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  • Netanyahu won. Now what?
    • "That’s why the first world leader to congratulate Netanyahu was the Prime Minister of India"

      Um, unless no world leader at all congratulated Bibi (which, by the way, is pro forma anyway, and doesn't mean a thing), wouldn't, by definition, one of them have to have been the first to do so? So what if it was India's PM? India is not the pre eminent country in the world, not by a long shot. In any event, whoever it was, the same argument could be made...."That's why the first world leader to congratulate Netanyahu was the President of France...." "....was the PM of Italy..." etc.

    • Avigail Abarbanel:

      Thank you for taking the time to reply in detail to my post.

      Assuming the validity of the model that posits two, discrete kinds of guilt, without overlap, one healthy and useful, leading to contrition and attempts to ameliorate, and the other counterproductive and pathological, leading to further crimes, still, a population as large as that of Israeli Jews is not likely to be composed of a huge majority of one and very few of the other. A group numbering in the millions, one would think, would have plenty of folks representing both kinds of guilt.

      "The comparison with SA is appropriate but only up to a point. For Israeli Jews the existence of Israel is a matter of life and death. They believe that without Israel all Jews will perish. This is why from their point of view they cannot *afford* to reflect too deeply or take any reflections to their logical conclusion. The logical conclusion will mean an end to an exclusively Jewish state and the creation of a one state for all. To most Israeli Jews this translate to annihiliation. It is really important to understand all of this when we try to make sense of what Israel does and what it is. I am intimately familar with this because I was a product of Israeli upbriniging and education and for a long long time was still immersed in the same psychology, even long after I left."

      No doubt, you have first hand understanding of Israeli Jews, but I think you dismiss the analogy with white South Africans, particularly the Boers, too easily.

      For the Boers too had a notion that the existence of the apartheid State was a matter of life and death for their people. They too believed that racial equality would lead to the destruction of their people, and, perhaps also similar to many Israeli Jews, there was also a strong religious element at work here.

      Apartheid, like Zionism, was many things. It had a secular, pseudo scientific side. It was also grounded in the Boer historical experience, which, while not the same as the Holocaust, did involve taking on the British Empire at its height, and then being subjected to near genocidal measures (concentration camps, forced clearing of villages, killing of civilians) as that Empire was unable to crush the Boer Rebellion in any other way.

      Also like the Jews, perhaps even more so, the Boers are and were always a relatively small group, when viewed in a worldwide context. For the Boers, they were surrounded by Black Africans who, naturally enough, hated them. And, beyond that, by an indifferent Western world, ready, as they saw it, to sell them out to gain favor with a larger constituency. Sounds familiar, right, viz a viz Israeli Jews and the Arab and Muslim worlds and the West? And both Israel and the RSA went hyper military, all the way to the point of nuclear weapons, to address their fears. Both also had "an enemy within" as well as enemies outside of its borders. Both also routinely violated the sovereignty of their neighbors, again, as they treated their own fears as license to do unto others anything that appeared to assuage those fears. Etc, etc.

      Furthermore, there was a strong religious, messianic, persecution complex component to apartheid as well, again, similar to Zionism.

      I would also point out that, unlike the Zionists, the Boers actually did have a three hundred year history in the land of South Africa. Unlike the Zionists, the most ancient of which got off the boat in Palestine in the late 1800's, with many more arriving much later, right down to the present day, the Boers were, by the late 20th century, truly indigenous to Africa, and, perhaps more importantly, literally had nowhere else to go. And, of course, there were few Boers elsewhere, unlike the still large Diaspora Jewish population. And so the notion that their very survival as Boers was bound up with the suprematist nature of their polity was even stronger than that it is for Jews in Israel.

      Thus, all the things in life that matter, material, spiritual, community, history, etc, were bound up in apartheid. And yet it fell to sanctions, eventually.

      Thanks again.

      Edited to add, re your further comments, that apartheid was also very much a cult, that the education system in the RSA was much like what is described in Israel, that young men in the RSA were called upon to do terrible deeds in the townships, in the bush, and across the borders, etc.

    • " Israel has for a long time been readying itself for when the time comes, to bunker down, live with austerity and give up the fancy lifestyle the country has become increasingly accustomed to in the last 20-25 years. They can do this. Israel has always prepared itself psychologically and economically to being isolated. All that openness to the rest of the world that Israel has enjoyed increasingly in the last generation or so, and Israel’s acceptance by others, have always been seen as temporary in the eyes of most Israeli Jews."

      I wonder if this is really so. After all, white South Africans, particularly those of Boer descent, saw themselves as the ultimate outsiders, and their "Boer Trek" mentality, mythology and pseudo religion was based on going it alone. And yet, in the end, they could not bear being isolated from the Western world of culture, politics, art, sports, etc.

      "Fundamentally Israeli Jews believe that the world hates them because they are Jewish (in their mind it has nothing to do with colonialism or the Palestinians). So although Israel has brought its own situation upon itself, that is not how Israeli Jews see it. "

      I wonder about that too. I think, "fundamentally," more people than not in an oppressor class are at least conflicted, and do NOT accept the justifying lies and half truths and misrepresentation and BS arguments in toto. Again, I think that was true in apartheid South Africa, as well as in the Jim Crow South and in the slavery South that preceded it. I think, any such group, Boer-like, will circle the wagons, and pretend to the outside world that they really believe it is none of their fault, that it is all about unfair prejudice against them, and so on.

      But, deep in their hearts, "fundamentally," they know it is not so.

      And, to me, one of the most telling indicators of this is the growing incompetence and cowardliness of the IDF. Folks who really believe in their cause, right or wrong, as the earlier Zionists did, are quite ready to die for it, and fight like demons. Folks who, in their hearts, when you strip away the crap they tell outsiders, know that their group are the oppressors and are fighting for nothing more than imperialism, colonialism, etc, do not make for good and brave soldiers. And so we have seen in Gaza and Lebanon.

    • Funny how the authoritarian/racist right always talks about the Other being "bused in" to vote. Some weird combination of scorn for those who take mass transit and the desire to suppress voters who they don't agree with/hold in contempt/want to continue to oppress.

  • UC Berkeley Israel group wants to ban imaginary word rhyming with intifada as 'triggering, terrifying'
    • Yeah, sure. "This one" is just LOL!

      Ha, ha, ha!!!....those zany Zionists and their hilarious death threats!

      But, drat, the humorless "left wingers" just don't get it!

    • Your inconsistency is unbelievable.

      Once again, in a two paragraph post, in the same breath, practically, you manage to minimize actual, documented instances of outright bigotry and threats from your "side" and yet make up ("over the years" indeed!), and decry, allegedly similar instances directed at your "side." And at the same time accuse others of "bigotry!" The arrogance, the chutzpah, of Zionist double speak is almost unfathomable.

      IN THIS CASE, we have clear death threats as a result of an orchestrated campaign of hate, misinformation, propaganda, lies and hysteria directed by Zionist organizations. That is hardly "silly." Nor is it exactly surprising that "yahoos" would run with that all the way to death threats. IF, in some other case (again, "over the years"), Zionists have gotten death threats, then, in those instances, that is wrong as well (which nobody here would deny). And, that, of course, is even allowing for the false equivalence of the oppressor and the oppressed, which is highly debatable.

      (1) On the overall, your "side" is wrong in substance, as the oppressor group.

      (2) In this particular instance, your "side," both the organized agitators and propagandizers, and the "yahoos" who respond to their lies with death threats, are wrong in substance.

      (3) You are wrong to deny (2), and its significance. (Of course, you are also wrong to deny (1) and its significance, but that is always true, rather than merely being true on this thread.)

      (4) You are wrong to cloud the waters with other, merely posited instances, that have nothing to do with this instance. And,

      (5) You are wrong to continue to insist in your odious course of conduct even after your attempts at distraction, distortion, false equivalence, marginalization and shilling for oppression have been exposed.

    • It really is amazing.

      On the one hand, we see the classic minimization and marginalization technique. Despite the fact that numerous Zionist individuals and even organizations have joined in the racist, colonialist condemnation of this perfectly acceptable word, and that friggin' DEATH THREATS have been issued over it, the whole thing is merely "silly." So what's the big deal?

      On the other hand, completely made-up out of whole cloth and totally unsubstantiated, full of you know what, barstool claims of "anti Semitism on campus" are so "frightening" that they must be kowtowed to, as they explain, and excuse, all.

      The evil that is actually done to thee by mine is "silly." What I make up and claim that thou did to mine is "frightening."

  • The U.S. sells out a brave, democratic Muslim leader -- again (Updated on March 13)
    • Er, "acknowledgement" is one thing, but "sanctions" are quite another. Sanctions ARE interference. Now, I am not at all expert on the issue of the Maldives, and, for all I know, the US has encouraged anti democratic elements there. On the other hand, I, like the other poster, would prefer that the USA not intervene at all, not in Iraq and Syria, and not in the Maldives either. Furthermore, the fact that the USA has and continues to interfere elsewhere is not a good reason for it do so in this case.

      And, frankly, I really don't care if this particular leader can be described as a "progressive Muslim," or any other kind of Muslim, or progressive, or if he supported action on climate change, or not. It is simply not our place, not with sanctions and not otherwise, to try to bully other countries to conduct their internal affairs so that they accord with what we want, even if what we want is "progressive."

      If a country behaves so egregiously that a truly international sanctions movement develops and wins majority support in the UNGA, then, if it accords with our values, I would agree that the US should go along with it. But I do not support free floating, unilaterally imposed sanctions by the USA against anyone.

      I would also point out that these stories of outrage and demands for "sanctions" are almost always raised against post colonial, of color regimes in Third World countries (with the odd exception of a Serbia, which rocked the EU/USA boat). Ditto with ICC indictments, as the "criminalization" of politics always seems to involve weak, dependent African regimes. Somehow, the USA's and UK's are never the target of sanctions, despite the fact that both routinely violate international law through aggressive wars, as opposed to merely conducting their internal affairs in a way that some folks don't like. No, I'm afraid that the "new," "humanitarian," allegedly "progressive" interventionism is just, to switch the saying, pouring the old wine of colonialism, racism and paternalism into a new wineskin.

      The truly "progressive" FP stance for folks in the First World is the "hands off" variety. Hands off the Maldives. Hands off Iraq. Hands off Afghanistan. Etc. A little humility, a little recognition that even us "progressives" don't have all the answers, in my view, is much better than the knee jerk call for "sanctions" every time something happens somewhere in the "global South" that we don't like.

  • Two-state-solution is at last disputed in Israeli elections (though not 'nation state of the Jewish people')
    • "It [Israel] is also a liberal state that extends equal civic and legal rights to all of its citizens, whether they are of Jewish national origins or not or whether they practice the traditional religion of the Jewish people in any of its forms or not."

      I wonder why Zionists even bother to repeat this malarkey on this website. Here, at least, there are few to none who really believe this claptrap. Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel do NOT have equal civic and legal rights with Israeli Jews. And everyone here knows that.

      "Liberal Zionists....support equal civic rights in the Jewish state for citizens of Israel who belong to national minority groups, in accordance with Israel’s Declaration of Independence and Basic Laws. Liberal Zionists denounce discrimination against our fellow Israeli citizens who are not of Jewish nationality and encourage the full participation of citizens who belong to any of the national minority communities in the political, social and economic spheres."

      Perhaps there are liberal Zionists who do "support" the fine words and promises made in the referred to documents. But that is a far cry from proving that those things are a reality. And, as in pre Apartheid South Africa, the liberals have made their peace with a regime that emphatically does NOT provide equal rights, or even basic human rights, to all of the folks under its control, including those living in its bantustans (as well as not providing equal rights even to all who are technically citizens). So, while these liberals may indeed "support," in some abstract way, equality for all, that "support" is pretty much lip service. And deserves to be treated as such.

  • 'NYT' reports 'surge of hostile sentiment against Jews' nationwide -- on what basis?
    • "How you lie to yourself in the service of hiding your own animosity towards Jews. If anyone had questioned a Muslim the same way, MW, the blogosphere and the press would be all over it too like stink on shit. And rightly so."

      LOL! If that were the case, then "MW, blogosphere and the press" would be doing nothing but!

      The truth is that Muslims are constantly questioned and practically forced to justify themselves merely for being Muslims in official, quasi official and popular settings. Being a Muslim, in the USA, means being held responsible for every evil deed committed by any Muslim, anywhere, going back to the Crusades, if not before, and extending to the end of time. Every such deed must be specifically "condemned" by every Muslim, and, beyond that, every Muslim must be able to point to specific actions that he or she has taken to prevent such acts or see that they are punished.

      Being a Muslim means always having to say you're sorry. Or else you are "with" the terrorists!

    • Donald:

      "I still think that asking someone about her being a Jew is a really stupid thing to do at best and the same would apply to any other faith–the student should have asked a more specific question about the student’s history of activism for or against BDS, if any, assuming that this is something relevant to the position. Couching it in terms of the candidate being a Jew or a Muslim or a Christian should be out of bounds."

      But that conflates two very different things. Namely what you think and what is standard practice. Personal religious beliefs are routinely brought up in the context of confirmation hearings. That you, subjectively, think all such questioning "should be out of bounds" does not mean that it is out of bounds, as a matter of practice and precedent.

      And, that being the case, nothing unusual, and thus nothing anti Semitic, was done here, even if the questioning touched on personal beliefs rather than strictly on organizational affiliations. If non Jews can be questioned in this way, and they can be, so can Jews. And it is not anti Semitic to apply a rule, however much you personally disagree with it, to Jews and non Jews alike.

      Nor is it "stupid" to do so, for fear of the very false cries of "anti Semitism" that have arisen. Again, those cries are inevitable, no matter what the actual facts. And for critics of Israel and supporters of BDS to have to hamstring themselves to the point where rules that apply to non Jews cannot be applied to Jews would undermine the entire effort. That's kinda the point, no? That the rules that apply to everyone else also apply to Israel, despite it being run by Jews.

      I get it that you don't like the general rule. I also get that you have a point: the general rule is a very dubious one. Nevertheless, it is the rule, and it should either be changed across the board, or not at all.

    • "They had a conversation about whether this student could be fair because she was a Jew. They might have been thinking about BDS and Hillel and support for Israel’s crimes or who knows what, but they made it about her Jewishness. That was anti-semitic and if they didn’t mean it that way, it still doesn’t get them off the hook. I’m glad they apologized, but it was a stupid and yes , anti-semitic thing to do and they have just given every BDS opponent an example that will be cited from now till doomsday. I agree with Phil and James about the awfulness of the NYT article and in fact I’d go further than that, and will in a minute, but these students made a bad mistake even if they didn’t mean it the way it sounded."

      Again, I just don't buy it. I agree that membership in organizations is clearly within acceptable bounds, but I do not at all agree that questions about personal religious beliefs are anything unusual either. Perhaps, as a general rule, they SHOULD be, but that is not the practice in the USA. Religious beliefs, if taken seriously, certainly CAN impact political and even judicial decisions. Certain folks have religious views about, say, abortion and birth control, and if they are nominated for judgeships it is not all considered to be "anti Catholic" (for example) to inquire if those religious beliefs might impact a prospective judge's decision making in cases involving those issues. Why should it be any different in this case?

      Moreover, even assuming some sort of connection between the questioning and BDS, I do not agree that folks in the BDS movement, on campus and elsewhere, should even try to walk on eggshells so as not to provide fake "examples" of fake "anti Semitism" to cite. As you can see from "CAMERA's" propaganda, merely opposing some of Israel's policies and/or supporting BDS are themselves conflated with anti Semitism. Of course, there should be no real anti Semitism, but that does not mean that Jewish students or Jews in general deserve, or should get for tactical reasons, a "pass" on questioning that folks of other ethnicities/religious traditions routinely endure.

      "The thing I’d add about the NYT article is that there is a strain of racism in all the accusations that harsh criticism of Israel is motivated by anti-Semitism. What the accusers are really saying is that no one could be upset by American complicity in Israeli war crimes against Palestinians unless we are driven by secret feelings of hatred for Jews. So Palestinians aren’t important and nobody could have feelings based on other motives. We’re all guilty until proven innocent and the only way to prove our innocence is to follow the lead of liberal Zionists and keep our criticisms very mild and essentially toothless."

      I quite agree.

      Which is one of the reasons why I refuse to concede, based on the "evidence" that has been presented, that anything at all "anti Semitic" occurred here.

    • Yeah, I don't get it either. And I would not concede, without a lot more evidence, that there is even one example of anti Semitism in the NYT article. All organizational affiliations, one would think, would be relevant to membership on a judicial board.

      As for questions of personal religious affiliation, that's a little bit trickier. Nevertheless, personal religious beliefs, for better or worse, are typically dragged into discussions of qualification and aptitude for public office, elected and appointed. Not only are candidates for political office asked about their religious beliefs, and how these might affect their performance in office, but so are nominees for judicial appointments, when up for confirmation in, say the US Senate.

      Why Jewish students should be immune from such questioning is anyone's guess.

  • Over one quarter of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress consisted of applause and standing ovations
    • The excerpt, and the entire column is OK, as far as it goes.

      But it doesn't go nearly far enough. Calling the Bibi Show "ridiculous" is perhaps accurate, but is also misleading. The power of the Lobby, whether it succeeds in the immediate effort (ie scuttling the deal with Iran) or not is indeed "frightening." As are the actions of the Israeli regime (and not just Bibi or even Likud) generally.

      It is easy enough to ridicule this pocket edition, wannabe Churchill, but doing so should not obscure the fact that he is only the most extreme and unconvincing exemplar/spokesman of an entrenched, evil, criminal regime. And there is noting remotely funny about that.

    • "THE ARTICLE IS DATED 05/26/11. Uri Avnery wrote it after Netanyahu’s speech to the Congress back in May 2011. Virtually everyone was in attendance for that speech."

      OK, fine. The article was accurate at the time it was written by Avnery.

      But why are you citing and quoting it now? Moreover, why are you highlighting a portion of it (ie "The most depressing part of it was that there was not a single lawmaker – Republican or Democrat – who dared to resist.”) that has become inaccurate?

      I get that you wanted to give Avnery credit for the "yo-yo" metaphor, which is quite good and telling, and does continue to fit the conduct of most Senators and Reps. But you could have done so without presenting all the quoted matter, particularly the highlighted part that claims that no one in DC dares to resist, which is no longer true.

    • Could you be any more transparent in your agenda?

      And any more disingenuous in your "analysis?"

      The point, DaBakr, is that over fifty (not a "few scattered") DC Democrats skipped the speech. And the issue, as it has been understood for the last several decades, right up until your post, is whether the Lobby can exact a price for that kind of refusal. NOT how much positive hay can be made out of it. So, even if the boycott was "yesterday's news," that fact itself, the fact that nobody cared, still represents a huge dropoff in the unanimity here to fore demanded, and received, by the Lobby. According to you, one can refuse the Lobby and not be harmed. Very good. That's change and progress (whether you admit or not), and not at all "yesterday's news."

      In any event, your drive by, half thought out, rushed, self serving, minimizing, and completely full of you know what, bar stool speculations and predictions aren't worth the paper they aren't printed on.

    • "The most depressing part of it was that there was not a single lawmaker – Republican or Democrat – who dared to resist."

      How about the boycotters? The best way to resist this piece of crap theater, whose very performance is affront not only to humanity and decency, but to the dignity of the USA and its Chief Executive because of the gross breach of protocol, is to not attend it at all. The speech should never have been given, the invitation should never have been extended. Regardless of the content of the speech. Sooo, the best way to make that point is to refuse to listen to it. Particularly in the case of those Reps and Senators who made it clear that they were deliberately and, as a matter of principle, NOT attending.

    • All true, of course.

      Still, to me, the big story is not the odious contents of the speech or its sycophantic reception.

      All of that is old news and same ol', same ol.

      The real news, rather, is that over fifty Democratic Senators (and Barry Sanders!) and US Reps dared to skip the speech, many of them explicitly calling their absence intentional and principled (as opposed to merely logistical).

      At least one wing of one of two major US political parties (ie the liberal-minority wing of the Dems) now has drawn a line in the sand, for the first time in decades. There is at least some point at which at least this group of elected reps will stick, will not cave to the Lobby, and will say "no" to Israel and its demands as presented by its demented, war criminal leaders.

      And that is something new. And something good, too.

  • Media are stunned by Congress's 'loyalty' to Netanyahu (but refuse to explain it)
    • Don't buy it. The Lobby wants lockstep, no questions asked, "When you say jump, I ask how high?" compliance. Not nuance. Of course, the boycotters are not going on record as being anti Israel or anything like it. But their actions do show that there is a limit, that their is a line they won't cross, even though the Lobby does indeed want them to cross it.

      And that's what the Lobby wanted from its here to fore bought, paid for and intimidated Congressmen and Senators. That folks within the Lobby may be pro or anti Bibi is not the same thing at all. Sure, some of them think, for tactical reasons, that Bibi is a "good" thing, and some don't, but none of them want mere American legislators to have the temerity to reject a message from the Chief War Criminal of Israel out of hand, nor to, yes, boycott the speech in which that message is delivered. They, the members of the Lobby, can be pro or anti Bibi, but the bootlicks are supposed to do as they are told.

      In short, no matter how the news is spun, it is still good.

    • Again, all true.

      Still, it seems to me that mention must be made of the five dozen Democratic Senators and Congressmen who skipped the mandatory appearance. And many of them did so explicitly as part of a principled boycott.

      The Lobby remains strong, no doubt.

      But the actual NEWS today, it still seems to me, is good. Kowtowing to Israel and to the Lobby is dog bites man. Fifty plus Congresscritters telling Israel and the Lobby to stuff it is man bites dog.

  • Netanyahu's speech and the American Jewish condition
    • I agree with MDM and tree.

      "Trauma" or "PTSD" has very little to do with it. Most supporters of Israel in the US had little or no contact with the Holocaust. And, as was pointed out, the "Holocaust industry" in general did not even get rolling until twenty years after the fact, or more. As Finkelstein points out, in the immediate aftermath of WWII, and for the next 20 years, the tragedy was considered as a whole, and it was recognized that lots and lots of different folks had suffered...Jews, certainly, but also German leftists and intellectuals and principled Christians, Poles, Yugoslavs, American soldiers and sailors and airmen, Czechs, Russians, Britons, Italians, Frenchmen, Chinese, Filipinos, folks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and, yes even civilians in Tokyo and Dresden and so on.

      That so many Jews in the USA, 60 years or more after the fact, who had no close relatives involved in the Holocaust, base their absurdly one sided views about Israel because of what happened in Europe in the mid Twentieth century defies belief. Its an excuse, not a real reason.

      And, has also been pointed out already, the premise of Zionism that the Arabs of Palestine just don't matter was inherent in the project long before the Holocaust occurred. The Palestinians were, at best, non entities, and, more usually, inconvenient sub humans (in the eyes of the Zionists), from the very beginning and long before the Holocaust.

      Nor can any amount of general and historic anti Semitism justifiably be considered a "reason" for this attitude. Because, again, as has been mentioned already, lots and lots of groups, over the ages, and in the context of immigration to the USA, have been subjected to various kinds of persecution and discrimination. And, in the specifically US context, Jews were by no means the worst treated group, as that dubious "honor" has to go to either the Native Americans or the African Americans, and, as white Europeans, Jews probably have not been as mistreated as either Asian immigrants or Latinos (many of whom were not "immigrants" at all, as the USA came to them, rather than vice versa).

      Perhaps the Irish constitute the closest comparable group, in terms of the US immigrant experience. And while Irish Americans, many of them, anyway, retain some resentment for these by now past US woes, and for the longer experience of Irish oppression back in the Old World, still, they don't tend to dehumanize other groups and act as if "they" were somehow the same as and somehow as responsible for the past woes as were the actual actors at the time (ie WASPS in early America and the English back in the British Isles). An Irish American (or an Italian American, etc) might be somewhat racist, and blame African Americans for all sorts of things in line with that racism, but they don't act as if African Americans were the ones who helped precipitate the Potato Famine or hung out the "No Irish Need Apply" signs.

      And yet Jewish Americans, many of them, do act that way towards the Palestinians and towards Arabs and even Muslims generally. "They" are just like the Nazis. And because of the "trauma" inflicted by the Nazis, suck folks have a built-in "reason" or "excuse" for their bigotry, which must be treated by everyone else with kidd gloves.

      I think it is BS. And it is, in most cases, consciously understood to be BS. There is no "trauma" or "PTSD." There is no actual reason to conflate the Palestinians with the Nazis, but it is done because it silences debate through some sense of generalized, Western-"goyish" guilt, because it keeps alive in the minds of third parties a false sense of mutual "victimhood," and because it distracts from the real issues.

  • It's not about nukes, it's about the US shifting the power balance -- Parsi
    • Should update that the just-announced "Spring Offensive" against Mosul has now, due to the incapacity of the Iraqi Army, been postponed to Autumn, or, perhaps, to the Twelfth of Never!

      http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/27/pentagon-scrubs-major-attack-on-isis.html

      And that ISIS has attacked the Sh'ite militias and Iraqi forces gathering to attack THEM in Samarra:

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/28/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-idUSKBN0LW0AD20150228

    • Seafoid:

      I agree, in general, with your analysis.

      But Cockburn also points out that the more extremist Sunni groups (AQ in M, groups like AQ, and then proto ISIS groups and ISIS itself) were not entirely innocent either. They killed large numbers of Sh'ites with bombs outside of mosques and in market places in Baghdad and other Sh'ite areas, in an effort to produce just the kind of backlash from the Sh'ite government (and militias and general population) that would, in turn, keep the Sunni population sufficiently radicalized to reject any notion of pan Iraqi-ism.

      In other words, in the failed State situation brought about by US state-destroying intervention (in Iraq, in Syria, and in Libya), just this kind of sectarian extremism flourishes, without any one group being either entirely in the wrong or the right.

      "The political issue is how to come to a settlement that recognizes Sunni rights."

      Indeed, and Kurd, and other minority rights as well. Not to mention other, non sectarian, non group rights. But doing so is well nigh impossible in the failed State situation. Without an existing government that possesses some quantum of national legitimacy, all you have are competing factions, which then further fragment into sub factions, disparate leaders, militias, territorial units, families and clans, tribes, gangs and so on. With outside forces backing their various favorites. And all sides playing against the middle.

    • I should also have added that ISIS is hardly a mere couple of thousand of terrorists (or "head choppers") either.

      ISIS' numbers have been consistently underestimated, and what it is has been consistently mischaracterized. Leaving entirely to one side what one thinks of them, their methods, their ideals, etc, nevertheless, they have, quite effectively and quickly, put together a strong, guerilla force, one capable of keeping half a dozen or more better armed and more numerous enemies at bay, and have cut, and defended, a rather sizable swath of territory with a large population out of at least two countries. Cockburn, among others, points all this out.

    • Walid:

      "An army of 30,000 trained soldiers and their commanders fleeing in the face of 2000 terrorists and abandoning all their arms, 1200 tanks, troop carriers, canons, surface to air missiles and even the uniforms on their backs is too much 'hollywood' as Taxi would say. Believing in UFO’s is easier than believing this absurd scenario of what we are told happened. "

      I quite agree, Walid. But is the lie in the Iraqi forces running away, or in that there were 30 thousand of them, that they were well armed, that they were trained, and so on? It seems pretty clear that the Iraqi army DID run away. And, according to Cockburn, etc, that is because there were NOT thirty thousand of them, they are NOT well armed or well trained, and they don't really have "commanders" at all, but rather kleptocrats and villains who buy their positions for the corruption potential, know nothing about military affairs, and don't care to learn, and certainly not on the front line, with the lesson coming from ISIS! Moreover, the Iraqi forces are, when it comes to the "grunts," more or less reluctant, dragooned, everyday Sh'ites, who have no desire to die fighting against ISIS Sunnis in the Sunni north for the benefit of alleged "moderate" Sunnis, for the Kurds, for Turkey, or the for pro American regimes in Jordan and Egypt, or even for the Sh'ite regimes in Baghdad and Iran, but who lack the family money or influence to stay out of the Iraqi army. So, they begrudgingly go along with their conscription, but flee if they are sent into combat against committed enemies.

      As for the announced "Spring Offensive" to retake Mosul, reporters on the ground are intimating that the US plans to use as many US forces (overt and "covert") as possible, with, as you say, as big a US air (and artillery and missile) umbrella as possible. Expect to see some "mercs" there too. With the Iraqi forces being relegated to use as cannon fodder for dealing with those booby traps you mention (to the extent they don't run away again) and posing for pictures in the town center (a la Fardus Square in Baghdad in 2003) if and when the city is ever "liberated."

  • Leaked e-mails show that Israeli consulate, StandWithUs tried to thwart Northwestern divestment (Updated)
    • Jeff B:

      Remind of the last time the leader of Japan or S Korea came to address a Joint Session of Congress, against the express wishes of POTUS. If you can't see the forest, I am not going to waste any more time pointing out the trees to you. The US is a big, fat sucker for Israel, and it would overwhelmingly be in the USA's interests to cut loose this rogue state. It doesn't, because of domestic political reasons. End of story.

    • Jeff B:

      The war in South Korea was fought over a half century ago. And it was fought not for S Korea's sake, but as part of the Cold War. Ditto all the other aid, military presence, etc, you mention. Israel, on the other hand, really had very little to do with the Cold War. And, with the Cold War over, it certainly has nothing to do with it now. Israel is aided and coddled for Israel's sake, not as part of overall US policy. And, indeed, Israel is a millstone around the neck of the USA, when it comes to its FP overall. Which South Korea is not.

      Even at that, the US government is nowhere near as close to S Korea as it is to Israel. The US shares virtually all of its intelligence with Israel. The US gives its latest military technology to Israel. (Something, by the way, that it has never done for S Korea.) S Korea also does not need, and does not get, the blank check that Israel gets from the USA in terms of diplomatic and political cover. The US does not routinely veto measures in the UNSC for S Korea's sake. Nor does the US work against boycotts and sanctions against S Korea.

      Trade with Japan is even more attenuated. The USA trades with lots of countries, including China, but that hardly means that the USA is as close to them as it is to Israel. On the military side, Japan pays for its weapons, Israel gets them for nothing. Beyond that, unlike Japan, and even South Korea, these days, Israel would basically not exist but for the USA. Japan is a nation that has existed for centuries, if not millennia. Korea, although colonized, also has a long history as a nation (with its division being merely a part of the Cold War, as mentioned above). Israel, despite the dubious claims of Zionists, is a recent creation, and it would be a world pariah, boycotted and sanctioned, were it not for the USA.

      The USA bankrolls and enables and protects Israel. Thus, the USA is morally responsible for Israel's actions in a way that it is not morally responsible for Japan's actions (or Great Britain's, or Germany's, etc). As for S Korea, I agree that, in the beginning, its government was a creature of the USA, and so, yeah, in the Forties, Fifties and maybe even up to 1980 or so, the USA had a share of the moral blame for its actions. But those days are long since over with.

      This was my original point, which I did not articulate very well. That, beyond the practical issue of Blowback, the USA is morally responsible for Israel's bad actions. That, even if there were no Blowback, the USA still, as a moral issue, has an obligation to stop doing what it has been doing in supporting Israel and to undo what it has helped Israel do. The USA did not have a similar obligation when it came to, for example, Darfur or Kosovo. Because the USA was not the Sugar Daddy of Sudan or Serbia (just as it is not the Sugar Daddy of S Korea or Japan). But it is the Sugar Daddy of Israel.

    • According to this article, For Members Only, which appears to be the leading African American student political organization at Northwestern,

      http://nuformembersonly.com/

      did endorse the disinvestment measure that passed the NU Associated Student Government:

      "The debate also became a discussion of race relations on campus and all over the world. Minority groups, including For Members Only and Alianza, the Hispanic-Latino student alliance, endorsed the resolution, though members of Alianza said they could only represent students in their group or those they had conversations with, not all minorities."

      http://www.northbynorthwestern.com/story/asg-passes-resolution-from-nu-divest/

      There is also a general, positive article about BDS at NU in Pulse magazine (an African American student publication at NU) linked to from the For Members Only website:

      http://nupulsemagazine.com/northwestern-divest-event-serves-as-a-lesson-in-solidarity-and-a-call-to-action/

    • Yes.

      And beyond the practical, "blowback" considerations you mention, there is also the fact that Israeli injustices have been underwritten and bankrolled by the USA. The USA not only finances and arms Israel, but also provides it with political and diplomatic cover, intelligence, and so on.

      Thus, unlike injustices perpetrated by some random government or country, injustices perpetrated by Israel are in no small measure also "our" (ie the USA's and all Americans') doing. We, as individuals and as citizens, have a responsibility for those injustices that we don't have for, say, injustices perpetrated by the Russian, Chinese, Sudanese, Zimbabwean, etc, governments.

      Even leaving aside nations that are rivals to or hostile to the USA, no allied or "friendly" foreign government or country, not even NATO or ANZUS members, or South Korea and Japan, or any in Latin America, is as subsidized, coddled, and enabled in its wrongdoing by the USA as is Israel. The US/Israeli relationship is uniquely close, and that, rather than the facile, preposterous, and transparently self serving claims of "anti Semitism," explains why the USA, and its citizens, have a unique responsibility when it comes to Israeli injustices.

  • US and Israel divorce rumors over Iran
    • Yeah, the irony, and the lack of awareness of it, as well as lack of self awareness generally, is pretty astounding. Here we have a guy who never held higher office than mayor, and that fifteen years ago, pontificating, calling the President names, and so on, while claiming that a man who actually IS a national leader is like a mentally disturbed person with delusions of grandeur!

      Even as mayor, Giuliani was grossly overrated, merely because he happened to be in office when 9/11 occurred. Despite the endless hero worshipping, which he did everything to encourage (he was on TV continually, reaching the point where he was announcing the bus route changes and schedules at his at least once daily "news" conferences!), other than not run away (as President Bush did), Giuliani did absolutely nothing to warrant the adulation he received and helped engineer. Then, as mentioned, he tried to parlay that into a partial or full third term, with or without re election, and in contravention of the newly approved city charter. Failing that, he has shamelessly used 9/11 as the basis of a presidential campaign, as fodder for his for fee lectures, the books he has allegedly written, and his phony "security" business, and as a way of generally maintaining his celebrity status. Even though, again, he did nothing to prevent 9/11 (how could he, as the mere mayor of a city?), and, after the fact, he did nothing more that any minimally competent person would have done.

      Where his FP expertise in general, or on Iran in particular, comes from, is anybody's guess. Before his mayoral terms, he was a US Attorney. Thus, as far as I can tell, there is no basis whatsoever for his rants. He really is a like a mentally deranged person who thinks he has some exalted status.

  • Let's honor Kayla Mueller-- and other women leaders during the war on terror
    • Bornajoo:

      I have no desire to paint the poster "Seafoid" as anything that he isn't. Nor to be impolite.

      But my responses to him have been confined to his posts on this thread, specifically his advice that someone (presumably the US) should "bomb Saudi."

      As you can see, Seafoid has still not backed off from that odious idea, even in his latest post in response to poster "Tree." Apparently he can ascertain no daylight between "pandering" to the KSA regime and bombing it. Nor has he profited from Walid's post, which explains, much better than I ever could, why his notion that eliminating the House of Saud would destroy the Wahhabism that Seafoid associates with it is not persuasive, even in its own right and even discounting all the other objections made to his bellicosity by myself and Tree on the grounds of efficacy, history, morality and legality, as well as it inappropriateness in the context of this thread about Ms. Mueller.

      As Mr. Weiss wrote, Ms. Mueller would not want her death to be used as a pretext to bomb anyone in Syria, and it was "grotesque" of Chris Mattews to claim otherwise. I think it safe to expand on that and say she would not want her death to be used as a pretext for bombing anyone, including anyone in the KSA.

    • "The saudi regime is one of the reasons the middle east is such a mess. I think it would be better to take them out and replace them with a govt of national unity. KSA is not run sustainably and the crash will be awful anyway. It might take 10 years to build a viable opposition who can take over. Beyond internal issues the big problem with Saudi is the export of wahhabi hatred and support for jihad in cockpits such as Syria and Iraq And tree just cos the yanks messed up iraq doesn’t mean a putrid regime can’t be deposed violently and replaced with something better, Japan went through that process.It needs better people than blair and Cheney."

      Same old, same old. Americans and westerners generally know what's best for ME Arabs, and, contrary to the most basic precepts of international law, never mind common morality, have every right to play God and kingmaker, slaughter who knows how many people in the process, and replace the current, legal Arab governments with ones more to the liking of the Americans and westerners.

      Umm, that is the mentality that has led to the "terrorism" and "the mess" in the first place.

      When it is pointed out that this failed in Iraq, failed in Libya and is now failing in Syria, the tired, shop worn, completely out of context example of Japan is brought up. Japan launched a major war against the USA and was utterly defeated. By August 1945, virtually the whole world was allied against Japan (China, Russia, America, the British Empire, etc), and it had no ally or even friend left in the world. Japan was as isolated as a country could be. And was subject to having its cities fire bombed and attacked with atomic weapons. Japan surrendered unconditionally to the USA. The contrast to the KSA, which has started a war with no one, could not be more stark.

      And, even at that, in the end, the USA changed Japan a lot less than is commonly assumed. After a brief "reform" period, for Cold War and other reasons, the USA more or less allowed the right wing, big business factions in Japan return to power. And, of course, the ruling family was never deposed (which is what is being blithely proposed in the KSA).

      If the House of Saud was deposed, rather than "something better," some "government of national unity," what would take its place is anarchy, civil war, mass violence, lawlessness, score settling, warlordism, rape, murder, banditry, sectarian conflict, and the like. Just as has occurred in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. And Wahhabi "hatred" would expand exponentially, as the USA would be exposed as a completely tyrannical enemy of the Arabs, wantonly attacking and destroying one of the few remaining in tact regimes in the regime.

      Your prescription, besides being grossly immoral, presumptuous, colonialist, racist, illegal, and, quite frankly, disgusting (particularly when broached in the context of a eulogy for Ms. Mueller), would also be completely not only ineffective but counterproductive, even when viewed from your own ethnocentric, not to say self centered, POV.

      Just as the war on Saddam proved out to be.

    • The region desperately needs an end to US military intervention, imperialism, paternalism, and neo colonialism.

      If anyone is to be "defanged," we should start with ourselves here in the US, and then move on to our pet snake Israel.

      "Comprehensive political settlements" do NOT proceed out of the bomb bays of US jets. We might do well to stop arming and providing political and diplomatic cover to the Saudis (as well as the Israelis), but the US killing Arabs and bombing Arab countries has not done much good for the Palestinians, and more of it is unlikely to.

      Ironically, given your statement about Saddam, you sound much like the folks who started the war with Iraq, and who call for more and more US military intervention generally as the means to stop "terrorism": Why, if we only cut off the "support" for "terrorism" coming out of "poisonous" country X, we will not only end the violence, but also be well on our way to the Shangri-La of a "comprehensive political settlement!"

    • And there you have it. Somebody must be bombed in response to Ms. Mueller's death. If not the folks who abducted her, well then their bankers. Somebody.

      How about, instead, we start minding our own business? Our business does not include who gets to run Iraq or Syria, or who wants to run them. That realization would make it none of our affair who backs the various factions.

      Beyond that, your response is simplistic and reductive. Saudi financing or not, the fact is that Sunnis in Iraq and Syria tend, like folks everywhere, to want to be governed by what they consider to be "their own." Already twice in Iraq in the US has destroyed Sunni government in the Sunni areas. Once when the US invaded the country and deposed Saddam. And again when the US reconquered the Sunni areas from AQ in M and other Sunni insurgent forces. Now yet a third Sunni force, ISIS, must be defeated in Sunni Iraq. And, of course, not leaving well enough alone, the US has helped destabilize Syria, providing yet another arena for ISIS to compete for Sunni support and control. Which now must be countered. You might check out Libya as well.

      And bombing the KSA or even just cutting off the funding from there won't change the overall dynamics...ie in failed state situations (which the US keeps bringing about) the various factions (sectarian and otherwise) tend to fight each other for local, regional and national control.

      Instead of bombing the KSA, or sanctioning it, or Iran, or any other Muslim nation, perhaps the USA should get out of the business of deciding who runs what in the Middle East? There might very well still be civil wars and unrest, but it won't be our business. And we will not be "mowing the grass" anymore in Iraq, Syria, etc, like Israel does in Gaza against Hamas.

    • Did Ms. Mueller really know exactly "what she was doing?"

      Did she know that her abduction and death would be used, as the main article puts it, "grotesque[ly]...as a pretext to keep bombing. 'Why don’t we bomb the hell out of them?' Chris Matthews asked repeatedly last night in his demagogue mode, as if that will cure anything. Her name is prominent in the president’s request today for the Authorization to Use Military Force against the Islamic state. I am sure Kayla Mueller would not want that."

      I'm sure she wouldn't want that either. But it is no great surprise that that is the way it is being "spun." Nor that her work on the West Bank is being ignored (when it is not being vilified) and that she is being turned into another Jessica Lynch, another beautiful young idealistic American girl who was harmed by the terrible Arab Muslims. And whose fate calls for more intervention, more American military force being used against Arabs, and more "war on terror."

      Ms. Mueller put her life on the line, and worked for some noble causes. But I still maintain that her choice to go to Syria was a mistaken one. That the injection of American citizens, even as humanitarians, acts, in the international real politick of such situations, much like the presence of American (or European) missionaries in past days. That is, as a Trojan horse, as a pretext for the militarists and colonialists to intervene to protect, rescue, or avenge them. Even if that is the last thing they want.

  • 'She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need of freedom, justice and peace': American hostage killed in Syria remembered for work in Palestine
    • Why is that even important?

      So, she worked for "Save Darfur?"

      Does that mean that she didn't work for the Palestinians?

      And do you really think the one is the same as the other, when it comes to US Government propaganda which is now so eager to "claim" Ms. Mueller because her death suits its agenda?

      The US, at most, was indifferent to the Darfur situation, and was actually working against the Sudanese government. But the US is hardly indifferent to the I/P situation. No, Ms. Mueller's past must be sanitized of any pro Palestinian proclivities (she was working "in Israel" the reports now have it!), because she is now to be a new martyr in the war against the "Bad Arab Muslims." Her working in Darfur, if anything, probably is seen as a plus, from that POV. Because, as you mindlessly repeat, the approved narrative there is "Genocidal Arab Muslims" on the rampage yet again. But her working on the West Bank for Palestinians is another thing entirely. Because there she was actually working with and for the "Bad Arab Muslims," and against the US' most favortist ally at that, Israel.

    • "How is her death any different than the ten of thousands killed and injured in the drone wars?"

      Indeed. And the one way in which it is different is not so easy to categorize.

      For, unlike the many civilian casualties of the drones and the other manifestations of the US "war on terror," directly or by proxy, Ms. Mueller made a conscious choice to insert herself in a war zone.

      On the one hand, that is seen as a mark in her favor, in that she chose, when she did not have to, to work in Syria and elsewhere, and in a humanitarian capacity at that.

      On the other hand, Ms. Mueller was an American citizen, and, as such, she did not arrive in Syria as a neutral. Our, hers and mine, American government had chosen to take sides in the civil war in Syria, and one of its many enemies, besides the legal government itself, was ISIS.

      Of course, Ms. Mueller was a civilian, but ISIS does not operate on the principles of international law in war, and, in fairness, it must be said that our government does not extend the protections of the international law of war to ISIS and groups like it. According to our government, ISIS (and AQ and even the Taliban) are not legitimate fighting groups but outlaws and "terrorists." The protections of POWs do not apply to them, nor do the protections applicable to civilians. According to our government, the members of these fighting groups are pretty much outside the law entirely, and just about any treatment of them, no matter how brutal, is justified.

      That being the case, one can hardly expect ISIS to play by "the rules" either.

      And all of this was known, or should have been known, by Ms. Mueller, before she entered Syria.

      To her credit, she did not want actions taken to secure her release.

      However, her abduction, and now her death, were inevitably going to be used by the war mongers (including President Obama), who she herself opposed, to justify more killing and greater intervention, inevitably leading to more blowback, and contributing to the endless cycle of violence that the "war on terror" has become.

      Of course I feel bad for her, her family and friends. But I can't help but also feel that she would have done better to not have gone to Syria at all. The answer to every problem is not the presence of Americans, and, as I intimated above, Americans do not enter most of the war zones of the world as some sort of tabula raza. Like it or not, agree with the policies or not, we, all of us Americans, carry the baggage of the policies of the US government around with us where ever we go.

      In my opinion, we do better to try and change those policies here in the USA than to go to the countries on the receiving end of those policies, even if we go there to try to ameliorate the harm that those policies do. To many of the folks in-country, a US citizen is a US citizen, and the fact of that individual's disagreement with US policy is not the salient point.

      And, again, if and when those folks act on that belief, it tends to merely confirm the very policies of the US that folks like Ms. Mueller are trying to ameliorate.

  • I misremember Iraq
    • I agree in substance. All of the contents of the essay have been known for a long time by anyone with an ounce of curiosity and a willingness to question the official story. That doesn't make them any less powerful, accurate or important, but:

      None of them make Williams any less of a liar and a fraud.

      And they are not really comparable, anyway. There actually can be a policy debate about Iraq, the response to 9/11, etc, and there are two, or more, sides that can be presented. And all the fudging and bad arguments and so on used by the US Establishment are, still, not quite the same thing as just making up stuff. Now, admittedly, "just making stuff up" was PART of the propaganda used to sell the war, used to stifle dissent about 9/11, and so on. And each of those actual lies can be, and should be, pointed out and unpacked. But doing so does nothing to rehabilitate Williams, and a complete response to the Establishment propaganda about Iraq, 9/11, etc consists of more than merely debunking outright lies.

      As for misremembered events in our own lives, meh. Personally, I don't really experience this phenomenon, but, in any event, a newsman has to be more careful in what he says on the air than what the Average Joe says in his daily life. Moreover, a newsman should verify even his own memories, before he reports them as fact. And, in this case, the self valorization element is pretty strong too. Furthermore, additional revelations have come forward calling into question some of Williams' other claims.

      I never liked the guy, but always considered him no more, but no less either, than the typical BS pretty boy masquerading as a "journalist" for network TV news. The reality, apparently, is that he is lying phony besides. And that is a bridge too far, even for network news.

  • Let liberal Jews weep for their dream of Israel, and move on -- Alice Rothchild
    • I am glad you are not offended, and, again, I have no intention of offending you.

      On the issues...to me, there is very little difference between claiming to have "lived through" something and to be a "survivor" of that thing. So, no, I don't see the question of dubious "survivorship" to be "besides the point." I see it as just another way of claiming the same thing.

      You say:

      "there’s two options, believe a person is telling you the truth of their own experience or assume they are trying to manipulate you."

      But I see at least one other option, namely, that that person is simply wrong. One can be mistaken without being deliberately so, and certainly without intending to manipulate.

      " i have no reason to believe rothchild is not telling the truth about her mom. that’s all."

      Neither do I. To repeat, I believe Dr. Rotchild is being completely honest and truthful about what her mother claims. I just dispute the accuracy of those (Dr. Rothchild's mother's) claims.

      And, even at that, it doesn't mean that I think Rotchild's mother is lying or manipulating. Just as I would never say that you are lying or manipulating in your claims about Gaza.

      Still, and this goes back to my first post on this thread, the one in response to RoHa: it isn't, and shouldn't be, all about us. And that holds true even if we are not the doers of, or even supporters of, the terrible atrocities in Gaza, but consistent critics of them and their like.

      I think there is a vital and necessary distinction between those of us who condemn the acts of Israel from the safety and (relative) freedom of the USA and the Palestinians, who are on the front lines, and actually do "live through" those atrocities (if they don't die from them, that is). And that it is important for us to keep that in mind. In my view, maintaining that distinction takes precedence over simply accrediting and accepting folks' subjective description of their status, and leaving it at that as a matter of courtesy or etiquette or even respect.

    • I'm sorry, Annie Robbins, and don't wish to offend, but I really don't think I am the one "rationalizing" anything. One either really lives through something or one doesn't. And, frankly I find the subjective claim to have lived through something that one did not, in objective fact, live through, to be the "rationalization." And the truth of that contention is not dependent on Dr. Rothchild's mother's acceptance of it.

      I do agree that Dr. Rothchild is not the one doing the revisionism, but only reporting what her mother said.

      "norm said he despises people who use the holocaust to justify the suffering of palestinians (paraphrasing) and i agree with him."

      As do I. But he has also decried the never ending discovery of more and more folks belatedly and unconvincingly labeled with the tag "Holocaust survivor" to be dishonest in its own right.

      "but if someone thinks they lived through the holocaust, emotionally, i believe them. and i say that because last summer was very emotional for me. even knowing thousands upon thousands of iraqis were dying was at times physically painful for me. people experience death differently. when 20,000 people are dying every day, some people feel that kind of trauma in their bones. it’s not for me to judge anothers experience. you can judge it however you like tho."

      Look, I am not trying to minimize your or anyone else's sensitivity to the injustices and worse in the world. Still, it is important to have words mean what they mean. And sympathy and emotional pain and so on caused by events thousands of miles away are not, in the end, the same thing as "living through" those events first hand. The folks in Gaza lived through the events you mention; you, with all due respect, did not. Again, I'm sorry if you find that offensive or presumptuous, but that is how I see it.

      "frankly, i am going to be relieved when that generation passes on."

      Nietzche wrote: "How little the world would look moral without forgetfulness. A poet might say that God made forgetfulness the guard he places at the threshold of human dignity."

      And that forgetfulness is "like a doorkeeper, a preserver of psychic order, repose and etiquette....there could be no present without forgetfulness."

    • "The War," meaning the Second World War, was fought on three continents, and then some. And involved nations from every continent, except Antarctica. Folks in the USA, who most likely had relatives and friends in the war, and, perhaps, were working in war industries themselves, and were subject to rationing and war bond drives in any case, and the like, can, it seems to me, legitimately say they lived through "the War."

      The Holocaust, however, happened on part of one continent, and folks who were not even on that continent at the time did not, in my view, "live through" the Holocaust. Finkelstein, I believe, has demonstrated how ever expanding, and ever more attenuated, categories of persons have been labeled or have self labeled as "Holocaust survivors." Children and grand children of true survivors. Folks who were not even in Europe during the Forties. And so on.

      I think anyone living in the USA during the events in question is basically self valorizing when he or she says that they lived "through the Holocaust."

    • While I think that's a bit harsh, and that Dr. Rothchild is doing good work, I sympathize with these sentiments.

      Once again, the focus, as in "American Sniper" and most other "liberal" treatments of America's and Israel's misdeeds, is subtly or not so subtly shifted from the folks on the receiving end of the misdeeds (the killed, the wounded, the orphaned, the homeless, the tortured, the imprisoned, the dispossessed and stateless, and so on) to the folks who did the misdeeds or supported the doing of them.

      Frankly, the feelings of "liberal Zionists" are not even close to the top of the list, when it comes to my concerns, my sympathy, etc. And losing one's "dream" is hardly even worth talking about, in comparison to the crimes listed above. Um, so what if these liberal Zionists have lost their "dream?" And, yeah, in line with what RoHa says, it is not as if the "dream" itself was ever such a great thing.

      The disillusionment of the supporters of evil, their belated realization that they have been supporting evil, the long delayed facing of facts and willingness to finally see past the Big Lie propaganda that they chose to believe, repeat and, indeed, insist on, for so long, by such folks, and the resultant loss of their "innocence" or their "dreams" seems, to me, to be a fairly small loss, and rather inconsequential in the greater scheme. Necessary, certainly, from a tactical/political standpoint, but no great feat morally and nothing to compare either to the harm done to the Other or to grieving for one's lost relatives and the like.

  • John Lewis tells D.C. crowd he will not attend Netanyahu speech
    • I agree with "Cloak and Dagger." If not a "tipping point," this is at least a turning point, a point where the Lobby finally overreached, a point where at least some folks started to say "enough is enough" and that a line has been reached and crossed. Rather than, as "Blownaway" sees it, "a last best chance," I see it as a first step, not the end, or even the beginning of the end (to paraphrase Churchill), but the end of the beginning.

      Of course, the "Special Relationship" is not going to end overnight. Of course most of the talk will be about preserving it, rather than ending it, and how The Speech is a hindrance to the Relationship, and Israel itself, and that is why it is a bad thing. But that focus on tactics and so forth can't hide the fact that, finally, at long last, at least some members of Congress have indicated that there actually is a bridge too far, that, no, "whatever Israel wants" is NOT the end all and be all.

      Whether the Speech comes off at all is not the point. That only some members of Congress, like Lewis, have summoned up the integrity to say No to attending this year's version of this disgraceful performance, this obscene and disgusting pantomime of democracy, is not the point. Nor is the point whether Bibi wins his sordid election or not.

  • Chair of Democratic National Committee opposes Jewish intermarriage and MSNBC showing Gaza carnage
    • "If a group of Jewish billionaires gave free Jewish education from grades K through 12 for hundreds of thousands of Jewish children who took advantage of the billionaire’s largesse, that would cut the intermarriage rate for the participants by let’s say 10-30%. I would be in favor. But all you’s here, you just wish the Jews would disappear. Jews, your whole shtick needs to be flushed down the toilet, you are saying. Forget your language, forget your customs, stop all that religious and ethnic stuff and disappear already. that’s what I’m hearing."

      Please. Personally, leaving aside general questions of world overpopulation, strain on the Earth's resources and such (which have nothing to do with the issue under discussion), I have no desire to control how many Jews there are nor what proportion of the overall population of the Earth is Jewish. That's your bugaboo, not mine.

      I do not want the disappearance of Jewish, or any other, for that matter, set of customs, or religious practices, or other linguistic or "ethnic stuff." As an aside, I would add that I, personally, as a non Jew, far from wanting "fewer Jews," or none at all, would not at all be happy with or celebrate the "disappearance" of Judaism. On the other hand, no one has the right to try to put Jews, or anyone else, in some sort of box, some sort of static, ethnic museum, and promote the persistence of a timeless, unchanging, "pure" tribe either, merely because one "appreciates" that culture or because one is a member of it. In the end, the number of Jews in the world should reflect the choices of Jews to marry and procreate and raise their children as they see fit, and, of course, the choices that those children make in the future, and the choices THEIR children make, ad infinitum. With the addition of whatever number of folks choose to convert to Judaism.

      I would not particularly care if some Jewish billionaire funded the program you mention (and again, the answer would be no different, to me, if the funding was for Latinos, African Americans, Italian Americans, Native Americans, Chinese Americans, etc). And I don't hear anyone here saying anything different. Nor is anyone, as far as I can tell, against Jewish cultural teaching, religious training and education, the study of Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, and so on. Same as no one here, as far as I can tell, is against Roman Catholic K-12 education, RC colleges and universities, catechism classes, CYO programs and so forth.

      On the other hand, pining for such a program for Jews, not for its own sake, but for the express purpose of preventing or pre empting intermarriage, still smacks of Apartheid-like ethno suprematism. The study of all things Jewish, not simply as an appreciation of them because they are meritorious, or even as part of an attempt to promote understanding and appreciation of one's inheritance, but as a prophylactic device specifically designed to prevent young people from having contact with the Other and, perhaps, marrying them, strikes me as a program of racial or ethnocultural supremacy.

      And it is ironic, given your overblown rhetoric of accusation, that you are the one advocating precisely that.

    • "the problem of jews who are intermarrying at the rate of 58% and some people want to reduce that rate to 56%, that is not a real problem"

      Says who? Trying to socially engineer people's marriages is a real problem. It is also incredibly presumptuous, as well as bigoted, ethnocentric, and, quite frankly, disgusting. People, as individuals, should marry who they like (assuming the liking is mutual), not based on what is best for some cultural group's survival as a distinct cultural group. Even seeing this as "a problem" smacks of paternalism, at best, and of a dictatorial ethnocultural suprematist racism, at worst.

      As others have intimated, imagine if the term "Whites" was substituted for the term "Jews" in your little epigram? Would you not see "the problem" then? The ethnic purity you are calling for is quite disturbing.

    • The Point
      -------------------------------
      Hophmi

      What "amigo" was saying is that DWS WANTS a state of affairs in which everyone but Jews, particularly Muslims, have to assimilate, while Jews resist assimilation.

      Get it now?

      That's what she WANTS. Ought versus is. Reading Comprehension 101.

      Nobody is saying that Jews have not and never will assimilate. What they are saying is that DWS hypocritically advocates for assimilation when it comes to the Others (again, particularly the most "Other" in this case, ie Muslims), but not for "her own." She says, in effect, "let's you assimilate!"

      Are you really this dense? Or is intentional conflation part of your argumentative strategy?

  • Netanyahu is a paper tiger
    • Of course, the above, narrowly focused prescription can just as easily be classified as one of the many "variations" as any other.

      And, in my view, focusing too narrowly is just as bad, tactically, as focusing too broadly. Maybe worse.

      I, frankly, really don't care about all that much about intra mural, intra Zionist, intra Israeli politics. If I am not mistaken, it was not Likud which established the Zionist community in the first place, which displaced the Palestinians in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, which kicked many of them out in '48, which grabbed more of their land in '67, and which subjected them to military government, and all kinds of oppression, for the next 20 years. To me, "Likud," per se, is not the enemy. Zionism is. And eradicating Likud will not make Zionism go away.

      As I see it, this:

      "...insisting that the occupation end, Palestinian oppression end, and that peace be achieved, war crimes addressed, reparations made, differing interests in the land settled, and peoples reconciled. Within a relatively short time frame..."

      is indeed what is required. But the end of Likud government in Israel hardly ensures any of that, and, perhaps, as poster "Harry Law" indicates, may even work against it. And, as Harry also indicates, on the particulars of occupation and "settlement" (ie colonization), Labor has acted and is pledged to act pretty much just as badly as Likud. "Likud-lite" or "Likud with a smiley face" or "Likud policies dressed up in phony 'peace process' rhetoric more appealing to non Zionists than transparently fascist Likud" is really not much of an improvement at all.

      As an aside, I see this:

      "...run by a disinterested international authority, with security guarantied by that same authority, perhaps with a default solution that will be imposed, in the absence of agreement to something different by the principals."

      as only one of, again, many possible "variations."

  • Charlie Hebdo: The sacred of the 'wretched of the Earth' and its desecration
    • Not all atheists claim to be "certain" that there is no god.

      What is known as "weak atheism" holds only that there is no evidence of any god, and thus there is no reason to believe in one. "A-theism," literally, a lack of belief in god. Which is not the same as strong atheism, which is more like your "certainty" example.

      Note that weak atheism is also different from the agnosticism you allude to. An agnostic says she is not sure about the existence of God, as you seem to do, and leaves it at that.

      But, for my money, there is no point in claiming that you are "not sure" about something that you see no evidence for. There is no evidence, for example, as, I believe it was, Bertrand Russell put it, that there is a teapot flying around in orbit between Mars and the Earth. That being the case, why would anyone say they are "not sure" if there is one there or not? There is no reason to think that there is, and so why hedge with the "not sure" business? Of course, there is some slight chance that there might be, so "certainty" does not come into it, but certainty is rare about anything.

      Finally, I fail to see why one's childhood upbringing should be dispositive. My parents, whom I love, believe in a lot of things I don't. And see lots of things differently than I do. They are not infallible (neither am I, of course).

    • Speaking for myself, this atheist is more than willing to "put up" with Muslim, Christian, Jewish and other ideas about "the sacred." On the other hand, I have no desire to live under a regime that makes non violent criticism, or even mockery, of those ideas a crime, a tort, a violation of law, etc. I would also add that I have no desire to make mockery of atheism a crime, a tort, etc, either.

      The author states:

      "Historically, we did not know this radical separation of church and State, as we did not know this type of distinction between the sacred and the profane, the public sphere and the private sphere, faith and reason. It took the advent of Western capitalist modernity and its outrageous and arrogant narcissism to universalize historical processes (i.e., secularism, the Enlightenment, Cartesianism) that were geographically and historically located in Western Europe. This is a specificity that became universal through self-declaration and the power of arms and bayonets. But it seems that, with the father figure of the prophet, French coloniality stumbled upon a bone....."

      and I agree.

      However, as poster OyVee00 points out, the actions at issue occurred in France, not in any colony of France.

      I understand that my "secularism, Enlightenment" etc values are not universal, and I have no desire to push them on folks outside the West. However, within the West itself, I actually do want them to hold sway. And I want them to hold sway against all comers, including not only the previously dominant Christian (or Judeo Christian) notion of certain "sacred spaces," (and more recent nationalist/"patriotic" equivalents) that are off limits, but against Muslim and other non Western religions' similar notions as well.

      Of course, to repeat what I have stated on these boards already, if you go around poking at people, sooner or later they are bound to react, law or no law, official policy or no official policy. And, when they do, that does not mean that the poking was a good thing, per se, even if it was legal. And, yes, the hypocrisy of folks who insist on their own, majoritarian sacred spaces, or the equivalent (as in no Holocaust denial...or no Armenian genocide denial or no Holdomor denial...or, in the USA, the more or less enforced notion that we must all "support the troops" or Israel, or mourn excessively over every dead cop, or indeed, in France, over Charlie himself) while spitting gleefully on the sacred spaces of Muslims, the Other, the downtrodden, the minority, the immigrants, etc. cannot be denied. But, in my view, the answer to that hypocrisy is that the national anthem, the flag, the crucifix, the Star of David, the Prophet, etc, whether revered by the elite, the establishment, the majority, or the wretched of the Earth, should ALL not be protected, and all should be equally open not only to criticism, but to contempt, mockery, etc, under law and policy.

      So, while I am NOT Charlie, and have nothing but contempt for those who, cheaply, inconsistently, and easily and unthinkingly, claim to be, I am not his murderer either. Nor do I hold any brief for his murderers. Blasphemers are NOT, in our Western society, to be put to death, no matter what they blaspheme. Not by the State, and not by the adherents of the religion (or other belief system) they blaspheme, either. The former would be a violation of their rights, and the latter is a crime.

  • Netanyahu speech scandal blows up, and 'soiled' Dermer looks like the fall guy
    • Why should anyone care about what the you yourself see as horrible regime in the KSA is afraid of?

      The KSA regime is everything you say it is, and worse. So, naturally, it has plenty of things to fear.

      But that hardly means the USA has any reason to fear the same things.

    • I don't doubt the analysis here.

      Still, I see the outrage, even if it is cabined to the speech itself and even if some of it is of the faux variety and designed to protect the "special relationship" rather than call it into question or even bring its full implications out in the open, as, overall, a good thing.

      A militarist, oppressor Israeli PM wanted to spit in the face of the US President, to casually and cavalierly bypass normal diplomatic channels and International Relations 101 protocol and interfere directly in US politics and policy making in the legislative branch, and to get his usual Stalinist hundred standing ovations/who will stop applauding first response from that legislature (as well as from the media and from the public), but instead the whole thing, for once, has blown up in his fat, ugly, fascist face.

      And the rats are scurrying off the sinking ship too.

      Sounds good to me, even if a certain amount of CYA is going on.

  • Former Obama aide's thinktank calls for 1/4 of French Jews to move to Israel
    • RoHa:

      I thank you for your correction.

      I would add, however, that by "traditions," I was referring more to things that are neither necessarily good nor bad, but are merely distinctive, and can be judged subjectively by different people. I agree of course, that slavery, the subjugation of women, and banning intermarriage are not of this order. But worshipping in a Jewish synagogue as opposed to a Christian church or Muslim mosque, or not at all, certainly is. Speaking Hebrew or Italian, as opposed to or in addition to (instead of some other language) English, certainly is. Eating predominantly one type of cuisine (leaving health and vegetarian-ethical considerations aside) as opposed to another certainly is. And so on. These types of "traditions," it seems to me, have value that really pretty much is solely determined on a subjective basis, and there is no objective reason to prefer their maintenance or their loss.

    • "Do you really not understand that this is not what I said?"

      Oh, I understood just fine. You said:

      "Do you not believe that Jews should have the right to live wherever they wish?"

      And that is not nearly the same thing as what you are saying now, which is:

      "Regardless, you’re wrong. Jews have a right to live in safety wherever they may be, as any minority would, and as international law dictates. Period."

      And, in any event, even your backpedal is not quite true. Because, a person does not, per se, have a right to "live...wherever" he "may be." For an obvious example, as US citizen I can probably get a tourist visa to go to France, but even while I am there, I have no indefeasible "right" to be there, and certainly no right at all to live there.

      As for the "safety" part, yes, folks, minority or otherwise, are protected by law wherever they may be. But, there is also a thing known as the right of revolution, and, like all lawful warfare, there are times when it can cause what we call in the USA and Israel "collateral damage," even to civilians.

    • "Whose sense of entitlement? Do you not believe that Jews should have the right to live wherever they wish?"

      LOL! You don't recognize it when it is spelled out for you!

      Let me make it more explicit for you: no one actually has a "right" to live anywhere but in his country of citizenship. Of course, a respect for human rights means that a country will not prevent folks from emigrating (and won't expel people either, I might add). But that does not mean that any other country has an obligation to let them live there.

      As an American, for example, I have no right to live anywhere but in the USA. Other countries might CHOOSE to take me in, should I desire it, but I have no right to that. Canada can tell me to stay out. So can Mexico, Jamaica, Israel (I'm not Jewish), Egypt, Japan, etc. True, within the EU, there is a right of trans-national movement, but that is an exception provided for by treaty. Another partial exception, also established by treaty, pertains to folks seeking political asylum. But, by and large, no, Jews, and everybody else as well, don't have any right at all to live "wherever they choose."

      Do you really not know that? Or do you think that there should be a special rule for Jews?

    • "...when you belong to a religion of 15 million people worldwide, as opposed to one with 1.5 billion followers, and when your faith is practiced by 1.7% of a country’s population, rather than 78.5% of the population, intermarriage is something you worry about a lot more than you otherwise would. It would be different if intermarriage was an exercise in sharing cultural traditions. But most often, it’s the end result of an upbringing that is devoid of any real Jewish content. "

      Huh? Where is that coming from? The intermarriages that I know about are indeed an exercise in sharing cultural traditions.

      But, to the extent they are not, so what? And, moreover, who is to "blame," exactly? A Jewish person married to a non Jewish person decides, in hophmi's experience, it seems, typically, to not insist on there being any "Jewish content" in the upbringing of their children. And what of it? Suppose two Jews had married and come to the same conclusion. Would that be any different, or any "better?"

      Lots of folks, from all different backgrounds, in both "mixed" and unmixed marriages, choose to let drop the "cultural traditions" they were brought up in. Indeed, that is more or less the multigenerational norm, in the USA.

      Italian immigrants. for example, spoke Italian and were Catholics, they had big nuclear and extended families and lived in ethnic communities and ate ethnic food, and consumed Italian cultural products, and tended to marry other Italian Americans. But their kids? Less so, in all particulars. And their grandkids? Less so still more. Until, after a few generations, there are few really "pure" Italian Americans, fewer still Italian speakers, and a mix of Christian religions and atheists/agnostics/secularists. They live in non ethnic neighborhoods and eat all kinds of food. And the consume no more Italian cultural products than the average American. And have smaller families as well. The "cultural traditions" that were brought over from Italy are almost entirely gone.

      Who cares? Or, more to the point, why is the person who does care, and objects, to be valorized? Folks can make up their own minds, and, in a free society, jettison whatever "cultural traditions" they have inherited as they choose.

      As an aside, the kind of "Italianness" that those immigrants brought with them is not necessarily well preserved in Italy, either. Things change, everywhere. Some traditions last, others don't. But, again, who is to say whether that is good or bad?

      If American, European and other Jews don't particularly value the religion (and other "cultural traditions") that is theirs by accident of birth, what of it? Should they continue to maintain those traditions anyway, merely to make folks like hophmi happy? Should they impose them on their kids, for the same reason?

      The fact that there are fewer Jews than Muslims or Christians, and are a distinct minority group within the USA, really has nothing to do with it either. Whether there are lots of members of a group, or only a few, still, it is up to the actual persons, the individuals, to choose to preserve the cultural traditions of that group, or not, as they see fit. Not as someone whose primary concern seems to be the future of the group qua group sees fit.

  • In Iraq and Syria the US sanctions its allies while its friends back its enemies (got that?)
    • The ME bases seem more about protecting Israel, directly, and our Arab clients, thereby indirectly protecting Israel (our Arab clients are the Arab states that explicitly or otherwise make "nice nice" with Israel), than they are about the oil.

      Yes, the US privatized the oil fields in Iraq (and the fields were privatized in Libya too), but that, it seems to me, is more of a tack-on, goody bag type of thing for corporate supporters than it is the real reason for the interventions. Again, the US intervenes everywhere, oil or not. And, even in Iraq and Libya, it is not necessarily American oil companies which secure the contracts. Furthermore, to repeat, the US itself does not depend on ME oil, and the countries that do depend on it (China and Japan, among others) are able to buy it without having any bases in the region, without intervening in Arab affairs, etc. Oil is oil. It is more or less interchangeable, and, as we are finding out more and more, it exists all over the world. Plus, it is just not as important as it once was, with alternative fuels, conservation, increased efficiency and so on.

      Israel is huge. US imperialism in general is huge. Oil, it seems to me, is a distraction.

    • Thanks for your response. And for your blog recommendations. I am not familiar with either of the sites you mention and will definitely be checking them out.

      I actually find the oil explanation to be pretty unpersuasive, though. I see nothing at all wrong with the Interstate highway system, and will note that Canada, Great Britain, and continental Europe, Japan, China, etc, all have vast systems of limited access, high speed highways as well. On oil generally, it is all over the place, not just in the ME. And we are becoming less and less dependent on it every year with conservation, increased efficiency, alternative energy and so forth. Furthermore, the USA gets very little of its oil, and almost none of its energy considered as a whole, from the ME. .And oil is dirt cheap, and getting cheaper. Indeed, the bottom has fallen out of the worldwide oil market.

      Beyond that, if it really all about the oil, we would never have made Israel are prime ally. It would be so much simpler, from an Arab oil supply point of view, to jettison Israel and simply buy the oil (to the extent we need it) from whoever rules the various Arab oil countries. Indeed, this seems to be the way China and Japan go. They actually use a lot of ME oil, but have no particular ties to Israel, and thus don't arouse any real hostility in the ME. They merely buy the oil they need and leave the politics out of it.

      No, in my opinion, it is the other reason you mention, the hegemonic/ general imperialism and Israel above all attitude, that account for our endless ME entanglements. We can't help but stick our noses into everything, oil or no oil (go ask all of our neighbors in Latin America), but, in the ME, it seems that, one way or the other, most of our interventions have something to do, if you look deep enough, with serving Israeli interests. And actually seem to be counterproductive, in many cases, from a standpoint of securing oil supplies.

      Without those concerns, why would we care who rules Libya, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, etc.? Until the 1940's, the USA had no interest in these matters, and folks in the ME had no interest in the USA. Only the imperialism of the Cold War and, now that that is over, the continued, auto pilot imperialism with no real or even pretended/exaggerated purpose at all, and the endless servicing of Israeli interests, keeps us involved in the ME.

    • Thanks for the scorecard, and for highlighting all the inconsistencies and contradictions...

      Still, I would be a lot happier if the USA simply minded its own business, and wasn't on anybody's "side." Revolutions and civil wars in Iraq and Syria should be the business of the folks in those countries, not us. And, needless to say, we should stop "sanctioning" Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, Russia, etc.

  • How a culture remembers its crimes is important: A review of 'American Sniper'
    • "Kyle was a product of this misinformation, he believed that the Iraqi’s were part of the tragedy of 9/11 and he was doing his duty in defending his country. "

      This is why I can't stand even so called "liberal" accounts of America's immoral wars.

      First of all, as poster "just" says, one would have to be an idiot to really believe that.

      Secondly, the focus is always on the "tragic" betrayal of the poor American serviceman, who only thought he was doing he was doing his duty, was lied to by mendacious politicians and misused by blundering generals, and thus "lost his innocence." Well, I don't give a good god damn about his "lost innocence," even if that really occurred. I care about the things mentioned in the article that were done at Fallujah, the war crimes at the US prisons, the depleted uranium, not to mention the illegality and immorality of the entire affair. In short, I care a helluva a lot more about the people in Iraq, whose country was unjustly invaded and who were subjected to an oppressive , deadly and society-destroying occupation, than I do about any American soldier (particulary a sniper), armed to the teeth with the latest gizmos and body armor, with a ten to one or more technological and fire power advantage and "backup" in the forms of tanks, planes, artillery, and helicopters at the ready, who came home from the war in one piece, but supposedly "lost his innocence," even if does have psychological and emotional problems. I'm sure PTSD is real, but, for the life of me, I can't help but object when US GI PTSD is the main focus, as if it were the worst consequence of the Iraq war, and not the millions of dead, wounded, orphaned, homeless, imprisoned, and oppressed Iraqis.

  • When blasphemy is bigotry: The need to recognise historical trauma when discussing Charlie Hebdo
    • You seem to have missed my point. The cartoons in question, and the ones you mention, should, in my view, be legal. That is, it should not be against the law to publish them.

      That does not mean, as I thought made clear, that I personally approve of such things, nor that I would march in the streets to protest if some private person were to attack the publisher of such things.

      If you go around dropping "N bombs" among African Americans in the USA, at some point, one of them might do you some harm. That does not mean the government should make the use of the word illegal, or that the private attack based on its use was legally justified, but it equally does not mean that I would attend a rally, or personally approve of one, protesting the attack.

      In my view, the law, the government, should give a wide latitude even to offensive speech. On the other hand, when you go out of your way to deliberately make people mad, eventually, one or more of them is going to get so mad that they are going to do something about it. And that is true no matter whose ox is being gored: Muslims, Christians, Jews, polytheists, atheists, agnostics, folks with no views on religion at all, non religious groups, etc. And when that happens, I have no desire to join in protests that conflate the two, or that act as if deliberate provoking folks by ridiculing them and their beliefs is a fine thing. Nor do I even accredit such protests, even if the works in question did "punch up," which these did not do. I find such protests to be acts of moral preening, of fake, self proclaimed and self satisfied heroism and victimization. And that it is absurd to "protest" something that is already illegal, and, indeed, whose perpetrators have already been killed for.

      I do think that, because the attacks being celebrated were made against an oppressed, minority group, that there is an added level of despicableness and falsity in the cause and the fake self valorization. So, to the that extent I think I agree with the point you are making.

      (As an aside, I have seen, in my time, all sorts of blasphemous, bigoted, hateful, and nasty cartoons and suchlike, and so I don't actually have to see CH's "work." Moreover, your description of it in no way separates it from stuff I have seen, and already accounted for in my post.)

      I hope that clears up any further confusion.

    • "Full mosques" do not make the cartoons an example of "punching up." To the extent that the cartoons are justified on that basis, ie that, as satire, afflicting the comfortable is A OK, that rationale really does not apply in this case. The mosques may well be full, but Muslims in France are still an easily identifiable and, in practice, discriminated against minority group. They are disproportionately poor, live in de facto segregated slums, are underrepresented in the corridors of power, etc. And, de jure and in practice, ridiculing them in print is seen as something courageous, whereas ridiculing Jews is seen as despicable, and ridiculing Catholics, as you yourself imply, pretty much just passé.

      To use an American analogy, Baptist churches in the African American community might well be described as "full" also, but picking on African Americans is definitely not "punching up."

    • Meh. Bigotry/blasphemy are pretty much the same thing. When one intentionally blasphemes any religion, if it amounts to simple mockery, rather than an honest attempt to dispute cosmologies, etc, than it amounts to bigotry. And that is true if one is "punching up" to Catholics in France or "punching down" to Muslims in France. And it is certainly just as true of "progressive," allegedly "feminist," atheist-inspired speech as it is of "old fashioned," colonialist/Orientalist, right wing speech, when it comes to anti Islamic speech. Claiming to be a leftist, no more than claiming to be engaging in "satire," does not insulate one from the charge of intentionally hurting others.

      Of course, as mentioned, all instances of bigotry/blasphemy are NOT treated the same legally, and instances in which Christianity and Judaism are the target are less likely to receive legal protection in "Christendom" than instances in which Islam is the target.

      But the law SHOULD treat all instances the same. And, in my view, wide latitude for free speech is the way to go--legally.

      But, as for what people ought to do, outside of legality, I would say that bigotry/blasphemy, like all mean-spirited ridicule, is never a good thing. And that, even when "punching up," the point should be exposing hypocrisy, greed, etc., and not merely mocking other human beings for the simple sadistic joy of it. Rather than any kind of special pleading based on what "the global South" has experienced, and equally not a fake Western liberal, historically blind caricature of universal "values," a truly universal ethical approach would be to refrain from making, and to condemn (again, morally, not legally) the making by others, of any speech whose sole or even main purpose is to inflict harm (or trauma) on others.

  • Why I am not Charlie
    • GL:

      "I don’t mind at all that the author has no desire to say or write 'Je suis Charlie'. "

      Well, since that is his main point, I fail to see why you felt the need to write a long critique of his post.

      "However, his reasoning is ridiculous, i.e. taking the slogan literally when it’s clearly meant figuratively. "

      Please. He knows it is meant figuratively. But he disagrees with the use of the metaphor, both in terms of its general import (ie that to support someone is akin to being them, even in a non literal sense) and with its specific import here (ie that he supports Charlie's actions in this case)

      " Nope. As I already stated in my previous comment, this notion doesn’t actually exist. "

      Sure. And repetition is no more persuasive than bald assertion. To republish the cartoon, in this instance, when there is no reason to, except to show support of it, is to support it.

      “Of course, you can condemn the attack without agreeing with Charlie. Nobody expects you to agree with Charlie. Again, the hashtag or slogan “#JeSuisCharlie” is NOT supposed to be taken literally. Using the hashtag does NOT mean that you actually are Charlie or that you agree with everything that Charlie has ever published. It simply means that you condemn the attack on Charlie. Some person who condemned the attack came up with that hashtag and then it was adopted by others who condemn the attack. This hashtag is just a simple tool to make the condemnations trackable. The literal meaning of the hashtag is pretty much irrelevant. So, there’s no reason to bitch about it."

      But, again, your mere assertion of a point does not make it so. I am NOT Charlie. Not literally, and not figuratively, either. Similarly, I am NOT a Palestinian, or a gay person, or an African American, or a Holocaust or Nabka victim. Not as a matter of fact nor as a matter of metaphor. But I do condemn the attack on Charlie, and so does the author. We just think it is important to draw that distinction, to avoid meaningless, in your own words, "slogans," and to stick to what is true.

      And, if you think it is OK to condemn the attack without adopting the metaphor, why do take such umbrage at the author for refusing to adopt it? Based on what you say now, the main point is to condemn the attack. Well, the author does so, so what are you bitching about? If the hashtag is just a convention, a convenient tool, then why get all bent out of shape because someone doesn't like it?

      PL: “To repost the cartoons does, in fact, show that one agrees with them.”

      GL: "No, it doesn’t! You can republish the cartoons and then explain in the accompanying article that you disagree with the content and only republish it as a symbolic act against censorship. “

      You can, perhaps. But, merely republishing them, without that disclaimer, is to agree with them. Moreover, in this case, the mere publishing is itself an insult, and so even with a disclaimer, you are reproducing the harm done by the offensive material. Furthermore, one need not agree with the "symbolic act" and still be against censorship in general, and in this case, and the attack as well. So, if there is no real, compelling reason TO publish the cartoons, and you don't agree with them, and you don't agree with employing them as "symbolism," why should you have to republish them? And why should the only accredited reasons for refusing to do so be "cowardice" or, worse yet, agreement with the attack?

      "Republication of offensive material can have an educational purpose. It can help the reader understand the situation better. It can also allow the reader to make up his own mind."

      Again, perhaps it can, in some instances. But that hardly means it does in every instance, or that its republication is somehow mandatory in any instance. The "reader," if he or she is truly interested, can certainly access the cartoons at issue here. So the alleged "educational" purpose does not apply in this case. But the insulting nature of the cartoons will always be present, no matter the context.

      "This analogy doesn’t work. A book is very different from a cartoon. Besides, as far as I know, the book is anti-Semitic and not satirical."

      Bah! Red herring. How about a short, allegedly "satirical" anti Semitic work? Anyway, the cartoons are anti Islamic, whether they are meant "satirically" or not. Simply invoking "satire" does not immunize one from the racist/sexist/bigoted/etc import of the content of one's published material.

      "The cartoons, however, are satirical and not islamophobic."

      Total non sequitur and false dichotomy. They can be, and are, both.

      "Also, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are not comparable.....[etc]"

      This is so preposterous that it merits no further comment.

      PL: “Why can’t the author support the right to offend Muslims without offending Muslims himself?”

      GL:"As I already said, republication of a content does not imply approval of that content."

      Yeah, you said it, but it holds no water. The content ITSELF is offensive. To publish it, or republish it, is to offend. And, again, there is no actual reason, viz a viz the main point, ie condemning the attack, to republish it. Thus, the secondary offense of republishing is merely gratuitous, and gratuitously offensive.

      "Also, if you condemn the attack on grounds of press freedom and then engage in self-censorship, you contradict yourself."

      LOL! So, any decision on anyone's part not to publish something, for whatever reason, including (1) not agreeing with it, (2) considering it offensive, and (3) seeing no real reason to publish it, constitutes "self censorship?! You are making the very same ridiculous argument condemned in the article. Freedom of the press, somehow in your convoluted world, means that folks are compelled to publish what they don't want to, and what they are told to by self appointed guardians of PC.

      PL: “No one is obligated to say ‘I am Charlie’ nor is anyone obligated to publish the cartoons in question. And not doing so is in no way indicative of support for the attacks or inconsistent with condemnation of them.” -

      GL: "We agree on that. So, what’s your point?"

      Again, that was the author's main contention, so, if you agree with it, why all the fuss and bother on your part?

      "Besides, deference to religious feelings is ridiculous because religion is ridiculous."

      I think this is the real reason you are carrying on like this. Because you actually agree with the cartoons, with intentionally offending people on the basis of their religion, and, that being the case, you, along with those you defend, demand that everyone else do the same. It is not enough that folks merely condemn the attacks. No, they too must offend folks just like the publication in question did. And, if they refuse to do so, they must be "ridiculous" people engaging in "self censorship," because, in your world, mocking folks' religion is a great thing to do.

      Well, guess what, not everyone agrees with that, and us folks have the right to follow our own lights, even if that is not to your liking.

    • I wonder if AHA thinks that "the media" routinely publishes cartoons and suchlike that mock Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist, Mary, Jesus, Saint Paul, Martin Luther, Jean Calvin, the Buddha, Confucius, and so on. And, if she does realize that "the media" does no such thing, if she understands why it doesn't.

    • "Why does the author have such a strong desire to badmouth a simple expression of solidarity?"

      Because, um, he doesn't agree with it? And because folks are more or less demanding that he say he does? Because he does not feel that he is, in fact, in solidarity, with Charlie and would be a hypocrite and a liar to say he is? I can and do condemn the attempted assassinations of Reagan and John Paul II, and yet I would never claim to be in solidarity with either of them.

      Moreover, the real condemnation here is on the notion that one HAS to say "I am Charlie," or else, by implication, one agrees with the attack or is a coward, etc. I am not Charlie, or Reagan, or JPII, and don't, actually, like any of them very much. And I am not going to pretend I do merely because they were attacked. And yet I condemn the attacks as well and as much as anyone.

      "The hashtag figuratively expresses that the attack on Charlie Hebdo is an attack on our value of press freedom. This is as clear as daylight."

      Is it? It seems to me that one can condemn the attack while not at all agreeing with Charlie, much less claiming to actually "being" him.

      "When JFK gave his famous speech in Berlin, the author of the above article would probably have taken the phrase “Ich bin ein Berliner” literally and complained about the fact that JFK wasn’t ACTUALLY a citizen of Berlin. "

      Begging the question. JFK actually was not a Berliner, and it was indeed an appropriation of other people's experience, not to mention an act of imperialism, to claim that he was.

      "Nope. You misinterpret the message. Nobody demands from you to endorse the cartoons. People just ask you to republish them as a symbolic act against censorship. Republication of a content does not imply approval of that content. Or as some Twitter users would say, 'RTs are not endorsements.'"

      Nope. Just because you and "some Twitter users" say (or "would say") something doesn't make it true. To repost the cartoons does, in fact, show that one agrees with them, unless one is a reporter or a historian, etc. I can discuss the cartoons without reposting them. I can condemn the attacks without reposting the cartoons. I can explain why I disagree with the cartoons and the publishing of them without reposting them. There is actually no need to repost them at all, unless one agrees with them. Well, I don't agree with them, and the fact that some folks were killed for publishing them doesn't change that. If someone were killed for publishing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, am I obliged to repost those protocols? I think not.

      "The author understands that supporting the right to Holocaust denial is not the same as denying the Holocaust."

      But you don't seem to. Why can't the author support the right to offend Muslims without offending Muslims himself?

      "However, he fails to see that ridiculing god bothering is not the same as denying god botherers equal rights. "

      As has been amply demonstrated, there is a question of equal rights. Indeed, the very example you bring up show it. In France, one can legally ridicule Islam, but one cannot legally question the Holocaust.

      In conclusion, you are wrong about just about everything factual, and your arguments are completely unpersuasive. No one is obligated to say "I am Charlie" nor is anyone obligated to publish the cartoons in question. And not doing so is in no way indicative of support for the attacks or inconsistent with condemnation of them.

    • Could not agree more. I am NOT Charlie. And I would not and will not republish the cartoons at issue. And, no, that does not mean that I condemn the attack any less than anyone else. Nor that I am a "coward."

      I will say what I want to say, not what someone else tells me to say, nor merely to repeat what someone who has been killed for what they said, said. After all, a person with the worst views in the world and whose views I do not for one second agree with, might be killed for expressing those views. Of course, the killing is wrong, but that is another issue entirely.

      Beyond that, even, I resent like all hell attempts to coerce my behavior by appeal to an allegedly good cause. I will NOT do without "art" for a day, even if some AIDS activist says I must or should. And that does not mean that I agree with the AIDS policy being protested. I will not refrain from celebrating my mother on Mothers' Day, even though celebrity/actress/model Christy Turlington says I must or should. And that does not mean that I don't care about the lack of health care for women (and men, and children) in the Third World.

      I will, and do, boycott, disinvest from and support sanctions on Israel because I not only agree with the cause, but agree with the tactic as well. But, even there, I will not say that "I am Such and Such Victim" of Israel, or be forced to repeat accusations about Israel that I do not believe are true or express sentiments that I do not agree with, and so on.

      I would not attack or mock in print someone's religion, and I am not going to do so simply because of this attack. My practice is based on what I think is right, not on the misdeeds of others. And that does not make me a "coward." And, frankly, I couldn't care less if some moron says it does.

  • The moral hysteria of Je suis charlie
    • Right on target.

      How cheap and easy to say that you are Charlie. You are not. Nor are you, unlike the fellows in the crowd in the movie "Spartacus" ("No, I am Spartacus!") actually in a near identical relationship to the person you claim to be, much less are you willing to accept the fate that was to be meted out to that person. The protestors know damn well that the offended Muslims are never going to get around to killing everyone who claims to be Charlie, and, again unlike the captured rebel slaves in that movie scene, are not going to be harmed for their "courageous" stand at all.

      Moreover, unlike Spartacus, Charlie was not an admirable person in the first place. There is nothing in being killed for one's views, or for the expression of one's views, that necessarily makes one a hero or one's views and their expressions laudable in any way. Fascists can be murdered for their views. So can bigots. The latter is what happened in this case. In neither case does that make being that person a good thing, even though, of course, it was wrong to murder him.

      Beyond the hypocrisy pointed out in the article (how many of these folks really believe that any expression, no matter how hurtful, should be protected, particularly if they were the ones being hurt?), and much like the post 9-11 hoopla in the USA, and, to a lesser extent, the post Boston Marathon attack hoopla, this is just another chance for folks who are not oppressed in any way, and who are much, much more likely to be struck by lightening than to be killed by a Muslin, to pretend to be victims and heroes. Moreover, as has been mentioned, the governments represented by these people, particularly in the USA (and Israel), kill more Muslims in a month than all of the victims of Islamic terrorism from the beginning of time to today. Even France, as has been mentioned, certainly has a colonial history of killing thousands of Muslims. I wonder, is there any official or semi official commemoration of that in France? How much easier to play the role of the righteous victim, and the fake hero, when one has never been in any real danger at all, than to deal with past and present policies in which one's own government (rather than a few, pathetically ineffective gunmen) engage in bigotry, racism, killing, etc.?

  • The 'bait & switch' politics of liberal Zionism
    • IB:

      Leaving aside your specious and facetious claims about popular movies and utopias, you are ground shifting now a bit, as I see it. Of course the two situations are not exactly the same in all aspects, but that does not mean that the analogy I drew with respect to certain similar aspects, namely the meaningless of "liberals" who support the awful regime and accept privileges under it, but, somehow, want to deny its essence and its real meaning so that their actions are not perceived as conflicting with their alleged liberal values.

      And all phony efforts along that line do not, in the end, matter very much.

      The solution too, in the end, will not be much different. As in SA, what was once merely a "slogan" will become reality by a combination of (1) pressure from the oppressed within the polity of Israel (including in the current Bantustans of Gaza and the WB), (2) pressure from the near abroad, (3) global pressure, and (4) realization of the inevitable by the oppressors leading to a willingness to make real change.

      And, notice, that what is going on here is not (4) at all. The mere election of the phony "liberals" and the rejection of the bill are not steps in the right direction, and are not really steps at all. Israel did the bulk of its historical oppression and aggression with Labor in power and without that bill.

      As an aside, please don't attempt to draw me into your "confederation" pet project. A unitary State can have rights for all groups, majority and minority, and it can still have various kinds of regional autonomy as well (which, in turn, might reflect ethnic predominance). But I have no desire to get into detailed debates with you about the exact shape of the successor State to the current Israel/internal colonies arrangement. It is not only a waste of time and highly speculative, but it is presumptuous as well. Moreover, it has nothing to do with the topic under discussion. "Confederation" in the end or not, the liberal Zionism on display has to go, just as the liberal apartheid supporting parties had to go.

    • IB:

      Of course the bill, which would formalize the practice of ethnocracy, is a step in the wrong direction. But that hardly means that there really is some way of squaring the circle, of having a Zionist/Jewish State AND having the unitary State/equal protection of all "vision" that is allegedly being endorsed here, and by "liberal" Zionists generally. The fact that the Israeli DOI purports to square that circle is hardly dispositive of the question of whether it can be squared or not.

      As to your second point, um no. As in South Africa, the end game need not be "cataclysmic," nor was there any notion that Jews, Hebrew speakers, Hebrew cultural members, etc are to be "pulled out root and branch" either. Rather, if you check again, I said that the POLITICS of Zionist State must be rooted out, not the Israeli/Jewish people. Just as the politics of the Apartheid State in SA had to be rooted out. Without, of course, rooting out the Boers, or the White folks generally, or their languages , cultures, and so on.

      On your last point, I fail to see the basis of your conclusion, nor do I admit the legitimacy of your comparison. Most Israeli political positions, including allegedly liberal ones, like those being defended here, are, in fact, not grounded in liberal democratic principles at all, precisely because they are still committed to what is actually a Zionist-Jewish/Israeli suprematist position, as they try to square the circle in the manner described above. Whereas the Palestinians, in the position of the oppressed, the dispossessed, the dehumanized, etc, are, quite naturally, more revolutionary, and less inclined to pay lip service to the niceties of democratic liberalism, etc. in the current situation. What they would be in a post Zionist future, we don't know. I do know, however, that much the same was said of the Blacks in South Africa (eg that they were "terrorists," or Communists or both, and much was made of the "necklacing" of collaborators and informants, and "Black on Black violence" generally, etc.), and yet, once majority rule came about, the Blacks did NOT 'root out" anyone, and did establish a liberal democratic regime.

      And again, much the same as in Apartheid SA, in which there certainly were some White liberals, who, judged superficially, might have appeared to be more committed to liberal democracy than most Black South Africans, so with the Zionist liberals. Despite appearances, those White liberals (at least as organized into political parties) had compromised with Apartheid doctrine, and the Apartheid regime, learned to live with it, etc., just as the liberal Israeli Jews have done with the Zionist-Jewish suprematist doctrine and the State it informs, provides the actual "vision" for, etc. And, just as that kind of compromised politics has no place in post Apartheid SA, so liberal Zionism should have no place in a post Zionist unitary State.

      So, in conclusion, I am not impressed with superficial appearances, with liberal Zionism, or the statements in the Israeli D of I. Nor, of course, do I favor or think necessary any kind of reverse ethnic cleansing.

    • Yeah, I'm not seeing. I assume you could get espresso and croissants in South Africa, too, under Apartheid, maybe even on days purportedly "holy" to the Boer hegemony.

      And there were even more "ethno cultural" groups in SA than in Israel.

      The point, though, is, that both Apartheid SA and current Israel were/are run along "ethnocratic" lines. The trappings of a liberal State for those of that favored ethnicity make little difference. Much less the availability of fancy consumer goods.

      And just as the Apartheid polity in SA had to be removed root and branch, to make way for a unitary, non ethnocratic, non BS "reservation"/"tribal homelands"/etc situation, so the entire political spectrum of the Israeli polity must go. Even the better elements of the politics of that polity, being trumpeted here, are far, far too deeply and intimately implicated in the ethnic cleansing, the dehumanization, etc, to somehow be part of the single state, equal protection for all, solution.

      Anything short of that is indeed a bait and switch, as the promised land of a single state and equal protection for all is not even on the agenda of the political parties, factions, tendencies, etc. being valorized by the article. Rather, a merely more presentable version of the current situation, an "ethnocracy light," perhaps, you might call it, is what these groups stand for.

    • I agree with what I take to be the point here....the implied comparison in the main article between the USA as a "Christian" nation and Israel as a Jewish nation is misplaced.

      Of course, Christianity does have a privileged position in the USA, but that is nothing like the position of Judaism in Israel. In the USA, there actually is a real (as opposed to merely a paper) commitment to equality of religion, to the separation of church and State, to the complete right of conscience of the individual, and to equal treatment of all racial/religious/cultural/national groups. Of course, that commitment is not the whole story, and discrimination and privilege do exist, de facto, for the most part, in the USA. But in Israel there is no such commitment at all, in practice, and the entire apparatus of the State is committed instead to maintaining and, indeed, ever expanding, the privileges of the valorized ethno cultural/religious group, and to impoverishing, weakening, and, worst of all, even dehumanizing the "out" group.

  • Our Readers Respond: What Mondoweiss Means To Us
    • I just registered, but I have been checking out Mondoweiss for some time. I agree with the consensus view...that MW is a breath of fresh air, and a great anecdote to the poisonous propaganda that dominates the discussion of the issue of the I/P controversy and the
      ME generally.

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