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MHughes976

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.

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  • Zionism, anti-Semitism, Israel — and the UK Labour party
    • Israel doesn’t try to have it both ways in that respect. Z does not claim or accept for one minute that it produces atrocities, nothing more than deserved suffering, within necessity, when rightful claims are resisted. It claims to defend the sacred rights of the Jewish people and to be a light to the nations into the bargain. That is profoundly philo-Semitic: also, all things considered, profoundly shocking. Pro or philo attitudes can be just as unfair and just as corrupting morally as anti or miso ones.

    • Sometimes a movement is led by manipulators and the followers are dupes. But surely it is normal for an appeal to prejudice to be an important part of getting people to follow the band. And quite possible for the manipulators to be in the end convinced by their own propaganda. I am not sure how well this model fits quasi-religions like Z.

    • ‘You are committed to our glorious cause’ isn’t a smear, which is something intended to make ‘you’ look bad. On the contrary it is, at least to some extent, an expression of solidarity and admiration. It just can’t on any normal understanding of the words exoress opprobrium, hostility or prejudice against the person addressed. It doesn’t take that character even if the supposedly glorious cause is, in objective truth rather than in the opinion of the speaker, rubbish and if it victimises others. It is then the others who are the sole victims of the opprobrium, hostility and prejudice expressed or suggested by the words.

    • I can’t warm to the argument that Zionism is anti-Semitic. I take anti-S to be prejudice - or the worse outcomes of prejudice - against people who are Jewish, just because they are Jewish. I don’t deny that it exists. But Z is prejudice in favour of people who are Jewish, just because they are Jewish, leading to unreasonable claims on their behalf and to disregard of Palestinian rights. Z insults those like Elizabeth B by calling them ‘self-hating’ etc.. But this is not just because they are Jewish but because they are Jewish and anti-Z.
      The Z claim that all Jews are naturally or logically supporters of Z is false but it is not an expression of anti-Jewish prejudice unless Z is taken to be a bad thing, the reverse of what those advancing the claim believe.

  • Schumer and Dems outdo Trump at AIPAC-- there's no peace because 'Palestinians don't believe in Torah'
    • There is no logical contradiction between thinking that Jews are a disruptive and dangerous presence in the Christian world - anti-S - and thinking that they deserve a state of their own somewhere else - Z. Herzl recognised this, I think. He still thought that the anti-S were horrible and ungrateful people. His main public justification for Z was not that it was God’s will but that it would benefit everyone, Jews and Palestinians at least, in an Altneuland. Only the benighted Euros would lose because the beneficial Jewish presence in their midst would be lost.

    • If the point is that the Torah says it then it is unreasonable to expect non-Jewish people to accept great detriment to themselves for the sole reason that a religion which they don’t accept demands it. So it was and is unreasonable and unjust for Jewish people, even along with such Christian alllies as they have, to gain acceptance by force of arms. This is of course not forced conversion but it is forcing the demands of one’s religion on others, which is wrong, in another way. If the holocaust is the main consideration then everything depends on something which is in truth irrelevant: political rights in one place do not create rights for victims over third parties living in another place.
      All this may not play well with young people, who are perhaps less religious and who may not know many of the 1940s generation, but it still seems firmly settled in the minds of those still in power.

  • Nine reasons Israel is not a 'progressive paradise'
    • The two questions are fairly easy to answer - it’s more progressive and humane, in comparison to running that large prison, to run a society where most people are reasonably free to come and go. It’s more progressive, compared with abducting children, to run a juvenile justice system to something like the standards of (say) the UK. This throws some light on how to answer Jackdaw’s question, since it raises the question of what ‘progressive’ means.
      If we say that Israel is non-progressive on the grounds mentioned it follows that several ME and other states are more progressive in a significant sense. It seems to me that my nominations of Jordan and Lebanon could stand so far. I don’t suggest that that list is exclusive but I did have a google look at civil liberties in those countries and didn’t think I had to change my mind. Still, there are things about both those countries that are disquieting. And about the UK of course.

    • Well, Mist, if ‘progressive Israel’ is, at least for people who use words normally and face facts, effectively a contradiction in terms then the answer to Jackdaw’s question depends on whether ‘progresdive ME country’ is to be viewed, for practical purposes, in the same way. If so, the the answer to his question is ‘none’. If not, then the answer is ‘at least a few of them’. I don’t know enough about life in those countries to be very definite. Perhaps Lebanon and Jordan are making the best of a very difficult situation. Perhaps Israel is using its resources in ways that we would call progressive if followed in the West. But their resources are ill-gotten gains continually secured by cruelty and the Israelis certainly aren’t running a paradise.

  • AIPAC panics over progressives abandoning Israel
    • Proud, perhaps, of the ability to maintain, even after everything that has happened, the traditional ability not to give an inch in the face of international protests.

    • Noting what you said about the Tamimi case, Catalan, I looked up Tamimi and would agree that the campaign on her behalf is waning, at least for now. It doesn’t have the leadership by really prominent people or the backing of major news organisations or the money that is needed for that sort of thing. There was an article from HaAr from about 4 days ago saying that the credibility of the Israeli publicity machine has taken a blow and that the reputation of Israel for vindictiveness has increased. I think that is a reasonable judgement. Whether there will eventually be enough of these drips and drops to turn the tide against Israel remains to be seen. I’ve never shared the short term optimism in the Palestinian cause that is so marked on Mondoweiss, though I don’t abandon hope.

  • 'Israel-related censorship' on Upper West Side is deplored by 40 Jews, including Beinart, Hirschmann, Peratis, Zellner
    • I see that Book Culture may face years of intimidation but I would still like to know whether the book is withdrawn. If not the threat of long term intimidation is not succeeding.
      I’m MHughes, you know, not McHughes - not Scottish.

    • Did Book Culture withdraw the book from its shelves? The attempt at censorship has not fully succeeded otherwise.

  • 18-year-old fisherman killed by Israeli forces off the coast of Gaza
    • Many would favour bringing ‘terrorism’ within a theory of just war, so that a terrorist campaign might be justified if fundamentally defensive, if in defence of acknowledged human rights, if with a leadership capable of negotiating, if with a clear intention to show some restraint in respect of civilians, if with some reasonable hope of success. There will be quite a lot of difference in the ability of different ‘terrorist’ groups to comply with these criteria.

    • Rights are everywhere the same. Refugees are not to be excluded but allowed to return, former refugees are to be compensated. Even more importantly, sovereign power should not be exercised over disfranchised people ever, except on the clearly temporary basis of belligerent occupation after victory in war, not to last longer than is necessary for the restoration of order and punishment of war crimes, perhaps negotiations over indemnities.

  • One State Foundation launches today
    • James, I think that anything worthy of being called a Solution would end these dreadful and inhuman things. If it involved one stare, ie did not depend on forcing s ludicrously unjust partition of land and resources on the Palestinians, all the better. Whether any such thing is possible is another matter. It would certainly conflict with Z ideology,, which claims all Palestine for perple who are Jewish, the supposed true heirs, and those to whom the true heirs extend grace and generosity.

  • Palestine was always on my radar, says historian Robyn Spencer
    • The Israeli system, with its decades-long exclusion of people from their homes and property and its persistent exercise of sovereign power over disfranchised people, is a system of minority rule and violation of human rights. It deserves to be opposed whether or not it supports American imperialism or is a drag on Western interests, filling the ME with needless hostility to us - we hear both sides of this topic on Mondoweiss. The bad things and the cruelty would be terrible even if they were part of a Stalinist system confronting the West..

  • In calling for end of Jewish state, Avraham Burg is painted as 'troublemaker' at liberal NY synagogue
    • Just to administer a pinprick, almost relevant to the topic, against the historic homeland theory or at least against the wildly ideological misuse of archaeogy which has underpinned it, I’d commend the Zwinglius Redivivus website site ‘It looks like science has disproved inflated archaeological claims’ again’, in reference to extremely excessive antiquity attributed to some objects and structures in Jerusalem.

    • I thought for a while that we were talking about a purely objective definition of historic homeland as a place where, as a matter of fact, an ethnic group to which one belongs (taken also to be an objective fact) first formed self-consciously. To my mind this status conveys no moral rights and does not prove that one cannot carry out an action that can be called invasion of one’s hh in the sense given. Can be called invasion because it has the moral characteristics of invasion. Another word that seems possible is ravage.

    • If we assume that we can make sense of the vague phrases in the Wikk definition (thanks, YG) what happens?
      The same place can have been the scene of many national origins. Some individuals within the same 100 square miles can proclaim themselves Xs, other individuals then or later can proclaim themselves Ys.
      The area of 100 square miles will be a subset of many larger areas. The Xs may concentrate on Little Xland, the Ys on Great Yland. It may be just as true that Xs first came together in the 100 square miles and that the Ys first came together in the 100,000 square miles of which the 100 form a part. It’s also possible that the 100 also form a part of Zland, which stretches away in a different direction. The claims that
      Xs, Ys and Zs all came together first ‘in this place’ will all be true. It will be just as true under the definition that the 100 square miles is all or part of the historic homeland of all of them.
      An act with the moral characteristics of invasion - violent creatiion from outside of a new regime at what cost is necessary to existing residents - can surely happen in a place thus qualifying as a historic homeland and can involve hostilities between different groups of those who, under the definition we are using, are both historic homelanders?

    • Jon, that is not a definition!

    • I think you’re right on all three points, Yonah. But your being right about the first one is not pure good news. Israel has indeed no practical need or necessity for the ‘occupation’ but that very fact shows that Israel could still flourish mightily, no less than now really, on a 2ss basis, which means that the Palestinians would never pursue policies that Israel might find seriously damaging, which still amounts to hegemony and is still bound to be very much resented. Ending the occupation might not amount to much.

    • I find it a bit difficult to see how Burg’s federation is to be constituted. If there are two substates with boundaries, where are those boindaries to be? If you say ‘on the Green Line’ you are still advocating gross unfairness to the Palestinians - which they would always resent to a degree that would surely undermine the federation. He seems to see Jews in basically religious terms, saying that ‘Jewish and democratic’ means something like ‘theocratic and democratic’ - a perception not shared by everyone. But if the idea were fully thought out it would be interesting to see how Palestinians would react.

  • Video: East Jerusalem Palestinians fear new Damascus Gate checkpoint marks change in status quo of the city
    • The Palestinian presence - the presence of human beings with political rights - cannot be trumped by any amount or account of ancient history, even an account consisting solely of true statements about injustice to Jews after Bar-Kochba.

    • ‘Connection and history’ - I’d agree that any objective history of the Jews in ancient times would refer to the Temple Mount. The criteria for the truth of this kind of statement, which I can’t imagine many Palestinians, even those most angry with the Israelis, would deny, are really minimal. They don’t imply any significant Jreish rights in the present, if you go for a version of ‘historical connection’ so charged with detailed claims and moral. value judgements that it did imply major Jewish rights as of now, I would hardly expect the Palestinians not to challenge it. It couldn’t be an obvious truth.

    • Maybe the ‘saving clause’ in the Balfour Declaration and is successors doesn’t mean much but if it means anything at all it would, both by the ideas of human rights of that time and of ours, mean that the non-Jewish inhabitants would have continuing use of all their existing places of worship. Mind you, I think that in practice this right will not be denied them in this case, though it has been in connection with the Ibrahimi Mosque. The Temple Institute and suchlike are way out fantasists, possibly with three armpits.
      Taking half of someone’s property is not sharing.

  • The case for liberal anti-Zionism
    • I just had a look at If Americans and couldn’t see anything too different from Mondoweiss - indeed there was a prominent article by Phil himself. Ms. Weir is clearly of the opinion that even right wing Ametcans, many at least, have some humane principles somewhere, so she is ready to address them with her views on the injustice and cruelty suffered by Palestinians. I hope she’s correct about that.

  • Colorado congressman's wife encourages messianic Jews to seize Muslim holy site in Jerusalem-- 'Say, It's ours!'
    • There’s an article in Ritmeyer’s Architectural Design blog dated November 17 1915 called ‘Not Wailing at the wrong wall’ with some quite useful comments. Maybe this was one that RoHa mentioned earlier. I think it shows us why the idea that the Temple was not on the ‘Temple Mount’ platform faces serious difficulties and is very much a minority view.

    • Well, there is the reference to the House of David in the Tel Dan stela, which may date from around 850 BCE. That is the majority interpretation.
      As to ‘the accuracy of the Bible’ there is current celebration of the finding of a bulla with impressed words taken by some to read ‘Isaiah the Prophet’ and dated to about 700 BCE. This reading is quite disputed, though.
      It’s really unlikely, I would say, that there was a Hebrew invasion as early as 1800 BCE. If there was it could scarcely be fitted into the Biblical account.

    • I understand that Jews with strong feelings about the transformations of the Messianic Age - ‘Jews who are messianic’ - believe, at least by a majority, that the reconstruction of the Temple should happen in the Messiah’s presence and that attempts to ‘force God’s hand’ are impious. That will be the time when ‘many nations are added to Yahweh’ and the Temple would be the necessary backdrop to their reception. ‘Messianic Jews’ in the sense of Jews who are self-consciously Jewish, biblically literalist but also Christian, do tend to suppprt Temple rebuilding and to support Zionism. As you say, they are not well regarded by mainstream Judaism. Most Christians would probably regard them as amiable eccentrics.

    • Did the Nazis accuse the Jews of terrorism?

  • Abbas warns Security Council, Palestinians could become 'refugees or terrorists in Europe'
    • I am not sure that Palestine has any really strong allies - well, Iran is no weakling but has many enemies. Russia and China want to do business through the status quo.

  • 'NYT' writers slam left for intolerance of dissent-- on Israel panel that excludes anti-Zionists and Palestinians
    • I’m not sure of that. Zionist claims concern the entire Holy Land, surely. There’s no form of it which restricts Jewish rights to part of the area or accepts that Palestinians have as much right to be there as people who are Jewish. No idea like that could have justified the inhumanity and cruelty of 1948.

  • Sarah Silverman stands by Ahed Tamimi: 'Do you wonder where her rage comes from?'
  • 'I faced my Jewish racism' -- an alumnus's call to Jewish students for Israeli Apartheid Week
    • Thanks to echino and others. I still say that rights are associated with status, such as humanity: if you are a hunan being, you have human rights, if you are a refugee you have a refugee’s right of return. If you accept a new nationality you are no longer surely a refugee. Your UDHR right to a nationality is no longer being denied. That’s a very important difference.
      I hope this argument doesn’t please the Zionists too much since it eliminates the right of return to Palestine so falsely claimed in the Balfour days and so horribly (so damnably, in the language of Mr. Shavit) enforced in 48.

    • My argument would be that to accept citizenship in Xland is to accept all the rights and duties, no more and no less, than the existing Xlanders have, which would not include a right of return to another place. Moreover the normal idea of receiving citizenship involves the idea of intending to make one’s life in the receiving country.
      I’d agree that special arrangements may perhaps be made by agreement between the parties - general consent for general good and all that - which vary the normal pattern of rights and duties. But where there is no general consent of this kind the normal rule would surely apply. A German Jew becoming British in 1935 or a Palestinian becoming British in 1990 (in practice I doubt if we were welcoming enough in either case) would not have received citizenship with the kind of proviso or special consideration that Jordan offers Palestinians.

    • A refugee - one who is unjustly expelled or excluded - surely has a right of return (how else do we recognise the injustice?) and so do descendants who are still being excluded. That right lapses when full citizenship elsewhere, implying rights and duties the same as the existing citizens, is offered and accepted - though there is no duty to accept. By this standard there will for a long time be Palestinians with a right of return following 1948. There have for a long time ceased to be any Jewish people with a right of return following 135.

    • Manchester was the scene of a major ‘censorship’ intervention, partially successful, by Mark Regev against Marika Sherwood only last year. Israel Apartheid Week now seems much weakened in the UK by threats based on the notorious ‘Working Def of Anti-S’. Everyone flinches from the prospect of huge legal costs. The likes of Mark Regev seem unable to see just how ugly their threats are and I don’t think they’ll work for ever.

  • 'Preparing the hearts' - how the Temple Mount movement works towards their goal of building the Third Temple over the ruins of Al Aqsa
    • It is dangerous that the fantasy is entertained but I’m sure that at very least for a long time yet it just isn’t going to become reality - as you say.

    • The Times of Israel 27 October 2016 carried a report from Ilan Ben Zion about a discreet archaeological effort by the Israel Antiquities Authoruty and the Waqf which had resulted in ‘a few tiny fragments of clay and bone’ which they dated to the Solomon’s Temple period. I agree that there’s not going to be much there but there will be some evidence of very ancient habitation. The scope of Jesus’ warning in Matthew 24:2 that not one stone would be left standing on another’ has been disputed but I would think it must mean everything in Jesus’ sight, therefore include the walls. This must have been what the Matthaean Christians of around 90 CE believed and they would have been in a reasonably good position to know.

    • There’s much about ancient Jerusalem that is not understood. The Temple Mount sifting project - sorting artefacts from the rubble caused by current building work - has now lost its former funding after discovering nothing of any great significance. It’s trying to crowd-fund. The idea of the Temple over the spring has great difficulties and only minority suppprt.

    • I think that these Temple Mount people are getting absolutely nowhere. There aren’t going to be white-robed priests sacrificing sheep, there isn’t going to be a red heifer whose ashes purify priests, there isn’t going to be an election for High Priest. Not for a long time.

  • Zionism's tailspin: Stark minority of young California Jews are 'comfortable with idea of Jewish state'
    • I agree that the coming and going of the No Hard Border pledge was pretty astonishing. On the other point of your discussion with RoHa - the basic idea behind Brexit, just as with the election of Trump, was surely ‘immigrants taking our jobs’. The Leavers must have thought that they were protecting their grandchildren’s chances of getting the kind of jobs that they, now pensioners, fondly remember having. I think that they were mistaken, but this must now be put to the test the hard way. Will the young, with their different memories, manage to reverse the decision. I doubt it.
      Memories matter, don’t they? It was inevitable that the romantic attraction to Israel felt by Jewish people in the United States should decline as the memory of Hitler fades and their influence and prosperity go on unabated. Mind you, that atttraction seems very often to decline - or just be reshaped - into the liberal Z lamentation of which we are so aware, making people comfortably uncomfortable.
      In turn the position of Israel depends much less on idealistic young people, mainly Jewish, in the West and more on a very firmly established position in the world order, with an important place in the economic nexus and with no great powers really hostile - and some effusively friendly, India hardly less than the United States. I don’t believe that Israel is anywhere near a death spiral, though the reaction against the treatment of Ms. Tamimi was indeed heartening.

  • 'Fake News!': the view from Israel’s occupation
    • I was interested and glad to see both the BBC and the Washington Post giving quite prominent attention to the Ahed Tamimi story - more, I think, than to any comparable story of Israeli cruelty. Washington Post comments were running quite strongly our way.

  • In propaganda coup for Israel, NYT frontpager ascribes Gaza's misery to Palestinian infighting
    • If it’s an occupation it is being operated immorally, without due regard for the ability of the people to live their lives normally and without due assurances that the situation is temporary. If it’s war it is being waged immorally by concentrating the effort on the civil population, in the hope that they will overthrow their leaders, and failing to make proposals for peace. If you say ‘in war all is fair’ then maybe you can evade this objection but then there is no right to accuse the other side of acting immorally against you.
      There was an article in the Economist a few years ago explaining the sheer stultifying grip that Israel exercises on economic life in the WB, which makes economic development hardly attainable and these considerations would apply a fortiori to Gaza. There was one more recently that rather made the heart bleed contrasting the hi-tech water supply in 48 Israel, all recycling and desalination, with the lo-tech sitation in the WB, all rust and leaking pipes.
      However, it may still be true that the NYT journalist found a lot of anger and recrimination between different groups in Gaza - an indication of comparatively free speech there, I suppose.

  • Israeli ambassador devotes much of his speech to small group of protesters outside
    • I don’t doubt that the majority of Jewish people are shocked by Gellér and indeed very uncomfortable about the aggressive and brutal Netanyahu. But it’s still true and very disturbing for those who don’t want to be at serious moral variance with others along racial or religious lines that we are at variance with the Jewish majority who, despite their disclaiming G and even N, think Zionism an obvious moral truth.

  • Sentenced to 65 years for helping Palestinians: Read an excerpt from Miko Peled's 'Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five'
    • See L. Ben Hafsa, American Islamic Charities in the Age of Terrorism, World Journal of Social Science Research 2017.

  • Israeli diplomat calls on American students 'to restore the honor' of vilified word-- Zionism
    • I’m sorry you think that, echino. I’ve always valued your opinions. The actual rule of this site is no advocacy or celebration of violence ‘against anyone. Ever.’ There’s also a rule against profanity, said to drive people away from the site. Phil and Adam can change the rules of they so wish.
      I think that our purpose should be to acquaint people in the Western world with the cruelty and morally preposterous theories of Zionism and so to win more of them away from the massive consensus in favour of Israel that exists. I think that’s a possible achievement, not needing ‘celebration of violence’, and we don’t want to ‘drive people away’ by violent ideas or language, which will only facilitate our enemies’ claims that we’re a hate site.

    • If Donald works in the United States I think he shows some courage in standing up for Palestinian rights. We have rules against personal attacks and against advocacy of violence and these should be observed. It’s important.

    • It is clear that you despise Dayan’s sneering reaction to the days of rage. He isn’t quite as insouciant as he pretends to be, no oppressor is. His remarks and their like indicate at least nagging awareness that a morally valid case is made against them and that the audience for this case in the West is no longer negligible, though I would have to admit that it is still near negligible in the political class. He can still expect to get away with the ‘indigeneity’ argument, a matter that even on Mondoweiss is repeatedly debated rather than treated as not worth mentioning! If I were a Palestinian I would be aware of rage every day, even if I also practised yoga.

  • Roger Cohen misses the Palestinian reality
    • The idea is surely not that the party line is strenuously ‘towed’ as in a tug o’war but is punctiliously and rather fearfully ‘toed’ by people who would not dare to set even a toe’s breadth between the line that they walk and the line that the party prescribes.

    • I haven’t paid for full access to the NYT. But it seems at least that the readers of that paper, predominantly well disposed towards Zionism as I think they are, have had ‘the lived Palestinian reality’ presented to them with no doubt that Israel must take some responsibility, which means responsibility for something horrible. Even the mitigating and framing devices used by Cohen, as reported here, don’t remove that presentation, though they were probably essential to getting publication in NYT. ‘Lived reality’ is a slightly slippery phrase but Cohen is not agreeing with the Z line that Palestinian complaint is, as it were, ‘lived illusion’. So I hope that a few of the NYT’s busy readers will at least pause and ponder these things.

  • Kindergarteners in Hebron protest Israel's detention of 350 children
    • Yes, I suppose that it’s an important and valid point that the freedom to express an opinion is under attack here. A more subtle point than would be made if mention was made on,y of the inhuman cruelty.

    • Thanks very much for that, Mist - and to the Reverend Nick Davies for bringing this matter to the attention of an Anglican readership. If the Church of England can be shocked out of its torpor and cowardice some good might be done, but I have little confidence in that happening. I wonder if I can get some attention for it in the Oxford Diocesan Synod, of which I’m a rather inactive member.
      Though we know that this sort of thing is going on it’s still shocking to be reminded.

  • Pro-Israel Democrats concede 'human rights' issue is killing the brand
    • Thanks for kind word, eljay. Reliable primary sources for Odessa 1871, with casualty figures, aren’t that easy to find: the local paper reported that ‘diverse’ police measures were taken to stop street fighting, others mentioned police brutality. However, when all is said and done, there was a widespread element of unreasonable anti-Semitism throughout Europe pre-1945. Which does not to the slightest degree justify what the Israelis do to the Palestinians.

    • I see no problem in accepting that Jews have been subject to much prejudice and unreasonable hostility in the Christian world. That fact is not negated by the facts that many non-Jews have behaved well and that some Jews have behaved badly. If Jack Green is putting it to Dan, in this iteration of one of his same-word memos (which don’t give the impression that he’s paying much attention to what others are actually saying). that one reason why (Christian) American opinion has supported Israel is to make up for evil in former times I think he may be right. I have certainly had rather sharp reminder of parallel sentiment among Germans. But even if this reason is widely accepted it’s still a very bad reason, amounting to a sort of inverse racism, in which being of a certain ancestry or ethnicity deflects moral questions entirely.

  • 'They’re trying to punish us through our children': A report from Nabi Saleh on Ahed Tamimi's 17th birthday
    • RoHa and I support Palestinian rights for reasons which are, I think, very similar, though I also think he saw the truth before I did. The ‘barking dog’ remark was disgraceful.

    • I think that GWP means to assure us, having signed the petition at his prompting, that the Israeli machine will consider us so negligible that we need not fear retaliation. He attributes to that organisation, without endorsing it himself, the view that we are but noisy lapdogs, to be ignored rather than denied the bones we like to chew. Remarks in that style do seem to appear quite frequently in Israeli circles but do not seem to stop a certain vindictiveness from appearing as well.

    • Signed as suggested

  • How to win the battle for freedom, justice, and equality
    • One has only to reflect briefly on the scope of ‘any’ in ‘any group of people has the right to found a state’ to see that this proposition cannot conceivably be true.

    • If the Palestinians say that Palestine must be Islamic I don’t agree. If they say that they have the right to a say in what Palestine should be, including how Islamic it should be, they have my full agreement. On what ground could anyone think otherwise?

    • The Bible doesn’t document anything about the times after it was written or about the Jews of those times and their cultural links. We can document the attachment of later Jews to the Bible but their sentiments do not prove either the factual truth of the Biblical account - and it is an account, not necessarily a record - of more ancient events or the validity of any moral claim that ‘this land is ours’. Indeed on the atheist hypothesis that you and I don’t share but are considering the sentiments of many later generations of Jews, being religious, were based on an illusion and an illusion is not a valid basis for anything.
      The Bible is used to give one phase of history, that which the Bible describes, an importance not shared with any other in determining ‘whose land this is’. This might mean something if the Bible has divine authority but if it hasn’t then no phase of history has any special importance or special ability to found political claims just because the Bible refers to it.
      I don’t know how far most Palestinians would claim rights in Palestine on religious grounds which I might not regard as authoritative. My impression is that they claim these rights on valid moral grounds which I would consider part of God’s gift of reason and conscience to us all.

    • The role of the Bible in Israeli pronouncements of all kinds is pointless unless it is an appeal to a divine authority. Without that kind of authority the Bible is just another ancient text, to be viewed with the same scepticism of the others and has no particular role in the definition of right and wrong

    • I think Mooser makes the essential point. The arguments for Zionism are always open expression of or thin covers for the claim to a divine mandate setting aside the normal moral rule that marching in and taking possession is screamingly wrong. There was a Likud statement, as I recall, only the other day about ‘full Biblical right’ (or some such phrase) to the whole of Palestine.
      I wouldn’t lay so much emphasis on 1945 - seizing land and excluding the former residents didn’t become unjust and cruel because a committee met and passed a resolution or because public opinion took a certain turn. (There was an element of hypocrisy about the victorious powers of 45, the founders of the U.N., because they had just seized a huge chunk of German territory and made it Polish, with another chunk of Polish territory made Soviet.) If we grant very strong powers to international committees to create rules about right and wrong we do open the way to the suggestion, at least the suggestion, that the same authority can create exceptions to the rules, as with partitioning Palestine. I have seen the argument that Israel has its famous legitimacy via U.N. resolutions and recognitions, whereas I think of the moral weakness inherent in those resolutions.

    • Well, I might try to get my teeth into it were it available ekectronicslly, but it seems not to be.

    • Perhaps some forms of partition in some places have been fair but the 2ss in the form where the Palestinians have no armed forces, no freedom to make treaties and no right to ask for revisions over time, is a partition scheme which is in its every element a mechanism not for sovereignty but for subjection - at best for what is kindly called a protectorate.
      The ‘Swiss cheese’ aspect of most versions suggests that far from being protected the Palestinian enclaves are structured, in these versions at least, so as to be cleared and settled with Jewish immigrants as time and pretext may serve.
      I would think that if partition cannot be done fairly it should not be done at all.
      I think that your main argument, Yitzchak, is that the Palestinians may not derserve the full range of human rights until they are clearly ready to concede those rights to others and you doubt that this readiness can be clear while theocratic ideas - about religious sources of law etc. - have strong support among them. But human rights are for those with human status and ideas that are theocratic to that extent are not unnatural or even very rare among human beings. Moreover, the idea of creating a secure distant future for human rights by denying them, even when they are clearly demanded, in the here and now and in the short term verges on paradox.

    • It had better not be the kind of partition envisaged by the 2ss as normally canvassed.

    • I would not have thought on first reading that the heavenly origin of Judaism is disallowed by those words. Whatever the truth of that, I think that there is a human right to be an enfranchised citizen of a sovereign state even if one has very hostile views of some others and of their ideology or thinks that their religion is hellish. Otherwise the State, by disfranchising those of suspect ideology, adopts the very same ‘us v, them’ attitude of some of its factions and so cannot be an impartial source of justice, which is asking for both injustice and trouble. Do you disagree about that?
      If you are saying that in some circumstances there has to be partition along ideological or religious lines then it is surely clear that partition must not be a form of dominance and subjugation, adding economic or pragmatic insult and injury to whatever discords there were in the first place.

    • We are all human beings here, just as in Palestine, and the rules apply to all of us. It’s rather important that we keep to them if we want Mondoweiss to be an effective political force. I was grateful for the question because the problem of the rights of wrongdoers is important amd quite difficult. The question let me explain that I don’t think you can do wrong to the point of losing all rights. I was saying before that the idea that those who deny the rights of others acquire in the course of their behaviour the right to have a quid pro quo before they cease to do wrong makes no sense.

    • There was no hint in what I said that the Palestinians or indeed anyone are irrational or subhuman, perhaps like Swiftian Yahoos, which I hoped that not even YG would suggest. I was responding to and rejecting the suggestion that the rights of the oppressed depend on their passing an ideological test set by the oppressors or that their failing to do so would create for the oppressors a right to continue to do wrong, which I argued was paradoxical.
      We do have rules against personal attacks.

    • I’m grateful for Yitzchak’s question. I should make it clear that even oppressors have the rights belonging unconditionally to all human beings, but that they do not of course acquire any special rights from being oppressors. I don’t think that ideological deficiencies, such as limited or mistaken ideas about rights, among the oppressed, unless they amount to descent into irrationality and merely animal status, remove their rights. I don’t think that things have descended that far in Palestine. I don’t think that even the Israelis are irrational.

    • If there is any validity in the idea of a right in anything like the normal understanding of the term then those who are being denied their rights do not have obligations towards those who are denying them. That would imply that wrongdoers have some sort of right to continue to do wrong, which I think makes no sense.
      The idea that this is a battle all but entirely for Jewish opinion, being fought between authentic Judaism and Zionism and the inauthentic form of Judaism following in its train, is very discouraging. To accept that Palestine as a whole is already and ineluctably in the hands of those who are Jewish, with its future dependent entirely on their will, theirs to keep completely or to relinquish partially as they shall decide, is to suggest very strongly that partial relinquishment is a pointless and unrealistic effort to put the clock back, that the aims of Z have been accomplished in full bar the shouting and that the shouting might as well be cut short.

  • I'm blacklisted and banned from Israel, but for many others this is nothing new
    • I think that if many of my ancestors had left Russia in fear of their lives and their descendants had always spoken Russian and never accepted citizenship in another country - not intermarrying sufficiently to acquire such - then I would have a reasonable claim on Putin to take me back.

    • Everyone has the same human rights. No one has a normal right to march into a country where (s)he was not born, seize or ravage some of its houses and help exclude the inhabitants found there. Exception might arise if someone is a refugee from that place who has never accepted citizenship elsewhere.

    • Even were it completely true that the mass of 1948 leavers left because they were called upon to do so by Arab governments who were expecting to send in their armies the decision to leave would have been entirely within their rights. The difference between a home and a prison is that you can come and go without anyone’s permission. The desire not to be in a war zone is a rational one. The decisive action was the decision to exclude them when they sought to return and this was completely wrongful.

  • Naked justice
    • It is indeed fair to say that the question of the legality of the settlements is not identical with the question of whether the individual settlers are within their rights or are wrongdoers. But there is a strong logical link between the answers one gives to these questions. I think that there is no irrelevance or discourtesy in noting that Levy is reported as arguing, inter alia, from the rightfulness of the relevant individual actions to the rightfulness, at least under international law, of the settlement project.

    • The argument that there is nothing illegal about the settlements because they exist because of voluntary moves by individuals was one of the products of the famous Levy Commission. See Orma Ben-Nafthali and Rafi Reznick ‘The Astro-Nomos’ Washington University 2015. They claim that Article 49(6) of the 4th Geneva Convention implies in context that a state does transfer its citizens into occupied territory by encouraging and supporting them. Their title refers to their belief that the Levy Commission’s work is of the same intellectual value as an argument for geocentrism
      I’m in a rush, I may have got the reference slightly wrong!

  • The not-so-secret life of Mathilde Krim
    • Sorry I used ‘cause’ confusingly. I meant that Johnson - who must have known Krim’s loyalties and connections - was letting Israel by his intimacy with her, know of his commitment to their cause (or project) Tying myself in verbal knots I added that this intimacy was the effect rather than the cause (or source) of his pro-Israel policies/sentiments. I couldn’t imagine him with a dusky beauty singing sweetly of Old Baghdad.

    • I think that effect is being treated as cause. Johnson had a beautiful spy, working for Israel, in his bed and made only minor protests about the Liberty. But these may both be seen as assurances to Israel that he was committed to the cause and effects of his commitment rather than causes of it. He could not, at least in any way consistent with his other policies, have backed or protected Nasser, a Soviet supporter, at that stage of the Cold War, so he had to accept the pre-emptive strike theory, morally poisonous as it was, and all that came of it. He would also have had to reckon with the enormous surge of support for Israel across most of the political spectrum. That has been long prepared though I still find it surprising, remembering it, quite how powerful it was, making the Liberty problem, shocking as it should have been, politically trivial. Beautiful spies were just froth on the surface of deep tides.

  • Norman Finkelstein's new book on Gaza is a meticulous account of Israel's crimes
  • There are two narratives, but one reality: Palestinian dispossession
    • Phoenicia and Canaan seem to be names of similar meaning, ‘the red dye producing area’. Sheshonq’s inscription - 920-ish BCE - refers to the Palestine area as ‘all the lands of the Phoenicians’. Much later, around 170, Beirut claims in coinage to be the Mother of Canaan.

    • Annie, electissima domina, I do not for my own part think that Israel has any interest in objective fairness or justice but they are for ever saying that they do. So let them say what justice and fairness means to them and let us see how their ideas approach objective validity. Mooser, ungulate doctissime, I do not think that might makes right but that it makes obligations.

    • A successfully negotiated outcome might not be ideal but would probably be better than the status quo - and the ideal might be unattainable. Negotiations need starting points. So all concerned, most especially Israel because its superior power makes it the most important potential negotiator, should say what they would consider a fair long term situation. The process of bringing the positions closer could then start.

    • Nathan is quite right about the existence of inscriptions referring to Israel (often called Omria) and to the House of David - though it’s not the easiest thing to map the events described in the Mesha Stela on to those described in Kings. Avnery’s reference to Egyptian records is not conclusive but he is entitled to say that there is little record of the ‘United Monarchy’ of David and Solomon with its golden city and glorious Temple - and not clear what was the name of the Kingdom.
      I have stood in front of the Stela though I certainly can’t read it. Whatever it is it’s rather impressive.

    • Warren Dockter, a research Fellow at Cambridge, has an article called ‘Flying in a Hurricane’ about Lawrence and Churchill. He argues that Churchill was satisfied that L had treated the King respectfully, but others question this. He also argues that L, during his time at the Colonial Office postwar, resisted Zionist influence on C. But his sympathies lay with the Arab aristocrats and definitely not with the Palestinians, of whom he spoke scornfully - Dockter says that this was because they, like the majority of Arabs, had been supportive of the Ottoman cause during the war years. It is very hard to find influential pro-Palestine voices in the West during the fateful 1920s!

    • The New Testament was available, more or less as is, though not yet officially defined, around 150 CE. At that time the Talmud was barely starting to be written, so perhaps Christianity is the oldest ‘western’ religious identity.

  • Examining 'Ten Myths about Israel', by Ilan Pappe
    • Sorry for slow reply! There is a full account of the matter in Mark Weeden ‘After the Hittites: the Kingdoms of Palistin and Karkamish’, 2013,SOAS Research Online. The greater Hittite Kingdom seems to have ceased to function around 1180, with its capital abandoned. But the southern territories continued to be organised, with a new royal line, using many of the Hittite titles, based at Karkamish with its religious centre in the temple of the Storm God at Aleppo. These seem to have called themselves ‘Kings of Palistin’ (‘Walestin’ perhaps). We don’t yet know how they related to the Philistines of the Gaza Strip, but it’s hard, for me at least, not to think that the wider area began to be called Palestine at least at this point, ie in the mid-1100s.

    • Hi, Jon - my predictive text absolutely refuses not to capitalise you - I’m probably trying to re-recruit readers for my 2013 essay here on ‘Palestine’. I mentioned there I. Finkelstein’s essay on the expansion of Yehud., an ongoing process which at the time when the Romans became interested in the area - the ‘line in the sand’ incident was in 168 BCE - had surely not yet made ‘Judaea’ normal for the whole of Palestine. My saying that the Romans favoured their Hasmonean and Herodian allies refers to the period when ‘the Kingdom of the Jews’ was not a province but a nominally and to some extent really independent entity with a strong military force. I think we easily forget how precarious the Roman position in the ME was and for how long - and how essential local supporters were to its survival. Maybe you take a different view but I think that mine is quite plausible overall!

    • Let me dissent from the ‘scholarly consensus’ - if there is one, I certainly don’t think that there is - behind the idea that it was the Romans who gave the land the name of Palestine - at least unless words are being used in an odd and special way. The Romans may have been the first tax-collecting sovereign power to apply that name to the whole of Palestine in official documents or coins, but names a) can be given (in the normal use of words) by less official processes and b) can be given by official processes to areas not exactly corresponding to classical Palestine, but still significant for its history.
      As an official name for a subset of later Palestine - maybe at that point just the Gaza Strip - it appears in the Adad-nirari inscription of around 800 BCE. But that usage was quite likely a survival of the neo-Hittite ‘Palestin’ terminology of earlier centuries, which would have applied to a much bigger area.
      As a name in international use, applying to more or less the whole territory, it appears c. 450 BCE, long before the Romans were even ‘a cloud in the West’, in Herodotus, who uses it about six times and is echoed by Aristotle and others. ‘Palestine’ is really the only properly attested name for Palestine as a whole from pre-Roman times. What the Romans must have done, I think, was to give currency to the clearly untraditional and inappropriate (for the whole of Palestine) ‘Judaea’ or ‘Kingdom of the Jews’, thus pleasing their Hasmonean and Herodian allies - key allies for a time - who had run a very successful expansionist policy from Jerusalem.
      The older traditional names Canaan and Omria were becoming antiquarian or being forgotten, Canaan retreating to Lebanon and the House of Omri and its unauthorised shrines having little reputation left as the mighty Books of Kings swept over the Jewish and Greek reading public.

  • Netanyahu has taken a wrecking ball to Israel's favorability ratings among Democrats
    • Thanks for that interesting reference, Mayhem. It does look as if the neutralists have been coming off the fence pretty steadily since their high point in 97, clearly about 2 coming down on your side for every 1 on ours. The Gallup commentary mentions the religious factor. Our lot are gaining mainly among students, it would seem. I have sometimes mentioned Thurber’s ‘the night is dark and getting darker, the road is long and getting longer’. But sometimes there are a few signs of dawn.

    • The Pew figures might indeed suggest that the Palestinians’ best bet is to dissociate themselves from Trump and cultivate the support that appears to be coming their way from the Democrat side. But that best bet is still a very bad bet, as the news reported here from New Orleans about the latest triumph of Israeli propaganda in very Democrat territory. A great deal of that apparent support is only the mirage endlessly created by the liberal Zionists, who exist to be agonised. They are really part of the mighty Israeli system, not a weakness in it. Things have gone our way to some extent, there is no denying, but mainly in the semi-closed world of universities and nowhere yet or hardly anywhere in the mainstream Western political world. I’m not very convinced by those who see cracks in the Israeli position and are counting down to the day when justice will prevail.

  • Palestinian legislators are 'dragged out' of Knesset as Pence promises embassy will move in 2019
    • Meron Rapoport. MIddle East Eye Nov.26. 2016. has a sensible report on the blame attached to Palestinians for the forest fires in Israel around that time. This sort of talk is bound to get a further lease of life in rumour and fear-mongering. I'm sure that there is no significant Palestinian group adding credence to these rumours by making systematic threats of terrorism against trees. which would indeed be pretty damn stupid.

  • Abbas's crime was saying that Zionism is a colonial project
    • I don’t see how anyone can doubt that the Zionist project was to colonise Palestine from outside with people who lived elsewhere - what else? This fact does not prove that Z was wrong: many thought that it was in the interests of all concerned and of the whole world in the spirit of Altneuland and Daniel Deronda. But it was a project about a colony.

  • Israel as a perversion of Judaism and the modern nation-state
    • Thanks indeed, Yitzchak, for reading my 2013 essay, even sceptically! I must admit that you make a true point. Goliath (I'm not saying he was with conviction that he was a historical character) is certainly represented as a Palestinian. Several scholars have linked his name with Indo-E names from Lydia and Caria. 'Alyattes; still seems to be the favourite, though it is disputed as all these things tend to be. It was quite a multicultural encounter, seeing that David was of Moabite descent, by some standards (Deuteronomy 23:3) not an Isrealite at all.

  • Once again, 'NYT' says Judaism = Zionism
    • I would like to think (which is not much of an argument, I agree) that those forms of Judaism and of Christianity that do imply Z are inauthentic

  • Braying donkeys
    • Have we anything to go on except the HaAretz report? Th.e individual remarks are sometimes hard to follow and span a puzzling length of time. However, we do seem to have a discussion in which the Israeli leadership considers. in rather cool terms on the whole, keeping Palestinians in a subservient state: a rather horribly pragmatic calm pervades this discussion of a rather outrageous thing. Well, the excerpts may be misleading. I would have interpreted BG's remark, which in its English rendering is quite cryptic, as saying, rather flippantly, that the Palestinians (as he would not have called them) are used to a subordinate and slightly servile existence, are being treated well by their own standards and so are reasonably content with what Israel imposes on them. To my mind, that is a little racist.

  • What's wrong with colonialism?
    • I still ask what moral effect, even relevance, the presence of ancestors has, at least by itself, in justifying actions which are, by the argument under discussion, equivalent to rape. I don’t think I’ve been answered. I think provisionally that the relevance is nil: I see no connection with any normal moral principles - if there is an argument that I’m missing it hasn’t even been outlined. I would say the same, in reply to jon, about reference to ancestry in attempted justification of terrorism or other atrocity.
      More generally, I think that ancestry has only limited relevance to human rights. I am sure that many Jewish people and many others have ancestors who were born in Palestine. Probably got several myself. This fact gives no rights to anyone unless there is some number or proportion or period of history or circumstances of arriving or leaving that makes all the difference. But I cannot see any serious argument to any such effect.

    • How can one possibly argue that an act morally equivalent to rape is mitigated by the fact that the perpetrators had ancestors in the area?

    • To say that something is wrong is to define what a better situation would be like, ie one in which the wrongful elements were absent. But we should not confuse an idea of a better situation with a plan to bring that better situation about, which is another matter.
      My understanding of Avigail (some of whose views of colonialism I don’t fully share) is that she answers the question of ‘what is wrong with steady elimination of a culture?’ by saying ‘it’s just like continual rape’. The better situation therefore would be one where force and contempt were replaced with cooperation and respect, which does imply equal rights, which in turn implies the end of Palestinian disfranchisement. It is objected that the Palestinians will not consider this possible unless the Jewish population is massively reduced in numbers and cultural power with, as it were, the rapists raped. But we cannot for ever refrain from trying to help or rescue victims by the fear that they will turn into victimisers. Avigail comes from a therapeutic point of view, so she doesn’t despair of finding a positive way.

  • Facing serious damage to its image, Israel must smear its critics as anti-Semites
    • Corbyn has been very strict in enforcing the anti-anti- Semitism policy, if that is what it should be called. No mercy, no common sense even, at least until the receipt of undue apologies, for Naz Shah MP, who had transmitted a minor pleasantry from Norman Finkelstein. I don’t believe a Corbyn givernment would take a very strong line on Palestine.

  • What MLK's 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' tells us about Ahed Tamimi in a cold Israeli cell

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