Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 32 (since 2009-09-21 06:02:54)

David44

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  • Obama 'betrayed' American Jews and Trump is a 'swineherd' -- Bernard-Henri Levy
    • Um - you are aware, aren't you, that the primary source we have for the tradition of Hillel the Elder is the Talmud? The Talmud incorporates that tradition as part of its dialectic: it makes no sense at all to separate them out, as if "the Talmud" somehow has a unitary meaning which is separate from the words of the rabbis incorporated within it.

  • UC Berkeley reinstates Palestine class, rejecting pressure from pro-Israel groups
    • “I hope it means that university administrations will think twice before buckling to outside pressure and interest and instead double down on their commitment to academic freedom and open and critical inquiry,” he said."

      I hope so too; my fear is the opposite. Even though AMCHA (fortunately) failed this time, it threw up a lot of hurdles in the path of both the teacher and the administration. My concern is that, faced with that, fewer teachers will try to run such courses in the first place, and that administrations will try to find ways of heading them off before they have to run the gauntlet of controversy.

  • Jews need to study the Torah in order to criticize Israel, Beinart says
    • Phil:

      Of course you are right: there is such a community as you describe, and I regret (in my comment above) that I spoke of "the US Jewish community" as if it were a monolithic entity which does not include such groups.

      What I would, however, say is that this community has little to offer me (or, I suspect, Peter Beinart - though of course I can't speak for him), since for myself I cannot imagine being part of a Jewish community which was not primarily constituted through Jewish religious traditions (even if not everyone in the community is strictly observant of those traditions). And if one wishes to find a space for oneself as a critic of Israel in _that_ community, and not be ostracized from it, then it is essential that one does so from a solid basis of Torah and tradition.

    • Yourstruly:

      I don't think you understand what Beinart is arguing here. He is not - repeat, NOT - claiming that only Jews who study Torah should be allowed to criticize Israel. He is saying that, in practice, IF a Jew wants to criticize Israel AND still remain actively Jewish and part of the US Jewish community, s/he needs to study Torah - because otherwise they will be ostracized and will have no plausible comeback. But if you don't care whether or not you are actively Jewish or whether you are ostracized, then of course there is no reason why you shouldn't criticize Israel without studying Torah.

      For what it is worth, I agree with Beinart wholeheartedly on this (though not on everything else he said on the panel - e.g. on the two-state solution, I am on the side of `Atef, as quoted by Phil here). And my own experience bears Beinart out. I'm not a public figure the way he is (and have absolutely no wish to be, which is why I comment here anonymously), but in my own community in New York there is no secret about my critical views on Israel and Zionism. And it is very hard for people who know me to accuse me of being a "self-hating Jew", or to deny me a place in the community, when they know perfectly well that I am more observant of halacha and more knowledgeable about the Torah and Talmud than at least 90% of the rest of the community is.

  • The magic rubber bullet theory
    • "There is no explanation for why a live-fire round could smash through a skull and remain in its unscathed shape out of the casing. doesn’t even look like the sharp tip has deformed. now-could this be possible? maybe. but it isn’t a high probability"

      On what basis do you (as a self-acknowledged non-expert) claim that "it isn't a high probability"? I ran a quick internet search for x-rays of bullets in skulls, and came up with (e.g.) http://www.gettyimages.it/pictures/an-x-ray-reveals-a-bullet-lodged-in-the-skull-of-an-afghan-news-photo-534242806, or http://www.edp24.co.uk/polopoly_fs/1.4611125!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_630/image.jpg, or http://www.jsp.org.pk/Issues/JSP%2015%20(2)%20April%20-%20June%202010/miraj%20us%20siraj%20CR.pdf. All x-rays of sharp-nosed bullets lodged in skulls; all show the bullet in an unscathed shape out of the casing; not a single one shows the tip distorted.

      So, as far as I can see, your claims about what one would expect to see in an x-ray when a bullet is lodged in a skull are based on nothing more than wishful thinking . You have no real basis for skepticism here - but you have decided to be skeptical anyway, because you would rather be skeptical than confront what all the evidence assembled by the 972 article suggests happened here.

    • “Because an x-Ray is a two dimensional picture, the bullet could be lying on the skin, under the scalp, or in the skull and all of these would appear the same on the x-Ray.”

      Not true: they would not appear the same. The visible space in the skull surrounding the bullet, and the shadow marking the pathway through the skull by which the bullet reached there, would not be present were the bullet on the skin or under the scalp.

      Not to mention the obvious question. This X-ray came from the Nablus hospital. Who (except a paranoid anti-Arab conspiracy theorist) would think that a hospital would put a bullet on top of the skull when taking an X-ray?

  • What the economic boycott of Israel can achieve
    • DaBakr:

      You're wrong to dismiss the book out of hand in this way. Finkelstein isn't just some guy with a Jewish name. He's probably the leading contemporary Israeli archeologist of the Biblical period, and his arguments need to be taken seriously. The book is definitely worth reading - and yes, if that means rushing out to Steimatsky, you should rush out to Steimatsky. (Though you might find a copy more easily on Amazon.)

      On the other hand ... you should not take Xanadou's account of the book at face value. Finkelstein and Silberman do NOT deny that there was ever an ancient monarchy of any sort in Israel - I've no idea where Xanadou got that idea from. What they deny is the united monarchy of David and Solomon. But they certainly accept the existence of the separate kingdoms of Israel and Judah in what is now Israel/Palestine, and they are well aware of the evidence for those kingdoms from other cultures, including the Assyrian and Babylonian documents.

  • The iron law of institutions versus Bernie Sanders
    • Sibiriak, all you are doing here is moving the goalposts. The proposition to which I was responding was that "She’s no different than Paul Ryan or Marco Rubio or Lindsey Graham or you name the right wing nut ... But for the anti gay and abortion agenda it’s really hard to differentiate". I pointed out that there was a huge difference between Hillary Clinton and Paul Ryan et al. Your response to that is to argue that the Democratic Party as a whole is more right-wing and ideologically closer to the Republican party than you would like, in particular because both parties share a belief in what you refer to as "global militarism+predatory transnational capitalism".

      This may well be true: and you don't have to like it. But it doesn't change the fact that there is a DIFFERENCE between Hillary Clinton and the Republican Party that goes far, far beyond gay rights and abortion, and indeed between the Democratic Party as a whole and the Republican Party as a whole, contrary to what Blownaway stated. DW-Nominate scores not only show that Hillary Clinton is on the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party (even if not nearly as liberal as Bernie Sanders); they also show that the most conservative Democrat is considerably more liberal than the most liberal Republican. After all, even if "traditional liberalism on social/cultural issues" is not enough to satisfy you, it still provides a clear axis of distinction which separates mainstream Democrats from all Republicans.

      (And is healthcare, to mention the example I gave that separates Hillary Clinton from Paul Ryan, really an example of a "social/cultural issue" anyway? To my mind, it has a strongly economic aspect as well - and again, even if the economics of Hillary Clinton's views on healthcare are different from those favored by Bernie Sanders, they are ALSO demonstrably different from Paul Ryan's, which is the point I was making.)

    • This is, to put it mildly, fantastic nonsense. Let me remind you: Hillary Clinton was a senator, with an actual voting record: and that record not only made her very unlike the Republicans, it made her more liberal than most of her Democrat colleagues - certainly more liberal than Barack Obama, for one. This can actually be quantified, using her DW-Nominate score - see http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/3/31/1374629/-Hillary-Clinton-Was-the-11th-Most-Liberal-Member-of-the-Senate.

      It is true that she is very Republican-like on foreign policy (which I find depressing), but on domestic policy? Hard to differentiate except on gay rights and abortion? Not even close (I mean, seriously - what about HEALTHCARE, to name one example among many?).

      At the end of the Daily Kos article I linked to above, the author says (I quote): "By her voting record in Congress, Hillary Clinton is squarely in the mainstream of the national Democratic party in America, and would be a good ideological fit for it as its nominee. If anyone tries to tell you differently, ask them to show their work." If you intend to reply to what I have written here, show me your work. Don't just pontificate or cherrypick a tiny handful of issues: show me how, overall on all of the dozens of areas of domestic policy, there is no policy difference between Hillary Clinton and (let's say) Paul Ryan. I don't believe there is even the slightest case to be made along those lines.

  • Answering Yair Lapid's (contemptuous) questions about refugees
    • Mayhem:

      As far as I can see, you have simply invented the distinction you are making here. Naturally, among refugees whose ancestors fled in 1948, there is going to be a much higher proportion of 2nd and even 3rd generation members than there will be among those whose ancestors fled in 1980. But by now (more than 30 years later) there are some 2nd generation refugees even among the Afghans (see, for example, http://www.unhcr.org/news/press/2015/10/561660556/international-community-commits-refocus-attention-afghan-refugee-situation.html for evidence); there will be many more if the refugee situation persists as long as it has for the Palestinians.

      Once again, there is NOTHING unique about Palestinians here: ALL refugees' status remains in perpetuity. You have been given legal evidence that this is the case: I have provided an actual example of it. Yet you persist in denying it, and claiming a uniqueness for the Palestinians which has no basis at all in reality. If you want to challenge this, you are going to have to supply actual evidence, not mere assertion. Actually having facts is far more persuasive than making them up as you go along.

    • "Palestinians are actually the ONLY group in the world all descendants of whom are counted as refugees"

      That is straightforwardly false. To add to the general statement of legal principles about how refugee status is transmitted, which Jonathan Ofir quotes from Chris Gunness in the main article, my guess is that you know nothing about the critical position of Afghan refugees in Pakistan. There are something like 1.6 million of them, most of whom have been there since the Soviet invasion in the 1980s (see http://www.resettlement.eu/page/afghan-refugees-iran-pakistan-0). Of those 1.6 million, around 30% were NOT born in Afghanistan (see http://www.acted.org/en/afghan-refugees-pakistan-supporting-long-term-displacement-and-hosting-capacities). They have refugee status by descent, exactly as the Palestinians do.

  • In latest pander to Israel lobby, Clinton smears Max Blumenthal's criticism of Wiesel as 'hateful'
    • I'm not sure I'd go nearly as far as "one of the most influential Jews in the world" (sorry, Annie, but I can think of many candidates who, for good or ill, have far greater influence). But I'm also doubtful that it's true that one would never see his name outside Mondoweiss, or that he has low name-recognition among the wider public. I ran a quick Google search, which showed that in the last couple of days his name has appeared in headlines in Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, Breitbart, Arutz Sheva, the Washington Times, the Forward, the Jewish Week ...

      There are a couple of interesting aspects to this. One is that his name is in the headlines, which implies that the headline writers expect prior recognition on the part of a good proportion of their readership. The second is that the bulk of these places which assume name-recognition are right-wing sources. In other words, the people who have heard of Max Blumenthal are not primarily those who share his politics, but those who are strongly opposed to him, and who treat him as a symbol of much of what they detest and despise about the anti-Zionist left. Make of that what you will.

  • Smile -- it's the Upper West Side
    • "Do you have a modern day example of this technique working to defuze/diffuse intransigence and effect change (or minimal case, create some space where change can occur)? I can’t think of any offhand, but that’s just me."

      Yes. I would say that the end of apartheid in South Africa was partially enabled by the black majority's willingness to recognize and give that sort of space to white fears. I emphasize "partially" - a LOT more than that was needed, and will be needed in this case also (which is why I said that this sort of recognition should go hand-in-hand with more confrontational approaches, and should not be a substitute for them). But it would have been a great deal harder to end apartheid without that.

      "Heck, I’m in awe of your courage, period."

      I hope and trust that the "your" in this sentence refers to Ms Fadil, not to me! I haven't shown any particular courage; I'm sitting comfortably on the Upper West Side commenting on a blog ...

    • I don't disagree with you that more needs to be done than "dialogue and assurances", and if by "applying the stick" you mean (as you seem to) the pursuit of legal remedies, or BDS or whatever, I would agree with that too. But I don't see that those things are incompatible with offering your opponents understanding and recognition of their fears.

      Again, look at it pragmatically. It's all very well to talk about "applying the stick", but let's be realistic, and recognize that it is a very small stick being applied against some very powerful institutions, who have access to a great many political resources. It is interesting (and somehow reassuring) to see how utterly panicked the NYC Jewish community - my community - is by this very small stick; but their panic is likely to lead them - indeed, is already leading them - to attempt to use more of their resources to suppress the opposition, rather than in the direction of conciliation, let alone towards acceptance of Palestinian rights.

      Accordingly, I still maintain that accompanying such actions with some form of recognition and awareness of the basis of their fears is more likely to produce effective results than confronting them with unrelenting hostility would.

    • No, demons and demonic possession form no part at all of contemporary Jewish theology. There are a small handful of Talmudic and post-Talmudic legends concerning demons and the like, but I do not know of any rabbi of any denomination who takes them seriously as a literal explanation for human action.

    • "We want to recognize the emotional and psychological fear expressed by people living here on the Upper West Side who feel uncomfortable when they hear the policies of the state of Israel being criticized…

      Why?"

      The basic answer (I speak as someone who, like Rebecca, lives on Manhattan's Upper West Side) is because the people in question have power, and without some understanding and recognition of their own psychological position, they are much less likely to shift in the way they use that power.

      This is NOT, and should not be (to answer oldgeezer's similar point) to suggest that there is the slightest moral equivalence between their discomfort and the sufferings of the Palestinians under Israeli rule (and I did not take Rebecca to be implying that there was such equivalence), but rather because such recognition is pragmatically essential if you want to shift the terms of the argument in such a way as to change people's minds for the better.

  • PEN director praises Charlie Hebdo's courage, then suggests BDS makes students feel 'isolated, vulnerable, threatened'
    • Phil:

      I don't think you've understood what Nossel is doing here. She is clearly uncomfortable with the question about BDS, and can see that this is a double standard. So instead of answering about BDS, she shifts to talking about something else - the (admittedly highly topical) question which she has probably been asked about a lot of times, namely the questions about "safe spaces" on campus and free speech and so on. And though she hedges, her answer does, it seems to me, ultimately come down on the side of free speech - she says that one should find a way of respecting people who are offended or marginalized without restricting the rights of others to speak freely. Her reference to a "respectful community" was about what other people are concerned about (cf. e.g. the University of Illinois's stated rationale for removing Stephen Salaita), not the criterion that she thinks should be applied.

      So no, she does not stand up clearly for BDS (as she should, given her stated values). But she doesn't come down on the side of restricting it either. This was not an answer about BDS: this is an answer being given by someone who clearly thinks that she has successfully avoided answering about BDS.

  • Israeli soldier filmed executing wounded Palestinian man
  • Suddenly, comparing Jewish state to ISIS is OK
    • If Moshe Arens or Asher Schechter criticizing Jewish terrorists is an example of "self-criticism", then such "self-criticism" is commonplace in the region - see (e.g.), Egyptian critics of the Muslim Brotherhood, or PLO critics of Hamas. (For the latter, see e.g. http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/3020.htm - I'm guessing that you regard MEMRI as a reliable source, though not all would be quite so uncritical of it.) Or indeed the Arab and Muslim critics of ISIL itself - far, far too many to count. The Israeli claim to be uniquely self-critical is no less self-serving - and no less false - than other claims made by Israeli propagandists.

      "And let me know when Palestinians start referring to Hamas as ISIS, because their ideology is the same."

      I can let you know now - it happened (not for the first time) just yesterday. See http://www.vocativ.com/news/266455/palestinians-furious-after-hamas-bans-new-years-parties/. Your apparent expectation that such things could not be readily found merely betrays your profound ignorance of the Middle East.

  • No justice for Tariq Abu Khdeir -- even US State Dep't faults Israeli 'accountability'
    • Since Hophmi seems unlikely to answer your challenge, let me do it for him. The issue was addressed a little while ago by FiveThirtyEight (http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/allegations-of-police-misconduct-rarely-result-in-charges/), and it shows that in the period studied, there were more than 8300 accusations of police misconduct in the US. Of those, 3238 - around 38% - resulted in charges against the officers. That compares with around 6% in Israel, according to the figures given by Yesh Din. Moreover, of those who were charged, 33% were convicted and 12% received prison terms - something which, according to the information here, hardly ever happens in Israel.

      So Hophmi's "whataboutery" fails even on its own terms. The US is hardly aggressive about charging and convicting officers (note that the FiveThirtyEight article is headlined "Allegations Of Police Misconduct Rarely Result In Charges"), but even in the US, it happens around 6 times as often as it does in Israel.

  • Academics both 'pleased and concerned' with Salaita settlement with University of Illinois
    • Hophmi:

      "Can you honestly say, though, that the academic case is all that these departments and programs take into account? Salaita was not some eminent scholar. He was basically unknown before this. It’s no coincidence that the head of American-Indian Studies shared his political views."

      Actually, if you believe the head of American-Indian Studies, Robert Warrior, it was indeed a coincidence: he was not a member of the committee that recommended Salaita for appointment. But more importantly, it is irrelevant. Even if it WERE the case that the department is taking non-academic criteria into account, those will not be part of what is sent to the Dean and tenure committee to be assessed. They will ONLY be looking to see if the case for appointment can be justified academically, and they will not have any evidence before them to consider other factors. And - demonstrably - the Dean and tenure committee at UIUC was satisfied that Salaita's appointment was fully justified on academic grounds.

      "Even if the university can’t vet every candidate, one would think they would more aggressively vet candidates to whom they’re giving lifetime appointments."

      You are still talking about more than 100 such hires each year at UIUC alone - around a third of all faculty hires at UIUC are tenure-line - and you have in any case overlooked my chief point, which is that however few or many they are, one could not establish a system to vet them in the way you suggest without creating a large extra bureaucracy and generating considerable faculty opposition, and doing so without ultimately removing controversy in the event that the faculty's choice of hire was denied on non-academic grounds. No university is going to want to go down that route.

      "I don’t believe that’s true. I can think of a number of public institutions that have a perfect right to hire and fire employees based on their behavior on social media. First Amendment rights give you the right to speak. They don’t give you the right to avoid the consequences of speech. "

      See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-leiter/salaita-v-university-of-i_b_5726034.html for a succinct analysis of the legal issues involved. The chief point is that a public institution can only limit speech under very restricted circumstances, notably cases where the speech can reasonably be seen as hindering the individual's ability to do his/her work effectively. For the reason Leiter explains in that article, that does not apply to the Salaita case.

      "Logically, it doesn’t hold. Salaita’s hire is based on his output. If he isn’t hired because his output was insufficient, i.e., because of what he did or didn’t say in his academic work, that’s not a violation of his First Amendment rights."

      Indeed it is not, for the reason I explained above (academic inadequacy is something which manifestly disqualifies a person for the post). But the academic value of the scholarly output, and Salaita's qualifications for the post based on it, had ALREADY been thoroughly analyzed, not only by the department, but by the University tenure committee, which had in front of it independent peer analyses (that is the way such committees invariably operate). Adding some tweets into the mix (which are not part of a scholar's academic output by any normal definition) does not change that outcome.

    • Hophmi:

      "LOL. Or they just wanted him to go away, which is the more likely explanation, and paying him was cheaper than litigating the case to conclusion. Happens every day."

      You're probably right on this.

      "It’s uncommon for that to happen when the parties are in dispute with one another."

      And on this.

      But you go badly off the rails with what follows:

      "What will happen now is that universities will much more closely vet department hires, and people like Salaita simply will not get an offer".

      If you think this, then your problem isn't that you don't understand the Humanities (though you don't); the problem is that you don't understand how hiring works in universities. Choices for hires are in the first instance made by departments. They are then typically sent to a Dean and (in the cases like Salaita, for hires with tenure) to a university tenure committee; but those will only look at the academic case - they will not be examining (e.g.) the candidate's presence on social media. They do not have the sort of evidence in front of them that would alert them to (e.g.) fallout from donors.

      In order to vet every candidate for potential controversy, a large extra bureaucracy would have to be created, which would provide a comprehensive examination of EVERY hire in the university (hundreds every year at the university of the size of UIUC). This could not be done quietly, but would be controversial precisely because of its intrusiveness. Few if any universities would be prepared to face massive GUARANTEED objections among its existing faculty, merely in order to head off a POSSIBLE candidate who might be controversial at some point in the future. And even if they did so, it would still be the case that the Dean (or whoever was responsible for denying the hire) would have to go back to the department and tell them that he or she was rejecting the case on non-academic grounds, which would create exactly the sort of outrage that the Salaita case did. It would not avoid controversy: it would exacerbate it.

      And that is leaving aside the obvious point that you appear to have overlooked: that the whole issue in the Salaita case was the result of tweets he issued in response to a war that broke out months after his hire had been formally announced. At the point when he was hired, he was not controversial.

      "Humanities professors, who just don’t live in the real world, are fooling themselves. They’re coddled, and they expect privileges that no one else enjoys, such as the privilege to say whatever they want, whenever they want, whether it relates to their work or not, and face no consequence for it."

      Steven Salaita did indeed have that privilege, but he did not have it by virtue of being a "humanities professor". He had it by virtue of being a US citizen who had received an offer of employment from a US public institution, which is legally obliged to provide full and unabridged First Amendment rights of free speech on all matters, whether or not related to the individual's work, and no matter how controversial it may be.

  • 'NYT' discovers elephant in living room: 'Pro-Israel billionaires'
    • I was intrigued by the following:

      Oren: Even the term “Israel Lobby,” once confined to racists such as Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, entered the mainstream media.

      I thought I would test this; so I ran a search for the phrase "Israel Lobby" in the New York Times between 1980 and 2004. I came up with 112 hits, including this one from Hedrick Smith in 1981 - a well-known KKK-member, I presume (he also uses the term "Jewish lobby" in the article, though admittedly as part of a quote from a "Jewish leader" - perhaps another KKK member).

      Or this one, a profile of Senator Mac Mathias (R, Maryland), who apparently had spoken of "the potent Israel lobby" in an article in Foreign Affairs in 1981. Perhaps Senator Mathias was another racist KKK-member, though if so, it is odd that he is described in the article as " the best Republican friend civil rights has had".

      Or this one, from 1990 (a Reuters report - racists through and through, as we know).

      Or this one, from Roger Morris (NSC-member under Johnson and Nixon), who speaks (in 1991) of "the pro-Israel lobby, perhaps the most impregnable bloc supporting the interests of a foreign government ever assembled in American politics". Racist, obviously.

      Or this one, which uses the term twice, as it describes President George H.W. Bush's frustrations at taking on (in his words) "something like a thousand lobbyists". George H.W. had lived in Texas - he MUST have been a KKK member.

      And of course this one, from one Thomas Friedman in 1998. Well, we already have Oren's word for it that Friedman is an antisemitic racist. This simply proves the point.

      My overall conclusion: Michael Oren is a liar - or at best an ignoramus who says things without being prepared to do even the minimal research to back them up.

  • Palestinian minister dies after Israeli army assault during olive tree planting ceremony in West Bank village
    • "Ziad Abu Ain is perhaps the most famous detainee in Israel, having been extradited there from the US in 1981 after a long and controversial court battle. He was convicted of planting a bomb in the Galilee town of Tiberias at Tel Aviv court in 1982 and sentenced to life imprisonment. The evidence against him consisted mainly of confessions from two other detainees, both of whom later retracted their statements saying they were extracted under torture. Abu Ain has consistently denied any involvement in the bombing. "

      James Dorsey, Journal of Palestine Studies 13.2 (1984), p.184.

      My question for you: why are you so sure that Abu Ain was guilty of those murders? He denied it himself: the supposed evidence against him was retracted by his accusers, and that Israel used torture in the 1980s (and later) is well documented. Certainly his trial did not meet the accepted standards of reliability or justice in civilized societies.

  • Are pro-Israel groups afraid of the US public?
    • Phil:

      I don't think you are being fair here. You're right about the Arieh King event - they're clearly trying to avoid a hostile audience - but I don't think you can reasonably conclude that from the CAMERA one. It's primarily a fundraiser, of a pretty standard sort within the NYC Jewish community (I get invited to events like this all the time, most of which are entirely apolitical), and the entrance fees are structured accordingly. It's a way of getting money from supporters, and I doubt that the question of whether hostile voices (let along "the US public) are excluded even entered their minds.

  • 'Washington Post' runs article denouncing gross censorship by JCC
    • David Harris-Gershon agrees with you: if you read his final paragraph above, you will see that he fully accepts that the JCC does not owe him a platform, and that they are perfectly entitled to invite or not invite whomsoever they wish. If you think he was saying otherwise, you have misunderstood his case.

      But the comparisons you offer inadvertently make his case for him. The problem, as he (rightly) presents it, is NOT that the JCC chooses not to invite people who are in fact their fundamental enemy, the way an environmental organization would reasonably exclude a climate change denier, or a Christian organization Richard Dawkins. The problem is precisely that the JCC treats someone like Harris-Gershon, an active, committed Jew who cares about Israel, as if he WERE that sort of fundamental enemy, simply because they disagree with his approach to the West Bank and how one should best address the injustices there. As Harris-Gershon says, all that does is fragment and undermine the Jewish community as a whole, by placing a large proportion of it beyond the pale.

  • New Migron bill could lead to massive Israeli land grab in the West Bank
  • Is the Pope also barred from entry into Israel?
    • As I said, I agree with you in general about the wrongness of refusing Grass (and the other people you mention) entry to Israel. I also agree with you about the mitigating circumstances for his military service. Just one factual correction (which doesn't affect your main argument): tank divisions of the SS were in general certainly involved in war-crimes - see e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oradour-sur-Glane (which did not involve Grass's division, just to be clear).

      But my basic point remains (this is also a reply to Citizen and Woody Tanaka below). For all of the perfectly good points that you and they make in defence of Grass, there is still a distinction between Grass and the Pope, partly in the considerably greater reluctance with which the latter served, and partly because of the extensive involvement of the Waffen-SS in war crimes. Again, to be clear, this does NOT make Grass a war-criminal by association; but it does mean that a former member of the Waffen-SS, however personally untainted, is always going to be viewed differently from a person who served in ordinary divisions of the Wehrmacht.

      Hence Caroline's suggestion that the logic of Israel's actions over Grass means that they ought to ban the Pope too is a poor argument based on a weak analogy. There are plenty of perfectly good arguments to show why Israel is acting wrongly and stupidly here; we don't need to add bad analogies into the mix.

    • While I saw nothing wrong with Grass's poem, and think it is ridiculous to ban him from visiting Israel, there is a substantial difference between his case and that of the Pope. The Waffen-SS was - unlike the regular divisions in which the Pope served - an elite force which was broadly implicated in war crimes. The fact that Grass was conscripted of course makes a big difference to his personal responsibility, since he did not (as far as anyone knows) commit war-crimes himself; but it still looks rather different from the Pope's case, especially since Grass, by his own account - and unlike the Pope - did actively volunteer for military service even while still below military age, albeit not for the SS in particular (see http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/guenter-grass-im-interview-warum-ich-nach-sechzig-jahren-mein-schweigen-breche-1357691.html ).

  • Defense lawyer Lichtman says Palestinians have a 'culture of death'
    • I suspect that many people here disagree, not least because of the illegitimate slide in his argument: he says that "the Palestinians" have a culture of death, but his evidence for that is that 'radical Islam" has a culture of death. Even if we accept the truth of the latter, it does not entail the former, since Palestinians who practise "radical Islam" are still a minority within Palestine as a whole.

  • The Department of Corrections: Ben-Hur, the LA Times & a place called Palestine
    • "References to Palestine or Palestinians appear in Pliny, Ovid, Tibullus, Statius, Jerome, the Vulgate, and the Historia Augusta".

      "It’s ridiculous to refer to Ben Hur as a “Palestinian” ... A Roman in the time of Jesus called the place Judea."

      But Pliny, Ovid, Tibullus and Statius WERE all "Romans of the time of Jesus" (approximately - Tibullus wrote a couple of decades before him, Ovid around the time of his birth, Pliny and Statius a couple of decades after his death but well before Hadrian"). Hence your statements are contradictory.

      The reason for your confusion is that you fail to distinguish the question of the official name of the province (which was "Judaea" until Hadrian changed it) from the question of what names were popularly used for the region (one of which was "Palestine"). For a particularly neat example of the latter, you might note that Jesus' Jewish contemporary Philo is one of those who refers to the region as "Palestine" (e.g. "Life of Moses" 1.163).

  • Border anxiety in the West Bank
    • "I don’t recall any of you making a fuss when ISM hosted two Brits who killed 3 and wounded 50 in Mikes place in Tel Aviv."

      There are two reasons you don't recall any of "you" making a fuss.

      First, Mondoweiss didn't even exist at the time (it was founded in 2006), so I'm not sure how you think you can identify what the commentators on Mondoweiss were saying or doing in 2003.

      Second, and much more importantly, you don't recall people making a fuss because it never happened. It was a smear put forward by the Israeli government, based on the fact that the terrorists in question, prior to doing the bombing, turned up for 15 minutes at a social event in the apartment of an ISM activist. See http://electronicintifada.net/content/ism-demands-israeli-retraction-and-apology-over-mikes-place-bombing-allegations/262 and http://electronicintifada.net/content/ism-report-may-5th-press-conference-jerusalem/1196 . Needless to say, ISM, which is a wholly non-violent movement, knew nothing about what these terrorists were planning, and neither encouraged nor supported them to the slightest degree.

      That you can claim that a brief social contact of that sort is in any way parallel to the JDL working directly with the violent settlers suggests only how desperate you are to find anything, however tenuous, to discredit your non-violent opponents.

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