Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 66 (since 2009-12-12 00:17:05)

PilgrimSoul

Director of the Interfaith Freedom Foundation, a civil rights and public interest organization that advocates religious liberty for all. Most of our advocacy is for Sikhs and Muslims. In 2008, we took a position supporting peace between Palestinians and Israeli Jews, since we believe there will always be tension between American Jews and Muslims until there is a settlement in Israel/Palestine. We identify the Netanyahu government as the main obstacle to a settlement. I was in union politics (Postal Workers) for ten years, was San Francisco VP during postal strike in 1970. Since then was journalist in Europe and Latin America. Have both Jewish and Muslim daughters, Jewish daughter formerly involved in Reconstructionism and Muslim daughter involved in SJP and BDS at Brown University. Did psycho-social rehab as counselor for 25 years, now retired. Consider myself to be a "progressive/heretical" Christian.. Author of 3 novels and trilogy of nonfiction books outlining my secular theory of aggression and evil; Trauma Bond: An Inquiry into the Nature of Evil in be published in March, 2013, by Psyche books.

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  • On ‘Death to Arabs’ in Jerusalem & Tel Aviv
    • Jabotinsky modeled his version of Zionism on Italian fascism, even sending some of his people there to study how fascism works. Now we see the rise of far-right gangs of hooligans in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Isn't that how fascism won in Europe? Penetration of the central government with fascist ideas and personnel, with fighters on the street demoralizing the people, so those on the inside could seize power?

      Zionism is not the opposite of fascism, but the outcome of fascism experienced by the Zionist founders, who then internalized its emotional orientations. Ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is not the opposite of the Holocaust, but a continuation of it by other means. If the lunatic Israeli religious parties succeed in causing a worldwide religious war by blowing up the Al Aqsa Mosque, there will be many more than six million dead this time around.

      "The abused child grows up to be an abuser." The victim of secular fascism grows up to be a religious fascist--having internalized antisemitism, they practice it against the Palestinians. It's dialectical, all right, but the people involved aren't conscious of their own motives. Systemic evil is typically acted out not by conspirators, but by sleepwalkers.

  • The heart of the problem with Israel: The mass expulsion of the Palestinian people
    • I think many of us have refrained from referencing this historical reality because we didn't want to get in an argument over "Zionism," whatever that may man now. (Mostly the current uncritical supporters of Israel are what I would call 'neo-Zionists.') But what the Jewish settlers did to the Palestinians, including the very methodical destruction of the 500-600 or so Palestinian villages, is the key to the entire problem. Everything is a continuation of the war of 1948, and the ethnic cleansing that both motivated and accompanied it.

      The Zionists told the world that Jews needed a "refuge" from the world's antisemitism, and then proceeded to create a Jewish state in such a way that it made permanent war inevitable. (Ten wars at the last count, although this current Gaza horror makes it eleven, I guess.) The sheer self-defeating, contradictory nature of Zionist claims are glaringly obvious. Jews needed power to defend themselves, but it was the evil genius of the Zionists to create a state based entirely on the wrong kind of power, a kind of systemic evil that operates like an addiction.

      Christians are often afraid of openly and freely opposing Israeli brutality because they don't want to examine their own antisemitism, which drove Jews from Europe. To examine that might reveal that Christianity is, by its own standards, a failure. Instead they desperately throw money at Israel, hoping they can buy redemption from their own past cruelties in that manner, contributing directly to the corruption of the entire American democracy. The Israel Lobby owns foreign policy in the Middle East, as well as the entire legislative branch of US government.

      But the tide is turning. BDS is the best chance for a break in the right direction. The political class in Israel is rife with neo-fascist and Likudnik ideas; therefore the only way they will ever give the Palestinians a state, or human rights, will be if their own state is threatened. The choice the world should give them is simple: Want a Jewish state? Fine, but to have one, you must give the Palestinians their own state, or human rights with one-person, one vote.

  • Kerry's cowardly apology on 'apartheid' is giant blunder for Israel's propagandists
    • I'm surprised that MW, which has witnessed this so many times, would not know or understand the "two-step" as performed by John Kerry. You float the semantic trial balloon, you wait for 'the Lobby' to go crazy, you make an apology or non-apology, all the while attempting to continue the debate and hopefully creating space for your initiative. Kerry knew what he was doing. He no doubt wrote the non-apology before launching the trial balloon. MW is right that it is a victory for human rights, however--every time the Israel Lobby goes off, it's like a flash of lighting exposing the real distribution of power in the American panorama.

      Please note also the skill with which the non-apology was framed. Kerry specifically said that Israel wasn't an Apartheid state, and that it didn't want to become one, but that it might become one anyway. That's about as far as any American official can go at present, and Kerry did well to take it that far. In the meantime, we all need to support BDS, because under the Likudniks Israel will never give the Palestinians a state, never, until their own state is threatened. Real change will happen because of popular pressure around the world, led by Palestinian civil society and to some extent executed by Europeans who now have Netanyahu's number.

  • Snowden revealed a world of conspiracies I once would have scoffed at-- Bryan Burrough
    • Terry Gross is a propagandist, and a particularly vulgar one. I'll not soon forget her asking Phillip Roth whether he was wearing diapers after his prostate surgery, and whether he was still having sex. She's smart about popular art but is very canny about working the big issues, always taking the conservative side and demanding that her interviewee either agree or disagree with her pet theories. (I've noticed the young people at MSNBC doing the same thing.) That's not interviewing, but auditioning cultural talent to check out their political correctness, especially on Israel/Palestine and the total surveillance state.

      I no longer give money to either public TV or public radio. Let them get it from the Koch brothers, who have already given them millions. MSNBC can be helpful in the struggle against voter suppression in the red states, but we still haven't come close to breaking into popular media with the story about Palestinian suffering, not to mention the mind-boggling extremism of the Likudniks and the neo-cons and the religious war they're dragging the US into.

  • Stephen Walt: publishing 'Israel lobby' ended any thought of serving in US gov't
    • To help readers with this Orwellian dilemma, I offer these “12 Commandments of the Israel Lobby,” to be memorized if possible in a venue featuring the theme song of “The Twilight Zone” in the background.

      1. The Israel Lobby does not exist. In those cases where it does exist, its conclusions cannot be questioned.

      2. All criticisms of Israel are false. They are invented by anti-Semites, self-hating Jews, and terrorists. Also by crypto-Nazis, apostates and liars.

      3. All critics of Israel must be punished by extracting a public apology. Some offenders may be required to apologize more than once, if they do not grovel sufficiently the first time around.

      4. Those who criticize Israel and do not publicly apologize must be endlessly harassed, and fired from their jobs if possible. In academia they must be denied tenure.

      5. Any Arab or Muslim that criticizes Israel is a terrorist, and deserves to die.

      6. To praise anybody who ever criticized Israel is the same thing as criticizing Israel. Just as all things Israeli are good, anybody that criticizes Israel is bad.

      7. In any conflict involving Israelis and Palestinians, the Israelis are always the victims. If an Israeli hurts a Palestinian, the Israeli is still the victim because the Palestinian is trying to make the Israeli feel bad.

      8. Israel/Palestine is never debated. That implies another side to the issue, and there is only one side. Therefore debate is suppressed or disrupted.

      9. The United Nations, the World Court, the various UN agencies, every human rights organization and non-governmental organization in the world that isn’t approved by the NGO Monitor [an Israeli screening operation] is anti-Semitic. That is because these organizations are likely to criticize Israel’s human rights record—and as any fool knows, that means they’re anti-Semitic.

      10. The interests of the US are exactly the same as the interests of Israel. If they aren’t, the interests of Israel take precedence.

      11. Any war that the US is likely to be involved in must be evaluated from the point of view of its helpfulness to the current government of Israel.

      12. Anybody who threatens to make sense while criticizing Israel must be immediately shouted down. If shouting doesn’t work, screaming and crying are recommended. As a last resort, one must declare that criticisms of Israel are making one feel “unsafe.”

  • Why are two Republican congressmen doing a walkabout on the Temple Mount?
    • I've had exactly the same problem as Colin in trying to explain the dangers of right-wing evangelical Christians in the Republican party. The attitude of many activist Jews is that the Israel Lobby is entirely Jewish, and we're just kidding ourselves to worry about the evangelicals. What they don't understand is the deadly nature of evangelical Christian support for Israel--the evangelicals really want a religious war, because they either think that it will trigger Armageddon, thereby bringing about the return of Jesus, or simply think that religious war against Islam is the major task of evangelical Christians today. Their support for these insane ideas doesn't express itself through advocacy--to them it's simply self-evident that Christians should be killing Muslims, especially Palestinian ones, so it doesn't require advocacy--but through electoral politics.

      The first thing Republicans elected to office in Wash DC do is to start getting bundled money from AIPAC, after which they will vote for anything AIPAC tells them to, thereupon posturing themselves as great friends of that mysterious entity known as "the Jews." There's a lot more of them eager to grovel for the Likud handout than there are pro-Likud Jews in the legislative branch of government. For the evangelicals it's win-win, because they get votes AND money. Again, there's many, many more of them in the legislative branch than Jews.

      Forget the horse manure about the Religious Right being dead. It's the most dynamic part of the coalition that supports the Republican party in the heartland, and will be for a long time. Uncritical support for the Likudniks is a big part of their program, with all the implicit and explicit Islamophobia that position implies.

      And there's another angle that activists, whether Jews or non-Jews, simply don't get at all. That is the assault on the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock (al-haram ash Sharif) and the whole Temple Mount area. Groups of rightwing settlers have been staging mass incursions and various kinds of walk-abouts in growing numbers for the last two years, along with closing down or attacking many Mosques in the occupied Palestinian territories. The rightwing fanatics say they want the right to pray on the Temple Mount, but what they really want is to have control of it, after which they wish to tear it down and build the Jewish Second Temple. (They have a whole truckload of crazy beliefs about why they wish to do this, and I'm leaving out most of the crazy details, but the point is, they want to tear down the Al Aqsa Mosque for religious reasons.)

      They're dead serious about this, and are willing to give their lives to get it done. The Europeans are well aware of the dangers of this insane and fanatical plan, which is why it was the centerpiece of a recent secret report circulated in Europe. Netanyahu won't stop it because he needs the support of the national-religious Jews and other rightwing elements.

      Activists generally don't understand the incredible danger of the assault on Al Aqsa because they tend to be rationalists who aren't particularly religious, and who find it very difficult to take religious fanaticism seriously. They don't think that way, and find it very hard to imagine how religious fanatics could possible have these ideas. They should try a little harder, and so should Mondoweiss. Think about it: tearing down Al Aqsa Mosque will be the quickest way to get to what the Likudniks and the neo-cons have always wanted, which is religious war throughout the 21st century, and the concomitant growth of an unapologetic and very open US "counter-terrorist" strategy--i.e., a very open, very self-righteous, very violent form of US imperialism in which collateral damage against civilians will be rationalized by many Americans as part of God's plan.

      When I say religious war, I mean widespread terrorism directed against American Embassies and other targets, and eventually attacks on targets on US soil; but it could also take the form of land wars which will seem territorial in nature, but which--like the Wars of Spanish Succession in the 18th and 19th centuries--really have a religious meaning and are driven by religious ideas and emotions.

      The right-wing fanatics in Israel keep harping on the idea that the Temple Mount is the most holy place in Judaism. All Muslim scholars agree that Al Aqsa is the third most holy site in Islam. That's the detonator, all ready to go, ready to create religious war. It should be obvious that religious war, even low-intensity religious war, is a scourge of mankind. But that's what the neo-cons have always wanted, and the Likudniks are looking carefully at ways they can improve their position by going along with it.

      Israel is driven by religious nationalism at present. The whole point of religious nationalism is to humiliate and torment perceived enemies. The fanatics in Israel have found a way to cause the maximum amount of pain, frustration and horror among the world's Muslims, who would be forced to watch helplessly while their holy site is torn down. The Israeli fanatics seek control of the Temple Mount area first, then they will mainstream the idea of tearing Al Aqsa down, destroying it to build the Second Temple. Then, if there are no countervailing forces that can stop them, they will keep trying to do it until they succeed. The US will make excuses at every point, and even support it financially.

      And their main support for this madness will come from our very own US Congress, and all those nice Republicans with evangelical Christians in their districts. If you don't believe that, just try going to my home state of Kansas, where I was raised; get out of the college towns and talk to the people in the heartland, especially the Republicans, of which there are a great many. You will find that a solid majority among them--not a plurality, but a majority--are ready for religious war, especially because so many of them think it will bring about the Second Coming of Jesus. The national-religious fanatics are trying to hijack Judaism in Jerusalem, but evangelical Christianity in the US heartland has already been hijacked by religious fanatics.

  • Does Israel Have a Right to Exist as a Jewish State?: An excerpt from Ali Abunimah's 'The Battle for Justice in Palestine'
    • The political class of Israel will never allow a Palestinian state until they are threatened with the loss of their own state. Period. End of story. We all know it's true, so let's stop kidding each other.

  • The self-hating goy
    • Love the story by Jon S.

      I have long said that the last stage of Christian antisemitism is the inability to criticize Jews when they make mistakes, or adopt bad policies. We're now seeing many examples of this seemingly paradoxical situation. You could call it philo-Semitism, but it's really just a form of spiritual laziness. Christians are terrified of being called antisemitic, because Christianity historically was antisemitic, and Christians never really tried to figure out why. So out of guilt they are terrified of having anything even remotely resembling a candid conversation.

      You will know that Christian antisemitism is finally dying when a Christian can look at all things Jewish and disagree with those things that seem bad to him, and support things that seem good, without caring what the cultural vigilantes of the Israel Lobby say about it. We can get there, if we learn to stop looking at each other as stand-ins for past trauma.

  • A Jewish Christmas message to the unsaved world
    • For one person's insight into how corruptions within different religions actually reinforce each other, see my 'Counterpunch' essay "How Neo-Cons Became Honorary Christians."

      link to counterpunch.org

      Yes, there's disgust and a fair amount of despair in Marc's piece, but I for one admire him for articulating it. Responsibility begins in our dreams, including our nightmares.

  • Grumpy Biden, Grumpy Cat weigh in on Syria speech
    • I can only shake my head at the utter irrelevance of so many progressives, who seem to spend most of their time shrieking about non-existent monsters, when they’re not engaging in the various kinds of odd but self-congratulatory posturing that thinkers seem to excel at. Maybe it comes from having so many ideas about how the world should be, but having little power, and hence very little responsibility; and therefore not much common sense. Intellectuals of conscience especially excel at false equivalencies, the entire function of which is to escape from the moral responsibilities of the present moment.

      I suggest these realities to my “progressive” friends:

      1. Iraq was a near-genocidal disaster. Bush should be tried as a war criminal, but he won’t be, because many of our fellow Americans think he’s wonderful. But Iraq didn’t happen because of a failure of intelligence, it was a failure of an imperial president who would only listen to intelligence that told him what he wanted to hear. Syria is not Iraq. It is a completely different situation. If you view Syria through the lens of Iraq, you’re stuck in the past and are allowing yourself to be manipulated by the Iraq trauma.

      2. Yes, the Israel Lobby wants a military strike on Syria for its own corrupt reasons. So what? If the people in the Israel Lobby drink water, should you stop drinking water? Grow UP, for cat sakes.

      3. Yes, the neo-cons want a military strike. See number “2″ above.

      4. Yes, Iran supports Hezbollah, and Hezbollah fighters are now fighting on the side of Assad. This makes a solution harder, but it has the advantage of completely discrediting Hezbollah, who until very recently were folk heroes. Every horror has a silver lining, and that may be a big one.

      5. Yes, the Likudnik war criminals killed 1400 people in Gaza, 400 of them children. Only an American progressive would believe that this justifies 1400 dead Syrians. We couldn't do anything about Cast Lead because the Israel Lobby's control of media and political parties in America. Would you save people in Gaza? Then you must contemplate doing the same for Syrians, where something real can actually be accomplished.

      6. Yes, there are extremists among the rebels, but not that many yet, and besides that’s an argument for intervention, not against it. We need to stop talking about arming the Free Syrian Army, and start doing so.

      So what’s the real issue, as opposed to all the ghosts and phantoms that liberals and progressives are getting their knickers in a bunch over? The reality is this. Sarin gas is a game-changer. Despite what anti-intervention people are saying, killing with sarin gas isn’t the same as killing with automatic weapons. Sarin gas kills many more people, and it kills them much faster. Because it can kill 1400 civilians in a single night, and it does so in a way military units cannot defend against, it creates a complete asymmetry of power. The Free Syrian Army knows that it can’t defend against it. Assad will use it again, and if the world blinks, he will use the power that arises out of his use of mass murder. Sarin gas used for military purposes has one endgame, and that endgame is genocide.

      The world has both the right and the responsibility to “deter and degrade” the Syrian military. Naturally, any chance for a cease-fire should be pursued, and also a regional peace conference, but the military option will almost surely be necessary. If nobody else will do it, the Americans must, simply because they have the capability. Furthermore, the US–and its allies–have to find a way to dismantle and make safe the rather large stores of sarin gas that Assad has been collecting for decades. It simply has to be done--there's no way to wriggle out of it. Will there be a response by Assad to the American strike? Yes, and it will most likely include a massive cyber-attack on the US. But we have to go ahead. It involves real-world risk. Deal with it.

      Remember the words of Dr. King: “What is bad is not the evil people, but the good people that do nothing.”

  • British government forced Guardian to smash hard drives with Snowden files
    • Rusbridger would have to be crazy not to have made multiple copies of the flash drives and stored them in various places in Britain, as well as encrypted much of the information and storied it electronically in various modalities, and in various places. GCHQ would be crazy not to know that. So why the charade of smashing a single set of flash drives?

      Clearly the Brits are under pressure from the Americans, who at this point are absolutely barking. So the Brits are forced to do something, and make some gesture that seems decisive, for the sake of the cowboy Americans who are demanding action. So again, why the smashing of flash drives? I think it is because of the violence involved, the actual act of smashing, which sends a threatening message. "Defy us, and we'll smash you"--that's the message. You can feel the contempt with which the intelligence people regard mere dissenting journalists, in the way the GCHQ guy laid down the law to Rusbridger: "You've had your debate, you don't need to write about it anymore."

      Forcing an editor to smash a flash drive while the government representatives watch isn't only about violence. It's a particular kind of violence, a symbolic act of violence against the free exchange of information, by forcing a left-wing journalist to smash the medium of his dangerous information. It has some of the same feelings associated with the horror of book-burning--it's a way of forcing people to internalize the worthlessness of free ideas and opinions, as well as their personal worthlessness, when compared to the violent powers of the total surveillance state.

      Incidentally, Glenn Greenwald is supposedly booked to speak at a convention organized by the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR) in a couple of months. CAIR is a wonderful and very effective civil rights organization, but for his own sake I hope Mr. Greenwald speaks from Brazil and resists the temptation to travel to the US. If he comes to America, he will probably be arrested, and once in prison he may never get out alive.

  • Mubarak is released while the Obama administration second guesses its second guess
    • The rhetoric coming out of the Salvation Front, among others in the pro-coup Provisional Government, is horrifying. Clearly these “liberals” are absolutely barking, working themselves up into a rage appropriate to public executions or possible concentration camps. There is also a fair amount of lying going on, along with media suppression and 24/7 media demonizing of the MB. Most interesting is the charge, rather common now among pro-coup Egyptians, that the West (especially its journalism) is secretly in league with the Muslim Brothers. Equally interesting is the pro-coup’s demand for the ouster of AJ.

      Most Islamophobes in the USA believe that all US Muslim organizations are simply fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood. If the Egyptian MB is in fact crushed, who or what will the American anti-Muslim bigots blame in their campaign against American Islam?

      Irony aside, its very hard not to conclude that the Arab Spring is now over, not just because of Black Wednesday but also because of the incredible lying, the psychotic propaganda campaign, and outright hysterical denial that the interim government has made, or ever could make, any mistakes.

      The two power centers were the MB and the military. Their goals were incompatible, but they balanced each other out. There is now nothing to stop the military for seizing power in the form of a military dictatorship, especially since Saudi money is about to replace US dollars. If you doubt that, just think ahead a bit to the “next elections.” Does anyone seriously think that they’ll allow anyone from the MB to run? And if they don’t, how can anybody claim that the election is representative?

      That being the case, the military will probably decide not to bother about elections at all. Then when the “liberals” complain, the military can say, “Well, we’re very sorry, but you see if we have elections the MB will only use that as an excuse to win power back. You wouldn’t want that, would you?”

  • Why the coup determination is now irrelevant to the question of US aid to Egypt
    • Political Islam must have a way to participate in elections, or it will go underground. Once that happens, it will stay underground for a long time, it will probably pick up the gun, and the Arabic-speaking Middle East will become one big insurgency/counter-insurgency. Let's hope that pragmatists within political Islam will adopt the Turkish model, and run as Muslim candidates in a secular state. Once the violent underground alternative is chosen, it will probably last for at least a generation.

  • The power of Edward Snowden
    • Tablet ran a story smearing Greenwald, first, because he criticizes Israel, and secondly, because he defied specific individuals in the national security establishment, and the surveillance state generally. Tablet went out of its way to point out that loyalty to Israel means loyalty to whatever the US national security establishment says, since the two are now joined at the hip. I see Glenn Greenwald as a fundamentally prophetic type, and with legal training yet! This is the biggest scoop in modern journalism, and Snowden/Greenwald have given every step in breaking it a great deal of thought.

      I agree with Phil that this incredible series of events is deeply troubling to a great many American liberals, because of the egregious manner in which it violates the Fourth Amendment--and liberal values generally. That tends to explain the hysteria at MSNBC, whose main audience are liberal Democrats. Lawrence O'Donnell hates Snowden and never misses a chance to smear him. I will always be partial to Alex Wagner, the best news analyst and commentator I've seen in a long time, but I'm getting sick and tired of O'Donnell shutting people down, especially women, when they express mild disagreement with his position on Snowden. O'Donnell exhibits the same mounting fury, the same tantrums, the same controlling behavior, as Bill O'Reilly. In fact, I have O'Donnell pegged as a social-democratic version of Bill O'Reilly, because they're both selling the same rancid product, which is rampant patriarchy.

      And now, Lavabit is being put out of business. The worst thing about Lavabit Email being shut down is that the courageous owner, who threw away ten years of hard work building up his business, is prohibited by the government from talking or writing about why it all happened. Now we're getting into the soup, people...when the government can tell you what you can or can't talk about, and it's all going down on American soil, we're in real trouble.

  • Was James Gandolfini sucked into Tony Soprano's fierce dream?
    • Loved everything about this post. Agree also with KeithS about Mondoweiss playing the role of the truth-telling prophet. So can we all, if we make the choice.

      "You saw people painfully getting sucked into a vortex of Tony's mendacious murderous Mafia behavior and the money that came from that. They all try in their own little ways, but they are not able to get out. In the end they were all in Tony's dream, which was the fiercest and most powerful dream, and this thwarted them."

      I argue that this dream of aggression, power and evil is so difficult to escape because one has usually been victimized by it, or lived in daily fear of being victimized by it. (With Tony it was his mother, who tried to have him whacked because he knew too much.) The victim internalizes the aggression because it is the only way the self can survive it, and later acts it out. This is the way aggression and evil are disseminated in the world. The former victim becomes an aggressor, who makes new victims. In my book I refer to this process as trauma bonding, but once in place it also has many of the characteristics of an addiction.

      When used by ruthless governments, it can bond people to its vision of a transcendent violence. Hitler put it this way: "The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it."

      If one interprets "The Sopranos" as an analog to American life, and the language of its violent characters as metaphors for the soul-destroying violence of Empire, most of us--most Americans, I mean--are playing out the role of Carmella, who is either an enabler of, or an accomplice to, Tony's murders. But there is a way out, as Krakower tells her, which is to leave Tony and start speaking truth to the kids, while there's still a chance they can choose a different way. I'm not talking about internal exile. I'm talking about being a radical truth-teller.

  • NPR's Bob Garfield blasts Snowden for Russian asylum: 'the height of hypocrisy'
    • I don't think it's true, as Krauss speculates, that most people in the Democratic party don't care about this NSA creation of a total surveillance state, simply because there's a Democrat in the White House. Or if they did, they're beginning to change their minds, thanks to the brilliant Snowden/Greenwald strategy of rolling out the bad news a little at a time. Remember that the Democratic party is the only political game in town for many people. Black people in this country will be occupied with winning back the right to vote for at least a generation, because the Republican party has committed itself totally to voter suppression. It will be a very difficult fight, in which large masses of people will be in action on the street, and may even result in loss of life. This will happen at the same time that the economy--and the corporate upper class--continues to push middle class and working people down into a new suburban/urban peasantry.

      But the Democratic party consists of a Rooseveltian coalition of labor, minorities and liberals. Many liberals I talk to are astonished and upset at the way the media figures have gone after Snowden, trying to silence criticism of the NSA in the same way that they silence criticism of Israel. The role of the progressive in the Democratic party is to tell liberals this is a make-or-break situation: they've got to take a stand, or the surveillance state will win. Progressives in the Democratic party now need to explain to their coalition partners the danger they're in from the total surveillance state, but they have to speak out fearlessly on their own, regardless of what the others think or say. Think of Cornel West: he's a left-socialist, has been active in the Democratic party, and is even a friend of Obama, but criticizes him regularly on drones and surveillance.

      Now might be a time for liberals to read a little Gramsci. He understood the implacable operation of economics on everything else, but also insisted that to influence others, you have to have an attractive, powerful idea about the world and the good life. Our job as progressives is to convince others--especially the libertarian-influenced young people--that they cannot keep what they win politically until we confront the nature of this new form of systemic evil. I think the Snowden/Greenwald strategy creates an opportunity to do that.

      In the meantime, don't give money to NPR, and tell them why you won't.

  • Exclusive: Al Jazeera English’s online US broadcast to end with the launch of Al Jazeera America
    • Exactly who are these "cable operators" and which organizations are behind them? No single group of people should have veto power over the free dissemination of information, in America or anywhere else. I would like to see more investigative journalists prying into the exact manner in which these "cable operators" have been given such power over what we see and hear. Something isn't right here.

      I'm still reeling over the way a clear political line has been imposed on the very smart young people at MSNBC. They remain a good source for domestic news from a progressive point of view, but clearly it has been decided that the most important national security issues of our time cannot be examined from a liberal, left or even remotely libertarian point of view. That's a catastrophe, since it is precisely the national security establishment that is the deep state in America.

      And now this news about AJAM. There have been several intimations that something like this has been in the works, but this kind of capitulation would be devastating.

      MSNBC ratings last month are down, but their execs seem blissfully aware of why it happened. (AJAM, take note.) The reason, quite simply, is that MSNBC tried to copy CNN's crime coverage, and failed miserably; and because of the MSNBC commentators' disgraceful attacks on Edward Snowden. The MSNBC crew didn't even wait until Snowden was completely down before they started kicking him...and the reasons they gave sounded very much like a political line that had been rehearsed and shaped with great care. It will be a long time before I forget how stomach-turning it was to watch Lawrence O'Donnell interrogating Snowden's former girlfriend on Snowden's narcissism and general ill-repute. (When the deep state needs a cop, they will always turn to an insecure progressive.) It hurt all the more because O'Donnell is one of the few people on network TV who will admit that he's a "European-style socialist."

      Again: I want to know who these "cable operators" are, how they exercise their power, their motive for doing so, and why they are able to decide what Americans watch. It would be better to get the story out sooner rather than later, while it can still be given a nuanced presentation, and while journalists are still willing to search for the organizational presence behind the operators involved--and you can be sure there is such an organizational presence. Max, are you available for such an assignment?

  • Set off a Roman candle for 'the anti-authoritarian instinct' -- and Edward Snowden!
    • I've gotten used to watching commentaries at MSNBC, and am a great fan of Alex Wagner and Joy Reid, and many others: they to some extent struck me as a group of extremely bright young progressives, restoring to some extent my faith in young liberals. But as soon as the Snowden thing broke, you could see them all pulling back. They are clearly parsing their words very carefully, because they're all at the start of their careers, and getting fired from MSNBC (accompanied by some kind of public legal fight) would be a career-breaker. If you got fired from MSNBC you'd have to go to satellite radio, and in a year or two nobody would remember your name.

      Some at MSNBC, like Lawrence O'Donnell, went after Snowden very aggressively, using the most idiotic kind of classism and personal attacks. (For example, he constantly reiterated the fact that Snowden was a high school dropout, making me proud that I am a middle school dropout). Joy Reid also seemed to perceive Snowden's revelations as an attack on the Obama administration. Rachel Maddow, as always, was very clever about not taking any kind of overt position. One doesn't know if MSNBC President Phil Griffin has actually sent the memo, but everybody seems to be tiptoeing around the real issues involved very carefully. Only Chris Hayes and a couple of other guests were able to deal with the issues, although I think perhaps Glenn Greenwald may have been asked in as a guest a few times.

      MSNBC is really missing the presence of Phil Donahue and Keith Olbermann, because they were authentic progressives--which is precisely why they were fired. Both came from an authentic and powerful constituency. Donahue spoke for the liberal antiwar constituency with a solid base among women, and Keith Olbermann was simply funny as hell taking potshots at authority figures, and was especially good at making fun of the kind of feckless patriarchy represented by Bill O'Reilly. Both were real, both spoke with a real voice, and both saw and hated the growing authoritarianism in our country.

      I wish AJ America would hire them, but it will probably be too busy establishing its bona fides as the news agency that will someday send CNN out of business. AJ may decide to shy away from commentary because of the incredible anti-Arabism that prevails in this country.

      Conclusion: there's probably a better way to express and tap into the deep vein of anti-authoritarianism that has always existed in the US, but we haven't found it yet. One point that really needs to be made more often, something that the Snowden episode reveals very clearly, is the desperation of the US elite to kill or bag Snowden, and the utter contempt with which they treat leaders in Latin America. Also encouraging is the manner in which the best minds in Latin America now realize the necessity of strategically and publicly opposing Tio Sam and his greed-blinded corporate upper class, when it is necessary to do so. I hope Equador takes Snowden in. Phil Agee would be proud.

  • Egypt's continuing revolution makes a mockery of Huntington's 'clash of civilizations'
    • The Obama administration was surprised by Morsi's lack of pragmatism, and I have to admit, so was I. This astonishing lack of flexibility, combined with the economic situation, led to the MB's ouster. This is all so unprecedented that nobody can tell what comes next, but I'm with those who wish to focus on the horrific economic situation; the call for economic technocrats is usually a cover for autocracy of one form or another, but in this case I think it's the right way to go.

      I just hope that the West can understand what this says about Islam and the Egyptian people. Every country is different, but the amazing thing in this instance is that it was Muslims in Egypt who overwhelmingly saw that the MB was not going to give them the kind of society they wanted, or the kind of non-governmental approach to Islam and Christianity that they longed for. Egyptian Muslims and Christians working together supplied the pragmatism that the MB was unable to provide. That was truly inspiring, and I hope that good people in the West can see that, and emulate it in their own societies.

  • Review: The Girl Who Stole My Holocaust
    • I have just ordered this book, and will encourage friends and associates to do so as well. I hesitate to comment at all, because I don't speak Hebrew and haven't read it yet, but from Jimmy Johnson's excellent review I would just like to say that this book may encompass a big part of the breakthrough vision we've been waiting for. Traumatic memory of the Holocaust--and the centuries of European antisemitism that preceded it--is the fuel that drives hatred of Palestinians, fear of the world as a giant anti-Jewish conspiracy, and much Jewish and Christian Islamophobia. It is interesting that apparently the author, as a soldier entering a Palestinian village, almost immediately made the connection between the fear in the Palestinians girl's eyes and the Nazi Holocaust. I believe that this happened because a great deal of the aggression Israeli Jews feel toward Palestinians (and their covert admiration of 'Arabs') comes from internalized aggression of their European tormenters, carefully kept alive by the Likudniks. The rightwing Likudniks are careful to keep that traumatic memory alive--remember how Netanyahu always brings up the Holocaust when lecturing the UN?--because that is their main political capital.

      But you cannot keep using traumatic memory forever, because sooner or later individuals tend to wake up and see that they're being used. As Brecht said (or something like this), you can call out a tank against the people, but you can't control what the driver of that tank is thinking. Sooner or later one of those soldiers is going to write a book, and then the secret is out.

      For some thoughts on how traumatic memory of the Holocaust is used by the US Israel Lobby against both Christians and Jews, see:

      link to counterpunch.org

  • 'Scoop Israel' -- Stand With Us markets propaganda with Waugh's cachet
    • "Conflict sensitive journalists choose their words carefully." My God.

      There's a sensational comic novel there! Who, who will be the modern Waugh, sans prejudice and snobbery, to give the Israel Lobby the full satiric treatment? I can think of so many titles, of which STONED BY US and SENSITIVE CONFLICTS IN THE PROMISED LAND are only two...

  • Exile and the Prophetic: Judith Butler marks the end (and beginning) of the Jewish ethical tradition
    • Marc's idea of a prophetic voice arriving simultaneously on time and too late reminds me of Kafka's formulation of the Messiah. The Messiah will come, he wrote, only when "the graves will open themselves." He reiterates this thought in the following manner: "The Messiah will come only when he is no longer necessary; he will come only on the day after his arrival; he will come, not on the last day, but on the very last."

      Like it or not, every human with the ability to think and feel is stuck with the responsibility of working out an informed moral code with which to deconstruct the world's injustices. That's both curse and privilege, but one has the freedom to embrace it. For that, I thank God, the Goddess, or 'Whom it May Concern.'

  • Video: Naftali Bennett stands by party member who raised idea of destroying the Dome of the Rock
    • Christian Zionists have invested a great deal of emotion around blowing up the Dome of the Rock, because they think that's what will start the big religious war that will bring Jesus back to earth. Intellectuals tend to miss this sort of thing, because it's so totally irrational--that is, so totally off the liberal radar. But extremists know that it's an effective way of focusing all that hate and aggression around a single act, one that changes the world, and brings about the maximum destruction that Late Zionism and right-wing Christian evangelicalism long for.

      It's not just the religious nuts, sadly. There's another reason that lays deep beneath the religious reasons given by the theocratic and rhetorical madmen. It's that through a single act extremists can cause maximum anguish to the world's Muslims, that through it they can inflict enormous pain, because once the destruction of this profoundly religious site begins Muslims will be helpless to stop it.

      Why do the Israelis support the desecration of Mamilla Cemetery, and the opening of ancient Muslim graves and the removal of remains? Because it is a way of showing utter contempt, and inflicting maximum pain. The sadness of this is that Mamilla and the Dome of the Rock (Masjid Qubbat As-Sakhrah) should be the proud possession of all Israelis, and of all humanity, because they are cultural treasures that reflect humanity's search for spiritual truth. But the harsh religious nationalism that drives the current Israeli government does not seek to integrate Israel into the Middle East, but to dominate and insult it.

      Religious nationalism always seeks the same thing: maximum infliction of humiliation and distress on the identified enemy, then maximum destruction of friend and foe alike.

  • Israel lobby doesn't want Al Jazeera coming into 'millions of American homes'
    • Fantastic news. My respect for Al Gore has just gone way, way up. Of course, a lot depends on how they play their new possession. AJ English is already a very good operation. Wouldn't it be great if AJ kept Current TV as a competitor to MSNBC, with a social justice slant and youth-oriented talking heads, but started allowing commentators to actually talk about the Israel Lobby when it's relevant to do so??

  • 'Atlantic' writer provides no evidence for allegation that Harvard professor is anti-Semitic
    • The moral and psychological core of Goldberg's religious McCarthyism is in this observation: "Jews are unpopular when they're powerless. They're unpopular when they're powerful. We might as well be powerful, no?" As a rationalization for evil this reminds me of an exchange that is supposed to have happened between Peres and Sharon, as the latter was planning some new murderous outrage.

      "If we do this, the world will hate us," Peres is supposed to have said.

      "The world will hate us anyway."

      "Well," replies Peres, "maybe we should leave the world."

      If by that Peres meant we should learn to imagine a better world, I'm with him. Too bad he didn't have more backbone.

      This can't be said enough: it's good for Jews to have power, considering what has happened to them in the past. The problem with Israeli power is that it comes from a form of systemic evil driven by religious nationalism, and it is kept in place with all the oppression, torture and murder that colonialism requires. To see that is not antisemitism. Neither is the perception that the US Israel Lobby often prefers to attack the person rather than debate the issues.

      I think what Sullivan (see Phil's comments on Sullivan's new column) is doing is something most of us have gone through, or will. At a certain point you simply have to say, "To hell with it, I'm going to tell the truth as I see it no matter what, these so-called leaders are nothing but the two percent of American Jewry, and their smears and gutter tactics are harming civil society and making a sane Middle East policy impossible." Sullivan has had to face down his own doubts, anger and sorrows concerning the pedophile coverup within Catholicism, and I think it's made him a better and more spiritual person. We need truth-tellers, and I think he's already one of the best.

  • Exile and the Prophetic: A Christmas tree at Auschwitz
    • Marc's series "Exile and the Prophetic" is beautiful for many reasons, not least of which is that they go together: attempt the prophetic, and you find yourself a pariah in exile from all the Promised Lands, willingly or otherwise. But as a heretical Christian I can't agree with Marc that Christianity has reformed itself, because it hasn't yet come to terms with the explosive belief that arguably drives Christians to make scapegoats, the belief in blood atonement: that the torture and murder of Jesus was God's plan to save the world, which generates salvation for the believer.

      That idea sends a powerful message that violence is redemptive. The result is too often a profound and very toxic Christian identification with aggression (all exceptions happily granted), which I believe drove the growth of Christian antisemitism.

      For one progressive/heretical Christian's idea about the manner in which Christianity might rid itself of this dangerous addiction to redemptive violence can be found at the following link:

      tikkun.dukejournals.org/content/27/4/20.full

  • Regurgitating Israeli talking points, Amanpour lectures Meshal that 'int'l agreements' bar right of return
    • Obviously, she's been given 'the talk' in which the facts of life were explained to her. Now they'll have to have the 'second talk,' in which they remind her not to go too far. It's all a matter of nuance. You can't be too screamingly racist, too insulting or too obviously patronizing toward Palestinians--that might suggest defensiveness, which in turn suggest the fundamental malignancy of the American and Israeli positions. The ambitious media professional has to be a bit more subtle when invoking the West's irritation toward the Palestinians, whose ultimate crime is that they simply don't know their place. I'm sure Ms. Amanpour will understand the constraints involved, since it involves her career. At the end of the day, broadcast news is all about empire, celebrity culture in the service of political murder.

  • Norr responds to Ash: Who is trying to get the solidarity movement back on track and who is merely fanning the flames of division?
    • The people involved with the Estelle may very well have good reasons, including some safety considerations, which caused them to "dis-invite" Ann Wright. But there's no doubt that the reason she was asked to step down was because of her association with Greta Berlin. Therefore, however necessary that may have been, the motive for it was guilt by association--Ann's association with Greta, and the fact that she likes Greta and wants to continue working with her. We might as well be honest about that.

      I believe that for Gabriel Ash and some people in his group, the entire controversy really is about Gilad Atzmon. Greta Berlin liked Atzmon's book, and Ann Wright likes Greta and is willing to work with her, so Ann Wright is the enemy, to him. So her modest statement about what happened becomes words of anathema to Mr. Ash, and anybody who defends her, such as Mr. Orr, likewise become spawn of the devil. For people who want to know more about Gilad Atzmon, and why so many nominally sane people are barking mad about him, you might want to read my long essay on same, to wit:

      link to pilgrimsoulblog.com

      Of course, Atzmon is a complete madman, but he's been effectively exiled from any political position of leadership, so he's not a threat to anybody anymore. Sadly, however, Mr. Ash has what in my opinion amounts to an obsession concerning Atzmon. Mr. Ash's circle in Britain has engaged in, among other things, an attempt to launch a boycott against his publishers; letter-writing to newspapers demanding that they not review his CDs and musical performances without discussing his politics; and they spend a lot of time and energy engaged in hating Atzmon and doing other things that strike me as both self-defeating and unnecessary.

      That's why Mr. Ash's statement is so full of anger--it's the old curse of sectarian political activists. Being unable to influence events in the real world, they can only vent their rage at each other. I hope we can rise above that. What were missing were some kind words about Ann's worth, both as a human being and as an extremely courageous campaigner for human rights and human decency. But you don't get that from sectarian types, because they are too busy trying to figure out the right response to their enemies.

  • No room for racism in a movement working for equality and freedom
    • Phil and Adam,

      No need to apologize for waiting on the Greta Berlin controversy--you need time to gather evidence and try to figure out what's happening. But many of your readers aren't aware of what you're found in your investigation. You need to present what you've found, and then make your case. Until then, people won't know why you have taken this position.

      This Greta Berlin controversy bears a strong family resemblance to the Gilad Atzmon mess. What it boils down to is that some people have, or develop, problematical ideas that can hurt the movement for justice in Israel/Palestine. Sometimes it's simply out of ignorance, and you try to work with those people when possible. But when their ideas are antisemitic, or appear to have hardcore, repeated antisemitic content, they are especially destructive, because it was the antisemitism of European Christians that in many ways led to the current tragedy in Israel/Palestine. Antisemitism can completely discredit organizations devoted to justice in Israel/Palestine, as the Palestinians are acutely aware, so if a person doesn't understand the dangers of antisemitism, he or she isn't qualified to be a leader in this particular struggle. That can sometimes be a hard call, but we need to deal with it, and I congratulate the people at Mondoweiss for doing their best with it.

      On the other hand, I think the civil rights of such people as Greta and Atzmon must be defended in the larger society. I say that partly because I am a civil libertarian, and partly because I know that the inquisitorial temperament is particularly strong on the Left. There are people who demonize musicians because they once played a gig with Gilad Atmon, or think that jazz clubs should prevent him from playing his music. So we need to be clear that we're supporting the rights of all people in civil society, whatever their beliefs are, even if we can't allow them to lead our organizations. I personally believe that discourse around Israel/Palestine has become deeply pathological in certain respects, and that as a result we can learn a lot from the mad ones among us, like Atzmon, about how the mind in crisis operates.

      Those interested in this subject matter may wish to read my long essay on Gilad Atzmon on my website, "Israel/Palestine in the Mind of America."

      link to pilgrimsoulblog.com

      The issue of antisemitism has become extremely important for two reasons:

      There is no doubt in my mind that the religious nationalism upon which Zionism so often rests is affecting the quality of Judaism in the US. Does that make one antisemitic to document this? It depends on how you do it. If you make your analysis with sensitivity, you should be okay, but there are many who will wish to denounce you for antisemitism nonetheless. Yet anybody who cares two hoots for the quality of discourse in this country knows that Jewish leadership has gone rapidly downhill since the death of Abraham Joshua Heschel, and that toxic neo-con ideas have been embraced by many leaders. The key to documenting this is being specific and avoiding generalizations when possible.

      Secondly, although Mondoweiss has done a great job of opening up the justice issues surrounding Israeli apartheid, there is hanging over all of us a difficult sovereignty issue. Today an actual majority of people in Congress receive money from, or on behalf of, the state of Israel, through AIPAC. When elected officials receive money from a foreign country to vote in a certain way, that's a profound violation of American sovereignty. That's true on its face, but especially if it can be shown that Netanyahu's extremist values are not the consensus values of most Americans.

      Raising the sovereignty issue, and the betrayal of American values, will be a difficult tightrope to walk. On the one hand, it will bring out the real Anti-Semites, who will have to be denounced. On the other hand, the major Jewish leaders will accuse us of antisemitism, no matter how thoughtfully we try to raise this issue. But it won't be antisemitic, if we do it with sensitivity and intelligence--and in the end, that care will be rewarded by those we are trying to reach. To that end, we need to keep up this discussion about antisemitism, but by being specific and steering clear of hearsay, and defending everybody's right of speech in the larger society no matter what their ideas are.

  • Vicious Friday attacks on Al Aqsa
    • The attacks on Islamic holy sites, particularly Al-Aqsa, are provocation. Palestinians and Arab leaders know this. Netanyahu is looking for a chance to ethnically cleanse Palestinians, almost surely linking it in some way to a military threat/confrontation with Iran. That's why everybody is keeping a low profile, they don't want to take the bait. What's amazing, and so dispiriting, is that here in the US, where we run no real risk whatsoever except insults from the Lobby, nobody is talking about this. This is the preparation for the series of events that could lead to the religious war the neo-cons have been wanting. Yet people are paralyzed, or simply don't want to think about it.

      Oppressive regimes generally have a passive-aggressive fighting style, accusing others of doing exactly what they do, or intend to do. Moshe Ya'along, VP and Minister of Strategic Affairs, is quoted in a New Yorker article that a nuclear Iran would use a bomb "as a nuclear umbrella to intensify its rogue activities" in the region. That's exactly what Israel is doing. If nuclear bombs are weapons in search of a policy, we now know what that policy is: It is a gun that holds the world hostage, while the gunmen calmly and with great deliberation detonate the religious war we have all been working to avoid.

  • Ninny Middleton doesn't understand the job description
    • Utterly delightful writing. When power and sexuality overlap, the wives usually have the best insights, I've found.

  • Confronting anti-semitic discourses head on: How to avoid self-silencing
    • The Moroccans may be doing terrible things to people in the Western Sahara, but so far the Moroccans haven't been able to organize an American lobby strong enough to pay a majority of elected American legislators to vote the way they tell them to, or drive people from their jobs, to lobby incessantly to get the US to attack another country, or try to pass laws that outlaw free speech. If that last example seems extreme, just look at the latest attempt by the Israel Lobby to pass a law that would prevent people on California State University campuses from saying anything critical of the Israeli state.

      I became alarmed at the activities of the Israel Lobby not just because of the plight of the Palestinians, which is bad enough, but because of its malevolent attempts to limit free speech and association in American politics and culture, and to create influence by calling everybody who opposes them anti-Semites. There is a clear and present danger of a resurgence of antisemitism, to be sure, but the danger originates with the reckless activities of the Israel Lobby and its neo-con leaders, who seek to hijack Judaism in the name of religious nationalism and Likudnik aggression. They, along with their Christian evangelical allies, will not be satisfied until they have gotten us into a worldwide religious war that the US cannot afford and cannot win. That's why Late Zionism is, and sh0uld be, of more concern to progressive and patriotic Americans than anything done in Morocco.

  • Police officer kicks 9-year-old boy, and Israeli commenters cheer him on
    • Note: When I referred to "certain commentators" in my last post, I refer, of course, to the commentators at the Israeli Channel 2 Facebook venue, not to any commentators on this website.

    • The identification with the Nazis on the part of certain commentators seems rather clear here. So when the next Middle Eastern war comes, as it will, what will stop the Israeli political class from "deciding," after decades of carefully painting themselves into some kind of existential corner, that six million dead Arabs might redeem six million dead Jews? That's been the subtext of Jabotinsky Zionism right from the gate--the Christians do terrible things, so we will too. The Israelis are faithfully replicating all the excesses of racism, militarism and empire that caused the first Holocaust.

      But that might be only a down payment on the next one, directed this time against the Arabic-speaking people, whose main crime, most of them, is simply knowing the truth. For that they must be kicked, and ultimately slaughtered.

  • Presbyterian activist in conservative Pbg paper says 'we will not shrink' when Jewish leaders threaten break in interfaith relations
    • The threats made to both Methodist and Presbyterian denominations with withholding or abruptly stopping "Jewish-Christian" interfaith relations is a joke.

      What interfaith relations? They haven't existed in this country for a long time. There was always a subtext to such relations--"Don't say anything critical about Israel." Then it became, "If you say anything critical about Israel we will publicly denounce you as an anti-Semite and all in your denomination as anti-Semites." That kind of interfaith relationship is based on emotional blackmail, not mutual benefit.

      The only place where I see real interfaith relationships based on mutual respect and mutual benefit is occurring among the Christians, Jews and Muslims who are fighting to bring down Israeli apartheid. In fact, that may be one of the most welcome aspects of the Palestinian solidarity movement--the fact that Jews, Muslims and Christians get a chance to know each other on a respectful basis, because they are actually able to speak their minds and relate to each other as people, rather than victims of various kinds of threats and denunciations.

      We owe a debt of gratitude to all who are able to speak up for justice against institutional threats aimed at silencing truth-tellers.

      For information about one of the most stalwart Jewish intellectuals fighting for justice in Israel/Palestine, and the astonishing pressures he is facing by those who want to run him out of academia in America, Google "Ken Starr's Pogrom," which appeared two weeks ago in 'Counterpunch.'

  • Jewish org's letter warns Presbyterians divestment from occupation 'taps into our deepest fears'
    • I am impressed by the fact that the letter against selective divestment approaches actual incoherence. We will see more of that kind of Orwellian doubletalk.

      As I have been saying for some time, and continue to say, the situation regarding Israel and its proxies is not about politics, or even of geopolitics. It is about pathology. Until we have a moral psychology that can grapple with the problem of evil, the madness will continue to accelerate.

  • A debate about the two-state-solution with Norman Finkelstein
    • The power of these two passionate minds is incredible, and the very existence of this dialogue demonstrates the usefulness of this website. We owe both people involved a debt we cannot repay. But is the dialogue about attitudes, or about what Israel will do? The problem is that Israel's political class and its proxies in the US may not want to think rationally, do not want solutions, do not want a settlement. Because the Israeli state has kept the trauma of the Holocaust alive, mentioning it and invoking it on an almost daily basis, the people simply cannot think straight anymore. They have internalized so much of the toxic aggression dealt out by Likud Zionism that what they really want is destruction, I'm afraid. Historically, such things have happened before.

      The real question is not what good people like Finkelstein and Phil want, and the enormous mental energy they exert to imagine their noble objectives. The brave young people of the Arab Spring are going to make it their lives' work to get justice for Palestinians. Why? Because they see their brutal persecution every night on TV. They see the gratuitous Israel desecration of Muslim holy sites. Israel/Palestine is holy to three Abrahamic faiths, not just one. There will be another war in the Middle East, and maybe a glimmer of a chance for a settlement at some point, but not a very big window. More likely there will be ongoing military activity against Israel.
      Then Israeli leaders will make the decision about what to do with their nuclear weapons.

      Will those leaders be amenable to solutions, or will they be more invested in acting out to completion the destructive aggression that drives them?

  • 'Death of a Salesman' came out of an intermarriage
    • Phil's writing is getting better, and the social commentary alone is becoming a real strength at this website. Death of a Salesman is a masterpiece. I thought the part where where Miller has the son catch the father cheating was a cheap shot, however, because the degradation of their relationship had much deeper roots. But Phil is spot-on right about the play being about the Greek tragedy that is at the heart of American capitalism. It isn't just that people work themselves into the ground, but the fact that in America the marketplace is experienced by so many people as a religion--and it never delivers, because the marketplace isn't set up to deliver the same emotional product as a religion. (Maybe most established religions can't deliver what we want them to, either, but that's a separate issue.)

      Willy Loman is a failure by his own standards, and his son Biff can't help him, because Bill is also a failure--by Willy's standards. I'm not sure what Miller meant in his autobiography about trying to explain Jewish thoughts and feelings to the rest of America, at least in this play, because Willy's failure is universal. But I understand what Miller meant when he talked about being terrified of the growth of fascism in Europe, and wanting to explain that to the Americans. He saw what so many on the Left then saw--but what we don't see today--which is that fascism isn't just a set of pathological attitudes and behaviors, but also decisions made by a corporate upper class about the citizens of their country.

      Don't look now, but that's what we're faced with again, in slightly different way. We have an absolutely brutal new corporate upper class that clearly wishes to reduce the American people to a kind of urbanized peasantry, robbing us of all the gains we've made in eighty years. The big question is whether enough Americans will get over their disappointment at capitalism's failure as the True Church of America. They'll have to, in order to fight back for some level of decency. Right now I think a lot of them are at the trauma stage. What follows is anybody's guess.

      Linda's cry of anguish at the end of the play sticks in the mind. Poor Willy is dead, but they made their last payment on the refrigerator. "We're free! We're free and clear!"

  • 1200 rabbis threaten an end to interfaith harmony if Methodists support divestment
    • Christians also used interfaith connections for their own corrupt purposes. As Peter Novick convincingly demonstrates in The Holocaust in American Life, Catholic leaders used interfaith connections to try to suppress the American production of The Deputy, asking “their Jewish dialogue partners to put pressure on the Jewish producer and director to cancel the play, or at least to join them in denouncing it.” The Deputy (a play that questioned Pope Pius’ unwillingness to speak out against the Nazi Holocaust) had been produced at a time of “tense politicking at Vatican Council II in Rome over a declaration repudiating anti-Semitism and absolving Jews of culpability in the death of Jesus.” According to Novick, the American Jewish Committee “did its best, albeit unsuccessfully, to prevent the play from going on—and made sure that church officials knew that it had tried.” The national tour was canceled, probably as a direct result of combined Catholic/Jewish pressure to do away with it.

      Needless to say, a play should never be closed down because it criticizes organized religion, any religion; and using it as a poker chip in such backstage tummeling is another example of how the Nazi Holocaust corrupts everything. If American Catholics and Jews had to suppress a play about the Holocaust to get the Pope to stop blaming Jews for the death of Jesus, the entire project of reconciliation had, certainly for the people involved in the suppression, no meaning whatsoever. Similarly, the postponement of candid discussion about Israel was both stupid and tragic, because as time went on the elephant in the parlor got bigger and bigger; and in the total absence of tough love from American Jews, the political class in Israel kept moving to the right until it had completely embraced the neo-fascist Jabotinsky form of Zionism. And the liberal mainstream Protestant groups have been completely swamped by evangelical Christians, who--along with conservative Catholics--now constitute the vast majority of Christians in the US.

      And what did we get out of it? The grisly deceit called Judeo-Christian values, which are nothing but a particularly brutal form of imperialism compounded with religious fanaticism--and every day takes us closer to the religious war that we all seek to avoid. The lesson is simple: we have to speak up, no matter how much the fanatics yell and scream. The Screamers are always with us, but the important question is whether we'll speak up anyway. Here's hoping the Methodists have the internal fortitude to stick by their position, which is extremely simple and just. But the fanatical distortions that have entered American Judaism, based almost entirely on religious nationalism as defined by a foreign state, are breath-taking and terrifying. Christians must take some of the responsibility for this, because we did not speak up when we should have.

  • Episcopalian twit (a review of JFK's former mistress's memoir)
    • The thing that caught my eye was that Mimi was from Miss Porter's school, founded by Sarah Porter in 1843. A very progressive institution for woman's education, in its time, but unfortunately it could not prepare Mimi for what transpired in the White House.

      Fundamentally, what happened was a rape, carefully set up by everyone around JFK. When the thing started to go down, the poor kid probably started to dissociate--in fact, in the single interview by her that I've read she talks about it as though it happened to someone else. Now, however, it seems that she's made sense out of it--and interestingly, she used her closeted and completely weird experience with JFK to make sense of her frigid marriage. Yes, it was something that belonged to a certain time and place, but in addition to that it was part of a particular psychopathology JFK managed to set up--that is, the secret service men, his assistants, even the other women around him, all had guilty knowledge of his affairs, his philandering, and his generalized abuse of women.

      What's interesting to me is the way Mimi unfroze and unpacked the experience over the years, and used it as a standard for aggression generally. That's shows courage. But it's also a cautionary tale. Celebrities and people with power can be absolutely deadly, once they learn how to manipulate people around them to satisfy their needs. That's why physicians are well-advised to go in teams into the houses of drug-seeking celebrities. You get taken in by their talent, and their charisma, and before you know it you're giving them Xanex, or whatever the hell the latest thing is. They're oozing with charm, but they're death on overdrive.

      There is one reading of JFK's behavior with women as revenge for the way the Boston Protestants treated his father, and Irish Catholics generally. And it is well know that Joseph Kennedy's goal was always to revenge himself on the Episcopalian establishment by making Joe, then Jack, the first Catholic Brahmin. But I think the whole thing is a lot more simple that that. I have JFK made as a classic narcissist with a premonition of death, because of his illness, and a bit of a sociopath. A lot of charm made him even deadlier. There is no excuse for his abuse of women, which were often not only manipulate but criminal by any standard. Still, when I think of him I still remember the pull of his idealism--or rather, the idealism that was generated as a result of his charm. That stuff is deadly, or can be, if you're not ready for the aggression that also lies within.

  • Wall Street firm slammed the door on young Warren Buffett for religious reasons
    • Buffett and Graham, heard a garbled version of this story once, but I'm delighted to read the real story and seen the great documentation provided here. Healing is possible; strong-willed people who have tangible goals and a reasonable chance of reaching them won't let religion get in the way. They'd be foolish if they did. The more I hear about Buffett, the more I like him.

      He came out of Presbyterian stock, I think, but wrote once that his faith had flown the coop. He's continued as a kind of cultural Presbyterian, following a strong moral code in business and personal life. It may not be any accident that the PC (Presbyterian Church) has led the way with divestment. What a story about Graham and Buffett. That's pure Americana...

      So are Mooser's S&H Green Stamps, come to think of it. I always got a chuckle out of the fact that you didn't cash the damn things in, you got them 'redeemed.' More evidence of our Protestant origins. Who was it that said the US passed from Protestantism to depravity without ever passing through civilization?? Think I got that quote wrong.

  • Netanyahu says, You also refused to bomb Auschwitz
    • Victimology is a psychological continuum that arises when people build their emotional and communal lives around victim status. It is the dominant psychological system in Israel and is likewise promoted by US proxies, and is reinforced by the Israeli state through constant reiteration of the Holocaust, as well as not-so-subtle hints that a new Holocaust might happen. People under its influence talk like true believers, but their motivation is emotional rather than ideological. Victimology usually begins as a method for handling trauma, but evolves into a highly dysfunctional system in both the human personality and the culture of a nation; as a national phenomenon it is likely to lead to endless, reckless military and diplomatic adventures and ultimately national and personal implosion.

      So Serbian nationalists were able to use victim status in the service of the Bosnian genocide, so the IRA was able to use to it murder innocent victims of terrorism, and so Likudnik Zionism will use it to kick off another war in the Middle East, and perhaps finally the worldwide religious war the neo-cons have always advocated.

      People driven by victimology provoke or invent conflict, not to win the conflict but rather to lose it, thereby proving to the world their enduring victim status. Being defeated does not stop such people, since they define success as remaining a victim while creating as much violence and aggression as possible. Losing a conflict simply renews that person’s connection to victim status as they wait for the next opportunity to generate conflict.

  • Group responsible for Muslim grave desecration gives advice on bigotry to the White House
    • Good catch, Alex. Here's some info about the SWC:

      The Simon Wiesenthal Center is an extreme rightwing Jewish organization, tinged by neo-fascism and with many of the characteristics of a hate organization. It is based almost completely on a vulgarized, pervasive form of religious nationalism. Its vision for Israel is consistent with the neo-fascist Jabotinsky tendency within Zionism that was modeled on Italian fascism, and it also promotes the Likudnik doctrine that Judaism itself has no practical or demographic existence separate from Israel. The SWC supports the neo-con belief in permanent war in the Middle East, and it engages in the vigorous dissemination of religious bigotry against Muslims in the US.

      It portrays anti-Semitism as worse than it is, partly for fund-raising purposes and partly to establish an imagined victim status. It similarly uses the Holocaust both to discourage criticism of Israel and to justify Israel’s own violence, aggressively insisting that every criticism of Israel is really aimed at destroying the Jewish people. Above all, the SWC is a dangerous cultural force that seeks religious war as the standard for religious authenticity.

      The Wiesenthal Center’s exaggerations and fabrications regarding anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli attitudes are well-known. The SWC claimed that the 2002 World Social Forum in Mumbai was ‘hi-jacked by anti-Israel and anti-American forces.’ This was completely untrue, as Jewish peace activist Cecilie Surasky, who was in attendance, later testified. (The SWC also claimed in the Jerusalem Post to be ‘the only Jewish NGO’ at Mumbai, whereas in reality there were several, including Jewish Voice for Peace, with which Surasky is affiliated.)

      The Wiesenthal Center also engaged off a strenuous campaign to portray Hugo Chavez as an anti-Semite, which they attempted to do by strategically doctoring a quote by Chavez. This interventionist gambit shouldn’t surprise us—the Wiesenthal Center once presented Jeanne Kilpatrick, a US diplomatic defender of the murderous Pinochet regime in Chile, with its Humanitarian of the Year Award. (The SWC also honored such noted humanitarians as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Robert Murdoch.)

      The Wiesenthal Center also has the unenviable distinction of involvement in one of the worst journalistic blunders of modern times. In the late spring of 2006, Douglas Kelly, editor of the National Post, a Canadian newspaper, became aware of an item in a column by Iranian exile Amir Taheri, indicating that the Iranian Parliament might require Jews to wear yellow stars. A Post editor contacted the Simon Wiesenthal Center, thinking it was a legitimate human rights agency. Both Rabbi Marvin Hier and Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the SWC excitedly insisted to anybody that would listen, both verbally and in an email to the Post, that the tale was “absolutely true.” The Post went ahead with the story on Page One, but Taheri was a neo-con plant, and the story was a fabrication.

      Within days, Post editor Kelly was obliged to make a long and detailed apology to his readers. He referred directly to the Post’s contact with both Cooper and Hier at the Wiesenthal Center, mentioning pointedly that they had both, on separate occasions, confirmed the story. The implication of having been consciously betrayed by the Wiesenthal Center was quite clear. For Hier and Cooper, however, it was a big victory—they’d been able to place a great piece of propaganda on Page One of a large daily newspaper, while managing to make the connection between Nazis and Iranians, a staple theme of the SWC.

      The Wiesenthal Center is silent on the rise of fascism in Israel in 2010-2011, probably because the Center’s own tactics are borrowed from classical fascism, such as their tireless dissemination of religious bigotry. Their more overt activity in this area involves their promotion and showing of the violently anti-Muslim film "The Third Jihad," which was a project of the Clarion Fund, a shadowy rightwing Zionist operation that produced the Islamophobic film "Obsession: Radical Islam’s War with the West." According to investigative reporting by Pam Martens appearing in Counterpunch, the Clarion Fund’s main financial supporters—Donor Capital Fund and Donors Trust—are managed by people who have a long association with Charles G. Koch, billionaire patron of the Tea Party.

  • Trivializing the Holocaust charge
    • The rightwing leaders and political class of Israel have followed a policy of constant reiteration of the Nazi Holocaust for political reasons, to make good soldiers. Even more tragic is that they want young Jews to base their identity on “the worst trauma in human experience,” because they want to use that trauma—that is why these trips to Auschwitz are encouraged so intensively in Israel’s schools. Adolescents hardly able to comprehend their own bodies, much less the rise of fascism in Europe, are the subjects of the indoctrination—because they are so young, they are far more likely to be traumatized by the Holocaust if they are forced to think about it, which means the state can use their disorientation to indoctrinate them.

      There are plenty of government apparatchiks present on these little jaunts to Auschwitz, to show the teenagers how to make sense of Auschwitz. And what they tell them is that Auschwitz could very well happen again, if they aren’t willing to join the army and do what the state tells them to do. The only way to live in a world with Auschwitz is to become a loyal, unquestioning citizen-soldier of Israel. Otherwise you are a traitor to the tribe as defined by Likudnik Zionism. The aggression of religious nationalism is multiplied exponentially by identification with past trauma.

      Israel will reiterate the trauma of the Holocaust to insist, repeatedly and insistently, that the world hates them because they are Jews, that Jews can trust nobody, and that anyone that criticize Israel is an anti-Semite. To survive, they must defeat Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular, whom the Liked government portrays as simple continuations of the Nazi menace without any kind of self-interest or intentionality whatsoever—they are evil golem that exist solely to hate Jews. (Pity the poor Palestinians that must go through check-points manned by teenage soldiers indoctrinated at Auschwitz on these little all-expense-paid expeditions to the European heart of darkness.)

      These kids are not just being conditioned for war. They are being conditioned for something much worse. By constantly reiterating a the past trauma, the Israeli political class has created a trauma bond to the past. This causes young people to identify with the violence of the Holocaust, and to internalize it. And this kind of aggression operates out of a victimology so powerful that a person indoctrinated in this way will feel like the victim while hurting others--the essential posture of the sociopath, who always feels like he is the victim despite the manner in which his crimes devastate other human lives.

  • The gift of the Jews
    • One of Phil's best.

      Although I am nominally Christian, I was married for 20 years to a German-Jewish women, with whom I raised two children in the 1960s and 1970s. We sent them to a progressive school where Hebrew was taught, the idea being that they could get a modicum of Jewish education in a progressive milieu. They problem was the Hebrew teaching materials: they were filled with anti-Arab racism and propaganda. The reason my wife and I became aware of this was because our kids, and all their friends, were raising hell about the Hebrew instructional materials. Why, they wanted to know, were they being given books with pictures of hook-nosed Arabs throwing bombs into the United Nations? Wasn’t that racism?

      The people who ran this school gave us nothing but excuses. They also couldn’t explain why they didn’t teach the kids Yiddish, along with Hebrew. The literature in Yiddish seemed a lot funnier and more nuanced to me, and in many other ways better than the stuff available in Hebrew, and I felt like it had more to say about modern life. But the powers-that-were wouldn’t cop to us, couldn’t give us a straight answer. I began to feel complicit in something bad. Sadly, we didn’t take our kids out right away, even though my wife thought we should. I should have listened to her. Eventually, however, we took the kids out of the school.

      My wife's family had deep roots in the German Left and was an expert on Weimer culture. She explained at length how dangerous religious nationalism was, and how it was going to hijack American Judaism. I didn’t believe her then, but I do now. It was a tremendous gift, probably the best one I ever received, though she has been dead these many years. She even saw how Islam was going to be attacked by the West, and how right-wing Christians and Jews would work together against Arabs and Muslims. That, too, helped me, when in another time and place I became the father of a Muslim child. Then once again I saw the truth of everything my first wife had taught me, this time from the other side of the looking-glass.

  • Who's on top in VF piece-- 'Tom Buchanan' Winkelvosses or 'lifelong elite' Zuckerberg?
    • There's a fabulous comic novel in this, which I'd like very much to write, except the shadow of Israel/Palestine falls over all of it, and it's a very dark shadow. But I still cherish many of these comments, particularly MRW's saga about the Stock Market. If we can get through this Israel/Palestine thing without a major religious war, that comic novel will someday be written.

      As per the phantom "never-had yet somehow-lost" fortune of the Winklevosses (or Winkelvii, as some would have it), it reminds me of what my mother always used to say about threadbare gentility and the Old Money/New Money thing. "We're old money, my dear, really very old--so old, in fact, that we lost it a long time ago."

      How's THAT for the moral high ground? No money-grubbing in that picture!

  • Leading progressive magazine gives Palestinian solidarity the Swastika stamp
    • This is an important discussion, and it occurs to me that there are few other venues where such exchanges could take place. If for only this reason, Mondoweiss is a blessing to all, one that is changing American political culture simply by existing.

      Anybody involved in Palestinian solidarity work will inevitably have a particular, unpleasant, recurring experience. Everybody know about this, although it occurs in different ways to different people. One publicly criticizes the Israeli state, and is accused of anti-Semitism. One then says, "No, I am criticizing American support for a military occupation, which is what the Palestinians are being subjected to in the OPT. I couldn't care less whether the oppressors are Sikhs or atheists or card-carrying vegetarians, what they're doing is wrong, and the US is their main paymaster and facilitator."

      To which one's interlocutor replies, "Yes, you say you are, and you may even believe you are; but in reality you are saying these things because you hate Jews. How do I know this? Because I feel it so strongly."

      Why do they do this? First, nobody wants to admit that their dream has gradually corroded, and has finally turned into a nightmare. It's just not something that people do easily. But there's another, more complicated reason. I think those people that insist that you are victimizing them really, on some level, want a kind of victim status, at least temporarily. They want victim status just long enough to fend off all doubts about the holiness of the Israeli state, and then they want to step out of that victim status and suddenly become protagonists. But you can't go in and out that easily. The result is a highly conflicted emotional orientation that eventually becomes a situational pathology.

      Victim status is a kind of long-lost Eden for people who were once oppressed, in which the victim is always right, and nobody ever has to make any changes or do anything. People will literally kill to maintain that victim status, which is why the victim-aggressor is such a dominant type in patriarchy. In his pure state, the victim-aggressor will feel like a victim even as he tortures or kills an innocent Palestinian civilian. Victim status carries with it the purest and highest form of impunity. There's no ambiguity, no moral choices...you're the victim, right? Don't you have the right to defend yourself??

      One reason people keep comparing Israel to Weimer has nothing to do with Nazism, which was based on secular pan-German nationalism and was quite unlike the religious nationalism upon which Zionist is predicated. People make references to Weimer because Germans in the 20s were so much like the Israeli Jews in the way they're so invested in their own victimhood--that, combined with a non-stop and only partially repressed sense of inferiority. Modern Israel is Weimer to a "T" in that respect.

      It's not hard to see where the mixture of victimology and religious nationalism came from. Sixteen hundred years of Christian anti-Semitism culminating in the Holocaust, then a mere four years after Auschwitz was liberated, the founding of a Jewish state. The displacement of the Palestinians made war inevitable--ten of them in sixty years--and that's another trauma. And then came the worst trauma of all, the one so many Jews don't want to see, which is that they were, and are, just as capable of evil as the Christians.

      These things were so traumatizing, and resulted in such emotional dislocations, that many Jews could only retreat back into victimhood. Victim status was familiar, it was something they'd often heard about, and it offered protection against the rigors of adult emotional responsibility. But that kind of victimology is dangerous. In adopting victim status as a form of Jewish identity--something encouraged by the Israeli state and its proxies--the Jewish leadership in America has bought into apocalyptic tropes that endanger the existence of both Israel and Palestine, and clearly seem capable of starting the kind of disastrous worldwide religious war the neo-cons have always wanted.

      So simply by engaging in Palestinian solidarity, one is in effect criticizing certain distortions that have entered into American Judaism itself, considered in the broadest sense both as a religion and a culture. Ironically, this has created a powerful opportunity for the new rabbinical councils being organized, especially the one associated with A Jewish Voice for Peace. And it provides the opportunity for a new Jewish culture based on universal human rights, such as one finds in Students for Justice in Palestine. Tactically, Palestinian solidarity can best be expressed as support for such organizations as JVP, and for this website. I'm afraid there's no easy way here, in the sense that there's no way to avoid the name-calling. Look at what Finkelstein went through, and Phil as well, not to mention Mearsheimer and Walt.

      They are our true culture heroes. We should consider ourselves lucky to follow in their footsteps. It's not easy, but what's the alternative?

  • 'Arab Sources' on Mondoweiss
    • Rarely have I felt such pleasure from reading a new writer, and rarely have I seen a world unknown to me, and yet so oddly recognizable.

      Your evocation of the German Jewish experience, and your sense of a magical Galilee that somehow welcomed it, was powerful. What a dream of justice, if Palestinians could somehow capture it, and make that world live again, in a new way that only Palestinians can imagine!

      So welcome to these electronic pages. You will find appreciative readers here, I think, avid to experience your thoughts, memories and hopes.

      In the meantime, the nervous, bullying tone of certain comments tell me all I need to know about Zionism. Kos also has that same tone when he justifies his crackdown, interestingly. All that suppressed guilt, edgy self-justification, and posturing as a tough guy. But it all comes back to the same thing, we need to talk about what the state of Israel is doing to all of us, to the Christians, to the organized Jewish community, to the US, and most of all to the Palestinians.

      And you Simone, you are a big part of it already. Welcome.

  • Non-Jewish influence (played important role in Allison Benedikt's awakening)
    • What I have today is a memory. Although I am nominally Christian, I was married for 20 years to a German-Jewish women, with whom I raised two children in the 1960s and 1970s. We sent them to a progressive school where Hebrew was taught, the idea being that they could get a modicum of Jewish education in a progressive milieu. They problem was the Hebrew teaching materials: they were filled with anti-Arab racism and propaganda. The reason my wife and I became aware of this was because our kids, and all their friends, were raising hell about the Hebrew instructional materials. Why, they wanted to to know, were they being given books with pictures of hook-nosed Arabs throwing bombs into the United Nations? Wasn't that racism?

      The people who ran this school gave us nothing but excuses. They also couldn't explain why they didn't teach the kids Yiddish, along with Hebrew. The literature in Yiddish seemed a lot more nuanced to me, and in most ways better than in Hebrew, and I felt like it had more to say about modern life. But the powers-that-were wouldn't cop to us, couldn't give us a straight answer. I began to feel complicit in something very bad. Sadly, we didn't take our kids out right away, even though my wife thought we should. I should have listened to her. Eventually, however, we took the kids out of the school.

      My wife had deep roots in the German Left, and she explained at length how dangerous religious nationalism was, and how it was going to hijack American Judaism. I didn't believe her then, but I do now. It was a tremendous gift, one that I still cherish, though she has been dead these many years. She even saw how Islam was going to be attacked by the West, and how conservative Christianity and Judaism would play into that. That, too, helped me, when in another time and place I became the father of a Muslim child. Then once again I saw the truth of everything my first wife had taught me, this time from the other side of the looking-glass.

      Christianity started to go downhill the moment it became an imperial religion (of the Roman Empire), and now that Judaism has been so deeply influenced by nationalism it seems to be going the same way. How can anybody recover anything good from them? Well, I saw liberation theology restoring Jesus to the poor in Latin America, and I see A Jewish Voice for Peace recovering the universal human rights of Judaism in their rabbinical council. So it's possible. And I need to keep reminding myself of that.

      The reforming movements are small, but the light never quite flickers out. Is the good they accomplish more powerful in the end than the torture, exploitation and war of the institutional structures? We don't know the end of that story yet, since we're all living it. These days I tend to wonder if anything can save the institutional forms of religion, but I can't tell is that's just me, or a more or less objective assessment.

      But what I remember today is the children in that Hebrew school where I sent my kids in the 1960s, and I remember how vociferously they complained about the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism in those Hebrew instructional materials. I wonder if that "progressive" school took that honesty away from some of them, or if most of them kept it. The important thing to me is the fact that the kids knew what they were seeing, they knew it was wrong, and they complained about it to anybody that would listen. That impulse, to spot evil and raise hell about it when you see it, even though everybody else tells you to shut up, is what gives me hope. And if you can write about it in interesting ways (or better yet, get people to laugh about it), so much the better.

  • Goldstone headed to Israel in July, hosted by Israeli minister criticized in Gaza report for advocating collective punishment
    • What appeared in cold print at the Post was a very small retraction of only one part of Goldstone’s report, but that was immediately spun by the Israeli and American media as a total recantation of everything Goldstone had written. Goldstone must have known it would play that way—the poor man is clearly counting on minor recantations to be enough to allow him to grovel back into the good graces of the hasbara-meisters.

      But partial retractions will not be enough for the lunatic religious nationalists of the Israeli political class. Goldstone will go to Israel in July, invited as a guest by the same shameless murderers who originally planned the Gaza massacre; what will follow seems clear. Soon he will be shaking hands with Netanyahu, and further retractions will follow, as the poor old duffer finally discovers, like the protagonist in Orwell’s 1984, that he really loves those who persecuted him. It is all very pathetic, and all very pathological.

      Here's what I have come to believe, watching the peculiar tribal power of Zionist persuasion. The Marxist-Leninist used expulsion, casting the dissenter into darkness. The fascist used trauma bonding based on shared violence. The Zionists use trauma bonding based on constant reiteration of the Holocaust by the Israeli state and their US proxies, combined with the trauma bonding of endless Middle Eastern wars, made inevitable by the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1947-1949.

      Israel/Palestine is not about politics. It is not about religion. It is about pathology. The political class of Israel is crazy, and the Christian West is crazy to give them impunity for their crimes, mainly because the Christian West has never come to terms with the Holocaust. Zionist persuasion is so powerful because truth perceived as a standard independent from the tribe is utterly done away with in the Zionist world.

      What is so spectacularly disturbing about this is that Jews, who were heroic standing up to Christian pressure to conform and convert for sixteen centuries, cannot stand up to Israel, the state supposedly founded to be a refuge for them. Zionism has turned out to be an almost diabolically self-defeating prison for the Jewish soul. The Nazis could burn the bones and skin of European Jews, but only Jews themselves could attack Jewish culture and religion from within.

      Yet we must remember that the proximate cause of this psychic violence was the Holocaust, which was merely an application of the industrial method to that familiar Christian institution, the pogrom. If Judaism is imploding today and becoming Judeo-Zionism, that is only because the teachings of Jesus morphed into the imperial Christianity of the West, with its exploitation, its torture and its patriarchal wars.

      To hell with Christianity, to hell with Judaism, what good are either one of them now, when we can see the evil, and even smell it, and there is nothing that can redeem it, or us too? We have to figure this fucking sickness out alone in a more of less secular language, and I for one despise the process. Poor old Judge Goldstone, like all of us the victim finally of his own bad judgment. I just hope they don't make him yoick up his soul, make him recant everything, come back for more on his deathbed, and then deny him a spot in a Jewish cemetery. I'm sorry to say it, but I think I see that coming.

  • Debate over Peto thesis reaches the halls of government as Israel/Palestine proxy battle rages on in Canada
    • Some of us have been watching the situation in Canada for some time, and it looks ominous, for a variety of reasons. But in the main the intent is clear. This is about the Conservatives trying to set themselves up in power over the long term, adopting some--but not all--of the neo-con/Republican strategy from the US. My sense is that there's some very serious influence-peddling negotiations going on. Harper wants money and influence from the Israel Lobby, and will get it, some of the big bucks coming from Israel and the US after being filtered through all the Lobby organizations.

      The Canada Lobby basically wants to do what's already been done in the US, but in a more stringent way. It definitely will try to make criticism of Israel illegal in certain venues, especially academia. (Thus the big stink about the thesis.) That's what the Inter-parliamentary Coalition to Combat anti-Semitism is all about. It's a hard-right Zionist group that wants to use the law to shut people up, and they're very serious about it. That's why the parliamentarian in Ontario talked about a single thesis at a local college--which isn't even any of his business--constituting some kind of horrible upsurge in anti-Semitism. ANY criticism of Israel's government will constitute an upsurge (or outbreak, or whatever) of anti-Semitism, and the nice Christian money-grubbers of the Conservative party will keep spieling it up like it was the next Kristalnacht.

      The real danger here is that there could be a backlash. Canada is basically a bit less crazy than the US, and its politics less chaotic. The constant insistence that criticisms of Israel are really anti-Semitism are just not going to fool a majority of Canadians over the long term. (Even the Conservatives say publicly that there's no anti-Semitism in Canada.) Sooner or later I'm afraid there might be a backlash against Jews, especially against the traditional Jewish organizations that no longer believe in any kind of social justice, but instead worship the Holy State. Canadians will eventually find the groveling victimology of the Lobby quite annoying, and that's when there could be a backlash.

      I hope that strong, outspoken Jewish organizations that oppose apartheid in Israel will arise in Canada, and get more media coverage, so that people can see that there is more than one kind of Judaism, and more than one kind of Jewish identity. The Jewish values of the traditional Canadian organizations have mainly turned to national-religious rants, and are an embarrassment to everybody concerned. Furthermore these organizations are extremely visible in promoting Islamophobia. Finally, they operate on an almost Leninist model, getting their instructions from above and all using the same talking points.

      How sad that so many previously independent Jewish groups have merged their identities into rightwing Zionism, operating together like the "respectable Leninist party" that the old US socialist Max Schachtman dreamed of organizing. (Anybody remember who Max Schachtman was? If so, you get a prize.) But the big difference, sadly, is that these new Leninists have billions from which to organize. Guess that's what Max meant by "respectable." The cash-out line forms at the left--I mean, right.

  • Crossing into Israel: 'two highly-charged narratives'
    • Above all, I admire the courage that drives this column, and this website. Look well at where we are being taken. We didn't just cross the border into Israel.

      There are two narratives here, two "highly charged" narratives of Palestinians and Jews. But in the website in general, and in today's column specifically, there are two other highly charged narratives, about a Jew and a Christian, and a husband and a wife. Both are learning about their place in history, and are going to learn some things about themselves. My only fear is that history is a hard school.

      I have a friend who was the quintessential nice Episcopalian boy, who married a German Jew fluent in both German and Yiddish. She educated him, he said. He ended up at a German university, trying to figure out what he had learned from her. He told me that the twenty years he had with his wife made him feel like he had "walked into a hall of mirrors."

      But that's where we all are, and we probably need to help each other figure it out. Lead on. We're in a world of highly-charged narratives now, and there's no getting away from it because we need to know, and maybe we don't have a lot of time.

      Lead on.

  • Handicapping Islamophobia
    • "We fell silent." Indeed.

      A fine, scary bit of Chekhovian writing. Not to make too much out of the conversation itself, I still felt the numbing pain, the way in which the complexity of the issue overwhelms everything. There will be other conversations like that. And in the background, always there, the trauma of the Holocaust--Christian guilt, Jewish trauma and incomprehension, what to do?

      The old duffer on the golf course, no doubt the financial officer of some floundering corporation, I see him as some practical low-church Episcopalian from an earlier world, would say, "Isn't the easiest way just to give the damn Israelis what they want?" But the Israelis want to torment the Jews of the Jews, who are the unlucky Palestinians. And that means war, this time worldwide religious war.

      I can't get over the immensity of the change of Jewish values. A hundred years ago Jews had thoroughly internalized democracy and socialism as encompassing their public values--the twin languages of the Left were German and Yiddish. Now, a hundred years later, so much of Jewish culture has been freighted down with the power-worship of the neo-cons, the EXACT opposite of the aspirations of the Left that the Jews of a hundred years ago felt in their bones.

      Does the average neo-con feel in his bones today the same intensity for ethnically cleansing Palestinians that a Jewish socialist a hundred years ago felt for universal human values? I don't think so. Something has been lost. But it can be gotten back. No progressive movement in history is completely lost.

      As for the Christians, the Realist approach is best, to say in effect, "Okay, put your precious Christian guilt on the shelf for a moment, let's just try to forget about it for a time, and together we can look at what's best for everyone. And really, what are America's interests in the Middle East at this time?"

      If Christians really want to find out where the Holocaust came from, they need only look at their own theology and practices. They'd find out plenty if they looked at these things critically. But they won't, because it's too painful. So the ability of Christianity to redeem anything in their lives grows weaker by the day. Pity the old duffer, with his sad freight of unredeemed adulteries and petty thefts...

      Finkelstein has broken the code: Judaism and Christianity can only redeem themselves by understanding the importance of Palestinian human rights--THAT'S the only way out of the hall of mirrors in which the two faiths find themselves. That's the key, friends--the Palestinian in the mirror.

      And that means confronting Islamophobia, seeing as human the "cruel Turk" who has been hiding under the bed all these centuries right next to the Jew, the two of them waiting to jump out and scare the Apocalypse out of all good Christians--

  • 'ADL' statement rationalizing bigotry draws wide scorn
    • When Krugman writes, "Bad for the Jews," he's being deliberately self-deprecating. He's playing off the tribalism inherent in that phrase to make the point that tribalism doesn't work any more. It made sense in the past to ask, "If it good for the Jews?" Now, when Jews have some power, and we live in an interconnected world, that's not enough. Human rights are indivisible.

      Anyway, economics is a dismal gig, so I give Krugman that one.

      As for Foxman, this is a big turning point, in which it is completely clear that he speaks for the Jabotinksy/Likudnik/neo-con/Lobby axis, and not even remotely for any kind of civil or human rights, much less religious liberty. And it WILL give cover to the city to go soft on the Cordoba Initiative, which is what it is designed to do, I believe. I would be very surprised is there wasn't communication between Foxman and the Mayor's office. A bunch of the old boys made a deal, and from now on it's going to be hard sledding for Cordoba House.

      Finally, being part of a victimized group DOES give you the right to be irrational. But not to make policy. If acts of evil gives the victim of that evil an illegitimate entitlement, the aggression of the victim is simply an extension of the original evil by other means.

      If Cordoba House goes down, it will mean total victory for the terrorists who perpetuated the massacre of 9/11.

  • One-state debate explodes myth about the Zionist left
    • Probably there's something here I'm not seeing. Perhaps someone can explain...

      What will keep this Greater Israel from giving most Palestinians the old heave-ho? The preferred method at present for getting rid of any Palestinians whose ideas they don’t like is for the Israelis to arrest them, torture them, and put them under administrative detention. With Greater Israel they’d just have to escort them to the border and kick them out. Isn’t there an extreme likelihood that the slow ethnic cleansing of today will become the massive ethnic cleansing of tomorrow?

      Most ideas about a single state are predicated on some goodwill among the Israelis. The idea seems to be that at the last moment the old social-democratic instincts will kick in and they’ll blink, afraid of how they’d look if they kicked everybody out, and start negotiating citizenship. This all ignores the reality of evil. Evil is aggression plus deceit, and the Israeli political class is awash in it. Evil in the form of pure power-worship is also the central dynamic in neo-conservatism, which the institutional leaders of the organized Jewish community in the US seem to have adopted lately, I’m sorry to say.

      So what makes anybody think that the Israelis aren’t going to ethnically cleanse the vast majority of Palestinians, and kill those that resist? In fact there is a very good possibility of a genocide, to wit:

      1. The Israelis start massive ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the West Bank.
      2. In Egypt and one or two other Arabic-speaking countries, the Muslim Brotherhood can no longer sit by, and try for a coup.
      3. Pushed by events, militant governments arise is one or two Arab countries. They undertake systematic military intervention, nominally covert but discernible, to stop the ethnic cleansing of their Palestinian brothers. They start to have some success.
      4. The Israeli political class at last get to use their nuclear weapons. They bomb the Arab countries’ capitals.
      5. Six million Arabs die, at last making the Zionists what they’ve always wanted to be, which is honorary German Christians.

      Okay, I know this sounds a little bleak and black, and probably we’ll be stuck with what amounts to a one-state struggle anyway simply because there’ll be no place left to put a Palestinian state even if anybody wanted one. But I’m just saying, evil exists, and systemic evil is addictive. The Israelis will probably ethnically cleanse before they allow a one-state solution to become a possibility. Let’s prepare for that. We’re in a struggle against a very sophisticated form of systemic evil, driven deep into the Israeli soul by the trauma of the Holocaust. They will kill millions before they give up the idea of a demographic majority.

      God, what a mess. No wonder Lenny Bruce wanted to check out.

  • Getting to one state
    • What will keep this Greater Israel from giving most Palestinians the old heave-ho? The preferred method at present for getting rid of any Palestinians whose ideas they don't like is for the Israelis to arrest them, torture them, and put them under administrative detention. With Greater Israel they'd just have to escort them to the border and kick them out. Isn't there an extreme likelihood that the slow ethnic cleansing of today will become the massive ethnic cleansing of tomorrow?

      Most ideas about a single state are predicated on some goodwill among the Israelis. The idea seems to be that at the last moment the old social-democratic instincts will kick in and they'll blink, afraid of how they'd look if they kicked everybody out, and start negotiating citizenship. This all ignores the reality of evil. Evil is aggression plus deceit, and the Israeli political class is awash in it. Evil in the form of pure power-worship is also the central dynamic in neo-conservatism, which the institutional leaders of the organized Jewish community in the US seem to have adopted lately, I'm sorry to say.

      So what makes anybody think that the Israelis aren't going to ethnically cleanse the vast majority of Palestinians, and kill those that resist? In fact there is a very good possibility of a genocide, to wit:

      1. The Israelis start massive ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the West Bank.
      2. In Egypt and one or two other Arabic-speaking countries, the Muslim Brotherhood can no longer sit by, and try for a coup.
      3. Pushed by events, militant governments arise is one or two Arab countries. They undertake systematic military intervention, nominally covert but discernible, to stop the ethnic cleansing of their Palestinian brothers. They start to have some success.
      4. The Israeli political class at last get to use their nuclear weapons. They bomb the Arab countries' capitals.
      5. Six million Arabs die, at last making the Zionists what they've always wanted to be, which is honorary German Christians.

      Okay, I know this sounds a little bleak and black, and probably we'll be stuck with what amounts to a one-state struggle anyway simply because there'll be no place left to put a Palestinian state even if anybody wanted one. But I'm just saying, evil exists, and systemic evil is addictive. The Israelis will probably ethnically cleanse before they allow a one-state solution to become a possibility. Let's prepare for that. We're in a struggle against a very sophisticated form of systemic evil, driven deep into the Israeli soul by the trauma of the Holocaust. They will kill millions before they give up the idea of a demographic majority.

      God, what a mess. No wonder Lenny Bruce wanted to check out.

  • Presbyterians insist on 'breaking down the walls' in Israel/Palestine despite pressure from the Jewish community
    • You could write a few libraries of books on this subject of Christians and Jews, but most commentators here are painfully aware that the PC couldn't come down on the side of BDS. Therefore, this report on the PC doesn't mean a lot, in terms of building the movement. On the other hand, Christians are struggling with the emotional overload of centuries of church aggression, most of it against Jews, and a fair amount of it against Muslims. For centuries Christianity taught hate of Jews, Muslims, women and each other, and a lot of us are trying to figure out what the hell is left that we can believe in.

      Today's mainstream Protestant churches are Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian and Lutheran. They are liberal theologically and progressive politically, but small in numbers. Evangelicals, who are usually Baptists or non-denominational, are by far the majority of Christians today in the US, consisting of about 75 to 80 percent of all American Christians. The evangelicals are mainly conservative, homophobic, and overwhelmingly vote Republican. In the post-Nazi holocaust 1950s, they basically made a deal with Jewish leaders that they could continue teaching some fundamentally anti-Semitic ideas--i.e., all Jews go to hell-- and if they automatically supported Israel, the Jewish leaders wouldn't hassle them.

      This deal continued through the creation of the Religious Right, during which the conservative Christian evangelicals made a strong pitch to become a state religion. Leaders such as Abraham Foxman didn't say squat, for the reason given above: the Religious Right automatically supported Israel. Together the evangelicals and the Jewish leaders came up with the idiotic phrase "Judeo-Christian" to describe their common values. What this meant, stripped of all rhetoric, is that evangelicals can say that Jews go to hell, they can try to make conservative Christianity into a state religion, they can generalize publicly about Jews in the ACLU, Hollywood, or wherever, and A. Foxman will say nothing as long as long as the conservative evangelicals keep cheering for the IDF every time it kills an unarmed civilian.

      Both liberal Protestants and conservative evangelicals are basically terrified of the organized Jewish community, however, for reason which overlap. The first two are simple: The Nazi holocaust (guilt), protecting their jobs (fear). But they also fear the Jewish organizations because of philo-semitism, which comes in two flavors. The first kind of philo-Semitism is mainly evangelical, and means that conservative Protestants like to support Jews in everything they do, because they believe Jews in Israel are going to start a religious conflict that will usher in the Millennium, after an apocalyptic war. (What they don't mention is that they believe that God will kill off all the Jews that don't convert to Christianity, thereby finishing the job that Hitler started.)

      The second kind of philo-Semitism is harder to describe, because it's an emotional orientation that Christians are not always completely conscious of. This second kind of philo-Semitism is a sense that many liberal Christians have that they can't acknowledge--or don't have the right to acknowledge--that Jews are capable of evil. I mean, these same very nice liberal Christians have just managed to get their heads around the idea that institutional Christianity was a violent, brutal hate organization for most of its existence, and that Christian anti-Semitism led up to and partly caused the Holocaust; that makes institutional Christians the bad guys, and since Jews were the victims, that must mean that they must be the good guys. (I mean, victims are always the good guys, are they not?--that's why Zionists always try to posture themselves as victims, right?) Now, suddenly, a new form of systemic evil enters the world, and it arises directly from the Jewish state, Israel. Institutional Jews are just as capable of evil as institutional Christians are! Whoa!

      The implication is that evil predominates in both religions, and in the world. I personally believe that's true, and will continue to be true until people learn how to deconstruct the effects of systemic evil. But it's really hard for Christian liberals to get their heads around it, especially since they don't believe in the redemptive effects of Jesus' crucifixion anymore, as Christians of prior centuries did.

      So, a lot of Christians just have trouble processing the whole thing.
      What they don't realize is that philo-Semitism is the last stage of Christian anti-Semitism. Christian anti-Semitism always saw "the Jews" as a collective that had meaning ONLY to the extent that Christians gave them a meaning. It took a long time for Christians to admit that Jews had the right to determine their own self-interests, and work on behalf of those interests--that Jews had the right and the duty to define their own meaning in the world, and work for their own projects. But once you acknowledge that much, you have to acknowledge that Jews, having freedom of choice, can also make mistakes.

      What we have is a world, in other words, in which SOME Jews, under the duress of terrible events, made the wrong decisions. They then created a form of systemic evil that is getting worse, and will never get better until a powerful movement forces change to happen. But it is simply very hard for many Christians to acknowledge that, because they're still in the midst of dealing with the fact that their own religion was evil for so long. They don't want to believe that the organized Jewish community could promote social entities that are also forms of systemic evil, and use tactics that are sometimes despicable.

      One big part of the answer lays with those Jews who have the courage to re-make Judaism for the 21st century, based on the thirst for universal justice, and renouncing the religious nationalism of Zionism. They are architects of something profound, in my opinion, although many of them do not see that yet. As for Christians, I see no such dramatic turn-around for us. We are still floundering, but if Christianity can stage a come-back that intelligent people can take seriously, I believe it may involve admitting that a secular theory for fighting systemic evil is more important than the old theological language.

      In the BDS movement, we are going to be called anti-Semites, prot0-Nazis, crypto-Communists, hydra-headed monsters, and so forth. But so what? People all over the world are being tortured, killed and ethnically cleansed for their belief in universal human rights. We have it easy in the US. It is a privilege to be part of this movement. Good people everywhere are trying to stop the permanent religious war that AIPAC, the ADL, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Hagee and the neo-con foundations are all working for.

  • Israel's 'periphery doctrine' of non-Arab friends is in tatters
    • Although the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was not an official project of the Turkish government, the willingness to criticize Israel’s Gaza policy has been a defining political initiative of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. His party, the AKP, is heir to several important Islamist groupings, and has been remarkably successful in defining itself as a politically-astute, moderate Islamist party. Erdogan is strong on human rights, has more female representation in Parliament than any other party, and has brought the Kurdish parties into parliament. But it is his courageous and unprecedented defiance of Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza that has won him the most respect—in Turkey, in other Muslim-majority countries, and among human rights activists in the West.

      Besides bringing Kurdish parties into the parliament, Erdogan has restored the use of the Kurdish language in many venues (education, for example) where it was banned before. There are two points to be made here. One, that Erdogan has been able to do much that the secular governments were not able to do in resolving the Kurdish dilemma. Secondly, this illustrates that moderate Islamist parties can play a very important and positive role in Muslim-majority countries. Of course, the American media will not want to make any such distinctions, and the Lobby and the neo-cons will cooperate in trying to keep it hidden from most Americans.

      Most dangerous is the probability that various Zionists initiatives will try to exacerbate the Kurdish problem solely to make Erdogan look bad.
      I think the Lobby will have difficulty in getting the US national security elites to go along with this, however--the self-destructive and generally dangerous attitudes of the Israeli political class have become clear to them, even though US politicians can't talk about it openly.

  • 'Terrorism' is the primary bulwark through which Zionism defends itself from scrutiny
    • Noam Chomsky also said that the word 'Terrorism' had been compromised, so it couldn't be used to any good effect. I never could agree with that. Terrorism is when deadly force against civilians is used to achieve a political goal. The kicker, however, is that states use terrorism more than individuals, movements and organizations. The biggest offender is usually Israel, because of its policy of collective punishment. The massacre of Gaza was a classic example, the cold-blooded murder of civilians, including around four hundred children, to achieve a political goal.

      The most effective way to express this is simply to refer to state terrorism every time the issue of pan-Islamic, religiously-motivated or individual terrorism comes up. And the Christian West needs to understand that state terrorism has always been the way that empire sought to conquer or exploit the developing world. Still, the idea and the word 'terrorism' still have validity. Terrorism and state terrorism are both despicable precisely because they target civilians, including children. The four treaties of the Geneva conventions--including the 1949 Geneva convention against barbarity in war--generally define war crimes with that premise in mind. We just need to be much more aggressive in calling state terrorism by its proper name.

  • Helen Thomas (and the long, anticolonial walk to freedom)
    • I haven't been able to sleep for several days now, thinking about the Helen Thomas thing--the incredible cowardice of it all, the piling on, but most of all how everybody turned on her. The Hearst newspapers she wrote for took the opportunity to stick in their tiny knife, she won't be allowed to come to the White House anymore, the press secretary of the President denounced her, and she was forced to retire and "apologize" publicly to the whomever she offended.

      So what did she say? She said something crazy, something off the cuff, something in anger, like we all do at times. But why is the Israel Lobby, and increasingly institutional Jewish organizations in the US, the one group that everybody has to apologize to, why do they get to have veto power over everything having to do with the Middle East? It's getting absolutely crazy out there. It can happen to any of us, too: somebody does a little ambush journalism, somebody plays the gotcha card just right, and we say something that isn't 100% politically correct according to the Lobby, and suddenly nobody will print our stuff, we get pilloried and denounced by everybody from the President on down, and people keep writing for weeks about how terrible we are. That's the game plan. What a victory for the cultural vigilantes of the apartheid Lobby.

      Never mind that the guy who framed Thomas is a racist who has said things every day that are ten times worse that anything she said. All that matters is that the Lobby gives the command, and all those gutless Christians out there will rush to do whatever the representatives of the Holy State demand. Yes, I'm a Christian and I can criticize them if I want to, the Lobby only works because of the great sheep-like masses of Christians in government, media and academia who go along with the Lobby because they are gutless careerists. It's true, damn it, and right now I'm pissed off at them.

      I've never seen hypocrisy like this before. And the brutality...the Lobby's response to the flotilla is so lacking in remorse and coherence that it resembles the ramblings of a sociopath. It's pathetic and frightening. These people are like robots. It's the Zionist version of invasion of the body snatchers...

      But we have to change our game too. No more resignations when the Lobby backs you into a corner...make them fire you, make them drag you out of your office! No more apologies to these bastards...on the contrary, go on the offensive. Demand that Dershowitz and Foxman apologize for their lies and the way they have degraded public discourse in the US. We've been playing that "decent citizen" thing for too long, afraid to embarrass the organizations we work with. No more damn apologies to the Lobby!

      What is embarrassing is that right-wing Zionist Jews have veto power over American foreign policy, and right-wing evangelical Christians have veto power over domestic affairs. What a pathetic situation! I want justice in Israel/Palestine not just for the Middle East, but also because I long for a post-Zionist America. I'm sick and tired of free speech being sold off to phony politicians who value the influence and money that AIPAC brings more than the American birthright of free speech and association!

      In the meantime, let's can all the pious nonsense and address the real issue: who's going to carry Helen Thomas' stuff on the internet? Yes, she's got her own website, but somebody or something else needs to step up. We now know that she's got a head of steam where passion about Israel/Palestine is concerned...who's going to support the woman and carry her occasional columns from now on??? Adam? Phil?

  • Simon Wiesenthal Center launches PR campaign to whitewash Jerusalem desecration
    • In the print media the Simon Wiesenthal Center has recently presented evidence (in the form of a story from the Palestine Post of 1945) that the Supreme Muslim Council of Jerusalem was planning a business center on the site of the Mamilla Cemetary in 1945. The Palestine Post (precursor to the Jerusalem Post) was violently Labor-Zionist in its politics, and by 1945 was not the best source for anything going on within the Palestinian community, nor the best advocate for its interests. Furthermore, the remnants of Muslim leadership at that time were only those approved by the British, who were guaranteed not to criticize the Brits nor interfere with their imperial interests.

      Finally, the nominal head of the Muslim Council at that time was the notorious Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, who although out of the country in 1945 was still technically the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem; and who, besides being one of the most loathsome anti-Semites of the 20th century, was also an enthusiastic propagandist for Hitler and the Nazis. (Besides making untold numbers of propaganda broadcasts for Hitler, Al-Husaybi was also active in recruiting Bosnian Muslims to the Waffen SS, and was directly responsible for mass murders of Serbian Christians in the Balkans.) Furthermore, historical accounts suggest that leadership groups in Jerusalem at that time were rife with cronyism, corruption, and the infighting of various Jerusalem families.

      Although it is somewhat dangerous to generalize, it might be said that Al-Husayni and the so-called Jerusalem Muslim Council in 1945 kept in place by the Brits represented a snapshot of exactly what a great many secular Arab nationalists (not to mention the later Islamic Revival throughout Muslim-majority countries) aimed to get rid of—not merely cronyism, greed and class oppression but also, in the case of Al-Husaybi, European-style fascism and anti-Semitism. The fact that neither Arab nationalism nor the Islamic Revival was entirely successful in doing so does not change the fact that Al-Husayni and the Muslim Council of 1945 represented those things to which the best Arab thinkers were irreconcilably opposed. It was for precisely this reason that the Palestinian Liberation Organization was careful to sideline al-Husayni and to downplay his influence in the years before his death in 1974.

      In any case, neither al-Husayni nor the Muslim Council of 1945 are guides to important cultural and political decisions in Israel/Palestine of 2010, for the Palestinian community today is entirely different than it was in 1945. Sadly, that is difficult for Rabbi Hier and the Simon Wiesenthal Center to accept. For them, there is simply “the Palestinians,” the eternal enemy of the Jews, much as Christians used to refer to a mysterious entity known as “the Jews” who were supposedly the eternal enemy of Christendom.

      The Simon Wiesenthal Center is not a human rights organization, but an extreme rightwing group tinged by neo-fascism and with some of the characteristics of a hate group. See more exciting details about the tactics of the Simon Wiesenthal Center see the full investigative report by this writer to appear soon on a website near you.

  • E tu Yale: conference will be led by prof who claims Goldstone seeks 'elimination' of Israel
    • I have to comment on the similarity to Marxist-Leninist discipline here. Under the Communist system of democratic centralism for organizations operating in the west (this could apply to Trotskyite groups as well), once the Central Committee had decided on a line (or position) on any issue, the rank and file had to follow it. They were supposed to ignore evidence to the contrary, and to lie about it to non-Communists. In other words, they were supposed to practice a rigid form of deception and self-deception to justify the party line. The payoff was the forced (but powerful) intimacy of the group, and the sense of enormous power and authenticity in being part of the new world that the vanguard party was supposedly creating.

      The forced intimacy that this process created, and the sense of participating in the changing of the world, was based almost entirely on aggression, because of the constant necessity to subject oneself to party discipline, and to discipline comrades who threatened to drift out of the party's orbit.

      Zionists are creating a similar structure in academia, media, the professions and many other areas. The dynamics are the same, except that almost all parties to their disputes have convinced themselves that their way is the only possible method for the survival of the Jewish people. The Holocaust is constantly invoked, so the psychological dynamic is, "You had better take the right line, or you will bring on the next Holocaust."

      The constant pontifications of these academic Zionists sounds a lot like Communists from the Popular Front era, except that some of the Communists actually did some good in terms of union organizing, anti-racist work, and so forth, and a lot of them dropped out when they wised up to the emotional manipulation of democratic centralism. For the Zionists, on the other hand, there is no good to be accomplished here in America, because everything revolves around a fantasy version of Israel, which of necessity has to either remain a long ways away or involve rationalizing things that are deeply immoral. And it's hard to drop out, because they seek to establish the idea that Israel and Judaism are the same thing, and how can you betray your own people? Nonetheless, the Zionists ARE losing people because it is stupid to worship a state, any state, and it is occurring to many people that it is insane to believe in the doctrines of 1948 in the world of 2010.

  • Columbia U. law dean chairs all-day anti-Goldstone hoedown
    • Lawfare is apparently a neo-con concept that has been discussed in the Federalist society, whether publicly or not I don't know. The Simon Wiesenthal Center is deeply involved in promoting the concept, and recently claimed to have facilitated a conference in Israel about it--naturally, the SWC believes that the Goldstone report, which after all is simply a fact-finding report, is the prime current example of lawfare. I believe that the Lawfare Profect is probably getting funding from the same sources as the Wiesenthal Center--from very rich, stupid, rightwing people who believe that Israel and Judaism are the same thing and that anybody who criticizes Israel is an anti-Semite.

      What it boils down to is that some progressive forces in the world are trying to fashion a new international law, partly through precedent invoked by the World Court, and partly through judgments from that body. At the same time Israel is responsible for the longest and worst military occupation in the world, so the arrogant and right-wing governments of Israel are taking some heat. The Holy Staters (powerful people that believe that they cannot allow criticism of Israel) naturally claim, and probably believe, that all this is terribly unfair--"lawfare," as they would have it--and represent themselves as victims of a conspiracy. In reality, it is simply another way to attack people for talking about the suffering of Palestinians under apartheid.

      The concept of a body of international law is one of the best outcomes of the rise of human rights organizations since the Second World War. The idea behind it is that all people everywhere have human rights that are inalienable, and which they receive at birth. Of course Israel and the Israel Lobby are attacking the human rights organizations for exactly that reason, because the human rights organizations value the rights of Israeli Jews and Palestinians equally.

      The idea that there is are over-arching values that go beyond profit and power was also the orientation of what was in the past called public-interest law in the US, the best modern use of which Ralph Nadar pioneered. I may have this wrong, but is seems like the best of international law often operates in much the same way, in trying to establish the same standards of fairness and human rights for all people.
      The "lawfare" people are simply bust-out charlatans who are promoting their own neo-fascist brand of Zionism, and doing it dishonestly. But they are also doing profound harm to the organized Jewish community in the US, because they are promoting the idea of conspiracies rather than discussing what is really going on--and when the organized Jewish community is obsessed with conspiracy, it harms all public life in the US

  • Chomsky/Abunimah (the left and Zionism)
    • When I was young I got involved in union politics, and was starting to get interested in leftwing ideas. I was hanging out with old lefties, including some people in the ULWU, the Longshoreman, local 4 of the Typographical Union, and so forth. There was still a tradition of hard-drinking trade-unionism in San Francisco, there were a lot of ex-CP people there, and the old-time lefties had a million good stories. A lot of them were writers, friendly to the arts--they could show you the actual place where Archer, Bogie's partner in the Maltese Falcon, bit the dust, that sort of romatic, left-wing San Francisco thing. I was just getting interested in writing, so the whole thing fit together nicely.

      I heard about Chomsky, and the people I knew, the left-wing ones and also the liberal ones, told me that Chomsky had a form of mental illness--that he hated himself because he was Jewish. I mean, it wasn't completely impossible, or so I thought at the time. I knew that the writer Nathanial West, whom I greatly admired, had been ashamed of being Jewish, and on college (Brown University) had even styled himself as some kind of fantastic Prussian aristocrat, Erich von Stroheim-style monacle and all. And I knew a Jewish family that had converted to Episcopalianism en masse, and were ashamed of their grandmother (the nicest person in the whole damn family) because she spoke Yiddish. Anyway, it wasn't completely crazy, what they were telling me, so I believed it.

      And it stuck with me, the idea that I didn't have to take Chomsky's ideas seriously because he was a self-hating Jew, because he had this mental illness. Later I interviewed him a couple of times when I was doing journalism, and found him to be a great guy, and I also became aware that the Muslim people I knew (I was married to a Muslim woman at that time) greatly admired him. So slowly I began to doubt what I'd heard before, and I allowed myself to read him without any pre-conceived notions. I discovered what a giant he was. He was the great prophetic intellectual of the second part of the 20th century in America, and I'd never bothered to read him for the longest time because of the lies and defamation that I'd heard when I was young, lies I had believed.

      When I think about that, it occurs again to me what a monumental impact Zionism has had on America, that the cultural vigilantes of religious nationalism could make up stories like that, and other people like me could believe them for so long. It makes me angry and disturbed, mainly at myself but also at the situation.

      A post-Zionist America can hopefully begin to shed this horrible mental habit of lying to oneself, and believing lies because it is easier to do than to look for the truth.

  • I'm off to Egypt
    • Being within a Jewish perspective is where Phil wants to be, and it makes sense. His voice is needed. Is there any doubt about Israeli apartheid corrupting Judaism? The anti-Semites killed thousands of Jews, hundreds of thousands, and finally when they used the modern industrial method they killed millions. But they killed the body. What the Israel Lobby does, and the political class of Israel, kills Judaism's soul, and the killing is being done by Jews themselves.

      It's the great tragedy of our time, and people can't see it happening, because of the pathology associated with unresolved trauma. Hurt by anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, some Jews survive emotionally by internalizing the aggression that terrifies them, and once it is inside them they can hardly wait to discharge that same aggression on victims of their own. They have been trauma-bonded to the aggression of the anti-Semites, and it is around the internalized aggression of the Nazis that they create their personalities, their professional careers and their world-view. How beyond irony it is, that Bibi is driven to bully unarmed people in the territories by the internalized aggression of anti-Semites...

      For such people, Hitler truly won the war.

      One hundred years ago, Judaism was a universal religion and Jewishness a universal culture, both of which interpreted God as operating in history to help those people who loved justice, and sought to create it.

      Now fast-forward to today's highly conflicted Judaism:

      Religious nationalism, the illness that drives uncritical support for Israel, would have Jews worship the state of Israel, with its powerful army, its wonderful air force, its marvelous nuclear weapons, its torture chambers and its reported 8,000 innocent political prisoners. And its slow ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

      That is the worship of evil. (Evil we may define as aggression in the form of governmental injustice, and deceit in the constant efforts to rationalize it.)

      At last a very powerful group of Jews have succeeded in internalizing the very worst and most medieval characteristics of institutional Christianity. No wonder the worst of the US evangelicals adore them...Under the surface they are both about the same thing--brutality against the weak, the worship of power and profit, and permanent war against the Arabic-speaking and Muslim worlds.

  • 'Concord Monitor' publishes letter attacking 'monstrous' Jewish displays in the era of Madoff and Occupation
    • I suppose it might be possible to be offended by a giant menorah for aesthetic reasons, although one would then have to ask why we're not similarly grossed out by giant pagan/Christmas trees to the same extent. (I say this because for some reason I find over-sized, towering menorahs in questionable taste, for what reason I'm not exactly sure. Maybe I feel that Jews are internalizing too much holiday-oriented bad taste from us Christians, thereby afflicting me with gentile guilt.)

      But no, this writer isn't about aesthetics. He/she mentions the occupation, then veers into an unmistakable anti-Semitic (or at the very least Judeo-phobic) rant, trying to connect Madoff with Israeli oppression of Palestinians. Actually, Madoff's hustle was what is called an affinity scam, the successful execution of which trades on trust from people in one's own group...most of the victims were Jews.

      A couple of things are worth mentioning here. One is that the anti-Semites are going to use guilt by association to make anti-Jewish points by pretending that all Jews support Israeli oppression of Palestinians. (Yes, I know many Jews do, but far from all--there is no "they," only many different stories.) Secondly, we need to keep making the point that criticism of Israel is not the same thing as anti-Semitism. Looking through the letters that appeared in the two days after the letter with the anti-Semitic, monster-menorah-on-the-statehouse-lawn rant, it appears that nobody followed up with a letter dealing with the difference between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel.

      In fact, we should not hesitate to point out that progressive Jews are the strongest critics of Israel when they think its government is wrong, and that the movement for Palestinian human rights is one of the very few in which Jews, Muslims and Christians work together for social justice.

      For a moment I thought that perhaps it would be worthwhile trying to explain to the original letter-writer the difference between religious bigotry (guilt by association) and criticizing Israel. But then I ran across some editorial copy by one of the Monitor editors saying that this writer often sends in letters against Blacks, Jews, gays and other minorities, so he/she must, sadly, be considered a lost cause.

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