Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 452 (since 2009-09-01 03:29:37)

robin

Seeking justice in Israel-Palestine.

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  • 'Washington Post' editorial says settlements don't matter
    • Both sides insist that the other can make do with a road corridor.

      So, unlike everything else, Ma'ale Adumim is not supposed to be subject to negotiations? Israel gets that part of the West Bank automatically?

      I guess the Palestinians have already waived their claim to that land... or the Washington Post just annexed Ma'ale Adumim to Israel.

  • Rudoren is a step in the right direction
    • I agree and, given what we've come to expect, I actually find it amazing that she a) read something on Mondoweiss b) admitted to it publicly and c) thought about it and responded. Even though her response took a mostly defensive tone, I think engaging with the criticism inevitably leads to some reevaluation. And indeed her response seemed to hint that she was reexamining her initial "natural" reaction to the Palestinians she saw--hopefully also reflecting on why she was able to dehumanize them so casually.

  • Israeli hasbara cartoon features white man fighting jungle animals
    • Good point. This cartoon is revealing in a lot of ways. Notice also that the clearing is surrounded by jungle, not on the edge. Not a natural occurrence but clearly conquered and colonized.

      And the constricting action of the snake seems like a great representation of Israeli fears. Though Israel largely manages to avoid the sharp pain of a bloody attack (in the cartoon, a bite), Israelis increasingly feel threatened with sudden extinction. Iran is one example of that, but the representation here seems more related to the Palestinian "demographic threat": a tightening noose, in their minds, threatening to abruptly end the life of "Israel" defined as an apartheid state. (Israelis show that they define their state that way by describing Palestinian political inclusion as "the destruction of Israel".) And to many of them (though perhaps not to people who recognize Palestinians as normal human beings), that development implies physical violence and death on a large scale.

    • The bunny must be Jordan.

  • Israel supporters (and IDF officials) proudly display their bigotry on Twitter (UPDATED)
  • Adelson says Obama dislikes Israel and will 'act on his true feelings' in a second term
    • Of course a lot of these critiques amount to really tiresome nitpicking, even if you accept a pro-Israel reference point. But some of this is pretty smart (I guess I had imagined Adelson as a neanderthal in every way). Pro-Israel types are absolutely right to worry about leaders having personal relationships with Palestinians, because of course it's harder to support crushing a nation when you know some of its people personally.

      If this is was the only issue you cared about, these would be good reasons to pick Romney. He certainly projects as at least having fewer qualms about backing Israel comprehensively, as well as a more rabidly pro-Israel political base.

      Where I think Adelson misses the mark in a basic way, is that he overestimates the political space that comes along with a second term. The political forces that have forced Obama's hands on this issue thus far (if you subscribe to that interpretation, and I basically do) should operate pretty much as effectively in a potential second term.

  • Walt, Munayyer, and Mearsheimer offer one state scenarios, and my response
    • The question is, if they were ever forced to choose, which would Israeli Jews give up first: supremacy (apartheid), or land?

      Land has importance to Israeli Jews as a concept (symbol of Jewish history, redemption), as a resource (economic, military), and as a place of residence. With 600,000 settlers in the West Bank and E Jerusalem (10% of Israel's Jewish population), Israelis are entrenching themselves on the land they would need to surrender for a two-state peace. The idea of supremacy, meanwhile, remains as fragile as it always has been.

      Overturning the idea of supremacy would be hard, but in this world we have seen it done. Relinquishing that land would take changing minds too (giving up the idea of a Jewish right to the land - to control it and even to be able to live there), but also uprooting huge numbers of people. It would involve enormous tangible pain and expense. I think they avoid that prospect above all else. In my view, the attachment to land and home are far more real, and certainly more honorable, than the drive to dominate or cage other human beings. (Even if, in this case, the two require some disentangling.)

      But that view could reflect my own idealism more than reality.

  • Occupy Wall Street and the struggle over Israel/Palestine
    • Isn't there a risk that the movement will fail from not being consistent?

      I thought Occupy Wall Street was about fairness, empowerment, and freedom. The name itself ("Occupy" + "Wall Street") appears to telegraph a denunciation of two interrelated forms of domination: military and economic. Wait, military and economic domination, isn't that Palestine's predicament? And isn't Palestine an American issue, with United States power serving as the backbone to Israeli apartheid? What makes this a "niche" issue -- that white people are not afflicted?

      On what grounds do you exclude Palestine from a movement calling for justice and people power?

      The separation between issues ("economic" vs. "foreign policy") is artificial. The opponents of OWS understand that, and therefore from the beginning defined the movement as anti-Israel despite no official OWS position on the matter. The connection is as simple as: an attack on concentrated power somewhere is a threat to concentrated power everywhere (though of course there are defined interests and specific links involved, as well).

  • Occupy Wall Street responds to controversy over Gaza flotilla
  • Could Goldstone's logic in defense of Israel have saved apartheid in South Africa?
    • South Africa’s enforced racial separation was intended to permanently benefit the white minority, to the detriment of other races. By contrast, Israel has agreed in concept to the existence of a Palestinian state

      So his argument boils down to: 'Israel hasn't admitted to racial supremacist goals [whereas South Africa did], therefore it's not apartheid'. The argument is ridiculous of course.

      But Goldstone, more than most, should know the premise is also ridiculous. South Africa did not publicly proclaim an intent to "benefit" Whites and "harm" Blacks, but, like Israelis, framed their apartheid system as an issue of constructive 'separation' and mutual 'self-determination' (because 'we can't live together'). It also "agreed in concept to the existence of" Black "states", in fact, SA promoted them as an integral component of its apartheid system.

      And the assertion that Israeli leaders don't proclaim the intent to maintain Jewish racial supremacy is only partially true, depending on which of their statements you listen to. They deny practicing apartheid and discrimination, but those denials are belied by their other statements about the "demographic threat" to the "state of the Jewish people" which would "cease to exist" if rightful (non-Jewish) residents returned to their lands. These statements can only be read to mean that Jewish control is an essential feature of the state.

      Goldstone is allowing Israel to absolve it's own responsibility for apartheid simply by employing euphemism, while amazingly pretending that South Africa did not try to do the same.

  • Money for nothing and occupation for free: The 1994 Paris protocols on economic relations between Israel and the PLO
  • Why I’m in favor of going to the UN: A response to Joseph Massad
    • This is an interesting argument, with some compelling points. But I think it only has value if you ignore the deepening of the West Bank settlements.

      Ultimately, establishing "Palestinian sovereignty" is self-defeating if that sovereignty can never extend very far beyond the Area A bantustans. With the number of settlers now in the West Bank, their political power, and the rate at which they are increasing, there is no serious prospect of Palestinian sovereignty extending even to the Apartheid Wall borders, let alone the full 1967 borders.

      "On balance, however, the second intifada was perhaps even more successful than the first. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza and we now have a measure of sovereignty there"

      When the author is holding up contemporary Gaza (where Palestinians are arguably more degraded today than anywhere else) as an example of progress, we have reason to doubt whether his argument is sound. What exactly are you trying to achieve if that is your model? Gaza today is not real sovereignty, let alone the fulfillment of all rights. And yet the situation allows Israel to plausibly deny its control and its continuing violation of Palestinian rights.

      As far as I can see, the only positive result of this process would be if, after rejection in the UN, the Palestinian leadership proclaimed that the Oslo process had run its course and began developing strategies for achieving equal rights for Palestinians within greater Israel/Palestine.

      Palestinians must stop strengthening Israel's position by conforming to the same exclusivist ethno-nationalist ethos that underpins Zionism.

  • 'I prefer to live with Jews': A liberal Zionist argument for the two-state solution
    • Really interesting "conversation" as far as left-right dynamics in Israel, though. (For a leftie's story, the right comes off as relatively attractive.)

      Also, American is right to point out that people can and do find ways to live among their own kind in multicultural (and largely nondiscriminatory) societies. There are endless examples, including some extremely close-knit Jewish communities.

    • It's not about "giving up" a majority of some kind. (Through more ethnic manipulation, or what?) It's about simply not putting in place barriers to integration and change that violate individual and national (if you believe in such a thing, as Israelis do) rights. No state should be doing that.

    • "I want the Jewish state to be organized around my group, I assume that they want a Palestinian state to be organized around their group. [...] In the Middle East, there is little to suggest that other arrangements can work."

      No. There is nothing to suggest that this arrangement can work. Is there a more fundamentally dysfunctional political situation in the Middle East? In the world? We are talking about more than 100 years of continuous conflict since the advent of ethno-nationalist political organizing.

      Instead of putting all this energy into brutally separating people from each other and from land they hold dear, why not work on finding ways to live together based on rights and mutual respect? Fairness is a much more stable basis for political order than sameness.

  • NYT's Keller implies Iraq War aimed to save Israel from a 'holocaust'
    • RoHa said it best, preventive war is aggression plain and simple.

      We are not thinking soundly when we require countries to prove a negative in order to escape invasion.

      When you say "it seemed like a really bad idea to do nothing," you're illustrating the defect in how you and Keller were thinking about going to war. In your minds, war had become the default option, rather than the last resort. And so 'not initiating a war of conquest' becomes the derogatory 'doing nothing'. Well, there were plenty of better things to do.

    • Really good point. Even at the time, there were so many people calling out the lies. There was not a consensus. The people who believed the misinformation did so not because it was all they had to go on, or the most credible information available, but because they wanted a war for whatever reason. (In Keller's case the reasons appear to have been largely emotional/hormonal, besides his concern for Israel's interests).

    • We forget how broad the consensus was that Hussein was hiding [...] weapons [of mass destruction]

      This really galls me. It's like a deflection of responsibility for Keller's and the NYT's role in creating that false consensus, based on dishonest analysis. What would the NYT's value be if it just passively reproduced a pre-existing media consensus? If true that would be damning enough for the institution.

      But of course, with a reputation like theirs, we expect them to investigate, gather the best data, and analyze it with a cool head. And that's where they so poisonously failed in the build-up to the war. They bear such a huge responsibility for the catastrophe both because of their outsized reputation, and because of the willfullness of their deception (which Keller all but admits to, without truly apologizing).

      I also find it telling that in all this soul-searching and hand-wringing, he doesn't see fit to mention the two most salient facts of the war he's writing about: 1) the number of people killed and maimed, and 2) that it was, strictly speaking, a war of aggression precipitated solely by the United States.

  • Exulting over Libya
    • Although many object to features of the Fatah regime, it is not hated in the same way that the other regimes were

      Probably true, if only because the Israeli regime is worse and more influential in Palestinians' lives. It absorbs a bigger share of that anger and makes the PA look better in comparison. (And the PA has its loyal clients, like any autocracy, but probably more so because of the role of foreign aid.)

      But ultimately the Arab Spring (especially the Egyptian revolution) showed that anti-Israel, anti-U.S. sentiment can shift quickly from diverting anti-regime energy, to inflaming it once people make the connection between the weakness and spinelessness of their "leaders" and the power that Israel has to abuse them.

  • WASP society is disintegrating
    • I think the point was to describe a unique and idiosyncratic worldview, which incorporates elements that are, in a lot of ways, inconsistent.

  • Why do tent protesters ban the word 'occupation'?
    • It will end naturally and shortly if the spirit of the tent city demonstrations are encouraged for what they are “the rights and well-being of ALL Israelis”.

      But the demonstrators don't accept Palestinians under occupation as "Israelis". Ignoring the occupation does the exact opposite of uniting everyone, it arbitrarily sets one group apart and refuses them justice.

      To insist that they focus on the occupation, would stop the tent city movement, and accomplish nothing to change the relationship of occupation.

      Probably, but that would be no worse than having a tent movement that itself does nothing to end the occupation. Do you imagine that if everybody keeps quiet about occupation for long enough, Israelis will then change their minds spontaneously?

      The grim truth that you yourself are getting at, is that there's no political will in Israel to end the occupation or to treat Palestinians as human beings.

      You don't seem to grasp that Jews in Israel have created, and are engaged daily in maintaining, a system which privileges themselves over others who share the land. History shows nothing if not that people will infinitely rationalize such endeavors.

      Israeli Jews are not going to decide to end the occupation out of concern for "social justice" (they have made it clear that they are only concerned with social justice for Jews). Rather, they are going to end oppression, as all privileged groups have, in response to pressure -- whether it be moral, economic, diplomatic, social, or even military pressure. (I think nonviolent forms will be most effective.)

  • Will Israel's tent protesters awaken to the tents that came before theirs?
  • The Larry David peace plan
    • Oh man, I really have to watch this whole season.

      But, having only watched the clip shown in the previous MW post about the episode, I will say that Larry and Jeff (the characters) are not exactly "perfect gentlemen" or always right about everything. So if they're making ignorant comments about Palestinians, we're not necessarily intended to take those at face value, and I don't think most viewers of the show would. Rather, the satire is more likely aimed at the characters themselves and the mentality they represent.

  • Tent protests panic Netanyahu (and just might shake foundations of occupation)
    • I am cautiously hopeful that they could lead to one state, with equal rights for all, regardless of ethnicity, and an ingathering of Palestinian exiles.

      That would be a fantastic outcome. However, I can't be optimistic about that at all.

      It is hard to wrap my head around the idea that someone living in an apartheid society would devote energy to protesting on behalf of bohemians who can't afford apartments in their favorite posh neighborhoods.

  • First he found WMDs in Iraq-- now Jeffrey Goldberg finds 'Jihadists did this in Norway'
    • If the original post is quoted accurately by Flapola, Goldberg clearly added a clause to the first paragraph as well. After the phrase, It doesn't seem likely, on the surface the clause, if this is jihadist in origin appears in the later version but not in the original.

      That's a pretty convenient phrase to sneak in to the post's 'original' section, since it allows him to pretend that he didn't assume "jihadist" responsibility to the exclusion of any alternative (without evidence), when that's exactly what he did.

      And how does the later appearance of that phrase square with his explanations (which I frankly couldn't even read)?

  • 'LRB' dares to ask Palestinians what they want from Arab spring (Reset)
  • Jewish binationalists predicted declaring a Jewish ethnic state would plunge Palestine into unending war
    • There is a lot of racism in Alterman's article (which of course is supposed to represent a "liberal" and even "pro-Palestinian" point of view), starting with his narrative about the "naive" Ihud not finding a Palestinian partner. As Haber notes, Magnes and Arendt never represented a significant faction within the Jewish community -- they were as politically irrelevent as the few Palestinians who undoubtedly did hold comparable views. Their vision was never a real option that Palestinians could have accepted, declined, or negotiated with. (They were forced to respond instead to the tactics and aims of Haganah, Stern Gang and Irgun, which ultimately determined the fate of the region.) But in Alterman's formulation, there simply were not any Palestinians willing to tolerate an enfranchised Jewish existence in Palestine -- which for him is simply an article of faith, not worth historical questioning or even qualification -- while some Jews (however insignificant politically) remained "naively" tolerant.

      More subtle racism comes in his discussion of the need for Palestinian refugees to give up on the Right of Return. He writes:

      Those olive groves, those villages, those stone huts are gone forever and have been replaced by schools, factories, apartment complexes and concert halls.

      Alterman insinuates a narrative in which Jewish settlers bring civilization and high culture (in the form of "concert halls", an otherwise bizarre insertion) to a primitive land of "stone huts". Of course in reality, the Palestinians had a rich culture, and much of their finest architecture as well as their library collections were simply stolen during a process of mass expropriation. In most cases the Jewish settlers covered the vacated "stone hut" villages of the countryside with planted forests, not "concert halls".

      He offers another slander against Palestinian society while recounting a story which clearly contradicts his characterization:

      I asked Nusseibeh over dinner how he had managed to stay alive and healthy while saying the unsayable in a society where the frequent penalty is not the petulance of Abraham Foxman and Marty Peretz, but a bullet to the brain.

      On what basis does he generalize that way about Palestinian society, when the plain truth that he acknowledges is that Palestinians have not harmed Nusseibeh? Is he referencing the killing of collaborators? (Which should be clearly distinguishable from a matter of simply "saying the unsayable".)

  • Times coverage of 'fly-in' protest masks nature of Israeli control over Palestinian lives
    • This would make a great letter to the editor. The writer should send it in. (Might as well give it a shot.)

  • Eric Alterman on his dual loyalty and the U.S. pressuring Palestinians to accept 'their historic position'
    • Yes, he should be asked to define that phrase -- "historic position". Truly chilling and Orwellian.

  • Why I fell so hard for 'A Gay Girl in Damascus' (and why the hoax makes me angry and conservative)
    • Phil's reaction feels unfair to me. There's no reason that this white, western man's deceit should somehow reflect poorly on the Middle East. I think Seham and Angry Arab got it right. Also maggielorraine's point that this should only encourage us to be more active seeking out authentic Arab voices, and accurate information.

      I have to admit that I fell for this story, as well. I think what appealed to me was the explicit linking of an Arab feminist/gay rights agenda with an anti-imperialist one, at a time when so many westerners use women's rights and gay rights to justify brutal military interventions and Israeli domination.

  • 'Gay Girl in Damascus' deceit has damaged the cause
    • I think this should speak to the seriousness of Ali Abunimah, that even though this hoax 'damages the cause' as Eleanor K puts it, he still worked tirelessly and very effectively to uncover what was true.

      Hopefully, he can gain some credibility with the mainstream media, who seem not to take him very seriously despite his incredibly insightful and important work.

    • To all of this: yes!

  • Our demands (designing placards for a demonstration)
    • And who gets to be an Israeli citizen, es1982? All Jews, and only token Palestinians. It's their land too. That's why it's apartheid, even without the systemic discrimination against the token Palestinian citizens of Israel.

    • Really jonah? Some Americans will tell you different, and certainly many of them would have a few decades ago.

      Racist oppression always has its rationalizations. They are just never valid.

      But I like where you are going with this. Maybe you should express these sentiments in a placard of your own. Arabs: worse than Blacks!

    • The vast majority of Israelis – those who don’t live or spend any time in the West Bank – don’t have Jewish-only roads or Jewish-only neighborhoods, where Arabs cannot drive or live, and don’t have walls separating them from Arabs.

      This rationalization is plainly not true. Whether they drive on them or not, all Jewish Israelis have access to the settler roads. Only Palestinians don't. It is ethnic privilege and not settler (Israel makes no such distinction) privilege. And the only Jewish Israelis who don't live behind "walls separating them from Arabs" are those settlers living in outposts beyond the Wall.

  • Has J Street abandoned the two-state solution? (and why the liberal Zionist vision for two states is not morally justifiable)
    • Fantastic quotes, Shmuel. And your comments are patient and thoughtful as always.

      wondering jew, I honestly can't tell if your question is issuing a threat ('because it is an army of and for Jews, the IDF will always block change'), or expressing the feeling of being threatened ('change will leave Jews without an ethnic army and therefore defenseless').

      Have you honestly never considered the possibility of an integrated army? Don't you think military integration could be a powerful means of fostering inter-ethnic cooperation and shared purpose? Surely that offers a better vision than perpetual rule by an all-powerful ethnic militia.

    • Great argument, especially about the inherent problems of the two-state solution.

      But this is a liberal Zionist illusion, based on the underlying liberal Zionist myth that the Palestinians have nothing to fear from the Israelis provided that the former behave themselves. In fact – as the disengagement from Gaza has abundantly shown – the issue is not whether there is an IDF military presence, or even a settlers' presence on the West Bank. The issue is whether Israel has effective control over the Palestinian state by virtue of its military and economic power.

      The two-state solution perpetuates the basic problem of a tremendous power imbalance between ethnic groups in the shared space of Israel/Palestine. Zionist political strategies focus on maintaining exclusive Jewish ethnic control over the heavily armed Israeli state apparatus, which wields, as Haber points out, "effective control" over all of mandate Palestine (no matter where its forces happen to be deployed). Barring a dramatic militarization of the potential Palestinian state, that control (and the accompanying abuses) will continue after any two-state agreement. That militarization would not be possible, but anyway it wouldn't be the best thing for both peoples, who won't live in peace until they accept to live together as equals.

  • Encountering Leonard Cohen in an L.A. pizzeria
    • es1982, no need to flatter yourself about being "committed to peace" when you support the suppression of Palestinian human rights.

      In reality being committed to peace (whether your prefer one state or two) means being committed to equal rights for Palestinians and Jews as human beings, and as people who are indigenous to the land of Israel/Palestine. From your comments, your first commitment is to ethnic supremacy, not peace.

  • Are Palestinians standing up for an inclusive national identity?
    • You mention the example of Uri Davis in passing, almost dismissively. But don't you think his role in the Palestinian national movement (not to mention the lack of controversy around it) sets an important (especially to your question) precedent? (For those not familiar with him: link to haaretz.com)

      I think an honest analysis would show that Palestinian identity is very inclusive today, and carries the "potential" to incorporate millions of Jews who care about living in Palestine/Israel. But I think your questions do miss the mark, and I hope other people respond to this more fully/capably than I can.

      Your questions seem to carry the assumption that in order to create an inclusive state, the oppressed group must first create an inclusive identity (and specifically, "Palestinian") which it can extend to the oppressor. To me that is backward. As the empowered group, Israeli Jews have the power to include and exclude. Zionist ideology and apartheid policies have divided Arabs from Jews, and even Arabs from Arabs. With the dismantling of discriminatory policies and the implementation of all Palestinian rights -- which the Palestinians are demanding -- ethnic harmony and inclusion become possible.

      In other words: Palestinians are the excluded group. They are standing up for an inclusive society by standing up for their own rights. To demand more of them is to demand that they be saints. Whether they are saints or not, their movement is the solution, not the problem. ("Sainthood" would obviously be subjective, but if you think that other Israelis would find this important, you might have argued for Palestinian sainthood instead of asking leading questions about it.)

      And furthermore, Palestinians needn't necessarily provide an umbrella identity for Jews. The two groups can create one by coming together and negotiating when they are finally political equals. Nor does that umbrella identity necessarily have to be called "Palestinian". "Arab" could be an essential part of "Palestinian" and it wouldn't mean Palestinians and Jews can't live together with equal rights, as citizens of a state which regards them as equals.

      I think this article was written in good faith, with good intentions. But I think it unfairly puts Palestinian people who are victims of oppression, as well as the idea of Palestinian identity, on the defensive, when they are not currently major obstacles to coexistence or even potential threats to legitimate Jewish rights in a one-state future. It also unfairly smears Palestinians by 'contextualizing' them as 'another Arab nationality' 'struggling with the concept of secular, inclusive citizenship' when it is clear that nearly all states (including in the 'Enlightened West') struggle with this concept, while Palestinian identity in particular has been built around ideas about the stewardship of diverse holy sites and the unity of diverse religious communities.

  • Some questions about a transition to one state
    • I don't have great answers to any of these questions. But for the questions about dissolving the PA, I have a few thoughts and follow-up questions. The writer seems to believe that the dissolution of the PA would be necessary in a one-state campaign. But would it really? It seems unlikely that high-level PA officials would ever give up their salaries/power/status. But if the Palestinian people could make clear that the PA was not legitimate, or at least beside the point of their political goals, could they work around it? In South Africa, the ANC had to work around the various bantustan governments (which few people saw as legitimate), did they not?

  • Obama the racist sectarian
    • it's good for Palestinians and Arabs to be constantly reminded who is against them and the United States can only be described as an enemy of the Palestinian people.

      Very well said and I agree. I really wish that Obama would highlight this issue as little as possible, and be more transparent about opposing Palestinian freedom. Only bad things can come from this kind of active U.S. involvement -- either the wasting of time and betrayals of Palestinian Authority trust which have taken place thus far, or an imposed "settlement" that sets the Palestinian cause back further. If he wants to make a mark, let him do it in his second term when the political pressures are not as strong. I don't understand why he makes these token gestures of "standing up to Israel" when they just cause him political problems without any hope of accomplishing anything.

      My best guess is that these gestures are for the rest of the Arab world's consumption. He doesn't care about Palestinians, or he can't afford to (it's irrelevant which). But he probably does care about restoring America's diplomatic standing in the world, which is an issue he ran on in '08. He sees that it's a pivotal time in the Arab world, and he wants to maintain U.S. credibility in the region as much as possible (a tall task after America's role in Iraq, Mubarak, Bahrain, Palestine, etc.). He wants to be seen as doing something about Palestine, which he hopes non-Palestinian Arabs will consider "good enough" to stave off complete alienation.

      The wild optimist in me also wonders whether, if he is intending to make a difference on this issue in a potential second term, he feels that he needs to lay some groundwork so that a more aggressive approach isn't seen as a capricious about-face. I can dream.

      But even in that scenario, progress would be unlikely. Palestinians and allies can absolutely not rely on the American political establishment. They must focus on empowering themselves by building a broad and morally compelling movement for justice.

  • 'Colonization is indefensible, not 1967 borders' - Cohen in NYT
    • Haha, I was wondering that myself. The idea of "indefensible borders" is so ridiculous. As if the shape or terrain of Israel's borders has any military significance in the age of air power and nuclear weapons!

  • Ethnic dry cleaning
    • Can we please do away with this idea that the Nakba was somehow not a bloody process? Massacres, rapes, and death marches were an indispensable tool in encouraging the flight of those Palestinians whom Jewish forces did not expel directly. It was not a campaign of extermination. But it was, precisely, an ethnic cleansing, with all the attendant ugliness and barbarity that the term rightly implies.

  • The New York Times's shameless Nakba distortion
    • Not surprisingly, NPR's news coverage of the protests committed this exact same distortion, defining the Nakba as "about" the creation of Israel and neglecting any mention of the Palestinians' ethnic cleansing, dispossession, or even a blameless "refugee problem".

  • The meaning of Helen Thomas
    • I don't agree with the honoring. The importance of her career still stands, and she certainly seems to be a friend to the Palestinians, but I don't think she makes a positive contribution on this issue (on politics or principle). Our side needs to stand for the principle of inclusion, and her comments were not in that spirit.

  • Senate letter calls Goldstone Report a 'libel' of Israel
    • Makes me angry to see my Senator's name on something like this. My letter to Gillibrand:

      I am extremely disappointed to learn that you have sponsored legislation calling on the UN to rescind the Goldstone Report.

      In your letter to Senate colleagues, you reference Goldstone's recent editorial, in which he re-assesses some of the report's findings. However, Goldstone clearly has not called for the report to be rescinded. And while he may have changed his view on part of the report, his co-authors continue to stand by the entire document.

      Furthermore, Goldstone's vague backtracking is not supported by the very documents he cites: the UN's follow-up report led by judge Mary McGowan Davis. As the NY Times' Roger Cohen says, "Goldstone and I have not been reading the same report". That report concludes that Israeli investigations provide "no genuine accountability and no justice".

      Accountability in the murder of over 300 children is no small matter -- particularly when Israel continues to kill children through its indiscriminate violence and siege on Gaza. At a time when the United States claims a duty to protect defenseless civilians in Libya, it would be especially hypocritical and dangerous of us to attack efforts at providing some minimal recourse for the beleaguered people of Gaza.

      Please withdraw your support for S.Res.138, and start standing up for the right of Gazans to live in safety, dignity, and freedom.

  • I waiver, and still I approve of military support for the Libyan resistance
  • Jon Stewart strikes again
  • Settler murders recall Nat Turner slave rebellion in 1831
    • Given that the revolution in Egypt of nonviolent protest, of people by their sheer presence achieving the overthrow of a government, this particular act of murder in Itamar seems particularly senseless and inappropriate to the moment.

      I think you're right, wj. It's my strong personal opinion that non-violent resistance is the only tactic that will be effective in achieving Palestinian liberation.

  • Reider faults left for silence on murders of 5 settlers
    • What is the point of a condemnation?

      We don't even know who committed this act, or why. But all indications point to an individual or small group, with little or no institutional backing. Certainly nothing that could implicate broader Palestinian society, let alone international solidarity activists. What structure that led directly to this atrocity exists for us to change? (Indirectly, of course it's the occupation, which the left and not the right is working to change.)

      There is none. There's not even a specific person. What a pointless exercise. Do I have to condemn every child murder in Israel because I comment on Israeli politics? Why? Is there any moral tenet more self-evident than "killing children is wrong"? Who needs to hear that from me, or Phil Weiss for that matter?

      But of course there is a point to the "condemnations of those who fail to condemn". It's an exercise of power over Palestinians and over the left, forcing them to divert their energy and (and others' attention) from constructive calls for justice. And in the process tarring the entire Palestinian people, and their demands for justice, by crude association.

      At least with settler and IDF violence--which is too common for us to ask anyone to condemn every single instance of it--has an institutional basis which implicates all of us and urgently demands change. I'll continue to try to focus on constructive pursuits, thank you very much.

  • As if we needed more
    • "Political perspectives change where there are good, plausible and well-articulated alternatives proposed."

      In another thread you argue:

      The single-state approach is appealing in idealistic theory. So long as you regard “consent of the governed” as a critical basis of democracy, then partition is far more rational.

      But this thread speaks to the fact that there is not consent for partition. So why can perspectives change toward a plan of partition but not toward fairness in a single state?

      You talk about a single state as an imposition. But it isn't, it's the current reality--the default. Partition would have to be imposed, by consent that does not now exist, and has not materialized through 20 years of process focused on it.

      In obsessing over partition, we lose sight of the real problem, which is not Arabs and Jews living together. The problem is a discriminatory and abusive power structure that engenders conflict. Correcting that is not an "option", subject to the "consent of the governed." Rather, it is a precondition for the expression of consent--an absolute imperative.

      And I don't know about you, but I consider equality under the law to be a "good, plausible, and well-articulated alternative" to apartheid discrimination.

  • 'CSM' writer would push Gaza into Egypt
    • And I would add that, in contrast to this vision of struggle and a better future, we have the "peace process". A process whose end goal was the separation of peoples, and whose result was in fact the kind of "everybody killing each other" ethnic warfare that opponents of binationalism say they wish to avoid.

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