Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 6279 (since 2009-07-31 03:28:07)


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

Showing comments 6279 - 6201

  • In Their Own Words: Four residents of Yarmouk speak
    • Sana? The Syrian government's news agency? I'm sure that's an unbiased source of information about war crimes in Syria.

      Seriously, they might tell the truth about rebel atrocities, but somehow I suspect that with regards to their own they are going to be about as reliable as Netanyahu on the subject of Gaza.

  • Dershowitz's comments are 'shockingly vicious and sexist,' says Harvard Law Record article
    • On the one hand this isn't really relevant to the Israel-Palestinian issue--a person could take a great position on one issue and be a scumbag in his personal life, or a person could be a wonderful human being in many ways and still have a terrible position on some issues. People are complicated.

      Still, it does seem like maybe Dersh isn't that complicated.

  • Warriors for 'the ultimate truth' gather in New York
    • The AP study that said 11 percent were militants was about the portion of deaths (at least 844)) caused by air strikes on family homes, not all of the deaths. They found that 60 percent were women children and old men and so definitely civilian, as one would expect. 11 percent were identified as militants, whatever that means exactly. You could be a militant and not be participating in combat when your house is hit. The remainder were adult men where there is no evidence of "militancy".

      Anyway the report is devastating and proves that the targeting of homes did exactly what one would expect--it killed mostly innocent civilians. But the study is about one particular tactic employed and the 11 percent refers to that (barbaric) tactic.

  • 'American Sniper' is an antiwar movie
    • Maybe Phil should close the blog down and ask Clint to do a movie about the experiences of an Israeli sniper in the Gaza War. So long as some Hamas fighter were shown as competent, it would be an artistic masterpiece and an effective method of explaining to ordinary Americans what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about from an Israeli sniper perspective.

    • I wanted to reword one part of that, but I'm too late for the edit function apparently.
      "I'm not very interested in movies about current events" should read "I am usually bothered by movies about current events, precisely because they are apt to mislead people. Even if I happen to agree with the message, any factual inaccuracy or false impressions given will stick in many people's heads."

      I don't want to get too personal here, though you opened the door there, but I get really tired of the fatuousness of movie critics who won't criticize a film that deals in vicious cliches because they are too busy displaying their openminded attitudes. It's not about how you can see an antiwar message in a movie that depicts Iraqis as monsters that send their children out to die. It's about all the ordinary people who see a movie like this and it reinforces what American culture teaches them about our wars. I heard people saying exactly the same thing about the Vietnamese decades ago. What could Americans do in a war where even the children could kill you? So it becomes about our innocence. At best, the war is criticized because it sends good American boys to die in a region where everyone is evil. They aren't good enough for the sacrifice of American lives.

    • I don't want to be the sort of lemming who gives money to filmmakers for making propaganda, Krauss. What you find mildly pathetic is mildly interesting, but not determinative. You ignored the issue that everyone who has been critical of the film (including Phil) has pointed out--it paints an inaccurate picture of the war, and no, you don't have to do that to give the perspective of someone from the heartland. It gives the impression that 9/11 and Iraq were related. Like many American war movies, it shows the war in terms of good vs. evil and dehumanizes the Iraqis. I don't have to give money to every movie of that sort that comes along to judge it, assuming that other people who have gone to it (and praised it in some cases) all describe the content in a consistent manner. Everything I've read about the content of the movie, from both fans and detractors, is consistent.

      You also ignored the point I made regarding the effect that an inaccurate movie has on people's minds, which was described in the NYT Sunday review article I alluded to. I'm not very interested in movies about current events precisely because of this--people know so little about important issues as it is, that I don't give a crap about pretentious claims like yours regarding "art" vs. propaganda. It's bad enough that the news is slanted--when the entertainment reinforces the views of Iraqis that people get from Fox News then it just makes society that much more ignorant. I know you think you've made an intellectual point about art here, one that everyone has heard a million times, before, but the actual effect of this movie will be to reinforce Islamophobic tropes.

    • And no, I haven't seen the movie,but every review I've seen is consistent with yours. So I have no intention of putting money into Eastwood's pocket for making this crap, any more than I would pay to see Zero Dark Thirty.

    • The fact that you see it as anti war when you are anti war means nothing except that you project your own feelings on it. Pro war people do the same. I've read blogs where they loved this movie for showing what they saw as the truth --that our brave and selfless warriors were fighting pure evil. All you took from it was that it showed the cost of war for the troops. That's the soft bigotry of low expectations--so it wasn't a movie that made war seem fun. But a lot of right wingers know this,especially those who are vets. It's some bizarre liberal fantasy that says only liberal anti war types understand that war is hell--the problem is that you can understand this and still think that "the enemy" is pure evil and we are pure good.

      The NYT today had an article pointing to studies which show that movies about historical events which contain inaccuracies leave people with false impressions even when they know better. There are teenagers and young adults who were small children when 9/11 happened and when we went into Iraq. They don't remember Abu Ghraib. They will see this movie and they damn well will come out of it with false impressions about the history and they will think the only victims were the Americans who had to fight these savages. It is not an anti war movie if the only victims depicted are Americans--a pro war viewer will see it as the tragic cost that comes when we send our boys against demons in human form and don't let them use all the force necessary.

  • The left needs to stop hounding Elizabeth Warren on Palestine, says Warren supporter
    • What does not pressuring her before look like? Do we not say her position on the I/P conflict is wrong? What about her re-election campaign? The idea of pressuring a politician after they win makes no sense. (Should we wait until 2021 before pressuring her?)At best, you can hope you might persuade them to change their position, but that process should begin before they get in.

    • Probably some Israel supporters do. And some donors. Most wouldn't. I'd vote for Warren if she runs,but don' t think this is a reason for staying silent when she is wrong. Too many of the political types think that every American should act like a member of a candidate's campaign staff. If we all did that, there are some issues where no one would ever say anything honest.

    • It's not the job of activists on a particular issue to keep their mouths shut and make it easy for a political candidate to ignore their issue. A candidate, on the other hand, may want to avoid talking about some issues because it might hurt her chances. It's a conflict of interest. Welcome to the real world.

      I like Warren, but why would anyone who cared about an issue stay silent about a candidate's lousy stance on that issue?

  • Israel: Schabas resignation cannot ‘whitewash’ bias in UN war crimes inquiry
    • It'd be a minor disaster if the American jurist gives Israel a pass. All this talk of how biased against Israel the UN is would just give this a man bites dog quality that the press couldn't resist, even apart from the fact that they tend to give Israel a pass anyway (in the US, that is).

      My problem with these official investigations is this whole notion that there is some serious doubt about what happened, so that we need someone "impartial" to figure it out. In most cases involving human rights, we already know what happened from the investigations of the human rights groups plus whatever honest reporting occurred. In this case, Hamas fired rockets into civilian areas and from civilian areas and Israel bombed and shelled civilian areas (and shot civilians too), killing over 2000 people, the vast majority civilian. They precisely targeted homes with families inside. There's no great mystery here. There almost never is with war crimes. I don't know how you'd pick someone who didn't have a strong opinion on this, unless they were living under a rock last summer.

  • Muslims are Nazis, 'USA Today' jokes
    • Yeah, putting Hamas and Hezbollah in with ISIS is inaccurate. What it really says is that when Israel bombed Gaza, it was fighting Nazi-level evil. Anyone who can count knows who committed more war crimes in the Gaza War, so would Gallagher publish a caricature of Netanyahu in a Nazi uniform? I wouldn't, but then I also wouldn't do this with Hamas or Hezbollah. As you say, Nazi analogies are usually juvenile.

      Some months back I stumbled across a "liberal" Reformed rabbi online who was defending Israel's actions in Gaza, while claiming he felt sympathy for most Palestinians. He only hated the bad ones, Hamas. That's how one justifies killing hundreds of children.

  • Gideon Levy's argument for Netanyahu
    • "Netanyahoo is a master at pulling the wool over America’s eyes "

      I usually agree with your comments, but this is way off. Netanyahu is the idiot who is so inept he might actually drive a wedge between Democrats and Republicans on Israel and Iran. Liberal Zionists are much better at keeping that beloved bipartisan support for Israel that they want so much to see. This is why the liberal Zionist groups are so upset by Netanyahu's proposed speech.

      When I see liberal Zionists defending Israel at other places online (like in comments after NYT articles) they commonly say that they support Israel but are disgusted by Netanyahu. He's the kind of person that any sane individual wants to see on the other side of an issue.

      That said, David does have a partial point. Netanyahu does want to drive us into war with Iran and repulsive as he is, he might still be able to do it. Where I disagree is about Livni. I think there are a lot of people in the US (can't speak with much knowledge about Europe) who would love to have a liberal Zionist back in charge, making the right noises about the peace process, so they could side wholeheartedly with Israel as they try to shove some inadequate peace proposal down the throats of the Palestinians. Then they will put all the blame on the Palestinians if they refuse the proposal. This has happened more than once.

  • Zero (0) Palestinians quoted in 'NYT' piece on rift between US and Israel
  • 'Great American villain' Henry Kissinger faces citizen's arrest inside a Senate hearing room
    • Eva was responding to Shalom's weird notion that Kissinger is just some innocent old man that Code Pink inexplicably decided to bully. But as for who gets prosecuted and who doesn't, it's not the ethnicity of the victims, but the identity of the victors that determines these things. Nazis and the Japanese were prosecuted because they were the losers, while Stalin's Russia and the US and GB got off though they too committed war crimes. Saddam was convicted--he was a thug, but he used to be our thug and while that was true he was safe. People as bad as Saddam are in no danger so long as they are American or are American allies.

  • Is inter-faith work between Jews and Muslims possible?
    • "That’s very different than with Liberal Christians who come from a place that Jews aren’t a legitimate people. "

      Long comment and fairly interesting, and would be worth talking about, but I won't deal with most of it. Besides, the article has scrolled off the front page, so I had to look for it in the archives and if you are like me, most of the time you don't bother with threads that have scrolled off the front page. So you may not see this.

      I just wanted to deal with the statement above. Most liberal Christians (of which I am one) are actually taught or have heard something bout the shameful history of Christian anti-semitism. If anything, it's a mixture of shame and fear of being accused of anti-semitism that has kept so many liberal Christians silent about Israel's human rights violations. As a group they were much more comfortable denouncing the hyper-Calvinists in South Africa who created apartheid. I think most liberal Christians are/were in their comfort zone with interfaith dialogue with the local Jewish temples and would cringe at the thought of getting into a passionate disagreement with passionate Israel supporters, with the charges of anti-semitism and insensitivity being brought out. Of course a minority wouldn't, but then, some of them (meaning now the Christian sympathizers of Palestinians) might then respond in equally heated fashion, which is why the majority of nice suburbanites just want to avoid the subject, I suspect.

    • I think interfaith dialogue would be useful in decreasing anti-semitism and Islamophobia in the US. I am skeptical of its potential on the I-P conflict if the Jewish side tries to limit criticism of Zionism or Israel. If there is going to be real dialogue, then American Jews who make Zionism a central part of what it means to be Jewish are going to have to listen to a lot of things they will not want to hear. I gather a great many Israel supporters think the freaking NYT is anti-Israel, so It seems unlikely that people who feel that way are ready for honest dialogue.

      You might answer that Muslims too will have to listen to criticisms of Muslims who support terror or other crimes,but the fact is that if you live in the US you hear those criticisms every day.

  • Charlie Hebdo: The sacred of the 'wretched of the Earth' and its desecration
  • 'NYT' perpetuates myth Israel was 'fighting for its very survival' during 1967 war
    • More proof that I needed to read the whole thread before commenting, as joemowrey made this point already. But it's probably worth repeating.

    • I should have read the rest of the thread first, as tree and others have this covered in much more detail than I was willing to look up again. I've read Shlaim and Hersh's biography of Kissinger, but the details aren't on the tip of my tongue.

      I hope someone wrote the public editor at the NYT with the details. I was bothered by this piece, but it would have taken many hours for me to write a letter with at least some of the necessary facts all properly cited.

    • This is a pattern I've seen before--when Israel is criticized, the writer sometimes uses this as an opportunity to reinforce some other element of hasbara. It's psychologically brilliant--the very fact that Israel is being criticized in the article lends credibility to the false claim in Israel's favor.

      You see this in other subject areas too-I gather some people are saying that "American Sniper" is in some sense an antiwar film because it shows the toll the war took on American soldiers. I don't intend to watch the film, but suppose it is true--then that means that the film's falsehoods about the war will seem more credible to American viewers, because of its seeming "honesty" about the costs of the war (to Americans, not to Iraqis).

    • "t is dishonest to quote this line to support the view that Israel did not face an existential threat in 1967 when the very next line of the speech is:"

      I've seen both lines given before and no, the second line doesn't support the idea that Israel faced an existential threat. It's a boilerplate rationalization. Nasser's aggressive rhetoric gave Israel a golden opportunity to attack and claim it was self-defense. They would crush his military and eliminate the threat that they thought he posed. So in Begin's eyes, this was "self defense in the noblest sense of the term", which is a backhanded acknowledgment of what he had just said, that it wasn't self defense in the normal sense of the term. But there was no immediate threat, though of course the average Israeli citizen thought there was at the time.

      And after the war, Egypt did try to obtain return of the land, but it was Israeli intransigence that finally led Sadat to attack in 1973. And it worked--Israel's complacency was ended as the Egyptian army, though defeated, gave a very good account of itself.

  • Finkelstein on Joan Peters's legacy (and Dershowitz's legal troubles)
    • Gosh, Robert, it is such a shame that according to you evidence exists proving that Peters was right and yet nobody is writing a book in English to back this up. I suppose no one would be interested in funding or publishing such a project. Perhaps if you write enough blog comments you can turn the tide.

  • Tell your congressperson: Don't attend Netanyahu's speech
    • Kind of a nitpick, but that phrase "politics stops at the water's edge"' is false. It's usually used by warmongers to shut down opposition to some US plan to go to war and once the war starts the phrase is then used to slap down criticism of that war. In the run up to the Iraq War people opposed to the war were criticized in just this way. It's a phrase that makes no sense except as a way of telling people with dissident views on foreign policy that they should shut up.

  • It's not the cartoons-- a contrarian perspective from a Muslim cartoonist
    • Algeria was considered part of France. Its conquest and the early part of French rule involved the deaths of a large part of the Algerian population., according to my source Alastair Horne. The French then ruled it much like apartheid SA. You know this, so I don't get your point.

      Some of your other points are valid and I'd copy them if I could figure out how to do this on an IPad. But you are mixing good points with bad ones.

  • Don't let's go to the war of civilizations again
    • "You would think that the Charlie Hebdo murders are a time to instruct greater tolerance, to learn to get along with different types of people on this little ship we call the earth "

      You'd think. But no.

      For a week after 9/11 I naively thought that many or at least the self-described liberals would react with empathy to all the victims of violence and terror. Middle class whites who live in the US are mostly shielded from ugly realties and even if we read about atrocities and wars it's an abstraction to most of us (except maybe veterans and a few journalists and others) but here, for those of us in or near NYC, was something that shocked us to the core. Now we knew what it felt like to be at the mercy of violent men who were willing to slaughter us. We'd look at all the ruthless policies our country had supported in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia and really get serious about putting an end to it all and living up to our professed ideals.

      Boy was I ever stupid. Amazingly, stunningly stupid on a scale I wouldn't have believed possible for anyone, a level of stupidity that set the bar so high I don't think I could even imagine reaching it again unless I had a springboard, a running start and a rocket strapped to my back, or to change metaphors, a level of denseness that should have immediately converted me into a black hole that could have swallowed the entire earth.

      Never, ever expect the American liberal pundit class to show empathy when hurt or scared or even mildly bothered.

  • 'No apologies,' Bennett declares -- and controversy breaks over his role in '96 massacre
    • If I recall correctly, I sometimes do think your analyses are at least partly right. I can't always quite remember who says what around here. But in this case (and probably others, but my memory is vague), you seem to be not just saying that Israel hit civilians to send a message, but actually approving of what they did. We don't agree on the approval part.

    • "Safe zones mean no civilians no military operations. My feeling is it was probably intentional or semi-intentional. I wish Israel had owned it more, but I understand why they didn’t. I think the message got through either way. "

      This is fascinating in a train-wrecky sort of way. Western attitudes towards terrorism are a never ending source of doublethink. On the one hand there's this pretense that we'd never kill innocent civilians as a way of sending a message but every now and then some official or military type will blurt out the truth, or someone like you will say it. And you're probably right. The doublethink comes in when people pretend, most of the time, that Western countries would never deliberately kill civilians when it's obvious that they do sometimes.

  • Wall around Bethlehem is Christmas billboard in Atlanta
    • "It’s like yoga; you have to start where you’re at. This is where most Americans — God Bless each and every ignorant one — are at."

      That's true, but then step 2 is when the local Israel supporters start talking about how hurtful it is to see Christian imagery used to criticize Israel and then we start talking about the truly nasty things that are said about "Jews" in the (Christian portions of the) Bible and how this shows that anti-semitism is once again at the root of any criticism of Israel. And so once again it becomes about anti-semitism.

      Yeah, I know someone will say I'm doing that here. Whatever. If the poster starts having widespread impact, enough to arouse the attention of Israel's defenders in both churches and among American Jews, that's what I expect will happen. If I'm wrong, fine. No point in beating this to death, so I'll shut up now.

    • I was a Christian Zionist in my youth, so I know something about that. I can guess what the person intended by this (gosh, wouldn't it be clever to mix the Nativity scene with an image of the Wall as a way of criticizing Israel) , and in fact defended the Christians who liked this poster at this very website when it was mentioned some time back (years back? not sure). I defended them by saying that many Christians would probably not realize that New Testament passages about "Jews" were used for centuries to justify hatred, and so it's probably not the best idea in the world to defend Palestinian rights by using an image from the New Testament to criticize Israel.

      I also won't argue any further here, as I know how things go when one of us strays off the reservation on one particular sub issue.

    • Usual crap from gamal. "We", meaning people here, often say that Jewish claims to Israel based on what the Bible says or who lived there 2000 years ago are ridiculous because no sane person bases an argument about human rights today on whose ancestors lived where 2000 years ago.

      But hey, if you think that Jewish claims to Israel based on the Bible and what people were doing 2000 years ago are strong arguments, go for it. That's what we need more of on this subject--competing religious claims and arguments about religious symbolism.

    • A dumb card, in my opinion. What the hell does it even mean? Why drag Christmas and Christianity into this? It gives an excuse for pro-Israel types to talk about anti-semitic tropes.

      And aside from that, it's still stupid. Aren't we the ones who say that Biblical claims have nothing to do with the rights of people 2000 years later, and then we tie in something from 2000 years ago in the New Testament with today.

  • David Remnick undermines Israel's one-state president
    • I agree with most of your criticisms--maybe all of them, but I wouldn't have had the energy to go through it like you did. All the same, I took a somewhat more positive attitude towards the article--he mentions a very large number of issues (and people) that one never sees cited in American liberal ZIonist outlets (like the NYT). Just mentioning Meron Benvenisti is a plus--I doubt many New Yorker readers (among us gentiles anyway) even knew who he was. I have his book from 14 years ago, "Sacred Landscapes", which is very good, but I can't recall ever seeing it referenced. There have been a number of very good books on the I/P conflict, but they make little or no impact on the broader American debate because the mainstream press generally avoids talking about them or the issues they raise. Remnick broke some taboos.

      Though, yes, he does recite a number of standard liberal Zionist shibboleths which are intended to take away most of the blame from Israel. Once again, it seems, peace and happiness could have broken out if only Arafat or Abbas had accepted the generous offers in 2000/2008.

  • 'My friends, with us tonight is the face of the Holocaust': Boteach talks Israel, Palestine, and genocide with Wiesel and Power
    • "but in any case 500,000 to a million people were slaughtered and I bet most of the people in this room don’t even know anything happened in Indonesia in 1965.” This is surely correct, and in need of explanation; perhaps it has something to do with the fact that “the most definitive book on genocide ever written,” as Shmuley Boteach called Power’s A Problem from Hell, completely omits Suharto’s mass killings, U.S. support for the atrocities presumably having rendered them moot. -"

      Damn right. " A Problem From Hell" is a deeply cynical book--it's not an accident that it was so widely praised by the American political mainstream. Power pretended to write a book critical of US foreign policy, but in many respects it was actually quite flattering--she said that American officials were too decent to be able to fathom real evil and the book is mainly about America's sins of omission, not itssins of commission.

      She makes Holbrooke a hero, and ignores his role in East Timor policy (Timor gets about 3 lines in the entire book). Suharto's earlier killings, as you say, go unmentioned, though the US was involved and at the time approved of what happened.

      She was widely praised as some sort of secular saint, without having to say anything that would upset people in the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

      I'll wander into Mark Ellis's territory. The Bible would call such a person a "court prophet", if I remember correctly. Or "false prophet". False prophets were the people who told the king what the king wanted to hear. The true prophets made a lot of noise nobody in power wanted to hear about the oppression of the poor by the powerful in Israel. People like that may be honored after their death, but they don't get cushy jobs in government.

  • For Obama officials, synagogue attack is 'pure terror' -- and not a word about attacks on Palestinians
    • "but the embarrassment that hass described finding among the Palestinians has been utterly lacking here in the comments section, at least of this post."

      I don't agree. Several of us agree that the murders of the rabbis were horrifying. Am I "embarrassed"? I suppose I am, at human beings in general. Why is it that some people think that injustice can be answered with more injustice? Why taint a good cause with a disgusting set of murders? But people do this all through history. Maybe under the wrong circumstances I'd do something terrible myself--I hope not, but I don't wish to find out. It's upsetting, but it's not an affliction peculiar to Palestinians who suffer under the boot of Israeli oppression. Incidentally, I found that link to Amira Hass at Finkelstein's website and was glad to read that Palestinians were privately embarrassed at this act, even those who generally support armed resistance. But you can't count on every member of an oppressed people to always hold themselves to standards their oppressors don't follow.

      But you came into this thread insisting on missing the point of the original post and what some of us keep pointing out--most of the American reaction, both the Obama Administration and in the press, has been hypocritical. The US government basically funds the killing of Palestinians by Israel, yet we only hear these kinds of full-throated moral condemnations of atrocities from our government when a Palestinian is guilty. Does this hypocrisy matter to you? I assume that it does, but that you are so intent on making your point about our alleged lack of embarrassment you refuse to acknowledge the importance of the issue, instead choosing to trivialize it by saying it is "political". Do you really think that it is mere "politics" to point out that the country which helps Israel kill Palestinian children is in no position to lecture Palestinians about morality? It seems like basic morality to me.

    • "Phil and the commentators here have provided the political reaction that one would expect here. "

      You are right that there are hardened hearts on all sides and I accept your point about how we should mourn all victims, but you're missing half the picture. Phil is criticizing the hardened hearts of the hypocrites in the US government. That's not simply a political reaction on his part. It is difficult to see the conspicuous difference between how Israeli and Palestinian atrocities are treated in this country without getting angry. I recognize that this should not be an excuse for hardening our own hearts, but it is right to point out the hypocrisy. This isn't a political reaction, but a moral one. Palestinians are dying too, but that doesn't elicit US condemnation. Palestinian children died by the hundreds last summer and the US supported Israel's "right to defend itself."

      I'll add the NYT editorial board to that list of hypocrites, who just came out with an editorial condemning the horror in Jerusalem and saying that it brings shame to the Palestinian people, when they never said one word along those lines about Israel or its supporters during the Gaza War. The difference in their treatment is galling. Completely expected, coming from them, and yet they talk about the Palestinian people bringing shame on themselves.

  • Muslims' beliefs are 'untrue' and 'ridiculous,' 'Salon' author says, offering support for Maher's intolerance
    • Any cites to prove your claims about Armstrong? This should be fun. Converting to Islam? Seriously? And I doubt you understood a thing she wrote. As for Dawkins, Harris and the others, if those are your authorities you need to find some new ones. You might as well cite Dershowitz as an authority on Palestinians.

    • Maher himself supported Israel's conduct in the Gaza War. He's just another ideologue who is morally outraged by a certain category of atrocities--those committed by people he doesn't like. He's fine with atrocities committed by people like him.

    • "my first and lasting impression was “What a pompous , self important ,arrogant man ! ”

      100 percent agreement. Even without his Islamophobia, he always struck me the same way. It's no credit to American liberals that many seem to like him because he agrees with them on some issues.

  • Dempsey bucks Obama line by praising Israelis for Gaza tactics
    • The US record on avoiding civilian casualties isn't good--look at what happened in Fallujah in the two assaults there. (The party line on the second assault is that the civilians had all left, but this was untrue.) And I recently read Carlotta Gall's book onthe war in Afghanistan--our behavior there is not that different from Israel's occupation, except of course that we aren't moving Americans into settlements.

      On the other hand, there are apparently some within the US military who do try to avoid civilian casualties, which is why some US military types anonymously criticized Israel's tactics in Gaza. But overall, I don't think either military is in much of a position to cast stones.

  • Evangelical Christians come under attack as more move to oppose Israeli occupation
    • "fatalities are disproportionately among young males, which corresponds with the characteristics of combatants"

      That was from a BBC article which was also picked up by Rudoren at the NYT. It's based on one fact--about 1/3 of the dead were males in their 20's, but they only correspond to 9 percent of the population (I'm citing from memory). But young males are the ones most likely to be outside during wartime and that's true whether they are fighters or not. They could be outside to get supplies for their families or to do rescue work or even (as young men everywhere sometimes are a bit reckless) just to see what is happening. It's possible a fair size chunk of the dead in that demographic were fighters, but that is entirely consistent with the vast majority of the dead being civilian.

      So the claim means nothing, but once made it becomes part of standard hasbara--you can probably expect to see this claim made from now until doomsday.

  • ICC believes Israel may have committed war crimes in flotilla attack, but not of 'sufficient gravity' to justify formal investigation
    • I could understand the claim that the ICC is only supposed to go after the biggest crimes--no idea if that's true, but it might be.

      However, the time they have saved not prosecuting this crime could then be put into an investigation into Israel's various assaults on Gaza, along with the apartheid-like settlement policy on the West Bank.

  • Tufts students challenge university's complicity in Israeli violence
    • "Shamir-Borer and his allies also attempt to claim the military moral high ground by labeling Israel and the U.S. as threatened “democracies.”

      But Israel is a democracy. The problem here is this widespread myth that democracies are morally pristine by their very nature, when that's never been the case. Democracies can and often do choose to violate human rights on scales that rival those of almost any dictatorship. See the history of the US for many examples, and Israel's own history is like a recapitulation of America's treatment of Native Americans.

      The word "democracy" has taken on this almost theological meaning, as though it somehow absolves a country from sin, but if Israel is a democracy, and it is, this simply means that the Israeli voters share the blame with the government for what has been done to Palestinians.

  • New Amnesty International report accuses Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza
    • "Israel has also questioned the credibility of Amnesty’s use of field workers to collect the data for the report, a strategy the organization was forced to use because Israel will not allow them to enter Gaza"

      Reminds me of the definition of chutzpah--a man kills his parents and throws himself on the mercy of the court because he's an orphan.

  • Ambassador Power to kick off 3-hour event on 'never-ending' genocide of Jews
    • Her book is worth reading, keeping in mind what maximus said upthread, that her choice of crimes covered is that of someone aiming for a career in Washington. Still, it contains interesting material. I never bought it though--I got it from the library.

    • "She’s not really a sell-out, because she never really had anything to sell out…."

      I started to quote your whole post--I agree with all of it. Even here, people talk about Power like she had ideals to start with. It's nonsense. She's a careerist and the contents of her genocide book prove this for exactly the reasons you state.

  • David Brooks's romance of community
    • "I’m not sure I agree with your assessment, but it’s hard not to have at least a small soft spot for somebody who manages to be so hated and despised by both the right and the left. "

      That's a soft spot in your thinking. I suppose Brooks is hated by some on the far right because he liked the establishment Republicans who used to be able to keep the crazier people to their right in line. To some degree I agree with him on this--the Republicans have gotten increasingly nutty and he is aware of the fact.

      He's hated by the left, or some of it, because he's a warmonger and also sides with the 1 percent on domestic issues most of the time.

      But having a soft spot for someone because they anger both sides is silly, unless you happen to have specific ideas in mind where you think Brooks is right and his critics on both sides are wrong.

    • David Brooks in a November 4 2003 column--several months before Abu Ghraib hit the news, though there were already stories about the US using torture--
      "No. Iraqification is a strategy for the long haul, but over the next six months, when progress must be made, this is our job. And the main challenge now is to preserve our national morale.

      The shooting down of the Chinook helicopter near Fallujah over the weekend was a shock to the body politic. The fact is, we Americans do not like staring into the face of evil. It is in our progressive and optimistic nature to believe that human beings are basically good, or at least rational. When we stare into a cave of horrors, whether it is in Somalia, Beirut or Tikrit, we see a tangled morass we don't understand. Our instinct is to get out as quickly as possible.

      It's not that we can't accept casualties. History shows that Americans are willing to make sacrifices. The real doubts come when we see ourselves inflicting them. What will happen to the national mood when the news programs start broadcasting images of the brutal measures our own troops will have to adopt? Inevitably, there will be atrocities that will cause many good-hearted people to defect from the cause. They will be tempted to have us retreat into the paradise of our own innocence.

      Somehow, over the next six months, until the Iraqis are capable of their own defense, the Bush administration is going to have to remind us again and again that Iraq is the Battle of Midway in the war on terror, the crucial turning point where either we will crush the terrorists' spirit or they will crush ours.

      The president will have to remind us that we live in a fallen world, that we have to take morally hazardous action if we are to defeat the killers who confront us. It is our responsibility to not walk away. It is our responsibility to recognize the dark realities of human nature, while still preserving our idealistic faith in a better Middle East.


      Much of what is contemptible about David Brooks is in this piece. He's a "nice guy"--his whole career is based on being a nice guy. But he's a nice guy to people like himself and he's a flatterer--tells Americans we're too good and innocent to be able to face evil. What planet does he live on? Only propagandists talk like this. (Samantha Power says the same thing in her overpraised genocide book). Then he approves of harsh measures the troops will "have" to adopt, and then tells us to steel ourselves against the atrocities that will result.

      Probably every society has people like this--they hang around the powerful, tell them how good they are, and urge them to be as brutal as they need to be. He never has to raise his voice, he's always polite, wants everyone in his social class to like him, and cheers for war and its accompanying brutality in the nicest possible way.

      Also, this is probably one of the early appearances of the "Friedman Unit" in Iraq War cheerleading. I assume Tom F had already started talking about the crucial importance of the next six months in the Iraq War, unless of course, as sometimes happens, the cliche is named after the wrong person.

  • 'Exalted anti-Zionists' are now driving the conversation
    • The Friedman piece you cite is awful. Yes, he says that Israel is heading down a dead end, but you'll notice that he also says that Israel is heading down that dead end with "strong arguments". What are those strong arguments? Well, here's the extended quote, followed by what I think Friedman is up to--
      "The Israeli right today, led by Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, has some really strong arguments for maintaining the status quo — arguments that in the long run are deadly for Israel as a Jewish democratic state.

      “It is the definition of tragedy,” said the Hebrew University philosopher Moshe Halbertal. “You have all these really good arguments for maintaining a status quo that will destroy you.”

      What arguments? Israel today is surrounded on four out of five borders — South Lebanon, Gaza, Sinai and Syria — not by states but by militias, dressed as civilians, armed with rockets and nested among civilians. No other country faces such a threat. When Israeli commanders in the Golan Heights look over into Syria today, they see Russian and Iranian military advisers, along with Syrian Army units and Hezbollah militiamen from Lebanon, fighting jihadist Sunni militias — and the jihadists are usually winning. “They’re much more motivated,” an Israeli defense official told me.

      That is not a scene that inspires risk-taking on the West Bank, right next to Israel’s only international airport. The fact that Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and Hamas took over there in 2007 and then devoted most of its energies to fighting Israel rather than building Palestine also does not inspire risk-taking to move away from the status quo. Israel offered Hamas a cease-fire eight days into the Gaza war, but Hamas chose to expose its people to vast destruction and killing for 43 more days, hoping to generate global pressure on Israel to make concessions to Hamas. It was sick; it failed; and it’s why some Gazans are trying to flee Hamas rule today.


      Friedman is clearly doing his best to portray Israel in the best light possible--he defends Israel's conduct in the Gaza War, blames Hamas for the deaths, and doesn't mention that the "concessions" Hamas wanted was the end of the blockade that hurt all Gazans.

      Friedman clearly thinks that it is more important to lie about these things than to tell the unvarnished truth. He's trying to appeal to hardline ZIonists by adopting their view (which is probably close to his anyway) while urging them to accept the sort of solution Kerry would shove down the throats of Palestinians, if only Israel would go along. Friedman is upset because if the Israelis were a bit more rational, they could still keep all the land they've stolen, including big chunks of the West Bank they already have. And if the Palestinians rejected this deal, then Friedman would gladly join the entire American political class in blaming them for the conflict.

      Friedman recognizes that Netanyahu is stupid, but he's not a friend of Palestinians. Not in the slightest. He's practically begging the Israelis to be smarter, that's all.

  • 'Village on the volcano' is latest effort to change the subject from the occupation
    • I clicked on Annie's link to Gutkin. There's also a part 2, which goes into some detail on what is wrong with Friedman's piece--


      I haven't bothered to read Friedman, but it sounds like the sort of garbage that will only persuade the already converted--Gutkin himself is a liberal Zionist who favors a 2SS that will enable Israel to be a Jewish democracy, and he obviously thinks Friedman and people like him are an obstacle to any possibility of a peaceful solution. I suspect most in the mainstream press, who might think we're too far to the left, will read Friedman and be at least as dismissive of him.

  • 'Jewish students were barred from attending' pro-Palestinian event -- Alterman misrepresents
    • "i was refused entrance into the event."

      Why? How would they know what your opinions were? (Your opinions are fairly liberal on this issue by US standards as best I can tell, though to the right of Mondoweissers.) Anyway, if they refused you admission because of your views (not sure how they'd know them) then yes, Alterman would be right. (It would pain me to admit that, since I think Alterman is a pompous jerk, but stopped clocks and so forth…)

  • 'Another Jew!' Speakers at 'Klinghoffer' rally blame Jews for promoting anti-Semitism
    • "Still, you could make the case that if The Death of Klinghoffer caricatures anyone, it’s Palestinians, not Jews"

      I have no firsthand knowledge of the opera, but suspect this is true. The very choice of topic suggests it. Why, if one wishes to write an opera about the Palestinians, would the central focus be on the brutal murder of an American Jew by Palestinian terrorists? Perhaps the answer (again, I haven't seen the opera) is that the work really isn't about the Palestinians---they are only interesting (to the opera) because their suffering led some of them to commit terrible crimes against Westerners.

      I have some sympathy for the Klinghoffer daughters--if I were them I would resent the fact that my father's murder was used in this way. They have every right to complain. Whatever one thinks of the I/P conflict (and obviously I think the Palestinians are the main victims and the Israelis the oppressors), Klinghoffer's murder was inexcusable. Palestinians, it seems to me, might resent the fact that the one time a famous opera is written that involves their history it centers on the murder of an American Jew and not on the murder of some innocent Palestinian.

  • Israel's Dead Soul: Steven Salaita's critical scholarship explains his dismissal from the University of Illinois
    • "Salaita seems to have attended the same School of Complicated Utterance as some other cultural theorists have. He’s at his best when he puts his books on the shelf and just complains about awful people in plain words."

      That's very well put--it's why I have little interest in the more academic theorizing sort of leftist.

  • The Center for Jewish Life is stifling free speech at Princeton University
    • "A.Hirsi @ Brandeis recently comes to mind}"

      Comes to your mind. Hirsi was told she could speak at Brandeis, but not as a commencement speaker. I think it's sad that anyone wants to listen to her, but there was no attempt at censorship--colleges don't necessarily want to have a famous bigot speaking at their commencement ceremonies, as it seems to imply an endorsement. Would it be okay if Gilad Atzmon (who I despise as much as Hirsi) were invited to speak at Brandeis's next commencement. How about David Duke? Should the Nazis who wanted to march in Skokie Illinois many years ago have been invited to speak at the University of Chicago commencement?

      Your comparison is ridiculous, but it is a sad commentary that people nowadays think that they are defending "free speech" when saying that a noted Islamophobe has a right to speak at a graduation ceremony. Sorry, but no.

  • Has the 'NYT' editorial board finally decided to tell the truth about the conflict? (No)
    • One thing the editorial doesn't mention--along with the deprivation the blockade also was enforced by having the IDF shoot at fishermen and at farmers and others who approached the boundary too closely. And the buffer zone (or kill zone) that Israel imposed is inside Gaza, which is yet another demonstration that the occupation of Gaza never ended.

      The editorial does state that Israel has the right not to be attacked from Gaza, but strangely omits mentioning violence going the other way during "peacetime".

    • This is the first time I've ever seen the NYT editorialists admit the blockade inflicted terrible suffering on Gazans. I think they've tacitly supported it all along, but were shamed into this admission because their own reporters (whatever their flaws) repeatedly wrote how the people in Gaza loathed the blockade and wanted it lifted. But the NYT will never come right out and say that Westerners like themselves happily supported the hurting of innocent people as a means of pressure on Hamas.

      Though in fact they still feel that way, as demonstrated by this editorial. It's more important to them that Hamas not receive any credit if the blockade is lifted than it is to have the blockade lifted.

  • Andrew Sullivan should stop giving a pass to Sam Harris and Bill Maher's bigotry
    • Though again, having said all these harsh things Sullivan deserves credit for printing some pretty tough criticisms of his own position on his blog. He has definitely come a long way from where he was in 2001 (and before). Most days he is definitely worth reading.. I subscribe to his blog and will probably renew this coming year. But occasionally he writes something that reminds me of what he used to be like.

    • "i think it’s unfair and frankly rude. “at bottom”, or, iow, basically..reduces sullivan to what? what does “born in Britain and living in the US” even mean in terms of his ideas. "

      I don't think it's unfair and I'd say it again and couldn't care less about rudeness to Sullivan, given the enormous amount of despicable crap he has written over his career. I like him better now, but there's still vestiges of the old Sully still present.. Maybe you're thinking of the attack on Shipman as a WASP and that I'm doing the same thing to Sullivan. The difference here is that Shipman doesn't deserve such an attack, but Sullivan does though I think he is changing for the better (while still having a long way to go). Sullivan is friends with the British historian Ferguson (who is married to Hirsi Ali), who wrote sympathetic accounts of British imperialism and who in the early 00's seemed to think that America was supposed to pick up the mantle of British imperialism and go forth and "civilize" the world, with bombs if need be. It was supposedly our role after WWII, when Britain lost its Empire and the US became the leader of the "free world" and if anything, the fall of the Soviet empire increased thinking along those grandiose lines. I think a lot of US foreign policy types and those who hang around them (i.e., journalists and writers) think in those terms. This is why so much of the mainstream lined up with Bush in support of the invasion of Iraq.

      If you read magazines like "The New Republic" (which Sullivan used to edit) or "Commentary" or "National Review" or the foreign policy pieces in the Sunday NYT magazine or the editorial page or any other place where the "intellectuals" who write about foreign policy like to publish deep thoughts for their subscribers, you'd pick up on the fact that these people think they are the civilized ones who get to judge the rest of the world. Their own virtue is taken for granted. That's why they can judge Hamas actions by one standard, and the actions of Israel and the US by another. By definition, Israel and the US have good intentions, though they may make mistakes, but Hamas is evil personified. This attitude isn't limited to the I/P conflict--if you have spent a couple of decades or more reading the magazines I just mentioned, you'd see this as a common theme. And in many cases it's coupled with a bit of nostalgia towards the old colonial empires--I used to see this in the neocon magazine "Commentary", for instance.

      So yeah, Sullivan and Harris and Maher all see themselves as civilized Westerners existing on a higher plane than the people they judge. That's what I'm talking about, and yes, if Sullivan had been born in Egypt or Syria or Russia or India or somewhere else, I suspect his views would be very different. He might still be a jerk, but his notions of who is unquestionably civilized and who isn't would be different.

    • "And I remain unconvinced that western atrocities rival those perpetrated by religious extremists. I think we are several leagues ahead of them. "

      I take your point, though I suspect that if ISIS had some planes and 1 ton bombs at its disposal it would happily use them. Anyway, it would be a great step forward if people like Sullivan would go so far as to admit that suicide bombings and beheadings are no worse than the preferred Western methods of killing innocents. (On that list I would also include harsh sanctions of the sort that were imposed on Iraq, which probably killed hundreds of thousands.)

  • Tablet types Rev. Shipman as elite, anti-semitic WASP
    • Darn the lack of editing. I was going to add that the article also illustrates precisely why liberal Protestants have been so reluctant to criticize Israeli human rights violations. They started out wishing to atone for centuries of Christian anti-semitism, but this has morphed into an unwillingness to criticize Israel for fear of being called "anti-semitic". And again, Oppenheimer makes himself part of the story by admitting that he and his anonymous friend see liberal Protestants who are critical of Israel as anti-semites.

    • I agree that it is a good interview and Oppenheimer allows Shipman to say what he wants and doesn't try to make him look bad. But Oppenheimer went off the rails in the paragraphs that Phil excerpted. It's not a case where one has to say the entire interview is terrible or alternatively, say that the bad parts aren't bad because the rest of the piece is good.

    • Incidentally, read some of the comments below the Tablet article. Fascinatingly stupid stuff--Oppenheimer is a bigot, but an extremely mild one compared to the commenters. And these are the people who are certain that Shipman is a monster.

    • Others have covered most of what I would have said , but here's something else I think people have missed. Quoting Oppenheimer quoting his anti-Zionist Jewish friend--

      "How can you tell which ones, which minority, are anti-Semites?” And he said, “Well, that’s easy.” He said, “It’s the liberal Protestants. The Jews aren’t anti-Semitic, even if they’re called self-loathing. And the Muslims aren’t anti-Semitic, because they get us.” He said they understand everything about us, as we understand everything about them. "

      The condescending stereotyping BS goes in all directions. First, the only sort of prejudice to watch out for is anti-Semitism. That's what one is graded on. Maybe some anti-Zionist Jews or liberal Protestants still harbor some anti-Muslim prejudices--after all, some white abolitionists in the 19th century were still racist. But no, that issue never occurs to him. And maybe some Muslim anti-Zionists are anti-Semitic? Apparently not, because Jews and Muslims completely understand each other. I'm pretty sure I've heard some Israeli right-wingers say that, usually in the context of justifying some act of Israeli violence, but it's the same sweeping BS. Merely by virtue of being a Muslim or a Jew, you are immune to anti-semitism (and the other forms of prejudice don't bear mentioning). Muslim anti-Zionists completely understand Jews and Jewish anti-Zionists (or Jews in general?) completely understand Muslims. Maybe it's in their genes.

      But liberal Protestants? Stupid people, dumb as posts, and anti-semitic nitwits because they were born to privilege, unlike the Muslims and Jews who as underdogs completely understand each other.

      I'd suggest writing to Margaret Sullivan at the NYT and asking whether it's problematic having a religion reporter there who, when being frank, reveals his own sweeping prejudices. At the very least, shouldn't he be grilled the way Shipman has been grilled? And while I think Shipman should have phrased his letter differently, it is clear that he meant well. Oppenheimer has pretty much endorsed the bigotry of his friend.

  • If you stand up for Palestine in America, 'you're the devil,' Junot Diaz says
    • "Because they would then have to move out of the country where they came from – and so would most white Americans.
      Native Americans have become a political tool by people who don’t really care about them but who use them to bludgeon people who care even less. "

      I assume you're sufficiently self-aware to realize that your own post reads exactly that way. You live here, you're not moving, etc... To me you sound like you're trolling. Congrats--it's working.

      Anyway, the idea that white people need to move back to where they came from or that Israeli Jews need to move out of Israel is stupid--it's what rightwingers say, whether they are defending Israel or defending white privilege and I wonder why you think it is clever to echo them. The point is to achieve equality, not bring about some new form of ethnic cleansing.

  • Ilan Pappé on Israel’s 'post-Zionist moment' and the triumph of 'neo-Zionism'
    • When I think of the term "post Zionist" I think of Tom Segev and his history of the Mandate period, "One Palestine, Complete". The impression I get is of a man who is simply writing the history of the Zionists and the Palestinians, trying to be objective (I thought it fell short in some ways) and looking at the issue almost from the viewpoint of someone outside. It had its appeal when it might have seemed like there was going to be a solution acceptable to both sides, but of course it didn't turn out that way.

  • Liberal Zionist group Zonszein once worked for paints her as a 'radical' because she likes democracy
    • The Scheindlin piece is partly critical and partly supportive--she says that Israeli Jews generally do have space to dissent, but that's less true of Israeli Palestinians.

      I didn't agree with this--

      "Jumping to the convenient accusation that Israel as a state conspires to silence dissent, Efron argues in a point I take to heart, ignores the fact that anger against the Left during the war came largely from regular people. It’s an easy deflection of self-criticism: maybe the Left should think about why it has failed to make its case more convincingly about what’s wrong with Israeli policy."

      One of the modern day myths about democracy is that somehow democratic decision making automatically sprinkles magical ethical fairy dust on whatever decisions are reached, so that dissenters are at fault for not making their case. But (using my favorite analogy), white racist Southerners in the 1950's had a democratic system (if you were white) and they didn't reach correct ethical decisions regarding how blacks were to be treated. And people who dissented were sometimes murdered. The South changed due to outside pressure and not because peaceful dissent working entirely inside the society suddenly made racists realize that they were wrong.

      It's perfectly possible--in fact, it happens all the time--that one can have a system which is democratic for some, and which the voting majority deliberately and knowingly chooses policies which oppress others. This goes all the way back to classical Greece.

      I'm a little sick of hearing "Israel is a democracy" as a defense. They've democratically chosen to have an apartheid-like system in the West Bank, to keep the Gazans in a vast prison, and to commit war crimes. Three cheers for democratic decision making, I guess.

  • 'Ethnic cleansing for a better world' -- Richard Cohen says Palestinians brought the Nakba on themselves
    • I wonder what sort of reviews this book will get in the MSM? Will they ignore it entirely? The NYT ignored Max Blumenthal while praising Shavit's book to the skies, presumably because Max B wrote about Israeli racism in very blunt terms. Now Richard Cohen exposes his own racism as an Israel supporter. It's going to be interesting to see if the book gets noticed, or if people avert their eyes and hope it just goes away.

    • I'm glad that there are columnists like Richard Cohen, Thomas Friedman and David Brooks around. From time to time they come right out and say they are in favor of war crimes. Obviously the Beltway crowd and their Israeli counterparts think this way, but most of the time people have enough sense not to be too open about it. But now and then you have a Madelaine Albright saying that a lot of dead Iraqi children are worth it, or a Brooks advocating brutal measures by American troops, or Friedman praising war crimes (too many examples to list) or a Cohen endorsing a massive crime against humanity. It's useful to have someone lifting the veil and showing how little difference there is between some ISIS thug and their Western counterparts.

  • NYT's opening to a 'fringe voice' excites rage from Israeli army, journalism, business leaders
    • "The battle is taking place now inside the walls of elite institutions; many people are talking about American-Israeli writer Mairav Zonszein’s op-ed piece at the New York Times,"

      I'd like to be a fly on the wall there and hear what is being said. There was that piece (mostly good, with limitations) on how American rabbis walk on tiptoes when discussing Israel. I meant to write Sullivan about the problems with the antisemitism in Europe article--the article was good in some ways, but it also at times conflated criticism of Israel with antisemitism or allowed people quoted in the article to do that.

      This article was sort of the Max Blumenthal book "Goliath" in microcosm. AFAIK the NYT refused to mention that book, but maybe some working there realize that Israel is swinging to the right and it does no good to pretend otherwise.

  • Burke and Lincoln would have hated the special relationship
    • And for those who can't read the NYT online, I've included a few paragraphs from this bit of classic Brooks, flattering the West, pretending that nice guys like himself and his readers can't fully comprehend evil, and then recommending that we commit evil. Plus the Friedman unit appearance.

      My point is that Brooks has always been like this and a great many Americans in the pundit/politician category think like this. And we weren't corrupted by Israel--rather, Israeli corruption fits rather seamlessly with the sort of self-worship and BS that Brooks shows here. What sort of freaking lunatic could seriously type that claptrap about Americans given our own history? Well, the sort of lunatic that regularly gets a job as a pundit or goes into politics.

      "The fact is, we Americans do not like staring into the face of evil. It is in our progressive and optimistic nature to believe that human beings are basically good, or at least rational. When we stare into a cave of horrors, whether it is in Somalia, Beirut or Tikrit, we see a tangled morass we don't understand. Our instinct is to get out as quickly as possible.

      It's not that we can't accept casualties. History shows that Americans are willing to make sacrifices. The real doubts come when we see ourselves inflicting them. What will happen to the national mood when the news programs start broadcasting images of the brutal measures our own troops will have to adopt? Inevitably, there will be atrocities that will cause many good-hearted people to defect from the cause. They will be tempted to have us retreat into the paradise of our own innocence.

      Somehow, over the next six months, until the Iraqis are capable of their own defense, the Bush administration is going to have to remind us again and again that Iraq is the Battle of Midway in the war on terror, the crucial turning point where either we will crush the terrorists' spirit or they will crush ours."

    • I looked it up after all. Here's the Brooks column from November 2003-

      a burden too heavy to put down

      Notable for one of the early appearances of the Friedman unit (the next six months will be crucial in determining what happens in Iraq), it also contains Brooks advising Americans not to retreat into the paradise of our own innocence just because our troops have to take brutal measures and might commit some atrocities. Yeah, that's our thoughtful David.

    • Good post except for this--

      "In the Brooks case, we have one of the most thoughtful columnists in the U.S., who styles himself a Burkean conservative"

      Brooks is a pundit playing at being thoughtful. He's an idiot who is mostly concerned that the elite stay in the saddle and the common folk keep their place. Come to think of it, according to Corey Robin that's what conservatism has mostly been about all along, going all the way back to Burke. I wouldn't know, but it's certainly true of Brooks.

      I won't look it up, but in late 2003 (before Abu Ghraib broke), Brooks wrote a piece for the NYT essentially saying that US troops might have to commit war crimes to win the war in Iraq.

  • Obama says Muslims bear responsibility to counter radical Islam (so are Jews responsible for Israeli violence?)
    • I can't believe I'm defending Rivera, but he's right--anti-semitism is a bigger problem because of Israeli actions. The same is true of Islamophobia--there's obviously much more of it in the US after 9/11 and every time an Muslim fanatic does something terrible it probably reinforces bigotry against Muslims. MW is quoting him because of all the people who labeled Shipman a bigot.

      I don't think humans fall neatly into the two categories of "bigot" and "non-bigot". Well, some are solidly in the "bigot" category, but the rest of us can harbor unconscious bigoted feelings of one sort or another without realizing it, and there are also degrees of bigotry. If people were purely logical, the bad actions of some members of ethnic group A would not increase bigotry against group A in general, but if people were purely logical there wouldn't be bigotry in the first place.

    • That's as close as Obama has ever come to condemning Israeli violence, but if we are going to parse this phrase to death, no, he doesn't quite say it. "Rockets are fired" is part of a tradition among American politicians (including Obama) of condemning the "rain of rockets" that fall on Israel. He's never mentioned the Palestinian civilians in Gaza killed by Israel during "truces".

      The phrase about Palestinian children leaves open who is responsible--you've got plenty of people who agree Palestinian children died, and then they go on to blame it entirely on Hamas. We've got one self-described "liberal" Zionist commenter who does that at this blog. The US claims that Israel has the right to defend itself (a dubious proposition when Israel is the bully in this conflict) and never says that about the Palestinians. So in that context Palestinian rocket fire is automatically seen as terrorism, whereas Palestinian children who die are victims of a tragedy, but not necessarily a crime.

      That said, this is about as far as any US official will go these days in possibly criticizing Israeli violence, and it takes hundreds of Palestinian children to get Obama to go even this far.

    • My comment got cut off. Anyway, I meant to add something. Frommer also says at the beginning that the internet was a "swamp of hatred" during the summer, and this apparently means in part the outrage about Gaza. So yeah, real acts of anti-semitism are being conflated with moral outrage about Gaza.

    • The article is worth reading and makes a convincing case that anti-semitism in Europe is a real problem. But it also in places conflates anger at Israel with anti-semitism and segues smoothly from one to the other. Here's an example--

      "And since the start of the conflict in Gaza this summer, many describe social media, especially Facebook, as a swamp of hatred.

      “I have friends who are never political and they are posting things about Gaza every day,” said Ms. Frommer, the employee of the nonprofit organization. “It seems like an obsession. Is your obsession because you want to save children, or because you have a problem with Jews?”

      In a city so devoted to politics, the issue of Israel can seem unavoidable to some Jews, even those who strive to be apolitical or tend to be critical of Israeli policy. Ms. Frommer grew up in Brussels, but then left for college in Britain, followed by a long stint working in Cambodia. When she returned to Brussels four years ago, she was struck by how much more polarized life seemed. Her Jewish friends were sticking closer together as office chatter now sometimes bore a sharper edge.

      This summer, one of her Belgian colleagues repeatedly mentioned the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “He would often try to bring up the subject when I tried not to,” she said. “Then the subject would shift from Israel to Jews. Then it was, ‘Were there really six million Jews killed in the Second World War?’ ”

      Nor was the comment isolated. There have been signs that anti-Jewish sentiment transcended the immediate backlash against the Gaza war. In Hungary, the rise of the far-right Jobbik party has brought concerns that anti-Semitic views are gaining mainstream traction."


      So that Belgium guy is an anti-semite, assuming that the person is accurately conveying his comments, but that first paragraph implies that if you were outraged about Gaza this past summer then it was an "obsession" and Frommer (not the author of the piece, but someone who is quoted within it) seems to be implying that it is a very suspicious one. They are being tagged as possible anti-semites and then the implied accusation is backed up with an anecdote about a Belgium man who seems to be a

    • "I actually agree with Obama that it is dumb to see it as a major cause of conflict in the region. Israel isn’t causing ISIS to wreak havoc on religious minorities in Syria or in Iraq."

      I agree with the gist of what you say here in your comment--I don't want to agree with every word because I'd have to be much more familiar with the societies than I am. But yes, it's true that you can't blame everything wrong in some given part of the world on Western imperialism or Israeli machinations or whatever. I don't think Israel can be blamed for most of what is wrong in the Middle East.

      But the Middle East is not unique--we focus on it now because of Israel and because of oil, but plenty of other places in the world have problems as serious either now or in the very recent past. As recently as the 80's people in the US sometimes claimed Latin America was and always would be a nest of dictatorships, either leftwing or rightwing, and the US, or so the claim went, was largely free from blame. Supposedly it was their Spanish Catholic colonial heritage (or Portuguese I suppose in the case of Brazil). Sub-Saharan Africa seemed to be a permanent basket case--people defended apartheid South Africa on the grounds that other places in the region were worse (similar to how Israel is defended) and they also pointed out that Western colonialism couldn't be the only reason for this. And there are still massive problems in Africa. Then there is Sri Lanka, whose recent civil war ended with massive atrocities and currently Burma (or last I heard) is persecuting its Muslims. India has had violence between Muslims and Hindus. China is economically successful right now, but has horrible pollution problems and we'll see how well they manage to deal with them under a dictatorial system. Europe, of course, was one of the most screwed up places on the planet (I'm using technical sociological terminology) in the first half of the 20th century, but is doing much better now.

      I agree that in all the above cases the problems were not solely due to Western interference--in some cases that's at best a small contributing factor. The precise degree to which the West can be blamed is going to vary from case to case and people will never entirely agree.

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