Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 1747 (since 2009-08-27 21:10:42)

David Samel

David Samel is an attorney in New York City.

Showing comments 1747 - 1701

  • 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.

    • I never quite understood the significance of the magic moment, which either already has happened or will happen shortly, that non-Jews outnumber Jews between the river and the sea. Before that time, Jews were in complete control of all the land and the people, with non-Jews divided among various groups, ranging from second-class citizens with inferior civil rights to those suffering under military occupation with virtually no rights at all. Nothing changes when the magic moment is reached. What difference does it make whether the Jewish population is slightly over or under 50%, or even whether it is 20% or 80%? The system that doles out rights and status to different groups depending upon their ethnicity/ancestry/religion would be unthinkable in the US and would merit condemnation if imposed in any other country.

  • US is 'pushing privately' on settlements, as reporters point out nothing has ever come of that
    • Citizen, I really tried to make all of my sentences so ridiculous that no one would miss the sarcasm. Did I fail?

    • is this a mistake?
      Yonah, it looks like it was true when Phil posted it. He gave a link to J Street's website which had not responded to the settlement expansion. Since then, the website does criticize it. The update is dated today June 6.

    • I'm sure that Israel is reeling over the use of the words "disappointed" and "unhelpful" and Netanyahu is convening an emergency meeting of the cabinet to discuss how to deal with this painful fallout. Reversal of the new housing announcement is a certainty, and an end to the whole occupation will probably soon follow. The dynamic Obama Administration is such a contrast from its predecessors when it comes to human rights and international law. Who needs BDS when our government is taking the lead in promoting and protecting Palestinian rights?

    • Page: 17
  • Dershowitz disqualifies an entire continent from supporting BDS, citing history of 'Jew hatred'
    • GL, thanks very much for your compliments (above) on my articles, and thanks too for this great Netanyahu quote that is irreconcilable with Dersh's nonsense. However, I thought about the Euro people/states difference and decided it was illusory. After all, the position of "states" is decided by actual human beings, the very same ones Dersh pillories as grandchildren of Nazis and their symps. Moreover, these leaders were elected to their positions by European people. If those people were so singleminded in their Jew hatred as Dersh suggests, wouldn't they elect leaders who also wanted to make "war on the Jews" or at least throw them out of office once they failed to do so? So I think I can "argue against Dersh’s claim about European people by pointing to policies of European states." In any event, I wish I had found that Netanyahu quote myself - it would have been perfect for the post.

  • Why doesn't 'NYT' pay more attention to B'Tselem, the leading Israeli human rights org?
    • To the contrary, Shuki, most new outlets give great attention to the pronouncements of the Israeli government and military, despite their awful record of falsification.

    • That's a great question, James. The Times of course quotes Israeli government and military officials virtually every article, and that's fine, but they grant anonymity on the flimsiest of pretexts - e.g. not authorized to speak, etc. - and I have never seen an analysis of the frequency with which these official pronouncements are later shown to be false. Wouldn't it be nice to see an article recounting such false statements? Yet here is a well-established Israeli human rights organization that doesn't hide behind anonymity and has an excellent record for truth-telling, and it is virtually ignored by the paper of record. The problem with B'Tselem is not that it is unreliable, but that frequent reliance on it would expose the Times to unrelenting criticism from some powerful people. The Times does react to public pressure, in both directions, and hopefully someone will take note of your simple but profound question.

      btw, I'm not surprised at Mackey's repeated references to B'T. He's an exception to the rule. Here he is on the latest shootings - very fair and even-handed, and quoting B'Tselem's call for an investigation, including the false statements made by the Israeli military. He also airs Avi Issacharoff's complaint of rough treatment by Palestinians, but also several criticisms of that version, including Ali Abunimah's. link to

  • New video shows Palestinian youths killed by Israeli army on Nakba Day posed no threat to soldiers
    • What do you see, Zach? Two guys not engaging in any aggressive behavior being shot to death. You see that, right? What is your point? That because the IDF killers are not in the picture frame, the boys were shot by Palestinians? Or perhaps they didn't die?

  • What’s wrong with the ADL survey and how it could be improved
  • This just in: Glenn Greenwald was never bar mitzvahed
    • Sorry Ira, but I would chalk this up to clumsy coincidence rather than any attempt to discredit Glenn. Haaretz runs articles like this all the time about prominent people who happen to be Jewish - purely hypothetical examples: "Ruth Bader Ginsburg has second bat mitzvah at age 78"; "Ryan Braun trying to reconnect with Jewish roots during suspension." With GG, neither article appears critical of him. Surely someone should have noticed what you accurately describe as "bizarre juxtaposition," and said maybe we should do these on different days, but it looks to me that the folks who do these personal stories and the ones who do the news stories were not collaborating, and the guy who slaps on the file photo thought, oh, this is easy, two for one. Still, the humor in this is irresistible.

  • Now that Israel has killed the two-state solution, will liberal Zionists support equality or ethnocracy?
    • Larry, I have a lot of respect for you and the brave columns that you've written in the past, including the one that got you sacked from the JPost, but I am disappointed in your response. Your least inoffensive point is that the 1ss is less achievable than the 2ss, and that point is not at all convincing. You treat the question of feasibility as a linear monetary issue that is wholly within Israel's power to decide, like "We can't get Israel to pay half a million dollars, so how are we to get it to pay a million?" That is stale thinking. Very briefly, what makes the 2ss non-feasible is the presence of hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers on land that would be part of the Palestinian State, and the impossibility of removing enough of them (without igniting a civil war) to make such state viable. That is not a problem for the 1ss, which would not require removal. As for Israeli intransigence toward any solution, it surely is correct that Israeli Jews will not give up their position of dominance over Palestinians, both citizens and the stateless, without pressure from the outside, and there is every sign that such pressure is building. As long as pressure is required, it should be applied to budge Israel toward the more achievable and more just solution of egalitarianism. You yourself see the growing South Africa-type pressure, so keep in mind that the ANC, and the world, demanded equality there, not some sort of less onerous inequality of the type inherently faced by Palestinian citizens of the Jewish State. Obviously there is much much more to say on this subject, but I am answering your brevity with my own.

      And, as I said, that was your best, least offensive argument. As for the Occupation, which you clearly and unequivocally oppose, I find two things you say troubling. First, you are willing to give it another decade before pronouncing the 2ss dead. Not only is that an unreasonable position with respect to the millions who are living under a cruel, racist military dictatorship, ten years is an entirely arbitrary time period that I suspect is quite vulnerable to entirely arbitrary extension as it nears expiration. You choose that number because it is far enough in the future that you don't have to worry too much now, yet not so far -- "only" one-fifth of what the Palestinians already have endured -- that you don't think your counsel of patience appears callous and indifferent. However, there is no reason to believe that a decade's passing will magically reveal things that are not quite clear today.

      The other thing is that faced with a choice between the status quo and the 1ss solution, you only "think" you would opt for the latter. That's something you really should know. You seem to recognize the status quo of occupation as "insupportable" but to you, it apparently is quite tolerable even if you vehemently oppose it. Just as bad, you will never have to recognize that that really is the choice (between status quo and 1ss), at least not for the next ten years, and even then, you can find some other reason to believe that your original ten-year prediction wasn't long enough.

      Let me acknowledge that your position is different from mine. I live a very safe comfortable life in the US, and my fears of the 1ss are virtually non-existent. Your fears of the chaos and danger that might ensue are no doubt genuine and sincere. However, you are in a position that is less dire than that faced by white South Africans, who protected themselves from almost all dangerous intermingling with the "underclass," and faced being a very small minority if apartheid ended. You Israeli Jews, on the other hand, already allow citizenship and frequent contact with a 25% non-Jewish population, and you would face about a 50-50 split with the end of Jewish privilege. At some point, you have to recognize that your fears of equality are sentencing millions of people to perpetual second- (or fifth-) class citizenship based on ethnicity and ancestry, something you truly would not find tolerable if imposed upon your own ethnic group.

      Larry, you are faced with a moral choice, and I cannot present it any better than Rebecca Steinfeld:
      Recognize that assumptions about the possibility of a Jewish democracy have rested on sloppy or wishful thinking, with devastating consequences. Confront the logical impossibility of “liberal Zionism.” Demand civil rights for all.
      and Matt Taylor:
      In a time of moral crisis, staying neutral is not an option, and if you insist on staying put where you are and advocating for a two state non-solution, you will just be carrying water for the colonial regime’s agenda of naked aggression and conquest.

    • I wholeheartedly agree with Matthew's opinion but not necessarily with his analysis. Why should this latest (entirely predictable) end to the umpteenth chapter of the peace process be seen as the final nail in the coffin? The next chapter is being planned as we speak, and will soon be coming to a theater near you. Most LZ's who continued to foresee a two-state future despite all the evidence to the contrary are not going to be deterred by this latest disappointment.

      Of course, the infeasibility of the 2ss is only one of two huge reasons to oppose it. The other is simple fairness: the continued existence of the Jewish State has always been incompatible with the fundamental inviolable principle of true equality. LZ's have managed to compromise their liberal principles in deference to their loyalty to the Jewish State idea, and they will not be compelled by any moral misgivings to abandon that position now.

      I don't want to seem too pessimistic, however. Matthew calls himself a former liberal Zionist, as do I and many others. Each of us made the jump from hoping that Israel could mitigate its mistreatment of Palestinians to questioning the necessity and fairness of the Jewish State itself. I have no doubt that this latest episode will cause others to make the same leap. However, I would be extremely surprised if Peter Beinart, Jeffrey Goldberg, or Thomas Friedman did so, and somewhat less surprised if Bradley Burston or Larry Derfner did.

  • Long faces at Israel's birthday party
    • Michael Lerner is usually a little too touchy-feely for my taste, but he makes a great observation here:
      Go into any synagogue or Jewish community center and say that you don’t believe in God, don’t think highly of Torah, and certainly don’t follow Jewish law, and you are likely to be greeted and welcomed in with a smile and a shrug. But say you don’t support Israel and immediately you will be shunned and told you are likely a self-hating Jew. Israel has become defacto the God of the Jews.

  • Now Rand Paul wants to 'Stand with Israel'
    • Over at - link to - Justin Raimondo, a genuine critic of Israel who is usually worth reading though not consistently reliable, has a very different view, consistent with a blah chick's comment above. Raimondo thinks Paul's gambit is a cleverly disguised anti-Israel move:

      I’m the only one who seems to have caught on to Sen. Paul’s latest curve ball: his "pro-Israel" bill that would wind up costing the Israelis a pretty penny.

      Entitled the "Stand With Israel Act," the legislation would cut off all aid to the Palestinian authorities within five weeks if they fail to recognize Israel, abjure terrorism, and pledge not to attack the Jewish state.

      It is being opposed by AIPAC, the largest and most politically connected pro-Israel lobbying organization, and – from its perspective – with good reason,: because the loss in aid would have to be made up for by the occupying power, i.e. Israel, which has the legal obligation, under international law, to provide basic infrastructure on Palestinian territory it controls. The international and local repercussions of not providing these basics just aren’t worth the price, and so AIPAC is doing Tel Aviv’s bidding in opposing Paul’s bill – not that the AIPAC leadership has to be told.

      Moreover, AIPAC argues that present law is sufficient to rule out any US aid to a coalition Fatah-Hamas government, while Paul’s bill calls this into question. Ah, say the Paul folks, but can the Obama administration be trusted to not utilize the ever-present waiver which is a key part of any restriction on "foreign aid"? We have all sorts of "human rights" and "anti-terrorist" legislation making economic and military aid conditional on satisfying all sorts of criteria: the kicker is the President can waive these conditions in the name of the "national interest" – he being the very embodiment of that exalted myth.

      Very clever – the "Stand With Israel" Act satisfies practically every constituency important to the Senator’s presidential prospects. The very name is enough to fool the snake-handling yahoos whose pastors liken standing with Israel to standing up for Jesus. Hey, they’re cutting off aid to those terrorist heathens! Yippee! You got a problem with that?

      Informed that Israel may wind up paying the tab, this same yahoo might very well look you in the eye and ask: Well, what’s wrong with that?

      Paul's public statements certainly appear to be pandering to the pro-Israel crowd, as he no doubt intends, but AIPAC's opposition does give one pause. Certainly, AIPAC's claim that it opposes Paul’s bill "because it doesn’t want to defund until Hamas joins the government" doesn't ring true. When has AIPAC ever tread cautiously when punishing Palestinians is on the table? The reconciliation agreement is surely enough for Israel, and AIPAC, to "retaliate." Raimondo is probably correct as to AIPAC's motivation, but his devout hope for a libertarian hero is coloring his rosy view of Paul.

  • Kerry's Last Ditch Effort
  • Apartheid label will stick
    • Israel complies with lots of UN treaties just not the stuff MW cares about.
      Are you serious, JeffB? Israel complies with international telecommunications and airlines conventions, so why is MW squawking about mundane matters like human rights? Wow, I hope you were smiling when you wrote that one.

  • 'NYT' scrubs 'analysis' that Hamas is 'seen in West as the devil'
    • What, you mean there are Arabs in the Middle East? When did that happen?

      There were very few Arabs in the entire Middle East until Jews began moving there, began to prosper, discovered irrigation, oil, and cherry tomatoes, and then, only then, did the Arabs migrate from parts unknown to share, and ultimately steal, Jewish wealth. h/t Joan Peters

  • Five reasons the breakdown of peace talks is a good thing
    • Thanks Adam for that excellent analysis. I think you're right on all points. Most people of common sense predicted at the outset that these talks would fail, and to look at the situation optimistically, it may be better that they proceeded in the first place for the reasons you mentioned.

  • Bait-and-switch anti-Semitism: NYU SJP accused of targeting Jews, or not
    • tree, I think that's a great idea, both because it would include valuable information for those students who are interested in learning more, and because it would make the charge that the eviction notices look real even more absurd than they already are. Great points on the house demolitions as well, though Adkins looks well on her way to some diplomatic post where prevarication expertise is a job requirement.

    • An amazingly comprehensive analysis by Phan, as usual. This smear, spread so widely by a single 19-year-old with minimal integrity, is reminiscent of the lies perpetrated about ISM conferences at Duke and U Michigan nearly a decade ago. There were multiple reports of the crowd chanting "Death to Jews," which eventually were reduced to a single student claiming that he heard one student say that to another in Arabic. Even if the culprits are exposed, as Phan does so well here, the misinformation is disseminated and will stain the cause of Palestinian rights with a bogus association with anti-Semitism. For Laura Adkins, shameless as she is, it is mission mostly accomplished. And next time, she and her ilk won't be stupid enough to correspond with Phan.

  • When the going gets tough, Roger Cohen gets going
    • I take a different view of Cohen's column. It's certainly not a morally righteous one, but he is endeavoring to explain Israel's intransigence in negotiations, and I think he's absolutely right. From Israel's perspective, the current situation is sustainable. They have lived with it for nearly half a century, and would be content to do so for another half. Cohen correctly points out that all of the ominous declarations about the vanishing window for the two state solution are falling on deaf ears. There simply is no disadvantage to continuing the status quo; the Palestinians may be miserable under Israeli rule, but as long as it enjoys the unfettered support of the US, Israel can continue forever. How could Israel have passed up all of these opportunities to cement its hold on 78% of the land, give lip service to RoR, and keep the lion's share of Jerusalem, a deal that surely would have been accepted by Arafat and/or Abbas even though it is profoundly unjust? It is only because refusing to compromise at all has little or no adverse consequences.

      Sure, Cohen blames equally Israel and the Palestinians in his concluding paragraph, but he really doesn't explain the latter's fault. Also, whether the current situation is truly sustainable is not as important as whether Israel perceives it to be so. Cohen's is not a moral voice, and I fully understand the anger directed at him. If he were moral, he would support rather than oppose BDS, and clearly call for a suspension of US economic, military and diplomatic aid to Israel in order to punish Israel for the intransigence that he identifies. Instead, he vaguely calls on both sides to do better, after accurately noting why that's not going to happen. In fact, his position is not that different from the far more loathsome Bill Kristol - link to - who proclaimed that he does not see continuation of the status quo as a "huge problem." Of course he doesn't, and Israel won't budge until someone - the international BDS movement of the US and EU - makes it a huge problem.

  • Registration of Jews and other human beings
    • hophmi, the point of my post is that what was feared in Ukraine - the requirement that Jews distinguish themselves in some official manner presumably so that the authorities would be able to subject them to some treatment not suffered by the rest of the population - has been going on Israel since its founding. Israel has always identified its non-Jewish citizens and subjected them to disadvantages, first with martial law until 1966 and since then through official discrimination sanctioned by law. Do you disagree that Israel has a registry of who is not Jewish? Or that non-Jewish citizens do not enjoy all of the rights and privileges of Jews in the Jewish State? You choose to bicker about ID card dates of birth and ethnicity versus religion but avoid the actual point.

    • Wow, lysias, I have watched in amazement at the Times's steady stream of articles skewering Russia and Putin on what seemed to be very ambiguous evidence. It was almost as if they were trying to atone for their negligence in questioning the US rush to war a decade ago by being hyper-vigilant against Russia this time, perverted as if that might sound. I briefly watched MSNBC yesterday, and the talking heads were making fun of the denials from Moscow in the face of this incontrovertible photographic proof. Now this subtle, buried retraction or at least pullback from what was previously presented as conclusively established. I'm not suggesting that Moscow is blameless or angelic, but the ease with which our government can manipulate the so-called liberal news media is astonishing.

    • hophmi, you seem to suggest that if the flyers had required everyone in Donetsk to register as Jewish or Christian or other, and/or had not demanded payment of a $50 registration fee, it would have been OK with you and John Kerry and Abe Foxman. No it wouldn't have. The transparent effort to identify the minority Jewish population would have been just as frightening. btw, I don't believe there is anything in the flyers that suggests that Jews would be deprived of their right to vote or "serve."

    • hophmi, Can you imagine what might have made Jews in Europe feel that way at the end of the War? Do you think it would have been a good idea to create a Jewish State in Europe where Jews had privileges over non-Jews and could expel hundreds of thousands to create their super-majority?

      Was the Middle East even remotely as hostile to its Jewish population for centuries? It was the advent of Zionism that provoked more and more hostility. Maybe the Zionist movement should have chosen Connecticut for its Jewish State. The people there no doubt would have been very disposed to accept the idea, don't you think?

      Whites in South Africa surely felt as threatened, even more so, by the end of apartheid.

      btw, if Palestinians deserve to be punished with inferior rights in the land of their birth for their transgressions of reacting violently to Zionism and mistreatment of Jews and other minorities, do Israelis deserve to be punished for their far greater transgressions of violence and denial of minority rights?

      You are trying to justify a system of ethnic and religious privilege with a little quip. Doesn't work, hophmi. It's the 21st century.

    • Thanks Brenda. I have an unnatural affection for sarcasm, which I sometimes overuse in my posts. My first draft of this one ended that way, with reference to the Israeli Ministry of Irony and Hypocrisy, etc. Adam wisely pushed me to modify it and flesh out the similarity of the registration stories rather than just assume that everyone would agree. Glad you liked the other one, though.

    • Very true, Shmuel, just as the end of the Jewish State, even if achieved through non-violent transformation to an egalitarian country, is treated as the end of the Jewish presence in the area, as if Jews simply cannot co-exist with Palestinians unless they are in a position of domination and superiority.

    • lysias, I am unable to distinguish one from the other, but thanks for the insight (Adam provided the image). I would have been surprised otherwise, because whoever distributed the flyers wanted it to be believed that Russians or Russian-speaking Ukrainians were behind it.

  • Palestinian youth fulfill their 'right of return' to the destroyed village of Iqrit
    • Great report, Alex and Allison. btw, the Palestinian commandos behind the 1972 Munich Olympics disaster named their operation after Iqrit and a neighboring Christian village, also ethnically cleansed in the 1947-9 War. The leader of the group, nicknamed Issa, was half Christian and half Jewish.

  • Peter Beinart misses South Africa's apartheid lesson, Gideon Levy gets it
    • Here is an excerpt from Beinart that I find so impressive:

      When members of one racial, religious or ethnic group grant themselves due process, the right to vote, and the right to free movement while denying those same freedoms to members of another racial, religious or ethnic group (as Israelis do in the West Bank), the people in power develop myriad, often complicated, sometimes ingenious, justifications.

      White South Africans said black South African culture was pathological. Blacks, I was told again and again in my youth, were disposed to terrifying acts of violence. Just look at the necklacings occurring in the townships. Black South Africans had no tradition of democracy. Just look at the dictatorships dominating the rest of the continent. Black South Africans were bitterly divided: Just look at the way members of Nelson Mandela's African National Congress and Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party butchered each other. The black South African struggle was a Trojan Horse for dictatorships waging war against the West: Just look at the Soviet Union's support for the ANC. Black South Africans were an invented people. They had only migrated to the country from central Africa a few centuries ago.

      I heard these arguments from well-educated, well-meaning people, some of whom I loved. And in their particulars, the arguments weren't all wrong. . . And yet, ultimately, it was all beside the point. Denying people the basic rights necessary for a decent life because they are of a certain race, ethnicity or religion is wrong. Period.

      Where I disagree with Beinart is that his liberal Zionism leads him to believe that the system of Jewish privilege can survive as long as the victims of that privilege are allowed to have what he considers decent lives. The ANC, however, did not demand an amelioration of particularly awful conditions, but equality, pure and simple. Beinart does not allow for true equality between Jews and Palestinians, because he knows that would spell the end of the Jewish State concept.

      Still, the passage I quote is a brilliant dismantling of numerous justifications for apartheid that have virtually exact analogies in hasbara, and should not be overlooked.

    • When I read Beinart's article, I focused on the good rather than the bad. I thought there was great value in his remembrance of the excuses and rationales for apartheid that he heard as a child, and how obviously applicable they are to Israel's excuses for denying Palestinian rights. That portion of Beinart's essay is not reprinted here, and while I read it on my phone, I can't get to it on the computer. It is well worth reading.

      True, Beinart continues to irritate in his willingness to compromise his liberal principles by embracing a political system that denies full equality so that he can sleep better at night knowing that if the Nazis resurface, he and his kids have a place to flee. But this essay, and indeed much of his book, contain very impressive analyses that should not be discarded because of his ultimate conclusion. Indeed, Judis's book about Truman is somewhat similar; Phil accurately describes it as anti-Zionist while Judis himself wants to see Israel continue as a Jewish State.

  • 'NYT' photo feature on women in Gaza ignores Israel and Palestine
    • I had a similar reaction to this article and was writing a post about it when I saw this better one. The only additional point I would have made about the article's failure to identify Israel as the cause of so much misery was this: Imagine a story about the teenagers of Sderot coping with rockets fired from “nearby” that fails to note that Palestinians from Gaza are launching them. In fact, a search of Sderot on the Times website gets 500 hits. I browsed through dozens, and not a single one talks about the rockets without identifying the agency behind them. In fact, that would be inconceivable.

  • John Judis's Truman book is a landmark in anti-Zionism
    • Agreed, Krauss. Phil accurately calls the book "anti-Zionist" even though its author would disagree, or at least certainly not call himself that. The situation bears slight resemblance to Benny Morris, whose historical research was groundbreaking, but whose opinions have evolved to reprehensible. Judis of course is much less offensive, but both authors illustrate the importance of evaluating their histories and their opinions separately. Judis's political conclusions and prescription for the future are less important than the historical record he has provided.

  • Southern Poverty Law Center takes Blumenthal's side against smear campaign
    • Sean, I was commenting on the practice of blaming public figures for inspiring acts of violence by lunatics who have cited those public figures in their lunatic writings. I entirely agree with you that the accusation against Max is ludicrous, just as any accusation against the Beatles for inspiring Charles Manson would be. The question would be how Max would justify his accusation against Pipes, Geller and Spencer regarding the Breivik massacre. Your formulation that both Breivik and Pipes are Islamaphobes, while accurate, strikes me as very simplistic. Breivik's attack was not even focused on Muslims. If memory serves, Breivik was very opposed to feminism as well; would anti-feminist public figures be responsible as well? I do think that Max could make an arguable case against Pipes that cannot reasonably be made against him, but Pipes does have what I described as a "superficially appealing" argument here, and one that requires more than hand-waving dismissal to adequately rebut. Just like you, I like Max and dislike Pipes, but that is no basis to dispense with reasonable analysis of an intriguing question.
      Phan engages in just such analysis in his comment here. While he discusses only the smear campaign against Max, the fact that Breivik's writings and history with Pipes et al was more voluminous and prominent is one fact in defense of Max's accusation. Still, there is a larger question of when it is appropriate to make such accusations of responsibility and when it is not.

    • In partial defense of Daniel Pipes (I never thought I would use that phrase), he accuses Max of hypocrisy for associating Pipes with the Breivik massacre. Pipes says that if Max was right that Pipes was to blame for inspiring Breivik, then Max is guilty of inspiring Miller. Pipes also suggests that he is against such accusations in general. It seems to me that Pipes, loathsome as he is, has a superficially appealing point regarding hypocrisy. Maybe Max should explain why his Breivik accusation was worthier than those presently leveled against him. There certainly are arguments to be made.

  • 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.

Showing comments 1747 - 1701