Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 3644 (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 3644 - 3601

  • '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
    • 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.

    • In the Zionist rhetorical card trick rights of blood and rights of true religion flit around - now you see them, now you don't, now you see one, now the other. It has had an absolutely mesmerising effect and is an incredible achievement. I put it down to the yearning of our world for religion substitutes.

    • Nice to see that Jeff can't tear himself away from us! I must thank him for a full reply.
      I think that this is the sort of 'anti-anstract' or 'strong positivist' view of rights contained in Marvell's famous poem '...Though justice against fate complain
      And plead the ancient right in vain -
      For these do hold or break
      As men are strong or weak'
      though there are references to moral right in a sense which seems to go beyond right in the sense of in which rights are simply artifacts of positive laws. There is quite a high logical price to pay for this view. I'm not making a full reply - will come back later.
      Might note that even Hobbes, giving great scope to sovereigns and laws as artificial things, has to found the whole system on some basic 'laws of nature'.
      I don't deny, indeed I assert, that the descendants of marauders may have rights, though I do deny that they have rights derived from their ancestors' wrongdoing and I think that there is paradox in the idea of a right to maintain a wrong.

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    • I don't know whether or not you agree with me that invaders and marauders do not win rights by their actions and do not transmit rights that they never had. I'd be interested to know your view on the general question of right issuing from might alone.
      No one has rights, say I, won by the bloody axe of marauding ancestors. The rights we have must come from other sources, perhaps from agreements that were made as periods of violence drew to an end.

    • Is it asserted that genes transmitted through 'a single ethnic identity' give prior rights over genes transmitted through several ethnic identities or without regard to ethnic identity? What is an ethnic identity? Why does it have moral importance? Is it the case that no other rights matter when these ethic (or indeed racial) rights are in question?

    • We are always dealing with variations on the theme of divine donation, God's overriding of the normal ethical rules in the assignment of territory to people who are then under an obligation to maintain an identity that puts God's decree into effect. This theme has had its impact on Christianity. That many of its main proponents should have been atheists is remarkable.

    • It seems to me that the basic political right is to be an enfranchised citizen of a sovereign state, since without enfranchisement one is to some degree at the disposal of others within one's own society and without sovereignty one is to some degree at the disposal of outsiders - and both these things limit ability to be an effective and responsible moral agent, a status which we must have some need and duty to attain. Even so, there's room for practical compromises by common consent and for the good of all, not that any major compromise of this
      kind exists in Palestine just now. Israel is an illegitimate polity because it exercises sovereign power in many ways over many people in disfranchised state and does so in the absence of any agreed compromise. I agree that it should be normal for people to be enfranchised where they are born, since anything else implies enormous insecurity. But marauders with axes in their hands do not have civil rights in the places they have ravaged, do not gain rights by making the desert where they stand after their raids and forays bloom (since that does nothing to make things good for their victims) and cannot transmit to their children rights which would perpetuate the wrongs they have done, since that is not what rights do. But no ongoing situation is so bad that there can be no compromise.

    • If a group of people set up an ethnic state - one where membership is hereditary, inherited from the group's original members, one from which others are excluded? - in a certain territory then the right to be a full citizen in a state which includes at least some - or must it be all? - of that territory continues for ever, inherited like a name or property and eliminated or modified by nothing except embracing a religion not characteristic of that ethnicity, and there are no other relevant rights?
      Or would it be enough to be a full citizen of an area which includes but is not limited by the boundaries of ancient times?
      It is possible that more than one ethnic state satisfying this definition should have existed in the same area at different times. This would seem to me to make the general claim paradoxical. Then again, if it happens that only one state over time has been fully ethnic it follows that the others that have existed there have been less exclusive on ethnic and perhaps religious grounds than the one in question. I can see no reason why these polities are less valid as social contracts or less able to create hereditary rights extending for ever than the ethnic ones.
      How can it make no difference if the bearers of hereditary citizenship rights accept full citizenship or profess full allegiance to a polity other than the one in question?
      Native American rights exist but there have been agreements for a degree of mutual advantage. Because of these agreements N American rights are not advocated as if no one else living in the American continents had any right to a share of sovereignty over the place. Welsh rights exist but for similar reasons the Welsh do not claim the right to exclude the descendants of the English invaders of 500 CE from Britain.

  • The 50th anniversary of the occupation will rock the Jewish establishment
    • O has mentioned the irony in his remarks but it is in fact true that if the first shot is by itself not sufficient proof of aggression then Hitler's first shot ( not denied by O or me) is not proof of aggression on his part. I would say that the first - at least centrally ordered - shot is indeed proof that you prefer the actual event of war to the certainty of short term peace and the chance of peace in the long term. This seems fairly close to aggression. If you say that the chance of long term peace is in any event negligible you are claiming to have read the oppnrnt's mind and to know that there is no proposal on your part that would even be considered. This is not the easiest claim to believe.

  • Elor Azarya's 'normative' support for genocide
    • Mr. Rudd is now, far too late, calling for recognition of the Palestinian state. However, he seems totally imprisoned in the illusion that a 2ss would have emerged long ago were it not for Netanyahu s cunning tricks.

    • This (from mgd) was essentially the remark that got Steven Salaita fired from a leading university, even though he uttered it in a moment where a degree of inflamed feeling was understandable (at least to a decent person) because of the attack on Gaza and even though his phrase 'awful human being' (as I remember)!is a moral judgement, not a scream of abuse. Yet there is a complaint going around that universities are hotbeds of anti-Israel feeling. To the extent that this feeling has grown a little - it can hardly be the daily conversation over every cup of coffee - we see how far serious moral judgement rather than vulgar prejudice must be involved. It is clear that anyone who says this kind of thing has to think twice. People motivated by prejudice mixed with self-interest, as prejudice usually is, would think three times and shut up.

  • History shows that anti-Semitism and pro-Zionism have never been mutually exclusive
    • It is clearly possible - how could anyone doubt it? - that someone may be prejudiced against Jews and to think negatively of their behaviour in the West while thinking that they are a force for good in Palestine.

  • Saying ‘I Am Muslim, Too’ is not standing in solidarity with Muslims
    • And he was famous for an insultingly brief reply to Hitler's birthday greetings in 1942.

    • I think that the most in the way of defiant statements that can be credited to King Christian X is a private diary entry saying that if Danish Jews were called upon to wear a yellow star everyone should wear one - presumably he expressed the same idea in conversation. In fact, no such order was ever given in Denmark, since the Danish Jews were assisted to escape to Sweden almost immediately after the Germans assumed direct control of the country. The King is credited with a financial contribution to the escape. He expressed symbolic opposition to the invasion by riding round Copenhagen every day without bodyguards, looking like a truly legitimate and popular head of state by comparison with some others.

  • DNC debate batters Trump-- but Israel support must be 'bipartisan,' says Ellison
    • Where to start, Peter? In the U.K. the slightest negative word about Israel, or at least about - or at least seeming to be about or even most mildly to mock - Zionism in principle, is anti-Semitic to our political parties. I noted our colleague Eva's bad trip with the Labour Party. In supposedly secular America a candidate for a senior political job advertises the signatures of 300 community leaders, including many rabbis. Is this because religious professionals are natural advisers on political leadership - will Mr. Perez, the favourite I understand, wave a letter from 30 bishops? Or is it that a sort of fusion of sacred and secular has occurred solely in the Jewish case, with the further assumption that it is absolutely natural for a domestic political organisation to place enormous emphasis on the interests of another country? The latter, I think. If you can get your political movement treated as sacred and get opposition called by a name - 'anti-Semitism' - that suggests the demonic realm your position is very, very strong. Mere movements in public opinion will not change much.

  • 'NYT' runs Israeli's op-ed recommending that Palestinians 'emigrate voluntarily'
    • The 'leave with compensation' scheme, so far barely existent, is going to be heard of more and more, I think, and its outcome will be very important. You can't keep minority rule going for ever, something always goes wrong.

    • Thanks for interesting information, you two.

    • What's moral and just should indeed be done. The scale of opposition is not entirely irrelevant even then, but basically 'thou shall not follow a multitude to do evil'. The rest of Jabo's remarks are a bit dubious, though.

    • Sweden is not free of fear and anxiety. In the realm of fiction, there was a very interesting and disturbing television series called Blue Eyes about the successes of the neo-Nazis in gathering support among deprived people and the corrupting ambiguity of mainstream politicians. In real life, we visited Denmark and Sweden last May - I've not heard that things have changed since. The train from Copenhagen to Malmo has to stop and passengers have to cross, maybe heavy laden. to another train, with passports etc. checked. When this train gets near Malmo the police board it and check all over again. Such is Swedish anxiety about immigration and Syrian hordes. By contrast when we flew to Stockholm we were in the welcoming Schengen world and passports were quite unnecessary. We then went to a restaurant where we were charged an incredible sum for meatballs but met a reminder of the country's liberal past, the daughter of a refugee from Pinochet-era Chile. The anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats have been doing well, but eyes should turn to the Netherlands where Geert Wilders, who is Trump doubleplus - well, maybe that comparison is seriously unfair to Trump - could come out of the imminent election with the largest number of votes. God grant to the Dutch as much good sense as to the Austrians.

  • Fordham retaliates against student for protesting SJP ban
    • Well, Moser, I was talking about normal student society activities - hiring venues, importing speakers, distributing leaflets. I wouldn't want to impose spending limits on these and would have some confidence that the better argument would prevail over the worse in conditions of free speech. I think this is actually happening in the slightly closed world of academia as it not happening in the world of politics and power. I don't think that Firdham's exception regarding national disputes holds water - I doubt if even they think it does. I do think that there might well be restrictions on having academic staff subsidised by vested interests, national or other. An eye should be kept on jaunts, junkets and freebies in every walk of life.

    • You're quite right, JJ. Pro-Israel groups at Western universities should not be censored or impeded in making their case.

    • Yet national disputes can be of great importance and can raise important questions. I wouldn't want a group seeking to advocate Ukrainian complaints against Russia or the other way round banned. The issues may be as important and as urgent and as much in need of discussion without censorship as those raised at any moment between, say, mainstream political parties. So why make that difference? If one is free to advocate opinion A and organise meetings, invite speakers etc. to spread A-ism but free to advocate opinion B only personally, without the option of spreading B-ism through the same means then B is subject to some degree of censorship, meaning that speech about B is not entirely free. That would still be true if both sides of the B debate were subject to these severe restrictions.

  • Poll: Canada's politicians drastically out of touch with public on Israel
    • It's not enough, for the purpose of justifying one's treatment of others, that one acts better than some and respects some rights. It has to be that all rights are accorded, otherwise there must be injustice and there must always be some cruelty in the tender mercies or rights conceded here and there - as was revealed to a distinguished Jewish thinker.

    • There has been a country called Palestine since about 1100 BCE, though its boundaries have been variable. Over the next few centuries the two names Canaan and Phoenicia, linked in meaning but slightly confusing to apply, gave way to Palestine as the generally and internationally accepted name, sometimes used without sense of problem by Jewish writers, for what has been called Palestine in every century since. The name 'Israel'/Land of Israel never became generally accepted, not even for a short time, for that whole territory. The Kingdom of Israel in part of it soon became known, quite likely with its own encouragement, after Omri, one of its founders, but that Kingdom was not of extremely long duration. The Bible claims, in revealing words, that there was an inheritance of the children of Israel in (what was still) the land of Canaan. This theological claim is still asserted, God knows, to this day and hour, but it deserves some challenge and re-evaluation.
      It is sometimes said that Palestine doesn't count because it was normally a province of a larger entity. I would think that therefull do seem to have been occasions when there were Palestinians/Philistines acting with a reasonable show of independence. Omri broke off his campaign against the Philistines, which suggests that these two were reasonably equal powers. The Israelite and Jewish kingdoms for their part rarely had what we might call absolute independence - think of Jehoiakim having to accept foreign instruction even about his own name. And then the poor guy had to be threatened with 'the burial of an ass'. But why should the status of various entities and royal personages within the (to us rather alien) international system of long ago affect people's rights now?
      'Judaea and Samaria' is a name which does violence to biblical authority, the two components being always contrasted, not linked in the scriptures.
      All this is very easily and freely available information. Why do such false things keep on and on being said by so many and treated as if they determined people's rights?

    • I would want to see confirmation from other polls before I set too much store by this one, but it's undeniable that there has been some noticeable movement in public opinion throughout the West in the Palestinians' favour - that is why so much effort is going into counteracting BDS. On the other hand the surface of the massive support for Israel within the political class has barely been scratched. When a problem is of minor concern to the mass of people a movement in public opinion takes time to have political effect, and in this case may take for ever and a few weeks. There are many counteracting forces, including the lack of major public figures who might link political to public opinion in this regard and above all the near universally accepted, though rarely deeply believed, pro-Israel version of anti-anti-Semitism.

  • Trump says he's 'happy' with one-state outcome, ringing in a new era
    • I agree that '2 states' has never been more than a fiction but it's still a best-sellling fiction even if removed from Trump's shelves or put into a dusty corner where Trump will never look. However, the UN Secretary General has, I think, just announced that it's the only possibility.

    • Quite true, business as usual. Maybe a little less 2 state talk from the United States, but I think that is only a cosmetic change.

  • Jewish groups battle over Trump's choice for Israel ambassador
  • 'We cannot divide the land': Israeli academic Yehouda Shenhav on bridging the gap between Israelis and Palestinians through Arabic literature
    • Most people have quite mixed ancestry. I'm sure that most people who now call themselves Jewish had at least some ancestors who lived in Judaea two thousand years ago, but of very few can it be true that all their ancestors alive 2,000 years ago were living in Judaea at that time. Of not many can it be true that most of their ancestors then alive were living there. Conversely, I'd be very surprised if none of the quite large set of my ancestors then alive were Judaeans. I like to think that they became Christians and emigrated to Britain with Joseph of Arimathaea, had prophetic powers and foresaw the glories of the Church of England. In any event, I can't see what difference all those things make to anyone's rights.
      As to being indigenous: in an obvious and important sense a family of Uzbeks all born in London are a group indigenous to Britain and have political rights here equivalent to mine even if they sing Uzbek songs every Friday night. Their melodious voices and deeply felt words might be very beautiful but would not be enough to give them rights in Uzbekistan.
      We have been sometimes offered the idea that 'indigenous' means 'belonging to a place where at least one important subset of one's ancestors first recognised themselves as a political unit'. It should be noted that several groups could be indigenous to the same place, both because different groups may have formed that idea at different times in the same place and also because the relevant places may overlap. One Group could be indigenous to many places through different sets of ancestors. It's not an easy basis for assigning political rights.

    • I would be pleased and relieved to see Israel make way for a sovereign Palestine in WB/Gaza - in that event things would get better and there would be much less oppression. Perhaps it would be maximum compliance with international law, though it would still be screamingly unfair considered as a parcelling-out of traditional Palestine. However, this is rather like the pleasure of finding a gold hoard in my garden - it's not going to happen, at least not soon. That is because Plalestine, once given the strength that would come from sovereignty, would be able to, and would, undermine the screamingly unfair settlement here a little, there a little, precept upon precept, line upon line. Even more important, it is of the essence of Zionism to claim, as of absolute moral validity, special rights for people who are Jewish in the entirety, not just in part, of Palestine. People don't compromise on sacred things until they really have to, and that hour has not come.

  • Israeli govt and its supporters admit the fight to defeat BDS has failed
    • I share some of your scepticism, Atlanta, though the Forward article does indeed talk of .failure'. That does indeed seem to be good news but I think we should temper our joy because one source is the Reut Institute, regarded by the Forward journalist as hardline, which speaks of failure so far as a reason for more ruthless hostility against 'instigators'. They talk of failure in order to sell their recipe for success. But it is interesting to see the hesitation between tooth and claw hostility to the 'instigators' and a sort of embarrassed openness to the moderate critics, who are treated as if they have a point. But how can they have any kind of point if they are but dupes of the instigating anti-Semites?

  • Israel's efforts to erase Palestinian history reflect 'incremental genocide,' Ehrenreich says
    • Jewish people are a long-standing part of the population of what was once Canaan and became Palestine, never ever being generally known, not even for a short time, as the Land of Israel. It is quite right that no one should suffer any discrimination as to place of residence because of being Jewish, or because of not being Jewish - though I don't expect Zionists to agree with the latter point. Palestine was for a short time, about 150 years, the Kingdom of the Jews, even then having a substantial non-Jewish element. Subsets of it were Jewish and Samaritan for longer periods, though why these facts should be regarded as so important for determining rights here and now I cannot imagine. Twentieth century Zionists came from no one metropolis, that is true, and are not colonists in the same way as the British in Massachusetts 1630. But many came from many places where they had been born and where they had full rights as enfranchised subjects of a sovereign power, as everyone else in those places did and as the Palestinians now, to the shame and disgrace of many, very much including successive governments of my dear country, do not.

  • To oppose Trump, Jews must join the fight against fascism and Zionism
    • To my mind, everyone has a right to be an enfranchised citizen in a sovereign state and the right not to be expelled or excluded from his/ her home. Is that denied?
      I absolutely agree that these rights are not negated by the fact that one is Jewish.
      I deny that anyone has the right to insist on living in a state or polity where people of one's own race or religion are the majority, because that so-called right would imply that people of the 'Wrong' kind could and should, if necessary, be disfranchised or excluded.

  • Rand Paul warns neocons will 'scurry in' with Abrams, and Kristol says that's anti-Semitic
    • Cromwell wasn't that fanatical, in that he was prepared to fight the Protestant Dutch and to make an alliance with Catholic France against Catholic Spain, admittedly at a time when France was less harsh towards Protestants. The Mercantile System, whereby colonies were treated as part of a restricted trading nexus whose purpose was to accumulate silver and gold in government coffers, was close to accepted wisdom at the time. The Spanish version of this system was one of the reasons why there was so much hostility from other Euro powers.

  • British uproar at Trump policies doesn’t extend to Netanyahu, yet
    • The trivial nature of the offences, Jackie Walker's 'never having found a definition of anti-Semitism she was able to work with', Naz Shah's harmless witticism from Finkelstein etc., do suggest neurotic anxiety on Corbyn's part. There are two by-elections coming up which, if UKIP wins them both, will terminate his leadership, I think, possibly put the historic British Labour Party on the road to oblivion. Whatever replaces leader or party, should this road be taken, will not be an improvement when it comes to Palestinian rights. If anyone supposes that the accusation of anti-Semitism is losing its sting (s)he should think again.

  • Land Grab: Israeli Knesset passes law legalizing expropriation of privately-owned Palestinian land
    • There can surely only be one objective, that is to make Palestinian lives enough of a misery to persuade them to move out "with compensation'. There must be hope that Trump will regard a compensation deal as the crowning achievement of his deal-making career. There mustn't be extreme scandal that would not be forgotten and that would destroy morale. Indeed, it's very importsnt that a small, photogenic minority stay in place. If the big majority of Palestinians does not move out Zionism will fail in the end and they know it.

  • Jewless Holocaust. Israel first.
    • It is indeed a Greek word, but it was chosen by the Septuagint translators to interpret olah in Leviticus,, which I understand means 'that which ascends', so invokes both ascending to God and the flame and smoke of a fire. Wikipedia reminds me that another word (which my predictive text just won't accept) meaning 'entire', is associated with olah in Leviticus. So it seems reasonable for the LXX to use holocauston - it goes up to God entirely - rather than the standard Greek word thusia, which was understood as a sacrifice where the meat was shared around. You may think I should be ashamed of myself for relying on Wikipedia but it's early and I'm still in bed. The whole sacrifice was a special thing to indicate special dedication to God but Leviticus' use of 'from the herd' reminds us that the sacrifice may be while and entire in itself but is also seeking Gid's favour for the wider whole, the herd and the people. It is because the term is so theological (in my opinion verging on blasphemy) and because Wiesel's dark theology, suggesting God's mighty favour to the people after the sacrifice, had such power that the word Holocaust in common usage gained hooks which attach it to Jewish suffering and a surface which from which reference to other suffering slides away.

    • In the 20s and 30s it was possible for Jews to be disliked from the left as capitalists, therefore in many eyes responsible for the War, and disliked from the right as Bolsheviks. A force with support across the spectrum is hard to stop. That is the kind of support that Zionism now enjoys.

    • The problem both of defining Romani people and of counting their casualties is very difficult - even the Wikipedia article on Porajmos, which is what some Romani call the event, is enough to reveal that.

    • The shocking theological significance of the term 'holocaust', whole burnt offering appropriated completely by God, cannot extend to non-Jewish victims. The victim per Leviticus 1 was taken from the herd in the expectation of God's favour to the herd and its pastoralists. After WW2,there was no one else but for the Jews resuming the sovereignty of Palestine to whom God would show exemplary favour. The idea makes no sense in reference to a mass of individuals, however numerous and however deserving of sympathy. Even the Roma, victims en masse of injustice, are not a group united by religion or accorded, as a group, religious significance in common opinion. As long as theology clings to history in this fashion through this word the there can't be moral equivalence between the Jewish and the wider sets of suffering.

  • The legislation that will be used to intimidate and imprison members of the Muslim community has been introduced
    • Salus populi suprema lex. That may be true, Theo, but surely there has to be extreme caution about invoking this kind of supreme law. They knew that in Roman Republican times, where the chief magistrate had to obtain the Senatus Consultum Ultimum in order to take such action as he saw fit against a threat to the safety of the state defined by him, as Cicero did against the terrorist conspiracy, as he regarded it, of Catiline - and as Trump is doing now. Even then there was legal comeback. If you allow the magistrate to escape these restrictions there isn't a state, that is an entity defined by laws, to defend.

  • Dennis Ross's advice to Trump is 'bullshit, delusional or lying,' to gut two-state concept -- Peace Now
    • We have gone for years with talk of negotiation but with no proposals. If a proposal was there in all its hard detail we could begin, or hope to begin, to draw attention to the screaming unfairness of the classic 2ss and, no doubt, to the scream+ unfairness of anything coming from Mr. Ross.

    • But it will be a step forward if there is a real proposal on the table really open for discussion. As the details of the situation become exposed there will be a chance to for the injustices, both of the status quo and of anything that Mr. Ross and those of his school are likely to propose, to be made much plainer than they now are.

  • Jewish groups slamming Trump on refugees are hardhearted when it comes to Palestinian refugees
    • At least no one's said I'm full of Britpoop or on an Anglocaine high, though the temptation must have been there. Empires are indeed larger than eggs, moreover most human enterprises have many parts and aspects and are mixed, both good and bad. I was not saying that what the world gained through the British Empire was worth the cost or that the system was essentially fair. I wasn't offering an apologia or using the idea, which I regard as rather facile, of necessary evil. I was talking about the accursed legacy of slavery, the unsettled account.
      Keith is quite right to say that if the modern economy runs into disaster the causal nexus - and the blame nexus - will extend back to the days of the British Empire.
      This began from Yonah on regarding the Nakba as 'necessary'. It is important to distinguish 'If I do X it is necessary that I do Y as means or consequence' and 'It is necessary that I do both X and, as a consequence, also Y'. The Zionist proposition has been of the second kind, that the assertion of certain exclusively Jewish rights was necessary morally, therefore worth all the necessary means and consequences. Keith is again right to say that economic benefits all round have been used to support this claim from the days of Altneuland. If the Zionist programme had transformed the region, so that there was much mutual benefit and cooperation, perhaps it would be less terrifying than it is and resolution of the problem on a friendly basis would be much more easy. I don't think that this condition is met. I was reading in the Economist a few months ago about water, which in Israel is a pleasant matter of desalination and recycling, in the WB a depressing matter of rusting and leaking pipes: some mutual benefit and cooperation! Even if the condition were met, it would not confer the right - which the British Empire did not have either - to deny political rights when they are demanded by those over whom sovereign power is exercised, since to exchange political rights for economic benefits is to walk backwards towards slavery when we should be moving the other way.

    • Well, guys, I do think that the economic progress and the imperialism of that time were not separate realities but were closely connected. Both would have broken down without the other. The establishment of a kind of world trade system for the first time made production at many points in the system, even in India, possible because of imports and profitable because of exports, where it would not otherwise have been. Keith, I think, considers that there could have been another way, one in which everyone would have advanced together. With regret, I don't think that would have been possible for many reasons. The days of negotiated trade agreements between many independent agents had not yet come and even now they have come we see how difficult it is to sustain them. Previous phases of progress, as when the Middle East took the lead in developing agriculture rather than chasing animals every day, took a very long time to be manifest over the whole 'known world'. Then too there were migrations and empires as part of the process, and perhaps had to be.
      I claim that I am looking at real things and how they worked in reality and that though I may be getting things wrong I am not speculating contrary to fact. To my mind it is those who think that something different and better were possible who are, for good or ill, speculating about what did not exist. I don't say that there is no role for speculation.
      Empire as curate's egg, good in parts. Yes, I think good was done. I don't find much to agree with in the views of JA Hobson/Marxism-Leninism/ Chomsky. As to self-congratulation, I am not proclaiming 'It was all worth it!' As you see, my main point was to look in dismay on the legacy that comes from accepting terrible things, mentioning slavery, as part of the necessity of one's project, though I hope (fat chance?) that my view of the project is balanced. I meant not to be smug in responding to Yonah's perceptive question about the legacy of the Nakba.

    • I think that the world economy was much more productive in 1900 than in 1700 and that the British Empire was the driving force. I'm not an anti-imperialist in the sense of thinking that the imperial regimes did nothing but harm. They sometimes produced peace where there had been war. I don't share the Leninist view of imperialism and war and I don't find the 'settler colonialist' analysis of Zionism persuasive. But my point was that the use of slaves as a necessity of the project, which turned racial sentiment into what we call racism, has left a legacy which still troubles all of us. There was of course some repentance and there were attempts to stop the slave trade by naval power, but that was not enough to settle the account. This tied in with my reply to Yonah about 'necessity'.

    • That is a perceptive question, Yonah, in my view. It is hard to think that Israel, living daily with the effects and memory of the Nakba - which was indeed necessary for the Zionist project - could ever offer more to the Palestinians than a sort of separate, subordinate development with a degree of kindness, that is tender mercies that are cruel. And offering even that is difficult, as Mondo readers know full well. The past dies hard. The British Empire transformed the world economy much for the better, I think, but accepted for a time the necessity of slavery. That account has never been fully settled.

  • What would Anne Frank do?
    • No indeed, we won't ever know how a person who died so young would have developed. But Katie is presenting her as a symbol of moral integrity and activism, which is surely acceptable even if not verifiable, and drawing inferences from that. She's drawing on her own moral sense to support these inferences but that's legitimate too.

    • I made no comment on the real Anne Frank. The portrait is indeed, as marc says, a beautiful one but the impression on me is also slightly disturbing, mainly because the hair looks unreal. The photos etc don't really look like that.

    • There is a moving warmth about the eyes, a tribute to Katie's skill in these things. But there's something disturbing about the almost impossibly crisp hair, as if this is a kind of synthetic person.

    • That bad, Yonah? For my part I think AF is important for historical study, but it's surely not morally indecent to regard the book as other than great literature or even to question how it took its present form?

  • Trump's anti-interventionism helped him win, says Obama's former Middle East adviser
    • Those who believe in the right of private property (I'm one) might well be appalled by the degree of politically motivated expropriation not for the general good - theft - that Zionism has brought with it. Zionism has had wonderful success in drawing support from all the way across the political spectrum, which suggests that there is logical space for an equally broad opposition. Currently it is rather easy to portray suppprt for the Palestinians as a lefty fad, as if only extremists and eccentrics disliked seeing people excluded from their homes, disfranchised and subjected to rituals of humiliation.

  • Signs you may be a 'normalizer'
    • 'Gilt' off the lily, not guilt!

    • Compare Christopher Neumaier in the Journal of Contemporary History 06, responding in part to Robert Gildea's book 'Marianne in Chains', on the development of German reprisals policy. I think maybe Norman is stripping too much guilt off the French lily. No one now denies that only a small minority resisted, but small, even Norman's 10%, isn't the same as negligible. The mass reprisals policy was not the simple answer to everything. Many Germans thought it counterproductive - these came to include the SS commandant Carl Oberg who tried to restrict it, presumably not out of human sympathy. This means that the resistants did achieve something, weren't just a joke.

  • Leading Clintonite worries that Trump will sell out Israel in forging deal with Russia
    • There's some limit to the Trump-Flournoy convergence. I don't really think Trump is concerned with asserting his will in Syria itself so much as with excluding refugees from the United States and giving himself some sort of humanitarian cover in the process by saying that they can go to safe areas in and around Syria. It will not be too important to him that these areas actually do a humanitarian job or whether they assist in toppling Assad. That is why he's not giving the sort of attention to Israel that Flournoy would wish, at least in this matter at this moment. He could still do a lot of damage, I must admit.

  • More and more people see 'one state only' but Remnick fears it will be like Bosnia
    • No dispute, I think, RoHa. When I said of 'Uruguay has RTE' that this is at best problematic I was thinking that it's perhaps a way of saying, though rather misleadingly, that Uruguayans, like everyone else, have the right, each and every one of them, to be spared the horrors of invasion by landgrabbers and marauders, which is true. However, I think that any attempt to set up a system of group rights somehow cutting across individual rights would lead to chaos.
      I think it follows that no individual rights, so no rights at all, are violated, just by the fact that a frontier is moved, though there may be very strong objection to the means used to get it moved. It's never morally imperative that the frontier between X and Y should run along this or that line of rivers or mountains.
      There are some who respond to Israel's RTE claims by saying that of course they recognise it just as they recognise RTE for every other country - no big deal. In fact it's quite a big deal and quite a bad one.

    • The claim that 'Israel has a right to exist' is actually false, though it's easy to sound monstrous by saying this. Part of the true basis of any theory of human rights, which otherwise would not be a theory of human rights at all, is that these rights are the same regardless of whether one is or is not of any particular race or religion, Jewish very much included. Israel exists on the basis of claiming for people who are Jewish certain rights in the Holy Land on an exclusive and overriding basis, therefore exists in essential conflict with human rights, therefore cannot have a right to exist, much as it would be nice to calm the situation by saying that all that is agreed. The Palestinians, having daily and hourly experience of the cruelty which the Israeli project had no chance of avoiding, though much of disguising, must know without much abstract argument that the 'right to exist' claim is morally false, really somewhat grotesque.
      It's not just a somewhat trivial parallel, as some suppose, to 'France/Uruguay has a right to exist', since the existence of these countries does not raise the same problems - though even then even these claims are at best problematic.
      If some Palestinians do claim to recognise the RTE in full in the full Israeli sense then the Israelis have some perverse justification for saying 'You don't mean it' or 'You've never really, really said it'.
      The question of compromise for the utility of all, equally considered, is another matter, of course. But that is not Israeli language. They don't believe in the utility of all, equally considered. They can't, because they have this belief in exclusive rights and the utter conviction that those of us who disagree are motivated by hatred, religious perversity or total lack of human feeling. They're wrong, though.

  • Trump's vow to move embassy to Jerusalem is now a 'decision-making process'
    • It's interesting to see how this is the first matter over which Trump, so much at least in image the decision maker and man of strong will, hesitates. I wish Beinart had said 'get many people killed, many of them Jewish'.

  • Palestinian teen in Gaza dies after refusing to serve as a collaborator for Israel in exchange for medical care
  • Despite international pressure, Finkelstein gives talk on Gaza's 'martyrdom' at German institute
    • What is obviously true is not necessarily uncontroversial if some are determined to controvert it. I had a rather shocking experience with a German, now risen to dizzy heights in UK academia, who was saying how terrible nationalism is. I asked how those remarks applied to Z. The reply was 'As a German, I can't say anything about that'. I said that that was inverse racism, which was perhaps unduly fighting talk for a social occasion. It just slipped out. Within seconds I was being accused by a young graduate student of picking on Germans and picking on Jews. Uncomfortable. A reminder of how dufficult it can be to keep within normal discourse and speak of Z in a sceptical tone. I still think it's inverse racism if you treat members of a certain race as beyond critique.

  • Ellison assures Dems he has made up with Haim Saban despite 'anti-Semite' accusation
    • Is the reason for wanting 'free Palestine', as Davis calls it, weakened or reduced, or weakened if you are a woman, by the existence of 'Muslim misogynism', as you call it?

  • By their bulldozers you will know them
    • 'Autonomy' does not seem to give much freedom to make decisions, since there is no sovereignty in international affairs, little practical alternative to economic cooperation with Israel and no control of borders. Not much auto.

  • Obama 'betrayed' American Jews and Trump is a 'swineherd' -- Bernard-Henri Levy
    • We're taking about the Jerusalem Talmud, which is much less accessible than its Babylonian counterpart, so I may be getting some things wrong. Does Diocletian really summon Judah ha Nasi to the rather obscure Caesarea Philippi rather than to C Maritima, the capital of Palestine? The appended moral is 'never insult a Roman, since he might become Emperor', which is certainly a bit shocking. Obliquely it shows that Jewish inhabitants of the Empire were not particularly downtrodden or servile in their self-image. They do not see any reason to apologise but instead think fit, though it is they who have wronged him, to tell him to become 'a new man.'. The analogy with Saul, who seems to have suffered moral degeneration when moving from animal husbandry to political power, might be regarded as a bit insulting in its own way, but all this Levi admires.
      Levi seems to think that Diocletian's advancement was a demonstration mainly of the nihilism of Roman, implicitly of Western, society, though a person who joined the army without a privileged background when his country, for all its faults a great custodian of the arts and sciences, was falling apart and who was one of those who brought back stability and morale, must have had some impressive qualities.
      My suspicion is that Levi is misreading the story's tone and that the rabbis' remarks are to be understood as tactful in implicit comparison with Christian manners towards this pagan patriot. How carefully has he read his original? Why is this insulting, boastful man the grandest public intellectual of a whole continent? Maybe Richard Dawkins has the same sort of fame, but at least he knows his Darwin and puts together some reasonable arguments.

    • Diocletian was, if I understand the story, impressed by the magical powers which surrounded the Jews - underemphasised by Levi - and therefore offered them privileges and protection. Jewish good sense is contrasted implicitly with Christian behaviour which provoked - there is some truth in that, I think - the persecution for which D is famous. I don't see much indication that Jews should keep their distance from the powerful. It does suggest both a) that people who gain power will themselves respect power and that an arrangement based on a degree of mutual respect, rather than strident opposition, should usually be offered and b) that one should not insult the humble who may become powerful.. Of these a) seems like a reasonable point of view, b) seems morally inadequate.

    • What will the force be that overcomes Israeli reluctance? The human rights based claims and arguments that we know so well, mediated by international opinion?

    • Rabbi Hanan Balk of Cincinnati has an essay on 'The Jewish and the non-Jewish Soul' (?2016) arguing that the idea that they are of distinct kinds is really post-Talmudic - and (I would think) rather disconcertingly dependent on non-Jewish (Neoplatonist) ideas in order to be rather sniffy about non-Jews. Balk mentions Talmudic passages according a share in the Age to Come to non-Jews. Balk at one point uses the phrase 'the Talmud concludes that...'.
      I haven't got a thousandth of Balk's Talmudic learning but I had thought that the idea of a Talmudic 'conclusion' is to be avoided, since the T is a record of civilised debates among rather lovable rabbis, contrasting and meant to contrast sharply with what contemporaries would have seen as the increasingly ferocious temper of the Christian bishops and their dogmatic pronouncements. The figure of Hillel is a character in the spiritual drama, standing for the most reasonable and gentle - though at the same time elliptical, puzzling and mysterious - interpretations of the Law. In my ignorant opinion he represents the spirit of the Talmud a little more than anyone else, though he is really a fictional character.

  • Palestinians react to the Trump inauguration
    • It's surely not news to the Palestinian that the Western governments attribute to them only a very slight and subordinate role in determining their future.

  • Trump 'promise' to move US embassy to Jerusalem stirs international furor
    • Statistics on refugee behaviour might indeed be useful. Being a refugee must be extremely disorienting and demoralising and not all will react to the receiving society with gratitude. But the probability of anyone in any group's being a terrorist is extremely low and there is a difficulty in understanding probability increments at this low level. Is it foolish to do something that raises a significant risk from 0.002 to 0.2%, the figure Ikeda suggests, if it's something you want to do on other grounds?

    • As to the 'Islamic terrorism' that Trump promises to dismiss from existence there are serious problems in defining and applying both terms. There's an article by Sandy Ikeda of SUNY, published by a libertarian group, which acknowledges these problems but suggests,,with some attention to the logic of probability, that it is reasonable to suppose that the probability that an American Muslim is a terrorist is around 0.2%. He cites a note by William Easterly (was it Easterley?) ) which puts the probability even lower and mentions, very sensibly, the related dangers which come from ignorant and brutal antagonism directed at some social groups. Ikeda considers that the chances of an American non-Muslim's being a terrorist are around 0.002%. He does not consider the probability that an American may be involved in state terrorism, which would once again raise questions of definition.

  • I have been looking for a home since I came to this world
    • Trying to catch up with you this afternoon, Jon. Greetings. I think you're right about the general logic of negotiation. However, I doubt that the Palestinians consider themselves in a reasonable position, but in a deep bad situation where both the status quo and the available alternatives are all awful. The Israelis find the sq pretty good and so don't suggest any alternatives. In this position those in the deep bad mire have a permanent incentive to compromise if a better offer appears, those in the pretty good situation an incentive not to compromise, since that means giving up something they like having. So it is to them that we look for an act of will overcoming their reluctance. I accept that they don't have to run 'autonegotiations' or keep up a public dialogue about what the terms should be, but they do have to say 'We've made proposals before and they're still there' or else 'Times have changed; if you want to know our current thinking come and ask - we'll tell you'.

    • Capitulation and compromise are very different things.
      If it is indeed true that a compromise leading to a degree of peace and prosperity was once available that must have been because Israel had a genuine will to compromise and made an offer accordingly. But a genuine will to compromise is not shown by making one offer and offering or proposing nothing more if that offer is rejected, but by keeping the same offer or a modified one on the table or at very least assuring the other side that a proposal will be made on request. I do not see Israel doing that: if I'm wrong, what is the proposal or assurance? So I don't see any will to compromise on the Israeli side. I agree that the situation is, to put it mildly, sad. But to note sadness whilst attributing no blame to anyone but those in the saddest situation is to shed a crocodile tear.

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

  • The immaculate conception of Louis Brandeis
    • A token of his progressive language, certainly, but the talk about national homes never made sense logically and in practice was just flimflam and perhaps self-deception.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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