Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 5988 (since 2009-07-31 03:28:07)


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

Showing comments 5988 - 5901

  • Gaza onslaught is p.r. problem for Israel's 'moral authority' -- Albright
    • Why wouldn't it be a PR problem, DeBakr? Do you think that everyone appalled by Israel's actions is a blind propagandist like you are for the other side? I have no great feeling of sympathy for Hamas--I do want their actions, good and bad, reported accurately.

      As for poor little Israel, is the startup nation really so lacking in technological ability that they can't keep track of which school they want to bomb?

    • "Madeleine (500,000 dead Iraqis) Albright is hardly in a position to talk about moral authority."

      Yeah, that's true. Another hypocritical Westerner. Still, nice to see she does feel some squeamishness.

  • The deafening silence around the Hamas proposal for a 10-year truce
    • What JeffB means is that Israel is currently only interested in stealing land in the WB and if Gazans took no interest in the welfare of other Palestinians and surrendered to Israel's desires, just as Jordan and Egypt basically abandoned their cause, Israel might possibly kill fewer of them or allow them to trade with the outside world.

    • "First off trade is not in any system human right. No one has the right to trade with a 3rd party, trade requires the consent of both parties. Both the Israelis and the Gazans have rejected the idea of trade."

      Try and get your head out of the hasbara manual. Israel is blockading Gaza--that means Gazans are cut off from the world.

      As for BDS, I'm used to the pathological narcissism of Israelis and their defenders. Israel turns Gaza into a giant prison camp, then whines when someone boycotts them. Typical. If there was any chance of actually imposing the sort of draconian punishment on innocent Israeli citizens that Israel imposes on Gaza, I would oppose it, even though many of those Israelis fully deserve it. But not all--particularly not children. But this is something beyond your understanding.

      As for the 19th century, Israel stole the land in the 20th century and continues to steal more.

      Anyway I wasn't really talking to you. I've never met a defender of Israel's actions who was capable of moral consistency.

    • Um, no. Should Israel be placed under a draconian blockade until they end the occupation? Or do you think only one side has basic human rights at all times?

      The idea that instead of a truce, there should be a peace treaty is fine--on that point I think the Israeli side could make a strong case. Why settle for a truce? But basic human rights should be non-negotiable. Everyone stops firing, everyone stops violating human rights, and then the negotiations begin.

      But that "everyone stops violating human rights" is the tricky part, because violating human rights is what the settlement regime is all about. The problem here is that I don't expect Netanyahu has any interest in this whatsoever. He wants the status quo, with continued Israeli expansion in the WB, and the Gazans kept under control and under blockade until they simply surrender to whatever Israel wants from Palestinians in general.

    • "Why should it deserve serious coverage? It is not going to be accepted, "

      What JeffB means is that Gazans do not have basic human rights. They don't have the right to trade with the outside world or even to come and go without Israel's permission. So why should Israel be required to grant something so huge as basic human rights to Gazans in exchange for something so trivial as the cessation of rocket fire?

      From a vicious utterly immoral and racist viewpoint, this makes sense. Might makes right. Gazans are weak and should be treated with contempt.

  • ‘We have nothing left to lose. I would rather die with my family under the rubble of our house than have a humiliating truce’: Palestinian youth demand justice
    • Definitely a lie. I'm fuming right now because an earlier version of a Jodi Rudoren piece gave the full Hamas demands for a ceasefire--

      ""Ismail Haniya, until recently the Hamas prime minister, said in a speech broadcast from Gaza that the fighting would continue unless an agreement met the movement’s demands: opening crossings; lifting restrictions on fishing, farming, import and export; and releasing prisoners who were freed in a 2011 exchange for an abducted Israeli soldier and recently rearrested.
      “We’ll never go back to the period before the aggression, we’ll never go back to the slow death,” Mr. Haniya said in an address laden with Quranic verses. “Gaza will be the graveyard for the invaders, as it always was in the history.”

      The later version deleted the humanitarian parts and only mentioned the prisoners. I can only speculate, but I think it is the NYT trying to spin Hamas as being interested solely in its own members, not making any demands for the rights of the Gazan people. Not that Hamas is a wonderful organization by any means, but the current political line is to pretend concern for Gazans and blame all their suffering on Hamas. What this means in practice is that the West (and their Egyptian allies) want Gazans to suffer as a way of discrediting Hamas--only if Hamas goes will the blockade end would be my guess.

  • Dear American media, I’m asking you to simply tell what’s happening in Gaza
    • Okay, I take it back. I just returned to the link I posted above and they have modified what they wrote about Hamas's demands. Now it reads like this--

      "Ismail Haniya, until recently the Hamas prime minister, said in a speech Monday that fighting would continue until the movement’s demands were met, including the release of prisoners freed in a 2011 exchange for an abducted Israeli soldier and who were recently rearrested — something most experts find it hard to imagine Israel would consider."

      This is disgusting. Right now I feel like typing a string of curse words. There is no excuse for this--rather than inform their readers of what Hamas wants, which happens to be what all Gazans would want, the NYT instead panders to the notion that Hamas is mainly interested in freeing prisoners and centering the story on what Israel would or would not expect.

    • There's actually some moderately good news about the American press--it's doing a better than expected job at the moment. IMO, at least. Here's an example of what I mean--

      Jodi Rudoren's piece

      Rudoren gives the substance of Hamas's demands, and any fairminded person can see that they are just asking for basic human rights for Gazans. Here's the quote--

      "Ismail Haniya, until recently the Hamas prime minister, said in a speech broadcast from Gaza that the fighting would continue unless an agreement met the movement’s demands: opening crossings; lifting restrictions on fishing, farming, import and export; and releasing prisoners who were freed in a 2011 exchange for an abducted Israeli soldier and recently rearrested.

      “We’ll never go back to the period before the aggression, we’ll never go back to the slow death,” Mr. Haniya said in an address laden with Quranic verses. “Gaza will be the graveyard for the invaders, as it always was in the history.”


      Of course, judging from many in the NYT comments, the appeal to basic decency passed right over the heads of the Israel boosters.

  • Finally, Israel is alienating the US mainstream media
    • Come on, hophmi, whether Israel parades its dead in front of TV cameras or not, they certainly aren't shy about publicizing their dead and ignoring the innocent dead their soldiers have killed. I see this constantly whenever a pro-Israel type brings up the Second Intifada period and if one of those Hamas rockets hits and kills some civilians (and I for one hope none do), Israel will make damn sure it gets every conceivable moment of media attention it can. I wouldn't blame them on that point, though I do blame them on virtually everything else. No one would ever know from the pro-Israel side that the majority of the civilian dead were Palestinian killed by the IDF. Calling attention to the atrocities committed by the other side against your own and justifying your own atrocities against the enemy is a cultural universal. How that's done may vary, but certainly the suicide bombings against Israel received a huge amount of press, as they should and any "successful" rocket attack on Israeli civilians will be front page news on every newspaper in America.

      "It’s Max Blumenthal who said Jews who weren’t willing to indigenize should leave. Besides being a genocidal comment, it also raises the question of what indigenize mean. Perhaps it means that to be a part of the region, one has to take on the bad habits as well as the good ones. "

      Don't know exactly what he meant, but it doesn't sound genocidal to me. It sounds like "willing to get along with the neighbors " is probably what he meant. I doubt he meant that Israel should adopt its neighbor's worst habits (or vice versa). That's just you deliberately putting the worst interpretation on it.

    • "Donald, ..ask why after years and years— and I’ve been on the NYT and other major news comment boards for years—–the comments ‘suddenly’ turn from a majority of ‘critical’ on Israel to what you are seeing now."

      I've been wondering about that too. One theory of mine is that maybe some people are encouraged to go online and defend Israel. Another is that a lot of ordinary and fairly ignorant people who normally pay little attention to this issue do start paying attention during periods of extreme violence, and they think they know all the important things there are to know--in particular, they know that Hamas is pure evil and uses civilians as human shields and Israel is doing the best it can to avoid hurting civilians and Israel left Gaza and received rocket fire... A casual aquaintance with the topic from the MSM would easily mislead the average person into believing this.

      I do suspect some pro-Israel bias in how the "NYT picks" are chosen, but there are some decent critical of Israel pieces picked as well. However, they often pick a lot of really stupid pieces which areinexcusably bad. I seriously doubt they'd ever pick a blatantly anti-semitic one, or even allow such a post to be published. This might be unconscious bias.

    • Shingo--I've heard it's different outside the US. Unfortunately the US is the world's superpower. So far we've managed to keep enabling Israel to do whatever it wants. Hopefully that will gradually change, maybe with the younger generation.

    • " I do think these breaks in the media are important and help the (non net) public see the truth or at the very least start them questioning US support of Israel."

      I've been reading a lot of comments after NYT articles in the past several days. Some of the stories have been decent, and allowed the truth of Israeli brutality to seep through. But it's not sinking in. A lot of people already have their preconceived view of Israel as the good guy and all you hear is that Hamas uses civilians as human shields, Hamas spends resources building tunnels, the Hamas charter, Hamas wants to kill every Jew, oh, I feel sorry for the Palestinian people but Israel has to finish the job. So much stupidity it makes you want to scream.

      A great many Americans are narcissistic racist idiots and that's just the liberals. The really bad ones don't even pretend to care about the ordinary Palestinians. I almost prefer them. What I can't tolerate now are people who say they oppose the settlements, but support the war on Gaza and feel sorrow for the Palestinians, but hey, it's got to be done. The level of stupidity and arrogance is beyond belief. God bless America.

    • "Israel experienced many years of suicide bombings. I can’t recall graphic pictures of the bodies of dead Israeli kids or adults being shown on TV very often. I guess they just don’t do that sort of thing. Maybe it’s because they haven’t “indigenized” enough.'

      You are really cracking up, aren't you? Wow. That was a new low. And not a chance you'll acknowledge it. By the way, I seem to recall Hamas suicide bombings getting quite a bit of attention, vastly more attention than the larger number of Palestinian civilians killed by Israelis during the 2nd intifada.

    • "I can remember in the past when a window for criticism has opened in the MSM only to slam shut again once whatever event triggered it was over. "

      Exactly. Maybe the internet will make the difference. But if one goes by the past, once the current Israeli kill orgy is over with, just wait a few months and the inertial drift back towards pro-Israel bias will take over again with the press. And politicians, of course, haven't budged one inch. Kerry expressed his frustration (maybe even accidentally on purpose), but we already know that in private American Presidents and diplomats lose their temper with Israel. That happened with Philip Habib back in the 1982 war. Clinton blew up at Netanyahu sometime in his term of office. Tom Friedman himself earned his original reputation as someone in the mainstream who was sympathetic to the Palestinians because he was shocked by the bombing in Lebanon back then. You'd never know it to read most of his later work.

    • You may be optimistic and naive. I hope you're right, but this has happened before--during the summer 1982 Lebanon War, for instance. Israel mercilessly bombing Lebanese cities. Within a few years it was like it had never happened. Sabra and Shatila erased the memory of Israel's bombing of Lebanese civilians and you might think that, well, okay, but that was a massacre under Israel's watch, so that wasn't good for their reputation. But you'd miss the point. It was a massacre for which Sharon was directly responsible, but it was carried out by Christian Phalangists and Sharon was criticized (slapped on the wrist) for it by Israel. The end result was that Israel became the country which polices itself and then, several years later, Sharon wins a lawsuit against Time Magazine when it claimed more than it could prove about Sharon.

      The net result--hasbara types said that Israel was blamed for a massacre committed by others. And mainstream press types summarize 1982 as Israel responding to aggression, though perhaps not in the best way since they got bogged down afterwards. The moral denunciations of Israel's bombing--it was like it never happened at all. I read about it later (I mostly ignored it at the time) in Chomsky (yeah, that awful terrible Chomsky guy who is secretly an agent for the Zionists or whatever the current line on him is). And that war was one with tens of thousands of deaths.

      Maybe big difference today is the internet. If the MSM wrote something stupid in pre blogging days, there was no way for the average person to correct it. Write a letter and hope they'd print it. Like anyone would care if they did. But I think they find it harder to ignore us now.

  • Massacre in Gaza: At least 60 killed in Shuja'iyeh, over 60,000 in UN shelters
    • Who said anything about their decisions being okay? I said elsewhere that we should condemn the atrocities and crimes that Israeli soldiers commit. I think the Palestinians have the right to defend themselves against Israeli soldiers. But it's dehumanizing not to mourn the loss of life--I don't care whose death it is.

      There's a Ramadan "sermon" (not sure what the correct term is) that I found by way of Andrew Sullivan's blog that fits in nicely here. Not my religion, but I agree with the thoughts expressed.


    • Maximus, I'd put it this way--I feel some sorrow (not that it matters at this late date) for Confederate soldiers or even young Germans who were part of the invasion of the USSR (which probably saw the greatest concentration of war crimes in history). They were raised in a hopelessly racist societies based on the telling of gigantic lies that permeated everything in society. It'd be nice to think that if I had lived in that era I'd have been a secret member of the Underground Railroad in the American South, or that I'd have refused military service or secretly tried to hide Jews from the Nazis. But most people in most societies are not moral giants.

    • jd65--

      I think you're right. I feel disgust with Israel and if anyone says these soldiers died because they were killed by "terrorists", I may lose my temper, but yes, it is tragic when people die in war. The hasbarists say this as an excuse for the killing of Palestinian children by Israel, and when they say it is an obscenity, but I think it is tragic when people die for a lie, as Kerry once said about American soldiers in Vietnam. The Israeli soldiers are dying for a lie--many or most or all might have been brought up on that lie and it's hard for most people to break free of the indoctrination that is part of their society.

      In the long run, we're the side that hopes everyone can live together in peace and even come to respect and like each other. The Israeli side has a very long way to go, to recognize that their country was based on the willingness to drive people out of their homes, but I think we can probably help them along just a bit by showing compassion for all deaths. That of course doesn't mean pulling our punches about their war crimes, racism, and practice of apartheid.

  • Look at Netanyahu's 'evidence' that civilians are harboring rockets in Gaza
    • I won't link--I'm going offline in a minute-- but go to the comment sections after almost any recent NYT article on the I/P conflict, or after an editorial or opinion piece. The comments are full of idiots who parrot hasbara. Not everyone--there are sensible people too, but the number of idiots is very high. Even some clearly well-meaning people often buy into the narrative that "Hamas provoked this". Some say that Israel has made mistakes, even bad ones, and should stop treating Palestinians so badly, but still say that Israel should clear Hamas out. Many haven't registered the existence of the blockade or the fact that all Gazans find it intolerable. At some point (maybe even now), the killing of Gazan civilians may cause Palestinians to reach a breaking point and be willing to settle for a ceasefire with the blockade in place (I'm speculating), but at least a few days ago that wasn't the case. But the hasbara-influenced don't register this. They only see Hamas's guilt in this current mess.

      So some of it is semi-innocent ignorance and some of it is flat out racism. I say "semi-innocent" because the NYT actually has done a fairly decent job reporting the facts of Israeli brutality over the past few months if one reads closely. But when they summarize the facts they invariably claim that the current violence began with Hamas provocations--shootings by Israel in May, the arrests of Hamas members in the WB and the killings there are elided out-- and as for the editorial writers, they are extremely slanted, not mentioning the Israeli violence during "ceasefires" and making excuses for the killing. So the average person who doesn't follow the story closely could easily get the wrong impression. But there are also people who think "Hamas doesn't care about its people" is the get out of jail free card for anything Israel does.

    • "It is a plot to completely destroy intellectual standards."

      Based on what I've seen in pro-Israel comments at the NYT, or in NYT editorials, or anywhere where people defend Israel's actions, it's working.

  • 'Washington Post' exhibits naked double standard in Israeli, Palestinian deaths (and injuries)
    • "It’s interesting that it’s really only a few thousand people in power world wide that subvert their own peoples opinions and spout Zionist BS. "

      But they're very successful, at least in the US. I see a lot of people online who support Israel who don't spout a specifically Zionist line and don't necessarily seem to be Christian Zionists. A lot of them strike me as just plain authoritarian in mindset. They probably side with police brutality if it is against brown or black people and automatically side with violence in favor of US and against THEM. The Israelis are seen as Westerners like us, so that automatically makes them the good guys.

      And then there are some well-meaning people who are deceived by the press--they think that the violence always starts with Palestinian terrorism because the press explicitly says this, over and over again, even in places like the NYT which actually reported some of the anti-Palestinian violence that occurred before the rocket fire or the killing of the Israeli teens. The average person doesn't follow the issue closely--then the press makes violence against Israelis frontpage news and that confirms what the average person thinks. I see a lot of people who are probably in this category in the comments at the NYT. The NYT itself summarizes the current situation and all situations in the past as "Palestinian provocation followed by Israeli response" and then people ask "But what should Israel do"? It makes sense if you believe the NYT summary.

  • Hamas wants to pile up 'telegenically-dead Palestinians for their cause' -- Netanyahu, on television
    • "the tone is different in spoken and unspoken ways, more somber and more reflective."

      Well, that's good. I don't want to be reflexively cynical. I have a friend who is a Christian Zionist and we were exchanging emails today and he hadn't changed a bit. I can't tell if anything I say gets through--I think the whole Israel thing is so deeply tied in with other stuff he believes it would be really difficult to break through, but one never knows. Not that it actually matters in his case, or mine, what we think.

    • " Its impossible not to see your self or your own children in Gaza, even if you think that its all Hamas’s fault. I see the shift in writing about Gaza and the way this conflict is being spoken about not at MW but among Jewish supporters of Israel and even the settlements."

      That's interesting. I've seen it too, mostly in the comments and letters to the NYT. To some degree I'm cynical/critical of this. It's shooting and crying. But still, as someone or other said, hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue. And it is a step forward for people to feel badly for the Gazans even if they tell themselves it is all Hamas's fault. If they do feel badly then at some level they're not going to feel entirely comfortable with their rationalizations. They'll know that incidents like the boys killed at the beach can't really be blamed on Hamas. They may not be ready to admit it and this does the Gazans no good for now if they don't push for this to end, but maybe some will.

    • How fortunate for Hamas, then, that Israel is willing to oblige.

      This whole "intent" thing is Western BS most of the time. In some cases, yes, there really is such a category as "collateral damage". I once read someone (a famous writer, but his name slips my mind) who said that we tend to romanticize WWII way too much, but the real war was a bloody mess and he gave as one example the many thousands of French civilians accidentally killed by Allied bombing. But that was a world war with crude 1940's technology. Obviously there's a distinction between the accidental killing of French civilians and the quite deliberate firebombing of Hamburg and Dresden, or the machine gunning of random civilians that Chuck Yeager says he was ordered to do in his autobiography.

      Nowadays Westerners are the alleged good guys who never want to kill civilians, yet it's often thought useful to target civilian infrastructure and maybe even civilians themselves to pressure the other side. The weaponry is far more precise than what was available in 1944. So what to do? Well, hit the infrastructure and employ tactics guaranteed to kill civilians, but not as many as one could do if one wanted to go the Dresden/Hamburg route. And deny any ill-intent. It's transparently hypocritical, but it fools Westerners who want to be fooled.

      Sanctions also fall into that category. One can tell that Westerners all know that draconian sanctions hurt innocent people, because even the slightest symbolic slap at Israel that only hurt feelings brings out the moral condemnations, but nice little liberals like Nick Kristof think that non-Western civilians are perfectly acceptable targets for sanctions that destroy economies and kill people for lack of medical supplies or lack of good drinking water.

  • Kristof says Stephen Hawking and American Studies Association support Hamas
    • Just found out about this tweet, which summarizes the criticism of Kristof in one pithy remark and makes my post unnecessary--

      Even Gandhi would have punched you in the face

    • I want to apologize for one part of my piece, which upon re-reading I think I should have written more carefully--

      "As for Israel not trying to kill civilians, Israel refrains from killing vast numbers or as many as it could, but the same could be said of most repressive regimes."

      What I meant there was that Israel apologists commonly claim Israel can't be targeting civilians, because if they were they could be killing everyone in Gaza (1.5 million) or tens of thousands (which they actually did in 1982 Lebanon) or whatever. So that's what I was thinking of when I said "vast numbers". But I winced when I read it just now--hundreds of civilians have been killed and I strongly suspect some of them quite deliberately. Very bad wording on my part and I apologize for it.

      Phil, if there is some way to stick this in as an update to the post that'd be great. If not, well, it's here at least.

  • Video: 'It's a hell of a pinpoint operation' -- John Kerry caught criticizing Israel on hot mic during Sunday news show
    • I don't underestimate popular support for Israel--it appeals to the sort of person who applauds police brutality and is Islamophobic or hates the Other. People of that sort get off on a country which in their minds is fighting the good fight against evil Arabs.

      But in your later paragraphs you come across as a Klan type. Worried about European "annihilation", eh? Meaning non-white immigrants. That's just traditional nativism. I'm not sure why you wouldn't support the Israelis, as they seem to have the same way of thinking. Well, except for the fact that people on the far far right often think the same--they're tribalists, but don't like members of other tribes.

    • Is this gaffe getting any mainstream coverage? I'll go look at the NYT in a minute to see if they say anything yet. I could well imagine the liberal press trying to cover for Kerry by not reporting it at all (as I speculated would have happened if he'd done this on most of the MSNBC shows.) For that reason I hope the Fox News and rightwing Republican Zionists push this story with everything they've got.

      Well I just checked and I was a bit too cynical--the NYT is covering it--


    • The definition of a Washingtonian gaffe is someone accidentally speaking the truth.
      I half wonder if this was an accident. It's really sort of stupid to make this mistake in a TV studio, let alone at Fox News. MSNBC (Rachel Maddow) might cover for you. Fox won't. At the very least, maybe Kerry's subconscious mind wanted to be caught.

      I agree with the condemnations of Kerry as a hypocrite, but all the same, it's encouraging to know that he does have some sense of reality and is disgusted by Israeli behavior. The fact that when confronted by Mike Wallace he goes back to the talking points is great--it's as clear a demonstration of what's wrong with American politics on this issue as anyone could wish.

      The Republican right will try to use this to demonstrate that the Obama people are secretly anti-Israel. That's good. It may force the mainstream press to cover it. The cowardly liberals who support Israel (think Rachel Maddow or Chris Matthews) will try to cover for Kerry by pointing to what he says in response and of course in public Kerry will continue to use the talking points. But that's fine, so long as there are enough people pointing out that clearly Kerry really meant what he said "in private". In this the far right will be our unwitting allies.

  • Israel warns media they are at risk of 'injury or death' because Hamas ‘exploits journalists as human shields’
    • Maybe they want to avoid having another case where Israeli forces kill children right in front of a hotel of foreign journalists. The NYT story (written by a photographer) was one of the harshest things about Israeli behavior ever to appear in print in that paper.

      Incidentally, a side issue, but the news section of the NYT is much better than usual. Not perfect, but much better. The editorial page, on the other hand, is a disgrace--the Saturday editorial piece condemned Hamas crimes, but used the passive voice when describing the deaths of Palestinian civilians and implicitly blamed the deaths on Hamas. They also never mention the Palestinian demand that the blockade be lifted, which is repeated by several ordinary Palestinians in the NYT stories. There's now a gap between their news coverage and their editorial page. It probably won't last, but it's there.

  • Nicholas Kristof on how to end the Israel/Palestine conflict
    • I'd really like to see you take on the New York Times editorial today. Kristof is naive and silly, but at least he's probably well-meaning. I'm not sure I can say that about the NYT editorial that came out today. For instance, the editorial never mentions the blockade or that the lifting of the blockade is part of what Hamas wants and not just Hamas--their own reporters tell of Palestinian relatives of those killed saying that they want the ceasefire to include an end to the blockade.

      The editorial wasn't totally worthless--they did criticize Israel for not trying to work with the unity government. But the way they condemned Hamas violence and implicitly blamed Hamas for Israeli violence, ignored the blockade and made no mention of Israeli violence during ceasefires while emphasizing the rockets--well, it was no better than I expected from them.

  • On the defensive, Barney Frank accuses Clemons and Kornacki of ganging up on him, and Israel
    • "hen Frank uses the traditional bait methods “you are on the other side” you are “anti Israel” to Clemons. Kornacki took the bait Clemons did not"

      Yeah, I watched the segment Phil linked here and unfortunately I think Frank "won" the debate. I don't mean that the facts and morality were on his side--clearly not. But he managed to frame the issue his way and got one of the two--Clemons, I think, but I forget--to say that Israel had the right to defend itself and that left Frank the opening to say that it boiled down to how hard it was to fight without collateral damage and gosh, it's tough to do. And Kornacki let Frank distract him and waste precious time (there's too little of it on most shows to do any serious discussion) on defending himself. I think that was Frank's intent. Frank also got to use the line that Israel offered a ceasefire and neither of his opponents knew or bothered to point out this meant Israel would keep the blockade on Gaza under the Israeli version of the ceasefire. We heard once again about Israel's right to defend itself against a rain of rockets and nothing about the Palestinian right to defend itself against occupation, blockade, and Israeli violence even during so-called ceasefires.

      On the old version of "Up with Chris Hayes", there would have been at least an hour given to this topic and whoever got to offer the hasbara side of the issues would not have been allowed to get away with this. Chris would have had knowledgeable Palestinian or Arab guests, and probably some J-Street type and then a Barney Frank. And Chris himself would have known quite a bit.

      Phil thought Frank was on the defensive. I think he was being his usual arrogant bullying self and the average person watching who didn't know the details might very well have thought that he won the argument. Frank did this sort of thing for a living and he's good at it. He's also a creep, but that doesn't mean he isn't a smart debater.

    • That jackass pretends that Israel and the US weren't involved in the Palestinian civil war.

    • Poor baby. He was a congressman forever, part of the government of the world's only superpower that backs Israel no matter what, and the pro-Israel side dominates coverage, and he doesn't get enough time on a cable show. Help, help, he's being oppressed.

  • Gaza is a concentration camp, and it's an American delusion not to recognize that -- Weschler
    • "Weschler goes on to say that support for Israel is strongest in the U.S. among evangelicals. This is a standard dodge, employed by liberals, to avoid the hard reflective work of considering the power of the reactionary Jewish establishment. "

      That's true. Evangelicals do deserve a lot of criticism here, but I've often noticed liberals going out of their way to shift blame exclusively towards them, presumably because they're afraid of the antisemitism charge if they start talking about AIPAC. It's not the power of the Christian right that had both parties in Congress giving Netanyahu standing ovations and siding with Netanyahu when Obama initially tried to stop settlement expansion.

      I've also seen liberals professing to feel sorry for Israel that they have these embarrassing "Left Behind" type Christians supporting them. Which is nonsense--the Israelis may not have any respect for the Left Behind crowd's religious beliefs, but they welcome the "Israel can do no wrong and God wants us to support them" mentality.

  • How can Human Rights Watch conclude an Israeli didn't want to kill 4 boys on the beach?
    • I didn't have the stomach to watch that--I can't stand seeing political types lie about atrocities.

    • "And I suppose they view the Israelis as “Jewish” and associate Jewishness with sensitivity and gentleness "

      Which would be a type of racism, actually, though one aimed at the rest of humanity, which lacks this sensitivity and gentleness. Only Israelis, it seems, can enforce apartheid in kind, gentle, and sensitive way--the rest of humanity tends to do these things with brutality and thuggishness.

      My own guess is that the writer was looking over his shoulder at critics within the US and so this was a type of self-censorship. HRW can write nasty things about the human rights record of an enemy country and nobody important in this country will object. But Israel is a special case--criticize them and one of HRW's own founders (Robert Bernstein) goes ballistic.

    • Good points from you and tree and others. I'm defending HRW in some comments above, but all the same, this lack of imagination is absurd.

    • I read Finkelstein's pieces about them yesterday. HRW is more cautious in describing Israeli war crimes than they should be, but they do describe them as war crimes. Unlawful Israeli airstrikes kill civilians

      I feel some frustration with them, as expressed in my post above, but all the same, they are quoted as condemning Israeli acts in the mainstream press. You want perfection and so do I, but they still criticize Israel's acts as criminal and it's silly to say otherwise. Rather like trying to pretend that HRW is pro-ISIS, in fact.

      The Israelis and the hasbara corps certainly don't see HRW as their friend--one of the regular hasbarists here was bashing them the other day. One of their founders Robert Bernstein threw a famous hissy fit over the fact that they were criticizing Israel a few years back. Roth and others politely eviscerated his column.

    • I heard about that--I assume Roth meant that as a condemnation of Maliki and his repression towards the Sunnis, and was not trying to say ISIS is a good group. In fact, HRW has said that ISIS is guilty of crimes against humanity.


      I hope this doesn't turn into a comment thread where we argue about whether HRW is really the sum total of all human evil. For the most part, they do good work. They're a little too close to the American establishment, but in a way that makes them more useful for reaching people like those who write for the NYT or read it.

      But they aren't perfect.

  • First night of Israeli ground operations kills 27 Palestinians; Ambulances come under fire attempting to retrieve the injured
    • "please tell us the correct Israeli response. What are they permitted?"

      Wrong question. It isn't an Israeli "response". It would be an Israeli response if there were no blockade and if Israeli troops didn't regularly fire on Gazan civilians and if Israel hadn't used the abduction and murder of the three teenagers as an excuse to arrest hundreds of Hamas members and kill several more Palestinians. If Israel treated the Palestinians according to international law and then Palestinians launched rockets, then it would be a response. And under those circumstances, Israel would have the right to very carefully targeted strikes at rocket launching sites and at individuals engaged in that activity.

      But that's a hypothetical, because in the real world Israel is the oppressor and takes for granted its right to treat Palestinians with callous brutality on a daily basis. It is the Palestinians who are responding, sometimes immorally, to Israel's continual commission of war crimes.

  • 'Hamas... is putting their own people at risk' -- State Dep't on Israel killing 4 boys on Gaza beach
    • "biased anti-Israeli organizers "

      Anyone outside the pro-Israel cult is seen as biased and anti-Israel.

      HRW is extremely cautious in its criticisms of Israel. They feel no compunction whatsoever in saying that Hamas is guilty of war crimes, and that's fine with me, but they speak like people looking over their shoulder at their critics when they write anything about Israel. They're well aware that they can say whatever they want about most countries and about a group like Hamas and their criticisms will be accepted in the US and the spotlight will be placed on the guilty parties , but if they say something about Israel then there will likely be more criticism of HRW than of Israel, at least in the US. Of course every criticized country reacts badly to human rights criticism, but only Israel has supporters that can bully critics this way in the US.

      Though in a way that makes their understated reports all the more valuable. If even the timid HRW folks still end up criticizing Israel's behavior, it means there is something wrong and the NYT will sometimes quote them.

  • The players may change, but the game remains the same: The use of racism to justify the massacre of innocent civilians in Gaza
    • "Is it racism to listen to the actual words of Hamas spokesperson regarding Palestinians in targeted homes to stay inside, ignoring Israeli warnings?"

      No. I don't know what is passing through the Hamas person's head giving that advice, but there's no particular reason why I would want to defend the decisions Hamas makes. Israel is still the one doing the bombing, and the warnings are a cynical form of public relations theater for all the people who pay no attention to the conflict except when it heats up like this.

    • "The callousness and casual racism in these comments can hardly be overstated. "

      That's for sure. One person wrote after a story today that Hamas used civilians as human shields and then ended by saying that he (or she) had no sympathy whatsoever for the Palestinians. So Hamas is bad for using civilians as human shields, and all the civilians deserve to die. It's like whatever passes for a logic circuit in that person's brain was shorted out.

  • 'American Jewish voices are most critical in the world' (to end idea that Jewish lives matter more)
    • "I was born Jewish, so I root Jewish. It is my side against your side. I value my side; you value your side. That’s how war works."

      It's not really come to that, Yonah. If some really radical faction (is Islamic Jihad as radical as ISIS? I don't know enough to say) had some real chance of taking over Israel the way the jihadists have been able to take over chunks of Syria, then, yeah, the natural tendency of almost everyone in such situations is to root for the devil on your side. This is why I'm not a big fan of people daydreaming that someday Israel will be conquered by this or that group--in real life it would be a human rights catastrophe for everyone. But nothing like that is close to happening to Israel (for now, anyway). You don't have to side with Netanyahu on the grounds that the only alternative is that some jihadist is going to cut off your head.

    • " they all keep framing the Gaza Crisis as triggered by HAMAS kidnapping of the three Israeli teens, and by HAMAS terror rockets fired into Israel. That’s the bipartisan script which they relentlessly mouth. "

      I complained about this to Margaret Sullivan (the NYT public editor) the other day, and think that everyone who reads the NYT and some of you who don't should write her. Sullivan herself seems reasonable, though I can't recall if she's tackled the I/P issue. I think she has, but I'm not sure.

      So far as I know, the NYT has also refused to report Hamas's terms for a ceasefire, which Alex quoted the other day and which you can find online in various stories. A few days ago the NYT made it seem like Hamas was simply out for blood. The terms are actually quite reasonable--lift the blockade, release the Hamas members arrested, and I think one or two other things. But it's more convenient to make it seem like Hamas is driven simply by blood lust and so Israel has no other way to stop the rockets except by bombing. Or that the US has to step in to save the day. But never ever allow the possibility that maybe Hamas is more moderate than Netanyahu.

  • Gaza hospital struck by missiles; int'l volunteers gather to protect it
    • "Approximately an hour later, Basman Alashi, executive director of the hospital, received a phone call from someone speaking in Arabic with a clearly Israeli accent, asking if there were injuries, whether there was anyone on the top floor, and whether they were planning to evacuate the hospital. "

      What a weird mentality. They provoke Hamas and elicit the rockets that give them the excuse to bomb Gaza, predictably killing many civilians, but they have to act out alleged humanitarian impulses for the benefit of their fan club in the West. It leads to Kafkaesque situations where an anonymous Israeli calls the hospital that it bombed.

  • Israel's message to the Palestinians: Submit, leave or die
    • It makes a difference because real history is messy and nuanced and it's a good idea to try to understand people's motives even if one thinks they were wrong.

    • "No it isn’t. It’s asking a reasonable question."

      In the abstract, yes. But in reality, no. You didn't ask a balanced question---you asked it in a way that put the onus on Judaism for the persecution. It's disingenuous. We're not talking about some remote country involving two groups A and B that we're not familiar with--we're talking about European antisemitism, and there's not much mystery about it. Jews were a bone in the throat to Christians going back to the very beginning of Christianity. The question that bothered Christians was why Jews didn't accept Jesus as the Messiah? Well, the answer given by antisemites is that they were stiffnecked and evil. Plus they put a curse on themselves according to the NT (His blood be on us and our children).

      I'm not opposed to someone pointing out the complexities--I recall reading a bit of Byzantine history during the reign of Heraclius when Jews aligned themselves with Persians and slaughtered Christians in Jerusalem. That doesn't fit the usual model where it is a Jewish minority being persecuted by Christians. But it's also not typical.

    • "if it was a result of anti semitism"

      Obviously it was in part motivated by antisemitism. That doesn't mean it was a good solution to the problem of antisemitism--it ended up creating a whole new set of problems. But why deny the fact that antisemitism was one reason why many people supported Zionism?

    • "What is it about Judaism that led to European anti-Semitism?"

      This is called "blaming the victim". It's creepy. It's like asking what is it about blacks that led to whites hating them? Or what is it about the Roma, or homosexuals, or whatever. For that matter, what is it about Muslims that makes Islamophobes hate them so much? Why do Israelis often seem to hate Palestinians? There are answers, but the answers generally lie more in the pathology of the persecutor and not in the traits of the victim.

      In the case of anti-semitism, it probably had something to do with that whole not accepting Jesus as the Messiah thing. Christians weren't very forgiving of that. Plus there are some passages in the NT, particularly the Gospel of John, which are rather unfortunate. Plus picking on minority groups is something that humans seem to do quite often.

      "Integration? Learning how to get on with the neighbours and become part of society?"

      Yeah, right. You have the causality a little sideways here--sure, people need to get along, but it's generally more a question of the larger society learning to tolerate and then completely accept the Other.

  • Relentless bombing on Gaza continues: Israel kills media worker, 9 people watching World Cup on beach
    • Ask Phil or someone in charge. I don't really care--to my mind that sort of name on either side of the issue (or something absurd like the recent "Truth Unleashed") hurts the person who chooses it, since they've immediately placed themselves into a box.

      Your point, presumably, is that there is some basic unfairness in the website in that it allows someone to choose "no more Israel" but presumably not "no more Palestine". Again, ask Phil. Don't expect the rest of us to give a crap about this. Or better yet, write something about the objectionable content of this or that poster. Start a discussion about long term goals and how one would hope to reach a 1SS without trying to reach people on both sides. That might be interesting. If you focus on blog policy fairness in name choosing when dozens of Palestinians are dying each day, it seems like a waste of time.

    • "I want to meet one Palestinian criticizes the Palestinian authority or Hamas policies (from Palestinian territory, not from Toronto) in any subject: politics, economy, ideology etc. I can wait, Talkback."

      I doubt you are sincere--when you first came here I thought maybe you were, but the more I see you write, the less I believe you. This is just more hasbara. If you had any interest in finding the answer, you could have. Furthermore, even if you were sincere it doesn't make this any better. Societies which choose to practice apartheid by popular consent (among those who have the power) generally have within them people of conscience who dissent--why would anyone not expect this?

      Anyway, The Palestinian Center for Human Rights is based in Gaza and criticizes both Israel and the various Palestinian factions. You didn't know this though you are ostensibly interested, because you never took any time to find out.

      The Palestinian Center for Human Rights report for 2013

      Here is a passage from their summary--

      "At the internal Palestinian level, developments were disappointing contrary to expectations and hopes for achieving reconciliation by the beginning of 2013 and the overwhelming positive atmosphere at that period. The inter- nal division continued and even deepened in the Palestinian political re- gime. Under these circumstances, the human rights situation deteriorated further. In the Gaza Strip, more restrictions were imposed on public liber- ties, including the right to freedom of movement, the right to freedom and expression, the right to freedom of association and the right to peaceful as- sembly. Security forces continued also to summon and arrest activists of

      Fatah Movement and subject them to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment. In 2013, more death sentences were issued, while already issued sentences were executed. Additionally, the year witnessed more attacks re- lated to the proliferation of weapons and the state of lawlessness, due to which more Palestinians were killed or injured.
      In the West Bank, security services continued to summon and arrest activists of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and other factions. PCHR observed also impos- ing more restrictions on public liberties, including the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the right to freedom of association and the right to peaceful assembly. Additionally, the year witnessed more attacks related to the proliferation of weapons and the state of lawlessness, due to which more Palestinians were killed or injured."

      And by the way, if you google the term "Palestinian Human Rights", a link to this organization appears a few lines down. Imagine that.

      Palestinian Human Rights

    • Jon S, I don't want any Israeli to be hurt and don't agree with bloodthirsty comments, but my main concern is for the Palestinians who are dying by the score.

      You mention Israeli resilience somewhere-- I think people living in the American south and midwest every spring face something similar. I spent a few minutes googling and found a website listing the number of tornado deaths in the US per year.

      2011 was a bad year for US tornados--550 deaths, which would translate to around 14 deaths in Israel. (I divided by 40).


      What the Palestinians experience is comparable to an F5 tornado plowing through their community. What the Israelis experience is mostly like people in the US who go to their basement when they hear a siren during tornado season or are told to do so by the weatherman on TV--it never amounts to anything for the vast majority of us.

      I never personally experienced a tornado. I went to the basement a few times and once to a closet when there was a tornado warning. Nothing happened. A derecho nearly sent a huge branch into my family's house once, but nobody was hurt. My family drove to a state park months after a tornado had hit--it was hundreds of acres of forest turned into brush. A lot more like Gaza than Tel Aviv. The raccoons in that forest experienced what Gazans experience. The Israeli experience for most of you is closer to mine. At least as far as rockets are concerned.

    • "When given the choice between a Westernized country and an unreformed religion, I’d support the actions of the Westernized country every time."

      You don't seem to realize you are contradicting yourself by endorsing a form of morality that any tribalist would recognize. To the extent that any morality is superior to some other type, it would be because dissidents within the that culture stood up for the rights of the Other. So the abolition of slavery was carried out by people willing to criticize the Western culture of the time, which held that slavery was good for the slave, because the slave was from an inferior culture.

      When you make comments like the ones you make in this thread, you're actually spitting on the people who fought for the civil and human rights of others. You're spitting on what is supposed to be good about Western secular morality in the name of supporting Western secular morality. Basically, you are on the side of the cultured civilized slaveowner, denouncing the abolitionist for siding with the uncivilized slave. Slavery had a long distinguished pedigree in the West, so by the standards of the time its defenders had a point, if being Western is what is supposed to matter.

      Not that you're being original. Usually when someone starts praising Western superiority, they're whitewashing the crimes of the West and not actually carrying forward the legacy of, say, the abolitionist movement.

  • Terrifying tweets of pre-Army Israeli teens
    • "Isn’t it lovely how every time Zionists are confronted with embarrassing revelations like these, all of a sudden the kid gloves come on and context, nuance and circumstance suddenly becomes all important?"


      Incidentally, the NYT now has a front page article about the widespread hatred of Arabs among the Israeli youth. It quotes a lot of Israeli sources. So I guess this completes the vindication of Max Blumenthal, when even the NYT puts his thesis on the front page.

      NYT article on Israeli extremism

      The only thing slightly implausible about the story is the notion that this is something new. I don't doubt it has gotten worse since the 2nd intifada for the reasons given--also, I gather there used to be more interaction between Israelis and Palestinians, so that probably lowered the level of personal racism (not that it wasn't still there--white racists I knew could be decent and friendly to blacks on a one-to-one level). But to think that there wasn't always some of this hatred is silly, especially given the fact that there has always been bigotry within Israeli Jewish society, with the Jews of European descent looking down on the Jews from Arab countries. Plus, when one group has stepped on another, the act has to be rationalized and the easiest way to do that is to say that the victim deserved it.

      "BTW, while I am pleased to hear you no longer hate Arabs, one has to wonder what made you hate them when you were younger. Children are not born to hate, they are taught to. Who taught you to hate?"

      Yeah, exactly. I bring up my own life ad nauseam, but growing up in the South right after Jim Crow ended, I'd see letters to the editor denouncing busing for racial integration in schools. The letters were politely worded, arguing the virtues of children going to their neighborhood schools rather than being bussed many miles. Reasonable arguments. Then I'd go to school and from my classmates I'd hear opposition to busing expressed in terms of how much they hated "n***** ". Children pick these things up, even if adults know better than to be open about their feelings in public.

    • It might be better just to admit that there is still a lot of antisemitism in the world.
      This isn't some fantasy where one side is morally pure and the other pure evil.

      The point should be that the Western press has always emphasized hatred towards Jews by Arabs, while mostly ignoring the hatred of Arabs by Israelis. That's why Max Blumenthal's book was given the silent treatment when not being abused by people like Alterman.

  • U.S. neoconservatives also share blame for Central America child refugee crisis
    • Last post on this--

      The US press and the government often do talk about the I/P issue. The problem is in how they talk about it. I don't think one should say talk about the immigrant issue is "changing the subject", as though the immigrant issue is in competition with justice for Palestinians and we should change the subject back to the I/P conflict. We should change the content of how the I/P conflict is discussed, not complain that other issues are taking time away from it.

    • "All because Obama asked for 3.7 million to help with this “crisis” that is ongoing, while the US is funding a war on the indigenous people of Palestine to the tune of BILLIONS."

      Obama asked for 3.7 BILLION from the articles I've read. And yeah, the idea that people are talking about the immigration issue to avoid talking about the I/P conflict is conspiratorial. There's so much real garbage the US government engages in on the I/P conflict (like Psaki's inability to grasp the notion of Palestinians needing to defend themselves) that there should be no need to engage in pointless speculation.

    • No. I don't think everything is a conspiracy that revolves around the I/P conflict. There are a lot of important issues in the world, and for most Americans the I/P conflict isn't at the top of the list. Even when the discussion is explicitly about that conflict, US officials have the ability to miss the obvious, as Jen Psaki demonstrates whenever the subject comes up. They don't need the distraction. All they have to do is chant "rain of rockets" and all Israeli atrocities vanish.

    • "This is a “crisis” now because looking into what Israel is doing is so uncomfortable for so many Americans."

      I don't follow you. James is saying that the kids who want to come to America are fleeing the violence that is in large part a result of the vicious killing that America supported back in the 80's. But it's a crisis, independent of how little attention America gives to Israeli crimes.

      I used to read Commentary back in the 80's, and also National Review and the New Republic. Support for Israel's worst actions was usually tied in with the general Cold War theme of supporting nasty regimes that were on "our side" against the evil commie/terrorists. So we supported Suharto in Indonesia, Savimbi in Angola, a succession of Guatemalan generals, the military/death squads in El Salvador, the contras in Nicaragua, and oh yes, Israel (which also supported some of these other people). The magazines I mentioned all generally supported Reagan's foreign policy, with the exception of The New Republic, which was ostensibly liberal and sometimes was critical. Often, though, it wasn't, which gave rise to the cliche "Even the liberal New Republic agrees with Reagan's support of X". Of course the New Republic was solidly in Israel's corner.

  • State Dep't says Israel has a right to defend itself, but can't say the same of Palestinians
    • "Allocating moral high ground to whomever has the higher bodycount."

      More stupidity from an apologist. First, Hamas doesn't have "moral high ground". Neither does Israel. I know ideologues are incapable of acknowledging war crimes when committed by their favored side, but the unhappy fact is that both Hamas and Israel are guilty. Second, you don't get to kill civilians in very large numbers and say that it's okay because you didn't mean to do it, when obviously you didn't care much one way or the other. Third, Israel has Gaza under siege and the WB under occupation and builds illegal settlements--it provokes violence every day by imposing unjust policies.

      In your other post you tread pretty close to Nakba denial--there's no other way to interpret your whining about the reinterpretation of 1948. That reinterpretation was the truth-telling about Israeli massacres and ethnic cleansing, which had long been covered up by Israel and its apologists.

    • "I’m not aware of the military principle that says that when an enemy is firing you, you should wait until x number of your people are killed before you respond."

      If you gave that any thought, you'd realize that Palestinians under occupation in the WB and under blockade in Gaza have a better claim to use violence than Israel. The Palestinians in Gaza are sometimes shot at for being in an Israeli-imposed buffer zone inside Gaza. Their fishermen are also fired upon. Palestinian protestors are shot. Etc...

      You're using an argument that works in a media context where most people are either ignorant of or tacitly support the daily repression and violence Israel uses on the Palestinians. I see people commenting on other websites who talk that way. The argument just looks stupid when you use it with people who know which side has killed more civilians, and which side is oppressing the other.

      I don't think the Palestinians should use violence, btw. It doesn't help them and it's wrong to target civilians. But it's just Western hypocrisy when people condemn Palestinian violence and support Israeli "self-defense", when that "self-defense" is part of a larger pattern of oppression.

  • Video: Diane Sawyer misrepresents photo of Gazans in aftermath of Israeli bombing as Israeli victims of Palestinian missiles (Updated)
    • That was classy of her. I still don't understand how such a mistake could be made, but it's good to see media people acknowledge their screwups.

    • "Why, what woulod you expect to see as the result of “100′s of missiles” or “raining down rockets”

      That could be. The MSM could be believing its own propaganda. A clever intern could probably pull out a photo of Hiroshima and pass it off as the result of one of these newfangled Iranian missiles landing in Tel Aviv. The anchors wouldn't know the difference.

    • "You guys are so unforgiving."

      I'm just stunned that a mistake this ridiculous could even be made. I honestly can't fathom it--how ignorant would you have to be to show something like that? I don't think it was deliberate--it's just too insane to pass muster as deliberate hasbara.

      As for Sawyer, I don't know the technical details of how TV broadcasting works. Was she actually looking at the photos when she said it? Does she just read the script set in front of her without looking? If the latter, and she wasn't thinking straight, then yeah, I could forgive her, not that it matters in the slightest what I forgive. The MSM certainly doesn't give a crap what I think.

    • Thanks to you and tree.

      Wow. That was awe-inspiring. I mean bias is one thing, but this is idiocy on a truly epic scale. You can't satirize this--in a satirical work it would be too over-the-top, too blatantly ridiculous and unfair to be good satire.

      Sawyer has raised the bar for journalistic stupidity, or lowered it. I can't tell--the bar is now so far away I can't see it anymore

    • Is there a mistake in the link? I didn't hear Diane Sawyer or see what Adam is talking about.

      What I did hear was biased. A "brazen and provocative" Palestinian attack, with no comparable words used about any Israeli action. The violence, as usual, is described as originating with Palestinian violence (the three teens), not mentioning the violence against Palestinians weeks earlier or in fact, any Israeli violence except the revenge killing after the murder of the three Israeli boys.

  • Why is Mohammed Abu Khdeir's death different from all other Palestinian deaths?
    • "Truth Unleashed"? I guess "Another Walking, Breathing Manifestation of the Dunning/Kruger Effect" was already taken. Oh, it wasn't? Damn. Should have picked that one myself. Seriously--no, that is serious. You really should have thought about how the title comes across. What the hell were you thinking?

      Anyway, others have done the substantive response, which won't stop me from piling on. You ignored the content of the article, which is about how government approved violence and oppression on a massive scale doesn't seem to disturb many Israelis and Americans the way the brutal murder by a few individuals acting on their own does. You might want to comment on that, and if you also think that some here are insufficiently disturbed by the murder of the three Israeli teens, then ask whether we condemn that as well. I do. It was despicable. One can't excuse one murder or set of murders by pointing to another set of murders, though murderers seem to think you can.

      But you seem to have utterly ignored the whole point of Moor's piece and remarkably enough, you did it in the name of compassion.

    • "The truth is that despite a myriad of elisions, there still remains a difference between civilians killed in the course of legitimate military action and the intentional targeting of civilians."

      I'm all for nuance, and personally agree that people on both sides demonize their opponents, but something about your post led me to think you had something else on your mind besides getting everyone together and singing around the campfire. And there it is--apologetics for Israeli brutality.

      The killing of the Palestinian boy is different because many Israelis, like many Americans, are all too willing to go along with government propaganda and they eagerly lap up the notion that their side is scrupulous about not killing civilians, even as the bodies pile up. If the Israeli government were genuinely scrupulous they would not have shot protestors in May, they wouldn't shoot at Gazans routinely, they wouldn't have used the terrorist killings of three teens (and the Israeli government knew they were dead within a day) as an excuse to go rampaging through the West Bank, killing several more Palestinians and arresting hundreds of Hamas members. They commit violent acts like the beating of the Palestinian-American boy (which only got attention because he was American), they continue the settlement building, they provoke terrorism (and by the way, I think the Palestinian violence is both counterproductive and immoral) and they use tactics that they know are guaranteed to kill dozens of civilians a day. But that's what the government does, the government Israelis voted in, so they have to believe it is basically doing the right thing, or else face the fact that they themselves are complicit. On the other hand, if some private citizens take it upon themselves to murder a boy, that's a shocking breakdown in law and civilized behavior. I understand this perfectly, because many Americans think the same way. It's a psychodrama of the privileged, where we trample on the rights of others routinely, don't think it matters, and when some of them react with terrorist violence, we are genuinely shocked. And if some individual American responds to the terrorism with another private act of violence, there's more shock. But what our government or society does to others--we don't see it, or many of us don't, because we don't want to see it or because the MSM whitewashes it or most likely, a combination of both.

  • 'Operation Protective Edge' begins: Gaza rocked by Israeli airstrikes as Palestinian militants shoot at Jerusalem
    • "The White House has voiced full support for Israel. “No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians and we support Israel’s right to defend itself against these vicious attacks,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said."

      I expect this, but can never quite get used to the utter cynicism involved.

    • "the rockets will likely continue and the planes will drop bombs because it somehow serves those in power."

      That's true. It's another example of the Iron Law of Institutions In case you don't click on the link, the "law" says that people who care about power care more about their power in an institution than they care about the institution. They would rather see the institution go down in flames than see themselves lose power within it. I think most of the blame for the I/P conflict falls on Israel, but as far as the leaderships of the various factions are concerned, you can see the Iron Law at work every day.

  • 'Jewish' or 'Israeli' -- NYT, BBC, and CNN make different word choice
    • More to the point than what paragraph the term "Jewish extremist" appears, to me at least, is the fact that the NYT chose to review Shavit's book and ignored Max Blumenthal. And people like Alterman who bashed Blumenthal look even dumber now.

      It's not really logical how these things are treated by the press--the evidence has been there all along--but it's going to be harder to ignore what Max was talking about.

  • Chomsky and BDS
    • What Chomsky actually wrote--

      "The road ahead leads not to South Africa, but rather to an increase in the proportion of Jews in the Greater Israel that is being constructed. This is the realistic alternative to a two-state settlement. There is no reason to expect Israel to accept a Palestinian population it does not want."

      It's a description of Israel's behavior thus far and how they will continue to behave so long as they have US support. And he's right.

      Here's Suarez's hyperventilating on that topic--

      "But perhaps Professor Chomsky’s strangest statement of all, a rather terrifying statement on the face of it, is that “There is no reason to expect Israel to accept a Palestinian population it does not want.” There you have it, all condensed into one sentence, an admission that Israel is a racially predicated state and that the rights of the Palestinians themselves must remain subservient to it."

      Gosh, that was scary. Or would have been, if it weren't for the fact that Chomsky is describing what virtually everyone would say about Israel's willingness to accept several million Palestinian citizens.

      I think Suarez did a fine job dismantling Chomsky's claim that BDS needs to be preceded by a period of public education--in fact, the BDS campaign is precisely that period of public education. But apparently it's not enough to disprove someone's argument--that's no fun. One has to indulge in a little over-the-top rhetorical misrepresentation.

      Chomsky, btw, hasn't changed since he wrote "The Fateful Triangle"--he's been a critic of Israeli repression and a supporter of the 2SS as being the least bad solution according to his view of what is achievable, but he's always preferred a binational state or no states at all. He doesn't think a democratic 1SS is achievable. One can argue with this by pointing out the reasons why one thinks he is wrong, or one can do the usual ad hominem thing.

  • 'Cycle of violence' is the new narrative (and inaccurate, but a step forward)
    • "It’s been the mainstream media narrative for, oh, maybe 75 years."

      I can't speak about 75 years, but yeah, for decades at least.

    • "Cycle of violence" is as close to accurate (and of course it's not very accurate) as the US MSM generally gets on this subject. More commonly it's "Palestinian terror followed by Israeli retaliation", which is "cycle of violence" with a more blatant pro-Israel spin. I think "the Arabs want to push the Jews into the sea" is usually not found in the NYT, to be fair to them. It's more of a pro-Israel meme in the dumber regions of pundit-land. Related to it is the one where a map is shown with tiny little Israel surrounded by a sea of Arab countries, the implication being that it's David and Goliath. I've seen that one on Maddow (I haven't watched her lately--anyone know if she's said anything about recent events?)

  • 'Survival and well-being of the Jewish state' is a national security interest of U.S., Indyk says
    • "Is it the only functioning democracy in a sea of backwardness and internecine conflict?"

      It's long past time where people stop thinking that "functioning democracy" is an excuse for barbarism. The fact that Israel is a "functioning democracy" just means the citizens of Israel have democratically chosen to behave very badly. I agree that the Mideast in general is full of bad governments that abuse human rights, but Israel is just another flavor of horrific governance with a Western democratic gloss.

      If you wanted to argue that Israel should be treated by the same standards we use in treating other governments with bad human rights records, I'd tend to agree. The US often supports lousy governments--we'd then have the usual argument about Israel that we'd have about many other places. Israel is "special" because there's a large contingent of American Jews and Christians who insist on pretending that a place that is in some ways worse than apartheid South Africa is some sort of shining beacon because its people vote in governments that commit massive human rights violations. This then generates a counter-reaction, and we see the same arguments repeated ad nauseam at this blog.

  • 'Forward' normalizes idea that some folks 'hate Israel'
    • Ponet's piece was pretty good. Even Snyder's was positive in the sense that she points out this is a matter of political differences, not a question of whether someone is a Jew or not. The "respect one another" part is a bit iffy, but yes, one often meets people whose political opinions on some issues are horrifying and you should still try to respect them as human beings. Doesn't mean you should marry them. It might be hard marrying someone who supported Jim Crow or who couldn't acknowledge Israel's crimes. I'd tell the guy to move on.

  • A Selfie of the Potential Murderer as a Young Man
    • "Is this summary accurate?"

      No, it's not. He's not defending violence or the urge to violence. Where do you get that? He's saying that colonialism is at the root of all the violence on both sides.

      To me what's revealing about the Israeli reaction to the murder of the Palestinian teen is that it shows a kind of mindset one sees in Westerners--violence by private citizens is far more disturbing than violence inflicted against others by one's own government. Here I don't mean the usual hypocrisy when people condemn the crimes of their enemies and ignore their own, because in this case many Israelis are condemning the murder of the Palestinian boy. I don't doubt that some of the Israeli shock is genuine, but they seem far more upset when some private citizens murder a boy then they are when the IDF shoots a protestor or arrests children or in general, engages in all the violence that is necessary to keep the occupation going. Basically, without thinking it through, they want things to be "normal", which means that the daily repression of Palestinians by official organizations is something that they can live with indefinitely (until some happy date in the distant future when the 2SS is here), but they are disturbed when individuals on either side start murdering people. This willingness to tolerate officially sanctioned violence even extends to barbarisms like Operation Cast Lead.

      It is a kind of Western attitude, I think--many Americans are like this too. Only one's own government (or its allies) should be allowed to kill people, and a huge amount of leeway is granted to them to do it. You can pretend it was necessary for security purposes. It's harder to do that when some individuals go off and start killing random innocents.

  • The rationality of Israel's War
    • "Notice how your comment about the Presbyterian divestment was misunderstood"

      In what way? He criticizes the Presbyterians on profiting from other companies, and he thinks that their action with respect to the Israeli issue was too limited. He went into more detail in a recent post-- I tried the archive just now, but it seems incomplete.

    • What was hard to understand? I don't agree with him about all his points, but they seem clear enough. On the Presbyterians, he thinks the Presbyterian action was inadequate, a gift to the liberal Zionists. They distanced themselves from BDS and acknowledged Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and supported the 2SS. I don't agree with this--I think it was a step forward--but he's not totally wrong either.

      And he's saying that militarism has worked out well for Israel so far. They aren't making mistakes--they're doing just what they want to do and so far they're getting away with it. They won't do the right thing unless they are forced to do so.

      And he's saying that leftwing conspiracy theorizing is usually pretty stupid. There's no reason to think that Netanyahu is clever enough to stage the murder of the three Israeli teenagers--he's just an opportunist who took advantage of the situation, as anyone would have expected.

  • Chomsky supports portions of BDS agenda, but faults others, citing realism and int'l consensus
    • That was a pretty good summary, Yonah. I think you've hit the nail on the head--Chomsky and Finkelstein think they are being pragmatic, seeing a target they think is almost within reach, which is a consensus for a 2SS along the 67 lines. They think that is achievable, while the idea of a 1SS is a much tougher nut to crack. So they are trying to get everyone on the same page. Advocates for a 1SS hear this as a sellout.

      As you say in your third paragraph, their opinion on what is or is not achievable (leaving aside what is desirable) may no longer be accurate. It was and still is conventional wisdom that a 2SS is the only possible solution, but it seems highly unlikely that Israel would make an offer that any Palestinian leader would accept.

    • "Care to hazard a guess as to why that is? "

      I don't think it's what you're implying, not in most cases anyway. I think it's the rigidness that you get from morally outraged activists who start seeing anyone who isn't exactly like them as the enemy, along with the fact that in Finkelstein's case he was extremely insulting towards BDS. That's Finkelstein's normal way of arguing with people, as best I can tell, but it stings when it comes from an alleged ally. In Chomsky's case, he was a pioneer, but now he's been left behind. It's sorta natural for the newer people to see him as hopelessly retrograde.

      At Mondoweiss people are sick to death of hearing about the right to a Jewish state, given that it was attained via ethnic cleansing, so they have lost all tolerance for any sort of concession to liberal Zionism. And then there's the usual conspiratorial thinking--nobody ever disagrees because they think differently. Their arguments can't be taken at face value (and I think Chomsky's arguments are wrong, taken at face value). No, it's really a dastardly plot to strengthen the Zionists.

      And we spend much of the day talking to each other. The activists in the Presbyterian Church had to talk to ordinary people who weren't obsessed with this topic and they had to face up to the fact that most of what people hear in the press is heavily biased against the Palestinians. So they achieved what they could. I think Chomsky is claiming that the same is true of the US in general and he has a point there. But I don't think the BDS movement should take his advice. His advice, I think, is to concentrate on point 1, the occupation, and ditch points 2 and 3. But I don't think there has to be a single monolithic approach and anyway, Palestinian intellectuals simply aren't going to take this advice. (No reason why they should.) Giving up the right of return at the very start doesn't seem too smart to me even if one were going to settle for a 2SS in the end. The Israelis often win arguments before they begin by shifting the Overton Window far, far in their direction, to the point where they paint the rather mild and frankly liberal Zionist action taken by the Presbyterians as "antisemitic".

    • Chomsky mentioned the EU action

      "One way to punish Israel for its egregious crimes was initiated by the Israeli peace group Gush Shalom in 1997: a boycott of settlement products. Such initiatives have been considerably expanded since then. In June, the Presbyterian Church resolved to divest from three US-based multinationals involved in the occupation. The most far-reaching success is the policy directive of the European Union that forbids funding, cooperation, research awards or any similar relationship with any Israeli entity that has “direct or indirect links” to the occupied territories, where all settlements are illegal, as the EU declaration reiterates. Britain had already directed retailers to “distinguish between goods originating from Palestinian producers and goods originating from illegal Israeli settlements.”

      I don't think he's very clear, but as best I can tell, he's making a distinction between actions aimed at the occupation itself, and more general sanctions aimed at Israel.

      As for his motives, I take him at face value. He says the occupation is worse than apartheid--I would love to see this sort of piece appearing in the mainstream. The Nation is close enough--precisely because he is critical of BDS he might reach people who read the Nation, but don't live, eat, and breathe the I/P conflict.

      I think he's wrong in his criticism--let a hundred flowers bloom should be the attitude here. Some people want to boycott Israel, others only companies that profit from the occupation. Some of the latter (like the Presbyterians) separate themselves from the former and they are still called anti-semites. In my opinion that's helpful--it demonstrates to anyone paying attention that many self-proclaimed liberal Zionists who claim to oppose the occupation are not sincere about this. We could of course bash the Presbyterians, who distanced themselves from BDS, or we could recognize that what they did probably moved things forward in an American context.

      As for the US being worse than Israel, he's talking about Israel's treatment of its Palestinian citizens vs the US record. (He's not talking about the occupation, which he says is worse than apartheid). I'm not sure what he means either. If he's talking about the past, he's obviously right. Slavery and Jim Crow were horrible. If he's talking about the present, I don't know. The US industrial prison complex, the war on drugs, our treatment of illegal immigrants, our unwillingness to discuss reparations (see Ta Nehisi Coates in recent weeks) all make it a little hard for me to wave the flag and proclaim our moral superiority.

      Anyway, I think he's wrong to criticize BDS, but I suspect that with the people who read the Nation he might have done more good than harm. Here's someone who opposes BDS and still thinks the occupation is worse than South African apartheid. I'd welcome more opposition couched in those terms.

    • Chomsky is an old guy who has suddenly found himself bypassed--for decades he was one of the only people in the US telling the truth about Israeli crimes and was vilified for it. So I respect him for that. The fact that he now writes somewhat confused pieces advocating public education while criticizing the only movement that is doing public education on this issue is sad, but the solution is obvious--point out the contradiction and ignore his advice.

    • "Chomsky and Finkelstein have betrayed the Palestinian people with their petty bullshit."

      I wouldn't go that far--Chomsky says that the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the WB is worse than apartheid and without using the term, predicts that the Israeli endgame is going to be ethnic cleansing (or that's what I think he was getting at).

      But yeah, his criticism of "BD" doesn't make much sense. He wants the public to come to the same near-universal level of understanding regarding Israel that it had on South Africa. Fine. How does he expect ordinary people to hear how bad Israel's behavior is without a movement like BDS? He and Finkelstein have written good books on this topic for decades and so have others. Articles are written, blogs talk about it and so forth, but the only way the pro-Palestinian position ever makes an appearance in the mainstream press is when some BDS action has to be covered.

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