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  • Young Jews protest Reform leadership's silence over Passover massacre
    • @Pabelmont

      I'll assume this is a serious question. INN believes in positive engagement talking to people not at people . They engage from within not from without.

      So the first thing they would say is Jews don't need a mechanism to get justice. Jews are the ones creating the injustice in Israel. The mechanism to stop the injustice is to decide to stop being unjust. That is INN approaches the I/P conflict from the perspective that they are tangential participants not outsiders. Their discussions with the Jewish community (including Israel) come from a place inside that community not outside it .

      INN: We, us, our… what we did
      JVP: Them, their… what Zionist did

      They want the American Jewish community (and to some extent the global Jewish community) to start having serious conversations about Israel's behavior in a Jewish ethical context. They approach American Jews and say when "we (note the "we" here) support things like the Gaza shooting look who are allies are, look who is objecting. Do you really feel comfortable on that side? Are you really telling me you are comfortable being someone who works to facilitate shooting demonstrating teens in the back?" They consider the occupation to be a crisis of conscience not a foreign policy crisis.

      American Jewish organizations in an open and public way attacked the Netanyahu administration's handling of the Kotel. American Jewish organizations in an open and public way have for years attacked various policies of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate with respect to conversions. American Jewish organizations have been able to bring pressure to bear on issues where the Israeli public mostly sides with taking a very hard line. They see no reason why a similar thing couldn't happen with respect to the occupation, providing American Jews decided they oppose the occupation.

      They want a positive message not BDS's entirely negative message: "freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians... flourishing, joyous, liberated Jewish community that actively supports the dignity of all people." They agree with Phil's position that as long as American Jews support Israel, America will support Israel. They will not fight the American Jewish community nor try and bypass them. Instead they talk to them.

  • Wichita teacher sues Kansas for denying her work because she boycotts Israel
    • @Phil

      It's not in the NYTimes because it is a fundraising gimmick for the ACLU. Her version of events is unlikely, I'd say the most likely outcome is she loses on standing. No exciting 1st amendment debate at all.

      Here is the problem with the case in brief. She claims she was going to hired as a "contractor". "any individual or company seeking a contract with the state " . So first off contract as what. Does she mean she was going to be a W2 temporary employee? They why would they be applying a business document that they ask of companies? If they do that's a procedural error on that part of that agency. The next possibility would be a 1099 an individual without an underlying but that's very unlikely for a state agency. And while I've never done business with Kansas I suspect illegal.

      So probably there is some LLC call it Ester Koontz LLC this paperwork was directed at. Ester Koontz LLC may pass money through to Ester Koontz but it is not Ester Koontz. The LLC doesn't boycott Israel, the managing director does in her personal life. So all that happened is the managing director of an LLC she refused to sign a document indicating that her LLC does not discriminate on the basis of national origin. Most likely she didn't understand the document (most Americans don't understand the distinction between these various corporate classification, it doesn't come up if you aren't doing anything complex).

      Her lawsuit is based on the state having offered her a contract, and I suspect that Kansas is going to argue she was never offered a contract at all. No exciting first amendment case. No big showdown on BDS. Nothing of the sort. And even if they did offer her a contract Kansas is going to rightfully just argue the means of redress is to fix the procedural error.

      That's why there is no coverage. We just have a school teacher who just doesn't understand tax law and the ACLU grabbing some headlines for fundraising on a case I suspect they know will blow up. But it will blow up harmlessly while they wait for a much better case.

      There are other possibilities of course. But this is a not a good case.

      And before I get posts below about first amendment stuff. Read what I wrote. There are no first Amendment issues unless you want to agree with Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores that corporations are entitled to religious opinions. And before you go there think through what that means for just about every anti-discrimination and anti-corruption rule affecting government contractors.

  • Leading journalists call 2nd Amendment an anachronism -- but spare Zionism
    • @John O

      What Phil is talking about is an American lobby. I know USA lobbies much better than UK lobbies.

      Opposing the gun lobby causes Democrats to lose elections especially in Pennsylvania and Colorado. Bill Clinton has said his biggest mistake as president (and he quite a few) was the semi-automatic weapons ban for this reason.

      Opposing the Zionist lobby is damaging. But there certainly are politicians that do so. They tend to have a strong reputation so they don't have to worry about a primary challenge, and they have a safely blue or red district so they don't have to worry about the general election. They don't have ambitions to move up, so they can stay in their safe district. That's a lot of eliminators. Same way there used to be prolife democrats. But as Democrats have decided that choice is an issue over which they won't support a candidate they start eliminating them. So in today's congress we have 3: Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). Given a selection bias and an effectual selection mechanism its not hard to create an overwhelming majority. That's how evolution works.

      As far as journalistic careers... This is in the USA btw. The purpose of television is to fill the space between commercials. The purpose of television news is to create a mildly agitated emotional state in news viewers due to them being confronted with difficult and complex problems. That mild agitation makes them maximally susceptible to advertising. which offers simply solutions, "Are your dishes dirty after you wash them... well Palmolive ...". Statements that are politically unacceptable to viewers create a distraction to maintaining this emotional state. Helen Thomas' position that 3rd generation Israelis should go back to Poland made some viewers, some product purchasers, intensely dislike her. They simply could not watch her and be moved to change their opinions on dish soaps. Same thing that happens with anything else that truly offends viewers.

      So really the question is why does strong anti-Zionism offended some viewers as intensely as say racism, lying about their military service or pediophilia would? But your issue again is not a lobby but the American people.

      Academic tenure is more complicated. Obviously it isn't true because the academy is where the BDS movement and pro-Palestine lobby is centered. It isn't underground. Colleges and Universities are where Jews get attacked by BDSers. As the war has been escalating both sides are collecting heads. Andrew Pessin was taken out by BDS forces. The Zionists have a few more but not a ton. This hasn't gone all out yet.

      If I had to guess I'd say that University and College administrators understand in a country with militant funders on both sides and fairly open gun laws how ugly severe ethnic tension on their campuses could get if they let it get out of hand. Even a few violent incidents could damage or lead to closing of a college. The Israel/Palestine debate isn't being held in a way that is civil. The BDS forces are generally activist not academic thus they often refuse to be constrained by norms of civility. They push things to and sometimes slightly beyond the legal limit. What's the upside for administrators in having this problem on their campuses?

      This is the same problem they face with rightwing agitators who also want to unify a small group of disgruntled students who then want to lash out at broader non-academic societal problems. Student activism is a fun extra curricular activity up to a point. After that point it starts to threaten the bottom line.

      Then you compound that with Jews disproportionately donate to higher education and this makes things worse for administrators. BDS activity driving Jews off their campuses is bad.
      Activists students fighting with Jewish donors is terrible.

      And before someone objects this isn't targeting Jews. Stanford just released a study of Jewish students on UC campuses, where there has been years of serious problems.
      Main results (outliers excluded on all points):
      * Jewish students did not believe BDS activism was a threat to their physical safety
      * Jewish students did believe the debate on both sides lacked nuance. They mostly took a Liberal Zionist position (Israel is not horrible but some of its policies are).
      * They simply refused to discuss the issue with anything other than trusted people feigning ignorance and disinterest to avoid the noxious tone.
      * They restricted their Jewish religious & social activities to avoid getting enmeshed in I/P issues.
      * They strongly resented the pressure they felt as Jews to have to take sides constantly.
      * They believed BDS caused antisemitism and they had experienced antisemitism on campus as a result of it.

      In other words the I/P debate is making college less pleasant and less fulfilling for Jewish students on UC campuses. Why would administrators want more of what students are going to perceive as a negative experience about their education?

  • Media criticism of gun lobby after Vegas massacre would make the Israel lobby blush
    • @Phil

      There is somewhere between 1.5-3% of the American population that normally votes Democratic but strongly supports gun rights and will change their vote over the gun issue. This has been well understood since Clinton's term in office. For an issue marginal to USA politics this is expensive so we don't get broadly support gun control

      On Israel you have a similar constituency. Their reaction to anti-Israel legislation hasn't been fully tested but even minor bumps indicate the numbers are likely similar. Israel is a marginal issue to USA politics. The political calculus is the same.

      As for signature achievement I'd say HealthCare is Obama's signature achievement. In terms of foreign policy I'd say the widespread acceptance of USA mainstreaming assassination in foreign countries as a core tool of its foreign policy is far more likely to be influential. I have a tough time imagining a historian in 2117 even talking about the Iran deal. I have an easy time imagining them talking Obama's campaign being the point where assassination become a global norm again after almost a millennia where it was rarely used.

  • Feel-good Gaza poster in NY window draws feel-bad response from neighbor
    • @Phil

      Yep. You have a New York Jew that genuinely hates the Gazans. From the sounds of it he's never met a Gazan so this is all a product of poisonous actions and rhetoric.

      There is a solution to that. The sort of shared humanity reconciliation type approach that peace activists used in the 1980s-1990s. It worked well, but expectations were unfortunately ridiculously high and so success was measured as a family. Support for discrimination decreased and there was economic progress for Palestinians. Politics shifted left and what had previously been impossible for both sides got put on the table, they never quite reached agreement but both sides shifted towards one another.

      During the 2nd intifada and since then confrontation and more hostility got tried. Back to the pre-Oslo strategy of a rhetoric of total population war, even though the Palestinians were no longer in any position to even plausibly attempt it. So the Israelis can destroy 1/3rd of the infrastructure of Gaza in "self defense " and your letter writer mostly agrees. In the end what matters the most is not whether Gazans hate Israelis, or New York Jews hate Gazans but how much Israelis hate Gazans. The higher Israeli anger and hatred towards Gazans the more Gazans die.

      You want to avoid hate people need to be charitable. Try and see things from both sides. Appreciate common humanity. Look for win-win rather than win-lose. That's how you avoid hate. We both like INN. Think about that for a moment. As far away as we are on this conflict, we both like INN. Maybe that means they are doing something right. That INN can dialogue with both of us from a position of trust is no small accomplishment.

      I can dialogue with rightwing Israelis from a position of trust (excluding the more religious settler right, where I'm too much of pinko leftist assimilated American...). So likely can your letter writer. The violence against the Gazans has gone to far when we condemn it not when you condemn it. Or more accurately the fact that I reject the idea of Jordanian citizenship for West Bankers being sufficient matters to them, the fact you reject it doesn't. Similarly you have cred with the other side. The reason the Allison Weir thing still bothers people so much is that JVP was able to draw a line in the sand and say "this rhetoric we will not support" and make it stick.

      You do a terrific job in the "this is why the Palestinians are so pissed off" department. And that is needed. What you could do on the other side having built the credibility is.... try and work towards dialogue not confrontation. 5 years ago when we started having these conversations you believed BDS would grow and swamp the domestic counter pressure. Before that the resistance strategy would work and your role was going to be the typical domestic resistance. I think you realize now that didn't happen. The American Jewish community was able to win the fight. And the Israelis were able to win their fight. The fraying you chart, isn't happening fast enough.

      We are in a weird void period. Its a good time for articles that think through what comes next. How do we create a less poisonous environment so that the Gazan poster isn't seen as personal threat to a New Yorker?

  • Support for Israel is tumbling-- even among young Orthodox Jews
    • @Phil

      Read the article. Very interesting. Though their definition of left orthodoxy includes 16% who didn't go to Jewish day school, 27% who don't don tefillin and 34% who don't believe the torah was given at Sinai. I'd say what we are really looking at is Jews who are Conservative in all but name. Obviously there is overlap. So I'm not sure entirely they are "like the group from which INN draws". I think we are talking the same group.

      They didn't ask enough questions about Israel unfortunately. The issues that did bother this group though are indicative of a USA focus: cost of Jewish day school and sexism in shul. The sexism is shul though makes a point again about kotel being a terribly bad policy choice.

      The other graph the article didn't mention was their "why be orthodox" which again shows a community focus:
      42% orthodox community
      22% shabbat (family & community focus time)
      20% family

      Finally I do think you may be seeing some of what you want to see. On the details page we see stuff like:

      anti-BDS scores 87% strong support and 7% moderate support
      89% want a unified Jerusalem under Israeli control
      71% support more housing in the West Bank (outside of Jerusalem in Jerusalem 78%)
      only 43% would support a negotiated 2SS

      BTW here is a better link to the report:

  • 'NYT' leaves out Dennis Ross's charge to US Jews: 'We need to be advocates for Israel'
    • @Phil

      I don't think you are part Unz Reviews paranoia. So let's deal with the reality of the situation. There are Republican Jews. They hold views in line with many Republicans but not shockingly tend to focus on Israel. The position of both parties by the late 1990s was that the USA should pursue regime change in Iraq. An opportunity arose to achieve regime change in Iraq. They along with lots of Christians fully supported the war in Iraq. Their behavior is not unusual. Many of the same people are rather aggressive on North Korea, Russia, China and Cuba though of course they may differ on these issues as well. This was all out in the open, Netanyahu did testify before an open session of Congress.

      What was unusual was the USA peace camp was divided on the invasion of Iraq being only weakly opposed. Saddam Hussein funded suicide bombings against Israel. That caused peace advocates who normally would be opposed to any intervention to not be strongly opposed. The second issue was ANSWER which tied the Iraq war protests firmly to anti-Zionism. Those two factors pulled leftwing Jews out of the anti-Iraq war movement and made them ambivalent. With a weak peace movement, an American population strongly in favor of the war, and Republicans united on the war the Democrats ended up weakly supporting the war. And of course with Democrats only voicing some caution support continued to rise. The main voice of concern was the foreign policy establishment not backed by either party strongly. That's how a consensus emerged to make regime change a reality.

      The consensus started to fall apart once the Ba'ath were removed from power. The support started eroding though it is worth noting that it was only late in the 2004 campaign that Kerry turned against the war even semi-definitively and never got specific. There was no dark conspiracy. A few interests groups shifted and what had not been possible in the 1990s became possible in the early 2000s.

      You have 0 influence over Republican Jews. You have 0 influence over pan-Arabist group support or not support for terrorism. What is worth reflecting on though is the role ANSWER played, because the groups you do have influence on could easily play the same role in the next war. In the buildup to Iraq, Jews with any Zionist leanings were kicked out of the main hard left cause. Was that a good thing that needed to happen to start divorcing the Democratic party from Zionism, a bad thing since it led to a destructive war whose effects may kill millions or ...? That's really the question.

      The goal of your organization is to do for the entire Democratic party what happened to the peace movement. I don't think you'll be successful this generation, but I could be wrong. I think the anti-war Iraq movement and the ultimate policy impact gives you a nice preview of what could happen on hundreds of issues without Jews on the American left. You wrestle with the issues of Jewish politics all the time. You don't wrestle with what America looks like in a world where Jews have become swing voters on their way to becoming Republicans. What does the world look like if instead of 13% of USA Jews being neoconservatives 60% are?

  • Why the split inside the Democratic Party over BDS needs to happen
    • @Phil

      You are an optimist. Liberal Jews are angry at Israel. They do dislike the Netanyahu government. With breaking the Kotel agreement Netanyahu has pretty much at this point gone out of his way to offend American Jews. But anger at a country over a few policies and wanting to see it destroyed are not the same thing.

      BDS hates Israel. BDS hates Israelis. BDS hates Zionism. American Jews are unhappy with some Israeli policies. American Jews are distressed at some the choices Israelis have made. American Jews love their Israeli cousins both in the biological sense, the sense of friendship and the more tribal sense. American Jews fully and aggressively support Zionism. There is less distance between Liberal American Jewish positions and Netanyahu's than their is between their positions and Rebecca Vilkomerson's. They want some relatively minor policy reforms not total destruction of the government and society. They might approve of some pressure like sanctions but they would want the scope to far more limited than the BDS demands.

      BDS discredits it doesn't lead on the issue of Israeli policy. BDS is simply too harsh.

      American Jews don't like Iran, they were strongly opposed to the Iranian war.
      American Jews don't like North Korea, they are strongly opposed to Trump's escalation on North Korea
      American Jews don't like Hugo Chavez they would have opposed a war against Venezuela.

      And those are all about countries where there aren't the deeply conflicting feelings.

      Now I do agree that IfNotNow, JStreet... have the potential to play the role of leading American Jewry to pressuring Israel and allowing for greater dissent within the Democratic party. But they will never agree to adopting the Palestinian perspective. If the Democratic party were to adopt the Palestinian perspective (which I think is unlikely but possible over the next 2 generations) Jews will be just be Republicans. In the end Jews are a wealthy group of white voters. Social Justice is a hobby, Zionism is about core identity. I think most Democrats may hate Israel and still if they understand the choice is that clear will pick American Jews over Palestinian rights.

      I think over the next few years you will get t an open BDS supporter running for state senate or congress somewhere and everyone will get to watch nonstop fire from the Jewish community directed against a Democrat and insane fundraising success for their opponent that ain't coming from the oil lobby. And the Clintonites will say to the minority liberals, "told ya". The most important number in American politics is the unfavorability rating, no politician wants high unfavorables among otherwise supporters if they can at all avoid it. That's the mechanism by which popular will turns into representation.

      Your other examples are good ones. Support for Black Civil completely changed the demographics of both parties from 1965-1995. Gun rights debates have been devastating to Democrats. Gay rights was damaging to Democratic candidates for years, and now is having the opposite effect on Republicans in drawing young conservatives into the fold. All those issues did shift voters in rather dramatic ways.

  • Jews have religious commandment to support Israel and fight BDS -- American Jewish Committee
    • @Annie

      You do have a good point there. Though of course that add a lot of qualifiers about it being a duty under present circumstances for a period of time... I'd also be a little more nuanced than you are being about saying the AJC "supports the status quo". I'm not sure they care one way or the other about status quo. I think a more accurate description is they want any solution that the Israeli and Diaspora community can agree on and would be willing to jointly publicly defend. They care deeply about the level of agreement. I don't think they are deeply concerned (at least institutionally) about the level of violence or lack there of towards the Palestinians in implementing a solution once agreed upon. The status quo because it causes tension is far from ideal for them, though other solutions might cause more tension and thus be further from ideal.

      So on reflection perhaps a better way to say why I didn't like Phil's characterization is that it shifts the emphasis of their statement from what the AJC cares about (building a unified Jewish opinion) to what Phil cares about (the Palestinians). I get your argument that in practice it means support for oppression, but he's claiming they said that when they didn't and moreover wouldn't. They are coming from a mainstream not a leftist frame. They just don't have the same categories of classifying policy as the far left does. Ironically they are more postmodern and constructivist than the far left.

      Anyway if you are going to talk about in practice standards. In practice the AJC has to Republican Jews defended mainstream peace organizations. For example multiple times the AJC has effectually defended JStreet's legitimacy: winning the battle before the Jewish Congress for them to retain membership and backing the Knesset off an inquiry into JStreet. In the reverse direction AJC is in dialogue with INN for much the same reason trying to get them to not inflame tensions between Liberal Jews and Conservative Jews in the USA via INN's "Jewish resistance to Trump" theme.

      So in short I agree with your point about in practice while still disagreeing with Phil's phrasing. Its just too strong a critique.

    • @Phil

      Agree with your primary point that the American Jewish community has decided to make Zionism part of Judaism and Judaism part of Zionism. I would quibble a bit with this line though:

      The American Jewish Committee is saying that the Jewish religion commands Jews to support the occupation of Palestinian lands and persecution of Palestinians, and oppose equal rights for Palestinians (ideas embedded in BDS). These policies foster hatred of Jews; and the AJC fosters that process by saying these are Jewish commitments.

      The AJC isn't saying that, you are saying that. The AJC is saying they oppose BDS. BDS is a confrontational leftist groups. There are all sorts of confrontational leftist groups people oppose even if they do support the underlying demands. I was opposed to the Iraqi occupation and oppossed to A.N.S.W.E.R. I agree with Black Lives Matter that independent DAs and not County DAs should be prosecuting police involved shootings, while still opposing the group. I agree with a lot of Al Qaeda's critique about American policy. I think the Sunni Resistance and later ISIS have legitimate grievances.

      Saying you oppose a group is not the same as saying you oppose the demands when phrased in the most inclusive way possible. All 3 of BDS's demands in isolation are reasonable. There are broad coalitions including a majority of the AJC that would support weakened forms of any one of them.

  • Rightwing campaign against Jewish exec who called for exposing Nakba seems likely to fail
    • @yishai

      As one of the ziobots let me make this clear. The answer isn't "essentially no", it is openly no, it is directly no. There is no ambiguity here. There is no room in Islam for people who wish to continue to worship the traditional Arabic deities like al-'Uzza along with Allah. There is no room in Buddhism for one who believes in spiritual annihilation at death. And there is no room in Judaism for people who work to destroy the Jewish people..

      One of the very good things about the "Liberal Zionists in Exile" (again good term Phil) like INN is they are creating a way to strongly object to some Israeli behaviors and the occupation within bounds that mainstream Jews can accept. That makes conversation possible. JVP is not coming from a place of love in its criticism neither is Mondoweiss. Obviously JVP has a community, but that community can never be part of the broader Jewish community. There are very few lines in Judaism, allying oneself with enemies of the Jews to pressure other Jews to do your bidding is one of the few. Edward Said was a great scholar, a terrific humanist, an interesting writer and a worthy member of the American Intelligentsia. None of that makes him any less of an enemy. In the same way Bin Laden was an inspiring thoughtful leader, not scared of complex self examination and deep strategy for a people who desperately need more thoughtfulness and self examination in their politicians. Acknowledging Bin Ladin's quite personal positive traits doesn't make him any less of an enemy to me as an American.

      I'm sorry that makes you feel lonely. Part of joining a community is compromise of the self. If you have been around for decades you should have learned that. Judaism is not a universalistic religion. Judaism engages in a complex relationship between the particular and universal in almost every aspect. I cannot legitimately engage in nerot if a woman is present. If fundamentally I can't accept this sexism and illegitimately perform nerot I defame not enhance shabbas. Collectively the Jews make these rules, individually they don't get to. That's what community means. There are religions which are purely universalistic in their orientation, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus". Leftist universalism contradicts Judaism. Either you need to work hard to negotiate this conflict and integrate them or you just aren't Jewish anymore.

      Eljay and RoHa can jump up and down all they want about how everything should be universalistic and I can only point out the contradictions in their treatment of other countries, that they are being inconsistent in their application. I can't argue that they are wrong in their basic goal since their theology is what Christianity demands. You have a deeper problem in claiming to be a universalist.

    • @Phil

      A lot of my efforts on this site are devoted to Liberal Zionists in Exodus, and I see Myers as such a figure. ...Liberal Zionists in Exodus are thoughtful people who once believed in the Zionist dream or something like it but cannot deny what Israel has become after 50 years of occupation. They are just not sure what to do about it. There are thousands of them out there: people who feel that this website or Jewish Voice for Peace are too radical for them, but something awful is happening in Israel, and they must not be in the position of covering it up or lying about it. The main watering holes for Liberal Zionists in Exodus are The New Israel Fund and IfNotNow, both of which avoid the word Zionism. They know it’s become a dirty word for young Jews.

      Agree with what you wrote and I like the term "Liberal Zionists in Exodus" for this group. I think the differentiation between JVP and IfNotNow type figures is really important. I like the JStreet-U line on defining this distinction, "are you critiquing Israel from a place of love?" Myers FWIW belongs to the "Liberal Zionists in Exodus" camp.

      The main watering holes for Liberal Zionists in Exodus are The New Israel Fund and IfNotNow, both of which avoid the word Zionism . They know it’s become a dirty word for young Jews.

      Now onto disagreement. Again I think you tend to grossly exaggerate the degree of alienation among young Jews. I think young Jews are overwhelming pro-Zionist. The second thing I think is that critiquing Zionism gets into an ideological battle. Arguing that Zionism, or the fruits of Zionism is illegitimate while being perfectly OK with the Reconquista and the continuing existence of Spain is a very hard position to defend. It's one issue that BDSers simply don't have a good answer to, "why Israel". Every existing country's history is filled with violence, why should Israel be uniquely singled out for destruction on that basis? FWIW I think Michael Neumann I think answered this objection best.

      I believe the reason that INN and NIF don't discuss Zionism is they want to focus on acts on not state. It is the same technique that blacks have used with regard to racism. Whether someone is racist or not is a complex discussion, whether a particular act is racist is not. Racist for a person in today's world is delegitimizing it is an assertion of that a person is irredeemably evil. Racist for an act makes a discussion possible. A person may disagree or they may see that in retrospect their act was racist repent and change. I think that's the goal of INN and NIF language to have a discussion about Israeli policies that are changeable not Israel's being that is unchangeable.

  • 'This miracle, this gift, this jewel' -- Obama's ambassador to Israel declares he's a Zionist
    • @Phil

      It may not be transparency, it could be conversion. I get that you don't experience these emotions when you are in Israel. But for most Jews experiencing a Jewish state is amazing.

      I can remember the first time I walked into a crappy restaurant and there was a Jewish sink (two handed cups and towels for netilat yadayim). Or having the time of the 3rd star at bus stops. Or people who have no idea its Christmas while every year my life has to revolve around this holiday I don't celebrate (do they know its Christmas time at all -- nope). And of course the immense pride in seeing a Jewish army.

      I can easily see after how years of being in Israel Ambassador Shapiro went from supporting Israel to identifying personally with it. Ambassadors from time immemorial "go native", start identifying with the country they are posted to. And for Jews in Israel with the incredibly strong pull, I'd say it is much more likely.

  • The liberal double standard on boycotting North Carolina and boycotting Israel
    • @Bumblebye

      You aren't disagreeing with my point, you are confirming it. The types of demands you are making of Israel are way beyond what liberals are demanding of North Carolina. I understand that you think Israel is far worse, but that was exactly my point to Phil. North Carolina the demand is for a minor point of reform; Israel the BDS demand is depending on interpretation for something ranging from massive reform in dozens of areas to total destruction.

    • @Phil

      There is a huge difference in the relative demands. No one is asking North Carolina to stop existing, no one is asking North Carolinians vacate huge chunks of the state, no one is asking North Carolina to accept being flooded with a few tens of millions of Chinese immigrants.

      There is also a difference in tone. There is no hatred of North Carolina. The boycott North Carolina movement says the state is fine they just want a simple policy change. There is no demonization of North Carolinians. There is no delegitimization of North Carolina as a state. That's not at all the case with BDS which has an awful tone regarding Israel.

      If BDS was pushing for a say and end to workplace discrimination or housing discrimination in a moderate tone that would be a comparable situation.

  • The Jewish revolution
    • @Phil

      J Street, which loves Israel but does so critically — shot itself in the foot when its youth branch, J Street U, joined a rightwing conference against BDS, the Boycott campaign aimed at Israel. J Street did so with the faith that its adherence to Zionism could resolve its fierce opposition to the Israeli occupation with all the rightwing organizers that can’t get enough of occupation; but J Street judged wrong. Its Zionism cut no ice. Its idealistic young representatives were smeared as anti-Semites, and J Street has been trying to cover its ass ever since for breaking bread with Netanyahu-loving, Islamophobic, Trumpist, intolerants.

      Phil. I was there, I saw it. Nothing that dramatic happened. JStreetU kids went to what was essentially a Republican Jewish convention hosted by Danny Danon and staring Nikki Haley. The crowd was probably 90% Republican. Centrist Democrats all felt the crowd and most speakers were a bit too far right and out of touch; including myself BTW and some of the other middle aged center leftists I chatted with. There were however speakers on the list who were just as leftwing as the JStreetU kids. There was no broad rejection.

      JStreetUers were listened to and they were seen as "part of the team". Yes there were people who don't like any Democrats. Yes a pro-Zionist Mormon made an off color comment to them. All this drama everyone is writing about didn't happen. Where they were most offended were not comments made about them but comments made by Republicans reflecting normative Republican views, like comparing the UN to the KKK.

      Who is J-Street supposedly having to cover their ass with? They are an Israeli lobby. Of course if the Israeli ambassador hosts an event with thousands of attendees (potential donors and members) along with the US ambassador they are going to be there, that's their job.

      But in the era of Trump, progressives are the only game in town.

      Huh? Last I checked Trump is having problems with traditional conservatives, moderate Republicans, moderate Democrats, most minorities, business lobbies. In the era of Trump there are more games than normal in town.

      These Jews [JVP and INN] are choosing intersectionality as a vehicle to smash the “What’s-good-for-the-Jews” ethos of their parents and grandparents

      Does INN even allow for non-Jewish members? They certainly don't seem welcoming to non-Jews. They certainly don't coordinate with other groups or allow for mixed demonstrations. How is INN choosing intersectionality? I think you are seeing what you want to see.

      Beinart also warned that if Israel fails, the Jewish community will be tromping through the rubble for generations ala the momentous failure of Shabbtai Zvi

      Shabbtai Zvi was trivial in comparison to Israel. If Israel fails there won't be a Jewish community or meaningful size. We'll join Odin worshippers, the cult of ISIS or Cybele cults as dead religions. Game over, history moves on. Israel was the plan-B there is no plan-C.

      The project of the one-and-only Jewish state has failed inasmuch as it has not become the light unto the world it kept promising it would be

      Are you so sure? Seems to me a little horrifically mistreated minority in one century becoming something like the 30th largest economy, the 15th most powerful military and a European standard of living in the middle east ain't so bad. I suspect many of the worlds groups suffering under tyrannies of larger more dominant groups look to Israel as a light of hope.

      But even if that's not true. Even if all Israel is or ever will be is just a pretty good place for Jews to live by right, not some temporary gift dependent on the whims of Christians... that's a huge success not a failure.

      As for the moribund conference. The AIPAC conference had to charge up to $600 each to keep people below the 20k the venue could handle.

      If it were free / cheap, recruiting and in a cheaper location like Vegas they might be able to do 100k. JStreet did 3500. Anti-BDS was about 2500 including about 1000 under 25 years old. The JVP conference was about 1000. The Israeli day parade in NYC next month will have 30k marchers and about 2.5m in person watchers. I wouldn't be declaring victory yet.

  • AIPAC underwrote Islamophobia in the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party too
    • @Phil

      Thought of a better answer. Again I don't think deep state really applies to the USA, but if it did....

      In the case of AIPAC would be part of the open government system being manipulated by the deep state. The deep state in this analogy would be the large body of people who support AIPAC's position. Essentially Jewish Republicans plus a few others.

      I'm not sure where to go from there. Jewish Republicans are happy to talk about their positions quite openly. And that points to the problem with using deep state language for the USA. AIPAC isn't being manipulated into some end it isn't designed for, rather it is doing exactly what it is intended to do. It is faithfully representing the open interests of its supporters.

    • @Phil

      I would essentially consider CAP to be a leadership home / part of the Democratic party.
      Founded by John Podesta
      Chaired by Tom Daschle
      Run by Neera Tanden

      I'm not sure how to distinguish between a think tank and a political party as far as their constitutional role. My point was that intermediaries are supposed to confer with one another. Obviously these people went off to go run the Clinton campaign, quite openly, once the time came. They aren't operating in the shadows.

      The deep state is not a sinister conspiracy of a few but a component of society that has the consent of powerful people

      Once you start talking: politically powerful, financially powerful, culturally powerful... (the way say Chomsky does). That isn't someone manipulating society. That is society. What it means to be economically powerful is to be someone who can influence heavily or deploy labor and materials as they see fit. What is means to be politically powerful is you can influence or make policy. What is means to be socially powerful is that you can influence popular opinion. etc...

      Humans traded a good neck for a lousy neck prone to chocking on food in exchange for being good at coordinating. Coordination is one of the defining characteristics of all human society. Of course the powerful negotiate with each other about how to govern the society.

      inasmuch as it will never talk about the Israel lobby honestly.

      What non public information do you want the media to say? What is unique about the Israel lobby that's not true of say the Agricultural lobby or the Energy Lobby? The press covers lobbies:

      Major lobbies have their own press: ex (energy) (telecommunications)

      Other lobbies report on themselves to attract money (pharma lobby)

      If anything AIPAC gets way more mainstream coverage than say a bottom of the top 20 lobby would warrant.

      I agree with you that young leftist activists don't understand lobbying. But they generally don't understand much about politics. They are passionate but ineffectual. As they get older they get less passionate and more effectual. There aren't many advantages of age but there are some :)

      What big secret do you think isn't being told?

    • @Phil

      I don't think Lobbies qualify as part of the deep state. The constitution specifically grants the people the right to lobby congress for redress. Laws openly call for meetings and hearings with constituencies likely to be impacted by legislation. AIPAC is openly a group, the primary group, of Americans interested in Israeli affairs. As a society we have created intermediation mechanisms to translate broad uniformed and often contradictory public opinion into actionable pressure so that legislation and executive action can result. Political parties, interest groups and lobbies are those intermediation mechanisms.

      The deep state is the group of people involved in secret manipulation of government policy. AIPAC only manipulates government policy in line with how our democracy works. American democracy has lots of problems but those problems in many ways result because these intermediation mechanisms are breaking down as mistrust for elites, the establishment, is growing. I don't think there is a deep state in the USA but even if there were lobbies would not be part of it.

      What you are citing in this article are mostly examples of lobbies coordinating among themselves on policy. Lobbies that have conflicting policy would want to influence one another and thus form a consensus of opinion so that unified government action can occur. Lobbies in their intermediation role are expected to come to consensus on matters on policy. If the lobbies just conflict with one another they are only slightly better than public opinion on creating actionable pressure. You would expect what you are citing to occur in a democracy.
      That isn't a bug its a feature.

  • The U.S. is at last facing the neocon captivity
    • @Phil

      National interest is easy. Assume Cheney's plan worked and fracking hadn't turned out to be such a godsend. Today we control the flow of Iraqi oil. We have a bases agreement allowing us to station unlimited troops in Iraq. We have a huge force in Afghanistan so Iran is menaced on both sides with at best only semi hostile force to the North (that is unless Iran has already been flipped). The USA through Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and possibly Iran has control of the flow of middle eastern oil.

      One can disagree with Cheney's vision. Fracking turned out to make oil much less important. But it is hard to see how that isn't in the US's national interest.

    • @Phil

      deas have consequences. It takes a vision to make policy. Neoconservatives had a vision.

      That I agree with. But the point is that the neoconservatives had influence even earlier than Bush. They were already pushing the USA towards war with Iraq. That was our policy pre-Bush. You want to have a timeline you have to account for 1998.

      In terms of ideas I think there are two visions at play here:

      There is a broader vision shared by about a quarter of the American population Wilsonian idealism . This is a belief that the USA should work to spread democracy and capitalism. I'd actually say you are in that camp as much as they are (though possibly not as much the capitalism part). I'm not saying you agree on means, but you do like an active American foreign policy and spreading American ideals.

      In both administrations you had people who disliked Iraq and hate Ba'athism. The question was were they willing to tolerate the consequences of chaos in the Middle East? For conservative Zionists chaos in the middle east is a huge net plus. But that enthusiasm among Zionists would have been equally present among congressional Republicans in the Clinton administration.

      Here is the change IMHO. The foreign policy realists had been concerned that the destruction of Ba'athism would leave a vacuum and that a weakened Ba'athism was better for the USA than revolution. Which is an important dispute which the foreign policy realists lost inside the Republican party? I'm going to say a more likely cause is the inadvertent effect of social issues.
      Foreign policy realists came from northeastern and midwest. That is Republicans who were losing elections to Democrats as those states went Blue while Southern Republicans (mainly Jacksonian) were winning elections. Jacksonians were unusually hawkish after 9/11 and George Bush was able to form a Wilsonian-Jacksonian alliance on Iraq. Saddam Hussein thumbing his nose at the USA for years insulted their honor. Yes a stupid reason to go to war but Jacksonians are all into the whole honor thing.

      Now I think that's because secular Jews, like any other secular who are attracted to the Republican party are almost never attracted over social issues. They are either economic conservatives (and few Jews are really into the neo-Confiderate economics that the current Republican party champions) or foreign policy hawks. But Jewish Republican foreign policy haws are a few tenths of a percent of the population.

      So I agree ideas are the core, but they are Andrew Jackson's ideas about America's foreign policy not Netanyahu's. And in terms of root causes, collateral damage from the reactions against Roe vs Wade and the Civil Right Act's change to America's political demography.

      If Jewish Republican Zionists had enough pull to easily get us into wars, Netanyahu really would be the Republican Senator from Israel.

    • @Phil

      There is a problem with your order of events. Regime change was USA policy prior to the Bush Administration:
      The act was passed 360-38 in the U.S. House of Representatives and by unanimous consent in the Senate and of course Clinton signed it. So your conspiracy theory has to involve more or less the entire national elected American government. Moreover it can't be associated with the Bush administration since they weren't in power yet.

      Iraq's unfavorables were over well over 90% from 1990 on. The people who didn't like Iraq were the American people. Generally over 60% of Americans favored military action against Iraq to end Saddam Hussein's rule throughout the 1990s. Bush's (who let's not forget is Christian) propaganda pushed that to the mid 70s prior to the vote. The American people don't like anti-American governments and generally favor military action to get rid of them. No great conspiracy.

      Where Jews might have had any impact, was in the peace movement. That's where you see a big shift in opinion. Normally when there is a buildup to war there is an active peace movement in the United States. But.

      a) Saddam Hussein had funded suicide bombings
      b) The peace movement for the 2nd Iraq war was expressly anti-Zionist.

      So Jews who form about 50% of the USA's peace activists sat this one out. They didn't take part in the pre-war peace movement and Democratic politicians faced a situation where liberals instead of being united against the war were divided. We can see that because the after war peace camp because exclusively focused on Iraq and Democrats went back to being more hesitant about the war. So while I don't think Iraq had anything to do with Zionism I'd say anti-Zionism dividing liberals was far more crucial to the Iraq war effort than Zionism.

      In 1991 the vote was
      House: 250 to 183
      Senate: 52 to 47

      In 2002 the vote was:
      House: 297-133
      Senate: 77-23

      George Bush ran for re-election in 2004 on the Iraq war and won. The blame for Iraq goes to he American people. There was no conspiracy.

  • 'NYT' and 'MSNBC' leave Marco Rubio backer's Israel agenda out of the story
    • @Phil

      Let me help you out.

      Till our press even addresses the issue of the Israel lobby, people are going to form dark and conspiratorial views of the extent of its influence.

      Pro-Israel views poll around 70%. The Israeli lobby isn't needed for shaping popular opinion. The Israeli lobby's job is to counter Arabist oil interests so that Jews don't experience what they did before the 2nd World War and during Eisenhower where the policy of Britain and the USA was functionally anti-Zionist. The human rights lobby is just a loud annoyance and a tool of the oil lobby. With Saudi Arabia apparently having turned against the Palestinians and the USA moving to becoming an oil exporter and thus less concerned about Middle East stability all-together it is likely that this fight is won.

      So in short the extent of the Israeli lobby is to counter the oil lobby where possible but the situation on the ground is getting better and that may improve this decade.

      Especially from Jewish writers, who understand the role of Zionism inside Jewish life.

      Zionism is the center of Jewish life both communally and often individually. About 1/2 the Jews on the planet live in Israel. Of the remaining 1/2 80% are American. Those American Jews are often biologically 1/2 Jewish and mostly only lightly affiliated with Jewish ritual. Zionism is a cheap and effective way of showing their religious identity.

      The Orthodox are migrating to Israel and from Israel. So for them more and more they or their relatives are living in Israel, and not only do their relatives life their but most of them have been to Israel multiple times. For the Orthodox American Jewish community they are probably about 2 generations from functioning like an Israeli immigrant community that flows back and forth similar to Mexican Americans in the Southwest or Canadian Americans in New England.

      The political newspapers cover this. Jews are Zionists. Jews vote the Israel issue. Jews are secular and educated and thus by and large Democrats. They are also well off and white (since the 1950s) and thus the richest among them lean Republican. Jews mostly consider anti-Zionism to be full on Jew baiting anti-Semitism they don't distinguish between
      a) X hates Israel
      b) X hates American Jews

      And like any other voting group "does politician Y care about my me" rates higher than "do I agree with Y on the issues". Which means they react very aggressively to anti-Israeli politicians and their support plunges. Same as other groups in a similar situation. Ask Mitt Romney how many Hispanics who thought he was an anti-Hispanic bigot but agreed with him over Obama on the social issues voted for him. The situation with Obama over Israel and Iran a few months back shows how this works. Secular Democratic fundraisers and pollsters freaked out when Obama's Jewish approval dropped 8 points over what was an inside the beltway squabble.

      Right now calling Netanyahu "the Republican Senator from Israel" is a joke. But that sort of attitude is how Jews avoid dual loyalty issues. Israel as a USA vassal solves their problem of dual loyalty.

      No great conspiracy. Just the system working like it should.

  • A response to the 'Washington Post' blogger who calls me an anti-Semite
    • @Phil

      It is a good piece. You are a good writer.

      But you are not going to be able to write one of the most anti-Jewish sites on the web and not be thought of as an anti-Semite. Just to pick the recent example. You don't like Pamela Geller. Pamela Geller in her most racist diatribe doesn't advocate doing to Muslim countries what you want to do the Jewish ons. You believe that Pamela Geller is being racist when she incites Muslims and yet you work hard to make sure Jews are incited against on college campuses. I don't understand how you can quite literally have posts next to each other about Islamaphobia while inciting against Jews. Muslims are vastly vastly more powerful on a global scale than Jews, so it ain't a power thing. You get grouped with her. You don't want to get grouped with her stop running an anti-Jewish site.

      The issue with anti-semitism is not that you talk about the Zionist lobby or that you want to talk about how Jews handle power or you want to critique Israeli minority policy or... It is that you consistently hold Jews to entirely different standards than those you apply to other groups. Your argument is that the Zionist lobby is uniquely powerful. People like me would put it at the bottom of the top 20 nowhere near the pharmaceutical lobby or the agribusiness lobby. A good deal of what you write about the Zionist lobby is true of most lobbies. You don't indicate in your writing.
      a) You have objections to lobbying as a major component of how America is governed
      b) You have specific objections to the Zionist lobby.

      Conflating (a), writing about the Zionist lobby with charges that apply to all lobbies is anti-Semitic. It is just like the people who attack blacks for being on public assistance even though far more whites are on public assistance.

      Similarly on Israeli "crimes". Your site is completely biased exclusively focusing on bad stuff about Israel, among bad things presenting the most hostile sources and then further drawing conclusions as if there was no conflicting information. From that bias you are argue for policies that deny Jews any self determination and forever enslave them (at best) to Palestinians. Most Jews have a sense of proportion and balance. They understand that Israel is a young country dealing with the problems of a young nation and they should be rightfully compared to young countries not mature countries: Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Zaire... And in that comparison they come out quite well.

      When Pamela Geller says the most negative stuff possible about Muslims cast in the most negative light she gets classified differently than people who write balanced stuff. And that's irrespective of whether they think she has a good cause or not.

      Finally, certainly there are reasonable questions about having a dialogue on how the Jews handle power. This is a conversation the left has wanted to have with Jews since the 1940s, where Jews still think of themselves as a weak minority and no one else in the USA does. That being said, I suspect when they stop thinking of themselves that way America Jews are just going to be another group of white Republicans. Jewish support for the left is nothing like it was 2 generations ago., it is becoming more of a hobby than a point of self image. I think most Jews are liberal because they secular and educated. The dialogue is ultimately going to be for American Jews, "your interests are better aligned with the powerful's desire to maintain than the powerless' desire to adjust". Are you sure you really want what you are asking for?

  • Open Hillel's big month: Swarthmore 'Kehilah' is born and a student resigns over Hillel restrictions
    • @Hostage

      I have to tell you I'm starting to lose track on what points of law we are disagreeing about vs. what points of fact we are disagreeing about vs. what points of likely outcome we are disagreeing about.

      So I'm going to get a little more specific with a scenario. Assume that Open Hillel of Swarthmore didn't change their name. George from Open Hillel invites Phil (Ali Abunimah or ...) to speak. Phil agrees. George

      1) Rents a room under the name Open Hillel from Andrea with payment due later.
      2) Charges $15 a ticket to see Phil speak. Betsy buys a ticket.

      Assume only 10 people come and thus he doesn't pay Andrea because the event doesn't generate the $500 he needed to pay her. Andrea claims she thought the contract was with Hillel and wouldn't have signed a contract with payment after the event with some small student club. Betsy claims she thought it was a Hillel event and wouldn't have bought the ticket had she known.

      We have 4 possible claims.

      i) Does the rent situation constitute a trademark violation since Open Hillel has now besmirched Hillel's name?
      ii) Does the ticket sale constitute a trademark violation since Open Hillel has caused Hillel to appear to endorse Phil?
      iii) Does the rent situation constitute a petty theft through fraud?
      iv) Does the ticket situation constitute a petty theft through fraud (counterfeit goods)?

      My assertion is that (i) and (ii) are yes, they are trademark violations. I also assert that (iii) and (iv) and probably no. But that's not definite and an aggressive prosecutor could go for it. Which is a real danger.

      Obviously all these problems disappear under the name Kehilah because then there is no fraud and no trademark violation. We agree there is no fraud and no trademark violation when Open Hillel / Kehilah is not engaging in trade. The question is about what is the situation when they are engaging in trade.


      Now the next question you have is about Texas Menorah clubs. You are confusing two issues.

      1) Could these Menorah clubs claim to have a pre-existing right to Hillel.
      2) Can some group in 2013 come along and claim to have a right to use the term Hillel.

      I think the answer to (1) is no. The order of events doesn't matter. If at some point Texas its use of the term Hillel was as part of the Hillel Internation as trademarked by B'nai Brith they've waived their rights. And I think it is unquestionable they have done so. Texas A&M Hillel would testify against Swathmore BDSers saying they do recognize B'nai Brith / Hillel International as holding trademark to the name if they tried to raise the argument you are suggesting. And that would settle it for court.

      But even if I were wrong on point (1) that does Swathmore Open Hillel no good at all. Saying Texas can contest the trademark doesn't mean Open Hillel Swathmore can. Open Hillel most certainly did not pre-exist the trademark registration. And clearly the reason they called themselves "Open Hillel" was in reference to the business run by the Hillel International. And that's exactly what you meant by your "fair usage" claim. They can't claim to both be a referring to the other organization and not be in a trademark trial. I do not see how Pennsylvania would issue them a DBA and trying to do business under the name Open Hillel without a DBA is a crime. In Pennsylvania the B'NAI B'RITH HILLEL FOUNDATION BUILDING FUND OF PENNSYLVANIA, HILLEL OF GREATER PHILADELPHIA... exist and they are going to lay claim.

      The Swathmore BDSers cannot have a Hillel brand Jewish community center (again assuming they do something involving trade) for the same reason they cannot sell a Coke brand soda. They are trying to do precisely what trademark law is designed to prevent.

      Finally on Title VI here do disagree. Fingerhut runs a private organization with a clear and open religious affiliation. He can choose to consider any doctrine to be heretical and expel from his organization for it. The right to have a regenerate church, i.e. to only include believers and not all comers was one of the things quite literally the pilgrims left England over. This is as settled law as it gets. Church discipline has been upheld by state and federal courts numerous times.

      To pick a few recent examples:
      Paul vs. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society 1987
      Guinn vs. Church of Christ of Collinsville 1989
      Williams vs. Gleason 2000

      Fingerhut can declare anti-Zionism to be a Jewish heresy that disqualifies one from being part of the Jewish equivalent of the regenerate and he is on very firm ground. He can't harass the Swarthmore BDSers but he most certainly can prevent them from using his trademark.

  • I want my country back
    • @Phil

      Your problem is you confuse the lobby with the domestic groups that support the lobby. Take abortion.

      1) There are a group of formal lobbies that operate that write pro-choice legislation and provide funding for pro-choice candidates because they are pro-choice.
      2) There are a group of lobbies that support socially liberal causes and thus oppose abortion restrictions even though they aren't formally or primarily pro-choice lobbies.
      3) There is a wide group of American for whom abortion is one of their primary motivators on how they vote.
      4) There is an even bigger group of Americans who prioritize a basked of social issues including abortion.
      5) There is a solid majority of Americans that while not identifying as pro-choice can often be made to rally in opposition to pro-life legislation.

      Presidents who are pro-choice get opposed by pro-life factions, presidents who are pro-life get opposed by pro-choice factions. Congress is not beholden to either side.

      The situation is similar for other lobbies as well.

      Finally in terms of your quote. George Washington would not have approved of the United Nations governing USA policy. The UN is also a foreign power. People like Jonathan Boucher who opposed self determination and rather believed that territories were governed by rights outside the people, that is backed the UN's position, Washington threw out of the country. What you are arguing for is not just neutrality between Israelis and Palestinians but active USA support the Palestinians, that is not the absence of a foreign attachment but rather a different one. Obama in so far as he has any coherent strategy, is not working for USA disengagement from the middle east but rather a strategic shift away from Israel / Egypt / Saudi Arabia towards Iran and its proxies so as to be better positioned against Sunni extremism. That is not consistent with Washington's politics either.

      Obama's desire to avoid a war with Iran is popular. Obama's means of getting there by backing Iran in their territory expansion and legitimizing their uranium enrichment program is not popular. Obama is trying to have it both ways in lashing out at Israel. If the cost of the Iran policy is a much weaker relationship with Israel and thus the bill has a solid 2/3rds opposed in both houses.

      If this is just temper then Obama's fight with Netanyahu plays very similarly to his fight with Jan Brewer. Large population chunks agrees that Governor Brewer was rude to President Obama. They agree that Obama has every right to have a testy relationship with her. But if it came to actually harming Arizona because he didn't like Brewer his support would quickly erode.

      Israel is popular not because of some foreign lobby but because the vast majority of Americans objectively weigh the situation and side with Israel. You've been doing a little victory dance as there has been tension. There is tension because there is two sides.

      Obama knows that in under a year Hillary is going to have to take one side or the other. If this is still going on in a year Hillary has some unpalatable choices. She can support Obama's war with Israel speed up the migration of Jews to the Republicans and thus see Florida and possibly Pennsylvania go Republican in 2016? Or she can attack Obama's Israel policy and potentially depress minority turnout losing states like Ohio, Colorado and Nevada. Obama because so much of his policy is coming from executive orders needs a Dem to win in 2016. Which means he needs this fight over soon. The Republicans for exactly this reason, that Israel is a Democrat wedge issue, want to prolong this fight as long as possible. They would love to talk Israel everyday from now to the election.

      Which to pick other issues is precisely the attitude the Republicans used to have on abortion and precisely the attitude the Democrats have today on gay rights. That's what wedge issues are. There is nothing unusual about it. If Obama wanted to damage America's ties with England or Mexico you would see the same wedge issue politics just different players.

  • Who can save Israel now?
    • @Phil

      This was a base election. MSNBCs' comment that Netanyahu was the new George Bush (43) I think is accurate. Certainly most liberal zionists detested George Bush so that does present a problem. What this election showed was whatever saw that Israelis are shifting left economically and right on foreign policy. While there are still divisive issues there is a growing consensus about what sorts of policy shifts Israelis want. This election presents the new PM with a mandate.

      Israelis have never indicated they want a strained violent relationship with Palestinians. What they have indicated they want is an unquestionably Jewish state. Israel will be Jewish in the way that France is French. Israel can be highly democratic, but that democratic impulse will not be allowed to undermine the function of the state. I think this election clarifies what Jewish and Democratic mean. Israel can be Democratic in so far as that doesn't compromise it being Jewish.

      The real lesson of the election is

      a) Israel has a majority or close to it on the right
      b) The various rightwing parties really are more like a primary in the USA representing various factions that will come together when threatened by the left.

      As an aside what I've been hearing is the reason the exit polls were so off was the military vote. The rightward shift is more present among the young. Denormalization is dangerous for Palestinians. Denormalization is dangerous for Palestinians. Denormalization is dangerous for Palestinians.

      Having abandoned the two state solution I think the most obvious thing for Netanyahu to do would be go give Bennett the Foreign Ministry and let him sell the Bennett plan globally for the next few years. Bennett needs some international experience and he would happily work with Netanyahu on this.

      As for Americans. I still think most Jews who are involved fundamentally understand the dynamic. The holocaust proved the need for a Jewish state not a Jewish homeland. What BDS proposes, even in your incredibly optimistic scenarios is a Jewish homeland within a Palestinian state. They won't like that.

      When asked whether they want a more democratic state in Israel I suspect liberals will say yes (heck most conservatives would say that). When asked if they want Khaled Mashaal to have control of Israeli's ICBMs I suspect liberals will quickly say no. When asked if they had to pick which do they pick... I suspect liberals will want some sort of measure that doesn't sound so bad like the ZU.


      . Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who are governed by Israel, who according to Israel live In Israel, cannot even vote because of the color of their skin.

      East Jerusalem residents can apply for citizenship and once they get it can vote. That skin color things simply isn't true. More importantly there is no skin color laws in Israel. This is a complex enough issue without fabricating stuff for effect. If East Jerusalemites choose for residency and not citizenship as a protest then they have made their choice. I'd prefer that East Jerusalem residents not be allowed to renounce their citizenship (the same way a USA citizen can't renounce inside the USA) but so far Israel gave them that choice.

  • Netanyahu flips off Harry Truman
    • @Phil

      The truth is: Israel never would have come into existence without the United States.

      Sorry I don't see that. The USA government was mostly overrun by Arabists. There was support among the population but even that wasn't too key. Truman was not hostile but he was not a strong supporter of Israel either. Get rid of American support and you still have a strong Jewish terrorist organization in Israel driving the British cost of the mandate through the roof. The Soviets are going to much more supportive. So Israel comes into being as a Soviet ally, and is simply hostile to the west during the early 1950s.

      It gets harder to read the what-if from there. As a Soviet ally the Soviet union might not push the anti-Zionist line and instead encourage of its historically troublesome Jewish population 40 years earlier. Which makes Israel even more culturally Eastern European, economically communist and religiously atheist / Jewish which makes it even easier for the Soviets to trust Israel and thus develop them militarily as the cornerstone for Soviet interests in the middle east.

      I don't see the disaster for Israel if the USA doesn't support. That scenario might make life a lot more complex for American Jews. In this alternate history Zionism might remain so thoroughly associated with Communism that American Judaism never becomes Zionist. Or alternatively the huge surge in anti-Semitism under the name of anti-Zionism happens in the USA and not as it did historically in the Soviet Union. But American culturally doesn't keep people in so perhaps it is American Jews that flee to Soviet Israel in this hypothetical.

      Regardless I don't see the USA as instrumental to Israel's existence. America becomes much more instrumental after 1967.

  • One-state 'fantasy is very dangerous' because it cannot tell us what the military looks like -- Manekin
    • @Phil

      I agree with you. Those sorts of attitudes are present in both populations. They are even worse in Israel since the Israelis have started severing contact. The southerners at least had a great deal of affection for individual blacks even if they had collective racism. The Israelis (especially the young) don't have social contacts.

      If the confederacy had won the civil war and the 1936-9 war hadn't happened (or the 1st intifada hadn't happened) then a comparison between the south and Israel isn't totally off base.

      The difference was the South was part of the USA so many blacks migrated north and the North was able and invested enough to force formal equality over and over again n the South. And that required backing off in the 1870s till the generation angry about the humiliation of the civil war and its aftermath died off. And then very ginger steps from the 1920s to the 1960s. And still... 140 years later there is still resistance and problems. Similarly the South was invested enough in the USA to not military rebel again. The 1870s was the last incident of strong anti-North terrorism though there were some limited applications of violent resistance since then.

      Who do you see invested enough to play that role in Israel. How does this analogy play out? I don't see how the comparison with the South helps you case.

    • @Phil

      In 1948 Whits believed that Blacks were Americans and Blacks believed that Blacks were Americans. Blacks and whites had extensive contact with one another. Blacks were fully integrated into the American economy, even if often in subordinate roles.

      That is not at all the case for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Druze it is the case. For many of the Israeli Arabs and Israelis towards the Israeli Arabs it is the case. But once you say look the Gazans, I can probably count on one hand the number of Israelis who consider them Israelis in any sense and those are mostly the older Israelis who remember the Gazans before the 1st intifada. The young more often simply hate them.

      The 1st intifada destroyed the common citizenship in Gaza and the 2nd intifada in the West Bank. That's not to say it is not fixable but it will take time and care. The south was a society addicted to black labor, Israel in 1937 and then again in the intifada made the choice they would walk away from Palestinians labor.

      On top of that, what you propose for Israel is worse than what the North proposed for the South at the end of the civil war. And after a decade of recuperating from their losses the the Southern regained their pride and nailed the "moderates" (scalawags) you are talking about to trees alive. They drove the carpetbaggers out and established Jim Crow.

      I get that you don't think that Israelis are a real people or Israel or a real country. But it is, and that country is inhabited by people that would rather die then live under Palestinian rule. What's going to be required is generation after generation of subjugation to get the Jews to cooperate with your schemes. And those Jews have a top 10 army including lots of nukes. So they aren't going to be subjugated. They may die in some war to conquer Israel but they won't be subjugated.

      I'd love to hear a fully mapped out plan for BDS leads to enough pressure on Israel for them to cooperate in their own nation destruction rather than just doing something else to undermine the pressure. I'd love to hear how given the total failure of western nation building in Iraq you expect to pull it off against a vastly more powerful national group.

      The British couldn't manage the Israeli Jews of the 1930s at reasonable cost. Would the Israelis of the 1930s last 5 minutes today's IDF?

  • No one's talking about peace in Israeli election, U.S. liberal Zionists are warned
    • @Phil

      Both men said that the new unified list of Arab-backed parties presents a challenge to the Israeli system. Gorenberg pointed out that when about 11 Knesset members from these parties are unavailable to participate in forming a governing coalition, that coalition has to come up with a supermajority of 61 out of 109 seats. And why aren’t Palestinian-backed parties in the ruling coalitions? That is the “elephant in the room,” Gorenberg said. Arab-backed parties have been included only once, in Yitzhak Rabin’s second term. (I have long compared the electoral situation in Israel to the U.S. in 1964, when the Mississippi Freedom Democrats, which included black people’s votes, demanded to be seated at the Democratic Party’s nominating convention.)

      FWIW it is generally true that the Arab parties are being excluded from coalition bargaining that's not the case for this term (i.e. the 2015 elections). The Unified Arab coalition is a coalition of Communists, Nationalist and Islamists. That sort of coalition doesn't exist anywhere else in the Arab world. No one is quite sure what to do, this is new ground. There are going to be ferocious complex negotiations in just figuring out how to respond to initiatives in the knesset as the opposition. The Arab parties this time around no that their unity couldn't survive being part of the government regardless of the makeup of the government. They don't want to be seated and have said so openly. So sorry but you can't blame the Jews' moral failing for not having the Arabs in coalition this Knesset.

      What I suspect (and this they haven't said) is Israeli Arabs are looking for is to be the negotiating partner to represent Palestinian interests in a post Fatah world, i.e. become the PLO version 4.0. Israeli Arabs have been under tremendous pressure as their have been multiple and conflicting "resistance" policies between the Israeli-Arabs, Gaza, West Bank and the Palestinians outside Israel being squeezed in an increasingly violent way between Al Qaeda factions especially ISIL and Iranian interests especially Assad's army. The Israeli Arabs are the Palestinian faction whom the Israelis get along with best. They have the most credibility with the public and possible could reboot negotiations. FWIW I think that would be a very good thing for both peoples.

  • Lawrence Summers says BDS movement is 'persecuting' Israel
    • @Phil

      a fair system after many decades of application, that societies should not legally privilege one ethnic group over another and seek to segregate and ethnically-cleanse the second-class group, that the Jewish Question should not be resolved by taking other people’s lands. Let’s have the debate without the name-calling.

      You mean name-calling like: ethnic bigot, segregationists, ethnic cleanser and best of all "other people's lands". That kind of name calling? You want to have the debate without name calling you have to stop name calling and just discuss the policies from an objective standard. The doctrine that Jews should be forever disenfranchised from national rights because a century ago they missed the starting gun is bogus. "Other people's lands" is the fundamental name calling in that it argues that Jews are permanently illegitimate forever the bastards of humanity.

  • Israel gets trashed at the 92d Street Y
    • @Phil

      There is nothing anti-Semitic with blaming Jews for stuff that Jews institutionally support. It is reasonable to blame Americans for the drone strikes in Pakistan, it is reasonable for Muslims to blame the French for their intervention in Mali; and it is reasonable to blame the Jews for the establishment and maintenance of the settlements. Not holding the Jews responsible for Jewish policy on the excuse that "well some Jews didn't agree" is denying them agency. For example as an American I'm responsible for the Iraqi occupation even though I didn't agree with the policy because the collective American agency (our government / military) acted in my collective interest.

      Israel does stuff Liberals don't like. But they can separate out Israel is imperfect from Israel should be destroyed. They same way I can disagree with America on some policy choices without believing that necessitates its destruction. Liberal Jews don't like Hassidics in New York either, which is different from wanted to see them driven from their homes by terrorism.

  • Update: On MLK Day, lots of folks are talking Palestine
    • @Phil

      There’s no question that if King were alive today, he would be in lines with [the BDS] movement

      I'll question it. King was always quite loath to associate with radical groups. For example King certainly allowed his mentor Bayard Rustin to be drummed out of the civil rights movement because of his past Communist Party affiliations and homosexuality. Or for example when Paul Robeson (an American superstar of the late 20s with strong Soviet affiliations) attended the prayer pilgrimage King wouldn't meat with him.

      The fact is that King cleared the decks of almost all the previous generation of civil rights leaders for the same reasons, even though the Communist party was pretty common among civil rights advocates of the 1930s and 40s it was simply an unacceptable affiliation. King was a man who took the civil rights movement and made it respectable to average Americans. He challenged Americans to do what they already believed was the right thing to do. He didn't try and overturn society and threaten them with a cause they didn't believe in. Equality for blacks was a cause he championed, ending Jim Crow was a cause he championed. Uniting the working class globally was a cause he opposed.

      If you want to use that analogy the BDS movement is far closer to what the civil rights movement looked like in the 1930s than what it looked like in the 1950s. The BDS movement goes out of its way to cause offense. Fundamentally it is trying to offend people (particularly Jews) and provoke a reaction which then creates attention to the cause. It also isn't really looking for mainstream acceptability. It tends towards demonization and imagines utopian goals. Remember King started with eliminating just one Jim Crow law, not demanding a total remaking of society. That's the opposite of what BDS does.

      I have to say I think if the 2010s MLK were Jewish he'd be a J-Streeter. He's much more Jeremy Ben-Ami than you. If he were Palestinian I think he'd be affiliated with something like IPCRI. He'd be aggressively trying to get Palestinians to support a Meretz government and working with the Israeli left on a fair and just peace. He'd oppose any attempts to force the Israelis into change externally since that would tend to produce resistance (i.e the entire philosophy behind non-violence). His peace movement would start with very minor actions that most Israelis could support like maybe ending housing segregation or going back to unrestricted movement. He would be advising Palestinians that at the current level of fear and tension there is no just solution to long term problems that Jews are going to accept. 130 years of violent conflict have created hatreds on both sides and the oppressor needs to be able to see past his fear for justice to emerge. For King the first step is to create a relationship of goodwill with the antagonist. Your movement rejects that.

      So no I don't think he'd be a BDSer. I don't think he'd be an Abbas supporter either however. I think he might very well agree with you on an eventual goal of a one-state solution with full equality and an end to Zionism but he would totally disagree with you on how to achieve it.

  • Daily Show references Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba'aneh in story on free speech hypocrisy
    • @JWaters

      2 days ago Phil did a review on a book Contested Land, Contested Memory: Israel’s Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe

      He didn't cover the parts of her book on the holocaust refugees but she does an excellent job on covering what they were facing. Their homes were gone. The economy of their home country in ruins. Their neighbors had been poisoned by years of Nazi propaganda. They were not successfully assimilating. If you want to demonize then I can't stop you. But if you want to deal with reality you need to get a grasp on what the reality was, and for many is.

  • Memo to Sen. Warren: More young Dems want US to side with Palestine than Israel
    • @Phil

      Young hispanics Democrats are ethnic minorities and Catholic. It is not surprising they dislike Israel. They are way to the right on Israel of where people are mostly in the countries their parents / grandparents / great-grandparents came from.

      The question is not in some abstract sense would they like to see the Zionist entity dissolved. The question is how much do they care? Tthe question as it is likely to be asked in 20+ years when that age group steps into power: "Do you want to pick a fight with Jewish American over Israel that might drive them into the Republican party and will likely cause them to support anti-Hispanic measures in exchange for flipping the Democratic party to a formal anti-Zionist position". That is going they need to answer meaningfully and their answer will be "hell no".

      The reason American Jews are liberal is because they are Jewish. Take away Jewish and they are just a predominantly upper middle class group of white voters i.e. Republicans. The Republican party would love a big fight over Israel in the Democratic party. The Hispanic leadership when they are in their 40s and working for broader coalitions on issues like education, housing, income equality... will know that as much as their elders do.

      You have never addressed the basic question in your vision. Jews today are vastly less liberal than they were 50 years ago and those vastly less liberal than those 100 years ago. What percentage of American Jews are today active in communist or anarchists movement, is it greater than 1%? 100 years ago was it lower than 30% anywhere?

      Jews are becoming less liberal more quickly than they are having qualms over Israel. Frankly I don't see the current qualms as being all that much different than the anti-israeli sentiment as Jews distanced themselves from the massacres in Lebanon 30 years ago, so I don't think they are functionally less Zionist at all. But even if I'm wrong and they are, that's happening very slowly much more slowly than they are losing their attachment to the Democratic party. No Jews are alive today who remember the strong Irish / Jewish alliance that brought the Jews into the Democratic party. The last time the Republican party was openly anti-semitic at all was when Jews in their 70s were becoming politically aware.

      How do you keep Jews in a Democratic party that has become anti-Zionist? Why doesn't the French or British experience of Jews shifting hard to the right in the face of BDS repeat here? Can you imagine Nancy Pelosi (who probably in her heart agrees with you far more than me on Israel) kissing off 10% of her donation base, 20% over any issue much less a foreign policy issue? Can you imagine Harry Reid kissing off 10% of his activists, 20% over any issue much less a foreign policy issue? Why do you think Hispanic party leaders when faced with the real consequences will make a different choice?

      Political parties are coalitions of people with diverse interests. Trample on each other's interests and they fragment.

  • Nationalism vs imagination -- Beinart and Vilkomerson square off over two-state solution
    • @Phil

      Glad to see this dialogue is happening though I'm to the right of everyone and think they are all kind of silly. The first imperative of life is survival.

      But I though I'd respond to your last paragraph

      Just one comment from me. I’m struck by Peter Beinart’s statement that his parents in South Africa understood the need for a Jewish state of refuge, so: they moved to the U.S. To a place where church and state are separated, and where Jews have more power than we have ever had in history, as Beinart has acknowledged. I wonder how that experience is integrated into Beinart’s politics. Alan Wolfe of Boston College has just published a book: At Home in Exile: Why Diaspora Is Good for the Jews

      The actual diaspora in terms of countries is a bit more troubled than that.

      Relative to the populations:
      Austria down from 4.68% to .11% mostly due to a mass slaughtering with broad public approval (Germany, Yugoslavia, Poland... similar)
      Territory of the Ottoman empire down from 1.62% to .02% due to slaughtering and later ethnic cleansing.
      Russia a collapse from 3.2% to .15% due to widespread anti-semitism
      Iran is following a similar policy having dropped their population from .4% to .01%

      The only place that the diaspora seems to even be possibly successful are the USA, France, Australia and the UK. With both the UK and France having seen sharp drops in the last generation as the muslim minority has encouraged anti-Semitism.

      So mostly there is 1 example of a place where diaspora has been good, the USA. Is it more reasonable to assume it is a statistical outlier or more reasonable to assume that actually the diaspora sucks for the Jews? The USA model where all religions quickly become flavors of Baptist, and thus a state religion is effectually maintained with broad consent, seems to be good for everyone. But so far the USA hasn't been able to export it, we'll see if they can as more and more of the world becomes Baptist.

      But in the meanwhile one only need look at what's happening to the Kurds, Gypsies, Palestinians, Tamiil, Sindh, Uyghur, Hmong, Igbo to see the suffering of the Jews is nothing unique. Alan Wolfe is wrong. As a nation without a state you either capture territory, merge with another nation or die. Jews of Europe and the Muslim world choose tried to merge and failed, and then in choosing not to die had one option.

      American Jews still have some diaspora sickness. I can't imagine Irish Americans even understanding a question like "is Ireland good for the Irish" even though the Irish are far more successful and populous in America than they are in Ireland. I can't imagine the Chinese Americans asking if China is good for the Chinese. Capturing territory means capturing territory. It means doing injustice. The first imperative of life is survival. The Israelis realize that. They don't apologize for survival.

      And that's where the rest of this dialogue is just off. The purpose of the state of Israel is to serve the interests of the nation of Israel. Which is not to say it needs to be immoral but morality is always a secondary objective.

  • NYT's opening to a 'fringe voice' excites rage from Israeli army, journalism, business leaders
    • @Phil

      Israelis are the only audience that matters because they have so much power over Palestinians human rights and freedom. And that’s the problem.

      I have to disagree with you there. Israelis are the only audience that matters in terms of the exact strategy and tactics in the short term. In the longer term the Palestinians matter far more. They are the ones who have to finally decide upon which unpalatable for them alternatives they want to accept. They are the audience that has to reconcile themselves to the reality that they are not Syria, they not Egypt and they are not Algeria. There won't be an end to the continued existence of a self governing Jewish population. They are the ones who have to decide how or even if they want to live in a Jewish country.

      That's not a choice the Israelis get to make (excluding totalitarian solutions to reengineer Palestinians culture). Hamas still believes they can win the whole pie violently. Hamas has majority support in Gaza. What solution are you willing to live with, at least for a the next few decades, that the Israelis consider acceptable?

      Zonszein isn't being silenced. Rather she's being treated the same way an American politician would be treated who took the early 20th century position that a ban on alcohol would remake society with temperance, hard work and faithfulness becoming ubiquitous once the law was changed so that the scourge of alcohol was eliminated. Gur is absolutely correct. Israel has elections. The elections establish a clear pattern that the left's land for peace formula has been discredited by Hezbollah and Hamas.

      The right's policy of containment not settlement is mostly working. If the Palestinians want to change Israeli behavior they need to change the payoff matrix by putting better options on the table. Israelis are going to do what is in the best interests of Israel the same as all rational people do.

  • When Rouhani says blaming ISIS on Islam is Islamophobic, is anyone listening?
    • Both President Bush and President Obama have repeatedly and forcefully distanced Islam from Al Qaeda and ISIS. Bush most passionately, most frequently and to a constancy where that position probably lost him support. The press covered it.

      That being said, Phil I agree with you. Israel is the state that collectively represents the Jewish people. The Jewish people in Israel elect that government and the Jewish people in America and in most other countries support it. It is reasonable to hold Jews responsible for the actions of Israel, in the same way you can hold the French people responsible for the actions of France.

      As far as ISIS I don't think its fair to say it represents muslims. I do think it is fair to say it represents at least strong undercurrents of the Sunnis of Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq. ISIS is clearly drawing broadly from those communities and is able to function in them with broad community support. ISIS doesn't hold elections but i think it is fair to say that if the Sunnis had a choice to vote between an ISIS government or the Iraqi Shia government they would pick ISIS. I think it is fair to say that the Sunnis of Eastern Syria have picked ISIS over the Alawite government of Assad. Those people might choose a different form of government if/when they are no longer under occupation (i.e. they have a government which represents their interests) but I think it is fair to hold them responsible for ISIS.

      I have always objected to the idea that people aren't responsible for the collective acts of the societies to which they belong. This idea that government have no tie to their population's political will is simply UN fantasy.

  • Salaita firing turns into a 'catastrophe' for University of Illinois
    • @Phil --

      I don't know if you've ever been involved in lawsuits but no, Steve Salaita isn't close to having the upper hand. I don't think he has a winnable case. In the end we have undisputed fact he has issued a letter of intent that indicated a dean would pass a recommendation to hire to the board, that recommendation was passed to the board and the board agreed with the chancellor not with the dean and didn't hire. Contracts fall through all the time. Academics can wave their hands about academic freedom, and tradition and whether the American Indian studies group did or didn't do their due diligence... but lawyers are going to see this as a contract that was in late stage negotiations and fell through. He annoyed the owner and didn't the job, happens all the time. Allowing employees to bind institutions who specifically are not given the power to bind those institutions would destroy contract law. Please let Salaita win, I have no problem bribing a janitor at every one of the fortune 100 to sign a contract with me binding their institution to millions of dollars in billable work each.

      But even if he had a good case. He doesn't have the money to make it all the way to trial. There isn't going to be some great Perry Mason moment where Chancellor Wise breaks down on the witness stand agrees that she should have hired Salaita if only... The lawyers for the University if they are worried at all are just going to burn up all his money in pre trial depositions. Salaita's lawyer is going to fly out do a 1/2 dozen depositions in 2 1/2 days 3-4x at $200-500 / hr. How long do you think he can take that?

      The guy is tenured. You don't think they can find 20 x-students from all the classes he's taught he felt he engaged in incitement in the classroom? The there is the board members. The members of the Indian studies program. Let's say 60-100 depositions $500-3k each. Then they have pre-trial motions game. Salaita's lawyers have to prepare for these witnesses. there are Salaita's own witnesses. How long do you think he can keep this up?

      And even if he did win, how much do you think he gets in damages? Ward Churchill was able to prove (who had a full on tenure contract) was able to prove irregularities in his dismissal the jury agreed with him, and awarded him $1. The judge didn't require reinstatement.

      But let's assume he gets rehired and Wise just ices him for 3 years. And then doesn't renew. A court isn't going to award him lifetime employment.

      He has a bad case, and he is playing at a table where the stakes are too high for his bankroll. Maybe all this noise gets him a somewhat better settlement. But he is miles away from having the upper hand.

  • Richard Cohen says he married Israel and has been faithful during ups and downs
    • I've said this before. The Holocaust was Judaism's crucifixion, Israel was it's resurrection. Phil likes to talk about how younger Jews could not relate to the Holocaust. Certainly I remember the shame as a child watching those holocaust movies. Jews of my parent's generation were still victims though though much less than other generations. Most of the walls had come down. My generation was trying to come to terms with redemption, we once had been slaves but now our free. Israel and America having played a large part.

      The younger generation perhaps cannot relate to the history of Jewish weakness. Zionism is no longer the dream of redemption but the reality of redemption. Jewish ICBMs mean that Jews no longer need fear Zyklon B. It is time to for Judaism to celebrate a our birth rather than mourn our slow death and the new literature reflects that. The messiah has come in the person of Ben-Gurion.

      To quote the verses that come before the verses in Jeremiah Christians are fond of:

      31: 23 The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says,
      “I will restore the people of Judah to their land and to their towns
      When I do, they will again say of Jerusalem,
      ‘May the Lord bless you, you holy mountain,
      the place where righteousness dwells.’
      24 The land of Judah will be inhabited by people who live in its towns
      as well as by farmers and shepherds with their flocks.
      25 I will fully satisfy the needs of those who are weary
      and fully refresh the souls of those who are faint.
      26 Then they will say, ‘Under these conditions I can enjoy sweet sleep
      when I wake up and look around.’”

      That's something to celebrate. Not everything has to be so depressing.

  • Chancellor Wise, why not accept the scholarly inquiry of your colleagues over the politicized judgment of Salaita's critics?
    • @Annie

      Sorry I'm not buying that Salaita is asserting that believing Jews have the right to a nation-state in historic Palestine that is majority Jewish causes one to become an ineffective lover or that abandoning such a belief would cause one's sex life to improve. It is simply beyond the scope or reasonable interpretation. There is no connection between sex and Zionism. I'm hard pressed to think of any other political fight where people talk about the other party being bad lovers.

      Phil's question to me is why I thought it was about Jews. I gave you a pretty clear reason why I don't think this sort of thing works. You aren't buying it because of some vague association between demographic concerns and sex. Ultimately my answer is the same I usually give in terms of evidence. The passion / the nastiness and the use of anti-Jewish stereotypes. Like I said before if someone accused Zionist of being shiftless and too lazy to do anything but eat fried chicken and watermelon, then it would be still inappropriate but it wouldn't be anti-Semitic. If he was accusing Zionists of being uneducated dressing in loud obnoxious colors and broke all the time that wouldn't be anti-Semitic. But if the insults regarding Zionism "just happen" to be anti-Jewish stereotypes then damn right I'm going to assume that was the intent. Which is the same thing you assume when Republicans go after "the poor" using anti-Black stereotypes.

      But even if you were right that what he meant that people who held those beliefs were bad at sex its hard to see how that isn't a rather offensive statement and thus still deserving of some discipline. How is that different than "you shouldn't sleep with asians they selfish and have small penises" or "black guys treat white women like crap in relationship" or "Jewish women don't put out after you marry them" or any other such sexual drivel? Those kinds of comments would still not be acceptable from a professor.

      Anyway in terms of the rest regarding a lynch mob and rationalizations.... You do realize you are going far further than I am. I'm taking Salaita's words and examining them. You saying you should ignore the Board of Trusties words entirely since you know what they are really thinking.

      This case started with claims that Salaita was fired, which he wasn't. Now it turns out that the people who dismissed him say it wasn't merely about being offensive but rather promoting malice. Sorry but given that the board are the people in the best place to state why the board didn't approve the contract I'm going to take them at their word.

  • Salaita's hire set off fundraising alarm at U of Illinois, per emails to chancellor
    • @Phil

      I gave two examples in the post. The most obvious from the post is the sexual comment: “All of Israel’s hand-wringing about demography leads one to only one reasonable conclusion: Zionists are ineffective lovers” Now this could make sense if he was using the word "Zionist" in typical arab fashion to mean Israeli. It doesn't make sense about a political viewpoint. People generally don't talk about the sex lives of political groups. Are Republicans ineffectual lovers, or Democrats ineffectual lovers? What about Green Party members? That's not meant as a political.

      Now you could say he is using "Zionist" to mean "Israeli" that doesn't work because he clearly points it at non Israelis:
      "Zionist uplift in America: every little Jewish boy and girl can grow up to be the leader of a murderous colonial regime" (July 14). So note he's using Zionist to refer to American Jews here.

      Let's cut to the chase: If you're defending #Israel right now you're an awful human being. Clearly aimed at non-Israeli Jews. Israeli Jews aren't "defending Israel" they are institutionally part of the oppression (in his view). They are doing it, not defending it.

      So that doesn't work. You seem the same slippage interestingly about Israel itself.

      Note how the Israeli soul was pure and uncorrupted until it encountered Palestinians. Same old colonial discourse, different geography. When was it that Israel didn't encounter Palestinians? That reference can only be about Jews since Israel nor the Zionist project doesn't predate the Palestinians.

      There is no way to consistently apply his definition of Zionist without using it as a proxy for "Jew". Who else could be the referent? Who are these "Zionists" who suck at sex, are immoral, some live in America and others bomb Gaza?

      Do I think he's actually an anti-Semite when he's calm. No. I think he was emotionally agitated and said anti-Semitic stuff though while lashing out. Watch the Chris Rock video.

    • Phil

      Great job on the new website. Looks terrific.

      He doesn’t like Israel, he’s very clear about that. But he didn’t say a word against Jews.

      That depends if you consider "Zionist" to be a derogatory term for "Jew" or not. Certainly among Soviets and anti-colonial movement it is used that way. Trying to distinguish between Zionist and Jew the way he was using it rather difficult. Quite a few of his comments like the jokes about sexual inadequacy wouldn't make sense if you substituted say "Labor party voters" but would work fine if you substituted "gooks" or "niggers".

      Trying to pretend that a non-Jewish anti-Israeli activists can make common anti-Semetic comments and have them pass unnoticed because he uses the word "zionist" in place of Jew is nonsense. If I were to say something like "the Alabama underclass are shiftless and lazy. They need to stop eating fried chicken and get a job with health insurance," the use of "shiftless and lazy" and "fried chicken" makes it pretty clear who I mean.

      There is nothing in Zionism, that implies sexual inadequacy but there is plenty in anti-Semtisim thad does. The BDS movement is going to have to stay way clear of anti-Semtitic themes or get accused of racism. The same way the tea partier get accused of Islamophobia when they talk about Sharia law.

      A good analogy here is Chris Rock's well known "black people vs. niggaz"

      Obama made reference to this routine during his 2008 primary. Hillary could not have done so. When references to it were made by white people Chris Rock thought they were racist. There are just different lines of what is or is not acceptable in group vs. out of group.


      This seems to me another demonstration that we cannot come to terms with the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel till we deal with the role of Zionist funding in our political and public life. This is the factional problem identified by Madison in the Federalist Papers; there is no national interest here. And we are going to be able to have that discussion now, because it is increasingly a generational rather than a religious issue.

      1) You are going to have to prove it is a generational issue. And that's going to be impossible until younger Jews are in charge of Jewish organizations in a generation or so.

      2) Even if it were a generation issue, so what? Everyone who works for a major university has to put up with nonsense from the sports teams because they attract so much donor interest. Most universities have to put up with spending too much on landscaping and architecture because that's a donor interest. Jews in the 1950s and earlier were certainly hurt and arguably may still be hurt by the whole "alumni family" weighing on admissions. Certainly professors who are able to bring in donors get advancement and privileges that professors who don't bring in donor money don't get. Donors have interests. You write the check you get to call the shots. You vote with your dollars.

      What's to discuss? That Jewish people donate to universities and don't want to see universities become a hotbed of anti-Jewish incitement? No one disagrees with that. The evidence is too clear.

  • Hillary Clinton just lost the White House in Gaza -- same way she lost it in Iraq the last time
    • Phil --

      I'll be happy to take that bet. I think you are making the mistake of double counting. No question non-white, young and liberal correlate strongly with being more anti-Israel / pro-Palestinian. No question being non-white, young and liberal correlate with being a democrat. But... You don't get to count the same effect twice. Once you've selected for democrats you don't get to select again on demography.

      On Israel among Liberals (i.e excluding moderate and conservative Democrats):

      44% believe Israel went to far
      33% believe Israel was about right
      7% believe Israel didn't go far enough

      That's basically an even split. Who was responsible for the violence (among Liberals)
      30% Hamas
      30% Israel
      17% Both

      And in terms of caring about the issue:
      just 32% of Liberals were even following the news regarding Israel / Palestine

      Which is the kinds of numbers you see among Europeans. Those aren't the kinds of numbers you see on people willing to make this their #1 issue and break definitely in one direction like hostility toward the Iraq war in 2008.

      As far as the young and people of color. Absolutely they are a problem on Israel / Palestine... but they are also vastly less likely to vote in primaries. Before believing that a presidential primary is going to be influenced by this issue I'd like to see at least a few congressional primaries that are influenced.

      Let's end with a simple question. It costs between $50m-100m to fund a presidential primary in 2012, I'd assume more if anything in 2016. What anti-zionist Democratic candidate would raise 1/5 that amount?

  • 'Lesson: The Jews will defend themselves even if it means killing children'
    • @Danaa

      Phil, lost in the verbiage of Lozowick is a barely concealed contempt for the Jews of the world. Not sure others caught just how very dismissive his tone is towards Jewish people in general, including those who may be zionists but do not live in Israel.

      That's standard Israeli Zionist discourse and has been for over a century.

      The article doesn't mention it but Zionism has held to 3 central ideas:

      1) Exile serves no purpose and fulfills no mission (i.e. rejection of the rabbinic interpretation of the exile)

      2) Exile causes suffering and distorts the soul.

      3) Exile is non-feasable in a world of nation states.

      During the pre WWII years American Jewish Zionists used to argue (and this is still the majority view in practice for American Jews) that the negation of the diaspora had happened in America, because America is a homeland for the Jews who live there. Thus Israel was an appropriate homeland for the Jews of Eastern Europe who were still in exile but that the spiritual sickness of exile weren't applicable to American Jews who had found a home. In the current world where most of the non-American diaspora no longer exists the debate is more nuanced. Both sides have softened their positions over the decades. Israelis no longer hold the utopian socialist ideals that made the unabridged form possible and most American Jews will agree that they are not fully at home as Jews in America.

      On point the angst that liberal Jews feel towards Israeli state violence which they can neither fully embrace nor fully break from is precisely the sort of existential angst that Zionists writers of earlier generations critiqued in diaspora Jews. Anyway (and I'm assuming you are Christian since you found this surprising) there is still a point of debate between Israeli and American Jews and we are used to hearing this sort of stuff. IMHO (and I say this as an American who is not moving) he has a very good point in his critique.

  • Rob Reiner wants to pick Palestinians' leaders for them
    • @Phil --

      I'm all for the right of self determination including the right of the Palestinians to elect Hamas to represent their interests. Rob Reiner is dead wrong on this.

      The problem with David Norris in the speech you quote is he is doing precisely what he is accusing the Israelis of. He is proposing that the Israeli ambassador (I'd assume Boaz Modai though he never directly names him) not be able to negotiate with Ireland on behalf of Israel because Modai is faithfully representing the positions of a government Norris disagrees with. Either you believe in self determination or you don't. If you do, then Modai's job is to represent the Netanyahu government in Ireland, period. If you don't then you throw the ambassador out because he is an "apologist for war criminals". Norris doesn't. He is a hypocrite.

  • The deafening silence around the Hamas proposal for a 10-year truce
    • @Shingo

      Not true. What they are being told to report as opposed to what they believe are two entirely different things. As we recently witnessed over the MSNBC fiasco, the narrative of the conflict is being tightly controlled by management.

      Max Blumenthal reports that he spoke to an NBC producer who, he said, described, quote, “a top-down intimidation campaign aimed at presenting an Israeli-centric view of the attack on the Gaza Strip,” .

      In his piece for AlterNet, Blumenthal wrote, quote, “The NBC producer told me that MSNBC President Phil Griffin and NBC executives are micromanaging coverage of the crisis, closely monitoring contributors’ social media accounts and engaging in a [quote] ‘witch hunt’ against anyone who strays from the official line,”

      That's nice. There are hundreds of NBC producers who are after all journalists and if one includes syndicated shows more. I'm friends with several and they haven't heard anything about this directive. Assuming that Blumenthal isn't just just fabricating the whole thing one is telling this story. That one is probably a BDSer with an active imagination.

      Meanwhile Chris Hayes is a guy with a long history of being critical of Israel who has the 8:00 pm slot and was able to discuss the issue several times. He told Rula Jebreal she was being disciplined by the staff because she had something factually false about Andrea Mitchell during her rant. In other words being protective of their own. That's both far more believable, a person of higher rank and on the record. So I don't believe Max at all.

      Palestinians conversely are going to have to answer basic questions to establish they have a legitimate point of view at all. Maybe inside the US, but not the rest of the world.

      We have polling. The public in Europe which gets rather anti-Israeli news is essentially split.
      There is no stomach with those numbers there either for any sort of serious sanctions. The reason Europe doesn't sanction Israel is not because of the US veto (which they don't need to impose sanctions) but because they don't want to.
      For example the UN didn't authorize the European sanctions against the US prison system that are playing havoc with our capital punishment system, they just did it on their own because on that issue they do care deeply.

      Certainly not at the UN, where Israel is completely isolated.

      Quite true. The UN is an enemy of Israel's.

  • Boycott on the horizon if Starbucks buys stake in SodaStream
    • @Kalthleen

      Chris Hayes has touched lightly on the issue when he was the host of UP…actually huge for MSNBC.

      That was a good episode I agree.

      . Interesting that you tried to escape the Sterling scandal and went to Chris Hayes program. He spent three quarters of his show on this issue.

      I Tivo Chris, Alex, Rachel and Lawrence. Normally I only watch Rachel unless I'm really interested in the topic. I did the non-NBA parts of Chris and Rachel.

      As far as the mainstream media and dumb issues I'm really proud of MSNBC. They are getting mauled by CNN with the Malaysian plane stupidity and they've held their ground in not pandering. Taking the high road when it costs earns mucho points in my book.

      I guess there was a theme racism in the NBA and Israeli racism although Chris Hayes does not have the balls to call out that racism like he is the Sterling racism issue.

      Jon Stewart made the racism theme explicit with the Cliven Bundy & Sterling comparison. Anyway Chris would be off the air if he didn't approach Israel delicately. His viewership is way down form Keith O and I think on good months is up to Ed Schultz's numbers. If he were he to then compound that and offend viewers... Being here you get immune to how out of mainstream BDS type speech is about Israel. Think about it this way. MSNBC got rid of Pat Buchanan (a mistake IMHO) for less than that with regard to Black, Jews and gays. Buchanan's big anti-Jewish comment was just pointing out heavily Jewish women were involved in the pro-choice movement and drawing the obvious inference (one that's factually wrong but...).

      You aren't going to get the MSM attacking Israel that directly unless Liberal Jews becoming willing to do it (or at least not completely offended by it). Phil Weiss is right about that 100% IMHO. Just like Sterling couldn't bash blacks and then go back to running a team, Hayes couldn't bash Jews and then go back to being the 8:00 PM host on what amounts to the DNC's official news outlet.

  • 'There's a lot of anti-Semitism out there' -- Johansson reviews her role as 'new face of apartheid'
    • @Brenda

      Here in America, as I am sure you are aware, there is about a 50/50 standoff between conservatives and liberals.

      No I'm not aware. I see a 40-40-20 conservative-moderate-liberal breakdown with the liberals gaining about .2% / yr right now. Now there is something like a 50/50 standoff between Democrats and Republicans but that doesn't map cleanly onto conservatives / liberals.

      the right wing Israeli government is intruding into our governmental processes in ways that are intolerable to left leaning progressive liberals.

      Brenda, that's fiction. It isn't happening. There is no intrusion into our politics by Israel.

      Some of the Israeli population, likely not from the right wing, support a goods & services boycott of West Bank products. The Knesset recently passed a law making political organization for boycott illegal, but some Israelis continue to boycott privately. Would you say these Israelis are anti-semitic? Or would you say they were progressive liberals?

      First off BDS doesn't support a settlement boycott they support an Israeli boycott. The settlement boycott is a much more mainstream position. So its kinda irrelevant to the discussion of BDS. I don't think supporting a boycott is anti-Semetic I don't even think all BDSers are anti-Semetic. For example I don't think Ali Abunimah is an anti-Semite in anyway. I don't think Phil is an anti-Semite. I do think that most gentile BDSers are but often don't realize it.

      Most anti-black racists today in the USA don't think they are racist and don't realize how much racism has intruded into their thinking. When they talk about "traditional values" they have a hard time understanding that American traditional values are racist and thus if you don't deliberately purge yourself of racism just supporting traditions ends up supporting racial disparities in the United States. They are genuinely offended by being called racist even when they are making clearly racist comments. Your typical racist is embarrassed when the Republican party engages in openly racist behavior like distributing copies of the song, "Barack the Magic Negro" or a picture of Michelle Obama with a bone thru her nose.

      You and I have had two dialogues. In one you talked about paid Israeli agents on blogs. In this one you've talked about Israel subverting Liberals. There is no secret Jewish (or Israeli) cabal. The people in the Israeli lobby are Americans. The rightwing groups are mostly run by Republicans, the leftwing groups are mostly run by Democrats. Nothing different than what you would see on the groups that push for closer ties to China or Europe.

  • Oren says Pollard 'sacrificed himself for the Jewish people'
    • @Phil

      The next time someone says there should be no daylight between the US and Israel, reflect that Israel’s former ambassador regarded an American traitor as a hero.

      Pollard is a traitor to America and a hero to Israel. Same as when Kanatjan Alibekov defected to the United States and gave us the details of the USSR's bioweapons program he was a traitor to the USSR and a hero to Americans. Or when Stanislav Levchenko defected he told the Japanese all about the KGB's network in Japan making him a hero to them and a traitor to the USSR.

      Oren also said that Israel prefers al Qaeda in Syria to Assad with his Iran allegiance.

      So do lots of Americans. Including many BDSers. Michael Neumann (Canadian admittedly ) has been a prominent BDSer for a long time and one of his primary focuses lately has been supporting the FSA. Heck at the end of the day I think Assad is probably better for the USA, but it wouldn't shock me if I were wrong and the FSA turned out much . I'm certainly no traitor its a tough call. There are people in the CIA who agree the FSA is better.

      For Israel though I can see even more advantages for the FSA. On the downside Al Qaeda are truly excellent terrorists, very good at their job. On the upside though the fact that they are excellent terrorists scares the bejesus out of Europe and America. Petty issues like the Palestinians might get pushed to the side if Europe and America need Israel on the frontline against FSA Syria. Problems with Turkey could disappear
      instantly. Iran having watched their Basij volunteers their Hezbollah allies their Syrian allies... being brutally slaughtered by Al Qaeda might not have as many objections to the Zionist Entity under the old "enemy of my enemy". Conversely if Iran didn't become more accommodating Israel's access to MEK and kurdish areas in Iran becomes much more valuable if they can sponsor Al Qaeda. etc...

      Why would it be shocking that Oren says the obvious?


      As for USA Jews. USA Jews understand that Israel is a foreign country not part of America. Israel is a USA vassal so it sublimates its interests in exchange for USA assistance. The pressure on USA Jews only exists if relations between Israel and America deteriorate and the distance in their respective active interests increase. The whole point of BDS is to increase the distance in interests. So I don't see how you aren't making the problem you are complaining about worse in advocating for the USA to become hostile to Israel over the Palestinian issue.

  • Both Sides: Anti-BDS concerns on campus vs. life in the occupied territories
    • @Shingo

      I'm going to try engaging. Generally I just skip you but this is a new topic.

      So what? Are you suggesting facts and history should be tailored to suit the demographic of the student body?

      Absolutely not. I'm suggesting side activities like political activism should be tailored to suit the demographic of the student body. So for example when I taught at UMinn there was lots of broom-ball, at UCLA none at all. That was entirely about demographics, they know how to build ice rinks in LA too.

      JeffB: The ability to attract students especially tuition paying student, to attract donors and to maintain public support is core to their function.

      Shingo: No it’s not part of the function, it’s at best a compromise. It’s no more part of the function of an academic institution than it is for elite athletes to take steroids in order to be competitive.

      For any product selling the product is core.

      Jeffb: Whatever happens in Israel / Palestine will have essentially 0 impact on UMich.

      Shingo: I don’t know how old UMich is but a great deal has happened in Israel / Palestine and it clearly has not had any impact on UMich.

      That's what I said. You aren't disagreeing.

      There is no ethnic tension, there is political tension

      Feelings and acts of prejudice or hostility towards an ethnic group in various degrees. That's ethnic tension and that's what's happening. Many ethnic tensions are based in underlying politics, probably most are. But that doesn't change their nature.

      What you are suggesting is that the sensitivities of Israeli supporters come before facts and reason. You’re also arguing that the views of Jews is more important than those of non Jews. That’s racial supremacy.

      No I'm not. I'm arguing for polite civilized presentation. There is nothing about the facts and reason that require rudeness. The rudeness, not the facts, is what creates the problem.

      As for the view of Jews being more important than non-Jews and racial supremacy: Jews aren't a race.

      I think for the University the opinions of tuition paying students are more important than those on aid. I think the opinions of large donors are more important than either.

      Charles Munger for example donated $130m to UMich and wanted better graduate school housing. He's getting it.

      In the same way UMich #1 donor is Stephen Ross for whom the Ross school of business is named. Ross is Jewish, a major Romney donor, has worked directly with the government of Israel on several projects and the nephew of Max Fischer. Stephen himself has no history of strong Zionist involvement but given those views what do you think are his likely opinions about BDS if he were to find out about it?

      Ross donates in clumps but if you were to break it out it would be something like $1000 to ever aide student per year at the University. Mary Sue Coleman's job is to keep the Ross's of the world happy not to win independence for Palestine.

      #3 donor is A. Alfred Taubman of the Taubman Health Sciences Library and the Taubman College of Architecture is also Jewish. His wife is an Israeli beauty queen and he is close friends with Donald Trump and Henry Kissinger. Wanna guess where he stands on BDS?

      This really isn't about what I want or don't want. This isn't about me. There will not be a situation at UMich where Jewish kids are genuinely unhappy. It won't happen because the administration has interests in keeping them happy which are much greater than their interest in how the I/P dispute resolves.

      This is where Phil is absolutely right. BDS cannot become the liberal consensus without Jewish support.

  • 'Contractually obligated' to say the peace process is alive, Aslan told Americans to get ready for one state
    • @Phil

      I don't consider the 2 nations proposal he suggested unreasonable. It is not a preferred solution but if the Palestinians agreed to a sane version of that prime minister / president split that Reza Aslan proposed then if I were on the negotiating table I'd go for it. I'm glad he is willing to talk openly about how 500k (I think it is more like 600k) people is simply not going to be reversed.

      He seems like a reasonable guy. I know he's Iranian American and not Palestinian but I wish he were representing them.

  • Iymen Chehade fights Chicago school's cancellation of his class
    • @Phil --

      First off he's a Lecturer of Middle Eastern history not a professor. That's not a small issue given the academic freedom complaint in the article (so you should probably edit the article on this one). It changes things he's staff not faculty (i.e. he's an adjunct). In almost all USA schools that means he isn't entitled to any more academic freedom than the cafeteria workers or the parking lot attendants. And of course compounding that the course offerings are not academically protected even for faculty, what's protected is their other writings.

      That being said the University itself isn't playing the "he's an adjunct card. At the same time they are disputing the fact this is about his views":
      Columbia College Chicago would like to publicly acknowledge its support of instructor Iymen Chehade in his use of the widely acclaimed documentary 5 Broken Cameras to educate students in his Israeli-Palestinian conflict course. Reductions in the numbers of sections or courses offered at Columbia reflect a multitude of factors, such as overall student enrollment, targets for average class size, and rotation of curriculum. Reductions are not made to alter a specific academic field of study or political perspective. And any course on campus may be offered at a reduced frequency from past semesters. The college reaffirms the right of all faculty members and students to exercise academic freedom in a manner that Mr. Chehade has enjoyed since he became a member of HHSS.

      Reading his comments I'm of two minds regarding bias. On the one hand he is Palestinians, he's the faculty advisor for Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace. Which makes him IMHO a political activists teaching a class not an academic. I don't have problems with classes being taught by political activists, college students are old enough to learn things from people with real world experience but ... they need to be advertised that way. If he was teaching sections then students didn't sign up for one sided presentation. He has an ethical obligation to teach both sides. He seems to have trouble understanding that there are two sides: "because the conflict is not balanced: One side has more power than the other and has continually dispossessed them" is frankly a completely unacceptable excuse for not doing his job. There are plenty of political philosophies in which power is good, and the job of government is to control territory and dispossess enemies. A history professor should be aware of philosophies other than the ones he subscribes to. The idea that he is so limited to believe that no political philosophy can exist outside of anti-colonialist new left perspective seems rather disqualifying. He should take that to the professor running this course. That being said I'm not seeing any bias outside liberal norms. He doesn't appear to have done much that most faculty in colleges or high schools do. Most classes in a USA college are going to assume liberal USA values. So basically he's doing a sucky job but he's doing it in a way consistent with

      His ratings are excellent at rate-my-professor both for his looks and his lectures:

      Ultimately I think he probably is making students more uncomfortable than he's realizing. The fact that he took this to the media as an adjunct means he's not as open to criticism as he indicates in this article. Not that most faculty are willing to change based on what students say. Anyway, I think he was kinda unwise to have not assigned something Likud so that he could point to balance. That would probably have helped.

  • Democrats have no problem with Israeli envoy addressing GOP group opposed to Obama
    • @Phil

      I think the way to look at this is that Israel is close enough to the establishment that they don't have to follow tight diplomatic etiquette. They get to go backstage and chat with politicians in informal ways. They have direct relationships with congressmen. That isn't however totally atypical. For example with the UK Labor had a stronger relationship with the Democratic party while the Conservatives have a stronger relationship with the Republicans. That doesn't mean that either American party wants a bad relationship with the UK. It just means the UK ambassador has a close enough relationship that US officials feel comfortable "talking out of school". The UK ambassador gets to be part of USA internal discussions. The Chinese for example have much stronger relations with Republicans than with Democrats.

      Similarly with Israel. If John Boehner and Ed Royce want to get a handle on Syria they might ask State, Pentagon, CIA... if they want an outside perspective they might ask the Israelis. Which from the plus side means the Israelis now understand the distinctions between House Foreign Affairs Committee's thinking, the State Department's thinking ....

      The Israelis are unusual in that Israeli parties have US domestic groups that are almost extensions of them. Partners4Israel is Meretz. American Friends of Likud (and arguably AIPAC) is Likud... Agudath Israel of America is UTJ etc.... So if you want something unusual that's what's unusual.

      If you want an even stronger example there were Orange and Green organizations among the Irish in America where the Greens oppressed the Orange and the Orange migrated often to Canada (another example of ethnic cleansing that no one has any intention of reversing). I think you are in New York, you can still see some remnants of the Orange lodges that survived in New York City though those that did mostly kept their head down.

      In terms of other example of foreign lobbies and diplomatic lobbies that have partisan affiliations. Haiti is a good recent example where we had a situation where support for the Aristide government was almost completely the Democrats while the Republicans (including Bush) were backing regime change. We almost had a similar situation in Honduras where Jim Demint and several Republicans were backing the coup while Obama was backing the replaced government.

      I'd suspect that as the population of Israel and America start to flow more freely with Orthodox Jews moving there and seculars possibly finding Europe too hostile to Israelis that this sort of close affiliation is going to increase. With people comfortably taking jobs in the diplomatic corps of both countries. The way for example people move from federal offices to state offices and back. And plenty of examples of that as well. This could if the relationship continues to develop go even further. Everyone considered the government of The Territory of Utah to be American even though it clearly wasn't legally part of the United States and there were barriers (primarily polygamy and a state church) which made union problematic. I could imagine a situation where Israel is essentially viewed as a state with some policies (legalized religious discrimination and a state church) that make union problematic so better to keep it technically separate.

  • Some liberal Zionists will blame Netanyahu for failure of talks
    • @Phil

      So the real possibility exists that unlike the failure of the Camp David talks in 2000, when the Palestinians were blamed, this time many American liberal Zionists will blame Israel for the failure of the peace process. This could have domestic political consequences: the Israel lobby will crack even more widely open, and more and more Jews will find themselves in solidarity with Palestinians, and the mainstream media will have to reflect that paradigm shift.

      That's possible. You could have a situation very much like the 1990s where Republican Jews backed Likud, mostly rejecting the 2SS hoping for Rabin & Peres' negotiations to fail while Democratic Jews were in favor of the 2SS and loved having Rabin / Peres, Clinton and the majority of American Jews in harmony. Since Jews are overwhelming Democrats and the current Israeli government is on the right you could have something like you did under Yitzhak Shamir. The analogy collapses though because Congress is way way more Zionist than it was in the late 80's- early 90s. so the president still isn't holding many cards.

      But having the vast majority of Jews way out of step with the Israeli government would be good for you group in terms of growing BDS. In theory. In practice I still think BDS's tone is much much too harsh. We'll have to see. But no question Liberal Jews getting ready to blame Israel is a huge win for you. Congrads.

  • Ululating at Vassar: the Israel/Palestine conflict comes to America
    • @Phil

      You are characterizing Israel as an American Jewish interest in the way that certain American racial/religious/economic tensions played out. But it’s not.

      Are you saying that you believe it is objective not or that American Jews don't view it as an American Jewish interest? If you are saying that it is not objectively I don't really have a quick counter argument that gets into a very deep conversation about the nature of Jewish interests. America legally and culturally has little in the way of group rights so there is almost nothing that is objectively an interest for most groups. It is all a question of identification.

      But if you are saying that American Jews don't view it that way I'd point to both Pew and the 2012 election among other things as quick counter evidence. In terms of college students I can't imagine a world in which Israel is being demonized using the kinds of language and symbolism that is common in the anti-Zionist movement and they don't feel threatened. Attacks on Israelis are for many American Jews literally attacks on their cousins. American Jews have a comfortable life where Israeli / Jewish interests and American interests are mostly in line, they share common enemies. Attempts to convert the USA into an enemy of Israel would perforce at the very least expose Jewish students to the kinds of pressures that Arabs felt after 9/11, and often still do.

      This is a big topic. In general I have a hard time imagining what a world where BDS is successful really looks like because I think far too many other things would have to change. As you know I think the apartheid analogy is terrible because in the case of Israel the sheer number of structural barriers are so much higher. Israel is far more likely to end up playing out like America siding against Germany and the pressure German Americans were under. How do American Jews respond as USA large banks reorient themselves so that their Jewish employees aren't in positions to help Israel circumvent sanctions through triangle trades, and why wouldn't they see that reorientation as a threat to their interests? How do American Jews respond as the USA State department reorients itself away from it's Jewish employees, why wouldn't they see that as a threat on their interests? etc..

      It some ways it is obviously chicken and egg. As long as almost all Jews in the United States don't view Israel as a Jewish interest then anti-Zionism doesn't have to imply anti-Jewish persecutions. But since some do, I think that the USA would face exactly what the Soviets did when they oriented towards anti-Zionism. To effectively be anti-Zionist they needed to become more anti-Semetic. And I don't think you would dispute that Soviet Jews in the 1950s were far less Zionist than American Jews in the 2010s are. I think as Jews learn this history they are likely to become justifiably fearful. And do you think that AIPAC isn't going to make damn sure every Jew has seen at least one movie or TV docudrama about this as BDS gains ground? For a more recent example Venezuela and the Jewish community there. Or the history of Arab Jews and how they were driven out as their government became anti-Zionist. I don't run AIPAC, B'nai B'rith or but you better believe if I did those docudramas educating younger Jews are getting made. At my daughter's public school it is mandatory for every student to have at least one class per month that is about the Holocaust in every grade! And that involved some fairly graphic assignments that made me uncomfortable. What do you think that's done to the Jewish children of New Jersey?

      No offense but I don't think BDS ever really played out BDS winning and what that looks like step by step. It is always, there is a popular rally and then something magic happens and there is a one state solution that everyone loves. I've never read one fully played out fictional what-if type scenario.

      Young American Jews like a society that guarantees minority rights. That’s why they would in some surprising degree regard it as no big deal if there was one secular democratic state in I.P tomorrow.

      American Jews live in a secular democratic state. They are American and share American attitudes. Israeli concepts have much more in common with Eastern European democracy than American democracy. But let's not forget they also live in a secular democratic state that is very effective at applying cultural corrosive acid to minority's identities and assimilating them. Palestinians can also be critiqued under American values. They won't send their kids to public (Hebrew Israeli) schools, they won't fight for their country (IDF), they conspire with the enemy (Syria, Saudi Arabia..) That is they do all the things the Native Americans did and the Blacks refused to do when they demanded to be fully American. Analogy does cut both ways. Americans believe in secular democracy they also believe in assimilation.

      Throw in assimilation and I don't mind if Israel has a secular democracy. So sure there is a consensus there but I'm not sure the BDSers would like it.

      In fact, your beloved policies in I.P now endanger Jews around the world, as we are associated with a state that practices apartheid

      Endangers where in the USA? That's the overwhelming majority of non-Israeli Jews. You can't have it both ways. Either Israel is a thing of indifference to American Jews or important enough to endanger them. I don't believe American Jews are in danger over the next century but if they were I think the danger would come from anti-Zionism not Israel. Israel creates an escape hatch in case anti-Zionism were to ever become too powerful. Long term I think the danger comes from Christian theology not apartheid.

      My feeling is Catholics are associated with states that practiced genocide on huge sections of the planet and whom many (I'd be personally much more nuanced so not saying I agree) believed destroyed a good bit of human knowledge throwing humanity into 1000 years of barbarism. That crushes apartheid over 5m people in terms of badness many times over. Muslims are associated with states which actively practice all sorts of hideous barbarisms. Take female circumcision or honor killings. I've always felt the obsession with Israelis moral perfection is Jewish navel gazing nonsense. So sorry, here we disagree.

    • @Phil

      “I think the Jewish students are going to respond very much like their grandparents and great-grandparents did and side with the right.” They are behaving differently, the Jewish students. Three or four of them spoke on behalf of the SJP position. How does that figure into your generational math?

      There were Jews who spoke in favor of the black property rights movement even when it turned on Jewish businesses in black communities. Some of them stayed with it even when blacks began reacting against the Jewish community reaction to the turn (i.e. Jewish support for "law and order" type police chiefs for example). But by and large the Jewish community had been solidly pro-civil rights in the 1960s and early 1970s by the late 70s and early 1980s it was (given how progressive a community it is) much more antagonistic. Think back to Jessie Jackson's problems or Louis Farrakhan's they both date from this time period.

      Since then there has been something of a rapprochement as the issue mostly resolved. For one things blacks aren't nearly as geographically concentrated and for another the people who lived in the ghettos of the 20s-40s are dead now not owning / running businesses.

      But yes I think the situation seems analogous. We'll have to see how it plays out. JVP will continue to exist I suspect. The issue is the relationship between SoC and Jewish students if things heat up.

    • Phil --

      First off thank you for presenting a version of events that sounds plausible! This version of events passes the smell test completely. I don't have any inside information on Vassar lately (though my brother attended there for a few years) but I get it. This is an environment where an administrator is likely to view BDS/SJP... as just a sudden burst of ethnic tension that needs to get treated like a student vs. student ethnic issue not a purely political dispute.

      In the end I think we disagree that Palestine is going to matter enough to the international students. I think the Jewish students are going to respond very much like their grandparents and great-grandparents did and side with the right. If these incidents happen. I think the administration is going to side with full tuition paying students over even a greater number of financial aide students. So for example:

      How long before students occupy administration buildings of liberal arts colleges that work with Israel?

      This sort of thing can get treated like a student protest with the administration fretting and negotiating and... Or it can treated like a straightforward property dispute where the police come in, use violence, arrest the protestors, charge them with criminal trespass and then the university follows up against the trespassers with additional disciplinary procedures. I simply don't believe the former will happen if Jewish students feel harassed. Unfair as this, students of color (SoC) with less privilege have much more to worry about if it becomes a police matter than white privileged students do. A stupid college protest can turn into a crucial turning in their lives in a way it wouldn't for privileged students. Even if they don't understand that, their advisors and parents sure do. I don't see how the SoC can escalate on an issue they (IMHO) don't care enough about.

      Unlike a lot of the people here you're old enough to remember the 1970s and how liberal Jews got kicked out of the civil rights struggle, when the issue moved from the south and Jim Crow to the north and local control of black neighborhood resources. Neighborhoods that had been Jewish ghettos before they became black where Jews still had property holdings and thus were seen as on the side of white power. A crucial one of the last steps in how Jews became white people in America. Local control was a core issue and many blacks even understanding the ferocious backlash they faced in terms of completely unequal funding for things like schools, infrastructure and policing as a result of the move might think it was the right move. I don't see see why the SJP/BDS students of color would view Palestine in the same light with the same importance.

      Remember there was turmoil and violence in France once the country’s support for Algerian colonization became politically problematic at last after 120 years.

      I agree. But Israel demands today very little from the United States. This is much more complex but given Israel's propensity towards aggressive responses effective USA support for BDS that actually bites (and this is getting almost fictional) is asking the USA to take strong action to contain Israel. For example preventing Israel from responding to severe pressure by breaking with the west to become China's mideast center of power. So this is the opposite of Algeria the USA's involvement with Israel would likely increase.

      A closer analogy to Israel would be student activism against China asking the USA to make human rights rather than trade a more important aspect of USA / Chinese relations which so far haven't yielded any meaningful changes in the USA's orientation.

  • 'Forward' lives up to its name, bashing denial of Palestinian narrative and donors' control of Hillel
    • @Phil

      The Forward’s apostasy underscores my mainstream political analysis: Not till Jewish progressive culture splits will American political culture break on this issue. You cannot get the Democratic Party unless you transform American Jewish attitudes; Jews are simply too important in the blue state liberal consensus. I’m all for organizing inside the rightwing of American life, with Rand Paul and the National Summit to Reassess the Special Relationship. But that just gets us back to a traditional opposition of the 40s and 50s, Harry Truman versus the State Department. And we saw how that worked out. You have to break down this powerful ideology in its own burrows.

      I rarely get to say this but... I may disagree with your cause but I 100% agree with your analysis here. :) American Liberalism will not break with an important constituency over a policy issue that doesn't have a corresponding gain. Those factions that try would not have the backing of Democratic moderates. Democratic moderates will not be willing to lose critical states (especially Florida and possibly Pennsylvania), a major source of activists and a major source of financing over Palestinian rights. I've always believed there are two huge battles that American BDSers/anti-Zionists will have to win to win the moral fight: Jewish Zionism on the left to become the consensus view among Democrats and then Christian Zionism on the right to become the consensus view among Americans.

      So we agree. I don't see how you can win this but I agree that's the first crucial battlefield.

  • BDS supporting rock star Roger Waters hits back against vicious smears
    • @pabelmont

      In other words, gentiles gotta watch their mouths but notable Israelis can mouth off to their heart’s content?

      Yes. I work right now for an Indian company. I can freely make Jewish jokes. I can freely say unabashedly critical things about American politics or culture. I can make negative comments about the West. Because in the end they know where my loyalties lie. If I want to be critical about anything Indian or Hindu I have to be guarded, charitable and respectful. I have to and should always err on the side of being understanding of their positions. Insiders have different status that outsiders do with these sorts of issues.

      Waters isn't Jewish. His deciding to become a spokesperson for an anti-Jewish cause is problematic in a way that it isn't for Phil or Adam or Hostage. Water's completely unbalanced attacks on European leaders including Margaret Thatcher in decades past were not subject to special scrutiny because of his insider status. When he goes after Israel / Jews every comment he makes is going to subject to factual scrutiny. Its going to be subject to scrutiny on balance and completeness. And when he fails those tests and refuses to retract he's going to face social pressure. He's going to be held to a very high bar.

      And he should be held to that high bar. I'm thrilled that in today's House of Representatives that no Congressmen would get up and freely profess how disgusting he finds the idea of "using a toilette that a nigger had just used". I'm glad this sort of dialogue is unthinkable. I'm thrilled that no Senator would talk about how you can't possibly ask white soldiers to shower with negros. I'm thrilled that its been decades since an MP has freely talked about the wogs and their disgusting personal habits on the floor of parliament. I'm thrilled that students at colleges today can't even believe that most of the better colleges had quotas to keep the number of Jewish students down during their grandparent's days at college.

      Those are huge accomplishment. And they took the application of social pressure. And heck yeah, I don't think Roger Waters should be allowed to undermine those accomplishment because he disagrees with Israeli policy. That's not to say he can't disagree with Israeli policy but just like when I disagree with Indian policy the correct approach is respectful, charitable and guarded.

  • Pelosi calls Israel's creation 'the most spectacular political achievement of the 20th century'
    • @Phil --

      What do you mean by grass roots in the above?
      a) Average American's political beliefs
      b) Average person in Pelosi's district (i.e. average mainstream to liberal democrat)
      c) Average liberal
      d) Average liberal activist
      e) Average liberal activist X-Jews

  • 'NYT' boycott debate features two Zionists, and excludes BDS
    • @Donald --

      “He flooded them with an immigrant population they didn’t want” He’s criticizing BDS with those words. Simply amazing lack of irony and self-awareness.

      Zionists don't pretend that post 36 Zionism was good for Palestinians and wasn't an attack. We don't lie to ourselves about the fact that Palestinians should have consider the Israelis their friends while having their country uprooted.

      Phil was objecting to be classified as one whose aim was to attack Israel.

  • 'NYT' dismisses Wieseltier attack on Judis as tempest-in-a-teapot
    • @Phil

      I wonder how long the Times is going to treat the Israel conversation as a badminton dispute that ended up ruining the party, and actually discuss the extent to which Zionism depended/depends upon empire to dispossess Palestinians

      It doesn't. Israel is a powerful country. It would be perfectly capable of dispossessing the Palestinians on its own with ease. What empire does is create USA interest which conflict with the Palestinians being brutalized and thus encourage America to bribe Israel with weapons and trade not to dispossess the Palestinians. If anything empire is dragging this whole thing out and making it more humane.

      Which is one of the reasons the people pushing for a cutoff in USA aide might want to be careful what they wish for. They don't like Israel shackled, Israel as a free agent pursuing its own interests without being tightly tied to the USA I suspect they like far less.

  • Shavit and Beinart willfully ignore an anti-Zionist Jewish movement
    • @Citizen

      up a level

      So, let’s see, according to your logic or belief, Phil Weiss, for example, is a full and loyal member of which nation? And, how about, e.g., JFK before he was murdered?

      I don't know much about Phil. But I think he's American. JFK was American.

  • Israeli rap warns vulnerable Jewish women about seductive, dangerous Arab men

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