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Good letters, but they were published on a Wednesday. The original front-page story was in a Sunday edition, which is much more widely read. This may be a coincidence, or it may be yet another example of unequal treatment by the Globe.
Alison, congratulations on writing such an evocative piece. However, I question your dismissal of Charles M. Russell as simply "a boozer and wife-beater" . Russell was loved by many who knew him in Montana. His sympathy for Native Americans was genuine, according to what I have read. I would be curious to know the names of some of those library books upon which you based your essay, if you can recall them.
That’s rich – you not only “absorbed” Jewish refugees from Arab countries, you worked very hard ( not shying away from using bribes, threats and even terrorism) to make them leave their homes and move to Palestine.
That is the truth.
In addition, when hasbarists couple Palestinian refugees and Jewish immigrants, they usually don't mention the fact that the Palestinians were driven out first, in 1948. Jewish immigration from Arab countries happened later, over a period of many years. Hasbarists would like to have the public believe that there was a symmetrical exchange at one point in time, making the two issues appear equal. They are not.
No matter how politely the idea is phrased, it still comes down to the claim that Jews matter more than other people.
Absolutely. Well said.
At the same time, as others have noted, Mr Slater deserves great credit for honestly engaging here, and doing so in a civil manner.
The weakest part of Mr Slater's case is his view of the nature of Zionism. Not surprising it's the shortest part of his post. First, Zionism was not the only colonial endeavor motivated by self-preservation. Second, Zionism's biggest defect is that it isn't simply the belief that Jews deserve a state of their own. It's includes the presumption that Jews deserved the land more than the people who actually lived there. That is an indelible problem inherent in Israeli Zionism. It's one that liberal Zionists refuse to confront.
New England is an example of a colonial enterprise that shared both characteristics. Unfortunately for Israel, since 1620 the moral consensus has progressed the point that colonization, like slavery, is rightly no longer viewed as acceptable.
This commentary is full of insight. Unfortunately, it stops short.
Klug is deliberately evenhanded between the "antisemitism" and "anti-antisemitism" crowd, implying that the blame is equal on both sides. My own experience is that a very small proportion - I'm tempted to say zero percent, but I know that's an emotional overstatement - of the critics of Israel and its lobby are antisemitic by Klug's excellent definition. However, if they are effective critics they are almost invariably accused of antisemitism. The real-life consequences of being accused of antisemitism can be very heavy, while the penalties for false accusations are very weak. It is not a level playing field by a very long shot.
The euphoria over this agreement seems premature to me. If you support it, tell your Congressman.
The article was even worse than it's portrayed here. It took up about a third of the front page of the Sunday paper. It displayed a map of Israel that included the occupied territories. The word "Palestinian" did not appear in the entire 2500 word article. The only oblique possible reference to the serious ethical issue of the poaching of Palestinian water was that Israel had "yes, a good amount of chutzpah". Its entire tone was one of breathless admiration.
There was something very weird about the whole thing. It was written by a Globe reporter, Erin Ailsworth, whose sojourn in Israel was paid for by something called The International Center for Journalists. I'd be very interested to know more about why and under what circumstances this story was written, and why it was published in such a prominent spot. To me this was a discouraging new low in the standards of my home town paper.
Great thread. I really appreciate the reference to Consortiumnews.com, a site with great integrity, and one for which I have a huge soft spot.
Another current story there of potential interest to MondoWeiss readers is How US Pressure Bends UN Agencies, detailing the mainly untold history of how US pressure has resulted in the appointment and removal of UN officials in posts connected to the Middle East.
no matter the establishment will ignore consensus findings.
What do you mean? The survey shows that 85% of American Jews regard US support for Israel as being "about right" or "not supportive enough". Since US policy is already heavily skewed towards Israel mainly due to the efforts of that establishment, doesn't this demonstrate that AIPAC reflects the consensus?
Wasn’t one of them his wife Sara?
The NY Times naturally omits the actual reception of Netanyahu's speech, but Haaretz's Barak Ravid was not so bashful. The following excerpt is courtesy of War in Context:
One by one, Netanyahu’s donors, associates and supporters flocked in to watch. Casino magnate and owner of the Hebrew daily Yisrael Hayom, Sheldon Adelson, was followed by American-Jewish attorney Alan Dershowitz, former advisor Dore Gold, family friend Zeev Rubinstein and others. Last to enter was Sara Netanyahu, who took her place near the podium. When Netanyahu made his entrance, in front of a half-empty, drowsy hall, his friends, advisors, supporters and entourage all rose to their feet and applauded for several minutes. Still, the fans the in stands hardly helped. . .
I saw the BBC clip on this. It was a hoot. As Netanyahu took the podium there was a distinct smattering of warm applause. This was mystifying, because all of the delegates I could see were sitting on their hands. Then the camera panned to the back of the hall. There were a small bunch of guys standing against the rear wall clapping like crazy.
There some Palestinian Arabs in the IDF as well. Mostly Christians.
Yeah. 100 enlisted over the past year. That compares to thousands of foreign Jews volunteering annually.
This is yet another Israeli propaganda hobby-horse.
I don't believe our pro-Israeli media is something that has just "naturally happened" due to the unconscious bias of those in charge. I see it as a carefully constructed and maintained artifact, with severe penalties for those who go outside the limits. Over the years I've seen excellent journalists who published consistently critical views on Israel get marginalized and eventually lose their jobs. (William Pfaff is an example. Once a regular columnist at the LA Times, his work began appearing less and less frequently before disappearing completely).
Black journalists don't lose their jobs because they publish a critical article on prisons.
I'm sure that it's true that pro-Israeli Jews in the media aren't always consciously aware each and every time they favor Israel. At the same time saying that the media's pro-Israel bias is an innocent accident is like saying that the misleading information produced by the US government prior to the invasion of Iraq was an unconscious byproduct of it's desire to invade.
Bias in Middle East reporting due to the views of publishers and editors has been an obvious subject for investigation for decades. I don't expect the CJR to undertake it any time soon.
Your post brings up a subtle point, having to do with how I (a non-Jew) and you (a Jew) perceive the same thing. Perceive each other, in fact, because I somewhat identify with McGowan in your post. I do agree that it's important not to slip into a "those typical Jews" attitude. That's not something I saw in McGowan's article.
I view discussion of this as simply talking about what goes on in an arena that has a powerful effect on all Americans. Something that has deeply affected the country.
You yourself and other commenters here worship the cult of BDS
This is like saying that the Civil Rights movement worshiped the cult of sit-ins.
If President Obama proclaimed the need for war but really never wanted one, then he's like Kurt Vonnegut's Howard W. Campbell, Jr., "a man who served evil too openly and good too secretly, the crime of his times".
it was extremely predictable the american public would reject the idea of another ME war. it doesn’t take a master chess player to see that.
I don't buy this. For 12 years the American public has been all too consistent a supporter of American aggression when the flag is waved.
I do like that you're a dreamer though.
Yes, exactly. If President Obama had been antiwar to begin with, why did he assert so deafeningly the lies that the US had legal authority to attack Syria on its own, and that legally he didn't even need support from Congress? He laid on the "national security" trope heavily (though unconvincingly), and I think that he expected more domestic support. After all, when have Americans last refused to give it?
At this point I think he's just relieved by such an incredibly unexpected reprieve.
To me President Obama and John Kerry seemed dead serious about going to war with Syria. If not, it was a terrible risk for them to have relied on uncertain Russian intervention.
David Sirota's Salon article has a trenchant comment on the "Obama was bluffing" theory:
As President Obama apparently submits to domestic and international pressure to back off his plan for an immediate war with Syria, prepare to hear the standard Multidimensional Chess™ talking point.
You’ve heard this one before — it’s the one from partisans that pretends every good idea their preferred politician opposed but is then forced to embrace was always that politician’s idea all along. As the Atlantic’s James Fallows put it, it portrays Obama as “a chess master who always sees several moves ahead of his opponents.” In that chess game, seemingly stupid moves are actually brilliant calculations designed to create a chain reaction. We are thus asked by these partisans to believe that every dumb, corrupt or misguided position their preferred politician takes is really just a secretly brilliant plot to achieve that politician’s real goal of driving the policy debate to a better place.
It goes on in the same vein. Note - I don't think Annie is a blind supporter of the President.
Annie, I didn't mean to make you feel badly. I'm sorry. My reactions are based on experience, not racism. My knee-jerk objection to having Jews in positions where they can powerfully affect US Middle East policy is based on the belief that most of them will be biased in favor of Israel. Well, aren't they? Please go ahead and google the MOJO 400 (I think the last year was 1998) and check out donor backgrounds.
To the extent that this is a knee-jerk negative reaction it's not sane. But it is rarely wrong.
This doesn't spill over to other spheres. I don't react against Jewish folksingers, novelists, engineers, what have you. I also don't think that political positions are built into anyone's DNA.
tokyobk, this is a sore point. What you say is absolutely true. However, Kate's concern about the number Jewish mentors of Obama can't simply be dismissed out of hand. (Please note I have no idea whether Obama had many Jewish mentors or not).
I would like to draw your attention to this 2012 AJC survey of American Jewish opinion. 70.6 % of respondents agreed with the statement "Caring about Israel is a very important part of my being a Jew".
How many non-Jewish Americans do you suppose would agree with the statement "Caring about Israel is a very important part of my being an American"?
When considering in addition the peer pressure facing Jews who are personally indifferent to Israel, my default assumption is that Jews in positions of power are less likely to report the news fairly or carefully weigh American interests.
In the past I haven't just rested on that assumption; I've taken pains to research whether it was accurate. Mother Jones magazine used to publish the "MOJO 400", a list of the biggest individual donors to national politics. One year I took the trouble to review the backgrounds of the largest donors who appeared to be Jewish. I found almost without exception that they publicly supported Zionism and in many cases had leadership roles in Zionist organizations. When Katherine Weymouth became publisher of the Washington Post I took the trouble to find out that she was the daughter of Lally Weymouth, a pro-Likud journalist, and was on a first name basis with Benjamin Netanyahu.
There are many, many exceptions to the tendency of Jews to be supporters of Israel, but few seem to me to be in the public mainstream. They seem to be particularly rare in the upper reaches of the media, politics, or government. I think this is partly because Zionist Jews tend to feel responsible for Israel's well-being, and seek to put themselves in a position to support it.
For me the problem is exacerbated by seeing decades of downplaying the power of Zionism in politics. It's exacerbated by seeing decades of failure to investigate or even remark on obvious potential connections between publishers' attitudes and how news on the Middle East is reported. So when I hear that a Jew has been appointed Undersecretary of State or Defense, or that a Jew has become the publisher of a major newspaper, or that a Jew is running for Congress, I admit that I wince. I realize that this is to some extent wrong, but it feels like self-defense. Do you understand?
Oh, to be a fly on the wall.
65 years of . . . terrifying slogans (“we shall throw you into the sea”)
If you can produce credible evidence that any Arab ever said "we shall throw you into the sea", do so.
Shimon Gapso. The name sounds vaguely Tibetan, but not the ideology.
Right on, Phil.
Great point. Lally Weymouth is a passionate supporter of Israel, to put it mildly.
If the publisher's mother was a notorious Ayn Rand acolyte, and the Post hired an editorial board supportive of extreme libertarianism, one would expect to see some reference to this in the media. Someone would connect the dots in public, especially when the daughter shows signs of possibly having similar views. Not so when it comes to Israel.
This is a good list. It would be excellent if it included cessation of our diplomatic protection of Israel's colonization of occupied territory. I wonder if Ms Benjamin might explain why she left that out.
Rana Baker has a good column about the peace talks' prospects in today's Guardian.
She mentions a fact that has been ignored by the media and our political leadership for decades:
Edward Said must be turning in his grave. He spent a decade criticising the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, demonstrating, in every article he wrote about the matter, how life had only worsened in the occupied territories after every round of negotiations between the "two sides".
There is indeed something wrong with the terminology to begin with, for there aren't two sides to the talks, there is only one – the Israeli side.
Edward Said must be turning in his grave. He spent a decade criticising the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, demonstrating, in every article he wrote about the matter, how life had only worsened in the occupied territories after every round of negotiations between the "two sides".
There is indeed something wrong with the terminology to begin with, for there aren't two sides to the talks, there is only one – the Israeli side.
This subject flashed through my mind as I read today's front page article U.S. Balancing Act With Egypt Grows Trickier in the New York Times.
The story is about the American response to the Egyptian generals' repression. It has a strong focus on how Israel's pro-general viewpoint conditions American options. ...The main source is an unnamed "senior administration official", but reporter quotes four other sources. They are: Dennis Ross (!), Daniel Kurtzer (!), Tamara Cofman Wittes of the Saban Center, and Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress. At least three of these sources are Jewish; I'm not sure about Mr Katulis.
Public discussion of I/P has almost become a dialogue among Jews, with a resulting impoverishment of points of view. That's also true even of dissent from mainstream policies. I don't think it's easy for Philip Weiss to have this site, but a non-Jewish site with such candor would be totally anathematized. There are (or were) plenty of non-Jews who know the region and have intelligent contributions to make to the discussion, but they're not granted standing.
Dr Kumar, you offer an extended response to critiques of your definition of Islamophobia. Could you please post that definition for those of us who don't follow your work?
We all know that Netanyahu did his little Wiley Coyote routine at the UN because he was paid off by the Saudis.
I don't think any of us knew, tree. Do you have a link?
People mention Indyk's work for AIPAC, among many other things, to point out that he has a very strong bias towards Israel. His bias towards Israel might even appear to be larger than his loyalty towards the US, of which there's little concrete to show.
This ought to disqualify him from working as a US diplomat in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, where he should be 1) a fair arbiter and 2) mindful of the overall interests of the US.
Do you have any suggestions, Phil? . . . Looks like more Jew-counting to me.
This is below pathetic.
Ms. Thomas is a good example of the extent to which anti-Zionism can be impregnated with anti-Semitic ideas.
Thomas was obviously intemperate at times in the interview, but her responses could be read as being based on the reality of how most Israeli Jews see themselves vis-a-vis Palestinians, and the injustice that ensues. That's how I read them. For example, this:
who are these people? Why do they think they’re so deserving?
I have certainly had similar thoughts about Jewish settlers. I don't think that necessarily makes me an antisemite.
There's also the reality of what happened to Thomas. She was driven from the public sphere overnight despite a long and very distinguished career, because of something she blurted out while being harassed. It was extremely unfair. If she had a sore head afterwards, personally I find it hard to condemn her.
Google News returns two irrelevant hits for "+mattis +apartheid". Guess it never happened.
Yes, this is obvious. One of the discouraging things about the post-911 era has been how knowledge of the original context of the I/P issue has practically disappeared. Everything now is about the 1967 borders, if one's awareness goes back that far. But in fact Israel's origin - the Balfour Declaration, the Mandate, the UN's handling of statehood - undermines its basic legitimacy. You can see why Israel and its supporters are so touchy about this.
I have to say that I haven't succeeded in squaring the circle in my own mind. How to reconcile the sketchy origins of Israel with the living presence of millions of Jews - many of them now fourth generation or later on the land.
At least the question of the occupied territories is clear. There's no Balfour Declaration or Resolution 181 for them.
Her comments were not innocent.
The point is the price she was forced to pay for them. Contrast how she was treated for what she said in anger when ambushed by someone trying to provoke her, to consequences suffered by luminaries like Marty Peretz and David Brooks for vicious comments made in print in cold blood about Arabs. Her comments were far more innocent than theirs. She loses her career. They suffer a little criticism in blogs.
It's not "disputed" except by Israelis and their supporters. Even the US has never officially recognized the territories as anything other than occupied.
Israelis . . . really seem to believe, that Israel is the bellybutton of the world.
It's apparently not just Israelis who believe this. Look at the NY Times treatment of this story. It's jam-packed with Israeli caterwauling with no attempt to put the move in the context that, yes, the entire world including (officially) the US considers all Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank to be illegal.
This is the logic that "peace-loving" Israelis and their friends abroad have been promoting for decades. It's fruit was the never-ending "peace process" that resulted in the doubling of the settler population and the degradation of Palestinian hopes.
yonah, I'm surprised that you would offer such a threadbare doctrine here. Can it be that you actually believe that this is what's needed to make things right?
Israel survived just fine through 1967. It would certainly survive withdrawal from the occupied territories. In fact, that's the only way it can survive, long-term. It can't muscle and connive its way to long-term success on the current road, against the opinion of the rest of the world save the US. If it continues, one result may be the reduction of US influence, leaving Israel exposed.
Israel is simply doomed if it doesn't do the difficult thing and reconsider its policies.
Thank you for bringing this up, Marc. I noticed that Times story as well. The blowback potential is enormous.
jon, do you accept the principle of "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" as described by UNSC resolution 242 as the ground for an agreement? If not, why not?
Hee! Yes, I'm still waiting for gilad's evidence that if IDF soldiers misbehave towards Palestinians they're sent directly to jail.
Who counted those demonstrators and came out with a total of 33 million? Who determined that this was "a military coup backed by the will of the Egyptian people"? That is a questionable statement, considering that Morsi won the election and the Muslim Brotherhood is still the largest political party in Egypt. Whatever Morsi's failings, it is very disturbing to see a legitimate government deposed by force.
He’s mild-mannered about it most of the time, even somewhat covert, but I think that’s a more effective approach, and whatever we might think of his ideas (so to speak), he is a very effective, even dangerous, propagandist.
You're right. Brooks is a master of the little throwaway line. Who, me? Let's move on . . .
Citizen asks an excellent question. There have been few if any conflicts where international law and opinion have come down so firmly on one side as they have for the Palestinians. What conflict is analogous? Did history eventually side with Italy regarding its conquest of Ethiopia, condemned by the League of Nations? Did Saddam get to keep Kuwait? If you imagine that the world's dislike of Israel is going to dispel before it changes its ways, you are badly mistaken.
This indeed sounds like s spurious quote. I was about to type "good catch", but then I thought I'd first confirm it.
This quote is indeed found on jewwatch.com, but it's also in The Economist's Schumpter blog. I also found it quoted here, footnoted that the source is the book "The Rothchilds, a Family History" by Frederic Morton (authors name misspelled in the article). I haven't confirmed if it's actually in that book or not.
What evidence do you have that it's bogus? Can you provide a link?
Speaking of avoiding subjects like the plague, giladg, in the "Breaking the Silence" thread you said that Israeli soldiers who committed the acts described in the videos were sent to jail if caught. I invited you to post links documenting that. I never heard back. I'm still interested.
Write your Senator, if you have not already done so.
In Finkelstein's case his faults are a mirror image of his virtues. But what a champion for justice he has been!
Thanks to MondoWeiss for posting this.
Wonderful, indeed. Good for her for doing the right thing here. We should think of her and the others who have joined her any time we have blanket negative thoughts about Israelis.
Annie, thanks for the overview. I'm curious - do you speak Arabic?
giladg, could you please post some links documenting cases where IDF soldiers were "sent to jail" for doing the things described in these videos?
By this idiotic logic, Egypt must be peppered with checkpoints making people wait for days and preventing pregnant women from getting to the hospital.
(This) shows me that Israeli society is strong and healthy and can tolerate intense and public scrutiny and self criticism.
If only there were the same latitude for "intense and public scrutiny" of Israel in the public realm here.
The link to that interview is here. Fact is, I haven't been able to listen to Fresh Air since.
Phil, I don't think Terry Gross is a likely purveyor of enlightenment on this subject. I was heard her interview, or rather, mind meld with Jeffrey Goldberg on the subject of the Middle East a few years ago. They sounded totally oblivious to the possibility that anyone else might be listening.
Read the comments to the story. They're quite encouraging.
Lautenberg was dying. Perhaps under the circumstances he felt free to vote his conscience.
The war also cost the lives of 6000 people on the Jewish side, including some 2000 civilians, out of a Yishuv which numbered 600,000 – 1% of the Jewish population.
This is really too much.
Estimates of the number of Palestinian Jews killed range from 91 to several hundred.
Your post is is a good example of a style of argument supporters of Israel use over and over. Untruths delivered with an air of effortless authority.
Rick Steves was rightly commended here last year for some courageous criticism he made of media coverage of I/P:
I've been duped
This current show sounds pretty lame, but my guess is that he was given very restrictive guidelines regarding what he could say on this trip. That is not a complete excuse, but the whole picture should be taken into account before condemning him. I'm a big fan of his show - he's anything but a stereotypical "obnoxious American tourist".
It gives me a frisson to post a link to Mondoweiss, since that what got me kicked off DailyKos a year or so ago.
Thanks for that notice, PTJ.
It sure does, but not in a way that flatters the conference.
hophmi, list one UNSC resolution that cites China for "acting illegally outside of its Internationally recognized sovereign extent". One resolution, that is, that applies to the situation today.
The UNSC resolutions citing Israel on just Israeli settlements in the occupied territories as a violation of the Geneva Convention include 446, 452, 465, etc, etc. These all apply to open issues.
The funniest aspect of this is that the conference Hawking has decided to boycott is not a scientific conference. It seems to be a hasbara fest. See the home page and schedule.
That's hilarious. I guess the Americans had no business pulling out of the British Empire in 1776 - all of their manufactured goods came from Britain.
This is in character. In 2002, when Keller was angling for the managing editor job at the Times, he wrote one of the most sycophantic profiles I've ever read. It was about Paul Wolfowitz , arch-promoter of the invasion of Iraq:
I thought to myself "He's got the job". And he did.
It took a lot of courage for The Times to publish it, and I felt very well backed throughout.
The only reason that it should "take a lot of courage for the Times to publish it" is that the Times itself has worked so hard over decades to tell Americans a very distorted story.
It's really not surprising that there has been almost no media followup to Ehrenreich's piece - that is the typical response to any important piece of information that disturbingly contradicts the official line. Look at the near-silence that greeted the news that the 911 bombers were motivated in large part by US support of Israel.
It's also not surprising that Ben Ehrenreich is the daughter of Barbara - two excellent journalists with a strong moral sense.
I just finished this book. The accolades are deserved. It primarily describes her personal life in Palestine, the people she knew (Israeli, Palestinian and other), and the difficulties of living there. It does not go much into history.
It's biggest virtue for American readers is the way it vividly humanizes Palestinians. One small example that took me by surprise: "I'd never heard anything as infectiously shoulder-shakingly danceable as Arabic pop music".
The youth was displayed, he was not used as a shield.
It looks that way to me, too.
I agree! While I tend towards righteous sanctimony myself, I know it's a good thing to be able to see things from more than one point of view.
Wow. I've been waiting for this.
Something I've been waiting for from Hedges is a detailed account of how I/P news was edited at the NYT. I suspect he has stories to tell. However, he's probably bound by contract.
How I/P news is edited across the media spectrum is something I'd like to hear much more about. It's a bit much to expect that new Columbia Journalism Review editor Steve Coll will address this immediately. He was, after all, managing editor at WaPo during the Iraq invasion. However, it would be wonderful if someone would undertake to tell this story. It would have to be a brave person.
That's funny. Why would you think that? I know plenty of Catholics, and I can't think of one who would make such an association.
I see that the New York Times also reflected Sharkiya's view of the speech, somewhat . . .
Actually, Phil, the NY Times regularly treats Israel as though it were an all-Jewish country.
I thought of this a few days ago when I read the following article by Jodi Rudoren:
Many Israelis Unsure of Obama, but Are Ready to Listen During Visit
The article starts with "Obama administration officials have made it clear that the top agenda item for the president’s visit here this week is to win the hearts of the Israeli people. He has a lot of work to do. . . ". Rudoren goes on to interview about a dozen Jewish Israelis about their views.
Clearly Rudoren doesn't consider Palestinian citizens of Israel to be part of "the people of Israel". The fact is, neither does anyone else. Whenever the unqualified term "Israeli" is used, whether in Israel or here, by Jews or non-Jews, it doesn't include the 24% of the population of Israel that's Palestinian.
This fact alone gives the lie to the propaganda meme of Israel as a multi-ethnic secular democracy where all citizens are equal.
Sorry, but I can't agree with this. The Times' editorial page has been an indispensable support to Israel for decades. It appears to be accommodating to Palestinian aspirations, which makes it seem more serious than Fox News. However, overall its editorial content is no more fair or balanced than its news coverage. How often do you see an editorial or Op/Ed that points that all settlement activity since 1967 is illegal? When do you ever see a call for tangible pressure by the US government on Israel? The Times' faux reasonableness simply makes its bellwether standing more dangerous.
So during the run-up to war (it was obvious long before the beginning) you had hidden in plain sight the massive role (notably OSP) of quasi Israeli/Likud/Eretz Israel operatives (the redactors of the Clean Break Report) high up in the Bush administration and this was never tackled in the mainstream media . . . You had to read people like Raimondo, Bill and Kathleen Christison, Pat Buchanan, some Counterpunch articles or the aggregator “Cursor”.
Excellent post. This is so true. I'd add Jim Lobe to that list, and that's about it.
One very interesting aspect of this affair is the light it sheds on Israeli military censorship.
Israeli military censors have total purview over what may be published or aired on subjects touching national security. This works via prior restraint; all articles must be reviewed by censors before being published.
In the past this has actually been used to erase swathes of history. Thanks to Israeli censorship, during much of Israel's history the story put out by Israeli propagandists that Palestinian refugees left their homes voluntarily was widely believed in the West, hard as that is to believe now. For example, for decades censors did not permit anyone to publish a reference to the 1948 overnight expulsion at gunpoint of tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians from the towns of Ramleh and Lydda by the Haganah, precursor to the IDF. It wasn't until a censored portion of Yitzhak Rabin's autobiography was leaked to the West in 1979 that this fact was revealed. Of course, Palestinians had been saying it for years, but who listened to them?
This subject is predictably largely ignored by US media. It doesn't mesh with the fable of a "vibrant democracy" that is "just like us".
The NY Times story on this is a piece of work. It does not mention the very longstanding and universal international opposition to settlements on legal grounds. It doesn't mention that (AFAIK) the official US position based on prior US votes in the UNSC is that all settlements violate the Geneva Convention. It basically blandly frames the issue as one on which reasonable people can disagree. Finally, the story is poorly placed.
In contrast, the Guardian posts its story much further up, and forthrightly points out this reality:
"The UNHRC report broadly restated international consensus on the illegality of Israeli settlements."
Has it come to this? A mere cut in aid is the "helicopter on the roof" moment?
It used to be that the US not only sometimes declined to use it's UNSC veto to support Israel, but actually joined in votes to condemn Israeli actions. As far as I know, Israel didn't regard this as a sign that the US had become and enemy or was abandoning it for good.
I think it's hard for anyone under the age of 60 to realize how far the US has moved towards total support of Israel over the years, how much more empowered supporters of Israel are now than ever, and how impoverished the discourse on I/P has become, particularly since 9/11.
Yonah, perhaps you should not dwell so much on history and look at the present. I was raised as a Protestant, and had several Protestant clergymen and women in my extended family. Based on my experience, the notion that Christianity still broadly considers that Jews inherited the guilt of killing Jesus is completely wrong. No major denomination, Catholic or Protestant (BTW, Catholics are also Christian) considers this to be true. That student in North Carolina was very much an outlier, not a typical Christian.
Personally I have never - not once - heard this opinion expressed by a Christian of any denomination, and I have two cousins who are fundamentalists. The tradition I was raised in was philosemitic.
You should get out more.
I hope you're teasing Mooser here.
Mooser, Judaism is an ideology or system of thought, just like Zionism. Are you saying that Judaism should be outside the realm of scrutiny?
Please note that I am not saying that Judaism "inextricably lead(s) to ... violence and crime". I'm not saying that it would be judicious for Phil to plunge into an extended discussion of this issue here. However, I do believe that there are threads in Judaism that support the exclusivity and double standards of Zionism. I don't think one can fully understand Israeli behavior without understanding that.
I think it's a very, very bad idea to reduce any religion to its less attractive aspects. But Judaism, like Christianity or Islam, should be open to critique.
Those who constantly criticize Israel's value as an ally must acknowledge that once again Israel has heroically stood by the US on an issue on which we stand almost alone. How many times over the decades has little Israel come to our defense in the UN on this issue? Almost too many to count.
Of course, mention also must be made of Canada, the Czech Republic, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama. These are nations whose devotion to principle is unquestioned.
How disappointing that the NY Times has chosen to downplay this story! This only makes the accusations that the Times is hyper-critical of Israel more credible.
Bruce, that is a wonderful post. It would be helpful if all of us who get angry with the power of the Israel lobby keep this in mind.
At the same time, there is no mistaking that what some Jews believe about Jewishness has a powerful effect on their behavior vis a vis Israel. When Elliot Abrams, a former National Security Council Senior Director for Near East and North African Affairs says "Jews are in a permanent covenant with God and with the land of Israel and its people. Their commitment will not weaken if the Israeli government pursues unpopular policies", this is rooted in his view of Judaism . Jewish religious and cultural tropes can affect all of us that way. In any genuine conversation they must be must be subject to open criticism. We seldom have an honest conversation, which is why, scandalously, Abrams' opinion expressed above has not been the subject of public debate, considering his public power and responsibilities.
In his forward to Israel Shahak's Jewish History, Jewish Religion, Edward Said said that understanding the religious and cultural beliefs of Jewish Israelis was essential to understanding Israeli policies. I believe that is completely true, and it also can apply in cases to American supporters of Israel. (Caution - this book is dangerous if taken as a determinist view of how Jews think).
A recent AJC survey said that 71% of American Jews agreed with the statement "Caring about Israel is a very important part of my being a Jew". I must admit that I think of this whenever I hear of a Jew being appointed to an key national security position, or making a large political donation. This is an issue that powerfully affects the whole country, and must be discussed.
At the same time, Bruce, your point that Jews have all kinds of opinions, and that the Jewish Lobby whose organizations seanmcbride enumerates tends to represent the most pro-Israeli Jews, must always be kept in mind. It's a big canvas. We're all on it together.
Oh. Thought he was serious.
Mooser, do you still feel the same about my post, given my response ?
Irishmoses, this statement:
an accurate factual basis for a generalization can still be used in ways that raise questions about the motive and ethics of the one making the generalization.
is both somewhat questionable and one that cuts both ways. First, it is hard to know for sure what someone else's motive are. Very few of us can actually see another person's mind. Just as is the case with generalizations, we inevitably make judgements about motive, but one should attempt to look at all sides and all possibilities before doing so.
Second, the motives of the questioner are subject to the same rule.
I've been around this issue for so long that I know that whenever someone is an effective critic of Israel, sooner or later that person will be accused of being antisemitic, or "following antisemitic tropes" or something. This is almost as predictable as night following day. My tendency is to reject those attacks, though as this case shows this can sometimes, though rarely, be shown to be mistaken.
I'm not familiar with Joachim Martillo. I did agree with the statement I quoted for the reasons I gave.
My "link" with him is via that one statement. Don't make it into more than that.
American, by definition all generalization have exceptions. But we cannot avoid using them. Everyone except God finds them necessary.
irishmoses, suppose that the conclusion drawn from the 71% in that poll is not "American Jews are traitors", but deep concern about the effect that such a high percentage of money donated to national political campaigns comes from Jewish donors could have on US policies?
Terrific post, Bekah. The extensive detail you provided has changed my mind about this affair.
I wholeheartedly agree with your main point - that antisemitism is unacceptable. We must not accept it regardless of the source. Having seen many defenders of Palestinian rights silenced by untrue accusations of antisemitism, I simply took Greta Berlin's explanation at face value.
At the same time, there is a further point that should be made. You single out Joachim Martillo for his response to the statement "We must never never generalize about Jews and Zionist Jews". In his response he says "In truth we should generalize, and there are perfectly reasonable wa(y)s to generalize about ethnic groups, cultures, and societies". What he goes on to say is not very reasonable, and perhaps that's what you meant to condemn. However, the first point he makes is quite true. Discussion of history or current events becomes absurd if we can't generalize about "ethnic groups, cultures, and societies". The different characteristics among groups are what make them, well, "groups". Imagine where the presidential race would be without that.
The idea that we must "never never generalize" is too often used to make discussion of certain American realities impossible. According to a recent AJC poll, 71% of American Jews agree with the statement "Caring about Israel is a very important part of my being a Jew". What follows from this attitude has a tangible effect on all of us. Yet in many forums any attempt to discuss the implications of this fact without multiple, constant qualifications and disclaimers could get you kicked off the site. This situation is effect of Jewish power in our society - another reality that affects us all, but unfortunately can't be safely discussed in public.
It should be possible to discuss differences among groups and individuals. The key to protecting your own mind while doing this is not to freeze differences into permanent realities, or assign a particular character to people simply because of their ethnic backgrounds.
Do you ever think before you type?
You just started your own "disinformation campaign using antisemitism as cover" right here.
This is the most tried and true tactic used by supporters of Israel to smear opponents. And the most reprehensible.
Yes, I think the original post should be amended to include Greta Berlin's explanation that “Zionists Ran the Holocaust and the Concentration Camps” was intended to be an example of bad propaganda. See HHM's post below.
So it appears that Greta Berlin's intended point was exactly the opposite of how it was interpreted by the former Free Gaza board members. Her purpose was to present “Zionists Ran the Holocaust and the Concentration Camps” as an example of example of propaganda to be avoided.
IMO Ali Abuminah can be quick on the trigger with anti-antisemitism accusations.
That isn't all.
Israel desperately wanted Jews to leave Arab states and come to Israel. They were needed to fill the empty lands left by the departed Palestinians, and prevent the Palestinians from realizing the right of return promised by the UN.
Israel made great efforts to make this happen, including recruiting native Jews to make terrorist provocations in Arab countries. This definitely happened in Egypt, and has been alleged to have happened in Iraq. But beyond that, there was a tremendous public relations campaign.
That is not to say that there weren't injustices committed both by Arab governments and private citizens. However, there is a vivid contrast between Palestinian and Jewish refugees. Israel really wanted the former to leave, and the latter to come.
Having said that, the opinion piece itself didn’t strike me as particularly lop-sided toward Israel.
Just keeping the meme of potential war with Iran constantly in the news is a big win for those who want war.
The New York Times, which prides itself as "the paper of record," is acutely attuned to this constitutional and libertarian issue at the very same time that -- more artfully than Izvestia ever did -- it engages in self-censorship. At least in the Soviet Union everyone knew they were being lied to. The average reader of the Times on the other hand remains blissfully ignorant about the information that their trusted newspaper chooses not to report.
The issue has never been stated more clearly than Woodward does here.
There are crimes and human rights violations being committed all over the Middle East. Why do you single out Israel and willfully ignore the other violators?
1) Due to our total support of Israel, the US is partly responsible for Israel's crimes.
2) That puts at risk in large areas around the world.
Now take a hike, troll.
Phil, good luck to you.
I think you have a point.
"Most American Jews, quite to the contrary, believe that Judaism is a religion, not a nationality. "
doesn't reflect my experience. Among the many buddhists of Jewish background whom I know, continued strong self-identification as Jews is the rule rather than the exception. Among the few I know who are actively involved in the I/P issue, while there is a strong desire to make things better and a recognition of problems in Israel, there is also an obvious strong identification with Israel.
Also, regarding this:
"American Jewish leaders-----who,in fact, represent no one but themselves----have turned their backs on Judaism's universal moral and ethical values."
An AJC poll conducted two years ago found that 69% of American Jews felt "close" or "very close" to Israel. This suggests that American Jewish leaders actually reflect American Jewish opinion more than not.
It's important not to sugarcoat reality.
This is nice to see. I'll be happy when this kind of defense is regularly offered for "little people" who are not celebrity columnists, such as California students advocating BDS. But it's a start.
All too true.
While Christians do constitute a community, there is nothing in the teachings of Christ that enjoin a Christian to treat someone differently because of their faith. The two-tier morality found in Judaism is not found in Christianity.
Beryl Satter's post is wrong on a number of levels. The worst thing about it is that while purporting to help critics of Israel defend themselves against generalized charges of antisemitism, it actually endorses the false basis of such charges.
I do believe, however, that anti-Semitic discourse exists. It is deeply embedded in Christian culture
Anti-Semitism is a 2000-year-old ideology that sees Jews . . . as killers of the son of God and of Christian babies.
I grew up in the 1950s and 60s in an extended family that was, to say the least, active in mainline Protestant denominations. During my childhood I can't recall ever hearing a single negative generalization about Jews either in my family or in church. To the contrary, philosemitism was the order of the day. Jews were mainly liberal Democrats, which was good. Beyond that they had suffered terribly and there was strong empathy for that. My two cousins, sons of a UCC pastor, lived on kibbutzes during the summer.
I personally recall experiencing just one examples of antisemitism growing up. It was during a pickup baseball game in seventh grade. There was a close play, and a fierce argument broke out. One of the players, at his wit's end, said to his antagonist "You, you . . . Jew!". My impression at the time was of incongruity. What did the fact that Weiss was Jewish have to do with whether he was safe at first?
How, exactly, did my Christian upbringing contribute to "deeply embedded" antisemitism? It didn't. There wasn't any. Christians who support Palestinian rights come overwhelmingly from backgrounds similar to mine. Bigoted Christians are far more likely to be supporters of Israel.
Ms Satter, if this antisemitism was in the atmosphere, where exactly was it? Where was it in popular culture? Where was it in political discourse?
A second disturbing aspect of this post is the attempt to put strict boundaries on what may or may not be discussed. For example, this:
Anti-Semitism . . . sees Jews as master manipulators who control global finance, communism, and the media.
This statement preempts any investigation of a very important source of potential bias, which is the effect of Jewish ownership, management on reporting on the Middle East. For example, what might AM Rosenthal's strong pro-Israeli opinions as a columnist suggest about his influence on the NY Times' reporting on the Middle East when he ran that paper? Maybe nothing. But I suspect nobody has the courage to look, because they're assured of being blasted as antisemites, with Ms Satter's implicit support. There are many, many other examples.
Then there is the "double standards" argument:
The fact that amassing evidence against Israel cannot fully free one from charges of anti-Semitism might seem unfair to activists who, for whatever reason, are concerned with oppressive acts by Israel and not with similarly oppressive acts by other states. . . .. . . A call for consistency is not too much to ask.
Why don't we spend the same amount of time criticizing North Korea as we do Israel? The obvious answer to that is that the US has a unique relationship with Israel. Israeli actions affect the US in a way that North Korean actions do not. One example of this that has been extremely underplayed by the media is the fact that the planners and participants of the 911 attacks were motivated in part by US support for Israel. Also, as Americans we actually are partly responsible for Israeli actions, thanks to our government's constant support of Israel. This is a moral issue.
In short, Beryl Satters' advice here constitutes support for further unfounded charges of antisemitism, rather than the reverse. I hope she considers this carefully.
First they came for the Muslims
No, first they came for the Palestinians, who were both Christian and Muslim. Historically a Palestinian's faith has made little difference in Israel's treatment, nor in Palestinian resistance. It's an avidly propagated Israeli propaganda meme to say otherwise.
Shouldn't the Times have to state that Brookings is funded by Indyk's good friend Haim Saban, a former Israeli who is an ardent supporter of Israel? Shouldn't it state that the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which was spun off by AIPAC, is widely seen as ferociously pro-Israel?
Indyk founded WINEP.
One more thing should be said about Judith Butler's statement. The level of discourse in the thread is high. It contains far fewer rote responses and less personal slagging than most. I think this is due to the standard Butler set.
Times, and ethical standards, have changed. Would you justify keeping slaves now by pointing out that Americans had slaves 150 years ago?
What you say is completely true, yet I can't fault Butler for rooting her argument in the ethical framework with which she identifies. She is, after all, addressing other Jews.
You’re talking about a public venue and an anonymous general admission audience. That is a case of discrimination on the basis of nationality, because the exact cultural views of the audience are at best unknown or irrelevant.
By this standard, artistic boycotts of any state, including Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa, would be illegitimate, since one never knows what views are held by each individual member of the audience. Is that what you're saying?
I come late to this discussion, but boy, is this good. Professor Butler's statement is bookmark-worthy, which is something rarely seen in a blog. Phil, as far as I'm concerned you've justified the site with this one post.
True, but makes it hard to carry on a conversation.
They're up now, thanks.
Could someone at Mondoweiss please tell me why the two comments I posted this morning have been "awaiting moderation" all day, one since 8:39 AM?
If they violate your policy please tell me how. If you simply don't like my face, please tell me why. This isn't the first time it's happened, nor the first time I've asked for an explanation.
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