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Total number of comments: 3542 (since 2010-05-31 18:07:51)

piotr

American university faculty member born in Poland.

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  • Video: If you voted for Hamas, Israel has a right to kill you, says president of NY Board of Rabbis
    • Indeed, it looked incremental two weeks ago. I would still call it "mass slaughter" rather than "genocide", but "incremental" sounds too anodyne now.

  • Amira Hass and the end of Jewish ethical history
    • In the period 1990-2014, the percentages of proponents and opponents of criminalizing marijuana in USA changed from 80-12 to 54-42. The opprobrium of "gay marriage" also went away to a large extend, back around 1990 the opposition to gay marriage was an important vote getter for GOP. Now "unconditional support for Israel" changed from "consensus" to "controversial" and it is probably on the same trajectory. In all those cases, "white males" are "late adopters", signifying nothing more than that a group best situated in the current status quo is the slowest in embracing the change, but it goes through the same process, just in a different phase.

  • To my Jewish friend (you know who you are)
    • Richard Cohen: >>The difference between murdered and killed — the former on purpose, the latter mostly what’s called “collateral damage” — ought to be clear to anyone whose mind is not addled by anti-Semitism.

      Israel has gone out of its way to try to avoid civilian deaths.<<

      Richard forgot that the difference is also not clear to those where were killed. The tactic of inflicting indiscriminate mayhem for military gain is not new, and was clearly embraced by Germans during Siege of Warsaw in September of 1939. While motorized columns had relatively small problems traversing Polish countryside, the capital had fortifications, entrenched positions and tens of thousands of soldiers. For the first week Polish air defenses were operational, but then Polish planes were shot down and the sky belonged to Germans. Rather than continue fruitless attacks on Polish positions, the command resorted to carpet bombing, and with 20,000 civilians deaths the city surrendered in two days.

      Later the allies surpassed the Germans in the carnage inflicted on cities, with firestorms and nuclear bombs (less lethal but more memorable) but after the war new conventions were signed to avoid it.

      There are numerous differences between Siege of Warsaw and Siege of Gaza, but it is not clear that Israel is all that much better. Germans wanted to conquer the city, Israel attacks the besieged to maintain the siege. Typically, an "intolerable concession that would reward terrorism" would be giving the besieged the opportunity to produce and export their products. There are many corollary concessions that could be done, but were not done on the same principle. The siege is maintained to ... achieve purposes that are not all that clear. One reasons that is mentioned is that the leadership of Gaza is "vile". But the process of changing that, and bringing Gaza under "apolitical unity government", was ignored. Other reasons can be only divined.

      Does every nation on Earth assume the right to kill thousands for unclear reasons? Does ANY other nation assume that?

    • The hearts of writers on the opinion page of NYT are bleeding even as we speak.

      OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
      Don’t Kill the Export-Import Bank

      Mercy! Poor bank, isn't it beastly to slay it?

      In less dramatic tone, Roger Cohen (keeping track of R. Cohens and J. Goldbergs is hard, for a moment I will not generalize about his writing) laments that Zionism, of late, is not as good as the Zionism that he believes in. Unfortunately, the opening sentence raises my hackles: "My great-grandfather’s brother, Michael Adler, was a distinguished rabbi ..."
      While 1/2 of my ancestors are Jewish, none seems to be distinguished, and the other half includes municipal actuary, bookbinder, gardener, peasant, nurse, construction worker. Thus innate authority of the well-born sounds grating to me.

      Anyway, the great Zionist debate of the hour seems to be if the State of Israel should commit itself to regular atrocities, or to make a super-duper atrocity to end all atrocities. Roger Cohen is sadly on a sideline. Avoiding atrocities, "even if arguably just" as one of his ilk put it? How naive you can be!?

      What all of them seem in common is the denial that we are witnessing atrocities. It hollows Cohen's argument: why the heck Zionism should adhere to his aesthetics? This requires mental framework that I call "morality against ethics". In such morality we have to determine who is good and who is bad FIRST, and only then we can tell if a particular killing, maiming, infliction of homelessness or other deprivation is good or bad. I am sorry to say, but many opponents of "militant Zionism" (which is mainstream Zionism, unlike the liberal Zionism of Roger Cohen) buy this line of arguments.

      For starters, does it matter if non-combatants who are killed are "innocent"? Did they vote for Hamas? Did they vote? Are they family members of voters? All of that is important if we want to establish that they are "bad people", and this is important only if we think that killing bad people is good. This whole framework is confusing. If killing bad people is good, and at least 1/4 of the population of Gaza are bad people, then how to judge not killing of 99% of them 9 (and not maiming 95% of them)? According to some (like our American mainstream rabbis or Israeli Ambassador), it is an act of unprecedented generosity, worthy Nobel Prize, according to others, like Minister Bennet who is the head of a large political movement, total dereliction of duty. If anything, Bennet is more logical here, it is the intellectual framework that is insane.

  • Pro-Israel Facebook page is titled, 'Death to Dianna Buttu'
    • I thought that bots should mangle grammar and leave the spelling intact. Shouldn't IDF supply them with English spell checkers? But this is IDF for you. After decades of doing hardly anything else, they do not have equipment to set properly functioning roadblocks. "Elite commandoes" get beaten up by civilians. And bots without spell checkers.

      P.S. Can anything be deduced about the religion of the ranter? Many orthodox refrain from writing "God" or "god", using G..d or Hashem. Is it different for "national Orthodox"? Or simply a heavily inebriated Reform Jew?

  • Claim that Hamas killed 3 teens is turning out to be the WMD of Gaza onslaught
    • I did not realize that there is a significant difference. And I am not the only one. This is from "Electronic Intifada": "Israeli onslaught against the defenseless people of Gaza".

    • So this is how you get "sick buildings"? Factor S distributed through central air-conditioning? People in posh offices getting a larger concentration of stench than hoi polloi in cubicles. Top executives emerging from the headquarters with distinctly green complection, only to be greeted by parapazzi waiting in the fresh air outside.

  • Which crowded cities can you fire into?
    • As we go into military/civilian hypotheticals, here is a fresh example. Ukrainian government is bombing the rebels and rebels are shooting down these planes. (This is what makes them not mere rebels but terrorists.) In one version of the recent events, two Ukrainian fighter places were trailing very close to a civilian airliner and the airliner got shot down.

      Question: how meticulously should you check that you are not shooting at civilians, given that you expect to be bombed.

      Answer 1: order to shoot at receive a decoration for meritorious service.

      Answer 2: crime of the highest order, worth international sanctions.

      Answer 1 is for a non-hypothetical scenario link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Controversial, illegal, and documented: Israeli military strategies in Gaza
    • In other words, Harper, Baird and company CAN extend "canine devotion" to Israel, but they do not have to do it to win elections. I do not recall Australian minister lashing out at UN Human Right Commission. And this is not even "marching in lockstep with US". Did Kerry say anything like that?

      In fact, as globalnews.ca reported, American talk show host Mark Levin highly praised Mr. Baird and interviewed him on his show, and later contrasted him favorably with Communist Obama. On the other hand, up North, hasbara seems totally asleep. There were 9 comments, one happy that at least in Canada there are no Muslim apologists in the government, one comment calling the former a sick puppy and 7 comments highly critical of Mr. Baird.

  • Dr. Kristol's curriculum: US 'special responsibilities' include 'ancient longings' of Jewish nationalists
    • " If the intellectual architects of the European Union believe that the national form causes violence and stands in the way of a more harmonious world, ..."

      I doubt if Kristol could invent that "argument" unaided: to me, he will remain forever the intellectual mentor of Dan Quaile. But I have seen this circulated by other Israeli and pro-Israeli think-tankers. Surely, this is a ridiculous caricature, as EU very much consists of nation states, taking care of the welfare of their citizens first, and within their borders, of the welfare of the dominant ethnicity first. However, after VERY painful experiences, all (most?) European countries agreed to some limits on sovereignty. For example, a law passed by national parliament can be challenged in European Court. I guess various Israeli "absentee" laws would not pass the muster. And I wonder if administering more than 90% of the land by "ethnic foundations" would be OK.

      In other words, nationalism is clearly present in Europe, is clearly defended in Europe, but it has some limits. For that matter, American courts do not use religion and ethnicity to determine property rights either. As Israel is clearly not within these limits, the issue is not "nationalism" but "ultra-nationalism".

  • Israel's actions 'unjustified' in eyes of women, non-whites, Dems, indy's, and those under 50 -- Gallup
    • But those falsehoods are not THAT easy to verify as false. By the way of contrast, Zionists like to repeat that "Arabs already have 22 countries". But the list of 22, which everyone can check on Wikipedia, includes Somalia, Djibuti, Comoros and ... drum roll ... Palestine. Is there a Zionist pedant carping that "Arabs already have 18 countries"? No.

      Yesterday I have seen a list compiled by a Zionist of "non-democratic countries that voted to investigate human rights violation" currently being committed by IDF. The list starts with Argentina, which is correct in the sense that this county was alphabetically first among the members of UN Commission on Human Rights, but it is actually a democratic country with a decent human rights situation. Unlike Israel.

      More seriously, typical arguments say "everybody would do it" without any examples. Sure, everybody would shell hospitals for hours. So who did it and when?

    • “Israel can’t wait idly while rockets are fired at her”

      But that only scratches the surface of the threats that Israel faces daily! Since you really cannot remove the "rocket threat", the goal is to remove the threat from "handcuffs and tranquilizers" that can emerge from the dreaded terrorist tunnels. If removing those tunnels requires some slaughter, that is something that Israeli leaders sadly have to do.

      Uneducated person like me would think that the tunnels can be detected, and if they really approach close to the border fence they can be destroyed with very little violence. But that would be second guessing out of ignorance.

    • So you are an odd-ball, but at 27%, you are in a better shape than a "leftist" in Israel.

      There is also a chance that "against your better judgement" you have learned more than your MBA required. People accept as "truth" a lot of tidbits that are easy to verify as false.

    • One may quip that creating conformism, citizens deferential to leaders and mass media is precisely one of the goals of education. But that is done mostly in K-12. I suspect that something else is going on here.

      12 years ago it was much harder to make the case for Palestinians, with suicide bombings of the Second Intifada. I know because I have tried with my immediate acquaintances. Now it is totally different. However, people absorb new facts with big difficulty if it contradicts their convictions.

      Educated Americans (I say Americans, because I have most contact with them) are not particularly well educated in geography, history and so on, but they are probably more confident in what they know. Uneducated Americans are not better educated, but less confident.

      And of course there is the question of elite perspective. America becomes a broken society in that respect, with elite having scant empathy for non-elite. A member of "riff-raff" can be clubbed to death by police working hard for several minutes for the classic "riff-raff" crime of sleeping on the sidewalk (Anatole France would advise to sleep under a bridge), and does it concern the media? Just one aspect, that police confiscated cell phones of the witnesses. But the death of the miscreant (nobody disputes that he slept on that sidewalk) did not. And he was not "cooperative", like punching the police dog that bit him. How is a person supposed to cooperate with a police dog? Perhaps I am weird, but that puzzled me. Did it concern the law? Yes, and the coroner duly reported the death to be natural, basically, a healthier person would survive (even emaciated Afghan taxi driver survived several days of beating by US troops). Is it a normal standard for culpability for death?

      Thus to the middle and upper class, if the authority abuses the lower classes that it is as it should be. Death for "peddling cigarettes"? He knew the risks when he broke the law. The ideas of "proportionality" are more natural in the minds of people on the receiving side.
      link to nytimes.com

      If we accept that one can be killed for sleeping on a sidewalk or "suspicion of peddling cigarettes", "crushing Hamas" together with everybody in the vicinity does not strike as wrong.

  • Hamas mimics Hezbollah tactics, and no one will have stability till blockade is lifted
    • Joseph Massad had a good analysis of the situation in Egypt. Perhaps a bit too Marxist, "economic determinism", but so far, everything checks out. There are two basic political forces in Egypt: crony capitalists who make money through privileges bestowed by the state, many still in the military and other uniformed services, other former servicemen and family members, plus crooks who were never in uniform. Currently, they are "secular fascists", although this is really not secularism but "state Islamism". State Islamism is to Islamism what crony capitalism is to capitalism, the state approves Muslim (and Christian?) hierarchies, concedes "leading role of Islam" as interpreted by their stooges.

      On the other side are non-state privileged capitalists, and professionals who form the core of support of Muslim Brotherhood. Now thoroughly outlawed, and the properties of Brotherhood supporters are confiscated and given for management to supporters of the regime. The process of making it work is now the chief pre-occupation of the regime (or perhaps just an important and difficult task).

      Salafists are now pro-regime with some reservations, which fits Massad's framework. They are funded by Saudis and Emiratis who clearly are as crony capitalists and supporters of state-controlled Islamism. In the Kingdom and Emirates, the Brotherhood is outlawed as a kind of republican (anti-monarchy) tendency. Similarly, the opposition in Jordan, while legal, seems mostly Brotherhood. Qatar supports the Brotherhood, presumably because they do not want to be simply sheep following the Saudis.

      So for purely internal reasons, the fascist regime in Egypt loathes Hamas. As the fascism in Egypt got rejuvenated, with a personality cult that actually works (quite a few Egyptians seem to take it seriously), it bashes Brotherhood and Hamas with vigor that we did not see under Mubarak.

      Egypt is a broken society, with one half hating the other half. It would take some analysis and extra information to figure why Sisi is as popular as he is. Conformism? Appreciation of what fascism has to offer? Well informed fear of the Brotherhood, or manipulation?

  • U.S. casts lonely vote against establishing war crimes inquiry in Gaza
    • I guess the Israeli investigation was if IDF operation followed the rules of halacha. Like, "you should kill all their cattle": are chicken a sufficient substitute?

      Now we have operation "collect 200 Philistine foreskins". Accordingly, IDF abandoned Barak's method of strifing from a safe distance.

      PS. To observant Jews here: by "halacha", here I mean opinion issued by rabbis on Israeli military and municipal payrolls, and of course, the Rabbinates. Your own understanding of Jewish law may be different (I hope!). As a non-believer, I cannot venture an opinion what is "correct halacha".

    • It makes perfect sense. There are two kinds of people killed by IDF: terrorists and human shields. Killing is performed when Israeli public is irate. UNHRC is fraying the nerves of Israeli public.

  • Avishai says we misrepresented his views
    • "But some of us, in and out of Israel, have been willing to take the unpleasant consequences of non-conformity, criticizing the occupation and its consequences—including arguably just wars that might nevertheless have been avoided—since the time of Golda Meir. However queasy we may feel about Weissworld’s tribute, we certainly weren’t waiting for its spine."

      My working definition of liberal is not standing for anything but sounding nice. That requires refraining from writing and talking with sense. Unjust accusations that Avishai meant something are hereby denied. Should one avoid "arguably just wars"? If there are so just, perhaps Avishai should joint many young patriotic Israelis, remove some garments, paint some hearts and "IDF" on the skin, make a photo of himself and post it on Facebook. That perhaps would not sound nice (or even look nice, I am sorry to say).

      A leftist radical would say that if a war is avoidable, it cannot be just. One can quibble with hypothetical scenario, but at least some effort to avoid a war is needed before we could consider it "just". On a practical plane, once you made an effort argue that a war is just, it renders all subsequent kwetching concerning the conduct in that war meaningless. Which is precisely what a true liberal wants. Pursuit of meaninglessness.

      As I see it, the genuine error of Phil was assuming that Bernie has "views". Instead, he has decided that making sounds of "moral anxiety", without any prescriptions, mind you! is what "sounding nice" requires at this time. Needless to say, a "spine" is the last thing Bernie would wait for.

  • It's time for liberal Jewish bodies to take a stand
    • I disagree. I pondered what does it mean "liberal"? The term originated from political divisions in Spain and France ca. 200 years ago, and clearly, its meaning was changing over time. Now the best explanation is "sounding nice but not standing up for anything".

      Thus it is preposterous to demand that "liberal bodies to take a stand". They are good in joining the herd of not-so-liberal bodies in stands of "full solidarity", but the ability to make a separate stand is simply not there. It is like recommending a bungee jump to an acrophobic person.

      Perhaps "striving to get more nuanced understanding" is the max of what they can do. Does it sound nice? A bit strange aesthetic, if you ask me, and confusing if you mean it literally. But I guess it is kind of mellifluous.

  • Look at Netanyahu's 'evidence' that civilians are harboring rockets in Gaza
    • I would say that the artwork is much better than in "Spy vs spy" that inspired the cartoon presented in UN. On the other hand, I could draw like that too, and in my entire elementary school carrier I never got more than C in art. In particular, this is not drawn at all, just a collection of downloaded "art" pasted in.

    • Actually, it would be nice if a correspondent of Mondoweiss visited Palau, Marshall Islands etc. and collected opinions about Israel. 90% of their budget is decided by US Congress. I recall that once there was a budget stalemate, "government shutdown", and on that occasion the islanders missed some UN vote important for Israel. No cash, no vote.

  • Nicholas Kristof on how to end the Israel/Palestine conflict
    • Kristof is clearly well informed, he is just hopelessly biased. In his case, this is a bias of a religious person who wants to fit everything into his "nice framework", so if the facts do not fit, he ignores them. The case of Cambodian activist is instructive: as she fights for a "good cause", she must be a nice person and aspersion against her must be malicious. Incidentally, sex trafficking is basically a special case of exploiting people with "limited economic options", and if you had your pick, would you prefer a brothel or slavery on a fishing boat, where you are beaten up or even tossed overboard if you do not work hard enough? Not an easy choice. There were estimates of 100,000 such slaves in the region, so actually some people have that choice. We could consider "slave free tuna", except that can are either labelled "Product of Thailand", where it happens, or not labelled by the origin at all. So you read the label extolling eco-friendly qualities of the catching technique, but nothing about the labor conditions.

  • Relentless bombing on Gaza continues: Israel kills media worker, 9 people watching World Cup on beach
    • Minority viewer: When given the choice between a Westernized country and an unreformed religion, I’d support the actions of the Westernized country every time.

      EVERY TIME? It is precisely the Jews who were viewed as having an archaic, unreformed religion, unlike Germans who were much more reformed and of course, Western. Without dwelling more on that, the current status of religion is Israel is not particularly "reformed". For example, while IDF attacks "unreformed" Gaza, inspectors in Tel Aviv are fining stores open on Saturday contrary to the wishes of Tel Aviv city council, but as instructed by the government in Jerusalem. Mind you, some European countries limit the right to open stores during weekends, but it would not be possible to connect the right to operate a store on weekend days to the religion of the store owners.

      This war was commanded by the clergy of Israel, it is a "holy war". IDF will deliver 200 Philistine foreskins, so far there are ca. 90 hence the operation have to last several more days. Of course, they do not have to stop at 200, but it was strongly suggested that 200 is the minimum number, on the basis of a Holy Book dating to Iron Age.

  • 'Jewish' or 'Israeli' -- NYT, BBC, and CNN make different word choice
    • A comment on "bilal a" reference to West Bank settler rabbis condemning the murder of Abu Khdeir: “There is an obligation to give them the death penalty, in order to fulfill the [Biblical precept of] ‘you shall eradicate the evil from your midst,’” the rabbi said.

      “The State of Israel and its operational arms, the IDF and the security services are required and commanded to wage war against terror without mercy, until it has been expunged from the world,” adding that the murderers of Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel should also receive the death penalty.

      This theology is confusing to its own followers. The concept seems to be that the commandment "Thou shall not kill" is not applicable to the State, as it is indeed demonstrated many times in Torah, but applicable to all who are not executing plans and orders of the State. So far, even preschool children would understand. But wait! The State is not some independent agent, but should act on authority ultimately traceable to the Almighty, and the latter instructs the State to "wage war on terror without mercy" etc., using the mouths and pens of our sage rabbis. What should those followers do when the State is strangely slow, and perhaps even merciful? When it is hard to see how the proposed action could possibly "expunge the terror"? Shouldn't they become volunteer arms of the State?

      No, no, no, you morons! Mercy upon the enemy is forbidden, but so is disobedience. Sin of mercy committed by the officers of the state in no way justifies the disobedience of the vigilantes. But it is confusing, and the rabbis could be more lucid.

  • State Dep't says it 'remains shocked' by Abu Khdeir beating
    • The cynic in me suggests that the mere fact that the murder of Abu Khdeir and the beating of his cousin are shocking is by far insufficient to shock our State Department etc. I can quickly list a number of events, many with pictures, that were not found shocking by the State Department and the Administration in general.

      Thus after so many years of Israel benefiting from the selective sensibilities of American government now it is subjected to scrutiny. The fact that the pictures of both Khdeir photos are so moving is a part of it, but a part of it is that Netanyahu government is a loose cannon and it is imperative for the Administration to put it in place, which is ordinarily very difficult in Washington, D.C.

      By a loose cannon I mean very literally the old naval situation when a cannon on the cannot deck got loose and rolled back and forth, breaking everything.

      Objectively, what is most terrifying is not what GoI unleashed, but what it didn't, as the Cabinet could not agree on details. The debate on Monday was leaked to the press, on Tuesday they continued in secret, on Wednesday Muhammad Abu Khdeir was killed. In the past, under a more unified coalition and more forceful prime minister, IDF would kill several hundred Palestinians and delay the next round of the "peace process" (tactically welcome, but entailing unwanted self-limitations) for a year or few years.

  • How long can Israel depend on Mizrahi docile loyalty? Smadar Lavie asks in new book
    • "In fact, Western Europeans were considered so superior to Mizrahi ..."

      Those "Western" Europeans could hail from as far East as Khabarovsk, and most were from Central and Eastern Europe, so "Europeans".

      "Russians and Poles"? Netanyahu family is Lithuanian. I once asked my lather father what was the difference between Polish and Lithuanian Jews, and the explanation was that there were quite a few, the chief being that "Litwacy" were speaking Yiddish in a funny way. It is also worthwhile to mention that "Poles" absolutely detest Poles, producing various quotes etc. that are used by anti-Semitic Poles.

      In general, modern Israeli nationalism is very much against Europeans, and Poles usually start the list of "nations" that oppressed Jews. This pride in European origin (which is denied as the origin) combined with hatred of Europeans makes a truly unique combination. They remind me the soccer ultras of Warsaw who channel their energies to make impressive and provocative displays on the side of the stadium of their team, Legia, including virtual banner the covers most of the stadium side. Tel-Aviv team was greeted with "Jihad Legia", but on other occasions displays included "We hate everybody", "Welcome in hell" and "God, save the fanatics". When you read comments in Jerusalem Post, ynetnews.com, Times of Israel, you can recognize the spirit.

      Concerning Mizrahim, they indeed resemble to social position of the "white trash" of southern states in USA, and apart for a small percentage of exception, they are nationalistic, follow either parties dominated by the elite (Ashkenazi seem to dominate political leadership quite thoroughly) or religious Shas which in turn is "Ashkenazified". This latter phenomenon is most puzzling, because they follow "European templates" that are totally backward.

      But the other similarity with "white trash" is that there is no hard separating line, there exists social mobility, intermarriage and so on, but to the degree that they form group consciousness, it is directed at the combo of minorities and liberals, or Arabs and "Ashkenazi leftists" (who are a small minority of Ashkenazis).

  • Israeli police and media collude to marginalize coverage of Muhammad Abu Khudair's murder
    • "The number of casualties doesn’t matter. What matter is the fact that over million Israelis (not only Jews but also Arabs and Bedouin) who are within 40 kilometers range from Gaza are being terrorized."

      The number actually matter. If the numbers were higher, the government of Israel would consider concessions that could end that situation, as it happened with Hezbollah. The key concession would be to refrain from periodic assassinations and other killings, something that would quickly restore "calm", and more solid concessions could remove the "theat" almost completely. As it happened with Hezbollah (Israel is still childishly performing sonic booms, but does not conduct assassinations, bombings, cross border killings, and Lebanese can engage in economic activity without interference from Israel, and would Hezbollah attack Israel out of the blue, which they can, they would loose a lot).

      But with numbers so low as they are, the permanent "crisis" in respect to Gaza is too convenient to end it.

  • 'Cycle of violence' is the new narrative (and inaccurate, but a step forward)
    • I think cycle of violence is an accurate statement, or perhaps "spiral of violence" since events never repeat in the same way. But violence is in a major part perpetuated by reactions to previous acts and methods, so a recognition of that is a necessary step in a proper description of what is going on, and in offering prescriptions.

      One could postulate that violence is a combination of social needs (insecurities etc.) with obnoxious ideas. And if we observe more clearly, we can see that ideas introduced by one side are adopted and incrementally expanded by the other side, and thus the conflict can spiral out or spiral in (additional to the obvious dynamic that acts in response to stresses felt by one side create stresses on the other).

      The cycle of violence paradigm posits we should seek the origin of the obnoxious ideas in the cycle, paying attention to the dynamic of innovation and imitation modification. However we characterize the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries in the aftermath of 1949, (voluntary but fostered by the governments or forcible) it WAS in the aftermath and it was an imitation/modification. Most currently we observe the idea that the GOOD way to redress certain kinds of deprivation is to inflict violence on random members of the "opponent community". In a cycle/spiral of violence that key idea is waxing or waning, so observing and explaining the dynamics of that idea is very important.

      But there is also more frequent use of "cycle of violence", which is that our side has good ideas and has to suffer the violence from the other side, which has bad ideas, until the time that the other side is eliminated (if ever). This is a static, incorrect view (in my humble opinion), so perhaps "spiral of violence" could be a better term.

    • There is nothing pejorative about Golden Horde, but non-capitalized hordes are disorganized and/or rapacious mobs etc. For example, when you mention a "horde of reporters" you imagine precisely the kind that are pests. And when you are in a museum, you prefer if the other people there do not come in hordes so you can take your time contemplating your favorite pieces.

      On the other hands, historically, invading hordes were very often fleeing persecution. Goths, fleeing from Huns, were invading Rome, trying their luck against the legions after getting whacked and so on.

  • Autopsy report shows Mohammed Abu Khdeir was burned to death; reports spread of other possible abductions
    • About prowling gangs. Once I stumbled on a quite surprising web page, and old member of a Polish nationalistic movement (often referred to as fascist) recalling the good old days to the youngsters, in the occasion of the death of Izaak Jeziernicki (a.k.a. Yitzhak Shamir), who was a leader of a similar Jewish movement, Betar, and ONR boys together with Betar boys were trashing Bund offices.

  • Senator Rand Paul pens over-the-top pander to pro-Israel crowd
    • A bit strange aspect of Rand's article. The comments seem to be against him, and hard to see any "moderate" comments. I only check the latest screenful. A person "Aristotelian1" seem doing most in attacking anti-Rand commenters. I started to wonder what standards are applied by National Review for deleting comments:

      • Reply•Share ›
      Avatar
      Aristotelian1 • a day ago
      Strangle the last Jihadi with the entrails of the last Prog.
      3 • Reply•Share ›
      Avatar
      This comment was deleted.

    • At last, Hillary may gaze into her magic window and boldly ask THE QUESTION: Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the least evil of them all? THE ANSWER: Your tongue is forked, your hands are stained, but you sometimes can make a good friend.

      Clearly, it requires more than 5 minutes to invent something appropriate for the "but" part.

  • After repeated calls for vengeance, Netanyahu urges Israelis to be 'cool-headed' and seek 'justice'
    • Not really. It is Avigdor, sorely tired of playing a nice diplomat, letting himself rant the way he likes. He is really out of the loop as far as decisions are concerned.

    • "not in our DNA"

      One can always blame Khazars.

      By the way, I think that mayhem administered by IDF is also "proper Zionist response" in the sense that classic, proper Zionist is very statist, and in recent years we have increasing elements of "messianic anarchism".

    • link to timesofisrael.com

      Incitement to mob violence was inadvertent. Clearly, the government wanted "proper Zionist response" with details yet to be spelled out, but performed orderly by the State. This response would be bloodier and more cruel by far, but masked in proper forms. Perhaps the drama of the search of possibly live victims somehow inflamed passions much more than intended. It may even happen that very, very Zionist Bnei Akiva movement will replace its "worldwide leader" for intemperate statements. Before checking what he said, just think what it would take to raised hackles among leaders of a "national modern orthodox Judaism" movement.

    • Ron Ben-Yishai regrets the murder of Abu Khdeir in ynetnews.com. I am sorry to say that this is perhaps most intelligent column on the topic that appeared there. link to ynetnews.com

      Absurdly, the Arab youth's murder and the Jewish riots and racist calls for revenge on the social media are seriously eroding the international legitimacy Israel enjoyed until 48 hours ago.

      With this legitimacy, Israel could have launched an operation in Gaza. Now, an operation in Gaza after Mohammad Abu Khdeir's murder will likely spark a major flare-up, not only in Judea and Samaria but also in Egypt and Jordan, and maybe even the Lebanese will be glad to forget about their internal quarrels for a moment and join the activity against Israel – diplomatic activity or, God forbid, violent activity.

      Gruesome as it is, the death of Abu Khdeir saved a lot of lives. It is also worth to ponder why the government of Israel needs "legitimacy" and dreads "delegitimization". Legitimacy as a weapon of mass destruction.

    • ... preliminary investigation into charges that education minister, Gideon Saar, had sexual liaisons with underage girls and women who he either supervised or who asked for help landing government jobs [cleared him]

      A good side of Netanyahu is that he has a highly energetic and alert wife that can nip in the bud any inclinations of that kind.

    • A modest person like Bibi would think that he is Hand if God. In any case, the guy is riding a tiger, if he would not show himself to be "tough", the public anger could turn on him. Angry Israelis are damn hard to please.

      From that point of view, the murder in Jerusalem gave Bibi a respite, he can go into "responsible statesman" mode while provoking only a modicum of anger.

  • A Selfie of the Potential Murderer as a Young Man
  • The rationality of Israel's War
    • Expectation that politicians, who are amply rewarded for playing with public emotions, are themselves rational, are all to often false.

      One would at least expect them to be calculating. Today I have read that British Chancellor of Exchequer (who would be Minister of Finance in other countries) foolishly stepped into a den of tigers, deceptively looking like cute English 7-year olds, and was taped while answering unscripted question. One particularly nasty youngster asked him how much is seven times eight. Lord Chancellor refused to answer.
      link to huffingtonpost.co.uk

    • Rav Marc: Her answer – “Militarism is insanity incarnate” – is wrong.

      I am not so sure. In Epicurean philosophy, one should not do unto others what we wouldn't like done to us fore the sake of our own happiness. Strife offers at beast fleeting pleasures. Clearly, the kidnapping (putative? let's go with preponderance of evidence) was a boon to Israeli government. Ministers from more centrist parties stopped threatening resignation (to their own relief), the topic of switched garden furniture became forgotten, and we have seen a lot of resolute actions and creativity. As usual, the public thirst for bloodshed increased, while only a minuscule number of Palestinians got killed, but with one or several private murders topping unsatisfactory official tallies that thirst may dissipate to manageable levels.

      Yet all of that seems like a resolute march to nowhere. Slight contradiction get magnified and require more contradictions. Israel needs a fence to be separated from terror. Then a substantial part of the population needs to be transplanted to the other side of the fence/wall. Now Israel needs a war going through a river and a sea, as water-walking fanatical hordes may materialize any minute. Apparently, Jordan can be crossed without wetting the feet, so far from ridiculous, the next wall is indispensable and once built, it will necessitate a construction of another wall to defend it. Next, salute to the independent Kurdistan! ?!?! Then contumely of folks of Tel-Aviv what want to break Shabbat with a greater ease, promptly put in their place by the Cabinet which, once again, was resolute.

      Analyzing the utterances emanating from GoI as if they were made by sane persons is not easy.

  • Chomsky supports portions of BDS agenda, but faults others, citing realism and int'l consensus
    • I see three points worth discussion:

      a. what is the value of realism?
      b. is the slogan of "sanctions" productive?
      c. is the right of return a right?

      Starting from a. realism cannot be accepted if it does not produce logically consistent description of reality. Chomsky had a number of outstanding contributions over the years, but his very success makes difficult for him to accept his limitations. He "helpfully" observes that war is even more effective than sanctions. Does it mean that we should just wait for the second Salah-ed-Din, spending our time doing something sufficiently innocent not to attract some unwanted attention of the powerful? To me, non-war solutions are preferable, and also, solutions that COULD work are preferable to solutions that CANNOT.

      b. Boycott and disinvestment alone will not solve the problem. Sanctions, or fear of sanctions may. Lack of fear, the conviction that Israel can get with anything, or that at the very least, patriotic leaders must probe how far they can go and still get away with it, is removing oxygen from putative moderate forces in Israel. For better or worse, Israel does not have capacity to consider doing X or refraining from doing Y just because X is right and Y is wrong. Instead the questions are: which is a more proper Zionist response to the situation, and what can Israel get away with. The perspective of "human rights" labels an Israel (or American Jew?) a member of Radical Left, moderate voices argue their points by claiming that Israel would not get away with doing otherwise. After decades of moderates being proven wrong, Israeli Jews have a choice of being radicals, idiots or right wingers. Sanctions have to be "on the table" as the only possible tool for the non-war and non-Aparheid solution.

      c. Right of return is a right, it is important to Palestinians. Israel is of course free to offer something of comparable value.

    • Page: 35
  • Turning blood into cement: Reflections on nationalist violence in wake of suspected revenge killing of Palestinian teen
    • Is "Judaism" in "total denial"?

      link to haaretz.com

      (On unrelated topic, someone questioned if a 21 year old women can be called a "youth", a word that to me suggested a person short of 40 years, but the "leader of National Zionist Youth Movement" in the linked article seems quite a bit older than that; but compared with his peers link to failedmessiah.typepad.com he may be a spring chicken.)

  • The world's sympathy cannot be limited to Israeli victims
    • I do not know where do you live, but if it is not a war zone, I do not see anything to justify inflammatory language like "human animals". It reminds me listening to a radio station while driving in NY/NJ area when someone in the talk show ranted why the state penitentiaries keep "the animals" in such ridiculously good conditions.

      That said, I visited Israel once, and based on unrepresentative anecdote I got impression that "common Israelis" trust their authorities to an unusual degree. It was a bit of a culture shock to me. If my unrepresentative observations are true (and they are corroborated by observations of comments on Israeli sites), people are unusually responsive to politicians' ranting. The world has more than enough of murders, but I am not sure where to find ruling politicians as irresponsible as in Israel. And then there is clergy...

      And they also rant about incitement. But back to you, Kay24, please do not sound like a member of a bloodthirsty mob.

    • Quick results of "web surfing":

      Israeli victims - 19 million hits

      Palestinian victims - 15.5 million hits

      "Negative control": Israeli girls - 32 million hits, Palestinian girls - 24 million

      "Double negative control": Polish girls - 50 million, Polish victims - 8 million.

      Thus Poland has a girl/victim ratio about 6, while Israel and Palestine around 1.5

      Even for Syria we get 40/8 = 5 ratio.

  • Photo Essay: Israeli soliders destroy Qawasmeh and Aisha family homes in retribution attack
    • In twenty years you may change the opinion.

      In some countries, "youth wings" of political parties are for folks under 40.

    • JERUSALEM — A body was found in a Jerusalem forest early Wednesday, about an hour after local Palestinians said an Arab teenager had been forced into a car in an East Jerusalem neighborhood, in what may have been an Israeli revenge attack after the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.

      Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said the police had received a report early Wednesday of a teenager being forced into a vehicle in the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina and immediately put up roadblocks to try to locate the vehicle. The body was discovered shortly afterwards in a forest near the entrance to Jerusalem. Mr. Rosenfeld said the police were investigating both criminal and nationalistic motives for the killing.

      Palestinian leaders held Israel responsible, while Israeli leaders called for restraint until the facts became clearer in an effort to calm the charged atmosphere. link to nyti.ms

    • Shingo, I wanted to comment on that, but I do not know from where you got the quoted text Can you explain that?

  • Slanted 'New York Times' story accepts Israeli blame of Hamas as fact
    • I would be less scornful. In particular, no sentence blames Hamas in the author voice. So rather than "accepts" it is "cites accusations without a cautionary comment".

  • Missing Israeli teens found dead near Hebron; Netanyahu: 'Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay'
    • During the operation "Pillar of something" a home was destroyed with an entire family in Gaza, and Israel was justifying it by the father being "Hamas employee" as a policeman. According to their crazy criteria, IDF can kill 10 people, 10 thousands, 100 thousands, all can be justified. So far, sometimes they kill 2, sometimes 10, sometimes a 1000.

      And then they pontificate about having "culture of life", one argument being that they COULD kill more. "If we wanted, we would make a gigantic parking lot". And that provokes howls of rage "why the anti-patriotic government did not make a parking lot?"

  • Dream and Reality in Israel/Palestine: Excerpt from Marc Ellis' 'Future of the Prophetic'
    • This is a marginal point, but why to write "an almost fascist dictatorship in Egypt". What aspect of a "fully fascistic dictatorship" is missing in Egypt? If you make a checklist what should you expect from fascistic dictatorship as opposed to autoritiarian or Communist, or an absolute monarchy, Egypt fits that in every important aspects. Fascism is also characterized by a penchant for public works, which is perhaps missing in Egypt, but I would put is as a less important aspects.

  • Can a neocon change his spots (and come back as a liberal interventionist for Hillary Clinton)?
    • Wrecking countries by fomenting civil wars is definitely cheaper and does not cost the blood of American soldiers, so it is a much more "liberal tool of international statecraft", but it remains a depraved and stupid practice.

      Most recently, I almost got hiccups when I read that Obama wants to bestow a modest amount of 0.5 G$ (0r 0.0005 T$) on "armed Syrian opposition, vetted for moderate inclination". From my readings it appears that the basic ideological division among armed groups in Syria is between religious fanatics (more prone for executing common folks for incorrect religion, deficient adherence to Sunni rules as they see them, and so on) and common brigands (kidnapping for ransom seems to be a notable line of business). So we can carefully check that weapons and cash will be delivered to brigands rather than fanatics, but the brigands are less organized and can loose or sell weapons to the fanatics.

      Most importantly, fanatics are coalescing a large coalition, and the opponents are short of cash, men and charisma (Maliki is exhibit 1 of low charisma). Tilting the scales for their victory is utterly disastrous idea. And American aid is truly modest, real money are from the Gulf and Turkey (perhaps Turkey is just a conduit, and I would not be surprised if some hands are greased with a modest percentage of billions that cross their borders). The most important aspect of American aid is that it gives blessing and green light to Turkey and Gulfies.

      This is a classic imperialist approach, going back at least to banana wars in Central America in 1950s, so criticizing it is a bit like going against beloved texts for 1-st graders (nursery rhymes?). Figuring out who are "our bastards" and who are "their bastards" and finding ways to support our guys is the standard workout, something that US government does almost by instinct. But back in the good days of banana wars, leftist radicals were clearly " theirs, and military fascist and local petty plutocrats were reliably ours. Nowadays we pay cash to the same people whom we shoot at when they cross a border, so win or loose, it is a given that they will hate us (for our freedoms, of course), and that they will be valiant, experienced in battle and superbly trained in making improvising bombs, and very neurotic (PSD). They alumni of those crazy war seem to have some penchant for shooting at Jewish religious at cultural institutions (and they shoot well). But even non-denominational pasttimes like Maraton races can be targetted as well.

  • 'Haaretz' conference trumpets tired word 'Peace' (when the only solution is 'equality')
    • I think replacing "tired" words is, to some degree, an illusion of activity.

      I have some personal favorites, but "changing brands" should not be done too often. For example, I would favor "oppression" over "apartheid", but "apartheid" is the name used in an international treaty and it evokes a successful instance of Boycott, Disinvestment, Sanctions.

      The problem with "equality" is that it evokes mixed feelings. Should there be rich and poor or not? Should resident aliens have equal rights as citizens? Some would hold for maximum equality, some not and it is not what is most important in this context. "Fairness" is better, but of course, it is in the eye of beholder, some people (including many Zionist) think that "vae victis" is a fair principle (tough noogies for the defeated, Latin is more concise that English).

      Peace is kind of opposite to mayhem, so it is less controversial. Many Zionist, of vae victis camp, oppose peace, and they are basically proponents of "freedom to commit mayhem".

      Unfair peace simply cannot happen. The best what Zionist and/or neocon writers could offer as how that could happen (in their language, peace that would fully incorporate "concerns" of Israel) is "reducing unrealistic expectations of the Palestinians". It would be a good work-out to collect a few of such articles, and the cited sources of such expectations, that range from Saddam Hussein, Iran, BDS movement to EU. Other recommended method was "crushing Palestinian spirit". Duh.

      Even so, "unrealistic expectations" are a problem, and currently the expectations in Israel are so unrealistic that the government is not able to produce any peace offer. There is also a notion circulated in the circles of "professional peace makers" of "settlements that in all possible treaties of Israel with Palestinians would remain in Israel". This is nonsense. Current initiative of major EU countries is useful in that respect, namely, how they define settlements where it is illegal to facilitate economic activity.

      The "professional peace makers" like Ross, Indyk, Blair did a lot to make the notion of "peace" distastful, but theirs were ersatz efforts, not genuine.

  • 'J Street has to change or die': Divestment battle exposes tactical rift among liberal Zionists
  • Israeli officials threaten return to Intifada-era policy of demolishing suspects' homes
    • I recall that after Abu Ghraib scandal, Iranian parliament outlawed the use of torture, perhaps less pompously than Israel, but the progress is more limited: fewer people are beaten to death than before. But they do not use the "ticking bomb" excuse.

      In both cases it is actually debatable if the countries are proud of outlawing torture. I did not notice it on achievement lists that frequently appear in the press. On one hand, it does not sound glorious at all. On the other, a substantial part of government supporters wishes the use of torture to continue.

  • Israel announces identity of suspected kidnappers, still no evidence of abduction made public
    • "That’s central to my point Shmuel – that Israel’s moral superiority goes without saying..."

      To the contrary, Israeli moral superiority is a topic that is perhaps a favorite subject of numerous articles, sermons etc. There are so many facets of that superiority that one could research the topic for a year and write a fat book. For example, Jews, unlike some other nations, did not practice human sacrifice (what is remarkable is that a rabbi filled most of his column making the moral superiority claim centered on that theme). One group of the themes is what is it that only Israel does. There were two columns with lamentations that Mrs. Amina Abbas, the wife of Mahmud Abbas, had a knee operation around the time of kidnapping, and was not taken hostage by Israel "as any other nation would do". The morose conclusion was that Israel is too moral for her good.

    • "Israel is not reacting any more severely than any other country would in its position."

      For example, when Greenlanders riot against Danish Royal Forces (or whatever the name of Danish colonial troops is), the Danes respond with live ammunition. Somehow, I doubt it. Could you give a link to support that assertion? If possible, to an OECD country other than Turkey, and if not, a country that is not under sanctions by US government and has GNP per person higher than China.

    • I would assume that the announcement is true, the question is: what does it mean.

      The identity of the suspects was know to Shin Beth even before kidnapping, because they were detained and interrogated before. So even before the kidnapping Shin Beth had a list of several hundred suspects. The mystery is how those two became the main suspects.

      One possibility is that they match a description of people seen bear the last place where the teens were seen, or some other type of evidence. The second possibility is that out of the long initial list those two remained at large. I suspect the latter, but perhaps we should wait few more days.

  • What Comes Next: Five Palestine futures
    • Actually, there is a scheme for a just partition. There are two people and one cake. Someone has to cut it, and how to assure that the cut is as equitable as possible: one person cuts, the second person picks the part of his choice.

      For example, Israelis claim that they have incredibly strong connections to all kinds of places in the West Bank, like Jericho that they conquered using loud noise and so on, so perhaps they would prefer Judea and Samaria, and give Palestinians lands to the west of the Green Line (or the current separation wall).

    • I war referring to the number "22" which is tossed when they deny "the need for a Palestinian state, but "22" includes the Palestinian state as a member of Arab League. So as an argument, it makes no logical sense. All nationalistic ideologies must incorporate some delusions, Zionist peculiarity is that they keep adding new ones.

    • "As such, they have no need for another state as already 22 Arab states exist. "

      This is indeed an oft repeated Zionist trope, with somewhat hilarious vulnerability. It typically is used like that "why is it necessary to have independent Palestine if there are already 22 Arab states". If you are somewhat conversant with geography, the number of 22 is puzzling. While a very nice number, a doubling of 11 which is a prime and so on, try to count with your mental map of North Africa and Middle East and you will never reach 22. Do they count each of the United Arab Emirates separately? No, that would be too much (I encourage less geographically inclined to do that exercise with an actual map). Part of the answer is that Djibuti, Somalia and Comoros are in the Arab League, as well as Mauritania and Sudan (with Arab majorities, but easy to skip) but it still falls short! Zionist girls and boys, the number of 22 includes Palestine, so if 22 Arab states are OK with you, you are OK with Palestine.

  • Reform Jews offer no proposal to end occupation, says Jewish Voice for Peace
    • "... it is essential for the Israel lobby to be a monolith, to speak in one voice ..."

      But that is not really possible. I described it here as Zionism piano (Forward, pianissimo, J-Street, piano) and Zionism forte (ZOA, Boateach). For example, observe that when Eisner of Forward recited her shiboleth of concern about Presbyterians, she threw in a gratuitous insult against Netanyahu (gratuitous in the sense that she did not explain why Netanyahu argument was clumsy). The Zionist right both here in American and in Israel detests Obama, Kerry, and basically all non-ultra-Zionist Democrats (including Debbie Schwartz), which cannot but dampen the liberals' zeal in doing their share of work for the lobby when it most clearly contradicts Administration policies (say, on Iran and Syria). We have old schema of the liberal wing viewing the right wing as idiots who, if educated, wasted their college years and just got worse as the years go by, and the right wing viewing the liberals as elitist traitors to the cause.

      For example, once again Netanyahu is pushing for Iran policy that would be totally at variance with American national interest. I expect another round of recriminations, and lobbying by right wingers alone.

    • Is Judaism today like Shinto before 1945? Of course, not all followers believe in the ideas of The Way of A Warrior, but the same was probably true in Japan.

  • Jeffrey Goldberg leads the charge on latest BDS smear: Presbyterian Church divestment is anti-Semitic because David Duke supports it
    • One could make a generalization that in the history of racism, period 1850-1945 have seen a steady rise, although the phenomenon is definitely longer in duration. Perhaps before French revolution it was mostly the thinking of nobility (who regarded EVERYBODY ELSE as lesser races) and colonialists. Wagner was not particularly known for his writing and the influence of his writing is not attested. Nazis definitely needed rousing symbols of "pure Germanic art" and hardly needed any help in developing their ideas. The morbid radicalization is most simply attributed to the great wars, and in a much lesser extend, depressions that affected Germany. To a degree, I stand corrected, "Jewishness in Music" is pretty nasty.

      But was it very nasty? Is there any singling out? Would Wagner be remarkable if he kept his tone, switch topics and publish columns in Hebrew?

    • There is also Christian schmaltz, made of pig fat. Traditional Jewish schmaltz was made of goose fat, in those days free ranging chicken were rather lean.

      And the "Christian schmaltz" is not sui generis but Adeps suillus or Axungia Porci (in other words, it is not made of itself, sui, but from a pig, suillus). And, according to my web sources, "everybody can make it easily at home".

    • Wagner died before Hitler was born, and according to Wikipedia, it is questionable if he was anti-Semitic, and he was surely not a virulent anti-Semite. If Hitler was motivated by Wagner, it is not Wagner's fault. Der Ring may stoke nationalism by extolling purely Germanic myth and so on, but what is the message?

    • I think the Example Number One of guilt by association is Richard Wagner, who became anatema to many (mostly, Jews) on the account of being admired by Hitler.

      Then there was an idiot who wrote an entire book proving that liberals are fascists, with arguments like: many liberals are vegetarian, and Hitler was a vegetarian (I kid you not), Nazis were for socialized medicine and public transit, and so on. I think that to this guy, Hitler was a person who had many good ideas but, unfortunately, was a vegetarian, liked public transit and socialized medicine.

  • 'About 60,000 Americans were murdered' by Palestinians in Israel, says Shmuley Boteach
    • After providing a kabbalistic proof that Shmuel Boteach is a chubby idiot I would like to provide some arguments for those who are not mystically inclined. Recently he embark on a tour of Europe and the he penned the digest of his unhappy experiences in Times of Israel link to blogs.timesofisrael.com

      Once there, he managed to explain to his audiences that Jews do not use sheets with holes while engaging in "kosher sex". He also tried to explain why we should all admire and support Israel, and that was not as successful. So he came to the only European country that voted against the admission of Palestine to UN General Assembly. In his words "The Czech Republic is considered friendly to Israel, given their history of being the object of appeasement to Hitler’s insatiable appetite. But that did not stop a government official telling me, respectfully, that Israel’s stealing Palestinian land had alienated most of Europe. When I reminded him that Israel had actually conquered the West Bank in a defensive war launched by Jordan, had offered to create a Palestinian state there more times than one could count, and the Palestinians had responded with a terror wave that killed thousands of Israelis, he told me that none of that mattered. He had negative feelings toward Israel."

      So Jordan launched a defensive war? In any case, Boteach has the ability of exasperating even a polite diplomat from a very friendly country.

    • I think Harold Bloom observed that numbers have much more profound uses in the Bible than mere counting. It usually goes like that: you translate "Shmuel Boteach is a chubby idiot" into Hebrew and that give each letter a numeric value according to Lurianic kabbalistic principles, add them up and presto! 60,000.

  • 'Forward' editor says Presbyterian vote was anti-Semitic
    • yonah: "The demographic that needs to endorse seriousness regarding the occupation needs to be real supporters of Israel..."

      Why? This is a self-defeating approach. A dynamic of group thinking is that most people align their views with the perceived majority. Within Israel, this dynamic pushes the majority to increasingly intolerant attitudes. Now we create a larger group that incorporates American Jews (their friends should defer to their wisdom) but we dismiss those who are not "real supporters". And so constructed group imports Israeli intolerance. So you can conceive a scenario than an enlightened 2-state policy could find a majority acceptance in your group of "real supporters" and then something good will happen, but this is not how it works.

      The way I see it, you as a real supporter of Israel have the best chances with people who are indifferent to Israel or worse. The idea of universal rights of people gives sufficient contours. Once you start policing people who follow that idea for some phony type of anti-Semitism, you are a useful idiot of ZOA (this is how I see Eisner). And whatever "the crowd at Mondoweiss" thinks about Eisner and you, ZOA crowd detests you guys with passion, something you should consider.

    • I am not sure if Eisner would recoil at my language. The fact that most Jewish organizations (or Major Jewish Organizations) have very highly paid executives, generous donors and very opaque ways of choosing their leaders is known to us from -- Forward. And how does 99% of Hillel chapters operate? Student grass root organizations? With centrally established rules, ideology, professional training about talking points and so on, and they should obey or they loose financial support, and thus they would have to pay from their own student pockets for this or that (no more free Friday night dinners?).

      And we know how lines are drawn and how heretics who cross them are excommunicated. We have seen a very nice show how Christie asked for forgiveness (I concede that Jewish Republican donors are especially particular in their demands, especially Sheldon Adelson), how Metropolitan Opera was brought to submission (which verges on weird, Opera is a favorite charitable cause of rich New Yorkers) and most recently, the poor chap Oldman, and we have also seen the witch trial of J-Street (when the biggest puzzle was why they want to be recognized as a Major Jewish Organization).

      The situation of Forward is more subtle because "as the core of the Jewish literati establishment" they have something to loose, but they are already detested by ZOA types and the feeling is mutual and open. But even on the liberal end of "organized Jewish community" the tolerance has distinct limits. When a children's museum in Oakland was muzzled, I suspect that it was done by "liberals", I do not see the likes of Sheldon Adelson contributing there anyway. Something similar happened in NYC, but the censorship was accomplished almost singlehandedly by one rich Jewish gay anti-Muslim donor. Collecting scalps seems to be a tribal sport, when the elders gather at their fires and pass the pipe along, they also show their trophies (sorry, not THAT tribe).

      Thus there is a lot of fear out there. Part of it is a general affectation of American establishment: you are either Mainstream, or Outsider (a radical, a crank, or both). Only Mainstream opinions count. Thus the importance of what NYT deigns to report, and what it deigns not -- this is a veritable battle of Mainstream Heights.

    • On the topic of marine organisms and "not singling out Israel", eating seafood is more complicated than ever. You should care not to eat from over-depleted fisheries, without harming dolphins, and apparently, without using products of slave labor which is widely used in Thailand. I inspected my packets of shrimp: mercifully, from Vietnam, where even if forced labor is used, it would be for the cause of re-education, mackerels are from China (ditto), but tuna cans from Thailand. I inspected cans in my supermarket, and they are either marked "make in Thailand" or are "distributed", so who knows where they are from. How to get, or substitute, ethical tuna cans?

    • I think that people like Eisner are cursed by they craving to remain in "Jewish community". In an abstract, nothing wrong, but that community is dominated by rich people who collect badges of importance by being supporters of Israel and witch hunters of "anti-Semitism". Forward as a magazine has a lot of good articles, but the corollary is that they eke their existence at the barely tolerated edge of the "Jewish community", always in danger of being demoted to ex-communicated radicals. Only the rites like joining solemn condemnations when required by the community keep them from being "Goldstoned". So congrats, Ms. Eisner, Forward will survive another year. And, one the bright side, look at cephalopods: intelligent, thriving, spines are so unnecessary.

    • I would use a different term than "whataboutery". According to professional anti-anti-Semites, the term anti-Semitism cover a plethora of thought crimes, one of them being "singling out". However, however acutely perceived, "singling out" is not always easy to prove. I can give example from my own life:

      I live in a college town which is particularly moribund between Spring and Summer semester. During such time I was fined 60 bucks for bicycling in the wrong direction in a one-way alley where only three persons were present: the policeman and two bicyclists (both guilty as charged). Even today I am somewhat irate when I think about it, but the objective fact is that the other bicyclist profusely apologized why I was rather surly. Thus the policeman had other motivation than personal animus, and appreciation of the contrition is a legitimate legal reason. Of course, it helps that it is hard to proceed in the wrong direction in more or less aggravating manner.

      On another occasion I was singled out in a less excusable manner: I was 15 minutes late to move my car away from the street during the time when parking was prohibited for the sake of "street cleaning". Several other offenders were present, my car was the only one with the ticket and the only one with out-of-state plate. Should the blind justice be lured by territorial solidarity? Perhaps not.

      Thus group solidarity can sway judgement, but Eisner should also examine herself: did she examine benign reasons for Israel being singled out, or was her own judgement swayed? "they singled out only Israel’s actions, troubling though they may be, at a time when the region is aflame with tribal violence, they did hold one nation to a standard that others are not obliged or expected to meet."

      This statement is moot in respect of countries that are subjected to US sanctions that are magnitudes more severe than whatever Presbyterians could affect. Other than that, are there benign reasons to expect more from some countries than from other? For example, members of OECD? And what OECD countries can be charged with abuses that rely on products of US corporations, and are comparable with Israeli abuses?

  • Oldman says Hollywood is 'run by Jews,' then offers over-the-top apology
    • I, Galileo, son of the late Vincenzo Galilei, Florentine, aged seventy years, arraigned personally before this tribunal, and kneeling before you, Most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinals, [...] I must altogether abandon the false opinion that the sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the earth is not the center of the world, and moves [...] with sincere heart and unfeigned faith I abjure, curse, and detest the aforesaid errors and heresies

      eppur si muove

    • "An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews invented Hollywood."

      This is a very good example for the coming book by piotr "Idiot's guide to anti-Semitism" (unless piotr will not be accepted, perhaps a new series is needed, like "Explanations for mentally slow: XXX". Clearly, the claim that Jews invented Hollywood is not anti-Semitic per se, and neither is the claim that "Jews run Hollywood". It is not even singling-out: of all ethnicities running Hollywood ... that person did not mention Livonians, Parsis, Chinese, just Jews" -- whom are we kidding? This is an excellent example of BEGRUDGING. It is OK to be proud (if you are a Jew) or admire (if you are not), but if hint that you do not like it, or you do not like some of its consequences, this is begrudging. Appropriately, the letter of apology basically states that Oldman LOVES the fact that Jews run Hollywood, which may be tad over the top, but admiration is not on the crime-thought list.

  • In life and death, some are more equal than others at the 'NYT'
    • Perhaps he meant that one of the boys was of military age. I think it is impossible that he was on active duty, and clearly too young to finish his service.

  • Israel maintains gag order in missing teens' case, leading to charge of media 'manipulation'
    • The serious stuff perhaps already started. You should observe that like in Thailand, the government enjoys a large degree of popularity, BUT this popularity is by no means geographically uniform. It was already reported that in some provinces, to arrest a person the military launches an expedition as it cannot rely on local police. The reports from the benighted hinterland are very scarce and only the most serious incidents would be reported. And for starters, where are those hundreds absentee accused condemned to death? Well, in provinces where any arrest attempt would be clumsily ponderous and thus futile, and where perhaps we have "shadow administrations".

    • Re: Proof that Israeli abuses eventually migrate to the U.S.: Obama cites Israeli Supreme Court to justify killing Americans without trial. (lysias)

      Determination of the migration of ideas is a tricky business. One would need to be more precise. Idea of using assassinations? I would argue that the American government started to use them before any significant Israeli influence. Idea of using assassinations against own citizens? I would argue that Israel is actually very reticent on that point, so perhaps a more convincing source was the assiduous study of the activities of Soviet government and its allies. As Cold War unfolded, techniques of the opponent would be copied if there was a belief that they give "an edge". More recently, our government was morbidly fascinated by the "techniques" of the most stable regimes in the Middle East.

    • The evidence that the child was purposely killed by Syrian military seems as solid as the evidence that settler teens were kidnapped by Hamas.

    • Perhaps we cannot escape our inner tribalist. My first observation of that kind was when I was a wee lad in Communist Poland and one day there were huge front page titles about 10 Polish civilian sailors killed by American bombs in Haiphong. Not that Americans should kill them, but weren't there tens of thousands of bombardment victims in that period (I can be off by some zeroes). (Obviously, it was a very mild case of the tribal sensitivity, because the propaganda about the Vietnam war was obviously very sympathetic to North Vietnam). So Sisi killed thousands of protesters, his mad judges are dispensing death sentences by hundreds, and that merits smaller font than three members of the journalist tribe. I a way it is natural, but as a non-journalist, I am a bit annoyed too.

      I am wondering if Egypt is progressing toward civil war. Historically, Egyptian are somewhat less prone to lethal violence than, say, Syrians or Sudanese. But meting hundreds of death sentences in absentia seems like a decisive step that can change that, truly suicidal idiocy.

    • Actually, it was a busy week when the teens were kidnapped, with 80 Turks (half diplomatic personel, half truck drivers) and 40 Indians captured as hostages by ISIS. Israel decided to bomb Syrian targets, presumably to aid ISIS and allegedly as a retribution for someone, rebels of government troops, shooting at an Israeli position in Syria.

      India, with billion people and with low-caste victims can be excused for not getting overly upset, but Turkey has more kidnap victims per capita than Israel, and half of them civil servant rather than truck drivers, hitchhikers or other riffraff. With obliviousness not being an option, the government announced that it will do everything in its power, and one thing was truly awesome: total ban on the media discussing the case. The ban is in force for a week and it works. I do not see articles on that case in English even outside Turkey. Needless to say, apart for that awesomity, we have no idea what the government of Turkey is doing. Do they frown? Do they deplore?

  • Victory's unintended consequences
    • "But if I were in the Israeli government I would think twice about pouting."

      But your are not! GoI is pouting, harrumphing, stripping PCUSA of the rank of "constructive participant in the peace process".

  • 'Washington Post' suggests Presbyterians voted against Jews and peace
    • Fatwa pronounced by Israeli embassy: "It removes its ability to be a constructive partner to promote peace in the Middle East. "

      That hurts. I imagine a humiliating scene in which the highly coveted badges of "constructive partner" is ripped from Church cassocks. Oh Piotr, your imagination is deficient: they do not have cassocks. So the humiliating scene unfolds as follows: a book in folio lies on an ornate desk, with golden letters on its leather cover: Honor roll of the constructive partners. As cameras roll and flash lights flash, the booked is opened, and at length, the page with entries starting with "Pr" is showed, and the entry "Presbyterian Church of USA" is ceremoniously deleted. A gravelly voiced booms: Organized Jewish Community is deeply disappointed.

      On the other hand, how many times did European Union loose its ability to be a constructive partner? They just seem to do it again and again. The exalted position of the constructive partner is not without risks, as it is very easy to fall from those heights.

  • One killed in protests as Israeli army takes control of Ramallah city center for first time since 2007
    • Catholicism dominates Polish politics and while it is not something to be thrilled about, it is not an end of the world. Religion as a "major player in politics" is not a static fixture. If you have rank nationalists, the results are not nice whether they are Shinto, Christian, Jews, Buddhists, Hindu, Muslim animists (examples are easy to find). "On a good day" all those religions are nice. When we overly focus on a relatively superficial aspect like "Islam", we are prone to conclusions that murderous fascists, like the current regime in Egypt (check the death toll and the number of death sentences) are preferable to the dreaded "political Islam".

    • When you have a war of ideas, you also have a fog of war, friendly fire etc. I salute your manly attitude. By the way, wife beating is not the only type of abuse of interests. Abuse of maids and other help in Netanyahu household was described a number of times, and it can even be germane to the current situation. For example, Netanyahu could be motivated in blowing up the kidnapping out of proportion to divert the attention from the "affair of switched garden furniture". Of course, a more statesmanship related motivation was that the coalition was wobbly, with Bennet and Likud crazies railing for annexation, settlement expansion or other ways to drive the stake through the heart of the peace process (not allowed, but an unwelcomed zombie), and Lapid recriminating the lack of seriousness in the peace process, but it is a hard call which need was not pressing. I guess that everybody in Israeli establishment needed a change of pace from assorted problems that they had. Take Lapid: it is nice to say something about the peace zombie, one needs to show that he or she is not a clone or a puppet, but then one had to decide to what extend he or she means that. Unless the topic of interest changes, and the problem goes away.

    • I think that understand those concept, it is more that they do not approve those concept. Although the level of understanding of how the world works seems to be sketchy. For example, the current issue of ynetnews.com has a nice gamut of opinion. Some of it is critical of the government as doing silly stuff (if you truly believe that you can find the kidnapped boys, do not divert soldiers to massive deployments in areas where you do not believe that those boys are), but some critiques, as usual, are for being freier, soft and so on. But consider this: link to ynetnews.com
      "[countries around] would not allow themselves to be suckers like we are. If Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' wife, Umm Mazen, had undergone surgery in a hospital located in the heart of one of their main cities while their citizens were kidnapped, it's hard to believe that she would have returned home safely so fast."

      I am ready to give Noah Klieger, the author, 10,000 shekels if he gives me example of a wife of head of state taken from the hospital as a hostage by state authorities (rather than some ISIS gang etc.), say, in the last 100 years. This is a type of stupidity that I learned to expect from Zionist press. While most opinion pieces are not as stupid, the commenting readers clearly like the most rank idiocy most.

    • I agree that this was not a thoughtful remark, but Walid refers to widely known facts that when a population experiences some frustrations, say, massive layoffs, it increases substance abuse, domestic violence etc. My private theory is that that aspect is totally ignored when we discuss effects of long civil wars, and large segments of the population are borderline insane or worse. This is discussed only in the context of OUR WAR VETERANS, but Afghans, Syrians, Iraqis do not have post-traumatic stress syndrome, they are in constant stress, and it shows. I am not sure what happens to wives in "war regions", but I would conjecture that they do not fare too well. Historically, the impact of a long civil war on human interactions was described by Hobbes in the context of the English civil war in 1650s, so the effects are similar for Muslim and Anglicans.

      The impact on Israel is harder to predict because the stress there stems mostly from the propaganda of fear, rather than actual mayhem. Because in actuality nothing much happens (in terms of mayhem affecting Israelis), this creates a combination of paranoia and complacency that is challenging to analyze.

    • I was thinking more on sound effect. The best song I know on the theme "preventative self-defense", "I shot the sherif", has a beautiful chorus "O no no!" link to youtube.com
      (but in a later performance, the chorus merely sings sceptically "Oo oo oo").

    • This is Middle East, and the holy city of three religions, Jerusalem. The question is not "why strive toward apocalypse" but how (or whose). What will hasten the arrival of return of Messiah, Mossiach, al-Mahdi, Hidden Imam and so on. For example, a former president of Iran was urging is compatriots to observe Ramadan better than even to ... hasten the demise of the Zionist entity. (In case you are slow or dense, the rules of this game are: who gets his earthly representative of God first, wins everything.) The entire issue of nuclear enrichment was but a subterfuge, diverting the attention from the true plans. A sensible countermeasure would be to disturb the Ramadan observances -- which seems the current goal of security operation in the West Bank.

    • "Inquiring minds would wonder about the synchrony of an all out military operation in the territories being planned and the subsequent, fortuitous kidnapping."

      The simple answer is that plans for a wave of repressions in occupied territories may well predate the occupation, and surely do not post-date it by much, and they are simply continually updated. If anything, the repressions are milder than in the old days, but old war horses are surely chomping at the bit. For example, it was reported recently that during debate on instituting force feeding for hunger strikers, the intelligence voices were proponents, while the military was against, "trusting that they would be able to handle any security situations stemming from deaths of the hunger strikers".

      This made me think that provoking "The Third Intifada" was really in the plans, and if anything, the kidnapping (or disappearance) of the three boys made an unwanted and inconvenient complication. Deaths of hunger strikers would be followed by a traditional unambiguously terrorist revenge and IDF would get "mandate" for much harsher "security operations". More dead, arrested etc. in the first hour than we have seen in the first week. As it is, smart alecs among the Leftist Fifth Column (Ha'aretz) already criticize the operations as pointless, i.e. not advancing the goal of finding the boys. Avenging a barrage of rockets or an explosion at a bus stop is much simpler. A more centrists source pointed out that the incident came just in time to divert the public opinion from the newest affair in the household of the Prime Minister. That led Israel HaYom (Adelson's rag) to lament that nobody pays attention to the good deeds of Mrs. Prime Minister like visiting the families of the kidnapped boys (her popularity seems to be at par with Lady MacBeth, in spite of efforts by Israel HaYom's).

    • Well, this is what Yonah wrote.

    • I think that there is unequivocal evidence that the government of Israel is flailing irrationally. Even if one accepts their version of the events, that it is necessary to dismantle the "terrorist infrastructure" by closing all Hamas-related preschools etc. and arresting all sympathizers, and trashing Hamas-related institutions like, say, hardware stores, is a necessary self-defensive measure, how to explain trashing offices of foreign news organizations link to rt.com.

      That could be just soldiers on the scene loosing their cool, but when the Cabinet enacts such silly measures like reducing the time Hamasnik prisoners can spend outside their cells to two hours, it is clear that they are going bonkers. And that undermines the credibility of their announcements. (Assuming that we gave them full credibility, and we judge them solely on the basis of the news from the last week.)

    • In bad old days, various things were done to black neighborhoods, and IDF did not go that far this time. link to en.wikipedia.org

      In 21-st century the competition for the "most racist nation" is not as wide as before, but Israel is not the only one, so one has to structure the rules of competition in a "biased fashion". For example, where governments do not event pretend to be non-racists, and in the instances it does so, however half-heartedly, is massively condemned in the press.

      Under "racism" I also put "communalism", or what is called "communal" in Indian press. For example, recently there was a serious bloody riot in Sri Lanka led by Buddhist monks against Muslim, and while all the involved are of the same racial profile, they form distinct communities, so it would be called a "communal riot". The press in the capital condemned the police that did not defend the Muslim, the government pretends that it did the best possible, so, advantage Israel.

      But we could also focus on the dollar amounts of destroyed property and the number of fatal victims and declare that current communal activity by Israel are falling short compared with Sri Lanka. But I do not know how to set the rules to give Israel advantage over Burma, except for some arbitrary threshold, like "category of countries with GDP/capita above 2000 dollars".

  • Israeli soldiers have killed 3 Palestinians in week since teens went missing
    • According to Wikipedia, the ancestral home of "Bnei Menashe" is on Tibetan Plateau (currently, they live in the mountainous region between India and Burma), so it would be interesting to see if their Middle Eastern ancestry can be confirmed by the study of mitochondrial DNA or Y-chromosomes.

  • What evidence is there that teens were abducted?
    • The problem with terror motivation is that concerning Hamas, they are currently busy restoring the ability of Gaza to import goods without Israeli control, which necessitates agreeing to PA control and patching an agreement with a very hostile government of Egypt. The only plausible attribution to an organized group would be a splinter group.

      But a splinter group could also do something simple, like a shooting, IED or even spikes on the highway. Hard to see any "added value" from a complex plot of kidnapping.

      While "alternative explanations" were not true in Fogel case, one should remember that the culprits were not tied to any organization, but had personal revenge motifs. IDF focused investigation on their village precisely because those motifs were clear (settlers harrassing and killing in that village). Hamas had nothing to do with motivating and directing those young people. Here the additional complication is that a kidnapping would be much easier for a Jewish Israeli.

    • Roseanne Roseannadanna would graciously say "Never mind" when pointed out that she spouted nonsense, and thus we can recognize that she was a fictitious character with no resemblance to any actual people.

    • It is a bit hard to see what kidnappers could learn from disclosed details that they do not know. Like if there is only one person, he or she knows that he or she is alone. More importantly, the information could be passed to officials in friendly governments that have top security clearances, say the French and the Americans, and there were no indication that convincing information was relayed.

      I am convinced that a lot of information that Israeli intelligence have are like maps of Martian canals. If you stare very hard, you see patterns, but sometimes there is no reality in those patterns.

    • Excommunication does not have the bite it used to have.

      Being a member of community once meant that oath made to you are valid, so once out, you cannot collect any debt (ouch if you were a merchant or tradesman), your vassals can ignore you (big ouch if you were a feudal lord), and so on. Now you can use the community facilities, attend the conference of "Leaders of Major Organizations" and so on, but I am not aware of any writer here (or commenter) who uses such perks of belonging to "Organized Jewish Community".

      Of course, there is also aggravated excommunication that includes heckling of bar mitzvahs. But Yonah is too nice to go that far.

    • I am not sure how universal that can be. There was a famous incident of Palestinians and international supporters organizing a joint bike tour in West Bank that was forcibly stopped by IDF, with the commanding officer manhandling some participants manu propria, I am not 100% sure but I guess a girl could bike in Ramallah without a problem. Rural areas and Gaza would be different.

      I live in an area with a number of Amish settlements, it is an anabaptist sect with various restrictions to prevent "worldliness". Thus Amish do not drive, may take rides, may ride horses and horse carriages, and here it is interesting: bicycles are forbidden and line skates are OK. So you can drive on a rural road, pass a horse carriage and little later, a girl with a full-length dress and a bonnet, skating. link to jbaber.sdf.org
      On edit: this is also allowed:
      link to silverfishlongboarding.com

    • Actually, why the geographic spread of IDF operation is wide, by their standards they are quite restrained, I guess that Israel got some Euro-American warnings not to overdo it. As long as the actions resemble police operations and "self-defense", IDF will get away with it, but atrocities in the style of 2nd Intifada would quickly backfire. And given pretty crazy talk in the Cabinet and Knesset, even Israeli commentators caution to keep the operation within certain bounds.

    • yonah, let us examine what was reported:

      a. the boys left their homes, said that they will hitchhike, I never read at what time

      b. at 10:30 pm one of them made a phone call, conversation took 2 minutes, he whispered "we are kidnapped", not clear what took the rest of the time, on hold? he did not say by whom or in what kind of place they are

      c. the uncle of one of the boys claimed that IDF is briefing them daily and has "indications" that the boys are alive

      d. the searches conducted by Israeli forces seem totally out of focus, starting from Hebron area all across West Bank

      e. Israeli authorities claim to thwart 30 (or 60, according to Kerchner) kidnapping plots

      f. Israel did not make any trials of thwarted kidnappers

      g. Compared with other states, Israel is unusually paranoid about kidnapping (a comparison below)

      My impression is that Israeli command of military and police was absolutely convinced that Hamas will "once again" perpetrate a kidnapping. Thus they classified assorted behaviors as preparation for kidnapping, which explains the stats, but those behaviors were sufficiently non-specific to prevent prosecution, even in Israeli military justice system where you can use secret proofs (which do not have to be as solid as proofs required in more adversarial systems). In the same time, military wing of Hamas is a rather secretive organization and you cannot determine their intentions by following chats on their web sites. I am inclined to think that Israeli command and government really believes that some radical Palestinian cell committed the kidnapping here, but I do not see that as any indicator that this is really the case. Thus I disregard info based on suppositions of Israeli intelligence, whether passed to the distraught families or foreign governments (the families seem to trust it, foreign governments, not so much).

      On the basis of the phone call etc. it seems to me that it the kidnapping would be easiest for an Israeli settler, then for other Israeli Jews, and so on, and most difficult for a Palestinian. If they boys were forced to enter a vehicle on gunpoint, then probably they would be immediately restrained and would not use phones, so probably they were offered a ride and initially were not restrained. This implies a vehicle with Israeli license plates and the driver/passengers speaking decent Hebrew.

      The most cardinal aspects of the case are mysterious. Who was the last person who have seen the boys? At what hour did they come to the popular hitchhiking junction, and did anyone see them coming and/or leaving? Where did they make the famous call?

      The kidnapper could be a person motivated by sadism or other sexual urge, petty revenge (an Israeli estranged father killed two children as a revenge on his ex-wife, weird stuff like that happens), necrophilia and so on. It could even be one-person "black flag operation", mentally disturbed people pick the memes circulating around them, like "ultra-leftist government is coddling the Palestinians who should be expelled from the land". Of course, it is hard to list all possibilities.

  • Killing without consequence
    • I got really interested in this issue a while ago. The tepid reaction of American State Department is fully understandable, because the fate of our "domestic Palestinians" may be quite similar.

      This is how the things are done in Kern County, California. link to nydailynews.com
      Perhaps a commendable difference is that the police of Kern county does not seem to use firearms all that much, relying on dogs, tasers and batons, so all victims described in the article had heart conditions identified by the country coroner -- my charitable interpretation is that persons in excellent health survive their beatings. And the lower socio-economic strata of Kern country tend to have unhealthy diet and are invariably positive for meth. Less charitable interpretation is that the county coroner lacks imagination and always reports the same thing. FBI was checking on them and nothing amiss was found.

      Aha: victims had Spanish surnames. In short, all of us who are healthy lean Anglos should not be afraid to visit Kern Country which is a gateway to such spectacular places like Giant Sequoia National Monument.

  • Reform Jewish leader offers alternative to Presbyterian divestment: meet Netanyahu
    • Noreena is really something. If the opera that does not take a stand against anti-Semitism were broadcast, soccer fans will keep shouting "Yid" and jihadists will radicalize further. As we all know, these are two audiences particularly vulnerable to subliminal messages in operas. By carefully and properly selecting the operas for broadcast we may decrease incidence of these ugly phenomena. What is missing from the article are positive recommendations.

    • By the way, as I checked on the conversation of Jacobs and Netanyahu, my web search landed at Times of Israel, a website a tad less annoying than Jerusalem Post, and the latest issue had a tail of Rav Shmuel about his persuasive exploits in Europe, where he talked with officials of the European country that is currently most friendly toward Israel, the Czech republic. Rav Shmuel clearly grated the nerves of his interlocutor so he cheerfully concluded that "We do not need Europe". Adelson's edition of Hasbara is perhaps the best glimmer of hope for Palestinian (remember that Rav Shmuel and the Prime Minister share Adelson as the benefactor).

    • I surely would not like to be that fly. And since there was a meeting in public, with Netanyahu gracing a Reform meeting through a satellite link, we have a pretty good idea what they would talk about.

      Number one, the Kotel, how to decrease the number of Reform women arrested for improper behavior (clearly, Netanyahu cannot do anything on that, but there was an exchange of pleasantries concerning that issue). Second, top Israeli security concerns of the moment, last time it was Iran, now, perhaps massive and brazen kidnappings of 80 Turks and 40 Indians by a movement operating just next to Israel? Or some minor kidnapping with totally unknown perpetrators? Or about Netanyahu bedside visits to cheer up terrorists recuperating from wounds? Concerning Palestinians, one could make a betting pool if the discussion would take less than 10 seconds or more? I would put 10 bucks for "less", but I would commit 100 bucks for "under one minute".

      Would it be simply a meeting with Jacobs, I would expect a stern lecture that Reform movement may find itself irrelevant due to its slothful lobbying on the issue of Iran. But if Jacobs was merely an escort to a Presbyterian delegation, I would expect that it would start with presenting the guests with copies of the book in Spanish Inquisition by Netanyahu, which would nicely direct the conversation toward the Massacre of York and related issues.

    • “Overture 0404 [...] is a vicious attack on Judaism, the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”

      Viciousness aside, the way Reform Judaism is now, it seems to me that it is basically secular Zionism. After removing tribal and ritualistic aspects, Reform Judaism was not much different from unitarians, and while there was nothing wrong about that, it was too little to keep congregations together (and donations), so they put the "tribal" back. Perhaps my impression is based on unrepresentative group of people I know, who were formally Reform Jews but in actuality had fully secular worldview. Zionism was kind of natural, given the relatives in Israel. If Reform Judaism had any philosophical, ethical and theological aspects, they did not seem to care.

      Thus questioning Zionism implies questioning Reform Judaism as it functions now (say, 70% of congregants and 90% of the budget, totally unscientific estimate). One may ask, why Rav Shmuel did not show up? Just a thought experiment, but I think that while Boteach is not the brightest lamp in the store, he can figure that either he would convince the pius Presbyterian delegates to recommend harshest sanctions on Israel in the church disposal, or he would totally alienate his top benefactors like Adelson (mentioning occupation, suffering of Palestinians etc.). So we see Rav Rick instead who is obviously thorn between the need to show some humane impulses and the fiduciary responsibilites for his denomination (1st Commandment: do not alienate the donors, who are Zionist; for that matter, Reform donors probably do expect some humanistic small talk, it is their point of pride that they are not some stupid Chabadniks or some such).

  • Hunting for missing justice
    • Liberal Zionists do exists as a despised minority. Ynetnews.com is a decent news source, and much to the dismay of the readers, quite regularly allows them to publish their opinion. The cake is in the talkbacks. Consider this: link to ynetnews.com
      More moderate replies:

      ==================

      I think you are in dreamland. from the Pal side will only come more terror when you blame Israel !

      Yariv lives in a fantasy land

      what a load of nonsense. never read so much garbage in my life. you are gallut jew

      But other comments are less tolerant

      Investigate Pieces Now for treason.

      Arrest Oppenheimer for treason

      Oppenheimer gets good money from leftists U.S.people as well as from European and American NGO's.I really doubt he's worth it.
      Rod , Fargo N.Dakota [a person from USA would not harp about NGOs, it is Israeli peculiarity, so I view it as native Israeli voice]

      =======================

      However, the government plays a difficult game. It is quite easy to rise the public emotions in Israel, and then proceed with a stream of resolute actions, stern speeches, photos of arrested Hamasniks, confiscated weapons (although I have seen two pics, one with some weapons, another with normal shaving raisors), enthusiastic soldiers, tied soldiers, but in the past, it only created an urge for more. For all the hue and cry, very few "Pals" are getting killed, some measures border with comical (changing conditions of prisoners? replacing unpalatable gruel with even more unpalatable gruel? this is the wrath of the State?), there will be a chorus condemning the government for "coddling", not doing enough etc. Moreover, at some point there would have to be a de-escalation, a string of defiant messages from Hamas that once again they survived, recriminations and so on. This is how Kadima and Labor lost elections after Cast Lead.

      If the boys will be found, in spite of all effort to confiscate flags, raisors, interrupt traffic here (for very long time) and there (interminently) and arresting totally irrelevant people, it will turn well for the ruling coalition. But the odds are even at best.

  • I’m a Lutheran member of a Jewish organization, and I support Presbyterian divestment
    • I personally think that "Giovinezza, giovinezza, primavera di bellezza" sounds very nice. "Facetta nera" is perhaps even better (by the way, it means "cute black face", so it would fit with the posted video).

      Applying oil to your skin can be very beneficial, I do it myself, but believing snake oil salesmen may be very un-beneficial.

    • As an old foggy, I have different associations with young troops eager for action getting orders from sage leaders. link to youtube.com

  • How Israel is exploiting the reported kidnapping to weaken Palestinian reconciliation
    • halfinhalf should pay attention to alternative theories. For example, learned Rav Dov Lior attributes the kidnapping to the divine displeasure with legislation that were detrimental to Torah scholarship, family welfare and participation in the peace negotiations. I would add a ridiculous increase in the liquor tax. (In my country the story of Noah is viewed as the proof that G..d favors the drunks, many are Biblical literalists on that point.)

    • The problem with "Israeli control" is that it in that area it was much easier for a Jewish Israeli sexual deviant or other type of creep to give ride to the boys and offer soft drinks or something else laced with a sleeping drug than for a Palestinian. For all we know, their bodies are already in a freezer. link to sacramento.cbslocal.com
      It is a fact of life that one in a million (or more) is a serious creep.

      I did not find when the boys started their trip, but I would assume that much earlier than 10:30 pm. Even if boys could be stupid enough to start that late, the trip was approved by the parents who presumably would insist on some reasonable time. Terrorists would promptly take phones from the boys, but a creep would start by being a pleasant host for few hours. The boy did not mention Arabs, terrorists, just "kidnapped".

    • I think that "Death to Arabs" qualifies as incitement rather than defamation. And Israeli laws concerning the incitement do not cover the Rabbinate, otherwise you would have to shut it down.

    • I really makes no sense to use "human shields" against a force that frequently kills civilians.

    • Exactly. There is quite a bit more of ordinary crimes than terrorism. There is a also a theme that "IDF prevented/thwarted 10/20/30 kidnappings" but not so much on trials of thwarted kidnappers.

    • Results of a very sloppy press review.

      Were the innocent victims prudent? A young hitchhiking settler reader claimed that he never does it without pepper spray in the pocket, and that once he fended off a guy who exposed himself. It is a sad fact that sexual predators and even worse maniacs do exists, one of them presumably killed Shelly Dadon in Migdal HaEmak. If I were one of them, I would probably invite the teens to eat or drink something and slip a "rape drug" sleeping pill. The last one awake could figure something is amiss and make a phone call before getting a whack. Yawning message would not sound serious.

      Can a government show restraint in the face of undeniable kidnapping? Yes! Government of Turkey claimed that it does everything possible to secure for the sake of 80 kidnapped Turks (but nobody knows what it is) and chided the opposition attempt to capitalize on the sad event.

      Does the Prime Minister have any motivation to go over the top on the issue of what some articles call "putative kidnapping"? Asher Schechter of Ha'aretz is connecting the dots.

      According to the complaint, a senior official at the Prime Minister’s office ordered new garden furniture for the prime minister’s official residence that was identical to the furniture in Netanyahu’s villa in Caesarea. Then, there was a switcheroo: the new furniture was delivered to Caesarea, while the old one went to the official resident in Jerusalem - albeit freshly painted.

      Thus, allegedly, the Netanyahus’ got new garden furniture worth up to 30,000 shekels, on the taxpayers’ dime.

      On the past occasions there was considerably larger public interest, even though the amount of money is larger than in the case of "ice cream budget". Why?

      It could, of course, be the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens. At times of crisis Israelis tend to set aside corruption concerns and band together behind the prime minister. It could be that the story of the garden chairs' switcheroo would have spawned public outrage and comedy gold if it hadn’t been swallowed by the week’s events.

    • The police started to act only when one of the father made a ruckus 5 hours after the call. One hour delay could simply mean that police suspected that the culprits were armed, but that make sense only when the precise location is known, like robbery in progress reported by the neighbors.

      Settlers in Yitzhar are "under occupation" because of slashing of tires of a car of an officer about a month ago. IDF demolished some buildings (I thing that they could be trailers without permits) and occupies a yeshiva, and the locals show their unhappiness in a variety of ways. This time the army brought some portable toilets (no facilities in the occupied yeshiva??) on a flat trailer, and a tire of that trailer was slashed. With more sense of humor, settlers should sabotage the toilets.

    • Clearly, IDF conducts a vigorous investigation, and it is worth to know what is normal in such investigations. Today's ynetnews.com:

      Almost a month and a half after [19 years old] Shelly Dadon was found dead in an parking lot in the northern town of Migdal HaEmak, the police has released six Israeli-Arabs arrested in wake of the incident.

      Further down, the family became optimistic that the real culprit will be found, apparently, police got some concrete leads so they could release the "usual suspects" who by some strange coincidence were all Arab citizens (probability 1/5 to power 6, something like 1 in 16 thousands). Thus one the west of the "green line" arresting Arabs means "we have no idea who did it". So what can we conclude from searches performed in all West Bank cities with exception of Jericho? "We do not have a faintest clue".

  • After ADL says opera is 'biased' toward Palestinians, Met cancels broadcast, citing rising anti-Semitism
    • There is a gamut of Zionist opinion, but the modern standard (as exemplifed by GoI, 9/10 commentators there, 99/100 of comment writers there and our colonialist-wanna-be's in USA) is frankly racist, so I have no problem with heckling such frank racists etc. Nobody is closing their newspapers or TV stations, arresting and at occasion, killing, the workers in their media, nor I would recommend doing so.

      If Zionists want to heckle Met, it is their prerogative, but nixing the performance (or the broadcast) of a work of widely recognized merit is something of a different order of magnitude.

    • Sometimes I am almost loosing my faith in humanity. You simply cannot be racist against Germans, or you cannot make objections on that basis, or if you do, nobody will give a damn. But one could object a sympathetic portrayal of Germans, like the Schindler himself, which undermines the Zionist narrative that Israel is necessary due to innate and eternal anti-Semitism among the nations, and thus the core of Jewish values, so Schindler List is objectively anti-Semitic.

  • Israeli army enacts curfew near Nablus and raids eight major West Bank cities
    • All of that is feasible, but it would be an enormous preparation for a very unspectacular action. It would be simpler to plant an IED at the hitchhiking spot, and Israeli reprisals tend to be smaller after fatalities than after "kidnapping".

    • The settlers may be completely unhinged, but this merely shows that they rationally expect to be safe because of savage reprisals that IDF makes anytime something happens to a settler. And since these reprisals give a lot of satisfaction to settlers (and Israeli public at large) the risk is worth it.

      Last week settlers in Yitzhar slashed tires of a trailer used by the military because they are protesting "occupation" of a yeshiva building. From A to Z the story reads like a report from a fictional country where population consists the insane and the stupid. Arutz Sheva, Israel National News, gives the fullest story in English. But the background of a sector of the settlers that is actively hostile to the authorities, and particularly to police, explains why the police dismissed the famous phone call as a prank. For all we know, they had a lot of prank calls already.

  • Iran wins points from Brazil to State Dep't (even as Bill Kristol calls for another Iraq war)
    • Actually, I would recommend the article about Abdul Qadeer Khan, because it explains how Saudis understand the phrase "peaceful use" (making bombs that are subsequently not used), and consequently, why they are not totally convinced that peaceful used of nuclear energy by Iran is a good thing. Plus, some of you may not know how admirable is Abdul Qadeer Khan.

    • Indeed, Iran is worse, according to Freedom House, than Saudi Arabia in "Press freedom", "Legal environment" and "Political environment", eking a bit better only in "economic environment". That really got me interested. Is Saudi press more free? Web search. Saudi Gazette. Cut and paste:

      With regard to the article "What makes TV ‘halal’ and cinema ‘haram’?" (June 13), inshAllah cinemas will never be allowed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They are of absolutely no benefit for people in this life or in the Hereafter.

      Further clicking showed that this was a reader opinion, and the full discussion included another opinion:

      It seems to me that this article is using one bad thing to justify another bad thing. Here are a few facts: 1. Many TV programs and films show things that Islam does not permit us to watch. 2. Millions of TVs operating for hours every day consume hundreds of millions of watts of electricity. 3. Watching TV and films is a nonproductive activity. 4. You could use this time to interact with your family to create stronger family bonds.

      [Interaction with future family members is one of the chief reasons to watch movies in some countries, but I guess this is my inner cultural imperialist thinking.]

      A spirited discussion! And what a spectrum of opinion at the Opinion page, behold and admire:

      The distressing constraints on young couples

      Abdul Qadeer Khan and the peaceful use of nuclear energy

      Putin’s masterful game

      Middle East and the Kingdom seem so tranquil this week!! After lugubrious fare here in Mondoweiss, Saudi Gazette restored my composure.

      I was also interested in Bahrein, an important ally with a US naval base, but you get those reports by hovering over the map, so it is hard for a small country.

    • I would argue that my answer is better because the first BS in the sentence is "to enlist Tehran", but the author managed have only commas as non-BS. For example, restoring the population of Orinoco crocodiles could be a sensible way to address the surfeit of piranhas, if that were an actual problem.

    • What is the first wrong thing with that sentence: “To enlist Tehran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism, in a fight against ISIS, a non-state terrorist organization, makes as much sense as stocking a river with crocodiles to deal with a piranha problem.”

      To me, it is a proposition that "we" can enlist Tehran or not. Whether Tehran will be enlisted or not, and on what conditions, is being negotiated between Najaf and Qom and "we" will not after the fact what they have decided. Don't worry your little heads, neocons.

    • A crazy speculation: weak Iraq can be to some degree boon to Iran. As a de-facto ally, Maliki government was somewhat disappointing, but with Baghdad relying on Quds force and militias trained by Quds force, they will be obedient.

      And the government in Baghdad should have plenty of cash, with oil export being double of Iranian -- what do they do with all that money anyway. Furthermore, it was reported that Iranians supply Syria with 0,130 mbd of oil per day, so there must be pipelines or something (tankers?) to deliver Iranian oil to Iraq. Thus Iran could sell its oil as Iraqi oil, Iraqi banks getting the payments and passing to Iranian (after coverting to Chinese currency?). You cannot move that much stuff and money without being noticed (tens of millions of tons, tens of billions of dollars), but Americans do not want Baghdad government to fail and ISIS to take over, so they would have to close their eyes.

      The tricky part for Iran will be to regain land route to Syria quickly, while Iraqi cities will be retaken at leisure. But this is a sensible strategy anyway.

    • My private metaphor is pet cobra. The inspiration comes from Sunni extremists supported by ISI, and from a Polish tale on a peasant saving a viper, only to be bitten when the viper was warm and energetic. Turkey and the Saudis have a nice bunch of pet cobras there, so they could be the putative "runaway horses", but I did not see a trace of an effort to reign them.

      The casuistry that we should identify the good terrorists and prevent them from selling stuff or getting robbed by the bad terrorists is either utterly stupid (can they really believe in it?) or indifferent (just drop weapons in heaps on Turkish border, and whoever will pick them up, Assad will suffer and he is a bad guy).

  • Neoconservatism is 'vindicated' in fawning 'NYT' piece on power couple of Kagan and Kristol
    • "His father, Donald Kagan, a historian of ancient Greece, is a patriarch of neoconservatism."

      I tried a joke that neoconservatists have a chip on the shoulder because of the Battle of Carrhae and other defeats inflicted on the Romans by Parthians and Persians, dream to restore the glory of Alexander, and what to find another victory at par with Gaugamela. Perhaps it is not a joke at all.

  • Kidnapped
    • Actually, it is possible that it was a crank call and the poor boys are hiding in an apartment of a friend, too terrified to show up with after the prank succeeded way beyond their teen imagination. Police should investigate all their contacts (perhaps they did?).

      Allegedly, they called at 10:30 at night, but I did not read when they left home. Hitching at night is futile at best, unless you can talk to drivers in a well lit place, say at a gas station (I do not know particulars in Israel, but elsewhere, I would seriously advise against trying to hitchhike at night or to pick hitchhikers at night). So where they were when they were nabbed? Why still away from their destinations, which were different? Why still together? It really asks for some unusual scenario. I would not think that Shin Beth could do it (easier said than done). Prank is a possibility, a prank getting horribly wrong is another (say, an attempt of "price tag", vigilantes could catch them and beat them too much to reveal it, but as they were catching them, one could run away and have few seconds to make a call).

    • Two thoughts:

      "Israel isn’t a civilized occupier." It begs a question what does "civilized occupation" mean. As we go back to ancient history (which founders of Zionism, neo-cons etc. were well familiar with) civilization meant intricate governmental structures, roads, bridges, ports, hydraulic works (Romans were so-so, but most other empires were excellent), arts, sciences plus inflicting woe to the less civilized peoples, who complained "They plunder, they slaughter, and they steal: this they falsely name Empire, and where they make a wasteland, they call it peace." Jews, when they had a state during Hellenic times, engaged in that too, with the addition of forcible conversions.

      So if you see advertisements "Side with the civilized man", clearly what is meant is "the man" who has the balls to "plunder, slaughter" and so on. Thus a more justified complaint is that the occupation is not humane. Being humane (Zhen?) is a cardinal Confucian virtue, an essential component of good government, without which it looses the "mandate of Heaven" (not a trifle, rebellion ceases to be a sin). But Legists did not see any such need: a good ruler should maintain Justice and inflict sufficient fear among the subjects to maintain order. These concept also have similar in the Western thought but they are much less crisp. (The use of proper names is other Confucian virtue).

      So Israel is civilized in the classic sense -- arts, sciences, intricate government, hydraulic works (a particular point of pride), roads, sport arenas and so on, but in the humanity department is not as excellent.

      Second thought: it is actually a weird difference between Israel and USA. Americans basically do not give a damn if one of them is captured (or a number of them). After all, isn't it even worse if the person is killed? And while "de mortui nil nisi bene", the captured person is alive and he could very well be a bad apple. Suppose that three American hitchhikers were kidnapped. Innocent hitchhikers? That is next to impossible, this is at best an irresponsible behavior. Bergdahl took a hike, which was stupid and he should rot, according to the popular sentiment.

  • Israeli army seals Hebron, saying Hamas is responsible for abducted teens
    • Netanyahu is unusually circumspect. He should also blame Hamas and Abu Mazen for slashing tires of military vehicles in Yitzhar (third in two months). And another Palestinian town should be placed under siege until such slashings cease and the Palestinian culprits step forward.

    • A "normal IDF reaction" is not necessarily normal.

      Over the years, IDF goes totally bonkers when they think that an IDF soldier was captured. This is what happened on Mavi Marmara, last Lebanon war and so on.

      With civilians, not so much. With service-shirking yeshiva boys, ah, well, it could be a prank. The measures taking so-far, a mass arrest of Hamasniks, lockup of Palestinian cities and so on are mild responses by IDF standards, consummerate with meager status of the teens.

      In context, locking up Palestinian cities is a celebratory part of all major Jewish holidays (but without erecting extra barriers, just closing the checkpoints).

  • Missing!
    • "In any future agreement" is a vacuously true mantra, as Israeli government does not want to agree to anything. How many proposal on the future borders were presented by Netanyahu's negotiators?

    • The chief proof that Hamas did it is that IDF rounded up about 100 of Palestinians, mostly from Hamas. But it is not an iron-clad proof. When a drone penetrated Israeli airspace and reached the vicinity of Dimona, about 200 Hamasniks in Hebron area were rounded up, but Israelis later admitted that the drone was initially spotted over the sea near Gaza and no one knows its origin. And Hamasniks were released. The quip that in the even of an earthquake Israeli cabinet would blame Palestinian Authority and IDF would round up Hamasnik has empirical evidence.

      The theory that the disappearance of the teenagers and the call to police may be a prank seems somewhat plausible, since either West Bank Israeli policy consists of total morons, or they had experience with such pranks.

    • "And are you also so sure they’re ‘innocent’?"

      This is indeed a serious question. In general, the most innocent people of them all are "our soldiers". Attacking or capturing them is the most heinous act one can imagine, to be persecuted with all methods Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines and so on can offer, and if we get the culprits alive, Gitmo! (or an Israeli equivalent). Civilians are less precious.

      That said, one would need to check if the boys intended to enlist, or to be "Torah scholar parasites". But even if the boys had commendable military aspirations, boys are notorious for being miscreants. Kidnapping three boys from the side of a road in broad daylight should not be simple. So perhaps they hiked somewhere away from the highway.

      But this is inferior, doubt infested thinking. Now we already have the proof that Hamas was responsible, which makes the perpetrators on top of "heinous" scale and the victims similarly high on "innocent scale". And how do we know it (or how does Netanyahu know)? Because almost all arrested Palestinians are Hamasniks, and IDF had to have good reasons.

  • Fire Thomas Friedman
    • Concerning the outsourcing suggestion, I am skeptical, because the intellectual tone of the new columns could be inappropriate for the average reader of NYT. Luckily, there are some unemployed baby pandas who were fired from their position of soccer match forecasters. Their accuracy record was rather poor, but it would not get worse (compared to the replaced column), and most importantly, baby pandas are very cute.
      link to rt.com

      Update: pandas were not fired but relieved of their position out of worry about the psychological effects (hostile e-mails from readers?) and replaced with turtles that are more mentally stable. Some combination of cuteness and mental stability is surely possible. That kind of describes Maureen Dowd, but wouldn't little turtles be even more cute?

    • It is hard for me to tell if you are correct. What is more attention worthy: idiocy of governmental actions or criminality? Are our government venal on regular basis and stupid only occasionally, or vice versa?

      Yesterday I went on a bike hike, and on the way back home, at some distance from my town, I was amazed to see a very nicely marked and paved start of a bike path. Which ended after 100 feet. But it is hard to suspect that graft was involved, so I would chalk it as an example of an action that was merely stupid.

    • Perhaps Friedman is not an idiot, just an ultra-conventional thinker (of his milieu) who has a schtick of stringing together ideas rather randomly and this sometimes in a bit original way. Plus he is amazingly and amusingly full of himself. Thus his list of "5 recommendation" misses the most obvious point: should the financial and military (weapons, sanctuaries) support to jihadists be continued, or not?

      Right now, that policy is more twisted than a pretzel. In Libya, we supported them with arms and air strikes on regime troops. Then ingrates invaded our consulate that worked as CIA office. In Mali we trained them -- although it was when they were still regime officers and before they defected. In Somalia, we paid the Communists to fight them, and we helped the cause with airstrikes (this is not exactly past tense). In Syria, trickles of weapons and money comes through Jordan and Lebanon, and a river from Turkey. So much that the happy recipients have the luxury of fighting over those spoils. In Iraq, we do not give a damn (but the Kingdom does, and helps the jihadis). In Pakistan, they are bad jihadis who cross the border to Afghanistan, we treat them with drones, and good jihadis who cross the border to Iran -- so we support them (perhaps? sometimes?) but the government hates them. In Yemen we treat them with drones.

      The latest is a sudden observation that the jihadists are highly peripatetic, and they do not stay put where we want them to be, like in Syria, but move around, like going back to their homes in France, Britain etc. And at occasion they exhibit a combination of extremist attitude with exemplary marksmanship, say, by shooting at a Jewish Museum. (Even if we attribute the shooting in Brussels to anti-Semitism, few anti-Semites like to shoot and even fewer shoot well, but years spend on massacres and training of suicide bombers change that.)

      So the West found out how to engage in policies which are criminal (supplying criminals), immoral (those criminals do not merely violate laws, but elementary norms like not massacring villages, not blowing up bombs at supermarket parking lots etc.) and stupid -- as we both support them and kill them, they grow more proficient in killing and more angry. This is question number one, and it did not make Friedman list.

      For the sake of brevity, I will skip another aspect why those policies are stupid: all bad things that the West does are copied assiduously. Then we are aghast: Putin encourages separatists and allows arms to cross the border! Iran is censoring internet! Iran planted worms in Aramco computers! (and we know that they did it because they copied worms that we planted in their computers). China is burning an enormous quantity of fuels!

    • It reminds me an old Saturday Night Live joke. At that time a former senator, certain Tower, was nominated for Secretary of Defense, and during confirmation hearing (or before that happened) it was revealed that he had a "drinking problem". The skid showed him in a bar, begging to get another drink after closing time. The bartender asked "But senator, don't you have a drinking problem?" replied with "My drinking problem is that I do not have enough to drink."

      I think that Mr. Blair has a problem. Sometimes I think that those people want to avenge the cause of the West for the defeats at Carrhae etc. link to en.wikipedia.org and repeat the glory of Alexander. Same holds for Israel: while IDF is expert at harassing villagers, the leaders dream of another Gaugamela. link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Enter Ken Pollack and Tom Friedman-- the Iraq experts!
    • Friedman, bless his soul, sometimes has his lucid moments. When he wrote that latest comment, it was not one of them. Instead he follow his schtick to figure an "original idea", and hammer it, however think and untimely: "No — the real of war of ideas, the only one worth taking sides in, is the one between the religious extremists (Sunni and Shiite) and the committed environmentalists."

      There are many things to ponder here, like deranged policy of arming the extremists by USA and American allies. Same alumni of Syrian war wreck havock in Iraq (and vice versa, a peripatetic crowd), another shot some Jews in Brussels. And of course there are still more of the future alumni still wrecking havoc in Syria. Wars are the breeding ground of the most virulent extremisms.

      Turks got bitten by their own pet cobras.

      "They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind"

      Maliki us a malignant pustulence. How he got to his position? Somehow he convinced Washington and Tehran that he is a superior alternative to al-Sadr etc.

      Anything but chats with environmentalists that could be reported on another occasions.

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