Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 3531 (since 2009-11-18 22:41:33)


I'm retired after teaching philosophy for some decades. I am a secular Christian, very interested in biblical scholarship, with decent Greek but must learn some Hebrew. Rather obsessed with ancient multiculturalism and belief that Palestine was always multicultural and multiracial, while Jewish cultural influence in the wider ancient world was greater than is supposed.

Showing comments 3531 - 3501

  • Letter to Fordham: 'Have you ever seen an instance where a university gains in the long run from speech suppression?'
    • I think we must expect a wave of petty repression, maybe not too effective, across much of the English-speaking world. I can't speak for ACLU but I wouldn't be surprised if they expect to find the highly politicised court system unfriendly on this matter.

  • The immaculate conception of Louis Brandeis
    • Meant to add that to find a conspicuous public figure working through a secret society, even if it was a very nice secret society, is remarkably disturbing. Also that Zionism presented in humanist and progressive terms, as in Altneuland and even Daniel Deronda, was not unusual. Brandeis may not have sounded like someone from Russia but he did, according to M Macmillan's peacemakers, argue that self-determination in Palestine meant treating Jewish people worldwide as Palestinian 'voters' - that is to say he was an early exponent, and an exponent taken seriously, of the Burthright ideology in all its preposterousness. At the level of basic belief, which drives everything else, Brandeis and the man from Eastern Europe were at one.

    • Thanks for the reference to Grose's article, which seems sensible enough. I would think that if Brandeis considered that he had been, for all his success, a victim of anti-Semitism in high places and wanted, in response, to celebrate his Jewishness, that would have been an honourable thing, even if he was also thinking about advancing his career. We can't expect idealistic people to be completely detached from self-interest.

  • To be successful the French Peace Initiative must be based on international law and human rights
    • Just to add that Weizmann's remark was seriously prejudiced. The legend that London around 1000 BCE was already the capital of a kingdom founded by Trojan refugees is not far removed in credibility from the claim that Jerusalem became the capital of a United Monarchy at around the same time. Both must be strongly doubted - both may reflect a certain memory or reality, though a Trojan prince called Brutus is a bit of a stretch. The Bronze Age London area was an active economic centre, losing importance (was there a Bronze Brexit?) like many Bronze Age centres as the Iron Age dawned: so we learn from the lecture by Dr.J.D. Hill of the British Museum delivered to the City of London Archaeological Society in Oct. 2011.

    • This particular verbal sally - 'London swamp' - comes from Chaim Weizmann at the beginning of his bromance with Arthur Balfour in 1906. Balfour, according to Weizmann, laid it to heart and remembered it at their next meeting a decade later.

  • Why Israel wants us to say 'terror'
    • In reply to Yoni's 'mechanical application' (you're entitled to a less unflattering word) and to remarks by ros elsewhere - Jeff McMahan, now Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford, wrote an article a few years ago in the Loyola Journal of International Law, Vol. 31, in which he argues with no ifs or buts that members, military or civilian, of an organisation enforcing an unjust occupation can be attacked without injustice (so I think without 'terrorism') by any of those occupied. He mentions Palestine as something he clearly regards as an example of unjust occupation but restricts the Palestinian right of resistance by suggesting, in line with much Just War theory, that it is too unlikely to improve the situation of the occupied people. His statement of the sheer nastiness of unjust occupation is good, I think. His example of just occupation, while admitting its many faults. is Germany 45.

    • Well,Yoni, I echo RoHa's applause. I once knew a veteran of the Royal Navy in WW2 who slowly revealed among friends that he considered himself a war criminal because of a massacre in which he had taken part. He was tormented in his dreams. Yet he was or had become, I still think, a good person. You have achieved more than he did both by breaking out of an iron ring of indoctrination from educational and military sources, far more than most of us have ever done, and by going in public with your new moral insights, which is a way of making such amends as you can. However, I think that Israelis, being human, still have some rights.

    • But no territory was ever offered on a sovereign basis, as far as I know. There was demilitarisation, incomplete control of frontiers and of foreign policy - no alliances, no improvement of the position in the future. Even the right to negotiate was to be negotiated away. The settlement blocs were symbols of subordination rather than the essence of it.

  • Against Israel, Hamas and Fatah
    • You are saying f-occupation but not, at least not explicitly, f-Israel, though Israel wearies you as do Fateh and Hamas. Is it your view that you and we all have to be resigned to Israel 48's existence or that the occupation is simply the worst feature of Israel, revealing the true nature of the whole?

  • The truck attack that killed four Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem was not 'terrorism'
    • The question whether the Jerusalem attack is to be condemned morally by use of the term 'terrorism', understood as a form of human rights violation, is not to be determined by whether those killed arouse human sympathy or even whether they deserve it. Thoroughly dislikable people have rights too. On the other hand theories of just or even permissible war all imply - more shockingly than people think - that in some circumstances perfectly nice and normal people forfeit their right to life. Then the question is determining what those circumstances are. The lawyers have struggled to find a consensus but have, I think, not succeeded. I don't withhold sympathy from the people killed in the Jerusalem attack but that is not enough to decide against Jonathan Os argument. One may feel sorry for the suffering of 'terrorists' who were driven to desperation by terrible experiences because suffering deserves sympathy even in that case, but their suffering does not prove that they were in the right.

    • The Government of Israel should certainly be held responsible for the bad activities of its low level agents unless, at a minimum, it repudiates the action and disciplines the agents. Azaria is a case in point. A repudiation which sounds hypocritical will not do much good at the Day of Judgement.

    • Well, Yoni, I can see ways in which these things could be argued back and forth according to the letter of the law. Is someone whose sole weapon is a truck showing himself to be armed simply by sitting in the truck? Was Jesus, if he made a heavy whip, a potentially lethal weapon, out of cords or strips of leather which were normally items of clothing or in civilian use, acting fairly? I don't think an attack of this sort, without anything conventionally regarded as a weapon, was directly envisaged in 77. The 'spirit of the law' is elusive, though in my view its spirit is not to give complete freedom of action and place no obligations at all on anyone engaged in any kind of military action or political violence.

    • But there's a problem, is there not, Yoni, about acting wrongly against wrongdoers or illegally against lawbreakers? I think that opposition to Nazism produced crimes and horrors as well as great deeds - Keith Lowe's Savage Continent and all that. I'm not very good on legal matters and I think law codes cannot really provide the last word. But I do note that the famous Additional Protocol of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions, often regarded as too lenient towards 'terrorists' does insist on some distinguishing mark to be worn or displayed during an attack, so I think hophmi has a point.
      Dab seems, if I understand him, to be disparaging the principle of proportionality, which seems to me essential to any kind of morality: how do you deal with any moral questions without an idea of Not Enough or Too Much.
      As to our advocacy for violence, I think most of us believe that enough people have been killed and would rather that there not be even one more.

  • There is no such thing as 'Progressive Except Palestine'
    • Not possible to be very pregnant or a little pregnant but possible to be fluent or halting in a second language or to have a slight or a raging fever. I don't think of progressives and reactionaries as completely agreed among themselves and I don't think that we should refuse to make common cause with those who do not agree with us totally, if that is being suggested. That said, I do think that the most obvious and normal moral principles are being violated by Zionism, cruelly and on a daily basis, and it is astonishing that people who seem to have a normal morality, even without being particularly progressive, look so readily the other way.

  • Netanyahu has isolated Israel and is driving the US 'off a cliff into chaos' -- Lloyd Doggett
    • Masot is clearly an intelligence officer - maybe he won't be promoted now he's let himself be recorded. The Conservative and Labour Fs of I seem to be toughing it out in full Nixonian mode and Ms. Strozzoli is most unapologetic. The Labour Party seems ready to press the matter a bit, and so they should after the disgraceful treatment of Naz Shah MP (now busy calming the situation after a police shooting incident in or around her constituency) for repeating a mere pleasantly from good old N. Finkelstein, I wonder what the LibDems will say: they too have a very influential F of I organisation. I rather think that the ex- Minister writing in the Mail on Sunday, and saying how fearful he is of revealing his identity will decide to reveal himself soon. That an MP should express such fear for doing his job and speaking on a matter of some political import is quite shocking - and I'm not that easily shocked politically.

  • The mainstreaming of Palestinian genocide
    • The Labour Party has called for further enquiries. We'll see. It will be interesting to see if Sir Alan Duncan, the man to be taken down - in this matter at least a most honourable man - takes the matter up. He has declined so far, but he's obviously the most effective critic of Israel in the UK political sphere and this is the time to renew his critique.
      The gathering seems to have been a very expensive lunch. I don't think that embassies fund expensive lunches for a mere chat among friends with no serious purpose, as is being claimed by the woman who was discussing plans with the Israeli intelligence operative.

  • Booker slams UN resolution as 'anti-Israel,' while Saban says it's anti-American
    • The Great Abstention was a message to the ME but also to a party whose election campaign, with Zionism as a core element, had just collapsed in a heap, suggesting something different for the future. Perhaps the money raised by supporting Zionism is not as essential as it seemed, perhaps there is something deadening about being so committed to an important element of the status quo. Booker and others are showing that the message is not that well received.

  • Terrorism: How the Israeli state was won
    • The Theban Sacred Band, where being in an active gay relationship was a condition of membership, made a great impression on the Hellenistic and Roman world but had no clearly recognisable succcessor and was not regarded as the efficient model for the way forward. The success at Leuctra in 371 was balanced by total failure at Chaeronea in 338. Virgil's Aeneid Book IX, through the characters Nisus and Euryslus, who form a Sacred Band, makes us think, despite the very sympathetic prrsentation of these heroes, that a military unit based on passion will not be good at carrying out a rational plana and that passion may become bloodlust.
      I would have thought that a determination to defeat the Axis at all costs would have implied cooperating with the UK war effort - we were the leaders in that battle - on UK terms, those terms including our disinclination formally to segregate our armed forces, on the American model of the time, by race.

    • Well, we do still have a rule against Nakba denial, which I have always understood as a rule against Nakba justification, which I think is what's going on here..

    • Everyone in relevant ancient times knew that Jerusalem was not of Israelite or Jewish origins - and people thought origins important. Jewish theologians accepted that Jerusalem was first known as the capital of the non-Jewish priest-king Melchizedek (Gen.14), servant of God Most High, whose role descended to the priests who anointed the Kings of Judah, themselves not of pure Israelite blood but specially linked with the city by God's decree. There was always a sense in which non-Jews had a place in Jerusalem, which is recognised in the Temple"s role as house of prayer for all nations.

  • Resolution for 2017: Stop substituting 'the occupation' for 'Zionism'
    • Yes, supporting Israel as a Jewish state or as the polity it is possible in those who are not Zionist in my terms - or in other terms, I would think - by belief or ideology.
      I'd be interested to hear other definitions of Z.

    • Yes, if anyone believed that there are two absolutely genuine ways, neither superior to the other, of having a share of sovereignty over the Holy Land, being Jewish and being Palestinian, that person would not be a Zionist by my definition: a 'semi-Zionist', perhaps.
      A consistent semi-Zionist could not endorse partition without vote or the exclusions of 48 and would want to take all reasonable steps to put them right, would not accept that the security of the Jewish element took priority over the well being of the others and would not agree to the continuing disfranchisement of 'the Occupation' - would, I suppose, think that the Jewish element owed massive reparations to the others. I don't really think that semi-Zionists could have founded or sustained Israel or even encouraged Israeli policies at any stage. Perhaps Professor Beinart is indeed what I would call a semi-Zionist. Louis Brandeis was perhaps one such during the Balfour era - he certainly, according to Margaret Macmillan's 'Peacemakers', envisaged a Palestinian electorate of all Palestinians in Palestine plus all Jews everywhere. Mind you, that is such a paradoxical idea that it may be that semi-Zionism is always inconsistent.
      However, I would think it useful to use different terms for what I'm calling Z and semi-Z.

    • Zionism to my mind is the belief that people who are Jewish, and they only, have an inherent right to a share of sovereignty in the Holy Land, others only by the grace of the true heirs. The Occupation is the situation in the WB and Gaza post-67. Zionism is a false principle and the Occupation is a horrible thing. There are people who think Z is fine but the O wrong. This is not a bad linguistic habit but a mistaken idea, whose error needs to be explained. It's not that people who condemn O really already condemn Z and just need to be told to use the right words.

  • Netanyahu's holy war, and the coming Jewish schism
    • I think it's indeed interesting that the whiff of corruption is so strong. It will make it that bit more difficult for those in the know to think of Israel as a sacred cause. But 'that bit' may not be that much and those in the know may not be that many. The carbon corruption news is mainly about six months old and it is in a way remarkable that the impact has been so little. It has fed into the standard pattern whereby those who love Zionism but despise Netanyahu cooperate in the end quite effectively with those who echo N's angry rhetoric. A Jewish Reformation, meaning the emergence of a strong stream of Jewish opinion that did not merely oppose N's furious ways but regarded Zionism itself as a mistake - made Phil into a thoroughly mainstream figure - still seems a long way off. You never know with Reformations. I don't think Luther said anything that had never been said before but somehow the mixture that time went Bang.

    • Not as irrational as all that. The Zionist movement has taken so much with such a high hand and continue to take more every day. The proposition is that they should stop taking more and have their existing holdings legitimised. A charming diplomat speaks on behalf of governments whose democratic mandate is questionable and on behalf of public opinion whose major concern may not be Palestine but which must still be quite angry. I'm not sure I would take the diplomatic initiative at face value, especially since there is no intention to let even a foot's length of territory be non-Israeli but genuinely sovereign and when the other lot have not conceded that the Holy Land is rightfully Jewish and always has been, the idea on which Israel operates.

  • The NY Times attempts to isolate Kerry from Obama
    • Just back from a New Year party, maybe not thinking too straight, but happy 2017 to all the honourable electronic friends I have been privileged to make via Mondoweiss.

  • The formal end of the two-state solution
    • I too think that all this optimism is groundless. The agenda will be set by Trump. The rest of the world is not ready to make sacrifices to stop him.

  • Hear O Israel these parting truths -- John Kerry
    • There's truth in what you say, Dab. Of course you and I have not experienced the pressures of very high office from the inside.

    • You put your finger on the very important point, Sibi, that no one of any importance is prepared to grant the Palestinians any genuinely sovereign territory, 'not a foot's length'. Presumably Kerry has in mind some sort of collective security system embracing the Palestinian area, but there is no conceivable form of security that could deter the endlessly militarised, qualitatively edgy, Israeli military machine. All vain words. Yet not even this has ever been enough to secure Israel's cooperation. Even an unreal, completely dependent Palrstinian state is too much for them, too much of a thin end of the security wedge, too much of an affront to Zionism by making a non-Jewish presence look even remotely comparable in legitimacy to the Zionist one.

    • I'm sure you're right about group three, but the fear that certain forces able to influence many votes (including many non-Jewish ones, of course) would withdraw their support, considered to be vital, from the Democrat Party was paralysing. I suppose that the current wrecked state of the Party, needing to be rebuilt on foundations that no one can yet see, makes all those old prudent considerations unimportant. It's hard to foresee much good coming of this last gasp attempt of a dysfunctional system to function.

    • Not those values which are claimed to be Jewish and to proclaim radical inclusion - we have heard of these recently, though in the context where the one who proclaimed them became tongue-tied when asked to apply them to the ME. But they're there somewhere, facing - just like their counterparts in non-Jewish systems of thought - something of a struggle.
      The general idea among us on Mondoweiss has always been, I think, that those forms of Judaism that support Zionism are inauthentic.

    • Page: 35
    • Some settlement building is being put on hold, I see. It does make you wonder what might have been achieved without this pathetic waiting for a moment when Obama was neither seeking re-election nor promoting the election of a successor whose plans depended on massive Zionist support. The stage is set for Trump to come roaring into office as Israel's friend and rescuer amid another round of US Europhobia.

  • John Kerry gives the 'separate but not equal' speech to Israel
  • Israeli hysteria over UN vote is solidifying country's new status, as a rogue state
    • Rhetoric can be bemusing but hophmi, as I read him, was talking about Yoni F, rather than Phil, as the one who had fallen so far that there was no going lower.

  • Netanyahu ignored US warnings and brought Israel's 'international isolation' on itself -- Ben Rhodes
    • Dan provided links to two legal discussions of self-determination, an alleged right which I think has so far never been defined coherently, let alone justifiably. The first one says that there are no clear cut answers, which seems to me to be an admission that there is no clear definition. The second seems to make everything depend on whether the act of sd is anti-colonial or not, which to my mind introduces another element hard both to define and to justify. Reference is made to the rights of ideologically defined groups. I don't think ideological groups have a right to define a territory for themselves.
      Of course if anyone wants to offer a definition of sd I would be happy to join the discussion. The legal literature is much more circumlocution than definition,
      None of the proposed solutions is more practical or practicable than any other. Israeli power is not collapsing or even weakening but is about to be boosted, as is being made obvious in every way, by Trump. The other big man, Putin, has no record of and I think no interest in stopping Israel or in stopping Trump in this regard.
      Meanwhile, it's Christmas Day. Love to all,

  • Hell just froze over: the New York Times runs an article saying Zionism is racist
    • To me Z is the belief that people who are Jewish - and they only - have an inherent right, now commonly called a birthright, to a share in sovereignty over the Holy Land, others having that right only by the grace and generosity of the true heirs.

    • I don't think that the origin of the problem was a tactical choice in 41 but a profound matter of principle from the beginnning of Zionism. The Zionists bitterly resented and denied the anti-Semites' claim that Jews were a destructive presence and bad influence in the Western world. On the other hand they could not agree with the liberals' idea that Jewish people could readily be entirely fulfilled by life in the West, doing all that they ought to do and being all that they ought to be. That would make aliyah into a kind of exile, the leaving of a place of fulfilment and belonging - which to a Zionist it could not conceivably be. This meant that a Zionist, surveying the debate between anti-Semites and liberals, could not but think that the anti-S, malevolent and crazed as they all tended to be, did have a point that the liberals - well meaning but often quite incapable of seeing how right the Zionists were - could not grasp. Thus there was room for the possibility that anti-S would imply Z - there is no logical difficulty in a falsehood's implying a truth - and create room for policy in common. The Z theory of exile was very powerful and needs to be examined carefully.

  • Israel threatens to toss Antony Loewenstein after he asked Lapid question about apartheid
    • Perhaps humiliation and suffering are not things to be put to use but the outrage and dismay caused by suffering ought surely to be used to some extent to increase the good and reduce the bad in this world: which I think eljay is trying to do. There is always a certain danger that we become fascinated by what we deplore.

    • The argument that 'Your claim in defence of X would, if valid, serve to defend Y, when in fact Y is indefensible' certainly does not trivialise Y. It clearly works on the premise that Y is very bad, the reverse of trivialisation. It does not inflate X, i.e. necessarily mean that X is terrible - only that X cannot be defended in the way mentioned, in this instance by reference to post-truth presumptions.
      I agree that there can come a point where repeated specific reference to Y beyond the norm might suggest disturbingly that Y is somehow fascinating: any repetition can have that effect. But the use of rape as image of conquest is surely not that abnormal, so the point where it becomes disturbing is not quickly reached.

  • Historical evidence does not support Zionist claims re the Western Wall
    • Thanks, Mooser. Your words too, Dab, are maybe kinder than I have a right to expect! I don't disagree with anything you say this time - I certainly didn't claim to be conclusive. My original heading was 'How every guide replies: the Westerrn Wall' but I told Phil that he could use any heading or formatting that he thought fit. So, since I said that, the title is my responsibility. Direct ancient evidence for the status of the Wall is in fact quite thin - that should be acknowledged, I think. A full treatment would have to ask what plausible - you would probably say in exasperated tones 'What remotely plausible?' - alternative to the 'Zionist' theory could we find? To my mind there is room for quite a bit more discussion. I don't agree that the IAA and its allies represent an island of scientific sense in an ocean of unescoid nonsense and craziness.
      When the coins first appeared I thought that it was probably just a matter of the Temple growing like a medieval cathedral. In the light of the literary evidence I no longer think, for what my thoughts are worth, that that is plausible.
      There are of course direct statements in our sources which say that every wall in and around the Temple was smashed. Or are there? Is that exactly what they mean, did they know, can we trust them? It's not an easy matter.

    • Well, yes, I've thinking about these things for some time. I used the words 'neither earth-shattering nor insignificant' about the coins, which I think was reasonably fair for a comment at an early stage. The problem of the Wall's origin is very complex and the coin discovery added to the complexity. I deny that the problem can simply be swept aside by a few words from Josephus A 20. I did refer to Ritmeyer and to the 'repair' theory, saying I had some sympathy with it but also saw reasons for objecting to it. I'm not sure how significant it was that Josephus was not a lawyer. He considered himself a historian in the best Greek tradition and was a priest who knew the Temple in its glory days. My argument was that it's the words of A 20 that have been both over-interpreted and read without attention to context, whereas the plain as a pikestaff words of A 15 have been undervalued or ignored. Are there are arguments against that?
      Of course if one ditched Josephus and accepted John the Valerius Gratus coins would pose no problem at all, be exactly what one would expect. There'd be other problems. The whole question is very problematic!

    • Thanks for generous words, jon. I appreciate that.

    • Well, mc, I keep on saying that there are significant Judaism to Jerusalem links - I'm concerned that other links to other groups should not be ignored or deemed completely insignificant.

    • Thanks for kind words!

    • Quite so, ros. There are at least 3 levels to the discussion: the general claim to a Jewish link with Jerusalem, the specific claim about the Wall and the inference to current Israeli rights from these claims about the past. I think that the first is obviously true, though rather broad and unspecific. Israeli rhetoricians lash themselves into a rage if the second or third claims are denied, saying that the first claim (which is in fact generally accepted) is being questioned.
      The second claim may be true. My purpose was to say that there are difficulties with it that deserve consideration and that the IAA way with some of these difficulties is rash.
      The third claim is the one you make a point of denying, quite rightly.

    • Judaism and Jerusalem have significant links - no one reasonably denies that broad statement, surely. Others have links too. It's sometimes useful to think carefully about the details and the supporting (my predictive the text had made that 'spurting') evidence.

    • I do have degrees in classics, theology and philosophy, which I taught, but that does not make me much more than an interested amateur, I accept. I do claim to have read the relevant passages in Josephus carefully in the Greek language. This is a field where public, government-related bodies are making - I might say flinging around - statements which get picked up by journalists and become a sort of public orthodoxy. The phrase 'press-conference archaeology' has been used - the Palestinians attempt this as well, though not with the resources and panache of the Israelis. Moreover, many important and rather interesting incidents in the history of the Temple, about which so many ideologically loaded statements swirl, are little known even when they are relevant to public debate. So an amateur intervention with a narrow focus didn't seem inappropriate on balance.
      I've worked on this for months. Even so, I'm slightly on edge. Someone may well be about to point out that I've seriously misunderstood something!
      I quite accept that you've little reason to refer others to my work unless you think it well argued - and you may find that difficult to assess. I did try to avoid the anger and contempt that sometimes appear with these topics.
      Perhaps I should have added that I think that the relationship between the Temple and the Antonia Fortress is not understood as yet.

  • Challenging an ideology means rupturing with community and family
    • I usually think that Zionists don't know their Bible very well or that their Bible consists of Joshua in letters of fiery red four inches high with Esther appended. To my mind the story that reflects the self-image of the Persian Empire and its sympathisers is that of Abraham, the benevolent Iraqi who goes round finding ways to put things right, though to us it might seem that he has sometimes helped put things wrong in the first place. The standard claim of the King seems to have been to election by the local manifestation of God, implying that the local people would welcome the King's representatives and agents. The ideology of Joshua maybe derives from the circles around the exiled Judahite royal family in Babylon further edited in Hellenistic times when the Jews were being seen as the new Spartans. Its claim that both practical and moral limits fade away when one is on a mission to bend the arc of history the right way is powerfully made. The book is certainly of Jewish origin but the disturbing question, I think, is whether any optimistic view of history and its arc can avoid the drastic idea that when the arc needs to be drawn the right way everything is permitted.

  • Theresa May adopts a definition of anti-Semitism that demonizes Israel's critics
    • As to U.K. Jewish opinion, see poll from City University (London) Nov. 12, 2015, revealing very strong liberal Zionism - right to exist, 2 states, don't expand settlements. As we know, liberal Zionism is Zionism.

    • If anti-Semitism means (as it means to me) 'prejudice against Jews' it has always been and always will be mistaken, since there is no such thing as a reason for prejudice or for hostile emotions based on prejudice. If anti-S means 'negative sentiments directed at some people who are Jewish' then it would, like anti-Christianity etc. sometimes be justified, since no human group is impeccable. 'Hatng Jews' by itself, pure and simple, must go beyond the evidence provided by specific acts, so contains prejudice. I'd rather not see 'reasons for hating Jews' mentioned around here.
      Anti-Zionism is rejection of a purported moral principle, not an expression of emotion, though emotions may arise when one contemplates the fact that Z never stood a chance of becoming operational without intense and sustained cruelty. Then some people who are Jewish (those flinging white phosphorus around, perhaps) may be hated - and in all the circumstances some people who are Jewish will be admired. But there is no reason in any of this for directing hatred or admiration at anyone by reason of their being Jewish.

    • I'm a fairly traditional CofE member and antidisestablishmentarian and would accept your apoligy if I thought any such were called for. But yes, a definition of anti-Catholicism - suggesting that Rome was not the historic death place of St.Peter? - and even more pertinently of Islamophobia - suggesting that the Palestinian people does not exist? - would certainly be of interest.

  • Palestine in the Democratic Party platforms: 1988 and 2016
  • 'Love thy neighbor as thyself' -- Really?
    • Genesis 19: 36-38. I understand 'Moab' means 'from the father', indicating the desires of Lot's questionable daughters. They just didn't tend to do things right. But according to Deuteronomy 2:9 the Moabites have perpetual rights in their Transjordan fastness. God will not give it to the Israelites.

    • Lot was the ancestor of the Moabites, a thoroughly misbegotten bunch. The exclusionary laws of Deuteronomy 23 (which are indeed Christian as well as Jewish holy scriptures) distinguish not so bad from thoroughly bad foreigners, Edomites and Egyptians from Moabites and Ammonites. These laws stand in the way of radical inclusionist interpretation of Judaism and Christianity. The instruction 'not to abhor' (v. 7) the not so bad seems to be on a rather different plane from the call to love. As to the thoroughly bad, we 'must not seek their peace or their good all our days for ever'.

    • This woman is the only character in the NT to defeat Jesus in argument. The Evangelists have a problem in knowing what to call her - Mark uses the clumsy 'Syrophoenician' and Matthew the archaic 'Canaanite'. It would be very reasonable for translators to use 'Palestinian' at this point. Won't happen.
      I think that there must have been debate in Jewish theological circles about the nature of moral obligation in the first century. Treating a verse hidden deep in Leviticus (19:18) as 'the second great commandment' was an audacious idea, maybe original to Jesus or his followers. I would have trouble in taking v.18 as extending Neighbour status to non-Jews but the echo in v. 34 clearly does call for strangers in the midst to be loved.

  • 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.

    • Testing ability to coment

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