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Total number of comments: 1482 (since 2012-06-23 07:13:37)

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  • A racist country with too much influence over US -- Israel's new image among Democrats
    • 3/4 of American Democratic [opinion] elites regard Israel as having too much influence.


      This is great news! In another thirty years or so, the power elite might come to that opinion as well.

  • Oren's demands make Israel's liberal apologists squirm
    • hophmi: I think that it’s perfectly legitimate to ask, generally, whether self-abnegation is a problem in a community with a 70% assimilation rate

      It's not self-abnegation; it's self-realization.

      if you have $100 to spend, and your choices are the well being of your own family

      If you are concerned about well-being, you don't support family members' (or anyone else's) ) immoral, criminal enterprises.

    • My wife is on the board of IsraAid, a wonderful organization, you probably know it – they were the first on the ground in Haiti, they’re all over the world giving disaster aid. So you can do Tikkun Olam through Israel, through the Jewish people.


      That's ludicrous and vomitous at the same time.

  • 'America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel' -- Allen Ginsberg
    • ...who know who Trotsky was (Eastern Ukrainian Jew, born in Yanovka near Mariupol)

      THAT is "who Trotsky was"?

  • Oren's memoir reveals Israel's elite is hyper-sensitive to U.S. criticism
    • MRW: The connections to Eretz Yisrael were always there, part of the Jewish DNA, so to speak.. The modern political movement arose when conditions were ripe, and built on those historic and religious ties.

      Then why did Herzl first suggest taking over Uganda as the Jewish State in the late 1800s?

      Cf. Baruch Kimmerling, “The Invention and Decline of Israeliness: State, Society, and the Military”:

      Herzl's first thought was a collective and honorable conversion of world Jewry to Christianity. His second was to find a place in the world for an ingathering of Jews and establish an independent Jewish state. Inasmuch as he was a completely secular product of the late European colonial world, he envisaged this state in political, social, and economic terms. Among other places, he considered Argentina, with its abundance of free land, natural resources, and good climate. Later, he also considered the British protectorate of Uganda in East Africa, which was politically convenient.

      Initially, he thought Palestine inappropriate owing to its lack of resources and harsh climate. However, as Herzl grew closer to his fellow Jews, he discovered the sentimental and symbolic appeal of Jerusalem and Eretz Israel, which most Jews continued to regard as their fatherland.

      At the time, most Jews still believed in a miraculous messianic return to the Holy Land at the apocalyptic "end of days." The strength of messianic belief had been evidenced in 1665, when a self-appointed messiah named Shabbtai Zvi made his appearance. Backed by a noted scholar of Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah), Abraham Nathan Ben Elisha Haim Ashkenazi, Shabbtai Zvi managed to provoke mass hysteria among hundreds of thousands of Jews, from the territories of the Ottoman Empire to Poland and eastern and western Europe, by proclaiming the Day of Redemption to be June 18, 1666. Despite the opposition of several rabbis, Jews were ready to march as a mighty army and restore the godly kingdom of David on earth. Eventually, the Ottomans interpreted the millenarian movement as a rebellion and put the "messiah" in jail, where he converted to Islam. The affair was an enormous disaster and has remained traumatic in Jewish collective memory.

      Nonetheless, the hope for the coming of the messiah has never ceased. In 1755, Jacob Frank, a Polish cloth dealer, declared himself to be the reincarnation of Shabbtai Zvi and the messiah. More recently, a similar phenomenon broke out among the followers of the late Brooklyn Hassidic Rabbi Menachem Schneerson. The supposed redemption is linked with a miraculous inclusion of Greater Israel (i.e., the territories occupied in the 1967 war) into the Israeli state and the transformation of Jewish Israeli society into a holy, moral community ...

      Despite Orthodox Jewry's denunciation of him as a new Shabbatean, Theodor Herzl was a practical politician. He concentrated his efforts in three main directions. First and foremost, he raised financial support for the establishment of a national loan fund from great Jewish bankers and philanthropists such as Maurice de Hirsch and the Rothschild family.

      Second, but no less important, he garnered political support and recognition by the great world powers of the right of the Jewish people to establish a national commonwealth in Palestine. Third, he organized the spread of Jewish associations and individuals who shared Zionist views into a viable political and social movement. In 1896, Herzl published his manifesto Der Judenstaat ("The State of the Jews"-- Herzl was fully aware of the implications of not calling it "The Jewish State").

      In this, Herzl argued that assimilation was not a cure, but rather a disease of the Jews. The Jewish people needed to reestablish their own patrimony, with well-to-do western European Jews financing the proletarian Jews threatened by pogroms in Eastern Europe. Herzl's preferred regime, in this utopian pamphlet, was modeled on the enlightened and liberal Austro-Hungarian monarchy, and, if not at a monarchy, he aimed at least at an aristocratic republic.

      In the state of the Jews, everyone would be equal before the law, free in his faith or disbelief, and enjoy mild social security rights, regardless of his nationality. This pamphlet was followed in 1902 by the utopian novel Altneuland ("Old-New Country"), in which several Arab characters enjoy full rights of citizenship, indicating that, contrary to the usual assertions, Herzl was well aware that the Holy Land was not "empty."


    • On the topic of the Jewish connections to "Zion"

      Baruch Kimmerling (late Israeli sociologist):

      Historically, Jews who defined themselves as religious were deeply divided in the stances they adopted toward modernity, Jewish enlightenment and secularism, Zionism, and, later, the very existence of a “secular" Jewish state. From the beginning, a small religious stream was established within the Zionist movement, and even before the appearance of Zionism, there were rabbis who called for a mass "return to Zion."

      The real theological revolution, however, occurred in the late 1920s and was led by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, who reversed the whole Jewish-rabbinical paradigm and causal relationship concerning "redemption."

      Traditionally, the fulfillment by all Jews of all the "613 commandments" listed in the holy scriptures was the condition for the coming of the Messiah, the return of all Jews to Zion, and full redemption. Rabbi Kook reversed this, declaring that when as many Jews as possible fulfill the single commandment to "settle the holy land," the Messiah will appear to redeem "his people" politically and theologically, and will make them follow all his commandments and precepts. A cosmic redemption of the "whole world" will then follow.

      This new religious perception granted religious meaning and legitimacy to secular nationalism and the so-called socialist pioneer Jews by making them "tools" of a divine project of religious redemption.

      The Kookian theological logical revolution laid the foundation for the participation of its followers in the secular Israeli state and society in the here and now, and for a collaboration between this segment of religious Jews and the secular Zionists. It must be stressed, however, that the Kookian approach never abolished the ultimate goal of transforming the Jewish polity into a theocratic state ruled exclusively by halachic law.

      It was thus not by chance that the first counterculture to assert itself successfully was the militant national religious culture of Gush Emunim, which created the territorial infrastructure for a new society of national religious settlers in "Judea and Samaria" during the 1970s and 1980s. Territorial settlement was not only part of a national political mission of conquest, occupation, and confiscation of "homeland" territories, and the expansion of the boundaries of the Israeli state, but also laid the infrastructure for the establishment of a moral community to be run according to the laws of Halacha and the judgments of rabbis.

      It seemed that Gush Emunim stood to conquer not only the uplands (both geographically graphically and symbolically) but the hearts of the rest of the Jewish population of the country. Its adherents represented themselves as a replacement for the secular sabra kibbutznik fighter-settlers and, more important, sought to take the latter's place as the Zionist avant-garde in Israel. From "Judea and Samaria," the message was to spread over the entire country.

      The national religious revolutionaries, driven by an aspiration for personal fulfillment, bedarchey noam ("a pleasant manner"), and burning faith in their path, and seeing themselves as representatives of the collective interest and the "true and pure Jew," aimed to establish a modern national halachic state in place of the polity corrupted in the previous stage of the "return to Zion." The success of this revolution of faith seemed assured, given the absence of any truly attractive competing ideology that could provide an answer to the political and social situation created in the aftermath of the 1967 and 1973 wars.

      In this regard, the settlements and the settlers in the occupied territories were just the tip of the iceberg. Religious Jews and groups who had not "settled" and were not allied with-or were even opposed to-Gush Emunim united behind what they viewed as the sublime aspiration to transform Israel into as "Jewish" a state as possible.

      Although Gush Emunim's brand of Jewishness was dominated by religious elements, its pioneering spirit and renewed militaristic, settlement security activism charmed even secular elite groups, especially communists and socialists, among whom great ideological crises had brought about deep internal rifts.

      In addition, by opening the frontier and acquiring control over all the land that had been the original objective of Zionist colonization, Gush Emunim reawakened dormant aspirations of the immigrant settler political culture that had lost their validity since 1948. Selective feelings for Halacha thus enabled some secular elites to ally themselves with Gush Emunim, whose deeds they also covertly admired.

      ("The Invention and Decline of Israeliness: State, Society, and the Military")

  • Interview with Rela Mazali: The Israeli left, BDS, and the 'habit of hope'
    • oldgeezer: @jon s Totally irrelevant questions jon.


      Well, the number of incidents and people involved is certainly relevant to determining how representative the actions were and deciding what kind of conclusions we might draw from them.

  • United Church of Christ votes to boycott & divest from companies profiting from Israel's occupation
    • Annie: it won’t be a total victory until all the goals are met. a one state solution, per se, is not one of the goals.

      Which implies that all the goals of BDS could be met within a two-state framework.

  • My journey from Zionism to Palestine solidarity
    • Walters: " It seems to me that peace based on justice is the most durable."

      True. But it's also true that peace generally requires the acceptance of *some* injustice.

      And there are certainly many situations where the attainment of a full measure of justice is either impossible or not worth the costs.

  • Oren's criticism of US Jews earns his book five thumbs down: 'slinky,' 'self-aggrandizing,' 'twists reality'
    • Donald: "Just wanted to say this was a really fascinating comment. Your whole subthread here was great. It ought to be a front page post."


      I second that; not only fascinating, thought-provoking and cogent, but very well-written as well.

  • UN report on Gaza war is 'tepid,' 'unserious' and exhibits 'anti-Muslim bigotry' -- Finkelstein
    • Giles: Here is the statement by prof F that I find ridiculous.

      “The US will of course side with Israel, not because of the Israel lobby, but because whatever Israel did in Gaza, the US routinely does around the world on an infinitely greater scale”.

      This is false.

      What evidence do you have that that statement is false? --i.e. evidence that U.S. support of Israeli actions in the specific case of Gaza derives from Israel Lobby efforts and not from the powerful and long-standing affinity between U.S. and Israel militarism/imperialism.

  • 'A traumatized society is dangerous'
    • tree : I think I disagree with your theory a bit, or perhaps I am misunderstanding it. I see the majority of the trauma as a result of the desire to create and maintain a tribal unity, rather than the other way around. In effect it is induced and indirect trauma, used to cement the feelings of “us” versus “them”.


      Excellent post. I think it's extremely important not to conflate the actuality of trauma with an ideology of trauma, an ideology deliberately constructed to serve specific social and political ends.

    • Froggy: Compassion has no religious basis

      I'm not so sure about that:

      "Karuṇā (in both Sanskrit and Pali) is generally translated as compassion.[1] It is part of the spiritual path of both Buddhism and Jainism.

      link to

      "Compassion: Religious and Spiritual Views"
      link to

    • Avigail Abarbanel: I do suspect that those who went to the US and started to colonise it were in fact very damaged people. Their puritanical protestant belief system says a lot about the kind of people they were. So I do think there must have been trauma there. (emphasis added)


      Your definition of trauma , it seems to me, has become so broad, so widely-applicable, that your argument that aggressive, exploitative, oppressive, non-compassionate, predatory social actions are rooted in "trauma" has lost all explanatory power, all empirical falsifiability, and is in danger of becoming tautological.

    • catalan: ....most Russians start crying when they hear their famous songs from that era.

      No they don’t. That’s silly. I live in Russia; I've traveled extensively in Russia; I've talked to literally thousands of Russians, including many young people at the University I work at--and I can say without out any fear of exaggeration , your notion of on-going Russian trauma is udder tripe.

      How you come up with this silliness that Russians are less traumatized than Jews....

      Look, WWII was a trauma for Russia, obviously, but it's not as if Russians are still traumatized by it today. Russians celebrate their victory in the Great Patriotic War. They commemorate on various holidays the heroic deeds of anti-fascist fighters. They watch endless movies and televisions shows depicting (mythologizing) the unvanquishable spirit of Soviet soldiers and partisans and common citizens. In none of these celebrations, commemorations, and cultural productions is there any expression of on-going trauma.

      Another point: I’ve never met any Russian that holds any animosity toward the German people--- they blame the war on Fascism, not German anti-Slavism or anything of the sort. Russians enjoy German art, music, culture. Russians are very eager to travel to Germany. Next to English, German is the second most popular language for Russians to study. There is no on-going trauma involved.

      And, btw, if there is any kind of living trauma in Russia, it’s not about the losses of WWII, but about the 1990’s, when a horrific “shock therapy” program was imposed on the Russian people, which lead to an economic, demographic and social disaster involving millions of deaths and destroyed lives, a social disaster the extent of which is largely unknown in the West, although it was in large part caused by the West

  • We must break out of the paranoid survival myth
    • Lillian Rosengarten: There is no kinder gentler Zionism.


      A "kinder, gentler Zionism" would embrace an unjust two-state settlement along lines similar to the Geneva Initiative (aka "The International Consensus":

      link to

      *A mutual Israeli–Palestinian declaration of an end to the conflict and future claims.

      *Mutual recognition of both nations and their right to an independent state.

      *Almost complete Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders, with a limited number of settlement blocs on the basis of a 1:1 land swap.

      *A comprehensive solution to the issue of the Palestinian refugees based on the Clinton Parameters (2000); of which the main component will be compensation and a return to an independent Palestinian State.

      *Jewish Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Arab Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital with Jewish areas under Israeli sovereignty and Arab areas under Palestinian sovereignty.

      *A non-militarized Palestinian state and detailed security arrangements.

      Needless to say, such a "kinder, gentler Zionism" is a extreme minority viewpoint within Zionism.

    • Lillian Rosengarten: Chosen people does not appear in the bible.

      On the contrary, the notion of a "chosen people" clearly and explicitly appears in Deuteronomy 7 (emphasis added):

      6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

      7 The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people [...]

      As well as Deuteronomy 14:2

      For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.

      For additional Biblical references, see:

      link to

      link to

  • 'NYT' article on UN's Gaza report strains to demonstrate equivalence in suffering
    • Ilan Pappe: ... when in 1967 Israel’s territorial appetite was satisfied with the occupation of the whole of historic Palestine, as well as large territories from Egypt and Syria, it was achieved with the help of similar inhumane ethnic cleansing operations of expulsions and massacres.

      RoHa: “in 1967 Israel’s territorial appetite was satisfied”

      What make you think that?

      @RoHa -- Israel would not be satisfied with the whole of historic Palestine + Syrian territories etc?

  • 'Obama coffee' is black and weak -- racist tweet from wife of Israel's vice premier
    • “A race of people is like an individual man...” — Malcolm


      Except a "race of people" is a social construct; an individual person is not?


  • Israeli diplomats 'are not allowed to speak' on US campuses, but North Korean diplomats are, Israeli official says
    • talknic… and when found to be lying, liars deserve to be not only shouted down but booted out,
      And just WHO gets to decide who is lying? Who gets to arrogate to themselves the right to shout someone down and boot them out? Any person? Any group?

      What are you going to say if someone shouts you down because they say you are lying? How will you defend yourself if you can't speak? How would anyone?

      I didn’t mention shutting down debate.

      Shouting someone down shuts down debate.

      it is impossible to further constructive debate in order to reach a just conclusion while their lies sway opinion

      Lies need to be exposed as such. That's they way they are neutralized in a democratic society. If a small group shouts down a speaker, it's more often assumed by neutral observers that the speaker is telling some unpalatable truth.

    • talknic: Liars deserve to be shouted down hophmi

      Tempting idea, admittedly. But facile, and quite pernicious. As history has repeatedly shown, the coercive shutting down of debate is antithetical to democracy. The reason is simple: without the free exchange of ideas it is impossible to determine what is lie and what is the truth and what is in-between.

      It's always an ugly, highly flawed process, but the alternative--the suppression of speech by self-appointed Guardians of The Truth-- is far, far worse.

    • Memphis: Unless he meant land mass, but then Canada would be the worlds largest democracy.


      Actually, it would be Russia, not Canada.

  • State Dep't report on latest Gaza onslaught itemizes children's deaths for first time
    • JVP has instructed its staff and other leaders to shun Alison Weir of ‘If Americans Knew”

      I deplore these disgraceful McCarthyistic attacks--and I'm contributing to Weir's organization and buying her book forthwith.

    • yonah fredman: I assume that this rumor mongering passage got past the gatekeepers here by mistake.

      kris: rensanceman is hardly “rumor mongering.” We should demand that dual-citizens of any kind not be allowed to hold positions in the U.S. government.

      The issue wasn't policy regarding dual-citizenship; it was this specific statement:

      I believe the State department is heavily represented by Zionist sympathizers and some with dual citizenships.

      That there are a lot of "Zionist sympathizers" in the State department seems uncontroversial to me. Sympathy for Zionism is for all intents and purposes official U.S. policy.

      But the claim that there are "some with dual citizenships", while likely true, is way too vague and unsubstantiated to be useful, imo. If it's only a very small number, their existence is inconsequential, no matter what you think of dual-citizenship. On the other hand, if there are many with dual-citizenship, that fact needs to be substantiated with some kind of concrete evidence and numbers--otherwise, it is indeed just "rumor mongering", as Yonah put it.

  • Does Israel have a toxic personality? Ask Michael Oren
    • bryan: "... despite the uphill battle against the power of mega-corporations and the military-industrial complex, ordinary citizens do have some small say in the course of history."


      That's reassuring.

    • echinococcus: Argumentum ad hominem is there whenever the user resorts to an attack on the person *instead of* addressing the content of the argument.

      Or in addition. Much polemical rhetoric is a mix of personal attacks and content-based arguments.

      Talknic, for example, asserts--without any evidence whatsoever-- that Yonah Fredman is a paid Hasbarist ("What a waste of Hasbara payroll shekels."). That's an obvious attempt to discredit Yonah. The fact that Talknic also presents factual/logical arguments in no way justifies unsubstantiated character attacks. Besides, the incessant nastiness just distracts from those arguments, imo.

      In any case, whether or not Talknic's profuse personal attacks are properly classified as "ad hominems" misses the point entirely. I'll happily re-label them simply as "personal attacks" and note the MW comments ground rule:

      No personal attacks. We encourage spirited, passionate debate, but if you have to resort to vicious personal attack, you’re not advancing the discussion. Stay on the issues.

      It's not complicated: juvenile name-calling, character assassination, etc. add nothing of value to a rational debate. That was my point. It stands.

    • Talknic: yonah fredman demonstrates how f*ckwits never learn, never stop with their simple minded drivel!

      Ad hominems-- name-calling etc.-- do nothing to strengthen your arguments. Just sayin'....

  • After a hard week in the news, Israeli gets valentines all weekend from NPR
    • jon s: Are you really saying that using hospitals , schools, mosques and other civilian facilities for military purposes is legal ? As far as I know, it’s a violation of laws and norms.

      There's a good discussion of this question here:

      link to

      The post presents a rather pro-Israel legal interpretation, and many of the comments reveal the weaknesses of that position.

    • talknic: @ jon s “talknic, Are you really saying that using hospitals, schools, mosques and other civilian facilities for military purposes is legal?” [...] ”As far as I know, it’s a violation of laws and norms”

      So cite the law …


      IF the civilians in the schools, hospitals, mosques etc. were being used as "human shields" (i.e., "their presence or movement is aimed or used to render military targets immune from military operations” ), then that would be a violation of international humanitarian law, Rule #97:

      link to


      Amnesty International Q&A:

      The Israeli authorities claim that Hamas and Palestinian armed groups use Palestinian civilians in Gaza as “human shields”. Does Amnesty International have any evidence that this has occurred during the current hostilities?

      Amnesty International is monitoring and investigating such reports, but does not have evidence at this point that Palestinian civilians have been intentionally used by Hamas or Palestinian armed groups during the current hostilities to “shield” specific locations or military personnel or equipment from Israeli attacks.

      In previous conflicts Amnesty International has documented that Palestinian armed groups have stored munitions in and fired indiscriminate rockets from residential areas in the Gaza Strip in violation of international humanitarian law.

      Reports have also emerged during the current conflict of Hamas urging residents to ignore Israeli warnings to evacuate. However, these calls may have been motivated by a desire to minimize panic and displacement, in any case, such statements are not the same as directing specific civilians to remain in their homes as “human shields” for fighters, munitions, or military equipment.

      Under international humanitarian law even if “human shields” are being used Israel’s obligations to protect these civilians would still apply.

      link to


      Human Rights Watch Q&A:

      3. What are the obligations of Israel and Hamas with respect to fighting in populated areas?

      Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. International humanitarian law does not prohibit fighting in urban areas, although the presence of many civilians places greater obligations on warring parties to take steps to minimize harm to civilians.

      The laws of war require that the parties to a conflict take constant care during military operations to spare the civilian population and to "take all feasible precautions" to avoid or minimize the incidental loss of civilian life and damage to civilian objects.

      These precautions include doing everything feasible to verify that the objects of attack are military objectives and not civilians or civilian objects, and giving "effective advance warning" of attacks when circumstances permit.

      Forces deployed in populated areas must avoid locating military objectives – including fighters, ammunition and weapons -- in or near densely populated areas, and endeavor to remove civilians from the vicinity of military objectives.

      Belligerents are prohibited from using civilians to shield military objectives or operations from attack. "Shielding" refers to purposefully using the presence of civilians to render military forces or areas immune from attack.

      At the same time, the attacking party is not relieved from its obligation to take into account the risk to civilians , including the duty to avoid causing disproportionate harm to civilians, simply because it considers the defending party responsible for having located legitimate military targets within or near populated areas.

      link to

    • jon s: Collective punishment is wrong in principle, but I really can’t think of any war, even the most justified, in which civilians didn’t sufffer. And the principle applies to Israelis as well.

      So, collective punishment is as immoral as terrorism?

      And, isn't much of Palestinian terrorism tantamount to collective punishment against Israel?

  • BDS could cost Israel $4.7 billion a year
    • ritzl: $4.7B is about 1.5% of Israeli GDP ($273B). Economies live and die, governments fall [...] on 2-3% fluctuations.

      Governments and ideologies can also be strengthened by sanctions etc. Case in point: Russia, where I live. Something to take into consideration.

  • Israel can handle any threat in the Middle East, but it will go down without young American Jews -- Shavit
    • hophmi: " I’d like to hear your take on your fellow one-stater Glick’s...."


      Glick does not in fact support a "one-state solution".

      As Beinart points out:

      " Glick....wants only Palestinians in the West Bank to receive equal voting rights since Gaza is already a 'de facto Palestinian state.' (Not de facto enough for the United States government, which still considers Gaza under Israeli occupation, but never mind.)

      link to

      If you exclude Gaza, you are not talking about a single-state.

  • Is BDS practicing a double standard with respect to Arab countries?
    • eljay: || Sibiriak: Wouldn’t a state with “a lot of Jews” have a Jewish character simply be means of that Jewish super-majority? Israel as it exists certainly does NOT give equal rights to non-Jews, but it doesn’t follow that if it DID give such rights it would necessarily cease to be a Jewish state. ||

      If Israel were to grant equality to non-Jews, it would immediately cease to be a supremacist “Jewish State”. Over time, it might even naturally cease to be any sort of a “culturally Jewish” state.

      That clearly implies that Israel could be a "culturally Jewish" state while ceasing to be a "supremacist" Jewish state.

      Neither of these scenarios appeals to Zio-supremacists. .

      I agree completely. That's true by definition.


      Even in the “kinder, gentler” world of “liberal Zionism”:
      – Israel must have a legally-enshrined, permanent-majority status for Jews....

      Peter Beinart does NOT support any kind of legal-enshrined permanent majority status for Jews in Israel. Neither does Uri Avnery. Nor Norman Finkelstein. Nor Noam Chomsky. And so on. Does that mean folks like them are not "liberal Zionists", even though they support a two-state settlement?

      it would be acceptable to redraw the borders of Israel essentially to excise (and render stateless) any non-Jewish Israeli demographic that threatens the “Jewish nature” of Israel.

      Again, not true for Beinart et al.

    • RoHa: To be “Jewish”, the state cannot give equal rights to non-Jews. Otherwise it would be just another state, albeit one with a lot of Jews. .

      Wouldn't a state with "a lot of Jews" have a Jewish character simply be means of that Jewish super-majority? Israel as it exists certainly does NOT give equal rights to non-Jews, but it doesn't follow that if it DID give such rights it would necessarily cease to be a Jewish state.

    • echinococcus: Sure, because Beinart agreed to… what? A fully sovereign Palestinian state with an army and all? In your dreams.


      Actually Beinart does support a Palestinian state having its own army.

  • Netanyahu cabinet members reject two-state solution; call for annexation of occupied territories
    • HarryLaw: If she wishes to annex the West Bank, it can only be one state.


      No. Annexing the West Bank, in whole or in part, leaves out Gaza entirely. That's not "one state."

  • Munayyer and Beinart's historic debate on the solution to the conflict
    • Annie Robbins: .... you can’t (necessarily) interchange countries that “espouse a religion” to “supremacist state”.

      True-- which suggests that it could be a legitimate aim to have Israel abandon its ethno-religious supremacism while continuing to "espouse" Jewish religion, culture, language etc.

  • What I Was Told: Arabs hate Jews
    • Mooser: Pass bigotry on to our children, cause it’s “simpler"?

      Yonah's razor?

    • Mooser: " ... I am hardly the best of the race."

      Perhaps not, but you have exemplary genes.

    • yonah fredman: "But would it not be simpler to say, “they hate us”. Simpler but inaccurate... "


      Simpler, but evil.

  • 'New York Times' cites Palestinians as 'demographic' threat
    • Keith: "SIBIRIAK- 'The real argument being made, therefore, is that Zionism itself is racist, and that argument has by no means won the day yet.'

      If by “won the day yet” you mean that it is not commonly accepted that Zionism is racist, then you are probably correct.


      Yes, that is what I meant. I agree with your insightful points about the racial/genetic foundations of Zionist ideology.

    • Donald: "There is a subtle contradiction in your post, Sibiriak. "

      I never made the claim that the report wasn't biased in *any* way, let alone that Rudoren and the NYT did not have a proven record of pro-Israel bias--they do. I referred only to a single specific passage where I disagreed with the notion that Rudoren was expressing her own views, rather than reporting on the views of others.

      Donald: "... A journalist reporting on the Israeli Jewish pov should take care to report the Palestinian view that expelling them from their homes was immoral. Otherwise it is just a subtle endorsement of a viewpoint that is extremely common in the U.S...."


      That's an extremely important point, and one with which I agree entirely. However, that critical source of bias--omitting or downplaying the ethnic cleansing that has been crucial to the creation of a Jewish super-majority state--is logically and morally distinct from the central assertion of the article: that rhetoric about a Jewish state being demographically threatened is *in itself* unacceptably racist.

      The fact that creation and expansion of a Jewish State in Palestine has required ongoing ethnic cleansing, politicide and, arguably, genocide is critical in distinguishing the moral evaluation of Israel from other cases involving the "self-determination of peoples", such as that of Tibet ("demographically threatened" by Han Chinese?), collective "ethnic" rights for indigenous tribes, cases of so-called "cultural genocide" and so on.

      It may also be a practical political mistake to *focus* condemnation on the very concept of a "Jewish state" rather than on the specific crimes of ethnic cleansing, apartheid etc. needed to create and maintain such a state *in Palestine*.

    • RoHa: "But 'death warrant' is a loaded term. There is no real death involved..."

      Good point. We need to cleanse writing of all figurative language. (Whoops, I shouldn't say "cleanse", should I?)

    • Philip Weiss: "But the awareness that you shouldn’t use such language is beginning to break on some folks in the mainstream– if not the New York Times. Here’s a Guardian profile today of B’Tselem’s Hagai El-Ad..."

      Hagai El-Ad is way, way out of the Israeli mainstream, a fact made perfectly clear by the Guardian article itself.

    • hophmi: "...Rudoren is simply reporting the viewpoint of Israeli Jews, and not necessarily adopting their view."

      I have to agree with hophmi on this point.

      Rudoren writes: "Most Israeli Jews, as well as many outside experts, see either such a one-state solution or the return of all refugees and their descendants as a demographic death warrant for Israel as a Jewish state..."

      That statement would seem to be factually correct-- and nobody here has presented any evidence to the contrary.

      Philip Weiss writes: " anyone who used such language in the United States to refer to black people or Jews or Muslims, or any other minority threatening the white or Christian character of anything would lose their job in an instant."

      Not if they were simply reporting on the views of some specific people.

      "But Israel is always different; after all, it was founded on the premise of establishing a “strong Jewish majority” so as to be the homeland of the Jewish people. "

      True. The two cases--the U.S. and Israel--are clearly not analogous in that regard.

      "People who closely follow the conflict know the “demographic threat” argument for preserving Israel is widely considered racist."

      It's also widely considered, rightly or wrongly, non-racist and morally valid-- there is substantial global support for the maintenance of a Jewish majority in Israel.

      Eve Fairbanks (Guardian article): "' What is Jewish?' I asked. Treating people with dignity,” [B’Tselem’s El-Ad] answered. 'I think that’s enough.'”

      Any state that treats people with dignity is a "Jewish state"?? That's silly. By any reasonable understanding of the historical concept, a "Jewish state" requires a Jewish majority, if not a Jewish super-majority.

      The real argument being made, therefore, is that Zionism itself is racist, and that argument has by no means won the day yet. To assume that it already has is simply fallacious.

  • New West Bank settlement casts light on clandestine role of international support for settlers
    • David Gerald Fincham: @sibiriak To clarify: there has to be a viable two-state solution on the way to a one-state solution. That means that the occupation must end first, and then Israel and Palestine can determine where their final border is, I suggest with the help of a Boundary Commission under independent Chairmanship. I expect Palestine to include more territory than just the West Bank and Gaza, gaining territory mainly from the Negev."


      While that rosy scenario is certainly a possibility, I believe the more likely outcome will be a much-truncated Palestinian mini-state leading to a permanent separation of Palestine and Israel.

      David Gerald Fincham: "Then the two states can consider whether to unite, and what form that union might take. I think there are very good reasons why they should unite, and I propose a single sovereign state consisting of two largely autonomous nations, with a defined and open border between them, along the lines of the England-Scotland model. "

      Again, a rosy scenario. More likely, imho: the truncated Palestinian mini-state eventually enters into some kind of confederation with Jordan and/or other Arab states.

    • David Gerald Fincham: "The two states already exist as legal entities, recognized by other states. "


      "The only possible way that they could become a single state is by means of a voluntary union. "

      A single state would have to include Gaza--a fact many commenters ignore--and Israel will not voluntarily unite with Gaza, let alone be forced into such a union.

    • VisaIssues: "to label the death of a two-state solution as a ‘defeat’ is to elevate your own view/preference above many of those who live here."

      Likewise, to welcome a supposed "death of a two-state solution" and espouse the goal of a single state would be to elevate a personal preference above many of those who live there.

      (Philip Weiss wrote: "… when I attended the Third National BDS Conference in Hebron this past December one attendee asked Omar Barghouti why the movement doesn’t explicitly endorse one state? He responded by saying it’s because the overwhelming number of Palestinian organizations that endorsed the BDS call support two states.")

  • 'Oglethorpe stands with Palestine': BDS comes to the American south (Updated)
    • "jon s: The point is that the first line in the report is a lie."


      Not necessarily. It could be just an inaccuracy.

  • Pro-Israel wealthy Jews feature in 'Forward,' Christie roast, and U of Michigan censorship
    • Kris: "These people live in an alternate universe."


      No, they are just playing hardball.

  • Netanyahu appoints Ayelet Shaked—who called for genocide of Palestinians—as Justice Minister in new government
    • "Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people."


      And thus some 20% of the Israeli population are full-fledged enemies of the state. What should be done with this fifth column? Abrogation of civil rights, total surveillance, internment, expulsion? 20% of the population *at war* with the nation--hard to see how that can be tolerated.

  • Israeli army can't stop patting itself on the back for helping Nepal victims
    • "Carter, who cancelled a planned visit to Gaza on this trip, said Saturday he “deplored” criminal acts by members of Hamas, but said he was looking to support moderate members of the group, which he said wasn’t a terrorist organization.

      “I don’t believe that he’s a terrorist. He’s strongly in favor of the peace process,” Carter said of Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal. "

      link to

  • Forgiving the anti-Semites
    • hophmi: "The Jews are supporting characters in Schindler’s List. The movie is principally about Schindler."


      Yes, actually that's correct. It's not about Jews really, it's about a German businessman saving the lives of over a thousand Jews.


      "Ideas for a film about the Schindlerjuden (Schindler Jews) were proposed as early as 1963. Poldek Pfefferberg, one of the Schindlerjuden, made it his life's mission to tell the story of Schindler. Spielberg became interested in the story when executive Sid Sheinberg sent him a book review of Schindler's Ark. Universal Studios bought the rights to the novel, but Spielberg, unsure if he was ready to make a film about the Holocaust, tried to pass the project to several other directors before finally deciding to direct the film himself." (Wikipedia)

    • DaBakr: "....the Zionists ‘plan’ to rule the earth."

      Hmmm.... what I read at Mondoweiss is that the Zionist plan is to pursue Zionist interests.

    • hophmi: "You hypothesize, based on no evidence, that these films were made because of Jews in power, rather than more mundane reasons, which is that the Holocaust is a major event in human history..."


      Good point. And I'm quite sure that if Arab-Americans dominated Hollywood, we would have gotten pretty much the same number of Holocaust and Nakba films that we've gotten from our Jewish-dominated Hollywood, and pretty much the same kind of Jewish and Arab character typing.

      After all, Hollywood isn't about ideology, subtly supporting US imperialism or Zionism, or any other political agenda--it's about making money. So Jew or Arab in charge, there would be no difference. Money has no ethnicity.

    • RoHa: “All I know is that if I were a Jew living in 1937 Germany or 1939 Europe, I would have gone anywhere that would take me and prayed that Hitler wouldn’t overrun it. ”

      And when you arrived in that country, would you then have joined a “Jewish national liberation movement” to take that country from its native inhabitants?


      RoHa --consistently --cuts to the very heart of the matter.

  • Understanding the Jewish National Home
    • RoHa: Yes, an older meaning [ of "nation" and "nationality" which is not standard any more. If that is what hophmi means, he should say so.

      Again, I must disagree. The definition is older but it is not "non-standard." I've read quite a few books on European history by contemporary writers who have used the term "nation" with that standard older meaning.

      Benedict Anderson, referenced above, is one of the most influential modern writers on nationalism; many of his ideas are widespread, if not dominant. His concept of a nation as an “imagined community” of extended and shared connections is perfectly applicable to Jewish people who have such an "imagined" shared identity ("imagined" meaning its basis is ultimately subjective, not that it is false.)

      So, the meaning Hophmi is invoking is a fully standard, widely recognized one (especially in academic writing), although secondary in contemporary usage.

      RoHa: " The quotations prove only that Jews have claimed Jewishness is a nationality in some sense or another."

      No. The widespread categorizing of Jews and many other "imagined" (self-identified) ethnic-communites as "nations" is in no way simply a "Jewish claim"---its standard historiography, historical sociology etc.

      More importantly, I don't see the political-rhetorical effectiveness of trying to prove what will for many seem be a quite problematic proposition-- that Jews do NOT constitute a nation (or people).

      I humbly suggest that you would be better off not trying to invalidate centuries of standard historiographic, political and cultural usage of the term "nation" in regards to Jews and other groups, and instead relentlessly pose the clear, simple and entirely unanswerable question: how the hell does the fact that Jews might be a "nation" with "imagined" roots in ancient Palestine give them any moral or legal right to take over modern Palestine and cleanse that land of its non-Jewish residents, or subject them to an evil apartheid regime?

    • RoHa: “We Jews say we constitute a nation, and we have said it for a long time. ”

      There are two standard meanings for “nation”. Since neither of those meanings apply to Jews, either (a) they are mistaken, or (b) they are using a non-standard meaning for “nation”.

      I disagree. For centuries Jews have been considered a "nation" under an older standard understanding of the term.


      link to

      "11. The meaning which is given nowadays to the word “nation” in many countries is far removed from the original meaning.

      12. Historically, it would seem that use of the word dates back to the Middle Ages; it comes from the Latin natio, a substantive derived from the verb nascere (to be born), and denotes origin, membership of a community, a relationship to an entity within which one was born. "


      link to

      "Nation has various meanings, and the meaning has changed over time.[1] The concept of "nation" is related to "ethnic community" or ethnie. An ethnic community often has a myth of origins... and descent, a common history, elements of distinctive culture, a common territorial association, and sense of group solidarity. A nation is, by comparison, much more impersonal, abstract, and overtly political than an ethnic group. It is a cultural-political community that has become conscious of its coherence, unity, and particular interests.[2]

      The nation has been described by Benedict Anderson as an "imagined community"[3] and by Paul James as an "abstract community".[4] It is an imagined community in the sense that the material conditions exist for imagining extended and shared connections."

      link to

      "Jewish ethnicity, nationality and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation.[33][34][35] Converts to Judaism typically have a status within the Jewish ethnos equal to those born into it."

      " Brandeis, Louis (April 25, 1915). [...] 'Jews are a distinctive nationality of which every Jew, whatever his country, his station or shade of belief, is necessarily a member'"

      " Einstein, Albert (June 21, 1921). [...] 'The Jewish nation is a living fact'"

  • Just like the Nazis, Iran 'plans to exterminate six million Jews' -- Netanyahu
    • hophmi: " Iran...threatened to annihilate the Jewish state repeatedly? "


      "Iran is a totalitarian state ruled by a cleric."


      "It funds terrorist groups and terrorist attacks around the world."


      " Why is that reality absent, completely, from your analysis?"

      Because your "reality" is a string of falsehoods. And you made no attempt to substantiate them.

  • My personal journey of transformation
    • Kris: "@Sibirak: “It is certainly possible to conceive of a Jewish- majority state with full civil rights for minority groups. That, however, is not the reality in Israel. But it could be a goal.”

      Why could a majority of any ethnic or religious group be an acceptable goal?"

      1) Israel within "1967" borders already has a Jewish super-majority. So the goal would be full civil rights for all non-Jewish Israelis (along with social and economic equality and other goals.)

      2) The desire of a people (ethnos) to be a political majority may not be the most enlightened of desires imaginable, but if such a goal does not entail the violation of the civil and individual rights of other groups (but it often does), it's certainly not the worst of political goals. In Russia for example, where I live as a foreigner, the Russian people see Russian majority-status in Russia as a non-negotiable given--they would certainly never accept minority status.. That kind of attitude is quite prevalent globally.

      All over the world there are movements for peoples, nations, indigenous groups etc. to create or maintain political entities in which those groups are majorities--call if self-determination of peoples, a "cardinal principle in modern international law"-- and in many states the majority status of a particular people/nation/ethnos is simply taken for granted.

      " How would that be achieved, other than by getting rid of people who adversely affected the demographic goal?"

      It could only be achieved --morally-- in a territory where a group was already a majority. That was/is the great evil in Zionism-- a "Jewish homeland" in Palestine *required* ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. And ethnic-cleansing continues to this day.


      "A goal of a “Jewish majority” nation sounds about as acceptable as a goal of an Aryan majority nation. What am I missing here?"

      Simply this: A Jewish majority already exists (built on innumerable past crimes) in "pre-1967 Israel" , i.e. Israel excluding the Occupied Territories. Those territories could become the sovereign lands of a Palestinian state, and Israel could be transformed from an ethno-theocratic militarist state into a liberal-democratic state with a Jewish-majority. "Could" meaning those could be acceptable goals, not that they are realistic ones. But then again, a single state comprising Israel, the West Bank and Gaza isn't so realistic either at this point.

    • Kris : "@DoubleStandard: “You don’t understand — none of the people at this website do. The entire of idea of Israel was a Jewish-majority country.”

      Aw, DoubleStandard, I DO understand! Israel is so much like the Confederate States of America, aka the Confederacy! I absolutely get it! The entire idea of the CSA was to continue their benign (and biblical!) tradition of black slavery."


      Strictly speaking, an ethnic-majority state need not be an ethnic-supremacist state that oppresses minorities.

      It is certainly possible to conceive of a Jewish- majority state with full civil rights for minority groups. That, however, is not the reality in Israel. But it could be a goal.

  • Israel could reduce anti-Semitic violence by not calling itself the Jewish state, Finkelstein says
    • yonah fredman: " it would be ideal to separate between Jew haters and haters of Zionism. But there is no practical means of doing so at this time."


      If you cannot distinguish hating *individual human beings* (simply for their membership in a group) from hating a pernicious *ideology*, then you are either intellectually feeble or intellectually dishonest.

    • yonah fredman: "The Sanhedrin, even if the gospel reports are accurate about their culpability, were nonetheless status quo politicians backing Herod and the rule of Rome. These were quislings, not representatives of the people. "


      Good point . I find it almost always inappropriate to use the expression "the Jews", unless quoting another source.

    • Kris: "We say “the U.S,” not “U.S. citizens,” even though there are U.S. citizens who do not support U.S. policies. "


      Yes, and it's a huge, obfuscating error when "we" do. Routinely, actions by a concrete power elite are demagogically conflated with the actions of a fictive organic national entity.

  • When occupation becomes apartheid
    • tree: "I don’t have “my people”. All people have worth and meaning and I don’t see any need to claim some restricted group in preference to all others. You ought to try it sometime. Its quite liberating and clarifying. It releases one from the idea that one must support or excuse evil actions just because they committed by “your people”. If everyone, and no one, is “your people” then you can focus on the actions without having to preface your judgment on who is doing it before deciding whether the action is right or wrong. And you can account for and understand the frailty and imperfections of all human beings, not just some limited group."


      Eloquent remarks--and many others in the exchange with Yonah. Thanks.

      (One of my problems is, many of "my people", if I have a "people", aren't people.)

  • American Jews are taking back their power from Israel
    • "It is too late for the two state solution; any real effort to establish a viable Palestinian state would start a civil war in Israel."


      And any real effort to create a single democratic state (Israel +Gaza + West Bank) would face far, far greater--near unanimous--opposition in Israel. So if a two-state solution is impossible due to Jewish Israeli opposition, then, a fortiori, a single-state solution is impossible as well.

  • Netanyahu won. Now what?
    • Avigail Abarbanel: "... the founders of the Zionist movement, however they defined themselves politically, were people motivated by fear and arrogance. They were ruthless enough to think that it would be OK to remove the indigenous population of Palestine to create an exclusively Jewish safe-haven. "

      Well, after all, they were Europeans.

    • Avigail Abarbanel: "The logical conclusion will mean an end to an exclusively Jewish state and the creation of a one state for all. "


      Another logical conclusion might be: we should support the creation of a separate Palestinian state, so that Israel can continue to exist with a Jewish super-majority.

    • On guilt, cf. Eric Hoffer, "The True Believer":

      "The most effective way to silence our guilty conscience is to convince ourselves and others that those we have sinned against are indeed depraved creatures, deserving every punishment, even extermination. We cannot pity those we have wronged, nor can we be indifferent toward them. We must hate and persecute them or else leave the door open to self-contempt."

  • Netanyahu's consciousness-raising
    • eljay: "When Jews fail to protect the Palestinians, they are not doing their best to protect the world, which means they are not doing their best to protect themselves "


      No. You got the logic wrong. It should be:

      When Jews fail to protect Palestinians, they are protecting themselves.

      When Jews protect themselves, they are protecting the world.

      Therefore: When Jews fail to protect Palestinians, they are protecting the world.

  • Netanyahu's speech and the American Jewish condition
    • hophmi: "So Annie, you believe Jews have too much power and you resent it."


      It's not about too much power-- it's about abuse of power.

  • One-state 'fantasy is very dangerous' because it cannot tell us what the military looks like -- Manekin
    • Kris: What makes it possible for Israeli Jews to look at the history of Israel and the 70+ decades (and counting!) of the lethal misery they have inflicted on the Palestinians and imagine that they have done anything worth praising “for justice in this place?”

      "Israeli Jews" are individuals. None is personally responsible for the entire "history of Israel". Each can only be judged by their own actions in their own lives. Uri Avnery, Gideon Levy et al. have led exemplary moral lives--their actions speak for themselves.

    • JeffB: They didn’t have a state yet but they had a proto-state

      That's accurate. Rashid Khalidi elaborates on that point in his book "The Iron Cage." He uses the expression "para-state":

      In order to protect the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine against the opposition of the majority of the population, the British were obliged to keep the reins of central state power in the mandatory administration entirely in their hands, even as they allowed the yishuv virtually total internal autonomy.

      This autonomy included full-fledged representative institutions, internationally recognized diplomatic representation abroad via the Jewish Agency, and control of most of the other apparatuses of internal self-government, amounting to a para-state within, dependent upon, but separate from, the mandatory state.


      Nor did the Palestinians even have a para-state structure like the Jewish Agency, since the British would only recognize an Arab Agency, as Passfield suggested they might in 1930, on condition that they accepted the terms of the Mandate. We have seen that the Palestinians considered the Mandate to constitute the negation of their national existence as a sovereign people in all of their country. An earlier British proposal, made in 1923, for an Arab Agency to be appointed by the high commissioner (rather than elected as in the Jewish case) was, in the words of Ann Mosely Lesch, “a pale reflection of the Jewish Agency,” without most of its power and functions, without sanction in the Mandate, without independence, and without international standing.

      This latter point is extremely important, for by the terms of the League of Nations Mandate, the Jewish Agency was “recognized as a public body for the purpose of advising and cooperating with the Administration of Palestine.” The resulting recognized international standing of the Jewish Agency meant that the Zionist movement was entitled to diplomatic representation in Geneva before the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission, in London, and elsewhere.

      By contrast, the Palestinians had no international standing whatsoever, and indeed were often dependent on the hostile and unsympathetic British for such unsatisfactory diplomatic representation as they could obtain in Geneva and elsewhere.


      The significance of the quasi-official diplomatic status accorded to the Jewish Agency by Britain and the League of Nations through the Mandate thus cannot be overemphasized. It gave the Zionist movement an international legitimacy and guaranteed it invaluable access in world capitals, besides providing the framework within which the Zionist para-state that ultimately became Israel could be constructed without hindrance, and indeed with ample British and international support.

      Rashid Khalidi, "The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood"

  • Menendez bags on Iran sanctions, and congressman says AIPAC demands deference to Israel over US
    • lysias: A nation that has experienced the world’s worst genocide just 70 years ago has not just a right but an obligation to take seriously any existential threats that loom against it.

      Israel experienced a genocide?


      "A nation"= "the Jewish nation" = "the Jewish people"

      See the Israeli supreme court definition of nationality.

  • Why I am not Charlie
    • Annie Robbins: it’s been a long day for me.

      Thanks for all the hard work. Your sharp intelligence and moral passion is greatly appreciated.

    • RoHa, in another thread you wrote:

      "I am always eager to lecture about grammatical issues, so I will support the first part of your correction. In “let’s go” the “let” is not permission but exhortation. The correct negation is “let’s not”

      The Oxford Modern English Grammar, however, seems to take a different view:

      A special type of imperative is the let imperative, exemplified in (30) and (31). In these cases the speaker is included in the directive. Thus we can interpret (30) as ‘Let’s you and I have a look at the list’.

      The negated versions of let imperatives are formed with the negated dummy auxiliary verb DO.

      30 Let’s have a look at the list.

      31 Don’t let’s tell the police.

      Aarts, Bas (2011-02-10). Oxford Modern English Grammar (p.171).

      Perhaps that is a British variant. I wouldn't use that construction myself.

    • Regarding "The perpetrators are not even called terrorists, just a “militant group "

      This may or may not be relevant:

      "As Bruce Hoffman has noted: "terrorism is a pejorative term. It is a word with intrinsically negative connotations that is generally applied to one's enemies and opponents, or to those with whom one disagrees and would otherwise prefer to ignore.

      (...) Hence the decision to call someone or label some organization 'terrorist' becomes almost unavoidably subjective, depending largely on whether one sympathizes with or opposes the person/group/cause concerned. If one identifies with the victim of the violence, for example, then the act is terrorism.

      If, however, one identifies with the perpetrator, the violent act is regarded in a more sympathetic, if not positive (or, at the worst, an ambivalent) light; and it is not terrorism."[3]

      For this and for political reasons, many news sources (such as Reuters) avoid using this term, opting instead for less accusatory words like "bombers", "militants", etc "

      link to

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