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Total number of comments: 70 (since 2009-10-17 23:51:34)

Jim Holstun

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

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  • 'NYT' writer who claims Zionism and human rights are intertwined ignores Palestinians
    • I wrote Professor Loeffler this. No response yet.

      Dear Professor Loeffler:

      UN Resolution 3379 wasn't exactly a "horrible meme that went viral: 'Zionism is Racism.'” Rather, it was a formal resolution that declared "that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination." A little reductive, yes, in larger historical perspective, but the binational Zionism of Ahad Ha'am was not exactly thriving in 1975. Do you think this claim was true, or false? It appears to me that Zionism did and does discriminate on ethno-sectarian grounds.

      So many of the "memes" regarding the ethnic cleansing of Palestine turn out to be a little tendentious, I find. For instance, Nasser's declaration that he would drive Israel into the sea, which he never said. But it's a useful little meme, which provides cover for the fact that Zionists (racist or non-racist, I don't know) literally drove Palestinians into the sea in Haifa and Jaffa.

      No doubt your human rights activists did believe in two states for two peoples, and it is interesting to read about them and their evident belief that human rights are compatible with one group of nations carving up a colony for the benefit of a favored minority. But perhaps those peoples should themselves have been allowed to have a say in the decision of one state or two? This is a rather important human right, and is enshrined in Article I, Section 2 of the United Nations Charter.

      "Across that nonborder, however, the Israeli occupation presents an ongoing challenge to Jewish democracy." Isn't the prior challenge to life, well-being, and human rights of the occupied Palestinians? I'm reminded of antebellum arguments that slavery was just so damaging to the democracy and morality of the white South.

      Jim Holstun

      Professor of English

      SUNY Buffalo

  • Anonymous anti-BDS group publishes 'blacklist' of boycott supporters in New York
    • It's such a sad little site--low content level, ungrammatical prose, forever buffering, with typo-ridden accompanying threat letters. I wonder if Yair Netanyahu put it together. Nothing of interest here. One yearns for the hydrophobic brio of David Horowitz, whose stable of haters could at least craft a hitjob.

  • Palestinians demand Israeli authorities release the remains of slain loved ones
    • In Sophocles' great play, Antigone, the Theban tyrant Creon not only slays Polyneices, the son of Oedipus, but refuses to allow his body to be buried. Instead, he leaves it in the open, to be eaten and defiled by dogs and birds. Polyneices' sister Antigone goes against his orders and performs the burial rites for her brother.

      Things don't turn out well for Creon.

      Things won't turn out well for the Creon state, either.

  • MLA votes against BDS, tables resolution blaming PA and Hamas for restrictions on Palestinian academic freedom (Updated)
    • These literature-oriented academics aren't stupid, exactly, but they do chronically overestimate the political efficacy of "free debate" (as if that defined Israeli academia) and the exchange of ideas, just as they underestimate the importance of exercising force. And they are still afraid--afraid of people calling them anti-semites, of course, as the unprincipled and increasingly isolated Professor Cary Nelson does not hesitate to do.

      But it's important to note how close the vote was: five delegates changing their minds would have tipped things the other way. The US Campaign and the other BDS groups have done excellent work. Because of them, I think I'll re-up my MLA membership later this month, for the first time in years!

  • Israel paints fighter jet pink to raise breast cancer awareness while preventing cancer patients in Gaza from receiving treatment
  • 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
  • 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 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
  • 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.'"

      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

      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:

  • 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.

      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

  • Cary Nelson, the AAUP, and the privilege of bestowing academic freedom
    • Professor Nelson's attack on Professor Ferguson for a "conflict of interest" is particularly weak. Here's a definition of C.O.I. by an authority in the field:

      "A conflict of interest is broadly defined as a situation in which an individual or a corporate interest has a tendency to interfere with the proper exercise of judgment on another’s behalf. Those who prefer to distinguish between individual and institutional COI often define the former as a set of circumstances creating a risk that a secondary interest, such as financial gain, may unduly influence professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest, such as research conduct, teaching, or patient welfare. Correspondingly, an institutional COI occurs when the financial interests of an institution or institutional officials, acting within their authority on behalf of the institution, may affect or appear to affect the research, education, clinical care, business transactions, or other governing activities of the institution. A growing body of empirical research has shown that financial conflicts of interest are associated with decision-making, as well as research, bias. (See the main report for details.) COI may also introduce unreliability into the research process, undermine public trust, and erode respect for institutions of higher education. Disclosure of a COI, even full disclosure with informed consent, fails to resolve or eliminate such biases and other problems."

      An opinion all by itself is not an individual or corporate "interest" that might be immediately impacted by a decision pro or con. It is not "financial gain." For instance, a declared opposition to Israeli ethnic cleansing does not disqualify a scholar from adjudicating or participating in an academic debate bearing on ethnic cleansing.

      Who is the authority I quote above? Professor Cary Nelson (co-author), in AAUP. Recommended Principles & Practices to Guide Academic-Industry Relationships. 13 June 2012. Web. 15 July 2012. p. 17, Professor Nelson does not get to redefine "conflict of interest" just because it's a matter bearing on Israel.

  • Boycott panel at MLA draws applause and fearful questions
    • Yes, the MLA is considering a resolution to protest Israel's harassment of and discrimination against Palestinian-American academics attempting to enter Palestine/Israel.

  • 'Haaretz' says many Orthodox are taught to see non-Jews as 'not quite human'
    • The linkage of Hasidic ethnosectarian bigotry and this guy's actions makes me queasy. And the loan sharking (and sexual molestation?) toward members of his own community suggests that the in group/out group argument has some holes. Maybe we should be asking different questions here--like what failings in NYC's housing authority allowed this abuse to go on for so long?

      This is no worse than, but also no better than, an article moving from a Palestinian knifing an Israeli Jew to an examination of some of the ranker bits of Muslim and Christian theology (say, St. John on the "synagogue of Satan"). Why use the story of this alleged scumbag's death to meditate on Satmar bigotry?

  • Modern Language Association convention to feature academic boycott panel and resolution slamming Israeli denial of entries
    • Barbara Harlow has decades of experience with Palestinian literature and culture--a translator of Ghassan Kanafani and writer of many essays and book chapters on Palestine.

  • Preaching to the choir: reflections on Max Blumenthal's 'Goliath'
    • In his continuing effort to defend the ethnic cleansing of 1948 and its aftermath, Professor Slater ignores the elementary distinction between metropolitan colonial projects like King Leopold's Congo, and settler colonial projects like the Scots Irish in Ulster, the European settlers in North America and Australia, and the European and North American Jews in Palestine. Of course, most settlers had suffered genuine economic hardship and political persecution; and of course, all of them commenced engaging in genuine economic exploitation and political persecution of the indigenes. Really, there's no room for Jewish exceptionalism here.

      As to the special, non-ethnocentric motivation for Jewish settlement in Palestine: Professor Slater should reread Theodor Herzl, who presents a Jewish Palestine as "a portion of the rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilisation as opposed to barbarism." See also his discussions--however duplicitous--of how much Palestinian Arabs would benefit from Zionist settlement: sounds a little White Man's Burdenish to me.

      Professor Slater's argument that the key to resolving the problem lies in convincing American Jews to pull back to the lands stolen in 1948 is disturbing, since it derives either from ethnic supremacism (i.e., the tiny minority of US Jews has a special right to determine US foreign policy in this area), or an overestimation of the p0wer of "the Jewish Lobby" (i.e., ignoring Christian Zionists and the enormous stake of weapons manufacturers and petrocapitalists in maintaining the current turbulence in the Middle East). The latter argument is not substantively anti-Semitic, but it is all too open to appropriation by Jew haters.

  • AIPAC's 'unlimited' funds are greatest obstacle to peace, former British foreign sec'y says
    • No, one wouldn't--at least I wouldn't. The occupation is good for Israeli and American business, but there would no doubt be ways to keep things heated up even if Israel retreated to its earlier ethnically-cleansed borders.

      But my point is that overreliance on the myth of the omnipotent Israel lobby can sometimes seep over into something quite noxious, as in Jack Straw's vision of the bottomless moneybag of World Jewry. So what--they have all the money as well as controlling Hollywood and the rest of the media? What a crock. With allies like Jack Straw, and Gilad Atzmon. . . .

    • I think Straw's arguments are mildly anti-Semitic, in a fashion that should not flabbergast us, coming as they do from a member of the British ruling class who has previously opined about Pakistani men slavvering over white girls. Not because AIPAC doesn't have some power and use it assiduously to further Zionist depravities, but because Straw overlooks the massive and continuing support for Israeli colonialism coming from US munitions manufacturers, oil companies, and the employees reliant on them--a network of wealth and power into which Mr. Straw (a gross betrayer of his peasant rebel namesake) is through integrated.

      Follow the money.

  • Nakba in The New Yorker, BDS in Variety
    • For testimonies on the Massacre of Lod/Lydda, see the Israeli website Zochrot. Astonishingly enough, it includes testimony by the Palmach veteran Yerachmiel Kahanovich, who fired the PIAT grenade into the Lod mosque: "Let me tell you what it does – you make it like it was a beautiful painting by an artist. You think. He makes a hole about this big and inside everybody's crushed on the walls from the pressure it makes inside."

      Mr. Shavit might want to have a look.

  • For Eric Alterman defending Israel trumps longtime friend and employer
    • Professor Alterman asks, rhetorically, "Wasn't Sharon [a peacemaker] before he ended Israel’s occupation of Lebanon?" Ehud Barak ended the 2000 occupation, Ehud Olmert that in 2006. And both times, the withdrawal had more to do with Hezbollah's brilliant and courageous fighting than with a Zionist impulse to make peace.

      Professor Alterman says, "Blumenthal describes Yoram Kniuk’s book about a Jewish violinist who forced to play for a concentration camp commander and then quotes a Palestinian saying 'Our enemy’s existence in this Arab region was justified and is still justified by our suffering by Jewish violinists in the camps.' Nowhere does he mention that Kniuk was a novelist. He wrote, um, fiction." And nowhere does the redoubtable Alterman mention that this novelist's name is, um, "Kaniuk."

      The Blumenthal family is well rid of such a nasty and ignorant friend.

  • The horror: 'Breaking the Silence' releases women's frightful testimonies of occupation
  • Hagel prostrates himself before the lobby, gets votes
    • Mercy, it appears that Max Ajl was right about Hagel all along. Quel surpris! Well, I'm sure that Obama's next nominee for this or that will be the genuine pro-Palestinian, anti-Occupation article.

  • Since when is the left embracing Chuck Hagel, a nationalist, establishment figure?
    • American asks, "Do tell. Explain to us the…… 'structural and economic roots and fundemental world wide continuity of US foreign policy' ….as it relates to the current and most immediate issue of the push by US zioinst and Israel for a US attack on Iran involved in the apointment of Hagel."

      Well, let's start with the enormous power of the US armaments industry and particularly its petroleum industry, who are delighted to have a certain level of tension remaining in the Middle East, and a cartel of mostly Sunni oil-producing countries organized against Iran, artificially inflating the price of petroleum. For more on this, see Max Ajl's excellent recent review essay of Alan Hart's three books on "the Lobby," in Historical Materialism 20.3 (2012) 159–180.

      Your sarcastic concluding comment overlooks who has profited from that enormous US debt: the wealthy, arms manufacturers, and also petrocapitalists, among others. And your reference to "our structural and economic roots" suggests that you remain oblivious to Ajl's powerful critique of the Realists on the Lobby being at odds with "America," with "us," as we seek to advance "American interests" worldwide. Americans of different classes have much different interests. Some will continue to profit from the occupation of Palestine and the sanctions on Iran; most will not.

      Really, given the manifest interest here, Mondoweiss should post Ajl's piece, unless a historical materialist perspective is outside the pale, and perhaps even un-American.

      Elise Hendrick on the Realist photocopy machine is perfect--hurrah for you, madame!

  • Tom Friedman's endorsement of Hagel as the DefSec Israel needs is wakeup call to Bill Kristol on Boxing Day
    • I think that's further evidence for Ajl's case: if the Saudis release more oil at a cheaper price, then the tar sands petrocapitalists plummet. Keep the prices and the Middle Eastern tensions up, and everybody profits, including American arms manufacturers, who benefit enormously from the proviso that a hunk of US aid to Israel go to them.

      If Mondoweiss wants to true diversity of opinion, it would do well to post and link to more of Ajl's writings, which provide a marxist perspective quite distinct from and critical of the Mearsheimer-Walt "realist" definition of "American interests" as "American empire."

    • That Tom Friedman supports Hagel's nomination should have been a tipoff that this is a meaningless controversy. But for a brilliant examination of precisely WHY it's meaningless, see Max Ajl's remarkable piece, "Why Chuck Hagel Is Irrelevant," at Jadaliyya:

      Stop looking for "good guys" or "moderately less awful guys"; follow the money.

  • Romney's racist bundler: J. Philip Rosen believes Palestinian society is 'pathological'
    • It's not like the London gaffe, and it's not a blunder: it's an audition for Sheldon Adelson and the other Zionist racists. And he passed with flying colors. What did he gain? Millions for deluging Florida, Ohio, Minnesota, Nevada with xenophobic lunacy. What did he lose? All those people out there who feel strongly that Palestinians are actual human beings who were still entertaining a vote for Romney. I.e., no one.

      But if he's the bad cop, Barry's the good cop, and they're both out to screw the indigenes on behalf of the colonists.

  • NY ads depicting Palestinian dispossession are termed anti-Semitic by 'Jewish community'
    • "He wanted to target Westchester because he was looking for 'high IQ readers.'”

      Uhh, say again? "Rich" = "high IQ"? Have you ever actually TALKED to anybody from Westchester? Dumberna sack'o'hair.

  • Finkelstein's critique misreads the special relationship and misunderstands political mobilization
    • Dear American,

      You're absolutely right. As someone recently said, "The question of the temporary or final resolution of the conflict is for Palestinians to decide" (Max Ajl, this column).

  • Let's praise Zengerle's profile of Beinart
    • "If we don't get rid of chattel slavery soon, it will corrupt the very core of Southern American democracy!" (Andrew Johnson).

      I made that up. But you really did get lots of moderate white Americans talking this way before the Civil War.

      The purely intra-Jewish quality of this whole article conveys a touchy-feely ethnic supremacism. And the reverential appearance, yet once more, of ex-prison camp guard Jeffrey Goldberg is a very bad sign. (Incidentally, that's the proper etiquette for referring to old Jeff, each and every time: "Ex prison-camp guard Jeffrey Goldberg." Really, he loves it. Trust me.)

  • Video: right-wing groups attack U.S. professors over Ilan Pappe speaking tour
    • The account for video production seems to be getting a little skimpy these days--to burnish the lie about Cal State Northridge (1:10), they should at least have cropped out the bit about USING THE CSU NAME to endorse a political action, which is not exactly the same thing as allowing someone to come on campus at CSU and endorse a political position. Also, the proportion of scarey-jihadi-Muslim Persian-Ayrabs to scarey-self-hating-diabolical Jews here (2/2) is getting a little low.

  • Ynet: Support for Israel on American campuses is kerplunking
    • It's certainly true on my campus, the University at Buffalo. The campus chapter of the ZOA imploded a few years back, and the local cadres of Zionist students and community members have sat out recent talks by Ilan Pappe, Ali Abunimah, Don Wagner, and Norman Finkelstein--making for a quieter but welcome dynamic. They seem to be circling the wagons and railing at the islamo-fascist-hamastinians in private.

      I'm not sure what to attribute this to: age, for one thing--the local haters are older every year, and their ranks are not being swelled by new recruits. Frankly, they seem a few bricks shy of a load--a couple years back, they thought it was a swell idea to invite the war criminal and racist Effie Eitam to campus, and they got their asses handed to them on several fronts.

  • Linda Gradstein: 'I'm not an Israeli citizen, but that being said, I'm part of Israel.'
    • Thanks for this piece, Pat--beautifully written and very important. As disgusting (and as expected) as NPR pandering is, it's interesting to hear that you weren't hissed for your question.


  • The 'special relationship' and the arms race
    • Mr. Blankfort's desire to disagree with Max Ajl seems to be independent of what Mr. Ajl has actually written. Ajl writes that the Israel Lobby "does indeed have something to do with . . . the 1996 Iran Libya Sanctions Act," and Blankfort proceeds to correct him by agreeing with him. Ajl says the Israel lobby has been arguing for "ratcheting up aggression against Iran," and Mr. Blankfort says he doesn't mention the Jewish political establishment has been propagandizing for an attack on Iran.

      Mr. Blankfort seems to be identifying "the Israel Lobby" with "the Jewish political establishment" and "the leading spokespersons and institutions of American Jewry." Though both Abe Foxman and Pat Buchanan might agree, most critics of the Israel Lobby note that it incorporates gentile neocons, politicians, defense contractors, Christian Zionists, and others. And many anti-Zionist Jews deny that neither the Israel Lobby nor the Jews who partly comprise it speak for them.

      Of the center of Mr. Ajl's argument about the relation of arms sales and American military capitalism to the occupation, Mr. Blankfort has nothing to say except that it's "otherwise worthwhile." Indeed, he seems to think that the purpose of "military spending" has been to provide "needed jobs," but that has never been the case. Its purpose is profits--enriching military capitalists. Blankfort doesn't understand where he agrees with Ajl, or where he disagrees. He just doesn't get it.

  • 'People who promoted the Iraq war ought to be so discredited that no one listens to them any more'
    • Richard Witty says: "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."


      JC: "Mother, sometimes you REALLY PISS ME OFF!"

      Mr. Witty: yes, after a megadeath and the destruction of our economy, those who lied and cheered Iraq and us into this horror might well want to look for a job other than "pundit" or "foreign policy adviser."

  • Jennifer Rubin's fast track to intolerance
    • Mr. Patrick B. Pexton
      The Washington Post

      Dear Mr. Pexton:

      As you probably know by now, your blogger, Ms. Jennifer Rubin, has approvingly retweeted Rachel Abrams' shockingly racist attack on the Palestinian people, which calls for genocide. Please explain to me your paper's policy on racist incitement, and whether or not there is a double standard whereby some groups are held to a higher standard than others. For instance, can you tell me what your response would be to a WP blogger who approvingly retweeted a posting calling the Israeli captors of Palestinian prisoners "Satan worshippers," and called for them to to be driven into the sea?

      Thanks for your time.
      James Holstun
      Professor of English
      SUNY Buffalo
      Thanks for writing, I am looking into this.

      Patrick B. Pexton
      Washington Post Ombudsman
      [email protected]

  • Americans who support Palestinian cause must be willing to lose friends
  • Don't just stand there, let's get to it, strike a pose, there's nothing to it
    • Tilda first caught my admiring eye when, playing Queen Isabelle, she bit out the jugular of one of King Edward's young lovers in Derek Jarman's amazing EDWARD II. I began loving her when she played Hope Kurtz in STRANGE CULTURE, the film about the federal persecution of my University at Buffalo colleague, Professor Steve Kurtz, who was absurdly accused of "bioterrorism" in the midst of the crazy days of the early oughts, which are still with us, of course.

      Make no mistake: by doing this, she loses jobs and loses real money. She won't starve, of course, but it's a genuine, principled stand. Any bets on who will follow? I'm giving odds on Viggo Mortensen.

  • Muslim and Christian cemeteries desecrated in Jaffa on eve of Yom Kippur

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