Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 3701 (since 2009-11-18 22:41:33)

MHughes976

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.

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  • Traveling on Israeli government's dime, novelist trashes Netanyahu and ministers as 'sorceress and stupid apprentices'
    • Letting fly with guns and bombs that harm good and bad people alike is a strange way of helping the good guys. There is an urgent duty, even on Rabinyan's own showing, at very least -extreme least - to use helpful words as well as all those harmful weapons and to make some proposal for an end to the horrors. All these liberal Zionists should be straining every nerve to end the period of fake negotiations and get a discussable proposal on the table. Mind you, I can't reconcile the supposed basic idea, that the other is equal to you, surely meaning others have the very same rights, with any form of Zionism, which is a claim to rights exclusive to those people who are Jewish.

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  • New York rabbi links Jewish Voice for Peace to Osama bin Laden and Assad
    • That's exactly the deduction to be made from the philosophical position that he takes, eljay. Why can't he and his audience see that? He must be a person of intelligence and education.

    • Most British people have the idea that 'we stood alone' and saved many things in 1940 by means of cohesion, courage, cheerfulness, scientific ingenuity and all that. Mythistory but still history after a fashion. One of the reasons we were never quite comfortable in the EU.
      I don't think you can blame human beings for seeking power and/or for forming sovereign states. What's wrong is ideological or religious relish in the use of power, forgetting that others have the same insecurities as you and the same right to protect themselves or letting a rational sense of risk become paranoia. Hobbes explains this, I think.
      On some interpretations Psalm 20, with its advice not to trust completely in chariots and horses rather than in God, reminds us that even a great king should not boast and threaten on the basis of his military power. I think that R. Hirsch should read it more often, using
      his doubtless impeccable Hebrew.
      It's somewhat alarming that an American congregation is being called upon not to put its trust in the laws, moral fortitude and armed force of the United States to protect its citizens but in power defined in terms of race and religion.
      Over top rhetoric, as Yonah rightly says. That applies to his remarks about the Palestinian leadership. But that doesn't mean that there is no truth at all in what his Palestinian informant seems to have told him. Mind you, it's outrageous that the celebration of Israeli power should so with such refusal of responsibility, one of the things that comes with power unless power is swamped by paranoia. He should call on the Israeli government night and day to state its terms for that vanishing Solution.

  • Trump and the ever expanding Israeli occupation of Palestine
    • There is obvious reason for a proudly proclaimed Jewish state to change the situation whereby its most important monument has a conspicuously non-Jewish feature. However, I think that there are many reasons why Israel is nowhere near ready to make this change, quite apart from the fearsome backlash. They just aren't ready for white-robed priests sacrificing sheep. The election of a High Priest, absolutely necessary if there is to be a Temple operating in the pre-70 fashion, would be disruptive of religious patterns. And where there is a High Priest a King is not far behind if you refer to Biblical authority, though identifying a Son of David would be hard - not beyond religious ingenuity but a strain on belief.

  • Why I'm keeping my child home from school in Israel on Holocaust Day
    • Thanks for that, Marnie. I followed up your words about the Slavery Museum, finding that it is in Louisiana plantation country and the work of a retired lawyer who is 78 or 79 and has spent $8m., vs the $168m. spent on the Holocaust Museum. There was a long report in the NYT for February 2015. It's obviously a really precarious venture with no support from public funds.

    • Yes indeed, Yoni, there were disastrously many British expeditions into Nazi Europe that went very wrong. There's a book called Target Italy which is, for a British reader, quite embarrassing.

    • There's no point in trying to make myself an instant Kastner expert but I did try to follow up a few of the points being made. It all seems very murky and was clearly caught up in bitter controversies in the early days of Israel. I note that Kastner still has his admirers. The Canadian novelist Anna Porter has published a book in his praise. He claimed that his train was a Noah's Ark with a 1,600 strong cross section of Jewish life in it - though implicitly casting himself as Noah seems a bit startling. He claimed that he was collaborating with an anti-Hitler faction in the SS and intervened successfully on behalf of one of them when he, the SS man, was arrested after the War. Hannah Senesh was a character in the same Hungarian drama but it seems (Wikipedia, I'm. afraid) that her mother was anti-Kastner, giving evidence against him at the Israeli libel trial.

    • I was actually thinking of the Christian martyrologies and of all that we find embedded in Tertullian's disturbing, barely grammatical phrase, often rewritten as 'the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church'. The martyrologies pointed to beautiful ideals of steadfastness and hope but also led to a blurring of truth and fiction. They did no good to Jewish-Christian relations. The powerful theological belief in martyrdom as a proof of God's favour, which is prominent in Abrahamic religion, appears in Tertullian's belief in shed blood as charged with creative, rather political power. I wonder about this. The matter you raise, of a version of martyrdom which is also provision for one's family, also causes concern.

    • In the sense of Tertullian's Apologeticus 'semen est sanguis Christianorum', I suppose. Stories of martyrs and victims can be misused, of course.

  • Speaking of Palestine and academic freedom
    • I believe that there is agony and litigation at UCB at this moment about free speech for the colourful Ann Coulter. I hope she can have her and that people likeminded with us can have theirs too.

  • 'SNL' cracks about man 'so blinded by devotion to Israel he ignores all reason'
    • Not sure it's that big, Rooster. It presupposes that Judaism and Zionism are separable but accepts that they are very often conjoined. The link can look comical but meets with a sort of resigned acceptance from the worldly father of the gauche boy and implicitly from the comic script. It's certainly not treated as a weakening force nor as a shameful one. Quite a realistic portrait of things as they are, things that sustain the mighty political commitment to Israel.

  • 'Why do I not cry out for the right of return?' -- an exchange between Uri Avnery and Salman Abu Sitta
    • I don't contest that, echino

    • That is an interesting critique, Vacy - I sometimes think (though others here have questioned it) that the reluctance to say 'Palestinian' goes all the way back to the Septuagint translators' making 'Philistines' into 'foreigners'. Somehow the adjectivd 'Palestinian' never quite gained the currency of the noun 'Palestine'. However, it might be that Avnery is using 'Arab' so as not to induce an immediate defensive response from those he seeks to persuade. Your 'clue number 1', where he mentions the non-agricultural use of (actually) Palestinian land by settlers, seems to me to expose, as well as any one sentence written by any one person ever has, the ungenuine, creepy nature of the Zionist attachment to 'the Land'.

    • Thanks for useful information, Jeff.

    • It may be that there were bad things on both sides but for the purposes of this argument that fact - or that question - does not matter that much. The point is that the true crucial action was the exclusion of so many Palestinians at the end of the conflict. It"s useful to have Avnery's plain statement of this.

    • The anger and horror are deeper than in SA, I think, because to a significant extent religion comes into it. All Zionism is connected to the idea of a donation of the land of Canaan by God, which since it has this unique authority sets everything else in second place.

    • It is valuable to have the point made so clearly by Avnery that the real question is why the 750,000 were excluded. It is true that many of the victims of Auschwitz etc. were still unsettled three years postwar, but it is not true
      a) that it was a dire postwar emergency and that their lives were hanging by a thread - if they were still there after three years emergency provision had already been made
      b) that there was nowhere else for them to go - many were making new lives, some in the United States, some even in their old homes
      c) that the policy of exclusion of traditional residents, with its infliction of misery, could be justified by the needs of new arrivals. There could be no security for any of us in the human race if neighbours were allowed to exclude us from our homes in order to make way for their friends or relatives.
      Avnery's main argument about himself, as he chooses not to respond to increasingly angry challenges, seems to be that there is no duty to attempt the impossible - and it is impossible to get an Israeli hearing for the RoR. I actually have some sympathy for this argument, since 'ought presupposes can' is plausible. However, the argument is presented as if another, more constructive possibility is indeed open, which turns out to be the 2ss in very liberal form: but is this really a possibility? If Avnery has been campaigning for it since 1953 and got nowhere his own experience maybe suggests that it is not. And it seems horrible that he sets out to make peace with the angered Palestinians, treating them as morally significant people, but finds that when pressed by one of them to support his claims he responds, perhaps must respond, with a deaf ear and stony silence, committing them, in effect, to as much moral insignificance as they have in the Netanyahu worldview.

  • The bulldozers of Shavuot, 1967
    • Thanks for kind word, Yonah. Really appreciated and reciprocated. But were we not discussing the world of 67, of the triumph of the new Hebrew action man ( to quote you approximately), rather than the world of 44 and Anne Frank's suffering?

    • There is a famous statement in philosophy called 'Reply on behalf of the Fool' - this is Reply on behalf of the Rat or Cry from the Sewer.
      It seems to be admitted that something wrong is going on, that the Palestinians have, to put it mildly, not received their due. You may say that this is between Israelis and Palestinians only - but Westerners too have continually failed thr Palestinians and many of us think that our own societies have gone wrong and in their own way need to make amends. The whole constitution and whole idea of groups like the Mondoweiss commenters is that we object to something that is, now seemingly by agreement, morally wrong. We find ourselves opposed by those whose whole idea is that the moral wrong does not need to be undone and who object to our objections. It is possible that we may get angry and speak unwisely but is it likely, is it even conceivable, that the basic purpose of resisting a moral mistake in the societies where we belong puts on a moral level actually below those who are making the mistake - makes us, in comparison with them, essentially vermin?

  • Israel celebrates 50 years as occupier
    • I don't think that 'occupier' is a status that Israelis - or any others - really celebrate - it has too much of an air of temporariness and provisionality. Those who really consider that an occupation is going on are 2-staters who have at least a vague wish for Israeli forces to withdraw. Those in charge consider themselves liberators. They should really be considered conquerors, at least in vigorously continuing attempt, though the attempt has not yet succeeded. Must admit that they have given an air of permanence and legitimacy to what 99% of informed opinion believed, when it all started, would be a mere blip. Think of the international pressure, think of the risk of further wars, think of all that moderate opinion that would surely prevail. A massive achievement politically, though not morally.

  • Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti's op-ed calling Israel 'moral and political failure' is buried in int'l edition of 'NYT'
    • I agree that Internet publication is real publication. I also noticed, when looking around for information about 'who cares' about MB, another Times - LA - with an article by Joshua Mitnick a day or so ago headed 'Behind bars a famed Palestinian leads his people on hunger strike'. This wording seems apt to me - and I don't think Mitnick meant 'famed on Mondoweiss'. The fact of the NYT publication is itself evidence in favour of that choice of words, with the absence from the American print edition an indication not that Americans couldn't care less about him but that they don't like him - have been much encouraged to think badly of him. Mitnick mentions that there are Israelis who don't in fact think of him that badly, though he does not conceal that this is a minority view in Israel. I don't pretend that MB is a household name in the West, since the whole Palestinian issue is occluded. But MW attention to MB is not just echo-chambering: he is objectively 'famed' enough for our interest to be rational.

  • Beyond apartheid: Fragments from the West Bank
    • We sometimes comfort ourselves with the idea that accusations of anti-Semitism are losing their power from being used in such scattergun fashion, but the fate of ex-MP Ward shows how false this comfort is. That old scattergun is still scattering us far and wide - no defence oe effective counter-rhetoric has really been invented. The same day we hear that Malia Bouattia has rather massively failed in her attempt to be re-elected as Prrsudent of the National Union of Students, clearly because of her views in the same area. Also that Irina Bokova, the head of Unesco, has made a speech which treats the views on the Temple Mount in her Executive Committee - or whatever it's called - concerning the Temple Mount, which caused such consternation a couple of months ago, as if they were little more than a silly student prank, best forgotten.
      This is not to praise Ward or Bouattia or say that the phrase 'Temple Mount' should be indeed be discontinued, just to note how powerful in the UK and internationally the accusation of anti-Semitism still is, how careers end and resolutions get brushed aside in face of it.

    • I think that's quite true, Kaisa. I had a very unsettlimg experience with a German who was very negative about all firms of nationalism except Zionist because as a German she couldn't saythijg negative about Jews. However, your mastery of the English language is very impressive!

    • Well, I would think, inbound, that Germany is as much fully on the pro-Israel wagon as the UK is.

  • Academic boycott campaign is growing fast at Trinity College Dublin
    • Looking around for more information on this I came across a report in the Irish Independent Feb, 10 about Israeli diplomatic pressure on Ireland not to recognise a Palestinian state, as it has sometimes seemed likely to do. I can imagine that Mr. Keane came under some pressure from government circles - I guess a full-scale BDS campaign in such a prominent institution would have caused embarrassment - and thought better of his unequivocal 'piece of paper' statement. His electronic statement was clearly substituting 'looking at it' for 'doing it', so the BDS people may have felt betrayed but should not have felt too surprised. Getting into a position of some power and influence for the first time can disorient a person. The likes of us have carried most conviction in universities but we have to remember that the university world is a rather mutable thing. And the armour plating of Zionism among established political figures has barely cracked even in Ireland where for a moment something seemed to stir.

  • 'With furious cruelty'--Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour still facing prosecution in Israel
  • The false piety over Spicer's Holocaust mistake
    • Gas had been used extensively, of course, on the battlefields of WW1, with Hitler the best known victim. The British and German generals of WW2 had been junior officers 25 years before, some in the front line, and didn't seem to like the idea of gas, perhaps because of mutual deterrence, perhaps because they didn't think it won wars, perhaps because they had come to think it atrocious. David Jablonsky in 'Churchill, the Great Game and Total War' p.178 says that Churchill consulted his assistant General Ismay on June 30, 1940 about gas to defend 'the beaches' but nothing much came of it. He later talked about gas as retaliation for the terrifying V1/V2 rocket attacks, but again this way was not taken.

  • Passover has become little more than an act of communal hypocrisy
    • I do think that the 'national humanist' idea is inherently paradoxical in this and all contexts. In the interpretation of Passover the Jewish atheist (and Christian atheist) position, which we have been discussing recently, is highly unconvincing because the heart of the message is not human liberty but divine supremacy. The command to carve out 'an inheritance for the children of Israel' in (what is still called, with moral significance) the Land of Canaan is not a contradictory extension of a libertarian message but the logical extension of the idea of the sovereignty of God, whose absolute nature is shown in the ability to set all normal morality aside, though we are made aware that the star rising in Israel will in the end bring blessing to all. All justifications of Zionism even if they wear atheist trappings have, as it seems to me,this idea of unique divine donation no more than a millimetre beneath their surface and sometimes much more prominently.
      The Ptolemaic historian Hecataeus thought the the wise and courageous Moses had found a solution to the unpopularity of racial minorities in an imperial heartland particularly in time of plague, which was that they should consider themselves one nation under God,, move to an unpopulated place and practice the military virtues. That (just) might be regarded as a less aggressive interpretation of the Passover tradition. The more modern view, as you remark, Anti, is that didn't happen.

    • Well, Kaisa, the service I plan to attend in two days' time will begin with the words 'Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast' from I Corinthians 5:7. It's always exhilarated me, though it's quite mysterious:. what feast exactly are we to keep? Over a time it was interpreted to mean the feast which we call Easter. The New Testament has much Passover imagery and allusion surtounding the Lord's crucifixion, of which that verse is an example. Both Passover and Easter are services of redemption, of Israel from Egypt and of humanity from the demonic powers of sin and death. You are quite right that Christians became very anxious not to make their ceremony seem in any way dependent on those of the Jews. The Fourteeners, who wanted to fix the date of the festival by reference to the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan, lost out and the complex system we use to this day came in. Best wishes to the Finnish Church this Easter! I hope that a bit of Gods grace gets through to you and me and to those keeping the feast in Egypt and Palestine.

    • I think that Passover and Easter, the Christian version, are about the absolute supremacy of God, whether his adversary is political power or forces that are regarded as demonic. It's not about ending slavery, whose continuation the scriptures do not question fundamentally.

    • The question of orthodoxy versus orthopraxy can indeed get complex but even if there is no belief in the rightness of this or that behaviour which marks belonging to the group there must be some belief in the merits - or perhaps in the grim inevitability - of belonging either somewhere or else belonging in the particular place. This belief seems to call for a lot of discussion, not to bring discussion to an end.

    • But it is still true, is it not, that the 1948 Zionists were a strange group of Bible-thumping atheists, led by BG. Zionism had and had long had a wonderful talent for drawing support from across the religious spectrum, from fundamentalists like Cyrus Scofield to ultra-progressives, near atheists, like George Eliot. Likewise across the political spectrum. A remarkable achievement.

    • Brook quotes Sanhedrin 97b, where it is said that all the popular dates set for the arrival of the Messiah had gone by and that it is now all a matter of repentance and duties. This doesn't seem to be very atheist in tone - it's quite like the Christian discussion in 2 Peter 3, which has never been regarded as atheist inclined. Still, it is revealed that there is a network of Jewish Humanist synagogues these days, perhaps only in the United States.

    • There's an interesting article in Tikkun Daily for May 8, 2013 'My Jewish Atheism' by Dan Brook, followed by interesting, though slightly baffling, comments. It is headed by a quote, somewhat oblique to the subject, from the Talmud and by a reminder of Golda Meir's mot, when asked whether she believed in God, 'I believe in the Jewish people'. I see, from Mooser's anthology, that I outdo Jeff in biblical credulity because I do think that there must have been a temple, or at any rate an operative cult centre, in Jerusalem pre-Nebuchadnezzar.

  • 'This miracle, this gift, this jewel' -- Obama's ambassador to Israel declares he's a Zionist
    • There have been some very good/well reviewed books on the 'second exile' recently, most notably Wiliam Horbury's 'Jewish War in the time of Trajan and Hadrian'. I think that it should now be clear that Jews were subject to a military exclusion zone round Jerusalem for some time, that the wider area, traditional Judaea, became sparsely populated, perhaps with a non-Jewish majority but still with a Jewish presence, and that Galilee became the major Jewish centre, probably quite homogeneous and prosperous, able to afford impressive synagogue buildings, Jews remaining an important presence in the wider Roman and Persian worlds, with islands of anti-Semitism.
      At least there was one island, Cyprus, which declared that Jewish immigration was forbidden because of atrocities during that period of war. Even shipwrecked Jews were threatened with the death penalty. This remarkable detail is recorded, Horbury notes, by Dio Cassius around 100 years after the end of Hadrian's war, but perhaps the Cypriot bark was worse than the bite because there are Jewish inscriptions from Cyprus in Dio's time.

    • We see the many logical problems with 'right to exist'. 'Exist' is not a descriptive term: you have to add descriptive terms like 'in its current state' or 'within its 67 borders' or 'as provider of justice to Jewish and Palestinian people alike'. Our view of the RtE would probably be different for the different descriptions. The third one I mentioned would not imply that the real Israel had any right to exist, since it does not provide enough justice. The first one would confer that right even if the s quo is totally maintained.
      I think most people who have thought about the problem would say that Israel has a right to exist as power compliant with relevant UN resolutions: that (talknic's) is the majority view, I believe, though some of us might think that it attributes too much moral authority to what is only a committee. It might be agreed that Israel's compliance with those resolutions, not only about 67, was quite problematic. But then you run up against the problems of conditional rights. How long is the piece of string that measures the time that Israel has to comply? If compliance is not total do all Israel's rights lapse? Are you allowed to claim rights on the basis of some international resolutions whilst refusing to obey others having the same authority? But are conditional rights really rights?
      The idea of RtE gives rise to much dispute and little clear truth.

  • Passover in the era of permanent Jewish occupation
    • I see, Eva, that you and I are venturing into the lions' den of the Economist comments section. Perhaps we could find a way of backing each other up!

  • The liberal double standard on boycotting North Carolina and boycotting Israel
  • You know your country's in trouble when you're afraid to put on a bumper sticker
    • Well, a) taking the third element in jon's definition b) taking race to mean a status significantly determined by ancestry c) taking ancestry to mean something a bit more historic and long- term than parentage and close family, let's see.
      Jon might say that Israel's treatment of non-Jewish people subject to its exercise of sovereign power is not a matter of prejudice but of reason, ie the rational purpose of maintaining the Jewish character of the state. That is quite like what I would say about some forms of hereditary privilege, mentioned by RoHa , that there may be reason to maintain them for the common good, rather than prejudice in favour of those involved. But it is impossible to say that the Israeli system is for the common good, including that of the non-Jews concerned.
      Even if we are not talking about prejudice we are surely talking about serious discrimination, including for many disfranchised status in face of the sovereign power exercised over their lives. And we are talking about whether or not people are Jewish, which in turn is commonly defined, to a significant degree, by reference to ancestry. So I think it's quite hard to escape the application of the term 'racism' when it comes to the Israeli system and those who defend it, even if they do not accept any wide-ranging racial theory - and that's using the Jon/Webster definition, which does not require all three of its three clauses to apply, only one.

    • Racism = prejudice on grounds of ancestry?

  • Why so many are twisting Ken Livingstone’s words about Hitler and Zionism
    • There ssems to be some ambivalence here between a) saying that KL's remarks were twisted from 'Hitler took action clearly helpful to Zionism' to 'he did this with some sense of sympathy with or admiration for Z' and b) saying that latter proposition might well have some truth in it to which KL was drawing attention, as evidenced for instance by Eichmann's 'I would have been a Z'. If b) is true there not really been a twist.
      The question of admiration the other way round is another matter again, but not clearly touched on by KL.
      I don't see that there is that much hay to be made merely from Nazi admiration for Z if it struck them that here was another robust nationalism appealing, just as the Ns themselves did, to the idea of self-determination. We can't help or choose who admires us and we can't avoid the fact that nothing is shown to be false because some bad people believe it (which would be hard luck for Christianity) or because some of the ideas that support it are false.
      Z self justification is always based on the idea that robust nationalism is a fine thing everywhere provided it is not anti-Semitic and believes that the governance of the nation-based state should be democratic, two provisos that the Nazis did not begin to meet or begin to understand, meaning that any N admiration for Z is based only on illusion and brings no opprobrium at all on (of all people) the thriving Jewish people of lovely London. So I can't see why either KL or his super-excited detractors have become so engaged in this quarrel.

  • Israeli Jews maintain the occupation because it is in their interest -- Noam Sheizaf
    • We awake to the new world where Trump has bombed Syria. Is this the opening shot of WW3 or a demonstration of the totality of American miltary power? For Israel it is surely a sign that everything is going more and more their way., that their bets have been very rational. I think that they have been wrong morally but in terms of rational self interest they have an excellent case.

  • Dershowitz gets drunk on water
    • The 'single life' vs. 'single life of Israel' is a matter of textual variants in Talmud Sanhedrin 37a. I am not competent to edit the Talmud, though to my mind for what it's worth the 'single life' version reads more naturally - not that this 'proof text' is conclusive evidence for the temper of Judaism. I suppose Dershowitz is within his rights to prefer the version that suits his personal theology/morality.

  • Read the full translated text of the leaked Hamas charter
    • No one is an outsider anywhere, in any morally valid sense, by being Jewish. No one has, by being Jewish or anything else, the right to deprive others of the normal right to be, on normal terms, an enfranchised member of a sovereign state.

  • Israel steps up dirty tricks against boycott leaders
    • It's a very strange business, this Livingstone row. I don't really know why Livingstone brought the Haavara agreement so prominently into the discussion. Even if it were to be proved to the hilt that Hitler went through a strongly Zionist phase that would not discredit Zionism or even reduce whatever plausibility it may have. If Hitler for a time or always believed strongly in evolution that would not show that Richard Dawkins should be ashamed of himself or even needs to sit down and have a re-think. A bad person can believe a true thing. A truth can't imply a falsehood but a falsehood can imply a truth. So what was Livingstone talking about?
      Livingstone's opponents are making a huge thing of his 'wilful misinterpretation'. They can't deny that Hitler did not rule out all forms of cooperation with Zionists: neither, evidently, did all Zionists rule out all forms of cooperation with him. There is a difference between that and Livingstone's claim that Hitler took this position because of some active, temporary sympathy with Zionist ideas. But how does that further step of 'interpretation' make such a difference to one's view of anything? Does historical clarity depend on being absolutely certain that Hitler never seriously changed his mind?
      Perhaps the concern is over something not explicitly said, i.e. that those Zionists prepared to cooperate in this degree with Hitler had some active sympathy with National Socialist ideas. Again, it seems strange to insist without further thought that this has to be inconceivable. Even were it true of some Zionists it would not discredit Zionism. Even if you are sure that Stalin and his henchmen were monsters that would not show that Marxist views of society were false.
      The truth about the states of mind of historical characters is not to be determined by how keen to hear - or how offended by hearing - certain
      ideas people in the present are.
      The whole thing is a bit crazy.

  • New book by Larry Derfner, the American-turned-Israeli journalist, crushes liberal Zionism
    • The basic claim of Zionism, I think, is that people who are Jewish, and they only, have what is now called a 'birthright' in the Holy Land. Only this makes sense, if that's the word, of the extraordinary claim that a group defined by its relationship to an ancestral religion - by practising it or by being closely descended from those who did - have the right to permanent majority status, with any second state clearly very secondary, not possibly more than a protectorate. The word 'conquest' is all too correct but it's a bit frustrating to see someone being so warmly congratulated (as it seems) for using, so misleadingly,
      only of the 67 territories. Mr. Derfner evidently makes, like the other eloquent liberal Zionists, many good points but he stands to be much feted for his eloquence and, I think, runs little personal risk.

  • A show of weakness: The 'Israeli Peace Movement' marches in Jerusalem
    • Thanks for Laor article, very eloquent and perceptive. The Israel Prize, which he mentions, is being awarded this year to David Beeri, the organiser of the archaeolgical theme park that is busy humiliating the local Palestinians and destroying the evidence that scientific archaeology might use. Raphael Greenberg's 'Bible and Interpretation' remarks on this are well worth reading.
      Meanwhile, I wish I could share the optimism about the collapse of Occupation.

  • JDL member arrested for attacking Palestinian-American teacher ran anti-Muslim website
    • The Washington Post story seemed to confirm that Mr. Nayfeh had used only words and that the others involved had used weapons, I think called 'flagpoles', which seems to indicate a non-violent, though no doubt annoying, protest with a violent response. If he knew that this sort of response was likely then he was provoking something but was within his rights in exposing just how ruthless these people are - and showing a courageous spirit, I would say. An agent provocateur is normally a false flagger, pretending sympathy with criminals in order to egg them on. Nayfeh wasn't that.

  • 'Jerusalem' on Gaza TV set is as close as many Palestinians will get to real thing
    • On Jerusalem and on the diplomatic front another major Israeli victory according to Ynet news, cited on the Bible and Interpretation site. Unesco resolutions referring to Jerusalem, over which there was much trouble, are withdrawn!
      The forthcoming Unesco meeting will discuss something about the tombs of the Patriarchs, which for the outside world will be of no interest at all. Who says that accusations of anti-Semitism, skilfully wielded, are losing their former power?

  • J Street attends rightwing anti-BDS summit-- and gets called 'anti-Semitic'
    • I too think that critique of religions is entirely permissible, even cartoons mocking the Church of England, which is having a rough old time in Berkshire these days.
      I was looking at the definition of anti-S favoured by 'my' government, which is partly in terms of the effect on people of Jewish religion, and suggesting that Zionism, considering its effects (remarkably serious effects) on many people actually of non-Jewish religion, can be defined in just the same style, implying that Z and anti-S have quite a lot in common. Theresa May might not like the outcome of thinking logically about what 'her' definition amounts to.

    • The definition seems to be 'perception of Jews such that it is capable of being expressed in hatred towards some individuals, Jewish or not, or towards Jewish community or religious institutions'. There's an ambiguity: are we to read 'some Jews' or 'all Jews'?
      Let's assume that hatred is always recognisable or near recognisable.
      Let's now define 'phobia against Christians or Muslims' in parallel terms and see if Zionism qualifies. It certainly embodies a perception of Cs and Ms which means that their interests and sentiments can well be limited to an important degree for the security of those who
      are Jewish, often conveying this meaning in an atmosphere of intense (maybe indeed often justified) disparagement of their anti-Judaism.. If they resist this idea they become rightly open to measures, such as exclusion from long-established homes or the paraphernalia of 'occupation', that radiate at least a good imitation of hatred, something very near instant recognition as such. Note that cultural and religious institutions are not immune.
      So under a definition in the required style Zionism is a form of phobia. There's no reason to use that style for one side in the dispute and not for the other.

  • The rabbi's daughter isn't buying AIPAC's defense of Israel on apartheid charge
  • Will assassination lead to war?
    • There's a report Daniel Bymsn of Brookingd to a Congrssiinsl Committee on March 22 2016 which has a heading about 'growing threat' from Hizb. But the actual words of the report refer to the 'remarkable quiet' of the frontier and to the existence of a local balance of power to which both parties are getting used. Bynam considers that Hizb has a lot to lose: it isn't only a military organisation. Also that the Syrian War has had big effects.

  • 'Negation of the diaspora' as Zionist antisemitism: The JCC bomb threats came from an Israeli Jew
  • History will make us pay for this
    • His endorsement of Mondoweiss was encouraging too.

    • Mearsheimer's remarks are very interesting - glad of the opportunity to read them. I wonder if that conference could have found a venue in the U.K.

  • 'US is overwhelmingly partial to Israel,' Pelosi admits at AIPAC
    • Marvell is making a passing reference to the attempts of religious thought to give meaning to the sheer vastness of time and multiplicity of events and more specifically, I suppose, making a flippant comparison between the vast spans of time he mentions and the time necessary for the conversion of the Jews. From our point of view, thinking of smaller spans related to our own brief lives, it's interesting to think how long something like Christian Zionism has been at work in the Anglo cultural world and how deep we find its roots. 1650, about when Marvell was writing, was apparently the date set by Sir Henry Finch's book 'The Great Restauration' (of 1621) for the conquest of the Holy Land by newly Christian Jews. Marvell may be making reference, even more flippant, to that sort of timescale squeezed forcibly from scriptural texts. But had he known of Herzl's deathbed prophecy of Zionist success around 1950, delivered I think to a CZ friend, he might have been impressed. I've been dipping into 'More Desired than our Owne Salvation' by Robert O Smith, which is about CZ in its early days and about how fervently it was expressed. JeffB will rightly tell me that CZ is not true Z until 'conversion first' is dropped. But CZ has never got rid of 'conversion somehow', strange as it now appears.

    • As to things historic there is some very interesting information at the Bible and Interpretation site currently. They reproduce a report from 'Forward' of March 29 about the provocative Passover sacrifice which the Temple Mount Faitful propose to make in their archaeological theme park. There's also an extremely eloquent and well informed feature by Raphael Greenberg (though I thought he might have prepared more defences against counterattack) about the wrecking of what should be an important archaeological site and the contempt for Palestinians and the Palestinian past shown in the process. It's a reminder that the Israel Antiquities Authority, though it does have some conscience and much expertise, is not the bastion of impartial science against the foaming fanatics of Unesco that it is sometimes purported to be.

    • Is there not enough cuitural commonality across the area from the Med to the Gulf to justify Kay's sense that natural affinities are being disregarded?

  • 'Scariest part' of Trump's draft peace plan promises he will be 'personally involved'
    • Not sure that Euro or U.K. efforts ever amounted to more than gestures plus a bit of conscience money.

  • Bearing witness: a review of Alice Rothchild's book 'Condition Critical'
    • Yes indeed, Mooser, some nations are sadly disappointing. You shine a light unto them and they just roll over and go back to their moral slumbers.

    • I see the question of expulsion - perhaps better 'exclusion' - like this. I take Zionism to be the claim that Jewish people, and they only, have an inherent right, now commonly called a birthright, to a share of sovereignty over the Holy Land, all of it, others receiving a share only by grace and generosity, though one may expect this generosity to be exercised quite a lot. Everything that has happened has been, in effect, to put into effect a claim of this nature.
      Could one substitute the idea that there are two absolutely equal kinds of birthright a) from being Jewish b) from being born in Palestine, so that Jewish Zionists in the Holy Land would say of Palestinians 'they have as much right to be here as we do'. I think not. The idea of equal and identical right precludes the
      idea of a right on the part of either group, acting in its own interests, to make many members of the other group 'not be here', because that is to act from a superior, not an equal right. Yet Israel exists in current
      fashion - and otherwise could not have 'existed as a Jewish state' - because of the exclusions of 48, which I think it is impossible
      for Zionists to regard as morally wrong. So the 'two kinds of birthright' idea is not a form of Zionism.
      But if the only birthright is Jewish then the Palestinians are really in the wrong place unless they are few enough to cause no trouble and be proper objects of pure generosity, which clearly they are not yet.
      So the only right thing and 'overarching goal', if Zionism is valid, is to arrange things so that they move to a place where it is right for them to be, which is anywhere whose citizen body can be prevailed upon to accept or include them: the heartfelt good wishes for their new life, not to mention significant financial assistance, of all true Zionists and indeed of all people of good will would go with them. This would also let the Zionist venture, which is God's will or some secular equivalent, proceed with greater alacrity and triumph to help all humanity in all manner of ways, scientific and moral. I don't believe that I'm mocking or misrepresenting: this is what Zionism implies.

    • These are deep matters, Jeff. Let me get back to you in couple of days. Off to London tomorrow, actually to meet a very old friend whose views are much closer to yours than to mine.

    • Alice R is to be congratulated for putting her finger on the point that it is the overarching goal of Zionism to cause the non-Jewish population to leave their ancestral homes - until, I think, there are sufficiently few of them for there to be no problem in giving them, with dramatic flourish, all manner of equal rights. I think we shall soon hear more of 'pay them to leave', perhaps under Trump's patronage. A heavily ironical version of the 1ss.

    • I'd accept your 'sort of', Jeff. The Jewish Virtual Library mentions a letter from John Adams in 1818 which it regards as an early example of call for political restoration of the Jews 'without prrconditions' as we might say. Adams thinks that conversion will then occur eventually and gradually but his view of conversion is really that Jews and Christians will converge on Unitarianism or deism. Perhaps that wasn't so absurd given the trends he was observing in New England. The comparison with Napoleon, so different in background, would certainly be interesting. A tide was starting to run.

    • At least Washington was not being pressed to support any particular demand from Jewish sources. Wouldn't be surprised to find that there were half a dozen keen proto-Zionists in Newport 1790, all from my Protestant gang.

    • I wish I could think with eljay that Zionism is a paradoxical expression of Jewish self-hatred because then you would expect it to be abandoned progressively by the very people for whom it makes such excessive claims, Jewish people having the power of reason and the sentiment of self-love as much as anyone else. But really it seems to be an expression of the 'supremacism' which is a trait of human nature, always desiring to belong to a group whose members' interests and wishes have a right, at least when other things are equal, to prevail systematically over those of outsiders. I wouldn't agree with talknic if he means that the 10th commandment can or should be interpreted, at least as to its original and intended meaning, so that the conquest of Canaan is a violation of it. The land did not belong to the Canaanites, just as the idea of its belonging to the Palestinians is treated as unthinkably absurd - by many Christians too. That is because of the idea of divine donation, which is always there half a millimetre beneath the surface of all the other, sometimes purportedly atheist, justifications of Zionism and is so dramatic and powerful.
      What is meant by nations in this phase of the argument? Can you belong to none or more than one?

  • Actor Richard Gere in Hebron: 'it's exactly like what the what the Old South was in America'
  • Towards Better Ally-ship for Palestine: A letter to the US activist community
    • I think we have to bother with some questions of what is appropriate language because language can so much encode unnoticed or taken-for-granted ideas. On the other hand, I think that those of us who are trying to loosen the iron grip in the West of certain ideas - to persuade people that Zionism is morally false and that the Palestinians are being grievously wronged - need to use language that is understood in the West and refers to values that the West at least pretends to support.

  • Open Letter to Theresa May: On 100th anniversary of Balfour Declaration recognize an independent Palestinian state
    • This was of a piece, I think, with the apparent acceptance on all hands, Zionists included, of the reference to non-Jewish rights in the Balfour Declaration and the dynasty of documents descended from it. This was insincere from the beginning on the British as well as on the Z side.

  • The explosion hidden inside the UN Apartheid report
    • Some Falk news - after intensive heckling and disruption of his address to students at LSE his planned speeches at two more London area universities have been cancelled. Another major win for the forces of Zionism, I think.

    • To me anti-Z would be the denial of Z claims to certain exclusive rights in Palestine for those who are Jewish. This denial might be based on a wider denial that rights such as those claimed by Z do not exist for anyone in any circumstances: I hope it would. If the only basis for denying Z claims is denial that Jews form a group of the right kind - they are 'merely' a religious rather than a national group, perhaps - I would think that a weak kind of denial, provoking many sorts of supplementary disputation, and too open in principle to aggressive claims of the nationalist kind.

  • UNC SJP responds to ongoing debate over cancellation of Rania Khalek event
    • The distress of members, supporters, donors to an organisation can't be justification for a disinvitation, surely. If it were to be the scope for disruption by factions and subgroups and for feed-on-itself bad feeling would be endless.

  • No room for Zionism in any movement for justice
    • The sequence of the slow emergence of Zionism was, I think -
      1. British (and maybe other) Protestants around 1600 begin to interpret Biblicsl promises of the Restoration of the Jews literally.
      2. East European Jews become increasingly disturbed, resentment at their 'arendator' role in economic life playing a part, and receive a response from Ottoman Jewry, coming to a head in the Sabatian mystical, messianic, somewhat Jewish supremacist, movement of the 1660s.
      3. The forces released by 1 and 2 continue to have their effect. Jewish emancipation gathers pace but is often seen as inadequate.
      4. The idea of a land without a people for a people without a land gains traction in the 1840s. The idea that Jewish immigration would revitalise Palestine gets expression in books like Daniel Deronda. There are proto-Zionist proclamations like the Blackstone Memorial of 1891. For the first time important elements of Western Jewry become interested.
      5. Various manifestations of anti-Semitism occur and gain huge publicity: Lueger's election as Mayor of Vienna, Dreyfus (with the Dreyfusards eventually winning), the Protocols, the Kishinev Massacre of 1903.
      6. The fateful Zionist Congress of 1905 sets the project in motion with a momentum no one could stop, though this is against a background of increasing Jewish participation in all aspects of Western life.
      I can see how Z looked like the answer to several prayers, gave Jews a sense of nationalist purpose in a nationalist time, offered them protection from future Luegers and pogromists, seemed like a project for the good of humanity. But this was a false view. It was moral smoke and mirrors. The moral and theological ideas behind it were all mistaken. It was true that Jewish presence and investment in Palestine could do good but this stood no chance of compensating for what Yonah rightly calls the cruel vector which Z stood no chance of avoiding.

    • If people who are Zionists wish to support a good cause I would not wish to stop them, partly because they might help the cause to succeed, partly because their minds, if opened to valid moral thinking, might see that Z is morally wrong. If they ask, in return for their support, some acceptance or validation of Z that should be refused and if their support for the cause is then withdrawn that has to be endured because support for a good cause cannot be a valid motive for supporting a bad one.

  • Head of UN agency resigns after refusing to retract report calling Israel an 'apartheid regime'
    • It is true a) that the Holy Land is home to many Jewish people b) that most Jewish people, even if not currently resident there, have an understandable sentiment connecting them to that place c) that these two facts are of some moral significance. In Theresa May's Britain there are some people appealing for public sympathy on the ground that though have non-UK passports they have made their homes here for a decade or more and are now facing exclusion - they are appealing to the common moral understanding that there is something morally important (not necessarily conclusive, I'd accept) about letting people stay where they are at home.
      On this very line of reasoning it must follow that there is unfinished business from 1948, with so many Palestinians excluded and so many with an understandable sentiment connecting them to the place, even if they are not resident there just because their forebears were excluded - and that something significant must be done to put the situation right. That's a very minimal statement, far too minimal some would say, but it would be something if we could get it agreed or even mentioned in the places of power.
      The word 'apartheid' isn't crucial to me but I don't see how it can be denied that there is a form of highly separate development going on and that a group of residents are subject to a sovereign power which claims rightful possession of the place where they live and work but keeps them out of full citizenship, that is disfranchises them, wholly or importantly because they are not Jewish in a place specifically claimed for those who are.
      This is contrary to well-known principles of constitutional government, still contrary even if not based on 'race'. Mind you, the general understanding of 'Jewish' concerns relationship to an ancestral religion - either you practice it or you are physically descended, sufficiently closely, from some who did. 'Sufficiently' is debated but is effectively defined in Israeli practice, with some religious groups maybe thinking differently. However you resolve that point it has undeniable reference to who your ancestors were, so involves 'race', that demonically misleading concept, to some degree.
      All that said - I'm getting long-winded today - I sympathise somewhat with Mr. Guterres. He should have been allowed to oversee a publication by people who work in the organisation he directs. If he had censored it that would have been another matter.

  • AIPAC underwrote Islamophobia in the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party too
    • Jeff may be right about current and historic US law. But it would be reasonable to take a different view of 'treason' if one wants to catch offences that would very seriously threaten the security of the state. The 1351 Statute of Treasons, which is probably the ancestor of all relevant legislation in the English-speaking world, extended the definition in certain ways beyond the basic one of levying war against the King in his realm to include things like counterfeiting the Great Seal, which would have threatened chaos in a medieval society and would have seemed clearly part of preparation for insurrection. Equivalent to taking control of Trump's twitter account? Well, times change but a slightly extended definition of treason does not seem absurd at any time. Likewise I might think of a foreign agent as someone who expects personal gain from foreign success even if their are no gold coins rattling in his knapsack just yet.

  • The rise of the Arab American left in the 60s-80s, and the US government's fearful response
    • I'd have expected any book on this subject to be called 'The Rise and Failure of the Arab-American Left'. Why did such a cause,, supported by obvious facts and clearly valid arguments, fail so totally to carry conviction in the West, in fact gain very little attention?
      I agree with Citizen that Exodus was influential but I suppose that by itself it was only one current in the mighty stream of post-Hitler Zionist propaganda. Perhaps it was the jewel in that particular crown.
      Sirhan and the hijackings etc, of around 1970 certainly played their part but maybe the damage had already been done.
      I think that the crucial movement was within Christianity, running a mile from anything that could even look like anti-Semitism. The Catholics were goaded by accusations of wartime collaboration but the big impulse came from Protestant intellectuals keen to purge the sins of the German Church. The Lutheran idea of history where Jesus challenged Judaism and Luther challenged the Pope began to seem painful and Jesus became an exponent of Judaism, not a challenger. I think that the key figure was Reinhold Niebuhr, a brilliant writer and radical Protestant theologian. Martin Luther King, also a radical Protestant theologian, breathed the same air and was, I think, Zionism's crucial convert. The 'natural allies' sought by the Arab-American Left moved in significant numbers, partly because of his decisions, to the other side and have more or less stayed there. Of course there were also other left wing figures of completely different stamp, like Sartre, who gave Z the support of a hugely broad coalition facing what have seemed like sects and groupuscles and eccentrics. Western politics and culture have been sort of allergic to the Palestinian cause.
      Our only advantage is being right, which hasn't been quite enough so far.

  • Michael Walzer wonders if Israel 'will let me in'
    • Walzer's remarks are not to be taken too seriously. Of course Israel will let him as often as he likes. He is in a state of maintained certainty about that. Israel and the liberal Z intellectuals of the West still need each other. The liberal agonies - and this is not even agony, but a sort of humorous, comfortable discomfort - have long validated Zionism in many eyes as a creed of obviously decent people.

  • Steve Bannon's Judeo-Christian 'Camp of the Saints'
    • He considered it an honour to share Hitler's birthday, reports the Daily Telegraph of July 28 last year.

    • The BBC had a summary of the 'Germany attacks' back on December 20. There is the usual mixture of IS claims and records of mental illness among the perpetrators.

  • Some Jews support BDS 'from a place of love' for Israel, says AJC official
    • I was suggesting a logical consequence without the hope that logic is what determines these ideas - I very much agree with your comment below, Annie. Mooser, I think that the resources to complete the project are still lacking, so if the likes of us can resist all the adstrawhominem onslaughts some good may come of it.

    • If so much can be conceded to those who are Jewish but pro-BDS - that they may have loving sentiments - surely it can be conceded to those who, whether or not Jewish, reject the Zionism to which BDS is a response that we may not be ignorant, prejudiced, irrational or vicious.

  • I am a proud Palestinian woman and a humanitarian. I am also the mother of the youngest Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail.
  • Human rights lawyer: Israel's new anti-BDS travel ban violates international law
    • If a government is confident that it will win any objective argument and is not short of people who are highly articulate and influential and who will defend it many areas of the world it surely make sense to accept tourists, at least from those countries, who will turn into hostile propagandists on their return home. Just another battle for public opinion to be won, just another opportunity to make all those friends feel effective and appreciated. So if the potentially hostile characters are in fact turned away there may be an uneasy conscience beneath the bravado.

  • 'BDS is a terrorist movement' - exposing David Collier
    • I was at that demonstration, talking for the much of the time with a like-minded person who happened to be Jewish. I suppose that my Mondoweiss comments are available for inspection. I don't believe they show any particular prejudice.

  • Open Letter: Against the blacklisting of activists and writers
    • No one has a duty to listen to any opinion. That is not silencing the person you choose not to hear. But disinvitation is silencing - and indeed insulting - the disinvited person. It should happen only if something really unexpected comes to light after the invitation has been issued and rarely even then. It is particularly important not to back down just because news of the invitation rouses people who disagree with the speaker to protest. That is equivalent to shouting down by a mob.

  • Character assassination as a tool to silence a Palestinian activist
    • There was never any way for a polity founded on rights claimed exclusively for those who are of a certain religion or are of sufficiently close descent from some who were of that religion - a criterion totally and obviously unrelated to any normal or rational idea of human right - could have been an enlightening force. That is not to mention the cruelty that there was never any chance of avoiding when putting the claim into effect.
      If terrorism is actually defined as, simply means, defence of one's country then it would indeed generally be admired, though some acts of national defence might be regarded as excessive.
      If anti-Semitism is defined as opposition to something strongly supported amongst people who are Jewish then anti-Zionists are anti-Semites. No one owns words or can stop others from using words as they wish.

  • Rabbi Sacks endorses religious crimes in video against BDS
    • Thanks for link, Citizen! Good commentary by Robert Cohen in his remarkably recognisable style. Lord Sacks uses many of the arguments that seem to me most unimpressive when we read them from certain colleagues here in nearly the same words. The strange idea that ancient states with characteristics that he regards as 'national' have eternal rights, the treatment of the biblical record as somehow conferring rights even from the point of view of ethics that do not specifically appeal to religion - and so on, with the added appalling tone of god-fearingness.

  • Finders Keepers in the Holy Land: So who was there first?
    • I think that that Dia is not objecting to free speech but expressing the surprise and worry that comes when a plea for common sense leads to massive to-and-fro argy-bargy. The thing about common sense is that it shouldn't need elaborate disputation to defend it.
      Hierarchy has its defenders such as Shakespeare's character who says 'Take but degree away, untune that string, and mark what discord follows'. Perhaps that argument could be used in defence of hierarchy based on race, though at first sight it would seem that discord has come to the modern world when the string of racial 'degree' is tightened rather than when it is untuned. The idea, even the hint, that the argument for the social necessity of hierarchy becomes stronger when some members of society are Jewish turns me rather green.

    • And sad that an article specifically asking for attention to the present rather than the past arouses discussion that keeps sliding back into the past and becoming mired in it. One might have thought that a claim to political rights that depended even to a degree on physical appearance as evidence of inheriting some ancient status was already 'reduced to the absurd' but perhaps such ideas run deeper than we care to admit.
      At least our Zionist colleagues can't for the most part say that their remarks are ignored. What is imoortant here is that we keep those reasons coming.

    • If you asked the Cherokee about their agreements with the United States I would bet a pound to a peanut that the main reply would that it is rather important that the agreements be honoured.

    • I believe that there is already no legal discrimination throughout most of the United States in respect of rights of franchise and property according to whether you are or are not a Cherokee. I presume that there are privileges for those of Cherokee blood in the tribal areas - mainly in Oklahoma?? This is because there are agreements in place. If the Cherokee gained the power and the will to dispossess the current farmers and appropriate the peanuts I would be sorry, though not as sorry as the barefoot descendants of Jimmy Carter dragging their pathetic possssions over the dirt tracks with many groans and sighs, perhaps urged on by Ch snipers as I'e heard that the fleeing population of Lydda once was. Agreements would have been violated. I would question whether the Ch were really acting in their own best interests. On the other hand if the legal relationship between the people of various ancestry in Palestine were the same as those now prevailing in Oklahoma (the musical of that name was based on a play by a Ch author, I believe) I think that would call for some celebration. If a cheerful drama called 'Gaza!' by a Palestinian author were to hit the theatres I would buy tickets and have a drink.

    • As for collective illusion and Mooser's immanent rain I think we might need to discover the secret of transcendent rain. That would surely render the universe rational, solving the ME problem in the process, and establish the RoHa standard for all definitions, thus making everyone intelligible to everyone else. A new era of peace, prosperity and love!
      Meanwhile, thanks very much for kind words.

    • She was wrong - overestimated a passing cloud. That often happens in marriage.
      Ancestralists make a series of increasingly strong claims - that they have an unconditional right to settle, that they have a right so powerful that other rights are to be considered on,y if theirs are given priority and met in full, that they have a right to exclude previous residents or disfranchise them or subject them to compulsory assimilation. But I think that the true conception - also the common sense conception, surely - of human rights excludes even the least of these claims because it removes the right of the existing inhabitants to control (within reason. as stated) matters of immigration.
      The increasingly strong claims are therefore even more unacceptable, not to say quite shocking, as everyone really knows.
      Well, there may be special considerations if you say that the area in question lacks any legitimate citizens because of anarchy or usurpation. There may be special considerations if you say that God has made a special decree, as in the theology of Ezra and Nehemiah. But these are rather unusual arguments.
      There are further paradoxes within ancestralism, notably its arbitrary choices among different ancestral lines and links with places, such as ancestry related to a small province, such as Palestine, versus ancestry related to a large kingdom, such as that of the Ottomans.

    • That is not expanding on the original argument, at least it is not offering a principle about political rights that explains why they belong to people whose ancestors have the characteristics you mention - giving the practical syllogism a major premise.
      Is it something to do with correcting wrongs done in the past, in this case by the Romans? Is the right to correct such wrongs absolutely overriding, so that any amount of deprivation can be imposed on others?
      Let me say what I think. For obvious reasons of utility, people are generally assigned citizenship where they are born, though they are - also for utility - allowed some degree of hereditary right, so that the temporary absence of parents from their normal country does not have permanent consequences that would cause pointless inconvenience and distress. This hereditary right can be extended quite generously but has reasonable limits. If someone has clearly chosen to make his life in another country there is no serious inconvenience in his/ her not having full citizenship where his grandmother lived.
      Setting these limits is clearly within the rights of the sovereign, which is an illustration of the sovereign's duty to make it clear who the people are over whom jurisdiction is claimed and whose interests an opinions are to be taken into account in the formation of national policy. Thus there is right to control immigration by measures within reason, though it is unreasonable to refuse admission to people who will obey the law of the land and contribute substantially to its welfare without ulterior purpose or loyalty.
      I must break off. My wife is pointing out that the grass urgently needs cutting and that rain is imminent. I'll be back.

    • Just to say that it's possible to argue that the only rights (or comparable standards of good and evil) are the legal rights established by a power structure to which the agent is subject. However, this means that there is no objection to anything regarded as an enormity or atrocity that is not illegal for the 'perpetrator's' purposes: absolutely no objection, which is very hard for most to accept intuitively.
      More importantly in a way, it is hard to see how the various power structures and their law codes become established if they have no general basis in human nature and a natural sense of right and wrong. Hard in turn to think how that natural sense has nothing to do with our rationality or is something that we might well repudiate on a personal basis. So there must, I think, be some room for rights conceived in 'abstraction' from laws and from power, i.e. universal.
      I think it's agreed that marauders don't win rights by marauding. The idea of transmitting what one does not have seems highly paradoxical. I couldn't hand you a box of chocolates I don't hold in my hand. I could get someone to give it to you but then it is he, not me, who does the transmission. A marauder could make peace and obtain an agreement which legitimated his children's presence, but then the right and legitimacy would be transmitted by all those making the agreement while axes are beaten into doorstoppers.
      It is possible to say that the marauder's charming daughter is not complicit in her father's crimes and deserves, by 'abstract'/universalist argument, to have citizen rights where she was born 'because everyone does'. But there can't be complete equation between those who are there by rightful inheritance and those who are there primarily because a bloody axe was wielded, i.e. without transmitted right. If 'everyone's rights' are to be claimed on their behalf it must be part of a claim which also concedes relevant rights to everyone concerned - otherwise it would be self-defeating - and is put forward in search of an agreement.
      So I think that there is hope that Israelis may secure a rightful position for their offspring but only when the offer ending the scandal of the Palestinians' disfranchised and sub-sovereign existence has been made.
      That was far too long. And it's a big long nothingburger, as Hillary Clinton used to say, since absolutely nothing like this will happen. As Mooser remarks, it's all about power.

    • A ziggurat next, then?

    • It's interesting that we began with an article suggesting that ancient/medieval history does not determine human rights now but that we keep returning to and disputing those historical facts and myths. Such is human nature, I suppose. You mention Troy. I've never been to Heinrich Schliemann's site and am somewhat sceptical about it but I'm told that the Turks are quite keen on appropriating the Trojans and that there is a large wooden horse, eternal symbol of Greek treachery, in the car park.

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