Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 614 (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 stephenshenfield.net.

Website: http://stephenshenfield.net/

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  • 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.

  • In Photos: Worldwide protest against Israeli attack on Gaza (Updated)
    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 'Heartbroken' at 'horrifying' killing of boys, State Dep't says Israel must do more to prevent civilian deaths
  • 'Are you a fucking leftist?' --Israeli fascists target anti-occupation activists in Tel Aviv
    • "The mentality required to massacre Gazans and that which leads to assaulting those who you don’t agree with are one in the same."

      Not necessarily. Soldiers who kill people are usually (not always) just obeying orders. Some of them will say that "personally" they do not agree with the orders they are obeying. The vigilantes who assault "leftists" are giving vent to their hatred, acting on their own initiative. We may dislike both mentalities but they are not the same.

      When the police have orders to break up all protests and beat up and arrest all dissidents, that is dictatorship, the formal abolition of democratic rights. When vigilantes do the same job -- perhaps even more effectively than the police ever could -- the country concerned formally remains a democracy but formal democratic rights have become meaningless. In some ways that is worse.

      The fact that the methods long used against Palestinians are now being used against Jews demonstrates the fragility of democracy that is limited to one ethnic group. At a certain point members of the dominant ethnic group are also bound to lose their democratic rights. To be secure for anyone democratic rights have to be enjoyed by everyone.

      Much as I admire the courage of those Israelis who intend to continue protesting despite the murderous atmosphere, I don't think there will be enough of them to make a real practical difference. It seems that it is already too late for change from within. The pressure will have to come from without.

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  • What would you do?
  • Jet Blue incident shifts from anti-Semitic story to anti-Palestinian one
  • Israeli strike kills four Palestinian children playing soccer on Gaza beach
    • The initial report that it was naval shelling is more likely to be true than the later Israeli "reports" of an air strike. In general, initial reports are less likely to be influenced by political considerations. And we all know how readily the Israeli media machine churns out lies. Making it an air strike lends greater plausibility to the claim that the children were hit by mistake. An observer on a boat offshore could probably see that it was just children playing football. So I would say -- don't "correct" anything, trust the initial report.

  • The trojan horse of liberal Zionism
    • The "Trojan horse" metaphor is not very apt because it implies that left/liberal Zionism is a ruse consciously designed by some Zionist HQ to infiltrate the enemy camp. That is not how things happened.

      Liberal Zionists are not of course on the side of the Palestinians, but had they been the dominant force in Israeli politics they might have reached a compromise based on withdrawal to the Green Line and a Palestinian state (or something not all that far removed from it) alongside Israel. But they were not the dominant force and they are now marginalized, the ground cut from beneath their feet by the success of the Zionist right in destroying the conditions for anything even faintly resembling a Palestinian state.

      Now they (like everyone else) face the stark choice between supporting and opposing Israel as it currently exists ("actually existing Zionism"). Some of them will give up their liberal pretensions, which are hypocritical but not insincere, and merge into the new ultra-Zionist consensus, but others will abandon Zionism. Most of the anti-Zionist activists in Israel are former liberal Zionists. The more of them who make that transition the better -- who knows, it might make a difference. So I think it is better to appeal to the better half of their conflicted souls than simply denounce them.

  • Violence outside Paris synagogue falsely attributed to anti-Semitism (Updated)
  • As we sat down to break the fast, everything in the house started smashing and flying
    • Let's not be too cynical about JustJessetr's comment. At least it expresses concern for the welfare of people in Gaza, and the large number of question marks suggests the depth and sincerity of his concern. That is why I expect him to support alternative ways of protecting Gaza residents against bombing raids -- options that could be implemented more quickly and at less cost than building deep reinforced shelters for a million and a half people. First of all, as a purely temporary expedient, the next time hostilities break out why not open the border and welcome refugees from Gaza into Israeli bomb shelters? Second, why not supply Gaza with Stinger missiles to shoot down any bombers that enter its airspace? I am confident that JustJessetr will support my suggestions and come up with a few more of his own.

  • Florida Congresswoman sides with Israeli police over her own brutalized teenage constituent
    • Eric and "Unverified" and Can of Worms: It is not true that "the vast majority of American Jews" are pro-Zionist. It only LOOKS that way from the outside because Zionist intimidation is so effective.

      But even if it were true it would still be counterproductive to frame the problem in terms of "the Jews" because that is exactly how the Zionists want it to be framed! Those who rail against "the Jews" are providing the Zionists with exactly the kind of "enemy" who suits their purposes, which really means not an enemy at all!

      The same applies to the issue of how Israel is defined. The Zionists want to have Israel seen as the "Jewish state" because that makes it seem a normal phenomenon rather than the product of an ideology that can be contested. That is why anti-Zionists call it a "Zionist state" (or "Zionist entity").

      Objectively, those who blame "the Jews" are supporting Zionism, even though (except for the Zionist provocateurs who hide among them) that is not their intention. They are helping the Zionists unite Jews under their banner against the threat of "anti-Semitism" and undermining efforts to break up Jewish solidarity.

      Other objections can also be made to the practice of blaming "the Jews" but this is the one that matters most.

    • Do you really think it was "the Jews" that created the problem and not the Zionists?

  • Soul-crushing video shows Gaza father unable to accept his little boy's killing
  • Terror in Gaza: 57 seconds after 'warning,' Israel destroys a house
    • MahaneYehude1: I think that your apologies should be accepted as a matter of simple courtesy. The real test of their sincerity, however, will be the efforts that you and your fellow Israelis continue to make to get yourselves killed. And I am confident that you will pass the test. Despite the sirens, shelters and domes, your suicidal efforts are bound to bear fruit over the not-so-long term.

  • Video: Diane Sawyer misrepresents photo of Gazans in aftermath of Israeli bombing as Israeli victims of Palestinian missiles (Updated)
    • RoHa: You are using "intentional" in the broad sense: a result of an action is unintentional only if it was unforeseen. The IAF is using the word in a narrow sense: a result is intentional only if it is the purpose of the action. In that case it can be foreseen but unintentional. Unfortunately, the Geneva Conventions require only that the civilian casualties of a military action be unintentional in the narrow sense. "Collateral damage" is acceptable even if foreseen. Use of the broad sense would make war practically infeasible, and no government wants that (perhaps with the exception of Costa Rica).

  • Video: Jewish mob chanting 'Death to Arabs!' stops cars in Jerusalem to check drivers' ethnicity
  • Largest British union refuses to offer support for peace talks
    • Shingo: Hophmi may be referring to the Racial and Religious Hatred Act of 2006, which criminalizes incitement of racial and religious hatred, rather than the laws against racial discrimination. British Zionists may well try to use this law against BDS by claiming that it is anti-Semitic.

  • In Photos: Anger over Abu Khdeir death pours into the streets in Bethlehem
  • Video: Israeli border police brutally beat Palestinian youth (Update)
    • Maybe the incitement of mass anti-Arab hysteria is part of a hidden strategy aimed at ethnic cleansing? At some point the Israeli government may declare that it is necessary to remove Palestinian citizens of Israel from mixed areas and/or further restrict the movements of all Palestinians "for their own safety" (professing inability to ensure their safety by any other means).

  • Please, pray for Palestine
  • Doubts raised about report Algeria will donate World Cup prize money to Gaza (Updated)
    • "Islamism" is often used to refer to all political manifestations of Islam. In this sense it is a very broad concept and encompasses very diverse points of view. Erdogan's "Islamism" is Moslem only in the vague sense that European Christian Democrats are Christian. It would be wrong to demonize Islamism in this broad sense as though it were a single coherent phenomenon. There are significant differences even among those who aim to reestablish a caliphate. Many seek to achieve that goal by peaceful means (e.g. Hezb ut-Tahrir).

      According to this source: link to wiki.answers.com, the true Representative of God on earth, i.e. caliph, is the Mahdi, who is alive but in hiding. He will reveal himself and create a Moslem realm under his leadership when he judges that the time is ripe. No politician has the right to usurp his prerogative and arbitrarily declare himself caliph. Those who strive for a caliphate as a purely political project are therefore heretics in relation to Islam in exactly the same way that the Zionists are heretics in relation to Judaism by usurping the role of the Messiah.

  • The Aftermath: Home demolitions and dead Palestinian teen follow Netanyahu call for revenge
    • "Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon: 'First day after the kidnapping [the Shin Bet] reached the unit that carried out the attack, and therefore made it impossible for them to make any demands.'”

      Is this an admission that the kidnappers' original plan was to obtain bargaining chips for the release of Palestinian prisoners? By deliberately thwarting that plan the Shin Bet triggered the killings. They must have realized there was a high risk of that being the result of their action. And presumably they acted under orders from Netanyahu.

  • The world's sympathy cannot be limited to Israeli victims
    • Unless they are proficient in Arabic -- and I'm sure most reporters and commentators are not -- it's very unlikely that their pronunciation is "technically correct." So it's probably just a way of making Arabs seem alien and dangerous. Anti-Semites used to do the same thing with Yiddish-influenced Jewish speech.

    • MahaneYehude1: Variations in linguistic ability suggest that you may be not an individual but a team consisting of members with different degrees of English proficiency. That raises the question of who organized the team and for what purpose. You could conceal the fact that you are a team (if you are) by assigning one member the task of standardizing the style of all contributions.

  • Missing Israeli teens found dead near Hebron; Netanyahu: 'Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay'
    • Decent people will naturally sympathize with the mourning of the three dead young men, as their mourning expresses natural human grief. The trouble is that at the same time the mourning expresses an ideology of Jewish solipsism (only Jewish grief exists, or at least only Jewish grief matters) and self-worship (Jewish young men are automatically "pure" and "innocent"). We may be inclined to sympathize at a human level, but if we do so we expose ourselves to pressure to accept the ideological baggage that goes with it.

  • Glib, simplistic, and extreme -- the world according to Richard Landes
    • So apparently Landes identifies warrior-nomadic cultures with honor-shame cultures and both of these with Islam. Astonishing ignorance.

      Consider the historical relationship between "warrior nomadism" and Islam. It is true that for many centuries there were clashes in Eurasia between nomadic pastoralist-warriors and settled farmers (though these were not fixed categories -- nomads often settled down and became farmers). But Islam was deeply entrenched among the settled farmers, in areas like the Ferghana Valley, while among the nomads it was either absent altogether or a superficial accretion on earlier beliefs (e.g., Tengrianism among the Kazakhs). Islam is not a convenient religion for nomads, who are constantly on the move and do not therefore build mosques.

  • Young Jew seeks to prepares his community for heretical & inevitable-- end of Jewish state
  • 'Washington Post' conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism
  • Oldman labels himself an 'A-hole' for saying Jews run Hollywood
  • Jeffrey Goldberg leads the charge on latest BDS smear: Presbyterian Church divestment is anti-Semitic because David Duke supports it
    • Hitler was responsible for the Autobahns -- a national highway system for rapid motor travel -- and the "people's car" (it is a shocking fact that even after 1945 the Autobahns were not dismantled). This proves that all the countries in the world, with the possible exceptions of Sikkim and Bhutan but definitely including car-infested Israel, are now Nazi (and, it goes without saying, anti-Semitic).

    • It would be easy to use the same absurd method against Israel, as many far right groups and individuals nowadays admire Israel and even make visits to the West Bank to show their support for the settlers. In Germany, for example, there is the group called "National Socialists for Israel." By the Zionists' own logic, that should lead them to reflections concerning why Nazis might support them. But I doubt that it does.

  • Socialism and the Jews
    • Many of our grandfathers -- and grandmothers -- in the Russian Empire and other parts of Eastern and Central Europe were indeed socialists of various kind, and this can of course be viewed as a response to their material and psychological conditions (though by no means fully determined by those conditions). However, Jews were also active in other segments of the political spectrum, including liberalism (e.g., Mikhail Gershenzon) and even conservatism. Liberal and conservative Jews tended to come from higher-status families and were less alienated from "respectable society." Some conservative Jews even fought on the White side in the Civil War. I have written about one of these figures, Yakov Bromberg, on my site:

      link to stephenshenfield.net

      At the other extreme, Jews also took part in the anarchist insurrection of Nestor Makhno in Ukraine.

  • Israel can’t force-feed occupation to those who hunger for freedom
    • I doubt the statement that from 1999 until recently the Israelis used torture only in rare "ticking bomb" cases. I have found many reports of widespread torture pertaining to that period. Perhaps it wasn't considered torture, only "moderate physical and psychological pressure."

      Here is one source for 2009: link to whitewraithe.wordpress.com
      It describes a form of torture called the "death ride." The victims "are ordered to board an extremely filthy, hot and nearly hermetically sealed white vehicle," which "moves slowly from one prison to another to take in more prisoners, including dangerous Jewish criminals." A prisoner can spend up to 24 hours "in the oven-like metal chamber" with no food, water, fresh air or toilet facilities. The nightmare may be repeated every few days.

      One type of torture that is probably underreported is sexual abuse of various kinds, including rape with sticks or other objects. Such abuse is inflicted on prisoners of both sexes. One source is:

      link to al-monitor.com

  • Israel maintains gag order in missing teens' case, leading to charge of media 'manipulation'
    • I thought that Kerry had established a new rule: Israel can be criticized directly on condition that the criticism is followed immediately by an abject apology. Evidently this innovation is regarded as dangerously radical.

    • There could be an "Avenue of Righteous Jews" to honor those Jews who tried to prevent or stop expulsions and massacres of Palestinians and occasionally succeeded. Because there were a few such.

      Perhaps also a street to commemorate Rabbi Jacob Israel de Haan, assassinated by the Zionists for his efforts on behalf of a just peace.

  • Conflicted coverage shows: 'NYT' is now disputed territory
    • The competition between these issues is illusory. Weakening Zionism would help the fight against climate change in all sorts of ways. For instance, I recall reading that some Zionist organization decided to oppose the campaign to divest from hydrocarbon companies because they thought opposing all politically motivated divestment in principle was the best way to protect Israel from BDS. In other words, many Zionists are quite willing to sacrifice the whole planet in the short-term interest of their 'Jewish state' -- not realizing, apparently, that Israel is on this planet and nowhere else.

  • In 'turning-point' vote, Presbyterians divest from occupation-linked corporations
  • Observations on the Met’s cancelation of the 'Klinghoffer' simulcast
    • Compare this opera with Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice". The image presented of the Jew Shylock is on the whole repulsive. He insists on his "pound of flesh" -- in effect, his contractual right to kill an insolvent creditor. On the other hand, he is allowed an eloquent speech in which he makes his desire for revenge humanly understandable. A consistent anti-Semite might condemn Shakespeare for inserting this speech. Nevertheless, the play's overall message about Jews is highly negative.

      I leave the drawing of parallels with "Klinghoffer" as an exercise for the reader. I think they are pretty close.

  • Killing without consequence
    • There is more on Ziad's murderer at

      link to richardsilverstein.com

      His favorite sport is "beating Arab wetbacks" (the crucial word "beating" is omitted above, no doubt unintentionally).

      The name Vinogradov intrigues me. It is a common Russian name derived from the word for "grape". It is certainly not a Jewish name. There were a couple of prominent Russian mathematicians named Vinogradov. One of them was also known for his anti-Semitic and Russian nationalist views and used his prominent position to exclude Jews from Soviet mathematics. Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean that this Maxim Vinogradov is not Jewish -- the family name may have been changed. Not that it matters. Israel is clearly a magnet for all sorts of scum and gives them free rein. I am sorry for all those placed at their mercy.

  • I’m a Lutheran member of a Jewish organization, and I support Presbyterian divestment
    • I suspect that under this sort of intense emotional pressure some (many?) Gentiles may internalize the false accusations and fear that in some way they really are being anti-Semitic if they criticize Israel "too harshly". The existence of anti-Zionist Jews may give them a way out, enabling them to prove, at least to themselves, that the accusations are indeed false. This could be understood as anti-Zionist Jews "giving permission". My own attitude is something like this: logically you should not need Jewish permission, but if you have a psychological need for such permission in order to speak out then be my guest.

    • Thank you, Morgan.

      Would you please explain why you have found it so difficult not to ask for "Jewish permission" before speaking out for Palestinian rights? I could guess, but an exact explanation for you would be much better.

      There is also the question of what constitutes "Jewish permission"? For instance, would the approval of a single Jew suffice?

  • Israeli army enacts curfew near Nablus and raids eight major West Bank cities
    • I agree that this operation must have been planned well in advance. "In the aftermath of" does not mean "in reaction to" -- they were just waiting for (perhaps creating) a pretext. As usual, they chose a time when international attention is focused elsewhere, on Iraq and Ukraine.

  • Death comes to downtown Ramallah
    • All good questions, and I bet that he won't answer any of them. He has no interest in a genuine exchange of opinion.

    • You maintain the pose of a reasonable open-minded person dealing with fanatics while steadfastly ignoring all the genuinely reasonable objections others make to your arguments and refusing to answer questions about what you would and would not consider "conclusive evidence". Your pose is a lie.

    • As the entry of Israeli soldiers into Area A violates the Oslo Accords, does that give the PA a right under international law to arrest intruding soldiers and expel them from Area A? (I am not asking whether this would be practicable?)

    • BrianEsker: Presumably this report is based on the testimony of Palestinian eyewitnesses. Does that count as "evidence" for you? And what evidence do you have to suggest that official IDF investigations have any credibility?

      "Rubber bullets" is a misleading term. They do not consist of rubber. They are only COATED with a layer of rubber. Inside the coating they are made of metal, like other bullets. Ever since their use began evidence has accumulated that they are often lethal.

      Please correct your comment (and your mind) to reflect this. Thank you.

  • Settler leader Dani Dayan given yet another platform in the NY Times
    • thetruthhurts: "Israel does not want peace."

      Israel does not want a just peace, but it might find advantages in a peace based on all the Palestinians concluding that their cause is hopeless and abandoning any thought of resistance.

      “The conqueror is always a lover of peace; he would prefer to take over our country unopposed.”
      ― Carl von Clausewitz, On War

  • Chris Matthews and David Corn defend Israel against 'slander' of apartheid
    • It would be of great help to busy politicians if they always kept handy a pile of standard forms: "I condemn … for saying that Israel … " A form could quickly be scribbled in and distributed to the main media outlets whenever occasion demanded. In fact, an aide could do the job.

  • The Banality of Religion: 'Prayer summit' at the Vatican fails to inspire
    • Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church is also very keen on prayer summits. He hosted one for the leaders of Moldova and Transnistria on Mount Athos in Greece. The pope has to compete.

      The trouble is that the participating politicos may just treat it as a free vacation -- a relaxing break in pleasant surroundings. They should be required at least to submit proper reports, listing what prayers they have said and assessing the results of each.

  • I am Palestinian, and I am human, and I am here
    • Scott: They were probably Jews. Haven't you ever seen a drunk Jew? Or a Jewish bully? Your imagination has not adapted to the changes in reality.

      Sarah was fortunate to escape. Probably thanks to the fact that there were plenty of other people around -- what might have happened late at night is another matter.

      I appreciate Sarah's sensitivity in never mentioning that the bullies were Jews. But there is no really good reason why she should not have mentioned it. This is what many Jews are like nowadays, thanks largely to Zionism. It's an unpalatable reality, but we may as well face it.

    • "The greatest heartache, for me, has always stemmed from the refusal of Zionists to speak of Palestinians in human terms."

      They know (intuitively) that if they ever relate to Palestinians as human brings, even for a single second, they will no longer be Zionists.

  • Palestinian citizens of Israel protest draft in Tel Aviv as passersby tell them to die or emigrate
    • As a human, I see all flags as flags of the enemy yet they are everywhere.

    • Palikari: How is it a "PA flag"? Was it introduced when the PA was set up, or did it exist before that? It is regarded as the Palestinians' flag, and that includes those Palestinians who are at the same time Israelis -- and want to be both, and are trying to serve the Israel they want to be part of by protesting the draft.

  • For wearing veil, woman is ordered off Jerusalem light rail and frisked
    • Ellen: Full veiling is traditional to "the region" but only if "the region" is defined much more widely. It existed in pre-Islamic Persia (Zoroastrianism), ancient Israel (Judaism), Byzantium (Christianity), and even ancient Athens (polytheism). Did all these places have "the harsh desert climate of the Arabian Peninsula"?

      I'm sure covering oneself in the desert makes sense, but in what color? White, to reflect the sunlight! But white coverings seem to be reserved for men, while women are forced to cover themselves in black, which absorbs the sunlight and makes things even worse! I have a little insight into how uncomfortable it is to be swathed in black cloth in hot weather because a woman colleague visited Iran under Khomeini and wrote a detailed account of her experience with full veiling there.

      There have been reports of a revival of full veiling among Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem. I wonder how those security guys would have reacted to a veiled woman speaking fluent Ivrit and obviously Jewish in other ways.

  • Palestine unity government to be sworn in Monday (Update)
    • You didn't catch on that I was writing (as I often do) in ironic mode. It's true that "negotiating" really means "imposing." My main point is that over the last few years the Israelis have been pursuing a certain strategy that they thought would lead to the result they wanted -- a completely subservient puppet "state" as sole partner on the Palestinian side. But the Palestinians outwitted them and thwarted their strategy. It's rather important to register the point that the Israelis are not omnipotent and do not always win. In the wake of their defeat the Israelis are bound to be peevish. They may come up with a new strategy, but that will take a while and in the meantime they are in a position of unprecedented political and diplomatic weakness that the Palestinians will hopefully exploit to the hilt.

    • What Israel wanted and was trying to provoke was a Palestinian civil war in which "their guys" would have crushed the "terrorists" -- and then Israel would have negotiated an agreement with the victors. They are naturally very upset that the Palestinians managed to avoid a civil war and it will take them a few years to adapt to the unexpected scenario.

  • Dr. Ruth says she might shoot you if you don't support Israel
  • Soldiers detaining Palestinian schoolgirls for picking cherries is reminiscent of Germany in 30s -- Misgav
    • The plight of true Holocaust survivors is one argument, but there are others. I think it is important to remember that the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians has been a very long process. It did not begin in 1947 but goes back to the establishment of the first Zionist settlements -- well before the Nazis' rise to power, World War Two and the Holocaust. What happened later was on a much bigger scale, but it was a continuation of an autonomous process already well underway. That process could have nothing to do with a Holocaust that had not yet taken place. (It is a basic principle of historical causation that later events cannot explain earlier events.)

      In a broader context Zionism can be regarded as a case of abused turning into abuser, but the abuse to which it was a response (among others) was the persecution of Jews in tsarist Russia -- the empire that produced most of the early Zionists. But there is nothing unusual or remarkable about this transformation. It is not unique to Jewish nationalism. It is hard to think of any aggressive nationalism that has not drawn psychic energy out of the memory of past oppression at the hands of others. German nationalism is certainly no exception, with its roots in resistance to the Napoleonic invasion.

  • Palestinian Refugees Welcome The Pope: The story behind the iconic photo at the Separation Wall
    • I too do not think Israel intends to exterminate the Palestinians. But there is a body of scholarly literature according to which the Nazis up to about 1940 did not intend to exterminate the Jews either. They were intent on getting rid of the Jews, but their preferred method was expulsion -- perhaps to Madagascar or to a Jewish zone in Poland. When these impractical schemes fell through the intent to expel escalated into the intent to exterminate. Well, the Zionists want to get rid of the Palestinians and their preferred method is expulsion, but what happens if a new Nakba is attempted and runs aground? The danger of genocide is inherent in the situation, even in the absence of intention (up to a certain stage).

      Of course, all comparisons are imperfect. If they do distract people from reality let's not use them. But sometimes they are so striking that it's hard to ignore them.

    • With regard to "Jewish policy" the Nazi period consisted of three stages -- up to 1939, with the stress on getting rid of Jews through emigration; 1939--1941, a period of transition; and 1941--1945, the genocide. Ghettoes were established toward the end of the first period (Berlin -- December 1938) but mostly during the middle period (Warsaw -- mid to late 1940). Is it possible to distinguish between ghettoes as such and their eventual function as holding zones prior to extermination? That depends on when the decision to exterminate was taken. Historians disagree on that, but probably the decision had not yet been taken when the first ghettoes were established.

      In terms of the logic of ethnic cleansing, ghettoes are useful devices for separating and imprisoning populations and making them "invisible." If it is decided to proceed from ghettoization to expulsion and/or extermination, ghettoes facilitate those processes. From the point of view of the ethnic cleanser, ghettoes are better than nothing but they don't provide a "final solution" because the undesired people are still there, they are not completely invisible, they can still make trouble. And full ethnic purity has not yet been attained. So ghettoization is fraught with the possibility that under "favorable" circumstances it may "spill over" into expulsion or -- if that is blocked -- extermination. All this applies just as much to Israel's Palestinian ghettoes as it did to Nazi Germany's Jewish ghettoes. So whatever stage may have been reached the essential parallel is undeniable.

  • The Pope in Palestine
  • A Papal confession to the Palestinian people
    • Earlier in his life, perhaps in reaction against the anti-Semitism of the Catholic Church, Luther was a philo-Semite. He learned Hebrew and studied Talmud with rabbis in order to gain a better understanding of Judaism. But some of the things he learned upset him and he turned against Judaism. He objected to the barren nitpicking of Talmudic study (pilpul) and thought Talmudic students should be made to work for their living. Most Israelis evidently agree with him there.

      This is not to deny the bloodthirsty nature of Luther's diatribe against the Jews, only to question the implicit assumption that his criticisms of Jews and Judaism were completely groundless and irrational. Moreover, let it not be forgotten that the Jews were not his only target. His diatribe against the rebellious Anabaptist peasants -- supposedly fellow Christians and Protestants -- was perhaps even more bloodthirsty.

  • 'There is no veritable religious freedom here': Postcard from the Christian community in East Jerusalem
    • LeaNder: I don't venture to judge anyone trying to survive under such extreme circumstances, but in order to keep a position as kapo you had to demonstrate to the SS that you were treating ordinary prisoners with the requisite brutality and ruthlessness. And if you were stripped of your position you were very unlikely to survive: if the SS did not dispose of you then the other prisoners would take their revenge. So even those kapos who did have admirable motives or tried to help others surreptitiously had to put on a good show of brutality. Most kapos, however, were former violent criminals and had no such motives.

      Zionists use the word "kapo" as a term of abuse for Jews who "aid the enemy." In that sense it resembles "self-hating Jew," the difference being that the "kapo" derives material advantages from his/her treachery while the "self-hating Jew" betrays "the Jews" on account of his/her twisted mentality. Both these terms are used routinely, it's hard to say which is more popular -- "kapo" perhaps. There is nothing unusual in this usage, it doesn't reflect any deep thinking, that is why I didn't find it interesting. When someone who has actually been in a concentration camp, like Norman's mother, is called a "kapo" it is not clear whether it is being claimed that she was a real kapo in the camp or whether (like Jewish "traitors" who were never in a camp) she is just being accused of behaving "like a kapo."

    • These are descendants of the first Christians -- that is, of the original community of Christians in Jerusalem that dates back to the time when Christianity existed as a movement wholly within Judaism, before Paul opened it up to Gentiles. If Israel really were a Jewish state it would treat them with special respect.

  • 'Ebony' article explores 'Why Black People Must Stand With Palestine'
    • But that was exactly the situation at times and places where slaves were plentiful and therefore cheap. It was typical of the Deep South -- thus the expression "being sold down the river" and also of Haiti (before the uprising).

  • Repentant Enablers: German Christians, the Holocaust and the resurgence of German power
    • From what I recall, his mother did receive something but not much.

      I don't find the calumny on Norman's mother particularly interesting. The word I would use is "disgusting".

    • There was never any possibility of the great majority of victims receiving reparations because they did not survive.

      Those who survived (most are now dead) did receive reparations, but not very much because most of the money was diverted to Israel or stolen by officials of establishment Jewish organizations. Let German policy makers apologize for their part in facilitating this diversion and theft and for their naivety and ignorance in dealing with Israel and the Jewish establishment.

  • Friedlander's 'plain speaking' on Israeli trends (per Bromwich)
    • Yes, the occupation of Poland enormously expanded the size of the Jewish population under Nazi control and together with the resulting outbreak of war with Britain and France ruled out expulsion as a possible "solution to the Jewish problem." The transition to open genocide occurred with the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

      The methods used were a matter of secondary importance. Initially the Nazis relied on mass executions. But this had such an unsettling effect on the executioners (clinics had to be set up for guys driven insane by so much killing) that they started to look for alternative methods. (Norman Finkelstein draws attention to the parallel with the Israeli tendency to be concerned with the moral damage to the perpetrators of atrocity rather than with the suffering of their victims.) The idea of using poison gas was borrowed from the earlier extermination campaign against the handicapped and initially took the form of pumping exhaust into enclosed chambers at the back of motor vehicles.

  • The U.S. continues to appease Narendra Modi
    • India, Israel, Ukraine, Russia -- aggressive nationalism on the rise wherever you look. And yet there is something strange about all these nationalisms. In the areas of culture, religion, human rights etc. they reject all universal values, including those generally regarded as concomitants of globalization, and erect walls around their supposedly unique "civilizations" (and real walls too, of course, to keep out migrants of the "wrong" kind). But in the economic field they show little if any interest in defending national interests against the threats of globalization (swamping of domestic markets by cheap imports, foreigners acquiring big swathes of land and other important assets, etc.). The "free market" is the one universal value they all accept. The wealthy oligarchs play the world market with no concern for the survival of national economies, while at the same time they fund virulent cultural nationalists -- the adepts of ultra-Zionism, Hindutva, Holy Rus, Ukraine uber alles, etc. What are they up to? Think about it.

    • They very sensibly avoid talking politics with their patients, but are you sure they don't do so among themselves?

  • Apartheid label is reminiscent of runup to Holocaust -- Michael Oren
    • amigo: "Oren is a lying cretin."

      Thinking up and presenting lies that do not logically contradict one another and sound plausible to the poorly informed is highly skilled work. A cretin could not do it. In fact, mentally retarded people are quite honest and truthful. Please do not stigmatize them by comparing them with Zionists.

  • Why didn't ADL poll anti-Semitic stereotypes held by Israelis?
    • "It’s staggering to me that a minority long persecuted for holding unpopular views can now turn around and persecute others for the exact same reason."

      Sullivan would be less staggered (suffer less cognitive dissonance) if his perception of the "persecuted minority" were shaped by exposure to a more balanced account of their history -- one that does not focus solely on its persecution by the majority, but also recalls that at certain times and places they were allied to the persecutors of other groups (e.g. allied to Poles in the persecution of Ukrainians) and that their dominant (rabbinical) caste consistently persecuted dissidents within Judaism (minorities within the minority), from the Karaites to Spinoza. If at certain times they did not persecute anyone, that was simply because they were too weak to do so. With a few post-Enlightenment exceptions, they were against their own persecution, not against persecution in general.

    • Regarding Iran as the least anti-Semitic country in the region. I believe it is because Iran still has a Jewish community, loyal to Iran and with a respected place in Iranian society. Egypt no longer has a Jewish community. So when you ask an Iranian about "Jews" he or she will first think of the local Jews and respond positively despite negative feelings about Israel. When you ask an Egyptian he or she will naturally first think of Israel and probably respond negatively.

    • Yes, it is a fundamental principle of unbiased survey design to offer respondents a broad range of alternative answers and to do so in a way that avoids suggesting that the interviewer and/or survey organizer prefers one answer to another. A common formula is: "Some people think A, some people think B, some people think C, etc." -- presenting A, B, and C in a way that implies they are equally plausible and equally worthy of respect.

      The ADL survey attempts nothing of the kind. It does the diametrical opposite, encouraging respondents to choose answers that will then be used to label them anti-Semites. Like a police sting operation. The respondent has to be quite savvy to avoid coming out an "anti-Semite." It's remarkable that so many manage to pass the test.

  • Inspiration on the quiet streets of Palestine
    • The practice of locking Palestinians up in their ghettoes during Jewish holidays goes back to medieval times. Only then it was Jews who were confined to their ghettoes during Christian holidays. To prevent them from spoiling the occasion -- and for their own protection, of course.

  • This just in: Glenn Greenwald was never bar mitzvahed
    • "Bar mitzvah" means "son of the commandment." A Jewish boy becomes a bar mitzvah on his 13th birthday. From then on he is an adult Jew in his own right, with all the attendant rights and duties. His father is no longer responsible for his actions, he is. He can be counted toward the minyan -- the minimum number of Jews (ten) whose attendance is required to proceed with a religious service. Similarly, a Jewish girl becomes a bat mitzvah (daughter of the commandment) on her 12th birthday.

      So basically bar/bat mitzvah is just a way of saying adult Jew/Jewess. It is customary to mark the occasion with a special ceremony in which the young person for the first time reads a portion of the Torah from the scroll in front of the congregation. But that is only a custom. It is not itself a divine commandment like observing the Sabbath or fasting on Yom Kippur. If for some reason the ceremony does not take place -- for instance, illness or unavoidable travel or the absence of the custom in the place where the person lives -- that is no problem from a religious point of view. The person is still a son or daughter of the commandment, simply by virtue of having reached a certain age. Not being "bar mitzvah'd" does not mean you are not "bar mitzvah".

      The fact that such exaggerated importance is placed on the bar mitzvah ceremony and celebration is a reflection of Jews' ignorance of Judaism -- one of the many signs of its degeneration.

  • 'NYT' publishes unvarnished ADL propaganda: 93% of Palestinians are anti-Semites
    • If the survey had any pretension to methodological rigor, it would start by asking respondents whether they have heard of a group known as Jews, what sort of group they think this is, what knowledge if any they have of this group, etc. Then respondents' perceptions of Jews would be explored in as open-ended a way as possible, encouraging them to distinguish among "all Jews," "most Jews" and "some Jews" (probably the ADL survey does not even allow them to draw such distinctions). This would yield data not only on anti-Semitism but also on related phenomena such as philo-Semitism. In Laos and quite a few other countries most people if not all are completely indifferent toward Jews, as Jews form no part of their life experience and are irrelevant to issues they care about.

      The main value of this "survey" is the insight it gives into what views the organizers regard as politically correct and incorrect (if we didn't already know).

  • To Teta, the Queen of Oranges
    • Zionism as identity theft. A fruitful perspective.

      So Israeli identity consists of three sorts of pieces: (1) pieces kept or revived from the Jewish past; (2) pieces stolen from the Palestinians; and (3) newly invented pieces, but these are fewer than they appear because so many pieces passed off as new are actually stolen.

      If you have stolen someone else's identity, it is essential to pretend that the original owner of the identity no longer exists (or, ideally, never existed). Essential both to self-presentation to the world and to psychic coherence. If the original owner manages to contest the theft effectively, the response to be expected is hysteria.

  • Open recriminations begin over failure of peace talks
    • Walid, do you imagine ordinary Palestinians and Lebanese (or Israelis for that matter) are going to benefit from the proceeds? Ask the Ogoni.

    • In some elaborations of the story in the oral tradition Abraham does in fact express reluctance, or at least distress, at what the Tyrant of the Universe had commanded him to do, and is consoled and encouraged by none other than Isaac, the sacrificial victim.

      The oral tradition also contains a version of the story in which no ram is substituted and Isaac is sacrificed as planned. Analysis of the biblical text suggests that this was in fact the original story, which after Judaism rejected human sacrifice was edited accordingly. For example, where the biblical text talks about Abraham returning home from Mount Moriah with his slaves no mention is made of Isaac returning (the editing was not very thorough).

    • It would be good if a peace agreement could stipulate that none of this gas and oil is to be extracted by anyone. Because leaving oil, gas and coal in the ground is essential to human survival. (Just dreaming…)

  • Israel's unending settlements 'mortally wound idea of a Jewish state' -- Indyk
    • It was not hypocritical at the time of Zionism's birth because the idea of the superiority of some "civilized" nations to other "primitive" nations was then the prevailing "commonsense" assumption (questioned by only a few mavericks). And European Jews were generally viewed as more "civilized" than Arabs -- and not only by European Jews themselves. The world has changed since then. Zionism has not -- it is caught in a time warp.

      Even if the "refuge" justification for Zionism were to be accepted in principle (I am not saying it should be), it is surely relevant to ask to what extent Israel has in practice provided a refuge for persecuted Jews in the two thirds of a century of its existence. The answer, I think, is "only marginally." Jews in the USSR were in danger during the final years of Stalin's rule (his death narrowly averted their deportation) but they were unable to get out of the country. Israel did provide a refuge for a few Jewish victims of the Nazi Argentine military junta (Jacobo Timmerman being the best known), but at the same time Israel helped maintain that regime by means of arms sales etc. The safety of Jews has always come way down the list of factors influencing Israeli foreign policy.

  • Using Schwerner and Goodman and the Nazis to deny the Jewish moment (privilege)
    • Being a member of any group based on ethnic/racial origin, religion, gender etc. does not automatically rule out the possibility that a person is privileged in the most decisive area, that is, in economic terms. It depends on the conditions of time and place. However, even in an extreme situation like the Holocaust wealth significantly increases your chance of surviving (in Hungary 1944 you could buy a ticket on Kastner's train).

      By contrast, your class position does automatically give an approximate idea of your privilege or lack of it. If you are a member of the capitalist class then you are privileged by definition, because unlike the vast majority you do not have to sell your working time to others. You are your own man or woman. That is why a left politics based primarily on class is less deceptive than a "left" politics based on all these other "identities." It also has the advantage of at least potentially uniting the large majority of society in a common cause.

  • Thousands of Israeli soldiers protest 'their hands are tied' while serving in the occupied territories
  • Jewish Voice for "Real" Peace
    • Blackmail works only when the victim cares more about the personal interests threatened by the blackmailer than about the issue at stake. If getting reelected were a matter of indifference to Congresspeople, as it should be, they could not be blackmailed. They won't starve. So Congress is not really a victim -- it shares responsibility.

    • Libra: Use of violence by Israel in response will quickly rot what’s left of its moral core until there’s nothing left.

      There is already very little left. Except among Israeli exiles, but they are no longer part of Israel (let alone its "core").

  • Kerry says that Israel could wind up being 'an apartheid state'
    • Kerry might be interpreted as meaning something like this. The "peace process" makes it possible to regard the situation as provisional. There may be elements of apartheid, but they don't define the long-term nature of the state. The end of the "peace process" also ends the appearance of provisionality and then there is no choice but to define Israel as an apartheid state. It's like he's saying: "So far I've called this table a pumpkin, but I may soon have to call it a table."

  • Walter Benjamin's theory of fascism
    • There is an abyss between the view that war is evil but some wars are nonetheless necessary (for instance, in order to defeat a still greater evil) and the view that war as such is glorious, beautiful, holy, romantic, a morally cleansing force, dulce et decorum, etc. Before World War I the positive view of war was the mainstream position and only a progressive humanitarian minority denounced war. The experience of WWI -- or, more precisely, the truthful public representation of that experience, e.g. by the English war poets -- brought anti-war feeling into the mainstream (to varying extents in different countries). Writers like Junger fought back against this shift and tried to restore the old romanticized view of war in a new form. The fascists took that process further.

      My impression regarding Israel is that initially the predominant view was of war as a distasteful necessity, but that 1967 marked a turning point. The Six Day War, and especially the "liberation" of the Old City in Jerusalem, was infused with a miraculous and even messianic religious significance. That was one sign of the start of the descent of the society into fascism.

  • Five reasons the breakdown of peace talks is a good thing
    • Kathleen asks about "the land that allegedly would be swapped for the large illegal settlements that Israel does not want to give up." I have no inside info, but it's a fair bet, with Lieberman back as foreign minister, that the Israeli side has been trying to foist the Triangle onto the Palestinian "state" and get rid of the Palestinian citizens living there. What I wonder if whether the PA side has made any specific counterproposals, assuming they accept the principle of a territorial swap. For instance, to expand the Gaza Strip to encompass more of the territory assigned to a Palestinian state in the 1947 partition plan?

  • Bait-and-switch anti-Semitism: NYU SJP accused of targeting Jews, or not
    • MHughes976 says: "There is no reason why someone who fits the picture of a traditional anti-Semite should not also be a Zionist." Indeed.

      Right from the start it was a central part of Zionist strategy to "sell" Zionism to powerful anti-Semites who wanted to rid their countries of Jews. Herzl first went to Russia to win the support of tsarist interior minister von Plehve. Jabotinsky and the Revisionist Zionists established close relations with the Polish anti-Semites on the same basis. The Zionists regarded Jews as an alien element in the midst of other peoples and anti-Semitism as a natural and inevitable response to that alien presence. They respected and "understood" anti-Semites. All this is an irrefutable part of the historical record.

      The use of false accusations of anti-Semitism by the Zionists is another of their double standards. There is no need to respond in a defensive mode. The best response is to turn the tables and expose the close historical and conceptual relationship between Zionism and anti-Semitism. Zionists have no right to complain about anti-Semitism (even where it really exists). People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

  • When the going gets tough, Roger Cohen gets going
    • The lie at the core of this piece -- and at the core of many other "analyses" of this and other issues by so-called "realists" -- is that the author assumes the pose of an objective observer whose actions do not and cannot significantly affect the issue under consideration. In fact, the writing of articles like this, asserting the sustainability of the occupation, is a significant contribution to MAKING it sustainable, as people who are persuaded by this sort of sophistry will conclude that it is futile to resist the occupation and will therefore not resist it. In other words, this is self-fulfilling prophecy, disseminated quite deliberately in the interests of the Zionist right wing with a view to such self-fulfillment.

  • Israel stops US-led peace talks citing Palestinian unity (Updated)
  • 'Al Jazeera' examines Jewish constellation of lobby elites, and marginalized 'universalists'
    • "To their credit – the estimated 4 million Jews, who emigrated to North America from Europe between 1860 and 1960, and their descendants have emerged as powerful and influential actors throughout the American establishment."

      Obviously, only a minority of the 4 million can have become powerful members of the American establishment. Even on the loosest definition, the American establishment surely cannot consist of more than 100,000 or so individuals, many of whom are not Jews (even granting that the Jewish presence is disproportionately large).

      On the other hand, I hope that Mr. Bishara does not really mean it when he says that the "success" of American Jews in getting into the establishment is "to their credit." How can that be squared with his praise of those who give up any prospect of getting into that establishment by taking an ethical stand? Perhaps he is bending over backward to say nice things about Jews in the forlorn hope of not being branded an anti-Semite?

  • A Jew who visited Palestine responds to 'NYT' assertion that Palestinians want to kill all Jews
    • "Not a single one at all" means you know the mental state of every single Palestinian in the world. If it is true, Palestinians must be angels rather than normal human beings.

      The idea that masses of Palestinians have the avowed goal of killing Jews, preposterous as it may be, is an idee fixe of the more extreme kind of Zionist propaganda. It isn't confined to a few nutters. For instance, I read on a Kahanite website that the only difference between Palestinian citizens of Israel and other Palestinians is that the former know how to chant "Death to the Jews!" in Hebrew and not just in Arabic.

  • Registration of Jews and other human beings
    • lysias said: "I thought that the entity claiming separate existence in Donetsk called itself “Донетская Народная Республика”, i.e., “Donetsk People’s Republic”. Yet this document is entitled “Невасимая Донетская Республика”, i.e., “Independent Republic of Donetsk”."

      Yes, that is the title at the top. But the stamp at the bottom says "Donetsk People's Republic"! The author was presumably in a rush and did not take the effort to produce a consistent text. That is not the only inconsistency. In the heading and the second paragraph Jews are defined as a "nationality" (i.e., ethnic group) but in the third paragraph they are defined as a religious confession. So it is not clear whether people of Jewish origin who do not profess Judaism are required to register or not.

  • Federal agencies express concerns about Israel's entry into the Visa Waiver Program
  • Passover Auto-Pilot
    • The Holocaust is a direct negation of Passover and of all the other Judaic holidays that commemorate how God saved the Jews from their persecutors. This time God didn't bother. Many Jews stopped believing in God for that reason.

      The Holocaust is not the gunboat itself but a sort of accessory to the gunboat -- a magical spell used to protect the gunboat from being seen for what it is.

  • How many 'Palestinian Arabs' want to kill 'all Jews?'
    • So far as I can see, no one on either side of this conflict insists on killing those on the other side. At the most, they may want them to go away and stay away from Palestine/Eretz Israel, thereby eliminating their presence. That is the maximum. The danger of killing arises only because a lot of them refuse to go away. As for those who have gone away or never came in the first place, they don't have a presence to be eliminated, so why kill them? Even the most fanatical Zionist or jihadist isn't interested in killing all Arabs or Jews everywhere. The conflict is confined to a specific geographical area.

    • "Wanting to kill Jews" could mean all sorts of things. It might refer to occasional revenge fantasies, which I would expect at least some Palestinians to have in view of the way self-identified "Jews" (i.e., Zionists) treat them. That is not the same as having the "avowed goal" of killing Jews. That is so far removed from any empirically verifiable reality that it is necessary to focus on the pathology that produces the statement rather than the statement itself.

      So what can we say about that pathology? First, Zionist indoctrination presents Arabs/Palestinians as the most recent in the series of enemies (Haman, Hitler etc.) who have the "avowed goal" of killing Jews. It is axiomatic that if they "stand against us" they must want to kill us. They are also directly linked to the Holocaust as "Hitler's heirs."

      Second, Zionists are also taught to be incapable of distinguishing between the State of Israel as an institution and "the Jews" as a collectivity (to make that distinction would legitimize criticism of Israel). Therefore the undoubted fact that many Palestinians still at some level "want" to destroy the State of Israel can only mean that they "want to kill all Jews." Pressed to provide some documentary evidence, the letter writer would probably quote some declaration from a Palestinian organization about "eliminating the Zionist entity" and insist that meant killing all Jews.

      A lot more could be said along similar lines. There is also the possibility of projection.

  • Obama and Kerry are spurred by 'vainglory' in pursuing talks -- Finkelstein
    • Finkelstein and Chomsky are "liberal Zionists" in the sense that they advocate a two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders that would preserve Israel as a Jewish state within those borders. They are not "crypto" because they do not conceal that this is their position. While they use the "realism" argument, they may also have an emotional loyalty to the "other Israel" -- the "nice" (or at any rate nicer) Israel that existed (or seemed to exist) before the occupation. This is especially true of Chomsky in light of his early biography.

      The problem with liberal Zionism is that it is built on illusion. Even if the nice Israel did once exist (and of course there are ample grounds for arguing that it did not) it certainly does not exist now. The process of polarization makes the liberal Zionist position harder and harder to maintain.

      In the old GDR they used the expression "really existing socialism" -- i.e., you want socialism to mean something else but this is the socialism that actually exists and you have to define your attitude toward it, one way or the other. The same goes for "actually existing Zionism." Liberal Zionists are under pressure either to swallow their misgivings and support Israel even as it exists or to cross the Rubicon, forget their dreams of what they wanted Israel to be, and oppose Israel as it exists (forgive the mixed metaphors). Some go one way, some the other, and some move back and forth in confusion. Their incoherence is genuine, it isn't some sort of clever plot to deceive the unwary.

      In the liberal Zionist publication "The Other Israel" I read about a ceremony that Israeli peaceniks held to "bury" the State of Israel -- that is, to recognize that the Israel they wanted was dead and would not be resurrected. What they were really burying, of course, was their own illusions. It perhaps helped them cross over to a consistently anti-Zionist position.

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