Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 1506 (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 1506 - 1501

  • In new book, Ilan Pappé says settler colonialism and apartheid best explain Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • 'Does he believe in a God'? -- DNC leaders wanted to undermine Sanders
    • On religion and battles of will, Mooser, you never spoke a truer word. But there's something extraordinarily ingenious about the Wiesel-style ability to target religion with arrows of doubt, even of scorn, and yet to wield it like a sword. Only Zionists have really got the hang of this martial art and they do great execution with it.
      However, the BBC is saying that DWS is resigning as from the end of the Convention. Can she hold out that long?

    • I agree with Annie! It does make sense to define as 'X-Ist atheists' those who do not believe in a deity but regard, with or without good reason, the X religious tradition as being of great and unique moral value.

  • NLRB upholds union's right to support Israel boycott
    • Klm, who may be an airline but is absolutely certainly not a Zionist or a white supremacist or anything like that, is merely saying that we tend to overestimate our successes so far, sometimes rather wildly. I agree with that. I sometimes think that my favourite quote from James Thurber - 'the night is dark and getting darker, the road is long and getting longer' - applies. I see the sense in Cazador's statement that the West will one day see that it has better things to do than back Israel, but I really can't see that that day is near at hand.
      Klm says that Israel's message to the Palestinians is 'non-violence will get you nowhere in this predicament' and something of a taunting invitation to violence is there. But the taunt is really even more diabolical - 'Non-violence will get you nowhere, violence will be crushed - and see how far your complaints to the UN and your Goldstone Reports get you. So you cannot act here, so you cannot exist here, so go somewhere else: maybe we'll help you'.
      It's not easy to see Western support for Israel as on the brink of collapse at the moment when the US Presidency is on its way to Clinton or Trump.

  • In yet another sign of fascism, Lieberman likens Mahmoud Darwish to . . . Hitler
    • Of course it's a valid argument. Logic depends on separating the question of the validity of the argument, whether one point follows from another, from the question of the truth of the points made. That is why logic, like algebra, is often symbolic, discusses statements like 'all As are B' without saying what descriptive terms 'A' and 'B' stand for. It's important to test statements about the world that may be false by seeing what further statements they validly imply. That is often how error in understanding the world is detected. This point, very simple in itself, is famously used as an element in the rather grand (and questionable, but extremely influential) theories of science and history developed by Sir Karl Popper.
      My idea of Lieberman's argument would be:
      1. Everyone who is on the same moral plane should be treated alike when it comes to their literary products
      2. If that moral plane is very bad, the treatment should be based entirely on ignoring or disparaging
      3. Hitler and Darwish (and Wagner, quite likely) were on the same moral plane
      4. It was a bad moral plane, being anti-Semitic
      3. They should be treated alike: ignored or disparaged.
      This is a valid argument, though all premises are questionable.

  • 'Power is what matters': Alt Right leader Richard Spencer explains his admiration for Trump and Israel
    • I took Klm (not aware of klm's gender) to be arguing that it is illogical to have respect, as Spencer claims to have, for something based essentially on unjust means - Spencer evidently regarding the Lobby as an unjust thing. I don't think admiration is expressed by Klm for euro-style, often anti-Semitic, nationalism. Glorie is right to say - do I get this right? - that the kind of nationalism that lays enormous stress on ancestry, or some surrogate for ancestry, is wrong whether it takes Zionist or anti-Semitic form.

    • Page: 15
    • I'm not quite persuaded that Mr. Spencer is more than a minor eccentric. But thanks for drawing attention to Ausonius' Bissula - looking it up, I thought it formed an interesting counterpart to the Deuteronomy passage about captive women we've been discussing on some threads.

  • With no evidence except ethnicity, media declared Nice attack terrorism
    • As to the scads of evidence - given that someone has committed mass murder several probabilities are indeed raised, in current circumstances, concerning the perpetrator - that he sympathised with Islamic State, that he had suffered some perceived personal humiliation, that he was an American, that (as Yonah says) he followed the news media. This rise of probability exists genuinely even if in some cases we can rule one, or even all, of these factors out. Conversely, more than one of them may apply.
      Commentators may still go wrong by inverting the probabilities without good cause. The probability that someone, given that (s)he is human, will commit mass murder is extremely small and the probability hardly rises at all given a Yonah-style interest in news media. The probability of committing mass murder can rise only a teensy amount given that one is a Muslim, may even turn out to fall if the overwhelming majority of Muslims are distinctively peaceable. It may rise a little more given Islamic State sympathies, though even then only a little, because of course there will be many of these who are all talk.
      One possibility that gets overlooked is that someone should sympathise with IS on political grounds but have little time for their religion.

  • Video: 'Gaza in Context' says root of conflict is quest for Palestinian land, without Palestinians
    • Sometimes it feels bad that here, where we have rules that discourage Nakba justification, we have remarks like those of affinity. But those remarks have elicited a terrific series of replies, which remind us that reason is never dead and will sometime prevail

  • Bible justifies rape in times of war, despite rabbis' efforts to spin or hide the teaching
    • Christians too are embarrassed. The Oxford Bible Commentary, normally verse by verse and on Deuteronomy written by the Lutheran theologian Christoph Bultmann, has not a word to say about this passage.

  • 'Palestinians ought to be free' -- Cornel West's historic moment
    • Well, I did draw attention about 24 hours ago to events in Turkey, though I did not rush into expressing an opinion. They fill me with dismay and foreboding, as do the events in Nice. I spent quite some time yesterday reading comments, most of which caused more dismay. Some of the British ones were more vitriolic than I would have expected, the American ones were obsessed with immigration and guns. I'd welcome your comments, Yonah.

  • 'To defend western freedom,' U.S. must preserve Egyptian tyranny
    • Apparently the island transfer is subject to court action, at least nominally.
      More important for the future of constitutional government in the ME, there are reports just coming through of a coup or attempted coup in Turkey.

  • Israeli rabbi who advocated rape of 'comely gentile women' during war becomes chief army rabbi
    • 27 wonderful years! Moreover, my 72nd birthday.

    • The original passage in Dt. Is not about the heat of battle and not about slavery. Its purport is that the normal inhibition against marrying a non-Israelite does not apply when the wife is a legitimate prize of war. In that case the woman is not an enslaved concubine but, as far as I can see from the passage, a wife with as much honour as any other wife. Or if she doesn't like the deal she can walk away.
      We may say that the idea of people as prizes of war is atrocious but really what else could humane behaviour, allowing people to live on after the horrible experience of the sack of cities in the ancient world, have amounted to?
      I think that the idea of a legitimate non-Israelite wife caused embarrassment and hence that the things were transferred from the aftermath of battle to the heat of battle and the desire for the non-Isrselite femme was, without textual authority, called evil. The idea that the woman can be forced to have sex at least once, which is nowhere in the original and is contrary to its general tenor, was brought in, so that an evil desire could be indulged. Really it is the dislike of intermarriage rather than the prohibition on rape that is being modified.
      R. Qarim ties himself in knots but I don't think we can really find a statement from him clearly permitting rape.

    • The idea of marriage in the ancient world enforced by military means raises a few thoughts. Its dubious moral status is recognised in the story of the 50 daughters of Danaus who were pursued to Greece by the 50 heavily armed sons of Egyptus. 50 tents were set up for 50 marriages. 'Girls' said Danaus, 'this is rape. Keep them happy and leave the rest to me.' His daughter Hypermnestra - 'supreme lover' - had an unexpected experience. 'Hyper' said her husband 'I'm no rapist. We won't have sex unless you want it.' 'Maybe I do' said she 'maybe I don't. Keep talking'. When Danaus arrived at her tent with 49 heads in his cart and sword drawn she said 'Dad, we're keeping this one, he's quite nice'. So she became the ancestress of the Danaid royal house, friends of the gods, benefactors of humanity and conquerors of Troy.

    • Lest we Christians boast, Vera comes remarkably close to the wording of Galatians 5:12.

  • To those who were here before us
    • Native Americans were colonised, barbarously treated and driven near to annihilation but there has been a settlement whereby the First Nations people are now citizens of the society which the colonisers created. There are no exiled First Nations demanding a Right of Return. It would be a step forward if the Palestinians could get that far in Israel, but currently there is no chance of that.

  • As Dems vote against Palestine, Cornel West warns it is the 'Vietnam War' of our time
    • All these definitions raise questions for me. If we talk of 'opposition to the influence of Jews' that would seem to include opposition to any policy, at least on an important matter, that is being favoured or promoted at any time by a significant number of people who are Jewish. Or opposition to the general idea, regardless of particular policies, of the possession of influence (in disproportion to numbers?) by people who are Jewish? The first of these can hardly be considered morally wrong in all circumstances. The mere fact that a majority of my fellow citizens who are Jewish are reported to vote Conservative would, on this definition, make opposition to the Conservative Party anti-Semitic, but would not prove that it was wrong.
      If you restrict the definition to opposition to Jewish people because they are Jewish, because of their ancestry, it would be much more difficult to identify any attitude as actually anti-Semitic. The mere fact of disagreement with majority Jewish opinion would not suffice.

    • Well done, Henry, for getting into that mainstream pub! You will have made many people think.

    • Not much difference between UK parties either! The Conservatives are electing a new leader - I was trying to find out what the candidates, May and Leadsome, those good Christians, had said about the ME. They both seem to be conventionally pro-Israel, though they don't seem, as as far as I could see, to have made such a point of it as Gove or Johnson, who have assassinated each other.

  • Ozick says Obama needs 6-volume history of Jews on his bedside table
    • Seafoid and indeed Walid are sorely missed.

    • I think I may need to read Nirenberg's 'great' (per Ozick) book on Anti-Judaism. It has received many laudatory reviews, but there's an interesting 2014 critical review (h-net) by Albert Lindemann, to be set beside John Klier's 2000 critical review of Lindemann's own work. For Israel and Egypt in traditional Western culture I'd recommend Jan Assmann's 'Moses the Egyptian', quite readable. Wouldn't overload the President's bedside table.

  • Modern-day lynchings: an international view
    • While I don't think 'split second' is entirely the right phrase, since the protagonists in these incidents have prepared themselves for some time, I agree that this isn't really about crowd control or about Israeli methods . It doesn't have the up to the minute air of technological supremacy that crowd control with miraculous hearing devices does. It's more the technology and tensions, race based and class based, of the 1930s resurfacing or showing that they never went away.
      Lynchings, in the usual understanding, are the work of angry and frightened mobs, not of individuals making sudden decisions.
      If a situation has arisen where it is regarded as either likely or legitimate that lives be ended by a sudden decision or be ended to make a point then that situation is wrong and should not have arisen.

  • Marching to Cuomo's house (Updated)
    • I don't think Voltaire made that remark. He was a well-known opponent of Catholicism but I think he regarded its domination of thought as all too open, not as a discreet suppression of criticism or objection. Wikipedia gives the true source as the White supremacist and anti-Semite Kevin Alfred Strom around 1980. No one seems to have produced a better provenance.

  • Separation and conquest: Israel's ideological barrier
    • The question of who is 'native' depends on what the word means. I take those 'native' to a place to be those individuals born there. The term 'Judaea and Samaria' has no biblical authority except in Acts, where it clearly, echoing the usage of the older scriptures, refers to two distinct entities. The Samaritans were not Judahites (Jews).
      If we are talking about aboriginal peoples, ie earliest known sets of inhabitants, possibly with no war or conquest in their background, the Bible is emphatic that the Israelites were not such. They were immigrants who dispossessed, expelled and killed many, many who had never done them any harm. Their possession of territory was not by normal rules but by God's unique dispensation, declared to be for the good of all in the end.

    • Going back to OG's original comment above - I don't think that it is ever a morally valid objective to set up a homeland where those who are X, whatever X means, are in the majority. That idea brings chaos and implies the right to disfranchise or exclude those not of the group in question. Ideas of this kind can be implemented only at cost to others - and if the others are numerous and minded to resist there must be cruelty.

    • Massive and increasing settlement by a dominant group implies increasing appropriation of living space and so increasing confinement or removal - or emigration to escape a confined existence - of the subordinate groups. This is not yet the openly stated intention of the Israeli government but I think that the open statement may not be long in coming, with either a Clinton or a Trump presidency giving an unprecedented opportunity. Very inhumane, isn't it?

  • Remembering Elie Wiesel, who inspired me to write about Palestine
    • Thanks, very interesting!

    • The Washington Holocaust Museum, surely much under W's influence, answers the question 'What is the Holocaust?' with reference to Jewish victims and to others, such as communists and Soviet prisoners, without being precise as to whether the term applies to all or only to the Jewish victims. Vad Yashem by contrast defines the Holocausr as the sum of anti-Jewish activities under Hitler, adding that the Holocaust was part of a wider 'aggregate" of violence with other victims.
      It seems to me that most usage corresponds to the VY definition rather than to the indefinite terminology of Wahington. It would seem odd to refer to a non-Jewish Soviet army veteran, who had been a near starved prisoner, as a Holocaust survivor, permissible to refer to a Jewish person who had escaped before the war in those terms.
      W's insistence on the theological term 'holocaust' draws stronger attention to Jews than to others because the idea of being Jewish is so much understood by reference to religion. But he must have influenced the Washington Museum not simply to exclude the others. Whether there is something of a half measure here is debatable.

    • I don't agree that reading Grapes of Wrath means that one remembers the Depression or that reading Julius Caesar makes one remember his assassination. That is to confuse what is personal with what is not. There is a difference between my experiences, which I remember, and your experiences in my absence, which I may know about but cannot witness from my own memory.
      The idea of a witness who wasn't there, by no means original to Wiesel, is very dangerous, making suitably aroused mass conviction (like the Western conviction that the Nakba is insignificant beside the Holocaust) not only into a self-sustaining force, which to our great trouble it is, but into a self-sustaining witness to its own truth.
      People like Wiesel hold to a philosophy whereby self-sustaining means self-verifying: that is a version of the idea of 'stories that are true but never happened'. Those he influences become witnesses to his version of remembering, his 'narrative', just because they believe what he says - and if his narrative has no honourable place for the Palestinians, they have no honourable place. At this rate 'it is a crime to forget' can easily mean 'it is a crime not to think as I do.'

  • Israeli officers permitted to open fire on boys with slingshots
    • Thanks, OG. I woke up this morning realising that my nocturnal arithmetic had been rather poor.

    • Sorry, 4 in 5!

    • There are statistics of Assaults on Police Officers produced by the FBI - the latest I could find were from 2013. There are also, following the Feguson calamity, figures from several sources for those killed by police officers, presumably not all arising from assaults on them. I couldn't find a 2013 figure. But the general message seems to be that assaults on police come to around 50,000 per annum and deaths at police hands to around 1,000. So your chances of survival, should you attack an Anerican police officer, are around 1 in 5.

  • Israel's political crisis wouldn't be happening if not for violent Palestinian resistance
    • A persuasive prediction, Yonah. Depressing too.

    • The Palestinians are not bound by any social contract with the Israelis and so have no absolute duty to respect the sovereign power which the Israelis exercise and the conquest which they are steadily putting into effect. However, revolutionary violence to shorten the birth pangs of the new order has sometimes, like the sleep of reason, assisted at the birth of monsters.

  • Elie Wiesel is Dead
    • Wiesel played quite effectively on the themes of the great difficulty in terrible situations of telling truth from fiction and, partly in consequence of this difficulty, the further and worse dificulty of telling right from wrong. It's been pointed out how he alludes to Dostoyevsky's dialogue concerning how 'without God...everything is permitted'. He used this kind of problem to produce, as was much demanded in the twentieth century, a kind of moral consciousness that was religious, desiring not to be without God, yet agnostic, half resigned to God's absence. He made the term 'holocaust' mean what it does today. All these ideas are alluring but very dangerous.

    • I certainly wasn't accusing you of sloppiness, grenouille tres attentive et honorable. II was just that I had no way of pursuing the quote except through a mass of excerpts which are all over the web. And it is certainly does sound like what someone who blurred the boundary between novel and autobiography would believe.

    • Which says 'he told her many lies like truth' or 'like what she needed to know'.

    • Is there a reference for 'some stories are true that never happened?' - it's all over quotation websites but they do not, as far as I have found, give references. The idea is found in the Odyssey, 19: 203.

  • 'NY Jewish Week' speaks bluntly of 'Israel firsters' in US politics
    • Not only no evidence, but clear signs that 'equal rights Zionism' was impossible. Z as we have always known it claims political rights in Palestine for people who are Jewish regardless of having ever been there. It does not accord that right to anyone else. So then and there, from the very beginning and basic formulation of the idea, there is an inequality of rights.
      There could not be a kinder and gentler variant, giving comparable rights to others with a connection to the Land via recent residence, property or ideology, because that would always, from 1897 until now, have made it impossible to aspire to a permanent Jewish majority.
      The basic inequality was bound to expand drastically. It led to the exclusion of the mass of Palestinians after 48, something that would have been impossible has there been any serious belief that they too had a right to be there.
      It is true that Israel has a long-term need for a non-Jewish population which, when it is small enough, will be supported, even subsidised, to constitute living proof that Z is a humane ideology and that comparisons with Nazism are invalid.
      i read the reference to Ameinu. Those people are self-deceivers.

  • Clinton's 'infatuation with war' and neoconservatism stirs misgivings on the left
    • This email stuff does seem to me to be one of the very strangest to emerge around this extraordinary election. It seems fairly clear that Clinton had a private emsil system because she didn't trust her colleagues, beginning with.Obama, just as Powell before her had not trusted Bush. The investigators seem to be spinning things out as if they just have no idea whether this activity is illegal, possibly because they just can't bring themselves to take action which might seem like intervention in the electoral process. Surely they can just get some legal opinions and make up their minds. They are interfering in the electoral process by all this dithering. As for our concerns, it's highly likely that differences over the ME problem are what caused the mistrust.

  • Michael Oren, historian, gets US history wrong to score a propaganda point
  • Palestinian teen is killed after allegedly killing 13-year-old Jewish girl in settlement
    • Israel certainly takes actions, quite deliberately, when the correctly and clearly foreseen result of those actions is the death of innocents. To say that those people are identified as human shields is only to make more explicit the fact that their deaths were foreseen and accepted, indeed really intended. The intention, just as much as with a Homeric warrior, was to pierce the shield and kill the target.

  • Video: All hell breaks loose in Knesset as Zoabi demands apology following Israel-Turkey agreement
    • The main relevant human right, I think, is to be an enfranchised citizen of a sovereign state or at very least on a path leading to that state. This right is not bestowed on most of those in 'occupied' Palestine, nor is a pathway in that direction being formed, since the power exercising sovereignty is not currently making any relevant proposal.

  • The view from Gaza: 'The Turkish government has sold us out and wants us to be grateful'
    • The original reason for the Gaza blockade was that Hamss was not prepared to recognise Israel and to renounce use of force in pursut of Palestinian claims.
      Medieval sieges were encirclements preceding or punctuated by assaults, with people swarming up ladders and all that. Orleans, Joan of Arc etc.. The aim was to produce surrender, ie acceptance of someone as feudal overlord. That does not seem too far distant from what Israel is doing to Gaza.
      Mind you, it is the modernist ruthlessness rather than the medievalism that is so awful.

  • Clinton to Palestine: Drop dead
    • Annie's points may well lead us to think that the Ipsos poll in question should be treated with caution, but Ipsos is a reasonably respected organisation and I would still draw the conclusion that the likes of us are still far from the mainstream, no doubt partly because of the propaganda mentioned by Keith. We are still a minority within Western public opinion and have nearly no representation in the political class. We face very well funded opponents with a well prepared and still effective barrage of insults constantly flying. We have no advantage except being right. However, it is our side that in spite of everything has made progress over the last decade.

    • I don't deny that the idea that the Zionist claim on 'the land of Isreal' is completely mistaken and indeed indefensible on any recognised moral principles is still way outside that sluggish mainstream. Those of us who think that way have not yet shifted opinion in the serried ranks of the powerful. Some ordinary, normal people are among us but many take a different view.

    • Hophmi may be thinking of a poll published in HaAretz for May 30th. The headline was that one third of Americans give some support to BDS, but 62% of Americsns and 50% of us British think BDS is anti-Semitic. The poll was subject to some riducule by David Rosenberg on June 6th, pointing out that there seemed to be some overlap between those who call themselves pro-Israel and those who call themselves pro-BDS. (I don't find this as odd as he does.). Rosenberg scorns BDS but considers that right wing Israel is exaggerating the threat to justify its own noise and bombast.
      I would think that hophmi gilds this lily only a little. I don't think that there's a near supermajority with really strong, considered objections to BDS but I would think that there's still a very widespread feeling that BDS is - at least - eccentric and suspect.

  • Media accusations of blood libels -- against Abbas and Sanders -- amplify a Jewish tribal fantasy
    • Collateral damage is a version of the idea of 'double effect', which was developed primarily in Catholic philosophy. The idea is that intended results of action matter more than merely foreseen results.
      For example, the intended death of a foetus via abortion, in response to a woman's explicit wish not to have a child, is wrong on this theory, since to intend the death of another, who has done no wrong, is wrong. But a treatment of the mother's cancer, with the foreseen but not intended result of the death of the foetus, is acceptable.
      The idea, in its miltary version, is that someone who kills innocent victims with glee, because they belong to the enemy, is a worse and nastier person than one who takes no pleasure in their death but kills them anyway because it is an unavoidable part of attacking a legitimate target. But whether you are really a nicer person if you treat the victims as of absolutely no account, making no difference at all to your decision, is extremely but extremely questionable.

    • I think, Kay, that a genuine peace partner would put a proposal for peace on the table. This is something Netsnyahu is not going to do.

    • Abbas was not accusing anyone of actual well-poisoning but of 'incitement', an activity of which Israel.accuses people quite readily. I think he meant that the PA doesn't go in for incitement even if some individual extremists do - and the same, he hoped to add triumphantly, is the same on the Israeli side. He found that he had managed to go to one of the centres of Christian Europe, dating from medieval times when mobs were indeed incited against Jews on all manner of crazy grounds, and rehearse the same good old, bad old trope that had appeared at the time of the Black Death. How about that for playing into the enemy's hands? Or scoring an own goal, as we Englanf football supporters say? But it's not really deeply prejudiced or anti-Semitic or anti-Christian to believe, or even be a bit too ready to believe, in the capacity of religious extremists to say outrageous things.
      I would bet £10 that Abbas, if offered the classic 2ss, even with all the demilitarisation often mentioned by Natanyahu, would fall over himself to accept - is in that sense a willing, even desperately willing, peace partner. But I won't collect on my bet because the offer will not be made.

  • Israel should be deeply disturbed by the Brexit vote
    • As to the ancient Kingdom of Palestine and its King Taita, recorded c.1,000 BCE, long before 'Israel' is attested by inscription as the name of an actual kingdom, see Mark Weeden 'After the Hittites', SOAS research online 2013,,and consider Herodotus' testimony that it had become the commonly accepted name of what is now Palestine by around 500. This was the time when coinage began to appear, the first mint quite likely being Palestinian/Philistine and, even when proclaiming its origin in the Persian province of Yehud, following the models of Athens, the leading commercial power, owls and all. That is why they are commonly called drachmas and obols. Neither the high antiquity nor the beauty of the name 'Palestine' - 'land of hearth and home', I think - should be forgotten.
      Not that there is any rationality in making human rights here and now dependent on coinage systems in 500 BCE nor on the ethnity claimed by royal personages in 1,000 BCE, is there really?

    • Absolutely, Shmuel. This is an event remarkably short of redeeming features. The Archdeacon of Oxford, who leads interfaith efforts by the Church of England round here, has just been saying that there are many reports of racist graffiti - presumably in the spirit of 'now we can say what we really think about you' - appearing 'in the streets'.
      Meanwhile, I think you cives Romani have just elected a mayor from what some say is the UKIP of Italy?
      The U.K. - Spain contrast is quite interesting - we had and embraced a bunch of right wing demagogues. Spain had a genuinely left wing, perhaps slightly demagogic, option but slid away from it.

    • I can only say that I really cannot believe Professor Hudson's picture of in which a left-wing anti-NATO force was 'as vocal' as the forces on the fairly hard right. The campaign was led by Johnson, Gove and Farage and cheered on by the immensely influential Murdoch press and other equally right wing forces, newspapers especially, not effectively by anyone else. The questions of 'taking control of one's country' and of immigration are closely linked. It's true that the most prosperous areas are the most immigrant-dependent, and know it. It's the less prosperous areas where immigrants are a source of worrying completion for every job.
      We seem to be debating both the idea that Brexit is a dire warning to Israel and also the idea that it's a triumph for Israel. To me, with respect and all that, there is no evidence for the first of these, as I've been saying. As to the second, I agree that Brexit is bringing hardline Zionists to power, that Israel must be concerned about a growing Muslim voting bloc in Europe and that many Israelis will gloat over embarrassment to an institution that dared to label settlement goods. On the other hand, the EU has been quite useful and there has been talk of Israel's wanting to join. Israel has a good hold over the Germans and over the Churches here, Catholic and Protestant.

    • I really can't see that, ritzl. The vote may express fear of refugees, though hardly any have come here from Syria. The major fear was of east euros arriving for economic reasons, causing us to lose control of our borders. I don't recall any Brexit leader saying that it was all the fault of Israeli or imperialist wars. The entire discussion, as I heard it, was about our interests, our sovereignty and our money. The lead was taken by people whose plan is to cut taxes and reduce 'workplace rights'.

  • Brexit vote leaves progressives suspended between nativists and neoliberals
    • I agree completely with Shmuel, I think it's a disaster which (though miracles do happen) cannot reasonably be expected to lead in any progressive direction. The victors, who will probably collect a whole heap of spoils, are the most right wing group ever to have stood on the verge of power here. It wasn't about the ME, but this group is as it happens strongly pro-Israel. Israel has not a thing to worry about here.

  • Democratic establishment wants to make Palestinians go poof in platform
    • Yes, indeed, Mooser, I don't think that my poor country has ever been in a crazier position than today. I won't press more thoughts about Brexit on you, but I'll just note that two people who led the Conservative Brexit campaign, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, are both exceptionally committed Zionists, so our policies on the ME are likely to get more crazy and more immoral than ever in the near future. Berkshire voted against Brexit, just saying.

  • Palestinians in North America: Our rent to pay
    • You're right, WH, to say that contemporary rights don't flow from ancient history, but I'd like to mention that the gap between the first generally accepted mention of a political entity called Israel, the Merneptah Stela of which we never hear the last, and the first generally accepted mention of Palestinians/Philistines, the Ramesses record of the Sea Peoples, is not 1,000 but about 30 years, 1205:1175 BCE approx..
      Beyond Merneptah there are 3 (!) inscriptions from before the Hellenistic period mentioning Israel by name, all from around the time of the great dynast Ahab c.850, one of which seems also to mention Judah under the name 'House of David'. After that there are, from about 840 - 720, about 12 references (depending on how you count repeated references in related texts) to the Kingdom of Samaria or (preferred name) Omria or to 'Jehu son of Omri' as personification of Omria. Mainly after 720 the references to Judah begin - there are about 10 of these.
      Palestine/Land of the Philistines occurs in 3 Assyrian inscriptions ffom around 800 to 670, but also plenty of reference to Philistine mini-states like Gaza. This may seem meagre, but it's interesting to see in the Esarhaddon Treaty with Tyre (J.B. Pritchard, Ancient Near East, p.213) the reference to 'the entire district of the Philistines' as if it was a fairly large area, somewhat reminiscent of Isaiah 14:29 'whole of Palestine'. But the Palestinians must have been more significant than one might think from this number of records. It was they who were to give their name to the territory for international purposes, as we see from Herodotus and Aristotle.
      I disagree with the appropriation of ancient, as of modern, Palestine.

  • The naked racism of 'Save Jewish Jerusalem'
    • So you don't want a Mystexit, oh?

    • Genesis 33 has Esau forgive Jacob and call him brother. It is Jacob who refuses to use 'brother', using 'lord' instead, and declines to restore fraternal relations, even though it is he who was in the wrong.

    • We're not really here for the theology, Yonah, but maybe you're being a bit hard on Christian 'mysticism'. I'm a rather reluctant Trinitarian but I think that it all goes back to Plato's wrestling with the 'problem of evil' and his consequent thoughts about the duality of God, which I think have some logical force and which were certainly very influential for many centuries. Peter Schafer, Professor of Jewish Studies at Princeton, has a book called 'The Jewish Jesus: How Judaism and Christianity shaped each other' which is worth a look, I think. Just to keep a tiny hint of relevance to Zionism, Schafer's discussion of the David Apocalypse puts me in mind of proto-Z and of the theological idea of the Nations as it developed in those days.

    • Paul was just using the Septuagint word for 'nations', ethne. Phos ethnon (LXX) = lumen gentium (Vulg) = light of the Gentiles (KJV).

    • I too can't see anything absurd about a term meaning 'prejudice against anyone not Jewish', but like Annie I think that the word 'gentile' has become quite ugly.

    • The reference is only to Jerusalem but the same idea runs through all 2ss thinking - boundaries are drawn so that a 'Jewish and democratic' state can exist securely, without threat from that demographic bomb. This has always been a democracy created by exclusion, not a democracy at all but an oligarchy created by mass disfranchisement. The 2ss is never anything other than an endorsement and reaffirmation of the original disfranchising action. And that's before you start thinking about how the unreal mini-state on the other side of the boundary will be treated.

  • 'Boycott' Israel over J'lem prayer rules, but 'work' against occupation -- Forward's double standard
    • We are overreacting to Cuomo's posturing. There is no law and no source of prosecutions. Cuomo's pension fund would withdraw from investment in Eisner's business and damage her reputation but she would not be behind bars.

  • Dennis Ross tells American Jews, 'We need to be advocates for Israel' -- and not for Palestinians
    • 'Anti-gentile' would suggest prejudice against non-Jews. I can't really make sense of the para. mentioning 'the essence of Zionism' - 'you shape your destiny, you don't let others do it' but it sounds quite close to 'you don't care about anyone else or anyone else's opinion', which (unless the omitted words change the tone a bit) does seem prejudiced rather than rational.

  • Wide-ranging coalition rallies in Albany to demand Cuomo rescind anti-BDS order
    • But Zionism is and very plainly is a claim to sovereignty over land based at least indirectly on religion and on religion-influenced interpretations of history and morality.

  • Israel extends administrative detention for Palestinian circus performer
    • The UN Committee of which Israel is now Chair is officially called the Legal Committee (also the Sixth Committee), so presumably has a mandate including but not limited to counter-terrorism.

  • Family of Tel Aviv attacker tries to understand how star pupil turned to violence
    • War crimes being mentioned, I note that Israel, in the illustrious person of Mr. Danon, has just been elected by a substantial majority - 109 nations in support, I think - to chair one of the six major UN Committees. A big, bitter cherry is added to the cake by the fact that it is the International Law Committee. Something for us to suck upon.

  • Cuomo's sliding scale
    • I agree that the issue seems to speech by bodies or powers wielding public authority. It's not a question of a personal opinion expressed by the Guv, to which he has a right regardless of his unpleasant relationship with Netanyahu, but of an expression by the state in some respect where it is under his control. The issue is different from that of speech by individuals or groups from which individuals are free to resign. These utterances 'by powers' are on behalf of people several of whom may disagree but who cannot resign from the body politic, so in a certain sense it overrides individual choice, Ie freedom. It is even somewhat coercive towards those citizens who hold the opposite opinion, holding that opinion up to official scorn, which private utterance does not.
      I see that Katie accepts that individuals may boycott her art, but I don't think she is logically compelled to accept that a state-organised boycott would be OK. In fact it would pretty obviously be monstrous.

    • If she does (but where is Grumpy Cat?) I will be in the queue to buy. But those who want to boycott her are within their own rights of free speech. A state-organised boycott or counter-boycott raises different issues, since it is a grand utterance organised by state power, rather than procedding from individual conscience.

  • Condemn! Condemn!
    • The events in Tel Aviv and Orlando were wrong. I don't withhold condemnation but condemnation is almost meaningless by itself. There must be more to say.

  • 'We are Israel and Israel is us' -- Governor Cuomo ends all the confusion!
    • Shlomo Sand in Invention of the Land of Israel p.86 cites a passage from the Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael, assigned by him to 300 CE, though by others to a later date, which seems to assert that the Canaanites moved out en masse, thereby earning the right to leave their name permanently on the land they had evacuated. This would make the ones whom Joshua conquered into a minority of impious holdouts, comparable to the 'renegades' in the winning of the American West.
      Just to add that pangs of conscience over Joshua should extend to Christians. It's sacred literature for us too.

    • Consulting Carl Ehrlich in Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (Brill 1999) vol. 1 p. 118 - the proclamation by Joshua is not in the Bible but is first found in the Jerusalem Talmud (200 CE and later) Tractate Shebiith 6:1 and expanded by the considerably later Midrash, where it is recorded that some Canaanites heeded Joshua and were rewarded with territory just as good as they had left in Africa. This is an indication of the pangs of conscience inflicted on later Jewish intellectuals by the Conquest narrative.

  • Michael Lerner brings down the house at Muhammad Ali funeral by standing up for Palestinians and against Netanyahu
    • In terms of this relationship between me and you, which is entirely fictional and indeed implausible, since you are above such things as annexing Berkshire, it would need a few more chapters to explain why this arrangement came to seem acceptable to both us. My real-world point vs. McCohen was that the path to an equal rights outcome is never entirely blocked by the sort of thing he indicates, such as the numbers involved and the current antagonisms. Time and determination can still find a way. But the path is blocked if some of those involved have every intention of blocking it, as is the case here.

    • Well, we're discussing a negotiated agreement, meaning neither of us gets everything. How about I let you have the bit of the property that means least to me - the haunted wing, perhaps - with the understanding that the results of this division are fully protected by the law and that my political rights, enfranchisement and the chance of holding office, which you had outrageously suppressed, are fully restored? I'd call that equal rights in a reasonable sense.
      A remotely comparable medieval version of this emerged from the English negotiations with the marauding Danes after the tumultuous events that began with the Battle of Reading in the cold January days of 871 and went on for many years. It was decided in the end that an agreement was necessary to save further trouble. It worked in its way.

    • What I would call for here and now would be the beginning, though not necessarily the immediate completion, of a process leading to equal rights for all. There might be an offer of money for those who did not wish to exercise their RoR, a period in which property rights were settled, perhaps some Northern Ireland style power sharing. I think, partly in the flickering light of the South Africa model, this is just about realistic. Justice delayed is justice denied but maybe you sometimes have to delay justice in order to get justice at all.
      What seems completely unrealistic and beyond imagination is the 2ss, at least as commonly conceived, with a) Israel keeping everything pre-67 and b) the reduced Palestine having a recognisable version of independence. You just can't put these two things together and make sense.
      I'm not considering solutions favourable to either side for which more force and violence would be necessary.

    • I'm M, Kay, (Martin) but not Mc, not being very Scottish. It's pretty awful to turn the event into Israeli flag-wagging propaganda, but what could we have expected? I'd just like to mention, before the Islamophobic tide rolls on, that I was cheered up this morning by BBC report about Muslim villagers in Pakistan putting their hard earned savings towards a church for Christian neighbours. There are better things in the religious world than homophobic massacres by crazy guys who can buy heavy weapons on a whim.

    • Isn't it possible that those who would react simply with anti-Islamism are Trumpites already and that people who might react rather differently, with sympathy towards the victims and the wish that guns were better controlled, might move away from him?

    • 'The part of the Israeli government that is oppressing Palestinians' is a very strange phrase. The idea that the Palestinians are somewhat oppressed is not that far from the miainstream now but it is deprived of much impact while people still accept, as if rather obvious, that there is a readily available 2 state solution. I accept that the people who think this way are the vast majority in the West. They cannot see that the 2ss ideas commonly canvassed are screamingly unjust. Are they beginning to see that continuing oppression plus continuing absence of a proposal for the supposedly obvious solution amount to an intention never to let that solution, even were it possible, come about?

  • Activists descend on Cuomo NYC office to defend right to boycott
    • Yes, I think that's right. A commercial organisation whose shares are sold on ethical or allegedly ethical grounds stands to have its share price reduced and its reputation tarnished, which would impact on the wages and job security of its employees. Furthermore it's impossible to imagine that a company suffering from divestment by the State would be able to do business as a supplier to or partner in any State enterprise. If the State merely sold shares but continued to do business in other ways it would face extreme ridicule for hypocrisy, more than even a normally cynical,politician could stand.
      However, I think that in all the circumstances this 'dumb thing' - did that mean 'damn thing'? - is not really meant to have any great effect. It's a symbolic 'expression of abhorrence', as many boycotts are. This time it's us who get abhorred.

  • Why I use the triple parentheses on my byline
    • I understand that no order to wear a yellow star was ever issued in Denmark, though King Christian did write in his diary that all should wear it if necessary.

  • A government blacklist aimed at political beliefs -- NYCLU and UCC come out against Cuomo's BDS order
    • 'By no means a harmless act', sorry.

    • This proclamation is about investment of money and assets (whatever the latter means) by bodies under NY State control. I don't suppose that the State invests in voluntary academic associations very much in any case, presumably not at all in religious associations. It's by means a harmless act but the impact would be quite limited. I suspect it's more posturing than anything else.

  • Democratic Party leadership lines up against BDS -- and the 'nuts' who support it
    • This raises some problems for me, at least on the assumption that the public servants who take this oath believe in God in the standard sense of supreme authority on right and wrong and protector of right and good, perhaps punishing those who go wrong or do evil. At that rate, do they say 'God, we affirm before you that if we encounter something which seems to be commanded by you we will disregard and break that command, however well our teachers or our consciences validate it as indeed yours, if it runs contrary to the basic law of the land and we understand that you may punish us if we obey you rather than it'. Does that make sense?

    • The BBC is saying four dead with some further critical injuries. The police are quoted as saying that there were two attackers, both from a Palestinian village called Yatta, that there were nine casualties and the mall operators saying that their security prevented the attackers from entering the 'market' area. No doubt this is only the beginning, will lead to many revenges, and may even affect the mood around Governor Cuomo.

    • Rep. Israel (he and I look quite remarkably alike) is surely saying that pro-Israel sentiment of somewhat visceral, rather than rationally argued, nature makes him regard Iran with invincible suspicion. Perhaps I resemble him in brain as well as face - I might say 'I'm very English' in discussing what I do, though I'd like to think I wouldn't regard that as a reasonable explanation if I had political responsibility. But I think many people would regard his remarks as human, acceptable, even lovably loyal to his group. That is why he has no compunction in making them in public. The likes of us have a long road ahead.

  • The List: Cuomo's anti-BDS executive order is a first amendment nightmare
    • A boycott is either speech - an emphatic and vehement show of opinion - or it is action, an attempt to damage the target by more than mere words. If the former, issues of free speech are clearly raised.
      The 'hate speech' question arises and the very vehemence of the opinion shown makes it a candidate for hate speech. But are we really and can we seriously consider vehement protests on moral grounds, or even proclaimed to be on moral grounds, to equate naturally with hatred - and even if we did, could we really avoid the thought that some hatred is merited?
      If we exclude 'hate speech exceptions to freedom' then we are left with the clear fact that boycotts, if they are speech, ought to be free of legal sanctions such as fines and prison terms. A counter-boycott by private individuals on the other side of the debate must be rightful: they are expressing their abhorrence of our expression of abhorrence. I was saying to ritzl the other day that there's a lot of sense in his idea that states and governments do not have rights in the way that individuals do. Surely an official expression of abhorrence of opinions is suspect in many ways - for a start it sweeps up and pretends to speak for individuals who disagree. Many NY pensioners might not at all share Cuomo's sentiments. Even more, it amounts to the use of state power in an attempt to frighten and deter those who in their conscience want to take part in the original boycott, agreed to be legal in itself. So it shouldn't happen.
      I concede that at this rate we can't ask public authorities, as distinct from private individuals and organisations, to join our boycott, at least not so long as there are supporters of Israel who have their own right not to be swept up in expressions of opinion they don't share.
      If boycotts are actions then the case for state counter-boycotts is severely weakened. The state should clearly not use its power to deter actions which are legal and a matter of conscience. The state might just possibly make boycotts illegal and punishable. There would never be consent for this in general, not in the foreseeable future. An exceptional protection for Israel would also be very hard to argue. So the counter-boycott still shouldn't happen.
      Not that I'd have much confidence in Western legal systems and politicised Supreme Courts. Remember Dred Scott!

  • Flanked by AIPAC and Israeli consul, Cuomo signs anti-BDS order
    • I'm glad to hear that, ritzl, and indeed I think, though I'm no legal eagle, that it makes a lot of sense. But the other side will make a fight of it.

    • 'Third cousin' is used, in this rather cynical rhetoric, to create ridicule because no one gets rights simply by being the cousin of a victim. But if the cousin is the true heir the rights are there in full force.

    • Just let me ask again what I asked recently on another thread. If boycotts by private individuals are free speech which cannot be punished, what are boycotts of boycotters by agents of the state? Are they too free speech?

    • I absolutely don't accept the right of groups defined by race or religion to have a sovereign state of their own, an idea which would bring chaos and catastrophe. It's not that Jews are being denied what is accorded to others but that Zionists are claiming for Jews something not accorded to anyone else.

  • Trump's America is fascist, says Bret Stephens, but Netanyahu's Israel smells like a rose
    • I think that mainstream opinion did for quite some time accept Southern slavery as a 'peculiar institution'. It was the efforts of the slaveowners to expand into new territories that caused reaction strong enough to bring on a crisis. What had seemed exotic and a bit romantic - the image that Gone with the Wind tried later to reconstruct - came around 1860 to seem like an economic threat. I think that Atlanta has a point, in that Israel seems exotic, a bit romantic and of course a bit sacred - the image that Exodus constructed still being powerful.

  • Ayelet Waldman is going to change the American Jewish relationship to Israel
    • Mine too. The Power Couple make some good points eloquently, for which thanks are due, but the liberal Zionist mists may close around them. A mind that is blown by discovering the segregated road system has not really been concentrating on the problem and may not start now.

  • Why don't you share all the good things about Israel?
    • I think that the overall situation in the ME is the worst thing in the world, at least of that aspect of the world that is under human control. It poisons everything because it is so intimately connected with our most important material commodity, oil, and even more because it is so intimately connected with our most important moral and spiritual influence, the Abrahamic religions. Within this situation, and very important in maintaining it, there is a falsehood, the most widely believed falsehood (quite unlike 'Islamism', which is generally opposed) in the Western world where I live, ie Zionism. So I think it very important, if you live in the West, to oppose Zionism, a political belief which is not only false but never stood a chance of being put into practice without extreme and daily cruelty, which the West abets.
      That the people involved in operating and benefiting from the Zionist system are often very happy and sometimes do things from which humanity in general benefits doesn't make the falsehood less false. These matters - from the old blooming deserts to the super hi-tech startups of now - don't even begin to moderate the basic falsity of Zionism, are not really relevant to it. Nor do they set limits to its cruelty.

  • Happy 100th birthday Bernard Lewis!
    • Ferdinand's treacherous expulsion of the Moors is one of the few actions subject to moral condemnation as a wretched deed by Machiavelli and he mentions Ferdinand with an exceptional frisson. I wonder if he expected his Christian readers to agree with him, especially the Spanish ones - ie to regret Convivencia now that it was thoroughly wrecked? I suspect he spoke for an intellectual minority and that it took a long time for the few real manifestations of Convivencia to be recognised and for the romantic legend about it to grow.

  • Clinton's foreign policy speech downplays Israel (and leaves out Palestine)
    • Thanks indeed, Bb. Very interesting and sobering.

    • That is indeed one of the reasons why the Grand Population Transfer would not bring closure or finality. Another is that its monstrous injustice would not be forgotten over centuries. But that will not stop either the Clinton or the Trump regimes, for their different reasons, convincing themselves that this pretended solution would indeed be final and save us all a lot of bother. There would of course be a much advertised 'compensation' system, lauded as 'generous': the problem would be that Israel would demand that Western taxpayers foot the bill and that would cause some friction. We need to prepare ourselves for the accompanying propaganda onslaught, the biggest ever, but ever.

  • Huffpo writer expresses bigotry against Palestinians by equating battle for equal rights and anti-Semitism
    • What strikes me, Atlanta, is the moral inversion in Sabin's remarks, making it seem as if the injustice to the Palestinians were not the overriding scandal. I think that this reflects serious prejudice. Another awful thing is that the vast majority of readers will scarcely notice the problem. I agree with you about the dangers of defensive rhetoric - not only does it make cheap accusations seem as if they might be reasonable but it suggests that the accuser has some right to sit in judgement.

    • Equal rights are not good for Zionists, whose basic purpose they frustrate, but are not bad for Jews, whose subordination they rule out.

    • I can't claim to know but the only logical explanation seems to me that they and the world are not quite ready for the real, rather demonic, plan, which is to move the great majority of thr Palestinians out with what will be called compensation - 'pay them to leave' - with a cosmetic minority retained to prove that Israel is not Nazi. The Trump or Clinton presidencies might in their different ways provide the moment for the big idea to emerge into the light of day.

    • It rather looks, on Sabin's showing, that it is only limited subsets of white people, especially those who are Jewish, who have a riposte to the claim that 'you don't understand because your culture has never been oppressed". This is a substantial concession to the critics of whiteness and the riposte may not protect Jewish people too well, since even despite the dire events of WW2 they share the culture of non-Jewish white people quite extensively. Moreover those events, dire and shocking as they were, were as an effort of cultural oppression in many ways a shattering and counterproductive failure, leading to an immense and understsndable surge of respect and admiration for everything Jewish.
      Sabin manages, I think, to be unfair even to Trump. I'd believe many bad things of him but he isn't a Nazi. The Stormtroopers are a pathetic micro-minority and it is perfectly reasonable to respond by ignoring them and then ignoring them some more.

    • I might prefer a more conventional epitaph but otherwise I share Joe's sentiments,
      Ms. Sabin's article is all upside-down and twisted. The Palestinians have suffered and are suffering outrageous and lethal wrong. This stands to reason and common sense: it takes no prejudice to say so. Being true and very important it should be affirmed at a central point of any discussion of the topic. Any other approach does require prejudice, clearly a form of prejudice relating to race. There's the racism for you.

  • Israel commandeers UN for anti-BDS pep rally
    • On the questions a) of privately organised boycotts versus state-organised boycotts of boycotters and b) of free speech. Suppose a group of creationist business owners decide to withdraw from (boycott) supplying state schools because they teach evolution, The Governor, who happens to be Richard Dawkins' second cousin, hears of this and orders the state pension system to have no dealings with (boycott) those businesses. When questioned, she replies 'I've got free speech too'. Is she in the right? Is she within the law?

  • Yehuda Glick's meteoric rise from messianic margins to Israeli parliament
    • Anyone has a right to pray inwardly anywhere, and the idea of prayer is that it is addressed to a divine being and therefore needs no visible or audible element. There is no right to conduct a ceremony, visible or audible to those around, on private property, contrary to the wishes of the owners.
      I am sure that one thing for which Israel is not ready is the restoration of the Temple, not ready for the sacrifices, not ready for the political implications.

  • 'I am Palestinian and I am human' -- and Leanne Mohamad, 15, is disqualified from UK speaking competition
    • But as far as I can see the whole business did not get out of the local, Jewish and Muslim press into the national news organisations.

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