Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 6340 (since 2009-07-31 03:28:07)


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

Showing comments 6340 - 6301

  • Scripted Hate: What to expect when Campus Watch writes about you
    • "Due to our department ofobfuscation and mystification".

      Any job openings in that department? Resume on request, but I think my body of work speaks for itself.

  • CUFI Leader John Hagee confirms Christian Zionism is anti-Semitic
    • Along with others here, I agree with JeffB's first point--fundamentalist Christians think everyone except those who convert are going to hell, so it is a form of political correctness in the bad sense to claim they are somehow singling out Jews.

      Jeff's second point about what some other Christians do in singling out Jews as special as dangerous is right, but not necessarily for who he means. It would depend on the historical circumstances, I suppose, but nowadays it would probably be Christians who are ashamed of historical Christian anti-semitism who would adopt that line and the danger would be for Palestinians, whose own rights are ignored out of a fear that criticism of Israel is somehow anti-Semitic.

    • Why is it dumb? You mean dumb in some political sense? Martin Luther was an anti-Semite and Blumenthal is rightly criticizing the fatuous idiocy one often hears, which is that Islam needs to go through something like the Reformation. I've never understood why secularists say this, except maybe it is out of sheer historical ignorance. Do people want to see a century or more of religious wars?

      In fact, one could say the fighting between Sunnis and Shiites bears a certain resemblance to the fighting between Catholics and Protestants. I think people must have in mind that the Reformation brought about religious freedom, but that came more than a century after Luther and was more a reaction to all the bloodletting.

  • Emails show Missouri museum canceled 'Ferguson to Palestine' event under pressure from Jewish group
    • The Justice Department found that the Ferguson police force is racist and corrupt. You either favor this or you don't pay attention to news stories outside what you get from Faux.

  • In Israel, the mask is finally off
    • "There was much propaganda involved in blaming Arafat for the failure of Camp David, but Barak was serious until time was up."

      Much of that propaganda came from Clinton and Barak and that detracts from whatever seriousness they had about peace. When the chips were down they both agreed to make it seem like it was all Arafat's fault and as Teapot points out, the responsibility of the Israeli electorate for choosing Sharon goes unmentioned.

      This matters because even if one accepted a 2SS as the best achievable result, it's clear that most of its advocates in the US and Israel were and are more interested in upholding Israel's reputation than in putting any real pressure on Israel to accept it. So we had a decade where we constantly heard that the Palestinians were offered peace and Arafat rejected it--full stop. That was an excuse for continued settlement building. Then the somewhat hazy Olmert- Abbas talks took place and nothing came of them, except another legend about how the Palestinians had a "generous offer" on hand and rejected it.

      I suspect you agree with much or most of this, Yonah, so I'm not criticizing you. But I think you're overly hard on David Glick. Even if Barak and/or Olmert were partly sincere, it doesn't matter much. If Barak and Clinton genuinely put peace ahead of their own reputations, they wouldn't have spent the following decade putting all the blame on Arafat.

  • American Jews are taking back their power from Israel
    • "Mika Brzenski has really been playing hardball on this issue the last couple of mornings on Morning Joe (Scarborough not there) This morning she went off on guest asking why everyone is blaming Obama for the rift “what are you afraid of” …”who will cut through the bs” She was really digging in. "

      Might be her dad's influence, not that I want to take any credit away from her. Her father really ripped into Joe on this issue once--I'm not a regular viewer, but I saw the clip online.

  • I want my country back
  • Why did Herzog run scared? He fears the Israeli people
    • Yeah, Israel only murders Palestinians in large numbers if they react violently to Israel's normal levels of oppression.

    • The only "liberal" Zionists I think the Palestinians could work with, in the sense of getting some sort of acceptable deal (depending on whether the Palestinians will settle for a 2SS and that's up to them), are the Zionists who are honest enough to say that the Gaza War was an Israeli atrocity and who are honest enough to admit that Israel is practicing apartheid on the WB. If they don't have the basic honesty to do these things, then they can't be trusted, even if they are critical of Netanyahu. Chances are their criticism is tactical in nature--they're mainly worried Netanyahu is doing his best to destroy the bipartisan support American politicians have given to Israel.

      Not that I think we can count on Netanyahu to do that. The pushback against Obama is already strong, and it's going to get stronger.

  • Bill Maher justifies Netanyahu's racism by saying U.S. has done much worse
    • The whole image is grotesque and sexist. A crazy woman is trying to kill you, so you merely hold her wrists and then have to slap her? That sounds more like a comedian's funny haha depiction of domestic violence. It reminds me of the "funny" depictions of violence against women in shows and movies from the 1950's that I've seen--Maher is a couple of generations behind the times, though he does have an appreciative audience.

    • It's understood that politicians can't be trusted--it's a truism. They want to be re-elected and they will ditch any principle to achieve that goal. Maher prides himself on looking at the facts and telling unpleasant truths. I think he's a pompous jerk and not just on the I/P conflict--his comparison of Hamas and Israel to a crazed woman being slapped by a man shows he is an ass on other subjects as well. And he has an enthusiastic audience who defends him on everything.
      He's got his niche, just like Fox News.

      What is disgusting about the American political scene is how much attention is paid to people who just aren't that bright or insightful, but they have a way with "witty" invective, though the wit is often in the eye of the beholder. People like Maher because he insults other people they don't like. Fox News is loved by conservatives for the same reason. It's a common flaw, and I share it, but it's not a good way to approach issues. What is bothersome is that, unfortunately, Maher has enough of a platform and is taken seriously enough that people think they have to refute him.

    • I can't stand the claim that he doesn't support violence when he clearly does. Basically, he and Sam Harris and their fans are bigots who support state terror against Muslims and yet they claim to be doing it in the name of secular liberal values. They represent secular liberal values in the same way that the torturers of the Inquisition exemplified the Sermon on the Mount.

    • Moore missed the point, perhaps deliberately since Maher is his friend. Maher doesn't just criticize the crimes and stupidities of Muslim fundamentalists--he took the side of Israel during the Gaza slaughter because of his mania against Islam. That's sick and if his fan club can't see where he crosses the line from legitimate criticism of fanaticism to being an advocate for war crimes, then they share his sickness or are deliberately blinding themselves to the flaw of their hero. He's been doing this for awhile now and I've heard him claim he gets more applause for his Muslim bashing , so apparently he has the audience that deserves him.

    • And here's the great progressive hero of the cable shows managing to be sexist, bigoted, and defend war crimes all in one tweet---

      "Dealing w/ Hamas is like dealing w/ a crazy woman who's trying to kill u - u can only hold her wrists so long before you have to slap her"

      Lovely man, Bill Maher. I can sure see why people admire his insights.

    • I take it then, Chris O, you didn't get that upset when Bill Maher defended Israel's actions last summer, a course he took because of his kneejerk Islamophobia. So he defends the killing of hundreds of Palestian children because of his bigotry, but that doesn't count as support for violence. Is that what you want to say?

      I don't know, Chris--when I see someone like that go on and on about how Islam encourages violence and then he supports extreme violence himself, it makes me a bit queasy. I actually do agree with Maher on some issues, but this one seems kind of important to me. The fact that so many progressives side with Maher and don't call him out on this suggests that maybe it's really just another form of tribalism at work. They like him because his smugness and insults towards some groups make them feel good. That's human--I fall into the same trap too. I don't personally find Maher a very interesting man, but I suppose I could have an admiration for someone else, only to find out that this person was defending war crimes. That would upset me. I might react to criticism of my hero by lashing out at people who attack him.

      On the Democrats, the fact is that in politics we rarely have really good candidates who have a chance of winning, so people react in various ways. Some go third party. Some vote lesser of two evils, but people who do this should still criticize the candidate they vote for if that candidate takes a nauseating position on some issue, which most Democrats do. But it's a big mistake to make a cult of personality around a politician, for the same reason it's stupid to admire someone like Maher.

    • "I’ve tried for years to come up with an explanation as to why many otherwise rational people (people that I know personally and know aren’t evil monsters) become such bizarre zealots when it comes to Israel and Zionism. They totally lose sight of reality. "

      No need to apologize. It's a good question and I've noticed it too in people I know, so yeah, otherwise decent and rational people can have enormous blind spots.

      In Maher's case, I think it's worse because he has a public forum and is exposed to the arguments against his position and he simply rejects them in favor of bigotry. I can understand people who do it out of religious conviction, oddly enough. There is a whole view of the world they have and sometimes they feel it's oddly fragile and if they give in on one point (the creationist movement is another example of this) their whole view of the meaning of life will collapse. They are wrong, but I get part of what motivates them and why they think it is so important.

      But I don't quite get what is at stake for Maher. Except that he is just a racist a-hole.

    • I don't think Maher is a good man and your own description of him makes him out to be a bigot. I think it reflects very badly on progressives in the US that people pay attention to him, as though his views merit respect, in the same way that the popularity of the Fox News channel reflects poorly on conservatives. Maher might be right on some or many issues, but he is still a bigot who defends war crimes.

    • Maher defended Israel's conduct in Gaza, so this is expected. What irritates me are the people who say these Islamophobes aren't haters who justify violence. Of
      course they are. Maher has his progressive fan club, which to my mind means that many self-identified progressives are bigots and haters themselves.

  • Apartheid is no longer verboten word for Israel in 'NYT' and 'CNN'
    • Before we give the NYT too much credit, Rudoren claimed Israelis knew Netanyahu was just pandering to his base and it was the Obama people who took him at his word. I think the reason the NYT is reporting accurately, to the extent that they are, is because the Obama Administration has lost all patience with Netanyahu. When the current American President openly criticizes Netanyahu, I think it undermines attempts at spinning what Netanyahu said, but given half a chance, many liberal Zionists will try to cover for Netanyahu in a desperate attempt to keep the fake peace process alive.

  • Netanyahu's victory marks the end of the two-state solution
    • The NYT is trying to do this--their job is complicated by the fact that the Obama Administration is deeply disgusted by Netanyahu and isn't buying it, at least at the moment, so Rudoren and company try to make it seem like the Israelis all know Netanyahu was just appealing to his base, while the Obama people think he really doesn't want a 2SS. Which is BS--I don't doubt that some Israelis are spinning it that way, but I doubt anyone in Israel really believes Netanyahu wants a 2SS. Here's the story--

      NYT piece

      Here are two paragraphs where the NYT contrasts what Washington thinks with what Israelis supposedly think--

      "In Israel, Mr. Netanyahu’s apparent reversal regarding a Palestinian state on the eve of an election was largely seen as a blatant, somewhat desperate appeal to take votes from parties on his right flank — which appears to be exactly what happened."

      "Many analysts expected Mr. Netanyahu to backtrack after the ballots were tallied; after all, back in 2009, he refused to explicitly endorse an independent Palestinian state right up until the Bar-Ilan speech in which he did so.

      But in Washington, many officials have long suspected that Mr. Netanyahu was never serious about making peace with the Palestinians or about the American-brokered negotiations toward such an outcome that collapsed last spring. So when a right-leaning Israeli news site asked him directly on Monday, “If you are prime minister, a Palestinian state will not be established,” and he answered, “Correct,” they pounced."

      So the NYT propaganda line is pretty clear--Netanyahu didn't really mean it, and Israelis supposedly know this, but those silly Obama people think his stated opposition to a 2SS was heartfelt.

  • Who can save Israel now?
    • "i’m not allowed a few sentences of displacement even if I add something of substance afterward?!"

      Okay, just this once.

    • Yonah, what you're doing in this comment is called "displacement". The Israeli electorate just chose a racist apartheid supporter and you show your unhappiness by bashing Phil. Phil is too much of an optimist, as many have said (including me). I've called him a cheerleader on other occasions. That said, he's done a superb job with the website. If he was overly optimistic the other day, it was a mistake he made with many others. I was willing to be slightly optimistic the other day.


    • "Damage control will save liberal Zionists from losing faith in Israel"

      I think that's a fundamental truth about most liberal Zionists. Whatever happens, they find some way to spin it. Most of the time it boils down to some crude Orwellian tactics--facts down the memory hole and settling on a one line bumper sticker slogan in place of real history. That's what Friedman did in his column today.

    • I'm not quite so hopeful about liberal Zionists in the West. Some may come to their senses, some not. Tom Friedman found time to put part of the blame for the election on Hamas and its "insane war" last summer, plus the "fact" that the Palestinians turned down two peace offers under Barak and Olmert. So with Israeli brutality last summer on full display and its naked racism in the election equally exposed, he more or less splits the blame.

      And the new line people are spouting in the NYT news reports--Netanyahu is a pragmatist. The 2ss isn't dead, because we can put our faith in the fact that Netanyahu is a cynical liar who will say anything to win an election. You can't make this stuff up.

  • Why I hope Netanyahu will be crushed tonight
    • I hope you're right. Like some others, I don't feel confident predicting the future. I can predict the past though (hat tip to Bohr's comment on that). In the past, when liberal Zionists are in power it is very very easy for mainstream American liberals to assume that a "peace process" is all that is needed and if it doesn't produce results, to then blame the Palestinians. You find this narrative spouted in virtually every comment thread at the NYT--that Israel offered the Palestinians peace several times, and they rejected it. So I expect more of the same. The only thing that has produced real criticism of Israel in the US are people like Netanyahu, Begin, and Sharon. Netanyahu's arrogance is so breathtaking it became impossible to ignore. Get rid of him and the US press and politicians go right back to their comfort zone. And if you think anti-Zionists will now have a place at the table in the US, show the evidence. I don't see it.

      Which is not to say that you're all wrong either--Netanyahu is such a warmonger it would be safer to have a saner person as Prime Minister, at least from the standpoint of making an attack on Iran a bit less likely. And maybe the liberal Zionists can be challenged to deliver. I'll be happy if liberal Israelis can produce a real peace--there's just not much evidence that they can.

      I'm reminded a little of Obama's Nobel Peace Prize--he got it for his Obamaness, not for any actual accomplishment at that point. (He might deserve one if the Iran deal goes through, though he is still terrible on the drone strike issue). Liberal Zionists often get credit for imaginary accomplishments in the same way. Maybe they can deliver, but right now Obama has a better chance of that.

  • 'We aim to shape the democratic and moral alternative in this country' -- an interview with Ayman Odeh
    • I'd be happy if Israel reforms itself from the inside. It'd be by far the best outcome, if Israeli Palestinian citizens worked with liberal Israeli Jews against racist policies and the sorts of economic inequalities that Krugman wrote about today. Fine with me if we outsiders are irrelevant. But I don't know how likely this is.

  • Sheldon Adelson is not the problem
    • Thanks, IB. Derfner is always worth reading. I don't think Adelson is king, just that in the US and probably over there he uses his considerable influence for bad causes. It's like Fox News--I don't think Fox is enough to wreck the country, but it has probably played a big role in making the American right more irrational.

      How much would I quantify all this? No idea.

    • In your article I think you take a pollyanish view of Adelson--he isn't merely participating in the political process. he is doing his best to use his wealth to get what he wants and much of what he wants is immoral. He wasn't simply naive in suggesting we bomb the Iranian desert. He suggested threatening a second bomb on Teheran if we didn't get our way. So, no, I don't find this merely naive. You point to the fact that his contributions are only 2 percent of the total, but if his influence is so negligible, why wasn't he rendered an instant pariah after he made the bomb the desert and then threaten to bomb Teheran remark? You quote people who say Adelson is a mean person when crossed and seem to admire him for making billions. I don't get this. What is admirable here? making billions might be admirable in some respects if one does it by making a genuine contribution to society in the process, but doing it via casinos? it's good that he donates to charity--that is yet another demonstration that people are rarely if ever the embodiment of pure evil.

      I think there is also a bit of undemocratic thinking in your notion that a great many ordinary people could cancel out Adelson by contributing money to the opposing side of whatever issue. That amounts to the notion of one dollar, one vote. The fundamental problem is this--why should billionaires have vastly more influence than ordinary people? yes, if we are going to have billionaires throwing money around I would prefer to have them on my side, but I'd much rather not have them wield that kind of influence--we basically have a new aristocracy.

      on the rightward drift of US politics, I partly agree with your explanation. I grew up watching white southerners turn Republican and yes, it was in large part true that many of those same people were bigots. But I also grew up watching how programs like Friedman's series Free to Choose" introduce the meme that government was always the problem into people's brains. there was a deliberate concerted effort by rightwingers to turn people against liberalism on the domestic front, and to make militarism the default option in our foreign policy. that can't be blamed solely on the militaristic and racist tendencies of white Southern voters and the way the Constitution gives excessive power to certain regions of the country.

      I suspect with no proof that you might be bothered by the coverage given Adelson because he is a living incarnation of an anti-Semitic stereotype. If so, I think your reaction is misplaced. the problem is the excessive influence of the wealthy on the political process--in this case the repugnant rich guy is also a Likudist Most people are smart enough not to make stupid generalizations from this. But I'm just guessing--that might not be a motive here.

    • Try a little harder to overcome your attitude about grammar. Quite a few intelligent people make spelling and grammatical mistakes. Also, I've found my own mistakes are greatly multiplied when I use an IPad-- some of it is due to my fingers being a little too large and the rest is the IPad correction software. One of the things I think it has done is correct its with it's, or maybe the other way around.

    • I think there is some truth to this post but it is overstated. The part that is true is that the US and Israel are both settler colonialist state and there is a cultural affinity there. Many Christians in the US are Zionists, and that part about Jacksonians who tend to be warlike also rings true. I think Mead was working off of an idea proposed in the book Albion's Seed by the historian David Hackett Fischer (not sure of the spelling). So if there weren't these cultural proclivities the Israel lobby wouldn't have as much traction.

      That said, if money wasn't involved I don't think you'd have this reflexively Orwellian praise for Israel and its values by nearly every American politician. We may be a militaristic country, but there was much more division about, say, the Central American wars a few decades ago or even about Iraq. But Israel is a sacred cow and when they bombed Gaza and kill hundreds of children, what I remember from Washington was a lot of nonsense about Israel having a right to defend itself. Kerry when he thought he was off camera expressed some disgust. And remember how Christie had to genuflect after he used the term occupied territories? Most Americans wouldn't have known or cared. it' absurd to deny the role of money here.
      Also, we are finally getting the MSM to admit the role of money from a few rich donors in helping to determine what DC types say and how policy is set. No sane person denies how much influence money can have in politics, so why would anyone deny it here?

    • Ever hear of the "Overton. Window"? If not, google it. What happens is that people on the pro-Palestinian side say that international law supports a 2ss solution along the 67 lines and then that becomes the leftmost position. Israel supporters then start haggling over how much of the remaining land they can take or keep. That is what happens when the U.S. is the mediator. So even if one thinks a 2ss along the 67 lines was the best achievable solution, it makes sense to,point out just how much the Palestinians are giving up, so as to rebut the claims that Israel is making a generous offer when it offers something even less than the 67 lines.

      The fact is that even the 47 partition was unfair to Palestinians, giving them less than half the land when they were 2/3 of the population at the time. A 1ss with equal rights for all would be fair. It may or may not be achievable, but the Israelis in their arrogance are making even the 67 lines unachievable.

    • Well, that was unintentionally revealing. It's not uncommon for people to be upset by grammatical mistakes. But when you use this as an excuse to dismiss substance it tells everyone what sort of contributor you are likely to be.

  • We may not have Netanyahu to kick around anymore
    • It did occur to me that there is one way non-Netanyahu might be better--aren't the more liberal Israelis more sane regarding Iran? I don't know that for a fact, but I get that impression because of the stories about the Israeli intelligence figures who disagree with Netanyahu. A bit more sanity about Iran would be a good thing.

      But I don't know the spectrum of opinion on Iran in Israel.

    • The problem with the South Africa analogy is that while Israel behaves about as badly as apartheid SA, in the US amongst liberals this still isn't recognized. Netanyahu was finally making a real difference with his hubris--Democrats who were otherwise in Israel's corner no matter what were forced to pick between Obama and Netanyahu and some of them chose Obama. A mainstream Zionist who isn't a complete numbskull will know better than to split the bipartisan consensus in American politics. The liberals who have been criticizing Netanyahu still claimed to love Israel, and at his very worst, they still split the blame 50/50 between Netanyahu and the Palestinians for the lack of peace. If Netanyahu loses, American liberal PEP types will be back in their comfort zone, back to supporting the never ending peace process, and back to putting 90 percent of the blame on the Palestinians for the failure to achieve peace. Kerry will adopt the Israeli pov and try to force the PA to accept--if they refuse, then Friedman and most of the American liberal pundits will line up with Kerry and the Israeli "liberal Zionists" in sighing and claiming that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

      Or that's what they will try. If you are an optimist, you might hope that people in the press will have wised up and will cover the issue differently. Dream on. I hope I'm wrong. Some part of me thinks maybe with the internet and so forth things will be different, but I think most of the mainstream media will continue to be awful.

  • UC Berkeley Israel group wants to ban imaginary word rhyming with intifada as 'triggering, terrifying'
    • Thanks. I may try to find it online.

    • Sounds like you still believe the "Gone With the Wind"/"Birth of a Nation" version of what caused white racism during Reconstruction. It was all that carpetbagger corruption and rule by ignorant freemen--otherwise the South would have quickly become an interracial paradise. That was the view adopted by white America for nearly a century because it made reconciliation between white Northerners (who were also racist) and white Southerners easier. Okay, maybe you don't think that, but the analogy works against a defense of Israel.

      In fact whites in the South had no intention of allowing blacks to have equal rights. If you are making a direct analogy between their attitudes and those of Israeli Jews, I don't disagree. People usually have great trouble seeing the injustice of a system that benefits them. And yes, this would make a 1ss wth equal rights for all very difficult to achieve.

    • I'm hoping for cute cat YouTube videos.

      Several years ago someone here linked to an Israeli satirical TV show with a class of adorable four year old Israeli children dutifully repeating all the standard Israeli propaganda, sometimes with a bit of a twist. (I forget why, but somehow Norwegian salmon were anti-Semitic.) It was great and if I thought it necessary to point out that Israel has virtues, I'd point to that show as an example. it doesn't cancel out war crimes and apartheid.

    • Your last paragraph is very much to the point, unlike most of the rest. Virginia exists today, and without slavery. A lot of Virginians in 1861 were opposed to that-- we don't look kindly on them now and that is even with allowances for the time in which they lived.

      And divorce rates? I wonder if you realize how ridiculous you sound. You don't seem to get this, but I don't think Israel's apartheid (which the U.S. supports in practice) means that everything about Israel is bad, but the fact that there are good things about the country doesn't mean that we should pretend their crimes are tiny and that we should support them.

      I await another 1000 word essay about, say, how Israelis pamper their pets. I have a soft spot for that kind of thing, so you might want to try that next.

    • "However, if we’re doing this for one group, we have to do it for everybody. "

      No we don't. We could single out people who have personally experienced violence who might want a warning if a novel or film contains scenes depicting violence. In other words, people who genuinely suffer from post traumatic stress disorder could request trigger warnings on material that they might encounter in a class. (I don't know what happens next--do people who want this policy then request some sort of transcript be made? But I'll let colleges figure that out if they want to go this route.)

      But there is no reason why people should have trigger warnings because they might have to read some pro-Zionist or anti-Zionist literature or be exposed to protests.

    • "on the “I-just-stopped-by-to-see-what-condition-the-Jewish -condotion-is-in” thread, Hophmi wrote several very enlightening paragraphs on the failings of Jews that convert, and I responded, and then Hophmi’s post had vanished."

      That sounded sort of interesting. Too bad I missed it.

    • Page: 63
    • "If you can’t convince them with your bullshit, try burying them with it. "


    • I'd agree with a lot of that, in praise of Israel, but it is absurd to praise them for their values when the entire state is based on ethnic cleansing and they are still practicing a form of apartheid.

      Again, you know this and you know the answer to your whataboutery. You're trying to distract attention from what Israel does to the Palestinians--all of your words are basically about that. Another reason I'm not replying in depth is that it just plays your game. It'd be like saying there was nothing wrong with late 18th century Virginia because look at all the great men they produced. Forget about that slavery stuff--slavery was common. I assume you do this to convince yourself--you can't possibly think it's going to convince anyone who didn't want to dismiss Israel's crimes and America's complicity in them .

    • This was in response to JeffB, but the post looks like it is going up on its own, rather than as a reply to him.

      There is a word count escalation going on here and I would have to type twice as much to refute all the things in your post I think are wrong. So, no, I'm not going to do it. I'll stick briefly to one issue--the Nakba. Israel is like most other settler colonial states, including the US. What is different is that it happened in the mid 20th century and the ones who expelled the natives were themselves oppressed (horrifically so) and so I for one can sympathize with the desire to have their own state. But it happened in the traditional Western way, by driving out the natives. And it's absurd to talk about how Israel is singled out by its opponents, when its supporters in the US are the ones who singled it out for absurd, over the top praise and dishonest propaganda.

    • Incidentally, I clearly have too much time on my hands. If you pay any attention at all, you know the answers to yourarguments. I find some of your posts interesting and worth reading JeffB, but when you try to make moral arguments they are often weird, silly (putting it kindly) and pretty much the same. My responses will also always be the same.

    • This is just bad faith on your part, JeffB. We've just had weeks where the extreme devotion of American politicians to Israel has been on the front pages of the paper and comparing this to our trade volume with China is stupid. You're not stupid. China's human rights policies are beyond our control, but nobody pretends China is some human rights paragon. Israel could be pressured by the US, but our politicians prefer to give them support and money and claim we share similar values, which we do, but not necessarily in a good way.

      And there is clearly a reason why supporters of Israel will be biased against Palestinians--it's the same reason for white racism in America. When you hurt a group of people or support an organization which hurts a group of people, you have to rationalize it by saying that the people you hurt deserved it. This is just basic psychology. We all know it's true. It's true in our daily lives if we hurt someone and we rationalize it by saying they had it coming. Israel exists as a Jewish state because it forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians out of the country and didn't let them back in. For decades the storyline was that they left voluntarily at the behest of Arab leaders and intended to come back to pillage their Jewish neighbors. I'd heard that one myself and I actually heard it repeated by a Christian Zionist friend in real life a year or two ago.

      And "destroying Israel" is comparable to "destroying South Africa" back in the apartheid days. I'm not personally wedded to a 1ss or a 2ss. If the Palestinians will settle for a 2SS, it'll be easier to achieve. If they want a 1SS, it has to be one guaranteeing equal rights for everyone or I'd be opposed. If equal rights is equivalent to destruction, then I suppose I also could favor Ferguson's destruction.

    • I was originally opposed to trigger warnings altogether because I thought they infantilized people, but on reading a bit more I can see them as legit for someone who has suffered rape or some other kind of violence. Some people suffer from PTSD. But extending this to heated political issues is just a transparent attempt at bullying and censorship--a way to claim privilege. But if we were talking about a student who had been raped receiving a warning about graphic violence in an assigned movie or novel, then I think that would be appropriate.

      I just read your link--the similarity between what I wrote and what was at the link is coincidental or an example of great minds thinking alike. I think it would be silly to provide trigger warnings for works depicting racism, etc…Your link seems to oppose them altogether, but I still could see it for cases involving works that contain graphic violence.

    • Thanks mooser. That was a little confusing--I hadn't seen that happening before that I can remember.

    • This is odd--I typed what is below as a response to JeffB and now I can't find his post. either it was removed or I'm temporarily blind.

      Okay, a few points. First, you said that bigotry among Jews is caused by anti-semitism, which might be possible, but when people say that some anti-semitism is caused by Israel's behavior they are accused of anti-semitism themselves. So which is it? Can bigotry be caused in part by the bad behavior of others?

      Second, the fact is that many on the pro-Israel side don't make a distinction between anti-semitism and criticism of Israel. They say they do, but they often just mean that no criticism of Israel should have any bite to it. For instance, the U.S. gov is linked quite strongly to Israel--most of Congress genuflect to them and yet you don't want Americans to say any more about their crimes unless we first criticize Kazakhstan. It's like saying that I can't criticize Ferguson police unless I first criticize Kazakhstan. if Israel is just another country to Americans, then you're right, but the reality is that our politicians have been trained to treat Israel as the 51st state.

      Finally, I suspect the Jews who show contempt forPalestinians have that contempt no matter what school they happen to be--they aren't motivated to express it in public as much if the default assumption is that Israel's human rights violations aren't important. But cross that line and the mask comes off. There is probably some degree of bigotry in all of us. It may take something to bring it to the surface.

    • The history of both intifadas involve many more Palestinian civilians killed by Israel than the other way around, and in both cases Israel remained as their oppressive rulers. If it is just a question of history, then the atrocities of both sides should be discussed and the numbers given. That isn't what this is about--it's about people trying to claim they are being victimized by a word and in the process, glossing over which side suffered more and which side is the oppressed.

      And it's also about racist contempt--the NYT dedicated a page long story to the bigoted phrasing of a student at UCLA and she apologized. I'm not expecting them to write a story about the outright hatred expressed in this story by the pro-Israel side. . This shouldn't be a mere blog post. If the NYT wants to claim BDS is motivated by bigotry in some cases, then let them go to campuses and see just how much bigotry there might be on either side.

    • The student who asked if another student could be fair since she was Jewish apparently merited a page long NYT story for her bigoted phrasing and she apologized. The woman in this story has people wishing she would die and she gets a very well written blog post. Let me know when the NYT does a page long story on the hatred found on the pro-Israel side. Clearly it exists, but for some reason isn't considered important enough for the NYT to write about.

  • Racism disguised as liberal anguish
    • No I don't think that's what happened regarding the withdrawal. Sharon withdrew settlers, but didn't ease up on control of Gaza's borders. One of Sharon's advisers (Dov Weissglass, I think, but I can't recall the exact spelling) said that it was really a ploy to keep the West Bank. Appear to show that Israel is reasonable and if there is any Palestinian violence, then there's the excuse to maintain control.

      As for violence, it's often been the case that Israel shoots, Palestinians fire rockets, Israel then "retaliates". The first step is often omitted in Western press coverage. But just the other day a Gazan fisherman was shot. If that had been an Israeli shot by Hamas, there would have been retaliation, and it would have been reported as such, but if some Palestinian group fires rockets in retaliation for the fisherman, then I can guarantee that Israel will retaliate for the retaliation and the NYT will leave out the fisherman. Palestinians live in a background of violence and oppression by the Israelis and the Western or at least the American press often reports the violence as only beginning when a Palestinian fires a rocket.

      As for who has said what sorts of nasty things, I think you find plenty of that on both sides. There is a failing of both Americans and Israelis, however, in thinking that because they condemn some specific nastiness by some extremist on their own side this gets them off the hook on the bigger issue. This just came up on a TV show in America last night on the subject of Ferguson. The whole police force has been acting racist in incredible ways, but the only two people who have been fired were fired because of some racist emails. They deserved to be fired, I assume, but they were scapegoats. The root problem is much deeper. So coming back to Israel, I know the killers of the Palestinian last summer were condemned, but earlier that summer, as Mondoweiss recently covered, Palestinians had been shot by an Israeli soldier. That is systemic, and it's not something that can be blamed on a few bad apples, though that's what Israelis try to do.

      As for what happens here, people have seen so many attempts at Israeli self-justification that we generally react harshly to posts like yours. If Israelis are sincere about wanting peace, you guys are going to have to get serious about the oppression of the Palestinians. This doesn't mean that you don't worry about terrorism--it means that you start looking at the systemic problems in your society that cause so much harm to Palestinians. Again, I'll use an American example. Where I grew up the whites seem to assume that once Jim Crow policies were lifted, everything was fine, white racism was no longer a factor, and they could immediately start blaming blacks for being poor. It's forty years later and we're seeing in the news that we are still living in a country that has entire police forces that are basically corrupt racist gang members. So no, I don't think Israelis are some uniquely evil group-that's silly. But Israelis grow up in a society that exists as a Jewish state because of ethnic cleansing just 70 years ago and tells itself this was justified. This has got to permeate the society in all kinds of unhealthy ways, similar to how the history of the US has been permeated with racism towards blacks and Native Americans and to varying degrees other groups as well.

    • Well, random character pseudonym person I agree that Palestinians have committed atrocities against Israeli civilians. I agree that this is immoral. I would be fine if the ICC holds all sides to account. But you didn't try to have a conversation based on facts. You tried to pin all the blame for the conflict on the Palestinians and you defended Israel's blockade, and you acted as though I in particular defend Hamas, on no evidence at all. You then make sweeping statements about how all of us are haters. In fact there are various views here about the Middle East--we are in agreement that Israel violates human rights on a massive scale and does so with America's backing, which is why the issue concerns those of us who are American.

      The point of the original post was that defenders of Israel often express compassion for Palestinians and then justify everything that Israel does on the grounds that it is all Hamas's fault. You then came in and did the same thing in your first post. I agree that Hamas is a rightwing religious organization, which is generally bad news, and has a despicable charter and a long history of atrocities. And none of that justifies a draconian blockade against everyone in Gaza. Yes, if the blockade were lifted it would probably mean more weapons would be smuggled in, but it's also true that Gazans would benefit enormously from being able to conduct normal economic activity and rebuild. It's sheer bad faith to ignore this, but that's what Israel defenders do--rather than make legitimate points they go way beyond the facts and pretend that what Israel does is fine, because if Israel behaved humanely it would only benefit Hamas.

      So then, would it be okay to impose a draconian blockade on Israel until they leave the West Bank and lift the blockade on Gaza? Would it be okay to pretend that this is fine, because if the blockade were lifted the Israelis would only import more weapons to kill civilians and build more settlements? Would it be okay to target the homes of Likud members and IDF soldiers with precision missiles? Would it be okay to pretend that innocent Israeli children wouldn't suffer under such policies and if they did, it would all be Israel's fault? Does it ever once occur to you to think about this from the point of view that both sides have equal human rights and collective punishment is bad and that it is wrong to blame the crimes of party X on party Y?

      Israel isn't being held to a higher standard. Israel is being allowed to act like apartheid South Africa and call itself a democracy and receive weapons and support from the US. That's the real world. You complain because you think some blog commenters are being unfair, and you don't bother to get your facts right even on that utterly trivial issue.

    • As others have said, you just illustrated my point. You could have said that Hamas and the PA are themselves guilty of human rights violations and that would be true, but no, you also have to pretend to yourself that every act of cruelty committed by Israel is merely self defense.

    • Thanks. Ánd yes, this is a common meme--It's always been around, but I thought it really took off during the bombing last summer. I guess if you're a liberal and want to support Israel you have to find some way to rationalize it so that Hamas or someone other than the Israeli government gets virtually all the blame.

      A typo I didn't catch until now--I meant to say that Kristof's article didn't make the case against the blockade strongly enough, not that he didn't make it for the blockade strongly enough. Though given how he half argued that in some ways it was "working"' , maybe you could describe his column either way and it would be accurate.

  • Bearing witness in Gaza, Kristof can't see the bigger picture
    • "you would have no idea what the times would be like if it were actually 1/2 as pro-Zionist as you seem to think it is. "

      That's silly. I can't speak for Krauss--well, actually, in this case I probably can, because I doubt anyone here is unaware of the fact that the NYT is hated by the rightwing Zionist crowd and even some of the so-called liberal Zionists were upset that they gave as much coverage as they did to the slaughtered civilians in Gaza. So, yes, DeBakr, people here are well aware of just how far to the right the Zionist spectrum goes. People in that part of the spectrum are outraged by Tom Friedman or Kristof or the NYT for uttering any criticism of Israel at all, and Kristof here goes about as far as anyone in the opinion section ever does (except, I gather, Anthony Lewis way back, but I don't remember firsthand.) One can read the comments after Kristof's column and get a taste of it, and I've seen one article elsewhere just today where the author was blasting Kristof for criticizing Israel when it was all Hamas's fault.

    • I know you can't understand this, debakr, but I wouldn't want Kristof to talk about suicide bombing attacks as "effective"--sure, a terrorist strategy might achieve some sort of goal, but Kristof always writes from a moral standpoint, for better or worse, and one can see his cultural blindspots in this piece. Like many Westerners, he takes for granted that Westerners have the right to inflict pain and suffering on non-Westerners--he is bothered by it, but he is also willing to consider whether it might be working. If Israel Jews were trapped in Gaza and if hundreds of Israeli children had been blown up, he wouldn't be talking about effectiveness in this cold-blooded manner. And if he did, there would be massive outrage.

      Theoretically, though, if he were truly evenhanded and did want to talk about terrorist tactics by Palestinians in terms of their effectiveness, then he would at least be acting consistently.

    • Agreed. No one in the NYT would ever write in that dispassionate way about whether terrorism against Israeli civilians works. It's the usual double standard and what makes it worse is that it appears in a piece that is perceived in US circles as sympathetic to the Palestinians. That's how it often is at the NYT-- they sneak in some false "fact" or in this case a morally repulsive assumption into a piece that is somewhat critical of Israel. They did that a few weeks ago in a piece about atrocities in the 67 war. In that case it was a false assertion that Israel was fighting for its very survival in 67.

      I think it is wired into them to "balance" their stories this way.

  • 'NYT' reports 'surge of hostile sentiment against Jews' nationwide -- on what basis?
    • tree-- Thanks. I'd suggest emailing Phil or Adam and urging them to write a follow up post on the death threats. If Annie reads your post, as I assume she will, she may save you the trouble. In fact, I will do it myself.

      I still think people should be sensitive with questions that are about a student's religion. One can always ask a question about possible bias that cannot be fairly depicted as biased itself , though of course unfair accusations can still be made. Just stick to questions about the student's activism or previous statements. But yeah, if we are talking about hatred then death threats are a quantum leap in seriousness above an insensitive question.

    • This is for Annie. I'm not sure where it will go--

      I agree that there are double standards galore on this subject--the Atlantic just put out that article which said that Muslims who think their religion is one of peace believe in a candy coated version of Islam. You get to say things like that about Muslims in our hypocritical culture--that doesn't mean that we should accept it. I think Islamophobia is a vastly larger problem in our country than anti-semitism--setting aside the FBI reports on hate crimes, where anti-semitism is (I hear secondhand) worse, the fact is that we invaded Iraq, assassinate with drones, torture prisoners, and support Israeli war crimes in large part because it is easy to get people in the US to be afraid of Muslims.
      I also agree that many in the pro-Israel camp play a game where they say that Jews should support Israel and criticism of Israel feels threatening to them as Jews and in general do everything they can to conflate criticism of Israel ( except the toothless variety) with criticism of Jews, and then they pounce on anyone on the other side who is dumb enough to do the same thing, either deliberately or accidentally.

      The solution is to refuse to play the game by the rules of bigots. Bigots are the people who want to assume the worst of people because of their ethnicity or religion. Stick to specifics. if a particular individual or organization is an apologist for war criminals or terrorists or apartheid or whatever, you can talk about that person or that group and you can talk about how they use their religion to justify this or that crime, and you can do all that without making a statement that implies Muslims, Christians, or Jews are suspect simply because they are Muslims, Christians, or Jews.

      I actually think this article by Phil and James is insufficiently critical of the NYT piece--the people who scream anti-semitism at BDS supporters are demonstrating their own racism, because they can't see how the violations of Palestinian rights could be important to anyone. The pro Israel side reeks of racism and mostly gets away with it. But they get to pose as the ones who lecture others about bigotry.

    • Tree and others--If I had an exact transcript of the conversation I might or might not tone down my criticism of the student who asked the question. I skimmed eljay's link to a transcript and it seemed more of a paraphrase.

      I still think that asking someone about her being a Jew is a really stupid thing to do at best and the same would apply to any other faith--the student should have asked a more specific question about the student's history of activism for or against BDS, if any, assuming that this is something relevant to the position. Couching it in terms of the candidate being a Jew or a Muslim or a Christian should be out of bounds. If a history of activism is relevant , ask about that.

      I agree, as already stated, that people screaming that BDS is anti-Semitic are using this one stupid question in deeply cynical ways.

    • One other point. Kosmin in the NYT piece says that he has not come across anything as striking as what happened at UCLA. In other words, this gets massive attention because it's a clearcut case of someone making an anti-semitic remark while others go along with it. Later they apologize. This was both bad and stupid, as I already said, but if anti-semitism is widespread on campus there should be many more such cases, and I doubt people would apologize.

      On the other hand, the US invades a country on false pretenses, torturers innocent and guilty alike, blows up families with its drones, supports Israel's war crimes and Congress wildly applauds a foreign war criminal when he stops by to visit. And a man shoots three Muslims over a parking dispute after making clear his contempt for Islam. But no, that's not Islamophobia and it certainly isn't anything we need to worry about.

    • They had a conversation about whether this student could be fair because she was a Jew. They might have been thinking about BDS and Hillel and support for Israel's crimes or who knows what, but they made it about her Jewishness. That was anti-semitic and if they didn't mean it that way, it still doesn't get them off the hook. I'm glad they apologized, but it was a stupid and yes , anti-semitic thing to do and they have just given every BDS opponent an example that will be cited from now till doomsday. I agree with Phil and James about the awfulness of the NYT article and in fact I'd go further than that, and will in a minute, but these students made a bad mistake even if they didn't mean it the way it sounded.

      The thing I'd add about the NYT article is that there is a strain of racism in all the accusations that harsh criticism of Israel is motivated by anti-semitism. What the accusers are really saying is that no one could be upset by American complicty in Israeli war crimes against Palestinians unless we are driven by secret feelings of hatred for Jews. So Palestinians aren't important and nobody could have feelings based on other motives. We're all guilty until proven innocent and the only way to prove our innocence is to follow the lead of liberal Zionists and keep our criticisms very mild and essentially toothless.

  • Pelosi blasts Netanyahu speech as 'insult to intelligence of U.S.', Amanpour calls it 'dark, Strangelovian'
    • I agree with your agreement with me :). But it's not just the Zionists--it's a common Western attitude and when people say that the U.S. and Israel share common values, I think they are right in ways that aren't flattering to either.

    • I think that if you are worried about an Iranian bomb,then impoverishing the Iranian people for several more years is a good way to increase hatred. I don't speak as some expert and I am not being snarky, just pointing out how people are likely to react to what they will perceive (rightly, IMO) to Western hypocrisy and brutality. Allow ordinary Iranians to lead a decent life or at least take away the Western-imposed obstacle and we may find that Iranians as a whole want friendship with the West. At the very least, if things are still bad for Iranians,the government won't have the excuse of the sanctions to explain it. I might be wrong about this, but I suspect the real danger here is Western arrogance creating more hatred for ourselves.

      Incidentally, many of the same people who casually support very harsh sanctions or blockades for Iranians, Iraqis (back in the 90's) or Gazans see the much less harsh proposal of BDS as some sort of anti semitic atrocity. I'm not talking about you, Yonah, as I don't know your position on BDS, but just pointing out the double standards of the West. And if I notice this, you know that many millions in the Middle East recognize it far more easily.

  • 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.

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