Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 168 (since 2009-08-05 19:36:57)

Chespirito

Attorney and author in New York with no ethnic or religious ties to anyone in the Middle East, except one goddaughter in Istanbul. I write for the London Review of Books, Le Monde diplomatique, The American Conservative magazine, The National Interest, TomDispatch and CounterPunch. My new book, The Passion of Bradley Manning: The Story of the Suspect behind the Largest Security Breach in U.S. History, is published by OR Books.

Website: http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/bradley-manning/

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  • 'Let's talk about Zionism,' is message at July 4 parade in Wellfleet, MA
  • Why I pull against the U.S. in the World Cup
  • Apartheid label will stick
  • Snowden revealed a world of conspiracies I once would have scoffed at-- Bryan Burrough
  • Sam Tanenhaus rebrands antiwar as-- 'isolationist'
    • Great post Phil, with a perfect kicker, Annie. After all, what's an isolationist? An isolationist is a anyone who is unenthusiastic about whatever war FOX or MSNBC happens to be serving up that day. The I-word has been a smear term for several generations now, it is historically illiterate nonsense. Thinking that launching Tomahawks at Damascus is a bad idea does not make you Charles Lindbergh. I got this all of my chest a few years ago in an essay for the paleocon American Conservative magazine, in which I draw heavily on the great New Left historian William Appleman Williams:

      link to theamericanconservative.com

  • Bored with the Jews
    • Phil, I hope you don't ditch this issue in favor of global warming and overpopulation. Honestly this site is lonely and essential, it leaves that Beinart thing at Daily Beast in the dust. There are plenty of other neo-post-Malthusians w/ websites but nobody is doing what you are doing so well!

  • Andrea Mitchell says Rand Paul is 'isolationist,' like those who wouldn't take on Hitler
  • Bradley Manning helped start the Arab Spring, but NPR wants to talk about his gender issues
    • Another nadir for NPR. Honestly, Pat Buchanan's magazine is more fair-minded about Bradley Manning, so is Dick Morris's radio show. Steve Fishman's article got a piñata bashing from one of the soldiers, Ethan McCord, who was filmed on the ground in that hideous "Collateral Murder" video, recovering wounded children from the shot-up van. McCord wrote in a letter to New York magazine saying that Fishman's focus on Manning's sexual identity erased his political motives. But who listens to the people on the ground?

  • Heinous charge against Bradley Manning -- he gave 74,000 soldiers' names to Osama bin Laden -- is baseless
    • It's a shame the diplomatic cables got released unredacted, a mistake that should mostly be blamed on David Leigh, the Guardian editor who published the password to their online cubby in his book on Wikileaks. I do blame Wikileaks a little, they haven't been perfect--what institution is? I don't know why Wikileaks is held to a standard of saintliness that no outfit, from Amnesty International to Apple Computers could ever hope to meet.

      Fortunately this error has not resulted in serious harm for anyone: those reporters who followed up with the named State Dept sources around the world (even China) did not find anyone suffering reprisals--the usual reaction was "Wait, why was my conversation with a US govt official classified?"

      American intellectuals tend not to give much thought to the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, wounded or made otherwise miserable in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan thanks to US military force; but when it comes to purely speculative, hypothetical suffering caused by Wikileaks we gush with deep moral concern. It's a bit disgusting. Here's a link to something I wrote for TomDispatch about that whole psychological process, accusing Wikileaks/Manning of murder etc as a kind of scapegoating-- link to tomdispatch.com

  • I thought this was a copperhead snake
  • What you need to know about Bradley Manning
    • Yes, David Samel (it was great to meet you!) is write about those distinctions between the case of Manning and Ellsberg. I wish I had had more time to talk about Manning in light of Ellsberg, I could have easily talked the entire night along these lines.
      The Nixon administration was so ham-fistedly criminal in the way they went after Ellsberg they made a conviction impossible. They even tried bribing the judge in Ellsberg's criminal trial with the directorship of the FBI. The judge, in his vanity, did not recognize the offer as a bribe until several days later. He declared a mistrial with prejudice, meaning that Ellsberg could never be retried.

  • Potemkin Village in NY: Dersh and Beinart hold second debate over whether Zionism is in crisis
  • 'Forward' slams Ehrenreich for questioning Zionism and Palestinian villagers for throwing stones at soldiers
    • Perhaps Ms. Eisner could write a "Chicken Soup for the Palestinian Soul" book to help fortify their "determination, character and [especially] patience."

  • Chris Hayes-- who broke barrier on Palestinian guests-- gets primetime slot at MSNBC
  • Covering Hamas and Palestinian society: A response to Peter Beinart
    • Great response! And not just 'cos you quote me. So much more thoughtful and cogent than what Beinart's concern trolling warranted.

      For me the key part is this:
      "If the U.S. government were funding Hamas we'd feel differently, and if there was a propaganda and lobbying effort in the U.S. to justify and promote oppressive Hamas practices we would cover it. But this isn't the case."

      Indeed not. Beinart, to his credit, does not make any pretense about being even-handed in his intellectual approach or his policy recommendations. He supports a US aid package of $3bn/year to a nation openly committing ethnic cleansing and enforcing Jim Crow-like laws. (How on earth can you call yourself a liberal if you support this kind of aggressive intervention in favor of ethnic cleansing and Jim Crow? Why on earth do many other liberals seem to think Beinart's stance is brave or humane?)

      By contrast, no one at Electronic Intifada or on this site has ever come close to suggesting US military or economic aid for Hamas.

      What makes me grind my molars at night is how American intellectuals write about Israel-Palestine as if Washington played no role in the conflict, as if Washington really was a neutral arbiter, rather than a vested party with its gauntleted fist on the scales for Israel. Washington is actively fueling a war process, not a peace process, and the Beinarts, the J Streets, the APNs are in total denial of this. Their spurious even-handedness is just cover for their support of continuing massive US aid to Israel, a major obstacle to a solution of any kind.

  • NPR blames the victim: Emad Burnat brought suffering to Bil'in by filming occupiers
  • Cruz's McCarthyite accusation: Hagel got money from 'radical and extreme... anti-Israel groups'
    • My paleocon pal and editor Daniel McCarthy had a nice line: "This is what happens when Ted Cruz is allowed to stay up and watch The Manchurian Candidate."

  • Brooklyn College stands behind BDS event as pressure from elected officials comes down hard
    • Great report. So disappointing that Lander has "particular concerns" about a nonviolent movement to change the violent behavior of a US client state, but no such particular concerns about torture. Btw, can you imagine if Dov Hikind were a Muslim who had formerly been the devotee of a violent Muslim extremist? The double standard smells like the Gowanus. I'm sick of this crap.

  • Don't believe the (liberal Zionist) hype: Israel's elections ratified the apartheid status quo
  • Neocons never go away--Marco Rubio hires Jamie Fly, ultra-hawk on Iran
    • One thing to look forward to in 2016 is the Republican puzzlement when Rubio flops. As one paleoconservative friend of mine quipped (and it is a bona fide quip), the inability to say "war with Iran!" in Spanish is really not what ails the GOP. That and the fact that Rubio's vaunted pan-Latino appeal will have no traction to speak of outside his home state. "Latino" itself is a granfalloon, a borderline nonsense category as the different blocs of American hispanics and Spanish-speaking immigrants don't have a whole lot in common. Second or third-generation Mexican-American voters in Colorado are likely to take one look at Rubio then stay away in droves. Rubio will be every bit as successful with Latino voters as Alan Keyes has been with Black voters. ¡Buena suerte, imbéciles!

  • The limits of liberal Zionism: 'NYT' columnist Roger Cohen misrepresents the Nakba and the right of return
    • Great piece. An impeccably progressive law professor once informed me that though the Palestinian Right of Return was all very nice "from the point of view of justice", it just "wasn't feasible." Not feasible for whom? For the hundreds of thousands still stuck in refugee camps? This double standard makes me gnash my molars. American liberals (and for that matter conservatives and everyone else) need to wake up to how amazingly illiberal Liberal Zionism is.

  • For Lena Dunham, Palestine is invisible
  • Maguire: Sanction US for its $8 million a day in military aid to Israel
    • I wish American media and intellectuals had such a clear-eyed a view of what Washington's actual role is in this ongoing process of ethnic cleansing. I am constantly amazed that Peter Beinart, J Street and Americans for "Peace" Now all support unconditional US military aid to Israel. And these people and groups are seen as cutting-edge progressives! At least by some. Cheers to Mairead Maguire, and thanks Phil for posting.

  • Chris Hayes says US indifference to Palestinian nonviolence is fostering terrorism
    • Well alright, serious props to Katrina vanden Heuvel for mentioning the vigorous US role in arming/bankrolling/providing diplomatic cover to Israeli violence. Most US intellectuals strenuously ignore Washington's heavy handed intervention here and make like we're earnest, honest, innocent bystanders who want peace which is of course purest BS. In the US we badly need more discussion of Washington's destructive role in all this instead of the disingenuous silence about it that you get from Pete Beinart, J Street, AIPAC, the State Department, CNN ad nauseam. How about US intellectuals take a little responsibility and at least acknowledge the thuggy role our country is playing.

  • Site News -- Welcome to our new Assistant Editor, Alex Kane
  • New School discussion on American Jewish relationship with Israel
    • Anna Baltzer is the realist here. Most of the debate on Israel/Palestine in the US has been between rival factions of the Israel lobby, and what little debate falls outside this intramural zone has adopted, very uncritically, liberal Zionist parameters. There will never be any progress inside this sclerotic little bandwidth. Only by opening up the debate and LISTENING to and working with Palestinians, Palestinian-Americans, as well as Americans with no ethnic or religious tie to the region will any change be made in US policy.

      And this, US policy, is I think the big issue that even excellent panels like this one lose sight of a little too quickly. Instead of investigating how we can get Washington to change its outsized role in this conflict (lavish, unconditional, one-sided support for Israel), the discussion glides swiftly to questions like one-state versus two-state, Zionism or anti-Zionism. What about taking some responsibility for what our own country is doing? People who want justice for Palestine need to develop a language and rhetorical line on this, a set of arguments that candidly discuss US security and strategic interests, knowing that the Jeffrey Goldbergs of the world will instantly call this argument "Lindberghian". This is of course the crassest hypocrisy; Jeffrey Goldberg and other mainstream pundits have never hesitated to use US national interests to justify all sorts of reckless and violent policies, but the moment this type of argument is used to uncouple the US from Israel, get ready for shouts of "Lindbergh!" and the like. National interest however is a huge weak spot for those who favor the "special relationship" with Israel. Although Americans will never care that much about the ethnic cleansing in Palestine (it gives me no pleasure to write that), Americans might well wake up a little when asked to contemplate that the $5bn that could have closed Wisconsin's budget gap instead got spent on Israel (a wealthy country) and Egypt in order to bankroll humanitarian disaster, ethnic cleansing, an overweening military, and all for a net national security liability to the US. There should be no squeamishness about making arguments from enlightened self-interest; these are complementary, not antagonistic, to the moral and legal arguments.

      Anyway, Norman Finkelstein has done so much terrific work and I admire him tremendously but he comes off as a bit of a scold and a discourse-cop, trying to patrol the borders of what should be acceptable to say and do. That's not going to go anywhere.

  • Gaza-- and the failure of American charity
    • Kate's right. Not only do we bankroll the policies that have destroyed Gaza, we criminalize aid to Gaza. This ACLU report is quite excellent:

      link to aclu.org

      And now OFAC is squeezing the life out of Iran, to the applause of the Democratic Party. (That this is supported by the Republican Party goes without saying.)

  • 'New Yorker' launches Netanyahu caption contest: 'The ridiculous deserves ridicule'
    • Significant that the genteel, liberal-ish New Yorker is at ease now abusing Bibi. About time! Adam thank you for elucidating the Goodfellas quote, the Pesciness of Netanyahu is obvious now that you mention it.

  • Dems buckle, will add language to party platform referring to Jerusalem as Israel's capital
  • A modest lexicographic proposal
    • Thank you James North for initiating this valuable thread. Confucius said the first thing any government should do is "rectify the names." Nowhere is this more badly needed than in Israel/Occupied Palestine.

      The Washington-sponsored "peace process" is more accurately described as a "war process." Given that Washington is giving an unconditional $3bn a year to Israel in armaments and other aid, there is no push towards peace there.

      I would like to see the term "ethnic cleansing" used more freely to describe what Israel is doing in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank, and as a term for what happened in '48. One of the virtues of this term is that it has no legal meaning, and therefore has not been commandeered by Washington's and Israel's lawyers.

      Also, any group or individual that calls for Washington's unconditional aid to Israel really cannot be credibly described as a "peace" group. Americans for Peace Now, J Street, Peter Beinart, all support massive and unconditional US military aid to Israel even as they raise their faint voices for an end to the colonization. I think they are all therefore more accurately labeled pro-war.

      Phew, rectifying the names is hard work. Here's a splendid antipoem by the venerable Nicanor Parra about this important task: link to rincondepoesia.bligoo.com

  • Muni calls Geller's Savage ad 'repulsive', runs its own counter ad
    • Please, pretty please, oh god, please: lots more air time in SF and in fact nationwide for Pam Geller. No one could drive more people into the broad MondoWeiss/Electronic Intifada camp than la Geller, who comes across every bit as irrational, as repellent, as toxically wackadoodle, as her own message of hate, and for that matter as Washington's hateful/sadistic/destructive/self-destructive policy towards Israel and Palestine.

  • Geller's 'savage' bus ad meets strong resistance from the Bay Area
    • Let the noxious ads stay! And pretty please, more air time for the repellent Geller! Rather than ban the Geller ads, let's raise money to put up the ads mentioned by Annie and Alex about the enormous US military aid to Israel, or about Israel's ongoing ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and Jerusalem, then we can sit back and watch diehard Zionist groups wig out about them, without a legal leg to stand on. Our ads are of course much better, they don't spew hatred, and that imbecile Geller couldn't have done a better job of priming the people of San Francisco for a little truth.

  • Savage Geller bus ad hits San Francisco Muni
    • Dear Justicewillprevail, thank you for the question. I would indeed, if living in the South at the height of Jim Crow, have defended the right of the KKK to put up ads about fighting the "savages." Because any law preventing the Klan from doing so would surely have been wielded with ten times the force against the SNCC, NAACP, SCLC and other groups from getting their message out too.

      We need fewer restrictions on political speech today, not more, especially regarding the issue of US policy to Israel and Palestine. What offends my sense of justice is not Pam Geller's legal right to put up her imbecilic ad, but the way the Irvine 11 were convicted of the misdemeanor of "disturbing a meeting". Which is to say we agree on the existence of a noxious double-standard, we just seem to have opposed views on how to undo it.

    • The ad is noxious, but the judge decided correctly and I am glad to live in a country with fewer laws regulating speech, even "hate speech," than Canada or the UK. Supporters of tough "hate speech" laws should know that the full force of such will inevitably be wielded against unpopular causes, like the cause of justice for Palestine and the cause of a saner US policy towards Israel/Palestine. (For instance, I was informally accused of "spreading hate" for hosting Palestinian-American speakers at my law school.) Frankly I wish the ACLU had taken a stronger, unequivocal stance against federal hate crimes legislation in 2009.

      But lavish thanks to Pam Gellar for this ad which, though perfectly evil, does have the redeeming virtue of strategic imbecility. Calling Palestinians "savages" is not going to go down well with a lot of people in San Francisco, and will only draw attention to the many strong arguments against American "support" for Israel. I do hope Gellar will get some air time on local TV to justify her ads? The lady is so obviously unhinged, with so much nasty venom spritzing out of her pores (verily, even through the pancake makeup) that she will make many people rethink their default position of unquestioning support for Israel. Who would want to be on the same side of any issue as Pam Gellar?

  • Can you pass the Hezbollah quiz?
  • Homage to Alex Cockburn
    • Thank you Allison for this eulogy. I just read a wonderful Facebook comment on the post-mortem potshots that David Frum, Harold Myerson and even Geraldo Rivera have been brave enough to take at the great AC: " I like people still being mad at Cockburn better than the pretense that he was a lovable gadfly in the mix." Thank you Allison and MW for your courage and intelligence.

  • Responding to 'the Atlantic' smear on Mondoweiss
  • 'Americans for Peace Now' says Presbyterian measure could stoke 'global anti-Semitism'
    • The use of scare-quotes and sneer-quotes is an unattractive habit yet I do think the practice is justified in labeling APN not a peace groups but a "peace" groups. Given that A"P"N supports unconditional and lavish military aid to Israel (the meat and bone of the Washington's client-state relationship with Israel) it does not surprise me too much that these soi-disant peaceniks are undermining this sensible and rather mild measure by the Presbyterians. The difference between the bottom-lines of A"P"N, J Street, AIPAC and Peter Beinart are not meaningless but they are really not large either. A little perspective please?

  • Let's praise Zengerle's profile of Beinart
    • May I be forgiven in not joining the liberal embrace of Peter Beinart? His record on the Iraq War is just abysmal, as are his first two books. His Crisis of Zionism shows a few signs of intelligent life, but his bottom line on US policy--lavish and unconditional military and economic aid for Israel, with only minor tweaks in the diplomatic support--is not noticeably different from AIPAC's, or for that matter, J Street's.
      In my bougie-liberal Brooklyn neighborhood I often see parents applauding their kids for doing the most basic things--"Oh Spencer you're 15 years old and you already tie your shoes all by yourself!" Not at all different from the reception in some quarters of Beinart's pseudo-achievement with his Crisis.

  • The antiwar thinktank: West Point
    • Gentile has a stellar review essay in The National Interest before last about the revanchist school of US-Vietnam War historians. link to nationalinterest.org

      I do wish more antiwar liberals, radical and libertarians would learn at least a little bit the language of strategy. Strategic thinking is not always a lube for war, it can be the reverse. If we refuse to learn this powerful language we are being not moral but squeamish. Appeals to Americans' self-interest are probably going to be more potent than appeals to international law or humanitarian compassion. I say this not to belittle law and compassion, but these arguments have cut little ice over the past 10 years, or perhaps over the past 5,000 years.

      Btw terrific post Phil, many thanks--

  • Congressman Joe Pitts: 'It is incumbent on Ariel Sharon and Yasir Arafat to restart a peace process'
    • I think you all are being entirely too hard on Rep. Joe Pitts. Yes his advice for the "peace process" is ignorant, moronic even, but no more so than the inane guidance of folks like Peter Beinart, Michael Walzer, J Street and the whole caboodle of liberals who warble about peace while demanding $3bn/year in unconditional military aid for Israel. Against this backdrop of disingenuous lobbying for a never-ending "war process," Pitts' imbecilic counsel is, in its way, refreshing!

  • US military officers taught to target civilians and wage 'total war' on Islam
    • More bad news on the economic front: though high-wage manufacturing jobs continue to bleed away, the new jobs are low-skill, low-wage: security guard, home health attendant, fast food. Economists do report one silver lining, a burgeoning occupational sector that pays very well yet requires no skills, training or knowledge of any kind: counter-terrorism expert/expert on Islam. There is no end to the lucrative gigs that a self-anointed counter-terrorism expert can get training law enforcement, advising government agencies, serving as an expert witness (lol) and now military training as well. Can these fact-free islamophobes be deradicalized? I'm not optimistic. But there is a growing sense of how much toxic b.s. these soi-disant experts are spewing. I just opened the latest Harper's to find a gorgeous centerfold by the great journalist Ken Silverstein, "How to read a terrorism expert's resumé", an efficient dissection of one Matthew Levitt's puffed-up cv. More and more of us are growing weary of the crazies.

  • 'Let go of two-state solution insanity' -- says Illinois congressman who supports transfer
    • Am I wrong in seeing the word Transfer, as used here by Walsh, as a euphemism for Ethnic Cleansing? It might be a good thing to insist on using the term Ethnic Cleansing when we comment on or discuss this proposal, or at least putting the t-word in scare-quotes, "transfer," to indicate that it is a euphemistic falsehood. If there is any meaningful distinction between what Walsh is calling Transfer and what we all called Ethnic Cleansing in other contexts, like the Balkans, I'd be grateful to anyone who could explain it. And yes, I am aware that Ethnic Cleansing has no specific, codified legal meaning, which is not the least of its virtues.

  • Bradley Manning could become the Ellsberg of our age (if the media would just stop marginalizing him)
    • Thank you so much David, that's praise from Caesar as I love your posts & comments. Btw, my handle on this blog does not derive from Che but from this guy!: http://www.chespirito.com

    • Yes, without a doubt: they were certainly trying to break him, both as an object lesson to other would-be whistleblowers, and probably to force him to implicate Assange. And yes, it's high time we recognized long-term solitary as a form of torture.

    • marc b., Manning is from all accounts able to stand trial, and has been from the beginning. The government has gone at length to pathologize this whistleblower as a nutcase; for the first 9 months of Manning's imprisonment at the Quantico brig, he was held in solitary, drugged to the gills, and for some of the time, deprived of his clothing and glasses, all, of course, "for his own good."

      But it turns out that this purely punitive treatment went against the brig psychiatrist's own advice, who in 15 assessments over this period made it clear that Manning was mentally fine, NOT a suicide risk, and not in need of "prevention of harm" watch. A second psychiatrist brought in by Manning's defense attorney also found the young private to be in decent mental health, DESPITE the brig's punitive isolation.

      Whistleblowers are frequently treated like crazy people; the Soviet Union used to lock up political dissidents in "psikuschkas," psychiatric prisons where the inmates were confined and drugged up, all of course "for their own good." Our government's treatment of Manning has not been markedly different. And it also bears comparison to our government's treatment of 70-100,000 other American prisoners in some form of long-term solitary for less exotic crimes.

    • Hi, Chase Madar here.
      There is excellent day-to-day coverage of the Manning pretrial hearings by Kevin Gosztola at his FireDogLake blog, the dissenter: link to dissenter.firedoglake.com which I highly recommend. Though courtroom procedure is not the major injustice in this case there is plenty to be learned from following the hearings and Gosztola brings a wealth of knowledge and a sharp critical perspective. (Kevin's own book on this case, coauthored with Greg Mitchell, is well worth reading.)

  • Jazz reviewer pulls glowing review of my album so as to 'stand with Israel'
  • Beinart gets a Jewish conversation going in the media (just don't call us a cabal)
    • Thank you MHughes976, that is enlightening. I wonder however if Ms. Goldstein is consciously alluding to the Thompson poem or just parroting the verbiage from the Brown decision.

    • It's pathetic, and instructive, to read Dana Goldstein's usage of the historically freighted oxymoron "deliberate speed" in The Nation. (Goldstein writes that she "support[s] the international community moving with deliberate speed to pressure the Netanyahu administration to end the occupation and create a viable Palestinian state.")

      "Deliberate speed" comes from the Brown v. Board of Ed decision 58 years ago. The oxymoronic phrasing was ridiculed by progressives then as a euphemism for foot-dragging stasis. But here we have a nice liberal using it without any irony whatsoever, and her editor at the Nation didn't see a problem with it either. I'm a former Nation intern and feel some attachment to the magazine so I can't help but wonder, what are they doing publishing "deliberate speed"-freaks like Dana Goldstein and, presumably, Ben Adler on this issue? This is the kind of thing conservative American southerners wrote in the 50s and 60s, it is not remotely liberal or progressive. Ps: Who gives a toss about the "anguish" of middle-class American Zionists? I'm sick of hearing about it. Visit Qalandiya, write about the anguish of a few hundred thousand Palestinians living is refugee camps!

  • The evolution of Peter Beinart
    • I haven't had a chance to read Beinart's book, but where does he stand on US aid to Israel–the $3bn a year in military aid, the loan guarantees, the unlimited diplomatic support? Until Beinart starts speaking out against Washington's lavish and unconditional support of Israel, his bottom line is no different from AIPAC's, and his pleas for peace and equality are just empty words. Sorry, but I'm sick of American intellectuals evading all responsibility for our own country's vigorous and destructive role in all this. As Woody says, Beinart's got a mile (or more) to go.

  • Iran furor masks the real story, Israel's self-destruction -- Tirman at Huffpo
    • I highly recommend John Tirman's new book, The Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America's Wars (OUP, 2011). He is a serious writer, historian and moral voice, in a league apart from all the Peter Beinarts.

  • Walt and Mearsheimer don't think Israel will attack Iran, and neither will we
  • Young activist disrupts AIPAC panel about 'Israel on Campus'
  • Ahmed Moor in WaPo: Harvard One State conference 'informed by the uncontroversial view that all people are created equal'
  • Scott Brown tries to score points on Elizabeth Warren by calling on Harvard to cancel One State conference this weekend
    • Too right, Citizen, too right! But worth a shot, and the best play to lead with all the same.

    • Equality under the law regardless of color or creed should be American values, and sometimes we have even practiced them. But very often in our history these have not been our operative values. We are less a "nation of immigrants" than a settler-colonial state, the result of some European tribes conquering territory and subjugating other tribes. Ditto for Israel. The settler-colonial tribalism of Israel speaks on a gut level to a lot of Americans, particularly to white Americans. (This, by the way, is not to disagree in the slightest with Mr McBride above.) I've all but given up on trying to talk values and morality to people like Scott Brown; Republicans and Democrats like that don't really give a toss about "Western democratic values," academic freedom or free speech, with them it's all narrowly self-interested tribalism. The only argument that might even make a dent with these yahoos is the sizable national security liability that our costly special relationship with Israel presents. Fortunately this happens to be an easy argument to make.

  • J Street's call for Iran diplomacy earns ire of Jewish establishment
    • So, J Street is against war--that's good--but is all for sanctions. Though the analogy to Iran is far from perfect, it's worth noting that the sanctions against Iraq in the 90s most likely killed far more people than our 2003 invasion with ensuing carnage.

  • 'A level of racist violence I have never seen': UCLA professor Robin D. G. Kelley on Palestine and the BDS movement
  • Both sides are wrong in the ‘Israel Firsters’ debate
    • Rejecting all arguments rooted in self-interest is both squeamish and unwise. We left-liberal types badly need to learn the rhetoric of enlightened self-interest, especially when it comes to US intervention in the Middle East. Arguments rooted in national self-interest and arguments rooted in human rights are not always mutually exclusive or antithetical; they can be complementary. It's not on every foreign policy issue that national interest and human rights are in more or less perfect alignment, but when it comes to our imprudent and immoral support for Israel and Egypt's authoritarian government, we have no reason NOT to have our cake and eat it too, and to give it to the neocons/neolibs with both barrels. In other words, I disagree with Stern-Weiner and think the term "Israel firster" is sometimes perfectly appropriate.

  • Penn boycott conference is target in viral scare game
  • Opponents of Penn conference say: BDS bad, war good
    • Great post, efficiently giving the skinny on Woolsey. It's worth asking: what exactly does the CIA do that we can't live without? That makes life in the US, and for that matter outside the US, better and less insecure? Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the conservative Democratic senator from New York who served in the Nixon administration, was hot to eliminate the CIA entirely. He saw them as a useless bureaucracy incapable of providing real intelligence and missing the story entirely on the collapse of the Soviet Union, which they had assessed in early '89 as a potent meance. More often than not the CIA justified its existence with overblown threat assessments. Scrapping the CIA is not on the political menu, but it's a proposal worth airing.

  • Abunimah and Woolsey debate BDS in the 'Philadelphia Inquirer'
    • Yeah, where exactly is the complexity?
      What a proper American policy towards Israel and Palestine should and should not be is remarkably simple. There is no good reason for arming and bankrolling Israel, its ethnic cleansing and domestic Jim Crow. Not from the point of view of human rights, not from the view of US national self-interest. It's not always that these two values are in such alignment.
      Props to PennBDS organizers Naqvi, Noteware & Berkman and to Ali Abunimah for getting under the skin of Woolsey and Schanzer. You know you're getting somewhere when they have to wheel out the big guns to shoot you down--even if all that happens is the usual noisy neocon misfire with a concern-troll sonata as finale. Well done.

  • New additions to the Mondoweiss comments policy
    • A lawyer chimes in: Adam is absolutely right that there is no "freedom of speech" issue raised with these new guidelines, none whatsoever.

      All good blogs have a focus and without focus they disintegrate into nattering tedium. I applaud the new rules, they'll make this site even stronger.

  • Following weeks of smears, Zaid Jilani resigns from Center for American Progress to take new job
    • A loss for CAP. CAP has many fine people working for it, especially the younger set, doing good policy research and writing good stuff. Glad to hear that Jilani is heading to a decent job.

      Still, given the lack of backbone shown by the higher-ups at CAP in the face of this smear campaign, I can't help but wonder if CAP really stands for Chickensh*t And Pusillanimous.

      Might be harder to get grant money with that name, but doesn't the shoe fit a little?

  • Palestinian drivers challenge Israeli-only roads in the West Bank
    • That Palestinian woman in shades is so damn cool, love it, love it, love it. What a great photo, the others too but especially that one.

  • Loury says Iran attack talk is 'anti-Islamic hyper-pro-Israeli genuflection'
    • I disagree with Mr Clark; I think Paul's take on the US role in Israel/Palestine is refreshingly straightforward and fair-minded. The problem with American foreign policy is not that we're doing too little in the Middle East, but that we're doing far too much. Simply eliminating US aid to Israel and Egypt would be a giant leap forward, for Americans, Palestinians, Israelis and Egyptians, and it would clear the way for real diplomacy, in which the US could have a limited role, towards a genuine peace settlement. (The current "peace process" is just a war process fueled and lubed by Washington.) The Ron Paul crowd is absolutely right to focus on the US role in Palestine/Israel and to try to rectify that rather than to wax about "social/political/cultural justice in Palestine." After all, what we Americans are most responsible for is our own policy of bankrolling ethnic cleansing and Jim Crow-ish racism. Yet most US intellectuals, even liberals, take our militant support for Israel (and for the Egyptian Scaf) as a fact of nature that cannot be questioned, like gravity. This needs to stop.

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