Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 1069 (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 1069 - 1001

  • Calling someone a 'Zionist' is anti-Semitic and abusive, say British lawmakers
    • Most people do not know what Zionism is. They never use the term. They rely on the mass media for their political knowledge and the mass media never explain what Zionism is. So polls that ask them about Zionism are useless. What can the pseudo-statistics generated by such polls tell us? Probably they tell us whether respondents feel that "Zionism" is a nice word or a nasty one, that's all.

  • Amos Oz would never stand in the street in Tel Aviv shouting 'Kill all the Arabs'
    • Oz is confusing the geographical concept of 'country' with the political concept of 'state regime.' Russia, Germany, and Palestine are names of countries. The Soviet Union, the Third Reich, and Israel are names of political regimes. Surely it is legitimate to be against the existence of a particular political regime that has committed terrible crimes?

      I don't know whether Oz is really unable to grasp this distinction or whether he is deliberately muddying the waters.

  • Netanyahu's 'ethnic cleansing' video earns strong rebuke from State Department
    • I don't think there is any prohibition on individual Jews living in the Palestinian territories. The late Ilan Halevi lived in Ramallah. A few Israeli journalists have also taken up residence there. That is not at all the same thing as tolerating closed communities of Jews that are themselves based on the ethnic cleansing of non-Jews, do not recognize the authority of the Palestinian government, and inflict all sorts of harm on their non-Jewish neighbors.

  • Broadway club cancels 'Black Lives Matter' benefit because of movement's stance on Israel
    • The worship of wealth need not wholly exclude other social values. Some feel that just being rich is not sufficiently glorious in itself: in addition, one should “do good”. As a result, some wealthy individuals wish also to be “great humanitarians and philanthropists”.

      There exists a special business that makes money by selling “philanthropic” fame. For a fixed sum you can have a concert hall, museum, hospital, college or whatever named after you (or a relative of yours).

      In certain circles kudos may depend on how much money you give away as well as how much you have. It is like the potlatch among the Kwakiutl of western Canada.

      While “philanthropy” is often just a means of cultivating a favorable public image, some wealthy people may be sincere in wanting to “do good”. Some authors even attribute the giving of certain individuals to guilt feelings about how their fortunes were made.

      Thus, it is claimed that Brooke Astor was ashamed of her family’s reputation as New York’s biggest slumlords. Carnegie, we are told, felt guilt over the workers killed in the suppression of the Homestead strike of 1892. Yet he also wanted “Carnegie Steel to come out on top” – and that feeling proved stronger than any sense of guilt.

      Ashamed or not, Astor gave nothing to the victims of her family’s rack-renting. Instead, she gave $200 million to cultural institutions. Carnegie endowed the arts and established libraries, but gave nothing back to the workers who slaved in the heat of his steel mills at poverty line wages – twelve hours a day, every day of the year except July 4.

      From: link to

  • Many leftwing Israelis are leaving the country -- 'Forward' breaks an important story
    • It's not so obvious. Netanyahu may be glad to be rid of Jews who dissent and protest. There are not enough of them to make a big difference to the demographic equation. Attitude toward dissident Jews has always been one of the issues that divide Zionists. For instance, during the rule of the Nazi junta in Argentina, which Israel supported, the question arose of whether to try to rescue left-wing Argentinian Jews and bring them to Israel. Some Zionist functionaries took the view that Israel would be better off without such Jews, while for others what mattered was that they were still Jews. In fact, the junta agreed to release some Jewish prisoners on condition of their immediate deportation to Israel.

  • Huma Abedin dumps Anthony Weiner, occupation denier
  • Critiques not fit to print: Students and allies respond to 'NYT' coverage of Palestine activism on campus
    • The principle that behavior that makes others uncomfortable is unacceptable has the consequence that the system of criminal justice must be abolished, because for most people it is very uncomfortable to be charged with and tried for a crime. It is particularly uncomfortable to be accused of behavior that makes others uncomfortable, therefore such accusations should never be made. That solves the problem.

    • Behavior that makes others feel uncomfortable is rude and inconsiderate. It should be made illegal if it isn't already.

      Unfortunately, this sort of behavior is not new. We can find numerous examples of it in American history, even at the highest levels. The United States owes its existence to such behavior, as the war for independence made people loyal to the British crown very uncomfortable, forcing many of them to take refuge in Canada.

  • Months after saying he won't appear at Israeli foreign ministry events, Amos Oz will do just that in Paris
    • I think Oz was saying that 'the Jew' and 'the Arab' (he doesn't recognize the Palestinian) were victimized by Father Europe at the same period, therefore they are brothers. Apparently he doesn't see that one brother can victimize another (sibling abuse).

      Of course it is not at all 'accurate to see nations as individuals' -- it is a gross oversimplification. In reality the concept 'Jew' cannot be sharply demarcated from either of the other concepts (European or Arab).

  • Progressive foreign policy missing from revised Sanders revolution
  • 'Why do you have Arabic in this notebook?': 17-year-old American student strip searched and interrogated in Ben Gurion airport
  • 'Democracy' and 'terrorism' and the parameters of thinkable thought
    • The Israelis 'piggyback' on the standard definition of 'terrorist' given by pabelmont in order to win support for their efforts to suppress 'terrorism' defined ethnocentrically. This involves ignoring the fact that even on the standard definition there are plenty of Jewish terrorists -- in particular, the settlers who use terror 'to induce a population to change a behavior', i.e., to induce Palestinians to get out of Palestine. It also involves expanding the meaning of 'terrorist' to cover Palestinian insurgents attacking military targets.

      There is also the controversy over whether to recognize that a state terrorizing civilians to induce them to change a behavior -- say, to stop supporting Hamas -- is also committing terrorism. Isn't there such a thing as 'state terrorism'?

      Concerning 'righteous Jews' there is the alternative term 'Jews of conscience,' which I think has certain advantages.

  • France's burkini ban is a dangerous, Islamophobic assault on feminist values
    • strangefriend: In the early years of Iran's Islamist regime full veiling was compulsory. I recall this because a woman colleague of mine visited Tehran at that time for a conference and after her return wrote a letter explaining what wearing a chador felt like. The position that wearing a hijab is good enough was adopted later as the regime liberalized.

      Regarding burkinis, they could come in handy for many non-Moslem women (and some men, I suspect) who are deterred from swimming by self-consciousness about their non-standard appearance, e.g. because they are obese or have had to have a breast removed.

  • A French, a Palestinian, and a black woman all wade into a pool
    • It may help some readers to know that the Agora Swimwear Company (Inverness) produces a wide range of attractive and comfortable swimsuits for both sexes, covering and revealing various body parts and all bearing prominently displayed labels such as "For Voluntary Use Only," "Certified Non-Religious Swimwear," "Guaranteed Non-Islamic Burqini," etc.

  • The omnipresent hawks-in-waiting of the Clinton administration
    • Head chopping is an old European custom. It used to be very popular in England (at the Tower of London). After the French revolution a more humane and efficient means of head chopping was invented in the form of the guillotine. Surely there can be no objection to head chopping provided that it is applied nonviolently to adults with their informed consent.

  • The Palestine-Israel language trap
    • Right, Hazel. You have put your finger on the root of all the "specialness" -- Jews are a tribe chosen by God to enter into a covenant with Him. That is the start of the story and its whole meaning. The "specialness" can be reinterpreted but I can't see how it can be overcome without abandoning Jewish identity altogether. Jews have to be special or else they cease to be Jews. Perhaps the second of these options is preferable.

    • In Chapter 2 of the collection edited by Ilan Pappe "Israel and South Africa" (2015) Pappe shows that Zionism is unusual but not unique as a type of SC without backing from the government of a specific mother country. Another example is the activity of the Basel Mission, a European missionary society that established settler colonies in Africa. Another example of a "private" SC project that he does not discuss is Liberia.

  • The dark secret of Israel’s stolen babies
    • It is not so difficult for Likudniks, heirs to Revisionist Zionism, to expose these things because the people responsible belonged to the old 'Labor' Zionist establishment. It may even win them votes among 'Arab' Jews.

  • When the language of genocide offends us more than ghettoizing another people
    • So the clerics (collective term for priests, alim, rabbis etc.) "raped religion"? Meaning that religion in its original form was good but the clerics messed it up? How likely is that? One of the clerics' jobs is to interpret holy writ, so taken as a whole would you expect their interpretations to be so awful if the texts they are interpreting are so wonderful? Anyway, quite a lot of holy writ was the work of clerics, e.g. Judaic temple priests. Of course you can ignore the interpreters and try to return to the source. That is the basic idea behind what is called 'fundamentalism' -- but you don't want "pitiless fundamentalism," you'd sooner have compassionate fundamentalism. Well, so would I, but the possibility of such a thing depends on how much compassion there is in the source. Are prophets and messiahs more compassionate than clerics?

  • Why Trump's revolution succeeded, and Bernie's fizzled
    • I think the symmetry that Phil creates between Sanders and Trump as 'anti-establishment revolutionaries' is false. It is true that they were both initially unwelcome to their respective party establishments, though even here there is an important difference: the Democratic establishment remained solid behind Hillary, while the Republican establishment has largely come to accept Trump. however reluctantly. But the real difference emerges when we shift focus to the broader establishment of big business and especially the corporate media, which Bernie challenged in a way that Trump does not. Compare the 'balanced' media coverage of Clinton and Trump with the huge bias they would be showing were Sanders the Democratic candidate. This is Trump's big advantage. Wherever Bernie was able to get his message across directly to working people the response was positive; if he didn't achieve the breakthrough that was mainly because he was unable to get past the media blockade and make direct contact with a sufficiently large proportion of the electorate.

  • An Unlikely AMEXIT: Pivoting away from the Middle East
  • The iron law of institutions versus Bernie Sanders
    • gamal: The Jewish Sabbath starts on Friday evening (when the first three stars appear in the sky, or would appear in the absence of cloud, mist, and light pollution) and ends at the corresponding time on Saturday evening. So provided that polling stations stay open late enough observant Jews can vote after Sabbath ends.

    • RoHa: You prefer war with China?

  • Hillary Clinton has a decision to make
    • I didn't immediately grasp why cutting off the head of a snake should make chips fall, but then I realized that the snake must be clinging to a tree. Are you talking about the snake and tree in the Garden of Eden? If so I should warn you that it has been declared off limits for humans.

  • Ozick says Obama needs 6-volume history of Jews on his bedside table
  • Remembering Elie Wiesel, who inspired me to write about Palestine
    • Primo Levi, who also survived Auschwitz and wrote brilliant books about the experience, did protest against Israeli war crimes in Lebanon.

    • What Kali probably has in mind is Gandhi's practice as an elderly man of sleeping in the same bed with naked women (one of them his 18-year-old grand-niece) in order to test his ability to withstand sexual temptation. One of those who criticized him for this was his own Congress colleague and future prime minister Nehru.

      Gandhi had other shortcomings. His belief in the caste system was hidden in his English-language writings but clearly expressed in the articles he wrote in Gujarati. (This was pointed out by Dr. Ambedkar, who initiated the freedom movement of the untouchables.)

  • As occupation enters its 50th year, draft Democratic platform won't say the word
    • "Terrorism" refers primarily to forces that threaten Israel, i.e., Hamas and Hizbollah. Threats to the US, Europe, India etc. are much less important.

      They automatically regurgitate the same old propaganda. Did they fail to notice that President Rouhani has recognized the Holocaust?

  • Letters to Hillary
    • "Masterfully" should be "mistressfully," shouldn't it?

      Those who support Clinton because she is a woman should have it drawn to their attention that with Jill Stein of the Green Party standing we have a choice of female presidential candidates.

  • Smile -- it's the Upper West Side
    • As Jews and Christians, don't these rectors and rabbis believe in the existence of demons or the possibility of demonic possession as a cause of human viciousness? After all, they are religious and demons are part of their worldview, or perhaps not? Not being religious myself I don't understand these things.

  • Question for the Israeli left: Why do you discount the possibility of a second Nakba?
    • What the author rightly fears as the next phase is pogroms against Palestinians (there have already been pogroms, or something pretty close, against Africans). Like the anti-Jewish pogroms in tsarist Russia they may be deliberately incited and facilitated by forces within the ruling establishment.

      The next question is what is the likely policy response to continuing terrorism (from both sides) and pogroms? I suggest it might be a more thorough program of separation, justified to international opinion as a way of protecting Palestinians as well as Jews. The separation will of course be achieved by means of further expropriation and 'transfer' of Palestinians to the far side of the wall. Further measures are likely to make Jerusalem a wholly Jewish city where Palestinians are no longer able to reside or even visit. That then opens the way to demolition of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and erection of the Temple. What remains of the Palestinian areas of the West Bank will increasingly come to resemble Gaza.

      I am sure that the Israeli 'left' the author is talking about (and to) is not the mainstream Zionist 'left' but the genuine anti-Zionist or marginally Zionist left. These people cannot do much inside the country not only because they are so few but also because they are intimidated. If they speak out they too will be beaten and killed in the pogroms. Like Ilan Pappe, they will emigrate to countries where their inside testimony will enable them to play a vital role in weakening the hold of Zionism. .

  • The struggle of refugees in Lebanon, Greece, and Germany: An interview with Hala Gabriel
    • A good article on Lebanese policy toward Palestinian refugees is: Dalal Yassine, Unwelcome guests: Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The Electronic Intidada, July 13, 2010
      link to

      In an e-mail Hala also mentioned that some Palestinians see security advantages in NOT improving the dwellings inside the camp: "One man who is a resident in the camp told me that since the massacre of Sabra and Shatilla they believe that the crumbling conditions help confuse any future intruders from navigating the camp."

    • Well, this has been up for a week now -- and not a single comment? I'm wondering why.

  • 'Everyone's a veteran' in Israel, says Junger. Well, not really
  • 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
  • 'Either Assad or we'll burn the country' - An excerpt from 'Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War'
    • Harry Law: At least have the decency to read the book and digest the abundant information it contains before deciding what is and is not propaganda. Anyone would think you have actually observed the situation inside Syria.

  • 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.

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