Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 142 (since 2009-09-08 07:39:20)


Showing comments 142 - 101

  • 'NY Times' publishes op-ed writer's blatant falsehood about Palestinians without blinking an eye
    • In contrast to Benjamin Gladstone, I distinctly recall that some Palestinian leaders stated that West Bank settlers were welcome to stay in a future Palestinian state, if they wanted to.

      Can someone confirm this? I think there was also some mention that they would be paying taxes to the new state rather than Israel.

  • 'NYT' finally mentions 'Goliath' -- in rightwing ad smearing Max Blumenthal
  • Roger Cohen and Jeremy Ben-Ami go on the road for the two-state solution
    • Roger Cohen presents a strong case for a two-state solution. But he is only the latest to present this case, and others before him have made very similar arguments. He says that the only viable outcome is a two-state solution whose contours are already well understood by all.

      Where he falls very short (like others before) is on how to achieve this goal. Does he have any program to propose on how to get to a 2SS? Apparently not. He knows that the Israeli government does not negotiate in good faith, and he states that a whole new leadership is needed in Israel. But there's nothing of the sort on the horizon. It's a forlorn hope given the long term rightward shift in Israeli society, which he acknowledges.

      In terms of international action all that Cohen mentions is for the "United States to continue to make clear that expansion of settlements is inimical, is incompatible (with peace)." The U.S. has been saying this for years to no effect. This is just not a serious proposal.

  • The enemies list
  • Obama tells Americans it is 'abrogation of my constitutional duty' to defer to Israel on Iran Deal
    • The parallel with Kennedy's speech (his finest one) is the first thing that came to mind when I heard that Obama had given his address at American University.

  • 'I trust Obama more than the Prime Minister of Israel to run our policy' -- George W. Bush's former pollster
  • Al Jazeera publishes leaked intelligence files showing Netanyahu lied about Iranian nuclear threat
  • US calls ICC decision to investigate Gaza 'tragic irony'
    • Yes, I hope they do bring such claims. The most solid case that the PA can bring to the ICC is the violation of international law due to the settlements. No one can contest that there are there, and no one, except Israel, maintains that they are legal. In this instance, Israel simply has no case.

  • Caroline Glick says there were no Palestinian refugees
    • Before Glick, it was Avi Shavit who toured the U.S. and 'explained' the conflict. However, in contrast to Glick, he didn't attempt to deny the Nakba. Rather, he simply said it was justified.

      Perhaps Glick figures that this line really won't wash with the U.S. public, so she attempts to recycle all of the old lies.

  • Another New York Times' reporter's son is in the Israeli army
  • Wiesel lauds settlers for 'strengthening the Jewish presence in Jerusalem' -- and expelling Palestinians
    • It's important to note that this is a recurring theme with Wiesel. On April 16 2010, published an open letter to Obama in the Washington Post urging Obama to back off putting any pressure on Israel, and claiming special Jewish privilege over Jerusalem, that is all of Jerusalem.

      Phil wrote about this at the time:
      link to

  • Burke and Lincoln would have hated the special relationship
    • "As I reported, Brooks is now the third writer at the NYT to have a son in the Israeli army."

      Have you included Andrew Revkin who writes the Dot Earth blog on climate change? (I think he mentioned this in one of his blog posts.)

  • Beinart urges young Jews to get arrested in the West Bank for the sake of Zionism. Will they?
  • 'NYT' op-ed calls on Jews to abandon liberal Zionism and push for equal rights
    • "No decent man in the world thinks that because of these disproportionate acts these great leaders [Churchill, Truman, Roosevelt] became war criminals."

      Actually, Noam Chomsky has argued that this is, in fact, the case. He's not a decent man?

      (In the case of the Tokyo fire bombing, to which Shavit alludes, Robert MacNamara, who was involved in some of the planning of these attacks, has acknowledged that (a) this was a war crime, and (b) the reason he isn't regarded as a war criminal for this is simply because the U.S. was victorious in the war.)

  • Reprint of Yochanan Gordon's "When Genocide is Permissible" (Updated)
    • "So basically he’s telling us to get ready for an Israeli nuclear bomb."

      I bet that many among the Israel uber alles crowd in the U.S. (and elsewhere) who would be really happy if it ever came to this. Not the U.S. government though.

  • What would you do?
    • I agree with all the points that you raise. And certainly an end to the blockade is their objective. But is this the likely outcome? I really doubt it, especially now that the generals are running Egypt and quietly cheering on Israel. It seems to me that the most likely outcome is a restoration of the status quo.

    • "What if your neighbourhood was a giant prison?" Yes, that does describe Gaza, and, yes, anyone would want to fight back.

      But you would want to do so effectively. I just don't see that the rockets Hamas is directing at Israel as advancing in any way the cause of Gazans. On the military plane Israel is supreme. It makes no sense to me to fight on terrain where your adversary has every advantage.

  • The death by drone memo: a throwback to U.S. terrorism in Nicaragua
  • Chomsky supports portions of BDS agenda, but faults others, citing realism and int'l consensus
    • A cleaned-up version of my earlier comments (& apologies for the previous sloppy version):

      I think that one aspect of Chomsky’s criticism of the BDS campaign makes some sense. This is his criticism of (3) [support/promote the right of return of Palestinian refugees]. He is right that this is unrealistic; advancing this position will, in fact, undermine the BDS movement. It's a self-defeating position too adopt.

      On the other hand, Chomsky’s support of the 2SS also seems unrealistic. He knows, or should know, that there is no reasonable 2SS state that Israel is remotely prepared to accept. As the occupation grinds on, the settlements expand and settlers have become ever more deeply entrenched; it's plainly evident that they will not be removed by Israel. It seems highly unrealistic to expect otherwise. Perhaps Chomsky is hoping that if Israel is put under extreme international pressure, then it might relent. But what is BDS if not a way to put pressure on Israel.

      What is most bizarre is Chomsky’s opposition to the position of BDS regarding (2), equal rights for Palestinians in Israel. What will he say when Palestinians in the occupied territories throw in the towel on the 2SS and simply ask for equal rights in a greater Israel/Palestine? That is coming because the 2SS is dead as a door nail.

      My own view is that BDS should be very clear of its central objective: equality rights and human dignity for Palestinians and indeed for all people living in Greater Israel. This should be coupled with recognition that the 2SS has long been eclipsed by facts on the ground that Israel has created. It should criticize the ‘peace process’ as hopeless and endless charade that will never lead to a reasonable and just 2SS, and which is used cynically by Israel to gain acceptance with western nations.

    • I think that one aspect of Chomsky’s criticism of the BDS campaign makes some sense. This is his criticism of (3) [support/promote the right of return of Palestinian refugees]. He is right that this is unrealistic, and support of this position will, in fact, undermine the BDS movement.

      One the other hand, Chomsky’s support of the 2SS also seems unrealistic. He knows, or should know, that there is no reasonable two-state or one-state that Israel is prepared to accept. The occupation grinds on. The settlements and settlers are deeply entrenched and will not be removed by Israel. It seems highly unrealistic to expect otherwise. Perhaps he is hoping that if it is put under extreme international pressure, then Israel might relent. But what is BDS if not a way to put pressure on Israel.

      What is most bizarre in Chomsky’s opposition to the position of BDS regarding (2), equal rights for Palestinians in Israel. What will he say when Palestinians in the occupied territories throw in the towel on the 2SS and simply ask for equal rights in a greater Israel/Palestine?

      My own view is that BDS should clearly of its objective: equality rights and human dignity for Palestinians living in Greater Israel. This should be coupled with recognition that the 2SS has been eclipsed by the facts on the ground that Israel has created. It should criticize the ‘peace process’ as hopeless failure that will never lead to a reasonable and just 2SS.

  • 'NYT' scrubs 'analysis' that Hamas is 'seen in West as the devil'
    • Interesting then that the European Union actually welcomed the Palestinian reconciliation deal, as reported in Haaretz: link to

      The NYT and Jodi Rudoren should have told their readers that there is, in fact, a divergence in the reaction to this deal in the West, and that the U.S. reaction is not mirrored in Europe. This is really poor journalism.

  • Israel stops US-led peace talks citing Palestinian unity (Updated)
    • Actually, hasn't Israel negotiated ceasefire agreements with Hamas in the past? In fact, I recall reading the comments of some Israeli minister to the effect that in agreements reached with Hamas, the Israelis are confident that Hamas will hold up their end. Apparently, when it suits Israel, they've been willing to talk.

  • Peter Beinart misses South Africa's apartheid lesson, Gideon Levy gets it
    • Beinart's insistence that Israel is not an Apartheid State is really just a piece of sophistry. Yes, if one makes a distinction between Israel within the Green Line and the Occupied Territories, and defines Israel to be only the former, then that 'Israel' does fall short of being an Apartheid State. It is merely a Jim Crow State.

      But this distinction is formal and artificial. Israel is, in fact, much more than just the entity within the Green Line. It is also the entity that has spread pervasively into the Territories where it has imposed a bone fide Apartheid regime. Because Beinart maintains (against all evidence) that the occupation and the settlements are somehow reversible, that Israel hasn't formally annexed the territories, then it can escape the Apartheid label. But even if this were the case, it doesn't change the reality that is experienced every day in the Territories where an Apartheid system has been entrenched by the state of Israel. Sure, this regime doesn't extend within the Green Line. So what?

  • New America's new take on Israel-Palestine
    • The connection to Anne-Marie Slaughter may give some guidance on the thinking behind this initiative. She advanced some ideas on reinventing the two-state solution in an article published last year in the Globe and Mail: link to

  • Get ready, Kerry will go where no American leader has gone before -- Ben-Ami
    • Yes, and the settlers could stay where they are and pay taxes to Palestine. I think that this idea has been proposed before. But it would probably be unacceptable to many settlers on a number of levels, i.e., security, loss of privileges, connection to Israel, etc. Also, it's not just the settlers. Their supporters within Israel proper, in particular those within the IDF, that could revolt against removal of the settlements.

    • "I eavesdropped on a conversation led by a man who identified himself as an official of a Jewish organization. He said his greatest concern was Jews fighting among ourselves. "

      Indeed, I think this is a widespread fear, and one that's shared by the Gov't in Israel. As I've mentioned before in this forum, the prospect of a civil war in Israel over evacuating the settlements was raised by none other than Shimon Peres with members of the British Parliament, back in 2008. If he's raising this matter publicly, you can imagine that this sort of scenario is taken very seriously in Israel.

      See: link to

  • Bearing witless
    • The "security fence ... imprecisely traces the pre-1967 border between Israel and the West Bank."

      What a mendacious farce. Disgustingly dishonest. This a line that is deliberately designed to mislead and give the impression that the trace of the 'fence' happens to meander in a haphazard way on both sides of the border.

  • Stephen Harper's Criticizing-Israel-Is-Anti-Semitic screed is exploded on CBC
    • Seafroid: "Harper is another Murdoch cloned right wing blowhard"

      You got that right, and it's not just with regard to Israel. On climate change, Harper ranted against the Kyoto Accord to which Canada was a signatory. In a 2002 fund-raising letter to party members, he wrote:

      "Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations."

      At the time, Harper was the leader of the official opposition in Parliament. After he became Prime Minister, Canada became the first country to withdraw from the Kyoto Accord.

    • Looking forward to when this sort of discussion appears on The National (CBC television's nightly news program). Probably won't happen before Peter Mansbridge heads off into retirement.

  • Canadian pols' pandering to Israel is even more clownish than US pols, but at least they do it on camera
    • Walid: "I’m not saying Harper is right or that he should drool over Israel, I’m simply saying it’s his right to do so. "

      On this I disagree. Travelling abroad as leader of the Gov't of Canada entails obligations and responsibilities. This is a trip, paid for by Canadian taxpayers, in which Harper is representing the country. By acting from personal religious inclinations he is not properly representing Canada.

    • Walid, When Harper travels abroad like this, he is supposed to be representing Canada, not acting out his religious beliefs. A great many Canadians do find Harper an embarrassment precisely because his actions during this trip have conveyed a warped sense of Canada's positions and values.

      Overall, Harper has damaged Canada's international reputation. This has to do with his over-the-top Israel right or wrong stance as well as other matters, especially his government's stance on addressing climate change. One consequence was that Canada was voted down in its application for a non-permanent seat on the UN security council in 2010, a development which surprised and shocked many people in the country.

      See: link to

  • Israel's UN ambassador catches flak in Upper West Side synagogue
    • Related but somewhat off topic: A freedom of information request has revealed that the Gov't of Canada received a huge barrage of hostile letters when it voted against recognition of Palestine at the UN. Letters ran 80% opposed to the government's position vs 2o% supportive. Indicates that Harper's conservatives are way out-of-step with the electorate on this.

      link to

      One letter writer asked Harper if he had visited the "Palestine occupied area of Israel" where living conditions are "deplorable", wondering why Harper was standing up for the "underprivileged". How long will it take before it becomes commonplace to see the OPT as, in fact, the Palestine-occupied area of Israel?

  • Remnick asks Shavit whether Zionism is a historical mistake
    • Shavit: "When I hear American liberals, Canadian liberals, Australian liberals and New Zealand liberals– their liberalism and their universal values are based on the fact that they basically murdered the others. And therefore they can criticize us."

      The Canadian situation is different than that of the US, and its apparent that both Shavit and Remnick are uninformed of this. The claims of First Nations to their ancestral lands within Canada have achieved widespread legitimacy over the last 30 years. The courts have repeatedly ruled in their favor, recognizing Aboriginal title to the land. This has given First Nations great political power. No significant project can go ahead without their approbation. Case in point: the very contentious Northern Gateway pipeline which is to transport diluted bitumen from Alberta to the BC coast, passing through First Nations lands. Even though the federal gov't is very much supporting this, it won't go ahead without significant support from the native population, which is very much in doubt at this point.

  • Why do US media insist that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Gulf states oppose Iran deal?
    • "to say that these countries have not benefit from a sanction imposed Iran would be an understatement. "

      The sanctions have been an unwelcome burden for Turkey.

      As Juan Cole wrote (11/26/2013): "International sanctions were therefore extremely inconvenient for Turkey’s policy of trade expansion in the region. Moreover, Turkey depends on inexpensive natural gas from Iran for some of its own electricity production. Compared to the Turkish-Iranian tiff over Syria, the possible cooperation in energy and trade expansion is much more important to Ankara. Likewise, the AKP supports the Palestinians under Israeli occupation, and has that in common with Iran. Turkey is champing at the bit to trade unhindered with Iran and to invest in it, as well as to welcome further Iranian investment in Turkey. The Kerry-Zarif deal could not be more welcome in Ankara."

    • Just to follow up - Juan Cole noted the response of Turkey's President to the agreement with Iran ( In particular, Abdullah Gul said on Twitter on Sunday:

      “I welcome today’s agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. I have been advocating a solution through diplomacy and we hosted many diplomatic efforts in Turkey to this end . . . This is a major step forward. I hope it’ll be sealed with a final agreement soon. I congratulate all parties for their constructive engagement.”

    • Ludicrous to include Turkey. It's worth recalling that in May 2010 Turkey and Brazil had negotiated an agreement with Iran that explicitly recognized Iran's right to enrichment under the NPT.

      Obama had sent a letter to Brazil's president outlining his terms for a deal, perhaps thinking these would be unattainable. When Brazil and Turkey secured an agreement consistent with those terms that recognized the right to enrichment, Obama renege on the deal. See: link to

  • Friedman says lobby's power to stymie Obama on major foreign policy opening stems from 'Jewish votes and donations'
    • "The thought of a nuclear Iran scares everyone."

      No, it doesn't. Russia & China don't seem particular alarmed about this. And it's certainly not because they are keen on seeing another war develop in the Middle East. In fact, it would really hurt China if Iran were destroyed which would be outcome of any war.

      The same could be said about most other countries. In fact, the sanctions that the U.S. has developed are directed at such third parties. Their purpose to coerce other countries from conducting commerce with Iran. If it weren't for such coercion, few countries would comply with sanctions voluntarily.

    • Friedman is right, but his emphasis is off. It should be Jewish DONATIONS and votes. The importance of the former easily dwarfs the latter in the vast majority of districts.

  • Two-state advocates are on the defensive in debate on Capitol Hill
    • "Ben-Ami took sharp exception to the statement [that Israel is an apartheid state]. He said that he believes that Israel will become an apartheid state if it fails to disgorge the occupied territories. ... So it must eschew apartheid; and what was made by human beings can be unmade; 600-700,000 settlers can be moved."

      So, by this reasoning, as long as the settlements can be removed, which Ben-Ami maintains can always happen at anytime, then Israel is not actually an apartheid state. It follows that Israel can never be regarded as an apartheid state, regardless of the actual existing apartheid situation on the ground.

      Israel can continue to expand the settlements, build more Jewish-only roads, evict Palestinians at will, take their water, and confine them to smaller and smaller enclaves. Yet, so long as it voices some vague hope of finding a two-state accommodation through a never-ending 'peace process', ispo facto, it is not an apartheid state.

  • AIPAC gears up for war with Obama
    • "In contrast to the administration which, recognizing that Iran (like every other country) has the right to nuclear power for peaceful purposes, AIPAC says that Iran has no such right."

      Where does he get this? The Obama administration has NEVER recognized Iran's right to the enrichment of uranium. In fact, as Obama's Sect. of State, Hillary Clinton stated that Iran had no such right.:“You do not have a right to obtain a nuclear weapon. You do not have the right to have the full enrichment and reprocessing cycle under your control." And Obama balked at the agreement reached between Iran and Turkey/Brazil because it explicitly recognized this right.

      In all this, Obama's position has been no different than Bush's: no enrichment/no closing of the nuclear fuel cycle in Iran. There won't be a deal if Obama sticks to this position. It remains to be seen if he can reverse the US position.

  • Obama's greatest achievement-- blinking on Syria
    • I agree entirely with David. On Syria, Obama has been reacting to events, not orchestrating them. It was clear that he never wanted to take military action in Syria, but then he made some ill-advised comments about red lines and saying that 'Assad must go'. When a large-scale chemical weapons incident occurred he had to act to avoid looking foolish and preserve some credibility. Since he remained reluctant to get the US military involved, he settled on a limited attack as his response. The turning point was the vote against Cameron in the UK House of Commons. This gave Obama an out - he could turn it over the Congress to authorize action and show that the US was a democracy too. Perhaps he did this with the expectation that Congress would balk. Putin's proposal gave a useful diplomatic exit that he, unsurprisingly ,was quick to seize.

      "These readers underestimate the institutional pressures that Obama was under."

      I do give Obama some credit for doing his best to avoid a military clash with Iran. Perhaps this will indeed be his greatest achievement, much like avoiding war with the Soviet Union is sometimes said to be Eisenhower's major achievement. In this Obama has faced institutional pressure to launch such a war. It's also worth noting that he also has had major support as well, with the locus of that support being with the U.S. military. This is a major difference with Iraq where the military was all gung-ho for the attack.

  • Global edition of 'NYT' runs op-ed against 'Arab women giving birth' in Israel
    • Walid: "Israel is no different, not better and not worse than the rest."

      Really? Show me another liberal democracy where it is considered legitimate discourse to advocate the 'transfer' of some undesirable segment of the citizenry. Or one where a politician does not meet with opprobrium for racist statements against minorities.

      France, of course, does have Jean Marie Le Pen. But he is considered beyond the pale. Naftali Bennett is not in Israel. In fact, he's part of the government.

    • Page: 1
    • "At least within the 1967 borders, the Palestinians pose little real demographic threat, ..."

      This notion of a demographic threat is racist. Such a discourse may be acceptable in Israel, but let's imagine a prominent writer coming out in the US and writing that, say, African Americans posed little demographic threat. He would be denounced by all sides as a racist. The different reactions point to the fundamental difference between a liberal democracy and an ethnocracy.

  • Bacevich in 'LA Times': Camp David ushered in 4 decades of US militarism in Mid East
    • Yes, increased U.S. militarism in the Middle East followed the Camp David accords. But to imply that these accords were the cause of subsequent military actions is an unfortunate bit of 'post hoc ergo propter hoc' reasoning from Bacevich.

      You could equally well attribute U.S. militarism in the Middle East to the Carter Doctrine (link to, which was enunciated around the same time (Jan. 1980). With this policy, which was declared following the Iranian revolution, the U.S. took upon itself the role of policing the Persian Gulf.

  • It's time for Obama to replay Nixon-to-China on Iran, says William Quandt
    • Well the Leverett's have been advocating for this 'Nixon to China' approach for quite some time. It may make sense, but the U.S. has such encrusted policies that it's very difficult to imagine this taking place, especially under Obama.

      Any sort of reproachment would required that the U.S. come to terms with Iran as a state that has a legitimate role to play in the greater Middle East. And it would also require that the U.S. accept Iran's civilian nuclear program, in particular it's right to produce fuel for its nuclear reactors. So far, there's zero indication that it is prepared to do so. And at the same time, there's no indication that Iran will capitulate to U.S. pressure and halt its nuclear program. So the U.S. is left with another failing and futile policy that it is incapable of changing.

  • US aid to Egypt is not for Egypt but Israel, JJ Goldberg explains
    • Phil's (and JJ Goldberg's) point is echoed in a NY Times report where Israel's security is immediately brought up by an official with ties to the White House as a prime reason not off aid to Egypt:

      "Given the deep schism in Egypt, this official said, the White House is still skeptical that cutting off aid would compel the generals to return the country to a democratic transition. And it could destabilize the region, particularly the security of Israel, whose 1979 peace treaty with Egypt is predicated on the aid."

      link to

  • Talks will fail because Palestinians shouldn't negotiate with 'a thief,' Israel supporter concedes
    • This is the inescapable conundrum for Suissa and his ilk: Either

      (a) East Jerusalem and the West Bank are occupied territories (as virtually the entire world maintains) and Israel is a land thief, or

      (b) These territories belong to Israelis to do as they please, in which case Israel is an apartheid state.

    • "Israelis have undertaken negotiations in some measure because they are seeking a EU fig-leaf compromise on that stance. So as to escape the thief label."

      I think this is correct. But they are undermining their own efforts by announcing a big expansion of the settlements on the eve of the talks.

  • In 'earthquake' diplomatic move, EU calls on Israel to 'recognize in writing that the West Bank settlements are not part of Israel'
    • With a doubt, an encouraging development. As noted by Paul Woodward at notes, there are some caveats:

      "It turns out that these guidelines are not binding on EU member states, they will not be applied to all entities in the occupied territories and they do not go into effect until 2014. More details when I have them. - See more at: link to "

  • Saudi Arabia says Israeli strike on Iran would produce 'total mayhem'
    • Turki: "Iran would retaliate against everybody -- with its missiles, with suicide bombers, with agents. And we would be the first victims."

      Yes, and specifically, with its missiles, Iran could target Saudi oil production facilities, instantly creating oil shortages and sending economies around the world into a tailspin. Gary Sick has written about this, calling it Iran's true WMD capability.

      This is the reason why it's unlikely that (a) the U.S will attack Iran, and (b) give Israel a green light to do so. Also, it seems very unlikely that Israel would defy the US and launch such an attack on its own. They would be blamed for grievously hurting the US economy, and the 'special relationship' would take a big hit.

  • Snowden/Greenwald show: left and right must overcome cultural differences for work ahead
  • Washington Post's racism map omits Israel
    • "Muslims living in Israel enjoy more freedom than those living in most Arab countries."

      Ah, so then they have the same rights and freedoms as Jews do in Israel? Does everyone in Israel have the same rights and freedoms?

      How about in the Occupied Territories? Granted these aren't really part of Israel (are they?), but Israel is the Occupying Power there. Do all the people living in the OT enjoy the same rights and freedoms?

  • Fayyad warns Obama: 'A state of leftovers is not going to do it'
    • "The analogy being that the mainstream Palestinian leadership should impose it’s authority on the radicals."

      And how do you know who represents the mainstream of Palestinians? The last time there was an election in 2006, Hamas won. And the day after, Israel, the U.S. and the Palestinian Authority started an armed struggle to overturn the results of the election.

  • My guide was a righteous radical
    • Phil, Your positions on Israel and Zionism are much closer to the mainstream of humanity than is the position of U.S. and a few other western countries (like Canada).

  • Jewish space plays host to spirited debate over whether Israel is a democracy
    • Even within the 67 borders, Israel is not a democracy, if by that we mean a liberal democracy. It is a majority-rule country that systemically discriminates against ethnic minorities that represent some 20% of its population. You can call that a 'flawed democracy' if you like, but an expression that more accurately conveys the experience of the oppressed 20% would be to call it a tyranny of the majority.

      Liberal democracies protect minorities against a tyranny of the majority. As an ethnocracy, Israel does not.

  • In 'NYT' lecture on intermarriage, Stanley Fish says religious difference is 'deep and immovable'
    • "How meaningful is Jewish ritual or doctrine (Shabbos dinner, wrapping the tefillin, etc) to Anne-Marie Slaughter's Jewish husband"

      Speaking of Ann Marie Slaughter, have you seen her advocacy of a 'solution' based on two-states-in-one in which all the settlers stay put and Israeli Palestinians lose their citizenship.

      See: link to

  • Obama gets it
    • Let's concede that Obama is not obtuse and that he 'gets it'. Yet, he also admits that he'll do nothing concrete. And he also implicitly explains why: "political leaders will never take risks if the people do not push them to take some risks". That statement is false; many political leaders have taken courageous stands that did have immediate popular backing. Yet, it's a statement that does apply remarkably well to his own lily-livered presidency.

  • When will liberal Zionists give up on their dream?
    • "No-one but hard-line Zios would oppose it."

      I think lots of liberal Zionists are likely to oppose this as well. They would do so on the fear that a program of removing settlements in the WB would drive Israel to civil war.

  • Video: Gurvitz says settlers threaten to detonate a civil war
    • "The removal of the settlements isn’t the problem, it’s retaining them. How can the settlers get the non-settler population to go on volunteering to run deficits and providing the logistical and military support for them? "

      Is this really such a big problem? A number of writers have made the point that Israelis are relatively content with the status quo and have little incentive to want to change things. For example, Noam Sheizaf writes: link to

      "What Israelis understand and Wieseltier doesn’t, is that they already have their peace now. Putting aside the future implications, the current status quo represents the best alternative for Israelis. This is why they vote for a leader who basically promises them more of the same. ... Wieseltier regrets that 'nobody is desperate to solve the problem,' but fails to understand that it is nobody in Israel that is desperate."

    • It's surprising that the risk of a civil war in Israel is not more widely recognized. After all, no less than Shimon Peres warned of this before the British Parliament some time ago: link to His message seemed to me like a tacit plea to the British not to push Israel too hard to remove its settlements.

      There is no doubt that any government of the day in Israel, regardless of its political leanings, will be well aware that it risks provoking a civil war should it decide on removing the settlements. Obviously, they'll do anything to avoid this outcome. So, in all likelihood, it won't happen, simply because the settlements won't ever be removed. Meanwhile, the Gov't of Israel will try to continue with the 'peace process' charade in order to perpetuate the status quo for as long as possible.

  • Former Israeli diplomat: Netanyahu doesn't want a two-state solution (and it's about time Washington figured this out)
    • Interesting round table discussion here on Al Jazeera with Tony Karon, Peter Beinart, Ethan Bronner and Rashid Khalidi:

      link to!

      What struck me is the segment at approximately the 36-38 minute mark where Tony Karon remarks that, in his view, realization of the 2SS has become implausible. And, strikingly, Ethan Bronner agrees with him, saying that effectively the train has left the station and it's 'hard to imagine' any Israeli gov't could relocate so many settlers from the W. Bank.

  • UN approves Palestinian status upgrade with 138-9 vote (and US Senators threaten to cut aid)
  • NYT's Jodi Rudoren responds to criticism of Facebook comments
    • Judi Rudoren's new comments are welcome and appreciated. They show greater effort sensitivity toward the people of Gaza than her previous remarks, and they much more accurately convey their feelings and aspirations.

      I think it's worth noting, however, that the only reason we now have these comments is because of the coverage she received at Mondoweiss.

  • On the Jewish Israeli street, there's no solution to Palestinian issue but more violence
    • The quote that always resonated most for me is David Ben Gurion's statement to Nahum Goldman: "Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? ...They may perhaps forget in one or two generations' time, but for the moment there is no chance. So, it's simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out."

      In this statement we can see the essence of Israel's approach to Palestinians over the decades. Attention is usually given to the 'we have taken their country' aspect of this statement. But Ben Gurion takes this for granted. After all the Zionist are fully aware of this history - they know what they've done. What counts is the part that follows. Ben Gurion believes that the Palestinians probably will not ever be reconciled to having their country 'taken'. Since they will always want to reclaim their land, they must be suppressed now, and indefinitely into the future. This is the story of Israel's relations with the Palestinians since 1948 and it continues to this day.

  • Goldberg's political fantasy
    • "I'm not even asking it to allow full, equal citizenship to Arab Israelis, since that would require Israel no longer being a Jewish state."

      Why should he opposed full and equal citizenship to all Israelis? His support for discriminating against Arab Israelis certainly seems racist. Has Beinart ever explained himself on this? Has his position evolved over the last two years, or does he still hold this view?

  • Obama threatens 'significant negative consequences' to Palestinians if they seek higher UN status
    • Annie, thanks for the correction. If Abbas presses on, and I hope he does, then we'll get to see Obama's true colors. It will be an indication of what we can expect in a second term. Right now he has to tow the line of the Lobby, so it's not clear whether how seriously we have to take these threats. I'm skeptical, however, that there'll be much change in direction.

    • The timing seems terrible for Abbas to proceed with this now. Before the election is when the Netanyahu and Israel Lobby have maximum leverage over Obama. Can't he put this off for a few weeks?

  • Walt, Munayyer, and Mearsheimer offer one state scenarios, and my response
    • Jerome Slater mentioned that he wasn't "sure there are any knowledgable observers, or governments, that still have illusions about Israel's torpedoing of the two-state solution. "

      Well there is Canada, which is being run by an Alberta-based clique of hardliners with a purely neo-conservative approach to foreign policy. Anything that Israel says or does is always right with these people.

  • Amb. Christopher Stevens appears to have been killed in premeditated al-Qaeda attack
    • The MSM have been slow off the mark, but they are coming around to the same view of these events. The NY Times now has this:

      While the protesters in Cairo appeared to be genuinely outraged over the anti-Islam video, the attackers in Benghazi were armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Officials said it was possible that an organized group had either been waiting for an opportunity to exploit like the protests over the video or perhaps even generated the protests as a cover for their attack.

      Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a former FBI agent, agreed. “Clearly the event in Libya was a planned, targeted attack and I believe they selected the date probably for a reason,” he said. “As an old investigator, I can tell you, you can’t have that many coincidences on the same day. I don’t believe it.”

      link to

  • Netanyahu goes after Obama: 'Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel'
  • Obama must 'starkly' break with 'ethnic group politics' -- or cede US sovereignty re Iran
    • "The president would win that argument, but first he would have to demonstrate the fortitude to take it forcefully and deftly to the American people."

      Does anyone hold out hope that, if re-elected, Obama will rise to the occasion and make this case? Personally, I'm very skeptical.

  • Two-stater says the reality has shifted to one apartheid state
    • The Globe and Mail in Canada has a piece today on a new documentary by Philip Roth (the filmmaker, not the writer) which looks at Israel and is entitled 'Confessions of a self-hating Jew'.

      "By the film’s end, Roth finds himself advocating for a version of the controversial one-state solution, in which Israelis and Palestinians would live in the same country; one-person, one-vote."

      link to

  • It's apartheid, says Jeffrey Goldberg
    • "One of my resolutions after my last trip to Israel and Palestine was that I would not prevaricate on the use of the word apartheid. There is apartheid in Palestine, plain and simple."

      Some like Jimmy Carter maintain this label applies only to the Occupied Territories. Would you say it's apartheid also in Israel proper? I've tended to accept Carter's point of view and to regard the situation in Israel as closer to the Deep South during the Jim Crow era. I don't, however, have a firm opinion on this and was wondering about your view. - Patrick

  • 'Get ready to fight Iran,' Washington Post warns in URL
    • "[Oren} told the Hebrew-language newspaper that he does not feel there is any pressure on Israel from the U.S. government not to act against Iran ..."

      Well that's not the view in Israel. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dempsey, with Secretary Panetta sitting next to him, recently stated that Israel is militarily incapable of ending Iran's nuclear program. This is being seen in Israel as a slap in the face to Netanyahu and Barak, intended to put them both firmly in their place.

      link to

  • The blatancy of apartheid
    • Agree too, and would add in much of Canada and its political establishment, especially the hideous Harper gov't.

  • Yasser Arafat 'poisoned with Polonium' -- Al Jazeera
    • "I think the most likely perpetrators are the Mossad or a rival faction among the Palestinians."

      You need a nuclear program to produce polonium, and the Palestinians don't have such a program. The polonium has to come, ultimately, from a nuclear power. Of course, it's possible for Israel to have colluded with Palestinians rivals to poison Arafat.

  • Et tu Elena-- Justice Kagan's in Israel, celebrating 'deep commitment to the rule of law'
    • Has anyone here noted this yet? New evidence indicates that Yasser Arafat's death in 2004 was caused by polonium poisoning. As the article linked below mentions, in a previous case of polonium poisoning, British authorities believed that
      "only a sophisticated, state-backed intelligence agency could source Polonium-210 in a form that could be used as poison."

      link to

  • 'Economist' says Palestinians, denied statehood, increasingly 'question the point of the P.A.'
    • "Few Palestinians call for a renewal of violence. But such talk is again in the air. "

      Let's hope not. Violence is how the Israelis want to confront the Palestinians. It's familiar terrain for Israel in which it has all the advantages, and it brings much needed political support internationally. It's non-violent protest and resistance that Israel is incapable of addressing effectively.

  • Groundhog day at State: Settlements are 'nonconstructive,' Israel continues to construct
    • Phil, Nice work putting this together. Really conveys just how pathetic US policy has become. -Patrick

  • Latest video'd settler shooting could defuse third rail in US discourse
    • Phil it seems not so long ago that you thought that, for there to be real change in the US position, it would have to come from the Jewish community because they are so firmly embedded within the American establishment, and have so much influence. Yesterday, however, after attending the debate between B. Kristol and J. Ben-Ami you wrote of your depair over the prospects for the possibility of such change originating from the Jewish community. Now it seems you are more optimistic, but perhaps see change coming from other quarters.

  • Peter Beinart's cognitive dissonance on 'threats to Israel's demographics'
    • In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg two years ago, Beinart stated:

      "I'm not even asking [Israel] to allow full, equal citizenship to Arab Israelis, since that would require Israel no longer being a Jewish state. I'm actually pretty willing to compromise my liberalism for Israel's security and for its status as a Jewish state."

      In the more recent interview with Rabbi Michael Lerner he states in addition to a establishment of a Palestinian state,"they [Palestinians] need to have full individual rights within the State of Israel." This, he says, would "constitute a 'completion' of the Zionist project."

      Given these two passages, one has to wonder if there has been an evolution in Beinart's thinking over the last two years, or if he is simply telling his interviewer what they want to hear.

      In the interview with Rabbi Lerner, Beinart is at least acknowledging that Israel does not have full and equal citizenship for its non-Jewish citizens. All he can offer to support his notion of a democratic Israel then is a tenuous hope that Israel's 'founding principles' will somehow be instated, even as the country moves in exactly the opposite direction.

  • Krugman jumps into debate over Beinart with both pinkies
    • It's clear to me that Krugman really values his position at the Times where his opinion pieces, based as they are on his expertise in economics, can have real influence on US economic policy and politics. He would have good reason to believe that this influence would be put into jeopardy if he were to wade into the Israel/Palestine issue. It's understandable that he should be reluctant to do so.

  • 'Israel's policy endangers world peace' -- Jakob Augstein and Gideon Levy have Gunter Grass's back
    • Yes, it's wrong and entirely deceitful. But we should be clear, the origin of the mistranslation was with the Islamic Republic News Agency (see link below). They produced the erroneous translation and Israel and the West immediately seized it - just too good an opportunity for propaganda to pass on.

      See: link to

  • My spirit is American (a religious manifesto)
  • Obama and Republicans have to support Iran war 'because of funding from certain ethnic groups'
    • The head of the Energy Information Administration testified today before the US Senate that the sanctions on Iran are a contributing factor in driving up gas prices in the US.

      With prices having surpassed the all-time seasonal high, US motorists are not happy. As prices rise further still with the summer driving season, we might just start to see some questioning of the wisdom of US policy on Iran.

      See: link to

  • The flaw of Beinart's conception of Israel's 'flawed but genuine democracy'
    • The 'flaw' is with Beinart who equates 'democracy' with majority rule. In a genuine democracy all people are guaranteed basic rights, are treated equally under law, and are protected against a tyranny of the majority. Within the Green Line Israel is just that for its minorities - a tyranny of the majority.

  • Israel will attack Iran-- and Obama gave tacit approval (Haaretz)
    • For any number of reasons, an Israeli attack against Iran would pose a grave risk to Obama's chances for re-election. In particular, high gas prices are already hurting his approval ratings. He would have to be foolish and reckless to give even tacit support for an attack on Iran. And this it would be out of character; if anything, Obama has shown himself to be cautious politician.

  • Walt and Mearsheimer don't think Israel will attack Iran, and neither will we
    • The saber rattling helps to keep oil prices high. This may help Iran, but it hurts Obama's chances of re-election thus serving Netanyahu's purposes well.

  • Neocons and AIPAC both want war-- but AIPAC has the Dems
    • "With respect to Iran, ... the main impetus for war is coming from the political leadership of Israel and the lobby here, with ... the lobby enjoy[ing] much more influence with Democrats than the neo-cons ever have"

      Surely these Democrats are going to take note of the price of gas in the country is hitting new highs (in fact an all time high for this time of year). This is something that really matters to their constituents. And they are also bound to realize that high gas and oil prices are putting Obama's and their own re-elections in serious jeopardy. They must also have some understanding, however dim, that starting a war with Iran is going exacerbate this situation tremendously.

  • Would you buy a used metaphor from this warmonger? (Niall Ferguson's 'creative destruction' echoes Rice's 'birth-pangs')
    • Paul Krugman has pointed out many times, including just today, that Niall Ferguson, whose supposed expertise is in economics history, has been making predictions that have proved consistently flat wrong, and that he has no real understand of economics. To wit:

      "The first story is good old crowding out: the government is borrowing, that competes with private borrowers, and that drives rates up. That’s what Niall Ferguson was arguing back when, it’s what Morgan Stanley was arguing when it predicted soaring rates in 2010. To be fair, it’s a reasonable story when the economy is near full employment. But it’s all wrong when the economy is depressed, and especially if it’s in a liquidity trap. And it also involves a fundamental misunderstanding of economics to argue, as Ferguson did, that crowding out can actually deepen a slump."

      See: link to

      and from today: link to

  • Beinart and the crisis of liberal Zionism
    • Beinart stated: "I'm not even asking it to allow full, equal citizenship to Arab Israelis, since that would require Israel no longer being a Jewish state."

      Why on earth would giving equal citizenship to the 20% of its population that is not Jewish mean that Israel is no longer a 'Jewish state'? What would it take away from the other 80%? Is the Jewishness of Israel so fragile and tenuous that it needs to constantly suppress its minorities? Why should Israel not be a state for all of its citizens?

      At least Beinart admits that Israel discriminates systematically against its minorities. But it's baffling that he would defend such a proposition.

  • Throwaway line in 'NYT' story suggests that Israel is pressuring U.S. on war with Iran
    • "Panetta? I think Panetta is sloppy and here we are hanging on his words …"

      Panetta is speaking for the U.S. military - a very powerful constituency. And the military definitely does not want to go to war with Iran, not after the experience in Iraq.

      I agree though that there will be attempts to provoke Iran. Just yesterday another one of its nuclear scientists was assassinated.

    • The article states: "So Israeli officials were relieved in December when Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, speaking at a conference in Washington, strongly suggested that the United States was determined to stop not only a weapon, but the ability to produce one."

      The article doesn't relate what Panetta actually said during a conference that the Israelis were pleased with. However, in his comments on Face The Nation, he was very clear: the U.S. red line is 'do not develop a nuclear weapon'. Sure the U.S. may be 'concerned' that Iran will have the capability of producing a nuclear weapon. But he certainly didn't say that the U.S. was going to do everything to prevent Iran from achieving this capability, which it may already possess.

    • Leon Pannetta said "And our red line to Iran is: do not develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us.”

      I would suggest that the Secretary of Defense has, in fact, moved the goal posts. If Iran could master enrichment, it would effectively acquire the capability to produce a nuclear weapon. Hence Iran was not to be allowed to enrich its own uranium. That used to be the U.S. red line. Now it's just: don't build a nuclear weapon. And Panetta acknowledged that Iran is not doing that. The U.S. has effectively conceded that it won't start a war if Iran sticks to the production of nuclear fuel.

  • Another mainstream voice challenges idea of war on Iran
    • Andrew Exum wrote "Why, first off, has Saudi Arabia not already begun a nuclear energy program? (And don't say "oil," because there is an opportunity cost to Gulf states using oil for their own energy rather than selling it on the open market for $100 a barrel.)"

      Exactly. And this same logic applies to Iran. Exum has explained, perhaps inadvertantly, why it is perfectly rational for Iran to pursue a nuclear energy program. In doing so, he has answered those who claim that military ends can be the only purpose of oil-rich Iran's nuclear program.

  • 'Silly messianic superstitious nationalistic ... waste of Judaism' (Did Hitchens abandon these ideas?)
    • "The late Christopher Hitchens had such a great reputation for integrity ..."

      Right. Well, he wasn't above publishing the contents of a purloined private email written by Juan Cole, without so much as asking for his permission. He did so in a Slate article in 2006.

      link to

  • Hitchens's Jewishness
    • "Would say Rest in Peace but Hitchens did not believe in any kind of spiritual afterlife. "

      And he didn't believe in peace either.

  • Why did it take 6 years to talk about the Israel lobby?
    • I read that line as intended to mean Friedman can be identified as a 'good liberal' (i.e., by NYT standards). I didn't think Phil was saying that he is good journalist.

      However, I agree with your point about Barack Obama. I expect that he will be re-elected. However, I doubt very much that he will change course on Israel/Palestine, or anything else for that matter.

  • The lobby blinks! Democratic insiders throw Josh Block under the bus
    • The Richard Sale article cited above contains this gem:

      'Only a few days ago, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, and CENTCOM chief Gen. James Mattis (who commanded the battle of Fallujah in 2004) told President Obama about his seeming lack of firmness in letting Netanyahu know the "lay of the land" - how deeply the US military was opposed to a strike by Tel Aviv. The president's reply was not what the generals expected. Two US officials close to the exchange say that Obama said that he "had no say over Israel" because "it is a sovereign country." '

      So, naturally expecting that the President will act to protect the national interest, top U.S. military figures approach Obama to warn of a grave danger. And the President reacts by effectively lying to them, saying there's nothing he can do.

      I hope the generals took careful note of the important lesson in domestic politics that they had demonstrated to them.

  • Panetta's last words to Israel: 'Get to the damn table... Get to the damn table'
    • This part of Panetta's speech struck me as significant:

      "Thirdly, ... we could possibly be the target of retaliation from Iran, striking our ships, striking our military bases. Fourthly – there are economic consequences to that attack – severe economic consequences that could impact a very fragile economy in Europe and a fragile economy here in the United States."

      He is explaining here why the U.S. is just not going to attack Iran. The U.S. economy, already on its knees, would be devastated. U.S ships, including aircraft carreirs, could be sunk. That's a scenario that could lead to the retaliatory use of nuclear weapons by the U.S. They are not going to take chances like that, especially when U.S. intelligence assesses that Iran is intent on only developing the capability of producing a nuclear deterrent.

  • Nakba denial: 'NYT' removes the word 'expulsion' from article describing Palestinian refugees
    • Great catch!.

      Note that the Times doesn't say that a factual error had been made which had to be corrected. So this is not much a case of Nakba denial as one of Nakba suppression.

      I would say that it's now definitely incumbent on the Times to clarify its editorial policy. Is it their policy to suppress facts and information when complaints are received? It is policy to omit facts that might make some of their readers uncomfortable?

  • I hold my breath, Haaretz
  • Israeli newspaper owner says Obama can't stop settlers' 'apartheid regime' because of 'Jewish lobby'
    • Regardless of Schocken's grasp of U.S. politics, he has a crystal clear view of his own country's intentions with regard to the Palestinians. It's rare to see Israel's objectives expressed so candidly. For me, this is the most powerful passage in the article:

      "And with regard to the Palestinians living in [the occupied territories] - those who did not flee or were not expelled - they must be subjected to a harsh regime that will encourage their flight, eventuate in their expulsion, deprive them of their rights, and bring about a situation in which those who remain will not be even second-class citizens, and their fate will be of interest to no one. They will be like the Palestinian refugees of the War of Independence; that is their desired status."

  • Phoenix Jewish columnist says Obama's complaint about Netanyahu made American Jews feel unsafe
    • I realize this is somewhat off topic, but in case it's not been cited already, here is passage of interest from a recent speech by Chas Freeman:

      "The bankruptcy of American policy on the Israel-Palestine question has led to an effective U.S. decision that it is more important to frustrate Palestinian self-determination than to continue to pay for and participate in many aspects of global governance. This decision reflects the passionate attachment of the U.S. Congress to Israel, which is currently under exceptionally short-sighted, self-destructive, and repellent management. The United States is at odds with almost all of the international community, where the Palestinian cause enjoys overwhelming sympathy and support. If the Palestinians continue to press their case internationally, as most expect them to do, the American exodus from UNESCO promises to be merely the first of many such U.S. withdrawals from United Nations organizations. In some cases, other countries will seek to increase their influence by making up the resulting funding shortfalls; in some they won’t. Without at all intending to do so, the United States is forcing the international community to re-engineer global institutions to function without it or its money and without reference to American views or interests. The failure of U.S. diplomacy in Palestine thus risks translation into a definitive American retreat from global political participation and relevance."

      link to

  • 'WaPo' columnist embraces Condi Rice's peace process fiction
    • "It certainly was close."

      Really? It seems more likely to me that this provides a convincing demonstration that the two-state solution can not be achieved. After all, under the 'best deal ever', Israel nevertheless insists on maintaining a series of settlements that penetrate deeply into the West Bank. Not only would these settlements effectively break up Palestine into a collection of separated enclaves, they are also located over major acquifers in the WB.

      Needless to say, there's simply no basis here for establishment of a Palestinian state. That would have to be based closely on the '67 lines, or not at all. And Israel would have to confront the settlers, something it has proven itself profoundly incapable of doing.

  • Tom Friedman pushed Iraq war as 'radical liberal revolution' to 'install democracy in heart of Arab world'
    • After the invasion and no WMD were found, a new rationale for the war had to be found. So Friedman wrote on Oct. 30 , 2003 :

      "unlike many leftists -- [Baathists] understand exactly what this war is about. They understand that U.S. power is not being used in Iraq for oil, or imperialism ... They understand that this is the most radical-liberal revolutionary war the U.S. has ever launched -- a war of choice to install some democracy in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world."

      But before the invasion it was a different matter. This was Friedman on Jan. 5, 2003:

      "Is the war that the Bush team is preparing to launch in Iraq really a war for oil? My short answer is yes. Any war we launch in Iraq will certainly be - in part - about oil. To deny that is laughable.
      Let's cut the nonsense. The primary reason the Bush team is more focused on Saddam [than N. Korea] is because if he were to acquire weapons of mass destruction, it might give him the leverage he has long sought -- not to attack us, but to extend his influence over the world's largest source of oil, the Persian Gulf."

      link to

  • Halper: Israel may attack Iran so that we won't hear the word 'Palestinian' for another 5 years
    • I agree too - it won't happen. An Israeli attack would be ineffectual, and so Israel needs (and wants) the US to do it. But the US is not about to start another war that would send oil prices sky high and really destroy its already fragile economy.

  • Bill Kristol: 'We need to hear' that Obama has gone to war on Iran
    • "His saber-rattling in response to the kooky car-salesman plot is Obama's way of propitiating a powerful constituency inside the Democratic Party too"

      Really? It seems to me that, intentionally or not, by playing up this kooky accusation to the hilt Obama is fanning the flames of war.

      The whole episode really calls into question his judgement. Try to imagine what other governments around the world are thinking of Obama as he tries to use this to push for further sanctions on Iran. They'll come to the conclusion that (a) really believes in the story and is unbalanced, or (b) he's lying to them.

  • Sullivan on Obama's 'capitulation' at the UN
    • Pablemont is exactly right. Don't hold out hope that Obama will change policies once re-elected. He won't. What we've seen for the last 2.5 years is the 'real' Obama, to the extent that there is such a thing.

  • Is Barack Obama the most pro-Israel president in history?
    • "Is Barack Obama the most pro-Israel president in history?"

      A better question, in my opinion, would be: Is Obama the most craven, least principaled president in US history?

  • 'Haaretz' columnist says Netanyahu/September will bring 'death' of dream of Jewish state
    • "Most importantly, though, premature declaration of statehood absolves Israel of any and all responsibility for the destructive legacy of occupation, these become purely Palestinian problems."

      Really can't see how this could be true. Palestinian lands, whether or not they are designated a 'state', will remain occupied territories. That's their international legal status now, and it won't change. Neither will Israel's legal obligations as the occupying power.

  • 'Forward' writer concedes that liberalism is at odds with 'tribe-centered' 'prejudice' necessary to Israel's survival
    • Liberal democracies emphasize univeralism within their own boundaries. In principle, all citizens of a liberal democracy are accorded equal rights under law. No less important, liberal democracies take measures and establish rights to protect against the tyranny of the majority. As a result, the majority can not vote and put in effect laws that violate the basic rights of some group of unchosen ones within their societies. It must be acknowledged that western democracies do not always live up to these ideals. Neverthessless they are committed to them in principal.

      Israel, on the other hand, is committed to no such principles, and it is plainly not a liberal democracy. It was created as a state that accords favoured special status to one group, the Jewish majority. By the same token, it discriminates in law and in the allocation of resources against its minorities. Israel is a democracy only in the sense that it holds votes and has majority rule. But it is an ethnic/religious democracy which makes it qualitatively different than the liberal democracies of the West.

  • Strauss-Kahn. Israel every morning
    • DSK:
      “I consider that every Jew in the diaspora, wherever he is, and thus this holds true for France, should contribute to helping Israel. Moreover that is why it is important for Jews to assume political responsibilities. Not everyone in the Jewish community thinks so, but I believe it is necessary. […] To sum it up, in my functions and in my daily life, through all my actions, I do what I can to contribute my modest stone to the construction of the land of Israel”

      Passage is drawn from link to

  • J.J. Goldberg uses Bob Dylan to make a perfect argument for the cultural boycott of Israel
    • I've been to two Bob Dylan concerts in recent years and on both occasions he spoke only once and that was strictly limited to identifying the members of his band. And that was it, no hello or good night, or other acknowledgement of the audience. Seems like it was no different in Tel Aviv.

  • Would Netanyahu try and head off Palestinian statehood initiative by bombing Iran?
  • Pappe says belief in Zionism and in Goldstone Report are incompatible
    • No organized plan for ethnic cleansing? And you really believe this? Well, it doesn't accord with this passage quoting Ben Gurion before the war:

      "Regarding the Galilee, Mr. [Moshe] Sharett already told you that about 100,000 Arabs still now live in the pocket of Galilee. Let us assume that a war breaks out. Then we will be able to cleanse the entire area of Central Galilee, including all its refugees, in one stroke. In this context let me mention some mediators who offered to give us the Galilee without war. What they meant was the populated Galilee. They didn’t offer us the empty Galilee, which we could have only by means of a war. Therefore if a war is extended to cover the whole of Palestine, our greatest gain will be the Galilee. It is because without any special military effort which might imperil other fronts, only by using the troops already assigned for the task, we could accomplish our aim of cleansing the Galilee."

      From a protocol of the Government of Israel, translated from Hebrew by Israel Shahak, in "Truth or Myth about Israel? Read between Quotation Marks" by Charley Reese in The Orlando Sentinel (13 June 1999); later published as "What Israeli Historians Say About 1948 Ethnic Cleansing" in Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (September 1999).

  • Five years after publication of 'The Israel Lobby,' I'm still grateful
    • Overall, I'm very sympathetic to your point of view. However, I think you're mistaken on this count: "For one thing there was little evident material interest in the Iraq war, not when oil concessions are going to Chinese and Russian companies. "

      The price of oil and its general availability is much more important to the United States than who happens to get concessions. In addition, the US did not gain the political influence in Iraq that it expected, and so one can not judge intent based on the outcome.

      It is clear enough that one of the goals of the war was to see Iraq rehabilitated as a major oil producer, without a hostile Saddam Hussein in power. And there is indeed evidence to support the notion that oil concerns were a factor. They were mentioned explicitly by Bush's chief economic advisor, Lawrence Lindsey, in the run-up to the war:

      "When there is a regime change in Iraq, you could add three million to five million barrels of production [each day] to world supply. The successful prosecution of the war would be good for the economy." - Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2002.

      "But under every plausible scenario, the negative effect is quite small relative to the economic benefits that would come from a successful prosecution of the war. The key issue is oil, and a regime change in Iraq would facilitate an increase in world oil” which would tend to lower oil prices he [Lindsey] said. - Washington Times, September 19, 2002.

      Although his calculations turned out to be very wrong, these statements are understandable in light of the review that was conduct in the lead up to the 2001 Bush-Cheney National Energy Policy. It had plenty to say about Iraq. For example,

      "Like it or not, Iraqi reserves represent a major asset that can quickly add capacity to world oil markets and inject a more competitive tenor to oil trade. However, such a policy will be quite costly as this trade-off will encourage Saddam Hussein to boast of his 'victory' against the United States, fuel his ambitions, and potentially strengthen his regime."

      "The resulting tight [oil] markets have increased U.S. and global vulnerability to disruption and provided adversaries undue potential influence over the price of oil. Iraq has become a key "swing" producer, posing a difficult situation for the U.S. government." - Baker Institute Study No. 15 “Strategic Energy Policy – Challeges for the 21st Century”, April, 2001, prepared by the Council on Foreign Relations.

      The war had many proponents. Some may have been Israel-first neo-conservatives, but that label doesn't apply to all of the important principals (e.g., Cheney, Rumsfeld). In this light, I think it makes most sense to take a broad view of the reasons for the war. It was about power and deepening American hegemony over the Middle East. There were many reasons for this, and Israel may certainly have been uppermost in the minds of some. But it wasn't the only reason.

  • Obama gives big thumbs up to settlements at UN (and kills the two-state solution --Haber)
    • I think it's a triumph that Abbas and the PA had the courage and fortitude not to cave in to the US and to have this resolution put to a vote. The whole world now has seen that the United States is incompetent to conduct a 'peace process'. The Europeans, in particular, will now know that it is folly to give the US any credibility in this regard. And it is now clear to everyone that this is the case regardless of who is President.

  • Funny. Funny haha or funny like fish, as my mother would ask? Like fish, mom
    • The virtue of this exercise is to bring clarity to the situation by demonstrating emphatically to the world that the United States is incapable of mediating a resolution to the conflict. As it can not bring itself even to act in its own interest, the dysfunctionality of US foreign policy will be plain for all to see.

  • Neo-Cons: Egypt shows Bush as prophet and the demise of 'Arab Exceptionalism'
    • Neocons have a long displayed a penchant for inventing 'exceptionalisms'. To wit, consider this passage from George Packer's 2003 pre-invasion article explaining the long-forgotten 'Iraqi exceptionalism':

      "This bloody history has produced a hopeful new idea. Call it Iraqi exceptionalism. It's the idea that Iraqis have suffered so intensely under a radical nationalist regime that they are by now immune to the anti-Western rhetoric that remains potent in the rest of the Arab world. Iraqis crushed by Saddam's brand of Arab nationalism do not see America and Israel as their eternal enemies. The real enemy is the one within.'

      Source: link to

    • Neocons like to pretend that they are 'dreaming of democracy', to borrow George Packer's phrase. But David Frum made it clear in early 2003 what they actually wanted and expected from the Iraq invasion: "An American-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein, - and a replacement of the radical Baathist dictatorship with a new government more closely aligned with the United States - would put America more wholly in charge of the region than any power since the Ottomans, or maybe even the Romans."

  • Al Jazeera publishes bombshell leak concerning the peace process; ex-CIA official 'The overwhelming conclusion one draws from this record is that the process for a two-state solution is essentially over'
    • I think that another consequence of all this is that the American position in the ME will sink to a new low. I think it's worth recalling that the real purpose of G.W. Bush's efforts at Annapolis were to forge an anti-Iran coalition among 'moderate' Arab states. In only to mollify their own publics, these states demanded of the US that there be a peace process and an end I/P conflict. That process and the US role have now been discredited. With the Tunisian example on their minds, you can bet that 'moderate' Arab states will be more inclined to keep their distance from the US.

  • Report: US will not veto UN resolution condemning settlements
    • I should have added that all Israeli construction in occupied East Jerusalem is already illegal. Any forthcoming resolution would do nothing more than reaffirm this.

    • Regarding the article 'Obama will not veto UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements', it will be interesting (and surprising) if this turns out to be correct. However, it's not encouraging that in such a short article contains two major inaccuracies.

      1) "The sources added that it would be the first time the US does not use its veto against Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

      Simply not true.

      2) "If the Security Council approve such a resolution, all the construction in the East and West Jerusalem will be against the International law ...'

      East Jerusalem, yes, West Jerusalem, no.

  • Mossad chief's statement removes Iranian nuclear threat (Will the 'Atlantic' report it here?)
    • Not really hard to see why Netanyahu should be furious. His tactic for avoiding to doing anything about the Palestinian issue has been to invoke the threat from Iran. This, he has insisted, is an imminent existential threat, and it must dealt with before anything any kind of accomodation can be considered with Palestinians. Now even the head Mossad says that whatever threat that may exist has been put well off into the future. So it now becomes much harder for Netanyahu to use his favourite diversion to change the conversion.

  • Gideon Levy: 2010 was the year the truth came out
    • "And, to accomplish that requires cessation of rockets and all politically motivated violence directed towards Israel, Israelis, even settlers. It requires introduction of responsible Palestinian leadership and community to Israeli society."

      Again with conditions on Palestinians. It's alway the Palestinians who have to comply with this or that requirement in the hope that just maybe, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, it might get somewhere. And, by the way, if they are evicted from their homes, or killed in peaceful protests, they just have to take it. And it will be insisted that they have to do so, again, and again, and again. But dear me, there must not ever be any consequences for Israeli society. (Except that they may have to listen to better arguments.)

      In truth, it is your prescription that is a hail mary, and it's plainly evident to all that it won't work. The path ahead is clear: continued expansion of settlements, endless colonization, expansion of an apartheid-like regime in the territories.

  • Rabbi threatens civil war if settlements are evacuated
    • I think this is well understood as a very real threat in Israel. To wit, Shimon Peres made the point before the British Parliament in November 2008 that Israel would have difficulty removing the settlements in the West Bank without provoking a civil war. See:

      link to

      If the state of Israel sees the matter in this light, and clearly there is strong evidence that it does, then we can be absolutely certain that it will not remove the settlements, no matter what.

  • The smoking cable: Israel said it had 'secret accord' with U.S. over expanding settlements even as Obama said in Cairo they must stop!
    • "That no country or the UN came to help Israel is a lesson Israelis remember to this day."

      It is not true that no one helped Israel. Under Stalin, the Soviet Union arranged for crucial and decisive aid in the form of armaments to be transferred to Israel from the eastern bloc in Europe, in particular from Czechoslovakia.

  • Dershowitz is unreliable narrator
  • The establishment sees the (day)light
    • "Is the US so devoid of policy imagination that the concept of engaging honestly with Iran is beyond its intellectual reach?"

      In a word, yes. Ideological, hamstrung by domestic politics, vindictive and incompetent - that's how I would characterize US foreign policy.

  • Joy to the world, David Broder says Obama can rejuvenate the economy by going to war with Iran
    • One has to wonder if this a case of advancing dementia. Broder is, after all, quite old (81). Nevertheless, he should be asked to explain himself. We need to hear him flesh out his ideas.

      I wonder just what kind of war he actually has in mind. Is it having the US Air Force dropping bombs on Iran's nuclear facilities for a few days? Is that the sort of thing he sees as precipitating a US economic recovery, the oil price notwithstanding? Or does he envision a full scale invasion complete with regime change, i.e., a new quagmire for the US military. Is that how the US turns itself around and Obama gets re-elected?

      For our edification, he needs to elaborate on this great idea that he's putting forward.

  • The NYT is wrong again on settlement legality
    • If you think the NYT offers somewhat slanted explanations (and I agree), consider that here in Canada we have the Canwest newspaper chain, with far and away the largest circulation of dailies across the country. Here is an example of how the status of the settlements is helpfully explained to readers:

      "About 500,000 Israelis live in Jewish settlements in West Bank areas that Palestinians consider illegal."

      See: link to

  • Les cheveux, la chemise, les sans-boutons, l'ideologie-- tout wrongee!!
    • Good post. BTW, it's la chemise, as this is a feminine noun.

      From Wikipedia: "Lévy is, with his third wife, a regular fixture in Paris Match magazine, wearing his trademark unbuttoned white shirts and designer suits. Some have attributed to Lévy a reputation for narcissism. One article about him coined the dictum, "God is dead but my hair is perfect." He once said that the discovery of a new shade of grey left him "ecstatic." He is a regular victim of the "pie thrower" Noël Godin, who describes Lévy as "a vain, pontificating dandy".

  • Palestinian guns - redux
    • Israel may well kill thousands of Palestinians, but that will not reverse demongraphic trends. To do that would require killing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. To my mind, this is an implausible scenario - far too many people are watching.

      I just don't see much to support the notion that "There must be a Palestinian state, or eventually there will be no Palestine and no Palestinians, if current trends continue.”

      What seems more probable is Israel vacating pockets of the West Bank thus creating a set of small, tightly controlled Palestinian enclaves - in effect, a series of open-air prisons, like Gaza. Agha and Malley allude to this scenario in their WaPo article (link to

    • "There must be a Palestinian state, or eventually there will be no Palestine and no Palestinians, if current trends continue."

      It would be helpful if you could explain the meaning of this passage. Current demographic trends show an increase in the Palestinian population in Palestine. Are you suggesting then that Israel would resort to expelling the Palestinians? Please clarify.

  • White House briefing for Jewish-American leadership outlines strategy for Israeli-Palestinian talks
    • "The PA is expected to consent to a land swap with Israel: In exchange for giving up 3.9% of the area of the West Bank in which the settlement blocs are located, the Palestinians expect to receive land in the Negev."

      Who expects this - the Americans? Why would the Palestinians agree to give up 3 - 9% of some of the most valuable land in the West Bank in exchange for some useless piece of desert?

  • 'NYT' finally lets its readers know that 2SS is all but over
    • "Bronner quickly blames the end of the two state solution on the Palestinians, saying that they have repeatedly rejected Israel offers of Partition. I have some sympathy for this view—if I were Palestinian, I would think, if we hold out long enough, we will get a majority Palestinian state—but then wouldn’t you do the same thing in the same dispossessed situation?"

      It's important to make a distinction here between the failure to achieve the two-state solution and the present situation which makes this a practical impossibility.

      There was a political process, the Oslo Accords, whose goal was realization of a Palestinian state. To blame the Palestinians for the failure of Oslo seems a bit rich given, for example, recently released statements made by Netanyahu that he acted expressly to undermine the Accords when he was prime minister in the 1990s. The Israeli right was always opposed to Oslo and they worked assiduously so that it would fail.

      As far as the two-state solution having become a practical impossibility, that is a consequence of the continuous expansion of the Israeli settlements and is entirely the responsibility of the government of Israel.

  • War of the hedges
    • On the operation to trim the trees, the IDF Major General said "It was on both sides of the border but still within [Israeli] territory. " Does anyone understand what this means? Perhaps it has to do with the IDF saying that both sides of the fence seen in the AP photograph are within Israel. (This was reported in the Globe and Mail:
      link to

  • Did the State Dept cave to pressure in denying flotilla activist entry to U.S.?
    • The following is off topic, but still I think still of interest to this blog.

      Richard Fadden, the head of the Canada's spy agency, CSIS, made national news in Canada today when he stated that CSIS believes some Canadian politicans are under the influence of a foreign country. He mentioned that this included two provincial cabinet ministers, as well as people at the municipal level. The province with the two cabinet ministers was not identified, nor was the foreign government, although China is suspected.

      As reported: "Fadden described how a few foreign governments are seeking out Canadian politicians from the diaspora of those countries and are offering free trips to the homeland or access to business contacts."

      The reaction to Fadden's comments has been one of considerable alarm. In later remarks he stated that "The Service has been investigating and reporting on such threats for many years. Foreign interference is a common occurrence in many countries around the world and has been for decades."

      It's clear that CSIS views it as a threat to national security when a foreign government gains influence among the diaspora who are active in politics.

      link to

  • 'CSM' questions Israel's Iran paranoia, thereby breaking MSM taboo
  • Adviser without portfolio, Walt tells Obama how to get back his Cairo form
    • No oil or gas has been actually been found. These are 'undiscovered' reserves that the US Geological Survey believes might exist. The 122 tcf of gas and 1.7 Bbbl of oil are hypothetical figures - essentially a guess by the USGS on what might be there.

      This report in a trade journal 3 days earlier is more precise than the one in Israel Today:

      link to

      It states:

      "The Levant basin province in the eastern Mediterranean region could hold 122 tcf of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas, according to the US Geological Survey’s first review of the region’s potential."


      USGS puts the region’s undiscovered, recoverable oil resource at around 1.7 Bbbl. It conducted this review as part of a program directed at estimating the undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources of the world’s “priority” petroleum basins.

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