Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 38 (since 2009-10-17 23:51:34)

Jim Holstun

Jim Holstun teaches world literature in the Department of English, the University at Buffalo.

Showing comments 38 - 1

  • The sensitive Zionist -- a review of Natalie Portman's new film
    • Ms. Portman's debut was in Luc Besson's truly creeply pedophilic film, Léon: The Professional. Even worse, as a Harvard undergraduate (credited as "Natalie Hershlag"), she was a research assistant for Alan Dershowitz's THE CASE FOR ISRAEL. Perhaps she was responsible for copying out the bits from Joan Peters's FROM TIMEIMMEMORIAL

  • Did dodging foreign policy doom Bernie Sanders?
    • It's a little early to be writing Bernie off. After all, every victory that Trump gains underlines the fact that Bernie can win against him, Hillary can't. Remember to tell all your moderate Democratic friends that, of course, we all want a DLC Wall-Street kissing interventionist thug who cackles at the sight of Qaddhafi being raped to death--but to hold off Trump, they will have to hold their noses and vote for the Democratic Socialist! (i.e., the actual New Deal liberal, as Chomsky said, but that's not nothing). All of this "Hillary is Inevitable" rhetoric sounds like Paul Krugman. And yes, Bernie is cowardly and a trimmer in all kinds of ways, but he probably has a better chance than anyone of being able to cut off the Jewish and Democratic State.

  • NPR's Martin says that Beirut and Baghdad victims matter as much as Parisian ones
  • Minnesota Congresswoman demands accountability for Nakba Day killings
    • The intrepid little blonde Palestinian girl in Nabi Saleh, with the fearless teeth, looks an awful lot like Ahed Tamimi, also of Nabi Saleh, who was featured in amazing photo essay by Ben Ehrenreich (Barbara's son), a couple of years back:

      Ehrenreich's article:
      link to

      link to

      With teeth and guts like these, Palestine will be free.

      Props to Rep. McCollum. She will soon be needing serious campaign contributions.

  • Roundtable on the Palestinian solidarity movement and Alison Weir
    • Alison Weir sometimes makes me queasy--and so does the frequent reference to the "Israel Lobby" or "The Jewish Lobby" (including here at Mondoweiss) which chronically underestimates the role of Christian fundamentalists, military contractors, and oil companies in keeping the Occupation going. But Jennifer Hitchcock's argument is very weak--for instance, her jumping on Weir's piece about Israelis "harvesting" the organs of dead Palestinians. This isn't a "blood libel"; it's simply true, and admitted on tape by Israel's L. Greenberg Institute of Forensic Medicine. See link to The fact that medieval anti-Semites fabricated stories of Jews poisoning wells does not mean that one is an anti-Semite to object to Israeli settlers poisoning Palestinian wells on the West Bank.

      And this is simply slimy: "it is more counterproductive and a waste of time to continue supporting individuals who have repeatedly demonstrated an affinity for racist or antisemitic speech than it is to call out such people whose presence will hurt the movement." Note that Hitchcock doesn't quite have the guts to accuse Weir of this, much less the evidence to back up the claim. Rather, she retreats into an anodyne truism and hopes that sloppy readers will simply make the connection to Weir. No sale. For somebody currently "working on a dissertation analyzing BDS discourse," this is rhetorically unselfconscious. I'm still undecided about Weir; I'm not undecided about this piece by Hitchcock. It's a hack job.

      But of course, Gilad Atzmon is a sure'nuff Jew hater and all-around creep. On that, at least, we can agree.

  • Michael Oren misrepresents 1971 synagogue bombing that changed his life
    • I'm sure Ambassador Oren also mentions and mourns Alex Odeh--blown up, probably, by some of Rabbi Kahane's boys in Orange County, CA. Because, of course, Ambassador Oren is an honorable man.

      Without a conviction, probably best not to assume too much. The Zionist bombings in Egypt (Lavon affair) and the Baghdad synagogue bombings (attributed by Iraqi Jews, with some justification, to Zionists trying to encourage emigration) are too fresh in the memory. So is the Hannibal Directive, whereby Israel kills and then histrionically mourns its captured soldiers.

  • JVP to Obama: 'Shared values' means opposing Israel's systematic discrimination against non-Jews
    • "Making the desert bloom"--i.e., Making the desert Bloom's (apologies to Leopold).

      Noam Chomsky: "If the Nuremberg Laws were Applied...," Delivered around 1990: "If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged."

  • Caroline Glick says there were no Palestinian refugees
    • S. Yizhar's book is magnificent--an amazing book on ethnic cleansing that deserves to be as well known as Heart of Darkness. But its reception history is complicated: many Israelis took it as testimony to the heroism of "dirty hands" necessary for modern nation building. The narrator proceeds with the ethnic cleansing; S. Yizhar proceeded with his literary and political career as an MK and an ally of David Ben Gurion.

  • 'Israel is becoming an isolated ghetto,' says Amos Oz
  • Revisiting 'Graveyard of Numbers': Israel refuses to return remains of Palestinian militants as a punitive measure
    • The practice goes back to Creon of Thebes, who refused to bury his nephew Polyneices--and it didn't turn out too well for him, once Antigone got involved.

      Here's a B'tselem report: Lein, Yehezkel. Captive Corpses. Jerusalem: B’tselem, 1999. link to

  • Does SJP have the right to free speech?
    • What about free speech for disgusting, Zionist supporters of occupation and ethnic cleansing? For out-and-out war criminals? As always, the extreme test case is important. Frequently, occupation opponents stand up and walk out, creating a mild disruption. Sometimes, they shout out, creating a more significant interruption. Does their side get free speech too? I mean, even if their side has just turned the Islamic University of Gaza into rubble?

      Yes, they do. Given that we have the truth and justice on our side, disruption is unnecessary, and it would be more effective in the short run and the long run to study up and ask hard questions. Anything that allows you to feel righteous about not reading more is a clear and present danger.

      The test case for the test case, however, is the increasingly typical quasi-academic appearance, whereby speakers get to screen questions. This is a violation of academic freedom (I have been told by specialists at AAUP). And then, all bets are off. Disrupt away.

  • 'Ethnic cleansing for a better world' -- Richard Cohen says Palestinians brought the Nakba on themselves
    • Really, I prefer this sort of thudding monster to the lachrymose shoot-and-cry of Ari Shavit, whose argument is, at bottom, the same.

  • Schumer is obnoxious
  • Achieving a hudna and ten years of calm in Israel/Palestine
    • While some Israeli citizens would no doubt welcome the calm, the Israeli military state could not survive the experience. One only has to look at how Israel responds, again and again, to periods of Palestinian peace. This is not a minor thing; we will not even begin to have peace and justice in Palestine until we realize that peace is not on the agenda of Likud--or labor either, for that matter.

  • Did LA pro-Israel group conceal right-wing identity from Hollywood celebs and media?
  • As Salaita's case becomes a cause, U of Illinois issues declarations on 'civility'
    • Among the many contemptible things about Wise's letter, this stands out for me: she doesn't say A SINGLE THING about her reasons for breaking the contract. Just some assurances that it had nothing to do with Palestine-Israel (a lie, of course), and some nondescript academico-thuggish words about civility, etc., hoping people will intuit some connection.

      A deeply contemptuous and cynical performance. If there's any justice, Professor Salaita will be employed by the end of the year, and Good Chancellor Wise will be seeking gainful employment elsewhere.

  • Jodi Rudoren loves a winner
    • Professor Slater, the key thing here is not that Jodi Rudoren and Binyamin Netanyahu are acting like Nazis, or almost Nazis, or something like Nazis, or whatever.

      The key thing is that they are acting like Zionists--even those Zionists you finally approve of who accomplished the Nakba. In other words, Jewish opinions and rights are of value; Palestinian opinions and rights are not consulted. And my right to your land is greater than your right to your land.

      Netanyahu is like Livni is like Olmert is like Barak is like Sharon is like Peres is like Rabin is like Meir is like Eshkol is like Sharrett, yea, unto the eighteenth generation, and the sainted Ben Gurion: they all believe their ethnonationalism gives them the right to expel Palestinians from their land.

      Enough with the Nazis already, and enough with the good cop/bad cop distraction of Netanyahu's presumed falling off from the virtue of, say, the virtuous Butcher of Lydda, Yitzhak Rabin. It's more than enough to say "Netanyahu is as bad as Ben Gurion!" That's slur enough, and it's also completely accurate.

      There is no "moral collapse" of Israel. In this, I agree completely with its current leadership.

  • Salaita’s stellar teaching record exposes political motivation behind his firing
    • If lllinois is anything like other universities, then we will find Chancellor Wise herself among the people who signed off on Professor Salaita's appointment there, or at least a senior administrator whom she appointed. So in effect, one has to agree either with Chancellor Wise #1 or Chancellor Wise #2.

      Cary Nelson's contortions continue to impress: now he's concerned that students might not feel "comfortable" in Professor Salaita's classes. Right, Cary, because that's what education is all about: fluffing the pillows and keeping students comfortable. In non-Zionist contexts, Professor Nelson would guffaw at the very idea.

  • The Walzer Problem
    • Even though he continues to support the original ethnic cleansing of Palestine (though he wishes it had been in a gentler form), it is good to see Professor Slater reminding Michael Waltzer of the horror of the Dahiya Doctrine here, and the record of Hamas's offers to negotiate.

  • Is the firing of Steven Salaita the beginning of a new Blacklist?
  • The academic/political context of the Salaita affair
    • The very fact that there is an "Israel Studies Project" as part of the "Program in Jewish Culture" is itself a bad sign. Does UI have a Belgium Studies program? Egypt Studies? A Florida or New Mexico Studies program? an Iranian studies program? How about Mongolian studies? No? Why is it, then, that somebody found the money to fund an "Israel Studies" program? Why single out a particular nation this way?

      A clue: The program is "A collaboration between Illinois and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago." This is the corruption of academic integrity by Zionist money. Studying a culture or a region (Jewish Culture, Judaism, Middle Eastern Studies) is a completely different matter.

    • Referring to "his alleged and apparently ineffectual support (as national president of AAUP in 2007) for Norman Finkelstein notwithstanding." No, Norman Finkelstein himself told me that he had no complaints about the AAUP support of his case, and Cary Nelson spoke to me of his admiration for Finkelstein as a classroom teacher. That Finkelstein lost can't be laid at the door of Nelson or the AAUP.

      Nelson's considerable demerits in the Salaita case need to be judged on their own. In Ali Abunimah's initial interview with him, Nelson more or less disqualifies himself from any hint of academic decency by admitting this:

      "Another example Nelson gave was an 8 July tweet by Salaita, at the beginning of Israel’s current massacre in Gaza, stating, “If you’re defending #Israel right now you’re an awful human being.”. . . When asked if he would oppose the hiring of a person who said that 'someone who defends Hamas firing rockets towards Tel Aviv is an awful person,' Nelson answered: 'No.'" link to

      So, Professor Nelson is a self-confessed Zionist hack and brawler. End of discussion for him. His opinion should be accorded no more and no less authority than those of, say, Martin Indyk or William Kristol.

  • Professor Salaita was fired for disagreeing too vehemently with Professor Nelson
    • While working at AAUP, Nelson worked long and hard to defend Norman Finkelstein's tenure, as Finkelstein himself told me. But his is very much a guild-based vision, directed toward university professors alone. Thus he

      1. Opposes BDS since it moves outside the guild toward the guild actually taking a position on something outside of it: Israeli apartheid. Better to support fully members of the guild in their work to continue fabricating munitions to blow up Palestinian babies than to exercise strictures on their academic work, and their alliances with other babykillers who are members of the guild's Israeli affiliates.

      2. Attempts to destroy somebody between jobs, and therefore not quite in the guild: the Salaita case.

      Where he contradicts himself is in phonying up his own eminently Zionist and pro-massacre beliefs as somehow bearing on the guild: "Salaita might discriminate against Zionist students. . . . He is potentially uncollegial toward potential future colleagues in the guild," etc.

    • No, I was unclear: I was trying to say that, while people in the anti-Occupation community would certainly attack the violent Zionist opinions, they almost certainly would not take the extra Cary Nelson step of trying to get my imaginary malfeasant fired and silenced. That's a difference between us and them.

      And no, I don't think her job offer would be yanked. And Cary Nelson admitted to Ali Abunimah that he wouldn't be raising any objections--i.e., that his defense of "civility" is purely partisan strategy.

      In other words, the contemptible behavior here may indicate that the Zionist haters are at the end of their rope.

    • It would be useful to consider the difficulty corollary. Suppose there were a Zionist professor tweeting furiously this summer, cheering on the IDF assaults on Gaza, writing off the beach killings as an unfortunate accident ultimately traceable to Hamas, retweeting a call to have, say, Ali Abunimah harmed, and offering clear, fact-based classroom defenses of Israel's right to exist as an ethno-theocracy, with special rights (of return, land use, etc.) reserved for Jews, while respecting students' rights to challenge her and present alternative opinions

      Would we argue forcefully that her preliminary conflict be honored? I hope so, and I think we would. Palestine and its supporters have the facts and the justice on their side, so that silencing the opposition is a much smaller arrow in the quill. It's a sign of Zionist desperation that a frequently honorable man like Cary Nelson tosses his belief in academic freedom out the window when it comes to Israelis murdering Palestinians, as he himself admitted ion his interview with Ali Abunimah. And he trembles cravenly behind the inequitable iniquities of the capitalist work contract, proposing to enforce a "civility" that he himself is hardly notable for practicing with his colleagues, students, and others.

      To add to the hypocrisy here: Mr. Nelson is a frequent leftist who has published important semi-marxist studies of fully marxist cultural work, and for him suddenly to start talking like craven university counsel deserves peals of derisive laughter.,

  • Video: Israeli sniper kills Palestinian protester in Hebron
  • Steven Salaita-- unremitting in criticism of Zionism and Gaza slaughter-- loses a job at University of Illinois
    • Just written to Cary Nelson, whom I know. He is quoted as approving the withdrawn job offer.

      Dear Cary,

      "I’m glad the chancellor did what had to be done”? Barthes is right: tautology is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Also interesting to read your references to Steven Salaita's "loathsome and foul-mouthed presence," his "venomous" and "obsessively driven" behavior. Sounds a little uncivil to me, Cary, particularly when addressed to a person and a potential colleague--and not to the murder state that you defend so clumsily, from time to time.

      But even so, I wouldn't recommend your termination, or denial of your academic chair. Indeed, if there were a group empowered Palestinians with the power to reach out and quash a job offer or remove a professor from his job or his chair--I know, I know, stop laughing--I would defend you, even now. You know--there's that whole academic freedom thing.

      "Salaita’s extremist and uncivil views stand alone." Or, "Be civil, or I'll destroy you." And incidentally: no they don't. A new low. Your gross hypocrisy has inspired me to write your chancellor.

      Shame on you--it's not like killing hundreds of babies with artillery shells, but as professorial behavior goes, it's pretty low.


  • Peter Beinart demolishes Gaza hasbara
    • Pretty useful. Still, there's a huge contradiction between the first part of the piece, in which Beinart talks about Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza serving the ends of the Occupation, and the last two paragraphs of the essay, which restore the Hamas Mooslim Boogeyman, which cunningly tricked Israel: "Israel has repeatedly played into Hamas' hands by not strengthening those Palestinians willing to pursue statehood through nonviolence and mutual recognition."

      As if that were ever Israel's goal. Beinart can't admit that its actual goal is a semi-fascist militarized state, dead Palestinians, and a school reduced to bloody rubble.

  • 'Kill those who rise up to kill us' -- a prime minister's chilling tweet
    • This particular death threat is a Zionist favorite: “He who rises up to kill us, we will pre-empt it and kill him first” (Ariel Sharon, “Sharon anger over suicide bombing,” BBC News 8 May 2002 available at link to

      As Elliott notes, Netanyahu and Sharon are ultimately paraphrasing the Babylonian Talmud on Exodus 22: 2–3 (David B. Kopel, “The Torah and Self-Defense,” Penn State Law Review 109.1 (2004): 17–42). Of course, that doesn’t make it any less barbarous—or idiotic: if you are going to kill me on Monday because you fear I will kill you on Tuesday, then shouldn’t I try to kill you on Sunday? That’s the murderous illogic of preemption.

      See also that redoubtable liberal idiot, Michael Ignatieff, on “terrorists”: “Against this kind of enemy . . . it makes sense to get our retaliation in first” (‘Lesser Evils: Could We Lose the War on Terror?” (The New York Times Magazine, 2 May 2004, available at: link to

  • Chris Matthews and David Corn defend Israel against 'slander' of apartheid
    • Margaret Sullivan is frequently--how to put this?--a woman of principle and humanity. Complained and received this:

      Dear Mr. Holstun,

      Thanks for taking the time to write. The above comment should not have been published. I am forwarding your note along to The Times's Comment Moderation team in order to get it removed.

      Jonah Bromwich
      Office of the Public Editor
      The New York Times

    • You're right--the question of numerical minority and majority isn't salient to the discussion of Zionism as apartheid. But there probably is a slight Palestinian majority even now, between the river and the sea. And if one subtracts the emigre Israelis--and the Jewish and Democratic State is pretty cagey about providing an actual count of its wandering sons and daughters--the Palestinian majority is even greater.

  • Another prominent liberal Jew runs away from the Zionist label
    • They're dripping something, anyway--Shoah denial, from the smell of it.

    • Good to read, and yet, it puts me in mind of Thomas Jefferson in Notes on the State of Virginia, worrying about the way in which slavery is sure to corrupt the heart of white America. No doubt, but that's not the main thing. And really, let's do drop the Nazi comparison, which is not transcendent. Nobody gets a pass on something just because it stops short of Auschwitz.

      The thing is this: the Zionists are acting like Zionists, and have been, since 1948. Genug.

  • Northeastern U administrator: SJP's suspension is 'not [issue] of free speech or the exchange of disparate ideas'
    • JeffB, whoever he may be, has certainly internalized the authoritarian psychobabble of contemporary university management. "Civility" indeed--the lubricant of choice for this sort of hack. The final reference to "adults" is particularly civil, JeffB. And the word you want there is "perforce," not preforce. Use it right and you'll sound more British, which is to say, civil.

  • On John Judis's 'Genesis,' and its critics
    • "If, however, one accepts the principle of a justified Jewish state" (which entails the necessity for ethnic cleansing to establish the Jewish majority) "then there clearly was a tragic moral dilemma" between establishing a Jewish state and ethnic cleansing. In other words, if one accepts the necessity for ethnic cleansing, then ethnic cleansing is, regrettably, necessary.

      Alas, this is where even the most genteel ethno-sectarian supremacism leaves us: knee deep in tautologous thinking. And Professor Slater has still not established the crucial assumption of his argument: that an ethno-sectarian state founded in ethnic cleansing was the only possible protection for the Jewish survivors of the European Holocaust. In 1997, the Israeli Foreign Minister's office estimated that, of 960,000 Holocaust survivors, 380,000 lived in Israel, 580,000 elsewhere.
      link to

      So Professor Slater is willing to contemplate with equanimity the forcible transfer of Palestinians out of their homeland, but not a modest increase in emigration numbers of Jewish DPs to other safe and welcoming states, or their staying in or returning to their states of origin?

      Palestinians are not furniture: you don't get to move them around at will and expect no consequences.

    • Remarkable to read this in Mondoweiss: a defense of kinder, gentler ethnic cleansing, on the grounds that there were two competing moral claims, with the claim of diaspora Jews to ethnic supremacy in a land of their own outweighing the claim of Palestinians to continue living in their homes.

      It's even more remarkable that Professor Slater feels no compulsion to defend this argument. He simply assumes it, on unexamined ethno-nationalist grounds, while ignoring the myriad alternatives to ethnic cleansing in the late forties--for instance, offering Jewish DPs asylum in the United States, or the other European nations in which many of them chose to remain.

      He states that "to ensure that there would be a large Jewish majority in the new state of Israel, some relatively small number of Palestinians might have had to be expelled ('transferred'), unwillingly but essentially nonviolently, to areas just a few miles away, with essentially the same geography, climate, history, religion, language, and culture."

      Professor Slater and I both live in Erie County, New York, just across the Niagara River from Ontario. If he and I were given six months to prepare for a transfer to already-occupied Ontario, so that the Roma people, long-suffering survivors of the Porajmos, might establish ethnic supremacy in Erie County, then the similarity of geography, climate, history, religion, language, and culture in Ontario would be small consolation.

      There is always an alternative to ethnic cleansing; it is never a grim necessity to be embraced with a quick and sloppy argument in support.

  • Our museum is not allergic to controversy -- director explains Judis's reinvitation
    • "Of course, rescinding an invitation (even one that I was unaware of) is a far different matter than simply not extending one in the first place."

      How craven, and yet revealing: yes, killing a discussion silently and invisibly is much different from killing it publicly. But I'm not sure the difference is something I would boast about

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