Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 1806 (since 2009-08-27 21:10:42)

David Samel

David Samel is an attorney in New York City.

Showing comments 1806 - 1801

  • Hypothesis: Cappuccino Israelis will be radicalized against apartheid
    • Alpher's essay is indeed inspiring but it is no doubt on the fringiest margins of Israeli society and offers not the slightest hope for a change in the country's direction. Two points:

      First, one aspect of Israel's rightward drift, now a headlong rush, is demographics. The lunatics have many more children than more secular Jews, and the percentage of the population growing up to believe that God wants them to defend the land with their rifles is inexorably increasing. Second, Israel's "why-do-these-terrorists-want-to-hurt-us" narrative, blind to the country's history of savagery and hell-bent on savage revenge as a morally justified and necessary response, is not peculiar to Israel. We Americans had the same reaction to 9/11 and those who dare to question our role in the world are marginalized, as Alpher must be, as bleeding heart useful idiots.

      Israelis will not depart from human nature and recognize and correct the errors of their ways. They must be forced to do so, hopefully like the similarly intransigent white South Africans were.

  • Debacle for the Israel lobby: Booker jilts Boteach, and Netanyahu sinks AIPAC
    • Boomer, I just read the article you linked and have to say I found it fairly persuasive. I have never known if Netanyahu's obsession with Iran was genuine though grotesquely exaggerated or entirely faked. But the concessions he has won are undeniable, and it's not like this agreement truly makes his country less safe. Also, he has managed to divert world attention from Palestine to Iran.

    • It certainly is nice to see egg on the face of Netanyahu and various allies who deserve so much worse, some of them life imprisonment at hard labor. But I'm not convinced this is such a watershed moment. If Israel started yet another war in Gaza or Lebanon, the Congressional rush to support it would be just as near-unanimous as it's ever been. It never was a reasonable position that Iran posed a serious threat to Israel, and this whole spectacle may have been little more than a side show. If Netanyahu had managed to defeat the deal, there may have been more blowback against him.

  • '16 people were killed in Gaza'-- How the 'NYT' whites out Israeli violence
    • Thanks, James, for your tireless efforts to analyze NYT bias. Times articles such as this one superficially appear to be innocuous, but actually serve to perpetuate false myths and suppress hard truths. I am quite sure the Times hears it from both sides, and that Israel's supporters view it (or claim to do so) as an anti-Israel rag. The Times people probably see themselves as delicately walking a fine line of neutrality between two very passionate viewpoints. Constant criticism from our side is a must. The Times would like to avoid embarrassment, and I don't think your brilliant analyses go un-noticed.

  • Israeli President Reuven Rivlin calls for removal of Israeli flag
    • Interesting choice of Rivlin rather than Netanyahu for this thought experiment. Rivlin is much more unpredictable and capable of occasionally saying something in this spirit, though this gesture would be far too "outrageous."

      Great job, guys, though don't be surprised if you fool some people despite the disclaimer at the beginning which is easy to miss. I think it fooled nettee for one. I missed the disclaimer at first and thought "this is insane" when I was reading it; I had to search afterward for an indication of satire. The headline in the home page where we click contains no such indication.

  • Munayyer-Beinart debate revealed toothless sentimentalism of liberal Zionism
    • Excellent article! "Toothless sentimentalism" is a great phrase. And the suggestion of a nakba museum perfectly sums it up. Beinart is occasionally useful for his analyses and honesty, but his own conclusions are more useful for exposing the vacuous core of liberal Zionism than anything else. For that matter, Benny Morris's historical scholarship is often useful, even though his opinions have become right-wing lunatic fringe.

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  • Notes from the Munayyer-Beinart debate
    • Annie - belated thanks for this extremely well-researched comment. For one thing, I had completely forgotten about my own post on Beinart and Cheney.

    • eGuard, it seems to me that you are misinterpreting everything. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's to serve your rather ludicrous conclusion, highlighted in bold, that "MW gives Beinart the oxygen to delay any improvement." Yes, if only MW attacked Beinart as a "Racist Apartheid Zionist," we would be on our way to Palestinian liberation. Or are you talking about improvement in Beinart's opinion? You weren't really clear on which implausible point you were making. Yes, I praised Beinart for his performance, but my conclusion was that he was soundly trounced by Munayyer. Did you somehow miss that? I was saying that even the best presentation of liberal Zionism still is morally repugnant. If you still have trouble understanding my point, try reading the piece again

      btw your list of my praise somehow included "utopia" and "blabla." The first was a reference to an unattainable ideal, as in Beinart keeps hoping for something that will never come (he described the 1ss as utopian and I was turning the argument on him), and I have never seen anyone else interpret "blabla" as a compliment.

      I'm not sure if you responded to my comment that Beinart gave a big platform to Munayyer and Zayid on Open Zion. Also, have you seen the bullshit about Israel leaving greenhouses for Gaza when they "withdrew," but the Palestinians destroyed them? The best and most thoroughly detailed debunking of the greenhouse story that I have seen came from Beinart.

      Also, do you equally detest as racist Zionists Norman Finkelstein and Uri Avnery? Just curious.

      Look, I absolutely loath Dershowitz, but on occasion I have noted his skillfulness in presenting his lies to the gullibly faithful. I even find Ann Coulter witty sometimes. I certainly don't put Beinart in the same category as the Dersh or Coulter, but I'm not sure how you didn't (or pretended not to) get that my praise of Beinart was lukewarm at best.

    • Sorry, bintbiba, meant no criticism. I just thought it was an interesting topic regarding the demeanor of debate participants. People love live debates as good theater, but I find them somewhat less reliable than written discussions of issues. The best example is Dershowitz, who has mastered the art of speaking with conviction, occasionally outrage, and is never at a loss for words. He "convincingly" makes so many absolutely false points that his debating opponent faces the dilemma of spending time addressing them (if he has caught the errors in real time) or making his own points. On paper, Dersh is easier to refute, though debunking him always takes more time and space than he has spent with his lies. And what if Yousef had been less impressive? It would not have made his position less meritorious, but only have given that impression. Oral debates often leave me frustrated for these reasons but this one was quite good.

    • kritis, I think you're absolutely right that Beinart was (not so?) subtly making the comparison of Palestinian refugees to Arab Jewish immigrants to Israel. That certainly is a common refrain.

      echinococcus, I'll tell you why I have some respect for Beinart, even though I obviously disagree with him. I briefly refer to his debunking of hasbara, but it is actually worthy of more time. He gave the most comprehensive response to the Gaza greenhouses nonsense I have ever seen (in a haaretz column I think). And that is far from the only example. I also read through his book the Crisis of Zionism, and while I found his justifications for his love of Israel to be wrong and at times offensive, I found myself in admiration of many of his honest and thoughtful criticisms. In fact, I don't think it would be terribly unfair to compare him to Norman Finkelstein, whose two-state views are quite similar. Beinart's criticism of Israel may be more politely expressed, but it is quite genuine and potent. Incidentally, I thought Steven Salaita's comparison of Finkelstein with Dershowitz in electronic intifada was horribly unfair - link to

    • Thanks, HB - I was unaware of the talk of reunifying Czechoslovakia. In any event, we always hear how Jews have lived in Palestine "from time immemorial." While that does not justifiy a state in which they rule over non-Jews, it does show that the two peoples can live together. Your Cuba example is well-taken, and more recently, the threat of boycott forced the state of Indiana to reconsider its "religious freedom" legislation allowing discrimination against gays. Was that the worst human rights problem in the world?

      btw, what's the deal with Palau, Micronesia, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, etc. These tiny Pacific island countries routinely support Israel in lopsided 150 - 6 UN votes. Anybody have any specifics?

    • Thanks Bornajoo and bintbiba for your kind comments. You make an interesting point about Beinart being more excitable, but I don't think I agree with your conclusion. I'm not sure there is any correlation between calmness and persuasiveness (or truthfulness). I have seen Edward Said lose his cool (in response to an audience question) without any adverse effect on his credibility. And while Dershowitz always appears passionate (sometimes with restless leg syndrome), I don't think his manner undermines his arguments at all. I think he's a very effective speaker, until one closely examines the substantive content of his remarks. Yousef did keep calm, but it was the clarity and logic of his arguments that won the day. But yours is an interesting observation.

    • Yonah, perhaps you're right about the highly significant point (sarcasm alert) of whether Beinart was embarrassed by his previous remarks. Maybe I was projecting, because if I ever said that I was quite willing to compromise my liberal principles to deprive another people of equal rights, I'd be embarrassed about it. And your argument that he was not embarrassed by his original statement because he explained it is not exactly a model of logical clarity. In any event, I'm somewhat embarrassed to be engaging on this issue.

      As for your criticism of my effort, I put in several valuable hours to compose this piece. How long did you spend on your comment? I see that you did not expend the effort to respond to my other point about Beinart's much more "acceptable" soft discrimination being unattainable.

    • Thanks, just

    • pabelmont, the theory put forward in support of the "piss process" (nice turn of phrase) is that land swaps would enable hundreds of thousands of settlers to remain in the West Bank while equal amounts of land blah blah blah. I am in complete agreement with you that this whole thing is never gonna happen.

      Nevertheless, I believe it was Munayyer at this debate who said that all such proposals require at least 100,000 settlers to be moved back, and Norman Finkelstein thinks it would be about 200,000. M clearly believes it will never happen, while F is hopeful that it could. btw, I argued that Finkelstein's prescription is unworkable here -

    • Shingo, you make a good counter-argument. However, I tried to imagine this debate from the point of view of someone more neutral or uninformed, and found it "potentially persuasive" only to such people, not to myself. To a great extent, debates are like theater, and I can appreciate the debating skills of even a deplorable human being making reprehensible points (think Alan Dershowitz). I was simply finding Beinart to be skillful.

      As for pabelmont's point, that rather obvious ploy on Beinart's part escaped my attention. My bad. It is interesting that a Moroccan Jewish immigrant's acquisition of a home owned by Palestinians to which they were illegally denied the right of return should seem more palatable than a European Jew's actions. Beinart bet on that.

    • Yonah, you're a little bit right and a whole lot wrong. Your description of Beinart's position seems accurate to me, but your larger point that these are relative trivialities that we, not to mention Palestinians themselves, should find acceptable is wrong. First, Beinart is not running things, and as I said, his vision of an Israel that is as egalitarian as it can afford to be while still remaining Jewish is unattainable. The actual version of Zionism that is in place is perhaps not as odious as South African apartheid with respect to non-Jewish citizens (though as bad or even worse with respect to those under occupation) but it is a miserable second-class (third? fifth? tenth?) existence and getting worse with each passing year. Beinarts don't run the country.

      Second, what you describe as "immigration" is enormous. It means that I as an American Jew can "return" to the land my ancestors may or may not have lived in thousands of years ago, but Palestinians who were forced out, fleeing for their lives, decades ago, cannot.

    • Marc, as I understand it, Beinart is arguing that Jews and Palestinians are two distinct peoples with their own national ambitions, and other countries that have tried to incorporate such split populations have not fared too well: Czech and Yugo split up, Belgium is rocky (I guess), etc. Therefore it can't work in Israel/Palestine either. I think his caution is well-founded but his conclusion is wrong. As I said, forming one state is not a light-switch operation and will require a good deal of care, but the alternative should be seen as unacceptable.

      As for the double standard argument, it is so morally vacuous that I don't know where to start. Your first point sounds good enough for me. I wrote about this years ago on this site: link to and I'm sure there are many other more impressive analyses.

  • In NY, a Palestinian and Israeli detail forgotten war in Gaza -- 'wiping families off the planet'
    • Beinart is definitely moving towards the very left side of that spectrum

      I get what you mean but would not completely agree, Born. I think Beinart has resided on that side of the spectrum for quite some time now, and hasn't really been moving much at all. He always has impressed me with his honesty and often with his analysis as well. I once read his debunking of the whole Gaza greenhouse nonsense and thought it was brilliant. His Crisis of Zionism book is filled with great observations.

      Yet he is quite disappointing. He said years ago that he was willing to compromise his liberal principles to tolerate Israel treating its non-Jewish citizens unequally as a necessary and inherent part of being a Jewish State. I honestly thought he would soon realize how awful that sounds and evolve into an anti- or at least a non-Zionist. But it hasn't happened. I think he still would stand by those words.

      I plan to be at the debate and will see if there's anything new from him. I'm quite excited that he will be opposed from the left.

  • Is there room for liberal Zionists in an anti-Zionist movement?
    • Thanks for this very thoughtful essay. One of the problems in discussing "liberal Zionists" is the extraordinarily vast spectrum of individuals described by that term. Ahmed includes Dershowitz as an LZ, which I suppose is arguable because he would so describe himself - a Zionist who believes in the necessity and permanence of a Jewish State but also supports the two-state solution. But he also is a despicable liar who whitewashes the historical record and responds to any pressure Israel to end the occupation with hysterical, false smears of anti-Semitism. On the other hand, Uri Avnery is a liberal Zionist who has a long record of exposing Israeli crimes, ridiculing Israeli leaders, and even defying Israeli "law." The differences could not be more stark. I would include Norman Finkelstein, Jerry Slater, Kathleen Peratis, even Peter Beinart among those honest liberal Zionists who either support the notion of a Jewish State or at least tolerate it but also offer honest appraisals of Israel's history and genuinely support some degree of pressure for change.

      Another problem is the huge spectrum in what is meant by "engaging" with liberal Zionists, ranging from conferences and discussions over the extent to which Israeli Jews should rule over the non-Jewish population, to invitations to LZ's to shed once and for all their "chauvinist nationalism" and opt for "true liberalism," as Ahmed puts it. It makes perfect sense to reject the former while engaging in the latter. I think that expressions of contempt for all liberal Zionists is counter-productive, as sincere liberals can be a major source of potential converts to anti-Zionism.

      My own history bears this out. I collected "charity" for the JNF in little blue boxes as a child, became very gradually disenchanted with Israeli "excesses" that I considered over-reactions to actual provocations, but did not make the leap to re-thinking the entire Zionist enterprise until well into my 40's. I think it entirely reasonable for those who saw the light at an earlier age to ask what took me so long, but it is not easy to discard ideologies that were instilled at an early age. Movement in the right direction is rarely immediate or even swift. I say this not in defense of my own slow-moving evolution but only to emphasize that I am not alone, and that if any insults were hurled my way back then, it only would have retarded my progress. It is one thing to refuse to compromise on the inviolability of the principle of equality, but another to repel those who are moving "too slowly" to embrace it.

      Of course, it's much easier for me to tolerate those who are making the same glacial journey that I once did than it might be for Palestinians who have been enduring rank racism for their entire lives. There may be a fine line between reasonable expressions of impatience and nasty ones of outright contempt, but I think it is worth recognizing that line and staying on the right side of it. A couple of years ago, I winced at the hit job on Norman Finkelstein authored by Steven Salaita and published by Ali Abunimah - link to, even though I had criticized in detail NF's two-state plan the year before - link to and link to The Salaita essay directly draws an equivalence between Finkelstein and Dershowitz, saying they both envision the same end product. I think Finkelstein has acted rudely and wrongly himself in his criticism of those he sees to his left, but lumping him with Dershowitz is a fratricidal exercise that is more likely to fracture than strengthen the community of those who would like to hold Israel's feet to the fire. Rejecting Finkelstein's enormous contributions to the debate seems enormously ill-advised.

      There has been much progress in recent years in shifting the terms of the debate. What once was unmentionable in mainstream media - a vision of true democracy and equal rights for all - is now finding more and more exposure. But there has been no relief from the misery imposed on millions of Palestinians. More converts to the cause are required, and entreaties to liberal Zionists, without compromise but also without rancor, are likely to bear fruit. Distinguishing between people like Finkelstein and Dershowitz seems like a no-brainer as well.

  • Finkelstein on God and Dershowitz
    • Thank you ckg for that link. She makes some great points regarding Dersh putting himself in hot water by initially promising to produce documents that clear his name and explicitly suggesting that the other lawyers could have easily fact-checked themselves and should have known their client was lying. His unequivocal assertions to that effect were obviously implausible at the time - how could one check travel records to determine that he and she did not have sex on an island he admittedly visited? - and now they may be coming back to haunt him in his effort to win in court.

    • Laugh of the day! Thanks Norman

  • We may not have Netanyahu to kick around anymore
    • I think Donald's got it right here, as usual.

    • But haven't anti-Zionists become more empowered simply because Netanyahu is such a schmuck? I get your De Klerk reference but De Klerk would not have done the things he did without international pressure, and Herzog will see a reduction in such pressure as a goodwill measure to give him a chance at forging peace, that is, the 2ss that is not going to happen. Also, I don't think there is any reason to believe that Herzog will relieve any oppression on Palestinians. If anything, he may feel he has to prove his mettle by being as brutal as Bibi.

    • Myself I will cheer to see Netanyahu’s back. Let alone his war crimes in Gaza, no one has done more to delegitimize the Israel lobby in U.S. politics than this unpleasant man, not even Walt and Mearsheimer.

      Not sure what you mean here, Phil. Isn't this a reason to hope he remains PM? The only satisfaction in seeing him voted out is to see a guy who deserves life imprisonment get a little egg on his face. Isn't that outweighed by the danger that the world will give his successor a free pass for a few years, and the presumption of good will and "generous offers" that were bestowed upon Rabin, Barak and Olmert?

  • Netanyahu's consciousness-raising
    • Ah, Ruth Wisse, author of one of the most contemptibly racist remarks ever uttered: "Palestinian Arabs [are] people who breed and bleed and advertise their misery." Yes, Ruth, they actually have children, bleed when you bomb them, and complain about being bombed. Would she have later obtained her Harvard faculty position had she described Jews as people who bleed others dry, choke on zyclon b, then open a Holocaust museum in every corner of the globe? Still, I have to grudgingly admit that her prose is more impressive from a rhetorical standpoint than mine.

  • Liberal Zionist arguments against one state are born of moral or political weakness
    • I join the chorus of appreciation of your brilliant essay, Ahmed. While people like Manekin and Beinart reject one state of equal citizens for supposedly insurmountable difficulties like the uncertain composition of the army or the loss of a safe haven for world Jewry, they do not seem to be troubled by consigning millions of people permanently to a second-class existence in the land of their birth and even the country of their citizenship. No, they can live with that, even if they would (rightfully) be outraged if any other country on Earth treated its Jewish population precisely the way Israel treats its non-Jews.

      There is another prominent liberal Zionist argument not discussed here because it was not proffered by either Manekin or Beinart: the idea that Israeli Jews have shown themselves to be so stubborn about ending the occupation and accepting a true two-state solution; they would never agree to a one-state solution that requires dissolution of the Jewish State. This reasoning suffers from the same moral and political weakness.

    • Peter, as the invaluable Hasbara Buster has pointed out, there were many notable instances of Jewish (pre-Israel) terrorism against Arab civilians in the 1930's. link to

  • Remembering Bob Simon
    • Even gutsier than the Christian Palestinian story was this one about the death of the two-state solution. Simon alluded to it in his 2009 appearance on Charlie Rose and it is an absolute must-see. link to I remember seeing it live and being shocked at how candid he was. The scenes at the Palestinian house taken over by Israeli troops were amazing.

  • I misremember Iraq
    • This is a very thoughtful and inspiring essay, but ultimately I disagree with one of its main points. All of the worthy analysis here could have been made a month ago before the Brian Williams affair began. In fact, over the years, many people did make these points, and while Scott Long's discussion of the insane lies of our government and nauseating fealty of the media in the post 9/11 world is extremely valuable and deserves repetition over and over again, it really has nothing to do with Williams. I'm glad that these recent events prompted Long to remind us of something we should never forget, but IMO they do nothing to exculpate Williams from his rather shameful behavior.

      I completely understand Long's recollection of something he did not witness on 9/11. I have a close friend who was in his office a block away and told his wife that day that he saw people jump to their death, but some time later claimed that he never witnessed such horrors. I get that. But my office also was a block away and I would never imagine that I was there with them because I was not. People who were in the office know they were there, terrified, but they do not imagine that they actually were in the WTC buildings for some reason. Williams's concoction is of another order entirely from Long's illusory remembrance of seeing the tower fall from a distance. Moreover, Williams's apology refused to acknowledge incontrovertible facts and offered insincere excuses for his "error."

      Long of course is absolutely right that the government's lies and the media's subservience are incomparably greater sins than Williams's. But murder is a much worse crime than burglary of an empty home or shoplifting for that matter, and that comparison is not a defense to either of those lesser crimes.

      The article as a whole is a must-read, but Williams should be shown the door. There no doubt are many others in the media who deserve to be shamed and fired for worse offenses, but this is simply inexcusable.

  • Gideon Levy's argument for Netanyahu
    • As usual, Donald makes a lot of sense. Three quick things I would add. First, Netanyahu's probable election victory will make him happy, and that is one reason to root against it, though kind of a weak one.

      Second, I sort of feel like a baseball fan deciding who to root for in a game between two teams I care nothing about, trying to figure out which outcome would best benefit my favorite team's chances of getting into the post-season. This is a real dilemma for many fans, but obviously their ultimate choice is meaningless because it will not affect the game anyway. Still, Levy's analysis is well worth considering, even if our individual preferences are inconsequential.

      Finally, I usually am unsympathetic to arguments similar to Levy's. The granddaddy of all is the German Communists of the 1930's who welcomed Hitler's election on the theory that after the German people became disgusted with him, they would turn all the way to the left. That did not go so well. But here, Levy is right. Netanyahu, miserable and evil as he is, probably does not make life any worse for Palestinians than any of the other candidates would, and whatever marginal difference there might be in that, this situation will not be resolved without massive world-wide pressure on Israel. Netanyahu has shown himself "admirably" capable of inspiring the required outrage (even pissing off some in the US Congress - no mean feat for an Israeli PM), while more "liberal" alternative victors would no doubt be given a great deal of leeway and an extended opportunity to engage in delaying, unsuccessful "negotiations." A Netanyahu defeat will probably postpone any ultimate redemption of Palestinian rights without providing any significant measure of relief for their short-term misery. As for Iran, I don't think it will make a difference. I don't think any Israeli PM will start a war with Iran or prompt the US to do so, regardless of the insanity of their rhetoric in that regard. I think they use the Iranian "existential threat" to distract attention from pressure on the Palestinian issue. "How can we negotiate with Palestinian terrorists while Iranian terrorists are threatening to nuke us?!?!?!"

      Rooting for Netanyahu - who would have guessed!

  • Protesters disrupted NYC City Council in defense of human rights
    • Baruch, how on earth could the protesters have anticipated that the New York City Council would be passing on an Auschwitz resolution? If I had been planning this, it would have been the last thing I thought of. I would have assumed the Council would be doing its usual business. And aren't you at all troubled that this has been deliberately mis-reported as a protest against the Auschwitz resolution? Isn't that a far more egregious action?

      As for your question number 1, why do you even ask? How could you possibly suspect the answer is no?

    • The writers of this post want you to believe that they are concerned with the human rights of Palestinians, but Council Member David Greenfield knows better - they are simply upset that Hitler did not finish the job. Watch for yourselves:

      link to

      It is somewhat fascinating to watch Greenfield work himself into a feverish lather culminating in the Hitler charge. It raises the question of whether such pro-Israel politicians and pundits cynically lie and distort or honestly believe the shit they say. Ultimately it may not matter, but I think such a question has to be answered on a case-by-case basis. This guy, despite the insanity of what he is saying, appears sincere to me.

      btw, when I clicked on the link to the video, it did not work.

  • Catnip and civilians -- a report card on the 'New York Times'
    • While it's nice to see the NYT reporting on both these developments, there are some things to keep in mind. Both Rudoren nor Kershner were reporting on matters published by others - a documentary film and the report of a human rights organization. Neither set out to do an investigative article on these matters, and both insulated themselves from pro-Israel criticism by simply reporting what others have said publicly. Moreover, the seemingly isolated remarks that Jerry Slater criticizes are enormously significant. Catnip? What an unbelievable thing to say! Can you imagine Rudoren using that word to describe any action of the Muslim/Arab/Persian world (or Russian or Chinese etc) criticized by the West? "The Charlie Hebdo murders are being used as catnip by those who regularly condemn acts of violence by Muslims" is one sentence you will never read, in the NYT or anywhere. And Kershner's report of B'tselem's exoneration of Israel of the accusation of deliberate targeting of civilians feeds the narrative that Israel's rampages are merely unfortunate "excesses," not the acts of murder and terrorism that they truly are.

      Articles like this are very important. The Times is bombarded by criticism from both sides, and it is pretty clear that they are more afraid of one side than the other. Shaming them from this direction is a necessary effort, even if it is not as successful as one might hope.

  • The betting line on Netanyahu's speech to Congress
    • Adam great post! I was l'ing o l.
      More seriously, I am not convinced this whole affair is anything more than an embarrassment that will be endured. I would be surprised (pleasantly) if it signifies any meaningful change in policy or congressional obsequiousness to Israel

  • Finkelstein on Joan Peters's legacy (and Dershowitz's legal troubles)
    • I did not think of it in terms of occupation, tokyobk. I thought of it in terms of recognizing that Palestinians were disadvantaged by the Zionist enterprise of creating a Jewish State where they lived. That seems to be such a no-brainer, but many (Jewish) people who will clearly see that Native Americans and Maoris and Aborigines and South Africans etc. were harmed by European invaders controlling their lives (and deaths) just can't see it for Palestinians. As for heavy majority favoring a two state solution, most still blame the Palestinians for their refusal to accept Israeli offers. If you are right about what NF was thinking, good for you, but I would strongly disagree with the way he put it.

    • Interesting question, bilal. A decade ago, before the sex scandal broke, someone tried to answer it - Vicky Ward in Vanity Fair link to She has recently been on TV saying a) she doesn't know why so many people consider Epstein such a genius, as he seemed quite average to her; b) the creep hit on her, having an assistant call to tell her she is attractive, when she was being very professional and was pregnant with twins; and c) most importantly, she learned of his sexual tastes when a mother and two teenage daughters tearfully told their story to her. However, her editor told her not to put it in the article.

      All that being said, I think the mysterious question of his rise to fame and fortune and his sexual appetites are two unrelated issues. I think he was mostly bankrolled by some wealthy people - Leslie Wexner and others? - and that once he had unlimited funds, he indulged his pre-existing taste for teenagers.

    • Nitpicking is a dangerous business, tree. What goes around comes around. Whom did you praise for the article? Alex? ;-)

    • Finkelstein does a great job reminding us of how destructive Israel’s 1982 invasion of Israel was, dwarfing the more recent horrifying attacks on Gaza and Lebanon. The FTI project may well have begun in response to the negative reaction to that war, but as I recall, Israel was getting plenty of defense already. The notion that Israel’s invasion was only in response to relentless rocket attacks by Palestinians from Lebanon already was firmly cemented in place weeks after the invasion had begun, with massive amnesia about the total absence of any such attacks for 11 months previously. In fact, many people today still remember these fictitious attacks – even Jimmy Carter in his 2006 book. We also hear about the thousands of rocket attacks from Lebanon that followed Israel’s 2000 withdrawal – another false claim. Still, there may have been significant concern over PR that prompted Peters or whoever to embark on this project.

      One difference between 1982 and the last decade is that I recall little or no claim back then that the terrorists were hiding behind civilians. Perhaps Israel did not believe that it had to resort to such excuse, which has recently proven to be extremely effective in my view.

      I disagree with Finkelstein’s estimation that 80% of American Jews recognize that Palestinians have a legitimate grievance. While I have no poll numbers to cite, my personal experience leads me to believe the number is far lower, though probably on the increase for reasons he suggests.

  • Living in Israel isn't the solution to antisemitism
    • Many liberal Zionists - even genuine ones, who make valuable contributions to the debate - defend their preference for the continued existence of a Jewish State by arguing that it is a necessary last refuge lest murderous or genocidal anti-Semitism rear its ugly head anywhere in the world. Let's put aside for the moment the question of whether it is moral to have a state that distinguishes among its citizens based on ethnicity and ancestry because of the highly speculative fear of Holocaust II. There is an even more fundamental flaw in this liberal Zionist argument.

      If global anti-Semitism is the problem, is Israel truly the answer? What is more likely to exacerbate the problem of anti-Semitism than an aggressively militaristic state that purports to act on behalf of the Jewish people worldwide and actively enjoys the strong support of a large percentage of Jews living outside its borders? Anti-Semitism is not caused by Jews demanding full equality and security in the lands in which they live. It is heightened by a Jewish State that grants rights to Jews all over the world over people of the "wrong" ethnicity who were born in historic Palestine, and regularly goes on killing sprees of untermenschen to "defend" itself. In other words, Israel is the problem not the solution. An uptick in anti-Semitism does not enhance the necessity for the Jewish State, but should invite scrutiny of the jeopardy Israel poses to Jews throughout the world. Of course, this fits in nicely with the agenda of people like Netanyahu, who do not at all mind causing an upsurge in anti-Semitism in order to motivate Jews to "return" to their supposed homeland.

      As for Jews being able to protect themselves and not rely on anyone else to do it for them, that is not the case anyway. Israel relies extremely heavily on the world's greatest superpower, a country that is 90+% of Christian background. Moreover, countries that have a significant Jewish population are extremely likely to protect their citizens from anti-Semitic attack, even to the extent of arresting people like Dieudonne.

  • The legacy of Joan Peters and 'From Time Immemorial'
    • Felipe, an interesting question with no definitive answer, only speculation. Here is mine. Dershowitz is a very smart and talented guy who thinks quickly on his feet and makes a very dynamic oral presentation. He is a master at expressing outrage and indignation and sincere conviction while making entirely false statements. He generally knows what he can get away with and what he cannot, although he occasionally makes mistakes like he did here with the Peters footnotes.

      Let me give you just one example. With this plagiarism allegation, he asked Harvard to investigate him. He did this for at least two reasons. He wanted to be able to score points by claiming that he requested it, but much more importantly, he wanted to frame and narrow the question being investigated. If the question was whether he got the Twain quote from Peters or found it independently and miraculously used the same six ellipses and made the same transcription errors, the answer would be obvious - of course he plagiarized. But instead, he framed the question as to whether it was permissible for him to cite only the original Twain and not Peters if he independently got the quote from Twain. Harvard said of course it's OK. Now he swears up and down that he has been cleared, and it takes an awful lot of peering beneath the surface to see where he is lying.

    • Pixel, thanks for the kind comments. I've been around for quite a while - about six years or so - both with posts and comments, but I have been rather quiet the past few months.

    • jackdaw, let me get this straight. When you said

      even the most adamant of Peter’s Israeli leftist critics—Yehoshua Porath of the Hebrew University, who penned a highly influential takedown of ‘From Time Immemorial’ in the New York Review of Books did not dispute this basic fact that there is overwhelming evidence of extensive, in-migration from the predominantly Arab to the Jewish-settled areas.

      you made a mistake. You really meant to say that even Peters's most dedicated fellow hasbarists do not dispute her. Don't sweat it - happens to me all the time. I'm always accidentally attributing comments critical of Israel to Netanyahu, Oren, Dershowitz etc. when I really mean Finkelstein, Chomsky, Cockburn, etc. I hate it when that happens.

    • Bill, sorry for the omission. Looks like you spent your time at Columbia Law more productively than I did. btw, you were mentioned in Phil's article link to although he seems to have quoted Anthony Lewis's reference to you. Good for you for being one of the very earliest to challenge this phony!

    • jackdaw, Annie already accused you of fabricating the Porath "generally sound" quote. What about your claim that Porath said that “during the Mandate the country absorbed 100,000 legal and illegal Arab immigrants and their offspring—a figure that is not very different from Miss Peters’s estimates,”? Did Porath really write that? I can't find it. Are you just making up quotes? I apologize if you are able to identify where these quotes are in Porath's piece and I just didn't see them, but if you cannot, you're really an asshole.

      btw, Porath identifies politically as a centrist. Why do you call him a leftist? Does that term mean "truth-teller" to you?

    • I'm not so sure about that, blah. If there is one thing admirable about this guy, it is his energy. I think he's quite capable of spitting these books out. Also, in all seriousness, they are remarkably consistent in their dishonesty with his public appearances. When I read these books, it is like I can hear him saying these things. They are quite consistent with his voice. And I think it might be difficult to find ghost writers who would think and act like that. (With Peters, I would find it easier to believe that she did not really write this book; she seems like a real dummy in her public appearances.)

      Most importantly, though, it doesn't make a difference. I think Finkelstein made a big mistake in accusing him of not writing The Case for Israel. It's fairly un-provable, and gives Dersh a platform to answer with indignation. Not writing the books does not even make Dersh look worse than he should. His authorship should be taken at face value, and he should be blamed for the full content of his books.

  • A tale of two tests
    • hophmi, your "whataboutery" complaint is interesting. First, you confusingly group it together with the separate complaint about "moral equivalence" you already made, one which has been thoroughly addressed by other commenters. Essentially, we don't agree with your assessment of Israel's motives and actions. Nothing more needs to be said there.

      I also don't get your complaint about referring to human beings as "bodies." Dead humans are often referred to that way. What would you prefer? Corpses? Or, in the case of most victims of Israeli aggression, dismembered and/or incinerated corpses? Yes, these words are intended to have dramatic effect, but they are a reaction to the stubborn blindness of people such as yourself to the undeniable fact that the lives of all people have equal worth.

      As to "whataboutery" itself, your criticism would be valid if I pulled a hasbara stunt and defended the Paris murders by saying, "Why is everyone complaining about this incident? There were more dead over there." But I'm not remotely defending this or the killing of the two cops. I condemn these murders as much as anyone, but I do note that we have a shameful tolerance for the far greater numbers of dead caused by our side, over which we have at least a theoretical degree of control. When you say, "What about Syria? or Darfur? or Chechnya?," you are trying to deflect criticism of Israel, whose killing you sanction, by accusing me of being insufficiently interested in other mass killings I can do nothing about.

    • Danaa, math only brings clarity in this area to people who accept the premise that all lives should be valued equally. But while we're on the subject, I was a math major 40(!) years ago, and while I've had very little occasion to use it since, I still try to brush up occasionally.

    • Walid, I strongly agree with your point, generally. However, given the brevity of my post, I had to choose one number without explanation. I chose 500 children because of the "dramatic effect" and also because some of the other 1600 were armed fighters and not civilians. Nor do I want to exclude those armed fighters from the list of tragic victims because they were for the most part defending their Gazans from a murderous onslaught by a foreign power. But on balance, I went with the lower, less impeachable number. For the same reason, I went with 120,000 for the Iraqi victims of the war, even though the actual total no doubt is much much higher.

      Still, I admit that when people talk about "women and children" killed, it always annoys me somewhat as it tends to devalue the lives of adult men, or at least suggest they are more legitimate targets. I committed a similar sin here, but did think about it and decided to go with it anyway.

    • Here is a brilliant and more thoughtful expression of what I was trying to say
      link to

    • Ditto, Keith. There is a legal presumption that someone intends the natural and probable consequences of his/her actions, and the fact that such carnage was not only predictable but predicted makes W Jones's distinction very dubious. Breivik gets psych tests to determine if he's nuts, but no one would ever suggest that appropriate for sanctioned mass killers like US Presidents. Forty-plus years ago, I saw John Lennon on Dick Cavett saying that the perpetrators of the Vietnam War were truly insane. At the time I thought his analysis was a bit superficial but with hindsight, I realize he got to the obvious heart of the matter.

  • Dershowitz named in lawsuit alleging abuse of underage sex slave
    • Also, Dersh claims: "She has charged Bill Clinton with having sex with her on the island, when Secret Service records will obviously show he was never on the island." Aren't both of those statements false? She has claimed she saw Clinton on the island, not that they had sex. And I have seen multiple reports that Clinton was on the island - has anyone denied that? And how would Dersh know what the Secret Service records would reveal?

    • What great news to start the new year! Let's suppose Dershowitz is completely innocent. It's certainly possible. If so, there is no better candidate for getting dragged through the mud. Dershowitz has spent a lifetime not just engaging in vitriolic attacks on others, but deliberately making false and fabricated smears. His list of victims includes Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Steve Walt, John Mearsheimer, Desmond Travers, Norman Finkelstein, Alex Cockburn, Noam Chomsky, Richard Goldstone, and that's just a few off the top of my head. No offense intended to the many I have left off this list. Dersh's non-stop barrage of thoroughly dishonest allegations against these people, all of whom have infinitely more integrity than he has ever exhibited in his entire life, is the most despicable feature of this utterly contemptible human being. So if Dersh is entirely innocent of this particular charge, he is still getting a tiny taste of the bad karma he so richly deserves. I must admit that I would hate to see false sex charges leveled at most people I thoroughly disagree with - Abe Foxman, Elie Wiesel, Chuck Schumer, even Pat Lynch, people who should be fairly criticized for things they actually have said and done - but with Dersh, it's delightful to watch, whether true or not.

      Of course, there is no reason to believe he is entirely innocent anyway. He is not entitled to the presumption of innocence among the general population; that is only a right he deserves if he is ever a criminal defendant. Each of us is free to draw our own conclusion and engage in our own speculation. Dersh's denials mean nothing, because even an average guy who would engage in such behavior would deny it, and Dersh has shown himself to be a way-above-average liar.

      Moreover, his denials so far seem to fit the pattern of non-denial denial. When he says "the allegations against me are completely false," he is not even denying that he had sex with one or more females provided to him by Epstein. Maybe he is claiming they are false because she was not underage, or because she was not forced to service him but was a willing participant, etc. It reminds me of Bill Clinton's 1992 insistence that Gennifer Flowers's claim of a 12-year affair with him was absolutely false, and he later admitted he had an affair but it was not continuous for 12 years.

      My hunch is that there is some truth to the accusations - who knows how much - but I suspect he will never have to answer for anything in a court of law. Even if he is completely innocent, though, he is finally getting a small measure of the derision he deserves.

  • On eve of University of California honor, Bill Maher defends anti-Muslim hate speech in Vanity Fair interview
    • Sorry, but I disagree. Let me say at the outset that I detest the inexcusable Islamophobia expressed by people like Maher, Harris, and Dawkins, and think it truly is dangerous and potentially threatening to Muslims both here and abroad. However, I do think it is unfair to infer that Maher endorses or would have no problem with genocide of Muslims because of the way he phrased his answer here. He was not offering a comprehensive rebuttal to Armstrong's concerns, and said the first thing that came into his mind, which is that Muslims are worse than Jews. He did not imply that because of their religion's supposed inherent evil, Muslims should be treated as Jews were during the Holocaust. I'm fairly satisfied that he didn't add such a disclaimer because he did not think of it. Maher has a big platform and never shies from expressing his views. Is there any reason to believe that he secretly hopes Muslims will be herded into camps but has shied away from saying so, only to have his true feelings revealed in his poorly thought-out extemporaneous answer to this question?

      I find it uncomfortable to defend Maher on this, as his public pronouncements on this issue are indeed racist, ignorant, and deserving of condemnation. Ben Affleck barely scratched the surface of Maher's and Harris's phony claim to moral superiority of their civilizations. In fact, their brand of Islamophobic atheism might very well contribute to a climate in which Muslims are dehumanized and their deaths at the hands of more enlightened forces (yay us!) deemed less tragic. But I don't think it does any good to accuse Maher of implying something he did not say and, in my opinion, did not mean, and make a charge he can easily refute.

  • Why Israel's Jewish nationality bill is a big deal
    • Thanks MH for articulating what I felt about this article. With a few small changes, it could have been authored by Alan Dershowitz, who idolizes Aharon Barak as well. The only way in which this bill as "a big deal" is that it strips away the thin, transparent veneer of "democratic and Jewish" that was always impossible to reconcile in the first place. I'm not so sure it's a bad thing at all - it simply codifies what has been in place since 1948 and what Israel's "liberal" defenders have struggled so hard to deliberately overlook.

  • 'Exalted anti-Zionists' are now driving the conversation
    • Chomsky is surely correct that Israel is quite comfortable with the status quo and is unlikely to yield to any significant change without considerable pressure. Surely the one state solution is not right around the corner (though the Soviet empire and apartheid did disappear only a few years after appearing to be virtually permanent). But why does he think that the two-state solution is more achievable? Israel has managed to perpetuate the current situation, even make it increasingly worse, despite the "international consensus" that has been in place for decades. Simply because this consensus exists does not make it more feasible to compel Israel to comply.

      There are three major problems with the 2ss. First, because of the hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers, it would be impossible to draw reasonable boundaries for the Palestinian state, even with territory swaps. Chomsky has elsewhere proposed that Israel could force removal of settlers by announcing that they no longer will be protected by the IDF after a certain date. (So has Norman Finkelstein.)That strikes me as unrealistically optimistic. There will be at the very least tens of thousands of settlers who refuse to budge, well-armed with both weapons and the unshakable conviction that God wants them to use those weapons to protect Jewish sovereignty over their land. If Israel abandons these people to their fate in a new Palestine, armed conflict between the new government and the armed settlers who refuse to abide by Palestinian rule will quickly ensue, and Israel will step in to protect its recalcitrant "expatriates."

      Second, Israel will insist on some degree of control over a Palestinian state. It will not allow two equal, independent states for two peoples any sooner than it will allow a one-state solution of equality for all citizens. The Palestinians will not accept this loss of sovereignty. Does Chomsky's international consensus include Israel's right to control security in a future Palestine?

      Finally, even in the extremely unlikely event that the two state solution is implemented despite the problems discussed above, the inability of a Jewish State to provide equality to its non-Jewish citizens will be a blemish that refuses to fade. At some point, more and more people around the world will be intolerant of this ethnic discrimination that at best is not as bad as apartheid was in South Africa. While there has been more and more discussion of this thorny problem, like Rula Jebreal's op-ed in the NY Times, the only reason that more attention is not paid to it is because Israel's oppression of Palestinian non-citizens is so much worse. But ending the occupation and creation of a genuine Palestinian state, as unlikely as it is, will highlight this affront to 21st century principles.

      Still, while I think Chomsky is wrong about this, I agree with Phil that "he’s Chomsky, and you should hear him out." I am not one to join the Chomsky-bashing bandwagon. I can't see how any reasonable person cannot be awed by his intellect and integrity and energy.

  • Rivlin commemorates Kfar Qassem massacre and speaks of 'equality'
    • Rivlin, a Likudnik, has been making unexpected noises about a one-state egalitarian solution for years. For example, here is a four-year-old post from Phil:

      link to

      I have no idea how someone with such views could become President, the ceremonial nature of the position notwithstanding. I also have no idea if he has consistently and loudly maintained this position. It's really weird.

  • American airstrikes and the universal 'language of force'
    • Terrific research and brilliant article, Nima. My personal favorite use of the "language of force" argument would be hard to find. Some years ago, I saw Bill Maher use the phrase about some Arabs - Palestinians, probably, but not sure. He said the only language these people understand is force, and then gave as an example Assad's (pere) slaughter of 10 to 20 thousand of his citizens in Hama in the early 1980's. Yes, Bill, that certainly did prove that Arabs are more killable than ordinary human beings.

      This does tend to distinguish these people from Americans and Israelis, who are always willing to listen to reason and settle disputes based on international and domestic law. Right?

  • No Surprise Dep't: David Brooks's son is in Israeli army
    • Second thought experiment borrowed from Phil: The Times assigns as its Jerusalem Bureau Chief, or employs as an opinion columnist, someone whose son is an active member of Hamas's military wing

      The very idea is so preposterous, yet the equivalent on the Israeli side does not raise any eyebrows.

  • Palestinian babies not included on Israel gov't list of most popular names
    • Not including Arabic names here is just one small example of how the authorities ignore and neglect their Palestinian population.
      Absolutely right, Ira. It is small, in comparison to the state-sponsored discrimination in housing, employment, education, etc., but I'm glad you deemed it worth discussing. It is by no means trivial, as it is just one of the innumerable little discriminations - the Jewish star flag, the national anthem referring to the Jewish spirit's yearning, - that are a inherent and inseparable parts of the notion of a Jewish State. Each of these things are big enough to be considered intolerable if proposed in the US in favor of any ethnic group.

  • Leading writers and editors protest Israeli sponsorship of Brooklyn book festival
    • Great to see Junot Diaz on this list. He's a truly great writer, and principled and courageous as well. Also, Chase Madar, who wrote a great biography of Bradley/Chelsea Manning, and is an occasional commenter on MW as chespirito.

  • Joan Rivers's Palestinian finale
    • One disagreement, Phil, on your use of the word "apologized." I don't see her statement as an apology. Instead, she attacks those who accurately quoted her but failed to give "an accurate account of what my intentions were." She was "saddened and disappointed" about what others did to her by quoting her words rather than reading her mind. While she said that Palestinian civilian deaths were "deserved," she really meant that they were "unfortunate." She herself would respond if someone else made such a claim, "Oh please!" and then go on an extemporaneous rant that would be far funnier and more clever than I could conjure.

      Like many other people -- Elizabeth Warren and Bill Maher come to mind immediately -- she had some good qualities but was God-awful on Israel.

  • Defending Apartheid: Then in South Africa, now in Palestine
    • Terrific article, Nima. You would think Israeli leaders and defenders would be careful to avoid phrases like "national suicide" that were used in defense of apartheid, but perhaps they are unaware of such previous use and just naturally arrived at the same arguments in defending an indefensible ideology whose similarity to apartheid is painfully obvious.

  • 'NYT' op-ed calls on Jews to abandon liberal Zionism and push for equal rights
    • Are the Hasbarists deliberately holding back?
      Peter, if they are, they have been doing it for a long time. I regularly look at readers' picks in Times articles and opinion pieces that accept comments, and the ranking is almost always similar - the top ones are very critical of Israel. A few weeks ago, I was quite surprised to see a comments section that was very different, and thought that the "Hasbara brigades" had decided to make an effort to skew the results, but for some reason, that article was an anomaly. To my knowledge, there is no organized effort on the part of any Palestinian rights entity to galvanize members to support like-minded comments, and I believe that these consistent comments rankings indicate that the Times readership is a helluva lot more critical of Israel than its editorial and journalistic staff.

    • thanks ckg! Gratifying to see it resonate with Times readers

  • Revenge devoid of purpose: Punitive demolitions of Palestinian homes
    • Not only did the younger confessed murderers of Muhammad Abu Khdeir not have their houses demolished, they apparently were RELEASED pending determination of the charges against them, according to this shocking article (which I have not seen corroborated) - link to
      According to their lawyer, it could take more than year and a half for trial proceedings to end, adding that they were too young to stay in jail for that long.
      The older ringleader, who is presenting an insanity defense, apparently remains locked up.
      Of course, Israel does not have the same restriction on incarcerating Palestinian youths, even if they are only suspected of much less horrible crimes. Then again, Palestinian youths are accustomed to awful treatment, while Israeli youths must be protected.

  • NY Times describes Israel’s June rampage in the West Bank as a “clampdown”
    • As you know, James, taking issue with every single objectionable word choice in the Times would be a full-time job, but some bother me more than others.

  • Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney dodges Gaza question (and how long can he get away with that?)
    • It is often difficult to determine whether Israel's congressional supporters are true believers, or more knowledgeable but cowed by the power of the Israel lobby. In my opinion, it usually doesn't matter anyway. In this case, though, I get a strong sense that Maloney knows what's going on, but has a genuine fear of losing his seat if he speaks up. His opponent (who used to be my ophthalmologist) waxed rhapsodically about her trip to Israel when she was in office and no doubt would benefit greatly if Maloney were to speak up. Maloney comes from a very insecure district that has swung back and forth for the past couple of decades. Doing the right thing might very well give Hayworth a victory. I know it's very frustrating but I can't see much of a surprise here. The eight Congresspeople who voted against the measure all have somewhat more security than Maloney, I would think.

      On the other hand, I saw a tweet from Glenn Greenwald a few weeks ago, asking whether there was any member of Congress willing to risk his/her seat by condemning the wanton slaughter of children. Good question.

  • Tunnels-to-kindergartens propaganda Netanyahu peddled to NYT and CNN is exploded by Israeli news site
    • Give Dershowitz a break. He confused the numbers of kindergarten kids with the varieties of Heinz products. Also, if he claimed to have personally observed that the tunnel "ended very close to an Israeli kindergarten in a kibbutz," his stellar record of honesty and integrity make his report unimpeachable. At least he has the aura of truthiness even if the precise words he is saying are technically "false."

  • Fatelessness
    • Danaa, this is a really beautiful essay that states indisputable truths we don't often contemplate. Among your great points is this gem:

      It is not in the generalities of grand events but in the specifics of the human experience that similarities abound. To suffer extreme deprivation, to be the subject of prolonged persecution, to witness the wanton killing of men, women and children, to be herded into a densely populated confining space, shorn of basic comforts, with only bare recourse to shelter and safety, trapped even as bombs are dropping and tank shells exploding, is to experience the full extent of what it means to be a victim. Whatever the reasons, whatever the times, whatever the means used by those inflicting the punishment, and whoever are the ones doomed to suffer, the condition of victimhood is universally experienced as something uniquely miserable by all humans unlucky enough to know it first hand.

      Those who attempt to downplay or minimize the misery faced by the people of Gaza should be required to memorize that passage.

  • Jodi Rudoren and Abe Foxman mull over 'the Arabs' owning New York hotel
    • I should have added two things. First, neither Jodi nor Gary Rudoren foresaw any embarrassment over publishing this encounter in the video? They easily could have omitted it. Surprising that they were so clueless.

      Second, in my hypothetical, who would have been leading the charge to fire the Arab-American reporter who casually referred to "the Jews" owning something? Abe Foxman, of course. Here's Foxman claiming Pat Buchanan is "a racist and an anti-Semite” because he “bemoans the destruction of white Christian America.” link to

      One more thing. Don't miss 8:30 or so, where we meet the only "Arabs" in the Rudorens' daily life. They are "very nice Arab guys who do a good job with the cleaning" (laundry). Ugh!

      Also, thanks to Adam, who caught that Gary's parents are named Ruderman; Rudoren is an amalgam of his and Jodi's (Wilgoren) last names before marriage

  • 'NYT' gives Israelis the opportunity to shoot and explain (why not Hamas?)
    • But if Hamas had accurate missiles, could they send a rocket to kill Netanyahu or some Israeli general, or for that matter an Israeli corporal sitting in a house, and kill 20 civilians who live in that home including children? Would that be okay?

      The fact that this hypothetical seems so absurd, yet is an authentic mirror image to Israeli military policy, highlights what a bizarro world we live in.

  • Elie Wiesel plays the Holocaust trump card in Gaza
    • Thanks for the link, Donald. The column is great, and shows that Hitchens's output from 9/11 to his death was such a precipitous decline in reason and simple human decency. He was quite good on this subject for many years until he seemingly turned on a dime.

  • Who broke the ceasefire? Obama blames Hamas against the evidence
    • Donald, I was just about to post a similar comment when I saw yours. "Barbaric" is an absurd term to describe this event, even if Hamas had violated the cease fire by attacking IDF soldiers on the Israeli side of the border, none of which seems to be true. The most the Administration can muster about hundreds of dead Palestinian children is "heartbreaking." In fact, when the IDF kills Hamas fighters in Gaza, that is considered praiseworthy; why should the reverse be "barbaric"?

  • Peter Beinart demolishes Gaza hasbara
    • thanks, tree, and I always find your comments thoughtful and interesting. I'll see if I have the techno-savvy to fix this

    • tree, Hostage's suggestion is great in general, but here, ckg (above) was kind enough to supply a link to, where the article also appears

    • Very true, Donald. US public enthusiasm for Gulf War I and Afghan and Iraq wars was just as high initially. It's human nature more than something unique to Israel

    • You are right about both, ckg.

    • Thanks ckg. The haaretz version was available to me yesterday despite the paywall, and I thought they were making it available to everyone.

  • NY Times reports source of UNRWA school attack is unclear even though Israel said they did it
    • It seemed to me that Israel was unsure which lie it should use to explain this atrocity - Hamas rockets falling short of Israel; or we returned fire from the vicinity, accidentally striking the school. In conformance with its nature, the Times gave conditional credit to the Hamas rocket story put out by Israel, a story so implausible that it would have been ignored, or perhaps mentioned but shredded, by the same reporters had a similar excuse been put forth by less "worthy" party. But since Israel said it, the Times concludes that there is doubt and uncertainty over the origin of the shelling.

  • U.S. neoconservatives also share blame for Central America child refugee crisis
    • James, thanks for reminding us of that particularly awful episode in our glorious history. The recollection that sums it all up for me is Jeane Kirkpatrick, our UN ambassador, on Nightline saying that we were training a Nicaraguan exile army to invade because Nicaragua was reinforcing its military to defend against the invasion. This idea of aggression against others for the crime of defending themselves against our agression has always been a mainstay of imperial propaganda.

  • State Dep't says Israel has a right to defend itself, but can't say the same of Palestinians
    • So what is it that you want? More dead Israeli civilians?
      hophmi, you are repeating a deeply dishonest line of argument that has been made innumerable times in response to complaints of Israel killing civilians. It is designed to portray those who object to Israeli mass murder as hoping for dead Jews. It is inexcusable.

  • Video: Diane Sawyer misrepresents photo of Gazans in aftermath of Israeli bombing as Israeli victims of Palestinian missiles (Updated)
    • I don't think there is any question that it was an error rather than deliberate, but the nature of the error speaks volumes. The photos themselves of massive devastation and the people depicted could not have been mistaken by anyone with the slightest familiarity with the conflict as Israelis. The people who made this mistake - including Sawyer herself - are so utterly clueless that it is unfathomable that they present news on national TV. It is as if they showed Netanyahu speaking in Hebrew and misidentified it as Abbas speaking Arabic.

  • 'Jewish' or 'Israeli' -- NYT, BBC, and CNN make different word choice
    • hophmi: "it’s not a subject on which I’ve said a great deal here." "I have not talked about it much, something I readily acknowledge."

      Actually, hophmi, in 6300 comments, you have never remotely suggested your opposition to home demolitions. You haven't talked about it at all, not once. Then, when "just" questions you on your newly-stated position, you call him asinine. I have strongly criticized Palestinians who commit lethal indiscriminate attacks upon Israeli civilians, even settlers who have crossed a moral line by living where they should not. If you have truly long opposed home demolitions, the absence of any criticism over several years and 6300 comments is quite an oversight on your part. You shouldn't blame others for bringing it up. In fact, it's quite odd that when you said it that demolitions were understandable, you didn't add your personal condemnation when it would have been timely, even advisable, to do so.

      Perhaps it might now be appropriate to clearly state what actions regularly taken by the Israeli government and military you are opposed to, and avoid similar situations in the future.

    • hophmi, in over 6300 comments on this website, you have mentioned demolitions in five, including the two in this thread. In none of the previous three did you remotely imply that you were against demolitions. In one of them, you implied you were in favor:

      "Announcing new settlement expansion every week, demolitions, confiscation, beating, skunk water and so on. As an American, do you like it?"

      No. As an American, I understand that if America had faced one-tenth of the terrorism Israel had, what America would do would be far worse than that.

      In other words, you said that it was understandable that Israel engaged in home demolitions, because America would be far more brutal with one-tenth the supposed provocation faced by Israel. Until now, that was your clearest-stated position on home demolitions. Now we find out that you have "long been against" them and that you are "sure [you]'ve expressed that opinion elsewhere," that is, other than the 6300 comments on MW. I guess it's all just's fault for asking asinine questions, and mine for exposing your previous statements.

  • Caught in a lie: E-mails prove right-wing pro-Israel donor Adam Milstein gave money to California student candidates
    • hophmi, your own dishonesty is truly breathtaking. I have no doubt that your efforts to defend this creep have persuaded absolutely no one.

    • hophmi, you don't say what is wrong with my math test analogy, but I can tell you what is wrong with yours. Milstein gave money to Hillel with instructions to pass it through to Bruins political parties which was running two candidates for office. For him to deny that he gave money to either candidate or either party is deliberately dishonest. If you gave money to your brother with instructions to pass it on to the local Democratic Party that was running a particular candidate, your denial that you gave money to the candidate or the party would be deliberately dishonest as well.

      You ask: "And if there’s absolutely no bar on his giving the money direct to the party, why would he bother going through Hillel in the first place?" Ask him. He's the one who solicited donations in this manner and made one himself. I don't know why he used this artifice, other than to be able to make the dishonest denial he later made.

      "Milstein alleged the email might have been doctored with." He was talking about an email addressed to him. If he did not get it, or if he got it in a different form, he could have said so. Instead, he suggested it might be "contaminated," whatever that means - an unauthorized leak?. He might as well have said he may or may not be wearing a red shirt while talking with Alex. He tried to imply some fabrication without actually making that accusation. He's a complete dirtbag.

    • Woody, assuming he followed his own instructions to other donors, he gave money to Hillel and noted it earmarked for Student Government leaders. Since he gave the money to Hillel, his statement that he did not give money to Avi or the Bruins orgs is technically accurate, though the equivalent of a lie, as in my math test hypothetical. Anyway, I don't think the two of us have a big disagreement here.

    • hophmi, your defense of Milstein's misrepresentation of the truth is absurd. Technically, you may be correct that Milstein did not "lie," if you narrowly define that word as saying something that is entirely untrue. However, his denial to Alex was a deliberately misleading half-truth that is the equivalent to an outright lie, or even worse because of the calculated deception involved. Milstein clearly wanted Alex and Alex's readers to believe that he did not donate money earmarked for this election campaign when he did. He gave money to Hillel to turn over to Oved's political party to use to get its candidates elected. His denial that he gave money to the candidates or the party was calculated to deceive. Oved himself thanked Milstein for his "generous donation," making no allowance for the illusory distinction behind which Milstein later hid.

      Maybe an example would help you understand. Imagine a child who says excitedly, "Dad, I got a 100 on my last math test." Later, the Dad finds out the test score was indeed 100, but it was out of 200, and was a failing grade of 50%, not a perfect score. Would you say the child lied or told the truth? That is precisely the childish prank Milstein played here, and the one you defend.

      Your defense of this blatant dishonesty notwithstanding, where do you find any evidence to support your speculation of fabricated emails? Or would you defend yourself by saying you did not suggest fabrication, but only noted that when you said "One wonders whether these emails were fabricated," it was technically true because you were the "one" wondering.

      Finally, was it really necessary to explain all this to you? Seriously?

  • Jeffrey Goldberg leads the charge on latest BDS smear: Presbyterian Church divestment is anti-Semitic because David Duke supports it
    • Yes Ron, Dersh loves to falsely accuse others of acts he actually engaged in. This insane paragraph is a mirror image of what he did with Joan Peters's book. He also recently said that Egypt ran Gaza as an "open air prison" between 1948 and 1967, precisely repeating the true accusation of how Israel treats Gaza today.

    • The usual brilliant article from Phan: comprehensive research, impeccable logic, and perfect tone. I would only add that Alan Dershowitz has been a consistent exploiter of the David Duke endorsement smear. Here he is on Walt/Mearsheimer -
      link to - and on Norman Finkelstein - link to

      And here is a beauty about W/M from Dersh's appearance on Morning Joe:

      link to
      It’s going to be rebutted and responded to, but I never thought I would live to see the day when a Harvard dean would essentially copy from the David Duke Web site. And if you look at the report, it’s 80 pages, there is not a paragraph that is original in it. Every paragraph virtually is copied from a neo-Nazi Web site, from a radical Islamic Web site, from David Duke’s Web site. You see parallel citations, parallel arguments. They come from Web sites such as, which is a neo Nazi Web site.

  • 'About 60,000 Americans were murdered' by Palestinians in Israel, says Shmuley Boteach
    • Yes he did and those magic 3 words were added to the piece after this post was published. No indication of the correction of course nor even what he means by equivalent. Of course your point about a million americans is quite valid. An exhaustive criticism of the rest of Boteach's piece would be exhausting

  • After ADL says opera is 'biased' toward Palestinians, Met cancels broadcast, citing rising anti-Semitism
    • That is an excellent point, Ismail

    • I was planning to see this opera live (not that I'm a regular patron) but when I saw it would be simulcast I figured I might choose to save the couple hundred bucks. Now that the simulcast is canceled, my first thought was to see it live after all. I am a little ambivalent about rewarding the Met's capitulation by buying tickets, since I also think people should buy tickets rather than boycott the opera. I'm just pissed at this awful decision, and hope it will somehow backfire on those who pressured the Met.

  • Sunday morning macabre
    • I think this clip is very valuable, precisely because the things this guy is saying are so downright silly. I would think that any Zionist would be embarrassed by this interview and would claim that he's a stupid twerp, a bad apple. But he is actually articulating not only the truth that Israel bestows upon him the "right" to move to a different continent and assume superior rights over an indigenous population, but also the fundamental principles underlying the state. Rarely are these principles articulated by someone so ill-equipped to do so, someone who lays bare the injustice of the entire situation.

  • Fire Thomas Friedman
    • The hoi polloi does not award Pulitzers and TF has 3 of them. The Times itself is an elite publication. However, I do see your point that he is warmly received as someone who can explain and simplify. Why more people do not see through this fool is beyond me.

    • It baffles me how this guy remains such a "respected" pundit. Perhaps he does a great impersonation of an intelligent, insightful person. His best columns are ones that are inconsequential but at least inoffensive. Of course, there is zero chance that the Times would accept James North's sound advice.

  • Settler leader Dani Dayan given yet another platform in the NY Times
    • I see, Yonah, you're probably right, but the way it is written gives the appearance of neutrality. It could have put "Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria" in quotes, followed by "as the settler movement refers to what is more commonly known as the West Bank."

    • TwoRedDogs, I strongly suspect that Dayan authored that self-description, but you are right - the Times did not have to leave it unchanged. Can you imagine a bio of Marwan Barghouti saying he has been unjustly imprisoned by the Zionist entity?

    • Shmuel and Donald, no doubt you are both right about the attractiveness of Dani Dayan to the Times. Moreover, the way he camouflaged his recent op-ed's message with patronizing concern for Palestinians' welfare, which fooled some of the commenters there and even briefly confused Donald, surely seemed refreshing and different to Times editors. Dismantle the wall and checkpoints and allow freedom to travel? Sounds positively revolutionary if you ignore the quid pro quo.

      That being said, the Times's fascination with and even promotion of Dayan, for the reasons you stated, is quite one-sided. Edward Said was not only an Ivy League professor of comparative literature but also a music and opera critic who had a close personal friendship with Argentine/Israeli pianist Daniel Barenboim, not to mention a body of analysis on Israel and Palestine that dwarfs Dayan's in both quantity and quality. I don't recall seeing any mainstream media fascination with him, despite his obliteration of the stereotype of the Palestinian activist. For that matter, isn't Omar Barghouti a choreographer? Should we ask the Times to do a profile of his contributions to the field of dance?

  • Chris Matthews and David Corn defend Israel against 'slander' of apartheid
    • michelle, I get what you're saying, but there is a world of difference between de jure and de facto reality. In the US, everyone is guaranteed equality under the law; while no reasonable person believes that actual de facto equality is the rule in this country, or even that the law is fairly and evenly applied to all, at least the law makes such a guarantee. In Israel, by contrast, the government explicitly treats even its citizens differently based upon their ethnic background, not to mention the millions of non-citizens over whom it rules. If any country treated its Jewish population the way Israel treats its non-Jewish population, there would be vigorous international condemnation, and rightfully so.

    • Excellent points as usual, Donald, and excellent example of the logical fallacy. Whenever someone says to me that discrimination against Arabs (or Muslims) should not be called "racism" because Arabs (or Muslims) are not a race, I ask what they would like to call such discrimination. Acceptable?

      As many commenters here already have noted, assignment of different rights and privileges based upon ethnicity is unacceptable, regardless of the relative percentages of the advantaged and disadvantaged groups. Period.

    • Henry, it's a tough call. I'm sure you weren't the only one who flagged it, but it looks like the moderator was asleep at the wheel while Sullivan's desk saw the problem as soon as Jim Holstun complained. The reason I let it go is that if I were trying to embarrass Israel and its supporters with a faked homicidal lunatic comment, I couldn't have come up with anything better than this.

    • This comment is still up this morning. I chose not to flag it because I think it should stay up to show how morally perverted some people can be, but I'm quite surprised that it survived the night.

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