Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 1796 (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 1796 - 1701

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The politics of Jewish ethnocentrism
    • Seconded

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • The claim that secularism and human rights were etched in stone or on clay tablets in the ancient Middle East is extremely questionable. It is true that there has always been much to admire about the United States but also, from the foundation, some much more disturbing things. Nations of immigrants must be to some degree problematic for universal aspirations - what after all is to happen to the pre-immigration inhabitants? I don't see any analysis of how the good and the bad things mentioned relate to each other. Come to that, I don't see any argument, rather than assumption, that the regimes that the United States supports are not better than any available alternative. I don't see any special relevance to the Palestine problem, which is not just another example of excessive export of armaments or of excessive intervention in the wider world.

  • Using Rep. Johnson's innocent comment to stain his reputation was the real crime
    • It's quite appropriate for Samson to be regarded as sexually powerful from a miraculously early point, accentuating the contrast with his last days, when he has been castrated - it's not really his hair that Delilah cuts. The story is in part a reflection on that anxiety that even the most real men feel about suddenly becoming disastrously less real. Also a hint that in a world of real men and beautiful women strict racial purity is impossible.

    • To your and Mooser's point, Kay: the ploy keeps on working. Maddening, isn't it?

    • We should distinguish between harsh words about those who are English and harsh words about certain people who, as it happens, are English. The first may well indicate Anglophobia, a form of prejudice, the second should not be treated as Anglophobic unless we have reason to think that the English people concerned are in fact doing nothing wrong. If the mere harshness of words is enough to indicate prejudice and misjudgement by those who use them then we would have to say that people who are English can do no wrong sufficient to merit harsh words - are in effect guaranteed to be innocent and just. This would, if applied to the English or any other group of people, make nonsense of all morality.
      Once again significantly bad activity has been denounced harshly and once again it is the harshness of the words rather than the badness and cruelty of the actions that attracts apologies. That in itself is rather bad, another triumph for the rhetoric that we sometimes tell ourselves is losing its sting, another effective protection of bad deeds by mistaken words.

  • Palestine stands for the larger divide in the Democratic party
    • I believe that Bryan was the original of the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. We haven't half had cowardly lions and scatterbrained scarecrows among Western politicians when it comes to the ME.

  • Democratic Party consultant asked about Palestinian rights: 'Not my problem'
    • I accept what you say, Echino. That etymology is worryingly folky. I"m too attached to it sentimentally.

    • Herodotus has a name not only for the area, Palestine, but for the people 'Syrians of Palestine'. I would say that they are always distinct from the Egyptians and somewhat distinct from the core Phoenicians/Canaanites of our Lebanon and from those Syrians who were distant from the coast. Such is the language of Histories vii 89. It was their name that had by Herodotus' time spread over the entirety of the land after the disappearance first of the kingdom internationally known as Bit-Omri and then of Judah. That name is unlikely, I think, to have come from a Semitic root or to have been imposed on them by hostile outsiders. '-ina' is characteristically Indo-European, some say Hittite, and it makes good sense to derive 'Palestine' from phyle and hestia - 'people of the hearth', 'land of hearth and home'. It is true that Jewish intellectuals in Alexandria made them into 'assorted foreigners', but that was a biased point of view. The name 'Palestine' must have receded when the Romans imposed the unfamiliar and inappropriate 'Judaea' on international usage to please their Hasmonean allies, who for their part were working hard to produce a Jerusalem-centred cultural uniformity, either for the first time since the United Monarchy or, if you go with scepticism about the UM, for the first time ever. I think that Palestine of old was more multicultural than that biased point of view has made it look - and even the Jewish religion in the Temple period never became just one thing. I don't deny that the Hebrew-Greek Bible is the most important cultural product associated with Palestine.
      Not that the politics, geography, cultural achievements or name patterns of ancient times create or destroy rights now.

    • Just to add that the Assyrian King Adad-Nirari mentions Palestine nine centuries before Hadrian.

    • I think that the geographical noun 'Palestine' was used freely enough by Jewish and non-Jewish writers in the first century, but for reasons very like those operative now there was no word in common use referring to all inhabitants regardless of ethnicity any more than there is now. Josephus does refer to the Philistines of old as Palestinaioi, but I'm not sure that he uses that word for any population of his own day. The Greek Bible had generally made the Palestinians into 'allophyloi', mixed foreigners. 'Jesus came from Palestine' would not have sounded strange, 'Jesus was a Palestinian' would have.
      I agree, Christian though I call myself, that some scepticism surrounding the historical person (persons?) underlying the Jesus of tradition is in order - same with Hillel. However, the Jesus of tradition has a meeting with a 'Syrophoenician' woman in Mark 7, presumably an Aramaic speaker who was not Jewish. He addresses her with racial insult and she becomes the only character in the New Testament to defeat Jesus in argument. Some might interpret the scene as Jesus' ironic rejection of racial distinctions. However on the face of things Jesus is very firmly working on the understanding that he is Jewish and that the woman is an allophylos.
      Hiwever, if we do decide to use 'Palestinian' to refer to all who have ever lived in Palestine regardless of ethnicity then Jesus was, on that usage, certainly a Palestinian. So were Samuel, Saul and all those Kings and prophets. This has not been customary usage but it might help us think of things in a new way.

  • Support for Rep. Hank Johnson following mischaracterization of his remarks on settlements
    • Termites are famous both for undermining structures that appear to be the solid and, as I remember, for creating mighty mounds that sometimes dominate the landscape. The settlement process might be thought to be termite-like in both these ways, except that you have to be wilfully self-deceived to see anything solid about the 2ss process in the first place. To use this metaphor is to speak with horror of the dark determination of the people responsible, who are by no means only the settlers themselves. There is no point in using words that express horror and then going all defensive and claiming, in the most annoying of cliches (maybe I use it sometimes), to have been taken out of context. What context would mitigate the horror expressed? Why should the horror expressed be mitigated? I think that the likeliest answer is that one should never express horror when the alleged wrongdoers are all of one race, because morality at that rate becomes racism: but I think it almost obvious that this principle a not be valid universally.

  • Hatim, King of the Natufians
    • Unfair to Zionists! It's not often I say this and not often that I disagree with Talkback, but in this case I have to.
      The Rsbbi is saying that in the bad old days, when women were awarded as prizes of war, a situation could arise whereby a Jewish warrior could end up legitimately married to a captive, non-Jewish woman. This was a divine concession to evil lusts. He is murdering his text, which has no reference to evil lusts or to the heat of battle. But if asked whether divine indulgence extends to rape in present circumstances, he answers No 'of course the Torah doesn't permit rape'. It may be asked how he knows this if he is so certain that divine indulgence exists, but he can at least say that the text has no current application, since prizes of war are no longer with us and Israeli soldiers don't return from the checkpoints with trophy wives.
      Got to be fair to those Zionists.

    • To my mind, for what it"s worth, the natural reading of the passage is that the region of Gerar is inhabited by 'Philistines' whose King is Abimelech who has various dealings with Abraham from which he emerges as a fairly nice guy. Such is the story., part of the biblical record, not confirmed by archaeology,, as I mentioned, but in its way intriguing. Few commentators think it's true, though the Eerdmans Commentary entertains the idea of an early migration of Luwians, who you could regard as Philistines if you made a bit of an effort.. It's highly characteristic of the author of Genesis that he tries to reconcile very different traditions, in this case anthropological ones, with each other - and we can certainly see other traditions about the Philistines. But this tradition, whereby they arrive early and are quite nice, is one (I don't say the one) that he chose, for theological and political reasons that seemed good to him, to preserve. I understand that there is about to be a new edition, no doubt highly necessary, of the International Critical Commentary on Genesis, which might give us an up to date perspective.

    • Abraham, Abimelech, Phichol etc..

    • Since the Deuteronomy passage comes up again, I'll mention something which may throw some light on its origins. For my birthday (thanks for kind words about that!) I was given a somewhat fun book, if you enjoy that sort of thing, called 'Finding myth and history in the Bible' edited by Jim West. There's an article by Pierre Nodet discussing the reports, somewhat garbled, that there were accusations against the Hasmonean High Priestly house, c. 100 BCE, that it carried the blood of captive women in its veins, though I think they may have been captive in some rather technical sense - members of families allegedly converted to Judaism amid the violence of the 100s. The biblical text was still open to editing and High Priests were in a good position to influence the Jerusalem University Press of the time. Thus they drew some of the sting by making marriages to captive women perfectly legitimate. The passage in fact lacks the annihilationism seemingly found in much of the surrounding text. The later references to heat of battle and evil lusts are foreign bodies. High Priests would not go rampaging around battle zones seizing Palestinian women from vegetable gardens, indulging evil lusts and then making a son by this process the next High Priest.
      The Palestinians have of course been legitimate inhabitants of Palestine not just since Roman times but since about 1200 BCE by the archaeological record and many centuries earlier by the Biblical record, Genesis 20 - 21.

  • In new book, Ilan Pappé says settler colonialism and apartheid best explain Israeli-Palestinian conflict
    • Yes, maybe we do sometimes find that comparisons promote clarity of judgement. But we have indeed seen much of comparison as distraction. There's something laborious - there has to be - about constructing a list of the regulations and oppressions outrageous and petty that apply in one place at one time and that applied in another place at another and there are bound to be legitimate differences in the assessment of details. Dispute among a small minority of qualified researchers and experts, inevitably focusing on the more obscure elements, may rather overshadow the plain moral intuition that should be the basis of everything.
      I see much truth as usual in what echino says but I must say that I do see Zionism and the Zionist dispensation as not all that like anything else in this world.

    • Why is it so necessary to use comparisons, or the apartheid comparison in particular, in order to see what the situation in Palestine is?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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