Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 844 (since 2009-08-09 15:40:46)


Showing comments 844 - 801

  • French premier says 'loathing of Jews' is behind BDS
    • Halper's new book is important because it evades the dichotomy around the pro Israel Lobby: the classical 'the lobby is normal and legit and nothing to see here please move along now' vs 'the lobby is the most powerful force distorting us from following a sane policy'. With dichotomy I don't mean to say people's views lack nuance but that they're caught in a polarisation that narrows down thinking.
      The Chomsky view that focuses on general US foreign policy behaviour , puts the emphasis on natural imperial tendencies in US policies. If you view it through the dichotomy then it's closer to the classical view on the lobby I think. But you don't have to view it that way. My preference is for how the Leveretts put it, that the lobby is powerful but also very effective because it's pushing an open door of US foreign policy doctrines. These policies would still exist if the lobby wasn't there and they manifest themselves in other non-middle east areas in the same manner.

      Halper looks at worldwide attitudes towards Israel, and points at the business ties, mainly defense and security business which translates roughly in providing protection of those in power against the people around them and under them. So there's a plain business side, an elite business aspect and a 'merchants of oppression' flavouring. And then you get countries like China that have no significant influence from US lobbies and that turn towards Israel rather than away from it. So I think Halper has made a valuable contribution.

  • Goldberg on Obama's Syria credibility 'crisis'
    • Gareth Porter discusses Goldbergs article as well here , and he draws conclusions from it that are quite favorable towards Obama. And convincingly too, and contradicting Goldberg's view. So I do think now that often Obama's views on foreign policy are better than those of his advisers, and it was him who stopped the US from bombing Syria.

  • Pure rubbish
    • Israel has declared preemptive war on parody. I recall Eli Valley's problems coming up with parodies and finding they had already been claimed by reality.

  • Ban Ki-moon keeps woofing at Israel over occupation -- but not a word about sanctions
    • You’d think that with so many Palestinians willing to give up their lives in order to demonstrate the inhumanity of the occupation– 160 have been killed since October, most wielding knives– the international community might actually take some symbolic steps to put its money where its mouth is. But you’d be wrong.

      I don't condemn violent resistance but how do you know most were wielding knives? Does having your hands in your pockets count? And eating with fork and knife? A fork can be a dangerous weapon too you know.

      I think very few were killed in order to defend someone from imminent lethal danger.

  • Why are American pro-Palestinian voices silent about the brutal war on Yemen?
    • Most media outlets have uncritically echoed this accusation, describing the war as “sectarian” and a “proxy war.” Investigative reporters like Gareth Porter have revealed, however, that the ostensible role of Iran has been exaggerated, or even blatantly lied about, in order to justify the bombing and destruction.

      Porter examined the main claims and found they were baseless. That there was nothing there. I do not find any allegations in Porter's article that there have been exaggerated claims about Iran's role in Yemen.
      Exaggeration means that something can be substantiated, so what is it that can be substantiated? It's not implausible that there is something but I don't know what.

  • Suddenly, comparing Jewish state to ISIS is OK
    • Not at all the same thing, but go ahead and tell yourself that. Israelis are doing what no one else in the region does – being self-critical.

      I do see that happening. First reporting the event as something that some very extreme people do who are not at all representative for what's going on in Israel. And then triumphantly highlighting the occasional criticism as a proof of how good Israel is and to show that everything's fine really. Criticismwashing would be an appropriate name for it. Terrible sounding word though.

  • The people love the Iran deal -- to judge from 'NYT' letters
    • I think it's great news.

      And how nice, the first pictures of Iran's secret ball of plutonium show it's got a heart.

  • Netanyahu's accomplishment: Consolidating support for negotiations with Iran
    • To put any display of outrage in context, I'm sure quite some representatives have a record of being staunch supporters of Israel because they considered it career suicide not to do so.
      The act of Netanyahu overstepping then becomes an excuse, an opportunity for jumping ship wihtout suffereing too much consequences. Any display of indignation or outrage then makes the excuse more powerful.

  • Obama hired Clinton as sec'y of state by reaching out to Israel supporter Hoenlein -- NYT
  • Israel surveils and blackmails gay Palestinians to make them informants
    • I thought Israel had been routinely surveilling and blackmailing every Palestinian they could get a hand on for as long as anyone can remember. Stasi on steroids. Including the part where nobody could trust anyone else because they could be collaborator. Remember you need a permit for everything, and if you need something you can expect something to be demanded in return.

  • Israel's right wing Zionists, Palestine's militant resistance are political winners after Gaza slaughter
    • I think it would be useful to review the relationship between armed and unarmed resistance.
      In my experience many people sympathetic with the Palestinian cause have always tried to distance themselves as much as possible from Hamas and other armed resistance movements. There are both valid and questionable reasons for this.
      There's a bit of a shift now vis-a-vis Hamas , and possibly a bit of disillusionment about nonviolent resistance. One should be aware of the range of possible positions. For one thing, it doesn't have to be either/or. There can be a place for both.

  • Salaita’s stellar teaching record exposes political motivation behind his firing
  • Air strikes and rocket fire resume as Gaza negotiations collapse
    • I wouldn't know. In general I think the US doesn't use such a doctrine even if the result is similar.

      I do think that in general when a party starts to take liberties with interpretations of certain laws , charters, norms, it quickly becomes a precedent for others to do the same. The US has done a lot of damage there, and of course Israel is more extreme , be it less of a leading example.
      This article discusses Israels lawfare assault on humanitarian law.

    • Taghreed El Khodary also said ( in this interview) that Israel targets the families of Hamas members. I think it's part of the Dahiya doctrine and that this approach was used in the Lebanon war as well.

      It's a matter of always stretching the interpretation of legitimacy a bit more.
      Once you can get a degree of acceptation for the idea that you can target a Hamas member anywhere and take out everyone in the neighborhood as well , because these are just human shields and it's ok to kill human shields, then the next step is
      you can always target their family anyway and claim you didn't know the Hamas member was not there.

  • Hillary Clinton's 11th-hour diplomacy
    • [Citizen says:] Remember Bush Jr wanted to get Sadam because Sadam said he wanted to kill Pappa Bush?

      What of it? As far as I know it's all a baseless rumor. Ok, with some effort from Kuwait to feed it.

    • So you think that in the current circumstances she can get elected with an agenda that is not squarely behind Israel then?

    • I don’t personally know a single female of any age or political stripe who will not vote for Hillary. There’s a lot of females in my family and extended family–all will vote for Hillary, and have declared so.

      On a site like this support for a candidate tends to depend on the I/P issue. One can question how sensible that is. I think a case can be made against her foreign policy in general, but people may vote based on domestic issues as well, and gender equality is a legitimate domestic issue.

    • I also think Clinton is a liberal hawk who's strongly pro-Israel but I'd like to spell out what the baseline is here. Clinton is saying what she thinks is needed. There's a word I picked up long ago: ludecy. It's derived from the word 'ludo' or game and it means playing the game according to the rules. The rules may not be absolute but if you ignore them don't expect to get anywhere. And for Clinton to be elected means she has to convincingly address jewish sponsors who support Israel. She has to convince them she's fully on their side, and more so than democratic competitors who will be doing the same, because they also think that is how they can get elected.
      So whatever policies she would support once elected, right now she's doing what she thinks is needed to get funds.

      One can hardly expect from people that when playing the game they ignore the rules as they see them. It would be stupid of them to do so. Do you want them to do something stupid? On the other hand, the players have some elbow room to deviate from that baseline and one tries to deduce some things from how they use that elbow room. I can't see much good there in her case on the foreign policy field.

  • Jewish Voice for Peace stomps AIPAC and J Street in latest online traffic figures
  • Checking under Israel's Iron Dome
    • The PR package as I encountered it in reporting worked like this

      The terrorists have been raining down devastating missiles on us. Luckily we had developed Iron Dome which stopped the missiles. That is why the death tallies are so lopsided. But can we help it that we're superior? No, we should not be blamed for it. Therefore the disproportionality argument can be dismissed.

      It's surreal. Everything was wrong about it but it worked.

    • I would have thought “interception” meant prevention of the payload reaching

      That's what it should mean. What Postol said is they've been using another definition. To put it differently, he says they're cheating.

    • who in recent articles (1, 2) and interviews (1, 2) claimed that an analysis of videos showing presumed interceptions shows that Iron Dome intercepts no more than five percent of all incoming rockets.

      I think the difference in interpretation revolves around the meaning of interception. If interception means "Iron Dome rocket explodes near incoming projectile" then the interception rate is high. If the meaning is "Iron Dome rocket destroys payload of incoming projectile" then the rate is low. So Postol challenges the effectiveness of the interception, rather than the rate of interception.

  • Israel and its advocates have a new target in sight: Head of UN inquiry William Schabas
    • Schabas mentions Lemkins broad definition of genocide, with biological, physical, social and economic genocide. Now I'm not particularly favor of using such a loaded word to cover such a broad range, but as long as he's using Lemkins definition, I wonder how well he thinks it would fit I/P. Mind you, he knows pretty well that his investigation the latest assault should be kept very separate from the general picture.

  • Tough Hillary Clinton says 'dreadful' pictures of dead women and children make it hard to get at truth-- Hamas is to blame
    • I recalled correctly. Indyk is reconstructing the events at around 1:00, and at 1:03 he talks sketchingly about the sequence unity government-suspending negotiations-suppressing Hamas in the westbank - Gaza explosion.

    • I recall even Martin Indyk made the link between the Gaza onslaught and the unity government in this debate on c-span link to .But I don't recall where in the debate...

  • The Greenhouse propaganda—How Gazan history is being rewritten to dehumanize Palestinians
    • Good to have an article that looks in detail at the period that covers the myth of 'we left complely and all we got in return were rockets'.

      Or the other myth of "the blockade came in response to the rockets" . Well that last one is a bit more tricky since that was more a case of seeking escalation in order to find excuses to implement a decision that was taken at the beginning. I have also noticed about that period that rocket statistics are always lumped per year so you can't see what happened in the first months after the election.

  • Hollywood's latest blacklist shadows Bardem, Cruz, Almodovar
    • Ah I omitted a word. There's a 'but' missing there. No, a bit to the left. Bit more. Yes, there.

    • Jon Stewart is not working for anyone. He is leading. Others will loose work if they don’t follow Jon Steward.

      Think again. I'm not saying his ideas are that valuable when you've got employees a sense of responsibility can be a reason to be more careful , not less.

    • I saw Jon Stewart's bit on Gaza from july 21st ( link to ) . Jon Stewart voices his criticism in an evenhanded way. Meaning, he compensates his challenging of one myth by reenforcing another one. Well he's got a business to tend, with employees. That brings responsibilities.

      [edit] yeah, the strychnine bit threw me too. It has been used as a doping substance in sports.

  • 'One nation, one state, one leader' -- frightening slogan at Tel Aviv protest
    • The idea of having one state for one jewish nation (you can't have Israeli nationality) was there from the start, but the aspect about 'one leader' is a bit of a stretch. I can imagine that in the current swing to the right the idea of a strong leader appeals, but how much other evidence is there for it? On the other hand, is it essential for describing the process?

    • I’m afraid I’ll mispell it.

      Yeah right.

  • After Gaza
    • The Guardian’s decided to run the disgusting and controversial Wiesel/Boteach “child sacrifice” ad on Monday:

      I don't follow their policies closely but I have the impression they take an approach where contrary to most msm they will publish articles that are too progressive for the mainstream but at the same time they distance themselves more from the authors, possibly to cover their asses . The policy could be an obfuscated hybrid of cowardice and firm openness towards authors. But that policy also makes it hard to refuse an ad like the above.

  • Former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren dropped as CNN 'analyst'
    • When CNN host Wolf Blitzer had Oren on to discuss the killings, the former ambassador and CNN analyst questioned whether the Palestinian teens were really dead. Oren said “we don’t know” for “certain” whether the two boys were killed and said:

      he said they were pining for the fjords? It was as if the shopkeeper in the dead parrot sketch had become a CNN analyst.

  • What will tomorrow bring for Gaza -- a lasting truce or continuous war?
    • But Israel released 1,000 prisoners for one soldier. Perverse message sent to HAMAS.

      That reminds me. Israel quickly put many of those 1000 prisoners back in their dungeons. Perverse message to those guys in Hebron who (speculating but it sounds credible) thought they were going to do something heroic and arrange for a renewed prisoner exchange, this time with 3 israeli teenagers.

  • Thousands of displaced Palestinians take shelter on the fringes of Gaza City
    • Isn’t the proper question whether Palestinians would prefer living under a Hamas-style regime?

      A better question is whether Palestinians agree with Hamas speaking for them in the current situation. How Palestinians want their domestic issues organized is not something Israel -in all their humanistic concern- should worry about. I think that know as soon as their basic needs are taken care of Palestinians will question how Hamas wants to organize their society.

    • ~Usually Chomsky is good at singling out dictators like Suharto, Saddam,etc. I wonder why he doesn’t touch Netanyahu? – who seems increasingly fascist with a stocked cabinet who supports his six decade colonial enterprise.

      I think he generally prefers to focus on the enablers, also with Saddam and Suharto.

  • Conflict Resolution 101: Talk to Hamas
    • In this panel with Nathan Sachs, Kaled Elgindhi and Martin Indyk see what Elghindi says in Q&A near the end: from 1:16 on (question: what would satisfy Hamas) then skip over Indyk to 1:21.
      link to
      Elghindi explains the relation between Gazans and Hamas.
      - Hamas is not any different than Fatah 30 years ago
      - What Hamas wants is the end of the occupation
      - They want to be taken seriously
      - they're willing to accept the palestinian state in 67 borders
      - minus recognition of Israel.
      - is not looking to create a caliphate
      and he follows up with : you make peace with your enemies. as they are.
      At the end he points to the extremists on Israeli side.

    • Which brings us to the question whether Hamas has a partner for peace.

  • Bob Schieffer in a 'world gone mad'
    • Hatim, might he be talking about Hamas handy “guide book” for their chaps?
      link to

      What vile nonsense. To stay in the idiom that's currently popular here, may your shit come to life, be set free, and kiss you.

  • What I said to the couple holding a banner with a swastika on it
    • Pixel, it can be a trick, it can be experienced as real, it can be real. People who see antisemitism everywhere often have drilled themselves into a form of paranoia but they really mean it.

  • UK activists shut down Israeli arms factory
    • It is about grabbing land from the Palestinians in Gaza and the natural resources that go with the land, upon the occasion of Israel’s military invasion of Gaza.”

      I think it's primarily about keeping the Gazans and Hamas knocked out. Israel isn't trying to recover the buffer zone for themselves that I know. Or not yet. And the gas, well, eventually.

  • 'NYT' gives Israelis the opportunity to shoot and explain (why not Hamas?)
    • Something I didn’t comment on in the post–the criticism that Hamas uses civilians as human shields. Three things wrong.

      Fourth, the claim that Hamas uses civilians as human shields implies Hamas has a parasitic relationship with the Gazans. It implies that Hamas operates only on a cynical basis. It denies that Hamas defends legitimate concerns of the Gazans. And based on what exactly?

      There is a whole spectrum of intent possible: on one end people are forced to serve as human shields to make sure they are hit. On the other end everything possible is done to stay as far away from civilians as possible. I don't have reasons to think Hamas is anywhere near the extreme ends.

  • I'm waiting for Roger Cohen to say that Zionism is 'often' racism
    • BTW, Jazz organ is big in Japan, and people like Diahatsu Kawai, Midori Ono and Atsuko Hashimoto do it very well.

      I think the first of the three is definitely the best.

    • Page: 8
  • Israeli deceptions revealed in story of ‘kidnapped’ soldier
    • Corollary to the Hannibal directive: all IDF soldiers are required to wear suicide belts, just in case they fall in enemy hands. Remote controlled too, just to make absolutely sure.

    • I wonder what the psychological effect of the “Hannibal procedure” must be on Israeli soldiers.

      There a lack of clarity to what extent soldiers know about Hannibal. Is it just the higher echelons who are aware (need to know) or has everyone in combat been briefed.
      I think it's well possible that soldiers have been briefed in an offhand euphemistic way and don't give much thought to the idea. That doesn't mean the higher echelons don't worry about it getting out. There was a conflict between IDF censors and the NYTimes , possibly about Hannibal.

      "In the event that you get kidnapped we will do everything in our power to stop the terrorists. We will also not give up when the terrorists try to use you as human shields. the terrorists should know that this will not help them. I will be very honest with you : if you get kidnapped there is a risk that you get killed. But we think that overall it is safer because it will discourage the terrorists from even trying."

  • The British public and the world see that Israel's actions are 'wrong and unjustified' -- Miliband
    • [HarryLaw said:] State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called on Israel to do “more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties.””

      That sounds a bit crude. You're sure it wasn't “do even more to meet its own unparallelled standards and avoid civilian casualties.”

      [HarryLaw said:] The first public announcement of the doctrine was made by General Gadi Eizenkot, commander of the IDF’s northern front, in October 2008.

      link to
      And you can see that it has its roots half a century earlier: Ben Gurion's disproportionate retaliation .
      They're not even mentioning preventive disproportionate retaliation.

  • Who broke the ceasefire? Obama blames Hamas against the evidence
    • UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon speaking on behalf of the UN (that generally gives Israel a very rough ride) condemned “in the strongest terms” the reported ceasefire violation by Hamas and had demanded that an Israeli soldier that was thought to have been captured in Gaza be released immediately.

      From the press conference Ban Ki-Moon gave together with Netanyahu(it's on Netanyahu's site) begin of july I only take away the feeling that Ban Ki-Moon is very much on Israel's side, probably to the dismay of many people in his organisation.

    • A triumphant analysis of how Hamas messed up by breaking the latest ceasefire by by john Cassidy at the New Yorker. He's smart. He uses words like 'opprobrium'. I hardly know what it means.

  • Reading Amos Oz on Gaza
    • In the New Yorker, in a reply to a piece by Khalidi, Amoz Oz is presented as a moral compass by
      Philip Gourevitch

      They're busy at the Newyorker.

    • I can easily believe Amoz Oz is a good person while at the same time thinking he's a lousy guide in this conflict. (*)

      I think Hamas is a reasonable partner for negotiations.
      If people start playing with that idea there's a good chance they'll read their moral compass Amoz Oz, he's bound to get in the way. So his reading of Hamas' charter has a preemptive effect.

      (*) And I can put up an argument in defense of doublethink in that respect.

    • Justified, but excessive? True, but false?

      I don't think that is how it works. While previously mainstream outrage took the form of 'justified but excessive', the shift that I see currently is that there is no more talk about justification. The focus goes to 'excessive'. But 'justified' is there, lurking in the background. Media have not yet challenged justifications. I don't know if they will.

  • Portrait of a Zionist
    • I’m not sure how to interpret the Podhoretz tweet: to me it sounds pro-Kerry and somewhat critical of the Israeli leadership. If so, it’s quite a surprise coming from him. Am I wrong?

      The critical quote is a tweet from John Legend. Podhoretz replies to John Legend that he should shut up and play.

  • Will 'Protective Edge' galvanize the US mainstream, as 'Cast Lead' galvanized the left?
    • My flemish daily newspaper 'De Morgen' is very mainstream progressive with strong ties to Israel. Its record of reporting on Israel is terrible. There's a range of course, but it's always been liberal zionist at best. They'll mention B'Tselem reports for instance, and some reports are technically flawless by themselves.

      But it is shifting now. I have to say I'm relieved to see it. I've been very critical of Koen Vidal, the head of foreign reporting , but in his latest posts he stopped distributing blame evenly or describing things as a symmetric conflict. No more narrative of 'overreacting' and thus implicitly justifying Israels general objectives.
      He's blaming Israel and he clearly started looking into sources that previously were not considered part of the 'reasonable range of opinions'.
      He's even mentioned Luntz now which means he's reading Patrick Cockburn and I suspect he's been talking to diplomats. The layer below the decisionmakers often has a clearer view of things.

      If they really want do move things they'd put a picture of sodastream stuff on the front. Just a neutral article you know, not instigating BDS.
      Belgians don't know Sodastream is Israeli, let alone westbank. But that would cost them and of course a shift doesn't mean they all suddenly changed their minds.

      Meanwhile the reports of antisemitic incidents are also being published, including some dubious : woman with Israeli flag being harassed. Antisemitism, right?
      The thing is , they're worried about antisemitism but no longer bending over because of it.

      They'll still be publishing some rubbish narratives of course, and they are, but I'm relieved, really. I've read that paper since a very long time.

  • Blitzer and Rudoren pump Israeli tunnel fears (and AIPAC cashes in)
    • The purpose of the kindergarten scenario is to appeal to deep fears, the stuff they make horrormovies of.

    • I have read a lot of pro Israel stuff lately that I thought was satire and turned out not to be.

      Well my story was hardly more extreme than the 'they're digging tunnels into your kindergarten' was it? Though I tried. They're waging war on satire and parody I'm telling ya.

    • You all laugh but what would YOU do when a Hamas has dug a tunnel into the bedroom of your kids and is hiding under the bed? Or when Hamas are hiding in the airconditioning of your apartment block? You can hear them shuffling around at night, when they're at it again. They're in the walls and in the ceiling. They make holes in the bottom of the cookie cupboard and sneak through the rooms when you're sleeping. Deciding when they're going to steal your children and eat them.

  • 'Children killed in their sleep': Israeli artillery fire hits UN school, killing at least 20
    • Massive #Israel bombardments now in the southern #Gaza Strip in attempt to prevent IDF captive being spirited away (Hannibal directive)
      — Anshel Pfeffer (@AnshelPfeffer) August 1, 2014

      Guardian quoting Haaretz quoting the Hannibal directive. That should mean something. It remains odd though that a 30 year old directive that is public knowledge in Israel, since many soldiers have been briefed on it. is only being discovered now by so many. In the same vein, strange that it took 20 years to first write about it.
      I'd concede that the directive did move to the background for long periods, when it wasn't considered necessary.

    • Annie, Hamas is a slightly milder form of Wahhabi fundamentalism since it’s an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that’s itself a mild form of Wahhabi fundamentalism such as is practiced in Qatar, so you could say that Hamas is a fundamentalist of some sort as it’s for the hijab, no girls on bikes or in roadside cafés or smoking and not being allowed to be coiffed by a man and so on. If you were to compare them to the ultra Wahhabi fundamentalists of Saudi Arabia or the super ultra fundamentalists of head-cutting ISIS, you could conclude that in comparison, Hamas is not ay all fundamentalist, which is what probably Mashaal was hinting at.

      I think the 'fundamentalist' and 'extremist' labels of Hamas have obfuscated things in the sense that they mixed the internal and external aspects of Hamas. If Israel were to negotiate with a resistance movement it is of little concern to them how Hamas wants to arrange their domestic environment. The part that matters is politics towards Israel, and there the goals of Hamas are a moderate starting point for negotiations . At the time of the Hamas charter you could say ok, generic anticolonial attitude: all colonists out, plus some offensive theories. But nothing's left of that. I don't want or expect others to see it that way but that's what I think. There is a also a distinction between method and goal. Their methods have been extreme during the intifada. Their current methods can be classified as warcrimes but considering the circumstances I'm not enthusiastic about condemning them for it either. I also don't expect anyone to follow me there. I think keeping the focus in method over goal is a way of distorting the issue. It matters, but if you're looking for solutions it should not be central.

      In the current onslaught on Gaza Israel manages to carry all the blame on pretext(false pretext), on method(Dahiya doctrine -or worse) and on goal(turning Gaza into a permanent dedeveloped refugee camp).

  • Video: If you voted for Hamas, Israel has a right to kill you, says president of NY Board of Rabbis
    • Belgium is asking politely to label the goods but it doesn't insist. At the same time it says don't blame us blame the EU . It's cowardly and weak, but it does make boycotting more userfriendly.

      Mind you, as I have posted on here previously, I found that the Sodastream device sold in belgian supermarkets currently doesn't even have the country of origin on it .

  • Statement: Legal experts and human rights defenders demand international community end Israel's collective punishment of Gaza
    • 86.5% means 100% Jewish support plus a minority of Palestinians

      It usually means 'we only asked Jews but it slipped our mind that we could count Palestinians as Israeli as well'.

  • Claim that Hamas killed 3 teens is turning out to be the WMD of Gaza onslaught
    • You want me to get a Twitter and Facebook account in order to entertain someone who gets her information about IP from Netanyahu's cartoons?
      Hm. I'll think about it..

      As for the hive mind.. I have my thoughts. Larry Derfner wrote about the warm cosy feelings Israelis have towards each other during wartime. ( link to )
      I think that's to be taken seriously. The attraction of the warm ultranationalistic womb of Israel. I Think of the bonding between soldiers at war time.

    • J.J.Goldberg said that during the Westbank crackdown Hamas anticipated that the IDF was going to attack and went underground. This ment that the other armed groups were no longer being policed. To what extent it's proven or deduction I can't say but I think it is very credible. That is why I also think it likely that Hamas didn't place the rockets in UNRWA facilities(there are two reported cases of rockets in UNRWA facilities).
      What it does not mean is that Hamas would have directives like "when firing missiles always make sure you're more than 100m away from any UN facility ". There is a spectrum in how far you go.

    • Quite. There were earlier rocket strikes but not by Hamas.

    • (isn’t it interesting that Lerner and Rosenfeld are the spokespeople for the IOF and IP with their perfectly proper British accents? Coincidence? Nah. It’s part of the illusion that Israel is civilized.)

      Moviemakers know that you need to deliver a ridiculous line without sounding silly you need british shakespeare actors. That is why Star Trek had captain Picard.

  • As in Vietnam and South Africa, Gazan masses are willing to pay high price for freedom -- Kasrils
    • Another failure has been Israel’s much vaunted Iron Dome defence system which palpably cannot prevent the Qassam rockets penetrating and which has succeeded in affecting international flights into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport.

      As a PR event for Iron Dome the current operation is a success. I've seen two articles about it already in my newspaper and it's already treated as a solid fact that Iron Dome is responsible all by itself for the asymetry of the number of dead people on both sides. Which is nonsense. As Phan Nguyen documented on here the number of dead on Israeli side due to rockets and mortars from Gaza is 30 over 10 years. Rockets from Gaza are very ineffective. On the one hand this is because the rockets are crude and weak. On the other hand this is because the Israeli early warning system does work well.

  • Oren's charge that networks showcase Palestinian dead at behest of Hamas is 'obscene' -- Penhaul
    • re: Jon Snow's latest blog. Yes, moving but still quite safe. It's not to get him into a lot of trouble.

  • Palestinians build tunnel to attack Israeli kindergarten, Netanyahu says
    • [just says] thanks Annie.

      He just flinging the old “ziopoop” to see if anything will stick.

      Jon66 makes clear from the start that he's from a zionist background, which is an honest start. He'll have his reflexes but until further notice I see no reason to assume he's just here to come to the rescue of poor little Israel with whatever dirty means necessary.

    • I have trouble matching the '3:40' in the playlist. they're short pieces.

      I'd like to hear the thoughts from the human rights council who have stated they suspect Israel of committing war crimes, about their chief Ban Ki Moon being trotted out for a press conference with Netanyahu, followed by Ban Ki Moon bein outraged about the rockets in the UNRWA school.

  • The deafening silence around the Hamas proposal for a 10-year truce
    • Just ONE proven use of civilian infrastructure, and that was disused! But it leads to Ban parroting hasbara, and it’s that bit that gets quoted on radio and world service bulletins, as if it is a fact.

      And while it's possible that Hamas owned those missiles, I think it's more likely that the missiles were placed there by others because Hamas is no longer supervising/suppressing the other armed parties in Gaza.

  • Burning children
  • Finally, Israel is alienating the US mainstream media
    • Jeff Halper thinks the decisionmakers went for the more radical 'plowing the grass' (rather than 'mowing') and are willing to bear the PR cost. Larry Derfner hints at similar attitudes.

    • Many writers are citing J.J. Goldberg’s piece at the Forward, “How Politics and Lies Triggered an Unintended War in Gaza,” which says that Israel manipulated the teen killings in the West Bank to have a war with Hamas, and now Israel is going off a “cliff.”

      The J.JGoldberg quote made me sit up. Upon closer reading of Goldberg's article article I think it is a bit misrepresented. There are some remarkable assertions in the article, and it avoids several cliches. It actually explains in detail how Hamas bears no blame at all for any of the events in the whole runup to the current assault. But Goldberg also claims that the army didn't want war either and even Netanyahu didn't really want it.His argument is not convincing but it has its merits. So I disagree with hm, the summary of the citation.

  • Look at Netanyahu's 'evidence' that civilians are harboring rockets in Gaza
    • Yes, the UNRWA statement is here : link to .

      Now if you have a one time statement from UNRWA that this is the first time they find rockets in one of their vacant schools, what does this say about the general practices of Hamas - assuming the rockets were placed there by Hamas people?

      It says that this instance was an exception. Now the human shields issue covers a whole spectrum from 'doing everything to put civilians at risk' to 'going out of your way to avoid putting civilians at risk'. From the Goldstone report about operation Cast Lead it was clear that Hamas does not try to increase the risk for civilians of Gaza.

      [edit] and look here, Ali Abunimah has done a thorough job link to
      During Cast Lead there was huge damage to schools, and no cases of Hamas using them as weapons caches.

    • The majority in the world will not buy it.

      I disagree. I think a common reaction is that whatever Israel claims about Hamas is believed, but the main reaction currently is that Israel's reaction is disproportionate.

      Still, emotionally the shift away from Israel could be much more thorough than the last time.

    • There's a whole series of them, Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini have an article about it at link to
      I think it could be effective , not just by itself but because it works on a familiar theme. I imagine that the human shields theme can be successful in turning black into white. You bomb a school and the public's reaction is to 'ooh those nasty Hamasians who use a school as human shield.' Nuanced commentators will offer a balanced view with on the one hand Hamas using human shields with Israel grossly overreacting, a kind of thinking that I think manages to be wrong on too many counts.

  • The most interesting journalist in the world
  • 'Politico' leaves Israel off list of 25 'awkward allies' of U.S.
    • They also made a 'list of awkard allies that are too awkward for the awkward allies list' but it was empty so they didn't publish it.

  • Student who exposed 'leftist' teacher is honored at Knesset, while teacher gets violent threats
  • 'Economist' pulls cartoon showing Obama shackled to Congress bearing Star of David
  • Elephant waddles through room. 'NYT' doesn't see it
  • Jon Stewart plays 'Let's break a deal' with AIPAC
    • It was once a way-up for people from minorities, as was sports. Lot of Jewish comedians in the day.

      Lot of Jewish sportsmen in the day.

    • I appreciate Jon Stewart's opinions, they're worthwile. But I don't expect much from him on I/P, both because his ideas on this aren't that good, and because he's got responsibility. He can cover for others who stick their necks out but won't take too many risks himself. It's easier when you only have to think about consequences for yourself.

      The way he handled the joke about the Iran provocation that really was an Israeli provocation was diplomacy, or rather, CYA. He could have stopped after realizing that the source of the quote was Israeli, but he had to follow up by throwing in an iranian quote to balance things out, just to end up with a bland conclusion.

      Very conscious of adverse repercussions that.

  • Former US citizen, former Israeli ambassador, Oren gets job at CNN
    • I always considered Oren a clown but to be fair he's been miseducated. Just imagine the moment it sinks in "Hey I can say whatever I want and they'll buy it! Absolutely anything! This is so cool!"

  • Russell Simmons tweets condolences for Ariel Sharon but then takes it back after remembering who he was
    • Maybe there will be another tweet saying he confused Peres with Barak. And then another and another one, each time more desperate.

  • Ariel Sharon, whose political career was unhindered by civilian massacres, dies at 85
    • About the mention of his 'responsibility' for Sabra/Shatila: responsibility can mean different things from being fully complicit to minimal political responsibility, meaning having the bad luck of being in function while something happened which you had nothing to do with.
      My interpretation tends towards the dark side. The way it's reported suggests it should be interpreted on the light side, because that is the most straightforward interpretation of such a word in that context.

  • Marvin Hier is making his list, checking it twice
    • Peculiar kind of activity, this listmaking. Which brings us to the perfect morning routine: just before you start the day, just think about antisemitism for five minutes. No distractions , just very focused concentration. You'll feel morally liberated all day and whatever you do will feel perfectly justified.

  • Avigdor's triumph: Israel reportedly wants to transfer northern villages into Palestinian state
    • The transfer plan is more a concept of Livni than of Lieberman.

      Attributing the ideas to Lieberman certainly makes them sound less mainstream than they are. Apparently the israeli side began to seriously consider the option in 2000. From disturbing-israeli-ideas-from-herzliya

      Following the 2000 conference, the organizers issued a report in which they made several recommendations to defuse the “demographic time bomb.” Many more Jewish immigrants had to be brought to Israel; the citizenship rights of some Israeli-Arabs should be revoked; and the Palestinian Authority had to be encouraged to accept “land swaps,” handing over areas adjacent to the West Bank heavily populated with Israeli-Arabs in return for much of the territory on which Jewish settlements have been built.

      It's always the little triangle they're thinking of.

  • Cyndi Lauper, the country you are planning to entertain imposes violent segregation, not equality
  • Guilty on Christmas
    • Mideast Christians can keep up their “more authentic” local traditions and have Christmas trees as well.

      That's because christian zionists infiltrated the JNF and managed to plant huge loads of christmas trees all over the promised land.

  • In 'intractable conflict,' Israel must periodically and forcefully 'mow the grass'
    • Only after showing much restraint in its military responses does Israel act forcefully to destroy the capabilities of its foes, hoping that occasional large-scale operations have a temporary deterrent effect in order to create periods of quiet along its borders.

      It's called preventive war. It's about regular preventive wars. I think the obligatory insertion of an apology has become part of the grammar or something because the concept of 'preventive wars as a last resort' is rather peculiar.

  • Yet another Dershowitz fabrication
    • I don't know about Dershowitz picketing but it's part of the same affair.
      Dershowitz visited El-Asmar in prison in 1970 and presented himself as 'an American New Leftist' investigating the problem of administrative detention. The interview itself went well. The article that Dershowitz published about it in Commentary was full of lies and elaborate fabrications. In the article all administrative detentions were justified and El-Asmar was the head of a gang of murderers.
      Later the article by Dershowitz was used to discredit El-Asmar when he spoke in the US somewhere in 1972. Summaries of the article were distributed at the locations where El-Asmar spoke.

      Dershowitz has been around longer than that but that's the oldest story I know about him. His wikipedia page can't find anything really wrong about the guy though.

    • The late Fouzi El-Asmar described an unpleasant encounter with Dershowitz in 1970 in his book 'To Be an Arab in Israel' . That's 43 years ago. A long career of scumbaggery.

  • Israeli government kills plan to uproot Bedouin
    • So they weren't going to grow pine forests on them this time. Which is a surprise. Not many people know this but in modern hebrew the words 'pine tree' and 'eraser' are homonyms and they are used interchangeably. Which is why most hebrew keyboards still have a pinetree icon for the delete button and MSPaint has a pinetree button for the eraser function. Or why the erase button draws pinetrees.

  • Protesters ask Target to drop Israeli settlement product SodaStream
    • I checked one of the boxes and saw the device was “made in Israel”.

      I did the same in a belgian supermarket. On the box I found lots of mentions of licensed production in many countries and in many languages, but I couldn't find anything about 'made in israel'.

  • Why is a 'Nation' writer labeling Jerry Haber and Abdeen Jabara Palestinian 'cheerleaders'?
    • It's a perfectly normal reaction to feel that Blumenthal’s book is unfair since he's hanging out the dirty laundry. That is a selective view. Selective views can distort reality. So the controversy moves to a higher level, one side claiming the book is not balanced, the other side claiming it brings balance to the larger picture.

    • He did ask Russell that. The question didn't do justice to the philosophical masterpiece 'Le Petit Prince'. Now, bashing Wittgenstein is not too bright either. I was clever enough to limit myself to 'young Ludwig'.

    • Ludwig Wittgenstein is famous for writing (I think at the end of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus) “Wovon Mann nicht sprechen kann, daruber muss mann schweigen” // Whereof one cannot speak, thereof he must be silent.

      Young Ludwig was good at saying things that looked impressive at first sight.

  • Preaching to the choir: reflections on Max Blumenthal's 'Goliath'
    • I didn't know Chomksy had said this, but it's significant. Note how he's describing the situation as worse than Jim Crow inside Israel proper. As far as I recall (not much of an argument that) Phil Weiss uses Jim Crow comparisons for the occupied territories.

  • The story behind the deal: Israel kept out of the loop as secret US/Iran meetings took place in Oman
    • The US were never in a position to bestow or revoke that right.

      Do you mean that as a legal statement or as an assessment of the effective power of the US? I think if the US objects they can make things pretty hard.

    • My feeling is that since the US is allowing Iranian enrichment as part of the agreement, that they know they can't revoke that right anymore with their interpretation of the NPT. But they still want to stick to that public posture.

    • Here is the document called 'Joint Plan of Action'
      link to

      And all the way at the end is the money quote:

      Following successful implementation of the final step of the comprehensive solution for its full
      duration, the Iranian nuclear programme will be treated in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear
      weapon state party to the NPT.

      I think this is why the Iranians signed off on this. In the common interpretation of the NPT this acknowledges their right to
      have nuclear energy and to be in control of fuel production for it.
      Now the US has not conceded that right yet. They're saying 'if the NPT allows control over the fuel cycle then you're allowed the same'.
      At the same time they're saying the NPT does not allow control over the fuel cycle, which is a tenuous point of view. The thing is, it now has become much harder to enforce that view upon Iran , especially now that they've treated Iran as a legitimate state in these negotiations.

  • Netanyahu's man in Geneva, Laurent Fabius of France
    • You can’t build an underground enrichment facility that goes unreported by accident. It is just B.S. to suggest otherwise.

      As I understood it the Iranians were required to declare new facilities 6 months before fissile material was to be moved in, and the existence of facility was disclosed before that. Their mistake was that they should have been more forthcoming at that stage. Under Ahmedinejad they often stuck to a less than forthcoming approach and I tend to agree with them. The idea that there's some kind of symmetry of deceit is misplaced. (Edit: i see I'm only repeating things here that have been said, and I havent' got the time to delve into this. So it can be disregarded..)

    • Hostage, Parchin is a military site that has no enrichment related activities. The IAEA insists on revisiting places where previously they've concluded there were no enrichment related activities. So I think that's yet another case, namely whether to apply the extended NPT protocol.

    • Another warmonger, liar and tool of Zionism.

      Or maybe France is just looking after its own perceived interests and the saudis and israelis are doing what they can to make it in the interest of France to align itself with them. That does not convert France into a tool - in my stubbornly bland view.

  • Natalie Portman and Woody Allen see anti-Semitism as pervasive
  • Why does Uri Avnery know so little about Palestinian citizens of Israel?
    • I have a general feeling the matter of Palestinians inside Israel is treated as a side issue, partly for strategic reasons: the case for Gaza or the Westbank is easier to make and there are more people on your side. And they're suffering most.

      But I'd like there to be a strong focus on those Palestinians who are better off because they're inside Israel and they're not Bedouin. "Look, this is what it means even in the best cases."
      Jonathan Cook's 'Blood and Religion' did a good job there. Hatim Kanaaneh may be available for elaborating on the matter. His book is mostly about the eighties. I'm eager to read Kanaaneh's pieces. Also a bit apprehensive because he has a way of evading my defenses and sneaking up on me :)

    • Hasbara Buster says: Avnery’s analogy is the height of bad faith.

      I think there is no convincing base for such an unfriendly conclusion , and because proof is merely lack of imagination I have much more imagination than you. Cook puts it very well, not going too much into the motivations, just saying that Avnery should be treated as an unreliable mentor and guide on matters relating to Palestinians inside Israel .

      Gideon Levy gives a completely different assessment about the motivations of Oz and Grossmann that they mean well but they lack courage . link to . I wonder if the pun on Oz' name was intended.
      I could use a different angle: Avnery's too nice. He's not intellectually ruthless enough. But of course holding that opinion might make it harder to advocate things that go against the interests or convictions of nice people. Maybe you're just not ruthless enough for that so you prefer to look at it as bad faith.

  • Yeshiva U panel concludes Israel and Jews face destruction from: Iran, assimilation and occupation critics
    • To turn things upside down Iran is a serious threat to Israel because the US would find Iran to be a very good ally and just much better to work with than Israel.

  • Einstein letter, on sale at Ebay, blamed Jewish terrorists for risking 'catastrophe' in Palestine
    • The clever israeli reaction would be to buy this letter, and depending on how much attention it gets, hide it, or display it prominently as proof of how much they defend democracy and freedom of expression - and that they want to make Israel even better.

  • NY panel featuring Adelson asks whether Jews can exist without Israel
    • I wonder why made the font grey rather than a dark red. Red would definitely have made the point more clearly. The font must at least reach 6.4 on the Klotz-Markov scale of font threateningness, though a bit of barbed wire around it would have been an improvement.

  • Backlash against Netanyahu: He gets 2-1/2 hours with Obama during shutdown, trying to thwart Iran opening
    • Where is this “extreme” criticism of Israel out of Pincus before this piece?

      I would never associate Pincus with extreme criticism of Israel but he has written pieces they really didn't like. This one was easy to find:

      link to

  • Netanyahu's tale of Iranian deception debunked by British diplomat
    • Peter Jenkins is a former british diplomat actually. Or is that something you get for life. Anyway he's
      not wearing his ambassador hat.
      He also talks sense generally. Or maybe always..

  • Netanyahu returns to the U.N. -- now guess the drawing!
  • Updated: Iran's president urges Obama to ignore 'warmongering pressure groups'
    • @Dickerson: Iranians are sticking their neck out. The description 'costly signal' applies. Obama on the other hand has given a speech. The actual detente may be with Europe. Rouhani has met Hollande.

    • Quite awhile back the Leverett’s wrote a fair amount about I think it was Brazil and I forget what other country offered to supply Iran with enriched uranium for their medical programs and the U.S. and Israel stood in the way of this deal. What do people remember about this?

      It was Turkey, in 2010. And it was a bit similar to the current CW situation with Syria in the sense that the US makes an empty offer that they are certain will not be acceptable to the other side, and then the other side accepts it. In the case of Turkey and Brazil the US just cancelled their offer.

  • Video: Israeli soldiers maul European diplomats, block aid delivery to Palestinian village
    • The newspaper I'm subscribed to also has put this Gaza item online:
      "Israel is allowing building materials into Gaza for the first time in 6 years. They had blocked import of building materials because they feared Hamas would use them to build tunnels and other things they could use against Israel. "
      For clarity, they're not being sarcastic, it's just a fact for them.

      There is something odd about the timing though of these looser restrictions. Israel has a finely tuned 'water and bread' regime of import restrictions, and the crackdown on the egyptian side may upset the balance, so they have to loosen up some things in compensation. It's a matter of adjusting the tuning. But I'm just guessing.

  • Opening shots fired in federal lawsuit against NYPD spying on Muslims
    • The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), formerly known as the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

      B'nai Brith? That must be Brezhoneq.
      Breiz Atao!

  • Twenty years since Oslo, US leadership has yielded endless 'process' with no 'peace' in sight
    • The Guardian has an article by Avi Shlaim link to titled
      "It's now clear: the Oslo peace accords were wrecked by Netanyahu's bad faith".

      That bothered me. Netanyahu has been an easy scapegoat for a while: we're fine, it's just Netanyahu (and his 'crowd' or whatever) that's the problem.

      But then I read the article and I think it's decent. It doesn't really match the title.

  • 'AIPAC must be kept for consensus issues only': Israeli diplomat slams Israel lobby for engaging on Syria
    • Interesting article. How about this as a future business model: AIPAC as lobby for hire, with the main client the US government , itself becoming a gun for hire.
      The bills would be huge.

  • Was Obama bluffing on Syria all along?
    • Nice one , Dickerson. But I probably disagree about causes. The propaganda model suggests there's a big gap between the media and intellectuals in general. All too often I notice that is not the case. And I was much surprised that Chomsky himself also thought the propaganda model is a smaller factor than general conformism among intellectuals. The kind of conformism that Orwells article "The Freedom of the Press" was about.
      As such events often do, this renewed my appreciation of Chomksy.

  • The Russia-Syria deal: What it means and what now?
    • Giving up the chemicals does give the US a graceful way out of the bombing campaign, but it does not suit their goals, which is to neutralize or take over Iran's ally, and to maintain the ties with the Saudis and other oil monarchies. The Saudis are wondering what use the US is to them.

      Assad's chemical weapons are of no advantage to him in this war, and losing them does not weaken him. So he gets the US off his back(at least openly) and keeps the military advantage on the ground. So the US lose but get a nice trophy to hide it.

  • Chomsky: Israel and US enjoying the spectacle as Syria descends into suicide
    • and everyone knows it

      I don't know it. Which confirms that I'm not everyone. I'm sure the Saudis and Qatar were ready to pounce though, and that the regime anticipated that and reacted violently because of the external interference that they thought was already there or would be there soon enough.
      But I don't like to dismiss the sincerity of people inside Syria wanting serious reform. I remember this video at JSF a year and a half ago and thought Simon Assaf was pretty sharp link to

    • @Kalithea : the picture is actually already much clearer than that. The intel people are leaking information through different channels. The CIA is fairly certain Assad did nothing because they monitor the CW and nothing had been moved to their knowledge. It's always possible, but there is lack of motive and there are no indications. Therefore there's no real reason for suspicion.
      The thing that is very doubtful however is whether sarin was used. If it was used, it was only a small part of the gas attack. 10% of the people with symptoms died. With sarin either you don't have symptoms or you're dead.
      Gareth Porter has a good report at antiwar. link to and link to

    • Congress is reading The Hill now, re Syrian offer to give up its chemical weapons: link to

      The Russians proposed it, and it might actually be a russian idea.

      The attractive thing about that offer is, the US needs a way out, and this offer would give them that. The alternative way out would be a very brief attack.

  • 'There's no stupider reason to go to war than fear that people will think you are weak' -- Chris Hayes
    • Thanks Hostage, thoroughly documented as usual :) I thought maybe the report was confidential. Interesting to see that the Assad regime was the first to file a request march 20.

      In any case the impression I got was that the russians did a good job but nothing came of it, so they now push the report publicly. They're also claiming their input is not taken seriously. Well , ironically all this was reported concisely in my newspaper as "the russians insinuate that rebels used chemical weapons and they also say that their input is being ignored".

    • Does anyone know where to find the actual report the Russians gave the UN about the Khan al-Assal attack in march? Russia now released details about it (link to but the report was delivered in july.

  • AIPAC comes out for strike on Syria-- and mentions Iran more often than Syria
    • I want to add something about the Saudis. There's an important interview with Chas Freeman at lobelog about the tensions between Us and saudis: link to

      Now it's interesting that the US is more or less in support of democratic movements, especially in Egypt. I think that is because they think the major polarisation is Sunni/Shia while a more important polarisation is autocratic/democratic. Iran is in the democratic camp, the oil monarchies are in the autocratic camp. Let's say the US is a bit confused.

    • It's worse. I think the chemical weapons incident was very likely a black flag operation by Al Nusra. But as with the Iraq case, even if the chemical weapons story was false, it turns out that for many pro-war groups that wasn't a major factor after all.

      (my hobby: ruining people's metaphors :)

    • Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) have prepared a joint resolution that is supposed to be a lot easier to swallow than Obama's proposal.
      link to
      A limit of 60 days of assaults with maximum 30 days extension. There's an awful lot that can be bombed in 60 days. Numbers like that are not about a punitive action, they're about seriously degrading the regime's power so that the balance tips in favor of rebel ground forces . It's a resolution stops just short of regime change - for now. Libya was 6 months in all. So maybe AIPAC doesn't want regime change, just that the fight goes on? The Saudi's are clear about regime change.

      This stuff is really worrying. It's Crocodile Dundee saying "You call this a mess? THIS is a mess!"
      And it bothers me that everyone is pointing at AIPAC. People don't pay enough attention to Saudi Arabia. The Taliban were a Saudi project too. They're propping up Salafis everywhere.

      What are the Saudi plans with the 'trusted' ground forces that are being prepared in Jordania. link to . Taking over the chemical weapons sites?

  • Kerry's rationale to attack Syria could have also justified attack on Israel over Gaza
    • [Dickerson:]TAKE ACTION! ! ! TAKE ACTION! ! ! TAKE ACTION! ! !

      Reminds me of Chas Freeman put it : "Don't just sit there, bomb something! link to
      But then this is "don't just bomb something!"

    • I saw Obama earlier use the approach of 'holding Assad responsible' (I don't have a link) which was surprising. It reminded me of how Israel holds Hamas responsible for anything that happens in Sinai. It doesn't mean they accuse Hamas of being behind attacks from Sinai or Gaza , although they can be vague about that.

      Since then Obama has become much more explicit. The highest estimate for the death toll is used. The highest responsibility for Assad is assumed. I don't think it means that's what Obama's team wanted to do all along, just that they now think they're better off by doing something. I call that damage control.

      Meanwhile there's a lot of people pushing for doing more. Either they're hoping for bringing more balance to the conflict so that it can drag on much longer.
      Or they're hoping to overthrow Assad. But even if things don't escalate, the idea that the US' standing will improve if they bomb Assad is doubtful. Assad may well decide to retaliate asymmetrically: by doing nothing and by just asserting his valiant resistance against the foreign attackers, including Obama who claimed Assad had to go.

  • No one knows what Obama stands for
    • I could give a more positive slant to that. He can also regard himself as a consensus figure. A facilitator rather than a leader. So that you get more a type of collective decisionmaking. He'll put his stamp on the decision process but it's more a group thing. Speculative.

  • Jeffrey Goldberg assails NYT's David Kirkpatrick for describing Israeli attitude as 'ugly'
    • Yeah, philosophers. Eeuuuww! Playing solemn word games and writing academical texts that discuss other texts that discuss other texts... Oh wait, that's not what you mean :)

  • Critics of Obama's narrow action cite Martin Dempsey's caution -- 'act of war'
    • I could divide the chemical weapons incident in two parts: who did it and how to react.

      Who did it:
      The argument for the rebels could be that after Assad got the upper hand in the conflict it became much more attractive to try and pull the US into the conflict. The US has put itself into a weak position by drawing red lines. Which leads to the obvious 'Al Nusra got their chemical weapons from Libya and/or from Saudi backers'.
      The point of view of Assad would then be that he's got the advantage anyway and doesn't want to upset outside players, neither the US nor Russia. He needs Russia.

      The case for Assad could be that while he has the advantage it's not as if he's going to win any time soon. Now if he can use chemical weapons and get away with it it would assert his dominance in the conflict, making clear to the rebels that they can't count on outside help so they'd better give up. The actual military advantage is doubtful, but there's the terror effect on the population. The next ultimatum on a city under rebel control would start sounding a lot more convincing.

      What to do about it. Is the aim to stop Assad from winning, is it to make him lose, or is it to stop him from using chemical weapons? It's been proven that Assad's side used chemical weapons , can you live with the idea that he'll be using them to conquer Aleppo ? I don't mean to convince people about intervening, just trying to avoid embellishing things.

  • Egyptians rally in DC for General Sisi, rattling off conspiracy theories recycled from Islamophobes
    • with Christians blaming Islamist mobs for the violence.

      Well that is pretty well plausible. No need to set up black flag operations there.
      I haven't read about any of the remaining MB leadership trying to stop or of the army protecting the Copts. But it might happen.

    • It's clear that these people are actually undercover Muslim Brotherhood people who infiltrated Pro-military demonstrators in DC in order to say stupid things and make them look silly ( link to ) .

      Now that I think about it, this site is also full of undercover antisemitic antizionists who masquerade as sociopathic zionists in order to make Israel look bad.

      To be a bit more fair... I'm sure there's plenty of stupid convictions to go around on all sides , and I'm not really tempted to judge people on it. But one can observe.

  • Chas Freeman: Kerry's talks leave out 4 of 5 Palestinians
    • Morocco did NOT expel its Jews.

      In fact Moroccan economy was doing badly at the time and everyone left, including the Jews. Many Moroccans came to Belgium and France.

      I don't think 'The Jews left Iraq against the will of the Iraqis' would describe the situation very well. It was more muddled and corrupt.

      One description that I never see mentioned in this context is that 1948 was a postwar situation. That means much better than during the war but generally still not safe and stable and suitable for migrating.

  • Egyptian massacre exposes US hypocrisy in Israel and Palestine
    • Jim Lobe has an interesting piece on the deterioration of US-Saudi ties link to

      There's an awareness now of an alarming deterioration of US influence.

      Now in Egypt the events are not only homegrown. The economy is in deep trouble and who controls the money is important. Who gets the foreign money gets to run the country - to some extent. The Saudis and other oil monarchies are putting up that money.

      There's another component and I mention it to contrast it to the models of religion-based tensions (in Belgium that's all there is). Compare Egypt to Venezuela: a large part of the community is very poor. As soon as they get one man-one vote the poor get to run the country, but without the money to match. You instantly get opposition from the rich, who tend to control the main media, and a lot of tension with the middle class. Also, the voices of the poor are invisible but the middle class is visible so you get an instant impression of a dictatorship: an impopular minority running the place.

      So in Egypt the islamist parties roughly represent the poor, and for the middleclass that is not a nice position to be in. If then the economy tanks, and with some good campaigning and sabotage(electricity and gasoline have been deliberately withheld), they can be tempted to choose for a dictatorship that gets good money from the outside.

  • British government forced Guardian to smash hard drives with Snowden files
  • Manning's attorney calls on Obama to pardon him
    • The biggest mistake the msm made was not them condemning Manning. It was shifting the attention from the leaks to the leaker. It's about managing focus.

      [edit] there's a recent post about NPR and trivia subjects. It's a similar message: what shall we be looking at.

    • I have to keep putting quotes around that word

      I wouldn't do that. It's like those other words with a positive bias that cause people to claim "he's not really intelligent," "it's not really art", "it's not really democratic" when they start finding faults. Better to accept these people as liberal without them having to conform to your standard of perfection, or without them having to be liberal in everything or in things that concern you most.

      Highly intelligent people can do very stupid things. Better to resist adapting the definition of intelligence in an attempt to keep its aura.

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