Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 7986 (since 2009-12-17 04:46:00)

Showing comments 7986 - 7901

  • 'NYT' perpetuates myth Israel was 'fighting for its very survival' during 1967 war
    • Let us not ignore Israel's continual provocation and encroachment on the DMZ between Israel and Syria, either.

      The facts are that Israel started shooting first, even though Israel was not in danger and the Israelis knew Israel was not in danger. Claims of a pre-emptive strike fail.

  • Shit dead rabbis say about gentiles
  • Independent investigation details Israel's deliberate targeting of civilians in Gaza
    • So the Israeli position is to set aside the rules of war to defeat the terrorists. They might regret that later.

      "William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

      Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

      William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

      Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"

      And they want to buy security by killing indiscriminately. They may not regret that, but it will cost them their souls nonetheless.

      "Sir Thomas More: Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?"

      (Robert Bolt, A Man For All Seasons)

    • The full argument isn't given on that site, just appeals to authority.

      There is a reference to the Torah:

      “The Torah of Israel guides us in all walks of life, private and public, on how to behave during war and also how to keep moral standards."

      There is a reference to a Rabbi:

      "The Maharal from Prague (Rabbi Judah Loew – A.K.), in his book Gur Arye, clearly writes that… in all wars the attacked people are allowed to attack fiercely the people from whom the attackers came from and they do not have to check if he personally belongs to the fighters."

      But nothing to indicate how that Rabbi came to that monstrous conclusion.

      Tell me again about the great Jewish ethical tradition people keep mentioning.

  • That thrilling, anti-elitist Shas campaign video
    • "They won’t convert or ‘reconvert’"

      I didn't really expect they would.

      " Palestinians will just have to win their rights ,peace and justice fair and square."

      I would hope so. Trying to attain justice by unjust means sounds paradoxical. Discussion of the moral complexities would make up a fairly hefty issue of The Monist.

    • I have previously suggested that one possibility is for all the Palestinians, and perhap some Jordanians as well, to convert to Judaism, make Aaliyah, set up a political party, gain control of the government, change all the laws privileging Jews, and then deconvert and become Muslims and Christians again.

      Perhaps this is what JeffB has in mind.

  • Phila Inquirer publishes a lie: 'Anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are one and the same'
    • "What I can say is what they were holding on for is Israel"

      So the whole point of Judaism, of all that 1900 years persecution, self-segregation, insulting the neighbours, nit-picking over tiny details of the Law, boring Kosher food, etc., etc., was just to produce a nasty little state like Israel?

      That is a really depressing.

    • "The main tenants are"

      They pay rent?

      "3) Christians are unable to respect Jews because they are a defeated people. So there can’t be a parity."

      That may have been the case in the 19th Century. My own impression is that modern Christians hardly ever think of real Jews as a "people". They think of them as the guy next door, the the woman who works in the office upstairs, etc., and as such respect them as much as they deserve.

    • Depressingly normal.

    • "If fate holds: that after the holocaust Judaism returned home to die, I don’t like it. But it certainly beats the misery of what came for the 1900 years before. "

      Gee! 1900 years of a fate worse than death. (And there's a phrase for Mooser to play with.) One wonders why they didn't all give up.

      "Since Christianity what has Judaism accomplished that’s worthy of the pain it has brought its people other than Israel?"

      So you agree that, by bringing pain, Judaism is bad for its believers? (Not that Christianity isn't.) But how is Israel worthy of the pain suffered over those 1900 years?

      Do you think that, if asked, those poor, suffering, Jews through those 1900 years would say, "Oh, right. Some Jews in the far future will be able to persecute a bunch of Arabs. That makes everything all right, then." and, thus encouraged, carry on with their persecuted lives?

    • Or am I underestimating the global reach of the US State Department thought police?

    • I note also that only the second set of examples makes any reference to the question of the truth or falsity of the anti-Semitic allegations.

      "Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews …"

      link to

      It seems, then, that in many cases truth is no defence against accusations of anti-Semitism.

      (Not that most of us have to give a hoot about the State Department's ideas on the matter.)

  • Menendez bags on Iran sanctions, and congressman says AIPAC demands deference to Israel over US
    • "holocausted"

      Hmmmn. Not a happy coinage.

    • "Yarmuth fails to understand that support for Israel is part of this nation’s political DNA. It transcends party politics or region. "

      It's in the US Constitution, isn't it? Or is it the Declaration of Independence? Somewhere in one of those things, anyway.

    • "Regardless, the Prime Minister of Israel is not elected principally to understand the mindset of the American president. He is elected first and foremost to defend a nation that has experienced more hatred, more torture, more bloodletting, and more wholesale slaughter than any nation on earth. "

      Boasting again. Israel is certainly guilty of plenty of hatred, torture, bloodletting, and wholesale slaughter, but Im not yet convinced it has done more than any other nation on earth.

  • 'The New York Times' throws another sop to lovers of Israel
    • "Don`t forget that the “Israel project” is also about “the normalization” of the Jewish people "

      Actually, most of the Jews I have actually met and worked with in Australia and Britain and the US seemed pretty normal. They didn't wear odd hats, or dress in weird clothes, or wear dreadlocks, or talk funny. They looked and acted just like everyone else.

      So it looks as though normalization is going strong outside Israel.

    • As long as you don't confuse nasty CAMERA with nice CAMRA.

      link to

  • Former Obama aide's thinktank calls for 1/4 of French Jews to move to Israel
    • "These types of “traditions,” it seems to me, have value that really pretty much is solely determined on a subjective basis, and there is no objective reason to prefer their maintenance or their loss."

      No disagreement there.

    • Thanks you for posting that. For all those Americans who claim to find cricket confusing, I think that video makes it all perfectly clear.

    • @philadelphialawyer

      I agree with almost every point you have made.

      Slight niggle here:

      "Things change, everywhere. Some traditions last, others don’t."


      " But, again, who is to say whether that is good or bad? "

      We are. We can look at each tradition and judge.

      E.g. Loss of tradition of suppression of women. - Good.
      E.g. Loss of tradition of decent education - Bad.
      E.g. Loss of tradition of decent English Grammar - About as Bad as you can get.
      E.g. Loss of tradition of enslaving foreigners - Fairly Good, I suppose, though mostly for the foreigners.

      And so forth.

      The basis for our judgements should be whether the tradition positively contributes to human flourishing and human happiness.

      And I cannot see any such positive contribution from a restriction on intermarriage. There is no guarantee that marriage to a member of one's own group will be any less miserable than marriage to a member of another group.

      link to

    • "But most often, it’s the end result of an upbringing that is devoid of any real Jewish content."

      In those cases, not much "Jewishness" is being "lost", is it?

    • "Ross calls for “full-time Jewish Day School education” for young Jews — indicating that this will stop them from marrying non-Jews."

      So these will be religious schools specifically intended to perpetuate social isolation?

    • Am I right in interpreting your post as ironic?

      If not, I'll repeat my standard line.

      "We Jews should have a country just like everybody else has a country."

      Australian Jews have a country. It's called "Australia".

  • Israeli forces detain 10-year old boy and assault his family members in East Jerusalem
    • Rather you than me. Far too depressing even glancing at the headlines of this unending tale of cruelty and misery.

      I'm going to have another look at those pictures of children reading to cats.

  • Tell your congressperson: Don't attend Netanyahu's speech
  • On the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz
    • The money extorted from the Swiss banks alone should be sufficient to keep the survivor in luxury.

      The money from Germany keeps the whole country afloat.

    • "their sister eats Arab dates"

      That's where the real trouble starts. Arab dates!

  • Like the Wind, We Will Be Free: How being detained at Ben Gurion airport during a family trip to Palestine reaffirmed my identity
  • 'NYT' and Matthews warn that Netanyahu speech to Congress could lead US to war
    • And this website will have to be shut down.

      link to

    • "These would include ... female genital mutilation,"

      Already illegal in Britain, and I suspect in most other European countries. But will male circumcision be allowed? If so, why the discrimination?

      "forced marriage, polygamy,"

      Already illegal in Britain, and I suspect most other European countries have some legal remedies.

      "denial of the Holocaust"

      Already illegal in too many countries. Why no freedom of speech, inquiry, etc., about a particular bit of history?

      " and creating a new crime of “group libel” – public defamation of ethnic, cultural or religious groups. "

      So British comedians wil have to throw away all their material about the French and the Welsh.

    • I am under the impression that the last non-American leader who addressed Congress three times was Churchill. He was certainly trying to push the US into war, but he had the president's backing.

      And war on Iran would be total folly. Aside from another consideration, it would close the Gulf, and cut off a large chunk of the world's oil. This would not win friends for the US.

      But far worse is the prospect of dragging China and Russia into the war. They are both military heavyweights. The EU countries are already now thinking that the current sanctions on Russia were perhaps not the most advantageous move to make. The economic damage of the loss of the Russian market is being followed up by a shortage of Russian gas. They will not be over-eager to take on the Russians on the battlefield. They know where a lot of that battlefield will be.

      They, along with anyone else who knows anything about anything, are recalling that Russia has a large,well-equipped, army, nuclear weapons, the best warplanes, the most terrifying anti-ship missiles, rivers, swamps, snow, ice, lots of Russians, and lots of vodka. (The combination of the last two is as scary as all the rest put together.)

      We won't talk about how big the Chinese army is.

      Things are already tense enough in the Ukraine. To pick a fight with Iran that could bring in Russia and China would take a whole new level of combined stupidity and insanity. But history teaches me not to underestimate the possibility of record-breaking stupidity and insanity.

  • When discussing Islam, which Islam and whose rationality? 
    • "Roha, secular schools teach lots of prejudices. "

      Not, usually, as explicitly as religious schools teach religion. But even so, how does that affect my case against the educational subversion of religious schools?

      “Of course, those prejudices have to be taught in the first place.”

      Of course, but you seem to think secular schooling will solve the problem,'

      No, I don't, and I never said I did. But I don't think that religious schools will necessarily help, either.

      "It depends on the school and should be taken on a case by case basis. "

      Exactly. Some secular schools are worse than others. We need to improve the secular schools that fail, rather than encourage or establish religious schools.

      "Well, maybe secular schools could provide all the benefits that many religious schools do, but, as a rule, they do not. "

      As a rule? In Australia many of the expensive private schools are religious schools, but some of the top-ranking private schools are not. And the state schools seem to do at least as good a job as the cheap (mostly Catholic) religious schools. Price rather than religiosity seems to be the key factor.

      So I repeat: Some secular schools are worse than others. We need to improve the secular schools that fail, rather than encourage or establish religious schools.

      "I don’t regard freedom of association, or freedom of expression for that matter, as a merely legal right. It is also a moral right which I respect."

      Including the right to deny any education at all? The right to teach more than the normal number of total falsehoods?

      This question becomes even more acute when schools are state funded or subsidised. (You will note that Ifti was calling for state funded Muslim schools.)

      I suspect that quite a few Governments - and enthusiasts for freedom - would be dubious about a Thugee school, even though a rumal would be a nifty addition to conventional school uniforms.

    • Annie,

      The short-comings of secular schooling in some areas is an argument for improving the secular schools, not for introducing or encouraging religious schools.

      As far as I can tell, religious schools do not provide any benefits - social or educational - which cannot be provided by secular schools.

      Religious schools are, therefore, unnecessary.

      If I am correct about the dangers of religious schools, then they are not merely unnecessary, but harmful.

      Thus, I am opposed to religious schools.

      And no, I have never taught in a religious school. The only school teaching I have done was in state schools in Sweden and Denmark. The rest has been university teaching, adult education, and in-company teaching.

      (A long time ago I saw some statistics on arrest rates in the US which suggested that children who attended church schools were more prone to anti-social behaviour than children who attended secular schools. Can't find the figures now, so I can't check them.

      I did find this.

      link to

      which may be relevant.)

    • Annie. Yes, some religious schools do a good job.

      Some even teach that

      "all religious schools are not strict and awful and imposing just like all religious people are not that way either"

      should be either

      "Not all religious schools are strict and awful and imposing, just as not all religious people are that way either,"


      "No religious schools are not strict and awful and imposing, just as no religious people are that way either,"

      depending on which you mean. (The former, I suspect, since the latter is obviously false.)

      But that does not mean that all religious schools avoid the tendencies I described. And since non-religious schools can do just as good a job, it seems wiser to avoid religious schools altogether.

      "i would also go to a christian, muslim, or jewish college."

      I think they would expect you to use capital letters. But modern universities are usually different. (Yes, there are a few American universities that are run by religious crackpots, but most of the world does not follow their lead.) I have taught in a Catholic University in the US, and another in Australia, without any sense of a religious view being imposed on the students. And the students there are old enough to avoid being brainwashed by their instructors.

      (I, certainly, have never succeeded in brainwashing any of mine, despite my best efforts.)

      "i would definitely sign up for classes at IUG. plus, they have awesome literature classes there. "

      Sounds like a good idea. Polish up your Arabic and bomb-avoiding tactics and go for it.

    • "Here in the U.S. we’ve got the right to say whatever scurrilous thing we like about other people’s religion(s), ...we’ve got a right to bring up the young’uns according to what we think is right, religion-wise. "

      Those are legal rights. Ifti and I are talking about moral rights.

      "The idea that kids forced to mix with other kids they are prejudiced against will …... it just hardens their view that the other guys are complete assholes, on both sides of the divide."

      Of court, those prejudices have to be taught in the first place. But that is not the core of what I am talking about. I am talking about the recognition that that this or that group is just a part of the whole, and cannot expect all society to pander to the wishes of that group.

    • I think you have made important points about the double standards that are applied to Muslims and Islam. Nonetheless I find myself in disagreement with you on several matters.

      "No one should insult religions."

      Well, why not? Certainly it is bad manners, and certainly it makes people unhappy. But those are good reasons not to toss out any insults at all. And yet we feel it is sometimes justified to use insults about persons or institutions, in order to make our point strongly. Why should religions be exempt?

      And what counts as an insult? Any of these?

      "The claims of Mormonism are false."
      "Mormonism is a load of nonsense."
      "Mormonism is a load of pernicious nonsense that ruins people's lives."
      "Joseph Smith was a fraud and a con-man."

      If we cannot make any critical remarks about a religion, those of us who believe we should free people from religious beliefs will find it very difficult to act on our beliefs.

      For the sake of equity, I acknowledge that you have the same right to insult me and my religion that I have to insult you and yours. (The fact that you do not want to insult me - either from the generosity of your heart or my unimpeachable perfection - does not diminish your right or mine.)

      Also, as a practical matter, trying to dictate what may or not be said about a particular group can easily have the effect of increasing resentment of that group. "What makes them so special that they can tell us what we can and can't say?"

      It is important for Muslims who live in a secular society to understand that their religion does not entitle them to special treatment, any more than it justifies special vilification. (And, again, I sympathise with your point that in Western societies the latter is too often the norm.).

      Muslim schools are the worst possible thing for Muslims in Western societies. They will only deepen the social isolation of Muslims.

      I am strongly opposed to the idea of any type of religious school, be it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Voodoo, Druid, or Zoroastrian. The best way to prepare children for life in a secular society is to school them together in the same mix as they will encounter as adults.

      Segregation into religious groups in school will encourage self-segregated groups in society, such as the Orthodox Jews that bornajoo told us of. Obviously, that way social dissolution and, ultimately, madness lies. (Though many have taken that path nonetheless.)

      So religious schools are likely to fail in the task of preparing children for life in society. But they also subvert the general purposes of education in another way, in that they undermine respect for truth, rationality, and morality.

      In schools we teach the established conventions by which society runs, such as the calendar, the writing system, and grammar.

      (Though Annie's use of "different than" instead of "different from" shows that the conventions are not always learned.)

      We teach mathematical truths. We teach the well established empirical truths. When we teach literature, we make it clear that fiction is fiction. Children, especially in the early years, are inclined to think that when teachers present something as true, it is known to be true.

      We teach - or pretend we teach - critical thinking, scepticism, and rational inquiry, so that children will learn to think for themselves. (And here you can insert plenty of sarcastic comments about what happens to those who do.)

      But the claims of religion are not known to be true. And yet teachers of religion - and a religious school is likely to have plenty of them - present those claims as if they were well established truth. And that mode of presentation is a lie.

      The teacher may be certain the claims are true. The claims may be true. But they cannot be demonstrated, to impartial parties, to be true, and so it is dishonest to present them as anything other than unsubstantiated claims.

      Add to this dishonesty the frequent refusal to allow sceptical inquiry of the claims, and suppression of dissent. (This is particularly strong in some forms of Christian teaching.)

      These features strike at the heart of respect for truth and rationality. But without such respect, intellectual pursuits are worthless. Education is nullified. Morality is subverted, for who can make sound moral decisions without thinking rationally? (In, at least, the 'thin' sense of rationality which I think even MacIntyre regards as universal?)

      So religious teaching should be kept separate from schooling, so that it will not be confused with education.

    • I'm not entirely convinced of MacIntyre's thesis, either, but I have to confess that I haven't given him the attention he deserves.

    • "Speaking of ‘Islam’ as an all-consuming category, that subsumes all geographies, history and culture is not only naïve, but also dangerous."

      Yes. Is the point of your essay to urge us not speak in that way?

      "As such, the rationality that each of these ‘Islams’ carries with it is also different. "

      Do you mean some are more rational than others?

  • Exhibit of iconic 1948 photos -- 'The Long Journey' -- opens today in NYC
    • I'm seeing reports of some sort of deal with Russia on development of the Gaza gas fields. Anyone got details? Will it mean Russian rigs offshore, and Russian techs in Gaza?

  • In Iraq and Syria the US sanctions its allies while its friends back its enemies (got that?)
  • How a culture remembers its crimes is important: A review of 'American Sniper'
  • Obama won't meet Netanyahu during 'bizarre,' 'historic,' 'unprecedented' visit (Updated)
    • The latest dodgy story is the two Japanese hostages facing execution by ISIS. The video looks very fake, with mismatched shadows and a desert on green-screen. According to SWMBO, who keeps a close eye on Japanese news, the mother of one of the hostages went on TV to make an appeal, but then went rambling on about nuclear power in Japan (against it) and various other subjects, finishing up with something about her husband being held in North Korea. The various TV stations cut her off at different times during this, depending on how long it took the producer to think "She's a loony."

      I don't know what's going on over there, but I'm damn sure it isn't what we're being told.

    • Taxi, it looks to me as though the Zionists are going to have another go at extending their hegemony into South Lebanon. They are wagging the Holocaust, squawking about Iran, attacking Hezbollah in Syria, and moving heavy weapons up to their northern border.

    • Has Obama used up his allowance of official murders? If not, I'd say it's time for him to order a few.

  • Living in Israel isn't the solution to antisemitism
  • Diaspora Jews are not in 'exile,' they are at home
    • "French Jews’ immigration will result in mixed marriages"

      Mixed marriages? No!

      Let the French in, and the whole country goes to rack and ruin.

    • And that's a rocket Mona Lisa is holding? Only at first glance it looks rather like ...

      Must stop reading the Dershowitz threads.

    • " the idea that Jews living outside of the borders of Erets Yisrael are on a fundamental level not truly at home has always been part and parcel of Judaism."

      And this (alleged) bit of religious flim-flam makes it acceptable for Netanyahu to go round suborning French citizens and telling them that they do not belong in the country of their ancestors?

    • "and feel like they have more than one home."

      Feeling doesn't make it so.

      "Australians should be able to tolerate Australian citizens who are of Jewish national origins retaining ties to their original ancestral homeland (Israel) and their ethnic kin there. "

      The ancestors of most Australian Jews came from Britain, Poland, Germany, and a few other European countries. I don't think many have Israeli ancestors.

      "This is not something that is deemed controversial for Greek-Australians, Maltese-Australians, or Irish-Australians, many of whom hold dual citizenship with Australian and those countries."

      It isn't controversial for Australian Jews of British ancestry to have dual Australian/British citizenship just as I have. Likewise, for those who can demonstrate ancestry in the country of origin, dual citizenship in that country would not be controversial.

      (But if they want to be members of Federal Parliament, they have to renounce all citizenships save Australian. Only people of single Australian nationality are allowed to be MPs.)

      What is controversial is Netanyahu telling Australian Jews that they are not real Australians and don't belong here.

      What is controversial is Netanyahu telling Australian Jews that their distant ancestors came from Israel (even though not one of them can prove it) and so they belong there.

    • Exactly my position.

      If you are an Australian citizen, born in Australia, brought up in Australia, spent most of your life in Australia, work for an Australian company, live in a house in Wynnum with your Australian spouse, children, dog, cat, and goldfish, drink beer and eat Vegemite, and are planning a celebration barbie next Monday, then - guess what? - you are a bloody Aussie and Australia is your home.

      Not some country on the other side of the globe.

      Mutas mutandis for other countries.

      And this goes regardless of whether you are a Jew, a Sikh, or a Cao Dai priest.

  • Congress invites Netanyahu to rebut Obama on Iran, and White House slams 'breach of protocol'
    • Elizabethan and later poets used that "my poetry will make your name immortal" line a lot. I don't know whether it actually got them the girl, but it's worth a try.

    • "Israel – its people – benefit significantly from peace with Iran."

      Israel should still pay the money it owes, though.

    • One day I wrote her name upon the strand
      But came the waves and washed it away:
      Again I write it with a second hand,
      But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
      Vain man, said she, that dost in vain assay
      A mortal thing so to immortalise!
      For I myself shall like to this decay,
      And eke my name be wiped out likewise.
      Not so quoth I, let baser things devise
      To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
      My verse your virtues rare shall eternize,
      And in the heavens write your glorious name;
      Where, whenas death shall all the world subdue,
      Our love shall live, and later life renew.

      (Edmund Spenser)

      Or, as Landor put it:

      Well I remember how you smiled
      To see me write your name upon
      The soft sea-sand . . . "O! what a child!
      You think you're writing upon stone!"

      I have since written what no tide
      Shall ever wash away, what men
      Unborn shall read o'er ocean wide
      And find Ianthe's name again.

    • 'That’s the line he drew in the sand"

      Lines in the sand can be wiped away with just a little wind.

    • "I wonder what happened to the first one who stopped clapping?"

      Perhaps Stalin and Mao could help you with that question.

    • Not me, but I am available for when you decide to do the sensible thing.

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