Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 4214 (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 4214 - 4201

  • Iran Deal coalition breaks apart, and J Street looks more and more like AIPAC
    • The liberal anti-anti-Semites should prove their liberalism by putting firmly on the table a fully worked out formula for a 2ss and therefore for the ending of the so-called Occupation, the thing which is causing major disagreements between Jewish and other people in the ME. If they would do this they would render the world good service, even if their plans were to be rejected, and their other mistakes could be overlooked. We would learn a lot when we saw who did the rejecting and for what ostensible reasons. If they clearly fight shy of doing this then they will equally clearly be supporters of the illiberal status quo.

  • The refreshing bluntness of Ayelet Shaked
    • If social contracts are to exist on anything like reasonable terms there can't be a right for the majority to decide to expel or disfranchise (though they may subject to proper criminal punishment) anyone who has normal right of residence, by birth or by legal immigration: that is obvious breaking the contract with that individual. If the expulsion is based on race or religion that makes the society concerned racist or intolerant to the point of dishonouring the social contract whereby it exists. The whole social contract is threatened if its bonds exist in full strength only for the racial or religious majority. which should make majorities careful in their self-assertion. This should not be violent or menacing or even too dramatic.
      It follows that the residents of sub-areas are have no right to secede so as to make their race or religion dominant.
      My right to live in England rests entirely on a relationship, ie the social contract, between me and the others living in the same place. It cannot be affected by the fact that many countries in the world have English-speaking populations. It would surely be absurd to say that because English is so widely spoken I have less right to be here than a Swede to be in Sweden, considering that Swedish-speaking countries are few. And common sense tells us that my being ethnically cleansed would be scarcely less painful if I was moving to New Zealand than if I was moving to Sweden. If 'the Arabs have 37 countries or 43 there would be no impact on the Palestine question.

  • After 22 years it's time to stop pretending about the peace process
  • To condemn, or not to condemn
    • There are at least three difficult levels of problem. I've been looking at ch.3 of Locke's Second Treatise, which I've always thought well argued. I don't say conclusive, though I think he shows that there can be 'preference without tribalism'. I still think this killing was wrong.
      'Prefer the innocent life' - this is one of Locke's principles but he makes something unexpected of it. He thinks that aggression exists when someone forms a 'sedate and settled' intention to use whatever 'force against person' is necessary for the purpose of eliminating or enslaving others or seizing what is theirs. I think he presumes that there must be an undoubted chance of putting the intention into effect but considers that violent self-defence is permitted once the threat is right in your face, such as when an armed robber bursts in. The 'innocents', to him, are not non-combatants but the victims of the intention to enslave or rob and he seems to think they have a duty to defend themselves if they can.
      So, on this showing, if you think that the settlers embody, in sufficiently blatant fashion, an intention to enslave our steal by whatever 'force against person' is necessary then all adults who could reasonably be thought to belong to this body of people are legitimate targets.
      I'm sure that in Locke's time women could not be conceived of as prepared to join in organised 'force against person', but adult women are normal participants now. Perhaps he would have revised his opinions if faced with our situation. Still, children - young ones, at least - cannot have formed 'sedate intentions' with understanding of what they do. So even on this showing, which does, surely without tribalism, permit the 'innocent' to attack targets forbidden to others, young children are not to be attacked.
      Second level: the shooters in this case did not actually kill children but they did take action with a very high probability of children, those we call innocents, getting killed. I've always argued that the risks we accept are part of the actions we take, so the actual survival of the children doesn't make much difference to the morality of the action. The same, to a massively greater extent, with the Israeli attacks on Gaza and other targets.
      Third level: what if the other side is indeed aggressive in the extreme, creating a great mass of aggrieved 'innocence' in Locke's sense? Are you then in a position where you can't do anything right, ie must either fail in the duty to respect the lives of children who are human shields or in your duty of self-defence by possible means? I'm not offering a solution to these terrible questions with any special confidence.

    • Me too; the killings were wrong in all the circumstances

  • Palestinian solidarity movement will 'grow and grow and... be impossible to stop' -- Slaughter to Clinton in 2011
  • Facing Reality: Jewish terrorism is no longer limited to just a few bad seeds
    • I too think that there is a basic moral law, known in general terms to the generality of the human race, that is flouted by what has happened in Palestine. To put it another way, there does not begin to be a justification of the practice of Zionism in recognised moral principles. Particular statements drawn up by committees do not have the same importance as our deepest sense of right and wrong - but if they embody the agreed international law of a certain time they do have some importance, at least for that time, and do deserve some respect. That is why Hostage's contributions here have made such an impact - including an impact on the other side, I believe.
      I agree that words like 'probably illegal' - just probably? - seem a bit disappointing and weak when set against the admirable passion of rosross' wider remarks. However, it's still true that if we could constitute a generally respected court and have it pronounce that the treatment of the Palestinians has been an outrage then that would be of some practical value. To call that prospect remote would be a serious understatement, of course.

  • For the 'New York Times,' #PalestinianLivesDoNotMatter
    • I don't know about that, press. - nice to hear from you again - to some extent shame or at least guilt is part of humanity. So is self-justification, I know - but some of the preening and bombast of the likes of Mr. Shavit, often quoted here, seem like overcompensation for that nagging knowledge that wrong has been done.

    • It may well be that, as you say,,she was merely seeking to get across the barrier and became, in the horror of the situation, paralysed by fear. Some are suggesting that she knew full well what would happen and was determined to reveal the the horror and inhumanity of the checkpoints at the highest risk to her own life. This suggestion may be made amid 'Pallywood' type sneers but those who would sneer merely disgrace themselves. If the suggestion were in fact true I for one would not think less highly of her.

    • The little twerp with the massive firepower was scared at the time though probably will not admit it - more scared than she was, perhaps. In later days he will be deep down ashamed, though he will probably not admit that either or seek repentance.

  • Amnesty: Killing of Hadeel al-Hashlamoun was 'extrajudicial execution'
    • I don't think that there is a moral obligation on the oppressed to learn the language of the oppressor.

    • You do mention her dark threats against the Jewish people, abc, but do you sufficiently emphasise that this is a case of anti-Semitism doing its dreaded work? We see the deepest characteristics of this horror in the young woman: indifference to reality, immersion in prejudice, hostility and cowardice. No doubt her cowardice is exceeded only by that of her menfolk who certainly put her up to it, all the while cringing in a hovel somewhere. What an informative contrast with the other side - did she fondly imagine that she could rattle settlers, unsettle them even?
      Horror, but also sadness that someone could go so far in refusing to recognise the humanity of the Other.

  • 'NYT' piece on stonethrowing leaves out 'occupation'
    • Not in the Bible, I think, JLD, but in Josephus' account of the incident in the Temple that led to thevJewish War. Josephus thinks that the Romans missed many chances to restore order before everything went wrong.

  • What's behind Netanyahu's war on stone throwers
  • Pope Francis, American churches, and Palestinian rights
    • Well, all sorts of thoughts are attributed to the Pope. On the whole I see in him yet another liberal Zionist, which is after all the standard position among the leaders of the Christian West: he has done and said nothing to challenge them on this. A tear for Palestine is by no means incompatible with liberal Zionism: see Professor Beinart, often reported here. I see no sign of the impasse passing. indeed I see, as I suggested above, the impact of the Pause at the Wall being allowed, surely deliberately and as a matter of policy, to fade. I don't really understand the difference between being 'muzzled' by concern for what might happen to the Church and being influenced by fear. Fear is after all quite reasonable when one is confronted with someone as menacing as Netanyahu.
      I'm not sure that the Pope has ever thought of Israel in the apocalyptic terms of Mt.25, or indeed that he should have been. But if he was it would be even more pressing for him to say something explicit. The prophetic task is to say the bitter things out loud and soon, as Isaiah's call-vision - and Marc Ellis quite often - remind us.
      But then I'm a liberal/sceptical Protestant. Just to add that it's not quite fair to say that no Pharisee ever even muttered a reference to love of neighbour as self - this is after all a quote from Leviticus. It's hardly prominent in Leviticus, I agree, and the Christian claim that these rather under-emphasised verses were really the crucial key to the moral behaviour demanded by the Hebrew Scriptures was a challenging one.

    • I think he could encourage his people to say the sort of things that some of the more forthright Protestant leaders have been saying and indeed that many ME Catholics have said. If Mondoweiss can make itself noticed in the United States the Pope can get certain ideas more noticed worldwide, should he choose. But because he does not wish to pay the price or endure the storm of accusations of anti-Semitism that would result or because he is just as much a liberal Zionist as most Western leaders are he does not seem to be making that choice.

    • The Pope did pause beside the Wall but this gesture, if not emphasised nor reinforced nor put in context by some clear statements about the morality of the matter, was bound to come to nothing. It has in the event been reinforced only by the unremarkable garden ceremony and by the rather more significant, though very limited, diplomatic dealings with the PA. Perhaps this isn't quite 'coming to nothing', but is close to it in my view.
      It would have been possible for the Pope to let people know that he would approve of at least a modest degree of pressure on Israel and this would have resulted in the letter we discussed here recently, signed by many Christian leaders (though with a degree of ambiguity about whether they were speaking for their organisations), having some Catholic bishops, as well as such usual suspects as the Maryknoll Fathers, among its signatories. In fact the signals must have been to the effect that the question was best not discussed too loudly.
      Church property in the Holy Land is part of the story, as has been said, but even more important, I think, is the objective of reinforcing the positive account of the Vatican in WW2, widely accepted but still controversial, by recognising the Pope of that time a saint. This couldn't be done amid vigorous Jewish objections, which means in effect that Netanyahu must give his permission.
      The matter has been discussed through rather extraordinary diplomatic smoke signals, such as Netanyahu's threatening gift of his dad's book on the Spanish Inquisition and the recent elevation to sainthood of two little known nineteenth-century Palestinians coupled with or balanced by that act of elaborate respect to the remains of Theodor Herzl. again perhaps balanced by the timing of the American visit, which according to 'On Faith', a website spun off from the Washington Post, is noticeably distracting attention from the current Jewish festivals and has none of the customary interfaith aspects. Well, perhaps that view is paranoid, but I do think that there is some rather strange exchange of symbols going on and that the sainthood of Pope Pius is a very significant matter and I don't think we should expect much of the Vatican while that question is unresolved or for some time after it is.
      Just to add that we should expect even less from my org, the Church of England, where the only remotely decisive relevant action of last year was to crush. absolutely Krrush, the (all but only) well-known anti-Zionist among our clergy, Stephen Sizer - alleged by the Jewish Chronicle, I think, to be among the sinister figures flitting around Mr. Corbyn.

  • Syrian and Palestinian refugees can be helped by better representation on TV and in film
  • Settlers gawk as Palestinian woman lies dying at checkpoint (Update)
    • I feel rather bad about using. even in order to scorn, the stomach-turning terminology, but I suppose it is close to what the settlers think and that they would quite likely throw some religious words into the mix, making it even more horrible. I also think that reports like that of the BBC. dominated by the reactive Palestinian violence at the funeral and then by the cold language of the Israeli account, moderated only by what were presented as the allegations of a bystander, conveyed without using shocking language the same shocking idea about the violence, implicitly the terrorism, of the Palestinians. The general style of apparently responsible Western comment on this situation is still abjectly subservient to Zionist imperatives. Tariq Ali has been saying that Corbyn's new prominence will force some change in the BBC. though I'm not so sure. I think the framing will be 'answers demanded from Corbyn about his unsavoury associates'.

    • Not sure I can bear to look at the video but you're right of course. Did you imply by 'MS Hughes' that I am one of the honourable women here? In fact I am of the other gender - Martin

    • The BBC is reporting the incident, laying stress on the funeral violence and giving full prominence to the story that she pulled a knife and that efforts were made to deter her by shooting at the ground, though all this is denied by 'a Palestinian man who was nearby'. I'd still be of the opinion that there must be ways in which several heavily armed men, though the most prominent shooter appeared to be little more than a boy, can restrain an individual woman with a knife.
      'But then they would have been afraid that she also had a bomb. That would also have been why they had to leave her to bleed. That's the price that terrorist societies must pay in their confrontation with the forces of civilisation.' I don't believe this. There must have been an alternative.

    • It was the unconcerned, uninterested expression of the settlers that impressed me. What they saw was a minor administrative problem being dealt with.

  • Being in exile from oneself
  • Teenager's killing brings toll of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces this year to 25
    • I am not as sure as some colleagues that the dam is being busted but every one of Kate's compilations helps to stop it from being consolidated. I found the news that there is so little hope of an independent Palestine among Palestinians rather chilling. Let them not despair! I must find my way to the Jumana Manna exhibition.

  • The Obama administration needs to own up to the quagmire in Syria
    • I understand you to say, annie, that the diplomatic possibilities of five years ago will not recur in their original form but that there are now certain diplomatic possibilities for seeking what is most urgent, ie the ending of the war, which should be explored. Reminding Obama of his responsibilities is a way of pressing for this to happen urgently. I agree. So does the London Evening Standard, which I was reading on the way home tonight.
      I don't actually think that arrogant dismissiveness is within your repertoire - anyway not unless you're very seriously provoked.
      I share your admiration for Kathleen's contributions to the cause.

  • Ad targeting Sen. Bennet says Iran wants to nuke the world's children
    • I remember discussing that image with an indignant Goldwater supporter. I recall his protest at the unfairness of LBJ's proclaiming 'the issue is peace or war'. Mind you, LBJ was using frightening war imagery to present himself as a peace monger - will frightening war imagery work if the context is a call for war rather than peace with Iran?

  • Fasting for Palestine
    • I think that Shahak does not seem to have acknowledged fairly that the Talmud is trying to explain why it is, not why it may not be, desirable to save life regardless of all other concerns. On the other hand Lord Jakobovits' cited reply does not do him much credit, since it employs the unduly violent rhetoric which Keith notes and fails to explain the saving of life as following from morally valid and overriding human sympathy, which is what Shahak was looking for.

    • O mi God, Kay, what manner of man is this?

    • I don't think that the Talmud works by having every opinion expressed balanced by another, conflicting one.
      The problem to which Shahak drew attention was that though it seems to be assumed that the Sabbath would indeed be broken in order to save a life - Shahak's acquaintance who refused to do this seems to have been untypical - it was not clear from any authority why this was so. Different authorities differed on the reason rather than on the principle, and the most prominent reason offered (but not universally accepted) was that 'one Sabbath should be broken to ensure that many more are observed' and this seems to explain why a pious Jewish, but not another kind, of life should be protected, since only pious Jews properly observe the Sabbath.. There are clear indication that righteous non-Jews deserve consideration but since they are not expected to observe future Sabbaths it is not so clear why they are, on the strength of this argument, so deserving..
      This rather academic dispute did not amount to a declaration of the lower 'absolute' value of non-Jewish lives, but there again the whole atmosphere of the discussion does not exactly convey the idea of 'absolute' human rights. Modern sophisticated literary analysis would be taxed by these questions. Shahak did seem. when he published his scandalous views, to receive some support from rabbinical quarters. On the other hand his rather angry tone was not really objective.
      The connection of specific Talmudic rulings or controversies with Zionism is quite subtle.

    • Surely there are ways of dealing with a protest of this kind, if protest it was, without simply exterminating the protester. If she was making the point at the likely expense of her own life that this is the result that the system produces then that point deserves attention, though its likelihood of gaining attention through the walls of censorship and indifference may, as straightline notes, be quite low.

  • Everyone's kicking AIPAC now that it's down
    • I would forgive JVP for everything if they would do what LibZionists are supposed to do and press the United States to give full, resolute backing to some definite form of 2ss. That might just possibly bring about the elusive peace. At least the world would see a lot more about where everyone really stands. But if the hard core of liberalism - or proclaimed liberalism - within Zionism remains silent and immobile on this matter it will win the international hypocrisy award many times over. That too in the end might make things clearer,

  • Rev. Graylan Hagler disinvited to speak on Palestine, sent death threats
    • Carson would argue, I suppose, that Islam is a religion which believes in the supremacy of the religious over the political organisation, or that the latter should be a branch of the former, and therefore that a Muslim President would impose (though maybe conceal) a religious test in every appointment made and indeed on every policy adopted. Many might reply that this is true of some, but only some, versions of Islam and no less true of some versions of other religions and of some versions of atheism. If Richard Dawkins were President he might be excessively unsympathetic to religious people when it came to assigning jobs.
      Perhaps there's a hint of paradox - does the prohibition on religious tests imply a test to keep out forms of religion that would call for religious tests? There's certainly a paradox in calling for religious freedom and then surrounding a particular religion - the religion, not the known behaviour of millions of its adherents who are citizens and neighbours - with fear, suspicion and paranoia.

  • Bernie Sanders is 'radical' on economic policy but a pussycat for Israel
    • Jefferson said, as I recall, that holding slaves was like holding a wolf by the ears - it would be very dangerous to let go, though in the end you would have to. Perhaps this was an expression of sympathy with the recolonisation, back to Africa, projects of the time. Certainly he was setting great store by the security of the dominant group, which corresponds to certain arguments about Palestine current at the moment which Sanders may find persuasive.

  • J'lem mayor warns Palestinians in holy site clashes: 'if they use violence we will hunt them'
    • The liberty to practise one's religion or express atheism does not imply the liberty to take over (permanently or at will) the sites in established use of religious groups not one's own and to conduct one's own rites or prayers or declamations there. On the contrary, it implies stable possession, regardless of how popular or powerful one's own group is, of places of worship and debate. Anything else creates fear that enforced change in the patterns of religious life may be on the way.

  • 'NYT' and 'NYRB' publish important pieces on Jewish terrorism
    • If many Jewish people were violently and unjustly expelled from Khazaria, as I strongly suppose that they were, then it follows by parity of reasoning from the less religious, more historicist, versions of Zionism that Israeli annexation of Khazaria may be overdue. I'll-defined borders need not be a problem.

  • Losing My Religion: A high holy days reflection
    • Well, just making a small effort to say that real life in the Kingdom of the Jews may not have been as discriminatory as all that. It may well have been that the educated class, the judges and civil servants,, were proto-rabbis. though other views are possible. However, Josephus' remark about the laws concerning theft (Antiquities 16:1) do seem to show that the law that was enforced did not come from a rabbinic council, thinking entirely of theology, but from the monarch, who naturally had wider and more pragmatic concerns, such as maintaining law and order and encouraging foreign traders. I agree with Stephen that some forms of rabbinic council continued - it might be better to say emerged - under later Roman rule but they would not have been able, even if they wanted to, to enforce discriminatory legislation (or indeed take any action) against non-Jews.
      I believe that the Sanhedrin restorationists cited by Stephen are highly questionable as a source for history. The Jewish Encyclopedia is much better in handling the rather difficult evidence. It is very widely agreed that the Talmud, a rather later document, at least overstates the importance and continuity of rabbinic authority in the days of the Kingdoms and the Temples.

    • That information is interesting as an illustration of the Talmudic sense of Jewish exceptionalism but I doubt if these rules were ever really operative, since I don't think that rabbinic courts, with freedom to interpret the Bible or reinterpret it quite significantly, existed in the Herodian Kingdom. Herod had his own ideas about the requirements of the Bible - Josephus mentions that there were objections to his practice of allowing Jewish criminals to be sold into slavery outside the country. Josephus says nothing about any organised court or even any organised religious group that opposed him, rabbis in the later sense not really existing at that time. The courts and judges were clearly responsible to the king and did not constitute a Beth Din in Talmudic style. Herod's Hasmonean predecessors were equally inclined to keep authority to themselves.

  • Which nation spends more on its military: Iran or Israel?
    • A very interesting point, lysias. Are the campaign donors real donors or are they more like front men - no doubt proud of what they do for the cause - for a system which organises money from tax breaks and government contracts so that it flows into politicians' campaign chests?

    • It is clear that Israel is, in certain very important senses, an existential threat to the Palestinians. If this threat is not to be carried out then there does need to be reasonable compromise. The natural first step is for Israel to propose a fully worked-out scheme, withdrawing the existential threat (so involving 2 states) and ending the dire dynasty of meetings with nothing to discuss, and say that it is prepared to consider any counter-proposals. This is the only way to demonstrate that the half-mythical Two State Solution is in fact more real than the Yeti.
      Those Israeli citizens who would like to have a solution ought, I would suggest, to press forward with concrete proposals of their own.

  • How Israel legitimizes vigilante terror
    • Yes, thanks, you're right, echino, I hadn't been aware of the strongly Marxist element in PZ - though I was vaguely aware of it's being for some time an affiliate of the party I vote for. I now discover that this affiliation resulted from the personal attention to the matter of no less a person than Ben-Gurion in 1920. But PZ would not be alone in being atheist but somehow very attached to the Book of Joshua, I think.

    • It would have been difficult for Poale Zion to claim less than is implied by Genesis 15:18 - 'from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates'. The Bible is the Bible.

  • 'New Yorker' says anti-Zionism is 'firmly rooted' in British left, and it's anti-Semitic
    • We may all define terms as we like. If anti-Semitism is anti-Jewish prejudice it's irrational and wrong. If anti-Semitism is opposition to plans and projects to which a substantial majority of Jewish people are strongly committed it may not be irrational or wrong, because no human group is impeccable.

    • The argument that opposition to Zionism has long existed on the Left in this country but that it must be snti-Semitic, ie based on prejudice against Jews, because some Jews have been murdered for being Jews elsewhere, and only recently. - so not particularly relevant to long-held ideas - is wildly illogical. If there has been an anti-Jewish atrocity in recent times the existence of this atrocity does not prove, does not even suggest, that all objections to something done over the long years by people who are Jewish are without rational foundation. Who has bewitched these journalists and their besotted readers?

  • Israeli soldiers raid Al Aqsa courtyard, attack worshipers
    • Despite these provocations and violations of property rights I still think that Israel is years away from any real plan to re,-create the Temple,, which would massively divisive. Israel isn't ready for white,-robed priests sacrificing sheep on a regular basis.

  • Iran Deal's liberation: Judaism is not Zionism
  • Video: Israel's celebrated Labour Party 'is the mother and father of racism', says member of Knesset
    • It's a basic matter of right and wrong. I don't ask for support for Palestine as a means to a more general reformation of society but because fundamental oppression is happening there and being applauded and sanctified within the culture to which I belong. Perhaps I am a POP - RoHa's coinage, I think - progressive only on Palestine. Please don"t make it POOP.

  • 'NYT' openly counts Jewish politicians, and Obama and Clinton both reach out to Netanyahu
    • The 'preserved edge' is to be expected. Mind you, that edge has existed for a very long time in its current form and has not led to an attack on Iran,, which suggests to me that two parties are close enough to an overall balance of power not to see much advantage in starting another war. I don't see ultimatums flying around or much general,preparation of public opinion for the war drums. Iran is looking for improved international standing and greater security against Islamic State. Israel is fundamentally content with a status quo which allows the nibbling away of just a little more of the substance of Palestine every week.

  • Could Syria's revolution have been different?
    • It might be argued that a legitimate ruler, like Lincoln or Obama, is allowed to use violence in a way that a tyrant is not. Assad is not a legitimate ruler in the sense of acting with the consent of freely elected representatives, the standard for which Locke argued. However, it seems that there is no clearly better alternative and one, Islamic State, which seems much worse (and not to be under Western control!) and this fact seems to me to create a degree of legitimacy in Assad until things change and the better possibility comes to exist. This is enough to make intervention morally questionable.
      I too wish that the Syrian civil war had not broken out , but then I don't call for more violence in Palestine either even though I do think that the Israeli regime in Palestine fails Locke's test. This doesn't imply rejoicing in violence on Assad's part.
      In retrospect I am glad, as I think Atlanta is, that Lincoln defeated the Confederacy but I'm aware of the dangerous nature of the 'total war' or 'terrible swift sword' idea that the conflict engendered.

    • I don't think interventions are always morally wrong: it's conceivable that they will reduce suffering by a very large margin and permit a legitimate regime to emerge. The attacks on the Axis countries in WW2 were acts of war against them but were also interventions in their internal affairs and more legitimate regimes did emerge from them.
      However, the track record of interventions is very poor and many conditions have to be met if yet another is contemplated: having a serious chance of making things better is very important among these - and I can't believe it's met in the case of Syria. This does give a certain limited legitimacy to tyrants: if it would be morally wrong to overthrow them then it becomes necessary to make treaties or at least promises to them which become morally binding on us.
      Another problem with intervention is that great power rivalry becomes involved. If there is, in the near future, to be a better situation in Syria it would have to come, I think, from Russian-American dialogue, but this would inevitably be a dialogue about great power interests and thus look very like sharing out the spoils. Still, I hope Obama is, in all the circumstances, thinking along these lines.
      I think we may sometimes have to discuss the context, as well as the substance, of the Palestine question. But I hope that Phil and the Mods will prevent us from ever treating Palestine as just another element of world politics, the merit (almost the glory, to lapse into religious language) of Mondoweiss is that it does not let us forget Palestine and the 'fundamental oppression' (to quote Beinart) that occurs there.

  • 'NYT' misrepresents Iran's prediction about 'Zionist regime' to mean 'Israel'
    • Why this hateful Nakba justification, surely a worse thing than Nakba denial, is regarded as within the rules of this discussion I cannot easily comprehend. Some of us can bring ourselves to bandy words with these people but I find that quite hard.

    • I agree subject to correction that this - the explicit equation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism -.was a step that MLK never took, at least not in writing or in a major speech. It would perhaps have led to the open split with Carmichael and the Young Militants which he was trying to avoid. But how he could have avoided it for ever under increasingly searching questions I don't know. His correspondence in September 67 after the near-disastrous Conference of New Politics nailed his colours to the Z mast. The atmosphere of liberal Niebuhrian Protestantism was drawing him in that direction too.

    • If the reference is not to the West Bank but only to Jordan beyond the river the remark is morally scandalous, since I don't grant someone due and proper rights by saying that (s)he can have some rights somewhere but only on condition of the violation of other rights by me, as when I seize hearth and home.

  • A guide to the worst refugee crisis since WWII
    • Perhaps one day the experience of Europe in accommodating refugees, the desperation of the Palestinians as more and more of their territory is gobbled up and the readiness of the United States to pay for Israel's needs will come together to produce the great Palestinian population transfer, able to be presented as consensual, which is the gleam in many eyes.

    • The Daily Telegraph article is written (as usual) in support of the policy of the Conservative government, taking in refugees but making sure or claiming to make sure that they can be returned in due course to whence they came. They are presented as deciding rationally, rather than panicking and as the sort of people who could quite easily fit back in to a restored Syria.
      I didn't understand Browneyes to be saying that they have no right to come to our shores: people surely do have a right to flee war zones, a point I've often made re 48. I agree with her that the movement of people is making peace and reconstruction ever more difficult. Annie's remarks remind us that when the guns are blazing nearby the distinction between a rational and a terrified or even panic-stricken decision is pretty hard to make.
      And of course the UK government's attempts to treat the crisis with calm deliberation and to assure us that it can reverse its effects are nonsense. The refugees will bed down in our economies and those economies won't be able to do without them. The medical practice I attend couldn't recruit a new doctor for about 10 months and the same seems to be true of my 102-year old mother's practice in a very different part of the country. A few well qualified Syrians might come in very handy.
      The most sinister thing is that according to another of today's headlines the Government is thinking in terms of military intervention in Syria, presumably thinking of encouraging Obama in this direction, to be directed against Assad and against Islamic State. It's true that the only way to have many of the refugees go home is to have the war end quickly but here are people thinking in terms of yet another Iraq or Libya.

  • The Iran Deal is an African American achievement
    • I have the impression that Obama is having the experience, rare for him, of watching the opposition crumble at every level, Congress, the wider Establishment, the American public, world opinion. The logical next step would be for him and his liberal Zionist allies to put a 2 state proposal, in which the heart and soul of liberal Zionism appear to be invested, on the table and call for referenda in Israel and the Territories. It would be extraordinarily hard for any party, from beyond Likud to further than Hamas, to refuse to heed that call. That's not to say that the plan would be approved or be put into effect but even so the experience would be desperately clarifying. I have no confidence in 2ss but unless a serious attempt is made we won't ever know what it might come to - and the evil status quo will continue.

    • I believe that the term 'Black Caucus' first came to prominence in 67, at a turbulent 'Conference of New Politics', and that the most prominent demand of the group concerned was for a commitment to Palestinian liberation. MLK addressed the meeting but left quickly and tactfully. Hosea Williams then took the lead in persuading the Caucus to withdraw its proposal, but King was searchingly questioned by some correspondents. His letters which made his commitment to Zionism pretty absolute came in response, towards the end of September 67.
      The name 'Congressional Black Caucus' - was it in use before? - seems to allude to this episode and on the whole the CBC has In many ways followed MLK's lead, which was in this case calamitous. I think I've seen it on Friedman's authority that it has been a steadfast supporter of aid to Israel. Its members did nothing to protect Jeremiah Wright when he was so disgracefully vilified.
      If current events mark a change of heart, very good. If it means that Black thinkers like Wright - and perhaps Ifill? - who have not been able to make themselves heard or understood for some time can now gain voice, there is hope for the cause of genuine moderation and anti-racism (genuine anti-anti-Semitism too).

    • Thanks for the reference to this article by Mr. Zogby, Kay. I think he's right that pro-Israel protestations will be duly made, but they will mean less than they used to now that the huge campaign has 'dropped a ton of money' without effect.

  • The Israel lobby is alive and well-- and split
    • One of the underlying forces is the West's emerging need of Iran as a counterweight to the Islamic Staters.

  • Update: UK petition calling for Netanyahu to be arrested for war crimes reaches 100,000 signatures
    • I think that the number of both groups of demonstrators was about halved in the report.

    • Yes, Froggy, that was a bit consoling. And I'll attend to the sanctions petition!

    • I was there too! We easily outnumbered the counterdemonstrators. I got talking to someone who turned out to belong to a Jewish group on our side of the barrier, who tuned out to be a Mondoweiss reader. He made the perceptive remark that there had been a kind of news blackout. There was certainly little evidence of television cameras and little hint of support from any large organisations such as trade unions. It was indeed a large and boisterous crowd, with all kinds of people and an encouraging age range. Still, I rather felt that we were un-persons attending an un-event. But they can't really wish us away by closing their eyes.

    • Thanks for the idea, RoHa, I'll work on it

    • To add, our grave and responsible senior journalists must be considering whether to treat all this as a) an understandable expression of disquiet b) a childish prank c) a demonic outbreak of anti-Semitism d) a complete non-event.
      I plan to be there on Wednesday too.. If I bump into bintbiba, all to the good.

    • When I was searching for reaction to the petition (I had signed) I noticed very little interest from the good old UK MSM.

  • Debacle for the Israel lobby: Booker jilts Boteach, and Netanyahu sinks AIPAC
    • I'd also suggest that this is the hour of the liberal Zionists, the people who have backed Obama. They will move increasingly to centre stage, meeting the wild applause of the huge world majority that thinks a 2ss the obvious way out. This may have positive effects even if the 2ss is the half-mythical or at least transient being that I would think it is.

    • I didn't find the 972 article that convincing. The public failure to control the US political class is a serious matter - how could it not be when so much is spent on the effort? It is true that this class of people would support Israel in any new act of terrible violence - but even then I'm not sure that there wouldn't be important dissenters, notably more than in the past. But Netanyahu knows that there are other things to be considered than congressional votes. He can't stop the steady move of world opinion against Israel with every fierce campaign or the increasingly hollow sound of the reply that 'you only say this because you're prejudiced against Jews' - and he knows that this process does matter in the long run.

  • Pappé on apartheid, ideology, Chomsky, and the contradictions of "liberal Zionism"
    • If the idea of Zionism is to make claims to the Holy Land which are exclusively on behalf of people who are Jewish then there can be no variant or version of Zionism which accepts the partition of the Land because any partition would constitute an acceptance of the right, in some sense the equal right, of certain non-Jewish people to ecost there.
      If the idea of Zionism had been to put two equal rights into equal effect then nothing like what has actually happened could have been done
      in its name.

  • God is on Israel's side, but not the United States, says Israel's new U.N. ambassador
    • I probably can't bring myself to read such stuff but it just shows, if this appears even now, how the likes of us still have very little on our side within mainstream opinion. Except being right. That' always worth something.

    • Josephus, struggling with the ideas that Abraham was an exemplar of justice and that he appeared to have disinherited his sons other than Isaac, decided that it had been more of distribution than a disinheritance - the Hagarites were left Arabia in Abraham's will, the sons of Keturah were authorised to found colonies in Yemen, the land of the troglodytes, leaving the Holy Land for Isaac. (Birgit van der Lans in 'Abraham, the Nations and the Hagarites' edited by Martin Goodman.). This is part of a fundamental problem, as I see it (if a Christian may say such things), in Jewish theology, which sets the Jews the task, not shared with others, of leading humanity back to God, it being impossible that all the nations should 'be added to Yahweh' until the last days. So there must, in everyone's interest, be both kinship and alienation. Some very complicated theological narratives result!
      The initial Christian response was to change the timetable somewhat, with the nations being available for addition to the true religion, therefore into acknowledged kinship with Jews, when the last days were approaching, rather than arrived. There had to be an agonising reappraisal when the fall of the Temple did not provoke God to bring the last days on. Jewish colleagues may think that Christians began with a rash re-reading of scripture and that things got worse from there.
      You may think this fanciful, but in a sense I think of Zionism (like Sabatianism before it) as another move in the same theological game. This time human kinship was to be expressed in the generosity of the true heirs to the Holy Land, who would permit others to be around with all the grace and goodwill that was possibly consistent with their own security - and they cannot understand how this attitude to people who have, as God most literally knows, no right to be there, is treated with such brutish ingratitude.

    • There was a version of one of these slogans on a car, reading Obama is Antchrist. Someone remarked that this was good news for our insect friends.

  • Calling Herzog and liberal Zionism ‘racist,’ Gideon Levy instigates a reckoning
    • My view of Zionists is that they hold to an ideology which is very damaging to many people, therefore a serious matter, and above all morally mistaken, the mistake being demonstrable rationally from the best established and recognised principles - approximately those expounded in Locke's Second Treatise, for those interested in such things.
      By Zionism I mean the belief that Jewish people and they only have an inherent right - commonly called 'birthright' - to a share in sovereignty over the Holy Land. I'll work with other definitions if anyone proposes one, but that's the one I'm using for now. I believe it's fairly apt for the practice of Israeli governments and their defenders.
      Bornajoo may not share all my ideas but I imagine that he and I are not far apart. I cannot see that he can with the least reason be accused of even verging on prejudice for his remarks here, rational opposition to false ideas not being expressions of prejudice. If we oppose an idea we are at variance with all who uphold the idea, the whole relevant group. What else? I can't oppose Flat Earthism but not, in the relevant respects, oppose some whose beliefs place them in the Flat Earther category. Opposition means arguing that they are wrong in the relevant respects, not of course claiming that all members of the group are wrong about other matters, nor that they're all-round bad people all the time.
      However, to consider an idea false is to consider any idea which is a version of the first one false also. If the earth is not flat then all versions of the idea that it is flat are false also.

  • Abbas’s resignation from PLO could mean consolidation of power, ouster of rival
    • The headline might better have read 'alleged resignation' - he's never meant anything by these promises/threats before and it's not likely that he's about to start now. He's certainly in a situation where colleagues and protégés evolve into rivals but it does rather look as if no serious rival has emerged and that there's no alternative ideology or policy being debated. The same seems to be true in Israel, I suppose.

  • A year after Shipman lost his Yale job for speaking out on Israel's actions, some Jews say the same thing
    • In the UK there was a recent Guardian article, citing information from the Community Security Trust, which is certainly not prone to minimise the problems of Jewish people. It covers anti-Jewish incidents over Athe decade to, as I remember, 2014. It cites a few cases of what it calls extreme violence but it does not use phrases like lethal violence or homicide.
      There are about 600 homicides in the UK per year, thus 6000 per decade and our Jewish population is about 0.5% - I think both these figures are slight underestimates. If the risk to Jewish citizens were about average then there should have been about 30 homicides over the decade with British Jewish victims and even given a margin for uncertainty about who counts as British and Jewish the figure seems to be, even if we do not say it was zero, very significantly lower than 30 (I think that there was an Israeli Jewish victim of the 7/7 bombings in 2005.)
      I think that this is a reflection of the way that British Jews live in good areas, a result of their high status socially and in terms of education, a status of which they can legitimately be proud - though it also reflects somewhat well on the liberalism of British society in respect of racial monorities. I believe that things would not be too different elsewhere in Western Europe. Things would clearly be worse in terms of statistically predictable security in the Unitec States and in Israel, which has a very slightly higher himicide rate than France or the UK and where the percentage of homicide victims who are Jewish must be higher, considering the much greater Jewish proportion of the population.

  • One year later, Gaza is still in crisis
    • If you are ready to inflict a lot of suffering, why would that be? Advantage and profit could form a plausible reason. If you are ready to endure much by way of suffering and death, why would that be? That the people inflicting all that stuff are wicked oppressors who should be resisted at great cost is an explanation that deserves to be considered quite seriously.

  • Etgar Keret sometimes worries about what's happening to Palestinians
    • Good for Ms. McCollum! I don't know the exact provisions of the Leahy law, but it does seem, if the Times of Israel has it right, that proceedings have been started against the police officer responsible: does that mean that he has nor acted 'with impunity' and does that get Israel off the Leahy hook?

  • 51 Christian faith leaders urge Congress to vote for Iran Deal
    • There still seems to be some ambiguity about whether they are expressing the policy of their organisations or their personal views. I'm pretty sure that few Evangelicals share these views. The Catholic signatories seem on the whole to be rather marginal in their chuch - Mayknoll and suchlike honourable but hardly typical people - no bishops.

  • Hockenberry skewers Menendez for double standard on Israeli nukes and killings of civilians
    • Not a surprise, I suppose, that the Zionist claim to the whole of the Holy Land, which entails that there can be nowhere in that territory which is not under the sovereignty of a Jewish state or not available for ownership by Jewish individuals or organisations, should be ringingly reaffirmed. But where Rivlin really stands and what Cole calls paternalistic Zionism really amounts to is a complete mystery.

    • There is something to the argument that democracy, mass voting, is more likely to have rational results than theocracy, a form of oligarchy where religion has exceptional influence. However, that margin of difference is not very comforting when it comes to the terrifying question of nukes. It may even be that the religious principles of the theocrat cause some restraint. It may well be that democratic voters are prone to panic and rage or dangerous sullen anger in some circumstances. It may very well be that ideas based on religion or on a text commonly regarded as sacred have such influence, as they do in Israel and even in the United States, that democracy may be little different from theocracy in the rationality of its decisions.
      The NPT is highly flawed but worth keeping for now. It is viciously undermined if distinctions are drawn so that proliferation is permitted to regimes of which we approve.

  • End of lockstep US Jewish support for Israel is a triumph not a tragedy
    • The Wilipedia article on Gog includes - interestingly - copious references from Islamic literature (will theologians in Gaza argue that Netanyahu is the real Gog and Israel the genuine Magog?) and a terrifying speech by Ronald Reagan in 1971 that must be one of the sources for Bush's later pronouncements. Remarkable how these assonant names have captured so many imaginations.
      It's often regarded as a revision of the main text of Ezekiel, reflecting a phase when the main enemy was to the north - Maccabean times, perhaps. Whether it is particularly absurd among religious imaginings, as piotr suggests, I don't know. I would ask Bible readers to note that this is not the whole of Ezekiel, who at one point calls for acceptance of non-Jewish inhabitants of the Holy Land as what we might call fellow-citizens. Also,, if we are to take the text in a pretty literal spirit, how could we even think that it is being fulfilled when no leaders (or country with a leader, depending on how you read) with the (surely essential) assonant names have as yet appeared?

  • Over 1,000 Black activists, scholars and artists sign statement supporting freedom and equality for Palestinian people
    • Like just I worry about the condescending tone. Would Black (or other) activists who think it important to oppose oppression of the Palestinians (or anyone else) in public fashion decline to work with someone who has a) followed that very imperative for a long time b) made public statements sometimes through suspect media? The problem for the activists would be that these statements, though made in a good cause, may add legitimacy to bad people - bad precisely because they wish to damage the activists' own core supporters, on whose behalf they speak.
      They would, I think, not decline to work with that person if they were morally consistent. The imperative 'Speak!' does not naturally have an exception clause calling for silence when bad people are around, particularly not when you may suffer some damage for it: the whole idea of a moral imperative to help others is that you accept the risk of some damage to yourself.
      They should also reflect on the fact that the person concerned is ex hypothesi miles ahead of them morally, having been acting on the principle they have adopted long before they did. I too reflect that I was much slower than others in these things.

    • I was visiting my family in the United States at the time (back again today: great country!) and saw the incident unfold. Samantha Power of all people was heard to say that Clinton was a monster and I thought there was truth in it. I now suspect that Clinton calmed her own conscience by telling herself that she was resisting anti-Semitism. Both the sheer outrageous cynicism of the event and the terrifying way in which the ME issue lay just beneath the surface, not clearly faced, deeply shook me.
      If Wright had remained in touch with Obama then some legitimacy would have been given to those Black intellectuals who do not favour Zionism and progressive Jewish groups would have drawn close to them. This is the very force which we see rallying now, the subject of this article. We talk about the effect on Obama himself but we should think also of the effect on Wright and his cohorts, who were knocked into the middle of next week amid the general assumption that they were crazy irresponsible big mouths at very best. It's taken them all these years to come back.

    • I thought at the time that the Jeremiah Wright business was really the intrusion of the ME problem into the Clinton/Obama contest - it was the grand attempt to divide Obama from his Jewish supporters and donors. Obama had to reassure them with promises that he had to keep and that was the moment when he gained the world and lost a chunk of his soul. In return he received hollow assurances that Israel would be reasonable and make steady progress towards the half-mythical 2ss.

  • Aftermath of Iran Deal: a divided lobby, but Biden's camp says he has 'Jews'
    • A YouGov poll puts our support for the deal at 66:9. Mind you, it's even more true in Britain than in America that not many people are reLly aware of the matter. But the ability of Israel to influence the constitutional process has no parallel outside the United States.

  • Leading Israeli journalist says Israel is an Apartheid state
    • I think we know about this from certain clumsy interventions on Mondoweiss, designed to get us to say that we hate and despise Jewish people and celebrate Hitler"s birthday. I wonder if some of those sent to 'study' the likes of us will see that we are absolutely not what they were trained to think we were.

  • Meeting Jimmy Carter
    • The rhythms of Blaine's denunciation reminded me of Vachel Lindsay's 'Congo' - 'Listen to the yell of Leopold's ghost/burning in hell for his hand-maimed host!' I can't put President Carter quite on the same plane as King Leo, though his doomed effort to prop up the Shah was indeed a bad mistake morally and tactically. But the Cold War did dreadful things to all of us.
      I believe Italian ex-pat is expatriated in Boston. If you've time to recommend an Italian restaurant there suitable for a British visitor who honeymooned in Venice I'm sure Phil would forward a note.

  • Can Holocaust compensation agreements be a model for Nakba reparations?
    • They left, surely, because they were vicious anti-Semites who neglected their obvious duty to remain in a war zone in order to facilitate, by their absence, the destruction of the survivors of Hitler! And these very people are supposed to have some kind of rights? But then again, you're right, they never existed.

  • Roundtable on the Palestinian solidarity movement and Alison Weir
    • If we are to discuss the Alison Weir question further I think we need a new leading article, this thread being so long and convoluted.
      Meanwhile, I see the strength of the argument made by Gil (IM) about differences in objectives re Palestine but I sort of sense something else which may lie deeper, ie a difference of opinion about what is considered anti-Semitic and of how far we should go in reassuring those who are intensely suspicious of all anti-Zionist sentiments.

    • Alison Weir clearly thinks that there is a large potential body of support in the United States for the Palestinian cause if only the sheer horror of the situation were known. As far as I can see she does not exclude Jewish people from the group she hopes to win over, so I see no prejudice against people who are Jewish.

    • I don't think that it is supporters of the Palestinian cause who need to make an effort not to be racist. The Palestinians are deprived of their rights because of their race and ancestry. If we object to this kind and manner of deprivation as plainly immoral then we are committed to oppose the playing of the same trick against Jews. Opposition to all the works of anti-Semitism is in our logical DNA.
      Many, many efforts will of course be made to split Jewish from non-Jewish pro-Palestinians. Our noble Jewish friends would by themselves be an in-house heretical group to be slowly worn down by peer pressure. We non-Jewish non--Zionists would by ourselves be much more conveniently assailed and overwhelmed by accusations that we are junior Hitlers.

    • The most important point is that AW has never departed from universal principle by calling for inequality on grounds of race. The idea that we call for equal rights for Palestinians because we want some form of racist inequality is essentially grotesque. Policing each other in case we turn out to embody what we oppose is not resisting hostile rhetoric but facilitating it.

    • I think that helpful perspective on blood libel may be gained from M.R. James' magnificent, disturbing and distressing ghost story 'Lost Hearts', though that story has no Jewish dimension. The bad character is someone whose scholarly researches into the ancient world have drawn him into necromancy and have destroyed his moral balance in the process. The story is disturbing because it reminds us of the darker side of the early Western world which we have come to think of as the place where rational science and morality began to flourish.
      The children who are murdered are of course selected so as not to involve the magician with suspicious or vengeful families. One is a gypsy, wandering alone: though the story is short, it generates intense pathos around this character. The magician has forgotten that ghosts who have lost their hearts can grow claws and so he suffers their vengeance.
      It would not be surprising if medieval Jewish people had some involvement in necromancy, not because they were unlike non-Jews but because they inhabited much the same thought-world. If they needed victims they would look outside their own enclosed community. Quite likely non-Jewish necromancers would have looked with an evil eye on Jewish children, who would have been beyond all help once abducted from the ghetto.
      I presume that Toaff discovered some signs of the same people's having both an interest in necromancy and a desire for revenge after the murder of their families by crusaders. This might have been just another piece of historical research had Mr.Foxman not detected an insult. But of course both vengefulness and occultism are part of the human condition.

    • If the main justification for severing contact with an individual is that we need a defence against claims that we are anti-Semitic I would say that it won't work. We must expect these claims to be made often but almost never by someone who will explain what (s)he means by the word. The beginning of a right response is to ask for the meaning and take it from there: if the argument remains logical the claims, if made against rational objections to Zionism, are guaranteed to collapse in short order.
      The rhetoric of a anti-anti-Semitism in the Zionist cause is designed to transform accused into accuser: people emphasising the allegedly Jewish character of Israel claim, when there is complaint against injustice and cruelty to Palestinians, the prior right to accuse and judge those who complain. All defensive reactions - 'Of course I'm not anti-Semiitic! I can prove it!' - amount to accepting the rhetoric and permitting the change of subject at which it is aimed. You'll never prove it enough - and severances of contact with one individual will only lead to calls for more and more of the same against more and more people on the Zionists' ever-growing Little List.
      The tactical case for rejecting AW is not very strong.
      The moral case for rejecting anti-Jewish prejudice is always there, of course.

  • President Obama wants us to argue about the special relationship
    • For me, Tokyo is raising the question of common cause: if opposition to Zionism amounts to making common cause with a theocratic group - for the sake of argument an extremist and cruel one - can we still oppose Zionism? Similarly, could a reasonable person have opposed Tsarism if there was excellent reason to think that Stalinism would ensue?
      I would begin my reply by saying that the 'fundamental oppression' (Beinart's phrase, though he sees it only in the Territories) of Zionism does not cease to exist now because of other oppression that might exist in the future. So a degree of opposition to present oppression is necessary in all circumstances, even if the oppressors scorn us, at the level of morality. So that degree of common cause is inevitable.
      However, there is an equal moral duty to remind the theocratic opponents of Z, even if they're not listening, that we do not share their aims. At the level of practical politics there are a couple of principles that strike me. One is to be prepared for compromise and non-hasty transitions: there's never any point in trying to put everything right in one day. The other is to be careful about believing the propaganda of the existing regime about how awful its opponents actually are.

  • From Gaza to Oxford: persistence triumphs over tyranny
  • It's not bigoted to call out the Israel lobby over Iran Deal
    • Events like the panic against Japanese Americans in 41 may be in the past and may be regarded as shameful but certain restrictions on civil liberties are still very much with us. Your view is that back in the day the bad instincts were but ghosts and shadows of a half-forgotten past until the example and propaganda of Israel made them undead. Hophmi says they were part of a vigorous and authentic tradition. I'm not quite as confident as you are that Hophmi is wrong on that point, though I'm sure that in any event Israel's example is extremely powerful and effective. I have long thought that even the sunny America of back then had a deep streak of insecurity and that the rule of law and the power of common sense could not survive a sustained terrorist campaign, if one ever happened.
      That may sound as if I'm backhandedly praising the UK. That's not my intention. American politics can be frightening but that's not the whole story. We're setting out for Boston next week, that liberating place.

    • The claim that the United States has often restricted civil liberties is not a reason for excusing Israel or anyone for taking analogous action, if that is what they do - though the claim that the U.S. has done this kind of thing quite rightly (which I'm not sure that anyone is making) would be a reason. The important thing in the end is whether the examples actually set by the U.S., Israel or both are reasonable or not. If Israel is in fact following others down the primrose path that is not a good thing about Israel.

    • The question of who first acted in a certain way does not settle the question of who is setting the pace now; nor does the fact that we can identify the agent who acted first preclude the possibility that several agents are egging each other on, that one is exceptionally determined and that the other might pause if less strongly influenced.

  • Rightwing Israeli violence on the rise as leader calls for arson attacks on churches
    • Lev 18:22 is a bit puzzling, written in such strange language that what it forbids is rather uncertain, perhaps deliberately so. There is no biblical record of punishment's being exacted under this clause: perhaps it was not really meant to be actionable. However, we of the Christian persuasion have to reckon with the heavy echo of this verse in Epistle to the Romans 1:16 - 17. Liberal Jewish colleagues have my sympathy.

  • Shocker: 'NYT' runs front page press release for AIPAC warning Obama to cool his jets
    • I do take Shalev literally, though he uses literal statement for sarcastic effect. He's saying that some bigoted anti-Semitic statements are being made but that their importance is being grossly overstated and that far more horrible language is being used in the process, such as 'Jew-baiting dog whistle', which is indeed the most disgusting term I have seen recently used in what purports to be serious discourse. He quite rightly says that a politician should not be a) allowed to boast of an affiliation, b) allowed to protest when someone who opposes what he's doing draws attention to his boast. Perhaps he is a liberal Zionist and if so no doubt fails along with all the rest to make the L and the Z consistent, but that doesn't stop him from exposing the contradictions of others quite incisively.

  • University of Illinois Chancellor steps down as judge upholds Salaita lawsuit against school on 1st amendment grounds
    • Thanks, Echino. The meaning of my words, ivri, was that I wished views of which I disapprove, including Zionist views, to be expressed freely and without fear. Same for views of which I do approve, of course. I hope we're in agreement here.

    • I very much hope that all strongly held opinions will be voiced in classrooms without fear, Zionist ones not excepted. I rather think that this is indeed a victory over the forces of fear and that next time this kind of question arises it will the university authorities who have to pause and reflect rather than press the censorship button..

  • Leading US Jewish group opposes Iran deal, citing 'baseless hatred' of Jerusalem temple destruction 2000 years ago
    • I think that the JCRC is somewhat misrepresented. They're claiming to respect the views of those Jewish people who support Obama and to acknowledge their duty to avoid the baseless hatred = mutual hostility among Jewish people that led, in their view to the Temple's fall. They're not referring to hatreds in non-Jewish hearts. Mind you, I think that this degree of emphasis on Jewish solidarity - when after all they are American citizens discussing American policy - is disturbing.
      Johannesburg b Zakkai has been mentioned - he was a leader of the peace party and seems to have judged the Romans to have been more reasonable than the Jewish Zealots, which is a point of view worth recalling.
      The faction that took over Masada had, as well as I recall, been thrown out of Jerusalem before the Romans arrived. Josephus thought that they were exceptionally obnoxious.

  • AIPAC taking all but 3 freshmen Congresspeople to Israel in effort to sabotage Iran deal
    • I think that 'prejudice against Jews' is useful as a definition of anti-Semitism. It's a possible state of mind, heaven knows. At that rate all purported reasons and pretexts are compatible with the definition. People may use words as they like, but for my part I wouldn't add 'as an ethnic group' - there can be prejudice whose scope is religious or other. I wouldn't say 'prejudice or hatred', since hatred without prejudice would be (if it were to exist; I don't say it does) rational. I agree that anti-Jewish sentiment is a very weak force compared with liberal and pro-Jewish sentiment in the Western world these days.

  • Understanding the Partition plan
    • I agree absolutely with tree that no Israeli government will accept Palestinians as equal beings, in that the whole idea of Zionism is exclusive rights for Jewish people in the whole of the Holy Land. That is to say that all varieties of Zionism prohibit all solutions except the departure of the Palestinians for ever.
      If things changed to the point where there was an agreement signed and genuinely accepted one evening, with green-line Israel as one party, genuinely accepting the right of Palestinians to exist in Palestine, there would the next morning be two states. But it would not be the last word, since the screaming unfairness of the partition could not defended once the Palestinian right had been agreed. That is why it will not be agreed for a long time and why the road ahead is so long, dark, tedious and stony - for the Palestinians horrifically painful, for likes of us in the West dismaying, maddening and sad.

  • The burning of a Palestinian child: not an exception, but a result of Zionism
    • The current 'front-runner' for Labour Party leadership, Jeremy Corbyn, has long advocated the Palestinian cause, for which of course I admire him though I'm not a socialist and don't share his economic outlook. If he is elected he will face a coup from the Blairites and I'm sure that accusations of anti-Semitism will play their dire part. I suspect that the coup will succeed but that the Palestine issue will be brought into our mainstream more than before.

  • Did the BBC cover up the anti-Semitism of Gaza's children?
    • I think that anti-Semitism is a reasonable term for prejudice against Jews - not the same as rational objection to the actions of people who are in fact Jewish.
      If people whose families have been eliminated by people who are in fact Jewish identify those responsible as Jewish people their statement is not untrue: that it results from prejudice rather than rational observation of fact is quite hard to argue.
      Which is not to deny that prejudice against Jewish people sadly exists and should be rebutted wherever it is found.
      That this choice of words somehow makes the children of Gaza guilty people, with no good reason to object to what has been done to them or their relatives, is a preposterous and monstrous idea.

  • The extremism of the center in Israel
    • I would think that the proclaimed resort to administrative detention is mostly an admission that they will not be able to identify and convict the perpetrators by normal legal means - and we all know that the difficulty resides in the quasi-independence of the settlements and their iron code of omerta in these circumstances. How useless law is when governments give fundamental approval to people who fundamentally despise the law. So a few people, who may or may not include the real perps, will be detained for what will have to be a short time, since they will have good legal representation and good political support, and will then return gloating to their homes to the hero's welcome that we will watch - they will see to it that television screen worldwide display the spectacle - with horror and stupefaction, however well we knew that it was coming.
      Obama will praise the sincerity and effectiveness of Israeli efforts against terrorism from all sides.

  • Leading American writer Abulhawa is denied entry to Palestine
    • What are the responsibilities of embassies and consulates in respect of citizens denied entry to a foreign country?

    • I too don't want to replace one form of ethnic nationalism or racism with another but I think that Susan's implication - that there is something not only objectively wrong with the situation but also (somehow) subjectively on the conscience of the interrogator and exposed by consideration of who has 'roots' in what soil - was fully justified. The bluster and bravado of some, like Mr. Shavit's 'standing with the damned', is scar tissue over a troubled conscience. (Were the interrogator's thick layers of makeup an admission that she knows there's something wrong when she looks at her own naked face?)
      Sovereign states have the legal right to exclude people but it would still be morally wrong to exclude people on the ground that they were, say, Jewish. What's happening here I think is that someone well known as a writer was kept out because negative reports would have resulted from her visit. She's been limited to writing about her own ill-treatment and that is not as powerful as writing about the ill-treatment of others. Sovereign exclusion of people on the ground that they will say bad things about you is morally very questionable, like exclusion on grounds of race, and is itself the sign of a wounded conscience. Goading and provoking people into being rude and uncooperative so as to have an excuse to exclude them is also a mean and miserable thing.
      If Germans had been treated like Palestinians by Turks and you were trying to get in and being fairly firmly humiliated then you would not do wrong by exaggerating the number of your cousins. I have only three. Mind you, if you start counting second cousins numbers can escalate.

  • Amnesty: Israel committed war crimes in retaliation for capture of Israeli soldier
    • I thought that Finkelstein showed that the Amnesty report should be treated with some caution but not that it was worthless. If Amnesty is about to condemn Palestinian self-defence, ie I suppose argue to the effect that there is nothing that they can do which is legitimate, then I think we should consider that argument very carefully.

  • In wake of January attacks, French Muslims have been demonized in manufactured 'clash of civilizations'
    • Just to say that I believe in freedom of speech for everyone, meaning that the laws of every society should see to it, as well as they are able, that no one should be punished as a criminal or subject to private violence or vengeance because of the content of their ideas. I think that there may be limitation on the choice of times and places where ideas are to be expressed, so as to preserve public peace, relationships in the workplace and so on.
      There may well be restrictions on the use of megaphones and such like: no one should be compelled to listen. The other side of this is that if I don't like what I hear I can walk away or if I wish to I can answer back, myself having free speech too.
      I have sometimes had bad things said about me and I have wanted the people concerned to shut up and wanted this quite badly. This doesn't give me the right to destroy or disturb public peace by using force. In very extreme circumstances there are laws about libel etc.m but these can be very damaging themselves.
      I note with great concern that the UK government is moving towards prohibition of 'extremism without violence' and I can see that the proposition that Zionism is morally illegitimate, which I consider to be true, could in some circumstances be regarded as extremist. But then I want the likes of Pamela Geller to be allowed her say too, even though I have little intention of listening to such, meaning that I want the option of showing impatience or even contempt by ignoring her remarks or the opportunity to answer them should I choose. I can neither ignore or answer what has been kept from me by censors.

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