Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 3826 (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 3826 - 3801

  • US feels the heat on Palestine vote at UN
    • Well, I think you may have that right, lysias. On the one hand cushy jobs and a Blair-millionaire lifestyle, on the other hand the slightly pale, disowned by successors, existence of a Jimmy Carter.

  • Memo to Sen. Warren: More young Dems want US to side with Palestine than Israel
    • This must be the result of information (Zionists would have another word for it, I know) circulating with ever increasing force at the student level. However, I'm sure it would still be total career suicide for some like Warren, presenting herself as a reformer but of course a safe and moderate one, to come out for the Palestinians - that situation will persist, unless there are some unexpected shocks to the system, for another decade at very least.

  • As Kerry and UN press on occupation, Netanyahu sees a 'diplomatic assault'
    • The BBC story seems to be that the gunman 'demanded an Islamic State flag' - so he wanted to associate himself with the current Islamist bogey - and that he fired the first shot. perhaps at an escaping hostage, causing the response that ended the siege with one hostage dead. What Ronald Reagan might have called a loony-tunes character but such people are part of the story now. In response the dark tide is flowing.

    • Bang on cue, talking of Australia, comes the seemingly Islamist cafe siege in Sydney, now prolonged for several terrifying hours. The dark anti-Islam tide is immediately starting to flow. Its waves will, I think, surmount by many metres, as they always do, the feeble ripples of indignation against Them that we manage to raise when torture by Us or mass killings by Israel, a department of Us, washes briefly through the news.

    • The truth is slow to be recognised and the liberty that the Bible assures us comes from truth often comes slowly. The Book of Proverbs has Wisdom crying in the streets, which may be a realistic image. I can't imagine that Obama is about to break the habits of a lifetime or at least of a presidency and vote for the occupation to end at a definite time, though perhaps he will try to get a more bland resolution accepted by his compliant allies. If they aren't compliant enough he could say that he's tried to be reasonable but he quite understands Israel's refusal to let terrorists into holy places and will use his veto. His highly compliant Anglophone allies will applaud.

  • Why Israel's Jewish nationality bill is a big deal
    • I regard the Nationality Proposal as a reaffirmation of what has always existed, not so much as a a change. I think it is a mistake to regard the likes of Aharon Barak as representing a more virtuous phase of Zionism: the likes of him, remarking blandly that Israel is Jewish in its immigration laws - thus skirting, rather outrageously, over the parallel fact that millions of non-Jewish people born in Israeli territory were excluded from it - were offering a misleading persona, not a better personality, for the Zionist system. Zionist judges, judicially reviewing the legislation of Zionist politicians, must in the end reinforce the basic mistake of Zionism, ie the claim to exclusive rights for people 'just because' they are Jewish and the denial of certain rights to certain others 'just because' they are not.
      Nails in the coffin of liberal Zionism have been mentioned - but I don't think that it will take long for judges and lawyers, sounding in almost every breath just like their liberal American counterparts, to become undead liberals - the state's Jewish character does not amount to discrimination against non-Jews but to an expression of generosity towards them in their displaced existence. living where they have no right to be. Where else are such people given so many basically undeserved rights, leading to so many material benefits? This is what liberal and not-so-liberal Zionists have always believed all the way back to Altneuland.

  • Liberal Zionists seek to strip Naftali Bennett of freedom to travel in hope of saving two-state solution
    • 'Supposedly' and 'we are told' are both normally expressions of scepticism. 'Supposedly' suggests that Israel's critics are not responding to real oppression. He seems about to say that 'we believe' that they are moved by anti-Semitism, but instead says 'we are told' which has rather the opposite effect. Very confusing overall.
      However, I'm pleased to see that even Walzer, as RoHa notes, is calling, even amid some confusing words, for sanctions so explicitly. I think that the likes of us would disagree with him because in his view only 'the occupation' is wrong and because the only source of wrongdoing is rotten apples in the Israeli barrel. Whereas the ongoing attempted conquest, misleadingly called 'occupation', of certain places is simply the logical expression of Zionism, which does not divide the Holy Land and so claims all places within it, and because it's whole Israeli apple harvest and the whole barrel with all planks and rivets that embodies the idea of Zionism, which is a moral mistake.

  • Our Year-End Campaign: What Mondoweiss Means To Me
    • I found Mondoweiss a day or so after picking up Sand's book on the Jewish People in a Boston (I would have been much less likely to come across it in the UK) store - I was looking for reviews and opinions and remember Phil's lively description of an appearance by Sand in (as I remember) New York. I immediately thought, having read that article and few comments - meeting annie and Mooser for the first time - that here were interesting and fair-minded people. I rapidly came to appreciate how much hard information as well as well-argued opinion about the ME problem is available here. Above all I find MW a representative of genuine anti-racism.

  • 'Our Liberation Will Not Be Complete Until Everyone’s Is': A report from the American Anthropological Association boycott debate
    • I fully understand why the anthropologists want not to make it personal. Mind you, I'd have thought that if the 1,000 anthropologists are right and that certain institutions are deeply complicit in oppression - they mean persistent, vicious oppression - then those who make their living from these institutions and draw respect from their membership of it deserve at least to be made uncomfortable and to sense that something is going wrong with their own plans and prospects - that might impel them both to examine their consciences and to press their institutions, hence their societies, for change. If they are personally opposed to the oppressive policy they should not say 'Change things by all means but not at the expense of my career'.
      An accusation against an institution is an accusation against some persons, including all those to whom the institution gives an honoured place. I know how difficult and unnatural it is to meet someone whose activities seem to be the same as mine and to make that person logically my companion yet to say that to some extent at least I do not want his company. Yet if there is this ongoing, terrible oppression what choice in the end do I have?

  • It's always been a holy war
    • Well, annie, the attack on the rabbis certainly was - who could doubt it, or demand words to confirm it? - an attack on Zionism and its overweening arrogance. But it had religious symbolism as well - are words really needed to confirm that?
      If attackers and victims in this sort of religious-political theatre are of the same religious culture (Romero, Becket) then the attack screams for a distinction to be made between authentic/inauthentic within the group. If the attack comes from outside, from people who have to strain their eyes to bursting point in order (it is not so difficult for us in the West) to see any form of the religion in question that stands up for them and moreover are stared in the face every day by forms that call for their suffering and humiliation, then nothing about their attack conveys that distinction.
      I should just say to American that I am trying to oppose, not foster, demonising people on theological grounds - God knows enough of that has been done to the Palestinians.
      If I haven't answered RoHa's question properly - intentions are slippery things in many ways and loads of words may not clarify them. I think I'm saying that the meaning of actions is sometimes absolutely clear when intentions are not.

    • My 'seven devils' was only way of saying 'mentally unbalanced fanaticism of your own', which is certainly a threat to other people as well to one's own immortal soul, should there be one.
      My previous comment crossed with RoHa's. I would think that when we say (truly) that actions speak louder than words - and we say this as a matter of common sense not because we have read Jacques Derrida - we must mean that some actions carry their meaning on their face and do not need words in any form - confessions, avowals and the like - to make their point to us, though of course that point can still be discussed, questioned and rejected in all sorts of ways.
      Legal proceedings are by no means the only way of getting an understanding of what actions mean - and when people start explaining themselves in court the result may be a repetitious rigmarole that tells us nothing (I thought this of Breivik - don't know why he was allowed so much grandstanding) or confuses us. Political theatre is to be understood as we would try to understand a drama.
      I think of other murders of religious figures. I don't know whether the people who murdered Oscar Romero were genuinely believing Catholics but they certainly came from a culture where priests are respected. That they chose to kill Romero in the course of a church service made the point that, in their interpretation of things, priests who make friends with communists and atheists cease to be priests. Their action said that louder than a thousand words. Even if they never articulated that point they still conveyed it and I'm sure Romero's death sent a certain shiver down the spines of every left-wing priest in Latin America.
      The knights who murdered Becket no doubt had several reasons for killing him in his cathedral rather than in the street but one reason must have been to make the point that this was an attack not just on an individual but on an overweening and arrogant Church - which had, in their view of things, no right to disrupt and near overthrow the political order for the sake of privileges and immunities for their own ministers: we might think of churches' protection of criminals in our own time. This is what their action meant and we can understand it even if they never made any verbal statement and even though more than 8 centuries have gone by. I mention this because it's an example of a good point unjustly and horrifyingly made.

    • Trials and legal proceedings may have brought some things out into the open but aren't indispensable for that purpose. We all knew what Breivik's actions meant before he told us at unnecessary length in court. Public actions are always a kind of performance and we can understand them, sometimes all too easily, in the way that we would understand something in a theatre.
      If you accept the idea that something is evil to an almost superhuman degree - demonic - then you will think of taking extraordinary steps, beyond ordinary moral law, to destroy that evil thing or at least to expose it for what it is. The well-known risk is that you invite seven devils into your own mind.
      It's said that the police chief of Braintree Massachusetts on arriving at the scene of murder supposedly perpetrated by Sacco and Vanzetti exclaimed 'Whoever did this knew no God!', so irreligion as well as religion can excite this kind of horror. And can lead to panic and abandonment of justice, which is what some people say was inflicted on S and V.
      The idea that we are dealing with a 'demonic' force should always be questioned very intensely.

    • Well, I think Ahmed is not directly arguing against, but somewhat deflecting attention from, the point being advocated stridently by those who complain that religious war has come. The murder of rabbis in a synagogue is not just a taking of lives but the making of a theological point - really, that Judaism, not just Zionism, is evil, indeed demonic. This is quite contrary to our view that real, authentic Judaism is a well that lies too deep for political taint and that when recruited to support Zionism it has always become inauthentic. I fear that it is the emergence of something new or at least something more starkly terrifying than it used to be. Of course theological representation of Islam as demonic is already commonplace in the West.

  • Israel has always been crazy
    • I think that Zionism has always - at least since it was fully defined in 1905, long before Hitler was heard of - been irrational in that its basic idea, that Jewish people, and they only. have an inherent right (birthright) to a share of sovereignty in the Holy Land, is indefensible and plainly contrary to all normal ideas of human right and never had any chance of being implemented without extreme violence. It's very rational, though, in that it has brought great successes and victories to which no short-term end is in sight.
      If I behave 'crazily' but am always rewarded and not only crazily but self-righteously and am usually praised then there's method in my madness.

  • Lieberman unveils racist peace plan: Pay Palestinians to leave Israel
    • It's quite important that all ways of winkling the Palestinians out of Palestine, even the most brutal ones, would be very expensive and can't really happen until the bill can be attached to the foot of a carrier pigeon flying west with some hope of payment. That time has not yet come.

  • Thanksgiving: The perfect holiday to ruin with politics
    • There have been all sorts of aggressions over time - perhaps Gildas' title 'De Excidio Britanniae', concerning late-antiquity events here, could be translated 'The British Nakba'.
      It's one thing to say that there have been many Nakbas - but has there been even one that was justified?
      One important step in making good some of the injustice of the American Nakba has been acceptance of Indigenes as full citizens. If that happened in all the territories under Israeli sovereign power the step forward would be a great one.

  • Israeli occupation stoking 'holy war' in Jerusalem
    • There has always been a religious element in this dreadful mix, in that political claims are often justified on the Israeli side by appeal to religious authority and by the claim to divine donation. This claim can be disowned with a quiet smile, treated as an optional extra to a case already made or asserted with passionate intensity but it is and always has been there. The other side does not so much say that Palestine is theirs by a special divine decree - and I can remember when stories of PLO hijackings might feature women who made a point of mocking Jewish religious symbols without showing any commitment to Islam. But increasingly, since the sharp decline of Nasserism and Marxism, religion has been important in creating - or in attempts to create - unity and activism in opposition to Israel. The importance of religion has not come by a sudden mutation but by a rather inexorable process.

  • Like an unrequited lover, 'NYT' confesses itself heartbroken over Israel's (latest) betrayal of democracy
    • I suppose it is a sop to the 'religious right' in Israel who would like to reclaim the Temple but have for the moment no chance of doing so, suggesting that their prospects might improve in the future.
      The NYT does have a problem in seeing what is before its and everyone's eyes. Israel does not accord equal rights in all respects to non-Jewish citizens - they do not have the same ability to promote the immigration of families and they do not have much access to the many privileges that come with military service. Still less does it accord equal rights - or anything approaching equal dignity or comparable standards of living - to all who live under its sovereign power or all who live on all the territory which it claims, subject to 'dispute' with other parties, as its own and very much not theirs.

  • Rightwing flamethrowers see a US role in the battle for Jerusalem
    • They responded favourably but rather passively. The speaker had visited B'lem under the auspices of Kairos Palestine and in his talk dwelt on hardships such as running water one day a week, home demolitions, endless teargas barrages etc.. He had actually met a settler walking around in B'lem - a rare but not unknown thing, he said - and had been invited to tea in the settlement, where he found them anxious for peace but not 'able to explain' why they have so much of everything, including water, in comparison. He dwelt on the friendliness and generosity of the Palestinians - I couldn't help recalling the American rabbi's 'human animal' language mentioned here recently. He said that the violence was treated as routine, people got used to it and it was rare for anyone to get seriously hurt, though of course by no means unknown. The family he stayed with hardly let light into their rooms because one of the local children had been shot from an Israeli vantage point when something that the Israeli in question thought was suspicious activity was taking place.
      He did mention that his departure had been eased because in that very week Israel had 'acceded to international pressure' to be less horrible to travellers at airports: which was interesting because it shows that pressure can work sometimes.
      Three questions: 'Did you ever feel in danger?' - 'No, except once (for reasons mentioned) when moving too quickly at a checkpoint'.
      'Do you realise that you will need a fresh passport to travel (as you sometimes do, presumably on business) to Dubai?' (odd: this was from our American colleague). 'Yes, quite possibly I will'.
      'What would you consider to be a just settlement?' (from me) - 'Everyone treated the same'. The Chair then said it had been very interesting and we should move on, since we (a Church of England local synod) had financial business (we had indeed) to consider.
      The CofE is not famous for strong or decisive opinions.

    • I've just returned from a meeting addressed by someone from a local church who had spent 2 months in Bethlehem, watching the Palestinians being vanquished - and denied a reasonable water supply - on a daily basis. He left me wondering at their patience.

  • 'Palestine is an anxiety' for Americans-- Salaita in New York
    • The outrageous WF Albright in 1957: 'From the impartial standpoint of a philosopher of history it often seems necessary that a people of markedly inferior type should vanish before a people of superior potentialities, since there is a point beyond which racial mixture cannot go without disaster. When such a process takes place - as at present in Australia - there is generally little that can be done by the humanitarian, though every deed of brutality and injustice is infallibly visited upon the aggressor.' (Cited by Piterberg, Returns of Zionism, p.263).
      Albright, like Salaita thinking of America and Australia as well as of Palestine, was very much a Zionist and the principal supporter of a sort of moderate fundamentalist reading of the scriptures - but the second sentence is interesting, where the anxiety is so plain that somehow those who exercise great power arrogantly don't get away with it for ever - God sees and remembers. WFA's attitude may seem rather superstitious but this kind of fear is very deep in human nature. That's the nagging anxiety and insecurity.
      I often mention that, what with my Welsh name and English culture, I must be descended from both sides, from people who detested each other amid the probably terrible events of Britain in the 500s. It took a thousand years and the fall of the English monarchy into the hands of a Welsh adventurer to bring all that to a kind of settlement.
      In refreshing memory about WFA I managed to remind myself painfully of how strong the support of Euro and English-speaking Protestants (my crowd) was both for Zionism and for the excesses of 67. The name that most leaps out is Martin Luther King.

  • South African activists reflect on parallels between life under apartheid and Israel/Palestine today
    • Not entirely opposite - the lines of their opinion could sometimes intersect. Mandela's remarks in Gaza were the remarks of a liberal Zionist. How close he had been in younger days to the SA Communist Party is debated but the SACP certainly had much influence on anti-apartheid thinking, whilst itself clearly being pro-Soviet. The Soviets supported Nasser and his Arab socialism but they never rejected Zionism, which has significant Marxist credentials, in principle.

    • I see that my computer is under attack from advertisers and that certain words have been highlighted without any intention on my part.

    • Just been reading the BBC report on Mandela's Gaza visit and speech of Oct.19, 1999: standard 2ss remarks of that era. He calls for the evacuation of the OTs but also for guarantees of Israel's existence within secure borders, sounding at that point hardly different from Tony Blair.

  • It's one state and 'kumbaya' is the way forward -- former Police drummer Copeland
    • Co-existence are working out how to co-exist are mentioned. Sadly much history tells us that there can be terrible, fearsome and miserable relationships between individuals and groups of all sorts, yet both can exist amid all the suffering and injustice for a long time. However, when it comes to moving from mere co-existence to peaceful co-existence it's more a question of recognising and looking in the face, rather than of discovering or figuring out, the fact that there's only one way, ie making sure that no-one's basic rights are violated and that daily humiliation and badges of inferiority are avoided.

  • Inadequate religion
    • Exult, not exalt. RHR is quoting vs.3 of Ps. 94, where for King James the wrongdoers 'triumph'. The Psalm begins with the terrifying (or consoling) words 'O God, to whom vengeance belongeth'. In the present context is this a cry for vengeance or for abstinence from vengeance pending divine judgement? How could we expect purely divine judgement to be shown?

    • Page: 38
  • Palestinians who targeted Jerusalem synagogue have sights set on U.S. -- Israeli propaganda
    • Today is, I think, the 40th anniversary of the terrible Birmingham pub bomb, probably the most serious IRA attack. Innocents were targeted and profound hostility against English people - me included, I took it personally - was expressed.
      We were not regaled with pictures of celebrations in the pubs of Ireland but there must have been some, with varying degrees of discretion. In the United States too there used to be pub collections for the IRA, I believe, and I'm sure the collectors would have expected their takings to increase after the strength and resolve of the organisation had been demonstrated. There was often some gloating and menacing propaganda, a form of celebration at our expense, after their onslaughts. Acts of political violence and hostility are always celebrated by those who think them an inevitable part of a just war or just conflict: to some extent you could say that no one would do these things without knowledge that some others would praise them.
      I didn't and don't support the aims or methods of the IRA but I think I was aware that seeing red on becoming aware of their celebrations was putting emotion in place of reason and that the fact that they chose to exult and triumph over me in this way (to use the language of Ps.94 and of Rabbis for Human Rights) was not proof that they were in the wrong and I in the right.

  • Caltech prof says Israeli scientist passed NASA rocket secrets to his government
    • There are several different issues, I suppose. Gat is a bird long since flown. The university authorities have, it seems, behaved badly while important laws were being flouted but I don't believe that the authorities would have the stomach for a fight with these very honourable men - in the Shakespeare/Mark Antony sense. Professor Troian will come under enormous pressure to take some money and retire with some grace but no apology. I think that it's mildly encouraging, though, that she has felt able to make public statements in which Israeli behaviour is not treated as sacrosanct. That's a small step forward.

    • I'm a veteran of many university disputes, though I was never in national security territory, and I'd be surprised if this ever came to a trial, rather than to a discreet settlement. The institution, if pressed, would say that this is a personal dispute that got out of hand and was represented as involving national security only long after the fact.
      This might be quite untrue but Professor Troian hasn't put herself in a strong position to refute it. Surely it was her duty as a citizen of the United States to report breaches of national security immediately - not just within the institution but to the relevant government agencies - if evidence of them came to hand.

  • Why I confronted Gregor Gysi
    • In fact there have been high-profile attacks on individuals critical of Israel in the UK - George Galloway was quite seriously injured and a rabbi in Manchester whose car was dramatically torched.

    • Denunciation produces anger and anger hostility, sometimes even lethal. We can't always keep the feelings we rouse within rational limits. So we can't rule out the possibility that lethal attacks on Jewish people will result from denunciations of bad, extremely bad things done by people who, in fact, are Jewish. But if we say that because of this danger Jewish people are to be treated as if they were, or were in all but small things, impeccable, we face the opposite danger that some Jewish people, being told that for them there is no condemnation, will themselves endanger lives. And we destroy morality in the process.

  • Sea change down under: Ex-Australian Foreign Minister announces himself a 'Friend of Palestine'
    • I think that Obama's memoirs, when they hit the bookstalls in a year or two and make him many millions, will outdo everyone in eloquently wishing to have done more for the Palestinians, only it was so difficult what with all those donors. There will be heroic stories about how he personally refused to be in influenced by mere money.

  • What is the vision of Jews who want to replace Al Aqsa mosque with temple?
    • The Third-Templers may be getting closer to the mainstream but I still think that there is an element of play-acting about all this. The restoration of the full Temple ritual as it is supposed to have been before 70 would involve the election of a High Priest, who would be an important political figure. The scriptures really require the election of a King as soon as possible. People aren't ready for those things.

  • Root cause of current crisis is Israeli government effort since 1967 to transform East Jerusalem into a Jewish city
    • But then I'm not sure that Uri Ariel is saying 'we must do this because God wills it' or 'we must do this because, even in the absence of religious belief, it's part of our self-assertion as a nation - and the forms of our self-assertion can't be up to others to determine'. It's sometimes hard to tell where religion ends and secular, Romantic ideology begins. I'm not sure that secularism cures many of the diseases that have sprung up from the soil of religion, rather than adapts their symptoms and forms to suit a new situation.

  • Tufts students challenge university's complicity in Israeli violence
    • I agree that there's nothing pristine or incorruptible about masses of people any more than about individuals. On the other hand Israel is a sovereign power that disfranchises masses of people under its control, therefore is an oligarchy in one important sense.

  • After deadly attack Netanyahu vows ‘iron fist’ as clashes and closures rock Jerusalem
    • I disagree with some ideas which come from some religions (including my own) very strongly and without nuance, so that's crude in a way on my part. However, it's a basic Christian principle that even disagreement to that extent doesn't mean hating the other person - and even though we haven't been very good at showing it to be true that is not one of the ideas coming from my religion that I reject. Ruthless determination to eliminate those who hold a certain belief seems to me a rather different thing from hatred: it could be a rather calm state of mind based on the assessment that 'it's either them or us', ie radical existentialism. Some think that Hobbes was arguing for it, though I think he was trying to expose its costs.

  • Chickenshitgate: A dissenting view
    • To my mind C/shit can mean only 'too cowardly either to attack Iran or to make peace'. The first clause is justifiable in a way, in the sense that there were several empty threats against Iran. The second reflects the inveterate belief of Obama and of American centrist opinion that the present situation is unsustainable: so that the refusal of one after another Israeli leaders to make peace, or even to make a proposal for some form of 2ss, is due to lack of leadership, which means cowardice or head-in-sand refusal to face facts. To show that this is wrong it's not enough to say that intransigence actually generates popularity - you have to show that the situation is not unsustainable at all and that the logical conclusion of Israeli policy, the final relocation of the Palestinians elsewhere, is entirely possible and practicable. It just may be.

  • Israel lobby stakes claim for Jerusalem at Supreme Court, but Kagan isn't buying
    • Presumably the 'dictation' will now, with the massive Republican majorities, be even easier - ever less like a dictatorship, ever more like a love-in?
      Democracy is a funny thing. 'Throw the rascals out!' we cry - yet the rascals were only there because we put them there, sometimes amid great enthusiasm, a few short years ago.

  • On Balfour anniversary, Jerusalem boils
    • I don't hold Balfour in high regard but I don't think it's fair to say that the motive was to prevent Jewish immigration. It was to meet the demands of the Zionist organisations led by Weizmann, Brandeis and others, to facilitate American entry into the war and to do what Balfour and Lloyd George considered to be their duty by Almighty God.

  • The UN can bring peace to Jerusalem by moving its headquarters there
    • I was interrupted - should say that there can be strong international feelings based on sympathy and identification with the oppressed. But I do not know of an example of strong international feelings behind a project on behalf of an organisation like the UN - an organisation which is not flesh and blood, not suffering.
      These features of the situation - that internationalism would not win Israel over and that it will not rally huge support; no form of internationalism ever has - are not temporary. So I do see an element of sheer fantasy in Mr. Bird's idea.
      There is also a moral weakness in that idea. It is not true that Jerusalem belongs or in any way ought to belong, through the UN or otherwise, to everyone or to everyone of Abrahamic faith. I have no right to a share in sovereignty there because I'm a human being or because I'm a member of the Church of England. Jerusalem should be part of a sovereign state with enfranchised inhabitants, just like everywhere else should be, with people who have been unjustly excluded restored to normal rights. Religious and cultural traditions do not negate or trump those rights.

    • I do think that this terrible situation will come to end one day, though not in ways that I can foresee at the moment.
      Making Jerusalem international or interfaith is an idea that's been around at least since 67 and I remember clearly and sadly how a friend of mine, a very sensible and humane person who really celebrated the Israeli victory, would tell me that an international Jerusalem was now very likely, bringing tolerance and religious mixture to a place that had previously been endlessly contested and painful.
      At the moment, I don't see how the idea of 'international Jerusalem' would break the logjam either by winning over anyone in Israel who has previously been intransigent or by building up strong feelings around the world so strong that Israel had to concede. People may not see how making Jerusalem international conflicts with Zionism every bit as much as making Jerusalem part of a genuinely democratic Palestine, but it does. Strong feelings in politics have always built up, as far as I can see, around 'my people, my group, my personal interests' not around purely international or humane things.

    • Israel, the Zionist country, claims all Palestine and Jerusalem especially as the place where Jewish people, and they only, have a full claim to enfranchisement or share in sovereignty. Internationalisation in any form contradicts this. To use the UN as the instrument of international status would be quite a dramatic act and in proportion to the drama would come the resistance because it would amount to giving up a Zionist claim in the most dramatic, so most resented, way. No one - or no one with any power - is minded to force Israel even into minor and cosmetic withdrawals, so would be even less minded to force Israel into grand withdrawals. So it all won't happen.
      I was for a moment tempted to try a joke about asking the Martians to help out by placing a flying saucer station in Silwan, distracting everyone from all the archaeology. But I knew Mooser could do a better sardonic reaction than me.

    • But it cannot be.

  • A visit to Auschwitz
    • It's true what you say about context, Mooser - I don't deny it. But we need to be on our guard lest we fall into our own version of Whataboutery.

    • The topic of postwar atrocity is important and disturbing - however, Scott is describing Auschwitz and his experience there and we must 'never forget' that terrible atrocities were perpetrated against a near defenceless Jewish civil population during the War years. It's a big ugly fact and other ugly facts don't mitigate it.

    • See also Keith Lowe, Savage Continent (2012).

  • Occupied prayer at Al Aqsa
    • We should note that President Maduro comes from a Jewish family! But perhaps a greater thing for us to recall today is that old black magic Balfour Declaration, issued 97 years ago on November 2nd 1917.

  • 'Exalted anti-Zionists' are now driving the conversation
    • There can be 'life without a solution' for a long time, but not for ever. It is not satisfactory to Zionist principles that the Palestinians be there, even if held in subjection, when they should know by now that God or existential necessity or something grand like that implies that they have no right to be. The one and only solution compatible with Zionist ideas about who has a right to be there is that the Palestinians should leave. What is missing so far is a resettlement plan and the money, which would be a lot even if violence and compulsion were liberally used, to pay for it.

  • Does SJP have the right to free speech?
    • There are quite a few incidents like this, usually about white or black skin, in which someone starts screaming abuse in a public place, every year here in the UK. We do have free speech embodied in the Euro Human Rights convention but this sort of thing is regarded as public disorder rather than simply expression of opinion. Would this behaviour be permitted in the United States?

    • According to Margaret MacMillan's invaluable 'Peacemakers', (p.433) which I mention often here, Brandeis supplied the ingenious reasoning why self-determination, as normally understood, did not apply in Palestine: all people who were Jewish anywhere in the world belonged in the territory and should be considered enfranchised there. These powerful minds, you know, they can come up with all manner of ideas.
      On Balfour Anniversary Day + 1 it's worth recalling Woodrow Wilson's starry-eyed 'To think I, the son of the manse, should be able to help restore the Holy Land to its people', mentioned by MacMillan on the same page. It was almost exactly 300 years since Christian Zionism had hit the bookstalls in the work of Sir Henry Finch.

  • Al Aqsa mosque is closed off for first time in 47 years as tensions flare
    • Niels Peter Lemche (not Lemke) to whom bilal refers, is at least a shade more sceptical, I think, about the Biblical account than is Finkelstein. It was Lemche who led me to realise that the only fully attested name for pre-Roman Palestine is 'Palestine' and he kindly found the time to send me a brief note of approval, with suggestions for further reading, of my article on Mondoweiss on that topic. I've often wished he would contribute to MW himself.
      The Dead Sea Scrolls prove that there were biblical texts both in Hebrew and Greek circulating in Palestine in 'the time of Jesus'. The Christians very soon came to place exclusive reliance on the Greek text but in any case Greek versions are important evidence for the original sentiments of the writers - just as Latin and Syriac versions of the originally Greek New Testament are important.
      Timothy Law's 'When God spoke Greek' seems to be the most authoritative study of the Greek version and their influence on Christianity at the moment. But we are miles away from a proof, or even a good reason, to think that the original composition was substantially in Greek. It's very difficult to think, say, that the pious Greek version of Esther antedates the more harsh Hebrew one.
      However, the Assyrian records are proof that there was a small kingdom based on Jerusalem at least by 700 BCE, which may not have had a temple glittering with gold but must have had a cult centre because there were no secular societies then. Whether this kingdom had a real history anything like that recorded in the Bible is another matter, open to much debate. Let me just add that ancient Rome existed too and that its literary output needs some study in order to get a balanced view of the ancient world.
      We do need to remember the difficult and disputed nature of ancient history but in the end this should remind us that very little in the way of here-and-now right and wrong springs from events way back then.

    • I'm going on too much, but just to add that to my mind the real radicals do not think in terms of the Scriptures as originating substantially in the 600s BCE under a Davidic king in Jerusalem, as Finkelstein does, but as coming from around 200 in the era of Greek influence - like Givoanni Garbini 'Myth and History in the Bible' (2003). (I believe Garbini's about to write a 'Myth and History' book about Jesus, which might well shake even us lib Christians in our shoes.) Garbini, unlike Finkelstein, is not in the academic mainstream (yet!)

    • I appreciate many of the comments made by MRW on this matter in the past. For my part, I think that there must be some historical elements within the Books of Kings but the main purpose of those books is to interpret history as the story of God's wrath and forgiveness, not to recount events.

    • I'd certainly hope that 'we' would include you, annie - who can deny that the Assyrian inscriptions show the existence of a small kingdom in Jerusalem around 700, in days when kingdoms had cult centres. Of course it's equally true that there is no inscription or comparable record showing the existence two centuries earlier of the great Solomonic kingdom, rich enough to hire the craftsmen and draw on the timber of Lebanon for the building of a temple glinting with gold.
      Walid's right that to discuss these things with any attempt at objectivity is to tread on many an Abrahamic toe. Finkelstein has been appealed to - he certainly thinks that monarchic Jerusalem was an important literary centre and thinks so for the (?inconclusive) reason that Jerusalem in the next active phase, that of Nehemiah under Persian rule, was too much of a one-camel town to have produced an active intellectual class.

    • 'The Quest for the Historical Israel' (Finkelstein and Mazar, 2007) is pretty good and exposes the current differences of opinion within respectable Israeli academia. There's a rather more 'conservative' view of the Temple in Galor and Bloedhorn 'Archaeology of Jerusalem' 2013. This book is praised for its 'neutrality' by an archaeologist from Birzeit.
      We can't deny that there was an ancient kingdom in Jerusalem, getting into trouble with the Assyrians around 700 BCE, or that that kingdom would, like all its counterparts, have had a temple or at least some kind of centre where the king would take part in sacrifice, though whether it would have had the magnificence described in the Books of Kings and important in royal (and later Christian) ideology is quite doubtful. Finkelstein is of the opinion, which others question, that the Jerusalem of those days was also the literary centre that produced the main substance of the prose and poetry on which the 'Abrahamic' religions are founded, which would have been enough to make it an important place.

    • There was a report recently that a bridge intended to facilitate non-Muslim entry to the area had been demolished on Netanyahu's personal instruction following an explicit protest by the Jordanian royal family. I certainly don't think that that would amount to real concern for the Palestinians, though!

  • 'Take your Ebola ass and get out': L.A. confrontation highlights relationship between Zionism and anti-black racism
    • I'm sure that some standard racist and generally highly abusive language gets used in these contexts but it seems to me that Jewish people who are Zionist are overwhelmingly inclined to recall the Jewish support that was so important, maybe even so crucial, to Martin Luther King and even, by more of a stretch perhaps, to Nelson Mandela and to claim that they are strongly in favour of maintaining that anti-racist tradition. This may not be so true of Christian Zionists, I suppose.
      I'm not sure that we can really show that Zionism is just another version of white-supremacy racism. That sort of racism is something which everyone in the West has been taught to despise but if we say 'That's what Zionism is!' we will find images like the one here on Mondoweiss going with the article about yet another journalist with offspring in the Israeli armed forces - we've all seen the jolly faces of the diverse military unit that was used in that context. Western public opinion will find that sort of image convincing. The angry, deeply religion-tinged contempt for things Islamic does draw on the well of fear for dark skin but does not feel exactly like it and is far more acceptable in these bad times. (I don't think R. Shalom Lewis will get into that much trouble.) It may be as dangerous and destructive as Jim Crow sentiments - or even more dangerous than those sentiments ever were - but it's a different thing.

  • University of Exeter students vote to boycott Israeli settlement products in a landslide
    • Ilan Pappe's influence must be quite significant at Exeter. Not that many UK universities have ME studies departments - Exeter has quite a significant one. Knowledge tends to spread when there is no force of ignorance or delusion sufficient to counter it, I suppose.

  • Kerry just snubbed a gov't minister who calls for segregated bus lines. And that's a bad thing?
    • Ain't we stinkers? How did we get like that? For my part I think that the decades-long, centuries-long influence of CZ is the real explanation.

  • There are some things about Gaza that I still can't wrap my head around
    • I had a quick look at the dialogue you mention. In fact the dialogue between Hillel and Shammai (about whom there should be at least as much scepticism as there is about Jesus), reported in the Tosefta Sabbath Tractate, concerns suggestions about cutting off relations with other nations supporting the Romans in time of tension building up to war. No general point, applicable in all situations, about Jewish separatism, 'misanthropy' or sense of superiority is made. If there is to be a comparison with the Islamic State crowd, it should be on the basis that people in situations of conflict tend to extreme belief in extreme distinctions between Us and Them. In a way this is common knowledge but each example tends to be horribly instructive. I just picked up a book about the rabble-rouser Noel Pemberton Billing in WW1 Britain and it's much the same really.

    • I see what greg means about no political organisation's being indestructible but I don't think there really were any dramatic mass expulsions of the followers of any religion from ancient Palestine, though the traumas of the Roman-Jewish wars did make the Jerusalem area non-Jewish for a while. It's true that 'Palestine' is by far the best attested name for ancient Palestine from at least 500 BCE, the Herodian 'Judaea' never being really appropriate. 'Canaan' was becoming obsolete from at least that time.

    • Weapons used to bombard people who have no weapons capable of replying are hardly 'tested in combat', are they? What's been tested is the ruthlessness of the users plus the permissiveness of the bystanders and (as Katie says) fund-providers. Has Grumpy Cat found a vantage point in Kerry's office?

  • Allegations of anti-Semitism used to cover up anti-Palestinian hate crime in Brooklyn
    • What's the difference between a crime of hate, a crime of anger and a crime of (non-erotic) passion?

  • An exciting night at the opera: 'Klinghoffer' opening dominated by protest and heavy police presence
    • I haven't seen the opera - but it does seem to refuse to make exactly the point that concerns Dersh, that there is something unique about Jewish suffering and that there is no comparison between the experience of exile on both sides. And the libretto is the work of someone, the Reverend Alice Goodman, brought up Jewish and Zionist, who has clearly changed in both respects, now being an Anglican vicar.

  • 'Settlement endorsement should be put on a par with racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism' --British pol
    • Well, let's go ahead with this at the venue suggested. If we gave ourselves three months to get over the Christmas/New Year break and generally to get organised, and to get a good idea of numbers, that would take us to (say) Saturday January 31st, 2015. Comments?

    • We can probably find a way. Could we tempt any of the MW leadership over to the UK?

    • If we were going to follow the New York model in London we would need a good ME-style restaurant. I don't have much knowledge of the London restaurant scene, perhaps someone here does.

    • I did make a donation of the appropriate amount and mentioned that if there were ever to be a Mondoweiss meeting in New England there would be a 5% chance of my being able to attend, since I have family in those parts. Even better, perhaps, if we had a session in London and had one of the MW team come to us.

    • You have a point, Eva, in that I suppose that without the settlements the whole Zionist project might unravel. On the other hand the implicit acceptance by Obama and by Duncan that Israel 48 is legitimate is an acceptance of Zionist principles and Zionist principles imply that all the Holy Land belongs to Israel - better, 'to the Jewish people'. The proclamation that 'there never was a Palestine and never will be' is just as much implied by Israel's 48 as by its 67 activities. The legitimacy still accorded to those activities endlessly saps the moral force behind efforts to roll back the settlements.
      Perhaps we could have a gathering of British Mondoweiss supporters some time.

  • 'I know how the brainwashing works'
    • I agree with you about the long-term plan - what else can it be? However, I don't think it can be carried out completely unless and until there is a massive re-settlement plan which the Western countries will have to pay for. Campaigns against 'terrorists' don't seem able to make people move en masse - there will have to be some, maybe rather pathetic, carrot as well as ferocious stick. The idea must be to bring the time around when Western and Middle East countries are ready to put up the money and the surviving Palestinians, or a small group that will act as trickle starting a flood, so desperate that they accept.

  • Anti-semitism charge is increasingly being leveled against Israel's mainstream critics
    • When you criticise Israel you are indeed criticising Jews. That is an undeniable implication of the fact that the policies pursued by the country known as Israel are determined almost entirely by people who consider themselves and are considered by others to be Jewish.
      What objection is there to criticising Jews? Someone might say 'Jews are not to be stereotyped' which is quite true. But the phrase 'criticising Jews' is ambiguous between 'some people who are Jewish' and 'all people who are Jewish' - and it is the latter that is in obvious danger of stereotyping. If it is obvious from the context that the critique applies to some Jewish people but not to others - and it is: there are plenty of Jewish people not involved in setting Israeli policies, obviously enough - then stereotyping is clearly avoided.
      Criticism of some but not of others is anti-stereotyping.
      By contrast, those who refuse to discriminate between (say) Hitler and Tutu - ie object equally to all whose attitudes to Jewish people are negative in any way and call all of them by the same term, 'anti-Semites' - are so plainly and crudely stereotyping all who disagree with Israeli policies that they should see that they are making the very mistake that they seem to condemn in others.
      It cannot be reasonable to say that no one who is Jewish is capable of any serious wrongdoing, any more, surely, than 'anyone who is English/Belgian'.

  • As Kerry scrambles to prevent Palestinian action at UN, Israeli govt makes clear it will never accept Palestinian state
    • Thanks walk...loose, very interesting.

    • Maybe it was not wise but it has been carried off with reasonable success, I suppose. Other fixed points include the Allon Plan - any arrangement must include Israeli strongpoints in any supposed Palestinian territory. I think it's Diane Mason who's been explaining this continuity from time to time. Another is the plain statement that Palestinians can have self-rule but not statehood - self-rule never ruling out, I suppose, gradual annexation of the territories in which the Palestinians have for a while survived. I remember that being a feature of the statements coming out of the negotiations between Begin and poor old Sadat ever so long ago. The latest statements are not much more than a repetition of these early ones, made not too long after the 67 war.

    • I've often mentioned Richard Ben Cramer's book, How Israel Lost, and its message that Israeli policy has all along been 'to live without a solution' - nothing changes, does it?

  • The Missing Context: 'Islamic State' sectarianism is not coincidental 
    • The UK's best-known and respected liberal Muslim columnist, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, has I think mentioned that she has been a little excluded from some Muslim activities because of her Shia identity. I do hope I don't misrepresent her. Her article in the Independent drew a comment from an Ahmadi mentioning a more bitter degree of exclusion. Odium theologicum does exist in every religious group even without outside pressure and is always pretty dangerous.
      I remember talking to an ex-Yugoslav as ex-Yugo was falling apart. He said that everyone in Belgrade had forgotten whether they were Serb or Croat but that they had suddenly started to remember: people were friends or enemies according to where their grandmothers had gone to church. Ex-Yugo was under some pressure from the West, to put it mildly, but I don't think that the sectarian divisions were entirely of our making. When things get really bad people desperately seek out others to trust and very small differences can sow doubt about whether a particular other person can be trusted. That really is human nature I think.

  • Israel's Dead Soul: Steven Salaita's critical scholarship explains his dismissal from the University of Illinois
    • Pb's last question in particular is a very good one. Salaita seems to have attended the same School of Complicated Utterance as some other cultural theorists have. He's at his best when he puts his books on the shelf and just complains about awful people in plain words.
      Salaita's idea that a civil rights group and a hate group could be quite similar is interesting, though his reasoning - that civil rights groups are too interested in legality - seems to me to be utterly unconvincing. It is true that the main motivation for demanding civil rights for Xs could well be not belief in universal rights but hatred and detestation of some non-X group and a desire to do that group down. In this context I'd think interest in law, which does tend to be framed in universal terms, is rather a good sign.
      I can maybe see the sense of saying 'Why use multi-cultural ideas, which by their nature include all without discrimination, in the service of Israel, which is based on a claim that excludes many people in many ways and senses?' But then multi-culturalism can be suspected of welcoming and including all cultures provided they turn out all to be the same.

  • Clintonite turns on Netanyahu for trying to bend US 'to his will'
    • Mind you, someone who swallows the Gaza massacre whole but whose stomach is turned by a few more settlements has a rather funny digestive system.
      Should Mr. Ginsberg be reckoned close enough to the militaristic Clinton, all but elected next President, for the words to be coming from his gullet but her stomach?

  • Islamophobia, liberalism and the dangers of Interfaith ignorance
    • I would reckon Maher a 'New Atheist' - his 'Religulous' film seemed to be setting the pattern for NA theology by praising Judaism with faint damns. In that theology Islam is, as is now being made so starkly clear, by far the most condemned.
      Atheist theology - consideration of what an ideal being would be like, if there were one; not that there is - isn't entirely a paradoxical thing.
      NA has a strong affinity with Darwinism and is particularly against forms of theology that resist modernity in the sense of being opposed to scientific modes of thought. I think we have to concede that Judaism has done better than others on these terms. We on MW consider Zionism as an inauthentic form of Jewish culture and/or religion but Zionism is undeniably modern, permitting people who proclaim themselves atheists to remain involved in a culture still in many ways involved with religious tradition.

    • I cannot see how the question of 'authenticity' is escaped here. If some forms of some religions are radical, extreme and barbaric then we either have to join with the 'new atheist' attack on those religions in totality or we have to explain that the bad forms are inauthentic.
      'Venal' means 'for sale'. 'The most venal forms' of religion would be those that are most influenced by money. These may be very unpleasant but that's not the main issue here.

  • British Parliament sends a message to Obama: the people see Israel as a 'bully'
    • Jewish enthusiasm for Zionism was quite muted at that point. However, I don't that the Balfour Declaration was an honest attempt to form a new Palestine, though that attempt is certainly implied in any reasonable understanding of what a mandate could be - the creation of a sovereign power which does not originate from the territory concerned and therefore, so as not to be a conqueror or exploiter, has every manner of obligation to the actual inhabitants of that territory. The whole dynasty of documents from the Declaration onwards pays some lip service to that understanding - the rights of all are to be preserved. However, Balfour's real intention all along was to introduce a Jewish population and never mind the Arabs. He more or less tipped off the Press to that effect immediately. He was a committed Christian Zionist of the Scottish school, which (as I mentioned a few days ago) gave the world the idea of a Land Without a People via the questionable visionary Dr. Rev. Alexander Keith in the 1840s. Even more important was the Christian Zionism of his boss, Lloyd George, who was surely and sorely troubled by his sinful life and wanted to make something that would carry God's will into effect.
      The Declaration was a trick and a lie (well, it made a pair of inconsistent promises of which only one was meant) and it was recognised to some degree for what it was by many at the time. There's a lot of good information in Margaret MacMillan's 'Peacemakers' which is a very powerful presentation of the tragedy of Versailles.

    • I would also commend once again Margaret MacMillan's 'Peacemakers' which gives a very full account of the Versailles Conference and all its works. That memo from Balfour, a Christian Zionist of the Scottish school (which had previously, three quarters of a century earlier, given us 'a Land without a People'), is cited and put in context.

  • British Parliament votes overwhelmingly to recognize Palestinian state
    • It is a start though only a first step and tied to a negotiated 2ss that isn't happening. The BBC reportage, still in a way the voice of the British Establishment, has been very muted. I've just looked at the website and it's easier to find the story of a parrot in California that used to speak with a British accent, was lost for four years has returned speaking Spanish - another stinging cultural defeat, I suppose. Much easier to find out about Oscar Pistorius.

  • In the last days of 'Operation Protective Edge' Israel focused on its final goal -- the destruction of Gaza's professional class
  • Has the 'NYT' editorial board finally decided to tell the truth about the conflict? (No)
    • How does anyone with any common sense expect to empower the moderates on one side by encouraging the other side to show no moderation at all? The obvious things that a moderate would do - like reduce the impact of the hateful blockade and make a definite proposal for a final settlement - are not done and no one minds. I scream with horror and frustration at the hypocrisy of it all. And if I scream what will they do in Gaza?

  • British Parliament to vote on recognition of Palestinian state on Monday
    • The House of Commons does not conduct British diplomacy - but this vote would mean that a future Labour Government. which would be led by Ed Miliband, who would be our first Jewish-background (though atheist) PM since Disraeli, would recognise Palestine, which would cause questions to be raised even in the United States. It would be quite hard to portray the Miliband family as 'anti-Semitic'.

  • Israel and the g-word
    • On what terms, then, should the 2ss be set up?

    • An interesting and sensitive comment (if I may say so) Yonah.

    • I see what you mean about words that get under the skin. Zionists try on many occasions to make pincushions of our skins by means of the term 'anti-Semitic'. I share your aversion to playing that game - on the other hand I'm reluctant to abstain from the term 'genocide' if by abstaining I concede that Israeli behaviour, based as it is on beliefs about rights related to race and ancestry, never touches the depths touched by atrocities against Jewish people when their race and ancestry were held against them. Israel has never killed so many in the short term but it has inflicted such extensive expulsion and humiliation in the long, the endless term that there is no serious moral gap.
      However, I am also troubled by the collectivist morality implied by making 'genocide' - an offence against the group rather than against the individuals in the group - the worst thing, just as I am troubled by the dark theology of sacrifice implied by 'holocaust'.

    • Anyone may use words as (s)he likes - the only obligation being to explain how the word is being used. However, a personal use of the word is not necessarily accepted by people in general.
      The generally accepted idea of 'genocide' is that it calls for the elimination, with great violence against a shocking number, of a group of people selected, at least in major part, on the basis of ancestry or heredity. I don't think people ask themselves whether there can be genocide if many individuals survive or if they still have descendants so long as the group is no longer really on the scene. What shocks people changes somewhat over time. I think that Israel's apologists have sensed that the scale of casualties in Gaza (which might have seemed 'ordinary' at an earlier, more callous time) is at least beginning to shock people, so they have rushed to provide excuses and exculpations. The shock moves opinion towards classifying Israeli campaigns in Gaza as 'genocide' in the commonly accepted sense. So does the fact that there is a racial division between the parties, ie it's a matter in part of ancestry and heredity. So does the increasingly stark recognition that Israel does not envisage a scene in which a Palestinian sovereign state exists: I think that the 'move to Sinai' stuff is just a way of saying in fantastic terms that Palestinian sovereignty will never exist.
      I'd keep the word 'genocide' in play, rather than try to use a word like 'politicide' that seems to come out of a seminar room with no emotional force.
      Not that I really like the morality which makes 'genocide' the supreme crime, ie interprets injustice as mattering more if inflicted on a group rather than on individuals.

  • Eight hours on Third Avenue
    • Well done, if I may say that as one who thinks that 48 and the Nakba, not 67 and the Occupation, is the continuing problem. Was there any reaction, sympathy or opposition?

  • Pogroms rage in Europe? Kidnaped Israeli teens were Freedom Riders? Liberal Zionists' desperate slogans
    • A white supremacist programme would, I suppose, imply that white people, without discrimination among themselves, should clearly dominate the Rest at every point. So maybe I would have been welcome, in a Whites Rights world, to join a settlement near Samaria on equal terms with Jewish residents and both of us would have been welcome to join in similar supremacist ventures in all sorts of places. We might be driving together on a whites-only road to Mandalay. That's to say that white supremacism does not imply any special status for those of our white brothers and sisters who are Jewish, while Zionism for its part does not imply any rights in Judaea and Samaria for those who are white enough to shine in the dark but not of Jewish religion or descent. It does accord rights to people with dark skins who are accepted as Jewish.
      I guess that Professor Gitlin's students, being steeped in American culture, are trying to express their disagreement with him in terms that every American readily understands. But they're not quite hitting the mark. They miss the idiosyncrasy of central Zionist ideas about God's gift and historic homeland.

    • If a bad thing is being done by members of a certain tribe the badness of the thing should be pointed out, surely? If you're very much against singling out your own tribe then it is you who are reacting, not to the moral quality of the events but to the identity of those involved, and are therefore the tribalist in the room.
      The hitchhiking victims are not to be specially compared to the victims of the civil rights struggle because they were not advocating civil rights. They do of course have the rights that all human beings have and for that reason their deaths should be pointed out as a bad act. However, the same rights of all human beings are possessed by the people of Gaza just as much.
      Advocacy of Zionism is not advocacy of white supremacy. Neither of these beliefs implies the other, though both have it common that they do not accord equal rights to everyone, regardless of race or religion. But they're not part and parcel of the same thing.

  • White House is now in open spat with Netanyahu over his 'American values' lecture
    • One of the friendliest spats I've seen, though the friendliness is a little one-sided. Obama seems to have perfected a technique for wrapping massive support in a film of rather willfully ineffectual protest.

  • Why must Gaza wait in the dark?
    • The photographs at the head of this article are beautiful and moving despite the horrible situation that they depict.

  • Read the genocidal sermon a notable Atlanta rabbi gave this Rosh Hashanah
    • I've been wondering about this - he certainly calls for extermination, mentions 50 million people specifically in the target group, and - by vigorously and explicitly denouncing (even denouncing as impious) the claim that genuine Muslims are not terrorists - declining to set up any clear boundary between Muslims in general and those Muslims who are radical extends his remarks, which are very clearly threatening and do very clearly imply violence, to at least some of those who are outside the 'radical' group. The degree of this extension - who is involved and how dire the threat - is a little vague but still unmistakably menacing.
      To my mind this goes beyond expressing highly negative views about some other members of the human race, which is a matter of free speech, and gets to the point of calling for violence against them.
      I would think that the figure of 5 million is a wild and crazy overestimate of the numbers actually involved in any violent activity or in planning such things. 'Embracing' them is a vague term but its very vagueness adds to the the menace of the speech by making it harder to see who might be exempt. If the entire population of Iran is included among the embracers then the 5 mil is an underestimate - and by that standard the threat extends well and far beyond 5 mil of his fellow human beings. Not that he thinks we have the same soul.
      Actually we do have the same souls. Religious fanaticism is a characteristic of human beings. They are what we are and we are what they are.

    • I would hate to be in your position, notawingnut, but if it is possible for you to rally some opposition to these excessive and misguided words you would have done a very good deed.

    • We often hear the word 'incitement' in the context of Palestinian remarks about Israel, We definitely have an incitement here and indeed an incitement to lethal violence. So if we are against incitements we should be against this oration.
      What does 'exterminate' mean? Does it require the physical vaporisation of millions of persons or would a bit of conversion do instead? I note that both extreme violence and forced conversion are condemned here, but it seems to be all right when 'we' do it. Is this consistent?
      If someone defines Islam, or authentic Islam, in a way that excludes violence their words are said to be impious. But who has the right to define words in the name of God?j I've half a mind to define this as 'blasphemy'.
      'How we disagree in America' now seems to have been re-defined too, to extend to calls for extermination. The release into mainstream American discourse of eliminationist or exterminationist rhetoric would be pretty damaging, I would say.
      There seems to be constant redefinition of the target 'Islam'/'radical Islam'/'Islamism'. Not a very impressive essay. And is it legal? Aren't there some restrictions on incitement?

  • Ilan Pappé on Israel’s 'post-Zionist moment' and the triumph of 'neo-Zionism'
    • To me Zionism means belief in an exclusive Jewish right to the Holy Land. That cannot be given up without radical change, notably an acknowledgement of the rival claim of Palestinians to a right of return. No one living in Israel can pass beyond Zionism in the sense of no longer being interested in what right (s)he and others have to be there. No one anywhere can completely lose interest in or become completely neutral about what possessions are deserved. The idea of post-Zionism is in a sense yet another smokescreen.
      Someone might use 'Zionism' in a sense different from mine, of course, but without being a belief in some kind of entitlement for Jewish people it would not have any great relevance to the actual situation in the ME.
      The change from Nakba denial to Nakba justification is not in any way a promising one: I'm not sure it's even that new, except perhaps in choice of words. It seems odd to say that no one now can defend ethnic supremacism when that is exactly what is being defended, at least in local form, when the Nakba is justified.
      I've just read Nathan Thrall's review of Shavit in the London Review of Books, which makes several interesting points, almost all strongly contrary to Shavit's, though from the point of view of a legalistic Zionism which supports a 2ss on the basis of international law expressed through UN resolutions. I'd say that even this is genuinely Zionism, with rights for Jewish people in the Land which no other right matches.

  • 'Ethnic cleansing for a better world' -- Richard Cohen says Palestinians brought the Nakba on themselves
    • I would question the idea that there was a duty, by way of accepting the rule of law or constitutional government, to accept the UN partition plan. If the UN was not the sovereign it had no right to demand or impose partition and if the plan was merely a suggestion, not a demand, no one had a duty to obey it. If the UN was the sovereign it had the normal and basic duty of sovereigns to make arrangements for the whole territory in the interests of all concerned: and these interests are not normally identified by a decision that clearly overrides the will of the majority. If the UN used its constitutional powers so as massively to favour a minority, it abused its powers grievously and once again we find no duty to accept.
      If Cohen thinks that the situation has been for decades a clash between one party committed to the rule of law and one opposed to it, in some sense anarchist, he has to ask which party this could be: surely not the one that bases its apparent rights on heredity and ancestry rather than on residence.

  • Over 250 anthropologists join the call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions
    • Replying to myself: I mentioned on another thread that there is a review Shavit by Thrall in the newly published London Review of Books - Shavit's play on left-wing themes of Israeli socialism and equality is noted.

    • The left-wing phase of Zionism is still very significant even it is now pretty much completely over. I don't think that Israel would have come into existence without the strong support of people both in the Middle East and in the West who thought that an essential step towards world socialism was being taken.

  • NYT's opening to a 'fringe voice' excites rage from Israeli army, journalism, business leaders
    • The first two of the items on this list, shocking and potentially lethal attacks that received almost no sympathetic comment for the victims, could be described as marking an 'uptick in philo-Semitic violence' in the UK. People mistakenly these words paradoxical because they cannot see that all-forgiving pro - or philo- attitudes, which on a superficial view are simply friendly and benign, are in reality almost as dangerous, unfair and morally distorting as anti- or miso- ones.

  • The Greater Gaza Plan: Is Israel trying to force Palestinians into Sinai?
  • Netanyahu heads to New York to ‘refute all the lies’ and praise ‘the most moral army in the world’
    • He will surely rebut the so-called lies but whether he will succeed in refuting them we will see. He will certainly face a lot of ridicule and anger but of course all that will be balanced by the ridicule and anger directed at his opponents by a chorus of American and Western politicians, journalists and academics. But then he and Abbas will settle down to yet another and another round of talks where no one proposes anything definite and nothing can even be identified as 'the gap between the two sides'. I expect they quite like each other really.

  • When Rouhani says blaming ISIS on Islam is Islamophobic, is anyone listening?
    • I suppose that there can be an ideology of terrorism - it's attributed to the Russian nihilists - things are so bad we just have to be as violent as possible - 'let the heavens fall'. That said, perhaps it is indeed more often a tactic in the sense of a semi-calculated means to a definable end. I lived through the years when the IRA was targeting places in my country. There was a major terrorist campaign in Sri Lanka by and perhaps against the LTTE and one continues in the Naxalite regions of India. There was a grand calamity in Rwanda, marked by extreme violence among neighbours. And there was Yugoslavia, that very former place. These conflicts did not have major ME roots.
      Not sure that the ME, considering its size, is all that prone to terrorist campaigns in the Naxalite or LTTE style. It is true that the Palestine conflict, with all the suffering it has engendered for such a fantastically long time and with all the links it has to religious sentiment all around the world, all the connections it has to other conflicts and all the influence it has on vital oil resources, is the worst thing in the world at the moment and outbreaks of extreme and dehumanising violence continue horribly.

    • I agree with Krauss that we must beware the temptation to idealise people who are anti-Zionist. Some of them aren't that nice.
      As for the 'germination' of terrorism amid poverty and injustice - these two soils are rather different. Being poor in a society that is making a reasonable effort to help with the problems of poverty or at least has clear provision for constitutional reform is neither a moral justification nor a likely cause of violent resistance. Being poor or being conspicuously victimised in a society that is in some very marked sense uncaring, oppressive, unjust and unconstitutional is a reason, if nothing else seems to have any prospect of working, to consider violent resistance - but even then the very poor record of resistance and revolution in putting things right should be remembered.
      If Rouhani means that poverty, resentment and desperation tend to erode the restraints imposed by most religions it is hard to gainsay him. It's also true that people in desperate moments, or when they think that the tide is turning in their favour and the advantage must be pressed home, tend to cry 'God is on our side!' at the moment when desperate or horrible measures are taken. In fact we have to be very careful whenever this cry is raised - at this point I think Rouhani, who raises this cry himself, might part company with me.

  • The name games
  • The summer of small Jewish thinking
    • Is big thinking for the good of all and small thinking for the good of self? Mind you, I think that Zionism would claim to be big, and for the good of all, if only people could see what benefits it would bring to the whole ME - and then to the whole of humanity - once the Palestinians had just agreed to move on, in all senses of that term. Why will this small group, thinking small and only of itself, stand in the way of the great redemptive project which always but always promised good things not only to Jewish but to non-Jewish people of the area?
      Maybe they've read Micah's disturbing book and think that the verse 'Rejoice not against me, though I fall I will rise again' applies to them. Why can't they see that it doesn't? Why do foolish outsiders actually encourage them?

  • Why is the United Nations doing business with G4S, notorious prison supplier?
    • Ed Miliband, possibly our next Prime Minister, waxed eloquent against G4S at one point, only to find that it had the contract for security at his very own Party Conference - so I read last week. Also that G4S is the largest company in terms of employee numbers - was it 600,000 worldwide? maybe I'm getting delirious - registered on the London Stock Exchange.

  • Anti-Zionist train makes stop at Washington Post
    • To put it another way - there is no good reason for depriving anyone on grounds of race or religion of the normal right to be a fully enfranchised citizen in a fully sovereign state and no good reason for denying the right of return to refugees who have not become settled citizens elsewhere.

  • Another scholar cancels at U of Illinois, saying school doesn't 'protect faculty from donors'
    • Thanks very much for that reference, seafoid, I may well buy it. An irony, perhaps, that it is published by Yale. Perhaps Mr. Shipman should be asked to review it.

  • 'Civility' is for dancing classes, not universities, and is tool of pro-Israel political operatives -- Franke
    • Well, I do think civility is a good thing in all places of discussion. Sneering insinuations that someone is 'anti-Semitic' tend to incivility and should stop.

  • Goldberg tries to police view that Israel's actions fuel anti-Semitism
    • 'Prejudice' means judgement without reason, so if I have a negative opinion of someone based solely on prejudice it is an unfairly formed opinion and could be justified only by accident. It's equally true that negative opinion based on reason comes from a fair process and could be mistaken only by accident, if there is some vital piece of information that was not available to me.
      It is possible for a reasoned judgement at one point - anti-German feeling in the war years, see Balfour's remark above - to be part of the causation of prejudice later on. One of my very first political lessons, very true thought taught to me by the British Government for reasons of its own, was that it was wrong to be prejudiced against Germans in the post-war years. That sort of prejudice - an exaggeration of sentiments originally based on reason - is still prejudice and still dangerously misleading - but it's not quite true to say that actual and regrettable behaviour by Germans was no part at all of its causation.
      Hope not to sound insufferably smug. I am well aware that there was regrettable behaviour on our part too.
      The idea that to be the victim of prejudice at one point is never to do wrong later on or never to be the target of reasonable objection or anger, which Mr. Goldberg seems to suggest, is of course quite untrue.
      It is also untrue that negative prejudices are the only dangerous ones. Positive prejudice, in which I will forgive X anything, is a terrible menace because it looks benign.

  • Homegrown jihadis and the limits of the Israel lobby
    • The power of Saudi influence is indeed fairly obvious: the Smith/Stoller arguments seem to me, for all my respect for Donald, to be rather more labyrinthine than is necessary.
      I don't think that either the existence of this power or its connection with money leads us to think that Israeli influence is, for its part, less than we might have supposed. We would think that only if Saudi influence was in opposition to Israel's, whereas in truth they are close allied.
      The fact that the Saudis have influence and dispose of a lot of money merely illustrates the power of money and logically should increase, not reduce, our readiness to believe that the money spent by the Israeli lobby, which (however it compares with the spending of others) is agreed to be quite a lot, is spent effectively. As far as it goes Saudi power illustrates Israeli power rather than overshadows it.

    • The Spanish Republic and the Islamic State are very different things. However, it may be that the returnees from Spain were regarded by UK police and intelligence services as a possible nucleus of a Stalinist revolutionary army in the UK, rather as IS returnees are regarded as potential terrorists. However, popular fears were directed against Hitler rather than Stalin and the divisions found in Spain between Stalinists, Trotskyites and liberals soon became rather obvious, making the likelihood that the Spain returnees could act as a coherent force much less. Here we can see a fairly obvious basis for some difference in treatment of these two groups of returnees, so the difference does not of itself reveal anything about the British state that 'we don't already know'.

    • Western governments do not raise panics about service in the Israeli armed forces because there is no open ideological tension between them and Israel. They raise panics about joining the IS crowd because there is plenty of open tension, plainly hostile sentiment, between them and IS.
      The Westerners may have suspicions, of a rational nature but at a quieter level, about Israeli spying and readiness to use force, as annie says, and maybe they keep more of a wary eye on Israeli-trained operatives than they openly proclaim.
      I'm not sure that Maggie for her part is 'putting things bluntly' - I suspect (would I make a good secret policeman?) that she's raising two questions at once, which could be confusing rather than blunt. Is it that the West has good and objective reason to fear IS-trained returnees? Is it that the flames of this fear are being fanned to support a deceitful and imperialist agenda? Both questions could be answered Yes without contradiction but they are still rather different questions.

  • Will the WCC finally break the interfaith ecumenical deal?
    • I too found that sentence about anti-Semitism all but impossible to follow. If we're working or even talking in ways that express solidarity with conscientious Jewish people we are not expressing 'anti-Semitism in altered form' surely?
      Mind you, our own consciences are hardly clear. We didn't say much about Gaza. The state of my own communion, Anglican/Episcopal, may be inferred from the Shipman business - that may be a rather extreme manifestation but it still tells you something. The Pope, in whom great hopes had been placed, lapsed into silence.

  • Senator Warren's progressive supporters demand accountability for her rightwing pro-Israel positioning
    • I would interpret this as a politician trying to sense what pressure is coming from the constituency. At Cape Cod she simply made the conventional remarks in support of Israel, presumably expecting that her mainstream audience would entirely sympathise. The response was enough to warn her that a university audience would not be quite so sympathetic to the same ideas, let's hope enough to prick her conscience. The remark by an assistant that she had been taken by surprise at Cape Cod is rather pathetic and frustrating, suggesting that she had scarcely thought about what is after all one of the world's most important problems and was not just expecting audience sympathy but expressing views that seem to her natural and beyond challenge. The tepid change is not enough to justify any hope. We are still in the wilderness. Some forces of public opinion are gathering but they will always melt away if no one gives a lead.
      Pew research reports, which I was looking at in connection with poor Mr. Shipman, seem to indicate no real change in American sympathies for Israel or Palestine - except perhaps for a bit of a shift towards being sorry for everyone - from April to August. Which would mean that the movement caused by the brutality of recent events in Gaza has melted almost literally like snow in summer.

  • ASA statement on Salaita: An 'assault against the Program in American Indian Studies at UIUC '
    • Mind you, the heart of the matter is not discrimination against Native American studies but against an individual and against his opinions on a matter rooted far from American shores. Had he entertained and expressed opinions of the most radical kind against the way in which America was colonised and conquered by people of Euro extraction, and stuck to that topic, he would be probably be admired and honoured, maybe invited to lecture in Israel.

  • Yale president's office was involved from the gitgo in blowup over Yale chaplain's letter
    • A good point from RoHa (below) - maybe my 'comparatively few' would just about survive those counterexamples?

    • You're a model of fairness - nice to meet someone who really lives up to his/her screen name! It will be interesting to see if the Episcopal Church can find another job for him.

    • The Episcopal/Anglican Church seems to have disgraced itself even more profoundly. I'm used to that but this episode may be touching new depths.

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