Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 859 (since 2011-04-03 12:15:19)

Retired literary agent now living in southern Spain.

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  • As Kerry and UN press on occupation, Netanyahu sees a 'diplomatic assault'
    • Obama has certainly been sending signals to Europe. For some time the DOS response to questions about Israel's actions has been that the issue is not up to the US alone, that there are many other countries involved. What is that if not a nod and a wink? Of course, Obama can't do anything directly against Israel but he can certainly stand by while others do. It has long been inhibiting pressure on US allies that allowed Israel to act as it has been doing. Once the pressure is released the Europeans become free to respond in their own way and recent Parliamentary votes show clearly what that is. Many call these debates 'symbolic' but they are not symbolic, they are an integral part of European parliamentary systems and date from Roman times when the senate might debate an issue that would be recorded but would not take effect. The process was called auctoritas, the purpose being to declare the will of the senate that something be done.

    • The US, Israel's closest ally, has consistently used its UN veto power to block moves it sees as anti-Israel, but US officials said they drew a distinction between a unilateral step, and an effort to draw up a multilateral resolution at the UN Security Council, which would have the backing of many nations.

      link to aljazeera.com

    • Thanks for the cogent update. Curious how US diplomatic concerns have insensibly switched from safeguarding Israel to safeguarding its own reputation.

  • Palestinian minister dies after Israeli army assault during olive tree planting ceremony in West Bank village
    • It may not happen, but just imagine because of outrages such as this the situation evolved to the point the US could abstain in the Security Council vote. Worth waiting for.

    • Annie, I think he's biding his time. Consider how things have moved pro-Palestine/anti-Israel even in the last couple of months. Every day Abbas is closer to the target. He only has one peaceful trump to play and he is old. That pink cloud the other day about the US discussing sanctions against Israel, which was fiercely but not categorically denied, may well have been about European sanctions. I have a hunch Obama has been prodding Europeans to act independently for some time and Abbas is in the loop and biding his time until the moment is right. Any day now...

    • Fair enough, but where is the bus going? At what point do they all get off and go their own ways? And if they are inclined to cooperate, what threat or common purpose do they feel they face? Could they be motivated by anti-Americanism? Sooner of later Israel is going stay out all night having promised to be home by twelve.

    • I begin to get, not just outraged and disgusted, but fearful. These people display the symptoms of religious intoxication, and there are many examples of how dangerous that can be. Monotheists are particularly prone to this kind of dementia because their belief structure has no flexibility, nothing between them and their deity. Polytheists, like the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia, the Greeks, Egyptians and so on can project much of life's vicissitudes onto a variety of deities including Destiny and Fate, the one unalterable and the other unpredictable; this provides them a sort of safety valve. Islam has its prophets, and even Christianity mollified its monotheist austerity by introducing Saints and angels for the masses, and a Trinity for those of a more metaphysical bent. The fact that Israel is armed to the teeth with weapons capable of bringing life on Earth to an end is, it seems to me, in the same category as ISIL precisely because of its total absence of flexibility. There are stories that Israel is assisting ISIL fighters and providing hospitalisation for their wounded. Birds of a feather?

    • Any passage from one event to another must necessarily pass through all the intervening moments. If the soldiers had not sought to prevent Palestinians peacefully planting olive trees on Palestinian land the Palestinian minister would be alive today.

  • Mamdani's 'holistic' challenge: Anti-Zionists must persuade Jews they can only be safe by dismantling the Jewish state
    • Comparing Israel and South Africa overlooks one fundamental difference. South Africa was a clearly defined geographical area and all the inhabitants, whatever their colour, were South Africans. Though mirrored elsewhere their apartheid was an entirely local struggle. Israel on the other hand is acting outside its borders and outside international law. BDS seeks for Israel to vacate Palestine. The safety or otherwise of Jews is an entirely separate issue. The US has sworn to protect Israel's security and I can imagine no scenario where that promise would not be kept. The simple fact is that Israel has no intention of vacating Palestine and that is why we need BDS. Once its purpose is achieved, all sorts of political agreements are possible and perhaps future generations will have an open border with free passage for everyone and everything. But first things first. Israel non legibus solutus est.*

      *Israel is not above the law.

  • Israel has no answer to BDS, Barghouti tells packed hall at Columbia
    • Just calls me kind- hearted, alas it is not so; my concern, I can see it coming, is the propaganda they will make from the evacuations, the media they have with which to promote it and the compromises, practical and emotional, they may ring from it. That's why the UN or some other international body should address this issue with a pre-emptive plan.

    • Annie and Mooser, I am sorry. I was precisely asking about what will happen to the settlers, and I meant that I hadn't expressed myself in the tones of the quote entirely accurately pasted by Mooser, I was eight. It was adults I heard expressing themselves that way. My stepfather was Managing Editor of a major UK media group and on several government committees, our house was always filled with politicians, artists and media people and they discussed everything and talked their heads off. My main duty was mixing dry Martini so I listened a lot. What disturbs me, and it isn't meliorated by some of the comments here. is the prospect of hundreds of thousands of settlers displaced from their illegal settlements and abandoned to their own devices. It doesn't matter how horrid they are, it should be possible to anticipate such an eventuality and plan for it. Susan asked me what my solution would be and, perhaps foolishly, I suggested Israel found a daughter colony somewhere. This is what the Greeks and others did all over the place, the founding city remained the mother-state (μητρόπολις , mother+city, from which we get the word metropolis) and the bonds were as close as the word suggests.

    • Mooser, I assure you it's not the way I put it. I was eight, too young to have opinions. But it's the way I remember people talking. In the local Regal cinema I had seen the Pathé News pictures of the opening of the concentration camps when they were that week's news, and the images are burned into my consciousness. What do you expect, 60 million had died including my 19 year old brother and an uncle burned so bad he had lost an eye and all his hair and his skin looked like red porridge. People had other things on their minds. They knew something had to be done and they hoped the new Israel would be a beacon, an example of the way a nation could rise from horrors and show mankind how to live in the post war world. More fool them.

    • I am not suggesting the victims solve any problems but their own. The human race has to determine what's best to be done in these circumstance. After the war, which I am old enough to remember, it was: What on Earth are we going to do with all these Jews? And an unfortunate decision was determined. Now the same question comes round again. Why can't humanity try to find a workable solution this time, or are we going to face this millennial old problem until the seas run dry.

    • There's a whole special vocabulary employed in these statements. Like the difference between a 'military take over' and a 'coup', as in Egypt, because a coup automatically restricts arms deals and take over doesn't. Sanctions won't effect Israel's security. The issues sanctions would address are not even in Israel. BDS didn't undermine South African security, the two are quite separate and Israelis know it. It worries them.

    • Susan, I simply hope the cycle stops and it seems to me more likely if some responsible group has considered the post occupation logistics. As for a solution, if it were my decision I would have Israel found a colony somewhere in South America or Africa and people it with its excess population. It's what peoples have done since the beginning of time.

    • Just, Of course I accept the BDS is not responsible for settlers, BDS is a tool, an evolved form of ostracisation. At least, from your reply, I understand that you at any rate don't expect the settlers to be able to wangle some sort of compromise. The US certainly appears to, why else do they keep rabbiting on about negotiations when the only thing I see needs negotiation is a time frame for evacuation.

    • No, no. You are washing your hands of it all. If the BDS succeeds then it must have an answer for this, a coherent pre-planned workable answer. Obviously worked out with Israel but a humanitarian responsibility of everyone. What we don't want, surely, is to see weeping and wailing settler women holding up their babies to CNN cameras, tears streaming down their distorted faced, Even if we accept that it is Israel's problem we must be assured Israel takes it seriously and doesn't just let the proverbial hit the fan.

    • What I have long wanted to know is what exactly will happen to the vast number of illegal settlers? I know the BDS movement wants Israel ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967... but has anyone considered where the settlers are to go and by what means persuaded to vacate their illegal settlements? The greater the success of BDS the larger this issue looms. I have long suspected that many Jews subscribe to a vaguely defined notion that the Palestinians will be happy to share their land with hundreds of thousands of residual colonists. But Barghouti seems pretty clear about the right of return and that has to be return to their own lands and homes. I don't suppose anyone wants to see them treated as the Palestinians were/are treated and driven forth at gun point. It's one thing for Jordan and other Arab states to accept, however reluctantly, waves of dispossessed Palestinians, but Jewish settlers? Unless this issue is faced I see one ghastly humanitarian disaster simply replaced by another.

  • A defensive Netanyahu announces elections hours after firing opposition members Lapid and Livni
    • Off topic, but in addition to the Belgium vote recommending their government recognise the State of Palestine, we had the UN General Assembly calling on Israel to join the NPT. The full report of the meeting is here:

      link to un.org

      I just spent a while doing a ‘find’ on ‘Israel’ to see exactly how and with whom it voted one each of the numerous issues and found it highly illuminating, well worth the few minutes it takes. Here's one item makes you wonder.

      Next, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution on the Prevention of an arms race in outer space (A/69/438 [L.3/Rev.1]) by a recorded vote of 178 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (Israel, United States)

    • It may be a bigger job than one would think. These things come off the shelf and this one may simply not offer an edit button. A bit like buying a suit without a waistcoat. Should have thought of it before.

  • Israel has always been crazy
  • Activists block Jericho road to protest East Jerusalem land grab
    • @ivri You miss an important point. I used the adjective tectonic because the shift is deep and structural. Israel is like a house of cards and all the webs you refer to cannot hold it up once it starts to fall. Almost everything Israel does encourages attitudes of negativity, attitudes that in most cases have little or nothing to do with Palestinians but arise more broadly from what people see as arrogant defiance of moral norms and international law. Back in October Miriam Margolyes, interviewed for the Radio Times, said inter alia
      I don’t think people like Jews. They never have. English literature, my great love, is full of greasy and treacherous Jews. ... Antisemitism is horrible and can’t be defended, but Israel is stupid for allowing people to vent it. link to radiotimes.com

      That people may not much like Jews is not the same as anti-Semitism, rather something closer to disaffection. But put in a shaker with increasing negativity towards Israel and you have an environment in which anti-Semitic attitudes may not attract automatic odium so much as something between disapproval and shoulder shrugging indifference. If you have ever seen the film Chariots of Fire you will know what I mean.

      As for your dismissal of PressTV, it was simply the first place I found the item. Look here if it makes you feel more comfortable: link to israelhayom.com

    • Absolutely, Annie. I hope we get to a point where the US alone vetoes the Arab League proposals. You can bet Vitaly Churkin will have a field day and we'll see Putin back on his charger as a champion of human rights and international law. It's often thought that nothing is really changing or things are getting worse, but a tectonic shift is building up in the background and this UN business may well set it off. Meanwhile the tensions within Israel are also escalating. I caught an extraordinary example of this a few hours ago. link to presstv.ir . I thought it a bit over the top at first until I realised the 'victims' were opponents of Netanyahu's racist plans.

  • Palestinian flag is an 'enemy' flag-- Netanyahu's latest crackdown
  • Muslims' beliefs are 'untrue' and 'ridiculous,' 'Salon' author says, offering support for Maher's intolerance
    • So each outward thing derives from an inward reality. Just like objects of the physical world and Socratic forms. Awe inspiring.

  • Yad Vashem
    • Thank you for a courageous account. Emotional responses to Yad Vashem can be multi-layered. I found the architecture itself, it's layout and construction confusing and oppressive, something I felt must be specifically for Jews, and that made me feel uncomfortable like I was intruding on someone's private grief so I left after barely ten minutes and wandered back to my taxi. It was February 1971. The young Israeli driver was immersed in a book and clearly surprised to see me back so soon. To avoid discussing the monument, I asked him about his book and he said he was reading up on the 'history and geography of our new territories'. That reply melded with my recent experience and for a moment I felt a cold dark premonition. I still felt it a bit when I got back to my hotel where I found an invitation to attend a dinner with Golda Meir. Almost without thought I composed a polite reply with my apologies, and felt better.

  • Why I confronted Gregor Gysi
    • just, The Bundestag building belongs to the German people; it is a national symbol of their democracy, a place to be respected, not a place for this kind of behaviour, which has the potential to reflect badly, and not perhaps only on him. C'est tout.

    • I may be wrong, but doesn't he claim he is 'potentially banned'? To me that means some perfectly understandable process has been, or may be, initiated to examine the circumstances surrounding these undignified events, and such a process might result in a banning from the premises. The unsavoury attacks the man and his family suffer in Israel are not the responsibility of the Bundestag and can be no justification for chasing a member of the German parliament into a Bundestag rest room while belabouring him in a foreign (English) language. I imagine such an event would result in an inquiry in any civilised country, particularly in a case where instead of apologising to those responsible for public order in the premises he publicises his version of the event on You Tube. I sympathise with his predicament but his was not an appropriate response. In fact. regrettably, it represents the kind of behaviour that might indeed stir latent anti-Semitism.

  • ICC believes Israel may have committed war crimes in flotilla attack, but not of 'sufficient gravity' to justify formal investigation
    • The Prosecutor is probably right, and in any event she has quite pointedly left the door open. She has obviously studied the matter closely and must understand full well its implications and significance. An ICC investigation would probably need to consider the incident in isolation, a particular group of Israelis involved in particular events at a particular place and time. Questioning whether this is a matter of sufficient gravity for a full ICC investigation seems fair, and deciding that it is not in no way mitigates Israeli actions. When the PA joins the ICC and raises Protective Edge, which hundreds of millions watched in horror, is surely the time to go for the jugular.

  • 'Take your Ebola ass and get out': L.A. confrontation highlights relationship between Zionism and anti-black racism
    • The anti-Palestinian and anti-black racism festering in these Israel supporters also manifests itself in a virulent Islamophobia. They presumably know that there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, but use the racialization of Islam to present themselves as brave warriors, combating “radical Islam”—this phrase, of course, meant, through this series of connections, to refer to the Palestinian people.

      I have referred to this phenomenon elsewhere. It's insidious and particularly dangerous when adopted by the less less well informed seeking a simple, immediate way of relating to the IP issue. This particularly applies to inhabitants of countries like China who fear potential threats from terrorist groups and can encouraged to imagine them inspired by groups 'like Hamas'. The connection is invalid, of course. but it is beliefs not truth that determine attitudes and actions.

  • Sh*tstirring Jeffrey Goldberg dumps diplomatic sh*tstorm with 'chickensh*t' quote
    • The pejorative is authoritative and dismissive and could only come from someone to whom the word comes easily. Look for someone 'senior' who talks in that off the cuff, speak first think later, way. Biden is certainly a candidate. In which case it was likely the spontaneous expression of a more general view that many hold but avoid expressing openly. Anyway the comment has taken flight, will get a thumbs up and a smile all round, and no amount ofapology will get it back in its cage.

  • Israeli army kills 14-year old Palestinian with U.S. citizenship
    • Annie and American, A military solution is certainly the quickest way to respond but it is not going to happen. It's fine to dream about it but it's like dreaming of a lottery win. It is unfortunate but the only way out of this grotesque and horrifying mess is step by careful step. No Western power is going to start bombing Israel. Abbas has, I understand, seven of the nine votes needed to put his pitch to the Security Council. When he has two more he will do it. A veto would look very bad for the US. The US is powerful but this situation is a festering PR wound and undermining US standing more or less everywhere. You cannot imagine Obama is happy with the situation and not intent on solving it. Americans can help by lobbying their representatives either to end the subsidies to Israel or subject them to detailed public scrutiny. This is not a problem liberal Jews can solve alone. Who knows how long it will take or how many more will be martyred before it is solved, but I would guess quite a while and quite a few. Israel has to be persuaded to withdraw from all the occupied territories. This demands two prongs, Law and BDS. US support for Israel is not ideological, ideology doesn't come into US foreign policy. Once some other means (Iran?) of securing US influence in the ME is in place support for Israel will retreat like an ebbing tide.

    • @American, The solution must be found by legal means, supported by BDS, and global public pressure on democratically elected legislators. Resorting to guns and bombs would be disastrous. Our world needs urgently to find some way to deal with global crises and enforce moral norms, and it may be the resolution of this particular situation will provide the model. But it has to work, it cannot afford to fail. Each one of these actions, particularly when the victims are children, strengthens opposition to Israel's occupation among the ideologically minded, and they are covered much more widely than Americans may realize, even the Chinese media covers some, albeit in a dispassionate manner. The galvanizing of international support, however, has at all costs to avoid the issue becoming militarized or one in which Israel can be interpreted by some as acting against Muslim terrorism. There are nations with substantial Muslim populations who are quite capable of seeing it that way. This, I believe, is why Hamas and others should be very quiet and let the Abbas' approach to the UN, and the BDS movement play through. The first is a purely legal path, while the other is moral and ideological; and neither has anything to do with terrorism, ethnicity or religion. And that's the way it should be.

  • 'Village on the volcano' is latest effort to change the subject from the occupation
    • The business of burying Israel/Palestine in a broader anti Arab terrorists picture so that Israel is the good guy facing off terrorists is clever and dangerous but not new. Back in July in The Diplomat had a piece about China vis a vis Israel with this paragraph.

      By contrast, the group that supports Israel argues that the terrorist threats faced by China are controlled and implemented by extremist groups like Hamas. They believe such extremist groups are connected to Chinese terror cells, and may be responsible for luring in a small number of Chinese Muslims. They argue that Israel’s intense attack on this group will help China’s own fight against terrorism.

      link to thediplomat.com

  • Israeli president's diagnosis -- 'Israel is a sick society' -- doesn't go viral in the U.S.
    • It's unimportant to outsiders, like me, how many Jewish people support or reject this or that aspect of Israeli behaviour or what they think about Israeli society, and there is no particular reason why any aspect of either should become 'viral' anywhere but in Israel itself and among committed cognoscenti. All who support a state for Jewish people on what is someone else's land fall broadly into the same objective category. Israel was designated an area by the UN and as far as most of the world is concerned that is all there is to it; the principle Palestinian BDS demand is that Israel withdraw from all occupied land. The only 'negotiation' necessary to achieve that would seem to be over a practical and humanitarian time-scale. As I understand it, this is the path on which Abbas and others are embarking via the UN, and it has nothing to do with the actions of the IDF, the settlers, or rockets from Gaza. The brutality and ugliness are not the reasons for ending the occupation. The reason is it is illegal and conducted in defiance of international laws, and if Israel disagrees with that then the UN is the place for their legal experts to rehearse their opinions; slaughtering people by the thousand in full view of the world's media shouldn't effect any UN decisions, but can hardly be expected to help Israeli arguments. Charges of antisemitism are similarly irrelevant. Appearances are reality today, and Israel's appearance is steadily worsening while many of those who have adopted ambiguous attitudes in the past are now feeling the need for a bit of window dressing, which I imagine was behind the recent Gaza reconstruction meeting in Cairo, as is Kerry's 'situation unsustainable' comment. I wouldn't go so far as to say President Rivlin's statement is in that category but it is in sympathy with it. There will be more, it's what happens in the interstices of any progressive development, and as with cracks extending in a dam there comes the point when the dam is beyond saving and those too close make sensible decisions.

  • As Kerry scrambles to prevent Palestinian action at UN, Israeli govt makes clear it will never accept Palestinian state
    • Is Kerry really scrambling to prevent Palestinian UN action, or is he just pretending to? Also, is the Palestinian stall the result of pressure from Kerry or could it be a pragmatic response to Sweden's recent vote, so swiftly followed by the UK debate, and Spain, Ireland, and probably soon France stirring to move in the same direction. Each one of these national debates is widely covered and rehearses again and again Israel's inhuman behaviour. Two days ago I caught an item on the Japanese news program, NHK, which included an interview with June Kunugi, UNICEF special representative in the State of Palestine, who was in Gaza both during and after the attacks, her account of the effect of the bloodbath on the children was scarcely to be watched. She described how they cling to their parents, shake if left alone, can't go alone to the toilet, wet their beds, are totally traumatised and disorientated. Her account was given in a half screen with the other side showing film of devastated classrooms and hospitalised children with appalling wounds. A storm is brewing and in the few weeks of the stall how many more significant nations will have got off the fence and voted to recognise the State of Palestine.

  • British Parliament sends a message to Obama: the people see Israel as a 'bully'
    • I am overwhelmed with admiration for the effort Phil has put into this comprehensive coverage.

      The general use of the word 'symbolic' is unfortunate. The word means something standing in for something else. The debate was not 'symbolic' since it was exactly what it was. Debates of this kind are an integral part of the UK parliamentary process and that word demeans it by implying that it was not really what it was.

      First we had the White House criticizing Israel in a forthright manner and making the point that it’s not just the United States, it’s the international community who will respond strongly to this kind of continued activity.

      That opened the stable door: Sweden, the UK, France* ...and looming ahead the UN (did you see this)
      link to france24.com

      *Yesterday “From the moment that we say there must be two states (Israel and Palestine), there will be a need for recognition of the Palestinian state, that goes without saying,”Laurant  Fabius told the French lower house (National Assembly) on Tuesday, as quoted by AFP.

      I also feel doubtful about a two state solution because I don't trust Israel. But it would be the world's foster child and, who knows, future generations of Jews may well be prepared to look to peaceful accord their neighbours.

  • Deconstructing John Kerry's address to the Gaza Donors Conference
    • American, Having read the article and your two links, my feeling is that the whole thing is a cosmetic exercise in anticipation of the PA's threatened UN move. Kerry and Israel look like ruffians putting on a clean shirt and tie before facing the judge.

  • British Parliament votes overwhelmingly to recognize Palestinian state
    • 'Non-binding' is the correct term, 'symbolic' is journalism. 275 supporters represents 95.8% of those present and 42.15% of all members of the UK parliament. Netanyahu should put that in his pipe and smoke it.

    • @pabelmont, The sense of being fooled is a compelling eye opener. Most of Ottaway's generation (I am somewhat older) were deeply affected in the aftermath of WWII which killed 2.5% of the human population and left the UK with rationing that didn't end until 1954 and a debt of over a thousand million pounds to the US not finally paid off until 2006. The overwhelming feeling then was that there had to be another way. Israel offered hope, a singularly oppressed people starting a new life from scratch in a new nation would surely show the world how it could be done. The disillusion was slow to spread. Rather like Obama's peace purposes, we are ever reluctant to face the fact some real hope was all wishful thinking and we were fooled. Most who had those dreams are now dead, some like Ottaway (born in 1945) and me (1937) inherited them ready formed and it has taken a while to discard them. I lost mine on a visit in 1971 when I found there were Arab Jews who were not provided equal education and housing with others, and their young men were in consequence forming anarchic gangs. I asked Teddy Kollek about them and his response was far from sympathetic. It was snowing in Jerusalem that day and I remember walking from the King David in a sadly contemplative state. I visited a kibbutz near Jericho and, although I am doubtful about such socialistic experiments, what really gave me pause was that the main source of income there was long stemmed roses grown for Manhattan flower markets. Later, after a visit to Yad Vasham, I found my driver engrossed in a book which he told me was all about 'the history and geography of our new territories'. Bear with Richard Ottaway, he has been stripped of a big chunk of his life.

  • British Parliament to vote on recognition of Palestinian state on Monday
    • I have never really understood this negotiating business. Israel should retire within its 1967 borders. This is certainly what the Palestinian BDS movement seeks to achieve. The only thing I can see for negotiation is an humane time scale for the removal of Israeli's illegal settlers. Once that is achieved there is no reason why, over time, the two states should not enter into any number of agreements to their mutual interest and benefit. Anyway the debate starts in less than three hours so we'll keep keep our fingers crossed.

  • Israel and the g-word
  • American airstrikes and the universal 'language of force'
    • Rationality is having the ability to reason. It is a tool, not a dogma. Like mathematics or chemistry It has a lot of uses but is not of itself any guarantee of moral or any other behaviour.

  • The Titanic of the occupation -- SodaStream (Update)
    • the scarlett effect on the company this year. Also, Annie, the future effect on her as a brand ambassador; even a company as pure as driven snow is hardly likely to want to re-visit that can of worms. Salutary also for other celebrities tempted to hire themselves to Israeli companies.

  • Where is the antiwar movement?
    • My perspective.

      The US is determined to control the Middle East come what may by any means necessary. This involves peopling it with subservient puppet rulers (like Egypt) or leaving it in political, social and infrastructural chaos (like Iraq). Anti-war activities are responses to the methods employed rather than the purposes. Paint the 'enemy' brutal enough, and dilute opposition to the relatively anonymous areas of remote bombing and drone assassinations and you keep war itself largely off the agenda, particularly if you co-opt others and conceal your real purpose behind veils of humanitarian/democratic mantra, and, of course, have the media in your pocket. Zionism is a parasite on US ambition in the area. Syria is the primary current target and might well have been subdued before now but for Russia's chemical weapon disarmament finesse. This time round the US first largely eliminated Russia from the game by tying her up it in the Ukraine diversion; but now it's back to business.

  • Israeli rightists wave ISIS-style flags in protest of African asylum-seekers
    • I see that several hundred anthropologists have joined the call for academic boycott, which is odd in a way as one might have imagined Israelis a perfect study for that speciality. link to presstv.ir

  • Read the genocidal sermon a notable Atlanta rabbi gave this Rosh Hashanah
    • PS I prefer to confine myself to mild distaste for split infinitives.

    • How can Muslims be expected to continually cope with these double standards? It isn't just Muslims, we all have to cope with it. I hate this business of keep dividing people into ethnic or religious groupings. That's where all this starts.

    • With all this passion flying around, it may be worth reminding ourselves of the mild words with which the Palestinian BDS movement defines its objectives:

      Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall.

      Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.

      Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.s

      and the central aspiration in the draft the Palestinians are preparing to put to the UN Security Council

      an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable state of Palestine living side by side with Israel in peace and security in borders based on those before the 1967 Mideast war.

  • Netanyahu's 'poison' -- latest settlement will distance Israel's closest allies, State Dep't warns
    • Sweden becomes the first EU country to break ranks. link to bbc.com What odds others follow?

    • There is another interesting exchange further down that briefing.
      .

      QUESTION: But based on your – this is contrary to Israel’s stated goal, you’re condemning it, you say it poisons the atmosphere and calls into question their commitment, what’s the consequence of that? Is there one? Is there any?

      MS. PSAKI: Look, I think, Matt, that it’s not just the United States, it’s the international community who will respond strongly to this kind of continued activity.(/blockquote>

      I may be reading too much into it but that seems to suggest the US may be ready to let the International community pick up the baton, which would imply that it's not going to interfere with Abbas' next steps.

      link to state.gov

  • 'Ethnic cleansing for a better world' -- Richard Cohen says Palestinians brought the Nakba on themselves
    • From these extracts it appears to be one half of a dialectical debate, the sort of thing students engage in to develop a capacity for logical argumentation by arguing an issue one way and then the opposite. It can be fun if well done but in this case, and at his age, it comes over as a self-indulgent bit of showing off, and a shade silly.

  • Modi and Netanyahu's NY bromance
    • I have experience of India. Indians try to please. They will always tell you things and act in a manner to please you now since now is their only immediate concern. When will this or that happen? Shortly, Sahib. Will it rain tomorrow? Certainly not. They always tell you what you would like to to hear. This is not a criticism but simple recognition of a cultural reality, and comforting when you get used to it.

  • 'Jews Against Genocide' take the blood bucket challenge at Yad Vashem
  • Abbas calls on UN Security Council to end the occupation
    • President Abbas' speech today included offensive characterisations that were deeply disappointing and which we reject. Jan Psaki State Department Spokesperson.

      That response encapsulates what the real problem has ever been. What Abbas has done now is shift the issue out of US hands. That's no mean achievement, and it is arguable that it could only have been accomplished after an event of the magnitude of the recent slaughter, watched before the eyes of by the entire world. That horror may prove to be a 'Twin Tower' event for Palestinians and galvanise world opinion behind them. Furthermore, whatever spokespersons may say, I would not be surprised to discover that Obama has been kept abreast of this plan and 'looked kindly on it'. After all, Abbas and others have made no secret of it, Hanan Ashrawi confirmed it in her moving interview on ABC news. link to abcnews.go.com . Events appear to be proceeding according to a definite plan and in that sense Abbas is using the ICC option.

    • Annie, the situation is evolving. Consider how different the picture is now compared with five years ago, how many have been awakened to this issue despite such a multitude of distractions. The Palestinians have been variously ousted from their land and restored to it again for 3500 years, generally because the powers that subdued them were in time subdued themselves. Why should it be different now? Abbas is a Palestinian, he has patience. So have the other Palestinians, you see it behind their pain and suffering. OK we are talking about 60 years but the US constitution was signed less than 250 years ago. That's why many Americans fail to understand people like Palestinians. and nations like Iran whose recorded history goes back 2500 years, and that only if you start with Cyrus. Patience will win. The Zionist regime will disappear, it is already a pariah and showing signs of internal decay. It simply cannot last indefinitely. If Abbas actually goes to the ICC, then the future will be much more ugly for the Israelis and particularly for the settlers. If, on the other hand, an accommodation can be reached then isn't that better? Yes, the settlers and others are deeply offensive but, like it or not, they are human. It may be romantic but would it not be preferable to achieve a change of heart, repentance, restitution and mutual forgiveness, however difficult, than retribution. I don't know Hebrew but our KIng James, Deuteronomy 32:35 has: To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.

    • For Abbas to achieve a boundary agreement and an exit schedule in a diplomatic manner is worth infinitely more than a series of long drawn out sessions at the ICC which would be retributive, sure, but would not of themselves secure an end to the occupation. The threat of the ICC is the most important, if not just about the only, bargaining tool Abbas has aside from increasing global sympathy; much more useful for that purpose than for actual implementation. Netanyahu in particular appears to have psychological characteristics that make it virtually inconceivable he would ever allow himself to be called to account in an international court. Slowly, slowly catchee monkey?

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