Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 3937 (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 3937 - 3901

  • Ten days of awe: standing with whom?
    • I think of George Eliot (Daniel Deronda) as the most distinguished proto-Zionist, at least in rhe English-speaking world, pre-Herzl. Mind you, Christian Zionism, perhaps with eccentric rather than really distinguished spokespersons, is much older!

  • Why the split inside the Democratic Party over BDS needs to happen
    • I'm seeking to insert this into the discussion of Israeli legitimacy rather arbitrarily - it bears on the claims to legitimacy based on ancient history. The Khirbet Queyafa discoveries have been mentioned before. They include a bit of inscribed pottery claimed as early (and religious) Hebrew, but really next to unintelligible. The Bible and Ihteroretstion website has reference to an article by Nadav Naaman which is very comprehensive and informative.

  • Jews have religious commandment to support Israel and fight BDS -- American Jewish Committee
    • Jeff or at least one part of the Jeff persona said (surprising me a bit) that he and I agree on important points of political theory, so perhaps we could build on that. We evidently disagree on how these apply to the Palestinis. My view is that there were long centuries during which no one suggested that the actual inhabitants of Palestine were intruders or had no right to be there. The Romans of Byz were not, that I know, pressing that claim for the last period of their existence. This universal, hitherto tacit 'goes without saying', agreement is implicit (though mixed with a strong element of traditional British hypocrisy) in the Balfour Declaration and the documents descending from it. The population may have churned around a bit over time with some coming and some going but there was no significant objection from the kings and potentates - no one became an intruder or invader in the process.
      This is, a I mentioned, a site for those who don't deny the Holocaust or the Nakba or (surely) justify those events and for those who do not advocate discrimination in any form, issuing in violence or otherwise, against anyone on grounds of race.

    • Yes, it took me a moment to find the words in question but I must say that 'Jeff' is disowning what appear to me to be his very words. I'm sorry if I'm reading carelessly but I think 'he' does indeed owe us an explanation. Perhaps 'he' is really 'they'.

    • There is no obligation to restore land to - i.e. attribute exclusive political rights to - people on the ground that they are descended, either genetically or culturally, from former or even (if identifiable) original occupants. Political rights in any place or at any time depend, with minor exceptions, on being an inhabitant willing to live in peace, obey the law and pay taxes, where 'willing to live in peace' means not owing your presence to an act of violence that has not been set right by an agreement and actively maintaining the violent act's results. Agreement includes tacit agreement - the time has come when no one concerned really objects, which is the situation with the First and Second American Nations. Former inhabitants who are forced out have a right of return unless and until they accept citizenship elsewhere, since a refugee who becomes (say) a British citizen must have the same rights and duties as me and I have no right of return to any other place. If you do exercise a right of return you do not have a right to any particular personal property unless something can be identified as particularly connected to you rather than any other individual. The basic ideas were explained, if explanation is needed, on the whole conclusively, I think, in Locke's Second Treatise.
      I would like ask the Moderators about accepting Nakba justification when I presume they would not accept someone saying 'The Holocaust was morally right' and when Holocaust and Nakba have a.certain equivalence in our rules.

  • Israeli government to celebrate 50 years of 'return to Judea and Samaria for eternity' at a settlement
    • I think it is true that some wrongs, very many I suppose, are never righted and that one has to start afresh, which means some grace and forgiveness and taking less than is one's due as part of an agreement to cooperate in the future. That happened between my English and Welsh ancestors,. However, the future cooperation cannot depend on the permanent abrogation of rights for the future generations of one side - that's an arrangement with elements of slavery, therefore not amounting to true cooperation. Before agreement is reached it is extremely important to remind everyone, in season and out of season, of the rights of the weaker party and of the outrages that, like most weaker parties, they are likely to have suffered. When the stronger party will not even state what it thinks a fair and final solution would be like it is all the more important to keep speaking and arguing the hind legs off all the donkeys in the area. The donkeys will say that they are bored and that there's no point in rabbiting on. But there is always point and purpose in not letting injustice be ignored completely.

  • New York TV stations smear Roger Waters-- who praises BDS as 'one of most admirable pieces of resistance world has seen'
    • I can't see where anyone said 'If you call that Nazi then I stand with the Nazis' but there is an important logical point - that if you take a term in common use with a negative (or indeed a positive) connotation and define it in your own way so that it applies firmly to a particular act it is possible that the normal connotation has ceased to apply.

  • Israeli rightist Smotrich lays out the vision for apartheid
    • I'm part of the Protestant Nation. We have all the qualifications - lots of shared history and culture, quite a lot of common ancestry, traditional majority status in many territories. However, I don't think that those characteristics give us the right to exclude or disfranchise Jesuits and Confucians.

    • When I'm offered a definition that contains several defining terms, such as culture, history, residence in an area I ask whether the def is disjunctive (only one of the terms needs to apply) or conjunctive (all of them need to apply). If this is not clear it becomes difficult, perhaps seriously difficult, to assign objects (people in some cases) to the category defined. This difficulty may lead to the invocation of an authority using its discretion to determine cases, but then questions arise about how this discretion, which inevitably promotes uncertainty, is to be justified.
      Still, I'd be interested to know more about how nationalists understand nationalism.
      On the face of it many definitions of Nation permit some individuals to belong to no nation or to many. That's a point that needs clearing up a bit. Then we can get on to why membership of a nation implies rights or duty.

    • In normal usage 'ethnic cleansing' is something done predominantly because of the ethnicity of those involved. Action taken mainly because people are invaders and marauders doesn't qualify, therefore. At that rate the planting of the settlements was e-c, their removal would not be. Of course you can change the definition, so that (say) the capture of the Hindenburg Line becomes ethnic cleansing of Germans from part of Belgium. But under definitions of that scope it would not be clear that e-c was always wrong.

    • I'm not all that dustressed by Mr. S, who is at least right to say that his ideas are not new. They do not amount to a plan.
      Are non-Jewish residents (including current Israeli citizens?) to be asked to sign an acceptance of inferior status, with all democratic rights except the vote, and all subsequently born to do the same? This will presumably have an 'I promise not to protest about my disfranchisement and not to protest about not being able to protest and not to protest about...'. However many clauses you attach to this promise there will always be one too few. This will not eliminate the Palestinian collective but give it a clear identity and a clear grievance. 'All rights except the vote' is not a really consistent combination.
      'Assistance to relocate', the other clause of the plan, is all very well but not even Israel could dump large numbers of people, whenever they want, against the will of the receiving countries wth whom they propose to have normal relations. Relocation would involve paying off the receiving countries for their consent and this consent, plus the necessity of avoiding too obvious Nazi analogies, would require the 'assistance' offered to the emigres to contain an element of compensation which could be presented internationally as generous. Even if it was in reality quite mean it would still require mountains of money which Israel does not have and never has had.
      Relocation requires a massive, American-supported commitment, of which there is no sign yet, though it may be what Kushner will come up with, I suppose. For now it's all talk and really an indication of the niggling weakness of Zionism in the long term.
      Mr. Smotech calls for a battle of ideas in the Western arena. I think that this is a battle where our one big advantage, that we're right, should stand us on good stead.

  • Ayelet Shaked and the fascist ideology
    • Catholic emancipation in the UK came in 1829. There is no vestige or hidden trace of the medieval De Heretico Comburendo laws. There is a certain delirium in getting drawn into discussions of such things as the Ecclesiastical Pensions Measure, so Ersatz's representation of maniacal laughter is very appropriate.
      The UK, like Finland, has no record of excluding massive numbers of former residents and is not surrounded by descendants of such people claiming a right of return. The sovereign power of the UK, like that of Finland, is not exercised over great numbers of people who are disfranchised. No right to do anything approximating to such things (rights which would, if they were claimed and enforced, indicate supremacism) are in fact claimed in the name of any religion - or as yet in any other way.
      Utilitarian benefit - greatest happiness of greatest number - is sensible enough in many contexts but is often hard to calculate. Israel and the Zionist system have, to state the obvious, made many people happy but at the cost of very cruel treatment, not just disadvantage, for others, extending to the loss of political rights often considered crucial for the pursuit of happiness. The example of the removal of these rights by force and falsehood, not yet corrected by any new dispensation or agreement, is a very bad example which will exert malign influence over the generations. I can't see how to avoid the idea that the situation calls for protest and pressure for change.

    • The Church of England is established by law and it has the power to discipline members of the clergy and to disqualify people from office under processes which are part of the law of the land. These processes are operated by the bishops and their duly appointed assistants, sometimes operating as Ecclesiastical Courts or Courts Christian. They are not secular courts staffed with secular judges. The decision in 03 was to withdraw from these courts the power to undo the ordination as priests of serious offenders and leave only the power to prohibit them from officiating. This was because it was envisaged that someone convicted might be found innocent later on and there is no process of reordination - this for reasons that go back to the Donatist controversy of the good old fourth century.
      The most famous case of ecclesiastical jurisdiction was that of the Reverend or ex-Rev Harold Davidson in 1932. Prostitution and lion-taming were involved. His family is still campaigning for the verdict to be overturned.
      If the question is about discipline within organised groups then that kind of discipline seems to be inevitable to a degree, though discipline through social censure and freezing-out is obviously dangerous, sinister and prone to excess.
      Ms. Shaked seems to have started from the principle that any idea of absolute individual rights is to be rejected. I'd agree that absolutism about rights is not tenable because, to my mind, it is too difficult to define rights and because there is sometimes a conflict with common sense and natural humane intuition. But one of the things about common sense is that it is common - and to set aside individual rights for the exceptional interests of one party to a situation, or according to the special perceptions and intuitions of one party, must amount to setting might above right, that is to the negation of morality. That is indeed what many might call fascist.

  • Soros and the Illuminati! Netanyahu Jr. spreads anti-Semitic cartoon
    • I think that Protestant German states were not so convinced of Weishaupt's sinister intentions - after expulsion from Bavaria he lived on for many years, for a while writing prolifically. The Illuminati had connections with the Masonic world and the Masons were involved involved in revolutionary activity in the late eighteenth century but some of the denunciationsofbtheir ideas and activities seem to have become highly coloured.

  • Senator Cantwell, are you listening?
    • I am sure that Lloyd George was never a banker, Rothschild or otherwise. He did run a law firm that represented Herzl. That was because he was, always had been and always would be, a committed Christian Zionist, though in an odd way he was scarcely a Christian. Balfour was a very strong Christian and Christian Zionist. They came of a tradition already three centuries old which had so far, until the appearance of Herzl and especially Weizmann, not been helped sufficiently from the Jewish side.

    • We did to some extent try to withdraw from the outrageous thing we had done but it is a mistake to attend only to official pronouncements. The Times on the morrow of the B Declation announced ''Palestine for the Jews. Official sympathy' - and Balfour himself must have briefed them. Quoting a very interesting passage from Margaret Macmillan's 'Peacemakers':
      'The British also toned down the language of the mandate to imply that the Jewish national home would merely be in Palestine rather than occupying the whole. In place of the duty of the mandatory power to develop a self-governing Commonwealth they substituted 'self-governing institutions'. Weizmann....struggled to prevent the British government making the terms even weaker. He wrote in despair to Albert Einstein 'All the shady characters of the world are at work against us. Rich servile Jews, dark fanatic Jewish obscurantists in combination with the Vatican, with Arab assassins, English imperialist anti-Semitic reactionaries - in short, all the dogs are howling'. He was not as alone as he felt. Support kept coming, often from unexpected quarters such as German Zionists, Anglican clergy or Italian Catholics. The United States Congress roused pass resolutions in favour of the Jewish national home. And Weizmann's chief British allies remained firm. In a private meeting at Balfor's house on 22 July 1921 Lloyd George and Balfour assured him that 'they had always meant an eventual Jewish state'. When the awkward issue of Zionist gun-running into Palestine came up, Churchill winked: 'We won't mind it, but don't speak of it'. All agreed that the Palestinian Arab delegation was a nuisance' - Macmillan 'Peacemakers' p.416.
      Never underestimate Christian Zionism.

    • The British ministers of 1917 were not deceived or exploited by the Jewish Zionists - they (or the dominant faction among them) were convinced Christian Zionists and knew what they were about. The newspapers were immediately briefed to that effect. Margaret Macmillan's 'Peacemakers' makes this clear., I think. It's quite true that successive Zionist and Israeli leaderships have been ruthless and arrogant.

  • Rightwing campaign against Jewish exec who called for exposing Nakba seems likely to fail
    • If someone asked me during boisterous conversation why anyone with an IQ over 50 is an Anglican I would not be too offended, indeed would try to think of a reason, but we are not supposed on Mondoweiss to make remarks that amount to 'bashing' any particular religion and I think we should stick to that. Religious polemics are a dodgy genre.

    • I didn't see any anti-Z in Myers' review of Yizhar, the evidence cited by his detractors, to say that the sins of Z should be admitted is very much not the same as saying that Z was or is wrong. Even this obviously too much for some but I'm sure it is Myers, not they, who are secure in the mainstream. Myers follows the not-so-New Historians in accepting that there were more expulsions than was once claimed but he seems almost to accept that mere exclusions, as if fleeing a war zone deprived you of your rights and your home, were fairly legitimate. He completely excludes the right of return.

  • Lessons from Finkelstein: a response to Seth Anderson
    • Thanks for the quote about Greece, Talkback. Either MT was a biased witness who wouldn't see any good anywhere in the benighted East or he was objective, in which case we see that this sort of evidence doesn't matter. Even if the Greeks had been poor and wretched at that time that would not mean that they had to give up Thessaly to any advanced people who wanted it.

    • Shaftesbury' s influential 1875 address to the Palestine Exploration Fund talks of a land 'almost without an inhabitant', making it seem as if 'without a people' meant something very close to 'without a population', which is what led to Zangwill's statement in 1921 that in a literal sense (only) Shaftesbury had exaggerated. Both Shaftesbury and Zangwill (most of the time) agreed with many others that there was no population whose rights might reasonably stand in the way of the Restorationist project.
      Whether the verbal difference between 'without people' and 'without a people' makes a moral difference depends on whether there are populations which are insufficient in numbers, prosperity and specific connection to the place to give them the rights which peoples normally have. Whether there are significant numbers of people who are not a people.
      I suppose one might argue that if people are really so few and so miserable that by themselves they cannot expect to survive or live a life that even they would consider tolerable or to form any functioning social organisation then perhaps they are not in a state where political rights exist. Perhaps - but surely we should not accept the claim of outsiders that this situation exists and that they are entitled to go marching in. This would be to accept judgement in seriously self-serving form as if it were objective. Furthermore it is obvious that nothing like this degree of misery prevailed in Ottoman Palestine even if we took Mark Twain's judgement as true at double strength.
      There remains the odd idea that people whose home is one province, rather than the whole, of some large polity can be excluded from their homes with no wrong done because their loyalty was not to the whole, not the specific part, and they still 'have' the rest. This (what is implied rhetorically by calling the Palestinians only 'Arabs' ) is a) monstrous and b) completely paradoxical because the argument can be iterated until the people concerned have in effect lost everything.
      So I think that there is no morally relevant difference here between 'people' and 'a people'.

  • Democratic candidate for Illinois gov'r fires his running mate over BDS
    • The Bible insists that the Israelites were conquering immigrants, absolutely not indigenous but outsiders acting on the special mandate of God, and that the Jews of later times were returning exiles, mainly born in Iraq, who had more rights than the people living in the land, again by special divine decree, bring crucial to the plan for 'adding many nations to God' in the end.

    • I agree that it's gross, out-Petersing Peters. However even members of nomadic tribes, should that by any strange chance be a vaguely relevant concept, have rights. So do recent immigrants from Eastern Europe and New York. But the rights of the immigrants could not on any rational theory stretch to excluding the nomads from the areas where they had a generations-old right to practise their transhumany ways.

  • The alleged peace process reaches farcical lows
    • My mum is still with us at 104 and experiences some time shifts in her consciousness these days. I seem to be getting to that point at a rather earlier stage.

    • I read that American Conservative article in full on your recommendation, Mist, last night - I thought it was a mixture of perceptiveness and rather wishful thinking. I woke this morning to find that Israel had bombed a chemical installation in Syria, just like in the old days, an indication that there has been no massive shift in the power balance as yet. It must be true that Israel needs to take Russian interests and intentions into account rather more than in the old days but also true that Russia is not a very vocal or committed supporter of the Palestinian cause. From its record at the UN it looks like just another - yet another - member of the intercontinental, sometimes it feels like intergalactic, liberal Zionist chorus. I also noted Neyanyahu boasting today of improving relations with the Arab countries.

    • See K. Berthelot's 2008 article 'Hecataeus and Jewish Misanthropy' and Jan Assmann's 1997 book 'Moses the Egyptian'. We have to be careful about ancient texts of possibly anti-Semitic character but I think that the Ptolemaic world from which Hecataeus and Manetho came thought of the Jews as latter day Spartans - with much Jewish encouragement. They seemed to be militaristic and suspicious of outsiders in the way that the garrisons of military camps are. Modern Zionists have been both praised and disparaged for Spartanism. I seem to be blowing my own trumpet somewhat today, so I'll mention my article here of January 29, 1914 on Spartan Israel.
      It may be asked why the figure of Joshua, an unsparing conqueror, remains so much admired in some Jewish and Christian circles.

  • Two Chicago pols break over BDS, as U.S. Jews divide over Israel
    • While Mooser works on that one, just to mention my post on December 19 last year about some difficulties in regarding the Kotel as Herod's work.

  • US Ambassador blames Obama for 'absolute betrayal' of Israel, and Palestinians for killing the peace process
    • Perhaps it would be of importance but I don't think that they could in practice take any decision about land use and ownership, exploitation of natural resources etc. of which Israel did not approve. Perhaps ithis situation would be a significant improvement on the situation of now but I wouldn't call it independence (you may say that my choice of words is not that important) or security of possession. The Roman term 'libertas precaria' might be useful.

    • You frame the question to suggest that the term 'independent' applies to those deprived of all means of self defence, which in my usage it doesn't. I am quite sure that Mr.F, from what we know of him, would regard any idea of a Palestine not in effective subjection in all important matters to Israel - for instance possessing even token means of self defence or freedom to form alliances - as morally wrong. That is what the symbolism of the settlement on it'd commanding height, clearly approved by F, conveys. No one has to use words my way, of course - if we are to call 'independent' those making choices that still exist even within such constraints, then maybe F would support independence of that kind, presumably within the borders mentioned by Catalan.

    • The settlements on their commanding heights symbolise the fact that Palestine is to be nowhere, in the sense that there is to be no genuinely sovereign power from river to sea except Israel. The borders will define administrative areas subject to the same power on different terms.

  • Gideon Levy calls out Israel's fundamental, racist religion: Zionism
    • Righteous in its objection to the ill-treatment suffered by Jews in Europe, unjust in its assumption of a right, in certain circumstances, to ill-treat others.

    • Judaism contains a great deal of reflection on both triumph and trauma often seen in very political terms.

  • Changing the narrative, from BDS to antifa
    • Whatever has motivated Zionism over the years the claim of Zionism is surely that people who are Jewish, and they only, have birthright in the Holy Land?

    • Yes, Mist, Zionism ascribes rights on the basis of (remote!) ancestry, i.e. on the basis of race, and took possession with extraordinary violence and continuing humiliation as its instruments, so theft is s mild word. But doomed? I think that the dark, nationalist spirit of our times is with them. Not to mention the political class of the Western world.

    • Isn't Z in its underlying theory about the inherent right - birthright - of all Jewish people in respect of the Holy Land?

  • American Legion calls on Congress to finally investigate 'USS Liberty' attack, 50 years after
    • I agree with Keith. The likes of us look eccentric enough already to the distorted consciousness of the West without giving everyone reason to think us so.

    • They, and especially their monstrous leader Dayan, were on the most terrific roll of any society in modern times, years of planning turning to days of smashing victory, avenging everything from Haman to Hitler. No one else, not even the leading power of the Western world, had any rights to cause the slightest obstruction. That point had to be made and well and truly made it remains, as all the miserable peace processes since have shown. Whether Dayan knew that the ship he attacked was American I don't know. He must have known it probably
      was. If it was, that fact didn't matter.

    • Page: 39
    • I don't think,this theory about Johnson is very plausible. I'm not persuaded that it was in his character. The risk of killing Soviet personnel and triggering a catastrophe would have been greater than any prospect of gain. Nasser's pro-Soviet regime was shattered anyway. The extent of guilty knowledge would have been unmanageably great.. Preparations for an attack on Egyot would have been obvious. If a pretext had been wanted it could have been found in a much less risky way.
      The incident stands as a monument to Israel's arrogance and ruthlessness and to its mighty ring of influence in Washington..

  • Netanyahu declares West Bank is Israel 'forever,' as liberal Zionists cry out for 'make-believe peace process'
    • Transferring, hopefully with compensation that would be publicised as generous, rather than the crude 'expelling' - the logic of Zionism, like the logic of sole rightful possession in other forms, is that people who have no right to be there ought to leave, even if the fact that they are there is not entirely their fault and deserves some humanitarian assistance. Nor do they all have to go - a grateful minority would be deeply welcome and would be well looked after. Tender mercies. But so far the enormous expense of this programme - a more coercive programme would cost even more - has put it beyond reach. But the logic of the situation is always there.

  • Prominent Israeli rabbi preaches rape in war time
    • I don't think that the Khirbet Qeiyafa inscriptions are either clearly in Hebrew or clearly making moral statements. There is very solid reason to think otherwise. See M. Richelle 'New Readings' Semitica 57, 2015, p.147 on the content and C. Rollston (the world's leading authority, I think) 'Khirbet Qeiyafa Ostracon' Tel Aviv, 2011, p.67 for the language.

    • continue, leading to mass rape sanctioned by the people who first objected. 'There was no king in Israel, so everyone did what was right in his own eyes'. Another reflection on emergency ethics. If you are in a positive frame of mind you can say that the Bible teaches that the days of organised violence, even of organised permission for violence in emergency, against women were primitive and shucking and should most rigorously be put behind us. I wonder what the Rabbi thinks?

    • I think that there is a bit of overstatement in saying that the Rabbi 'preaches rape' - he doesn't want rape to happen and isn't calling for it as a weapon of intimidation, though he does think that it's permissible in certain emergencies. In a certain sense this is a distinction not worth making, I know, though all 'just war' theories envisage some horrible actions in emergencies.
      He is the prisoner of outrageous medieval interpretations of Deuteronomy, which does not concern rape in the heat of battle but marriage with a former captive after battle when the warrior is able to return home: nothing to with violent lust in the front line trenches. Rape in the immediate aftermath is in fact forbidden. Medieval readers were scandalised by the permission to marry, with an element mutual consent, a non-Israelite without any mention of conversion. The Dt attitude to women is not that appealing - of course they would have a strong wish to be absorbed into a new patriarchal family, of course they would as wives participate in the rituals of the household. But the medieval interpretation is as much about racial feeling as about sexual passion.
      There is much more to the question of Biblical teaching about rape than that one passage. The Dinah story in Genesis 34 shows rape as an unendurable insult to a family, once again justifying suspension of normal ethical rules. The final passages of Judges dwell on the theme, objection to individual rape

  • The United State of Israel and Palestine
    • I don't think that a persona one of whose features is making negative remarks couched in the language of skin colour has a place on an anti-racist site.

  • As many as 1 million Israelis have left for the U.S.
  • Jews argue whether Zionism is racism -- in the Forward!
    • That manifesto, organised by Rustin's 'Basic' committee, published in the NYT on 23 Nov. 75, is a pretty shocking document. It was in the spirit of those days, of course, but its references to poverty in the midst of Arab wealth and especially to 'Arab oil prices' - what had that to do with Nakbas or Occupations? - don't fall much short of racism. The list of signatories is impressive and most distressing. Perhaps my 1975 self would have fallen for it.
      It's a very important document, I think, for illustrating the depth of the alliance between Civil Rights and Zionism and how much good they did to each other for how long. The standing of Z as fundamentally a good moral force, the standing it has in Western political discourse to this day, is much owed to that alliance.
      My understanding of 'racism' = 'attribution or claim of distinctive rights based, at least to a great extent, on ancestry, or emotion in support of such claims'. That would include contempt for those whose ancestry is 'wrong'. Irrelevant accusations - Arab oil prices - are an expression of contempt.

  • White Jews: deal with your privilege and call out Jewish support for white supremacy
  • Netanyahu's diplomatic charm offensive in Africa is bound to fail
    • James is being far too optimistic - at least I would think so after looking at all-Jazeera report for August 15th on the forthcoming African 'summit'. Netanyahu has already visited, seemingly with some success, the West African economic meeting in Liberia this year and the general trend per al-J is for the waning of the historic African support for Palestine. 'History can be overcome' by the sheer need to do business, or to put it less kindly by money. It's also playing into the tensions between Muslims and Christians in Africa - the President of Nigeria did boycott the Liberia meeting but was opposed at home for behaving as if Nigeria were a Muslim state.

  • Charlottesville is moment of truth for empowered U.S. Zionists (who name their children after Israeli generals)
    • I don't think a super skilled Mossad false flag inciter would have blown himself up by accident. That sort of person wouldn't get out of training school. He wouldn't let several of his acolytes get arrested and booed.

  • Editors of 'Assuming Boycott' anthology speak out against anti-Semitism controversy at Queens Museum
    • I suppose that Ms. Raicovitch thinks it contrary to the best interests of the museum for it to be associated with a celebration of dispossession and hideous killing. That would not really make it the decision of a museum professional concerned with the museum world, as Estefan and Kuoni rather tend to present it, but the decision of someone prepared to risk her career by making a political protest. I'm sorry that the New York political authorities are not prepared to grant the relevant degree of autonomy to its cultural institutions. If some such institutions wanted to put on something stridently Zionist I wouldn't want them stopped in such a high-handed way. But we must register this as another refutation of the idea that Israel's public and political position is seriously weakened.

    • Playing defence means that we attempt to raise objections to something that is being done and immediately find ourselves accepting the right of the other side to accuse and sit in judgement on us, a certainly losing proposition. I think we have to begin ignoring, rather than responding to, accusations of prejudice when supported by no evidence except for the very fact that we make the objections concerned and call for a response to the questions we have raised.

  • Trump support for racists forces Israeli leaders to take sides, but which side will they choose?
    • To add to your remarks, Mist, we should note that the Bible, the book that Zionists know so patchily, is the primary witness to a Philistine state. Its boundaries are uncertain and it may have lost its independence after the time of Nebuchadnezzar, but the same is true of the states or kingdoms of Israel and Judah, which likewise lost their independence after a time.
      It was the Philistine/Palestinian name that spread over the whole territory as a geographical term, as is indicated by the evidence you mention, which is proof, I think, that the Philistine/Palestinian state whose name (unlike Israel) thus spread, and which represents an non-Israelite ancient population, had never been an inconsiderable thing.
      Moreover a new perspective comes from the recently identified 'Northern Palestine', a neo-Hittite kingdom. See Weeden, After the Hittites, SOAS Research Online, 2013 .
      Not that human rights depend on ancient history..

  • On Charlottesville and Jewish memory
    • The desire to live in peace but strictly on one's own terms is not particularly godly but may cover a rather awful mixture of disregard of rights, brutality and self-righteousness.
      I do accept that it has almost always been part of Zionism to desire the existence of a noticeable non-Jewish minority in the Jewish State, at least for a long time. The exclusive rights claimed for people who are Jewish include the right, and almost a duty, to share benefits up to the limits of own needs. That's why it is so characteristic of Zionist leaders' remarks to include both generous and menacing elements. But whatever anyone says in mere words, as RoHa notes, the objective of creating a new and large majority with extensive control of resources means 'population transfer' and indeed eljay-style supremacy, the supposed necessary condition of Jewish safety.

    • The logic of the situation is surely that creating a new political majority with extensive, newly created property rights had to involve substantial displacement of the existing population. If this could have been done by deals with the surrounding polities all the better. Even if there had to be short term disruption then good relations with the neighbours would still be sought as soon as possible. Everyone would benefit in the end, The leaders no doubt considered that they had a degree of good will towards the "Arabs' and had no wish to make them suffer unnecessarily. This degree of good will is of course compatible with outrageous injustice and cruelty.

  • The 'vertical apartheid' of the Israeli occupation
    • Well, gamal, maybe you're my Nemeshughes.

    • Perhaps typos are a kind of Freudian slip. Am I revealing a God complex? This is worrying.

    • And it was a good quantum joke, Mooser, made me smile. Schrödinger's cat would have grinned.

    • Genesis 14:18-20.

    • As to the Mayor of Jerusalem ignorant and in a sense insulting remarks about the Jewish bedrock, we should note the announcement by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism on February 17, 2016, about the discovery of remains from chalcolithuc Jerusalem - the 5000s BCE. Zionists know their Bible very little, it seems to me, however often they appeal to it, since the existence of Jerusalem before Abraham is recorded so clearly, not only a city but as a centre of the worship of God Most Hugh. A brutally interpreted train of religious thought at work.

    • It's worth asking, Kaisa, why the idea of a Jewish State in Europe or North America was never even asked for in any serious way. In part because the paradoxical horror of 'I want my rights so I'm abrogating yours to the point, as necessary, of excluding you from your home' would have been impossible to ignore. There would always have been a contrary right that could not be dismissed. Even the arbitrary selection of a deserted island would generate a paradox: why should others in comparable need not have a right to select the same home - if one can make an arbitrary claim, so can another.
      It had to be Palestine because only there could contrary rights be overwhelmed by the tremendous claim of a unique, uniquely authoritative divine mandate recorded in the world's most famous literary text. It's always about the Bible.

    • There's no universal obligation on private organisations to admit everyone to membership or to serve everyone equally - there are good reasons for political parties, churches etc, to restrict membership and for charities to concentrate on a narrow range of needs.
      States and polities should operate on the basis of human rights that are universal, maybe even then with exceptions that respond to circumstances, meet with general consent and are for the general good. Exceptions that make things worse, rouse intense opposition and discriminate massively, as in the area where Israeli sovereign power has been exercised, are of course not so permissible.

  • Video: Under protection from Israeli forces, settlers take over Palestinian home in Hebron's Old City
    • It may be forbidden to covet one's neighbour's goods but it is permitted to take what God gives you not because you covet it but because he has a higher purpose which we cannot expect to understand in full. To be God is to have thoughts beyond human understanding and to have rights to override the normal moral rules - for the best in the end, of course. The idea of divine donation - the great intervention, the unique reshaping of history - is never more than a millimetre beneath the surface of Zionist claims despite the parade of atheist masks.
      The awful thing for me is that some of all that is true.

  • Trump response to Charlottesville sugarcoats a rotten morality
    • The question is surely not whether it was wise (it wasn't absurd) to confront the 'supremacists' but whether Trump's reaction was justified not by the unwisdom but, as he suggested, by the comparably equivalent violence of the counter-demonstrators. I think that there has been no reasonable evidence for this equivalence. It's important to say that. I can in a way understand why Trump would want to call for civil peace in a way that suggests to his supporters that he hasn't abandoned them or come to agree after all with Clinton that they are Deplorables but it's still true that he is, to put it quite mildly, striking a false note. I can understand that he wants to wrap negative remarks up in some sort of good news but his responding to a question about anti-Semitism by implying that his recent election as the candidate of Love would put everything right was hardly substantial or convincing. For the likes of us the question is whether either the 'supremacists' or the reaction against them will impact in any way on public opinion about Palestine. My feeling is that both the rise of the Supes, by validating exclusivist nationalism, and their fall, by discrediting everything Nazi, would work out not too badly for Israel.

  • Lessons from Finkelstein: International Law and equal rights should be the focus for Palestine solidarity
    • The Palestinians don't have the right of s-d because they don't exist, you know - might as well call for s-d among unicorns.

  • Israel would use nuclear weapons to keep refugees from returning -- Noam Chomsky
    • Thanks for the reference to that UN document, Joseph. I wish the UK government spoke with that sort of clarity in other areas.
      However my thoughts on hereditary refugee status are that the child of a refugee is a refugee if (s)he does not want citizenship anywhere else: citizenship of the UK (or wherrver) should not be ascribed to someone whose parents and culture come from elsewhere against personal preference: people should not told - which would be a kind of insult - to forget such things. On the other hand if someone chooses to accept UK citizenship he accepts the rights and duties that I have, neither more or less, and my rights do not include becoming a citizen of Palestine or going to live there.
      However I don't think that the crime of dispossession goes away when there are few people left to whom direct redress can be made.

    • The point is not that they fled but that they were not permitted to return, which was and remains a crime that cries out to heaven, though most people prefer not to think about it. There are all sorts of occasions in life when people have to accept much less than is their due: this acceptance is called realism, graciousness, forgivingness. This acceptance might be necessary for the Palestinians one day. Sibi has mentioned that there is a moral duty to be realistic, which is true enough. I think that in the moment of convergence, conciliation and negotiation reslism means readiness to compromise, maybe radically, depending on what the reality is. Before that moment realism means inter alia trying to explain to public opinion what violation of rights has occurred.

    • I understand that Cromwell was not too keen to have more Jewish people around and informed the petitioners that they had to be discreet - but he had received the legal advice that Yoni mentions. And both sides in the Civil War had borrowed from Jewish financial institutions in Amsterdam, owed them something and could see what benefit would ensue if they opened branches in London. Less than a decade later the restored Charles II, presumably finding the same legal advice in a bottom drawer, quietly brushed aside objections to a greater Jewish presence. We don't remember the 'Jew free' centuries with pride. The moral is that excluding people from their homes is remembered for a long time as a disgrace.

    • 'Thinking what I like' about the morality of it, it certainly seems to me that the difference between a home and a prison is that you can come and go from a home without permission, that excluding people from their homes is a terrible crime and that its results ought to be negated. Every settlement that disregards all the rights of excluded people is an encouragement to those who might plan to commit the same crime in the future.
      Perhaps there is in practice no hope whatever, not a shred, of finding a settlement which would negate the crime of 48 and perhaps those who try to keep the hope alive are deluded, even dangerous obstacles on the path to peace. That point would mean more to me if I thought that there was any more realistic peace proposal with an obvious prospect of acceptance. Until there is I think that it is more helpful than dangerous to keep the requirements of morality in mind.

  • Zionism is apartheid, and worse
    • There is no problem in the use of a myth which is either ancient or religious or both by a genuine atheist. (s)he may think that it is an expression of a deep truth about humanity (Oedipus/Freud) or evidence of an important truth about history (Agamemnon/any atheist fascinated by Schliemann).
      If the myth was in origin part of a claim by someone to the right to do something - maybe the story of Odysseus suggests that one has every right, conferred by the gods, to massacre any gang that sets covetous eyes on one's wife - what if someone who claims to be an atheist acts in that way now, referring solely to the myth for authority?
      He seems to have two problems: the myth is a religious one and he seemingly does not believe in the authority in which the mythical characters believed. So he needs to to distinguish his own attitude from the attitude behind the myth - and can he do this if the myth is the sole authority he cites? Secondly, the myth is ancient and we might argue that standards of right and wrong have evolved in some crucial way since then.
      One might suspect - though this is a slightly different thing - that if he has deeply internalised the myth and it is his most profound motivation then he is not really an atheist at all, but a religious believer who cannot bear to recognise his true state of mind - and that is a worrying moral position,

  • McMaster solidifies power at NSC -- and supports Iran deal, sees Israel as occupier
    • Greenwald does seem to agree that McM is getting the islamophobia toned down. Whether this means anything good for the Palestinians I don't know. Phil quotes some fuming Zionist rhetoric that suggests that McM sees things somewhat our way, but maybe we should treat this with some scepticism. Greenwald raises the question of a soft coup, and it does seem as if Trump has a kind of dependence on the support of these military men that he doesn't experience with others - he couldn't lightly get rid of them. Does this bear comparison with the Weimar kind of situation when a regime that has great difficulty in commanding confidence or even in being taken seriously is bolstered by generals in high office who quietly keep everyone informed of what the senior officer corps will and will not accept?

  • 'I will not be bullied, intimidated threatened over my unshakeable support for Palestinian liberation' -- Linda Sarsour
    • Though even her optimism stops short of saying explicitly that the United States will one day play a constructive role in Palestine.

    • In a sense LS could be seen as expressing deep confidence in the American system if she is sure that it will one day, perhaps despite present appearances, produce a Muslim woman President - unless she means as a result of violent revolution, which she doesn't really suggest. She isn't saying 'a President who will force everyone to live the Muslim way or who will abolish the freedom to speak ill of Islam', is she now?

  • As Israeli soldiers crushed Gaza, world Jewry united, and sent Ben & Jerry's ice cream to the front
  • Debunking the 2 claims: anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, and BDS unfairly singles out Israel
    • Thank you, RoHa. Yes indeed, Talkback, I was trying to protect Donald's argument, which is an appeal to moral intuition, from a riposte based merely on redefining words. Thanks for kind words, echino, though I don't think I've any copyright or title deed (perhaps Jack Green can advise me) in this matter.

    • I'm glad of all three above replies but let us make an effort to please some other colleagues. Let us stipulate, though it's rather tedious, that in our usage, temporarily at least, 'Zinonism' stands for 'claims to Jewish rights in Palestine that stop completely short of justifying wrong done to Palestinians'. This may not be normal usage but anyone is entitled to use words in any way, so long as one makes oneself clear.
      If that is the stipulation about that word, the fact remains that wrong was done to Palestinians and that an ideology exists which justified and continues to justify that wrong. We now need, at least for temporary purposes, a new word for this ideology: I'll pull 'strongisraelism' out of thin air. The word may come from thin air but the reality is there in full force. Strongisrealism is morally wrong and indeed cruel and very much still in operation: and it needs no prejudice or irrational race feeling to see that, indeed it takes a dose of prejudice to stop one's seeing it. Which was a point and feature of Donald's main argument, though now in different words.
      We can also search for Zionism in the tediously stipulated sense but may find that nothing modest and gentle enough to fit the bill ever seriously influenced events or ever even existed: definitions don't guarantee that anything to which they apply exists.
      If you challenge substantial truths with mere changes in the use of words the most you achieve is rewriting of the same truths to the same real effect but in different words: hardly worth the effort.

    • It's been claimed that Israel's real actions in messing up the Palestinians and the results of those actions exceed what Zionism required. If that is so and if the likes of Donald and me complain solely of those actions and results then we are not even anti-Zionists, let alone anti-Semitic.

    • There is no doubt that King expressed support for Israel's security in the conventional terms of the time - and he did not make this suppprt conditional on any improvent in the situation of Palestinians. He tended to be discreet about this but sometimes went further - he didn't have to sign a pro-Israel newspaper manifesto at the time of the 67 war, but he did. I've given references previously. He must have thought about the matter quite a lot.
      What I don't think he ever said in writing or in a public speech was that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, and I don't think he ever would have gone that far because it would have meant the open breach with Carmichael that both always avoided. The famous letter was faked just because his explicit authority on this very point was needed.

    • A few more things - I think that Donald assumes that the ideology or principles that justify what the Palestinians have suffered is properly called Zionism. This seems to me to be a normal use of words. If one says that it was a further ideology, not implied by Z, then it is still the ideology that was acted upon, and acted upon by those generally called Z'ists.
      If another name for these ideas is (rather confusingly) demanded then there is still a rational complaint about their actual situation, the situation imposed by Israel, even if that other name is used. It's that complaint which the likes of Donald and me support as of the most obvious moral validity and it is that complaint which is not anti-Semitic in the sense of resulting from mere prejudice.

    • I was thinking of Donald's core argument here that the complaint of a Palestinian who had suffered the impact of Zionism could not be dismissed as anti-Semitic because there is so much obvious reason in it. I don't that this has been confronted, and I don't see how any remotely liberal Zionist really could confront it. The question of the most desirable outcome is a different one, I think. I accept that the presence of reason in one's complaint does not by itself prove that there is reason in one's response.
      However, let me first applaud you for drawing our attention to the two most important Christian voices in all this. The Pope seems to have committed himself to the idea that the Covenant of Sinai is still valid - I believe it's in his Evangellii Gaudium message, though I haven't chased down chapter and verse. He's not going far beyond his recent predecessors, though. This seems to commit the Catholic Church with iron bonds to strict Zionism and indeed to discountenance any 'liberal' stuff about 2 states or equality of religions.
      Thank God I'm a Protestant, and but there I come up against Martin Luther King and his mentor, Reinhold Niebuhr, for whom the Covenant of Sinai was the model,of sacredness and the fountainhead of morality and whose commitment to Israel was full.

    • Donald produces an argument about anti-Semitism which no one has challenged directly: well done. The conventional line of thought seems to go the other way: Zionism is so clearly and obviously valid that any who say 'They had and have no right to do this to me' can only be motivated, since they have no remotely good reasons, by prejudice, presumably anti-Semitism. Thus the Palestinians have never had anyone but themselves to blame for not accepting that Jewish rights, derived from ancient times, have and always have had at least a certain priority over theirs, derived from being born there to parents who were born there and lived there, notwithstanding the fact that it is this kind of right that is normal in most places. This is to make Jewish rights especially sacred, i.e. to appeal openly or under some disguise, usually rather blustering disguise, to religion. The idea of Divine Donation of the Land and the correlative idea that those whom the land has vomited out have, to say the least, no right of return, is never more than a millimetre under the surface. The fact that this idea is so exceptional, that it is so cruelly operated on the ground and so widely and fiercely defended in the rest of the world, makes critique of it exceptionally important. It's a question of concentrating on something important rather than picking on something arbitrarily.

  • 'Transferring' Palestinian citizens of Israel to a Palestinian state goes from outrage to Netanyahu policy
    • I know and in a way honour you, jon, for being a Zionist in the Altneuland tradition, though the connection of AN with the harsh reality is not exact, as eljay mentions. I'd suggest that Herzl just did not reckon with the horrible psychological impact on a reasonably settled population of an immigrant group proclaiming, in the later famous phrase, 'This land is ours', at least if it clearly meant 'ours in a deeper way than yours', which makes the immigration a challenge to the morality and sense of right and wrong that the other population has. There was no attractive or relevant-seeming precedent for doing this - at least without without serious conflict and resistance - in the annals of colonialism to which Herzl could have appealed. He would have noted the fairly recent story of the Trekkers and the Battle of Blood River.
      You could say that his storyline acknowledges, fair and square, that the Jewish colonists could be tempted to go too far. And I think that you too acknowledge this. But he has them resisting the temptation in an atmosphere of success all round and that atmosphere was too much to assume in a situation in which there was bound to be an element of underlying conflict and inequality. I think that when you look at the contrast between what he hoped and what would happen you see that Zionism had no realistic chance of avoiding what Yonah has called (I cite him often) its cruel vector.
      In which context your Karsh/Morris contrast re Herzl is relevant. I'm sure that Herzl never arrived at Morris's dramatic existentialism but Karsh can't show that forced relocation (maybe of pre-Colombians in Paraguay, who knows?) could really be avoided on Herzl's story, even if it would be done quite gently and within a small locality.
      I accept that Herzl might have argued that his Jewish colonists couldn't have treated the pre-Colombians worse than they'd been treated already.

    • Not really serious but to me more thsn pathetic. Makes me shudder.

    • 'Why is all this yours?"
      'It was all left to me in Granny's will'
      'But Granny's signature was forged'
      'it's still all left to me'.
      The last statement could just be true, because a false premise does not prove falsity in the conclusion. But no reasonable person would offer that statement without finding a reason independent of the document that rests on what he implicitly accepts is false authority.

    • People assert the obvious reverse of the truth, don't they? How can these things be endured?

    • It is still the case, Jack, that the latest, not the earliest, valid property deed is the one in operation.
      The right that people have - well, I think it can be modified with general consent and to general benefit - is to be enfranchised citizens of a sovereign power., not merely of a subordinate authority.
      Property rights depend on the law of the land and the law of the land the law of the land is created by or (at least in reasonable societies) with some reference to the enfranchised citizens.
      The Palestine dispute is not a series of individual disputes about who is or is not the owner of particular parcels of property, it is about who holds sovereign power or is an enfranchised citizen - which brings with it, but is not centred on, the question of who makes the rules about property.
      No individual Israeli has a title to personal property bestowed personally by the scriptures. The point is that Israeli governments have claimed to inherit the sovereign rights of former rulers under former social contracts - and have used these for many purposes, including indeed to rob innocent Palestinians of their property and
      possessions. But former social contracts get replaced by later ones.

    • If we follow the analogy of title deeds, we might note that most are records of purchases. It is the latest, not the earliest purchaser, who has (on the assumption that title deeds are valid things) the current ownership.
      The analogy is highly misleading because Individual property rights are not the same thing as citizenship rights, which are what is really disputed in Palestine. Citizenship is not normally purchased. Specific citizenship is often claimed by moral right. People who are born in a place and born to parents whose permanent legitimate presence was never questioned have a moral right to be citizens of that place: they don't have to have paid for it by money or labour, they don't have to be favoured by the sovereign power. By contrast no one has a moral right to own this or that property unless (if you accept the idea of private property) by labour or purchase or special government decree.
      The moral rights of the Palestinians, who were or are of long standing legitimate presence, have been outraged by their exclusion and disfranchisement. Past dispensations don't and can't - at least not by the fact that they once existed - make this any less outrageous. The only way they could matter is if one of them did not just exist but had unique moral status, i.e. was sacred, which means had divine authority.

  • NYT, Reuters, Economist journalists self-censor reports from Israel so as not to be 'savagely targeted' -- John Lyons
    • Mr. Lyons seems to be a somewhat ambiguous figure. He tells us that news organisations tell staff that their performance is unsatisfactory when they mean that Israelis don't like it but he is himself a senior figure at a news organisation that he describes as strongly pro-Israel. How did he reach that point and how does he react when Israeli complaints about staff working for him arise? The publishers' blurb for his book makes it sound much more like an attack on, if anyone, Iran and Hamas - maybe he has good reason for what he says about these parties, but it hardly looks like a call to face hard truths about Israel.

  • Sorry, American Jews, you don't have a birthright
    • I think of Hobbes as well aware of the paradox of survivalism, that it's a good way of getting yourself killed, but perhaps not aware enough of the glamour of survivalism, the 'glory' (in his sense and ours) of being feared, of shaking off old rules, of being (accordingly) the representative of the future before whom the backward people flee.

    • If the title deed metaphor has any validity then it should be noted that it is the newest, not the oldest, deed that is normally considered valid. Perhaps that is what the Israelis have but it is written in too much blood to be valid in my estimation.

    • As to inheritance from ancient conquerors - the Jewish people of ancient times, if anyone can be identified in those terms, cannot have been the final victors in the ancient quarrels. It must have been their defeat in ancient times, final as far as those times were concerned, which created the exile whose long duration Zionism laments and claims to have ended, but only recently.
      On the moral side, we can think of a prized possession which has attracted a sequence of violent grabs, each at the time with no special justification. These grabs must all have the same moral status. To say that one of them except the last, differently from all the others, is sacred and inviolable, therefore creating permanent rights, is to resort to ideas that can only be religious.
      The last of them may be different in that if it is now well in the past it may have marked the beginning of a period of peace, goodwill, prosperity and justice, or at least some reasonable (given the resources and standards of the time) approximation thereto - and this may be regarded as creating some legitimacy and right to continue. It does so by transcending and contrasting with the upheavals of the previous time, therefore not by being simply the one that came last in the sequence. I do not think that Israel has achieved a situation of peace and goodwill.
      The existentialist/survivalist principle cannot be combined with any form of belief in the right of an existing polity to continue its existence. No rights mean anything if they may be swept aside by any internal or external group whose survival is at stake and who determine that this is what is necessary. Survivalism and appeal to ancient rights are in logical conflict, though they appear mixed up in Zionist propaganda, as do cultural and genetic criteria for continuity.

    • Without religion we have some sort of existentialist claim: people who are Jewish by being the targets of anti-Jewish feeling to the extent that their human rights are never secure have a right to do whatever their survival requires, there being no such thing as a right to stop anyone seeking survival. The claim to the Holy Land then becomes a means to an end, a way of consolidating solidarity. I think that this sort of existentialism is both paradoxical and terrifying.
      There is sometimes some suggestion that the Jewish people of today represent the last men standing among the old time conquerors, but that claim cannot be either true or a foundation
      of moral right.

  • Palestinians continue protests after Israel takes down metal detectors around al-Aqsa, installs new cameras
    • The removal of the metal detectors is quite a significant climb down, I think, indicating that there are limits to how far Israel can go in putting the cooperative Jordanian regime at risk and that there is no readiness for another big war. The logical,step would be to put forward a clear and definite final status proposal, but I don't suppose that that will happen.

  • Avishai's prophetic 'Tragedy of Zionism' was denied by Jewish community 32 years ago
    • Much of this is perplexing: the differences between the forms of Z are treated as very important, yet in practice they amount, on this showing, to less and less. What do you have to believe, per Avishai or per Nikles, to believe if you are to be a Zionist? What is the root idea? What form of Palestinian rights might be compatible with this idea?

  • Three settlers stabbed to death and three Palestinians shot dead in turmoil over security measures at al-Aqsa mosque compound (Updated)
    • I'm M, Mist, (Martin) but not Mc, not being very Scottish. I'm prolly descended from Welsh and English fifth century race warriors. That was a bad time.

    • I've read Kay's remarks back to May and I don't see much warmongering. I think - Kay might use stronger language - that we should at least be wary of Putin.

    • I don't see that it needs any special religious indoctrination to resent every new extension of the process by which you and those of your nationality are regularly humiliated at checkpoints by wrongdoers who assume the role of moral instructors, telling you what to. I must admit that I might get quite annoyed, even driven to wild rage, if I couldn't visit a cathedral without being searched by Muslim police who offer moral lectures.

    • Are you saying, Mist, that belligerent occupation incurs a right of armed resistance in all circumstances, or that this is not a genuine occupation but something so much worse that it may be opposed by all means?

  • The Spirit of '68 Lives On: Zionism as racism, and the network of lies
    • Could we not afford, Yoni, to use the gentler term 'cultural' rather than 'fictional' for the connection of medieval and later Jewry with the Second Temple Judaeans? People arose who decided to join this particular one among the religions that were claiming to be the true interpreter of the ancient scriptures. You can adopt a culture as much and as validly as you can inherit it, surely? I certainly think that Zionist ideology relies upon a confusing and arbitrary mix of genetic and cultural continuity, which neither singly nor together justify their claims.

    • When the NT refers to 'the scriptures' the Hebrew (it is rather better to say Hebrew-Greek) scriptures are meant, and the main reasons why you should accept Our Lord Jesus Christ is are that his resurrection was validly witnessed and that the scriptures validate his claims. This meant that the Hebrew Scriptures were indeed built into the foundations of the West as it became Christian, but now in their role as the Old Testament, the translated ancient text interpreted by the newer one. That newer text subtly incorporated a certain heritage from the less authoritative but much larger and more varied pagan tradition, which became the other foundation of the West. It is still a Christian principle, I agree, that Jews had 'much advantage every way' as the custodians of the oracles of God.

  • Bill making it a federal crime to support BDS sends shockwaves through progressive community
    • Medieval Jews and Christians were highly conscious of religious differences and a dark stain was left on the Christian side as a result. The question of who was the most 'other' is difficult. Heretics and those accused of sorcery were not clutched to orthodox bosoms. But the modern Christian or post-Christian world is marked not only by these ideas of otherness but also by the fact that we have tried to reject them, i.e. put aside medieval versions of identity politics.
      Christians and Jews were not entirely strangers to each other's sex lives in medieval Spain, which was one reason why the Inauisition got so neurotic about purity of. blood. King Ferdinand himself was supposed by some to have some blood whose purity could be questioned.

  • 'Irreplaceable bedrock' of U.S. backing for Israel is threatened by -- intermarriage
    • I'm sure that is right on the economics, og, though I think Antidote is perceptive about Israel's gathering new supporters and thereby compensating for a certain weakening (not to exaggerate that process)?of formerly cast iron suppprt among Jewish people in the United States.

    • Thanks for good wishes!

    • It took me longer - I am 73 today - to appreciate the terrible injustice that is being perpetrated in Palestine.

  • 'We need to cut their heads off,' Bush said of anti-western demonstrators in Syria in '06 -- Tzipi Livni
    • I would be quite surprised, Kaisa, if there was much anti-Jewish mockery anywhere near the mainstream - the Nazi-era mockery has such a bad name. On the other hand, there has certainly been anti-Christian mockery in the age of church scandals.
      I find that the Bont Eastlake contributions, though in my view outside Mondoweiss rules, make me think, though they outrage values I hold dear - though there's an indication there why religious affront cannot reasonably be taken as a capital offence.

    • I've never seen it but I suppose it was an allusion to Piss Christ - that famous photo which I read somewhere is just about to appear again in an exhibition.

    • The important thing is that we assure Muslims that we acknowledge their rights. We - not that 'we' and 'they' are entirely distinct categories - claim our rights but theirs matter just as much.

    • I disagree, jon, with NE's views on hate speech. At the time I didn't think I had anything to add to what RoHa was saying.

    • I too believe in free speech in matters of religion. You can mock Jesus Christ and the Church of England all you like without deserving death, legal proceedings or social or career ostracism. Other religions no different.

  • 'You are thieves of history!' Hotovely tells Palestinians, waving books at them
    • It's some of what occurs in the Bible, but so does restoration after suffering and sacrifice - notably in 2nd Isaiah. Wieselism seems to me to be a theology in this spirit.

    • Did Rashi really use a word equivalent to 'occupiers'?
      The Palestinians have lived in obedience to many kings, though their dominions usually extended beyond Palestine, and they lived a cultural life that was part of the wider cultural life of the ME. The Jews have over the centuries also lived in obedience and loyalty to many kings, ones whose dominions did not usually include Palestine. So what conclusion follows?

  • Israeli paper investigates 50-year-ago attack on 'USS Liberty,' while US papers leave it in the letters column
    • I've not read Hounam's book and don't think I'm going to - It's a bit hard to believe that he is meticulous in all other respects if he gets the name of the flagship wrong, and I still think that the conspiracy would have had to be unrealistically extensive. As far as I can see Keith is quite right.

    • I am a bit sceptical about the Johnson conspiracy, which would surely have involved guilty knowledge among quite a lot of people. But if Johnson was really conspiring with Dayan to murder hundreds of Americans he and any Americans who were in on the plot are on a far lower moral plane than any Israelis were, though the event is still, even on a more exculpating account, a monument to Israeli recklessness and arrogance. The continuing importance lies in the fact that even way outside Johnson's circle of conspirators or dupes, dead and buried with him, a pattern was set that has never changed whereby what Israel says, however hard to believe, is believed and Israeli actions, however hard to condone, are condoned. If you will take that attitude when the victims are your own people how much more will you do so when they are others for whom you do not specially care?

  • At NY premiere, David Grossman will join Netanyahu minister who boycotts Darwish
    • The characteristics 'practising a certain religion'; 'being close in blood to those who practise it' are different but not conflicting, merely disjunctive: the same person could qualify both ways. It seems to me completely intelligible and understandable a) to say that a system ascribing ' supremacy' to members of this disjunctively defined group is 'religion supremacist' b) to believe that this sort of supremacy is wrong either because all supremacy is wrong or else because it is morally impossible to ascribe rights on such an arbitrary basis or on both these grounds.
      A belief in religion supremacy doesn't have to be itself a religious belief - it may be defended on grounds of social utility. If it is clearly based on religious belief, ie the religion implies its own supremacy, there is scope for objection. It is to be expected that membership of the supreme group is closely guarded by its generally recognised members. You may not want to share supremacy more widely than you really have to.
      Terms and phrases come not only through strict definitions but through an umbra of associations and suggestions. I think eljay is being harshly treated when his meaning is completely intelligible as a matter of definition and also, when it comes to associations and suggestions, useful in reminding us that the role of religion in Israeli life is surely rather greater than Israel's liberal admirers might have us think. However, there are misleading associations as well, since everyone knows that professed atheists can do well in Israel. 'Religion supremacist' isn't a rhetorical weapon which causes dismay on the other side, rather dissension on ours.

    • I'd say that Israel does give supremacy or at least crucial and massive privilege to a rather strangely disparate group of people practising the Jewish religion or related by blood to those who do or did - so religion enters into their understanding of what the top group is. Supremacist in that sense. But there is no need for members of that group to be religious, indeed for a time it was at least highly fashionable to make a display of atheism. So supremacy without religion in that sense. One of the keys to the success of Z has been the remarkable and unique ability to survive at almost every point of the religious and political spectrum.

    • Isaiah 6:13 in the standard reading refers to the holy seed more as what the Israelites are than as what they possess. The ugly stump that has survived the forest fire is the seed from which, presumably, a mightier and more beautiful tree will grow. Thus we see, friends, that it was in ancient Israel that the theory of natural selection, along with the 21st century principle that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, was first discovered.

  • London's Palestine Expo defies smear campaign attracting more than 15,000
    • See Brian Klug 'The Other Arthur Balfour', an extract from one of his books posted on the Balfour Project website on July 8, 2013. Klug notes B's frequently expressed admiration for Jewish people and his efforts to protect British Jews against petty discrimination alongside his support for the first round of UK immigration laws, which did arise from an anti-Jewish scare and which set the tone for other immigration scares right up to today. Like Klug I think that we can't really call him an anti-Semite. He was certainly a Christian Zionist by religious conviction,
      The celebrations of the Declaration later this year will certainly be rather horrible.

  • Israel charges UNESCO with 'Fake history'
    • Orla Noy's remarks about the non-anti-Semitism of Unesco are good. Judaism is the first religion of pilgrimage that Unesco mentions.

  • Nadia Hijab on Palestinian options, Jewish allies, and the Zionist crisis
    • 'In war the weaker have always recourse to negotiations' remarked David Hume - he and you, jon, make a very sensible point about self-interest , but isn't there a corresponding point morally, that one should not maintain a situation which ought to be ended so that one gains more and more by superior power? Olmert's proposal, though it did not quite get off the ground and became known only a bit later - Abbas apparently says that 'Olmert was assassinated politically just as Rabin had beeen assassinated materially' - is the sort of thing, a defined idea (nearly defined idea, perhaps), that we should see more of.

    • I too don't think negotiations are impossible, indeed I think that there is a responsibility on the more powerful party to start them and to start them again if they stop. Ms. Hijab is talking of medium-term goals, I think, in particular of rallying American Jewish opinion to the cause of a just settlement. It's not realistic to think that the long-term hope, the glorious dawn of liberty and suchlike, can be brought to reality soon. But the reason why I think that we should keep this conversation and flow of news going and going some more is that there is a short-term goal which may be realistic, that of pressing and pushing the Israeli government to make a clear proposal for the end of occupation and the final settlement.
      It doesn't even have to be an acceptable proposal: just having something for all to see would be highly clarifying and would involve public opinion, even political opinion, in a way that has a chance of being constructive.

    • The expulsion of the German population from the territories which returned to Polish sovereignty, having been taken away by the eighteenth century Partitions, was an atrocity, surely, even if the loss of life was less than other atrocities caused. However, the Germans have chosen to accept the situation and formalise it through treaties, including the EU treaties, though the EU right for Germans to move anew to Poland does not amount to restitution of anything that was lost. Stalin was the moving spirit but the other Allies were responsible too. The Danes, I think, wanted to repossess territory which they had lost much more recently, just about within living memory, but were told by the British to forget it: so we weren't following a consistent policy of negating Prussian militarism.

    • I think that representatives of the population of an occupied territory can negotiate with the occupiers - this procedure was followed by minor Axis Powers postwar., leading to the Treaties of Paris of ?1950. The clumsily named Treaty on Final Settkement with respect to Germany, never called a peace treaty, was not negotiated unti 1990.

  • Church leaders must be willing to pay a price for Palestinian solidarity
    • It is perfectly possible for the same person to be operating a military government not representing the people of an area and to be pursuing in the same territory or perhaps a subset of it - or perhaps a wider area - a policy of separate racial development under one sovereign power. Namibia in the old days is probably is a good example. One may and should reasonably wish, though cannot always expect in the short term, for both these features to be absent from all societies and may reasonably complain of both when both are present.

    • You do well to draw these remarks to our attention, jon. I came across a website called Jewish-Christian Relations and a long article on the Covenant of Sinai by Hans Hendrix, seemingly well informed and remarking that something of an ecumenical consensus in favour of the idea that the Covenant was still valid, i.e. really that Christian Zionism is an unavoidable commitment for followers of the New Testament, had emerged even before Pope John Paul's, and now Francis's, dramatic pronouncements. This is not just excessive enthusiasm by F.
      Hendrix may overstate somewhat but I don't think he's so far wrong that the task of constructing a New Testament based anti-Z, at any rate one that will command much support, might be imagined easy.

  • Israel slams UNESCO World Heritage decision on Hebron as Palestinians celebrate 12-3 vote in favor
    • I agree with Nathan - and with Hobbes - to the extent of saying that established and functional polities should not lightly be called illegitimate, thus inviting great dangers and uncertain outcomes. Even basic rights can be disregarded for a time if there is serious hope that time will make things better, if the custom and consent of the society seems to make insistence on those rights premature and if acting according to those customs brings something like benefit all round. But if there is no all round benefit, but considerable misery for many, and no general consent among those involved and if rights are being disregarded relentlessly or on what our colleague Yonah calls a cruel vector then I think that these are circumstances in which, as I think Locke shows, illegitimacy sets in.
      International recognition is important. We shouldn't be too ready to put ourselves outside the consensus of the human race but the formalities of recognition do not always amount to human consensus and if a blind eye is being turned to something seriously wrong then the word of what is really only a committee - made up of powerful and well-informed people, maybe, but only of people, not gods - can't be the last word.

    • I fear that they may have completely forgotten what being highly tickled is like.

    • I'd think they'd say, by way of formal reply, that attributions of style are inessential: they were following their normal rules, in that the place is not in internationally recognised Israeli territory, in that it is in frequent use by Palestinian Muslims - as Canterbury Cathedral is in daily use by Anglicans - in that Palestine is at very least a Unesco constituent of a sort. If this isn't Palestine for Unesco purposes what is? Enough was said to justify the judgement that it's a World Heritage site - moreover drawing attention to the religion of the founders is not a normal Unesco practice.
      On the other hand the situation here is very strange, the buildings being undocumented, in which circumstance the Herodian style is an undeniably important, though not conclusively revealing, clue. So the 'formal reply' would not be quite enough, I must admit.
      So I think that the Unesco majority must have wanted to make some sort of a stand, by simply calling the place Palestinian, against the constant stream of insulting Israeli insistence that the Palestinians, living and breathing people who bleed when pricked, write poetry and study scientific matters, are somehow deficient in political rights by not having a culture 'of their own' - that dark stream being insufferable to many even when its insults don't splash on us personally.

    • Someone mentioned the Alhambra - I looked at the Unesco document about it and had previously looked at Unesco on Canterbury Cathedrsl. You're right that they try not to mention religious controversies. They do of course have to mention that Canterbury Cathedral is a working Anglican place of worship. On the Alhambra they mention things that are obviously Islamic, such as the Nasrid and Hispano-Muslim style of architecture. I think in a way that Herodian style should have been mentioned in the same manner. But there's nothing you could say that would satisfy the Zionists, who will not accept that the building is very strange one, explained by nearly nothing in the ancient record. Meanwhile, it is Palestinian in the same way that the Alhambra is in normal usage Spanish and Canterbury Cathedral Anglican, except for the recent violent appropriation of part of it.

    • I'be just had a look at the Unesco citation for Canterbury Cathedral, which does not mention the word Catholic, though the edifice was undoubtedly constructed by Catholics, and does mention my spiritual gang, the Church of England, the custodians of (as is also said) five (merely five!) centuries' standing. It does mention massively un-Protestant things like Benedictine monasticism.
      As John O notes, there is obviously a problem in these contexts about mentioning things that can't quite be proved: where do you stop if you go beyond the hardest facts? I still think that some way of acknowledging the Jewish Claim should have been found.
      However, there has never been any Catholic protest about Unesco's Canterbury tale as far as I am aware.

    • I accept that the building is very likely pre-70. It may well be one of Herod's monuments, though it's odd that Josephus doesn't mention it. It may well be an image of the Temple but then descriptions of the Temple were available for some time after 70. It's strange that it lacked both a roof and an obvious entrance and perhaps hard to believe that it was a secondary cult centre, since second or secondary cult centres don't seem to have been permitted in Second Temple Judaism.
      But perhaps these strange features are not really central to the topic. Unesco is wrong to have - and discredits itself unnecessarily by having - failed to mention the fact that it is quite likely, to say the least, one of Herod's works - though things are not quite as clear cut the other way as people are saying.

    • I think that the Mosque is mainly a pre-Islamic structure of mysterious origin and purpose, since it may not have had an entrance, but is built in the style associated with Herod the Great, King of the Jews, whose religion was centred on the Jerusalem Temple, which the Christians came to think unnecessary - here I may differ from Yoni. The idea that the site is the second holiest in Judaism is hard to sustain in that there is little ancient reference to it and in that the religion of the Second Temple period did not really admit the idea of a second holy site. Unesco may not be providing a balanced and objective history but neither is the Israeli government.

  • Anti-Semitism accusations against 'Dyke March' prove pro-Israel lobby will torch LGBT rights for marginalized people
    • Well, echino, I only say that that is more or less the common definition. But no one owns words and all I think we can ask of one another is that we make ourselves reasonably clear. There is in any event no definition of 'Jewish' which will effectively support a rational argument for the sort of rights that Zionism claims for Jews, as I think you and I agree.
      I don't quite follow what you say about the differences between religions. I practise Anglicanism, other people other religions, including Judaism. There are differences.

    • I think that most people think that 'Jewish' means (of persons) something like 'practising the Jewish religion or being sufficiently close in blood to someone who practised it'. There is obviously room for considerable dispute in applying a definition in these terms but that difficulty is likely to persist if other defs are used.

  • Amazon pulls blank 'History of Palestinian People' -- which aims to dehumanize in order to subjugate
    • It's not obvious though, to me at least, what passages in the Republic are relevant. The Cambridge History of World Slavery vol 1 p.85 mentions the 'animalisation' of the Helots - they sometimes had to dress up in animal skins - which is definitely what we might call dehumanisation and surely contempt. The attitude attributed to the Helots to the Spartans - 'they desire to eat them raw' - is what we might call hatred. I agree with Tuy that 'hate' gets overused and that anti-hate rhetoric is often itself a clumsy and brutal thing.

    • The Bible contains some historical information, you just have to be careful with it. In some ways, such as never pretending that the Israelites were indigenous in Palestine or that the Israelites of ancient times were faithful to the Mosaic religion, it is very illuminating. The Zionist Bible seems to consist of the Book of Joshua in letters of fire four inches high.

    • Brown University, bless it, maintains a database of Holy Land inscriptions from about 500 - 500 BCE - CE. A few things stand out, one being the non-prevalence of Hebrew, what Isaiah had called 'the language of Canaan' (itself an interesting term), and the extensiveness of Aramaic, the business language of the Persian Empire, and then of Greek. I looked up the inscriptions mentioning equivalents of 'house', which seems, at least on first sight, to make these points quite well.. In the earlier stages Jewish religious terms are not universal - I noticed some references to God under his Edomite name Qos. In the later stages there is a lot of Christian piety. The non-Jews of Palestine did exist: mind you, the question of how you told the difference between Jew and non-Jew in say 450 BCE, when Herodotus was writing of the Syrians of Palestine, is not an easy question. However, there is no denying that the Hasmonean and
      Herodian policy of religious uniformity except perhaps in certain pockets on the fringes of their expanding dominions, like the Decapolis where Greek pagan literature appeared, surely took increasing hold. The effects of that policy, accepted seemingly by the Jewish masses as a sacred mission, are indeed being felt to this day. But there is no moral reason outside Biblical exposition - and many of us would expound the Bible differently - why the policy of this brief period should be so determinative of what happens now as it has become.
      People refer to Flavius Josephus, often making one of his Latin names end in 'ous', which suggests non-careful reading. He is of value for the period near his own time but the history of the period that was ancient to him is mainly dependent on the Bible.

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