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Total number of comments: 32 (since 2009-12-09 00:21:52)

Boulos

i'm a perpetual student.

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  • 'Jewish Council for Public Affairs' mounts denial campaign against '60 Minutes'
    • yeah, but what if something happens, and you choose to speak out on behalf of people, going against their explicit statements about their plight and self-interest to the contrary. Where do they get off? Who gave them the right to (mis)represent another people? The Kairos Document, which the 60 Minutes segment highlighted, was supported by the leadership of all the various stripes of Palestinian Christian groups. American Jewish groups are then going to come in and say that these leaders actually do not know what the interest of their communities and what is going on, on the ground in their communities? Is there something in the water in the Tri-State area that gives people an x-ray vision to see through Palestinian Christian False Consciousness?

      'Something happens...then you make a choice and take a side...' And then others, half a world a way and with no first-hand knowledge of what is going on, much less the language you speak, come in and say that choice and side you have made and taken really aren't your choice and side, the opposite is. And in fact, nothing has really happened.

      Please.

    • what i can't figure out is what right american jews or american christians or american anyone have to speak out on behalf of another group of people half a world away. i mean, really, how many people in Christians for Israel actually know Palestinian Christians or an actual living, breathing palestinian christian? How many of the people who are writing in through the JCPA know a Palestinian, much less a Palestinian Christian? Why should CBS give their opinions any weight at all? What do these people know? How do they know it? The whole thing's ludicrous if you think about it for more than two seconds. This all goes back to one of the most fundamental issues in the entire conflict, at least in the US, one of representation. Who has the right to speak for Palestinians in general and, in this case, for Palestinian Christians in particular? Are they not human beings who can express themselves and speak to their own experience and their own situation without being told that they are delusional and deceived by people thousands of miles away. It's so ridiculous that it beggars belief.

  • P5 +1 Iran nuclear talks went swimmingly! Netanyahu is fuming
    • is the irony that Netanyahu is complaining about Iran engaging in bad faith negotiations in order to buy more time, kick the can down the road, stall, etc., lost on anyone? Is this the pot calling the kettle black?

  • Europe asks: Where's Israel's proposal?
    • so, it's okay for Bibi Netanyahu to come and give a speech before the US Congress, siding with our opposition in open defiance and even derision for a democratically-elected, sitting US president--that's not meddling in US internal affairs--but it's not okay for the UNSC or the Quartet to ask that Israel adhere to signed international commitments and promises it has made and violated for decades? How does one square that circle?

  • Egyptian revolutionary cartoons (part 1)
    • the second means something like, 'on the phenomenon of media clamor.'

    • i understood the second cartoon to read 'unemployment,' not 'heroes.' hero is 'batal' and heroes is 'abtal.' the verb 'battala' means something like 'to stop' or even, i think, 'to make nothing.' i took it to mean that unemployment is eating the youth of egypt.

  • Israel looks to cash in on upheaval in the Middle East; may request $20 billion more in military aid from the US
    • this is the funniest and most cynical thing i have seen in quite a while.

      'a strong, responsible israel can become a stabilizer in such a turbulent region.' we have seen a lot of what a 'strong' israel can do. i am waiting to see what a responsible israel can do. using vastly superior, top-notch american weaponry to bomb and terrorize civilian populations in neighboring countries and in territories under its occupation has a proven track record of stabilizing such a turbulent region.

      what does ehud barak propose American politicians tell American tax payers who have no jobs, have no or bad healthcare, drive on crumbling roads, and send their kids to underfunded schools, to justify this? that israel needs more bombs to help it more quickly and easily 'turn the clock back on lebanon 20 years' as its stated aim was back in 2006? Or kill more children in Gaza? Or steal more land in the west bank and bankroll racist, messianic and maniacal settlers there?

      is there any scenario in the middle east in which israel would not use as a pretext to ask for more money from the US?

      what does the word 'chutzpah' mean again?

  • The Egyptian revolution threatens an American-imposed order of Arabophobia and false choices
    • the response of our government to the revolution in egypt has been shameful, to say the least. the american media's coverage of the events have been, at very best, painfully mediocre, uninspired, and lacking any insight or intelligence. i walked by t.v's playing in the window of a shop last night which had cable news coverage of what is going on and i just winced when i saw sean hannity's face and images of egypt on the same screen. i had a private moment of gratitude that i couldn't hear what was actually being said and felt sympathy and perhaps derision for anyone who was listening to such a popinjay speak about the middle east and hoping to actually learn something that corresponded to reality. the best coverage to be found in english is on al-jazeera english, which one cannot even get on cable in this country, save in a handful of places, because the perspectives it presents are perceived as being threatening to the american political discourse. or something like that. what is especially sad is that it is on something like al-jazeera english that one can actually get a view for how people in the middle east think, apart from the refracting prism of american middle east 'experts,' many of whose zionism is scarcely even hidden.

      there are 80 million people in egypt. it is perverse to me that their lives, their political freedom, their economic futures are and have been held hostage for decades to whether their leadership is willing to be friends with israel; it sickens me that we have been supportive of a brutal, rapacious regime and helped to keep it in power because it is willing to make nice(ish) with the Jewish State. it is sort of like a spoiled rich kid nobody likes whose dad buys him friends. this game got old a long time ago. tunisia fell. egypt is falling. i can only hope and pray that the hashemites of jordan go next along with the house of saud and every other autocratic arab regime soon thereafter.

      at what point will we say that egyptian needs for security, freedom from fear, freedom from torture, freedom from terror, are as important as those of any israeli? when will the US and when will our pundits acknowledge that arabs are people, too? i mean, at the end of the day, that's what this whole conflict, going back to the balfour declaration has been about. the refusal of arabs to admit that jewish anxieties, jewish dreams, jewish aspirations, jewish claims on real estate, are somehow more real, true, value, valid, legitimate, than those of the arabs. zionists who supported the democratic uprising in iran last year but who have said nothing in support of the people of egypt because mubarak is a good oriental (i.e., he does what the US and israel want) have once again exposed the staggering hypocrisy of their allegedly moral position.

      how about evaluating the upheaval in egypt in terms of whether it is good for egyptians and the egyptian people rather than in terms of whether it is good for israel?

  • The Lebanese Army finally acts to protect Lebanon's sovereignty
    • Great piece, Seham. Thanks for putting that together. Israel also treats Lebanese airspace as if were an extension of its own airspace and actively seeks to prevent Lebanon from acquiring any sorts of weapons that might allow it to defend its sovereignty in the skies, threatening brutal violence if Lebanon were to acquire any serious air defense armaments.

      This is the thing about the highly-touted IDF that I never got: I mean, anybody can be a hero and plucky and tough and (insert-IDF-cliched-adjective here) if you've got the best American military equipment that (US taxpayer) money can buy, especially if your neighbors don't have it and are prevented from having it.

      Go around the West Bank and what you quickly realize is that you are dealing with a lot of bullies with American guns who are playing cowboy and living out power (and Bible) fantasies among a population that has been caged and often literally beaten. There's nothing heroic in that, but there is much that is pathetic, delusional and downright despicable.

      In 2006, there was not military parity, but Hizbullah actually had some training and you saw what they did to the Israelis. In 1948, the Jordanians had the only credible military force among all the various fighting groups and that's why the border of the West Bank is what it is today. Lebanon's military is a joke and its airforce has like 2 helicopters. If I were an Israeli or a Zionist, the delusional militaristic hubris of the IDF would be a source of worry for me. If there were ever an actual fair fight in the Middle East, it's not clear to me that the IDF would be as dominant as its boosters seem to presume.

  • Sec'y Clinton seems to equate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism
  • Makdisi in Houston Chronicle: Americans must confront the dispossession of Arabs in '48
    • you miss a few important points here.

      one is the role that israel played in driving jews out of arab lands. who was blowing up synagogues in baghdad in the early 1950s to create fear among the jews there and encourage them to immigrate? If you don't think the Mossad or other Zionist activists would be capable of something so dastardly, just read about the Lavon Affair.

      second, your knowledge of the arab world cripples your understanding of the refugee issue. israel was created as a jewish state and had a population problem (which it still does): it needed as many jews as possible to keep the internal arab demographic threat at bay. so, of course, it was happy to get jews from arab countries, even if it discriminated against them and even if the ashkenazi elite there regarded them as essentially animals.

      here is hannah arendt on oriental jewry. though not an israeli, her views were probably not atypical of those of the european jews who founded the state:

      link to newyorker.com

      Among the posthumous revelations that have done the most damage to Arendt’s reputation are the letters that she wrote from Jerusalem in 1961, when she was attending the Eichmann trial. Her description of the crowd at the courthouse, in a letter to Jaspers, passes beyond condescension into outright racism: “On top, the judges, the best of German Jewry. Below them, the prosecuting attorneys, Galicians, but still Europeans. Everything is organized by a police force that gives me the creeps, speaks only Hebrew, and looks Arabic. Some downright brutal types among them. They would obey any order. And outside the doors, the oriental mob, as if one were in Istanbul or some other half-Asiatic country.

      israel absorbed jewish refugees because those refugees played into and helped establish and make possible its nationalist and national narrative.

      in terms of arab countries, jordan had the biggest population of refugees and it gave palestinians there citizenship.

      the place that really kept palestinians in refugee camps was lebanon. lebanon was created to be a christian country in the middle east. specifically a maronite state. unlike israel, where jews immigrated to on boats and planes where the population did not speak the language, eat the food, and share the culture of the indigenous population, where, in fact, a new language had to be created/revived, the maronites in lebanon actually were from there. they are indigenous and indistinguishable from everybody else around them, claims at phonecian descent notwithstanding. this is one difference between these two nationalist projects, though it does not in fact make one more palatable than the other in the final analysis.

      lebanon, as a christian country had a precarious demographic balance, in which christians formed a slight majority. the influx of palestinian refugees into lebanon meant that if they were all given citizenship, lebanon qua christian state would be no more.

      many palestinian christians were in fact given citizenship, for the same reasons that jews from arab countries were absorbed into israel. their presence did not cause problems for the larger nationalist program of the country. but lebanon did not grant muslims citizenship for precisely the same reason that israel refuses to allow palestinians back into the country and denies the right of return. when you are criticizing 'the arabs', what you are actually doing is criticizing the lebanese, and especially those lebanese who will, most famously, claim they are _not_ arabs, for doing precisely what israel has been doing for 62 years. refusing to absorb palestinians because it would damage or destroy a nationalist project. at least the maronites can say that these people should go back to their homes, where they came from. zionists have to say that these people cannot come back to their homes because rich people from long island want to come and live and vacation here and feel empowered.

      israel and its supporters claim that allowing people to come back to their homes and to their property cannot happen because it will pose an existential threat to their state. what they do not realize is that the creation of their state actually posed more than an existential threat to lebanon and its status as a christian state. in some respects, you can say that the establishment of israel helped doom the maronite nationalist project.

      it's also worth pointing out that you assume that all arabs are the same. 'jews don't keep their people in refugee camps for propaganda reasons,' you write. but of course, the israelis do keep palestinians in refugee camps and and in gaza just put 1.5 million of them on a diet for 4 years to punish them for not voting the right way in a democratic election.

      egytpians, syrians, lebanese, iraqis and palestinians are no more the same people as mexicans, venezuelans, columbians, argentines and spainards are the same people, simply because they all speak spanish and are catholic. tunisians, for example, do not regard the palestinians as 'their people,' and in fact many tunisians don't like palestinians at all. many lebanese hate palestinians and do not regard them as 'their people' at all. and so on and so forth.

      viewing arabs and the actions of their (undemocratic, unrepresentative) governments (which lack strong popular legitimacy) monolithically may make for good talking points on a night time t.v. show or in a letter to the editor, but if you're interested in actually talking about the region and it's history outside the realm of propaganda and nationlist apologetics, it's actually quite unhelpful.

  • Internet is undermining the authority & status of academics and journalists before our eyes
    • Lewis knows Arabic and he knows Turkish and he knows Hebrew. He may very well know Persian, too. I think he probably does. His linguistic skills are legit. I think he was British intelligence in the Middle East in WWII and maybe lived there for five years. I can't remember now. He's old-school British-trained. Most Western scholars today will not know their languages like he will. That's my guess.

      Pipes knows Arabic, too. He wrote a book on how to learn the Egyptian colloquial dialect of Arabic. He actually wrote a serious academic book on slave soldiers in the middle east in the middle ages.

      of course, actually knowing Arabic does not mean that you understand the culture or that you have political views that are good, praiseworthy, or rightly motivated or views that one should seriously consider adopting as one's own. It is, I would submit, a necessary condition for claiming expertise, however. Knowing Chinese doesn't make you qualified to comment on Chinese society and the last several thousand years of Chinese history, just like knowing English doesn't make you qualified to comment on American (or British or Australian or whatever society). What it means is that you have a necessary pre-requisite for actually reading the literature, seeing the movies, listening to the music, talking to people from all walks of life, living there and actually gaining insight into a place and the way people live and think there. If you come with a certain agenda, or simply if you're not a perceptive person in your own society, however, your 'insights' and comments might not be worth the paper they're printed on. When someone like Martin Peretz or whoever tries to talk about Arabs or Muslims, or some moronic blogger or columnist tries to start speaking about Middle Eastern history, especially in a derogatory way, one should always ask what the basis of their valuations is. And almost always, their basis will be extraordinarily flimsy and non-existent. Picking up some popular history in Barnes and Noble which somebody has written to make a quick but, and reading that, does not make you qualified to do that. History is extremely political and you need to be able to situate any book you read in the historiography of the question it is dealing with. Only then can you understand what the author is up to, what sort of intervention into the debate he/she is making, and why you should care (and or beware).

      I would be extremely surprised if Friedman knew Arabic or knew anything beyond basic Arabic. He did an MPhil in Middle Eastern studies at St Anthony's probably over 30 years ago. I don't know what the degree was like back then. Now, it is a two-year degree. You will work through the first book, maybe two, of al-Kitab, the Arabic textbook. Personally, I think it is a book which is good at getting you some conversational skills, but bad at teaching you grammar and getting you to the point where you can really read the language. If you do do the al-Kitab series for two years, you, you can probably get to where you can read newspaper articles. Does being able to read AP reports make you qualified to comment on American affairs in-depth?

      Also, all this depends on how hard you work. Two years of studying Arabic is a start, but you should not confuse two years of studying Arabic with two years of studying French or German at the college level. Arabic is a different beast entirely. Much much more difficult. Friedman maybe could slowly read through basic news articles in Arabic newspapers when he left Oxford, but I would be very surprised if he has kept it up. If he could actually read Arabic, he hasn't used it and it has done him very little: he shows no profound knowledge of Arab culture or Arab thought and his views are distinguishable from any other typical US pundit bloviating on the Middle East only by virtue of their sanctimony and annoyingly simplistic sententiousness.

      in general, the exchange between the angry arab and ethan bronner is worth reading and thinking about when it comes to the knowledge of all these 'experts' of arabs, arabic and the middle east

      link to angryarab.blogspot.com

      off the top of my head and at this late hour, i can think of no mainstream american commentator on the middle east whom i take seriously or who i think is actually informed about arabs and arab culture. though i may be missing somebody right now. i remember back when william safire was alive, how he would call up ariel sharon once a month or so and basically transcribe sharon's views into his nyt column for that week. there is nothing even approaching that in the US media with respect to arabs. the closest thing to a mainstream publication in the US which is sympathetic or even open to an arab view is the LA Times, though I don't read it enough to be sure about that. Haim Saban hates it, so maybe that's proof enough.

      also, i just realized that people here might think that dershowitz is a scholar. he is many things, but he is definitely NOT a scholar. he may be a scholar of certain kinds of law, but anything middle east related and arab-israeli related, he is not a scholar. he doesn't have training as an historian (or as a political scientist or as an anthropologist or sociologist or whatever). he doesn't know the languages. he's a polemicist and an advocate for one side in an extremely contentious debate. he tries to silence people through campaigns of intimidation and public shaming and outrage. he uses the apparatus of scholarship, its window dressings, to try to advance an agenda which is transparent and evident to anyone who has a pulse. there are zionists who are scholars of the modern middle east. and there are scholarly zionist takes on different historical debates and questions. tel aviv university and hebrew university will have serious scholars of the modern middle east (and also the medieval middle east) who are zionists. you will find this in the US as well. dershowitz is a zionist, but he's not a scholar.

    • the thing is, i doubt that dershowitz even found that quote. i think somebody else found it for him and told him he could chop it that way. actually doing research, serious research, requires sitting down for long amounts of time in libraries, having sitzfleisch, and frankly, a person like Dershowitz has a media career and is a propagandist and a showman. you cannot have the level of public visibility he does and actually do serious research. and moreover, a friend who took a class with him in law school once told me he's got young kids (and a young wife--though she was in his class some time ago now). once you have a family, you can't do the research that you used to be able to do. i have heard a quote attributed to a very eminent scholar, now passed away, who was at yale. he said for every kid you have, you write one less book. real academics, serious ones, are like monks, though often they lack the personal holiness.

      he's got grad students doing work for him, i'm nearly certain. and to be honest, i wouldn't be surprised if he even had students who drafted things for him. he will tell them what he wants or will ask them to write up a report for him on palestinian attitudes towards the israeli justice system. he'll take what the the student wrote, maybe change it around a bit, and then call it his own.

      it's not just dershowitz who operates this way, either. any time you see any big name academic or scholar who writes a lot of books or who is always on t.v., you should be suspicious of their actual research and what they are doing. the same goes when you see a person publishing a lot of books in a short period of time. as an experiment, go to the websites of the best history departments in the US--princeton, yale, berkeley, ucla, columbia, whatever--and look at the scholars there and look at their publications. see how long the dates are between the books they publish. people will take years between books they publish. later in their careers, they may publish more frequently, but that's only after they have been working in a field for most of their adult lives. dershowitz does not know a word of arabic. he probably knows hebrew because he was raised orthodox. this would perhaps qualify him to comment in a serious way about israeli politics, but if he can't read arabic, he really has no business ever trying to say anything about palestinian history or culture or politics and do so while claiming some kind of expertise or authority. i mean, just to prove the point, look at who publishes his books. they are not published by university presses. they are put out by trade publishers and he will make lots of money off of them. academic publishers will have anonymous reviewers--i.e., scholars who come from the field the book situates itself in and who will be able to tell if it is a serious piece of work and worthy of publication. books by dershowitz fail on both accounts.

      dershowitz is just a sophist who uses his institutional affiliation to make arguments from authority. it's all smoke and mirrors and its an act that got old a long, long time ago.

    • There are some academics and experts who know their stuff. There are many who sorta/kinda know something. And there are some who don't know anything. Most people do not have the time, knowledge of languages and access to libraries and archives which are necessary to do so, but if you really want to see how good a scholar somebody is, what you need to do is take their book and not read the book, but read the footnotes, and not read the footnotes, but actually check the footnotes. If you check a person's footnotes, you quickly realize how serious a scholar actually is. And you will often find very surprising (and disappointing and alarming) things. At least in my experience. If a scholar gets big enough and rich enough s/he will actually hire grad students to do a lot of their research/dirty work. They will even hire people who know languages they do not know to read through things for them and find items that would be of interest to them. Scholars who are less-than-forthcoming will not tell you that they actually do not read language X as their work might seem to suggest, but you can find these things out by talking to people at their institutions.

      The most interesting part of any book is quite often not what the book says. It is the footnotes and the bibliography, which tell you the level of scholarship the person is operating at and the acknowledgements which tell you who that person has been talking to while writing the book, where the book was written, and who was helping out. For big-name people (e.g., Alan Dershowitz or even someone like Al Gore) who are celebrities, it is usually safe to assume that there is an it-takes-a-village thing going on. Norman Finkelstein nailed Dershowitz on the whole plagiarism issue; I strongly suspect that Dershowitz didn't do any of the research for that book. He probably had some Harvard undergrad or starving grad student or law student go find him what he already knew he wanted to prove, and just wrote it up. When you start reading footnotes, which Norman Finkelstein does, and you actually know the field in which the book is written, you can tell a lot. It's like reading a person's DNA. It should tell you everything.

  • Friedman: Middle Easterners are scheming, except Israel
    • I stopped reading Thomas Friedman years ago. And now, when I have the occasional mental lapse and read him again, I am reminded why. He's smug. He's arrogant. He's cocky. He's patronizing. And he knows nothing about the Middle East. I mean, zero. The authors of Lonely Planet Guide Books know more about the region and culture than he does. Here is a guy who will explain how to deal with leaders of Middle Eastern countries based on how he imagines one should haggle for a carpet in a Middle Eastern suq. And the fact that he has no idea how simplistic, ridiculous and simplistic such comparisons are speaks volumes about his megalomania and ignorance. He almost certainly knows no Turkish or Persian. He might know enough Arabic to get around in a cab and maybe sound out street signs. He also loves to lecture Arabs, to tell them how they need to behave, what they need to do, how they need to think, in order to be accepted, treated like human beings, stop being killed and stolen from, etc. This is a standard tactic from the playbook of Zionist apologists. It just boggles my mind that Friedman has the perch that he does. I can only hope that nobody takes him seriously: he takes himself extremely seriously and that's probably about all this planet can handle.

  • Casual prejudice against Muslims
    • i once watched barbara walters interview a failed palestinian suicide bomber who was in an israeli prison. it was on 20/20 or some news program. i now forget. she was very patronizing to him. she asked him something like, 'when you were young, didn't you ever want to get married, have children, raise a family?' he responded in arabic and said 'yes.' then the voiceover translator came in and you couldn't hear very well the rest of what he was saying, but the translation began with, 'no. i wanted to kill jews.' i was blown away. i wrote a letter to ABC news and said, what on earth are you people doing. they sent me a perfunctory response saying they'd look into it. i never heard back from them again. that was probably five or six years ago.

  • I remember the real reason I hate soccer-- the power issues
  • Lobby stomped journalist over Armenian genocide
    • it's also important to point out that more than just armenians were killed in the armenian genocide. syrian orthodox, assyrian orthodox, and greek orthodox christian communities were also devastated at that time. among the syrian orthodox, for example, 1915, is known as 'amo d-sayfo, the year of the sword. these are aramaic-speaking christians and some of the most ancient christian communities in the world and they were wiped out. between the genocide and immigration, only a handful of christians now remain in a place like tur 'abdin, a place which was for more than a millenium the heartland of the syrian orthodox church.

      the role that groups like the ADL have played in preventing US recognition of the armenian genocide is a complete disgrace and utterly shameful; if their reflexive defenses of whatever israel does did not exist, their complicity in genocide denial alone would be enough to seriously debase the coinage of their moral authority on all other issues. members of these christian communities have known about that role for years, too, and it has been the source of quiet resentment and anger. in light of such expedient volte-faces perhaps now the wider world will see the hypocrisy as well.

  • Credibility, once shredded, is impossible to piece together again
    • let us grant that israel has a right to self-defense. this is invoked to defend anything and everything it does. but what sort of right to self-defense do palestinians and lebanese possess? it seems to me that the history of the last 60+ years suggests that these have much, much more reason to fear israel than israel has to fear them. how many lebanese and palestinian civilians have been killed, murdered, maimed, attacked, humiliated and injured by israeli 'defense' forces and extremist settlers? does anybody see arabs as possessing a right to self-defense, too?

  • What 1967, and 1948, tell us about today
    • my own family left jaffa in 1948 after the massacre at dayr yasin. they were worried that something similar was going to happen in jaffa. they didn't want to go, but it was a big family and they had many daughters and they were worried that the daughters were going to be raped. so they left jaffa on a boat, to lebanon. they thought they were going to come back. they buried my great grandfather in beirut with the key to his house when he died several decades later. i have been back to jaffa and seen their house. jews live in it now. it is a large house and from the outside, it looked as if it had been converted into an apartment block.

      as the generation of 1948 is slowly starting to die out, their stories are dying with them. i wish somebody or some organization would make a concerted effort to interview refugees from 1948 about their experiences and place those interviews in an archive somewhere and even, if the funding were available, put them all on the internet.

  • The Helen Thomas moment
    • i think it's really funny and ironic when people bring up thomas' being lebanese american as a way to dismiss her views and some how explain why should should not be taken seriously. there's an (ethnic) genetic fallacy at work here. what would happen if every time a pundit wrote or said something racist or ridiculous about arabs, muslims, or palestinians (which is a daily occurrence all over the MSM) and who was jewish had his/her ethnicity brought up and then used to explain the motivation for their saying what was said? if people want to disqualify thomas from speaking on the issue on the basis that she has lebanese heritage, then should anybody with jewish heritage not also be disqualified from speaking? what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

      the truth of the matter is that thomas expressed a feeling which is common among arabs and muslims: the state of israel represents an alien, european colonial implantation into the heart of the middle east which has been forcibly placed there, against the wishes of the indigenous peoples, through western military power and has been sustained there by means of substantial western military and financial aid over the course of decades. its continued existence has only been possible through the killing of tens of thousands of arabs over the years and through the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of human beings from their homes and lands on the basis of ethnic and religious criteria. it's like an organ which a body has tried to reject but which is being kept in place by means of very powerful medication, medication which has a pernicious effect on the rest of the body.

      now, thomas' view may be misguided, ill-informed, wrong headed, and perhaps offensive, but the fact that it would even get headlines and be regarded as remarkable in any way, shape, or form, shows just how bereft of middle eastern/palestinian voices the 'debate' about this conflict is in the US and how constricted it is (and getting daily emails from MEMRI doesn't count as making you informed about views among Arabs). you could use reaction to thomas' statement as a diagnostic test for just how clueless a person is about the conflict and the issues at stake. the more surprised and outraged they are, the deeper their head is buried in the sand.

      ignoring arab voices and grievances doesn't make them go away. it perhaps makes Arabs seem more irrational and barbaric in a very onanistic and self-congratulatory way. but self-congratulation, if you are an honest person, is a soup which gets very thin, very fast. or at least one would hope.

  • The trap
    • I am not willing to go to war to recover my historical family home in Poland. I’m not really willing to go to war over anything.

      How can you say this and at the same time be a Zionist? Isn't this precisely what the Zionists did and have been doing in Palestine?My right to my family's home in Jaffa and the right of Palestinians who still have their home keys and deeds to land is much more immediate and to be frank, convincing, than the claim of eastern European Jewry to have a right to land (some) of their forbears may or may not have actually possessed some two thousand years ago in a province ruled by Rome.

    • When I read this post, I have one simple question: what about the refugees? The two state solution is predicated on denying the refugees the right to return to their homes which they were forced out of 62 years ago. I did not vote for Abbas and neither did anyone in my family. He does not represent me and he cannot give away my right to my family's house in Jaffa. The two state solution sounds good and well if you only think about 1967. But the problem is that the real root of the problem is not 1967, it's 1948. It's the displacement of a large population of people and the seizure of their land and property and then the maintenance of that theft through violence, terror and murder, for decades. That's the problem here. I don't want to push anybody into the sea. I have no problem with Jews living in Palestine. Or a Jewish homeland there. I want people to be given their homes back, their farms back, their land back. I want an apology for the theft, too. And I want compensation for 62 years of back rent. Abbas and Erekat and Barghouti and whoever you want to name in the PA do not speak for all the Palestinians. They only speak for a part of them.

      Israelis who try to bring up the issue of Jews from Arab lands who were driven from their homes bring up a red-herring. Of course this was wrong, but it was not the fault of the Palestinians. It was the work of different Arab countries. And it is only if you subscribe to the racist and pathetically ignorant notion that all Arabs are the same, racially, culturally, whatever, that you can by some bizarre act of transitivity blame the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad or Aleppo of their Jewish communities on merchants in Jaffa or farmers in Galilee and make the latter pay the penalty for the sins of the non-Jewish inhabitants of the former.

  • Keller and Karsh--the 'Times' kennels the dogs of war
    • i once saw friedman speak and heard him use the 'suck on this' line then; it was his response to people who had criticized him for having reinvented, i think he put it, the new york times foreign affairs column. i wrote the book the lexus and the olive tree, he said, and i told people you can suck on this. after i saw him speak and listened to him talk to some friends at a reception afterwards, i came to two conclusions: 1) he is extraordinarily arrogant. 2) he's really, really short.

  • Burston: Dahiya doctrine now aimed inside Israel
    • The irony of Burston's article, of course, is how it contradicts the position he took re Cast Lead when it was actually going on. If memory serves, he wrote articles that were, if not downright supportive to the military violence, then very sympathetic, and his pieces were stridently moralistic and self-pitying. He is singing a different tune now. I'm not sure what explains this volte face, but it makes me take him less seriously.

  • Somehow I doubt it's a hatchet job
    • i just clicked on the photo and was able to see more details. the medallion says 'the complete translation, for the first time.' it was translated with an introduction by Ahmad Lutfi 'Abd al-Salam and published by Maktabat al-Nafidha. I don't know where that publishing house is based.

    • it says 'Adolf Hitler,' and the title is 'My struggle,' = Mein Kampf. (kifahi).

  • Brit Tzedek begins to reckon with idea of binational state
    • what i don't get is when zionists tell palestinians they need to get over 1948; have the people who say such things ever gotten over 70 AD or 135 AD? there are still people alive who were expelled from their homes in 1948. i am related to a number of them. nobody, so far as i know, is still around from 70 AD or from 135 AD. many of the palestinians, christians and muslims, who were expelled in 1948, no doubt are descended at least in part from people who in the first century adhered to some form of judaism. i am not sure how many of the european colonists who immigrated to palestine before and after 1948 had a similar such connection, although they themselves were often motivated by an ideology which at base had much to do with blut und erde.

      the french were in algeria for 130 years. the crusader states lasted 100-200 years. israel is about 60 years old. time and demographics are not on israel's side. i'd be surprised if it lasted as long as french algeria did. this is something which clear-headed zionists understand and something which explains why many zionists for whom the notion of a palestinian state has traditionally been anathema now support the establishment of something which they refer to as a palestinian 'state' but which on any reasonable definition of what a state is is in fact no such thing. this sort of thinking was behind olmert's 'amazing' offer.

      israel can only exist with extensive military, political, and moral support from western powers. this is the case now and has been the case since 1948. the legitimacy of a western colonial settler state, established by the west, for westerners, has not been accepted by the people of the region. my own experience, such as it has been, does not suggest to me that it will be. this should not be surprising. i am not aware of any example in history of a people or place that has been colonized and where the indigenous population has been murdered, terrorized, expelled, expropriated from, and treated as second-class citizens, where that population has embraced the ideology and justice of the colonial endeavor.

      recent years have witnessed the beginnings of the erosion of israel's support in the west. lebanon, gaza, goldstone, etc. israel's current political trajectory suggests that it will unfortunately continue to engage in the same sort of ruthless, disproportionate and cruel acts of military savagery which have recently damaged its image. all the king's horses and all the king's hasbara will have a hard time in restoring its reputation again. the internet has also made it more difficult to shape and manage opinion in the west. the rules of the game have changed and are changing.

      time is not on israel's side. the longer it puts off making peace and trying seriously to win acceptance in the region, the greater the odds will be that there will be a palestinian mugabe one day who will treat the jewish population of the eventual one state that will be the end result in the same way that the jewish population of israel has treated the arabs since 1948. a two state solution is the last best hope to save the long-term prospects of the zionist project.

    • if given the right of return, i wouldn't go back to jaffa. and i am not sure that my cousins in lebanon would, either. but we would have different reasons for saying no. i live in the u.s., and have no interest in going to a country where i would be a second class citizen and where systemic efforts have been made to erase and efface the traces of pre-1948 society. palestinians in lebanon have very little in the way of rights and opportunities; if they are saying they would not return in high percentages, it is in part, i suspect, out of a belief that they have nothing to return to and that israel would never let them back in. if there was a real hope that people could go back, and receive compensation for their stolen property and reparations for decades of rent that wasn't paid, so to speak, i wonder what any polling numbers might look like. at root, much of the zionist project has operated on the basis of the simple maxim of might makes right: we stole it and we're going to hold on to it until you give up hope of ever getting it back. the hope, i think, is that 1948 and its injustice will disappear or be forgotten as that generation gradually dies off.

      this is all in a way immaterial, however. my main point was that the debate over two states and the debate over the occupation focuses almost exclusively on 1967-related issues--Jerusalem, or the siege of Gaza, or continuing land theft and colonization in the West Bank. The voice of the victims of 1948 and their descendants is almost never heard; Mahmoud Abbas does not have the right to give away anybody's right to return. at best, he represents a segment of the palestinian people--those occupied in 1967, and 1948 refugees who were living in the west bank and gaza at that time. but he does not represent all of them and the conflict will not be over until the issues of 1948 have been resolved.

    • "The majority of Palestinians polled in the Occupied Territory consistently show support for a two-state solution, and this is probably a result of it being considered the most pragmatic and achievable solution as it overlaps so much with Israeli national security interests."

      what about all the palestinians living in camps in lebanon? what about the palestinians living in jordan, syria, egypt, iraq? do they support a one state solution or a two state solution? one major problem of most discussions of the question of palestine is that they equate the occupied territories and the palestinians living there with the palestinian people as a whole. but they are not all of the palestinian people and the west bank and gaza only represent part of historic palestine. the heart of historic palestine, culturally, intellectually, was not ramallah or nablus or hebron. it was jaffa, haifa, akka. the major cities on the coast. jaffa was 'arusat filasteen, the bride of palestine and the biggest city in the mandate. solving the occupation of 1967 does not solve the entire problem. it only deals with part of the problem. there is still the problem of 1948 and the people who were expelled and dispossessed then.

  • Yet another instance of 'fluent Hebrew and some knowledge of Arabic'
    • in my experience, when anybody tells you they have knowledge of 'some arabic' it means that they barely know any arabic whatsoever and are trafficking on the complete ignorance of those around them to make themselves sound more qualified than they really are. this is sadly true for almost all middle-east experts that one sees on t.v. and in the media in this country. the whole business of middle eastern expertise operates on the principle of in the land of the blind men, the one-eyed man is king.

      i once saw barbara walters interview a failed palestinian suicide bomber on a news program on ABC news. he was in an israeli prison. she asked him something like, 'didn't you ever want to get married, have a family, raise children?' his response in arabic was very clearly in the affirmative. something like, 'yes, i did.' and then they cut off the rest of what he was saying with a voice-over translation. i have no idea what the rest of his response was, but judging on the translation, i had no reason to believe that i could trust ABC. rather than say, 'yes, i did,' the translator began with, 'no, i wanted to kill jews.' i wrote to ABC news about it complaining and also contacted the ADC, but never received responses. this is the state of middle eastern expertise in this country. i think thomas friedman probably relies on MEMRI for his information on the arab press.

      any palestinian that she talks to will speak better english than she will arabic. if she actually encounters somebody who speaks no english, she'll have an interpreter. no question.

      i once had an ancient greek teacher tell my class that everybody goes through three stages of learning greek. you are a beginner for a year, intermediate for 30 years, and then advanced. arabic is at least as hard as ancient greek.

      this emperor has no clothes, but then again, i'm not sure than any of them do.

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