Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 4055 (since 2010-05-31 18:07:51)


American university faculty member born in Poland.

Showing comments 4055 - 4001

  • US only country to oppose UN holding Israel accountable for war crimes, yet again
    • "Sadly, with members like China, Russia, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Venezuela and Qatar,"

      can be rephrased "with members like France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands and United Kingdom."

      But not all is gloom and doom! India joined the ranks of wanna-be theocracies. Protection of (sacred) cows is much improved, with the border troops instructed to vigilantly enforce the ban of tradition informal border trade with Bangladesh were many aged cows were herded to provide material for slaughterhouses and tanneries. Such effort is not always appreciated, apparently two soldiers were killed by the smugglers while dozens were injured by the animals. As we know from our own politics, sacred cows are habitual ingrates.

  • A racist country with too much influence over US -- Israel's new image among Democrats
    • Mooser, this guy is too incoherent even to be a troll. Most people who comment on such issues would not that the size of the "leftist area" does not matter much, it is still one citizen, one vote, not one deer one vote, or 20 woodchuck one vote.

    • Only 53% could locate Missisipi, and 52% could locate India. Mind you, Israel is even smaller than Missisipi, and waaaaay smaller than India.

      By the way, sad news. One of the most steadfast friends of Israel, Micronesia, lost soccer game to Fiji, which is bad enough, but they manage to get largest loss in the history of international soccer games, 38 to 0. And this is because previously they lost 30 to 0 to Tahiti, and Fiji was afraid that the number of goals may decide which team will advance. I think IDF should dispatch planes providing disaster relief.

    • I think that prospects of "Israelis wising up" are dim in the next few years. As Netanyahu correctly observed, Israel is the only place where Jews can be proud. Settlement freezes, and even negotiations were from time to time you have to meet Fakestinians and Hofjuden are all blows to pride and dignity. So here comes a handsome pair of "wiser leaders", Hertzog and Livni, and they solemnly promise to do exactly same thing, but more politely and more effectively (we will charm Americans soooo much that they will cheerfully cooperate in whacking Iran really well), this whole thing made no sense. So instead of Foreign Ministry you get Ministry in Charge of Insulting the Furriners or Explaining the Infidels the Error of Their Ways.

    • As ulterior motives of Frank Luntz are concerned, I guess GOP would like to have a lock on Jewish votes and Jewish political donations. However, they guy seems a professional, and I do not think that the results are manipulated.

      The swing from bipartisan support to GOP support is not a good news for Israeli elite. GOP is a reactionary party in the most literal sense: they organize their message in the form of wedge issues which constitute reaction to change. Almost every one of those issues waned in popularity, but this is not stopping GOP, they simply go for another one. Several election cycle ago, opposition to gay marriage was the centerpiece of GOP campaigns, and so was the readiness to apply any torture necessary to the "worst of the worst". To be more precise, the latter issue had nice contours, as it is often the case with wedge issues. As Democrats tended to say things against water boarding, GOP did not defend the practices like hanging the suspect on his hands for days and kicking until the poor chap expires, NOBODY talked about that, but they stoutly objected to abandoning "almost benign" water boarding. Fast forward, and nobody really urges to renew and expand torture programs, and opposition to gay marriage is moved to sotto voce.

      Support of Israel, be it nice or naughty reaches the popularity of fan-fen therapy for excessive weight. (OMG! it was fen-phen therapy, so popular and now hard to remember). I recall when GOP nominee, certain Mitt Romney, promised to base his Middle East policies on the advise obtained in phone calls to Israeli Prime Minister, thus nearly avoiding the pressure to elucidate details. But he was most clear on his wish to bomb Iran. Needless to say, the results where underwhelming. Apparently, too many independent voters preferred a president who has his own opinions too, and who is not chomping at the bit to spend another trillion dollars on another war.

      To have a better idea about the results of the next Presidential vote, I would commission a poll with that question: do you prefer bumbling foreign policy, or a scary one?


      I just recalled a not-so-succesful GOP wedge issue. A candidate for governor of California offered this choice: do you prefer progress and investments that provide jobs and increase the value of your real estate, or would you cut it down to the benefit of some weird creatures? As the example of the latter, he chose kangaroo rats. He lost. And I do not see campaigns against kangaroo rats anymore.

  • Oren's demands make Israel's liberal apologists squirm
    • I am not sure about this one, Phil: Writing in the Jewish Press, this rightwing Israeli also loves Oren. The title explains it well: "Michael Oren is Tired of American Jews-and So Am I". But check this: About the Author: Vic Rosenthal created to provide a forum for publishing and discussing issues about Israel and the Mideast conflict, especially where there is a local connection. Rosenthal believes that America’s interests are best served by supporting the democratic state of Israel, the front line in the struggle between Western civilization and radical Islam.

      By his own admission, Vic Rosenthal is self-hating Jewish-American. Ouroboros comes to mind. link to

  • Bulldozers poised outside Susiya, right in time for July 4th congressional break
    • I guess that with Congress in session, AIPAC would feel obliged to orchestrate a resolution of both houses supporting Israel as it is unjustly maligned, but right now it is a bother.

  • Oren's memoir reveals Israel's elite is hyper-sensitive to U.S. criticism
    • Hostage,

      as your citations show, if you apply cladistic approach to ideologies, contemporary Zionism is not much inspired by Nazism, instead, both were inspired by 19th-century colonialists and racist ideologies. And so does GOP. And yeah, colonialism is a more benign label than Nazi, but not THAT benign. In the struggle between civilized Germans and savage Herero, should we stand with the Germans?

    • I do not think so. Nazi analogies evoke Goodwin law, and indeed, the history is much richer than that. After terrible XVII century, Europeans started to think about better ways than mass slaughter, largely justified by religion, and that lead to Enlightenment. But colonialism, accompanied with mass slaughter, slave trade etc. became very profitable and created demand for intellectual justifications, and that included racism. The first genocide of XX century (to my limited knowledge) affected Hereros who stood in the path of progress in German South West Africa (today, Namibia). But exploits of Congo Free State (perhaps top oxymoron in history) some decade prior were much worse. Clearly, the concept of Lebensraum was basically the envy of successful colonialist states.

      Colonialism allowed for democratic rule among the members of "top nation" with brutal ways of controlling other people. Balfour Declaration was made five years after South African Act that allowed to formalize the Apartheid and the invention of concentration camps.

      If you want to find sociologically useful analogies, I recommend the evolution of Southern states in years preceding Civil War. Democracy, oligarchy, intolerance (sometimes murderous), and, of course, the subjugation. Yet it started on high intellectual note, as you can see from the record of the Founding Fathers from Virginia etc.

      I guess there are intellectual connections between Revisionist Zionism and fascism from "the good days of Mussolini, before the Pact of Steel". But it was more general Zeitgeist. E.g. every self-respecting radical organization in those times had its terror wing, or perhaps even better, a more radical and more pragmatic wings, each with its own terrorist organization.

    • I have checked the link to Josh Marshal. I stopped reading after this sentence: "The latter[influential Jews] are too conflicted and defensive about their identity as Jews not to give thanks that they were born in the same era as Benjamin Netanyahu, the embodiment of the Jewish people who brings together both Maimonides and Herzl into one unified, deluxe Jewish person. (I hate it when that happens!)"

      I hate it when that happens? Begrudging! Red card! See my explanation of the crime of begrudging.

    • Clearly, it is not anti-Semitic to claim that Jews have power, but to claim that they have too much power. On the list of tough crimes this is "begrudging". Perhaps this is the most widespread and thus insidious crime.

      For example, it is OK to note that Israel has many settlements in occupied territories, but claiming that there are to many gives you a red card in Oren's book. Even if you are a hasbara champion of the caliber of Wieseltier, who also implied that IDF killed too many children.

      In all such instances, the correct mental attitude is to acknowledge that there is a lot of X, so the credit should be given and, crucially, support to have more. Incorrect mental attitude always has a reason, evil and/or feeblemindedness.

  • 'Patronizing Israeli crap' -- more American Jewish responses to Oren
    • I guess he is a liberal according to Chomsky's view: not standing much for anything except tactically passionate advocacy of the most conventional causes acceptable to the establishment, and that included Zionism. Unfortunately, that also entails taking stands that Geller derided as "pretty", like displaying moments of distraction upon learning of the killing of hundreds of children etc. This is roughly what raised Oren's ire, while Wieseltier was clearly very pleased with himself for penning the offending articles. So we got a clash of mindsets: "How could he stab HIS country in the back", versus "How could he fail to appreciate my subtle feelings".

    • Perhaps we see a bunch of camels with a back problem.

    • I am verklempt. First, Israeli cows produce less milk than Saudi cows. Now Israel was not the first to arrive in Haiti, not the second but something like number 10? What next? Do not tell me that it was possible to have cell phones and computers without Israeli help.

  • Palestinian family says alleged attacker being held on false evidence
    • It reminds me a Polish proverb "Na bezrybiu i rak ryba" that wikisource translates "beggars can't be choosers" but literally means "When the fish do not take, crayfish is a fish too". It is amazing how hard it is to translate it into English, bezrybie = [without][fish] = place or time with the absence of fish; Russians have an identical proverb with an additional alternation: "at [without][bird], arse is a nightingale".

  • Oren's criticism of US Jews earns his book five thumbs down: 'slinky,' 'self-aggrandizing,' 'twists reality'
    • I distinctly remember the phrase "Odessa, the star of our exile" from Odessa Tales, written by Isaac Babel in 1920-ties. And in the narrative, the phrase was spoken as a typical thing than an old Jew would say at the very beginning of XX century.

      The problem is that it was Zionist invention that Galut is juxtaposed with Aliyah, and the former are "down there", while the latter "up here". In that mode of thinking, Galut makes sense only to the degree that it plans Aliyah and in the meantime gives full support and deference to Israel. Amazingly, this point of view was largely (but never universally) accepted by "Galut", and this happened quite gradually.

      However, among the "elevated Jews" of Israel a competition ensued who is a better Jew, or more Jewish, or more elevated etc. This competition also exists in USA, but unlike in Israel, it encounters a certain friction and limitations. Oren cannot comprehend that a Jew could refrain from the chance of ever greater commitment to Israel and ever more slavish deference to "democratic choices in Israel" unless having some abnormal, ulterior reasons.

      This inability suggests that he was never a serious historian. But who needs a serious historian? It does not increase book sales, academic prospects etc. Most rewards go to folks who follow the "dominant narrative", even if it is tribalist, triumphalist, self-pitying and, above all, hostile to attempts at an objective perspective.

  • 'Jewish cow' is udderly superior to all other cows in the world, Netanyahu says
    • After checking, it seems that no-grazing is predominant in USA, Israel and Saudi Arabia, and if anything, there is no particular benefit to it except in places where good grazing pastures are scarce. Digesting grass is healthier for cows, but it is somewhat slower, so you get somewhat smaller amount of milk per cow. Israel and Saudi Arabia probably have no grazing pastures whatsoever, both would save a big bundle by importing milk.

    • I made another check using Google, and this is what I got:

      link to

      Israeli cows are NUMBER TWO!!! And the number one is ... tadah! ... the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    • Perhaps there are indeed deeper, darker reasons, but perhaps you are a cheapskate. A gallon of milk costs 6 dollars in Israeli stores, under 4 dollars in USA and in yet less advanced Poland, about 2.40.

  • 'We are doing you people a favor by allowing you to be seated here,' Netanyahu deputy tells Palestinians in Knesset
    • “No one has the right to make false accusations that IDF soldiers committed war crimes.”

      I do not know the Basic Laws, but I guess one of them prohibits self-reflection. False accusation of terrorism are practically a civic duty!

  • 'Obama coffee' is black and weak -- racist tweet from wife of Israel's vice premier
    • Some here tried to claim that Judy Nir-Mozes is "just one lady", one cannot generalize etc.

      One fact is that she is a fat checkbook carrying member of financial elite, an opinion maker (in the radio) and not a mere "wife" (the money in the marriage is mostly from her). More importantly, every day I can cull even more drastic story from Israeli media, except for the more stereotypical nature of the targets of the racism. The other day I cited the story about a "cinematographer" who lost it when a flight attendant in Muslim scarf told him that his hand luggage has to be checked for the weight limit. It seems that he was hired for something like filming of a wedding, so not much of an opinion maker. But this is fresh stuff from today: the inter-faith comity in the halls of Knesset (Ynetnews):

      Deputy Interior Minister Yaron Mazuz (Likud) caused an uproar in the Knesset on Wednesday when told Arab MK Hanin Zoabi that the State of Israel was "doing you a favor in giving you ID cards" during a discussion on the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law.


      You can check details at the source. A major brouhaha started, with Prime Minister more or less siding with Mazuz. I see a natural progression from "hateful, but sophisticated" to "hateful, and proud of it".

    • I stand corrected. A supposition that many Zionist have a sense of humor is definitely rash. I found many more example of anger than of humor. But I admit that I have a strong observation bias. For example, I did not found anything funny in Arutz Sheva or ynetnews, while regularly there are funny items at +972 (and less frequently, here). But in the former sites I am only making an occasional spot-check of new and comments.

    • This dispels one meme: Zionists lack sense of humor. Some people have a personality that makes it easy to find something funny, some not. The majority of Jewish Israelis claim that they are happy and probably lough easily, many at the joke of Judy Moses.

      One thing is clear: Right wing Zionists, a large majority of Jews in Israel and probably a minority in USA, hate Obama a lot, and this is definitely a wedge issue. And the chief reason is that their worldview divides the world into "the hated ones", "the friends", and few "neutrals". And it takes very little to make right wing Zionists barking and foaming (or inventing distasteful jokes if they have more sunny disposition). My favorite example is that one Israeli soccer player considered accepting Polish citizenship to qualify for Polish national team (his mother was born in Poland and he played for a premier league Polish team). His former Israeli coach condemned him in a public letter as national traitor, newspapers made it a big story, the young man got a ton of hateful communications, he dropped the idea and there was a jubilation.

      And it is not like Poles were lately blowing up some cafes or buses. For some reasons they are the European nation that Israeli hate most, which does not mean that you cannot find articles in, say, Jerusalem Post, devoted to the cultivation of hatred against, say, Norwegians or the Dutch (always beware of the Dutch!).


      Part of it is the provincialism that was bemoaned by David Rothkopf. A lot of folks are racists, xenophobic and so on, but upper classes and urbane people are supposed to express it sparingly and with a modicum of taste. But in a small community, after ostracizing all differently thinking people, there are much to few people who may spread this modicum of taste, and perchance, a modicum of common sense. But part of it is the right wing concept of championing the common man, the real people, those without taste, common sense and so on (most political movements with wide following champion common people, but needless to say, in different ways).

  • Israeli diplomats 'are not allowed to speak' on US campuses, but North Korean diplomats are, Israeli official says
    • I am not as optimistic as you are, echinococcus. It seems to me that Americans by and large accept that as "average Joe's" they are clueless, so they have to follow their betters, the most able and productive citizens, with net worth in at least 10 figures, and thus it is only natural, and by no means regrettable, that any election is preceded with so-called money primary. The politician who find support among at least some of the ablest and most productive can participate in the subsequent primaries. They are attested as "serious mainstream candidates".

      If echonoccus was right, disclosure that for years Mario Rubio would be bankrupt the instance after Norman Braman would withdraw his largest would make him laughingstock. Mrs. Clinton is definitely more financially responsible, but her family owes a lot to the largesse of the rich. And her donor base is quite decent as well, hence, she belongs to the ranks of serious politicians.

      Of course, such rational attitude is insufficiently prevalent among the youngsters, hence some some campus troubles. Really, Israeli diplomats should count their blessing that they are not in trouble among, say, farmers. Then they would need to attend country fairs and speak just before and just after the something like that:

      "Can you call your husband better than anybody else? What about your hog? Fairgoers who think they can do either of these amazing feats will have an opportunity to display their unique skills when the husband and hog calling contests return to the Clay County Agricultural Fair.

      HOG CALLING CONTEST is sure to get a few laughs out of those in attendance. Three judges will choose the best hog call from among the contestants. … come by the J.P. Hall Livesrock Arena Monday April 6, 2015 @ 6:00 PM" (I guess that each competing wife must have a husband and a hog).

  • 'You have to go'
    • “Those responsible for this despicable crime will face the full force of the law." Reminds me the following:

      I was in no mood to trifle,
      I took down my trusty rifle
      And went out to stalk my prey.
      What a haul I made that day.
      I tied them to my fender, and I drove them home somehow,
      Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a cow.

      The law was very firm, it
      Took away my permit,
      The worst punishment I ever endured.
      It turned out there was a reason,
      Cows were out of season,
      And one of the hunters wasn't insured.

      Read more: Tom Lehrer - The Hunting Song Lyrics | MetroLyrics

  • Does Israel have a toxic personality? Ask Michael Oren
    • That explains why so many Israelis declare themselves to be happy. Allegedly, a while ago a former mayor of Chicago said that he does not know what is fun about baseball (or was it golf), because it that sport "you cannot punch anyone". And Israel provides her favored citizens with tons of fun.

    • Perhaps a minor contribution to the discussion on "Israel spiritual outlook". A member of intellectual elite (cinematographer) was removed from the flight from Vienna to Tel Aviv for unruly behavior and paid a fine of 100 Euros. Excerpts from link to

      “We happened upon a Muslim stewardess who decided to abuse us. I told her: ‘Why do you not weigh anyone’s carry-on luggage but you weigh mine? To what degree can you abuse a person?’ and she said: ‘I learnt it from you people.’ At this point, I lost it,” Davidov told Channel 2 in a clip shown on Saturday evening.

      Davidov’s attorney, Reuven Laviav, said: “My client went to film an event in the Bucharian community in Vienna. On the night of the 12th he called me and said he was arrested along with three other cinematographers. I don’t justify him, but when he went on the plane there was a Muslim stewardess with a headscarf and it seems that because she saw him with a Star of David chain she decided to treat him badly. He was traveling with cameras costing tens of thousands of dollars and he always takes them to the cabin. On this plane, they wouldn’t let him and so he got upset.”

      Davidov was dragged out by airport security, refusing to obey order shouting "I do not understand English", and then "You killed six million Jews and now you want to kill another one?".


      As a matter of personal experience, you can obtain a lenient treatment from an airline by being polite. Before my flight from Brussels to Chennai security check discovered a bottle of liquid in my backpack that exceeded allowed capacity, and I pleaded that this is mosquito spray, necessary to avoid malaria, and a supervisor ask me to spray it on myself, and as it indeed stinked like a mosquito spray (and it was a bottle labeled as such) they made an exception.

    • "The BDS movement is a declaration of nonviolent war against Israel." This is oxymoron. Carl von Clausewitz, in his "On War" brilliantly explained that war is politics by other (violent) means. Hence politics without violence is just that: politics.

  • Israeli leader turns on US Jewish journalists Friedman, Wieseltier, Remnick and Silvers for disloyalty and anti-semitism!
    • It is a bit debatable if the peace process was busted or it was a zombie deprived of the simulacrum of life. Perhaps "busted" is technically good term, as opposed to "killed". The problem with the zombie process was that however harmless to the Zionist cause, it was resented by many as a humiliating aggravation. I guess that in the case of Oren, we can see the results of mental strain induced in a major part by this process.

      The special place of Netanyahu in Israeli right is that he has some modicum of realism, plus mental fortitude to spout some nonsense about two states or stuff like that. Many view this as necessary, perhaps more than admit that. In the last elections his success was to take the votes of "fortified Lidud" parties led by Bennet and Lieberman, and before that, to secure Likud leadership even though rank and file cannot stand even a whiff of the "process" and other forms of liberalism (like letting NGOs exist without being molested). At the end of the day, they appreciate that Israel needs at the helm a face that at least at some occasions is not contorted in righteous anger.

      Mind you, Likud universe has very few such people, as can be seen from their choices to run Foreign Affairs. It became a laughing stock run be zealous idiots, with actual foreign policy run from Prime Minister office.

      By putting together various statements of Oren, one can see that he is surely literate, most probably learned and probably intelligent. However, emotions can take better of him, and venting emotions is a favorite pastime of Israeli right (not that peculiar if you compare to GOP, or Turkish AKP). So on one hand, he finds it foolish to annoy American with untimely requests etc., like Netanyahu's trip to Congress, but on the other hand, he is infuriated that such caution is necessary, while all those rascals like Jews in the media and other prominent positions could do so much more.

      To some degree, I understand Oren. Wieseltier, for all his good works for the Zionist cause, reeks indolence, narcissism and lack of enthusiasm. I wanted to paste his faint critique of the Israeli conduct in the last war in Gaza, but I decided to spare some bytes and nerves of the readers here. Among a usual dollop of propagandistic falsification and a huge amount of empty verbiage, he rather skillfully leads the reader to the conclusions that he, Wieseltier, is the nicest and wisest man, sadly unappreciated by pro-Israeli zealots (swamping him with e-mails).

    • I guess the interesting aspect of Oren's rant was that included Wieseltier among the self-hating adversaries of TODITME (the only democracy in the Middle East) was particularly delusional, but otherwise it is a standard fare, for example the office of Netanyahu once put NYT on the enemy list. Dual loyalty of Jews who have other ideas and attachment besides the veneration of their "only Jewish state" is increasingly perceived as an aggraviation among the political elites of Israel and their approved friends who are free from those "non-Jewish entanglements".

      Assume for a moment that Wieseltier was included because of a simple mistake, like when Honorable Scalia referred to his Honorable colleague Goldberg, who in actuality has name Ginsburg. We still have a group mindset that rejects the possibility that people who disagree can do it for some relatively innocent reasons, like different personal experience, different personal values (which, after all, are personal), or feeblemindedness (most people lack the sagacity and acumen of Michael Oren or our friend hophmi). Instead, those people are either duped by the Dark Forces or themselves are card carrying members of Dark Forces. In recent years, Dark Forces manifest themselves as Worldwide Leftist-Islamist Conspiracy.

    • I have no idea how Wieseltier strayed from the straight and narrow, but Oren should be careful when he casts stones. After all, he himself erred and criticized Netanyahu, and that is not the only sin he committed:

      link to

      Perhaps Oren believes what he wrote, namely that criticizing Netanyahu is a carrier enhancement, and he knows a thing or two about maintaining a carrier. For all I know, it may be true, and that fact should be drummed into all American journalists and politicians.

  • Obscure Netanyahu minister emerges as unsung international hero in latest 'NYT' report
    • I actually find that story surprising and refreshing. Until now, I would never guess that neo-cons or Likudnik (there are differences!!) could see the episode of back pedaling from promises to rain death on Syria as something positive.

      And of course, "Al Qaeda types" are the cherished Hashem's gift to Israel, Netanyahu visits them at the bedside, supports with artillery, airstrikes and probably with supplies and so on. And they did a nice piece of work, disabling Syrian air defenses and degrading the capabilities of Syrian military in general. However, the endgame may turn to be a nightmare for Israel, namely that their favorites are so terrifying to most of the world that massive influx of Iranian troops to Syria will not find any significant opposition. This is how the civil war in Lebanon ended (massive presence of Syrian troops) and this is probably the way the war in Syria will end.

  • Netanyahu likens BDS to Nazi Germany
    • Perusing the link to Hitchhiker wikis I found an actual motivation for destroying Earth that suggests that the plan of hyperspace bypass was not accidental:

      " The very worst poetry of all perished along with its creator, Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Sussex, in the destruction of the planet Earth. Vogon poetry is mild by comparison."

    • By JODI RUDORENJAN. 15, 2014

      Dov Lipman, a rabbi and a sponsor of the bill, has had the word Nazi flung at him. Credit Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times

      JERUSALEM — Israel is on the brink of banning the N-word. N as in Nazi, that is.

      Parliament gave preliminary approval on Wednesday to a bill that would make it a crime to call someone a Nazi — or any other slur associated with the Third Reich — or to use Holocaust-related symbols in a noneducational way. The penalty would be a fine of as much as $29,000 and up to six months in jail.

      Wiser heads prevailed, so Israel can conduct its foreign policy as before.

  • How will Sheldon save Israel?
    • Very close-minded answer, dear talknic. I try, within my modest abilities, to learn something before I criticize. Today I learned something new: Sheldon Adelson = "Jews in Denmark, Belgium and France".

  • Why haredi Jews should resist military service
    • I would give the "Rabbinate" (there are several in Israel) a benefit of the doubt that they know how to interpret Rabbinical law. For example, perhaps Maimonides explained why "The universal obligation of military service in times of emergency" is justified. By admission of the leaders of Israel, there is no emergency, to the contrary, the chief danger is BDS, and hard to see how additional IDF recruits can help. IDF needs manpower to harass villagers more effectively, but quite possibly the current level is sufficient.

      Majority of Haredi rabbis are convinced that prayers and Torah studies are more effective in maintaining the occupation than purely military means. Even that can be correct. After all, however secular Israel is, the justifications for occupation and oppression are in religious zealotry. They may also be correct thinking that IDF service can be detrimental to the preservation of medieval values in their communities.

      In short, extracting moral values that are useful in XXI century from ancient religious texts is a hard effort that can well be futile.

  • Netanyahu government ramps up effort to combat BDS
    • 100 million shekels is a paltry sum when existence of the state is at stake. I think the problem is in finding productive ways to spend it.

      Prime minister hinted at two issues. Jews on campuses have to stand tall and proud, plus they have to be armed with facts. Concerning the first issue, some are vertically challenged. I myself use a plastic stool to reach on top of the kitchen cabinets (from Home Depot, 8 dollars = 25 shekels) but while lightweight, it is not particularly portable for a convenient use at a university campus. Concerning the second issue, apparently, more facts are needed. Both issues can be addressed by much admired Israeli arm industry that could produce better stools and better facts. Thus we need to spend 100 million shekels on R&D, and then sell improved stools and facts to proud Jews at campuses.

      However, from engineering stand point, making convincing brand new facts and lightweight, inexpensive and portable stools are both rather complicated, as they have to perform in adverse environment. My stool somewhat resembles up-side down milk crate and it folds to a rather bulky shape, but any attempt to make it fold more would make it weaker, so you would need to use a more expensive plastic and more intricate construction. Making up convincing facts is even harder, as they can be subjected to scrutiny. An argument like "even Rav Shmuley says so" does not always work (I got a number of e-mails from Values Network).

  • Obama says peace talks are pointless because Netanyahu won't see the 'best' in others
    • You are too cynical. Take the most recent war waged on Yemen. Obama chose a principled position: the first priority is to fill book orders of American arm companies. Badly needed manufacturing jobs for American workers, yea! And some profits too. Sometimes I wish that he was more pragmatic, perhaps noticing that this is pointless s..t that can backfire on us.

    • My take is that poor Kerry broke his leg and now just cannot find enough masochism in his body to suffer extra pain of going through pointless meeting and getting all the hate from Israeli ingrates who did not appreciate American efforts to provide them with a smokescreen. In the same vein, Obama should designate a special officer, preferably autistic, who would take care of all calls from Netanyahu or whoever else wants to call from Israel.

  • Goldberg predicts 'civil war' between American and Israeli Jews as Israel is 'defined as an apartheid state'
    • Glass half empty (of theocracy): hophmi calls Israel "largely secular". The right to marry, divorce, refuse divorce, immigrate is in the hands of state paid clergy that use their own criteria, not regulated by the secular Knesset. Some aspect of lives are controlled by clergy, some are not, like in Iran, and granted, the proportions are different. But why the Ministry of Transportation attempted to ban self-service bicycle rentals in Tel Aviv on days of some religious holidays? Simply put, the Ministry was controlled by religious fanatics. In the new government, fanatics of various ilk control most of the government, although haredi fanatics do not particularly like Modern Orthodox fanatics, the former view compulsory military service as abomination, the latter, as sacred duty to take part in the Holy War.

      Concerning "largely British legal system", Israel inherited the most retrograde parts of the British system, lack of the constitution and colonial artifacts like administrative detention (not used in the home country). USA is using something a bit similar in the case of undocumented aliens, but Israel uses it for domestic oppression, which is worse. In any case, USA ceased to be a normative democratic state.

    • "It is remarkable, the degree to which he holds Israel to standards he doesn’t apply to other American allies."

      This is one of the central tenets of Hasbara, a belief shared by Zionist from most obtuse to most liberal. It is also a very intelligent ploy: deconstruction of that belief gives so much fun to a non-believer that it is really, really disruptive. Even so, I give it a try. First, to what degree "Israel is hold to something"? For example, holding Piotr to some standard basically means that if he does not fit to those standards he is fired. But Israel is a sovereign state, so the rules are different. One rule is for non-allies that cannot do much, then we proclaim that they are no good and impose severe sanctions. With luck, that leads to hyperinflation and total immiseration, like in Zimbabwe, or to somewhat stagnant economy like in Iran. Second rule is for non-allies that can do something. We impose sanctions which cause some degree of inconvenience, but we also foment insurgencies and support terrorist movements that they may find inconvenient. Third rule is for non-allies that we cannot do anything about, lest they stop buying our Treasury bonds, or leave us bereft of such life necessities like shoes, shirts, smart phones etc, surely we do nothing, BUT!! BUT!! we mention their misdeeds in yearly reports compiled by a dedicated federal agency.

      And what rules operate with allies? In good old days if an ally was committing a major atrocity, CIA would provide it with a check list, so they would also murder people on that list. Or provide training how to conduct torture and run death squads. However, occasionally those allies would be mentioned in yearly reports.

      So how does Israel fare in the comparison? Especially within "the region" our allies tend to be a wild and crazy bunch, where check and balances have the form of the nephews and uncles of the current absolute monarch, while Israel was, and remains, the most liberal theocracy in "the region". For example, Israel routinely uses a despotic procedure called "administrative detention". For some reason, the highest per-capita use of that occurs in Jordan (a truly despotic regime does not have to use British colonial laws that Brits would be ashamed to use, would they still have colonies, and no record of administrative detention in Falklands, Gibraltar of Bermudas). Advantage, Israel! However, since the sanctions on allied abusers of human rights range gamut from laughable to inconsequential, it is hard to tell if Israel is "hold" to more or less than the others.

  • ‘They said we drink the blood of children’—Netanyahu goes off the deep end after FIFA campaign
    • , the latest culinary advances.

      I got that from the web, but the quoted cookbook is from 1922. Related historical references exists from ancient Greece. link to

    • Dear Mooser, drinking blood of geezers was never subject of a libel, it just raises the question about the taste. Just imagine this picture with roles reversed:
      link to

      I must also admit that I have heard about the "blood libel", but it was about the use of Christian blood (not necessarily babies) in baking matzos. The origin of that folk legend could stem from the fact that it is very difficult to understand why regular matzos are not good for Passover -- I must admit I do not understand it myself.

      Additionally, nobody in the region would drink something that was neither boiled nor fermented, while blood was used in a number of dishes:

      [After you have killed the pig] cook the lungs, skin, various parings and veins with onions, greens and salt until you get a fine broth. Remove cooked solids and cut finely, and use the strained broth to cook buckwheat groats or barley. Groat may be soft, but not mushy.

      Add to the chopped meat and pour the liquid so much blood that the entire mass was not dry, but somewhat thick. Mix all perfectly, add salt to taste, pepper, English herb and marjoram. Stuff loosely in a clean intestines, bind in small section, or fasten with little sticks and simmer slowly for an hour" (F. Gensówna," Little Housewife - kitchen, pantry, medications and friendly advise)

  • StandWithUs invests nearly half a million dollars in ongoing anti-BDS lawsuit against Olympia Food Co-Op
    • Some plaintiffs complained that BDS has nothing to do with the mission of the Coop. However, the coop has this as a part of its mission:
      link to
      One can argue that food produced on land obtained through dispossession of the natives entails oppression, and I guess some arguments of that kind were made. Most importantly, it is only natural that most of 24 thousand active members would be against oppression, and against pro-oppression slogan "stand with the civilized man" (or join us at the Grim Rippers Squad and mow the grass).

    • A question to law literate folks: I understand that the issue is what standard applies to non-jury decisions imposing penalties. Opponents of the boycott are counter-sued as raising a case without merit with explicit intention to create a nuisance. Suppose that Mondoweiss would write in an article about "Piotr who delusionally thinks that he is the Lord of the Universe" and I would file a libel suit, claiming the damage to my reputation and material well-being, since it can decrease the level of devotion and gifts to Piotr with the false claim that he is not the Lord (while he is)". The court can dismiss the case, fine Piotr for making fun of the court or even award damages to Mondoweiss. However, the court has to evaluate the arguments raised by Piotr, and do it in a way that does not impinge on the right of Piotr to have a jury trial.

      So the Washington State stature allowed to dismissed the case under more permissive (and thus apparently unconstitutional) standard, kind of "most people would not believe it" rather than "only few people would believe it". And the judge does not need to present any statistics on how many people in fact believe that Piotr is the Lord of the Universe. But there can be other ways to reason about Piotr's case: if he is indeed the LofU then as a public figure he has no right to damages without submitting the proof that Mondoweiss did not believe in its claim, or his is not LofU and there was no libel.

      I would not be too afraid for Olympia Coop yet.

  • US and Israeli pressure on Nigeria to sell out Palestine at U.N. amounted to 'national security threat'
    • “Israel has been a crucial and loyal ally in our fight against Boko Haram,” Mike Omeri, the chief coordinating spokesman of Nigeria’s National Information Center, told the Jerusalem Post. “It is a sad reality that Israel has a great deal of experience confronting terrorism.

      For all that help, the fight against Boko Haram was going very badly, and it seems to be going better now. Former president was either simply inept, or unpopular in the military. New president is a former general, and apparently the war is more successful. Objectively, both Israel and USA have pretty bad record with counter-insurgency. Of course, if you have almost unlimited superiority in arms and almost total control over the population then even inept leadership and tactics will give a modicum of "positive results", but this does not work in Lebanon or Nigeria.

  • Turning Lebanon into Gaza -- Israel's hole card against Iran deal?
  • 'This land is ours. All of it is ours': Meet the Netanyahu cabinet members focused on fighting BDS & annexing the West Bank
    • Bryan: Finally, outside of the Bible itself their is not a jot of evidence that God has ever engaged in conversation with humans, or snakes, or asses, that God makes promises, or even exists.

      Nothing could be further from the truth. Amaterasu is a very fine goddess and an ancestress of Japanese imperial family, so somewhere along the line there had to be a direct intercourse between a god and a human. Somewhat atypically, Japan was created by gods and then given to the Japanese who did not had to conquer anything. (At least they got central Japan without any problems). I think a god promised Mexico to Aztecs who had to trek from their ancestral Aztlan to get the prize, which they had to conquer. Heracles got the land of Peloponesus from Zeus and promised it to his ancestors, but they were sadly expelled. No worry! Heraclids returned and ruled Laconia, Argos etc. Incidentally, their periods of exile and return are dated very similarly as those of Hebrews. (Spartans were most note-worthy Heraclids and allegedly their story was inspiring to Jews in the last centuries B.C.) Wotan not only speaks to humans, but he also sings very nicely in deep baritone. Indian gods were tramping all around Bharata as avatars. I could fill a library with literary sources, photographs of the respective locations and so on.

      For example, why do we play with a rubber ball? It all started with a ball games between humans and gods of the underworld.

    • I do not think that Hotovely is "ultra-Orthodox". She seems to be Modern Orthodox, which to me is a fascist movement with "religious motivation". Who knows, perhaps her household has two dishwashers, but she struts around with uncovered hair and elbows, poses to photographs etc. She is ultra-nationalist, and clearly an excellent pick for the Ministry of Defiance (formerly known as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

      “Rashi says the Torah opens with the story of the creation of the world so that if the nations of the world come and tell you that you are occupiers, you must respond that all of the land belonged to the creator of world and when he wanted to, he took from them and gave to us.” Is it really an exemplar of Jewish religious scholarship? First, Rashi is surely a revered scholar, but one could expect to consult him on something less obvious than the opening of the Torah. Second, isn't it a bit non sequitur? Creation of the world does not seem very related to deciding who lives where and when. Or perhaps the point is that if the Creator could cheerfully disregard all those fossils and archaeological finds and create the World 5800 years ago, He could also give the Holy Land to Hebrews cheerfully disregarding other folks who live there. My guess is that Tsipi reveres the Torah but couldn't be bother reading more than the first few pages.

  • Netanyahu's new Foreign Ministry aide gets $226,000 from Sheldon Adelson shop in U.S.
    • By the way, Mondoweiss was puzzled why Dore Gold was paid as a consultant by AEI, and that is indeed a puzzle. One of the chief roles of AEI is to support otherwise unemployable right wing folks and give them a label of an "expert" or some such, something that looks good in a business card. However, when Gold got the money he was a full-time President of Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs.

      Similarly puzzling is the fact that was is the President of Center for Jewish Community Studies in Baltimore in the same time.

    • Wikipedia: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

      President: Dore Gold

      Recent initiatives:

      International Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Anti-Semitism

      In May 2015 the center sponsored an event promoting an initiative to make anti-Semitism an international crime through a convention to be signed by participating states. No foreign diplomats attended the event. Of 160 representatives invited, not one chose to attend. The organizers seemed surprised. The Times of Israel reported: "So far, not a single state has indicated that it is considering signing the convention, including Israel.


      The Intitute is located in Jerusalem, but its spiritual home is firmly in Chełm (check Wise People of Chełm).

  • Sam Harris and the dangers of false atheism
    • I guess I am not an atheists because I worship nitpicking. Thus I would pick the following nit: not much evidence was shown for Sam Harris being a "false atheists". That said, I will pick some nits on his luxuriantly hirsute head.

      Sam Harris advances the concept that Noam Chomsky has "dangerous delusions about global jihadism". But what are "sober views on the global jihadism, stripped of any delusions"? That it is a part of a wider international conspiracy aiming to destroy motherhood, apple pie, Second Amendment and all the rest that is good, with Chomsky being one of the main culprits? Or that it is an inevitable consequence of the cult lamentably started by a self-styled prophet in Arabian peninsula, and motherhood, apple pie etc. are in dire danger as long as that cult is not expunged? When you add adjective "global", do you mean that there exists good local jihadism that USA and other Western government can wisely support, like insurgents against Qaddafi, Assad, Russia (in North Caucasus) or Afghan mujahadeens? Or was (or is) the support of any of the above a stupid blunder? It is a fact that fighters in "good local jihadism movements", goodness evidenced by Western support (we would not support bad folks, would we?) were subsequently found as "bad global jihadists". Perhaps jihadism should be considered more comprehensively than the narrow focus on the "global" jihadism, with all arbitrary inclusions and exclusions. Any social study that focuses on "bad folks" as currently defined by the State Department lacks intellectual merit -- why we need Sam Harris if we can read posts on the website of the State Department? Just because we are junkies who need more?

      In other words, the concept of "global jihadism" is not so much delusional as mercenary. tailored to get funding. And throwing invectives like "delusional" is a time-proven mercenary tactic as well. That hints that Harris may indeed be worshipping something. Nevertheless, while the concept is sloppy, what are prescriptions?

      If I understand, the prescription is to focus on the root cause, which is the existence of Islam. This is heavily delusional. Given the numbers of adherents, the dynamics of those numbers and their global distribution, I see no realistic policy based on that assumption. If this is the only way, we should just morosely await the end of our good atheist days, or concentrate on getting some fleeting carnal pleasures while we still can. Or create an international system of death camps to eliminate Muslim minorities in countries where Muslim are not in power (sadly impossible because of carping of lily livered liberals like Chomsky). I do not want to go into details, but outside radical Zionist circles most folks agree that to the degree that "jihadism" is a problem, most Muslim reject that idea, moreover, since "Jihadism" entails mostly Muslim-on-Muslim atrocities, 9/11 being very much an outlier rather than the rule, there is a necessity and opportunity to work with Muslim to reduce it.

      That said, the details are bewildering and crucial (e.g. the support of the fascist rulers of Egypt or absolute monarchies like KSA is not the best way to put it mildly). Rants in Harris style are much more dangerous than any mistakes in Chomskian analysis because they provide surprisingly effective support for very misguided policies. For example, USA supports (with cash and arms) a very bloody and completely fascistic regime in Egypt, and any time there is another news item about, say, hundred death penalties ordered in short proceedings with highly dubious reasons, most commenters approve because the victims are claimed to be "Islamists", And it is not like that fascist regime is "secular", in fact, it is somewhat theocratic, except that this is a form of religion deformed by the puppets nominated by the State.

    • About Turks in ISIS: there was a story about an "ISIS commander" who got wounded and left for his native Turkey for hospital treatment, and nobody bothered him. Unlike policemen who stopped trucks with weapons and explosives that were driving on orders of military intelligence and according to the shipping papers, contained "humanitarian aid"; the poor guys were fired.

      Statistics of ISIS fighters from various countries come from law enforcement in those countries, and zero stat from Turkey does not mean much.

      Concerning reasons for "radicalization and violence", various societies experience crisis situations and "radicalization and violence" is one of the outcomes. And it is a genie that is not easy to put back in the bottle. For example, Colombia experienced something called "Violencia", and it has effects on the society even today. Not much in our media on that. In any case, dependent on the distribution of religions and ideologies during the crisis, you can get "radical and violent" Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Shinto, Anarchists, Marxists, liberal democrats and so on.

  • 'Jerusalem Day' and the sacralization of propaganda
    • Women of the Wall are heretics, as established by the religious authorities in a theocratic state, so they should be grateful that Israel is a liberal theocracy with rather lenient penalties for disobeying the edicts of three chief rabbinates (Ashkenazi, Military and Sephardi).

      "My daughter in her American history class used Israel as a example of a society with freedom of religion but not separation of church and state." Excellent example! Like the lack of provision for any marriages NOT sanctioned by one of the officially approved religions, and that short list does not include Jewish denomination that most numerous in United States. Or reservation of certain type of jobs, including jobs in power stations, to the members of the official state religion. The latter causes problems because the most pius among the Jews do not want to use state-supplied electricity on Saturdays as it is made with Jewish labor on Sabath.

      Could be worse, of course. Imagine being a non-member of the ruling religion in a state where all, the faithful and non-faithful, have to spend one day of the week hopping on one leg.

      I hope that the summary of your daughter was that the separation of Church and State in USA was not one of the mistakes of the Founding Fathers.

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