Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 3409 (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 3409 - 3401

  • 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.

  • '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

    • Page: 34
  • Trump’s Israel advisor (again) argues for annexation of the West Bank with bad math
  • Shimon Peres, Israel's greatest ambassador, will be remembered for enabling oppression of the Palestinians
    • As a reflection of common parlance I'd find that def from too extensive, because it seems that most people accept as 'one of us' those born abroad who legitimately join 'our' existing social contract - the word 'naturalised' expresses this.
      Those who come from abroad with the intention and effect of removing the existing social contract and replacing it, if necessary it by violent means, with one of their own devising never, unless and until until agreement is finally reached among all concerned, fully lose their foreign or alien status - logically, how could they? - and deserve terms like 'invader' even down the generations. I think that the Zionists know this as well as anyone. Their basic claim is that their social contract is not of their own but of God's devising - maybe of some God-surrogate within the mighty forces of historical progress. I don't agree with this claim but I hope I've stated it fairly.

  • The secret location for a debriefing on Palestinian art at the Guggenheim
    • The secret briefing seems to be absurdly melodramatic. However, the real bad news from the art front in the war of ideas seems to be that the organisers of a major ME art exhibition cannot find or are not looking hard enough for work produced amid the rigours and distresses of life in Palestine.

  • No responsibility. No morality. No comment. No boycott.
    • Mr. Cohen makes many effective points in effective words, though his view seems to be the complex one that Israel 48 would have been legitimate had a 2ss been honestly pursued but has lost or is in the process of losing Its shred of legitimacy because the 2ss is dying a death which is Israel's fault.

  • With Governor Brown's signature, California joins the attack on BDS
    • This still seems to me to be a rather empty gesture with few probable consequences. However, even as a gesture it reminds us how impregnable Zionism still is, despite the best efforts of the likes of us, in the political world of the Western countries. It's not so impregnable in the world of education.

  • NetanyaBOO!: Page Six punching bag Benjamin Netanyahu heckled at 'Hamilton'
    • He is a theatrical performance in himself. This is a very honest report but it does seem to me to contain some wishful thinking. There was a very small demonstration against him and some demonstration of support. The paraphernalia surrounding him are indeed grotesque but part of his theatrical self-presentation, still very widely applauded especially among the political class, as the grand leader of the grimly determined world anti-terrorist forces.

  • Shmuley Boteach seeks to blackmail Obama over his legacy
    • Thanks for that link, amigo - It revealed not only Lord Mitchell's resignation but the fact that the Labour parliamentary Party Friends of Israel has been relaunched, with membership 'tripled' to 65 and rebranded as a specifically pro-2ss outfit, with the slogan 'For Israel, for Palestine, for peace'. Ho hum. Perhaps an indication of a shift, though a very slight indication of at best a very slight shift,, in the way the wind is blowing.
      I'm centre-left rather than Left, so not very pro-Corbyn generally and I think he has been as disappointing to me as he has been to the very strongly Zionist Lord Mitchell. I thought his treatment of Naz Shah and his disowning of Paul Eisen were dreadful.

  • Who knew! Israel almost started war with Hezbollah in 2015, IDF officer reveals at NY synagogue
  • In full page NYT ad, liberal Zionist group calls for ethnic segregation to retain Jewish majority within Israel
    • It does seem strange that anyone should link the rights of people living and breathing now to inscriptions of 1200 BCE! But historical does tend to get politicised.
      Davidovits' deconstruction of Petrie's was unknown to me - there's something to be learned everyday! I was following the account in the Oxford History of the Biblical World, which does contain quite a bit of conjecture, particularly in linking some temple iconography with the Stela's words. To some extent my point would survive Davidovits, since the iconography in question does seem to suggest that the Egyptians of that tine thought of the people of Canaan as fairly homogeneous in culture, ie did not regard the Israelites, if they were indeed there, as an anomalous, alien or conquering group.
      Philip Davies, currently Chair of the Palestine Exploration Fund, has recently done a second edition of his 'In Search of Ancient Israel'. He doesn't seem to have taken account of Davidovits.
      An opprtunity to advertise, particularly to fellow residents of Berkshire! Davies is addressing the Reading Classical Association on May 11, 2017, on 'Which Ancient Israel Really Existed?' (7.30 Humanities Building G74). Should be fun. I'll remember to ask him about D'vits.

    • I'm accustomed to think of the system operating in Palestine as a form of minority rule and what zaid says does not surprise me, but I see that talknic takes, partly because the categories of 'Jewish' and 'Palestinian' overlap, a very different view. What sources of information do we have?
      Mind you, the moral difference between inflicting subordinate status in various forms, including disfranchisement, on 50% and on (only!) 20% of those subject to your sovereign power is not that great.
      The Merneptah Stela of 1200 BCE seems to show the Israelites as in the same boat, militarily and culturally, with the other Canaanites. Perhaps these things will come full circle in the fullness of time.

  • The two-stroke solution
  • 'Beholden to AIPAC' -- progressive senators Warren, Murphy, Brown sign letter seeking to limit Obama's actions
  • US aid deal gives green light to Israel's erasure of Palestine
    • It seems that Obama came into office having accepted assurances that Israel would be reasonable and ready to show his confidence and trust in them by appointing their keen supporter Clinton to run his foreign policy. He was praised by profoundly misguided academics for creating a team of rivals. He then made his grand proposal for a settlement freeze, only to find his little client state thumb its nose at him, the most powerful man on earth. I still find it almost unbelievable that he simply backed down, as he did, an action which meant that he never regained the authority he should have had in ME matters and never could fully dispel the air of weakness that hangs over him, though he made an effort over Iran. We won't know for a while how this was done, but it must have been something to do with the tension and difficulty in cooperation that always existed between him and Clinton.
      How can he not see that the right to indefinite settlement and indefinite will and power to force those settlements into existence implies, cannot but imply, that Palestine will one day be 100% Jewish settled - except for a few spots by grace and favour? He seems to imply that the Israelis 'cannot' in the end carry this programme out to the point of erasing Palestine but everything he does seems set, even if not wished or intended, to make the next settlement and the next after that easier - so what sets the limit?

    • I don't think Obsma is seeking to erase Palestine but to get it established on 2ss terms: I think that this is fairly clear from his whole record. Whether he can trap, force or trick Netanyahu into making a genuine 2ss offer, as even Mr. Cook seems to think is Obama's intention. may well be doubted. One significant problem is that the 2ss, accepting the right of non-Jewish people to exist in the Holy Land by inherent right, without Jewish grace and generosity, is contrary to Zionist principles.
      I think British weather can be quite encouraging. So did Keats.
      I often agree with Echino, very strongly this time about the sucking new format. Do something, please!

  • More insultingly stupid propaganda for Israel in the 'New York Times'
    • Rudoren would have been more objective and more humane had she asked how the idea of 'shared values' is viewed from the Palestinian side. Do they say 'The values of the two Declarations are in complete conflict' or do they say 'Those values are shared only too well'?
      The atrocity mentioned here surely has Western and Anerican analogues. We too have talked Enlightened and acted Shadowy.
      The language-borrowing was certainly an attempt to claim shared values, a claim essential to Israel's survival. It might be interesting, though surely rather painful, to compare different editions of the Declaration and to see how strongly the claim was pursued. The claim is not much in the way of evidence for its truth, of course.
      It was at least remarkably ingenious to combine Enlightened and Biblical in the way the standard apologia for Israel has.

  • 'Shame on you,' Israel, for turning Obama 'into some Jew hater,' Tom Friedman says
    • I certainly don't share Fruedman's overall view, but some of the things he says here are quite sensible.
      I think of Chomsky as a Lost Moment Zionist: there was once a situation when the Jewish people of this world had a right to establish a state in Palestine and a duty to use it to lead the world to socialism. They exercised their right, failed in their duty and so lost the right.

  • 'There's no occupation'
    • It's the imposition of sovereign power on people who are disfranchised. If it's an occupation it should be ended with the sort of dispatch that applied to the British occupation of Germany, which was legitimate and brief. Occupations that don't end quickly cease to be occupations and become takeovers or conquests. If it's not an occupation it's a land grab without local or international consent and should end immediately. One way of ending it would be to enfranchise all the people. Just to mention that there can be no right to acquire territory by defensive war and without more ado, since that would override the basic rights of the inhabitants and there cannot be any right to override basic rights. Treaties and general consents may change things, but general consent is the last thing we have in Palestine.

  • Trump could be bumpy for Jews
    • If anyone is to experience a Trump bump then everything suggests it will be Muslims. Some Jewish people will defend them.

  • Amos Oz would never stand in the street in Tel Aviv shouting 'Kill all the Arabs'
    • Jewis people chose to move and to remain outside Palestine from an early time, long before the Roman-Jewish wars. Everyone knows about the Jews of Alexandria and it's clear from Philo' 'In the Embassy' 23 that there was a fairly substantial Jewish community in Rome - though he says that in origin many had been slaves and then freedmen he suggests that they were now fairly prosperous. The New Testament shows widespread Jewish colonies and synagogues in many places, Rome included. It's often supposed that Paul's plan to visit Spain per Epistle to Romans shows that there was already a strong Jewish population there - and that is not implausible. Jewish traditions about Judah ha-Nasi in the late 100s CE indicate that top-level Jewish-Roman relations were not that bad. The successive Empires created opportunities and benefits as well as oppressions. These events were the beginning of an international presence that was chosen as well as enforced - and never enforced by bans on Jewish presence throughout Judaea, though it does seem as though the centre of Jewish life moved to Galilee where many synagogue buildings are found. These facts are not much of a foundation for a right to exclude Palestians in the 20th century, are they?

    • Anyone of Cherokee descent, except those who have accepted citizenship in other countries, can live anywhere in the United States, including Georgia, with full voting rights. If anyone of Palestinian descent, except those who have accepted citizenship in other countries, could live anywhere in Palestine with full voting rights that would be a great step forward.
      'Return of the Cherokee' could mean many things. I don't think that the most radical, the restoration of the former Cherokee territory in its entirety to a fully sovereign power which enfranchised only those of Cherokee descent, is morally right. That, I'd say, is because all Cherokee people have accepted a social contract in which the franchise is not so restricted by race, because it would cause more misery than happiness and because it is not demanded by the people of the Qualla Boundary and cognate places.
      I don't think that people who are citizens of one country have a right of return to such other countries as were birthplaces for some of their ancestors, even if some of these ancestors became refugees.

    • Yes, indeed, Stephen. Oz doesn't want a political Palestine, without any special status for those of Jewish race, to exist, except perhaps in a small corner of geographical Palestine: which has to be a negative anti- or miso- attitude towards the aspirations of many Palestinians. Just the sort of thing he doesn't like when dirrcted against Jews.
      Oz makes Avigail and many of us 'anti-Semitic' by definition. He's entitled to do that, but he cannot assume, just on the strength of his way of using the word, that we are in the wrong, since that requires substantial moral argument.
      The W of Oz - one of my most distressing recent discoveries has been that the charming Frank Baum, author of the book, advocated annihilation of the American 'Indians' in one of his newspaper columns.
      I look forward to the day when Avigail gets a BBC television platform.

  • Israel's bogus civil war
    • The settlements are ethnically cleansed areas and also armed camps, so should not exist as they are. They are small versions of what Israel is overall. I hope for a situation where there the opposite of ethnic cleansing, manifest absence of ethic discrimination, prevails, though I take Mooser's point that calls for multiculturalism and non-discrimination can, where there is so much discrimination to reverse, give overdue restitution an absurd air of generosity.
      Echono's right in many ways. The pieds noirs had done some ethnic cleansing of their own and done many bad things, though I'd say not every effect of their presence was negative. They did not all leave Algeria at once, though those who did not leave in the dramatic 'suitcase or coffin' first wave left slowly and steadily over the 60s and 70s, with only a tiny remnant there to this day. Or so it seems from a Guardian article (January 2013) by Andrew Hussey, who found a few attending a Catholic service. I would still call this ethnic cleansing - the piers noirs in France seem often to have complained of being treated as 'deservedly cleansed'. It's true that the ex-harki families have fared worse.

    • It's an interesting example. I think the pieds noirs did suffer what is now called ethnic cleansing and I'm sorry it happened. I would think it good, not that I'm any authority, if the settlements ceased to be armed camps under non-Palestinian control, the result of ethnic cleansing by the Israelis, and simply became open to Palestinians on equal terms. Not that this would be welcomed by Netanyahu.

  • 'Peace Now' chief slams AIPAC for misrepresenting Jews -- but Peace Now is on AIPAC exec committee
    • A movement that calls for certain equal rights, including the right not to be repressed or to be subject to systematic violence, regardless of race or religion - and in particular for this equality to be extended to a group now deprived of it - cannot in logic, unless wilfully misinterpreted or misrepresented, threaten repression or denial of free speech or sheer violence against anyone. The logic of BDS is not to threaten people who are Jewish but to invite them to join it. Many have.

  • Israeli government projects 'ethnic cleansing' on Palestinians
  • Banned from leaving Gaza, Palestinian group rocks out at border
    • What joke indeed! Are we to regard the blockade as a health improvement programme for residents of Gaza? I did once speak to a British doctor, a man of some distinction, who had worked in Gaza, and said to me that no one who went near the place could be blind to what was really going on. However, none so blind as those who won't see.

  • NYC city council anti-BDS bill meets resistance from protesters
    • If it is the influence of us, presumably Westerners who believe that the Palestinians are being treated unjustly, that is preventing peace, then our influence is much greater than I had supposed. It seems reasonable to ask on what terms would peace exist if we withdrew from the scene? Surely the most important means to peace is a peace proposal. I see no such thing on any table.

  • Dozens of Spanish cities declare themselves ‘Free of Israeli Apartheid’
    • As to indigenous people pre-dating the Jews, I would ask what is meant by 'indigenous' in this question. I mentioned my own usage above, whereby the Palestinians are indigenous enough. I don't pretend to be the arbiter of language - no one has to use words as I do, though I'd suggest that I'm fairly close to most people's way of talking. I'll address the question of 'indigenous for how long' but would like to be informed whether my definition is accepted or else what other is on offer - also to what extent pre-dating matters for the discussion.
      As to Jewish antiquities, I. Finkelstein's theory as I understand it is that the Judahites were actually an indigenous people but scorned to be - this was partly because of the militaristic values of 630 BCE and partly because of the great ambitions of King Josiah, ably abetted, to put it mildly, by his brilliant scribes. It was considered more honourable and more a mark of divine favour to be the heirs of conquerors.

    • For another point of view see Dore Gold 'Archaeology is the best defence of Jewish Ties to Jerusalem', JPost Sepember 11, 2016. Much is being made of reassembled floor tiles in Herodian style found - ie the fragments were found - amid Temple Mount debris.

    • What historians and archaeologists do you have in mind, zaid ?

    • This 'indigenous' term keeps on arising. First, is it a crucial component of John's argument - I think not. The required point is made by saying that Israel has on the whole treated the non-Jewish residents of the area abominably.
      Second, what does it mean? I would say that anyone is indigenous where born - inde genita est. I would say that a group is indigenous many of its members were born there and there's no sense of anything exceptional about the individuals who were. I don't see any need to say 'one area, one indigenous group' or the other way round. An area can have many indigenous groups and one group can be indigenous to many areas.
      Third, what does it matter? The political rights of an individual in an area - and the question of whether (s)he is being treated abominably - do not depend on belonging to a group that is indigenous, do they?
      Fourth, Jewish theology does not say that 'the inheritance in the land of Canaan' was due to the Israelites' being indigenous there. Quite the contrary: they were conquering immigrants by special and unique divine mandate, planned to bring all nations to God in the end, a process which Jewish and Christian thinkers came to understand differently.

    • This article prompted me to look at the judgement in the case of BDS and Leicester City Council. The right under UK law of local authorities to give support in principle to BDS was firmly upheld. It was interesting that when the offence given to Jewish groups was considered, the fact that Jewish opinion is not unanimous was noted. Maybe that point will have some importance and maybe Mondoweiss will be prominently mentioned if similar litigation arises in the United States. However, part of the easy success in the UK arose from the fact that it was a non- binding resolution and that no action had been taken as yet in consequence. If a business had been able to complain that it had lost money things might have been different.

  • Bidding for access to Clinton, Goldberg says Bill can cut peace deal and win Nobel
    • Thanks, JLD, very interestimg! Clinton and Trump must be a blackmailer's dream team. On the other hand, if this is true, the whole Israeli leadership must know that both Clintons - and perhaps Trump as well - covertly loathe and detest them in a highly personal way.

    • It's hard to see why Bill Clinton should succeed this time when he has tried once before without success. Netanyahu's manipulations presumably include blackmail with the aid of a lot of plausible information. I wonder what he had on Obama? Recordings of vigorous agreement with Jeremiah Wright, perhaps? He will certainly have a fat dossier on the Clintons, not necessarily all true but probably quite sensational.
      That Goldberg treats Netanyahu as in effect the main obstacle to peace is quite interesting.

  • Why segregation is the single most important issue in Israel, and practical ways to confront it
    • The Palestinian birth rate is a countermeasure - 'we're not going anywhere' - to potential population transfer policies, certainly not an indication that those policies are never thought of.
      I've said often - perhaps should have said again - that elimination as a political force implies massive reduction in numbers but not total elimination. I think it's almost as important - 'Zionism isn't racism' - that some Palestinians should continue to live in the country as that most should leave.
      It is clear enough, surely, that Israel - ever consistent with Zionist principle - doesn't want to become 'Israestine' with everyone enfranchised, doesn't want the Palestinians as a manifestly subject people, doesn't want the irritation of a hostile population in Gaza, doesn't see any way of ending that hostility, doesn't really want a 2ss and does want an indefinitely continuing and practically effective right of Jewish settlement right up to the waters of Jordan. What logical space is there for anything other than a grand scale, though not necessarily all at once, relocation of people?

    • Sorry, Friedman's article was from 2014, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. The Times of Israel report is form April 5, 2016.

    • Emily Friedman, writing in H&HN Daly for June 3, 2016, celebrates the impact of the Civil Rights Act on US hospitals. She gives the impression that segregation is illegal and unthinkable as an overt policy anywhere. The Times of Israel for April 2016 refers to a call for segregation by a politician called Bezalel Scnmirsky,,specifically in maternity wards, though N Bennett, even he, rejects this on theological grounds and the Health Ministry says it just doesn't happen. In response the New Israel Fund has published two articles about maternity segregation in a place called Kfir Saba. Not only does it happen but advertisements protesting against it get taken down for offending public sensitivity. The overall picture is not really terrible but is not unblemished and is not particularly to the disadvantage of the United States.
      The article was basically, I think, about 'property and land' in 48 Israel and the rebuttals have tended to change the subject towards other things like refugees and health care. I think hophmi's figures do point to the resurgence of the IsraeliPalestinian middle class: will they begin to erode segregation or experience it more sharply?

    • I too think that all but complete elimination was and is the intention. The article seeks to understand the situation in Marxist terms which I have never found convincing. I don't think that the Israelis are settler colonialists intent on exploiting the Palestinians as cheap labour, which I know many good and intelligent people have believed, and is implied here by the term 'Zionist class'. But surely the mass of Zionists do not form a class owning the means of production? They do form a group committed to a terrifying nationalist ideology which is quite happy to import cheap labour from the 'reserve economic army' of the whole world, comparatively expensive as this import must be. The Palestinians of Green line Israel are not so much the local proletariat as a disadvantaged and somewhat contemptuously treated minority, middle class members included.

  • There's no room on campus to be progressive and pro-Israel
    • On water supply, the Economist for July 30 had a really depressing and horrifying report, 'Not yet a drop to drink'. Israel's former problems are much relieved and a technological paradise of desalination and recycling is being created. Recycling in the WB involves mucky sinks. There is a major problem with rusting and leaking pipes. A committee supposed to address that problem has not met for 5 years. 'You will live like dogs and anyone who wants can leave' was a proposition attributed to M. Dayan by R. Ben Cramer in 'How Israel Lost' about a decade ago. Reading the Economist report you see what both clauses of this proposition really mean and how demonic certain details can be.

    • A Ciceronian sequence of increasingly angry questions. I would say that Israel remains in control because if thinks it is the legitimate sovereign. Reasons are given, not necessarily consistent. They are, I think, all mistaken - to mention two, there is no operative divine mandate and there is no right to gain territory in a defensive war. (It is hard for thiose, Jewish, Chrustian or other, who claim a divine mandate and are heavily armed, to claim plausibly to be fighting defensively.).
      There is no obligation to accept offers - that is the difference between offer and dictation. Talk of offers rejected in the past, even if true, is just talk about the past. What liberal-minded Israelis need to do is press their givernment to make an offer now. Please do this.
      Mondoweiss is a site where advocacy of violence is forbidden but we can note that some 'Arabs' - mind you, it is racist to draw attention to their actual race when the important fact is that they are subject to a sovereign power that disfranchises them not because they are of this race or that, but (as per Beinart) 'just because they ate not Jewish' - have considered that the injustice done to them justifies bombing campaigns. Would things were better, would they were different. The best way to make them different would be that realistic offer.
      Many of us consider that the idea of a state 'for the Jewish people' rather than 'where there is no discrimination against people who are Jewish or anything else' illegitimate but are aware that the Palestinians have a right to accept a 2ss if offered. Offer it! How long will you abuse our patience?

    • No bad reflections there, certainly. There is an indication that the traditional inhibitions on anti-Israelism in a liberal environment, which Kogen thinks are endangered, are still quite strong. Perhaps my 'pretty picture' sounded disparaging - wasn't meant to. The trees look beautiful and caused, though I've never been to Oberlin, nostalgia for student days.

    • You have a pretty picture of Oberlin College at the top of this article. I've been following the Joy Karega business there. The disciplinary process is now in its seventh month. It is extraordinarily cumbersome and the outcome may still be some way off, but I suspect she has paid for her (in my view, wild) 9/11 allegations with her career. I don't believe that wild allegations against (say) Nigerian, Indonesian or French targets would have caused much more than a ripple. It seems that the cultural barriers and connections which Mr, Kogen believes in are not as badly damaged as he fears.

  • Many leftwing Israelis are leaving the country -- 'Forward' breaks an important story
    • The emigration story should maybe be set beside Uri Avineri's recent contribution to the LRB blog, dwelling on Israeli tensions and disunity. He points to the anxieties and calls for an agreement coming from former heads of the intelligence services. I'm not too hopeful of seeing a major positive outcome. The emigration is a safety valve, reducing the ability of progressive and peacemaking forces to create tensions and receive concessions. They will increase the Israel-critical forces in the West but the liberal Zionist embrace awaits them there and may make their critique mild and acceptable.

  • Liberal Zionists see 'window of opportunity' for two states in last three months of Obama administration
    • I believe - maybe I'm wrong!! - that the cultural influence of the Bible remains very strong, Zionist interpretations of the Bible gaining great strength and credence among Christians in reaction to WW2. There is no other masterpiece of world literature that gives - or if suitably interpreted seems to give - an air of sacredness to a process of conquest that is still happening. Nothing else in families and schools that are traditionally Jewish or Christian has comparable authority. As you say, Atlanta, it's all very hard to explain. What other influence can we perceive? A genuine question.
      Of course some people appeal to the Bible in the cause of White supremacy also. But this is regarded, by strong contrast with at least the milder forms of Christian Zionism, as rather worse than eccentric. Well, I live in the Deep South of England, not of America. But even there I can't think that there are many who seriously share the view of some of the old New England colonists that White people are reclaiming the land from the devil's clutches.

    • That's a good question, Atlanta. I think it's the influence of the Bible as it has been interpreted of late.

  • Daniel Berrigan's 1973 prophecy: Israel is becoming 'the tomb of the Jewish soul'
    • I think that Raphael is either a person with certain agonies that deserve a degree of sympathy or else, more likely, a persona rather than a person, as others here have been. Nakba justification is their most common activity. Sometimes they manage to break several of our rules in about 100 words, which takes some talent.

    • If it were to be agreed generally that Judaism and Zionism are not to be conflated, that there is no good reason for support of one to imply support of the other, that would be a great step forward. However, Berrigan's talk of the Zionist 'dream become nightmare' marks him as being in his principles what we would now call a liberal Zionist. His constant use of religious language suggests that he sees the 'millennial dream' of Zionism as a legitimate expression of Judaism and shows how deep the conflation of J and Z had gone in postwar Christian theology, liberal theology especially. This was the time of Reinhold Niebuhr and Krister Stendhal.

  • Syrian death tolls and the kinder gentler jihadists
    • I think that Donald's remarks were rather fair. Distant or armchair pronouncements do lend themselves to self-righteous and one-sided rhetoric, as Keith suggests. But even saying 'there are atrocities on all sides' is to make a moral,statement.

  • 'Everything that we have done since 9/11 is wrong' -- the worldview of Major Todd Pierce (Retired)
    • Arrow, following Condorcet, proved as I understand that there is no procedure that is democratic, in the sense of giving everyone an equal voice, that can turn individual sets of preferences into 'the will of the people' consistently without often generating paradoxes whereby there is a majority against everything, so that much that does happen is done against the people's will in some significant sense.
      We see this in reality when after hundreds of rounds of democratic decisions people will still say, as they often do by sizeable majorities, that 'the country is on the wrong track': how can that have happened if democracy has been at work so long and hard? Sometimes a politician will leave office 'favoured', as Obama seems set to do, but on the whole people seem to go through a ritual of giving their voice and confidence to politicians whom they elect and re-elect but treat with a great show of mistrust, even though most politicians are trying hard to retain and increase their support - how can all this happen among rational people?
      The Arrow-style explanation, I think, is that there has by mathematical necessity to be, if decisions are to go on being taken, an element of what he calls 'dictatorship', ie a means for breaking ties, resolving disputes and making choices without a majority, which is by definition non-democratic - some people, if necessary one person, must be privileged. Arrow's dictators are a necessary feature of all societies where people are encouraged to express their preferences, not a malevolent aberration like Plato's tyrants.
      In former times these things were dimly and informally understood and great hopes were placed in divine power as the source of the 'dictatorial' elements. We now tend to look away from these elements and to make them complex and discreet (sort of).
      For those of us who say we would welcome a free and democratic post-Zionist society in Palestine all this is rather depressing, since it affords the Zionists the argument that we are 'only' transferring the Arrow-dictatorial element from some to other hands. But in truth 'only' does not mean 'in a morally neutral fashion'. Arrow-dictatorship takes one of its worst forms when it is exercised in part through disfranchisement on race-related grounds. In this situation the arbitrariness, vindictiveness and sheer terror of tyranny in Plato's sense cannot be far away.

  • Gaza 2 years on: These children are now gone forever and an empty space remains
    • The withdrawal of colonial powers, distant sovereigns, is one thing - and has happened a lot. The withdrawal of populations that moved into an area during the days of colonial power is another and has happened much less. I for one do not call for further movement of populations but I do call for an end to all situations where sovereign power is exercised over people whom that power does not enfranchise, except where the situation has an exceptional degree of consent.

  • Liel Leibovitz wants to excommunicate most American Jews, beginning with Beinart
    • I agree that BDS is an attack, at least a rebuke, directed mainly, though maybe not solely, against people who are in fact Jewish. But unless the idea that people who are Jewish may do wrong, or may be rebuked for the wrong they do, is unacceptable in all circumstances there may be good reason for an attack so directed, meaning that we do not have a reason for out of hand rejection of it.

  • Months after saying he won't appear at Israeli foreign ministry events, Amos Oz will do just that in Paris
    • I think that LZ has been crushed in the sense of having no plausible argument, but I would think that, wouldn't I? I wish I could think that it was being crushed in the sense of generally discredited but I think that along with its charming cousin, infinite patience with Israel, it is still the position of almost every significant political, cultural and religious leader in the Western world. The few exceptions tend to be in the foreign ministries and suchlike of the smaller Western countries, like Sweden and Ireland, where the 2ss is clearly seen for the painted scenery that it is and where United States dominance is not so comprehensive as in the major NATO countries.

    • Quite so, Stephen. Of course if Europe is the abusive father the United States must be the wicked, or at least thoroughly ambiguous uncle. But Oz - ah, that moody existentialist look! - and Portman won't say that, which would bring them close to saying that it's all the fault of the Whites or the Christians. Laor's 'Myths of Liberal Zionism' is quite good on Oz. The overwhelmingly most important LZ myth is of course the ever mesmerising 2ss.

  • 'Democracy' and 'terrorism' and the parameters of thinkable thought
    • The question of judging at first hand rather than from some distant ivory tower seems rather different from the question of language and choice of words. I actually think that terrorism is a perfectly useful word and that those who resist an occupying or conquering power can be terrorists: resistance is full of moral problems as some WW2 literature shows. But first hand experience comes both ways, on the side of the resistant Palestinians, called terrorists but clearly victims of a situation where they lack normal rights, no less than on the side of Israelis encountering resistance, called victims of terrorism but clearly involved in maintaining the existing situation which advantages them. Distant or ivory tower judgement has its place in trying to balance the immediate judgements on both sides.

  • France's burkini ban is a dangerous, Islamophobic assault on feminist values
    • Well, Danaa, you may be living up to your possible ancestor Danae/Dinah, who in both guises had relationships that led to trouble. You made me think. This sort of event does indeed lead to posturing and your sympathy with the idea of local control for local facilities is understsndable. I tend to see not charming local communities but pompous local autocrats, but perhaps that is hasty.
      However, I still think that the demand for secularist clothing was ill-considered. An opprtunity to show acceptance of Muslims in our midst was thrown away and tension needlessly raised. If the matter was seen as really rather trivial then police enforcement was inept. If it was a serious matter then huge international attention was only to be expected and improvised, slightly incredible explanations about feminism and national security were bound to backfire. What answer is there to the claim that secularism is showing itself as neurotic and controlling as religions have tended to be?
      I still think it was also vindictive and demeaning. There had been an IS claimed terrorist incident which killed masses of people but unpleasant and contemptuous treatment of people who practise Islam but have committed no crime is not logical, just an expression of a wish to do something nasty and symbolic, but not deserved, therefore vindictive.

    • The bbc is telling us that the French Administative court has declared the ban illegal. Well done! However, at least one of the local horrors has declared that he will defy the court. Meanwhile an Ifop poll has support: neutrality: opposition to the ban = 64: 30: 6. A letter in the I, the ex-Independent, mentions how the writer was ordered out of a French pool for wearing shorts, an illustration of the French passion for rigorous enforcement of pointless rules.

    • Like eljay I don't feel victimised but I do feel at very least some dismay and embarrassment at seeing a part of Western society behave like this. An opprtunity for a degree of friendly interaction has been wantonly thrown away and action taken which is petty, ill-considered, vindictive and dangerous. I then see members of the French intellectual and political class resorting to absurdity - 'national security!' - in defending all this.

  • Israel bans entry for two more US activists
    • These no-archivists are rather disturbing. As to history, Mondoweiss kindly published an article by me on June 22 1913 arguing that 'Palestine' is (thanks to Herodotus) the only name for the entirety of modern Palestine known, at least clearly attested, from pre-Roman times, though I think now that I should have said something about the Seleucid 'Coele Syria', which the Romans must have disliked. They made 'Judaea' or 'Kingdom of the Jews' into international usage until the traditional 'Palestine' returned, rather slowly and undramatically, after 135 CE and Bar-Kochba. It does seem that Jews were prevented, at least in theory, from living within sight of Jerusalem but Jewish life continued vigorously elsewhere, Galilee in particular, where there are so many ancient synagogues. There was no mass enslavement or expulsion, though there were indeed large Jewish presences elsewhere, Jewish people having long been very international-minded.

  • Pro-Israel groups close in on anti-BDS victory in California legislature
    • This seems like utter gobbledygook which provides no coherent basis for any action at all. How can you commit perjury outside a courtroom?

  • Let's talk about Russian influence
    • There is a good review by David Edgar in a recent London Review of Books of recent books on Ukraine, very much leaving the impression that there are evil forces on both sides, but that the fascist element in Ukrainian nationalism is now doing 'hearteningly badly'. Mind you, the fact that there are evil forces at work in the anti-Putin parts of Ukraine does not show that evil forces are not at work in Putin's Russia, of which I am wary, though I also think that Clinton's hostility to Russia has done significant damage.

  • A French, a Palestinian, and a black woman all wade into a pool
    • I've just seen a BBC video in which a woman appears to be fined on a beach and then to remove some clothes, presumably enough to permit her to continue sunbathing. It's really demeaning to all concerned in different ways. The mayoral decree is quoted - it doesn't specify removal of burkinis but of dress showing disrespect for secularism. Who are these secularists to demand that people defer to them even in the way they dress?

    • I agree with Krauss and RoHa that this is not an example of the kind of discrimination that Moti Dotan apparently calls for - by contrast the French mayors would just love to see Muslim women in bikinis making their integration into white society manifest. The real issue is the claim of 'an imposed religious presence' and of symbolic 'enslavement of women'. Surely the whole idea of a free society is that the only ground for stopping an activity is harm or serious risk to others: merely making one's religious affiliation obvious does not fit that bill, surely? Religion doesn't have to be private in the sense of concealed any more than any other opinion.
      The question of how personal autonomy, the opposite of slavery, is recognised may be difficult but 'forcing people to be free' is a very questionable project. Imputing slavery at the moment when someone is pursuing.a self-chosen leisure activity seems to be making an implausible start. Petty regulation about such things as beachwear doesn't seem to represent a liberating spirit.

  • A new milestone: BDS at the Olympics
    • Looking for information about Gabby D I find she has just now secured a place on the judging panel for Miss America.

  • The Palestine-Israel language trap
    • The joke wears thin, doesn't it?

    • A personal attack, really nasty, which seems to breach three of our rules - 1, 4 and 7 - all at once.

    • i'm not sure which character in Herzl's novel Altneuland makes this remark but the main argument of the book is that the Jewish immigrants, the 'New Society', will not drive out or replace the Palestinians or their Islamic culture. They will bring in money, technology and benevolence and make sure there's enough for everyone, much more than there ever was before. Everything will be terribly mutual. You could say that the Abraham story, which concerns a rich immigrant from Iraq with new tech - domesticated camels - who, with a few wobbles, puts everything in Palestine right, makes the same argument. if the Israelis accept the description of themselves as settler colonialists they may not blush but say 'Good for us'. Think of Netanyahu's recent remarks about Arabs who, only in Israel, are prosperous and democratic.

    • The words you use really strike home but I'm still not sure we're out of the language trap. Settler-colonialism at this rate is really a word for theft and murder, keeping people from their ancestral (here the word is justified!) homes by force and bloodshed, not to mention effrontery and lies. The language trap for the likes of us seems to be that if we use the rather academic term SC we get involved in rigmaroles and if we use more forthright terms we look ourselves like extremists, breaching the decencies of Western discourse. We are made to look - how do they get away with it ? - as if our objection is not to outrageous mistreatment of people who have done nothing wrong but to the blood and ancestry, of all irrelevant things, of the people who perpetrate the outrage.

    • Of course it's bollocks and worse. The thought that it is so widely believed and respected makes me near scream.

    • I'd be interested to see a statement of a universal right to enter territory on the basis of ancestral residence, followed by exclusion, and on nothing else. Does all ancestral connection, recent or distant (maria's question) qualify? Does it confer a right to exclude others? Is it important or crucial to prove that one's ancestors were excluded by force? If someone accepts citizenship of another country do they retain all the rights they had on leaving the former country?
      On the historical side I presume that the existence of the Herodian Kingdom of the Jews, which was not a kingdom of Jews only, around 1 CE is not disputed. What is disputed is the existence of a pagan polity conquered - ie the occurrence of a horrible destruction of people living on their ancestral land - by Joshua. Zionist historiography seems rather to conflate these two things, claiming that contemporary Jewish people are heirs both to the destroyed polity of 70 CE and to the destroying polity of (say) 1250 BCE - presenting the first claim on the basis that this sort of destruction should not happen and should always be reversed and the second on the basis that this sort of destruction is sometimes to be celebrated and its results preserved for ever.
      Some claim that there is a special and unique factor in the form of a divine mandate given to people who are Jewish and to no one else.
      In connection with my original questions to Avigail, I don't see how calling the Zionists 'settler colonialists' precludes the rhetoric about ancestral homelands or about divine mandates.

    • I always enjoy reading your remarks, Avigail, but I'd like to ask what meaning is given to 'settler colonial'? To me, SC means something like what was going on in Panama 1520 or Masachusetts 1630, with distant external sovereignty asserted and colonists arriving from a mother country which puts or purports to put their activities on a legal basis and provides essential long term support. Israel does not seem to fit this bill at all, so the intended meaning must be somewhat different - I'd like to see it stated.
      Does use of the term SC get us fully clear of the language trap? Might it not be anti-Semitic to object in particular to this example, one among several, of SC? Might Jewish people not have some Special, splendidly unique reason to practise SC?
      I keep hoping you'll be giving a lecture here in the Deep South of England some time.

  • The politics of Jewish ethnocentrism
    • Seconded

    • If I were discussing the Akedah I would begin by saying that it's as much a problem for Christians as for Jews. However, a look at Akedah in the Jewish Virtual Library will show how important the topic of Abraham/Isaac has become in Israel - Avi Sagi's 'The Meaning of the Akedah in Israeli Culture and Jewish Tradition' (Journal of Israel Studies, 1998) is often referred to. Interpretations of the Akedah have become highly political, so are of legitimate interest in the discussion of Zionism. Carol Delaney's "Abraham on Trial' (also 98) has been followed by her article on 'Sacrificial Heroics' (Columbia Law Review 2006). Delaney perhaps uses slightly less inflammatory language than was used by Gingershot in our deleted comment but her conclusions are hardly less severe. The importance she attaches to the Akedah may seem excessive -it's only a story, after all. But she makes a detailed, researched and passionate case. The difference is that she thinks that all the Abrahamic religions are severely affected and turned towards violence by the Akedah story, which she regards as foundational. However,,she traces the militaristic (to my mind unnatural) interpretation of the Akedah, whereby the father sacrifices the son by inducing him to join an army, to one of Wilfred Owen's poems, ie to someone of Christian background.
      Well, my first point is that this is a topic which has been regarded by many as very significant. My second is a question which genuinely puzzles me: if I begin by saying that Judaism and Christianity are in the same boat do I escape accusations of anti-Semitism or indeed of Christian-bashing which I would have incurred if I had referred to one religion only?

    • Bruce Chilton's 'Abraham's Curse' (2008) surveys all the Abrahamic religions and their view of human sacrifice, arguing as I remember that all are capable of a better and a worse conception of these things. No religion is perfect, so perhaps in some circumstances religious polemic, such as gingershot offers us, is called for. But it's a dangerous genre. I admit that if authentic Judaism supports Zionism and I consider Zionism to be wrong I must to some degree oppose Judaism, but really I have no doubt that Judaism could survive in authentic form without any Z implications.

    • I think that the researches of Jacques Kornberg and Shlomo Avineri have shown that Herzl did not at first have any strong belief - probably, any belief - in Dreyfus' innocence and was ready to write admiringly about France in the immediate aftermath of Dreyfus' trial in late 1894. The pro-Dreyfus movement did not really get going until 96. Herzl's contemporary acvount does not mention cried of 'Death to Jews' - at the time of his trial Dreyfus it wouid have seemed more logical to suspect Dreyfus for his other 'racial' characteristic, that he came from Alsace, then lost to Germany, and spoke with a Germsn-sounding accent. The three people who got the pro-Dreyfus movement going were Dreyfus' brother Matthieu, the anarchist (later friend, still later rival to Herzl and ambiguous Zionist) Bernard Lazare and Auguste Scheurer-Kestner, the Protestant leader of the ex-Alsace people in France. Herzl exaggerated his concern in 1899, when Dreyfus was the centre of a major international scandal. In 95 his concerns were roused by a different figure, the future Mayor Lueger of Vienna, a professed anti-Semite with consuderable support from the Vienna masses and from the Church. But these were not representative of modernity in quite the same way as the French leadership and French public opinion were. Here we find one of the roots of the often slightly disingenuous Zionist rejection of progressive forces in Europe.

  • 'NYT' and Sen. Murphy have a double standard on Yemen and Gaza slaughters
  • The breathtaking arrogance of Alan Dershowitz's 'advice' to Black Lives Matter
    • I wish I could agree with Thomas that the days of profligate accusations of anti-S and blood libel are coming to an end. In the UK at least they appear to be lengthening, with recent events in the Labour Party, Naz Shah and other victimisations and the apparent instruction that the terms Z and anti-Z be replaced with Supprter/Opponent of Israeli policy, which are not at all the same thing.

  • Beinart calls anti-Zionists 'revolutionaries'
    • The most successful 2ss in North American history was surely that of United States vs Canada,the least successful the collection of apparent attempts to leave some territory in First American hands by treaties that were disregarded. If you think of the Missouri Compromise of the 1820s,, revised in 1850, as a 1ss with two entrenched systems marked by very different conceptions of human rights then it would be reasonable to think of the post-Civil War system as a 1ss with a more unified conception of those rights, at least with no formal and universal insistence on disfranchisement on grounds of race.
      It would seem that a 2ss can work only if both sides can assert themselves and there is either no massive disparity of power or else a degree of mutual respect and that a 1ss needs to be based on general enfranchisement. What we have now in Palestine is one sovereign power which disfranchises a vast number of those subject to it. This wifi not work for ever and I think everyone knows it.

  • Boycott, from within and without
    • But would not the transformation that we seek produce something which,,even if Jewish people played a big and honoured part in it, could no longer reasonably be called 'the Jewish State'? The State that could be so described would no longer exist.

    • The Palestinians, who had been promised - hypocritically promised, but promised - their full rights under the dynasty of documents descended from Balfour, considered that they should not be forced, any more than any population should or normally is, to accept the immigration of people born elsewhere and not speaking their language in a way completely uncontrolled by them. They had in this respect a normal morality. There was nothing particularly warlike about them: they were not used to war or trained for it.
      What we have here is further Nakba justification in unbalanced style. Where are our rules?

    • I appreciate your extensive reply, Jonathan, but what in the end is the answer to slogan-like questions in the style 'You lot want to destroy the Jewish State, don't you?'. If we can't reply crisply 'Of course' or 'Of course not' and if we need hundreds of words in reply to about ten then we lose the argument as far as public opinion is concerned, I think. I try to reply 'We don't want destruction, we want a new creation' but I'm certainly not confident that those words are an effective response.

    • I accept that the Palestinian problem cannot be solved without some risks - there are risks for us in the West too. Israel has caused a great deal of angry resentment, so is surely 'holding a wolf by the ears' as I think someone said of Anerican slavery. Wolves are respected creatures but they do get angry in certain circumstances. If you are in this kind of situation the temptation is to hang on but the logic is that you must end it. Israeli governments pretend to be working on a 2ss but take care that no offer should ever be on the table and are, I am sure, really working on a plan to move the great mass of Palestinians out, which even amid the splendid opportunity of a Clinton/Trump presidency will not work and will of course be deeply immoral. I would call on all logical Israelis to seek a solution that will work quite urgently.

    • The word 'destroy' suggests that there may be nothing at all or nothing but dust, ashes and wreckage where the destroyed thing was - as with destroyed buildings, destroyed papers etc.. There is no call here for wastelands or anarchies or deaths but for renewal of Palestine as a place where no normal residents are subject to a sovereign power that disfranchises them, where there are equal rights and duties regardless of race or religion and where the regime has not survived by mass exclusion of former inhabitants. That's not destruction, it's creation.

  • Olympian at the checkpoint: why a Palestinian swimmer couldn't train in Jerusalem
    • Israel or anyone would be exceptionally and conspicuously mean actively to obstruct someone pursuing an honourable ambition just because of being a non-citizen. And Israel has not done this. But in all the circumstances one recalls that the tender mercies of oppressors are quite harsh.

    • No on can prove that an individual competitor would have done better in better conditions but what can be expected if there is an Occupation without a clear end in sight? It must mean coercive control, tending to increase rather than diminish, which will impose cost and trouble on the population concerned, holding them back whether they have special ambitions or just want to live normal lives. Sometimes there will be incidents that dramatise this underlying situation and despite all the bluster (it's a sob story! She's a born loser!) the reputation of the occupier/conqueror will take a slight dent.

  • New San Francisco bus ads say: 'Boycott Israel Until Palestinians Have Equal Rights'
    • I think she would have boarded that bus with mixed feelings.
      The letter, rather advertisement, that appeared in the NYT for November 23, 1975, is worth a read, maybe alongside Lenni Brenner's essay on Zionism and the Civil Rights movement - the latter provides many details and has a ring of truth, though a very definite point of view. Both are troubling and saddening.
      The letter/manifesto has many well-known signatories, including Harry Belafonte, Andrew Young and Rosa Parks. It is no mere acceptance of Zionism but a essay in one-sided, effectively contemptuous rhetoric about Palestinian self-determination, subject-changing distraction and distinctly racist language - 'Arab oil prices', O mi God.
      I am sure that many of us who were around in 75 would regard much of what we said then and the tone we took then as best forgotten. But a manifesto in the NYT is a very public thing and you would have thought that as the 80s progressed and people became much more sensitised to the wider connotations of language that some of those signatories would (perhaps some did) have expressed regret or drawn back from what they had said then. Andrew Young had by then lost his UN job for an attempt to reach out to the PLO. Rosa Parks had throughout been working for John Conyers, then and to this day one of the most Israel-sceptic voices in Congress. She herself spoke in public a great deal but there seems to be no record of her ever returning, for good or ill, to the subject of Palestine in any emphatic way. The 1975 statement had been remarkably emphatic.
      Belafonte had tried to mediate on the subject of Palestine between MLK and Stokely Carmichael. There was an intense discussion at his house, according to Brenner, on April 15, 1967. Brenner rightly says that the degree of cooperation envisaged at that point would have added much legitimacy to SC's anti-Z views but I think he does not give enough weight to the fact that things then went the other way and that MLK had by September 29, the date of his letter to Adolph Held, somewhat discreetly but very firmly lent Z his considerable moral authority, thus uncorking the Zionist spirits which were still intoxicating many of his friends and admirers in 75. The effects never quite seem to cease. Looking at the BDS website we see that Belafonte to this day has given no general endorsement to BDS, though he did support the campaign in 09 against the Toronto Film Festival link with Tel Aviv.
      It is entirely possible that Rosa Parks or MLK himself would have changed as things became clearer to many of us in the blinding light cast by the Iraq War. But the opposite counterfactual, that they would have converged more with majority opinion in their much older years, seems equally possible, I'm afraid. I think mixed feelings are likeliest.

  • Solidifying behind Clinton, foreign policy establishment gins up a cold war with Russia/Iran
    • I thought Walt's remarks were quite sensible. He was not moving into the liberal interventionist camp as far as I could see.

  • Sanders-backed candidate in FL says Wasserman Schultz won't 'protect' Israel
    • Phil's sentence, cited by hophmi, does not end on the word 'Jew', which would have given it a certain undesirable emphasis, but flows on a bit in a way that doesn't in final effect seem anti-Semitic or self-hating. But hophmi is surely right to say that Mr. C is not Jewish by the criteria of Jewish theology, at least as that theology is widely understood. C presents himself as very sympathetic to and familiar with Judaism, which is fair enough, and produces what seems a bit like goobledygook on the Iran deal.
      But Phil has spotted something interesting here. A few weeks ago we had the Sandersites trying to get a pro-Palestinian platform, In part paving the way for the statement on Palestine by BLM. Now the Sandsersite candidate in Miami strikes every pro-Israel note that he can find on his tympani. An illustration of the way Zionism has always found supporters - opponents too, of course - at almost every point of the Western political spectrum. It's a remarkable achievement.

  • Google blames bug for removing 'West Bank' and 'Gaza' from Israel/Palestine map
    • It may be disgusting, Mr.T, but I'm sure that that a grand population 'transfer' is being planned, with the balance between the apparently consensual 'with comoensation' and the nakedly coercive under discussion. The next presidency, Trump or Clinton, might look like an ideal,opprtunity, though either way, consensual or coercive, it would cost a mountain of money which it is not clear that anyone has. But we have to be ready for the accompanying propaganda onslaught about final and humane solutions.

  • When the language of genocide offends us more than ghettoizing another people
    • The 'invocations' - incantations, spells - used to beat back radicals who speak harshly of Israel have not lost their dark magical power as much as Marc might suppose. I looked the other day at what is happening to Joy Karega at Oberlin and had the impression that she is paying for her temerity with her career amid proclamations that anti-Semitism at Oberlin is at last being addressed. I wholly don't share her false flag theories but I do think that it's a free speech issue and do think that equally weird theories where Israel was not involved would not attract the same penalties or 'invocations'.

  • Israeli soldier shoots Palestinian taxi driver in head by mistake, then Israel seizes his car and entry permit
    • 'Morally excessive' = 'not justified by your argument or your claimed grievance', therefore wrong.
      I think that a noncombatant, protected by the idea of moderation in just war, is someone not personally making any lethal threats with weapons to hand, not a member of an armed organisation threatening the general population around it and not engaged on any military operation or mission.

    • Being an automaton - being unable to help oneself, or being part of a movement where mighty passions are aroused and no one is in control - is one thing, having sufficient moral reason based on past injustice for a violent action is another.
      Sometimes it may be inevitable and predictable that there are violent consequences following what we do, and we need to understand that fact - not taking such things into account when we start our actions is a moral fault - even if those consequences are themselves morally excessive. I agree that armed attacks on people who are in all serious respects unarmed are morally excessive, even if the victims are not 'innocent' - though I don't think people who belong to armed organisations and often have weapons in their hands or within reach are always unarmed to the required degree. I think that Israeli practice can often be condemned on this basis.
      A sense of past injustice does indeed, as Mr. T remarks, play a considerable part in alleged justification for Zionist violence. Why else are the dire events of WW2 so often mentioned? But the justification is plainly insufficient.

  • Out of 1.8 million Gazans, 250 over age 50 are allowed to travel to Jerusalem to pray
    • Anyone can pray anywhere in their hearts. What we"re not allowed to do is organise meetings, even for prayer, except on property which is ours or is put at our disposal by the owners. No difference between people who are Jewish and other people. The area commonly called Temple Mount is surely one of two things, either simply the private property of a Muslim religious association (as I would believe) or else the property of the Israeli government placed in the hands of the association for religious purposes. Either way, no one has a right to intrude for purposes that the association has not approved and it has no duty at all to approve things outside its normal remit. If people think that the Israeli Givernment does have a right to change a dispensation which it has created - it wasn't just Dayan personally - and sometimes reaffirmed then he should petition the government accordingly. But the government has always had good reason even on its own terms to maintain the status quo, particularly that it has no wish to open up the question of a new Temple., indeed a strong aversion from the whole idea. What is revealed is an example, not of Muslim discrimination against Jews, but of the tensions within Zionism.

  • Israeli mayor: No Arabs in our pools because their 'hygiene culture is not like ours'
    • The Temple Instiute has got nowhere since 87 and I am sure is getting nowhere now. Israel is not ready for massive animal sacrifices and not ready for the creation of a High Priest, who would constitute a whole new religious and therefore a whole new political power - who would indeed pave the way for a King, who could hardly be a British-style constitutional monarch, even if he respected the Deuteronomic prohibitions on personal extravagance. Given the whole weight and volume of 'only democracy' propaganda this is not going to happen in the near future.
      Meanwhile, I would rather hope that the Waqf would permit Israeli archaeologists to be present during its repair works. Otherwise they allow the story that Jewish antiquities, which may well not be there at all, are being destroyed to gain credence.

  • The 'New York Times' is dead set on marginalizing Jewish anti-Zionism
    • The term 'Hebrew Bible' is used quite a lot, though I don't think it was Harold Bloom's invention. The standard edition these days, published in Stuttgart, is 'Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartienisia', not 'Vetus Testamentum'. It's not really a question of which language we ourselves are using: 'Old Testament" can be translated into Korean or come to that into Hebrew, it's a question of what view we take of the book's status. Though there seems to me to be nothing derogatory about 'Old Testament' - if 'Original Testament' were used then 'Developed Testament' would be a proper counterpart, which would not bring a smile to Harold Bloom's face - the phrase 'Jewish Canon' might be more accurate. Though in truth what most people mean when they refer to these books is the Protestant Canon with the recognised books in a significantly different order and with the books recognised as 'deuterocanonical' by the Catholics omitted. If we started using the term 'Protestant Canon of pre-Christian scripture' we wouid be intolerably clumsy and moreover Harold Bloom would not react well.
      The exclusion of the books known to us as apocrypha and pseudepigrapha represents a view of the history of ideas which should be quite controversial.
      'Virgin Mary' means remarkably different things to Catholics and Protestants.
      Perhaps one reason why the NYT doesn't want even to think about Jewish anti-Zionists is that their existence threatens to move the boundaries of Jewishness.

    • I can't quite see why CitizenC is so concerned about the wording of Phil's claims. For Phil, the people he mentions are 'Jewish anti-Zionists'; for CC the same people are divided into 'Judaic' and (I presume) 'ex-Jewish'. CC may believe that 'secular Jews', 'lapsed Catholics' and the like are people trying unsuccessfully to have it both ways when it comes to religion. He may have a point here, but Phil was not discussing the logic or consistency of these people about religion, but their increasingly anti-Z views and the way the growth of their numbers is being concealed by the NYT. No one has really challenged him on his main claim, though I was wondering whether the names he mentioned were quite enough to carry his point.

  • Jews need to study the Torah in order to criticize Israel, Beinart says
    • That's very interesting - I see the value of having people like you not just accepted in the Jewish community but taken seriously there. Mind you, if I were to be strongly at variance with most members of a Christian congregation on a matter of importance that was often discussed then I think alienation would one day set in, even if I did know quite a bit about the Acts of the Apostles and the Nicene Creed. They would begin to think that my studies were at best eccentric or I would become shocked that despite my knowledge of the faith no one was listening to me. The Beinart method wouldn't work for ever. They would in the end want to shun me or I would think that I had to shake some dust off my feet.

  • Sanders delegates recount 'Orwellian' message control by Clinton supporters during DNC
    • You're right, I think, Yonah, partly for the reason that Trump's campaign now seems to stand or fall by Islamophobia, as has emerged starkly from his confrontation with the Gold Star mother. He needs to be opposed by all practical means.

  • America's iron fist in the Middle East
    • Well, Alfa, what do you make of para. 26 of the Irving Finkel (Brit Museum) translation of the Cyrus Cylinder? 'I freed them from their bonds', in reference to the population of Babylon, may well mean no more than 'I removed my hated predecessor and have ruled in a kindly way'. The older translation by Leo Oppenheimer , in James Pritchard's Ancient Near Eastern Texts, thinks it refers to a cut in the demand for compulsory public service by the Babylonisn middle classes. But there is no reference anywhere to a right not to be enslaved, to individual freedom of religion or to private property. - or to any list of rights.
      Around 1970 the Shah induced U Thant to endorse a forged version in which the Cylinder was made to look rather liberal and which made Cyrus into a Zoroastrian worshipper of Ahura Mazda, whereas in the genuine text he avows no influence from Zoroaster and is devoted to the Iraqi god Marduk. Mazdaism certainly appears a few decades later in the Behistun Inscription, but it very hard, surely, to see liberalism or secularism in the Kingdom as it appears there.
      Cyrus' liberation of the Jewish exiles - well, that is a conventional but extremely loaded description of what happened - is indeed often celebrated but we also find in the Bible, per Ezra and Nehemiah, a picture of a great Kingdom in which the central authority is quite interested in regulating religion, even if it does so by commissioning trusted members of the religious group to impose their will.
      If we are to oppose the mythistories of Zionism we need to be very careful about myths and forgeries from other sources.

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