Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 1194 (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 1194 - 1101

  • Criticism of Women’s March leaders reminiscent of attacks on Jesse Jackson 30 years ago
    • Farrakhan had a series of meetings with rabbis of the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta, as a result of which Farrakhan acknowledged that his earlier anti-Semitic position was mistaken and began to distinguish between Jews and Zionists.

  • Gideon Levy on Israeli denial: 'Anyone who raises a question is demolished'
    • Would Gideon Levy please clarify what he means when he says that Breaking the Silence has been 'crushed'? Judging by their excellent website ( they are still very active. Perhaps he means that they were excluded from the establishment media?

  • Rabbi Cardozo: outlawing circumcision would 'end the state of Israel'
    • That is one hypothesis. Another is that circumcision was originally a substitute for human sacrifice (of a child or slave). This was Freud's view and I find it plausible (evidence is sparse and difficult to interpret). In that case you could say that circumcision, like animal sacrifice, played a positive role in social development. Of course, its origins are now long forgotten and it is unlikely that human sacrifice would be restored in the event of circumcision being abandoned.

    • I would like to thank Jonathan Ofir for writing about this issue and Mondoweiss for allowing him to do so. It is of great significance for me personally.

      For those interested in theology, the biblical basis for circumcision is less clear than it may seem. The Bible is a poorly edited jumble of earlier texts by different authors. That is why many stories are told twice, with important differences between the two versions. For instance, in one version of the creation narrative Adam appears before Eve, who is created out of Adam's rib, but in the other version man and woman are created at the same time. The same applies to circumcision. In one version of the story of God making His covenant with Abraham he commands circumcision, but there is another version of the story in which circumcision is not mentioned.

      In Islam, by the way, the practice of circumcision has an even weaker basis. It is not mentioned in the Quran. There is a school of influential Moslems who reject the validity of non-Quranic sources and oppose circumcision as a desecration of God's perfect creation.

    • Jews will abandon circumcision only if they become more flexible and creative -- above all, less anxious about the survival of Judaism and Jewish identity. But such changes in attitude will also help them overcome Zionism. Circumcision and the State of Israel function in parallel as barriers to assimilation. So there is at least an indirect connection. However, it will hardly be 'simple' to end circumcision.

    • This assumes that children are the property of their parents. Should parents be free to do anything they like to their children? Sell them into slavery? Beat them to death? Or does society have the right to set limits to parental power, on the grounds that children are entrusted to the care of their parents but are not their property? Perhaps children belong to themselves or their future selves?

  • Zionism, anti-Semitism, Israel — and the UK Labour party
    • The State of Israel extends privileges to people who are Jewish in Palestine. To some extent even anti-Zionist Jews may benefit by comparison with anti-Zionist Gentiles. Whether to exclude anti-Zionists from Jewish privileges has long been a matter of dispute among Zionists.

      I found a striking example when I was researching Israeli policy toward Argentina during the rule of the military junta there. Among the leftists arrested, tortured and killed by the junta there were many Jews. Israel persuaded the junta, with which it did profitable business, to release some of their Jewish prisoners on condition that they be taken straight to Israel. Some Israeli officials objected that many of these Jewish leftists were anti-Zionist ( 'What do we want with such people?') But others were prepared to overlook this because 'after all, they are still Jews.' (One of those rescued in this way was the publisher Jacobo Timmerman, who after coming to Israel campaigned against the war in Lebanon.)

      I have the impression that the Zionist attitude toward dissident Jews may be getting tougher. If so we can expect that in future Jewish privilege will be made strictly dependent on support for Israel.

      'Anti-Semitism' is not a rigorous concept and that is why it is difficult to define its relation to Zionism. I think it is less confusing not actually to equate the two and it is surely not necessary to go quite that far. We should emphasize that Zionism and anti-Semitism are closely related and symbiotic, that they share basic assumptions, that Zionism legitimizes, feeds on and fuels anti-Semitism, etc. That is enough.

  • Avraham Burg speaks at Temple Israel in Boston
    • I just read Burg's book "In Days to Come" and would like to share my reactions. Although he says many things that are forward-looking and even inspiring, he is far from taking on board the Palestinian perspective. He is one of those who looks back nostalgically on the period before the 1967 war as the time of Israel's 'innocence' -- he has not yet 'discovered the Nakba'. He places much of the blame for the moral degeneration of Israel on the rising power of the Orthodox rabbinate. The main contrast in his narrative is that between the archaic tribalism of Orthodox Judaism and European modernity, of which he would like Israel to be a part. His orientation toward Europe is so strong that he seems to have no interest in the region where he lives -- the Middle East. He talks movingly and at length about his personal interactions with Germans, but not a word about any such interactions with Palestinians. So while he now has an intellectual understanding of the need to create a state together with the Palestinians he himself is hardly equipped to be a citizen of a joint state. Perhaps he will evolve further but this is my impression of his current mentality.

  • Trump's ambassador says the unspeakable: Uprooting settlers could 'cause civil war'
    • The real danger comes from IDF officers sympathetic to or connected with the settlers. I read somewhere that there has been a quiet effort over the years to increase the number of such officers and get them promoted to key positions. Add to that the likelihood that Israel's nuclear arsenal includes tactical nuclear weapons and that control over those weapons is decentralized. Pro-settler officers may be able to gain control over tactical nukes and threaten to use them if settlers are forcibly removed.

  • 'NYT' writers slam left for intolerance of dissent-- on Israel panel that excludes anti-Zionists and Palestinians
    • The difference is that The New York Times claims to be an inclusive 'newspaper of record. Its biases stand out in that context.

      Also, establishment media like the NYT play a major role in determining what people regard as realism and as fantasy. If the NYT seriously discussed non-Zionist scenarios for the future such possibilities would no longer seem so fantastical. To a significant degree these are self-fulfilling prophecies.

  • NYT op-ed describing Israel as a place of refuge is missing the word, Palestinians
    • There were Nazis, even in the SS, who believed that Jews could regenerate themselves through Zionism and become worthy of respect in terms of Nazi values. Hitler would have none of it, however. Whether this counts as 'liberal' or 'progressive' is doubtful. It might have proven less genocidal.

      There is a Nazi group in Germany today (National Socialists for Israel) who argue that the State of Israel has fulfilled the promise that the pro-Zionist Nazis of the Hitler period saw in Zionism.

  • Roger Cohen misses the Palestinian reality
    • Even if she knew nothing about this particular journalist, the fact that it was for The New York Times should have been warning enough. The text as submitted by Cohen would have been 'edited' -- i.e., mangled -- by a hierarchy of editors and sub-editors before appearing in print. So maybe the original text was a little more informative and sympathetic to the Palestinians than the article as published. (Or maybe not.) So assisting a corporate outfit like the NYT is very risky whoever the journalist might be. If you are asked to help and don't want to look 'negative' then you have to set clear conditions, like the right to inspect and correct the text (subject to a word limit) before publication. They won't accept such conditions and that will justify you in saying no.

    • Ms. Hussein -- As the NYT misrepresented what you said, perhaps you have a legal right to have a correction published? I would not agree to help a corporate media outlet unless they accept conditions that protect against misrepresentation, like the right to see a text and make corrections before publication or failing that the right of reply

  • Zionists should be excluded from left-oriented protests
    • It is certainly true of many Jews. It is more accurate and fairer to insert a qualifier but even without one he should be allowed to say it. People should be allowed to say anything except direct incitement to violence because prohibitions on certain types of speech, however well intentioned, can so easily be abused. The accusation of 'hate speech' is used to delegitimize sharp criticism of many groups and movements that claim to represent broad population groups.

    • Perhaps he's a sayan but sayanim is the plural.

  • Privileged American Jews are safe thanks to 'Israel's might'-- Roger Cohen
    • I wanted to see exactly what Roger Cohen meant by 'the price of Zionism' so I read the original column. He was responding to a statement by Tom Segev (another 'liberal Zionist'), for whom 'the price of Zionism' is the inevitable Arab resistance to it, i.e., the trouble caused to JEWS by said resistance. Neither Segev nor Cohen even allude to the price paid by Palestinians. They are not justifying the price paid by Palestinians, only the price paid by Jews. Their viewpoint is totally Judeocentric. Palestinians do not exist for them. So the analogy with Madeleine Albright and Iraq is false. She at least acknowledged the existence of Iraqis.

  • From Spinoza to Vilkomerson, Jewish voices for peace have long been banned-- by Jews
  • When Zionism is the essence of life, a break has huge consequences
    • Nice piece. The 'existential' threat must seem most real to Israeli Jews who have no ties with a potential alternative homeland because they cannot believe that they would be allowed to remain with equal rights in a state with a non-Jewish majority. It requires more trust in Palestinian generosity than they can muster, especially as most Israeli Jews have no meaningful personal contact with Palestinians.

  • If you genuinely back the Palestinian cause, you must support the right of return
    • Breaking the Silence does a valuable job of publicizing testimony that is difficult for the Israeli authorities to discredit because it comes from their own former soldiers. It is unclear from the group's website what their position is on the Palestinian issue or the right of return in particular. Perhaps they have no general position. Even if their concept of 'occupation' is limited the value of what they do should be acknowledged.

  • 'We should exact a price' from Ahed Tamimi 'in the dark,' Israeli journalist says
    • It has long seemed to me that what Zionism is about, more than anything else, is forging a new Jewish male who embodies the standard model of tough masculinity and redeems the humiliation of the old Jewish male of the time of exile. The old Jewish male is humiliated because he cannot protect either himself or his womenfolk from violence (pogroms, etc.). An important part of the reason for that in the traditional Jewish culture of the diaspora the 'winner' was the learned talmudic scholar and not the warrior (as in the standard model of most other cultures). As the self-enclosed Jewish ghetto broke up and Jews became part of the broader society the non-standard model of masculinity lost its appeal and the Jewish male began to evaluate himself in accordance with the standard model and find himself wanting.

      The Zionist male endlessly and obsessively reenacts the psychodrama of his self-transformation from the old to the new Jewish male, which in his own self-perception never seems to be decisively accomplished. Why? I think there are various reasons. One is the parallel survival in Israeli society of the non-standard Jewish male culture (among the haredim). Another reason is the Holocaust cult, which keeps reproducing the feeling of Jewish victimhood and Jewish male humiliation.

      Of course the reality in Palestine is so remote from the psychodrama that we have to speak of collective insanity. But as this insanity is so dangerous and causes so much suffering we should try to understand it and elaborate the most constructive response to it. A response that will weaken and invalidate the psychodrama, not feed into it and validate it.

      In these terms the impulsive response from Marnie is unhelpful in the extreme because it will be understood as gloating over the failure to achieve the longed-for transformation (you think you are a tough guy, but really you are still the same old cowardly Jew, ya boo, etc.). How can the response within the confines of the psychodrama be anything but even greater viciousness? By all means tell off the male Israeli soldier -- but not for being a weakling or loser, rather for doing wrong. Offer him a way out that he might be psychologically able to accept.

  • 'Trump's a crazy man, but I like it' -- the view from Jerusalem
    • I too have noticed the tendency to prefer the adjective to the noun. Two suggestions:

      1) "Jew" has a harsh sound, the suffix "ish" has a softening effect.

      2) "Jewish" may be preferred because "Jew" on its own is felt to exaggerate the importance of being a Jew for a person's identity. "Jewish" implies that it is just one attribute among others of comparable importance (e.g. American). But for traditional Orthodox Jews being a Jew is the most important thing, so they are glad to be called simply Jews.

  • The Chanukah of fire and occupation (is not about ancient times)
  • Anti-Christianism
    • Jewish anti-Christianism, like Christian anti-Semitism, is a vestige of a time when relations between Christians and Jews were much more hostile than they are now. These attitudes may still be passed down within families from one generation to the next, but the natural tendency is for them to die out as more and more young people realize that the world has changed. At least this would be so were it not for the baleful influence of the Zionist Right, which has formed a toxic symbiosis with the most archaic factions of Judaism.

  • Cuba welcomes 50th anniversary of the PFLP leftist movement
  • 'NYT' columnist says struggle for equal rights in one state is upon us
  • Trump's thug-power, or does anybody still like Woody Allen?
    • It is surely progress when victims of powerful men who in the past could commit any crime with impunity are able to get their revelations widely publicized and some at least of the perpetrators are penalized in some way. Even if the penalties are inadequate, even if it proves to be a temporary opening, even if there are still even more powerful men whose impunity remains (for the time being?) intact -- it is still movement in the right direction. So a wholly pessimistic assessment seems to me perverse.

  • An ominous warning: 'Netanyahu needs a war with Iran. And he needs it soon'
    • Wars are often started for domestic political reasons. Czarist interior minister von Plehve said that Russia needed a 'short victorious war to stem the tide of revolution' but in the ensuing 1905 war with Japan Russia was defeated. In 1994 some of Yeltsin's advisers again felt that the Russian government needed a short victorious war, this time in Chechnya. It is easy to start a war but usually the war does not turn out short and victorious.

  • Dangerous signs that Trump, Netanyahu and the Saudi Crown Prince are planning wider Mideast war
    • I don't understand how exactly Saudi Arabia can attack Hezbollah. Israel can attack Hezbollah by invading Lebanon again. Saudi Arabia can encourage its proxies in Syria to attack Hezbollah forces in that country, but in itself that hardly counts as a 'wider Mideast war'. So what can the phrase mean, short of a direct attack on Iran?

  • Israel has more legitimacy than US because the bible mentions Jerusalem, not New York -- says David Harris
  • Draft-dodger Tzipi Hotovely comes out as an anti-Semite
  • No way to treat a child
    • Jack Green: Whenever someone argues substantively against something you've said you ignore the substance of their argument and change the subject. Misterioso replies at great length to your assertion that Palestinians attacked Israel in 1967, adducing numerous facts and sources, but you completely ignore everything he says. Then you respond to a comment on heavily armed soldiers facing pebbles by talking about children and rockets. There are certain rules of civilized debate like continuing to discuss an important issue until it is resolved and not evading an issue by changing the subject when you are losing the argument. Arguing with someone like you who defies these rules is frustrating and futile and I don't think we should do it. You should be ignored until you agree to argue in a fair and civilized manner.

  • Dear Simon Schama, you need a history lesson on Zionism
    • Israel has not perpetrated full-scale genocide of the Palestinians and I doubt that anyone claims that it has. But there are parallels between Israeli treatment of Palestinians and Nazi treatment of Jews in the period before the Holocaust began, i.e. from 1933 to early 1941.

      The description of 'ghettos', 'concentration camps' and 'racism' as 'Holocaust-era language' makes any sense only if the Holocaust being referred to is the one started by Columbus in 1492. The word 'ghetto' was first used in its current meaning in Venice about half a millennium ago, while the first 'concentration camps' were set up by the British in the Boer War (1899--1902).

  • The U.S. media dwells on corrupt African leaders -- but whitewashes the Western billionaires and oil giants that pay them
    • Neo-liberal ideologues object to corruption because it makes capitalist exploitation less 'efficient' -- meaning that ideally government leaders should be willing to serve foreign capital without having to be bribed to do so.

  • Cartoon of Dershowitz mingled appropriate satire and anti-Semitic imagery
    • Those of us who know more than you about the imagery of historical antisemitism are bound to be offended when this imagery is used. Why needlessly alienate us? True, Zionists spread this knowledge in order to ensure that this reaction occurs. But do you have to step into their trap?

      Actually the author is not very accurate regarding the creatures traditionally chosen by antisemites to represent Jews. Spiders are not insects and Jews are not typically shown as insects (grasshoppers, ants, flies, etc.). On the other hand, Jews are often shown as octopuses. Also as snakes.

  • R.I.P., Shiksa
    • The primary meaning of the Hebrew word "shekets" is the flesh of an animal whose consumption is forbidden by the dietary laws. "Shiksa" is therefore better rendered as "unclean female animal." Secondary meanings include "abomination" and "object of loathing". "Blemish" is also a possible rendering but seems a bit tame. It does not fully convey the disgust originally expressed by the word.

  • As battle rages in UK Labour Party, Moshe Machover expelled after asserting 'Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism'
    • JeffB: No need to speculate about a hypothetical future in which British and Zionist interests clash. This already happened in 1945--48 when the British in Palestine faced a barrage of Zionist terror (as did the Palestinians and the many Jews not considered loyal to Zionism). This did NOT lead to any significant upsurge of anti-Semitism in Britain, partly because so many British Jews took the side of their British government and condemned the Zionist terror. (I was not yet born, but I draw on my parents' reminiscences of those days.)

  • Watch the cathartic Vietnam documentary
    • The film makers made some effort to include Vietnamese perspectives by inserting isolated snippets of Vietnamese speaking, but these snippets have a limited impact because the overall thrust is America-centric -- the Vietnam war as an American experience. There should be a companion film focusing on the American war as a Vietnamese experience. That film should ideally be made in Vietnam by a Vietnamese producer, though shown also over here. Unfortunately, the Vietnamese regime may not allow sufficient freedom of expression to do a proper job while the witnesses are still alive.

      I am disappointed that none of those who have yet commented here have paid any close attention to the content of the Vietnamese snippets in the film. The official stereotype is of monolithic resistance superhuman in its endurance, heroism, and willing self-sacrifice, and yet many of the Vietnamese speakers say things that undermine this stereotype, which dehumanizes the Vietnamese in its own way. The willingness of American opponents of the war to accept this stereotype shows not only their political naivety but also their lack of interest in digging deeply into Vietnamese experience. Ultimately it all comes down to the same old America-centrism.

      Some Vietnamese speakers raise the question of whether the country could have been reunited by non-military means or if war was unavoidable whether victory could have been won at a lesser human cost. The most striking case in point was the 'Easter offensive' of 1972, which exposed almost an entire cohort of barely trained 16-year-old boys to devastating US airpower (so that of 11 boys in my wife's class only 2 returned, one missing a leg and the other an eye). I'm damned if I can understand the rationale behind this operation. By 1972 it was quite clear that the Americans were puling out. All that was needed as a little patience. It was not only American politicians and generals who held Vietnamese lives cheap.

  • An Atheist in the Yeshiva: The education of Yossi Zvi Gurvitz
    • Elias J. Bickerman ("The Jews in the Greek Age") provides some evidence that ancient Jews were aware of Sparta and had great admiration for its customs and military prowess.

  • A Jewish atonement for Zionism
    • CitizenC: I read Menuhin's book long ago. I accidentally came across it in a private library and it had a huge impact on me, especially his personal testimony. As far as I recall, your interpretation is correct. The book, by the way, was published by the Institute for Palestine Studies in Beirut.

  • Ten days of awe: standing with whom?
  • Defying families, Israel moves four Palestinians' bodies to anonymous ‘Cemetery of Numbers’
    • The Russian law on terrorism stipulates that terrorists should be buried by the state in unmarked graves and that their location should not be disclosed to anyone. Apart from the reasons given in the article, this makes it difficult to honor their memory in public: the graves cannot be turned into shrines, like Goldstein's.

  • Netanyahu, say hi from me to the penguins in Antarctica
    • Another few decades of global heating and Antarctica will be habitable. Millions of people from other parts of the world that by then will be uninhabitable will indeed try to settle there.

  • Soros and the Illuminati! Netanyahu Jr. spreads anti-Semitic cartoon
    • The Illuminati are usually mentioned in connection with the place they occupy in the fantasies of reactionary conspiracy theorists. Few people know about the real Illuminati. I happen to know about them through a very old book that an intellectual mentor lent me when I was still in my teens. The book was written by a Christian theologian as an expose of the Illuminati's organization, methods, and doctrines.

      The Illuminati (Enlightened Ones) were an 18th-century secret society founded by Adam Weishaupt. He began with the most critically minded of his students, selected on the basis of their essays. As the innermost doctrines might have shocked neophytes, the society consisted of a series of concentric circles. For instance, new recruits were told that the Illuminati was against monarchy and for republican forms of government, but the innermost doctrine was against all government as well as all religion. The strategy was to infiltrate the entourage of princes as counselors and at an opportune moment kill them all. Then cities would be burned down and people would return to the forest and live natural lives.

      The Illuminati were exposed and suppressed before they could realize their plans. I often think what a tragedy that was for our species and our world. Had they succeeded there would have been no capitalism, no colonialism, no nuclear weapons, no global heating... Too bad!

  • American Legion calls on Congress to finally investigate 'USS Liberty' attack, 50 years after
  • The liberal Zionist crisis -- white nationalists are villains, but settlers are 'complex'
  • Trump response to Charlottesville sugarcoats a rotten morality
    • Annie: “check out this quotation from the @nytimes "i see both the social justice alt-left and the white supremacist alt-right as two sides of the same coin.” "

      What this reveals is that the ruling class fears and detests the white-supremacist right not for the same reasons why we -- the "social-justice left" -- fear and detest it but because it is outside their control -- and in this respect it is the same kind of force from their vantage point as we are. A common code word of theirs for such forces is "populist". There has been a long-established understanding among the ruling class that their politicians should not exploit "populism" for personal advantage and they are angry at Trump for breaking that rule

  • American Jews have a right to resist Israel as Jews
    • Right. Speaking out as Jews shatters the false stereotypes still peddled by the corporate media, conflating Zionism and Judaism and blaming the conflict on age-old and insuperable religious enmities. It can have a strong positive impact on people encountering an anti-Zionist Jewish viewpoint for the first time.

      Besides, surely we have a right to loud protest against those who impudently seek to speak in our name, misrepresent us, and implicate us in their crimes? Why let them get away with it?

      Incidentally, the thing people used to have to stoop under to show their subjection was a YOKE. A yolk is the yellow stuff in the middle of an egg.

  • Zionism is apartheid, and worse
    • Zionism is also archaic. Not only in its reliance on ancient myth, but also because it came to fruition at exactly the time when settler colonialism and the displacement or even genocide of indigenous people were losing their legitimacy. This process was previously regarded in Europe and its offshoots by all but a tiny minority as important contributions to the progress of civilization. Zionism got in "just before the bell."

  • The Spirit of '68 Lives On: Zionism as racism, and the network of lies
    • Keith: The "lachrymose" conception of Jewish history that you rightly criticize in fact predates Zionism, though the Zionists have made good use of it. But it is opposed from two very different perspectives -- that of classical anti-Semitism, which replaces the stereotype of Jewish victimhood by a counter-stereotype of Jewish power, and that of serious scholarship, which rejects generalization and recognizes the enormous variation by time and place as well as the complexity of many situations (Jews have often been privileged in certain respects even as they are persecuted in others).

      At least in historical times there has been no "Jewish people" -- powerful or powerless, rich or poor. It is only individual Jews and (though not always) their families and communities that can be described as poor or rich, powerful or powerless.

  • When Kafka met Orwell: Arrest by algorithm
    • When that Israeli general came to speak at Brown University, I remember he summarized the 'research findings' regarding the 'profile of a terrorist' -- the profile that presumably underlies the algorithm. One criterion is that the 'terrorist' is likely to be young and single: he does not yet have family responsibilities. Another is that he is likely to be related to someone who has been arrested and tortured by the Israelis, especially a brother, father, or other close relative, so that he has a motive for revenge. This points in the direction of arresting entire families, as in North Korea.

  • Pro-Israel 'gatekeepers' at California university shut down search for Edward Said scholar, a candidate says
  • Israel's efforts to hide Palestinians from view no longer fools young American Jews
  • From lamentation to triumphalism: the story behind 'Jerusalem of Gold,' Israel's second national anthem
    • These lyrics have always struck me as remarkable. How can places thronging with humanity be seen as empty? It's a mindset that goes beyond ethno-centrism to ethno-solipsism. Of course, the Zionist knows perfectly well that "in a certain sense" -- in a mundane sense -- the souk is not empty. But it is the sacral dimension alone that he/she infuses with meaning and emotion. Here it is only God and His holy people that exist.

      This is doublethink. Orwell explains how it works in 1984 -- in particular, the appendix on Newspeak.

  • In order to change Israel activists must disrupt Zionist space
  • Palestinian Authority blocks access to news sites linked to Abbas rivals
    • Just in case anyone infers that Dahlan is a preferable alternative to Abbas, available evidence suggests that he is more violent, ruthless, and corrupt than Abbas. He is the strongman type, while Abbas is the diplomat.

      When General Spiegel visited Brown University in the company of Shein, Israel's consul for New England, one of the topics they discussed informally over lunch was the pros and cons of various candidates for PA leader (see my "The Day the General Came"). Dahlan's name came up more frequently than any other and it was clear that they both had a high opinion of him.

      Any PA leader, even if personally honest and sincere, is bound to act as an Israeli client ("puppet" is perhaps a trifle too strong). That is determined structurally. The wiggle room for any PA leader to resist the combined pressure of Israel, the US, and often Europe and Egypt as well, is very limited. It must be granted that Abbas has tried to wiggle a bit -- as much as anyone could in his shoes. Irritation of the Israeli bigwigs with Abbas' wiggling may tempt them to replace him with Dahlan.

  • The indictment of journalist Aaron Cantú portends grim future for First Amendment
    • I am wondering whether the institution of citizen's arrest might be used to expose the provocateurs. Provisions for citizen's arrest vary greatly from state to state, with some states not permitting it at all, but in many states an eyewitness to an offense has the right to arrest the offender, using reasonable force if necessary. Having made the arrest, the citizen would then request a nearby police officer, ideally one who has also witnessed the act of vandalism, to take the culprit into custody. The police officer would presumably refuse to do so and might instead arrest the citizen arrester on some pretext. What would the legal situation then be? Could the police be sued for failing to perform their duty to maintain law and order?

      If this is a viable line of action, then the owners of the stores vandalized by the provocateurs might be willing to give support. Or perhaps they are already compensated somehow for the damage to their property?

  • The Israelis
    • Are there really so few people from whom you could get support in Israel? Only if you look for support only among Jews. You could find support among Palestinians, surely? At least if you took up residence in one of the mixed cities (like Jaffa) and/or joined United List.

      I would like to query your interpretation of the behavior of the guy who invites only German girls to his home: "It’s how he gets girlfriends. South Africa and Germany and Israel, historical doppelgangers." I suppose the word "historical" means that you recognize that present-day Germany bears little resemblance to Israel. If he targets German girls, it is not because he hopes to find in them admirers of Nazi Germany who see its values preserved in Israel (such people exist but are a tiny minority of Germans). It is because he counts on exploiting the guilt complex that makes it very hard for a German to say no to a Jew, however obnoxious.

  • Palestinian filmmaker Hala Gabriel seeks support for documentary on '48 destruction of Tantura
    • Annie. -- I drew Hala's attention to your supportive comments and she asked me to express her sincerest gratitude to you and to everyone connected with Mondoweiss who has helped.

      They have now passed the one-third mark with 21 days to go, so with assistance in networking they have a good chance of reaching their target.

  • Making the crossover from Elie Wiesel to Marc Ellis
    • I never understood why Elie Wiesel is considered so special. I suppose he was good at self-promotion. Primo Levi is a much better and more truthful writer about the Holocaust. So are many others. Above all, where is the moral distinction in condemning crimes committed against one's own people? That is only to be expected. Moral distinction lies only in condemning the crimes committed BY one's own people, and Wiesel resolutely refused even to contemplate doing that.

  • Mother Palestine takes on her most diabolical enemy yet -- Apartheid!
  • The responsibility of non-Zionist Jews during the 'year of Zionist anniversaries'
    • I agree that non-/anti-Zionist Jews should take some responsibility for Zionist crimes. However, this statement is liable to be misunderstood, so we should take care to clarify what we mean and what we do not mean by it.

      It does not mean acceptance of collective guilt as Jews for Zionist crimes or the sort of collective responsibility that arises from collective guilt. Guilt is to be judged on an individual not on a collective basis. What I think it does mean is that even Jews who have done nothing to assist the Zionist cause are responsible for doing what they can to protest against what is being done in their name, for declaring, both privately and publicly: "Not in my name!" We are responsible for doing this because it needs to be done and because only we can do it. Of course, anyone can protest against Zionism but only Jews are capable of this specific variety of "not-in-my-name" protest.

  • From 'Avalon' to Madoff: What 'The Wizard of Lies' reveals about contemporary American Jewish identity
    • It depends what is meant by the "Jewish community." If there is such a thing. There is a lot of talk about "community", which is supposed to be a good thing, and that is really very curious seeing that other words with the same root like "commune" and "communism" and "communist" are supposed to be not good at all (in fact, bad). At any rate, community, if it means anything at all, must be more than a mechanical aggregate of individuals with some identifying mark (in this case, Jewish origin). In practice "Jewish community" is used to refer to a set of powerful organizations with "Jewish" in their names. And the people who control these organizations, directly or indirectly through their money, are the corrupt 1%ers like Bernie Madoff. So the "Jewish community" is inevitably associated with their shenanigans. But, as I say, why pretend that it is a community at all?

  • Leonard Cohen song is anthem of Jewish exclusivists
  • Reflections of a daughter of the '48 Generation'
    • I remember that an earlier version of this essay appeared in a periodical of the Alternative Information Center, a joint Jewish-Palestinian organization with which the author was working at the time. The Palestinians who were working with her were so upset to discover all of a sudden that she had fought in the Palmach that they withdrew from the Center. Only for a few weeks, though; they came to accept her past and resumed their cooperation with her.

      Later she and Toufic Haddad created another collaborative group that put out an excellent periodical called "Between the Lines" (I contributed a couple of pieces to it). Unfortunately it no longer exists, but the most important material is available in book form.

  • A non-Zionist on segregation and resistance in the Zionist State
    • Very perceptive. Some discussion of specific Zionist institutions, e.g. JNF, would make the argument less abstract and easier to understand for people who do not know how it works.

  • A Republican plan for peacemaking: 'break the will' of the Palestinians and force them to 'accept defeat'
    • In April 2000 Jenab Tutunji and I co-organized an Israel-Palestine 'workshop' at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies. After I made some introductory remarks the Zionist Linda Miller (who had been foisted upon us as a third co-organizer for the sake of 'balance') read out a paper analyzing the situation as she saw it. She had not told us in advance that she planned to do this, but what dismayed me the most was the content of the paper. The century-long conflict between Palestinian and Jewish nationalism, she proclaimed, had finally ended with the complete victory of the Jewish side and all that remained was for everyone to take full cognizance of this fact. This seemed to me plain rude to the Palestinians present.

      But above all the thesis was absurd. Here we are, after another 17 years, and there are people still trying to sell the same 'analysis.' And I expect they'll still be at it after another 17 years. What strikes me above all is their evident inability to appreciate the range of possible human reactions to such arrogance. Let us accept, for the sake of argument, that by some 'objective' criterion the Palestinians really have been defeated (though I don't think that is true). Even if many Palestinians do accept defeat, emigrate to Kuwait or Canada or wherever, get on with their lives, and forget about Palestine, there are always going to be enough who react by seeking revenge, and they will have access to sufficient resources to get their revenge, enough to make the Zionist 'victory' a pyrrhic one.

  • Zionist colonization is not 'exceptional': A Marxist viewpoint
    • A brilliant article. It demonstrates the potential, and perhaps also the limits, of Marxian analysis. Let me share some reflections it generates in my mind.

      The Israeli ruling class has to operate by a capitalist as well as by a Zionist logic, finding a balance where the two conflict, because even though they are often in synch they do conflict in some areas, including choice of a supplementary labor force.. I'm sure the Israeli politicians, and certainly the capitalists, don't want to get rid of Palestinians altogether. Even the West Bank settlements rely on Palestinian labor. At the same time, they have many more Palestinians than they really need for cheap labor, even taking into account the usefulness of a reserve army of unemployed to discipline workers and keep wages down. And too many Palestinians (more than needed) is undesirable in terms of the Zionist logic, especially given the availability of a third option (non-Jewish workers from Romania, Thailand, and all sorts of other countries, who are perceived as less of a threat to Zionism). So they have scope for combining exclusion with exploitation.

  • Show your support for Palestinian rights on World Keffiyeh Day
  • Gilad Atzmon’s attack against me – the 'merchant of JVP'
    • You love them because it gives you material to exaggerate and malign Mondoweiss as a whole and an excuse to ignore the site's coverage of the Palestinians' plight.

    • I think the most important target audience for Mondoweiss is young Jews who have been brought up in the Zionist mainstream but have begun to question what they have been taught. Our aim should be to provide them with information, insights, and personal testimonies that will help and encourage them in their journeys away from Zionism.

      There are other groups that it is worth targeting, but Mondoweiss is in a good position to target this particular audience due to the Jewish background of its founders and many of its contributors.

      For this purpose it is useful to cover some 'Jewish' issues such as the Holocaust that are exploited by Zionism. The main thing here is to challenge the interpretations of these issues that Zionism uses for its own purposes. For example, in the Zionist version of the Holocaust only a few 'righteous Gentiles' came to the assistance of their Jewish fellow citizens, with the great bulk of Gentiles at best indifferent to their fate. This version feeds the hostility to Gentiles that is inculcated in Israelis and the idea that Jews have to have a state of their own. But it is a highly distorted version (for reasons that require a separate article).

      I would like to object to the overly cynical assertion that those Palestinians who take a stand against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial do so wholly or mainly for tactical reasons, to gain some respectability in a threatening political environment. I believe that on the whole they do it because they are intelligent, humane, and decent people. Opposition to Holocaust denial was an important part of the work of the late Edward Said, who was surely a principled man and no opportunist. The villagers at Bil'in hosted an exhibition on the Holocaust, and I doubt that they did so under the illusion that it would give them any protection against the IDF.

    • The Soviet prosecutors at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1945 charged that the Nazis had made soap out of human fat and presented supposed samples, but there was no forensic proof. No doubt this helped spread the story. If there were any truth in it there would be some evidence of procedures to extract and process the fat.

      It is clear, by contrast, that the victims' hair was cut off and sold in bulk to the Alex Zink Company in Bavaria, which used it in making various products.

      Skin for lampshades is an intermediate case. There is testimony that Ilse Koch, wife of the commandant of Buchenwald and Majdanek, had a hobby of collecting pieces of inmates' skin with tattoos on them, but the story that she had lampshades made of them has not been proven. One website says that she ordered workers to make such lampshades, but these workers were Jehovah's Witnesses and refused to do the job.

      How terrible the Holocaust was does not depend on which if any of these stories is true.

    • Danaa: You think Beria was Jewish? For what it's worth, he was a Georgian, like Stalin. More precisely, he belonged to a Georgian subgroup called Mingrelians (or Megrelians).

    • Atzmon is a musician. He says valid and illuminating things about matters of which he has personal experience, such as his time serving in the IDF in Lebanon. But he does not know much history and lacks the skills, time, and other resources to do his own historical research. So if he expatiates on the Russian Revolution, the Spanish civil war, and other diverse topics these are not original contributions, he is borrowing these ideas from somewhere. And comparative analysis leaves no doubt that the source from which he takes these ideas is Nazi-style anti-semitism.

      Regarding the Holocaust, the Revisionist historians whose views he parrots do not deny the existence of concentration (labor) camps, only of death camps. They admit that conditions in the concentration camps were extremely harsh, but not especially for the Jews: perhaps 200,000 Jews perished.

      On "Judeo-Bolshevism" I would point out that Jews were not the only ethnic group represented disproportionately in the early Soviet bureaucracy and secret police. So were Armenians, Latvians, and Poles, for instance. The founder of the secret police was of Polish origin and many of his colleagues were Latvians (strange as this seems in light of later developments). The degree to which different ethnic groups were attracted to bolshevism reflected complex historical circumstances and does not prove that bolshevism was a basically ethnic phenomenon. It was not. Later on the initially disproportionate representation of Jews, Poles etc. disappeared, but this did not change the basic nature of the system in the least.

      It seems a diversion of energy to have to discuss these extraneous issues on a site devoted to I/P. It would be better to ignore Atzmon.

  • Why I'm keeping my child home from school in Israel on Holocaust Day
    • Hannah Senesh and her comrades (certainly no cowards) were parachuted in by the British to make contact with the presumed Resistance, but they were captured immediately upon landing, suggesting a tip-off. Who betrayed them if not Kastner?

      The work of Yehuda Bauer is of some value, but I don't trust him. His argumentation always seems sensible and reasonable, but somehow he always reaches conclusions supportive of Zionism.

    • Holocaust teaching is also compulsory in several US states. Has anyone studied how the subject is taught in this country?

    • "No Zionists rescued any of the Hungarian Jews from Auschwitz."

      Not strictly true. The Hungarian Zionist leader Rudolf Kastner, later a high-ranking civil servant in Israel, did rescue a trainload of Jews, although they were mainly his relatives, friends, and colleagues and people with enough money to pay the high price demanded for seats -- and in exchange he helped the Nazis murder the rest, especially by concealing from them what awaited them. .

  • Speaking of Palestine and academic freedom
    • Professor Salaita says: "No one opposes free speech as an ideal." Maybe, but many people oppose free speech under currently existing conditions and such opposition has theoretical underpinnings that need to be challenged. For example, the idea of 'incitement' is easily stretched to delegitimize any strong expression of protest as conducive to violence. Another conceptual device is the paradigm that divides ideas into "moderate" and "extreme" and justifies restrictions on the expression of ideas that fall into the "extreme" category.

      For example, many people hold that academic positions should be reserved for "moderates" because university professors have opportunities to influence the younger generation. This was the argument made by Mr. Lev, the columnist for the local Jewish newspaper who initiated the campaign to get me fired from Brown University.

      Of course, people do not agree on which ideas are "extreme." Everyone naturally regards their own opinions as "moderate" and opinions that diverge too sharply from their own as "extreme." But by delegitimizing opinions that you detest you are affirming the paradigm itself and thereby sustaining the conditions that may well lead to you yourself being stigmatized as an "extremist." Ultimately freedom is for everyone, including communists, anarchists, racists, and advocates of cannibalism, or for no one.

  • 'Why do I not cry out for the right of return?' -- an exchange between Uri Avnery and Salman Abu Sitta
    • Salman refers to a memoir entitled Reflections of a Daughter of the “‘48 Generation” by Dr. Tikva Honig-Parnass. Does anyone know who the publisher is or how to obtain it?

  • I am not a jew
    • YoniFalic: You have some responsibility for what you did, but there were mitigating circumstances. You were young and immature and your commander was bullying you to commit those murders. I regard him as the main culprit even though he was acing through you. To put someone under pressure to commit a terrible act, knowing that he is incapable of resisting your pressure, is itself a terrible crime. You were a perpetrator but you were also a victim. It does not make you a monster.

      There is a powerful scene in Feng Xiaoning's film Purple Sunset -- a Japanese drill sergeant is training young Japanese, members of the Japanese settler community in Manchukuo / Manchuria, to kill, each of them has to charge and use his or her bayonet to kill a Chinese prisoner tied to a post. One girl hesitates, she can't bring herself to do it. The sergeant yells at her: "Useless! What use is a soldier who is unable to kill?" and punches her in the face, knocking her down. She picks herself up, her nose streaming blood, and does the job. How much guilt is it fair to pin on her?

      I saw a video about an American soldier, a veteran of the war in Vietnam, who tracks down a woman whose father he killed to beg her forgiveness. Have you tried tracing relatives of your victims and going to apologize to them? Perhaps it will help heal both you and them.

  • Israel will celebrate 50th anniversary of '67 war in -- an illegal settlement!
    • People can be occupied but never defeated? Even expanding to the limit the range of situations that qualify as not being defeated, I don't see how you can deny the defeat of peoples who were completely exterminated, like the Hereros and indigenous Tasmanians.

  • 'This miracle, this gift, this jewel' -- Obama's ambassador to Israel declares he's a Zionist
    • I can understand having that feeling, I've had a bit of it myself. It is indeed "amazing" to find a whole country pervaded by the sort of cosy familiarity that in the diaspora is confined to the family context. But for me it was overpowering, TOO MUCH. Jewishness is something I enjoy only in small doses I prefer it to be diluted.. In Israel its negative as well as positive features are elevated to the state level. And there is the uneasy feeling that this is not how things are supposed to be. Dispersion is an essential part of what it means to be a Jew. The religious say simply that it is God's will. And all this even before raising the question of who pays the price for this amazing feeling.

    • Isn't the word "Israelis" usually used to mean Israeli Jews only? The conflict is generally referred to as being between "Israelis" and "Palestinians" as though these are mutually exclusive categories. It is tacitly understood that the Israeli citizenship of some Palestinians is not to be taken too seriously.

  • Israel’s ‘right to exist’ and the Palestinian right to resist
    • The privileges of the Church of England as a state church are not very important but they do exist. It is the only religion whose dignitaries (archbishops and most bishops) have a de officio right to seats in the upper house of parliament. It alone conducts state ceremonies like the coronation of a new monarch. In practice most of its privileges are symbolic and no longer cause much resentment among non-Anglicans, partly because they are not of great practical significance and partly (I think) simply because people are used to them. A future Israel is conceivable (though admittedly improbable) in which the Judaic rabbinate would have symbolic privileges comparable to those of the Church of England as one aspect of the "minimal Zionism" envisioned by certain Israeli theorists -- a state that could still consider itself "Jewish" in this limited symbolic sense without being either theocratic or ethno-supremacist.

  • Israeli Jews maintain the occupation because it is in their interest -- Noam Sheizaf
    • So why the hysterical reaction to criticism? Why the obsession with "delegitimization"? It doesn't suggest confident optimism to me.

    • Is it rational to optimize the next few years and ignore the longer term? The years pass quickly. Is it irrational to care what situation you leave to your children and grandchildren? And this "rational" Israeli Jewish public does not seem to understand the extent to which it is determining its own longer-term future by the choices it makes now. You can't lock your "problem" population up indefinitely -- changing circumstances are on the whole working in favor of the Palestinians and they will eventually get their rights. How they treat you when they get the upper hand will depend on how you treat them while you are in charge. You yourselves determine how likely it is that they will take revenge when they can. The white South Africans have been pretty lucky so far, but you can't count on that sort of luck. How rational is a calculation of self-interest built on the absurd assumption that your opponent is not human like yourself?

  • 'I came to explore the wreck of Zionism': A report from the 2017 JVP meeting
    • After 1945 the Zionists staged a melodrama to make people believe that Jewish survivors of the Holocaust had nowhere else to go besides Palestine. This belief played a crucial role in gaining the approval of most of world opinion for the creation of Israel. However, it was false. Many other countries were or might have been willing to accept the survivors -- France, Britain, Australia, even Jordan among them -- but the Zionists worked quite successfully behind the scenes to block or suppress awareness of such initiatives. One country that did take in refugees despite Zionist pressure was Sweden, loyal to its own humanitarian tradition. And some did manage quietly to settle here in the US.

      "Repatriation" was not in all cases a reasonable option. In particular, Poland was not an acceptable destination because it was the graveyard of survivors' families (the main death camps were there) and because the return of some Jews after the war led to pogroms.

  • History will make us pay for this
    • Liz: I don't think Ashrawi would have minded being told how much you were moved by her book and her talk or that it would have been in any way inappropriate. She might have found it encouraging to know that her efforts are not in vain. It is a pity that you held back.

      In general, Palestinians are people and as such vary widely in character, personality, and attitudes. Some make Jews the focus of their political work. For them it is helpful to know more about Jews' journeys. Others may have a milder interest in the matter. Yet others may be indifferent or irritated. Even by surveying articles and comments by Palestinians on Mondoweiss you can find a range of attitudes. The pigeon-holes and formulas of identity politics are harmful as well as misleading because they prevent us from seeing and responding to people as individuals.

  • Towards Better Ally-ship for Palestine: A letter to the US activist community
    • I have read that some Palestinians (clearly not the writer of this article) refuse to identify as Arabs by way of protest against the lack of effective solidarity from the "Arab world." I think this stance makes political sense because it is the most direct challenge to the Zionists' preference for calling Palestinians simply Arabs and not Palestinians at all, as they don't want to recognize Palestinian as a valid identity. Historically the Palestinians may have been just a local subgroup of the Arabs, but these things can and do change. The separation between the specific Palestinian and the general Arab identity is a result of Zionism.

    • "Arab world" is obviously suitable in many contexts but not all. "Middle East" overlaps with "Arab world" but does not include the whole of north Africa -- is Morocco in the Middle East? Persia (Iran) has its own non-Arab cultural identity and is usually seen as part of the Middle East. Then there is the matter of large non-Arab minorities like the Kurds. "Middle East" has the advantage of encompassing these non-Arab components. True, it assumes a Western or European vantage point. How about "West Asia"?

  • UN bowed to 'fearmongering and threats' from powerful governments to cover up 'painful truth' of Israeli apartheid -- UN official's resignation letter
  • Victim's daughter responds to anti-Arab attack in Oregon: 'I don’t want this to be considered a hate crime'

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