Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 3316 (since 2010-05-31 18:07:51)

piotr

American university faculty member born in Poland.

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  • 'Israel is the home of all Jews,' declares a right-wing official
    • This is a bit "dog bites man" kind of news. Once, there was a story in an Israeli newspaper about a man biting a dog, but the converse can barely make news in a village newspaper. I do not know what percentage of Israelis and Zionists elsewhere (however liberal) do not believe that Israel is THE homeland of all Jews. And there are somewhat logical explanations of that.

      Explanation one. Holy writ of Balfour: Jews shall establish national home in (then) Palestine. Balfour would be greatly miffed if Jews would not take that offer, so one has to stick with it.

      Explanation two. In the absence of Israel, Jews would be in the most terrible danger of them all: they would loose their Jewishness. For more than 2000 years in Exile they did not, but mostly because they did not know any better. However with innumerable distractions of 21st century they would assimilate in a blink without a focus for the national pride (why, they would not even feel a reason to have a national pride).

      Explanation three. What Jews need most is a good reason to kvetch, without it they are like mariners of old sailing for months without vitamin C in their food. Through the previous centuries in Exile they had plenty of legitimate reasons, but now, not so much. In the absence of Israel, that is. But there are so many attacks on Israel that one can still maintain that anti-Semitism is as powerful as ever, and we are unjustly vilified, subjected to humiliations of double standards etc.

      I think it covers most of it if you allow for variations like "spiritual needs" (a combination of Explanation Two and Explanation Three).

  • Mark Halperin excommunicates Rand Paul, over Israel
    • I spent some money to support "anyone but Hillary" (I am not a tycoon, so it is merely a record of my attitude), and the consensus is that not only we did not get "Hillary without Hillary", but we actually got Hillary as well. One can find it sad or hilarious.

      Concerning morons among Republican contenders, this is simply the case of sticking to the proven formula. Reagan elected twice, Bush Sr. once and Bush Jr. twice, that clearly shows that the people do not want a clever Republican president. Perhaps Romney lost to Obama because he merely pretended to be stupid.

    • "It should be exciting to see a politician who stands up in public and takes on the lobby." This news item is rather mixed in that respect: if Rand is really "evolving", then it would not be the case of "standing up" but of failing to satisfy the ever more exacting criteria of ZOA ilk.

    • I still like the theory that all this talk about Israel is simply the cover of Adelson's true agenda, which is to outlaw online poker. For that you would prefer wingnuts with a more statist bent rather than libertarians.

      What I find fascinating that until recently, the idea to spend millions to keep a libertarian away from GOP nomination would qualify for jokes. It would be like storing road salt in Miami (to melt snow and ice). And with reverse Midas touch that Adelson seems to have (you touch gold and it changes to dirt), Paul could even get nominated.

  • You know Israel's in trouble when 'NYT' runs op-ed saying it's replacing Iran as isolated theocracy
    • The labels "secular" and "religious" are hopelessly ill-defined and thus not helpful. Israel, like Pakistan, is defined by its religion, and while founders were "secular" in the sense that the legal framework of those states was not based on religious law, the state identity was linked to religion and thus religious principles were growing in importance. Including, I am sorry to say, the least fortunate bits of those principles.

      In the case of occupied territories, there is a dispute in Israel if they should be ruled according to international laws of occupation (few oddballs favor that opinion), Israeli civil laws, Israeli military laws or Torah. The practice is a weird combination of the last two. The most visible settlers recognize Torah as the only authority and some military units are given task to operate effectively under their control, while other are under direct orders of the command chain. This way or another they work in tandem, but occasionally conflicts flare up who should have last word when there is some small divergence of opinions.

      Yisrael Beitenu is a good example of unhelpful "secular" label. That party cooperated closely with messianic settlers (do not confuse with "messianic Jews" which in Israel means Jews for Jesus) and gave some ineffective lip service to the needs of secular Russian-language voters. The current ruling coalition includes Likud/YB, "national religious" Jewish Home and secular Esh Atid. I did not hear anything about steps toward more secular system, like an option to have non-religious marriage, but there was a step of "national religious" nature against "traditional religious", imposing military service on Jews who believe that their tasks in the holy war against non-Jews are to study Torah and thus gain the goodwill of the Almighty for the State, or at least for the Jews in general (some traditional religious doe not .

      It is quite possible that the new changes in electoral law in Israel will force more cooperation between secular and religious political movements that are aligned according to various principles.

    • Perhaps the authors meant well, but when you equate "good" with "Western, free market and secular" than you describe positive trends as "secularizing".

      I think that Abbas Milani, being a think-tanker, is putting his thoughts in terms that are well received by this customary audience. But indeed, how to interpret the drop of birth rate in Saudi Arabia?

      By the way, recently I have learned that halacha forbids Jews to charge interest to Jews, so in Israel there are halachic banks like in Muslim countries there are Islamic banks.

  • Why are two Republican congressmen doing a walkabout on the Temple Mount?
    • IQ does not measure common sense and related mental skills.

      I guess that if it would help getting support in elections, some politicians would gladly tour ruins of an Aztec pyramid and commiserate with their cultist guides that they cannot restore human sacrifices. As Americans, we are all members of common Aztec-Christian civilization after all. The Jewish cultists of Temple Institute want animal sacrifices and a full theocracy, so it is not that different. But if it does not hurt being re-elected, why not?

  • About that special relationship...
    • A pedantic remark: Russia has ports to the east of Crimea, besides ports on Baltic, Murmansk, and Pacific ports (not to mention the increasingly un-frozen Arctic). The main reason to take Crimea is that Russians view it as a Russian territory.

    • You must be joking. Putin may use a veto for the benefit of Syria, for Israel -- not so much.

      One explanation for Israeli position could be that the current American position is stupid, but this is at best a contributing factor, namely this assures that nobody will clamor for retribution. Plus, it is hard to find a more stupid adventure than Shaakashvili attack on Russians in South Ossetia, and Israeli mercenaries trained Georgians for that.

      I have two theories. One is that the majority of Jewish business tycoons from the region is with Putin. And they have influence in Israel, at least in some modest degree. The second is that whatever division you may find in Israeli ruling coalition, Putin wannabes are clearly in majority.

  • Amid 'climate of fear' at Vassar, president comes out against 'action and protest' re Israel
    • One can actually read the description of the trip with the narrative of the organizing professors. It was definitely not a white-wash.

      If I was inclined to disparage them, I would call it grey-wash. Oh, it is soo complicated, every stone has at least two narratives, good folks try to eschew extremes and work toward mutual understanding, but so pitifully few of them - even so, we will meet them. But I think it is OK for an educational trip for undergrads.

  • The Jewish community must not embrace Ayaan Hirsi Ali
    • About the courage of Ali Hirsi: the argument harks to the sophists of Classic Greece, namely, denying that there are distinctions of time and space (they lead to paradoxes of the hare and turtle etc.). A very mild apostasy can be very courageous in Riyad, and passed over in Jedda, while a radical apostasy can be suicidal in Pakistan and land you a cushy job in AEI. (A radical apostasy from Judaism can also yield some living wages, but comparatively those are bubkes.)

      If I had my druthers, I would not bestow any honors on anyone employed by AEI, a singularly creepy outfit.

    • I had a few courses in logic, and I have no idea what does it mean to exists logically. In any case, "anti-Semitism" is defined in terms of beliefs, and the logic of belief is not simple, and clearly divergent from real life.

      In a simple system, if you believe that X, and that X implies Y, then you also believe in Y. It sounds OK, but nobody really does that (meaning, everybody has exceptions). So you should apply "belief" rules to "fuzzy logic" rules: since most beliefs are held with uncertainty, you could believe in X with 60%, in X implies Y with 60%, and in Y with 20%.

      In another thread, J Street was accused of anti-Semitism because they accepted funding from George Soros. Unravelling the moral and logical status of that attack would be interesting. Possibility one: the accuser lied, namely he did not believe that himself. But this possibility raises the question why the accuser believed that the accusation is good for the "Jewish Community".

      Actually, there is a concept in the "Jewish Community" that does not square with the logic I have heard about, namely "the narrative". Some people say that nobody has the right to their own facts. But "narrative" idea is the opposite: we have the right to our "narrative". As far as I can honestly figure out, in a "narrative" facts have modality of "important" and "unimportant". "Our narrative", presumably that of "Jewish Community" uses the criteria: if fact A is good for JC, then it is important, in "our narrative".

      Thus we have a rough outline of the logic employed here: it is fuzzy, and employs modalities of "our narrative" / "not our narrative". That is probably not enough to explain it. For example, "our narrative" is "good for Jews", but for some Jews the fact that they are Jewish is not good for Jews, say George Soros or Weiss of Mondoweiss.

    • I had the same thought. "Jewish Community" as defined by "major American Jewish organization" should be most comfortable with a foul-mouth apostate of a religion deemed hostile to their beloved Israel. Individual Jews -- that obviously varies. In another thread it was reported that a Jewish organization was accused by the inquisitors from Major Jewish Organizations for accepting money from a dirty Jew, certain George Soros, as opposed to a clean Jew like Sheldon Adelson. If Ali Hirsi is good for Sheldon Adelson, she is good for the Community.

      Concerning apostates, as opposed to folks who abandoned their faith with lesser public vehemence, they often do important job, but bestowing honors on them is inflammatory. Imagine a Muslim university giving honorary degree to Shmarya Rosenberg. Her (his?) website is quite informative, but if there exists a rabbi who in neither involved in child molestation, nor in drug smuggling, nor in pornography rings, or in fraudulent certification of kosher meat, one will not learn about him in Failed Messiah.

  • Dershowitz plays McCarthy, and John Dingell is labeled 'anti-Israel'
    • Everything being equal, Adelson has more resources than Beinart. ZOA is basically his sock puppet, and so is Likud supported by his newspaper.

      With resources and clear goal you can achieve more that with no resources and unclear goals, IQ not withstanding. I got impression that it is not Zionist liberals who have the problem but liberals in general. 70 years ago there was some liberal ideology with clear goal, but what remains now is the tendency to split the difference, what the Clintonista called triangulation. They simply lack an internal compass.

    • I guess Americans for Peace Now would not be admitted to the Conference either. The recent issue of Foreign Policy has an article by John Judis about steady shift inside Zionist movement toward the right wing. Somewhere else (Forward?) it was described that the leaders of most of Jewish organizations are "elected" in a very opaque manner, basically by the major donors.

      In my humble opinion, if the not so right wing organizations crave an umbrella group, they should form Conference of Minor Jewish Organizations. One of the requirements should be that no officer of such an organization should have emoluments larger than President of United States.

  • 6 DC heavyweights tell Kerry, Netanyahu in West Bank is like Putin in Crimea
    • JeffB is obviously mixing Stalin with Empress Catherine who conquered Crimea. Subsequent settlement of the lands of Crimean Khanate (Crimea and the coast of Ukraine) involved mostly Russians, Ukrainians were never a majority there, and their settlement is not preceding the Russians. Actually, the characteristic feature of the region is big variety of ethnic origins and common Russian language, except for Crimean Tatars who could not care less if they are in Ukraine or Russia.

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  • Appeals court upholds dismissal of anti-BDS lawsuit against Olympia Food Co-op
    • I think that "Hasbara Central" is a misnomer, because in Israel itself there are numerous mutually independent hasbara outfits. Off the bat, it includes activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a separate ministry for Diaspora relations, and the office of prime minister, and IDF. Then there are Israeli think tanks like Shalem Institute, Reit etc.

      But in USA, having own hasbara outfit is a precious tchotchke for a business person, so there are quite a few of those as well. But indeed, poor foot soldiers are equipped by manuals, tapes, lectures and so on. That said, selecting "anti-BDS" as a tag suggest an amateur troll. Trolling may have a professional purpose, like provoking comments that can be used to document "anti-semitism" and "extemism", of the site , so feeding trolls should be done carefully.

  • Courageous conductor, democratic society -- the NYT's Mehta meme
    • I have a more sinister view. Moderate, "constructive criticism" is allowed and useful, anything more is "radioactive". This is where liberal establishment draws a line.

  • 'NYT' readers who objected to calling Abbas 'defiant' have a point, public editor rules
    • 10 years ago homophobia was one of reliable "elixirs of power" for GOP, now it is "friendship with Israel, industrial strength version". Give it 10 year (or less).

  • 'NYT' stamps Jimmy Carter 'radioactive' and not 'a force for good'
    • He is "radioactive" to "Washington consensus". He was widely detested by the pundits while he was President and it did not improve later.

      It is really a sad statement of "Washington consensus" which is parochial, intolerant and so on.

    • biorabbi is amazingly inaccurate. Yes, it is true that one can be a terrorist and a prime minister (of our most valuable Middle Eastern ally), and assorted other combinations, but it is not true that once member of a movement where other members were terrorist, then forever a terrorist (or we are all terrorists). And so on.

      I will pick a more obscure misinterpretation. "Sadat was murdered because he let the Islamist out of jail". Wiki: "
      In February 1981, Egyptian authorities were alerted to El-Jihad's plan by the arrest of an operative carrying crucial information. In September, Sadat ordered a highly unpopular roundup of more than 1500 people, including many Jihad members, but also the Coptic Pope and other Coptic clergy, intellectuals and activists of all ideological stripes.[10] All non-government press was banned as well.[11] The round up missed a Jihad cell in the military led by Lieutenant Khalid Islambouli, who would succeed in assassinating Anwar Sadat that October.[12]"

      The shooters of Sadat were his own officers, while he was busy arresting everybody else. This is a conundrum of dictatorship: you cannot arrest everybody because someone should make the arrests.

    • The facts that

      1. Carter is responsible for the only peace-making achievement in the Middle East.

      2. Since then, he achieved "radioactive status".

      Are both true, and logically connected. What it takes for peace-making to be genuine rather than phony became radioactive, so no further genuine peace-making activities are possible -- as long as this status quo is unchanged.

  • Ultra-Zionists push back as Jewish establishment tacks toward center
    • Clearly, the problem is not that Hen Mazzig was a soldier but that he remains a soldier, and he says only what he is commanded to say. What he says tells us what IDF wants to be known about itself, which may comport with the truth, but then it does not have to.

      And soldiers are not like "any group of people", most behave according to their training and indoctrination and, of course, the orders. There was once an article in Ha'aretz about a reserve officer who commanded a unit in West Bank and ordered all his soldiers to behave politely. It was newsworthy because it was so unusual.

    • This is the downfall of the liberals. " [He Bronner] noted that in responding to a woman who had questioned how he, as a Jew, could criticize Israel, he said that conveying the truth best serves the Jewish state.

      It is highly debatable: truth may be highly detrimental to the Jewish State, at least as the interests of that state are now conceived by the majority of those who care about it. So Bronner should honestly declare what would he do if the truth does not serve the Jewish state. But then, he cannot, the very nature of the "patriotic position" to shade and cherry pick the truth so it bests serve a state (I write "a state" because Bronner seems to be from a different one) is such that it cannot be disclosed, but dismays those who think that he sincerely would disseminate truth even if does not advance the interest of the state.

      [Warning: very bad translation follows. Piotr = Peter, Jan = John]

      Two portrait painters were famous in the past,
      Piotr, good and poor, Jan, bad and rich.
      Piotr painted exquisitely, and suffered from hunger,
      Jan did little and badly, but he gained more.
      What made their fate so different?
      Piotr painted similar, Jan more beautiful faces.

      No blemish on Israel's visage can be tolerated.

  • Oren says Pollard 'sacrificed himself for the Jewish people'
    • A traitor of X is also a hero of Y. Pollard's problem is that the country where he is a hero does not want to offer anything of value to get him out of the slammer.

  • 'The Shondes' singer Louisa Solomon endorsed BDS, so-- DC JCC cancels her band's gig
    • This week, the plutocracy is the theme in the light of Supreme Court decision to defend human rights of very rich people who wish to support their favorite parties with millions of dollars in more ways than were already available. * So I would like to comment from this perspective.

      The Jewish Community Center is an abstract entity that does not have wishes, likes and dislikes. People there do. People who invited Shondes to perform were either total morons who did not notice that Shondes was vocal in defense of Palestinian rights for many years**, or they care only about the fact that they are cool Jewish kids doing very nice music. I suspect the latter. Only after the program was out and some baleful eyes took a note the disinvitation came. So we have "little people" who operate JCC and the powerful watchers who can bring them to heel any time they feel like it. Now, how does it relate to the theme of plutocracy? Just a conjecture, but the power of the watchers may be related to money.

      Footnote *: "In its majestic equality, the law allows rich and poor alike to contribute 3600 dollars to an unlimited number of political candidates".

      Footnote **: Even a relatively clueless person would check the repertoire of a band when considering an even featuring that band, and this is very easy in the age of internet.

  • Jewish National Fund lures singles to Israel with tasteless sexual joke in NYT
  • Mahmoud Abbas vs Mohammed Dahlan: The showdown begins
    • I do not see Dahlan installation as probable. The guy has charisma of a tree stump -- when he tried to overthrow Hamas in Gaza he actually had the numbers and the weapons, but apparently he did not have enthusiasm of people under his patronage. He may have support from Gulf monarchs, Egyptian military and some elements of American establishments, but overall, it is hard to see how he could serve American interests better than Abbas.

      Right now, I think that Egyptian military has at best tepid influence with Administration. I would imagine that the idea of dictatorship in a key Arab country has some degree of support, but the current regime is too overtly fascistic: the best imitation of European fascism of 1930s since Saddam Hussein.

    • The Quisling phenomenon can be described in somewhat charitable way. There typical dilemma for leaders of a national movement when to situation of their nation is mostly determined by outside powers. The only realistic strategy requires an alliance with one of those powers. For example, Ho Chi Minh could choose an alliance with Japanese, French (and later Americans), or Soviet Union/Communist China. Other options were not viable in a longer run, so such national movements would not survive for long.

      The question one can ask in Dahlan/Abbas context is: when leaders allied to the same outside power fight each other? I know of two scenarios. One is that the outside alliance coincides with deep internal divisions. For example, Afghan leftists allied with Soviet Union, but they formed two Communist movements, Parcham and Khalk, reflecting some internal divisions of ever fractious Afghans. The second scenario (not exclusive) is that the outside power is far from monolithic but has factions of its own, and each factions has its favorites.

      I am not an expert of internal Palestinian divisions, like tribal structure, but one can clearly see divergent outer interests. In general, Dahlan and Abbas try to get some leverage in dealing with Israel through support from American and Gulf establishment. Given domination of Israelis (over Arab influence) in Washington, those are slim picking, but other options are not promising at this time. The biggest difference between the two is their history with Hamas, Abbas tacking back and forth between repression and reconciliation, while Dahlan being mortal enemy. Currently, Emirates and Saudis are mortal enemies of Muslim Brotherhood, as they are perceived to be the focus of "republican" tendencies in their region, while Salafis seem to be co-opted to the monarchies. And so is Egyptian government, with the military ruling caste playing the same role as the royals in the Gulf. As they are all clients of USA, they have their supporters in American establishment, even if the prevailing opinion within that establishment is that Abbas is a proven quantity, difficult to replace and so on. The "resolute neo-cons" dream of eliminating all inconvenient national movements in a dramatic fashion, while more realistic types try to manage the situation, perhaps waiting for good opportunities.

      PS. This is a must read for a student of politics: link to allaboutjeff.wordpress.com

  • Christie steps in deep doo-doo, promptly apologizes to Adelson. Whew!
    • Every ideology has "evil extensions". What I am saying is that liberal Zionists have a chance to show that they are "genuine" rather then "piano version for the sake of effective propaganda" by repudiating nuts like ZOA, Adelson and so on.

    • To many people here the Zionists are "all the same". However, there are different schools, with the main division that I dub "piano" and "forte". Forte option is one-state supremacism: everything Hebrews ever possessed is indispensable to "Jewish identity", a mystic construct that requires utter devotion from Jews and deference from non-antisemitic non-Jews. Piano option actually foresees some kind of peace and certain rights for non-Jews (sub-schools have different views what is a fair or "realistic" peace and how one can abridge minority rights).

      ZOA is financed by forte Zionists, or Zionist extremists, and Adelson is their top sugar daddy. So this mass kowtow in Las Vegas is obeisance to extremist Zionism.

      I think that this is an important distinction. The extremist Zionist ideology is certifiably insane, and as long as it is not acclaim as such, what we can observe is a rotten compromise between a messianic-fascistic movement and a "normal narrow minded nationalism" as a lodestone of American foreign policy. No progress is possible without making the extremists laughing stock or worse in the eyes of American public.

  • A British Jew warns US Jewish orgs to heed rapidly-shifting world opinion
    • It is only the lens of "history written for Jews" that Dreyfus affair was the most important event in the French history of the respective decade , or that the most important factors driving the revolutions can be omitted etc.

    • I think that the British Jew was raised with Zionist paranoia with a consolation point "our cause is just, the important people see it, so we will prevail". If your remove "our cause is just" than we see a house build from cards.

      Of course, it is not entirely correct because the Zionist paranoia is built on a huge exaggeration. Anti-semitism is but one of many "anti-isms", and while it indeed took a disastrous turn with Nazism where that was ascendant for a historically brief period, it was more of an aberration than a rule. Thus precipitous decline of the position of Israel and Jews in the diaspora is not likely, yes, a dam is crumbling but there is no large lake on the other side.

      That said, the complacency of Zionists (which is build on a strange combination of complacency and paranoia) is misplaced as well. What we see in USA is the evolution of "support of Israel" toward "a cultural issue". In USA this means a right wing nutty issue. Historically, those issues do not fare well. It is "outside the mainstream" to be frankly racist. Frank homophobia was used to replace it, and not it is in fast decline mode, gay marriage getting legal in one state after another, and it is hard to remember that even 10 years ago it was a good issue to mobilize the right wing "base".

      Also, when polls ask "do you support Israel", the "yes" answers do not mean "in whatever it does now and whatever it will do later". Zionists try to straddle the divide between liberals and wingnuts, so far successfully, but it is such a contradictory feat that I do not see that it can last long. To keep PEPs peppy we have pinkwashing, and to keep wingnuts happy, we have "Judeo-Christian civilization and Biblical promises". If you are so Biblical, why do you suffer sodomites to live proudly? And if you are so progressive, what do you do with such anti-progressive chaps like Adelson?

  • 'The clash of civilizations’ theory is absolutely and completely dead
    • Conflicts, like other interactions, are more frequent among neighbors than among distant nations. The basic ways of "globalizing conflicts" is forcing themselves to be neighbors and/or overlords and trying to collect various squabbling parties as allies and their opponents as our opponents.

      First, the grand alliance concept as the guiding star of foreign policy is increasingly dubious. Right now our Administration tries to be more Ukrainian than Ukrainians: in latest news: of Ukrainian troops in Crimea, 1/3 wishes to switch to Russian army, 1/3 wants to rejoin Ukrainian military and the rest wants to go home. So we identified 1/3 of Ukrainian troops as our allies, but we cannot help them much. And if we could help, probably it would be just worse. Like we can help Israelis whom we identified as allies, and opponents as the lesser creatures (some enemies, some "do not care about them").

      Using clash of civilization to cobble alliances is only good for the suppleness of our spices because it forces us to bent into a pretzel.

  • Obama's European message-- self-determination, equality, dignity-- is null and void in Palestine
    • Incidentally. does American administration claim that the results of the referendum in Crimea were falsified? Russians point to many differences between the case of Kosovo and Crimea: Kosovo was detached from Serbia through a very destructive military intervention, and Crimea with very little destruction and death, there was no referendum in Kosovo but there was one in Crimea. Serbia had an elected government, and Ukraine, "revolutionary", overthrowing election results.

      At least there is some consistency: Crimeans should not live the way they choose, nor should Palestinians, unless it meets our approval which is granted on case-by-case basis (no stinking consistent principles to tie our hands or tongues).

      American policies toward former Soviet Union border with hilarious. Typical scenario: Secretary of State lands in Riga and makes a speech about importance of democracy blah blah blah. Next stop, Astana, and he/she tries to improve a deal of Kazakhstan with Chevron.

  • JJ Goldberg says Adelson's influence fulfills anti-Semitic belief
    • This "3000 years" remind me Harold Bloom's adage "numbers in the Bible are used for much more profound purposes than mere counting". Sometimes it is "3500 years", sometime even "4000 years", and according to recent studies, the ancestors of Hebrew arrived in Cana'an riding on camels before camels were domesticated.

      However, according to their own mythos, Jewish presence in Cana'an was highly intermittent.

    • This is an expression.

      When I read about the Peloponesian war, Greeks referred to Ionians and Dorians as "races", at least that was the translation. And clearly there were substantial differences, Athenians being more loquacious and Spartans, well, more laconic.

    • I stumbled once on a commentary on some website (onlinegamer.com or something like that) that this whole Israel-first shtick is simple a cover for his true agenda, which is to outlaw online poker. This guy is a clear and present danger to our freedom. (I do not give a squat about online poker, but clearly Adelson does not just hate unions and Palestinians, and his fellow tycoons have their agendas as well.)

      More seriously, the only way to cut the influence of guys like Adelson or Koch brothers is to make deference to tycoons toxic to the public.

      Of course, some tycoons are perfectly reasonable human beings, say Warren Buffet, but he does not throw his money into political process, so neither media nor politicians pay him much attention.

    • Being a repulsive figure does not help, of course. The guy competes with other tycoons who has the best tchotchke. First he became a king maker in Israel, which is comparatively cheap and easy. Then he thought about having the very own American president, and that is quite a bit harder. The only success in the last election cycle was to get rid of a Democratic senatorial candidate, a perfectly Zionist women by the way, who supporting a union during a strike against his casino.

      Adelson is perhaps no worse than Koch brothers, but those have at least enough intelligence to stay away from the spotlight. That this idiot and extremist is treated seriously by a major political party in USA is a sad testimony on our times. Yes, GOP is by no means free of idiots and extremists, but Adelson is definitely not giving credit to his race.

    • "four Republican presidential hopefuls are going to a Las Vegas hotel this week to kiss Sheldon Adelson’s ring..."

      This type of inaccurate reporting undermines my trust in the story. What kind of ring does Adelson have? I am sure though that he has a posterior etc.

  • Wash Post story on Adelson as Republican kingmaker leaves out his nuke-Iran agenda
    • Calling our leaders "wimps" is perhaps actual, and in that case, is in an insult? As far as the proof is concerned, the aftermath of the statements pretty much confirms them.

    • Honest or not honest, the working definition here is "performing acts of love in exchange for money and/or other goods rather than for genuine affection". By the way, if I were you, I would be very careful with "honest, hardworking prostitutes". For example, once I rented a car in Las Vegas and in the glove compartment was a brochure advertising entertainment establishment in adjacent counties, where you would need to drive in a rented car (I was heading elsewhere) showing the photos of "current or actual entertainers". Presumably, some photos were 20 year old, and some were current but not actual. So if you are satisfied with your entertainer to be either very pretty or very experienced (and you do not care which) you can follow the directions.

      At least with politicians we know who is very pretty and who is very experienced. Like: Obama, pretty, HRC, experienced.

    • The question I raised is whether the tycoons that interview politicians to check if they are worthy of splurging millions on them are loved by the politicians (as it may be the case with GOP, they are pretty consistent in expressing that love) or are mere tricks (as it may be the case with Democrats who are not as consistent).

      When a young beautiful women marries an octogenarian billionaire, she is usually not viewed as a whore (except for the dismayed family of the groom), but it is a tad unusual. I do not know if it should be called gerontophilia or plutophilia, but she may be a faithful wife.

      By the way, I meant to write "run on the platform", not "on the flatworm".

    • I have scant sympathy for "conservative movement". The basic dilemmas are: class warfare at home, warfare abroad or both. Thinking about it, "only warfare abroad" is one of the Democratic options.

      Of course, we can screw the lower income and middle class people in more way than one, so there are more differences, plus "culture wars". By the way, any reasons to respect Ted Cruz?

      The bottom line is that it is natural for a conservative to run on the flatworm "I will [deleted for all-family audience] super-rich people with more flair than other candidate". It is more like nymphomania than whoredom.

  • Avigdor Lieberman claims transferring Palestinian citizens is perfectly legal
    • It was a part-time job when he was a student in Israel. By the way, I knew very nice people from Moldova, and I am a bit miffed by harping on the origin of FM and his part-time jobs.

      It is much more interesting that he was found innocent of corruption and working with Russian mafia because all witnesses refused to testify -- it shows that some mafias are competent at their job! Or that he cruelly murdered Israeli national anthem -- hardly a murder of an innocent, but still, such cruelty should not be condoned.

      So he is a "mafia buddy" and a "murderer".

    • I am not sure if one can describe the proposal as "illegal". A peace treaty can pretty much agree on anything. It remains preposterous.

      Clearly, the top concern of Palestinians is that they were stripped of their property and communal rights (land in their communities that was classified as "Sultan's domain", Israeli prime ministers view themselves as sultans with all feudal privileges when they do not pretend to be modern folks), and exchange of land makes some sense if they are compensated with land for confiscation of land given to settlements. Transfer of the Triangle does nothing of the kind.

  • Iymen Chehade fights Chicago school's cancellation of his class
    • Battle of Shanghai:

      total engaged (both sides): 900,000, total casualties (both sides): 420,000

      Battle of Stalingrad: total engaged at the peak period: 2,180,000

      total casualties (full length of the campaign, I presume): 1,970,000

    • Thanks to JeffB for pointing to Chehade's ratings. This is perhaps a more enthusiastic review than most, but not by much: "I mean I love Iymen! This class was awesome. His teaching was great! Along with his Muslim charm! Tall, Dark&Handsome with 3 credits? Yes please! Take this class. It's a must!"

      If this does not describe a poisoner of young vulnerable minds, nothing will.

    • This describes the self-perception of Zionists (mind you, it is an endless repetition, but the first 36 seconds show it all).

      (they invented humus rather than shishkebab, but this is a minor detail).

    • JeffB:

      He has an ethical obligation to teach both sides. He seems to have trouble understanding that there are two sides: “because the conflict is not balanced: One side has more power than the other and has continually dispossessed them” is frankly a completely unacceptable excuse for not doing his job. There are plenty of political philosophies in which power is good, and the job of government is to control territory and dispossess enemies. A history professor should be aware of philosophies other than the ones he subscribes to.

      I am not a historian, but I was a history buff, and I have a little trouble in listing those "plenty philosopies". Fascism. Colonialism. Racism. Does it make "plenty"?

  • US desperate to keep futile peace process going a little longer
    • Kerry is a priest of a dead religion. Making such an occupation productive is not possible, so extending it is the most logical goal -- if you are getting paid.

      Perhaps the peace process prevents Kerry (and Obama) from even worse things to focus on, like saving Crimeans from the yoke of Russian rule. Or bringing Snowden back to the loving bosom of his Motherland. Or making/supporting coups against elected governments. (Haiti, Honduras, Ukraine, check, Egypt, OK, Venezuela, ah, try again.) Without unproductive efforts on the peace process, USA could do so much more!

  • 'NYT Book Review' owes readers an apology for printing blatant racism about Palestinians
    • It was a letter, thus obviously a "reader opinion".

      OTOH, it was the only letter on the topic, which makes me wonder why it was selected. Perhaps because the author is a retired scientist and a poet? And his name is sooo nice?

  • Some liberal Zionists will blame Netanyahu for failure of talks
    • Enforcing naval blockade against Israel would be simplicity itself, if port authorities in Mediterranean and Red Sea would cooperate: one ship would patrol the Strait of Gibraltar and a pair would do the job in the Strait of Bab el Mandeb.

    • "I do not think that architects can be blamed for governmental policies".

      But some may beg to differ, as in the case of the most famous architect of Nazi Germany: "On July 18, 1947, Speer and his six fellow prisoners, all former high officials of the Nazi regime, were flown from Nuremberg to Berlin under heavy guard.[108] The prisoners were taken to Spandau Prison in the British Sector of what would become West Berlin".

  • Israeli embassy pressured Amnesty to cancel launch of 'apartheid' book -- Ben White
    • "Its committed, hard-core adherents, as distinct from a larger body of the more traditionally religious, are thought to account for some 20 to 25 percent of the population."

      Israeli messianic combination of fascism and religious zealotry is a bit hard to characterize, because it combines genuine religious nuts, like Zionist Chabadniks (I am not sure if the entire Chabad is Zionist) with pure secular ultra-nationalist who do not believe in God but believe that He gave Kana'an to Jews. However, there seem to be a continual shift from secular to religious Zionism.

  • Obama doesn't talk to Jimmy Carter -- because of Israel
    • Sometimes I wonder why Obama bothers with all the subtle positioning. He does not have credibility with Zionists, because his initial "freeze settlements" policy, and with non-Zionists because he abandoned it. The his man Kerry obfuscated Israeli obstructionism and tolerated the ridiculous requirement "recognizing Israel as", and continuing settlement expansions and murderous "policing", and now relents, again, no credibility in either direction.

      No wonder that Ya'alon is bad-mouthing him, and so does Mondoweiss. Will the next Democratic Presidential primary be a contest who is the wettest noodle of them all?

  • Kerry isn't satisfied by Israeli minister's non-apology for calling Obama a wimp
    • Ironically, most of us would agree that Obama/Kerry policies are feeble. What would be more helpful is not a demand of apologies or even dismissal of Ya'alon, but a return to the demand that Israel freezes settlements, including East Jerusalem, and that the line of control 1949-1967 should be the basis of a peace settlement -- something that supposedly is an official American policy, and should be an actual policy.

  • Now the US is trying to 'delegitimize' Israel's defense minister
    • Israel is very cosy with Uganda, by the way.

      While Museveni started as a competent and more benevolent replacement of a previous dictator, he is quite erratic. But doing some odd favors to Israel is a time proven way of gating a free pass from USA.

  • Johansson got career boost from 'comic farrago' over SodaStream -- 'New Yorker'
    • Sorry, I did not mean to be patronizing, but it is a fact that most people are quite ignorant of the situation in other countries, and Scarlett in particular seems to leave thinking to her manager. She is a cute girl, and that requires some effort and wide knowledge of fashion, make-up, diet and what-not, and acting properly.

      Non-cute males can also be effortlessly ignorant, and follow news and gather information filtering out all foreign affairs. The example of "Christie's ignorance" is not good, because the tactic of bullying local politicians with sticks and carrots to extract endorsements was surely designed in his presence, and with his approval, and perhaps his idea to begin with. By the way of contrast, Scarlett is merely paid to say her lines.

    • This is entertainment column, so I would give it some slack.

    • You talk to little with real people.

      Years ago I knew a grad student who got a roommate from Political Science. Not to look to dumb, she quickly read some reference materials like "The Economist Yearly Book of Facts" (cite from memory, it is admirably thin). Then she tried a freshly learned nugget on me: "which country has the largest Muslim population"? "India?" "No, Ireland!". "Could you check it again?"

      The conclusion is that it is indeed wise to make a rehearsal before trying to impress people.

  • Israeli high school student leader calls youths' refusal to serve 'declaration of war'
    • Even if you have Orwellian inclinations, it is a strange accusation. "Treachery", "spitting in the face of all their colleagues", "sawing (through?) the branch upon which we all sit", but "declaration of war"? This is weird. Actually, not weird but simply showing low level of communication skills, using the first locution that is remotely related to the topic at hand. To suggest a more felicitous turn of phrase one can study our politicians faced with a perceived insult to national honor, but quite a bit short of war. That happened when Russia refused to deliver a fugitive citizen of USA back to the loving bosom of his mother country.

      "They're always putting their finger in our eye," said Schumer. ... The Arizona senator [McCain] called Putin's refusal to expel Snowden "a direct slap in the face to America." In another interview, "Russia has stabbed us in the back and each day that Mr. Snowden is allowed to roam free is another twist of the knife," Schumer said.

      PS. It is worth to notice that a refusal to serve in IDF by 60 NON-HAREDI citizens of Israel is newsworthy.

  • Kerry tries to get out of Jewish-state trap set by Netanyahu and the lobby
    • As you point out, the issue is weird.

      For starters, "recognition" is "declaratory", and the meaning of it is symbolic.

      However, I do not recall an example of a state demanding to be recognized "as". Imagine that The Republic of Venice would negotiate with the Duchy of Parma and suddenly demanded to be recognized as The Most Serene Republic of Venice. Trying to check for this post, I was little surprised that by native country also called itself a Most Serene Republic, because in Latin it is Serenissima, but the word use in my language means "most bright" or "most liminous". Imagine The Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania trying to sort out with Venice which state is more serene.

      The demand is of course crazy, and is basically a litmus test if the other parties present at negotiations may follow Israeli demands, however whimsical. Sadly, Americans may. I think that sad outcome of the negotiations is a foregone conclusion, and Kerry has to work hard not to be recognized as a total idiot.

      A comment on "Kerry/USA being duped". It is a bit hard to imagine.

  • Does Israel Have a Right to Exist as a Jewish State?: An excerpt from Ali Abunimah's 'The Battle for Justice in Palestine'
    • States surely have rights, something that Israel routinely violates. Like right to have air space not violated by air force of other countries that harass citizens with sonic booms or worse. Barring extremes, states also have the right to make internal arrangements as they see fit. But imagine Lebanon demanding to be recognized as a state with sectarian organization of politics and severe restrictions for non-residents, or Gulf states demanding the right to be states that enforce debt bondage. Or Rwanda demanding the recognition as a Hutu state.

    • about "one shekel one vote"

      The original democratic paradigm was "one battle axe, one vote" which was naturally evolving. All arm bearing adults of a tribe or nation could vote, and a minority had the right to acquiesce, or resist and get a whooping from the majority. Historians call it "armed people democracy". Zionists, in their attempt to recreate the golden age of ancient Hebrews, connect "rights" with "military service", and effectively, Israel is also "armed people democracy". The current ruling majority tries to put the non-IDF serving folks in their proper place, and the sentiment is to cut their rights, benefits etc.

    • Actually, what I find gruesomely fascinating is that a virtuous man offered his daughter to be raped to save a stranger or strangers. In Metropolitan Museum of Art you can see an Assyrian stella covered with laws, one of them being "If X kicks a wife of Y so hard that she miscarries, than Y should kick a wife of X so hard that she miscarries as well." Apparently, ancient Hebrews had a similar attitude. Many aspects of moral and legal codes of the Iron Age should be forgotten or have status of mere curiosities.

    • Because they are not strangers, admonitions to be nice to strangers do not apply to Palestinians.

  • Review of recent 'NYT' corrections raises doubts about paper's commitment to getting the facts right in Israel/Palestine
    • Derschowitz piece is bizarre in so many ways that it is truly cements the place of Newsmax as a manure pile with an upbeat name.

      For starters, I did not find anything addressing the title claim. Indeed, how many of those children declared war on Jews lately? Dersch provided no example of such a child and such a declaration, so it seems that once he started a rant, he kept on ranting and forgot what was the ostensible occasion.

      Historical interpretations are bizarre, "ultra-nationalist Khmelnytskyi and ultra-anti-Semite Stalin". For example, among innumerable "plots" etc. that were targeted by Stalin's repression one was Jewish. He could as well be called an ultra-anti-Kalmuk. But still, the most striking feature of that garbage is total disconnect of the rant with any news.

      In a much better article in Israeli press the author called to keep the Dutch government responsible for spending money to further the cause of extermination of Jews, for example, by contributing to UNRWA. Translated onto Derschowian, it would be something like "Why the Dutch government funds extermination of Jews" followed by all injustices heaped by the Dutch on the Jews from the time of the Batavian conspiracy, with nary a mention of what motivated that flood of bile. Both are insane, but in the first case one could at least figure out what was about.

  • Michael Ratner's journey away from Zionism
    • “Imperial Ambition” versus “Neoconservative hubris”?

      My first thoughts were exactly that: what is the difference?

      Perhaps the difference is best explained by imperialist "realists". They do not go an extra intellectual mile to question if empire is good for a country. Britain lost her empire quite thoroughly, and without much loss. In its heyday, it was a very profitable institution, source of materials, markets for industry etc., but even then materials could be simply purchased, like cotton from southern USA, and markets existed whether they were colonies or not. However, colonies were transforming the economies of the subjugated countries in a way that was increasing profits, so it was making sense.

      But in late 1940s these reasons for the empire were largely gone, direct control would require money and blood with not much to show for it.

      After the Cold War, American empire is in the situation of the British empire 40-50 years earlier. Hard to show any gains anymore. I would argue that the combination of imperial dollar and "free trade" imperial ideology fosters de-industrialization and decline of standard of living, but even if you do not buy that, there is no clear explanation what USA gains by being directly engaged in all those places. Here come neo-cons: this project is about manufacturing causes for the empire and thus maintaining the imperial institutions like military-industrial complex. From that perspective, defending Israel is a perfect cause, and while lacking in rationality (and thus irritating the realists) it is still the most cherished brand in imperialist basket. "Control of world oil supplies, chiefly Persian Gulf" comes second, and then there are some forlorn causes like defending our allies in Europe and Far East against putative Russian or Chinese aggression (the problem with the last causes is that our allies can do it with some minimal help, so one could do well there with a fraction of the current cost).

      Neo-conservatives manufactured the cause of safe pro-Western democratic Middle East that would love USA and Israel, and additional utopian causes in former Communist states. Perhaps it would be good to present a good progressive-libertarian-realist critique, this is already emerging. Progressive view (we do harm there and at home) and libertarian view (we waste money there and loose liberty at home) are not the same, but they may be complementary. Realist critique is close to libertarian, if less comprehensive .

  • US Homeland Security investigates Israeli arms deal to Iran
    • Israeli military-industrial complex is quite business minded and some aspects can be only explained by the willingness to make some bucks. So you have some companies providing mercenaries, weapons, training in torturing etc. and intelligence surely knows what they are doing, but with right connections you can do everything (presumably, with some limits, but that may just mean that some shenanigans require super-duper connections). My speculation.

    • The ship was next to Sudan coast and presumably it would dock in Sudan. Israel attack Port of Sudan before, with similar claims. Basically, this is a piracy.

  • Video: 8-year-old boys stopped by soldiers-- 'you were about to throw stones'
    • I do not see how the Ashkenazi/Mizrahi angle is relevant here.

    • How about the missing videos of the Jordanian judge who was shot dead by IDF soldiers in "self-defense"?

      More civilized militaries train soldiers how to resolve situations with civilians without lethal force.

  • 'Daily Beast' labels Abbas 'stubborn' for refusing to recognize Israel as Jewish state
    • How the history will remember Obama? I inspected by crystal ball and these words appeared:

      We are the mediocre Presidents.
      You won't find our faces on dollars or on cents.
      There's Taylor, there's Tyler, there's Fillmore and there's Hayes,
      There's William Henry Harrison.
      Harrison:
      I died in thirty days!

      We...
      Are...
      The...
      Adequate, forgettable,
      Occasionally regrettable ...

      I would love a high school debate on the relative merits of Tyler and Taylor, or Clinton and Obama.

  • 'Netanyahu is a Nazi': Scenes from an Orthodox anti-military draft protest in Jerusalem
    • Deobandis seem very related to Wahhabi or Salafis, and quite clearly, Wahhabi/Salafis do not draw the same conclusions as other Sunnis. I do not understand the theological reasoning, but they cover their women much more, and are also more iconoclastic. Barelvi seem to be similar to sufis, so it is not a simply Indian theology either. Clearly, they have big trouble with Deobandis, like Taliban, and Deobandis get financial support from Saudis and perhaps other Wahhabi monarchs.

      If we have to draw parallels, Catholic steps from a word for "universal", and Orthodox, "right way", so clearly they are self-descriptors "we are the correct ones". Sunnis view themself as universal, "the Umma",

    • "Orthodoxy" means "the true way" if I recall. It may beggar belief why people would chose a wrong way if "the true way" is available, but it is actually quite natural if regrettable. Personally, I am an agnostic (meaning, I am not eating theists for lunch) but theistic beliefs are very interesting. So, back to "orthodox Islam". Since the word is Greek, Muslim would not describe themselves as Orthodox, but some do claim to follow "the true way". OK, many do.

      As I was surfing the web, I found out that the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) predicted that the Faithful will split into seventy two sects, and the followers of one of them will go to the Paradise, while the rest to the Lake of Fire. One web source stressed a lot the need of following the correct sect, which is Barelvi (of course!). By the way, some Barelvis view Wahhabism as a result of a Jewish conspiracy.

    • You got it all wrong. Only few of them oppose Zionism (most such Orthodox did not emigrate to Israel). To the contrary: they defend Israel with their studies and prayers. Moreover, and most importantly, they defend Israel as a Jewish state, not some amalgamation of cafes and industries that could as well be in Singapore. This is what Netanyahu demands: the right of Israel to be a Jewish state.

      But it shows that it is highly contentious what a state has to do to be Jewish. Some say that Torah study should be the top priority, and their numbers are increasing.

  • Caught in an honest moment, Kerry casts doubt on the 'peace process'
    • There should be headlines "Secretary of State was honest of 0.2 second". It does not happen every day, mind you.

    • It is next to impossible for Abbas to "cave in". There are plenty of reasons, but one is that the Israelis would need to actually present some proposal that could be accepted or rejected. A proposal that would satisfy a more militant half of the current coalition would not pass a laugh test, so Netanyahu does everything to avoid making any. Failing a laugh test could have adverse consequences like sanctions in Europe and other places. Angering the militants could result in political or even personal demise (I can picture Ya'alon throttling the traitor PM with his own hands). Hence picking issues that hopefully will clinch the talks into a stalemate, and with luck, intransigence of the Palestinians who, regrettably, are egged on by external powers, and thus refuse to make necessary painful concessions could be blamed.

      Just look at recently discussed proposal by a former ambassador Oren to unilaterally impose borders in the event of the failure of peace negotiations where he refused to elucidate what is it that Israel should impose. In that, Oren is a true man of Netanyahu faction. Structurally, an Israeli government can offer a peace deal only if it demonstrates that it was forced to make such a bad deal (and ANY deal will be decried as a bad one) by bad meanies. From that perspective, the vilification of Obama and Kerry was actually a step in the good direction. Alas, the candidates for indispensable meanies refuse to play their role to the end, making benevolent noises etc.

    • I think "productive meeting" in diplomatic speech is just a tad above "frank exchange of views" that is used for encounters that are just short of a physical assault, as in this picture:
      link to cdncms.todayszaman.com
      Just mentally photoshop Kerry to the middle position etc.
      And this is a result of the search "Images: productive meeting":
      link to store.ragan.com
      So the question is if the current phase of the peace process looks more like the first picture, or like the second one.

  • State Dept to 'check out' vicious attack on Palestinian athletes
    • Don't joke like that, otherwise they will forbid to bring cottage cheese on-board planes (quark in German). Actually, throwing a quark container into someone face can be quite hilarious, and the victim, blinded and humiliated, so it can be a practical option. And one can make it at home from legal ingredients.

    • I think you exaggerate about guns. I recall my surprise when I was a wee lad and I opened a drawer of my father desk, and there was a pistol and a box of ammunition. He was an active duty military at the time, but as far as I could tell, later he did not keep his "personal weapon" at home. I do not recall any evil designs.

      Giving power and vilifying indoctrination is THE witch brew here. There was an incident in Arizona when a women reported that her depressed husband threatened suicide and went to a park with his gun. Police dispatched a SWAT team whose member shouted "get the bad guy" and promptly track down the husband and shot him dead.

      However, there are similarities and distinctions. American public is much less supportive of such police actions than Israeli, if you count reader comments, the percentages of supporters of "they deserved it" are 25% and 95%. The justice system in USA is not thoroughly rigged, and citizens and their families regularly get redress through civil cases (with criminal cases, not so regularly).

    • Perhaps one should also cite the Israeli version which is sufficiently plausible for the State Department to put it in "we will check" file rather then "we deplore".

      The lawyer told Haaretz that the two suspects told him they bought cigarettes at a nearby store and were shot as soon as they lit a match. Immediately after, they were attacked by dogs. They claim the Border Police troops beat them, then dragged them to the base – 300 meters from where they were attacked. They claim they were beaten inside the base as well.

      In response to inquiries, a Border Police spokesman said, “During operational activity, a group of individuals was seen just seconds before throwing bombs at security forces. When they saw the Border Policemen, the group attempted to run away and tried again to throw bombs at the policemen. The policemen initiated the protocol for opening fire in order to neutralize the threat. The suspects were apprehended, and a bomb was found on them, which has been deactivated.”

      The response included a picture of the bomb, but did not include any answers to the claim that the suspects were beaten.

      To my recollection, members of Border Police are particularly enthusiastic, compared with other units of IDF, so once they "initiated the protocol" it was really hard to stop. The succession of events is a bit curious, first the suspects were observed about to throw bombs, then they were thoroughly disabled, then a bomb (singular by that time) was found -- how was it observed earlier? -- and duly photographed. According you the youngsters, they had nothing more lethal then a cigarette lighter.

      It reminds me a story by Jorge Louis Borghes about a place were ideas are actually alive, so a search for an object fervently believed to exists always produces a material result -- sometimes more than once, resulting in slightly different copies.

  • Notes from the cells
    • The link between Brotherhood and Hamas may not be artificial, but may I remind you, it is always "the others" who are "all the same". The tag of "terrorists" was applied arbitrarily to both. This tag is a mockery at the best of times, the same organization is "terrorist" when it operates in Pakistan and "freedom fighter" when it operates in Iran, to give but one example.

      The current junta in Egypt fits every facet of the definition of fascism. Yea, they had a support of a popular movement, and they call all opponents "terrorists". Israel presents a more mixed picture, some opponents are called terrorist, some savages, and some fellow travelers, one can see a much higher level of sophistication than in Egypt.

  • Mainstream press embraces Netanyahu's speech as supporting Kerry initiative
    • BDS is only one of innumerable savage hordes that roam on the wrong side of the moral divide. One of he newest are "camel deniers", sadly assisted by archaeologists from Tel Aviv who estimated the time of camel domestication as close to 900 BCE. "This would be almost 1,000 years later than the time of the patriarchs, when camels first appear in the Bible. The most memorable account is the story of Abraham's servant, Eliezer, in Genesis 24, who is sent by Abraham to find a wife for his son Isaac. He finds Rebecca, who not only draws water from a well to quench Eliezer's thirst, but also waters his 10 camels."

      It is nice to see the agnostic Prime Minister to defend the literal truth of Genesis account.

  • Anti-anti-semitism: How did a movement against bigotry lend itself to another form of bigotry?
    • Zionists either do not appreciate the deep shift in the (most of) Western viewpoint that happened after Zionism was formed, or bemoan it as an unfortunate development. Five years before Balfour declaration British Parliament made South African Act that let the White South Africans free to enact/maintain Apartheid (many aspects of Apartheid were already present). This was a solid act of legislature, and South Africa was a British possession, not a Mandate to be administered for the benefit of the inhabitants. Legal foundations of Apartheid preceded the favorite legal documents of Zionists by several years (and were much more solid), not accidentally, as this was the European way of thinking 100 years ago: creating colonies and putting natives in their correct place was THE thing to do. It offered profits, a high minded mission and added to national pride. Everybody who was somebody had colonies. Thus as United States and Germany got the feeling that they are "somebody", or "belong to top nations", they had to get colonies. Questioning the need would be as bizarre as imagining a gentleman without a top hat, high collar, cane, gloves -- and colonies!.

      Consequently, Zionism was respectable precisely because it was colonialist. No "mere colonialism" in those days. Jews could advance from their unglamorous shtetls to being one of the moons circling around the Jupiter that was British Empire. And yea, they had Biblical/historical claims fervently believed by pious agnostics, created a new culture with a new language, but Afrikaners had all that too.

    • Most of discourse on anti-Semitism by professional (or amateur) anti-anti-Semites suffers from the flawed frame. To me, the correct frame is to view it as a sub-species of intolerance, and thus the desirable opposite is tolerance. But to them, this is a totally separate phenomenon and the desirable opposite is philo-Semitism and more recently, philo-Israelism (support Israel in any conflict and dispute).

      The political discourse is unfortunately build on flawed frames that put disputes in convenient boxes. One has to go out of the box, and sometimes, burn the box. Otherwise we are drawn into disputes if assassins are superior to terrorists, if slaughter with racial or religious motivation is worse that slaughter with political motivations and so on.

      Tolerance is not a natural state for humans. The most sustainable modes of hunter-gathering and early agriculture had to avoid excessive concentrations of humans and constant low-grade warfare was conducive to ecological balance and productivity. Our minds are geared to categorization and that is closely related to the creation of stereotypes. Tolerance requires much effort. It is only natural, but not laudable, that anti-anti-Semitism developed new brands of intolerance, with its own "Protocols of the Elders of Leftist-Islamist Conspiracy".

  • Netanyahu mentions 'BDS' 18 times in denouncing movement and its 'gullible fellow travelers'
    • [...] the line I want to draw today is the line between life and death, between right and wrong, between the blessings of a brilliant future and the curses of a dark past.
      [...]
      the dividing line between decency and depravity, between compassion and cruelty. On the one side stands Israel, animated by the values we cherish
      [...]
      on the other side of that moral divide, steeped in blood and savagery, stand the forces of terror — Iran, Assad, Hezbollah, al- Qaida and many others.
      [...]
      one movement that’s definitely on the wrong side of the moral divide is the movement to boycott Israel, the so-called BDS.

      There you have it, forces of savagery and terror: Iran, Hezbollah, Mondoweiss and so on.

      Prime Minister made a speech chock full of specific clames, most of them familiar to us, if not necessarily factual. One claim

      And which country in the world doesn’t have water problems? Yep. Israel. (Applause.)

      raised my eyebrows, but it actually has a logical explanation.

      Dov Amitai, president of the Farmers Association in Israel, stressed that the shortage of rainfall has had a particularly negative impact on the cattle industry.

      “The shortage in precipitation has caused a reduction in the volume of pasture, and at this stage cattle herders are concentrating their herds in limited plots and serving them food,” Amitai said.

      Although expectations for potential rains next week had given the herders hope, it is uncertain whether grazing lands would be able to recover from such a long period without rain, he added.

      A good rainy season typically provides ample cattle grazing from mid-December to mid-May, Haim Dayan, CEO of the Israeli Cattle Breeder’s Association, explained.

      Meanwhile, the cattle feed purchased by the herders has become increasingly expensive.

      “In the situation in which the rains come late, the period of feeding cattle becomes longer, and taking out the cattle for natural grazing is delayed,” Dayan said.

      Yaron Solomon, head of the settlement department and coordinator of the economic, finance, and agriculture committee of the Israel Farmers Union, expressed hope that the government would declare an official drought, because such a declaration comes with compensation for the farmers, who pay sky-high rates for additional water.

      “In Israel there is no shortage of water; the only problem is the price of the water,” he told the Post on Monday night.

      This is from a leftist rag jpost.com. In a nutshell, if the government of Israel admits to having water problems it has to give some sustancial subsidies to farmers, so it saves a lot by denying it.

  • Thought experiment. Dateline Ukraine
    • Can you explain the difference, other than Russia offered many billions in aid, and the West nothing close to it?

      Ukraine's problem is that the name means "Borderland" and it remains a borderland. Thus you have two rather stable coalitions, "west" and "east+south" with more than 40% of votes, but no stable center. Moreover, the "western" coalition tends to splits into parts with leaders hating each other.

  • ‘Safe Hillel’ Exposed: Undermining open dialogue in the Jewish community
    • My plan is to write a self-help book "How to binge drink responsibly and other practical advices".

      Of course, a chapter on ethical ZIonism should be included.

  • Sheldon Adelson to honor Sean Penn at neocon ball
    • Clearly, the standards to obtain the reprieve from prison in the form of house arrests are lax in Bolivia, and so is the supervision under the house arrest. Sean Penn recommended such a reprieve for a person sentenced in a criminal case, and that person fled the country, which also seems to be rather simple in Bolivia.

      It seems to me that Penn should apologize to Bolivian authorities rather then accepting awards for his part in the affair.

      Full disclosure: the winter is rather harsh this year where I live, and the Bolivian cap (hat?) from alpaca wool I got last summer is really working great. You can bike in 0 F in that cap (add some hoods).

    • About the plant: "According to the application [for the search warrant ...] some 80 percent of the workforce was illegal [including] rabbis [from Canada] responsible for kosher supervision ..."

    • Without reading the link, it is possible that meth was the only kosher product at that plant.

  • Israel lobby group compiles secret dossiers on pro-Palestinian speakers
    • I could not resist to aswer the next question (even though I am not a lawayer)

      As a lawyer, you must be acutely aware of the difference between South Africa whose laws set up apartheid and Israel whose laws strive to ensure equal human and civil rights for all. Are you intentionally deceiving this audience by claiming Israel has an apartheid system or do you really not understand the difference?

      As you should be aware, the political culture of Israel is hostile to the notion of equality. For example, the principle that all Jews should be treated equally was rejected by the Knesset, a secular male Jew is obliged to serve 3 years in the military and a religious Jew serves for 16 months in a special unit, and if a secular male Jew refuses he goes to prison, and nothing much happens for a religious Jews. Treatment of Jews versus non Jews is of course even more disparate. Property rights of non-Jews are abrogated while Jews benefit from legal and illegal confiscations. There are tens of laws that give privileges to Jews over non-Jews, while the way law is practiced produces even more radical differences.

      Most importantly, burdens and injustices imposed by the occupation match the original South African apartheid, yes they are different in details but in no way less onerous.

    • I do not find info on activists particularly offensive, I am more allergic to the idea of preparing "good questions" for the simple students who could not come with appropriate sophistry on their own. Look at the first question prepared for "attractive Noura Erekat", a law professor at Temple:

      You wrote that your family worked very hard to maintain your Palestinian identity and to keep you from becoming ‘Americanized.’ Can you please explain what aspects of Americanization were most offensive to you and what aspects of Palestinian political and cultural life should be introduced into the US?

      Yet, it can be beneficial because it allows to prepare answers! My stab: "Thank you for a very stupid question. Every parent has to work with children to maintain family values that are different from values that are often predominant in schools and colleges, so they would cherish their own language, religion, food, value academics over athletics and so on. For that matter, the popular American culture as it really exists in schools worries many American parents too, and the answer is not an isolation but confidence that your children should have in their own values.

      The reason I am saying that this is a stupid question is that you insinuated that I detest American culture and political system, which is a bit rich coming from the proponents of leaving America to live in a theocratic state of their own."

  • 'When I go into the class, I am preparing tomorrow's citizens for the next war'
    • By the way, this is civil defense at its best, a Beijing female civil defense battalion parading at 60-ties anniversary of the Peoples' Republic (I assume, university students carefully selected for their looks). Enemies, bow to the power of pink uniforms with white accessories:

    • To me, it brings sweet memories of youth (70s in Poland). Cold war meant being prepared for the total war, and the citizens had to be prepared. Trying to understand would make you laugh or have constant nightmares. You see, ostensibly were were prepared for a thermonuclear war. Not some laughable fission bombs, but babies that annihilate everything in some radius (3 miles? 5 miles? memory is fading) and the create a ring of firestorms of another few miles and a substantial contaminated area, up to 30 miles away. In the case of a hit, there is a lot of stuff that you can usefully do, assuming you are outside the first two zones of destruction. So we had once a week class in high school and appropriate classes in university for "civil defense".

      One observation I had is that to destroy a country it suffices to raise the nuclear alarm.

      My funniest memory comes from high school, the teacher was a true maniac who loved his job. Among other stuff, we learned the highly useful skill of marching four abreast with something akin to goose step. To the dismay of the teacher, we walked unevenly, until we reached the point when the whole class actually stomped in unisone, and the guy was amazingly happy. You can laugh, but this is really adrenaline pumping. My other fun with his class was trying to get the worst grades possible while still passing to the next grade. Poland was insufficiently militarized, so for him to fail me was not so easy, I was provided with make up opportunities that I used most grudgingly etc.

  • Meet the Jewish students who are taking on the Jewish establishment
    • Attilla was perhaps of Oriental race, however, Huns did intermarry and had an identity crisis.

      I guess "identity" is a neutral concept until it is used to oppress other people, and while it happens, it does not always happen.

  • BDS and the purveyors of Israel's democratic image
    • JeffB: "Today’s anti-Zionists are much more influenced by Palestinians and thus buy into 1950-70s anti-colonialism rather than human rights."

      ????? So colonialism is consistent with the concept of human rights?

      Mind you, colonialism in Israeli version is not a pretty "given them railroads, cash crops and modern court system", but dispossession, checkpoints, choking the economy, micro-bantustans and daily fun for settlers who wage their holy war for the land.

    • This example is hard to interpret. Saudis have their reasons to hate Iran: Wahhabi dislike of heretics and the paranoia that inhabitants of oil producing eastern province may be encourage to seek civil rights and get inspiration from Iran. For an aristocratic-theocratic regime, the neighboring republican-theocratic-heretic regime is a natural enemy. Holy War!

      Israel has a weaker reason. For non-Gulf Arab states, there are no particular reasons to oppose Iran, actually, they may have more problems with Saudis.

  • When you type 'apartheid' on Google search, it supplies 'Israel'
    • For "Jew" my top hits were "Jew jokes" and "Jew or not a Jew" followed by "Jewfro".

      For "apartheid" I actually had to add "apartheid i" to get Israel on the second position.
      Also, "Apartheid Israel" gives only 19 million results, and "Apartheid Africa" gives 42 million.

  • A month later, de Blasio's AIPAC declaration continues to roil New York
    • “There is no closer relationship on earth — literally no closer relationship — than that between New York City and the state of Israel.”

      It is high time for NYC to pay attention to the relationship with New Jersey. Or Yonkers. And as his sacred responsibilities go, this reminds me a policeman in Florida who thought that it is his responsibility to arrest a women who told him that she is recording him. Later the legal adviser of that police department informed the troopers that citizens actually can legally record them.

  • 'Can you tell who is an Arab?' appeal is tax-deductible
    • "This problem has hit our frum community".

      "We estimate there are over 10,000 girls physically or emotionally trapped. "

      Some would say that this is a gross under-estimate, since we should really count all girls in that community.

    • The angle of Jewish men being unappealing was explored by Shas during the last Knesset campaign. The video ad was controversial and pulled out, so I am not sure if one can find in on you-tube. Poor chaps are in the danger of getting gorgeous Russian brides WITHOUT proper conversions, and Shas promised to do something about it.

    • Christian Zionists want to wait for the Savior, but Nusra is ready now, so there is some difference.

      The logic is that once the wounded fighters will be exposed to the charming presence of Israeli Prime Minister visiting their bedsides, they will love Israel. This is an ingenious plan, but shouldn't they use Scarlett Johansson instead? Or at least Ayalet Shaked?

  • Dear Bibi (the letter David Cameron should have sent to the Israeli Prime Minister)
    • I think the letter should have some edits.

      For example, in UK there was this nice salutation

      "I remain your obedient servant"

      Or I would add a paragraph:

      Sadly, however tragic the floods are, I am deeply relieved that I do not have to speak to Knesset. You should do something about the grumpy guys in your own coalition. I just do not see how I could compose a speech that will not make me ridiculous at home and yet avoid walkouts, lecturing etc. by your minions. Is something wrong with your highly praised desalination plants that your country is affected by an epidemic of Tourette syndrome?

      If so, I could offer you help of the British companies that represent top-notch state of the art in that area.

      PS. I just checked that the full valediction is "I beg to remain, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant," but I would skip on "passionate friend". For some reason, it reminds me Tony Blair, and that in turn causes a gag reflex.

  • Israelis don't trust Obama because he is 'distant' and tried to 'unBush' US policy -- 'Haaretz' editor
    • I think that Obama concluded a while ago that Kerry has an impossible mission, chiefly because Obama never made impression that he is mentally slow (unlike Kerry). The only question is what why does Obama need this non-achievement?

      Some achievements are definitely to be avoided. For the young ones here, I recommend to either refrain from eating and drinking contest or at least make only perfunctory effort if it is hard to avoid one. Winning a game of chicken can be worse. Gaining trust of Israelis is one of those prizes that are better left unclaimed.

      Concerning the peace process, it is clearly to early to resurrect it. A low quality zombie can make its rounds, but that is about it. This chap is very much dead, and a more effective resurrection rites require both enormous energy and most auspicious circumstances, and both are currently lacking. It does not mean that nothing can be done to improve the circumstances in the future, and that is perhaps what is Obama doing (in part, by non-doing).

      So what are Obama's priorities? Clearly, number one is to avoid some FUBAR mega calamity, and attacking Syria and/or Iran would be a major step in that direction. Number two, maintaining image of "sufficient toughness" with terrorism. More speculatively, getting an agreement with Iran could be a priority: energy prices can go down, stimulating the economy, and the civil war in Syria can wind down, removing some wind from the sail of Salafi extremists (usually labeled al-Qaeda, but some people prefer "Taqfiris"). On that priority Obama experienced resistance from an unwieldy alliance of Israel, AIPAC, and Saudia Arabia (UA for short), and he seems to overcome it quite ably.

      UA went against a priority of USA, most of EU, China, Russia etc. its influence was dented, and that is part of the reason why Israel suffers in its relation with Europe. It is impossible in Europe to create such Hasbara media domination as we see in North America, and the deference in EU to Israel was largely cause by pro-American reflexes predominant in most European political parties. Once the relationship of Israel and USA looks colder, Israel suffers from closer scrutiny. Obama achieved that with nary a fingerprint.

      But EU moves with alacrity of glaciers, so the effects will take time. In the meantime, the only thing Kerry needs to do is to expose Israeli militant irrationality while making only the barest of the explicit hints. This is doable, and anything more, not so much.

  • Hillary Clinton to do NY fundraiser with man whose 'only agenda' is Israel
    • More sanguine predictions merely say that there will be a major change in the values of real estate: the tropical countries may become non-inhabitable, while Canada, Russia. Scandinavia etc. will gain most desirable location. Several billions of humans will be short of food, but as a species the humanity will adapt.

    • Heilemann is a nice guy, and smart and liberal, but spineless.

      "But"? Liberals' greatest fear is to be tagged "radical" and "out of mainstream". That imposes a number of taboos, places where they cannot trod and words that they cannot utter. To paraphrase the running joke of Stephen Colbert: Israel -- a great ally or the greatest?

      Lately, among liberals Israel seems to be downgraded to "great", although it is still safe to say "greatest". More precisely, the spectrum runs from "greatest" to "great but not smart" (bravo, Tom Friedman, to be on the liberal cutting edge).

  • Knesset member endorses settlement boycott
    • I totally miss the point why the existence of not utterly moribund "left" is a proof of a success of a state. I must admit that I have read about Max Weber, but I have not read him (or other state theorists), so it may be just me being ignorant.

      Concerning David Wilder, his is like a Zionist tachanka (check Wiki entry, especially "in culture", but the key words from the cited song is "you are our pride and our fame"). The hole point of having Israel is to have a place where Jews can be Jews, nay, where they can be more Jewish than elsewhere, where they can be as Jewish as a Jews can be. Settlers are out there to push the envelope for all of us. Perhaps this is problematic for ethno-rationality.

  • Effort to remove Jews from West Bank is akin to Nazi slaughter -- settler spokesman
    • I think crucifixion was a standard punishment for rebellion. "Approving" would mean that I agree with that standard, but this is a-historical thinking: even five hundred years ago it was the legal norm. Jewish rebels lost their individual and communal property, and from Imperial standpoint, the Temple was a focus of sedition. Pax Romana required some eggs being cracked.

      What I am trying to say is that the legal title that Jews had 2000 years ago was definitely lost. Right now, Mr. Wilder is illegally allowed to settle in an occupied territory.

    • The last Jewish kingdom became a Roman province when the Empire approved the petition of the subjects of the last king, a nasty piece of work by all accounts. Then the ingrates did not want to pay taxes, rebelled and were legally punished by the lawful authority.

  • 'NY Times' and 'LA Times' run op-eds by an AIPAC board member without telling readers
    • Siegel also wrote that Iran could benefit from Israeli water technologies like treatment of sewage or desalinization. Contrary to Siegel, wheel was not invented in Israel and Israeli water technologies are not superior to those available elsewhere.

      The a country that exports about as much as Slovakia and many times less then Belgium has such an excellent opinion about its technology? If not for Israeli work for Motorola, we would be forced to use Samsung mobile phones (or Nokia). And so we do!

  • Academic freedom with violence
    • Prof. Cary Nelson makes the case that while the Israeli state may have engaged in actions that deserve criticism or even economic boycott, the academic life there is a place of unfettered academic freedom, so it should not be boycotted. Then he states "Were an academic boycott of Israeli universities to be adopted by American institutions, I would be expected not to visit campuses in Israel and meet its courageous critics of their country’s policies. I can only say I would refuse such a prohibition. "

      If they are so free, why the criticism requires courage?

      PS. I mention that Nelson is a professor because he is a former head of AAUP.

  • Goldberg slams Kerry for mentioning boycott-- though he saluted it as 'smart strategy'
    • When you make blintzes/crepes, the pan temperature is the key.

      If it is not hot enough, batter sticks to the pan, and too hot, you will burn them.

      The heat under BDS pan is still too low.

      Using the same analogy, one could conclude that the heat under the pan with Iran sanction is fine, but concluding that in this case you can keep the pancake on the pan forever is very wrong, you have one minute to make it (one also has to flip etc. but I will try to avoid runaway analogy).

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