Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 4108 (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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  • What's wrong with colonialism?
    • To say that something is wrong is to define what a better situation would be like, ie one in which the wrongful elements were absent. But we should not confuse an idea of a better situation with a plan to bring that better situation about, which is another matter.
      My understanding of Avigail (some of whose views of colonialism I don’t fully share) is that she answers the question of ‘what is wrong with steady elimination of a culture?’ by saying ‘it’s just like continual rape’. The better situation therefore would be one where force and contempt were replaced with cooperation and respect, which does imply equal rights, which in turn implies the end of Palestinian disfranchisement. It is objected that the Palestinians will not consider this possible unless the Jewish population is massively reduced in numbers and cultural power with, as it were, the rapists raped. But we cannot for ever refrain from trying to help or rescue victims by the fear that they will turn into victimisers. Avigail comes from a therapeutic point of view, so she doesn’t despair of finding a positive way.

  • Facing serious damage to its image, Israel must smear its critics as anti-Semites
    • Corbyn has been very strict in enforcing the anti-anti- Semitism policy, if that is what it should be called. No mercy, no common sense even, at least until the receipt of undue apologies, for Naz Shah MP, who had transmitted a minor pleasantry from Norman Finkelstein. I don’t believe a Corbyn givernment would take a very strong line on Palestine.

  • What MLK's 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' tells us about Ahed Tamimi in a cold Israeli cell
    • ‘From Dan to Beersheba’ was a favourite phrase of Lloyd George, that great Christian Zionist.

    • I often refer to Margaret Macmillan’s ‘Peacemakers’ which makes it fairly clear that Balfour was not sincere in his reference to the rights of non-Jews. The Press was immediately briefed that it was ‘Palestine for the Jews’. No one had a right to put this into effect but enough people thought that it was God’s will for the outrage to be perpetrated.

    • We tend to blame everything on donors but I think that King, like Niebuhr, was responding to something he generally believed. I regret very much what King did say but he was not, I think, someone who could just be bought by Zionist or other money.

    • I think it’s fairly clear that King was not forced to abandon his Pilgrmage by the War (he stated that ‘danger’ scarcely existed) but by his decision - this is in a cinversation in mid-67 reported by a participant and as I recall recorded by the FBI - that he could not emerge with reputation unscathed. He’d be ‘damned if he said this and damned if he said that’. He would be taken as supporting all that Israel had done, a matter on which ‘I do have questions of doubt’. He was not unlimited in his Zionism, though I don’t think that his ‘questions of doubt’ were ever to be openly articulated. As you know, I regret the line he took - we can observe nuances, though. Their existence is enough to show that he was thinking about the matter, not just letting others put words into his mouth or thoughts into his brain. He was a complex man, with Questions of Doubt not so different from those of some white moderates.

    • There was an element of discretion about King’s support for Israel. He may have started from neutrality - there’s little hint of Zionist language or anti-Z critique in his 1959 sermon about his Palestine visit. Latterly Palestine was coming to be an extremely difficult point in the relationship between King and his friend and rival Carmichael. I can’t deny that he went the Zionist way when questioned but his unequivocal statements are mainly to Jewish correspondents and audiences. He avoided taking the lead on the matter when it came up in the near-disastrous 1967 Conference of New Politucs. I don’t think he ever quite said in a public speech or in writing that anti-Z is always anti-Semitism - this would have signalled sharp alienation from Carmichael. He perhaps saw that it is extremely hard, particularly for a leader, always to speak out openly and clearly.

    • He had visited the West Bank - one of the fairly few distinguished Westerners of the time to do so - in its Jordanian days and he must have been aware of some of the darker side of the situation pre-67. He wasn’t just a parochial American, seeing no further than the segregated streets of Alabama, and he wasn’t one to let others simply write his scripts. He was a liberal Protestant intellectual inclined to think along the same lines as Reinhold Niebuhr. Those two did tremendous damage among the liberal intellectual classes in respect of the ME, their motivation being to atone for the partial embrace of Nazism by Euro Protestants and to repair the through-ages damage done by Christians to Jews. The mindset they encouraged can be seen in the November 75 manifesto signed by many distinguished followers of King in the NYT.

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  • Vic Mensa's searing piece in 'Time' on Israeli oppression is prefaced by clunky disclaimer re anti-Semitism
    • Speaking defensively in part of one’s argument in anticipation of an attack that is certain to come may or may not be effective rhetorically but is not grovelling.

    • I agree that lethal violence is worse in principle than violence that is only injurious. But injurious violence, especially if repeated time and again, can be very bad and highly scandalous. Is that seriously questioned?

    • Many thanks for drawing attention to this essay, Phil. It’s possible that Mensa would have wanted, without too much editorial prompting, to open with an emphatic disclaimer of the prejudice of which he was bound to be accused. The Time headline, in which he allegedly learns about American racism from experience in Palestine, is much more obviously written from another point of view, not his - he was in fact using his experience of American racism, ‘being the nigger’, to understand and communicate the enormity of anti-Palestinian racism and religious fanaticism. But this way of putting things would not be acceptable in Western mainstream thought.
      My only quibble with the article here is that it makes Mensa, at least on first reading, look like a direct eyewitness to a punch in the face delivered to an old lady, whereas I think he says, when he comes to be quoted, only that he saw video of such shocking events.

  • From Spinoza to Vilkomerson, Jewish voices for peace have long been banned-- by Jews
    • Perhaps we all find ourselves in situations where there is something we ought to do but the cost is more than we can bear. I hope I didn’t sound too self-righteous. However, a boycott is an infliction of loss, even suffering, on its targets and is therefore a breach of fraternity wherever fraternity had previously existed. If the boycott does not inflict much physical loss then the psychological loss becomes more important. If moral law requires that this loss be inflicted by me then I mustn’t flinch from the idea that it may have, as part of the very same thing, to be inflicted on me. I think that it is very important to make clear, when you’re acting on a moral principle, that that is what you are doing - and your readiness to lose something important to you is a very important token of your sincerity. Israelis, if justifiably boycotted, may not be our enemies but we can’t conceal that we are at variance with them. If the point is to put pressure on the Israeli Government by means of a boycott then that pressure remains and is no less if we maintain it despite family links. If we give it up because of family links we weaken the pressure we were supppsed to apply.

    • There certainly was a lot of Christian hostility to Spinoza and some other people who took views similar to his suffered worse than censure and excommunication. I don’t think that it’s absurd to see the Jewish community as concerned for its reputation. Nor of course to see it as simply scandalised both by S’s ideas and by his imperturbable nature, which would probably have been found maddening by religious leaders used to being able to shame their followers and not used to people who answered back. That’s not a monopoly Jewish characteristic, of course.
      The 1650s and 1660s were also the time of the very delicate matter of the return of openly practised Jewish worship to England, where again scandal would have been a problem. Fortunately Charles II was friendly with Hobbes, in some (some) ways the Anglican Spinoza. And he liked people who might lend him money and thus begin the transformation of his offshore island into a world power.

    • Yonah has a point, I think. The Jews of Amsterdam were rich and powerful but would not have welcomed a scandal enabling Christians to call them a bunch of atheists.

    • I agree with echino against RV.. One of my problems with boycotts is that some people may support them with enthusiasm but without having to pay much personal cost and thus may be demanding of others sacrifices that they do not have to make themselves. But it may still be true that a boycott is the right thing in some circumstances. If it is then we each have to face up to what the personal costs may be. We may decide that the costs are personally unbearable in which case I think that we have to draw back from the boycott movement or at least from any prominent position within it. I’m a bit surprised that people whose BDS commitment is the ostensible cause of Israel’s ire against them should think fit to exempt their own family visits snd should not have inflicted ‘the pain of exclusion ’ upon theselves. Campaigns with this sort of toxic mixture of politics and religion have always the sort of thing that divides father against son, as Jesus noted.

  • Finally a 'New York Times' columnist says liberal Zionism is dead
    • That transition is certainly not easy to imagine. The idea of Israeli agreement in advance seems inconceivable. The idea of agreement by the SA Whites to the end of the regime that favoured them also seemed, and indeed was, inconceivable until there was a major change in world circumstances with the end of the Cold War. So might need another change as momentous as that, which isn’t visibly on the horizon. Still, the transition doesn’t seem utterly beyond all hope, since we have the example of the SA transition before us.

  • Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as capital of 'Jewish people' is assault on my religion -- Queens rabbi
    • I googled David S! The mistake as to first name is understandable since the real David S is a well-known figure on the NY cultural scene, a poet and art historian.

  • Israel issues BDS blacklist against 20 organizations-- 'badge of honor,' Munayyer says
  • Stop talking about Ahed Tamimi's hair
    • I don’t think that the phrase is inappropriate or unconventional. The Muslim Law (Shariah) Council of the UK refers on its website to verdicts, delivered simply and concisely, by a council consisting of imams, scholars and people of legal training.
      A condemnation of Ms. Tamimi by a pharisaic court is not too unlikely.
      The point I was making was that Joan, who has been compared, was a divisive figure in her own time, place and culture and that the religious weapons of the time could be turned against her. She was condemned to death by a bishop’s court. Ms. Tamimi seems much more unifying and will not suffer anything analogous to Joan’s experience.

    • She gives fewer hostages to religious fortune than Jeanne did. She will not be condemned to death by a court of pro-Israel imams.

    • The mind boggles utterly, Joseph, I agree. Yet it may be true that in Israeli terms he is not an extremist. O mi God!

  • Haaretz smears the Tamimi family to counter worldwide solidarity with 16-year-old Ahed
  • If you genuinely back the Palestinian cause, you must support the right of return
  • Israeli prosecutors try to make Ahed Tamimi a terrorist
    • A fair compromise, generally accepted as such, would imply end of conflict, I think. A mere proposal, not yet accepted, would not imply that - but it would be immensely clarifying even if not immediately acceptable.
      End of conflict as an aspiration doesn’t mean much. Specified terms for the end of conflict constitute a step beyond aspiration.
      The right of return arises once someone becomes a refugee, which follows from the fact that no one should be made into a refugee. I think that the right lapses once a refugee or a descendant of refugees accepts citizenship elsewhere - which they do not have to do. It may be that there is, over time. a form of tacit consent that makes a refugee into a citizen of the place where (s)he now lives but on the whole I think that explicit consent is looked for.. Without that relocation by consent the rights of refugees - or of each refugee - are eternal. They don’t cease to exist or become morally null. However it is sometimes necessary for one’s own and the general good to accept in any context rather less than one deserves: the right exists but is not quite absolute. But we should be wary of asking others to accept less than they deserve: that smacks of elevating personal convenience rather too high.

    • Another part of the Palestinian grievance, I would think, is that the area where Israeli sovereignty is exercised is an area of minority rule enforced by disfranchisement. Wouldn’t like that if it was done to me. Can’t believe the Palestinian are that different at this point.

    • I think, in reply to Nathan’s comparisons (which are relevant) with things Czech and Cypriot, that the current situation in the Czech lands is that the organisation representing Sudeten Germans has given up its attempts to gain restoration of property in return for the Czechs’ no longer seeking an opt-out from the Euro Charter of Fundamental Rights - this will probably permit some minor increase in the German presence in Cz. In Cyprus an Immovable Property Commission has been established which is making some progress on Greek Cypriot property in Northern C. The Euro Court of Human Rights has decided that it will not hear any further Greek Cypriot property claims unless they have first been pursued through the IPC. I agree that Courts will tend to nudge contesting parties towards practical compromise and that they will not try to uphold ancient rights in full and for ever., though they will not forget them. Whether a practical compromise will one day be found in Palestine that everyone can live with I don’t know. All this makes me want to remind everyone when opportunity arises how outrageous were the events of 48: that is, I don’t want the Palestinians’ ancient right to come any closer to the near oblivion which Western governments plan for it. Also, if - if - there is to be a restoration of legality through compromise the essential first step is an Israeli statement of what in their view a fair compromise would be.

    • I’ ve said before and say again that I think we should - I think it’s really important - stick to our rules against advocating violence and indeed against making personal attacks. However, even I find it hard to censure violence such as we started discussing here, which is of symbolic rather than injurious nature.

  • The trauma of being Palestinian
    • They are much more aware, I have no doubt of it. I once, to resort to anecdote, bought a large can of Palestinian olive oil from our local third world store in Reading, capital of the Royal County of Berkshire, a real haunt of the UK middle classes, and drew a couple of comments from strangers in a short time about how important it was ‘to help them’. I also note the coments section of resoectable publications, such as the Washington Post, where it is clear that the likes of us of us are not alone nor even willdly eccentric. But we are nowhere among the political class.

    • You think so, Joseph? Are there early signs that we can see?

  • Why Ahed Tamimi's slap is so thrilling to Palestinians
    • Pam Ayers really has a Berkshire accent. The Vale of White Horse, from which she comes, was traditionally in Berkshire. As to rapacious people the verse of Deuteronomy ‘Cursed be he who removeth a neighbour’s landmark’ should be remembered.

  • Jewish activist who counseled Lorde on BDS gets the full 'kapo' treatment in the Israeli press
    • ‘Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil’ is a saying of Israelite origin, surely with Israelite multitudes in mind.

  • Why liberal Zionists have nothing to say about Ahed Tamimi's slap and arrest
    • Settlements, in the sense of using the outcome of a war to take over property, at least beyond some reasonable indemnity (agreed at the time or receiving clear acquiescence later), are pretty plainly immoral, so illegal under any reasonable law. What can they be but plunder?

  • Writing about what should be done to girls in the dark is incitement to sexual assault -- Shany Littman to Ben Caspit
    • I think that it’s important to emphasise Littman’s point that even if we accept C’s disavowal of sexual threats he is still wrong to talk of the price being paid at night. If at all possible law enforcement should be done in the light and with witnesses and it should not be regarded as exacting a price but as making it possible to find out whether a price should be exacted, whether there is any defence or even excuse. The whole idea is to stand for law rather than violence, for reason rather than passion, for decency rather than savagery. So price paid at night is a sinister phrase. In the end it isn’t possible for an armed organisation to represent these things before the world if it is constantly suppressing an unarmed population where it has no political support.

  • New Israeli train line with station named after Trump was built on stolen Palestinian land
    • I think that everyone knows and always has known that simply to march into a country from elsewhere, to kill and take possession, is a terrible wrong, though much of the evidence for this comes in the presentation of special reasons why it is after all allowed in some specific case. We can’t undo the past but we can do our best to see that the bad things of past times are not being visited every day on new or continuing victims, in particular that no one remains disfranchised, exiled or part of a that is not sovereign. There were bad things in what is now England during the 500s, my Welsh ancestors having much to resent about my English ones. But there are now no Welsh refugees calling for their right of return, no mass of non-English disfranchised.

  • Zionism didn't have to turn out so badly for Palestinians, says Roger Cohen
    • It is inconceivable that the arrival of armed immigrants proclaiming ‘this land is ours’ could ever turn out well in generality for the other inhabitants.

  • The New York Times tries to make the Ahed Tamimi story go away
    • Sir Alan Duncan comes to mind as a critic of Israel who survives in leading Conservative circles. They’re not too thick on the ground, I admit. But I don’t think there’s any logical reason why people who believe in capitalism rather socialism or in traditional rather than novel institutions shouldn't also believe in human rights or shouldn’t recognise the imperfect nature of human rights in Palestine sufficiently to deny the proclaimed moral principles of Z. I hope that more of them will join our side. Many people who are progressive in the sense of being critical of traditional institutions make great play of human rights and there is something poignant about the career of those few in those progressive circles who have tried to point out the importance of Palestine and have been abandoned by their friends and at least to an extent unpersoned Orwell style. It was spooky to read three obituaries, NY Times, W Post, LA Times which dwelt exclusively on her (slightly strange) earlier career as a pro-Black writer and made no mention (in the LA case a few words which would convey almost nothing to those not in the know) of her pro-Palestinian phase. Something poignant about her situation, something sinister about what they did. But it worked, did it not? Grace Halsell is all but forgotten.

    • The words of Grace Halsell, quoted above, are a remarkable illustration of what PEP (as Phil has led us to call them) have been like for so long. All very poignant. I note that Ms. Halsell’s NY Times obituary says nothing at about her work in the ME, which thus became an un-event.

    • It is indeed a ‘neat microcosm’ of the whole civilisation vs. terrorism theatre of absurdity. And it will be believed with no resistance by very many readers, including all readers who are politicians. She not only screw she’d but screamed in her own language!

  • 'We should exact a price' from Ahed Tamimi 'in the dark,' Israeli journalist says
    • Well, they seem to have handed a big propaganda weapon to the Palestinians and to our side in the dispute in the West.

  • The never-ending crisis of Zionism
    • Maybe Lorde would be lynched in Gaza. If so, it speaks well for her that she is prepared to sacrifice quite a lot of money to defend the rights of people who would despise her.

    • Nor me, Atlanta. But I think it is sufficient to have a definite preference for the Big O to be not on,y ended but replaced by a Second State - that’s what lets you meet the definition of a liberal Zionist. LZ is compatible with almost absurd patience about making the change, a patience found in all leading Western political figures.
      Season’s greetings to one and all.

    • What would the real Arabs, if they had a sincere wish to inform him - and so the rest of us here - say to Phil?

    • Maybe Olmert put forward a proposal that should have been taken seriously - but like some other initiatives his action is in the past. We need, however we judge the past, something in the present.

    • I agree, echino, that there is very little ground for optimism. Yet another year goes by with this miserable situation rolling on and on.

    • ‘Well’ says Big Wolf returning from the sheepfold looking well fed ‘how sad this persistent anti-lycist propaganda makes one! We are the reasonable animals here and it’s all the fault of those bloodthirsty herbivores. They keep bleating at each other, you know, when we want to discuss carnivore business. They don’t even understand that our ancestors were hunting in this area - where their dirty, weedy meadow (ugh!) is now - thousands of years ago when it was all beautiful and primeval. So it’s mine, all mine, I tell you. They make me sick - Well, not literally, since I eat a few when I have to. But they pain me as an animal of high moral standards. This I can prove by my obvious readiness to discuss with them some reduction in my food needs’. I may not believe a word of this but the majority of the audience applauds.
      However strongly I hold my belief I need as many reasons as I can get. So I ask for him to support his claims to be reasonable by acting reasonably according to what are his own proclaimed standards. If he doesn’t it will perhaps become clearer that he is not a truthful beast. If he does, perhaps the way to better things may be opened up, who knows?

    • Neither the hostility of Palestinians towards Israel nor the inability of the Palestinians to avoid violent disagreement among themselves (if all that is true) constitutes a good reason for Israel not to state what exactly it would consider to be fair terms for a final arrangement. That would actually be the first step in negotiation. If there was no response that might be considered the fault of the other side. But it isn’t their fault that they have nothing to respond to.

  • Trump threatens to cut aid to countries voting against Jerusalem decision at UN
  • In video tours of Palestine, Nas Daily plays native informant
    • Well, this was my new information for the day - I hadn’t heard of Nas and his videos before. They are very bright and forceful.
      I don’t mind his total avoidance of Marxist terminology but I have a problem with his ‘move on’ prescription when it seems that he could not follow it himself - or only in the over-literal sense of moving out to the United States. Not everyone can do that and how do those who are not paragons, able to transform their situation through world-class universities, manage to move on into some tolerable existence? If there is a way to move on in the sense he calls for that way must be opened up by, at very, very least, an Israeli statement of the terms of final settlement that Israel would consider fair, which even if it were completely unacceptable as it stood might make realistic
      negotiations thinkable.
      Nas is what we call on Mondoweiss a 2-stater or liberal Z. He is rather typical of them (we must accept that there are lots of them, some very important) in his breezy optimism but it seems to me that optimism
      becomes wilful blindness if it does not issue in any call for any specific action, even for the minimal step which I mention.
      It’s all very well to say that we mustn’t dwell on the past for ever but misleadingly bland statements about the past cause us to lose our sense of proportion. The crucial thing about 48 is not that many left or even, in a way, that many were killed, some very shamefully, but that such great numbers were excluded. That was a really terrible and the really consequential event.

  • US vetoes UN resolution on Jerusalem, as Muslim states recognize East Jerusalem as Palestine's capital
    • Hope is the younger sister, you know, of faith and charity.

    • I’m not convinced that 2ss is any more of a practical possibility than 1ss. But perhaps it is just within possibility that Israel should put forward, for all to see, what its idea of a fair permanent situation is. This should be a short term aim for liberal Zs too, I believe, if they have any sincerity.

    • The two state situation, I’ll not say solution, will not exist unless the current PA is converted into some semblance of a sovereign entity by a proposal coming from or at least endorsed by Israel. It would be a great help if Israel would make public what if would consider a fair long term solution. I think that all who claim to be liberal Zs should call for this to happen, loudly and often.

  • Israeli Jews 'will never accept' giving vote to Palestinians -- liberal Zionist leader
    • I think it’s not going to be easy to discard the term ‘liberal Z’, especially on Mondoweiss, where we have more or less canonised it. It has come to mean ‘those who believe in a 2ss’ - I don’t say ‘the 2ss’ because no such thing may exist even in conception - and who claim or suppose that support for 2ss makes them ‘favour the rights’ of the Palestinians. The great majority of non-Jewish Zionists, including almost all the political and religious (at least non-Muslim) leaders of the Western world, are liberal in this sense. You may say it’s not much of a sense, and I’d agree.
      There is another group, close akin, who regard themselves as anti-Z but who think that a 2ss is a pragmatic possibility, which may seriously be doubted - and better than the status quo. I’d agree that if it could happen it would be an improvement, though still screamingly unjust and very illiberal - but could it happen? Annie years ago said here that if were possible it would have happened long since - and I think there’s much truth in that.

  • Anti-Christianism
    • I think that American opinion is nowhere near blaming a racial or religious minority, not even Muslims, for any woes that they may attribute to givernment economic policy. I don’t think that Western Jews need fear anti-Semitism in any form beyond that of very small minorities. I would like them to listen to rational critique of the policies discussed here and so strongly suppprted by organised Jewish opinion.

    • Attitudes going with membership of a religious group are a bit different from the core beliefs of the group. The evangelical characters in the cartoon seem to have no Christian characteristics or at least no beliefs that could be regarded as core Christianity. The father doesn’t say that Moore has accepted Jesus as his personal saviour, so can make free with his daughters, which would be grotesque but close enough to some Christian beliefs to be satirical mockery thereof. The mother doesn’t speak of Genesis or creation science or say that Trump can take away her healthcare so long as there can be prayer in schools.

  • Ibrahim 'the half bodied,' an icon of Gaza skirmishes, loses his other half for Jerusalem
    • Where to start is difficult indeed. I would agree that if Trump is going to act as a mediator his suggestions should not be dismissed lightly, though it may not be too difficult to dismiss them rationally. But the essence of mediation is to be, you know, in the middle, not to be identified from the start with one side. If it is presumed that his proposal will have been pre-settled with the Israelis and then dictated to the Palestinians that is not mediation at all.

    • Oh come now, we have rules.

  • 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.

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