Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 852 (since 2009-07-31 12:30:56)

Sin Nombre

An average schlub.

Showing comments 200 - 101

  • Third war is urged on Obama
    • Boy, you just gotta love it. Etzioni doesn't mention word one that he seems to be an Israeli citizen as well as an American, nor that whereas before, in the early Sixties, when the U.S. was facing the communists who actually had nukes and were putting them in Cuba even, waxed wroth about the how American were not embracing "peace" enough. (All as per Wikipedia and the guy's books, a couple of which I'm familar with.) And here's the big "communitarian" who seems to believe that for some reason, it's moral blackness to embrace anything but an open, diverse society, except when it comes to Israel and the jews who somehow have the sole right to exclude all non-jews from their society.

      You just die to ask such folk where the hell they think they received the moral imprimatur that has them towering so far above the rest of us that they can willy-nilly engage in and promote such blatant hypocrisy?

  • 'NYT' opens 'inflammatory' discussion--Israel as strategic liability
    • Phil Weiss wrote:

      "Netanyahu has opened up daylight between the lobby and the U.S. president. So Netanyahu's days are numbered."

      This I don't understand. Isn't the effective reality that it's *Obama* whose days have *already* (effectively) run out in terms of the I/P issue?

      After all what was Netanyahu gonna be doing right before he rushed home? (To reap the plaudits of his citizenry by defending this raid?) Again, according to all the reporting that I've seen, wasn't he essentially going to Washington to figuratively have Obama grovel for his past mistakes and kiss his ring? Hasn't all the reporting said that it was all set up for Obama to come out and smile at and fawn over the 'Net and to make it clear to all and sundry that he's got no problems with him? Even despite J'slem settlements continuing to expand and indeed other ones doing the same too? And the Gaza blockade still firmly being in place, despite Obama having previously called for that to be lifted too and getting a Bronx-cheer response from 'Net for that too? And isn't it just absolutely Swarovski-crystal-clear that Obama has just totally thrown his Cairo speech sentiments down the memory hole?

      Just don't see Phil's thinking here. Seems to me it's not a matter of any future thing but instead that Obama's *already* been gelded. And Obama's statements and etc. *after* this raid can hardly be seen as evidence against this, can they? To me at least they were not even a molecule away from sympathizing with Israel that it has to put up with pesky things like the flotilla people and the world not liking Israel teaching such nuts a lesson with cattle prods and a couple dozen 9 mm rounds.

  • Jews at CFR, c'ted
    • A somewhat humorous post-script honesty compels me to add, prompted by something I just read after writing the above, perhaps showing how much more right MRW and Psychopathic god are than I: A jewish fellow in the NY Times, seeming to agree with the idea of "preternatural [jewish] control over the levers of chance and diplomacy (not to mention the global economic system and the news media)".

      See: link to

    • Psychopathic god wrote:

      "don’t know about your second point, sin nombre, but...."

      Well since we're talking about perceptions (ours) of perceptions (those of the American masses), I certainly can't claim any more validity for mine than yours. And I will admit that I at least am hearing ever more sentiment (albeit of the sotto voce sort) that there's just absolutely no accounting for the disproportionate numbers of jewish folks at elite institutions and offices without there being a quiet "jews promote jews" kind of thing. (Or at least what essentially amounts to a rigging of standards so as to disfavor the kind of background that jews tend not to share.)

      But what's missing to my ear at least is any great feeling that the jewish elites are inimically hostile to American culture, traditions or etc., and as I said my readings are that the Germans felt this was most definitely the case with "their" jews in between the wars, and that seems to me to be significant.

      To be sure though I'll admit that maybe it isn't significant to the point of being necessary for their being the kind of backlash that MRW foresees. You get a critical mass of people feeling that they are at the mercy of an elite whose membership is simply not open to them and who knows what happens. And certainly heavy-handed shit such as criminalizing what many might see simply as free-speech via outlawing giving money to so-called "terrorist" organizations, or to "prosecute" those that were on this flotilla can only make that itch scratch all the more deeply for sure.

      Thus, certainly neither you nor MRW can be called "idiots" or "fools" given at least certain aspects of the cultural trajectory we all agree exists.

    • MRW wrote:

      "My brother’s wife is Jewish...."

      Wonderful post. And not just due to the smart, well-read sister-in-law but also due to MRW's typically intelligent writing. (Totally refreshing too given some of the bouts of naval-gazing self-congratulation this blog seemed to seriously dip into awhile ago at least.)

      I don't know that I'd go where MRW takes it though in terms of the German reaction being replicated here for two reasons:

      In the first place in the post WWI cultural scene in Germany jews were, even moreso than in other sectors, seen as being absolutely predominant and exclusionary, with that scene being just tremendously if not violently hostile to what was perceived as traditional German culture, deriding it at every chance and etc. and so forth and causing incredible anger. And I don't think we see either equivalent here really.

      (Though that's not to say this Cook fellow isn't being dishonest: On the one hand saying we aren't supposed to notice that all these CFR folks were jewish, when you just never ever see folks like him getting upset with Israeli leaders call on all jews everywhere to support this or that. Jas, in his recent talk on the flotilla thing, Netanyahu apparently gave two versions, with the English-language one ending in a request that other nations understand Israel's situation or some such thing, but the Hebrew language version urging all jews to stick together.) But again I just don't think in the U.S. you see anywhere near the clear, closed, tight if not absolute jewish favoritism for jews in various areas (and esp. in cultural ones) that was said to be seen in Germany.

      Plus then secondly I think another added special factor in German was the stupendous (and totally justified) fear of the Bolsheviks, who were just flat our seen as just being a jewish phenomenon, pure and simple. People like Trotsky praising the rivers of blood he'd already spilled in Russia and talking about the Oceans he was gonna spill in Germany when the revolution got there .... (Not helped by having the leading German communists like Luxemburg and Liebknecht being jewish.)

      Don't think was have that fear factor here.

      Nevertheless, just my opinion, doing nothing to detract from the fineness of MRW's post.

  • Two rallies: which crowd do you want to be in?
    • Alex Kane wrote:

      "Before a police officer threatened me with arrest if I stayed where I was, I engaged, civilly, with some of the Jewish supporters of Israel’s 'self-defense.' I wanted to hear what they had to say, but it wasn’t anything novel."

      The question I'd really like to put to (presumably most) of those supporters and those I've seen on the tube is what about their fellow *American* who was killed on that boat? On the high-seas, in int'l waters? With four shots to the head? Just exactly how many other countries would you give the right to kill your fellow Americans in like circumstances?

      I dunno about those protesters Kane talks about of course, but one can just imagine the appeals to patriotism we'd hear from the usual suspects on TV for going to war if it had been Iran that had killed an American on the high seas like this. Patriotism is something that can apparently just be switched on and off as the need be, it seems.

  • Terry Gross fiddles while Zionism burns
    • Boy, even if you're not a conservative/traditionalist, you can sure understand at least a bit of their anger at jewish-Americans like Gross: Seeming to just delight in every movement that condemns traditional American positions or beliefs as irredeemably evil, that undermines or challenges traditional American moral or civic beliefs and etc. and so forth—the more radical the better—from "militarism" to "racism" to "nativism" to "patriotism" even, and all the while if not actively supporting Israel doing or being the same, suddenly becoming strangely silent when same becomes apparent.

      One can just see someone like Gross sneering at one who, say, declares they are against illegal immigration, until perhaps they explain they mean they are in favor of Israeli law making damn near all non-jewish immigration into Israel illegal. Suddenly, viola! What's rat poison for everyone else is just a fine tasty sauce for the jewish goose apparently, and the jewish goose alone.

      And then there's the savagery taking out after folks who say that people like Gross seem to have dual loyalties....

  • How can Obama meet Netanyahu after this?
    • Hard to imagine anything lending more validity to Richard Goldstone's report than this. If after all the Israelis are willing to do this while when there ain't no guns around other than their own and there obviously are camcorders a plenty a-runnin' ....

      Interesting also this instance's made-in-Israel verbal game they play throwing out first this and then that language until they find some formulation they think is best when facing some issue: At first some Israeli spokesman said that that there was an attempt to "lynch" their heavily armed soldiers by these boat-people; now the latest I've seen is that they were "ambushed."

  • Giraldi says senior Air Force adviser may have dual loyalty to Israel
    • eee, I tend to agree with you that some of your contenders on this thread are taking a bit too blunted approach. However, this is just making your position easier despite its deep flaws: No one, not even a born-and-bred U.S. citizen, has any right to a job with the U.S. gov't. Even less does anyone have a right to a security clearance. And indeed both in logic and the supposedly practiced theory the burden of proof as regards security clearances does *not* rest on the gov't or someone else showing you don't deserve one, it rests on you to show that you *do*.

      The question therefore is quite properly whether Dr. Kass deserves one. And that of her known past recounted here is certainly and indeed even abundantly legitimate grounds for questioning same. Maybe—hopefully—she did deserve it despite that known past. However, those who say that no, nothing can overcome the risks associated with such a past are not being illegitimate at all; they're just saying they think the proper bar—the burden being on the earner—ought to be raised, that's all.

      Absolutely entirely legitimate. Still may be in error in terms of wrongly disqualifying some good people, but logic and the theory accepts that you *already* are disqualifying at least *some* good people because that's the price you gotta pay for a sensible system. All the folks here are saying is that we'd be smart to pay that higher price given the perceived increased benefits.

      Can't say that I disagree too much even: Maybe if I was the one vetting Dr. Kass' application for a security clearance I could find she merited one. Very possibly even. But I will say that if I was *designing* the system I don't know that I'd trust anyone *else* to allow her one with her background, and this I think is the key: You don't construct the system based on trust. After all the entire *nature* of this issue is about *distrust*, isn't it? So yeah, I could also easily see me saying "Nope, nobody with Dr. Kass' background gets a clearance, no matter what, period."

  • Realists get traction (Brzezinski and Scowcroft have Obama's ear)
    • Maybe it's just me, but boy, does the quality of the posting on this site ever seem to have declined in just the past couple of months. The name-calling, the unwillingness to listen or attempt to imagine, the inability to discern any validity in any competing argument whatsoever, the incredibly high rant-content, its mob-like nature....

      Hard if not impossible to read.

  • Dennis Ross opposed a tenet of the new Obama Middle East policy
    • David Makovsky wrote:

      “There are no strict linkages between the Palestinian and Iranian issues...."

      Well of course there are, thereby requiring Makovsky to say the Iranians are liars when they expressly say there are. Just as he and other Israeli partisans have to say bin Laden is a liar for saying there is a linkage between the I/P conflict and al Queda and 9/11. Just as they have to say everyone's a liar who said there was a linkage between the oil embargo of '73 and U.S. support for Israel.

      What's particularly delicious now however is that yet another link that was always there has just been brought front and center again with the Arab League calling for a nuclear-free Mideast pact. (Which of course would not just mean Iran would pledge and agree to verification of no nukes, but Israel would too.)

      But Israel of course has always refused this idea, showing it's more interested in just being the *only* nuke power in the ME than having no nukes whatsoever in the region. Very funny now however that Israel is constantly saying that Iran's nukes threaten the whole world though: Puts Israel to the point of whether it is willing to really actually *do* something for the rest of the world or not.

  • Netanyahu misreads the moment, totally
    • No no, piney, that's misreading Petraeus. He's not saying that if the I's and P's are at each others' throats that this alone hurts us. What he's clearly saying is that our past and present posture of having our nose stuck into that hunt and subsidizing Israel is what's costing us with the arab world. And does anyone really doubt that?

    • I understand what Phil means about Bibi misreading the moment, but on the other hand my sense is that Bibi is reading the Israeli electorate very astutely. So far as I see—and I hope I'm wrong but doubt it—any attempt by any Israeli leader to give up any part of J'slem would be renounced by the Knesset, and would even result in an Israeli civil war if that didn't happen.

      So who is really misreading things? Bibi and Likud and the AIPAC'ers, or the U.S. establishment which believes that us being involved in the I/P fight makes any kind of sense? Watch: It ain't Israel that's gonna be hurt by Bibi's intransigence on J'slem.

      The only proper US position should be utter non-involvement except perhaps for the humanitarian. Given we have no dog in the hunt, by definition getting involved in it in almost any way means we have no way of getting any benefit from it, and yet will almost certainly accumulate some costs anyway. Foolishness defined.

  • Take the 'J Street' map test
    • I'm not sure this isn't what Dickerson3870 is saying, or indeed this isn't what a couple others are saying as well, but to me this is just a blatant variant of the famous "daisy-counting" ad LBJ ran against Goldwater. I.e., "1 2 3 4 ..." counting towards a mushroom cloud being the same message as this graphic conveys that "tick tock tick tock" goes the clock towards the inconceivable horror of jews in Israel having to rub shoulders with non-jews in a one-state solution.


  • Suddenly the 'special relationship' is... embarrassing
    • Yeah I know, I flinched when typing it, but it's apt, and what's the synonym? "Construct"? More than awkward.

    • AM wrote:

      "Why do you feel now is any different? What makes it different than any other time?"

      Well any *real* difference in such things usually starts with some different intellectual paradigm coming to the fore. And insofar as this situation is concerned I think one can see that change whereby finally, officially, a U.S. President is saying that what happens in the I/P situation is of enormous consequence to the interests of the U.S. And in this case it was done as bluntly as was merited via Biden's saying to Bibi that Israeli goofing around with the Pal's was "dangerous" to the U.S.

      While of course everyone recognized this before—including the neo-cons, which is why they so strove to deny it—it's different now I think. Unless they want to call Obama and Biden and Petraeus and the U.S. military anti-semitic, to every argument that the U.S. ought to support Israel doing X, Y or Z the question can be openly put, with all the authority of Obama and Biden and etc., "So what, what about *our* interests?" (Without being called an anti-semite.)

      Can be very powerful. Might turn out to be. Maybe not be a full paradigm shift, certainly not to be realized immediately, but instead of just being a marginal kind of thing has a revolutionary potential and is a step towards same.

  • Marty Peretz, Arabist
    • Yeah but has *Hamas* actually come out and renounced the U.S. as a broker? I don't recall seeing this.

      Absolutely agree with your point though that *especially* right now when the EU has been getting more and more involved and so has Russia that an effective leader could indeed make some difference. (Maybe not "all", but some.) At least so far as I can see the EU is saying unequivocally and absolutely that the start of any talks begins with restoring the status quo ante before the '67 war, period.

      Seems to me interesting to note that it is when that is deviated from and these "peace" talks are being bantered around the Israeli public just gets ever *more* aggressive: It's like ... well sure, when there's no fixed starting point or standard from which to start and that forms a fixed parameter, why shouldn't anything go? Why shouldn't they support annexing East Jerusalem?

      But when there's *no* talks in the air, reality again intrudes and you see a swing in the Israeli body politic to reality just from exhaustion, and a very much more critical eye it fixes on its settlers because they know damn well that the fundamental cause of things is precisely those folks moving out onto that land grabbed in '67.

      It'd be worth its weight in gold for the Pal's to just absolutely refuse to negotiate until Israel agrees to accept that the starting point for same be the status quo existing prior to '67. After all that's what the international community has agreed is right, so why the hell give up that huge card and indeed let it be forgotten by the world as time goes by via agreeing to anything lesser as a starting point?

    • While one can disagree (and more) with Peretz's point insofar as it simply (and as at least partially intended) claims that might makes right, I think that there's some merit to the idea that smart makes right too and the Palestinians have been dumb/corrupt and have only themselves to blame to a degree.

      Look again at the corrupt contradiction of the U.S.'s position: Somehow while condemning all the settlements and occupation as illegal, the PA hasn't insisted that the U.S. live up to its own position as regards same via agreeing that all settlement expansion stop before talks begin. And look at this most recent kerfuffle: Has anyone heard a word from the PA condemning Biden/the U.S. for objecting merely to the *timing* of Israel's announcement of this new expansion?

      In short, isn't there a limit to the degree one sympathizes with the Pal's when they refuse to avail themselves of their obviously legitimate complaints? For decades now the U.S. has been running around essentially being *accepted* as a fair broker, even though by the words of damn near every administration it has noted that it's really not. And the rest of the world essentially knows this. So how come the Palestinians haven't used this like a cudgel? Instead they keep showing up, at Wye, at Camp David, standing next to Mitchell or whomever we send, smiling, and the rest of the world, no matter how sympathetic to the Pal's it might be, is left saying (with unimpeachable logic and validity) "Well hell, how can one stand up and insist on either true fairness on the part of the U.S. or another mediator when the Palestinians themselves accept the U.S. as it is?"

      After all this time, and after all that time has meant in terms of an utterly routine and even remorseless routing of the the Palestinian position, and an utterly routine series of the U.S. failing to be fair and instead being the Israeli's lawyer in all the various talks that have gone on, there's something deeply deeply rotten in the PA and indeed in the Palestinian citizenry itself to have kept going along with this.

      You can sympathize only so much for someone who is on a leaking ship but refuses to pick up a bucket.

  • It's time to rock, Joe Biden says-- and breaks out the golden oldies
    • Bruce wrote:

      "I'm afraid only a gun to their heads would get hem to pull the trigger on their Authority."

      In which case, as I said, they're doomed and it's hopeless.

    • Alright, what's happened happened. Just a replay of a replay of a replay. The last was Obama saying the Pal's were right to not negotiate while there was any settlement building going on. And then he turned tail. Now the Israelis spit in the face of these new indirect talks and indeed Biden's to, and again, the U.S. turns tail. And almost no doubt they'll bring the Pal's back around to the table even despite this, and the news of the 50,000 units planned, and indeed it seems that if Israel announced plans to turn every Palestinian into a small bag of fertilizer the U.S. and Mr. Biden would be encouraging them to talk anyway, and apparently the PA would agree.

      So, aside from being mad/insulted/astonished and etc., isn't it valid to ask just why anyone pay the least attention to this anymore? I used to ask why anyone should care since the PA is so obviously useless, but then someone said aha, because there's real people being hurt still behind the PA. So okay, continue to care, but why continue to hope or pay any more attention to this? Care like you care for anyone else, but we don't pay intimate attention to, say, the suffering int he Congo. Because we know it's hopeless. Same here it more and more strikes me.

      Why in the world would the PA put even a quark of trust in the U.S. seeing what the U.S. does? Seeing Biden playing the lickspittle non pareil just now? No one in their right mind can doubt that no matter *what* Israel does in these negotiations A) it has no intention whatsoever of making any reasonable offer, and B) the US would not condemn it if the only offer it made was to make up those fertilizer bags.

      So why the hell pay any attention anymore? The PA had damn near been *invited* to just sit back, declare a state based on '67 borders and get lots of the world's backing. So do it, damnit. Do something. But no, it sits there, playing this game, very possibly with Abbas and friends having their Swiss accounts nicely padded for doing so by either the Mossad or the CIA or whomever. But, regardless, it's past time to be ritually condemning Israel for this kind of crap (if for no other reason than that it can hardly be covered with any more crap than it's already covered with), which really just glosses over the criticism and pressure that people should be putting *ON THE PA.*

      People here talk about how Israel or the jews like to play the victim; tell me that isn't damn near 99.99% of the PA's entire existence right now.

      Put it this way, which do you think would most advance things over there right now:

      A.) Yet another piece in a major Israeli paper or yet another even well attended protest in Israel or in the U.S. protesting these settlement plans and saying for 1 millionth time that Israel is becoming a pariah state and accusing it of not negotiating in good faith and blah blah blah, or

      B.) A piece widely circulated in the West Bank and Gaza saying that if the PA could be seen to have been already flirting with collaboration with Israel if it now just once again goes along with this it will be crossing the line into being treasonous to the interests of the Palestinians. It should therefore tell the U.S. that the absolute only way it will enter into even indirect talks now is for Israel to immediately cease work on all settlements, everywhere, period, and if the U.S. can't get the Israelis to do so the Pal's would publicly observe the U.S.'s inability to deliver anything to any peace talks and that the PA would thus seek other avenues to air its grievances such as declaring its statehood, period.

      I.e., who's more deserving of criticism right now? Israel, for behaving like Israel? Or the PA, for behaving like Quislings?

  • Columbia Journalism School junket to Israel tunes out big story
    • Phil Weiss wrote:

      "I know this is not a political class per se, but is Yad Vashem religious? If you look at the front page of 'Covering Religion,' they’re covering Christian Zionists (the usual dodge for the Israel lobby) and the I/P 'conflict.'"

      What's interesting when you think about it is how amazingly, indeed resolutely, there is almost no U.S. media coverage of the jewish settlers/Fundie religio's.

      That is, you'd have to have lived at the bottom of the sea for the last ten years or so not to have heard a good deal about the intricacies of the Christian Fundies; their rapture belief, "born-again-ism," the "end-times", their desire to see all jews cluster in Israel for God's tidy plan, and so forth and so on. And the same goes for the Moslem Fundies with their 72 virgins and beliefs that if a woman shows a toe she's a slut and honor killings and the intemperance with any non-Muslim living on muslim holy land and etc. and so forth too.

      But how much reportage has one really heard about the Haredim/Settler Fundies? How many times, even if they ever mention, say, the Palestinian belief that the Israeli's want to steal all their land, have major U.S. media outlets explained that, indeed, the jewish Fundies do believe they own it as per the Bible? Or the theological belief in jewish superiority, as illustrated by that statement that non-jews are not worth one jewish fingernail by that one Fundie rabbi or other similar Fundie statements made all the time? Or the Fundie statements that mercy in warfare isn't a jewish value?

      Seems like the extremist embarrassments of every religion gets delicious, close and repeated treatment, except for one.

      And it's hardly as if it isn't important: After all while Christian Fundies have certainly played a part in recent U.S. policy, I don't think anyone would say they absolutely directed it even under Bush. And while the reportage always notes how Saudi Arabia is the epicenter of Muslim Fundies, it also notes that it is exactly because the regime there is *not* totally Fundie that explains why that regime isn't totally solid. Same as with most of not all other arab states too when you think of it, especially Egypt for instance.

      In Israel however, if anything that's where Fundie religio's *have* become so incredibly consequential to the world, as is frequently noted even in places like Haaretz. And yet, as regards different countries' Fundies and their relative importance, the depth of coverage of the Western media can seem to be precise reverse of that importance.

      Relevant too for instance, in showing how Ethan Bronner, by his own words, doesn't just have a conflict of interest but indeed has just simply been fudging in his work. What did he say just the other day about the settler/Fundies?: "History is made by people who don't stop and these people don't stop," right?

      I.e., these people are not going to stop and that is going to be the history.

      And yet ... how often has he ever reported that these folks are clearly not going to stop via any deal with the Palestinians and they are so strong in Israel that they are going to make their history? That, after all, is his now-openly stated belief.

      The answer is never. Never report his now-admitted knowledge that any Israeli' gov't talk about giving back any significant land is a sham. Instead, he just smiles and put out his careful little dispatches about how Netanyahu or whomever once again is calling for peace talks, or telling blandly about whatever else of a little sham of a thing is going on.

      He's covering, and he's now admitted it. All for the sake of *his* ethnics' Fundies.

  • J Street says Obama is serious (but Israeli Foreign Ministry shrugs)
    • An unidentified senior American official informed Ha’aretz:

      "We told the parties that ... if we think one of the parties is not meeting its obligations we will say so."

      Yup, and Obama told the parties Israel had to stop all settlement expansion before he'd say that the Palestinians had to return to the negotiating table.

      The U.S. is to the Palestinians as Lucy the placeholder was to Charlie Brown the field-goal kicker.

  • More on Jews, Poles and peasants
    • RoHa wrote:

      "... any irritation that the Poles might have felt at having their language and their society spurned by people living among them is just another manifestation of innnate Polish anti-semitism."

      A.) Foolishly untrue: What society of any appreciable size *wouldn't* see some manifestations of irritation at having it "spurned by people living among them"? Might not be right, but it would be true of any society and any people I think so clearly wasn't jewish-specific.

      B.) But devastating if it is true: I.e., if the irritation at having jews who spurned their language and society living amongst was indeed innate (anti-semitic) racism of "the Poles,'" what's that say about the positive horror "the jews" feel about *anyone* other than jews living amongst them in Israel? (Speaking so generally about "the jews" only as Ro did about "the Poles.")

      Wouldn't just be race hatred against *one* other race, but indeed the very definition of a belief in one's racial supremacy over *everyone* else.

      Kinda like ... the same sort of belief that German guy with the funny mustache had about Aryans some time ago.

    • Where the hell you coming from, yonira, saying this was so "Anti-Judai[c]"? Due to the article's talk about the voluntary insularity of the jewish community in Poland? Do you really dispute it? In the face of damn near no-one denying it? Menachem Begin *bragging* that his Polish father absolutely refused to speak Polish?

      And indeed why is it such a slander anyway? Every group has the right to be insular if it wants. Indeed the descriptions that are given of this insularity in Poland sounded amazingly like the insularity that those jewish folks desired in Iowa in that recent book "Postville." Nothing wrong with insularity all by itself: Look at the Amish here in America.

      Nor do I see Paul trying to "excuse" any actions, instead merely trying to note the fullness of the Polish-jewish history which apparently insults some anti-commonsensical fantasy you apparently wish to cherish so of ... "Poles bad, jews good."

      Haven't you ever heard of the unbelievable over-representation of Polish jews amongst the Bolsheviks when Stalin handed Poland over to the latter? And then their over-representation once-again in the Bolshevik security services that tormented Poland for so long? The accounts of non-jewish Poles being tortured at the hands of Bolshevik jewish Poles who needed interpreters because they couldn't ask their questions in Polish even and only spoke Yiddish or Hebrew? Just as this article details the deep and widespread inability to speak Polish in the Polish-jewish community? Or to even recognize the Polish flag? And what about the article's mention of the predominantly jewish communist partisans during the war, terrorizing the local non-jewish communities?

      C'mon dude, no story is absolutely one-sided. Or was the author of "Postville" a self-hating jew too? And all those jewish sources quoted by Paul in his piece?

      Like I say, how come you seem to so cherish the utterly one-sided account? Damn near like some religious thing. And then, of course, that's not even to mention the smell of anti-slavic racism about it. Speak so generally, negatively about "jews" or even "Israelis" and wham, you're an anti-semite. But apparently talking of something ugly running in Polish "mother's milk" is just hunky-dory, huh?

  • Keller and Karsh--the 'Times' kennels the dogs of war
    • "Mr. Karsh is not a thinking man’s Zionist. Or at least he doesn’t think you’re capable of thinking, so he’s very lazy about making the case for death-dealing. He starts off with a petty racist dig at the Muslims of the world...."

      He's just doing Martin Kramer one better: They're *all* "superfluous" human beings.

      Sure glad I pay my taxes; given that so many go to Israel at least *I'll* never been seen as superfluous I don't think . Whew....

  • Slater: 'Times' self-censorship on Israeli 'catastrophe' recalls mum on Holocaust
    • Seems to me that on occasion the Times' ME coverage is even worse and might be compared to its reporting (or non-reporting) of the famine in the Ukraine under Stalin.

      I don't know for sure but I don't think that with the Holocaust the Times went so far as to denigrate or misrepresent those who were saying it was happening. Not so for Walter Duranty's coverage of the Ukraine. (And indeed for his coverage essentially trying to validate Stalin's show trials, and otherwise whitewashing just about the entire constellation of the Bolshevik's crimes while he was in Moscow, which was quite a constellation.)

      It's one thing to ignore something, quite another to actively contribute to hiding it, lying about it and etc. And even in terms of the pure ugly numbers, the numbers who were murdered or wrecked in the Ukrainian famine and, essentially, the Gulag too that Duranty "missed" has got to be several multiples of the number of jews who died in the Holocaust, as hard as that is to believe.

      Duranty's criminality—any other word simply seems insufficient—is in fact so clearly established now that you have to wonder how the Times didn't learn its lesson then about letting politics color its work. Or Mr. Bronner.

  • Human Rights Groups Say Israel and Hamas Fail in Investigations
    • Chaos4700 wrote:

      " Israel doesn’t actually have a constitution, and so therefore there isn’t any last word when it comes to an actual basis for justice and civil rights in Israel. "

      You can take your argument too far, Chaos. England doesn't have a written constitution either, and indeed one can even say that the standard kind of constitutions seen in the world—such as the one we have in the U.S.—are anti-democratic in that even if more than 50% of the current citizenry disagrees with same, it doesn't matter. (Much more being needed to change the document.)

      Moreover, we've seen in this country that if it were only up to the Constitution and the Supreme Court there'd still be lots bigger holes in the "justice and civil rights" front than there are now, thanks to the various acts of Congress and state legislatures and etc.

      Plus of course everyone knows how unfortunately common it has been for countries to essentially ignore their constitutions in various ways when it really suits them.

      In the end then, the "actual basis for justice and civil rights" in the U.S. as you state it might not really be the constitution so much as it is the choices its voters make, as scary as that may be.

      (Although of course on another level—where its main wisdom really lies in fact—given that it is the constitution that gives people the right to vote in the first place in *this* respect one can more accurately say that the document is that "actual basis" you speak of. But I suspect that Israelis also have the right to vote too, so....)

    • dalybean:

      Geez, once again I suspect that Ban's statement ("no determination can be made") is *still* being misconstrued by people here. (Including Phil.)

      That is, contrary to what you and the PCHR and Phil seem to believe I do not believe Ban is saying that now nobody can fault either Israel or the palestinian authorities because they have come forth with reports rebutting Goldstone, which they have.

      All that Ban is saying instead I believe is that "as of right now no-one can say that the investigations that *either* of the two have made live up to what the Goldstone-inspired U.N. Resolution called for." (That is, no one can say that the *parties* in fact have in fact and in good faith really "implemented the Resolution.")

      It's my understanding that as per Goldstone's suggestion the UN Reso called on both parties to conduct their own independent-as-possible and otherwise valid investigations into his allegations. It is my further understanding that the Resolution or some accompanying directions to the Secty' Gen'l also told Ban that when the result of the parties' investigations came in, he was to eventually make a report as to whether they were independent and valid and etc.

      Thus, my understanding is that Ban must yet prepare *his* report assessing the quality of the respective investigations that have been done by the I's and the P's.

      However, even if I am wrong on this (though I don't believe I am), his statement does *not* mean or imply that one can't gainsay the "results" of the Israeli and Pal' "investigations." Indeed, he's saying quite the contrary—that no-one can say that they did indeed conduct them in an appropriate, valid manner as called for by the UN.

      Clear enough?

  • Jews are rich elitists, 'Commentary' says
    • "'The Jews' have contempt for Palin but worship the Israelis who most resemble her."

      Of course not totally true as to every attribute, but true enough as to the most important ones. One thinks of Goldy Meier for instance.

      A very shrewd observation postherd. Very very shrewd.

  • Ban's collapse on Goldstone 'shocks and appalls' representative for Palestinian victims
    • No I think the NYT definitely fiddled with the AP story. Looks very different in the Chicago Trib story for instance, also slugged from the AP.

      Should have suspected it anyway with the NYT article (very misleadingly) headlined "UN Chief Praises Israel Probe Of Its Gaza Actions" and starting with the equally misleading if not outright false statement: "The U.N. chief says Israel is thoroughly investigating allegations it deliberately targeted civilians during last year's Gaza offensive...."

      As the Haaretz story makes clear, and as a close read of what facts even the NYT reports, all that's happened is that Moon has said that both parties have *responded* to all the points in Goldstone's Report as per the UN's Resolution that they investigate what their side did. He specifically however said that it can't yet be said whether in doing so they have fully "implemented the Resolution" in terms of whether the *manner* of their investigations lived up to what the Resolution called for.

      Again, the PCHR and Phil misread what Ban said as announcing that contrary to the Resolution *he* wasn't going to report back to the Gen'l Assembly on whether the efforts of Israel and the Pal's lived up to the Resoluton's terms. Just not so; all he's said is that right now *nobody* can say whether or not that's so either way. Not a hint that he would simply tell the Gen'l Assmbly to go to hell, which of course wouldn't seem very bloody likely in any event.

      Totally misunderstood here. And now we have a fight going on lower down with people not understanding what it means to call someone a "philistine"....


    • Hilarious: After establishing that you can't trust the NYTimes here's Phil ... trusting the NY Times.

      But here's Haaretz:

      "Ban acknowledged Israel and the Palestinian Authority were looking into the behavior of Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants as demanded by a resolution the 192-nation assembly approved in November. But Ban withheld judgment on whether the probes were 'independent, credible and in conformity with international standards. No determination can be made on the implementation of the resolution by the parties concerned,' Ban said in the letter that accompanied the documents given to him by the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority about their investigations."

      link to

      I know that the PCHR had that line about "No determination can be made...," but Phil at least interprets this wrongly. What Ban meant was that nobody can *yet* make a determination if the *parties* (Israel and the PA) have done the kind of internal investigations called for in the Resolution. *Not* that *he*—Ban—is refusing to do so.

      I.e., just that as of yet he isn't able to report on his perception of the validity of the parties respective internal investigations.

  • Dershowitz's latest celebrity client
    • What's funny is that in bringing up the Protocols *himself* in declaring Goldstone a "traitor" for saying something he could only envision Gentiles saying, Dershowitz not only renews the memory of the former but then proclaims his belief in an even more ridiculous idea that there is conspiracy or pact or at least obligation to remain silent at certain times that binds *all* jews and not just some "Elders."

      Way to advocate, Alan....

  • A window into the rightwing American mind re Israel/Palestine
    • Well of course if you're happy with where the present framing of the debate has taken you....

    • You know, the more I think about the whole Israeli/Palestinian issue—or, rather, coming back to think about it after taking a step back from it and viewing it from a wider perspective—the more I think that *if* there is going to be some progress made it's going to have to be re-perceived not as a "Israel/Palestinian" issue at all, but instead a "Settler/Palestinian" issue.

      Not just as a way of cutting through the precise issue here—"how Americans view Israel generally," which as per the above is generally favorable—and not just as a way of cutting the connection of American and Diaspora jews' instinctive support for Israel either, but indeed as a way to get to the real nub of the problem.

      I know of course that it can be observed that it has indeed *been* Israel itself clearly and "as a whole"/as a state that has been behind so much that exercises people. And there's a natural instinct to just not make any further distinction beyond that; our modern conditioning is to think of nation/states as the natural ... "unit of measure" so to speak.

      But isn't the (sad) historical fact that often the worst behaving nation states got that way because some relatively small (and certainly not majoritarian) group in those states managed to get ahold of their political processes and dragged their less activist fellow citizens and their nations into horrors? Think Germany, and the Nazis. Think Imperial Japan, and its militarists.

      I'm aware of course that Hitler came to power about as democratically as possible, but that's the point: Despite this the striking resemblance of Germany's experience thereunder with that of Imperial Japan in that democracies too have a feature or flaw or whatever you want to call it that occasionally allows a minority with enough zeal and energy and ruthlessness to still grab hold of their nation and lead it into craziness.

      Obviously they do so—grabbing the reins of the old instead, say, of calling for the dissolution of same and proclaiming a new one—for legitimacy's sake. But doesn't *talking* about their actions thereafter as those of their "nation/state" as if, truly, they represented all their inhabitants just play into their hands, and grant them that legitimacy?

      And what's the consequence of same? First of all every time one attacks what is being done by that "state" or "nation" every citizen therein will tend to feel far more defensive than if just this or that claque within their country is being criticized. And every ethnic or tribal or religious group identifying with that nation feels defensive. And indeed as regards calls to act against that "state" or "nation" they are going to be somewhat naturally viewed by every other state or nation with a certain hesitation, if not a very very large one: "Gee, we don't want to advocate doing anything that might be rash against *that* state or nation, because the world could then act against us too that way."

      I realize that for some purposes—indeed for many—it is still impossible not to talk or act in any way other than vis a vis identifying a "nation/state" actor. For instance, when considering a BDS movement. (Although, interestingly enough, I have seen some attempts to just boycott goods coming from the occupied territories alone, and I have to say I like that alot and is an example of the kind of discriminating thinking that I'm talking about.)

      But, indeed, in lots and lots of ways still—and in fact in the *most* important ways which is just the day-to-day talk about the issues at hand and choosing which vernacular is to be used—it seems to me not just possible but in fact far more discriminating to not talk about "Israel" doing this or being responsible for that and etc. and so forth. Instead, it seems to me, it's both smarter and more accurate to talk about the damned Israeli *Settlers* who are the ones more precisely behind this or that having been done.

      Seems to me that if this distinction were used often enough so that it became *the* common formulation, things might get appreciably better on any number of fronts. Let everyone who identifies with Israel or with jews or judaism understand that no, *they* are not being attacked. And strip the defenders of what is being done of the ability to claim that they are just defending "Israel" or "the jews," and are instead really just defending "the Settlers." And to the extent they try to pull that cover of legitimacy over same by saying "Israel as a whole did it via its democratically elected President Netanhayu," *especially* people in democratic countries who know about elites and others grabbing hold of their country understands the riposte that "everyone knows that Netanyahu is the Settlers' creature" or etc.

      In short what I'm wondering is whether just a simple change in language might not have some beneficial effect in the debate. But not because it's only a simple change in language or rhetoric or polemics or etc., but because it shifts the terms of the argument closer to the truth of the situation which is what resonates with people trying to make sense of contested claims.

  • On the Lack of Interest in the Goldstone Report
    • Just as a parenthetical while I agree Lang's blog isn't total shit my opinion is that Lang himself is a pedestrian thinker who rides on the misleading shine that comes from his overly-impressive sounding past jobs, and that he gets off on the military hero-worshipers who of course are all impressed with him but pollute his site somewhat.

      The DIA is of course just another bureaucracy, mostly concerned with tactical stuff and not grand strategic thinking, not exactly impressive for its competence even at the former (witness Iraq and Afghanistan), and Lang was never in the top echelon there anyway. (Conspicuously never making one-star General even.)

      Moreover, it's hilarious that when we see a guy with allegedly impressive credentials who we agree with, boy those credentials seem so impressive. When we see a guy we don't agree with who has even more impressive credentials however—think Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey or etc.—we rightly note that there's lots of people get impressive sounding jobs for lots of various reasons and you can't trust such things for shit, and that the only thing you can rely on is the weight of what they say and not their past job titles or even medals.

      Same with Lang: Never seen anything from him that struck me as really penetrating or surprising, or even particularly insightful. Not dumb, but never transcending what you'd expect from a mid-level bureaucrat either, and indeed less than what you can find from many.

      Plus, what got me especially with Lang and indeed the reason the mention of him got my keyboard moving here is that while one can like the take he has on his blog about U.S.— Israeli relations, it was funny watching him on the PBS Newshour: Every time I watched it at least, gee, he suddenly seemed be struck mute as regards those particular opinions. Maybe I missed it otherwise, but despite lots of opportunities I never once saw him give voice there to anything near what he blogs on the issue. After awhile my opinion became that the alleged lion-hearted was trimming his sails out of an unwillingness to become the kind of target Walt and Mearsheimer have become. Not saying it was cowardly, but pissed me off to see one more guy who, when it came to Israel, couldn't muster the vinegar to say what he really felt. Esp. a former milit. guy supposedly unconcerned with what "polite" society thinks.

      One particular thing he wrote when he was clearly trying to show some intellectual chops also really struck me: Saw an article in some foreign policy mag. where, if memory serves, his idea of grand strategic thinking was to say that what the ME moslem states really needed wasn't some understanding from the West, or some acknowledgement that they have a different culture and have a right to same or etc., but instead a sort of ... Congress of Vienna amongst *themselves* especially.

      Struck me at least as desperately, (and ridiculously failingly), reaching for intellectual credentials by draping some incoherent idea with the cloak of some famous historical example—which example is then shown to be only shallowly understood anyway. As if ... unlike the European states that gathered under Metternich, et. al., the *main* problem facing the ME moslem states isn't the conflict with the West and Israel, but instead withsome conflicts between *themselves.*

      I.e, kind of ... conventionally and totally blaming the arabs as I read it. And, once again outside his blog, what a different sound the Colonel makes when it comes to Israel, to me at least.

    • Well thank you potsherd, and Citizen too.

    • Potsherd:

      I know it might take us afield from the immediate topic but as I know Zinn only by vague reputation could you perhaps tell me what he thought nationalism had wrongly displaced, or what he would replace it with? I'd be interested.

    • Strikes me as a deft historical analogy, but still overly gracious in missing something on *both* ends.

      To take the Soviet Union end, after a very little while in fact there could be no lack of real knowledge; despite Walter Duranty what was being done to the Ukraine was known, and even smuggled writings from the Gulag were popping out and etc., so things were getting known.

      It's over-generous then to call them "unknown" murders or even "ignored" murders. As Auden far more precisely described the mindset I think, they became the "necessary" murders.

      Leave it to the poets....

  • Israeli media consultant in Maariv: 'The Haiti Disaster is Good for the Jews'
    • VR wrote:

      "SN, you have to do two things to come up with a scenario like you propose. First, you have to attribute pure motives to...."

      While I've clearly stated my view on this issue this is interesting to me now aside from its merits. That is, to me what VR is doing is saying that there ought to somewhat of a *presumption* of impure motives, and that the burden of persuasion for the substantive thesis here ought to lie on those who say that ulterior motives were not the main impetus for Israel's Haiti effort.

      While kinda brilliant on VR's part it seems to me seriously wrong-headed to *presumptively* condemn someone . And I've still noticed what seems a studious avoidance to those questions I put earlier so I'll ask 'em again to see if I can force anyone to belly up to the bar:

      (A) Just using the same standard of proof required, say, to hold you responsible for a car accident, how many here would really say that they think the *preponderance* of the credible evidence available shows that Israel responded as it did not primarily to render aid but instead for the PR purposes? (And remember, "evidence" does not mean the assessing how many others merely believe something too, unless perhaps they have some specialized basis for their opinion like Donchin.)

      Seems to me nobody would wanna be found "at fault" based on what exists.

      (B) Who really really believes that *but for* the PR benefit Israel would not have responded as it did? That is, it was the *necessary* condition for that aid to have been given, without which it would not have been given.

      As I said before seems to me those who are *unwilling* to say this with something like this oughta admit that they think too much can too easily be made of the opposite suggestion.

      But, regardless of what I might make of the answers, how many are there out there who'd really say "yes" to either?

    • Shmuel:

      I'll grant you that Prof. Donchin's comments constitute the biggest evidence for the thesis. It is still indirect (circumstantial) evidence however, and seems to me to be thin gruel at that: Just because he knows how a government—and the Israeli gov't at that—would *ideally* give aid in response to a crisis doesn't mean that when it doesn't respond ideally it's proof of a having a primary intent other than to merely give aid. Lots and lots of other things could account for same: The perceived need for speed, the mere reasoning "hell, let's give what we got ready now and we'll send the rest later," the idea that "others (such as the U.S.) are better situated to provide that other stuff (which may indeed have been checked on) so we'll just concentrate on sending our other stuff," and on and on.

      I'll also wholeheartedly agree that some of the *media* focus on the Israeli effort smells, but that says nothing about the intent behind the effort of course, and what media stuff *doesn't* seem smarmy at best and agenda-driven at worst?

      A couple of interesting tests:

      A.) Not even using the criminal "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard, how many would say that the *preponderance* of the evidence shows that Israel responded as it did not primarily to render aid but for the PR purpose?

      Seems to me that those who say "yes" are overly susceptible to believing things proven when they are not.

      Yet another one: Who really really believes that *but for* the PR benefit Israel would not have responded as it did?

      Seems to me those who are *unwilling* to say this oughta admit then that too much is being made suggesting the opposite.

    • Once again, yet another article essentially implying that Israel reacted as it did in Haiti due to PR purposes without a molecule of direct evidence (and this time with no circumstantial evidence either) that even one of the many Israelis who must have been involved in the making of the decision to go to Haiti had that intent. And this of course doesn't even take into account the doubtlessly selfless intentions of all the Israelis who are part of Israel's Haitian effort, nor of the Israeli taxpayers who are funding it.

      Even if to some limited degree a not-entirely unreasonable suspicion worthy of passing mention, unbalanced in the extreme. Unbalanced by their paucity of evidence, unbalanced by their reliance on this or that Israeli naturally noticing the good reaction its efforts elicit in the world just as anyone would, unbalanced by *criticizing* people for recognizing that doing good is good, and, finally, unbalanced by the total lack of mention of the details of that good in Haiti, it's costs to the Israelis, the human toil and toll taken on the Israelis taking direct part in it in Haiti, and etc. and so forth.

      Appeals to the pompous and intellectually immodest instinct in all of us—and which we all probably succumb to on occasion—to see ourselves as some moral exemplars via perceiving everything as either totally black, or totally white.

      I respectfully but heartily dissent.

  • yes and how did that one work out?
    • Avi: Well, one would expect that with such visceral issues of terrorism and militancy that there might not be much distinction, but one would think that if anything would reveal same, the "legitimacy" issue might just reveal it, no?

      Will be very interesting—so long as the issue doesn't return to terrorism and militancy—to see the answer to this old question of just how much difference of opinion does exist in Israel.

    • I think this article illustrates the fact that the tremendous abatement of terrorism directed at Israel is the single worst thing to happen to the Israeli Right, and may indeed be a catastrophe for it—and Israel given where the Right has taken it.

      For forty years the Right, in one way or another, has used Palestinian terrorism or militantism as a cover for not confronting the issue of the occupied territories. "No partner for peace" and etc. (If not provoking some terrorism on occasion when that confrontation seemed too imminent.)

      Well, as this article tells, now that the terrorism has abated (to a good degree admittedly not due to the coming of sweet reason to the Palestinians but to things like the Wall and etc.), that confrontation is staring it in the face. And as that man in the article notes—no big Lefty, a former elite military man—even he is feeling Israel's fundamental legitimacy shaking under his feet.

      Once again then as I did in another post to an earlier comment but this time with it being even more relevant, I'll link to a very interesting piece written by Ira Chernus talking about how the Israeli Right is indeed acknowledging this, calling the legitimacy issue "the new battlefield," to be fought with, among other things, the interesting idea of "lawfare."

      link to

      Because the article seems a bit more polemical against Israel than analytical, it seems to me to overlook that this strategy is a far far tougher one for the Israeli Right to sell—including to other Israelis—than the previous one of using "terrorism" as a cover for land-grabbing. As that Israeli in the Economist article clearly contemplates, is he really going to risk the legitimacy of the entire project of Israel so as to hang onto those settlements? And will the world really buy the idea that to be against Israel occupying those territories means that you are against Israel entirely, and are a per se anti-semite?

      Time may come when the Israeli Right starts to somewhat mourn the passing of the Palestinian terrorist of old; in a way they were the best of friends.

  • Jewish student mag publishes one-state argument, signaling generational battle ahead
    • James Bradley wrote:

      "As long as Israel refuses to believe that the occupation is the fuel of the conflict the longer they will have 'security issues.'"

      Yeah I thought the article was interesting and maybe real important for giving a sense of how the Right in Israel is having to shift its focus given that the "terrorism" defense is losing its luster and indeed as terrorism against it is abating. Really kind of moving towards the blatant idea that if you are against the aggrandizement of the West Bank you are per se an anti-semite. Although that's somewhat hidden by calling at least some of it "delegitimization" and suggesting that even Israel proper is in imminent danger, which I don't think it is.

      Is a tougher sell for them for sure, and will even be harder for them to rally non-hard-Right Israeli partisans around them as closely as before.

      A bit amusing too: After all the entire cry in the past has been that but for "terrorism" of course Israel wouldn't have a problem striking a deal. Now ....

    • Hi folks:

      Somewhat related as it deals with "deligitamization" but also just otherwise interesting too for its talk about the Israeli gov't perception of lots of this kind of stuff, see:

      link to

      Very interesting (and possibly valid?) distinction Israel draws between "Softies" and "Hardies." Hate to say I'm a Softie as that supposedly just makes one a tool of the Hardies, but....

      In any event the article seemed worth noting here.

  • Port-au-Hasbara
    • Oscar wrote:

      "Haitians deserve our compassion, Gazans don’t?"

      However much one shares your frustration with the MSM, Oscar, if you let that kind of thing trump your logic you're lost, and you know in your bones that your "Haitians/Gazans" dichotomy is a false choice that doesn't have to be made here, right?

      Sammy wrote:

      "Its not whether they are doing good or bad, its about intent."

      Hey, thanks for that Ebert thing but I still stand by my original thinking as to the issue with Haiti: It's also about evidence and intellectual modesty about what we can know for sure, and moderation, and balance. (Which we all lose at one point or another for sure.)

      For instance, even if the final Israeli decision-maker *purely* had PR as his or her intent (itself dubious), what about those brave and hard-working Israelis who are over there in Haiti sweating their asses off, risking disease and whatever, away from their families? And what about the Israeli taxpayers who funded this and are proud of what their money is doing?

      It's always a little suspicious seeing someone with a point of view trying to shoehorn absolutely *every* last fact or phenomenon into their theory. (E.g., that Israel is in the main going off wrong-headed, or led by zealots, or etc.) In the first place isn't needed for their theory to have validity, and in the second even weakens it because everyone knows that damn near nothing is totally black nor totally white.

      Because the final Israeli decision-maker here *was* acting as a representative of his or her country, to totally condemn what they did one has to posit that every person they represented had the same cynical intent or desire you believe they had. And don't you really believe that the vast majority of Israelis did not? People are people the world over, and I don't think they did.

      Doesn't mean that a tad bit of suspicion about the motives of the decision-maker is out of bounds, but surely a huge chuck of the reaction still ought to be laudatory. And that's not what I was seeing here.

    • Cliff wrote:
      "I mean, stop thinking that States are moral institutions.... I don’t know why you are trying to give Israel a mulligan?

      I'm not, but one should either follow evidence where it leads or admit that the basis for their conclusions is nothing more than their untethered emotions. And by far the most remarkable piece of evidence out there is Israel's incredibly quick response which is strongly indicative that this was not taken out of some ulterior, carefully weighted PR calculation but instead purely and simply the realization that Israel had something to offer quickly.

      Beyond that, the not giving of even just possibly merited mulligans not only betrays one as having an ungenerous spirit, but also possibly of having a positively mean-spirited if not unhinged nature. The kind that would, if Israel had done nothing, would then result in the criticism that Israel never does anything for non-jews, and doesn't even care enough about them to make a PR effort to help them.

      Moreover if as you say no States are moral institutions, then Israel is no more worthy of criticism or condemnation here than any other country trying to help Haiti. And yet so far as I can see it is indeed Israel that has solely come in for your criticism here ( ... for doing something!).

      Forget just the idea that you hurt your own cause when arguing like this Cliff, eventually this kind of thinking corrupts your own intellect's nuance and sense of balance. You can't write as well as you do without having that; don't lose it.

    • You know, not *everything* has to be tortured into fitting one's worldview. The Israelis do bad, they get whacked. They do good, they get whacked. (Here with this at least.)

      Gee, and people wonder why Israelis/jews feel that no matter what they do they get whacked.

      Nuts, even if it all *is* just PR, it's still a good thing. Not every possible criticism always has to be made you know. (Much less ones founded completely on suspicion.)

      Not one of Phil's better moments I don't think.

  • Anticipating Israeli response, Dershowitz blames atrocities in Goldstone Report on 'rogue soldiers'
    • "Shifting to what is the big question."

      Well I think that's a good point Mr. Witty. One would hope—and what my logic at least would be if I was in the shoes of a Dershowitz or other American supporters of Israel—would be to telling Israel that time's running out to be playing for territorial games and that a peace deal is every more urgently needed.

      After all probably even in the most expansionist of Israeli minds in the past they saw a point at which the expansion just could not continue. Well, I would think it obvious even to a Dersh, the time's a comin'. They can't keep having Cast Lead's after Cast Lead's. And something has to break cycle: look at the bottomless hate being stirred in ever more arab minds as evidenced by those quotes lower down noted by Baruch. At some point if it gets too late that'll all that will be left for the arabs if you take too much.

      Hardly an unknown phenomenon the idea that some of the biggest historical blunders ever have been trying to push one's advantage too far. Think about how Germany's situation would have been in WWI if after Brest-Litovsk it has sued for peace with the Western powers. Almost certainly would have preserved itself in toto if not even gotten some gains in the West, would have been able to maintain Austro-Hungary, and been land rich beyond belief with what it had pried out of the Bolshies. Maybe something similar with Hitler too, and many many other historical situations.

      Oddly enough reaching too far often seems to cost not just those reaching fingers, but whole arms, legs and torsos even.

      I suppose it's precisely because it seems that the only losses are going to be fingers why over-reaching is so common, but regardless of why, it's true.

    • While many here—including me of course—have taken Dershowitz to task for his piece it seems to me it should also be recognized how potentially significant his step was in essentially trying to blame "rogue" soldiers.

      After all Dershowitz has to be regarded by the Israelis as an important bellweather of jewish-American thought, and yet look how hard it would be for Israel to go very far down that "rogue" path of an excuse of his. Soldiers don't like to be hung out to dry, essentially told one thing ("show no mercy ... take absolutely no chances ... use disproportionate force" and etc.), but then have themselves or their colleagues called "rogues" by their political masters, much less prosecuted. Indeed, it doesn't take much of this before whole armies become infected with such "stab in the back" ideas and become estranged from their political masters. Witness the U.S. army after Vietnam and, even worse, the German army after WWI.

      Not something Israel can easily afford to have happen given the centrality of the IDF in Israeli affairs, nor given all the other fault lines that are appearing now in Israeli society in general.

      So while we can criticize Dershowitz it also has to be admitted that in Tel Aviv there's probably no lack of grumblings that he's gone way too far: "What are we supposed to do," I wouldn't be surprised is the thinking of many, "start throwing our guys under the bus? How many? And for how long? And what are we gonna do when they and their friends start defending themselves by revealing what their orders were and what else they saw and etc....?"

      Not that it's any huge sea-change by Dershowitz, but for all his appearances of instant and total defense of Israel he's had to take a step back from that here I think, a potentially big and corrosive one. In short some evidence that Phil and Adam may be right that important things are shifting.

    • Someone above averred to the idea that Dershowitz was acting as a lawyer to a court here as if that and that alone invalidated his arguments, but in fact I don't think that Dershowitz's article here was very lawyerly, nor that he would write the same way in any true brief to a court or to a courtroom. He's a good lawyer, and the last thing that good lawyers do is make arguments to courts or juries that aren't at least arguably true because the cost can be the loss of all your credibility as to all your other arguments too.

      Thus, as others have pointed out, it isn't very lawyerly (or at least "good lawyerly") to be making that argument about Israel having nothing to gain by doing as Goldstone said: Say that to a court and the response from the other side if not the court itself on its own is going to snigger immediately: "Theoretically at least, this is just obvious baloney. What about *revenge* for allowing those rockets to be launched from Gaza territory, for instance?", and then of course you have all that Dahiya talk, and the talk from the Breaking the Silence soldiers and etc., etc.

      Just not the kind of argument a good lawyer would make to a court or to a jury as it's just not reasonably arguable at all in such an adversarial setting when you can be called on your buffooneries immediately, and at great cost.

      Secondly, and where I think Dershowitz is taking most advantage of writing to a lay audience and not to other lawyers and judges and law-informed juries, is what I can only view as a conscious misuse of the word "evidence." Thus, in what I saw as a very central passage in what Phil quoted, he said as follows:

      "But that is not the essence of what the report accuses Israel of deliberately planning—namely the deliberate targeting and killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinian women and children. On this most serious of charges, *not only is there absolutely no evidence that points to this conclusion,* what evidence there is points exactly the other way. "

      (*Me supplying the emphasis.)

      Dershowitz knows full well that the law recognizes that all evidence isn't "direct" evidence, and that circumstantial evidence is not only perfectly admissible but can, standing all on its own, validate a conviction. In fact, the prisons are full of people convicted solely via the use of circumstantial evidence, including for murder. And in fact he represented Claus von Bulow who I believe was largely convicted on circumstantial evidence.

      As I see it then the only conclusion is that he deliberately misuses the term "evidence" here so as to exclude the circumstantial sort because he knows he's talking to a lay audience who may not think of this. But of course there was a entire *raft* of circumstantial evidence here: to wit, the bodies of all those women and children who *were* killed.

      Of course that's not to say that this *proves* the charge, it might just as well go to something else at work. And indeed I myself doubt that much if any "deliberate" targeting of innocents took place and instead suspect that in the main it was more of an extreme indifference at work. (Bad enough, and still a possible war crime.) But, still, there's not a lawyer or a judge or a law-informed jury that wouldn't say that when you are charging someone with intentionally killing someone that the dead body of someone you killed is not a circumstantial fact and is not therefore circumstantial evidence. And Dershowitz knows this.

      What he also knows I have to believe is how crucial this is, which explains the reason behind his verbal sleight of hand: By their very nature many crimes—including the most serious, in which "intent" is an element—could only rarely be found if only direct evidence was allowed. Of *course* most people accused of first degree murder and who clearly did kill someone are *never* going to admit their intent to kill. But they still go to jail because juries are specifically instructed that they can rely on circumstantial evidence to prove intent. (And indeed to prove the killing too if needed.)

      Same it seems to me goes for war crimes. Of *course* people and government are rarely if ever going to admit to the intent elements that are necessary to prove such crimes. Nor are they even likely to have left other direct evidence lying around: Most spectacularly for instance, just look at the amazing paucity of direct evidence that Hitler himself ordered the Holocaust even though of course he must have. Just not something you put into memos.

      If one parses Dershowitz's clever path however, the only real "proof" for him would indeed be on the order of something like a written message signed by Netanyahu directing every single soldier who deliberately killed an innocent to do so.

      While being as cleverly disguised as possible then this is still so profoundly obvious, and so profoundly faulty, that it would not be the kind of thing that you'd see a lawyer arguing in a court. Indeed it might be said that almost the entirety of what Dershowitz is banking on in this piece is the idea that, unlike the law, the people reading it have *not* thought through what constitutes evidence and what doesn't. And it is then in essence an argument to ignorance.

  • Why Haiti is Poor (II)
    • Well thanks for the kind words MRW. As someone once said of such things, my mother would agree with you. (Even if I still hold it deeply against you for pointing out my descent into the polemical, you bastard.)

      Great words concerning the need for a new (non-polemical) language; oughta be the credo of good bloggers.

      Interesting dilemma though, the more "impassioned" a person is about a subject the less able they are to discipline their thinking and language. Reminds me of an anecdote I heard about that Brit P.M. Balfour. A very unusual man, Churchill said he was convinced that his very nature was so imperturbably dispassionate you could stick a gun in his face and he'd not blink. At any rate he was talking about some hot issue once to his cabinet and someone suggested they get recommendations via forming a commission of people "concerned" with same, at which point he knitted his brow in thought and eventually said he thought that was the exact wrong way to go about it.

      "Why" he was asked?

      "Well, isn't it just common sense that the people we'd most trust to come up with the fairest analysis of it would be those with the least interest in it?"

      Not without some sense, to me at least.

      In any event, as someone else once said an intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself, but lacking the ability I'm fine just relying you in the future.

      Thanks again.

    • MRW:

      I've read you here for a long time too and far from calling you foolish when you say I'm being unfair I take it seriously. And thus I've re-read what I wrote and feel obliged to say that you may well have a point with me wrongly lumping North in as just being another ideologue. While I've read some of his other stuff one should be more careful before making such generalizations, particularly when I took such exception to his own.

      In this spirit I'd like to even forego the obligatory "but I stand by what I wrote vis a vis what he wrote *here*" clause that so often just means one is a self-defensive jerk and doesn't really mean to be contrite because ... I am in light of your prompting and my re-reading. But I do have to say it because I do stand by my criticisms of what he wrote here at least, sans my grand characterization of him.

      Not exculpatory though, I'll admit. I guess I'm just so sick of ideologues these days, on the Right and on the Left. So many so damned sure of the cosmic validity of everything they believe in, so damned sure of the black-heartedness of everyone who disagrees with them, making sweeping proclamations Right and Left ... and here it looks like my own dispassion left me some too.

      Thanks for the reality check. And apologies to North for my own sweeping characterization of him.

    • Gee what surprise, just as in Part I yet another North piece written for the sole obsessive purpose of casting the U.S. as being the incarnation of all evil, complete with and as evidenced by the use of the entire dishonest spectrum of sly, remorselessly tendentious techniques. (Starting right from the start of course by the sweepingly suggestive title "Why Haiti Is Poor," to the pathetic use of alleged quotes or characterizations of others to suggest facts that he doesn't dare state as such, and then even by the such-wild use of allegations that he doesn't even care if they contradict each other.)

      A single example: "But Haitians, and others, still question whether the mass slaughter was necessary. The Haitian black pigs had survived for 500 years and become resistant to disease, and by the time the killing started in 1982 the local pigs had already stopped dying."

      Oh, really?

      A.) So pray tell us ... just exactly *how* could they become resistant to an *African* disease that was first detected in Haiti in 1980?

      B.) And if they were resistant, then why were they dying at all?

      And here are some relevant items from the very first Google hit after searching the term "Haiti African Swine Fever":

      A.) Not a scintilla of mention of any "resistance," and

      B.) The categorical statement that in fact more of these slyly hinted at "resistant" Haitian pigs died of ASF (500,000-600,000) than were killed in the entire eradication effort.

      link to, with this piece being written by a program associate for Haiti with the Multinational Monitor, with even this piece being highly critical of the response to the Swine Flu outbreak North talks about and so obviously and if anything biased in North's direction.

      And then of course, even ignoring all the other things North slyly hints at and etc., there's all those other things that North *doesn't* mention, like ... even the most obvious possible fact that without the eradication effort that North decries all the rest of the Haitian pigs would have died *anyway,* just like those 500,000-600,000 did, except this time without their Haitian owners getting even a cent for same much less the millions upon millions that they *did* get in the eradication effort. (At least $9.3 million of which came from the U.S.)

      Nor of course is there any North mention of the fact that when ASF first hit the Dominican Republic, Haiti, *all on its own* and without a molecule of U.S. intervention, ordered the eradication of some 100,000 of its pigs in areas near the border with its island co-habitator, with absolutely *no* compensation to be paid for same. Nor any mention of the fact that Haiti *itself* then fully supported the big international eradication effort, which was far from being a sole U.S. effort and involved many many others, including Mexico. Or of why things went so bad with Haiti but not with the eradication effort on the rest of the island. (The Dominican Republic that is.) Nor of the *tens* of millions targeted to buy or give Haitian farmers new pigs *and* to help them develop a more modern pig industry. Nor of anything concerning—as one AID official said— "the [Haitian] problems of corruption which are unsurpassed [with] equipment has disappeared and swine [being] nonexistent [and with] veterinary supplies [being] sold for human consumption."

      Of *course* not: While, as that Multinational Monitor piece shows, there can certainly be criticisms of what happened, and even harsh criticisms, that's not really North's purpose. First and always guys like North never really care about the nuances and subtleties of things, nor indeed even their fundamental workings or truths; above all and indeed always and forever their sole interest in anything is how it can be grist for somehow tarring the U.S.

      What, for instance, is the logical conclusion to be taken from what North writes? Not that he cares, but of course that the eradication effort should never have been undertaken at all, right? After all what did he write (slyly, as usual) but that "[c]ritics still argue that the United States was truly only concerned about protecting its own pig industry."

      So what indeed are his 'druthers? (Not that he cares or dares to talk about same.) That the U.S., and Canada, and Mexico, and all the other countries involved in that eradication effort—and indeed *every* other country in the entire hemisphere including many many other poor ones in Central and South America—should have stood by and let their pork industries get infected and destroyed? An industry which feeds millions upon millions every day, including the poorest of the poor because of their particular reliance on pork in many areas?

      All just my opinions obviously, but I can't see that any of this matters to North: Not worth mentioning even. Not that he *wanted* that to happen, but if it happened, well once again one can bet that his sole interest in same would have been its potential propaganda value in condemning the United States. "Ah yes," one would have then heard him screaming, "but for the greedy U.S. not spending a few million in Haiti it caused all this!!!" And if that propaganda value wasn't there with that, well then it wouldn't matter because he'd just make it up somehow, just as he did here.

  • Doubts re Iran won't deter neocon stampede
    • Somewhat depending on what you mean by "capitulate" I'd take that bet Chaos.

      I.e., if you mean that he will order a U.S. attack on Iran, I think he won't in the end. Too risk/conflict averse.

      Trickier if you mean merely "standing by" while Israel attacks Iran, esp. since I suspect that Israel believes that it can only accomplish very limited things attacking itself, and yet will still have to pay a full price for doing so.

      And then of course depends on what is meant by Obama "standing by": It's one thing to just truly stand by and do nothing, another to give Israel the Friend or Foe code to let 'em transit Iraqi airspace, another to have U.S. planes refueling their jets, another to giving 'em our latest bunker-busters and/or etc., etc.

      Even then, in the end I'd be willing to put up $10 that Obama won't even go very far in terms of helping an Israeli attack. No FOF code given—because it would be so big and obvious—no refueling.... Again, too risk/conflict averse methinks.

      So, within those parameters, we got a bet? I'd even up it to $100 to make it interesting. We'd have to set a deadline on "by when" though....

  • Why Haiti Is Poor (I)
    • zamaaz:

      Very interesting, smart comments on your part. Thank you.

      Looking back over my exchanges with Brewer I see that I didn't pay close enough attention to his comment that what he really objected to was an initial statement of mine blithely saying that U.S. chicken producers were operating oh-so-fairly. I was just automatically thinking "fairness" in terms of both U.S. and Haitian chicken producers having at least the right to have their governments subsidize them and etc. He of course was talking just purely and simply whether U.S. producers do so without gov't subsidies and etc. and in this sense he's absolutely right.

      I'll also further grant him that even factoring in that producers in both countries have the theoretical right to have their gov'ts protect them, of course having the gov't of the U.S. protecting you means a cosmic deal more than having that of Haiti protect you given the realities of the situation. What just bothers me of some arguments about this stuff is the vague implication that the U.S. is especially culpable in the world doing these kinds of things, or, worse, and as North implied, solely to blame for the plight of the Haitians without a glimmer of looking at whether the Haitians themselves bear any responsibility.

      I.e., an extreme and indeed even absolute tendentiousness, always always always finding ways to blame whatever horror is at issue on the U.S., and indeed solely and exclusively on the U.S.

      I will say though that you raised what I think is a very important point that also gives strength if not totally validates Brewer's talk about the WTO and the World Bank when you note that "trade liberalization" for some developing countries, esp. those with limited goods or services to sell, is a problem. As Brewer's point somewhat went to, it would be bad enough for a rich developed country that wasn't protectionist to go about insisting that poor little countries like Haiti couldn't protect itself just because Haiti is in essence a new country economically speaking. But then, when the rich developed countries *are* protectionist and they *still* so insist that can really stink.

      Of course even though it can seem to wholly stink there's some validity in that it's hardly "fair" that the producers and workers in the developed countries suddenly have to start competing with countries where the wages are paid in pennies. But at least *some* more consideration should be given to allowing the developing countries more protectionist policies than they are getting from the IMF for instance. Their holier-than-thou stance can be ugly.

      In any event is an interesting subject, and interesting too showing some fault lines amongst the readers of this blog otherwise hidden when talking exclusively about the Mideast. Echoes of Weiss writing for The American Conservative.... Given their agreements on the ME, both sides oughta be reminded that there may be lots more common ground between them on other issues too. Just as Brewer appears to be a Progressive and denounces American protectionism, and non-Progressive me denounces American protectionism just as bloody much, if not more. Our Ag subsidies are obscene, and do do terrible damage to other poor countries, not to mention American taxpayers and consumers.

    • Well, since you are an older Kiwi even though your heart's obviously been in the right place personally one could still observe a certain piquancy in what you're saying. I.e., from the outset New Zealand plays like no one else plays according to one set of rules until it gets rich and until circumstances change so that it can stay rich by playing at another, at which point it dumps its old rules and turns around and starts tarring and feathering everyone else who is still following the old ones as being hopelessly immoral and eternally condemned.

      Nice work if you can get it....

      Secondly, the absolute entirety of your comments are just utterly shot through with what are nothing more than *your* characterizations of things which you nevertheless state as fact. E.g., what regulations have been "trumped up," what "blind eyes" have been turned, what's "unfair" or even "illegal."

      Show me a WTO ruling saying that the U.S.'s subsidies to its chicken farmers is illegal, for instance, and that's something else. Same goes for your characterization that this chicken business in Haiti is "dumping"; that is, show me that without its subsidies it wouldn't be profitable for the U.S. chix producers to sell to Haiti.

      You can't do either.

      And indeed it goes even further and gets closer to the heart of the matter which is you taking this complicated matter and trying to make it a simple one so as to try to make your alleged moral point when you previously and telling talked about how U.S. producers taking advantage of "tax breaks" was "illegal." After all one's man's tax "break" is another man's still-onerous tax obligation. What, after all, is a "tax break" for you? Taxing at any rate less than yours? Taxing at anything less than 98% of profits? 99%?

      It *is* complex and it isn't the nice simple black and white morality play you make it out to be.

      What *is* simple however is the point I made originally and which still stands despite your erroneous characterizations otherwise which is that if Haiti found the actions of the U.S. chicken producers to be exploitative it had the absolute right and power to ban such U.S. producers, or impose tariffs, or grant subsidies to its own farmers, and yet it apparently did not a single one of those things. So that however much you want to argue that for some reason the U.S. gov't owes a duty not to help its own farmers so as to help Haitian farmers, whatever the Haitian farmer's plight is the overwhelming blame still lies not with the U.S. but with Haiti.

      And yet I see not a speck of blame from you going in that direction. Not a speck.

      Again, contrary to the implication which you state as fact nobody but nobody has a gun to Haiti's head to be a member of either the WTO or the IMF as you imply. Neither can tell Haiti jack-squat if it didn't want to listen. It could walk away from both in a heartbeat.

      But of course it doesn't because it gets shitloads of benefits from same otherwise, which benefits you of course don't mention because it interferes with your narrative about the evil U.S. (And now the evil WTO and the evil IMF too.)

      Yet another example of the same kind of logic that condemns the U.S. when it prohibits trade with other nations, and condemns it when it allows such trade. The IMF—largely American money—lends absolute boatloads of money to shitholes that absolutely nobody else would even look at. And, sensibly enough, and irrefutably showing it's a good thing for them, these places take it. (And take it, and take it, and take it.)

      And yet ... once again and as always, this *too* is evil on the part of the U.S.

      Trading, not trading, lending, not lending, giving, not giving, no matter what, it's the same old same old, always and forever, no matter what it does it's always gotta be that the U.S. is at least the principal evil worth mentioning, if not—as your narrative so characteristically suggests—the only evil.


    • Lookey here, a guy who is not only unable to argue substantively, but can't even get a drive-by guilt-by-association slur right since there is none.

    • Brewer:

      Interesting discussion. Firstly ought to acknowledge however that it was this James North character and not you who made the grand sweeping implication that it has been the U.S. that has made Haiti poor which, in its sweepingness, is what got me pissed off. Of course I don't deny that as to this or that instance the U.S. may well have done wrong by Haiti. (Although I doubt that it has done any worse such wrongs than many others.)

      Secondly, agreed, except in extenuating circumstances perhaps trade barriers, subsidies and etc. are wrong wrong wrong and bad bad bad.


      It's deceptive to look at such situations as you did by exclusively considering the idea that ... because the U.S. gov't subsidized its own farmers, it therefore screwed other farmers." And that's because the governments of those *other* farmers were totally free to enact whatever trade barriers or institute whatever subsidies for its own farmers as the U.S. did for its own.

      And indeed you went beyond merely considering same and essentially condemned the U.S. morally for it. However you want to slice it though that position comes down not only to the arguable idea that (A) every government owes the citizens of other countries the obligation to not help its own compete against them, but also that (B) somehow for some reason that alleged obligation on the part of the U.S. to Haitian chicken farmers was somehow *greater* than *Haiti's* obligation was to it's *own.*

      Lastly, and apropos your comment "[a]s a New Zealander I can attest that the U.S. does not play fair in international trade," I can only think you're a very young Kiwi. In historical terms and up until only 10-15 years ago I think (and certainly throughout its crucial formative years when it was getting rich), New Zealand was renown for its subsidies to its Ag producers, who of course in New Zealand was the equivalent of subsidizing a huge percent of *all* its workers.

      As this Harvard paper says "[a]t their peak in 1984, [New Zealand] subsidies amounted to 30 percent of total agricultural output."

      link to


      As bad as America's subsidies and unfair trade policies and acts have been—and they've never been all that remarkably bad in comparison to many if not most others—I doubt that it's ever come within any light years even of this kind of mass subsidization that New Zealand practiced with such a huge percentage of its workforce almost from the start of its modern existence. Nowhere near.

      As I say, you must be a young Kiwi, but you're right in that your country is indeed absolutely leading the way today and for the last decade if not longer in truly free and fair trade. Got rich first otherwise, but, still, was a very tough and brave thing it did otherwise and the world ought to follow its lead, including the U.S. just as much as anyone.

    • "But competition is impossible because the US exports pieces – essentially sub-products – of chicken, pork and turkey, which are then sold at very low prices."

      Brewer: Just as North's comment is bosh with all due respect this makes no sense either.

      Apropos North, Duvalier *never* had "the full support of the U.S.," with the U.S. having completely cut off aid to Papa Doc as early as 1961 because of his ghastliness.

      As regards this IMF stuff, the stunted logic is evident: If it is true that the U.S. producers can sell *pieces* of their chicken in Haiti cheaper than the Haitians can sell whole chickens—*if* that is, because given the additional handling, packaging and frozen transport costs involved with peddling U.S. chicken parts to Haiti this seems incredibly dubious—then it is *still* cheaper for Haitians to then sell *their* chicken parts cheaper in Haiti.

      As Duscany says, as night follows day whenever and wherever disaster strikes before even the last body in the rubble goes cold you're gonna find some "Progressives" who are gonna find a way to blame it all on the U.S., or at least blame it for something related. And of course nowhere are you gonna find one word of the mountain of money and support this country has *given* over the years, such as officially given Haiti over the decades, not to mention the incredible generosity over that period of *private* U.S. citizens towards Haiti with both their monetary and their on-the-ground charitable efforts.

      Would love to hear anyone tell me of even one country that has done more for Haiti over the decades. Just one. Even on a per capita basis say. Indeed, what about Cuba for instance? Much closer, and the great great alleged friend of the poverty stricken everywhere? No, no ... Castro was too bush torturing homosexuals and lavishing what he wrung out of his poor on his generals.

      And I just love the Progressive logic you see in these things too: When the U.S. imposes a *ban* on doing business with another country, then all that country's woes are said to stem from that ban. Very hilarious again especially coming from good old Castro and a whole bunch of other Leftists too as well who, when talking otherwise, say they believe in Lenin's idea which is that letting capitalists trade with you means you will be *exploited.*

      But then when the U.S. *does* trade with another country—even in the fairest and most straightforward way imaginable as it does with Haiti such merely offering these chicken parts for sale—ah, somehow the U.S. is the culprit *again*.

      Lord knows I disagree with a whole bunch of what the U.S. has done and is doing around the world. But given that of all places the U.S. may well have done more for Haitians on a per capita basis than for any other countries' citizens on *earth* (except maybe for the Israelis), to then see the U.S. denounced for what it has supposedly done evilly to Haiti, that's a hatred to me that couldn't be more revealing as being phony.

      I.e., the by-now-beyond-commonplace practice of people cheaply attempting to advertise their own self-assessed moral superiority by endless denunciations of the Great Satan which is the U.S.

      Pathetic coming from the Iranians, worse coming from others given they ought to know how tired it now sounds.

  • Elders schmelders--leading Israeli daily threatens to deploy 'world Jewish capital' against Turkey
    • "A commentator in the leading daily Yediot Aharonot said ... Israel had considerable leverage against Ankara, since 'world Jewish capital' could boycott Turkey."

      I'd be careful that this wasn't some false-flag provocateur writing in to that paper: If I'm not mistaken that exact same phraseology—"world Jewish capital"—was the one used by Hitler in talking about who had been responsible for Germany's economic horrors after WWI and the same precise phrase used by legions of anti-semites since. *Exactly* the same.

  • Another legacy of 'Operation Cast Lead': 500+ US-based academics, authors & artists endorse the academic and cultural boycott of Israel
    • Yes it is very thin, and that should worry you. Because as I think you suspect full well an awful lot of the reason it is so thin is because of fear, Mr. Witty. Fear of the kind of actions Israel and its extreme partisans take against those who publicly object to anything Israel does. And fear breeds dislike and even hatred, and while fear is very tough to sustain the sour taste of being bullied lasts a lifetime.

      So are you really really happy over this thinness, Mr. Witty? Do you really think that the kind of tactics that result in such thinness are in the interests of Israel or the jewish people? Because who you gonna call on when the worm turns—as it always does—and the fear can't be sustained anymore and when Israel is really threatened or when real anti-semites come out and start calling you a "fucking jew" and yelling at you and your family to "go back to your own country"? All the people who were cowed into silence before and whose fear-induced silence you were then celebrating?

      Or, in other words, do you really really think hatred is a wise plinth upon which to build Israel's and jewry's fortunes?

  • Ripped from the headlines
    • Was an article not long ago in Haaretz alleging some inside info about how Netanyahu is just spoiling for a fight with Obama. Not gonna get one though I don't think: Apparently there is no limit to the amount of shit our man can be made to publicly eat while still smiling.

      To call him the man an empty suit is to insult a good suit: I've seen jellyfish with more spine than our 'Bama possesses.

  • I'm off to Egypt
    • It's the last piece falling into place.

      First the Israeli Right persuades the rest of the country that no, it's not all about expansionism and land grabbing and that of course Israel would negotiate the return of the occupied territories "if only" X or Y or Z would happen.... (E.g., the P's recognized Israel, and then if only terrorism would stop, and then if only they had a "partner for peace," and then if only the P's would recognize Israel as the "jewish" state," and then on and on, ad infinitum.)

      In essence, the persuasion problem convincing *themselves* that no, they don't *really* want to be stealing land, but that there's some invisible, inarticulable reason why they couldn't just get the hell out instead....

      So the settlements spring up like mushrooms after a Fall rain, and are expanded all the time, and enough time is gained so that as it's become ever more apparent that the Israelis can never truly their settlement, and that as a result there can never be a peace agreement based on same, to the most moderate or even most liberal Israeli even there's only one solution: They simply can't break ranks and blame the settlers fully, that would mean civil war.

      And so in some way shape or form the Palestinians simply have to go away. Of course there's nothing any longer that they can agree that Israel would tolerate, hence their positions mean nothing any longer. It's their very *existence* now that is the obstacle to peace, and so it is that very continued existence that stirs ever increasing anger. If only they'd just go the hell away everything would be fine, but no, they just sit there, existing, and not accepting their fate of just disappearing, and after awhile if they are going to be so damned intransigent, well then the use of whatever force is more and more approved of.

      The end game is in sight, forcible expulsion, with no real moral constraint coming anymore from any Israeli blanching at same, but instead if at all at merely what reaction such an expulsion might provoke against Israel from others.

      All it needs is more time then; as the U.S. makes ever more clear that even with an Obama there is virtually nothing Israel can do that diminishes the support the U.S. gives to it, any worries about the international reaction to a forcible expulsion become ever diminishing too, just as did the internal Israeli qualms at using ever more force.

      Only a matter of time: All the mechanics and even most importantly all the moral qualms have been put into place.

  • Obama aide calls Israel her 'homeland' and a 'healthy democracy'
  • Progressive radio show in NY serves up neocon moonshine about Islam
    • I think Phil missed the even more ... amusing comment by that U.S. State Department official, Hannah Rosenthal, head of the U.S. administration's Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, who lived in Israel for some time it appears:

      "We need to have as many people coming together to try and put an end to this crisis [with the Palestinians,] the matzav [situation] can not continue .... I don't want my kids or my grandchildren to have to ever come visit their homeland and to live in a bomb shelter...."

      "Homeland." The head of "monitoring and combatting anti-semitism" in the U.S. From a woman who doesn't even consider it to *be* her homeland. From one of those famously moderate *J-Street* enthusiasts.

      Nice job if you can get it: Make statements like this, fire up the "ZOG" believers, and then go and point out all their anti-semitism that needs "monitoring" and "combatting" because they have some no-doubt-soon-to-be-illegal ideas about who should be running *their* "homeland."

      What next, deputizing the Mossad to help her monitor us?


  • I challenged Haaretz writers on the organ-harvesting story last summer
    • radii wrote:

      "as I pointed out in the original post comments if even on [sic] Palestinian used as a human shield by israel was killed and had tissue removed without consent of the victim’s family then, yes, israel is killing Palestinians and harvesting their organs … it matters little the how and the why – it matters that it happened"

      This is absolutely spot on and no-one should lose sight of its laser-like validity and get distracted from it. I have to believe this is a war crime/crime against humanity, and given that it's now been admitted I fail to see how this is not going to make it to the Hague.

  • So much for a canard (Israel admits organ harvesting)
    • Here's a gap that I don't understand:

      From Ms. Weir's article linked to by Phil ...

      "A very small but significant minority of Israelis, including military officers and governmental ministers, hold extremist supremacist views relevant to organ extraction. In 1996, Jewish Week reported that Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh, a leader of the Lubavitch sect of Judaism and the dean of a religious Jewish school in a West Bank settlement, stated: 'If a Jew needs a liver, can you take the liver of an innocent non-Jew passing by to save him? The Torah would probably permit that.' Ginzburgh elaborated: 'Jewish life has infinite value. There is something infinitely more holy and unique about Jewish life than non-Jewish life.'"

      Okay, one can accept this, but how can all of this go on then—meaning not just what was in that AP report but the additional kind of things regarding organ trafficking generally noted by Ms. Sheppard-Hughes such as stated in Ms. Weir's article and of what was in the Aftonbladet article too—if indeed the number of those in favor of it in Israel are "small," even if "significantly small"?

      Clearly, without even talking about the taking of organs from Palestinians but instead just ("just") that seemingly indisputable reporting of how Israel itself turns a blind eye towards organ trafficking, there's some very different view in the whole of Israel concerning these matters than which prevails in most if not all of the rest of the world. So where does it come from if *not* from "extremist supremacist" views? Just pure need?

      In any event does add a new dimension to understanding the Palestinian perspective: A captive population, going about terrified not just that they or their children or other loved ones are going to be killed, but then also that they may have their very bodies mutilated and organs cut out for use by their occupiers. Like some crop to be harvested....

      I suspect Israel is going to move heaven and earth to see this story strangled; hard to view even Palestinian suicide-bombers in the same light when considering that this has now been validly shown to have been part of their perspective.

  • Adelson's 'most important' work is sending Jewish kids to Israel so they won't marry non-Jews
    • Sheldon Adelson said:

      "My wife and I took through AIPAC 146 congressmen and senators to Israel...."

      Just how is it exactly that 146 congressmen and senators have no trouble rubbing shoulders with this guy, when I seriously doubt that you could find one congressperson who would agree to come within 5 miles of any Christian (much less accept donations from same) who was known for publicly working against Christians marrying jews or even other non-Christians? Indeed, does anyone doubt that many jewish groups and commentators would be among the first to cry foul at this?

      So what exactly is the rationale for this particular double standard? I can understand some others when it comes to jewish affairs, and in fact I can even agree with some, but not this one.

  • Liberal Zionism and self-determination are on a collision course
    • Citizen wrote:

      "Hold that same candle you shine on the starving Palestinians on the fat Americans–
      see anything?"

      Yeah, nothing nice that's for sure. And I ain't being snide, nor unconcerned vis a vis the Palestinians. But just as I don't see the Israelis talking about how we treated our native people however long ago I don't see the Palestinians excusing themselves by pointing at us either. After all this is *their* fight; does anyone really want to argue that they've done it well? Or, even more relevantly, anyone want to argue that they are doing it well with Abbas now?

      (And I won't even ask whether anyone thinks it's being done so well that it's rendering Zionism a "spent force," which after all is what I was responding to originally.)

    • Achmed Moor wrote:

      "Zionists must come to understand that the status-quo that has served them so well until now will not come at the expense of Palestinian human rights and dignity. Let ‘liberal Zionists’ understand that the racial privilege they enjoy in Palestine/Israel is coming to an end. Zionism is a spent force...."

      With all due respect to Mr. Moor's erudition, and admiration for what is obviously his cosmic level of hopefulness, give me a break. Zionism has been and right now still is stomping the shit out of every pathetic effort mounted in the name of "Palestinian human rights and dignity" and there isn't a shard of evidence that this is going to end with the Palestinians getting anything out of it other perhaps than some utterly ridiculous squiqqle of the poorest land in the area.

      Maybe ... maybe ... if, say, the Palestinians could for one freaking second even prove themselves able to do the simplest thing such as ... oh ... latching onto a leader who wasn't just the walking incarnation of buffoonish corruption, well then maybe there'd be some hope for them. But c'mon, I've been reading all these feel-good blurbs here lately of the same stripe and just have to smile: Hell, right now Abbas has just seemed to say that a lousy six-month building halt to the settlements is all that he really needs to start talks again and ... that he could get a peace agreement in six months.

      Six months? Six freaking months? In six months with its present climate Israel is going to agree to remove or leave out in the cold one half million settlers? And vacate East Jerusalem? Or become a multi-ethnic country and absorb all the Palestinians as equal citizens?

      The man either has Alzheimers, is on LSD, or, more likely, knows that all he needs is six more months of the same talks and kind of cover he got before with Olmert to absolutely give away freaking everything the Palestinians want, meanwhile bulking up his Zurich bank accounts with even more Mossad money.

      So the Palestinians of today, instead of rising and booting this guy out the window as far as possible, sit there and see this, and let him betray them, and then tomorrow after they are screwed by him think they only pay attention later and rise up anytime they want and *then* reject it and gee, the world will always understand.

      Lots of talk here about how the Israelis/jews always see themselves as eternal victims, well the Palestinians sure as hell got a problem in that regard too I'd suggest. "Gee," they seem to feel, "we can keep electing or supporting these kinds of clowns, demonstrate in the street for Saddam, cheer over photos of incinerated Israelis or celebrate 14 year-old suicide bombers and ... the world will understand! It's because of course we are all viiiiictiiims...."


  • Al Jazeera show on Jerusalem shows the future of the Israel/Palestine debate
    • Mr. Witty, it's hardly a refutation of the validity of a comparison to simply say that it's "absurd." In fact it's called "dodging."

      Why don't you just face it and argue it out: You believe that for whatever reason(s) a Zionist state can morally do things that no others can, period.

      People will accept a double standard if there's sufficient reason to honor same, you know. All you are doing by denying the former is impliedly agreeing to the absence of the latter.

    • Richard Witty wrote:

      "Zionism is Jewish self-determination."

      Okay, but on what basis then could you object to, say, the Nazi regime in Germany given that it could equally be seen as merely "German self-determination"?

      None whatsoever it seems to me. Nor would you have any basis (except that of naked self-interest) to object to any other ethnic's hostility to jews living amongst them.

      You can't have it both ways Mr. Witty.

  • Netanyahu tells colonists, In 9 months we start building afresh!
    • Your eye is sharp as ever postherd. People here are lambasting Netanyahu over not really "freezing," but this is even more amazing. What after all does it mean when the U.S. tries to get the Quartet and the U.N. to say that the future border between Israel and the Pal's would "reflect developments on the ground"? Seems to me the *only* thing it can mean is that the U.S. is quietly contradicting its public statements saying the settlements and any settlement expansion is wrong and that only a peace deal can change the pre-'67 border situation, and now saying the opposite: That the extent of settlements should determine the details of the peace deal.

      A simply humoungous, breathtaking thing if so (and again I don't see how else one reads it), not least in its utter duplicity given what Obama and the U.S. says publicly. Even George Bush never went this far.

      Same with that business of the jewish character of Israel: Obama earlier categorically rejected the idea that the Pal's would have to accept this; now he is saying that the world should.

      Something happened; Obama has just utterly, utterly capitulated. Makes me fear what he's gonna cave on vis a vis Iran.

      This is really something.

  • Israeli TV host says we're just playing the goyim
    • Avishai wrote:

      "Avishai says that Obama should 'refocus the conversation not only on what Israelis should stop doing, but on positive steps that make concrete what positive steps the world community–goyim–expect Israelis and Palestinians to take.'"

      Utterly incoherent. The purest verbal chaff designed to whack even the mildest call for Israel to do anything while at the same time pretending that he believes Israel ought to.

      With indistinguishable, absolute equality one can *either* perceive Obama's call to freeze the settlements as being a "negative" step telling the Israelis to stop doing something, or one can see it as a "positive" step "making concrete" what the world community "expects the Palestinians to take." Absolutely no difference whatsoever.

      Indeed in the latter regard it's a rather tiny step given that it doesn't even tell the Palestinians they can expect to "take" any settlement land back whatsoever. Even though the entire world has said that's what they are entitled to.

      So what does Avishai want? Apparently, Obama talking first, foremost and perhaps only in terms of what the Israelis will "take" in a peace deal; how nice. Yeah, that's it: start naming all the settlements it *can* keep without negotiations even, sure. Now *there's* the path to a just settlement! Or, how about ... Obama talking about how with any peace deal the tons of American lucre already going Israel's way will only *increase*! Yeah, *that's* the ticket....

      Good one, Bernard. But if you are really in favor of "positive" steps only how's this for same: Haaretz reporting that the EU is ready to accept a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and recognize East Jerusalem as its capital.

      (link to

      C'mon Bernard, say your secret heart. "Positive" or not in your mind? I'm betting not so much.

  • Tail bites the dog
    • @ Richard Parker:

      Oh I completely agree with you Richard that the U.S. or even Obama acting alone *could* start hindering the supply of aid to Israel. I just don't believe it *is* going to happen. Not even if you find that lawyer you are looking for.

      Meetcha back here in a year (or indeed in any space of time you want practically) to see who is right....

    • While I think Richard Parker's idea about the U.S. withdrawing aid to Israel is not likely to happen for the foreseeable future I also think that yonira's take on what's going to happen with Iran is not only too sunny in the short run from Israel's perspective, but in the long run also ignores what I think is going to be the clear and terrible trouble Israel has to look forward to.

      Seems to me pretty clear that whatever happens with Iran there's really no appetite for any military strike other than in Tel Aviv, and that includes Washington too. What with the problems we've already got in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, for the U.S. to be striking Iran and possibly unleashing a big radioactive cloud over the region ... yikes. Israeli pressure isn't going to overcome this calculus I don't think. Might not even have done so with another Bush much less Obama.

      So Israel might strike on its own or not, but either way its long-term situation is very bad due to the history of its policies. Say it strikes Iran; okay, but as Simon says in the article Weiss linked to all this really does is give the Iran nuke program a temporary "haircut" at best, and indeed probably just ensures that there will be a full nuke-bomb effort made by it in the future, which will be all the harder if not impossible to destroy, and etc. And it will also create a difficult-to-resist reason for Iran to disseminate what nuke knowledge and resources it has as well, and increase the reason for other arab states such as Syria to get the bomb too. (Not to mention upping the attraction for terrorists to not only continue their anti-Israeli terror, but to up the nature of it as well.)

      Maybe Israel can live with this but even if it *doesn't* strike Iran it still faces huge problems: The surrounding arab states already hate it, there is already the natural spread of nuke info making the creation of some ever easier and more likely as time goes by, and sooner or later even if Israel draws its borders so as to exclude West Bank arabs it still has its own arab citizens with their demographic potential that means that sooner or later Israel is going to have to start treating them harshly to get them to leave, or just deport them wholesale and thereby earning Israel even more opprobrium and hatred.

      Thus even absent any Iran strike because of Israel's policies I just can't see any way whatsoever that even in 20 or 30 years it will really be at any kind of stable peace with its neighbors or in the region. Indeed as time goes by because of demographics its situation will only get worse, and even in a 50 year window it's hard to see Israel as being anything but a pariah regional state. After all, even assuming that things *don't* seem to get worse Israel is still likely to see a jewish emmigration out of it as time goes by and as people get tired of constantly living in a pressure cooker. And this means that even if all the arab world does is maintain the rough status quo and even if Israel keeps gobbling Palestinian land, Israel still loses in terms of its own jewish population and jewish character.

      And yet things almost certainly will get worse: That demographic problem will get worse, and what we will also no doubt see is at the very least a clear continuation of the trajectory we've seen in the past 30-40 years of energy becoming ever more expensive—esp. with the skyrocketing increased demand coming from China and India—thereby meaning the arab oil states will just get all the more richer, and their influence and allies grow ever more as well. (Something we already see with China I think.) And the net meaning of all this is that supporting Israel is going to look ever more costly.

      Israel already seems to have trouble holding on to its people, and to have already picked what low-hanging fruit there is in the world willing to immigrate into it. So already the attraction of living in Israel right now would seem to be problematic. And, as re the big question, can anyone really reasonably foresee *any* scenario in which the attraction of being an Israeli does anything but decline?

      If then one is an enemy not just of what Israel has been doing since '67 but indeed of its very existence as a jewish state all they have to do I think is sit back, watch and enjoy. The Israelis have not only made the classic mistake of over-reaching, but then with the pro-settler's oh-so-clever "facts on the ground" strategy they have locked themselves into such a situation with no way out. And that situation is looking to get ever more dystopian as time goes by.

      A shame I think because I believe the world could have made room for a reasonably sized and a reasonably behaved jewish state. But there's no way in the long run to force it to do so for any other.

    • Steven Simon wrote:

      "Above all, Israel must not be left to feel alone."

      The absolute crux of Simon's article, and yet the most illogical as well. (And thus perfectly representative of the kind of thinking that almost invariably seems to guide the U.S. in its policy when it comes to matters the involve Israel: Up means down, down means up, 1+1 can equal anything but 2, and etc. and so forth.)

      After all the ostensible point of Simon's whole article is how to prevent Israel from striking Iran. (Since, as he acknowledges, this would mean bad things for the U.S. such as a huge rise in the price of oil, although of course Mr. Witty would have us *thanking* Israel if it does inflict that upon us.)

      And yet ... the common logic that would seem to apply to try to restrain one from attacking another is to tell the possible attacker just how alone they *would* be if they attacked, and stress to them how lonely their position would be if they did so.

      To his credit Simon does somewhat deal with this—albeit indirectly—by noting that with Israel we might be dealing with a special case: A "never again" Holocaust mentality, in essence. But, still, illogical.

      Indeed what's funny is how completely Simon just seems to accept that the tail does and should wag the dog, talking all the while about how much an Israeli strike on Iran could hurt us. Never once however, at least so far as I see, does he talk about the U.S. could easily avert a good deal if not all of that harm, much less advocate it.

      For instance, the U.S. could rather easily signal publicly—right now—that it very clearly opposes any Israeli strike, and indicate it will not keep it secret if it detects it about to happen. It could indeed refuse to give the IFF code to Israel so it couldn't overfly Iraq, and on and on and on.

      None of this is really advocated by Simon however; instead he just seems to accept that if Israel attacks the U.S. will have to support it, and this is just breathtaking when you consider what that means and what it means in terms of this seeming to be the mainstream opinion too:

      For instance, mentioned even by Simon, even one of the very probable *known* outcomes of any strike on Iranian facilities will be the release of at least some and very possibly a great deal of radioactivity. And no-one can possibly know just how much this will be, nor where it will go: The vagaries of the wind might take a cloud of it right over Teheran, over our troops in Afghanistan, over Pakistan, and it might be quite deadly.

      And yet ... despite the reaction this would likely elicit from the entire world, the depths of absolute *hatred* this would mean, Simon just seems to accept that gee, if we fail ("pretty please!") to stop Israel from striking Iran that the U.S. would just have to support it and suffer this and all other consequences too.

      *And this is so even though not once does Simon indicate how bombing Iran would be in the U.S." interests, and indeed even seems to agree that doing so would be *contrary* to it.

      And yet ... he suggests we would have to support it.

      Given how this would seem to represent the sort of mainstream sentiment that exists in the U.S. foreign policy community that counts, a frightening illustration how just how our policy towards Israel causes us to corrupt our thinking even as to our most fundamental of interests.

  • Slater: Key congressmen would hold Obama's domestic agenda hostage to Israel concerns
    • Scott McConnell wrote:

      "I think Slater’s analysis is correct, but opposition at this level could have and should have been anticipated."

      Perhaps, but it's one thing to anticipate it and another to successful thwart it, and what better a way than having Rahm as your CoS?

      Not that Obama drafted Rahm with Israel in mind and to thwart what Slater says is happening, but if he *can't* thwart it *despite* having Rahm, well then....

      Indeed I don't know how you thwart this at all, at least easily: Congresspeople have *always* functioned like this, with domestic issues at least. I suppose even with some international/foreign affairs issues as well, although it may well be that now with the Israel issue it has gotten bigger and worse than before. In any event if it couldn't be somehow thwarted before with those purely domestic issues how can you thwart it now?

      I suppose the one way is for the Prez. to essentially "take on" the Congress as some have done in the past, but that's only when Congress is held by the opposite party. Does anyone believe that Obama would take on his own party in this way? Nuts, his backbone seems to turn to pudding just thinking about Netanyahu, and he can't even seem to discipline his own Secty' of State to faithfully represent him.

      The man is going to seem to history like a castrato if he doesn't soon realize that to get results you sometimes have to take names and kick asses.

  • Feeling the hate in Washington
    • From Ms. Glick's website:

      "I made aliyah to Israel in 1991, two weeks after receiving my BA in Political Science from Beir Zeit on the Hudson -- otherwise known as Columbia University. I joined the Israel Defense Forces that summer and served as an officer for five and a half years."

      If it still dumbfounds me how someone can be a dual citizen of the U.S. and another country, it just gobsmacks me that someone can go and actually join the *armed forces* of another country and yet still hang on to their U.S. citizenship. (Which I'm assuming Ms. Glick has done given that she was born here and doesn't mentioned renouncing it otherwise.)

      And then there's the question of folks like Rahm who not only joined the IDF and, presumably, still hung onto his U.S. citizenship, but then obviously got security clearances up the butt as well.


  • The Obama admin is selling the peace process, but the press is not buying it.
    • radii wrote:

      "how does israel continue to maintain its iron grip around the neck of my beloved country...."

      You know, thinking about this it is a bit odd. Yes there's been decades of marination of the U.S. public in pro-Israel sentiment and stories, and of course everyone knows of the Holocaust, but, still, when you think about it the precise nature of the sentiment in the U.S. is interesting.

      It isn't, after all, "yes, the U.S. should subordinate its interests to Israel," nobody really buys this.

      Nor really does it seem to me to be any particularly strong form of the idea that "our interests are identical." Of course in a weak form this is true in terms of "fighting terrorism," but not in any stronger form vis a vis, say, the settlements. People aren't stupid, they recognize that interests diverge, and indeed it has always seemed to me the truth of this is what lies behind the continual efforts of Israeli partisans to say that our interest *are* identical: They know how weak is that identification and thus know the need to keep trying to push it.

      So what is it? To me at least when you have such an extreme imbalance like we have now, despite the facts at the very least arguing for balance if not sympathy for the Palestinians, it reflects an imbalance in the rhetoric.

      Not lovely but true, the side that best packages its message in a democracy tends to win, even if that message has grave flaws. One example that I'd use is that of nuclear power. Not really taking sides on the issue, it's interesting that so many enviros today seem to regret the great routing of the nuke power movement that they achieved after Three Mile Island and with that Jane Fonda movie. At the very least indeed it's hard to find any enviros today who don't at least acknowledge that the issue is more complex than it was presented. But it was presented beautifully by their "side" back then: How much easier was it for them to win via a few tremendously emotional phrases and images over the plodding, boring, detail-ridden talk of those on the other side. (Who, after all, seem to have had a point: It's been decades since Three Mile Island which means hundreds of thousands of hours of nuke power generation in that and other plants—world-wide—and we still only have Chernobyl to point to.)

      At any rate I see a similar tremendous imbalance in the message packaging with the I/P conflict and indeed I fear for the future even if it means my substantive ympathies regarding same might advance. That is, on the one side you've got the Israeli partisans who have a few very very effective messages they use against their opponents: "Anti-semite" is of course a biggie, but also "pro-terrorist" or "anti-American" even. And that about sums it up, even if the success these few labels achieve is just tremendous. (With all however seeming to be getting a bit stale even with the public from my perspective at least.)

      My concern then, even though I don't like the imbalance, is that all too often it's rectified by people coming to the fore and going too far the other way ... because, again unfortunately, that's the kind of thing that succeeds.

      So wait long enough and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the same kind of tactics used by extreme Israeli partisans used against them, and it won't be pretty: You might, for instance, get a teeny dent in a Jane Harman at a constituent meeting by trying to politely "debate" her or her like-minded colleagues at a community get-together. I suspect, if it happened even just a couple of times, you may well start getting a much bigger reaction calling her a "traitor", over and over, and let her have to decide how long she wanted to live with that. Or call her a Fifth-columnist, or an Israeli spy. Or to start calling dual nationality American-Israelis "parasites", or calling Israel a "parasite" state. Or to start waving placards saying such things in front of cameras when Israeli partisans appear, or using such phrases in letters to the editors in local newspapers.

      Sure, for awhile the media will not see this as newsworthy/worth coverage, but at some point, esp. if used in media-savvy ways, they would have to. And then I suspect the damn would break.

      Not saying for sure this will happen, but imbalances tend not to last forever, action breeds reactions, offenses produce defenses and on and on.

      The whole thing is repugnant to me, but what can you do? It's like the lowest common denominator always has the ability to determine the course of things, and those Israeli partisans who dabble in this kind of sentiment are just inviting a similar reaction I think, for the same reason they use theirs: it works.

      Might not happen at all of course; the issues behind it might be mooted before it gets to that, but who knows. The U.S. ramps up an attack on Iran, Iran ignites the entire Middle East against us, our boys start to come home in tons of body bags that can't be ignored and ever more boys are sent.... The theoretical can turn real surprisingly fast.

    • Actually I think it's a very interesting question why U.S. administrations have been behind these various "peace processes." They could, after all, have just let the money continue to flow to Israel and sit back and only occasionally utter some banal words about wanting peace and blah blah.

      The main reason otherwise to me at least has then been because Israel has wanted it: Without the U.S. crowding everyone else out, including the U.N., other third parties who are far less in Israel's pocket might get involved, or mount some sanctions program against Israel or etc., and thus it's been necessary to essentially have the U.S. there as the 800 lb. gorilla, endlessly promising progress. Even if that has meant that by doing so its been endlessly spending its own credibility by playing such a sham role, but that's just been yet another cost to the U.S though, so no big deal.

      Admittedly however the U.S. has had its own interests too; for one to pretend that its support for Israel wasn't really for Israel gobbling Palestinian land. In the first place there was the need to lie to ourselves that we weren't doing that. And then in the second to lie to others to try to forestall arab/moslem hatred of us and etc.

      It's funny then as Israel gobbles so much land that no real two-state solution is even possible anymore, and we've already gotten so much arab/moslem hatred that we are effectively in a war with them in at least three countries over there, the necessity of us being involved in any "peace process" can seem to shrink. What's the need after all? The deed's been done, nobody left to lie to, we've already garnered about as much arab/moslem hostility as is possible ... maybe that's what accounts for Obama's obvious lack of care. The ideal ending is for things to just be left lying with us quietly walking away as best we can, and just hope that those damned arabs and moslem would forget what we've done to 'em.

  • Roger Cohen 'Times' op-ed short on sources, history and logic
    • Yeah, I was gonna say, how does Holocaust/Intifada/anything trauma explain the lust for expropriating other people's land?

      Talk about dishonoring the Holocaust: Use it as an all purpose excuse/rationalization.

      Funny how all this shows the disengenuousness of Left liberalism: Since the founding of the Soviet Union of course it's most damning condemnation has been to categorize someone or some action or some state as "fascist." (Even though same would seem to have fit the Soviet Union for most of its existence.) And this epithet of course was used by it up to and including the U.S.

      Now however, when confronted by a state supported by the U.S., which has a person like Lieberman as one of its highest officials and his party in a firm position of power, and things being said like that Chief Rabbi of the IDF the other day, suddenly, my my, all the grand, self-appointed moral Paladins of humanity have just gone blind. Can't see a thing. Nothing to see here, just move along....

  • Precedented
    • Ah, the flip side of the phenomenon of politicians with no real principles except their own self-interest: Ordinarily of course we see them doing crappy things *to* others in the service of that self-interest. And here we see the other side with Obama; no pride either when things are done to *them.*

      "Go ahead Bibi, make me publicly eat some more s___, that's okay, it's in my interest not to fight it so of course I'll eat it, and next time I talk of Israel of course I'll still include the rote phrases about our 'unbreakable bond' and etc."

      Right in Obama's face, openly, right on the heels of him already backing down, sploosh, another big helping, right in the public kisser. Teaching him a lesson I suppose Bibi considers it: "So that he remembers not to get crosswise with us again."

      The next stage of our relationship with Israel realized: From appreciation for us, to demand for and expectation of our eternal support, to disdainful regard for our subordinate status.

      Say what you will about George Bush II; while he was genuinely crazy about Israel I don't think he would have stood for a moment for being treated by it like this. Indeed weren't there stories at the end that he had flatly told the Israelis not to attack Iran and just as flatly refused to give them the "friend" code so they could fly safely over Iraq to do so?

  • 'Jews Say No!'... to Dershowitz
    • Rejecting the Goldstone Report? One would think that would be tough generally speaking given the latest from the IDF's Chief Rabbi "damning" any IDF soldiers who show mercy.

      (link to"

      I mean ... isn't "mercy" at the essence of what Goldstone said was not shown? And indeed in his remarks this Rabbi specifically mentioned Cast Lead and specifically noted that the IDF behaved as his philosophy wanted them to.

      Mr. Dershowitz it seems to me can quibble endlessly this way and that; how do you overcome the open, categorical boast by the IDF's Chief Rabbi that mercy disqualifies you from being an IDF soldier?

      I'm ordinarily not fond of such comparisons since they are so often simply meant to insult, but how does one deny how clearly this parallels Hitler's rant to his generals and etc. on the eve of Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union to close their hearts to mercy and the usual rules of warfare?

      Again, this is the *Chief* IDF rabbi. Speaking *openly*.

      Astonishing. How is this not reported around the world? At least every time the Goldstone Report is mentioned?

  • Slaves of the peace process
    • Barghouti wrote:

      "nothing will prevent the Palestinian people from declaring their independent state...."

      Well then why the hell don't they? I realize that way back when the PLO kinda did so, but didn't really push it and this is why it's a threat again. But it is just being threatened again, so why should anyone regard Barghouti as just another one of those arab "leaders" who are pathetically in love with spouting stuff they can't back up? Just as Saddam talked about the mother of all battles and these Iranians talking about setting the world on fire if attacked and Hamas talked about "winning" after the last Gaza incursion.... Even if such things are, amazingly, okay in the arab culture, don't they have enough exposure to the rest of the world to realize how freaking stupid it makes 'em all seem? Big mouths, it makes 'em all seem, ready in an instant though to hoist their underwear up a flagpole when the shooting starts.

      I've said it before and I'll say it again; one's sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians and indeed the arabs in general can rather easily be exasperated by their apparent love of blowhards.

      It's constantly "we're gonna do this" and "we're gonna do that" and then the Israelis come in and kick the shit out of them militarily or politically and one find's oneself struggling to defend people who seem more interested in playing games and screwing each other over that fighting what they say is their fight.

      Golda Meier had a point maybe after all saying there's no such thing as Palestinians; there's a bunch of people there sure, but they seem to have about as much feeling of true solidarity and kinsmanship as the mafia does.

  • The Israel lobby and the Jewish kings
    • Mooser wrote:

      "I do not, not, believe that Zionism is in any way a “religious feeling”....

      Okay, but given it sure appears that a very large percentage of jews equate the health of Zionism with the health of judaism, what difference does it make?

  • The Nation: 'for all practical purposes, one nation between river and sea...'
    • taxi wrote:

      "Nothing short of returning the WHOLE of historic Palestine to it’s Palestinian owners (Muslim, Jew and Christian), as well as reparations and safe return of other Arab Jews back to their motherlands – not forgetting of course, all Euro colonialist back to Euro land – nothing short of these three events can bring REAL JUSTICE."

      Maybe, maybe not, but whatever one's conception of "real justice" is one ought not let the perfect be the enemy of the good lest you get neither.

  • Obama's capitulation, the whodunnit
    • "If wants simplistic answers [sic] ... as Chomsky’s your man."

      Yeah, and always the *same* answer: The U.S. is evil, the U.S. is at fault. Someone ought to tell him that such a mindless, puppet-like one-note act went out with the pre-Molotov-Ribbentrop pact Stalinists. One can't even say anti-U.S. animus is the man's pole star; it's his *only* star.

      Enough about the crackpot though. Here's a story about someone with real integrity and coherence:

      link to

  • Abunimah on 'Israeli Jews and the one-state solution'
    • wondering jew/potsherd:

      Well first of all wj I don't think your comments were superficial at all. And I was especially struck by your notation of that line from the Hatikva and feel that it points exactly the way you put it that my original thinking here concentrated too much on a religious aspect.

      I don't think I've quite got it right yet then, and again would love to hear some scholar of judaism on this, but I don't know this lessens my ultimate conclusion that however the mechanics work, there is a substantial sense amongst many many jews, conscious or subconscious, that the destruction or disappearance of Israel now as a jewish state would indeed almost equate to the destruction or disappearance of jewry itself.

      Given same—given how absolutely *profound* it means for Israel as a jewish state to exist for them—and given how deeply rooted this is so that, as you jw observe, it's implanted with perfect articulation in the national anthem itself which as I understand it was written and far predates Israel's fouding, this seems to me to have equally profound consequences for what is and what is not possible in the future.

      You jw for instance talk about "little being done" to try to ... acclimate Israelis or jews to the idea of a one-state solution, and potsherd of course, quite logically argues that hey, maybe a jewish Israel is a *constraining* thing for jews. But my goodness, given that profoundness, and that depth of roots ... no way it seems to me is anyone ever going to persuade jewry to agree to a non-jewish Israel. No way. It would be like asking them to commit a sort of ... identity suicide. And these are folks who have kept their identity for 2000 years despite having no already existing Israel and despite being fragmented and torn and then having the very core of their people exterminated. No way.

      As I've said before the other aspect of this as regards any one-state solution is the relative ease with which Israel can trump that just simply by declaring on any day that it wants that its border is here and here and excluding whomever it wants thereby and thereby also essentially closing the book on any idea that it owes those excluded folks any rights or etc. within the borders it has declared. And it won't be much harder I don't think for Israel to figure out other ways to deal with those non-jews who it could not so exclude if and when they do present a demographic threat.

      Combined then with my view that a two-state solution really is already out of reach and to me at least you've just got a recipe for a chronic cancer there in the region, and, happily for me, I think the U.S. has an easy answer too in the form of the observation that it really has no damned vital interest in any of this and it should just get out, period.

      But otherwise I just don't think any of this is going away at *any* time in *any* foreseeable future, meaning at least ten-twenty or thirty years or so at a minimum. So that in 2020 there will still be conflict over there, with maybe some ridiculous little broken-up collection of areas that calls itself the State of Palestine, but with a continuing war between a significant number of Palestinians and Israel still on-going. And the U.N. may even rule that the State of Palestine includes all those post-'67 lands Israel has by then claimed as its own, which however will essentially mean nothing whatsoever, to the Israelis at least, and to the U.S. as well.

      Regardless, this has been an interesting line of conversation even if it doesn't seem to lead to any helpful ideas. Sometimes though that's the best you can hope for; mere understanding, or at least mere better understanding. And I think I've gained some more here so thank you to all who batted this issue around with me. I can see better now, for instance, why in the face of the obvious knowledge that what some U.S. jews are doing that just screams "dual loyalty" they keep doing it regardless: in a very real sense the issue to them shouldn't be seen in that light, instead it is that to them *not* "saving" Israel means not saving themselves or their identity. It means not just he displacement of fellow jews but a step towards the evaporation of jewry and their own identity itself. Suicide, in essence, not only of their culture but of their own selves too.

      Thanks again everyone.

    • potsherd wrote:

      "If Judaism requires that Jews dwell within some Jewish-ruled state, then for most of its history, Jews haven’t been Jews."

      Well assuming you understand that all I'm saying is that (to a large but not total degree mind you, and maybe even subconsciously) modern jewry has come to *effectively* equate Israel with judaism itself, as to your observation I'd say that's obviously true. But it's also pre-Holocaust, isn't it? And pre-even the remotest possibility of the establishment of a Zion, right?

      So I guess to modify my theory I would have to emphasize that the jewry/Israel identification it posits is definitely is a very modern thing. But I don't think this necessarily weakens my theory though because, after all, there *have* been those two big modern developments of the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel and it would after all be surprising if big big developments like that *didn't* cause some profound psychological shifts, right?

      And indeed your citing those haredim who reject Israel; doesn't thatalso just kind of support my theory? I.e., showing that if there is anything the the vast majority of jews *do* share it *is* in fact an identification of jewry with Israel?

      As to your point about idolatry I guess I just don't know: Would even classical (i.e. non-modern) judaism regard worship of a Zion as "idolatry"? Isn't like most "idols" it can seem. But even if you are right and technically it *would* be idolatry the question is still whether it is in fact seen as such by the majority of jews, and again I'd just cite the fact that your Israel-rejecting haredim are so small in number.

      Like I say I wish we had a real judaic scholar here, because I'd also love to hear him or her talk about Shmuel's keenly observed idea about a more "multi-faceted" idea of judaism and zionism. It is possible? Indeed is it even avoidable? And if not does it have to come with such pain?

      Like you said postherd, one can hardly believe that the dream of zionists is to live in a "slaughterhouse/barbecue." And indeed logic would seem to suggest the more it remains one the more it means that what conflation of judaism with zionism *has* existed as per my theory gets progressively weaker and weaker. So maybe that's exactly what we are seeing when we hear the moaning of so many hard-core zionists when they talk about how especially young Diaspora jews are "falling away"; it's not just that they are falling away from Israel, they are falling away from jewry too in the zionists view. And after all even if you think my theory wrong you can't deny I don't think that it *has* been the zionists project to make it right, true? To conflate in the jewish mind jewishness with a love of Israel, right?

      Ironic too if my theory is right; if indeed to a substantial extent modern jewry equates jewishness with the existence of Israel, the real threat then to modern jewry is then an "ugly" Israel that can never seem to find peace and room to behave placidly. Nobody wants to identify with anything ugly. And so the longer Israel finds itself having to behave ugly, quite contrary to its stated and even apparent reason that it is doing so *for* jewry, what it will be doing if some peace isn't found at some point at least is instead dynamiting away at jewry, worse than any assimilationist or anti-zionist or anti-semite could ever do.

    • potsherd wrote:

      "How would a one-state solution quash anything essential in the Jewish religion? "

      Well I don't know exactly, that's a very interesting question, and maybe someone can tell us. For instance I don't know for sure but again my rough sense is that unlike in the Christian faith in the jewish there is no other-worldly after-life nirvana to aspire to, at least none like heaven, right? Therefore leaving us with whatever earthly paradise(s) we can muster. But regardless of my possibly mistaken musing about the precise source of the jewish theological attachment to an earthly Zion it certainly seems to be the opinion of the experts by which I mean many fundamentalist jews that a one-state solution would quash something essential in their religion, true? Note for instance that rabbi's book that came out just the other day; *when* did he say it was okay to go about killing not just gentiles but gentile babies and children? When they threatened *Israel,* and I can hardly imagine him embracing any Israel that wasn't overwhelmingly jewish in nature and character.

      Moreover, I don't think it's much disputed but that at least over the last century or so there has been a big movement towards taking a more secular outlook amongst Western jews at least, not least illustrated by the huge Reform movement. And in a way it's even easier to see that amongst such more secularized folks who still feel the need for a strong collective bond to latch onto *something* strong and tangible to identify with, such as a single, pure, tangible, secular place. And then indeed the striving for that pure place becoming in essence, in their mind at least, the very thing that defines their group.

      And, you know, prodded by your very incisive question, the more I think I might be on to something here: That indeed to a large degree, subconscious maybe but still there, there is a sense amongst a large segment of the jewish population that the destruction or elimination of a jewish Israel would in essence somewhat mean the end of judaism too.

      I sure wish we had a judaic scholar here to comment on this; maybe I'm way way off base. But I don't think so. And I don't mean to say that this is something that jews themselves, once examining it, would not agree isn't faulty; of course jewry existed and even flourished for a long time without an Israel.

      But, still, over all that time it seems it *did* have an Israel in its mind though at least, theoretically; a kind of peaceful, earthly, final destination to aspire to where, because it was a uniquely *jewish* aspiration, just naturally (and without malign thought) was indeed pretty exclusively jewish. And now, that that's seemingly within reach, to have it destroyed—much less agree to see it destroyed—creates a terrible dissonance: Doesn't that essentially mean the obliteration of all or at least most of what, above all, it has *meant* to be jewish for the last 2000 years or so?

      Like I say I think I'm on to something here, and in any event if not would sure like to see myself disabused of it by someone who really knew more about jewish thought and emotional life over those 2000 years or so. But I do think my idea also explains the very visceralness of the jewish reaction that seems to exist when it comes to Israel and even the idea of a one-state solution: Especially coming after the Holocaust ... "here, miraculously, at last, was our dream of 2000 years. The common dream that identified us and that defined us. Of *course* it must be jewish in character and nature, an 'Israel' that wasn't wouldn't *be* an Israel."

      Also should provide gentiles with some sensitivity to the jewish sensitivity about Israel. Easy for us now to talk blithely about seeing Israel become a no-longer jewish-in-nature state, they've been dreaming about it differently for 2000 years as their essential savior from endless persecution and distrust. And for anyone who pooh-poohs old historical claims of persecution and etc. as the basis for modern fears they have that Holocaust answer: It *was* only 60 or so years ago. And it *did* even take place in the supposedly civilized West. Indeed in what was often regarded as the *most* civilized state in the West.

      Some very very primal things being dealt with here, explaining the bitter bitter nature of the debates we see today.

    • I think any voluntary one state solution is a fantasy ignoring Israel's option to probably avoid that by simply declaring its own boundaries and telling the rest of the world to go screw, but in any event there seems to me yet another difference here from the South Africa situation that's important.

      Indeed more than important, and that is the religious aspect: What do you say to Israelis to not justshare their land, but in essence to ... consecreate the idea that they will never ever realize the core idea that has animated them—and indeed defined them even—for nearly 2000 years now?

      After all without at least the *hope* of an Israel, even the most theoretical, distant one, would jewry have even survived over the last two centuries? What other ultimate hope binds them together? So far as I understand there is no jewish analog to a Christian heaven where, in the end, all the right people are reunited and live happily ever after in a right-people community, correct?

      So in essence isn't asking for a one-state solution even more than asking merely for a forsaking of Zion, but indeed asking for what is perceived as the end of jewry itself?

      One can never overestimate the psychic aspect that permeates this conflict I think.

  • Grim Netanyahu warns American Jews on assimilation
    • You just gotta love how utterly free of genuine honesty international relations are. I mean here's Netanyahu, who's really saying "Hello President Obama, so nice to see you so soon after publicly making you eat feces on the settlements issue. I was just in your country here to rally some of your constituents to force you to do some other things that you might not feel is in your country's best interests."

      To which Obama responds approximately verbatim, with even greater dishonesty:

      "And hello there to you Mr. Prime Minister, I'm so glad to see you again."

      That said, is it just me or is did the degree of the appeal to tribalism Netanyahu undertook really turn a corner from the previous ways that Israeli officials at least used to do same? Really seems raw here now.

      And given the amount of dough we send over there every year you just gotta wonder if he wasn't smirking with his comment about how he intends to continue to bolster Jewish identity outside of Israel using "state funds."

  • Anti-anti-semitism (Colonist rabbi issues book giving rules on when it's cool to kill gentiles)
    • In an odd way it seems to me this presents the Israeli government with a huge opportunity:

      Just a few weeks ago in reaction to a private newspaper in Norway I believe publishing a story pondering whether the IDF had harvested organs from some Palestinians it had killed the Israeli government officially demanded that the Norwegian gov't repudiate this suggestion.

      My sense is that it did get some official reaction due to this demand—the Norwegian Prez. or etc. saying it was a repulsive story or something. But in any event think of how good the Israeli government would look to have Netanyahu or Peres repudiate what their own citizen-nutball has now said.

      Biggest favor it could possibly do for the average Israeli and indeed the average jewish person too who has just slapped their forehead out of amazement and disgust at this.

      We'll see, but if I'm correct the Right wing in Israel is without hesitation going to utterly fail this little test of just how much it really cares about its oh-so-frequently proclaimed duty to represent all Israelis and indeed to a significant extent all jews too.

      ... and then the Right-wingers will sit back and endlessly ask why Diaspora jews around the world are becoming ever more estranged from Israel.
      Hmmmm, mystery of mysteries....

  • Illegitimacy? FT says that Netanyahu is committed to 'national suicide'
    • I think what's missed in terms of talking about the end-game that pro-occupationist Israeli have is also what's missed by those who talk way too blithely in my opinion about a one-state solution as if all the Palestinians have to do is utter those words and it will become a reality.

      That is, as I think it out at any rate, there is a end-game that the pro-occupationists have that doesn't involve any genocide at least and a way that they are going to be able to avoid any one-state solution too and that is, whenever they think they've gone as far as they can, draw their border carefully around where they are, exclude every Palestinian possible, and say to the world "there." And from there any further talk will be met with Israel's rebuke that it involves its own internal affairs, period.

      Likely to be very effective I think, which is why I think the pro-occupationists are betting on it. True, since it's not a negotiated settlement they can't get any agreement to limit the sovereignty of what's left of Palestine, but I don't think they really care about that anyway. (If they did they'd be negotiating now seriously.) Israel will be so strong and occupy such strategic ground that they will say "go ahead now state of Palestine, get an air force; strive to see how many seconds of life it would seriously have in the event we decided to take it out."

      This is somewhat of a trump card that Israel has I think, with that "internal affairs" cry having quite a resonance in international law and much less theoretically too amongst many many states of the world that fear international meddling. (Such as, for instance, China, not to mention lots of little states that have always been more readily interfered with in their internal affairs.)

      True, Israel playing this gerrymader card, even successfully, would still leave it with its own Israeli-Arab citizens. But it would exclude the others and at one go essentially totally knock out their claim to any "equal rights." And then as to their own arabs I suspect that the Israeli occupationists feel that hey, one way or another they will deal with that problem separately. Expulsion at worst, more likely a whole constellation of incentives to leave and disincentives to stay, economic, social and etc. etc.

      Indeed, one thing that's struck me as I've looked at the evolving maps of the settlements and the roads is what strikes me as the clear design at work paying attention not just to taking the strategic ground or the best ground such as that with water, but connecting these settlements together or placing them in such a way vis a vis each other that when the time comes the gerrymander, while the borders taking them in and leaving other stuff out will still look somewhat crazy, it will still be less crazy and disjointed than it otherwise would look if there was no guiding hand behind where these settlements have been started and allowed to expand and etc.

      In short I think the one-staters are deluded to believe that Israel would have no answer to them, and that those who think that Israel is in somesd iron cul-de-sac forcing it to claim the entire West Bank with all the misery that would mean for Israel are mistaken as well.

  • Is Cantor saying there could be genocide in the U.S.?
    • Interesting coincidence that you should write this today just when Haaretz is reporting on a new book just put out by a rabbi in Israel ("The King's Torah") which says that it's not only okay to kill gentiles "even if they are not responsible for" a situation which threatens Israel, but even gentile babies and children. "[T]here is nothing wrong with [such] murder," he says.

      Just some lone nutball rabbi you say? No, says Haaretz: "Several prominent rabbis, including Rabbi Yithak Ginzburg and Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, have recommended the book to their students and followers."

      See link to

      Right, being involved up to our U.S. necks in a conflict with believers like this on both sides is just exactly the smart thing for the U.S. to be doing....

  • Tom Friedman seems to threaten cutting off Israel's aid
    • Due to vague early reporting I think it's misperceived that Mofaz is making a unilateral proposal for simply declaring a Pal state. As I understand it he is proposing that via temporary/interim status talks with the Pals—including Hamas amazingly, if it wins the next Pal election—the I's immediately renounce about 60% of the occupied territories and recognize upon same an interim Pal state so long as the Pal's agree. The I's and the Pal's at the same time start holding final status talks aimed at concluding final borders and a final resolution to other issues with the I's working on legislation to compensate whatever Israeli citizens are displaced by the final status agreement. See:

      link to

      link to

      The Reuters' article was esp. interesting in noting that Mofaz's idea was the talk of the Israeli political media over the weekend. (Or at least interesting to me given my suspicion that in one form or another I think the idea might well prove to have some legs in Israel.)

      In terms of declaring a Pal state that's kind of interesting and Chaos4700 is on the right track: Many countries already recognize a Palestinian state because way back in the 1970's I think—maybe when their leadership was in Morocco or Tunis or somewhere like that?—the PLO *did* declare such a state and that's what has provided these other countries the basis to recognize same.

      However, the idea that the PA would do so again in essence still has power because, essentially, via its negotiations with Israel the PA has essentially admitted it does not yet have a state. So the possible re-declaration of one unilaterally does sto;; hold some significant concern for Israel because of what this might mean now, such as many more countries than before and even the U.N. recognizing it and recognizing its borders as being '67 borders, and all kind of other things both related to that and unrelated. (For instance, if a Palestine with '67 borders were recognized then Israel's occupation would perhaps be raised from merely being viewed as illegal internationally to something more, perhaps meaning that almost no matter what it did the Pals would be deemed to be acting in rightful defense of aggression and etc. and so forth. There was a recent Haaretz story about this—dealing with a rumor that Obama had a secret deal with the Pal's approving their unilateral dec. of a new state—but its disappeared. I at least suspect that's because some Pal came out and said it wasn't true.

      Why the Pals would not pursue this course or use to to their advantage more I can't say, and can only speculate that it's via U.S. pressure or bribery of the same sort that persuaded Abbas and the PA not to push the Goldstone Report.

      Lastly and on an unrelated point—albeit not unrelated at all to Bernard Avishai's recent talk here about "the grandeur of the Torah" at least—Haaretz is carrying an interesting report about a new book being put out by some Rabbi there entitled "The King's Torah." The report says that "[s]everal prominent rabbis have recommended the book to their students and followers and it's thus even more piquant to me at least as a Gentile:

      link to

  • Bernard Avishai has publicly rejected 'the demographic threat' argument
    • v... wrote:

      "It matter [sic] little what you think of me...."

      No no v..., you mistook my words. I wasn't passing any judgment on you whatsoever; merely inquiring about how what you had previously written addressed some additional questions. And I appreciate your response; thanks.

    • v... wrote:

      "It appears to me that unless individuals here and quite frankly throughout the world, come to an understanding that governments are merely a franchise of an elite for the most part, you will be doomed to these perpetual conversations that produce little to nothing of consequence."

      And ...

      "If you harbor the delusion that things are not going to get worse on this current course, all you have to do is wait and do nothing until you are swallowed whole."

      Of course things can always get worse v..., but don't you think you are (understandably) being overly influenced by the short perspective that our short little lives gives us?

      In the first place you're right of course that one can always see government as the mere franchise of some "elites"—if by "elites" you merely mean people who have chosen to get involved in government.

      (Really pointing the way, it seems to me, that the focus should be on how open gov't is to *non*-elites getting involved, such as, say, Obama.)

      But even accepting that you meant something more substantial and evil/wrong by your "elites," and even accepting that you are correct and that's been invariably historically true (which I doubt), nonetheless are you really arguing for no government? Are you really saying that, on the whole, in terms of the governance of the great majority of the people on the planet things have not gotten better over, say, the last 100, 200, 500 years? Or 1000? Do you really deny that, at least so far, the trajectory in terms of human society and more virtuous government has been on the whole positive? Especially theoretically (a leading indicator), and especially in the West?

      And if not, and you do admit the need for some government, how can any such government work, almost no matter how limited it is, if the reigning theory of the populace is that it is invariably, ineluctably a corrupt thing run by elites, for elites?

      Or are you just saying there is no answer and no hope?

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