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  • Over one quarter of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress consisted of applause and standing ovations
    • Nancy with Net. before Speechgate:
      link to cdn1.vox-cdn.com

      Says a lot.

    • Good article, Ben.

      27% of the speech was applause with 50% of the ending section being applause? I didn't realize how much the political theatre involved was similar to that in Stalin's speeches.

    • I didnt realize there were so many speakers of Russian on this blog.

      You can see him getting annoyed at the end

    • Lysias,

      One thing I noticed is that the Congresspeople clapped for Netanyahu immediately after he declared that Iran had taken over capitols, and in fact this was after a long passage, in the middle of his speech, describing Iran in very dark terms. As a purely rhetorically issue, this was not a place in the speech where one would rationally clap. It's worse than laughing long before the punch line in a joke.

      In contrast, if Stalin said that Iran was a bad threatening place for the Soviet Union, then his people would not, I assume, clap at that moment in the speech. But in Netanyahu's case they did. So in Netanyahu's speech it means they are just clapping for anything, not even if it is rational.

    • Lysias,

      Typically the word in that context would be "Hvatit".

      Etymologically Hvatit means to catch something, I think. But anyway, it's used in speech as a command to tell someone that they had enough of something that is now annoying and to stop doing it.

      ....

      ...

      Looks like I was right.

    • "“The most depressing part of it was that there was not a single lawmaker – Republican or Democrat – who dared to resist.”

      But is that true? Didnt Feinstein say that she wasnt going to be jumping up and down?

  • Factchecking Netanyahu: An annotated guide to the Israeli P.M.'s speech to Congress
    • In a discussion I had on this topic, the other person replied that this is still not direct evidence for my claim of collusion.

      Perhaps the Israelis made a "miscalculation" in judging the strength of ISIS, or perhaps the Israelis are not supporting the attacks on Assad so greatly that he will fall to ISIS, etc. For them it came down to lack of evidence for the claim of Israeli support for ISIS.

      (Some Muslims BTW claim there is a direct link between ISIS and the Israelis nonetheless).

    • They would just deny that they support the ISIS headchoppers. They just supply humanitarian assistance to the "moderate rebels" (apparently that means Nusra).

    • So do we get to cash in on that betting game sponsored on MW. I called something right:

      IIRC, Phil predicted that Netanyahu would cancel the speech to avoid conflicting Obama. Phil was once more overoptimistic and overestimated them, unfortunately. Sorry, Phil.

    • At this point, you have to realize that the Congress would applaud for him for WHATEVER he says to characterize Iran.

      He could say: "Our researchers have found that Iran was with OBL and did 911."
      And he would get applause. Once anti-Iranian congressmen are clapping for Iran dominating capitols, practically anything is possible, even logically incoherent statements.

    • NETANYAHU: In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran's aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow. So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.

      (FULL CONGRESSIONAL APPLAUSE)

      OK, so exactly which part of that statement were the Congress applauding?
      1. Iran dominating capitols?
      Or
      2. Iran gobbling up nations when many hope it will join the global community?

      Or are they just clapping for whatever comes out of his mouth like he was a pachinko machine?

    • I read that Obama got more ovations here: link to washingtonpost.com (claiming Netan. got only 22)

      But elsewhere I heard that Netanyahu got about the same amount. What is the right answer?

    • By the way, those were 25 standing ovations.

      Remember that part where Feinstein said:

      Feinstein: I'll Be at Netanyahu Speech — But I Won't Be 'Jumping Up and Down'
      (Source: National Review Online‎)

      Well, was she?

    • 42 times it says applause here.

      A record?

  • Pelosi blasts Netanyahu speech as 'insult to intelligence of U.S.', Amanpour calls it 'dark, Strangelovian'
    • link to nymag.com
      Tears of joy, Nancy, tears of joy.

      I feel bad for her. She is being forced to clap for something she disagrees with, and she is the House Minority leader, so theoretically, she has the legal right to stop it.

    • Charlie Rangel changes course, attends Netanyahu speech
      New York Daily News
      Charles Rangel (D-NY) until Tuesday morning had been strongly opposed to Benjamin Netanyahu's speech

      So, you think you get a say in whether you go to Netanyahu's speech, Mr. Rangel? I think not.

  • Thanks to Netanyahu, Israel support turns into a political football
    • "He has to address the rift. How in the hell can he address this rift with out looking like a back stabber and warmonger that he is?"
      Why can't he just say anything he wants to? Feinstein and Durbin are coming apparently, even after he snubbed them.

      Maybe he will look bad you think. OK, look bad to whom? To Jennifer Rubin and the Mideast desk at the NY Times? To Feinstein? And what is she going to do? To 90% of democratic activists and delegates? Maybe you are one of the 90% or more of Americans who didn't notice this:

    • Yepppppppp

      Downside is that a couple legislators foolishly abandoned the amazing opportunity to celebrate world boxing champ Net--an--ya--hu!
      Maybe if Netanyahu actually had a close election race at home and a bigger liberal public there he would be more careful.

    • Part of it is the issue. Dems are on board with Obama on the Iran issue, as are much of AIPAC's base.

      If the issue were human rights for Palestinians, then it would be tougher because the lobby's hardcore supporters are more intense about that issue than about a mere "deal" with Iran, which won't get nukes soon regardless of a deal or not. And after all, how can you support human rights for Palestinians if they "don't exist"?

  • White House says Netanyahu offers no alternative but military action (and Liz Warren won't say if she's attending speech)
    • Flashback to 2011:

      link to youtube.com
      The speech by Netanyahu "had all the trappings of a state of the Union address by a US president with soaring approval ratings."
      Netanyahu got 29 ovations, Obama got only 25 before Congress.
      Ex-US Senator Gravel says Netanyahu is stronger than Obama on Mideast policy because of Aipac. Netanyahu comes to town and upbraids the president saying that what Obama wants won't happen.

  • AIPAC and Bill Kristol turn up the pressure
  • Right-wing bomb thrower David Horowitz behind anti-SJP posters
    • Let’s remember in the lead up to the Holocaust the Jewish councils in Eastern Europe organized the ghettos. They got everybody’s name so it would be easy for the Germans to exterminate them. Of course, they didn’t believe they would be exterminated.

      Isn't this the kind of thing that Greta Berlin got in trouble for re-tweeting?
      link to electronicintifada.net
      link to mondoweiss.net

  • Netanyahu speech is 'destructive' of 'bipartisan, immutable relationship' between US and Israel, Rice says
    • Trapped Democrats Can't Decide on Netanyahu Speech

      for the more than 15,000 Aipac volunteers who will descend on the capital. Congressional staffers working on the issue say they expect the volunteers will ask lawmakers to co-sponsor the Kirk-Menendez bill on Iran sanctions, which Obama says he will veto, but will not press for a vote before the March 24 deadline for a political framework to come out of the Geneva talks.
      link to bloombergview.com

      According to Chomsky, the Israeli lobby is "one of the smaller lobbies."

      Do you realize how much lobbying power 15,000 lobbyists is? That is the size of a large university population. Some "major" Christian peace groups can put together a few hundred volunteers for a conference.

    • How much more obeisant can US officials appear, beyond the unanimous 28 standing ovations to a full joint session?

      Walking to an enthroned foreign dignatory on the knees, kissing toes, and laying prostrate is no longer very "PC". But we still have politically obilgatory "pilgrimages", in one of the most recent of which Obama laid a wreath for Herzl. What do you think? Or is this a sensitive topic, wherein criticizing some signs of respect could be considered anti-semitism?

  • Israel's new Asian allies
    • Cloak,

      It sounds like you have a lot of first hand knowledge from traveling to China, and it sounds quite newsworthy, because you said that it keeps on giving. It's quite new for me as well. Do you think you might consider writing an essay for Mondoweiss or a similar site on this topic? To make it more relevant, you might consider relating it to the Middle East today.

    • Was that actually an openly Jewish lobby in China and Britain on the Opium trade?

    • If China fights for the Israelis at the UN, what will China get in return? More arms contracts? It is already getting them. China will get a lot of flak from Muslims (20-30% of the world) instead. China doesn't need that.

    • Good point. China and India are not going to have a domestic pro-Israeli lobby, with all it entails- Christian Zios, pro-Israeli religious summer camps, etc.

    • China isn't going to veto UN resolutions against the rest of the world, including Russia, on behalf of the Israeli State. China is cautious in world policy. Israel would have to be like North Korea, Nepal, Vietnam, or some other country with super-close relations before it would do that.

  • The 15 billion dollar deal that will make or break Israel's regional hegemony
  • Racism is in the air: Video showing racist exchange between Israelis and a flight attendant goes viral
    • Then I realized it was an Israeli family.

    • One time I was on an international flight and the boy and his Mom behind sitting me were having an issue. The mother scolded him and the boy cried repeatedly in English to stop hitting him. I turned around and told her "You don't have to hit kids". She fired back that she did not him, and I felt extremely embarrassed in front of the other passengers sitting right next to me. Then she scolded him really really harshly in Israeli Hebrew, and he didn't say anything after that.

  • 'Large group' of indigenous Indians are cleared to immigrate to Israel and convert to Judaism
    • Ben Menashe
      Wikipedia

      Prior to their conversion to Christianity by Baptist missionaries in the 19th century, the Chin, Kuki, and Mizo followed animism and practiced ritual headhunting... The various tribes speak languages that are branches of Tibeto-Burman.

      A total of 350 genetic samples were tested at Haifa's Technion – Israel Institute of Technology under the auspices of Prof. Karl Skorecki. According to the late Mizo research scholar Isaac Hmar Intoate, who was involved with the project, researchers found no genetic evidence of a Middle-Eastern origin for the Mizo-Chin-Kuki.

      In December 2004, Kolkata's Central Forensic Science Laboratory posted a paper at Genome Biology on the Internet. They tested a total of 414 people from tribal communities of Mizoram (Hmar, Kuki, Mara, Lai and Lusei). They found no evidence among the men of Y-DNA haplotypes indicating Middle Eastern origin; rather, the haplotypes were of East and Southeast Asian origin.[25]

      BBC News reported, "[T]he Central Forensic Institute in Calcutta suggests that while the masculine side of the tribes bears no links to Israel, the feminine side suggests a genetic profile with Middle Eastern people that may have arisen through inter-marriage".

      OK, so they may be partly Middle Eastern on the mother's side, butthat doesn'tt mean they are Jewish.

      The far more obvious answer is that the Lost Tribes were absorbed into the neighboring countries like Syria and Iraq. Doesn't the Bible even say that? Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin.

  • Is flying a nationalist flag ever a progressive act?
    • There is a trend among certain, typically non-Palestinian, left activists and socialists that the Palestinian cause of equality and freedom is not per se is important, rather it is economic freedom that is the real issue. This is represented by groups like the Trotskyist "Workers' Liberty" IIRC and the J 14 protests a few years ago in Tel Aviv.

      The author here is right about class conflicts among Palestinians, collaboration by the PA, and other problems. If Palestine gets independence and solves its political problems of Hamas and the Israelis, it would look like a state such as Turkey, Armenia, Egypt, Cyprus, etc. And the author would be right to complain that it would be ccapitalist and have class problems like those countries.

      Nonetheless, the problem with those leftists who marginalize Palestinians' national and civic rights by instead speaking in favor of economic rights and equality as the focus is that they do a disservice to the latter political rights. To suggest as some do that political rights for equality are so secondary leaves the issues unresolved until the time, which at this moment appears far off, when such economic rights will first be respected.

      Let's give an example. At the J 14 protests, calls for Palestinian rights, and the whole Palestinian issue, were basically put aside by the organizers, because it could be "divisive". The "Workers Liberty" group proposes first having a socialist revolution with united Jewish and Palestinian workers before fixing Palestinians' national rights. However the idea that a socialist government would necessarily resolve the national conflict is belied by the fact that Israel did have a Labor government in the 1950's with accompanying socialist elements like the kibbutzes and mass trade union economy and nationalization of land. Yet it was exactly at in that era that the Nakba occurred (2 years earlier, in 1948).

      The fact is that Israeli-Palestinian society suffers from bot just a class conflict, but one of nationalist oppression too, and merely dedicating the main society in power to socialism doesn't fix things, because Palestinians can simply be left out in the cold. Were the Histradrut and its working class membership interested in helping Palestinians? The fact is that both struggles, the national struggle and the one for economic rights must be recognized. In parting, I find it noteworthy that it is non-Palestinians who more frequently look at the conflict and say that the national one for Palestinian rights is not particularly important and should be delayed until economic rights are achieved.

    • "for Palestine and the Palestinians anything and everything.”

      I didn't take that literally, Stephen, because that would be absurd.

      I think he means that they should have any and every of their full rights as a nation and as a nationalist activist: flag, equality, language, protests, etc.

    • Ellen,

      You also asked: "So is there a difference when the members of a colonized or oppressed people wave their flag?"
      Of course, since their flag or society is not oppressing another one.

      You write: "The implication is that all members of the nation stand together and have the same interest in opposing the oppressor power."
      Just because someone has a Palestinian flag doesn't mean they "stand with" Hamas in its tactics, even if they both want a Palestinian state.

      This is incorrect: "The strategy that flows from this analysis is that first there will be a struggle for national liberation and internal problems will be dealt with later."
      Just because two groups have a goal doesn't mean they only deal with internal problems later. Why would you think that?

      You ask:

      hus I have my problem with flying the flag of any nation in the world today, even the Palestinian one. Is it supporting developers and profiteers, who collude with their Israeli counterparts? Is it supporting the PA and their police? Is it saying, don’t worry, we’ll deal with them later? Most importantly, is it implying that ordinary Palestinian workers, students, farmers and professionals have more in common with these exploiters and enforcers than they do with other workers in the rest of the world?

      I don't see how supporting Palestinian sovereignty or flying a Palestinian flag must mean any of those things.

      You contradicted yourself here:

      An examination of liberation movements of the last century reveals that this nationalist thinking has dominated struggle in many countries and has yet to lead to significant betterment of the lives of ordinary citizens... Overt apartheid-like regulations may have disappeared, but class distinctions have not.

      If people are not living under Apartheid law, isn't that a "significant betterment".
      Maybe blacks were just as badly off before and after desegregation in the US, but would you claim that the end of Segregation was not a significant improvement? Aren't political rights and freedom from racist, theocratically discriminatory rule important?

      Also, you are mistaken here:
      "What is the alternative to waving the nationalist flag, the banner of the ruling class of whatever nation?"
      A nationalist flag is not necessarily the banner of its ruling class in particular. It is simply the nation's flag, representing the nation as a whole, even if it were not ruled by capitalism. When Cuba for example had a Socialist revolution, it did not get rid of its flag from its capitalist era. Different nations, whether capitalist or not, have different national flags, and to fly them doesn't mean one supports a certain economic system.

    • Ellen,

      Your question is:
      Is flying a nationalist flag ever a progressive act?
      Certainly it can be. Self-determination of peoples, along with anti-colonialism, is a major principle in progressive politics. An Irish flag at a protest in the 19th century, or an Indian flag in the early 20th, would have a progressive meaning for the freedom of those nations from British rule. In fact, if Jews and Palestinians were clearly two different nations, and were Palestine's Jews being ghettoized and abused by an explicitly non-Jewish Palestinian government and army, then an Israeli flag at such a march would be progressive.

      In the case at hand, Palestinians make up a native nation that includes Jews living on the land before the Israeli State's creation. Currently, Christians and Muslims do not have a really sovereign state there that represents them. They are considered second class. To promote instead the idea of a Palestinian state dedicated to their nation regardless of religion is progressive. Of course, it can also be admitted that this does not mean that a "Palestinian state" is the only "progressive" outcome- one could have a progressive one state or two state outcome.

      Having a Palestinian flag does not mean one supports the "destruction" of the Israeli state or supports a strict theocracy like Hamas or even all the tactics of the PLO or policies of the PA. It simply means that one supports the progressive goal of sovereignty for the occupied Palestinian nation.

      Again, I don't believe that one has to agree with a Palestinian state to be progressive (there are other options), but nonetheless, it is so obvious that Palestinian sovereignty is progressive at this stage that I seriously question why other "progressives" would propose otherwise.

    • I always have a problem if I go to a protest in the U.S. against war, injustice or workplace abuses and see some demonstrators waving the American flag. There is no doubt what that flag stands for – the American political system, with its false promises of democracy and equality and its proclivity for war.

      I think it depends on the context. If Mexican Americans march for their rights and fly a US flag, reminding people that they are Americans and should have full rights, perhaps it is a good thing.

      If one of the arguments of the flag wavers is that US wars abroad are unconstitutional, perhaps the flag waving is not even reactionary.

      But yes, I understand how at an antiwar rally it seems contradictory to have a US flag in prominence if the US is the aggressor.

  • In Their Own Words: Four residents of Yarmouk speak
    • If that's all the Left Opposition is - coffee shops, it would be sad. That would not be a serious opposition. Why don't more people ask the Leftist supporters of The Revolution there what kind of numbers the moderate forces have on the ground and exactly how democratic and moderate they are? That has got to be the key question not enough people are discussing. It's like people just throw out "pro-democracy" or "anti-Jihad" generalizations without giving exact details on force sizes and politics.

      I just checked out about the new FSA commander, who received Israeli training:
      CounterPunch says: . The FSA military leader, General Abdul-Ilah al Bashir, who defected from the Syrian government side in 2012, said in an interview with the McClatchy news agency last week that the CIA had taken over direction of this new moderate force. He said that “the leadership of the FSA is American”, adding that since last December US supplies of equipment have bypassed the FSA leadership in Turkey and been sent directly to up to 14 commanders in northern Syria and 60 smaller groups in the south of the country. Gen Bashir said that all these FSA groups reported directly to the CIA. Other FSA commanders confirmed that the US is equipping them with training and weapons including TOW anti-tank missiles.
      link to counterpunch.org
      So if it's US special forced-run, then it's pro-democracy, moderate/secular, and that's good, right? Or are pro-democracy Leftists not supposed to talk much about such a strong US role either?

      Israel Support to Al Qaeda Rebels: New Free Syrian Army (FSA) Commander Trained in Israel
      link to globalresearch.ca

      I liked this brief analysis by Michael Beer of the US-Based, Palestinian-founded NONVIOLENCE INTERNATIONAL, which I suspect has had connections to the real nonviolent groups in the Arab Spring:
      link to accuracy.org

    • Walid,

      Maybe you are not supposed to know about this Paris meeting. It sounds like some weird off-screen politicking.

      It's strange to hear about the MBs wanting to cooperate so much with the Israelis, especially since the Israelis are crushing Gaza, which is run by the MBs.

      I am aware of the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" strategy, but it's still somewhat strange that Israelis would pick anti-Israeli fundies as their ally of choice in Syria. I mean, if Syria goes Fundy, that could mean more threats for the Israelis, right?

      Also, a related question is why the US supported certain forces in Egypt. Why did some US forces support overthrowing the dictator Mubarak and replacing him with the conservative religious MB? And then on top of that, were the US next in favor of Sisi overthrowing the Egyptian MB?

    • I think to counter them, you would have to go through and list each of the major opposition groups and how many forces they control and how moderate they are. It's like the backers of the moderate forces and their opponents are in alternate realities. My guess is that the major moderate forces on the ground are about as democratic as Assad's own, which is not very, and that Assad being secular is safer for the country's minorities. I also think that Assad has more popularity than his opponents give him credit for. However I am still looking for clearer answers. It's frustrating that the ardent left wing supporters of the "revolution" can not give any estimates for the militant forces that they consider moderate and democratic. And instead some just become hostile and vague when you try to get more information.

    • It's frustrating, because the burden is on the backers of the "moderate" forces to show how moderate they are and how many forces they command on the ground.

    • Bandolero,

      It sounds like you are familiar with key figures in the "moderate" opposition. I suppose that their opponents would claim that either you have left out the "good" moderate forces from your descriptions, or that you have unfairly portrayed them.

      I would point out that you are right that the green area is a small portion, but their supporters could reply that those areas are highly populated and thus more important.

    • My main difficulty is that neither the pro-democracy forces intensely supporting nor those opposing the non-ISIS, non-Nusra rebels have widely and clearly shown what portion of those rebels are really moderate or secular, nor how "moderate or secular" those rebels are.

      Other neutral, pro-democracy supporters have commented this as well, saying that they don't really know who those forces on the ground are.

      The groups on the two SNCs and in the FSA sound very good with names like "democratic", but it could be like Annie and you said that those do not represent barely any forces on the ground. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or in Gaza I would consider Center-Right religious parties, at least from what we have seen from them. And so I could imagine them being somewhat democratic in Syria. But I have heard from one or more Arab Christians that in Syria the MB are much more right wing than in Gaza or Egypt.

      I really dislike it when people ban you as an "Assadist" for emphasizing these kinds of major, vital questions.

    • Bandolero,

      A progressive argument would have to claim that Syrian forces against Assad include a major contingent, making up perhaps half or a third of the opposition, that is non-fundamentalist. After all, if only 5% of the revolution were moderate, what would be the point of supporting it, if their rule were to make things far worse and stifle democracy even further?

      In the Wikipedia article on the Syrian Opposition, it does list many parties that are secular or moderate. However, perhaps those secular democratic forces might not represent many fighters on the ground? link to en.wikipedia.org

      The Wikipedia article also lists the Muslim Brotherhood. However are those in Syria as moderate as the ones in Egypt were? The article also shows that non-Nusra, non-ISIS, non-Assad forces control large swathes of Syria. But of course there may be other fundamentalists besides the first two of those.

    • Page: 40
    • Achcar writes about Syria:

      There is still a potential for a democratic and progressive movement to manifest itself again, as it did in the first year and beyond of the uprising. This movement is still there. The Syrian population is definitely not seduced by the prescriptions of the fundamentalist forces.

      There can also be major defeats and reactionary setbacks, if not historical regressions, but the key point is that the process is ongoing for now, and it’s a time for action, for organization, and for political and strategic clarification.

      So many observers from afar merely reflect the most recent developments and speak of them as if they represent the final outcome. It is essential to resist this impulse, engage with the process as it unfolds and strive to steer it toward progressive outcomes.

      So how do you see steering the process now to a progressive outcome?

    • It seems to me that the rebels in Libya and Syria have shown themselves to have so many fundamentalists that it discredits them. But apparently there are some American radicals like Blumenthal and Achcar who have researched the topic much better than I have and came to the opposite conclusion, and think that there are serious "moderates" among the rebels? I am having a hard time knowing with much certainty (A) what percent off the non-Nusra, non-ISIS rebels are "moderate" and (B) what is the thinking behind non-imperialist leftists like Blumenthal who put all their support behind what they see as large numbers of "moderate" rebels and see Assad as their main target?

    • Bandolero and Walid,

      Thanks for your answers. One person I have in mind is Gilbert Achcar, a leading Marxist intellectual. It seems to me that his argument is that dictators should be overthrown and peoples' rights protected. So if a dictator is in power and fundamentalists are fighting him, then people should fight the dictator because he is in power, and they should also oppose the fundamentalists.

      Certainly though the FSA and rebels are in power over much of Syria already, and I am very skeptical about how moderate the non-ISIS, non-Nusra forces are. If there are not many real moderates among those moderate rebels, then I think Achcar has a blind spot to that effect. To advocate for those 1000 "good liberal" rebels effectively means supporting whomever they are allied with, in this case the fundamentalists.

      If in fact as you claim there are no real forces of moderate rebels of any serious size, then one cannot really choose one "side" or the other in that war.

    • Walid, Just, Bandolero,

      I think that Norman Finkelstein knows more about this than he is saying. A few months before the revolution in Tunisia, Norman said in an interview that the US was going to launch a new massive campaign to take over the Middle East, following what had happened in Iraq. I clearly remember him saying that it would start in Tunisia, and I thought that this was weird, because Tunisia had fine relations with the US and a pro-western government. And yet what we saw not long afterwards was in fact a campaign of regime change starting in Tunisia. I regret that I cannot find where Finkelstein said this.

    • Bandolera,

      So in your opinion, why are some (ie. a minority of?) Marxists or other radical leftists emphasizing the idea of moderate rebels overthrowing Assad, if as you suggest there are few rebels now who are fighting Assad and are actually moderate?

      Are they super-naive who prefer to believe what other radical leftists say when it accords with US media views on regime change, or shills? I mean, Max Blumenthal accepts the view of moderate rebels overthrowing Assad, right? Granted, he is not necessarily Marxist, and his Dad worked for Clinton. So maybe he is naive, and those co-thinkers who are Marxist follow in the same vein?

      Or instead, do they see the FSA coalition as representing non-authoritarian people enough, and Assad as bad enough, that it is better if the FSA coalition takes over? Or do they see a small kernel in the FSA coalition that is pure enough that it is better to support over any other forces it is fighting?

      So if the FSA has 1000 people who are secular and moderate democrats and have a theoretical chance at control in a coalition government, then it's better to support them over Assad's dictatorship in which they don't get a say?

    • Bandolero,

      Who knows the real story. The most you can say is that they might not be representative of the original population of the camp, since maybe 90% of them already fled. Those who stayed in the camp under Nusra control might be those who are more likely to oppose the government. My impression is that both sides have been harsh to the camp.

    • " This “color revolution” did not go according to the neocon/neolib blueprint from the beginning."
      Rusty,

      I you go read the Clean Break Document, the plan was not necessarily to have Muslim fundamentalists dangerously take over Syria right on Israel's border. Instead, it talks about using proxy forces to create a lot of trouble for Syria, which is what has happened.

  • My invitation to speak at Hebrew Union College
    • I know. He didn't say "Jews are wealthy" or some other generalization. His position was that if the Israeli state abuses people, then it risks backfiring and creating unnecessary prejudice, which he opposes. Isn't that like saying that if Russia or Poland persecuted their own national or religious minorities, then some people could, incorrectly, become anti-Russian or anti-Polish?

      If that were true and Rev. Shipman were right, then it would imply that those policies that those governments support lead to or increase counterproductive prejudice. In return, those policies' supporters could counterargue that the prejudice resulting from it was an unfortunate side effect of "good"policies. This to some extent would undermine the purpose of those policies, which is to provide security. The other counterargument they could make is that the martial policies are not really harmful to those they are directed against. But that is an even harder argument to make. The "problem" was that Shipman was getting into two very sensitive topics- Israeli policies and anti-semitism, and implied a very forceful argument against the former's policies without approving of prejudice.

  • How a Washington state teacher is bringing Palestine into high school classrooms
    • A Danish company made a role playing simulation computer game for classroom use called "Global Conflicts Palestine". I would highly recommend it for anyone who is open to playing computer games. Online, you can play for free a demo that includes the level on Israeli checkpoints. To order the game, you have to contact the company and they will ship it to you. Again, I highly recommend it, as it gives you a personal feeling of what it is like to be there.

      Another level, that comes with the game, involves settlements and a village. In the game, the settlers and Palestinians both accuse each other of dumping tons of trash on the Palestinian village, although if you look closely, you can figure out what is really happening.

      FREE DEMO:
      link to download.cnet.com

      GAME:
      link to shop.seriousgames.net

  • US and Israel divorce rumors over Iran
    • I think that what Netanyahu has lost is that Leahy, Biden, and a few other politicians skipped his speech, marking a moment of publicly noticeable disagreement between some noteworthy legislators and the Israeli government. Also, the incident makes it less likely that Netanyahu's Iran legislation in the US legislature will pass with enough Democrat support.

      What Netanyahu might win though is that he might still get his packed legislature with about 30 standing ovations from everybody all over again for whatever he says, this time the focus being his opposition to Obama's Iran negotiations. So he could probably "win" the US legislature's overt clapping and "celebration" of his talking points on the question, making himself look like he gets far more bipartisan support from the US legislature than America's own president does.

  • Netanyahu calls on Jews to leave Europe en masse in wake of Copenhagen synagogue attack
  • A place where Palestine doesn't exist (Notes from a Zionist education)
    • Annie,
      It was neat to read your words that:
      "my great-grandfather (a preacher) went to palestine and wrote about it in his memoirs."
      It would be exciting to hear more about that.

      Maybe you could even write an essay with excerpts from it, talking about how times have changed or about how his trip conflicted with "Orientalism" or other prejudices.

      You made good points too about how the sites and events that occurred in the Holy Land are important for Christianity. It's also common for Christians of all denominations to make a pilgrimage once in a lifetime or more to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. On the other hand, there are those in Reform Judaism- and it may be the prevalent view- that see Biblical "Redemption" and "Salvation" not in terms of salvation from sin and death, but rather as a national political liberation. Perhaps this might lead to a stronger emphasis on nationalism and modern politics.

    • Personally, I think that Palestinian churches should have more classes on Palestine because it's their culture and religious background like you described. But I don't think that they should go overboard with it like making modern politics a key religious doctrine, waking kids up for army drills at a church camp, etc.

    • Dear Accentitude,

      Thank you for writing! It is nice to hear about how Palestine played a big role in your views and background, and it's neat to hear that your family came from the Biblical Ephraim. Do you live in California? They have more Palestinian and Arab churches there than here on the East Coast, and perhaps things are different there.

      Also, what do you mean by Palestine being "mentioned"? Like parishioners just "mention" it to each other, or maybe a few times a year the priest mentions it at a meeting?

      I am not implying that Palestinian Christians' approach to their homeland is "wrong", it just seems to me that in the institutions described by the author of this Mondoweiss article, focus on religious political nationalism is more focused, militaristic and dogmatic than in Arab American churches. Do the churches have monthly "Celebrate Palestine" classes and "Palestine Programming" committees? I would be shocked if there was a Palestinian militant camp counselor who woke the kids up at 12 AM for drills.

    • The reason I think is that they don't see Palestine as being part of their religion. So there is no need to talk about it at their churches or religious camps. They don't have a religious-based need to "teach Palestine". It's not that people don't have an opinion on the issue. They would of course agree with the non-Zionist human rights ideas of JVP. It's just a totally different mentality in the institutions of the respective pro-Israeli and Palestinian communities. Obviously, at a Palestinian cultural camp, Yes, they would talk about Palestine, but there would certainly be no militarism taught (like 12 AM boot camp style wake ups).

    • What I mean is that there is an extremely strong contrast between: (A) the way of thinking and level of activism of the pro-Israeli community and (B) that of the Palestinian Christian community in the US when it comes to nationalism and militarism.

      I am not that familiar with the Muslim community here in the US, but highly doubt that there is much openly militaristic about them, and anyway it would probably be prosecuted if there were.

    • It's interesting how different people's experiences are between Jews and Palestinians and their communal education in the US. In college I attended a 4 day "camp" hosted at the dormitory for the main Arab Christian denomination in the US. There was basically nothing taught about Palestine, and having attended two of their churches for several months I can tell you that people in those churches rarely discuss Palestine as part of their church life.

      In whatever Palestinian summer camps there are in the US, I am sure that there would hardly be anything taught in the way of militarism. There is such a strong contrast between the way of thinking of their two communities in the US, and yet ironically the public perception in the US is probably a reversed reality and the US public doesn't even know that Palestinian Christians exist in serious numbers.

  • 700 UK artists pledging not to go to Israel include Soueif, Ali, Waters, Eno, Leigh, Churchill
    • Under Stalinism, a person would not be banned from discussing a topic. At most, the censorship would be that the person would recant "bad" views, which he would be expected to avoid repeating. The person would still be allowed to express views supporting the "right" position.

      The worst problem with the ban on Sizer isn't even that he can't criticize Israeli politics. It's that if he wants to provide non-political humanitarian aid to people suffering in the Middle East, namely his fellow Christians, then he is prevented from doing so. He can't write a letter to some kid whose parents got killed in an Israeli bombing that he feels sorry for their loss.

    • In other UK news, Anglican priest Stephen Sizer has been banned from writing or speaking on the Middle East. Sizer is one of the authors of Kairos Britain and a Sabeel keynote speaker.

      Bishop Watson said: "It is therefore my decision that Stephen's work in this area is no longer compatible with his ministry as a parish priest.

      "In order for Stephen to remain in parish ministry, I have therefore asked for – and received from him – a solemn undertaking, in writing, that he is to refrain entirely from writing or speaking on any theme that relates, either directly or indirectly, to the current situation in the Middle East or to its historical backdrop."

      The bishop said Mr Sizer had promised to refrain, with no exceptions, from attendance at or participation in any conferences which promote or are linked to this agenda and from all writing, tweeting, blogging, emailing, preaching and teaching on these themes, whether formally or informally. The prohibition includes posting links to other sites and from all background work in this area which may resource others to act as spokespeople in Stephen's stead.

      Bishop Watson said: "Should Stephen be deemed by the diocese to have broken this agreement, in letter or in spirit, he has pledged to offer me his immediate resignation, which I will duly accept. He has also agreed to desist from the use of social media entirely for the next six months, after which he and I will review that prohibition."

      link to christiantoday.com

  • No one's talking about peace in Israeli election, U.S. liberal Zionists are warned
  • Netanyahu's disaster: speech cost 'omnipotent' lobby a veto proof majority for Iran sanctions
    • Nobelist Elie Wiesel to Attend Netanyahu Speech
      New York Observer

    • Krauss,

      Yes, there are liberal nationalists who are distraught that the political system has turned out to be so violent, and such "liberal" or "centrist" parties as Kadima are the ones who they believe are the way out.

    • AS I UNDERSTAND IT, Obama's position is that Iran must be stopped from getting nukes, but we can make an agreement and detente so that they won't. Bibi's position is that there is no way to trust Iran, Iran=Isis, so we can only put sanction on them unless they do some unexpected things like support Israel's national-political system.

    • Rangel is retiring, so he feels he has more freedom.

      Maybe he is saying what some left wing congresscritters think but don't say it themselves.

  • Remembering Bob Simon
    • It's a scene from the Russian novel THE MASTER AND MARGARITA

    • Just,

      Do we even know if the seat belt was working? An investigation would have to look at the belt and ask his acquaintances if they ever saw him not wearing one. For most people, putting on a seat belt is an automatic habit that they always perform.

      The most unusual part of the case is perhaps that the car sped up when the driver said that he was slowing down for the red light and blacked out. If a person is slowing down, it means that his foot is pushing down on the brake. So how would the unconscious person's foot not only move to the accelerator, but push down very hard on that?

      The network and the family should do independent investigations.

    • I posted this as a reference to Simon's interview with the Israeli mayor. Jon S posted a link below.

    • Just,

      1. The only "reasonable" explanation that it was an accident would rely on claiming that Fedahi was in very bad health and had a heart attack or something else that made him naturally black out like drug use or intense sleep deprivation. This is because he has already claimed that he blacked out. A conscious driver probably would not totally drive off the road.

      2. I am skeptical that New York would normally, based on its official policies, still let him drive after 9 suspensions, as it did in fact. The official normal state policy could be checked. Regardless, the car company could be sued for negligence for having a driver who not only could only drive with one arm, but had 9 suspensions.

      3. His medical history should give more info on his heart condition, but right now what we have goes against it, based on the police denial of him having heart problems and based on him not being overweight and only 44 years old. That combination means a minimal, although not impossible, chance of heart attack.

      Further, he was in the US at least since 2004, meaning he should have been able to recuperate enough from heart problems. He does not look starving either, and losing an arm isn't a blow to the heart. Nor is living in a homeless shelter. The latter brings up a new question: what would he be doing living in a homeless shelter if he has already been working for a year for a company that is high end enough to chauffeur high profile guests in Lincoln town cars?

      I am sure that Bob would want journalists to do an independent investigation. God Bless him.

    • 9.Fehadi said he blacked out, but he does not seem like a likely candidate for a heart attack. He was 44, and that is very unusual for a heart attack. Maybe 11% of male heart attack victims are in that age bracket.

      10. Simon also was found in cardiac arrest, which could of course have been from the accident. But are we to think that Fehadi had a heart attack right before the accident, and then Simon had one during the accident? Or did they both have heart attacks right before the accident?

    • 1. Look at the photos. This was a very intense crash. The wheel is not even on the driver's side of the car:
      link to jpupdates.com

      2. Car accident deaths in New York City are very rare for such a huge population (millions) - maybe 50 per year. This must be because the average car speed is under 10 mph there.
      link to streetsblog.org

      3. The driver was an Afghani with 9 license suspensions and loss of his right arm living in a homeless shelter. Why was he still allowed to drive a taxi? How, after 9 suspensions, did he not lose his license?

      4. "Police have not been able to find any surveillance video of the crash"
      Is that normal in NYC?
      link to newyork.cbslocal.com

      5. Simon did not apparently die in the crash, where he had cardiac arrest, but at the hospital.

      6. "Investigators believe [Simon's Afghani taxi driver] Fedahi was driving a 2010 Lincoln Town Car south on the highway when he brushed against a Mercedes Benz sedan driven by Zaq Miller, 23, of New Rochelle. Miller told investigators Fedahi suddenly accelerated forward and hit a pedestrian protection bollard."

      OK, so Miller was stopped at a red light, and Fedahi brushed on his driver side. In other words, Fedahi was at a red light, and should have stopped, but not only didn't stop but accelerated and went through it. And not only did he go through it, but he did not drive straight and instead hit the center barrier to the left of where he should have driven straight ahead. And not only did he accelerate, but he must have accelerated so intensely that he destroyed his car.

      7. Fedahi ((complained of having a “a sharp pain” in the chest before the wreck. “He remembered coming very slowly to the light, and then all of a sudden, he just blacked out,”)) Fedahi was 44 and police didn't confirm he had heart problems.
      link to nydailynews.com

      8. Simon was a "regular customer" of Fedahi?
      link to nydailynews.com

    • TIME reports:
      "No explanation was given for the jamming of Diana’s seat belt, which could have saved her life if she’d been able to buckle it.
      link to entertainment.time.com

    • Two men in a park talking on film.

    • In 1953, in a toast before the New York Press Club, John Swinton, former Chief of Staff of the New York Times and the "Dean of his Profession" stated: (part extracted)

      "If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of journalists is to destroy the truth; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell this country and this race for their daily bread. We are the tools and vessels for rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."

    • More than six years after her death, the ghost of Princess Diana retained the power to make mischief yesterday as her former butler released details of a handwritten note she wrote for him 10 months before her fatal crash in Paris, apparently forecasting that a named person was planning a car accident for her.

      Paul Burrell, the former royal butler who was acquitted last year at an Old Bailey trial of hoarding the princess's possessions, revealed one hitherto undisclosed memento, kept private through six years of police investigations and media speculation but fortuitously released to the Daily Mirror to coincide with the publication of his latest book.

      The letter appears genuine: it looks like her handwriting and has apparently never left Mr Burrell's possession. It was written in October 1996, two months after the princess's divorce from Prince Charles and reveals a strikingly self-pitying, not to say paranoid, mindset not dissimilar to that on show in her Panorama interview a year earlier.

      "I am sitting here at my desk today in October," she writes, "longing for someone to hug me and encourage me to keep strong and hold my head high. This particular phase in my life is the most dangerous _ X is planning 'an accident' in my car, brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for Charles to marry.

      link to theguardian.com

    • If he was not speaking at the seminar, then he didn't have to be on time.

  • Dear Mr. Netanyahu, please don't cancel your speech
    • I know, Phil. It's entertaining. It must be interesting to see how the gears are working in the minds of hardcore anti-Iran liberal PEPs.

    • Lest some folks question Congress's support for the Israeli state:
      Poll Question: When 9/11 happened, was Pelosi's immediate reaction to sing the Star Spangled Banner or Hatikvah?

    • Netanyahu for President
      By Dr. Joseph Frager, February 8, 2015

      For the first time ever I am hearing calls from Americans for Bibi Netanyahu to become the next President of the United States. Israel's position in the world has dramatically changed. Bibi, as he is affectionately known, is one of the world's greatest orators in both English as well as Hebrew (not a simple feat). He learned his English in Philadelphia at the Cheltenham High School when he was a teenager. He learned his oratory fighting for the State of Israel whether at the United Nations or the Knesset. He left America to fight in the Six Day War in 1967. If only he could have maintained his American citizenship (one has to relinquish U.S.citizenship when one joins the Knesset in Israel) he could well be considered for the Presidency of the United States.It is America's loss, Israel's gain. ...the truth is Bibi Netanyahu is one of the great leaders of the world today.

      The President's latest affront to Netanyahu and there have been too many, is to rile up his Democratic followers in Congress to boycott Bibi's address on Iran to Congress on March 3rd. It remains to be seen if the Democrats will indeed heed the President's call or realize that it is too politically risky to be forever remembered that they were the ones who boycotted one of the world's greatest leaders speeches on the world's greatest threat ever. Believe me every Senator and every Congressman who does not attend Bibi's speech on March 3rd will be remembered for an eternity because the Jewish People and Historians will not forget.

      Don't be surprised if a Congressman or two calls for Netanyahu for President.

      AUTHOR BIO: "Dr. Joseph Frager The writer is a pro-Israel activist who sponsors and coordinates many Zionist events."

  • Gideon Levy's argument for Netanyahu
    • The latest election is a sideshow and if anything it pushes Netanyahu to the right to appease his electorate. That's why he is planning to make the speech in DC. If his electorate was liberal or there was no election now, he would not be making the anti-Iran speech there right now. I doubt that BN really needs some more Iran sanctions right now. After all, how do the proposed sanctions stop Iran from getting nukes? Rather, the point of pushing the sanctions right now in such an open way is much more likely related to the timing of his own election.

      So one of the driving forces behind the speech is probably not just Netanyahu, but Israelis themselves. That puts the rub on liberal "pro-Israelis' " simplification that Netanyahu is the problem, that Israeli society wants the right things, it's just a matter of Livni winning, etc.

    • Thanks.

      The main point is that Livni/Herzog will not come into power because Israelis are getting steadily and unceasingly more right wing.

      Yes, liberal Zionists pin their hopes on a Livni presidency whereby she would make a deal with Palestinians to end the official occupation and make improvements. Sure, it would be better even if it didn't let the refugees come home. And you could debate strategically whether it's better to have Netanyahu who makes Israeli dispossession of Palestinians look bad or Livni who could make dispossession of Palestinians look more acceptable.

      However, even debating the question is pointless, because Livni and Herzog won't be elected because the liberal Zionist electoral base there is not just a minority, but a very steadily shrinking minority. Netanyahu's "job", as assigned to him by the "parents" (US donors)in his latest campaign advertisement is to "babysit" and make sure the hardcore right wingers don't get out of hand there while also pursuing a Neocon strategy.

      The reality is not just that Netanyahu will win, but in the decades ahead Israelis and their electorate will get even more hardcore right wing. What we are seeing now in the Congress with Netanyahu's conflict with Obama and some dems on Iran will eventually become more and more open. Netanyahu is making the speech to please his electorate. In turn that means that you need to understand where the electorate is going, because they are also a major factor.

    • "if the “Zionist camp” of Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni win (Labor and Hatnua), the world will take the pressure off Israel in the belief that there’s been change. But there will be no change,"

      This is true- when Bush lost to Obama, the large protest movements against the wars in the Mideast declined in scale quickly. There would be more pressure by liberals if a president like Bush were in office.

      In any case, the larger point is probably that Herzog and Livni are not coming into office, and so it's simply unrealistic to ttalk about it like it's a real possibility.

      I expect that a Livni presidency there could be better than Netanyahu's. There would be fewer abuses. And yes, liberals would pay less attention. but anyway, it isn't going to happen because Israelis are very steadily becoming more and more right wing with each generation, which is another major point.

      With each generation of US southerners growing up with slavery in place, that system deepened in them racist ideas that would be weaker if they were in non-slave states or countries, like Canada. Likewise, the Israeli political system that oversees millions of occupied Palestinians relies on people there to have very right wing beliefs, and the reality of occupation reinforces those beliefs.

  • Do we really want Benjamin Netanyahu guiding U.S. foreign policy?
    • Phil,

      What is your prediction of where this will go?

      The Daily Mail has Pelosi saying that she will still attend, but that:
      Democratic lawmakers, but they see little remedy except to hope for minimal damage to their party and U.S.-Israel relations... lawmakers predict the quarrel over the March 3 speech will die down soon. There's no need "to pile on," even though the speech's arrangement was a mistake that triggered "a lot of blowback, both in Israel and here," said Democratic Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont.
      link to t.co

      1. If Netanyahu comes to Congress & Senate, he will get full standing ovations for anything he says, including demands for quick Iran sanctions.

      2. What are the Democratic Congressmens' positions on the Iran sanctions that Netanyahu wants? Are they in agreement with Obama on holding off on the sanctions? I think that they are undecided.

      3. A few Democrats and maybe the African Americans will skip the speech, but if Pelosi and other legislative leaders don't, I doubt that many others will.

      The results I expect are that:
      1. This issue will simmer over the next month.

      2. Netanyahu will tell legislators to pass more laws against Iran, and when they stand and clap it will make it harder for them not to.

      3. Democrats who are against levying more sanctions during negotiations will feel personally humiliated when they clap for them. Pelosi will feel slightly hurt because BN didn't tell her he was coming to make the speech.

      4. Obama will feel shafted and feel like Netanyahu has power over him in the legislature. This is not even to get into the constitutional violations of Netanyahu's speech that goes against the president, since Obama won't enforce the law against that.

  • Netanyahu 'babysitter' ad warns that Labor will give away Israel's house and carpet
    • Gazans were at least, if not worse off, than the West Bank in 2005 when they voted in Hamas. Very many of them are refugees from the rest of Palestine due to the Nakba. It's unnatural how many of them are crammed into tiny Gaza with no natural economy able to sustain them.

      Your complaint that the Gazans voted for Hamas is like British complaining that when they left southern Ireland, it allowed the irish TO EXPAND THE IRA into Northern Ireland. The fact is, the British shouldn't have been occupying Ireland anyway.

      But being very right wing in the first place, the Israelis were not open to realizing that, while the British population was shifting to a less imperialist position.

      The main issue is not really whatever specific policy, by itself, is adopted in Gaza, as far as voting patterns are concerned. Rather, it is, as you said, that they have a generational, steady shift to the right. We're going to see more and more Israeli racism in the years ahead, and that's extremely sad.

    • Jeff B,

      You wrote: Actual donations while they exist don’t have much impact and also you must be an Israeli citizen. So the idea of American donors having a big impact is not true at all.

      Campaign funds are the lifeblood of political campaigns. They pay for advertisements, TV time, brochures, campaign staff, etc. The Jerusalem Post on January 7 reported that "90%" of campaign contributions came from US donors.

      Second of all, we agree on a main point: " in Israel, the left (cultural) was much stronger 20 years ago than it is today and is much stronger today than it will be in 20 years." In your opinion this comes from Israelis' own development as secular and therefore more hawkish.

      This actually puts in question your claim that they are electing Netanyahu and right wing candidates because of Hamas' election in Gaza. The fact is, whether there was a Hamas victory in Gaza or not, Israelis would, as you say, become more and more right wing every 20 years, and vote accordingly.

      If that is true, the Hamas victory would not be seen as a result of the "peace process" but rather that given a free choice, palestinians want a political party that resists the total suppression that it looks like they are destined for under more right wing Israeli governments.

    • This is a strange ad. How many other politicians refer to their constituents as children who need babysitting?

      If you follow the analogy closely, Bibi is not appealing to voters so much as to the voters' "rulers" and "creators".

      If the children are the population and society, then who are their guardians and creators? Perhaps Bibi is making a reference to the massive donors. I think I read 90% of his donations are from the US.

  • Netanyahu is a paper tiger
    • I thought that this was a good article by Coogan.

      It certainly does not show that Netanyahu is a paper tiger, and to think so would be a catastrophic mistake. If he were a paper tiger, Pelosi long ago would have canceled her attendance at Netanyahu's next mass ovation performance in Congress & Senate.

      However, Coogan does a good job listing issues where activists were in some cases able to nullify or noticeably water down Israeli attempts at US policymaking and electioneering, like the Visa Waiver Program and elections of Justin Amash and Cantor.

    • Labor/Livni won't win.

      The Israeiis are becoming more right wing as a society.

  • The betting line on Netanyahu's speech to Congress
    • Probably some of their hands will hurt a bit. But getting up and sitting down almost 30 times will be good exercize.

    • ((Good Article Adam, and funny too. Chances are this one too shall pass, and in a few months the US and Israel will join hands, sing kumbaya, and the next time Bibi sends his brutal forces to kill civilians in Gaza, the US will show unwavering support and hand over the weapons to do so.))
      Yes.

    • Net. says (and will probably tell Congress) that Iran will have nukes within a few years if we let them. He doesn't make it an unconditional prediction that it will definitely happen.

      That is what I mean.

    • Probably Boehner will have orange or red like before with Net. But who knows.

    • Whoever goes there will ovate, But some people will skip the speech.

      Democrats are split between desires to show support for the Israeli government and Obama.

      Most congresspeople will participate in the standing ovations. More than 60%, but less than 100%

      Probably more than 95%, but it's hard to say if we will see a defection among Democrats like Pelosi, but that would be over-optimistic thinking. So yes, it will probably be like last time with maybe 3-15 people not going. If there will be a defection, although unlikely, it will be seen in the next month and a half, not as a last minute thing.

    • MY BETS:

      Netanyahu cancels his speech and apologizes to President Obama:
      Won't happen.

      Netanyahu “reschedules” his speech, makes sure it never happens and hopes no one ever brings it up again:
      Probably Won't happen

      Odds Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer gets canned: 3 to 1
      Probably will happen.

      Odds Dermer moves back to Florida: 5 to 1
      Won't happen.

      Dermer runs the Republican Jewish Coalition within three months:
      Won't happen

      standing ovations Netanyahu will receive in 60-minute speech: 60
      25 is about right. Less than last time (28).

      number of props Netanyahu will use during speech:
      0
      times Netanyahu refers to “the insatiable crocodile of militant Islam“:
      0

      Netanyahu brings an “insatiable crocodile of militant Islam” with him as a prop:
      0

      times Netanyahu says, “Iran is a fanatic regime that pledges to wipe Israel off the map”:
      0

      times Netanyahu says, “Israel is committed to just and lasting two-state solution”:
      He Won't.

      Odds the following will be thanked during the speech:

      John Boehner: Yes
      Chris Kyle: No.
      Ted Cruz: Probably not.
      Tom Cruise: No
      Carnival Cruise Lines: No.
      Barack Obama: Probably not.

      Time within which Netanyahu will say Iran will have a nuclear weapon:
      He won't.

      color of John Boehner’s tie on the Congressional dais:

      Blue: N0
      White: N0
      Blue and White: No
      Red, White and Blue: N0

  • Netanyahu speech could allow Obama to 'take on the Jewish lobby' as he took on Cuba lobby -- Indyk
    • This is a very important point. If the NYT Times is right, then all the talk about Net. being an obstructionist here is out the window. Poor guy, someone invites you over publicly, everyone knows about it, and then after you accept, the entire administration is mad at you because they made up a lie that they never knew about it. The AMERICAN THINKER blog is already saying that after the blog owner read the NYT "correction".

      BUT MRW is making a good point here by quoting Chris Wallace. Wallace's story contradicts the NYT. Wallace says in Fox News that he was there when Boehner announced publicly that Netanyahu had been invited and had accepted. And Boehner concluded that this was bad form.

  • Salaita sues donors for 'injecting' themselves into U of Illinois decision, threatening to withhold gifts unless he was fired
    • In this Supreme Court Case in the Georgia Supreme Court, the court decided that there was still a contract made, even though the board didn't approve it as the official offer letter said. The court decided that the words about Board approval meant that the board had an implied duty to approve the contract with the new professor, and that the board's approval was only "perfunctory."

      The court also wrote: " there was no evidence to show that, at the time Georgia Tech and Doe executed their employment agreement, there was even a slight possibility the Board would have rejected Doe's appointment, the trial court did not err in finding the Board's vote would have been merely perfunctory and that the lack of such vote did not preclude enforcement of the contract."

      Likewise, in Salaita's case, at the moment Salaita was given the offer letter there was no chance that the board would reject him, because it was unaware of the "civility" controversy. Likewise, the civility controversial was not sufficient basis to legally reject Salaita.

      The Georgia case is:
      link to courtlistener.com

    • Salaita's complaint is online here:
      link to ccrjustice.org

      In it, he argues that the letter stating that his offer was subject to board approval meant this as a mere formality, based on the University's actions. The university repeatedly referred to him as an employee and listed him as one, and indeed it would only be after several months of teaching that the board would decide on its approval. Further, the standards in the academic community reflect that board approval is a mere formality. SEE PAGES 12-13

      The college's own committee on academic freedom said that such offers are customarily treated as "binding". The complaint says that it is virtually unheard of for a board to reject an offer at a university after the university extended it and the teacher accepted.

    • JeffB,

      This is a good question.

      Robin Kar, a U.Illinois contract scholar, explains that there was apparently contract despite the condition that the offer was subject to board approval. The reason is because the letter said that the hiring was made in accordance with the AAUP's principles, and yet it appears that the University's retraction was made in violation of those principles. The scholar writes that if the condition is one for which the university is responsible, and the university fails to fulfill the condition, then the contract was formed nonetheless.
      link to illinois.edu

      Secondly, in case there was no contract, there is still a claim for promissory estoppel, in which Salaita relied on the college's promise (if not an offer). The university was aware that Salaita relied on its statements to him when he left Va Tech. And besides, professors work for some time at U.Illinois even before the college's board approves them, which is a form of reliance. For his part, the Interim Dean failed to present Salaita's case to the board as the Dean promised before Salaita was rejected by Wise.

      Further:

      He was told by Illinois that trustee approval was essentially a rubber stamp, and in reliance on that representation he resigned from his prior position on the faculty of Virginia Tech.

      link to verdict.justia.com

      Thirdly, even if there was no contract or promise, the university cannot choose to reject him because of political disagreements.

      "As the Supreme Court explained in the 1990 case of Rutan v. Republican Party ofIllinois, “conditioning hiring decisions on political belief and association plainlyconstitutes an unconstitutional condition, unless the government has a vital interest indoing so.” A university may not choose to deny a job to a professor based on political disagreements, as the Supreme Court ruled in the 1972 case of Perry v. Sindermann"
      link to dorfonlaw.org

    • ". Threatening to withhold a donation because the college has extended an offer is not tortious interference, and even if it were, you can’t interfere with a contract that doesn’t exist. "
      IU made an offer and then Salaita accepted it. That's a contract. It's not just an offer.

  • Netanyahu speech scandal blows up, and 'soiled' Dermer looks like the fall guy
    • So why didn't Netanyahu or Boehner choose to tell Obama? Did they think he wouldn't find out? Or because it would mean initiating a dialogue over whether it would be OK? I think the latter. Boehner or Net. would call up Obama and say that Net. is coming over and Obama would say it's not a good idea, and then they would have an uncomfortable argument.

    • David,

      You can look at Netanyahu's past actions as well as this one to suggest that he will probably come. About a month ago, when the strange Hebdo incident occurred and there was a public march by France's and Germany's leaders, France's president Hollande asked Netanyahu not to come to avoid controversy. Netanyahu not only came, but pushed his way to the front of the march, one or two spaces from Hollande.

      Likewise, this time Netanyahu did not care about Obama's response so he came anyway without telling Obama, knowing full well that it would rock the boats with Obama.

      The only thing perhaps unexpected for Netanyahu could be the mixed public response from other key players in the US. Would that be enough to discourage his speech?

      At this point, probably not. One of the main things is that Netanyahu's electorate is very right wing and getting more so, and that is who Netanyahu cares about, along with his key, well-funded pro-settler donors and Neocon supporters in the US establishment. Netanyahu wants to be a savy politician, and he is aware that his electoral base is shifting to the right, which explains his coalition partners. Netanyahu going forward with the speech would look to them like a rallying move, while giving in would look to them like weakness on his part.

      I don't think that Netanyahu feels personally totally compelled to see Iran broken or hold onto the West Bank, but they are things that he wants, along with making the speech to Congress. Were some other major factors, or his key supporters, to push on him against those things, he would be able to change his policies and plans.

      In other words, you would need the Israeli right or his strong US supporters to tell him to change his mind about the speech, or you would need US liberals to send a strong enough message for him to do so. At this point, I don't see those things in the cards, except for some possible action by the Obama administration. However Obama has been typically weak for the last six years with Netanyahu, and Obama's back is not put up against a wall because of the speech, so he probably won't fight back big time. I think that Netanyahu has probably game planned all of this ahead of time.

    • My guess is that Stalin and Teheran would just use their security guards to drag the person out and then continue on with their speech, maybe talking about "threats" from opponents. Bear in mind however that Netanyahu was visiting a foreign country, the US. Stalin and Teheran would not be able to control the response of US legislators and the public, so they would certainly not openly call US dissentors a "threat".

      Netanyahu however watched a severe beat down by his supporters, got a full US legislative ovation for that, and then talked about how the US allows protestors in the legislature because it is a democracy, unlike his opponent, Iran.

    • "and to get his usual Stalinist hundred standing ovations/who will stop applauding first response from that legislature (as well as from the media and from the public)"

      Check it out. I don't know who this "Stalin" guy is, but he looks amazing. His hair is like a mane. he looks like a lion.

      Meanwhile, compare this with Netanyahu's speech to our whole legislature:

      A heckler gets up, interrupts, and yells something about Palestinian rights and democracy. The AIPAC people in the back injure her so badly right there in the packed legislative hall that she gets hospitalized and needs a neck brace.

      First, what does the whole legislature do? It immediately gives Netanyahu an ovation just for that.

      Second, what does Netanyahu do? He says that the protestor is a sign of "democracy" because Iran would not allow a protestor in their parliament. Well guess what? The protestor was not allowed in this parliament either because she was beaten up right in front of him.

      Third, what would the "great" Stalin do in his speech if that happened? I am not sure, but I can guarantee you that he would not say that the protestor's right to heckle him was a "sign of democracy", especially when the protestor got beat up in front of hundreds of people. Stalin at least wanted the outward appearance of consistency when it came to public events, which would be contradicted by the heckler's public beat down. And Stalin did not want to even pretend to encourage disruptive protestors by falsely saying that they had such "rights".

    • Phil,
      You do realize that Netanyahu's speech encouraging tensions with Iran for its alleged desire to destroy Israel is scheduled for Shushan Purim, which commemorates a "preventive" attack on Iranians?

      As you may know, I love the stories of the Old Testament, but the book of Esther is one I have a harder time with, as do some theologians.

  • Finkelstein on Joan Peters's legacy (and Dershowitz's legal troubles)
    • Seafoid,

      About Finkelstein. I think he may have inside knowledge. Perhaps a few months before the Arab Spring, he predicted that the US would launch a new, large scale campaign to take over the Arab world. Up to that point, "regime change" efforts had been devoted to invading Iraq and Afghanistan, with perhaps some "color revolution" in Iran.

      However, Finkelstein said about the new campaign he predicted: It will start in Tunisia. He didn't give more of an explanation, and I remember thinking that it was strange, because Tunisia wasn't in conflict with the US like Iraq was. It didn't make sense to me that Tunisia would be targeted. But then a few months later (perhaps just a month), the "Spring" started in Tunisia. I wish that I could find where Finkelstein said this, but haven't been able to retrace it.

  • Tell your congressperson: Don't attend Netanyahu's speech
  • Virulent, violent verbal tactics reveal Dershowitz as a bully, says fellow Israel advocate
  • Netanyahu's Parisian follies
    • How did Abbas get to the front of the line after Netanyahu did? Did someone notice that Netanyahu was in front and then invite him for the sake of parity?

  • Why do Muslims object to depictions of their prophet?
    • Muslims accept the concept of drawing their prophet, but of the period before he became a prophet. Thus, drawings of him can be found of that time in his life.

  • A tale of two tests
    • I think there are two ways of reading the question. Tragedy has two meanings: either as an event that causes distress, or as a form of drama involving suffering. Certainly if one uses the first meaning, the Iraq war was a far greater tragedy in terms of scale.

      However, I was initially also thinking in terms of the second meaning. As a form of drama, I think that the Breivik attack was on a greater scale because of the elements of the story involved. To give an analogy, I think that in this sense Rabin's assassination was a tragedy far beyond the scale of his own number.

      Anyway, David agrees with you, so he probably meant the first meaning, a distressing event, in which case Yes, Iraq's casualties were on a far greater scale of distress.

    • I am confused how it is supposed to be a "liberal" democracy when it's under Likud. Doesn't that make it a nationalist democracy or a theocratic secular democracy?

    • Hophmi,

      You wrote that I failed.

      My two answers for the most tragic event were the attacks on Iraqis and the attack by Breivik in Norway. None of those were rocket attacks on a liberal democracy, unless that is what you consider pre-war Iraq.

      Do you disagree with my answer for the most tragic event listed? If so, which do you consider the most tragic, the attack on Gaza?

    • That would have worked. Or the person who was filming the killings from the helicopter could have intervened.

    • I think that this is the most tragic:

      Deaths of 77 Norwegians, the vast majority of them children, at the hands of a perpetrator motivated by hatred of Muslims and the “leftists” who tolerate their presence in Norway, July 2011

      For me, tragedy is not just scale, but also a catharsis from elements of the story. The stories of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, for example, could be more tragic than events than caused greater casualties, like a hurricane.

      Here, the victims are children, they are in a very large number, it's the highest massacre in Norway for a long time, they were peacenik children, and their society voluntarily practically disarmed its citizens because of opposition to gun violence (which I believe is a huge mistake). I heard that the killer intentionally used some kinds of bullets so that the victims would suffer more. Besides that, the killer was a racist who was slaughtering his own race and state security forces were negligent or complicit in this mass self-slaughter. I am against the death penalty, but the killer will not just get out of jail after far too short a time due to Norway's mercy on prisoners, he also gets jail perks. On top of that, some of the same people who are trumpeting barbarity against Muslims at least indirectly encouraged what happened and were in contact with the killer, who appeared connected to powerful groups in Europe.

      The 120,000 deaths of Iraqis is by far the worst in terms of scale, but it lacks that combination of perverse elements. It is a more straightforward act of barbarity and was callous. The US was perhaps not aiming for civilians but rather ignoring them recklessly and intentionally.

  • Hillel exec likens Open Hillel to biblical rebel against Moses who was swallowed up by the earth
    • Didn't the Cushite convert?

    • The part where she associates Korach with Open Hillel I found amusing:

      Despite all of this, I actually think Korach’s rebellion is precisely the lens through which we should understand Open Hillel. Consider what Korach actually says: “The entire congregation are all holy, and the Lord is in their midst. So why do you raise yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?” Note that Korach does not condemn the idea of Jewish leadership, but merely charges that Moses has gone too far in his exercise of power. The holiness of am Yisrael, Korach suggests, comes from our covenant with God, not from the authority of our leaders.

      It's amusing because the Tanakh portrays Koarch as bad but she portrays him as saying something positive about intra-religious equality.

      On another note, the underlying premise in the speech in question is that the director is saying that to oppose the Israeli state over human rights violations cannot be part of a discussion for the sake of heaven. This is incorrect as there were times when the prophets also opposed their governments over abuses.

    • Korach's argument was one of religious roles rather than nationalism. He claimed everyone could be a priest, not, like Open Hillel, that a nation state was questionable.

      Israeli secularism and Reform Judaism have far more to do with Korach than Open Hillel does. Israeli secularism and Reform Judaism teach that obedience to Moses' law is unneeded, for example it says that work is not banned on the Sabbath, although it may be discouraged.

  • 'NYT' reporter says Palestinians must make 'concessions... they have long avoided'
    • The NY Times is pushing this line in reaction to the Palestinians' joining the ICC that Palestinians can *now* being charged by the ICC"

      But the path forward may be slow and bumpy. International Criminal Court investigations take years, and the court’s involvement also opens Palestinians to war-crimes charges for, among other things, firing rockets at Israeli civilians. Shurat HaDin, an Israeli legal group, filed complaints with the Hague-based court on Monday against three Palestinian officials, including the prime minister and security chief, after earlier doing so against Mr. Abbas and Khaled Meshal of Hamas.
      ~From Rudoren's article

      Palestinians Set to Seek Redress in a World Court

      But the step could have major repercussions, not least because Palestinian officials could also be charged by the court. “It is the Palestinian Authority — which is in a unity government with Hamas, an avowed terrorist organization that, like ISIS, perpetrates war crimes — that needs to be concerned about the International Criminal Court in The Hague,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a statement after the signing.

      Shurat HaDin, an Israeli legal group, has already filed war-crimes complaints at The Hague against Hamas. Mr. Abbas said Wednesday night that the Palestinian move meant that other Palestinian officials “will be able to be sued as well.” Naftali Bennett, Israel’s economy minister, said that Mr. Abbas, too, could find himself charged. He warned in a statement, “Someone who has terrorism smeared all over his head should not stand in the sun.”
      link to nytimes.com

      If the ICC wants to stay credible among people, including its cosmopolitan intellectual base, in the rest of the world the ICC would not focus on detaining Abbas or Palestinian officials, because people, particularly those intellectuals, in the rest of the world see the Israeli state as the aggressor and abuser. I understand that the argument could be made that Abbas or others were involved in terrorism at some point, but the rest of the world is looking at Israeli abuses as the main aggression. Besides that, if the ICC wanted to detain Palestinians, I don't see why they wouldn't have already just because their country wasn't a member. After all, I don't think Serbia needed to have joined the ICC for the ICC to charge Milosevic.

      I see the NY Times as needlessly trumpeting a claim that the beneficial step of joining the ICC would be inherently adverse. But this is mistaken, since the Palestinians, not the Israelis, see it as beneficial. So why would Rudoren and the NY Times want to portray joining the ICC as inherently threatening to Palestinians?

    • The "pro-Israeli" position is that the Palestinians must agree to Israeli demands that Palestinians mus have no army, and since Palestinians don't agree and Israelis have no compulsion to make peace, then negotiations are deadlocked.

      If Palestinians do accept Israeli demands, what is to say that the settler movement will stop and so will other abuses? The Israeli government and the international community has done such a good job blocking the settlers and protecting Palestinians' rights so far, that when Palestinians take the step of agreeing that the Israeli government can have total military control, block the refugees, and everything else, that there will be no question of stopping the settler movement and protecting Palestinian rights. Right?

      The "pro-Israeli"/Dennis Ross/Rudoren position is at best naive about Palestinians' rights. But they already downplay abuses of Palestinians and the NAKBA, so it's not surprising.

  • State Dep't threatens aid to Palestinians over ICC, but holds out no consequences for Israel's settlements
    • The question for Psaki and co should be , If you keep punishing the Palestinians and they eventually throw Israel the keys who will then annex the WB /EJ and refuse equal rights to non Jews in the so called Greater Israel , what will you at the state dept have to say. Will we get more of this double talk and quite honestly insulting hogwash.

      At this point, you are asking a rhetorical question.

    • You could be right: If this happens and the trappings of a false transition are stripped away, and a gussied-up occupation becomes once again a naked occupation, it may turn out to be the most useful thing Abbas has ever done.

      Such a development may stir the international pot just enough, and get enough more Israelis to think hard about the costs and consequences to their nation of continuing the occupation, to save the possibility of, in the words of the failed Security Council resolution, “two independent, democratic and prosperous states, Israel and a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine.”
      Maybe, but who in the "international community" would effectively play this role? Western Europeans? Maybe. Liberal non-Zionists in the US? Maybe. It looks like a weak hand, but still not a totally bad one. If Palestinians survive and resist long enough (and not necessarily violently), i think they will have freedom eventually.

  • Gun used to assassinate Rabin is featured in show-and-tell by Israel's chief archivist
  • Israeli settlers attack US consulate convoy in the West Bank (Updated)
  • Dershowitz named in lawsuit alleging abuse of underage sex slave
    • Cloak,
      Wow, you are right. We are now at 691 comments. This article just missed the MW list of most popular articles for the year.

    • Has this article comment section been hacked? I remember posting at least three comments here which have since vanished. The section page on Mondoweiss says this has 601 comments, which is far far more than any normal MW article, which would otherwise generate 50-150 comments.

    • That's the film.

    • Pixel, I did a quick google search of the URL you gave and didn't find any "Master Ken".

    • It has previously been reported that at varying times... former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, New Mexico’s ex-governor Bill Richardson and the former US treasury secretary Larry Summers had all been passengers on Epstein’s fleet of private jets.

      Read more: link to dailymail.co.uk
      There are people
      I am not surprised about the Hollywood allegations, though. You can watch the Goonies' actor Corey Feldman's interview on how he was abused by people in Hollywood and how it is pervasive there. The movie X Men is an allegory about people "coming out."

    • Dershowitz was a writer for Penthouse and was captivated by a Japanese movie on rape that proposed that objective truth was impossible to find. See: Randy Roberts, "Heavy Justice: The Trial of Mike Tyson"

    • Speaking of abuse, what is the game "BDSM Israel", and why does it share its name with the Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement?
      link to gamershood.com

      Why do they have a cross in the game if it's a taboo in their society, and what is the lady saying in it?
      Screenshot:
      link to m.friendfeed-media.com

    • This is crazy. ส็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็(ಠ益ಠส็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็

      Dershowitz helped negotiate the plea deal Epstein made with federal authorities that allowed him to serve 13 months of an 18-month state sentence and gave him immunity from prosecution on the more serious federal charges.

      link to palmbeachdailynews.com

      In Epstein's case, federal prosecutors dropped their investigation into allegations made by roughly 35 young women. He served 13 months of an 18-month jail sentence.
      link to articles.sun-sentinel.com
      What's the likelihood Epstein shared at least 1 of the 35 girls with his associates as claimed?

      Dershowitz helped negotiate an agreement that provided immunity from federal prosecution in the Southern District of Florida not only to Epstein, but also to “any potential co-conspirators of Epstein.”
      Why would Dershowitz have an agreement to protect people who weren't his clients?

  • David Brooks says 'people from around the world' can serve in Israeli military
    • I think to join the IDF you either have to be an Israeli citizen or a Jewish foreigner. Weiss cited something saying you have to make Aliyah or be in the Mahal. And the Mahal requires the same thing, except that it includes non-Jewish Israelis. See the end of the Wiki article:
      link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Fireworks in Ramallah, as Abbas signs treaty to join International Criminal Court
    • Hostage was complaining though that the Palestinians weren't going to the ICC or trying to seek UN membership. and he blamed that partly on people who supported a 1SS, if I recall correctly.

      So it would be nice for Hostage to take notice of this latest news item.

    • Hostage, are you there?

      I believe we had some discussions about the PA and the ICC.

  • Campus movement against Israel is largest since anti-Vietnam war movement, Cary Nelson says

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