Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 715 (since 2011-04-03 12:15:19)

Retired literary agent now living in southern Spain.

Showing comments 715 - 701

  • Passover for Palestine
    • tokyobk, This is scarcely the place to pose such a question. If you follow a religion, approach your priest or spiritual adviser and ask there.

  • Simon Schama's Israel whitewash
    • Simon Schama has never impressed me as an historian. He is an history populist, distinguished from a true historian by being one who starts with a concept and scissors and pastes selected bits of evidence to fill it in. He is very successful and provides a good read which is his purpose, but it is not history. This is is not the place for a dissertation on what makes an historian, suffice it to suggest it is closer to what makes a good detective, someone who eschews the obvious, nags at assumptions and coaxes alternative interpretations from the evidence by exercising an ingenuity closer to the methods Poe gives Dupon in The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Schama wrote a best selling account of The French Revolution without, as he later confessed, ever having come upon the Journal d'une femme de 50 ans, readily available in English as The Memoirs of Madame de la Tour du Pin. This did not in any way affect the success of his undertaking but perhaps it illustrates the methods with which he contents himself. His work is closer to faction or the historical novel than History and needs to be viewed that way.

  • Australia opposed Palestinian UN bid because foreign policy was 'subcontracted to Jewish donors' -- report
    • MHughes, Racism (antisemitism, prejudice) may be anti-social, immoral, illegal etc., but that doesn't make it irrational. Reason is simply a thinking tool. It's dangerous to equate rationality with right and wrong; the world overflows with the bloody consequences of applying reason as an end in itself, unmitigated by compassion, humanity or guilt.

  • Distracted by the peace process: What really happened during the talks
  • Apathy in Ramallah as negotiations with Israel dive
    • Annie, I have rarely encountered such nonsense as Mayhem spouts.

      He only does it to annoy because he knows it teases

    • That last sentence, by the way, does not mean negativity, just an absence of positivity.

    • Kay24, Yes, but it's spilt milk. As demonstrated almost daily now, the European press is more balanced, which essentially means pro-Palestinian since you can't really be balanced towards law breakers. Fortunately, perhaps, not that many people involved themselves with these issues, which largely went on in the background with a lot of other noise. Now, when they begin to take an interest they come relatively open-minded and will quickly get the point. Furthermore, since I know folk here don't like me mentioning latent antisemitism, let me just say there exists no underlying affection or sympathy for Israel and its populace.

    • I think he is defining in simple terms what the world should concentrate on. 'Peace process' is too vague.

    • Brenda is quite right, I've always felt the impetus would come from Europe. What intrigues me is the suspicion that Obama has long known this and has been working towards it by gently taking his hand off the brake while no one was watching. Israel's security is a military matter and doesn't include the security of its illegal actions against a BDS onslaught. That's what Ya'alon and others have come to realise and why they are so pissed off with Kerry. Just look at the unequivocal way The Independent reported Abbas' actions a couple of days ago.

      The troubled peace process broke down this week over Israel’s failure to release a total of 104 prisoners in accordance with its commitment when the talks were launched last July. Mr Abbas responded by signing applications for Palestinian admission to 15 international treaties and conventions, something he had pledged to refrain from doing in exchange for the prisoner releases.

      link to

  • Adelson would install Netanyahu in the White House if he had his druthers -- Avnery
    • And the Treasury Department just issued licenses for Boeing and GE to sell stuff to Iran. link to

    • Apropos Iran,

      Obama has so far been resisting all sorts of pressure and temptation to take advantage of the fluid situation in the Levant to help rollback, or at least contain Iranian influence in the Middle East. He furthermore avoided doing anything that might upset rapprochement with Iran. While he was reluctant to arm the Syrian opposition fighting to topple the regime of Assad, he was quick to arm the pro-Iran al-Maliki government with state-of-the-art military technology, including the Apache attack helicopters.

      link to

  • Oren says Pollard 'sacrificed himself for the Jewish people'
    • Kay24. I think it's less what the Palestinians did than where it could lead that unnerves them. I am inclined to wonder if the Obama people are not in on this. The NYT said 'US and Israeli officials appear to have been taken by surprise', but that may simply point to their source. And Abbas could not have selected a better group of UN outfits to rock the boat while not overturning it.

    • Kay24, DOS briefing yesterday:

      QUESTION: Has there been any call from members on the Hill to suspend the aid, to follow the law?
      MS. HARF: Well, I know there’s been calls from Hill members on quite a few things. In terms of the 15 conventions the Palestinians signed, it’s our understanding that they don’t – they wouldn’t trigger the cutoffs because they’re not agencies. But again, we’re talking to the folks on the Hill.
      QUESTION: On that (inaudible), I think I had asked you about that yesterday...
      MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
      QUESTION: -- and you had said that the lawyers were reviewing it. They have now reviewed it, and that is indeed the answer?
      MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
      QUESTION: Good. Thank you.

      link to

    • American, Cultists divide into two groups, those who can't see what's before their nose, and those who can't see anything else.

    • Woody, Talking of Sheldon Adelson, I came upon a lovely piece of vitriol in my y'night's insomnia link to

    • Page: 7
  • From Portland to Portland, and Amman to Lahore, 'NYT' letter-writers are sharper than 'NYT' writers
    • What one does not want to admit is not in consequence obviated. Surely it is not necessary to say that to the people here.

    • Annie, I meant, of course, those who were the tidal wave behind the sanctions movements that finally brought about change. Obviously the victims of apartheid were less discriminating.

      Roha, In Europe, yes. Surely you can accept my point that a general awakening against Israeli activities among those who know nothing about Zionism, and likely care less, has the potential to spill over.

    • the site considers the views of Jews more important than those of Gentiles

      In a sense I think it does, and in a sense they are. Claims to represent all Jews are part of Israel's deceit. If that seems irrelevant to non-Jews it is precisely why it isn't. There are two not necessarily connected things you might ponder, the first is that all Jews share some things in common, including some things about the Holy Land, and that is something that distinguishes them. The second is that, like it or not, there is an incalculable amount of latent antisemitism in this world which Israel's activities might release, not the activities themselves which might simply provoke anti-Israeli reactions, but the deliberately obfuscated distinction between that Jew and this one. Such a danger did not exist in South Africa since no one was likely to associate all 'whites' with the South African elite, however the same is not true in this case. Think on it.

  • Let Pollard go. But first get answers from Tel Aviv
    • If Pollard were to be released, the orchestrated ballyhoo of his reception over there would likely ignite a grass roots US reaction of near nuclear proportions. Is that what Phil has in mind, I wonder, or is he just being a dear old soft-hearted soul.

  • Reports: Abbas faults Israel for 'procrastinating,' says Palestine will move to join int'l organizations
    • Yes, in another thread. Abbas is playing his hand very neatly, but we need remember the US or Israel can at any time just pull out a gun and kick the table over.

    • Very careful choices! The NYT says none of those selected actually triggers any automatic diminution of US financial aid. Have we underestimated Abbas?

    • Walid, That would make sense, probably too much sense to be likely.

    • A Palestinian official insisted that joining UN organisations did not spell the end of the talks. "We agreed to waive our right to join UN bodies in exchange for having 104 prisoners freed and Israel broke that agreement," he said. "That's why we have applied to join. But the UN isn't a threat or a substitute for negotiations. [Membership] is our right as a sovereign nation. The UN has nothing to do with the negotiations.

      link to

    • Abbas said more than once that if the prisoner release did not take place he would regard the agreement relating to the 9 month moratorium on making application to UN organizations as over, which appears to be exactly what he has done. That the ICC is not among the 15 he his applied to join would seem to leave him holding the ace of trumps. The NYT announces that his actions...appeared to catch American and Israeli officials by surprise. A reaction which, if true, would surely itself take any sane person by surprise.

      link to

  • Not an April Fool's joke: U.S. weighs releasing Pollard to keep Israelis at negotiating table
    • To me it reads like Obama leaving the party. The UN have entered the BDS fray link to and the Europeans are girding their loins. It will soon be dawn. Time for us to go home.

    • Annie, What could be true is that they have reached the end of the line and this sad excuse for a deal is genuinely all Kerry can come up with. If so, he must have been aware for some time that Abbas could never be persuaded to meet Netanyahu's demands, so at some point the priority became buffing the US image in the face of failure. Kerry, after traveling to the moon and back and burning countless tons of fuel, can scarcely be accused of having stinted his efforts, and the offer (if true) to bring even Pollard to the table clearly leaves the US no other mediating card to play against the dwindling time-scale; a noble effort, a worthy try, it can probably be made to appear.

    • If it's really not an All Fool's Day joke, I hope the paper it's printed on is suitable for some more practical application.

  • Avigdor Lieberman claims transferring Palestinian citizens is perfectly legal
    • @Hostage. The fact that there are no plans doesn't mean that there might not be. The DOS briefing (y'day) shows they wriggle endlessly from any commitment that such a possibility might not come into existence.

      QUESTION: I mean, I understand it gets brought up by the Israelis, but my question more is: Is this brought as kind of a carrot by the U.S. to get the Israelis to --
      MS. HARF: I’m not going to go into anything that’s being discussed on this or any other topic privately.

      link to

  • Is the U.S. quietly imposing travel sanctions on Israeli officials?
    • @Kay24, I imagine the answer to your question is that Israel has kept the ME from becoming an entirely Islamic, largely Arab, area, something that would not have suited post WWII US foreign policy and still wouldn't. The bought and sold members of the legislature are simply riding the freight train. Although it looks otherwise, they are probably less responsible for policy than the policy is responsible for them.

    • @Ellen. The DOS briefing for Friday last indicates a rise in Israeli visa application rejections. link to The briefing also contains the following snippet:

      I will say that, as you know, Visa Waiver Program participants are required to meet a number of statutory requirements. At this time, Israel does not comply with many of the Visa Waiver Program – it’s a mouthful – eligibility requirements. And also, reciprocal visa-free travel privileges for U.S. citizens is among the requirements for a Visa Waiver Program.

  • Now the US is trying to 'delegitimize' Israel's defense minister
    • What is fascinating about this exchange is that it is occurring at all. Matt Lee is clearly poking about, tenaciously trying to solicit something Psaki isn't going to hand him. The manner in which she ducks and dodges strongly suggests that there is indeed something to hide. What he is angling for, of course, is confirmation of some divergence and he ain't going to get it. I am sure the US unbreakable commitment to Israel's security, so frequently voiced like a penitential Hail Mary, is as solid as ever. However, the two may no longer be in perfect agreement on exactly what that covers. Once it meant the US undertaking to protect Israel against attacks and incursions from its numerous unhappy neighbours and it doubtless remains just that, unchanged and as firm as ever; it is people like Ya’alon whose perception of the threats to their security covered by the US commitment has changed, it has insensibly morphed to include protection for Zionist territorial land grabs and flagrant abuses of Palestinian and other human rights etc. Obama is happy to give them is a charge account at Van Cleef and Arpels but not a wedding ring. Ya’alon recognises this and has no inclination to pretend he doesn't. In a way, although unconscionably undiplomatic, he is being honest. These briefings rarely say anything, but the circumbendibus manner in which spokespersons avoid saying things is often highly illuminating.

  • State Dept puts American seal of approval on latest Israeli-initiated round of violence
    • These criticisms, while understandable, assume that in some way there is a flat playing field out there and the US and others go by rules. There isn't and they don't. The present nonsense with Crimea is entirely in line with the tortuous nonsense Jen Psaki utters on hosts of subjects all but daily. It might be less harmful if the State Department spokespersons were deaf mutes. On the other hand the briefings are entertaining, like watching a wily trout evade a bunch of fishers. One consolation is increasing numbers of the general public, particularly in Europe, are seeing through it. The US has lost the moral high ground, which like virginity is not recoverable, and is no longer trusted; it is becoming an embarrassing joke. The I/P kaleidoscope needs shaking. Maybe Abbas will come through on April 29.

  • Review of recent 'NYT' corrections raises doubts about paper's commitment to getting the facts right in Israel/Palestine
    • They seek one here,
      They seek one there,
      The media seek one everywhere.
      Where will they find one?
      Nobody knows
      A good dry cleaner for emperor's clothes.

  • US Homeland Security investigates Israeli arms deal to Iran
  • 'Netanyahu is a Nazi': Scenes from an Orthodox anti-military draft protest in Jerusalem
    • This glimpse into the interstices of Judaic and Islamic convictions has been fascinating. It somewhat confirms, or at least does not refute, my notion that it is monotheism rather than religion itself that disturbs human relations. I have long suspected that, far from having difficulty leaving Egypt, the Hebrews were expelled because their monotheism had become intolerable to the all powerful Egyptian priesthood, just as centuries later it became for Nero's Rome. Others may fill in the gaps. The problem with monotheism is that it lacks the safety valves of more liberal religions which allow the excesses of human conflict to be seen as reflections of tensions between the Gods, The Iliad is perhaps the best known example. But it goes further, the late 19th century historian Theodor Mommsen, who was among the first to approach historical study scientifically, wrote in his History of Rome.

      At the very core of the Latin religion there lay that profound moral impulse which leads men to bring earthly guilt and earthly punishment into relation with the world of the gods, and to view the former as a crime against the gods, and the latter as its expiation.

      The same, of course, was true of the Hellenic world. My feeling is that if you don't possess that safety valve then all conflicts must head towards human blood and tears, and the problem with monotheism boils down to an absence of that level of human compromise that seems to me essential to human harmony.

    • Just as the dox roots from doxa, belief/opinion, Ὸρθος + δοξα

  • State Dept to 'check out' vicious attack on Palestinian athletes
    • As long as Israel subjects Palestinian athletes to detention and violence, their seat at the table of international sports will be never be short of precarious.

      This may be the straw for the camel's back. I can't believe there's a single nation whose soccer authority would not join a vote to ban Israel. Moreover, since there is no meaningful distinction in this respect between one sport and another and I see no reason BDS should not, on the basis of this and other cumulative evidence, seek to have them banned from all sports, specifically the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. What they must not be allowed to do is lose this in bureaucratic obscurity, or by making scape-goats of those on the ground. The bleak Israeli 'explanation' for the outrage is itself evidence of functional complicity. What other nation wouldn't set up a public inquiry?

      I read they have intercepted an Iranian vessel bearing arms to Gaza, and found myself thinking, I don't believe that even if it's true.

  • Netanyahu mentions 'BDS' 18 times in denouncing movement and its 'gullible fellow travelers'
    • The address comes across as a pre-match pep talk to psyche the players before a match, and so much devoted to BDS implies that's the opponent's player bothers them most. It's rabble rousing stuff and he's good at that, but I'd like to see the ICC judges' expressions if anyone tries to invoke Abraham or a plenitude of high-tech customers to justify humanitarian abuses in Gaza. Fingers crossed for April 23 when the 9 month moratorium ends. That's presumably what Obama was trying to warn Netanyahu about, he isn't that sure he can be much use to them after that.

  • Cut off arms to Israel, Amnesty Int'l says, citing 22 civilians killed at protests last year
  • 'Can you tell who is an Arab?' appeal is tax-deductible
    • It’s somewhat similar to Israel accepting help from the Christian-Zionists that have the end of the Jews on their end time agenda.

      Or like the US funding Ukrainian ultra right-wing anti-Semites?

    • I remember that case. He was nice looking guy, happily married, and she determined on a bite of the apple and more or less threw herself at him.

  • Adalah founder assails myth of 'Jewish and democratic' state
    • Many of the major demands being made by the Palestinians are based on religion and religious folk-law.

      They are based on being born in the land, growing up, cultivating and living off the land, getting married and raising children there, and being buried in the land.

    • Neither you nor your arguments gain anything by insulting the Vatican.

  • Conviction rate for Israeli interrogators who use torture: 0%
    • Allison, Thank you for this. I feel we are confronting another well-pool of evil. I was 8 years old when I watched Pathe News images from the opening up of Dachau and Buchenwald. Here I am now with, give or take a few, the same number of years left before before I'm drawn back whence I came, and I find myself facing the same numbing sense of shocked disbelief; all the myriad things that have happened, and Mankind appears just the same.

  • Judis's scholarly book on Truman's decision gets the Jeffrey Goldberg treatment
    • Luke not Like. Also I don't think a 'change of heart' need be involved. Once something has happened you set about making the the best of it.

    • Truman's initial reluctance sounds like that of most thinking people at the time. The separation of Church and State is a deep-rooted 18th century ideal, one of those recently celebrated by Obama and Hollande. It fell victim to relentless importunity, nothing more. My step father was Managing Editor of a major UK media group at the time and I overheard many discussions on a range of political matters, including this. I was only 9 then but I remember making a connection between what I had overheard and the parable of the Importunate Neighbour (Like 11: 5/8) read in our school Divinity Classes.

  • 'NPR' praises Israeli assassination program in faulting US one
    • I doubt Obama looks at this issue in moral terms, except perhaps dialectically in which case he's intelligent enough to argue it either way. Of course it has to be 'legal' but that's what lawyers are for, you tell them what you want to do and it's their job to make it legal.

  • Mohammed Assaf banned from performing at FIFA World Cup
    • Annie, you mention FIFA’s invitation to Assaf. Have you any idea in what manner the invitation was originally issued? Was it a letter, for instance? I am not casting any doubts on this but sometimes organizations start by making short lists, by asking a number of artists if they would be interested/free. If he was formally invited that would be quite another matter, and there would be his formal acceptance to go with it.

  • New York Times assault on the BDS movement reinforces Israeli fears
    • If you think such a prospect fanciful, consider that we are concerned with a rich land, a spiritual focus for three great religions with but one God. Where better might He seek to unite all His children for a future that He has progressively exposed to them.

    •  We have the capacity to create new types of nationalities, of conceptions of citizenship, that could contemplate the Jewish citizen as part of this multi-ethnic state.

      This is a profound vision. It applies not only to the Holy Land but to all areas where there is cultural conflict. We all need to abandon the entire concept of nation states, which belong to an industrial past of greed and tribalism, and move towards greater cooperation. If we are able to do that we have all the scientific resources to solve any problems our world faces, if not we will doze and scrap while our environment and resources become increasingly unsuited to sustain human life,

  • Why do they hate us? Robust support (even by liberals) for ethnic cleansing
    • The US doesn't provide Israel with all those weapons for the purpose of battering the Palestinians. Israel is a US military base and its actions are sugar coated just like Bahrain's. The first of four US missile destroyers has just arrived at the Spanish naval station at Rota, presumably a piece moved on the chessboard in its stand-off with Russia. But also not that far from my peaceful Andalusian home. The US is the most ruthless and dangerous nation on earth and wont let anyone live in peace. Those who doubt that should listen to Nuland's plans for Ukraine. And some of those she is talking about are anti-Semitic fascists.

      link to

      A Palestinian man in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip has come up with a new method to light up houses and streets in his neighborhood as the Palestinian territory suffers from massive power cuts, Press TV reports.
      Hassan Saad, who is in his thirties, has launched a project to make use of expired and broken batteries to produce electricity.

      link to

      It brings tears to my eyes.

  • Student who exposed 'leftist' teacher is honored at Knesset, while teacher gets violent threats
    • I stayed in the Schlosshotel Im Grunewald in Berlin in the early 70s. It was late, I had gone to bed, but an all male dinner was finishing with this kind of singing. It was eerie.

  • Jewish groups used anti-semitism smear to try to stop boycott debate -- Holocaust scholar who heads MLA
    • Distressing as this must have been for Marianne Hirsch there is a danger, surely, in taking too seriously accusations that defy common sense and are patently absurd. Doing so gives them a dignity they simply don't justify. Such attacks on her are being
      anti-Semitic themselves by seeming to suggest that the actions addressed are in some way quintessentially related to the race, ethnicity or religious identity of Jews, else questioning them might be all sorts of things but hardly anti-Semitic.

  • Kerry's framework according to Friedman and Indyk (Updated: Abbas Weighs In)
    • It seems to me Abbas demonstrates an acute sense of what the US (rather than Netanyahu) might accept. No way would they tolerate a militarised Palestine, better be like Costa Rica and dispense with armies altogether. In any event there would be little point in having an army since it would hardly be, or be allowed to be, a threat to neighbours, or much of a deterrent for that matter; the Palestinians have always done better with attrition. The biggest trump Abbas holds is the ICC but at this particular stage it's probably more useful in his hand than on the table. I somewhat admire Abbas, not least because he is the same age as me.

  • New York Assembly pressured to reject bill targeting Israel boycotters
    • lysias, Might it not be better if the legislation passed and was then taken to court where a wooden stake could be driven into its heart?

    • To equate criticism of the Israeli state, or a boycott of Israeli institutions, with anti-Semitism is as absurd as calling criticism of or sanctions against the Iranian government anti-Muslim or anti-Persian, and as illogical as classifying criticism of the Chinese occupation of Tibet as hateful against people of Chinese ethnicity. Common sense makes clear the distinction between anti-Jewish bias (based on the race, ethnicity or religious identity of Jewish people as individuals or as a group) and criticism of Israeli institutions. The law also recognizes the distinction.

      From the Center for Constitutional Rights and the New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild letter referenced in Alex last para above.

  • Gaza residents fear another Israeli military offensive
  • New York Senate passes bill punishing ASA over Israel boycott
    • Abbas et al agreed, under whatever pressure, to hold off further application to the UN for nine months in order to play ball with 'negotiations' but the nine months period ends on April 29. What then?

  • Liberal Zionists support Scarlett Johansson-- and settlements. Why?
    • Israel is not seriously interested in the negotiations, they are using the negotiations to maintain the status quo and build more settlements.

      Riyad al-Maliki was interviewed yesterday on RT and it's worth watching because one so often feels that the Palestinian leadership has no coherent plan of action. They agreed to a nine month period to give negotiations a chance and that ends on April 29. After that date the route to the UN agencies is again open, al-Maliki also talks about an international Moscow conference. While it is true that more settlements are being built it is also true that Israel is being further isolated by the day, and settlements can be removed but the searchlight cast on Israel is cumulative and unrelieved by any acceptable justification for what they are demanding.

  • 'I will not uproot a single Israeli' settler, Netanyahu says, and Washington Post backs him up
    • I have just now been listening to Riyad Al-Maliki the Palestinian Foreign Minister interviewed on RT He was coherent and rational and clearly does not believe such decisions are up to Netanyahu. It is understandable that Netanyahu wouldn't agree, but he is not Israel and the decision anyway is one for the international community. Why else do we support BDS?

    • If Netanyahu is determined not to evacuate settlements or uproot settlers, then there would appear to be only two possibilities. Either he must be replaced by someone who will or they will be taken away while he stamps his feet and screams.

  • Deconstructing Scarlett Johansson’s statement on SodaStream
    • Seafold, Also they sense evil.

    • seafoid, Not perhaps a moron, just feather-brained. She can't have had the faintest idea what she was getting herself into. But you are right, it's excellent for the cause because it wakes people up and when they wake they see. For now many 'goys' believe what they have been told but their belief is like a T-shirt, just as treasured and just as readily replaced.

    • Walid, Sorry, missed that. However, she is unlikely to be making any ambassadorial journeys for Oxfam and she will probably be dropped by Sodastream and become less appealing elsewhere, not for anything she has done or said but simply because of the baggage she now carries. You can just hear the vox pop: Isn't she the one who was promoting the occupation of Gaza or something?

    • This has really only just broken and an organisation like Oxfam will need time to respond. My guess is she won't be doing any promotional appearances for them again. Sodastream is a hard-nosed, profit motivated outfit with an eye on every cent so I don't see her staying long there either.

      Sodastream does not sell their CO2 canisters to consumers, but lends them and expressly limits how they can be used in their User License Certificate. These mechanisms effectively elevate the cost of refilling a tank to 10 to 20 times the going market rate.

      link to

      Let's hope for her sake she learns it's not enough to be feather-brained.

  • NY Mayor tells AIPAC: 'Part of my job description is to be a defender of Israel'
    • Truckle is a word with a long etymological history, it derives from the Greek and conveys the idea of 'sliding', more latterly 'sliding underneath'.

  • Israel's UN ambassador catches flak in Upper West Side synagogue
    • @Pablemont. I have often wondered if the settlers are in a certain sense a buffer and could be sacrificed should practical pressures push Israel beck to its proper borders.

  • Undermining Kerry, Democratic Rep Engel says West Bank is Israel
    • Abraham scratches the surface. The negotiations will not get anywhere and the US will disengage from further efforts, the buck passing to the UN and others where it should have been all along. I take this to be the unfolding of Obama's Newman/Redford style sting on Netanyahu.

      Yesterday Ban Ki-moon invited Iran to join the Syrian peace conference starting Wednesday, and today Iran begins implementing its obligations under last year's nuclear deal, its assets will shortly start defrosting and Tehran is even now abuzz with CEOs and lesser mortals jockeying for bits of the imminent action. None of this can help Netanyahu sleep nights and although I know little of Israeli politics I can't see it adding strength to his coalition either. With Iran rehabilitated and exercising helpful roles in neighboring nations, the US has little further use for Israel, and AIPAC will be sidelined. Congress can continue to throw money over there, at least until the US public decides enough is enough, and when at last the UN does roll up its sleeves and gets to grips with the situation, Palestine will be integrated further into the UN, BDS will be ever more formidable, Israel could be led by Lieberman, the Zionist's own home-grown Ahmadinejad, and Obama ready to retire with laurels.

  • Why Americans must see 'When I Saw You'
    • @Samud. Thanks. Found it. Ordered it. €24 to Spain.

    • The reason the review is dismaying may simply be that the reviewer was bored, not by the film itself of course, but by being required to review it. It doesn't lend itself to the linguistic elegances film critics so relish in their mutual self esteem.

      Comparisons with Northern Ireland are perhaps a shade too deep. If there must be an historical parallel, perhaps the Etruscan invasion of Northern Italy that came from who knows where, started with war and dominance, dissolved into the melting pot of Rome, and vanished leaving only examples of its remarkable art and persistent echoes of its customs.

  • 'Guard the state, no surrendering to Kerry' -- right-wing Israeli campaign
    • @Bumblebye, Thanks for that. Finkelstein starts with an hypothesis, in this case The End of Palestine, then uses his not inconsiderable abilities to massage a path towards it. It's an exercise in dialectical prestidigitation and I shouldn't let it worry you.

  • Jon Stewart plays 'Let's break a deal' with AIPAC
    • Krauss, I don't believe it is quite as simple as that. Any diplomatic progress between the US and Iran will diminish Israel in the area generally and could more immediately threaten the current coalition and therefore is to be resisted by all means. Iran and Israel are like the well with two buckets, as one rises the other must descend. This is a worse prospect for Israel than an external attack because while the US and others are sworn to defend Israel's security there are no such undertakings about its reputation, and both Palestine and the UN conference on a nuclear free Middle East zone are queuing to get back on the world's agenda.

  • Eric Alterman continues to justify lack of Palestinian voices at 'The Nation'
    • ...if all debates on feminism are dominated by men then it suggests a society or magazine or TV show with a bias against women.. I fear I must support German Lefty in this matter, it suggests nothing nothing more to me than a bunch of men debating feminism. If you want a lively debate select contributors with interestingly opposing views. Pure objectivity is an abstract concept and unachievable in the real world; the closer you reach for it the more elusive it proves to be.

  • AIPAC fail: Goldberg leads, and Sen. Blumenthal climbs off the war bus
    • This situation seems to mirror what we went through last year in the days before the Iran nuclear deal; Israel, AIPAC and some US legislators one side and the rest of the world on the other. Iran is set to initiate its obligations under that agreement on Sunday and next Wednesday the Syrian conference is due to start in Montreux with only Kerry currently hesitating over Iranian participation. Last year we learned that secret discussions had been going on between Washington and Tehran for some time before the nuclear agreement and there is no reason to imagine they suddenly stopped then or that the nuclear issue was the only subject on the table. My guess is we will see identifiable progress in the resolution of the Syrian problem reflecting credit on Iran's role, which combined with IAEA confirmation of the implementation of their nuclear commitment will notch their rehabilitation up a further few points. It won't be overnight but as it proceeds global attention will be freed to concentrate on the Palestine questions and the wide calls for a nuclear free ME. Could Obama be running a sting on Netanyahu? I wouldn't put it past him.

  • Scarlett Johansson watch: SodaStream stock plunges
    • I think Dickerson3870 above hits the nail, it's a useless object and one of the first things not to buy when obliged to tighten your belt. It being manufactured in an illegal settlement under exploitative conditions then turns what might be a reluctant decision into a positive gesture. No, I wasn't born a cynic.

    • There's line in The Godfather: Never hate your enemy, it clouds your judgement.

  • Sharon's lasting legacy: the West Bank separation barrier
    • Haïm Gouri, interviewed in 2006 and asked how it was that Sharon once he became Prime Minister had abandoned the convictions he had held all of his military and political career and withdrawn from Gaza, attributed it to a late but welcome acceptance of reality: “In the end Sharon had come to the conclusion that it was ultimately impossible to 'conquer' the Palestinians. For although Israel had won all the wars of movement it had also lost all the wars of attrition.” Just as Yitzhak Rabin, unable to end the first infitada, recognised the PLO, so Sharon had finally accepted the pointlessness of hoping to eradicate Palestinian national aspirations through war.

      Hence, presumably, the wall and the policy of inexorable erosion of land.

      The above derived from a Medipart piece with a lot of good stuff but in French and requiring subscription. link to

  • Provocateur
    • History is a set of events which physically took place on this Earth. There is one and only one history of all people on Earth. A narrative is how the events are strung together to make a story.

      That is questionable. Those events are the evidence available to an historian, who sifts and strings a selection into a narrative, inevitably making the selection in his own age, reflecting his own values and with his own vocabulary. And, unfortunately, too often with a myopic predetermined purpose that belies any other. To the English, Waterloo remains a great victory whereas the French see it as an illustration of Prussian perfidy. Most 'historians' are simply propagandists.

  • Russell Simmons tweets condolences for Ariel Sharon but then takes it back after remembering who he was
    • It could be fairly typical. I saw a vox pop interview in LA not long ago when a guy on the side walk, asked about IP, smiled sheepishly to camera that he didn't know much about all that, something to do with someone called...Arafat is it?

  • At MLA, boycott opponents paper chairs
    • Remarkable how good they are at shooting their feet. By the bye, I have taken to sporting a keffiyeh when out and about as a gesture of solidarity and it's a highly effective conversation starter. Had I one of these Twitter things I might try to encourage it.

  • Chilean soccer team puts Palestine front and center
    • I know that sounds awful – and it is! But the destruction of the only Jewish state would be worse. I doubt the world would allow the destruction of the Jewish state, what is needed is for your Jewish state to get back behind its borders and stay there. Surely, all these problems arise largely from Israeli activities outside the Jewish state.

    • ToivoS, I totally agree. I think 'peace' and 'security' are a red herrings. What needs defining are Israel's borders. That should be the first objective of BDS. My granny would call the present approach, ass upwards.

  • Palestinian citizens slam Lieberman's support for transfer
    • Mike, Back in February 1971 it was snowing heavily in Jerusalem. I had a meeting with Teddy Kollek at the King David and was late due largely to the number of accidents and abandoned cars on the roads. When I apologized for my tardiness he told me Israelis were rarely good drivers, the problem was cars were so expensive by the time people could afford to buy one they were too old to learn to drive!

  • 'We need rights as refugees': African asylum seeker on why he's marching to Jerusalem
    • Migration is a major international problem and it is the job of responsible journalists to highlight it. Look at the reports from Italy link to It's absurd, but characteristic, to present Israel as a poor little victim and it's insulting to the intelligence of those confronting so serious an issue. Heavens above! You would think Israel the only thorn in the bosom of the world.

    • yrn, What you imply might be true were accounts of these demonstrations appearing only in MW. However they are being covered globally. It would be astonishing indeed if Israel treated migrants any better than Palestinians but it is not the way Israel treats migrants but the demonstrations themselves that are making headlines all over. link to

  • U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv shuts down after tens of thousands of Africans asylum seekers protest
    • What to do, what to do…? . Well, they could go back behind their UN designated borders and enclose themselves with an 8 metre wall. Then few would care that much what they get up to.


      That others are just as bad is an insidious justification that logically leads back to brutal barbarism. The inhuman comments of local bystanders, comments I have seen expressed before on vox pop video interviews with Israelis, show precisely the direction that attitude leads. Dependence on such arguments will galvanize all mankind in opposition because it supports precisely what civilization has struggled to overcome since human societies first formed.

  • Editorializing
    • Most general support for Israel arises because the media presents events in their favor and after 9/11 has encouraged irrational distrust for all Arabs. Asked if they support Israel many might well answer, Yes. But it doesn't actually mean anything; it is a peculiarity of our age that everyone is presumed to have an opinion on every matter regardless of how little they know of it. In consequence many, possibly most, support for this or that is no deeper than an expressed preference for chocolate over vanilla ice cream. Besides, not all academics are principled, some would find little problem running journalism courses for Guantanamo guards, just as there are doctors happy to attend torture sessions to keep prisoners just this side of death; not all, of course; the world is a richly varied place. What is true, however, is the tide is turning against Israel and they know it so their struggles are becoming ever more frenzied as they pull out stops and call in markers. Here's a lovely one: link to

  • Israeli 'hospitality': Netanyahu throws cold water over Kerry's plans
    • What would it take for the NYT to reach such a tipping point re “the special relationship?” Just a bit more time perhaps. The tipping point is but a stage in a process, like the camel's proverbial straw. Casting about in search of associated elements, since nothing happens in isolation, I come back to Iran, more specifically the potential dusting down of the US/Iran relationship. Once that is on firmer ground the US/Israel ties are ready to loosen. Meanwhile the less anyone does to draw attention to that process the better – even if it means ignoring Netanyahu pissing on the carpets. Syrian Prime Minister Wael Al-Halqi recently paid tribute to Russia and Iran who he said had allowed Syria to make achievements he hoped will translate into action in Geneva in a couple of weeks.

      Then, Iran might well help resolve the stand off with Karzai. and influence a number of other local situations. Israel is a diplomatic burden while Iran will be an asset, and cost a good deal less.

  • BBC lampoons view that criticizing settlements is 'anti-Semitic, mate'
    • The sketch was a small segment of an ongoing BBC3 series The Revolution will be Televised first launched a couple of years ago, it won the BAFTA best comedy award last year. Where else would you expect one of its segments to appear? The BBC doesn't choose its topics, that's the producer's job.

    • The Revolution will be Televised is an hilarious BBC series. Read all about it.

      link to
      link to

  • Low turnout for Palestinian prisoner release as negotiations slump
    • Woody et al Please understand that Shuki is simply using the comments to divert outrage away from the issue. He/She should not be allowed to get away with so obvious a sleight of pen. I know it's a challenge but why not ignore such provocative contributions, let them stand naked and ignored in their absurdity. They are not worthy of responses which in a perverse way serve to dignify them.

  • Video: Nabi Saleh activist shot at point blank range by Israeli border police (Updated)
    • Annie, Shuki doesn't believe any of that else there would be some passion in the comment, or a follow up response. I imagine such contributions are intended to divert outrage away from its proper object and onto the anonymous comment. Shuki can't be bright enough to have worked that out, likely following a brief. It might be better simply to ignore such patent nonsense or adopt a single word response. How about 'rubbish!'?

  • Five Years after Cast Lead: ‘Gaza Writes Back’
  • Kerry wants to imprison West Bank with massive security fence along Jordanian border
    • Off Topic from St James Piccadilly

      St James’s Church welcomes you to Bethlehem Unwrapped
      23 December – 5 January

      At Christmas, we sing about the “little town of Bethlehem”.  This Christmas, we are hosting a festival celebrating the people of Bethlehem today and drawing attention to the Barrier that affects every aspect of daily life.

      The wall in our courtyard is a replica segment of the wall that surrounds Bethlehem. It is 8 metres tall because the real wall is 8 metres.  It obscures the view of this historic church because that is what has happened to Bethlehem’s holy sites and historic places. .

      link to

    • The 'rehabilitation' of Iran in the eyes of the US public may be a higher priority right now than the immediate fate of Palestinians. I don't have a crystal ball* but a scenario such as I outlined would sure take Israel down a peg or two at least in their own minds. It would remind everyone the US has its own games to play.

      *that's not true, I have a beautiful one, bought in Prague in 1979 but I don't rely on it.

    • An agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is not possible at this time. Kerry must know that and have known it all along. All this flapping hither and yon like a bat in a boudoir has simply bought time. A number of commentators here feel that too but perhaps it was bought for some tangential purpose. On November 11 the UK and Iran each appointed a charge d'affaires. It is not conceivable such an exchange occurred without US influence. Nor is it the sort of thing that just happens on the spur of a moment. We have learned there were extensive discussions with Iran prior to the Geneva sanctions deal, discussions so secret Israel was apparently unaware of them. Such communication is unlikely to have been confined exclusively to the nuclear issue or to have ceased overnight.

      In the event, the deal was one in which Iran ceded very little while gaining the principle of enrichment and maintaining enriched materials, a concession the US had totally opposed for ten years. What did the US get in return? By the end of April we may see Iran having unequivocally fulfilled all its obligations under the interim agreement monitored by the IAEA. There may also be light at the end of the Syrian tunnel, largely as a result of Iranian involvement. Then there is potential for Iran to assist in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan where the US is irrefutably out of its depth . None of this having anything to do with Israel which will simply have continued to be its own worst enemy. Somewhere along that line the US might even follow the UK and look to more formal diplomatic contact with Iran. Meanwhile the BDS movement will be that much closer to its tipping point and the IP situation could look quite different, with Israel in no position to claim Kerry had done anything but work his ass off on their behalf.

  • Will 'sex in the toilets' really renew Zionism?
  • 'An Arab & A Jew' debate BDS and the future of Israel/Palestine
    • @Pabelmont. Your quest for answers suggests the processes that brought all this about were rational when they were no more so than the processes that maintain them. Reason is a tool but it needs to be learned and most people manage perfectly well without it. Zionists like many others have no use for it and if they do give it a go, like JeffB above, they generate nonsense. They are solely motivated by what they want, tempered perhaps by what they can get away with; in JeffB's case aliyah for his daughter. Reason, like mathematics, requires consistency; it has rules and is meaningless if they are not followed. Sooner or later those with whom you cannot reason have to be clobbered. That means, however reluctantly, putting aside reason for a spell, which is exactly what BDS supporters are being driven to do. If asked by Zionists why they support BDS they might best simply say, Because I want to, and reserve more reasoned answers for more reasoned debate.

      We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children is the goal statement of the Hammerskins movement another irrational outfit link to

  • Palestinian officials come out in support of BDS movement after Abbas' disavowal
    • Abbas is the de facto leader of Palestinian interests. That means he exercises authority and serves various functions without necessarily being selected according to all the niceties of democratic process. It is irrelevant what titles he may bear, he does what he does and when he has done it, it's done. History may regard him as a Pétain but we are far from there.

  • John Kerry's framework proposal sets the stage for the ‘Gazafication’ of the West Bank
    • The task of making Israel and the Palestinians play ball is being subcontracted to the European Union.

      The single greatest threat to the Israeli stance is the ICC and it could be said that all US/Israel efforts seek to avoid that beckoning path. Meanwhile, the US appears to be in a situation familiar to chess players where any move will worsen its position, and may in consequence simply be filling time. Furthermore, the EU is not a single entity with a single voice. It is anything but. It contains well over 7% of the global population most of whom have little patience with Israel, which is seen as an increasing irritant, one they have until recently largely put up with or ignored but is now approaching the point where something needs to be done about it.

      Hitherto the lack of attention means European minds are less cluttered and what they begin to learn is almost entirely anti-Israel since there isn't a single coherent argument to favour Israel's actions. It should also be taken on board, however uncomfortable it may be, that Europeans have never had any deep affection for Jews and Europe was the crucible of the worst excesses of antisemitism. Antisemitism is a subdivision of racism which, for largely economic reasons, is on the rise in much of Europe. In summary, there is no underlying affection or popular support for Israel that might serve to colour the issue.

      Most Europeans coming fresh to the IP situation will tend to take the view that Israel should simply retire to the 1948 borders and try to live peaceably, and if 750,000 Palestinians can be constrained to quit their homes in a twelvemonth, surely the same can apply to settlers.

      There is also an underlying belief in the institutions of the UN, not an illusion that they are perfect or always effective, but a nisus, an impulse, towards its ideals and distrust of any deliberate flouting or apparent contempt for them. Russia, which is more European than Israel, expresses a similar view.

      The US has only one President, Europe has 28 leaders all of whom need in varying degrees to pay attention to public demands particularly when they concern humanitarian ideals. Less perhaps a question of subcontracting, which implies getting others to do your work, than passing the buck to a future less influenced by what the US does than what it has ceased to do.

  • ASA members vote 2-1 for academic boycott of Israel
  • Apartheid lives on in Israel, rampant, disguised, and despised -- says 'Le Monde' correspondent
    • A member of the French National Assembly, Jean Lassalle, is about to complete a remarkable journey of discovery, walking around France talking to ordinary folk. What he recounts is interesting but not that relevant here. However, he does have these concerns:

      Worryingly, he also encountered “latent racism” almost everywhere, “even in the smallest villages”.

      “This is racism that seems totally unashamed,” he told Le Monde on Friday. “It is a wholescale rejection of ‘the other’ and often expressed with excessive aggression.”

      Lassalle told Le Monde that he was particularly worried about a return of “anti-Semitic rhetoric” that was particularly “linked to wealth”.

      link to

      While it is encouraging to find books and articles like these, it is discouraging to see this phase paralleled with signs of unfolding racism and its off-spring antisemitism. Racism is fertilized by economic disorder which is rife and worsening in Europe.

      The ME situation is not the source of European antisemitism, which has always been there but of late well confined to the closet; out of sight, out of mind. My fear has always been that revulsion at Israel's actions in the Holy Land will not so such encourage antisemitism as discourage its voluntary suppression. It's all very well having laws but if they are ignored by one in a couple of thousand they are completely unenforceable as neither the courts nor the goals are large enough for the number of offenders. The logical irrelevance of Jewish suffering in the past to the situation in Palestine today is becoming ever more clear and Europeans simply won't continue to accept the one as an excuse for the other.

      Do the Zionists know this and, more importantly, are they relying on it in some way as evidence of the victimization that somehow or other morphs into justification of their actions? If so, we are in for troubled times because moves to aid the Palestinians are separate from the rise in European racism; the one will be slow and steady while the other could well erupt.

  • Obama's Mandela eulogy -- moving, and hypocritical
    • Matthew, sorry to misplace one of your Ts, still better than an I. I doubt Obama wrote that eulogy, it's a formal contribution to a quasi-religious event not a political one. A leader has to put his own nation and people above all else whatever. Oddly, Ben Gurion said that to me in 1971 and I have never forgotten it. It's what he thought he had been doing all his life.

    • Mathew, I have a hunch you are on target with Iran being first on Obama's long-term plan but Iran needs further rehabilitation to tip the balance with Israel, and I wouldn't be surprised if that moves into gear in January with the Syrian conference in Geneva. There must be constant discussions going on in the background that only a handful are aware of and if something positive does come out of it much will be due to Iran. Obama will claim credit, of course, but everyone will know where the impetus really came from, including Netanyahu.

  • Netanyahu tweets red-telephone picture, to show how happy he is with Kerry
    • Someone said on RT the other day, How fortunate to have Kerry in that job as he's the worst salesman of negative foreign policy the US has ever had!

  • Israeli ambassador's present to Obama -- settlement cufflinks!
    • A clumsy and ignorant euphemism (engraved on a plaque!) for “the birth of Christ”. or "622 years before the Prophet's migration to Medina".

    • I've friends used to do that with Who on earth are they? Christmas cards that arrived saying something like 'Season's Wishes from Jack and Meg'. They appended 'and Angus and Ann' and posted them on.

  • American Studies Association national council endorses academic boycott of Israel
    • The whole business cries out for coordination. There is need for an unequivocal list of umbrella demands. Israel is unlike Iraq, Iran etc. where boycotts and sanctions called for specific changes within the country. In the case of Israel what goes on inside the country is less an international issue, it's what they do outside that really matters. The first demand might be for a non-negotiable redefinition of where Israel legally begins and ends, followed by a demand that they get the hell out of all areas that are not Israel and should be an independent Arab state the organization and internal administration of which is none of Israel's business. Once such a state of affairs might be achieved all else would fall into place. As it is, what would be the attitude of the ASA if, very hypothetically, Israel allowed Palestinian students access to outside educational facilities but continued to humiliate them leaving and returning home, breaking into their homes, abusing their young brothers, arresting, and murdering their parents while all but starving them. It would take decades to launch BDS movements against each area of Israeli perfidy, and by the time one was sorted there would be ten more.

  • Contribute to Mondoweiss end of the year fundraiser and receive copy of Max Blumenthal's 'Goliath'
    • @German Lefty. I live in Spain and use PayPal extensively. It's owned by eBay. I've never had any problems. They don't normally charge the payer fees but if you use a Euro account to pay in another currency they determine the exchange rate. They do however let you know what it is before you need press the final button. I don't know how they set the rate but it's approximately .025% on the median daily exchange rate. Since they would debit your Euro account in Euros, your bank shouldn't make a charge. I think the Tinypass people process the PayPal donations anyway and log your email details in their records. It is like you are paying Tinypass rather than MW direct. I find them somewhat insidious but that may be just my age!

  • AIPAC plays the long game on new Iran sanctions
    • There is also the likelihood that during his numerous state visits to modest nations, largely unreported in the Western media, the subject of Palestine was broached which may well have influenced the voting on the upgrade to non-member observer state

    • hophmi, According to its speedometer my BMW will reach 180 mph. Would you suggest there is little practical difference between driving at 30 and 150?

    • Walid, I had a degree of affection for Ahmadinejad, which I confess might not have survived a close encounter. That particular period was just not right for a resolution of the nuclear issue which was still in its chrysalis stage. Iran was less stable, the program was less advanced, and had Iran caved then it would have been a humiliation. Ahmadinejad didn't even try for a resolution and I doubt Khamenei would have let him. What he did instead was bear gifts to a large number of smaller, non-aligned, nations, cultivating far reaching goodwill and turning himself, and Iran, into a figurehead and focus for anti-US sentiment. Concurrently he played the role of court jester, notably at the UN where his satirical rhetoric exasperated the US and others while making Netanyahu apoplectic and more than somewhat absurd, a talent he developed to a fine art over the years. He would dismiss the Zionist regime as a temporary nuisance that would pass away in time. Initially he quoted Ayatollah Khomeini but the actual Farsi was mistranslated by an Iranian news agency no less. Hmmm. Or he would question the holocaust in a manner that had Netanyahu frothing and waving screeds of spreadsheets like a demented windmill. Finally, having established Iran as a hero of anti-US imperialism and exposed Netanyahu for what he is (who will ever forget the cartoon bomb), the jester quietly disappeared off left, leaving the stage for the serious stuff.

    • The sanctions game is over. Too many nations and firms were obliged to pretend to accept the notion of Iran rushing to nuclear weapon capability in order to wipe Israel off the map, and had to do so to their own considerable cost. There are many examples but one is Peugeot where Iran was its second most important market and the sanctions caused the closing of facilities involved in the manufacture of components in France for assembly in Iran with, I understand, the loss of 8000 jobs. Now that Iranian nuclear weapon activity is confirmed not to be going on and there are sufficient checks in place to guarantee it, these arrangements will be dusted down and if AIPAC or anyone else thinks they are going to persuade such firms to withdraw a second time they have another think coming.

  • (Updated) Senator Chuck Schumer promises more Iran sanctions, vows to 'defeat' Arab world and Palestinians
    • Mr Schumer appears not to understand that this is a global agreement not one with the US legislature. Netanyahu was quite right to fear that any agreement might encourage the less scrupulous to seek a new generation of loop holes in the sanctions.

      What fascinates me right now is the role of the KSA. There they were in the 3 week interim offering Israel's beloved leader air space to go bomb Iran, and just yesterday they hail the agreement.

      The government of the kingdom sees that if there was goodwill, this agreement could represent a preliminary step towards a comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear programme...the deal could eventually lead "to the removal of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, from the Middle East and the Arab Gulf region".

      link to

      My guess is we will see Iran with a role in the January conference on Syria while more eyes turn to focus on Dimona.

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