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Total number of comments: 2035 (since 2009-08-02 18:11:12)


Showing comments 2035 - 2001

  • Beinart's Jewish double-bind: Support oppression or you're out of the family
    • This comment is in part directed to and inspired by Bryan above:

      So if the whole story of the Israelites' illustrious beginnings was a myth, one that was written down - as many historians believe - by the Babylonian exiles, what do these stories say about the morality of those who made them up? I will concede imaginativeness, story-telling talent and the ability to create fables that reflect on the human condition possessed by those early scribes. i will also concede strong devotion to a single god as the paramount value - one that transcends all others. But what do the biblical tales of origin say about the craving for justice? about universal rights?about fighting oppression from within not only without? the message is clearly not coherent - something uplifting here, something depraved there. Kind of like the human condition mixed with strongly tribal themes, coupled with lots of excuses about why good people can do very evil things (god demands it, tribal loyalty uber ales, weakness of heart, the devil made us do it etc. etc.).

      Even the prophets - selective readings aside - were first and foremost about devotion to god first, the tribe next and universal justice somewhere down - way down - the line.

      Indeed it took the advent of Christianity to distill the universal message from the angry old testament and filter out the tribal loyalty part. Which of course is difficult, making christianity at its core - suffer some cognitive dissonance, because well, it's hard to keep the jewish tribe out of the story without compromising much of its essence.

      It took the jews of the US to cleanse the jewish saga of its more oppressive, primitive and reactionary elements, and come up with the so-called "Jewish values'. This was done by washing away the mindless devotion to god. Alas, American jewishness, bound with the supposed fight against oppression and a craving for justice, also suffers cognitive dissonance, for the "values' as supposedly embedded in the vision of the prophets is still tribal-centric. There was no universal god for the prophets, much as many like to read their rantings/ravings/preachings, only an Isralite god. one that's keen to smash all other gods, as brutally as necessary.

      Alas, today in the American and israeli context we see both cases of dissonance come full circle. With many devoted Christians taking the bible literally and American jewry delighting in the redemption brought about by the ultra-oppressive state of israel while preaching obedience to the familia. Both communities are brushing aside the inherent contradictions embedded in their respective congregations.

      the result is that we have the likes of beinart and jeff goldberg and ADL on the jewish side. What we have on the christian side are the evangelicals and dominionists etc. etc.

  • Norman Finkelstein on Sanders, the first intifada, BDS, and ten years of unemployment
    • dan, as you said, Finkelstein definitely does not state in this interview that BDS as a tactic is something he agrees with. Instead choosing to take issue with the larger aim of BDS as well as the position, and indeed the existence of those "illusory" palestinian civil groups.

      Whatever he may have said in the past, his positions now, as reflected in this interview, have hardened. he goes as far as to maintain that BDS plays into the hands of the hasbara. Plus he goes on at several points about the importance of the palestinians recognizing israel as a "jewish" or at least "majority jewish" state. To me this looks like a regression in his positions. Being ostracized by many palestinian solidarity groups on account of his opposition to BDS probably got to him - can't have been pleasant and he said, his invitations for the lecture circuit have dwindled to a trickle.

      The truth is that what he really takes exception to is that 'agnostic' position on Israel upheld by the movement's leaders and most of its rank and file. In other words, the ideal one state for all its citizens as something to strive for is what's really bothering him. partly i conceded for this not looking as an overly realistic position at this point. but partly, i think it's that tribal tug on his soul of souls. He actually wants a jewish state and thinks that such a state can be a rational actor on the world stage if peace were to break out through the ushering in of a palestinian state. most of us differ on that point of "realism" as a 2SS may indeed be something simpler to conceive, but in practice israel will resist it tooth and nail, till kingdom come. Also, many of us are just not so committed to the idea of an "all-jewish" state. many of us think that's actually not a good thing even in theory because of the "collateral" unavoidable damage. And some of us - like me - simply believe that jews do much better when they are mixed with others, but that's another story.

    • Keith, agreeing with much of what you say but adding a caveat. There is another force on the global stage which is obviously fighting back against the globalist, corporate-controlled anglo-zionist Empire (I am using the Saker's terminology here, so you know where i am going with this). With the exception of a few bloggers in the west, not much attention is being paid to the Russian resistance and its newly minted alliance with China. This I see as the harbinger of a pro-national movement that aims to maintain and restore the state as a representative pf the public good in the long run (I am not saying russia is 'good" and I don't want to confuse pro-nation state with nationalism which has come to have negative connotations). I know that there is a campaign to villify Putin as the embodiment of all things bad in our controlled suppine press, but that's just propaganda, meant to obscure what's really going on.

      What i am saying is that the entity of Russia has embarked on an effort to remain separate from the global corporatocracy, which is the real reason it is being so condemned by the PTBs. Good or bad, Russia gave every indication of wanting to plot its own way rather than jump on the bandwagon of a dollarized, neoliberal, corporate train, where national, individual and ethnic differences can be all erased in favor of maintaing the profits of the top 0.01% (while spewing hymns to democracy and freedom - all the way to hell). Russia knows of course that ultimately this means finding a way to disengage from the dollar as the coin for all transactions, which means carving alternative financial systems - not an easy task by any means. To accomplish this they made an alliance with the Chinese, slowly integrating their corporate and financial infrastructures (just the other day, the Chinese acquired a 10% stake in Rosneft - part of the integration effort, clearly). In time the Russians and Chinese will seek to bring in Iran, India and what's left of the Latin American brics (after the damage being wrecked upon them now is done - hence the small 'b').

      When i look at these events of the geopolitical level, I find reason for hope that ultimately, a multi-polar world may emerge that might clip the wings of the global corporate elite structure. Wish Europe would join in but for whatever reason they are too weak to stand up to the Empire.

      The cynic in me sees of course the potential for the alternative Euroasian empire to turn into, well, just another global empire. one that's ruled by different corporations, but with the exploitive financialization forces intact. I am hardly blind to the rise of the oligarchies in China or to its rather mercantile nature. Still, in a multi-polar world, despite the danger of conflicts getting out of control, space may be created for alternative groupings of nation-states where they get to keep their traditions, values and individualities, and perhaps be allowed to have their own approach to serve the public rather than the private good.

      See how deep my opsimism goes? always looking for that sliver of a silver lining.....also, sorry if i am waxing about things you already know.

    • Note added re BDS (my reading):

      The psychologically damaged mindset of the Israeli gestalt (viewed as a whole - give or take a few 10's of 1000's excellent souls - bless their hearts) is what makes the BDS movement the only possible counterweight. In an important respect BDS represents a tacit recognition that the israeli psyche is, in fact, bound tightly with an irrational quest to hold on to the west bank (at least most of it), while believing they can thrive anyways. Since it seems impossible to entice israelis with the BENEFITS of relinquishing their unjust rule over Palestine (as evidenced by the failure of countless "peace" overtures and farce negotiations), the only counter-approach is to address the issue of COST. That in the hope that some day, the cost-benefit equation will become skewed enough to where the patient - the israeli gestalt in this case - will undergo an existential crisis that will allow it to deal on a rational level. It's a long shot, of course, and will be fought tooth and nail by powerful forces, but as any good psychologist knows, sometimes it's necessary to use "alternative" techniques of persuasion to help the sleepwalker come to terms with their condition.

      Norman Finkelstein is, perhaps unfortunate for being a rational man to the core. So rational, in fact, that his visionary ideas, cannot fully encompass the irrational elements of the Israel/Palestine dilemma. And because he still thinks of israel (and, of course its many supporter Jews around the world) as a basically rational entity that is amenable to conventional forms of persuasion, he cannot fully grasp just how unlikely it is for the 2SS to become a reality. More unfortunately, just as we all know (from personal experience), it is difficult to persuade rational people to recognize the irrational element in certain harmful individuals, I doubt debates with Finkelstein, no matter how calm and scholarly, will convince him to view BDS as a useful tactic that can achieve strategic goals.

      This is all the more regrettable, because Finkelstein is so very smart, and we would all benefit from him having a proper platform so he could continue to challenge all and sundry. For myself, I know that while i disagree strenuously with his views on 1ss vs 2SS and BDS as a tactic, reading and hearing him made me examine my own convictions more deeply.

    • I was struck again by the sadness that permeated this interview with Finkelstein. I still think of him as an old prophet/new scholar who can't find a home in any group. The sad ness I see in Finkelstein's fate is of disconnectedness on two different levels:

      (1) he seems to accept that a scholar who plots a collision path with mainstream academia is bound to suffer from the notorious cowardice and funding dependence inherent in the academic structure. But in his acceptance he still does not fully grasp just how far and deep academic subservience to power goes. Or he may grasp it (by now, he might well) but cannot yet imagine the truly kafkaesque dimensions of academic life (at least for the liberal/ arts/political/economic/legal departments)

      (2) While he has certainly plowed deeply into israel's misdeeds over the years, he still does not comprehend the israeli psyche on both a collective and individual level. AS a result, he still thinks in rational terms about a group of people who some time ago have been brain-washed into more of a cult-like mentality. Finkelstein cannot understand the israeli paranoia for example, because it is not a rational symptom. Neither does he understand the toxic combination of superiority complex and a fear of persecution, the two being flip sides of each other, but co-existing in a state of perpetual disharmony. It's the kind of conditions psychologists like Avigail Abarbanel recognize, but scholars like Finkelstein dismiss - as if it could be waved away with a slight of hand. "Surely, reason must prevail in the end' says the scholar, even as the psychologist reaches frantically for some behavior-modifying pills.

      While the first disconnect prevents Finkelstein - a fine scholar by all account - from bagging an academic position for which his skills are well suited, the second disconnect causes him to hang on to the 2ss dream as if it could ever be a reality, while dissing BDS as unrealistic, and thereby making himself not so grata along the Palestinian solidarity lecture as well. A truly sad predicament. The Israelis, collectively (by a decided majority0 basically want to hang on to the west bank. Whether they all admit it, whether some are willing to relinquish some of it, whether some very few keep saying they'll happily give it all up doesn't matter. The reality is that for the most part they want to keep it and believe that ultimately they will, which means that, on a sub-conscious as well as conscious lever, they judged the costs to such filly to be acceptable.

  • Sanders slams Clinton for ignoring Palestinian needs and thinking Netanyahu is 'right all the time'
    • I'll note that the discussion where the notable observation "Palestinians are human" appeared, was in a context of Mid-east policy, where, again, Sanders showed himself to be a realpolik kind of guy (which is obviously not far enough for most of us, but it's a start). Not long after the assignment of humanity to palestinians - which is something hillary equivocates on - there was mention of Syria and the ever-lasting fake issue of "no-fly" zone (a code name for regime change, as we all know). Sanders again held to his guns on this one - even though he too chose to repeat the mantra of "Assad is a horrible dictator", which is an essential prologue to any statement by anyone in power in the US (sort of like "Saddam was a horrible dictator" and so was Ghaddafi, and "Israel has the right to defend itself").

      I am, of course, grateful for small deviation from the propaganda lines, even if it was just a foray. I do find it interesting that Clinton doubled down on the no-fly zone - to protect the 'refugees", no less, from Isis AND Assad. But not a word about the inconvenient presence of Russia in that same area slated for "no fly", which of course, Russia enforces with gusto, as we speak. presumably the Russians are not protecting 'refugees",and to add insult to injury, are actually upholding the government's right to defend itself from attacks by the neocon conglomerate of CIA/saudi-Arabia/Turkey/Israel. OK, obviously no one can go down this road in a debate - that might be too, how to say it? - sensitive. After all, surely the monarch of saudi-Arabia is not a tyrant, Turkey is a paragon of democracy and israel is a shining light on the hill. The CIA? just another humanitarian organization, surely.

      Ignoring the Russians must be the new "realpolik" for the Clintonites. Kind of like ignoring wall Street in favor of the new punching bag, known as shadow banks (which are not at all connected in any way to real banks - perish the thought! Kind of like a separate mafia....).

      An aside - in the past, I did hear Sanders calling out the great Kingdom of SA. Speaking of treacherous waters!

      All in all, after this debate we can all see what a horrid disaster Clinton will be as president. Frankly I am beginning to wonder whether trump (if these two are the nominees) will not be the lesser evil. Isn't this Hillary's campaign platform? the lesser evil? what if she isn't the "lesser"?

    • Well said Bryan. Alas, even Sanders did not dare mention the word "blockade". Much less Gaza Ghetto. But I am not complaining. In a world where the words for "neutral" and "even handed" are verboten (on the pain of eviction from the vaunted halls of Jewish life and New York Times), saying a single sentence about Palestinian unemployment in Gaza does indeed appear as if a revolution is near. That is how far down the rabbit hole the "conversation" has sunk, and how steep will the eventual climb have to be. Good for sanders that he at least had the courage to show up Clinton as deep in the hole. Like the Alice in Wonderland Queen she be with "sentence first, judgement later". And a sense of good judgement? never.

  • Execution of Palestinian exposes militarism and racism of Israeli culture
    • Jonathan Cook does not name the murderer but his name is known - and named - throughout Israel, where he is considered a "hero". irecommend Richard Silverstein's piece on the murder where his name - Elor Azaria - is stated along with photo of him standing next to his approving commander, Shapiro and a screen shot of a Facebook dedicated to upholding his reputation. may be a new Tzadik? after all, many in israel, consider the murder of a wounded person by a medic as a Mitzvah - a good deed. One that can surely get one to heaven.

      link to

      I am only surprised the defense of the killer has not defended this act of mayhem and brutality as a "mercy killing". May be that's the role of the medic now in israel? administer to a lightly wounded Jewish soldier, no matter how thuggish, and make sure to administer the coup-de-grace to a wounded palestinian? I mean, they kill horses, don't they?

      Also absent in this piece is the ongoing persecution of the Palestinian, Imad, who took the video and gave it to B'tzelem. The attacks on his home, his villification by a blood-thirsty israeli public and the unbelievable vitriol directed his way are by now known facts. I read he had to go into hiding but may have been arrested by now - perhaps his crime was "witnessing the morality of the israeli Army"? or "accessory-after-the-fact"? after all, why was he there? very suspicious, indeed. Why are any Palestinians at a checkpoint? I wouldn't at all be surprised to learn later he was tortured into confessing some ill-intent or another, even as the nurderer-in-broad-daylight is walking around under light "camp arrest".

  • Trump abandons 'neutral' Israel position, Sanders adopts it
    • One other commendable statement by Sanders (I believe it was in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, but I'm not sure): he stuck it to Saudi Arabia - actually named them as a key sponsor of terrorism - something Hillary, with all the money she (and/or hubby's "foundation") received from the despicable KSA, would never, ever do. sanders called out KSA as undemocratic, despotic, and generally a bad player, including in Yemen. He also singled out Qatar for honorary mention - Qatar which is spending $200.B for the vanity spectacle of the world cup. Sanders suggested that some of that money could have much better uses.

      IT took me a short research to verify that indeed, not one of the candidates, and not one of the news stations had the guts to call out SA for the sponsor f ISIS and Al-Qaeda that it is. A thoroughly disgusting regime (but no, no one advocates regime change there, do they?).

      The reason for avoiding naming the culprit of terrorism as wahabism-on-steroids is obvious: money. Sanders referred even the the Saudi regime buying the acquiescence of their own citizens. And right he is. But KSA (and Qatar and UAE) also bought stakes in any number of news organizations - something that is not always in plain sight, but is known to those who need to know and some others who care enough to look. Needless to say, surreptitiously they contribute to the candidates as well even if it's well hidden behind super-pac or "foundation" veil.

      I think it was incredibly brave of sanders to go there. At least as brave as directing some criticism Israel's way for Gaza and the settlements and the hint that israel is not always working in good faith (OK no news to anyone here).

      Since much of the media has jewish involvement in one capacity or another, no wonder they have worked so hard to first ignore him, then diss him, then dismiss him. And still he won't go away, despite obvious election fraud (Arizona), suspected fraud (Iowa, Illinois) and generally shabby treatment by the liberal bastions, such as NYT and MSNBC.

      We complain a lot about having poor candidates. But there is one who is head and shoulders above them all, and it's Bernie Sanders. A mensch among the mice. IF we, the people, can't get a guy like this into office because of quibbles, squabbles and petty cynicism, may be we all deserve what we are going to get.

  • Why is AIPAC legitimating Donald Trump's bigotry?
    • Actually, Cruz is more like an American Netanyahu, or may be an American bennet. In which case Hillary is more like the Israeli lapid. I think.

    • Donald, what makes trump mre bigotted than the American jews who support the ultra-racist, hyper-Islamophobic, etohno-supremacist theocracy known as israel?

      I am not saying you are, but the vast majority of attendees to AIPAC must be inherently racist, bigotted, islamphobic and suffer from a serious supremacy complex. OK, they don't mind the mexicans. Why should they - the 1-5% (which, conservatively speaking encompasses the majority of attendees - both jewish and non-jewish sycophants) have no issue with those lower than low wage earners, do they?

      Basically, support for AIPAC or the holier-than-thou trump protesting "rabbis-in-good-standing" or the thieving, illegal,settlement fund raisers who day in, day out defend ugly racist practices, is so much worse than support for trump. If anything the 20,000 or so AIPAC attendees make trump sound like a boy scout.

      20,000 is a lot of people, I think. I know hardly anyone who frequents this blog is among them and I know we can subtract perhaps a 1000 who are there to gather information or speak to people in the vain hope of affecting change. What I want to know is where are the Black-Lives-Matter protesters and the others who are so keen to disrup ttrump rallies. Why aren't they disrupting and protesting this gathering of this sliver of the elite who support a reprehensible foreign entity that is guilty of war crimes galore - often at the expense of their own country?

      Where are the AIPAC protests, Donald? (yes I know there are a few. but where is the buzz? where are the multitudes? where is the disgust and the opprobrium?)

      Again, it's not you or james north or Phil or anyone here I accuse of bigotry, racism and/or blood lust. But you know as well as I do who the guilty ones are. In fact, they'll be momentarily on our very TV screens, preening and crowing to all the media that are handsomely paid to deliver their unctuous, hypocritical, condescending utterances.

      So, Frankie P got a point. may be you should re-read it.

    • Just to emphasize once again - AIPAC has no problem with mexicans and latinos in general because just like the rest of the 1% they love the economic migrants - excellent for low wages and profit taking. Just as Merkel over in Germany thinks a couple of million refugees and migrants can do just great to prop up a decreasing labor force and insufficiently consuming, overly saving Germans.

      The AIPAC shills who never tire of calling for the blood of Iranians, and secular rulers of muslim countries such as Assad, of course are all for the combating 'prejudice" against "muslims in general". It's just when they happen to be Palestinians, or Shiites like hezbollah or iran, that they have issues with.

      And here we are, talking about the bad trump who, in truth, has shown not one hundredth of the bigotry afflicting the high and mighty AIPAC movers and shakers and their even more contemptible racist-to-the-core "bretherns-in-faith" from israel.

      To me it seems that it is this ill-disguised anti-American, power-hungry, war-mongering organization called AIPAC that should be protested as the most disgusting exhibit of bigotry, hatred and anti-humanity, rather than someone like Trump who is apparently the voice of millions of disaffected, left-behind people, whether they are prejudiced or not. Disaffected people, from time-immemorial found others, lower than they, as targets for their resentment and unhappiness. In Israel, the Mizrahi descendants and Russian emigres voice far more hatred for Palestinians, and muslims in general than any Trump-supporting republican voter ever has. For true, concentrated hatred, I suggest we look to the east Mediterranean rather than west of the Atlantic.

      PS I am obviously a Sanders supporter , but i find the hissy-fits thrown around about Trump disingenuous as well as dangerous. Let the people vote for whom they wish, and drop the sacred "Humanitarian" coverings.

    • Let's talk about them elephants in the room again, shall we?

      What is AIPAC after all, if not the mputhpiece of the most virulent, toxic, bigoted and obnoxious strains in the so-called Jewish state? who or what does AIPAC support - to the detriment of the American people - if not a xenophobic, racist, ethno-supremacist country called israel? what is heard day in, day out on the streets of israel, and the neocon halls of America, populated by exalted figures such as Adelson, Foxman and Gaffney (now part of the Cruz team of killer-shills), if not bigotry, hatred and contempt of any and all minorities? which country in the world makes trump look like a saint by comparison?

      And while we are at it, what exactly has Trump said about migrants and alternative religions (not jewish or christian) that AIPAC has not endorsed and indeed promoted from the and to the highest offices in the land?

      Why, you say, it's not mexicans or some feckless "muslims" they are against. It's those Arabs called palestinians that they wish to see gone from the white-washed streets of israel, and their friends banished from US campuses.

      Is there a body politic more prejudiced against anyone not jewish than the illustrious AIPAC and its oh-so-jewish "values? who exactly are these rabbis protesting anyways - Some ill-conceived pronouncements by Trump or the fact that he proposed even-handedness and/or humanistic approach to the I/P conflict? why, Trump failed to condemn all palestinians as hate-filled "terrorists" even as he had some issues with muslims in general. may be he doesn't realize that protesting israeli murderous occupation and spite for all non-Jewish residents within and without the Green line is simply not kosher.

      I think AIPAC is way to the right of the Trump in the hate mongering business, and may be that's what upsets the high and mighty congregation - that Trump may not be "saufficiently "right" in the right direction.

      The upset over Trump's speech to AIPAC is thoroughly disingenuous. After all, that other masked hater of all things not empire, called Hillary (of the "we came, we saw, he died") is speaking in front of AIPAC too, probably to protest her undying support for the most racist, bigoted, hate-filled country in the world.

      Now, now.....

  • 'New York Times' whitewashes poll showing Israeli support for expelling Palestinians
    • Thanks Keith. Yes, I have Shahak's book and have been reading through it (not in order. I never read in order because, well, I am not sure...). Very interesting points and observations. What i read I have annotated carefully. The chapter you mention is actually one of the ones I haven't read through fully yet but have every intention to do so. I can certainly see why he was so villified. I have read a couple of other books (one by maxim Robinson called "cult, Ghetto and State") that address the same historical facts, though without the analysis of Classical Judaism that Shahak brought up.

    • Actually, one of the things I found shocking but not surprising is the seeming unanimity of the religiously affiliated Israelis, who by large majorities supported expulsion of the non-Jews as well as keeping Israel preferentially Jewish (ie, a jim Crow-like state). Somewhere in the poll, there was a question on political affiliation. Again, shockingly but unsurprisingly, fewer than 10% identified as "leftists".

      The hand wringers and apologists seem rather uninterested in these factoids. may be they are too embarrassed to call attention to the all-too-obvious facts that the more jewishly educated are correlated with the more bigotted, prejudiced, and indeed undemocratic.

      Why does no one comment on the vaunted Jewish "values' in this connection? what does it mean when Judaism becomes synonymous with intolerance and xenophobia? how do the great jewish pontificators in the US (the Bill krystols, brookses, friedmans etc) deal with the Israeli version of "Jewish values"?

      If anyone has seen some interesting commentary on this - from the US especially - I would like to read it. Am always interested in innovative apologetica (it's a relatively unknown field now but is expected to grow explosively in the coming years, I hear).

  • Trump's Jewish mirror
    • Good point THB. Indeed, the Reform movement is despised in Israel because they fail to conform to the orthodoxy and xenophobia of the established jewish lithurgy and dogma. The rank and file israelis assume/presume that Reform are essentially impostors, not to be taken seriously.

      To think that the reform guys continue to kow-tow to the brutal conquistadors of israel, prostating themselves further at each insult, is indeed the kind of travesty Stockholm syndrome was invented to explain.

      OTOH, may be they just suffer from a martyrdom complex.

    • I am with you in my impatience, Mooser. May be Trump will trumpet his newly discovered Jewish values to AIPAC?

    • If Reform jews support a state as brutal, oppressively criminal, corrupt, xenophobic and racist as israel, what exactly does it say about their "jewish" values?

      I kind of agree with Ellis here (I think I agree...not that he would ever stoop to correcting me/others) - Trump and Israel are mirror images of each other. The substance is similar even if appearances differ. In an honest world, where "reform" jews take a break from pip-squeaking about their "Jewsih values" and own up to the brutish criminal entity they support, they should all be flocking to trump - a somewhat cruder manifestation of their "values".

  • Sayed Kashua doesn't want to write in Hebrew for 'Haaretz' anymore
    • Shmuel, thanks for the recommendations. and comments. Alas, Aida is only available in hebrew, which is kind of difficult for me to read. I bought The Flight of the Swans (also in Hebrew) but it's going to be hard going.

      These days, reading in hebrew for me is a bit like reading English was for the first 2 years after I came to the US. Can be done, but a little laborious.

      Why haven't his books been translated to English? and is there perhaps an "underground" translation available?

    • Hello Shmuel. Dare I confess my ignorance and admit I didn't know Sami Michael, until you recommended one of his books to me (Flight of the Swans). Amazon was out for a while and it took some time before I was able to get it, but alas, by the time it arrived, I was mired in the other side of my brain and could not escape. Still haven't read it but it is moving slowly but surely to the top of the heap next to my desk (a scary thought because just below it, is Piketty's book - all 1000 or so pages of it, which I have been pretending to have read but may need to make good on the pretense real soon due to a stupid commitment I made to some people. Only Sami's book is protecting me from this fateful meeting with the great - and supposedly readale, but - oh so voluminous - Piketty and his many - oh so many- diagrams and graphs).

      I have saved all the Hebrew teachings you gave me over the years here and can confess that your sentences in my near-forgotten language, brought up a few pangs of regret (don't worry though - I get over such pangs rather swiftly, so no guilt for you...).

      The other day, looking through a box I long had in storage, I found n old old notebook with poems I wrote in Hebrew back in the day. Tried to read them objectively figuring on a chuckle or two, but alas, comprehension escaped me. It was literally like reading someone else's writing. I could not recognize the person who wrote them anywhere in my memory - or connect to the feelings and perceptions behind the words - so much so that the thought crossed my mind that perhaps I just copied someone else's work for posterity. Except the pages were marked with my name and lines were crossed out and words rewritten here and there, and yes, there was a hint of that verbosity which felt somehow familiar (a verbosity to which English lends itself so much better, ouch!). Interestingly, I also found the feelings conjured by the words quite foreign, a distance that may be explained by the passage of time, but only partly. For example, way angrier than I recall. What was there to be so mad about, I wonder? or, could it be that hebrew lends itself to fury so well that it conjures that particular emotion, even out of nothing in particular?

      Alas, I know enough Hebrew still to see that those poems were not all that great (so in the box they shall remain). Good thing I ended up going on another path.....

    • I am late to reading this piece, and will be late in commenting; still, better late than never, yes?

      As a former Hebrew speaker I am especially touched by Kashua's complex relationship with the language of his oppressors. I say 'former speaker' because I have consciously and deliberately set upon not speaking the language I grew up with for many years now. No, I didn't quite forget it, nor do I seek to denigrate it. What happened though is that as I moved away from the Israeli gestalt, its language started to feel foreign to me. As one feels with a language one learns later in life. I am not sure whether the two processes - growing apart from the collective, and growing estranged from its language - were independent or fed on each other in some sub-conscious way. I just know that one day, a decade or so from the time I left, Hebrew stopped feeling organic - and I lost the music of the words.

      Unlike Kashua, part of my own estrangement was the direct result of having discovered another language - English - one in which I felt I could find a more natural expression. The thought occurred me tha perhaps, we each have a natural language of sorts, one which may not always be the one we are born into or are raised with.

      Still, though my journey - linguistically and politically - is quite different from Kashua's, I find great resonance in his story. For I have come to believe in the supremacy of language over the personal emotional world. Do we feel something if the language we have at our disposal has no word for that emotion? perhaps we dismiss such inexpressible emotions as something foreign, peculiar or just too vague to get hold of. I have been wondering about such things for quite a while now, searching my memory banks, taking note of others' expressions, musing idly as I listen to music - which may be just another language to wrap reality into, or escape from its everydayness.

      Kashua was always political and In Hebrew, he expressed the vagaries of israeli political existence, through the funny, to which hebrew lends itself well. Almost too well. I, OTOH, woke up to the political dimension of life in English, and therefore have only its vocabulary to discourse on this level. In Hebrew I was politically asleep - as many if not most young people are. Nothing different about that between Israelis and other humans - the young are too busy to meddle in the messy business of collectives everywhere; or, to put it more accurately, they would rather not unless external events force them too, as when revolutions occur.

      Nowadays, I realize that to be israeli - Arab, jew or otherwise, is to be political. The politics of the "situation" is always there, separating people from one another into camps, even if they just met as strangers. For an israeli, the personal is truly political these days, and I am not sure if it was always so, because when I was young confrontations with alternative world views were few and far between. We complained about our own society, but still we were politically dormant. So I think that perhaps, for the Arab israeli person of letters, such a state of blissful drowsiness was not the option it was for us, who grew up cozily wrapped in the bubble of illustrious - and shared - manifest destiny.

      Anyways, figuring this train has left the station, I hope it's OK to wax poetic to an probably empty room.

      My very best to Sayed Kashua, whose "Arab Labor" I discovered one day, all on my own, on an isolated ranch somewhere in middle America. Quite by chance, thanks to linkTV.

  • Clinton's date to pander at AIPAC leaves an opening for Sanders, you'd think
    • Krauss, sometimes, when we don't know the facts about how or what a politician is thinking (and let's not forget that Sanders is a politician, if a principled one) it may be instructive to look at who is opposing them. And the one group I see fiercely opposing Sanders are the neocons who are basically apoplectic about him. The other group is from the liberal ranks of the establishment. Why wouldn't J street endorse Sanders for example? isn't he for their precious 2-state chimera? or the other jewish operatives and/or commentators? is it just that they are all ogling for a position in a Hillary administration, or could it be they know some things we don't?

      I think we should take a serious look at the ones from the supposedly "liberal" side of the aile who speak up so forcefully for Hillary when their own positions conflict with everything she stands for (cf establishment etc.).

    • Phil, thanks for bringing in that debate in Las Vegas. Truly precious. The standard bearers of the New Mandarins chatting among themselves - how cute!

      I hope that once Hillary gives her supine address to AIPAC Sanders will find the courage to comment on the power of lobbies in the US, even if he doesn't take her on directly. Of course that will take place after the Ides of March, when many things can either change or not.

      I do BTW agree with DD that Sanders' "emotional" attachment to israel is somewhat dubious. At best, he has very mixed emotions as do many once idealistic jewish israel supporters in the US. Chances are that what he feels is a deep sense of sadness for the country that could have been and isn't (putting aside for a second the original sin of colonization and dispossession of the natives). Ultimately though he has to wrestle with his own political instincts that right now are telling him that taking Israel and/or AIPAC head-on in inadvisable. His plate is plenty full already and for the battle against the big bad wolf he will have to be much better weaponized than he is at the moment.

      Speaking just as a tactician here, not a wisher for all good things. On that second front I am of course with you and all true progressives.

    • Interesting comments, DD. And this:

      "I expect he seethes inside toward Netanyahu and the Neocon playbook with similar feelings he expressed about Kissinger. But he is holding that back, for now, reading the political winds as best he can."

      I tend to agree with you on this one, as I said before. I know some on the left criticize sanders for not going to bat AIPAC straight and square. But taking them or the neocons embedded within and with them head on would be a politically foolish move, especially as he, as the sole combatant does not get to even choose the duel weapon. Far better to mount political guerilla tactics on this front, at least while the battleground is so uneven.

      That being said, chances are - and I agree with you on that as well, that Sanders can't stand netanyahu and his ilk. Among other things Netanyahu took israel on a neoliberal course that has resulted in just about the worst inequality among OECD countries. Yes, even worse than the US and much much worse than most European countries. Surely that alone would put sanders on a collision course with present day Likud-racist-religious-Ideological israel, which is rife with corruption, graft and outright racism, even before the occupation is factored in. After all, when he was young, it was a Shomer hatzair Kibbutz he volunteered in and they didn't come much more socialist than that back in the day. (other than the communist party).

      Sanders actually enjoys quite a bit of support among the israeli left, pale echoe of their former selves that they are. I have seen quite a few expressions in israel wishing they had someone like him on their political scene.

  • Bernie Sanders's God is a lot like John Brown's
    • So says the guy who refuses to acknowledge that Israel's vaunted democracy is akin to the democracy of the confederacy. Over three million persons, some living in conditions that are just as dire as those of the American slaves - or Indians - are deprived of the rights of a human per the UN charter, in israel. That beacon of light unto the "nations".

      The palestinians of israel-proper, who have actually been granted citizenship, are living under conditions much like the Jim crow South. The Plaestinians locked in the conquered west bank territories and in the horrific ghetto of Gaza - live, work and die strictly according to what Israel allows. In other words, they have the rights accorded to slaves. No one offered them the vote or citizenship, much less an opportunity to be considered humans and have the rights of personhood.

      To which you will no doubt say they don't want the vote because then they would have to be citizens of Israel. To which I will reply - does anyone know what the response of the people of gaza would be to an offer to become citizens of israel with full rights of movement and livelihood? how about trying that out?

      Unfortunately, no Jewish person in America who fancies themselves a zionist (liberal or otherwise) and supports the apartheid country of Israel while denying it is an apartheid state - has any claim to partake in debates on what it took to abolish slavery in the US and what it took later to release them from Jim crow. At least not in good conscience, because their consicience is sullied. So to me, speaking to what did and didn't end slavery and the role of John brown sounds a bit sanctimonious, coming from you.

  • Did dodging foreign policy doom Bernie Sanders?
    • MRW - I just saw this chart on the Nevada turnout for Dems and Repubs on Rachel maddow. The numbers definitely don't jibe with those very low numbers in the few thousands for the Dems and just over twenty thousand for the Repubs.

      link to

      These caucuses are definitely confusing....

    • I stand corrected MRW - I thought for some reason this was like Iowa, where they really did give counts of those "county delegates" rather than the popular vote. I think I just refused to believe so few people in Nevada go to caucus. But seeing the republican numbers, must now accept the unbearable lightness of democracy in Nevada.

    • Re Sanders and foreign policy positions, I think that many of us who support sanders tend to forget that win or lose, Sanders will still have to represent an Empire. With all that entails. It is not that Sanders forgets that, otr that his anti-war stands, or I/P stands are weak. It's that he doesn't forget that because he can't.

      The question before the people of the country is the same it's been for many decades now - do we want to stay an empire or, more pertinently, do we, the people, even have a say on the matter?

      Yes, we all figure that when sanders rails against the lobbies that hijacked the US democratic process, he is also speaking of the military-industrial-surveillance lobby and of AIPAC and the Saudi lobby. But, as the case may be, and strangely enough, it is much safer to criticize strongly the financial lobby, the gun lobby, the oil lobby and the insurance lobbies. Because those lobbies, somehow, are part of the so-called "domestic" landscape (even though they are not). Take on the foreign policy and you deal with the Empire in all its trappings.

      And this is the saddest part of the story - that, in the end, even the best candidate, even the bravest one, cannot tackle the deep state. Ron Paul did and he is the only one who dared, and he was thoroughly marginalized, but because of that, is still out there, writing and speaking.

      Unfortunately, in the end, there will be no revolution if one is not willing to take on the Empire itself. And this is a conversation only some military people are able and willing to have because they know, in their bones and in their souls that the Empire is in decline, and as it declines it'll corrupt everything it touches till only the dry embers of a pretend-democracy are left. Which is why so many of them support Trump. Can Trump really keep it up? can he do anything about it? would he even want to? time will tell but I suspect the Empire has its ways of co-opting him or, if need be, tripping him.

      That is what's stopping the revolution, regardless of what Sanders true opinions are on Palestinian liberation or Syria or Russia. regardless of how strongly the anti-war camp feels.

      For myself, before I get too depressed about sanders' real chances, I try to remember Michael hastings. No one speaks of him any longer or his suspicious demise. No one notes the strange silence of Jeremy Scahill, or the scarcity of Glenn Greenwald either. But at least they are still around and may return and do so occasionally, as often as they dare. I also try to remember that Sanders' fight is an honorable one, and I would like to see him punch through as long as he can, even if he can't do so on all fronts. I hope his voice will remain strong even though he may not prevail this time around, In the end of count it is the movement he helped create that should be kept alive. As hard and distressing the road ahead is likely to be.

    • MRW< you may be looking at delegate numbers, not the popular vote. It can be confusing for these caucus states.

    • Good points kalithea.

      I am especially with you about the terror of seeing either a hillary in one of her many dashingly hot pink or chartreuse tops or a Trump with his mop on my TV screen. I am going to start looking seriously at new Zeland, I think, if either of those two are elected.

    • What has to be factored in for a race between hillary and Trump is the likely indifference and even antipathy of the many Sanders supporters, who have seen and are living through the total trashing of their candidate by the entire MSM, especially outlets such as NYT, PBS, NPR, MSNBC etc. That even as other, more 'alternative' outlets are decidedly pretending he barely exists.

      Seeing the hillary shenanigans, hearing her endless pandering, disingenuous shift 'to the left" (which she will no doubt recant the minute it gets to the general election), and the yawning canyon of absence of anything that can be called "vision", many supporters of sanders will, at best, cast a vote for Hillary just to stop trump, but very few will hit the pavement for her. And quite a few, myself included probably, will vote for a third candidate, like jill Stein. The defection and disillusionment of the youth vote and not a few of the not so young and not so white, is a factor that cannot now be assessed with any confidence.

      AS for trump, just you wait. If he wins the republican nomination - watch him beat a fast turn to the center, probably on many identity issues. perhaps other than immigration. He may well get the anti-war vote by many who will overlook his many other deficiencies. he will moderate his comments on muslims and latinos. He will probably take a few pages out of sanders' book about the need to eliminate corporate campaign finance and "clean up" washington. Indeed, I predict that in a Hillary-vs-Trump we'll see the weirdest realignments of voters we have even witnessed - with not a few Republicans holding their noses and voting for Hillary, and not a few Democrats and perhaps a majority of independents likewise holding their noses and voting for Trump.

    • I agree about the naming of Churchill. This was a serious off-note for Sanders. I could not believe he wouldn't come up with the "safe" choice of Mandella (which Hillary exploited). To choose Churchill, who supported the colonialist rule over india almost to the bitter end, indicates to me that Sanders may not be as well-read or well-informed on foreign history and affairs as he is about domestic ones. It's probably typical of many of his followers too, unfortunately, as much as we'd like to believe otherwise. It's hard to blame young people (in general) for knowing so little when the MSM has been completely captured. I know from personal experience that I must make an effort to read alternative media, the only places where I find a semblance of truth about what happened in the Ukraine or in Syria or in Egypt or Libya. And the alternative media can be a minefield of its own - one has to have judgement born of experience in reading media in general to make the trek without being waylaid.

      I don't take sanders off the hook or put all the "left" on the hook. Just pointing out the obvious - there s a serious defieciency in the educational background of Americans - young and old, left and right, male and female, when it comes to America's role in the world, and the dire history that entailed for the people who happened to live in the wrong place at the wrong times. If anything that history has been rather "churchillian", but most Americans, sanders apparently included, don't even know what was it that made Churchill a bit of a controversial figure. May be some irish Americans and Indian Americans can help him out on that?

  • Biggest loser in Iowa was foreign policy
    • May be we could keep the act as the Cassandra Duo, and you could forgo the wig? can I be the Opssimist?

      I got a drawer-full of silver linings I would like to use......

    • echin, I am not sure you quite got my point, which has to do not with what Sanders is or isn't, but with the silence a candidate - any candidate - must endure in the US< just to be allowed to step out of the gate. That's the connection in which I mentioned Ron Paul.

      Sanders for a long time, even as his legions of support increased in power and noise, got the silent treatment from the MSM. Something that was totally obvious to anyone who tuned into any news channel or media. But silence is not as bad as full out ridicule, which is what greeted Ron Paul, whenever he tried to step into candidacy of the GOP. Under the cover of enforced silence, sanders, while ignored, at least did not have to endure the poison arrows and toxic intimations of anti-semitism and anti-empirism. And that silent space (which was not at all silent in the progressive circles) allowed his campaign to blossom, almost stealth-like - but in full view of them who were observant.

      There will be time enough for promises, now that he is taken as a serious threat to her annointed majesty HRC. And not just on I/P. How he is going to handle the barbed wires that will be erected to trap him into making off-the-cuff statements that will be later held against him, is what will tell whether he will surf the waves or crash under them trying.

    • kalithea - internal dysfunction is what happens when one lives in an empire. Power corrupts all political processes and distorts all policies, no matter how well intended at first. The result? sanity of and by the people is the greatest loser.

      Eventually empires can't have statesmen because they might tell the truth now and then. To the rulers or to the people or to the world. That's what makes them statesmen. So goners be they, and when have we had one in the US last?

      Empires can and do have Mandarins who toil at the levers of power. But mandarins invariably get full of themselves and end up mistaking inertia for stability and self-enrichment for wisdom.

      Things are not so good for America because the people fail to internalize what an empire is and what an empire does to stay "on top". Thee people pretend they live in a democracy but such democracy as is practiced is hobbled by the external and internal realities.

      Especially since Empires must do very bad things to remain an Empire but the people want to think of themselves as good. Hence the dysfunction at all levels from the lowest to the highest.

      The worst times - the ones we have entered sometime ago - is when Empires go on the decline trajectory, which all empires must eventually do.

      PS see my comment above about poor Sanders who has yet to contend with these facts of life.

    • Page: 20
    • Keith, optimism much?

    • Good realist take from Phil here. Of course, it's hard to disagree that the silence on foreign policy on the democratic side is deafening. I also agree that it is wise of Sanders to keep some of his opinions under wraps, but leave us, progressives, a crumb trail to allow guessing of what his positions might be at a future point.

      To add four more to Phil's points:

      1. Sanders, as an avowed progressive, is in a lose-lose situation should he choose to speak out on the I/P issue. Or for that matter on Syria, or the destructive role played by Saudi Arabia in turning the ME into a bastion of chaos. If he points out the obvious about israel's slide into apartheid and facsist like tactics, he'll be greeted by howls and shrieks the decibels of which we can easily imagine. If he comes out as a supporter of israel + the usual blah-blah platitudes, he risks alienating a sizable fraction of his progressive base. Therefore, the best approach for him to take right now is to keep as mum as possible.

      2. Sanders has been in Washington for a long time. Long enough to know how strong the powers-that-be are and their capacity for extreme evil in the service of the eilite's power. This applies in particular to the new Jewish Mandarin class, who punches with abandon when it feels even remotely threatened. We may agree that AIPAC can punch above its weight, but saying the emperor has no clothes, and actually yelling it from the roof-tops are two different things. One thing sanders is not, is suicidal. he wouldn't have survived as long as he had otherwise. So, he will play the issue of foreign policy by ear. Gingerly. Waiting until there is a critical mass of support to give him cover, should he choose to come out with a truly independent foreign policy, driven by real-politic concerns.

      3. To the previous point, IMO, what has saved Sanders so far is the very fact that he is jewish. That's why he doesn't get the full Ron Paul treatment. Had he not been jewish i doubt he would be treated with what i consider kids' gloves (Ie being ignored hoping he turns out to be a flash in the pan). Why does this "save" him? because I think the "other side" notices the same bread crumb trail that we do. They suspect that at the very least, he is a J Street type, who has kind of battled his inner zionist for some time. At worst, he may be at one with his base, willing to explore putting much more pressure on israel than anyone dared before. Worse yet, he is far from a liberal interventionist believer and certainly not a hawk. But the military and military Industrial complex, are carefully watching, so, if he is smart, which i think he is, caution is the best way forward.

      4. Like it or not, America is an Empire and behaves like it. It is also an Empire in decline that is seriously in danger of being captured by "animal spirits" from either side. The world is moving to a multi-polar power structure and the PTBs are none too happy about that. they all suspect sanders will be the one to usher in the multi-polar era, should he become president. That can only happen if the time is right and the alternatives are worse. Sanders made enough conciliatory comments about Russia to make certain ears perk up. He, being a Washingtonian, knows and sees the not-always-visible gallery. he plays up to it some, by a combination of silence and certain well-worn platitudes about "peace on earth". But I doubt he discounts the power residing in the upper floors, and its ability to command instant retribution, should it feel threatened. Talking about inequality is fine (after all, what can anyone really do about it, and besides, the PTBs are beginning to feel that inequality has, in fact, become a threat to them). Talking about environment and single payer is fine as well - those are all nice long term goals. But seriously cutting back on military budgets and military/industrial/surveillance infrastructure is something else.

      So yes, like Phil I believe sanders, at heart is a progressive on I/P as well, and wouldn't mind doing a little BDS of his own. But none of us should be naive enough to think he can come out with a platform that puts israel in its place (and I wouldn't be surprised to find out some day that Ron Paul has been whispering sweet nothings in his ear). So for now, silence is golden, and all we can do is hope that a time could come when Sanders would feel free to say the right words. For now, let's follow the trail of crumbs. After all, that's the best we got - for now.

  • 'If we lose the West Bank, we lose everything': An evening with a liberal Israeli
    • MDM: "They may have no ideological attachment to the occupation, but they see no real reason to ‘relenquish’ the West Bank."

      I kind of agree with Sibriak, at least in part. My take is that indeed for now at least, israelis can't and won't imagine life without the West bank, even if they never go there. many secular people for example really do believe that t is theirs as a "spoils of war", a time tested argument with much historical antecedence. one often hears the typical zionist refrain - "if they did, why can't we?" Where "they" can be any power in the West, be they the American colonizers or the british in Australia and canada, or the french in north Africa, etc. etc. this refrain is most often followed by the equally infamous line "why are we being singled out?", implying deep-seated anti-semitism etc.

      The religious of course believe the land is thereirs because it was promised to Abraham, no doubt through a legal deed of trust crafted by a a well known historical figure, namely, god, an unchallengable authority in all matters, legal tenders included.

      But underlying these convictions, which all israelis share to some degree or another, there are other attributes israelis have. For one thing they are a rather self-serving people to an almost narcissistic degree. By self-serving I mean collectively - even as any one individual may be a paragon of selfless virtue, at least when directed to his "own" people. They are also deeply materialistic, something that some of the settlers encountered by Phil in his travels, actually were riled up about. most of the 'coastal" israelis are rather attached to their lifestyles and material comforts, so if there was a credible threat to their economic well-being of the country, there would indeed be some serious backlash.

      In fact, I believe that were there substansive economic sanctions on israel, it would produce some near- miraculous cost-benefit re-evaluations. Among other things, the west bank would suddenly not seem all that important to keep, at least to an increasing number of people. Articles would be written about how much it's costing the country to maintain. Even more articles will be written about how awful it is to be a disliked country and a disliked people. Yes, lots of israelis would pack up and leve no sooner that conditions get a bit tough, and the increase in emigration would produce loud wails of Oy vey. Lots of israelis are already leaving (those who can, basically) and many are clearly unhappy about being disliked, even if they refuse to see the reasons for the antipathy they generate.

      Will such re-evaluations be sufficient and will it change the political picture in israel? That's hard to call because the addiction to the west bank and the desire to maintain Gaza as a ghetto is so entrenched in their psyche. And yes, the settlers, in their misplaced idealism would be a hard nut to crack. But even they, were they to lose material and spiritual support inside israel, may come to see their enterprise as somewhat doomed, and quite a few will leave and go back inside the green line if life became a lot less materially comfortable (again not speaking of the die-hard religious ones). All in all, about half the settlers may be willing to leave in return for some material enticement. As for the remaining half, OK, that's a difficult question, but it's not all that difficult to make them rethink a few things, and perhaps come up with a few compromises.

      I guess what I am saying is that israelis are not like iranians. The modern israeli, even a fairly religious one, will not willingly make the kind of material sacrifices that iranians made, without it causing a near-revolution. My guess is that israel may feel like a nation, but the israelis did not really gel into one, the way the citizens of some countries have (this BTW is my theory, based on my own experiences, observations and speculations. I am eager to find out whether I am right on this one, so bring on those sanctions, please!).

      But all this is hypothetical. Depending entirely on strong and pain-inflicting economic and cultural sanctions. If those could be brought about, I think there may be hope for some kind of acceptable arrangement for both people.

      If only the global will was there!

  • The world the settlers made
    • MaxNarr; "settlers are essentially good people, with good intentions, and rational thinkers".

      So were most of the Germans during the Nazi era. Many nazi sympathizers and their families just wanted a better world in which they and their descendants could live along with their pure bloodied compatriots. All deeds - horrific as some were - armed conquests included - were justified by a form of manifest destiny, not unlike that fervently adopted by settlers of all kinds and colonialists of all stripes from times immemorial. it's only the shape of said manifest destiny that sets them apart, whether a Quranic tract, or Torah incantations, or a new or old testament.

      In fact, there is no deed so foul that it cannot be rationalized and justified by a belief in manifest destiny. What god promised, mere humans cannot take asunder. All it takes is faith in said god, and a faithful attribution to divine origins.

      The 'good' settlers, with their "good" intentions and not entirely irrational thinking would surely say they can't possibly be compared to the French in Algier or the British in Kenya, or the Spaniard in South America, much less to some foul nazis. For one, they are not as brutal (at least so far). For another, they are, indeed, even "better' than the original zionists, so idolized by their liberal zionist bretherns. Besides, their manifest destiny is surely superior, and better proven than the flimsy claims of others, not nearly as well supported by a book of books and dusty learned Talmudic treatises. What they don't say, and what they wcertainly won't tell a visitor among them, is how far they would actually be willing to go in defense of the purity of their blood lines and their stake on the land. Those darker thoughs and intentions, such as are being loudly voiced, are reserved for the insiders.

      Sometimes, the worst evils reside among the best intentioned.

  • Why are American pro-Palestinian voices silent about the brutal war on Yemen?
    • This article raises a good question though perhaps the question should be asked much more broadly: why does the global left, seemingly in unison, choose to avert its eyes from Saudi atrocities - both direct (as in yemen) and indirect (as in Syria and Iraq)? where has everyone been when bombings were and are going on in Iraqi cities, carried out mostly by Sunnis of various kinds? why has the "global left" (whatever that entity is - it includes pro-Palestinian groups) chosen to fall catatonic in the face of the calamities that have befallen Iraq, Syria, Bahrain and now Yemen? why are they so quick to dismiss these awful conflicts as "mere" sectarian wars? and, more relevantly here, as Ben Norton asks - where have all the solidarity groups gone when it comes to devastation visited upon Yemen? and to make things worse, it sure isn't just the pro-palestinian groups that have gone deaf and mute, while yeme is reduced to rubble and its people devastated. It's almost all of the solidarity groups everywhere (with a few notable exceptions).

      Oh yes, and one more question, to partially complete the circle of unanswerables - what exactly makes Syria "complicated"? Who and how did the left fall into the well laid trap of ascribing the 200,000 +casualties in Syria (the number most often cited and never supported ) to Assad (ignoring that well over half of those casualties, if not most, were soldiers and civilian supporters of the secular government)? just what did Assad's army do wrong in trying to fight the takfitris that were injected willy-nilly into their country, complete with arms, drugs and even enough chemicals to make for a few false flags? and why the incredibly shrill silence about the malfeasant role of Turkey in Syria and its ongoing deadly campaign against the Kurds?

      I don't have really good answers to these questions, though commenters above have certainly pointed to a few hints, such as sympathy fatigue, fear of losing focus, ignorance of the situation in eg, Yemen, the complexity of the players in Syria, etc. I do however think we should look a lot deeper into the choices made by well-meaning left activist groups as to what cause to support and when.

      One direction that has not gotten much attention is the unbelievable amount of money spent by Saudi and Qatari governments on PR in the West on the one hand (through part ownership of media outlets etc) and the support they provided to Palestinian groups such as the PA and Hamas. In fact, the latter two are heavily dependent on golf states funds to stay afloat and continue to exercise some form of government, each where they are. I happen to think that we are naive if we believe that such influx of money does not color and corrupt both the attention paid to certain conflict zones and the attitudes taken. I don't think for example, that pro-Palestinian western groups can entirely ignore the preferences of ruling bodies on the ground in Palestine. And the way the saudi money works to corrupt the arguments in favor of human rights everywhere is insidious. It almost always turns on the sunni vs shiite dichotomy, one that most, if not all of us, non-muslims, basically don't get. Let's face it, good people of the left - we have no clue what divides the Sunnis and the shiites. Something about the succession to Mohammed is about all we know. Please correct me anyone if I am wrong - what do we, westerners who come mostly from Jewish and/or Christian background know? how much have our Palestinian friends educated us with regard to this schism?

      And that is the other issue that, IMO< contributes to the relative silence about the Yemen situation. All we ever heard (mostly from the saudi side through their shills in the western press) is that the Houtis are "kind of " shiites and are allied with Iran. Sounds much like the Alawites of Syria - "something shiite" again, so it must be Iran that has put them up to no good. And since almost all the money that goes to support think tanks and western media comes from the Sunni side, no wonder we find it difficult to educate ourselves about who and what is going on in these conflicts.

      So between the ignorance of what the muslim sectarian split is about or how deep it goes, the ready access of Saudi backed PR (surreptitiousy of course) to our papers of record, including the NYT, and PBS/NPR, and the fact that too many official and semi-official Palestinian entities have become so dependent on gulf state money that they are in no position to lend their voices to solidarity with Yemenites, or yazidis or coptic christians, or Kurds, or people of Iraq, it is just too politically complicated for left solidarity groups to go on a limb and swim against the tide.

      Yes, Norton and others here are right. Indeed, if one wanted to know what to support just look at what SA and Qatar support then turn and look sharply the other way. Saudi Arabia in particular is so corrupt, despotic, culturally chauvinistically primitive and religiously reactionary that it has a strong claim on being just about the evilest regime in the world currently. Yet, here we are in the US, in the UK and in most NATO countries and we are in cahoots with the worse of the worst. So much so that even our radicalest solidarity groups have been reduced to whimpering barely audible protestations.

      So really there is nothing very complicated about Yemen, or Syria, or Iraq. Follow the Sunni money and all shall be revealed. The rest is for each of us to interpret well enough to make the wiser and humane choices..

    • I find myself quite agreeing with Tony Greenstein, especially this:

      "There should be no difficulty in deciding who to support in Yemen. The Saudis are everywhere enemies of freedom, both within Saudi society (e.g. the recent 47 executions) and without. Their bombing of Yemen’s population and its blockade of Yemen are outrageous war crimes. The Yemenis have a right to determined their own future and government. The Saudis also act to uphold repressive governments throughout the Gulf, e.g. the use of their military to uphold the dicatorship in Bahrain in 2011. "

      Indeed, it should be quite simple - there is simply no cause that saudi Arabia is engaged in that is not treacherous and injurious to Human Rights. Not outside that country and not inside it. This is a reactionary regime, one that is ruled by a dogmatic, violent, toxic religion. Anything saudi Arabia supports we should be deeply suspicious of. Yemen is a case in point - does anyone even know what got the Saudi goat about yemen? what is the bombing about? and why does the US - and indeed NATO - support these obvious war crimes?

      I attempt to answer the last question below.

  • A Christmas message in dark times
    • Good piece here by Falk. I like the open mindedness about the SPIRIT of Christmas, which is something that transcends its meaning for the religious Christians.

      What i do sense among the many jewish objectors to the words "merry chirstmas" is not so much a plea for tolerance but a concealed sense of envy. heck, the Christians, over millenia came up with a good one. Christmas IS (or can be if one lets it) be kind of fun for all. It IS a time of year that, while we use/abuse it for an orgy of consumption, we also spend some time thinking what gift to get others that they might like. Even for people we rarely see or know, or even like. It IS a time when families try to get together or at least call each other when they are far away. The lights DO look festive and even hurried strangers do seen to try and wish you a merry old time almost cheerfully. And people do so without regard to one's own religion or lack thereof. Even die hard atheists may find the grit to wish Happy something-or-other to believers, momentarily putting their deep principles aside. As prof. Falk suggested, there is a perceptible feeling of good will in the air int the time leading up to Christmas. No matter how religious one is, it's nice to at least try and exchange pleasantries during that brief time in the year. Personally I noticed thatIi can even get over my aversion to small talk, for like 2 whole weeks. Suddenly I don't mind it all that much - the little chit-chats - proving that pompouseness too can take a break now and then. Heck, there are years I didn't even mind the Christmas music beamed out everywhere.

      And did I say yet, that some of those christmas carols are not half bad when properly rendered? at least christmas kept the choir music art thing vibrant for a thousand years, eventually begetting that Handle's Messaiah sing-along.

      Now compare with what the Jews came up with. Sorry but hanukkah is a pale counterpart. most, including jews, don't even know what it's about. Something to do with a - very temporary - military victory by the Maccabis over some local Greek troops. As in those over-zealous, ultra-religious, ultra-nationalistic maccabis. The Maccabis that later beget the hashmonaim rule that lasted long enough to bring corruption to an art form. The Maccabis who are the spiritual fathers of the current religious=nationalistic settler movement taking over israel. So yes, one can light candles, one more every day, then stare at the candles till they go out some half hour later. One can pretend that Hannukah is a time of gift giving - why - a gift every day - and for 8 days too! But secretly, or not so secretly, we know it's basically an invented festivity with next to little or no spiritual meaning, other than celebrating a tactical military victory, if that can be considered spiritual. Hannukkah, like kwanza, feels like a somewhat forced invention to allow some groups in the US to feel "included" to have something of their own to hold up against the ever-invasive Christmas and all its symbols. Hannukah can be called a 'festival of lights", but the more one digs in, the emptier it becomes of meaning other than yet another mid-winter event that goes back to ancient solstice rituals.

      So it is the colorfulness and the spirit of giving and togetherness that marks Christmas as an achievement of festiveness. It has a universality that transcends its religious meanings, a universality that is not exactly shared by the invented hannukkah. A Buddist or Hindu American may choose to put some lights around their house or tree without feeling weird. But no one thinks of lighting hannukah candles except jewish people and their closest and dearest. IT just doesn't FEEL universal, maybe because it isn't.

      In israel, of course, hannukah just means an excuse for a week long winter school holiday for all. Which is kind of nice when you are in school. Whether one lights candles or not. It's just that those hannukah songs, which I blissfully forgot, used to drive me nuts. So may be, hannukah Grinch that I am, it's time for settling some old scores. I do, of course, wonder whether i would be quite as inclined to give Christmas a pass, had THEY kicked me off the school choir, due to an unfortunate inability to carry a tune.....

    • Mooser: "I think immigrants strengthen America. Heck, one of them might give me a job! "

      Correction: as in "some" immigrants. The truth that not many want to talk about is that there are different kinds of immigrants. One doubts Americans, including Trump, would have all that much objection to waves of immigrant engineers arriving from Germany, UK, France, or Seoul. Or even if they are not engineers but say, "merely" liberal art types. It is only a "type' of immigrant that is objected to and those are the low skilled manual laborers arriving through the southern border. Yes, their labor is needed or else they wouldn't be let in, words against "immigration" notwithstanding. The trouble is that everyone understands, from the smartest to the stupidest, that in the long run these immigrants are much harder to integrate into the larger, skilled labor force, which means endless expenditures on education, incarceration, human capital promotion and what not.

      What I am saying is the obvious, even if it is rarely stated by the either MSM or bloggers, liberal or otherwise. In modern America, upward mobility is a kind of a myth. What was once upon a time is largely compromised. People's educational levels and earning power tracks with their parents' and neighborhoods. The middle class is being hollowed out and in the future, there will be fewer and fewer well paying jobs for the low middle class. And that last one is where the majority of immigrants from the South would normally move into, were things the way they used to be in the 50's and 60's.

      So I would cut some slack for them who hear whatever they hear in Trump's whistles. The people who support his seemingly uncompromising stand on immigration tend to be the ones fearing being displaced by modern technology. It's their jobs that are being eliminated, not those of the IT specialist. So, in supporting trump, they only voice their trepidation and discontent.

  • The way for Americans to take on the Islamic state is to end support for Jewish nationalism
    • A little more on the matter of souls:

      Tricky business that, the soul of a religion, or a movement, or an ideology. Ever the scientist, I wonder - does soul operate as a liquid, flowing from one vessel (religion) to another? or is it more like a gas that expands to fill up every crevis in the original container? or is it solid, making for a hard core at the center, surrounded by the great emptiness of mere words spawning (somehow) intertwining strings of rituals, devotions and beliefs?

      The once great Jews had a name for the soul of Israel - they called it Shechina. Pre-Israel, the adopted national poet Bialik wrote about the tears of Shchinah, crying for the children of the people of Israel, scattered every-which-way. He must have known much about that elusive, perhaps illusive, soul. Which somehow failed to touch me enough for reasons unclear. May be I had something like soul immunity? well,I never got chicken pox either, having been exposed multiple times.

      If imagine that if the soul of Judaism was something like a liquid, and it got somehow contaminated by the evil seeds of zionism (cf. ultra ethnic nationalism), could it have flown through to the outer layers of Jewish culture (whatever that is), leaking out of its pipelines, then bursting into an ether filled dimension where all religions live? further infecting Islam along the way and may be susceptible parts of Christianity too?

      Phil implies, and I tend to agree with him, that the contamination of the Jewish culture that grew around Judaism (and the culture IS infected, big time!) may have been a key factor that beget the infection now gnawing at the soul of Islam. I like analogies (far-fetched ones best of all) so Phil's contention - which strikes me as deeply true - reminds me of the Ebola agent that jumped species. How exactly, we still don't know, but it's essential to acknowledge the fact of transmission if we are to avoid more serious outbreaks.

      Well, just some more food for thought for those more etherially inclined.

  • Netanyahu brings neocons and liberal Zionists together again
    • Missed the edit window. Oh well....

    • Eisner and Makovsky remind me of the German elites of 1932-1934. They saw what was happening - the fascism growing in their midst, the slow erosion of Democratic principles, even the beginning of the calls for ethnic cleansing, and for separation of the Arian race. But, on the whole, they did nothing to stop the monster, and many made all kinds of excuses for it, such as "it's really not a monster", or "don't worry, it'll all go away", or even, "it's just politics". Some excuses were more sensible than others, since Germany at that time was still reeling from the punitive measures post WWI. And the communist threat was cited over and over as the reason to be "on guard", to take "tough measures". You can hear those kind of excuses in Eisner's voice, who sees the threat to "zionism" as looming larger than any other. And in Makovsky who sees - infers - as Netanyahoo likes to do, "a clash of civilizations", which means, of course, endless conflict. This, just as some, once saw the threat to German identity. To the German nation. Communism played the role of the "old" looming 'clash of civilizations", spear-headed by those suspect "Slavs" and "Jews". Such arguments did find an echo among the average German, who felt all kinds of misgivings and apprehensions. At the time, much as there are Arab parties in Israel's knesset, there was a strong Communist party officially represented in the German parliament.

      At that time, the 1928-34 period, the call from the national Socialist German Worker's Party" (nicknamed later the "Nazi" party) was for a "Democratic and German national state", even if not always stated exactly that way. Sometimes, "Arian" was substituted for "German National" interests, slowly starting to erode the lines between who's the "in" group and who are the "out" groups. After all, many German Jews felt and were proud to be German too, and certainly felt themselves to be German nationals".

      Here is a quotation from the Jewish Virtual Library about the period preceding 1933:

      "In April, 1920, Hitler advocated that the party should change its name to the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). Hitler had always been hostile to socialist ideas, especially those that involved racial or sexual equality. However, socialism was a popular political philosophy in Germany after the First World War. This was reflected in the growth in the German Social Democrat Party (SDP), the largest political party in Germany.

      Hitler, therefore redefined socialism by placing the word 'National' before it. He claimed he was only in favour of equality for those who had "German blood." Jews and other "aliens" would lose their rights of citizenship, and immigration of non-Germans should be brought to an end.

      In February 1920, the NSDAP published its first programme which became known as the "Twenty-Five Points." In the programme the party refused to accept the terms of the Versailles Treaty and called for the reunification of all German people. To reinforce their ideas on nationalism, equal rights were only to be given to German citizens. "Foreigners" and "aliens" would be denied these rights.".

      Just look at this platform of 1920, and tell me if it doesn't reverberate with today's platforms emanating from israel. Then think again of people like Eisner, liberal zionists in good standing, just as there were many like her back in Germany, some who actively sought to arrest the rise of the nazi party, later to acquiesce and even justify.

      Then scroll forward a bit. to 1935. The year of the "Nurenberg laws" (with versions already being considered in the Kneset, if not yet fully enacted) and later, to the infamous Krystalnacht.

      Often we ask, why did the Germans people, especially their elites who saw what was happening, allow Hitler's rise? was it a collective insanity that took over the people/ was it ignorance that allowed it to happen? was it bitterness over being treated so badly by the allied victors? was it fear of communism?

      I think it's perhaps wise to start asking questions about the Eisners and the Makovskys of the jewish elite world in the US - and their cohorts in Israel proper. How can they not see what the plan really is for the Palestinians/ could they secretly support it? do they not care? are they overtaken with a form of nationalist, identity driven, psychopathology?

  • Netanyahu's craziness is calculated, to drive out Palestinians
    • I hope people pay serious attention to what Avigail has to say here. Not because the sanity/insanity of netanyahu is so much the issue but because netanyahu's policies represent what most israelis want, crazy or not. And what they want is to get the palestinians out, one way or another, hopefully relatively "humanely" (ie by causing a flight), but if that cannot be arranged soon enough, the "humane" part is dispensable. Unfortunately, based on all i read and see coming from israel, a majority of israelis it is, be it 60% or 80%, doesn't matter.

      Worse yet, the majority of the jewish establishment in the US and other Anglo neighborhoods, are as keen as ever to cover up what is really going on, though their representatives might deny they know what there is to know. IOW they plead "selective ignorance".

      What can we, who care about the fate of the palestinians do? that is the ultimate question. BDS is nice, but it is a slow process, one that is and will be fought aggressively by the PTB.

      AS others here have seen before, I do have some very simple ideas for what can be done. Simple as ideas but perhaps too aggressive in execution for some. One of the simplest ideas is, what I call, "personal BDS". WE don't need to wait till this or that corporate entity is on board. OR the EU finally deigns to label settlement products for what they are. WE can, each of us, as individuals a even if quite annonymopusly, if need be, pledge to practice a "form of maximal BDS". That means we minimize our dealings with israelis, even if they happen to be friends, family or colleagues. Doing the minimum means not going there for a visit, and if unavoidable, trying to stay at an Arab israeli village (and they have some great B&B's these days) rather than stay with family or hotel in Israel proper. For some of us, this means we stopped speaking Hebrew to Israelis ex or otherwise - and perhaps, instead of excuses, telling the truth. I think arguments with Israelis are pointless as many of us found out. There is no changing the minds of those who are enmeshed in a cult through the force of fact or logic. Personally I found it effective to just let people know why I do what I do and avoid what I avoid. Let them know in a way that closes the door on argument. I let people I know professionally know where I stand, as gently as I can, because some I actually like as people. IT seems to have an effect, even if it comes across as an insult.

      There are situations, I think, where friendships do not take precedence over justice.

      For those who don't know many israelis and have no plan of visiting or dealing with them, there are other avenues to bring the message home. More later.

  • 'Most-read' article at Washington Post calls Israel 'savage, unrepairable society'
    • Boycotting Israel is, in fact, the only way of getting across the message that state sanctioned barbarism has consequences. Boycott alone will not stop or eliminate the evil that lurks in the heart of Israelis over night. But it will make some take notice of the practical trade-offs for israel. This, in psychological parlance, is called behavior modification.

      At this point in time it is not yet easy to see the positive impact as most israelis are still in a state of denial and/or rage, with their elected officials and representatives resorting to foaming at the mouth, and their hasbara brigades in full hysteria mode. But as the boycott movement tightens and widens, as it becomes clear to israelis that they are indeed pariahs to the rest of the world, the choices they must make will become starker. I believe, a point will come when more and more israelis will start getting beyond the denial and rage phases and re-evaluate who and what they are as humans on this planet. I say that because I also believe that most Israelis do indeed care about the opinion of the world, especially as it reflects their good or bad opinions of themselves. This stage is what begins a transition into something more conducive to civilized behavior - both individually and collectively.

      In the meantime, the palestinians will indeed continue to suffer, but with the growing realization that their sufferings do not go unnoticed, and that each punishment inflicted upon them becomes a boomerang upon the perpetrators in the spiritual dimension. The alternative is to continue and suffer with no one to look or care. So the choice is, again, clear, and I am certain most Palestinians understand the stark choices before them.

      Of course, for the boycott to be effective it does need to become deeper and spread wider. It has to even include a chill in personal contacts with israelis, IMO. Basically ALL israelis and ALL the jews who support them in the west must process what price the occupation exacts. Not of them as mere citizens of a country, but of each and everyone as individuals with choices to make, a spirit to defend and a tradition to preserve.

    • MHuges - you do have a point the way you state it. It's just not the way I meant my point to be taken. I am asking for the assignation of collective guilt in the Now and in the Then and in the Soon for actions that were actually taken and inactions that were actually exercised allowing the reprehensible actions to be taken and to then be covered up and papered over. It is not the jews of 400 years from now that concern me, but the jews of the past 100 years and the next 50. Within our lifetimes or overlapping with them.

      Once, long time ago, before I lost faith in Elie Weisel the man, there was Elie Weisel the author, who wrote a book - "The man in the window" I believe it was called. I had many arguments with people as to whether the "man in the window" in that Hungarian town, looking down on the street as jews were rounded up and brutalized, had any responsibility for what happened and/or whether he should have had any guilt for what transpired. Some said to me - what could he do? rush into the street and get killed? but I was of the opinion that there was always more one could do than just watch through the window, or wave a gun. There are things one can do in he face of intolerable calamities that fall well short of suicidal. There is passive resistance. There is witnessing and photographing. There are letters that can be written. and for some there are just things they could choose to not do and not support.

      In an americaln context, this translates to who one cares to vote or not vote for. painful conversations one CAN engage in as opposed to avoid. Donations that can be made and not made. Trips to israel that can be taken or not. Many small actions that when undertaken by many will indeed have an effect.

      It is in the absence of the many such small actions that the guilt lies, I believe. I know for some it's just laziness or busyness. But for many it is indifference to the fate of others not like them. and for still many more, it is actually an approval of the direction israel is heading.

      What and who will feel guilty 200 years from now is another story. who should be feeling guilty now and for what is the real story, isn't it?

    • Thanks guys for the encouragement. Sometimes it's needed.

      And Ellen - about me and writing - problem is and always was - the ultimate goblin-maker - it's name is Time. I don't have enough of it, and so the goblins keep multiplying and running around, biting a little here and a little there, and sometimes all i can do is watch - in exasperation.

      Addendum - in case anyone is left wondering (other than the wandering Jew, Yonah, who never wonders out of his box) - yes, I happen to think that ultimately, it is the great jews of America, the lovers of a constitution they did not get to write but wish they did - it is them who history will hold as the guilty party for whatever it is that's about to befall the Palestinians that hasn't yet.

      I believe in collective guilt, if not punishment. The Germans did it. The Roman Church did - somewhat, if sheepishly. To some extent - albeit a limited one - the americans of today feel true remorse about what was done to the native indians. And the American Jewry - collectively - good and not so - are guilty as sin for not stopping the evil that has and is happening in Israel - in their name and with their - collective - support.

      I don't blame the NYT and WaPo for skimping on information. - they have to to survive. I don't blame sanders for turning into deaf and mute when it comes to IP - if he showed more care, well - we know his little "free" ride would be all but over. I do somewhat blame the language barrier for preventing Americans - jews included - from knowing what's in the heart of hearts of israelis. But truth is, I don't need to find excuses for any of it. Each and every jewish person in America is part and parcel of the occupation and the terrors it begets. They all know. They surely do - even when they avert their eyes, they know. Some do something to lift to burden and some do a lot. Some of course refuse to admit there's a burden in the first place. But it doesn't matter because in the end, none has done enough and none will. Even those who want to and try. Even you and me, whoever you are - wedid not do enough.

      So what can the rest of us - jewish and not - do that they haven't done enough of? perhaps demand that the Jews of the wrold -especially Americans, at least admit the crime and feel the guilt. Because it is theirs to carry, till the end of times. Because it's there - the guilt, for each of us to partake from. Watch congress blame the palestinians and cut their support - we elected them. Watch Kerry weave and turn away from the ill- wind. We elected this White house. Watch MSNBC's Snow twist left and right - we watched them and maybe wrote a little letter, but it wasn't enough. Watch the ones who were banned, tarred and feathered through the years. The ones we couldn't sve fro disrepute and firing and reputation smearing. Watch what happened to the NYT and PBS and NPR and every other public channel. We supported and watched these channels and may be called in, But we did not have the wherewithall to stop their descent into the abyss. Then after watching - carefully - tell me where the guilt lies. That before we even get to measure just how much has accumulated - while we watched.

    • Gavron is saying what I (and not a few others) have been pointing out for some time now, namely that the reality as seen from Israel is vastly different for those who read hebrew and those who don't.

      I know exactly what he means by calling attention to the savage, barbaric posts on Israel's Facebook and other social media. I see some of these every day. And I also see the ubiquitous calls for expelling/getting-rid-of the Arabs/Palestinians, made sometimes by a couple of commenters, who then get 10,000 likes. I see what they are sharing and what they are commending. I see references to discussions and talks and events and interpretations of events that raise the hair on the back of one's neck.

      Even the most casual reader of Facebook in Israel (the Hebrew one, of course) picking postings up at random on the "situation", will be aghast, if they hail from any civilized country. And that's not all. The vitriol heaped upon Obama is beyond the pale - postings that in the US may result in an arrest for hate speech and incitement to violence, get hearted in Israel. And these heart-awarders, are not just some young misguided men who have nothing better to do. They are ALL the nice people - the grandmothers, who other than posting pictures of cute grandkids and recipes, call outright for the worst punishments meted unto the "Arabs". Once, I thought of making a collage of "disgusting things said by gentle grandmothers", but luckily, no time or inclination for "collages.

      The truth is as Gavron said it and as did Peled, Abarbanel, Halper, Levy, Hass and a few, too few, other Israelis and ex-Israelis - Israeli society has descended deep into the heart of darkness. And no, the nice' Jews of the US, in their ever-cultured pretences to being part of a "great" religion, cannot follow them there, and will not, because instinctively they know what lurks in the dark. So, the "nice jews" of the "Tikun Olam" crowd, prefer their own little squabbles, on who is and who isn't admissible to their little club, and their soirees with panels where they can publicly decry the ghastly going-on-occupation with wails of the traditional Oy-vey, while the palestinians - and increasingly, Israeli Arabs - bear the brunt of the horrid hatefulness and abject violence heaped upon them by the lynch peddling residents of the "Holy land" who believe themselves to be somehow more "jewish" by being more "resourceful" in the soft-lynch , and crying-and-beating department.

      Don't believe me? just post something about MK Zoabi - In hebrew - on your own facebook and ask a couple of willing Israelis to share, as an experiment. I am pretty sure you'll be locking your house with nuts and bolts, if not moving altogether, shortly thereafter.

      PS yes, there are English readers in Israel - but they tend to be the worst, since they came from the worst the US had to offer. Israeli Americans form some of the most zealot infested settlements in the WEst Bank. That's why you are better off sticking to hebrew - might even get one of those nice grandmothers to invite you for some nice coffee-with-borsht, so she could show you the error of your ways and regail you with the Holocaust stories of others (that she read somewhere and adopted as her very own. Yes, israelis do do that and then some).

  • Coulter's point is that Republicans pander on Israel to win donors, not voters
    • Sanders has been super careful to say next to nothing about foreign policy in general. You can't pin him down on Syria, on Ukraine, on Russia or China. He does everything he can, short of dropping the microphone to avoid these topics.

      AS a politician, and given his crowd, I must say that's a smart move. All these foreign policy topics - each and every one of them, I/P not the least but not even the most - is likely to split his progressive audience like a knife. Sanders probably figures that the longer he can go without dropping into any of the foreign policy traps, the better for his standing and the more likely he is to keep his momentum, as well as an image of being "above' the fray.

      The reason i say this is smart is not because I buy into the platitudes sanders manages to conjure when confronted. I say it because i know very well - as do most people here - just how divisive something like Syria is, for exampe. WE have had threads going into the 100's just on this issue, and it's not hard to see the reasons why (or, not hard for me, at least, even if the reasons I may come with are not popular or proper to say in polite society). Then we have the question of the migrant explosion in Europe and the relentless bombing going on in Yemen. Can anyone make a public pronouncement on these topics that is not vanilla?

      The main problem for any politician to tackle the foreign policy issues, IMO, is simple - no matter where they stand on anything, they are still citizens of the Empire. To be too critical is to question the Empire, and that even before we get to something real tricky like the I/P question. Ron paul did just that - as does buchanan - and look how carefully they shunned him - both right and left. Ultimately, it is of course not possible to be a real progressive while supporting the projection of power that an Empire does. So even as the republicans can march in lock step with the most hawkish positions (more bombs! more boots!) a progressive candidate will have a serious issue. I suspect that ultimately, this is the shore on which sanders' candidacy will break.

      Alas, in the US, I don't think we are ready for someone like Corbyn.

  • I am Israeli
    • Elliot - good responses - and I too missed the exchange. Sometimes, great things happen in the comments section but are missed by many who do not necessarily read all the articles.

      As you know I second your experience and then some. And you are right about the process of peeling off the brainwashing layers being a long and oftentimes a painful one. When great prejudices are implanted in young minds, they grow roots and the branches grow out to touch and intertwine with the building blocks of identity itself. One prejudice wraps itself around another in a seemingly seamless tapestry, becoming effectively one. Trying to undo them uncovers endless knots some laden with moth balls, others hardened into a tumor like shell that lodged itself in vital organs.

      Perhaps the most obvious example is the way anti-palestinianism (which can start out as a relatively "simple" process of obliterating records of the indigenous people - at least the way this is taught to children), morphs in adulthood into general racism against people who are darker, and/or islam as a religion. Tackling one prejudice in an attempt to slap it down only leads to another popping up that one did not even realize was there.

      To me this became quite obvious when vising israel before Obama got elected. The prejudice against him as a black man (even if mixed) went really deep. I heard some of the strangest and sometimes viciously racist comments offered, unsolicited, from the mouths of the most civilized and educated people in Israel at the time. Comments that the most conservative republican in the deepest of the deep south would be ashamed to make aloud. Comments that the vast majority of jewish Americans (at least the non-orthodox) would not be caught dead uttering. But in Israel those epithets and snide comments rolled off the tongue, with nary a thought given to the fact they might be offensive. Yet, these were all "nice" people, who would be horrified to learn they share commonalities with the Ku Klux Klan.

      I may be further ahead of you, Elliot, in this process, but the place where I am now is kind of barren. De-programming cannot unfortunately be done successfully without nipping off some healthy tissue along with the diseased ones. Where there was a tumor once, there is now a scar, which refuses to heal. In rediscovering compassion for the Palestinians, I seem to have lost for example, some of my empathy for the jews of israel. I look for it sometimes, trying to feel a sense of spiritual "balance" but all I find is the cold surface of a hard shell. As I've written about before, the main casualties for me were my good memories of growing up in israel, and being happy enough much of the time. I lost almost all my original friendships and what's left is a field of humpty-dumpties where one walks on egg shells trying not to stir up dust blowing in from dark attics.

      Still, despite the losses there are gains, I should say. One discovers new people, new histories and makes new friends with fresh eyes, so the overall effect may be an enriching one. May be I just need to set up an appointment with Avigail Abarbanel. She might have a good apothecary for me to rummage through.....

  • Could Syria's revolution have been different?
    • Smart read of the political game plan, Bandolero. I also see them try to get a serious go at the US presidency, whether through republican or democratic channels. Right now, it's not looking too good for them, but lots of things can change come 2016.

      I think however that it's not only Obama the hawks don't have a full handle on. It's also the US military. There's huge resistance among the military leadership for any more adventurism. Also among the rank and file that are actually suffering from serious fatigue. Iraq and Afganistan cost a lot in terms of moral. Even if hardware can be replaced, the spirit is another matter. Through my own military channels I hear absolutely no clamoring for any boots on the ground anywhere. Even if the politicos and military appointees sing a different tune.

      As for wielding the power of money, you are right on the money again. Clearly, the hawks realized that ultimately it's China and Russia that stand in their way. So plans are afoot indeed to cow both, one way or another. Though, if truth be said, the hawks have their work cut out for them as neither Russia not China are run by idiots. Plus those two countries don't have to deal with the slowness of the democratic process to respond quickly. In the meantime, the PTBs succeeded in driving Russia and China into each other's arms, a process that has yet to fully play out. When it does, and I am sure it will, the hawks may find they were too clever for their own good.

      One small example from the Chinese side - something I read about: the Chinese may not be unhappy at all to see their stock market take a little dive. If anything they were seriously concerned about too many people putting money into the stock market rather than into consumption, which they need to spur the domestic economy. By tamping on the stock market, confidence took a dive, and more Chinese are choosing to put money elsewhere, which is not a bad thing. Kind of like the decline in the value of the ruble - sure did a heck a of a job bolstering manufacturing, consumption and export.

    • Bandolero, I share your reading of the situation, especially the Southern Front flop, as well as the growing impatience of the Europeans seeing how they are now at the receiving end of the refugee tides.

      The only questions have to do with what hand are the hawks holding. They won't fold so easily, alas, and we should expect some desperate measures from that corner.

      My own sense of wonderment is compounded by the tone deafness of our policy creators and disseminators. Surely, they all knew that Syria is a line in the sand for Russia, just as Crimea was, and as Nato in the Ukraine is. Yet, on our TV screens, newspapers of record and NPR stations (not to mention the right wing ones) we continue to see and hear a steady barrage of disemlers of nonsense and sing-songers of the eternal punch line "Assad must go". It's the final word in any exchange between pundits, each more ignorant and shrill than the other. The signs of desperation are mounting, even as the European unity is crumbling.

      Me, i just like to wonder - what will they do next to stop Obama from talking to Putin (followed by green lighting inter military co-ordination). And what can the KSA and israel (together and apart) pull out of the ever-shrinking bag of tricks?

    • IProyect - again I ask - are you a paid shill for saudi Arabia/Israel/US neocon-humanitarian?

      Something is seriously wrong with all your posts here. So far, let's see - you have denounced individual commenters as:

      1. Baathist propagandist (2-3 times)
      2. Assad worshippers/pimpers
      3. crypto-stalinists (I put the crypto in there, just to be helpful)
      4. Goon defenders

      Did I miss anything?

      More tell-tale signs of being on payroll of certain PTBs (here, there, elsewhere) - twisting the screen names of posters who bring timely information debunking the talking points (signs of desperation - paymasters may not be pleased!).

      Examples: bimbolero, beezelbaboolero (did I get the spelling right? must be a new twist on "beelzebub" a famous biblical demonite. Or was it kryptonite?).

      Finally, when that does not get a rise, try accusing people of being "sock puppets" as Iproyect has just referred to annie. A case of projection, obviously.

      Are things really that dire, Iproyect? we could start a fund raiser for you, if it'll help, you know...

    • Annie, fantastic links from you and some serious excellent googling too. All nicely condensed to put IProyect where he belongs - the neocon (now morphed into "humanitarian" interventionist) chair.

      I agree he does not do a very good job for the crowd promoting the regime change meme. May be IProyct is lazy as he does not answer any of the substance brought before him. Seems to resort to instantaneous name calling (Bandolero the local "Assad and/or baathist propagandist", "Assad apologist", etc.). He cites poorly researched snippets from sources that are easily found on line and readily debunked. That when he is not putting out one-liners casting aspersions on any and all who would seek to debate his points.

      I wonder whether he is actually paid to spread some of these false memes on-line. We know the progressive Saudi regime has been funding and paying a lot of these "democracy promoting" institutes as well as generously supporting - selectively - various publications. What makes me wonder whether he is actually paid - one way or another - is the simple fact that his heart does not seem to be in the astute defense of regime changers world wide. He does not check the references brought in front of him, or reads widely, or even make a single enlightening point about Syria as an actual country with actual people. rather it seems he is trying to cobble together a few talking points, issue them without his own analysis, then, when called upon the falsity of some of his claims, dismissing the responders as 'apologists" and whatever other names he gets from his shill notes.

      Very similar methods to those used by the zionist promoting crowd. Almost verbatum sometimes.

    • I love it when I see some like K Renner hold themselves up as bastions and dispensers of "moral authority", as the strive to criticize - quite selectively - certain tyrants and despots. That while ensconced in the comfort of a cushy chair or plush sofa, somewhere 1000's of miles away from the conflict zone, with nary a friend, relative or acquaintance who might, just might, be subjected to the downsides of "regime change".

      This is what they did when they - and we know who they are - advocated removing the great dictator sadaam, later to wash their hands clean as a whistle from the blood of 100's of thousands, their "moral authority' managed to dispose of (on top of over million wounded and many more dispossed). Compared with what the war criminal gangs of Bush (yes, those neocons) and now a similarly criminal gang inside the Obama administration , have done to destroy countless lives and countries, frankly, some of them "tyrants" look quite good by comparison. What has Assad for example done that in any way comparable in atrocity, blood thirstiness and destruction brought forth and promulgated by the current Obama regime minions, for example?

      Could you blame anyone in Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Mali or Afganistan were they to call for the immediate arrest and trials of the Washington and new York humanitarian tyrants, who caused countless loss of life and continue to advocate for more? the ones who brought about the refugee migration we now see?

      In my simple mindedness, I tend to measure "moral authority' against the number of lives the promulgators of mayhem and destruction are happy to sacrifice,. What authority "moral" or otherwise, bloody-minded individuals like Renner and Iproyect have, I can't begin to imagine. But they must be pulling it out from somewhere, may be a place of fervent imagination re their own selves position in the world.

      The most outrageous part of the hypocrisy we see on display, not just here but all over the MSM, is the way the humanitarian-murder-minded regime changers manage to never call out the worst tyrants and mayhem perpetrators in the world today. That includes the Saudi "kings", the Emiratis, the Bahraini chief henchmen. Oh yes, and while we are at it, add to the murderous hordes they unleash, these inventers and financiers of ISIS and Al-Quaeda, a few "democratically elected" ones - be they in Israel or Turkey. perfectly fair, if it is dead bodies we are counting.

      Something tells me that neither Renner nor Iproyect would be so nonchalant about "regime change" were it they and their family lives on the line. Just a wild guess there.

    • Great comments Keith (you are now branded as a "Putin Apologist" - congrats! almost as good as the AS tatoo - -).

    • Iproyect, actually it is you who has little credibility on these matters. I don't recall you ever showing much gravitas or matters of Syria, Lebanbon, Iran or anything Middle east other than israel.

      Even if you had shown any powers of analysis (which in this case you haven't - spreading opinionated droppings does not qualify), [....]

      Bandolero and piotr in particular (just to mention two here) have offered especially illuminating viewpoints that seem to derive from sources as varied as the Middle east itself.

      I don't know whether the author of this piece, Charles Glass, is jewish or not. I usually try to read things without knowing - at first. Then, if and when I note comments or gratuitous set-asides that call attention to some things omitted and/or some things over-emphasized (example - the great western-style democratic aspirations of the Syrian people. Really?) then I look deeper into who the writer is and what their associations are. One particular item that always gets my ears perk up is mention of certain NGOs, or sources that are funded by them (like the infamous misnomer "Syrian Observatory" operating from a house in London, mostly a one man operation that is primarily "humanitarian interventionist" source funded).

      In any case, bandolero appears to be extremely well-informed and roundly so, especially on Syria matters. Everything he writes conforms with what I read or know about from my sources. Should he turn out to be Jewish (in whole or in part - and I am decidedly not asking),I'll be surprised (for the reasons outlined above) but the tribe should be most proud and I should add pronto a name to my not very long list of exceptions (that prove the rule).

  • 'NYT' misrepresents Iran's prediction about 'Zionist regime' to mean 'Israel'
    • DGF - why is it so important for israel to remain a "Jewish" state? haven't the past 50 years demonstrated that this is the last thing the Jews of Israel need?

      There are, I believe, traps set well within the heart of hearts of the jewish religion - traps that are set to spring the minute the concentration of jewish people reaches a critical mass. The traps are of their own making, a direct result of adherence to a somewhat distorted history and to a concept that is anachronistic in the modern world - that of choseness. Many smart and some even wise - jews debated over centuries, "chosen for what, exactly". May be some suspected a Trojan horse. May be others got a whiff of something not quite "kosher". Be it as it may, it's a trap, one of several, hidden in plain sight of the bible, talmud and the holy/not so holy writings of the great rabbis.

      And being as I see that kind of clearly (though more needs to be said on the nature of the 'trap") it has been my contention for some time now that the jews of Israel need the Palestinians to become whole. Only that way lies redemption and a sense of peace. Only with the Palestinians, can Israel become Denmark, a promised land of something. In the same way, though for different reasons, the Palestinians need to live with the jews under a common fate, to find their own version of peace.

      just saying....(sorry, I have no proof of pending redemption .....but the possibility is there - for a while, at least).

    • Elliot, I admire your temperateness. I know i couldn't hold my tongue/pen in the face of dissembling disseminations of someone like Debakr. I no longer have the patience to wade through the cluttered consciences of the apologists. Put a note for you on your very own thread (and a well deserved one it was, too).

      BTW, the tell tale sign of a hopleless clash, athe heart of the Gordian knot, is when they get to the pressing question of questions: "do you or don't you believe in Israel's right to exist". This is waved like a Democles sword, ready to come down on all and sundry. FWIW, I stopped answering this question a while back, when i realize it's not really a question.

  • Over 1,000 Black activists, scholars and artists sign statement supporting freedom and equality for Palestinian people
    • Jhitchcock: I'll take you up on this - since you keep bringing it up (and thanks Unverified above for your take) - using one sample from your collections of writings:

      PALESTINIAN BDS leaders, including Abunimah, Barghouti, and many others very forcefully and publicly disavowed Atzmon and don’t want anything to do with him because of his antisemitic rhetoric.

      You keep bringing up Barghoutti and Abunimah as "proof" that palestinians are FOR the shunning of those JVP - or rather, your corner of JVP (and, for the record, I am not sure how big this corner is) considers problematic. This is a strawman argument if there ever was one. Both Abunimah and Bargoutti, by virtue of being in leadership positions on BDS, and because they don't want to risk losing the support of the well-off Jewish groups in the US who have come - after much cajoling - to support BDS, come under huge pressure to stake positions on so-called 'anti-semitism" (a term that jennifer seems to have taken ownership of, here, by virtue of a secret anointment as an authority). Several Palestinian individuals, prominent in the leadership were, for all intents and purposes FORCED to renounce Atzmon, as well as Greta Berlin, and now Weir, surely with no small amount of barely veiled threats of withdrawal of support. I would not be surprised to find out that some Palestinian activist leaders thought that going along with these "little" all-jewish witch-hunts of a few individuals, is probably a small price to pay in return for BDS getting a megaphone on US campuses and inside the liberal jewish establishment. I fear, of course, that time may prove them wrong, because this kind of denouncement and shunning tactics may start out with a few individuals but the actual target is much larger.. It's actually a BIG price to pay, since the blackmail will never stop. Weir is just the first move to go after those who go after the lobby (which is something that's obviously poised to happen).

      A few more points here (offered humbly by one who alas, has not taken a single rhetoric class):

      1. Barghoutti and Abunimah and perhaps a few more leaders are only some of the palestinian voices. For every one well known Palestinian who, by virtue of being publiclly andv isibley associated with the Palestinian solidarity movement are subject to pressure, there are 100's more Palestinian voices, some known, many less so and many more still who must remain annonymous and/or silent (for fear of being persecuted - a distinct possibility if they live in israel. More insiduously so if they live in the US) whose opinions are solidly in the camp of those opposing the exile of people like Weir, Berlin, Blankfort, and Atzmon. You Jennifer, comfortably enconced in your rhetoric department, know absolutely nothing of what most Palestinians think or where they are on issues like the ones discussed here; yet you profess to speak for them, waving two names over and over, like a flag. Using these two names as a "killer" argument to rally some "legitimacy" to your side. Some day, you should perhaps ask the devil himself (Atzmon) just how many Palestinians encourage him, speak to him, buy his book, and generally find his persecution to be on par with their own.

      Long time ago, I read a story about a German priest (I am not 100% sure he was german, but that's what I remember ), who of his own volition, chose to be deported with the Jews to the concentration camp, where he died, suffering their fate with them. For many Palestinians, this is, figuratively if not literally, what Atzmon chose to do - in his own way. March with the persecuted to experience persecution himself, and in the process, out the many tentacles of them who made common cause with the persecutors. Some very nice activist people, all heart, all spirit, come out of the woodworks when the name Atzmon is mentioned. Funny that. But bear in mind that many Palestinians (who cannot be all named publicly and will not wish to be "outed") appreciate his sacrifice, making himself a target (disclaimer - no, I am not trying to make Atzmon into a jesus figure - he would laugh at me all the way to kingdom come, if I did. But as I said before, imagination is a tough cross to bear>>>>).

      2. Just how much do you think Barghoutti or Abunimah know or care about the American brand of "white supremacy"? another flag you seem to keep waving, and not coincidentally, at Weir, even going as far as conjuring a radio interview from many years ago. And why exactly is it is the palestinians' job to weigh in on the jewish pilpul on what "anti-semitism" is or isn't , was or wasn't (and yes, I always put it into quotation marks for a reason). Why, would it next be a requirement that the history of anti-semitism bin Europe be taught as a de-rigeur course in West bank schools so their children ca nfeel bad when they throw stones at the storm troopers who torment their families?

      BTW, much skewed European "teaching" are required in Arab Israeli schools.

      3. You, jhitchcock have not been assigned or provided with the absolute authority to pick and choose "anti-semites" like a bird picks seeds. You keep mentioning "the protocols". Now what about those, exactly? is that the definitive treatise on the issue? and how are you so sure you have been provided with the secret smell-sniffing tools to get a whiff of an "anti-semite" should one get too close to you? can you share with us perhaps the training manuals? is there a widget we too can buy that would give us all that uniquely fine-tuned sense of smell? can my dog, with his excellent sniffing skills be trained to sniff them out? just asking, because you seem to be such an expert on the subject.

      BTW, on this last one - a hint (again): please learn Hebrew then take a trip to israel. There, on the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa you'll find the world's greatest collection of rabid anti-semites (no quotation marks this time) in the fully irrational, racist sense. They really do despise each other there in ways you couldn't even fathom. If you want, I'l leven lend you my dog to take with you. He is really good at sniffing, in any language, and is eager to learn new skills! just be sure to bring him back since it took years to get him to tolerate cats and kittens (secret sniffer that he is).

      PS my heart-felt apologies for yet another overly long post. No time to chop down.....

    • Yonah, begin was a follower of the criminally minded Zhabotinsky, who called for pretty much anything just barely short of outright genocide against Palestinians. In Israel they actually name streets after that guy and give awards in his name. It was the Israeli people who elected prime ministers who followed Zhabotinsky's fascist inhumane calling and supported the terrorism he called for. In fact, they instituted it outright, causing the murder of countless human beings, all in the name of "Am Israel Chai".

      And to this day, a majority of people in israel, secular ones, people who consider themselves to be otherwise good people, they read, follow and even admire the preachings of this fascist individual.

      Then they proceed to whitewash his name in the west so they can continue to be schnorers off the American taxpayers.

  • Roundtable on the Palestinian solidarity movement and Alison Weir
    • On a different direction - First a quote from tree (up-thread, maybe the 4th comment):

      tree August 16, 2015, 10:03 pm

      interesting side note: In Amith Gupta’s piece he cites this passage from the JVP FAQs section to compare their own questionable identity politics with Weir’s

      Q: Why are you a Jewish group? Can’t you just be a peace group?

      “A: … “Because we are Jews, we have a particular legitimacy in voicing an alternative view of American and Israeli actions and policies. As Jews, we can make the distinction between real anti-Semitism and the cynical manipulation of that issue to shield Israel from legitimate criticism.

      This later disappeared from JVP site, but I assume the sentiment expressed in the Answer still stands, and we see it in fact reflected in many of jhitchcok's answers.

      My comment: I seriously question the special "legitimacy [as Jews] in voicing an alternative view of American and Israeli actions and policies" I question that principally because I believe American jews understand very little about Israel in general and Israeli Jews in particular. In fact, I would go further and say that American Jews (can't speak for the English variant but suspect it's similar) are uniquely ill-suited to either understand Israel, or Israelis, or be successful in countering israel's actions. Just because there is a tenuous connection running through the thread "Jewish" does not mean the two groups - Israelis and Jews outside - have not parted company, and are in fact on fast diverging trajectories.

      For one thing - think about this: the vast majority of American jews cannot speak Hebrew or understand it when spoken or read in it or, indeed, comprehend the dynamics of a language that has a vocabulary that's 20 times smaller than English. Neither are most israelis (who do not hail from anglo background) speak English or read it with any great comfort or fluency. They can use it as tourists, or get an easy joke, or follow a simple script but that's about it. I know that because I was there. And all you who have studied Spanish in school know exactly how helpful it was for carrying on an in depth conversation in that language. The separation of language goes deep - it means that American jews do not read the haaretz in hebrew or the Israeli facebook posts or follow the daily racuous bpolitical back and forth. They know little of what is of concern to actual israelis, be it thier own rapidly increasing inequality or the endemic corruption that screams every day from the headlines. They know little about the gigantic gap, actually a canyon, between the religious - who are taking over, and the seculars. Or the equally deep separation between ashkenazi and mizrahi descendants. They don't know how torn apart israel is along different constituencies - and that's before we even bring Arabs into the mix.

      Yet, knowing nothing they propose "solutions", profess to speak to Palestinians about "anti-semitism" (which means zilch in an Israeli context), and strive to limit terms of discourse in the US. I realize many JVP'ers are no doubt thinking/hoping that Gideon levy/Amira hass/Uri Avnery/and another 20 or so are somehow representative of a group that's greater than 20-30,000 max in the entire country (OK, I am assuming many of the disaffected along these lines moved out of israel, thinning the numbers further). They - the well-meaning jews of America and groups like JVP - know not a tiny bit more than any other non-Jewish American. In fact, the latter may know more, because they sometimes take pains to learn more.

      Therefore, I have maintained for some time now, that -groups that profess to speak - as Jews - to thereby garner "legitimacy", are in fact unqualified to take the lead role in the struggle FOR Palestinian rights. The palestinians who are over there, not over here. The Palestinians who have to deal with israelis as they are, not as we imagine them to be. IMO, the key ingredient missing in the jewish peace goulash is humility. The kind of humility that accepts one's role as an outsider to the conflict, something that just about every non-Jewish American does. The absence of humility means that people ascribe success to actions that produce some noise in the US for example, but do next to nothing to get Israel to move one iota in a more humane direction. All these discussions about BDS - outside and within the Green lines - the two vs one state, the so-called "anti-semitism" - it's all just white noise to the Israelis.

      What the movement really needs are people who are more thoughtful, less arrogant and truly interested in helping the plight of palestinians, or for that matter the plight of an America that lost control of its foreign policy (ie, its empire - you hear that, keith?). people who are jewish and not, Arab and not, white and not, even ex-israelis here and there. People who are perhaps a bit less doe-eyed about "peace" and more inclined for affecting actual, real change on the ground. There are obviously many such people on these boards. I think we should perhaps archive this great discussion precipitated by the banishing of Weir, and start thinking more pro-actively and perhaps productively. For myself, I says, young/old, white/not-white, guy/not guy, sort-of-left/sort-of-right, should all be welcome if they agree on some basic goals and are willing to contribute productively, even if they disagree on all kind of other issues . I don't mind it if I have to make common cause with, say, yonah, even if we disagree on much, as long as we agree on what the central goal is - not to save the jews, who obviously need no saving at this point, but to save the Palestinians, who obviously do.

      How's that?

    • Annie, and there I was imagining all kind of nefarious scenarios, or heaven forbid - possible fatigue on your or someone else's part. The thought that you might actually be human - the outrage!

      Anyways, no problem here. Just glad my replies saw the light of day. Wouldn't want people to think I cut and run, not when the target of 1000 comments is well in sight.

    • irishmoses - great analysis.

      Except that I think it's gotten worse - the zio-libs, having figured out we are on to them, have been surrepticiously moving into the more "progressive", BDS/one-state-supporting groups. After all, JVP and USC do claim to support a "one state", or at least are disclaiming being wedded to the ephemeral "two states". And in so doing they put pressure (a great deal, I suspect) on the palestinian movement leaders like Bargoutti and Abunimah to endorse their view of "who is and who isn't a closet anti-semite" (notice how the "anti-semites" now have to be fished out of closets!). This is really a subversion from within, or a kind of COINTEPRO, if you want. The whole sad spectacle of anonymous denounciations from JVP and USC can't possibly be of any benefit whatsoever for Palestinians, so by a process of elimination, we can figure out who or what the intended beneficiaries are.

      Also, for some reason I keep thinking of the Chinese cultural revolution. May be there's something to be learnt from both tactics and execution - with special attention to the end-goal - which was to squash any true independent thought, especially among its best and brightest and most idealistic. In the process, China that was set to start emerging out of its earlier revolution to a more pragmatic state, sank back into a ditch for many years, traumatizing two generations in the process. While the battles of zionism cannot be directly compared with the tribulations of Chinese communism, aspects of control exercised from both above and below bear some comparison. Just a thought here, as all human movements tend to havetheir Kafkaesque sides, which they can sink into or rise above.

      I guess what I am trying to say is that what happened here with JVP is a canary song in the mines. A harbinger of the battle lines moving from the more-or-less-left (where zionism is losing the liberals) to the left-of-the-left (there to capture some progressive flesh). In many ways I expected that. Unfortunately, I expect even more pressure on Palestinians who are in the forefront of the battle, especially as clearly the new "anti-semite' fishing campaign is not having much success with most of us here.

      Eternal vigilance, I says. And do keep analyzing (muttering as she trepsies off to the zoo to watch peculiar pachyderm customs - and get tips from the lions).

      And let us remember that the idea is that in the end, we'll have no idea of who really is on which side. You know, the Empire of Chaos.

    • Keith, this thread is hard to resist, isn't it? your previous comment I liked too - and agreed with, largely - though alas, it's gotten too difficult to dig things out of the first 500 comments page.

      Indeed, since the mixture of holocaust, anti-semitism (the "irrational" version), faux-biblical historicism (with a dash of histrionics), zionism and (hidden under the carpet) privilege, works so well, why cast any of the ingredients aside?

      You should look in some time (if you haven't, which I doubt, since you seem to look far and wide) on the Chicago School of Economic, where gave us such great neo-liberalism couched with the respectable sounding "new classical economics". Worked great for some people....

    • tree the awesome! if only I could get you to be my "straight-"man", I know it would be an unbeatable act! might even help save a [olive] tree or two....

    • So, Tokyobk

      Since O'keefe falls afoul of the purity standards do you think we could get you, who are no doubt pure, to go hugg an olive tree? if you did, do you think those "other Jews" (also known as israelis) would hesitate just a little longer before sending in the buldozers?

      And if we had, you, a purely-un-bigot go up against the Lobby with your purity-department-approved slingshot at hand, do you think we could get the US to not veto a Palestinian state in the UN?

      because, you know, if you were to show me how greater purity is all it would take to save just one more olive tree from the hatchet, much less one more child's life, I would be all for purity. Heck - I would use my study notes (painstakingly collated from your lectures) to go and preach the word!

      PS sorry for making two points when I promised to make just one! unpure me!

    • W.Jones, just so you know: the Ken insertion was not without forethought (or malice? ouch!). Lo and behold - did I catch a mouse or not? and it roars too!

      If only Weir were weirder!

      If only Walt and Meirsheimer were not so professorial!

      If only Gilad did not play jazz!

    • tokyobk - the inclusion of O'Keefe was a present, left outside on the threshold, just in case a passer-by would want to pick it up. Lo and behold, you did - and then some!

      And while turning it over and examining this undesired object of derision, you gave us all a master class - through 8 or more comments (who's counting?) - on how to divert a point [or a conversation} and score a few shots on the fly.

      As a faithful student of yours, let me just ask one question

      1. how did you get from here (here being my musings on elephants and such) to there? (there being the almost-all-inclusive "anti-semitism" club)?

      2. If I were to use my study-notes (which I assembled from your class) and share them with a select group of palestinians, waiting, as we speak, in the sweltering summer heat of a checkpoint mozying along through the cattle turnsteels, do you think they would learn a thing or two on how not to be {"anti-semitic"} and would it help quench their thirst for a drop of of that "happiness, liberty and justice for all" bucket list?

    • having looked through some of the more recent comments, as well as some older ones (and impressed with the quality of many) it became very noticeable that the conversation came to revolve around the usual canard of 'anti-semitism" - what it is, may be, would have been, was once, can never be except for, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Needless to say, most of us here see straight through the pilpul (and unfortunately, when it comes to the so-called "anti-semitism" accusation, pilpul is all we can engage in, even the best of us, the word itself being loaded and used as a weapon of mass distraction). Doesn't matter, we still get sucked in, because the weapon used against people who try to do some good in this world (Carter, Berlin, Weir, Sheehan, McWright, Finkelstein, O'Keefe, and many more named and unknown) is irressistable. Even though we know it's a false flag operation, a cover for either gatekeeping or redirection or outright subversion, it is still difficult to ignore and move on. And so the conversation continues, sometimes insightful - as when it touches on larger issues of racism and ethnocentricity among humans, sometimes circuitous, but always belabored and intellectual/spiritual fatigue inducing.

      As some have said, notice what we are not talking about - the real, truly gigantic elephant in the room - the one smiting any campaign to actually help real Palestinians, should such campaign display the slightest chance of success. As the comfortable and privileged speak with great certainty about matters they claim to be of import (such as "anti-semitism"vs "white supremacism" vs "jewish entitlement to be the voice of authority on whatever the cudgel-de-jour to is"), as they behold their own activism to be a paragon of virtue, actual, real palestinians in Gaza are locked in a ghetto by "those other jews" (known as Israelis) there to be deprived of sustenance, liberty and often life. They do the dying as we all do the talking about "things that are important to the activist Jews of America". Later, as more of them will have suffered, and more will have died, and much more land and water taken from the west bank, Jennifer Hitchcok will do more "BDS activism on campus" and continue to argue about the many meanings of anti-semitism and what it all mean in the context of whether or not this or that figure should be ostracized from the "movement".

      Back to the giant elephant now (or is it a shark?) - the Lobby the name of which can barely be spoken because, after all, it's a lobby just like "any other lobby". The question I want to ask the elephant is how to make it go away for a while, long enough for the US to at least uphold palestinian statehood in the UN - as a start. An extremely modest start. So modest that there can be no conceivable reason it was not taken other than that darn elephant. Which of course, is an elephant like any other elephant, and we should really be talking about how bad the ivory trade is for humanity, and of course, all elephants. We are, you see, allowed to speak of the shrinking habitat of elephants (due to rampant "anti-semitism"), but not of putting elephants to pasture, as that would be - yes, you guessed it - anti-semitic.

      Alas, this one elephant, which we are told, is really a member of an endangered species, keeps stinking up the joint, to put it politely. Yet, we cannot admit to having gotten a whiff of the unsavory scent, as that would be - yes! - "anti-semitic"! practically a conspiracy. Fancy that! denying the elephant its right to natural bodily functions, and perhaps even caught in the act of sniffing, a gesture of distaste, or god forbid, pulling out a kerchief.

      But, you see? the elephant is really an innocent creature, having wandered into our rooms where debates about "peace" are raging, probably by mistake. If some of us have problems with maintaining a straight face about all that sweet smell of "peace' and actually suggest moving the elephant to a more suitable enclosure along with other members of its species (there to graze with NRA, Big Pharma and little Monsanto), we are told emphatically - no! for one thing, the elephant is not really all that big, for another, it does not smell any worse than any other pachyderm. Besides, who said there was an elephant in the room in the first place? a bunch of white, old guys who see conspiracies everywhere? after all, it's the fault of the Empire that the elephant (that is not there and does not smell) even wandered in (if it did, which it didn't), chased out of its ever-shrinking habitat, by raving brutes (yes, those white old guys many from the southern hunting horde) wielding their spears with tips dipped into that anti-semitic poison brew. What next? are they going to hunt the poor elephant down and kill it with an arrow like poor Cecil the lion?

      So, many of us - having realized that we may not be old, white or guy enough, and really don't much care for hunting any creature large or small, we leave the room to get a little fresh air. We, outside the room of "peace' that smells a bit, speak amongst ourselves about how nice it would be to get that elephant to more appropriate place - a nice zoo, if not a circus. Because no, releasing it back into the wild would not be such a good thing - too late for that, it might stomp on the wrong creatures, or it might get lost or worse.

      Later, we may retire to a bar (frequented by oh so white, of so old, oh so not jewish enough) where, after a couple of beers, we may discuss the true nature of reality - is it the empire or the emperor that had no cloths?

      In the meantime, another Palestinian was shot in the back, a baby burnt, kids arrested, village raised, water denied.

    • Annie, just as an aside - when the comment is on the first page, you can no longer get to it directly - clicking the link that would otherwise bring up the specific discussion now just gives this second page. It's a fluke in the software I suspect. May be one that's not been discovered so far because there was no other thread that had to go to a second page since the new website went up.

      May be you could try it and see whether I'm right?

      If so, it makes the first page effectively closed for further discussion or replies since it's too time consuming to scroll through the entire thread. In any case, i doubt that's intentional.

    • it is now 650. Annie to the Hall of Fame.

      Too bad there's no OFM (Olympics for Moderators).

    • tree, a tour de force keeper. Love your summaries (or are they "briefs"?)

    • +3 genesto

      +1 (then some) stephen

    • Keith - bold you may be, but there is much truth in what you say. The reinvention of secular jewish tribalism has indeed worked miracles to propel jews into the modern new madarins class of the west. And like you say, since when has any mandarin class given up its privileges peacefully? so why would the the jewish mandarins give up the pillars on which their success rests?

      But, that being said, and the cynic in me is certainly not spoiling for an unwinnable fight, there is something to be said for redemption too. I plead guilty to reading marc Ellis' takes with some attention. He is, IMO, right on the money when he calls out the Empire Jews, for being part and parcel of the power game that is the empire, sometimes dictating it, sometimes along for the ride, but always tied at the hip to it, The Empire.

      Like all Empires however, this American one too, will decline, a process that is already under way. And just like happened with good old Rome, the mandarin class will not be able to reinvent itself, any more than mandarins ever could. IT is then that redemption will be sought. The only question is - do the Palestinians have that much time?

      Hence the sense of urgency, and hence the importance of Allison Weir's work. Her research and books hasten the day that the fissures in the fabric of Empire become all to visible. No matter how hard the mandarins toil in desperately trying to stitch it all up, the threads are fraying further every day.

      Sorry, I didn't mean to be an annoying prophet but you are such a bringer of despair!

    • Mooser - on your "inside-out" concept of Atzmon. I think you have hit it there fairely well. Atzmon is as intense as all Israelis are, and just as prone to sarcasm (it's practically a national trait). When he found out that much of the ideals he was raised on were bogus he flipped inside-out as you said. Trouble is once one gets into the habit of hanging out dirty laundry in public, it's kind of hard to stop - not enough washing machines out there. In israel a state of righteous rage is the rule, not the exception. Flipping the direction of the rage so it's back at the source, does not make it less of a rage or less righteous. It's also the nature of rage that it tends to get dispersed - or else one gets burnt to a crisp. One can get seriously addicted to such a state, I hear, and yes, it can cloud a good argument.

      How do I know? because I suffer from some of the same syndrome myself. I don't think a cure has been found yet. On the plus side, nothing like a state pf perpetual rage to keep oneself eternally young....there's even a patent on some such potion, I think.

    • Hostage: "I think that I’ve always made it crystal clear that I consider ankle biting, back stabbing, and navel gazing to be sophomoric behaviors, whether they are being displayed among Palestinians, Jews, or so-called solidarity activists. "

      Well said - the sophomoric part, especially. Smart people behaving in silly ways - the fatal flaw of the left - always and forever looking for that purity thing.

      Why is it that in any social protest movement, these behavior patterns become so common? is this something inherent to "progressive" DNA? or is it because the meeting place where "progressive", "individualist" , "leftist", "liberal", "humanist" and sometimes "nationalist" (in the broad sense) brush against each other is inherently uncomfortable because it challenges identity?

      Sometimes one envies those on the side of the right, especially the religious right - they have such unanimity!

    • Wise words, Pixel. Good quote from Nin too.

      There is indeed a mixture of very good comments here from all directions. I too try to read through the comments of people I fiercely disagree with or strongly feel they are in the wrong on this or any other issue. People like jhitchcock and Donald, to cite a few. It helps crystallize my thoughts on why some can be so very wrong and/or deeply so mired in conscious misunderstanding of what the issues really are. I am especially interested in the phenomenon of tone deafness, something unique to the human species (as far as I know, no other sentient beings having revealed themselves so far). Something all too common to the I/P debates, but something that is also clearly manifested on other issues, such as the strange phenomenon of "humanitarian" intervention, that almost always turns out to be an exercise in murderous destruction (cf. Syria, Libya, Iraq). Still, it's important to see where the censorious part of JVP is coming from, a place so deeply stuck in a murky distant past that it actually blocks the very path forward they profess to support.

      Like you, I hope Phil, in particular, will find the time and spiritual stamina to wade through the comments here, if not now, then sometime in the future. I say that knowing that he does care about the Palestinians' cause, and I believe Adam does too, as this entire web site proves. But it is at the same time important to come to terms with the most formidable obstacles on the way from here to there. And the biggest obstacle to redemption of the jewish people - in the US, the world or in Israel - is the jewish people. A redemption that can only come from freeing the Palestinians to determine their own future and from coming to terms with the abominable crimes of the past.

      The circling of the wagons, the calling upon protocols, the need by some to shun others, the ascribing and projecting of ill-intentions based on one's own fears, backed by the flimsiest of proofs, only serve to show that redemption, such as is ultimately needed, is still well beyond the horizon. But I also think that threads like this, the variety of places and thoughts people put forward, can at least help in divining the contours of that horizon. A necessary, if not sufficient condition to going eventually beyond.

    • W. Jones: "Her critics are legitimately and sincerely sensitive about anti-Semitism".

      I beg to differ - there is nothing legitimate or sincerely sensitive in those critics hyperventillating about some supposed "anti-semitism". These are people who see ghosts everywhere they go. They are busy throwing this, that or the other person into herem, claiming they can smell "whiffs" of something that only they can smell.

      I am not sure whether all this hoopla about "anti-semitism" is disingenuous gambit to dictate the terms of activism - supposedly on behalf of palestinians, but really to maintain their privileged standing as - to use marc Ellis' term - Jews of the Empire. Or there is genuine paranoia about what will happen to jewish power in America (and all the other Anglo countries) is everyone knew just how much parts of that power worked to subvert American policy, and indeed hasten the decline of the American Empire itself.

      I can't tell at this point if the paranoia is justified. IT may however become self-justifying the more high-minded, cesorious actions like the attack on Allison Weir take place. In a way, the reprehensible positions taken by jewish action groups like JVP seem to support Gilad's contention of a 'spectrum" from zionist to anti-zionist. I know i find the utter selfishness of these kinds of witch hunting exercises to be beyond reprehensible, given that in no way, do they support the palestinian cause.

      Some of us are actually beginning to wonder whether JVP and the CEIC group have infact been infiltrated by zionist agents intent on splitting the solidarity movement. Wouldn't surprise me were that the case.. At the very least, JVP, which previously was high on the list of upstanding organizations, has now lost much of its lofty credentials.

      I can only imagine how disheartened the Palestinians are, seeing this kind of bickery, snippy behavior.

    • W. Jones: "Her critics are legitimately and sincerely sensitive about anti-Semitism".

      I beg to differ - there is nothing legitimate or sincerely sensitive in those critics hyperventillating about some supposed "anti-semitism". These are people who see ghosts everywhere they go. They are busy throwing this, that or the other person into herem, claiming they can smell "whiffs" of something that only they can smell.

      I am not sure whether all this hoopla about "anti-semitism" is disingenuous gambit to dictate the terms of activism - supposedly on behalf of palestinians, but really to maintain their privileged standing as - to use marc Ellis' term - Jews of the Empire. Or there is genuine paranoia about what will happen to jewish power in America (and all the other Anglo countries) is everyone knew just how much parts of that power worked to subvert American policy, and indeed hasten the decline of the American Empire itself.

      I can't tell at this point if the paranoia is justified. IT may however become self-justifying the more high-minded, cesorious actions like the attack on Allison Weir take place. In a way, the reprehensible positions taken by jewish action groups like JVP seem to support Gilad's contention of a 'spectrum" from zionist to anti-zionist. I know i find the utter selfishness of these kinds of witch hunting exercises to be beyond reprehensible, given that in no way, do they support the palestinian cause.

      Some of us are actually beginning to wonder whether JVP and the CEIC group have infact been infiltrated by zionist agents intent on splitting the solidarity movement. Wouldn't surprise me were that the case.. At the very least, JVP, which previously was high on the list of upstanding organizations, has now lost much of its lofty credentials.

      I can only imagine how disheartened the Palestinians are, seeing this kind of bickery, snippy behavior.

    • Donald, I think paul meant what he said in the context of this particular discussion. Which is, if you missed it, about an organization called JVP that professes to circumscribe who can and who cannot join on the BDS bandwagon.

      I do agree with the sentiment that it is the Palestinians, not an organization with "Jewish" in their headline, that should have the main voice on the matter of BDS. It is for them this battle is being waged and it is the Palestinians that have their lives, liberty and dignity on the line every day, unlike the privileged, generally well-to-do jews of the west. Jews of the west, who, generally speaking are enabling the atrocious behavior of the jews of israel. IF Palestinians are happy to have nationalists of all stripes along for their fight, it's their right and privilege to do because it's their battle first and foremost.

      I never quite understood BTW what that "peace" stands for in "Jewish Voice for Peace". Israel already has all the peace it wants - their motivation to give anything to the Palestinians is obviously nil. The battle is therefore not for "peace". IT is for saving the Palestinian people from the worst fate israel's great jewish planners have in store for them. That's what we are all trying to prevent. This stopped being about a one-state, two-state long ago. It's now about a people and their right to survive as people. Nationhood is part of this, but peoplehood more so.

      Anyways, I will be more inclined to take the JVP pronouncements, prohibitions and prescriptions more seriously if they were to drop both the "Jewish" and the "Peace" from the organization's name. It seems quite strangely anachronistic now.

    • Donald, stop pretending you know and care so much about the black people of this country, and that you have can do or have done much more for them than pay lip service. You are a person of obvious privilege (yes, I am guessing, but it's a fair guess, I think) and wherever you live, I kind of doubt you have much of a concept of what the American South was and is or the complex reasons behind the civil war and/or the affinity some there had for the confederate flag. Your sarcastic comment about the flag may indicate sensitivity to the latest and hottest politically correct cause, but the plight of America's inner cities, just like the plight of the American rural areas - populated by whites, blacks and browns of all shades - their battles are obviously not yours, as much as you profess great sympathy for the former. How do I know? simple - by your own words you trip - lumping anti-black, anti-brown, anti-arab racism with the same blanket of a vague, barely perceptible anti-jewish sentiment which is a direct result of jewish power in the US and the subversion of American foreign policy it beget is too obvious a hyperbole. I kind of doubt the BlackLivesMatter people would want you as their flag bearer - especially as you seem to not quite perceive what actual racism is like. To remedy that, I suggest you go to israel - it's an instant cure to ignorance in such matters, because no one does real true blue racism better and deeper and more heart felt than the so-called jews of Israel.

      You may notice you are alone in your Anti Allison Weir sentiments here (which you have done your best to couch behind some concocted anti-white supremacy platitudes). As it happens, no one stands with you other than a few prissy witch hunters who are ready to hound anyone who as much as dares to profess caring for America, an actual nation, with its own interests and issues, most of which are directly orthogonal to israel's.

      Be careful that those tell-tale coat-tails of privilege not show too much....

    • I have been following with interest the attempts by two organizations, one entirely jewish (JVP) to put a non-Jewish long time activist and writer, into Herem. This crazy "hunting for anti-semites" campaign by members of the "sanctioned left", leave a funny after-taste reminder of the great bolshevik/troskiite purity fights of the early 20th century in western Europe. If most of us have no clue what those "great battles" were about, it's probably because they were about nothing in particular. That is to say, nothing other than the usual power battles that take place inside every movement - right or left. In retrospect, viewing the European communist movements from a century away, they seem to have been guilty of one thing above all - a tendency to cantankerousness. And so it seems with the purity advocates of JVP etc.

      Personally, I happen to think that the entire tapestry of accusations of "anti-semitism" are bogus to start with, reflecting more than anything the paranoia in certain Jewish left circles. Something that leads to a "circling of the wagons". We see this strain of intolerance coming out whenever Ron Paul's name comes up, or anyone who is Libertarian, or anyone who is basically not following the prescribed allowed and not allowed actions. Or some who come from a very Christian direction, who might dare to question the superiority of the jewish historical narrative (supercessionism anyone?). Or, heaven forbid, some who ask serious questions about historical events, including the times leading up to WWII or the Bolshevik revolution. Or, the worst of all worsts, anyone who comes from a purely American, non-jewish-centric viewpoint. All such people get apparently denounced as 'right wing" and/or suffering from some peculiar form of latent "anti-semitism" (whatever that is), which has something to do with the suspect strain of "nationalism" contaminated with "whiteness".

      Having failed to find any actual anti-semitic pronouncements by Allison Weir herself, they now seek to smear her by association. Just as they did to Greta Berlin and many others. After all, she gave interviews to the 'wrong" people. Wrong, being defined as anything on the "right", which has the unspoken theme of "white", or more generally, anything not on "the sanctioned liberal left". Those darn anglo-saxons! how dare they?

      I understand very well why MW chose to stay away from the controversy. My guess is that the vast majority of MW readers and commenters will want to have nothing to do with the stipulations and assertions by one self-righteous organization, one with an ax to grind, one that seeks to control and channel the terms of discourse. There is very little to gain from even as much as 'debating" the questions of who is and who isn't anti-semitic, or what anti-semitism is or how it is different than any other anti. This whole technique of smearing others by association has been around the left for a long time, and not just in BDS circles. Which, IMO, as I said above, i has more to do with a tendency, especially among the radical jewish left to turn on the non-Jewish-at-heart, not-left-enough.

      There, I said it! i made what some might consider an anti-semitic statement. But is it really? or did I just make a bit of a generalization just as JVP does?

      My basic take is, that when we take off all the dressings and emotional hoopla, what this is really all about is an attempt to make BDS a movement of the left. Not just the left, but the "pure" left. heaven forbid that we listen to criticism of israel coming from the right. After all, anything that's considered "on the right" is suspect, almost by definition. Alas, in doing so, the sanctioned "left" and especially the "Jewish left" (which tends to lump BDS with other causes, including gender issues, and so-called "social justice") will end up shooting themselves in the foot. Ultimately, for BDS to have an effect we need the vast majority of non-Jewish people in the world to join in. And this non-Jewish majority includes people who, for example, may come from a christian religious space, or a non gay loving space, or a non-immigration promoting place, or a "national" space.

      May be that's the basic problem - Allison Weir is just not liberal enough for JVP and like-minded. So her anti-zionism is suspect. And being a prolific writer and commenter I have no doubt that something somewhere in her work will strike a note of dissonance with the jewish audience. And if the 'something" is insufficiently "liberal" then it won't pass the infamous 'smell test" that only some noses are authorized to apply.

  • 'I love Obama' 'You're infatuated' (The argument on the left)
    • Keith, it's not like you to address points tangentially! I know my comment was longish, as usual, but the issue I wanted to address is not what Obama is or sin't in his heart of hearts or whatever. That is hardly my concern. Rather than get into pointless debates about what Obama "really" wants or wanted, the problem we have is with the presidency itself, and indeed with the entire election system. Since those are entirely captured by the 1%, it makes little difference what any one candidate really wants. Rather it's about who is even allowed to be a candidate in the first place. Of course, only those the PTBs (Powers-That-Be for Boomer) vetted to be pro-empire will ever be allowed to pop up near the top. So by definition, anyone else, with any other message (such as - cutting back on military expenditures, working WITH Russia and China, supporting a multi-polar world model, and of course, cutting back the power of military-industrial-surveillance lobies and foreign lobbies) will never make it to the finishing line, or even the pre-finishing line.

      That's why my final comment was that we should absolutely not expect a whole lot of good to come from the top down. If there's a tiny bit of good, great, but it will be just those things the PTBs allowed to squeak through as a way of "pacifying" the masses. Like the AHC and the Iran deal. Real change can only come from the level of the people, as Smith was saying - we will never have another Roosevelt, and 'they" are watching very carefully over any potential new MLK.

      My other key point was that using words such as "love' when it comes to a president are really a waste of an otherwise good emotion. No use spending any emotional energy on the puppet presidents or any mental energy on analyzing the puppet show. It's all a show, in the end. What energy there is should be put towards actions on the people's level, where politics is the side show not the main ticket.

      So, what is it we were disagreeing about, again?

    • Unfortunately (for me) I understand both sides of the argument. Unfortunate, because my heart is with the revolution of the people, now and always, but the analytic part of the head, that analyses the pros and cons of moves on a chessboard run by and for the ruling classes, tells me that much of the time Obama has little, if any choice. What little room he had to maneover he did on occasion use to try and do something good. The fact that it was so little (46 prisoners - not even 50 - a nice round number! Guantanamo still there, warehousing unlucky people who got caught in America's wars, healthcare Law with no public option, Libya, Palestine, NSA, Yemen, the banks rescue, and the list goes on...better stop now) is, IMO, more a function of the truly minute space a president (any president) has to work in than any reflection on what Obama's true inclinations are.

      It may seem like I am joining Phil is justifying the smallness of Obama's steps by accepting the power equation that limits those steps. But not quite. Where Phil errs (and love always errs, and desire for love even more so) is in pre-assigning an element of greatness just because his guy tried something and got a few victories. Greatness is not how history will judge Obama however. He is not Roosevelt or a Lincoln. And the missing bit is something personal something that assigns some to geatness and others not so much. My love Obama did not earn because even being hemmed in on all sides by powerful interests, I believe he could have done more. I think he did not realize until relatively recently that the president does have secret little powers that can allow him to punch through the power veil that surrounds him. Roosevelt came up with the fireside chats - a briliant move, never to be repeated by anyone since. Reagan used a talent for affability that the TV cameras loved and accomplished lots for the right, even as the left was left somewhat dulled and dispirited. Obama has unique personality traits that can work too, just like reagan. He could have used more of it to take bold steps. He didn't.

      Personally I lament the fact that the PTBs were able to use Obama presidency to lull the left into a dormant state. That includes the rage of the black people, which now people realize was percolating all this time. Remember how we all were willing to give a pass to Obama for turning on reverend Wright? was the good reverend not right all along? did he not express the rage as well as it should have been? did not Cornell West? Obama may have forced to surround himself by neocons, many, if not most Jewish, but he could have played it just a bit smarter. Take a page out of Putin's book, who himself is surrounded by traitorous transatlanticists, but manages to make some pretty good moves on his own complicated chessboard, moves, that whether anyone likes it or not, are for Russia the nation (rather than say, a clique's interest, or multi-nationals interests, or misguided desire for quick gains or whatever). Putin - and that we all agree - rfriends, enemies, whatevers - is first and foremost a Russian nationalist. By being for Russia sometimes - oftentimes, he manages to do things for the Russian people. And he does it boldly and without hesitation when need be (like Crimea, or using the excuse of sanctions to try and bring russian production up again without the WTO as much as squeaking. These moves were bloody smart - for Russia). I am saying Obama could have used more of his smarts than he did. And may be he didn't because he never had the internal conviction that Phil seems to attribute to him.

      So, "love" seems rather misplaced (though at least Phil did not offer the "admire' bit, so it stays in the gut rather than wreck havoc in the brain). But I think Smith's argument is not wrong as much as it is incomplete. The question is and always was - how does one get a president that will have what it takes to make the compromises bend that much more in the people's favor? and is a president something we should shoot for anyways? aren't we all wasting our energies, projecting them on an individual, who at best can do very little for what we want (Yes, I mean the current outpouring for Sanders). I say that spending too much mind power on a president or a senator is a waste of time because sooner or later they'll be co-opted (yes, they'll be coming for Elizabeth warren too and already started). WE, of the left, should really be thinking about building alternative power structures, worldwide ones. But that's another topic for another time.

  • Leading American writer Abulhawa is denied entry to Palestine
    • Jerusalem is not israel's capital and East Jerusalem is not part of israel, including that silly old wall some people worship so. Why would any civilized country keep an embassy in such a place? Visiting an embassy in the center of the Jewish Daesh zealots-land is kind of like going with the now notorious Palmer the evil dentist and cowardly Cecil the lion's killer on an outing to the local zoo, along with his bow and arrows that he keeps pointing at the panda bears.

  • Rand Paul turned into a hawk on Iran and libertarians are burning his stuff
    • Me too, citizen. Surprised?

      OK, I did buy Obama T shirts back in the days when hope and change suffused the airwaves.... I wear them for yard work, these days (and would for farming, if I had a farm and knew a thing about farming...though I want to, theoretically).

      Am on the fence about Bernie. Got time, will wait till the dust settles.

      Once, long ago, I thought I might like Webb. But something happened to him too on the way to the forum....

  • It's time for American Jews to recognize they have been duped
    • Thanks for the good comments, all. Nothing like a few compliments to get one back from too long a stay elsewhere.....

      I am really enjoying reading the many good comments in this thread. Been a while seeing that, hasn't it?

    • straightline - thanks for that cogent analysis of the british vote. I followed it with interest and noticed the pattern of the different counties and how they voted. But you made sense of it all.

      Of course, personally I hope Scotland will eventually find the werewithal to secede. If only because it'll drive certain people mad.

    • I second your comment ritzl.

      Personally, I also wanted to commend Avigail for her gracious participation in this thread, which no doubt helped raise it to higher level than we see usually, and made it one of the most popular in some time. Plus it brought several of us back in from the back woods or wherever we decamped to.

      I note that everyone (yes, yonah too...) has been on their best behavior. Graciousness does that to people. Can only hope to see more of Avigail's writing as well as the astute commentary by many here. I know that sometimes, it feels like we said it all before, but there is always a new way of stating old truths - this this essay and the comments it inspired prove it (plus i got my quote of the month from Shmuel! Can now go off and contemplate the meaninglessness of life in peace...).

    • Good to see you here as well. Too many of us seem to have decamped elsewhere, understandably perhaps, given that one can rail against the injustice that is israel only so long, before getting a bit disheartened with the near absence of "progress" towards actually helping the people that do the suffering. I am wrong, of course, in my impatience and too quick to put on the dark glasses, given that historically, justice never came swiftly to anyone, and many are still waiting, 100's if not 1000's of years later. I am also wrong because BDS is in fact making progress, even if the progress can give only so much comfort to those on the ground who bear the brunt of Israel's and israelis' atrocious behavior. The progress manifest in the new assaults on BDS coming from the usual corners. Still, my tendency - inherited no doubt of millenia of DNA conditioning - is to worry, and so worry I do.

      Your point is a good one indeed - the battle ground against BDS has been shifting for some time, and so it's hardly a surprise to see the poison arrow of "legitimacy" questioning, hurled with gusto. Whataboutism is just part of it (also known as "why us"?). The other piece of the same old tactic is the attempt to undermine solidarity by calling upon that mortal enemy of the attempt to do good - planting doubt in the morality of the cause, as a way of undermining its viability. It's a tactic that few have ever been better at than the great Jewish people - after all, they started that in antiquity and wrote a very very long book that is masterpiece of PR for the rights of the chosen to behave badly, the badness of the acts papered over with exclamations of guilt, pierced with heavy doses of self-doubt, said self-doubts then being project upon enemies, both real and made-up.

      That being said, I still love your quotes - goes to show you - can never overlook the pearls hiding beneath the junk (alas, those dark glasses don't help!). No one better than you to find them though - no wonder you are missed. Anyways, having just called it junk, I'm a sucker for biblical justifications must be the traces of some old cognitive dissonance. But for a cure!

    • Well said, Avigail - I couldn't agree more about the duping of American Jews, though clearly, those who get duped do so largely because they feel it's not in the interest of their well-being to be otherwise. It's sort of like those people on the right, being "duped" by the likes of Bush or Rubio or Trump, but on a much deeper and far more insiduous scale, because, after all, most Jewish Americans do not have the excuse of being ill-educated, or poorly travelled, or information deprived, or just discouraged from independent thought. Far from it.

      I would have to add though that those growing up in the "good old israel", people like me, were duped even more. Yes we had excuses - and they were not even 'excuses', they were the reality bubble we lived in. In the days before the internet and with hebrew as the one and only language most of us read, we were quite limited in what we got exposed to. For example, myself, a voracious reader, never heard of hannah Arendt, had no clue what all the fuss about Kastner was and the name Deir Yassin was only once over-heard, surrepticiously, to never be heard again. Young people especially, who grew up in israel knoew not to ask difficult questions about the narrative of how israel really came to be. It is easy to believe that, as the off-spring of the victims of Europe, you, your people your country are "better than that". We all want to believe that, and so we did, and everything around us conspired to make the belief valid enough, at least superficially.

      Back in the "old days", my own encounters with American jews who came to visit Israel, left me with the impression they were, on the whole, incredibly naive and generally quite credulous of whatever crazy story, any of us, israeli natives chose to tell them. And we sure made up some crazy stuff (or at least I did, mostly tragic/heroic tales, borrowed from over-fertile imagination and not a few books) - they believed almost anything, if an israeli told the tale, and lapped up any make-believe deeds and misdeeds (yes, that was kind of fun....oh well, too bad those tales are now forgotten).

      Nowadays, after decades in the US, I still think of American jews as strangely naive about the world in general, and Israel in particular (strange enough when one realizes how many of these jewish people have all manner of advanced degrees). But I also realize something else - what makes the 'duping" so much easier, even now, is the simple fact thatJjewish Americans do not read or speak hebrew fluently. Frankly, a brief visit to the comment pages of Haaretz (the hebrew not the English version) and/or a little scroll through the Israeli Facebooks that mention, for example, Obama, should be more than enough to disabuse many a fine American soul from their idealism about the average Israeli soul. In a way this is the flip side of what we, of the "old israel" faced - being cut off from the material available in, say, English, meant there was only what was published in Hebrew. Similarly, the well-meaning American jewish person, knowing little or no Hebrew, has no clue about the reality of life in Israel, and perhaps are not all that interested to know. A shining city on the hill - it's so much easier on the soul.

      You are also right on the money when you say that an enterprise based on lies and dispossession cannot but precipitate a deep sense of guilt, whether acknowledged or not. I always thought it is hardly a coincidence than no sooner one gets into any "debate", say with a typical liberal zionist, or even some israelis, that the question is hurled " do you or don't you believe that israel has the "right to exist?". Funny question, that. One never gets it from other people of other ethnicities or nationalities. It's as if, psychologically speaking, they know very well, there is a question of moral legitimacy there, but they turn the self-doubt into an accusation.

  • Charleston: Do Black and Palestinian lives matter?
    • This angle on Black/Jewish interaction as conceptual rather than real, strikes me as all too true. I know that when it comes to people from the American heartland - where hardly any jewish person is known, except from television screens - and biblical legneds, I often find myself having to mention that israel, to them The Holy land, is a real place where real people live and have all kind of problems. Even those who went to Israel, say on a church tour, have a hard time thinking of it as a country like any other, just with much bigger and more intractable issues.

      Which kind of connects to what Ellis says about the jewish establishment interacting with blacks, as a conceptual group, as a subset of America, one they supposedly empathize with, because, well - Jews do that sort of thing (ethnic sympathy). But do they really empathize? can they? can they connect to the lives of black people beyond the racial dimension? can they connect to them as an oppressed class, when they themselves belong to the upper class (at least now)?

      Sometimes I wonder whether the racial issue for many of the well-to-dos on the left (not just jewish) is just a convenient escape hatch - something to latch onto so they don't have to admit there is serious class divide going on everywhere in the country, not even under the surface, not just somewhere in the south or in Texas or somewhere in an inner city left to languish, scorched, on the bone fire of Capitalism. How many people really look beyond what's most visible in, say, NYC?

  • Munayyer and Beinart's historic debate on the solution to the conflict
    • Many good comments made on this thread, which I think reinforce and bring to light the fundamental issues separating the Liberal-zionist side from the Liberal-palestinian side (added to make things symmetrical. After all, we rarely hear from true-blue muslim Palestinians, do we? more on that later).

      There are two points I wanted to make, which I think have not yet been brought to light:

      1. Beinart is not just a liberal-zionist. He is also an orthodox Jew. He gives the impression that his second identity inhabits and co-exists with the first. Yet, let's face it - orthodox Judaism places strict limits on liberalism, especially when it comes to concepts such as universal justice and universal rights. I suggest that in beinart's case, the reason he is able to sound so thoughtful, while maintaining that zionism can never be fully compatible with liberalism, is BECAUSE he lives inside the jewish religious traditions, which allow these kind of dichotomies by its very nature. So Beinart is easily able to navigate the liberal AND zionist landscape (despite the obvious contradictions) because he lives within a tradition that constantly navigates the liberal AND Jewish orthodox landscape. This means that he, unlike cruder versions of religious jews such as Boteach (just to name one) can do high-finess pilpul. But pilpul it still is, no matter the sophisticated covering. At home, and in the synagog, and in his heart of hearts Beinart still believes the Jews are chosen. The fine wordings and clever thoughtful-like style of argumentation is therefore part of the smoke screen. An effective one, dare I say, for its lack of transparency, except when he slips a little, as when he accepts that a not-quite-liberal and not-really-just state is a 'small" price to pay for it being a "Jewish" state.

      2. The real elephant in the room of the 2SS is the fact that israel, far from becoming more liberal secular (as some American liberal jews dearly hoped), is becoming more and more religious, as statistics and governmental realities both tell us. That religious element in israel - quite unlike Beinart's own orthodox denomination - is becoming less and less liberal and more and more parochial and xenophobic. Were Israel to rid itself of most of the West bank and gaza Palestinians by granting them a full country (even on full 1967 borders, just to be hypothetical) it would herald the birth of an extremely nationalistic and parochial religious country that will ultimately be ruled by some rather dangerous zealots, every bit as dangerous as salafists. The secular israel is dwindling in relative numbers daily, even as theirs are the voices the liberal jews of America hear, which is why they are able to go on with their illusion of a shining city on the hill (I can easily imagine which israelis Beinart meets when he goes on a visit. Not too many from the Bennet camp, I'm sure).

      Ok, so I lied - I do have a third point:

      3. In the much much larger scale of things the liberal parts of Israel desperately need greater number of Palestinians as allies in their very midst, to tacitly propel their quest for a more tolerant and progressive and less religious Israel. This may seem counter-intuitive (and sure, things can be torn asunder easily enough in a one state) but I believe that sometimes, progressivism needs the push and pull of two or three traditions/world views to come forth as a serious uniting principle. When it is one ethnic group that has all the cards, it's too easy to give in to the temptation of triumphalism and singularism. One could say, for example, that it is from the clash of catholicism and protestanism that a more liberal and enlightened Europe was eventually born, at least leading up to the 20th century when power issues kind of ruined it for the continent. In Canada too, one could argue that the mere existence of Quebec as a semi-autonomous Francophile region has had a tempering effect on the Anglo parts, even if Canada is far from the best analogy for israel/Palestine.

  • Corey Robin revisits Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem
    • The commenter with call sign "neggy" (as in "nag-gy?) has now accused keith of being an anti-semite (same old same old trot) plus has denied the narqba p;us committed high crimes and misdemeanorts against logic, history, morality and factuality. I vote to get rid of him/her. Unless a little dose of stupid is needed to liven things up, of course. Unfortunally, sometimes itseems that without the neggies, the naysayers and the hop-hommies conversation just doesn't seem to get going, alas.

      Personally, I feel that anyone who resorts to the trollish tried and true "anti-semitism" rubbish, should not be allowed to post here. They can post elsewhere where their counter-factual, misbegotten diatribes and libelious nonsense are accepted. Like zoa. Or the times of israel. Or the "new witches of salem" (not sure there's such a peiodical but there should be!).

    • Actually, netanyahoo and his voters + nutty coalition members + supporters and tribal apologists in the US (including Christian zionist mad variety) are the modern version of biblical psychopaths. I am not sure why anyone even bothers to engage with them who put up apologies for the thuggeries and high crimes committed by these brutes and supported by oligarch friends far and wide. Corruption is the least of their crimes. If only there was a court to try them who are the the true criminals against humanity!

    • Catalan, I think you didn't get Keith's point. he did not imply that ALL Jews dislike/fear ALL non-Jews ALL the time. Rather he was saying, I think, that a belief in the IRRATIONALITY of anti-semitism is the glue that holds the Israel project together, both in israel and among Israel Jewish supporters outside. That, ias Keith said. is the essence of Zionism as the rightful secular inheritor to its religious counterpart - "Classic Judaism".

      The existence of such a belief may not seem to apply to individual jewish people who, as you say, live just fine among the gentiles, sometimes intermarrying, always associating. It may, indeed not apply to you, and I see no reason to dismiss the sincerity of your assertion that it doesn't. Where this belief does apply, is in the more collective sense AND the way in which this collective sensibility sips into individuals, often unbeknownst to them, at least untill there is reason for it to come to the surface.

      Going beyond Keith's point, I do maintain that the belief in the IRRATIONALITY and UBIQUITY of anti-semitism is, in fact, the secret key that opens the doors to the heart of hearts of the jewish sense-of-being not quite in and sometimes OUT of the world (of other humans). yes, for some Jews the OUT leads directly to a sense of being ABOVE the world, while others hear just a vague echo that tags on strings not quite visible and rarely felt. So, while no two individuals experience the same effect, they will all respond - one way or another - upon hearing the sound of the turn of the key in the secret keyhole.

      I know this is the key because I used it to open doors a crack that in no time widened to let loose all manner of furies. I lost one friendship on account of a seemingly innocuous conversation with a super-liberal, super-educated, totally non-Israel supporting (almost an anti-zionist) Jewish person. The conversation took a turn (at my initiation) towards jews during the Middle Ages and, at one point, I made the claim that in most, if not all, cases, the many examples of jewish persecution (at the time anti-semitism was not yet a coined, loaded word) could be explained quite simply in the context of the times, the unique place accorded to the jews in many countries, the special professions they had and the need of various rulers to divert attention from their own culpability in making their people miserable and/or the totally rational desire to not pay back loans they received to conduct various wars. Coupled with the interests f the catholic church (forever needing an identifyable enemy), the Jews not being integrated into the feudal system and their own choice to NOT assimilate, and the fact that foreign elements were hardly tolerated anywhere in middle age Europe, there were plenty of perfectly rational reasons that could explain why Jews were first invited in, then (sometimes 100-200 years later!) persecuted and/or expelled. And, my argument went further, the Jews as diverse groups in different countries were not even persecuted nearly as severely (to the point of complete obliteration) as were other sects during the same time. In pther words, persecution of the jews is a historical fact, fully explainable in the contexts of the times and places, rather than it being any more irrational than any other xenophobic impulse among the populace.

      At the time, I expected a retort with a counter- example or two of cases where rational explanations alone could not suffice. Instead, my very erudite and usually tempered friend launched into a crazy sounding diatribe that came seemingly out of the blue. He did not have a single argument to proffer, instead preferring to accuse my not-quite-prepared self of buying into abject anti-semitism mixed with self-hatred.

      Then it was silence which, to this day has not been bridged.

      Make of this what you will, but upon further exploration of the "key" (why, how could I resist?) I found it seemed to work every single time, and especially well with israelis/ex-Israelis. The implication of rationality in this one domain brought out a burst of irrationality. Mercifully, after that first experience I learnt to not let it escalate, so , I managed, after some trials and tribulations, to keep [some] friends even as I kept chugging at the key, pretending it's stuck. Yes, to this day, if you wonder.

  • Pro-Israel wealthy Jews feature in 'Forward,' Christie roast, and U of Michigan censorship
    • Here goes the idiotic anti-semitic "trump card" from yonah. Heaven forbid we point out that the 0.1% oligarchy that's ruling this country is in any number of ways enforces support to an absolutely horrific, almost robotically oppressive caste society in the Middle east. That the oligarchy is not all Jewish we know. But just what fraction of it is? and what of the friends of uber-wealthy friends? do they not all flock together like the birds of prey that they are?

      That the abominable country in question should have been subject to all-out sanctions - much more stringent than those put on Iran - for far more grievous reasons, is obvious to any person with even slight concern about human welfare in general. So why isn't there a a congressional vote to slap sanctions on Israel? is it just because israel makes a good vassal to the Empire? is it really that simple? or are the chicken and the egg merely illusory manifestations of the same dark forces lurking in all our natures, so it's quite pointless to ask what came first. The important thing is the end result - corruption, subversion, triumphalism, entitlement. The rich play nice together so the more aggressive influence peddlers win,basically by default. The Koch brothers simply give way to the Addelsons, don't they? seen any rich carping at other rich much lately?

      We can ask about the silence of the congress - that supposed representatives of the American public, that pinnacle of democracy. Are they all - to the last man silent because the money (much of it indeed from jewish sources) bought their tongues?do they fear the likes of jokers like Yohah who keep wagging their fingers while whining incessantly about some mysterious thing called "anti-semitism"? or is it simply because elected officials go with the loudest voices and the victims of oppression and the ones concentrated into a desolate no way out place called Gaza are less moneyed and less empowered and have little if any access to our media megaphones??

      I hope people learn to brush aside these silly disingenuous accusations from people like Yonah and hophmi and jon s who care not a hill of beans about humans in general (none that I ever saw evidenced at least, except as a point hurled out in a debate, cf the Oy vey, what about Darfur?). It is high time to do the studies that will disclose just how much wealth is spent by the pro-apartheid, pro-oppression, soul-crushing members of this one particular ethnic/religious group that feels totally entitled to subject the rest of the country to their big brother, orwellian tactics. The numbers should be laid out as for any other influence or control-peddling group. So yes, people should do the research, look up the names, investigate the amounts, identify the owners and editors of the media/publishing/Hollywood and let it all hang out. Just like we do (or at least some do) with any lobby group, foreign agents or otherwise.

      The people of the world deserve to know the truth. Especially the countless victims now lining the graves of Palestine, Iraq and Syria, among other places where power and money did its thing and poisoned whatever was ever good about the American Empire.

      Sounds like AS to some, I know. But the ghosts of millions of victims (and I mean, millions) out there, including the ones not acknowledged to be victims - sometimes choose to speak at me and so I feel obliged to channel them who cannot speak (even if sometimes I steal the words from my betters...). The bottom line to me is simple; mere words, even if laden with false meanings, like Anti-semitism - mean little in the face of the calamities that became the fate of the people of Gaza, just to name a most obvious victim. People that to Yonah and the like, are not really people, or so I suspect.

      So, I say, lets get the numbers - all of them or as much as is possible. And let the people of the world make their judgement.

  • 'So wait, the Nakba is…?': Listening to Israelis discuss the Nakba
    • Keith, you flatter me so - Arundhati Roy - that's quite a compliment. Ever worry it might go to my head? and what then?

      Just, thanks to you too - always glad to hear from you.

      And Mooser, what can I say? more unsayables perhaps?

    • "How would they react if someone said the holocaust is a Jewish holiday, or Jewish celebration? "

      But the Holocaust IS treated as a "celebration" of sorts even if it's supposed to be tinged with sadness. In one sense it's more like a "commemoration" not unlike Tisha b'av which commemorates the loss of the temple. It is a 'celebration' because hidden within the folds of the outward commemoration are the poison darts of a weaponized history. And poison darts are there to be wielded, and in the case of the Holocaust they are, as we all know.

      On Holocaust day, the jews of Israel do not just feel sad. They also feel totally empowered as "the greatest and most significant victims ever". They also feel superior, as in having the high moral ground for any slight "the others" (ie, goys, not necessarily Palestinians) feel has been administered to them. Such as the compensation racket from Germany. Or the Nakba the Palestinians "claim" was inflicted upon them by the jews (and I mean "the jews" in this case, as in the great collective of them, inside israel and outside). Israelis on Holocaust day, KNOW why they DESERVED Israel - it's not even a question of what the cost could have been to others. As in "it doesn't really matter. SOMEONE had to pay the price". So there is no need to take notice of such words like "Nakba" (let them try the israelis think - consciously and not - but we are still the master victims! and we know how the histoical narrative game goes - we won it every time, didn't we?).

      One does not have to even be an israeli to partake in the Holocaust as 'celebration" even if the weaponization has to be treated more gingerly elsewhere. Suffice it to be a grand supporter of israel in the world, especially a Jewish one. the Holocaust day for example is rarely accompanied by feelings of good will towards others who may be persecuted elsewhere, except those who are "conveniently remembered" like Tibetans or Darfurians. among jewish people in particular, you will not likely find an iota of sympathy towards the upward of 10 Million Russian civilians lost in the Great War. Or the Millions of Poles. Certainly not the millions of German civilians made to pay a huge price in death and suffering after it was all over.

      Of course, the people who have become accustomed to using the holocaust as a WMD, will deny the Nakba commemoration, precisely because deep at heart, they fear it turning also into a weapon, one that could be used to counter and poke holes in the holocaust narrative as justifying any and all obnoxious, disgusting actions perpetrated by the would-be inheritors to the holocaust tale-of-tales. The people of israel - the ignorant, the ugly, the bad, the wanting-to-be-good, and the actually good (all few 10's of thousands in the last category) - they all know the implications and dynamics hidden within a single word. They know because they did it themselves throughout their entire history. After all, the entire bible is an informercial, designed to lead the jewish reader/inheritor, religious or not, to a place of great superiority, one that is beyond history.

      And this is why we will not only see no change in attitudes towards the nakba, but instead we'll see further hardening of the hearts, minds and souls. Until all that's left, after all this hardening are calcified residues of a once interesting people.

  • Forgiving the anti-Semites
    • jon s, I was not here taking issue with what's in the bible, the talmud etc (though I might at other times). I was pointing out the unctuous hypocricy of those who recite words of deliverance from oppression while supporting the obnoxious behavior of a people that practice brutal oppression every day. Since you profess to be a liberal zionist, I do indeed question your sincerity in extoling supposed universal values while the country you support violates those very values every second of every day . So, for you to imply the reading of the hagadda comports with certain universal values (notwithstanding the fact that the haggadah itself speaks of those values strictly in a jewish context of "they wanted to oppress us, we won, let's eat - a lot" ) is indeed hypocritical, and your defense of it sanctimonious.

      Now, I do understand you want to think of yourself as a moral person while partaking in in certain Jewish traditions. I just couldn't help pointing out the glaring contradictions thereof. I would further say that you should not worry so much about others being "self-hating jews" but should instead do something about your own cognitive dissonance. I heard somewhere it can lead to spiritual ulcers. Very difficult to treat, that.

      And Mooser, thanks for defending my lost honor. If jon s actually apologizes, I promise to eat one of [my more elaborate] hats. If not, I am always up for a duel (just never at sunrise) - mostly to help call the shots from the sidelines.

    • Thanks just, but alas, jon s tricked me into one of my rants now, assuming they'll actually let it stand ( and I am so trying to stay away from those!). Unfortunately, for me, sad leads to mad, at a drop of a hat. Must learn to meditate.

    • jon s, as my comment said, my realization was that the very last people who have a right to lecture to others about "deliverance from bondage" are the Jewish people of israel accompanied by their zionist brethern in the West. Be they liberal or right wing fascists (cf. Republican types) it matters not, because collectively, those jews who failed to repent for the grievous injuries committed by their own cohorts cannot be the ones extoling humanist values, as if they became some kind of spiritualized wise pacifists in the mold of Ghandi.

      Currently the great israelite people (some call them jews. I prefer not to engage in name calling on account of attachment to precision) are engaged in one of the most brutal, cold hearted and evil persecution of another people because of who they are. This persecution may not hold candle to the Boko harams or ISIS of the moment but has a unique place as one of the most crass, insidious, cruel and long term persecutions that the world has seen in over 70 years. No sooner were people delivered from concentration camps that they turned around and herded over a million other people into the ghetto of Gaza (all in the hope that one of these days, the world will be too preoccupied with some other disaster to note that the liquidation process has started). Murdering 500 children in a month of cold-bloodied shooting at humans whose only crime was that they happened not to be jewish and descended from those who were brutally exiled from their own homes, is something that the Pharoah probably would have been proud of - shooting at fish in a barrel is so much more efficient than having them die from the travails of slavery and toil!

      So, I ask the ffgth question, the one left unspoken in the hagada - who are these people, sitting around their precious Seder table, reciting platitudes and exhortations for the blood of their enemies, who are they to have the right to demand that we all look elsewhere, avert our eyes as they go about their torrid little business of finding a way to get rid of an inconvenient people? who are they that can play deaf and dumb as bombs tear children and babies apart? who are they that I should want to listen to their sermons of "deliverance"? and praises to a blood-thirsty god?

      In the past, knowing who I had around the table with me, listening to them that know no mercy recite the messages of deliverance and thanks to a cruel deliverer, was, at times not unlike listening to Dracula lecturing about the virtues of Type O blood. Or Pol Pot singing the praises of "humane" population control. It is not surprising that them whose hands are deeply bloodied and whose hearts are shriveled with the sin of triumphalism are those who keep heaping praise upon a lord that knows no mercy every year. Why shouldn't they? after all, they keep getting away with it, so their god must be powerful indeed!

      Basically, my problem with the Seder is that it's a disingenuous and meaningless ceremony which carries no message other than - "it's good to be on top rather than on the bottom". What other enlightening message have you found in the haggada, jon s? may be you can insert some modern, wanna-be uplifting Tikun Olam messages there. Something about israeli doctors flying to Nepal with great fanfare to save a few children for the camera. Something about supporting gay liberation etc etc (insert whatever passes for the liberal value of the day). May be you can, because in America anything is possible. All messages can be rewritten. All villainous acts can be re-branded as mercy killing acts. But I, with my simple analytic mind, find little that is actually spiritual in the Haggada, little that can be considered enlightened, and even less of that quality of grace and redemption that frankly belongs to a certain break-away sect once known collectively as Christianity (yes, yes, I know. when it comes to branding, Paul was no slouch).

      And, mind you, it's not just Palestinians I am thinking about, but the Iraqis that fell victim to the neocon policies peddled by the full court jewish establishment in the US (give or take a few saintly people like Judt and Chomsky and Greenwald and another few hundred) and the Syrian people now subjected to a campaign of destruction and mayhem, thanks again to an unholy alliance between the hideous house of Wahabist Saudi head choppers and their somewhat more sophisticated ethno-supremacist friends living in that least holy of all lands, now called israel. Nice to see these twiddle-dee-twiddle-dams of the Middle east, inheritors two two great religions. Nice to see Israel and new best bud Saudi Arabia being aided and abetted by the empire's hegemonists, many of whom are members of the third great monotheistic religion, making this the grandest of all monotheist alliances.

      Personally, I think most jews who do attend Seders of all kinds would do well to stop counting the plagues visited upon their supposed enemies (supposed because there never was any "exodus" from Egypt by all historical accounts) much as they like to count the murderous rampages of the henchmen of Mordechai against men, women and children of the Haman clan of Persia as 'righteous riot". May be they should instead start counting their blessings for being given a pass on account of past persecution. Now, if we could only have descendants of the illustrious Huns join in to receive their own forebearances and blessings!.

      I don't know how your haggadah is written but the one followed in israel is a treatise of vengeance celebration thanks to a egomaniac and cruel god that should really have been banished from followers of civilized discourse the world over sometime ago. So I ask, how can reading from the traditional Hagadah be seen as a beautiful spiritual affair when those reveling in the recitations and celebrations are committing and commemorating some of the ugliest acts of persecution seen these past 70 years.

      So yes, given who reads it, and the spirit in which it is read, for me the Haggadah has become a book of death, one that, shorn of the propaganda value in which it is encased, is, at its heart, a simple minded celebration of vengeance by a people for whom the concept of mercy has no meaning outside their own narrow-minded, ethnically/religiously defined tribes of zealots. The people of israel, who have "arrived" in jerusalem - that city on the hill - are indeed the natural spiritual descendants of the zealotry of the maccabis, the cruelty of Mordechai's henchmen and the terror spreading legionaires of Begin, Sharon and now netanyahu. So what message do any of them or their supporters have for the rest of the world that's worth listening to?

      May be sometimes it's not so hard to understand how Christianity ended up triumphing in the old world. Passover, like Yom Kippur, is among those special days of the jewish tradition when I actually can actually see why Christianity (and later islam) spread as far as they did and Judaism didn't. Not that the modern day adherents of either religion are short in the misery inflicting department (see above re the great collusion of the world's three religions), but long ago, during difficult times, if one looks carefully, and perhaps objectively, it's not so hard to see why things came about the way they did.

      Thanks for the inspiration jon s. Please send more soap boxes my way!

    • Yonah, you sure are making a career out of the Not Getting IT syndrome. Does it pay well?

    • Mooser, but you forgot "Gawd"! that I believe is one of the more modern additions to the many names of The One.

      I do see the cash checking difficulty - or the gawd awful TSA quandry when checking against the No-Fly data base .

      We need some standards, I says!

    • Michelle - what is "G-d"? any one in particular? (there are so many G-Ds!).

      As for "love" - may be you need a better translation of the hagadah?

      And it is, I believe "seder", not "sedar" (check you CZ dictionary...or the Book of Selections -from-Left-Behind).

    • This is the second year I did not have any urge to go to a seder of any kind. Not that in years past the urge was strong enough to move me more than a few miles either way, but still, there was a little tingle there, like a secret voice that tags on an invisible string, one i thought was long buried.

      But something grievous must have happened for the secret string to go all but silent. It might have been the last atrocities visited upon the Gazans. Perhaps not so much the ordeal the Palestinians are forced to through (which, after all has become something of a yearly, monthly, daily ritual, much as the pain that was inflicted upon African Slave descendants over centuries); may be it was the realization that Israelis - the vast majority thereof - have become, en mass inured to the suffering of others deemed "not of them". And in the process lost not only chunks of their collective humanity, but the soul of the history jewish people through the centuries strove so hard to keep up. Israelis, and the Jewish people who support the obnoxious israeli reality have, in my eyes, lost the moral status (both low and high ground) that allowed them to discourse on persecutions past, their own or others'. Or to continue to pretend that their Seder or Yom Kippur rituals are anything but a triumphalist tribal chest beating.

      So passover for me, a thoroughly secular ex-Israeli, has over the years become an empty ritual, empty of meaning any higher or larger than an excuse for a familial get together, where numerous courses of specialty dishes are sampled, while interspersed by [hurried and condensed] reacitations from an old book that, at its esssence, seeks to portray jews as rightful inheritors of the privilege to lecture others. The passover ritual for me, seems to side-step, as it does for most people, deep truths, such as the unrighteousness of over-the-top celebration of deliverance from persecution by a people who then proceeded to become vengeful, arrogant and high minded themselves. The entire occasion, far from solemn, has, for me, become kind of a sad symbol of the moral degradation suffered by those who insist on remaining blind to their own increasingly cold hearts, now encased in thick layers of icy sleet.

      The very last time I attended a seder of any kind, I found it depressing, the opposite of uplifting. The hagadah lithurgy serving as a sad chorus accompanying a collective descent into a special purgatory, the kind reserved for those who were meant to learn something from history but didn't and wouldn't.

      This year, I spent part of passover night at the Gym where I joined the practitioners of other rituals that, in the end, serve well to highlight the human condition which, at its heart, is a rage about its own finiteness. At the Gym, propelled by our own exertions, we can entertain momentary visions of immortality and power over fate, from which, if we are wise, we'll do well to recover as soon as the mirror tells us that no, despite all the hard work, we have not shed thirty years in an evening. I thought a solid session at the Gym will make for a nice substitute ritual where, unlike the hagadah, partakes of some measure of humility in the face of our own illusions and finds redemption in that.

      An evening spent in the company of utter strangers who nonetheless are glued together by a a bond deeper than any individual or collective history. So i think I like the gym people better than I like the Passover people. They even have their special little recipes and musical interludes. And, unlike the end of the seder, where we get to feel a bit stuffed up with too much food and drink, and often not nearly the kind of good conversation Phil somehow manages to have, at the end of a well-spent Gym session, one feels truly uplifted.

      Anyways, I am convinced that every tiny little triumph over eternity counts, and Passover just doesn't cut it in that department any longer. At least not for me.

  • Dead End
    • The Holocaust happened more than 70 years ago. Iraqi holocaust, which is what the American invasion urged on and enabled by Israel and neocon zionists in the US started in 2003 and is continuing today. There was a holocaust perpetrated on Russian citizens during WWII that was just as serious and evil as anything done to the Jews (read about the camps for Russians and what was done to Russian citizens, over 6 million of whom perished, not to mention the soldiers that fought the invasion).

      Yet, Netanyahu is not going to victory day in Russia presumably because he could care less that it was the Russian army - at a huge cost in blood - that liberated many camps, and indeed allowed the western allies to triumph on their end. Netanyahu is not going because it's only the fate of jewish victims that really matter to him (if that much) AND many of the Russian civilians who died - the majority in fact, were non-Jews and therefore didn't count all that much. Just as all the many victims of the Nazis do not matter all that much to the good, oh so moral, israeli citizens, who speak and lament only their perished ancestors, with barely a nod to the many others who died just as horribly and unnecessarily. And I know the one-directional nature of sympathies and empathies in israel all too well, even if lip service is paid to the 'righteous gentiles".

      I am personally finding it quite tiresome for all the channels in the US to unveil various Holocaust stories and documentaries, almost exclusively about the jews that perished, even while shortchanging the fate of non-Jewish victims. Further ignoring the enormous atrocities perpetrated in Americans' name in Iraq, and in Syria and ongoing in Ukraine, where the US is arming and abetting essentially neo-nazi groups (US soldiers have arrived to train the banderist, now whitewashed clean from the crimes of their spiritual godfathers of the Nazi era, the ones who participated - enthusiastically in Babi Yar and then some). makes one wonder on behalf of whom and how are Holocausts counted for public consumption.

      With scant attention paid to victims who were not jewish in both the US and israel, and the ongoing campaign to vilify Russia for purely geopolitical reasons - now on fully obscene display far and wide, the Holocaust remembrance days come across as a celebration of Jewish power - the power to bend history so it arcs their way, not as a true mourning for victims of wars and genocides of all kinds.

      So yes, for my own many reasons, I agree with Marc Ellis. It's high time to call it quits for this remembrance day unless it takes place in a far more moral universe, rather than the disingenuous one built just for us. So we can properly align our memories in the selective ways chosen for us.

      For myself, I'll choose to remember the victims of many holocausts perpetrated on members of the human race, jewish and otherwise. I try to remember those every day not just on the one day designated by a select group of humans who consider themselves chosen over all others to prioratize their group's particular sufferings. For me, all are chosen, and all lives taken away wantonly and collectively matter.

  • Yarmouk camp reaches out to the international community for help against IS invasion
    • Thanks Annie for the reminder about al-Bared. The similarities to Yarmouk are indeed striking.

    • Walid, I see you subtracted the 2000 that fled Yarmuk from the 20,000 that were supposed to be still there. It is, of course, possible, that some may not find it so easy to leave, even if they wanted to.

      I read somewhere that one issue faced by the Syrian arab army is that the government is prohibited from entering Palestinian camps by some law they signed onto. That makes it impossible for them to do anything other than lay siege to the town. Still, I am curious - how did those 200 ISIS people slip into the camp iof it is guarded from all sides? who slipped them in and why? if you hear or read anything, please share.

    • Walid, so now that we figured how a caliph can pop out like a jack-in-the-box, the question remains - what turns the PA buttons on and off? couldn't possibly be something greasy that can make up for withheld tax monies? well, you probably know more about the strange happenstances in that part of the world than I do.

      One really hates to be cynical when real people are suffering. I just wish more saw through the cynical manipulations by certain powers and had the gumption it takes to resist. I reckon some do, perhaps even many. They are just not the ones in the headlines.

    • I tend to agree Rusty Pipes. I sure wouldn't want to see MW get sucked into this quagmire where regime change operators with bloody hands one day masquerade as humanitarians the next. This entire campaign against Syria has long ago stopped being about Assad per se. It most certainly is not about any legitimate opposition to Assad and decidedly not about a "democratocracy-US-style" (the kind that brought the banderites to power in Ulraine. Isis here, neo-nazis there, what's the difference?).

      I do not know the history of the writer of this article and I would like to assume the intentions are good, except for that nagging little doubt - the timing. Something quite not right about the timing.

      To me, the ISIS entry into yarmouk (aided by whom, exactly?), its timing and any atrocities they are likely to perpetrate smell like another type (a particularly odious type) of a false flag operation. Like all false flags, certain people and writers and activists are handed their talking points, the calls of "gevalt!" go to the UN, action is solicited, ink is spilled on-line as blood sinks to the ground on location.

      Somehow, I keep thinking that maybe the "chlorine" charges didn't stick at the UN, so it's on to Plan B (or is it Plan C, or Plan D?). Why do I get the funny feeling that these ISIS people can be turned on at will, where needed to precipitate calls for a little "humanitarian" help - be it in the form of foods or bombs (the regime changers honestly could care less which one it is, though bombs may be cheaper and with easier delivery).

      But back to the point: things are certainly murky over at Yarmouk in many more ways than one. I think MW is well advised to stay clear and away until the dust settles.

    • I find it interesting that in this article hardly anything is being said about making common cause with the Syrian government - and the Syrian people - who have been subjected to a brutal campaign of regime change by a collusion of American neocons, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Wahabi infested portion of the Arab world. The best way to bring a solution for the problems of yarmouk is to strengthen the hand - and work jointly with the Syrian Army, now fighting against the ISIS foreigners injected into the midst of Syria. I find it curious that there is so little mention of the obvious and instead we get these appeals to the UN. Especially since Syria has done everything possible to help Palestinian citizens leave the camp, even as they were being held hostage by the various groups fighting over control there.

      The most recent stories before this "Isis invasion" were about the different camps in Yarmouk having reached an understanding with the Syrian government to lay down their arms and curtail the more extremist elements in the camps that caused it to be besieged in the first place.

      One finds it very interesting that shortly after news of an agreement being reached that suddenly ISIS find a way into the camp by mysterious means. Who let them in? how did they manage to gain partial control there? who has an interest in sucking Palestinians into the "regime change" paradigm promulgated by Neocons, Israel and their wahabist criminal bretherns in the KSA?

      It is clear that right now the ISIS front - and their Israel-aided al Nusra terrorists are suffering serious set-back in the Qalamoun mountains and near the Golan hieights. Is it a coincidencne that suddenly we are seeing a coordinated attack on Idlib and this mysterious "injection" of ISIS into yarmouk?

      I think everyone who cares about the Palestinian cause would be well advised to look very carefully at the events unfolding in Syria. It is time to put the pressure on the real culprits: Israel (which is arming and supporting al-Nusra), Saudi Arabia that brought ISIS about and is funding them as we speak (while pretending otherwise) and the US which made no secret of wanting to demolish Syria as an independent country through one of their atrocity-generating regime change operations.

      The solution to the yarmouk problem is staring at us all in the face. Advocating some UN "intervention" when it is the very same militant factions allied with nusra salafists and Isis that have been preventing the entry of UN aid in the first place. Anyone else notices the strange contradictions and coincidences here?

  • I want my country back
    • Ah, Mooser dearest - now that possibility of a parasite involved in precipitating the notorius ziocaine syndrome (ZS) and its infamous cousin ZSBP (ziocayne syndrome-by-proxy) got me right back into the mix. By virtue of scientific curiosity, you know. For some time, I have been thinking that perhaps it is not a parasite but rather something akin to prions (a more primitive form of a parasite or a bacteria). Prions being known, of course, for their connection to mad Cow disease, which, as we know is rather fatal. While potential antidotes to parasites have been known in the literature of infectious agents, alas, when it comes to prions, our science is powerless. No cure or antidotes are known and so far attempts to come up with immuno-boosting agents have been unsuccessful.

      I urge one and all to check out the best that Wikipedia has to offer on the fascinating topic of Mad Cow disease and its antagonists. For eons I have been wondering whether parial protein starands could be an answer to some of humanity's most vexing questions.

      BTW, I have been fine, thank you. Just busy with a case of deep despondency syndrome (DDS). Very busyness causing even when business is at a stand still.

  • Why I am not Charlie
    • Why, thanks Mooser. I'll definitely try to remember next time who I'm dealing with. Darn, to think that I wasted that "pink glow" and the "drapes of blood" on our jon-es. I really need to relocate my soap-box. Know of any public squares that may rent some cheap ones out (preferrably by the hour)?

    • jon S "we are all French jews"

      You peddling the jewish meme is nothing short of nauseating. We are no such thing. Not with photos of the murderer and war criminal Netanyahoo, hand in hand with Hollande, looking ever so sanctimonious, ever the manipulator and schemer. Even as the blood of 500 children drips all around him. You can almost see the pink glow in the Paris lights. Any ralley that would allow this horrid creature to march is hypocritical. I feel sad for all those french people, led through irony's door, like sheep. having convinced themselves that this all has something to do with "freedom of speech".

      may be we should say instead, "we are all Ahmed" for the Muslim policeman shot in the line of duty? like someone above suggested (was it you taxi?)

      Or, better yet, what was the name of the hero at the Lebanon cafe that gave his life to protect many more people from getting killed?

      That's who we should be.

    • I would have to agree here MRW. The jewish people of late middle age, early enlightenement periods in Europe were persecuted - at times and in places. Not everywhere and hardly all the time (yes, Shahak, among others). The facts of the matter are not that they couldn't easily get out of the shtetls. Most Europeans - mainstream and sects of all kind - remained enclosed in their own private "shtetls" for a long time after Voltaire, bound to a reactionary church and stale dogmas. Nothing unusual there - either about jews or non-Jews.

      The point I'd make is that INSIDE the shtetls, all through the 15th-18th century, when many jewish communities actually thrived (like the one in Holland) and when ideas of the enlightenment were starting to make themselves known widely, the jews still did not emerge from a religion-bound, dogmatic and oppressively authocracy respecting thought style.

      The universalist ideas of freedom, individuality and liberty were not forged in the midst of jewish communities (with a few exceptions noted - on the margins of Europe). These concepts were hardly contained within the jewish tenets of law that governed all behavior and thought for centuries. They came to the jews from without and did not emerge organically within. These are facts. And, as you pointed out - from maimonides to Spinoza - who else was there? uriel d'Acosta - who was literally stepped upon and driven to suicide?

      Yes, once Napoleon issued his emancipation decrees - there were takers among the jews and slowly but surely many emerged into the new haskala. Which is when Judaism - as a culture, rather than a religion - started to take hold. And once they emerged, jewish people made themselves heard and seen through many contributions. But that was because they were able to stand on the shoulders of giants. And one of those giants was Voltaire. Who, with all his accomplishments, was just another human. I am sure he would have torn into the Gypsies, were they around then. But as it was, for him, Jews and devout Christians were all of a cloth. perhaps it was safer to rant against one more than the other. We'll never know.

      Disclaimer: the above comments about the late emergence of Jews into the enlightenment era are my opinions, formed in the course of reading much about the period. Exceptions to the rule are easy to find, I'm sure. But history is what it was, as much as some would like to rewrite portions thereof.

    • Mooser: "Judaism and Jews survived the Nazi Holocaust. I think we will survive Zionism, too". Jews will, but I am not sure in what form Judaism will survive. Zionism clawed its way rather deep into the heart of hearts and it is gobbling up the core, as we speak. I know you'll say that Judaism survived Shabtai Zvi too. But Shabtai never got very far in his messianic aspirations and his movement crashed against the rocks of reality rather early on. By contrast, zionism got very far indeed. Like a particularly voracious plant species it gobbles all in its wake, leaving nothing but spiritual bareness behind. Furthermore, the craziest seem to multiply the fastest, and as they grow, they sow toxic mutations that will wreck havoc for generations to come. And I don't mean that the toxicity is limited to the physical sphere.

      To clarify, I don't think the religion per se will perish because religions never do. What I fear will ultimately be gone- that is once all is said and done - is the reputation of Judaism as a progressive world view. In time, after israel had its chance to commit all the heinous acts it plans, and after its friends and hangers-on did the damage far and wide, dragging the western world into abject, cowardly inaction, and the jews of the world into silence, if not tacit approval, what will be left will be smoking embers of the forward looking, beneficient bits of a culture, leaving only the backward looking skeletal remains of both culture and religion (which cannot be as readily separated as some think)>

      Of course, by the time all this will come to pass, global warming will make its more destructive effects felt far and wide, and perhaps the fate of one ancient religion will be the least of humanity's worries.

      Today, I am Jeremiah.

    • Teapot - there are many secret MW readers in all kinds of places. One could indeed be your next door neighbor! or the babysitter's boyfriend. Or the supermarket checkout clerk.

      Sometimes I wish there could be, like, a virtual space reunion, of the MWs of the world. I think there would be quite a few surprises for many. Though alas, not many are likely to be nubile cheerleader types, or, busy hedge fund managers, or for that matter, people in the prime reproductive years. Just a hunch there. With all due exception to Mooser perhaps. Wherever he may be in his prime or primal years, something tells me his party invitations keep on coming, and his belts are hedged.

    • Keith - I also agree with the need for perspective and the obvious intent to manipulate what happened by TPTB to further their own goals. Glad to see you quote The saker. He doesn't always state things most elegantly but the words he chooses, more often than not, cut to the core.

      I saw the photos of the heads of state marching in France todays. Looking ever so solemn. Commemorating those who died in France and supposedly extolling free speech. MoA pointed out that on the very same day, 40 would-be police recruits - patriots all - got bombed and killed in Yemen. Where was the march for them? over the past weeks Bahrain, one of SA's lap dogs, stepped up the persecution of the freedom fighters there (yes, why don't we call them freedom fighters? why are the MSM mouthpieces referring to them as "shiite activists"?), including some of turned up dead, tortured and/or sentenced to long jail time. Where is the march for the brave Bahrainis who are agitating for freedom of speech?

      BTW, some good pieces you put up on your blog, Keith. You should direct traffic there.

    • Walid, to add to your list - Tamerlan Tsarnaev, shot dead, as was the friend (Todashev?) in Florida - was it? (yes, we heard that tale of the grabbing for the gun, and the threatening with the table, etc. etc.). In fact, some of the similarities with the Boston marathon events are chilling. A known threat, Tamerlan was. But strangely enough, he was off the hook for those three dead in a supposed drug related killing. Not even subject to surveillance after returning from Dagestan On the hook (as was Tobashev) off again, whatever is convenient whenever.

      The younger Tsarnaev was caught alive - just barely - a decision must have been made that this would be more useful than killing him. By somebodies somewhere.

      The similarities with the Boston case don't end up there. Just like the similarities with 9/11. Funny how the terrorists knew to leave behind their IDs in the stolen car. it definitely brings to mind the 9/11 terrorist guy's passport materializing, well worn but intact.

      Not all of these incidents were false flags, perhaps. But the "let it just happen" seems all too plausible, especially when one looks at the cui Bono. Sometimes, it's OK to state the obvious, as inconvenient as it is.

  • A tale of two tests
    • David - you gave up Math for Law? how could you? where do you find clarity these days (moral or otherwise)? you have seen purity once - how can you live without it? (OK there's always Sudoku....). No wonder you feel the urge to concoct morality tests!

    • This is a great test, David. I am partial to Math. It brings much clarity, doesn't it?

  • The moral hysteria of Je suis charlie
    • Was an Egyptian delegation really in attendance of the the rallies? the Sisi people who are persecuting countless people in Egypt for daring to speak their mind?

      I think the only delegation missing is the one from saudi Arabia, led perhaps by the blogger who just got flogged for expressing some opinion.

      yes, the irony.

  • Don't let's go to the war of civilizations again
    • Believe it or not, Mooser, these pro-israel posters would be considered practically righteous saintly apparitions, were they to speak in Israel as they do here. For one thing, they are polite in language (yes, I know, otherwise they'd be out). For another, they do seem, for the most part, to take pains to issue standard Hasbara, each with their few personal "flourishes" and ornamentations. They all put on a good show of "being reasonable" and "engaging with the other side". Some, like JeffB would even add the mandatory humanitarian concern (for all those poor Tibetans and Syrians that the MW pages painstakingly neglect). In Israel, were they to speak as they do here (assuming some, like jeffB could be a bit more condensed - patience is thin over there), they would be lambasted for being "naive", failing to see just how Amaleki Muslims really are and for being weak-kneed liberals trembling before the mighty 'Bama, all for daring to posit that somehow Palestinians have a human dimension too (despited being obvious Amalekites) . And those accusations would be the gentlest of the lot.

      All these posters you mention, Mooser (and we have seen a few more over time) are American or Anglo versions of liberal or semi-liberal zionists. They all seem to enjoy what they probably consider a "debate" never mind not making much hey with their points. The real right wingers are not likely to even bother to engage with a blog like MW, other than in passing through.

      The discourse I speak of inside israel, in hebrew, is far more raw and vitriolic, especially on social media. In general, I'd call it bloody-minded, something that works well in Hebrew, a more guttoral, concise and picturesque language than English. After all, inside israel they have no need for Hasbara. That's something that's done just for the consumption of the educated western useful idiots (idiots to their mind). So just try to imagine what the discourse would be like in parts of the US if people didn't feel the need to mask their true feelings. FOX doesn't even get to the starting line. After all, they too must be "polite".

      Were hophmi, or ivri or jeffB or Gilad or jonS, to ever read the hebrew lingo fluently (ie, other than the rudimentary basics they might have been exposed to in the US or an Israeli ulpan) they would run screaming into the stormy night, covering their ears all they way to kingdom come.

      As for lack of thought, you'll just have to believe me when i sa that what we are dealing with here, on these pages, are veritable Einsteins, cogent in their brilliant coherence, by comparison with the Israeli variant, even the more educated ones.

      Sorry all for the praise I had to heap upon the innocently undeserving. Aren't we the lucky ones, here at MW?

    • I kind of have to agree with Boomer here - especially about one point: the will to change does not exist in Israel. Not at all. Nothing above a smidgen that shows itself among the few groups, like B'tselem and breaking the Silence and Zochrot. Organizations that count hundreds not thousands among their members, each. The reality of israel is far more dire than even Phil is willing to acknowledge.

      For which degrees of separation I count the distance in language as a key factor. Phil and most other progressive American jews do not speak hebrew, and those who understand a little are neither fluent nor comfortable in it. I keep harping on this point, something that no israeli or ex-Israeli has ever challenged me on - the secret is in the language. American jews - conservatives, liberals, progressives and indifferent simply do not know what the discourse is really like in Israel. They have some translations and some accounts. They may be aware of some of it. But they don't know the full extent of what's in the hearts and minds of israelis, a people hardly inclined to keep their opinions to themselves.

      And If they knew, they would grow ashen with despair. I once thought of starting a project with similarly minded and linguistically schooled friends of having snippets of translations from israelis social media, especially facebook. But then, a problem arose. The more I read, the more despondent I became. not because of what I read on the pages of some radicals and settler types. But because of what I saw endorsed - and seconded - on the pages of perfectly normal people, from everyday grandmothers and sweet looking teenagers. At which point I realized that despondency is the enemy of hope. It is actually essential that people like Phil maintain a measure of hope. That things can change, perhaps first among American jews and ultimately among Israelis. It is essential because some must hope against hope to remain motivated to do the hard lifting.

      Sometimes I wish I could be among the activists, bright eyed and a bit naive as some of them are. Be a foot soldier among the righteous. Instead of issuing periodic jeremiads that seem to do no good at all to anyone, myself included. Other than letting off steam, perhaps. But perhaps this is not my choice to make. Some march, some activate, some pontificate, and some just rant. What can the fox do?

      More than anything I wish to be ultimately proven wrong in my prognosis. Stranger things have happened. Parts of humanity did step back from the brink before. Though certainly not all, and not always. Alas, at the moment I don't see anything good happening vis-a-vis I/P other than a steady, almost dull march towards an inevitable drreary conclusion. That because I cannot stop being aware of a collusion of factors - somewhere between the empire of chaos, neoliberalism as an ultimately dead-end economic path (unless neo-feudalism is a legitimate end-point), the rise of extreme radicalism among muslims due to all the reasons that have been cited - accompanied by a fear-motivated radicalism in the West, and above all, the steady and inexorable march of global warning, I see nothing but trouble ahead as far as my own logic will allow me.

      I would give much to have just a somewhat larger sliver of Phil's optimism. may be he could lend me a few bits of his genome?

  • Against self-determination
    • Sorry Elliot, for addressing "Eljay". it's thos "El"'s that get me every time! Thanks for not saying anything....

    • Eljay, thanks for asking. For sure I am in their data base as an ex-israeli. For whatever reason the last time I entered israel with my American passport, I got a couple of raised eye brows, which beget a "please ask me" stare from yours truly. So to punish me, no one did. The time before that, I entered with my American passport and a letter from the consulate saying I returned all my israeli documents. With that letter in hand, I was able to slide straight in, eliciting just a curious, not even reproachful, stare. Don't ask me why it has been so easy for me. Could be the fact that I only speak English, when it's obvious I must be a fluent hebrew speaker. Could be that things are getting progressively worse and it's been 3 years now since my last visit, so things may not be so smooth next time.

      So here's what I suspect - israelis, for the most part play a "dare me" game with each other. A game i almost always win, even as the game barely starts. I get instantly classified - before anyone knows anything - as an alpha, whatever that means for israelis. Somehow to the average israeli something clicks that say 'don't go there or you'll be sorry". May be there is more information about me on their computers - going way back to those high school days where I perfected the paper airplane construction business + a few other odds and ends. Or there is a note about my IDF days, when everyone seemed to be counting the days when my service can be finally "over' for everyone. May be it says something like "don't ask or she'll tell" on the computer screen. May be it says other, worse things, who knows?

      In any case, I'm sure it's a matter of luck who one runs into at the airport, and I may have lucked out. Sounds like you got treated rather well too, all in all considered. I don't intend to go too often in any case. I think my family may not mind all that much - it seems to really weigh on them, having to speak in English and realizing how little they can express themselves in the universal language, even with their degrees, much less the lack thereof. I suspect that most of the time, no one there quite understands what I am saying anyways - they suspect I went over to "the other side" but can't be sure what that "other side" is exactly, so perhaps it's best not to know too much>>>.

      What is it they say? you can't go home again, right? especially if the original home was not the right home for the soul.

    • hophmi: "like many secular Jews, he wants Judaism to reflect his own predilections because while he fetishizes assimilation, deep down, he feels a need for acceptance ."

      You got it all wrong, hophmi. Phil is hardly asking "Judaism" to do anything, much less "reflect his own predilections". Rather, he was implying that Jewish subculture (rather than judaism about which he has not made any comment) is something he has less and less use for, other than as one element in the great American mix, one that he values.

      If anything, it is Phil that's moving, even as "Judaism" (I assume you mean the religion), and to a large extent the "Jewish subculture" is staying put, mired in one place, paralysed in thought and action; all because of one country in the Middle east that has chosen a path of abomination, dragging all that was good and laudable in both religion and culture with it. Israel killed the Yiddish culture and language. It killed the Mizrahi culture, stomping on it for good measure. It treats jewish American culture (including the reform and conservative streams) with contempt (except when it can brag about some accomplished jewish person or another). And it never stopped stealing land and trying to kill the person and soul of others who dared inhabit it. It is in the process of returning the religion of judaism back to a spiritual stone age where golden calves are worshipped and corruption is rampant everywhere throughout the land - among the highest and lowest, the devout and the secular. israel and the toxic version of zionism it promulgates far and wide kill the spirit of anything it will encounter until all that's left is a "Torah" shorn of any meaning to anyone other than the self-selected, most cantankerous members of one part of one tribe. Thus it has ever been for the jews when they lived in their own country, and just because the pattern is not visible to all, does not mean it is ahistoric.

      Phil prefers to move beyond and away from this self-destructive path and finds company with others who share his chosen humanist, enlightenment values, be they jewish or not. That's what he keeps saying - and has been saying - through this blog, nuances and changes notwithstanding. The evolution he is describing has absolutely nothing to do with some secret "desire for acceptance" but with spiritual and intellectual progression, which he is lucky to experience. No one says you have to follow that path, hophmi since you are seemingly comfortable in the embrace of a more tribal mix. Why you are here, on this blog, is the only mystery, though perhaps it speaks of a certain masochism (see? we can all be amateur psychologists).

      I was only surprised you didn't dish out the tried and true "self hate" meme. But I'm sure that's coming next.

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