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Total number of comments: 726 (since 2009-08-27 21:10:42)

David Samel

David Samel is an attorney in New York City.

Showing comments 726 - 701

  • 1918, 1948, 2018: World War I, the Nakba, and the rise of ethnic nationalism
    • Shmuel, thanks for this brilliant article. I was unfamiliar with Tamares but am excited to find an intellectual who accurately foresaw the inevitable consequences of the Zionist project. It is an excellent antidote to the standard "liberal" position today that Netanyahu & co. are extremists who are betraying the promise and potential of Israel and hopefully will suffer a political setback that restores Israel to its rightful place. The current government may be Israel's worst but it is a natural culmination of the very idea of Jewish statehood, not an aberration or perversion. It is simply astounding that Tamares's sarcasm - that the Arabs are "an uncultured people that had stolen into the land, settling there for a mere fifteen hundred years" - is still necessary as a perfect response to combat contemporary hasbara that should have been abandoned many years ago as embarrassing drivel.

  • Fighting Nakba denial
    • Great article, Professor. Denial of the Nakba is worse than Holocaust denial. Holocaust deniers are rightfully marginalized and powerless.
      None of the 535 members of Congress deny the Holocaust and if anyone did so, he or she would quickly be out of a job. By contrast, those who deny that Israel's founding and its acquisition of territory through military force in 1967 had catastrophic consequences on the indigenous Palestinian population are welcomed in the mainstream. The prevailing narrative is of Israel as blameless victim of relentless attacks and Palestinians as suffering solely from self-inflicted (or other Arab-inflicted) wounds. Those who dare to challenge that narrative are often more vulnerable to consequences than those who mindlessly repeat it. As Levine notes here, the Holocaust ended more than 70 years ago, the good guys won, and the bad guys remembered accurately as the worst of the worst. The Nakba is ongoing with no end in sight.

      The forcible expulsion in July, 1948 of tens of thousands of inhabitants of Lydda and Ramle was described by Yitzhak Rabin in his 1979 memoir. Rabin had already served a term as Israeli PM and years later would serve another and win the Nobel Peace Prize. He wrote that he, Ben‐Gurion, and Yigal Allon were discussing the situation:

      "[Allon] repeated his question: ‘What is to be done with the population?’ B.G. waved his hand in a gesture which said, ‘Drive them out!’

      “Allon and I held a consultation. I agreed that it was essential to drive the inhabitants out. . .

      “Psychologically, this was one of the most difficult actions we undertook. The population of Lod [Lydda] did not leave willingly. There was no way of avoiding the use of force and warning shots in order to make the inhabitants march the 10 to 15 miles to the point where they met up with the legion.

      “The inhabitants of Ramie watched and learned the lesson. Their leaders agreed to be evacuated voluntarily. . .

      “Great suffering was inflicted upon the men taking part in the eviction action. Soldiers of the Yiftach Brigade included youth‐movement graduates, who had been inculcated with values such as international brotherhood and humaneness. The eviction action went beyond the concepts they were used to.

      “There were some fellows who refused to take part in the expulsion action. Prolonged propaganda activities were required after the action, to remove the bitterness of these youth‐movement groups, and explain why we were obliged to undertake such a harsh and cruel action.”

      While Rabin's account focused on the psychological trauma to the noble IDF soldiers and only hinted at the suffering and death of the victims, it proved too nasty for the Israeli censors, who ordered its removal from the book. Israel had carefully cultivated the nonsense that "we begged them to stay but they followed the orders of their leaders and voluntarily fled," and they weren't going to allow Rabin to even mildly question the official story. However, his English translator leaked the excised passage to the Times.

  • Natalie Portman says, Enough!
    • You're right that Silverman dipped her toes into the water only to withdraw when she found it too hot. But this is a bigger, more high-profile event, maybe bigger than Lorde's cancellation of her Israel gig. It's not exactly an endorsement of BDS, but clearly quite consistent with it. Portman is an Israeli dual citizen and is even credited as a researcher in Dershowitz's awful tome The Case for Israel. Her position surprised me, and hopefully reflects a broader change among younger US Jews. And, unlike Silverman's brief trial balloon, this is not a decision that can be easily reversed or abandoned.

  • Ahed Tamimi, 17, to serve 8 months in prison for slapping soldier in occupied village
    • What an extraordinary hero she is. Schools should be named after her. I'm a little heartbroken that she and her mother have to spend one more minute behind bars but it looks like the best outcome considering the alternatives. There are a million stories that illustrate how morally perverse and reprehensible the occupation is, but this one jumps to the front.

  • Netanyahu in DC: I don't want Palestinian 'subjects' but the West Bank will remain 'militarily under Israel'
    • For many years, Israel has simply wanted the status quo to continue, as they control millions of people who have no right to vote for their leaders. Since the early 90's, Israel has seen it necessary to promote an unattainable mirage of a two-state solution to camouflage the permanence of its brutal military occupation. Since it has received virtually zero pressure from the international community to actually relinquish any control, Netanyahu and other leaders unsurprisingly are discarding the 2ss fig leaf as unnecessary. Why bother to bullshit any more? That's why they strive so hard to squash the BDS movement and suppress pro-Palestinian rights activists on college campuses and elsewhere. They're trying to postpone the eventual groundswell of support. Let's hope it's a losing battle.

  • Jared Kushner's swift rise and long, long fall
  • Israel’s Justice Minister endorses apartheid -- the Jewish state 'at the expense of equality'
    • Shaked is a particularly loathsome pol but this is nothing new. There always was an irreconcilable contradiction between democracy and the concept of a Jewish State, and Zionists have always chosen the latter. Still, it is a bit refreshing when an Israeli pol explicitly admits the truth.

      Similarly, Israelis have repeatedly targeted civilians, whether in the occupied territories or neighboring countries, and occasionally their political or military leaders have simply admitted or even boasted of it. That's much preferable to nonsensical horseshit claims that Israel always tries to avoid civilian casualties, like Ronen Bergman's media tour

  • 'NYT' praises Israelis for restraint in attacks aimed at Arafat that killed 100s of innocents
    • festus, I don't blame you. Sarcasm is always risky on line. This has happened before but I never learn my lesson

    • A couple of more serious points. First, with Israel having caused so much wanton slaughter in Lebanon, not just in 1982 but also in 1978, 1993, 1996 and 2006, it is absurd that Hezbollah or anyone else in Lebanon is blamed for arming themselves with missiles to deter yet another attack. Yet that is exactly what we read in the NYTimes - - or the Atlantic - . In essence, these articles claim that their acquisition of missiles in defense of Israeli attack actually constitutes a reason for Israel to attack in the first place.

      Second, can anyone imagine an article in the Times or any other mainstream publication about a robust debate among Hamas or Hezbollah leadership about the circumstances in which attacks on civilians can be justified? Israel has killed civilians on countless occasions, sometimes deliberately, sometimes as a knowing by-product of a "targeted execution" against an individual who has been deemed guilty of some act or another by government and/or military officials who answer to no one. Their death toll is many times higher than that suffered by Israeli civilians. Yet their angst is a proper subject for exploration, especially in contrast to Palestinians, who are automatically viewed as hate-filled and nihilistic rather than people struggling to survive and opposing horrible oppression by a foreign military.

    • festus, I did think of hanging a sarcasm alert on my comment but thought it wasn't necessary this time. Oh well...

    • Israel has many nukes and could exterminate millions of Palestinians on a moment's notice. They deserve praise for restraint every single day they don't use their nukes. Where's the mainstream media on this?

  • Norman Finkelstein's new book on Gaza is a meticulous account of Israel's crimes
    • This book is Finkelstein at his best. He is a thorough, careful, and relentless chronicler of the worst of Israel's deliberate slaughter and immiseration of its Palestinian victims. His selfless efforts on behalf of Palestinians have cost him his livelihood and career.

      Still, he remains a dedicated two-stater who has disparaged both one-staters and the BDS movement as a whole. This earned him the enmity of Ali Abunimah and Steven Salaita, who smeared him as comparable to the utterly loathsome Alan Dershowitz. I greatly respect both of them, but think their hatchet job on Finkelstein was grossly unfair, given his immense contributions to the Palestinian cause. Finkelstein has stubbornly clung to the illusory and undesirable vision of a 2SS and his dismissal of BDS was arrogant and ill-informed, but his overwhelmingly positive efforts cannot reasonably be denied.

  • Finally a 'New York Times' columnist says liberal Zionism is dead
    • This was a very significant column, especially coming on the heels of the Halbfinger article from a few days ago that Phil wrote about here - . The Times is oh so mainstream on Israel and Palestine ("can't we all just get along"?), as has been diligently reported here by Phil, James North, Donald Johnson, and many others on innumerable occasions. Now there are two prominent presentations of the one-state equal-rights solution appearing within days of each other. Neither is a full-throated endorsement, of course, but both address the issue with reasonable fairness and barely a raised eyebrow. Israel and its supporters have been successfully suppressing this reasonable and fair resolution, both by disparaging it as a secret plan to "destroy" the world's only Jewish State and by proffering the supposedly more feasible and reasonable two-state solution as the only conceivable outcome. In fact, their efforts have been so successful that people like Norman Finkelstein and even Noam Chomsky have at least partially voiced agreement. Now that many are seeing the 2ss solution for what it always was - a chimera cynically used as a delaying tactic - the only truly fair solution is coming into focus.

      In my opinion, and the opinion of many others, the two-state solution was always much less fair and even less feasible (its only conceivable virtue) than one state of equals. It is very gratifying to see two non-hysterical presentations in the Times this week, even if it may turn out to be only the umpteenth dam-bursting tipping-point event. The relentless rightward drift of Israel may ultimately shoot itself in the foot after all.

      Goldberg deserves kudos for her courage, even though I would have written something significantly different if the Times had only invited me to be an op-ed columnist. I am much closer to Richard Falk's brilliant analysis in mondoweiss yesterday - - but was more pleasantly surprised by the Goldberg column today.

  • First ever bill on Palestinian human rights introduced to U.S. Congress
    • This is both encouraging and disheartening. It's always good news to see a "little crack in the facade," as JosephA puts it, and kudos to McCollum and the House sponsors (Sanders and Klobuchar are senators and this bill was intro'd in the House). However:

      Unless I'm missing something, the bill has an obvious loophole. It doesn't impose any penalty on Israel for continuing to detain and mistreat, even torture, children. It only requires State Dept certification that the money provided by the US not be used for such activities. All they have to say is that Israel doesn't use US money for any activities relating to children. It uses only its own money for that. US money goes toward other things, including detention, mistreatment and torture of adults, which is not addressed by the bill. It's that easy. If the bill had teeth, it would reduce or eliminate any "aid" as long as Israel continues its objectionable practices against minors. In the extremely unlikely event that this bill passes, it could do nothing to stop mistreatment of children and be purely symbolic.

      It will be interesting to see how the bill plays out; who will be brave enough to support it, and who will win the stiff competition for most disgraceful, disingenuous , and dishonest criticism of the bill. I would expect major backlash and pressure to toe the line.

      While I think this bill is extremely unlikely to have any direct effect on the situation it targets, I think its strength lies in its potential for giving Congress members a little much-needed spine, and showing that some of them can survive challenging the stranglehold of the (supposedly non-existent) Israel lobby. In a perfect (or even modestly improved) world, this bill would be seen as a very weak gesture, a baby step, in the right direction. But in the current climate, which actually is significantly improved over 5, 10, 20 years ago, it is a giant leap forward.

  • Cartoon of Dershowitz mingled appropriate satire and anti-Semitic imagery
    • Matthew and Donald are wrong here for a variety of reasons, but they have a good general point. Critics of Israel shouldn't go near the boundaries of anti-Semitism lest they gift the hasbara crowd with ammunition to shoot down their arguments and generally smear the Palestinian rights movement as bigoted. However:

      1) The cartoon was a representation of Dershowitz, not Jews in general. Nazi propaganda pictured Jews generally with exaggerated facial features and as spiders. There is an enormous difference between portraying one man who happens to be Jewish and an entire ethnic/religious group.

      2) IMO, the cartoon does not represent Dersh as an eight-legged spider, just a hideous creature who pretends to be a sophisticated liberal while defending and supporting the worst human rights abuses. I followed this controversy from the beginning, and Dershowitz's initial outrage was very non-specific. I honestly had no idea if his anti-Semitism accusation had to do with Mayorga's portrayal of him or of Israel or of both. Same with Carol Christ's lock-step agreement with Dersh. It was not until days later when Dershowitz responded to Magarik that I first read the spider theory. It seemed a concocted argument when he finally realized that he had to support his charge with more than a bare-bones, generic complaint. By the way, his color v. black-and-white argument, which Matthew adopts, is garbage. The cartoon looks the same either way.

      3) Mayorga was clearly not flirting with anti-Semitic depictions. As Keith says, do we all need to study anti-Semitic Nazi-era propaganda before making comment on a Jewish man? Sure, he could have chosen other depictions, but he went with what he felt. It was an artistic decision, and the notion that he knowingly dipped his toes in filthy water is fantasy.

      Mayorga's defense that he would have been attacked as anti-Semitic even if had drawn a less deformed Dershowitz is surely correct. While that excuse wouldn't hold for someone who risked genuine backlash, Mayorga is entitled to it. In fact, I thought it was a brilliant cartoon.

  • 'Daily Californian' cartoon of Dershowitz dripping blood unleashes another furor over anti-Semitic canards
    • Eljay, we agree much more than disagree but the spider issue is irrelevant. I don't think it resembles a spider but even if it does, it is harsh on Dershowitz only and not anti-Semitic. Cartoons can depict an individual as an animal without defaming the individual's ethnic group. The De Sturmer cartoon depicts Jews generally as spiders. Mayorga's drawing, while grotesque, is no more anti Semitic than if he had drawn Dershowitz as a two headed monster. And we both agree that Dershowitz is a grotesque character. The cartoon condemns the man and the country but says nothing about Jews.

    • When I first saw this cartoon, I wondered what constituted the actual claim of anti-semitism. Was it the depiction of Israel or of Dershowitz? The cartoon appears to be an ordinary representation of Dersh without any exaggerated supposedly Jewish features, and the criticism of Israel, while harsh, wasn't remotely related to Jews as a whole. Nevertheless Chancellor Christ and editor Doumar simply adopted the assumption that it was anti-semitic and caved in to Dersh's outrage. It's revolting that Dersh ultimately got what he wanted: public apologies and withdrawal of the cartoon on grounds of anti-semitism.

      It wasn't until Dersh's latest response to Magarik that any details of the "anti-semitism" were provided. (As an aside, what an absurd claim that Dersh "breaks his silence"; when has he ever been silent about anything, much less this cartoon that has had him shrieking for days). Dershowitz now claims that he was depicted as a "spider," and he referenced a cartoon from Der Sturmer that depicted Jews as a spider. Seriously? In Mayorga's cartoon, Dersh has a single arm and single hand. Besides, Dersh's implication that Mayorga knew of the Der Sturmer spider cartoon and was evoking it, is utterly absurd.

      If Dersh wants to complain about comparisons of humans to insects (yeah, I know spiders aren't really insects), he could start with IDF Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan, who referred to "Arabs" as "drugged cockroaches in a bottle" or PM Begin, who called Palestinians "two-legged beasts."

      One last thing. While Magarik agrees with the depiction of Dershowitz as defending IDF killers and squashing Palestinians (as do I), the truth of the cartoon is irrelevant. People agree or disagree with cartoons all the time. The question is whether this one was anti-semitic. As Magarik brilliantly points out, Dersh's hot-headed claim stands in marked contrast to his defense of Steve Bannon from an anti-semitism charge: “I think we have to be very careful before we accuse any particular individual of being an anti-Semite… [I don’t think anybody should be called or accused of being anti-Semitic unless the evidence is overwhelming.”

  • Dershowitz defames Gertrude Stein, Daniel Berrigan and Omar Barghouti
    • Ossinev, I agree with your annoyance of his interruptions and mumblings but disagree with your assessment of his debating skills. When I watch a debate, I know what side I'm on and I'm always evaluating the effectiveness of the opposing speaker to persuade the undecided. I think he's far more effective than you think. His default tone of moral outrage and righteous indignation is very carefully cultivated and charismatic, even though I detest the substance of almost everything he says. I'm not surprised that he won the Oxford debate, and think that only a highly skilled debater could have defeated him the way he deserves.

    • Thanks, Kid. I occasionally call him "Dersh" solely because Dershowitz is a pain to type. For the same reason, some people, even harsh critics, refer to Netanyahu as "Bibi." In my opinion, "Bibi" sounds cute and endearing, but "Dersh" has about the same sound as his full name.

      On your more important point, while true anti-Semitism is inexcusable, I do agree that Dershowitz's actions (and to a much larger extent Israel's) do feed world-wide anti-Semitism. While that may be a danger to Jews throughout the world, it is effectively a plus for Israel, which holds itself out to be the one true refuge for Jews facing persecution. It is the country's raison d'etre.

  • Remembering Jean Stein
    • Beautiful tribute, Phil. I never met her but you can tell how special she was by the tears shed by so many people I greatly respect.

  • Yet another young American Jew has had it with Israel
    • eljay, with respect, I also think you're being unfair. Axelman is at the forefront of the younger generation's disenchantment with Israel. His film is a huge project that has the potential to change the opinions of many and significantly move the discourse in the right direction. His only statement that you find objectionable is that after the devastating war, the few remaining battered and bruised European Jews had no choice but to move to Palestine. From this you conjure support for an oppressive Jewish supremacist system. Such criticism acts to discourage people like Axelman from their activism. He is obviously sincere and committed, and even if you are correct that he is protective of his "right" as a Jew to superior rights in Israel/Palestine over indigenous inhabitants (an enormous IF since Annie is absolutely right that there is no evidence to support it), he should be persuaded to complete his journey rather than rejected as impure.

      I can understand the impatience and irritation at so-called "liberal Zionists," but there is a huge spectrum of LZ opinion with some far more objectionable than others. You are not only speculating that Axelman is one, you are lumping him in with the worst of the lot, all on the basis of a single, fairly innocuous statement about post-war European Jewry. Give the guy a break.

  • 'Why do I not cry out for the right of return?' -- an exchange between Uri Avnery and Salman Abu Sitta
    • Jon, the term "Zionist" has many meanings to different people. The general consensus here is that one who believes that a Jewish State should exist, despite its inherent discrimination against non-Jews, is a "Zionist." Avnery necessarily fits that definition. A "liberal Zionist" is one who professes that the destructive effects inherent discrimination should be minimized. Perhaps Avnery in 1968 was describing Zionists as those who don't care or favor complete expulsion of the indigenous population. No matter. Your impression of Avnery's sense of irony is really irrelevant to the discussion here.

    • No, Jeff. If Avnery decides that Salman is morally correct, he should not hesitate to say so just because there are well-armed Israelis who will unleash terrible violence to defend the immoral status quo. If Uri does not find Salman's arguments to be compelling, he should explain why, but he is unable to do so. This third ground, of standing by an immoral position because of the military superiority of those who insist on maintaining it, is indefensible. It would have defended apartheid, slavery, and virtually every historical abomination that was enforced by arms.

    • This is a fascinating exchange. "Liberal Zionists" come in a number of different varieties. Avnery, Derfner, Beinart, Slater are among the best, with Avnery perhaps topping the list. His contributions to the debate, framed by his general honesty about horrible behavior of the Israeli "right", are considerable.

      But in this debate, Avnery gets destroyed by Salman Abu Sitta, whose unflinching but respectfully-presented arguments are simply unrebuttable. "Liberal Zionists," who sincerely believe in universal principles such as equality, justice, freedom, etc., are willing to carve out this single exception as a (perhaps unfortunate?) necessity. "It's too bad, but Palestinians will just have to accept some measure of reduced human rights." Honesty compels LZs to acknowledge the problem, but in the end their tribalism triumphs over the common decency of refusing to impose on others what they would find intolerable.

      Avnery is surely correct when he says that Israelis "do not want Israel proper to turn into an Arab-majority country," though his estimate of 99% strikes me as grossly exaggerated. Avnery's fear that a single (or binational) state "can only be achieved by a bloody war" is most probably sincere, but it may very well be mistaken and certainly is no reason to oppose what is morally right. I recall a 1980 meeting conversation with a young man who had emigrated from South Africa to Australia, who told me that apartheid may be doomed but could only be destroyed in a very bloody civil war. He was very convincing, but fortunately turned out to be wrong. Yes, most Israeli Jews would claim that they are willing to kill and die to preserve Jewish supremacy and domination over Palestinians, but there is every reason to hope that they, like white South Africans a quarter-centure ago, can be persuaded to relinquish their ethno-religious advantages.

      In fact, Israeli Jews are in a much better position than white South Africans, constituting about half the population of the land rather than less than 20%. If Israeli Jews fear retaliatory violence, those very same fears had a much stronger foundation in SA.

      Most importantly, Avnery's tragic flaw is his ultimate reliance on military might rather than moral principle to determine not just the resolution of the issues but his own opinion of the desirable outcome. If he could answer Salman's passionate but immaculately reasoned analysis, he would have done so. If he could not, he should have conceded that Salman is right but argued that the excessive violence he anticipates is too much to bear. That would at least be a step in the right direction.

  • For Chelsea Manning -- Freedom!
  • Jeffrey Goldberg is Jewish
    • People who fight for Palestinian rights are always going to run the risk of being called anti-Semitic. Because that charge, if true or even plausible, can do much harm to the movement, it is always wise to avoid even the appearance of anti-Semitism. But, as we all know, entirely unfounded smears of anti-Semitism will be hurled at any time. The old standby of automatically screaming "bigotry" at Israel criticism no longer works, and people like Rosenberg are trying to dress up their libel with a thin veneer of pseudo-intellectual analysis. In the end, though, he's just being an asshole. There is no there here.

  • Dershowitz will play Trump in Clinton's debate rehearsal, WNYC reports
    • Finally, a Hillary decision I agree with. Dershowitz is the perfect Trump. He is one of the few prominent "intellectuals" who not only is a compulsive liar (though slightly more refined) but regularly fabricates surprising and unexpected new lies - exactly what Clinton should get ready to face in the real debate. Also, Dersh's instinct to bully and demean with excessive hyperbole is virtually identical to Trump's. If anyone can prepare Clinton for the unpredictable nastiness of Trump, it is Dersh. All he has to do is be himself and remove the thin veneer of respectability.

      I don't think this choice will do anything to undermine her support or solidify her credentials with the Israel lobby. Those who would be disgusted by Dersh are already turned off by her association with people like Kissinger and Negroponte. As for the lobby, it needs no further assurances that she will slavishly stick to their prepared script.

      That being said, it certainly is amusing, and although I don't "summer" there, I do love visiting the Vineyard.

  • Netanyahu's Academy-award performance of dehumanization is why the conflict persists
    • When I watched this video a few days ago, I was so enraged that I considered anger management therapy. What a vile piece of shit. But Netanyahu's "dehumanization" of Palestinians is only one of the more glaring examples of this process that is quite widespread. How often we hear that Israelis care more about Palestinian children than their own parents, that they willingly sacrifice their lives to make Israelis look bad. For the most part, it's been a successful campaign.

  • American musicians are 'scared sh*tless' their careers 'will be destroyed' if they speak up for Palestinians -- Roger Waters
    • Roger Waters is one of the great heroes of the Palestinian rights' movement. Not only does he refuse to back down, but he has brilliantly articulated his moral position at length in numerous writings.

      I read Van Zandt's twitter rants and they amount to nothing more than name-calling and hiding behind the 140-character limit. In response to one tweet asking him about his solution to Israeli apartheid, he responded: "The problems there have existed for a thousand years and you want the solution in 140 characters?" If SVZ wants to publicly pontificate on the Middle East, he should do it with extended analysis rather than meaningless, dismissive one-liners like "go get educated" directed to "politically ignorant obnoxious idiots."

  • Saying Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state is not anti-Semitic
    • It's really quite simple. Someone who thinks that Jews should be equal citizens in any country they inhabit, but should not deprive any other people of that same equality, is an anti-Zionist without being an anti-Semite. There is no doubt that the overwhelming majority of anti-Zionists base their position on that fundamental principle of equality.

      Some people like to talk about Israel's great accomplishments in building a state and a powerful military, having an outsize influence on the most powerful nation on Earth, restoring the ancient Hebrew language to modern use, inventing the cherry tomato, etc. In my view, there is no more impressive accomplishment than the PR coup of concealing the irreconcilable conflict between a Jewish State and equality, and portraying those who oppose the existence of the Jewish State as the actual enemies of equality. Brilliantly done - diabolical, morally reprehensible, but brilliant.

  • Advice to British leftwingers on kicking racism out of their anti-Israel rhetoric
    • Yes, Shmuel, thanks for pointing out what should be obvious but somehow is not, that “Hitler supported Zionism” is not the same as “Hitler was a Zionist.” Even worse, I have seen repeatedly that Livingstone equated Zionism and Nazism. With such logic, stating the fact that the US and Saudi Arabia are allies is equivalent to saying that the US and SA have the same or similar political/economic/social systems. Whatever Livingstone's gaffes actually were, those who feel they have to grotesquely exaggerate what he said to condemn him should be exposed for their own dishonesty.

      I also like your comparison to the KKK leader's statement. Another old saw of hasbara is that while not all anti-Zionists are anti-Semites, all anti-Semites are Anti-Zionists, as if to say, even if there is not irrefutable proof of an anti-Zionists's anti-Semitism, there is sufficient guilt by association. Not only is the smear logically indefensible, it is factually wrong. There are plenty of anti-Semites who have no problem with the concept of a Jewish State because they think their fellow Jewish citizens should move there. They may not be Zionists in any genuine intellectual sense but they sure aren't anti-Zionists.

  • 'NY Times' publishes op-ed writer's blatant falsehood about Palestinians without blinking an eye
    • Thanks, HB. In fact, I'm munching on cherry tomatoes right now. I think you're right that things are improving, though not as fast as we would hope. Even in the internet age, grossly false myths continue to get widespread acceptance.

    • Yes, Henry, I did intend to write non-violable and perhaps should have used inviolable because I somehow got auto-corrected to non-viable, which is virtually the opposite of my meaning. I didn't see the error until you pointed it out.

      As for your favorite part of the essay - the reference to Schulman - I quite agree on its importance. Unfortunately for me, that was the only sentence that Phil inserted!

      Gee, Henry, you really made my day. ;-)

    • Thanks! Holding my breath ...

    • True! It does seem to be an unofficial regular feature and a quite necessary one. The Times is subject to incessant complaints and pressure from the other side about anti-Israel (!!) bias, and I think these pushbacks from our side do at least a small part in counter-balancing that effort.

  • Why my books are not published in Israel
    • Seems like a close call to me, but Susan Abulhawa, as usual, clearly articulates her reasonable position. I would only add that it would be difficult for her to honor and celebrate other authors' (eg Alice Walker) decisions not to publish in Hebrew while violating BDS herself, even if an argument could be made that this is an exceptional situation (and I think Keith's salve-the-conscience argument is more persuasive than WH's and Stephen's rosier arguments.)

      All in all, the Israeli publisher was quite respectful in this exchange, though I doubt that Abulhawa would agree with: "Our greatest joy would be to live to see the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel." If there were a viable exception to BDS, I would think a truly anti-Zionist Israeli publisher would be far preferable to a liberal Zionist one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Thanks, just

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Laugh of the day! Thanks Norman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Rooting for Netanyahu - who would have guessed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Revenge devoid of purpose: Punitive demolitions of Palestinian homes
    • Not only did the younger confessed murderers of Muhammad Abu Khdeir not have their houses demolished, they apparently were RELEASED pending determination of the charges against them, according to this shocking article (which I have not seen corroborated) -
      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.”

      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?

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