Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 3475 (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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  • Adelson delivered! Now it's Trump's turn
  • Why a Texas rabbi keeps losing a debate over Israel with a white nationalist leader
    • Ros, if I understand her, says that Christians form 'a people' only metaphorically. She (I hope I'm right in interpreting the name as female) has often made this point, I think reflecting a secularist conception of 'people' which I for one don't quite share and which for me doesn't play such a big part in the debate. My belief is that there are no political rights for some but not other members of a citizen body based on their belonging to a set of people which is a subset or intersecting set, such as those defined by religion or ancestry. Well, some exceptions for custom and general utility can be made but not of the radical sort that has people lose their homes or be mass-disfranchised.

    • The linkage arose because the rabbi was asked how his ideas about inclusiveness and love apply to Israel: does he believe all the implications of what he says? He might have replied 'Israel is not my concern and I'm not here to discuss it; you shouldn't make assumptions based on my being a rabbi'. Or perhaps 'Would we were as inclusive and loving as Israel', or 'I condemn Israel; let us never go down that road'. It seems that he could not quite bring himself to say any of these things. What do we make of this? Perhaps that it is difficult to reconcile liberal Judaism with any form of Zionism.
      The alternative, nationalist interpretation of Judaism offered from outside by Mr. Spencer has its anti-Semitic aspect, since he seems to distinguish Jewish people from 'his people', which seems to imply that Jewish people are somewhat out of place in the West, unable to fulfill themselves completely on the moral level. This is the sliver of common ground between Zionism and anti-Semitism - not a proof that Z is wrong, but interesting.

  • 'NYT' bias amazes: long article about online incitement in Israel/Palestine only blames Palestinians
    • You've led me to find out a little about the Palestinian Incitement Index, which the Israeli Government has been publishing for many years, with the latest edition coming in, I think, on Nov. 1 2016. It seems - maybe there are pages I haven't read - to be mainly a list of incidents rather than incitements, though the assertion that these are 'natural responses to Israeli crimes' is mentioned prominently. It seems to be accepted that there is little central organisation behind the incidents concerned, which in fact gives some credence to the idea that these things are not too dependent on incitement. Well, incitement must play some part, but there must be some element of restraint and moderation, which do seem to me in all the circumstances to be genuine Palestinian characteristics, as well.

  • It’s junket season again in Massachusetts
    • Warm welcomes and the sense of being an honoured guest can rather warp reality. I can remember when trips to the Soviet Union created a warm glow.

  • More than half of US aid 'to entire world' goes to Israel and it ignores our warnings on settlements -- Kerry
    • Absolutely, Citizen.

    • Kerry's remarks don't express tough love but weakness and endless hesitation. A non-vetoed Security Council resolution at this absurdly late stage would simply make the whole long Obama presidency look cowardly and not worth listening to. I see no reason for the upsurge of predictions of a major change in American, Western or Jewish attitudes to this problem or of Israeli loss of power or confudence.

  • Obama would have overwhelming support from US public to allow UN establishment of Palestinian state
    • This poll should be set beside the Pew Survey of America/Israel/Palestine in May of this year. There is obviously still a major balance of pro-Israel sympathy, making me too think that the Brookings findings are being interpreted over-enthusiastically. There is probably a certain drift 'our' way, but it is still on a small scale and quite plainly hasn't broken through the carapace of the political class, whose members do not significantly fear losing support by counter-boycotting BDS and officially defining anti-Z as anti-S.

    • His career would have stopped in its tracks without the patronage he received. He must have accepted assurances that Israel would respond reasonably to an enlightened and trustworthy 2-stater like himself, otherwise he would not have embarked on the policy that led him to such an embarrassing setback. His memoirs will be painful reading.

    • Maybe they could become quite important if they found some candidates for office who had that extra bit of appeal. I see that the Austrian Sanders has beaten the Austrian Trump quite convincingly.

  • US Senate quickly passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act
    • International committees of kings, presidents and judges - calling themselves the United Nations or the Founts of Wisdom or whatever - have no true power to make what is bad good, any more than they have to make what is green blue. The events of 48 were bad, an outrage, a scandal.
      I hope one day to see a referendum in Israel and Palestine appeovong a genuine settlements that sets this wrong somewhat right and approves a new and fair arrangement, but the hope is vanishingly faint.

    • None of the three things, name, extent, Jewish majority are in themselves morally wrong. Imposing them by force was wrong and that needs to be set right. I don't think you and I are that far apart.

    • If there are rights inherent in individual human beings because of their being human,, say not to be subject to massacre, marauding and enslavement, there must be certain moral rights and wrongs applying logically, other things being equal, to governments and states. (Not that states are human beings.). Israel was founded by violating rights because it excluded many people from their homes, which is really a form of marauding, and it has continued to exist in its current form by not setting right the results of that wrong. Israel exists but other relevant things are not equal in its case, so its legitimacy is seriously flawed until that correction occurs. On top of all that there is even more, the fact of sovereign power exercised over indefinite time on disfranchised subjects.. Israel has no right to maintain its existence as the agent of that wrongful power..
      But that doesn't mean that it's wrong for there to be a state with other Israeli characteristics, such as being called 'Israel', extending from river to sea or having an actual Jewish majority.

    • The question mark is very much justified.

    • So what would happen to someone who says 'I don't think Israel's all that democratic?"
      Whatever it is, I wouldn't trust the politicised courts for protection.

  • 'Make this my dream as well' -- in historic appearance, Palestinian offers one-state vision to a NY temple
    • The present situation is a violent disaster for many people who actually have full human rights and have never deserved what has been done to them. No end is in sight.

    • I don't trust the world like you do, ros.

  • Israeli settlers celebrating weekly Torah portion smash Hebron shop windows
    • The London Review of Books has a review of Ben Ehrenreich's 'The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine', very hostile to Abbas and the PA. The book may be too distressing to read.

  • Video: Israelis look forward to the Trump presidency
    • Jerusalem was not originally Jewish, as the Biblical record and the Amarna letters tell us, and remained non-Jewish until a few centuries at least after its foundation. A few (how many is much disputed) centuries later it became a great religious centre. It produced and centred on itself by far the most memorable, inspiring and influential 'national' history ever written, though it was left to the Christians to produce the most memorable individual biography. Of course it is now our duty to look at these narratives critically. In any event, Jerusalem then ceased to be predominantly Jewish for near two thousand years. I don't see that the basic facts about the past of Jerusalem create any special rights for people who are Jewish now or demonstrate that under its current regime Jerusslrm is not, as Marnie remarks, an occupied city.

  • The lynching of Dwight Bullard
    • Well, all analyses seem to point to the fact that pro-Israel sentiment, based either on existing 'demographic' loyalties or on recent propaganda, is very strong. For the likes of us the night is still dark and the road long.

    • If Mr. Bullard, a Black man with a good record of service to a constituency with many Black voters, loses his Senate seat because of his somewhat pro-BDS views and choice of tour guide (you would have thought his voters would have other, much more pressing concerns) we seem to have confirmation of the continuing power of pro-Israel sentiment and pro-Israel organisations in the age of Trump. The tide is not turning but still at the flood.

  • The link between Israel's forest fires and the 'muezzin bill'
    • Y. Bar-Maor, The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, the Botanic Version, is interesting on the symbolism of these matters.

    • Latuff also shows Netanyahu as a gigantic figure, tall as a tower, and the Palestinian figure as seized by rage but helpless.

    • If the sound were loud enough to be heard on the seas and mountains Lapid would surely still be right. There are laws restricting sound volumes and it is through them that the matter should be dealt with. If Israel wishes to show that it is not a land of religious discrimination it should apply the same laws to sounds of Jewish origin.

    • The Times of Israel reports that Yair Lapid considers that the purpose of the bill is 'to insult Muslims'. He thinks that the problem could have been addressed by enforcing existing law on noise, which it seems might embarrass synagogues and churches. The Aleppo pine is native to the whole Med basin, or most of it - and apparently has great post-fire resilience - but its real concentrations lie further West. So there was a certain determined alteration of the balance of nature in making them as extensive as they now seem to be. That's not without symbolic effect.

  • Deborah Lipstadt's double standard on white nationalism and Jewish nationalism
    • White supremacists with any sense of consistency might well regard Israel as a splendidly successful force keeping non-whites in their inferior place, the new Sparta, the spearpoint of the West. They might also think that Jews are only marginally white and so are out of place in any role outside the ME arena. I would think it very hard for them to think of any non-white group as deserving of sympathy and support in demanding liberation, since that is just the sort of demand that is turned against white people. So I don't think that there is much danger of these supremacists forming a significant part of the pro-P cause.
      It seems that Mathis for Defense is all but certain.

  • It is time to imagine how one state-- one person, one vote-- will work
    • Exercising sovereign power but without a proper social contract, so not the legitimate long-term sovereign! But even exercising the power creates responsibilities. What they have in mind, but don't ever say, would be irresponsible, to put things mildly. Meanwhile no one can blame the allegedly famous anti-Semitism of the Palestinians, or any other force, for putting obstacles in the way of something not even attempted.

    • I think it hard to justify blaming anti-Jewish sentiment for lack of peace when there is something else to be considered, that is the lack of a proposal for a final settlement proposed and put on the table by Israel, as is the responsibility of those exercising sovereign power over the whole area. When that proposal comes we can take a view on the response and decide if unreasonable prejudices are driving it.

  • 'Tis the season, to boycott!
    • Well, Theo, I think that Mondoweiss has played a leading role in an extraordinary achievement, that of transforming the pro-Palestinian movement in the West from being negligible to being noticeable, as all the countermeasures so elaborately taken are proving. The other side is still overwhelmingly stronger but there's a hint of unsettlement. I think, if I may say so from the outside, that MW has also succeeded in creating a voice which Is pro-Palestinian but authentically Jewish. There is a longer walk along a darkening road from being noticeable to being normal, or at least one recognisable strand of normal opinion. Because of the intense connection of West and ME our normality in the West, if we can make it that far, would compel some constructive change in the ME itself.

    • I agree with those who think that there is injustice in Israel 48, not just in Israel 67, and with those who think that there are no rights gained by force. The only (possibly) practical aim that I can hope for at the moment is to get Israel to state explicitly what it would see as a fair solution. I think that any such statement would be very clarifying, even if it was horrible, and might, hoping against hope, eventually open the way to some creative new way of things.

    • About strict justice and virtue signalling - virtues even if signalled are still virtues and justice even if strict and not attainable should still not be forgotten. Might is not right and rights are not created, so surely not inherited, by wrong, by force or by fraud, though they can, I think, be created by agreements that end conflict.
      There's something of a paradox about justice, though, because there seems always to be a need for grace, forgiveness and accepting less than is due, or 'strictly' due - a need which perhaps increases over time and over generations. This seems to make compromise not just a seedy concession to circumstances but a moral act in itself.
      It needs to be remembered that the Zionist onslaught on the Holy Land did not create any rights for current Israelis to inherit and that there has been no final agreement or treaty. I think that they have the right to be offered a compromise if they would accept one. However, they show no inclination to compromise.
      I don't think that echino is a Zionist plant.

    • That's all very well, amigo, but what about 'self-determination in the historic homeland'?

    • I see nothing of sanctimony - pretence to superiority - in the mere act of moral argument including no self-congratulation and no opprobrious terms except 'repulsive'. Honestly, who would not be repelled (or more) by people who had treated self and family unjustly - the injustice being severe and persistent?
      There is no right to acquire territory by defensive war, a matter well explained by John Locke long ago. If there are human rights, i.e. rights you have by being human, they include the right not (except perhaps by due legal process) to be excluded from one's home or otherwise deprived of what is yours and not to be disfranchised. These, being rights of humanity in all circumstances, cannot be dependent on the circumstances or outcomes of a war.

  • A conversation with Miko Peled
    • Thanks for reasoned comments, esteemed colleagues. I do think we have to understand why Shipman's dignified, perhaps a bit too brief, attempt to remonstrate with Lipstadt turned out so badly. I wish he had contested more strongly L's dumping of everything relevant into the bag marked 'a-S', with all the connotations of prejudice and falsehood that that term carries.
      His not doing so meant he could be sent into exile, accused of blaming Jews for a-S. It's true - and this is what his enemies were exploiting - that there's no such thing as a good reason for prejudice. Rational reaction to atrocity can cause prejudice - mind you, a reaction which is very angry and marked by intense sympathy with the victims need not be prejudiced - only if mixed with some irrational or demonic force.
      When we defend or echo actions or words we can be asked whether we are actually influenced by the things we defend - do we in fact share the ideology behind them? A fair question, I think. Miko P enrages Yonah because he echoes talk of sleazy Jews. He means that N should be ashamed of behaving as predicted in talk of this kind. Can he avoid saying that a-S was quite right in its predictions, i.e. sympathising with a-S to some degree? I think he can - but these brief and angry words leave much unsaid.

    • I agree with the Shipman comparison - does anyone know what became of him after his moment under the spotlight? Miko speaks rhetorically but it's unfair to say he's yapping or spitting hate. He's drawing attention to some awful things, about water for instance. And who could doubt what RoHa says about the need for the voice of suffering and injustice to be heard? There are moments of exasperation, as in the famous tweet, but exasperation is not the same as hatred. However, I accept from Yonah that it's important for us who are trying to argue for the Palestinian cause in the misinformed and prejudiced West to be very careful about Shipman-style argument that Israeli crimes cause anti-Semitism, which sounds close to accepting that objection to those crimes is often indeed anti-S, which in itself it absolutely never is.

  • Israelis 'neutralize' 48-year-old at Qalandiya checkpoint-- 240th Palestinian to be killed in wave of unrest
    • National Geographic May 17, 2014, has an article on California wildfires which are very plentiful, about 5% due to arson and 5% due to purely natural causes, the huge remainder resulting from accidents with power equipment, cars parked in contact with vegetation, campfires out of control etc.. I think that there is absolutely always a slightly crazy rush to blame criminals when the fact is that you can't live a life with all the paraphernalia and fun of modernity and without extreme caution in dry conditions and avoid serious wildfire. None of us, especially not politicians with propaganda to make and responsibility to shirk, likes to admit that we have taken inadequate precautions, which would have been quite boring.

  • Trump aide blows off Zionist gala, and Dershowitz warns that politicizing Israel means 'we could lose'
    • I agree, amigo, that 'commitment to Palestine' is a very strange way of describing Z intentions. Hoeever, the re-commitment in question did happen in 1905. It's true that Herzl and no doubt others believed that everyone would benefit. But they also understood the obvious fact that if some move in, intent on making 'this land ours' or even running an economy in which existing residents are not going to be useful, some others must move out. Maybe to greater prosperity elsewhere, but out somehow.

    • Surely Herzl spoke favourably of the Uganda Proposal at the 1903 Sixth Z Congress, though saying it might well be merely temporary. An investigative team was sent - this provoked a walkout from the Russian delegates. It was only at Congress 7, 1905, that the UP was formally rejected, formally making Palestine the only real target. So I don't think Annie's so wrong. She very rarely is.

    • I'm somewhat with you, Yonah. The point of no return for Herzl, a very successful playwright and journalist, was Karl Lueger's installation as Mayor of Vienna in 1897. Lueger (a strangely Trump-like figure) seems to have dealt Germanic liberalism a blow from which it never recovered - and though his anti-Semitism seems to have been a bit fake it must have been extremely painful for all Austrian Jews and must indeed have made them think that maybe they should move elsewhere. I do think that one potential outcome of this thought was 'Jews can't ever really trust non-Jews', a form of anti- nonsemitism.

  • 'We have to channel fear into organizing': Muslim-Americans prepare for Trump's 'Muslim registry'
    • There's a certain risk that Mr.X, being a resident of London or New York, is a terrorist. - very low, thank the Lord. What is the increment of risk if we know that Mr. X is not only a Londoner or a New Yorker but also a Muslim? I think that it's negligible and that discussion ought to start from that point. Would you think otherwise, Scott?

    • Political and religious ideologies are both legitimate kinds of thing. It would be hard to think of a politicsl idelogy that had no implications concerning religion or a religious ideology that had no implications concerning politics.

  • Zionists embrace of Trump and Bannon is no surprise
    • The idea that every outnumbered group of likeminded people deserves to carve out a state of its own is self-defeating and remarkably dangerous.

  • Saving the daughters of Israel from the annihilation of intermarriage
    • So is it a question of my being English if people in general - or people in authority - agree that I am? Or are there objective criteria that I and others should recognise?

    • I don't know where this might go in the sequence - just wanted to ask Sibi if nationality exists in a morally significant way simply by self-ascription? Am I British, English etc. if and only if I say I am?

    • Anti-Z implies moral questioning of everything that sustains Z, I suppose, and that would include religious prohibitions on consorting with non-Jews in ways that we might hope would reduce tension and hostility and also social arrangements that have the police involved in questions of who is who's boyfriend/girlfriend. The latter anyone might find slightly grotesque. It isn't fair to equate moral critique with hatred and it isn't reasonable to say that because something has a religious basis it is not open to moral critique.
      I would accept that all religions place difficulties in the way of intermarriage. I think it understandable that people feel uneasiness at the thought of a marriage with someone who might call deeply held beliefs into question. Many atheists, perhaps, would feel uneasy about welcoming a fundamentalist Evangelical into the family circle. It's how you react to the uneasiness that matters.

  • Sheldon Adelson, Trump's billionaire backer, is committed to 'the Jewish people' and believes Palestinians are a 'made up people'
    • I don't know how far we're in disagreement, jon?

    • I did re-read Isaiah 14:29 before mentioning it, jon! It certainly doesn't prove the extent of Palestine at any point in time but I think it fair to have mentioned it to illustrate the fact that Palestine is not, for the purposes of ancient history, a made-up name. There's a limit to the extraction of geography from poetry, of course, but I think that the prophet's making a point of calling it 'the whole of Palestine', which suggests that he was thinking of something quite extensive, is quite interesting. The Greek version 'all you foreigners' dispenses with the idea of any specific territory but manages to suggest that quite a few people, 'foreign' dwellers in the Holy Land, are involved.
      I don't know if you think that we reasonably identify a name that was in common use for 'the whole' of Israel/Palestine either at the time when Isaiah's oracle is set dramatically, the late 700s, or at the time when the collection of oracles was being edited, presumably a couple of centuries later?

    • The credible, indeed incontrovertible, evidence for abundant ancient use of the name 'Palestine' (note Isaiah 14:29), has been given here many times, along with evidence of the remarkable paucity of ancient non-biblical references to 'Israel'. But human rights are not dependent on what nationality one adopts, inherits or claims.

  • 'The era of the Palestinian state is over' -- Israeli right celebrates Trump win
    • I think that Biden is offering pretend reassurances for a fake anxiety. Mr. Bannon. now Chief Strategist, comes from a business whose proclamation is that it is unreservedly for freedom and for Israel. There is no glimmmer of light for the likes of us, and we were in a pretty gloomy place anyway.

    • An extract from a romantic novel, Anti, on which I'm working.
      ''Shall we round off our meal with a Grand Marnier?' murmurred Julius, reaching for a plump bottle. A slight cloud spread over Serafina's previously radiant face. 'Reminds me too much of childhood orange juice' she sighed. 'The way to my dark, wild heart is cider from the best British apples,'
      There is no special problem in comparing apples and oranges, though they are not identical fruits. They have quite a lot in common - and both can contribute to alocoholic drinks. Scandals based on sex and scandals based on security risks, real or imaginary, have something in common too and so does the damage caused by both. I think that it will be some time before Clinton settles down to a drink with Comey.

    • Yes, Sibi, those are wise words. I agree that yet more of the same old samey status quo, with ever more and more of the stuff that gets reported here in 'Today in Palestine' is very much the likeliest thing for a long time yet. But don't you share the sense that it really can't go on for ever? Maybe the confederation with Jordan or Egypt will come to the fore but those countries would be acquiring massive headaches by sort-of acquiring territories where their writ might run only very partially and where they would be at constant risk of border skirmishes or worse with Israel. All versions of asking other countries to take on responsibility for the Palestinians would require at very least enormous payoffs to those countries, which could come only from American taxpayers who might seriously balk.

    • Well, Mooser, how I see it is that Trump was almost destroyed by one item which must be in the blackmail files of many interested parties, his locker room remarks. Then the effect was matched by those of the Comey bombshell. The upshot was that he won a technical majority by losing votes for his party at a slower rate than his opponent lost votes for hers. He has the glorious aura of victory around him now but he has never really had a mighty surge of opinion in his favour and the victory glow will fade. As that happens then more items from the files will surface if those who have them so choose. If he makes a real success of the Presidency they maybe won't matter, I suppose, however lurid they are, However, that's a big if. I find it really hard to explain Obana's climbdown after Cairo and his demand for a settlement freeze, something from which his international authority never really recovered, unless some version of blackmail was used. Well, maybe it was just Clinton threatening to resign.

    • Trump did momentarily promise even-handedness but was, I suppose, immediately shown some extracts from the blackmail file, which must be bulging and a very entertaining read. Since he seems to like grand gestures he may be attracted to the idea of a massive population transfer 'with compensation',eliminating the Palestinians (as he would hope) as a political force, as a wonderful peace deal for which he would be remembered and thanked for ever. On the other hand the expenses of that sort of thing might prove to be prohibitive he may just opt for the old status quo. We need to be ready for the grand eliminationist gesture, though, and to be ready to oppose it. It has to come into the light of day some time, since it is the logical expression of Zionism.

  • In Ohio, Muslim-Americans fear bitter election will lead to civil unrest
    • I agree with much of that, Ossonev.. Many of my friends, a little wiser than me, we're confidently predicting another and bigger Brexit. On the other hand I am sure that there is a big file of blackmail materials ready to be used if Trump gets out of line.
      I wonder what the pollsters will have to say for themselves. I was a bit too persuaded by their 'couldn't happen here' rhetoric. They weren't all that wrong in their nationwide efforts but how did they make such massive mistakes in Ohio and suchlike?

    • The defeat of the winner of the popular vote caused ructions in 2000 but this time seems to be of no concern.

  • Miserable night, bleak forecast
    • I recommend Margaret Macmillan's "Peacemakers". Balfour and his boss Lloyd George were committed Christian Zionists. The reference to the rights of non-Jewish people is indeed present in the dynasty of documents that descends from Balfour, but it was from the start both insincere or only for show - the press was immediately ('Palestine for the Jews'; Macmillan, p.428) briefed to that effect - and illogical, since there was no really presentable version of the idea of self-determination of the existing population which could be applied to it, and s-d was very much among the rights supposedly reigning in the post-war settlement. All that was said at the time.
      S-d is illogical in any event, I think, but the acuteness of the conflict between s-d and a State dedicated to immigrants was pretty flagrant. Brandeis came up with the idea that all people who were Jewish were already (as it were) Palestinian, but 'merely imputed' voting presence in a territory makes even less sense than the rest of it.
      It is fine for people who are Jewish to have a homeland in the sense of 'be at home' anywhere, and the same for everyone, but not fine for anyone to carve out a territory, to kill and take possession or to impose a disfranchised existence. We all know that.

    • What about Antarctica? Make the icebergs bloom?

  • 'Atlantic' editor says that Israel's 1948 expulsion of Palestinians was not 'a tragedy'
    • There is objection to Palestinians' claiming their statehood 'back'. The basis of that objection is that the territory commonly called Palestine both in ancient and modern times was 'never' an independent sovereign area but usually, or with but brief exceptions, 'merely' a province or sub-area of a wider empire. I would say that this difference between area and sub-area makes no moral difference for our purposes. The people of a sub-area have 'their statehood' through their membership of the sovereign state which encompasses where they live: how else? We in Berkshire 'have our statehood' by being members of the people of the United Kingdom. If the UK were to be broken up and Berkshire in the process seized by Martians, claiming that it had been Martian territory before the Ice Age - a claim that would, even if true, have no more moral force than the Israeli claims based on the Kingdom of David - it would make complete sense for us to claim our statehood 'back' or 'reclaim' it. The idea that our statehood back in the place where we were once the recognised and legitimate inhabitants would be an innovation, a taking rather than a taking back, would obviously be false.
      I endorse most of xanadou's remarks!
      I really must visit the US Berkshires one day. Mooser keeps assuring me that they're lovely.

    • I think that there was a kingdom of Palestine around 1100 BCE and a kingdom sometimes called 'of the Jews' by around 100 BCE. Which means nothing for political rights now. After all, every polity which is formed for the first time is formed where a polity of that kind did not exist before, yet the people concerned have rights. At all times the people living in the land more or less commonly called Palestine for about 3,000 years, Jews and others alike, have deserved their basic rights, which have always included being citizens of - and subject to the laws of - a sovereign power in whose actions they have, at least by the prevalent standards of the time, some say. And of not (some say 'without the solemn and special commandment of God') being killed or driven away from their homes. How can these rights be affected by where and on what terms and within what borders their ancestors lived. I'm not really adding anything to RoHa's remarks and questions which keep on going unanswered amid the wild rhetoric (and inhumane insults that talkback notes) about historic homelands and such.

  • The dark side of Jewish consciousness: manufactured anti-Semitism
    • We're in DaB's debt for drawing our attention to this important monument to Christian Zionism of that time. CZ was already at least two centuries old and we see it here drawing support from a progressive Unitarian who admired Napoleon's vaguely pro-Jewish plans for the ME, as it was later to draw support from the even more progressive and fearsomely intelligent George Eliot. As to the moral interest and value of Adams' remarks, the first thing that strikes me is that it's a very clear illustration of the fact that there's no particular reason why anti-Semitism, as found in Adams' final remarks, should be regarded as incompatible with Zionism, as found in the just preceding ones. The second point is that a prominent reason for calling for conquests by Jews is to correct the alleged 'asperities' of Jewish character and to prepare the way for conversion. But it makes no sense to call for this. No one ever became less harsh by conquering people. Thirdly, there is surely a problem in that the rights and interests of the conquered are as invisible in the ME as they seemingly were in the American heartland of the time. So I'd say that if we were thinking of justifying actual Israeli conquests, were we to call them that, for Adams' reasons, we would not get very far.

  • Ari Shavit’s humiliating fall from grace: AIPAC, Hillel cancel events in wake of groping story
  • Cut from Clinton speech: Palestinians 'yearn for freedom... behind checkpoints and roadblocks'
    • Right on cue the Israel Antiquities Authority comes up with a papyrus allegedly from the 600s BCE in which wine is requisitioned on the King's behalf by his maidservant, what a charming touch. It comes complete with a derring-do story of seizure from looters who found it in a cave - ie it is completely unprovenanced. (A leaf is taken from the romantic, dubious account of the discovery of the Mesha Stela.) There's been some press celebration - one article floated by me making great play with 'It's not in any other language, it's in Hebrew!' An overemphasis on minor and disputed points is really, I think, a sign of underlying insecurity. Christopher Rollston, now of George Washington U - he has had his own Salaita style experience with zealous Christians - has raised questions about the text's genuineness. I don't think that the IAA has acted very creditably. Meanwhile, why do US Senators consider themselves so authoritative on ancient history?

  • Israel's bogus history lesson
    • Just come across, as one does, the comment of Talmud Sukkah 51b on Ezekiel 8:16, where the habit of praying to the Sun, or at least praying with face to the east, is recognised as ancestral but condemned. But things weren't that clear cut, eastward prayer seeming to be demanded in Ez. 46. Josephus Wars 2:128 says plainly enough that prayer to the sun continued among the Essenes, allegedly using 'ancestral prayers' (a revealing phrase) though the Temple Scroll calls for the death penalty for the practice. Josephus doesn't seem shocked, though he considers himself to be a Pharisee. All this has some relevance to the interpretation of the early synagogues. And to the lack of uniformity in first century religious forms which we call Judaism and Christianity.
      I think that the idea that the sun sort of represents God, so that we literally walk in God's light and have a window into the divine world, though one through which we cannot look, is rather charming. Doesn't help us much with the question of who should be enfranchised in the Holy Land, though.

  • New statement calls on the movement to focus on Palestine, not divisive internal conflicts
    • I live 3,587 miles from Monterey per Google but I've had a look at the Peace and Justice Center and its works. I read some statements by you, Phillip, and thought (first impression, of course, not careful analysis) that they were good stuff and that you were energetic in the cause. So I'm sorry that there has been a rift.
      It all seems to come down to Alison Weir and whether she's an anti-Semite. I must say I've not seen any statement by her that really amounts to anti-Semitism, which to me is prejudice or irrational sentiment against at least some things characteristically Jewish. Dresser says, I think, that it is a negative view of the influence of some Jewish people on American history that is held against her and that her detractors cannot come up with much more. He mentions substantially only Brandeis, Wilson and WW1. I think I would disagree with her on that topic but would not see that as proof of anti-Semitism, at least not to the point of mistrusting the generality of her remarks about Palestine or to thinking that she is not the humane and generous person that in other ways she appears to be. Am I mistaken about that? There are UK analogies to this question, of course

  • Trump and Clinton blast UNESCO statement on Jerusalem
    • I don't think that anyone denies that there was once a Kingdom centred on Jerusalem and its Temple which was the religious centre of the Jewish world and had a predominantly Jewish population. There are further statements about ancient history, some concerning the origin of the Western Wall, that arouse various degrees of controversy. However in more recent times various rights of private property grew up and received general acceptance. These include the rights of Muslim religious organisations and some of these rights cover the (claimed; I don't disagree with the claim) former Temple area and its structures. Even if all the statements about ancient history favoured by Zionists are completely true they would not, would not begin, to give a right to individuals who are Jewish or to governments representing them to expropriate existing owners. UNESCO seems to think that the customary names for things and places should be those assigned by their rightful owners and perhaps they have a point.

  • Necessary Transformations: Ending the claim to exclusivity
    • I think GL has a point about rhetoric - by no means only Jewish rhetoric - which stresses the shared, rather than the justified, nature of certain values. It does tend to reduce individuality to membership of the hive.

    • With any descriptive term, like Jewish or British or for that matter round or square or unicorn, there is a difference between the list of things to which the term applies, the extension, and the idea of what it is to be that kind of thing, the intension.
      Observing several things that are round does not reveal to you that a circle is the set of all points in a plane that are equidistant from a given point, which needs thought. Using thought to create the idea of a unicorn = white horned horse with magical properties does not reveal any things to which the term should apply, which would require observation, which won't occur because there are no unicorns.
      So it does make sense to say that 'what it is to be Jewish' does not include being Zionist or that being Zionist is not being Jewish authentically - and to say this even though the vast majority of people to whom the word applies are, very sad but very true, Zionists in fact.
      Several prophets, Hosea a case in point, denounce the Israelites for deserting en masse their true God = the values that are part of what it is to be an Israelite. Shakespeare's 'Naught shall make us rue if England to herself do rest but true' is a rousing call to unity but still envisages the possibility of en masse self-betraying Anglos, relatives of self-hating Jews, I suppose.
      Ponderous post of the month?

    • It's possible to concede - sadly - that Zionism is supported, often very strongly, by a majority of those who consider themselves Jewish while not conceding that Zionism, however popular for the time being, is, as an expression of Jewish culture and tradition as it has existed over the centuries, authentic. I think that that is quite a common view on Mondoweiss, though its most eloquent exponent, seafoid, has regrettably left us for some time.
      ''There's nothing authentically Jewish about stealing land' isn't a very forceful slogan.

    • I agree. Ellis says that the Jewish religion has an ethical tradition which is being travestied with the effect that outsiders are turning away. This implies that non-Jews are ethical beings, not that there is something specifically Jewish about being ethical.

  • Why I left the cult
    • There seems to be no argument here and the intention to insult seems somehow to melt into an overwhelming sense of self-pity. 'A happy person is the one who is so afraid to jeopardise it keeps it jealously secret' associates happiness with fear and isolation quite alarmingly. Whereas you always come across as quite cheerful.

  • 'Perpetual occupation' -- White House slams Israel over new settlement
  • Kafka in Area C
    • The relentlessness of the process clearly reveals the intended outcome. The disparity of legal weaponry - shiny modern paperwork vs. barely legible papers from 1895 - reflects the wider situation pretty well.

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