Eric Alterman continues to justify lack of Palestinian voices at ‘The Nation’

Liberals can sound pretty pathetic when their back is to the wall, and liberal Zionists even more so. A case in point is Eric Alterman.

Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman

Rania Khalek has initiated important criticisms, amplified by both Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss, that not only establishment media such as the New York Times but also progressive media in the US, such as The Nation, have marginalised Palestinian and Arab voices on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, preferring to allow Israeli and Jewish voices to dominate.

The Nation’s editors were especially rattled when Naomi Klein agreed on Twitter that the magazine “can and should do much better”.

One editor, Richard Kim, tried to defend The Nation’s record, arguing that it had published  14 pieces by Palestinian writers over the past six years – or just over two a year.

As Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah noted:

Kim did not produce a list showing how many articles focusing on Palestine and the Israelis had been written by Israelis or Jewish Americans. If he did, he might have had to point out, for example, that the number of Nation articles written by just two Israelis – Neve Gordon and Bernard Avishai – added up to 34 pieces!

Now Alterman has waged in, desperately trying to justify his own privileged place at The Nation commenting on the Middle East – remember it was he who got to critique Max Blumenthal’s superb book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel for the magazine with one of the most petulant reviews ever. He is in similar mood about the efforts to hold The Nation accountable for its claims to be a progressive publication on Israel-Palestine.

In his latest column, Alterman causally dismisses criticisms, accepted even by The Nation’s editors, that in an earlier piece he inaccurately characterised Khalek as arguing there were “too many Jews” writing for the magazine. He admits that she may not have actually made that claim but his point stands nonetheless. It seems the facts – Khalek was arguing for better representation of Arab opinion, not suppression of Jewish or Israeli opinion – are irrelevant to Alterman.

He then claims that The Nation includes Jewish and Israeli anti-Zionists, as though this is a rebuttal of Khalek’s argument. It seems we don’t need to know what Palestinians think themselves because, according to Alterman, Jewish and Israeli anti-Zionists can speak on their behalf.

Next he has the chutzpah to argue that the reason there are so many Jews writing on Israel-Palestine at The Nation is because, well, it sounds like he’s saying it’s because they are more intelligent or articulate than Palestinians. But I wouldn’t want to be as loose with the facts as Alterman, so let’s do him the courtesy of quoting him:

To complain about too many Jews writing on the Middle East or any other issue is to essentialize a racial/ethnic characteristic and ignore the quality of argument and evidence. … Either the arguments are compelling or not. Either the evidence support them or it does not. The race/ethnicity/gender of the person making an argument is, or ought to be, irrelevant. … This is not politics we are talking about, where representation obviously matters, but the world of argument and ideas, which ought to rise or fall strictly on their moral and intellectual merit.

Hmm. Is he saying that there are so few Arabs / Palestinians writing about Israel-Palestine because they have no credible arguments, or because they are just too dumb to make a credible case, so Jews need to do it for them? Either way the word “bigot”, liberal or otherwise, springs to mind.

Then he switches to a strawman.

Should The Nation limit the number of African-Americans it publishes on civil rights? Should it limit the number of Latinos it publishes on immigration? Should it limit the number of women it publishes on feminism? Should it limit the number of whites, non-Hispanics and men respectively as well? And what, pray tell, is the difference?

Let’s rephrase those questions to get a different perspective – one that Alterman from his privileged position may have missed: Should The Nation allow white Americans to dominate the coverage of civil rights? Should it allow non-Hispanics to dominate the coverage of immigration? Should it allow men to dominate the coverage of feminism?

The answer is obvious. It would be grossly unfair for a progressive publication to let men dictate the discussion of feminism, or whites dominate the discussion of civil rights. In fact, it would be so patently “unprogressive” that it would not need to be stated in those cases. So why is it not clear to Alterman in this case?

Next he segues into a baffling and brief discussion about who is a Jew:

How is The Nation to decide how many Jews are too many when Jews themselves cannot agree on who’s Jewish?

But again that is beside the point. Khalek and others are not waging a McCarthyite campaign against Jews at The Nation; they are asking for the door to be more open to Palestinians and Arabs writing on an issue on which they may have perspectives that need to be taken into account.

However one looks at it, Alterman is making a case for keeping that door as closed as possible.

It is time for reform at the Nation. Alterman and his editors need to starting feeling the heat – from readers.

About Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His new website is jonathan-cook.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine, Media, US Politics

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

  1. Cliff says:

    Alterman is desperate – and it shows.

  2. pabelmont says:

    All this is a bit funny. Here we have Israel making laws about who can say what, Hillel trying to limit a discussion among Jews to only those opinions which support hard-line Israel/AIPAC. Then we have Alterman (almost) saying, “well, yes, there is a USA out there, and it reads The Nation, but either I/P is of real interest only to Jews or only the multi-opinioned voices of Jews (Zionist, anti-Zionist, post-Zionist) should be privileged to comment on I/P, even if all the USA is interested. Arabs and especially Palestinians may enter the discussion only rarely and on sufferance.”

    After all, “In all honesty,” I imagine Alterman saying, “the Israel-project (1930-present) has been ABOUT Jews and ignored Palestinians from the very beginning, so why let their spokespeople enter the discussion NOW? We Jews have managed to keep the American public thinking that the Discussion-About-Israel-Project is a purely Jewish project — and is so ‘of right’ — so let’s keep it that way! To allow — or worse to welcome — Palestinian voices into the discussion would be to admit that the previous exclusion if Palestinian voices had been nothing but illicit power-politics for the last 100 years.”

    • pabelmont says:

      In a discussion of a political turmoil where there are clearly defined actors and actees, should the discussion be limited to only actors or opened up also (or only) to actees?

      I mean, after all, if The Nation were discussing the holocaust — and it most certainly is not, and neither am I, oh! forfend the thought — would it be right to demand that voices of those acted-upon be allowed to be published, or would The Nation limit the discussion to the voices of the actors, to German voices (pro-Nazi, anti-Nazi, post-Nazi)? (I am not –of course I am not !! you know that I am not !! — trying to suggest here that there is an equivalence or even a quasi-parallelism between A and B, or between C and D, but only to say that where there are actors and actees, one course of action as to publication of fact and opinion is to limit discussion to the actors and another quite different course of action is to open the discussion up to include both actors and actees. Or, of course, to actees alone.

      Hey! What an idea! Maybe the I/P discussion should be conducted for a year or decade, now, with none but Palestinians voices! But how absurd!

  3. Chu says:

    Alterman is so morally inept its astounding. The other responsible Nation contributors must realize they have a damaging liability on their hands if they keep him around.

    If the Nation were a corporation, their stock would be plummeting.

  4. Krauss says:

    I think one of the coming battlegrounds will be progressive media. And here the lobby is pretty strong. TNR has changed hands, but it used to be a stronghold of almost Likudnik-Zionism while masquerading as a liberal magazine. And there’s no real sign that Hughes has the guts to do anything about it.

    TNR only went after AIPAC when the NYT and other progressive media outlets went after AIPAC in the recent push to war. He’s still insecure about his role and feels uncomfortable of taking the lead(how I miss Andrew Sullivan).

    TPM under Josh Marshall is even more atrocious. He has gone AWOL on the Iran warmongering from Israel’s amen corner, in large part because TPM’s main job is to act as its blocking back in left field. Josh Marshall himself is an Alterman-esque “liberal” Zionist with neocon proclivities on Israel.

    As for Daily Kos, I remember some people got banned there only a few years ago for even discussing the lobby/AIPAC. There are still mods who are hardcore Zionists who insta-ban anything that doesn’t follow the same old “Bibi is wrong but Labor Zionism is a godsend”. When you point out who did the Nakba, who began the settlements, who did the 2nd ethnic cleansing in ’67 etc, they just go irate. The breaking of their precious little narrative ignites somekind of personal crisis we’ve seen so many times this past year. From what I’ve heard it has slowly changed for the better these past few years, but only slightly.

    The fight is going to happen because the grassroots are strong enough to take on the progressive media establishment and the issue is an obsession of the American media anyway, so its not like it needs help being spotlighted.

    So it boils down to the same old story: who has the moral case for it? An increasingly virulent and racist ethnocracy, verging on Apartheid, or an oppressed, stateless people being denied basic human rights because they are of the wrong ethnicity?

    It’s not a question of who wins, but when the victory will be decided. And we’re strong enough now to start this fight. And we’re only going to get stronger.

    • American says:

      I quit reading TPM when Josh Marshall named his new born son after a IDF general….and not one of the ‘decent’ ones to the best of my memory.

    • Krauss, I wish I could share your optimism that it will ultimately come down to a question of morality, but it seems to me in a mass democracy with a commercialized mass media, it will always be a question of who holds the economic power.

  5. Donald says:

    The link to Alterman’s column is broken. I assume it is meant to go to this Salon article with Alterman’s response–

    link

    Oops, no, it probably meant to connect to this–

    link to Alterman post

  6. W.Jones says:

    I don’t like racism, stereotypes, stereotyping religious communities, or anti-semitism. One of the claims one sometimes comes across is that one group is very much over-represented in Hollywood and is to a high degree much better financially than the rest of America. And since I do not like stereotyping people or groups, I look for ways to defeat this claim. Have you, or others here on Mondoweiss found ways to argue against this claim?

    Phil, here you asked about what Alterman writes in this passage:

    To complain about too many Jews writing on the Middle East or any other issue is to essentialize a racial/ethnic characteristic and ignore the quality of argument and evidence. … Either the arguments are compelling or not. Either the evidence support them or it does not. The race/ethnicity/gender of the person making an argument is, or ought to be, irrelevant. … This is not politics we are talking about, where representation obviously matters, but the world of argument and ideas, which ought to rise or fall strictly on their moral and intellectual merit.

    What he is saying is that you should not make complaints about racial groups being over-represented because then you are “essentializing” or overfocusing on it as the key factor in staff composition.

    Instead of looking at the writers’ race, you should look at the quality of the arguments. If the person makes bad arguments, you can disagree wit them. But since we are talking about journal writing and arguments, not politics, racial makeup does not matter.

    I think you are disagreeing with Altermann though and saying that the Nation is politics. OK, so if race does matter when it comes to employee composition, then how does one address this broader issue as I raised at the beginning, and also reject generalizing?

    • pabelmont says:

      W.Jones — Palestinians know things, facts, which the people who write about I/P in the USA’s media mostly don’t know. and their POV is to express this, not to hide it, and this too runs counter to the views and proclivities of most of those who write in the USA’s media about I/P.

      So it is not at all merely a question of the quality or excellence of argument — there is far more to it than that. See my comments above.

      For a long time women were closed out of discussions, though they had so much to offer — experience, facts, etc, that men didn’t have. Same with people of color. A fully democratic discussion is always better than a discussion where one small group alone holds the microphone.

      Would you want all of American politics and social issues to be discussed only by aging, white, male, Republican right-wingers?

      You may be uncomfortable saying (and hearing) that Hollywood or USA-MSM is over-represented by Jews. Fine. Be uncomfortable. But look at what’s actually going on and its effects before “see no evil”-ing.

      • kma says:

        I know this thread is old, but I can’t help commenting on pabelmont’s comment: DANG RIGHT you are, and having politics and social issues discussed TOO OFTEN only by white males results in sideshows like the recent MSM clips about Chris Christie being a victim of “wussiness” which threatens “real men” who want to be jerks, but feminism is making it unpopular… !! and there are WOMEN sitting next to them as they say this who act like battered wives. yes, this is what you get with too much of the oppressor’s voice.

    • bilal a says:

      It seems that both Arabs and Christians have a possible class action against The Nation and the other pro Zionist New York media mentioned, possessing prima facie statistical evidence, see below. Apart from progressives Chris Hedges, and Sullivan, I cant think of any outed Christian authors from those publications ( and not one orthodox Christian , Muslim, or Jew ?) even though the religious, and Christians in particular, form a large majority of the US population.


      Statistical Evidence In Discrimination Cases Need Not Account For Employer’s Non-discriminatory Reason For Discharge

      June 5, 2012 | Bulletin No. 1001380.1

      The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently held that former news reporters could state a prima facie case for age discrimination through the use of statistical evidence, even if that evidence did not account for their former employer’s legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for discharging the reporters. (Schechner v. KPIX-TV, (— F.3d —-, C.A.9 (Cal.), May 29, 2012)
      - See more at: link to kmtg.com

      link to kmtg.com

      Not sure of the The Nation’s non discriminatory rationale for excluding American Christians and /or Arab Americans, Muslims, from writing on issues in the Holy Land. More likely, the editors just don’t feel comfortable, friendly , with people of this background, echoing historical Gentile discrimination against ‘The Other’.

    • American says:

      ”then how does one address this broader issue as I raised at the beginning, and also reject generalizing?”…..Jones

      Well there is generalizing—- and then there is generalizing.
      In this case -First you can ‘count Jews’ at publications as Phil often says.
      Then you can look at whether most articles in those publications are written by Jews..same with whether media guest and pundits who speak on I/P are mostly Jewish or not.
      If it’s mostly Jews then you dont really have to generalize, its in the numbers.

      Then we can count the zionist types and then the lib zios types and then anti zionist types (none of these are allowed too publically in my experience).
      Then we can generalize about each of the various groups according to what they say.
      I think we know with a large degree of certainty what Zionist ‘in general’ think.
      I think we know what Lib zionist attitudes are ‘in general’ .
      Ditto, what anti zionist Jews think.
      You can hardly avoid ‘generalizing’ a group if you’re going to describe what the purpose or beliefs or habits and so on that make them a group are.
      You could legitimately generalize about the Boy Scouts or the KKK .

      People should worry less about generalizing about the Jews,as long as they are clear about what and who, and Jews should also worry less about Jews ‘being generalized’ about —if people quit treating criticism of some Jews as ‘demonizing’ and as a big deal that is going to lead to a holocaust then eventually Jews will quit seeing it that way also. The more (non as) people go too lame about this the more Jews are encouraged to think their fear is actually real.
      If we dont say things critical for fear of creating a holocaust then by gawd!… it must be true!….the ADL and Netyanahu are right!…EVEN the non Jews believe their criticism or opposing some Jewish interest is going to bring on the Jews destruction!
      This dynamic needs to end before it goes on for another century, its ridiculous.

    • RoHa says:

      “Either the arguments are compelling or not. Either the evidence support them or it does not. The race/ethnicity/gender of the person making an argument is, or ought to be, irrelevant. … This is not politics we are talking about, where representation obviously matters, but the world of argument and ideas, which ought to rise or fall strictly on their moral and intellectual merit.”

      Indeed they ought. A good argument is a good argument, no matter who makes it or from what motives it is made. And a bad argument is a bad argument.

      But (and here I am wearing my professional hat) the reality of dealing with arguments is not always straightforward. Sometimes it is very difficult to see what is wrong with a bad argument. This is especially so when the conclusion is fashionable, or conventionally accepted, or preferred for some other reason.

      And we are not talking about a discussion about the metaphysical implications of counterfactual conditionals being conducted in the pages of Mind and The Journal of Philosophy.

      This discussion about I/P is presented in the popular press for people who are not professionals in the field, and who are not likely to have the time to check every detail of the argument. If the same arguments are incessantly repeated, without criticism, and counter-argument, the conclusions are likely to be accepted. What is presented as argument becomes propaganda.

      And it is just a bald fact that the arguments presented American Jews are more likely to be those which arrive at the conclusions preferred by Zionists.

      • RudyM says:

        I’m sympathetic to some of what Alterman is saying here, but ultimately don’t agree.

        Yes, the closer the discussion comes to the pure abstract relationship between ideas, the less the identity of the author matters But as Roha points out:

        And we are not talking about a discussion about the metaphysical implications of counterfactual conditionals being conducted in the pages of Mind and The Journal of Philosophy.

        Certainly where reporting is concerned, I can imagine ethnic (or other identity factors) potentially mattering. Look at some of the close examinations of Jodi Rudoren’s reporting that have appeared here, for instance.

        But more broadly, even in the area of seemingly more abstract arguments (which can only get but so abstract when dealing with social and political realities), it seems to me that we can’t be certain that ethnic identity doesn’t make a difference in how an issue of this sort is perceived. Even well-intentioned individuals may not be able to boot-strap themselves out of culturally conditioned prejudices and biases that may turn out to matter when dealing with a conflict of this sort. Rather than hoping for the best with a lineup primarily made up of Jews, why not include other voices (particularly Palestinian and Arab ones) on a grander scale?

        More controversially, I would add that Jews as an ethnicity seem to be (in general) especially heavily indoctrinated into tribal identification with their group, so that possibly unconscious ethnic biases have to be taken seriously as a possibility in the coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

        Cooks comment here is probably all that really needs to be said, especially assuming a liberal/progressive audience:

        Should The Nation allow white Americans to dominate the coverage of civil rights? Should it allow non-Hispanics to dominate the coverage of immigration? Should it allow men to dominate the coverage of feminism?

        • W.Jones says:

          I read people’s comments above. So really there is no counterargument to saying things like “Most of Industry or wealth group X” is Jewish? Don’t the nationalists have some kind of counterargument? Or is the counterargument they make what Altermann says- look at people’s output, not their background, because this is not politics?

  7. clairseoir says:

    Alterman finds facts irritatingly uncooperative in supporting his point of view: “Blumenthal’s accounts [in Goliath] are mostly technically accurate, but often deliberately deceptive.” On his own interview in Salon, he observes: “I found it narrowly accurate but generally misleading …”. I think Eric feels reality is some kind of anti-Israel plot, and he’s getting increasing pissed off about it.

    • jd65 says:

      thought you should know that when i read this, “I think Eric feels reality is some kind of anti-Israel plot, and he’s getting increasing pissed off about it,” i laughed out loud. no, seriously. out loud for about 10 full seconds. i think it bothered my neighbors. thank you :)

  8. James North says:

    Eric Alterman is in danger of permanently staining his reputation if he keeps this up. You won’t often see editors contradicting one of their columnists at the top of the column, as Nation editors do here with Alterman’s misrepresentation about “too many Jews.”
    Eric Alterman has valuable things to say on many other subjects. He should stay away from Israel/Palestine until he can get his distemper under control.

  9. Pamela Olson says:

    Am I the only one who, when I hear “Eric Alterman,” can only think of Eric Cartman getting all puffed-up mad and ridiculously self-important about something?

    “Come on, you guyz. Respect my authoriteh!”

    • Citizen says:

      @ Pamela Olson
      No. It’s easy to see your thought association there. Interesting that Cartman is the key bad kid in the show, and he’s depicted as a fat white anti-Semitic goy-boy, motivated by purely selfish, materialistic ego at all times. Yes, it’s a cartoon series, and a popular one at that. Would the show get on the air if Cartman’s character was rendered as any other than a white goy male? Something to think about. My first thought is Lindsey Graham…. But, hey all us white male goy-boys are not Graham.

  10. eljay says:

    >> Next he segues into a baffling and brief discussion about who is a Jew:
    >> How is The Nation to decide how many Jews are too many when Jews themselves cannot agree on who’s Jewish?

    It’s not so baffling: Even the Zio-supremacists here on MW can’t seem to make up their minds about what is Jewish and who can be Jewish.

  11. hophmi says:

    As I’ve told you many times, in the real world, pointing to a person’s religion or ethnic origin in this way, this bean-counting way, is bald racism, and you guys are about the only ones who don’t get it.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “As I’ve told you many times, in the real world, pointing to a person’s religion or ethnic origin in this way, this bean-counting way, is bald racism, and you guys are about the only ones who don’t get it.”

      LMAO. No, it’s exactly the same as pointing out the low number of blacks and Jews in the Ivy League back in the days when blatent racism skewed the numbers.

      • Citizen says:

        @ Woody
        Or pointing out the jews in the Fed top spots over the years? Or the number of Jews in Congress in proportion to their numbers in the general populace? Or, check out the pro basket ball teams, and NFL teams. How about the whites in pro Hockey? Should we all just ignored this counting. How about the number of NFL teams owned by Jews?

    • Donald says:

      You and Alterman are missing the point. The point is that Palestinians are under-represented in a progressive magazine on the issue of their own oppression and ethnic cleansing. It’s normal for women and liberals and blacks and others to complain that, for instance, the vast majority of the guests on the Sunday political talk shows are affluent white men, even if they happen to be talking about poverty or sexism or racism in America. I know I’ve seen this complaint made at FAIR and on blogs, but won’t look it up. Surely you’ve heard such complaints too. This is not racism or sexism against white men–it’s a complaint that if you are talking about sexism then a significant fraction of your panel should be women. It’s common sense. Similarly, if you are writing about the I/P conflict, then surely a large fraction of your writers should be Palestinian, assuming there are some available to write articles, and as it happens, there are. (I qualified that because one could imagine cases of oppression where members of the victimized group simply aren’t available–for instance, I don’t think there were too many Timorese living in the US when Indonesia was occupying East Timor. Ramos-Horta was around, but he’s the only one I know about. So it was mostly progressive Western activists writing about East Timor.)

      Part of the background to this in the case of the I/P conflict is probably that a pro-Palestinian Jewish writer gives some insulation against charges of anti-semitism. The Nakba was no secret to the Palestinians, but it didn’t become a part of the discussion in the West until Israeli revisionist historians started writing about it, based on what Israeli documents revealed.

      • Citizen says:

        Yes, interesting that’s what it took to bring historical facts about the Nakba to American intelligentsia. What does that say about the goys in the History profession?

    • Krauss says:

      As I’ve told you many times, in the real world, pointing to a person’s religion or ethnic origin in this way, this bean-counting way, is bald racism, and you guys are about the only ones who don’t get it.

      It is? So it’s also racism when people bean-count whites on the Forbes 500 CEO list or in the mainstream media positions? Or in Silicon Valley?

      Let’s be honest hophmi, you have no principles. You’re only against this now because it’s Jews. It’s the only reason. Your ethno-religious group stands to lose so you get defensive and angry.

      You are the Jewish mirror image to a white Christian who rants about “reverse racism” when his white privilege is exposed. You’re not really different at all.

    • Talkback says:

      To readers who don’t fall for hophmi’s stupidity: In a conflict between two nations one would expect for reason of balance not to read only from people which belong only to one of them.

      • German Lefty says:

        In a conflict between two nations one would expect for reason of balance not to read only from people which belong only to one of them.

        Talkback, your statement is based on the false assumption that your nationality determines your viewpoint. However, not all Jews are Zionists and not all Palestinians are anti-Zionists. Therefore, in order to get an idea of the different viewpoints, people need to read articles written by Zionists and by anti-Zionists. The nationality of the writers is totally irrelevant.

        • Talkback says:

          In other words, it could continue to be an inner Jewish debate, right?

          • German Lefty says:

            In other words, it could continue to be an inner Jewish debate, right?

            To me, it doesn’t matter HOW Palestinians get equal rights. What matters is THAT Palestinians get equal rights. If an inner Jewish debate serves that purpose, then I am totally fine with it. Israel keeps misusing the Holocaust and accusations of anti-Semitism in order to get away with its crimes. Therefore, it’s all the more important that anti-Zionist Jews speak out. They are living proof that Israel is lying.

          • Talkback says:

            If …

            … I were a rich man – ya ba dibba dibba dibba dibba dibba dibba dum ♫

            Israel keeps misusing the Holocaust and accusations of anti-Semitism in order to get away with its crimes. Therefore, it’s all the more important that anti-Zionist Jews speak out. They are living proof that Israel is lying.

            There’s no logic in what you are saying.

  12. RE: In his latest column, Alterman causally dismisses criticisms, accepted even by The Nation’s editors, that in an earlier piece he inaccurately characterised Khalek as argues there were “too many Jews” writing for the magazine. He admits that she may not have actually made that claim but his point stands nonetheless. ~ Jonathan Cook

    MY COMMENT: Eric Alterman is beginning to remind me of “Red Sox” over at Daily Kos!
    Is he, or isn’t he? Enquiring minds mimes want to know!™

  13. goldmarx says:

    The case against Alterman is much simpler than Cook makes out.

    In order to discredit Max Blumenthal, Alterman wrote that he – Blumenthal – was praised by white supremacist David Duke. Alterman did this knowing full well that Duke had praised HIM – Alterman – years before for attacking billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

    For that reason alone, Eric Alterman should be fired.

  14. German Lefty says:

    Either the arguments are compelling or not. Either the evidence support them or it does not. The race/ethnicity/gender of the person making an argument is, or ought to be, irrelevant. … This is not politics we are talking about, where representation obviously matters, but the world of argument and ideas, which ought to rise or fall strictly on their moral and intellectual merit.

    As much as I hate it, but I have to agree with Alterman on this one. What counts is that anti-Zionist arguments are presented in The Nation. It shouldn’t matter whether these arguments come from a person who is Jewish, Palestinian, or neither. The arguments should speak for themselves. The race/ethnicity/gender/sexual orientation of the person who makes them should be irrelevant.
    You don’t need to be gay in order to defend gay rights. You don’t need to be a woman in order to defend women’s rights. You don’t need to be black in order to defend black people’s rights. Furthermore, a woman doesn’t necessarily support women’s rights, e.g. Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann. There are also a lot of self-hating gays who oppose marriage equality. Likewise, a Palestinian doesn’t necessarily support Palestinian rights, e.g. Ahmad Mansour.
    I do not care about the race/ethnicity/gender/sexual orientation of the people who speak out for equal rights. What matters is that people speak out at all and that they make reasonable arguments.

    Is he saying that there are so few Arabs / Palestinians writing about Israel-Palestine because they have no credible arguments, or because they are just too dumb to make a credible case, so Jews need to do it for them?

    No, Mr Cook. That’s not what he is saying at all. You put words in his mouth.
    The thing is that there are no specific “Jewish arguments”, “Palestinian arguments”, or “German arguments” against Zionism. Jewish anti-Zionists, Palestinian anti-Zionists, or German anti-Zionists all use the SAME reasonable arguments. Therefore, it’s irrelevant who makes them. What matters is that they are made at all.
    Likewise, straight people use the same arguments as gay people when making the case for marriage equality. Also, Zionists always use the same (stupid) arguments, no matter if they are German Zionists, US Zionists, or Israeli Zionists.

    Should The Nation allow white Americans to dominate the coverage of civil rights? Should it allow non-Hispanics to dominate the coverage of immigration? Should it allow men to dominate the coverage of feminism?

    Sure. Why not? Or do you believe that white Americans don’t support civil rights, that non-Hispanics don’t support immigration, and that men don’t support feminism? Chris Hayes does a much better job at defending women’s rights than Sarah Palin. It sounds like you are prejudiced and favour reverse discrimination. No, thanks!

    Khalek and others are not waging a McCarthyite campaign against Jews at The Nation; they are asking for the door to be more open to Palestinians and Arabs writing on an issue [...].

    Khalek wrote: “Four were written by Jewish Americans and just one by a Palestinian. [...] The Nation habitually reinforces Israeli apartheid by privileging Jewish voices over Palestinian ones.” She clearly complains that there are too many Jewish voices – compared to Palestinian voices. Therefore, Alterman has a point when he says that it’s difficult to determine what “Jewish voices” are because there is no agreement on what the word “Jew” means.

    • American says:

      “”Therefore, Alterman has a point when he says that it’s difficult to determine what “Jewish voices” are because there is no agreement on what the word “Jew” means.”"

      Well thats a typical cop out by Alterman imo….its not necessary for any or everyone to agree on what Jew means ….from what I’ve seen Jews dont even agree on all that.
      It ‘means’ whatever the particular Jew who calls himself a Jew thinks it means or believes it should mean.
      So its silly.
      And the fact remains most I/P writers, pundits, etc in media and press are Pro Israel, the majority can be recognized as Jewish because we mostly see the same ones over and over again—ones that we already know are Jewish from having been exposed to them before and have already checked on the possible reasons for their POV.
      The complaint is that Jewish zionist and pro I’s get more space and opportunity to present “their view of Israel’, and thats all is, their view, their side…..while Palestines dont get the space and equal opportunity to present their side.
      And this is true, they dont.

      So your lofty position on how the ethnic shouldnt matter is nice and most people agree —BUT—- that is not the reality of what is happening in Isr vr Palestine facts and information available to the public.
      One ethnic side, the Israel side presented mostly by Pro I Jews has the advantage here, so the ideal isnt happening.
      Its a legitimate complaint and Alterman is doing the usual baffling with bullshit.

      • ziusudra says:

        Greetings American,
        Here on German TV Jews, Israelis, Zionists have a forum, period.
        Falesteena, Syria & Iran ne’er have one. This means every & any News Channel, Reportage or Talk Show!!!
        ziusudra
        PS There isn’t a day that goes by w/o historical reports of Jewish WWII
        sufferings or biographies on some private TV Channel.
        We have up to 3 mn. Turks, up to 200k Jews, but you only see Commercials with Blacks & Asians!!! Curiously only black males with
        blond Girls! Methinks, my lapsed catholic eyes are wired racially?!

      • German Lefty says:

        The complaint is that Jewish zionist and pro I’s get more space and opportunity to present “their view of Israel’
        No, this is not the complaint. You should read the articles by Khalek and Cook again.

        Palestines dont get the space and equal opportunity to present their side
        What Palestinian side? There is no Palestinian side. There’s a “conservative Zionist” side, a “liberal Zionist” side, and an anti-Zionist side. The anti-Zionist side can be presented by a Jew, by a Palestinian, or by a German like me.

        • American says:

          “No, this is not the complaint. You should read the articles by Khalek and Cook again……..German Lefty.

          You quit smoking whatever you’re smoking and read it again..what does this say?

          ”’that not only establishment media such as the New York Times but also progressive media in the US, such as The Nation, have marginalised Palestinian and Arab voices on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, preferring to allow Israeli and Jewish voices to dominate”

          And if there is no Palestinian side to I/P there really is no need for a female ‘side’ in feminism is there? So you should shut up about feminism, your just ‘the subject’ under discussion, we dont need your opinion or for you to speak. We men will select the feminism men to speak for you.

          This is the kind of idiot nonsense that is argued when people have personal causes or issues that screws up their minds because whatever ‘ideological approach or position’ they have ‘adopted’ about their issue they try to transfer to all other issues.

          • German Lefty says:

            And if there is no Palestinian side to I/P there really is no need for a female ‘side’ in feminism is there?
            Indeed, there is no single “female side” to feminism. This means that women don’t have a collective opinion on feminism. Feminism means different things to different women. For example, some female feminists believe that prostitution is exploitation and want to outlaw it. Other female feminists, however, demand equal workers’ rights for prostitutes. Then, there are women who reject feminism and who want to outlaw abortion. The same diversity of opinions can be found among men. Therefore, it’s pointless to talk about a “female side” and a “male side” to feminism. The same applies to the I-P conflict. There is no “Palestinian side” and no “Jewish side”. Not all Palestinians are anti-Zionists and not all Jews are Zionists.

            So you should shut up about feminism, you are just ‘the subject’ under discussion, we don’t need your opinion or for you to speak.
            Now you are twisting my words. I did NOT say that Palestinians should shut up. I just stated that it does not matter to me whether the anti-Zionist side is presented by a Jew or by a Palestinian. Palestinians need non-Palestinian allies in order get equal rights, just like gay people need straight allies in order to get equal rights. Therefore, articles by non-Palestinian anti-Zionists are just as valuable as articles by Palestinian anti-Zionists. However, Khalek and Cook complained about too many Jewish voices compared to Palestinian voices. This is a devaluation of Jewish anti-Zionist voices. And that’s what pisses me off.

    • Sibiriak says:

      German Lefty :

      Either the arguments are compelling or not. Either the evidence support them or it does not. The race/ethnicity/gender of the person making an argument is, or ought to be, irrelevant. … This is not politics we are talking about, where representation obviously matters, but the world of argument and ideas, which ought to rise or fall strictly on their moral and intellectual merit.

      As much as I hate it, but I have to agree with Alterman on this one. What counts is that anti-Zionist arguments are presented in The Nation. It shouldn’t matter whether these arguments come from a person who is Jewish, Palestinian, or neither. The arguments should speak for themselves. The race/ethnicity/gender/sexual orientation of the person who makes them should be irrelevant. [ETC.]

      Good post; strong arguments. I agree there is no good reason why someone like Neve Gordon, who may identify with many human groupings, should be tagged primarily and essentially as “a Jew” and the implication made that his viewpoint is somehow essentially “Jewish” or that his is a “Jewish voice”.

      I agree that the issue should not be framed as “two many Jewish voices compared to Palestinian voices.” But still, something’s not right at The Nation. It seems to me that Palestinians are being positively discriminated against. How else to account for so few contributions by Palestinians on an issue where so many well-informed and articulate Palestinians abound?

      • German Lefty says:

        It seems to me that Palestinians are being positively discriminated against. How else to account for so few contributions by Palestinians on an issue where so many well-informed and articulate Palestinians abound?

        In 2012, American Jewish population was estimated at between 5.5-8 million. link to en.wikipedia.org
        At least 1.9 million Americans are of Arab descent. 5% of them are Palestinian. link to aaiusa.org
        As you can see, there are many more Jewish Americans than Palestinian Americans. That’s why it’s not surprising that there are more Jewish voices than Palestinian voices in a US magazine.
        Besides, who is more likely to convince a racist Jew of anti-Zionism? Of course, a racist Jew is a bit more open to the arguments of a fellow Jew than to the arguments of a Palestinian, even if the arguments are exactly the same. Likewise, a sexist man is more willing to listen to a fellow man than to a woman. Therefore, it’s important to give feminist men a platform too and not to leave all the feminist talk to women.

        • Sibiriak says:

          GermanLefty:

          As you can see, there are many more Jewish Americans than Palestinian Americans. That’s why it’s not surprising that there are more Jewish voices than Palestinian voices in a US magazine.

          I don’t see how population U.S. statistics can explain the dominance of Jewish contributors or lack of Palestinians. If that were the case, we would expect to see hardly any Jews at all, let alone Palestinians.

          I think you make some good points, but you’re really pushing your argument too far.

    • Donald says:

      “Should it allow men to dominate the coverage of feminism?”

      “Sure. Why not?”

      Your position is self-refuting. You should be thanked–you’re taking such an obviously absurd extreme position it shows exactly what is wrong with Alterman’s argument. I’d like to see him go to Katrina vanden Heuvel (sp?) and make that case on feminism. There is no valid reason why men should dominate the coverage of feminism–half the population is female and the only reason a discussion on feminism would be dominated by men would be that the society is biased against women. Well, there’s another reason–by some wild statistical fluke it could just so happen that every time a TV show decided to have a panel to discuss feminism, or every time a news outlet decided to commission an article on the subject, the only available people were men. The odds are somewhat against this being true.

      “Chris Hayes does a much better job at defending women’s rights than Sarah Palin. It sounds like you are prejudiced and favour reverse discrimination. No, thanks!”

      Because Chris Hayes would do a good job defending women’s rights, he would undoubtedly want to distance himself from a silly argument which premises a situation where the only choices were between having men like Chris Hayes discuss feminism vs. women like Sarah Palin. The fact that you had to resort to this ridiculous comparison shows that you don’t have a case. You think our culture could run a fine debate with nothing but white males taking all sides of the issues. No doubt, but if all debates on feminism are dominated by men then it suggests a society or magazine or TV show with a bias against women.

      • German Lefty says:

        @ Donald

        Your position is self-refuting.
        No, it’s not. Obviously, you don’t understand my position.

        There is no valid reason why men should dominate the coverage of feminism.
        You put words into my mouth. I have never said that men should dominate the coverage of feminism. Cook asked if men should be allowed to dominate the coverage of feminism. That’s a totally different question. If you don’t understand the difference in meaning, then I am sorry for you. Of course, men should be allowed to dominate the coverage of feminism, just like women should be allowed to dominate the coverage of feminism. Equal rights for everyone. What I am trying to say is that it doesn’t matter what gender dominates the coverage of feminism. What matters is that the coverage of feminism is dominated by equal rights supporters, regardless of their gender. We need to focus on what is the message, not on who is the messenger. The same applies to the I-P conflict. It doesn’t matter if the coverage of the I-P conflict is dominated by Jews or by Palestinians. I want the coverage of the I-P conflict to be dominated by anti-Zionists, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. The ethnic or religious background of someone is only relevant to people who are against equal rights and who want to discriminate.

        the only reason a discussion on feminism would be dominated by men would be that the society is biased against women
        No, that’s not correct at all. It depends on what kind of men dominate the debate. Are they feminist men or sexist men? You seem to think that men are less capable of supporting equal rights than women. This shows that you have a bias against men.

        a silly argument which premises a situation where the only choices were between having men like Chris Hayes discuss feminism vs. women like Sarah Palin.
        Again, you twist my words. I have never claimed that these are the only choices available. I merely gave an example. There are a lot of feminist men like Chris Hayes and a lot of anti-feminist women like Sarah Palin. Conclusion: Picking a woman to talk about women’s rights isn’t necessarily a good choice. Picking a man to talk about women’s rights isn’t necessarily a bad choice. What matters is a person’s view, not a person’s gender.

        You think our culture could run a fine debate with nothing but white males taking all sides of the issues.
        Of course, that’s possible. You seem to believe that white men don’t have diverse opinions. However, just because they “look” the same doesn’t mean that they “think” the same. So, don’t you dare to throw all white men into the same pot. Because that would be racist and sexist.
        By the way, I am a feminist woman. And I am sick of the constant demonisation of men. I am all for demonising sexist men (and sexist women). However, I am very much against demonising men in general.

        • Donald says:

          You think that in some hypothetical world where there equal numbers of men and women, it could just happen to work out that all the debates on feminism are conducted by men and this wouldn’t matter if the men take the pro-feminist position. I agree that it could just happen to work out that way, but it is extraordinarily unlikely–in most cases if debates on issues are dominated by men, including the debates on feminism, the odds are overwhelmingly likely that this indicates some sort of bias in the society or at the news organization. They preach feminism but they don’t practice it.

          You’re arguing for some hypothetical extreme, a statistical outlier of no practical consequence in the real world. In the real world, when debates on feminism are dominated by men, it shows bias, perhaps unconscious, but bias.

          “Of course, that’s possible. You seem to believe that white men don’t have diverse opinions. However, just because they “look” the same doesn’t mean that they “think” the same. So, don’t you dare to throw all white men into the same pot. Because that would be racist and sexist.”

          Which only illustrates that one of us is indeed unable to understand the other’s position, but it’s not the person you think it is. I don’t like identity politics or the demonization of men or the demonization of Jews or non-Jews or Palestinians or the valorization of oppressed groups (which is partly how Israel got in the position of being able to oppress Palestinians while liberals ignored it), but your position is so unrealistic and extreme in the other direction it becomes absurd. It’s more a question for an introductory course in probability theory–in a society with equal numbers of men and women and no bias, what are the chances that discussions of feminism would be dominated by men? Of course one would have to supply some more numbers here to get an exact answer, but the student should expect to find a pretty low probability.

          Anyway, I’ve got stuff to do and I don’t expect you to acknowledge my point, and yours seems to hinge on the already well known fact that white guys aren’t all the same, so that’s it for me.

        • Sibiriak says:

          German Lefty:

          Picking a woman to talk about women’s rights isn’t necessarily a good choice. Picking a man to talk about women’s rights isn’t necessarily a bad choice. What matters is a person’s view, not a person’s gender.

          That’s true to a point. But it ignores the fact that the content of the arguments isn’t the only message conveyed. If only men present pro-feminist arguments , an anti-feminist message is still conveyed, namely, that there aren’t many women capable or willing to be articulate spokespersons in the media (= rational debate is a man’s world).

      • NickJOCW says:

        …if all debates on feminism are dominated by men then it suggests a society or magazine or TV show with a bias against women.. I fear I must support German Lefty in this matter, it suggests nothing nothing more to me than a bunch of men debating feminism. If you want a lively debate select contributors with interestingly opposing views. Pure objectivity is an abstract concept and unachievable in the real world; the closer you reach for it the more elusive it proves to be.

        • Donald says:

          ” I fear I must support German Lefty in this matter, it suggests nothing nothing more to me than a bunch of men debating feminism”

          I could retype my argument, but there’d be no point, since you give no indication of having read it the first couple of times.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “What counts is that anti-Zionist arguments are presented in The Nation. It shouldn’t matter whether these arguments come from a person who is Jewish, Palestinian, or neither. The arguments should speak for themselves. The race/ethnicity/gender/sexual orientation of the person who makes them should be irrelevant.”

      Well, they should be, but they aren’t (which you yourself recognized in a later post when you noted that one’s ethnicity can be an element of persuasion.

      Your argument is one in the abstract and fails to recognize that, in reality, the nature and content of the argument is often dependent on the person making it (which is why so many “pro-Palestinian” arguments in the media take a position concerning what it good or bad for israel).

  15. seafoid says:

    “To complain about too many Jews writing on the Middle East or any other issue is to essentialize a racial/ethnic characteristic and ignore the quality of argument and evidence. … Either the arguments are compelling or not”

    In the New York Review the arguments don’t even reach flimsy.
    Johnny Freedland in the Guardian. The arguments are shite
    The issue is very clear. Elites framing the debate.
    Only Jews can be relied on to stop any info getting out.

    It’s critical to ‘frame’ or describe the problem in a way which leads ‘naturally’ and ‘inevitably’ to the conclusions one is seeking to implant, and thus to the real world outcome which one wants.

    link to amazon.com

    One of Bourdieu’s aphorisms is that ‘the dominant retain their position by constantly changing their stance’. This leads to all sorts of real world contradictions, so the debate has to be structured is such a way as to ensure the ‘nonsensical aspect’ is concealed. Beinart Beinart Beinart. This is traditionally achieved by limiting the scope of the debate, the number of ‘legitimate’ contributors, and shutting down alternative debates by force if necessary. Freedland Burston WTF.

    “Israel is interested in peace”- who else can write about this with a straight face in 2014?

    • Sibiriak says:

      seafoid:

      The issue is very clear. Elites framing the debate.
      Only Jews can be relied on to stop any info getting out.

      What? Only Jews?

    • Chu says:

      “Israel is interested in peace”- No one could say this today. But they can say “Israel is interested in security”, although I’m not sure if anyone would buy the flawed logic.

      More settlements = security ? Not likely

  16. American says:

    ”Either the arguments are compelling or not. Either the evidence support them or it does not. The race/ethnicity/gender of the person making an argument is, or ought to be, irrelevant. … This is not politics we are talking about, where representation obviously matters, but the world of argument and ideas, which ought to rise or fall strictly on their moral and intellectual merit.”

    Well his argument fails imo.
    And the evidence does not support the zionist arguement…..by “moral and intellectual merit”….not to mention legal merit.
    And yea, the race/ethnicity/gender of the person making an argument is, or ought to be, irrelevant …but its not is it? …because the pro Israel individuals do dominate by far the objective individuals and other interested and affected parties in our medias.

    If the Nation wants to come totally clean though let them feature the Palestine and the American side also. ..I would even allow them some christ zios Americans to present their religious case on Israel—-and still be confident that on the moral, intellectual and legal grounds the majority of normal non biased people would reject both the zionist and chris zio defenses for Israel’s treatment of Palestine and condemn their activities in US politics that has enabled it.

    • seafoid says:

      Moral and intellectual merit yada yada. Beinart gave up arguing how many angels can fit on a pin in a democratic Jewish state on his website because it is pointless.

      Third and fourth generation Palestinians (if 1948 is intellectual year zero) such as Shehadeh and Salaita do not get the exposure because the bots know they have the intellectual capacity to reduce the racist memes of Zionism to the status of a Glenn Beck rant. The bots have no choice. They have to frame the debate so nothing gets through and they can’t even do that properly now.

      They have had the stage for over 80 years and they think they can reissue their greatest hits into eternity. They thought the Palestinians could never manage them intellectually.

      It’s like cotton eye Joe vs 212

      I heard you ridin’ with the same tall, tall tale
      Tellin’ em you made some
      Sayin’ you runnin’ but you ain’t goin’ no where
      Why you procrastinate girl?
      You got a lot but you just waste all yourself
      They’ll forget your name soon
      And won’t nobody be to blame but yourself, yeah

      What you gone do when I appear?
      W-when I premier?
      Bitch the end of your life are near
      This shit been mine, mine
      What you gone do when I appear?
      W-when I premier?
      Bitch the end of your life are near
      This shit been mine, mine

    • Sibiriak says:

      American:

      If the Nation wants to come totally clean though let them feature the Palestine and the American side also

      Are you suggesting Israeli Neve Gordon (mentioned by Ali Abunimah) presents the “Jewish side” or “Israeli side”?

      • American says:

        @Sibiriak

        The ‘actual’ argument/complaint was that Jews dominate the I/P exposure.
        Israeli Neve Gordon has a different pov from the zionist but the fact remains he is Israeli and Jewish…that is the point.
        And the other point is his opposite pov doesnt get nearly the exposure that the US I-Zionist do.
        Palestines can speak for themselves and should be given equal space.
        When Jews speaks up for the Palestines thats great.
        But we all understand that for the zionist Jews dominating I/P is a way to keep the power and disempower the Palestines and control the story in the media and what the public hears and reads.

        • Sibiriak says:

          American:

          When Jews speaks up for the Palestines thats great.

          But we all understand that for the zionist Jews dominating I/P is a way to keep the power and disempower the Palestines and control the story in the media and what the public hears and reads.

          I agree with all that. But I also believe we must be careful not to assume that ethnicity/nationality determines a person’s views
          or a person’s core identity.

          And we don’t want to rule out the possibility of a person being simply a human being speaking up for other human beings.

          • American says:

            Sibiriak says..

            ‘And we don’t want to rule out the possibility of a person being simply a human being speaking up for other human beings.”….

            I dont think anyone is ruling that out, there are examples of it in this and many issues.
            Its just that in this case the zio Jews whose pov , from what I can see, does spring solely from their ethnic/religo identity are the ones dominating.

  17. Editor, please note the misspelling : Alterman causally dismisses criticisms, It should be casually.

  18. clairseoir says:

    Hophmi, your breathtaking hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me. “[I]n the real world, pointing to a person’s religion or ethnic origin in this way, this bean-counting way, is bald racism.” Really? It is precisely been-counting religious and ethnic origins upon which the Israeli state is based. Or do the words “demographic threat” not ring a bell? The endless mi hu yehudi wrangles? The non-recognition of the Israeli nationality on that state’s passports? Give us a small break!

  19. This is not politics we are talking about, where representation obviously matters, but the world of argument and ideas, which ought to rise or fall strictly on their moral and intellectual merit.

    if ideas ought to rise or fall strictly on their moral and intellectual merit alterman shouldn’t be writing on max blumenthal, israel/palestine, or even allowed to publish his response to Khalek. because all he offered was a strawman. Khalek never made the claim he’s arguing against. there’s no moral or intellectual merit to arguing a strawman.

  20. jd65 says:

    I wrote off Alterman as a major league jackass after witnessing his idiotically misplaced venom heaped on the great Ralph Nader in the documentary “An Unreasonable Man.” If Nader wasn’t a Lebanese-American who openly criticizes Israel when they deserve it, I’d bet Alterman wouldn’t've blamed Nader for Bush winning the election and subsequently for all the ills caused by the that administration. He is a Jackass and one of the best examples of the so-called PEP.

  21. I shouldn’t have to explain this but I will.
    Alterman is arguing in one way against diversity why in another way arguing for it.
    He’s saying that only Zionists can refer to themselves as Jewish. Non Jews are suspect.

    “I’m a Jew” – OK
    “You’re a Jew” – Suspect/Red Flag
    “I’m black.”- OK
    “You’re black.” – Suspect/Red Flag

    It’s a bit of paranoia. Jews have it; blacks have it; Arabs have it. It’s a non-white thing. Some of you wouldn’t understand. Of course women and homosexuals have it, and its justified. The poor have it. That’s why it’s called “race/class/sex/sexual orientation” etc. in the order you prefer.

    link to haaretz.com
    Clyde Haberman
    “Jews still don’t believe that the world won’t turn on them. It’s hardwired into their systems. They can’t accept that the Holocaust is a distant memory for most of the world’s population and they get upset when they are not perceived as perennial victims, even though they hardly look like victims anymore.”

    I don’t agree with Haberman. I see anti-semitism everywhere, because it is, just as other forms of bigotry are everywhere. Zionists now insist on calling themselves white. The JNF uses photographs of little blonde girls in their fundraising pitches. link to mondoweiss.net

    it’s still a white man’s world. Another reason I insist on pointing out the genetic connection of Jews to Palestine: because Jews have dark skin and big noses. I understand Alterman’s paranoia because Meir Kahane and Farrakhan are cut from the same cloth. Fascist hate begins in self-hatred.
    Zionist liberals are conflicted in ways Likudniks aren’t; that’s all.

    • American says:

      ”I don’t agree with Haberman. I see anti-semitism everywhere, because it is, just as other forms of bigotry are everywhere.’…Seth

      Er….. you need to consider that maybe it isnt all anti semitism or bigotry…..maybe some people just dont like a Jew or a black or whoever just because that person is a asshole and it has nothing to do with their ethnic or color.

  22. stopaipac says:

    one of the funniest parts of Alterman’s rant is that Mondoweiss (a website that is subtitled “the war of ideas in the Middle East”, along with Electronic Intifada, write “pretty much exclusively (and obsessively) about the Middle East”. so he alleges, quite strangely, that websites that are dedicated to writing viewpoints on the Middle East are “obsessive”, as if they were victims of some neurosis, because they write about the subject that the websites are dedicated to writing about. Very strange, very funny, in a sad sort of way. He Needs help.

  23. seafoid says:

    ” Should The Nation allow white Americans to dominate the coverage of civil rights? Should it allow non-Hispanics to dominate the coverage of immigration? Should it allow men to dominate the coverage of feminism?”

    We have been through this already, back in the 1970s. Female, GLBT and non white voices were all added to the choir. Israel is 40 years late.
    It is a historical anachronism.

  24. Since this is about the Nation it is not strictly off topic.
    The first paragraph of Max Blumenthal’s article on Sharon deserves attention:

    The first act of Sharon’s career began after the 1948 war that established Israel at the expense of 750,000 Palestinians who were driven away in a campaign of mass expulsion. Badly wounded in the battle of Latrun, where the Israeli army suffered a bitter defeat at the hands of the Royal Jordanian Army, Sharon momentarily retired from army life. He looked back in anger at the failure to take Latrun, a strategic swath of land containing three Palestinian towns seemingly obstructing the new Jewish state’s demographic continuity. Spineless politicians and feckless commanders had tied the hands of Israel’s troops, he claimed, leaving the Jewish state exposed from within. Sharon yearned to finish 1948—to complete the expulsion project he viewed as deficient.

    I hesitate to comment because I have not studied the topography of Latrun. But if memory serves me correctly it is not demographic continuity that Latrun obstructed, rather the ability to travel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the logical route rather than by an illogical route. (through mountains rather than through a valley or plain).

    If this is factual then Max’s sentence is false propaganda. Am I right or is Max right?

    • Not nearly as serious, but still sloppy journalism is this line of Max’s.

      In short order, Sharon helped found the Likud Party, opening the second act of his storied career.

      People who are unaware of the development of the Likud Party from Gachal and the evolution of Herut into Gachal, might think that Sharon helped found Herut, which is patently untrue and this line is quite misleading. Clarity is something that journalism is supposed to value. This line is certainly unclear.

    • jon s says:

      Yonah, Fact is that despite the repeated military debacles at Latrun, Israel managed without it, 1948-1967, and the road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem was open.
      It seems to me that the last line cited from Max Blumenthal is more important . I would be interested in seeing any source or direct quote from Sharon to the effect that at that time he wished “to complete the expulsion project…”

  25. I will have to go back and see how Burston deals with this line: the liberal newspaper Haaretz demanded “a war about the morning’s coffee and croissant.”

    In Max’s article one really has no frigging idea what is meant by that line. If one goes back to the Haaretz article ( a bit of google reveals it was written by Adi Shveet), the line means that the very fabric of day to day quotidian routine life was under attack in the intifada. Why does Max require one to do research in order to understand what the f was meant by the line. He knows most people won’t do the research. and the upshot is that Haaretz had become unreasonable. (One can argue their reason, but only if one understands what the line means. Max wants them to be declared unreasonable without understanding what the line means.) Is this journalism or just plain sloppiness or propaganda under the guise of journalism.

    • Max writes “culminating, in 2002, in the comprehensive demolition of the Jenin refugee camp.” Is this accurate? I think not, but I haven’t studied the battle against Jenin. How complete does demolition need to be be for it to be called comprehensive. I’d think somewhere around half would be near enough for it to be called comprehensive. Otherwise I think the journalistic phrase would be widespread demolition. This is propaganda, although if it’s around half, I will withdraw my complaint. And I agree that Jenin is a topic that needs discussing rather than dismissing, but journalism stands on truth or it is not journalism, it becomes propaganda.

      • Then Max writes: “Next, he bolted from Likud, cobbling together a random assortment of politicians.”

        How accurate is this condensation of events? Sharon did not bolt from Likud, per se. Sharon was voted out of Likud. Likud held a referendum on the withdrawal and voted it down. Sharon had two choices, listen to the referendum or leave Likud. He left Likud. But for some reason this is not worthy of attention, instead we have “he bolted from Likud”. This is not false, but I don’t think it is accurate. Or should I say, a few more sentences and he could have drawn a more accurate picture and this seems sloppy, he only includes what makes his point and he’s not trying to communicate the facts.

  26. Donald says:

    One thing that’s interesting about this Alterman thing is that it illustrates a general principle and this principle needs a name, the way “Godwin’s Law” needed one. It’d good to put labels on certain patterns, because it makes it easier to identify them when they occur. Anyway, here’s the pattern–Whenever someone complains or points out some injustice to the Palestinians, even one where it’s a question of Palestinian intellectuals not given enough space in a progressive magazine, invariably the topic somehow gets shifted to anti-semitism.

    Now this pattern needs a pithier summation than what I just gave it, and an even pithier name, something like the Abe Foxman principle or the Dershowitz dance step, or whatever.

    The other point–a few people in this thread seem to find it difficult to understand why Palestinians should have a voice in discussions about their own oppression. Just let others do it–who cares? There are a few problems here. First, it’s not enough if some non-Palestinian comes out on behalf of Palestinians in favor of, say a 1ss or a 2ss–I would like to know what Palestinians themselves want, and the more of them speak out the better informed we will all be. Second, if you just have anti-Zionist Jews speak out on their behalf, and Palestinians aren’t given a voice, and this is no criticism of anti-Zionist Jews, it just feeds into the unspoken narrative that some deserve to have a voice and that criticism of Israel means nothing until it comes from Jews. Why was the Nakba ignored in the West until Benny Morris came out with his book on the subject? Well, because only Jews were taken seriously on the subject of what happened to Palestinian refugees.

    There’s also this claim that you’ll hear that at least in Israel there is debate–the implication being that with Palestinians or Arabs in general you just have victims or maybe terrorists or people who toe a particular line. It’s easier to pass something like that off as the truth if you hear very little from Palestinians themselves–if it all has to be filtered through the words of others. It sounds all nice and noble to say that truth is truth no matter who says it and of course that’s right, but one of the truths here is that oppressed people should have the right to speak out on their own behalf and not have well-intentioned others do all their talking for them.

    I can’t believe any of this has to be pointed out. It’s as if all the struggles people have engaged in to have a voice meant nothing–they should have just handed everything over to some well spoken and sympathetic white guys to speak for them. (And again, no slap intended against well-intentioned and sympathetic white guys.)

    • Sibiriak says:

      Donald: Donald:

      Whenever someone complains or points out some injustice to the Palestinians, even one where it’s a question of Palestinian intellectuals not given enough space in a progressive magazine, invariably the topic somehow gets shifted to anti-semitism.

      Now this pattern needs a pithier summation than what I just gave it, and an even pithier name, something like the Abe Foxman principle or the Dershowitz dance step, or whatever.

      The Foxman Flip“; “The Dershowitz Dodge“.

      Or maybe something more general; something like “The Antisemitism Canard“:

      The Antisemitism Sidestep” (too long, bad rhythm, no punch)

      This is not right, but I like the rhyme:

      The Antisemitic Emetic

    • Ron Edwards says:

      Great post, plus I vote for “the Dershowitz Blitz.” I think it’s accurate, satisfyingly insulting, and tuneful. And we need it! Creationists got a cream pie in the face every time they Gish-galloped, once it had a name.