Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 743 (since 2012-06-27 14:34:05)

Stephen Shenfield

Stephen Shenfield is a British-born writer. After several years as a government statistician, he entered the field of Soviet Studies. He was active in the nuclear disarmament movement. Later he came to the U.S. and taught International Relations at Brown University. He is the author of Russian Fascism: Traditions, Tendencies, Movements (M.E. Sharpe, 2001). He now works as an independent researcher and translator. He is a member of the World Socialist Movement. A collection of his writings is on his new website at


Showing comments 743 - 701

  • Over one quarter of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress consisted of applause and standing ovations
    • lysias -- no, he says (if I hear him right): "Da, dostatochno." It's at link to

    • In "The Gulag Archipelago" Solzhenitsyn describes how the mayor of a small town was sent to the Gulag for being the first to stop the applause at a meeting in honor of Stalin's birthday. This was after the ovation had already continued for 20 minutes.

      A bell or buzzer might be used to stop applause. I just watched a video of Stalin being applauded at the Bolshoi Theater in 1937. After several minutes in which repeated ringing of a bell fails to stop the applause -- when it dies down someone else always rises to shout "Ura!" and set it going again -- Stalin himself intervenes, you can hear him shout "Enough!" and motion with his hand.

  • Netanyahu's speech and the American Jewish condition
    • Well said.

      Many American Jews who claim to be traumatized by the Holocaust despite the lack of any real personal connection to it are indeed traumatized -- let us grant them that much. Not by the Holocaust itself, however, but by a CULT of the Holocaust that deliberately perpetuates and sanctifies the horrifying images of that receding fragment of the past.

      This cult exploits the not very well known phenomenon of secondary trauma -- the trauma induced by witnessing the suffering of others. For example, journalists, aid workers, and other outsiders in a zone of war, plague or famine are often traumatized by what they see. This is why we should not allow children to view graphic films of such horrors, although this is precisely what "educators" working for the Holocaust Cult do (so that they will "know who they are").

      It has been frequently pointed out that with the decline of religious faith the Holocaust and Israel have become central to (post-?)Jewish identity. And within this recast identity the Holocaust has come to occupy the leading role, with Israel assigned the derivative roles of refuge from the last Holocaust (though it wasn't) and beachhead for desperate resistance to the Holocaust-to-come. So except for surviving old-timers like our good friend Mooser it is now adequate to define "Jew" as "a victim and perpetuator of the Holocaust Cult."

    • Dammit, it's already after 12. I missed the free offer!

  • Leading NY institutions discuss the Nakba -- and there is not a Palestinian in sight
    • Shapira is right to say that in the 1940s the expulsion of populations was still widely regarded as a "normal phenomenon" and aroused less indignation than it does now. However, things were already starting to change in that respect and the best people of the time were greatly distressed by and denounced all these "transfers" -- not only in the case of Palestine. Thus the Mahatma made a last-ditch effort to head off the partition of the Indian Raj because he realized what it would entail in human suffering. The British (and Jewish) left-wing publisher Victor Gollancz went against the stream to protest against the expulsion of Germans from the East and other cruel treatment of Germans during the Allied occupation of Germany (although he finally proved unable to resist Zionism).

      By contrast, Stalin and the Soviet leadership at the time were quite happy with the expulsion of the Palestinians. A Soviet representative even suggested that they be resettled in Soviet Central Asia. This is hardly surprising in view of the fact that Stalin -- in addition to bearing much of the responsibility for the expulsion of Germans from the East -- had already expelled numerous ethnic communities to Central Asia during the war, just a few years before.

      So I would ask Shapira and her ilk -- are you satisfied to line up with Stalin and against the most decent people of the time?

  • Netanyahu speech is 'destructive' of 'bipartisan, immutable relationship' between US and Israel, Rice says
    • So Netanyahu was afraid to visit Britain out of fear of arrest. His visit to Washington provides an excellent opportunity to arrest him there. I suggest that in order to maximize the dramatic effect he be arrested and taken away in handcuffs just as he is about to address the Congress.

  • The 15 billion dollar deal that will make or break Israel's regional hegemony
    • The world urgently needs to switch from hydrocarbons, including gas, to renewable energy in order to bring global heating under control. I would have thought this would be an especially urgent imperative for a country like Jordan, which already has very high summer temperatures. And Jordan surely also has plenty of terrain that is suitable for the collection of solar energy.

  • Cycle '48: Remapping the Nakba
    • The erasure of Palestinian history is not as coherent as it might have been. The Zionists could have blown up all the remaining ruins, but even after all these decades they haven't done so. It was from those ruins that I discovered the Nakba while hiking in my youth. I reflected then that if they had systematically destroyed the ruins I would not have sussed out what had happened. I am still curious as to why they haven't done that. I suspect they simply can't be bothered. After all, they themselves can't "see" the ruins before their eyes and they may assume that no one else can either (except for Palestinians, I suppose, but they don't matter).

  • Racism is in the air: Video showing racist exchange between Israelis and a flight attendant goes viral
    • I have a vague childhood memory of a teacher at cheder (Jewish religious school) -- I think she was an Israeli -- referring to a badly behaved child as a "lobbus" (Yiddish for "little monster"). Her tone was one of affectionate amusement rather than condemnation.

  • Jewish groups that blindly support Israel make US and European Jews potential victims of violence -- Avnery
    • A crucial part of the Zionist project has always been to create the "new Jew" who would be the opposite of the despised "old Jew" of the diaspora. The old Jew was polite, peaceful, submissive to authority, so the new Jew was brought up to be rude, aggressive, etc.

    • They have a long history of "sacrificing a few of their co-ethnics to further their agenda" or even more than a few if "necessary." In order to create and populate their "Jewish state" they did all they could to block schemes to save European Jews that would have meant taking them to countries other than Palestine, killed Jews (as well as non-Jews) in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, assassinated Jews (as well as non-Jews) trying to achieve an insufficiently Zionist resolution of the conflict, blew up Jewish cafes in Egypt and Iraq to stampede Jews to Israel, etc. etc.

  • Is flying a nationalist flag ever a progressive act?
    • "For Palestine and the Palestinians anything and everything." What does that mean? That any means chosen by Palestinians are justified in such a noble cause? That could lead to some rather paradoxical conclusions. For example, Palestinian conservatives might insist that upholding traditional values, even by such means as "honor" killings, is essential to the Palestinian cause, while Palestinian feminists might be equally insistent that changing those values is essential to the same cause. So in that controversy one would have to support both sides.

      However much we may sympathize with the plight of any group, such carte-blanche indulgence is potentially dangerous and does them no real service. Many well-meaning people used to extend the same sort of indulgence to oppressed Jews and Zionism got enormous benefits from that uncritical solidarity.

  • One-state 'fantasy is very dangerous' because it cannot tell us what the military looks like -- Manekin
    • I agree that if you take the current state of opinion as a given, as Jeff does, then no solution is possible. That is because at core the conflict is not about how many states there should be, what they should be called, or their cultural orientation. It is about whether the century-long process of dispossession of Palestinians by Zionist Jews should continue, be frozen, or at least partly reversed. Even the most moderate Palestinians insist on partial reversal and most Jews are unwilling to accept that.

      Jeff hides behind majority Jewish opinion as though it were a fixed objective constraint that has to be recognized. In fact, that majority consists of individual Jeffs who are free to change their opinions. If Jeff were to take a clear stand against the majority instead of using it as an excuse then he would be contributing to the needed change.

    • The future state could be called Palestine and its citizens, including its Jewish citizens, would then be called Palestinians, as was the generally accepted usage under the British Mandate.

      Manekin and Beinart's position seems to me contradictory. On the one hand, they complain that the advocates of a 1SS have not worked out their ideas in sufficient depth and detail, implying that if they did do this those ideas might be worthy of consideration (otherwise why go to the trouble?). On the other hand, they know in advance that "trying to be creative" is a waste of time. If all aspects of a 1SS were fully worked out would they then consider it? Of course not.

      My impression is that their claim that "virtually no Palestinians are interested in it" (a 1SS) is now incorrect.

  • A place where Palestine doesn't exist (Notes from a Zionist education)
    • This fascinating scientific digression could be avoided by following Swift's Gulliver's Travels and having the two tribes differ on which end they break open eggs. Are you a big ender or a little ender?

    • Up to 1939 the Nazi regime allowed the German Zionists to run youth camps in Germany to train young Jews for aliyah under the Transfer Agreement. There were indeed many similarities between the Nazi and Zionist youth movements, though that doesn't necessarily mean that they were copying one another. Rather, both had their roots in the broader European culture of romantic and militaristic nationalism that arose earlier in the century. There are also links to the British imperialist youth movement, the Boy Scouts.

  • Are supporters of Palestinians using the power of shame to its potential?
    • First on the difference between shame and guilt. Shame is what you feel when you look bad in the eyes of others -- not any and all others, but others whose opinion of you matters to you. Guilt is what you feel when you look bad to yourself.

      "Pure" Zionists cannot be made to feel shame or guilt because both they and the others whose opinion matters to them see nothing wrong in mistreating Palestinians. But many Jews, especially in countries with a liberal culture like the US, are "mixed" Zionists and the contradiction between their Zionism and their more humane attitudes can be used to induce shame or guilt. That shame or guilt may not translate into immediate action because the impulse is paralyzed by contrary fears and feelings. Such conflicted individuals may feel caught in a Catch-22 situation: if they act as good Zionists they will feel shame before one set of people; if they oppose Zionism they will feel shame before another set of people. They also feel guilt in both cases, as the self is divided. There is a chance that they will break the impasse by reconfiguring the self and ceasing to care about the opinion of those who are holding them back.

      The reader can work out the practical implications of this model. For example, whether you are able to induce shame in a particular individual depends on whether you are -- or can make yourself into -- a person whose opinion matters to him/her.

  • The left needs to stop hounding Elizabeth Warren on Palestine, says Warren supporter
    • It is impertinent for voters to want to know where a presidential candidate stands on important public issues. We shall be informed in due course, at an appropriate time. In the meantime we should decide whether to support a candidate on the basis of how we like the look of her face and the sound of her voice. In any case, it is futile to know a candidate's positions because they are bound to change, perhaps repeatedly.

  • A cosmopolitan's regrets: Roger Cohen on the Jewish condition
    • 1. Not all Jewish families' stories ended in Zionism. Therefore it was not inexorable.

      2. Is feeling comfortable really the most important thing in life, overriding all else?

      3. The world being as it is, isn't there something wrong with a person who can feel totally comfortable in it?

      4. Surely anti-Semitism is not the only thing that can make a Jew uncomfortable? But if there are other sources of discomfort, then won't they be present in Israel too?

  • Ari Shavit pimps AIPAC in Scarsdale
    • Why then didn't he say "moderate Moslem"? Not all Sunnis are pro-American, are they? Al-Qaeda is Sunni. I expect he wanted to convey the impression of being knowledgeable about the Moslem world.

  • New leftwing anti-semitism is when Jews feel 'attacked' over Israel's conduct
    • The British institute seems to be saying that something is anti-Semitic if it makes a sufficiently large percentage of Jews FEEL under attack, if they FEEL that it is anti-Semitic. The criticism does not have to be intended as an attack on Jews; there does not have to be any rational basis to the feeling -- it suffices that the feeling exists (or, rather, that these Jews SAY they feel that way). The assessment depends on an inner state that no one else is in a position to verify. It amounts to claiming the right to censor as illegitimate anything you want to censor, without providing any further rationale.

  • One state in historic Palestine, but -- what kind of state?
    • I'm just warning what may happen unless more attention is paid to the economic aspects of a democratic single-state solution.

    • What basically happened in South Africa is that a deal was brokered between the ANC and the white corporate and landowning elites (and behind them the institutions of global capitalism) by which formal political equality was established but existing property relations were left untouched. The abolition of apartheid could be regarded as a first step toward a just solution; the problem was that the first step was made strictly conditional on no further steps being taken.

      At a certain stage in the Palestinian struggle something similar might happen in Palestine/Israel. Those Palestinians who do not have formal political rights would receive them, but subject to built-in constraints on their use -- for instance, severely limiting the restoration of former Palestinian land rights. These constraints might be justified in terms of partly preserving the Jewish character of the state (a sort of minimal or watered-down Zionism). The formal right of return might even be ceded, in the knowledge that only a few Palestinians would have access to the means of livelihood (land, capital, jobs) needed to exercise the right of return and actually resettle in Palestine.

      An example of such a constrained right of return is the situation of the Crimean Tatars deported from Crimea in 1944. They were eventually allowed to return to Crimea but not to their old houses and lands, which remained in the possession of the families (mainly Russian) that took their place after the deportation. They are still confined to marginal land and eke out a bare subsistence.

      So it would make sense to work out an alternative to this scenario in advance -- some arrangement that would be a little less unjust while still not hopelessly unrealistic.

  • Chair of Democratic National Committee opposes Jewish intermarriage and MSNBC showing Gaza carnage
    • It's hard to imagine only because real anti-Semitism is nowadays so marginal in US politics (and the difficulty of imagining it is a good sign of that marginality). But there are people who fear the dissolution of WASP identity and intermarriage is on the list of things they worry about, though not very high on the list compared to Hispanic immigration, say. And some of them perceive intermarriage with Jews as having a specially corrupting effect.

    • The Zionists WANT to be "hated for what they are." They are addicted to anti-Semitism. They crave it. It confirms and strengthens their ideology. When they say "we are hated for what we are" they are actually pleading: "Please, please, please hate us for what we are, as you did in the good old days, so that we do not have to look critically at what we do."

      Loving them may not help, but hating them entrenches their delusions more deeply. The best response is: "We do not hate YOU. We hate what you DO" -- because that directly challenges their delusion about why they are hated. (Isn't there a Christian saying about "hating the sin not the sinner?")

  • Charlie Hebdo: The sacred of the 'wretched of the Earth' and its desecration
    • I accept the need to be tactful and respectful of others' sacredness and especially the sacredness of the oppressed and colonized. But can we also acknowledge that who is oppressed and colonized and who is oppressor and colonizer varies over space and time? Before the Spanish conquest the Incas were themselves colonizers, so were the Arabians at the time of Islam's ascendancy. And even today the Christians of Pakistan, for example, are oppressed by supposedly Moslem rulers. Pakistani Christians punished on false charges of insulting the Prophet would be surprised to learn that this is not prohibited. What the author says is perfectly valid for the here and now of France or the US, but we shall never understand our situation if we remain wholly anchored in the here and now. People are inevitably influenced by what they know of other places and remember of other times.

  • How Rahat became a symbol of Israeli inequality
    • Masada was a victory -- over the greater evil of enslavement. At any rate that is how Israelis see it. Soldiers take their oath there (or used to). American soldiers do not take their oath at Waco. At some level the Israelis know that mass murder-suicide is the logical culmination of Zionism, as Masada was of the revolt against Rome. That is no reason to renounce Zionism because it is also a glorious culmination -- as glorious as the murder-suicide of any Moslem jihadi.

  • Phila Inquirer publishes a lie: 'Anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are one and the same'
  • How a culture remembers its crimes is important: A review of 'American Sniper'
    • It reminds me of a point Chomsky often made about the American war in Vietnam. The establishment consider It permissible to question American competence and good judgment, provided the assumption that the US has good intentions is maintained.

  • Diaspora Jews are not in 'exile,' they are at home
  • #JeSuisUnJuifBritannique
    • It's very hard to disentangle the "ethnic" from the "religious." Historically Jewish identity is so deeply immersed in religion that even atheists who wish to preserve a Jewish identity are forced back into religious practices. For instance, my father, who did not believe in God and thought of himself as a communist, nonetheless had me circumcised (under the false guise of a medical procedure). He paid a considerable sum each year to reserve a good seat in the synagogue (just in case he might want to go, as he explained) but never went. Both my sister and I married non-Jews: our parents accepted it but did not hide the fact that they would have been happier if we had married "Jews" (ideally atheist Jews, of course). None of these contradictions is in the least atypical. Opinion surveys are quite incapable of probing them, only in-depth interviewing, preferably under hypnosis, might do so.

    • Cohen's "loyalty to Israel" should not be taken at face value. It is probably just a rhetorical device to deflect Zionist ire (safer to preface criticism with "I love Israel but").

      My impression from living the first 40 years of my life in Britain (which I agree is basically a very tolerant society, certainly from a comparative perspective) is that mainstream British Jews want to be loyal to both Britain and Israel at the same time. They are British patriots and Zionists simultaneously. This is a totally illogical stance, but there you are.

      On the historical evolution, my impression (e.g., from talking with my parents) is that Zionism initially took hold among British Jews with some difficulty. One major reason was that their loyalties were torn by the conflict between the British mandatory authorities in Palestine and the Zionist underground. Most were shocked by the blowing up of the King David Hotel and other acts of Zionist terrorism.

    • Not only do Yorkshire and Lancashire people tend to be very different in character, but the War of the Roses between York and Lancaster is still fresh in their minds, having ended a mere half a millennium ago (in 1487). Give them time.

  • ICC opens war crimes inquiry into Israel over Gaza war as Palestinians prepare another UN resolution
    • "Peace requires compromise." So if Israel already possesses, say, 90 percent of Palestine, the Palestinians must agree to a settlement that gives Israel 95 percent. If in the meantime Israel grabs some more and reaches, say, 98 percent, leaving only 2 percent, then the Palestinians must agree to make do with just 1 percent. Only a fanatic would object.

      Clausewitz pointed out that the occupier always wants peace, which he interprets as submission to occupation.

  • It's not the cartoons-- a contrarian perspective from a Muslim cartoonist
    • The cartoon as a genre has a long tradition of making the target look ugly and repulsive. It is not a form of rational criticism but relies on inducing a feeling of disgust in the reader. The whole tradition is one of bigotry. Katie Miranda's cartoons do not belong to this tradition. Her drawings are emotionally neutral. Her aim is to make the reader think.

    • Abu Bakr announced the death of Mohamed in the following words: "Let those who worship Mohamed know that Mohamed is dead. Let those who worship God know that God will never die."

  • Netanyahu crashes Paris unity march, French gov't fumes
    • I agree. Doesn't France have border controls? Why didn't Hollande issue instructions that no Israelis should be allowed entry until after the march? Or better still he could have used the opportunity to arrest Netanyahu and put him on trial.

  • 'With God’s help, the journalists at Haaretz will be murdered just like in France': Death threats follow publication of cartoon in Israeli newspaper
    • In response to Keith: I'm not sure. The English are (relatively) tolerant but that doesn't mean they lack internal cohesion. I think intolerance reflects a sense of being under constant threat, which is a form of weakness not strength.

    • "Tribe" is a technical term in anthropology, like clan, caste, etc. If it applies why not use it? Nowadays tribalism is regarded as passé if not regressive, so it is rarely used in a positive sense, whether in reference to Jews or not.

  • A tale of two tests
    • But if non-government terrorists come to power they can then retroactively legitimize their past terrorism. So if you are going in for terrorism it is best to make it succeed. "Treason never prospers because if it prospers none dare call it treason" (Hamlet, I think).

  • Jo Roberts on Jewish trauma, the Nakba, and the olive tree
    • Ultimately, given the dense intermixture and interdependence of the two peoples in a single territory, I don't see how they can manage without a common narrative. Certainly a single democratic secular nation would require such a narrative in order to avoid the Lebanese scenario. Allowing space for two narratives is a step toward their integration into a single narrative. Ilan Pappe has made a first attempt at combining the narratives in his History of Palestine. The main prerequisite is for people to see themselves first and foremost as human beings and only after that as Jews, Arabs, and whatnot.

  • Hillel exec likens Open Hillel to biblical rebel against Moses who was swallowed up by the earth
    • Aaron and Miriam also questioned Moses' authority by opposing his marriage to a Cushite (Ethiopian) woman. Miriam was punished with a nasty skin disease but God made her well again after seven days when Moses interceded for her. Aaron wasn't punished at all. It seems a bit excessive in this context for Korach to have been swallowed up alive, but then unlike Aaron and Miriam he wasn't related to Moses.

      What does Mr. Fingerhut think about intermarriage? I would expect that as a Zionist and tribalist he would be on the side of Aaron and Miriam. But that would mean that he too questions Moses' authority and is hardly in a position to condemn Korach.

  • Anti-Semitism at Fordham?
    • Anger, fear, joy, anxiety etc. -- those are feelings. But "being a victim of antisemitism" is not a feeling (though no doubt it is accompanied by feelings): it is a perception. Feelings are subjective, but perceptions are beliefs about reality and are open to criticism as such. "I feel that I am being a victim of antisemitism" confuses the two concepts; the sentence should start "I think" or "I believe."

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  • 'NYT' reporter says Palestinians must make 'concessions... they have long avoided'
    • The Israelis demand that the Palestinians give up any presence in Jerusalem, completely abandon the "right of return," accept the big settlement blocs, accept Israeli control of borders, water and airspace, and formally renounce any possibility of seeking a better deal at a later date. In exchange they will evacuate a few more small isolated settlements (with maximum drama), allow a modest expansion of the ghettoes under PA control, and grant the formal dignity of a "Palestinian state" (Palestinostan). They are living in cloud-cuckoo land to imagine that the PA could retain the minimum of legitimacy that it needs to perform its functions for Israel if it signs such a lopsided settlement. But then they are used to having their own way in everything. To discover that the Palestinians do have a few factors working in their favor and that they are not quite so totally at the mercy of Israel as they thought is therefore painful to them and they talk gibberish about how terrible it is that the Palestinians have some leverage.

  • Against self-determination
    • I sympathize with what Phil says and went through a similar evolution (in the slightly different British context). But I think we should be tolerant of the aspiration of ethnic groups for self-determination in situations where the only realistic alternative seems to be unbearable oppression within a hostile state. That might apply to the non-Arab minorities in Sudan or the Abkhaz in Georgia as well as Palestine.

      My other point here is that while "self-determination" is usually interpreted to mean independent ethnically based statehood it does not have to be interpreted that way. It might take the form of a guaranteed level of representation to protect a vulnerable group, such as what Dr. Ambedkar was trying to achieve for India's Untouchables.

  • Dershowitz named in lawsuit alleging abuse of underage sex slave
  • Leading rabbi tells Arab ambassador not to 'shlep' Kerry's view of Palestine into discussion of religion and terrorism
    • Osama bin Laden got the idea of blowing up the Twin Towers from watching on TV Israeli bombing of skyscrapers in Beirut. His reaction was: why can't we do that? He was directly emulating Israel.

  • Meet the Falics: West Bank settlement funders, Netanyahu backers, and owners of Duty Free America
  • On eve of University of California honor, Bill Maher defends anti-Muslim hate speech in Vanity Fair interview
    • Maher: "They didn’t do a study of treatment of women around the world and find that the Jews were at the bottom of it."

      In fact, the claim that "the Jews" were responsible for the white slave traffic (as trafficking in women for prostitution was then called) was a significant theme in anti-Semitic propaganda.

  • Ari Roth is fired by DC Jewish center -- after staging Nakba play
    • Nothing wrong with crises, personal or otherwise. They are opportunities for growth. What cowardice to try to avoid them at the expense of others' suffering!

    • Why does Peter Marks in the article quoted from the Washington Post refer to the author of "Return to Haifa" only as "a spokesman for the PFLP" without giving his name -- as though the only thing about him that matters is his political affiliation? Don't Palestinians, even celebrated writers who are Palestinians, have names? Isn't that a form of dehumanization?

      His name was Ghassan Kanafani.

  • We're all anti-American now
    • The fact that so many people from Mexico or Haiti are desperate to get into the US is largely a result of policies that the US has imposed on these countries, destroying the livelihoods of their small farmers in the interests of US agribusiness.

    • Not quite everywhere perhaps? Costa Rica, which has no armed forces? Do they torture people in Denmark?

      On the other side, the US compares favorably with many countries in the sense that this has all come out into the open, though it took some time.

  • 'Racist, fascist bullshit'-- Marcel Ophuls exposes Islamophobia in Israel
    • No, what is unfair is that the careers of other critics will be damaged because they are not Jewish. What is fair is that no one should be persecuted for their opinions, not that everyone should be persecuted without discrimination.

  • After deadly attack Netanyahu vows ‘iron fist’ as clashes and closures rock Jerusalem
    • There is a crude anti-Islamism that does entail hatred of Moslems and may be racist despite Islam not being a race, because in the popular imagination Moslems are perceived as nonwhite (white Moslems having low visibility).

      There is also an intellectual anti-Islamism that targets Islam as a system of belief and practice but not Moslems as people, who may be regarded as victims both of Islam and of crude anti-Islamism. Many intellectual anti-Islamists are themselves former Moslems whose relatives are still Moslems.

      Anti-Judaism exists in analogous crude and intellectual variants. The crude kind is also called anti-Semitism. The existence of anti-Semitism does not delegitimize intellectual anti-Judaism (many of whose adepts are themselves of Jewish origin).

  • The hidden documents that reveal the true borders of Israel and Palestine (Updated)
  • A visit to Auschwitz
    • I don't see the point of your visit. Auschwitz as death factory and Auschwitz as tourist park are the "same place" only in the trivial geographical sense. Auschwitz and Vorkuta, for instance, are the "same place" in a more essential sense despite being several thousand miles apart. Reading a survivor's memoir would give you deeper insight than visiting Auschwitz (if you had to choose between them). Especially when the guide has no real understanding of what happened there or is conducting an indoctrination exercise and the tourist lacks the knowledge to realize that.

  • An open letter to Birthright participants past, present, and future
    • Marnie: If this is what Hannah Friedstein means, I can understand and share your reaction to it. But perhaps it isn't what she means. It would be interesting to have a response from her.

      I think there can be various motives for inserting the "I'm a Jew" bit, depending who the spiel is aimed at. It can be a protest against the claims of Zionists to represent Jews. It can be an appeal to distinguish between Jews and Zionists, aimed at people you fear may come to hate Jews in reaction to Israel's crimes. It can be a way of reassuring yourself that Zionist accusations that you are a "traitor to your people" are false.

  • Anti-semitism charge is increasingly being leveled against Israel's mainstream critics
  • British Parliament sends a message to Obama: the people see Israel as a 'bully'
    • While we are on the subject of the Balfour Declaration, let us remember Edwin Montagu -- the only member of the Cabinet at the time who was Jewish and the only member of the Cabinet who voted against the Declaration. In a memo he wrote to explain his opposition to Zionism he exposed the link between Zionism and anti-Semitism, predicted the Nakba, and suggested that Zionists be disenfranchised as traitors. See:

      link to

  • Shlomo Sand resigns from being Jewish. Totally. Mostly. Almost
    • I now think of identity neither as fixed and unchangeable nor as something that we are completely free to choose, but rather as a JOURNEY whose starting point is imposed on us but whose course we are to some extent free to shape (subject to various constraints).

    • You can. Why not? Especially now that we know so much about the intelligence and sensitivity of certain non-human species such as whales and bonobos, we could adopt an identity broader than just human. That would also prepare us for any encounters with extraterrestrial intelligence (should we be so lucky).

  • Wiesel lauds settlers for 'strengthening the Jewish presence in Jerusalem' -- and expelling Palestinians
    • Even if Wiesel were completely honest and even if he were neutral on the I-P conflict, I would still not understand why he should be so admired and celebrated merely for talking about the suffering of Jews, i.e., "his own" people. It is the most commonplace thing in the world to care about "one's own" people. Tibetans, Scots, Greeks, Vietnamese, Ibo, and so ad infinitum -- they all care about "their own." Only those who care about people who are not "their own" and especially about people who are the victims and enemies of "their own" deserve any kudos or respect.

  • Israel and the g-word
    • If I am asked whether I am Jewish and I want to answer honestly, I say only that I am of Jewish origin. I am tempted just to say yes for two reasons. First, it is a way of avoiding complicated explanations and arguments -- but I should regard such explanations and arguments as a worthwhile opportunity, shouldn't I? Second, there is the hope that opposition to Israel and Zionism will have greater impact coming from someone who calls him/herself a Jew. What do others think about that?

      Regarding ethnic cleansing, it is the same thing as forcible transfer only if "force" is given a broad interpretation. Rather than force people out at gunpoint, it is possible to make life so unbearable to them that they will get out "voluntarily." Israel has used both methods. Yesterday I read an article in The Guardian Weekly about Palestinians who are so desperate to get out of Gaza that they pay large sums to people smugglers for a small chance of reaching Europe, even knowing that it is more likely that they will drown in the Mediterranean.

  • Ofra Yeshua-Lyth and the case for a new Israeli left
    • Leftists have understandable reasons for not wanting to open the can of worms labeled "religion" -- especially in the Middle East, where openly opposing religion is still equivalent in many countries to signing one's own death warrant. Marxism provides a convenient theoretical justification for avoiding the issue. Moreover, criticism of one religion often implies criticism of all religions, especially when the main religions are as closely related as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. For example, when I criticized admiration of the Jewish patriarch for being willing to sacrifice his son I was aiming at Judaism, but Moslem readers of Mondoweiss were among those who took offense -- this is a story shared by all the religions of the book. So it is safest not to criticize any of those religions and claim that religion is irrelevant to the conflict, which is at best a half-truth (i.e., a half-lie).

    • I agree with bilal a. Besides these not so united states, post-apartheid South Africa is a good example. Although a small stratum of nonwhites have profited from the change of regime and some forms of oppression have been abolished (the pass system), wealth remains concentrated in white hands. White landowners continue to mistreat their black laborers, white-owned companies continue to exploit black miners. In the same way, Jewish supremacy could survive the transition to a secular "democratic" state. So why not continue to call it "Israel"?

  • Read the genocidal sermon a notable Atlanta rabbi gave this Rosh Hashanah
    • Mooser is right to ask what Marx, Einstein or Freud has to do with "Jewish culture." I think their work was part of general European culture. Marx drew on British political economy, French political thought and German philosophy. Einstein worked within the transnational and trans-ethnic enterprise of science. Freud belonged to the culture of central Europe.

      But Bryan is also right and could have made his point without bringing in the dubious concept of Jewish culture. Thinkers like M, E and F did owe something to their Jewish origin, which helped to block their full absorption into any particular national culture and open their minds to diverse influences (admittedly only within European confines). They exemplify the contribution that people of Jewish origin can make to humanity by remaining in the diaspora and resisting the siren call of Zionism, which is a cultural as well as a political and moral dead end.

    • The term "redneck" is itself an expression of class and sometimes racial contempt for poor white people (like "white trash").

      A remark on idols. Islam inherits the tradition of smashing idols from Judaism -- more precisely, from Abraham of Ur, the forefather of the Jewish tribe. Does the good rabbi renounce this tradition?

  • Ilan Pappé on Israel’s 'post-Zionist moment' and the triumph of 'neo-Zionism'
    • The message aimed at the Israeli public, including children, is now that the Nakba happened and was justified. I was referring to the messages aimed at the international audience. There is as yet no uniform message. The Zionists seem to be trying out alternative approaches. Individuals like Richard Cohen are testing the waters to see whether a non-Israeli readership will swallow the neo-Zionist message neat. I think they will discover that such a frank approach does not succeed. The United States may be a partial exception, but I think most of the world will not swallow it. The official Israeli hasbara of "Brand Israel" prefers to remain silent on these distasteful matters and divert attention away from them. Well, that too will not work very well.

    • The idea of Zionism as scaffolding that is only needed during construction of the "Jewish" state is helpful in understanding the post-Zionist point of view. But the scaffolding becomes superfluous only when the Palestinians cease to resist their displacement. Otherwise the state loses its "Jewish" character and the Zionist project is defeated. Oslo inspired the hope that the Palestinians would indeed cease to resist in exchange for Israel abandoning its maximal goal of a "Jewish" state in the whole of Palestine and accepting the pre-1967 borders as permanent. Israel might then have started to remove the Zionist scaffolding and progress to a post-Zionist phase. That is why the post-Zionists flourished in the mid-1990s when many Israelis (rightly or wrongly) saw this as a real prospect. In fact, this would also have required reaching a mutually tolerable modus vivendi with the Palestinian citizens of Israel, though this requirement was mostly overlooked.

  • 'Ethnic cleansing for a better world' -- Richard Cohen says Palestinians brought the Nakba on themselves
    • The Mixteca of pre-Columbian Mexico (Oaxaca province) used names that combined a number with the name of an animal, e.g. Eight Leopard or Seven Lizard.

    • Only if the ethnic cleansers are more "cultured" than they are. But how are cultural levels to be measured and compared? It seems, for instance, that Palestinians write a greater quantity of poetry per capita than Jews… How about a TV reality show in which the contestants compete to demonstrate their "cultural" prowess and the winners get to drown the losers in the sea? What fun!

      Seriously, though, Cohen's main argument is based on the erroneous claim that war led to the ethnic cleansing. In fact, the direction of causation was the opposite: the ethnic cleansing was conducted for several months against peaceful civilians before it finally provoked armed resistance. What happened later cannot explain (let alone justify) what happened earlier.

  • Netanyahu heads to New York to ‘refute all the lies’ and praise ‘the most moral army in the world’
    • Netanyahu is indeed reported as referring to "Abu Mazen's inciteful speech" -- but my online thesaurus and dictionary do not recognize any such word as "inciteful" (whenever I type it a line of red dots appears underneath). He must have said "insightful," which has the same pronunciation.

  • Anti-Zionist train makes stop at Washington Post
    • The Germans were reeducated almost successfully AFTER being completely defeated militarily. Defeat is a great reeducator. The Zionists can't be defeated militarily because they have nukes. Perhaps economically.

  • Goldberg tries to police view that Israel's actions fuel anti-Semitism
    • Mooser: There is no logic in your reading the idea of "unified Jewishness" into what I said. You have a real talent for misconstruing what others say and trying to pick a fight on that basis. I didn't say anything at all about how Jews feel. I agree that many Jews also resent these constraints or at least have mixed feelings about them. But many others feel protected by them and are willing to pay a price for that (delusory in my opinion) protection.

    • It seems to me that Mr. Goldberg is defending a claim to hyper-protected status for Jews (my term) that delegitimizes and smears as anti-Semitic opposition to any Jewish practice, institution or belief, past or present -- not only Israel but also, for instance, circumcision, ritual slaughter of animals, sexual abuse of children by rabbis, or even Jewish money-lending practices in the Middle Ages. All such issues are excluded from the public sphere and go underground, where they cannot be dealt with rationally and fester, creating understandable resentment among non-Jews and the potential for an anti-Semitic reaction that must eventually explode into the open. Thus hyper-protection is not in the real interest of the hyper-protected group, quite apart from the moral corruption it causes.

    • Would you insist that the recent outburst of hostility against Chinese people in Vietnam has absolutely nothing to do with the state policy of China toward that country?

  • The rabbi at the shitshow
  • Yale official barred discussion of Israeli settlements and apartheid at monthly meeting
  • Rabbi in Ohio U. controversy leads group that denies there's an occupation
    • Talkback: "In the Third Reich only Aryans were nationals and the rest only citizens."

      That is correct only for the first two years of the Third Reich. The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 deprived Jews and other "non-Aryans" of citizenship.

  • Encounter at a post office
  • 'NYT' finds a model relationship for Palestinians and Israelis: collaborator and his handler
    • An autobiography of the "green prince" entitled "Son of Hamas" was published in 2010. I do not believe that it was written without guidance, censorship and quite possibly extensive ghostwriting by the Israeli secret service, on which the author has been totally dependent (even for his life) since his defection. All the same, read with care it is quite revealing. The "prince" was trusted in Hamas on account of his father, who headed Hamas on the West Bank, but he lacked the toughness needed in a resistance fighter. While in prison he agreed to work for the Israelis because he dreaded the tortures they had in store for him. Whatever ideological justification he later thought up for himself was just a way of putting a good face on that raw circumstance. I am sure that he too hates Israel for what it did to him, although he is not free to express it. I think we should have compassion for people like him -- they too are victims of Zionism.

  • Yale Jewish center to hold 'intellectual' panel on storm over ousted priest's comments-- without inviting the priest
    • Mooser: So we get to be big tough Sabras until somebody says something we don't like, and then we're all runty cheder boys being beaten up by the Poles? Which is it?

      We are big tough Sabras who imagine that we are still runty cheder boys being beaten up by the goyim, demand the sympathy due to such pitiful victims, and beat up anyone who refuses to play along.

  • The rise of 'If Not Now' and the collapse of the pro-Israel consensus
    • Why regard Husseini's testimony as so authoritative?

      Even assuming that up to 1937 all Jewish land had been legally purchased from its previous owners, I would say -- yes, the occupation had already begun at that date. Because as a result of these deals with mostly absentee landlords (effendi) the people who had actually tilled the land for unnumbered generations were evicted from their homes and native places, and this was the beginning of the process of evicting more and more Palestinians from their homes and native places -- a process later continued by extralegal as well as legal means.

      There is no special reason why Palestine, or any other country, should not have Jewish residents. But there is ample reason for Palestine to keep out Zionists. And the emotional manipulation to which you resort when you use in this very different context a German word associated with the Holocaust is truly shameless.

  • Guess who's invited to Open Hillel's first conference? Students for Justice in Palestine
    • Interesting about the P-word. I think it is felt that the existence of Palestinians cannot be acknowledged without also acknowledging the injustice done them. A Jewish woman I met at a wedding recently had a curious reaction when I used the word "Palestinians": she looked puzzled and repeated the word carefully after me. It was evidently a word she was not accustomed to hearing.

      But there was a brief period at the start of the "peace process" when the P-word penetrated Zionist discourse, wasn't there? And then it was pushed out again.

  • I quit my job at the Jewish Community Center over a pro-Israel rally and they called me an anti-semite
    • Keith: True, Adelson is not just a capitalist out to make money. That is only one of the two crucial facts about him. The other is that he is a Zionist. The problem is wealthy Zionists who use their money to support Israel. But the fact that he is also a Jew is NOT crucial because (a) there are Jews, even wealthy Jews, who are not Zionists; and b) there are Zionists, even wealthy Zionists, who are not Jews. Wealthy Zionist Christian fundamentalists are a significant part of the problem. So I object to the term "Jewish power" because it is inaccurate (the problem is Zionist power), because it unfairly implicates me and others like me who are Jewish without having significant power, and because it is associated with the classical anti-Semitic theory of a world Jewish conspiracy (though I acknowledge that not everyone who uses the term believes in that sort of theory).

    • Mooser: I was too schematic. I should have worded my point more carefully. Of course there are all sorts of permutations.

      There may also be a generational factor. You and I grew up at a time when Zionism and Judaism had not yet been effectively fused, so it was relatively easy for us to sense the difference. It is more difficult for the new generation who are presented with an apparently seamless package.

    • Keith: 'Anyone criticizing Zionism is taken to Mondo's bosom…' Yes, it's a matter of uniting against the main enemy. Or prioritizing the most urgent goal. Doesn't that make sense (within limits)? Jewish tribalism may be objectionable in itself, but it would be much less dangerous if it did not have a powerful nuclear-armed state at its disposal.

      Bear in mind also that those of us who had an intensive Jewish upbringing tend to go through a certain sequence of stages. At the first stage it is natural for us to separate ourselves from Zionism by using the intellectual tools at our immediate disposal -- that is, to borrow or try to create a specifically Jewish anti-Zionism, which may still be tribalist in some ways. Later on many of us are able to rethink that stance as we broaden our perspective.

  • Judaism's hijacking by Zionists drives 70% of secular Jews to marry non-Jews-- Koppman at Huffpo
    • Some of the laws in the Torah are not observed at all nowadays -- for instance, the command that blasphemers be stoned to death in front of the whole congregation. Terrible, isn't it?

  • The Palestinian message to Israel: Deal with us justly. Or disappear
    • A post-Zionist government could take the initiative and enter into negotiations with various countries to take joint measures that would encourage Israelis originally from those countries to return. It will depend on conditions in specific countries at the time. Who would voluntarily return to Iraq at present, for instance?

      However, many Israelis were born in Palestine. Many have parents and even grandparents who were born in Palestine and no longer have significant ties with any other country. That is a reality that might as well be faced.

      While the majority will probably adapt or leave, there might be a hard core who prefer to fight to the death or commit suicide en masse. Remember that Israeli soldiers take their oath at Massada.

  • WATCH: Ultra-Zionists protest Muslim-Jewish wedding saying miscegenation is 'gravest threat to the Jewish people'
    • I just discovered that BJP politicians in India are waging a campaign against the same phenomenon of Moslem men attracting Hindu (in this case) women. They call it "love Jihad" and claim that international terrorist groups are behind it. The response they advocate is to teach Hindu women karate! See:

      link to

    • Russian has two words corresponding to "Jew" -- yevrei means Jew in the "ethnic" sense, yudaist in the religious sense. (Actually Judaist does exist in English but is rarely used.) Not all yudaisty are yevrei and in Russia today the majority of yevrei are Christian or atheist.

      At certain times and places Jews have constituted a separate group in terms of language and culture, such as Yiddish speakers in 19th century Russia or Ladino speakers among Jews of Spanish origin. Then there are Falashas from Ethiopia, Bukharan Jews, Tat-speaking "mountain Jews" from the Caucasus, etc. So Jews have belonged to various ethnic groups, some of them specifically Jewish and many others not. They are certainly not a single ethnic group, but nor is an ethnic element in their identity always absent.

      Zionism has created a completely new ethnic group of Ivrit speakers who are mostly but not wholly of Jewish origin.

    • It's a little too convenient to blame Zionism for everything unpleasant about Jewish life. Jews were hostile to intermarriage long before Zionism entered the equation. It was customary to mourn a son or daughter who had married out as though he or she were dead and then never speak of him or her again. One of my uncles who married a Gentile was ostracized by his mother and two of his three siblings (my mother being the exception). His mother finally relented when she received a letter from his daughter. I expect that many other Jewish Mondoweiss readers could recount similar family dramas. Tribalist attitudes can exist even among anti-Zionist Jews though they make a good fit with Zionism and I think these protestors are Zionists as well as tribalists.

    • Can someone explain how a "mixed" wedding is even possible in Israel? I thought such couples had to go abroad to get married (usually to Cyprus).

  • 'NYT' journey to Israel/Palestine to be led by Israeli 'expert' who called on countrymen to 'kill and kill' Palestinians
    • The heads of the SS were also very concerned that "the men who have to do the killing" should remain "decent" family men. They concluded that this required the use of technological means that minimize face-to-face contact with the victims.

      The Nazis also believed that they were acting in preventive self-defense. In his Posen speech to SS officers on 6 October 1943, Heinrich Himmler said: "We had the moral right, we had the duty to our own people to destroy this people that wanted to destroy us." Rudolf Hoss quotes Himmler as telling his subordinates: "If we do not exterminate the Jews, the Jews will exterminate the Germans at a later date."

      In the same speech at Posen Himmler referred to Slavs as "these human animals" -- the same expression used by Soffer.

      Source: link to

  • As Salaita's case becomes a cause, U of Illinois issues declarations on 'civility'
    • I think a distinction should be drawn between what a professor says in a professional capacity, especially in teaching, and what s/he says as a private person. A high standard of objectivity, sensitivity and respect is desirable in the professional role, but that does not negate the right to a more passionate expression of views outside of the work role. Twitter messages to friends belong to the private sphere and it is illegitimate to use them to discredit someone's professionalism.

      In practice, of course, it is often difficult to keep the two roles separate, and there is certainly a double standard. It is hard to imagine a professor getting into trouble for expressing "malice" toward Hamas, for instance.

  • Mr. Netanyahu, what is your endgame?
  • 'Common Dreams' website traps Hasbara troll spewing anti-Semitism
    • This guy is not a lone nutcase. He belongs to a time-honored Zionist tradition of provoking, encouraging, and if "necessary" faking anti-Semitism. In order to stampede Jews in Egypt and Iraq to Israel in the early 1950s, Zionist agents not only distributed anti-Semitic leaflets but also blew up cafes frequented by Jews.

  • My personal BDS
    • I should add to my last comment that good relations with Jews did not necessarily save Palestinians even from massacre. Tantura apparently had friendly relations with the neighboring Jewish settlement but there was a massacre there (see, e.g., Hana Gabriel's documentary at link to I suppose that in many cases the killers did not know what kind of relations a particular village had had with Jews -- or care.

    • Marnie: Learning to "experience" the Holocaust in a personal way is intrinsic to Zionist indoctrination. There is a brilliant documentary about it by the Israeli filmmaker Yoav Shamir (entitled "Defamation"). Indeed, learning to relate in this way to the tribal past (as conventionally "remembered") is part of Judaic indoctrination too. The Hagadah (the guide to conducting the Passover seder) explicitly teaches that we (Jews) are obliged to imagine the escape of the ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt as though we had experienced it personally. And this is an event from a past even more remote than the Holocaust, if it happened at all.

      On another point, the anonymous Israeli colleague should not be allowed to get away with this:

      "Those [Palestinians] who were not suspected of being potentially hostile were allowed to stay, so ethnicity is not the issue."

      From what I have read (e.g. Pappe's book) this is simply untrue. The inhabitants of most of the villages considered "friendly to the Jews" were expelled. Some villagers were saved because neighboring Jewish settlements wanted to continue exploiting their labor. At most a history of good relations with Jews might save Palestinians from massacre, but not from expulsion.

  • Salaita’s stellar teaching record exposes political motivation behind his firing
    • Good point, lysias. Whatever a professor might say on any controversial topic, it is bound to discomfort (or offend or upset) someone. It is impossible to talk in a way that complies with the rule never to discomfort anyone. As the saying goes, "you can't please everyone, so you might as well please yourself."

      So the implicit rule is really: do not discomfort people of a certain kind. To be more specific, I think it means: do not discomfort people with conventional views. People with unconventional views such as your communist student (or it could be a socialist, anarchist, satanist, etc.) are routinely discomforted and no one gives a damn. It is a sort of class system.

      I am unsure about JeffB's claim that the "comfortable" norm has its origin in protests against hostile work environments. It doesn't seem to me an adequate explanation. If he is right, then the original meaning of the norm has been extended almost beyond recognition. Bullying, insulting or humiliating people is hardly the same as politely and respectfully challenging their opinions.

    • Clearly some role is played in this by the idea that people have a right to feel "comfortable" (at least psychologically). This seems to be an American cultural norm of sorts. Does anyone know how it developed? It is directly opposed to the spirit of real education because anything that conflicts with our deep beliefs is bound to cause discomfort.

  • Ari Shavit calls out every brutality, except the ones Israel is complicit in
    • There is an implication in Shavit's defense of the Nakba that he may not be too keen to draw out. If the right of people living in a country to stay there can be overridden by the right of other people to expel them because they have greater need of that country, then the right of Israeli Jews to remain where they are can be overridden on the same grounds. Given the plight of the Palestinians in Syria, for instance, don't they need Palestine more?

  • More Orientalist insinuations in the New York Times
  • US branch of the Jewish 'family' owes the homeland 'unconditional love' -- Rosner
    • samlebon2306: Why would they need the US when they have God?

      The trouble with God is that now and then he loses patience with the Jews and visits destruction on them (see the Bible). The US is more reliable.

  • Watch: Young Israeli Jew at Western Wall calls for 'another war and another war and another war and another war'
    • I think the desire for peace is genuine, but what it means is peace -- an untroubled life -- for their own collective, i.e., for Israel and Jews. Not for anyone else. The traditional song-prayer for peace "Oseh shalom" makes this meaning explicit, culminating in the line: "Shalom aleinu ve'al kol Israel" (Peace to us and to all Israel). The Israeli folk singer Mosh Ben Ari tried to detribalize the message by changing the line to: "Shalom aleinu ve'al kol ha'olam" (Peace to us and to all the world) -- and also introducing an Arabic version. But the original better fits the sentiments of the people in this video.

  • Professor Salaita was fired for disagreeing too vehemently with Professor Nelson
    • When I was on the faculty of Brown University I was on a hiring committee a number of times. The question of how pleasant or unpleasant it would be to have a certain candidate as a colleague was always part of the discussion. Sometimes the "clubby" criterion was crucial to the outcome. I expect it is much the same everywhere.

  • 'One nation, one state, one leader' -- frightening slogan at Tel Aviv protest
    • Chris Hedges also makes the point that Israeli lies make dialogue impossible:

      "The Big Lie destroys any possibility of history and therefore any hope for a dialogue between antagonistic parties that can be grounded in truth and reality" (Why Israel Lies, link to

    • I have tried "dialogue" with Israelis, but I have found it extremely frustrating and exhausting because they are so tricky. They ignore points you make that they don't like and they absolutely refuse to consider anything from a different point of view. They constantly lie, evade, equivocate, shift goalposts, contradict themselves, etc. If they feel that a line of argument is not leading where they want it to lead, they refuse to continue with it and change the subject. If you say anything they find offensive they become abusive or hysterical. It is not real dialogue but a form of verbal warfare. So it is Israelis themselves who make dialogue impossible. I know there are exceptions, but they are rare.

    • Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer

  • 'A blind evil rage that increased forever, day and night' --Mads Gilbert on Operation Protective Edge
    • Yes, this is a crucial point that the floods of propaganda against Hamas and Hezbollah obscure and are meant to obscure, irrespective of the extent to which specific propaganda claims are true or false. Israel hates the Islamists not because they seek to establish a caliphate, not because they oppress women, not because they advocate barbaric punishments, and so on and so forth, but simply because they are among "the most resilient" in fighting the occupation. Israel has nothing against Islamists who accept the occupation (if such exist). If the majority of Palestinians were Buddhists, we would hear endless propaganda about the evils of Buddhism. Less hypothetically, if the leading forces of resistance to the occupation were not Islamists but secular leftists such as the PFLP then we would again hear much less about Islam -- instead Palestinians would be demonized as dangerous reds (like Jews used to be). Is the Shabak any softer on PFLP militants out of appreciation for their progressive positions on social issues? The very idea is ridiculous.

  • On being accused of anti-semitism by well meaning liberals
    • With rare exceptions those who complain of "lack of comparable passion" about suffering in other parts of the world do not themselves care in the least about Congo, Tibet, etc. It is just another spiel devised to counterattack critics of Israel.

  • My friends say I'm being too nice to Hamas
  • Moshe Feiglin's vision of liberating Gaza by driving Palestinians into the Sinai --Updated
    • Feiglin is silent on a very important point. Deportation across state borders requires not only the initiative of the deporting state but also the passive or active cooperation of the receiving state or states. Up to 1939 the Nazis were glad to "let the Jews leave"; the problem was who would take them in. Will Egypt willingly accept a couple of million more Palestinian refugees? Surely not.

      Feiglin must understand this perfectly well. He is not a stupid man. His silence does not mean he has not thought about this aspect. It means he does not want to reveal his thoughts, at least in public. Israeli 'transfer' advocates have suggested that Israel might first occupy the destination area and then carry out the deportation unilaterally. In this case that means reconquering the Sinai.

      But the Sinai is mostly desert. How would it support the resettlement of two million people from Gaza? Perhaps Israel will "make the desert bloom" for them? Ha ha.

      Note an inconsistency in Feiglin's presentation. First he says: "Sinai is not far from Gaza and they can leave. This will be the limit of Israel’s humanitarian efforts." This clearly implies that Israel will do nothing to help the people it has deported. Further on he talks about giving them "generous" aid. I would guess though that where he says "they can leave [and] this will be the limit" he is expressing his real attitude. After all, when in the past has Israel ever given aid to those it has expelled?

      So the prospect of real genocide is perilously close here. There are historical precedents for driving people into the desert as a means of genocide. The Hereros of southwest Africa were driven into the Kalahari in the first decade of the last century. Many Armenian deportees were also driven into the desert to perish in 1915.

  • "There's nothing exceptional or heroic about a Jew standing against Zionism'
    • It's revealing how the police grab Koerner even though he has violated no formal law. No nonsense about freedom of speech in the region's "only democracy"!

      What Koerner did was perhaps not exceptional -- there was a time though when it would have been -- but it is still rather unusual.

  • Elie Wiesel plays the Holocaust trump card in Gaza
    • Does the story of Abraham and Isaac really reject human sacrifice? Its main message, after all, is that a God-fearing person should at least be willing to sacrifice his child at God's command. Whether the sacrifice is consummated is up to God, not man. Real rejection requires a resolute refusal by human beings that does not depend on God's intentions and wishes.

      Anyway, the top brass of the IDF do clearly believe in human sacrifice and practice it on a large scale. They sacrifice not only Arabs but even "their own people." A case in point is the notorious "Hannibal directive," which commands the IDF to thwart enemy capture of an Israeli soldier alive at any cost, even if that means killing the captive. The purpose is to prevent recurrence of the situation in which pressure from the Jewish Israeli public forces the government to negotiate a prisoner exchange, release a large number of Palestinian prisoners, and then go to all the trouble of arresting them again, wasting valuable time, effort, and resources.

  • Video: Mark Regev, deciphered
    • Zionist sites are highlighting a claim made on Israeli TV that Hamas has executed 20 people in Gaza for holding an antiwar protest. Does anyone have any information on this?

  • More voices describe Gaza slaughter as a 'genocide'
    • I don't think the Zionists are categorically committed to genocide. They just don't want the Palestinians in Palestine. If they were all to be transported by magic to other parts of the world -- or, better still, to another planet -- the Zionists would be quite satisfied. The trouble is that this is not going to happen.

  • Video: If you voted for Hamas, Israel has a right to kill you, says president of NY Board of Rabbis
    • Piotr: "A large number of people who do not believe in God, but believe that God gave the Holy Land to the Jews."

      There's a perfectly simple explanation. God used to exist but now he's dead.

    • I humbly suggest that Israel establish a special agency that would allocate special stickers to Gaza residents who can prove beyond reasonable doubt that they have never voted for or otherwise supported Hamas. The lucky sticker holders would display them prominently on their clothing, vehicles, donkeys etc. and the IDF would of course take extraordinary care to avoid hurting them in any way.

    • In southeast Ukraine it is mainly the government forces, backed by the US, that are tormenting innocent civilians on a scale similar to Israel's war on Gaza (over 1150 civilians killed so far, 100,000 or so refugees). Kerry is advocating sanctions against another country that is helping the anti-government side (the so-called "pro-Russian rebels"). It's the equivalent of demanding sanctions against Iran for helping Hamas. No inconsistency whatsoever! Always back the perpetrators, not the victims.

  • As night follows the day, deaths of 10 Israeli soldiers lead to deaths of 30 Palestinian civilians
    • The ratio of 3:1 is rather moderate, I think. The overall casualty figures suggest a ratio of at least 20:1. It could go higher, of course, but it is a long way from the 100:1 ratio the Nazis used and this shows how absurd it is to compare Zionism with Nazism (at least for the time being).

  • ‘Lone soldiers’ and young ideologues from around the world contribute to Israeli war crimes
  • Attacks on demonstrators in Rome
  • (Updated) In Photos: Worldwide protest against Israeli attack on Gaza
    • Resistance can take forms that are quite effective, relatively safe, and difficult for Israeli PR to exploit. For instance, instead of throwing stones at tanks and soldiers kids in the West Bank could scatter them on settler roads. Operating in small groups at night, they could scatter pebbles (selected for sharpness) from access points (as agile youngsters they would be able to clamber up slopes), finish the job in a few seconds, and return home. In the morning tires would burst and halt the cars of settlers commuting to jobs in Jerusalem and other places inside the Green Line. This would cause few if any serious casualties but it would create numerous road blockages and long delays, thereby making daily commutes infeasible for many settlers. Together with other sabotage tactics (against electricity lines etc.), this would discourage Israelis from moving to settlements and encourage many existing settlers to leave.

    • The best use for rockets is against Israeli warplanes and gunboats. Last time a few planes were shot down and Israel didn't even try to squeeze any propaganda value out of that because who (apart from ultra-Zionists) is going to sympathize with pilots terror bombing a civilian population? And yet Israeli leaders must be much more worried by Palestinian air defense capacity than by the rockets they complain about publicly. For one thing, those planes cost a lot of money.

  • Claim that Hamas killed 3 teens is turning out to be the WMD of Gaza onslaught
    • Parts of the Israeli power elite even today have a certain "British" flavor because Israel grew out of the British mandatory regime in Palestine. There was a lot of continuity. Key figures among the founders of the IDF were influenced by pro-Zionist British officers (other British officers took the other side) and especially by the British military expert and historian Basil Liddell Hart.

  • Oren's charge that networks showcase Palestinian dead at behest of Hamas is 'obscene' -- Penhaul
    • If Hamas strategy is to “drag Israel” into Gaza and “get Israel to kill large numbers of civilians” and prominent Israelis like Ambassador Oren are aware of the fact, then why does Israel walk into the trap set for it? It could defeat Hamas strategy by leaving Gaza alone, lifting the siege, and not killing civilians.

  • Fox's Hannity abuses Yousef Munayyer, says he has a 'thick head'
  • Israel's actions 'unjustified' in eyes of women, non-whites, Dems, indy's, and those under 50 -- Gallup
    • We are dealing here with two variables both of which have a strong impact on people's views and that are also quite strongly correlated with one another -- i.e., formal educational level and class privilege (as reflected in wealth, income, status, etc.). In this situation an assessment of the impact of one of the variables is valid only if some way is found to compensate for the confounding influence of the other variable. In other words, in order to assess the impact of one variable (education) it is necessary to disentangle it from the other (class privilege).

      One way to do this is to compare people at different educational levels separately for each level of class privilege. My guess is that if that were done it would show education as having a positive impact even on the I-P issue. Much depends on the content and style of education -- some types of education encourage independent thinking, others discourage it. But in general highly educated people tend to have access to more information and are therefore less vulnerable to manipulation by the mass media. People who combine a high level of education with poverty and low social status, such as graduates who remain unemployed for a long period or have to accept menial jobs, tend to be the most radical social group.

  • Horrifying details continue to emerge of massacre in Khuza'a
    • "Little" massacres are probably perpetrated by small groups of soldiers on their own initiative "for fun" but big massacres like this one are presumably orchestrated from above in the service of some strategic purpose. In this case I suspect the Israelis have decided to depopulate a broader zone along the border.

  • Berkeley rabbi mounts a soapbox in my living room
  • The deafening silence around the Hamas proposal for a 10-year truce
    • Israel put a great deal of effort into pushing Hamas and the PA into an intra-Palestinian civil war, in which they would have given Fatah supplies and other aid and ensure it won. All that effort went to waste. The fact that the PA defied strongly expressed Israeli wishes and formed a unity government instead also showed Israel that even its control over the PA is rather limited. Naturally the Israelis felt frustrated.

    • Seafoid: "They're just helpless."

      More specifically, I would guess they are frightened of being beaten to a pulp or killed by "patriotic" vigilantes like those who attacked the protestors in Haifa.

  • Watch: 9 Jewish activists arrested after occupying Friends of the Israel Defense Forces office
  • Mr. Modi-- do not court apartheid Israel in my name
    • Thank you for a very interesting article. There are indeed many resemblances between Israel under Netanyahu and India under Modi as well as between Zionism and Hindutva as ideologies. In both cases we see a combination of confessionally based militant nationalism with neoliberal globalism. Logically there could hardly be anything more contradictory, but in practice they fit together as snugly as a glove on a mailed fist.

  • Naomi Wolf walked out of synagogue when they had nothing to say about Gaza massacre
  • Finally, Israel is alienating the US mainstream media
    • The last time Israel invaded Gaza, the ceasefire was supposed to be followed by Egyptian-mediated negotiations on the siege and other outstanding issues. But then we never heard any more about it. Either no such negotiations took place or they led nowhere.

  • Massacre in Gaza: At least 60 killed in Shuja'iyeh, over 60,000 in UN shelters
    • But why don't they just continue spouting the line about it being Hamas' fault for not building air raid shelters? That one too was probably coordinated -- there was a big article in Commentary that may have been used as a model.

  • Israeli military destroyed el-Wafa hospital even though it knew there were no weapons inside
    • I would like to know exactly how these arrangements for communication between the Red Cross and the IDF work. Are the Red Cross representatives really in contact with the individuals who make the decisions? I very much doubt it. There is probably a special unit in the IDF for dealing with the Red Cross and the people in that unit are probably only sporadically in contact with decision makers. I am guessing, but that would explain a lot. Of course, this would not relieve the IDF top brass of responsibility because they would have deliberately arranged things this way in order to prevent the Red Cross from exerting any effective influence.

  • Israeli police ransack Tariq Abu Khdeir family home and arrest relatives in apparent revenge raid
    • Palestinian-Americans are a very significant threat to Israel's hold over US politics. Blackmail with their relatives in Palestine as hostages is an obvious way to keep their mouths shut. Targeting them directly would be unnecessarily risky.

  • How can Human Rights Watch conclude an Israeli didn't want to kill 4 boys on the beach?
    • There is also plenty of relevant evidence in the testimony collected from Israeli soldiers by the "Breaking the Silence" organization. For instance, there is testimony about soldiers deliberately goading kids to throw stones so that they can then shoot them down. They do this because they are bored and crave some "action" (i.e., killing).

      Why do decent humanitarians like HRW find these things so hard to "imagine"? The individuals who write such things must simply not know very much about Israeli realities. Those who have made an honest study of even some of the numerous available sources do not need to "imagine" -- they know. But NGO reports are edited by generalists who know little about any particular issue. Perhaps, being such nice people themselves and lacking personal experiences that would help to disillusion them, they just cannot grasp the motives that inspire the behavior of sadists. And I suppose they view the Israelis as "Jewish" and associate Jewishness with sensitivity and gentleness -- an archaic view from pre-Zionist times that seems to survive somehow from sheer inertia.

  • Why I, a Palestinian-American Muslim, went to the White House Iftar and what I learned
    • When something happens that is so much worse, so much more brazen than anything you were expecting, the shock of it can have a paralyzing effect and prevent you from reacting. However, you should not have made public your resolve to react next time. There won't be a next time. They won't invite you again.

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