Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 4105 (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 3800 - 3701

  • Amazon pulls blank 'History of Palestinian People' -- which aims to dehumanize in order to subjugate
    • I don't know what passage of Plato you're thinking of, Tuy? I would think that it's impossible to dehumanise those who as a matter of fact are human without an element of contempt.

    • There is nothing impossible about a population's starting to colonise an area where many of their ancestors lived, i.e. Increase their numbers and influence there - which is not necessarily either a good or a bad thing, just a possible one. Perhaps the Welsh population might increase in London, a city which has retained its Welsh name over the centuries when the Welsh presence has been minor. If the increase in their numbers leads to violence and injustice (not that it would really, of course) against Poles and Bangladeshis that would be colonisation in a bad way.

    • Let me recommend the Oxford History of the Biblical World, the Quest for the Historical Israel (Finkelstein and Mazar), the Archaeology of the Holy Land (Magness), Ancient Israel (Grabbe), Ancient Canaan and Israel ((Golden).

    • It may sometimes be useful to distinguish hate from contempt, I suppose.

    • To some extent we give Peters a victory just by arguing with her and rebutting what she says about increase of population due to immigration versus improved birth and survival rates and about so many other topics. We (certainly including me) get drawn into the supposition that the question of human rights for Palestinians now is contingent in some way on these matters from way back then, which it is not.

  • Netanyahu says Israel's 'hand is outstretched to peace' -- but he makes a fist
  • Israel's efforts to hide Palestinians from view no longer fools young American Jews
    • On the question of American vs Israeli Jewish opinion there's an article in the Times of Is. for June 28 about Netanyahu and Israeli recognition of the non-Orthodox versions of Judaism to which most American Jews belong. A significant division, it would seem.

    • The Ottoman Empire existed for a few centuries, was recognised as the de facto government of wide territories and had some time to promote economic growth, which possibly drew in immigrants whose legitimacy as residents no one questioned. Even the Balfour Declaration recognised, at least obliquely. that the people there had a right to be there. Maybe they did not refer to themselves as Palestinians, though that name could hardly be avoided totally since 'Palestine' is such an ancient name for the area, especially when the O Empire fell and its other former provinces went different political ways. Even were it true that the majority of the pre-1900 ancestry of the current Palestinians was totally non-Palestinian (and I don't think even Peters went that far) what difference to their rights would it make? Why should they be considered to have disappeared - odious phrase, isn't it? - from here and now because their ancestors appeared elsewhere (if they did) way back then?

  • Yakov Rabkin's devastating critique of Zionism: it is opposed to Jewish tradition and liberalism
    • Religion and religious symbolism and all things Biblical seem to be of increasing importance in Israel, from what I can see at this distance. Moreover religious support for Israel in the West seems to be very strong. So I'm sure that Keith is right that Rabkin stands far outside the majority in his religious views, let alone the consensus. But he may not be claiming to advance the majority view of Judaism but only the authentic one. It is always possible that the authentic interpretation is followed only by a minority or even a remnant. Authenticity is everywhere very easy to assert but very hard to demonstrate rationally.

  • Thousands in Jerusalem protest abduction of Yemenite babies following disclosure some were experimented on
    • In impressionable youth I read a book about Eastern Europe by the leading U.K. authority of the time, Hugh Seton Watson. He had a certain respect and regret, I think, for the old monarchist days and made a point of drawing attention to the statement attributed (very dubiously) to Stephen of Hungary, King and Saint, that 'regnum unius linguae uniusque moris imbecile et fragile est', which really stuck in my mind. This does not seem to have been exemplified in Stephen's actual treatment of those Hungarians of the 1030s who wanted to follow pagan customs. But I suppose that if you can get groups who 'are not of one language and custom' and might be in conflict to work
      together your economy and military power will grow and you may get a reputation for good and moderate government. On the other hand if you are for ever plagued by national and religious groups discontented with their share you may end up as 'weak and fragile' as Austria-Hungary turned out to be.

  • Israel's attempts to silence truth show our reporting makes a difference
    • This morning our post, which comes rather late, brought a handwritten note from Adam H mentioning the need to keep MW going. This came a few hours after I had made a donation, so I felt like an autonomous ethical agent.

  • Fear and loathing, in the land of milk and honey
    • McC had powerful enemies and a recklessness about attacking establishment figures, even President Eisenhower through the Army, that made him very vulnerable. Though criticism was muted amid the atmosphere of panic in the United States opinion in some secondary Anglo countries, UK and Canada, despised him fairly openly. One of my 1950s memories is listening to the BBC replay of the Canadian satire (by Reuben Ship) 'The Investigator', so good that it - with its catchphrase about disgrace, 'from up here to down there' - stayed in my brain permanently. It was never broadcast in the US,,I believe, but circulated as a phonograph record, Eisenhower not denying a press report that it had amused him. It'll be the day when Netanyahu is satirised that effectively - maybe a chance was missed after the Cartoon Bomb episode. But that day is not near.

  • A burning Zionist and non-Zionist debate the settlements
    • Even if we conceded many of the premises from which Mr. Sousa argues it would still not be true that Israel is 'forced' - ! - to maintain the current situation with all those features which are agreed to be bad. There is the option of putting on the table a proposal for a final settlement which would stand a chance of removing some of those bad features and which Israel would consider to be fair. This might or might not be fair in reality, might or might not be realistic but it would create a possibility for that much desired dialogue. If the dialogue broke down we could probably see who was at fault. But I don't see how the liberal, pro-dialogue Zs can in effect tolerate - worse than tolerate, because they offer the status quo some defence - the situation where the most important element in any dialogue, the views of the most powerful party, are constantly withheld and hidden.

  • Start 'Birthright' earlier and hire conservative professors-- to stem 'national security issue' of Jewish kids abandoning Israel
    • I think that the British occupation of part of Germany in 1945 was legal and ethical, in that there was no pretence that the territory was ours and it was clear that the intention was to maintain order until a legitimate government, enfranchising the local residents, could be installed. I think we even stopped the Danes from reclaiming territory that they had some reason to think was theirs. It is not illegitimate - does not make the occupation into an evil thing overall - for an occupying power to punish war criminals or to take certain reparations for their own damage in war, though clearly there is a danger of excess and vindictiveness.

  • From lamentation to triumphalism: the story behind 'Jerusalem of Gold,' Israel's second national anthem
    • The Anglican hymn 'Jerusalem the golden/ with milk and honey blest!/Beneath thy contemplation/sink heart and voice oppressed' would doubtless have been sung in Palestine during the British period and may have become known more widely in literary circles. It's JM Neale's free-ish translation of Bernard of Clairvaux's Crusader-time, but not too militaristic, poem 'Urbs Sion aurea, patria lactea, cive decora/omne cor obruis, obstruis omnibus et cor et ora', which is one of the truer things said about Jerusalem.
      Jerusalem as a shining thing of gold and jewels seems more like a Christian idea, specifically from the Book of Revelation, whereas the older scriptures seem to present the city as more of an austere fortress, where you had to wait to get to the Temple before you got to the gold.
      The real golden appearance of Jerusalem is mainly Islamic, of course.

  • Attacks on Israeli police in East Jerusalem are not terrorism
    • Herod's mother was 'Cypros, of a distinguished Arab family' - J Antiquities XIV 121. Note Greek name. This was a time of cultural mixing. The Idumaeans seem to have been an important part of the population of Judaea in Hellenistic times, with Hebron as their main centre. They had come under increasing pressure to conform to the strict customs of Hasmonean Judaism, though their leading families were taking a more and more prominent place in Hasmonean society, ending up with the kingship itself. Who was what could be problematic. Herod was called 'a half-Jew' by his Hasmonean rival Antigonus, which alluded to the Biblical principle that no foreigner could be King. It's interesting that in practice Herod could overcome that problem, to be both Arab and Jew - the latter he certainly was by religious commitment.

    • I think that the Wall is of problematic origin. I do think that it's clear that the Temple Mount site was expanded artificially - it grew (Galor and Bloedhorn Archaeology of Jerusalem p. 76-77) beyond the natural Mount Moriah by a remarkable feat of engineering. Josephus refers to this expansion in Antiquities XV 398, though he thinks it goes back to So,omon's time. This is the passage where he gives the dimension of 1 square stade for the Temple, considered rather too small. G and B provide plans and images, which may not be wholly plausible but don't look impossible to me, for what that's worth, A lot of the esplanade seems to be unused and the Antonia fortress has rather a toytown look. The relationship between Temple and fortress is not yet understood.
      Mind you, the fundamental human rights which Talkback mentions are quite well understood, though obscured by shameful and cruel rhetoric, and they are the important thing.

  • Iftar on the rubble
    • The earliest mention of Jerusalem is considered to be in the Egyptian Exexration Texts of maybe 1750 BCE, followed by a mention in the Amarna texts four centuries later. The Bible - not everyone believes this - tells us that in those early days it was a centre, long before it was Jewish, of the worship of God Most High. Zionist positions are based on a mixture, to me confusing, of claims based on biological and cultural continuity. Either way the Palestinians have a claim: they can hardly not have a significant degree of bio continuity with the ancient population and their religions, Islam and Christianity, are forms of worship of God MH.
      Not that it makes any shred of sense to exclude people from their homes or disfranchise or humiliate them because of their ancestral genetics or because of the religion of their ancestors at the dawn of recorded time.

  • Canada Park, a popular picnicking spot for Israelis, created upon the rubble of Palestinian homes
    • Annie & Yoni, thanks.

    • What comes up when you search for Ilene Beatty is a number of references to her book, stated to have been published in Chicago by Regnery in 1957. More than one reference, it seemed to me, uses the word 'renowned'. There was an apparent picture of the book's front cover, but with the author's name presented as ' Beatty, Ilene', which seems very strange, more like a student register than a normal book cover. Is there something about Regnery's house style that I don't know? My impression is that we may be dealing with a pseudonym, there being no available bio that I (or jon, evidently) can find. Does anyone have a copy of the book? To me its cited remarks seem quite plausible, of course.

    • There are many points where I might disagree with Mist as to ancient times, but it is indeed true that the Bible makes no claim that the Israelites and their Judahite subset were the original owners or inhabitants of Palestine/Canaan. The Philistines, presented as a subset of the inhabitants of Canaan (my predictive text said 'Canada'), are there before Abraham arrives. The inhabitants of Canaan, like Abraham, mostly worship God Most High, Abraham not yet knowing that deity as Yahweh. There is some suggestion that the later sexual immorality of the Canaanites caused the land to vomit them out but on the whole the right of the Israelites, violent immigrants and absolutely not natives or originals, to take possession, expel and kill where necessary is presented as an expression of the absolute right of God to set normal morality aside for purposes no one fully understands at the time. That such things were contrary to normal morality was as obvious to our remote ancestors as it is to us, or to most of us. I think that some people, Jews and Christians, have wanted to discredit the Biblical story just because they don't want to be heirs to the terrifying Joshua. But there is in all of us that yen to be the ones who are too special for the normal rules, to have that thunderous judgement for our cause setting aside those ordinary, petty things.

    • Suffering is bad for all that it has happened to others before, infliction is bad for all that others have done it before. The rights that people have are not contingent on the name they call themselves by, the names of any of the ancestral groups from which they come or on whether or not they live in the territory of a former empire that has been partitioned. It is wrong to exclude people from their homes, except to a limited extent by the processes of legitimate criminal law, and it is wrong to exercise sovereign power over disfranchised subject, except perhaps for a time where consent is, by recognised custom, obtained by other means. People who do these bad things cannot acquire rights simply by having done wrong but sometimes 'for the avoidance of endless trouble' rights do spring from agreements which bring a period of violence to an end. It took us long years to achieve that sort of agreement after the dire events of England in the 500s, likewise at different times in the US and Canada. There is as yet no such agreement in Palestine, where mass exclusion has never been corrected or compensated and where power over a disfranchised population persists grievously.

  • UN last hurdle before Israel can rid itself of the Palestinians
    • This is a small indication of the real plan, which is indeed to force the Palestinians to disperse and lose themselves, if that's the word, among many places and peoples - humanely, of course, with UNWRA funds becoming a worldwide resettlement fund. Mind you, the UN in all is guises, UNWRA included, has not managed to stop Israel doing very much of what it wanted to do.

  • 'I am not your goy' -- chaos at a liberal Zionist conference
    • This rather obscure verse in Leviticus became, of course, central to the interpretation of scriptural ethics offered by the theological movement that became Christianity.

  • The Israelis
    • If you look at fatalities recognised in their societies as homicides it would seem that it takes about 7 Israeli guns, about 36 Italian and about 31 American ones to produce one homicide.

    • The Wikipedia article on gun homicides, for what it's worth, does not suggest that private-life Israelis are that heavily armed, but that are rather well prepared to use what they've got. The balance of guns vs. firearm deaths per 100k per annum are ISRAEL 7.03: 2.09 ITALY 11.9: 1.31 UNITED STATES 112.6: 10.54. At that rate it looks like it takes 2.5 - 3 guns to produce a fatality in Israel, about 8 in Italy and about 11 in the US. Americans would seem, despite their reputation, rather less ready to use the guns they have nefariously than are many others. But you don't mess with an Israeli! Maybe they're a bit highly strung.

  • Israeli soldiers shoot from towers across fence into Gaza protest, killing Palestinian
    • I find it hard to forget Xenophon Hellenica 3:3, where Cinadon mentions that the Helots and other inferiors would willingly have eaten the Spartans raw. That's what oppression does to you.

  • Dispatch from 'the most ****ed up place on Earth,' Hebron's H2 quarter
    • My understanding is that when most people refer to 'THE Foundation Stone' they mean the stone in the Dome of the Rock, about whose origin there are different ideas: nothinh now rests on it. The 'Foundation Stones' may refer to the huge things visible in the Western Wall tunnel, which were part of the enlargement of the Temple Mount platform, strong enough to retain huge amounts of infill. Some attribute all that to Herod, though itvseens to me that Josephus refers to it (Antiquities xv 11:3 in Whiston's enumeration) and testifies that it was there earlier.

    • The awful thing is that people react to the deprivation of rights for living people by reciting claims about the ancient world and giving things some kind of religious aura. But the fact that you ascribe religious significance to something does not make it yours and the idea that God has given something to you has no claim on the minds of any who do not accept your religion. I would not think that the Palestinians had been wronged because they did not have something they thought they should have on grounds of Muslim or even Christian theology. I do think they are being wronged because they have been excluded from their recognised property of many generations, at which even Arthur Balfour might have blenched.
      That said, just to mention Galor and Bloedhorn Archaeology of Jerusalem (2013) p.37 'All attempts to locate the First Temple remain conjectural' - an illustration of the point that there's a lot we don't know about the realities behind the great historical narratives that were created in later times. They make the same point (p.87) about the relationship of the Herodian Temple to the 'foundation stone' now in the Dome of the Rock. There is no denying that there was a great Temple in those days, the centre of the religion called Judaism by some around the time. King Herod was one of the richest persons of his time - he was the principal regional ally of the still insecure Roman imperial project, so he was very well supported. But the few centuries of near-independent 'Jewish' domination of what was at the time and later, by Jews and others, commonly called Palestine - as it had been for five centuries at least - are not so important in comparison with other times that they determine and obliterate rights in the present - are they? Or if so, why?
      The Cave of the Patriarchs looks indeed like one of Herod's structures but there are puzzles. Josephus, so keen to chronicle Herod's works, does not mention it and it is not so easy to see how it would have fitted in, as a religious building, with the 'Jerusalem only' theology of the time. There is, as far as I can see; correct me, minimal reference to it in the Talmud, which seems strange if it is to be regarded as the second holiest site of Judaism. The tradition about patriarchal burial in Genesis is itsel not simple. In chapter 50 Joseph buries Jacob in the ancestral tomb, which some will say is the Cave already purchased by Abraham, but Jacob has asked to be buried in a plot which he had dug or purchased himself, which cannot be the same thing, and indeed seems to be the location in Shechem where Joseph is reputedly buried. The Bible is already a text combining different ideas for theological or spiritual purposes. There is of course no proof from archaeology as yet that the Cave is a patriarchal resting place.
      Sorry, that was too long.

  • Intersectional feminism: Wonder Woman, Palestinians, Wakanda and Zionism
    • Quite right, GL. I suppose that there will be a series of films, each more propagandist than the last.

  • The issue isn't the 'occupation', it's Zionism
    • It was indeed, echino, immoral for Britain to accept a mandate in which it intended to act against the wishes of the mandated people. There was of course reference to preserving the rights of non-Jews, but this was not seriously meant, as the Times report for November 9, 1917, headlined 'Palestine for the Jews. Official Sympathy' made pretty clear. One of the worst things we have done.

    • The UN certainly had no right to do any such thing. It was a former Mandate territory and the whole idea of a Mandate is commitment of a territory to rule whose foreign status has to be compensated by an obligation to act in the interests of and without radical affront to the people who live there.

  • Why has the Israeli occupation lasted so long? It's good for business.
    • I had a quick look at a list of security firms and consultants available in the UK and sure enough Israel was a prominent base, far beyond what its size would suggest, for the relevant services. And it's easy to find references to Israeli domination of cyber security. And I found when we were visiting the family in Panama and driving home at night that we passed a house with a long drive and shadowy figures - the President's house and his Israeli guards. They're everywhere! They're the best! This has been a major spin off from Israel's success but the idea that it provides the main motive either for Israel or for its international supporters strikes me as rather implausible. I can't imagine that Israel would be displeased by 'victory' which persuaded the Palestinians to go away leaving their natural resources behind them. Cyber security doesn't need to be practised on an impoverished population lining up at checkpoints.

  • Making the crossover from Elie Wiesel to Marc Ellis
    • The Webster definition seems close enough to common usage (I suppose the aim of a dictionary) if we understand the hostility to go with an opinion in the mind of the hostile person that Jews form a religious, ethnic or racial group with characteristics that are bad, bad enough presumably to deserve that hostility: so that calling a person anti-S under that definition does not imply agreement with any of the classifications they make. The definition does not actually make anti-S wrong in all circumstances, i.e. does not say 'undeserved hostility' or suchlike, so Zionists might dislike it for that reason.
      My reaction to reading VT is that some of its contributors are anti-S in the Webster sense and that they (some) at least use language which conveys insult and prejudice to a degree that puts them significantly in the wrong, but that, as RoHa reminds us, does not prove that they speak no truth. I admit to understanding Jon's difficulty in abiding them.
      As to Wiesel, I think that he took the Modernist blurring of the truth: fiction boundary rather worryingly far. There does seem to be something unsettling about his records and paperwork. His status as a moral oracle can seem a bit annoying, to VT readers and others, both because he would 'defend Israel even when wrong', which disrupts his rhetoric about never standing apart from the oppressed, and because someone who has a purely literary career with no political responsibility cannot really be a paragon or exemplar. Still - and even if he actually evaded the Holocaust - he wrote the most compelling account of it so far, at least for those who like their history tinctured with theology. Most compelling is not necessarily most deeply truthful, of
      course, either on the historical or theological level.

  • The '67 War called Tony Judt to Israel -- where he found an 'anachronism' he 'intensely disliked'
    • There is indeed no denying, Yonah, that one aspect of WW2 was the continuation and modernisation of Christian anti-Jewish feeling. But it was also a contention for leadership of the West, not only in military terms. Hence Churchill's references to Christian (not meaning anti-Jewish) civilisation in the Finest Hour speech and elsewhere.

    • There was a Christian-v-Christian aspect to WW2 surely?

  • 'To live or to perish' -- Norman Finkelstein on the Six-Day-War and its mythology
    • The story of 67 does indeed come from a long-gone world but is still important because it remains the basis of so much argumentation about right and wrong, notably the argument that Israel has never gone beyond self-defence.

  • Israel provoked the Six-Day War in 1967, and it was not fighting for survival
    • Agreeing with Keith's general argument - we don't always see eye to eye! - and noting that Dayan's reference to Nasser as a paper tiger - a phrase recently popularised by Mao - was reported, not far from my memory of it; Dayan was great theatre, on this very day, June 8, 1967. A paper tiger is something that may look scary but should not and should never have roused any real fear.

    • Well, Emet, I have not heard that Bowen was accused of inaccuracy in his citation of the British judgement on the 'inconceivability' of Israeli defeat or that anyone has questioned his view that the Israeli military leadership was very confident: I think that anyone who was around at the time (were you? do you not have that impression?) will remember that aspect of the situation. Their confidence and the British military assessment were abundantly justified. Recent events would not have given them pause: there had been no successful resistance or retaliation for the Samu raid and the Israeli Mirages had won a masive and humiliating victory over the Syrian Migs. Things were shaping up, of course, into one of the great Soviet defeats in the proxy battles of the Cold War.
      I don't deny that in matters of that kind things can always go wrong for the best forecasters and planners, so there wasn't complete absence of risk. And there were indeed provocations - actions with an overt 'bring it on!' message - from both sides. I still think that there must have been sensible and objective observers on the anti-Israel side who could see that they had no military options. However it's possible that Nasser and some others started to believe their own (or Soviet)!propaganda at the worst moment for them. Not that their state of mind made their victory the least bit more of an objective possibility.
      My own vivid recollections - perhaps memory plays tricks, but here I don't think so - include
      Dayan on Nasser - 'this shows that he is a paper tiger, at least as far as conflict with our forces is concerned'. Sometimes arrogance - Caesar-style - can be magnificent. This wasn't a hard won discovery, it was what he had always known. Also the massive outburst of sympathy and support for Israel in the West (well, my bit of it - middle class and student England) from end to
      end (well, almost) of the political spectrum. That had not quite been expected and its vehemence surprises me looking back. The existentialist Israeli argument, admitting and glorifying the firing of the first shot, was not just welcomed but celebrated. A few years later a well-received philosophy book, Michael Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars - perhaps you know it - rallied people who may have been doubting.
      To me that first shot is the decisive thing and the existentialist argument is (I've been trying to say why in other posts) morally misleading.

    • If Israel's leadership knew that they were not facing an existential threat then they had no existentialist case for starting a war.

    • Bowen doesn't speculate for himself that a military setback might be turned into political victory, but that Nasser thought that this might be the way things went.
      As to hitting and damaging the target and being pre-empted by the opponent - I think that happened to Abdul Abulbul Amir and Ivan Skavinsky Skavar. They both perished! To survive your accurate shot the opponent needs to be be armoured. In some contests prejudice is very good armour.

    • Jeremy Bowen did a survey of 67 for the BBC from the vantage point of 07 and mentions that the British intelligence assessment was that 'an Arab victory is inconceivable', supporting this with reference to a similar American document. He also mentions the superb self-confidence of the Israeli generals, who surely did not take a different view. No one who remembers 67 would doubt the basic truth of this: such were the opinions held by well informed people and such were the realities that these people recognised. There must have been at least some sufficiently professional people on the 'Arab' side who were aware of the same realities just as clearly.
      That doesn't mean that there were no acts on that side deserving to be called provocative. Nasser had to rattle his rusty sabre or lose his reputation. Bowen speculates, plausibly enough, that an Israeli onslaught on him would lead to great power intervention giving him a political victory as it had in 56. It doesn't mean that there were no reckless hotheads and no inflamed public opinion deceived by the wild boasts of leaders and official journalists, again mentioned by Bowen.
      That in turn doesn't mean that Israel wasn't embarking, with great confidence, on a programme of ferocious response - think Samu - that rightly attracted the term 'disproportionate'. Firing the first shot in an so far undeclared international war is a disproportionate response to tension and provocations, raising the level of violence way beyond - out of proportion with - what it has been. Even if it pre-empts - RoHa has mentioned the difference between pre-emption and prevention - the intention of the other side to attack later it goes beyond self-defence. One thing it pre-empts, indeed annihilates, is the possibility that the other side can be dissuaded.
      The trouble with archives - it's much the same with WW1 - is that every bit and piece gets interpreted to suit the reader's preconceptions. Still, there's something very clear and distinct about the big picture.

    • But then I don't think there is ever a truly defensive war - never mind who fires the first shot or what the opponent intends - whose objectives include making a fundamental change in matters of sovereignty and overthrowing a once accepted status quo. Both 48 and 67 brought about changes of that kind not just as a matter of temporary convenience or need but as a fundamental fulfilment of the objectives defined by the Zionist view of Jewish rights. It's possible to assert that these wars were not defensive but were still justified - another matter.

    • I've been looking at the CIA account of the origins of the war and the 'total destruction' speech is mentioned. That phrase was, it seems, immediately followed by 'if they want war...'. I don't deny that Nasser was fanning flames, though the flames had bern lit on the Syrian border with Israel and he can't have been bursting with confidence.

    • I think Yoni has a point about 'sole provocateur'. It was clear enough at the time that what were then called 'guerilla' attacks on Israel were occurring and that there was much Israeli response, notably at Samu, which the British Government called 'disproportionate'. Nasser, the great champion of what we then called 'Arab nationalism' , was doing nothing much - an indication of his lack of confidence, which must be noted in interpreting later events. He was obviously coming under intense pressure to do something which at least looked menacing. The closure of the straits, plus rhetoric whose nuances inevitably got lost as concern and excitement mounted, did look menacing, so in a sense provocative. What alternative could he have had?
      Israel then took the decision to fire the first shot. There was no concealment of that: everything was justified in terms of pre-emption, which is not the same as defence. Pre-emption is action while the opponent either has not made his decision or still has time for a change of mind. It is still a form of undeclared war, which is something too dangerous to be approved.
      Nasser must have been hoping for a diplomatic triumph of some sort as a reward for his show of determination - even acknowledgement of his legal rights over the straits, even if he made no further short term effort to use them, would have been a great coup and would have moderated Israel's readiness to deal with everything by disproportionate response. He must have become overconfident as it began to look as if Israel's Western backers were preparing to negotiate with him. Meanwhile popular pressure had forced Jordan to leap into his arms.
      I think that the only thing that has become much clearer since is the extent of Soviet rather than just popular pressure on Nasser, putting him in a really tight corner, in the early stages, matched by complete uselessness when the balloon had gone up.

  • Palestinian Authority to hold questionable 'supplementary' elections in Gaza
    • That's very interesting information, echino. I was thinking of the Oswald Rufeisen 'Brother Daniel' case in the 60s, which did enshrine in Israeli law the principle that Jews who convert to another religion have - or may be considered to have - forfeited their Jewish status - which does say something, even if something no one can quite understand, about the religious element in the claims of Zionism. I gather from Messianic Jewish websites that this is still a serious problem even though there are loopholes, usually rather expensive ones, that you can use if you are really persistent.

    • As to Zionism and religious identity - I don't know what echino would say to the idea that Z claims certain rights (exclusively) for those it regards as Jewish, meaning those who practise what is now recognised as the Jewish religion or else are blood relatives, in degree to be defined by the Israeli leadership, of those who practised it - or what is now regarded as having been 'it' - in previous ages. This by no means excludes personal atheism, though it does seem to imply, for almost all intents and purposes, believing in the validity of the Bible for crucial historical and (even more importantly) moral purposes. Being Jewish has been interpreted as cancelled by accepting the authority of another sacred book. I haven't checked what eljay means by 'religion-supremacist' but it seems reasonable enough to apply that term to the Z conception of Jewish status and Jewish rights. I congratulate Z on having found ways in practice to appeal right across the spectrum from the most Bible-believing Christians to the most scoffing atheists. Very ingenious, though all wrong.

    • I agree with everything youve said, eljay. Not complying with the regulations of a religion you don't accept is not an insult, in that it does not imply anything more negative about the followers of that religion beyond that they are wrong in their belief - and if that cannot be said there is no role for pure reason in political life. I think all exclusions of reason are in the end self-contradictions.
      Non-compliance does not even exclude admiration for the tenacity of people who do comply - it is quite possible to admire people for their dedication even when you do not yourself see their point. In any event the enforcement of civility is very problematic: we didn't like it when it happened to Steven Salaita. We don't like the endless Zionist complaints that denial of Zionism causes pain, as if from personal insult, to people who are Jewish.
      There's nothing wrong with a private organisation like Mondoweiss prohibiting attacks on specific religions or personal attacks. But that is because it's a private forum, not an extension of the state.

  • The responsibility of non-Zionist Jews during the 'year of Zionist anniversaries'
    • I too don't think that a historic record of persecution justifies the exclusion of another population, the abrogation of its members' human rights, by the heirs of the persecuted. Human rights should not be abrogated and individual responsibility should not count for so little. I know that some in the 60s were saying that one or two American states should become Black sovereign states in recompense for slavery, but that didn't really make moral sense. It's even more difficult if we say that the formerly persecuted have a right to the territory absolutely of their choice - are entitled to pick on anyone. I think that not even the Zionists have ever quite said that - they have not, at least since 1905 and really never - claimed anywhere but Palestine, not ultimately as a recompense for human evil but as an entitlement under divine providence or under some overwhelmingly important plan for the redemption of the human race.

  • Through 'severe pressure,' U.S. can impose a two-state solution on Israel -- Nathan Thrall
    • It has moments when the costs are high but for long periods empires have paid well. Some say that the Roman Empire couldn't pay its way after about 250, some that it was so damn profitable and pieces of its action so desired that takeover bids were mounted in such hostile form that the whole business had to be demerged, even dismembered.

    • I'm glad we're still hearing from you in the comments section, Donald - you've mentioned that you don't find it such a rewarding place these days.
      The good intentions of 'quiet Americans' are famously satirised by Graham Greene. They arrive in a strange place knowing everything because they have read a book, so they are educated into illusion. I think that Kerry and his like have told themselves two things, that it is the Israeli interest to 'make peace' and that is in the American interest not to be so closely involved in a regional conflict. In a way he is expecting Israel to rescue America, but in its own interests.
      There's an immediate problem: it is very much in the interests of a small country to be intimately locked into the workings of a superpower. It's not just that - as Thrall rightly says - American patronage removes all the incentives that there would otherwise be for 'peace' but the very fact that 'peace' would lessen the American connection or at least its intimacy, making it possible for the superpower to show a more evenhanded interest in all the regional states, is in an important sense against Israel's rational and objective interests.
      We see, relevantly I think, how Israel has developed this extraordinary dual economy, one represented by the American-linked startups and one represented by those low PISA scores. Kerry and the brilliant minds who surrounded him in the office see the ME as a trouble and drag on the energies of successive Presidents and of people like themselves. They don't share the moral commitment - moral inertia, perhaps - of ordinary people who have come, as a matter of routine through endless iterations, to praise or at least vaguely think of Israel as basically a good moral cause. The manipulation of the political system through 'donations' is accepted with scarce a murmur partly through inertia but basically because Israel is regarded as good. Severe pressure on Israel is a fabulous monster dreamed up by people whose naivety exceeds Kerry's, I think. The rest of the West is of course a mere pale shadow.

  • March of the Zealots: a report from 'Jerusalem Day'
    • Yes, thanks for laughs, Mooser and Nordics with mildly luminous ball.

    • Just come across Haaretz report for May 28 of Netanyahu's cabinet meeting in the Western Wall tunnels, which he calls 'the bedrock of our existence'. Also a Times of Israel report (25th) of discoveries by the sinister Elad on 'an ancient road leading from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple' of Roman slingshots and arrowheads. The excitable style of the report is more interesting than the rather ordinary finds. The ancient past isn't over.

  • In groundbreaking resolution, California Democratic Party decries US support for Israeli occupation
    • Well, echino, I think that never saying what a fair settlement would be like, whilst endlessly claiming to have made reasonable offers in the past, has been a very powerful weapon for Israel. Of course we must suspect that the real plan is 'Palestinians out' - no real problem since they aren't a nation and don't exist.
      I assume that the Liberal Zionists, the sincere ones anyway, believe in good faith that there is a better way. They are a very important part of the situation in the West. I think that they should be asked not to resign themselves to the status quo without giving peace its proverbial chance by pressing for a 'peace offer' (those are degraded words, I know) from Israel. They could yet do some good.
      In fact I think that the real plan, yet to show its face quite openly (though near enough, God knows), is not so much that all Palestinians
      should leave as that a remnant should remain, since Zionism has always been conceived, even as it metes out dispossession and despair, as for the good of all. Only they must remain as grateful beneficiaries - existent at last! - not as entitled heirs.

    • We ought not to come to the sad (mild word) conclusion that peace is not possible without putting the idea to the test by calling on everyone, particularly those with the most power, to say what they would consider to be fair terms for final status. Israel is the most powerful party. There can certainly be no agreement - and in that sense no peace - while the most powerful party to the dispute will not say what agreement it would now think fit to make. The Liberal Zionists could yet do the world a service by pressing for this situation to change.

  • Triumphalist light show in Jerusalem weaponizes the city walls to celebrate 50th anniversary of Jewish conquest
    • See Galor and Bloedhorn Archaeology of Jerusalem (p.177 to be pedantic, with map). The tower has several archaeological layers, the final form of the present structure being unquestionably Ottoman. The site was of importance from much earlier times. There is no evidence that it was fortified by David but it was certainly the centre of Herod's residential-military complex. So it has the usual mixture of Jewish, Muslim and 'fantasy' resonances: it seems to have been Christians who linked it to David. Both Eliot and Yonah have a point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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