Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 348 (since 2009-09-27 00:46:02)

David Green

David Green, 65, lives in Champaign, Illinois, and is of Jewish background. Since 1998 he has been involved in the Palestinian justice movement on campus and in the community. He has published articles relevant to this movement on Mondoweiss, Counterpunch, ZNet, Electronic Intifada, and Palestine Chronicle websites.

Showing comments 348 - 301

  • Coulter's point is that Republicans pander on Israel to win donors, not voters
    • "The issue here is that the power of the Israel lobby derives from conservative Jewish wealth. "

      That's nonsense, Phil. The power of the Lobby has always derived just as much from "liberal wealth."

  • Danny Danon 'would only make Israel look more extreme' -- former Israeli ambassador
    • That's just silly. Oren is every bit as much of an extremist as Danon, and all the more pernicious for being able to sell himself as a moderate. What on earth are you thinking? Extremism is the entire point of Israel's government; as well as of our own.

  • Joining up (Tzedek Chicago, and a Judaism beyond nationalism)
    • Brant Rosen has spoken a couple of times down here in Champaign where I live. He sets a high standard both intellectually and morally, and matches it with a calm demeanor which is of enormous value in this difficult work. He has great political instincts, and we should trust those, as well as our own--to each his or her own in this ongoing struggle.

  • 'NYT' article on UN's Gaza report strains to demonstrate equivalence in suffering
    • I agree of course that this was an effort at faking balance. But it's also telling that they picked those 2 photos, which clearly undermine that effort, consciously or unconsciously, except for the most hardened supporters of Israel.

  • Mainstream media covers website attacking pro-Palestine activists but downplays threat to free speech
    • link to

      The narrator and some of the visuals replicate that of "The Jewish Voices" about which I wrote at the above link. The name associated with this on Youtube is Aaron Goldenberg. The female narrator is the same. The Horowitz clip is the same. So if this has anything at all to do with the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, these people should be in hot water on campuses around the country for intimidation of fellow students. Haters always claim they are the hated; nothing new.

  • Campus movement against Israel is largest since anti-Vietnam war movement, Cary Nelson says
    • In regard to Cary Nelson, let me say this. I have lived in Champaign for 16 years, and in fact I lived across the street from Cary for 2 years. I got to know him only a little, and now I understand why. I accepted his leftist credentials at face value. I should not have. In any event, everything about my 16 year experience on campus and in the community as a Jewish pro-Palestinian activist contradicts the assertions he made at this event. Jewish Studies, and an Israel Studies Project within Jewish Studies has dominated the discourse. A Schusterman fellow has taught the course on Israeli history for years. On the other hand, JS/ISP has in recent years avoided provocative and/or informative discussions, emphasizing more narrow scholarly interests. That's because there are a few individuals like Michael Rothberg who know enough to be embarrassed by Israel's behavior. Pro-Israel speakers beyond Hillel have dwindled to nothing. They have even dwindled at Hillel in comparison to 10 years ago. The SJP goes about its business with a few speakers every year. The wall on the Quad was largely administratively suppressed, but in any event (of course) intimidated or threatened nobody. I've known three or four "generations" of SJP students, and they've always been decent and personable, and much less angry than me. For Nelson to say that he can't have an anti-BDS talk on campus without being heckled or worse is just nonsense. He hasn't tried, to my knowledge, and there simply is no penchant in my experience of this campus at dozens of events for pro-Palestinian students or community members to be rude or disruptive. I can honestly say that I myself was rude on two occasions in a minor way (2005, 2008), and that constitutes 100% of the rudeness at pro-Israel events, period, although my rudeness actually included factual argument. The manner in which Nelson parades himself as a victim is just beyond belief, and well beyond any evidence. He has become one sick, paranoid, self-pitying puppy. BTW, I have a copy of the chapter in his book called "The History of Israel." It was co-written with Rachel Harris, a literature professor on campus, and likely mostly written by Kenneth Stein of Emory. It is simply propagandistic garbage, from start to finish; what 3rd grade Israeli students read is probably more fair. Even the brief bibliography shows that Nelson doesn't take seriously the historical scholarship--it includes none of the revisionist figures. Ultimately, it's ignorance and lack of self-reflection that is the problem. Dalit Baum is exactly right in the second video above. And look at the expression on Nelson's face, in the midst of somebody who is genuinely being heckled. Unbelievable.

  • Dissecting 'The Jewish Voices on Campus': a predictable but necessary endeavor
    • If this propaganda effort reflects what is called anti-Semitism, then it's pretty clear that anything that can be fairly called anti-Semitism no longer expresses itself in any concrete and substantial way on college campuses. Given the last 40 years of political/cultural history in this country, that's not the least bit surprising.

    • Kathleen, the Arizona incident has a back story, but I don't really care. What I care to argue is that none of these alleged incidents passes the laugh test in terms of anti-Semitic intent of students/faculty on campus; on this basis, none of them passes the laugh test in terms of Jewish students "targeted" by supporters of BDS. There are multiple levels of absurdity involved here.

    • Thanks for substantiating my doubts.

  • Israel and Palestine is not about Jews vs. Palestinians
  • Israel's Dead Soul: Steven Salaita's critical scholarship explains his dismissal from the University of Illinois
    • Necessary but not sufficient.

    • He engages these topics. The struggle proceeds on multiple levels, politically and intellectually. The fact that Salaita can have no place at the U of I says a lot about the nature of that struggle in this venue. His book provides the background to understand that.

    • Yes, it's a typo from my transcription.

    • His "impolitic tweets" wouldn't have mattered in almost any other context. Of course they were exploited. At the root of his exclusion are his serious political views. The fact that his critics ignore them says a lot about the political culture on campus and in this state that persecutes him.

    • I don't find his language to be tortured. For someone who reads a lot about the ME, I find his insights incisive, especially in relation to the exploitation of multiculturalism. Understanding his critiques takes a little work, but I think it's worth it. I wouldn't lump him in with the obfuscatory aspects of lit crit.

    • Thanks for taking the time to do this.

    • I'm not enamored of academic jargon, but Salaita uses the words he does to express ideas that reflect cultural realities, and I don't have a problem with his style.

  • The real issues in the Salaita case: Palestine, neoliberalism, and the corporate university
    • I feel that the protection that Israel gets from the Congress has more to do with the Lobby, but the protection that it gets in the UN has just as much if not more to do with U.S. geopolitical interests as a strategic ally in the ME. I generally agree with Chomsky/Finkelstein in this matter, FWIW.

  • Rabbi Brant Rosen steps down from Jewish Reconstructionist Synagogue saying his activism on Israel/Palestine has been 'lightning rod for division'
    • Rabbi Rosen spoke here in Urbana last Spring. I'm astonished by his knowledge, rationality, calmness, and dignity. In fact, in some ways I'm jealous of it. He sets an example that I haven't always been able to follow. Did I forget to say "courage."?

  • As Salaita's case becomes a cause, U of Illinois issues declarations on 'civility'
  • Reading Salaita in Illinois—by Way of Cary Nelson (part 1)
    • Actually, at the May 13 AAUP meeting at U of I discussing ASA/BDS, Nelson expressed the hope that the settlers would return inside the green line. Not sure if that could be construed as "gone missing."

  • The academic/political context of the Salaita affair
    • Hi Keith,

      It helps to get some experience and get one's name and views out there.
      If I do it again, it will be as a Green. But that will require 15,000 signatures, rather than 700.


    • Thanks for the reminder. This operates at so many levels. Here's this morning's article from the News-Gazette:

      link to

    • No visiting scholars in the Israel Studies Project have ever engaged the broader scholarly or local community in open discussions about the fundamental issues presented by I/P. The Program for Jewish Culture and Society has never promoted open dialogue about I/P, the Israel Lobby, etc.

      Seidelman is still here, so far as I can tell; she was at the AAUP panel in May. She has never proposed a broad discussion during her tenure here. She certainly has taught courses on "the conflict" from the perspectives mentioned above. She is most certainly "undistinguished," which I have no problem with--she just doesn't merit teaching I/P on this campus.

      There might have been one or two exceptions to the lockdown in terms of those invited under scholarly auspices over the past 16 years--Joel Beinin in 2000 comes to mind, and perhaps one or two others; Rashid Khalidi was here a couple of years ago. But Beinin was here to talk about Egyptian Jews. There have, of course, been many speakers invited by SJP or local peace groups.

      Kashua fits the pattern just fine; he won't ruffle any feathers.

      Wise calls for campus dialogue about a lot of things, especially "diversity." But she opposed ASA/BDS without input or discussion.

      I'll stick to "lockdown." After 16 years in this community, that's pretty much what it feels like.


    • Here is a link to most recent "coverage" of this issue in the local press, just to give you a taste of the usual tone in these affairs:
      link to

    • Point taken--DG

  • Bored with the Jews
    • Agreed. For example, here is a piece I published in my local paper this morning:

      The history of the Korean War is distorted and exploited for political ends
      David Green
      Recent commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War have evoked standard rhetoric and rationalizations regarding the righteousness of the United States’ role in that conflict. From President Obama to columnist Max Boot to a local veteran writing on these pages, the slaughter that the war entailed—at least 2 million soldiers and civilians dead—is retroactively and perversely justified by South Korea’s subsequent economic development and North Korea’s ongoing misery, respectively equated with what is called freedom or lack thereof.
      This hindsight is contrived and morally specious; as a tool of political propaganda by Obama, it is one of many examples of cynical exploitation of militaristic sentimentality by our current Aggressor in Chief. The historical narrative that is determined by Obama’s political opportunism is empty of serious content and critique, as one would expect by this master of fraudulent, manipulative, and hollow rhetoric.
      Historian Gabriel Kolko perceptively wrote in Main Currents in American History (1976):
      The Korean War was essentially the internationalization of a civil conflict that had begun in 1945 immediately after Korea’s liberation from Japan and the artificial partition, which the United States imposed in August 1945. The totalitarian regime (beginning under Syngman Rhee in 1945 and ending not until 1987) that the U.S. funds left the nation in constant turmoil, with guerilla warfare within the south itself and increasingly large scale combat between the two sections along the 38th parallel in the year before the north autonomously made the decision to reunify the nation in June 1950. Divorced from the preceding five years of history, theories on the origins of the Korean War become a part of the Cold War’s mythology.
      Part of what Kolko refers to is Rhee’s recruitment of those South Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese (who were notorious for recruiting thousands of Korean women into sexual slavery) during the occupation (1910-45), and the subsequent murder by Rhee’s forces of up to 100,000 leftist and nationalist South Korean dissidents from 1945-48—with the help of their American sponsors.
      This American support for formerly collaborationist and authoritarian elements was parallel to support for collaborationist and fascist forces in Greece and Italy against former WWII resistance and leftist fighters during that same period, always fraudulently justified by the Soviet threat. This strategy also foreshadowed American support for the ruthless authoritarian puppet Diem in South Vietnam against his own indigenous revolt, leading to a genocidal American war (1962-75) that is increasingly distorted and rationalized by politicians, including Obama, as living memories fade and opportunism knocks.
      The Korean War was a result of the imperial strategies of the U.S. and Soviet Union, as well the Chinese revolution. Nevertheless, President Truman had the options of either actively promoting a unification agreement or leaving Korea to its own civil war, which would not likely have been joined by either the Soviet Union or China. Instead he chose American aggression—aggravating the subsequent loss of life, destroying the entire country, essentially leveling every structure in North Korea, committing war crimes by bombing dams in North Korea when there was nothing else left to destroy, and risking nuclear war.
      It is to Truman’s credit that he resisted Douglas MacArthur’s lunatic proposal to use nuclear weapons against China and fired the megalomaniac general. However, it is to his discredit that his decision to use anti-communism to justify American militarism and imperialism set in motion foreign policies that have come to deadly and destructive global fruition for six decades. As communist enemies have been conveniently and disingenuously replaced by Muslims, the Orwellian basis of American militarism has been revealed as part and parcel of the aggressive ambitions of American global capitalism and multinational corporations—all, not incidentally, to the detriment of American workers and our own freedom and democracy, as can be plainly seen now more than ever.
      The Truman administration had momentous decisions to make in this period from 1945 to 1953. American workers, accustomed to full employment and labor activism during WWII, demanded a welfare state; unions were empowered to aggressively support such ambitions, and strikes were frequent. These ambitions were consciously subverted by massive government spending justified by military rather than social goals, now known as “military Keynesianism.” Corporate propaganda dominated the media and education in the 1950s. An extraordinary and ongoing climate of fear was created and persists among the population of a country that has no natural enemies and hasn’t been invaded in 200 years. Moreover, a massive military-industrial complex that remains unaccountable to the American people was perpetuated.
      The global and neoliberal legacy of the Truman era has elevated the South Korean working class while decimating the American working class. But since our own Civil War, the American working class has always been the primary threat to and enemy of American elites, who are at heart vulgar Marxists. As long as American workers continue to fight wars for global corporate capitalists, they will continue to lose in their own struggle for freedom and prosperity.

  • 'Nation' says rightwingers paint FDR as anti-Semite so as to manipulate US support of Israel
  • Exile and the Prophetic: Crossing the - Israel - and Palestine - Rubicon
    • Blacks and women, at the diplomatic level, have become the global face of American hegemony in the neoliberal era, beginning with Albright. "Human rights" is their cover story, and there rationale for both "hard" and "soft" power.

  • Rashid Khalidi on the Israel lobby
    • Wow, Shingo, Obama and Hagel have been "humiliated." I'm so furious that our very own warmongering and child-killing thugs have to put up with such treatment. How do you think they can even stand to look in he mirror?

      Do they act humiliated? Do you think they feel like the prisoners at Abu Gharib? Do you think they give a crap about your emotional projections on to their states of mind?

      I mean, what a load of subjective tripe. The "humiliation" is completely in your ideological imagination.

      And of course, it's simply a fact that the Lobby got rid of Bush in 92. I mean, how does somebody with any empirical integrity even begin to think that? Nothing to do with the economy, Ross Perot, or about a million other factors that can't possibly allow you to make such a ridiculous argument with such arrogant and complacent certainty. Liberal Jewish Zionists have always preferred a Democrat. So what else is new?

      As usual, the Lobby debate brings out the "higher racism" (yes, anti-semitism) of the MW faithful. I mean, Khalidi is the most solid historian in this field. But at least I'm sure he could care less about being "humiliated" by the likes of you and your fellow travelling Lobby ideologues.

  • Israel boosters threaten civil rights claim against Brooklyn College and suggest barring student activists from campus
  • The Fog of Occupation: An interview with Dror Moreh, director of 'The Gatekeepers'
    • There's one in every family.
      link to

    • Moreh's interview on Democracy Now this morning with Amy Goodman & Aaron Mate reveals the limits of his compassion for the Palestinians. Like so many Israelis, he has a superiority complex. This also limits the pragmatic possibilities for a just peace. Palestinians always have to be accorded equal guilt; Israelis are never really ultimately responsible for their behavior, except in their "own interests." Interesting film, I guess, but pretty disappointing at a political level.

  • Since when is the left embracing Chuck Hagel, a nationalist, establishment figure?
    • "first off, a pt i’ve made already, (david green declined my invitation to back up max’s claim ..."

      Annie, I'll look forward to your extended deliniation of the differences between "realist" and "neocon" policies in the post-Vietnam Era. Clinton/Ross presided over the expansion of Israeli occupation post Oslo. Obama has presided over Gaza 2012, after refusing to comment on Cast Lead after his election in 2008. Meanwhile, drones, Libya, Africom, etc. "Realist" HW invaded Iraq in 1991. Clinton continued sanctions. I don't see that the ideological distinction means much in practice, whether regarding I/P or more generally. I'm not sure if that addresses your challenge, but your own rhetorical tactics seem rather convoluted.

    • In short, the difference is in tactics and not strategy. The strategy is domination and control.

    • From a critical leftist perspective that is genuinely anti-imperialist, the difference is minimal. Kudos to Davis and Ajl.

  • Tom Friedman's endorsement of Hagel as the DefSec Israel needs is wakeup call to Bill Kristol on Boxing Day
    • if you oppose the mic and war, then you don't give a crap about hagel but i guess you and shingo etc. have a high regard for u s imperialism

    • Then why do you care whether Hagel or some other tool is SoD?

    • You sound like someone who supports militarism so long as it is allgedly to the benefit of people who are not Zionists.

    • Friedman's column is predictably full of asinine assertions about Israel's "enemies." Yet we are supposed to see him as somehow not in lockstep with USFP and empire, including Israel's occupation. Friedman's column reveals once again the absurdity of this promotion of Hagel. Hagel isn't lipstick on a pig. He's the pig.

  • Chuck Hagel gets reinforcement from gay rights advocates, but White House is wobbling
    • From Max Ajl:

      From a dependable obesevor:

      link to

      That the lobby does not want Hagel is clear, and his nomination would be a defeat for the lobby’s right wing.

      Still, it is barely a scandal, except in the sense that it is scandalous how narrow the parameters of debate are in this country such that leftists think that an aggressive nationalist like Hagel merits their defense.

      There are a few reasons for that.

      First, Hagel’s policy prescriptions for dealing with Iran are, in fact, American policy. US policymakers have been huffing and puffing about a US attack on Iran for over a decade – without producing that attack. They are not the only ones. While the Israeli political class itinerantly threatens Iran, its defense intelligentsia warns against it. So does the Pentagon and the US State Department. At the military level, there is no direct war on Iran, and the absence of a military attack against Iran is not a policy secured by the dominance of responsible and beleaguered technocrats fending off the neocons’ pressure.

      It is simply the consensual policy amongst most of the Washington elite.

    • Critique of Hagel-mania from Charles Davis:

      False Dichotomy by charles davis

      A defense secretary of their own
      December 22, 2012 5:11 PM

      How bad has it gotten for the US antiwar movement? After the president its most prominent leaders supported in 2008 took George W. Bush's war on terror and institutionalized it, they have been at a strategic loss, unable to kick their dogmatic, electoral-minded tactics to the point that they are now engaged in an awkward campaign to get a conservative Republican appointed to administer Barack Obama's wars. Indeed, after getting a commander-in- chief of its own, the down-and-out antiwar movement is now angling to get its own defense secretary.

      The logic behind the leftists for Chuck Hagel campaign -- sometimes unstated -- is not so much that he's a great guy, but that the people attacking him are even worse. And to be fair, they're right. Most of the people blasting the former Nebraska senator hail from the belligerent far right, primarily employed by neoconservative media outlets like the Weekly Standard and Washington Post. Their critique is that Hagel is no friend of the Jewish state, and perhaps even anti-Semitic, because he once made comments critical of its influential lobby in DC and opposed Israel's 2006 war on Lebanon (an undeniably good thing). He's also talked about giving diplomacy a shot with Iran, when the proper line is supposed to be "nah, fuck those guys."

      Hagel has also come under fire from military lobbyists for his stated desire to cut bloat at the Pentagon, though it's worth remembering that Bush/Obama secretary of defense Robert Gates pledged the same thing while burning through the biggest military budgets in world history. In other words, the usual sky-is-falling crowd is making much ado about nothing with respect to a guy who, outside of a few maverick-y speeches over the years, adheres to the Washington consensus as much as the next old white guy. Their goal? Maybe a nice little war with a third-rate power and a bit larger share of the GDP. But like executives at Goldman Sachs, they know they're going to be pretty much fine no matter who is in office.

      It would be one thing to simply point this out; that yes, some of the charges against Hagel can politely be called “silly. ” One can disagree about the wisdom of Israeli wars, for instance, without being a raging anti-Semite, and indeed much of the Israeli establishment would privately concede their 2006 war was a bust. And with politicians talking of slashing Social Security, you damned well better believe it's not a gaffe to say maybe we ought to take a quick look at where half the average American's income tax goes: the military. Such a defense might have some value.

      Unfortunately, that's not what the pro-Hagel campaign is doing. Instead, they're billing the fight over Hagel's nomination as a defining battle of Obama's second term. If Hagel wins, the argument goes, AIPAC loses, opening up the foreign policy debate in Washington and increasing the possibility of peace in our time. If his nomination goes down, however, that reinforces the idea that the hawkish foreign policy consensus in Washington shall not be challenged and that even the mildest criticisms of Israel cannot be tolerated. Some even suggest that who administers the Defense Department could decide if there's a war with Iran or not, perhaps forgetting the chain of command.

      Indeed, most of Hagel's defenders aren't defending his occasionally heterodox views on Israel and unilateral sanctions (he's cool with the multilateral, 500,000-dead- children- in-Iraq kind), but rather trumpeting his commitment to orthodoxy. The Center for American Progress, for instance, has released a dossier detailing “Chuck Hagel's Pro-Israel Record, ” noting his oft-stated verbal and legislative commitment to the “special relationship. ” Some of his former staffers have also issued a fact sheet showing that all of Hagel's alleged heretical views are well within the hawkish mainstream.

      Further left on the spectrum, it's not much different. The Washington-based group Just Foreign Policy, for instance, has revived Democratic rhetoric from 2004 to pitch the fight over the potential Hagel nomination in black and white terms of good and evil.

      “The Obama-hating Neocon Right is trying to 'Swift Boat' the expected nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense, ” the group states in a recent email blast to supporters. Neoconservatives have been “making up a fantasy scare story that Hagel . .. is 'anti-Israel, ' ” it continues, helpfully informing us that the Hagel the neocons make out to be such a reasonable guy is indeed a fantasy. Finally, it ends with an appeal: “We cannot stand idly by as the neocons stage a coup of our foreign policy, ” followed by a petition supporting Hagel's nomination hosted by sure to defeat any military coup.

      In a blog, the group's policy director, Robert Naiman, likewise pitches the battle over Hagel's nomination in terms of Obama vs. The Warmongers. “Hagel represents the foreign policy that the majority of Americans voted for in 2008 and 2012: less war, more diplomacy, ” he writes, pointing to past statements he's made about the wisdom of a war with Iran.

      Of course, the unfortunate truth is that American's didn't vote for “less war, more diplomacy, ” as comforting as that thought may be, because they haven't had the chance. In this past election, Obama often ran to the right of Mitt Romney, his campaign frequently suggesting the latter would not have had the guts to kill Osama bin Laden. The DNC ridiculed Romney for suggesting he'd consider the war's legality before bombing Iran. “Romney Said He Would Talk To His Lawyers Before Deciding Whether To Use Military Force, ” read the press release, as if that's a bad thing. Obama, bomber of a half-dozen countries, never forgot to mention the “crippling” sanctions he's imposed.

      And J Street, the group that just co-sponsored a rally with AIPAC backing the Israeli state's latest killing spree? Ask a resident of Gaza how “pro-peace” it is.

      But, in order to create a sign-this-petition! narrative, one often can't do nuance. So Naiman doesn't. In another post, this one highlighting Hagel's establishment support, because antiwar activists care about that sort of thing, he casually refers to former ambassador Ryan Crocker as among the “diplomacy champions and war skeptics” backing the former senator. This would be the same Ryan Crocker appointed by George W. Buish who has said “it's simply not the case that Afghans would rather have US forces gone, ” and dismissed the killing of at least 25 people in Afghanistan, including children, as “not a very big deal. ”

      That should give you a good idea of the obfuscation going on in the antiwar campaign for a Pentagon chief. This is a problem. If you're going to play the role of the savvy Washington activist and get involved in the inside baseball that is fights over cabinet appointments, ostensibly to reframe the debate more than anything – we must defeat AIPAC! – you ought not go about reinforcing adherence to orthodoxy and the perceived value of establishment support and credentials. And you ought not cast as heroes of the peace movement people that really shouldn't be. That's actually really dangerous.

      Yet, some would rather play down Hagel's pro-war credentials for the all-important narrative. So we cast him as a staunch opponent of a war with Iran, ignoring his repeated assertions that we must “keep all options on the table” with respect to the Islamic Republic, including killing men, women and children. In a piece he coauthored with other establishment foreign policy figures, Hagel's opposition to war amounted merely to a call to consider its costs – and its benefits.

      For instance, “a U. S. attack would demonstrate the country’s credibility as an ally to other nations in the region and would derail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for several years, providing space for other, potentially longer-term solutions, ” the senator and his friends wrote. “An attack would also make clear the United States’ full commitment to nonproliferation as other nations contemplate moves in that direction. ” Ah, but he mentioned there could be “costs” (though none of those he mentioned were “dead people”). Such is brave, antiwar opposition in Washington.

      But that's the cynical game played in DC by some of the would-be movers-and-shakers on the outskirts of the policy conversation: cynically play down a politician's faults to please funders, other politicians and one's own sense of savvy self-satisfaction. It's how the antiwar movement ended up dissolving and largely getting behind a president who more than doubled the number of troops in Afghanistan. People were presented a rosy image of a candidate who was on their side and they concluded their work was done upon his election. The same thing threatens to be the case with Chuck Hagel. Indeed, as The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg notes, “who better to sell the president's militant Iran position than someone who comes from the realist camp? ”

      When I privately raised some of these concerns with Naiman, he got snooty quick, just as he did with other writers who questioned whether the quest to “defeat AIPAC” should be conducted by stressing why AIPAC should love the guy. To me, Naiman wrote that if I had concerns about the antiwar movement taking ownership of a defense secretary, “There are plenty of organizations that pursue an ultra-left, ideological purist line. Why don't you give them your support and be happy? ”

      We live in an an age where ideological purity is defined as being uncomfortable with an antiwar organization throwing unequivocal support behind a conservative Republican to head the Pentagon. It's an amazing world.

      Rather than engage in the reactionary politics of supporting what one perceives to be the least-evil administrator of war, those on the antiwar left and right ought to be truth tellers. Let's not sugar coat this: The problem isn't just AIPAC and the neocons, but the Center for American Progress and the neoliberals. Dumbing down the reality only serves to bolster one faction of the war party. And it kills antiwar movements.

  • Liberal Zionists and neocons battle over Chuck Hagel
    • "“It is simply beyond disturbing to think that somebody of Chuck Hagel’s stature and significant record of national service is being slandered in this way,” Mr. Ben-Ami said."

      "National service" is one way to describe support for empire and of the oppression and murder that that entails. Yes, Hagel's "service" is much appreciated by JStreet, Zionist lite. But it also seems to be appreciated by many at MW, anti-imperialism fake.

  • Hagel called for all-but normalizing relations with Iran so as to engage it as an ally on Israel-Palestine issue
    • "Even on the radical left I see little understanding of how the system actually functions."

      But that takes a lot of work, and a willingness not to personify the system with the views of individuals, especially politicians (like Hagel).

    • link to

      This little address will gag you with a spoon. Enjoy oldies but goodies like:


      The talk about Hagel is Obama playing his "base" for suckers. Not a hard thing to do, if MW is any evidence.

      Hagel has a few decent ideas. They will come to nothing as Defense Secretary. The war with Iran has a foundation in USFP that will not be shaken.

      The same for Israel, of course. When push comes to shove, Hagel doesn't give squat for the Palestinians.

  • In 'Dissent' debate, Walzer hints that leftists who focus on Israel are anti-Semitic
    • Rule: "It is hard to imagine that any of these policies could win the support of American liberals if they occurred elsewhere the world."

      I don't know what world Rule is referring to. Liberals have continuously supported such policies all over the world for quite some time. Where was liberal criticism, for example, regarding East Timor for about 25 years?

      It's appalling that anyone can retain such fantasized image of liberalism in this country. Both Clinton and Obama should have cured us of that. But then again, Nicholas Kristof sees Madeleine Albright as a paragon of human rights.

      Walzer has been an ass for quite some time. But Rule is a pretty sorry excuse for someone to debate him. But after all, it is Walzer's journal.

  • The war over Hagel is on
    • Your devotion to U.S. "national security" reveals an uncritical attitude toward the rampant militarism which characterizes our foreign and domestic policies. Shame on you.

    • Page: 3
    • Why do you assume that Obama's strategy is anything other than to continue to support everything Israel does, and to hire people to carry out the charade that he supports some sort of just settlement? Do you really think that Obama is to the left of the Lobby?

    • "JStreeter."

      Great epithet. A real zinger. Thanks for putting so much thought into it.

    • If Hagel manages to get the job, it's because he'll shape up and get with the program. There is absolutely no reason to believe that he will do anything to rock the boat. One person can never make a difference. Only a wholesale movement against the USFP establishment can. That hasn't happened since Vietnam. It won't happen as the result of a "realist" fantasy, even if that's the prevailing wisdom on MW.

    • So what made anyone think that Obama would make a difference? Always some snake oil on the horizon.

    • I just have to say that this is an utterly ridiculous comment. With Hagel in this post, USFP will go on its violent and merry way, as always. You live in an absolute fantasy world, and that's really too bad. And by the way, he will not "stand up" to Israel; no way. It's just nonsense, and a complete distraction.

    • For crying out loud, who do these people think Hagel is?

      I saw him on C-Span last night speaking at a ridiculous Senate foreign policy committee self-praise fest, with Lugar, Kerry, the whole gang. What a bloviator and a bore.

      Why on earth does anyone think that he would be doing anything other than the Empire's business?

  • 'New York Times' fails dismally again, this time in Congo
    • Thank you for the great summary article in the Nation. I only disagree with your use of the world "failure" for USFP; these are seen as successes by those who matter, including Obama and Susan Rice.

  • Gazans are 'ho-hum' about the deaths of relatives -- NYT's Rudoren
    • Jodi's pathetic response:

      "A blogger just posted this incredibly unfair analysis of my Facebook posts, taking everything out of context to support his agenda. Luckily, he included fat excerpts of my posts, so people will be able to see how it was twisted; his analysis just does not stand up to scrutiny. There are many, many depressing things about this conflict, of course, deep-seeded depressing things about two peoples profound distrust and misunderstandings of each other. But a perhaps less important one that I find equally depressing is the way upper-class international intellectuals so blatantly and purposely distort in order to inflame. Sometimes, it really seems like no one in the world actually wants to solve it."

  • As the discourse shifts, 'NYT' stays rooted in the past (the 1800s to be exact)
  • 'Haaretz' undermines a foundational myth: FDR abandoned Europe's Jews
    • Guilty as charged.

    • OK, thanks. I'd like to hear you address the complex historical/ideological issues raised by your piece and suggested in various comments. I've thought for some time that assumptions have been a bit casual in this regard, including by the late Peter Novick:

      link to

      "If Novick understands that beneath the cult of Holocaust memory are essential political divisions in Jewish-American and American life, he nonetheless misconstrues these conflicts, undermining both his scholarly efforts and his claim to intellectual insight that matches his penchant for iconoclasm.

      Thus Novick mistakenly thinks he is challenging conventional wisdom by debunking those who, following the meticulous research of historian David Wyman, believe correctly that the Roosevelt administration failed miserably in its treatment of Jewish refugees before and during the war. He is apparently unaware that it has become the political fashion, even among the Jewish intelligentsia, to rationalize and minimize American guilt--as does Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., so as defend FDR’s protective liberal image among Jews; and as does Novick himself."

      Beyond that, I think that Lenni Brenner's various critiques of the relationship between Zionists and Nazis have brought out the role of Jabotinskyists in this country (Silver, Kook). In some way they have to be given their due for genuinely working to save Jewish lives. There's no reason that their horrible politics should prevent acknowledgement of that. Instead, we need to reckon with the moral complexity engendered by European anti-semitism and various responses to it.

    • By the way, I find it curious that Desch can write a long article in 2006 on the misuse of the Holocaust and not refer to Finkelstein's book (2000) on the Holocaust Industry. I can't imagine that this was not a conscious decision on his part. I'd be curious to know the rationale.

    • William D. Rubinstein, author of "The Myth of Rescue," is hardly a critic of Israel, as evidenced by his review of Norman Finkelstein's "The Holocaust Industry."

      link to


      The State of Israel has, indeed, been almost punctilious in not exploiting the Holocaust for political ends. While one might expect Israel to be dotted with Holocaust monuments on every street corner, in the whole of the country there is precisely one memorial to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem, on the hills outside Jerusalem. A place of dignity, it is probably best known for its avenue of trees planted, not in memory of murdered Jews, but to commemorate “Righteous Gentiles” who risked their lives to save Jews. Apart from Eichmann (and the ill–fated, highly unfortunate Demjanjuk trial of the 1980s), Israel has shown virtually no interest whatever in apprehending former Nazi war criminals, and, indeed, it is a legitimate charge that one might make against Israel that it has not tracked them down more rigorously.

      It must also be stressed that the current centrality of the Holocaust flows from the power of that event to affect virtually everyone today: it is recognized by nearly everybody as an unspeakable horror that requires no “Holocaust industry” to impress on our consciousness. Finkelstein never acknowledges this basic truth. Indeed, the problem with the Holocaust as a memory and a metaphor today is precisely that it is too powerful, an ever–expanding black hole of consciousness that invariably swallows up everything in its path. To millions, it is perhaps the only real contemporary religious event; for hundreds of thousands of Jews, it has served to define their Jewish identity, taking the place of everything else. It is at the heart of many contemporary forms of political correctness, and of many remaining academic and intellectual taboos. Its automatic moral authority is such that it allows charlatans and hucksters to flourish unchallenged. The great importance of Finkelstein’s work, flawed though it is, lies in breaking those taboos and exposing the charlatans.

    • Revised comment:

      So Bauer all of the sudden doesn't have his own agenda?

      I’m not sure whether the myth of abandonment has been that useful in recent years in service of the Zionist cause; I sensed at one point that it seemed easier for supporters of the “special relationship” to set aside and downplay such historical critiques. I think some of the criticisms of David Wyman were in this ideological vein, as well as the positive reception of William Rubinstein’s previous challenge to the so-called myth--his argument had its own serious problems.

      This is interesting stuff, but may be more complicated at closer reading. Ultimately, I think the momentum of Zionist ideological tactics has been not to push too seriously on this issue, especially in comparison to punishing every alleged ex-Nazi who found refuge in this country. The much vaunted Israel Lobby doesn't really like to talk much about "rescue", do they?

      Bauer has his own ideological agenda, as do so many Holocaust scholars. It might be useful to ask what it is in this case; I suspect that he’s simply joining the consensus that Zionists don’t benefit from turning over that particular historical rock. It offends too many powerful Americans, including Zionists themselves, who are not stupid when it comes to their own narrow interests--Dershowitz, for example.

    • I'm not sure whether the myth of abandonment has been that useful in recent years in service of the Zionist cause; I sensed at one point that it seemed easier for supporters of the "special relationship" to set aside and downplay such historical critiques. I think some of the criticisms of David Wyman were in this vein, as well as the reception of William Rubinstein's previous challenge to the so-called myth, although his argument had its own problems. This is interesting stuff, but may be more complicated at closer reading. Ultimately, I think the momentum of Zionist ideological tactics has been not to push to seriously on this issue, especially in comparison to punishing every alleged ex-Nazi who found refuge in this country.

      Bauer has his own ideological agenda, as do so many Holocaust scholars. It might be useful to ask what it is in this case; I'm not sure that he's simply joining the consensus that Zionists don't benefit from turning over that particular historical rock.

  • Wasserman Schultz brags on Obama's continuity with Bush policies in ME
    • In regard to Syria or Israel, what difference could this election possibly make? There is no significant difference regarding USFP in any arena between the major candidates.

  • 'NYT' op-ed equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism relied on Nasrallah quote that is in all likelihood a fabrication
    • Shindler's article, even aside from the Nasrallah issue, relies completely on stereotypical assertions about Muslims, the Left, etc. that are unsupported by facts or a serious narrative. It simply depends on certain visceral responses among those who still are inclined to equate criticism of Israel with anti-semitism. It also ignores the genuine nature of neo-fascism in Europe, as discussed today by Raimondo, which can in fact be equated with Jewish Israeli politics.

      link to

      I appreciate the research, but Shindler's lack of seriousness is evident regardless of Nasrallah's alleged statement.

  • US professors organization solicits articles with argument for endorsing BDS campaign
    • With all due to respect to the ambitions of the author, the professoriate is on the whole devoid of political consciousness in any meaningful sense of the words. They excel in self-gratification.

  • 'Jewish political community' supported Iraq war, but now divides between neocon funders and liberals -- Alterman
    • "My non-hyped assessment is that the key segments of American ruling class were pro-war but in an ambivalent degree"

      Speaking of semantics, it's amazing the lengths that you will go to to try absolve--although unconvincingly--the ruling class from responsibility. Again, Finkelstein's chapter convincingly refutes the notion that the neocons were ultimately responsible for going to war.

    • Alterman's changes re Israel are a form of liberal pragmatism. He would like to reinforce the view, mistaken in my view, that Obama is "better" on Israel/Palestine than Romney, neocons, etc. He hopes that might be reinforced if more people recognized that liberal Jews are not the Israel Lobby. That may be true, but unfortunately, Beinart etc. aside, liberal Jews are still largely passive regarding I/P. And the Israel Lobby is, in more crass terms "Jewish money." Both parties need it. In any event, neither the IL or "Jewish money" determines USFP. It's "U.S. money" that does that. Whether or not Obama gets re-elected, and whether or not it's perceived that he did so in spite of "Jewish money," he will continue to play the role of "dishonest broker."

    • You're an apologist for the Saudi royal family, and U.S. alliance with them. That's shameful. They are a part of the general USFP problem, of which Israel-Palestine is another important part.

    • "There was no other lobby to interfere with those sane decisions eventually taken by US in 1975 over vietnam, 1990 over S Africa and similar distancing in cases of Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, or Hinduras or even Venezuela. US could have learnt the same lessons and could have applied the same knowledege to engage to Iraq, Yemen,Somalia, Iran ,Saudi Arabia, but could n’t dare for the presence of organizations AIPAC/JINSA/ADL and for the presence of their card holders in the administration and in the media. US still would be fighting China if Taiwan lobby were that effective and dangerous."

      In all honesty, this shows that your alleged understanding of the history of USFP is based on fantasy. You don't understand the most primary fact: that USFP in the ME has been built--for 80 years--around engaging Saudi Arabia.

      You completely discredit the "Israel Lobby explains everything" crowd, which hardly needed to be done anyway.

    • "An Obama win is “very dangerous for Israel”"

      An Obama or Romeny win is a win for the 1%, including the 1% in Israel. The specific policy toward Israel won't be much different as a result.

    • Is this the first you've heard about endemic American paranoia regarding foreign policy? I guess you haven't heard about the Cold War, for starters.

    • Train, it takes a lot more than Jews on board to get this thing going. And it continues to go under Obama as well as Bush, even in the absence of lurid neocons. Not too hard to figure out why that is. Obama's on board, from the get go. That's how he got where he is.

    • Sorry. The Iraq war was fought and supported by Americans like you and me, from all backgrounds. It's completely irresponsible and cowardly for you to blame it on Jews, Israel, etc. It's much more deep-seated than that, in our own political culture and history. And your arrogance doesn't help any.

    • Since 2/3 of the American people supported the war, perhaps they were all doing it for Israel. Maybe there's more Jews out there than anyone can imagine.

    • "It is beyond dispute that Jewish neoconservatives pushed long and hard for an attack on Iraq and alterman said the same neocon armchair warriors who championed the invasion of Iraq"

      I was pointing out that NF clearly makes a distinction between this statement, and the idea that the neocons "led us into war." Alterman would probably make it too, although he has zero credibility with me, but not because he might be wrong or right about this.

      Just pointing out the distinction, around which much of Chapter 4 of NF's book is based--in general, the influence of the Lobby vs. the power of the Lobby to determine USFP.

      I don't think that the war in Iraq was fought for Israel or the Israel Lobby. Nothing that hasn't been expressed many times before on Mondoweiss in various contexts.

    • For the record, Finkelstein rejects the notion in Chapter 4 of his book:

      "To hammer home the Israel lobby’s culpability Mearsheimer and Walt
      single out Israeli intelligence reports hyping Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction
      (WMD). But, however much it echoed and reinforced U.S. intelligence,
      the misinformation (or disinformation) Israel passed on does not
      appear to have significantly infl uenced the Bush administration. In his self exculpating memoir At the Center of the Storm former CIA director George
      Tenet did what he could to slough off personal responsibility for the false
      U.S. intelligence that Saddam possessed WMD, but not once does he point
      an accusatory fi nger at Israel.115 Although Rumsfeld also does not shy away
      from pinning blame on others for what went wrong in Iraq, and although
      he alleges that U.S. evidence of Iraqi WMD had been corroborated by foreign
      intelligence services, he does not fault Israeli intelligence or even list it
      among the erroneous corroborators of U.S. intelligence. Nor does Cheney
      fault Israeli intelligence or list it among the erroneous corroborators. Nor
      does Rice. The only plausible explanation for this across-the-board silence
      is that Israeli intelligence really was irrelevant.
      It is beyond dispute that Jewish neoconservatives pushed long and
      hard for an att ack on Iraq. But were they, as Mearsheimer and Walt purport,
      the war’s “driving force” and “chief architects”? Of the six self-styled
      Vulcans (dis)credited with leading the country to war—Richard Armitage,
      Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul
      Wolfowitz—only Wolfowitz fi ts the Jewish neoconservative profile. And
      Wolfowitz himself is a most unlikely mole."

  • Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi's Path to Palestinian Solidarity
  • American Jews who choose 'humanitarian values' over Zionism are tempting another Holocaust --Gordis's blackmail
    • Jews became "important" in this country as part of the labor and civil rights movements, as well as journalism and academia. Gains in the worlds of business and wealth accumulation were morally tempered by identity with the underdog. Assimilation was accepted as part of secular Jewish identity, which it was assumed would retain its cultural/moral/political characteristics.

      That's all changed over the past 4 decades, as so much else has. Jews identifying with geopolitical power, Zionism, Israel, finance, and wealth accumulation can no longer have it both ways in terms of liberal values. Increasingly, they don't bother to try. But the problem has by no means been solved for young, liberal, middle class Jews. For whatever reason, they would like to have an identity that would be consistent with some form of humanistic political idealism. But Jews will never be "important" in the old way. Nevertheless, I feel that the legacy of Jewish liberalism through leftism can be a small but significant aspect of positive change.

      Gordis obviously points in a very different direction.

  • Romney bombs at the King David
    • The venal Democrats, including Obama, depend on the venal and "stupid" Republicans to promote, at best, lesser evilism. Every time Romney makes such a racist comment, it's important to remember that Obama's policies promote the oppression that creates such "cultures." Once we're done getting off on the outrage that Romney provokes, remind ourselves who has the power, and how permanent policies are shielded from politics, especially electoral politics.

  • Top university presidents tour Israel and the West Bank on comp hasbara trip
    • It's true that this has been on the table for a long time, without critical mass to challenge the status quo.

      link to

      It's up to local planning and risk-taking in the context of publicity and a national strategy. No guarantees, but without assertive action, no possibility of change either.

    • I could tell Katehi was bad news when she was here in Urbana, but escaped just in time to avoid a scandal, in which she was likely involved, which brought down the Chancellor and President in 2009. It's adding insult to injury for her to participate in this junket, and she's obviously utterly clueless regarding the movement for Palestine on campus. It's just spitting in the face of social justice movement. But look at her background--engineering heavily involved in the MIC. But of course invoking the success of women breaking the glass ceiling in scientific academia. This is what "feminism" has become in college administration. And one needs a broader argument than that which focuses on the Lobby in order to explain this, and the magnitude of this depredation.

    • link to

      This HAS to be the year, the academic year, where a critical mass of opposition to "academic exchanges", junkets, "Israel Studies" programs, etc. is reached on campuses. This HAS to be the year, if there is ever to be a year, where supporters of the Palestinians make bold demands on university administrators, beginning with the most blatant examples of Lobby funding of academic content.

  • David Brooks's conscious oversight about America's 'elite'
    • While Michael Young's original framing of the meritocracy was satirical, it has since been employed by historians and social scientists in almost Freudian fashion as a means of repressing serious discussions of class. Hayes' book may be useful in clarifying the latest manifestations of bad elite behavior, but it's nothing new. The discussion inevitably degenerates, having begun with the wrong questions and assumptions.

  • Soccer's tragic flaw made a farce of Euro Cup final
    • It would honor Garner to de-sanitize his famous saying, which was spoken "bucket of warm piss." I think we can handle that now, and it conveys the sentiment more accurately.

  • The Case for Israel (Studies): It’s not hasbara. Honest.
    • Ben White documents an important issue on the national level; I provide supporting evidence on the local level. Mondoweiss seems like a good place to put these things on the record, instead of everyone having to do their own research. And my own arguments are pretty clear in response to Rhona Seidelman's efforts to publicize her "moderate" views (on the dime of the Israel Lobby, sanctioned by the taxpayes of Illinois).

    • Actually, I'm a lot more arrogant in person than I ever am on Mondoweiss. But arrogant or otherwise, it's pretty clear when someone is not committed to Palestinian justice; at least not committed enough to actually participate in some credible way in the movement for Palestinian justice. Moral grandstanding isn't really that difficult to discern, when you think about it. It's especially easy in instances when an overwhelming inbalance of power makes it obvious that unless one does not clearly side with the oppressed, and clearly offer no excuses whatsoever for the oppressor, then one does not support justice. Thus, Seidelman in no way supports justice for the Palestinians.

      And I have no idea, on reflection, what it means to be called an "arbiter." Is that sort of accusation supposed to just shut people up?

    • The Schusterman family brings soft hasbara to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (excerpts from the Daily Illini):

      link to

      Sitting through Dr. Daniel Pipes’ talk last week in Foellinger Auditorium, it was hard not to be impressed by his erudition and his commanding presentation. Dr. Pipes clearly knows his material and he knows how to hold an audience’s attention.
      But after the talk my husband commented: “He didn’t actually say anything.”And he was right. For almost an hour Dr. Pipes kept us captivated by a talk empty of substantive content but full of one main, powerful component: fear. The event was consumed by a fear of radical Islam, as though nothing else existed.

      I will not try to refute Dr. Pipes’ theories. I am not a scholar of Islam. Moreover, I am well aware that the foundation on which Dr. Pipes builds his argument is true; there are some radical Islamic groups that are extremely dangerous and destructive. Is there something to be afraid of in radical Islam? Certainly. Should we be consumed by that fear? Certainly not.

      During the talk I tried an exercise: every time Pipes said “radical Islam” I substituted “Zionism” in my head, and suddenly the talk became horribly familiar. Learned and hate-filled anti-Zionism is something I’ve often come across and is, for me personally, particularly unsettling. If — as a Zionist and an Israeli — I had been sitting through that version of the talk, I would have been horrified. And so I wondered how a young Muslim student sitting in Pipes’ talk would have felt. Like Islam, there is much about Zionism that can and should be criticized. But there is a line between scholarly criticism and McCarthy-like fear-mongering. Dr. Pipes crossed that line.

      I urge the students who were there to think critically of the information that was handed to them by Pipes with such authority. Even in the Middle-East (one of the most volatile regions on the earth) there is room for moderation. There is room to think about these issues in a more complex light, one that does not erase historical context or opposing viewpoints, one that is not overcome with fear. It’s almost comical that the words that kept going through my head after Pipes’ talk were: “Be afraid! Be very afraid!” For those in the audience who were distressed by what they heard last week I offer this alternative: Be aware. Be challenging and be critical. Be thoughtful and thought-provoking. But be consumed by fear? Absolutely not.

      Dr. Rhona Seidelman ,
      Schusterman Visiting Israeli Professor,
      scholar of Israeli history

      The October 20th letter from Dr. Rhona Seidelman regarding a recent lecture by Daniel Pipes is evasive, and a form of Zionist propaganda in its own right. Islamophobes like Pipes are invited by “respectable” organizations to speak on college campuses, because Islamophobia is an accepted part of our mainstream political cultures, both American and Israeli. Characterizations of Islam are used to justify ongoing American and Israeli imperial policies.

      Seidelman is disingenuous in drawing an analogy between “anti-Zionism” and Islamophobia. “Anti-Zionism”—if one wishes to describe critics of Israel in this manner—is rooted in a serious critique of Zionism and its manifestations as racist and proto-fascist, and now a form of religious fanaticism. Criticism of Zionism is rooted in a genuine concern for the Palestinian and other victims of Israel’s criminal behavior, supported with U.S. tax dollars. Seidelman’s analogy attempts to create a moral equivalence between destructive American/Israeli policies, and the struggle against those policies. Her posturing as a “moderate” Zionist is transparent, and as appalling as that of Pipes.

      It is clear why Pipes is invited to this university, and why blatant anti-Semites could never be. It’s the same logic: Islamophobia is useful in promoting “respectable” policies; charges of “anti-Semitism” are useful at silencing critics of the U.S. and Israel. It’s also clear why Seidelman can be “Schusterman Visiting Israeli Professor, scholar of Israeli history,” while it is inconceivable that there would be a “visiting Palestinian professor.” Her status is a manifestation of who dictates the terms on which such important issues will be addressed. That is, the oppressors will define the terms of debate. It has nothing to do with scholarship and open inquiry.

      link to

      This week my history of Israel class will be reading about the Jewish response in 1947 to UN General Assembly Resolution 181. It is an achingly beautiful description of a people — previously devastated by genocide, persecution and exile — uplifted by the promise of a country of their own.

      Although different, there are parallels with the current Palestinian bid for UN recognition. Today’s events are also inspiring and heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking to imagine how different history could have been if the Arab world had accepted a Jewish state in 1947. But they did not, and decades of numbing violence followed.
      The past can’t be changed. The present and future can. Just as the Jews needed — and continue to need — the world’s recognition of their right to statehood, so too the Palestinians need that recognition today.

      But I am not naïve. I know that many people wish to destroy Israel. For me personally, this period is very frightening. My family lives in the Israeli city of Beersheba where rocket attacks from Gaza have become more frequent and unpredictable. Recent conversations with my sister focus on what she and her husband are doing to protect their young daughters from the physical violence of rocket attacks as well as the emotional terror of the warning sirens. For my family, the Palestinian’s inspiring UN bid has also meant fear for how much worse the violence could become.

      But these attacks will not be stopped by continuing to deny the Palestinians a state. I also don’t actually believe that they will stop once the Palestinians do have a state. My feeling is this: I refuse to let the most radical, fanatical and violent groups dictate my own moral compass. For decades now there has been two-sided violence, non-recognition and delegitimization. Why not try something different?

      Rhona Seidelman, professor of Jewish Culture and Society

      Hi Dr. Seidelman,

      Just to mention that I found your recent letter pretty unconvincing. I’d much prefer an overtly racist Zionist over one with your liberal pretensions. You distort the founding of Israel, and fail to mention the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. You talk about those who would destroy Israel, while not lifting a finger in relation to those who continue to destroy Palestine.

      Nobody is capable of destroying Israel, and you know it. But the U.S. and Israel have destroyed plenty of countries in the meantime. You don’t say a word about it.
      You’re no friend of the Palestinian people, and you’re unconvincing as a moderate, if a Zionist can be any such thing.

      Not too many people are fooled anymore by your tactics.

      I think you should stick to disease, instead of propagandizing U of I students.

      David Green

      link to

      On Tuesday evening, Rhona Seidelman, a visiting professor at the University of Illinois, gave a lecture and led a discussion about coexistence in Israel to a diverse group of 40 students. Her talk centered on her experiences working at a coexistence organization, The Center for Creativity in Education and Cultural Heritage, based in Jerusalem during the Second Intifada (a time of extreme violence in the year 2000). This organization focuses on bringing Arab and Jewish children together over folklore and heritage. Once a month, children from Arab and Jewish schools come together and share familial stories about a previously assigned topic. The experience Seidelman shared as her favorite was the discussion that took place about bread. Through this intimate discussion, these children formed a relationship with one another that was based not on politics but solely on culture, tradition and — of course — bread.

      The goal of this organization, and many others working on coexistence efforts in Israel, is not to solve the conflict in the Middle East. But these grassroots organizations are making a difference; they are changing the atmosphere on the ground, working effortlessly to create communities of Arabs and Jews that — while they may not agree on issues of politics — find cultural commonalities and very real reasons for mutual respect.

      As Seidelman emphasized: We are not all politicians or, to put it in context, political science majors. But we are all people, with cultures and stories and experiences. Let’s start with these, and if politics come up after the trust is built, then perhaps the enemies will become acquaintances and the arguments will become discussions where we actually listen.

      It’s time we started taking Seidelman’s ideas about coexistence and applying them here, to our campus.

      It’s time we started respecting each other as students and as humans.
      It’s time we started taking advantage of the coexistence groups that exist around us.
      It’s time to start talking about bread.

      Tali Segev, junior in LAS

      link to

      This is a response to “a letter by student Tali Segev (published Oct. 14) which lauded a recent talk by Israeli Professor Rhona Seidelman on “coexistence” among Jewish and Arab children in Israel. It’s also a response to Seidelman’s previous efforts in the DI to promote her image as a conciliatory Zionist.

      The conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs is deeply rooted in the nature of the Zionist settler-colonialist project, with its violent ethnic cleansing, dispossession and occupation, all ongoing. The material goal of the Zionist project — a Jewish state — has necessitated legalized discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel. This goal is fundamental to a historical understanding of Israel’s numerous wars, and its unwillingness since the 1970s to abide by the international consensus for a two-state solution.

      Israel’s history as an aggressive colonial-settler society has determined its decision to serve militarily as a “strategic asset” for American hegemony in the region, support compliant Arab dictators, oppose popular Arab movements and foment regional conflicts, now with Iran.

      Whatever Seidelman’s motivations, “coexistence” and cultural understanding among children mean at best absolutely nothing in relation to addressing the fundamentally oppressive and one-sided nature of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Worse, this approach allows liberal Zionists to avoid taking honest responsibility for their complicity in oppression. Even worse, Seidelman’s rhetorical tactics become an aspect of “hasbara” (propaganda) for Israel’s systematically cruel policies.

      Seidelman is entitled to promote her understanding of decency. Nevertheless, she is a privileged person in apartheid Israel, and her tenure on this campus is a result of the manner in which Zionist perspectives have been academically institutionalized here, to the detriment of truth, scholarship, fairness and Palestinian rights.

      Whatever her rhetoric, it should be made clear that she is unwilling to lift a finger in genuine and meaningful support of Palestinian justice. She has no basis whatsoever to claim otherwise.

      David Green, Urbana resident

      link to

      Israel has precious few avid defenders on this campus; yet, Zionism is institutionalized in such a way as prevent the Palestinian (that is, the truthful and justice-oriented) perspective from getting the hearing it deserves. Sincere supporters of the Palestinians need to think about how to change this institutional status quo, which is partly enforced by the Israel Lobby, broadly speaking, including local Jewish institutions (Federation, Hillel). For example, a course on these issues is taught by Rhona Seidelman, a visiting Israeli “history” professor funded by the Schusterman family; outside funding supports the Lobby’s perspectives; Israel is sanitized by Seidelman. Meanwhile, I’m unaware of any Palestinian ever invited to teach on this campus and address these issues honestly and truthfully. It’s 2011, and apartheid is alive and well as an acceptable ideology among Zionists at the U of I. It’s alive and well in the scholarly treatment of this issue—only Jews are deemed qualified to address it. That especially applies to the “Israel Studies” program.

      David Green

      For a more general perspective:
      link to

  • From 'Save Darfur' to expel Darfur: a Zionist flip-flop on Sudanese refugees
    • "they support Darfurians when it seems to be against Khartoum, and not when it might go against their dogmatism."

      That tells me that they don't support Darfurians. Not really. Not in any principled or meaningful way. Only when it doesn't involve taking any real political risks, or even doing some real political homework and self-reflection.

    • It was never and still isn't and never will be convincing that anything about U.S./Israel/Zionist/Jewish interest in Africans is anything other than various combinations of geopolitics, distraction, humanitarian propaganda, and worthy victimhood. It's selective, it's self-serving, and always hypocritical in the context of the Palestinians and the rest of the Middle East. The reaction of racist Israelis is welcome and honest in a sense, because it shows the true nature of Israeli society, although not of every Israeli. And those Israelis who are rightfully and sincerely outraged are done no service in being exploited by Isabel Kershner, as if Israel itself has a "soul."

      link to

      If Israel simply had a refugee problem, it could deal with it with the help of the international community. But of course Israel can't work with the U.N. and other organizations, for obvious reasons. What is rotten will always stink.

    • May God bless and keep the Africans .... far away from here.

    • Scholar Mahmood Mamdani says in response to these questions:

      What is the agenda of those behind groups such as Save Darfur?

      Besides inflating the consequences of the conflict, its use of the word "genocide" is blatantly a political attempt to depoliticise the issue by presenting support for one side as a moral compulsion.

      What is the role of the "war on terror" in framing the Darfur conflict?

      Save Darfur shares a common frame with the "war on terror". First is the claim that this is not a political conflict driven by issues but a moral crusade against evil. Second, the conflict is decontextualised, as it is presented in abstract moral terms, thereby stripping it of both history and politics.

      On the Save Darfur website you will see a catalogue of atrocities: killings, rape, burnings and so on. Along with like-minded human rights groups, Save Darfur catalogues atrocities, identifies perpetrators and victims, and demands that perpetrators be named and shamed - and punished. The assumption is that violence is its own explanation; driven by perpetrators, not by issues. Any attempt to focus on issues is derided - as with the "war on terror" - as an apology for perpetrators. Thus follows the conclusion: the only way to do away with violence is more violence, the only difference being that "our" violence is said to be good and moral, but "theirs" is bad and evil.

      link to

    • There is no point in viewing "Save Darfur" as having ever been anything other than a massive propaganda effort on behalf of "worthy victims," at best exploiting the desire of some privileged white people to help those who can be safely labeled as being victimized by an official enemy of the U.S./Israel. Thus the silence regarding the African refugees is consistent with the original motives, which were political rather than humanitarian. The same analysis can be applied to Nicholas Kristof.

      Moreover, I suspect that Save Darfur delivered few if any resources to those suffering.

  • 'Tear down this wall' Hillel tells... Israel? (No, University of Illinois)
  • Finkelstein 'not going to be an Israel-basher anymore' but remains 'appalled and disgusted'
    • I agree with the gist of this article from Toensing & Plitnick:

      link to

      "The essential flaw in the Mearsheimer-Walt argument is not, as many critics have said, the authors’ exaggeration of the pro-Israel lobby’s power, for although the authors do this in some instances, the thrust of their argument remains sound. It is not even their inattention to the other factors that have historically defined the US interest in the Middle East for the bipartisan foreign policy establishment. Rather, the most serious fault lies in the professors’ conclusion—soothing in this day and age—that US Middle East policy would become “more temperate” were the influence of the Israel lobby to be curtailed. This conclusion is undercut by the remarkable continuities in US Middle East policy since the Truman administration, including in times when the pro-Israel lobby was weak. And other factors—chiefly the drive for hegemony in the Persian Gulf—have also embroiled the US in plenty of trouble."


      The Attack-Iraq Caucus

      The Bush administration’s real interest in 2001 was the Persian Gulf, specifically Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. In their most explosive argument, Mearsheimer and Walt state that “the war [in Iraq] was due in large part to the Lobby’s influence, especially the neo-conservatives within it.” They then follow the trail of statements from neo-conservatives advocating the forcible removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and tie this advocacy to devotion to Israel.

      Here they run into problems of direct evidence. It is easy to show the neo-conservatives’ affinity for Israel—actually, the Israeli right—but the professors have not made the case that this affinity was a “necessary, if not sufficient cause” of the 2003 invasion. Nor is it even clear that love for Israel motivated the pro-war impulses of the neo-conservatives themselves. For instance, the professors adduce the so-called “Clean Break Paper” of 1996, which was put together by a “study group” featuring key Bush administration hawks David Wurmser and Douglas Feith, and saw removing Saddam Hussein as a key Israeli goal, to bolster their theory. The central theme of this paper, however, is promoting Israel as a regional hegemon independent of the US. Far from encouraging US action in the service of Israeli interests, this paper was entirely rooted in the idea that Israel must quickly wean itself off US support and exert its proven ability to dominate the region militarily on its own. [14]

      Mearsheimer and Walt are not the first to point to the activities of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) as especially revelatory. The genealogy of PNAC’s ideas, however, suggests a much broader set of motivations than loyalty to Israel. PNAC made its debut in 1997 by issuing a statement of principles decrying drift in US foreign and defense policy and calling instead for “a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity.” The statement was signed by six hawkish politicians, most notably Cheney and Rumsfeld. Among the signatories who were soon to be household names were I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Paul Wolfowitz.[15]

      Next came two letters, one addressed to Bill Clinton and the second posted to the House and Senate majority leaders. The occasion for the PNAC letters was the pending failure of containment in ensuring that Iraq was not reconstituting its banned arsenal. In a speech in 1997, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had made clear that regime change was containment’s real agenda, saying that the US would back sanctions “as long as it takes” to usher in “a successor regime” that would comply with UN resolutions. [16]

      PNAC’s concern was the fate of US Middle East policy goals, not the integrity of UN resolutions. “It hardly needs to be added,” they wrote to Clinton, “that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction…the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard.” Unless Saddam’s regime was taken out, “We will have suffered an incalculable blow to American leadership and credibility; we will have sustained a significant defeat in our worldwide efforts to limit the spread of weapons of mass destruction…. This could well make Saddam the driving force of Middle East politics.” The hawks gathered by PNAC did not fear Iraq’s putative weapons; they feared the potential of an “uncontained” Iraq to disrupt US hegemony in the region.

      At one level, the PNAC letters did not diverge from previous articulations of US interests in the Middle East. A September 1978 Joint Chiefs of Staff memorandum listed three strategic goals for the US in the region: “to assure continuous access to petroleum resources, to prevent an inimical power or combination of powers from establishing hegemony and to assure the survival of Israel as an independent state in a stable relationship with contiguous Arab states.” Kenneth Pollack, who ran Iraq policy at Clinton’s National Security Council and then authored a book-length case for invading Iraq in 2002, writes that these goals “have guided US policy ever since.” [17]

      But the PNAC letters about Iraq sprung from a deeper ideological well. The introduction to PNAC’s full-length report, Rebuilding America’s Defenses, published in 2000, summarized the group’s agenda: “At present the United States faces no global rival. America’s grand strategy should aim to preserve and expand this advantageous position as far into the future as possible.” PNAC recommended adding $15–20 billion in defense spending annually, “restoring” the size of the active-duty military to 1.6 million personnel and “selectively” modernizing military hardware. [18]

      Most of the PNAC members are staunchly and vocally pro-Israel. What unites the neo-conservatives with their traditional Cold Warrior confréres Cheney and Rumsfeld is not Israel, however, but a common set of ideas about US power. The convergence of interests first appeared in the aborted Defense Policy Guidance of 1992. This document is the Pentagon’s classified internal assessment, made every two years, of comprehensive military strategy. In 1992, the task fell to Paul Wolfowitz, who set about conceiving a justification for maintaining the military at something approaching Cold War strength. He delegated the actual writing of the Defense Policy Guidance to his top aide Libby, who in turn passed it off to his colleague Zalmay Khalilzad. What Khalilzad came up with stunned Washington when the draft was leaked to the press: The US was uniquely qualified to be the sole superpower, and to maintain that status, the US should actively block the rise of any possible rival. [19]

      Khalilzad was specific: “In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve US and Western access to the region’s oil.” The White House swiftly disowned the document, but it found an appreciative reader in Dick Cheney. “You’ve discovered a new rationale for our role in the world,” Khalilzad recalls being told by his boss. [20] Rebuilding America’s Defenses cites the 1992 Defense Policy Guidance as its primary intellectual inspiration. [21] When the Cheney Defense Department was reunited in the administration of George W. Bush, much of this “inspiration” made its way into the 2002 National Security Strategy. Together with Washington’s long-standing interest in Persian Gulf oil, the genealogy of PNAC suggests that the decision to invade Iraq was determined by grand ambitions for US power—not a “desire to make Israel more secure,” as Mearsheimer and Walt assert.

      And from my own article of last year:

      As quoted on this website two years ago, Chomsky has stated: "As I've mentioned several times, if the thesis about lobby power were correct, it would be a great relief to me and others who have been actively engaged for years in trying organize popular pressure to lead to abandonment of US rejectionism. We could stop all of that, just go to the corporate headquarters of Lockheed Martin, Intel, Microsoft, and others and explain to them that their interests are harmed by US support for Israel, so they should terminate their investments in Israel and use their political and economic clout to put the lobby out of business. Anyone with a little familiarity with American society and political economy knows that they could do that in their sleep. That in fact is the sole activist-related conclusion that follows from the thesis. But none of the believers do it. Why?"

      link to

  • The Israel/Palestine conflict will be resolved when Arab countries kick the U.S. out of the region
  • On the passing of Novick: the political limitations of 'The Holocaust in American Life'
    • The manner in which the Holocaust was joined with Jewish and American identity had little to do with genuine introspection among Jewish-Americans, I would suggest. I wouldn't take "beyond the melting pot" too seriously either, except as part of the neoconservative reaction to the 60s (Moynihan, Glazer). The outsized and maudlin and manipulative manner in which the Holocaust entered mainstream American discourse has everything to do with Israel and the "special relationship," as well as broader aspects of USFP. And again, it had to do with a reaction to what was perceived as "Jewish radicalism" in the 60s, including conflict with "Black Power." People like Todd Gitlin and Michael Walzer are illustrative.

    • I wrote it around 2001. It was not published. I made a few minor changes and, obviously, added a preface.

  • Responding to commenters on recent bannings
    • Annie, what I mean is that USFP would pursue the same strategic interests, but in different ways. Such as, elites pursue the same strategic interests regarding China, although the context has obviously changed from 40 years ago. Without the Lobby and Israel, the U.S. would be pursuing the same strategic interests in relation to control of oil in the ME, vis a vis China, Russia, etc.

      This is to say that the power of the Lobby, as active and formidable as it is, do not fundamentally explain USFP.

      Beyond that, Annie, the mentality that you bring to MW, whether popular or not, is one of adolescent conformity to prevailing opinion. You foster a condescending in-group mentality regarding Lobby doctrine, and obviously have plenty of supporters. I think that your ideas and efforts--and those whose comments border on anti-semitism, as does steivieb's, undermine the movement for Palestinian rights.

      I have always been deeply repelled by the approach that you take to this website, which in my view is largely thoughtless, careless, and self-absorbed. You initiated insults at me from the beginning, which confirmed my views of both your style and substance, which are vacuous.

    • Mooser, you have the persona of a clever fellow. Certainly you can see the difference between somebody supporting banning, and someone supporting that banning be enforced consistently. I don't support banning. It leads to arbitrariness, subjectivity, and hypocrisy. I think Mondoweiss already has enough of all those things.

    • stevieb: "Zionism’s main, deviant characteristics have enabled the others to follow the same deviant immoral path.”

      I don't care who made this statement, Jew or Gentile. And I don't support the notion of banning. In light of people being banned, however, I question the consistency of not banning someone who makes a trash statement like this.

      Again, Keith, what is your reaction to this "analysis"?

      Zionism has contributed greatly to imperialism in the ME, obviously. It's influence has been perverse in Jewish-American culture, and in American political culture. However, there's isn't a shred of evidence that USFP would be significantly different without it. That seems to be the assumption at Mondoweiss, and I think it's misguided. That's why I think that Medea Benjamin's 10 points from last week are also, by and large, misguided. No, AIPAC isn't responsible for world hunger.

    • Keith, do you think that

      “Zionism, Corporate/Financial, MIC – the trifecta of ‘evil’, if you will. But for me, the first one enables the others. Zionism’s main, deviant characteristics have enabled the others to follow the same deviant immoral path."

      is an accurate depiction of the roots of USFP?

      And it it's not accurate, how might one explain the motivation for what is probably not a careless assessment of the roots of USFP?

      Also, for the record, I don't advocate anyone being banned from Mondoweiss for any reason. Ever.

    • Stevieb: "Zionism, Corporate/Financial, MIC – the trifecta of ‘evil’, if you will. But for me, the first one enables the others. Zionism’s main, deviant characteristics have enabled the others to follow the same deviant immoral path. Accepting Zionism as being American as apple pie has had extreme influence on American foreign policy, and not only in the ME. Israel’s sphere of influence and control also flows well outside of the ME."

      If that anti-semitic statement doesn't get this person banned from Mondoweiss, then nobody should be banned--nobody. Not Blankfort, not Witty. Seriously. There should be no moderation whatsoever--none. This is plain anti-semitic trash. It has no place. Or, everyone has a place. Everyone. Bring back JB and RW. Beyond the anti-semitism, it's the hypocrisy, as blatant as it can possibly be. If Zionists are responsible for all of this, why not the Holocaust?

  • Ten reasons why AIPAC is so dangerous
    • Annie, your manner of dialogue is to tell people to read stuff, and refuse to take them seriously if they don't. Nothing about this debate requires anybody to do your homework assignment. The fact that the U.S. projects its power in the world is a truism.

      You're arguing that Ledeen is responsible for the MIC on steroids. That's not the basis for a serious argument of any kind. You don't have a serious argument. Neither does Benjamin. The movement needs one. Otherwise it's just a flurry of activity.

      Annie, do you think that Obama is less of a warmonger than Bush? Do you? You didn't respond to my question. You don't even have to do any reading to respond. So what do you think? Is he? Is he? Is he?

      I think he is. No doubt about it. Not a neocon, but a warmonger, and a child murderer. Get it?

    • "what exactly is it about my initial comment that motivated you to engage me and where are you going with this?"

      You said it was a great list. I think it's a pretty ridiculous list. I oppose AIPAC, because it's part of the complex of forces that determines that the U.S. should rule the world. But the U.S. would still try to rule the world without AIPAC. It tries to do so in all the places that AIPAC doesn't focus its energies.

      My point is that the U.S. doesn't support democracy in the Arab world. My point is that without AIPAC, it still wouldn't. Medea Benjamin seems to imply that things would be different. You seem to agree. I don't. I think it's pretty obvious where I'm going with this. I think Benjamin has said about 8 out of 10 things that overrate the power of the Lobby, which actually isn't largely responsible for global poverty.

      I think she and you would make a more convincing case if you stuck to what AIPAC actually does, instead of ascribing to it the source of all evil.

      You say we wouldn't be on steroids and in a neocon way. Does that mean we would have diminished military capabilities? I think a statement like that needs some support. You don't offer any. Obama is just as much of a warmonger as a standard neocon. Do you get that? It's important.

    • So the U.S. isn't in the habit of supporting democracy. But things would be different if not for AIPAC. Then would we support democracy?

    • So you support U.S. imperialism?

    • Annie, do you believe the U.S. would otherwise be supporting democracy in the Arab world?

    • In spite of the qualifying last sentence, this is a blatantly anti-semitic pronouncment. Has to be said.

  • Dershowitz wants MJ Rosenberg fired for daring to stop Iran war push
    • Keith, it seems to me that Freeman's sanitization of U.S. imperialism isn't that different from the assumptions that underly about 8 out of 10 of Medea Benjamin's much-lauded points from the other day. A fantasy of American goodness and purity, allegedly undermined by AIPAC. God love her, but why the need to be such a suck-up?

  • Video: Protesters are attacked at an 'Israel Alliance' event at U of New Mexico
    • "You have a Lobby that has taken over the US foreign policy – almost in its entirety. As annie said once (or twice) before, it is no longer possible to separate empire foreign policy from Lobby because the Lobby has embedded its people in every branch and at every level of the state department, the NSA, homeland security and, of course, congress."

      This is conspiratorial thinking that doesn't help us to understand how USFP works. For the 10,000th time. And I'm not being personal.

    • "i’m just trying to figure out if you are pulling rank. "

      Yes, this isn't the first time that you're trying to figure out something about me at a personal level, that has nothing to do with the substantive issue at hand. You should stop trying to figure such things out, because it's beside the point.

    • @Cliff

      How about, for the sake of making some progress on the Palestinian issue, you stop making this a personal issue. Certainly, I could go back and collect the quotes in which Blankfort, Robbins, and others INITIATED very personal and insulting comments and questioned my motives regarding "damage control" for Zionists, my very identity, etc. I won't bother. But you simply can't claim to be objective if you haven't noticed the litmus test aspect of discourse on MW. This movement, if you call it that, needs tactics and strategy. It doesn't need a doctrine. "Israel firsters" and other labels are part of a doctrine.

      Let's follow closely what the consequences of the NM intervention will be. Let's see if it generates support and solidarity at UNM, or not. I hope that it will. But let's be honest if it doesn't. I have no doubt that the violence in these cases is initiated by Zionists. I'm not saying the mic check was a crime. But let's take a look back during the spring, let's hear some reporting from UNM on further actions, and let's see the progress that active support for the Palestinians is making there. This was a disruption, this was a tactic. It provoked violence. The responsibility for the violence is on those who committed it. But let's keep our eye on the process and its consequences. Let's have a movement, not a war.

      And stop casting aspersions on those who, I suspect, have been much more active and taken many more risks in the movement than you have.

    • I've never advocated "dialogue" with Zionist groups. Never. You just make that up to fit your stereotype of people you oppose.

    • Does the fact that somebody becomes enraged make the argument one way or another? I've become enraged at Zionist events several times. That doesn't in and of itself discredit or support my case.

      There are free speech issues here. They are not always paramount or determinative. They may not be relevant in some instances. But they are there, especially in an educational environment. And once again, what's good for the goose will be good for the gander. Does BDS, etc., want to go this route?

      There's serious pressure for thoughtless conformity on Mondoweiss, and all of the usual suspects above have had their say. I find it somewhat repellant, somewhat discouraging. There are those who in their self-righteousness and litmus tests make for a smaller tent, unnecessarily so.

      This is an issue that won't go away in the Palestinian movement and on Mondoweiss, whatever my involvement. Don't think that there aren't plenty of people who agree with me, however visible or invisible they may be.

    • "Furthermore, Green pretty much makes an argument one could use against non-violent protest of settlers and the occupation generally: if you protest, they will react violently, so help save them from themselves "

      I don't accept the analogy. If you want to have a decent analogy, then sit in in administrators' offices who support connections with the apartheid state. Take risks that are at least in the same ballpark as Palestinians who put their bodies on the line.

    • "David Green should substantiate his lazy false dichotomy/equivocation."

      I'm obviously not defending these groups. At this point, the pro-Palestinian groups are free to organize and act in various ways. I'm not a big fan of the construct of "hate speech" (because it's been exploited by the Zionists, for one), but it should be noted that what is being practiced is a form of hate speech. Without violating free speech, efforts should be made by pro-justice students and others to broaden the notion of hate speech to include people like Darwish. It should especially be done with people like Daniel Pipes, and it has been done in the past where I live.

      My view is that events that end up in melees tend not to further the cause, whoever can be blamed.

    • Yes Cliff, you know me through and through. I don't believe there's a lobby.

      A fellow named Khalid Abu Toameh spoke at a dorm near where I live in 2009. He did a horrible presentation, and was challenged by members of the audience, including me. In fact, I lost it a little bit at the end, and called him an "idiot." But it wasn't disruptive at that point.

      But most of the audience wasn't inclined to give him much credibility. They came out of the curiosity of a Palestinian journalist supporting Israel. There was no reason whatsoever to be disruptive.

      There might be a reason to be disruptive--for example, if only Zionist speakers are invited. In fact, at the Israel Studies Project a the University of Illinois, only Zionist speakers have ever been invited. One of them, Yossi Klein Halevi, I was quite rude to in 2005. They are now under new management, and the conflict-averse director will not invite overt propagandists, preferring more esoteric scholars and artists. If he were to invite a propagandist, given the history of the program, I would show up and encourage others to show up and intervene. At this point, I would not tolerate it.

      But unless pro-Palestinian speakers are being excluded at some official level, or there is some programmatic bias, I don't see the point in being disruptive at the Darwish event. I don't see what is to be gained by it.

      Cliff, you're welcome to differ. But in doing so, you might want to stop making assumptions about people you don't know, and you might want to stop being so arrogant.

    • "Stop pretending you care about those other people, because you honestly don’t and you know it."

      I think that there are a lot more people open to understanding Palestinian grievances than ever. They need people with the patience to explain a lot of basic stuff. They don't all read Mondoweiss or Noam Chomsky.

    • "David Green is very concerned about Nonie Darwish’s right to Islamophobia."

      Nonsense. We don't believe in free speech unless that includes speech we find abhorrent.

      Daniel Pipes came to my campus a few years back. We organized a rally out front of the hall instead of going in. There was intense debate in the student newspaper and other venues about his background and ideas. He slunk in, spoke for about 20 minutes to a couple of hundred people (many just curious, but not Zionists), and slunk out. It wasn't disrupted. It was challenged, as it should have been. And even the Zionist professors backed off from expressing any support for him.

      The Zionists simply don't have speakers on campus anymore. They all speak at Hillel. That's their choice. When they speak on campus, they will be challenged, as I did with Yossi Klein Halevi in 2005. He wasn't disrupted, but he was completely rattled.

    • Have you seen any of them speaking on campus? For them, a circus would be appropriate. The tactics would fit the event. But that's not Darwish, however loathesome she is. I think it's different. Or perhaps you can explain how they're all the same.

    • "It will not be ‘debated’ for another 5, 10, 15 or 60 years."

      Nor should it be. Supporters of the Palestinians need to figure out how to organize direct action and political action. They need to stop having their chains jerked by the Lobby. That's what a helpful end of "patience" would mean.

    • "I don’t think 99% of the Palestinian solidarity campus activists would agree with you."

      The vast majority that I've met over the past 15 years would in fact agree with me. Without a doubt. That doesn't mean that they're right or I'm right. It does mean that tactics need to be considered in pragmatic terms, in term of the time and place, and the historical moment.

      I believe it's time for supporters of the Palestinians to be confident, determined, and maintain their dignity in the face of hasbara. You're welcome to disagree. I'd like to see a much more bold, assertive, and well-organized movement on my campus and in my community. I've waited for years to see that. But it won't happen because some students take the bait and disrupt a Zionist talk. It will only hurt, in my opinion.

      You're welcome to inform me of the progress that has been made as a result of disrupting Zionist speakers.

    • "david, perhaps you missed the update. there is a second video if you scroll down. notice the guy lunging into the protestors."

      I watched it. I get that the physical violence was precipitated by the Zionists. I also get that Darwish is enraging. When she came to my campus, a friend told me that she had to get up and leave and pace around the quad for an hour. I get it.

      That doesn't mean that it's helpful to the Palestinian cause for her to be disrupted. It might work better to explain to other students why she's loathesome. It might work better to be bigger than the liars and the haters. It might be worth a try.

    • "Right, we should just sit quietly and wring our hands while the armored bulldozers and the armed settler pogroms get funded by US aid to the tune of $3 billion plus a year."

      And how does disrupting Darwish address this problem?

    • "In that case you must be a fan of pro-Israeli pit-bull Alan Dershowitz."

      I abhor him. And if he came to my campus, I would hope that the pro-Palestinians would ignore him. Just ignore him.

    • "The Palestinian solidarity activists are protesting. The Zionists are censoring. There is a difference."

      But you can't expect those who are not yet informed and secure about this issue to respond well to this tactic, and to make the same distinction you do. They might be turned off or driven off. I'm not saying that you should pander to their sensitivities, but just pragmatically consider what will work and not work. I don't understand the resistance to just thinking this through. It's like BDS--it's a tactic. There's no reason to make it a doctrine.

    • It may be clear to you and me, but what about those people who are trying to educate themselves about this issue?

    • "what point in history would you prefer?"

      Given that this is a point where the Palestinian case is increasingly understood, I would prefer that this be a point where their supporters modeled the dignity that they aspire to.

    • It's just remarkable the amount of arrogance and hostility that is displayed by those in response to a suggestion that disruption may not be an intelligent tactic, pragmatically or morally. It's remarkable how the responses become personal, revealing a great deal of insecurity among those within the pro-Palestinian movement to think through some basic issues.

      Again, we've worked hard to make college campuses places where the Palestinian perspective can be promoted at all. Is it wise to engage in disruptive tactics at this point, or continue to educate and advocate?

      The Mondoweiss gatekeepers are much too cocky to even consider it. How predictable, and how telling.

    • First of all, we might like to distinguish between a Congressional hearing, for example, and a speaker on a college campus. I'm not saying there are any firm and fast rules. Again, when I invite you to speak on my campus, do you want me to have set a previous example of disruption that could be answered in kind? Or do you want to invite civil debate?

    • "This video may be the first of many such altercations to come."

      So you're suggesting that a tactic of the pro-Palestinian movement should be to provoke confrontation at Zionist events? Confrontations that of course will rarely be clear in terms of who started what?

      And what do you hope to gain for the Palestinian cause by doing this?

    • "It’s so absurd that you think these activists are on the same level as the pro-Israel crowd."

      Actually, I'm saying they're not. I'm suggesting that the pro-Palestinian activists act like they're not.

    • "this is an incredible video demonstrating how off the rails these israel supporters are."

      And exactly why did this need to be demonstrated at this point in history?

    • "there is nothing to ‘debate”. The debate is over. "

      Of course it is. So if you can't treat them in a civil way, ignore them. Show some self-confidence by having a movement that doesn't depend on violating freedom of speech.

    • So how do you feel about the Zionists disrupting pro-Palestinian events?

    • There's no excuse for violence. But it's worth carefully considering the implications of the use of disruptive tactics; any tactic that is used by one group can be used by another. The Palestinian rights movement either has to have the confidence to ignore events like this and carry on with its campaign, or show up, ask questions, and debate. I don't see any benefit from this sort of disruption, on a pragmatic or moral basis. It would be better to set an example. I think we all know that many Zionsits are nasty people. Why encourage them?

  • Norman Finkelstein slams the BDS movement calling it 'a cult'
    • The cult that Finkelstein refers to is not that of the tactic of BDS, but the strategy of BDS regarding a one-state solution. The distinction is important, and Finkelstein is no fool. I think the title of this post, through omission, distorts the content and tone of Finkelstein's remarks.

  • The Israel Lobby on campus in Illinois: A challenge for BDS
    • "the Lobby has certainly been responsible for perpetuating antagonism between the US and Iran."

      Of course. But it's utterly ridiculous to assert that the U.S. would be on good terms with Iran otherwise. It's just completely, totally, utterly ridiculous. The explanation is consistent with our relationship with any country that doesn't accede to our "interests."

      I don't think that this should be hard to understand. The Lobby is used to explain to much about USFP. The Lobby analysis, if you can call it that, has become a doctrine, and it's become a cult, especially on this website.

    • The U.S. hasn't had a history of being delicate in its foreign affairs, anywhere. It's hard to see how the Lobby has determined that in the ME.

    • Kind of like we had "good relations" with Iran after we overthrew their government and installed the Shah? Or was the Lobby responsible for that, too?

    • I agree, of course, that more analytical nuance would be helpful, and that this is helpful; that would include in regard to Christian Zionism.

    • "I think Green is still routing for institutions to come to their senses, and thus focuses on the entities corrupting institutional policies – but if we look at these institutions in their totality, I think we find them to be incapable of any such thing. Public Universities being just one very illustrative example."

      No. I'm rooting for us to finish what we started in the 60s.

    • I wouldn't take too seriously what Eric Alterman says about anything. He's a self-promoting liberal of the worst order. If his views about Israel were to threaten his position at the Nation, he'd change them. In a second. His forte, along with Todd Gitlin, is political posturing. They want to assert the moral superiority of the non-left left. That's why the Nation has largely gone into the dumpster.

    • Sheldon Adelson is an ignorant man who wants to feel like he's doing God's work in the manner in which he employs his ill-gotten wealth. He chooses Israel in order to feel like a big shot, and to feel that his ill-gotten gains have some larger moral meaning. If his activities clearly come into conflict with how elites view U.S. interests in the region, he'll probably be persuaded by one means or another to change his mind as to the larger moral meaning of his wealth. He'll remain ignorant in doing so.

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