Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 1034 (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 1034 - 1001

  • Religious zealots ready for takeover of Israeli army
  • Wide-ranging interfaith coalition backs 'Freedom of Religion' bill to stop Trump ban on Muslims
    • Mooser: You have a really offensive style of argument. It's difficult but I'll try not to descend to your level.

      I did not claim that my comments arose from direct personal experience, so the fact that they did not does not discredit them. Aa a matter of fact, all my personal relations with Moslems have been positive. That is my good fortune. But I sympathized with the Germans in those videos who had suffered violence at the hands of "unruly Islamobucks" (Gamal's term). Why should I not? Answer that.

      However, I have been traumatized by a Jew, while still a baby -- as have you, Mooser! I believe you are right to say that the PTSD never really goes away, at the subconscious level. Your self-defensive attempt at ridicule falls flat.

      I don't want to take pokes at anyone. But I shall not conceal my conviction that religion is harmful to civilized values, and some religions more than others, Judaism and its Islamic offshoot being among the worst.

    • gamal: I have not drawn a salary from a university since 2000. More to the point, you distort my meaning by omitting the words following "women": "clearly related to Islam, like beating up women WHO DON'T COVER THEIR ARMS" -- that is, women who dress in accordance with non-Islamic norms and -- in your own words -- "therefore run the risk of violation at the hands of unruly young Islamobucks." What then do you mean by "violation"? Not beating up, apparently. Rape perhaps?

      These German women have the strange idea that they have the right to dress in accordance with their own norms in their own country without running the risk of "violation" at the hands of foreign refugees.

      Mind you, I could plausibly defend my statement even in the distorted form given it by you by referring to the Koranic verses cited at link to (an Islamophobic source, no doubt).

    • just: On your substantive point please see my reply to Kay24 below.

      As for the "definition"--it says nothing about the content of Islamophobia. There is no way you could use it to determine whether or not a given statement is Islamophobic. And if the "Muslim threat" may be "perceived OR REAL" then why is the fear of such a possibly real threat necessarily "contrived"? Then the odd suggestion that Islamophobia may be targeted at non-Moslem communities. If those communities are not Moslem but Hindu or Buddhist, say, wouldn't it be necessary to promote fear of Hinduism or Buddhism? Do you really find this sort of gibberish helpful?

    • Kay24 -- I don't think it can be ALL because of one cause. I admit I took a one-sided position under the emotional influence of the videos I was watching. There are various causes and the hatred explodes when they combine. Would anti-Moslem campaigns have much effect if fear of Islam had no basis in Islamist terror and other real phenomena? I don't think so. In that case the promoters would not waste their money. But the existence of real grounds for fear gives them their opportunity to magnify the initial popular reaction to terror. All the same, it is not they who create that initial reaction. The massacre at the Sikh temple could easily have happened even without the help of Geller & Co.

      just: There is one difference now between Europe and the US. Europe is taking in masses of Moslem refugees and the US is not. Many Europeans who have previously been tolerant of Moslems evidently feel intimidated by the "unruly Islamobucks" (as Gamal calls them)--their tolerance is being stretched to breaking point, and not as a result of anti-Moslem propaganda.

    • Trump exploits people's fears for his own purposes, but that doesn't mean those fears are groundless. I've just been watching videos posted by people in Germany, Sweden and other European countries that have accepted large numbers of Moslem refugees, describing the aggressive, intolerant, and abusive behavior of many of those refugees, especially the young men (and much of that behavior is clearly related to Islam, like beating up women who don't cover their arms). If people fear and hate Moslems that is mostly a result of their experience of Moslems, not because they have caught an ideological disease called Islamophobia. Just as many of the people who hate Jews do not suffer from an illness called anti-Semitism but have had experiences with Jews that give them good reason to hate them. Of course it is reassuring if they distinguish between "good" and "bad" Moslems or Jews, and some do, but I'm not going to judge too harshly those who fail to do so.

      I think that no specific freedom can be interpreted in an absolute manner without violating other freedoms that may be just as important or even more important. Freedom of religion too must have its limits. If there still existed a religion that practiced human sacrifice how tolerant could we be toward that religion? How tolerant should we be of religions that still practice genital mutilation of babies or children (of either sex)? Perhaps we should give priority to the right of babies and children not to be mutilated.

      Freedom of religion is itself a contradictory concept because some religions, including all three religions of The Book, have regarded or still regard desertion to a different religion (apostasy). doctrinal deviation (heresy), or expression of an incorrect attitude toward the deity (blasphemy) as crimes to be punished by imprisonment or death. Christianity had its Inquisition; in Russia apostasy from the Russian Orthodox Church was a punishable crime right up to 1905. As for Judaism, its holy books are also not notable for tolerance: in Deuteronomy God demands that blasphemers be stoned to death. In general, the religious freedom of so-called blasphemers, heretics, and apostates safely to follow their conscience clashes with the religious freedom of the "true believers" to kill them for doing so.

    • I wonder how Trump intends to implement his ban on Moslems entering the country. Would it suffice for a person simply to declare that he or she is not a Moslem? Terrorists could hardly be expected to answer truthfully. But there is no way of proving an inner belief or its absence.

      Historically, by the way, the conflict in Ireland is political rather than religious in nature -- between Irish nationalists ("republicans") and people wanting to remain in Britain ("loyalists"). Many of the founders of Irish republicanism were actually Protestants (details are in the lyrics of the IRA song "Protestant Men").

  • American musicians are 'scared sh*tless' their careers 'will be destroyed' if they speak up for Palestinians -- Roger Waters
  • Don't say the Z-word
    • Some Zionist organizations still have the word "Zionist" in their title but many do not--they do indeed simply call themselves Jewish (American Jewish Congress, Jewish Defense League, etc.). I think many Zionists try to use the words Zionist and Zionism as little as possible even among themselves because such usage does imply the possibility of being Jewish without being Zionist -- and that is what they seek to deny. In the early phase of the Zionist movement there was no hiding the fact that Zionists were a minority among Jews, but once Zionism achieved a near-monopoly of Jewish self-expression (at least in public) it became feasible to obliterate the distinction between Jewish and Zionist, thereby making Zionism a "natural" and intrinsic part of being Jewish, something that should go without saying -- and therefore without thinking. As Symes explained to Winston Smith, the goal of Ingsoc is to make thoughtcrime impossible.

      Now there has reemerged a substantial body of openly expressed Jewish opinion that is opposed to Zionism. As awareness of this spreads being Zionist will lose its appearance as a natural part of being Jewish and be exposed as one choice among others. That will hasten the decline of Zionism, which once it achieves a certain momentum will be as rapid as its rise. The proposal to delegitimize and suppress use of the terms Zionism and Zionist is a desperate attempt to halt this process.

    • You shouldn't be saying anything at all about Jews. Not unless you have a special license to do so.

  • Calling Israel a 'modern day miracle' and 'vibrant bloom in desert,' Clinton says BDS is anti-Semitic
    • The Zionists' largely bogus claim that they "made the desert bloom" reflects a view with a long and distinguished pedigree. It implies that the right of indigenous people to their homelands is invalidated if they do not reach certain "civilized" standards in exploiting the land and its natural resources. The Palestinians had supposedly neglected Palestine and that gave the Zionists (or presumably any other bunch of colonists) the right to take it away from them. Norman Finkelstein showed how the Nazis used the same rationale to justify their conquests in Eastern Europe. The same reasoning was used by European colonists in Australia and the Americas to invalidate the rights of indigenous people.

  • Miko Peled's viral video
    • hophmi: I expect you can find such videos if you look for them and answer your own question. However, you are not curious because you think you already know that the answer is no. This is just a rhetorical trick that you regularly use to try to invalidate your opponents.

  • A new proposal for confederated states (without any idea of how to get Israel to comply)
    • But seriously. This imaginative new idea (first raised just 70 years ago, as David Fincham notes below) opens up exciting vistas. More conferences, workshops, frameworks (hammered into shape in the workshops), roadmaps (a roadmap is essential in a country without rail transport and the old one seems to have been mislaid), bus schedules, quintets (quartets are a bit passe and an odd number of participants will facilitate majority decision making) and so on and so forth.

    • Annie: Zionists speaking on behalf of Palestinians has one overriding merit. It prevents Palestinians from saying anything unacceptable (i.e., to Zionists). Dialogue always makes much faster progress when you hold it with yourself.

  • An apologia for Ken Livingstone (What would Buber say?)
    • Zionism did not need to get "infected" by anti-Semitism. It was steeped in anti-Semitism from the start. Zionists agreed with anti-Semites that the Jews were a foreign and unassimilable element in their host societies and it was therefore natural, inevitable, and humanly understandable that they should be rejected and persecuted. They shared the anti-Semites' negative perceptions of Jews as they actually existed. That also meant that they hated themselves.

      Where they differed from the more thoroughgoing anti-Semites was their belief that at least some Jews could be rehabilitated and normalized through Zionist efforts. Hitler in particular did not believe this was possible; for him the only final solution of the Jewish question was extermination.

      However, Hitler cannot be equated with Nazism as such. In the 1930s there were Nazis, including SS officers, who thought that Zionism could solve the Jewish question. A key figure in the attempt at a Zionist-Nazi rapprochement was Rabbi Joachim Prinz. I got hold of his book "Wir Juden" (We Jews), published in Berlin in 1934, i.e. under Nazi rule. The author himself apparently blocked publication of an English translation after his emigration to the US in 1937 -- and no wonder. The book is a skillful synthesis of Nazi and Zionist ideas, with the "German Revolution" presented as a model for Jews to emulate. It shows that the German Zionists did not collaborate with the Nazis for purely practical purposes--they also saw the two movements as ideologically complementary.

      Of all the tendencies of Jewish thought Zionism is and always was the closest to anti-Semitism. The hypocrisy of Zionists accusing other people of anti-Semitism on the flimsiest grounds is astounding.

  • Democratic Party is now split over Israel, and Clinton and Sanders represent opposing camps, says Pew
  • Harvard biotechnology conference whitewashes Israeli occupation
    • Except that the more the Zionists study genetics the more they discover that it does not support their racist preconceptions. Just as the Nazis would have, if genetics had existed in their day, because they and the Zionists share the key preconception that Jews constitute a distinct racial group. They would also discover that genetically the Palestinians are more Jewish than many Jews. Genetics could conceivably be used to design a system of political privileges, but it cannot be used to justify the existing distribution of privilege.

  • Advice to British leftwingers on kicking racism out of their anti-Israel rhetoric
    • I got this view from Lennie Brenner's "Zionism in the Age of the Dictators" (the book Annie mentions) and Isaiah Trunk's "Judenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe Under Nazi Occupation." His table on p. 34 suggests that about three quarters of Judenrat members were Zionists. The typical council member was a community leader with "respectable" conformist bourgeois attitudes that inclined him toward cooperation with the authorities (whoever the authorities might be). I should acknowledge that the Zionist far left, e.g. Poalei Zion, did not participate in the councils and fought in the Resistance.

    • The size of National Socialists for Israel is not crucial to my argument. It is just one of a number of examples showing that Nazism and Zionism are close enough to make their reconciliation possible. I don't know how many members they have, but it is more important to ponder the ideas in their German-language blog. Their introductory statement starts by saying that strong peoples deserve to live and weak peoples deserve to die and continues to argue that the Jews have proven themselves a strong people in "endless wars." Therefore they deserve respect. Hitler was wrong in assessing their quality. They are not against genocide in principle, but it should be reserved for peoples that really are weak and degenerate, like the Romanies and the Palestinians.

    • I do not judge anyone. I only want to affirm the fact that there were Jews who collaborated with (i.e., helped) the Nazis -- above all, most members of the Judenrate (Nazi-appointed and controlled Jewish Councils) and the police and others in their employ.

      Not all Zionists collaborated, many fought the Nazis, but of those Jews who did collaborate most were Zionists. Traditional religious Jews did not collaborate, nor did leftists (Bundists, communists, etc.). This was because the Nazis had already established a pattern of cooperation with Zionists in the 1930s, so now they again called on their services. The exception was occupied Soviet territory, where Zionists could not readily be identified, but it is no coincidence that that was also where the Jewish Councils were least reliable and most inclined to use their positions to help the Resistance (as in Minsk).

      Nazis and Zionists had compatible worldviews, they could find a common language. Both regarded Jews as a separate and degenerate racial group. The difference was that most Nazis believed that Jews could not be regenerated and therefore had to be exterminated. That was Hitler's view. The Zionists thought Jews could be regenerated by colonizing Palestine. However, in the 1930s there had been influential Nazis, even in the SS, who shared that hope and sincerely (not just opportunistically) admired Zionist efforts in that direction. Before his death Eichmann gave an interview to Life magazine in which he expressed admiration for Kastner and other "idealistic" Zionists with whom he had dealt, so although he obeyed orders he was apparently still influenced by this pro-Zionist tendency within Nazism. In Germany today there is also a group of pro-Zionist Nazis called "National Socialists for Israel".

    • "And whatever the encounters between German Zionists and Nazis in the early 1930s it certainly didn’t save any card carrying Zionist Jews in Europe from being murdered by the Nazis a few years later."

      In fact, Zionist-Nazi collaboration (which was certainly not confined to the early 1930s) DID save some "card-carrying Zionists" from being murdered. Rudolf Kastner, who led the Zionists in Hungary, made a deal with Eichmann by which he would facilitate the murder of most of his fellow Jews in exchange for a train to Switzerland for 1600 Jews chosen by himself, including friends and relatives, colleagues in the Zionist movement, and businessmen who could pay their way.

  • 'Her absurd generals, her military junk' -- Daniel Berrigan's prophetic speech on Israel in '73
    • The NYT report of Kerrigan's speech says he castigated "the Arabs" for their "capacity for deception" and also for their "contempt for their own poor." This context makes clear that he was referring not to Arabs in general but to wealthy and powerful Arabs. To be sure we would need a full transcript of the original speech, but probably the phrase "the Arabs" is a misleading paraphrase by a sloppy journalist. Hardly a basis for the charge of "anti-Arab racism."

  • Sy Hersh's 'forbidden statement': Sanders's liberation from NY Jewish money could change US foreign policy
    • Let's just ignore "Hophmi." He never ever responds to any of the cogent arguments made against his crap. He just waits until an opportunity arises to repeat the same crap. If we ignore him he'll get bored and go away.

  • It is time to stop celebrating Jewish dissent in the Palestine solidarity movement
    • pabelmont: I know many Gentiles feel they need permission from Jews before they can speak out. They want a bona fide certificate to show they are not anti-Semites and they think that Jews and only Jews have the credentials to issue such certificates. The question I would like to ask is: how should we anti-Zionist Jews respond? Do we say: "I give you permission, here is your certificate"? Or do we say: "There are no such certificates and you do not need permission from me or anyone else"?

      For many Germans especially this is still a problem. Are you there, German Lefty? You have something to contribute on this.

  • Norman Finkelstein on Sanders, the first intifada, BDS, and ten years of unemployment
    • Keith: We (humanity) are caught between two proven evils -- corporate globalization and the system of rival states. What you say about corporate globalization is true, but the process is far from complete and may never be completed because at the same time the system of rival states is still very much alive and still presents a major danger for humanity. Look at East Asia, the South China Sea for instance. States can provide some protection against the ravages of corporate globalization, but what we really need is a world state. Rather than return to the perilous pre-globalization system by bringing the economy into line with the states system, we need to create a counterweight and eventually substitute for corporate globalization at the world level.

    • One of Norman's themes seems to me very relevant -- the Zionist trick of "changing the subject" and the way we inadvertently fall for it.

      I was looking at an attack on Mondoweiss on a Zionist website and was struck by the fact that it focused exclusively on Mondoweiss discussions of the role of Jews in American society today, which make up perhaps 5% of the site's content, completely ignoring the 95% that focuses on the Palestinian plight. The temptation that must be resisted is to respond to the Zionist attack on the 5% and get drawn into a dissection of its distortions and misinterpretations. Our response should home in on the main distortion, which is the refusal to acknowledge and talk about the 95%. And perhaps it would be better to drop the non-essential 5% that gives the Zionists their chance to change the subject.

      I am not sure whether discussions of Zionism are also a case of "changing the subject." It rather depends on what those discussions focus on. If the focus is on Jewish identity then perhaps Norman is right. But if the focus is on the historical and ongoing Nakba then he is surely wrong by his own criterion. Because in order to understand what Zionism is doing to the Palestinians now you need to know what it has done to them in the past -- the big historical picture.

  • Sanders 'put everything on the line' for Palestine because BDS movement has changed US conversation -- Peled
    • pabelmont: Your no. [3] may be more plausible than the other two, but it would mean civil war with the violent and fanatical settlers. How many Israeli Jews have the stomach for that? Would the IDF be capable of fighting the settlers, given the extent of settler penetration into its own ranks? I think the most likely effects of increased external pressure would be social disintegration and economic crisis but without any decisive political response. The moderates would be gripped by despair, fear, and paralysis (even more than they are now). Many more of them would want to emigrate, and it is important to ensure that they are able to do so. Eventually outside military intervention would be needed.

  • Another interview on Israeli TV
    • Vera: Here's what I found on Metapedia (a German-language internet encyclopedia):

      Kategorie: Selbsthassender Deutscher
      Deutsche, die wissentlich und willentlich Verrat am deutschen Volk und/oder am Deutschen Reich begingen oder begehen.

      Volk und Reich! Am Yisrael chai!

    • Shmuel: You seem to understand Jewish Israelis, perhaps you are one yourself (I don't know) or at least have close ties with them. So let me ask you some follor-up questions about them.

      Jewish Israelis are humans. Surely, therefore, they have powers of comprehension like other humans. Many of them are highly educated and/or intelligent. What exactly is it that they cannot comprehend and why? Might it perhaps have something to do with their division of the world into friends and foes?

      Also: what forms of effective action to change the situation for the better, apart from talk, would they not consider to be offensive and "violent"?

      And what do the inverted commas mean? Do they recognize that there is a sense in which a boycott is not violent but still consider it violent in some other sense? Or what?

  • The end of apartheid in Israel will not destroy the country, it can only improve it
    • Beautifully written. But I am not altogether clear what the author means by Israel "not disappearing." Will the post-apartheid regime still be called Israel then? Rather than Palestine?

      One of the differences between apartheid South Africa and Israel is that the former had a politically neutral geographical name that could fit any type of regime (though there were some who wanted to rename the country Azania). The word "Israel" was originally a collective name for Jews or Jewry, so its use as the name of a country implied and implies a special position for Jews (at a minimum). Perhaps the author wants us to understand that despite this logic the country might continue to be called Israel for the sake of continuity and reconciliation. Or perhaps it could be called Israel and Palestine simultaneously/.

  • 'Anti-Zionism = anti-semitism' is a formal logical fallacy
    • The equation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism has two possible interpretations. One is that they are intrinsically equivalent, which is of course a logical fallacy. The other is more sophisticated: it is admitted that they are not intrinsically equivalent, in principle anti-Zionism need not be anti-Semitic, but in practice most anti-Zionists are concealed anti-Semites and are using anti-Zionism as a cover for their anti-Semitism. As this claim concerns the hidden motives of others, it can never be proven or disproven. However, it is extremely implausible to anyone not suffering from ethnocentric paranoia.

  • Jewish leaders' excommunication of Sanders aide over Israel will only alienate young Jews -- Open Hillel
  • Israeli journalist Derfner succinctly analyzes the anti-Semitism vs. anti-Zionism debate
    • ritzl: As an example, let me explain how my mother "got over that." One day she went to the synagogue and heard our rabbi say that "Gentiles have always hated us." On hearing this she became aware of a discrepancy between what the rabbi said and what she knew from her own experience: "I have Gentile friends who do not hate me, therefore Gentiles do not always hate us, therefore the rabbi is telling an untruth and inciting hatred." Then she stopped going to the synagogue and broke off relations with the rabbi. The technical terms for this are empiricism (relying on experience) and logical thinking.

  • The Jewish-Israeli navel-gazers
    • hophmi: You don't even know whether he is a Muslim or not, but if you look hard enough for an excuse not to take seriously what he is saying you'll certainly find one.

      The self-absorption of the "liberal Zionist" is not his personal characteristic but a product of a whole system designed to sustain collective ethnic self-absorption, with its own process of "education" and socialization, culture and ideology, even a language specially reconstituted for that purpose. In order to become capable of relating to the humanity of a Palestinian or any other Gentile -- or even to his own -- he must first separate his sense of self from that sustaining environment.

    • Page: 10
  • Attachment to Israel is 'central part of Jewish identity,' Forward editor says
    • When I invited the late Maxim Ghilan, who laid the groundwork for negotiations with the PLO, Brown Hillel were initially very interested in hosting him. Then the organizer called me to cancel the meeting without any explanation. Clearly she had consulted higher ups in the Hillel bureaucracy, who operate a blacklist. The trouble with Hillel is that although it may be FOR Jewish students the students have no control over it whatsoever. It should not be recognized as a student society for that reason.

  • Sanders walks free of the shadows of anti-Communism, Zionism and materialism
    • A major reason why many Jews used to support "socialism" (in one form or another) was their belief that socialism would remove the danger posed by anti-Semitism to themselves. In Russia, which was the homeland of most Jewish immigrants to the US, the socialists were the main opposition to the anti-Semitic tsarist regime. It was not the only reason but it was a very important one. Socialism and Zionism competed for Jewish support as alternative solutions to the "Jewish question." So Jews switched from socialism to Zionism partly because "socialism" (in its Stalinist form) had failed to solve the Jewish question. That was a continuity across the switch.

  • 'Zionism is nationalism, not Judaism,' a former Hebrew school teacher explains
    • I don't think Israel should be called an entity because "entity" is defined as "a thing with distinct and independent existence" and Israel is parasitically dependent (mainly on the US, as we all know). There IS a Zionist entity but it encompasses not only the State of Israel but also Zionist institutions and lobbies.

  • Eric Alterman contradicts himself about anti-Semitism on campus
    • Congratulations, Grover! You have invented a new word -- leftofascist. But you haven't explained its meaning. If it means "left fascist" that term usually refers to SA leader Ernst Rohm and the national-bolsheviks. Is that really the political profile of Mondoweiss? And what kind of fascist are you, by the way? Rightofascist?

  • A 'longtime activist for social justice,' Booker worries his anti-BDS stance will 'rankle' and 'upset' people
    • hophmi: I already explained to you why the "support" of BDS for Intifada does not make it a violent movement. I explained it clearly and thoroughly so even you would be able to understand. But you take no notice and just go on endlessly repeating the same crap. Don't you ever get bored with yourself? I would if I were you.

  • Israelis don't exist
    • The sharp distinction between "citizenship" and "nationality" in Israel may be unfamiliar in the contemporary West, it is in fact a survival of traditional Central and East European practice, dating back to the pre-WW1 era when the region was dominated by multiethnic empires and the "national" principle was based on language and culture (in its milder versions) and/or heredity or "blood" (in its racist variant). Thus while Jews in Britain and France had become citizens of those countries in Russia and Austro-Hungary they were considered one "nationality" alongside others labeled Czechs, Germans, Hungarians, etc. So it was natural that the nationalisms that emerged in that region included not only Polish, Ukrainian, etc. but also Jewish nationalism in its Zionist and various non-Zionist forms.

      The split between "citizenship" (grazhdanstvo) and "nationality" (natsional'nost') was preserved in Russia during the Soviet era and has not disappeared even today.

      The architects of both major wings of Zionism (Labor Zionism and Revisionism) were products of pre-WW1 and interwar Eastern Europe, especially the Russian empire, and naturally shared its mentality. Israel is a sort of living fossil. It looks odd in today's world but in its origin it had numerous counterparts in other ethnic nationalisms.

  • A history of silencing Israeli army whistleblowers – from 1948 until today
  • Zionism is finally in the news, as officials seek to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism
    • The best means of defense is attack. When Zionists make a fuss about anti-Semitism within the anti-Zionist movement, we can and should turn the same accusation back against them. There are also anti-Semites among pro-Israel forces -- for instance, Christian fundamentalists -- and Zionists turn a blind eye. They do not care about anti-Semitism except as a bludgeon to use against their opponents. All they care about is Israel. And in fact their real attitude toward anti-Semitism (except of the exterminationist variety) has always been positive because anti-Semitism alienates Jews from the countries where they live, strengthens their transnational identity as Jews. and facilitates their transfer to Israel.

  • Garland nomination is moment of humble reflection for US Jews
    • Individual Jews have occupied high positions at many times and in many places, but that has never given security to the Jews because a backlash has always followed sooner or later and the "king" can always betray them when it becomes advantageous for him to do so. I see no reason not to assume that the same applies today in these United States. That is no excuse for Zionism, which provides no real security either due to the hated it engenders in the region and also because Israel is a wholly dependent protectorate of the US and will collapse when the backlash comes in this country. The best hope of relative security for the Jews (there is no such thing as absolute security) lies in their own good behavior, in learning greater humility, greater respect for others.

  • Zionism's long and rich history of delegitimizing Palestinians
    • Regarding Israel's "right to exist" I would question whether a state can be said to have rights. People have rights. It is clear what that means. But it is not at all clear what it means to say that a state has rights. Does only Israel have a "right to exist" or is this a right possessed by all states? If the latter then it can never be legitimate under any circumstances to make changes that involve the disappearance of any state. But who (in the West anyway) argues, for example, that the Soviet Union had a right to exist and therefore action required to preserve it would have been justified?

  • 'New York Times' whitewashes poll showing Israeli support for expelling Palestinians
    • dx: A belief in preferential entitlement doesn't automatically involve a desire to expel. Consider white landowners in the South after the Civil War. They certainly didn't believe in equal treatment for blacks, but neither did they want to expel them. On the contrary, they went to great lengths to impede their migration -- because they wanted to exploit their labor.

      So we have a three-way division of Israeli Jewish opinion regarding Palestinians: (1) in favor of expulsion (50%); (2) Jewish supremacist but against expulsion (30%); (3) apparently in favor of equal rights (20%).

  • Palestinians grapple with knife attacks as violence enters fifth month
    • Are the targets always any Israeli who comes to hand? Or are at least some of them specific individuals attacked in revenge for crimes they committed against Palestinians, or perhaps residents of specific settlements in revenge for crimes committed by people from those settlements?

      Private, family or clan revenge is customary in some parts of the world such as the Caucasus. It can be justified where the criminal enjoys immunity, as in Israel and especially the occupied territories for crimes committed by Jews against Palestinians. Unlike random attacks, acts of revenge for specific crimes can give Palestinians the satisfaction of knowing that sometimes justice is done and hopefully deter some Jewish criminals.

  • Trump's Jewish mirror
    • K. Renner -- We know what a ?!!?!?! Steve Grover is (mind you, Grover is one of my favorite Sesame Street monsters, but I suspect that is a different Grover altogether) but we don't know his kids and can't be "certain" how they will turn out. They might be BDS activists for all we know.

  • Sayed Kashua doesn't want to write in Hebrew for 'Haaretz' anymore
    • Yitzgood: I remember from my childhood that before we were "Israelified" we had a different, softer pronunciation of Hebrew, e.g. Shabbos rather than Shabat. It affected some vowels as well as the consonants you mention. This is what first alerted me to the fact that something new was being introduced into Judaism. You clearly assume that this is what Kashua is talking about, but I very much doubt it. The pre-Zionist Hebrew dialect of the Ashkenazi diaspora is unlikely to have been part of his personal experience. I suppose he is referring to remnants of that dialect that remained in the speech of Israeli Jews of Ashkenazi family background -- things like not pronouncing ayin, as you say.

    • Kashua is right on target when he refers to "minority humor." Traditional Jewish humor is quite alien to the Israeli mentality, while Palestinians under Zionist rule naturally develop a type of humor that is very similar to traditional Jewish humor, even to the extent of adopting certain anecdotes virtually verbatim.

      For example, in the preface to his book "Chief Complaint: A Country Doctor's Tales of Life in Galilee" Hatim Kanaaneh tells a "Palestinian joke" about a Palestinian asked to write on the topic of "elephants" who comes up with an essay entitled "The Elephant and the Question of Palestine." He adds: "I am told this is a variant of a European Jewish joke. The irony is bitter: we are the new Jews in Europe's Zionist colonial project." Indeed, many old-Jews must be as familiar as I am with the Jewish variant of this joke, in which a Jewish student submits an essay entitled "The Elephant and the Jewish Question."

      This highlights the SELF-betrayal involved when "old Jews" support the pseudo-Jewish Zionist state -- the state of the "new-Jews" as Kashua says -- instead of showing solidarity with their "fellow old-Jews", i.e., the Palestinians.

  • What brought you to be critical of Israel?
    • pabelmont: Yes, one can read. And with a little more trouble one can find and talk with people who have the first-hand experience that one lacks. And in Palestine one can observe physical evidence of the Nakba: there are still plenty of ruins with their own stories to tell. All that helps one "decide what to believe."

  • Waters: It is dangerous for US and Canada to criminalize a nonviolent form of protest against a foreign regime, BDS
    • hophmi: Let us suppose, purely for the sake of argument, that the Intifada is violent and that BDS and the Intifada do support one another in the sense that they both put pressure on the Israeli government. It does not follow that BDS is itself violent. If it did then whenever a government faced any form of violent resistance all other forms of resistance would also have to be considered violent. For instance, the existence of Bose's Indian National Army would have made Gandhi's movement violent -- and I expect that some British imperial propagandists made exactly that argument. But that is absurd.

      In fact, where boycotts and other non-violent methods play a crucial role in overthrowing a widely hated regime that helps to minimize the amount of violence necessary to achieve that purpose. The case of South Africa shows that: many people had predicted a bloodbath but it was avoided. After 1933 a sufficiently strong boycott of Germany might well have succeeded in overthrowing the Nazi regime peacefully, thereby averting a European war. This was why the Nazi regime was very worried by the boycott and successfully leant on its Zionist proteges to sabotage the movement. If BDS proves successful that will avert a war of annihilation in which most of the Jews as well as enormous numbers of non-Jews in the Middle East will otherwise perish.

  • Understanding the fundamental roots of conflict and suffering: An interview with Rich Forer
    • Brilliant. These ideas clearly merit further study and reflection. I do have some critical reactions though. One of them concerns the relationship between group and common human identity. It seems to me that Zionists DO have a conception of common human identity that straddles group identities. The problem is not so much that they lack such a conception. The problem is that their conception of "human nature" is extremely grim.

      Zionists see life as a remorseless struggle between groups for survival--most pertinently, between Jews and their Gentile enemies. It's either us or them--either we kill and deport them or they kill and deport us. So in order to survive we must conquer, destroy, kill and deport. Compassion would endanger us by weakening our will to fight. It must therefore be suppressed as a threat to our survival.

      The psychodrama is heightened by a specific interpretation of Jewish history. In the past, goes the story, we cultivated our compassion and common human identity. And just look where that got us! Now we (the stronger souls among us) have looked reality in the face and resolved henceforth to run with the wolves.

      This is an outlook shared by other thoroughgoing nationalisms, including Nazism, and also by Bolshevism (except that for Bolsheviks it is class and party that define the groups, not race or ethnicity). Lenin expressed it in graphic terms in a letter to Gorky about music: "I can’t listen to music too often. It affects your nerves, makes you want to say stupid nice things, and stroke the heads of people who could create such beauty while living in this vile hell. And now you mustn’t stroke anyone’s head—you might get your hand bitten off."

  • Suicides on the rise in Gaza
  • Over 300 psychotherapists oppose holding annual research conference in Jerusalem
    • Perhaps as a compromise the Gaza Mental Health Foundation would agree to host the conference in Gaza. Plenty of mental health problems for them to research there. Of course they should "reach out" to Israeli psychotherapists and encourage them to attend.

  • Austrian Parliament cancels International Women's Day event following attacks on Hedy Epstein
  • Palestinian citizens of Israel respond to poll showing Jewish support for expelling Arabs from country
    • YoniFalic: My impression is that the use of articles in Yiddish follows that in German, which is what one might expect given that Yiddish is a German dialect. The Slavic languages do not use articles at all (so far as I know). I know there is a theory that Israeli Hebrew takes its syntactical structure from Yiddish, which in turn takes its syntactical structure from Slavic languages. But with respect to articles in particular Yiddish as a Germanic language is quite different from Slavic. So the theory has only limited validity, I think. Israeli Hebrew also carries strong influences from the literary models of classical (biblical) Hebrew (directly or via rabbinical Hebrew).

    • a blah chick: For that and other reasons the Zionists will probably rely for some time to come on ghettoization and "transfer" of Palestinian citizens of Israel probably means their separation from Jewish-Israeli society, deprivation of their citizenship, and transfer to ghetto areas within Palestine. However, historical experience shows that ghettoization demoralizes people, weakens them physically and morally, and over time reduces them to a condition in which they are no longer able to put up much resistance (even assuming they can get weapons). That is what the Nazis did to the Jews and that is what the Zionists are doing to the Palestinians. Ghada Karmi talks about the demoralizing effect that isolation in ghettoes is having on West Bankers in her memoir.

  • Study: At least 78% of humanitarian aid intended for Palestinians ends up in Israeli coffers
  • Most Jews want to expel Palestinians -- Pew's ugly portrait of Israel
    • There has been a big decline in the proportion of Palestinian citizens of Israel who believe in the possibility of a two-state solution: "As recently as 2013, roughly three-quarters of Israeli Arabs (74%) said a peaceful two-state solution was possible. As of early 2015, 50% say such an outcome is possible."

      The proportion of Israeli Jews who believe in the possibility of a two-state solution is somewhat lower still, though it fluctuates.

      It seems that the pollsters did not ask about the possibility of a one-state solution.

  • A totalitarian democracy
    • Wolin's "inverted totalitarianism" is different from what is emerging in Israel. It rests on an atomized, depoliticized citizenry (as did the Soviet regime under Brezhnev), while the Israeli variant rests on a citizenry mobilized in active support of the regime (and is therefore more comparable to the "high Stalinism" in the USSR or China during the "cultural revolution").

      Another important point is that Israeli totalitarianism is a new phenomenon emerging right now. In the past, although the phenomena described by Howard Cohen already existed (e.g., Ben Gurion was also greeted with chants of "David David Melech Yisrael"), they took milder forms. The "almost" that Fritz questions did then exist. It was not a totally closed system and some sort of communication with the outside was possible. Now all internal opposition is being squeezed out and the system is becoming genuinely totalitarian. That has enormous consequences and we are far from grasping and absorbing them all, but this essay is a brilliant start.

      I hope the author gets safely back to England soon.

  • 'We wasted 40 years talking about nothing, doing nothing' -- Pappe demolishes peace process
    • Phil: I wonder why you think Pappe's "anecdote" is exaggerated? I believe him.

    • There are two major paradigms for describing and trying to improve interethnic relations. Each has its own "industry" of researchers in think-tanks and academia, political campaigns, etc. One is the "conflict resolution" paradigm, the other is the "human rights" paradigm. The target of Ilan Pappe's critique is the predominance of the conflict-resolution paradigm in approaching Israel/Palestine. Conflict resolution pays little if any attention to power asymmetry between the conflicting groups; it does not ask who is oppressing whom. It demands equal "concessions" from each side in order to achieve a "realistic compromise solution" -- even if that "solution" means hell on earth for the weaker side. The only thing that matters is "peace" in the narrow sense of the absence of overt violence. So long as there is no violent resistance even genocide is logically compatible with conflict resolution. The great advantage of "one-state solutions" is that they break the framework of "conflict resolution" and create space for concern for people and their rights.

  • Why I support a one state solution and still consider myself a Zionist
    • Theo: "I wish we had laws to take away your american citizenship and declare you persona non grata in the country."

      Well, assuming for the sake of argument that she (like so many others) has dual American and Israeli citizenship, would you sooner deny her the right to live in the US and force her to live in Israel-Palestine or deny her the right to live in I-P and tolerate her presence in the US? Or perhaps send her to live in Antarctica?

    • "(Semi-)autonomy" and "self-determination" sound nice. The problems accumulate when you consider what specific institutions are to embody these principles. How will they work? Who will run them in practice? What about the rights of those who are opposed to the way "their" group institutions are run -- not to mention those who do not belong and/or do not want to belong to any of the recognized groups? Will people have the right to join groups to which they do not belong by birth or upbringing or switch from one group to another? Consider, for instance, the position of African refugees or immigrant workers from Romania or Thailand together with their Israel-born children. These are only some of the conflicts between the self-determination of individuals and the self-determination of groups. Which takes precedence?

  • The Tantura massacre of 1948 and the academic character assassination of Teddy Katz
    • On Tantura see also my interview with Hala Gabriel, whose family were survivors of the massacre:

      link to

      The interview is accompanied by a video of Hala's interviews with survivors, part of her project for a documentary on the massacre, "Road to Tantura."

      Marwan Yahya, whose memoir Jonathan Ofir mentions, is Hala's father.

  • Isaac Herzog 'NYT' op-ed shows Knesset opposition indistinguishable from Netanyahu coalition
    • The article in the NYT does not say whether Israeli withdrawal from the Jordan Valley is part of his plan. Does anyone know? The Jordan Valley adds many points to the so-called "tiny percentage."

      Another misleading thing about the "tiny percentage" is that it doesn't include the string of big Jewish settlements around Jerusalem, all of which are incorporated into Greater Jerusalem, the whole of which is now counted as part of Israel proper. It is clear that Herzog has no intention of sharing Jerusalem -- the only change he wants to the status quo is to transfer a few Palestinian villages from Greater Jerusalem to the West Bank.

      The next question is what he would offer by way of land swaps? It would fit the overall goal of separation if the bits of land transferred to the PA from within the Green Line just happened to be populated mainly by Israeli Palestinians -- the Triangle and perhaps a stretch of the Negev left to the Bedouins. Though only Lieberman pushes for this in public, Tsipi Livni also favors it and it is probably considered desirable by all the big Zionist parties.

  • Palestine and the anxiety of existence
    • This is brilliant.

      The "tossed into the sea to drown" motif became part of Israeli Jews' fears through exploitation of Shukhairy's demagogic threats, which may have had their origin in the real experience of Palestinians being pushed into the sea to drown during the Nakba. In Haifa, for instance, they were stampeded by Haganah gunfire into the harbor, where many were unable to board vessels and get away. The only people in this conflict who have been drowned in the sea so far are Palestinians. More recently the Israeli navy has done it to Gaza fishermen.

      Jewish survival anxiety is a real phenomenon, but it should always be stressed that by now it is mainly an artificial product of the Holocaust cult. The Zionists (I mean the puppet masters not their Jewish victims) deliberately harp on the Holocaust in order to sustain the survival anxiety on which the continuation of their project depends. The anxiety has no basis in the post-1945 reality, which has now prevailed for seventy years.

  • Israeli farms exploit Thai workers and Palestinian children as government looks the other way
    • That was the pattern even before 1948 -- get hold of land, throw the native farmers off the land, then employ them as laborers, perhaps even tilling the land they once owned or rented. Then later replace them with Jewish laborers (except now -- Thais).

  • Jews aren't special
    • The key biblical concept in Jewish specialness is priestliness. Jews are a holy people, a people of priests. So far as I know this is a unique idea. What other group has this self-conception? Other peoples have priestly castes, like India's Brahmins, and Jews have two priestly castes -- Cohanim and Levites -- but ALL Jews are priests in relation to the Nations (Gentiles), that is, intermediaries between them and God.

      Where does it go from there? I see a bifurcation. On the one hand there is the idea that Jews are "a light unto the Nations." They will teach the Nations by their example and bring them closer to God, that is, closer to being Jews. When this task is completed the Jews have fulfilled their mission and can disappear as a special group. Arguably this has already happened when a slight mutation of Judaism, i.e., Christianity, became a universal religion.

      Alternatively, priestliness can be understood statically as a permanent mark of superiority over the Nations. This was the form the idea took in late medieval rabbinical Judaism, now resurrected in Israel -- Gentiles are no longer seen as potential Jews but as inferior beings intermediate between animals and real humans, i.e., Jews, and like animals they exist only to serve Jews.

      Regardless of which form it takes, the "specialness" is deeply embedded in the psyche and does not automatically disappear with the end of religious observance. For males it is carved into the most intimate part of the body as genital mutilation (circumcision). It is gradually dissolving nonetheless, as people of Jewish origin gain in awareness and assimilate into humanity.

  • Videos: Proof of Sanders's lifelong anti-racist activism breaks on eve of Nevada Caucus
    • Mooser: I have never even met any of the Clintons. My information comes from a book by Katherine Willey, one of the women Bob assaulted, among other exposes. It isn't a matter of foibles. It's a consistent pattern of behavior over many years staggering in its viciousness, thuggery, ruthlessness, and predatory sadism.

    • German Lefty: Hillary has always shown excellent judgment. She grabbed Bill and held on to him because he was a pliant vehicle of her political ambitions. She got angry with him for his sexual affairs and assaults not because her feelings were hurt but because his lack of discretion endangered their joint political career. She was in charge of operations to intimidate his victims into silence and presumably derived some satisfaction from that.

  • Law firm pulls $250,000 gift to Harvard over Palestine event (demonstrating Zionism's pervasiveness)
    • bettyberenson: The Romanies (Gypsies) are widely persecuted. Surely they too deserve a state of their own in their ancient homeland -- Punjab? (Here I assume that the theory of their origin in Punjab is correct; if you think they came from somewhere else, you can substitute a different ancient homeland.) What rights do they have in Punjab vis-a-vis the current (mainly Sikh) inhabitants?

  • Prioritizing Palestine over the Presidency: Intersectional feminism's challenge to Hillary Clinton
    • Hillary Clinton's support for Israel is just one part of the imperialist foreign policy she has pursued throughout the world. Her support of the regime established by the military coup in Honduras is another example. Diana Johnstone has surveyed the subject in her book "Queen of Chaos."

  • OK. We knew. So?
    • The difference is that under the Nazi regime many Germans really did not know! They may have heard rumors but they had no way of assessing their reliability. Those who did know from their service in the East were severely punished if they tried to share their knowledge with civilians back home. For instance, one soldier was court-martialed because while on leave he showed relatives photos he had taken of atrocities against Jews. A memoirist tells how in an air raid shelter a soldier begins talking about the terrible things he saw in Ukraine -- a Gestapo man takes him outside and shoots him. So the accusation that Germans knew but pretended they didn't, while no doubt true in specific cases, was on the whole unfair -- a product of the anti-German hatred fed by wartime propaganda.

      Nowadays it is extremely easy to find out about Israel's crimes from the internet. A sustained effort is needed NOT to know. Any Zionists who claim they didn't know will be much less credible than were Germans who claimed the same thing. Their responsibility is correspondingly all the greater.

  • 'Other ways of being Jewish are available' -- a poetic response to expressions of hatred on Facebook
    • There is no way of knowing, but it ain't necessarily so. No doubt Anne Frank was a sensitive and compassionate person but that was within her own familiar surroundings and not everyone with those qualities proves capable of extending them to people from unfamiliar cultures. Not all Zionists are insensitive brutes. Many are sensitive and compassionate like Anne but their horizon is narrow. They cannot say with Terence: "I am human and nothing human is alien to me."

    • And that is how they want it. And they do their damnedest to make it so.

  • NY's Public Theater cancels Palestinian production, 'The Siege,' it agreed to stage in May
    • The website of The Public Theater carries the statement: "The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust provides leadership support for The Public Theater’s year-round activities." I suppose this is the most likely source of opposition. But if putting on the play was always contingent on the consent of funders and this consent had not been obtained, then the promise must have been insincere even at the time it was made.

  • Maya Angelou stood with Palestinians, but Israeli military uses her for Black History Month hasbara
  • 'New York Times' picks up Bernie Sanders's 'socialist' kibbutz but leaves out the ethnic cleansing
    • I see nothing unacceptable in what kalithea says. It is very easy to fall into wishful thinking ("wishful daydreaming" may be closer to the mark) and I suspect that I too have been indulging in it. There really is no evidence that Bernie is a closet anti-Zionist. His kibbutz experience may have formed a deep emotional tie to Israel that he has never broken.

      That said, he is obviously a moderate Zionist as Zionists go. If as president he were to speak his mind and act in accordance with his convictions he might force the Israelis into concessions that would give the Palestinians a little more hope. But he is a politician. He is cautious and "realistic." Not only has he not questioned Zionism, he has not even voiced any open criticism of the Netanyahu government.

      How do we know that he will start to act differently if he becomes president? We don't. Remember Obama? He too aroused our wishful daydreaming. He too had left-wing associations in his youth. There were signs that he too might moderate the US bias toward Israel. And when he was elected that expectation seemed to be vindicated by his Cairo speech. And then two whole terms and absolutely nothing. A few words of timid criticism of Israel by his underlings, presumably with his approval, but never the slightest hint of real pressure. What reason do we have to expect Sanders to do better?

  • Bernie Sanders' spirituality is resonating with young religious 'None's
    • Bernie: "I believe as a human being that the pain one person feels– if we have children who are hungry in America, if we have elderly people who can’t afford their prescription drugs– that impacts me."

      The first sentence, though not completed, implies that Bernie cares about every human being. But then the two examples he gives both express caring for Americans and the "society" he worries about is clearly the United States. Does he care about people in other countries? Is he a universal humanist or merely an American patriot? Who knows?

    • Spirituality means not being religious without having to call yourself an atheist.

  • Saudi court overturns death sentence for Ashraf Fayadh; new sentence is 8 years and 800 lashes
    • What happens to him if he refuses to go along with the "public repentance" on national television? After all, what has he to repent for?

      He himself speaks like a prophet denouncing the wealthy and powerful. They never did like prophets.

      Israel cannot be defended by comparing it to Saudi Arabis because it too is a theocratic state. For historical reasons Israel is less extreme in this respect than Saudi Arabia, but it is making admirable efforts to close the gap.

  • 'An Arab is an Arab'
    • True. Conflict also ties people together into a perverse sort of community. But conflict wasn't the whole story. How, for instance, could the British administration have functioned if there was nothing but conflict between its Palestinian-Arab and Palestinian-Jewish employees? I know that what I an saying is hard to believe from where we stand now, but study the sources from that period and you'll see I'm not wholly wrong.

    • For most of the pre-state history of the Zionist movement all Zionists were Ashkenazim (European Jews). Like most Ashkenazim, they had hardly any awareness of Arab or other non-European Jews or of the role of Arab culture in the history of Judaism (e.g. the fact that the famous Jewish scholars of Moorish Spain wrote and spoke in Arabic). Golda Meir even thought that all Jews come from a Yiddish-speaking background. The same distorted vision was characteristic of the British and other Europeans and Westerners. The Jews that the anti-Semites wanted to get rid of were European Jews, and the Jews that the Zionists wanted to turn into a nation in Palestine were European Jews. After 1948 they hoped to fill up the lands vacated by the Nakba with more Russian Jews from the USSR and were very disappointed when they had to make do with Arab Jews instead.

      All this fits your thesis very well. However, your view of British perceptions is oversimplified. The British DID use the term "Palestinian" during the Mandate, and they used it to refer to ALL the residents of Palestine, including both Jews and Arabs. At the time, moreover, the Jews, even the Zionists, accepted the word and applied it to themselves. They called themselves Palestinian Jews. So despite the Zionist-Arab conflict there was at that time a general Palestinian identity that encompassed both communities. It even had some practical manifestations, such as a certain amount of joint trade unionism and the Arab-Jewish municipal administration in Haifa. Of course, this joint identity was not strong enough to survive the British withdrawal and after 1948 it disappeared down the memory hole together with its linguistic expression in the word "Palestinian." But it did exist. And it can exist again.

  • 'We are all Jews' -- the Holocaust as imperial export
    • Under Polish rule the Jews did indeed form a privileged estate allied with the even more privileged estate of the Polish nobility, but under Russian rule they all fell on hard times. It's true that even an impoverished Jew or Polish noble was better off than a serf, and the Jewish poor could rely on communal charity. The Polish nobles never completed abandoned their noble identity, but they were absorbed into modern Polish nationalism, just as the Jews eventually created their own nationalisms, Zionism and Bundism, which borrowed a lot from their Polish counterpart. So the two cases are similar in many ways (abstracting from the colonial dimension of Zionism).

      I'm not convinced that our rejecting Jewish identity is helpful to Palestinians. Denunciation of Israel does not depend on rejection of Jewish identity. Many Jews denounce Israel in the name of Judaism or Jewishness. In fact, rejecting Jewish identity altogether may lead to near-indifference to the issue of Palestine. Why should a de-Judaized progressive care about Palestine more than about Myanmar, for instance? Rosa Luxemburg had no special feeling for Jewish suffering, but even if she had survived another few decades I don't think she would have developed any special feeling for Palestinian suffering either.

    • Mayhem: "was not faced by any other group"?

      Do you really not know about the Porajmos -- the Romani genocide??

    • I don't where Obama got the idea of saying "we are all Jews" but perhaps it comes from when the Paris students in 1968 chanted "we are all German Jews" after the French education minister referred disparagingly to Daniel Cohn-Bendit as a "German Jew." If it is supposed to mean "we all stand in solidarity with the persecuted" -- not that Obama has the right to claim any such thing -- then the contemporary equivalent should be: "we are all Palestinians."

  • Cultural Zionism good, political Zionism bad
    • There were really two distinct "cultural Zionisms." The first was the "Love of Zion" movement, which arose in Russia in the 1850s, long before Herzl and organized political Zionism. The revival of Hebrew as a modern literary language began with them. Was Abraham Mapu's Hebrew contaminated with the Yiddish and Slavic substratum that marked the Hebrew that began to develop in Palestine half a century later? I don't know but I would guess not. The earlier cultural Zionism was more distinct from political Zionism and could provide a more genuine Hebrew alternative for those Israeli Jews who feel a need for one as they struggle to wean themselves off political Zionism.

  • American Jewish Committee agent tries to dig up anti-Semitic dirt in a German refugee housing block
  • How many more orgasms will be had for Zionism?
    • Siberiak: There is plenty of evidence if you look hard enough. Another important project was the Kimberley Scheme to give refuge to European Jews in a region of North Australia (see Leon Gettler, An Unpromised Land). The contribution of Zionists to torpedoing such plans is hard to pin down because they were not the only opponents, but they certainly had an impact -- in some cases probably a decisive one. When naive Gentile sympathizers encountered virulent Zionist hostility in the name of "the Jews" they got confused and frustrated. It led many to abandon their efforts. They didn't understand the divisions among Jews or the anti-Semitic character of Zionism.

      However, some decent Gentiles persisted in rescuing Jews in spite of Zionist hostility. The Swedish government and parliament felt sure they were doing the right thing in taking in Jewish refugees and ignored the despicable opposition of Sweden's Jewish establishment, whose Zionism expressed their fear that newcomers would undermine their own position in Swedish society. They did not want to go to Palestine themselves -- they were Zionists in the sense of the ironic definition that "a Zionist is a Jew who pays a second Jew to send a third Jew to Palestine."

    • Yes, Mooser, newspeak it is. George Orwell explains it in 1984. Newspeak is a language designed to destroy thought and make thought crime impossible. Each successive version eliminates more words and concepts. Orwell gives a typical sentence: "Oldthinkers (people who still think in the old way) unbellyfeel (lack an intuitive feeling for) Ingsoc (English Socialism, the orthodoxy in Oceania)" -- I just replaced Ingsoc by Jewsoc. It could be called Ziosoc, but Jewsoc is better at conveying its "Jewish" character.

      One glaring difference, of course, is the attitude toward sex. Orwell's Junior Anti-Sex League is a far cry from the sexual utopia that the Zionists sell to Jewish youth. But perhaps Orwell and Reich were wrong about the cult of power necessarily having roots in sexual repression. The Nazis were divided over sex, with the SS celebrating Aryan sexual freedom in defiance of the philistine taboos of Nazis more closely tied to conservative tradition.

    • Once you have absorbed this intoxicating but poisonous brew how do you ever get it out of your system? Not without long inner turmoil, I suspect.

    • Oldthinkers unbellyfeel Jewsoc, Mooser.

  • Did Obama blunder in Haiti because he has to pay so much attention to Israel?
  • Dennis Ross says Clinton was the only president to stamp down anti-Israel forces inside the White House
    • He understands much more than he lets on. A lawyer, yes. For a lawyer words are weapons. Whatever words will best serve his client's interest in a given situation. It's futile to look for logic in them. The logic is there but it is hidden behind the words.

  • Adelson newspaper suggests Swedish foreign minister deserves assassination for questioning Israeli policy
    • gamal: That is Ishmael Khaldi. Kamal, as I said, is retired from the University of Damascus.

    • Logically they are equally unjustified, but in the aftermath of the Nakba the binationalist Zionists must have seemed less toxic than the uninationalist variety to some of those Palestinians who were aware of their existence.

      The interlopers did not immigrate as armed bands. They came unarmed and relied on the protection of the Ottoman and then the British mandatory authorities, only gradually building up the armed forces with which they eventually conquered Palestine.

    • I expect that Khalidi and Khaldi are variants of the same name and that it traces back to the general you mention, but what current relevance that has is beyond me. Some prefer to use one variant, some the other. Perhaps Kamal Khaldi wants to avoid being confused with the Palestinian-American scholar Rashid Khalidi.

    • Magnes was one of a group of Jewish intellectuals in Palestine at that time known as Ihud (Unity) who advocated a binational state in the whole of Palestine as an alternative to partition. The philosopher Martin Buber was another prominent member of the group. After the Nakba scholars in a number of Arab countries picked up their ideas. In particular, the exiled Palestinian political scientist Kamal Khaldi, who joined the faculty of the University of Damascus, wrote a book on a binational state in Palestine that was published in Arabic in Beirut. An English translation exists but has not yet been published. On the Israeli side, the former vice mayor of Jerusalem Menon Benvenisti has been advocating binationalism in recent years (he writes about it in his book "Son of the Cypresses"). I met both Khaldi and Benvenisti when they attended a conference at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies in 2000.

  • 'Little Jewboy' moment highlights coming divorce between US Jews and Israel
    • I wonder how long it is since Mr. Shapiro was called a "Jewboy" or subjected to any other anti-Semitic slur by a Gentile fellow American (if he ever was). For that he had to go to Israel! It may help him understand the real nature of Zionism.

  • Sanders calls for moving 'aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran'
  • What's the big difference between Israel's 1967 occupation and its 1948 occupation?
    • Of course 1947-8 and 1967 are two stages in the same process of Zionist expansion, but there are some significant differences. The ethos is different. The ethos in the first stage of settlement and conquest was secular and collectivist, left-nationalist, national socialist in the broad sense. The ethos in the current stage is religious nationalist.

  • Are Palestinian citizens of Israel banned from New York Times headlines?
    • It is not an official position of the PLO or PA that Palestinians are not Arab, but it is a common reaction of Palestinians disappointed at the limited help and solidarity they receive from other Arabs or feeling not understood by them. It is also a protest against the Israelis' stigmatization of them as Arabs. In both contexts a distinct Palestinian identity is ultimately a product of the Nakba. It is more of a political statement than an objective assessment, because of course Palestinians still have a lot in common with other Arabs. They speak a dialect of Arabic, after all. But over time the divergence may widen and acquire more objective substance.

    • From 1948 until Oslo it was a norm of Israeli discourse to recognize only "Arabs". The word "Palestinian" was prohibited. No such species existed. That applied not only to "Israeli Arabs" but to all the other categories of Palestinians. For instance, the people in the refugee camps were "Arab refugees" not "Palestinian refugees." The purpose of this norm was to minimize Israel's guilt for the Nakba and any right the exiles might have to return. The expelled "Arabs" had not been robbed of their homeland but merely transferred from one province of the broad Arab homeland to neighboring provinces -- not such a big deal. Viewing the Palestinians simply as "Arabs" makes possible the still popular argument that "the Arabs have so many states, why can't we be allowed just one?" (During its heyday pan-Arab nationalism inadvertently facilitated this Israeli usage.)

      With Oslo the existence of "Palestinians" received official recognition, but it was not explained who they were, where they had come from, or why they had suddenly moved out of non-existence and into existence. It was not admitted that the earlier usage had been erroneous. Ordinary Israelis and Zionists still felt uncomfortable with the word, and not only because it was rather long.

      The people now in power in Israel seek to erase the terminological innovations associated with Oslo and return to the previous usage. I don't think it is just a strategy to divide the Palestinians by recognizing some of them as Palestinians but not others, although that is perhaps a half-way stage. The goal is again to prohibit the word "Palestinian" in all contexts.

  • Facebook censors cartoon critical of Israel
  • Why Israel has silenced the 1948 story of Nazareth’s survival
    • I have two editions of "Dual Allegiance." The first edition contains an account of what happened at Nazareth that is excised from the later edition.

      According to the first edition, Dunkelman signed an agreement with the city notables in which he promised not to harm or expel the inhabitants. Obeying the order of General Laskov would have meant breaking the agreement and Dunkelman felt that would be dishonorable. Killing and expelling civilians in the absence of an agreement was presumably honorable.

      I am sure Ben Gurion could have found a way to enforce Leskov's order but instead he decided to countermand it. Perhaps the religious significance of Nazareth to Christians worldwide was a consideration. Perhaps also Ben Gurion did not want to alienate Dunkelman, whose services he greatly valued and who came from quite a prominent Jewish-Canadian family.

  • My one word interrogation at Ben Gurion airport
    • d65: My question was directed to Miko Peled and to Michael Rabb, who associates himself with what Peled said. I was reacting to Peled's use of the imperative mode: "Spare them etc." And to his assumption that you can either challenge Palestinians who identify their oppressors with Jews in general or challenge Jews who remain silent or worse. Why can't you challenge both? Solidarity with Palestinians doesn't require us to accept guilt for crimes in which we took no part.

    • I agree: no indignation, no long lectures. But how about making the point with a brief remark? For instance: "I'm a Jew and if I could I would give you back your land / release your father / let you return." Is that allowed?

  • Knesset anti-BDS meeting reveals Israeli fear of isolation
    • I too can see no alternative to the South African model, but I am worried by apparent differences that make Israel a much harder nut to crack. British companies played a big role in the South African economy and in bringing about the transition to majority rule. Afrikaners as an ethnic group did have a similar mentality to the Israeli Jews, but they constituted only half of the white population. Europeans had been established in the country for centuries already and the ANC never aimed to throw them out. All these things made it clear to a decisive section of the white population and especially the elite that they only faced a loss of formal political domination; they knew they were not going to be massacred, expelled, or even dispossessed. Most Israelis have no such confidence -- they really see no viable alternative (ein brera). If a dangerous animal is backed into a corner and sees no way of escape it will lunge out. It is necessary to convince the Israelis not only that they will have to pay an intolerable price for their obduracy but also that they do have a way out.

  • New Jersey teenager threatened with legal action by high school over pro-Palestine activism (Update)
    • 'The state could determine that she had committed an act of bullying for a tweet that referred to a fellow student as “that pro-Israel girl from my school.”'

      Does that amount to regarding "pro-Israel" as an insult?

    • hophmi: If she had been a pro-Israel activist no action whatsoever would have been taken against her. Anyone who knows the political situation in this country knows that. I can't believe that you don't know it too. It's very clear who the bully is here -- it's the principal. I don't believe that isn't clear to you too. Any subterfuge to protect Zionism and its reign of intimidation.

  • Palestinian citizens of Israel hold the key -- Zellner
    • It is a fundamental human right not to have scary-looking people around, especially in enclosed spaces like airplanes. Anyone has the right to call anyone else scary and get them removed, immediately and without argument. That applies not only to passengers but also to cabin staff and pilots. We know what harm dodgy pilots can do. Then everyone will feel comfortable except the people who have been removed, and they don't matter. True, people will start to fear that others will find them scary and pre-empt by declaring others scary first. Then no one will fly and the airlines will go bankrupt. That will be very good for the climate and environment.

  • Sophisticated Orientalism in the New York Times
    • It certainly isn't enough to explain the doctrinal differences, but it shouldn't be assumed that they are totally irrelevant to the social, political, and economic factors in the Sunni-Shi'i division. Historically Shi'ism arose as a rebellion against caliphs seen as corrupt (after the first four "righteous" caliphs) in the name of the original Islam, and in Sunni-dominated countries such as Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Lebanon Shi'ism still has this character as a rebellion of "underdogs". That is reminiscent of certain Protestant groups in Europe (e.g. Anabaptists). However, in another respect the stronger parallel is that between Shi'ism and Catholicism as variants of their respective religions with a unified clerical hierarchy, and that is more relevant when we consider a Shi'i society like Iran. (For this account I am indebted to a classroom discussion of the topic with Arab students when I was teaching at Brown University.)

  • Palestinian source for feel-good 'NYT' story on Haifa says newspaper censored his political views
    • This article lies at the intersection of two genres of hasbara. One is "Haifa hype," which uses the atypical relative tolerance of Haifa to give Israel a "cosmopolitan" image. The other is a contemporary version of the old claim (going back at least to the British Mandate) that the Zionist presence in Palestine assists social and cultural progress in Arab society. Neither of these ideas is completely devoid of truth, but then good propaganda is built not on lies but on exaggerated, isolated, and decontextualized elements of truth.

  • Goodbye to all that (my Jewish-WASP shtik)
    • Mooser: When I say "God" I'm not talking about a real entity. How can I be when I don't believe in God? I'm talking about God as he appears in the sacred writings of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. God is mentioned many times in these writings so even without temerity we can use them to describe him. One remarkable thing about God is that he often expresses human feelings and behaves in human ways. He makes deals (covenants) and gambles (see start of the Book of Job). He is irascible and does horrible things when angry (e.g., to Sodom and Gomorrah) but later he may regret them. It is odd for a being with absolute attributes to act this way. Is the similarity between man and God a result of God making man in his own image or man making God in his own image? Which seems more likely? Anyway, I can understand believers being afraid of God, or afraid of not being sufficiently afraid. I wonder whether fear of God makes people better or worse. It depends on what they think God wants them to do or not to do.

    • Italian ex-pat: The myth of romantic individualism leads people to overlook (or at least attach too little importance to) something that in the old days everyone knew very well -- when you marry you hitch yourself not just to an individual but to a whole family. Especially if you are a woman in a patriarchal culture where the wife joins the husband's family rather than vice versa.

      Even now, I would advise a Gentile woman not to marry a Jew unless she has determined -- not just by asking him but experimentally -- either that both he and his close relatives are truly open-minded and welcoming (possible though unlikely) or that in the conflicts that are certain to arise between her and her in-laws he will unequivocally take her side.

    • Mooser: God is King of the Universe (melech ha'olam). He rules as an absolute monarch over everyone and everything. He gives us commandments (we lucky Jews get 613 of them, Gentiles have to make do with fewer) and if we want to secure our place in the world to come and avoid the eternal torments of hellfire we had better obey them. He makes his wishes known to us through prophets, who receive his words on tablets at mountaintops or by dictation from an angel. I expect you can fill in more details yourself.

      That is the conception of God on which the religions of the Book are based. The Enlighteners introduced a weaker conception of God as an abstract "first cause" that set the universe in motion and then left it to its own devices. A god of that sort has no need to communicate with us through angels, prophets, holy writ, or commandments, nor will he bother to send any messiahs our way. Belief in such a god is no basis for being a Jew, Christian, or Moslem.

    • Yes, I was serious.

      It isn't necessary to expel believers, it suffices to intimidate them. In Albania under the "communist" regime there was a particularly strict anti-religious policy. That temporarily suppressed the Christian-Moslem conflict in that country, as you had to be an atheist. But it wasn't safe to have political differences with the regime even if you were an atheist.

    • In Northern Ireland non-Christians and non-believers are identified and identify themselves as Protestants or Catholics on the basis of family and community connections and the associated accent, mannerisms etc. Thus the joke: "Are you a Protestant or a Catholic?" "A Jew." "Are you a Protestant Jew or a Catholic Jew?" Or for "Jew" substitute "atheist."

      It seems to me that if you don't even believe in God -- let alone the coming of the Messiah, the Virgin Birth, or the Seal of the Prophets -- you are not a Jew, Christian, or Moslem but only a fraud, a hypocrite, and a moral coward. You can still give expression to your family origins by saying: "I am from a Jewish (Catholic, Shi'i, etc.) background." It is enough to be human.

  • The Rabin distraction
    • Israeli through and through but not allowed to have "Israeli" entered on his or her identity card.

    • From the documents disclosed in the Palestine Papers we now know that the Palestinian side only asked for two settlements to be dismantled in order to restore some contiguity to what remained of the West Bank -- Ariel (mentioned in the article) and Ma'aleh Adumim. These two settlements now have 80,000 residents between them (Ariel 20,000; MA 60,000), so Hophmi is right -- even if Israel accedes to these modest requests the maximum number of evictions is 80,000. But Israel has never offered to remove any big settlements at all, only a few isolated outposts, i.e. only a few hundred evictions.

  • US university defeated BDS by hiring three Israeli soldiers to talk up 'love' for Israel
  • Not the only 'proud Palestinian' in the family--Gigi Hadid's father details refugee history in Syria
    • Well, I have gone through eyewitness accounts of what happened during the Nakba in various places. There were Jews who refused to participate in expulsions or tried to protect one or another local Palestinian community. Some succeeded, some failed, but I have not come across any cases of "revenge" against them. They were not numerous enough to jeopardize the overall project of ethnic cleansing, so the easiest thing was to evade their efforts. If you didn't want to evict your neighbors, tenants, or hosts the Haganah would do it instead. So Jewish refugees who took it upon themselves to kick out their Palestinian benefactors were not acting under irresistible pressure, they were displaying a quite unnecessary level of Zionist zeal. Perhaps they felt embarrassed by their friendship with Palestinians and wanted to make sure that other Jews did not regard them as "Arab-lovers."

    • Kris: I don't think this is a matter of language. The refugees from Poland who dispossessed Zaid's family would probably have spoken Yiddish as their first language and possibly Polish. Both those languages have a word for "betray" (aroysgeben, zdradzać). As recent arrivals in Palestine they would almost certainly have not spoken much Ivrit. But in any case Ivrit too has a word for betrayal or breach of trust: בְּגִידָה

      I would guess they betrayed your trust because (a) they were culturally narrow people who did not include Arabs among those deserving of their consideration; and in addition (b) so absorbed in their own sense of victimhood that they had no awareness of an obligation not to victimize others. But I would like to track down those who did such things and find out what they have to say about it.

      Zaid: I wonder in what language your family communicated with these refugees. I wonder how it came about that you took them in. And I wonder whether there was any warning sign in their attitude toward you (indifference? contempt?).

    • I recall an interview in which Ghada Karmi says that the Palestinians are a fragmented people and are gradually losing their Palestinian identity and forgetting. Palestinians become Palestinian-Americans and then Americans, or Anglo-Palestinian and then British, etc. Some grow up never hearing about Palestine though later they may reclaim their heritage (like Ghana Karmi herself, or see my interview with Hala Gabriel). A gradual process of assimilation over the generations is inevitable, as it is for Jews, though the Zionists were clearly wrong in underestimating how long it will take. Perhaps it will be slow enough to give Israel a good chance of destroying itself first, showing that injustice doesn't always triumph.

  • Remembering Dr. Adel Yahya: How a pioneer of Palestinian oral history taught me to listen
    • Can you tell us a little about Dr. Adel Yahya's own family background? I ask because the Yahya's were the leading family in the village of Tantura before its destruction in 1948. Ruins of their house are still standing. Or perhaps it is a common name and there is no connection.

  • Brazil and Israel square off in diplomatic showdown over settler envoy
  • 'Valentino's Ghost' makes comeback after 4 years of suppression
  • Congress seeks to undermine Iran deal by linking Iran with ISIS
    • When Adam Szubin says that ISIL is "raising hundreds of millions of dollars in a year from internal sources" one of the things he is referring to is the oil exported by middlemen through Turkish ports, much of which ends up in Israel for use or resale. So when he says "we don’t have those same chokepoints to go after in terms of the foreign flows" he is talking gibberish. What he means is that Israel is profiting from this trade and Israel is sacrosanct.

  • Merry Christmas and get out of Israel, you blood-drinking Christian vampires

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