Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 3746 (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 3746 - 3701

  • From 'Avalon' to Madoff: What 'The Wizard of Lies' reveals about contemporary American Jewish identity
    • Govdrnments raise money in all sorts of ways, often by issuing bonds. But sometimes they find reason to do the job not by issuing a publicly known bond but by working through a financier. I don't suppose that Israel is alone or even unusual in this, but I think that Madoff was recognised by his more sophisticated investors as running a fund for Israeli purposes, including the purposes of the universities and medical centres which Irving Picard, the Madoff trustee has sometimes sued, on the basis of exceptionally high returns for, as they would have known was inevitable, exceptionally high risk. If a financial crisis were to come along, which it did, the fund would be wiped out, but that is how things work. There were also perhaps less sophisticated people who did not understand that even powerful governments have to abandon some of their backers in some circumstances. But I can't see how anyone, however unsophisticated, can have failed to sense that this was a way of investing in Israel. I'm not sure that M is such a bad person. The Israeli cause was his cause and he had, like a soldier caught in an ambush, to take personal responsibility when things went sour. There was a lot of tacit understanding of this, which I think is why his underlongs got, at least on the whole, light punishment. distinctly less than prosecutors made a show of demanding. I don't think that we learn from this that the Jewish community is corrupted or money grubbing, just that they are a bit too ready, disastrously too ready, nice people as they are in so many ways, to back Israel in all things. We knew that, really.

  • Leonard Cohen song is anthem of Jewish exclusivists
    • Cohen changed the lyrics sometimes - and even the original lyrics are ambivalent enough to be a critique as well an endorsement of Z.

  • Clashes erupt as Mike Huckabee leads 2 a.m. rush of 4,000 right-wing Israelis to pray in West Bank
    • Some will tell us that the Tel Dan inscription, of perhaps 850 BCE, is testimony to the existence of the royal House of David, therefore indirectly of David himself.

    • I believe that the purported tomb used to attract some Muslim rrlogious activity, which was stopped by the Israeli occupation authorities in the 70s. So Huck's contrast of Israeli liberalism with the exclusivism of the other side is basically false.

  • Trump may want a deal, but Israeli Jews are not interested
    • The Economist has published several articles recently - in the last few days, that is - in support of 2ss. I noted how extraordinarily often the claim that the Palestinians were 'invented', had never existed and so on came up in the horrible comments and how important all that stuff seems to be in the mentality of the Zionist corps of fanatical apologists, who I suspect are pretty typical of opinion in Israel, at least among those who think about such matters. One said that the Crusaders never mentioned Palestine, I mentioned a Crusader poem that did and she, nothing daunted, replied that poem uses it only once, in its title, though I would have thought that that was a conspicuous reference. It seems extraordinary that a question of human rights should be debated in terms of medieval poetry and ancient inscriptions but the determination to outdo Joan Peters is certainly there.

  • The US and Israel: 'An integrated political system'
    • I had a look at the IMF projections for Israeli GDP per capita up to 2022 which, for whatever they are worth, are quite rosy.

  • Internet 'redresses' Miri Regev's 'capture of Jerusalem' themed gown at Cannes
  • US diplomats say Western Wall is in West Bank, and Nikki Haley backpedals
    • For a moment I thought you meant Ludwig Feuerbach and Karl Marx, though these are not to be compared with RoHa. Mind you, Feuerbach influenced the highly philo-Semitic George Eliot.

    • Which anti-Christians have you in mind, Yonah?

  • Collective post-traumatic stress disorder – Jews, apartheid and oppression
    • Thanks for detailed reply, echino - must get back to you properly. I note that the Economist, reporting on the 'music to Netanyahu's ears' played by Trump, notes, as you would, the phrase 'the Jewish people'. It's been a rough day for those trying to think straight, what with the massacre at what IS calls 'the shameless concert hall' in Manchester.

    • Treitschke played a highly demonic role in our WW1 propaganda. Someone told me (I'm not able to check this)!that the troops, discussing philosophy in the trenches as one does, referred to Nietzsche and T as 'Nitch and Tritch' and thought it was all their fault. I must say I thought hophmi's single-quote argument had some force but no single quote argument is quite conclusive and if Yoni has properly studied the matter his views deserve some respect. We who get hooked on the Bible know how difficult it is to pin down an idea by the single quite method - and sometimes the 1890s seem in some respects as strange and different culturally as the 90s BCE.

    • Tell me, echino, is your objection to the phrase 'the Jewish people' that it is, versus 'Jewish people', too collectivist, posdibly hinting at a theory of group rights, or that it elides the distinction between classification based on actual religious practice and one based on ancestry? I woukd sympathise with both of those but are those points really essential to Dr. Litvin's argument? Is he saying more than that people who were Jewish were once treated so unjustly that it is easily possible for self-interested and powerseeking persons to induce by certain techniques an unreasonable degree of fear, to which an effective antidote would be an integrated education system? I might think this a little utopian, but he's not asking us to suspend our activities pointing out the falsehood of Zionism while he sorts out
      everyone's neurones, is he?
      Sorry if I've got the wrong end of a few sticks. It's rhe end of a longish day and my neurones may not be too sharp.

  • Israel tutors its children in fear and loathing
    • We may place some hope, though, in the fact that Annie has been mentioning, that traditions are always being interpreted and reinterpreted. The next wave of interpretation may be for the better.

  • Here we go again! Netanyahu disputes Trump administration, urges him to 'shatter Palestinian fantasy' about Jerusalem
    • I understand that Mr. Spicer has announced that 'wall in WB' is 'not the President's position'. Perhaps just a diplomat snapping under the strain. It does happen sometimes, I believe, when you are expected to look benignly on massive injustice day in, day out. If it really is the President's position then something big is happening.

  • Dershowitz defames Gertrude Stein, Daniel Berrigan and Omar Barghouti
    • Perhaps if the scintillating Dershowitz had been there Cambridge would have gone the same way as Oxford.
      There is something special about remarks in this style both from Dershowitz and from the Israel Victory crowd of which we've been hearing. We think of them as arrogant and cruel, but these orators are arrogant about being arrogant, cruel about being cruel, so our objections actually make them feel that they were right all along, rather than give them pause, and audiences can be caught up in this self-confirming spiral. Perhaps that's what happened at Oxford.
      I suppose I'm grateful to Dershowitz for making me think about Gertrude Stein and her Petainism. It seems she thought that Petain had saved France, at any rate the rural, Catholic France where she felt at home. She moved to be near a railway station, perhaps so that she could do a quick leap into Switzerland, for which she had the necessary papers, if someone
      denounced her as Jewish: she was no fool. This brought her near Izieu, where several Jewish children were hiding until they were rounded up - France's Anne Franks. I think the suspicions of Dershowitz and maybe a few others are that GS was deep in the Gestapo controlled networks that ferreted them out, but there's nothing really supporting that idea. Thoughts of those times easily become paranoid and Dershowitz, this demagogue, has the skills to make paranoia seem like reason.

  • Pro-Israel group bullies Church of Scotland over its 'sensitive' commemoration of Balfour centenary
    • Many things changed very drastically in that decade, all changes being mediated by the War. Another Great War would do many things and even right many wrongs among the survivors but it would be a cure worse than the disease. And I see no real sign of a great shift in opinion at any point in the spectrum.

    • I too was struck by that challenge. Mind you, Zionism never lacks journalists and academics with golden tongues.

    • See Catherine Shannon, Arthur Balfour and Ireland, reviewed by Anthony Gaughan, Irish Quaterly Review autumn 1989: AJ Balfour had the plan of 'killling home rule with kindness', mainly by reforming the land system, which he described as 'essentially rotten', so he was not one big mass of hostility, had some idea of human rights and did not exclude the Irish from humanity. I accept that did believe in repressive policies against popular protests.
      The two Balfour brothers, Arthur and Gerald, were both Chief Secretaries for Ireland, Arthur around 1890, Gerald taking over (not directly) c. 1895. There is a record of a speech by him on Oct.19 of that year saying that Home Rule might not be killed by kindness but that the bitterness in Anglo-Irish relations could be and that he wished to achieve better working relationships - but look what happened over the Eurovision Song Contest only yesterday.
      It was Gerald, not Arthur, who is said to have used highly racist language about Darwinism's implying Irish extinction, but the witness, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, a strong supporter of Irish nationalism, may have been adding colour to what he heard.

    • There is a very fat chance of the commemoration's being anything other than rather gross celebrations at the top level. Whatever the CofS does the CofE will do worse. However, ministers up and down the country - some of them, more than a few - will strike a different note, enough to get some attention. I hope that when people talk of justice they will recall the normality of the principle that people should be enfranchised citizens of a sovereign state.

  • Charges against 'Israel Victory Caucus' protest show dissent is being criminalized under Trump
    • Total defeat means total powerlessness, I suppose, total inability to act as a group or exercise a general will. The inability to act as a group implies acting only as individuals, which implies being scattered and each one acquiring a new group membership if possible, somewhere and somehow. Let that not happen.

    • That's a very eloquent description, amigo. Another part of the story might be dwelling in increasingly circumscribed enclaves. The world is a bad place but not yet anything like so bad as to make this degree of subservience the normal condition of its national groups. Nor is it normal to be massively dominant in the region where one dwells, menacing all around with nukes. In fact that kind of existence is somehow outlandish and insane.

  • Jews made America great so 'we deserve our influence' on Israel policy, Dershowitz tells Scarsdale synagogue
    • Can't match those puns but I have found an argument in fundamentalist circles that an original 'Galt' became Celt and Gaul in various dialects but had derived from a Semitic Galut, the word for unholy exile so important in Jewish theology. The Assyrians dispersed the Ten Tribes, it is argued, thinking they would simply vanish. Their point of departure was Gaulon/Golan, mentioned in the Bible as a city of refuge. They became the ruling class wherever they went and previously barbarian tribes were keen to adopt the name they called themselves.
      This idea may not catch on, though I've sometimes wondered if there wasn't something Gallic about Gaulanitis, the rather medical sounding Hellenistic name for Golan. Yoni has noted my weakness for folk etymology.

  • A Republican plan for peacemaking: 'break the will' of the Palestinians and force them to 'accept defeat'
    • Perhaps something is about to happen, beginning with Bennett's 'offer' and Trump's 2 statist rhetoric, then Hamas' new wording, seeking to sound reasonable while rejecting, with objective reason indeed, sovereignty (well, it sounds a bit like sovereignty) only in Gaza. I think it will be important, if this idea does take shape under Trump's midwifery, to make Western audiences aware that a large chunk of the Palestinian population will continue to exist in disfranchised state in respect of the power that is sovereign over them. At least it will begin to make Israel's short term intentions clear.

  • Jake Sullivan seeks to rebrand 'American exceptionalism'
    • Following Kaisa's remarks about immigration in Sweden I noticed an article currently on the Economist website about 'Sweden making people Swedish' and it dwells on the de facto segregation that Kaisa mentions. The main expert it cites is Tino Sanandaji, who also has an article published in the (suspect) National Review last Feb. The comments in the Economist are rather terrifying. The E is also running several articles about Israel at the moment, one about 'still occupation after 50 years' in whose comments section, not free of racially negative remarks, Eva and I have been surrounded by an unfriendly mob.

    • I too hadn't heard of Mr. Sullivan but I think his version of exceptionalism, that if you want any big thing done in the world American support is quite exceptionally important, is true enough, though in some senses disappointing. He represents the bland pro-Israel consensus which is certainly weakening in academic and progressive circles, though that is not enough to make much of a change in the views of the political class or in overall public opinion. That Brookings survey still showed enormous - was it 78%? - support for the idea of Israel as a valuable ally.
      A lot of the discussion has been about the EU rather than the ME. I don't want to get too deep into that but just to say that I'm a Remoaner and generally share Kaisa's opinions. The forces behind Brexit are not particularly to be trusted when it comes to the ME.

  • 100 senators throw their bodies down to end UN 'bias' against Israel
    • Yes, if 'being indigenous in place P' means belonging to a group descended to a significant degree from those carved out by the Ungambikula near the main source of water at that place then it does seem that many groups could be indigenous at P for many reasons - if there has been any significant interbreeding with those carved out at Lakes Q and R or if the Ungambikula have done their carving work at Lake P itself on more than one occasion, producing people in different styles.
      And being indigenous to place P does not preclude being indigenous to places Q and R as well, again possibly through interbreeding or if the water source is mighty enough to be the principal supply of many regions which are geographically distinct.
      And the same potential for many indigenous peoples in one place and for many places where one people is indigenous would exist if we substituted other group- forming procedures, such being assembled by one leader or adopting one religion.

    • We've talked about this before, but I'd like to see the definition of indigenous people, have the definite article - can there be only one indigenous people in any place? - explained and find out whether anyone has articulated a theory of why being indigenous in the required sense confers rights, especially exclusive rights.
      Given the emphasis which the defenders of Israel place on the idea of 'the indigenous people' in a land which is uniquely 'theirs' I don't see how a comparison with apartheid can be avoided. The whole idea is to maintain the special status of the people claiming to be indigenous. An obvious implication for the others is that the place is not theirs. The result must be a system whereby the 'peoples' must be kept distinct and develop separately.

  • Fake progressives
    • I think more badly of myself in those days, Keith. I can remember thinking that Zionism was a really bad idea but letting myself be overwhelmed by the propaganda, the near unanimity of public opinion in favour of Israel, its coursgeous fighters, its modenity and all that. I knew but wouldn't let myself admit.
      King had advantages denied to us. He had actually been to Palestine. He had had intense conversations with an articulate supporter of the Palrstinian cause, Stokely Carmichael, though perhaps he found the Marxist, insurrectionist style irksome. Mind you, his own interpretation of the Arab world in terms of feudal despotism was para-Marxist. He took the trouble to elaborate bad arguments - why should the Palestinian masses have been penalised for Saudi monarchism? He wasn't provincially American. He was a politician but he was also a liberal Protestant intellectual and his failures are in an important sense its failures, the result of its overcompensation for previous anti-Semitism.

    • The forged 'King' letters were an attempt, I think, to commit King rather more than he would have liked to the idea that the only explanation of anti-Z is anti-Semitism, which would probably have wrecked his relationship with Stokely Carmichael, something he much wished to avoid.

    • The MLK-Zinosm matter was discussed here around August 12 last year. I thought jon was right at that time, though with a certain reservation about King's tendency to avoid the subject. That reservation still applies, though rather less as I fight my way through the internet thickets to his published statements. I also think that this is a very important matter - King isn't an infallible authority and he didn't cast his vote for Zionism with the loudest of fanfares but he was in some way the swing vote that committed American and general Western opinion Israel's way.
      I find Lenni Brenner's 'The Black Civil Rights Movement and Zionism' very helpful, coming from one who knew many of those involved, though I don't agree with his final assessment. But it's quite a full record.
      In addition to the Rabbinical Assembly speech mentioned by jon there is a press release by the SCLC for August 27, 1967 and a batch of letters sent by King on September 29, all stating and a Zionist 'Israel must be secure' position to recipients Eisendrath, Held and Wise. These are not dubious sources - all are to found in the archives of the King Center, searching 'Israel' and 'anti-Semitism'. The context is the Conference on New Politics of August 31 (was it 30?) that year which had featured much anti-Israel sentiment. King has taken care not to be there when all that was debated, delegating the matter successfully to Hosea Williams. There was a terrible risk of his movement's breaking apart - Brenner is good on the stressed relationship with Stokely Carmichael. Harry Belafonte was trying to mediate and I think has in a fashion been trying ever since. The conference was bound to lead to great anxiety among King's Jewish supporters and it was those his statements were attempting to reassure. He may not have wanted to sound a fanfare but when he pressed he always said what was from the Z point of view the right thing.
      There was consistency in this. There is much reference to a very strongly pro-Israel (not exactly pro-nonviolence) manifesto called 'The Moral Responsibility in the Middle East', whose text took me some finding - I don't think anyone's too proud of it - published over the signature of King, Niebuhr and others in several newspapers from May 28 to June 4 in support of Israel's 6 Day war effort - though King would say later that he had lent his name without seeing the text.
      Niebuhr's influence is strongly at work, I think - he was the leading liberal Protestant Zionist, who parted from friends over the issue. It's very interesting that the mainstream churches were laggard in taking this view. But Israel would be able to count on them for a long time afterwards. And because of King, the overwhelmingly influential leader at a time of divided opinion, they would be able to count on mainstream Black opinion, particularly in the US Congress.
      Brenner, the Trotskyite friend of Carmichael/Sekou Toure - and authority for Ken Livingstone's fateful recent words - does think that King would have changed, quite rightly saying that the Israel/South Africa link was to become more of a scandal in the 70s. But I think he himself shows that American Black opinion did not much extend its sympathy from Black South Africans as Israel's indirect victims to Palestinians as victims in a more direct sense.
      Moreover, King had cast the die so firmly that retraction would have been very hard, and we see this in the actions of King's circle, including Harry Belafonte, Rosa Parks and Andrew Young, in writing another very strong - really rather brutal - pro-Israel manifesto for the New York Times of November 23, 1975. It is not just that they take a pro-Israel but that they echo the argumentation of King's letters of 67.
      King was a momentum rerum, a force which set many things in their course. In Western opinion on the ME, not so well.

  • Map map on the wall, who's most existing of them all?
    • Steve Mason's 'Jews, Judaeans, Judaizers, Judaism' in the Journal for the Study of Judaism 38, 2007 seems to the locus classicus for Yoni's 'Judaean' view of Ioudaioi.

    • GS - in Galatians 1:13+ Paul refers to himself as formerly 'within Judaism' and zealous for the traditions of the fathers. In Philippians 3:3+ he says that was circumcised on the 8th day and a Hebrew of the Hebrews (= understanding the Hebrew language?), in II Cor. 11:22 that he is Hebrew, Israelite and of Abraham's seed. Is he avoiding using Ioudaios because he was not born in Judaea? I don't really think so, because he refers to the Galilean Peter as 'Ioudaios' in Gal. 2:14, just as he refers to Titus 'being Greek' a few verses earlier - this being a cultural term, surely, rather than a reference to birthplace. So with respect I differ from Yoni on this.
      The Greek for a Greek, Hellen, has the plural Hellenes.

    • I wonder, lyn and yoni, how you understand 'Ioudaioi' - they 'have much advantage every way' you know - in the New Testament? Is the usage consistent?

    • I'd better review what I've been 'pushing'!
      My definition of Zionism is 'the belief that people who are Jewish, and they only, have an inherent right, now commonly called birthright, to a share of sovereignty in the Holy Land, others having a share only by the grace and generosity of the true heirs'. This is the proposition with which I've been saying I disagree.
      The claim relates strongly to ancestry, makes it impossible to treat everyone equally and 'without privilege' and has what Yonah has called a 'cruel vector'.
      There is sometimes (I dont know whether lyn would agree with this) overwhelming utility in hereditary rights: for instance, societies should give room for inherited property. For children there is normally great disutility and harm in either relocation without sufficient provision or separation from parents, for adults there is normally harm in having to live without full rights. So it should be abnormal - Israel has always been very abnormal in this respect, as I have been trying to point out - not to accept as full citizens in the area of sovereignty those born of citizen parents or those born locally, categories that will in most circumstances overlap very greatly. This is a kind of limited hereditary right.
      I agree that when we think of utility there are likely to be utility-based exceptions to rules. However, Israel's exceptions, the exclusion of the Palestinians of 48 and the disfranchisement and humiliation of the 67ers, have created massive harm for all to see and are very bad candidates for exceptions based on general utility. Others, like the absence from UK law of American-style anchor children, may be more justifiable even considering the interests of would-be immigrants wanting to know where they stand.
      We have discussed the settler children, whose status I would regard as unsettled pending an agreement. You can't commit a violent crime that creates rights for anyone. If a chiid is born in a place invaded and ravaged - and there has been some ravaging - by its parents then that child ought to consider that there is utility for the whole human race in discouraging that kind of behaviour and that this may mean that (s)he should move on. However, if there is an agreement that regularises things then s(he) may have rights under it. Might does not create right but agreements putting an end to episodes of violence may do so. That sort of agreement is still lacking in Palestine.
      I'll try pushing those ideas and see what happens.

    • There are all sorts of problems in demarcating both territories and populations. I think that Sark is definitely not part of England but perhaps I could claim that the people of Sark have some sort of affinity with us English. (They mightn't agree; I don't know any of them.). The nation is not necessarily easier to demarcate than the territory. Scotland is surely (surely!) part of Britain but it is much doubted whether Scots are British. But that is not the real point. It is surely (surely!) extremely convenient to keep one list of words for territories and one for groups of people and to keep their meanings separate.
      Perhaps I'm making (even) less sense than usual because I've been visiting the family in America and am a bit jet lagged. Maybe I'll get a burst of energy and coherence later.

    • I meant that if the right to full citizenship with all the trimmings is absolute for those born in place, as in the US though not in the UK (where the presence of the parents has to be in some degree rightful), then Israel, which has exercised sovereign power in a way that excludes many local borns and disfranchises others, is doing something problematic, i.e. not treating the right as absolute but as contingent on something.
      I understand the Zionist view to be that there are two sorts of right to full citizenship in the Holy Land - an inherent right (birthright) for all who are Jewish and a conferred right for some who are not Jewish but to whom it is possible for a government springing from the Jewish population to extend generosity - it being understood that generosity within the needs of security and survival will be a prominent festure of the situation. The rights of locally born non-Jewish people are then contingent on their not being a threat to the 'birthright' group. If they are a threat, even just by being and remaining there, their rights are limited and precarious. That is to say that in an important sense they have no right to be there at all.
      Some of us think that the imposition of this theory has been a cruel act, in itself a moral offence, meaning that the Israeli presence is wrongful.
      One of the reasons frequently offered for denying birthright to Palestinians is the claim that 'Palestine is not a country', only a province of some larger, cuitually homogeneous entity. There can be a bit of discussion about this, but I cannot see how it's going to make any difference to the Palestinians' moral rights.

    • Yes, that is true, but I don't think that a connection of names is the same thing as a definition. I don't object to unusual definitions for a special purpose but in normal usage England is not the people who have this or that characteristic but the place where those people live.

    • The people living in a certain area are just as much subjects or citizens of a sovereign state if a) that area is the entire territory of the state in question or b) it is one of many provinces of a larger state. Conquest - killing and taking possession, excluding or disfranchising - is rather ckearky an offence, a cruel one, too - against the people of an area even if other areas, formerly other provinces of the same polity, are not conquered. If it is true that being born in an area (rather than being born to parents rightfully present) implies full political rights there then the current regime in Palestine is, unless you introduce certain very strong exceptions to the rule, clearly problematic.

    • It seems odd to define country, normally a place, in terms of nation, normally a group of people.

  • Gilad Atzmon’s attack against me – the 'merchant of JVP'
    • I have never quite been able to work out where Finkelstein or indeed Atzmon stands on the dire events called Holocaust. On the whole F seems to stand with Hilberg but maybe not quite consistently.

    • If Pamela Geller wishes to test us with a series of questions about Islam, I say 'bring it on'. Not that I for my part would be able to answer serious questions about Islam (perhaps they would not be serious) but I think I would be interested in commening on the relevance of her own answers to her political agenda.
      If someone else wishes to pose questions on Christianity and its relationships with imperialism and with Zionism I would think those questions should be answered rather than refused. What is the value of my 'identity' (as they say) as a Christian if I am not prepared to answer questions from the critics of my religion as rationally as I can?

    • Thanks very much for kind words - I meant to refer to Bolshevism by the term 'Soviet', though perhaps some people use 'Bolshevik' only for the revolutionary, not for the Stalinist phase. I think it's very important to say what we mean by 'Zionism'. Its relationship with Judaism, colonialism, nationalism can then be more clearly discussed. I see no reason not to answer Atzmon's questions or indeed not to answer the questions that Zionists may put to us. Of course some matters may be well beyond our knowledge, so 'I do not know' is sometimes a legitimate answer to a question.

    • I too much miss the four mentioned, also Shmuel and Tree.

    • My answer to Atzmon's questions would be along the lines that Judaism is a set of religious precepts and Zionism the belief that those who are Jewish, and only they, have an inherent right, now commonly called birthright, to a share of sovereignty over Palestine, others having a share only by the reasonable generosity of the true heirs. I consider Zionism to be a false proposition. If Judaism implies Zionism then the precepts of Judaism must, for me, be false to an important degree. It would seem that the majority of those considering themselves to be of Jewish religion do consider that Zionism is implied, but there is a dissenting minority. I think it's fairly clear that the link is not logically watertight, so it is possible, to use Atzmon's terminology, for Judaism to end short of Zionism as a set of beliefs about God and ethical behaviour. I do understand Atzmon's reluctance to believe that the dissenting religious minority or the other relevant, overlapping minority, that of dissenting Israelis, stands any foreseeable chance of stopping the Zionist agenda, which has been marked with so much success, admiration and
      reward, in its tracks. It is still right and important to make the effort, though. Maybe Almighty God will bend the arc of the universe a bit. I think that Atzmon's questions should be answered rather than refused.
      Some Soviet people of Jewish background did terrible things, granted. They suffered also. But the truth or falsity of the Zionist idea is the question and we will not find the answer to that question in the records of the past or its chapters of atrocity.

  • Traveling on Israeli government's dime, novelist trashes Netanyahu and ministers as 'sorceress and stupid apprentices'
    • Letting fly with guns and bombs that harm good and bad people alike is a strange way of helping the good guys. There is an urgent duty, even on Rabinyan's own showing, at very least -extreme least - to use helpful words as well as all those harmful weapons and to make some proposal for an end to the horrors. All these liberal Zionists should be straining every nerve to end the period of fake negotiations and get a discussable proposal on the table. Mind you, I can't reconcile the supposed basic idea, that the other is equal to you, surely meaning others have the very same rights, with any form of Zionism, which is a claim to rights exclusive to those people who are Jewish.

  • New York rabbi links Jewish Voice for Peace to Osama bin Laden and Assad
    • I would think that anyone who cannot see that nothing has been done towards peace has a problem, that of being unrealistic. Anyone who cannot see that this situation is wrong has a moral problem.

    • Page: 37
    • That's exactly the deduction to be made from the philosophical position that he takes, eljay. Why can't he and his audience see that? He must be a person of intelligence and education.

    • Most British people have the idea that 'we stood alone' and saved many things in 1940 by means of cohesion, courage, cheerfulness, scientific ingenuity and all that. Mythistory but still history after a fashion. One of the reasons we were never quite comfortable in the EU.
      I don't think you can blame human beings for seeking power and/or for forming sovereign states. What's wrong is ideological or religious relish in the use of power, forgetting that others have the same insecurities as you and the same right to protect themselves or letting a rational sense of risk become paranoia. Hobbes explains this, I think.
      On some interpretations Psalm 20, with its advice not to trust completely in chariots and horses rather than in God, reminds us that even a great king should not boast and threaten on the basis of his military power. I think that R. Hirsch should read it more often, using
      his doubtless impeccable Hebrew.
      It's somewhat alarming that an American congregation is being called upon not to put its trust in the laws, moral fortitude and armed force of the United States to protect its citizens but in power defined in terms of race and religion.
      Over top rhetoric, as Yonah rightly says. That applies to his remarks about the Palestinian leadership. But that doesn't mean that there is no truth at all in what his Palestinian informant seems to have told him. Mind you, it's outrageous that the celebration of Israeli power should so with such refusal of responsibility, one of the things that comes with power unless power is swamped by paranoia. He should call on the Israeli government night and day to state its terms for that vanishing Solution.

  • Trump and the ever expanding Israeli occupation of Palestine
    • There is obvious reason for a proudly proclaimed Jewish state to change the situation whereby its most important monument has a conspicuously non-Jewish feature. However, I think that there are many reasons why Israel is nowhere near ready to make this change, quite apart from the fearsome backlash. They just aren't ready for white-robed priests sacrificing sheep. The election of a High Priest, absolutely necessary if there is to be a Temple operating in the pre-70 fashion, would be disruptive of religious patterns. And where there is a High Priest a King is not far behind if you refer to Biblical authority, though identifying a Son of David would be hard - not beyond religious ingenuity but a strain on belief.

  • Why I'm keeping my child home from school in Israel on Holocaust Day
    • Thanks for that, Marnie. I followed up your words about the Slavery Museum, finding that it is in Louisiana plantation country and the work of a retired lawyer who is 78 or 79 and has spent $8m., vs the $168m. spent on the Holocaust Museum. There was a long report in the NYT for February 2015. It's obviously a really precarious venture with no support from public funds.

    • Yes indeed, Yoni, there were disastrously many British expeditions into Nazi Europe that went very wrong. There's a book called Target Italy which is, for a British reader, quite embarrassing.

    • There's no point in trying to make myself an instant Kastner expert but I did try to follow up a few of the points being made. It all seems very murky and was clearly caught up in bitter controversies in the early days of Israel. I note that Kastner still has his admirers. The Canadian novelist Anna Porter has published a book in his praise. He claimed that his train was a Noah's Ark with a 1,600 strong cross section of Jewish life in it - though implicitly casting himself as Noah seems a bit startling. He claimed that he was collaborating with an anti-Hitler faction in the SS and intervened successfully on behalf of one of them when he, the SS man, was arrested after the War. Hannah Senesh was a character in the same Hungarian drama but it seems (Wikipedia, I'm. afraid) that her mother was anti-Kastner, giving evidence against him at the Israeli libel trial.

    • I was actually thinking of the Christian martyrologies and of all that we find embedded in Tertullian's disturbing, barely grammatical phrase, often rewritten as 'the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church'. The martyrologies pointed to beautiful ideals of steadfastness and hope but also led to a blurring of truth and fiction. They did no good to Jewish-Christian relations. The powerful theological belief in martyrdom as a proof of God's favour, which is prominent in Abrahamic religion, appears in Tertullian's belief in shed blood as charged with creative, rather political power. I wonder about this. The matter you raise, of a version of martyrdom which is also provision for one's family, also causes concern.

    • In the sense of Tertullian's Apologeticus 'semen est sanguis Christianorum', I suppose. Stories of martyrs and victims can be misused, of course.

  • Speaking of Palestine and academic freedom
    • I believe that there is agony and litigation at UCB at this moment about free speech for the colourful Ann Coulter. I hope she can have her and that people likeminded with us can have theirs too.

  • 'SNL' cracks about man 'so blinded by devotion to Israel he ignores all reason'
    • Not sure it's that big, Rooster. It presupposes that Judaism and Zionism are separable but accepts that they are very often conjoined. The link can look comical but meets with a sort of resigned acceptance from the worldly father of the gauche boy and implicitly from the comic script. It's certainly not treated as a weakening force nor as a shameful one. Quite a realistic portrait of things as they are, things that sustain the mighty political commitment to Israel.

  • 'Why do I not cry out for the right of return?' -- an exchange between Uri Avnery and Salman Abu Sitta
    • I don't contest that, echino

    • That is an interesting critique, Vacy - I sometimes think (though others here have questioned it) that the reluctance to say 'Palestinian' goes all the way back to the Septuagint translators' making 'Philistines' into 'foreigners'. Somehow the adjectivd 'Palestinian' never quite gained the currency of the noun 'Palestine'. However, it might be that Avnery is using 'Arab' so as not to induce an immediate defensive response from those he seeks to persuade. Your 'clue number 1', where he mentions the non-agricultural use of (actually) Palestinian land by settlers, seems to me to expose, as well as any one sentence written by any one person ever has, the ungenuine, creepy nature of the Zionist attachment to 'the Land'.

    • Thanks for useful information, Jeff.

    • It may be that there were bad things on both sides but for the purposes of this argument that fact - or that question - does not matter that much. The point is that the true crucial action was the exclusion of so many Palestinians at the end of the conflict. It"s useful to have Avnery's plain statement of this.

    • The anger and horror are deeper than in SA, I think, because to a significant extent religion comes into it. All Zionism is connected to the idea of a donation of the land of Canaan by God, which since it has this unique authority sets everything else in second place.

    • It is valuable to have the point made so clearly by Avnery that the real question is why the 750,000 were excluded. It is true that many of the victims of Auschwitz etc. were still unsettled three years postwar, but it is not true
      a) that it was a dire postwar emergency and that their lives were hanging by a thread - if they were still there after three years emergency provision had already been made
      b) that there was nowhere else for them to go - many were making new lives, some in the United States, some even in their old homes
      c) that the policy of exclusion of traditional residents, with its infliction of misery, could be justified by the needs of new arrivals. There could be no security for any of us in the human race if neighbours were allowed to exclude us from our homes in order to make way for their friends or relatives.
      Avnery's main argument about himself, as he chooses not to respond to increasingly angry challenges, seems to be that there is no duty to attempt the impossible - and it is impossible to get an Israeli hearing for the RoR. I actually have some sympathy for this argument, since 'ought presupposes can' is plausible. However, the argument is presented as if another, more constructive possibility is indeed open, which turns out to be the 2ss in very liberal form: but is this really a possibility? If Avnery has been campaigning for it since 1953 and got nowhere his own experience maybe suggests that it is not. And it seems horrible that he sets out to make peace with the angered Palestinians, treating them as morally significant people, but finds that when pressed by one of them to support his claims he responds, perhaps must respond, with a deaf ear and stony silence, committing them, in effect, to as much moral insignificance as they have in the Netanyahu worldview.

  • The bulldozers of Shavuot, 1967
    • Thanks for kind word, Yonah. Really appreciated and reciprocated. But were we not discussing the world of 67, of the triumph of the new Hebrew action man ( to quote you approximately), rather than the world of 44 and Anne Frank's suffering?

    • There is a famous statement in philosophy called 'Reply on behalf of the Fool' - this is Reply on behalf of the Rat or Cry from the Sewer.
      It seems to be admitted that something wrong is going on, that the Palestinians have, to put it mildly, not received their due. You may say that this is between Israelis and Palestinians only - but Westerners too have continually failed thr Palestinians and many of us think that our own societies have gone wrong and in their own way need to make amends. The whole constitution and whole idea of groups like the Mondoweiss commenters is that we object to something that is, now seemingly by agreement, morally wrong. We find ourselves opposed by those whose whole idea is that the moral wrong does not need to be undone and who object to our objections. It is possible that we may get angry and speak unwisely but is it likely, is it even conceivable, that the basic purpose of resisting a moral mistake in the societies where we belong puts on a moral level actually below those who are making the mistake - makes us, in comparison with them, essentially vermin?

  • Israel celebrates 50 years as occupier
    • I don't think that 'occupier' is a status that Israelis - or any others - really celebrate - it has too much of an air of temporariness and provisionality. Those who really consider that an occupation is going on are 2-staters who have at least a vague wish for Israeli forces to withdraw. Those in charge consider themselves liberators. They should really be considered conquerors, at least in vigorously continuing attempt, though the attempt has not yet succeeded. Must admit that they have given an air of permanence and legitimacy to what 99% of informed opinion believed, when it all started, would be a mere blip. Think of the international pressure, think of the risk of further wars, think of all that moderate opinion that would surely prevail. A massive achievement politically, though not morally.

  • Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti's op-ed calling Israel 'moral and political failure' is buried in int'l edition of 'NYT'
    • I agree that Internet publication is real publication. I also noticed, when looking around for information about 'who cares' about MB, another Times - LA - with an article by Joshua Mitnick a day or so ago headed 'Behind bars a famed Palestinian leads his people on hunger strike'. This wording seems apt to me - and I don't think Mitnick meant 'famed on Mondoweiss'. The fact of the NYT publication is itself evidence in favour of that choice of words, with the absence from the American print edition an indication not that Americans couldn't care less about him but that they don't like him - have been much encouraged to think badly of him. Mitnick mentions that there are Israelis who don't in fact think of him that badly, though he does not conceal that this is a minority view in Israel. I don't pretend that MB is a household name in the West, since the whole Palestinian issue is occluded. But MW attention to MB is not just echo-chambering: he is objectively 'famed' enough for our interest to be rational.

  • Beyond apartheid: Fragments from the West Bank
    • We sometimes comfort ourselves with the idea that accusations of anti-Semitism are losing their power from being used in such scattergun fashion, but the fate of ex-MP Ward shows how false this comfort is. That old scattergun is still scattering us far and wide - no defence oe effective counter-rhetoric has really been invented. The same day we hear that Malia Bouattia has rather massively failed in her attempt to be re-elected as Prrsudent of the National Union of Students, clearly because of her views in the same area. Also that Irina Bokova, the head of Unesco, has made a speech which treats the views on the Temple Mount in her Executive Committee - or whatever it's called - concerning the Temple Mount, which caused such consternation a couple of months ago, as if they were little more than a silly student prank, best forgotten.
      This is not to praise Ward or Bouattia or say that the phrase 'Temple Mount' should be indeed be discontinued, just to note how powerful in the UK and internationally the accusation of anti-Semitism still is, how careers end and resolutions get brushed aside in face of it.

    • I think that's quite true, Kaisa. I had a very unsettlimg experience with a German who was very negative about all firms of nationalism except Zionist because as a German she couldn't saythijg negative about Jews. However, your mastery of the English language is very impressive!

    • Well, I would think, inbound, that Germany is as much fully on the pro-Israel wagon as the UK is.

  • Academic boycott campaign is growing fast at Trinity College Dublin
    • Looking around for more information on this I came across a report in the Irish Independent Feb, 10 about Israeli diplomatic pressure on Ireland not to recognise a Palestinian state, as it has sometimes seemed likely to do. I can imagine that Mr. Keane came under some pressure from government circles - I guess a full-scale BDS campaign in such a prominent institution would have caused embarrassment - and thought better of his unequivocal 'piece of paper' statement. His electronic statement was clearly substituting 'looking at it' for 'doing it', so the BDS people may have felt betrayed but should not have felt too surprised. Getting into a position of some power and influence for the first time can disorient a person. The likes of us have carried most conviction in universities but we have to remember that the university world is a rather mutable thing. And the armour plating of Zionism among established political figures has barely cracked even in Ireland where for a moment something seemed to stir.

  • 'With furious cruelty'--Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour still facing prosecution in Israel
  • The false piety over Spicer's Holocaust mistake
    • Gas had been used extensively, of course, on the battlefields of WW1, with Hitler the best known victim. The British and German generals of WW2 had been junior officers 25 years before, some in the front line, and didn't seem to like the idea of gas, perhaps because of mutual deterrence, perhaps because they didn't think it won wars, perhaps because they had come to think it atrocious. David Jablonsky in 'Churchill, the Great Game and Total War' p.178 says that Churchill consulted his assistant General Ismay on June 30, 1940 about gas to defend 'the beaches' but nothing much came of it. He later talked about gas as retaliation for the terrifying V1/V2 rocket attacks, but again this way was not taken.

  • Passover has become little more than an act of communal hypocrisy
    • I do think that the 'national humanist' idea is inherently paradoxical in this and all contexts. In the interpretation of Passover the Jewish atheist (and Christian atheist) position, which we have been discussing recently, is highly unconvincing because the heart of the message is not human liberty but divine supremacy. The command to carve out 'an inheritance for the children of Israel' in (what is still called, with moral significance) the Land of Canaan is not a contradictory extension of a libertarian message but the logical extension of the idea of the sovereignty of God, whose absolute nature is shown in the ability to set all normal morality aside, though we are made aware that the star rising in Israel will in the end bring blessing to all. All justifications of Zionism even if they wear atheist trappings have, as it seems to me,this idea of unique divine donation no more than a millimetre beneath their surface and sometimes much more prominently.
      The Ptolemaic historian Hecataeus thought the the wise and courageous Moses had found a solution to the unpopularity of racial minorities in an imperial heartland particularly in time of plague, which was that they should consider themselves one nation under God,, move to an unpopulated place and practice the military virtues. That (just) might be regarded as a less aggressive interpretation of the Passover tradition. The more modern view, as you remark, Anti, is that didn't happen.

    • Well, Kaisa, the service I plan to attend in two days' time will begin with the words 'Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast' from I Corinthians 5:7. It's always exhilarated me, though it's quite mysterious:. what feast exactly are we to keep? Over a time it was interpreted to mean the feast which we call Easter. The New Testament has much Passover imagery and allusion surtounding the Lord's crucifixion, of which that verse is an example. Both Passover and Easter are services of redemption, of Israel from Egypt and of humanity from the demonic powers of sin and death. You are quite right that Christians became very anxious not to make their ceremony seem in any way dependent on those of the Jews. The Fourteeners, who wanted to fix the date of the festival by reference to the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan, lost out and the complex system we use to this day came in. Best wishes to the Finnish Church this Easter! I hope that a bit of Gods grace gets through to you and me and to those keeping the feast in Egypt and Palestine.

    • I think that Passover and Easter, the Christian version, are about the absolute supremacy of God, whether his adversary is political power or forces that are regarded as demonic. It's not about ending slavery, whose continuation the scriptures do not question fundamentally.

    • The question of orthodoxy versus orthopraxy can indeed get complex but even if there is no belief in the rightness of this or that behaviour which marks belonging to the group there must be some belief in the merits - or perhaps in the grim inevitability - of belonging either somewhere or else belonging in the particular place. This belief seems to call for a lot of discussion, not to bring discussion to an end.

    • But it is still true, is it not, that the 1948 Zionists were a strange group of Bible-thumping atheists, led by BG. Zionism had and had long had a wonderful talent for drawing support from across the religious spectrum, from fundamentalists like Cyrus Scofield to ultra-progressives, near atheists, like George Eliot. Likewise across the political spectrum. A remarkable achievement.

    • Brook quotes Sanhedrin 97b, where it is said that all the popular dates set for the arrival of the Messiah had gone by and that it is now all a matter of repentance and duties. This doesn't seem to be very atheist in tone - it's quite like the Christian discussion in 2 Peter 3, which has never been regarded as atheist inclined. Still, it is revealed that there is a network of Jewish Humanist synagogues these days, perhaps only in the United States.

    • There's an interesting article in Tikkun Daily for May 8, 2013 'My Jewish Atheism' by Dan Brook, followed by interesting, though slightly baffling, comments. It is headed by a quote, somewhat oblique to the subject, from the Talmud and by a reminder of Golda Meir's mot, when asked whether she believed in God, 'I believe in the Jewish people'. I see, from Mooser's anthology, that I outdo Jeff in biblical credulity because I do think that there must have been a temple, or at any rate an operative cult centre, in Jerusalem pre-Nebuchadnezzar.

  • 'This miracle, this gift, this jewel' -- Obama's ambassador to Israel declares he's a Zionist
    • There have been some very good/well reviewed books on the 'second exile' recently, most notably Wiliam Horbury's 'Jewish War in the time of Trajan and Hadrian'. I think that it should now be clear that Jews were subject to a military exclusion zone round Jerusalem for some time, that the wider area, traditional Judaea, became sparsely populated, perhaps with a non-Jewish majority but still with a Jewish presence, and that Galilee became the major Jewish centre, probably quite homogeneous and prosperous, able to afford impressive synagogue buildings, Jews remaining an important presence in the wider Roman and Persian worlds, with islands of anti-Semitism.
      At least there was one island, Cyprus, which declared that Jewish immigration was forbidden because of atrocities during that period of war. Even shipwrecked Jews were threatened with the death penalty. This remarkable detail is recorded, Horbury notes, by Dio Cassius around 100 years after the end of Hadrian's war, but perhaps the Cypriot bark was worse than the bite because there are Jewish inscriptions from Cyprus in Dio's time.

    • We see the many logical problems with 'right to exist'. 'Exist' is not a descriptive term: you have to add descriptive terms like 'in its current state' or 'within its 67 borders' or 'as provider of justice to Jewish and Palestinian people alike'. Our view of the RtE would probably be different for the different descriptions. The third one I mentioned would not imply that the real Israel had any right to exist, since it does not provide enough justice. The first one would confer that right even if the s quo is totally maintained.
      I think most people who have thought about the problem would say that Israel has a right to exist as power compliant with relevant UN resolutions: that (talknic's) is the majority view, I believe, though some of us might think that it attributes too much moral authority to what is only a committee. It might be agreed that Israel's compliance with those resolutions, not only about 67, was quite problematic. But then you run up against the problems of conditional rights. How long is the piece of string that measures the time that Israel has to comply? If compliance is not total do all Israel's rights lapse? Are you allowed to claim rights on the basis of some international resolutions whilst refusing to obey others having the same authority? But are conditional rights really rights?
      The idea of RtE gives rise to much dispute and little clear truth.

  • Passover in the era of permanent Jewish occupation
    • I see, Eva, that you and I are venturing into the lions' den of the Economist comments section. Perhaps we could find a way of backing each other up!

  • The liberal double standard on boycotting North Carolina and boycotting Israel
  • You know your country's in trouble when you're afraid to put on a bumper sticker
    • Well, a) taking the third element in jon's definition b) taking race to mean a status significantly determined by ancestry c) taking ancestry to mean something a bit more historic and long- term than parentage and close family, let's see.
      Jon might say that Israel's treatment of non-Jewish people subject to its exercise of sovereign power is not a matter of prejudice but of reason, ie the rational purpose of maintaining the Jewish character of the state. That is quite like what I would say about some forms of hereditary privilege, mentioned by RoHa , that there may be reason to maintain them for the common good, rather than prejudice in favour of those involved. But it is impossible to say that the Israeli system is for the common good, including that of the non-Jews concerned.
      Even if we are not talking about prejudice we are surely talking about serious discrimination, including for many disfranchised status in face of the sovereign power exercised over their lives. And we are talking about whether or not people are Jewish, which in turn is commonly defined, to a significant degree, by reference to ancestry. So I think it's quite hard to escape the application of the term 'racism' when it comes to the Israeli system and those who defend it, even if they do not accept any wide-ranging racial theory - and that's using the Jon/Webster definition, which does not require all three of its three clauses to apply, only one.

    • Racism = prejudice on grounds of ancestry?

  • Why so many are twisting Ken Livingstone’s words about Hitler and Zionism
    • There ssems to be some ambivalence here between a) saying that KL's remarks were twisted from 'Hitler took action clearly helpful to Zionism' to 'he did this with some sense of sympathy with or admiration for Z' and b) saying that latter proposition might well have some truth in it to which KL was drawing attention, as evidenced for instance by Eichmann's 'I would have been a Z'. If b) is true there not really been a twist.
      The question of admiration the other way round is another matter again, but not clearly touched on by KL.
      I don't see that there is that much hay to be made merely from Nazi admiration for Z if it struck them that here was another robust nationalism appealing, just as the Ns themselves did, to the idea of self-determination. We can't help or choose who admires us and we can't avoid the fact that nothing is shown to be false because some bad people believe it (which would be hard luck for Christianity) or because some of the ideas that support it are false.
      Z self justification is always based on the idea that robust nationalism is a fine thing everywhere provided it is not anti-Semitic and believes that the governance of the nation-based state should be democratic, two provisos that the Nazis did not begin to meet or begin to understand, meaning that any N admiration for Z is based only on illusion and brings no opprobrium at all on (of all people) the thriving Jewish people of lovely London. So I can't see why either KL or his super-excited detractors have become so engaged in this quarrel.

  • Israeli Jews maintain the occupation because it is in their interest -- Noam Sheizaf
    • We awake to the new world where Trump has bombed Syria. Is this the opening shot of WW3 or a demonstration of the totality of American miltary power? For Israel it is surely a sign that everything is going more and more their way., that their bets have been very rational. I think that they have been wrong morally but in terms of rational self interest they have an excellent case.

  • Dershowitz gets drunk on water
    • The 'single life' vs. 'single life of Israel' is a matter of textual variants in Talmud Sanhedrin 37a. I am not competent to edit the Talmud, though to my mind for what it's worth the 'single life' version reads more naturally - not that this 'proof text' is conclusive evidence for the temper of Judaism. I suppose Dershowitz is within his rights to prefer the version that suits his personal theology/morality.

  • Read the full translated text of the leaked Hamas charter
    • No one is an outsider anywhere, in any morally valid sense, by being Jewish. No one has, by being Jewish or anything else, the right to deprive others of the normal right to be, on normal terms, an enfranchised member of a sovereign state.

  • Israel steps up dirty tricks against boycott leaders
    • It's a very strange business, this Livingstone row. I don't really know why Livingstone brought the Haavara agreement so prominently into the discussion. Even if it were to be proved to the hilt that Hitler went through a strongly Zionist phase that would not discredit Zionism or even reduce whatever plausibility it may have. If Hitler for a time or always believed strongly in evolution that would not show that Richard Dawkins should be ashamed of himself or even needs to sit down and have a re-think. A bad person can believe a true thing. A truth can't imply a falsehood but a falsehood can imply a truth. So what was Livingstone talking about?
      Livingstone's opponents are making a huge thing of his 'wilful misinterpretation'. They can't deny that Hitler did not rule out all forms of cooperation with Zionists: neither, evidently, did all Zionists rule out all forms of cooperation with him. There is a difference between that and Livingstone's claim that Hitler took this position because of some active, temporary sympathy with Zionist ideas. But how does that further step of 'interpretation' make such a difference to one's view of anything? Does historical clarity depend on being absolutely certain that Hitler never seriously changed his mind?
      Perhaps the concern is over something not explicitly said, i.e. that those Zionists prepared to cooperate in this degree with Hitler had some active sympathy with National Socialist ideas. Again, it seems strange to insist without further thought that this has to be inconceivable. Even were it true of some Zionists it would not discredit Zionism. Even if you are sure that Stalin and his henchmen were monsters that would not show that Marxist views of society were false.
      The truth about the states of mind of historical characters is not to be determined by how keen to hear - or how offended by hearing - certain
      ideas people in the present are.
      The whole thing is a bit crazy.

  • New book by Larry Derfner, the American-turned-Israeli journalist, crushes liberal Zionism
    • The basic claim of Zionism, I think, is that people who are Jewish, and they only, have what is now called a 'birthright' in the Holy Land. Only this makes sense, if that's the word, of the extraordinary claim that a group defined by its relationship to an ancestral religion - by practising it or by being closely descended from those who did - have the right to permanent majority status, with any second state clearly very secondary, not possibly more than a protectorate. The word 'conquest' is all too correct but it's a bit frustrating to see someone being so warmly congratulated (as it seems) for using, so misleadingly,
      only of the 67 territories. Mr. Derfner evidently makes, like the other eloquent liberal Zionists, many good points but he stands to be much feted for his eloquence and, I think, runs little personal risk.

  • A show of weakness: The 'Israeli Peace Movement' marches in Jerusalem
    • Thanks for Laor article, very eloquent and perceptive. The Israel Prize, which he mentions, is being awarded this year to David Beeri, the organiser of the archaeolgical theme park that is busy humiliating the local Palestinians and destroying the evidence that scientific archaeology might use. Raphael Greenberg's 'Bible and Interpretation' remarks on this are well worth reading.
      Meanwhile, I wish I could share the optimism about the collapse of Occupation.

  • JDL member arrested for attacking Palestinian-American teacher ran anti-Muslim website
    • The Washington Post story seemed to confirm that Mr. Nayfeh had used only words and that the others involved had used weapons, I think called 'flagpoles', which seems to indicate a non-violent, though no doubt annoying, protest with a violent response. If he knew that this sort of response was likely then he was provoking something but was within his rights in exposing just how ruthless these people are - and showing a courageous spirit, I would say. An agent provocateur is normally a false flagger, pretending sympathy with criminals in order to egg them on. Nayfeh wasn't that.

  • 'Jerusalem' on Gaza TV set is as close as many Palestinians will get to real thing
    • On Jerusalem and on the diplomatic front another major Israeli victory according to Ynet news, cited on the Bible and Interpretation site. Unesco resolutions referring to Jerusalem, over which there was much trouble, are withdrawn!
      The forthcoming Unesco meeting will discuss something about the tombs of the Patriarchs, which for the outside world will be of no interest at all. Who says that accusations of anti-Semitism, skilfully wielded, are losing their former power?

  • J Street attends rightwing anti-BDS summit-- and gets called 'anti-Semitic'
    • I too think that critique of religions is entirely permissible, even cartoons mocking the Church of England, which is having a rough old time in Berkshire these days.
      I was looking at the definition of anti-S favoured by 'my' government, which is partly in terms of the effect on people of Jewish religion, and suggesting that Zionism, considering its effects (remarkably serious effects) on many people actually of non-Jewish religion, can be defined in just the same style, implying that Z and anti-S have quite a lot in common. Theresa May might not like the outcome of thinking logically about what 'her' definition amounts to.

    • The definition seems to be 'perception of Jews such that it is capable of being expressed in hatred towards some individuals, Jewish or not, or towards Jewish community or religious institutions'. There's an ambiguity: are we to read 'some Jews' or 'all Jews'?
      Let's assume that hatred is always recognisable or near recognisable.
      Let's now define 'phobia against Christians or Muslims' in parallel terms and see if Zionism qualifies. It certainly embodies a perception of Cs and Ms which means that their interests and sentiments can well be limited to an important degree for the security of those who
      are Jewish, often conveying this meaning in an atmosphere of intense (maybe indeed often justified) disparagement of their anti-Judaism.. If they resist this idea they become rightly open to measures, such as exclusion from long-established homes or the paraphernalia of 'occupation', that radiate at least a good imitation of hatred, something very near instant recognition as such. Note that cultural and religious institutions are not immune.
      So under a definition in the required style Zionism is a form of phobia. There's no reason to use that style for one side in the dispute and not for the other.

  • The rabbi's daughter isn't buying AIPAC's defense of Israel on apartheid charge
  • Will assassination lead to war?
    • There's a report Daniel Bymsn of Brookingd to a Congrssiinsl Committee on March 22 2016 which has a heading about 'growing threat' from Hizb. But the actual words of the report refer to the 'remarkable quiet' of the frontier and to the existence of a local balance of power to which both parties are getting used. Bynam considers that Hizb has a lot to lose: it isn't only a military organisation. Also that the Syrian War has had big effects.

  • 'Negation of the diaspora' as Zionist antisemitism: The JCC bomb threats came from an Israeli Jew
  • History will make us pay for this
    • His endorsement of Mondoweiss was encouraging too.

    • Mearsheimer's remarks are very interesting - glad of the opportunity to read them. I wonder if that conference could have found a venue in the U.K.

  • 'US is overwhelmingly partial to Israel,' Pelosi admits at AIPAC
    • Marvell is making a passing reference to the attempts of religious thought to give meaning to the sheer vastness of time and multiplicity of events and more specifically, I suppose, making a flippant comparison between the vast spans of time he mentions and the time necessary for the conversion of the Jews. From our point of view, thinking of smaller spans related to our own brief lives, it's interesting to think how long something like Christian Zionism has been at work in the Anglo cultural world and how deep we find its roots. 1650, about when Marvell was writing, was apparently the date set by Sir Henry Finch's book 'The Great Restauration' (of 1621) for the conquest of the Holy Land by newly Christian Jews. Marvell may be making reference, even more flippant, to that sort of timescale squeezed forcibly from scriptural texts. But had he known of Herzl's deathbed prophecy of Zionist success around 1950, delivered I think to a CZ friend, he might have been impressed. I've been dipping into 'More Desired than our Owne Salvation' by Robert O Smith, which is about CZ in its early days and about how fervently it was expressed. JeffB will rightly tell me that CZ is not true Z until 'conversion first' is dropped. But CZ has never got rid of 'conversion somehow', strange as it now appears.

    • As to things historic there is some very interesting information at the Bible and Interpretation site currently. They reproduce a report from 'Forward' of March 29 about the provocative Passover sacrifice which the Temple Mount Faitful propose to make in their archaeological theme park. There's also an extremely eloquent and well informed feature by Raphael Greenberg (though I thought he might have prepared more defences against counterattack) about the wrecking of what should be an important archaeological site and the contempt for Palestinians and the Palestinian past shown in the process. It's a reminder that the Israel Antiquities Authority, though it does have some conscience and much expertise, is not the bastion of impartial science against the foaming fanatics of Unesco that it is sometimes purported to be.

    • Is there not enough cuitural commonality across the area from the Med to the Gulf to justify Kay's sense that natural affinities are being disregarded?

  • 'Scariest part' of Trump's draft peace plan promises he will be 'personally involved'
    • Not sure that Euro or U.K. efforts ever amounted to more than gestures plus a bit of conscience money.

  • Bearing witness: a review of Alice Rothchild's book 'Condition Critical'
    • Yes indeed, Mooser, some nations are sadly disappointing. You shine a light unto them and they just roll over and go back to their moral slumbers.

    • I see the question of expulsion - perhaps better 'exclusion' - like this. I take Zionism to be the claim that Jewish people, and they only, have an inherent right, now commonly called a birthright, to a share of sovereignty over the Holy Land, all of it, others receiving a share only by grace and generosity, though one may expect this generosity to be exercised quite a lot. Everything that has happened has been, in effect, to put into effect a claim of this nature.
      Could one substitute the idea that there are two absolutely equal kinds of birthright a) from being Jewish b) from being born in Palestine, so that Jewish Zionists in the Holy Land would say of Palestinians 'they have as much right to be here as we do'. I think not. The idea of equal and identical right precludes the
      idea of a right on the part of either group, acting in its own interests, to make many members of the other group 'not be here', because that is to act from a superior, not an equal right. Yet Israel exists in current
      fashion - and otherwise could not have 'existed as a Jewish state' - because of the exclusions of 48, which I think it is impossible
      for Zionists to regard as morally wrong. So the 'two kinds of birthright' idea is not a form of Zionism.
      But if the only birthright is Jewish then the Palestinians are really in the wrong place unless they are few enough to cause no trouble and be proper objects of pure generosity, which clearly they are not yet.
      So the only right thing and 'overarching goal', if Zionism is valid, is to arrange things so that they move to a place where it is right for them to be, which is anywhere whose citizen body can be prevailed upon to accept or include them: the heartfelt good wishes for their new life, not to mention significant financial assistance, of all true Zionists and indeed of all people of good will would go with them. This would also let the Zionist venture, which is God's will or some secular equivalent, proceed with greater alacrity and triumph to help all humanity in all manner of ways, scientific and moral. I don't believe that I'm mocking or misrepresenting: this is what Zionism implies.

    • These are deep matters, Jeff. Let me get back to you in couple of days. Off to London tomorrow, actually to meet a very old friend whose views are much closer to yours than to mine.

    • Alice R is to be congratulated for putting her finger on the point that it is the overarching goal of Zionism to cause the non-Jewish population to leave their ancestral homes - until, I think, there are sufficiently few of them for there to be no problem in giving them, with dramatic flourish, all manner of equal rights. I think we shall soon hear more of 'pay them to leave', perhaps under Trump's patronage. A heavily ironical version of the 1ss.

    • I'd accept your 'sort of', Jeff. The Jewish Virtual Library mentions a letter from John Adams in 1818 which it regards as an early example of call for political restoration of the Jews 'without prrconditions' as we might say. Adams thinks that conversion will then occur eventually and gradually but his view of conversion is really that Jews and Christians will converge on Unitarianism or deism. Perhaps that wasn't so absurd given the trends he was observing in New England. The comparison with Napoleon, so different in background, would certainly be interesting. A tide was starting to run.

    • At least Washington was not being pressed to support any particular demand from Jewish sources. Wouldn't be surprised to find that there were half a dozen keen proto-Zionists in Newport 1790, all from my Protestant gang.

    • I wish I could think with eljay that Zionism is a paradoxical expression of Jewish self-hatred because then you would expect it to be abandoned progressively by the very people for whom it makes such excessive claims, Jewish people having the power of reason and the sentiment of self-love as much as anyone else. But really it seems to be an expression of the 'supremacism' which is a trait of human nature, always desiring to belong to a group whose members' interests and wishes have a right, at least when other things are equal, to prevail systematically over those of outsiders. I wouldn't agree with talknic if he means that the 10th commandment can or should be interpreted, at least as to its original and intended meaning, so that the conquest of Canaan is a violation of it. The land did not belong to the Canaanites, just as the idea of its belonging to the Palestinians is treated as unthinkably absurd - by many Christians too. That is because of the idea of divine donation, which is always there half a millimetre beneath the surface of all the other, sometimes purportedly atheist, justifications of Zionism and is so dramatic and powerful.
      What is meant by nations in this phase of the argument? Can you belong to none or more than one?

  • Actor Richard Gere in Hebron: 'it's exactly like what the what the Old South was in America'
  • Towards Better Ally-ship for Palestine: A letter to the US activist community
    • I think we have to bother with some questions of what is appropriate language because language can so much encode unnoticed or taken-for-granted ideas. On the other hand, I think that those of us who are trying to loosen the iron grip in the West of certain ideas - to persuade people that Zionism is morally false and that the Palestinians are being grievously wronged - need to use language that is understood in the West and refers to values that the West at least pretends to support.

  • Open Letter to Theresa May: On 100th anniversary of Balfour Declaration recognize an independent Palestinian state
    • This was of a piece, I think, with the apparent acceptance on all hands, Zionists included, of the reference to non-Jewish rights in the Balfour Declaration and the dynasty of documents descended from it. This was insincere from the beginning on the British as well as on the Z side.

  • The explosion hidden inside the UN Apartheid report
    • Some Falk news - after intensive heckling and disruption of his address to students at LSE his planned speeches at two more London area universities have been cancelled. Another major win for the forces of Zionism, I think.

    • To me anti-Z would be the denial of Z claims to certain exclusive rights in Palestine for those who are Jewish. This denial might be based on a wider denial that rights such as those claimed by Z do not exist for anyone in any circumstances: I hope it would. If the only basis for denying Z claims is denial that Jews form a group of the right kind - they are 'merely' a religious rather than a national group, perhaps - I would think that a weak kind of denial, provoking many sorts of supplementary disputation, and too open in principle to aggressive claims of the nationalist kind.

  • UNC SJP responds to ongoing debate over cancellation of Rania Khalek event
    • The distress of members, supporters, donors to an organisation can't be justification for a disinvitation, surely. If it were to be the scope for disruption by factions and subgroups and for feed-on-itself bad feeling would be endless.

  • No room for Zionism in any movement for justice
    • The sequence of the slow emergence of Zionism was, I think -
      1. British (and maybe other) Protestants around 1600 begin to interpret Biblicsl promises of the Restoration of the Jews literally.
      2. East European Jews become increasingly disturbed, resentment at their 'arendator' role in economic life playing a part, and receive a response from Ottoman Jewry, coming to a head in the Sabatian mystical, messianic, somewhat Jewish supremacist, movement of the 1660s.
      3. The forces released by 1 and 2 continue to have their effect. Jewish emancipation gathers pace but is often seen as inadequate.
      4. The idea of a land without a people for a people without a land gains traction in the 1840s. The idea that Jewish immigration would revitalise Palestine gets expression in books like Daniel Deronda. There are proto-Zionist proclamations like the Blackstone Memorial of 1891. For the first time important elements of Western Jewry become interested.
      5. Various manifestations of anti-Semitism occur and gain huge publicity: Lueger's election as Mayor of Vienna, Dreyfus (with the Dreyfusards eventually winning), the Protocols, the Kishinev Massacre of 1903.
      6. The fateful Zionist Congress of 1905 sets the project in motion with a momentum no one could stop, though this is against a background of increasing Jewish participation in all aspects of Western life.
      I can see how Z looked like the answer to several prayers, gave Jews a sense of nationalist purpose in a nationalist time, offered them protection from future Luegers and pogromists, seemed like a project for the good of humanity. But this was a false view. It was moral smoke and mirrors. The moral and theological ideas behind it were all mistaken. It was true that Jewish presence and investment in Palestine could do good but this stood no chance of compensating for what Yonah rightly calls the cruel vector which Z stood no chance of avoiding.

    • If people who are Zionists wish to support a good cause I would not wish to stop them, partly because they might help the cause to succeed, partly because their minds, if opened to valid moral thinking, might see that Z is morally wrong. If they ask, in return for their support, some acceptance or validation of Z that should be refused and if their support for the cause is then withdrawn that has to be endured because support for a good cause cannot be a valid motive for supporting a bad one.

  • Head of UN agency resigns after refusing to retract report calling Israel an 'apartheid regime'
    • It is true a) that the Holy Land is home to many Jewish people b) that most Jewish people, even if not currently resident there, have an understandable sentiment connecting them to that place c) that these two facts are of some moral significance. In Theresa May's Britain there are some people appealing for public sympathy on the ground that though have non-UK passports they have made their homes here for a decade or more and are now facing exclusion - they are appealing to the common moral understanding that there is something morally important (not necessarily conclusive, I'd accept) about letting people stay where they are at home.
      On this very line of reasoning it must follow that there is unfinished business from 1948, with so many Palestinians excluded and so many with an understandable sentiment connecting them to the place, even if they are not resident there just because their forebears were excluded - and that something significant must be done to put the situation right. That's a very minimal statement, far too minimal some would say, but it would be something if we could get it agreed or even mentioned in the places of power.
      The word 'apartheid' isn't crucial to me but I don't see how it can be denied that there is a form of highly separate development going on and that a group of residents are subject to a sovereign power which claims rightful possession of the place where they live and work but keeps them out of full citizenship, that is disfranchises them, wholly or importantly because they are not Jewish in a place specifically claimed for those who are.
      This is contrary to well-known principles of constitutional government, still contrary even if not based on 'race'. Mind you, the general understanding of 'Jewish' concerns relationship to an ancestral religion - either you practice it or you are physically descended, sufficiently closely, from some who did. 'Sufficiently' is debated but is effectively defined in Israeli practice, with some religious groups maybe thinking differently. However you resolve that point it has undeniable reference to who your ancestors were, so involves 'race', that demonically misleading concept, to some degree.
      All that said - I'm getting long-winded today - I sympathise somewhat with Mr. Guterres. He should have been allowed to oversee a publication by people who work in the organisation he directs. If he had censored it that would have been another matter.

  • AIPAC underwrote Islamophobia in the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party too
    • Jeff may be right about current and historic US law. But it would be reasonable to take a different view of 'treason' if one wants to catch offences that would very seriously threaten the security of the state. The 1351 Statute of Treasons, which is probably the ancestor of all relevant legislation in the English-speaking world, extended the definition in certain ways beyond the basic one of levying war against the King in his realm to include things like counterfeiting the Great Seal, which would have threatened chaos in a medieval society and would have seemed clearly part of preparation for insurrection. Equivalent to taking control of Trump's twitter account? Well, times change but a slightly extended definition of treason does not seem absurd at any time. Likewise I might think of a foreign agent as someone who expects personal gain from foreign success even if their are no gold coins rattling in his knapsack just yet.

  • The rise of the Arab American left in the 60s-80s, and the US government's fearful response
    • I'd have expected any book on this subject to be called 'The Rise and Failure of the Arab-American Left'. Why did such a cause,, supported by obvious facts and clearly valid arguments, fail so totally to carry conviction in the West, in fact gain very little attention?
      I agree with Citizen that Exodus was influential but I suppose that by itself it was only one current in the mighty stream of post-Hitler Zionist propaganda. Perhaps it was the jewel in that particular crown.
      Sirhan and the hijackings etc, of around 1970 certainly played their part but maybe the damage had already been done.
      I think that the crucial movement was within Christianity, running a mile from anything that could even look like anti-Semitism. The Catholics were goaded by accusations of wartime collaboration but the big impulse came from Protestant intellectuals keen to purge the sins of the German Church. The Lutheran idea of history where Jesus challenged Judaism and Luther challenged the Pope began to seem painful and Jesus became an exponent of Judaism, not a challenger. I think that the key figure was Reinhold Niebuhr, a brilliant writer and radical Protestant theologian. Martin Luther King, also a radical Protestant theologian, breathed the same air and was, I think, Zionism's crucial convert. The 'natural allies' sought by the Arab-American Left moved in significant numbers, partly because of his decisions, to the other side and have more or less stayed there. Of course there were also other left wing figures of completely different stamp, like Sartre, who gave Z the support of a hugely broad coalition facing what have seemed like sects and groupuscles and eccentrics. Western politics and culture have been sort of allergic to the Palestinian cause.
      Our only advantage is being right, which hasn't been quite enough so far.

  • Michael Walzer wonders if Israel 'will let me in'
    • Walzer's remarks are not to be taken too seriously. Of course Israel will let him as often as he likes. He is in a state of maintained certainty about that. Israel and the liberal Z intellectuals of the West still need each other. The liberal agonies - and this is not even agony, but a sort of humorous, comfortable discomfort - have long validated Zionism in many eyes as a creed of obviously decent people.

  • Steve Bannon's Judeo-Christian 'Camp of the Saints'
    • He considered it an honour to share Hitler's birthday, reports the Daily Telegraph of July 28 last year.

    • The BBC had a summary of the 'Germany attacks' back on December 20. There is the usual mixture of IS claims and records of mental illness among the perpetrators.

  • Some Jews support BDS 'from a place of love' for Israel, says AJC official
    • I was suggesting a logical consequence without the hope that logic is what determines these ideas - I very much agree with your comment below, Annie. Mooser, I think that the resources to complete the project are still lacking, so if the likes of us can resist all the adstrawhominem onslaughts some good may come of it.

    • If so much can be conceded to those who are Jewish but pro-BDS - that they may have loving sentiments - surely it can be conceded to those who, whether or not Jewish, reject the Zionism to which BDS is a response that we may not be ignorant, prejudiced, irrational or vicious.

  • I am a proud Palestinian woman and a humanitarian. I am also the mother of the youngest Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail.
  • Human rights lawyer: Israel's new anti-BDS travel ban violates international law
    • If a government is confident that it will win any objective argument and is not short of people who are highly articulate and influential and who will defend it many areas of the world it surely make sense to accept tourists, at least from those countries, who will turn into hostile propagandists on their return home. Just another battle for public opinion to be won, just another opportunity to make all those friends feel effective and appreciated. So if the potentially hostile characters are in fact turned away there may be an uneasy conscience beneath the bravado.

  • 'BDS is a terrorist movement' - exposing David Collier
    • I was at that demonstration, talking for the much of the time with a like-minded person who happened to be Jewish. I suppose that my Mondoweiss comments are available for inspection. I don't believe they show any particular prejudice.

  • Open Letter: Against the blacklisting of activists and writers
    • No one has a duty to listen to any opinion. That is not silencing the person you choose not to hear. But disinvitation is silencing - and indeed insulting - the disinvited person. It should happen only if something really unexpected comes to light after the invitation has been issued and rarely even then. It is particularly important not to back down just because news of the invitation rouses people who disagree with the speaker to protest. That is equivalent to shouting down by a mob.

  • Character assassination as a tool to silence a Palestinian activist
    • There was never any way for a polity founded on rights claimed exclusively for those who are of a certain religion or are of sufficiently close descent from some who were of that religion - a criterion totally and obviously unrelated to any normal or rational idea of human right - could have been an enlightening force. That is not to mention the cruelty that there was never any chance of avoiding when putting the claim into effect.
      If terrorism is actually defined as, simply means, defence of one's country then it would indeed generally be admired, though some acts of national defence might be regarded as excessive.
      If anti-Semitism is defined as opposition to something strongly supported amongst people who are Jewish then anti-Zionists are anti-Semites. No one owns words or can stop others from using words as they wish.

  • Rabbi Sacks endorses religious crimes in video against BDS
    • Thanks for link, Citizen! Good commentary by Robert Cohen in his remarkably recognisable style. Lord Sacks uses many of the arguments that seem to me most unimpressive when we read them from certain colleagues here in nearly the same words. The strange idea that ancient states with characteristics that he regards as 'national' have eternal rights, the treatment of the biblical record as somehow conferring rights even from the point of view of ethics that do not specifically appeal to religion - and so on, with the added appalling tone of god-fearingness.

  • Finders Keepers in the Holy Land: So who was there first?
    • I think that that Dia is not objecting to free speech but expressing the surprise and worry that comes when a plea for common sense leads to massive to-and-fro argy-bargy. The thing about common sense is that it shouldn't need elaborate disputation to defend it.
      Hierarchy has its defenders such as Shakespeare's character who says 'Take but degree away, untune that string, and mark what discord follows'. Perhaps that argument could be used in defence of hierarchy based on race, though at first sight it would seem that discord has come to the modern world when the string of racial 'degree' is tightened rather than when it is untuned. The idea, even the hint, that the argument for the social necessity of hierarchy becomes stronger when some members of society are Jewish turns me rather green.

    • And sad that an article specifically asking for attention to the present rather than the past arouses discussion that keeps sliding back into the past and becoming mired in it. One might have thought that a claim to political rights that depended even to a degree on physical appearance as evidence of inheriting some ancient status was already 'reduced to the absurd' but perhaps such ideas run deeper than we care to admit.
      At least our Zionist colleagues can't for the most part say that their remarks are ignored. What is imoortant here is that we keep those reasons coming.

    • If you asked the Cherokee about their agreements with the United States I would bet a pound to a peanut that the main reply would that it is rather important that the agreements be honoured.

    • I believe that there is already no legal discrimination throughout most of the United States in respect of rights of franchise and property according to whether you are or are not a Cherokee. I presume that there are privileges for those of Cherokee blood in the tribal areas - mainly in Oklahoma?? This is because there are agreements in place. If the Cherokee gained the power and the will to dispossess the current farmers and appropriate the peanuts I would be sorry, though not as sorry as the barefoot descendants of Jimmy Carter dragging their pathetic possssions over the dirt tracks with many groans and sighs, perhaps urged on by Ch snipers as I'e heard that the fleeing population of Lydda once was. Agreements would have been violated. I would question whether the Ch were really acting in their own best interests. On the other hand if the legal relationship between the people of various ancestry in Palestine were the same as those now prevailing in Oklahoma (the musical of that name was based on a play by a Ch author, I believe) I think that would call for some celebration. If a cheerful drama called 'Gaza!' by a Palestinian author were to hit the theatres I would buy tickets and have a drink.

    • As for collective illusion and Mooser's immanent rain I think we might need to discover the secret of transcendent rain. That would surely render the universe rational, solving the ME problem in the process, and establish the RoHa standard for all definitions, thus making everyone intelligible to everyone else. A new era of peace, prosperity and love!
      Meanwhile, thanks very much for kind words.

    • She was wrong - overestimated a passing cloud. That often happens in marriage.
      Ancestralists make a series of increasingly strong claims - that they have an unconditional right to settle, that they have a right so powerful that other rights are to be considered on,y if theirs are given priority and met in full, that they have a right to exclude previous residents or disfranchise them or subject them to compulsory assimilation. But I think that the true conception - also the common sense conception, surely - of human rights excludes even the least of these claims because it removes the right of the existing inhabitants to control (within reason. as stated) matters of immigration.
      The increasingly strong claims are therefore even more unacceptable, not to say quite shocking, as everyone really knows.
      Well, there may be special considerations if you say that the area in question lacks any legitimate citizens because of anarchy or usurpation. There may be special considerations if you say that God has made a special decree, as in the theology of Ezra and Nehemiah. But these are rather unusual arguments.
      There are further paradoxes within ancestralism, notably its arbitrary choices among different ancestral lines and links with places, such as ancestry related to a small province, such as Palestine, versus ancestry related to a large kingdom, such as that of the Ottomans.

    • That is not expanding on the original argument, at least it is not offering a principle about political rights that explains why they belong to people whose ancestors have the characteristics you mention - giving the practical syllogism a major premise.
      Is it something to do with correcting wrongs done in the past, in this case by the Romans? Is the right to correct such wrongs absolutely overriding, so that any amount of deprivation can be imposed on others?
      Let me say what I think. For obvious reasons of utility, people are generally assigned citizenship where they are born, though they are - also for utility - allowed some degree of hereditary right, so that the temporary absence of parents from their normal country does not have permanent consequences that would cause pointless inconvenience and distress. This hereditary right can be extended quite generously but has reasonable limits. If someone has clearly chosen to make his life in another country there is no serious inconvenience in his/ her not having full citizenship where his grandmother lived.
      Setting these limits is clearly within the rights of the sovereign, which is an illustration of the sovereign's duty to make it clear who the people are over whom jurisdiction is claimed and whose interests an opinions are to be taken into account in the formation of national policy. Thus there is right to control immigration by measures within reason, though it is unreasonable to refuse admission to people who will obey the law of the land and contribute substantially to its welfare without ulterior purpose or loyalty.
      I must break off. My wife is pointing out that the grass urgently needs cutting and that rain is imminent. I'll be back.

    • Just to say that it's possible to argue that the only rights (or comparable standards of good and evil) are the legal rights established by a power structure to which the agent is subject. However, this means that there is no objection to anything regarded as an enormity or atrocity that is not illegal for the 'perpetrator's' purposes: absolutely no objection, which is very hard for most to accept intuitively.
      More importantly in a way, it is hard to see how the various power structures and their law codes become established if they have no general basis in human nature and a natural sense of right and wrong. Hard in turn to think how that natural sense has nothing to do with our rationality or is something that we might well repudiate on a personal basis. So there must, I think, be some room for rights conceived in 'abstraction' from laws and from power, i.e. universal.
      I think it's agreed that marauders don't win rights by marauding. The idea of transmitting what one does not have seems highly paradoxical. I couldn't hand you a box of chocolates I don't hold in my hand. I could get someone to give it to you but then it is he, not me, who does the transmission. A marauder could make peace and obtain an agreement which legitimated his children's presence, but then the right and legitimacy would be transmitted by all those making the agreement while axes are beaten into doorstoppers.
      It is possible to say that the marauder's charming daughter is not complicit in her father's crimes and deserves, by 'abstract'/universalist argument, to have citizen rights where she was born 'because everyone does'. But there can't be complete equation between those who are there by rightful inheritance and those who are there primarily because a bloody axe was wielded, i.e. without transmitted right. If 'everyone's rights' are to be claimed on their behalf it must be part of a claim which also concedes relevant rights to everyone concerned - otherwise it would be self-defeating - and is put forward in search of an agreement.
      So I think that there is hope that Israelis may secure a rightful position for their offspring but only when the offer ending the scandal of the Palestinians' disfranchised and sub-sovereign existence has been made.
      That was far too long. And it's a big long nothingburger, as Hillary Clinton used to say, since absolutely nothing like this will happen. As Mooser remarks, it's all about power.

    • A ziggurat next, then?

    • It's interesting that we began with an article suggesting that ancient/medieval history does not determine human rights now but that we keep returning to and disputing those historical facts and myths. Such is human nature, I suppose. You mention Troy. I've never been to Heinrich Schliemann's site and am somewhat sceptical about it but I'm told that the Turks are quite keen on appropriating the Trojans and that there is a large wooden horse, eternal symbol of Greek treachery, in the car park.

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