On the Lack of Interest in the Goldstone Report

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 103 Comments

Many American Jews who are liberals, supporters of Israel, and generally well informed about events of the day suppress their knowledge of Israel-Palestine to a second-rate level of almost innocence. An inadequacy which (out of pride) they wouldn’t allow themselves in approaching any other subject. They do it because they are afraid if they knew more, they would have to condemn much of Israel’s conduct toward the Palestinians.

This mentality has a recent historical parallel, in the liberal fellow-travelers of the Soviet Union from the late 1930s through the 1950s. Such people contented themselves with half-knowledge. Their reason was that, if they knew what they might have taken the trouble to know, they would have found themselves thinking and saying things about the Soviet Union that they couldn’t bear to think or say.

About David Bromwich

David Bromwich teaches literature at Yale. He is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and has written on politics and culture for The New Republic, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, and other magazines. He is editor of Edmund Burke's selected writings On Empire, Liberty, and Reform and co-editor of the Yale University Press edition of On Liberty.

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103 Responses

  1. Mooser
    January 28, 2010, 10:54 am

    “This mentality has a recent historical parallel, in the liberal fellow-travelers of the Soviet Union from the late 1930s through the 1950s.”

    That was one hell of a bad comparison to use. Straight out of neo-conservatism by way of Scoop Jackson and John Birch.

    • Mooser
      January 28, 2010, 10:55 am

      On the other hand, Citizen will love it, and find it very gratifying. I gotta go, and I’ll just let C.’s gratification make my day.

    • Donald
      January 28, 2010, 11:00 am

      I think it’s a pretty exact parallel. So does Chomsky–he’s used it, so you don’ t have to be rightwing to think so (I’m leftwing myself).

      It’s also straight out of Orwell, who wrote about ideologues in general and how they manage not to know things that would disturb them. I can almost do the quote from memory from “Notes on Nationalism”–a nationalist (Orwell’s term for an ideologue) not only doesn’t disapprove of the atrocities of his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.

      RW is an obvious example.

      • Donald
        January 28, 2010, 11:03 am

        A link to Orwell’s essay “Notes on Nationalism”. Everyone should read this–it’s a tendency we all have to watch out for in ourselves.

      • MRW
        January 28, 2010, 12:36 pm

        Or this line your Orwell link: One prod to the nerve of nationalism, and the intellectual decencies can vanish, the past can be altered, and the plainest facts can be denied.

      • marc b.
        January 28, 2010, 12:47 pm

        That quote sums up the ‘Freedom Fries’ mentality here in the States. All the misty-eyed, unquestioning patriotism whenever the latest beat down is promoted, and the subsequent, inevitable shock of betrayal long after the damages is done. (Well, no sh*t Sadaam didn’t have nuclear weapons trained on the US.) The ease with which the script is swallowed is disheartening.

      • Citizen
        January 28, 2010, 1:49 pm

        Yeah, even Orwell himself felt the need to conform to the moment, to what he considered the lesser of two evils:
        See Orwell: The War Commentaries, edited and with an introduction by W. J. West. New York: Pantheon Books, 1986, 253 pp., $18.95.

        It’s a matter of degree, this means and ends thing.

      • marc b.
        January 28, 2010, 11:41 am

        RW is an obvious example.

        Please, Donald. No mention of ‘The Love for Israel that dare not stop speaking its name’. We have a three-day vacation. Let’s enjoy it.

      • bigbill
        January 28, 2010, 12:11 pm

        Myths are essential. They go to the essence of the family, tribe or nation. They are the fundamental cultural unit by which the cultural values are conveyed and should not be readily tampered with. If you start tearing down the Jewish Nation over the Palestinians, it will only be that much easier to take them to the next step of racial self-hatred. Many Jews in galut are already on the brink.

      • jimby
        January 28, 2010, 12:54 pm

        I have an idea that Zionists might need a 12 step program. The more I ponder it the better it seems.
        1> We admitted we were powerless over Zionism and our lives had become unmanageable.
        2> Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
        are Jews so guilt-ridden and paranoid that they cannot honestly look at themselves and want to heal the pain and delusion.

      • jimby
        January 28, 2010, 1:01 pm

        The basis of 12 step programs is that the seeming problem (alcohol, drugs, or zionism) are only symptoms of a veritable soul sickness.

      • potsherd
        January 28, 2010, 1:36 pm

        Germans went through a phase of self-hatred, and it did them more good than harm, except for a lingering propensity to let their guilt favor Israel when it is not deserved.

      • RoHa
        January 28, 2010, 7:30 pm

        ” If you start tearing down the Jewish Nation over the Palestinians, it will only be that much easier to take them to the next step of racial self-hatred”

        You mean they might come to their senses, stop being Jews, and regard themselves as just ordinary people like the rest of us?

      • Shmuel
        January 28, 2010, 3:29 pm

        I agree, Donald. The parallel is a very good one – and I say that as someone who greatly sympathises with the still-communist Italian radical left. Togliatti couldn’t handle criticism of the USSR, although Gramsci certainly led the way for democratic communism in Italy (the dominant approach even under Togliatti). Among most of my “compagni”, there are pretty realistic views of the Soviet era, although the older ones may have gotten a little carried away in ’68. Some myths are impossible to break – most notably the myth of “Il Che” – who happened to have been a homophobic butcher, but the last time I said that to a compagno, I regretted it ;-) Unlike Zionism however, one can jealously guard the memory of Il Che, and still be rock solid on all the issues that matter.

      • Donald
        January 28, 2010, 3:50 pm

        Yeah, it is good and I’ve long taken it for granted, having first seen Chomsky using it many years ago. He’d criticize both the Stalinists and the Trotskyites and compare their blindness to Soviet atrocities (I first heard about Trotsky and the taking of Kronstadt from Noam) to the current day Zionists. To some extent it was inside baseball stuff–I knew just enough to realize he was taking potshots at the Dissent/Commentary crowd (or Dysentary, as Woody Allen said), some of whom (I think) had been Trotskyites at one time.

    • potsherd
      January 28, 2010, 11:01 am

      Psychologically, the comparison is quite sound and insightful. And the point is a psychological one.

      Another, less political, parallel is with families where the father is sexually abusing a child and the mother closes her eyes to it, because if she acknowledged the abuse she would have to accuse her husband and break up the family. Better that one child suffer than disrupt my own life.

    • MRW
      January 28, 2010, 11:58 am

      That was one hell of a bad comparison to use. No, it wasn’t, Mooser. It’s what Solzhenitsyn says in the recently translated chapters of his book “Two Hundred Years Together” about Russians and Jews that you can only find in the recently published “The Solzhenitsyn Reader.”

      • MRW
        January 28, 2010, 12:03 pm

        And, BTW, I heartily recommend spending an afternoon at Borders with a cup of coffee reading these pages in The Solzhenitsyn Reader. I can hardly wait until they allow his book (Two Hundred Years Together) to be fully translated and published in English.

      • Citizen
        January 28, 2010, 12:22 pm

        MRW, it’s obvious Mooser has not read that Solzhenitsyn or he could not have
        honestly rendered his knee-jerk reaction, vanishing with nothing but an unsupported slur in his trail. I hope you have patience; I see no move to get
        his book fully translated into English although it has been translated into many
        other languages for years now. In the USA, censorship is voluntary. It works very well on certain issues of interest to the likes of AIPAC and the ADL, for instance.

      • MRW
        January 28, 2010, 12:59 pm

        Maybe if there is an Italian version, Shmuel could translate that.

      • Dan Kelly
        January 28, 2010, 2:39 pm

        Without any censorship, in the West fashionable trends of thought and ideas are carefully separated from those which are not fashionable; nothing is forbidden, but what is not fashionable will hardly ever find its way into periodicals or books or be heard in colleges. Legally your researchers are free, but they are conditioned by the fashion of the day. There is no open violence such as in the East; however, a selection dictated by fashion and the need to match mass standards frequently prevent independent-minded people from giving their contribution to public life. There is a dangerous tendency to form a herd, shutting off successful development. I have received letters in America from highly intelligent persons, maybe a teacher in a faraway small college who could do much for the renewal and salvation of his country, but his country cannot hear him because the media are not interested in him. This gives birth to strong mass prejudices, blindness, which is most dangerous in our dynamic era. There is, for instance, a self-deluding interpretation of the contemporary world situation. It works as a sort of petrified armor around people’s minds. Human voices from 17 countries of Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia cannot pierce it. It will only be broken by the pitiless crowbar of events. -Solzhenitsyn, Harvard commencement address, 1978

        link to columbia.edu

      • Shmuel
        January 28, 2010, 2:54 pm

        Thanks for the vote of confidence, MRW. Yes, it has been translated into Italian (Due secoli insieme. I. Ebrei e russi prima della rivoluzione, Controcorrente, Napoli 2007). I’ll certainly be on the lookout for it (couldn’t find in in the municipal library catalogue, and the 2 volumes are 30 euros each). Apart from the fact that translating from translations is generally not a good idea, it’s nearly 1,300 pages long!

      • Shmuel
        January 28, 2010, 2:55 pm

        Forgot vol. 2: Due secoli insieme. II. Ebrei e russi durante il periodo sovietico.

      • Citizen
        January 28, 2010, 4:28 pm

        Re: “It will only be broken by the pitiless crowbar of events. -Solzhenitsyn”

        I think that steeled crowbar will be an emotional Israeli attack on Iran, semi-green-lighted by the USA–followed by an equally emotional Iranian response against Everything it can touch Israeli or American.

        The meltdown of this crowbar will be the world’s future in this century, every bit as significant as 1914 was to its Century.

      • America First
        January 28, 2010, 7:09 pm



        link to theoccidentalquarterly.com

      • MRW
        January 28, 2010, 8:23 pm

        Well, Shmuel, you should try to get an Italian publisher of English texts interested in it. You’re a great writer on top of knowing how to careen around in the languages you do. I assume that the two guys who put The Solzhenitsyn Reader together probably translated it; too lazy to cross the room to look. But the few pages they translated: intro, parts of two chapters, were riveting for the emotional tone, the morality of the man, and the clear clear clear understanding he had of the topic he was broaching. And his profound fairness. Not to mention that he was alive and involved in Russian politics during the time he was writing about.

        I read the first page of the Frenchman’s link above — my browser wont let me read more without downloading — and the smell of anti-semitism being bellowed by the reviewer as a reason why no British or American publisher will touch it is wrong. Just dead wrong.

      • Shmuel
        January 29, 2010, 5:41 am

        MRW: Well, Shmuel, you should try to get an Italian publisher of English texts interested in it.

        I’ll have to read it first ;-) Seriously though, an English-language publisher outside of the Anglosphere might not be a bad idea, although France or Germany would probably be better bets than Italy. Translating from a translation might be acceptable for short excerpts, but a comprehensive translation would have to be from the original. It’s not as if Russian-English translators are hard to find.

    • Colin Murray
      January 29, 2010, 9:19 am

      I disagree. I’ve read some of their drivel. I even owned a historically precious copy of Soviet fantasy-land drivel printed in the USA (in 1935 IIRC), until I lent it and never got it back. The parallels in psychological denial are not trivial.

  2. annie
    January 28, 2010, 11:19 am

    good analogy potsherd

    if she acknowledged the abuse she would have to accuse her husband and break up the family. Better that one child suffer than disrupt my own life.

    lots of personal pain there. the denial factor is partly inspired by facing extremely uncomfortable truths about those you love most. i’m not sure ‘disruption’ fully encompasses the extent of the quagmire if she’s in love with her husband. i imagine it would be quite gut wrenching.

    • potsherd
      January 28, 2010, 11:39 am

      The analogy works in many ways. In many cases, the wife is not so much in love with her husband as not wanting to lose him as a meal ticket if he goes to jail. In short, she has a personal interest in continuing the status quo.

      And in not a few cases, the wife does know about the abuse and is glad of it because it means he isn’t bothering her. The problem is that this only encourages his abusive tendencies. Consider how Israel is becoming a nation of bullies and thugs because this behavior is not only condoned but encouraged.

    • Citizen
      January 28, 2010, 11:41 am

      Yeah, it is a good analogy. And Mooser is correct that I agree with Bromwich about the historical psychic analogy–what I don’t understand is why Mooser thinks it’s a bad comparison to make. He seems to understand that the neocons emerged from
      the Scoop Jackson-Birch mind-melding over the years, yet he does not tell us
      why he thinks the comparison was/ is a bad one to make.

  3. David Green
    January 28, 2010, 11:33 am

    I’ve followed Bromwich’s career closely–he went to my high school, a year behind, and was the youngest person ever to receive tenure at Yale, from what I understand. He’s really talking about himself–for years he went along with the Dissent crowd (he’s on the board), and said nothing critical about Israel. He also wrote a book in the early 1990s that was typical of the liberal “culture wars” posturing, e.g. Todd Gitlin. But I’m glad to see him saying this. Welcome on board. We need all the help we can get. Most people, especially Jews, have had to go through a process. It’s not about us, but a little retrospective/reflective humility would help. Then, as long as we’re telling the truth, let’s get busy–I mean, really busy. Let’s get downright controversial, even is we do teach at Yale.

  4. David Green
    January 28, 2010, 11:37 am

    P.S.: Bromwich’s book is better than Gitlin’s, probably the best of a bad lot. But that’s not saying much. It’s not really to the point of what the left ought to be thinking about. Sometimes I think that the entire career of someone like Bromwich is shaped by an avoidance of Chomsky, Zinn, Finkelstein, etc. But then again, I don’t want to get Blankfort stirred up again. Mourn Zinn, listen to Chomsky, organize!

    • Cliff
      January 29, 2010, 7:58 am

      ‘Don’t mourn – organize!’ – is vigilant. Unflinching.

      Chomsky does not exude these sentiments when it comes to BDS, so not sure why you’re slighting Blankfort.

      And Fink is another issue. He left the Gaza March because he didn’t get his way. That is how one should look at that fiasco. Why? Because when will there be another Gaza March or something like it? He’s just going to catch the next train? Give me a f-ing break. The guy is self-centered. The March is about the Palestinians. And considering what it TOOK (unfortunately) to get a ‘March’ – he should have set aside what organizational differences/quibbles he had and went.

      That’s solidarity. But he left. Lame.

      I’ve yet to see Chomsky come out in support of BDS, as an act of solidarity. Even if it might not be ‘perfect’ (as he implies it should be, because he applies a double standard to Palestinians).

      What has the Palestinian resistance been (that we SEE)? Violent. Terrorism. (We know that there has been non-violent resistance too, but I mean what do we sense via the MSM. The trope of Palestinian resistance is suicide bombing, etc.)

      As soon as they figure out something to do that can pressure ‘Israel’ in the most just, efficient, practical way humans (and not some super-moral species that Chomsky implies we should be) – that is to say, do something against Israel that will have an impact and is an expression of their defiance of Israeli oppression and of Zionism (subjugation, racism, destruction – to the Palestinians; to Arabs) – he (Chomsky) suddenly starts slowing the momentum down.

      I think you disagree with Blankfort on other issues as well. I think you’re assuming you’ve bested him in exchanges over those OTHER issues. That ‘victory’ (from your perspective) informs the tone in which you make your above statements.

      Chomsky on the issue of the Lobby and BDS is a farrago if obfuscation, generalizations, and intellectual dishonesty.

      It’s a outright false to compare BDS to ‘breaking windows’.

  5. marc b.
    January 28, 2010, 11:37 am

    Their myopia is a sign of moral and intellectual decay. I know that Mooser won’t approve, but such a thing as a vital intellectual Jewish tradition did exist. At least it was the model that my father used for himself and his children, even though he was Roman Catholic. I don’t see the same gritty debate now, and the absence extends beyond the IP conflict. What has replaced it is same brittle, unimaginative discourse that was symptomatic of WASP entitlement and decadence, blended with smug, self-satisfaction. At least that’s how it appears in the MSM.

    As for ‘many American Jews’, if they wish to keep their head in the sand because any suggestion of imperfection would cause a psychological disturbance, that’s their right, but I have no interest in playing therapist or enabling them while they work out their issues. It’s time to ‘Lead, follow, or get the f*ck out of the way.’

  6. bigbill
    January 28, 2010, 11:53 am

    From an atheistic Darwinian perspective, nationalism makes perfect sense. As the Darwinian order translates into human relation, the order of loyalty is: first yourself, then your family, then your sept, then your clan, then your tribe, then your nation, and then (with whatever dregs are left) the world.

    As I explain to my daughter when she goes into a girlish globalist lecture, ” if you wish, I will be glad to give your college fund to some other, more deserving child such as a poor Haitian refugee. From a global perspective you already have way too much.”

    • Citizen
      January 28, 2010, 12:15 pm

      Bigbill, so what is your daughter’s response when you suggest deed is creed?
      She gets annoyed, she gets silent, she ignores you? She says, “Good, Daddy; I want to do my principled part–I’m willing to pay the price!”

    • potsherd
      January 28, 2010, 1:39 pm

      There was a piece a few days ago in iirc the NYT about a family who made the same challenge to their daughter – “What do you think we should do about it? Sell our house?”

      So they sold their house and gave half the proceeds to the relief of the needy, then discovered that they were happier in the smaller, less costly house.

      • Citizen
        January 28, 2010, 1:52 pm

        I read something similar in the St Petersburg Times.

      • potsherd
        January 28, 2010, 1:54 pm

        Yes, it was the NYT. link to nytimes.com

        Kristof’s nasty tone is typical of the breed.

  7. Citizen
    January 28, 2010, 11:59 am

    It seems to me that the most macro deduction one can make from Bromwich here is that ideology is always an adversary of objective truth in any matter. And that nobody gets to be a political leader by constantly looking for, and exposing, the full truth on any controversial issue. The same goes for
    academic tenure and academic recognition too often. That does not forecast much hope
    for a fair and objective solution to anything controversial.
    I guess it’s time for me to go read
    the Orwell essay Donald recommended.

    • Citizen
      January 28, 2010, 12:03 pm

      The sub-principle appears to be: you cannot make an omelet without breaking some eggs. So, it’s about means and ends; about the chosen means (chosen ignorance and amnesia) negatively affecting the (intended) ends. An endless horrid cycle in human affairs.

    • marc b.
      January 28, 2010, 12:18 pm

      There are a host of great essays by Orwell at that site. ‘Inside the Whale’ from his collection, ‘All Art is Propaganda’ is worth a read also.

  8. Sin Nombre
    January 28, 2010, 12:02 pm

    Strikes me as a deft historical analogy, but still overly gracious in missing something on *both* ends.

    To take the Soviet Union end, after a very little while in fact there could be no lack of real knowledge; despite Walter Duranty what was being done to the Ukraine was known, and even smuggled writings from the Gulag were popping out and etc., so things were getting known.

    It’s over-generous then to call them “unknown” murders or even “ignored” murders. As Auden far more precisely described the mindset I think, they became the “necessary” murders.

    Leave it to the poets….

  9. Citizen
    January 28, 2010, 12:07 pm

    Leave it to the poets:

    TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  10. James North
    January 28, 2010, 12:07 pm

    David Bromwich is persuasive, and right. Another, more recent example of willful blindness: people who don’t want to look too closely at the increasingly poor human rights record of Jen-Bertrand Aristide, the one-time reformist president of Haiti.

    • James North
      January 28, 2010, 12:17 pm

      Also, if Bromwich has changed his mind on this or other issues, more power to him. It shows intellectual and moral courage.

      • David Green
        January 28, 2010, 12:29 pm

        But really, there’s more than “pride” involved. It’s status as a public intellectual. Bromwich impresses me as doing what during Watergate was called a “modified, limited, hang-out.” There’s no reason to bring in Stalinists. They really had nothing in terms of status to gain or lose. They were honest ideologues. Bromwich’s colleagues at Dissent, TNR, etc. are more like opportunists. I’d like him to reference Michael Walzer and Mitchell Cohen, who maintain “respectability” in their narrow and ineffectual realm. They really have no principles whatsoever. Bromwich’s analysis isn’t really quite there yet, as a principled one.

      • VR
        January 29, 2010, 1:25 am

        Bromwich is doing what I said (below) at 10:15PM Mr. North, trying to move the bar to some other perceived collected “evil” as communism is portrayed. No one doubts the similarity in self-deception, it is just that the common mentality found among the Israelis is closer to colonial activity that did not arise from communism – but from a source closer to home.

        I did note and read you’re statements about Aristide, I am trying to figure out why you lift what he did from the context of the condition in Haiti. I do not claim to know your intentions, we could argue toe to toe for quite a long time, and when we are done all you would have done is show the gaping holes in the statements you made. If I were to surmise your reasoning I would say that it is this particular penchant I find here, not universal, which wishes to vilify anything that exposes the policies employed against Haiti and Aristide himself. I would imagine it to be some attempt to champion some of the distaste you seem to have for anything egalitarian, a wish to magnify the minors to make them major elements – in order to give some systemic validity to actions against him (maybe not). Let me assure you there is nothing noble about what has been done to Haiti nor its true leaders, and attempts to hide it smell like what was originally done to Toussaint L’ouverture – similar motivations?

    • marc b.
      January 28, 2010, 12:31 pm

      But Aristide was gotten rid of. How has his human rights record evolved since he was put on a plane out of Haiti? I mean this question sincerely.

      • VR
        January 29, 2010, 1:29 am

        The fact of the matter is marc b. that there has been nothing that has developed since his departure, and there was nothing developing during his abruptly halted service. I trust you get my meaning.

  11. Citizen
    January 28, 2010, 1:12 pm

    From Orwell (see Donald’s link above; Orwell discussing his broader criteria–this is one criteria he lists and delineates) for
    “nationalism” than is common, even today):

    “Indifference to Reality. All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side.”

    Methinks Dick Witty most especially as to regular commenters here on this blog, should read Orwell’s Notes On Nationalism–Orwell draws a portrait of Witty’s mind set that most regular commenters here would instantly recognize.

    • Donald
      January 28, 2010, 2:56 pm

      Yeah, that’s another one of the great lines in that essay. It’s really one of the best essays ever written on the subject of human rights and how people treat them. All of us need to read it, but obviously some of us are much deeper in that ideological mindtrap than others–RW is a picture perfect example.

      I sent that essay along with some info about the I/P conflict to an Islamophobic friend (a Christian Zionist) during the Gaza War. He thought it was a fascinating piece and thanked me for sending it. And it had not the slightest effect on his viewpoint.

      • Citizen
        January 28, 2010, 4:39 pm

        “And it had not the slightest effect on his viewpoint.”
        Never underestimate the power of a notion (secular or religious) that allows one to think they are more than the self; superman comes in many forms. Who can stand
        more than a comic book version of the world they find themselves in? Look at
        what the needy Nazis did with Nietzsche (who drove himself insane with his truth-seeking).

  12. potsherd
    January 28, 2010, 2:13 pm

    Here, in honor of his passing, is a link to Howard Zinn’s “The Poisons of Nationalism”
    link to tikkun.org

    • Sin Nombre
      January 28, 2010, 3:57 pm


      I know it might take us afield from the immediate topic but as I know Zinn only by vague reputation could you perhaps tell me what he thought nationalism had wrongly displaced, or what he would replace it with? I’d be interested.

      • Citizen
        January 28, 2010, 4:58 pm

        Just from the article Potsherd referenced, it seems Zinn would replace ethnic nationalism
        with multi-ethnic nationalism in the former Palestine Mandate land. The one-state solution. Zinn said that Einstein and Buber’s ultimate take on how to approach
        nationalism was key: if you don’t give “the Other” the same respect you deem your self entitle to, that’s a recipe for disaster that seems never to grow old.

        Israel is much younger than the USA, and so has not come as far in terms of enhancing such respect for the Other; OTH, Israel was born as a state after
        the lessons of WW2, the cost of WW2, and the Nuremberg Trials. Israel still
        lives in the 19th Century although it is a product of the mid-20th Century. It is unforgivable that the USA enables the dinosaur to thrive. Where’s Shelly’s wife when we need her? Oh, she must be studying The Golem from the sky.

      • potsherd
        January 28, 2010, 5:00 pm
      • America First
        January 28, 2010, 7:02 pm

        I hope Phil will blog on Zinn. I have something awesome but would hate to bury it here.

      • Sin Nombre
        January 28, 2010, 8:40 pm

        Well thank you potsherd, and Citizen too.

  13. MHughes976
    January 28, 2010, 6:10 pm

    Since I am persuaded that Zionism is a false ideology, Zionists to me are other. To what extent can I respect otherness in the form of views and ideas that I cannot accept or in the form of people who advocate these ideas? The answer about the ideas and the answer about the people may be rather different, but both questions are tricky. It’s equally tricky for those on the other side of the question, I suppose, but they tend to make things easy for themselves by calling the ‘other’ the ‘anti-Semite’.

  14. Les
    January 28, 2010, 6:11 pm

    I knew of someone from a Jewish communist family background here who believed what she heard female Jewish doctors say in the 1960’s that anti-Semitism no longer existed in the USSR. She became quite bitter and turned right wing when she learned otherwise. I asked long after how she could have ever believed that anything that was so deeply rooted in Russia as anti-Semitism could have been so quickly and so completely eliminated. All of us are quite capable of believing things that are not true and never were true. Usually those are trivial matters but not always.

    • JSC
      January 28, 2010, 7:24 pm

      This is true of my experiences with Russian Jews as well. They are notorious for being right-wing today.

  15. Julian
    January 28, 2010, 6:35 pm

    To sum it up David. The left is usually wrong and very stupid. I agree with your sentiment.

    • RoHa
      January 28, 2010, 8:01 pm

      “The left is usually wrong and very stupid.”


      And the right is usually evil as well as wrong and equally stupid.


    • Chaos4700
      January 29, 2010, 8:28 am

      Any luck finding those WMDs in Iraq yet, Julian? How’s the Bush bank bailout plan that Obama so brilliantly continued working out for you? Just another of example of how right the right has been, huh?

      Neocons. It’s like we need to come up with a whole new sublevel of IQ bracket for them.

  16. syvanen
    January 28, 2010, 7:29 pm

    The analogy between the refusal of western communists to recognize the realities of Stalinist Russia with primarily American Jews refusal to accept the realities of Israeli oppression is a good one. However, it should be pointed out that the deceptions among the communists was not as widespread as you seem to imply. In 1939 membership in the CPUSA exceed 100,000 and maybe was as high as 150,000. It began to lose members from that point on such that by 1956 (a year that saw about 2/3’s loss of membership) the number was below 20,000. By 1964 it was at 4,000. Disillusion with the Soviet Union was the primary reason for this collapse. The vast majority of leftists outside of the Party had very little sympathy for the Soviet Union. What is so impressive with support for Israel and the attendant denial of reality has remained unbroken for 60 years.

    • Citizen
      January 29, 2010, 5:28 am

      Why do you think it has remained unbroken for 60 years? You mean in the USA, and Germany? Anywhere else? England?

  17. MRW
    January 28, 2010, 8:33 pm

    OT…but necessary to draw your attention to it.

    Philip Giraldi, ex-CIA 20-25 year official who speaks about five languages and was ex-station chief in a bunch of places overseas, skewered David Brook’s ‘aren’t we Jews all just deliciously smart and successful’ recent NYT op-ed in a new post today. A great read:
    Stealing Success Tel Aviv Style
    link to original.antiwar.com

    • potsherd
      January 28, 2010, 8:44 pm

      Very disturbing to read about the number of espionage cases dropped against Israelis. Talk about treason in high places.

      • MRW
        January 28, 2010, 8:50 pm

        Yeah, potsherd, it makes your blood boil to read it, doesn’t it? I dont pay taxes to have shit like this happen. This is fucking whacked. Period.

    • MRW
      January 28, 2010, 8:45 pm

      The thing that pisses me off the most about what Giraldi wrote is this: The 2005 [FBI] report concluded that the [Israeli] thefts eroded US military advantage, enabling foreign powers to obtain expensive technologies that had taken years to develop.

      Israel stole our most advanced military technology — paid for with US taxpayer dollars — reverse engineered it, resold it, undercut us, and destroyed our competitive advantage.

      • yonira
        January 28, 2010, 8:49 pm

        What did they steal MRW?

      • yonira
        January 28, 2010, 8:51 pm

        Do you know how ridiculous of an accusation is? Israel stole technology and then what, the US found out it was stolen and then decided to pay for it to be produced by Israel?

        Got any examples?

      • MRW
        January 28, 2010, 8:53 pm

        Read the article, Yonira. It was written for you. Giraldi’s bonafides are impeccable, so check them out while you’re hyperventilating.

      • yonira
        January 28, 2010, 9:08 pm

        again I ask, where is the proof? antiwar.com is about as believable as Presstv

        how about a website or source w/ out an agenda.

      • MRW
        January 28, 2010, 9:13 pm

        For crissake. DID YOU CHECK OUT WHO PHILIP GIRALDI IS? antiwar is a news aggregator. What the hell does that have to do with believability?

        Yonira, this has been documented and reported on for over 20 years. It is your job to do your own homework here instead of sticking your finger in your cheek, pursing your lips, and looking heavenward while you sing ‘oh, how ridiculous’!

        I’m not spending an hour finding the links for you because I don’t give a shit whether you know this or not, nor whether you believe me or not. You are, in general, extremely poorly read, but there’s nothing I can do about that: that’s your job to fix. You can start by searching Jane’s Defense Weekly and military sites. If you know how to use Google, use more than two words.

        You can also follow links on Colonel Pat Lang’s site — there are several posts — about Stewart Nozette who is currently on trial for spying for Israel, and was caught red-handed giving classified military secrets to Israel. This time, many in the Pentagon are pissed, so the trial might go forward:
        link to turcopolier.typepad.com

      • MRW
        January 28, 2010, 9:21 pm

        Since you dont appear to know this, Yonira…..Ex-CIA officials, and Giraldi was a significant one, cannot write what Giraldi wrote in that article without it being the truth. He would go to jail. He can’t give the details, but he cannot make the statements he made in that article without the information already being in the public domain, and without it also being the truth.

      • MRW
        January 28, 2010, 9:27 pm

        In other words, Yonira, there are court documents, declassified government reports, and declassified military reports, affidavits, and briefs that back up what Giraldi states as fact. The CIA allows him to write about info in the public domain, but it must be the truth. Dont believe me? Call the CIA and ask.

      • yonira
        January 28, 2010, 9:43 pm

        I am poorly read because I don’t read conspiracy blogs? nice, and thanks for another link to a shit blog.

      • potsherd
        January 28, 2010, 10:26 pm

        Convenient, isn’t it, to have such a nice excuse to continue wallowing in your ignorance.

      • MRW
        January 28, 2010, 11:16 pm

        Especially when Ms. Ignoramus calls Col. Lang’s blog a shit blog. Quick Col. Lang bio from HuffPo:

        Colonel W. Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets). He served in the Department of Defense both as a serving officer and then as a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service for many years. He is a highly decorated veteran of several of America’s overseas conflicts including the war in Vietnam. He was trained and educated as a specialist in the Middle East by the U.S. Army and served in that region for many years. He was the first Professor of the Arabic Language at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. In the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) he was the “Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism,” and later the first Director of the Defense Humint Service.” For his service in DIA, he was awarded the “Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive.” This is the equivalent of a British knighthood. He is an analyst consultant for many television and radio broadcasts, among them the Jim Lehrer “Newshour.”

      • Sin Nombre
        January 29, 2010, 2:16 am

        Just as a parenthetical while I agree Lang’s blog isn’t total shit my opinion is that Lang himself is a pedestrian thinker who rides on the misleading shine that comes from his overly-impressive sounding past jobs, and that he gets off on the military hero-worshipers who of course are all impressed with him but pollute his site somewhat.

        The DIA is of course just another bureaucracy, mostly concerned with tactical stuff and not grand strategic thinking, not exactly impressive for its competence even at the former (witness Iraq and Afghanistan), and Lang was never in the top echelon there anyway. (Conspicuously never making one-star General even.)

        Moreover, it’s hilarious that when we see a guy with allegedly impressive credentials who we agree with, boy those credentials seem so impressive. When we see a guy we don’t agree with who has even more impressive credentials however—think Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey or etc.—we rightly note that there’s lots of people get impressive sounding jobs for lots of various reasons and you can’t trust such things for shit, and that the only thing you can rely on is the weight of what they say and not their past job titles or even medals.

        Same with Lang: Never seen anything from him that struck me as really penetrating or surprising, or even particularly insightful. Not dumb, but never transcending what you’d expect from a mid-level bureaucrat either, and indeed less than what you can find from many.

        Plus, what got me especially with Lang and indeed the reason the mention of him got my keyboard moving here is that while one can like the take he has on his blog about U.S.— Israeli relations, it was funny watching him on the PBS Newshour: Every time I watched it at least, gee, he suddenly seemed be struck mute as regards those particular opinions. Maybe I missed it otherwise, but despite lots of opportunities I never once saw him give voice there to anything near what he blogs on the issue. After awhile my opinion became that the alleged lion-hearted was trimming his sails out of an unwillingness to become the kind of target Walt and Mearsheimer have become. Not saying it was cowardly, but pissed me off to see one more guy who, when it came to Israel, couldn’t muster the vinegar to say what he really felt. Esp. a former milit. guy supposedly unconcerned with what “polite” society thinks.

        One particular thing he wrote when he was clearly trying to show some intellectual chops also really struck me: Saw an article in some foreign policy mag. where, if memory serves, his idea of grand strategic thinking was to say that what the ME moslem states really needed wasn’t some understanding from the West, or some acknowledgement that they have a different culture and have a right to same or etc., but instead a sort of … Congress of Vienna amongst *themselves* especially.

        Struck me at least as desperately, (and ridiculously failingly), reaching for intellectual credentials by draping some incoherent idea with the cloak of some famous historical example—which example is then shown to be only shallowly understood anyway. As if … unlike the European states that gathered under Metternich, et. al., the *main* problem facing the ME moslem states isn’t the conflict with the West and Israel, but instead withsome conflicts between *themselves.*

        I.e, kind of … conventionally and totally blaming the arabs as I read it. And, once again outside his blog, what a different sound the Colonel makes when it comes to Israel, to me at least.

      • Chaos4700
        January 29, 2010, 8:33 am

        LOL! Yonira the rabid neocon.

        yonira: “Show me the evidence to back up your accusation!”
        MRW: “Okay, it’s right here in this link, and it’s backed up by court records.”
        yonira: “Court records?! I’m not going to read some conspiracy blog” *garbage mouth spew follows*

        It’s like reliving the Bush presidency all over again, isn’t it?

      • MRW
        January 29, 2010, 9:04 am

        Actually, Chaos, I’ve become convinced over the last few days that yonira is a 14-15 year old kid — even though I remember him claiming somewhere here that he was 23 or something — and I feel a little badly for the hammer. He has zero, zip, reading comprehension ability. None. Zilch. He can’t read the links we give him and devise what he’s read. Every response is that same smart-alecky ‘hey guys’ show me the proof and how can you all be so stupid blah blah shit shit high-schooley drivel. I mean, Cliff is 24. There is no comparison in intellectual power or knowledge of the world. Cliff’s grasp of language and argument is light years ahead of this kid. There is no way they can be the same age. Impossible. And yonira’s response to mental stimuli here is on a high-school emotional level.

      • Colin Murray
        January 29, 2010, 9:31 am

        I try not to agree with people from either side when tones are excessively combative. However, in this case MRW and you aren’t simply yelling past each other. He is 100% right, and you are 100% wrong. Have you even looked at antiwar.com before dismissing it as conspiracy theory nonsense? Did you check Mr. Giraldi’s credentials? You aren’t just sticking your head in the sand, you are digging a bunker in the sand and crawling in face first.

      • MRW
        January 29, 2010, 10:18 am

        Colin Murray,

        Antiwar is conspiracy theory nonsense?
        It publishes authors from Uri Avnery to Pat Buchanan, Juan Cole to John Pilger, Sibel Edmonds to Gabriel Kolko. You consider those people conspiracy theorists???? I’m shocked. It’s a news aggregator, in the main, publishing daily links to every major news and media outlet worldwide. What? because the site owner writes his own columns, that makes him a conspiracy theorist? Because he’s antiwar?

        And have I checked Giraldi’s credentials? Absolutely. Years ago. He is an ex CIA officer who speaks five languages, was station chief overseas, and is a partner with Vincent Cannistraro (Sp?) — check Cannistraro out. Also writes for the same mag that Steve McConnell here on Mondoweiss writes for. The American Conservative. Phil occasionally writes for this magazine.

        I have absolutely no idea what you are referring to.

  18. UNIX
    January 28, 2010, 9:07 pm

    Many would say this is a _good_ thing because if more American Jews knew of Goldstone and his report, they would oppose vociferously.

    • Chaos4700
      January 29, 2010, 8:35 am

      Isn’t it anti-Semitic to imply that most American Jews support crimes against humanity by opting to cover up the evidence and slander a noted Jewish jurist?

      • Citizen
        January 29, 2010, 9:56 am

        The brain disconnects for many Jews when it comes to Israel. Mooser says it’s a result of injections or sniffing of ziocain–good metaphor. Unpleasant results for Americans
        and the world, but what the hey–since when does a druggie care about anybody?

  19. Kathleen
    January 28, 2010, 9:10 pm

    “Many American Jews who are liberals, supporters of Israel, and generally well informed about events of the day suppress their knowledge of Israel-Palestine to a second-rate level of almost innocence. An inadequacy which (out of pride) they wouldn’t allow themselves in approaching any other subject. They do it because they are afraid if they knew more, they would have to condemn much of Israel’s conduct toward the Palestinians.”

    This would apply to most of our congress members also.


  20. VR
    January 28, 2010, 10:15 pm

    Parallels can be made from anyone suffering from a form of self-deception, one does not necessarily how to draw the analogy from individuals who refused to see how communism devolved to a fatal centralism. Actually anyone can read for themselves the works of Lenin, and see if they bear any resemblance to what was formed in the former Soviet Union.

    The reason why the author made the comparison is because of the rife ignorance still extent in the states in regard to the early formulations of communism. Ask any ignorant and they will give you some cock and bull story about how the two form a seamless cloth, a totally spurious conclusion borne from the rabid fear of capitalism and its deadening system. Wishing to bury any reality which might undo their monopoly of the few, that for some reason, US nationalists seem to be totally oblivious to – we will wait for the soup lines to see if there is any epiphany. However, many cannot even discern a move to reinforce their ignorance.

    The fact of the matter is what Israel does is strikingly fascist, and the analogy, if we can call it this (because it is exactly the same thing) is colonialism, which finds much more common ground in the elitist soil of capitalistic enterprise – not communism. Whereas we find communist centralism assaulting their own people, we find the foreign policy of the euro-American capitalism demonizing and attacking the “other.” Just as worthy of criticism and condemnation as an errant communism (which eventually bore no resemblance to its roots), but even more so those settler states and their foreign policy escapades (it even grew from this activity, not communism).

    • Shmuel
      January 29, 2010, 3:44 am

      VR: The reason why the author made the comparison is because of the rife ignorance still extent in the states in regard to the early formulations of communism.

      That may or may not be the case, although you are certainly right about the ignorance. You are also right that a similar comparison could be made with just about any powerful ideology. Maybe a comparison with imperialism would have been more accurate (I’m reading Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism, and the dissonance is indeed very similar), but the similarities between attitudes and feelings about Zionism (outside of Israel) and attitudes and feelings about Communism (outside the Soviet Union) are striking – despite the many differences – and so are worth making: a controversial utopian fantasy, realised in a far-away country, in which a lot of hopes and emotions are invested. Whether the uncomfortable truths are inherent or a later development or an aberration of the original ideals (many disillusioned liberal Zionists will swear it’s one of the latter possibilities), it does bring to mind the situation of many Communists around the world, prior to Khrushchev’s revelations (and for some, even after).

      As with the Soviet Union, sobering up may come after a trip to Israel or even a period of living there – although the Zionist coverup and illusion (in a sense, not unlike most contemporary pseudo-democracies) are far more sophisticated, making pretense all the easier.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        January 29, 2010, 4:55 am

        I very much agree. Popper directly attacked the idea of utopian engineering, however benign the vision was. I think that’s a healthy attitude. It is always possible to interpret failure of the utopian plan as ‘they’ should have done a better job of it’, also for those who experience the effects firsthand. Belief in a utopian plan can’t be proven wrong.

      • VR
        January 29, 2010, 9:38 pm

        I personally am amused by many who speak about the delusional aspect of communism’s adherents and supporters (on the other hand I am an anarchist), especially as if, lets say in the USA, that is their vantage point. On the contrary, I find life in the USA to be totally delusional in many aspects, the ignorance is not only rife about communism but about their own existence and reality in the world. So, I find it hard, to say in the least, that the “back yard” view of most in the US is a clear vantage point for accessing delusion.

        I suppose if we relegate the delusion to outsiders than it can almost be guaranteed by the sheer distance and inexperience of those outside (as you said). When you talk about the cover up in Israel I do not find it unlike that which takes place in the USA, I find that Israel is a good student of deception. In fact, I find the one (deception) supports the other (US – Israeli), and the similarity in the two sort of compliment each other, and that is why it is so easy for the American to accept the Israeli delusion out of hand.

        When you talk about “utopia,” I find it is easier to accept a definition of what utopia is supposed to be, and therefore it dissuades the resistance of the people. There is nothing easier than swallowing and accepting elite ideas, not only for a people who are oppressed (and have no idea they are in a class war) but for those profiting most from the “ideas.” This reduces naturally into religious deception about the “nature” of man, when the destruction and strife arises by the will of the few – both the religious and what is currently occurring by elite agitation, is swallowed whole as “the way things are supposed to be.” One can wax eloquent philosophically about utopia, and religiously about the nature of man, and they both come from the same fount. It is the inability to recognize this, expose it, and route it that make men the captives of the powerful few, and it has been present from ancient kingdoms, to feudalism, and on to capitalism (which has also had the same predominant characteristic, the enrichment of the few).

  21. VR
    January 29, 2010, 10:03 pm

    The very mechanism of isolation and ostracizing is an act of elite formulation. It has been used since the beginning of time, whether it be for the purposes of war and strife (to divide and conquer) or to maintain the idea of an enemy and dissuade men from reaching and grasping for their freedom, their liberation. However, what you are left with is domination by the few when you say there is no other way and posit any other way as “utopia.” This is because, if it is the way things are supposed to be, and it arises from the nature of man, then you need force and domination to control humanity.

    Let me give you a link, I have given it before because of its simplicity. Now, you may not like the way Omali Yeshitela communicates his point, and say that he seems somewhat crude, but it does not matter because he helps people understand what is taking place. He couches it in the frame work of “white power,” but who can blame him? Racism is another one of those elite forms of division, the idea of superiority of one race above another, and so on. Anyhow, listen to it all the way through, where he starts out talking about elite interests, and ends with what it takes to control a system like this –


  22. VR
    January 29, 2010, 11:18 pm

    In fact, the aspersions of “communism” reached its apex during the McCarthy hearings and other similar witch hunts. Perhaps one of the best examples of trying to stop any change for the people, was the accusation of communism. This is similar to the Utopian charge, that you will meet the same fate, or, you will push the people eventually into this same position of being brutalized that communism produced. Take the example of RFK when he put Hoffa on trial, it was embedded – this accusation of being a communist – that it was used like a hammer against anyone who wanted to break the back of this elite entourage and the wake of poverty left in their power.


    The accusations are always made to retard the progress of the people, and by the look of things today, the acceleration of disenfranchisement, it looks like they have succeeded –


    It of course have even gotten worse than this, where the peoples wage has been frozen since the 1970’s in America. Now the whole scheme crashes, and it cannot get back up (wait for the second economic dip), because you cannot have a recovery without the people. What might be asked is “a recovery of what?” So you see, you must watch out for utopia.

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