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Total number of comments: 11 (since 2009-09-13 18:07:45)


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  • Necessary Transformations: Ending the claim to exclusivity
    • The author asks, "what is specifically, exclusively Jewish about being ethical?" -- but I am not clear on where JVP or Ellis make any such claim. The claim "my Jewish ethics motivate my position on Palestine" does not entail the claim "only Jews have ethics." Obviously, when certain Muslims respond to violence committed by other Muslims by saying "Islam is peace," or "my values as a Muslim motivate me to condemn this violence," they should not be interpreted as saying "Islam is uniquely peaceful" or "Muslim values are exclusively non-violent." It should be needless to say that neither "Jewish values" nor "Muslim values" nor "Christian values" actually exist in the unitary way implied by these phrases. The range of "values" (or interpretations of what certain values mean in practice) within the sets of people identifying as Jewish, Christian, or Muslim is vast, encompassing practically every possible ethical disposition and its opposite simultaneously. The purpose of public declarations like "As a Jew raised with Jewish values..." or "My Muslim values..." is purely political: to displace the representational claims of co-religionists whose value-interpretations diverge from those of the speaker, and conversely to assert the legitimacy of the speaker's own value-set as representative of the religious tradition.

      One, therefore, should not take the public assertions of religious practitioners about the nature of their religious "communities" (or even claims that such "communities" exist) as factual claims to be assessed in light of empirical evidence, but as rhetorical and political claims in an intra-religious struggle over representation and the political effects of representation.

  • Sy Hersh's 'forbidden statement': Sanders's liberation from NY Jewish money could change US foreign policy
    • Phil, I honestly think you have been going off the rails lately. Not with your presentation of the facts about what this or that person said--those facts are important, and should be reported-- but with your adoption of the "Jewish money" frame. It's an anti-Semitic frame because it identifies the money of a necessarily small handful of right-wing Jews as "Jewish" money, whereas the money of Jews who give to left-wing causes is not called "Jewish" money. I realize the latter pales in magnitude compared with the former, but that doesn't make the money any more or less "Jewish." I'm a Jew. I give a significant amount of my meagre income to JVP and Bernie Sanders among other left-wing causes. There are thousands of American Jews who do likewise. Why isn't our money called "Jewish money"? Why is the money of Jews only called "Jewish money" when it goes to nefarious right-wing causes? Does that not strike you as playing into free-floating stereotypes that Jews are *by nature* tribalist, inhumane, and powerful--stereotypes I routinely see voiced in places like the If Americans Knew Facebook page?

  • Palestinians grapple with knife attacks as violence enters fifth month
    • I have to make a factual correction to this article: you have misread or misrepresented the poll you cite from the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center. Check it again. Here's what it says:

      Q3. To what extent do you support or oppose the continuation of knife
      attacks against Israelis?
      Total West Bank Gaza
      n= 1200 n= 750 n=450
      Strongly support 25.3 18.1 37.1
      Somewhat support 30.9 24.0 42.4
      Somewhat oppose 21.4 25.1 15.3
      Strongly oppose 19.7 28.8 4.4
      No answer 2.7 4.0 0.8

      In other words, only 41.1% of all Palestinians polled oppose the knife attacks, while 56.2% of them support the attacks. The support figures are much higher for Gaza and somewhat lower for the West Bank.

  • Roundtable on the Palestinian solidarity movement and Alison Weir
    • The third contribution is of laughably poor quality. It badly mischaracterizes the points made against Weir. Just take a look at the U.S. Campaign document and you'll see what I mean:

      I have spent more time than I'd like to admit reading and thinking about this issue from every angle, and I agree in essence with the first contribution. Still, I think there are at least a *few* stronger (if ultimately unconvincing) "pro-Weir" arguments that could have been made to even things out. As it stands, this roundtable is just an intellectual massacre.

  • Reactions to Ariel Sharon's death over social media (Updated)
  • NY synagogue's invitation to Geller to 'promote bigotry' elicits call to cancel event
    • Last night the "Young Friends of the National Museum of American Jewish History" in Philadelphia held a fundraising event called "Activism and Justice: An Evening with the Inspiring Simon Deng" ( Deng, as you probably know, is a recurring character in the Geller/Spencer anti-Muslim crusade. Here he is speaking at the Geller-sponsored "Islamic Apartheid" conference at Temple last year: YouTube him and you'll find other videos of him participating in Islamophobic/pro-Israel events sponsored by Geller and others.

  • '60 Minutes' report on 'Iron Dome' tonight likely to carry giant payload of hasbara
  • Why I'm for boycott
  • NYT's Jodi Rudoren responds to criticism of Facebook comments
    • I'm willing to accept that the intent of her original postings was the intent expressed in her clarification. The problem seems to be that she's just quite simply a subpar writer. Call it quibbling, but I don't think someone who writes "deep-seeded" when she means "deep-seated" should be a bureau chief for arguably the world's most important newspaper.

  • We're still losing
    • Well, to counterbalance, we held a Go and Learn session at a (yes, Reconstructionist, but still) synagogue last night that was attended by about 25 congregants, not a single one of whom expressed any Zionist hostility towards the BDS message we were delivering. The few critical responses were about strategy and effectiveness, not goals.

      Maybe it was a self-selected bunch of lefties, I don't know, but I felt it represented some kind of small progress.

  • Ron Paul and the left
    • Lizzy, say we assume the worst case scenario, which is that he is all three of those things--negligent with his imprimatur, cynical about his political allies, and at least racist and homophobic enough not to contemporaneously denounce the writings he likely knew were issued under his name. Say we assume that.

      Does it matter? When we elect a President, we don't elect a monarch or (contrary to popular belief among the Obama class) a moral philosopher. We elect an official with relatively limited powers, most of them in the realm of war and national security. It's highly unlikely that RP could implement his radical domestic agenda over Congressional opposition, but he WOULD prevent the brutal, violent deaths of maybe hundreds of thousands of Middle Easterners and South Asians. And isn't it a bit narcissistic of us to be obsessing over the (alleged) racism and the economic policy when so much is at stake in other parts of the world?

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