Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 6057 (since 2009-07-31 03:28:07)


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

Showing comments 6057 - 6001

  • Slaughter is not self-defense: The assault on Gaza and the corruption of language
    • Wouldn't the law make a distinction between Hamas combatants defending their homes by shooting at Israeli soldiers, and Hamas combatants firing rockets at cities in Israel?

      As for Israel, would their vastly larger crimes and disregard for the law give any legal cover for someone to shoot at Israeli civilians?

      I'm not saying the two sides are close to being on the same level. One side has killed close to 1000 civilians (or maybe more at this stage), while last I heard the other has killed 3.

    • "Let us not descend to this game of differentiating Palestinian civilians, or even Palestinian children, from Palestinian “combatants.” "

      Why? I like the "game", as you so puzzlingly put it. It makes clear that Israel is using indiscriminate firepower and in some cases is probably targeting civilians and has committed war crimes. People who have paid little attention to the conflict and think the abbreviations 1SS and 2SS refer to two different plans for funding Social Security can understand that blowing up homes and hospitals and schools is wrong. It's not a war crime to fire at people who are firing rockets at Israeli towns if you aim carefully, but obviously the Israelis don't aim carefully, or they do, but they sometimes aim at children, adult civilians, homes, hospitals, schools, and power plants. One can make a case on the larger issues of who started this, going all the way back to 1948, and the Palestinians win that case too, but don't throw away the clearest and simplest argument we have, one that anyone can understand.

  • Video: If you voted for Hamas, Israel has a right to kill you, says president of NY Board of Rabbis
    • "In fact, he seems all the more of an Israeli for being able to think and feel like a Palestinian."

      Never was there a people like them, who could ethnically cleanse a people and savor the multiple ironies at play, weeping all the while, empathizing with their victims as they sip wine and march in gay rights parades. Those guys could empathize the socks off you--no, wait, that was probably an explosion from an air strike.

    • People have made most of the points I would have made, but here's one not made yet, I don't think.

      What if a prominent Presbyterian minister and supporter of divestment had said during the debates that any Likud voter or any supporter of the settlements or any civilian supporter of Israel's tactics in wartime was a legitimate target for Hamas terrorism? Would that statement have received some media attention? Somehow I think it would. There would be an immense outcry and the BDS movement itself would have been condemned from coast to coast by editorialists pontificating on the dangers of antisemitism in our society, and how support for the Palestinian cause was deeply tainted by it.

      So here's a litmus test for the press. If they don't pick up on this story, if this rabbi doesn't become the center of a media firestorm of condemnation, then what does that tell you? It tells you that a rabbi who advocates for genocide gets a free pass. I don't use the term "genocide" much in this conflict, but it is the logical end result of his thinking.

  • Amira Hass and the end of Jewish ethical history
    • I wouldn't be so pessimistic in the long term. People can change. Many won't, but it wouldn't surprise me if some of the ones cheering for Israel's killing now look back at this period in their lives with some shame. Others, of course, won't change at all. They'll remain twisted and bitter about how the rest of the world condemns them, and will think it's because they are all anti-semites. What about Syria? What about ISIS? Etc...

      The problem is getting to that point where people do change. No idea how to do that, except that as Americans we should stop enabling them. We're like people who claim to care for a mean drunk and then we hand him a bottle of whiskey and a loaded gun.

  • How many would be alive today if Obama had not quashed Goldstone Report?
    • "Seems to me that Goldstone put himself in a position where he could never again be taken seriously "

      Yeah, that NYT piece was both embarrassing and infuriating. I wanted to ask what Israel did that made him think they were doing a serious job investigating their own behavior. Perhaps it was the conviction of that soldier for credit card theft.

      He's a joke now. Jerry Haber at "The Magnes Zionist" in a very rare lapse of judgment thinks that everyone misjudged Goldstone's piece and that it wasn't a retraction. Goldstone would have to have the IQ of a rotting tree stump not to realize that what he wrote would be seen as a retraction.

    • It definitely illustrated what Hillary was all about, but she supported the Iraq War, so that was clear anyway. Obama did at least have the sense to say that was a bad idea, though his opposition was couched in realist terms. Obama did have to pander if he wanted to win, but what his supporters should have realized is that this is what they were going to get and not fantasized about some magical progressive leader who existed only in their heads.

    • "I mourn the political generation lost because of that cultism and subsequent betrayal. So much political energy squandered so completely. "

      Exactly. People spent years imagining that they had a secret friend in the White House. And yes, all that energy and idealism that went into a cult of personality and spouting slogans like "hope and change". And it wasn't just this issue. Obama clearly went into the WH with the idea of forming an alliance with center-right people in the Republican Party--grand bargains and all that crap. He despises people to his left. It took him most of his first term to realize that the Republican Party had no center-rightists who would align with him.

    • And here are Obama's words from his first widely praised speech on Jeremiah Wright and race relations--

      "But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam. "

    • Obama has always defended Israel's right to kill civilians with impunity--the Obama lovers back in 2008 were deluding themselves. Obama did criticize the settlements and did initially try to stop the expansion, but he's always had a politician's healthy fear of the Lobby. Here he is in 2007, speaking to AIPAC and if you scroll down he defends Israel's actions in Lebanon in 2006. Hezbollah using civilians as human shields (complete BS), nothing about Israel's use of cluster munitions, bombing fleeing civilians, etc...


      Obama is a slippery politician--I never understood why so many progressives were too stupid to see this. And "stupid" is the right word. It was a freaking religious cult. Not that Obama is worse than the average politician, but the worshipful attitude back in 2008 was inexcusable.

  • Hasbarah Bingo
    • And I forgot all about the hasbara manual until someone mentioned it recently. There is so much crap put out on this issue one tends to forget things. I remembered Luntz showing up at "Tikun Olam" when Les mentioned Luntz.

    • Luntz showed up at Richard Silverstein's blog when Silverstein wrote about this in 2009--


  • Kerry is off the Israel bandwagon
    • Thanks Elisabeth.

    • "I have never seen Israel unanimously reject an American proposal before – and considering the old joke you lock ten Jews in a room,you’ll get twenty opinions, "

      You're equating Israel with Jews. Since there are Jews who do think the blockade should be lifted, your point is lost. In fact, it's a little antisemitic, isn't it? Furthermore, the fact that a country in the midst of war psychology (not to mention a generally racist attitude towards Palestinians) can't stomach any suggestion that it might be in the wrong is hardly evidence of Kerry's incompetence.

      I think what you've just given us is the Lobby's talking point on this. Any suggestion that Palestinians be relieved from the blockade is going to be seen as "rewarding terror" and Kerry is some horrible incompetent for suggesting it, because bigoted Israelis (not Jews) are united in thinking he is wrong.

    • Can't they be both? I'm a New Yorker (state, not city) and an American.
      A former southerner. I used "Gazan" when referring specifically to Palestinians living in Gaza. Is this a Palestinian view you're giving? If so, provide a link and I'll be careful to use the term "Palestinian" if they don't like to be called "Gazan".

    • "prize for terror"

      Part of me just gets a kick out of how the Israelis use the word "terror" relentlessly. I know it's not really funny--it's a deadly form of propaganda since. they themselves are clear practitioners of terrorism--they use terror against civilians, killing hundreds or low thousand range so they and their Western supporters can pretend it's not intentional (since they could kill far more), but obviously meant to pressure civilians just like the blockade.

      But it's "rewarding terror" to talk about ending the blockade when their whole system of control over Palestinians especially including the blockade is state terror. I see pictures of scenes in Gaza and start renaming them in the Israeli lexicon--there's a little terrorist boy with a terrorist bird cage, there's a terrorist donkey cart, in this photo we see a terrorist soccer ball, in this next photo we see a terrorist horse with its terrorist ribs showing.

    • I have to admit I've been pleasantly surprised by Kerry--yes, he's been spouting the usual lines in public, but that "gaffe" last weekend showed there's still a decent human being locked away inside.

      And it was really surprising to see him talking about lifting the blockade. I fully expected him to take the same position as fake liberals like the NYT editorialists, who have been studiously avoiding the fact that Gazans agree with Hamas that the blockade needs to be lifted. I thought he'd try to sweep the blockade under the rug and use it as a weapon the way it's been used, to tell the Gazans that if they don't toe the line and somehow get rid of Hamas they will all be kept in prison. No wonder the Israelis are shocked. This isn't at all what they would have expected. It's probably not what the NYT editors would have expected. There's a certain type of alleged 2SS supporter and alleged occupation critic who is actually just fine with the notion of collective punishment being imposed on Palestinians--whereas the slightest whiff of a boycott, no matter how small in effect, makes them think of Nazism.

      The Carter story is predictable and appalling.

  • Pro-Israel Facebook page is titled, 'Death to Dianna Buttu'
    • Okay, good. Defending you on this was a matter of principle--there's enough real (and very heated) disagreements around here without having to assume things that just aren't true about our opponents. Your record on opposing hate speech is pretty clear.

    • "You?"

      Is that aimed at me after I defended you on this? Or kalithea?

      In high school and up until my mid 20's I was a Zionist and thought Israel was the good guy, so the issue of anti-Arab racism was virtually invisible to me because I shared the anti-Arab view on the I/P conflict and assumed that there was just something wrong with those people. Bigots don't necessarily know that they are bigots, as I can testify from personal experience. But anyway, outside of rare discussions of Israel or terrorism, the day to day bigotry where I grew up was directed against blacks. I did speak up against that.

    • "I’m supposed to believe this coming from a hasbara enabler."

      I believe it. Hophmi reacts with anger or sarcasm at almost every criticism made of Israeli war crimes but on certain issues, like hate speech, he's pretty consistent in his condemnation.

  • Claim that Hamas killed 3 teens is turning out to be the WMD of Gaza onslaught
    • An interesting turn of events. I just put that speech into the advanced search google feature and according to the link below, that speech is a hoax. This is from some Islamophobic blogger who wishes it were true--


      So I put that up as an example of Netanyahu's cynicism and how he was misleading American Jews, but instead it might be a hoax, though apparently the local temple thought it worth putting up on their site.

    • A local Jewish center of worship has this Netanyahu quote on its webpage. I don't want to single them out, so I won't give the link, but here's the quote--

      "From Binyamin Netanyahu's speech to Hamas:
      "We, the people of Israel, owe you a huge debt of gratitude. You have succeeded where we have failed. Because never before, in the history of the modern State of Israel, has the Jewish people been so united, like one person with one heart. You stole three of our most precious children, and slaughtered them in cold blood. But before we could discover the horrible truth, we had 18 days of pain and anxiety while we searched for them, during which our nation united as never before, in prayer, in hopes, in mutual support.
      And now, as you continue to launch deadly missiles indiscriminately, intended to maim and murder as many civilians as possible, while you take cowardly refuge behind your own civilians - you continue to inspire us to hold strongly onto our newly discovered unity. Whatever disputes we Jews may have with each other, we now know that we have one common goal: we will defeat you."

  • Oren's charge that networks showcase Palestinian dead at behest of Hamas is 'obscene' -- Penhaul
    • "Your comprehension is that of a child"

      No, oldgeezer has it right. War propaganda typically involves the evasion of responsibility for one's own actions and is very similar to the reasoning of spoiled children. The US does this too. Probably every country which violates or has violated human rights has done the same. It's all the other guy's fault.

    • Thanks tree. I'll go metric. Assume cement is about 2 tons per cubic meter. (Metric or American tons or exact density figures don't matter for rough estimates).
      Assume 60 tunnels. The average length I don't know, but assume 2000 meters or a little over a mile. Average cross section of concrete at a given location I'll call A.

      Then volume needed is 60 x 2000 x A or 120,000 A. To use 600,000 tons or about 300,000 cubic meters, A would have to be 2.5 square meters of cement. It does seem very high. Maybe there are more tunnels or the cross section is huge or they're longer than I assumed or the figure of 600,000 is wrong.

      I just looked at Sumud's link and they say "up to a kilometer" and the skin does look pretty thin. So 300,000 cubic meters seems even less plausible.

    • "t seems to me that a lot of, for lack of a better term, “first-world thinking” went into the idea that the tunnels require a lot of cement. I"

      Could be. The NYT put out a figure of 600,000 tons, I think, which they got from the Israelis. That was rather stunning if true. I'd sit down and do a rough calculation of the volume and mass of earth removed (and then try to do an even rougher guesstimate of the amount of cement needed if one had a thickness of X around the circumference, but I'd have to look up the estimated number and length and I'm going to sleep now.

      Even just the digging of these without the Israelis somehow knowing about it surprises me. Like every American boy I saw and loved "The Great Escape" on TV, but this is amazing. Possibly there's some lying going on, of course. But I don't know.

    • Hophmi, you need to spread your cynicism around a little more. I would not be surprised if some Hamas figures think that way, as it is often claimed that guerilla movements try to do this. I don't know if it's actually been proven, but it might be the case. Hamas used to send people out on suicide bombing missions against civilians, so I can certainly believe bad things about whoever comes up with ideas of that sort. Ruthlessness is a common trait with guerilla leaders, even the Zionist ones back in the day. Certainly it's true that Hamas is going to play up its civilian dead, just as Israel does, for political leverage.

      On the other hand, this cynicism is clearly false if applied to the average Hamas member--that "militant" who died with his family when Israel blew up the house surely didn't mean that to happen.

      But it also seems clear that Israel practices the Dahiya doctrine in its wars wikipedia article on Dahiya doctrine

    • Is there a post here I'm not seeing? I see the headline and then a bunch of comments with all you lovely people (I'm up there too) discussing or arguing with each other, but only a headline. No post.

    • "has anyone thought that the tunnels in Gaza are merely a distraction for dozens of other tunnels from the WB across the green line?"

      That would be a truly spectacular intelligence failure, though that said, I'm also very surprised at how many Gazan tunnels went undetected. And this is one criticism of Hamas (there are some others) that I share--they should not have been wasting whatever concrete they could smuggle in on tunnels. That doesn't justify the blockade or anything Israel has done, of course, but there's no reason why blame has to be zero sum.

  • Fox's Hannity abuses Yousef Munayyer, says he has a 'thick head'
  • Raising money for Israelis being bombed in hospitals and schools, NY synagogue has not one breath for Palestinian dead
    • "How many Arab or Muslim societies held fundraisers for Israeli suicide bombing victims?'

      No idea. It would have been a great idea, though since Palestinian civilians were killed in larger numbers, there should have been joint Muslim/Jewish/Christian fundraising for the victims of both sides.

  • Israel's actions 'unjustified' in eyes of women, non-whites, Dems, indy's, and those under 50 -- Gallup
    • I knew I had seen something about education and political biases and found it. On climate change, if you are a Democrat the more educated you are the more likely you are to believe the climate scientists who say it is a threat. (Which is most of them)

      If you are a Republican studies vary, but show that either there is no correlation with educational levels or the correlation is actually negative.

      pdf file

      There were other similar sites when I googled this.

      Here is the relevant quote--

      "Another finding from our research may startle observers who assume that citizens with higher levels of education are automatically more likely to accept scientific findings than citizens with less education. Among Americans who call themselves liberals or Democrats, more education is indeed associated with higher levels of belief in the reality of global warming and greater personal concern about it. But the opposite is true among self-described Republicans and conservatives, where education is either very weakly related or negatively related to belief in global warming. In short, for liberals and Democrats, holding a college degree increases the likelihood of accepting the scientific consensus about global warming; but for conservatives and Republicans, holding a college degree often decreases this likelihood."

    • "perhaps those with more formal education understand that Israel can’t wait idly while rockets are fired at her."

      Evidently these highly educated people don't realize that even during ceasefires most of the civilian victims are Palestinians shot by members of the Israeli armed forces.

      I mentioned Chomsky above and I think he's right--education and exposure to the elite press is often a form of indoctrination. "Israel can't wait idly while rockets are fired at her" is exactly the sort of endlessly repeated slogan that can persuade people unless they spend time examining the subject.

      I have a friend who is smart, and used to think that the NYT editorial page was the epitome of wisdom. He actually cited Madelaine Albright (I think) when she said that she didn't think bulldozing homes was the moral equivalent of suicide bombing. My friend had no clue about the Nabka, no knowledge of the shelling of Qana (Qana has been hit more than once), had never read any book that presented the brutal behavior of Israel in Lebanon on several occasions and had no notion that Israel was capable of mass murder. He got his views mainly from the NYT. He once told me with some shock that one of his brothers-in-law thought we supported Israel because Congress was pressured by a Lobby--to him this was antisemitic. He actually said that he thought we supported them because they are a democracy. This was all back in the 90's, but I don't doubt that the average person, educated or not, gets his or her info from the press and they don't go to Human Rights Watch websites or B'Tselem or Amnesty International and peruse what they mind find there. At that time the option wasn't even available--you only got the other side of the story if you went to a good library or a very good bookstore where you might--might--find something that presented a view other than the Zionist one. Now you can go online and examine what the human rights groups say, but I see no evidence that most people do this.

      Educated people believe in global warming not because they do a careful study of the subject in most cases, but because they are told that this is what most experts say is happening and they quite rationally believe it. Most educated people don't have any detailed knowledge of evolutionary theory--they accept it, quite rationally, because they are told this is what experts say is correct. And so on. So if the NYT and other media outlets give a slanted view of the I/P conflict, unless someone takes a serious interest in the subject, they have no reason to doubt it.

    • " You don’t have to agree with them, but your search for an irrational reason for their opinions disparages them. "

      I mean to disparage them. You mention apartheid--anyone who sides with Israel is not very different from someone who sided with apartheid South Africa. Not all the opponents of apartheid were nice people either--the ANC youth in the townships would sometimes put a piece of gasoline soaked material around an opponent's neck and set it on fire. "Necklacing", as it was called. Winnie Mandela seemed to endorse the practice at one point. Yet intelligent people recognize that the serious human rights flaws of apartheid's opponents, whether we are talking about the ANC or various Palestinian factions, doesn't mean we should side with the oppressor.

      I also grew up (after age 8) in the American south right after Jim Crow had ended. A good friend of mine had a highly educated father--he was a doctor and before that, a commander in the Navy. Obviously a very intelligent man. His 12 year old son (my friend) was also very smart. And racist as hell. Obviously he got that from his father.

      Sorry, but no--anyone who supports Israel's behavior is either misled by the press or social pressure, or there is something wrong with their ethical compass.

    • I'll leave that up rather than edit it, but I looked it up and I'm wrong--there's a slight tendency for higher ed to shift people to the left. I suspect, though, that there's a progressive except for Palestine effect among those who are educated. They think they have to support Israel or be seen as antisemitic.

    • It does support the old Chomsky claim that education is about indoctrination.

      I think I've seen polls that link higher degrees to conservative views, but that's something that stuck in the back of my head and not something I can document offhand. A lot of higher degrees are things like MBA's or are intended to be, in effect, professional certifications and are what people need to have if they want to have high salaries. It's not about critical thinking on moral issues. One needs educated people to run corporations or fill government slots.

    • Both you and mijj make good points. The "what do you have to worry about" argument drives me nuts. It's an attitude that says we don't need whistleblowers or investigative journalists--the government is always right, has our interests at heart, and only bad people with something bad to hide would care if they spy on us.

      Though on the Germany comparison the more apt one would be to communist Germany and Stasi.

    • You're a glass half-full kind of guy, Phil. So if the Palestinians wait long enough, the US may shift.

  • 'Israel is wrong by any moral standard' -- Robinson says, as US media pile up
    • They've placed rockets in empty schools, or that's my understanding. But yes, Hamas has fired from near civilians or so we're told. But we're also told that civilians have been killed with no Hamas fighters in sight, like those kids on the beach.

      How did the Zionist underground organizations hide their weapons under the British? Did they build bunkers, clearly labeled? Did they make careful attempts to avoid killing civilians? Well, no, in reality they did pretty much the same things that the Palestinians have done.

      "Unfortunately, most journalists unwittingly play along."

      It must be intensely painful to have American reporters actually on the scene, being able to check many of these things out for themselves, rather than simply saying that it is Palestinian propaganda.

      Most people in the US are critical of Hamas and for good reason, but the attempt to shift all the blame to Hamas for Israel's own actions is shameful and you are encouraging Israel to do what they do. And take comfort hophmi, in the fact that the majority of Americans, brought up on the Palestinian=terrorist tropes, agree that Israel has used the right amount of force, or not enough. It must be great blowing away children with a clear conscience, knowing that one can always chant some mantra like "Hamas uses children as human shields" to cover all cases. Saves the problem of having to look more closely.

    • "The scale of death and destruction appears to be aimed not just at lessening the actual threat from Hamas but also at punishing Gazans for elevating Hamas to power in the first place"

      In the middle of the 2009 war on Gaza, Tom Friedman said the same thing about Israel's war on Lebanon in 2006 and suggests that punishing the Gazans might be the reason for the war in 2009.

      Tom Friedman January 14 2009

      The difference between Robinson and Friedman is that Robinson is condemning Israel and views this notion of punishing civilians with horror, while Friedman writes like a sociopath who can only empathize with the powerful in his society and actually approves of it. This, incidentally, is the key to understanding everything Friedman writes.

  • NY Times reports source of UNRWA school attack is unclear even though Israel said they did it
    • Rudoren's tweet Obsessing Gaza Ignoring Syria would be a little easier to take if she'd said "Obsessing Hamas rocket fire, ignoring Syria"

      It's not like people are going to forget the enormous war in Syria. Goldberg and apparently Rudoren just find it suspicious that people care about Gazans.

    • Good post. I hadn't followed this latest killing closely and so wasn't sure what to believe and didn't know about the conflicting Israeli statements. It isn't out of the question that a Hamas rocket could fall short. But that point about five rockets all falling short in the same small area is a good one.

  • U.S. casts lonely vote against establishing war crimes inquiry in Gaza
    • "Christian zionism"

      Christian Zionism, and I know the type firsthand, influences the Republican Party. I don't think they would have much sway with most Democrats, except maybe in purple or even red states where a Democrat needs all the help he or she can get (and isn't likely to get it from the all powerful Palestinian lobby).

      Thanks for the Japan analysis upthread, btw.

    • And yes, today Israel is on the front page.


      And I know I have never seen the web page look like this in the half dozen or so times I've visited in the past year or so. Usually there are references to Syria and maybe some other country. Of course the reason is obvious--right now, Israel/Palestine is on the front pages of the news.

    • "Israel has long decried the Human Rights Council’s focus on Israel. "

      I wish Hostage were here.

      Anyway, in the past year or so I've seen pro-Israel types make that claim many times here and at other blogs. In response, I would click over to the home page of the UN right's council to see what was there. Virtually every time Syria was on the front page, or maybe every time. I can't remember now if Israel was on there once, or zero times. Then I'd click through and find all kinds of material on all kinds of subjects.

      I haven't clicked today--I imagine today Israel is on the front page. And there's probably some metric where Israel receives more attention than the average human rights violator, though if so it's for the same reason South Africa did--it's because Israel and at that time South Africa were the last vestiges of European colonial settler states. And in practice, with the US there to protect Israel no matter what, Israel has had far less to fear than apartheid South Africa. But expect to see people claim that the UN Human Rights Council does nothing but talk about Israel all day, and it's just not true.

  • Gaza massacre is generating ideological crisis in American Zionists
    • "Particularly useless . It’s STFU in more words."

      That is a really pithy way to put it. That's what I've been trying to say when noticing a difference between liberal Zionists--some, a comparative handful like Jerry Slater, really are honest about Israel's crimes, whatever one wants to say about their Zionism. But IMO the vast majority of self-styled liberal Zionist two state solution supporters are really just gatekeepers on the subject. They are there to say STFU to people who are a little too honest about Israeli crimes--when necessary, they wheel out the antisemitism charge. (MJ Rosenberg straddles the line--honest one day, calling Ali Abunimah and antisemite the next.) In fact, the gatekeepers don't even care about the 2ss--it's just a fig leaf so they can tell themselves and the world that in theory they want a peaceful solution and so they can make criticisms of Israel on the margins, but under no circumstances do they want America's unwavering support for Israel to change.

      Yeah, your version is much pithier.

    • Okay, here's the poll with the numbers broken down by age sex and so forth--

      link to pdf file

      And I was partly wrong about the difference between white and nonwhite. Not that big with respect to Israel. But on the subject of whether force on Gaza was justified, you do see a significant difference.

    • Okay, while all this is great, and I mean that, time to come back to reality.

      Here's the very recent CNN poll, conducted July 18-20.


      As you can see, the great American people side with Israel on taking action in Gaza 57 to 34 percent.

      60 percent of Americans have a very or mostly favorable opinion of Israel. This is down slightly from earlier polls, which are more like the high 60s. What does it take to knock Israel's poll ratings down to, say, the hardcore Bush supporter levels? (Anecdotally I've heard that's in the 20's--you'll always have a hard core of Americans in favor of brutality and death for foreigners.) Evidently a couple of weeks of violence and several hundred dead Palestinian civilians won't do it.

      56 percent think the amount of violence used by Israel is too little or about right.

      Elsewhere I've seen numbers from this poll where they break it down according to age, sex, income, race, etc... and there the numbers are more hopeful, with younger people and non-whites being less favorable to Israel. I don't see that breakdown at this site, though I just looked at it. Might be further down.

      Anyway, you don't overcome decades of hasbara that quickly and on top of that I very strongly suspect there's a component of good old fashioned racism involved here along with our cultural heritage as people who stole the land from Native Americans. Israel is "like us", and the Palestinians are the Other. Getting that to change could require a generational shift.

  • Avishai says we misrepresented his views
    • Most liberal Zionists were complicit in the blockade and in Israeli war crimes as they commonly say they oppose the occupation but never get explicit in condemning Israeli violence and always deny, as in the current circumstances, that Israel commits war crimes. These people have blood on their hands and Bernard needs to stop pretending that he is some noble dissident if he won't take them on. And that the evil terrorist organization Hamas is the first group to bring the injustice of the blockade to the world's attention in a big way, while all the nice responsible NYT and New Yorker and other liberal critics of the occupation looked the other way--in fact, they supported the blockade as a means of pressure, while generally denouncing mere symbolic actions against Israel like the academic boycotts. I don't like Hamas and agree with some of the criticism of their behavior and agree that they are guilty of war crimes, but facts are facts--the evil terrorists get the moral credit for elevating the siege of Gaza to the world's attention. Even the Mavi Marmara blockade running attempt wasn't nearly as effective, because ordinary Gazans weren't being interviewed by the press and the ship and its takeover became the story, not the siege.

  • Berkeley rabbi mounts a soapbox in my living room
    • Thank you yonah. I can empathize--well, only vaguely, since I'm not in that position, but certainly I have friends who are probably to the right of your niece.

      As for resistance, I think Palestinian violence is the wrong way to go if one hopes to achieve a solution where both sides actually like and respect each other--something that seems very very far away right now. I don't believe in this "divorce" analogy that is sometimes put forward by Israelis who put forward the idea that a 2ss is good precisely because it gets rid of the pesky Palestinians. The two live too close together for mutual dislike to be a stable relationship.

      I don't like Hamas. They are a rightwing religious group with a nasty charter that they haven't changed and a history of blowing up civilians, and I could say some other things too, except that, as you mention, right now Israel is doing virtually all of the civilian killing and Western leaders and many ordinary Americans swallow the line that this is 100 percent Hamas's fault. So I'm not terribly critical of them right now.

      Besides, as I mentioned somewhere else, there's this simple inconvenient fact that I don't particularly like and that's this--it is Hamas the terrorist organization that launches rockets at Israel and wastes concrete on tunnels which has finally brought the issue of the siege to the front pages of the NYT. Did liberal Zionists with beautiful souls do this? (not snarking at you, thinking of a lot of other people). No. If anything, I think most self-described liberal Zionists were perfectly content keeping the Gazans in a cage as a way of pressuring Hamas, yet if someone suggested something so mild as the Presbyterian divestment from a few companies, the liberal Zionists, or the majority of them, all start screaming "antisemite". This nauseates me. And again, I don't mean this to sound like I'm yelling at you.

      Even the sort of thing that I favor, nonviolent demonstrations, boycotts that don't impoverish a nation (which the Gaza siege does), the Mavi Marmara attempt to break the blockade--none of that brought the siege to the front pages. What the world has taught the Palestinians is that the only way the New York Times and other papers will start quoting ordinary Gazans on what they want is if Hamas fights a war with Israel with Western reporters present to see what is happening as Israel pounds Gaza. That's a bad lesson to teach, but it is what the West chose to do and they can't admit that they were wrong or that Israel is committing war crimes. The last thing I expect from the US is an admission of guilt on that scale.

      I personally could accept a demilitarized Gaza with a port and an airport and guarantees that Israel won't shoot anyone, but don't know how it would fit with an overall solution or how to guarantee it and anyway, there's the little matter of how Palestinians might reject the idea that they are the ones to be demilitarized, seeing as how Israel is the one doing the killing. And given that lesson I just mentioned, they may want to keep their rockets. Of course Israel won't like that. Obviously the US will side with Israel, and don't think the Palestinians trust the US (and rightly so), so don't know where any of this will lead.

      As for the last part about Ali Abunimah yelling at Goldberg, I had mixed feelings, as on the one hand Goldberg was flippant but on the other hand he was really saying some things that went along with what the pro-Palestinian side says. The larger point is this--Palestinians are sick of the one-sided portrayal of the conflict in the US, and the even more one-sided stand taken by our politicians, and since the US is the world's superpower, this matters. And the CNN poll shows that the majority of Americans think Israel has used the right amount of force or not enough in Gaza--that's partly the product of decades of hasbara, and partly, I suspect, plain old American racism. So I think these posts matter.

      But yes, it would be nice to see some papers about solutions. I don't know where such papers could be found. I think they might exist--Shmuel used to link to some paper about a 1SS, if I recall correctly. Not specifically what you're talking about, but somewhere somebody is probably thinking of constructive solutions.

    • Yonah, it's understood what everyone is talking about. The progressive except for Palestine rabbi is upset that people are criticizing Israeli brutality. I don't understand what it is you don't understand, as you surely understood that.

    • If you're asking me, it's interesting because it shows a fascist attitude, though he compares someone with liberal values with someone who sells out to the Nazis.

    • The only comment at his blog (at this moment) says "We Israelis piss on you KAPOS".


  • Palestinians build tunnel to attack Israeli kindergarten, Netanyahu says
    • "The question to me is why they weren’t detected."

      That's what I don't get. I'm not denying the existence of these tunnels--I don't know enough to do that, but it's strange that so many large tunnels could be contructed without Israel either seeing evidence from the air or from listening to what's going on underground or via some such method. Even if the tunnels at the Gaza end start inside a building, where does the dirt go? Shouldn't the Israelis have detected it? Maybe it's like "The Great Escape", where Palestinians wander around Gaza with dirt in bags under their clothes, spreading it around.

      The NYT said something about 600,000 tons of concrete being used according to the Israeli military. Seriously? Hamas contructed tunnels with that much concrete and Israel couldn't detect it while it was happening? The concrete was smuggled into Gaza and then into the buildings and down into the ground and the dirt came out and nobody in the Israeli intelligence community was the wiser? What are these guys doing with their time?

  • 'Heartbreaking' is U.S. government's talking point for Gaza massacre
    • "Ali Abunimah called it a pogrom in his debate with JJ Goldberg at Democracy Now "

      Just read the transcript. Too bad Goldberg was a little too flippant, because it was good that he acknowledged the blockade was immoral and counterproductive, but his flippancy angered Ali Abunimah.

    • "that’s not ‘sorrow’,that’s just about making him/her feel better about themselves"

      Pretty much. Nobody who actually cared would be so quick to pass the buck to the Evil Other.

    • "“Heartbreaking” is a big step up from the usual “troubling” or “disturbing”"

      I know you're snarking here (and very well too) and I agree, but it actually is a step up. And it's because of all the coverage. We don't have to wait until it's over to have careful investigations--mainstream press reporters, or some of them, are doing a good job showing Israel's brutality in undeniable ways and so it's a bit harder to brush it off. They can't call their pals and weapons recipients "war criminals", so they strike a mournful pose.

      And they do a better job than a rightwing friend of mine, who also felt sorrow for the innocent women and children and then promptly placed all the blame on Islam. Not just Hamas--Islam. God bless America.

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