Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 6532 (since 2009-07-31 03:28:07)


Donald Johnson is a regular commenter on this site, as "Donald."

Showing comments 6532 - 6501

  • Christian Zionists expose their anti-Semitism at conservative summit in Iowa
    • Mooser-- yeah, maybe avoiding the thread altogether would have been better for my blood pressure.

      Tokyobk-- I apologize for calling you stupid. Your remark was stupid and deserved all the abuse I gave it, but I should have left it at that.

    • Here, tokyobk, is a link to me talking about murderous antisemitism in the US in a recent thread. Note my debate opponent and his response--an anti-Semite who kills three Christians at a Jewish community center isn't an example of murderous antisemitism and he ignores the other links entirely. (I assume a real murderous anti-Semite would have somehow sensed his victims weren't Jewish.)

      You two should have a lot of fun together. Leave me out of it. In fact, maybe I'll leave myself out of this place--my tolerance for this kind of idiocy is pretty much at its limit.

      link to

    • I responded more politely up above, but here I am going to say some slightly ruder things.

      Maybe you are just stupid and can't make distinctions or refuse to do so when it is easier to lump people into demonized categories, but let me explain something to you. I think antisemitism is still around, sometimes leads to murderous violence even in the U.S. And of course has been a huge factor in most Western history--I couldn't guess how many Jews have been murdered over the centuries but was shocked to learn that one of the greatest antisemitic killings occurred during the Russian Civil War circa 1919 and is almost never mentioned because later events put it in the shade.

      On a smaller scale, I see antisemitic comments on the internet sometimes, though among evangelicals who support Israel what one sees far more often is Islamophobia.

      So here is the distinction you don't seem to get, so I will type slowly. One can largely agree with the notion that Christianity has a history of antisemitism that goes back to passages in the Gospels themselves, and still not agree with what Norton said here.

      Got that. Or is it just more fun to assume that anyone who disagrees with an attribution of antisemitism in a particular case is really just the next thing to a Holocaust denier?

      For some reason I thought you were smarter than this. My mistake.

    • Tokyobk, you are making unfair generalizations about people here. Many or maybe most of us agree that antisemitism is real, existed in Europe and so on. You'd have to be a lunatic to deny it. If you have particular lunatics you want to criticize, name them , but don't act as though all the criticism of what Norton wrote is based on a denial that antisemitism existed and played an enormous role in Western history, I wouldn't dream of denying it--I just don't think it is accurate to throw the accusation around in a careless fashion.

      I grew up as a Christian Zionist and I can tell you quite a few of us as teenagers read this book "the Hiding Place" a true story (or I assume so since I haven't checked) about a Christian Dutch family that hid Jews from the Nazis. These were the sorts of people we thought of as heroes. Now one thing about that which is not admirable about evangelicals is that we always seemed to know these stories where someone in our group was a hero--we weren't told about the darker side of our faith tradition. My father was amused by someone in his Sunday school class for adults who was shocked to discover that Calvin plotted to have Servetus come to Geneva so he could be tried and executed. And we never talked about the long history of Christian antisemitism, unless maybe we could blame it all on the Catholics. Though in more liberal churches we did talk about that. Anyway, my point is that I know some of this from the inside and yeah, some Christians are bigots about Jews--over my life I've heard a few examples. But some guy who thinks that the end times are near and who expects Israel to play a huge role and who expects Jews to convert to Christianity when they see the book of Revelation happening in front of them--well, he has a rather odd set of beliefs, but the chief victims of those beliefs are Palestinians, who only exist in that theology as the enemies of Israel and therefore of God, unless they choose to side with Israel.

      The beliefs could also be dangerous to Israeli Jews, if this alliance of rightwing Christians and Jews leads them to drive Israel right over a cliff.

    • Annie--I agree with all that. Interesting how several of us had similar reactions.

    • I agree that there is a 2000 year history of antisemitism, but it is unfair and inaccurate to accuse a Christian Zionist of antisemitism because he thinks everyone (and that means everyone) should become a Christian or face hell in the afterlife.

      The doctrine of hell has been the justification for many atrocities--heretics were seen as worse than murderers because their mistaken teachings would lead people to hell. So it seemed logical to jail or execute them. But I am not going to hold a modern day American fundamentalist who really does believe in freedom of religion responsible for the crimes committed by some Christians in the past.

      There are plenty of other reasons for being critical of rightwing Christianity and Christian Zionism. We don't need to invent any or attribute someone else's crimes to them.

    • You're right. Theologically conservative Christians usually think everyone who doesn't share their beliefs will end up in hell unless they get with the program. I had friends who thought baptism had to be by total immersion or you were going to hell. Some individual Christian Zionists may in fact be antisemitic based on other things they may happen to think, but this belief about who goes to hell isn't limited to Jews.

      This misuse of the term antisemitism is not helpful.. I have also seen it employed by liberal Christians of the sort Braverman criticized here recently. The idea was that we should feel sorry for the Israelis because they have these uncouth rightwing Christians supporting them. It's a cheap and easy politically correct way to blast the rightwing Christians and avoid talking about the real victims of Christian Zionist support for Israel-- the Palestinians.

  • The global arms race between the US and China is devastating Africa and the Middle East
  • Press can't justify red carpet for Oren tract and blackout for Blumenthal's 'definitive account' of Gaza
    • We might actually have more luck getting the media to pay attention to Palestinian writers, at least among the subset in the MSM that has a sense of fairness or shame. They can tell themselves that Shavit and Oren represent the mainstream political spectrum in Israel and that someone like Beinart is critical of Israel from an American Jewish perspective, but they can't get around the fact that they are ignoring Palestinian voices. Not that I think there is a legitimate excuse for ignoring Max, but the lack of Palestinian voices is a really easy argument to make.

  • Israel's real fear about the Iran deal: It puts pressure on the occupation
    • Many people, including Iranians or so I gather, are hopeful that this deal will weaken the power of the theocrats by allowing more people in Iran to prosper. The right-wingers in Iran thrive off having enemies, just as Netanyahu does. I welcome this agreement if it means they can no longer make excuses for their own repressive actions based on Western sanctions and hostility. I also welcome the end of the cruel sanctions, which you left off your list of things which hurt Iranians .

      But yes, Iran has a bad human rights record. This agreement may be a step towards bringing a better life for its people.

    • Fred Kaplan makes a point which isn't quite the same, but it's related. Basically, Israel and Saudi Arabia want Iran isolated forever. And more than that--he says they wanted us to fight their wars for them.

      link to

  • The people love the Iran deal -- to judge from 'NYT' letters
    • Some of your sarcastic criticism of Iran might be valid,, but some of it is misplaced--you seem to think Iranians are uneducated and you probably think that to the extent they are educated, women would be less so. I'm no expert, but this appears to be false.

      link to

      But in general your post is silly, since nobody praising the deal wants the U.S. to be run by theocrats. You'd probably find more of that attitude in the opponents of the deal.

      Maybe I have you confused with someone else, but I thought your sarcasm used to be smarter than it has been lately.

      Off topic, but while visiting the Intercept to get the link above I saw a story about Wikileaks--it appears that a document shows the Israelis assassinated a Syrian general in 2008.

  • Jews have replaced WASPs in foreign policy establishment-- Heilbrunn in NYT
    • The time of King David? Seriously? But okay, let's go with that. You must mean Nathan the prophet and all the other prophets who condemned the sins of their leaders and the rich in their own societies.

  • Michael Oren misrepresents 1971 synagogue bombing that changed his life
    • I was thinking of letting you froth a bit more, but I'll obey your orders and do what you refuse to do for yourself

      link to

      link to

      I think you know about the murderous attack on the Kansas City Jewish community center which killed three people none of whom happened to be Jewish. I think you know because of the weasel phrase concerning Jewish victims--sure, obviously there is nothing murderously antisemitic about an attack on a Jewish center which happens to kill non-Jews.

      Remind me to ignore all your posts in the future.

    • You didn't look very hard Giles. I found examples in a few minutes yesterday before you gave me your orders to do research for you.

      Incidentally, in my own googling I didn't stumble across any reference to the bombing Oren writes about, so I guess that one didn't happen either, or it's hard to find a complete list.

      So there have been firebombings and murderous attacks on Jewish places of worship in the U.S. just in the past few years, motivated by antisemitism. I don't know what your point is.

    • I agree that I am not in a position to say that there was no antisemitism where I grew up--in fact I heard two examples of it, both nearly identical in claiming that Jews were obsessed with money. What I can say is that anti-black racism was expressed hundreds of times more often.

      I would assume that some ( or many?) of the people I was around probably believed some stereotypes about Jews. If I were Jewish growing up where I did maybe I'd have some stories, but as a white Christian listening to other white Christians talk when no blacks or Jews were around nearly all the bigotry I heard expressed was aimed in one direction.

      Incidentally, I was an Islamophobe then to the extent I gave the subject any thought. After the oil embargo I thought of Israel and the U.S. united against those dastardly Arabs, plus I had also read The Late Great Planet Earth, which was about the whole end of the world theology everyone I knew seemed to believe in, including me. I rooted for the Israelis in 1973 . Plus along with a lot of people I had read Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place, about a Christian family in Holland which hid Jews from the Nazis. So I saw Jews as being the good guys along with us. I think that would have been the common view where I was. But no doubt one could believe this stuff and still harbor some stereotypes about Jews.

    • I just did my own googling and yes, law enforcement agencies say that they haven't found evidence that the recent black church burnings were racially motivated. I missed those stories--I had heard about a new rash of burnings of black churches. Now as for synagogues, in NJ there were two firebombings a few years ago, an attack in Sacramento in the 90's and I found a few other attempts where anti-Semites planned on bobming, but were caught, along with a fair number of vandalizations and the murders in Kansas a few years ago (though If I recall correctly, the murderer intended to kill Jews and hit non-Jews.)

      There. I have been your trained circus animal. Note, though, that I made a general comment that people who bomb or burn synagogues are generally anti-Semites, which seems to be true, and you came back with a demand that I jump through some hoops because you had never heard of any burned synagogue in the U.S. I guess you leave the hard work of googling to your inferiors.

    • Which MSM outlet says that the bombing of black churches isn't racial? Some Fox News types wanted to claim that the attack in Charleston was an attack on Christians and not on blacks. But your comment tends to reinforce my point, though I agree that where Kahane is involved there are other possibilities.

      As for your second comment, I looked on Wikipedia yesterday and found some attacks on synagogues in the U.S., something you could do for yourself if you were curious and not simply trying to get back at me. Internet squabbles aren't worth the time.

    • Well, usually when synagogues are bombed or burned, the perpetrators have something against Jews.

    • The bruised knuckles did sound like macho posturing from a future IDF soldier. Maybe he invented Krav Maga.

    • Why do you assume nobody has a problem bombing a synagogue? I condemn it, but that should be taken for granted.

      You are just desperate to have a talking point.

    • I'm going to assume it was most likely anti- Semites who bombed the synagogue-- if Oren is telling the truth about his childhood fist fights with anti- Semites ( and with Oren assuming truthfulness is a big assumption) I could see why he had a distorted view of the U.S. Maybe he really did grow up in a nasty area, like the Pine Bush school district that is in the NYT today.

      Where I grew up in the 70's I heard anti-black comments all the time-- I distinctly remember two anti- Semitic remarks during that same period when I probably heard hundreds of uses of the n word. The two examples of anti- semitism stood out for me because they were so rare, though I assume there was some casual anti-semitism around that was rarely voiced. People were reading Hal Lindsay and believed that Israel was under God's protection, so Christians were supposed to be on their side too.

  • Carter says Israeli rejection of 2-states forced US to withdraw as mediator 'for first time in modern history'
    • Any list that has Carter as one of the five worst Presidents, let alone the worst, is clearly idiotic. He wouldn't be on the top five either-- his record was mixed. His successor represented the reactionary trend in American politics at the time. Americans after Vietnam and Watergate wanted to be told how wonderful they were, and Carter didn't tell them what they wanted to hear. Reagan's comforting BS was more what they wanted for a President. Carter put solar panels on the White House. Reagan removed them. Carter was a lousy politician sometimes, but he had a much better sense of where the country needed to go.

      The worst thing about Carter was that, like all Presidents, he supported mass murderers in his foreign policy--notably in East Timor. But Reagan was much worse.

  • I believe I can make a difference in my lifetime
    • I don't think there is any other situation in the world where a small country practices apartheid while supported by a superpower whose politicians still echo blatantly stupid propaganda points defending it. I would say the Lobby and their Christian Zionist allies make this unique. They single out Israel for special support and praise and this has generated a reaction.

      Though that's just part of it. Israel is also a throwback to the 19th century days of Western settler colonialism, and that has gone out of style. Again, some other situations might have a higher body count, but Israel gets a bit more attention from some for the same reason apartheid SA got it. The South African apologists made the same complaint--why single out SA when some African dictatorships had a higher internal bodycount ? (I qualified that with the phrase internal, because SA was partly responsible for some massive civil wars in its neighbors.)

  • Hillary Clinton promises megadonor she will work with Republicans-- to oppose BDS
    • The "Israel is a vibrant democracy" phrase is one of those propaganda lines that works, at least for awhile, because people repeat it over and over again, so that it becomes conventional wisdom. It is nonsense for exactly the reason you say, but unless reporters start to push back on the phrase, it will fool people who don't follow the issue closely. Everyone will know that Israel is the good guy because it is a "vibrant democracy". Everyone says so.

      Stupid cliches work--I once had a smart friend of mine back in the 90's parrot a line from either the NYT or Madelaine Albright to the effect that Israel only demolished some houses while the Palestinians were terrorists, so there was no moral equivalence. He got his info from the NYT.

  • Michael Oren cannot hide his disrespect for Jewish Americans
  • A racist country with too much influence over US -- Israel's new image among Democrats
    • Doublestandard up thread asked a good question--who are the elites Luntz was polling? How did he single them out? Are they well-informed people on the subject? What are their beliefs on other subjects? But anyway, I think all of us on both sides would be interested in finding out.

    • Krauss, I think "lumpy" was a reference to Luntz, or anyway it makes more sense that way.

      It even crossed my mind it could be spell correcting software at work--I've had a lot of very creative corrections in some of my posts and emails since I started using an iPad.

    • I read that Webb announcement the other day and wondered whether his fan club here had seen it. Not that he has much of a chance anyway--he can grovel to the Lobby all he wants for all the good it will do him.

    • I agree that many Americans couldn't tell Iran from Iraq, which is why I wouldn't take their support for Israel too seriously--it is likely based on a mixture of ignorance, prejudice and propaganda.

  • Oren's demands make Israel's liberal apologists squirm
    • JPM linked to this piece in one of his Oren articles--

      link to

      It shows Oren was demonstrably and absurdly wrong on the facts in what he wrote about an argument he had with the NYT.

      JPM also talks about the Haiti thing, where again Oren got it wrong on basic facts. I think he is probably right that what that shows is Oren's sense (on Israel's behalf) of a massive sense of entitlement.

      I'm not explaining things very clearly here, but if you click on the link to Marshal's piece and then read some of his links you'll find it worth your time.

  • Episcopal Church rejects BDS resolutions citing fears divestment would hamper church in Jerusalem
    • Good for you then. I don't know his motives, but he might have good ones. I think your outrage should be aimed more at the American bishops though, particularly the ones who use the usual dialogue tripe which means nothing if Israel feels no pressure to change its behavior.

    • Page: 65
    • They talk about the long history of Christian antisemitism

      link to

    • You first, cigar God, if that is really your name.

      You seem so wrapped up in telling other people how they should die you neglected to notice the bishop might be concerned about the deaths of Palestinians in hospitals.

    • I googled a bit and my impression is that his focus, or at least one of them, is keeping the Anglican-run hospital in Gaza open because it treats a great many wounded people. If that is his motive, it's hard to blame him--the American bishops with their mealy mouthed platitudes are a different story.

    • I think hophmi is inadvertently on to something--the bishops probably didn't relish the prospect of being accused of antisemitism, so they took the easy way out and claim to support peace while actually endorsing the status quo.

      With some exceptions, church leaders tend to be politicians more than anything else.

    • I suspect this vote has more to do with fear of what it would do to interfaith dialogue in the U.S.-- the stuff about positive investment and peacemaking is rhetoric designed to offend as few people as possible. It will sound good to people who don't follow the issue closely.

  • Oren's memoir reveals Israel's elite is hyper-sensitive to U.S. criticism
    • "And no, Donald, I don’t think most Americans understand what has happened to Christians in the Middle East. I frankly don’t think they have a clue. "

      There are a large number of Americans who are clueless on virtually every subject, so that means nothing. I know a person who thought you needed a passport to go to New Mexico. I'm not joking. But among those who do know something about the outside world, yeah, I think almost everyone knows that Christians are persecuted in much of the world. When I was a kid this was taken for granted--just as Jews might be taught about the long history of anti-semitism, or so I gather, Christians are often raised on a diet of how Christians (or their particular variant) are persecuted. When I was young it was mostly about the communists, but if you ever bother to read Christian magazines you will constantly see articles about Islam and threats to Christians. Christian magazines on the right love that kind of story, the ones where Christians are the victims persecuted for their faith. The conservative ones often veer far away from the stories that are more controversial, about the US support for countries that hurt innocent people and no, I don't only mean Israel.

      People who don't know about this are also unlikely to be keeping close tabs on what 60 Minutes has to say about the Israeli oppression of Palestinians. It seems to upset you and Oren that they say anything at all.

      And no, I don't think that Palestinians in Israel would necessarily feel comfortable denouncing Israel to an American broadcast show--sure, some might, but many might not want the possible aggravation. And the idea that 60 Minutes wouldn't give protection to Palestinians who wanted to criticize the PA or Hamas anonymously doesn't pass the smell test. Also,contrary to popular belief, even in Gaza there are some people who run human rights organizations that criticize Hamas.

    • So do you think Christians in Gaza would not be critical of Israel? And do you think people in the U.S. don't know about the killings of Christians by radical Islamists in the Middle East? You just don't want Israel's crimes covered. And it is interesting that you think CBS wouldn't give protection to Palestinians who wanted to criticize their own society--got any evidence for that or did you just assume it? And while we are at it, would Palestinian citizens of Israel feel completely safe criticizing Israel to a foreign news group? Would they feel any pressure?

      And it is fascinating that you come to Oren's defense. Some liberal Zionist you are.

  • Oren's criticism of US Jews earns his book five thumbs down: 'slinky,' 'self-aggrandizing,' 'twists reality'
    • "If I did for Pakistan what Oren did for Israel, people would regard me as a traitor to the United States, e.g., move there, change my name, renounce my citizenship, join the military, fight the Indians at Kargil, serve as a spokesperson for the Pakistan Army, oppose human rights inquiries into the alleged human rights violations by the Pakistani government, describe reformers at home as “a unique problem,” and make Pakistani nationalism my life’s creed (attacking critics of that creed as racists). The taint of those actions would follow me like a cloud for the rest of my days.

      By contrast, when Michael Oren does it for Israel, he’s on the receiving end of adulation and awe for decades."

      Just wanted to say this was a really fascinating comment. Your whole subthread here was great. It ought to be a front page post.

    • Gotta give credit to Wieseltier--that last sentence about the Metropolitan Club was pretty damn funny.

      I was impressed by Ali Gharib--he needs to be in the MSM when this subject is discussed. Not likely, of course.

      Though that brings me to the negative side of all this--one of the effects of having someone like Friedman be attacked is that it enhances their credentials in the press. I've heard people in real life describe Friedman as pro-Palestinian, which is delusional, but the reason people think that is because some on the Zionist right hate the liberal Zionists--as Gharib says, they seem to dislike them almost more than they dislike the Palestinians, which is probably an exaggeration, but not by much. The spectrum of debate in the MSM in the U.S. goes from rightwing Zionist to liberal Zionist and not even very liberal Zionist, but just people like Friedman, except in a few places like the New York Review of Books, where they run pieces by Shulman ( who is very critical of Israeli behavior, to the point where I don't know what his ideological stance is).

  • UN report on Gaza war is 'tepid,' 'unserious' and exhibits 'anti-Muslim bigotry' -- Finkelstein
    • It's bigoted to leap to an ethnic explanation when someone disagrees with you for reasons I've explained twice. You brought up the ethnicity. Evidently you are so obsessed with it you cannot wrap your head around the notion that someone might have opinions about American war crimes that tie in with why the U.S. would oppose war crimes trials for Israelis. But I was interested in American war crimes before I knew about Israeli ones. I know, this must be impossible for you to understand.

      And when someone says something bigoted and stupid ( they go together), I think it is a mistake to pretend it wasn't bigoted and stupid

      And I'm sure that explaining all this to you was a complete waste of time, so this is my last comment on the subject.

    • "Can I assume that Donald and Hostage are, like Chomsky and Finkelstein, Jewish?"

      If you are an idiot and a bigot, sure, you can assume that. And it doesn't speak well of your reasoning abilities if you leap to an ethnic explanation when you see someone disagreeing with you. I'm not Jewish--I guess I needed to say that. Actually, I didn't, but I just hate to think of you sitting there thinking "Ah, that slippery Donald with his Celtic first name and Northern European last name is trying to weasel out of admitting his Jewishness."

      Look, it is possible to hold more than one thought in your head at the same time. sure, the Lobby does have great influence and I already said that--they are a huge part of the reason we support Israel. But, and here is where that second idea thing comes in, it Is also true that if Israeli officials are held to account for war crimes, it would set an extraordinary and long overdue precedent because Israel is a country widely perceived as Western, acting with American-supplied weapons and with American support. American officials have also committed war crimes. People have talked about Kissinger for decades as a plausible candidate, but there is also Bush and Obama's record with drone strikes is also seen as criminal by many. So even without the Lobby, the U.S. Government would be really reluctant to see Western officials tried for crimes not that different from some we have committed ourselves.

    • "Your argument makes no sense whatsoever."

      Nonsense. I think Finkelstein overstates his case and you are doing the same thing in the opposite direction. Yes, the Lobby has great influence, but it is also true what Finkelstein and Hostage say--obviously the U.S. does not want a precedent set where a Western country's officials can be held accountable for war crimes. The U.S. is, or so I understand, is legally obligated to investigate and prosecute its own high ranking officials for war crimes and yet we never do this-- to American officials the very idea is absurd. The last thing they want to see, short of our own officials being arrested, would be to see Israeli officials being arrested.

      Aiman's example of Iraq completely misses the point--to the U.S government, war crimes trials for our enemies ( or even former friends now labeled as enemies) are a useful propaganda tool for our foreign policy--the trial of Saddam's officials could be used as part of the justification for our Iraq invasion. I thought everyone understood this. And the trial of some African dictator not closely tied to us is also fine-- it fits in with the propaganda notion of a civilized West holding high moral standards while the tyrants who are either our enemies or at least not out close allies are monsters who need to be brought to justice.

  • 'Jewish cow' is udderly superior to all other cows in the world, Netanyahu says
  • BDS will keep Israeli tanks from moving and F15 from flying, Oren says
    • That is one of the strongest arguments for BDS that I have ever heard. Someone should thank Oren for a great talking point.

  • Leading NY writer likens Edward Said to monster in a horror movie
    • i read Orentalism a long time ago and most of it was over my head, as I wasn't familiar with much of what he wrote about. But his general point was obviously correct--he was talking about Eurocentric colonial attitudes. You would expect this from any culture which is in the process of conquering another. On the lowbrow level, I once read Michener's novel on Israel "the Source". It was Orientalism for the masses, complete with the claim that the Palestinian refugees all fled on orders from their leaders. The funny thing is that Michener was a liberal who usually would write sympathetically about indigenous people in his other books.

      And anyway, if Said was wrong on some details, it would hardly justify referring to him as a monster. I suspect that Rosen and Oren would prefer a cultural environment of the sort that on the low level produced the kinds of novels that Uris or Michener wrote.

  • Interview with a suicide bomber
    • What is so depressing about you jon s is that you sincerely see yourself as an honest liberal.

      And yes, both sides have committed atrocities--your side has committed many more, but it is fair to say both sides are guilty of crimes. But when you deny that you defend terrorism, you are lying to yourself. The IDF targeted homes in Gaza last summer and killed hundreds of civilians--they knew this was happening and they never stopped doing it. If it had happened once or twice one could imagine it was a mistake, quickly corrected, but it was clearly a policy.

  • UN report on Gaza war includes stories of civilian executions, attacks on ambulances and targeting of humanitarian facilities
    • For anyone who is curious, and I assume that is everyone here, Norman Finkelstein is busy showing what is wrong with the UN report (how they understated Israel's crimes) over at reddit

      link to reddit

    • One bit of propaganda that needs shooting down is the claim that the UN focuses mostly on Israel. I visited the website of the UN Human Rights Council about an hour ago and alongside the Gaza report, they have material on Syria, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Eritrea, the group Boko Haram and probably others I'm forgetting.

      But you see this all the time, thT the UN only talks about Israel.

  • 'NYT' article on UN's Gaza report strains to demonstrate equivalence in suffering
    • I didn't check to see I mine went through. In the past they posted some, but not all. But I have seen some really good comments from others go through, though the NYT never picks the best comments as its favorite-- they usually favor boring bland stuff along with defenses of Isael.

    • I haven't read it, but from what Jerome Slater says and fro what I just read at 972, I think maybe the problem is that the NYT accurately conveyed the attitude in the report. It may be the report itself which has the false balance ( not that I object to condemning Hamas crimes, but they simply aren't on the same level as Israel's) .

    • On the slightly positive side, they did allow comments on this article.

  • Cycles of violence only begin when Palestinians kill Israelis
    • I agree ( as you'd expect) . Within the U.S. at least, this is one of the crucial points. Hophmi sometimes says most Americans support Israel and I think the polls back him up, but one of the reasons for this is that Palestinians are always depicted as starting the violence and then Israel retaliates. I suspect that in some cases it's not even conscious deceit by the press (though most of it surely is at this point. ). Israeli violence is part of the daily background and you get spikes of extreme Israeli violence when they claim to be retaliating against a Palestinian attack. The Israelis make that decision, there is a mass slaughter of Palestinians, the Israelis claim it is in response to Palestinian attacks, and the press reports this . It becomes part of conventional wisdom and the media specializes in relying on conventional wisdom to convey stories, especially when powerful interests favor spinning it a certain way.

      I basically agree with Chomsky about how the press functions, but have often wondered how it works on the level of individual reporters and editors and publishers. Do they make conscious choices to not present certain facts that go against the storyline or is it just automatic unconscious socialization to think a certain way ? Probably the people who would rock the boat get tossed overboard.

  • Does Israel have a toxic personality? Ask Michael Oren
    • Yonah, Bryan gave part of the response I would have given--if we take the analogy back to the 19th century, white southerners were afraid of the Haitian slave revolt, which from what little I know turned genocidal on both sides,and they were afraid of Nat Turner style revolts, where women and children were murdered and if you bring it up to the present, white racists are also afraid of crime rates in the inner city. And not only racists-- my wife saw a fistfight escalate into an attempted shooting at her subway stop many years ago, so the fear of crime wasn't simply made up. Another friend of mine was mugged during the same period. Racists would ignore the larger social conditions and simply blame the group for being inherently violent.

      My point is that one can recognize that sometimes racists can point to actual dangers or violence committed by members of the hated group and sensible people still realize this doesn't justify racism or apartheid policies or war crimes or torture. I don't see the Israelis as uniquely evil, but they also aren't uniquely endangered and cthey have no special excuse for behaving like the white South Africans. Who, btw, also pointed to the extreme violence in some of the neighboring states as an excuse (in some cases like Angola and Mozambique they were partly responsible for that violence). Israelis are like racists everywhere and so the rationalization are also similar.

    • Israel's reaction to the BDS movement is what you'd expect from a society which practices apartheid and lies to itself about its own brutality and which sees itself as the victim no matter what the actual bodycount shows. It is hardly surprising that they also react badly to outside critics. White southern racists were similarly defensive when criticized--it's just the way people tend to be when they are guilty of something and don't want to admit it, even to themselves. Their victims deserve it and their critics all have bad motives.

    • There was a similar aura of negativity about South Africa and I don't doubt the apartheid supporters were equally negative about the apartheid critics. So yeah, it's not surprising.

      Max B's book seemed pretty consistent with Netanyahu's own evaluation of the Israeli electorate. Netanyahu thought a racist appeal would help him win and it seems he was right.

  • Israeli leader turns on US Jewish journalists Friedman, Wieseltier, Remnick and Silvers for disloyalty and anti-semitism!
    • I think that's correct--it's all about framing. I don't know if it will work--attacking Wieseltier as an anti-Semite is just so over-the-top it might backfire, but the general idea is probably just what you say it is. The liberal Zionists will feel pressured to demonstrate their love for Israel and people who aren't Zionists at all are tacitly assumed to be the equivalent of Nazis.

  • Obama violated US-Israeli understanding by not clearing Cairo speech and Iran talks with Netanyahu --Oren
    • That last paragraph about the Rudoren piece in the NYT was good--I was a little slow in piecing together the connection. So Rudoren read that book and said nothing about the Oren attack on Obama. Very interesting.

  • Obscure Netanyahu minister emerges as unsung international hero in latest 'NYT' report
    • Dumb comment, Hophmi. If you want to defend Rudoren's reporting, you could cite the piece she wrote a day or two ago

      link to

      Here she does cite the fact that a NYT reporter and others were eyewitnesses to the killing of the boys and what they saw didn't support the Israeli account. Good for Rudoren--she did her job, after an earlier report where she just cited the Israelis.

      A lot of your posts are like the one you wrote here--just nitpicking which doesn't even support whatever point you might want to make.

  • Jewish community must 'welcome' anti-Zionist, pro-BDS Jews, Beinart says-- but Shavit says, Excommunicate them
    • Caring about Israel could mean a lot of things--in a way, Phil cares about Israel. But I suppose most of the responders meant "supporting Israel" and quite possibly "supporting Israel no matter what they do". Anyway, I was struck by how low the numbers are--less than half and among the non-religious, all the way down at 23 percent.

  • After a hard week in the news, Israeli gets valentines all weekend from NPR
    • I agree with the human rights groups that the rockets are war crimes and I agree with Phil that Israeli stories should be reported, but as danger and drama go, this guy's rocket story is a lot less impressive than the stories you hear on the weather channel--hell, I personally have experienced situations that were probably more dangerous than being out in the open when a Hamas rocket was going to land somewhere. Admittedly in my stories it was my own damn fault--I got caught while running a mile from my parents' house when a derecho hit, for instance. That was exciting. My fault because I knew a squall line was approaching, but didn't know just how quickly.

      People run to storm shelters and basements all the time in the US (done that too) and the difference is that there really isn't anything one can do about severe thunderstorms and tornadoes except seek shelter, but if the Israelis don't like the rockets, they could try treating Palestinians like human beings. Instead, they treat them like animals and then complain when their children are endangered--at least when I went for a run with a cold front approaching I only endangered myself. Oh, another difference--tornadoes are vastly more dangerous than Hamas rockets. An individual tornado can do as much damage to a neighborhood as an Israeli military operation. My point is not that rockets are okay because tornadoes are worse, but just that the rocket danger is hyped and there is something the Israeis could do about it that doesn't involve killing 500 children.

  • 'NY Times' helps Israel whitewash the killings of four boys playing soccer on Gaza beach
    • Gonzo journalism isn't necessarily inaccurate and journalism which has the superficial stylistic features of objective journalism is often just propaganda. So I think we'd need a different pithy description to describe some of Rudoren's output. If we have to keep it clean it's a little tougher.

    • I just checked--no reader comment section on this article. Maybe I'm just missing them, but I haven't seen reader comments on I/P stories in a while now. I don't know if they have cut back on reader comments in general, but it is a very convenient policy, since people interested enough to read the story online could have also seen people pointing out the biases.

      When I get the chance in a few days I'll write Sullivan--I hope others do as well. It won't make any fundamental difference in NYT behavior, but they should know that readers are onto their crap. Though that might be why no comment sections on I/P stories lately ( assuming I'm right about their recent absence).

  • Jeffrey Goldberg has never faced 'pundit reckoning' for pushing Iraq war
    • The Goldberg pieces on Hezbollah are worse than depicted. Here's a paragraph on what Goldberg calls their propaganda at the former Israeli/SLA torture center at Khiam, which was a museum then (later destroyed by Israel in the 2006 war according to wikipedia). Notice that Goldberg is much more interested in making fun of the Hezbollah captions than he is in telling his readers whether there is evidence for what the captions say.


      The centerpiece of Hezbollah’s propaganda effort in the South is the former Al-Khiam prison, a rambling stone-and-concrete complex of interconnected buildings, a few miles from the border, where I stopped on the way to Kfar Kila. For fifteen years, the prison was run by Israel’s proxy force in Lebanon, the South Lebanon Army, with the assistance of the Shabak, the Israeli equivalent of the F.B.I. Prisoners in Al-Khiam—which held almost two hundred at any given time—were allegedly subjected to electric-shock torture and a variety of deprivations. The jail has been preserved just as it was on the day the Israelis left. There are still Israeli Army-issue sleeping bags in the cells. Hezbollah has added a gift shop, which sells Hezbollah key chains and flags and cassettes of martial Hezbollah music; a cafeteria; and signs on the walls of various rooms that describe, in Hezbollah’s terms, the use of the rooms. “A Room for Investigation and Torturing by Electricity,” reads one. “A Room for the Boss of Whippers.” “A Room for Investigation with the Help of the Traitors.” And “The Hall of Torturing-Burying-Kicking-Beating-Applying Electricity-Pouring Hot Water-Placing a Dog Beside.” A busload of tourists, residents of a Palestinian refugee camp outside Beirut, were clearly in awe of the place, treating the cells as if they were reliquaries and congratulating the Hezbollah employees.


      Here is what Human Rights Watch had to say about Israel and Khiam in 1999.

      link to

  • Munayyer and Beinart's historic debate on the solution to the conflict
    • Oh, obviously because I have a deep and passionate love for Peter Beinart--I worship the very ground he walks on.

      When I watch a debate the only points that interest me are the ones that aren't transparently stupid. That's true on other subjects too--it is or should be common sense, though maybe in politics people prefer to focus on their opponent's weakest point. The claim is that the two sides have incompatible desires--if true that would be a problem. Beinart thinks the idea of a 1ss with equal rights for all is unattainable--if he's wrong on this his entire position collapses. If he is exaggerating then it would be good to hear the rebuttal. I can't recall Beinart making any other argument against a 1ss that was worth thinking about, though maybe I'm forgetting something.

    • Just finished watching--it was a much better discussion than anything one sees in the MSM on this subject.

      Beinart's strongest argument is on the problems a 1ss would have, so if I have a criticism or suggestion it would be that they should have spent most of the time debating that. I would have liked to have heard a detailed rebuttal.

  • Gaza’s al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades prepares for next Israeli war
    • "we all know israel didn’t ‘withdraw and was greeted w/rockets’. that’s finely tuned propaganda we’ve been hearing repeatedly for years. can’t you tell hasbara central to come up w/more myths for us to debunk? "

      I wonder if he's aware that it is BS? People who follow the issue more closely than what appears in the MSM know that it is BS, but I constantly see people online using that "Israel withdrew and got rockets" argument. Politicians use it too, I think, though I can't remember offhand if Obama has used it. It's one of those cliches that is used so often in the mainstream that many people probably think it is factual--the Big Lie technique strikes again. I even saw someone the other day claim that Israel doesn't retaliate. Nothing about farmers and fishermen getting shot, nothing about the blockade imposed on both imports and exports and people themselves prevented from traveling outside. Just Israel withdrew and they got rockets.

    • "you are right and Israel was about to use nuclear weopens against Egypt and Syria in 1973 if it wasnot for the American intervention"

      I've read that somewhere, but can't remember where.

      Anyway, this meme (and DeBakr isn't the first) that Israel shows restraint as proven by the high death toll in Syria is, well, stupid. I can't even imagine what Israel would do if faced with Islamist rebels who were killing tens of thousands of IDF members and threatening to wipe out Jews. Do people who come up with these arguments ever give two seconds of thought to what they are saying?

    • Jon s, if you want to talk about Hamas violations of the rules of war, then fine, but then you've got to stop making excuses for Israel's much larger violations. Why did they target family homes, for instance? Is it really so important to kill one or two alleged Hamas people if entire families get wiped out? Would the same rule apply to Israel? I gather there are important military headquarters in Tel Aviv. If Hamas could aim its rockets within a several block radius, would it be okay for them to launch a few thousand (assuming they could do that as well) and destroy it, along with ten times as many civilian bystanders?

      Israel used howitzers in urban areas and again from what I've read, it's impossible to aim howitzers very precisely, so they are inherently indiscriminate weapons.

      It'd be nice if you showed some indication that you'd read and absorbed some of the reports put out by human rights groups about both sides. And look at the numbers killed. Numbers matter.

    • "The more one examines your argument, the more absurd it becomes. It implies moral failure on the part of the weak for not having better weaponry or more to the point, that morality is proportional to the military capabilities of the state. One could argue you’re justifying military aggression so long as the state in question can guarantee the safety of it’s citizenry."

      Well, it certainly is absurd when you start invoking things I didn't say and don't think. I already said I think Israel is vastly more guilty, so in effect what I said was that immorality is proportional to the military capabilities of the state, the exact opposite of your reading.

      I have less interest in these long online arguments than I used to, where people get mad and start reading into other people's remarks things which are the opposite of what they think. Where a disagreement about one point is blown up into something 1000 times bigger, because it makes it easier to "win" an argument if your opponent is REALLY saying something completely different from what he says he is saying. And I really have no interest in refuting an 8 point manifesto, imperfect analogies, or any of the rest of this.

    • DeBakr--if Hamas were fighting Israel and had a real chance of overthrowing the Israeli government, then the death toll Israel would inflict would match or exceed anything else in the Mideast. The Syrian death toll is extremely high because the various rebel groups have inflicted tens of thousands of deaths on Asad's military forces. How do you think Israel would react to a comparable threat? I'm not defending Asad's human rights record, which is horrific, but just pointing out what is missing in your comparison.

    • Since I don't in fact think the Palestinians are anywhere near as guilty as the Israelis in committing atrocities, and I see this conflict as one of Israeli oppression of a much weaker Paalestinian side, you are apparently misreading me. Yonah can speak for himself.

      I can understand why Palestinians, especially young men, would favor shooting back at the Israelis, but it doesn't work. If they could win their freedom with weapons, then yes, they have the right to do it, but the fact is that rocket fire accomplished nothing. In saying this I am not saying that the Western focus on rocket fire is right or just--it is in fact deeply hypocritical given that Israel regularly kills more civilians in peacetime. That doesn't make the rocket fire a sensible idea.

      The Palestinians have no way to defend their people militarily. They can kill some Israeli soldiers, but they can't stop air strikes or artillery barrages.

    • They've tried violent resistance too--it fails. The rockets do nothing to weaken Israel's ability to hurt Palestinians. BDS might work.

    • Okay, I'm putting this comment where it belongs. Yonah, I think that is a fair point.

    • Cuts both ways Jon S. Everyone in Israel involved in supporting or defending settlements is a cowardly monster or whatever epithet you want to use. Everyone who defends the actions of the IDF last summer, as you do, is endorsing the killing of children. Everyone who pretends the death toll was due mainly to Hamas's tactics, as you do, is being dishonest about war crimes.

      I wish the Palestinians would give up violent resistance, but it is hypocritical for Westerners to say this as though we are in a morally superior position when we aren't. Hamas is within its rights to shoot at invading Israeli soldiers--I agree with AI that the rockets were wrong. Israel keeps Gazans in prison, shoots at civilians on a regular basis in peacetime, and then you act shocked that some Gazans want to shoot back.

    • I'm happy to accept Amnesty International's judgment in the rockets. So do you accept their judgment on Israel's crimes? You've already started out by hoping that the Israelis murder Daniel Cohen, so of course your citation of Amnesty International is just opportunism.

    • I guess the idea of letting the comment be published is that you give the person some leeway so that they discredit themselves. We now know exactly where FirstWorld stands on terrorism-- he or she is for it.

      On the other hand, let too much of this go through and the comment section becomes a cesspool.

    • You're right that indiscriminate fire against civilians is a war crime. You don't dispute that Israel does it too, so maybe you'd support ICC prosecution of both Israelis and Palestinians who do this?

      But probably not, since you call for the targeted assassination of the reporter who wrote this piece.

      BTW, is there anything in the comment rules about hoping that a poster be murdered? I don't recall the issue ever coming up until now.

  • Obama says peace talks are pointless because Netanyahu won't see the 'best' in others
    • If we only criticize Republicans and never Obama, it gives the impression that Obama's position is our position. Being accurate would mean criticizing the Republicans more, but also Obama to the extent his words and actions deserve it. I think they deserve some criticism no matter what his real beliefs might be, but sure, we should give whatever credit is due him.

    • "Obama is constitutionally incapable of doing something he thinks is wrong"

      Wow. I seriously don't understand how anyone could believe this about any politician.

    • Well, if we want to change people's attitudes then part of that will involve criticizing Obama for not going far enough. Even if Obama really is a super-liberal in his heart (and I really don't believe this), we should still criticize him for not going far enough. It's fine to say he couldn't go further even if he wanted to (I'm not sure about that) , but the last thing we want is for Obama's center-left Zionist statements to be defined as the progressive position.

      This reminds me of numerous other issues--the size of the stimulus package, to take one. I agree it was as big as he could have gotten. But it wasn't big enough, as Krugman said at the time and liberals should have been screaming this, because the Republicans would claim that the resulting slow growth was because stimulus was a bad idea.

    • I think there is also some political naïveté in those who defend Obama on this and other issues. I think Obama is much better than Bush, but that is setting the bar low. His drone assassination program and the way his Administration has gone after whistleblowers is enough to tell me he isn't all that progressive on foreign affairs. He is not a demon, but he's also not the imaginary secret friend that so many Obama lovers wanted him to be.

      On this issue I think he is a liberal Zionist--he might know better, having been friends with Ali Abunimah and Rashid Khalidi, but if he wanted to rise in the political world he couldn't ever hint that he agreed with them. So in practice, whatever he might say to Michelle when the doors are closed, he is a liberal Zionist and not one like Jerry Slater, but more like Tom Friedman. He has been dissed and bullied and humiliated by Netanyahu and the Lobby for years--since Netanyahu overplayed his hand by working too closely with Republicans in Congress, Obama has gotten angry. I think that is what this is. If Herzog and Livni were in power, Obama would be more than happy to go back to the never-ending peace process and any pressure applied would be placed on the Palestinians to make concessions.

      But anyway, even if Obama is a secret anti-Zionist Mondoweiss commenter, it's not our job to give him credit for good intentions. Our job is to point out that his words are a mixture of good and bad, and his actions include the continued arming of Israel. It's fine to point out that maybe he is doing the most he could--I'm not sure of that but suppose it is true. Then it is our role to say this isn't good enough.

  • Goldberg predicts 'civil war' between American and Israeli Jews as Israel is 'defined as an apartheid state'
  • 'NYT' says blockade of Gaza is justified by need to defend Israel from tunnel attacks
    • Forgot to add that this falls under the shooting and crying genre, though in this case it is blockade and cry. The NYT writes a piece which they can claim shows the suffering in Gaza, but they leave out details which can't be blamed on Hamas, like the shooting at civilians, and they blame everything else on Hamas and to a lesser extent the PA.

    • They also "forgot" to mention the attacks on fishermen and farmers. But they did manage to cite the German official who said that the blockade won't be lifted until Gaza is no longer a platform for rockets.

      The NYT is just a sick joke on this subject.

  • ‘They said we drink the blood of children’—Netanyahu goes off the deep end after FIFA campaign
    • Old geezer--I agree with your math (I didn't check the specifics but I did a similar calculation myself last year) but wouldn't say the Syrian government deserves any kind of pass. But it is true that when the numbers are examined it makes a mockery of Israel's claim that it fights humanely--there is a lower percentage of women and children dead in Syria, for example. But the brutality on both sides is on a much larger scale in Syria. I would say though that if the Israelis had a genuine fear of being conquered by any group of Palestinians, let alone a group like Isis, it is hard to imagine what they would do in response. The same is true of the U.S. Any genuine existential threat and we would reach for the nukes.

    • I looked--here's a NYT story from last year detailing what the head of the UN human rights organization Navi Pillay had to say about Syria in her last days in office--

      <a href="link to;

      Incidentally, death toll is incredible and it has dropped out of the news lately, mainly, I suppose, because of ISIS gains in Iraq. Everyone should be talking more about Syria, though what the solution is I have no idea myself, but Netanyahu just wants to use it as a distraction from the 500 children he killed in Gaza last summer.

    • In the past several years every time I've seen someone claim the UN human rights council ignores virtually everything except Israel and pays no attention to Syria, say, I always go visit their front page website. I've probably done this about ten times. In my recollection, there's been something about Syria every single time. Today, there is also something about Gaza. Usually when I've checked there was nothing on the front page about Israel, but today there is. And a lot of things about other bad actors.

      The idea that the UN has ignored Syria is idiotic. It's a flat lie. Now they haven't been able to do anything about it, but they have certainly condemned what is going on there.

      Link to UN Human Rights

      And here's a link to some of what the UN has said about Syria. I suppose calling Netanyahu a liar is like calling the sky blue on a clear day, but anyone who bothers to read the NYT will have seen numerous stories over the past few years about UN reports on Syria. Netanyahu and other liars I've seen online simply say this because in their minds it has to be true that the UN never criticizes anyone but Israel. They repeat it so often it becomes a fact in their own heads, so maybe they aren't consciously lying but believe their own bull crap.


  • 'New York Times' cites Palestinians as 'demographic' threat
    • There is a subtle contradiction in your post, Sibiriak. Yes, taken in isolation Rudoren could say she is simply reporting the views of Israeli Jews, but as you also point out, a great many people just assume the same thing--they don't reflect on how claiming Israel has the right to be a Jewish state means that Palestinians had no right not to be expelled. Or rather, some have never thought about it and others deliberately avoid the subject. Rudoren is behaving this way, adopting the viewpoint.. A journalist reporting on the Israeli Jewish pov should take care to report the Palestinian view that expelling them from their homes was immoral. Otherwise it is just a subtle endorsement of a viewpoint that is extremely common in the U.S. , especially among politicians and people who get most of their info from mainstream sources like the NYT that have this bias.

    • Yeah, I can sympathize with the fear of terrorist attacks. What I can't sympathize with is the stupid narcissistic hypocrisy of thes so called disillusioned leftists who pretend not to know that Israel was killing civilians in large numbers before the suicide bombing campaign began.
      And that bad as that campaign was, the Israelis consistently killed more civilians at every stage.

    • I read the Guardian piece about B'Tselem. Nothing new really. We knew the terrorist attacks on Israelis during the Second Intifada turned many liberal Zionists into people who don't care how many Palestinian civilians they killed. I didn't see a single recognition that the Palestinian civilian death toll was higher during the Second Intifada. And unfortunately the piece itself said nothing about this fact either. I momentarily thought of sending a link to this piece to a friend, but decided against it. It does show (what we have all heard many times) that the so-called Israeli left mostly died because of the terrorism, but without pointing out that at every moment in the conflict Palestinian civilians were being killed in larger numbers, even before the suicide bombing began. I think my friend would actually think his views were validated by what the former liberals say in the Guardian piece.

      In other words, even this report, interesting as it was, had too much false balance. Yes, we should know what the Israelis say, but the numbers don't lie and the numbers tell us who does the vast majority of the civilian killing.

  • 'Heart-wrenching, harrowing, transfixing' -- NYT needs to end blackout on Blumenthal
    • Aiman, it's been awhile since I read The Lemon Tree, but what I remember is that it talks about the Holocaust and then it tells the truth about the Nakba. I didn't read it as justifying the expulsion of the Palestinians, but as condemning it, but maybe I should reread it. It impressed me a lot at the time as the work of someone who wrote about Israelis and Palestinians in a fair way--one could empathize with Jewish refugees fleeing Europe without endorsing what Zionists did to Palestinians.

      Yonah, I think your friend should be able to read MaxB's description of what Israel is like while rejecting whatever you or she would find objectionable in his attitudes. We all do this with various writers. But again, there are other writers you or she could read who are as critical of Israel while still holding strongly to some form of Jewish identity--not that I am any kind of expert on that topic.

    • I should add that I don't personally find MaxB offensive, but yes, there are others one might recommend first, like Charles Manekin, before people are ready for Max.

      And anyway, some are beyond reach. Sandy Tolan's book The Lemon Tree is very empathic to both sides, but when I last looked at the Amazon reader comments many Zionist readers hated him and claimed the book was riddled with errors.

    • I think you are underestimating people, Yonah. I read a lot of people who I disagree with on some issues. I'm excited by politicians like Warren and Sanders even if I think their views on the I/P conflict are backward. They are good on other issues.

      Charles Manekin over at Magnes Zionist might be the type of person you'd find congenial --I like him myself. But I don't think he'd be bothered by MaxB. I prefer the Manekin approach myself, but if MaxB is accurately conveying what Israel is like, we don't have the luxury of ignoring him.

  • Corey Robin revisits Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem
    • I have a different question, Annie. Is the rule about justifying or denying the Nakba no longer in force?

      I suppose if that is the case we can look forward to the comment section attracting people like neggy defending the slaughter of innocent Palestinians because other Palestinians murdered Jewish civilians And then maybe we'll get people who actually defend terrorist attacks on Jewish civilians the way neggy justifies the Nakba and wishes Ben Gurion had been less merciful. Neggy would be happy. And you can see that's where he wants to go. The only way one can defend the Nakba, other than denying it happened, is to claim that this group of innocent people over here can be murdered because that group of innocent people over there were murdered. Get people to argue about which set of murders is justified.

      To me this seems like trolling.

    • Neggy is just another partisan who uses morality when it helps his position and ignores it when it does not. He is also pompous in a way I've occasionally seen before, always from someone defending some form of Western violence against civilians. I'm curious about where this style comes from.

    • No, I understood you just fine. You have a tribal morality--you imagine one side in a given conflict as "good" and the other as "evil" and you justify collective punishment for members of the "evil" side. You were clear about this in the first post. The Confederate analogy was also clear-- there's no connection in moral terms between the Palestinian case and the Confederate one, but you wanted to invoke it anyway.

      But once you invoke the notion of collective punishment, pretty much all of morality is a joke. It's just a matter of who is stronger--the moral talk is just gibberish, or maybe propaganda for people weak-minded enough to want to justify atrocities in moral terms, rather than simply saying we do this because we can.

    • You seem to be replying in part to some other post. That seems a little weird. But anyway, you make it clear that you do support ethnic cleansing and defend it by quoting Sherman on his lack of sympathy for Confederate slave owners while condemning us for not spending time condemning the actions of Czechs which don't personally bother you.

      I'm enjoying this.

  • The grotesque injustice of Obama's speech at the Washington synagogue
    • It's hypocritical for an American President to condemn Hamas violence against civilians and say nothing about the much greater Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians, especially when America helps arm Israel. I wouldn't expect a politician to be honest in these circumstances, but that doesn't mean we should give him a pass.

      And my views of Israel's human rights record come mainly from other sources, not MW. Nobody cites MW as a primary source on such issues. There are these organizations called human rights groups which investigate such things.

    • "However the fact that this latest speech is detested by the likes of us while seeming, I’m sure, perfectly sensible and all in a day’s statesmanlike work to the huge majority of people, just shows what a bunch of misfits and moral oddballs we still are, making visible progress only in universities, which aren’t normal places. "

      Most people probably paid no attention to this speech at all. Anyone who did was a misfit no matter what position they took on it. Some probably thought it was moving--liberal Zionists, for instance, might have thought so, as they seem to be the targets. More Likudist types thought it was Obama trying to pull the wool over their eyes. Some might have thought it was smart politics and some might have thought it was pandering, and some might have thought it was both at the same time, because those sometimes go together.

      I could well understand those who think it was smart politics, pandering, and also disgusting, because that's how I see it. I'm not sure about the smart politics, but it probably is. Obama is a successful politician and he probably knows his business, or has people advising him who know it.

    • You've made similar points before and you might be right, but in a way it is irrelevant what Obama's private motives are. We should point out that what he actually said was unfair and if enough people point this out, it would provide cover for Obama or some other politician to be more truthful.

    • Hophmi, those ties might explain why Obama pandered to his audience, but doesn't excuse it. And you're not even trying to excuse it. Good.

      JWalters makes a more interesting point below--not sure I agree, but Obama must know how hypocritical his speech is and I wonder what it would take for him to be honest

  • JVP to Obama: 'Shared values' means opposing Israel's systematic discrimination against non-Jews
    • There is an updated version of the post where the derogatory comment about the Palestinians is being reported as an attempt to reach out to American Jews who see Palestinians as bad actors. How very sensitive and inclusive of him.

      No mention of how Palestinian-Americans might feel.

    • I don't think you have to worry about the U.S. Invading, bombing, or supporting a coup in Israel.
      I'm not sure what JWalters means exactly, but probably not any of that.

      I do think his speculation is interesting. Obama knows perfectly well what the Palestinians have suffered, but he always stays inside the liberal Zionist comfort zone, and even within that category he is nowhere near as liberal as, say Jerome Slater. But he says several things in this speech which he has to know could be taken as criticisms of Israel--he mentions the treatment of the Native Americans as examples of American crimes. I don't think we should letObama off the hook, but I remember how he opposed gay marriage until it was safe to favor it.

    • Yeah. the NYT left out the tribe and easy partner comments. To be fair, I suspect the NYT editors might not even see the problem with those lines.

    • "And as an honorary member of the tribe"

      Interesting choice of words. So why should Palestinians trust him to be an honest broker?

      "The Palestinians are not the easiest of partners." (Laughter)

      Yeah, and these are the liberal Zionists he is pandering to with that BS.

      And the stuff about what Israel was meant to be--this is the President not so much denying the Nakba but simply pretending to believe Israel started out as a liberal democracy for all and is now backsliding.

      I think the NYT left out the more offensive comments, but I'll go back and check.

  • Obama equates Israel's creation to African-Americans gaining right to vote
    • I'm no expert on the real level of antisemitism in Europe--my impression is that it is a real threat in Hungary, but in places like France we're talking about terrorism, which is bad, but it's not like the society sides with the terrorists. If anything, the society seems more against Muslims.

      But anyway, people in the US could talk openly about what happened in order to establish a Jewish state, but this is usually left for historians and bloggers. Obama completely dodges the issue and pretends that the only possible motive anyone could have for opposing a Jewish state would be antisemitism, which is flatly dishonest. Apparently Palestinians are anti-semitic if they oppose their own ethnic cleansing. Obama can't come out and say that, so he ends up stating things which are self-contradictory. I actually think JWalters above may have a point--Obama might have chosen his words carefully, so that he can't be accused of hostility to Zionism, while at the same time criticizing to some degree what Israel does to the Palestinians. He's a politician above all other things and someone who opposed gay marriage until the polls changed.

  • Sheesh: A conservative response to the special relationship
    • "Or Israel is doing what every other nation always does – engaging in the practice of diplomacy by trading one thing for another, in this case, criticism of the Iran deal for more strategic support."

      This is exactly what I expected to happen back when it seemed Phil thought the Iran deal (if it comes off) meant the Lobby was knocked back on its heels. Well, it was, for a moment, but the obvious next move for them was to make use of the situation. Obama wants his Iran deal, so he's going to have to pay.

      He will also have to pander to the Lobby to make up for the spat with Netanyahu, though there he still says there should be a 2SS. But he's not really going to push for it, so far as I can tell and in the meantime Israel gets more weapons it can use on Gaza or Lebanon.

  • Hundreds of academics call on State Dept to revise its definition of anti-Semitism, respect criticism of Israel as protected speech
    • Israel is portrayed as a wonderful democracy worthy of the support which amounts to bootlicking by our political class. Their crimes are our crimes. Your claim that Israel is singled out is true-- it is singled out for praise within the U.S.

      And again, I see no important difference between AI, HRW, and the others. HRW's depiction of Israel's behavior is more or less in line with what most critics of Israel would say.

      Your 5 percent and 95 percent figures are ludicrous, as are your analogies involving Cheney, so I won't waste any further time on this thread.

    • I've not noticed any significant difference between human rights groups and what they say about Israel. They all (including HRW and the Israeli groups) are attacked by people who claim they are biased against Israel, but this is true of virtually every group they criticize. Reality has a well-known bias against governments that violate human rights, including Israel.

      I don't care what pro-government groups would say--there are always people willing to support whatever a government does, if they support that government, and so if one is interested in the rights of innocent civilians, you will read what human rights groups have to say about what has happened and what the relevant laws happen to be. We get the pro-government point of view in the mainstream press anyway, at least in the case of the US, Israel or its other allies. The rules of war are to some degree written to favor governments in the first place, and you will find people on the left who say this actually makes the human rights groups (including AI) too easy on countries like Israel.

      And I just did a quick check to make sure my memory was correct--AI also criticized both the PA and Hamas in their latest annual report, including for not investigating possible crimes against humanity in firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel.

    • Human Rights Watch does all that and ends up accusing Israel of war crimes. B'Tselem does that, Amnesty International does that, and so on. They also write reports criticizing Israel's enemies. It's the Israel defenders who react vehemently when the human rights groups hold Israel to the common standard.

    • Maybe we should support the State Dept. definition. Look at the double standards of people who support Israel when it does things they'd condemn if someone else did them. Soft bigotry of low expectations.

  • What if the Times had sent Rudoren to Selma in 1965?
    • Plants didn't invent photosynthesis, JeffB. Some form of bacteria did. But I didn't realize you'd actually used this example and you think it's a nice valid social Darwinian way to justify Israel's behavior. I really can't parody you. Maybe I should have gone with the photon ionization of neutral atoms ethical dilemma I imagined typing about, but it seemed too over the top, too strained, too ridiculous and cutesy. Maybe I was wrong.

    • Thanks bintbiba. I love the phrase "short faced bear" and have decided to use it in all applicable conversations. Fortunately with JeffB and his morality posts, literally anything and everything is applicable. I thought of including comments on the ionization energy of hydrogen, the Turing test, plate tectonics, and Tolkien's linguistics in LOTR, but life is short,as are the faces of short faced bears, so I went with them.

      Impressive animals, btw. I wish they were still around. I doubt humans armed with pointy sticks took them on directly.

    • Catalan, get a grip. The sarcasm is not to say that human- caused mass extinctions are a trivial issue, but that JeffB will use any argument at all to distract attention from Israel. I read Kolbert's book The Sixth Extinction recently--quite depressing.

      I lose track of the positions of some of the posters here. Are you a JeffB ally playing along with his distraction attempt?

    • In keeping with my own challenge, I have already responded to the plight of the Visigoths with the sad examples of the Neandertals, mastodons, and short-faced bears. But now I'm thinking even the latter is too anthropocentric. It's the typical lefty response--blame humanity first. But what about what the placental mammals did to the marsupials in SouthAmerica when the Central American land bridge went up? And what happened to the anaerobes when photosynthesis was invented? Heh? What about that? Any of you so called social justice warrior types have anything to say?

    • That's fine MHughes and I agree, but you do realize that someone bringing up the Franks and Visigoths in this context is a kook, don't you? I really do agree with you, but your post is an example of an Internet phenomenon--there is no troll that ever goes hungry, because some well-meaning person will come along and think about how awful it was that the Vikings raped and pillaged villages a thousand years ago and how some conflicts and abuses really do drag on for centuries, at least in some cases. I thought of American slavery myself, but didn't bring it up because we could go off on 50 different tangents, and also because some of us realize there is a direct continuation of the original crime going on now. I did bring up the ur-example of all such cases--the apparent genocide of the Neandertals, though apparently not complete since there are some bits of the Neandertal genome in some of us.

      JeffB is not trying to have a serious discussion of all possible historical cases of oppression and when one should be concerned about them and when not. He is engaged in an idiotic attempt at distraction involving, among other things, the freaking Visigoths. As it happens his idiocy has inspired some interesting responses from tree and others, but no, we don't have to call into question the basic moral foundations of the pro-Palestinian movement because JeffB can pick some random atrocity from 1500 years ago and call us hypocrites.

      But hey, let's extend it even further. Why limit this to humans? Some say the megafauna extinctions at the end of the Pleistocene were caused by Homo sapiens. How can we possibly criticize the Nakba when we say nothing about the poor mastodons, the saber toothed cats, and the short faced bears? And it is important--people really do get upset over the question of whether Native Americans actually caused a mass extinction. But I don' think it is necessary to respond to a troll trying to excuse Israel's crimes with a thousand page discussion of every ethical issue that has ever come up. But if we are going to do this let's have some fun with it. Is it possible to parody JeffB or are his examples already as ridiculous as it is possible to get?

    • "You aren't remotely consistent in your views"

      Coming from you JeffB, that means nothing at all. You are often interesting when you're talking about something besides morality.

    • Echo--

      It's silly to argue about this, since Palestinians are the ones lacking basic human rights, but since you wish to talk about some hypothetical universe where Palestinians had all the power and decided who got to stay, I would be opposed to the forcible expulsion of Israeli Jews from Israel-- two wrongs don't make a right.

    • I agree you can't do reparations for the Holocaust, But if survivors or their descendants want the art works, they should get them. But no, Palestine is not reparations for the Holocuast, except in the sense that guilty Westerners allowed Palestinians to pay the price for Western sins.

      As for draining swamps, I already said to someone else that I don't want to expel Israeli Jews. It is, of course, disingenuous and inaccurate to claim that all of Palestine was a hellhole until the Zionists came--if we redid history without Western imperialism there would still be railroads built and technological advances and trade in all the places where people of European descent came--it would have happened in a different way, there would have been different politics and struggles and forms of oppression and so on, but to imagine that Zionist improvements made it okay to expel the Palestinians is nonsense.

      And your attempt to make universal morality into something absurd is an evasion. I'm not going to waste any more time with you on this, because no sane person would treat the ongoing issue of Palestinian rights with some idiotic comparison to what might or might not have been done to Jews 2000 years ago. You're just playing sophomore level games and I'm not interested in playing along any further.

    • The point about the stupid uncouth words is that liberals are sometimes guilty of stereotyping in how they judge who is or is not a racist. But in reality racists can be highly educated and intelligent people. They may even be secular liberals on most subjects. It is easy for liberals to mock the rednecks and the fundamentalists, even educated ones, but bigoted Israel supporters are often secular liberals, members of one's own tribe, and on top of that if you criticize them they will call you an anti-Semite. Consequently we have these discussions where the Israel supporters go on the offensive, calling the critics of Israel "anti-Semites"' when they are the ones who defend a country which practices apartheid and commits war crimes.

    • Echo-- I don't agree. If Israelis want to emigrate, fine, but they have been there for generations now, many came as refugees or in good faith, not necessarily intending to oppress anyone under laws which allowed them to move there. I think it's a really bad idea to start assigning collective guilt to groups and then saying people lose the right to live in the land where they and a few generations of their ancestors were born. Also, if we claim to support a 1ss with equal rights for all and then start saying Israeli Jews have no right to live in Israel, then we are contradicting ourselves.

      The settlers in the WB are a different case--they are people who have consciously chosen to benefit fro apartheid going on right now. And of course it is wrong that any Jew anywhere has the right to live in Israel when Palestinians don't.

    • "If there is some obligation to reverse settlement that passes through generations then those 1 generation removed and those 100 generations removed are equal."

      This is bull and you know it. But let me have some fun with it. Go back 20 generations and theoretically, ignoring inbreeding, I have one million ancestors. Go back 30 and it would be a billion, which is probably more people than were alive 30 generations back. So inevitably there is inbreeding as generations pass, but obviously if you go back 100 generations, if you have any ancestors from a given region you are probably related to virtually everyone in that region back then. I've joked before that probably half of my ancestors oppressed the other half. Go back further and people of European descent are about 4 percent Neandertal, or so I've read. So I should claim I have been driven out by those dastardly Cro-Magnon genocidal killers and take Europe back on behalf of my Neandertal ancestors.

      There are no serious moral claims regarding events that occurred that long ago because the world has changes so much in the intervening millennia. There are moral claims regarding events that happened within a few generations, especially if the original conditions still prevail. Without claiming that the Nakba is on the same level as the Holocaust, nobody thinks the Holocaust is remote history and that we should no longer care about justice or reparations to the extent that reparations can be paid. People are still put on trial and there are reparations paid and sometimes stolen property is returned.

      As for Israelis, I agree that Israelis born in Israel have the right to be there. It's the only home they've got. What their parents or grandparents might have done isn't their fault. But if they continue to oppress Palestinians, claim the right to move into the WB and not allow Palestinians to move into Israel, and continue to profit by this, then they aren't innocent.

      Incidentally, I realize I'm spending far too much time responding to you. When you get into moral questions, everything is twisted to make Israel right in some fashion. I'm wasting time trying to convince you of anything.

    • "It is going to be hard to play the stupid ignorant racist card against Jews"

      A non-sequitur. You can be well-educated and a racist. One of my best friends as a child was deeply racist--his father was a doctor and a former naval officer. Again, this feeds into my point--quite a few people have this stereotype about who can be a racist and who can't, and this stereotype includes the notion that racists are all uneducated rednecks, when the reality is that intelligent people often just use their intelligence to rationalize their bigotry or their irrational beliefs on some issues. I don't usually play the Nazi card as I think people on all sides bring them up far too often, but they do illustrate the fact that an educated society can be capable of extreme racism.

      I think you know this at some level. It might be hard to "play the racist card" simply because people have this unconscious (and btw, bigoted) notion of what a racist is supposed to be like. The reality is often quite different.

    • The Jewish claim going back to the Romans is idiotic, JeffB. Nobody keeps track of where all their ancestors were living 2000 years ago.

      As fo Shaked wanting to give Palestinians in the WB the vote, permit me some skepticism--the same person who made the " mistake" of urging genocide last summer seems an unlikely person to genuinely support a 1ss with equal rights for all.

    • "I’ve tried again and again to walk through the actual history of the anti-Apartheid movement and show how the dissimilarities between the South African and Israeli case were in areas absolutely crucial to the “success” of the anti-Apartheid struggle. -"

      The biggest difference is that the analogy between SA and the Jim Crow South was seen as a close one and it was easy for American liberals to criticize and even mock white southerners and Boers as stupid racists, but there has been a type of political correctness which stops many liberals in their tracks when it comes to pointing out racism in Israel and its American supporters. That's a misguided liberal reaction to anti-semitism. I've seen people gladly bash the Christian Zionists, because they are in their comfort zone, ridiculing conservative white gentile Americans (often white southerners) who seem really reluctant to take the next step and criticize Israel's Jewish supporters. I've even seen idiots feel sorry for Israel because they have the Christian Zionists in their corner, as though poor little Israel must feel deeply embarrassed at having such uncouth supporters.

      The best analogy is between Israel and other settler colonial states, as a recent post pointed out. The Palestinians are the Native Americans. The main difference is that disease wiped out the vast majority of Native Americans, so there aren't a few hundred million of them forced to live in 20 percent or less of the US.

      But all analogies fail on one point or another. The similarity is in the way human rights are violated and in the way those violations are rationalized.

    • Actually, go right ahead and make analogies. Some might be legit and some not. There isn't any analogy that can excuse Israel's conduct and the US is implicated in Israel's crimes, but you might be able to find some other situation which is as bad and which also implicates the US.
      Or you can point to other situations which are worse, such as that in Syria. Again, this doesn't get Israel off the hook.

      People tried to get the Jim Crow South or apartheid SA off the hook by pointing to other places which were allegedly worse. It didn't work--that type of argument is stupid.

    • If she opposes a 2SS then she should support 1 man, 1 vote for Palestinians in a 1SS. And yes, Jews or members of any religion or ethnicity should have equal rights in a state of Palestine, but settlers who were part of Israel's illegal settlement project took advantage of the situation--equal rights in this context might mean they have to make restitution or give back land which didn't really belong to them and if they put out their own money to acquire property under Israeli law, then the Israeli government should compensate them.

      I had never heard of Shaked until recently, but if she were a genuine non-racist I somehow doubt she would have made the "genocide" mistake. I gather there are a few interesting people on the Israeli right who seem to favor annexing "Judea and Samaria" and giving the Palestinians citizenship and equal rights. Is she one? Highly doubtful. Not that this position is without problems, as it leaves out the Gazans and Palestinian refugees elsewhere.

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