to bomb in 1999, to help Polish Jews escape to the Adriatic in WWII.)

      According to the comprehensive American Religious Identification Survey* (self-identification) conducted by the CUNY Graduate Center, Jews are 1.3% of the US population and decreased by 10% between the 1990 and 2000 censuses.

      Islam is .5% of the US population, and increased by 109% between the 1990 and 2000 censuses.

      [The other two biggies are Christianity (76.5%, inc: 5%) and Nonreligious/Secular (13.2%, inc: 110%)

      But worldwide, Jews are 0.22% of the global population, and Islam is 21% (Christians 33%). So there is nothing mainstream about Judaism. Period. There are more Sihks than there are Jews.

      There will be a reaction to these falsehoods. The values of the 20th C are going to get swept away. There are more Millennnials (those born after 1982) than there were the other largest population group, the Baby Boomers. Social scientists have already predicted some of their characteristics. One striking one was their eventual disdain of, and visceral revulsion against, Baby Boomer values and everything they stood and stand for, and that they will actively seek to eliminate them from every corner of society. So that correction is coming. I can hardly wait, even though I’m a BB myself.

      *http://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/research_briefs/aris/aris_index.htm
      link to adherents.com

      • Mooser says:

        You really need to keep those figures on Jewish population in mind when Witty talks about the future of Israel and Zionism.
        No matter what, things can’t stay the same, there won’t be enough Jews oputside of Israel to support it, and Israel is making the situation untenable for itself without powerful outside support, free of any conditions.

    • Mikhael says:

      Avi wrote:

      “The Cannon group brought us such garbage as Delta Force (with Chuck Norris) where the bad guys are Palestinian “terrorists” who hijack a plane with a few Holocaust survivors with American passports and Jewish names on board. Of course, the Holocaust survivors get singled out by the hijackers and are forced to relive the horror of yesteryear at the hands of the evil Palestinians.”

      While I might agree that films in the Cannon Group’s ouvre (Golan and Globus) were lacking in artistic merit and subtlety–did it occur to him that the scene he mentioned that was depicted in “Delta Force” of the elderly Jews being singled out and killed by Palestinian terrorists were shown because it actually happened? Leon Klinghoffer and the Achille Lauro, anyone? Do you really have such short memories?

      • MRW says:

        Mikhael: Leon Klinghoffer and the Achille Lauro, anyone?

        Really. Then I suggest you read Victor Ostrovsky’s books. He was a member of the Mossad at the time this happened, and he tells a compelling story about it.

  5. The “mind” being described isn’t limited to the “rightwing” or Israel/Palestine:

    Dad Barred From Taking His Jewish Baby To Church
    Wife Says Taking Daughter To Christian Service Will Confuse Child

    In her petition, she argues that if he’s allowed to raise the child in any faith other than Judaism, he will cause their daughter irreparable harm.

    “I almost fell off my chair,” he said. “I thought maybe we were in Afghanistan and this was the Taliban.

    link to cbs3.com

    • Mooser says:

      Oh, come on, America Fust Cless! You have got to be kidding. When I was a kid, we had sometimes a Gentile teenage girl who babysat us if my parents were away on weekends. Well, one Sunday “Penny” (Do you think I’ll ever forget?) said she didn’t want to miss service and took us along.
      The Church itself didn’t scare me, heck no, I had spent plenty of time in Orthodox schuls, so I was inured to chanting is strange languages and glazed eyes. But my eyes couldn’t help but wander to the life-size crucifixion statue. Penny followed my gaze, and my look of incomprehension. As we were sitting down after a hymn, she hissed at me : “And that’s what we do to little boys who dis-obey the babysitter!”

      Was that supposed to be psychologically good for me? I left church a chastened, more serious boy, knowing that life was, indeed, stern and earnest. First the mohel flails away drunkenly at my most private parts, now the Gentiles are going to nail me to a cross. Is it any wonder I was depressed?

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  7. I never heard of Hannukah or the menorah before I visited Palestine at Christmas, 1973. Then I got an earful, from earnest Israelis, and something different from the Palestinians amongst whom I stayed, but not a lot about Eid Al Fitr, the major Muslim celebration at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. (Much like Easter, but no eggs).

    Now, Hannukah is a public festival, and even celebrated specifically in the White House. Look at this photo of Obama and Michelle welcoming Jewish kids to their Hannukah Party, and then look at the expression of Senator Biden.
    link to flickr.com

    With 1.7% of the American population (5,128,000), Jews deserve some recognition, with conspicuous partying events at the heights of American politics.

    But Muslims get nothing of the sort. Eid al Fitr is not celebrated at all, anywhere although Muslims comprise from 2.5 million to 7 million of the US population (from 5 to 140 times) the number of Jews.

    • Citizen says:

      American Muslim theatre is just getting started:
      link to time.com

      In another half century, will it have the integration and power of Jewish images and voices since Tin Pan Alley to the present?

    • potsherd says:

      The USPS issued an Eid stamp in 2009. Officialdom is coming around to recognition of Muslims and their holidays. It’s the population that’s lagging.

      But it will have to catch up, fast, because the Muslim population is growing rapidly. I’ve seen it in the demographics of the community college students, even here in a whitebread Republican county.

      • Norooz Resolution Passes House Committee in U.S. Congress
        link to payvand.com

        Norooz is Iranian New Year, celebrated at the birth of Spring. The festival is Zoroastrian, not Islamic: at its heart, Iran is more Persian/Zoroastrian than it is Islamic. Although many Iranians are devout Muslims, and Islam does inform Iranian government structures in a way similar to the way Christianity influences American government systems, most of the Iranians I have met are very aware that Islam was imposed on Persia; Islam is not part of the Iranian ‘way back’ legacy.

    • Mikhael says:

      Richard Parker wrote “Jews deserve some recognition, with conspicuous partying events at the heights of American politics–But Muslims get nothing of the sort. Eid al Fitr is not celebrated at all, anywhere”

      Leaving aside the question of whether it is appropriate for the US to officially to recognize the establishment of any religion–I wonder where Richard Parker has been . G.W. Bush held an official White House iftar dinner every year during his term, marking the conclusion of Ramadan fasting.Obama is continuing the tradition of public commemoration of Ramadan, Hajj, Eid and Hajj begun by Bush.

      Moreover, as someone who resides in NYC, I can attest that the city publicly recognizes Eid as a holiday where alternate side parking rules are suspended to help Muslim worshipers find convenient parking next to their mosques, just as these rules are suspended for Jewish, Christian and Hindu observances.

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  11. Here’s a man feeling bad about his attitudes to niggers:

    From the Jerusalem Post:
    Rattling the Cage: Segregation blues
    By LARRY DERFNER
    27/01/2010 21:40

    I spent the day in Nazareth recently, doing a story about Israeli Arabs in hi-tech, and when I got in the car with the (Jewish) photographer to leave, I said to him, “Isn’t it a relief to talk to Arabs as regular people?” He smiled in agreement.

    I had the same feeling when I was doing a story on B’Tselem, the anti-occupation NGO in Jerusalem, and found myself making coffee in the kitchen next to an Arab woman who was getting a glass from the cupboard or something. We were together for about a minute, I don’t remember any conversation, any particular notice we took of each other. It was only afterward that I felt this revelation: For a minute, I wasn’t living in a segregated country. For a minute, the sharing of space with an Arab, as equals, was unremarkable.

    This is a vision of life in this country as most Jews and Arabs, I think, wish it could be – and it’s so amazingly rare. We cross paths, but usually on opposite sides of a counter or standing next to each other in line. With few exceptions, we live in segregated neighborhoods, our kids go to segregated public schools, they play in segregated parks.

    Nearly 25 years ago, not long after I moved to Israel, I rented an apartment in the Kababir neighborhood of Haifa, right on the informal border between the Jewish section and Arab section. The building had two Arab families along with about 10 Jewish families. I’d see one of the Jews talking with one of the Arabs in front of the building, griping about the plumbing, about the noise – the things neighbors talk about. I got to know one of the Arab families, and once they invited me in to their apartment.

    It’s only in the decades since then that I’ve realized how rare an experience that was for an Israeli Jew. Before moving to Modi’in, I lived in three different apartments in Jerusalem, two in Tel Aviv and one other in Haifa, but that year in Kababir was the only time I’ve had any Arabs neighbors. In Modi’in, a city of 70,000, the only Arabs I’ve seen are illegal Palestinian construction workers sneaking into town or under arrest at the police station.

    IN 20-plus years as a journalist here, I’ve interviewed hundreds of Arabs, but only had one as a colleague. I’ve never had an Arab friend or even an acquaintance. I can’t recall a party or any purely social, nonprofessional setting I’ve been in where an Arab was present.

    I know there are quite a few Israeli Jews who do have considerable contact with Arabs, who get to know them through work – especially if they work in a hospital – but the great majority of Israeli Jews, unless I’m badly mistaken, have exactly no Arabs in their circle of friends, coworkers and acquaintances.

    Isn’t this wonderful? I feel like I left Los Angeles, went back in time and moved to Mississippi.

    And let’s face it – what we’ve got in this country is not separate but equal. We Jews are the privileged ones; the Arabs are the supplicants. They’re knocking on our door; we’re not knocking on theirs.

    This, finally, is why it was such a relief to be talking with Arab hi-tech people in Nazareth, to be puttering around a kitchen next to an Arab NGO employee in Jerusalem. The equality and ease we had, as fleeting as it was, relieved me of my guilt – my guilt at being in a superior position to Arabs in this country, simply because I’m a Jew.

    Ah yes, Jewish liberal guilt. I know – I can’t stand it, either. In fact, one of the most vivid memories I have of my first days in Israel are of a field trip to the Knesset, of standing outside in the snow and thinking, “Thank God I don’t have to be a liberal anymore. Here my people are the underdogs, I don’t have to feel guilty or apologize to anyone.” Little did I know.

    Things are in sad shape when it’s such a rare thrill to be in the same room with an Arab and not have the walls crack from the tension, for the words, “Arab… Jew… Arab… Jew…” not to be running through your head. I don’t have the patience for this. I really don’t want to set aside a day to take an Arab to lunch. I don’t want to have to join a goddamn encounter group for my kids to play one game of soccer with Arab kids.

    I’m really not such a big liberal. I don’t need Israel to be the rainbow nation, and I don’t expect it to be. I actually want it to go on being a Jewish state. I’m just tired of it being a Jewish Mississippi.

  12. Avi says:

    I actually want it to go on being a Jewish state. I’m just tired of it being a Jewish Mississippi.

    He lost me with his last sentence. What exactly does he mean by that? If a state is to “go on being a Jewish state”, despite there being 20% Arabs in that state, doesn’t that by definition make it a “Jewish Mississippi”? Help me out here, did I miss something?

    • MRW says:

      Avi, it’s a metaphorical reference to Mississippi before Civil Rights, when blacks existed or were tolerated (provided they knew their place) but without rights, voting rights, etc. Legal second-class citizens.

      Queen Elizabeth is the head of the Church of England, or Anglican Church, so lets’ say England is an Anglican state today; however, people of all religions can live there today with full rights of citizenship, or at least the same rights of citizenship as the Anglicans. That’s what he’s hoping for.

    • potsherd says:

      This is one reason I prefer to describe the situation in Israel as segregation rather than apartheid. It’s a word that many Americans can relate to through their experience.

    • Mooser says:

      A well explicated ziocaine hallucination, is what that was, Avi.
      But wow, this is supposed to be an educated Israeli, and that’s his understanding of it? Just wow.

  13. lyn117 says:

    I don’t get the parody. The part about Israeli militants killing Palestinians for no apparent reason is right, not parody (if not necessarily ones going to a bake sale), but it would be on page 26 along along with 26 Palestinian children killed.

  14. Avi: Jewish Mississippi? Open apartheid exists, certainly, in the attitudes that Israelis show to their minority Arab citizens, and to the casual (legal or illegal) Palestinian labourers who come into their society.

    Their attitudes towards the ‘other’ Palestinians are deflected by the Arabs’ isolation behind the West Bank Wall, and the borders of Gaza.

    MRW I wouldn’t be so confident that Civil Rights laws have really taken hold in the South. The treatment of Katrina victims is a case in point.

    I am Anglican, born and bred, now relapsed, but I don’t have equal rights (or citizenship) here. When I was invited to become a godfather, I was interviewed by the local godly-waddlies, who pressed on whether I was a Protestant. I got away with saying I was an Anglo-Catholic. (Which meant, if I was one, that I used incense in some church services, and Latin in some others).

    • Citizen says:

      I’m not sure the treatment of Katrina victims has anything to do with Civil Rights or lack of them. I think it has more to do with economic class. The terrible ice storm that hit white Kentucky about a year ago wasn’t handled very well either in terms of swift aid
      to the helpless.
      link to time.com

      • potsherd says:

        When a white sheriff stands at one end of a bridge and points guns at black refugees trying to escape the flooding city, it has everything to do with pure unadulterated racism.

  15. Cliff says:

    link to ynetnews.com

    Check out the comments.

    No matter what Israel does, the Zionists cover it up, say it’s just a ‘lie’ to smear Israel or make ‘Jews’ look bad, or change the subject to Arabs and Muslims or how Palestinians don’t exist so it’s all alright.

    I haven’t been look at YNet for awhile, so it was nice to be reminded that I wasn’t exaggerating to yonira, when I said that most – if not all – of the Zionists on this blog are trolls cut from the same cloth.

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  17. Citizen I agree with your contention that ‘economic class’ is as important as colour, with the important proviso that most niggers are poor, as are most hillbillies.

    The Philippines has more than its share of natural disasters; typhoons, floods, landslides that engulf whole towns, and the lack of any aid at all is striking. The answer seems to be: rebuild your own house, and mourn your lost family quietly.

    Just the same attitude as applies to Gazans.

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  19. Cliff Your link
    link to ynetnews.com
    doesn’t surprise me at all.
    I witnessed, at first hand, the destruction of the Palestinian Research Centre in Beirut in 1976. The building was a unique archive of original Palestinian papers and property deeds. It was used by a few old scholars, all of whom that were present were killed.
    The perpetrators were an Israeli commando squad, disguised as ‘South Africans’, who managed somehow to rent a car and load it with rockets, for a surprise attack.
    Later the same morning they did a similar attack on the PLO HQ on Corniche Mazraa.
    The PRC was directly across the road from my office, and I can tell you that seeing, out of my window, such a destructive attack actually happening in front of my own eyes powerfully affected my sympathy for the Israelis.

  20. Sin Nombre says:

    You know, the more I think about the whole Israeli/Palestinian issue—or, rather, coming back to think about it after taking a step back from it and viewing it from a wider perspective—the more I think that *if* there is going to be some progress made it’s going to have to be re-perceived not as a “Israel/Palestinian” issue at all, but instead a “Settler/Palestinian” issue.

    Not just as a way of cutting through the precise issue here—”how Americans view Israel generally,” which as per the above is generally favorable—and not just as a way of cutting the connection of American and Diaspora jews’ instinctive support for Israel either, but indeed as a way to get to the real nub of the problem.

    I know of course that it can be observed that it has indeed *been* Israel itself clearly and “as a whole”/as a state that has been behind so much that exercises people. And there’s a natural instinct to just not make any further distinction beyond that; our modern conditioning is to think of nation/states as the natural … “unit of measure” so to speak.

    But isn’t the (sad) historical fact that often the worst behaving nation states got that way because some relatively small (and certainly not majoritarian) group in those states managed to get ahold of their political processes and dragged their less activist fellow citizens and their nations into horrors? Think Germany, and the Nazis. Think Imperial Japan, and its militarists.

    I’m aware of course that Hitler came to power about as democratically as possible, but that’s the point: Despite this the striking resemblance of Germany’s experience thereunder with that of Imperial Japan in that democracies too have a feature or flaw or whatever you want to call it that occasionally allows a minority with enough zeal and energy and ruthlessness to still grab hold of their nation and lead it into craziness.

    Obviously they do so—grabbing the reins of the old instead, say, of calling for the dissolution of same and proclaiming a new one—for legitimacy’s sake. But doesn’t *talking* about their actions thereafter as those of their “nation/state” as if, truly, they represented all their inhabitants just play into their hands, and grant them that legitimacy?

    And what’s the consequence of same? First of all every time one attacks what is being done by that “state” or “nation” every citizen therein will tend to feel far more defensive than if just this or that claque within their country is being criticized. And every ethnic or tribal or religious group identifying with that nation feels defensive. And indeed as regards calls to act against that “state” or “nation” they are going to be somewhat naturally viewed by every other state or nation with a certain hesitation, if not a very very large one: “Gee, we don’t want to advocate doing anything that might be rash against *that* state or nation, because the world could then act against us too that way.”

    I realize that for some purposes—indeed for many—it is still impossible not to talk or act in any way other than vis a vis identifying a “nation/state” actor. For instance, when considering a BDS movement. (Although, interestingly enough, I have seen some attempts to just boycott goods coming from the occupied territories alone, and I have to say I like that alot and is an example of the kind of discriminating thinking that I’m talking about.)

    But, indeed, in lots and lots of ways still—and in fact in the *most* important ways which is just the day-to-day talk about the issues at hand and choosing which vernacular is to be used—it seems to me not just possible but in fact far more discriminating to not talk about “Israel” doing this or being responsible for that and etc. and so forth. Instead, it seems to me, it’s both smarter and more accurate to talk about the damned Israeli *Settlers* who are the ones more precisely behind this or that having been done.

    Seems to me that if this distinction were used often enough so that it became *the* common formulation, things might get appreciably better on any number of fronts. Let everyone who identifies with Israel or with jews or judaism understand that no, *they* are not being attacked. And strip the defenders of what is being done of the ability to claim that they are just defending “Israel” or “the jews,” and are instead really just defending “the Settlers.” And to the extent they try to pull that cover of legitimacy over same by saying “Israel as a whole did it via its democratically elected President Netanhayu,” *especially* people in democratic countries who know about elites and others grabbing hold of their country understands the riposte that “everyone knows that Netanyahu is the Settlers’ creature” or etc.

    In short what I’m wondering is whether just a simple change in language might not have some beneficial effect in the debate. But not because it’s only a simple change in language or rhetoric or polemics or etc., but because it shifts the terms of the argument closer to the truth of the situation which is what resonates with people trying to make sense of contested claims.

    • Donald says:

      Actually, that already is the mainstream approach and it’s been that way for decades–Israel is fine, it’s the settlers who are the problem. I think that lets Israel off the hook (what’s happened in the West Bank is not different from how Israeli land was acquired in the first place), but as a pathway to a compromise (the two state solution) that might be acceptable to the Palestinians then it might be acceptable language for politicians to use, but there’s a danger. It’s a form of unilateral rhetorical disarmament. In the US the default assumption is that Palestinians are intransigent anti-semites and terrorists who want Israel to disappear, with no understanding of why people who were ethnically cleansed might legitimately question Israel’s moral legitimacy. By saying that Israel is fine but the settlers go too far it stacks the deck against the Palestinians–then the haggling begins over how much of the remaining land the Palestinians might still be allowed to keep. I’ve actually seen people say that because Arafat “rejected Barak’s generous offer”, the 67 lines should be off the table. And that’s how the discussion has gone in this country–you’re a on the “pro-Palestinian” side if you take the position that they deserve 22 percent of what used to be theirs. Start off conceding that Israel rightly owns 78 percent with no questions asked and then the real negotiations begin over how much of the remaining 22 percent the Palestinians get and how many other concessions they might have to make. Ultimately, it’s for Palestinians to decide if they will settle for a two state solution–perhaps many or most would.

      Anyway, criticism of the settlers has all been lip service. If the US is serious about a two state solution, then they have to put pressure on Israel to accept it and certainly Obama has shown so far he has no stomach for this.

      As for boycotts, in some versions it is just companies that are directly involved in some form of oppression of the Palestinians that are targeted. And that does seem like the sensible approach, one that no fair-minded person could find objectionable.

      • Sin Nombre says:

        Well of course if you’re happy with where the present framing of the debate has taken you….

        • Mooser says:

          Gosh, Sin Nombre, according to Phil, and others who should know, the framing is leading to a place where a one-state solution will become the framework. Is that allright with you?

          And do you think that the settlers are really the problem? Do you really think they could do what they do without the connivance of the Israeli State?

        • Donald says:

          “Well of course if you’re happy with where the present framing of the debate has taken you….”

          The framing of the issue in mainstream American society is the one you propose and so far it has taken us nowhere–Phil’s viewpoint is still marginal in mainstream political circles and I want that to change. And I think the framing you propose which is already the dominant one has been a failure because it is slanted-on the one hand we have a minority of “settlers” along with a large number of well-intentioned Israelis and on the other side we have “terrorists” and Palestinians who don’t wish to recognize Israel’s right to exist. “Terrorist” sounds worse than “settler” and it’s been easy to portray the Israelis as wanting peace, but unable to reach it because of some settlers on the one hand (which they are somehow unable to restrain) and because of the crazed violence of the Palestinians.

          I think it’d be better if most Americans were exposed to the full strength of the pro-Palestinian case and then we could argue about what sort of solution is realistic. That might be the two state solution–we’re not going to force Israel to be a secular democracy that doesn’t favor one group any more than we are going to force any other Middle Eastern state to follow American ideals of a society where all ethnic and religious groups are equal.

          But as it stands the US isn’t going to act as an honest broker, because the dominant narrative is slanted against the Palestinians. Obama tells the Palestinians they must renounce violence–he says nothing of the kind to the Israelis.

  21. Federal Court Threatens Iranian-American Heritage

    link to niacouncil.org

    The issue is a lawsuit brought by the American survivors (and families of victims) of a 1997 Hamas suicide attack in Jerusalem, in which five people [American Jews] were killed and over 100 injured.
    The plaintiffs claim that several thousand priceless artifacts from the ancient city of Persepolis should be auctioned off to pay restitution for the terrorist attack. Thus far, they have won a string of judgments against the Iranian government. Until recently, the Iranian Government had refused representation in American federal court, therefore being ruled unable to refute support for Hamas or justification for punitive actions against the artifacts.

  22. tommy says:

    Repetition by corporate owned media is almost impossible to rebut. I have often mentioned electric razors do a poor job on my thick beard, and when told to people my age they always unhesitatingly refer me to the product Lectric Shave because it makes whiskers stand up. None of these people have ever used the product, but they all saw the advertisements for it hundreds of times during their childhood, which they repeat in a reflexive way. What needs to be done is media ownership must be re-regulated and a Fairness Doctrine imposed, but no political authority exists to do implement them, dooming discourse.

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