Kristol: ‘I don’t see it as a huge problem’

on 41 Comments

Watch this brief video clip of J Street’s Ben-Ami debating Bill Kristol Tuesday night in New York. Ben-Ami makes the point that there are two choices, either come up with a border or give everyone equal rights.  Kristol “totally disagrees”:

The third choice is basically the status quo.

Check out his defensive body language. Millions of people with no rights? “Unfortunate situation” but none the less an option as far as he is concerned.

(Hat tip MW commenter Citizen)(Also: Phil Weiss was at this event and is going to be reporting on it Monday.)

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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41 Responses

  1. Newclench
    May 19, 2012, 2:01 pm

    Good for J Street for presenting this stark choice. Who stands with Kristol in denying that this is in fact the choice?

    • Krauss
      May 19, 2012, 3:00 pm

      Kristol isn’t the problem. That guy can never win in the long run. He has monied donors behind him who fund the ‘conservative’ newsoutlets like Weekly Standard/National Review, once venerable newspapers in the sense that they were close to the grassroots(which didn’t in of itself always end well, e.g. opposition to civil rights etc), but in terms of foreign policy it was much more balanced and peaceful than the mad dash to war that is the current position.

      Still, it isn’t conservatives who run America. The problem is when liberals run along, like they did for the Iraq war. In the case of Iran, liberal opposition is much more severe, hence the real debate, hence Kristol & co cannot dominate the debate because liberals, esp Jewish liberals, wont give them the same cover.

      The problem is people like Ben-Ami who cling to Beinart’s fantasy visions of “It’s All Bibi’s Fault” when all evidence show that it were the Labor/Kadima parties which historically stood for most of the settlements/war and aggressions.

      But before we get to that discussion; is there any video of the full debate?

      • seafoid
        May 20, 2012, 4:36 pm


        The top 1% own something like 16% of the USA in terms of assets.
        They are the people who run the country. Conservative/liberal is just a show. Capital is in charge. Labour can forget it. It has been like this since morning in America, 1980.

    • sardelapasti
      May 21, 2012, 1:23 am

      Bullshit “choice”.
      Does anyone believe that Kristol was really talking about “statu quo” instead of a full-blown super-South Africa or, if necessary, full cleansing from non-“Jewish” elements? If yes, that person is unable to think.

      Does anyone on the J-street side really believe that “Jewish state” can ever mean, in practice, anything else than what is summarily described above? If yes, that person is unable to think.

  2. pabelmont
    May 19, 2012, 2:10 pm

    Status quo has been Israel’s preference for 20 years (apart from adjusting the status quo by grabbing more Area “C” land every day). And why not? The international community cannot be bothered to ACT (even when Israel “tests” them by demolishing millions of $$ worth of structures they paid for they merely say words, such as “tsk, tsk”).

  3. Rusty Pipes
    May 19, 2012, 2:23 pm

    Is that the status quo in the direction of consolidating apartheid or in the direction of completing the project of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians?

  4. FreddyV
    May 19, 2012, 2:28 pm

    What a piece of shit.

    The only saving grace from this is that the ‘status quo’ option is now out there.

    The proverbial jugular has been exposed.

  5. seafoid
    May 19, 2012, 3:35 pm

    Ben ami talks about the scenario over “the next few generations” but israel does not have that sort of time.
    kristol is a joke. the Weekly standard won’t expect everything to work out if the US debt issue is left at the status quo. life is different, except for israel. Sure it is.

  6. Talkback
    May 19, 2012, 4:17 pm

    Every day I learn something new from Zionists. Today:

    When Jews are forced to live without rights, it’s only an unfortunate situation and to maintain the status quo is an option.

    Got to revaluate some periods in Jewish history.

    • seafoid
      May 20, 2012, 4:38 am

      They are going to have to reconsider most of those jewish holidays post Kristol.

      Passover-the pharoah was just just acting on the political reality
      the exile to Babylon- it was a win win situation
      purim- the Jews have to see it from the point of view of the Persian economy of the time

      • Pamela Olson
        May 20, 2012, 1:29 pm

        Brilliant. This should turn into its own post.

        Of course, the problem with Zionism is that the whole premise starts with, “What’s good for the goose is not good for the gander. Because we’re the chosen gander.” (Always convenient for colonizers to think of themselves that way — Manifest Destiny, anyone?)

        I’ve heard “centrist” Zionist friends say very bluntly, “‘Never again’ means never again for the Jews, full stop,” and “Yes, I would kill 1,000 gentiles if it would save one Jew.”

        I don’t even want to repeat what I’ve heard right-wing Zionists say to my face. There’s no other class of people I associate with who feel free to express such opinions in public. It’s baffling.

    • Annie Robbins
      May 20, 2012, 1:35 pm

      When Jews are forced to live without rights, it’s only an unfortunate situation and to maintain the status quo is an option.

      reminds me of the guys in this video:

      we believe in the rights of everybody, but at some point you have to like….. force people to live without rights…as long as they are not jewish it’s ok!

  7. ToivoS
    May 19, 2012, 4:42 pm

    This is important progress. I remember well just a few short years back arguing with the Zionists that Israel was destroying the two-state solution and they kept on coming back with their support for that outcome and it was only up to the Palestinians to become a little more reasonable. They seemed so sincere.

    Now it is honestly out there — one-state for Jews and some vague solution for the Palestinian problem. They have not yet decided on second class citizenship (don’t call it apartheid!) or the transfer option (don’t call it ethnic cleansing!). Now the only democracy in the ME will have a public discussion on which of these two solutions it will be. Let the debate begin.

  8. radii
    May 19, 2012, 5:50 pm

    I would love to take away Kristol’s rights – and place him in handcuffs and leg-irons for his key role as part of the Neocon Thirty and send him off to prison for life

  9. Brewer
    May 19, 2012, 6:26 pm

    Ben Ami seems to me to be following a pattern I have observed in quite a few whose understanding of these matters evolves at an ever-increasing pace once they recognise that something about the Zionist narrative doesn’t add up.

    From his position expressed here, it is a short journey to understanding that the only possible justification for a “Jewish State” is the “barbarity of the other”.

    Given what is now known about the barbarity exhibited by the Yishuv (and subsequent Israeli administration), this justification falls away and leaves naked racism exposed.

    It is a journey many of us have made. Perhaps Ben Ami will catch up soon.

  10. eGuard
    May 19, 2012, 6:59 pm

    Isn’t Peter Beinart right now solving this issue? Then let’s not interfere, the Palestinians are waiting for the Jewish Vote outcome.

  11. wondering jew
    May 19, 2012, 7:01 pm

    I haven’t watched the video yet.
    I believe the status quo is not sustainable over the long run. To a political apparatchik (which is essentially what Kristol fils is) the long run has to be less than 12 years to even register on his radar screen. Anything more than that is strictly for think tanks and not for serious political discourse.

  12. Klaus Bloemker
    May 19, 2012, 9:49 pm

    – “The third choice is basically the status quo.” – Kristol

    And the fourth choice is basically that Israel will be gone by the year …?
    Robert Carneiro, of the American Museum of Natural History, estimates that the number of autonomous political units in the world was 200,000 in the year 500. Now it’s fewer than 200 units. Carneiro estimated that after A.D. 2,300 there will be only one state for the entire globe. – Well I don’t kow, whether that will be the case.

    But from a longer historical perspective, there is little chance for a political unit like Israel to survive the general trend. Nor does a two state solution.

    – As I have said before. I like to quantify things – just for the hell of it.

  13. Arnon Shwantzinger Too
    May 19, 2012, 10:49 pm

    I’m not sure if this is naivete, or perhaps wishful thinking aka. confirmation bias (the natural tendency of humans to favor information that fits one’s one beliefs) but what Kristol is saying is very simple:
    The state of Israel is not going to become minority Jewish (!)
    You guys are dismissing this claim by Kristol because of what it entails.

    This is not disagreement about facts, as Ben-Ami puts it. Ben-Ami is talking of today’s demographics. Those, of course, can change.
    If anything, out of the three options: 1SS, 2SS, 1S-Apartheid – Ben-Ami’s 2SS is the least realistic. From a realpolitik perspective.

    Kristol is basically saying that Israel will do whatever is necessary to keep a Jewish majority within Israel. ie. keep the “status quo” apartheid regime until Israel has been ethnically cleansed of Arabs. At which point it may well give all its remaining subjects equal rights and become, de facto, Jewish and democratic.

    That’s what Kristol is saying for anyone who is willing to hear.

    • Danaa
      May 20, 2012, 1:36 am


      I agree about what you say Krystol implies. Been harping on this very point for some time now, but everyone around seems intent on wearing their rose colored glasses. That is, when not shaking fists and sharing their rage at whatever latest atrocity israel commits. I wish people would finally process that Israel has no intention of “absorbing” the West Bank Palestinians, just as they had no intention of absorbing the Gazans. Just think – what does it really meas that gaza is allowed to go on as an internment camp, indefinitely, as the world is standing by, doing nothing. To Israel it means one thing only – that they got away with “it”. Which, in turn, means that gaza is exactly what’s planned for those Palestinians who stay in the West Bank. Not batustans, and certainly not a mini-state. And Israel will never ever allow any kind of equal rights movement and will do whatever it feels it must to stop it.

      I have to laugh when I hear people admonishing against all out BDS because it’ll make the Israelis “even more ” intransigent. As if there’s any intention – ever – to have any dialogue; as if a “dialogue” is still possible – in any israeli’s book (not just the governments they elect), ie, anyone other than those few thousand leftists and activists who keep on fighting their fights, pretending that their numbers can somehow, mysteriously grow.

      People – even the most well meaning leftists here – should think long and hard about what it really means when the world allows Gaza to go on. That Israel suffered no official repercussions for cast lead, which was an atrocity by any measure. A massacre is what it was as congress supported Israel, meaning the US congress and president(s) support massacres and atrocities. Even as Europe made some lame noises then looked away. And the Turkish activists were murdered on the high seas by Israeli pirates, and Turkey still did not break diplomatic relations with israel. In fact they are kind of collaborating now – at the behest of the US and Saudi Arabia – on bringing Syria down. And flotillas were stopped in their tracks despite the preparations and the publicity. And when israel wanted flytilla activists to be held off flights, the European airlines go along, and there’s hardly a murmur from any capital.

      To me, the only question that remains is what can be done to put pressure enough on israel and israelis that they will figure out there’s a price to pay. BDS against anything and everything associated with israel is the least of what we can do, unfortunately. But I am willing to entertain any and all ideas of what can tame the monster that America and Europe beget through deliberate impotence.

      • stevieb
        May 20, 2012, 10:58 am

        Important comment, thanks…

      • peeesss
        May 20, 2012, 1:02 pm

        Danaa Your words are right on point. Its sad that the wonderful Mondoweiss contributers still have this utopian , idealistic view that somehow Israel , the Zionist vision that their leaders have espoused since its “birth” , will change its policies , toward the Palestinians. If the Israeli govt. and its leaders would have it, not one Palestinian will remain in “Eretz Israel”. This slow genocide, ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians is , to them, the only way to complete the Project” A “pure” Jewish State , the Zionist vision that encompasses , tragically, the vast majority of Israelis. Of course that is said only privately, in safe quarters, among themselves. Mondoweiss must confront the the utter disdain that Israeli’s have for anyone suggesting that Palestinians have “human rights”, God forbid, Right to Return, right to Self Determination. Wallow as a slave {Dayan} or cockroaches in a bottle{Shamir, I believe} Palestinians are the lowest level of “Goyim”, die, or leave. Israeli Jewish racism can never be discussed or applied to the analysias of the I/P situation.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 20, 2012, 6:44 pm

        Israeli Jewish racism can never be discussed or applied to the analysias of the I/P situation.

        i dunno, seems to me like we’ve discussed it a lot.

        Its sad that the wonderful Mondoweiss contributers still have this utopian , idealistic view that somehow Israel , the Zionist vision that their leaders have espoused since its “birth” , will change its policies , toward the Palestinians.

        i do not think there is a uniform vision of our contributors. many of them probably think there is an israeli policy of “slow genocide, ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians…. to complete the Project” A “pure” Jewish State”

        however i do not believe they will be successful and thrive.

      • American
        May 20, 2012, 2:36 pm

        “I wish people would finally process that Israel has no intention of “absorbing” the West Bank Palestinians, just as they had no intention of absorbing the Gazans. Just think – what does it really meas that gaza is allowed to go on as an internment camp, indefinitely, as the world is standing by, doing nothing. To Israel it means one thing only – that they got away with “it”. …Danaa

        I totally agree. If one can’t look at year by year by year of 65 years of Israel and see the absolute true “nature” of zionism then they are blind or in denial.
        As long as the US supports Israel I think it is possible Israel can take over Palestine entirely and either transfer Palestines or make them a sub class of semi slaves.
        Where I think Israel will eventually end, is Palestine will not be enough for it. There is no end to their kind of messianic greed. After Palestine it will be something else and something else they want. Eventually they will go too far even for the US and have to be put down.

      • seafoid
        May 21, 2012, 9:55 am

        In fairness, Danaa, Cast Lead happened before the full enormity of the Great Recession became apparent.
        Before 9% of Americans became long term unemployed. Before the neoliberal financial system was certified dead. Before Greece became a basket case, before the speculators targeted France.

        Israel is artificial. It lives off the guilt of the West and it earns its money selling the war on terror.
        If the goys in charge one day decide it is not worth the effort then Israel will be in a real pickle.

    • Citizen
      May 20, 2012, 9:40 am

      Arnon, when I first watched the video clip, I read Kristol as saying, he didn’t care how many Palestinians there are now, or ever, because nothing will make Israel give up it’s Jewish (substantial) majority status within the green line, it’s Jewish governing rule therein, coupled with the consequential power to assure maximum military defense of said sovereign state via use of its expanding lebensraum, ultimately in all the land known to it as Greater Israel. The status quo is the only option other than world acquiesence in official borders enveloping that land mass.

      • MHughes976
        May 20, 2012, 5:22 pm

        There’s a certain degree of sheer power-worship here which is quite horrible. However the basic idea is a moral claim: in that part of the world, only Jewish people have a share in sovereignty which is theirs by right, though others may have a share by grace and generosity. So, though generosity may well be extended, nothing must happen that suggests that anyone else shares the birthright.

      • seafoid
        May 21, 2012, 10:02 am

        Kristol could be so nonchalant and flippant and play around with realpolitik if he spoke for a population block that ran into the hundreds of millions. Say he was Han Chinese or North Indian or white European.
        But his kippa says he’s Jewish. Max 7 million in the US. Super organised, punching way above their weight but 4th on the scale of peoples in the US after whites, hispanics and African americans. So a wedge rather than a block.

        I wonder if Jews were ever so arrogant. I think the visibility of it is very troubling. These power trips don’t last. Most things revert to the mean eventually.

  14. Daniel Rich
    May 19, 2012, 11:10 pm

    Hi Annie,

    side note: Talking about body language, watch Negroponte doing his bid behind Powell [if you watch this with the sound muted, it becomes real scary] @

    Kristol should pack his bags, move to the ‘fatherland’ and patrol his new found borders himself.

  15. gingershot
    May 20, 2012, 9:38 am

    Kristol is bored with the Palestinian argument with Ben-Ami. He has other things to do that are more important than just rebottling his usual lies for this audience.

    Kristol and the Neocons’ attentions are all currently focused on ginning up the war with Iran, as that is really the key to maintaining the Israeli status quo with Palestine. If the Iran attack is off, then Apartheid Israel is naked in the wind without a figlead

    If Kristol and the Neocons lose the Iran war – it’s gameover for the status quo in Israel and they know it. The prize is the war in Iran – the lid boiling over on Apartheid in Israel will just have to wait because if the Neocons don’t get Iran they have lost the whole game

    I haven’t been a big fan of J-Street or Jeremy Ben -Ami, as I see them functioning as the AIPAC-lite good cop most of the time, but he sure put Kristol on a particular silver platter this time around.

    Who in that audience could have missed the raw stark reality of just who Kristol is and what he really wants – ‘more of the same forever or for as long as we can get away with it, whichever comes first’

    Kristol’s weakness is being exposed because he is defending such a weak and craven argument but he will continue do so past the expiration date of ‘status quo Israel’ – it’s only that he has gotten away with it for so long that he is still unembarassed enough to continue to openly embarass himself, which is exactly what he did.

    Ad hominens aside, he looked like an overweight 4yr old who just stole his younger sibling’s toy and is refusing to give it back, and was used to never having to give anything back , that he has a special ‘in’ with his parents such that he himself can get away with anything forever

    I can just imagine his shrieks of protest as Apartheid is dismantled out from under his feet – it will appear to him as if were living in a house of cards once it starts collapsing – and there will be no bottom.

    Israel is much like Kristol – there just is no bottom to it’s crimes against the Palestinians. If Israelis make one move against the Settlers today in 2012 then you immeditely crash thru a tier of the house of cards and you’re back to ’67. If you expose and try to deal with the Israeli lies of ’67 you immediately crash thru to the Israeli lies and ethnic cleansing of ’48, and the unholy of unholies, Right of Return as guaranteed by UN Resolutions, Int’l Law, and the Geneva Conventions.

    Where do you stop? The only answer Kristol and Israel have is to never begin. In desperation of the anticipated collapses, Israel has always just desperately decided to never start because there really is no stopping

    Where it stops in reality is the One State because Israel has made sure, has guaranteed by explicit policy and choice that a 2 State Solution never be permitted – and this is because Israelis have realized over and over again, when it really came down to it, they could never take off number of cards necessary for a Palestinian state to exist because the whole Israeli house of cards would come down if they ever did.

    Israel no longer has a 2 state option – it is just her Wm Kristol-like bravado that she will try to brazen out the currrent Apartheid, as supported by her bought and paid support in the US Congress

    There is nothing underneath Kristol except and his just desserts except a few cards and the same goes for Israel writ large

    • Blake
      May 21, 2012, 9:50 am

      So well stated there ginger.

    • piotr
      May 21, 2012, 10:35 am

      Attack on Iran will not happen. This dog will not hunt. NATO issued a statement that it will not support it, and Israel issued most conciliatory statement in years.

  16. BradAllen
    May 20, 2012, 11:06 am

    Neither did Goebbel. Nazis had their option too. Kristol meet Goebbel, you both belong inthe history books and remembered as the war criminals of the third option.

  17. Kathleen
    May 20, 2012, 4:06 pm

    Bill “bloody” Kristol is drowning in the Iraqi people’s and American soldiers blood. The problem with psycho paths is that they do not notice or care. Can not stand this man. Keep in mind he went after the Clinton health care bill. “kill the bill” If the Iraqi people were ever to go after the Bush administration war criminals at the International Court of Justice (Nuremberg type trials) Kristol would be found complicit in war crimes and they might just say ‘kill the bill” for war crimes

  18. seafoid
    May 20, 2012, 4:25 pm

    One of the biggest problems with modern Judaism is that there is no brand management. Nobody appears to be in charge. Anyone can put on a kippa to express Jewish religiosity and speak with the words of anyone from a bigot to a mass murderer.

    • Citizen
      May 20, 2012, 4:47 pm

      seafoid, this has been Mooser’s mantra for ages. As near as I can gather, Mooser is a guy who happened to be born Jewish, and who has lived his adult life as an individual human first, and he expects no less from other humans, sort of in the vein of Woody Allen’s famous quip he’d never belong to any organization or group that would have him, and, I guess, by default, any which might look at him with raised eyebrow. He’s shown plenty of awareness and history education justifying such a stance. Mooser does not like Gilad Atzmon, but has never really explained why, if memory serves.

      • piotr
        May 21, 2012, 4:01 am

        Gilad Atzmon perhaps never hurt a fly, but he proudly published a lengthy somewhat ignorant diatribe against an Israeli Jewish Marxist who was analyzing Israel and Palestinian situation using Marxist analysis, thus attacking a progressive anti-Zionist Israeli more or less for being a Jew.

        Bill Kristol is in a different league. He is a board member of astro-turn called The Emergency Committee for Israel that is basically a vehicle to place expensive ads. The second board member is Gary Bauer, and the third, Rachel Abhrams who proposed to capture militants of Gasa and feed them to fish.

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