Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 4020 (since 2009-11-18 22:41:33)


I'm retired after teaching philosophy for some decades. I am a secular Christian, very interested in biblical scholarship, with decent Greek but must learn some Hebrew. Rather obsessed with ancient multiculturalism and belief that Palestine was always multicultural and multiracial, while Jewish cultural influence in the wider ancient world was greater than is supposed.

Showing comments 4020 - 4001

  • Like it or not, Obama is a liberal Zionist
    • It cannot be assumed of any rational person that (s)he will honour an agreement accepted under extreme duress and perpetuating suffering and radical unfairness.
      I didn't say that I sympathised with the Israeli hard men: they speak for cruelty and injustice. I just think that they are right to say that there is no easy way out based on an agreement extracted from the Palestinians under extreme duress, permitting the fruits of injustice (or at least what must seem to the Palestinians to be injustice) to be enjoyed for ever and sanctifying permanent inequality of rights. Do you for your part really see this as a foundation of peace?

    • I think that it will take a lot more than another UN resolution to enforce a 2ss. Obama is certainly a liberal Zionist and 2ss believer.
      We do see clearly how O-style Zionism is absolutely not based on equal rights, despite its sentimentalism over sweet little children of all races and religions. The Israeli children have the right to the protection of a sovereign state, the Palestinian children have not: this is not spelled out by O, I accept, but it is surely conveyed. The Netanyahu conditions of no defence, control of airspace (he would surely add no effective control of borders) and no alliances are not challenged.
      A State in this degree of vassalage would not really be a State, since it would by design open at every point of space and time to the violent attentions of a neighbour. In this condition it could not speak freely on the international scene, could not apply educational policies of its own choosing and could not in any serious degree dissociate itself economically from the people who constantly have them and their sweet little children under the gun. Perhaps there would be fewer checkpoints but in a sense even they could not go away. There would have, one way and another, have to be as much security as there is now against militants and malcontents. You may say that all these problems would be swept away by a wave of prosperity, but that is quite a gamble.
      I do in a sense see the point made by the Israeli hardliners. Without all these restrictions an independent Palestine would start and would continue, little by little, to erode the current Israeli military superiority and to render the much-cherished nukes useless, since you can't use the things at close quarters. A period of calm produced by economic growth, even it really happened, would in the longer term be as dangerous as immediately fierce antagonism. It would give the Palestinians self-confidence, money to bargain with and an ever- increasing sense of entitlement to be there, ie to scorn the Zionist claim to unique rights in the Holy Land. And that is simply not compatible with Israeli security. The only acceptable Palestine is one formed of enclaves (what George Bush called Swiss cheese) which could, if there was serious trouble, be cleared.
      I would even accept the Israeli hardline claims that they have not withheld 2ss out of malice - it's not that they positively want anyone to suffer - but out of the logic of the situation. As a long-term arrangement the 2ss is hardly possible - it is an illusion based on distance from the situation and on mere sentimentality. The short term is another matter.

  • Kim Philby's last straw
    • He may indeed have had pro-'Arab' sympathies inculcated, though I think his dad was actalally a convert to Islam and he never was, which indicates some significant father-son divergence. But he was a master of disguise and evasion and I would be surprised if he would have given himself away by writing unmistakably pro-Soviet propaganda. I suspect he just reported with a certain amount of objectivity and that many journalists and diplomats did exactly the same for decades. For the same length of time Zionist fanatics like Margaret Thatcher, sitting in London, saw this as anti-Semitism.

    • The main ideas of the Protos about allegedly nefarious tecniques of influencing public opinion through the press come, almost verbatim I understand, from a pamphlet called Dialogue in Hell written to discredit not Jews but Napoleon III, who had magically converted an idealistic Republic into a cynical Empire. It was the proof of verbatim copying, and of non-Jewish origin, that got the Protos discredited in their turn. They may still be a cogent analysis of how cynical manipulation of opinion works. Be that as it may they also certainly stand as proof that protest against manipulation can be horrendously manipulative.

    • It would be surprising if Philby, a great deceiver, would have given himself away by writing reports that would reveal Soviet sympathies. He must have been aware to some degree of the shift in left wing Jewish opinion towards Israel. In 45 Jewish voters were responsible for giving us our last Commie MP, Phil Piratin (Phil the Pirate, as I like to think of him) - by 59 they were responsible for unseating Maurice Orbach, a Labour critic of Israel's participation in the Suez venture, even though he was a proclaimed Zionist.
      Philby must have been aware of the danger of antagonising former friends, aware of (at least) incautious remarks in the very different world of the anti-fascist 30s.
      It would be interesting to compare his reports with those of other British journalists at the time: my suspicion is that you wouldn't find that much difference, though perhaps I'm wrong.
      Perhaps it's less a case of one crucial denunciation motivated by politics than a case of a career of deception whose time was over, everyone who knew him coming to see him for what he was.

    • The anti-fascist alliances of the 1930s created many strange bedfellows, I think.

  • The grotesque injustice of Obama's speech at the Washington synagogue
    • I guess - just a guess pending the evidence, memoirs and all that; well, I suppose they'll not settle anything either - that Obama went through three stages. In the first he sympathised with the Palestinians rather as we do now.
      In the second, as he advanced in the political world, he met and became friendly with the main supporters of Zionism, many of them Jewish, and saw in them people of highly progressive mind and genuine humanity: I don't say this with any kind of sneer. He determined that the way forward was to fix things up with these reasonable forces and he received many assurances that it would be done from people who mentioned Netanyahu's name with a kind of fastidious shudder. Obama is the kind of person who believes above all in civilised dialogue and reasonable compromise. The problem is that no reasonable compromise has ever been found in the ME except for the 2ss which resists even approximately agreed definition.
      Then came the campaign against Hillary Clinton and the Jeremiah Wright issue, ie the issue of those who say plainly that no reasonable compromise is in sight and therefore use disturbing language. This was the moment of truth: sympathy for the Palestinians at the cost of disturbing words or reassuring words at the cost of distance from a cause he had long considered to be just? Obama manoeuvred brilliantly, left Clinton flat-footed, gained the world and lost his soul -the breach with Wright, the once-beloved pastor, being a kind of religious disillusion and mutation of worldview. At the time I thought he was being clever.
      However the fact that this latest speech is detested by the likes of us while seeming, I'm sure, perfectly sensible and all in a day's statesmanlike work to the huge majority of people, just shows what a bunch of misfits and moral oddballs we still are, making visible progress only in universities, which aren't normal places.

  • Pro-Israel wealthy Jews feature in 'Forward,' Christie roast, and U of Michigan censorship
    • I've perhaps said this so often as to be boring: no one has authority in matters of definition. There's no such thing as 'the definition' that everyone ought to accept. There may be commonly accepted definitions but there is no obligation to use them: you may think they are confusing or self-contradictory. The only obligation is to make oneself clear.
      For my part, Anti-Semitism is prejudice against at least some things characteristically Jewish. Being a form of prejudice, it is irrational. I claim that anti-Zionism is rational, therefore not in itself an expression of prejudice, therefore not (other things being equal) anti-Semitic in my terms. My terms are of course 'loaded' - ie an evaluation (negative) of anti-S is built in (which is quite legitimate).
      If anti-Semitism is defined as hostility to some things done by people who are Jewish it follows that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic since many Jewish people are involved in putting Zionism into effect. But then anti-Semitism may on this definition be, if some Jewish people are in fact doing something wrong, quite rational. That is to say that this a non-loaded or neutral definition, also legitimate.
      On the ADL definition anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism unless it is 'because they are Jewish', not solely because they act unjustly or cause great suffering, that Zionists are opposed.
      The main rhetorical trick is to slip unnoticed between neutral and loaded definitions. The main sign of honesty in such matters is to say what you mean, stick to it and not import value-judgements half way through the discussion that were not there at the beginning.
      Description of people as 'anti-Semites' is almost never, in my experience, accompanied by a statement of what the word means to the person using it.

  • Besieged in Gaza from birth to death
    • That's really good question: my idea would be that the resources for a huge population transfer don't exist and that there is little point in minor transfers, since the departing population might get replaced by newborns and the problem continue. All forms of transfer, from the most unthinkably brutal to the most compensatory and consensual - though you do hear 'pay them to leave' from time to time - would cost staggering heaps of gold. Receiving countries too would have to be paid off. Even the accompanying propaganda effort would have to be on the grandest and most expensive and most prolonged scale. The costs of 'continuing negotiations' are probably trivial in comparison.

  • Obama equates Israel's creation to African-Americans gaining right to vote
    • Quite so, can. The mind boggles at the idea of a Black State in America where the remaining whites had to go to work through checkpoints.
      Some have noted that O is sending a gentle (indeed cloyingly sentimental: 'care about kids'; O mi God!) message to people who pride themselves on not being gentle with those who question their proudly asserted rights and hard as nails security system.There's a sort of wilful ineffectuality here. And he's the most powerful man in the mondo.
      O is of course the heir of the postwar Protestant theology which did enfold Zionism and Civil Rights into one wildly inconsistent but proudly proclaimed package. The main leader was Reinhold Niebuhr, the main practical exponent Martin Luther King - they had pale shadows in the UK who misled me in my youth. I am sure that this is the theology that tells Obama that he is the good servant of Almighty God.

    • How we define 'levels of anti-S' depends in part on how we understand anti-S itself, something that those who make these complaints hardly ever tell us.
      To me it means 'prejudice (irrational sentiment) against at least some things characteristically Jewish'.
      We have just had an election where one of the main party leaders was Jewish in background - the loser admittedly, the winner being vaguely Christian and very emphatically Zionist. The re-elected Speaker of the House of Commons is (I think) also of Jewish family. The Father of the House, who presides over the election of the Speaker, is Jewish.
      There was a survey of Jewish voters during the campaign showing that they offer 2:1 support to the Conservative Party, an indication of a reasonably favourable position in the class system. These are not straws in an anti-S wind.
      I do not think that there is any statistical or rational argument for the idea that our fellow citizens who are Jewish are in an endangered or even a difficult position in respect of crime or in respect of general life-chances.

  • Israeli military attacks Nakba Day protests with live fire
    • Like abc I don't think Fifa could possibly have the integrity to give a moral lead.

  • What if the Times had sent Rudoren to Selma in 1965?
    • I'm sure you're right, Donald, that distraction and change of subject is a standard part of rhetoric in unjust causes. I haven't got the fortitude to bandy words with some of the bad rhetoricians here but I do sometimes want to say something to back up those like yourself or Andrew R whose fortitude exceeds mine.

    • Acts in the distant past are not necessarily excluded from the category of crimes. I grew up with the idea, right or wrong, that the 'barbarian' invasions of the fifth and sixth centuries were criminal and the 'Viking' invasions of later days even more so. King Alfred, who led the resistance to the Vikings, is still our only monarch customarily called 'Great' - my English ancestors probably thought this title deserved, though I suspect that my Welsh ancestors by contrast considered the Vikings to be liberators. The English-Welsh conflict took near a thousand years to settle.
      I believe that it is quite important to think through some of the moral problems which arose in the distant past: the past is most definitely not another country where moral categories do not apply.
      The true contrast is not between the conflicts of old time and the conflicts of recent days but between conflicts that have been settled over time, in the sense that there are now no armies in the field and no one is now a refugee or a disfranchised person or one excluded from claimed property because of them, and by contrast conflicts where people are still in these horrible conditions.
      Our ancestors were not so different from us as not to know that marauding, invasion and slaughter were hideous crimes though like us they thought that there were exceptions based on self-defence and ideology, usually special divine decree.

    • I think that Donald is right that the likes of us will continually be described as anti-Semites but very rarely will that remark be accompanied by a statement of what 'anti-Semite' means to the person who uses the term. Under certain definitions we are anti-Semites, as under the morally trivial 'opposed to certain activities of certain people who are Jewish'. The triviality of this can be seen by the fact that Israel must be solidly anti-Semitic in this sense, in that all Israelis must find themselves opposed to some activity by some of the Jewish people around them - in the same way England would have to be the capital of Anglophobia.

  • Adelson primary heats up -- fawning George Bush gives him a painting of his casino
    • I must congratulate the Pope on annoying the craziest among my fellow-Protestants. Mind you, I don't think that he has extended full diplomatic recognition to Palestine.

  • Bulldozers demolish a mosque in 'unrecognized' village of 14,000 near Beersheba
    • Obama's remarks cast a chill, don't they - we 'have worked over the years'! Nothing to show for it. The chariots of wrath rumble on. We have to find ways to keep going and keep going down the long road.

  • Putting Israel's cynical humanitarian work in Nepal in the proper context
    • If individuals have a set of rights which are absolute it follows that there cannot exist another set of rights - either by implication from the first or on an independent basis - in conflict, even potential conflict, with the first.
      I accept that some might say that social contracts set up for the protection of rights must limit (render non-absolute) the rights that they protect. Before the contract a cavewoman who had killed a mammoth had a right to as much of the carcass as she could cook over the fire or make into an ornament - after the contract she might have to hand over a tusk to the Cave Queen as a tax payment.
      Even if this is so, the terms of the social contract - subjection to the law in return for franchise - clearly prohibit any subgroup from restricting franchise to itself without general consent. The people who live in the most damp caves cannot insist that only they are consulted about fire-lighting policy.

  • It’s time to boycott Ben & Jerry’s
    • Eljay's examples are genuine and chilling but I think that they all amount to justification rather than what I would call denial, comparable to the real-thing denial that the neo-Nazis bring to the sufferings of Jewish people in WW2.

    • The Nakba is rather hard to deny, in the sense that lots of people obviously left and never came back. Great efforts are made in many places, Mondoweiss included, to justify it, though I can never bring myself to read more than a few words of such stuff. Imagine what the reaction would be to someone's attempting to say 'the Holocaust did indeed happen but there were, you know, adequate reasons for it'.

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  • Settlers Supporting Settlers: Towards an explanation of the US/Israel relationship
    • Jews have lived in Palestine for a long time, though the criteria for being Jewish, whether as applied to themselves or to neighbours by people living in Palestine at different times or as applied by us looking back at earlier times, have changed. A subject of the Jerusalem monarchy in 600 BCE would have been rather different in religion and morality from a Jewish citizen of Jerusalem now. If evolving groups with long histories are to be considered important the non-Jewish presence in the historic homeland of so many non-Jews must be important too.

    • The fact that the darker side of American (and British) history is quite widely discussed in itself shows that people do care about such things. If Israel kept no one who is subject to its sovereign power in disfranchised state things now would be very different - as they would be different if all Native Americans were kept on 19th-century style 'reservations' and not allowed full US citizenship.

    • I think that most societies (my own English society not excepted) are marked by some evils in their past and that most people are a bit too ready to excuse evils that are part of 'their' history. Some better things too, of course. The important thing is to put things inherited from the past as close to right in the present as is possible. In this, the first step is to accord everyone their basic human rights, including the right to be an enfranchised citizen/subject of a sovereign power.
      I sometimes imagine scenes of horror from the fifth century migrations and conflicts in England and think that it's likely that I am descended from the participants on both sides, who might all have found the idea of having descendants in common inconceivable. There can be agreements and understandings as well as conflicts. There are some very bad things in the history of the United States but it is also true that the United States has progressed and has more or less eliminated race-based disfranchisement, even set a good example to others in that respect.

    • Though I would have used the term 'settler' for anyone who intended to stay permanently, even if in a peaceful and honest fashion, I'm very happy to accept your definition for the purposes of this discussion. I quite agree with your dismissal of far-right imaginings.

    • I can see that many people believe in a right to maraud, conquer and dispossess and that people who recall a fairly recent exercise of that supposed right by fairly close forebears may believe in it more strongly. If there is a feeling of barely suppressed guilt - which does often accompany firm assertions of right - then it will be assuaged by looking at other apparently successful examples of the same behaviour. Apparent success in conquest is quite important in explaining why some people whose grandparents may have had no love for Jews now cherish an exuberant love for Israel. There is also the sub-theme that Israel has got many Jews out of the hair of the West, just as the suspicious grandparents would have wanted. I hope that I don't sound as if I'm sneering from a distance at people in Nebraska: I don't think attitudes are that different elsewhere in the English-speaking world.
      I'm not so sure about the emphasis on the word 'settler' - first, what does it mean? Is a settler of a different species from an immigrant? Are the desperate people from sub-Saharan Africa sailing the Mediterranean waters in the hope of finding work in England settlers, or would-be settlers? If there is some suggestion of a duty 'not to settle' outside one's home country I would not agree with that. I think that settling elsewhere is a natural, beneficial and morally permissible activity. It's violent dispossession that is wrong and the ideologies that support it that should be questioned pressingly.

  • In Israel, racism is standard procedure
    • The Church in Wales is what's left of the formerly established Anglican Church in that territory. It was 'disestablished' by Act of Parliament under the (our last) Liberal government in 1914. Lloyd George was not yet Prime Minister but he was the leading light in this respect. The lawyers say that the CiW has not been 'completely disestablished', which is why it is covered by the ban on gay marriage in the CofE. The Archbishop of Wales has objected to this - though there are to be loopholes in the law not available in England - since his branch of the Church is rather liberal and I know for a fact that some gay clergy would prefer to work in Wales.
      The Church of Scotland, which is Presbyterian, is very much the Established Church north of the border. There is no royal nomination to offices in the CofS, except for a Commissioner wo formally attends the General Assembly, but in the CofE the Bishops and many others are still officially nominated by the Prime Minister acting for the Queen as supreme over the Church, though these days things are done through selection committees as for a 'normal job'. David Cameron did ask for the committee to forward two names for Archbishop of Canterbury to him for final choice.
      The eventual nominee, Justin Welby, seems close in spirit to the PM's proclaimed Zionism. He made a great virtue of squashing an outspoken anti-Zionist priest, Stephen Sizer who had got involved in Mossad 9/11 'conspiracies' and all that.

    • The question of integrated schools is mentioned. Yesterday I was at an event celebrating one of them, called Oasis of Peace, which has existed and promoted dialogue since 72. Our dialogue was to be on Law and Morality in the ME. I wish we could have flown Hostage over. The event introduced me to British Liberal Zionism, so liberal that the underlying validity of Zionism was hardly affirmed, though it was not questioned explicitly. Discussion concentrated, amid some agony, on the proportionate (or not) nature of the Gaza onslaught. It was dominated by an obviously brilliant law professor, Janina Dill. She has little doubt, I think, that the onslaught was illegal and for good measure spoke of the dire effects of the settlements. She expressed surprise that there is so much support for the settlers in the Israeli legal profession and judiciary.
      I may seem to be going off the point but it seems to me that here we have two highly intelligent people, Ms. Marcus and Dr. Dill, to whom phenomena that are quite obviously to be expected, petty apartheid at parties and ruthless politics beneath the charming and liberal-toned veneer of professional and academic gatherings, come as a bit of a surprise and a setback. Their own liberalism and human sympathy mislead them, perhaps into hoping that a few more steps towards togetherness and integration, both between Israelis and Palestinians and Israelis and westerners, will make everything all right. The Oasis of Peace dialogue meanwhile seems to have been in progress for 40 years and come to no conclusions.
      Another speaker was Imam Monawar Hussein, Her Majesst's Deputy representative in Oxfordshire, standing in at the last minute and unable to do more, with so little preparation time, than to speak up for liberal Islam.

  • An open letter to Pamela Geller
    • The pathos in the frame where 'we find your actions mean-spirited' is very moving.

  • Netanyahu appoints Ayelet Shaked—who called for genocide of Palestinians—as Justice Minister in new government
    • I share your views about the horror and hatefulness of certain historical events. Hobbes' view is that horrible things are not necessarily, simply because they are horrible and cruel, contrary to moral law, which would make it our moral duty to punish (if necessary to destroy) the perpetrator and those who are on his side, because that would lead to endless exchange of horrible actions and to the death of everyone. If Attila has behaved atrociously with the support of most of the Huns, it is not our duty to destroy hundreds of thousands of Huns. It is our duty to set up a system, if this is at all possible, which will bind both us and the Huns and prevent atrocities in the future, ie to wage war with the aim of peace.
      Hobbes didn't know about Goebbels but he was thinking of Thucydides' portrait of Athenian democracy and the excesses for which it was responsible under the impulse of fear. I do think that this is a defensible theory of war and peace and a perceptive view of history. It is not an incitement to cruelty but an effort to deal with its horrors without getting involved in a cycle of cruelty and revenge.
      I think that the first few chapters of Leviathan are among the most powerful philosophical arguments ever written. I don't know if you've had a look at them? That's not to say that I think that they are the last word.
      If you are ready to say 'I play this game like Attila the Hun' then you have no right to respond moralistically if someone plays on the other side in the same spirit.

    • The Hobbesian view of war where 'nothing can be unjust' is a defensible one and in a way it would be a relief if Israeli leaders adopted it clearly and consistently, getting rid of the false moralism in which Palestinian attacks are appalling terrorism, Israeli attacks on a massively greater scale are part of the world's most moral form of conflict.
      I think Shaked is not (as yet) calling for a war of extermination but for a ruthless war. She still may not accept the other side of Hobbes' argument, ie that the intention behind war, however ruthless, must always be peace. Again it would in a way be a relief if Israel abandoned all that 'most moral' stuff and simply said that it was playing to win by whatever means necessary and defined the objectives that would constitute winning. That would at least end the maddening fake negotiations where there are never any proposals. But Israel's Western allies and patrons insist on the ambiguities and euphemisms by which Shaked claims she is infuriated. So of course do the liberal Zionists who are for ever on the verge of burning their passports.

  • 'NY Review of Books' says Tony Judt didn't really mean it when he called for the end of a Jewish state
    • Quite so.

    • Freeland seems to say that Judt, in the light of his implying that he would have used less vehement language for a British audience, was revealing not only that his intention was to shock a specifically American audience out of its complacency but also that he wanted, by this shock, to warn of what would happen were the 2ss to fail. The first of these points is credible enough, but it concerns changes of tone and style, not of substance: that doesn't in fact mean that Judt was not firmly attached to his apparent 1ss preferences.
      It doesn't even prove that he wasn't dogmatic in the sense of refusing to listen to counterarguments: I think that in fact he wasn't, but this seems to be generally agreed in any event and does not need to be demonstrated by what he said to Freeland. So far, though, this doesn't discredit Freeland: by assuring us that Judt was undogmatic he may indeed be encouraging his liberal Zionist readers to consider afresh what Judt had to say.
      His further statement is that Judt is trying to warn of what would happen if the 2ss collapsed. Does this misrespresent Judt's explicit statements not that the 2ss might soon but that it had already come to the point of collapse: very different? Judt's tone at this point is not 'vehement' but rather reserved and Anglo: 'I suspect that it is too late': for this he goes on to give reasons. Freeland interprets 'I suspect it is too late' as 'For God's sake don't let it be too late!' I suppose that this is within the possible range of intended effects of the words. But I don't think that the context gives Freeland any support: and without that support, I think it is Freeland who is being dogmatic.
      I don't admire Judt's analysis as much as most do - that's to say that his basic idea that the 2ss was possible at one time is in my view quite misleading.

  • Spanish Jews resisted oppression in tunnels and, exiled, clutched their keys
    • My impression is that modern studies don't regard Ferdinand as all that innocent - LP Harvey on Muslims of Spain from 1500 for example. Still, thanks for pointing out that he often seems to have been a nicer guy than was Isabella or than were the clerics, seemingly often of converso families, who were so keen to inflict the same humiliations that their ancestors had suffered on others. Mind you, Machiavelli (as I remember) thought Ferdinand was the supreme example of a foxy politician.
      I'm sure that the Muslim population of Spain was various in many ways and I expect you know more about them than I do. I think that the various changes of fortune were about disunity on the losing side.
      But whatever may be true of them I think that there are such things as conquests and conquering groups and resulting oppression. The original conquering group may be joined in their ideology by some of the conquered and oppressed, who may even have invited them in in the first place. Those who join a conquering group become, whatever their ancestry, part of that group, for good or ill, in moral rights and responsibilities.

    • The Spanish proposal is rather strange, in that the numbers of those who are descended from at least one Jewish person expelled in 1492 would be huge and would include many not considering themselves Jewish.
      The rules seem to be that expelled persons and refugees and their descendants do have a right of return until they accept citizenship elsewhere, since this citizenship must surely be on the same terms as for the previous people of the new polity. If a Palestinian refugee becomes a UK citizen I think (s)he has in morality exactly the same rights as I do, neither more nor less - which do not include a right to move to and be enfranchised in Palestine.
      An act of generosity by the former expelling state is possible, of course, giving the opportunity of return to those not morally entitled to it because of full citizenship in another place. But this should not prejudice the position of those who might, in the circumstances of these days, have a better right to immigrate.
      Former marauders and conquerors and indeed people who join with the conquerors to the detriment of their neighbours do not, if they are eventually expelled, have the same rights as former peaceful residents who become refugees. This is because might never creates rights.
      It can be that the conquerors are eventually accepted by a genuine agreement or treaty - and this was what happened to the Muslims of Granada, who were offered peaceful acceptance in the newly state by the Spanish Crown - by the 'Catholic Kings', more exactly - in the 1491 Treaty of Granada. Both the breach of this agreement and the previous expulsion of the Jews were acts of treachery by King Ferdinand. But then he had his historic mission, not unlike that of Zionists now: there was no other way to re-create the united Catholic Kingdom of Spain and to make it a real force in the world.

  • 'Israel assassinated my son in cold blood': Hundreds mourn Palestinian teen killed while walking near separation wall
    • It sounds as if Professor Schweber is influenced by Freud's 'Moses and Monotheism' , where there is comparable language - including 'barbarous Semites' as I remember - even though Freud also thinks that Jewish culture is in some strange parallel ways the highest and most advanced of all.

  • Avi Shlaim on liberal Zionism, the 'dead' two-state solution, and colonial pizza
    • Just to add: there was little stir in Church circles. I presume Mr. Sizer had discouraging legal advice.
      The Bishop began by absolving S of anti-Semitism - why then such a fierce penalty? If the Bishop's disclaimer were not to be believed, it would follow that (if we assume that S spoke from prejudice) that prejudice against Israel is taken as prejudice against Jewish people - ie the 'anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism' argument triumphs massively.

    • There was an article in the Church Times, 'the leading Anglican newspaper', on Feb.15 last, easily available, which gives the full details. Sizer has been absolutely crushed, humiliated - near destroyed, I think - with the fullest publicity by a Bishop whose reason was 'the rising tide of anti-Semitic incidents'. I do not think that the Bishop acted constitutionally: Sizer did not insist on his day in court. I don't see how a priest whose conscience has been so overridden can continue his work in the Lord's name with any confidence. A remarkable, rather unexpected and absolutely total triumph for British Christian Zionism.
      Appointments in the CofE require (more or less) the cooperation of a 'patron', the local Bishop and the local Parochial Church Council, patron and Bishop often being the same. I am sure that there is no such combination interested in offering alternative employment to Mr. Sizer: your church would cease to exist (well, that's a bit melodramatic but you know what I mean) within six months.
      Sizer's offence was to give an appearance of sympathy to Mossad-related 9/11 'conspiracy theories'. I have never felt any sympathy with these, really. I'm a bit of a sucker for official accounts of things - I even still think Shakespeare was right about Richard III and the princes in the Tower. Other Mondoweissers may be ashamed of me. Despite my difference of sympathy I still feel that there is a moral enormity in the way Mr.Sizer has been treated. Anti-Semitism in the UK may be very bad, but it is not a completely dominant matter compared with the sufferings and cruelties in Palestine.

    • Why not, indeed, even put a proposal on the table which the world could evaluate, which the Palestinians could say was inadequate and thoroughly unjust? Why, in other words, are the negotiations designed to be endless? I've often referred to Richard Ben Cramer's 'How Israel Lost' and its description, never superseded I think, of the idea of 'living without a solution'. Mind you, I think Israel has gained a lot and lost little, except the esteem of a certain minority in the West, over the decade since the late lamented RBC wrote.

    • Geographically, GB + I, politically at the moment RoI + UK.
      I would think that any final settlement in the ME will include a 2-state phase, at least if it is in any way at all 'negotiated', even in the most cosmetic and unreal kind of negotiations. If the movement is towards a just and equal 1-state there will have. in order avoid unmanageable tensions, to be a transition period in which there is a Jewish and a non-Jewish majority in different areas. If the movement is towards the final transfer of the Palestinian population there will have to be autonomous areas of a kind which are gradually cleared as the funds for this become available.

  • Obama's role model to journalists -- Dorothy Thompson -- turned against Zionism and was silenced
  • Is there room for liberal Zionists in an anti-Zionist movement?
    • A raging victory, like Chuchill? Churchill, having led the nation to victory, suffered a raging defeat in 1945, He won in 51 but not in very raging style - he led the Conservatives into acceptance, lasting until Thatcher, of the socialist reforms of the postwar years. Just saying.

  • Forgiving the anti-Semites
    • Who could imagine that the whole of the scriptures are a commentary on the Silver Rule (don't do what you wouldn't want done to you')? And only on the Silver Rule, with no direct reference to God?
      This very strange and cryptic remark is set in a story, itself strange, about communicating Jewish law and ethics and about the difference between lenient and strict interpretations. Hillel is talking to a non-Jewish prospective convert. I rather think that the neighbours are not humanity in general or Jewish people in general but the students of the biblical texts: the teacher must not, in interpreting the law, make demands on others that he would hate to have made on himself, thus crushing their spirit. The convert - and prospectively all non-Jewish people who are ready to do all that intellectual work - are being offered a place in this intimate and kindly family. It's not a very political statement.
      I think that this approach to ethics, with its demand for study, may be a reply to the 'summary of the law' attributed to Jesus by some Christians in which the disposition of the heart is everything.

  • AIPAC-backed legislation targeting BDS movement advances in Congress
    • Wanting something with whatever strength of emotion does not give you a right to it: there could be no conceivable morality on that basis. If you think you should have something you have to explain why your desire for it should be satisfied: that means giving a reason, not just saying or saying again and again that you do in fact want it.
      My definition of 'historic homeland of a certain group' would be 'place where many of their ancestors lived'. There is no reason why there shouldn't be more than one such for any one group or why, more importantly, the same place should not be the historic homeland of several groups of people. More importantly yet, the idea has absolutely no moral implications. Nothing is owned by someone now simply because owned by ancestors, because part of the essence of ownership is that it can be transferred, and no one is part of a certain social contract because several ancestors were. An individual enters a social contract only by express or tacit consent on their own part, tacit consent meaning what is implied by normal, unremarked participating in the relevant activities. All this is explained by Locke, whose work is the locus classicus.
      There can be no intelligible social contract without mutual trust, the heart of the matter. This of course implies that there can be no right for some participants, however linked between themselves, to exclude others and in the process become solely dominant.
      If you reject social contract theory there is an alternative, traditionally expressed as the theory of overriding divine prescription. This can be transformed into a non-religious form, perhaps as an existentialist claim to an overriding right in the name of survival, but this has no special connection with historical residence and suchlike.
      All this historic homeland stuff amounts to arrant Nakba justification and should have no place here.

  • Thorny issues
    • Yes, it seems that there can be no acceptance of a right for non-Jewish people to live in Palestine that is in any way comparable with Jewish 'birthright' as it is now generally called. Any acceptance along those lines would really make nonsense of Zionism. The Palestinians have to go, nothing else will do. Of course they must, except in extreme circumstances which it is hoped to avoid, go by agreement: the questions are putting exerting enough pressure to make them do something that can be called agreeing and then finding enough money. so far not available, to fund what would need to be called a 'generous' resettlement scheme, marking the whole outcome as in everyone's long-term interest.
      There is a kind of exception: when the process of population transfer is well-advanced it will stop and a very small minority will be invited and encouraged to stay once there is no threat to security. This is because one of the natural manifestations of birthright, at least in a morally developed personality, is free-willed generosity to those less fortunate, which is why property and charity are so closely linked. There will be a great, award-winning Museum of Palestinian Culture - it will have the best relevant archive in the world - and melancholy reflection, perhaps by major writers with a good chance of a Nobel Prize, on how sad it was for the Palestinians to be born where they had no right to be.

  • 'Celebration of ethnic cleansing is intolerable': Baltimore JVP crashes 'Israeli Independence Day' party
    • That Jewish Voice is being raised with some brio! That it was possible to carry this protest off shows something about the development in public opinion. I think it would have been regarded as so way-out and crazy that no one would have attempted it a few, only a few, years ago. However, the political class remains unmoved and impervious.

  • In defense of Cornel West's prophetic voice
    • I think that the vital influence came from Niebuhr, the main thinker in the post-war liberal Protestantism that folded Zionism in a warm embrace. Whatever its reasons King's Zionism stands on the record, though I think he refrained from adding that anti-Zionism was anti-Semitism. It was becoming a very important issue to him, threatening to split his movement and to bring him to a parting of the ways with the increasingly pro-Palestine and increasingly Marxist Stokely Carmichael. King's reaction was much more pragmatic than prophetic. It's important also that the overwhelmingly accepted view of the civil rights movement says 'King good, Carmichael bad' and I think that this consensus has left a deep mark on Black politics and on academic figures like West and Dyson.

    • It's a bit hard to identify points at issue. Obama is a bone of contention but over what policies does the contention really arise? Palestine perhaps, but the Palestine problem seems to play only a fleeting part, with too little attention if it is to be the real crux. I suspect that both West and Dyson share humane concern with Palestine but also share, perhaps as their main point of agreement, a very high view of Martin Luther King as the true prophetic voice. But then their own tongues must be weighed down by King's commitment, at least in his later days, to Zionism in unequivocal form.

  • Jews of France: should they stay or should they go?
    • Maybe that is so, though not central to the argument. I didn't say that an idea that would save some lives is always in this hard world a good idea.
      I had a look at the international homicide figures compiled by a UN agency interested in the effects of gangs, drugs and so on. They're on Wikipedia somewhere: it's pointed out that definitions of homicide are necessarily consistent across the world.
      The rate per 100,000 per year was 4.7 in the US, 1 in France and 1.8 in Israel. The editors commented that this would go down to 1.7 if the victims of one particularly bad attack in the year concerned were omitted. There was a separate and much higher figure for Palestine. If I've misremembered by a small amount forgive me.
      If there were residents of this trio of countries considering changing residence within the same trio and with the primary purpose of minimising their risk of homicide - a very unrealistic idea, but I hope acceptable for these purposes - then they would all go to France. France would have to be congratulated in providing the least lethal environment for all its residents, not excluding Jewish people or those of Muslim faith. Unless, that is, they considered the differences not enough to be statistically significant and the basis of a rational decision. The same result would ensue if their primary purpose was to avoid being responsible for homicide.

    • The occurrence of some serious crimes directed at members of group A in society B do not of themselves prove that being in A in B-land is more dangerous in general than being just anyone in that country or that As do not have excellent prospects there. It may be that, even as some bad incidents occur, As have higher levels of education, greater levels of residency in low-crime neighbourhoods and significant esteem from the rich and powerful.
      I don't believe that there is as yet a statistically valid argument for anyone to move, for safety and wellbeing, from any Western country for reasons of race.
      Perhaps I could wish that there were a valid argument for Jewish people in the West to call for an end to Gaza calamities in their own self-interest: such an argument might actually save some lives. On the other hand it's not particularly wonderful to save some lives by dwelling on threats to the wellbeing of others. I'd rather seek support from all quarters on the valid moral grounds that certainly do exist.

  • Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: An argument
    • Indeed, I don't see how the Dahiya doctrine as stated, with its key words 'villages' (rather than military formations or structures) and 'disproportion' (rather than 'limit') can possibly imply anything other than targeting non-combatants. They deserve it apparently.

    • This is a very meaty argument - just a preliminary point about how people don't always think through what their definitions of words amount to. I'm sure that the official US government definition was indeed framed with an eye to protecting the reputation of governments and to making insurgents look bad - but it does not fully succeed in either respect.
      If terrorism exists when there is an attack on non-combatants by clandestine agents then governments can certainly be terrorists in the sense required because they are known, the US and UK and Israel being no exception, to employ clandestine agents in quite a big way.
      The emphasis on 'subnational groups' means that if any attack is perpetrated openly - nothing clandestine - by insurgents representing a genuinely national, rather than sub-national group, then there is no terrorism. Therefore much would turn on whether the Palestinians were a nation or a sub-nation. That might sound slightly ridiculous or trifling but if we are to operate this definition it is an important question.
      Something might depend on what 'clandestine' means. Drone operators, who don't appear openly on the battlefield and who might be hard to identify by any normal means, are clandestine in some sense. Were that to be the important sense, Obama is a bit of a terrorist by the official definition.

  • Understanding the Jewish National Home
    • There is a thesis by AE Ciani, available on the web and to me, at first sight,fairminded enough, on the Vatican and Palestine.
      Ciani is interesting on the long-standing Vatican opposition to Zionism, though he also makes a point of mentioning strong American Catholic concern over Jewish suffering. The proposal for the internationalisation of Jerusalem he treats as a triumph (soon negated, of course) for papal policy, with the possibility that the Pope might have ended up as very much the senior partner in the international power set over the city.
      Thomas M(a)cMahon was to be the first President of the main Vatican charitable organisation for Palestine and he did take a dim view of Zionism and all its works. The Christian Union was an organisation of Palestinian Christians and it did complain vigorously of Israeli behaviour in 1948. Its testimony is not impeccable but that is not to say that it is worthless.
      It is of course very important not to take the word of prejudiced people on matters concerning their prejudice. On the other hand, they may draw attention to things that others overlook.

    • Because the theology is so different from what we find elsewhere in the scriptures I would put Ps.137, with its terrifyingly anti-Babylonian ending, into the anti-Iraqi period of the second century BCE. In fact many Jewish people stayed in Babylon or moved there during the Hellenistic period, making it a major Jewish centre.
      Mention of theological differences and developments should remind us that 'Jewish', like 'Christian', is not a term which we can use with consistent reference over all time.

    • I understand Disraeli did have some ideas about a sort of British-Jewish empire but I don't know much about him or his novels. I have read a bit of Daniel Deronda (George Eliot's last book) but found it heavy going. It is certainly proto-Z. GE was so progressive she was almost out of sight. Z was really good at spanning the conservative-liberal spectrum and still is.

    • Well, yes - the main imperative was to win the war and Jewish opinion in the United States was an important (and legitimate) element in the scheme of things. But there were other political and moral imperatives at work which remained important when the war was safely won.
      There has been mention of the Carlsbad declaration as atypical etc. - but in a way it was entirely normal. Zionism has always had its benevolent aspect - how could the arrival of so much new human and financial capital not be good for the region? This is the argument of Altneuland and latterly of the likes of Joan Peters. Why not say to the 'Arabs' 'This land is ours by a special and unique right - but don't worry, it's yours too! Your rights are safe with us. We sincerely can't understand why you should resent us.'
      But it doesn't work, does it? You can't make illogical ideas into reality even if you really would like to. The special and for unique right, now commonly called birthright, cannot but convert whatever the others have into - at best - privileges held subject to the needs of the true heirs, ie not rights at all: the place is not theirs except provisionally, until reclaimed, so not theirs at all. The tide of capital hitting Palestine has to come at the cost of threat to all non-Jewish ownership, so is not really as good economic deal in the long run.

    • Greater knowledge of the past may well increase resentment rather than good will. The idea or demand that we must study the past with an eye to becoming reconciled to someone whom we now resent is no more objective in its approach to the facts of the past than the demand that we must study these things in order to promote national pride and assertiveness.
      I'm sure that Avigail's right to say that Israeli propaganda suggests symmetrical conflict in the present but in respect of the 1920s it suggests that the conflict was highly asymmetrical with the 'Arabs' having much greater power, whereby they attempted (in vain! remember Goliath!) to reject the Zionists' entirely reasonable offer of joint development, perhaps as embodied at Carlsbad. The emphasis on Carlsbad seems misleading to me.

    • I think that the British ruling and imperial class had some valid ideals and did some good work (not at all to deny bad things too) but as an attempt to find a progressive form of feudalism it had its work cut out. The underlying feudal principles led to alliances with traditionalist forces in many places: this habit would have favoured the Muslim world of the time with its generally traditional rulers. However, Jewish intellectuals, living proofs of British progressive and liberal attitudes, were highly welcome in many high places - Balfour and Weizmann had a strong friendship well before the War. The War brought its own imperatives and its own needs. Meanwhile Christian Zionism made important converts. 'Intentionally extremely vague' is true enough as a description of the phrase 'national home'.
      Intentional bad faith is what marked the Balfour Declaration. It was no doubt believed - reasonably, I suppose - that Jewish immigration would promote the economy of the whole region but it was obvious, if never said, that there would have to be a Jewish space from which 'Arabs' would move out, hopefully of course by agreed and well-funded resettlement schemes. Nothing much has changed to this day, except that the cost of the latest stage of resettlement is for the moment prohibitively high.

    • Thanks, I will check that out. What has happened since 67 has been the massive flowering of the alliance between Jewish and Christian Zionists: not merely the right-wing fanatics but the progressive theologians like Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Luther King. - Martin

    • Forms of Zionism, usually known as Restorationism in earlier days, go back quite a long way - the earliest book-length presentation that I know of being by Sir Henry Finch MP - 'The Great Restauration' - in 1621. I believe that Finch got into trouble by suggesting that the King of the Jews would be the world's senior monarch pending the return of Jesus, so his movement, which maybe influenced the earliest British American colonists to found 'Salems', had something of New World Order rather than - or as well as - of Zionism about it, just like its Sabatianist successor a few decades later. For a time I think Christians set the pace, Jews being suspicious and saying 'They're just trying to get rid of us'.
      In the United States Mordecai Noah wrote a proto-Zionist book in 1844, a Discourse on the Restoration of the Jews - still using the old word and not, as far as I know, using 'national home'. Perhaps he should be regarded as leading the way to modern Zionism.
      The phrase 'Jewish National Home', with its characteristic and abiding ambiguity, has a very 1800s ring to me.
      Margaret Macmillan's 'Peacemakers', which I've often mentioned before, makes it clear, I think, that the failure of the promise to respect non-Jewish rights contained in Balfour and its dynasty of successor documents was built in from the very beginning: Balfour acted in bad faith and briefed the Press that the non-Jewish aspect of his promises was not to be taken seriously. That was because he, and even more his boss Lloyd George, were committed, one might even say fanatical, Christian Zionists - LlG making up for his sinful life by doing something that God called for. The idea of National Home lent itself to bad faith: the idea of a home which is specially mine but also yours being really, on slight examination, absurd.
      Just a note on the interesting King-Crane observation - Jewish sovereignty has not been at all bad for Christian holy places. That is because the relationship of Jewish and Christian theology was transformed, for good or ill - for good and ill - in the later twentieth century.

  • Love letter to a Zionist: NYU project seeks to bridge Israel divide within Jewish families
    • I have indeed formed the impression, from occasional reading, that Professor Alter, who is famous as a Bible interpreter, considers himself a Zionist or at least considers himself as one who over the years and indeed decades has defended Israel as constituted by Zionism: if I'm wrong, let me know. He seems to have been consulted as a Zionist by Ms. Shealy.
      I'd really be surprised - wouldn't you? - if he really treats the term ' Zionism' as referring to a belief that there are Jewish rights which demand that at least there be autonomous Jewish regions, presumably with a sovereign Whole Palestine where, as far as the Whole is concerned, no racial or religious group is privileged.
      That would require, I'd suggest, another term for the stronger claim that there ought to be an independent and sovereign Jewish state, 'super-Zionism' perhaps. But no such term is mentioned.
      I'd agree that the claim to autonomous areas would tend in the minimalist direction - that is true - but I'd also think that if you push the definition so far towards the minimal it is threatened with contradiction in terms, in that the apparently un-shared or exclusive nature of Jewish rights seems to conflict with the presumed equal rights of non-Jews in Palestine as a whole.
      It might be rather pernickety to object to your term 'minimal definition' - I do see what you mean - but in an important sense definitions are not in themselves minimal or maximal, only exact or inexact. The definition of a maximalist or aggressive claim is not in itself a maximal or aggressive definition.

    • I don't quite see how differences in the meaning of Zionism are illustrated by the remarks of Alter and Stern. Both give political rights to people who are Jewish in culture which seem not to be shared with anyone else. There could be different ideas, of course, but this fairly strong basic claim seems to be necessary if what has actually been done is to be justified.
      There's some rather strange wording: we don't usually call sovereign states autonomous but independent - autonomy usually applies to regions with certain privileges and I don't think Alter would be satisfied with that.
      And Ms. Selig surely doesn't mean that authentic Jewish morality can be exploited by those of violent disposition?

  • Just like the Nazis, Iran 'plans to exterminate six million Jews' -- Netanyahu
    • Maybe some Iranian leaders have made remarks which can only be interpreted as bloodthirsty. However it is not true that anyone who wants Israel not to exist must for that reason desire that some people be killed: the desire may be only for Israel's replacement a new polity, with no current Israeli excluded, in which the unjust privilege given by Israel to people who are Jewish is abolished.
      If I heard the cry 'Death to the United Kingdom!' - and of course there are those who want the UK to depart from existence and be replaced by separate English and Celtic states - I might be distressed and frightened at the disruption involved but I would not take it, unless it was amplified in some relevant way, as a call to kill or exile or dispossess me or anyone, even a single person, who is English.

  • New Episcopal Church group calls for divestment from Israeli occupation, in recognition of the new political landscape in Israel and Palestine
    • Very well written! And of course any call for a new Palestine based on racial equality is treated as a call for a massacre of Palestinians and most of the western press believes this.

  • My personal journey of transformation
    • There's nothing wrong with a state that happens to have a majority which is 'something or other', - and in that case it certainly should be the reality, and if not the reality should be a goal, that those who are 'something else' have full civil rights. But it cannot be a legitimate objective to constitute the state so that the 'somethings' will always predominate. I think that it may, in order to maintain peace and order, be permissible to make a transitional arrangement whereby different groups will be the majority in different parts of the same polity. but if the polity really is to be the same that arrangement will have to be transitional only.

  • Israel could reduce anti-Semitic violence by not calling itself the Jewish state, Finkelstein says
    • 'The Jews' is a disturbing locution, I agree, though since Walid was expounding the New Testament and since that kind of locution ' the doors were shut for fear of the Jews' of Jn. 20 etc., is present in the NT he was drawing attention to a fact that we Christians have to recognise. That passage from Jn was read in CofE churches this very morning.
      What I said about Paul is heavily dependent on taking IThess. 2/13 ff as concerning the bad elements within Jewry rather than 'the Jews' as we might take that term. The advantageous position of the Jews is affirmed in Romans 3/1 and is an important part of the argument.
      There is little historical information about Jesus to be found in Paul, I agree, but there are abundant references to him under various titles - most of the major Epistles beginning with a reference to Paul's devotion to 'Jesus Christ, the Lord'.
      I think that it is reasonably clear that the New Testament was a collection formed about 150 during Marcion's leadership of the Roman church. He used his great riches to import (he is said to have owned a shipping firm) and centralise Christian texts. He fell out with other Roman Christians and was thoroughly demonised and arguments about the authentic text, - arguments which very much spread to questions about Jewish scriptures and their authority, hence to questions about Christianity as separate from Judaism - became tangled up with questions about his personality. This 'Old Roman Bible' must have been formed from texts that already had a reputation and which may have been composed, in their main substance, much earlier but which were still being edited: I and II Thess, for instance, are surely different versions of a similar 'Epistle' for which different groups in Thessalonica vouched.
      The editing process must have reflected growing Jewish-Christian tensions which had probably reached screaming pitch during the Bar-Kochba Revolt which ended in 135 and led to 'Judaea's' becoming 'Palestine' again.
      All this may seem to be rambling on far away from our real topic on Mondoweiss: not entirely, I think. There's no use denying that Christianity and Judaism had mutually acrimonious elements in their relationship from the beginning but positive elements were there too and still are. I can't question that Jews and Christians have sometimes come to see each as blocs - 'the Jews', 'them'. But this stereotyping vision was never total and isn't now. Jews and Christians can be fair to each other.
      I think Finkelstein is quite right, almost obviously so, to say that the 'Jewish state' terminology strongly encourages stereotyping.

    • Of course, all this is very much disputed in modern scholarship though you are unquestionably right that this is what the four Gospels, written amid ferocious disputes after the Fall of the Temple in 70, actually say. However the Pauline writings, in which (though there are things to which Jews object) Jewish responsibility for Jesus' death is not a theme and Jews 'have much advantage every way', is also part of Christian tradition.

  • French philosopher who shut down Paris BDS event as 'anti-Semitic' and one-sided will lecture in NY on 'Free Speech'
    • Thanks for info from the Romsey Advertiser, just. I note that the protesters have at least won 'an enquiry' into public safety in these circs, though I suppose it will take months and come to the conclusion that you never really know and it's better to be safe than sorry.

    • Just to say that I have heard no more about legal action at Southampton following the cancellation of the 'anti-Israel' conference. Perhaps the conference organisers decided that it was hopeless.
      I do not agree, though, that it is wrong in any sense to hold an academic conference with the basic purpose of arguing or publicising one side in a controversial matter. The proper response is not to insist on balance within that conference but to organise another to put the opposite case. It is the same with individual arguments: don't silence one person if you don't like the message, find someone else to contradict.

    • The ENS case has interesting parallels with the Southampton University case on this side of the channel, though the Southampton people were questioning the legitimacy of Israel rather than calling for specific responses and the authorities responded in the name of public order rather than of the legality of BDS. Mind you, there are heavy threats to the legality of BDS in the UK too, which have really kept that movement within tight confines, not openly supported by any major organisation that I know.

  • Rand Paul's antiwar populism should be celebrated, not scorned
    • You do yourself a disservice, I think. I can't believe, knowing your high moral standards, that you married and had a child not for the attractiveness of the prospect but in order to avoid the war! However, the Neos are supposed to be people who do praise all American wars as great, patriotic and for the general good of humanity and do so very loudly and with no nuance.
      I don't want to sound anti-American. I was brought up to praise the United States for saving the United Kingdom and western Europe from tyranny.

    • I was visiting the United States when Clinton launched the one attack on Obama that seemed likely to succeed, that based on Jeremiah Wright, which was basically all about the ME. I thought, well I would, that it was absolutely shocking and dishonest. Then I thought how well Obama had escaped the cunning trap by being even more cunning. Now I think that that must have been the decisive moment in which Obama committed himself to a semi-Neo and strongly pro-Israel policy: he didn't really escape the cunning trap at all, he fell right (or wright) into it. His memoirs will be grimly, horrifyingly interesting on all these matters. MInd you, I probably would't be able to bring myself to read the slippery, double-talking stuff that it will be.
      I hear today that the Clinton 2016 candidacy is to be 'announced'. Ha ha. The only thing about Clinton is that she is highly intelligent and distinctly ruthless and that no one can completely trust her. I don't think for a minute that the Israelis do.

  • Hurt by the Israel lobby, Obama kisses it goodbye
    • That is indeed good stuff as is Donald's analysis cited by Phil. Obama is at very best a liberal Zionist - 'why can't they see that I love them?' being, surely, a commonplace liberal Zionist theme. There's no love for Palestinians or show of respect (what an absurd idea!) for the likes of us, moral misfits as we still are.

  • When occupation becomes apartheid
    • Yes indeed - biblical teaching is emphatic that the Israelite immigrants' right to Canaan was unique, based on the special dispensation of God which overrode the normal rights of the people living in a place for the greater overall good of humanity in the end. Ancient people knew as well as we do that is there is no normal right to conquest or plunder.
      Perhaps there have to be some special things, perhaps the great overall good has sometimes to be created painfully. But where is that greater good to be seen?
      Boomer noted my dissatisfaction with apartheid as the basic term for what is going on and suggested 'redemption of the land'. I always think that apartheid was a rather prosaic idea about the organisation of labour, keeping it cheap - and Boomer is right that what's going on in Palestine has to be understood in poetic and theological terms. I think that I prefer 'conquest', which is both theological and all too realistic.

    • From the Nile to the Euphrates, give or take a bit of interpretation. It comes from a higher power than the UN and suchlike. I think they do agree with ISIS at least to the degree that there is something totally contemptible about people meeting in trivial gatherings and calling themselves by grand names and pretending to supersede the laws that are ancient and sacred.
      The Palestinians have no right to be there. It's not their fault that they are there but in the end they have to go, one hopes by the most humane procedures available. Apartheid never sounds quite right to me as the basic term for what is going on, though I'm sure you're right that the legally defined crime of apartheid is being committed en passant.

  • Liberal Democrats sympathize with Palestinians over Israel by 68-60 -- Pew
    • The Code of Practice authorises the University's 'responsible officer' to cancel a previously accepted event only if circumstances have changed so much that 'good order' is unlikely to be maintained. The circumstances must be exceptional. The only change that could conceivably have occurred is the accumulation of threats from the anti-Palestinian side - it has to be threats, surely, because objection and protest without threat do not pose a risk to public order. It is clear that pro-Israel organisations have (as is their right, of course) protested and objected - but will they agree, or will the University allege, that they have used what amount to threats of physical force? Without this allegation the University would not, as far as I could at first see, have a logical leg to stand on as far as the main issues of free speech and public order are concerned.
      However, I suppose they will say that they expect so many pro-Israel protesters that the sheer number, combined with the likely aggressiveness of some individuals on both sides, will overwhelm their ability to keep order - and I would place a small bet on the judges' accepting that. There are also procedural clauses in which both the conference organisers and the University authorities could get snarled up.

    • This cancellation is a terrible event for us in the UK. Our Universities have an obligation to secure free speech - no parallel obligation, thank the Lord, to secure balanced speech - for all persons on their premises - Education Act 1986, I think, Thatcherite legislation originally intended to secure a fair hearing for Conservative politicians to whom hairy Marxists might have objected. So the conference organisers have some sort of a case, though I can't really believe that they will win. The University will also have a code of practice which it will claim it was following with the intention of securing public order.

    • I suppose I think that there's a logical link between being a significant political force and being something that politicians have to think about or reckon with - don't you think so? - and that our move to this status is only just beginning. The forces we have been contesting still have great power and can do great damage. Just for an example local to me, I heard the other day that a major conference on the legality of Israel/Palestine, arranged at Southampton University in the next county, had been cancelled quite late in the proceedings because of the usual protests and pressures that we hear of so often in Mondoweiss reports from American universities. But they will not conquer for ever.
      I would admit to being, in short-term matters at least, on the less optimistic side of Mondoweiss. Which goes with believing that the long road is worth the journey. I'm rather proud to have made the acquaintance of so many good people.

    • The likes of us used to be negligible and laughable in the Western world, particularly the United States. Now we're noticeable rather than negligible and taken a little seriously. The swing of opinion against destructive and disastrous wars and interventions in the ME has made quite a difference. And I believe Mondoweiss has helped enormously. The next step is from noticeable to significant, which would mean that there was a bloc of genuinely concerned public opinion that politicians had to think about. We're not there by a long way yet and there are still very dark clouds over the road ahead.

  • Double standard in US political culture: BDS is fine for Indiana, not Israel
    • I have family in Panama and would say that though it has serious problems with corruption it has used its control of the Canal quite well and has been a genuine democracy where power changes hands. Carter did the right thing and greatly helped to allay Latin American suspicion of the United States.

  • 'She speaks the truth:' Palestinian leftist parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar arrested in early-morning Israeli raid
    • But it's not abusive in the sense that the victim is beaten and humiliated and tells her friends that she deserved to be punished. The victim is made to feel wonderful as the world's only protector of democracy and bastion against anti-Semitism and incurs no visible cost, only what seems like the muttered threats of a bunch of madmen and the insidious rhetoric of the effete (Euros).
      Humanity 'cannot bear more than a little reality' says TS Eliot - which means we all want in some way to be lied to. The most dangerous abuse is what the abused person wants.

  • 2200 Palestinian homes approved in East Jerusalem-- even as others are bulldozed
    • It never changes - it's always the old Allon Plan with the same clear central features and the same vague yet-to-be-negotiated details. The details never get negotiated or even clearly stated but the general idea is always accepted in all the capitals of the world outside the ME as really rather sensible. The 'extreme' or Kahanist suggestions come up from time to time but their existence is always regarded as merely making clear the sensible and moderate nature of the normal plan. Indefinite time is always conceded by western governments and liberal Zionists to get the famous negotiations concluded. Always, time and again - it's extraordinary in its way.

  • Approaching Easter and Passover
    • It is part of the general, not just the Jewish, human condition, I think, to be sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes oppressed and a little servile, sometimes proud and domineering.

  • The Jewish establishment has banned these four valiant Jews. Why?
    • Well, I'll do my best. The following has been through a rewrite but is still too long.
      By 'lawfulness' I suppose I mean 'moral legitimacy conferred by legal process' in this case the UN partition resolution, whose own legitimacy I would in fact question but didn't want to debate at this point.
      If lawfulness was actually conferred on Israel 'within these bounds, thus far and no further' it was conferred on something that has never existed as a distinct political entity: no one has ever claimed to act specifically on its behalf. Is the conferment still meaningful? The only real Israel is one 'going beyond those bounds', always existing by contravening the original legal act in its crucial respect. Can something owing its existence to breaking a law still claim a right to exist under that very law? There's something about sawing off the branch on which you sit.
      All that may seem a bit abstract but we do have the very practical problem of the liberal Zionists and their inexhaustible patience when they say 'Thus far and no further' (a form of the essential liberal imperative to respect the rights of others) yet no one takes a blind bit of notice and the settlements and acquisitions march on. That patience is a very important form of support in practice for exactly what it seems to oppose in theory, constantly dulling and deflecting whatever opposition there might be.
      It seems to me that 'thus far and no further' is an imperative defined by its urgency: to repeat it in your second breath it is to subvert it. Which seems to me to imply that your second word must, if you are sincere in your liberalism the first time, be more harsh than your first: that is to say that even the permission to go 'thus far' must now be called into question and any law permitting 'thus far' (like the UN resolution) can no longer regarded as decisive.

    • What I'm looking for, I suppose, eljay, is some way to show the liberal Zionists the irrationality of their indefinite patience, as it seems to be, while the legal and lawful Israel emerges from the shell that the real and powerful Israel has constructed. I don't classify you as a liberal Zionist but perhaps I can put the question to you - Can the real Israel be regarded as a lawful thing because it is the true, lawful Israel plus an extension when it is clear, surely, that the extension cancels the lawfulness? If confronted with a real liberal Zionist I would perhaps ask 'is indefinitely extended patience not really indulgence and complicity?'

    • I just meant that there is something about anti-Zionism that leads to moral tension with some, currently the majority it sadly seems, people who are Jewish - this tension is sometimes said to denote anti-Semiitism, as if we were disproportionately against Jews. However, anti-Z leads to many feelings of admiration and respect, rather disproportionately for people who are Jewish, I think.

    • I too think that they will never agree. It is certain that they do not agree at the moment, since no 2ss proposal is on the negotiating table over Israel's signature. If Israel, has a duty, absolute, immediate and pressing - to make a liberal 2ss possible but is failing to perform this duty does it not become a morally illegitimate state unworthy to form one element of the 2ss?

    • In praising these admirable people we should note that there is probably a much greater proportion of Jewish than of Christian people who are active in the cause of justice in the ME.

    • My idea of normal usage is that someone who prohibits speech is a censor, someone who looks very keenly into speech, with an eye to prohibition, is an inquisitor. Some who supports all those evil things is a propagandist for atrocity. Gangster suggests being in it for the money and perhaps having a rather swaggering style, as popularised by Al Capone.

  • Philosophy prof who likened Palestinians to 'rabid pit bull' ignites protest on CT campus
    • I absolutely don't want our side to behave like theirs with threats and boycotts and demands for apologies. And we can't have moral arguments in universities unless moral mistake is not treated as livelihood-threatening incompetence.
      Let me try to put Pessin's argument without the animal stuff and then respond to it.
      1. It is widely presumed that it is a normal right for people to live as enfranchised (so not imprisoned) members of a sovereign state, as Israelis do.
      2. However, there is a major exception: if people have a record of seeking the destruction or dismantlement of another legitimate polity or of attacking its population their own normal rights lapse and they may be kept in a degree of imprisonment, as the people of Gaza are.
      3. The ground of this exception must be that to have rights is to accord rights: not to accord, or even to intend not to accord, all due rights to others is to lose rights oneself.
      In reply, I would say that
      a. Rights subject to such strict conditions, reaching even into thoughts and intentions, may scarcely be recognisable as rights.
      b. Israel, which has never proclaimed even the intention of setting up a fully sovereign Palestinian state, with control of borders: externally controlled borders are a form of imprisonment for those inside. Moreover Zionism always embodied the intention to dismantle whatever polity prevailed in Palestine before their was a Jewish majority.
      c. Thus the argument, even were it acceptable, would not serve its purpose. On the contrary, it would go against the legitimacy of Israel and imply that the curtailment of normal human rights in Gaza was not the justified self-preservation of a legitimate state but the ever-compounded cruelty inherent in imposing unjust forms of power.
      So let us, Professor P, approach the question of rights differently, with less readiness to think of lapses and exceptions.

    • I agree that this is Salaita in reverse and I don't want this man to lose his job or to be told that he must address us with civility. I want our side to behave better than theirs. I want him told he's wrong and crushed, as Socrates would have wished, solely under the weight of argument directed to his argument. I've sometimes lost arguments - we are the better for the experience.
      We might pursue his analogy. If I chose to take responsibility for a pit bull - purchasing one, breeding one - I would of course be expected not to treat it cruelly, not to lash it or lock it in a maddeningly confined space, which come to think of it are quite good images for what Israel does with scarce a second thought to the people of Gaza. If some of its behaviour was due to my cruelty I should lose custody of the animal and control of its situation: what else? Pit bulls are by nature ferocious, I understand - certainly human beings become angry and seek to retaliate, some times to excess, in the face of casual violence and incessant humiliation. That's how we are. It's not reasonable to expect pit bulls to be lapdogs. It's not reasonable to expect human beings to put up with being incessantly and seriously wronged.

  • Open Hillel's big month: Swarthmore 'Kehilah' is born and a student resigns over Hillel restrictions
    • I haven't heard any more - well, it's a long holiday weekend - about the terrible loss of free speech in the name of public order at Southampton University. I think there is to be some legal action, though it's a long shot.

  • Scripted Hate: What to expect when Campus Watch writes about you
    • I must read your book, Professor Cola. (Or is it 'Colla', as per the Georgetown website?) I notice that you spend some time engaging with these people or robots or whatever they are. That in itself must be taking your time and emotional energy, which you could be devoting to better things - yet they have no right even to normal politeness, have they?

  • White House will go after AIPAC next -- Newsweek
    • If Obama releases the HL5 I will seriously consider eating my hat.

    • A deal of a sort with Iran will probably have to be done, though Iran too will have to make concessions and Israel will in the upshot not be under the sort of threat from Iran that would compel realistic negotiations or deter another Gaza massacre. I think all the stuff about spying will come to nothing much - Tim Kaine probably speaks for the political class and I don't see public opinion really rising up on an issue that is much removed from day to day concerns. Black leaders may be a little miffed but where is any sign of their speaking out? A few words from their assistants to a few journalists are nothing much, are they? The lobbying orgnanisations are still at the heart of a system that has politicians sending money to Israel and also, round a few discreetly twisting corners, sending money to themselves. The costs of changing the system would be very great. It may crumble a bit in the light of the slow change in public opinion. But the night is still dark and the road long.

  • CUFI Leader John Hagee confirms Christian Zionism is anti-Semitic
    • For those interested, there seems to be quite a good summary of Dual Covenant Theory in 'Fire in the Ashes' ed. Patterson and Roth and in 'One of a Kind', Adam Sparks. The central characters seem to be a) on the Jewish side, Martin Buber, who suggested general acceptance of the idea that Jews need not become Christians or Christians Jews, suggesting that Jews need not regard Christians as idolaters b) on the Christian side, such paragons of Protestant liberalism as Paul van Buren and Reinhold Niebuhr, both very strong liberal Christian Zionists.
      It's very important to recognise that Zionism has left-wing or liberal support not just because of the Jewish influence in the Democratic Party in the US and the Labour Party in the UK but because some very influential and sincere progressive intellectual figures came to adopt it.
      In another corner of the debate we find 'Messianic Jews'. They are not taken too seriously at the moment but one of their leaders, MItch Glaser, also wrote what seems like a well-informed paper summarising some important aspects of Dual Covenant, which of course he rejected.
      The Catholic process was rather different, of course. But Pope John Paul, speaking some time in the 80s at a conference in Mainz, specifically said that God's covenant with the Jews had not been revoked. Though almost all theological statements can be interpreted in different ways it is not hard to see how close this sort of statement could bring us close to Christian Zionism.
      All this helps us to see what a wrench it will be for any mainstream Christian organisation to commit itself to treating Zionism as the moral mistake that it is. Intricate and elaborate webs of misleading thought by highly respected people will have to be brushed aside.

    • The general Christian belief is that salvation comes from faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom God's love is shown to the world. The liberal turn is to think that God will find other ways to save those who have sought to encounter his love in other fashions, the conservative turn to insist that there is no salvation 'outside'.
      The conservative 'dispensationalist' tradition, of fairly recent origin but I think inherited by Hagee from JN Darby, gives a special role to Jewish people, who have a special assignment to vindicate the ancient prophecies: they do not for now see that these prophecies point to Jesus, but they (or very many of them) will be allowed a blinding revelation of the truth at the very last moment when they have done the special, political work in the Holy Land that no one else can do. While engaged on that mission they are not really 'outside' Jesus' dispensations. There is thus no obligation on Christians to press for Jews to become Christians here and now.
      There is no parallel Christian mission for non-Christians of any other stripe. Those Jewish people who refuse to take part in their mission will of course share the fate of all non-saved humanity.
      Some Jewish leaders (like Yoffie, cited here) will not want to accept any mission on grounds that will seem to them absurd and vulgar. Others, like Hoenlein, will throughly welcome the idea that the prophets of old were as it were founders of Zionism and Zionist hopes.
      Whether all this - egging on Jewish people to do drastic things on the strength of religious teachings and interpretations that most Jewish people (and most Christians) do not accept and then threatening them with punishment if they will not comply - amounts to anti-Semitism depends on definitions. It would not exactly reflect 'prejudice against Jews'.
      In general I don't think that Christian 'dispensationalist' Zionism is just another form of anti-Semitism or of colonialism or of racism. It's too peculiar and by itself.

  • [1]-[2]-[6]-[20]: A regional strategy for sustainable peace for Israel/Palestine
    • In general we should place no trust in the fickle conscience of the West.

    • Professor Galtung sows confusion here by poor usage of words. Does he mean 'disprove the false claim that there is prejudice among Arabs', as just reads him, or 'disprove ideas existing among Arabs and resulting from prejudice'?
      I really see nothing here but another repetition of the standard 2ss idea, which has often been linked to regional economic cooperation and shared prosperity. I think that it may come about some day (though it would be monstrously unfair) but that for the moment it will not even be formally on any negotiating table to which Israel comes, because it is contrary to Zionism, which concerns Jewish rights not shared with others and not merely to some, but to all of the Holy Land. So the Zionist state would have to be under considerable pressure, and for the moment the worst it faces is pinpricks.

  • Washington 'sits shiva' for the 2-state solution
    • Obama is nudging us in the right direction, says Phil. I'm pretty sure this is true but Obama has always seemed to have an invincible belief in nudge and nuance even after that technique has failed time and again

  • Why did Herzog run scared? He fears the Israeli people
    • Back in the 60s this was known as the Allon Plan, as well as I remember. Not much has changed. Whether the Palestinians could be induced to accept it in a referendum I don't know. But it has always seemed to be part of the plan that it should never be put to the Palestinians in any form to which they could say yes or no and that meanwhile Israel should have all the advantages implied in the plan anyway. This is called living without a solution.

  • 'Do US Jews need a Jewish state for our safety?' debate begins in wake of Netanyahu victory
    • Most people support the idea of basic individual rights, which must be basic rights equally possessed by all - but all - individuals and think that these rights include enfranchisement, the right to come and go from one's home and the right to life and tenure of property except by well-defined and proper legal process. This set of rights excludes collective punishment, where individuals have no way of defending their own record by their own argument. It also excludes punishment for crimes not defined either by a written law or by principles so basic that all humanity consents to them. I believe I'm following the general lines of argument so well set out by Locke in chapter 16 of his Second Treatise, which 'everyone should read'.
      At this rate it could not have been right to treat the non-Jewish inhabitants of Berlin as the Palestinians were treated by excluding them as a collective from their former homes. It could not even have been right to say that the only enfranchised citizens of Berlin should be Jewish: this would not have been following the consensus of humanity but departing from it by making civil rights in a certain place not for everyone normally 'of that place' but only for those of a certain race.
      Locke rightly says on the basis of his principle that the consequences of crimes attendant on war should be visited not on collectives but only on those with some legally recognisable form of personal responsibility. It is equally true by roughly the same reasoning that compensation should be rendered not to collectives but to individual victims and in the case of identifiable property to their heirs. If someone could show - though this sort of thing becomes nearly impossible amid time and change - that in a clearly recognisable way (s)he was still suffering loss from the events surrounding the St.Bartholomew Massacre perhaps some compensation would be due. But I can't say that simply since I'm a Protestant the French for ever owe me.
      The best way of being secure in one's own right is to make sure that, as far as may be, the same security extends to everyone everywhere, not to call all rights, including one's own, into question by overriding those of others or claiming rights for yourself that others don't have. MLK's 'injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere' is very true.

  • Netanyahu's victory ‐ what is the cost?
    • Quite so, Kathleen - 'equal rights for all'/'special rights for some' are contradictory.

    • I quite agree with your remark that there is something ludicrous, as well as much else, about Zionism and its population transfers and crazy nuclear threats. However I don't think that 'the night is far spent and the day is at hand'. Rather I think that the idea of transfer will be taken more and more seriously during the next phase which will begin with the next United States election where protestations of Zionist commitment will exceed all bounds yet known.

    • The 2ss is incompatible with Zionism if Zionism is taken, as I think it normally is, as a claim to rights for Jewish people a) not shared with others who lack the same 'birthright' b) over all of the Holy Land, not just some of it.

    • That's very interesting stuff, Misterioso - thanks. However, I think that there is one version of 'one state' of which we shall hear steadily more, though for a while rather discreetly - that is an overwhelmingly Jewish state achieved by massive population transfer, which is the only outcome truly compatible with Zionist principles. The idea of 'Palestine in Sinai', a variant on this theme, was floated or re-floated the other day and from time to time we hear about 'being paid to leave'. The only reason why any Palestinians, or more than a museum-piece remnant, are still there is that any transfer programme, all the way from the most consensual to the most brutal, would cost an awful lot of money, so far not to hand. Receiving countries would have to be paid for the effort they would have to make and armies of propagandists would have to be paid to explain and justify. I think consensual would be preferred to brutal, even if the costs were about equal, because I'm sure that almost every Zionist, from the time Altneuland was published, has intended the final scene of the drama - though this is in truth impossible, an illusion - to ring down the ages as a mighty moment of generosity, so unlike what was visited on Jewish people by anti-Semites.

  • Netanyahu and the unraveling of the British Jewish consensus
    • I will be quite surprised if the Zionist leadership in our dear country will show any real signs of uneasiness over the continuing Netanyahu government. There will just be a few knowing chuckles about a few misleading things you have to say to get elected and a general acceptance that of course we all want a 2ss, shame that the other side are so violent, unreasonable and intransigent.

  • A response to Michael Douglas
    • Silence, I think, is - as is often said - consent in the sense that if you are involved in a certain discourse and say nothing it is reasonable to infer that you agree with the general tenor of what is being said. This general idea played its part at Nuremberg, I believe. When my Head of Government says that the massacre in Tunis yesterday, which involved a British casualty, was shocking and says so without a voice to the contrary being raised through this kingdom's length and breadth I think I have consented without actually saying a word. But the consensus of my society is at least vaguely pro-Zionist, so I think I should say something.

  • Israelis go to the polls today--and nobody knows who will win (Updated)
    • Well. I don't see as much of silver lining as you do, Toivo. Euro politicians and diplomats have endless resources of circumlocution and no appetite for confrontation with Israel. The programme of population transfer, the natural concomitant of 'no 2 states' will be talked about a little more openly and the Euros will say 'Yes, perhaps, so long as it is achieved by negotiations' and the merry-go-round will start up again, though nothing much except for the status quo will happen for a long time. The real negotiation will be for Western money to play for the population to be moved and that will be very discreet.
      I didn't place many hopes on Herzog but I must say that this is yet another desperate failure of hope - into which all sorts of people had talked themselves; the UK press was writing Netanyahu off yesterday - for some sort of rationality to break out.
      Netanyahu must be congratulated on taking very serious risks and seeing them pay off at least in the short term.

  • Sheldon Adelson is not the problem
    • I think that the wells of Anglo-American Christian Zionism are quite deep. As far as I know the first book-length exposition of CZ (or even of Z in the modern world) was by Sir Henry Finch MP in 'The Great Restauration' of 1621. Victoria Clark suggests (Allies for Armageddon p.40) that Finch's ideas had some influence on the choice of 'Salem' as the name for some of the 'Puritan' New World settlements. I don't know how well the line can be traced from Finch via George Eliot in 'Daniel Deronda' to William E. Blackstone, whose 'Memorial' to the President in 1891 was the first major statement of 'Palestine for the Jewish people' to be endorsed publicly by a substantial number of Protestant ministers.
      Deep wells are not the same as a mighty flowing river but I think that a stream of general, vague and (as Walt and M say) shallow sentiment in favour of a Jewish homeland was important in setting up the system we now have. It was very noticeable in the UK in my young days but it's clearly in the United States where the real story is: when politicians vote aid to Israel, taking advantage of the vague public sense that it's a good thing, they also vote aid to themselves - and to some extent to their constituents, where Israel spends the money on purchases from the US. I'm not convinced that the very rich supporters of Israel are throwing much of their own money into the bottomless pit, not a thing that very rich people like doing - they may be only the front-men in a system that works through subsidies, tax reliefs etc..
      That vague, shallow sentiment is now being challenged more openly, with universities and students beginning to create a vigorous public argument. This produces a more open demonstration of their convictions by those working the customary system - I don't doubt that even Mr. Adelson, who doesn't sound like an ideal employer, thinks he is doing very much the right thing where Israel is concerned.

  • Separating anti-Semitism from anti-Zionism
    • If Zionists prefer a definition of 'anti-Semitism' which restricts the term to sentiments bringing with them a realistic threat of pogroms etc. that is up to them. As I say, perhaps too often, no one owns words and our only obligation is to make ourselves clear.
      The more restrictive the definition of anything, the fewer instances of 'that thing'. If you restrict the definition of tomatoes to fruits of at least 3 inches circumference fewer fruits would quality: no cherry-sized objects would be called 'tomatoes'. In the same way, there may be some people in the UK who mutter against Jewish things, some but fewer who orate against Jewish things - all these would be 'anti-Semites' in a more 'open' sense - but none who have a realistic chance of organising or perpetrating a Kishinev-style outrage by an anti-Jewish mob or Cossack-equivalents in foreseeable circumstances here.
      Deceitful rhetoric often works by shifting between definitions without saying so. If someone used my definition, which covers some things possibly quite trivial, to mark some trivial thing down as anti-Semitic and then switched without notice to a restricted definition - one where great danger is required - in order to make that trivial thing seem, without more ado, highly dangerous then that would be deceitful rhetoric.

    • The nice thing about ancient Judaean coinage is that it seems to support a rather multicultural vision of what things were like around the time when money began to be used.

    • I think of anti-Semitism as prejudice against at least some things characteristically Jewish, so it can be manifest long before the stage of stark hatred is reached. I think of anti-Zionism as rejection of claims to exclusive Jewish rights in Palestine. Anti-Zionism can be completely rational, so not be a form of prejudice, so not be anti-Semitic.
      Negative sentiments, even hatred, directed against some people who are in fact Jewish need not be anti-Semitic if they are rational sentiments, ie respond to wrongs done by those persons. Just as the same feelings, even hatreds, directed against non-Jewish people need not spring from anti-Gentile prejudice if those persons have really done wrong.
      It is quite possible for an anti-Semite to be a Zionist - he may think that what is wrong with the Jewish condition arises from Jews' having often been strangers in our midst and that Zionism has a chance of putting these things right. It is also quite possible for someone who has a strong admiration for the contribution made by Jewish people in our midst to regret Zionism because it reduces that contribution.

  • Palestinian leaders vote to end security coordination with Israel, a cornerstone of Oslo and the occupation
    • 'You have nothing to lose but your chains' has somehow become 'You have nothing to do but rattle your chains'.

  • WSJ columnist says 'I'm almost grateful' for attack on kosher supermarket that killed four
    • About definitions - any definition can be 'neutral' or 'loaded'. Loaded definitions imply a value judgement, as when you say 'Anglophobia' is 'any form of unjustified hostility to at least some English people'; neutral ones do not - as when you say 'Anglophobia' is 'any form of hostility to at least some English people'.
      The neutral def leaves it open whether some forms of hostility to poor old us, therefore some forms of Anglophobia, are indeed justified. If you use the loaded def any form of hostility to us which was actually justified would not, on that def, amount to Anglophobia.
      People seem to dislike loaded defs but they're perfectly legitimate and useful.
      Another thing to note is 'quantification', which is needed if terms are to be properly used. I said 'at least some English people'. Some definitions of 'Anglophobia' might be in universal terms - 'hostility to any and all persons who are English'. This def does not apply when any significant subset of English people are exempt - if someone has best friends who are English (s)he is not Anglophobic in the universal sense, but may still be seriously hostile and prejudiced against some English people (say some of our literary figures - would never read a Booker Prize winner) in some important ways.
      The problem is rhetorical darting between different defs, as when it is noted as a matter of fact and without expressed value judgement that hostile sentiments are being expressed against some English people and then in the next sentence or the next second a loaded def, in which these sentiments are taken to be by definition absurd or prejudiced, makes its appearance.
      That said, I call 'anti-Semitism' 'prejudice against at least some things characteristically Jewish': a loaded def, since 'prejudice' is an opprobrious term. I do indeed believe that Zionism is unjustified but I do not pin the badge of 'anti-Semitism' on myself for two reasons: first, that I share the Mondoweiss doubts about the authentic Jewishness of Zionism and second, that I consider my objections to Zionism to be rational rather than prejudiced. Others, of course, use the term 'anti-Semite' so that it does apply to me and there's nothing I can do about that, seeing that everyone is free to use words as may wish.

  • Why Iran is not and has never been Israel’s #1 enemy
    • I suppose that everyone knew that there had been a period of Persian rule and that by 115 the Parthian dynasty, claiming descent from the old royal house of Persia, was gaining territory and power. The portrait of the Persian King and people is quite positive in Esther as it had been in Isaiah. There's a hint that Parthian royal blood is somewhat Jewish. Presumably Ahasuerus and Esther had children and many descendants - who else would they be?

    • Esther must have been very important to the Hasmoneans, since a Greek version, much improved in piety. was delivered to Alexandria in around 115 BCE. This must have been quite an event and would surely have been come to the personal, supervisory attention of John, priest and king - that very important figure in making the Jerusalem Temple absolutely dominant in the religious life of Palestine. I presume he was, among other things, reminding people that he could well consider an alliance with the Parthians, whose dynasty probably claimed descent from King Ahasuerus, against whatever Amalekites might have been around. And a of course to encourage wives to dress nicely and obey their husbands.

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