Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 1669 (since 2009-08-27 21:10:42)

David Samel

David Samel is am attorney in New York City.

Showing comments 1669 - 1601

  • NY Times profile of Gazan long distance runner reveals reality of occupation
    • Just to add one thing. The Times headline reads "Mideast Tensions Sideline a Gazan Marathon Runner" as if Masri were the victim of political intransigence by both sides. By contrast, Haaretz has run multiple aritcles on the subject that more clearly identifies the decision-maker: "Israel refuses to let Gaza athlete run in Bethlehem marathon"; "High Court rejects Gazan runner's appeal to race in Bethlehem marathon"; "Gaza blockade stifles dreams of Palestinian runner". The Times headline, whether or not authored by Rudoren, is extremely misleading.

  • 'Not a single person in this room would accept living as Palestinians do, generation after generation'
    • Yonah, I can understand your offense at my use of the word "racist," but you are mistaken on two grounds. First, I did not simply use the word without explaining in detail why I thought it was appropriate. Your suggestion that Arabs have an inability to govern themselves is deserving of the term, for the reasons I stated.

      Second, I know it's hard to parse, but I did not call you a "racist." I used the word as an adjective, describing your reasoning, and not as a noun, describing you. Smart people can sometimes say dumb things, ordinary people can sometimes act with great courage, and non-racist people can sometimes use racist reasoning. As the Avenue Q song, says, "Everyone's a little bit racist." I don't put you in the category of unrepentant racists, nor even in the category of some other primitive hasbarist commenters on this site, like hophmi and JeffB and eee of yore. Still, I think your reasoning was racist, and it was reasonable of me to call it that. If someone called me "anti-Semitic" because I oppose Jewish self-determination or something like that, I would explain why I thought the accusation was wrong. (Yeah, I might be a little peeved about it too). You, however, accuse me only of name-calling, but do not try to defend your statement from my charge that it is racist.

    • Yonah, that is a very South African apartheid-type argument. Whites were genuinely afraid of living as a small minority in a black majority country, and the examples of sub-Saharan governance were not very promising. Moreover, Jews would comprise close to 50% of the population of a democratic state, as opposed to SA with a white population of only 15%.

      There is nothing in the DNA of Arabs or Palestinians in particular that inhibit a stable functioning democracy, and to contend otherwise is, frankly, racist. When dictatorships flourished throughout Latin America and Eastern Europe, the people were considered victims of their governments, not the causes of tyranny.

      Indeed, Palestinians have as much, if not more, to fear from one state. Generations of Israeli Jews have been raised to believe they have superior rights which may be protected at the point of a gun. Jews and non-Jews would have to negotiate a system that protects the rights of all to worship (or not) as they see fit, have access to all holy sites, and guarantee equality under the law for all. True, this is not as easy to do as it is to say, and there are genuine fears on the part of all
      that must be assuaged, but the alternative IMO is intolerable.

      This is the 21st century, Yonah. There simply is no place for ethnic/religious privileges for one segment of the citizenry of any state.

    • I'm not always a fan of Hussein Ibish, but that is one brilliant speech he gave. However, as a proponent of the two state solution, there is a huge problem that he fails to address. If a miracle occurs and the 2ss becomes a reality, Palestinian citizens of the Jewish State will continue to be relegated to a second-class status and citizenship. Take Ibish's key sentence, highlighted by Phil:
      There’s not a single person in this room, not one of you– not one of you– who would accept to live like that, generation after generation, decade after decade, with no end in sight.
      That sentence is equally applicable to Israeli citizens who are not Jewish. Not a single person in Ibish's audience would agree to live as a second-class citizen in the land of his/her birth. True, the list of woes that the Palestinians under occupation must endure, as eloquently articulated by Ibish, are much worse; but second-class citizenship based upon ethnic/religious/ancestral "deficiencies" is not something that should be tolerated anywhere in the world, and it is an essential and undeniable component of the Jewish State.

  • Appeals court upholds dismissal of anti-BDS lawsuit against Olympia Food Co-op
    • As usual, Phan provides a very comprehensive and well-researched analysis of a very significant event. I would add only that the Lawfare Project, which filed the amicus brief, is a truly nefarious organization that sets new standards in hypocrisy. It generally characterizes Lawfare as an evil to be combatted, but essentially it is in favor of any use of the law to further a right-wing Israeli agenda (e.g., the settlements are legal) and opposes any use of the law to promote Palestinian rights. LP's general support of anti-SLAPP laws, while arguing that the Washington statute in this case was unconstitutional, is par for its course.

      As for the curious typo, it appears that LP acquired a brief submitted by ACLU on some other case that included similar case law and/or arguments (no doubt in a very different factual context), and used it as a template for LP's amicus brief here. They weren't careful enough to make all the necessary changes from the original. As a lawyer, I sometimes use other briefs as a template (almost always one of my own in a different case) and have been known to do the same thing. It's a bit embarrassing and a tell-tale sign.

  • Desmond Tutu: Maryland legislature's anti-boycott effort designed to 'punish and intimidate'
    • Jeez RJ maybe you should activate your sarcasm detector. Sorry but it was really obvious. Your fault not mine. Incidentally I did not exaggerate JeffB's ridiculous claims re Tutu. He really did make them

    • Tutu, shmutu! As JeffB already has informed us, Tutu has a history of hundreds of anti-Semitic pronouncements, including a prayer service for Nazis(!), and he would have kicked all the Jews out of South Africa if only he could have. Jeff will no doubt explain why Tutu would have forced his Jewish countrymen to move to Israel, thereby strengthening the Jewish State in its efforts to oppress Palestinians. Why would anyone give any credence to Tutu after JeffB has set us all straight?

  • An open letter to J Street: Let's talk
    • This is one terrific letter. Most of the intended recipients are surely not ready to abandon their long-cherished dreams of a moral, liberal Jewish State, but such outreach is not premature. There are a significant number of sincere and genuine LZ's who will increasingly find themselves lost in despair as they belatedly recognize the death of two states. Although many MWers have written them off, I continue to think they should be thrown a lifeline and persuaded to move in the right rather than wrong direction.

    • Donald, you should show more respect. Brian is, according to his own description, a "Student. Linguist. World traveler." Such a resume relieves him of the burden of providing any support for his assertions. I mean, the man has traveled the world!

  • From Portland to Portland, and Amman to Lahore, 'NYT' letter-writers are sharper than 'NYT' writers
    • Whenever I read a Times article or editorial that has comments, I always check the reader's picks to see which are the most popular. On articles relating to Israel, this is the norm. At least the people who bother to recommend comments are overwhelmingly critical of Israel, just about every time. It's hard to tell if this is typical of the Times readership as a whole. I am a little surprised that hasbarists have not organized a couple hundred of their own to skew the comments sections on these articles.

  • 'I'm reminded of Jackson, MS, closing all public pools rather than integrating them' -- Franke on Barnard's Banner-gate
  • 'NYT' music piece strikes false note on Mehta and Israeli politics
    • I read that article with great irritation, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Thanks, Ira, for doing so. I didn't quite recognize the subtle praise of Israel's open political climate. Mehta's "activism" or "outspokenness," at least as portrayed in the article, is quite lame; he vaguely believes that settlements and economic policies are the "wrong direction." It's a far cry from his old buddy Daniel Barenboim, who enjoyed a warm friendship with Edward Said, endured death threats from Israeli lunatics when he performed in Ramallah, and accepted honorary Palestinian citizenship. I'm sure I would not agree on everything with Barenboim, but he is a guy who really sticks his neck out.

  • British architects vote to ban Israeli group from industry association over expanding settlements
    • It's easy to get lost in this alphabet soup, but it appears that RIBA did not suspend IAUA from anything, but only recommended that UIA do so. As for the astonished Prof. Baruch, perhaps if the IAUA had not ignored the UIA's resolution, but actually took a public stand against Israeli architects operating in the OPT, RIBA would not have made this recommendation. Instead, he apparently thinks that his organization's lack of "complicity" in the settlements, which apparently means no more than taking no position, should insulate it from consequences. Wake up call.

  • Lockerbie: 25 years of geopolitics over truth
    • Donald, you're right, strange but interesting article, and author. I don't think this latest AJ documentary comes as a surprise to anyone who has looked deeply into the case the past 25 years, but I do appreciate the delicious irony that the craven choices made in 1990 prevented this from being high on the list of charges against Iran today. Of course the horror of the tragedy itself overshadows everything involved in this case.

    • Walid, I believe the compensation payments were interpreted as an admission of Libyan complicity but were obviously intended to lift the sanctions. I once had a client charged with murder, who I really believed was innocent, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter to get a much lower sentence than he would get if convicted at trial. He had to admit guilt or the judge would not have accepted the plea, and he was quite upset about that.
      For Libya, it seems to have been a business deal. There were some families who refused the compensation, saying they thought Libya was not involved. Jim Swire, an English doctor who lost his daughter, was a leader of this group, and even befriended Megrahi in prison and visited him in Libya. I did read a story about the new Libyan authorities trying two former officials for squandering public money in agreeing to the compensation payments - they were acquitted. link to

  • BDS supporting rock star Roger Waters hits back against vicious smears
    • What a whole lot of horseshit, JeffB. Your feelings about ethnic jokes in your workplace don't even rise to normal levels of irrelevance. Roger Waters has as much right to criticize Israel as I do, and we both have the same right to criticize apartheid South Africa or Nazi Germany, even though neither of us is an SA or German citizen. Or black.

      Wait. I'm Jewish and Waters is not, so in your view, do I get more license to criticize Nazi Germany? What about Palestinians? Can they go further than Waters or myself in criticizing Israel? Or are they equal to me, a Jew, but both of us are ahead of Waters? For that matter, who the hell are any of us non-Ukrainians and non-Russians to criticize Putin or the current Ukrainian interim government? Anyone critical of the way Malaysia is handling the missing plane mystery? Better make sure you're Malaysian!

      Jeff, you write in complete sentences and comply with the rules of grammar, but do you think about what you write before you post it?

  • Israeli high school student leader calls youths' refusal to serve 'declaration of war'
    • How Orwellian of her. Refusal to join an army engaged in a morally reprehensible and illegal occupation is a declaration of war! She surely has a future as an IDF spokesperson, ambassador to the UN, etc.

  • Tony Benn, who said there is no moral difference between a stealth bomber and a suicide bomber
  • 'NYT' says East Jerusalem isn't occupied, and Israel lobby takes credit
    • Whether or not Atarot was a "Jewish village" prior to 1948, it was within the boundaries of the Arab State envisioned in the UN Partition Resolution. Yet Camera claims that Atarot was "occupied" by Jordan from 1948 to 1967. In the 1948 War, that "Arab State" was divided among Israel, which took about half, Jordan and Egypt. If Atarot was occupied by Jordan during those years, then all of the territory captured by Israel in the 1948 War also was and remains "occupied." Jordan "won" the territory in precisely the same manner that Israel "won" territory. That is almost one-third of Israel's within-the-Green Line territory. By contesting Palestine's (as successor to Jordan) right to Atarot, Camera is implicitly contesting Israel's right to about 30% of its territory that is internationally recognized.
      Put another way, as Donald notes, under Camera's argument, every "Arab village" prior to 1948 should be considered "occupied" by Israel, even those hundreds of villages that are within the Green Line and considered part of Israel proper.

  • 'New Republic''s literary editor attacks its senior editor as nasty, ignorant self-hating Jew
    • JeffB, of course the Zionists in 1890 could not have predicted all the twists and turns the next several decades would bring. But they knew that their idea to create a Jewish State would be rejected, and with good reason, by the local population. You speculate that some of them may have fantasized that the Palestinians would become the first and only people in the history of the world to voluntarily engage in their own ethnic cleansing, and/or agree to their own domination and subjugation by an immigrant group. If you're right, and there were any such fools, they had only themselves to blame.

      My point is that the Palestinians were well within their rights to resent and oppose the Zionist plan of treating them as inferiors and/or infiltrators in their own land, and that obtuse blindness to this obvious fact is a widespread feature of mainstream discourse today, as well as much Jewish education. I'm not really sure what your point is.

    • The two-sentence excerpt from Judis's book at the end of Phil's article is a most concise and accurate and reasonable account of the last century plus of history. To most of the non-Jewish readers of this website, this must appear like a no-brainer. Of course the Zionist plan to establish a Jewish State where lots of non-Jewish people lived contained the seeds of inevitable conflict. However, as a graduate of a Jewish educational system (a few hours a week supplemental to a regular NYC public school), I can affirm how effective it was in ignoring this obvious fact, which I did not realize until I had a eureka moment as an adult. In fact, suppression of this undisputable truth remains a staple of I-P discussion among the powerful. It is remarkable how they get away with the absurd assumption that the only motivation that could have prompted Palestinians to reject Zionism, that is, being ruled over by (mostly immigrant) Jews, is old-fashioned Jew hatred. The founding generation of Zionists themselves were well aware that military conquest and domination would be required to subdue an uncooperative population, but today it is portrayed as an unreasonable unwillingness to accept Jews in their midst.

  • NYT obit of rabbi left out his urging Sharon: 'Very simply, wipe them out'
    • Personally I don’t think Hartman literally meant exterminate all the Palestinians either–I think he was urging the usual Israeli tactic, where they use indiscriminate firepower without caring who dies. It’s exterminationist rhetoric, but what I think he actually meant was “bomb and shell and kill and don’t worry about the civilians and show them who is boss” and not literally “kill all of them”.

      Donald, I think that's a most succinct and accurate description of not only Hartman's suggestion, but Israeli policy on innumerable occasions. It serves both offensive and defensive purposes. First, it visits indiscriminate punishment on Palestinian (and sometimes Lebanese) civilians in the reprehensible (and unrealistic) hope that surviving civilians will blame Hamas or Hezbollah, etc., rather than Israel, for their misery, and will exert pressure on those organizations to stand down. Second, it allows Israel to deflect blame by claiming that it is aiming at terrorists who are cowardly hiding among civilians. Israel also creates a false duality in which it is either legitimately targeting terrorists or intentionally seeking to maximize civilian casualties; since it could have killed more, it must be entirely free from fault. This is what happened in Lebanon in 2006, Gaza in 2008-2009, and many other times. Israel coldly calculates how many corpses it can get away with. The Goldstone Report showed that it was reaching the limits of the international community's tolerance in 2009. In 2002, Hartman was merely recommending that the number be raised.

  • At Sochi Olympics, Israel is in... Europe!
    • I would have been shocked if no one misinterpreted Ira's very funny spoof as truth. First of all, despite its absurdity, it simply is not too implausible to imagine such a claim being made. Secondly, I know from personal experience that big bold block letters warning SATIRE or SARCASM are usually required, or even some highly intelligent people will get taken in. I myself missed the italicized preface at first.

  • 'NYT' says Israel doesn't 'split' Palestinian families, 'Haaretz' says it does. Who is right?
    • Occupation is also a form of continuous violence. Every day, even when no shot is fired, Israelis rule over 4 million Palestinians by force of arms, not by moral persuasion or consent of the governed. They compel Palestinians to do this or that, or refrain from this or that, upon penalty of violence if they refuse. A "peaceful" day of Occupation is continuously violent just as an armed robbery of a liquor store which goes smoothly without a shot being fired is universally considered a violent crime.

  • After all that buildup-- SodaStream ad was flat
    • Of course, the quality of the ad is a secondary issue compared to the ScarJo/Oxfam/settlement controversy that is so much more important. BUT it doesn't hurt that the ad was so God-awful. I was shocked at how bad it was.

      I also was shocked at the Dylan ad for Chrysler. WTF?

  • 'Economist' pulls cartoon showing Obama shackled to Congress bearing Star of David
    • Israel chooses to have as its flag the Star of David. The most obvious way for a cartoonist to signify a connection to Israel is to use its flag symbol. If the cartoon had pictured a menorah, Foxman might have had more justification for this silly outburst. Then the cartoonist might be suggesting that Congress is mostly Jewish or at least shackled by American Jews as opposed to Israel supporters. But Israel is pushing hard against any Iran deal, AIPAC is pushing hard against it on behalf of Israel, and Congress is responding to this pressure, not near-unanimously as is often the case, but to a great extent. The cartoonist is portraying that accurately and fairly.

      Moreover, the cartoon portrays Rouhani being restrained by "hard-liners" who are burning the U.S. flag. Should we censure the cartoonist because no one in the Iranian government actually burns flags? Cartoons necessarily exaggerate, but the Obama side of the cartoon is more accurate and less distorted than the Rouhani side.

  • The (Jewish) N-Word
    • Aside from the sheer lunacy of criminalizing speech, my next thought was about Netanyahu and others routinely invoking the Holocaust and Hitler and Nazis and Munich 1938 when discussing Iran, and previous comparisons over the years of Arafat and Saddam Hussein to Hitler and Palestinians to Nazis. How would this bill allow such comparisons to be made but prohibit Nazi-related accusations against Israelis. Rudoren does raise the specter of such prosecutions, noting Netanyahu's accusations and quoting a Hadash MK who opposes the bill. There is no real possibility that he would ever face such a charge, but the public embarrassment of such a blatant double standard probably would make him oppose the bill.

  • Bronner whitewashes Sharon's atrocities
    • Donald, I agree with your hypothetical that even if the town did have armed guards, the Israeli mission was one to kill civilians, and the presence of guards did not transform this into a "battle." However, I see no reason to believe that there was a firefight with armed guards. I have never seen any other reference to this firefight. I checked the Wiki footnote and it is a secondary source of unknown reliability that still says nothing about soldiers or guards but only an Israeli (self-serving) claim of one soldier slightly wounded - it could have been a sprained ankle or falling debris from a dynamited building, if the wound was genuine. Every other account of Qibya I've seen refers only to the civilians of the town, and until Bronner, I never saw anyone call it a "battle." Even Ben-Gurion's public lies about IDF participation did not include the claim that Qibya had armed guards who fired back. I see no reason to trust Wiki on this point.

  • Lawyer Against Law: Dershowitz tells Israelis pay no attention to international law
    • Joe, I'm no expert in Farsi, either, but I think it is quite clear that whatever words were uttered, there was no threat, even an implied one, to use the Iranian military to accomplish that goal. Ahmadinejad expressed his hope that the Jewish State would disappear the way apartheid and the Soviet Empire had disappeared, and that giving the vote to all residents of historic Palestine would quickly result in that transformation. It seems to me that the arguments over translation only involve how nasty the remarks were, but even under the most belligerent interpretation, there was no threat of military force. Dershowitz pretends that it had the force of an order from a military commander or mafia don.

      By contrast, Israel has explicitly threatened to use its military against Iran too many times to count. That's another reason international law doesn't count. By what rule of law would Iranian leaders' wish for the end of a Jewish State be punishable by preemptive or preventative attack, while Israel's much more explicit threats would not?

    • amigo, as awful as he is, I think his remarks should be protected as free speech. However, a few years ago, Norman Finkelstein wrote an excellent analysis of Dershowitz's prescription for collective punishment of Palestinians, entitled "Should Alan Dershowitz target himself for assassination?" link to He argued that if Dersh's defense of targeted assassinations were applied to his own analysis, he would be subject to targeted assassination. Dershowitz of course willfully misinterpreted this article and falsely claimed that “Norman Finkelstein wrote a screed suggesting that I be targeted ‘for assassination’ because of my views on Israel.” But the point is that Dershowitz himself has committed acts of verbal aggression (protected speech in my view) that would justify his own execution under his own perverse standards.

    • You're right, Harry, thanks for making that point.

    • True, Walid, thanks for finding that. But even then, while hinting that Israel need not comply with international law, he contradicts himself at the end by saying, "I am not suggesting that anybody or any country violate the rule of law." Now he seems to have discarded that last caveat altogether.

    • Not only that, but this whole "continuum of civilianality" insanity is designed to measure only how badly we should feel about Israel's civilian casualties. The presumption that Israel should be granted full immunity for all its actions is so ingrained that it need not be mentioned.

  • Haaretz op-ed cuts to the chase: 'Israel does have a solution: do nothing'
    • I agree with Henry that Isacowitz gets it right. Continuation of the status quo for as long as possible is clearly the Israeli goal. Occasionally someone like Hillary Clinton pronounces the present situation of occupation “unsustainable” but it has managed to "sustain" for nearly half a century and there is no reason for Israel to be anxious for change. After all, Israelis enjoy all the power and are able to function quite well in callous disregard of the misery they are imposing on Palestinians. The only challenge is to construct a mythology in which they are striving to end the conflict and the Palestinians are to blame for intransigence. So far, Israeli hasbarists have been up to the task.

      A while back, Bill Kristol recognized that the status quo option was not really objectionable - link to You would rarely find an Israeli official who makes the same admission, but it does appear to be their guiding principle.

  • Huck and Jim vs. Herzl and Morris: Mark Twain on Zionism and the first aliyah
  • Kerry's diplomatic doublespeak: The peace process is a puzzle steeped in history where core issues fit together like a mosaic
    • I think these comments are being a little unfair to Kerry. How many people could spew out such a lengthy extemporaneous answer that says absolutely nothing? Doesn't he deserve some credit for that?

  • Simon Wiesenthal Center calls Falk, Walker, Waters, Blumenthal and ASA anti-Semites
    • That's a great point, Pamela. According to Beinart, anyone who is a genuine bigot against Jews, or presumably against blacks or women or whatever, could legitimately be barred from a speaking platform. However, someone like Bennett, who is an open bigot against Palestinians and Arabs in general, might be to the right of Beinart but still is kosher enough to speak. For that matter, Beinart has acknowledged that Israel as a Jewish State cannot provide equality for all its citizens regardless of religion and ethnicity, yet he strongly believes in the legitimacy of such a state, and that Palestinian citizens will simply have to accept their second-class status. Should he be barred from public acceptance on the ground of bigotry? What about someone who defended apartheid in South Africa? Where do you draw the line? Ethnic privileges are OK as long as they are not too egregious?

      Beinart seems more willing than most fellow liberal Zionists to criticize Israel and defend (lukewarmly) someone like Max B, but he has a long way to go before he can achieve any sort of consistency.

  • Yet another Dershowitz fabrication
    • You apparently devoted too much effort at coming up with an amusing handle and not enough at reason. HB did not say that the Chinese were pussycats in Tibet, but only that Tibetans are full-fledged citizens of China. Similarly, Native Americans are full-fledged citizens of the US, but that does not mean that Americans were pussycats in dealing with them.

      Israel is qualitatively different. It is continuing a military occupation that has lasted nearly half a century. It rules over about four million people with an iron hand and gives them no say in the political system (some "democracy"!). It also privileges its own citizens on the land these stateless Palestinians have lived in for centuries.

    • HB, I'm a little disappointed to learn that Dershowitz might not have fabricated this story himself, but only "adopted" (plagiarized?) someone else's fabrication. My estimation of his inventiveness has gone down a notch, until I research who plagiarized whom. Maybe Dersh was the creative genius after all. Still, it is fascinating that you are familiar with an Argentine version.

      In fact, I have seen one or two references by others to the "well-known" story about Lowell and Hand that were obviously cribbed from Dersh, because no one would have suspected that the story was simply false.

    • Ron, you're absolutely right that Dershowitz's dishonesty may be viewed as the least of his faults, when compared to his intellectual reasoning. However, there have been plenty of arguments on this website and elsewhere dismantling the double standard defense, and I wanted to focus on the sheer jaw-dropping nature of his fabrication. No matter how many times he is proven to be a shameless liar, he continues to amaze.

      Your concluding paragraph brilliantly sums it all up, though the fact that you are understandably mystified by Dersh's "respect, status, deference, and success" shouldn't blind us to the fact that he does enjoy that success. He is a veritable rock star of the hasbara circuit, and I cannot resist exposing his lack of clothing every now and then.

  • Israel's endless enemies -- the dangerous myth in Ari Shavit's book
    • You're absolutely right, Mike, but you don't seem to comprehend the consequences of your conclusion. If Israel had withdrawn to the 1947 UN partition lines, and accepted the return of Palestinian refugees, the effect would have been the same as if there had been full acceptance of the partition plan and no hostilities. And as you correctly point out, Israel would not have been able to exist. Why? Because the partition plan proposed a Jewish State in an area in which only half the inhabitants were Jewish. From its inception, this would have been a doomed state.

      It is a mainstay of hasbara that the Jewish side accepted the partition resolution and the Arab side did not, but actually, as you point out, the partition resolution, if fully honored from the beginning by all parties, would not have resulted in a viable Jewish State. That is why the Jewish side actually rejected the proposed boundaries and requirement of respect for the rights of residents; the only thing the Zionists mostly accepted was the notion of the creation of a Jewish State. The Zionists needed the war, not as self-defense, but to drive out hundreds of thousands of "ethnically challenged" inhabitants, and acquire much more land than that proposed by the UN. The Israelis also rejected the UN refugee return resolution of Dec 1948, and murdered the UN mediator Bernadotte. Indeed, while I have not read this book, this seems to be one thing Shavit mostly got right.

      So it is not like the Zionists accepted the right of the UN to determine the future of the area. They accepted the only part that was good for them and forcefully rejected the rest.

  • Beinart’s (colonial) Jewish (imperial) democratic state
    • Keith, I can’t think of any previous encounter we have had that would lead me to misconstrue your comment. Frankly, it was not ambiguous, and I do not doubt that your error, whatever it was, was “honest” in that you did not set out to smear me dishonestly. It simply was most careless of you. I write under my own name, and while I have no problem with the decision of you and most commenters to use anonymity, I don’t like to be so directly accused of things I did not say. I do find it embarrassing to have to defend myself personally on this website, but thought it necessary here. Could I have let your insult pass? Sure, but I decided not to, and if that’s a sin of judgment, it’s greatly outweighed by yours.

    • Keith -
      Point 1: When you post

      DAVID SAMEL- “But I’m still glad America stopped genocide somewhere.”

      you are explicitly quoting me, or in this case, erroneously quoting me. You know that, as you accurately posted:

      DAVID SAMEL- “Seriously, Keith? You think I authored those words and consequently am a “member of the imperial intelligentsia”?

      Point 2: When I offer an extended quote of someone, and say I agree with the overall reasoning but that "I don't subscribe to his view of Bosnia," that means I do not agree with that particular statement about Bosnia - which concluded with "I’m still glad America stopped genocide somewhere." To repeat, it means I disagreed with that part about Bosnia, not that I found it "quite impressive."

      Point 3: When I point out your two egregious errors, in attributing to me someone else's quote and an opinion I expressly disavowed, the appropriate response is to acknowledge the errors and apologize. Instead, you pretended you did not make the first, and you repeated the second.

      Point 4: I hate to have a personal spat with a stranger on a website that is devoted to pursuing justice for millions of people, but you're acting like a turd.

    • Seriously, Keith? You think I authored those words and consequently am a "member of the imperial intelligentsia"? Beinart wrote that, and while I applauded his general answer to the double standard argument, I explicitly stated that I disagreed with him on Bosnia. I could not have been any clearer. Please be a little more careful. In fact, even minimum care would be a huge improvement.

    • I should add that I am getting awfully sick and tired of Beinart's acknowledgement that Israel the Jewish State necessarily discriminates against Palestinians but that they'll just have to live with it to make Jews like himself feel safer around the world. A few years ago, I admired his candor in admitting some difficult truths, and hoped that his overall position would continue to evolve as he became unable to reconcile Zionism with true liberal, modern-day principles of equality and justice. But he hasn't seemed to budge, and while he occasionally says something meaningful, like what I praised here, his stuck-in-the-mud "solution" is getting really old.

    • While I have no issue with Ellis's criticism of what Beinart did say in the second half of his article, Beinart's rejection of the double standard attack on the ASA decision - by far the most prominent - is quite impressive:

      [Many have] claimed that applying a double standard to the Jewish state represents anti-Semitism, whether the ASA’s members recognize it or not.

      I find this deeply unconvincing. Of course Israel isn’t among the world’s worst human rights abusers. Of course boycotting it—and not China or Iran—constitutes a double standard. But so does most political protest. In the 1970s, American Jewish groups picketed the Bolshoi Ballet to demand freedom for Soviet Jews.

      Were there actions illegitimate because they weren’t also protesting Idi Amin and Pol Pot, who were at the time committing far worse crimes? In 2010, dozens of cities, performers and professional groups boycotted Arizona because of its draconian immigration law. Were their actions immoral because they didn’t first boycott Zimbabwe? In the mid-1990s, the United States waged humanitarian war in Bosnia and did nothing in Rwanda, where the slaughter was worse. At the time, United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali suggested that this constituted a double standard, perhaps even a racial one, and he was right. But I’m still glad America stopped genocide somewhere.

      I don't subscribe to his view of Bosnia, but I find his overall reasoning very articulate and persuasive. Of course I did not need to be persuaded, but still, it does stand as an excellent rebuttal to that argument.

  • 'NYT' covers historic American boycott vote by quoting 3 Israelis attacking it
    • James, thanks for pointing this out. I did notice as I read the article that I was waiting a long time for the Palestinian pro-boycott position, that finally, belatedly, arrived.

      I would add one thing. The ASA Board recommended this decision unanimously but still left it up to a membership vote that overwhelmingly supported the recommendation. The article discusses the anti-boycott position taken by the much larger AAUP, which has almost ten times the ASA membership. Presumably, this anti-boycott position was taken by its leadership. Wouldn't it be fair for them to allow the membership to vote, like the ASA board did?

  • On the death of Nelson Mandela: a dissenting opinion
    • I don't think Cook draws the right conclusions from the Tom Friedman mock memo affair. He gets the facts right: Arjan el-Fassed composed the memo, a parody of Friedman's common memo-columns from one political leader to another. However, while everyone knew Friedman's columns were his own and not actually written by the supposed author, Arjan's column was widely misinterpreted, even though he clearly used his own by-line. Palestinian rights supporters believed it actually was authored by Mandela, and hasbarists excoriated it as a deliberately decptive hoax. It all makes for an interesting story, but Cook's complaints about Mandela seem ill-conceived.

      First, he claims that Mandela "should have written" the column. Obviously, he cannot mean that Mandela should have thought of the precise words before el-Fassed did. Cook must be accusing Mandela of not expressing similar sentiments about the Palestinian struggle, but that's not at all accurate. Indeed, it seems to me that Arjan hypothesized that Mandela would be inclined to deliver this stern lecture to Friedman (if he were to bother with Friedman at all); he was not criticizing Mandela for failing to have made public his solidarity with Palestinians.

      Second, Cook takes issue with Mandela's staff threatening legal action. I'm not sure what the circumstances of that were, but it does not strike me as a repudiation or even disagreement with Arjan's points. It was the common (mistaken) belief that Arjan had deliberately passed off this column as Mandela's, and it seems reasonable to take offense at such duplicity regardless of whether Mandela agreed with it. How dare someone author a column and put someone else's name on it! As it turns out, poor Arjan el-Fassed had acted honorably throughout the affair. For Cook to single out this incident as evidence of Mandela's failings strikes me as wildly off base (and very uncharacteristic of Cook as well).

  • Leonard Bernstein cared more about Israel than sex
    • On the one hand, Bernstein's pro-Israel stance was quite the norm in its time, and viewed in that perspective, hardly deserves retrospective derision. Ahmed Moor made some great points about this in his essay the other day.

      On the other hand, it does underscore how clueless so many people (including myself) were decades ago. How is it that we were blind to why the Zionist project would be rightfully resisted by the indigenous Palestinian population? Nowadays when hasbarists accuse people of anti-Semitism for voicing support of equality for all regardless of ancestry, it's becoming pathetic and laughable. I suspect that if Lenny were alive today, his position would have evolved.

    • For those interested, here is a fascinating video of Bernstein recording the music to West Side Story. link to He's quite a perfectionist and gets a bit testy at times.

  • Interview with Dr. Haidar Eid: 'The Palestinian struggle is not about independence -- it is about liberation'
    • Thanks, Shmuel. I have often wondered about this and am glad it was you who answered.

    • No, really just one, in the first paragraph. My second is not a disagreement but a quest for clarification.

    • I agree with almost all that Dr. Eid has to say about the moral superiority and even the superior feasibility of the 1ss, but have one nit to pick. He says that Finkelstein should listen to what the Palestinians say. But what if public opinion polls show that a majority of Palestinians favor the 2ss over 1ss? Dr. Eid is not bound by such majority sentiment, and why should any non-Palestinian be bound? He has expressed his opinion very eloquently and IMO persuasively. But I think we should try to persuade people who have a different opinion rather than question whether they have the right to express it.

      Also, Dr. Eid says that Palestinians (presumably he means Israeli citizens) are not allowed to live in the Jewish only settlements in the WB. I do not doubt this, but I am not familiar with the legal proscriptions against it. Israelis sometimes point out that the Israelis-only roads may be accessed by Palestinian citizens who have yellow license plates. Does anyone know if the settlements are Jewish-exclusive by law or other practical reasons? And are the 600,000 or more Israeli settlers all Jewish without a single exception, or are there somehow any non-Jewish Israeli citizens on that side of the green line?

  • A loving remembrance of Peter Kaplan
    • Phil, sorry for your loss. He sounds like quite a guy who played a big part in your life. You reveal at the end that he was schooled by Eric Breindel and disagreed with you a lot and even suspected you of Holocaust denial. Also, it looks like he thought your pro-Palestinian activism was a way of working out personal issues. Still your personal fondness and appreciation for what he taught you are beautifully expressed.

  • Israeli soldier discusses killing Palestinian children on Ukrainian game show
    • A little further down, this woman explicitly admits shooting at children:

      Q [6:22]: Did you happen to shoot at children?

      A: Yes.

      As shocking as this is, her general attitude toward "Arabs" reflects the kind of indoctrination young Israelis go through to dehumanize the "enemy." They learn that Palestinians as young as three or four are sent on terrorist missions, whether throwing Molotov cocktails or exploding suicide vests; mothers are indifferent to the violent deaths of their children, because their wombs can provide a steady stream of replacements. These impressions about "Arabs" are widespread in Israel and make it much easier to kill such sub-human vermin. Is there any wonder that the infamous "one shot two kills" tee shirts depicting a pregnant Palestinian woman in a rifle's crosshairs became popular among IDF soldiers until they caused a modicum of public embarrassment? link to

  • Blumenthal's book draws ire of a one-time Kahane-supporter (and Dershowitz)
    • It seems to me that Dershowitz's remark was a thinly-veiled threat directed at Hillary to jettison Sid B or risk the loss of his support. One might casually dismiss such a threat as the usual bloviation, but my hunch is that he might succeed. I would not be surprised if Sid and the Clintons parted ways amicably. Dersh's threats over MJ Rosenberg and Media Matters did lead to his departure.

      Of course, Dershowitz's hypocrisy here is enormous. Max is now so treif that the Clintons better be wary of associating with someone who associates with him. Dershowitz, on the other hand, is free to commit sins worse than those he falsely accuses Max of committing. Par for the course.

  • Richard Cohen's racist ABC's: Arab culture, biracial children, Chirlane McCray's sexuality
  • Israel is a 'corpse' -- Hedges on Blumenthal's 'Goliath'
    • Shingo, that excerpt is a very apt description of MJ Rosenberg's outburst against Ali Abunimah.

    • Hedges himself penned the most horrifying description of events he witnessed in Gaza in 2001 - link to

      It is still. The camp waits, as if holding its breath. And then, out of the dry furnace air, a disembodied voice crackles over a loudspeaker.

      ‘Come on, dogs,’ the voice booms in Arabic. ‘Where are all the dogs of Khan Younis? Come! Come!’

      I stand up. I walk outside the hut. The invective continues to spew: ‘Son of a bitch!’ ‘Son of a Whore!…’

      The boys dart in small packs up the sloping dunes to the electric fence that separates the camp from the Jewish settlement. They lob rocks toward two armored jeeps parked on top of the dune and mounted with loudspeakers. Three ambulances line the road below the dunes in anticipation of what is to come.

      A percussion grenade explodes. The boys, most no more than ten or eleven years old, scatter, running clumsily across the heavy sand. They descend out of sight behind a sandbank in front of me. There are no sounds of gunfire. The soldiers shoot with silencers. The bullets from the M-16 rifles tumble end over end through the children’s slight bodies. Later, in the hospital, I will see the destruction: the stomachs ripped out, the gaping holes in limbs and torsos.

      Yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight young men, six of whom were under the age of eighteen. One was twelve. This afternoon they kill an eleven-year-old boy, Ali Murad, and seriously wound four more, three of whom are under eighteen. Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered – death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo – but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.

  • Beinart is leaving 'Daily Beast,' and 'Open Zion' is closing
    • It would be a shame for OZ to fold. I am much more intellectually inclined toward MW, but OZ did publish a very wide range of opinion, including Yousef Munayyer as a regular contributor. Some other writers, like Emily Hauser, wrote very credible articles. There was some dreck as well, though I read Gil Troy for comic relief. I think OZ was mostly read by liberal Zionists of the Beinart sensibility, people who I think should be encouraged to re-think Zionism entirely.

  • Netanyahu expands separation wall to Jordan Valley
    • Pay the Palestinians to leave is the only option left.
      What about paying the Jews to leave, Mike? Saudi Arabia could lavish a few tens of billions on Israeli Jews to get them to relocate to the US. The Jews would get peace and security, the US housing market would get a huge boost, and the Saudis would win the Nobel Peace Prize and the eternal gratitude of the Arab world! Sound like a plan, Mike? It's no crazier than your suggestion.

  • Beinart slams Stephens, Joel and Boteach for saying nothing when Adelson called for nuking Iran
    • One of them explicitly called for nuking another country, and the other one we all pretend made such a call. Besides, what an idiotic response, even if Ahmadinejad had called for nuking Israel. What is Boteach saying? That threats to nuke are OK if made by the good guys?

  • Natalie Portman and Woody Allen see anti-Semitism as pervasive
    • Hi WJ. I think you're right that leftist anti-Semitism, at least theoretically, is an oxymoron, because genuine leftists would be repulsed by ethnic discrimination of any kind. But left and right are losing their meaning these days. For example, between Ron Paul and Diane Feinstein, who is more "liberal"? I'm not at all opposed to this loss of meaning in the terms, as the left-right spectrum is often a convenient but lazy way to paint with a broad brush.
      Sure, opponents of the Jewish State might just hate Jews. Then again, some anti-Semites might love the Jewish State idea. If they live in the US or Argentina or France, maybe they would love all their Jewish neighbors to move to Israel. Who knows? My problem with Allen's speculation is that it presumes that anti-Semitism is widespread among Israel critics and casts all of them under suspicion. Even though he acknowledges that some are not, he reinforces the notion that anyone who criticizes Israel might have an anti-Semitic motive, and should be scrutinized for it before his or her opinion is evaluated. It is as unfair as speculating that non-Jewish supporters of Israel are hoping to empty their own countries of Jews.

    • Woody, I think you have no problem with the technical accuracy of what he is saying, especially if he had used the word "some" rather than "many." My problem is with what he is really saying. He is trying to cast aspersions on all Israel critics, placing a burden on them to establish that they are not anti-Semitic as he suspects. The only way to identify an anti-Semite is by observing statements and/or behavior that is anti-Semitic. Frankly, if an anti-Semite is too timid to make such statements or act hostilely to Jews, he or she is not much of a threat. Allen's speculation about what is really on the mind of "many" Israel critics is a thinly undisguised smear of all critics, who are placed under suspicion even if they have never said or done anything offensive.

      Throughout the course of his career, Allen has made innumerable self-deprecating jokes not only about himself but Jews in general. There are many who have considered him anti-Semitic because of this, and his defense surely would be that he is a comedian and was not actually suggesting that Jews are cheap or Jewish mothers smothering or whatever. While I don't agree with them, those Allen-critics have much more to go than Allen has in his suspicion of Israel-critics.

    • Portman's account reminds me of things I have read about college dorms segregated by race or similar characteristics. For instance, I remember a black student talking about why she prefers an all-black dorm - she doesn't have to explain this or that to her fellow dorm residents, all of whom already "get it." It didn't sound very convincing to me, as I think exposure to diversity should be an important part of college, but at least her preferences would not necessarily disadvantage other students. By the same token, if Portman, when she's living in the US, wants to surround herself with a significant Jewish population, she can choose to live in NYC or LA or Skokie or Shaker Heights or Newton, etc. But Portman, and Allen, use this discomfort to justify a place where there not only are a lot of Jews, but there is inherent systemic discrimination against non-Jews. That is no longer a matter of personal preference. It crosses the border into morally indefensible.

      As for Allen: “I do feel there are many people that disguise their negative feelings toward Jews, disguise it as anti-Israel criticism, political criticism, when in fact what they really mean is that they don’t like Jews.” I've heard that one before. Allen is worried that there are real anti-Semites out there who are too timid to admit their animosity toward Jews, and get their jollies by criticizing Israel. What a crock! Actually, Woody, there are some people who would like to defame all Israeli critics as anti-Semitic, but are too timid to do so, and so they speculate that "many" of Israel's critics actually are Jew-haters. How many is "many"? 10%? 50%? 17 people? 85 people? And how do you prove if your suspicions are correct? It's just a weasel way of smearing all Israeli critics without actually accusing anyone in particular.

      btw, Phil, which are the two states you have not been to? For me, it's three - Arkansas, N. Dakota and Alaska. I'll bet ND is on your list as well.

  • What Comes Next: The one state/two state debate is irrelevant as Israel and the US consolidate Greater Israel
    • Shmuel, I completely agree. If the goal is to shift American public opinion, a focus on equality can be very powerful. The Civil Rights struggle is still a big part of our recent history, and equality of citizenship regardless of ancestry is now well entrenched in our national psyche. There really is no good explanation for the fact that Israel does not the treat the people it rules over equally. Even its citizens aren't equal, and that's inherent in the very nature of the Jewish State. This is something every American can relate to. And the more people whine that "equality" means the "destruction" of the Jewish State, the better. What kind of system would be "destroyed" by equality?

  • MJ Rosenberg owes Ali Abunimah an apology for false accusations of anti-Semitism
    • That's an interesting question, WJ. I certainly would agree that the vast majority of statements about Zionists do not implicate Jews and could not be construed as anti-Semitic. But there are exceptions to that rule, and I think that saying that Zionists ran the concentration camps would be such an exception. Other hypothetical ones: Zionists plotted the worldwide financial crisis of 2008; Zionists are conspiring to exacerbate global warming. Or even the old standard: Zionists butcher non-Jewish babies to make matzoh. By the same token, I think the allegation that Hezbollah or Hamas rejoice when Israelis kill Lebanese or Palestinian children reeks of anti-Arab bigotry, even though many allegations against those groups, even if wrong, do not.

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