Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 628 (since 2012-11-28 14:21:46)

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  • Donald Trump and the 'ultimate deal'
    • "Proponents of the bill celebrated the continuation of settlement and the expanding of Israeli sovereignty over the West; opponents mourned the legalizing of seizure of Palestinian land that further clarifies the death of a Palestinian land and of the possibility of a peace deal."

      Israeli sovereignty over the West goes far beyond those feeble assertions about the influence of a lobby. Has Netanyahu really grabbed May, Merkel and Trump, as well as the lands to the east of Israel's borders?

  • John Kerry picked the wrong timeline for the Jewish state
    • If I wasn't an atheist I think I would react OMG: I can't believe I've just read that.

      Properly understanding history may be a lefty thing, but it certainly knocks spots off the rightie thing of inventing it. Thank you Jonathan for an excellent and much-needed response to Kerry's fairy story.

      "[P]alestinians have started to use [B]alfour as a point of attack" - no they haven't: they have always been outraged that their land could be given away by an imperial Britain that had no claim upon it and had already twice gifted it away (McMahon-Hussein correspondence and Sykes-Picot agreement).

      "so-called human rights" are not a stick to beat Israel; they are the means universally adopted by men of goodwill to avoid any repetition of the horrors that befell Europe and the world under Fascism. They are in fact a very Jewish thing. Prime mover in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the French Jewish jurist Rene Samuel Cassin. Rabbi Daniel Polish argued that, whilst the concept of "human rights" is a modern juridical notion, "the system of values and ideas" on which human rights are grounded 
      are among the beliefs which constitute the very core of Jewish sacred scripture and the tradition of ideas and practices which flows from it." David Daube argued that foundations for human rights may be found in the religious literature of Judaism, and S. D. Goitein asserted that "human rights, and relations among men in general, had been fully established in the Bible and the Talmud, and these formed the very substance of medieval Jewish beliefs and practices." The consequences of this tradition may be seen in the active involvement of Jews in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when "the support for universally valid laws and human rights became almost a self-understood Jewish concern."

      Zioinist attacks on the concept of human rights came about only because Zionism as a colonial, occupying, exclusionist, ethnic cleansing ideology turned its back on centuries of a cultural tradition in which Jews had fought for tolerance, liberty and pluralism.

      The Balfour Declaration may have been totally illegitimate, but that, per se, does not undermine Israel's legitimacy. Israel, of course, has no right to exist, and states frequently structure themselves in such away that they eventually collapse (Soviet Union, Apartheid South Africa, etc.). Nevertheless, Israel has as much legitimacy as any other state that seeks to live in peace within its own borders.

  • 'We betrayed the legacy of the Holocaust': Professor Yair Auron pushes Israel to confront complicity with Bosnian genocide
    • In a long history of war-criminals selling arms to fellow war-criminals, Israel has sold arms to many of the worst offenders in the world: South Africa (under Apartheid), Iran (under the Shah), Romania and China (under Communism), Morocco, Turkey, Indonesia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Zaire - in fact anywhere that some other governments had scruples about permitting their arms dealers to trade with. Why should we be surprised that a regime that has always attempted to subvert the rule of international law and decent standards attempts to do so (any more than we would be surprised that Czechoslovakia, UK, France, USA sell to murderous regimes). No hope for humanity until governments can be restricted from selling arms to human rights violators. Anyone for a Middle Eastern nuclear Free Zone?

  • Jeffrey Goldberg is Jewish
    • yonah "I would say more if the venue was friendly."

      I can appreciate that point entirely: but unfortunately there are some rather vicious personal attacks (e.g. the earlier post at 2:20 pm on October 21st), that somehow evade the moderators' efforts to maintain courteous standards of discussion. There are also contributors who are not above making snide comments about people who are prepared to plunge the dagger in and then quickly retreat under a mantle of victimhood.

    • "I consider Phil’s relationship to the [J]ews problematic.... Quite often he has been clearly apathetic regarding the idea of [J]ewish continuity"

      Have you any idea, Yonah, how feeble that sounds: to characterise as "alienation" the process of outgrowing one's childish roots is to totally understate what an empowering and liberating experience that can be: to simplistically characterise that process as treachery to one's community and ancestors, is to do both of those a huge disservice.

      My beloved mother was deeply pious in a respectable C. of E. fashion; I admire her simple faith, her good works, and her dedicated parenting, but I am happy to be an adamant atheist, and feel this is in no way disloyal to her memory. My beloved father, made many sacrifices, both as a soldier against fascism in WWII, and as a sole bread-winner for a growing family, but I have no regrets that I share none of his conservative and petit-bourgeois values, which led him to strongly dislike the Welsh and those with darker skins, whom he only encountered in Iraq and India, whilst on military service, and to despise the miners, dock-workers and factory hands, living in northern council houses. I long ago moved away from the small town where my parents, grandparents and great grandparents lived, and I never looked back. You too should try to forsake your mental ghetto; the big wide world is an exciting place, and you might even learn something new.

  • After Palestinian takes gold in Rio for Jordan, Israelis claim his roots are 'Israeli'
  • The breathtaking arrogance of Alan Dershowitz's 'advice' to Black Lives Matter
    • "You’re not interested in any perspective that differs from your own. "

      Is this the same Hophmi, who mastered in outreach, and who constantly embraces perspectives contradictory of his own, or this just another apologist enraged that others can deign to have an alternative perspective to his?

  • Former AIPAC official says Israel should get no US aid without ending 'oppressive' settlements
    • Interesting to see Donald Trump sneaking into the top 10 Zionnaires, but whereas others in the list have given millions in donations, there is not a single gift mentioned for the Donald, just the holding of honorific positions and cheer-leading for Netanyahu. Is DT one of the business and philanthropic masters of the universe or is he just a self-serving, self-aggrandizing, cheap-skate bull-shitter-in-chief.

  • Sanders delegates recount 'Orwellian' message control by Clinton supporters during DNC
    • Someone please enlighten me.

      millions of people, both left and right, believe that she should be in jail

      I get that (in an exercise in projection) she has been labelled by an opponent "crooked Hillary"; that the Clinton Foundation, set up by her husband, has some dodgy donors; that she has too often espoused an actively interventionist foreign policy; that she was "extremely careless" with State Department emails; that the highly effective Democratic Party machinery is extremely ruthless; that Sanders supporters are extremely disappointed with the outcome of the primaries; that the Democratic platform in favour of Israel and hostile to Palestinian rights is utterly unprincipled; that she is a very unattractive candidate in many people's eyes: that she has made a fortune speaking to private groups of bankers; that her campaign is funded by very disreputable characters within Wall Street, Big Business and the pro-Zionist lobby; etc., etc. .......

      But can someone please tell me what indictable criminal offences she has committed or may have committed or at some point in the future may commit? Is her record for honesty and integrity in any way comparable to that of her main rival in the presidential campaign? Is this constant innuendo about her criminality in any way justified or helpful to the democratic process?

  • Using Rep. Johnson's innocent comment to stain his reputation was the real crime
    • You are right about the frequent and far more objectionable references to cockroaches, which seem to have a much bigger PR problem than termites, (even though they are very closely related, as members of the order Blattodea). Termites are ancient creatures, but advanced and highly organised, for which they are often eulogised. For instance Wikipedia makes an interesting analogy:

      Termites are among the most successful groups of insects on Earth, colonising most landmasses except for Antarctica. Their colonies range in size from a few hundred individuals to enormous societies with several million individuals

      As well as being a colonising species, they are highly militaristic, with specialisation between groups operating as soldiers and workers, and some termite species have developed a capability to use skunkwater:

      Different sorts of soldiers include minor and major soldiers, and nasutes, which have a horn-like nozzle frontal projection (a nasus). These unique soldiers are able to spray noxious, sticky secretions containing diterpenes at their enemies.

  • New York Times's breathless story on landing interview with Netanyahu reads like 'the Onion' on crack
    • There is apparently another side to Jeffrey Gettleman: a philosopher, trained at Harvard and Oxford, a Pulitzer prize winner for his fearless reporting of human rights abuses. According to Jack Shafer at Slate (a man who has "a weakness for reporters who have a knack for mining exotica without getting all exotic about it"): in dealing with ugly news his "method is to play it straight and direct, easy on the cynicism, and without a hint of any world weariness.... Gettleman can't editorialize... Gettleman dons the big pants of the reliable narrator and puts the dead into deadpan." And he is apparently utterly fearless: when kidnapped, "I was expecting to be shot immediately, and I wasn't scared; I had gone beyond that point, and I had lost all control. I was just hoping it wouldn't hurt." (see http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/press_box/2009/03/jeffrey_gettlemans_world_of_war.html)

      Why do so many journalists (present company excepted) desert their courageous and brutally honest beginnings to climb the slippery pole. Is he hoping for transfer from the hell-holes of Kenya, Congo, Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia, to a cushy life in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem? At least he would still be able to "cover ugly news—massacres, depravation, rape, riots, suicide bombings, mutilations".

  • Israeli scholar refuses to shut up despite university punishment for saying settlers exhibit 'psychosis'
    • But oldgeezer, surely this is far more than a local parenting problem - rather it is a psychosis that has overtaken an entire society, and leads many within the hilltop youth to rebel against their staid and unambitious parents by deliberately seeking out the most dangerous possible locations for their "ISIS" style enclaves.

  • Jewish entitlement, and Jewish populism
    • PW: "Dismissing populism as ignorance is both incurious and dangerous."

      Well why not take a lead from your President, who for all his numerous failings, can call a spade a shovel: despite the media's eagerness to label this as ranting: see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYNf3Bev628 for an eloquent espousal of the virtues of genuine populism.

      Interesting code here regarding the need for transparency and what commitment to advancing the interests of ordinary people entails (a drubbing of an unnamed Republican who has never sought to advance anyone's interests but his own, an endorsement of Sanders' credentials and no reference to HC.

  • In latest pander to Israel lobby, Clinton smears Max Blumenthal's criticism of Wiesel as 'hateful'
    • It's very simple Mooser: I think you will find that Max is using the label "anti-Semite" not in its original form (hostile to Jews) but in its modern form (in favour of human rights, peace, justice. democracy and accountability and hostile to hypocrisy, incitement, corruption, torture, assassination and double standards ).

  • Mainstream obits for Wiesel offer barely an asterisk for his intolerant views of Palestinians
  • 'Politico' dares to publish Ehrenreich saying occupation fosters terrorism, and 'Camera' goes haywire
    • Lol, hophmi, how lame! Charles Glass is an internationally respected journalist, documentary film-maker, publisher and consistent advocate of human rights. He has expert experience of the Middle East dating back to 1973 and served for 10 years as ABC News chief Middle Eastern correspondent. He has worked for CNN, ABC and BBC, and has written for just about every respected journal and newspaper in the US and UK. You belittle him as a pro-Palestinian propagandist yet his influential investigative journalism has extended, not only through the entire middle east (esp. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq) but to other conflict zones such as East Timor and Bosnia. He published the inspiring 'Time for Outrage' (achieved 3 million sales in 30 languages) of Stephane Hessel (French Resistance fighter, concentration camp survivor, diplomat, and inspirer of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

      Give me an alleged "pro-Palestinian propagandist" any day, in preference to a blinkered, bigoted and pettifogging Zionist troll.

  • As San Francisco mourns Orlando, Trump pulls Clinton his way
    • Hophmi - surely if I used terms like "radical Christianity" or "radical Judaism" or "radical Zionistic terrorism" or whatever, you would complain that yes, men of violence exist, and exist within all religions and ideologies, but the conflation of the adjective "radical" and whatever noun you use to define the religion or the ideology, does huge disservice to the many other people who follow those religions, and even ideologies, but are not inherently violent or hateful or terroristic?

      Trump has just failed another probationary challenge. Imagine him as president, if you can, in one year's time, when another incident of this type occurs, as it certainly will, having to address the American people, to provide leadership and healing words and direction, at a time of tragic national trauma. Hopefully Americans will be evaluating his performance, not only at his rallies, and in friendly TV interviews, but at moments of crisis like this, and will search in vain for the slightest evidence that he can fulfil one of the most basis requirements of being presidential : to lead the whole nation, at moments like this.

  • The List: Cuomo's anti-BDS executive order is a first amendment nightmare
    • This executive order would appear to be as carefully thought out as something scribbled on the back of a fag packet after a boozy night out clubbing. There is no definition of a "subsidiary". Thus if an individual pension or asset management fund with a brief for ethical investment were to stop investment in companies supporting the occupation, its parent bank or financial institution would presumably be eligible for black-listing? If a student group or perhaps a school of Middle Eastern studies within a University were to hold a conference on BDS where members of the panel and of the audience were to advocate BDS, would the parent university be blacklisted, and if it were a state university, would the parent state be eligible for blacklisting?

      The incredible vagueness of this order appears designed to shut down all debate and enforce totalitarian control within institutions. The only requirement for blacklisting ("credible information available to the public") would seem to be a perfect charter for the nastiest of letter-writers from organisations like Standwithus to vilify progressive activism.

      Time for Hillary to reach out to Bernie supporters and the rest of the nation by a clear statement that whilst she disapproves of BDS activity and is a very staunch supporter of Israel, she is even more a supporter of liberal democracy and the public's right to advocate and shape public policy.

  • 'I am Palestinian and I am human' -- and Leanne Mohamad, 15, is disqualified from UK speaking competition
    • They are barely human, but surprise, surprise they have emotions. OK - we'll eventually put an end to that. What we need are more cold, hard, concrete facts .... on the ground. Heartless brute.

    • "vile and hateful... trolling" of a 15-year-old girl. Well done you defenders of Zion.

      As for the absurd claim that she was disqualified for issuing propaganda, surely this is intrinsic to the art of public speaking or debating? Let us take a comprehensive definition of the term from an American scholar: "Propaganda is neutrally defined as a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological, political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels."

      (1) Certainly this was a persuasive attempt to influence the emotions, attitudes, and opinions" of a specific audience, as any successful act of public speaking must inevitably be.
      (2) I did not read this as an attempt to influence the "actions" of the audience, but as a plea for empathy and open-mindedness.
      (3) Yes, it was one-sided, though not necessarily false in any respect, but I defy any speaker, let alone a schoolgirl, to address any significant matter in a few minutes whilst giving a fully rounded analysis of all issues.
      (4) But key elements that are missing are "systematic", for "ideological" purposes, delivered by "mass direct media channels". No this was an impassioned personal plea, made on a one-off platform to a specific private audience.
      Had this been propaganda the expert panel would not have awarded her victory in the regional qualifier.

      Thanks for again highlighting the crimes and distortions of Zionist propaganda.

  • Top donor to Clinton super PAC is Haim Saban
    • Magnificent, hophmi. Another logical and rhetorical tour de force. The discussion and reasoned analysis offered here is rather uncomfortable for dyed in the wool and heads in the sand Zionists and therefore it must be driven by anti-Semitism.

      I note the irrefutable evidence with which you furnish your argument ("prominent Jews ... involved in liberal causes and Democratic politics") but surely you could have made this argument much stronger. You could have pointed out that these generous and utterly disinterested donors have never claimed to be "one issue" guys, have never attempted to corrode democratic and representative politics by purchasing politicians, have given exclusively to liberal causes and have never provided any funding for pro-Israel or pro-settlement activities, have vociferously been calling for a reduction in the influence and power of corporations and Wall Street, and greater income and wealth equality, and have been at the forefront everywhere, and on each continent, in leading the fight for peace and justice. The similarities between their views and those of the corporatists, neo-liberals and neo-conservatives is purely coincidental. And of course the beacon of liberals and progressives, Bernard Saunders' campaign, has been generously and even-handedly advanced by these donors, who so desperately seek to advance progressive outcomes, not only in America but in the Foreign Policy arena. Had you developed that argument you could really have clinched your case!

  • Israel is at war over nature of a Jewish state, and NYT spins it as 'changing of the guard'
    • Truly amazing set of readers comments. I read the readers' picks and there was virtual unanimity regarding the abhorrence of Netanyahu / Lieberman, the desperate need to reshape the US relationship with Israel and the urgent necessity of ending / cutting American aid until Israel pursues peace. I say virtual unanimity because the single post that I read that was supportive of Israel was an off-topic post relating a "humanitarian" visit the correspondent had recently made to Israel where she had seen no evidence of unequal treatment for Jews / Arabs.

      Two thoughts:

      (1) Reference is often made to the self-censorship imposed by editors and journalists terrified of the torrents of hostile letters they will receive from readers if open criticism is made of Israel. Why is there this one-way street, where the NYT imposes self-censorship, despite the torrent of readers' letters they apparently receive demanding and endorsing criticism of Israel? Or do readers seeking to influence editorial policy need to employ not reasoned argument but death threats and advertising boycotts? Or is it just that ordinary readers / members / voters are powerless to challenge or influence those who wield power in the media, just as in Jewish institutions and democratic institutions?

      (2) We see everyday the success of hasbara trolls in disrupting and diverting reasoned discussion not only on this forum but every other one. Yet the NYT readers picks appears to be a hasbara free zone, not only in this article but many others I have perused recently. (I only read the readers' picks, but these were a substantial majority of all comments made). So just thinking out loud about the various methods employed on-line to manage audience feedback:

      (a) the Guardian employs "Community standards", which appear to very vigorously policed by a team of not terribly well-informed administrators, and often deny the readership any opportunity to provide feedback by either not enabling comments or closing down discussions out of office hours.

      (b) the Daily Mail exercises far weaker control over comments, but enables a like / dislike against each comment. Reading comments is however seldom worthwhile since its readers are even less well-informed and even more bigoted than its journalists.

      (c) I know nothing about NYT moderation policies but to an occasional reader like myself it would appear that the mechanism of Readers' Picks is a fruitful mechanism for self-policing by the reading community, and an obvious way of filtering out of a conversation (without censoring) comments that are irrelevant or ignorant.

      (d) +972 Mag appears to let nearly anything go, with degeneration into vitriolic attacks and ad hominen insults.

      (e) MW seems to be vigilant in post-moderating, with clear guidelines, but with well-informed moderators who are generally very generous in allowing leeway to a diverse range of opinions. Nevertheless / as a result, hasbara trolls quite often succeed in disrupting / diverting conversation in quite tiresome, but sometimes amusing ways, and do of course provide Mooser (and others) with endless opportunities to exercise his wit and basic common sense. MW more than the others I have cited benefits from threaded conversations rather than pulpit declarations. Nevertheless I wonder has MW considered a like / dislike (or up/down) button, and does your platform permit such a thing? Such a feature would appear to have two significant advantages: (i) it could focus attention on the most fruitful and interesting contributions, and (ii) it might shame those who seek merely to disrupt with outrageous and ill-thought-out comments to see the contempt with which their comments are viewed by the wider community.

  • Sanders appoints Palestine advocates to committee drafting Democrat's 2016 platform
    • Hoppy: "then things will miraculously get better for everyone in the neighborhood. ” You respond: "That’s a bit delusional, sorry. Iraq and Syria are not going to get better because the Palestinians got a state. The Jews are not responsible for every Arab problem"

      No one said the Jews were responsible - let alone the secular Israelis or those whose only "religion" is militant Zionism - but the conflict casts a dark shadow over an entire region, and has played a large part in the creating the problems that torment the entire region (e.g. the rise of both neo-conservative intervention, Western support for autocratic government, the undermining of secular nationalism and the associated rise of violent religious fundamentalism and "terrorism".

      Let's take a parallel situation: Europe was tormented for nearly a century by an existential rivalry between France and Germany (with major wars in 1870, 1914, 1939). Following crushing defeats of Germany in 1918 and 1945, peace broke out and the region established cooperative institutions (the Common Market, and then the EEC and the European Union). This had a transformative effect on the whole continent, with the advance of liberal democracy throughout the entire continent. Progress was uneven and faced (and still does) many challenges, but as part of the chain of changing attitudes, fascist regimes fell in Spain, Portugal, Greece, and peaceful advances were made everywhere. Rising prosperity brought huge gains in human rights, workers rights, gay rights, gender relationships etc.

      Are you seriously telling me that something similar could not happen in the Middle East? After crushing Arab defeats in 1948 and 1956 and 1967 and 2006 etc.), if the victors could replicate the European experience, if a real peace process could break out, ending occupation, if the Arab peace proposal were to be pursued and adopted, granting region wide recognition of Israel (and even Iran would subscribe), then economic ties, cooperation on environmental issues, water, tourism and a host of other areas could follow (as they did in Europe) and the region could be transformed.

      An Israel living at peace within secure and recognised boundaries, could reap the peace dividend of reducing its military spending, and focus on social, educational and infrastructure investment. It would no longer have the constant incentive to undermine its neighbours. It would no longer need to continue to lobby for Western intervention in the region, as Netanyahu so blatantly did before the Iraq invasion. The political dynamic would be transformed, to the benefit of all states within the region.

      No, Hoppy - you continue to chant the warmonger's slogan that peace wouldn't change anything.

  • Sharansky disses American Jews for assimilating, then tells 'major donors' to universities to stop BDS
    • Yonah - you badly underestimate the resilience and range of Jewishness if you say that all it has to offer is the prayer-book or the sword. The pen is far mightier. In the battlefield of secular ideas, activism and the pursuit of truth and justice you can be justly proud of the achievements of the likes of Noam Chomsky, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Richard Falk, Jeff Halper, Norman Finkelstein, Allen Ginsburg, David Grossman, Christopher Hitchins, Abbie Hoffman, Tony Judt, Miriam Karlin, Gerald Kaufman, Eric Mann, Michael Neumann, Matti Peled, Carl Sagan, Bernie Saunders, I.F.Stone, Simone Weil, Naomi Wolf and a host of others.

  • Reebok backtracks on Israel Independence Day-inspired sneaker (Updated)
    • Talknic

      Your excellent and apposite points are usually documented with citations from the appropriate chapters of international law or UN charter / resolutions. In this case there is no reference.

      I assume you are saying that Palestinian victims of the Nakba who, having fled Palestine, were forced to accept citizenship in Chile, the US, Canada, Germany or elsewhere, have, in so-doing, abandoned their claim to Palestinian citizenship. Can you please confirm, with citation. Those references I have seen to the Palestinian diaspora having legitimate interest in the resolution of I/P and entitlement to participate in an eventual plebiscite, or whatever, refers then only to those who remained stateless. Does this mean that the approx. 40% of total refugees who have been allowed Jordanian citizenship, even whilst remaining UNWRA-registered have sacrificed their RoR? Please clarify.

  • A new proposal for confederated states (without any idea of how to get Israel to comply)
    • Annie, I wasn't trying to be critical of your article, I was just trying to contribute to the conversation. I was wrong to open my post with "you have it wrong"; but I was just pointing out that an analysis framed for an American audience had been prefixed by a couple of paragraphs to offer current relevance to Guardian readers. (I used to joke with by wife that our decades of bliss together were built on my facility to say "yes, dear, I was wrong" or "no, dear, you were right".)

      You article was a worthy contribution and I agree with many of the points you made but I still have severe reservations with some elements, so let me focus on these:

      (1) "irresponsible". Had you restricted yourself to saying that "I think it is unrealistic, at this juncture, to discuss an approach..." I would have entirely agreed, but you added "and irresponsible". The general consensus seems to that the 2SS is not yet buried but unattainable because no offer is on the table, and no offer could be placed on the table which would be acceptable to the Palestinian people. Therefore we are left with only the 1SS, which will eventually emerge out of the current facts on the ground reality. I have read much commentary about this solution, but I have not yet encountered any concrete vision of what this would look like in terms of constitutional framework, reparations for, or return of, stolen homes, land, and resources, or the itinerary of return of refugees from the camps. Without such a clearly defined and generally agreed blueprint, the ISS is even more vulnerable than its predecessor to the knee-jerk Zionist reaction that "it will destroy Israel". It is therefore entirely "responsible" to explore the configuration of what this new state could look like (and in keeping with the ethos of MW, as I also pointed out). Stephen Shenfield, above, may agree with you that more Zionist-controlled debate is simply a time-wasting tactic, delaying resolution, but Ramzi seems more realistic, arguing, if I may paraphrase, don't worry, the 1SS is not on the horizon yet but will inevitably arrive.

      (2) "implementation". Your argument seems to be that the "irresponsibility" of the Waxman / Scheindlin proposal lies in the absence of a clearly defined implementation path. Two points: (a) The 2SS was long espoused without a detailed implementation path. Even more relevantly, BDS, which you and I both support, advocates three general principles to resolving the conflict without any attempt to prescribe what the actual political solution will look like, even to the extent of whether it will be 1SS or a 2SS. (b) More fundamentally, project management methodology prescribes a number of stages of analysis - covering requirements, objectives, risks, issues, constraints, costs, benefits, etc. and, of course, implementation approach and timetable. But you do not invest time and effort, assuming you have conducted a feasibility study, until at least the broad outlines of your solution have been agreed, in defining the precise implementation path.

      (3) "imposing" a solution. We both agree that extreme pressure needs to be applied, but I am more sceptical of the influence and track-record of the "external" world imposing solutions to resolve what can be viewed as "internal" problems. I said you over-estimated the influence of the global community. We neither of us defined our terms: whether we meant (a) the oblique and indirect pressure which can be applied by millions of trade unionists, church members, gays, celebrities and political activists campaigning, demonstrating, writing letters, signing petitions and supporting BDS, or (b) the somewhat more direct pressure that can be applied by the international "community" of nations, employing primarily diplomatic methods, working through institutions like the UN and similar groupings. I assumed you were referring to the latter, and your response, citing the Iran deal would appear to confirm that. Now the American government (or even a single principled president) could very easily transform the situation by a raft of actions (end military and financial support, end tax-exempt donations to Zionist groups, stop attacking BDS, waive the UN veto, campaign for a nuclear free middle east, vigorously support all Palestinian Americans killed, injured or denied entry, release the archives of the USS Liberty attack and other incidents, etc.) But that will not occur while corn-barrel politics rule, and without the US we can expect little from others (EU dominated by sympathetic UK and Germany, Russia and Arab regimes mired in internal problems and border disputes, China, Brazil, India distant, disinterested or lacking in international clout).

      Finally you took issue with two points I made: questioning why I put the liberation of Jewish Americans (from the taboo placed on criticising Israel) first on my list and why I echoed the Israeli government in insisting that a workable solution would have to be agreed by Israelis and Palestinians. I'm surprised you ask.

      For any resolution to occur the climate of opinion has to change, and has clearly to change first in America (and then as usual we can all catch a cold). Perhaps you ask the question because I can easily fall into a trap unless I watch my words, but tell me how many Americans of Palestinian, Arab, Moslem, European Christian or secular backgrounds have advised the President on Middle Eastern affairs. Tell me that every recent Presidential candidate (with one honourable exception) has appeared before CAIR to pledge fealty to the cause. Tell me that editorials and opinion pieces are almost exclusively provided by pro-Palestine journalists and public figures, who also monopolise the chat shows and talk radio. Tell me that dissenting voices in academia like Norman Finkelstein (may he rest in peace) and Joseph Massad and dozens of others are rigorously policed by an army of pro-Palestine donors, alumnae, activist groups and armies of letter-writers. Tell me the number of senate and house resolutions that have passed unopposed condemning atrocities against Gaza and Lebanon because of the stranglehold that the cause of Palestine exerts in American politics and the deep funding provided by dual-nationality / dual loyalty Gulf sheikhs.

      The plain and obvious fact is that the very limited debate occurring in America is completely dominated by partisans of one side; that opening up public discourse to greater diversity, more accurate coverage and alternative opinions would be immensely valuable; that censorship and self-censorship are rife and corrosive because those presenting honest opinions can so easily be vilified, side-lined and their careers ruined. Their are many eloquent and principled witnesses for the defence (like Gideon Levy, Max Blumenthal, Miko Peled, and many others) but how often does the court stenographer that is mainstream media even record their testimony, and how many countless others (Joseph Stiglitz and the successors of the unhappy Jimmy Carter spring immediately to mind) simply refuse to enter the witness box lest their testimony be condemned as contempt of court? As PW recently argued changing this McCarthyite / Stalinist rule of orthodoxy requires challenging by overcoming this taboo on criticising Israel, first and foremost by American Jews who can be assumed to have some sort of natural immunity from charges of anti-Semitism. But when that dam is burst, a thousand flowers can spring up in the desert.

      Finally, yes for any peace to be made, let alone survive, the key stake-holders, who are the resident Israelis and the Palestinians between the river and the sea and the Palestinian exiles, will have to agree and commit to the solution, and prepare for the difficult task of reconciliation and cohabitation. No it won't come under the current anaemic, corrupt and inept leadership of Abbas, and the bellicose, blustering and equally inept leadership of Netanyahu. But if we assume that the change requires strong external pressure, not even-handedly applied but in favour of the weakened victim, as I think we both do, and if we expect that this will both weaken and demoralise reactionary sectors in Israeli society, and empower progressive forces in Palestinian society (and of course vice versa) then when the way has been readied, we can expect not prophets but men of realism and at least moderate good will. Men like Johnson / MLK, De Klerk / Mandela, Sadat / Begin succeeded in resolving intractable and sometimes long-standing conflicts partly because of their own qualities, partly because of their supporters, and partly because of pressures applied to them (referring especially to Carter's intervention to pressure Begin).

    • Annie

      (1) You have it wrong that the article is addressing a British audience. This is extracted from a longer piece published in the Washington Quarterly.

      (2) "I think it’s unrealistic and irresponsible, at this juncture, to discuss an “approach” without discussing implementing acceptance." That is a somewhat strange argument to hear on MW, which I thought embraced the "War of Ideas in the Middle East", and often argues that any issue that raises public consciousness and develops debate is beneficial.

      For how long has their been discussion of a Two State Solution, without detailed analysis of the path to implementation - beyond of course periodic exhortations by American Secretaries of State, occasional condemnations by the UN and a general acceptance that an agreement between Israeli and Palestinian leaders will be necessary? Why should the bar be set higher for this proposal, and why does a similar implementation path not apply? The flimsiness of the implementation approach to 2SS (esp. Oslo) has been go for confidence building measures now, and we'll grapple with the serious issues (like borders, refugees. and Jerusalem) later on.

      (3) "The discussion we should be having is what the global community needs to do to force Israel to comply to a plan" Surely the first thing we need to is to agree what the plan is, before we talk about how to impose / implement it. The international community continues to talk about the 2SS, though increasingly it is being acknowledged that settlements and economic integration have made a viable second state impossible. The parameters of the 2SS were well known, and broadly agreed. The only problem was implementation. But the concept of a 1SS is not well developed, and could come in a diversity of shapes and sizes, and these various options surely need to be subject to serious debate? The simple formula 1S1P1V works pretty well in dozens of countries, but the Zionist movement has fiercely opposed this approach for more than a century, so simply reciting 1S1P1V like a magical incantation isn't going to solve anything. Serious work to elaborate constitutional forms that might persuade and be acceptable to both Israelis and Palestinians are desperately urgent.

      (4) I think you overestimate the power and influence of the global community. Look at any issue of major regime change: e.g. American Civil Rights; collapse of Apartheid in South Africa; collapse of Soviet power; transformation of fascist regimes in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Chile, Myanmar, etc. External condemnation and international isolation were contributory, but ultimately the forces for internal change achieved the transformation. The same I am sure will apply in I/P.

      (5) "No, we’re tired of just deploring the occupation and doing nothing. We’ve tried everything else. Now it’s our turn to do what our governments won’t, after decades. The “approach” we’ve chosen is Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Live with it."

      BDS has a vital role to play, but gains achieved so far have been relatively minor; further gains will be very hard-fought; and other changes must go hand in hand alongside an accelerating strategy of BDS.

      What I am long-windedly trying to get at (and I don't think I'm really disagreeing with anything you say) is that if and when I/P is resolved it will be as a result of multiple interlocking processes, which will need to evolve in parallel. These comprise:
      (a) as per PW's excellent article today: liberate American Jews from the taboo of criticising Israel.
      (b) in the process, liberate American non-Jews so that the real facts about the conflict can be known and debated, in an atmosphere free of anti-Semitic slurs.
      (c) fight like hell to get money out of politics, so that the voice of the American people can be heard, and the power of the lobbies reduced.
      (d) fight like hell to find a progressive presidential candidate who can be elected and will be prepared to be even-handed on I/P and prepared to waive the American veto at the UN.
      (e) fight like hell to reduce carbon-dependence and develop clean energy which will have the effect of undermining the dictatorial regimes maintained in the Middle East by a West hungry for cheap oil.
      (f) continue rapprochement with Iran which will undermine Israeli-warmongering efforts and transform Middle Eastern international relations.
      (g) continue and accelerate the BDS process.
      (h) change on the American front is vital because of its special relationship, but will in the process energise and accelerate activism in Europe and elsewhere.
      (i) develop fully worked out proposals for the solution to I/P, which will very likely be some form of hyprid 1S/2S solution, for instance on the lines advocated by Waxman/ Scheindlin and Ali Abunimah.
      (j) reach out to and embrace progressive elements in Palestinian society who will react non-violently and very positively to the changing climate of world opinion. (Some of the $5billion p.a. saved by no longer arming Israel could work wonders in building civil society institutions)
      (k) reach out to and embrace progressive elements in Israeli society who will compromise on their current economic, political, military and cultural power if the only alternative is long-term decline and pariah status.
      (l) allow Israelis and Palestinians to work out and agree their own solution, rather than thinking that the global community can impose one.

    • Page: 6
  • Students explain why they protested Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat at San Francisco State University
    • "As students, we are deeply disturbed that our University, which claims to advocate for social justice, is actively involved in creating safe spaces for hate speech and the promotion of international law violations by offering a stage for Barkat."

      I totally disagree: sunlight is the best disinfectant. Your battle will be won only by the contest of free and open debate. You must now hold the university authorities to the obligation to create safe space and equal opportunities for opponents of Barkat. You should welcome the opportunities to publicise your just cause by protesting and debating even with the defenders of the indefensible. Did the occasion offer any opportunity for asking questions? Would this not have been more effective than merely flag-waving?

      "From the River to the Sea"

      You can rationalise the use of such slogans, but can you not find more effective ones? Is your task not to persuade those in the middle ground who are not already committed to one side or the other? Support for the State of Israel is partly based on trauma - historically real and genuine, but more recently largely manufactured by manipulative politicians and lobbies. Is it helpful to your cause to reinforce these "traumas"?

      What did neutrals take away from your protest? Was it the recognition of the atrocious injustices of the oppressive regime in Jerusalem, or was it a reaffirmation of the intransigent hostility of a small group of unrepresentative agitators? Being a martyr for a cause is easy; rising above your own victimhood is much more challenging.

  • Anti-Semitism is considered a serious moral failing. But no one calls out anti-Palestinian bigotry
    • The opprobrium heaped upon the crime of anti-Semitism (let me be absolutely clear - not the old-fashioned and utterly hateful bigotry directed at Jews, but its new designation directed at any criticism of Israel) is surely only possible because of two factors:

      (1) A numerous but poorly educated and poorly informed group of Christian fundamentalists have proclaimed fealty to a Jewish state with a capital in the city where their founder was executed. Somewhat ironic isn't it?

      (2) A small but very powerful and wealthy group of (non-Christian) Zionists have come to exercise very considerable influence within academia, the media, and the echelons of government, most particularly in the USA but in many other states, and display a remarkable devotion to a foreign state whose interests often appear to run counter to the interests of their own state. Somewhat ironic isn't it?

    • Hophmi - your's is the "nonsense". "Anti-Palestinianism" (whilst a mouthful) is an invaluable concept, as is the distinction between "old anti-Semitism" and "new anti-Semitism".

      Old anti-Semitism is the traditional Christian-inspired bigotry directed at Jews because of religious and associated cultural differences. It's precise equivalent is Islamaphobia, the modern bigotry directed at Moslems, by Christians and Jews (and a lot of non-believers influenced by Judeo-Christian culture).

      New anti-Semitism is a concept invented and constantly iterated by Zionism that claims that there is "bigotry" in the criticism of Israel by those who assert the necessity for human rights principles in the resolution of the issues facing the area that was Mandatory Palestine. This attempts to assert that there is an objective to destroy Israel masked in the motives of those who (1) draw attention to the plight of the victims of the Nakba and their just claims for resolution (recompense, recognition, right of return or some combination of these); (2) proclaim the illegitimacy of the legal, economic and social privileges that have been seized by the Jewish population within the area; (3) deny that a right of Jewish self-determination entitles Israel to seize all the land and dispossess all the non-Jewish inhabitants of the self-proclaimed "eretz Israel"; (4) point out the illegitimacy in international law of the various devices (occupation, settlement, constant war and war-mongering, killing of civilians) used to expand Israeli power; or (5) attempt to employ the peaceful and legitimate tools of BDS to promote change and to save Israel from its demons.

      Anti-Israelism (largely devoid of any of the characteristics of anti-Semitism) is exactly equivalent to Anti-Palestinianism largely devoid of the characteristics of Islamaphobia). Hilary's AIPAC speech could be the basis for defining both: "we must repudiate all efforts to malign, isolate and undermine Israel and the Jewish [supporters of Israel]" Since long before the establishment of the SOI its proponents have assiduously sought to "malign, insolate and undermine" the right of Palestinians, initially to national self-determination within eretz Palestine, later to even a rump state outside the 1967 borders of Israel, to international recognition and membership of the UN and the community of nations.

  • Saying Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state is not anti-Semitic
    • "“If america passes laws against drug dealers and it happens that MOST impacted are black and mexican, does that make it a racist law”

      Perhaps, Boya, you should question your premise? Is the Mafia a black Mexican crime syndicate? Is the CIA, allegedly heavily implicated in drugs in Nicaragua, South-East Asia, Afghanistan and elsewhere (see Kerry Committee Report etc) a black Mexican front organisation? Is there no evidence that drug use (and drug-dealing) is at similar levels in the white and non-white communities within the US but that penal policy discriminates against one of these because of the persisting institution racism within American society?

    • "all efforts to malign, isolate and undermine Israel and the Jewish people"

      One of the stock responses offered to anyone at all critical of Jewish institutions (or Jewish and specifically Zionist influence within national institutions) is that they are "obsessed" with Jews. But that is nothing to the obsession with Jews that Jews sometimes demonstrate, as in the success that they have achieved in erecting this blanket condemnation as a supreme conception of racism and bigotry, completely different from other lesser forms of racism and bigotry, which often aren't even worthy of being dignified by a label (e.g. anti-Palestinianism).

      But if it is wrong to "malign, isolate and undermine Israel and Jewish people" surely it would be equally immoral to "malign, isolate and undermine Palestine and Palestinian people" or "Iran and Iranian people" or America and American people".

      How can we resolve the conundrum? One way would be to say that we'll just have to agree to differ since we all have our personal loyalties, and if I malign the Palestinians I'm a passionately proud Zionist, and if you malign Jewish people you are no more than a vicious, dirty anti-Semite. Alternatively we can rebel against these blanket concepts which inevitably require and encourage generalisation and stereotyping. People are both members of collectivities, but also first and foremost individuals, some good, some bad, some stupid, some wise, some ignorant, some informed, some powerful, some weak. I will admire, cherish and support anyone (Jewish, Palestinian, Iranian, American or whatever) who seeks to live in peace and justice, asserting their legitimate rights, and respecting the equivalent rights of others, and malign, and attempt to isolate and undermine those who do not, irrespective of what labels you want to impose.

      "Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California."

      This is just utterly absurd. The biggest threat to the University of California is Anti-Semitism? Rather than other forms of racism, prejudice and bigotry which can be relegated to a vague and imprecise afterthought ("other forms of discrimination")? How exactly is anti-Zionism a form of discrimination? Surely it would be fairer to say that Zionism is a form of discrimination given the ease with which its adherents have just managed to enforce the relegation of misogyny, homophobia, islamophobia and all the other current forms of bigotry into a category of "also-rans"?

      The working group very clearly states that its formation was the result of "concern that there has been an increase in incidents reflecting anti-Semitism", "vandalism targeting the property of Jewish people or Judaism", "political, intellectual and social dialogue that is anti-Semitic" and "assertions of prejudice and intolerance towards Jewish people and culture". Once the working party was in action other concerns were expressed but are somewhat dismissively passed over ("others expressed concerns about defining and focusing on anti-Semitism alone when other forms of bias and prejudice also occur"; "Terrorist attacks by self-identified religious fundamentalists have fuelled islamophobic attacks against peaceful members of our communities"; "the Black Lives Matter movement has brought renewed focus to aspects of racial inequality that persist despite decades of struggle to overcome them".) However the motivating influence exerted by Israel lobby groups, presumably concerned about the growing BDS movement, is acknowledged: "Fundamentally, commenters noted that historic manifestations of anti-Semitism have changed and that expressions of anti-Semitism are more coded and difficult to identify." So its not so much that the university is being swamped by a rising tide of anti-Semitism: rather the gatekeepers are moving the goalposts and raising the bar.

  • 'Her absurd generals, her military junk' -- Daniel Berrigan's prophetic speech on Israel in '73
    • And how much did you earn for this little piece. Hoya saxa? If you are a hard-pressed student, forced into prostitution in order to pay your fees then no one begrudges you a shekel of your remuneration. After all Israel is just like the US, the UK, and many other states where the well-being of ordinary citizens and especially their health and education is sacrificed for tax-breaks for the rich and expensive security / military toys.

      It would appear that this is your first shift on duty, so I can only assume you missed out on the training session. Bloody matzoh is so 17th/18th/19th/20th century. Things have moved on a bit and now you are going to have to defend torture, ethnic cleansing, Apartheid, house demolition, the disproportionate murder of civilians, blatant racism and incitement and a host of other obscenities. Hope you have the stomach for that. Best Wishes and Good Luck with your course.

    • Hophmi - I'm getting sick of you generalising about Arabs and Leftists in this stereotypical fashion. If you want to complain about Rightists maligning Jews, you had better set a bit of a better example. (:-))

    • This hasbara boiler-plate that you are cutting and pasting is so incredibly feeble that you should be utterly embarrassed reciting it.

      "3 Arab countries had attacked Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar"

      (1) "3 Arab countries attacked". Egypt and Syria attacked. Jordan did not intervene until well into the second week of the war (and certainly not "on the holiest day"), and then only as a face-saving measure. As Ha'aretz later reported: "declassified U.S. documents show that the Jordanian participation was only a token to preserve King Hussein's status in the Arab world. The documents reveal that Israel and Jordan had a tacit understanding that the Jordanian units would try to stay out of the fighting and Israel would try to not attack them" See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yom_Kippur_War#Jordanian_participation

      (2) "attacked Israel" - no the attack was not on the State of Israel, but on Syrian and Egyptian territory that Israel had occupied in the 1967 war, and was refusing to hand back.

      (3) "on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar"; a day that well over 99% of the world's population does not observe. That year the holy month of Ramadan coincided with Yom Kippur, but so what? Did the occupation stop on that day or has it stopped in the almost 50 Yom Kippur days since it started? Why should Moslems respect such a holy day when it only brings disruption and closures to their everyday lives? See http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3308989,00.html Does the IDF desist from attacking Palestinians on their holy days? See http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/12/world/middleeast/for-gazans-a-tense-and-somber-ramadan.html?_r=0

      "What saved Israel from being destroyed were ‘her absurd generals, her military junk"

      (4) Nothing saved "Israel from being destroyed" because nothing threatened Israel. Israel had massive support from US politicians like Henry Kissinger, and indeed from the entire political establishment which, for instance, had conspired to cover up an Israeli attack on the USS Liberty six years earlier. The US (and Britain and France) had supplied Israel with leading edge military equipment, especially tanks and aircraft, that ensured that whilst Egyptian forces could break out over the Suez Canal they could only make limited advances beyond that because of the necessity of remaining within a SAM missile shield. Whilst the failures of Israeli military intelligence in anticipating the attack were a deep embarrassment, the basis of the assessment (that Israel need not fear an Arab attack on her soil) were proven correct.

      "Also, where was the denunciation of Turkey who invaded Cyrus? [sic - perhaps you meant Cyprus, or were you off on an anti-Persian rant?]

      (5 )(a) Turkish intervention in Cyprus was to some extent justified. Britain ceded independence to Cyprus on the basis of a Treaty of Guarantee, under which Britain, Turkey and Greece guaranteed the independence of the new state. However following the establishment of a military junta in Athens, demands rose for the union of Greece and Cyprus, and a 1974 coup by the Cyprus National Guard deposed President Makarios and installed Nikos Sampson, an advocate of Enosis or union with Greece, and Greek militias threatened the ethnic cleansing of the north. The Turkish PM sought joint action with Britain to maintain the island's independence, but when this was not forthcoming Turkey took unilateral action to protect the Turkish Cypriot population, (facing ethnic-cleansing and hemmed into enclaves by Greek nationalists) by invading the north, pending peace talks.

      (b) If you have failed to find any denunciation of Turkish action, why not look at the UN General Assembly resolution of 1983 which (after many years of attempted complex negotiations, finally failed) demanded the withdrawal of Turkish occupation forces. Or, following a unilateral Declaration of Independence by the north, a UN SC resolution, later that year, condemning Turkish recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Or consider that to this very day Turkey is the only state that recognises the TRNC, and the widespread economic and political boycott, unparalleled by anything directed at Israel for its long-standing occupation, is forcing Turkish Cypriots to leave for England, the USA, Canada and Australia. See: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/cyprus/1406583/Turkish-Cypriots-leave-island-as-settlers-move-in.html

      Where was the denunciation of Turkish setters [sic: presumably you are not referring to a breed of dogs] in Cyprus?"

      (6) But Northern Cyprus has not declared itself the ancestral homeland of the Turkish people, is not attempting to attract Turks from around the world to return to redeem the land, and is not implanting settlers in Southern Cyprus. It is sometimes quite difficult to distinguish between migrants who come of their own free will to areas offering economic opportunities, and deliberate government encouragement of immigration into an occupied zone in contravention of Geneva IV. It would seem that small-scale encouragement of settlement of mainland Turks definitely occurred after 1974, though with a some justification (movement of Greeks from the north vastly exceeded return of Turks from the south, leaving untended land and an undermanned economy. (see https://www.duo.uio.no/bitstream/handle/10852/43791/The+Northern+Cypriot+Dream+-+Turkish+Immigration+1974-1980.pdf?sequence=2) But the Turkish government seems to have been genuinely supportative of rapprochement between the two communities in Cyprus, has no vested interest in exacerbating the dispute, has no ideological or economic interest in thwarting a resolution, and has recognised the autonomy to the Turkish community in Northern Cyprus to resolve their communal dispute. (see http://in-cyprus.com/a-curb-on-settlers/)

      Pathetic hasbara fail - you have nerely repeated prescribed talking points, without any understanding of history or the underlying issues.

  • Beinart's Jewish double-bind: Support oppression or you're out of the family
    • You are absolutely right, Jon s, that virulent, appalling and terrifying anti-Semitism persists to this very day. For an absolutely horrifying example see the response to an article slightly critical of Trump's wife: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/apr/28/julia-ioffe-journalist-melania-trump-antisemitic-abuse This is old-fashioned right-wing anti-Semitism, based on "old racist ideas about “the Jew” as an evil force, full of blood lust, all-controlling but hidden".

      This is entirely and utterly different from what is visible in the British Labour Party. Let's run through the main incidents:

      (1) In February, the party announced an inquiry into a club at Oxford University, following "a decision by the club to support Israeli Apartheid Week, which seeks to highlight Israel’s “ongoing settler-colonial project and apartheid policies over the Palestinian people”. Some MPs complained and "a co-chairman of the club, Alex Chalmers, resigned earlier this week, claiming a large proportion of members “have some kind of problem with Jews”. He alleged that some members had expressed support for the Islamist group Hamas." Sounds to me very much as is charges of anti-Semitism are being raised simply because some students are backing Palestine. One friend of Israel complained that comparisons between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa were “a grotesque smear and the Labour party should dissociate itself from them”, whilst others protested that Israeli Apartheid Week promotes a “one-sided narrative, seeking to dismantle the only majority-Jewish member-state of the United Nations”. They argued that in "a climate of rising anti-semitism, we have a duty to oppose initiatives that foster an intolerant political culture which intimidates Jewish students". In other words, whilst Israel controlled the narrative and the world acquiesced in the Occupation, Jewish students were happy: now the debate is turning and pro-Palestinian voices have a little more traction, they have suddenly become deeply intimidated. But this is not rising anti-Semitism - this is simply the slight redressing of a balance of power within a battle of ideas. See http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/feb/17/labour-condemns-antisemitism-oxford-university-labour-club-claims

      (2) In March, Labour suspended (for a second time, an activist who tweeted stupid nonsense about Hitler being a "Zionist god" and Jews having "big noses". Infantile, below contempt, play-ground taunts and highly counter-productive (many Jews are traditional Labour supporters) but the Labour Party took very prompt action (her suspension came within hours of a complaint). The very fact that such an incident received press attention suggests that this is either a very isolated incident or if the tip of an iceberg then it is a small one, far smaller than the ice-sheets that regularly characterise Muslims and Arabs as wife-beaters, violent and murderous fanatics, and blacks as idle, drug-addicted, criminal and poor parents. See http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/mar/15/labour-suspends-activist-vicki-kirby-over-antisemitism-claims

      (3) Labour MP, Naz Shah in 2014 posted on Facebook a graphic of Israel’s outline superimposed on a map of the US under the headline “Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict – Relocate Israel into United States”, with the comment: “Problem solved.” The argument was that Palestinians could get on with their lives, Israel was already a 51st state, and America could save on $3 billion a year spent on weapons for Israel. There was no mention of the word Jew, but clearly this represented insensitive use of social media, and any suggestion, if only tongue-in-cheek, that the forced exile of Palestinians from their homeland could be resolved by relocating Israelis outside their home is unprincipled. But bear in mind that the post was made at a time when she was incensed by Israeli intervention in Gaza, before she was appointed as a parliamentary candidate, and that she fulsomely apologised for any offence her tweet had caused. She also lacked the elite upbringing and education many MPs have access to, having been deserted by her father at age 6, when he ran off with the neighbour's 16 year-old daughter, was then sent to Pakistan at age 12 to avoid her mother's abusive partner, whom her mother then killed, resulting in 14 years in gaol. Naz was forced into an arranged marriage whilst in Pakistan. See http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/27/shadow-minister-calls-for-suspension-of-naz-shah-over-israel-posts

      (4) Ken Livingstone (former Labour mayor of London and current member of Labour's Executive Committee) was also suspended after coming to the support of Naz Shah, claiming there was a “well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticises Israel policy as antisemitic”. In the process he made ill-advised comments that Hitler had supported Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews”. This caused uproar from one MP who felt that this was a gross insult to Zionism, though Ken explained he had certainly not saying Hitler was a Zionist but that he favoured the Zionist approach of German Jews migrating to Israel. He could have gone further and said that there were Zionists who initially looked favourably on growing hostility to Jews in Germany and that they were ready to negotiate the Haavara Agreement with Germany which played a major role in building up the yishuv's human and physical capital in Palestine (as well as undermining attempts by non-Zionists to organise an effective boycott against the infant Nazi regime). Was it insulting to the memory of Holocaust victims to say this was the policy of a madman, or would it be better to say it was the policy of a fully sane man? Was Livingstone making political capital out of the Holocaust or was he abusing someone else's copyright? It might have been more diplomatic for Livingstone to avoided all mention of the Holocaust in the context of rising anti-Semitism, but Ken has never done tact and has often relished controversy. A long-time supporter of gay rights, he once delighted in saying the Conservative Party was "riddled" with homosexuality, "like everywhere else". He has never been shy of criticising Israel, calling Ariel Sharon "a war criminal" responsible for the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre and strongly condemning the 2008-9 assault on Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. See http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/28/ken-livingstone-suspended-from-labour-after-hitler-remarks

      To conclude:
      (1) accusations of institutional racism within the Labour Party are absurd. Numerous MPs and bigwigs are Friends of Israel (and sometimes themselves Jewish). The above instances highlight the number of party figures coming forward and demanding strong action against any perceived incidents of anti-Semitism. The Jewish community in the UK is political active, very vigilant and not backward in coming forward when it perceives any slights have been made against it. Traditionally the British left has been heavily influenced by Jewish intellectuals and journalists, and played a major role in resisting both British fascism (Mosleyism in the 1930s and later the National Front and British National Party) and European Fascism in general.
      (2) as a left-leaning, progressive and at times even radical party, Labour has inevitably attracted many members (like Jeremy Corbyn, Gerald Kaufman, George Galloway) who are strongly supportive of Palestinian rights, but the Party also has a very strong and well-funded Friends of Israel group, which paid for 60 MPs to visit Israel between 2001 and 2009.
      (3) the more Israel has lost its battle for legitimacy the more it has fallen back on accusations that opposition to its policies is motivated by anti-Semitism, and this has been exacerbated by its adventures in recent years in Gaza and Lebanon, which inevitably provoke anti-Israel protests which can easily be portrayed as anti-Semitic (under the new definition). Over recent decades the UK's Moslem population has steadily increased and now substantially outnumbers its Jewish population. Moslems are archetypal Labour supporters (in the same way that Jewish immigrants once were), and understandably feel strongly attached to the Palestinian cause. The battle which has persisted between the Labour right (tending to be pro-Israel) and the left (tending to be pro-Palestine) has always been in the background but is being exploited at the current time in order to undermine the recently installed Corbyn leadership. Hence the apparent increase in headline-hitting incidents, which do not in fact represent any upsurge in Jew hatred within the party.

    • yonah: "My theory, Hebrew slave warriors fighting Egyptian wars in the vicinity of Canaan, rebelled and decided not to return with the defeated Egyptian army, instead claiming Canaan for themselves".

      This sort of debauched and licentious use of language leads American school-children (and adults who ought to know far better) to dismiss evolution and human-induced climate change as mere "theories". You do not mean theory - you surely mean: hunch / guess-work / mere supposition / speculation. You don't even offer a suggestion as to where these slaves came from, or when they rebelled and decided not to return.

      Your thinking seems to be that the bible asserts an exodus, but Egyptologists and archaeologists have found not a scrap of evidence to confirm this story so we will reluctantly concede the fictitiousness of Joseph's coat of many colours, Moses' cradle in the rushes, the killing of the first born, the parting of the Red Sea, the cloud that led the way, the manna from heaven, the tablets of stone, and all the rest, as having no foundation in fact. But the bible repeatedly states that we were slaves freed by divine intervention, so we must have been. QED.

      Finkelstein and Silberman (backed by many other studies) assert that the Hebrews emerged out of Canaanite society within the central hill country around 1200 BC, with "no sign of violent invasion or even the infiltration of a clearly defined ethnic group. Instead, it seemed to be a revolution in lifestyle. In the formerly sparsely populated highlands from the Judean hills in the south to the hills of Samaria in the north, far from the Canaanite cities that were in the process of collapse and disintegration, about two-hundred fifty hilltop communities suddenly sprang up. Here were the first Israelites."

      So also no Joshua, no walls of Jericho, no city of David, no David and Goliath and probably no unified kingdom of David. But what remains is so much more precious - the prophetic writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel prescribing the necessity for justice, peace and righteousness. And we all know where they would have stood on the Occupation.

  • Israel closes crossing to Gaza for Passover
    • Slow down a fraction here, Kay. Is there not at least a potential double standard here in both criticising the Jewish (and Jewish influenced) communities of North America, Europe and elsewhere, for backing the Israeli position, and criticising the Moslem communities within the Arab world (and elsewhere) for insufficiently opposing the Israeli position? If the argument for Palestinian independence is that the Palestinians are a distinctive group, with their own land and culture, not deserving of expulsion into the Arab hinterland, then surely there must be some limits to the obligations of Arab nations to back their cause? I would prefer to phrase this in terms of Palestinians having a primary responsibility (as per South Africans, Vietnamese, Sandinistas, Lebanese, etc.) to struggle for their own liberation, an acceptance of the limitations (social, economic, political, military) of their neighbours to assist their cause, and the obligations of all nations (especially those more "advanced" / "democratic" / "committed" to international humanitarian law) to back them in their just cause.

  • Norman Finkelstein on Sanders, the first intifada, BDS, and ten years of unemployment
    • Jack - that is the first time I've heard a Zionist apologist claim that the Jews, who lived for so many years in harmony with their Christian and Moslem neighbours (before the onset of the Zionist malaise) were actually Palestinians. So at last we learn that there is a Palestinian people, even if most of those people were actually the descendants of ancient Hebrews, who later converted to Christianity, and then Islam. So what the hell is this silly "conflict" about then?

    • "this current movement has what goals: punishing wall street? redistributing wealth? overthrowing the oligarchy? these are not achievable goals"

      Eminent common sense, yonah. We should just listen to the legacy of our forefathers' wisdom and understand that trying to change the natural order of things is inevitably fruitless and self-indulgent wishful thinking. Heck if we couldn't undermine the political and social power of the priesthood, contradict the legitimacy of divine right monarchy, destroy the political monopoly of the landed aristocracy. liberate peasants from feudal servitude, free the slaves, give the vote to women, end colonialism in all but one country, develop concepts of the social contract and the welfare state, or provide rational and scientific explanations for life and the universe - then how the hell can we possibly introduce a few elementary disciplines to restrain the exuberance of investment bankers, bring in some basic controls against political corruption, or require the 1% to contribute their fair whack towards social well-being?.

      It might be different of course if the existence of an internet and social media could fuel popular activism or if presidential campaigns could reveal the deep reservoirs of popular hostility to a system that is hopelessly broken. But no - it is inevitable that those same Congress critters will continue to turn up and conspire to steadily reinforce the power and privileges of the elite. We'll all go back to watching day-time TV and tending our roses.

    • Eloquent Jack: that could be the appropriate epitaph for an entire people.

  • Palestinian astrophysicist arrested and jailed for second time in 15 months
    • Freedom365: "but with his foreign policy speech yesterday it seems clear that he no longer is interested in maintaining a just and balanced approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict"

      If that was ever your assessment of that man then I would suggest you stop focusing on individual threads in his discourse, and started to assess the overall message: this is not a man focussed on "just and balanced approach" to anything.

  • As right-wing incitement spreads through Israeli society, Netanyahu looks to extinguish fire he has stoked for years
    • "He paused, then added: I mean, sure, they do randomly execute people. But that doesn’t mean they’re killers, because…ummm…well, they do it in a most moral way."

      There is even stronger evidence, Eljay, without going down that road. (Can you imagine any politician proclaiming we have the least moral army?) There is convincing proof that the IDF is incapable of illegal killing since the Israeli Attorney General and the military prosecutor have never prosecuted a soldier for anything more serious than stealing credit cards or not following precisely the rules of engagement in all the many hundred cases where Palestinian civilians have unfortunately been in the wrong place at the wrong time and have thus ended up dead.

  • Chabon calls occupation 'the most grievous injustice I have ever seen in my life' and says he is 'culpable'
    • Thank you Dan - an excellent, thought-provoking post.

      "a very small, even tiny minority, however one with keenly focussed power in Congress – to continue its enslavement of black people unabated while simultaneously declaiming to the world that it was a virtuous moral agent trapped not by its own immoralities but rather by the unjust vagaries of history."

      Most apposite to the institution of slavery, but change "enslavement" to "systematic oppression" and you have eloquently encapsulated both the modus operandi of American Zionism and the essence of hasbara.

      Can I suggest some additional discussion points:
      * The small slave-owning class had powerful support from free labour (wanting slaves to remain on the plantations), and the New York merchant class and Washington political class who either directly benefitted from the system or who did not want to rock the boat. Is this true and is it paralleled by the present-day role of Christian Zionism, the MIC and the political elites?
      * To what extent did the Republican Party seek the gradual abolition of slavery by economic pressures, and is this paralleled by the modern day phenomenon of BDS?
      * Define the roles played in abolition, and suggest modern day equivalents within anti-Zionism, of Tom Paine, William Wilberforce, Harriet Tubman, John Brown, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
      * Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery and now has a senator leading the way in asserting justice for Palestine. Is this true and if so, what social and economic factors account for the parallel?
      * Compare and contrast the role played by pamphlets, newspapers, novels and other popular media in building support for the abolition of slavery, with the current situation vis a vis Israel's oppression of Palestinians.

      The more you think about parallels and similarities, the more Hophmi's assertion of "another inflammatory comparison" seems like desperate "whistling in the dark".

  • When 'Broad City' Went On Birthright, and taught us all a lesson about American Jews and Israel
    • Hophmi - "Better I should say that the piece ignores the positive experiences"

      All I know is that a lot of Zionists brought up to believe this is home seem to react pretty badly when they see the reality on the ground, and it seems as if Birthright plays a major part in Jews rejecting their supposed heritage. Perhaps a racist, colonialist, militaristic, intolerant society isn't the best nursery for complicated nuance.

  • Clinton will hold fundraiser in Tel Aviv
    • Hophmi: "Israel is not a “religious state,”" and "Netanyahu, who is not religious". Just be very careful there, mate, because your bread is buttered by a bunch of Christian fundamentalists in the USA who think that Israel is populated by a bunch of Judeo-Christian fundamentalists who might just be amenable to a bit of marginal conversion on the eve of the Apocalypse. You start telling them that they are a bunch of atheists, and they will give up on the whole endeavour, and tell them to go to hell, and where will Israel be then?

  • The end of apartheid in Israel will not destroy the country, it can only improve it
    • You make some very relevant points. The new state will need a name. Retaining Israel would imply continued Jewish dominance. I argued Palestine is historically meaningful and the obvious single word name but might be a bitter pill for Zionists who have spent a century arguing there is no such thing as a Palestinian. Some newly coined hybrid such as Palezion or Israstine would be an abomination. The Levant would be neutral and meaningful but is unfortunately already sullied by ISIL. Do we go for something verbose but neutral, such as the United Republic of Palestinians and Jews, or would it take as long as redesigning a New Zealand flag to decide whether that form were used or the alternative, the United Republic of Jews and Palestinians. The Holy Land would not be in the spirit of modern secularism, but would unite Christians, Jews and Moslems. As Nada Elia argues invention and creativity are clearly required.

      Rather than just talking about the death of the two state solution, and the inevitability of one state, now is clearly the time for Israeli and Palestinian activists to come together and to draw up a blueprint, or at least a set of options, as to what the future looks like, in terms of a Constitution, a government structure, a definition of citizenship, and the rules applying to refugees and future immigration, restitution for the loss of land, and the myriad of other issues. Some concrete proposal would allow people to start to visualise the shape of the future, and its costs and benefits.

    • Stephen - Surely a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Did you not argue a few days ago that "Anyway, how far back do we have to go before we get to roots? And why be true to them? Trees have roots but we are not trees". You also make the very valid point that continuing to call the land Israel would automatically imply the continuation of an unwarranted Jewish privilege within a land that has hosted many cultures.

      The term, Israel, has very briefly been applicable, for a short period in ancient history (if we are to believe ancient theological writings, largely uncorroborated by archaeology), and then again for ideological reasons to provide a certain credibility to a coloniser / conquest culture that briefly emerged in the twentieth century, and persisted into the early 21st century. Returning to ancient roots we might just as well re-christen the land Canaan or the kingdom of the Franks. But Palestine surely has for centuries been the most appropriate description of the land. In the 12th century BCE the Egyptians referred to it as Peleset; in the 9th century BCE the Assyrians referred to it as Palashtu or Pilistu; in the 5th century BCE Herodotus referred to it as Palaistine, as also did the later writings of Aristotle, Pliny, Plutarch, Josephus, Ovid and numerous other classical writers. The term abounds also in the Masoretic version of the Hebrew Bible, the Torah and the books of Judges and Samuel.

      Even more relevantly (especially if you do not like roots) the Jewish claim to settle in the land derives from the Balfour Declaration (which referred specifically to "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people") and from the British Mandate for Palestine, and the 1947 UN proposal for the partition of Palestine, which preceded the 1948 conquest and ethnic cleansing.

      Thus justice and elementary reparations to the Palestinian people for the hardships they have endured surely requires that a future single state, should it ever emerge, recognise the name of Palestine, and if current Israelis don't like this let them return to Brooklyn or London or Paris or Berlin, or Capetown, or Kiev or any one of the countries of Europe, America, Africa, Asia or Australasia from which they or their families have mostly, relatively recently, migrated.

  • Obama's November surprise
    • yonah - that retraction makes barely more sense. Why would a US president need cover to address a major world problem, which has sorely troubled the UN as well, and has contributed to much conflict? Why was J-Street not formed years ago when Bush 1 and Clinton 1 put just as much (and more) feint pressure on Israel as Obama did? Why would American Jews create organisations purely in response to what an American president might or might not do, rather than from a sincere understanding that the trajectory of Israel, and American policy towards it, is going in entirely the wrong direction? Why denigrate J-Street when it is far from perfect but at least better than the traditional establishment-dominated Jewish organisations which have served most American Jews, and Israel, so badly by providing cover for that state to move ever closer to national suicide?

    • oldgeezer: "I prefer capitalism until someone perfects socialism"

      Surely all the evidence lies the other way; capitalism has always been pretty imperfect and in its unperfected phase remains pretty imperfect, (apart from the awarding of huge bonuses to investment bankers, the proliferation of tax cuts for the 1%, the corruption of democracy by patronage, and so on and so forth). I can speak only from a British socialist perspective, but all the evidence suggests that every advance in recent human history (esp. the extension of the suffrage beyond the elite, workers' rights, shortening the hours of labour; minimum wage; pensions, healthcare, extension of education, improvement in housing through public provision, but also many social freedoms including abolition of the death penalty, decriminalisation of homosexuality, penal reform, improvements in rights for minorities and women, and so on and so forth, have been inspired by socialists and their fellow-travellers in the radical / liberal community. As my gran used to say "the only thing the capitalist class ever did for us was to donate aprons to the servants at Christmas". It is possible for people to be PEP, but also for them to be progressive only on Palestine. The injustices faced by Palestinians are not unique and are similarly faced by workers and ordinary people throughout the world; capitalism ain't going to solve any of them.

    • "I have to mention that Obama’s nomination of yet another jew to the Supreme Court makes me uneasy."

      I know exactly what you mean. As a Jew, even one so modest as to shun capitalisation, its nice when Jews exercise great influence in American public life, but it will pose all sorts of issues if that becomes too obvious and visible. It is so much better when influence is wielded obliquely, untransparently, and at arms length by innocent lobby groups, campaign finance, editorial and journalistic effort, and numerous think tanks rather than directly in the service of the republic.

      On the other hand, could it not just be that Garland's qualifications, experience, integrity, reputation, popularity and moderate, generally progressive stance are more important than his religious and cultural background?

      I'm not advocating quotas, and on past performance Jewish judges seem preferable to Catholic ones, but would it not be nice if for once America's atheists could have a solitary representative on this bench?

    • yonah - "J street was created to give Obama cover if it ever came to pressuring Israel to make a peace"

      I'm not generally a great fan of conspiracy theories, but perhaps this one has legs. Obama announced his candidacy for President in February 2007, and despite the fact that not a single primary had yet taken place, and despite the fact that Obama appeared likely to focus on health care reform, energy independence, the Iraq War and the looming financial and economic crisis, an astute but small and secretive group of American Jews, realising that his victory was inevitable, and that also he would inevitably risk his presidential reputation by interfering in Israel, began preparing for that very day, and in November 2007, almost a full year before his election, they incorporated J-Street. I learn something new every day at Mw.

  • 'Forward' columnist and Emily's List leader relate 'gigantic,' 'shocking' role of Jewish Democratic donors
    • Sorry yonah - I should probably have called the Rabin Square mob - your fellow-travellers not "your friends". In my defence I can only say that I had just read your statement defining anti-Semitism that said "But it is also the hatred for judaism, the hatred for jews unless they are willing to disown their traditions and their fellow jews."

    • Yonah - my comment did not seek to insult you and if you took it as such then I unreservedly apologise. "Indefatigability" was perhaps an over-statement (Your archive reveals a mere 37 references to anti-Semitism, many of which attempt to conflate unjustified criticism of Israel with old-fashioned racism). I had seen Eva's question and your reasonable response to it, but I was merely suggesting that those who advocate for the pervasiveness of this old-fashioned racism within those who criticise Israel are not well-served by those who demonstrate the extreme racism within Israeli society. Nor were the recent events in Rabin Square merely a manifestation of an intense (and possibly understandable) dislike of Palestinians by a fringe group within Israeli society. The event was addressed by members of the Knesset, inciting the rally. The rally was intensely hostile to Israel's indigenous human rights organisation (like bt'selem) who attempt to portray the humane and rational face of Israeli society, and to independent journalists, the so-called extreme 'leftists' of Israeli society like David Sheen). The role of the police was criticised by Dan Cohen, for merely seeking to minimise the injuries at the hands of the marauding mob, rather than to uphold civil rights. And let's not forget that the rally was called to celebrate and protect from justice a medic who had just killed a man in cold blood.

      To be fair to you, your response to Eva, did not even mention the anti-Zionism v. anti-Semitism question in the way that some of your previous posts have. The nearest you came to it was suggesting there is some hostility to Jewish solidarity whilst acknowledging that your fellow Jews do not necessarily deserve support if they are in the wrong, and a statement that everyone should acknowledge Jewish concerns for survival and security. Perfectly reasonable, as long as you will accept three further points: (1) the continued colonisation of Judea and Samaria, the blockade of Gaza, and the maintenance of the status quo with regard to a settlement of the dispute does not necessarily enhance survival and security within the 67 borders; (2) survival and security of Jews in Israel is legitimate provided it is not at the expense of the survival and security of non-Jews; (3) survival and security of Jews is worthy provided it is not achieved in the context of a retreat into mental and social ghettos which could be seen to inevitably undermine principles of respect for human rights and international law, and here it is appropriate to mention the over-reliance of the Israeli state on the export of security equipment and systems (e.g. racial-profiling at airports and the increasing militarisation of civil police forces) which endanger the liberties of citizens in the western world.

    • yonah - I appreciate your indefatigability in continuing to portray the whole world as anti-Semitic AND unjustifiably anti-Israel, but I do feel sorry that your friends in Rabin Square are somewhat undermining your sterling efforts.

  • Ringleader in Abu Khdeir murder case convicted in Jerusalem court
    • yonah - "Imagination might lead to the idea of a general or chief of staff rebelling against a prime minister unwilling to comply with a diktat of the US or UN, but it’s farfetched."

      Agree entirely. Remember Israel is unlike others in being "an army with a state" not "a state with an army". With few exceptions (Eshkol you mention, and Sharrett) Israeli leaders have often been military men, or men like Netanyahu, totally in awe of elder brothers who were military men. Dayan in '67 is regarded as having unified the military against civilian voices in a virtual coup, but also the army is professional enough to know that it needs a civilian front, that its voice already dominates that civilian front, and that the top brass contains enough diversity of approach that overt intervention in politics is unnecessary and could be self-destructive.

      I cannot however agree with your other point that "The lack of a constitution is tragic and another indication of Ben Gurion’s style of personal power and extemporaneousness" Ben Gurion fully understood that the Declaration of Independence was nothing more than window dressing and that any definition of a Constitution would entail grappling with huge issues of the divide between the secular and the religious - therefore let sleeping dogs lie, in an eternal "status quo". The leadership was overwhelmingly secular and despised religious Judaism, but the very survival of secular state power required a deeply religious camouflage which would enable both the Jewish diaspora and Judeophile Christian Zionism to provide support and funding for the enterprise. Better to leave the relationship between the two as ill-defined as possible.

  • Anti-BDS legislation faces crucial hearing tomorrow in California Judiciary Committee
    • Also, I guess, so much cheaper than a bottle of Apartheid era South African, or Pinochet-era Chilean, or a really good Claret from Vichy France. Cheaper, but scarcely less reprehensible.

  • Sanders's leftwing base made him take on Netanyahu
    • WOW - and this from Israel's closest ally! Why doesn't Israel explain its policies better? What is the point of spending all that money in attempting to crush the BDS movement if even institutions of the American state believe that Israel is stealing, thieving, torturing, murdering, discriminating against its own citizens, and suppressing democratic debate?

  • 'NY Times' publishes op-ed writer's blatant falsehood about Palestinians without blinking an eye
    • When I initially read your post, I accepted that, yes, these are idiotic lies that make engagement or dialogue impossible, and then I pondered for a moment and concluded that both these claims are wrong, and I must explain why, even if that will take an unforgivably long post.

      These are not idiotic lies (if they were, they would be easily and permanently refutable) but they are in fact very potent and therefore dangerous. The task of unravelling them is seemingly impossible: like a Russian doll you unpack one only to be faced by another and another and yet another. But there is no infinite Russian doll - eventually you will reach the core.

      Nor is the author simply duplicitous and manipulative: I'm sure in his heart of hearts he believes his own argument in a way that transcends rational argument. He will have visualised people like himself as the eternal victim of hatred (both religious and racial), and will in turn have incited hatred, by backing an enterprise that systematically conquered another land, acre by acre, stockade by stockade, all the while driving out the peasants who understandably feel aggrieved. Like an Old Testament prophet he will have heard voices in his head, not the voices of an imaginary God, but of imaginary Arabs and Moslems shouting "Drive the Jews into the Sea", and "Wipe out the Zionist entity" (*) He will be aware that umpteen members of the UN have consistently criticized Israel's crimes, and he will have drawn the obvious conclusion (for him): "They hate Us."

      Here I must just digress. I have recently been watching wonderful extracts of Reza Aslan, explaining the thinking behind his book 'Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth' and attempting to combat, on right wing talk-shows, some of the slanders directed against Islam. (His lengthy interview with Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks was inspiring). He explains that there is a modern secular historical approach that examines the facts and draws conclusions from these and there is a biblical (or perhaps wider prophetic or theological) approach, which knows its conclusions, and simply presents stories (metaphors; allegories) to demonstrate the eternal truth of these conclusions. We should view Zionism in exactly this way (it may not be a religion, but it is a theology which transcends rational explanation). Some of its beliefs are even exactly on a par with biblical myths (e.g. the blooming of the desert is an attempt to recreate an idyllic Garden of Eden; the most moral army in the world hunting down terrorists in Gaza has parallels with the warrior King David rampaging through Gaza collecting foreskins; the evil Arab leaders ordering the Palestinians to leave their homes in order that the modern Israelites might be destroyed are the descendants of similar mythical leaders who refused to allow the ancient Israelites to escape slavery in order that they might achieve independent peoplehood.)

      So should we conclude that these ideas are simply too potent and widespread and debating with them is simply too frustrating and unproductive? No: they must be refuted, for the benefit of wider humanity, just as our ancestors dispelled the notions of a flat earth, the burning of witches, the divine ordination of slavery, the inherent inferiority of non-Caucasians, the necessity for children to clean chimneys, and for women to be denied the vote.

      Even more intractable battles are in fact being won. Possibly even more powerful lobbies have nixed the idea of human induced climate change, but relentless activism and research by principled scientists and even a few politicians (e.g. Gore), backed by the weight of numbers of ordinary people, who value the viability and quality of life of themselves and their children over the dividend cheques accruing to the 1%, are winning that battle. For decades, fundamentalists and powerful voices within conservatism have preached biblical inerrancy, creative design and the denigration of the scientific, rational method, with contingent beliefs of homophobia and misogyny, and hostility to reproductive freedom, but again principled campaigners (e.g. Richard Dawkins) are revealing such ideas for the absurdity they are and their proponents for the laughing stocks that they are.

      Zionism of course has powerful lobbies and think-tanks, and exploits a host of venial politicians and compliant academics and media institutions, but it is also ranged against a host of principled, energetic and articulate opponents, in academia, in the media and across the internet (including on sites like this). Ignore the op-eds in the NYT, if you must, but see that change is in the air, via their readers comments. I am sure that when the tipping point is reached, like the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, the Iron Wall of Zionism will crumble rapidly. The slur that anti-Zionism is anti-semiticism is collapsing, the state of occupation is rapidly being recognised as an Apartheid state, sanctions are becoming ever more acceptable, and most of all politicians are beginning to speak up, not as loudly or as prolifically as one would wish, but that will come when the audience is ready to applaud such remarks.

      So to end this little homily - do not dismiss these statements as idiotic lies when they are part of a carefully-crafted propaganda effort, and do not despair of counter-acting them, because peace and justice, the very survival of international law and the preservation of ordinary freedoms against the incursions of the military-industrial-security state depend upon them being counteracted and contradicted.

      (*) The deliberate misconstruing of the Iranian injunction is well-known, but I was struck by how difficult it was for even a pro-Zionist site to justify the former statement (see http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/02/20/did-arab-states-really-promise-to-push-jews-into-the-sea-yes/#)

  • Segregation of Palestinians and Jews in maternity wards becomes an issue in Israel
    • Silamcuz: "A private individual has the absolute right to choose a service catering to him or herself"

      I think you might be confused between absolute rights and free choice within a market economy. For instance:
      (1) a consumer might have a "right" to choose which hotel or restaurant to use, and the freedom to make that choice on the basis of the ethnicity of the clientele, the proprietor or the staff employed there; but that is not an absolute right, and if the service provider were to employ only staff of a given ethnicity or to discriminate against customers of other ethnicities or to display signs dictating "No blacks, no Jews, no Irish" then the courts and the authorities might very well intervene, perhaps effectively circumscribing that "absolute right".

      (2) a very wealthy father might have the ability and the opportunity to send a child to a very expensive private school, which can afford the very best of facilities, and attract the best teachers (educated at public expense), and thus confer an advantage to that child particularly in access to the best universities thereafter. The public authorities might respond on the basis that such privilege operates against the public interest and social mobility and undermines provision of public services for the rest of the population. They might therefore attempt to circumscribe that "absolute right" by a variety of measures such as restricting tax allowances for such expenditure or encouraging or even enforcing a relaxation of entry requirements for less-privileged applicants to elite universities.

      (3) a parent might argue they have an "absolute right" to send a child to the school of their choice, perhaps a private religious school that for ideological reasons refuses to teach science (especially the theory of evolution), mathematics, computing and the humanities, and devotes an inordinate and excessive amount of time to teaching ancient religious texts. The public authorities might undermine that choice by a process of registering schools as approved educational institutions, school inspections, and the imposition of a national curriculum.

      These are not absolute rights but areas that state authorities will generally be reticent about interfering in, seeking to maximise consumer freedoms, subject to public interest considerations.

    • Phil - you have a clear ideological agenda here (:-))

      Your opening sentence clearly refers to the segregation of Jewish and Palestinian mothers, whilst all the sources you quote refer merely to Jewish and Arab mothers. Do you not understand that there is no such person as a Palestinian; there are merely Arab interlopers who have no right to be there and should have returned to Arabia, as assuredly as all Jews should return to Israel?

  • Video: Israelis feel the love for Donald Trump
    • Not clear exactly what your saying, Jack, because you never make your message explicit, but I took from this that you thought Israel-supporters were uninformed idiots and non-indigenous peoples (i.e. foreigners). Perhaps you would value a genuinely authentic Palestinian voice on the debate.

  • Sanders slams Clinton for ignoring Palestinian needs and thinking Netanyahu is 'right all the time'
    • Donald - if you go to any country less insular and less controlled than the good ole US of A, you will find mainstream politicians far less reticent and inhibited in condemning the egregious crimes that the Zionist entity repeatedly commits. For instance Gerald Kaufman in Manchester, England. He is a real democratic socialist Jew who has no problems proclaiming Israel to be a pariah state ruled by war-criminals, wantonly killing civilians (including British activists), infested with Orthodox bigots, and indiscriminately slaughtering innocents and lying about their deaths. Bernie may be refreshing in an American context, but he has a long way to catch up with the rest of the world. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Kaufman#Criticism_of_Israel

    • What are you saying, Hophmi? Bernie's "not a foreign policy guy, and he’s not going to risk his other programs to bother with" Israel. Are you saying that America has far bigger fish to fry, that Israel really isn't important, that non-Israeli Americans are interested in entirely different matters, that voting for politicians who take Zionist dollars doesn't really rock America's boat, and that no-one with any integrity would sell their constituents down the river just to support a foreign state guilty of multiple war-crimes? Please give us a clear answer, rather than simply your usual innuendo.

    • Thanks Jd65. Of course "the lies, distortions and manipulations" can be enormously frustrating, but thankfully it is not the task of ordinary citizens to expose these: we do of course have a free and independent press, immensely well-resourced, equipped with expert investigative journalists and supported by public-spirited editors and proprietors, whose major role is to shine a light on the venality, corruption and dishonesty of our politicians and other elite leaders, and who protect the public interest and enable our democracy to function so effectively!

      And frustrating as the mis-coverage of Israel / Palestine may be, it is merely of a piece with a whole host of other issues (Global warming, destruction of the environment, reproductive rights, corporate power, taxation, the provision of public services, racial equality, penal policy, gun-control, etc., etc) where extremists and ignorant fundamentalists and the rich and powerful control public policy, undermine and denigrate alternative voices, and shit on the average citizen. No reason at all to become frustrated or cynical or to retreat into our private lives and enjoy the opiates of religion, sport, consumerism, celebrity culture and all the rest.

    • Clinton: "They do not seek this kind of attacks. The[y] do not invite rockets raining down on their towns and villages." They have never made provocative attacks upon their neighbours. They have always been scrupulous in observing ceasefires. They have never attempted to undermine the elected government of Gaza. They have never taken pot-shots across the borders at fishermen, farmers and kids playing football, let alone against demonstrators.

      Clinton: "They do not believe that there should be a constant incitement by Hamas, aided and abetted by Iran against Israel." And let's be utterly clear on this matter: no one has ever exacerbated the problem by inciting against Hamas and Iran.

      Clinton: "And so when it came time after they had taken the incoming rockets, taken the assaults and ambushes on their soldiers, and they called and told me… they were getting ready to have to invade Gaza again because they couldn’t find anyone to talk to to tell them to stop it." Remember the Israeli government has always been desperately keen to engage in a meaningful peace process, ever eager for its politicians to talk directly to Hamas, and has never once sought to undermine unity between Hamas and Fatah. And let me just record my sincere thanks for the consideration extended to me that even in the midst of a sudden existential crisis that had followed months of careful planning and preparation, the Israeli leaders, despite their busy schedules, were so gracious as to tell little me (not consult me, or advise me) but tell me in no uncertain terms of their intentions, so that I could have time to organise the necessary diplomatic cover at the UN.

      Clinton: "…I don’t know how you run a country if you are under constant threat." Especially if you are a perfectly normal country, that has never attempted to dominate your neighbours, nor to occupy them, nor to colonise them. If that were the case, they might have a perfectly legitimate right to resist, but of course it isn't.

      Clinton: "Even the most independent analyst will say that the way that Hamas places its weapons, the way that it often has its fighters in civilian garb, it is terrible…" Remember its not just Fox News; the UN and the world's leading human rights organisations have all exhaustively and meticulously documented the frequency with which Israeli attacks on UN facilities, schools and hospitals have been completely justified by the alleged presence of supposed terrorists somewhere in the rough vicinity.

      Clinton: "Remember Israel left Gaza… they turned the keys over to the Palestinian people. And what happened? Hamas took over." Remember that Israel volunteered to liberate a land occupied primarily by refugees from Israel, not in a shady deal with George Bush that sought to intensify settlement in the West Bank, but in a wonderful honest gesture, handing over full control of land borders, air space, the coast and the off-shore reserves of oil and gas. Israel had a marvellous vision of this land becoming the Singapore of the middle east, replete with seaports and airports, but so very disappointingly, its people preferred to live in a bombed-out prison camp. Remember, with scarcely any popular support, with barely a fig-leaf of a mandate achieved via the ballot-box, in "a fair and free election", Hamas simply took over.

      Many have questioned whether Hilary has the judgement, the necessary profound knowledge of the world, the basic honesty, and the passion even-handedly and pragmatically to address the real issues and to make America and the world a better place. To answer that you only have to listen to her own words.

  • Note to Progressive Jews: The right of return is not the 'i'm-doing-you-a-favor' of return
    • Mooser - I hoped the irony of the statement might become apparent when I dealt in more detail about one of the similarities and made clear that there was no equivalence regarding the two peoples' right of return.

    • It seems blindingly obvious, yet few will acknowledge the reality that we are not dealing with two peoples divided by two narratives, but two peoples united in common experiences from the past, demands of the present and hopes for the future. Two peoples who both crave peace and security. Two peoples who have faced hardship and oppression. Two peoples who have not been best served by their leaders, political and military, or by their media and institutions. Two peoples with a deep and spiritual attachment to a tiny patch of contested ground. Two peoples with very similar religions, who even share the same sacred sites in Jerusalem and Hebron.

      Most especially these are two peoples motivated by a passion for a right of return, from a proclaimed 'exile', either real or imagined. How ironic, how deeply hypocritical it is that the dominant one of these two peoples can assert an absolute right for the return for a miscellaneous bunch of people, some no doubt long-standing members of a faith, but others more recent converts in diverse lands to a supposed "ancestral homeland". This is asserted whilst they simultaneously and categorically deny similar rights to those who dwelt in that land more recently and for much longer, and had real land deeds to real "real estate" rather than simply some supposed title derived from book of ancient fairy stories.

      The apogee of this absurdity is demonstrated in Hebron, where a small community established itself before 1929 / 1936, including an authentic indigenous resident, the 8th generation Hebronite Ya'akov ben Shalom Ezra, but most very recent immigrants (from Lithuania and elsewhere in Northern Europe and the US), many itinerant (esp. yeshiva students), and few owning land, but subsisting on charitable doles in rented accommodation, purpose built by the accommodating locals. Since 1967 a fanatical group, including some original inhabitants but heavily augmented by fundamentalist Brooklynites (e.g. Baruch Goldstein) asserted a right to reclaim their "residence", irrespective of the violent chaos this brought to the local community.

      We hear much hypocritical ranting that acknowledging any right of return for Palestinians driven from their homes in 1948, 1967 and later would "destroy" (i.e. change) Israeli society, but not the slightest recognition that the supposed Jewish right of return has destroyed, and is continuing to destroy Palestinian society.

      One day perhaps the Divine Being will realise that the past prophets did not effectively communicate his message of peace, justice and righteousness, and will send an authentic communicator to reinforce the message. Till then we rely upon those activists of all faiths and none who are attempting to do His work for Him.

  • Democratic debate: Is Netanyahu welcome at White House on Day 1 or an arrogant, deceptive asshole?
    • "Why wouldn’t an arrogant, deceptive asshole be welcome at the White House on Day 1?"

      Perhaps because an "arrogant, deceptive asshole" is so keen (when talking to her local Zionist supporters, who seem to be the only people she chooses to communicate with) has invited him to turn up on day 1 (assuming that she gets elected, which probably is inevitable, but hopefully will never happen).

    • Hophmi - did you even read your original response to Phil that I was taking issue with?

    • Yonah "Survival is the Jewish trait you can’t tolerate. Group survival and group identity."

      Calm down and take your medication. Criticism of Israel is not an attack on Judaism. I would guess that many here agree with me that progressive politics and culture in the modern world have benefitted hugely from the presence and very active participation of numerous Jewish intellectuals, philosophers, journalists, comedians etc. and no one would want that to disappear or end. For heaven's sake even English cricket owes a huge debt to the iconic Freddie Trueman. Perhaps we don't like the indoctrination of young children or undo parental influence as to their choice of spouses but much-valued diversity would be lost if Jews were to be assimilated away. Have less fear of that since out-marriage simply increases the pool of those intimately exposed to Jewish values. Whilst it is a shame to see very young kids exposed to blatant indoctrination into Zionism, the transmission of more pluralist Jewish values seems to be in very safe hands judging from JVP and Sanders young supporters.

    • Hophmi: "“how come polls so consistently say that Sanders would beat Trump” Seriously?"

      Seriously Hophmi are you just trying to embarrass yourself by contradicting everything said here, even by those clearly better informed than you. The latest polling average for a straight Trump-Sanders contest puts Sanders 16.3% ahead. See http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/general_election_trump_vs_sanders-5565.html#!

      Thanks though for your apparent endorsement of two points I was contradicting you upon: (a) the Democratic establishment isn't really that bothered about Sanders approach to Israel(*), and (b) the American people don't really care much (or as you paraphrase it, "prioritise") Israel.

      Some fundraisers may be having kittens, but the Democratic machine knows the Jewish vote is pretty much tied to the party on economic and social issues, and even if a minority of Jewish voters are concerned about support for Israel they will be terrified of the Trump / Cruz alternative.

    • "You can have universalism or you can have tribalism" (often life offers more opportunities than an either/or!)

      I think we all understand the use of the word especially as an antonym to universalism but it does came over as patronising, with overtones of primitive, unsophisticated and superstitious. In the literature I've read, (can't remember who, but contrasting the universalism that widely developed in Diaspora Judaism with the narrowness of Zionism) an appropriate term is particularist. Why don't we use this term occasionally, as an alternative to tribal or its derivatives which is becoming clichéd (51 references in this thread alone)?

      Particularism can apply in several ways that seem appropriate and is far more specific than tribal, and meaningful in many contexts: e.g. morally (the denial that absolute, universal ethical values), culturally (the assertion that common cultural values applicable to all peoples are either undesirable or unattainable) and politically (the proposition that group identity trumps universal rights). In all three of these senses it seems highly apposite to the "philosophy" of Zionism.

    • "What evidence is there that the Democratic Establishment is as worried about Israel as the GOP Establishment is about Trump?" Hophmi, can you ever put an argument forward without misquoting, or without cherry-picking, or perhaps you are not just downright dishonest, but just read and hear what you want to. Phil's specific reference was to Democratic Establishment concern about Israel AND other anti-establishment principles. In truth Israel is the least of the problem; a politician talking about disproportionate killing worries the Israeli establishment far more than it does the Democratic establishment, since the latter must have known that the truth would eventual come out; but a full frontal assault on American political corruption, the power of unelected lobbies, the perversion of the system by Wall Street, the injustice of the tax system, healthcare and education, and the dysfunctionality of American military imperialism - now you are talking real issues undermining elite power.

      "The values espoused by Trump are shared by around 1/3 of the populace. The values espoused by anti-Israel leftists are shared by maybe 1/20 of the populace". The values Trump epouses do seem to resound with the politically illiterate, the uneducated and those who have been abused by Republican machine politicians (but often find flag-waving easier than bothering to vote) and those who have lapped up media scapegoating that all US problems are caused by immigrants, but how come polls so consistently say that Sanders would beat Trump? Could that be because he is not anti-Israel (though he does recognise that many Americans are fed up with being exploited by Israel), very few Americans really care about Israel (compared with far more pressing economic, social, environmental and other problems, and because he is not particularly leftist (he would be close to the political centre in much of Europe).

  • Against Balance: Thoughts on teaching Israel/Palestine
    • jon s: "“Equality” also means that Jews have equal rights, including the right to maintain a nation-state, same as other nations."

      For a history teacher you come up with some strange ideas (in fairness to you that is probably inevitable when you teach not international history, nor European history, nor even national history [Israel has none] but simply the history of the Jews.

      Nation states generally developed in one of three ways:
      (1) the state existed first, and then a national culture emerged later. Classic examples are England, France and Spain, but others are USA, Canada, China, Iran, Belgium, Switzerland though with the later two a full-national identity has still not developed. Even as national cultures developed, regions have retained strong local identities (e.g. Catalans, Bretons, etc.)

      (2) sometimes the development of the state and the nation more closely coincided, as in the late 19th century creation of Italy and Germany, where national consciousness preceded unification, though much still needed to be done to integrate Rhinelanders, Bavarians, Prussians and also Piedmontese, Tuscans, Napolitans, etc. after their states were formed.

      (3) much of the world was dominated by multi-national empires (more correctly multi-ethnic empires) such as the Russian, Ottoman, Austrian, Spanish and British Empires, which broke down into smaller component units, under a number of pressures: (a) as the role of government increased beyond simply conscripting armies and collecting taxes, the imperial bureaucracies were incapable of meeting new needs; (b) the march of education needed to be conducted in the everyday language of the region, which facilitated the development of national press, national history, and national cultures which undermined imperial control; (c) with the advance of the enlightenment into distant corners of the world people questioned the divine-right rule of ancient dynasties and wanted direct control of their affairs in their emerging national sub-units.

      These processes are not mutually exclusive: for instance the collapse of the British Empire in India left multi-ethnic states (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka) which had not yet developed a high level of national consciousness, so that these are to some extent states still nation-building. The situation is even more anarchic elsewhere in Asia and Africa, where the collapse of Western colonial rule has left states based on arbitrary borders and a patchwork of tribes and ethnicities, struggling to build national consciousness.

      If this model works, where does Israel fit in? Basically it doesn't fit at all into the classical nation state model. We have to adopt the colonist state model, (South Africa, Australia, USA, Canada), driven primarily by Christianity (pursuit of religious freedom, utter contempt for primitive and savage indigenous peoples) and Greed (desire for cheap and even slave labour, easy confiscation of resources of land and mineral wealth). In each of these, and we can include Israel, Europeans, who already had states, often nation states, forsook their ancestral homelands for the opportunities and freedoms available outside the zone of heavily populated ancient civilisations.

      But note that Zionism did not adopt the colonist model until it was in the process of becoming discredited and that at the time its state was created the world had already turned its back on ethnic cleansing, the suppression of the rights of others and conquest by war.

      Note too, that Israel like the other colonist states, can evolve into a nation state, but this has required making restitution for the sins of colonisation. In order to emerge as fully fledged nations, the USA had to abolish slavery and grant civil rights to its ex-slaves, South Africa abolished apartheid, and Australia and Canada made some restitution to its aboriginal populations and granted them equality in civil rights.

      The utter absurdity of your claim that Jews too have a right to maintain nation states is that Israel is doing its utmost to avoid becoming a nation state. It does its utmost to negate the concept of Israeli "citizenship", it refuses to be a nation state of all its citizens, and it continues to promote the ethnic colonisation of its dominant "ethnic group", whilst refusing to recognise that this ethnic group is composed of many individual ethnic groups with very different levels of power and influence within society.

    • A wonderful essay, full of precious insights - but the argument possibly needs to be widened out. I was also trained in the discipline of history, and whilst the lessons are invaluable, especially the absolute respect given to texts and other forms of evidence, and their appropriate textual and contextual interpretation, historians often fail to draw meaningful conclusions if they are not also well-versed in related disciplines such as politics, anthropology, archaeology, sociology and economics. Thus history is a pretty complex discipline and its conclusions may be parochial unless also informed by a wider humanism, such as that asserted by Renaissance geniuses such as, for instance, Chomsky.

      Or go with E.M.Forster: "Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die."

      And if you do connect, you may well find that so many issues of the modern world - political corruption, global warming, the power of corporations, neo-conservatism, neo-liberalism, the social control exercised by elites representing far less than 1%, the outrageous influence of media, think-tanks, academia, government and their supporting lobbies, including the patent injustice for many societies, including Palestine but more especially the US and UK and many other societies throughout the world are all inter-related. Go Bernie, go Corbyn, go Chomsky, go the younger generation - your approach and solutions may be far from perfect, but they represent a step in the right direction (or as my grand-daughter would say the One Direction).

  • After wins abroad, BDS conference in West Bank sees local traction
    • You could not stop people buying gold and diamonds either, but the pressure of western citizens made links between Western companies and the South African economy exceedingly uncomfortable and sent a clear message that the South African Apartheid regime eventually listened to.

      You really are whistling in the dark aren't you. Teva produces mainly generic drugs for which there are plenty of alternative suppliers. As for Israel as a major supplier of cell phones, Wikipedia lists 34 countries that manufacture mobile phones - but does not include Israel, so you may need to go and update this page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mobile_phone_makers_by_country Numerous countries produce computer chips and other equipment. Intel for instance has opened some production facilities in Israel but it also operates in 62 other countries and has invested heavily in research in China. Intel employs 60,000 people in Oregon alone compared with a mere 10,000 in Israel; and I wouldn't bank on Intel remaining active in Israel in the long run. It has already faced problems with Orthodox Jews attempting to close down production on Shabbat, sets a high premium to its image as a socially and environmentally responsible producer, has refused to source raw materials from conflict zones and faces challenges because its plant at Kiryat Gat was built on stolen Palestinian land. But please keep decrying BDS but you play a valuable role in increasing awareness of the issue.

  • Israeli journalist Derfner succinctly analyzes the anti-Semitism vs. anti-Zionism debate
    • Hophmi - "“Eighteen words that say it all. " Nonsense."

      Yes - but by my reckoning it was only 16 words - which makes it an even more succinct statement of reality - but please don't believe everything you read on the internet.

  • Israel demands correction from Sanders: it killed only 532 Palestinian children in summer 2014
    • I think you are being over-generous to a very decent guy who may not be as well-informed as he ought to be at an outrageous moment of human history - but does it really matter whether it was ten thousand or two thousand, or even only fifteen hundred - these were too many innocent civilians being murdered by a military machine that brooks no opposition. If we say that 5 million or 6 million or 7 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust that makes the event no less outrageous, as long as we recognise that possibly equal or greater numbers of non-Jews were killed in very similar ways. Every life is to be valued, and every life sacrificed because of an absurd ideological vendetta is still an obscenity. No doubt I have crossed so many red lines, and expressed equivalence between things that are not equivalent, but to me the slaughter of innocents, irrespective of their race, religion, background, or quantity is still reprehensible and unforgivable.

    • Surely there is a very big difference between someone who admits he is not sure of the exact numbers but thinks it's about ... and you can correct me if I'm wrong ... and someone who makes a clear, precise and unqualified statement of numbers? An estimate, even one incorrect by several orders of magnitude is not necessarily deliberately "libellous" (perhaps Akunis meant "slanderous"). His substantive point that the killings were indiscriminate and disproportionate was absolutely spot on.

  • Why Clinton's Iraq decision matters
  • Zionism is not really secular
    • "Thus I reach my conclusion, that Zionism is a kind of religion, masked as mere secular nationalism."

      It would surely make more sense to say: "Zionism was a secular nationalism masked as a kind of religion".

      By your definition German National Socialism was a kind of religion, because it emphasized mystical elements such as soil and blood. Even more appropriately environmentalism would be a religion because it proclaims the sanctity of species and their interconnectedness, and Darwinism would be a religion because it provides a fundamental explanation of the origins and purpose of complex life.

      But surely religion, as it generally understood, requires several elements (1) an explanation of the origins, purpose and nature of life and the universe; (2) a set of ritual practices or devotions; (3) a moral code governing human conduct. This is more than just a strongly held set of beliefs that drive human action.

      The deeply secular concensus amongst the founders of Israel is surely demonstrated by the refusal to allow any reference to God or the Almighty Creator in the Israeli Declaration of Independence (the reference to "Rock of Israel" assuaged the minority who were religious.) The necessity for the religious trappings (e.g. Ben-Gurion's Bible Stunt and the institution of the status quo agreement authorising Sabbath Observance, Kashrut and rabbinical courts controlling family law) was surely two-fold:
      (1) Israel could not be created nor survive without imperial support, so appeals to philo-Semites and Christian Zionists, like Balfour and Peel were essential.
      (2) Israel could not be created nor survive without the camapaigning and constant support of diaspora Jews, who would only do so if a shroud of Jewish religiosity was maintained.

      Ben-Gurion fully understood these matters, though, in the words of Yeshayahu Leibowitz, "he hated Judaism more than any other man he had ever met". Things have changed hugely in the intervening decades, especially with the immigration of "superstitious" Arab Jews, but the original goal of the Ashkenazi founders was to perfect a new breed of men shorn of ancient superstitions, heirs of David, Solomon and Joshua, rather than of Moses.

  • Bernie Sanders' record on Palestine
    • But, Pabelmont, once you realise that all these Issues (i.e. global warming, environmental destruction, American imperialism, and its European and Israeli offshoots, the power of the global corporations, the privatisation of everything from water to colleges to prisons, the influence of corrupt money in politics, a taxation regime that benefits the 0.1% or even less, the control of politics by these folks, etc., etc) are so intimately connected, where can you begin to counteract this vicious virtual (not virtuous) circle? By all means take up arms against the melting of the icecaps (absolutely essential) but there are many other legitimate targets for the anger of ordinary people, that are equally relevant and more immediate in their impacts. Yes global warming is already displaying immediate impacts, and affecting weather and butterfly migration, but the related factors are already destroying the lives and well-being of ordinary people; not their children and grandchildren.

  • Attachment to Israel is 'central part of Jewish identity,' Forward editor says
    • P.S. I whole-heartedly condemn "murder, violence, misogyny, homophobia, and genocide" whether it occurs in Israel or elsewhere in the Middle East.

    • Hophmi - I asked "how often" and you thought you were refuting my argument by offering a single example. Do you deny that more concern is expressed by the US academic authorities, their powerful donors and the interest groups that support Israel for the sensitivities of Zionists than for those of non-Zionists? Do you deny that Zionists often say far more hurtful things (e.g. Palestinians do not exist but those that do are all hateful murderers) than are ever said about Israelis? Do you deny that far more platforms are available on US campuses for Israeli military and diplomatic spokespersons (many implicated in war-crimes) than are extended to spokespersons for the Palestinian cause?

    • Statements such as "A socially responsible community provides a structure within which individual freedoms may flourish without threatening the privileges or freedoms of other individuals or groups" are fine but so full of contradictions if you then draw the corollary that espousing anti-Zionism is illegitimate since it disturbs and alienates those on campus whose sentiments are pro-Israel (even if often only obliquely since their first identity is Jewish and their second or third identity is pro-Israel). As noted here it seems to even more strongly offend and agitate those off-campus who are not directly exposed to the trauma of hearing Israel criticized, but merely have a duty of care as distant guardians of vulnerable adult Americans.

      But how often do we hear what would surely be an equally valid argument that espousing pro-Zionism on campus could be unsettling or irritating to those with Christian or Moslem beliefs, or those with Palestinian or Arab backgrounds, or those of no specific faith who espouse justice and peace in the world?

      There is no conundrum here - we do not have to debate whether to suppress pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist voices on campus. We merely have to focus on the strange wording of the above quoted statement: the "privileges" of students. The only privileges that come with studenthood are the necessity to be exposed to a variety of diverse opinions, to have one's fundamental beliefs challenged, to enjoy the time and a fitting environment for pondering, reading, debating and learning - in short to be educated in both the world, and the ways of the world.

  • Advocate for 'white British people' bridles when Rula Jebreal mentions race
    • I taught briefly in a grammar school in the late 1970s where the students were bright middle class kids who could cope with a traditional establishment history syllabus that focused on kings (the odd queen) and prime ministers, Acts of Parliament obscure European wars and such-like. After two years the school was converted to a comprehensive and came to comprise an inner-city working class intake with a high proportion of kids with Asian and West Indian backgrounds, many barely able to read and write. We completely revamped the syllabus away from political and institutional history to focus on social and world history. One very-well received course (with kids of all backgrounds) was on the transatlantic slave trade, utilising in part the story of Kunta Kinte, from Alex Haley's "Roots".

      Many radical innovations in the curriculum took place at that time, most specifically an abrupt change from presenting a long-term narrative of a society, to something far more episodic and disjointed, where one might switch focus from the Kennedy assassination and the Cuban missile crisis to crime and punishment in the medieval and early modern period. This worked because the focus changed entirely from a fact-based narrative that simply unfolded, to focus on the role of evidence and its evaluation, the importance of interpreting documents and other artefacts from the past, and examining, almost as snap-shots, important turning points in the past, and attempting to understand them from the stance of the participants.

      I later moved on from teaching, so I am not familiar with recent curricular developments, but I will hazard two guesses: (1) the imposition of a national curriculum by politicians and the inevitable march of a regime of constant assessment has not been entirely positive; (2) since history teachers are often radical and always idiosyncratic the subject will still remain of lively interest and relevance.

    • "On the other hand, Murray expressed his deep personal feelings when he was sad about the future in which his people will be a minority in a country they once saw as their own country"

      That is surely to ignore a certain cultural symbiosis: Britain's wealth, and indeed its industrial revolution and urbanisation was based around the slave trade (esp. Bristol and Liverpool) and the triangular trade (imports of raw cotton and rum from the Americas and sales of trinkets to Africa) plus the exploitation of India (the jewel in the crown), Malaysia (rubber and tin), Nigeria (oil and minerals) and many other colonies. As the empire faced modern human rights and legitimacy challenges and in recognition of the contributions made by many (including West Indians and Indians) in two World Wars, Britain converted old-fashioned colonies exploited for raw materials into a Commonwealth of Nations.

      During the eventual post-WWII boom as Britain ran short of workers, we willingly imported labour from the Commonwealth to run our buses and trains, provide our nurses and even doctors, and to staff our factories (prior to the neoliberal decision to decimate industry and convert to banking speculation). All the evidence is that this not only enriched our culture (e.g. food, sport, music) but also led to a higher rate of growth and greater prosperity than would otherwise have been achieved (despite many of the immigrants remaining third-class citizens).

      This was in keeping with the historic pattern, whereby incoming Huguenots, Irish, Jews from Eastern Europe, plus many other groups (eventually) enriched our society, no matter the initial apparent disruption until they were assimilated. Even today when Britain has no obvious labour shortages and a less obvious debt to the colonies, immigration benefits society in many ways that compensate for the apparent social costs - combatting an aging population, providing a flexible, young and generally well-educated work-force, increasing tax revenues because the profile is largely working-age, earning and not costing proportionately as much as the host population for health-care and old-age benefits. There is economic flexibility in that the number of incomers from Poland and elsewhere seems directly proportionate to the health of the general economy. Most economists appear to maintain that economic growth is higher and will remain higher in those countries (e.g. USA, Germany, Britain) with the highest rates of immigration. Also the process permits idiots like Murray to readily pinpoint scape-goats for the failings of our social system and our ruling elite.

  • Iceland proves corruption is far from extinct in the Global North
    • James North: "The [Icelandic] elite nearly destroyed the country in 2008, doing great damage to the world economy at the same time"

      Prima facie, that appears to be an absurd statement: each of 50 US states has an overwhelmingly larger population than the entire population of Iceland; Iceland's GDP was less than 1/1000th of that of the USA; Iceland is a fishing port, with a couple of hotels nearby, and an airport that gets closed down by volcanic eruptions. The problems that appear to have caused the second (third, fourth or fifth - whose counting?) great modern world recession (dodgy mortgages, sub-prime lending, derivatives, CDOs and related financial instruments, obscene bonuses for investment bankers, crazy deregulation) would all appear to have been developed within the USA (with a bit of help from the UK). These derived primarily from the powerhouse ideologies developed under Reagan and Thatcher and subsequently refined by a host of criminals such as Alan Greenspan, Mervyn King, Hank Paulsen, Kathleen Corbet (and the ratings agencies in general), Phil Gramm, Fred Goodwin, Stan O'Neil, Andy Hornby, Bernanke etc. Not too many Icelanders here, and also, surely, the severity of the crisis in Iceland was a reflection of the weakness of its economy in global terms. But go ahead in building the mythology that a banana republic on the Arctic Circle caused the global meltdown and economic ideologues of both democratic and republican parties, (and conservative and labour and liberal, in a British context) had no responsibility for this, nor of course had the fundamental contradictions of capitalism.

    • "I happen to believe that the scandal was revealed b/c of the success of Putin/Assad in Syria"

      I think the documents were originally handed over in 2014, (and the trawl is so vast that it required extensive analysis before publication) so someone was enormously prescient. But just as most people on this site want justice for Palestine, most people outside government, the lobbies and the elites want transparency and fairness, so I don't think we have to assume ulterior motives. Even within the media, where many seek to pervert the truth, there are some remaining beacons of light. My faith as a Guardian reader is partly restored - if only they could rectify the issues I have with them on Sanders / Corbyn and the Middle East.

  • Introducing Mondoweiss In Print: 'The World the Settlers Made'
    • Mooser - do not make light of this: when I commented I was angry, and I still am. Because?
      (1) some idiot could claim that "I like too [sic] keep abreast of the new crop of revisionist propaganda" whilst clearly demonstrating that he had not the first clue what he was talking about [i.e. including Atzmon as a historian, and claiming this was a new crop].
      (2) the same idiot could claim that these were "outcast, oddball and opportunist" without producing an iota of evidence for such an irrelevant ad hominem slur against a man of outstanding scholarly credentials. Anyone who reads Shlaim's "The Iron Wall" will at the very least concede that the work is wonderfully narrated but also deeply scholarly (*) Pappe's areas of interest are more controversial but his writings are based on a deep knowlege of Israeli and other archives, and anyone who has followed his contributions to interviews and debates will at the very least concede that he is honest and principled, even while they might argue he is mistaken in some of his beliefs.
      (3) the same worthless piece of excrement, having gratuitously insulted these two fine and principled man (and also the Blumenthals), finishes his diatribe by denouncing his fellow contributors to this site as "dregs" and "groupies" - and all this just because his personal prejudices and fantasies are out of kilter with modern perception and recent scholarship.
      Typical Zionist - assassinate the messenger, if you find the message offends your own bigotry.

      (*) Philip Ziegler: "Shlaim knows as much as anyone about the relationship between Israel and the Arab world... impressively fair and open-minded... he analyses the past 50 years with lucidity and an admirable sense of proportion".
      (*) Arnold Wesker: "the brilliant young Israeli historian ... who I fear may scuttle some cherished views"
      (*) Professor Richard Ullman (Princeton): "a work of impeccable scholarship... controversial, searchingly objective"

    • You are obviously far better read on revisionist historiography than I am. I have never heard of a historian called Atzmon - perhaps you could cite one of his works, or mention which university post he holds? Avi Shlaim is immensely respected within International Relations, as reflected in his professorship at Oxford, and his membership of the Royal Academy. Pappe is well-respected but a little more controversial because of his political activism, and has thus not been immune from criticism by intellectual heavyweights like Camera.

      P.S. I have heard of an Atzmon who was a saxophonist in a punk band - but surely you are not so ill-informed, ill-read and ignorant as to include him along with the other two?

  • Shocker: 'NYT' forum on anti-Zionism tilts toward equating Zionism with racism
    • Elliott - thanks for the response and I am very happy to accept your points. I will merely point out that they in no way invalidate (1) my original contradiction of your argument that "Jews have always visited Palestine as an act of pilgrimage", nor (2) of my assertion that "for centuries Jews were positively indifferent to Palestine" nor (3) my citing of Sand that in the millennium from 135 to 1099 “we know of no attempts by the followers of rabbinical Judaism to make pilgrimages to the Holy City”

      Your references to Gamliel and Maimonides of course fall outside of this period. Thus I guess you can agree with me that for a very long period Jews did not attempt to visit Palestine, and I can agree with you that on occasion they did. But I guess Hophmi who is sufficiently well-read in history to instantly dismiss Sand as a charlatan can inform us otherwise.

      There were of course Jews who remained in Palestine, prior to the vast majority converting to Christianity and Islam, but I am not aware of any evidence that they continued visiting Jerusalem, though I am sure they must have, though perhaps not for worship. Converted Jews and their descendants would certainly have visited Al-Aqsa in order to pray. Would you consider that under the rubric of Jewish pilgrimage? Some I assume would argue this on the basis that peoplehood or nationhood comprises a genetic component that entitles Jews to reclaim the land of their fathers; others would virulently deny the claim, pointing out that a Jew who converts to an another religion immediately sacrifices his Jewishness, which is purely a religious construct. Where then does this leave those Jews (perhaps a majority) who have abandoned their faith? Not quite in the same position as those nominal "Christians" who view the bible as an interesting collection of stories and who buy Christmas trees and Easter eggs, since that population long ago abandoned the sense of communal solidarity which once created the concept of Christendom.

    • Thanks for your comments, but I'll stand entirely by what I originally said:
      (1) Hophmi - "Sand isn't a historian". He most certainly is (BA in History from Tel Aviv, MA and PhD from Paris, has taught history continuously at Tel Aviv, since 1982, as well as at Berkeley and Paris). He may have originally been a specialist in French history, but that certainly does not disqualify since skills in Modern History are far more transferable than skills between Ancient / Medieval / Modern. His fluency in numerous languages (Yiddish, Hebrew, English, French, German, etc) ideally equip him to study the area he has settled upon.
      (2) Hophmi - "he's a polemicist". That usually means someone you disagree with - fair enough, but I defy you to name me an interesting and influential historian who has not also brought a strong ideological bent or (weltanschauung) to their researches (e.g. Gibbon, Macauley, Trevelyan, Christopher Hill, E.P. Thompson, von Ranke, Zinn, Hobsbaum, Hilberg, etc).
      (3) Sand makes a clear and irrefutable case (in my opinion):
      (a) in the millennium from 135 to 1099 "we know of no attempts by the followers of rabbinical Judaism to make pilgrimages to the Holy City"
      (b) Judaism (cf Christianity, Islam) had no concept of pilgrimage to holy places - the earlier prescribed ritual of visiting the temple on prescribed holy days was made impossible by the destruction of said temple, and later the prohibition from entering the area where it had once stood.
      (c) for long periods during the millennium Sand refers to, Jerusalem was as accessible to Jews as to the many Christians that flocked to the region; internal constraints (Sabbath observance, eating Kosher and forming a minyan) were formidable obstacles.
      (d) Rabbinic Jews later copied (or absorbed) the Christian practice, but "it never reached comparable dimensions" and was not "an institutional practice". (cf honorific titles Jerusalemite and Haji for Karaites and Moslems who completed pilgrimage, Indulgences for Christians). "Few Jewish pilgrims set out to the Holy Land between the 12th and 18th centuries" e.g. Halevi attempted to but died on route; Maimonides visited Acre, and very briefly Jerusalem and Hebron, but preferred to settle in Egypt; Benjamin of Tudela and Pethahiah of Regensburg went, not as pilgrims, but more as travel writers; Rabbi Akiva visited Jerusalem to raise money for his yeshiva in Paris; Nachmanides briefly visited Jerusalem before finding Acre more salubrious and later regretted deserting his family. Sand cites the existence of 30 texts describing Jewish pilgrimages compared with 3500 describing Christian visits during the period approx. 135-1878. There was in fact more encouragement for Jews to visit Palestine since many of the surviving accounts indicate how welcoming of the visitors were the Moslem population and how respectful they were to a people of the book who observed religious practices so similar to theirs - especially compared with European Christian hostility.
      (e) Sand concludes: "Ultimately, Jewish thinking focused much more on prayer and diligent study of Jewish religious law than on pilgrimage to an unknown territory".

    • "Jews have always visited Palestine as an act of pilgrimage"

      Not true - Shlomo Sand (can't remember whether it was in his "The Invention of the Jewish People" or "The Invention of the Land of Israel" but more likely the latter) has an excellent chapter showing that for centuries Jews were positively indifferent to Palestine. It was medieval Christianity that was far more attached to the Holy Land, and generated far, far more pilgrimages.

  • Video: Israel demolishes every home in West Bank Bedouin village
    • Not as well-versed in the geography of US bases as you are Max - but was this not an illegal military outpost, later converted to a den of religious fundamentalists, that was later dismantled by the Israeli government in order to entrench colonialist control of the West Bank? Please explain the complicity of Mondoweiss readers. Thanks.

  • 'Zionism is nationalism, not Judaism,' a former Hebrew school teacher explains
    • If two traumatised populations demonstrate the necessity of two states and one of those populations has constantly demanded their own state, whilst the other has constantly prevaricated and undermined the achievement of two states by continued illegal activity, then could one perhaps not conclude that one of those populations is not half as traumatised as it would like to think? As for BDSers refusing to condemn any violence, and Zionists vigorously condemning all violence and all incitement to violence, no matter from what source, why does one get the impression that big lies don't work?

    • Hophmi - "You also have a population that has been traumatized by 20+ years of extreme violence"

      Two standards here aren't there? One population is sensitive and easily traumatised; another population which has experienced much greater violence over a much longer period is expected to sit back and accept its (collective) punishment, and to slowly have forced into its dull perception that "might is right".

      Or are you slowly coming to an awareness that violence is counter-productive and about to apply to join "Peace Now"?

    • Is it not perfectly legitimate to look at the "over-representation" of men / whites / natives / theists / WASPs / Old Etonians within business / law / journalism / government / the academy, etc., etc. To give some innocent examples:

      (1) Recently there has been much focus in Britain on the dominance of privately educated natives within acting and many other professions; e.g. http://www.bbc.com/news/education-35641061
      (2) No one bats an eyelid when attention is drawn to the shocking lack of diversity (esp. blacks / women) within the board-rooms of top companies; e.g. http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/29/news/economy/mcdonalds-ceo-diversity/
      (3) In an age when atheists form a majority of many European populations, and a significant minority in American society, you can look high and low for any professed non-believer in the US Congress / Supreme Court etc.; e.g. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/19/atheists-in-congress_n_3944108.html
      (4) For the most abused (yet utterly dominant) minority in the Western world, look no further than the alumnae of a small school in Berkshire, called Eton College, which has furnished Britain with 19 Prime Ministers (so far - if Boris ever succeeds David Cameron, or any one of a "preposterous" number of Old Etonians in the Cameron inner policy circle we will soon reach 20) see http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/mar/14/gove-attacks-preposterous-number-old-etonians-cameron-cabinet Old Etonians also dominate the higher reaches of print and television journalism, and many other professions, suffering, as one member of the club admitted, " a stigma that is slightly above 'paedophile' in the media in a gallery of infamy". see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eton_College#Old_Etonians

      It is surely perfectly legitimate to map the contours of power within any society, including the nexus of nepotism (Kennedy, Bush, Clinton, Trump), cronyism, collegiality, influence, status, and privilege. Sometimes, as in the examples I have offered, this merely warps social values and blocks the advancement of those outside of the elite groups. Sometimes it has far more disastrous impacts, and here I would cite the Mearsheimer & Walt analysis of the tightly-knit group of neocon ideologues (some Jewish, some not) who brought us the Iraq War and all the disasters that came in its wake.

      Nor is this approach anti-Jewish: the small minority of establishment Jews who wield disproportionate power are no more typical of their communities than are the majority of Etonians (Eton College is only one of dozens of schools within the area.) Nor is this diatribe driven by any personal animosity on my part: many Old Etonians are highly educated and very talented and worthy people. My complaint is with the system, which permits the very privileged scholars of one small school to furnish the privileged universities of Oxford and Cambridge with more students than the approximately 15% of the UK population who live below the poverty line and are in receipt of free school meals. Non-elite Jews have contributed as much as any community to advocate diversity and break down barriers of privilege within society, but their efforts have been counter-acted by the elite who have (not just in the US but in the UK and elsewhere) made a Mephistophelean contract with privilege and power, in the name of Zionism, in order to shore up Israel's defences.

  • Trump abandons 'neutral' Israel position, Sanders adopts it
    • This is far more than the lesser of two evils: this is bold and incredibly principled. When have you ever heard a serious candidate for the American presidency (well not that serious or he would have bit his tongue) make such a statement? Everyone has been saying he is refreshingly honest on domestic policy: now he is equally refreshing on foreign policy. People are ready to damn him with feint praise. He could have written an article for Mondoweiss pointing out the illegitimacy of settlements, the harshness of the regime, the suffering of Palestinians, including endemic unemployment and water theft, and I would have expected objections from Hophni, but not from other people here. Give some credit where huge credit is deserved.

  • Read the speech Bernie Sanders planned to give to AIPAC
    • The most honest, transparent and realistic assessment I have ever heard from a US politician, but still many here are dissatisfied. Perhaps not perfect but this moves the debate hugely forward, and give credit where credit is due for such an approach.

  • Trump 'has no business being president' because he would be 'neutral' to Israel -- Clinton tells AIPAC
    • So Trump has finally given his definitive statement on Foreign Policy, which he could not give before because he was too busy mugging up on the Iran Deal, which he is now the world number one authority upon, believe him. He has learned a bit about the rudiments of diplomacy and, believe him, he will use the US UN veto 100%, rather than employing a sort of half-hearted, watered down. wishy-washy, equivocating 95% sort of veto. Did anyone count the number of times he reassured the audience that they could "believe me", and would anyone buying a second hand from a dodgy salesman whose patter so frequently resorted to this knock-out punch, or does he himself have massive doubts about his own veracity? Unfortunately the tattered vestiges of any remaining credibility he might have had are now completely shot through, because having laboured to establish that his forte lay in negotiation, and having emphasized that the art of negotiation revolved around not laying all your cards down on the table, he has now laid his entire hand down on the table, face up, and revealed what a pile of shite he had. The world's greatest poker player (believe me) has just chucked in his hand and walked away from the table, having shown he is as big a loser as any of the idiots who declare their devotion to him.

    • "An utterly despicable speech – sycophantic and embarrassing."

      I am not sure I agree entirely. She went to AIPAC, as she had to, and she reproduced a lot of the silly boilerplate that she (and every other leading US politician) repeatedly wheels out, as they have to. Most sycophantic and embarrassing was the lie, referring to Iranian ballistic missiles, that "Those missiles were stamped with words declaring, and I quote, “Israel should be wiped from the pages of history.” "

      However, ignore all this silliness, and look at the general principles outlined in the speech, and imagine Netanyahu, sitting in Jerusalem, and grimacing at many of the things she said:

      * "As we have differences, as any friends do, we will work to resolve them quickly and respectfully. We will also be clear that the United States has an enduring interest in and commitment to a more peaceful, more stable, more secure Middle East. And we will step up our efforts to achieve that outcome."

      * "Indeed, at a time of unprecedented chaos and conflict in the region, America needs an Israel strong enough to deter and defend against its enemies, strong enough to work with us to tackle shared challenges and strong enough to take bold steps in the pursuit of peace."

      * "Now, all of this work defending Israel’s legitimacy, expanding security and economic ties, taking our alliance to the next level depends on electing a president with a deep, personal commitment to Israel’s future as a secure, Democratic Jewish state, and to America’s responsibilities as a global leader."

      *"For the security of Israel and the world, we need America to remain a respected global leader, committed to defending and advancing the international order."

      * "Today Iran’s enriched uranium is all but gone, thousands of centrifuges have stopped spinning, Iran’s potential breakout time has increased and new verification measures are in place to help us deter and detect any cheating. I really believe the United States, Israel and the world are safer as a result."

      * "At the same time, America should always stand with those voices inside Iran calling for more openness. Now look, we know the supreme leader still calls the shots and that the hard-liners are intent on keeping their grip on power. But the Iranian people themselves deserve a better future, and they are trying to make their voices heard. They should know that America is not their enemy, they should know we will support their efforts to bring positive change to Iran."

      * "Will we keep working toward a negotiated peace or lose forever the goal of two states for two peoples? Despite many setbacks, I remain convinced that peace with security is possible and that it is the only way to guarantee Israel’s long-term survival as a strong Jewish and democratic state. It may be difficult to imagine progress in this current climate when many Israelis doubt that a willing and capable partner for peace even exists. But inaction cannot be an option. Israelis deserve a secure homeland for the Jewish people. Palestinians should be able to govern themselves in their own state, in peace and dignity. And only a negotiated two-state agreement can survive those outcomes."

      * "If we look at the broader regional context, converging interests between Israel and key Arab states could make it possible to promote progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Israelis and Palestinians could contribute toward greater cooperation between Israel and Arabs. I know how hard all of this is. I remember what it took just to convene Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas for the three sessions of direct face-to-face talks in 2010 that I presided over. But Israelis and Palestinians cannot give up on the hope of peace. That will only make it harder later."

      * "Everyone has to do their part by avoiding damaging actions, including with respect to settlements. Now, America has an important role to play in supporting peace efforts. And as president, I would continue the pursuit of direct negotiations."

      * "There is one more choice that we face together, and in some ways, it may be the most important of all. Will we, as Americans and as Israelis, stay true to the shared democratic values that have always been at the heart of our relationship? We are both nations built by immigrants and exiles seeking to live and worship in freedom, nations built on principles of equality, tolerance and pluralism."

      * "But we cannot rest on what previous generations have accomplished. Every generation has to renew our values. And, yes, even fight for them. Today, Americans and Israelis face currents of intolerance and extremism that threaten the moral foundations of our societies."

      **** "If you see bigotry, oppose it. If you see violence, condemn it. If you see a bully, stand up to him."

      Far from this being "an utterly despicable speech" I can quite easily imagine Bibi, decoding the code, and writhing in utter discomfort: "That woman has entered the lion's den, said some of the right things about Israeli technology, the threat from Hezbollah and the anti-Semitism inherent in BDS, but she has made far too many references to peace, the viability of a two-state solution, friendship with Iran, Democracy and pluralism. She has emerged having given herself the elbow room to continue Obama's hostile approach. And that horrible dig in her closing remarks ("If you see bigotry, oppose it. If you see violence, condemn it. If you see a bully, stand up to him") - that was not chastisement of the passing phenomenon of Trumpism, that was a dagger driving into the breast of the King of the Jews! Horrible woman."

  • Garland nomination is moment of humble reflection for US Jews
    • Mr Fredman: "I do not know how many minutes of the average day the average (J)ew feels alienated to the point of fear."

      I suspect you could universalise and emphasize this point far more strongly: "I do not know how many minutes of the average day, in countries throughout the world, millions of people of all descriptions, young, old, male, female, unemployed and in work, fit as well as those disabled or sick or troubled, from majority communities and from a host of minorities, feel alienated or threatened or unvalued, and concerned about their well-being and that of their families and neighbours, and sometimes fear for their own safety and survival.

      Why do some contributors, so consistently reduce any topic to "counting Jews". You may not have been the first to raise the subject, but the essential point is that in this day and age Jews are not exceptional, and racism, bigotry, intolerance, not to mention the brutal realities of modern life, create many victims, who have few resources, in the community, the media, academia and government to provide them with the succour and support and protection they need.

  • El Al captain indoctrinates the passengers, but only in Hebrew
    • Yonah - "Why is Mati flying El al? Aren’t there ways to fly to Berlin without supporting an Israeli airline"

      Agreed, but just how far would you take this approach of boycotting those entities whose policies you find disagreeable?

  • Trump's Jewish mirror
    • Given that Trump excels in pandering to the prejudices and the lowest instincts of his audience, I can imagine exactly what he will say at AIPAC.

  • Protesting Trump on Shabbat
    • Dump the Chump: if he is not a fascist (and who can tell since he seems unable to articulate any word longer than six letters) he is a pretty good imposter.

  • 'A nation with a special purpose'-- Rubio gives 2-1/2 minutes to Israel in stump speech
    • Rubio can't even prevail in his own state, and he is hopelessly out of touch: it is not the PA teaching 4 year-olds to kill Jews; as the IDF recently revealed infants in their cradles are being presented with cuddly toys comprising stone-throwing kits.

  • What Bernie Sanders should say at AIPAC (and cause a political revolution)
    • "The state didn’t have to be created by ethnic cleansing.”

      A number of commentators have half conceded this ludicrous statement, by arguing that "it did not have to" but actually "it did utilise ethnic cleansing".

      To set the record straight the Zionist state DID HAVE TO BE CREATED BY ETHNIC CLEANSING and it could not possibly have been created without ethnic cleansing. Ethnic cleansing was not a mishap, an accident, something that just happened in the fog of war; it was part and parcel, the core of the Zionist rationale. A Jewish home within a binational state did not require ethnic cleansing, but that was never the objective, and those few cultural Zionists who advocated for this were quickly overruled.

      Zionism was a project to build a Jewish state, not in an empty land, but in a land brim-full of Palestinian Arabs. Adherents of the Jewish culture and religion were generally unpersuaded of the desirability of this project - a vast majority preferred to soldier on in the diaspora, building alternative projects such as Bundism, or if they were to move from persecution in eastern Europe, to migrate to the New World and the West European democracies, where opportunity and real freedom beckoned, rather than to face the arduous perils of "recolonizing" an ancient land. By the time the tragedy of the holocaust befell Europe's Jews and justified the notion of refuge, too few remained to achieve demographic domination.

      The secular leaders of Zionism exploited religious fantasies for all they were worth; as Ben Gurion wrote in his memoirs: "Without a messianic, emotional, ideological impulse, without the vision of restoration and redemption, there is no earthly reason why even oppressed and underprivileged Jews ... should wander off to Israel of all places". This "vision of restoration and redemption" inevitably contained the contradictions of clearing malarial swamps and making the desert bloom, but also building iron walls and driving out the indigenous people. An excellent commentary on this theme is Nur Masalha's 'Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of "Transfer" in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948" (http://www.amazon.com/Expulsion-Palestinians-Transfer-Political-1882-1948/dp/0887282423)

      Even in the area designated for a Jewish state by the UN in 1947 Jews were barely a majority, and if adequate account were to be made for non-sedentary Bedouins then perhaps they were not even a majority. The Jewish state, with secure boundaries and an effective apparatus to secure privilege for existing and future Jewish citizens required far more demographic preponderance. This could only be achieved with mass expulsions (0.75 million in 1948), addition expulsions of Bedouin from the Negev in the 1950s and from the West Bank in 1967, plus a raft of other measures like denying residency to Arab Jerusalemites, denying family reunification for non-Jews, denying return to non-Jewish refugees, denying political asylum to refugees from Somalia who followed in the footsteps of Moses and Joshua, cajoling the Mizrahi populations of Africa and Asia to forsake their homelands, and inviting dubiously authentic Jews from Ethiopia, Russia and Peru to provide ballast for this highly dubious project. And still ethic supremacy has not been achieved within Eretz Israel, which is why conditions must continually degrade in the prison camp of Gaza and the Bantustans of the West Bank to encourage the voluntary emigration of the owners of the land.

  • NYC Council bill to track campus anti-Semitism is attack on Palestine activism, advocates say
    • "And now, for the radio interview. I was asked by the interviewer how one can deter a suicide terrorist-bomber, the kind that does not fear death. My laconic, prompt answer was the standard one used in the Middle East, that is, that the threat of raping the wife or mother of the terrorist is the only threat that could prevent him from a suicide attack"

      I suspect there is an infinitely simpler way to stop terrorist bombers ( a bit of an anachronism anyway - when was the last one in Israel?) - End the Occupation Now! Might not resolve the problem throughout the Middle East since the colonial legacy, the exploitation of local resources by external powers, the suppression of nationalist movements by encouraging Islamic fundamentalism, the recent invasions of Iraq and elsewhere which have opened a Pandora's Box, and all the other devices used by the West to screw up the region are far more complex, but Israel has the solution to this supposed suicide bombing problem readily accessible.

  • IDF propaganda ignores occupation when explaining Palestinian violence (Updated)
    • This is beyond laughable, infantile, pathetic, ludicrous, ridiculous, absurd, grotesque. Contrary to Spedding's assertion of "a sophisticated propaganda campaign" this hatred of Jews begins at birth when your first fluffy toy contains a rock for the swaddling to hurl from his / her cradle???? They really have lost the plot, haven't they? Talking of which, where's Jackdaw when you want him?

  • Over 300 psychotherapists oppose holding annual research conference in Jerusalem
    • This is far worse than simply holding a conference in a conflict zone - this is holding a conference in an illegally occupied city and attempting to give an imprimatur of legitimacy to an illegal occupation and a stamp of normality to an illegal occupation regime.

  • Palestinian citizens of Israel respond to poll showing Jewish support for expelling Arabs from country
    • Of course a question can be anti-Semitic (I would prefer to use a more universal term like racist). A question is not just an empty form of words; like an answer, it can contain inferences, innuendoes and suggestions. The only difference is an interrogative at the beginning and a "?" at the end.

    • So Pew has had the tremendous courage to ask both Israeli and American Jews (with deeply shocking results) about the religion of their spouses and close friends, but imagine the vitriol that would (quite rightly) be poured out if Pew were to ask a question similar to that it asked the overwhelmingly Jewish population of Israel about the acceptability of expelling non-Jews: viz: "% of American non-Jews who strongly agree / agree or strongly disagree/ disagree that Jews should be expelled or transferred from America". How can it possibly be acceptable that such a deeply racist and utterly offensive question can even be posited in one but not the other of two societies between which there is reputedly no daylight. ( I now understand that term: as was said of Michael Howard "there is something of the night about" them).

      Were such a question ever to be asked of Americans it would of course instantly be condemned as blatantly anti-Semitic. Can someone tell me the appropriate descriptor when an equivalent question is asked (and agreed to by a majority of Israeli Jews)? This is just utterly surreal, and surely American and Israeli and internationals of the Jewish, Christian, Moslem and most of all Atheist persuasion must be up in arms that a supposedly reputable polling company can ask such questions or far worse feel it is appropriate to ask such questions or far worse receive the response they did. I often feel that some comments made here (e.g. Eljay's constant references to supremacism) are overblown, but this would seem to definitively confirm that accusation.

  • Most Jews want to expel Palestinians -- Pew's ugly portrait of Israel
    • Talknic - what a typically heartless response: they may be Israelis, but were they to return to Israel they would face housing shortages, high cost of housing, underinvestment in infrastructure, inferior social and educational facilities, higher taxation and a host of other penalties. In addition, were Israel to become just a normal society the generous funding currently provided to illegal settlements by American philanthropists would surely be diminished, if not turned off. Have a heart, man!

    • We are of course all familiar with the "fact" that Palestinians teach their children to hate Jews (see for instance http://chersonandmolschky.com/2013/05/04/palestinians-teach-their-children-to-hate-jews/).

      However, the poll reveals that Palestinian Israelis (especially Moslems) seem to be slightly more tolerant of Jews than Jews are of them (only 3% of Israeli Jews [perhaps don't knows?] would not disapprove of their children marrying Moslems, whilst the equivalent figure for Palestinian Moslem Israelis not disapproving of their children marrying Jews is 18%).

      When are we going to get an honest recognition of the fact that Israelis teach their children to hate Moslems (and indeed all non-Jews)?

  • Israeli 'left' comes up with plan to segregate and disenfranchise 200,000 'enemy' Palestinians
    • "This election Americans need to take advantage of the opportunity open to them to send a message to Israel….NO MORE. Any Zionist affilliate candidate needs to be dropped like a lead balloon."

      And who would you recommend Americans to vote for? Seems they don't get a choice of candidates on foreign policy, just like they don't really get a choice on social and economic policy. Bernie sounds Ok on the latter, but the establishment will surely destroy his candidacy long before November, and the American people will be left with their usual "Heads - you win: tails - we lose" choice.

  • Uproar in Gaza as Abbas rejects new electricity lines to address power crisis
    • Interesting thought that the PA is more the enemy than Israel of the Palestinian people in Gaza. No progress can be expected in the region until the PA is restructured / replaced.

      An interesting article on this topic is http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/11/gaza-electricity-gas-supply-qatar-israel.html#

      "The Qatari project may be perceived as a glimmer of hope for the Palestinians, but the successful implementation of a solution to the problem is not that straightforward. The Israelis want to end the accusation of besieging Gaza, and it seems that they are interested in selling Palestinians the gas needed for the power plant. This could imply an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip, which means that Hamas’ calls for Israel to lift the siege were met.

      The implementation of the project, under direct Qatari supervision, may raise fears within the Palestinian Authority that the Gaza Strip remains out of its control. This is especially true in light of the strategic alliance between Doha and Hamas, with Hamas seemingly welcoming the Qatari project without any reservations."

  • New Birthright trip for Jewish law enforcement seeks to counter BDS movement
    • If there is any merit in them visiting their ancestral homelands then why are they not going to Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Iraq, Iran or anyone of dozens of countries that their families will have lived in within the last couple of centuries?

  • Don't condemn Palestinians for resisting the occupation of their land, condemn the occupation itself
    • You perhaps read a different article from the one I read - which argued that the White House spokesperson should even-handedly condemn all acts of violence resulting from the illegal Israeli occupation. Do you have a problem with that?

      You don't help yourself in contributing to a site which attracts many very well-informed people by blatant exaggeration. Far from two bombings a week blowing apart women and kids over a twelve year period, which would be some twelve hundred successful bombings (if my maths is correct) Wikipedia can cite only 171 successful bombings over the 26 year period from 1989 to 2015, with only the four year period 2001-2004, producing annual successful attacks in double figures. The peak year was 2002, with 47 bombings - less than one a week, and all other years saw far less than one a month. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Palestinian_suicide_attacks) A significant number of these bombings targeted the illegal occupation, as for instance the Netzarim Junction bombing at a military check-point in the Gaza Strip, killing three soldiers and wounding six soldiers.

      My guess would be that a vast majority of readers of this site would condemn suicide bombings, whilst also being aware of the following points: (1) the bombings were often a reaction to acts of Israeli terror (e.g. the 1994 Afula Bus bombing was a response to the slaughter of 29 worshippers, and the injuring of a further 125 by settler Baruch Goldstein at the Ibrahimi Mosque); (2) many of the perpetrators had seen close family members killed by the occupation forces; (3) the peak period of suicide bombings was during the Al Aqsa Intifada, when Palestinian frustration at the failure of peace negotiations led to a wave of protests that was brutally met with attacks by Israeli gunships and orders from the government to break the bones of the protesters.

      If you deplore violence directed at civilians then I am sure you will join the MW readership in condemning settler "price-tag" violence and applaud the growing influence of the entirely non-violent BDS movement.

  • 'In every important way Israel has failed'-- leading American Zionist says No mas
    • Boomer - you have not cited examples of Israeli success but rather examples of the success of a portion of the Jewish (and non-Jewish, Christian Zionist) community in the USA - people who by definition provide distant sympathetic support to a project they do not wish to physically join (and in the case of Christian evangelicals, cannot join because of having the wrong DNA). Even the land expropriation "successes" of Israeli settlers are impossible without the funding and political influence of distant sympathisers. Your argument undermines the case some have attempted to make for the success of Israel as a refuge for a persecuted people, which relies for its very survival on the support of people who have absolutely no need for a refuge and no intention (whatever Adelson says about regretting not serving in the IDF) of experiencing the hardships of being 21st century colonial expropriators and human rights violators.

  • Law firm pulls $250,000 gift to Harvard over Palestine event (demonstrating Zionism's pervasiveness)
    • Fulbright - "naval blockade (which is an act of war)"

      Good to see, in the midst of your absurd diatribe, a condemnation of the Israeli strangle-lock of Gaza, even if it does somewhat contradict your denial of Zionism's belligerent intransigence.

    • MH - "Genesis 20 has the Philistines in Palestine before Abraham."

      Don't go there - because by doing so you will only encourage others to use the same erroneous and unhistorical source to demonstrate that snakes do talk, that Jericho had walls that miraculously fell down, that an ancient people escaped slavery in Egypt and that God makes eternal promises about real estate to mythical patriarchs.

      The earlier books of the bible (in the sense of being nearer to the title page, not in the sense of being written chronologically much earlier than the later books) are replete with falsehood, anachronism, and the superstitions and tribal myths of the time. The human authors, writing many, many centuries after the supposed life of Abraham simply assumed that features they were familiar with (such as Philistines, domesticated camels and a thriving spice trade) would also have been present in the early Bronze Age land that they were embroidering stories about.

      Regarding your substantive point that the Ancients knew the land as Palestine you are absolutely correct.

  • Cartoon: Netanyahu plans fortress Israel to protect against 'wild beasts'
  • In yet another effort to revive dream of Jewish sovereignty, 'NYT' cites Thai restaurants in Tel Aviv
    • Thanks for pointing that out Mooser - you have heartened me. Soviet regimes, owing allegiance to Moscow, were installed in Eastern Europe in an occupation following war, and maintained partly by ideology, but more significantly by force of arms, until everything collapsed five decades later. A Zionist regime, owing allegiance to Tel Aviv and Washington, was installed in Golan, Gaza and the West Bank, in an occupation following war, and maintained by force of arms, but also partly by the ideology of imported settlers, until......

      Please advise me of your favoured ideology which has not attracted losers and failures: I've been hunting for one all my life, (though I would certainly fail to qualify for membership).

    • Hophmi:
      (1) "anti- isn’t a movement" - no of course not, but most minority ideologies, which of course Zionism most definitely is, have more opponents than supporters.
      (2) "I can find no coherent set of ideas that characterizes anti-Zionism" - if you seek coherence I really don't think Zionism is a good place to go.
      (3) "Anti-Zionism isn’t a Jewish movement" - no of course not, but even movements where Jews have had a significant impact. like socialism and the campaign for Human Rights, have been largely non-Jewish, because Judaism, however influential, represents a very, very small minority of the world's population.
      (4) Anti-Zionism "arose in the aftermath of World War II" - probably most of the events occurring in the last 75 years occurred post World-War Two, but not as you seem to be implying as a result of that event.
      (5) "placing faith in European Christians" - if I were you I would not place your faith in any religious group, because most of them are dishonest, hypocritical, manipulative and disingenuous - you are far better off relying on atheists, though you may find us intolerant of irrationality and bigotry. Secular and non-theocratic states are the way to go, and I utterly fail to understand why Israel so readily embraces the anti-semitic idiots of fundamentalist Christian Zionism.

    • Phil - I think you are being unnecessarily harsh on Communism - if it had been practiced in other places than Russia, China and Cuba, it might have been an entirely different species. Nevertheless, I concede that had Zionism been practised in Argentina, Canada or France it could have been an entirely different species, and undoubtedly the world would have been a happier planet.

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