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Total number of comments: 40 (since 2014-01-26 01:02:03)

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  • Against self-determination
    • You are indeed on the right path Phil - a humanist world view for the 3rd millennium. Keep up your good work. This is the future.

  • Lobbyist tells Eliot Engel he has 'the blood of hundreds of Palestinian children on his hands'
  • 'One nation, one state, one leader' -- frightening slogan at Tel Aviv protest
  • 'We are all Palestinian'
  • Gaza war gives rise to new Jewish group targeting Jewish institutions that support occupation
  • Where was God in the Warsaw Ghetto? Or in Gaza?
    • Since I don't believe in any god(s), I believe the only ones who do pass judgement is ourselves - although nature has it's laws as well, they are not moral, but solely based on might-makes-right. So in that sense, the global collective has the role a a judging God on this matter. The question is: when will people worldwide rise up against Israel's racism?

      I would look at Israeli internal demographics as a ticking bomb that will eventually leave the nation alone, destabilized and without allies. If you want to look at that through a theological perspective, you could say that Israel has been given time to make peace, allow refugees back and make a state for all citizens that is not based on ethnic cleansing of the ones you don't like.

      Look at the increasing number of children from religious schools. These are now about 40% of the newest high school generation (!) and 82% percent of them believe Arabs should not be able to vote. Compare this to 47% who believe this in secular schools. This means there is already a majority of people in the newest generation who would want to institute real apartheid without trying to hide it in any way.

      In about 10-15 years, Israelis from religious schools will constitute a definitive majority of all school students. Think about how their values compare to those of their parents.

      Accordingly, the conflict will likely only get worse in 10-15 years to come. But at the very latest in 2030, demographical trends in public opinion are going to make it outright impossible for the US to support Israel any longer.

  • 'Cycle of violence' is the new narrative (and inaccurate, but a step forward)
    • Well, there is a cycle of violence, so I wouldn't say you shouldn't discuss it. It's just that the occupation/colonialism aspect is the lens through which the conflict has to be understood. It's certainly interesting to spend all day talking and thinking about cycles of violence and their psychology, but you will never understand the conflict if you forget the occupation and think the conflict is one between two equals like in the cartoon.

  • Largest British union refuses to offer support for peace talks
  • Real and surreal in occupied Palestine
    • Thank you Marc for this very deep and insightful post.

      "The lessons of history have been lost to us. Or did we learn them too well?"

      I found these sentences very chilling.

      It reminds me of how you train fighting dogs, and the similarities to the perpetuation of violence in the I-P conflict. The animals are beaten without giving them a chance to understand why, in order to increase their latent aggressiveness. Senseless violence risks creating psychopaths. This is of course also connected to how abuse in childhood can do the same.

      With regards to the present, any further pondering on the aspect of a cycle of violence is hardly necessary. It is the past and the future of this cycle we must examine, in order to see the big picture.

      From the very beginning of recorded history:

      "When Yahweh your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and occupy, and he clears away many nations before you — the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites...and when Yahweh your God gives them over to must utterly destroy them...Show them no mercy...For you are a people holy to Yahweh your God; Yahweh your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession"

      "But as for the towns of these peoples that Yahweh your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes remain alive. You shall annihilate them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—just as Yahweh your God has commanded, so that they may not teach you to do all the abhorrent things that they do for their gods, and you thus sin against Yahweh your God"

      The Jewish people seized the promised land from the Canaanites with violence, but were enslaved by Egypt. Later, the promised land was reclaimed again with violence, but the Jewish people were enslaved by the Assyrian king, who resettled their lands with other peoples. When the Jewish people returned and built the Second Temple, it must have seemed as if the future held peace. Only things such as records on the views on intermarriage and the refusal to include the Samaritans in the construction of the Second Temple might have given particular reasons to fear for future tensions. And so later eventually the Sicarii (who were to the Roman occupation what Islamic Jihad are to the Israeli occupation today) and other Jewish zealots, fuelled by nationalist fervour (or "baseless hatred" as some would say) provoked the Roman occupiers into driving them from Jerusalem. As a side note there was one rather famous Jew who argued against the Jewish nationalism prevalent at the time in the sense that he thought that political leadership is a political, and not religious, matter.

      It is interesting to note the similarities between Hitler's imagined Lebensraum and the Promised Land as described in the two quotes above. With 8 million dead in the war, the Germans paid the price in blood immediately. Zionism as a response of Judaism to the baseless hatred and nationalism on the European continent therefore seems very paradoxical - how can somebody ever argue for one people's "inherent" right to land after the Holocaust? Who, and/or what system is perpetuating the violence here?

      For the future, universal judgement blind to religion or ethnicity seems like the only way to finally end this cycle of violence, which might go on indefinitely otherwise. Unfortunately, I fear even in these enlightened times it would truly take a meshiach to do this and reverse the escalation towards the next deadly cycle.

      Here are the words of MLK on the subject:

      “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
      Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
      Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.
      Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
      Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
      Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

  • 'Haaretz' conference trumpets tired word 'Peace' (when the only solution is 'equality')
    • You raise very interesting issues. (I'm unsure about the facts behind the bioweapons part though). People who are interested in social injustices (I include myself in that group) often forget that the language that is most commonly spoken in the corridors of power is that of economics. There is a very significant connection between Israeli military SIGINT capability and start-up companies in the IT sector.

      I believe tourism would absolutely boom in a post-apartheid Israel/Palestine, although cutting edge military technology, and especially the positive side effects of mandatory military service in SIGINT units would almost surely disappear. Personally, I believe that this part of the economy tends to get too much focus because of the current situation. You associate Israel with these fields, and then you subconsciously forget all the other existing and potential areas of entrepreneurship and innovation.

      On the other hand, there are also positive economical side effects to one person, one vote, one state. Companies such as SodaStream could fully employ the new Palestinian working class, without risk for boycotts or the obstacles of the occupation. It opens up the markets of neighbouring Muslim countries to a far greater degree. Palestinian citizens of the post-apartheid state would be natural emissaries and salesmen to these Muslim countries. Full EU integration would likely be offered on a silver plate. The resulting nation would become a symbol for peace all over the world and an icon fit to place between Gandhi and Mandela. In fact, the more you think about it, the better the economic reality looks on the other side.

      It is easy to profit from the occupation, but the potential for economic prosperity is undeniably greater with equality. I agree that it might be ideal with an intermediate deal, where you don't immediately offer all Palestinian refugees right of return, but create a democratic state on what is now Israel and the West Bank. When stability has been achieved with those parameters, you could go to the next step.

    • "The answer — the only answer — to Israel/Palestine is equality"


      You are also completely spot on when you talk about how the world "peace" has been used. Of course you want "peace" if you are an occupier. You would be the only one with anything to lose from a conflict. "Peace" has become synonymous with the status quo, that is, the occupation. The "Peace Process" is accordingly about doing as little as possible while preserving the occupation as it is.

  • 'I was a Zionist till I was 64. I want to hit myself'
  • The Banality of Religion: 'Prayer summit' at the Vatican fails to inspire
    • I must be one of the few then, who thinks this event could prove worthwhile.

      When negotiations produce nothing, obviously it is time for something else, something that will change the facts on the ground, the rules of the game. That is the idea behind the BDS movement. The problem behind BDS is that even if it proves successful in forcing some concessions from Israel, it will have divided Israelis and Palestinians and created resentment on the Israeli side.

      The prayers might have achieved nothing tangible, but in the best case efforts like this will be important symbols to bring together the Israeli and Palestinian communities.

  • Hillary Clinton's flipflop: We were wrong to take hard line against settlements
    • This is actually a very interesting development. The race for nomination for presidential candidate of the Democratic party might now also feature the I/P discussion, if she really has taken such a turn to the right on this issue.

  • Shmuel Rosner's RX in the NYT: Occupation forever
    • I don't, like Kant, believe in necessity of good intentions, so I do agree that in some sense Rivlin has the moral high ground in this matter. With a full annexation, Israel would be forced either to give West Bank Palestinians voting rights, which would change the Israeli political landscape enough to lead politicians who are actually interested in genuine equal rights to the front. Either that, or you would openly admit Israel is in reality an Apartheid state. Rivlin might not see the big picture, but he's holding big and important pieces to the puzzle.

  • Jewish safety in Europe and Muslim safety are interconnected
    • As a person living in Europe I can tell you that the safety of both Muslims and Jews are indeed deeply interconnected.

      There are far-right parties who despise Muslims - out of their fear for Muslims, these have attracted some Jewish support. There are also more "traditional" far-right parties who despise Jews which have garnered some sympathy from radical Islamists. Both Muslims and Jews who vote for these parties are completely blind to the fact that xenophobia in its purest form would have them both cleansed from European lands. By giving in to their own fear and distrust and supporting these parties, they are fanning the flames under ovens which are just as likely to contain Jews as Muslims, or indeed both, if the fires are fully lit.

      It is only by recognizing this grave threat for what it is that we can stop it together, by building trust and mutual understanding, by removing the fear of the "other" from the equation. The forces of hate are always moving, always repackaging themselves in new and more "appealing" wrapping. We must then always work to build more understanding between all peoples to counteract these moves.

  • Gates Foundation begins to divest from occupation profiteer G4S
    • I'm not surprised Mr. Gates made the correct moral decision when confronted by this. Nowadays he's quite the paragon as far as what you achieve as a super-rich person. He's probably the private person who has saved the most lives this far in the 21st century, and he's made tremendous constructive efforts for the good of the world. Now there's a person I would like to see as POTUS.

  • Interview with Haidar Eid: Resisting 66 years of Israeli Apartheid
    • One person, one vote: equality and the end of apartheid. A single secular, democratic state in Israel/Palestine.

      This is the only viable solution to the conflict. People need to stop entertaining the notion of the two-state Bantustan solution. The recent discussion have shown how much of a farce it is anyway.

      Once the movement for equal rights for all in Israel/Palestine gets a hold in the US, it will be impossible to stop, just like with South Africa. Just make a poll and see how many would support "equal and democratic rights for everyone" instead of "racial segregation". Some Palestinians, unwittingly stooges to the Israeli occupation, desire their own ethnic state by the side of Israel in what must be seen for what it is - "the exact wrong response to history" just like the Zionism which created Israel to begin with.

      The struggle for a one-state solution has a certain sublime force of attraction, an appeal to the egalitarianist democratic principles which exist in modern humanist ideals. Eventually in South Africa, when the struggle was phrased like "Why should black South Africans not have equal rights?" they gained the support of virtually everyone except for the real hard-line racists - it's impossible to look yourself in the mirror and say that some peoples should not be treated equally. The same question can be asked about Palestinians - if they see the Bantustan farce for what it is, and ask the question "Why should Palestinians not have equal rights?" they will get everyone on their side. The struggle for justice will build up to the force of a tsunami. Either the Israeli occupiers will have to concede the two-state solution has always been a way of buying time for land grabs: "No, they shouldn't have equal rights - we are just occupying and confiscating their land!" or they will be forced to give Palestinians the right to vote - which will drastically transform the political landscape to the better.

      That's why I'm for a one-state solution, and you all should be so as well.

  • BDS is the only means of ending the occupation -- Derfner
    • Developments are definitely moving towards the crazy end of the political spectrum, however I think there will be a very, very long time until Israel would possibly threaten any Western country with nukes. A more realistic horror scenario goes like this:

      20 years from now, we have seen an Israel/US breakdown of relations over human rights issues. The US has in every imaginable way withdrawn their support from Israel, however stopping short of sanctions. Israel is run by a far-right government which would make the current one seem cuddly. Israeli nationalism is at an all-time high fuelled by the breakdown of relations with Western countries - this has been counterbalanced with closer relations to China and Russia. With a justification of making a "pre-emptive attack", "securing unsafe borders" or something like that, Israel attacks Lebanon/Hizbollah, Syria or Egypt - in reality, the military and political establishment are talking internally about creating living space for the Jewish nation and restoring their "Eretz Yisrael". The surprise attack is met with considerable success, however shortly after another regional power - maybe Turkey, Saudi Arabia or Iran - throws their army into the game under the pretext of "keeping the peace". The war is also joined by jihadi groups, and success turns into defeat. Israel, being sure that the objective of their adversaries is a second holocaust, throws their nukes at population centres of their enemies in one last desperate move. That is pretty much the worst nuclear scenario I could imagine within reason.

      But you're right in that it is very important to think about what will happen in the future if the I/P conflict is not resolved now. Certainly, the political scene in Israel is not going to move in a positive direction. Also, US hegemony will fade, making for a more unstable situation. The nationalism which the occupation breeds is a ticking bomb. Liberal Zionists are talking about international sanctions, another intifada (as if...), the horrors of a binational nation and so on and so forth, but the greatest danger of all is what the occupation is doing to Israel itself. You thought Netanyahu was bad in the nineties, just wait until Bennett's boys are in power. What a typical irony that Israel was supposed to be the ark of deliverance of European Jewry from racial prejudice and policy, but now with every second is turning more into a monument of institutionalised racism itself. Like a wise man put it, "Zionism is exactly the wrong response to history".

      It is a common misconception to think that what will happen if you keep the status quo is that the current situation will continue. This is completely erroneous in a changing world. The current I/P situation is somewhat equivalent to discussing whether you should keep the status quo if your basement is being flooded. It may seem it is only an unwanted swimming pool if you are optimistic, but underneath lie a fortune in bills for plumbing and mold remediation. We must do everything we can to solve the I/P conflict to prevent a future catastrophe.

    • A very brave move, and a small step in the right direction for Larry.

      Sadly, I don't know which is more quixotic: Israeli liberals who hope BDS can transform Israeli popular opinion to the better, or Mahmoud Abbas, who renounces BDS in the hope that the bantustan PA government will get further independence. I believe both Larry and Mahmoud are very sincere, but in effect both are just prolonging the eventual resolution of the conflict, Larry at least when the BDS is done in the name of a two-state solution.

      Here's the truth: there's not going to be a two-state solution. It's an utter impossibility considering the current and future political climate in Israel. There was once perhaps a time for BDS for a two-state solution, that would have been 25 years ago.

      Considering the future, settler population will only increase, which will increase representation of settler parties, and so on - it's a vicious circle. Every second the occupation and the continuous ethnic cleansing goes on, the rot of ethnocratic far-right nationalism will devour Israel from the inside. That is the true curse of the occupation. I am reminded by a quote from Nietzsche (whom I hate to quote, but anyway): "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.". Israel's stated purpose was to escape the evils of nationalism in Europe, however when the hasbara fades, Israel's own policies of "Judaization" - that is what it is officially called! - are looking functionally indistinguishable from this.

      Israel is asymptotically heading for a more extremist, more polarized state with it's population divided between ultra-Orthodox and nationalist settlers, with a significant Muslim minority. It's a recipe for catastrophe. The I/P conflict is a wound upon the earth which has been allowed to fester for far too long, mostly due to American action and inaction - whatever the true remedy really is will be a hard puzzle to solve, and then a very sour pill to swallow.

      Let's face it: a withdrawal of settlers from the West Bank is impossible. A viable two-state solution is impossible. Small-scale sanctions will only further cement the growing Israeli far-right's image of Israel as unfairly treated by an anti-Semitic rest of the human race - which might hasten a US/Israel divide, but that is for better or worse.

      The only card left is fighting for a one-state solution: equal rights for Palestinians on the territory that Israel controls. If you can start by tricking the hungry Israeli fox to swallow the pancake that is the West Bank whole, or convincing Mahmoud Abbas to euthanize the PA, I bet the rest (Gaza, Palestinian RoR) will follow shortly - either the apartheid will be clear for all to see, or occupied West Bank Palestinians will get the right to vote and equality under the law at which point Israeli society can finally begin to evolve in the right direction.

  • What’s wrong with the ADL survey and how it could be improved
    • David: You are completely correct in your conclusions. The only necessary and sufficient criterion should be whether you think all people should be equal under law. If you think some group of people (in this case Jews specifically) should have more rights, or that some people should have less rights (which essentially is the same thing), you are a racist.

      I believe that in order to see what is a just resolution to the I/P conflict we must stop framing it as a conflict between two peoples, and start using the perspective of equal rights. Currently, a lot of people see it as "Israelis versus Palestinians - who do you support?" when it really should be "racism versus equal rights" - the right of equal treatment under the law and the right to not be ethnically cleansed from where you live. Further adherence to the so-called peace process will only result in more land theft and other injustices - supporting a two-state solution might seem like the right thing, but in reality you are just prolonging Palestinian suffering.

      There is no people on earth which has an inherent right to an "own nation" (whatever that would mean). On the other hand, all people have the right to be equal under the law and free from discrimination. Currently, Palestinians languish under a military occupation in the West Bank where Israeli Jews are given land and protection by the occupying state. Jews who want to immigrate to Israel can do so, however Palestinians who have historically lived there are forbidden from even entering. We must stop focusing on the fix idea that Palestinians must have a nation of their own (which is about as odd as the idea that Jews must have a nation of their own).

      I would look at the struggle in South Africa for a precedent to this change of mind. Some native South Africans might have wanted the whites out of "their" country - this was obviously a vain struggle. Others might have wanted a nation of their own, but it became obvious this approach was a dead end with the farcical proposed Bantustan solutions. Only at this point was it crystal clear that the only worthwhile struggle can be for equal rights. This is because neither the SA whites nor the natives have any inherent birthright at all to any piece of land on this earth. In the future, people will scoff at crazy notions about a country belonging to a people, just like we now find ridiculous the idea that a person - a king, or a baron - could have birthright to the ownership of land in times past. The only thing which will always remain worth fighting for is the universal principle of equality.

      With the recently failed peace talks, I hope the younger generation draws the same conclusions, that the best offer for a Palestinian nation there will ever be will be one of a tiny pseudo-independent Bantustan bound to Israeli control, that the struggle for equal rights is the true and only viable one. Only then can they win the peace and freedom they deserve, just like the native South Africans won theirs.

  • Rothkopf's jailbreak from the Zionist captivity is sure to embolden others
    • I think he is right on target with the assessment that Israel is exactly the wrong response to history. In the end, there are two possible conclusions with regards to the horrors inflicted upon the world by nationalism during the first half of the 20th century: One, that people of different ethnicity can't possibly live together. Two, that people of different ethnicity MUST learn to live together. By making the first conclusion, you might achieve the illusion of temporary relief, but in the long term you merely perpetuate the nationalism and racism which starts the catastrophes you want to prevent in the first place.

      Personally I believe in the latter conclusion: I believe in a society where every person is judged as an individual and not through the lens of any racism or xenophobia. People might have different cultural backgrounds, but more importantly we also all have unique personalities. I would have more in common with an egalitarian universalist from the other side of the world than my own brother or sister, if he/she was a nationalist or racial supremacist.

      Our distant ancestors who were primitive animals lived in a state of constant strife where every individual fought all others over food and reproduction. Ultimately, our species was able to empathize and organize into families, and from families into communities, and from communities into nations. And now we are facing the next step on that ladder of civilization, that journey from self-replicating molecule to ultimate enlightenment. To proceed, we must work to erase the walls of intolerance and prejudice which separates current perceived ethnic and religious groups. With this in mind, the prospect of a single democracy in Israel/Palestine does not seem like a second choice below a two-state solution. Indeed, it seems more like the only true lasting solution.

      History is always in the making and I'm glad Rothkopf has joined Mondoweiss on the side which stands for the future of a united humanity. I feel the world is at the beginning of a realization that the I/P struggle is at its core not really about ethnic group X versus ethnic group Y, but about universal equal rights.

  • 'It's time to build the future of the American Jewish community': Open Hillel announces first national conference
    • This is a great initiative! I wonder if later, we will remember this as a turning point in the I/P debate in the US. Nevertheless, it is only by putting our money where our mouths are that we can make this a reality. History is never made by passive observers.

  • Defending Apartheid – From 1968 to the present
  • J Street woos the lobby as Israel considers annexing the West Bank
    • Indeed. In the end, there is only justice. You can be interested in the I/P issue from a Jewish or a Palestinian perspective (among others), but in the end, it is only a matter of justice. Either we make justice now, or we leave it to come naturally. The latter approach tends to maximize suffering (collectively administered) both for the abuser and the victim, so naturally anyone who is interested in the well-being of either part would want a just peace now.

  • Bait-and-switch anti-Semitism: NYU SJP accused of targeting Jews, or not
    • How can these flyers even be described as "threatening" to begin with?

      Imagine you're in the 1930s Nazi Germany. Then you get a mock flyer of the same type in your mailbox which says you're scheduled to be deported to a camp. Bet then it goes on to say that it is only fake, but that Jews live under the threat of actually being deported. That would be an exact analogy of what happened at NYU. We need to explain that to all the rabid bigots out there. I think some people, those who feel threatened, might be confusing the feelings of "guilt" and "fear".

      In my own opinion these "mock eviction notices" are one of the best campaigns for justice out there today. It generates immediate understanding for what is happening to the Palestinians. Ideally, these mock eviction notices should be handed out at all universities - with a line to the reader which urges to help stop the gradual ethnic cleansing in the West Bank.

  • Tony Blair's Middle East speech: dangerous and anti-Muslim
    • “It may well be that in time people come to view the impact of those engagements differently.”

      That's funny he would say that. The US' wars in the ME must have been a boon for the recruitment rates of Islamic extremists. I find it extremely contradictory to be Tony Blair, still defend the pointless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan today, and at the same time warn about Islamic extremism. If anything, Tony Blair has been the best imaginable (under reasonable circumstances) ally of Islamic extremists.

  • A Jew who visited Palestine responds to 'NYT' assertion that Palestinians want to kill all Jews
  • How many 'Palestinian Arabs' want to kill 'all Jews?'
    • This is an excellent project. Only the future will tell how crucial these efforts for accurate journalism on the I/P issue will turn out to be - I have high hopes, and I think the prime reason the journalistic climate in the US is so shifted to the "pro-Israel" (in reality, more like "pro-Likud") side is that they are much more vocal complainers if papers such as the NYT doesn't paint exactly the picture they want. It's easy to pander to vocal, militant people if there is no one out there demanding the real truth. This is a grass-roots justice effort at it's finest. Many thanks, Mondoweiss!

  • Stirring debate on BDS, 'NYT' allows readers to speak out about inequality
    • Indeed. The best way to influence newspapers towards fairer debate is to contact them and voice your feelings. There are a lot of people with a clear picture of what's really going on in Israel/Palestine, it's about time we made sure several news outlets who have been known in the past for their one-sided journalism (and at times even outright lies) know people see through their smoke and mirrors.

  • The Process
  • Open Letter from NY Jews to Mayor de Blasio: 'AIPAC does not speak for us'
    • This is an excellent initiative. It's crucial to make your voice heard in this type of matter, and speaking directly to De Blasio in this fashion is the best way to do it.

  • Maybe de Blasio believes his job is to defend Israel?
  • Liberal Zionists support Scarlett Johansson-- and settlements. Why?
  • 'I will not uproot a single Israeli' settler, Netanyahu says, and Washington Post backs him up
  • 'That tyrant whose seat you're in? We took him out' (The Egyptian revolution continues)
    • The situation in Egypt will only get better when American aid to the Egyptian army is ended. As things currently stand, the army is a vast and bloated organization more akin to a huge Mafia. They will continue to rule Egypt until the balance of power is normalized.

  • Deconstructing Scarlett Johansson’s statement on SodaStream
    • There should be contact information to Oxfam in the article so that you can mail them about your concerns regarding Scarlett...

  • Secrecy of de Blasio's AIPAC conclave fuels anti-Semitic tropes -- Sullivan
    • How do you contact Bill de Blasio to complain about this? His contact information should be in the news post as well...

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