Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 4048 (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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  • Times super-Zionist Bret Stephens commits fallacy and falsehood, on Jerusalem
    • Why speak so unkindly, DaB, of a discussion that I would see as marked by an honest attempt to read and understand primary sources? Maybe I’m saying this myself as shouldn’t.
      If Lyn was indeed about to cite Herodotus that hardly seems to be irrelevant, still less an indication of mendacity. His remarks are indeed proof that the area, the land between the waters, was widely known as Palestine (perhaps Syria-Palestine) a name which also occurs much earlier. If you consider that the actual date of Herodotus’ writing was close to the dramatic date of Nehemiah’s activities in Atraxerxes’ Jerusalem (that’s if you think he means Arta 1), you would not expect, considering the rather poor state of Jerusalem as N depicts it, that any Israelite or Judaite name would have been in wide use at that time.

    • Thanks for the reference to Yuval, Brewer, though his remarks seem to me to concern a slightly different, though related, topic, that of the permanently enforced exclusion zone. It seems to agreed widely this existed for a time at least in the area within sight of Jerusalem but did not extend to Galilee. Its actual extent, duration and rigour of enforcement over time remain quite debatable. Dio’s record suggests that there was a very drastic, horrific ethnic cleansing while the new dispensation around Jerusalem/Aelia was being set up and might suggest that not many Judaean Jews survived to make any attempt to return. The Roman Empire believed in keeping written records, though it’s only in Egypt that the climate has prrseved them in anything like abundance. I don’t see much reason to question Dio’s implicit claim to have read Hadrian’s original report on the campaign. Dio moved in the highest Roman circles and would have had full access to the archives. That doesn’t stop his figures from being highly suspect. They are extraordinarily high! Though it has to be admitted that the archaeologists have found plenty of damage from 135 + and no clear case, I think, of a location that survived the war undamaged.
      I think I’m running on into too much detail. I too think that the evidence for a large scale exile, having a significant effect on populations far and wide, is very weak. And in any event not providing a moral argument for Zionism.

    • I agree about the weird archaeology. Certain levels of soil are privileged and given overwhelming significance, even though all levels yield infornation about the past, in just the same way as certain ancestors in the gene pool are privileged: all in reference to those religious stories. There is then a certain tendency to extreme over Interpretation.

    • Replying to Emory very pertinent comment. ‘Many ancestors’ is still true, I think. It doesn’t take much for this to be the truth. I believe that one of my great grandfathers was Norwegian - this enough to give my American grandchildren many ancestors from Norway. This may or may not be a a fun fact for them but it surely doesn’t give them any political rights among the fjords.
      What happens in Zionism is that one arbitrarily selected group of ancestors is given special importance because and only because certain stories are told about them and have made a great impression. These stories are of unmistakably religious or theological character.

    • Yes, Lyn, I would favour that view of things too. Aelia was merely the official name.

    • I agree fully, Catalan, that ancestry is not in general of any moral importance in determining political rights. There may be some exceptions by general consent, as when children of British citizens born abroad get a British passport.

    • On depopulation, it’s a question of what we make of Dio Cassius 69:12 with its very high casualty figures figures for Judaea. It seems pretty certain that population was cleared out while a security zone was established round Aelia Capitolina, the renamed Jerusalem. How long it took for repopulation to occur, and how Jewish the new population was, isn’t so clear. The centre of Jewish life moved, everyone seems to agree, to Galilee: to that extent the Jewish population weathered the storm.

    • Whatever one thinks happened in ancient times it is surely true that today’s Palestinians must have had many ancestors living in the place. Even if there was a depopulation after 135 - the evidence is at least mixed - there was plenty of time, centuries upon centuries, for the population to be replaced. The ‘many ancestors’ proposition is true even if many of the ancestors concerned existed only in the last few centuries, even I’d some of the ancestors were Jewish, even if there was considerable churning back and forth across the wider Middle East.
      Political rights do not depend on population statistics from the past. I don’t think that anyone would have attached any importance to these things - I can think of no comparable case - had it not been that some ancestors are assigned more importance than others by religious ideas, ideas which carry enormous weight even among those who do not believe in God.

    • I think that the following statements are all true
      a) many of the ancestors of today’s Jews lived in what is now called Israel
      b) many of the ancestors of today’s Jews lived elsewhere
      c) many of the ancestors of today’s Palestinians lived in what is now called Israel
      d) Judaism in most of its forms both ancient and modern ascribes particular theological importance to Jerusalem and the territory around it. (Mind you, it is at least an oversimplification to say that all forms of Judaism or many forms of Christianity have implied something like Zionism.)
      Everything really depends on d). The other propositions by themselves would never have been thought to imply anything important. However, it is wrong to impose on others a political claim founded on a religion they do not accept.
      Levine’s remarks on the equivocation between ‘recognise as fact’ and ‘recognise as legitimate’ are impeccable.

  • How corporate media tacitly justify the murder of Palestinian children
    • The Independent article does attempt some balance, after letting Israel make all the running on the reasons for the attack, by letting the Palestinian envoy to the UN have the strongest voice in its remarks on the Trump/Jerusalem part of the story. I don’t think it’s fair to say that Israel is preemptively approved whatever is done or that Hamas is made to sound as if it, with its inefficient rockets, comes anywhere near to matching Israel militarily.
      However, the Independent report does go with the core Israeli story of reaction to an action on the other side, with no insight into how constant Israeli pressure must feel like constant provocation to those receiving it. It does not explore the option, which is not unreal, of forebearance from causing casualties when the actions of the other side have not caused any and when there is always a substantial chance that innocents will be victimised if forebearance is not shown.

  • The world's anger toward Trump gives Palestinians a clear path for action
    • I’ll be quite surprised if there are no talks involving Abbas and others if - probably shoukd say ‘when’ - Trump makes his second move, which he will call proposing a peace plan with what he will call concessions from Israel.

  • Dionne and Shields ignore the Adelson in the room
    • Various reports say that Senators Blumenthal, Durbin and Feinstein have spoken of Trump’s decision in mildly critical terms.

  • Trump's 'Lord Balfour moment' is formal recognition the US was never an honest broker
    • I don’t think that in recent years anyone of importance has ever really claimed to be an honest broker, except perhaps for Trump at that one strange moment in the campaign. Which didn’t last long. The ideological climate makes fairness and impartiality seem like moral faults. Support for the 2ss continues, though. It’s not so much a corpse to my mind as a mirage but it flickers and tantalises still and will be back on the agenda of Abbas and the Saudis very soon.

  • Palestinian officials say, Trump 'destroyed' the two-state solution
    • It’s true that no question of political rights today depends on the question whether the United Monarchy of David and Solomon (perhaps Elhanan and Jedediah) really existed. However many attempts are made to support modern claims to political rights by theological arguments and what I consider to be bad theology is in turn supported by further arguments, this time of historical character, usually expressing an uncritical acceptance of certain elements in the Biblical account. This makes it important to keep up critical thinking on these matters

    • The right ‘decide that Jerusalem is as significant as it is’ is a strange phrase. Ifthe significance of Jerusalem is an objective fact then no one has the right to decide it: everyone has a right to decide whether claims about it are justified or exaggerated. If it’s a matter of saying how significant Jerusalem is to each of us most of us would accept claims by Jewish people about their personal sentiments but would presumably extend the same courtesy to others, both when they claim and when they disclaim any strong attachment to the place. No one has the right to have others accept personal sentiment as proof of objective fact or moral obligation,

    • Interesting to see how far the definition permits a person to belong to no, or to more than one, people.
      I think it good to avoid anything that sounds like the Nazi usage ‘the Jew X’ - this makes the adjective preferable to the noun in many contexts. The Jewish people I know tend to say ‘I’m Jewish’ rather than ‘I’m a Jew’. I think this is because the indefinite article in this context has an alienating force: ‘He’s a German, a Russian’ sounds slightly hostile compared with ‘He’s German, Russian’.

    • ‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks’ - an elegant and ironic comment on excessive self-proclaimed commitment.
      It’s true that there are some people who regard themselves and are generally regarded as Jewish without reference to their personal religion but there is no significant number of people who are so regarded without reference to the religion of at least a great number of their ancestors. it may be said that this group form a people but I would be surprised if many British Jews do not consider that they belong to the British as well as the Jewish people - so the sense of ‘people’ here may not be very challenging, may mean little more than ‘group’. If it is chained that being part of the Jewish people = grouo of people who are Jewish confers special rights in Palestine I would deny it.

    • Avnery was expressing scepticism about the kingdoms of David and Solomon. The majority of those who study the subject probably think that there were kings to whom those names - or perhaps they were honorifics, since as names they are quite strange - belonged but also strongly doubt that the kingdom achieved the dominant, almost imperial status that is claimed for it. The name of the whole kingdom is hard to identify. Personal names of the time tend to be theophoric, relating the person to God - Solomon has a second name, Jedediah, ‘friend of God’, though it seems he was not often known by it.

  • Trump just 'pushed the two-state solution over the cliff'
    • No one, Jewish or other, has a duty to accept disfranchisemen, or enfranchisement with an effect guaranteed to be secondary, because of belonging to a particular group with a particular affinity - including being Jewish. Which also means that no one has the right to belong to an affinity group which forms the majority in any state, since this ensures that the franchise of the others, if they are enfranchised at all, will be at best of secondary effect.

    • Trump has grievously insulted the Palestinians, certainly, but I don’t think he’s killed any process that was alive and worth preserving. That is really the one thing he hasn’t done here. There will be more talks about talks about something allegedly bordering on a 2ss quite soon, surely,, if Trump’s peace proposal, as it will be called, does emerge from wherever it’s hiding. That process of talking will probably get no further than its predecessors but it will be undead.

  • Netanyahu ditches US Jews for alliance with Christian evangelicals and the alt-right
    • Get well soon, RoHa, and keep in touch. Don’t stay under that rock too long, Annie. You both have ways with words that we need.

  • Israeli consul warns American Jews: 'Our marriage is Catholic -- no divorce'
    • I take the point, Yonah, that things that seem minor from outside the family may seem like matters of life and death inside. I do see that such is the nature of human groups. However, there seems to me to be something misleading in what he says. He’s working along two lines that don’t converge. The Palestinian problem is a last straw for some morally sensitive Jewish people, breaking their fraternity with Israel as a political entity, and I think that the good Rabbi, if himself a morally sensitive person, can’t be unaware of that. The complaints about the Kotel etc. may be very important to him but Dayan is right that these by themselves can’t really break fraternity or be a last straw because they only emphasise how dependent the rabbi and the Western Jewish communities are on spiritual resources and fountainheads that Israel controls.
      So I think he’s displacing his fear of lost fraternity by complaining of something that doesn’t quite turn that fear into reality.
      Perhaps all that is a bit of a rigmarole but I’ll try it on you.

    • The complaints of the Cincinnati rabbi sound to me like a displacement activity, treating the rules of prayer at the Kotel as if they were the mountain and the really serious matter, the treatment of the Palestinians, as if it was in comparison the molehill. As if a spouse complained about burned food and didn’t mention domestic violence.

  • In age of forest fires, Israel's law against Palestinian goats proves self-inflicted wound for Zionism
    • If ‘indigenous people’ is defined as those ‘connected’ to a territory when, for any reason, there is no other surviving group who established a connection before them I would ask a) what qualifies as a connection b) whether a connection can be broken c) in what sense the relationship of group to territory changes in itself when both group and territory remain the same but a third party changes, for instance by dying out.
      The truth of ‘my home town is Xville’ doesn’t change with the fortunes of other people.
      So far, I’m just asking about how this definition works to describe people. But if the description is meant to entail rights I would ask a1) are all modes of connection, say by descent or by conquest, of equal significance? b1) are there any rights, or are there no rights at all, derived from being connected but not having the longest established connection? c1) can one really acquire rights by killing off people whose connection was of longer duration? As if the second heir to a fortune were to inherit the fortune rightfully by pushing the first heir off a cliff?

    • If it is claimed that Jewish people of today are heirs to invaders who set the Canaanites, the oldest known inhabitants, by fire and sword on the road to destruction I would say that that claim, if true, establishes no rights at all. Unless, that is, you say it was and remains the will of God. But I would dispute that too.

    • Maybe there is room for some common ground or woodland floor here. Jonathan’s quote from Uri Ariel and the whole article from which it comes makes a pretty reasonable case for the view that goats are not always the enemy. Meanwhile we have Jay Shofet, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, December 5 2016, explaining why pine trees are not always friends. In both cases there is some acknowledgement that Zionist ideology went rather too far. But from ‘our’ side we may acknowledge that here are Zionists learning from experience and modifying their ways.
      Vegetation becomes a metaphor for immigrant and indigenous people. Vegetation of different origins can be combined, of course, just like Israelites and non-Israelites combined in various ways in ancient times. Though it should be remembered that according to the Biblical record the Israelites were absolutely not on the indigenous side of the balance. They were violent immigrants with a special mission from God for the eventual good of all humanity.

    • On goat mythology and agriculture - and for a reprimand to British imperial agricultural policy - see Sarah E Harris ‘Cyprus as degraded lanscape’ - Proceedings of National Academy of Science, 2012. She refers to Virgil’s comparison of (presumably uncontrolled) goat grazing to ‘a fire in the fields’ as an illustration of age-old Western myth, but in the fact the poet makes a specific case for goats as high-yield animals sustaining poor families.

  • Israel will get 'more understanding' from Trump's negotiators because they're all observant Jews, Sharansky says
    • The Economist for November 23 has a different view, saying that the Trump plan, due in January, will be highly unspecific, a ‘road map without a road’ and that no one will particularly like it. Once again everything will be referred to future talks. Iranian propaganda will be countered, maybe not too effectively, with propaganda emphasising Western goodwill. I would rather that Sharansky was right about ‘seriousnes’, that is that we would have a clear Israeli statement (I may be going beyond what Sharansky means) of what it regards as a fair and final settlement. It would be very clarifying to have a statement of this kind, however unfair and unacceptable it might be.

  • Liberal Zionists confront, or deny, the 'Doomsday settlement'
    • I confess that there is a certain realism in what you say, Nathan. But perpetual conflict is to some extent perpetual wrong, so we cannot admire or be content with it.

  • Israel has more legitimacy than US because the bible mentions Jerusalem, not New York -- says David Harris
    • The question of how many angels to a pinhead is supposed to be one whose answer is either unattainable or totally uninteresting - which may or may not be true. The question of the legitimacy of a state in which one religious group ‘reigns supreme’ is neither of these things. Like eljay, though maybe not via quite the same argument, I think that disfranchisement and discrimination, not to mention exclusion from one’s home or punishment for expression of opinion, on religion-related grounds are all wrong, whoever does them.

    • It is true that ‘the non-existence of rights for states to exist proves that states lack a right to exist’ - that’s because you’ve put ‘right’ on both (implying and implied) sides of the implication or proof. But it’s not true that the actual non-existence of former states (where the ‘implying’ side of the statement does not include the term ‘right’) proves a lack of right even in those individual cases. It proves only that one of two things must be true: either they had no right to exist or their rights were violated. Which of those two things is true - and it’s an important difference - remains in question.
      If we find someone who has suffered homicide we would probably not say ‘This shows that individuals, or at least individuals like him, have no right to life’ - we would regret the violation of that right.
      As to the right to exist, that depends on meaning. I would think that all of us, all individuals, have the right, except perhaps for highly exceptional circumstances recognised in the theory of just war, not to be subject to invasion and the ravaging or seizure of our homes, the very thing that happened in Palestine 48. That’s not the same thing as saying that the borders and constitutions of states are sacred. They should not be changed rashly or without concern for the general good or general consent but that doesn’t mean that they should last for ever.

    • Their actual non-existence doesn’t prove that they lacked a right to exist, Greta - it may be that their dismantlements were wrongful acts.

    • Amigo’s remarks are highly pertinent, of course. One can see that those who composed the text were uneasy even as they were shaping it about the tension between their universal moral law and their particular historical mission. Leviticus 18:25 says/implies that the Israelites has not coveted the land but were to receive it because it had ‘vomited out its inhabitants’ for their sins, a rather academic picture of a campaign by human beings as a beyond control involvement in, as it were, the movement of tectonic plates. Somehow Imagery in this style has proved to be very powerful. I don’t think it’s altogether fanciful to think that the writers of this passage were anticipating pertinent questions as framed here by amigo: you don’t have to cherry-pick when the whole cherry tree is a sign of the supreme value of the Israelite possession, by divine donation of course, of the Land of Israel

    • No indeed, Mist, he’s not interested in the facts in the way we might hope. He’s concerned with a text that may not be tediously factual but is inspiringly sacred. The idea of that sacredness is lodged deep in the consciousness of most Western people still, certainly of enough Western people - me included, can’t help it - to make a difference. I like to think that he interprets his text wrongly, but I would have a hard job persuading him.

    • No clear timescale, I agree, Tuy, but if I were a religious Zionist I would read Isaiah 35, where the desert blossoms like a rose and God exercises jjudgement, with a rosy and blossoming feeling.

    • That’s a good aphorism, Mooser, even by your high standards in these things.

    • But who can esteem international law higher than the Bible, whose frequent mentions of Jerusalem cannot be denied?

  • Draft-dodger Tzipi Hotovely comes out as an anti-Semite
    • There is an intersection between Zionism and some Nazi ideas, in that life in the Diaspora was seen as morally enervating for Jews, and lack of ‘manliness’ or militarism is mentioned, rather unfairly in the light of Jewish experience in WW1, as a problem in Leo Strauss’ memoir of ‘the Zionism of Max Nordau’ published in 1923. There was thus a measure of agreement between the Zionists and the anti-Semites. Both disagreed with the liberal idea that Jewish people could be completely themselves and completely active morally in a non-Jewish political environment. Al the same, I would hesitate to call this, whether in Strauss or in Hotovely, anti-Semitism. There is no belief that Jewish people are damaging to the society where they live, quite the contrary.

  • Israel's top diplomat spouts anti-Semitic criticism of American Jews -- 'having quite convenient lives'
    • There are other points of view. ‘England has been all she could be to the Jews, the Jews will be all they can be to England’ proclaimed the Jewish Chronicle on August 14, 1914, heralding significant Jewish participation in the War effort.

    • Any Bible-influenced form of Z would reach the conclusion that the whole river-sea area, plus quite a bit more, belongs to Israel.

    • It is true ‘analytically’, from the meanings of the words, that had all the Jewish populations which were to be affected by the Holocaust been relocated in good time to safe places, even safe places without a Jewish majority, there would, other things being equal, have been no Holocaust.
      That truth presupposes that many such safe places existed and that many non-Jewish people were ready to treat their Jewish fellows humanely: sometimes indeed there was an element of generosity, in that normal immigration rules were waived. The policies leading to the Holocaust were in fact much reduced in impact by the fact that many Jewish people had been permitted to emigrate to other countries. Of course this mitigating factor was insufficient, alas. We should note that it was insufficient in part because generosity to what we now call asylum seekers was not enough but in part also to the fact that many potential victims never had the chance to flee.

  • Trump administration threatens to close Palestinians' office in Washington DC
  • The Clinton scandals entailed violent threats against people who knew about his sex life
    • The ability of the hypothesis of ‘controlling influence’ to explain all those things that otherwise don’t make sense is the reason why you should be wary of it. Its compatibility with all phenomena means that ir’s hard to fit into an objective discussion of the world.

  • Liberal Israeli leaders were contemplating genocide in Gaza already in 1967
    • Mind you, I can’t see why the fact that almost all political movements are local and contingent should be a reason for not comparing them with each other. It’s the comparisons that bring out what is idiosyncratic and what is common,

    • No, Elizabeth, I don’t think he has, but he’s used the term of the mistakes of others!

    • I too spent many years thinking that it was only a matter of time before the moderates on both sides would prevail and that the broad outlines of a peace agreement were indeed already known, with the Palestinians warmly welcoming the big increase in prosperity they were due to receive. We all make mistakes but that was what President Trump would call a beauty.

    • The fundamental principle of Z is that only those people who are Jews have an inherent right, these days called birthright, to be citizens of the Holy Land, others only so far as Jewish grace may extend. Others who are there have no right to be and one way or another this has to be made clear to them and to everyone, though many of them are left with some possessions, for which they should be grateful.

  • Bret Stephens equates anti-Zionists with white nationalists in the 'New York Times'
    • I think that Spain decided a few years back to offer citizenship to any descendant of the Jewish people expelled in the days of the Catholic Kings. This became difficult to do meaningfully, partly because there can be on,y a few who can prove beyond question that they are qualified and partly because the number of people who actually have at least one relevant ancestor must be enormous and would include many whose families have not practised Judaism for centuries.
      My idea - don’t know what RoHa would think of this - of a legitimate resident is someone living in a country and contributing to its economy/political life or qualifying for a place in its social security system. This would be so provided that the person is not reasonably regarded as having destructively superior loyalties elsewhere or as having entered illegally or violently in circumstances not yet resolved by treaty, amnesty or the general consensus of humanity. I’d add people in anomalous situations whose expulsion could not be contemplated humanely.

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  • 'Want to boycott Israel? Be my guest, there will be a pricetag' -- Israeli official warns Europe
    • And yet it is true that the idea of delegitimising Jews, or something like it, is quite ancient. Nebuchadnezzar deconsecrated and posssibly dismantled the Jerusalem Temple c. 585 presumably as a sign that it had, in his opinion, lost the approval,and protection of its god. It is to be noted that the Jewish leaders already in Babylon, whose views we know through Ezekiel’s prophecies, strongly agreed with this opinion. Jewish theology was fully aware of the fact that the claim that you are God’s elect, have the strongest badge of legitimacy, and the fear that
      you may alienate God, be delegitimated, are very close akin.

  • Antisemitism bill hearing reflects disagreement in Jewish community over dual loyalty
    • I think that it’s important to separate descriptions, which can be right or wrong, and definitions, which can’t be right or wrong, though they can a) be clear or obscure b) close to or far from any definition in common use. If I say ‘the cat is on the mat’ then I am right or wrong according to where the relevant cat actually is and I can’t make what I say true by fiat. But if I say ‘by Cat I mean adorable animal with retractable claws’ that’s up to me. I would have to accept that no unpopular animal is, by my standards, a cat.

    • I think that any definition can be used anywhere. They are merely statements of how someone intends to use words, at least in that part of their use which depends on stipulated association with other words. If someone says ‘By anti-S I mean anti-Z’ that’s up to that person. If he intends to make anti-Z illegal he must at least show that anti-Z is wrong and he can’t do that, at least where there is any reason, simply by stipulating that the word be used in linkage with certain other words.
      The definition proposed by the Zionists here can be used with some intelligibility. I would argue that anti-Z is not a perception of Jews both because it does not depend on regarding Jews, by contrast with others, in any particular light and because, as a statement about human rights, it is not logically expressed by an emotion, such as hatred or, for that matter, love. I’m not an anti-Z because I love Palestinians or because I love the human race: I may not have that kind of beautiful soul. I just think Z is contrary to the ideas of right that I do accept.

  • The goy and the golem: James Angleton and the rise of Israel
    • The bakers dozen included our Harold Wilson, I rather think.

    • Is there really any reason to think that Angleton did more than share the admiration for Israel and Zionism that was common in those days in most Western circles? In spying terms Israel must have been a bridge between the two rival intelligence agencies, with great contacts both ways, so Angleton would have had every reason to cultivate his Israeli counterparts. This would have inhibited him when it came to the nuclear thefts but this inhibition and willingness to turn a blind eye must have been shared by dozens of people.

  • Dear Simon Schama, you need a history lesson on Zionism
    • I hope that the young lady gets help. But while injustice and oppression continue psychotherapy will not be enough.

    • Yes, ‘healed’ suggests that a little psychotherapy might be just what’s needed.

    • Neither Schama nor Cohen seems to say what ‘Z’ means to them. To me it means that people who are Jewish, and they only, have a share of sovereignty in Palestine by birthright, others only by grace and generosity. I call myself an anti-Z because I think this proposition indefensible under any reasonable theory of political rights.
      Maybe Schama uses the term ‘Z’ diffferently, to mean that there are two kinds of people who have birthright in Palestine, that is people who are Jewish and people who are born in the territory. I would say that this cannot be the Z that has actually been put into practice, because - as lynn has rightly said - it would imply a Palestinian RoR, fiercely refused over decades of misery. And even if that right had been granted the idea that someone living far distant from a territory, with loyalties, taxes and principal economic interests elsewhere, has rights equivalent to those of a locally born, still resident person and has those rights on the basis of race or religion is still completely mistaken.
      Schama speaks of historically inflicted cruelty, though Z never stood a chance of being put into practice without cruelty. But the suffering one’s ancestors is not the basis of political rights now. One’s own presence and participation in society, at least in the absence of any reasonable suspicion that that presence is morally wrong, or one’s own status as a refugee with RoR is the only basis.

    • That is very true, lynn! If wrongs have been done by Zionists in authentic pursuit of Zionism and in violation of legitimate rights reflecting an ancient culture Zionism cannot be a wholly legitimate moral principle.

  • Five Palestinians bodies recovered from tunnel bombing after Israeli court ignores emergency rescue petition
    • No one can trace genealogy to particular individuals in ancient times and at that rate no one has the sort of individual claim to individual, specified items of property that one associates with genealogy and inheritance.. Steven Weitzman, in his recent Origin of the Jews, thinks that the family of Confucius might be the sole exception. In any event, individual property rights do not automatically create rights of citizenship and all individual rights are subject to changes in the social contract, which defines rights for any particular society and territory, when changes these are reasonably agreed and - at least over time - unchallenged. Thus no one can claim personal property or political rights in Italy on the strength of edicts from Julius Caesar.

    • Many Jewish people did make their way to safer countries as the dire events of WW2 came into prospect. Many of my generation have known people who arrived via the Kindertransport, which the UK government did not finance but to which it set no numerical limits. This reduced the effect of the dire events.

    • You and I, echino, recognise how good it would be if these moral disasters were generally seen for what they are, But my question ‘How shall we proceed?’ was meant not for the likes of us but for the likes of those like Nathan who have recognised, it seems, that justification for the Z system cannot come from Deuteronomy or DNA: so from where, from what considerations?

    • Echino is absolutely right that Nathan is, at the point mentioned, absolutely right. Israel most certainly exists and has achieved some good things, rather more than just cherry tomatoes. However, it exists by exercising sovereign power in what it calls disputed territories over very many disfranchised people and it exists as a result of excluding very many people from their homes in 48, creating problems (to use a mild word) that continue to this day. How shall that existence be justified? Not from studying DNA or from reading ancient history, I agree. Then how shall we proceed?

    • The mention of family quarrels comes from Ostrer in the Haaretz article: he mentions Cain and Abel, though Isaac and Ishmael would be rather more to the point. The family quarrel idea is a pivot away from genetics, because the rights of blood brotherhood suddenly mean nothing if there is an ideological or religious split and one brother is on the wrong side of it. If religious continuity from ancient times begins to look like a very weak reason for exclusive political rights then the argument will switch back quickly to the more scientific sounding world of DNA.

    • I don’t see how claims of religious character can be reinforced by claims of a scientific character. Mind you, if all these claims were to be articulated fully and carefully we could examine their logical connections.

    • Yes, wouldn’t it be nice if Ostrer’s genetic studies were used in that way! The fact that they will not be used in that way at all shows, among other things, that the claims of Zionism are based, among other things, on sudden confusing switches between claims to continuity with ancient Israel based on genetics and claims based on religion/culture. Mind you, Ostrer-style claims are highly controversial. Steven Weitzman’s ‘Origins of the Jews’ (Princeton 2017) is quite informative.

  • Thousands march to UK parliament calling for justice on Balfour centenary
    • It is good to be reminded of King-Crane’s astonishment at those who took seriously the Biblical claims of Z, which of course Lloyd George did.
      However, ‘Nemo dat’, though it is a true logical principle, doesn’t seem all that relevant to me. The Declaration does not say ‘I hereby give’. It says ‘If it becomes mine, I will give it’ - ‘ meum si illud factum erit, dabo’. In Roman law this might not have been binding but it wasnt and isn’t illogical or unintelligible. It was the moral law, not the laws of logic, that was being broken. Britain could possess Palestine rightfully only if that possession were to be a necessary temporary measure in the best interests of the people who were there.

  • Balfour Declaration's 100th birthday prompts calls on Britain to apologize and recognize Palestinian rights
    • I think that was a third element, the spread of Christian Zionism, which made the idea of a potentially dominant Jewish presence in Palestine look entirely reasonable both to elite and to general public opinion.

  • Machsom: mornings at Checkpoint 300
  • UN rapporteur urges sanctions on Israel for driving Palestinians 'back to the dark ages'
    • Thanks, jon, at first sight comprehensive, fair-minded and well written. I’ll read it through again more carefully. Mind you, I think that Finkelstein regards himself as centrist rather than minimalist like the hard cores in Copenhagen and Sheffield.

    • Zionism has always been a claim about Jewish rights in all, not just in some, of the Holy Land, the religious and moral arguments connecting the people to the land being the same in every foot’s length. This is, I suppose, an important reason why the 2ss is so constantly aborted.

  • Smear campaign is defused as Tom Suarez speaks at UMass
    • I can’t go along with pinning the ‘anti-Semite’ label on Zs. They claim to be, when it comes to Jewish rights, the proudest and most authentic Jewish voice, dissenters therefore having a false consciousness. The essence, the ‘what it is to be authentically Jewish’, they regard with pride if they are themselves Jewish, admiration if they are not. This, of the rights they claim are falsely claimed, is not naturally described as resulting from prejudice against Jews (anti-S) but from prejudice in their favour. We still haven’t found the rhetorically convincing shield against the poisoned arrows labelled ‘anti-Z is anti-S’.

  • 'It being clearly understood…': What the Balfour Declaration tells us about Israel
    • The origins of American entry into the War lie in superior British power in the Atlantic and in American concern with China via the Open Door policy. If American trade was not to be too damaged by the War it would have to be more with us than with the Germans, unless our naval power was to be broken (which would be very costly), and where there was trade there had to be loans and credits, and thus the American economy became enmeshed with us and our allies. Our blockade of Germany, which affected neutrals badly, was therefore tolerated. The only available (I’m not saying justified) German retaliation was unrestricted submarine warfare, which cost many American lives. Thus neutrality slipped away progressively in a fashion which contained an element of German aggression, making war seem right - in all the circumstances, both right and profitable for the main provider of loans for the victorious side.
      On the Pacific Ocean side I think it is agreed that Japan, our ally but not an Allied Power in the Euro theatre, was becoming viewed as the main threat to Open Door and this created an American interest in supporting Russia, an Allied Power and the main counterweight to Japan, which American diplomacy had already sustained by diplomatic intervention in the 1905 War. There’s only marginal room for Jewish Balfour-related influence in all this.

  • R.I.P., Shiksa
    • Shouldn’t that, echino, be ‘if the mother is not biologically Jewish’? Mind you, It seems that the Karaites think differently.

  • The Russia influence story just crashed into the Israel influence story
    • Well, Jackdaw, it seems to me that Singer is, as he has every right to be, person of strong ideology, both in respect of the Israeli and the gay cause, not just a money man.

    • For activities of - and conflicts between - Mr. Singer and certain others in the religious pro-Israel Movement, see Mark Chancey - ‘When Hobby Lobby Tours the Holy Land’ on the Bible and Interpretation website.

  • Jewish news agency edits out editor's role as settler advocate
    • Oster’s essay on the Temple M was written for the Temple Institute in 2013 in support of a proposal to allow organised Jewish prayer there. This had reached the stage of a Knesset bill but seems to have been rather vague - Oster says she doesn’t know what would happen to non-Jewish visitors during Jewish prayer times - and perhaps wasn’t really meant or expected to pass. I agree with DaB’s implied point that an average Western reader would probably think her views reasonable, perhaps jibbing (maybe not) at the point where she refers to the proposition that there is no such thing as the Temple Mount not merely as disagreement, not even as absurdity, but as ‘incitement’, which should on reflection appear as highly supremacist talk. It’s interesting that this is a point which the settlers have never been able to carry.

  • American Jewry and Israel, unbound
    • I understand RoHa’s and Keith’s uneasiness about change as ‘the death of what has gone before’. I was following a respected source, Lucretius I 670-1 ‘Nam quodcumque suis mutatum finibus exit Continuo hoc mors est illius quod fuit ante’. I see, on looking again at the context, that I may have been somewhat misusing the great man’s words, which are also about the survival, rather than the death, of things participating in change. But it could be argued that serious political change is always exitus e finibus, a departure from certain hitherto fixed and important boundaries: death and new life.

    • I don’t speak for BDS but many of us want reform of the existing situation in Palestine/Israel to the extent that no Palestinians are denied their rights. Reform does not imply the destruction of anyone involved in the process but it’s true that reform in all cases implies the end or death of some existing thing. But that cannot mean that reform is an inherently destructive, rather than a sometimes life-giving, process.

  • A party for Jewry's phantom limb
    • As to the ancient homeland - there’s no doubt that 2000 years ago there existed - and had existed for some time - a Kingdom generally called ‘of the Jews’ or ‘of Judaea’., though it was based in the land everyone for many centuries had called, by a usage acceptable among Jews too, ‘Palestine’.
      Things in legitimate historical dispute include the true antiquity of this kingdom and the degree of the connection both biologically and culturally between the peoples of that time and the peoples of now. Beyond that there is the question of what moral implications, if any, these connections have.
      The phrase ‘ancient homeland’ is used for the elision or erasure of these questions and for the invocation of an emotional response and
      so could be said to be mythopoetic rather than scientific.
      Virgil has a powerful discussion of ‘ancient homeland’, ‘antiqua mater’. Though he embraces the term he does show that it springs from the religious needs and political imperatives of the time when it is embraced, not just from the facts of the past.

  • The real reasons Trump is quitting Unesco
    • I thought that it was unwise for the Waqf not to allow, for the sake of full information, some participation by Israeli archaeologists when they wanted to dig beneath their property. However, we should note that the Sifting Project, which involves examining the rubble, is now losing its funding because, I think, of persistent failure to find anything interesting.

    • The debris removal caused the 'sifting' to be undertaken.

    • You clearly know more about Ms Azoulay than I do, mc. I didn't know she had Moroccan connections. Mind you, that is surely a connection with one of the most right wing and one of the least pro-Palestinian parts of the Arab cosmos? Thanks for kind word anyway

    • The newly elected leader of Unesco, Audrey Azoulay, a former French minister, is well qualified, I'm sure. But the fact that a Euro Jewish candidate was successful against a Qatari, whose regime has a record of support for Hamas, tells us something about the attitudes of the Unesco electorate, quite possibly that Trump has scared them. We won't see many more pro-Palestinian decisions in a hurry, I think.

  • Balfour at 100: A legacy of racism and propaganda
    • I find it hard to class Balfour, who denounced much anti-Semitic behaviour as abominable and objected to discrimination against Jewish people in Britain, as an anti-Semite. For a more balanced, though not at all uncritical, discussion see Brian Klug 'The Other Balfour' (2013). He did think that there was a certain otherness about Jews in the West but this was also the view taken by the Zionist stream of Jewish thought that most influenced him, so it's not a clear reflection of prejudice in anti-Jewish form. He was the heir to three centuries of Anglo-American, especially Scottish, Christian Zionism and believed, as did Lloyd George, that he was acting in the spirit of the Bible and doing God's work. He was wrong about that in my view.
      The words 'fictionalised image' of Jews in reference to Buchan mean that Buchan, writing political fiction, invented a character, Franklin Scudder, who believed in this anti -Semitic - also very anti-capitalist - image. The narrative does not bear out thus aspect of Scudder's
      interpretation of events. Scudder is an American, though he is in British Intelligence employ, and a person of some racial feeling - he uses 'you're a white man' as a compliment. I think Buchan was satirising or subverting certain American attitudes in the period of neutrality. Pointing out the rightness and sacredness of the British cause to the overwhelmingly important and English speaking neutral power was of course a major British objective.
      The Balfour Declaration was an evil deed. It came partly from a belief that the British Empire would gain suppprt for the future but mainly from misplaced idealism and religious conviction.

  • Danish pension fund blacklists four Israeli companies linked to settlements
    • If the Danes who disapprove of the 'Occupation' were going after Jews they would surely have done something negative about the people they would most be able to annoy or boycott, i.e. the Jews of Denmark. The Jewish community in Denmark is certainly uneasy, according to its website, about Islamist attacks but it seems to have no fear of Danes in general or of the Danish state. Emigration by Danish Jews to Israel has not been massive, not enough at any rate to produce a marked reduction in the size of the resident Jewish community.

  • Wichita teacher sues Kansas for denying her work because she boycotts Israel
    • Ms. Koontz is certainly being disadvantaged for being involved in a boycott, which is a way of discouraging her free expression, which on the whole is morally undesirable., being a way of making people who are doing nothing illegal suffer for their dissent from the majority or official view. I suppose the argument is going to develop over the idea that she is being counter-boycotted by a public authority with its own rights of free expression. I hope that this argument doesn't work because any idea of a right to speak, modelled on the rights of individuals, attributed to the group or collective amounts to a right to limit by intimidation the rights of individuals from which our reflections started, thus threatening to render our ideas inconsistent.

  • The low-rent bullying of the Zionist ideologue
    • My sympathy, Ellen. I've had my head bitten off in a rather surprising context too. It may be troubled conscience and insecurity behind the bluster and boasting. But more than that I think it's the immense moral stature of Israel and Zionism, supposed to be the proud answer of humanity and democracy to Nazism and tyranny, which makes even the least hint of disapproval of things Israeli, even of things that would receive instant indignation elsewhere, seem barbarous and disgusting. The likes of us find it hard to understand how far from the conventional moral centre of our own societies we are and we get occasional harsh reminders, don't we? A long road and a dark night.

  • Miko Peled on free speech and Zionism
    • Restrictions on free speech in case of extreme emergency are generally accepted and the obvious likelihood of immediate illegal violence is generally accepted as a sufficient emergency. John Stuart Mill gave the example of the right to say that corn merchants starve the poor, which he says may be restricted when there is a crowd of poor people outside a corn merchant's house. But these are still restrictions on free speech. It's still freedom that you are restricting. But it seems to me that the whole idea of free speech collapses unless extremely stringent criteria are used to define the emergency. In particular the anger and distress arising from hearing words you hate hearing mustn't be allowed in itself to constitute a social emergency. We mustn't get to the point where you can't say that corn merchants starve the poor in front of an audience of corn merchants. (All right, I find it harder to say that when the personal attack is against me or even some outrageous, repetitious and horrible things are said on Mondoweiss but I suppose I should still say it.) I would be very hard to convince that assertions referring only to the past would create emergency - negative assessments of the British Empire endangering British lives, perhaps. That could happen, surely, only if these assertions were combined with some more direct anti-British agitation and then it would be this direct agitation that caused the problem.

    • There is a distinction between a) thinking it one's duty, or at least thinking it reasonable, to provide a platform on one's own initiative for the exponents of certain ideas to express those ideas b) thinking it reasonable to provide a platform concerning other matters for people who in fact favour those ideas c) by contrast, refusing to provide such d) going further and forbidding or disrupting any attempt by anyone else to make that provision.
      Only the last, d), is rejection of free speech. The third, c) is really a form of boycott, which is in general an exercise of free speech: it becomes a personal boycott, we might say, if it extends to a person regardless of subject under discussion - if the Rabbit Society will not invite an authority on the mating habits of the British Blue because he frequently lauds apartheid.
      The first, a), extends the right of free speech into a right to be listened to or not to be ignored - which isn't generally valid but might be in some cases.
      Whether MP would accept this list I'm not sure. But if he means that view d) should not be taken (maybe apart from certain emergencies, like the well-known 'fire in the theatre'; presumably apart from privately run discussions, like Mondoweiss) of anyone, even of Holocaust deniers and of Nakba deniers, I would agree, for the usual liberal reasons: these deniers have their freedom of speech. (To say this is not to drop even a hint that either the HDs or the NDs actually have a point.) If he also means that HDs, NDs and sundry others have no right to be listened to and that everyone has a right to abstain from inviting or publicising them I'd agree with that too.

  • Anti-blackness and the core logic of Zionism
    • I agree that it's only when we are able without causing scandal to avoid defensive responses, which are very weakening even when entirely sincere and well-founded, to accusations of anti-S that we can level the rhetorical playing field.

  • Hamas and Fatah sign unity deal, but details remain unclear
    • I willingly concede your greater understanding of these things, jon - you're a man on the spot. But from my distance it looks like Hamas, much the more hostile Palestinian force, has given up its freedom of action - would the Egyptians have patronised a deal which didn't at least clip H's wings severely? This does seem to me like a plus for Israel.

    • Maybe the goal of 'as much of Palestine is possible' is getting closer, with Hamas in effect renouncing independent action and clearing the way for a 2ss in Israel-dictated form, since it has long seemed likely that Abbas would sign anything put in front of him. Or maybe there will be no 2ss even when the opportunity to dictate terms is available. Either way, another Israeli triumph? Yet another.

  • The 13 questions on life in Palestine that non-Palestinians always ask me
    • Very clear information, though I'd be sorry to have the name Palestine, which has been in continuous use for the whole river to sea area for 25 and more centuries, restricted to the pocket of territory which is 'occupied territory' now.

  • From Greta Gerwig to NYU, Israel has deep reservoir of cultural support in U.S.
    • That is an interesting claim, m6, and would affect interpretation of the play. It is not supported by the Royal Shakespeare Company notes on the play's origins. Most credit is given to a work of fiction, Il Pecorone of 1558 by Giovanni Fiorentino, where the Jew is the bad guy.

  • Do not turn the Balfour Declaration into a holy Jewish text
    • Who have you in mind?

    • An important point. The War Cabinet, a rather extraordinary institution of which Balfour was not a member, was not wholly British but represented the British Empire. However, those two concepts, British and British imperial, were very much intertwined in those days.

    • Well, Citizen, I've respected your views for many years and have read that allempires passage and I think it's very controversial, as indeed the comments show. I don't think that there's any documentary proof or even any real suggestion of commitment to Zionism by the British Government - of course there was long-standing sympathy from some of its members, but that's a different thing - in 1916. The Somme battle was raging from July to November, and the French were fighting at Verdun. The upshot in both places was that the great German Army had for the first time ever been forced to fall back and had endured losses that it was less able than its adversaries to make good. The one and only attempt by the German High Seas Fleet to break out into the North Sea had failed, which committed the Germans more and more to antagonising the United States (whose underlying aim was to avoid a surge in Japanese power through the collapse of Russia) by a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare.
      Reading the first hand account of the Battle of the Ancre, the last phase of the Somme, by Edmund Blunden, who wasn't a bloodthirsty militarist (Undertones of War), you don't get the impression that Britain was on its ass. I don't think the Government thought so abjectly, either.
      Perhaps there's little point in disputing exactly how bad things were. There was a terrible problem and anything that might help would be attempted. I suppose that my view is that military desperation was less important in the origin of the Balfour Declaration than some say and pro-Jewish sympathies and ideology - Christian Zionism - more important. Those forces are very important now.

    • Just to add that I think that Brian Klug on 'The Other Balfour', published by the Balfour Project in 2013, is quite good on B's personal opinions.

    • I keep recommending the account of Balfour in Margaret Macmillan's 'Peacemakers'. The reference to the non-Jewish communities was insincere, and the Press was immediately briefed that the real meaning was 'Palestine for the Jews'. Balfour and Lloyd George were strong Christian Zionists, in no serious sense anti-Semites: Balfour was often on hand to oppose discrimination against Jews in British society. It's true that they were trying to win the War and thought that the support from American Jewry would be good, but America had been in the War for more than 6 months and was preparing a mighty army shortly to arrive in France, so it was a hardly a desperate measure to secure support.
      I've no idea why it should be a sacred Jewish text. It is British and Christian. 'English' is not too appropriate, since Balfour was every inch a Scottish Presbyterian and LlG was extremely Welsh. But there had been an English CZ tradition, by then 300 years old, which combined with the Scottish one to devastating effect - and of course they knew of American opinion represented for decades by the Blackstone Memorial. Anyway, it's a disgrace to my dear country.

  • An Atheist in the Yeshiva: The education of Yossi Zvi Gurvitz
    • Or see my 'An Israeli Sparta - from Finkelstein to Hecataeus' kindly published here on January 29, 2014.

    • And as to the massive power of Christian Zionist propaganda, people might like to look at the current article by Mark Chancey at 'The Bible and Interpretation' about the Museum of the Bible about to open, despite some serious scandals, in Washington and its major connection with propaganda tourism in Israel.

    • I fully agree, rico, that the end of the era of exclusion and disfranchisement in Palestine and the arrival of equal rights for all will make the whole world better off. But I don't think that the majority of the human race has any clear wish for Zionism to come to an end. There is a huge international consensus outside the Muslim world for the 2ss, I think, ie 'liberal Zionism' in our terms. There is puzzlement why it hasn't happened, since it's so obviously the right thing and a sort of impatience with the 'extremists on both sides' who must be to blame. The evidence, I think, is in the oft-stated attitudes of the leadership in the West and the absence of any clear dissent in mainstream Western public opinion or in any really powerful force In the international arena. The likes of us are still moral outsiders.

  • A plea to Israel: Don't start the third Lebanon War
  • Zohra Drif's memoir of Algeria's fight for freedom is stunning
    • I think Eva shows how difficult it is to see both sides of the coin or all sides of the polyhedron in an objective and balanced way. The Hobbes/Dostoyevsky situation in which everything is permitted can possibly arise in human affairs. Hobbes took the view that the only logical response to that sort of situation is to get out of it and to forget about rights of revenge. I keep thinking that he must be right but sometimes I wonder.

    • I've been following Jackdaw's suggestion a few steps further. Amy Hibbell mentions the two highly articulate victims, Guiraud and Michel-Chich, and states that Drif 'has kept a cool distance from those she wounded and has remained apparently unresponsive to their testimony', which expresses her attitude clearly enough, as does her citation of French Revolutionary proclamations. On the other side, M-Chich is attempting a degree of mutual understanding and reconciliation, though this meets from Drif only with her policy of cool,distance. Guiraud (whose general views are clearly right-wing) takes a much angrier view, writing of Drif's attack on her and others 'Heroisme et feminisme, cela? Ou plutot imposture et sinistre opportunisme'. Well, this view too deserves to be considered.
      We can indeed reply 'tu quoque' to Jackdaw and the Zionists. But 'tu quoque' is not completely consoling because it often implies 'ego quoque'.
      If Rule 5 has come here to die I hope for its resurrection and implementation.

    • See Amy Hibbelll, 'Scandalous Memory' (Modern Languages Association, 2015). No names of those killed are given, but two of the wounded and amputated, still living, are named as Nicole Guiraud and Danielle Michel-Chich. Guiraud is the angrier of the two, Michel-Chich keeps trying to rise above such things but keeps failing because her damaged body reminds her every day. These two women do deserve a place in memory, as Jackdaw implies. I've been mentioning our rules a bit recently, mainly in the context of Nakba denial - which I, not that I'm in any kind of authority, take to extend to Nakba justification. This article about Drif seems to come very close to celebration of a violent act, contrary to rule 5.

  • Balfour Declaration, now 100, was 'gun pointed at heads' of Palestinians -- Khalidi
  • Samuel Freedman extols Jewish 'love affair' with Jewish state-- while decrying 'dogma of white supremacy'
    • Real people and things are never abstract concepts - they are observed and experienced. Abstraction is the process of observing characteristics present in several real things - green, round etc. - and 'pulling them out' in one's thoughts or concepts, at which level they exist by themselves to be thought about - 'green is a pleasant colour' - without special reference to any particular instance of a green thing. Jews certainly have the characteristic of humanity and therefore all human rights. 'Human' and 'Jewish' are both abstract terms. If we define them we can begin to discuss what rights are implied by having that term applied. With humanity the traditional 'rational animal' seems like quite a good definition.

    • Colonialism (if = placement of a population from elsewhere) may in some of its examples be considered without contradiction as the fulfilment of long-held aspiration of the group that does the colonising. Which of these aspects of the activity is more significant morally is another matter.

    • My definition of Z is 'the belief that people who are Jewish, and they only, have an inherent right (now commonly called a birthright) to a share of sovereignty over the Holy Land, others only by the grace and generosity of the true heirs'. I disagree with that proposition.
      I'm happy to work with other definitions if they are put forward.

  • 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
    • As to the Whiteness of Jewish people - it was not always claimed. Isaiah Berlin said that Lewis Namier (Ludwik Bersztajn vel Niemirow), on their first meeting replied to a German Nazi visitor to Oxford, who spoke of the reasonableness of German claims, with the words 'Wir Juden und die andere Forbiger denken anders'. He then stalked out.

    • We still do not have an explanation, despite reasonable and polite request, of the disowned words to which Ossinev draws attention. I think that Jeff is a persona, not a person but a team or a committee. This, like the Nakba justification which characterises 'his' output, seems to me contrary to our rules.

    • 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 itself...to 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?

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