Dithering is the last refuge of the apologist

on 61 Comments

A few weeks ago, I came across an opinion article in the New York Times called “Chosen, but Not Special” by Michael Chabon. It didn’t lie outright, like Charles Krauthammer blithely stating that there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza or IDF spokesmen claiming activists on the Mavi Marmara had ties to Al Qaeda.

What Michael Chabon was doing was much more subtle. Realizing he had no way of rationally or legally defending Israel’s violent takeover of unarmed civilian ships in the dead of night in international waters, the utterly preventable killing of nine civilians, and the kidnapping of hundreds more activists and theft of their ships and belongings, he instead resorted to the last refuge of the apologist: Dithering.

If you haven’t read the article, here’s the gist: Jews are very clever, but only anti-Semites believe Jews are so clever that they don’t make mistakes now and then. Israel was a little blockheaded when it came to this whole flotilla thing, but that’s OK, nobody’s perfect.

He says nothing about the need for an independent international investigation, much less any censure of Israel for its ‘blockheadedness.’ The victims of Israel’s behavior—the besieged people of Gaza, the families of the Turks killed and wounded, the thousands of Palestinians rotting in Israeli jails on political or fabricated charges—merit not a mention, apparently unworthy of the subterranean stream of pity he has for the lone Israeli combatant held by Palestinians or even of his condescending pity for the Turkish victims (whom he churlishly calls “the wasted dead with their cargo of lumber and delusions”).

Chabon’s self-involved dithering is one of many methods of taking the spotlight off Israel’s actions and responsibilities when the truth begins to cut too close to home. Another is the old stand-by, changing the subject to China’s repression of Tibet or Saudi Arabia’s repression of women and accusing of anti-Semitism anyone who dares ‘single out’ Israel when other people are doing bad things, too.

As Desmond Tutu said, “Divestment from apartheid South Africa was certainly no less justified because there was repression elsewhere on the African continent.” If global citizens can band together to right a wrong, it’s a positive thing, even if they can’t simultaneously right every other wrong in the world, too. No car thief has ever, as far as I know, been acquitted after saying, “But other people steal cars and get away with it all the time!”

We can ignore Israel’s crimes, which we are complicit in, and talk about the crimes of others instead. But this would make us dictionary-definition hypocrites.

Other apologists insist things are too complicated for anyone without a PhD in Middle Eastern studies to work out for herself, so we should remain ‘neutral.’ On the face of it, this sounds reasonable. It’s a sign of evolved rationality not to act too quickly, to learn as much as you can before taking a leap. This conflict is anything but simple, and our media paints a dim and largely one-sided picture that most Americans can’t make much sense of.

Still, it has never been easier to find ample evidence of Israeli violations of international law that cannot be explained or justified on security grounds, and to see that Israel is virtually never held accountable by any impartial legal system. Which means that being ‘neutral’ in this case is a bit like being ‘neutral’ during Jim Crow days. Under the system at the time, the courts and the media were anything but neutral, and white people were virtually guaranteed of getting away with discriminating against or even killing black people, no matter the circumstances.

The siege of Gaza, for example, is an act of collective punishment, which is manifestly illegal and, as many Israeli analysts have pointed out, only strengthens Hamas. Judge Goldstone’s report on Israel’s relentless bombing of Gaza in early 2009 that killed 1,400 people, including over 300 children, is available on the world wide web. The International Court of Justice ruled the route of Israel’s Wall built on Palestinian land illegal in 2004, yet Israel continues to build wherever it pleases. Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem are constantly threatened with demolition while Jewish settlements nearby go up at breakneck speed in an open attempt to ‘Judaize’ the occupied eastern half of the city.

In the southern Hebron hills, the settlers’ chickens are allowed more water and electricity than the Palestinians living in the area. Students are denied the right to study where they please, Gazan cancer patients can’t access life-saving treatment, and a father of three with an American wife was recently shot and killed under deeply suspicious circumstances by Israeli police in East Jerusalem, so far with no repercussions. Overall, Israel’s theft and violence have only increased as the Second Intifada wound down and Israeli body counts dwindled almost to nothing.

These were just a few outrages that came to mind first, with thousands more crowding behind them in plain sight. Ignorance is no longer a valid excuse for inaction.

No amount of dithering can mask the fact that Israel illegally boarded civilian boats in international waters on May 31, killed nine people, and kidnapped 600 more in waters where they had no jurisdiction. No amount of whataboutery can hide the fact that Israel engages in ethnic cleansing when it tears down Palestinian neighborhoods to build Jewish ones. No amount of ‘easing the blockade of Gaza’ can gloss over the fact that Israel’s control over an entire civilian population—the occupation itself—is intolerable. Even the West Bank, which for strategic reasons Israel has been treating better than Gaza, knows everything can crumble in a second at the whim of Israel.

Nicholas Kristof put it plainly in the New York Times: “The Israeli occupation of the West Bank is widely acknowledged to be unsustainable and costly to the country’s image. But one more blunt truth must be acknowledged: the occupation is morally repugnant.”

In the face of these bare truths, it’s natural for supporters of Israel’s government to resort to dithering, changing the subject, or fatuously claiming ‘neutrality’ while our country arms Israel, provides it with preferential trade relations, and protects it from international law. These are the only defenses they have left.

It’s our job not to let them get away with it. Silence, in this case, is complicity. As we speak, on our watch, good people are dying and millions more are living without basic freedoms. Doing nothing effectively supports the status quo of allowing Israel’s government to operate with impunity in our name.

If you have a chance, however small, to boycott or divest from companies that profit from the occupation or events that effectively whitewash the occupation, take it. It’s already having an effect, and it’s one of the few effective non-violent ways to make the occupation more costly to Israel than ending the occupation, as long as American and European governments apply no sanctions and enforce no laws.

Next time Israel guns down civilians, bombs a UN compound, or destroys a Palestinian neighborhood, don’t be shy about demanding swift action, impartial international investigations, and accountability. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s ‘too complicated’ for a mere mortal like you to know enough to follow your conscience on the anti-Apartheid struggle of our generation.

Pamela Olson doubts she can convince the unconvinced with one short article. To that end, she is writing a book called Fast Times in Palestine, which seeks to relieve the burden (and excuse) of ignorance in a way that is comprehensive, enjoyable, and universally-accessible.

61 Responses

  1. Richard Witty
    July 1, 2010, 8:29 pm

    How could she convince anyone but the converted with that rant?

    Another litany.

    • Saleema
      July 2, 2010, 12:34 am

      You are getting very bitchy lately. What’s up?

      • Donald
        July 2, 2010, 12:47 am

        “You can’t convince anyone” is Witty’s way of avoiding the issues–he generally can’t think of good counterarguments, so he pretends he’s the impartial judge and without actually displaying any reasoning, he renders his decision.

      • Richard Witty
        July 2, 2010, 4:32 am

        I so wish you would talk about the issues, Donald.

      • Shingo
        July 2, 2010, 8:29 am

        We so wish you would leave this forum and focus on your own blog Witty.

      • Donald
        July 2, 2010, 10:38 am

        “I so wish you would talk about the issues, Donald.”

        No you don’t, because I have and you ignore it. When anyone gives you detailed responses that you can’t refute you ignore the details and just say you haven’t been convinced. I have a creationist friend who pulled the same stunt over and over again until I finally gave up. It’s a defense mechanism employed by people who at some level realize they can’t refute what people say, so they act as though saying “You haven’t convinced me” is an argument in itself. It’s not. It’s a rhetorical tool anyone could use to deflect any argument whatsoever, valid or not.

      • Donald
        July 2, 2010, 10:46 am

        Incidentally, Richard, Pamela typed up this long post filled with issues and your response was to insult her. Way to deal with issues, Richard.

      • James
        July 2, 2010, 11:02 am

        witty you are a bigger fool then i have previously given you credit for… check your post at the top for a closer look at a complete avoidance of the issue at hand.. dithering is your specialty..

      • Chu
        July 2, 2010, 11:09 am

        I’ve come to the conclusion that Witty is insane. He comes to this site daily to get a complete ass-kicking and returns for more. His points are rubbish and it’s like he lives in a vacuum.

        Hophmi makes points that I disagree with, but they are clear points. Not witty psycho-babble.

      • Shingo
        July 2, 2010, 4:43 pm

        I agree.

        Homphi at least makes an attempt at intelligent debate and uses sources, where Witty simply makes shit up on the fly, like definitions or terrorism of example, but never provides sources.

        I say we boot Witty.

      • Richard Witty
        July 3, 2010, 5:33 am

        I think my original point was the most accurate.

        Early, it looked like you were interested in other perspectives than your own, than a radical one.

        Now it seems that all you are interested in as adherence to Pavlovian conditioning of litanies.

        For a long time, I’ve considered the far left approach to Israel/Palestine to be as much an effort at conformity as an effort to dissent.

        Your (and Pamela’s) descriptions of “issues” is a rationalization to hatchet (a verb).

        You’re up to “which side are you on?” led by a vanguard of official political opinion. You’ve abandoned appealing to liberals (either the or a prospective majority).

        The only formula in which that applies humanely, is the one in which BDS and all non-violent civil disobedience is sensitive to the other (more than sensitive) and disciplined.

        And, that conflicts with the reality of dissent which rationalizes that it values “resistance” only, but proposes a pendulum swing to suppression.

        Pamela’s “journalism” doesn’t compare in integrity with Chabon’s.

      • Shingo
        July 5, 2010, 8:29 pm

        “I think my original point was the most accurate.”

        I’m sure you do Witty, but you as a deluded racists extremist, that self endorsement carries very little weight.

        “For a long time, I’ve considered the far left approach to Israel/Palestine to be as much an effort at conformity as an effort to dissent.”

        When you don’t like criticism of Israel or a suggestion as to how to deal with the conflict, you either criticize it as not being a widely held view or you criticize it for being conformist.  You want it both ways, becasue ultimately, you cannot find a way to rebuke the criticism or the suggestions without exposing your racism and ethnic supremacist ideology.

        “You’re up to “which side are you on?” led by a vanguard of official political opinion.”

        Yes Witty, this coming from someone who maintains that anything other than blanket condemnation of Hamas procluides those views.

        “You’ve abandoned appealing to liberals (either the or a prospective majority).”

        How would you know Witty?  You’re no liberal.

        “The only formula in which that applies humanely, is the one in which BDS and all non-violent civil disobedience is sensitive to the other (more than sensitive) and disciplined.”

        Yes Witty,. we’ve heard thsi bullshit before.  We must be sensitive to Israel, even while Israel massacres women and children and inflicts collective punishmnt on 1.5 million Gazans.

        “And, that conflicts with the reality of dissent which rationalizes that it values “resistance” only, but proposes a pendulum swing to suppression.”

        The word salad of the say from Witty’s menu.

        “Pamela’s “journalism” doesn’t compare in integrity with Chabon’s.”

        You denigratino of Pamela’s “journalism” standards as the finest endorsement she could have, such is the deparavity of your reputation on this blog.

      • Mooser
        July 2, 2010, 10:09 am

        “You are getting very bitchy lately. What’s up?”

        He’s just a little peevish because the flood of commenters rushing to endorse his views and espouse his positions, (if they’re expert contortionists and spastic, to boot) is making it hard for Witty’s own comments to get through. And the demands for his time to keynote luncheons, dinners and prayer breakfasts will inevitably leave some prominent organisations disappointed.

      • Sumud
        July 2, 2010, 10:25 am

        So much pontificating to do, so little time!

    • potsherd
      July 2, 2010, 10:22 am

      From the witties and the witless

      Libera nos Domine

  2. hayate
    July 1, 2010, 8:32 pm

    Pamela Olson

    You nailed it.

  3. Oscar
    July 1, 2010, 8:33 pm

    Wow, great essay, Pamela. Can you make certain Michael Chabon gets a copy? He’s one of our most talented novelists, but his navel-gazing dithering in the NYT was like nails on a chalkboard given the context of the death of nine civilians aboard the flotilla.

  4. Mooser
    July 1, 2010, 8:45 pm

    Gee, only anti-Semites think Jews are so clever they never make mistakes, but if you think Zionism is a mistake you’re an anti-Semite. Okay.

    • hayate
      July 1, 2010, 9:02 pm


      If you say Jewish people make mistakes, you are also an antisemite. Whatever you say, you will be an antisemite. And don’t go thinking “well, I’ll say nuttin then”, it will be assumed you are thinking antisemitic thoughts, thoughts too ‘orrible to even vocalise. Haven’t you figured it out yet?

    • annie
      July 2, 2010, 11:00 am

      Gagged! Canada boycotts criticism of Israel

      In March, the legislature of Ontario unanimously condemned an annual awareness event called Israeli Apartheid Week, which is spreading across university campuses to educate students about the injustices of Israeli occupation and blockade. The lawmakers supported the resolution because “the use of the word apartheid” incites “hatred against Israel” and may “actually cross over that line” into illegal hate speech.
      This is where we become alarmed. While the CPCCA is always quick to avow that legitimate criticism of Israel does not fall within the scope of anti-Semitism, comments from their leadership and actual policy decisions they have affected tell a different story.

      One of the founders of this movement, Irwin Cotler, has repeatedly described the state of Israel as “the collective Jew,” with the troubling implication that criticism of the state subversively becomes slander of the Jewish identity. To the point, Cotler defines one of the most pernicious forms of the new anti-Semitism as any “indictment of Israel as an apartheid state.” He argues that this “involves the call for the dismantling of Israel as an apartheid state, because under international law apartheid is defined as a crime against humanity.” Again, this is the disingenuous leap from condemnation of occupation and blockade to denial of Israel’s right to exist.

      As one witness mused before the hearings, while not all critics of Israel are anti-Jewish, “How do you parse out those who are anti-Semites? It’s very difficult,” he explains, because policy criticism “allows people to engage in a debate where ostensibly it’s about Israel and Palestine, but in reality it’s about anti-Semitism.”

      (ed note: !!!!!!!!!!!!!)

      Addressing this question, Jason Kenny, a cabinet minister with the federal government and prominent member of the CPCCA, told the hearings, “language that draws a parallel between Israel and the illegitimate criminal regime of the apartheid South African state, for example, I find that to be crossing the line towards a kind of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.”

      poor canada

      • James
        July 2, 2010, 11:05 am

        these idiot conservatives here in canada are more insane then many realize… harper still wants to be like bush 2, in spite of his fall from grace a very long time ago… i find it amazing actually how anyone could hold any respect for these politicians responsible for this bullshit.. as you can see, i certainly don`t!!

      • Mooser
        July 2, 2010, 11:34 am

        “I find that to be crossing the line towards a kind of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.”

        Get a rope! “Crossing the line towards a kind of” is a capital crime!

        Look, I remember the Cold War. When Americans start talking worse about Jews and Israelis than they did towards “the Russians” I’ll get concerned. As I remember, there was never any kind of line to cross between hating Communism, or even the sins of the Russian Communist regime and hating Russians, and Russia generally. Nor was it ever considered anything unusual to condemn every person in Russia as a demented, fanatic, murderous, deceitful Bolshevik.
        And nobody seemed to mind.
        Again, when people start saying worse things about Israel than they said about Russia and the Russians during the Cold War, I’ll get worried.
        And if I use for a standard what Americans say about their own non-white fellow citizens I will live a life free from anti-Semitic anxiety.

        Yeah, “the American convention of hostility toward Jews”! Oh, how it eats at us! Yopu Gentiles shouldn’t know from such higher anxiety! “Did I only get into this top=flight school because I’m Jewish?” “Did they hire me because I’m Jewish?” “Did I get this promotion only because I’m Jewish?” You have no idea how this eats at a guy’s soul, makes him suspicious of everybody. It’s terrible.
        This syndrome even has a name, it’s called the Philo Kvetch.

      • MRW
        July 2, 2010, 12:18 pm

        Irwin Cotler is the head of the JDL, which was determined 20 years ago here in the USA to be a terrorist group. The FBI called it a terrorist group in its 2000/1 Terrorism report on domestic groups. They are affiliated, and in Canada are affiliated, with the banned israeli Kach party.

        The dumb, stupid, uninformed Canadian populace doesn’t know and obviously doesn’t care to know.

        And James….dont blame the Conservatives in Canada. Cotler is aligned with the Liberals. Google it. He’s got Iggy’s back.

      • MRW
        July 2, 2010, 12:45 pm

        I am off my rocker. Irwin Cotler is NOT the head of the JDL in Canada. he is a member of parliament, and the former Justice Minister in Canada. This is what happens when I dont double-check things I am asserting as fact. I apologize. The head of the JDL is Meir Weinstein, aka Meir Halevi, who has represented himself as the Canadian representative of the Israeli Kach party.

        I made this mistake because of something I remembered (and obviously poorly) that Cotler wrote that mentioned JDL shenanigans in it.

        I’m sorry. And James, it was Cotler, not the JDL that went to bat for the Liberals, natch, Dec 09.

      • Mooser
        July 2, 2010, 1:23 pm

        The mistake doesn’t seem to negate your point, tho.

      • eljay
        July 2, 2010, 7:05 pm

        >> One of the founders of this movement, Irwin Cotler, has repeatedly described the state of Israel as “the collective Jew” …

        He must’ve been staring at the same “blue dot” map that RW fixated on recently.

        I’m embarrassed every time I read or hear about how our Canadian politicians are tripping over themselves to kiss requisite ass and embrace a position of “unquestioning support” for Israel. Not because there’s any pressure from Jewish/Zionist groups or lobbyists – that would be anti-semitic.

        I’m surprised they haven’t heard that the mythical narrative has to be abandoned in favour of looking to the future, of being progressive. Oh, well: “Remember the Holocaust!”

      • hayate
        July 2, 2010, 10:13 pm

        Canada is as much dominated by zionism, inc. as the usa is. Possibly even more.

  5. Bumblebye
    July 1, 2010, 8:52 pm

    It’s more sleight of hand. Don’t look at the actions, the deeds. Look inwards at the character. Just as every Israeli lie about themselves as “just”, or “victims” will be repeated ad nauseum, just as every refuted non-fact about the Palestinians will be restated in endless articles, to be refuted again.

  6. Mooser
    July 1, 2010, 9:03 pm

    Some people don’t dither, they do!

    And the most significant part: They were aquitted, defending the case on political grounds!! Very heartening.

    • Colin Murray
      July 2, 2010, 4:11 am

      That’s awesome news! Thanks for the link.

      • Mooser
        July 2, 2010, 10:13 am

        It made my day, thanks for looking, Colin. And, if you would, try and give JSF a look. It’s not as active as Mondoweiss right now, but it covers anti-Zionism from a British POV.
        And Mark Elf does not allow “bigots, time-wasters, or liars” to frequent the comment section. He still lets me get in word in once in a while. I guess everybody has their faults.

      • James
        July 2, 2010, 11:09 am

        ditto – thanks for sharing this mooser..

  7. Little_Shih_Tzu
    July 1, 2010, 9:08 pm

    Well, we can’t beat up on Chabon more than necessary here, as he is a novelist with no particular expertise in the issue-area he tried to address.

    Let’s point out his inanity, keep an eye out for future examples of same, and keep out attention focused on the real expository malefactors : Krauthammer, Goldberg, Foxman, Malkin, wacky Pam Geller, Drshowitz and the rest of that immense Dense Pack.

  8. radii
    July 1, 2010, 9:30 pm

    well, on the positive side, more and more prominent American jews feel the need to publicly weigh in on the conduct of today’s israel whereas the vast majority have long kept a public silence (remember after 9/11? – almost no jew in Hollywood made a peep)

    good jews (American or otherwise) want an israel and/or a Middle East I/P situation that is defensible … which is why a site like Mondoweiss exists and why passionate voices come here and many other places to demand decent and humane conduct

    once israel and its leadership and people and the American jews and diaspora jews generally have fashioned a reasonable, sane, and humane team to negotiate a real and fair peace for I/P there won’t be a need to defend anything because all will be working toward a fair and just outcome … if this is not in the offing then there is no real intent nor desire for fairness and justice and such monsters get what they deserve

  9. VR
    July 1, 2010, 9:30 pm

    It is a historical fact that when colonialism was rife in nations years ago (now it is much neocolonialism) that the novelists of those nations armed the colonial mentality. As an example if you read Dr. Edward Said’s book “Culture and Imperialism,” you will find a chapter called “Consolidated Vision pgs. 62-190),” where he shows the hand of the novelist in hawking the imperial and colonial mentality in popular writing. So don’t kid yourself, this is nothing new, and has more of a sinister tie than you might think.

    • VR
      July 1, 2010, 9:37 pm

      This is why in many instances, we have people proverbially sitting on their lawns drinking tea saying “my, my, the natives are restless.” Writing like that of Chabon, not alone but in concert with others, is meant to elicit the same “ho hum” attitude about what is happening in the I/P “conflict.”

      • Bumblebye
        July 1, 2010, 9:53 pm

        I’ve read quite a few such that romanticize Israel.

        In a fairly recent Faye Kellerman (I think) she named a minor felon “Robert Fisk”.

      • James
        July 1, 2010, 10:00 pm

        lets change the new york times name to the “ho hum times“.. it is more appropriate.. good fire starter though…

  10. matter
    July 1, 2010, 10:45 pm

    I recall reading that article when it appeared, and being struck by Chabon’s plea for Gilda Shalit’s freedom; but not a word about the some 10,000 Palestinian prisoners.

    Fuck you, Chabon, you Zionist shill.

    By the way, that “Kavalier and Clay” book was pretty fucking lame.

  11. Avi
    July 1, 2010, 10:58 pm


    This is yet another hard hitting article. Thank you.


    As for BDS, it is one of few remaining options left for those with a scintilla of integrity and dignity to end the immoral subjugation of several million human beings.

    One has to be honest with himself/herself.

    It is important for many to understand that at this stage, change, CHANGE, can only come from outside. There won’t be any force from within Israel in the foreseeable future that could bring about said change.

    The international community MUST act to make Israel’s policies financially and economically costly.

    At the very least, Israelis that care about every human life, not just their own, should support the BDS movement from within Israel, thus taking concrete steps. Money talks, as the saying goes. Last I checked, the US did not withdraw its troops from Vietnam the moment a group of Americans showed up with protest signs at the National Mall. And they did so for several years, some took more extreme action, others worked relentlessly day and night to bring an end to the unjust war, and others even set themselves on fire, certainly more than just a Friday afternoon gathering at Shiekh Jarrah so that one can go home later and pat himself on the back for being a good leftist.

    I was lectured by a hypocrite who said that I conveniently sit outside criticizing those inside. It’s a good deflection tactic, but it’s a pathetic attempt.

    For example, if Bernard Avishai thinks that merely by attending the Friday demonstrations at Shaikh Jarah, and later returning to his West Jerusalem apartment where life is back to normal for him as a Jewish citizen of Israel (unlike the non-Jewish residents of East Jerusalem) that he’s making the ultimate sacrifice, then he’s more naive that I had originally thought. Nothing irritates me more than token activism. Too diluted. He still has that summer home in Maine, right? Palestinians are killed every day, and yet he can’t bring himself to support a movement that has historically been effective. Where’s the disconnect?

    • piotr
      July 2, 2010, 11:39 pm

      I would not be as hard on Avishai and other “Zionism with human face” people. They are not in the same “phase”, and they are perhaps easy to ridicule, but I think that instead it is better to applaud when they evolve toward the truth.

      The situation is not that simple. On one hand, there seem to be no room for any “clever solution”, meaning, something really different from the principles of the official Arab initiative. On the other hand, with Israeli’s in a bunker, mentally, figuratively and literally, it can take a generation to have any changes for the better, with ample opportunities for worse.

      So while the impulse for change has to come from outside, and it has to be lead by activism, it is important that the change will have its proponents inside Israel too. Including elite. What is wrong about having a nice apartment and a summer house in Maine? What is wrong in a protest without sacrifice?

      I agree that Avishai’s argument against BDS were ludicrous, but actually, not TOTALLY ludicrous. He does acknowledge basic reality of apartheid, and then latches to totally immaterial distinctions to justify his conclusion. He also has a neat idea of “Hebrew culture patriotism” that could and would attract Palestinian-Israelis. To us it can be tame and lame, but within current Israel this idea makes Avishai a radical almost beyond normal political system. He may yet be exiled to Maine by the zealots in Israel.

      Most importantly, effective rhetoric should have inclusive tone. No triangulation or conceding false point out of faux solidarity, but more polite and appreciative. More half-full glasses and half-empty. At least, notice when there is something in the glass.

  12. Shingo
    July 1, 2010, 11:01 pm

    In Witty’s case, dithering is the first option.

  13. Richard Witty
    July 2, 2010, 4:05 am

    In Witty’s case, respect of the other PERSON, not of their political litany or agenda is the right word.

    Self-respect and respect of the other.

    You should read Chabon, actually.

    • Shingo
      July 2, 2010, 8:30 am

      “Self-respect and respect of the other.”

      I guess you had to droip the “live and let live” motto after the flotilla massacre.

      “You should read Chabon, actually.”‘

      You should go to hell, actually.

      Get lost.

    • marc b.
      July 2, 2010, 8:44 am

      In Witty’s case

      referring to oneself in the third-person is troubling.

      • Shingo
        July 2, 2010, 8:47 am

        The ultimate narcissist as always.

      • marc b.
        July 2, 2010, 9:10 am

        I had a neighbor when I was an adolescent who got drunk one night and blew off the back of his foot with a shotgun while ‘hunting’ the woodchucks in his yard who had ruined his wife’s flowers. A few years later I heard him in the local bar telling the story of how he had lost his foot while serving in Vietnam. Reminds me of Witty: shooting himself in the foot and then playing hero/Christ while nursing his wounds.

      • Shingo
        July 2, 2010, 9:29 am

        Yes he should change his name from Richard Witty to Walter Mitty.

      • Mooser
        July 2, 2010, 10:15 am

        So that’s why he’s always got his hands in his pocketa-pocketa!

      • Mooser
        July 2, 2010, 11:51 am

        “The ultimate narcissist as always.”

        Richard Witty is the Stuart Smalley of zio-shilling. He’s smart enough and people like him, so what could be wrong with Israel, if he likes it? And why would you dis-like Israel, just to hurt poor Richard? Why, that’s anti-Semitic! Witty uses that Stuart Smalley trick constantly.
        The most pathetic thing about Witty is his use of the Pangloss axiom, “this is the best thing in the best of all possible worlds” because it works for him. Now that’s some deep thinking, and right in line with all the most principled Jewish ethical thinkers.

        It’s hard to deny, that Richard puts a personal slant on these old tricks which make them even older and staler. I have to concede that, credit where it’s due, what?

      • hayate
        July 2, 2010, 10:19 pm

        “referring to oneself in the third-person is troubling.”

        Didn’t Gollum do that in The Lord of the Rings? If I remember right, there was something oddly wrong about that character….

  14. Lonso
    July 2, 2010, 9:30 am

    Witty, shwitty – Are we here to discuss some stupid propaganda shmuck whose very purpose is to deviate any conversation into irrelevant BS? Just asking.

    • Mooser
      July 2, 2010, 10:58 am

      Lonso, when a guy shows up at the party with a big “Kick Me” sign on his ass, it’s only polite to comply with his request. Especially if he keeps on insulting everyone.
      And make no mistake the most insulting thing is this: Witty is talking past the commenter’s here, simply using someone else’s blog to try and reach the uninformed. And as you can see, he’s always sending in more comments to agree with himself, so he’s reaching someone.

    • hayate
      July 2, 2010, 12:40 pm


      They always take the bait.

  15. MHughes976
    July 2, 2010, 9:35 am

    I thought that Chabon was unequivocally asserting the natural equality and common humanity of Jews and non-Jews in respect of intelligence and resourcefulness. Which is fine, though a bit laboured. The reservation I would have is that it is only the intelligence, not the morality, of the participants on both sides that he chooses to discuss. The contempt inherent in the reference to ‘lumber and delusions’ is distressing. He does not show that the victims of Mavi Marmara were deluded by not expecting a violent Israeli response – were they really? Or deluded in thinking that a stand against the Gaza siege ought to be taken. By avoiding (rather worse, I’d think, than dithering over) this point, which is pretty crucial, he becomes unconvincing.

  16. Kathleen
    July 2, 2010, 11:01 am

    “Israel was a little blockheaded when it came to this whole flotilla thing, but that’s OK, nobody’s perfect.”

    And the Gaza thing, the Lebanon thing, the settlement thing, the Rachel Corrie thing etc etc etc

    • hayate
      July 2, 2010, 12:44 pm

      Inconsequential things…..when zionism, inc. are responsible. But let somebody call them on one their crimes, that persons “antisemitism” becomes a major international incident the whole world must address and fix for poor rittle israel.

  17. Rowan
    July 4, 2010, 5:02 am

    It’s a good essay. She’s grasped the importance of writing in a simple friendly way. Another woman writer who used to demonstrate this gift frequently was Karen Kwiatkowski. Unfortunately Karen K has developed a rather pompous christian preachy streak and some very tedious ‘libertarian’ windbaggery over the years, which has spoiled her refreshing straighforwardness. I hope this never happens to Pamela Olson.

  18. LanceThruster
    July 5, 2010, 1:46 pm

    Clever but not too clever allows for the occasional (im)plausible deniability.

    Gilad Atzmon has a good take on the whole generalization thing.

    From: link to gilad.co.uk

    “In multicultural reality we tend to believe that this contradictory mode of behavior is something to do with the usage and misusage of stereotypes.

    A stereotype is commonly defined as a public or common belief about specific social groups, or types of individuals. It is often a product of an essentialist generalization by the means of induction: it involves a nonscientific assumption about the properties of a class of subjects based on an accumulation of observations or anecdotal encounters which become reinforced with time and repetition.

    The concept of ‘stereotype’ is often confused with the notion of ‘prejudice’. Rather often we notice that a stereotype attached to ethnicity, class or any group are a means of performing an opinion, usually an unfavorable one, based on insufficient knowledge and irrational feelings.

    On the face of it, it would seem as if Jews are over sensitive to the ‘racial’ discriminatory implication of the ‘J’ word. However most Jews are not that concerned when being associated collectively with some great minds, adorable violin players or conductors. In short to safely apply the ‘Jew’ category, you just have to make sure you say the right things. No one will ever cause you any trouble for mentioning Albert Einstein in reference to Jewish intelligence or even bringing up Anne Frank as an exemplary motif of Jewish innocence but you may get into some serious trouble once you mention the following list of real and fictional characters: Bernie Madoff, Fagin, Wolfowitz, Lord Levy, Shylock, Alan Greenspan, Netanyahu and Nathan Rothschild without even identifying them as Jews.

    All of the above depicts a very obscure, yet far from surprising picture. As it seems, Jews, largely do not mind stereotypes or collective categories. They do not mind racial generalizations and essentialist stigmas as long as they are positive.”

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