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Total number of comments: 97 (since 2009-08-05 19:36:57)


I write for the London Review of Books, Le Monde diplomatique, The American Conservative magazine, The National Interest, TomDispatch and Al Jazeera. My book, The Passion of Bradley Manning: The Story behind the Wikileaks Whistleblower is published by Verso.

Showing comments 97 - 1

  • Rubio's defeat means the downfall of neoconservatives
  • Only way to save Israel is for US to get out of peace process -- Friedman of Peace Now
    • That's nice that Lara Friedman said this, but APN still supports the massive military aid package to Israel. It's quite true that Washington has zero credibility as a broker of peace, but without cutting off the military aid and the blank-check diplomatic cover, the U.S. is still providing more incentives for the Israeli state to continue ethnic cleansing and occupation than for any workable peace deal. I don't see how APN gets away with the P in its name if the group is for for ongoing military subsidies to a country engaged in ethnic cleansing–that's supporting a war process, not a peace process.

  • 'New York Review of Books' offers Israel as a model to US on targeted killings and detention for terrorists
    • Terrific post! Cole's an example of a great and subtle legal mind who gets so wrapped up in the law that he misses the bigger and more important picture. Courts, courts, courts, as if that's the problem with US statecraft–not enough lawyers! Looking to Israel as a natsec role model is depressingly common in the U.S. legal academy, as if Israel's ongoing ethnic cleansing and periodic assaults on Gaza weren't making it an international pariah–but hey, all of these strategically and morally disastrous actions are being made within a thick layer of legal process, so they must be OK, such is the hopelessly nomophilic (law-loving, and it might be my coinage) bias of our law professors, even the progs.

  • Maher lumps Islam with ISIS, and CNN's Cuomo says Aslan's 'primitive' tone proves Maher's point
  • The rabbi at the shitshow
  • The Brits are way hipper about Palestine than Yanks
    • Yes, that response to Eno by Peter Schwartz was quite unreadable–thank you for confirming my sanity, one of the reasons I turn to Mondoweiss.

  • '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:

  • 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--,_accusing_wikileaks_of_murder

  • 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
  • '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:

  • 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.

      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!:

    • 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: 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.

  • Ron Paul's foreign policy should be embraced
    • Thank you David Samel for your well-calibrated post, I couldn't agree with you more. Boy do I grow weary of professional intellectuals who are so eagerly tarring and smearing any left-lib-rad-prog who acknowledges that Ron Paul and his followers are making a positive contribution to the national discourse on foreign policy, criminal justice and civil liberties.

      Those of us who are left-lib-rad-pwog would really do well to learn how to work with Ron Paul people towards common goals rather than posture and preen and point fingers at Glenn Greenwald screeching like pod people at the end of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers (70s remake).

      Coalition politics means working with people who are DIFFERENT from you, hold some DIFFERENT political views, and it entails getting out of one's comfort zone a bit, keeping silent at times, getting outside one's insular subculture. Dems like Frank, Kucinich & Grayson have had the maturity to team up with Paul to cosponsor legislation; we need to work together like this outside of Congress too, we'll find we can get a lot accomplished and we're not going to wake up with rightwing cooties or Ayn Rand tattoos. Let's find a way to work together towards important common goals.

  • The trespassing Jew
  • Linda Gradstein: 'I'm not an Israeli citizen, but that being said, I'm part of Israel.'
    • Good rhetorical point, the comparison w/ Russia. We've mostly accepted as normal that US journalists who report on Middle East either served in IDF (Jeffrey Goldberg, Robert Kaplan) or have kids who served in it (Gradstein, the NYTimes guy). If all these people had this intimacy with say Azerbaijan or Slovakia there would be much to-do about it; the weirdness of it would not go unnoticed.

    • Thank you Pat Carmeli for this terrific piece of reportage and media analysis. I don't know how I can still be shocked by the pervasive media bias against Palestinians, and against our own strategic interests, but hey, here I am, shocked again!

  • When the late great creator of 'the Joker' took on the dastardly Elliott Abrams
  • Berkeley Jewish Student Union labels J Street chapter 'anti-Israel'
    • The ballistic reaction speaks well of JStreetU, and this Tikvah gang sound horrible. But let's not forget for even a second that J Street proper supports an unconditional $3bn in military aid from the US to Israel. J Street says they are against settlements, but they are unwilling to push the US government to take any meaningful action that would discourage settlement-building; indeed they oppose the only US measures, like cutting off military aid, that might make Israel halt its ethnic cleansing on the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This makes J Street only a more mealy-mouthed wing of the Israel lobby rather than advocates for real justice, prudence or sanity. Honestly, if you truly oppose the settlements how can you support giving Israel more US foreign aid than all of sub-Saharan Africa?

  • Roger Cohen says our foreign policy has been 'Likudized'
    • A few thoughts.

      First, the use of covert ops in US statecraft is not as new as all that. The 1953 putsch against Mossadegh in Iran was covert CIA as was the overthrow of Arbenz the next year. Plenty of US covert support for authoritarian client states throughout Latin America during the Cold War, support that did not exclude the extrajudicial killing of Americans. (A Chilean judge has just indicted a former US military attaché in the murder of two American Allende sympathizers in 1973.)

      Cohen describes this as "Likudization" because his is innocent of much knowledge of US history; also because for him Israel is a primary, if not the primary, point of reference for all things counter-terrorism and national security. And this he shares with the main stream of American intellectuals. Since 9/11, and probably before it too, the experience of Israel has been taken as the ultimate role model for how to deal with terrorists, an example always seen as a tactical success rather than a strategic failure. By contrast the national experiences of Italy, Colombia and the United Kingdom in dealing with terrorism have barely been examined in the US. These models and experiences are, unlike that of Israel, far outside the frame of reference of American intellectuals and policy makers. Of course the circumstances of these countries in dealing with say the Red Brigades or the FARC are very different from our own, but then Israel's particular situation is not any more relevant to the threat that we face in the US.

      Cohen, good NYTimes liberal that he is, does a little more handwringing than is usual about "Likudization", but ultimately he signs on; for him the only alternative is Bush-Cheney's insane attempt at remaking the Middle East via invasion, pacification, and nation building.

      Of course there is a third alternative, and that is ending US support to both Israel and Egypt's military; using diplomacy to cease tensions with Iran--and recognize that their getting nukes sooner or later is not the threat it is hyped up to be. This point of view is pretty marginal, found only among radical left, black nationalists, libertarians, and paleoconservatives like Ron Paul--political tribes that have a hard time getting along with each other, let alone cooperating, though there has been some progress. Let there be more.

  • The Occupy movement seeks to change U.S. foreign policy--will Palestine be included?
    • Well it will be a pretty pathetic OWS if they end up primly tiptoeing around one of the main forces of US foreign policy. Look, the special relationship with Israel is not something deep in the fine print of American statecraft that spiteful hippies are peevishly (or worse) singling out, it is a key part of our flailing, destructive, costly foreign policy. And it is impossible to have an honest, unequivocal conversation about the Iraq War, about the saber-rattling with Iran, about our $60bn-over-30-years-support of the Mubarak dictatorship and ongoing support for SCAF without talking about our country's bizarre propensity to bankroll a certain wealthy country's religiously-based ethnic cleansing of its neighbors (and Jim Crow system at home).
      As everyone's belts tighten here at home, more and more people are going to start getting wise to what an unjustifiable expenditure of American money and power this client-state subsidy is. Enough. And good on you Occupiers who are not backing down from making this an issue.

      By the way, why on earth should the head of RWDSU care about criticism of Israel (if this is indeed the case)? How does this remotely affect the members of his union?

  • Bernard-Henri Levy insists settlements are not 'colonies' but minute 'implantations'
  • Critics of Palestine solidarity within Occupy Wall Street rely on distortion
    • G'day Mayhem: one thing you may not know, but should, is that US aid to Israel is not some minor policy deep in the fine print of our foreign relations but a major engine of American statecraft. Israel has received more US foreign aid in the past thirty years than all of sub-Saharan Africa combined--it is the top recipient of US aid--which is bizarre to say the least. To criticize this lavish US subsidy for Israel is not to "single out" this client state out of spite, eccentricity of racism but rather to engage in the essential, unavoidable task of recalibrating a foreign policy that has so catastrophically failed both Americans and the people of the Middle East who are not Israeli. The question of the "special relationship" between the US and Israel is not marginal to us here, it is essential; it is not "unsavory" as you put it but wonderfully salubrious and rather urgent. And it's terrific that the Occupy movement is not afraid to take up this issue.

    • Oh dear! So some Tablet editor thinks Palestinian solidarity will "drown out" OWS's "compelling economic message"? Thanks for the concern, troll.

      Is it callous to point out that if every Tablet subscriber who has participated in OWS opted to stay home and play Angry Birds instead, there would be no discernible difference whatsoever in downtown Manhattan? Who do these people think they're kidding?

      America's expensive, destructive and thoroughly counterproductive Middle East policy is painfully related to our current crisis, and America's lavish strategic support for Israel and the Egyptian military absolutely needs to be discussed at Zuccotti Park and at Occupy sites everywhere. No amount of whiny special pleading by the Israel Lobby's liberal-ish fringe will change that. And if you think my sentiment is not "inclusive" enough, how "inclusive" is it for the US to subsidize ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and Jerusalem?

      Thanks to all the BDS activists out there making the connection between US foreign policy and the domestic economic crisis. You people are heroes.

  • US protesters stand in solidarity with Palestinian Freedom Riders
    • Great video & great song! Mother Maybelle Carter is smiling in her heavenly home, plinking along on her autoharp.

  • Welcome to Mondoweiss's first staffers: Allison Deger and Alex Kane
  • Four Freedom Riders, then and now
    • Terrific piece. It deserves to have appeared as a feature in the NY Times Magazine or some such with a mass audience, but at least we have this great forum. Many thanks, Ch

  • Arab Spring? What Arab Spring?: US policy in the Middle East shows no change since the fall of Mubarak
    • Thank you for the reminder. Nothing makes me grind my molars more than when Americans Who Should Know Better pretend that the US is somehow a neutral bystander in Egypt when we have been intervening heavily, so heavily, by arming, training and bankrolling Mubarak and now SCAF sans Mubarak, for three decades. The second biggest recipient of US foreign aid. When pressed, supporters of this cruel and foolish policy argue that it's been a really terrific investment in America's security--forgetting that Mohammed Atta (remember him?) and Ayman Zawahiri were/are both Egyptians angered by the US government's heavy hand in their part of the world, and their attacks on the US are purest blowback.

      And yet it's v difficult to get a straight answer from American intellectuals, on the left or right, about why we should be lavishly funding and arming SCAF; this overwhelming geopolitical fact of our alliance structure is either ignored or accepted as a fact of nature, like rain or gravity. (Ditto for our support of Israel too of course.) There is something in our destructive and self-destructive support for SCAF and for Israel that ought to upset American conservatives, liberals, moderates, you name it. And yet MondoWeiss is one of the few forums willing to raise the point. How much longer will this last?

  • Remnick favors containment of Iran, calling war plans 'a heedless attack that risks the whirlwind'
    • I'm sorry but Remnick is still a turd for his stance on the Iraq invasion. If he (and George Packer, and Jeffrey Goldberg) had a scrap of integrity they'd move to Fallujah for, I dunno, just 6 months even, and write about the violence, chaos, destruction, lasting damage to the public health and environment that the war unleashed. Let these smart Ivy League guys write about the hospitals full of babies born with horrendous birth defects thanks to our depleted uranium shell casings poisoning the elements. Let these macho milquetoast laptop bombardiers drink the tapwater every, single, day and tell us how it tastes in Fallujah, in Sadr City, in Kirkuk. The New Yorker deserves to never live down their moral and intellectual failure that did so much to mainstream the '03 Iraq war. At least Remnick unlike so many others seems to have learned a little something, but the guy should've been tossed out on his ass a long time ago and replaced with Amy Davidson or someone else who has less difficulty consistently writing like a human. Again and finally, it's great that Remnick's learned a little, but we have no right to forgive him and his sleazy little buddies for anything.

  • The Ninety-Nine Percent
    • Whoa, great pix, thank you so much. Such an eloquent antidote to the petty stereotypes being snarked out by Fox and various uncomprehending Obamabots.

  • 'That’s what democracy means': Kristof makes the common sense argument for one state
    • Thanks ToivoS for posting this.

    • Weird that Kristof doesn't event float the possibility of Washington cutting off its lavish aid to Israel, which he, like nearly all American intellectuals, seems to take as a fact of nature just like Lake Erie or the Tehachapi Mountains. Why is it so hard for American opinion-makers to denounce the vile absurdity of military, economic and diplomatic aid to a country that is a) carrying out ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, b) is one of the wealthier nations of the world, c) has a qualitative nuclear advantage over its neighbors, not to mention other reasons? Like Donald, I'm tired of grading establishment Americans on a curve here.

      (One rare exception to this weird establishment silence on massive aid to Israel, even in a time of brutal fiscal austerity, is this op-ed by veteran journalist Celestine Bohlen, orginally published in Bloomberg BusinessWeek:

      People may say that ending the Israel subsidy is a political non-starter, but it is not the job of journalists and intellectuals to voice only plans that are immediately feasible--most policy changes require plenty of cultivation and mobilizing buy-in before they become possible. And cutting off aid is not "radical" or "Lindbergian"; what's truly extreme and chauvinistic is our status quo policy. Honestly, if it were proposed that America start pumping Armenia with $3bn a year in aid so they could retake Nagorno-Karabakh, and be our "landlocked aircraft carrier" strategically close to the oilfields of Baku, would anyone take that seriously? Of course not--but the logic undergirding our massive Israel subsidy is not much different. Oh well, even as Kristof lags behind, at least some of the marchers at Occupy Wall Street are calling for cutting the purse strings to Israel, a modest step towards peace in the Middle East. Until then, Washington is contributing not to a peace process but a war process.

  • Sullivan on Obama's 'capitulation' at the UN
    • I'm glad that Sullivan is writing this stuff BUT one thing: the targeting of al Qaeda activists and other militants inside Pakistan via drone strike is fundamentally not a success. Rather it's a brewing disaster, radicalizing more and more of the country against the United States. (Just three years ago it was candidate John McCain who was blasting as reckless Obama's stated plan to expand the war into Pakistan; now this expansion of the conflict is Beltway wisdom, as per Sullivan's post.) We americanos and Pakistan have fundamentally different strategic interests in the region and the failure of our foreign policy elite to recognize this is only going to cause us all more and nastier problems. One example: the failed Times Square bomber from May 2010 was a Pakistani upset about all the US military violence directed against his homeland, with its civilian death toll the US media, US government and Pakistani government all pretend is minimal. (Pakistani journalists who look into this wind up dead.) We have every reason to expect our sloppily "targeted" killings inside Pakistan to kill more civilians there and bring about more terrorist blowback here.

  • Ron Paul for Palestinian statehood: 'I believe in self-determination of peoples'
    • Good for Ron Paul. Left-liberal types (like me) really need to learn to work with libertarians, paleoconservatives, & Ron Paul people on common goals. This is already happening to a degree, check out Scott McConnell's encomium of CodePink in the last issue of The American Conservative. It is essential that Americans fed up with an imperial foreign policy and fed up with our senseless support for Israel learn to make not only moral, humanitarian arguments but also arguments from American self-interest. The two rhetorical lines are not contradictory, they are complementary, convergent even, and I advise my fellow left-liberal types to read Paul's statement in full. (I don't interpret it as callous and egocentric as Dan Crowther does; rather it's a realistic assessment of the limits of American policy, the kind sorely lacking in our foreign policy discourse.) Let's face it, we in the largely leftish antiwar movement have accomplished not a whole lot over the past 10 years, more proof that, like it or not (and I don't) most Americans have no time for people who talk like Lisa Simpson. We will not get rightwing cooties if we learn a little from the Ron Paul crowd and cooperate with them where we can.

      Some strategic cooperation with realists/paleocons/libertarians does not mean we lose the ability to disagree about healthcare, immigration, labor, federally enforceable LGBT rights, all areas where I've shed lots of sweat & tears as a bleeding-heart lawyer. But on civil liberties and foreign policy we had better work together. If not, we're effed.

  • Harvard students: 'The decision to criminalize the Irvine 11 for their courageous action is an attack on all people who seek peace and justice in Israel/Palestine.'
    • Until reading the details of the case, I had assumed that what the Irvine students did at Oren's speech had been genuinely disruptive-- shouting the ambassador down throughout his talk, preventing him from finishing, creating a major ruckus. Silly me. Turns out all of the Irvine 11's statements combine lasted... less than one single minute. This comes nowhere near to infringing on Oren or anyone else's free speech. Deal with it: a free country is no place for public speakers with eggshell psyches, and Oren and his people are the ones using this incident as a way to silence free speech. The prosecution of these students is yet another disgrace to my country, in a week that's been damn full of them.

  • Obama speech was shattering to liberal Zionists
    • Disenchanted American Jews may turn against the AIPAC line, Netanyahu, settlements-- but will they turn against unconditional American aid to Israel? As long as America pledges $3bn/yr in military aid no matter what Israel does in Gaza, Jerusalem, and the West Bank, Israel has no real incentive to change its behavior.

      Condemning the settlements is not enough. That, after all is the J Street line: criticism of the settlements combined with ironclad support for US aid to Israel--an incoherent line that will never produce any change. American Jews and non-Jews perhaps ought to focus on what we are most responsible for: America's very active and destructive role in bankrolling so much ethnic cleansing and bloodshed.

      Why do American intellectuals like to talk about all things in the Israeli-Palestine conflict except for the outsized American role in it? Why is it so hard to get American intellectuals on both left and right to say, unequivocally, that US aid to Israel is wrong?

  • Bill Keller still doesn’t know now what we all knew then…
    • I'm not given to hyperbole but has there ever been a worse thinkpiece than Keller's? I defy anyone to name it. Keller's verbal plotz was rambling, self-serving, morally callous, incoherent, obtuse, oblivious, numbskulled, poorly argued, willfully clueless and above all just so extraordinarily, amazingly dull. How did I finish reading it? How did anyone? No wonder the Times is slowly tanking.

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