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Beinart gets a Jewish conversation going in the media (just don’t call us a cabal)

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When Peter Beinart came out in favor of a boycott of the West Bank settlers two weeks ago and Jeffrey Goldberg started smearing him, and Jeremy Ben-Ami didn’t take Beinart’s side, I thought we were about to see the Walt and Mearsheimer-ing of Beinart: he was going to be vilified everywhere.

I was wrong. Beinart has driven the wedge. He’s still getting angry spitballs from the right (Alana Newhouse saying in the Washington Post that he’s doing it out of personal ambition) but he has started a real discussion. And let’s be clear: It’s a Jewish conversation, and it’s about the big rock candy mountain (saving the two state solution).

Beinart is saying much what Walt and Mearsheimer and Jimmy Carter said six years ago: to save the two state solution we must fight back against the lobby and end the settlements. Those authors all had greater status than Beinart, but they all made the big mistake of not being Jewish. Forums were organzed to call these men anti-semitic. Terry Gross berated Jimmy Carter on Fresh Air.

She was very respectful toward Beinart yesterday (her biggest concern is that he’s sending his kids to Jewish schools, depriving them of interaction with other races).  But as Gross interviewed Beinart, I got several emails from people who were offended that it was an all-Jewish conversation about Palestine– a cultural hegemony reinforced when Gross interviewed Gary Rosenblatt of the Jewish Week, to balance Beinart.

Jews don’t want non-Jews in this conversation. Israel was established because we are not safe among the gentiles and we must have sovereignty to be safe; so when non-Jews criticize Israel they’re immediately suspected of seeking to endanger our safety (they must be anti-semites). And you can understand the thinking. Israel was a concerted community project in the wake of the Holocaust, in which half of European Jewry was exterminated; and Israel’s protection inside the U.S. power structure is such a crucial part of that project that there is the highest community taboo on any American Jew who would criticize it and give fuel to Israel’s enemies. This is why there’s far more criticism of Israel in Israel than here; we don’t trust the goyim.

You can see the prohibition at work in someone who is inside the Jewish community (as I am not; I got spat out long ago), Dana Goldstein, writing in the Nation about how anguished she is to voice any criticism of Israel.

I write about Israel-Palestine issues only occasionally, because the onslaught of emails and comments calling me a self-hating Jew can be emotionally overwhelming. It’s also difficult to weather the respectful but strident disagreement from some friends and members of my family, who consider me insufficiently pro-Israel because I support the international community moving with deliberate speed to pressure the Netanyahu administration to end the occupation and create a viable Palestinian state… So I am somewhat in awe of my colleague Peter Beinart, who seems to be made of stronger stuff than I am. I can only imagine what Beinart has experienced over the past few weeks…

Remember: both Goldstein and Beinart are liberal Zionists! Still, Goldstein offers a sincere expression of how hard it is for most Jews to offer the mildest criticism. 

Ilyse Hogue of the Nation and formerly moveon.org said the same thing at J Street when she said it was harder for her to come on to that stage and just align herself with liberal Zionists than it was to take on her usual political adversaries, rightwing radicals or bank CEOs. This time she was taking on her parents in AIPAC.

Because I love my parents, I have made sure to avoid this issue at all costs… I don’t want to make them want to reject me… I love Israel, I love Israel with all my heart.

So Beinart is performing a vital role. He is opening up the conversation inside the Jewish community. Terry Gross echoed Goldstein yesterday when she said it is impossible to have a conversation about Israel inside the Jewish family. Now Beinart allows her to go there. Because he has such Jewish bona fides (Orthodox synagogue attendance, kids in a Jewish day school, worked for AIPAC and the New Republic), he is allowed to speak inside the community– as say, I am not and John Mearsheimer is not. Yesterday I heard Terry Gross make more criticisms of Israel than ever—we Jews criticize rightwing governments in the U.S., why can’t we crititicize them over there?

And on WNYC earlier in the day, in another Jewish conversation, Andrea Bernstein was openly critical of Israel, asking Beinart how Israel could be a Jewish state and a democracy at the same time. Good question, Bernstein.

And David Remnick, interviewing Beinart in yet another Jewish conversation at the 92d Street Y last night, surely expressed rage against the settlements, and – I bet—staked out a position to the left of Beinart.

So Peter Beinart is brave. And this is an important conversation.

But let’s be clear. The parameters of this conversation are racist. Palestinians, the group most affected by these deliberations, are not invited into the conversation. No one is balancing Beinart with Palestinian-Americans Ali Abunimah, Remi Kanazi, Susie Abulhawa, Nadia Hijab or George Bisharat. Author Pamela Olson isn’t invited into the conversation. Paul Woodward isn’t. Walt and Mearsheimer either.

When Peter Beinart spoke of Jewish power and mentioned Ivy League presidents being Jewish and five of the last seven New York Times editors being Jewish, Terry Gross chided that people might think Jews run the media– that we’re a cabal. We may not run the media, and we may not be a cabal, but this conversation is certainly cabalistic and reeks of arrogance. We have our heads in the sand.

When are Jews going to feel safe enough to let others in on this conversation about cosa nostra, which happens to affect all Americans? A long time. (Too long for the two state solution, maybe too long even to keep expressions of anti-semitism from rising in the U.S.).

In the American Conservative this month, Scott McConnell, in an admiring review of Beinart (whose view he shares that the two state solution is the paradigm, and we need to grab it), hints at his own mannerly impatience.

The Crisis of Zionism also has a problem of agency. Though few writers are more clear-eyed about the hurdles American Jews face in changing the way their community relates to Israel, Beinart nonetheless writes as if they are the sole audience that matters for a serious argument about Zionism….

can such a circumstance endure? America’s engagement with the Middle East once centered on the construction of schools and universities, an outgrowth of the Protestant missionary presence in the region. The first generation of Western-educated Arabs often studied in such schools, so the American presence in the region was associated with science, the education of girls and women, a modernity untainted by colonialism—in short, a genuine program of liberation. …

Just as “the question of Palestine” resonates far beyond the borders of the Palestine Mandate, so in American politics its significance has begun to be felt beyond the confines of American Jewish opinion. If American Jews are to help forge a democratic and non-racist Israel, they are unlikely to succeed without allies. It would not be without irony were such allies to be found, among other venues, among the politically active Muslim students in the American universities and those mainline Protestants who are now, finally, finding their voice to say “Enough!” to America’s unconditional support for Israel.

I hope this leads to more outspokenness. America needs non-Jews. So do Israel and Palestine. Occupy the Jewish establishment.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

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74 Responses

  1. Bill in Maryland on April 4, 2012, 9:39 am

    “Occupy American Judaism.” Love it! Thank you Phil.

  2. Stateless American on April 4, 2012, 9:46 am

    America needs non-Jews.

    Why would a country need 98% of its citizens?

    • Krauss on April 4, 2012, 11:55 am

      Good catch. Phil’s on an ethnocentric streak today. First his smearing of the goys as golddiggers and now these sly comments. I love these emotional highs and lows from him.

      Ultimately, criticising Zionism should be like any other ideology. You shouldn’t be a communist to be able to criticise communism. Your personal biography shouldn’t matter, which was and is the case with Beinart.

      The only thing that should matter is the logic of your arguments, whatever the outcome. And I don’t think most Americans can afford to wait for permission and with the Walt/Mearsheimer breach, they are not doing that either at increasing rates. I still hold both them and their book as far more important than what Beinart did, and much more courageous too.

      Now, if the conversation beyond Jews is starting to open up regardless of our wishes; will it lead to anti-Semitism as Phil fears, if there’s too much pushback? Now he does sound like he is voicing (inverted) communal fears, heh.

      But I’m not sure. If there’s a more open debate on Israel then that would mean that there’s a more relaxed attitude about Jewish power and privilege, especially in-between American Jewry. But would that really alliviate anti-Semitism? If people would start paying attention to owners of Hollywood, major media etc then frankly I’m not sure if “opening the conversation” would reduce any anti-Semitism. Holding back might not be what most of us want, in terms of the Israeli debate, but what’s the alternative?

      Because in my mind you cannot explain the total devotion to Israel in our culture, media etc without talking about significant Jewish presence in said institutions.
      But I wouldn’t personally want that conversation; call me selfish. I’d prefer the hideous situation vis-a-vi Israel to be solved without this conversation, but I suspect that it’s impossible.

      • Scott on April 4, 2012, 1:07 pm

        Good catch. Phil’s on an ethnocentric streak today. First his smearing of the goys as golddiggers and now these sly comments.

        I read that marriage money comment differently, as wrongfully dismissing the other qualities of marriageable Jewish men and women. It’s been so long since I dated Jewish girls, I can’t trust completely my memories, but I kind of think he’s wrong. . . .

      • American on April 4, 2012, 1:39 pm

        The situation is the Jewish Zionist either decided ‘to risk ‘ anti-semitism by doing what they are doing in the US and Palestine –or they actually don’t think anti semitism is really a threat no matter what they do.

        And regardless of which of those things they actually believe, bottom line is, it is they who put Jews ‘at risk’ of popular resentment of the Jewish state syndrome by their actions.

        They could quit what they are doing any time if they are that afraid of anti semitism. One reason why I can’t take their anti semitism hysterics seriously.

  3. atime forpeace on April 4, 2012, 9:51 am

    Thanks for the topmost informative lead article of my newsday Phil.

    It looks like hophni is right again, nobody is talking about Beinart and he didn’t start a conversation.

    “Jews don’t want non-Jews in this conversation. Israel was established because we are not safe among the gentiles and we must have sovereignty to be safe; so when non-Jews criticize Israel they’re immediately suspected of seeking to endanger our safety (they must be anti-semites). And you can understand the thinking.”

    Yes Phil we must understand their thinking how can we not.

    “True, it is very difficult to learn the forty-century-long history of a people such as the Jews; but, to start with, this much I know, that in the whole world there is certainly no other people who would be complaining as much about their lot, incessantly after each step and word of theirs, – about their humiliation, their suffering, their martyrdom.” Dostoievsky

    • DICKERSON3870 on April 4, 2012, 12:03 pm

      Not to denigrate Dostoyevsky, but to err “kvetch” is human.
      P.S. Never, ever mix Fyodor Dostoyevsky with Bob Marley! Phil did, and you see what it hath wrought!

  4. pabelmont on April 4, 2012, 10:14 am

    “Jews don’t want non-Jews in this conversation.”

    Phil, consider the parallel question: “Would any decent and sensible person want to allow the discussion of what to do about global warming to occur ONLY within the oil industry executive suites?”

    Phil, you are probably right about the movers and shakers wanting to keep the conversation in the family. My preferences would be to turn the conversation over — at least for the time of a breathing space — strictly to non-Jews, with the general topic “Pro-Palestine and Pro-Peace”. Perhaps such a conversation — if it got enough “play” to be heard in broad public — would show an absolute absence of anti-Semitism [as originally used and understood] and a reasonable concern with Israeli security and Jewish history. Who knows? No-one has tried this experiment in America (as Gandhi said, when asked, “What do you think of civilization in England?” to which he replied, “I think that it would be something worth trying!”)

    It is astounding how Jews will totally ignore the Palestinian dimension of the conflict (except for blaming Palestinians) and consider only to topic “what’s good for the Jews” (as to which topic, their analysis may be good or bad of course, even on its own limited terms, but tends to exaggeration, to say the least, like calling the settlements necessary to Israeli security when Israel has the 4th most powerful military in the world).

    Can you imagine how “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace” Jews would react to my topic: “Pro-Palestine and Pro-Peace” when so expressed (to exclude consideration of the desires, fears, rights, history, etc., of Jews?

    Have you ever listened to a Jr. Hi orchestra where there may be 50 flute and clarinets and 3 violins? The “conversation” needs balance.

  5. ritzl on April 4, 2012, 10:36 am

    Great article. There are so many here.

    Israel is one attack on Iran away (with the economic devastation it would cause) from making this conversation all inclusive. Given that even the minor challenges from outside (or even inside) the Jewish community to Israels “right” to do whatever it wants are deemed anti-semitic, the “safety” issue would be mitigated substantially in the eyes of those that proclaim these things, and as PW points out, even in the eyes of otherwise liberal and questioning Jews.

    I suspect that this is at least part of the Netanyahu plan with his Iran war talk (and the insistence on Israel as “the Jewish State”). To preclude these cracks in the intra-Jewish discussion from widening by forcing/reinforcing an “us against them” mentality. It’s a terribly, terribly dangerous game. For everyone.

    So if MW and Beinart and Remnick et. al. can widen those cracks more quickly/in time, such that Israel feels pressure from a reality (or even the perception) of eroding Jewish support for “right or wrong,” and something changes for the better, more power to you/them. One calculated, stupid move by Israel, and those cracks will disappear in a heartbeat, imo.

  6. annie on April 4, 2012, 10:38 am

    newhouse: If you disagree with the current Israeli administration but don’t regard it as a font of evil and corruption, you are blind, deaf and dumb.

    she’s been reading mondoweiss!

    where would the American public be without Bibi’s opinion?

    Blind deaf and dumb no doubt.

  7. atime forpeace on April 4, 2012, 10:45 am

    Cris mathews would turn such an offer down.

    “My preferences would be to turn the conversation over — at least for the time of a breathing space — strictly to non-Jews,”

    What i see is that Jews in America openly talking about this issue will allow for the non jews in the media to tip toe out of their Stockholm Syndrome condition, out into the room to maybe mention something from their prior lives, before servitude.

    At this moment in time, for non jews in the media this is still the third rail, remember Helen Thomas, Rick Sanchez and the others who dared before the Ubermenshen opened up the forum to allow such talk.

    You will see the media gentile tiptoe out carefully, what happens after carefully is where the danger lies, once the forum is taken over by the vandals and heathen, yes I recognize that there is a lurking danger.

  8. seafoid on April 4, 2012, 10:55 am

    But let’s be clear. The parameters of this conversation are racist. Palestinians, the group most affected by these deliberations, are not invited into the conversation

    Bravo Phil. Allah ya’teek al afya.

    “David Remnick, interviewing Beinart in yet another Jewish conversation at the 92d Street Y last night, surely expressed rage against the settlements”

    Which settlements? Does Remnick consider the Israeli Jews in East Jerusalem as settlers ?

    Anyone who wants to foment real change is going to have to go to Israel and take on the Hydra

    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/giving-up-jerusalem-would-mean-end-of-zionism-1.422493
    “It is impossible to create an ad hoc Zionism which views the Jew who settles in Ramat Aviv as someone moral and the Jew who settles in Jerusalem as a foreign conqueror. Zionism is based on an inseparable connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. Even thousands of years of exile were unable to sever this connection. This is a tie that is so deep that it grants the Jewish people moral preference to the right to the land even over the (small number of ) Arab fellaheen (farmers ) who were living on the land in the early days of Zionism.
    I am not going to enter into the question of whether it is correct to implement this right over the entire land. It is possible that there are places where the demographic reality does not justify continued control over them. But there are places from which withdrawal would be the end of Zionism. “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning.””

    • Les on April 4, 2012, 12:46 pm

      The day Remnick reverses course and comes out against Israel’s occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, is the day he will be fired. He knows who owns the New Yorker and what is expected of him for his generous salary to give direction to this important Israel Lobby outlet.

    • MHughes976 on April 4, 2012, 12:55 pm

      An interesting quote indeed. I think the author, Ronen Shoval, is right that Zionism is a claim to right over all of an undefined area extending from Jerusalem far and wide. Zionism does allow for the possibility that some subset of the land will be conceded by the grace, and entirely at the discretion, of the true heirs. But this amounts to nothing much, since the definition of the place of the fellaheen is always a task for another day and since Jewish interests are treated as so overwhelming that it is impossible that the fellaheen could ever have equal sovereignty.
      The nerve of the argument is that wanting something badly enough entitles you to have it. That’s wrong too.

      • seafoid on April 4, 2012, 3:11 pm

        The real fight is going to be between the Israeli Jews who want to reclaim something for Zionism out of the wreckage of YESHA and those who bet the state of Israel on the status quo enduring.

        When the oligarchs turn it will get very interesting.

  9. American on April 4, 2012, 11:23 am

    ”When are Jews going to feel safe enough to let others in on this conversation about cosa nostra, which happens to affect all Americans? A long time. (Too long for the two state solution, maybe too long even to keep expressions of anti-semitism from rising in the U.S.).”

    The pro Israel Jews need to understand the difference between what they call anti semitism and plain American ‘fed-up-ness” with their psychosis. It’s like having drug addicts in the family and after spending years and years and billions in dollars and treatment on their rehabilitation they still can’t kick their us-others victimhood habit. So what do you do after you have done all you can do and nothing works?… after a while you turn a deaf ear to their squeaking circular hamster wheel and just try to prevent them doing any more damage to the family.
    I don’t think non Jewish Americans can really ‘join’ the Jewish conversation….it’s the ‘Preordained Pilpul Truths’ thing non Jews can’t pentrate. There might be certain points we can cooperate on together but in the main there isn’t a fundamental ‘meeting of the minds’ between Jews and non Jews on the US-Isr-I/P problem.

  10. hophmi on April 4, 2012, 11:47 am

    “And David Remnick, interviewing Beinart in yet another Jewish conversation at the 92d Street Y last night, surely expressed rage against the settlements, and – I bet—staked out a position to the left of Beinart.”

    Nope. They were in agreement on just about everything, though Remnick is way more arrogant than Beinart is. And Peter didn’t call for a boycott of the settlers. He called for a boycott of products made in the West Bank. Peter isn’t excluding Palestinians from the conversation; Yusef Munayyer writes for Open Zion.

    You can praise (and thus damage the credibility of) Peter Beinart all you want, but he is a proud Zionist who believes that what people don’t invest in the settlements, they should invest in Israel proper, and that is not going to change.

    • annie on April 4, 2012, 1:18 pm

      You can praise (and thus damage the credibility of) Peter Beinart

      lol, you crack me up hops. juuuuusssst another gatekeeper.

    • atime forpeace on April 4, 2012, 8:52 pm

      hop, more reasons to be proud of your little piece of heaven on earth.
      from richardsilvertein dot com

      The Committee to Protect Journalists has published its annual ranking of nations who imprison journalists. Israel has the dubious distinction of coming in second in the competition behind Eritrea, one of the most closed societies in the world. Per capita Israel has imprisoned more journalists than Iran.

      Israel Israel rah rah rah!!!

      • Shingo on April 5, 2012, 12:03 am

        Israel has the dubious distinction of coming in second in the competition behind Eritrea, one of the most closed societies in the world. Per capita Israel has imprisoned more journalists than Iran.

        A true light into the nations!!

        That commitee is clearly anti Semitic.

  11. DICKERSON3870 on April 4, 2012, 11:50 am

    RE: “I write about Israel-Palestine issues only occasionally, because the onslaught of emails and comments calling me a self-hating Jew can be emotionally overwhelming.” ~ Dana Goldstein

    ALSO SEE (for the ‘N’th time) – Dear liberal American Jews: Please don’t betray Israel, by Dahlia Scheindlin, +972 Magazine, 2/14/12:

    (excerpts). . . After two weeks in America visiting family and friends, two observations struck me powerfully. First, the understanding that Israel is committing terrible deeds that are destroying itself and its neighbors, has penetrated among you…
    . . . On this trip, I was stunned to learn that now you don’t even really want to visit Israel because you can’t face what you’re increasingly coming to see as a brutal occupying entity flirting with fascist notions. . .
    . . . My second observation is that because of your fear – not of the goyim or the anti-Semites, but of yourselves! – you are keeping a low public profile. On this trip, I suddenly realized how naïve it was to imagine that J Street had sufficiently opened the door for anyone who cares critically for Israel to speak out. I underestimated how deep and terrible the intimidation has become and that one political lobby group is far from enough.
    I do understand: those of you who still call the Jewish community home, are afraid of the onslaught that you will receive from your (our) very own people.
    I hold no illusions about how vicious the attacks might be. We Jews, not the goyim, will call you the most painful names, will threaten in various ways to label you as beyond the pale of your people, should you voice your critique.
    You might be chastised in your professional community. You will be hit not only by shadowy bloggers but by the very cherished and established groups you have loyally, even automatically, supported over the years. The anger might come from your friends and it might even come from your family. . .
    . . . Here’s how that made me feel: abandoned, by the liberal Jews of America. You were swept away by Ruth Wisse’s thesis that liberals betrayed the Jewish cause by believing too much in rational universalism [e.g. universal human rights – J.L.D.] and failing to acknowledge the unique, everlasting threat of anti-Semitism. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://972mag.com/dear-liberal-american-jews-please-dont-betray-israel/35396/

  12. DaveS on April 4, 2012, 12:16 pm

    The outrage directed at Beinart is truly amazing. Zionists should be revering him for his efforts to save the Jewish State from its own worst excesses. Despite all the flaws in his analysis, he is, as Austin Branion said in yesterday’s post, Beinart is “push[ing] the mainstream discourse in a more critical direction.”

    You surely are right about Beinart’s Jewish “bona fides” being an important part of this firestorm. The racism is so pervasive it has almost become invisible. Can you imagine a discussion about the status and safety of French Jews that focused entirely on French gentiles’ opinions and excluded any Jewish voices?

    • Woody Tanaka on April 4, 2012, 2:03 pm

      Beinart’s delusional. He can see that there is massive evils here, and that’s commendable, I guess. But his approach is like a KKKer in the South saying that it’s okay to oppress African Americans, make their lives hell, discriminate them at every turn, but just don’t lynch them. I guess that’s progress, from one perspective but not really.

      He’s even said that he would be willing to simply discard his concerns about human rights, out of his devotion and loyalty to a Judeo-supremacist Israel.

      • breakingthesilence on April 5, 2012, 12:57 pm

        Yes, Beinart opened the Jewish diaspara conversation a notch, but no one seems willing to deal with the real issue, the one that is still taboo, the one that is too terrible to confront though it’s right in front of our noses: the entirety of the Jewish state was stolen from the Palestinian people. Ben Gurion & his terrorist militias stole another people’s land in 1948 and there is not an inch of Israel that belongs to the Israeli thieves. The homes and farms and orchards and businesses and jewelry and livestock and bank accounts of the 740,000 Palestinian civilians who were expelled were stolen. All that land, every inch, is occupied Palestinian territory. Not an inch belongs to the Israeli Jewish thieves. Israel, in truth, has no legitimacy and no right to exist. But that conversation, the real one, has not yet begun in the United States. J Street and the NYTimes and the New Yorker and liberal Zionists are twenty years away from pushing open that door and looking at that truth. JVP and Mondowweiss are perhaps 5 or 6 years away from being able to confront that fundamental fact. All of Israel is stolen Palestinian territory, territory stolen brutally, murderously, remorselessly by the gangster state of Israel. The idea of a Jewish state is the precise moral equivalent of the Aryan state, except that the German Nazis didn’t steal their land from another people.

    • gazacalling on April 4, 2012, 2:27 pm

      I totally agree with Samel.

      I write about Israel-Palestine issues only occasionally, because the onslaught of emails and comments calling me a self-hating Jew can be emotionally overwhelming.

      It’s called having guts. A just cause brings hatred, veritas odium parit.

      [W]hen non-Jews criticize Israel they’re immediately suspected of seeking to endanger our safety (they must be anti-semites).

      This paranoia is a big part of the problem, as seen in early Zionist history. It’s understandable, but still creates more problems than it solves.

      I criticize Israel a) because US policy is directly involved, and 2) because I love Israel. I always try to emphasize that. It’s about Israel’s long-term best interests. Anyone who loves Israel wants her to flourish, and perpetrating horrible injustice never caused anyone to flourish in the long-term. That’s why I like Beinart’s approach, since it starts with solidarity with Israel.

      • Thomson Rutherford on April 4, 2012, 6:04 pm

        I criticize Israel a) because US policy is directly involved, and 2) because I love Israel. I always try to emphasize that. It’s about Israel’s long-term best interests.

        gazacalling, I am curious about your nom des discours. You give no information about yourself (your right), so I would like to ask if you are actually ‘calling’ from Gaza. Do you live there, permanently or temporarily? Really? Do you work for an aid organization from within Gaza? Or are you simply wishing to suggest empathy for the Gazan’s plight while declaring your undying love for their oppressors?

      • gazacalling on April 4, 2012, 9:21 pm

        I’m flattered by your interest! No, I’m not in Gaza. I’ve never been there, though I have a friend who has. The name is just from my favorite Checkpoint303 song.

        Ironically, just last week I made a comment that “outed” my true identity. Funnily enough it did not end up getting posted, which I chalk up to technical issues since I didn’t say anything objectionable. (Unless Phil and Adam were tired of my harping on social issues. The comment was objecting to Phil’s characterization of Catholic positions on life issues as a “dual loyalty.” I was pointing out that objections to abortion and contraception in marriage are totally rational positions, defensible in terms of science, the wider social good and the nature of human love. If a position is a rationally defensible argument about the wider common good, “dual loyalty” simply doesn’t exist, the label is irrelevant.)

        Anyway, I’m a college poli sci prof at a Eastern college in the US. I have tenure now, so nothing really to hide here.

        I know the Israelis oppress the Palestinians and this tears me up inside. But I still believe it’s possible to be in solidarity with the Palestinians and the Israelis. It has to be. Otherwise you’re taking a partisan side and fighting an endless war.

      • Thomson Rutherford on April 5, 2012, 12:35 am

        Thanks, gazacalling, for the clarification. I like your moniker, by the way. You may be one of the few commenters here who don’t have a partisan attitude, one way or the other, about the I/P conflict. At this blog I think most people root for the underdog.

      • Woody Tanaka on April 5, 2012, 5:56 pm

        ” The comment was objecting to Phil’s characterization of Catholic positions on life issues as a “dual loyalty.” I was pointing out that objections to abortion and contraception in marriage are totally rational positions, defensible in terms of science, the wider social good and the nature of human love.”

        Oh, I would LOVE to tear into those arguments. But talk about going off topic…

      • gazacalling on April 5, 2012, 7:06 pm

        Yeah I know! Talk about off topic. It was relevant to Phil’s post on dual loyalty, though not here.

        I absolutely love mixing it up with liberals on social issues, because I have the upper hand: liberals haven’t ever thought seriously about these issues a jot. Everything is about the ideology of adult sexual libertinism for them.

        If you need any evidence of the fact that liberals have never thought through the rationality of their “arguments” on social issues, see the comment sections on these two MW posts, where I take apart all comers: here and here.

        And to read a bit more how social liberalism — that depraved ideology that gave us partial-birth abortion — is willing to ignore science and reason on the abortion issue, click here.

      • Woody Tanaka on April 6, 2012, 10:49 am

        Well, gazacalling, we will have to agree to disagree about basically everything in your posts. Frankly, I saw nothing in the comments in the MW posts to substantiate your belief that you “t[ook] apart all comers.” You certainly stuck to your talking points, but they were not, by and large, in my opinion, very persuasive and, in many places, only cognizable if one adopts a particular religious position a priori.

        and, frankly, the post on the religious site (is it Catholic or Mormon? It says catholic but the “Pearl of Great Price” reference reads Mormon to me.) about abortion was, frankly, embarrassingly bad. Appalling in logic, rhetoric and science.

        It think the article hit its peak (or is it nadir) at: “No woman actually ever wanted to have an abortion,” and supporting the assertion that claim by pretending that the terms “wanted” in this context is synonymous with desire in daydream. What a stupid argument.

        It is like asserting the very false claim that “no person actually ever wanted to have an appendectomy.” That’s absolutely false. People who do no desire the results of not having an appendectomy absolutely want to have the procedure (beats dying of sepsis), even if they never desired it in a daydream when they were children.

        And it certainly falls flat when the ultimate question is whether the procedure should be legal. I may never daydream about having my appendix out, but I sure as hell want it to be available if I need it, even if someone’s religion tells them that it is bad.

      • gazacalling on April 6, 2012, 5:14 pm

        Woody Tanaka, I have to say I’m impressed. You clicked the links and read them. I’m not being facetious either, I really appreciate that. It’s a positive thing to be exposed to views other than one’s own.

        You hit perhaps the core of the argument in the abortion piece, and you make a really good point. In the piece the argument is that any young woman, in the abstract, would never desire an abortion. What you point out is that real life does not work that way. What we want in our daydreams is not necessarily what happens in reality. No one daydreams about getting an appendectomy, in your apt metaphor.

        So it seems you agree that abortion is a bad thing, something no one would want. Correct? Most people do agree with this, outside of the really hard-core abortion doctor sickos.

        I find this to be common ground amongst us, and in our country. Abortion doctors and the Planned Parenthood Lobby aside, we agree that abortions should be limited. Again, correct me if I’m wrong.

        So the disagreement is just over whether it should be a legal option or not. And here the analogy with an appendectomy breaks down. And also your claim that opposition to abortion is based on religious arguments breaks down. That, actually, was the point of the whole piece — to make themselves feel better, liberals rationalize abortion by telling themselves that those who opposite it are just religious fanatics, while they are the enlightened ones who stand on the side of science. But nothing could be further from the truth.

        All 46 human chromosomes are present in a fertilized embryo, but not before. It has multiplying cells, therefore it is alive. According to the basic scientific definition of human life, it seems to be the case then that the fertilized embryo is human. And if it is human life, it deserves to be protected as such. Nothing at all religious about this reasoning. It’s straight-up science.

        No one things an appendix is innocent potential life. Everyone knows that an unborn baby is. Liberals pretend not to know, but they can only keep that up because they are typically insulated in an elite bubble, in a constant state of self-congratulation at how rational and scientific they are, and how religious and closed-minded everyone else it.

        By the way, Judaism thinks life begins at first breath, hence at birth. Under this religious view, it would seem, abortion is perfectly fine. In other words: it takes a religious view or an blinkered ideology to think abortion is OK. It’s the pro-life view that is supported by reason and science. It’s also the view that unites most Americans, that abortions should be limited.

        I wish thoughtful liberals would work to support strong families and limit abortions, rather than shilling for the hard-core pro-partial-birth-abortion crazies and doing everything they can to end all discussion of personal and social responsibility when it comes to sexual mores.

        But hey, I have to give credit to your response here. Thanks for reading the post, it’s great to have a vigorous dialogue (even if it’s so unbelievably off-topic!). :)

      • Mooser on April 6, 2012, 6:32 pm

        “doing everything they can to end all discussion of personal and social responsibility when it comes to sexual mores.”

        So giving people the rights that God gave them, to manage their own lives without some panty-sniffer like you peeking in their bedrooms and their uterus, is “doing everything they can to end all discussion of personal and social responsibility when it comes to sexual mores.”?
        And having the government control your sex life is
        “work to support strong families and limit abortions” Of course, once they have those children to “support strong families” they shouldn’t expect any help from the government, huh? Might undermine their character, huh?

        I’ve been hearing from people like you my whole life. Your schtick isn’t even original. You get turned on by thinking about controlling other people’s sex lives. Why that is, I shudder to think, and I’m glad I don’t know.
        But please, gazacalling, try to be understanding. Not everybody has attained the moral perfection which entitles them to make decisions for others. I’m just amazed you bear the heavy responsibility that comes with it so gracefully.

        Oh BTW, you figure us Jews must abort babies by the truckload, seeing that under “this religious view, it would seem, abortion is perfectly fine.”
        So how much higher is the abortion rate for Jews?

        But I’ll give you this, gaza, wherever you are, however you grew up, you have sure swallowed that religious right nonsense whole. Or maybe the thought of controlling other’s (especially women, damn their original sinning, apple-eating hides) sex lives turns you on in some way. But of course, how could it not, you being so superior to them. I mean, the ones wanting an abortion, of course.

      • Mooser on April 6, 2012, 6:41 pm

        “And to read a bit more how social liberalism — that depraved ideology that gave us partial-birth abortion”

        Amazing! And I thought it was a medical procedure, compelled by medical necessity. I never knew it was a social liberal phenomena.

        Well, thanks for increasing my understanding, “gazacalling”. I am now very aware of how right-wing thinking ties in with Zionism. I mean, you are in favor of Zionism, “gazacalling” aren’t you? Please don’t tell me you are one of those left-wing, socialist anti-Zionists who believe Israel must follow international law, and that the Palestinians, being fairly beaten and outmaneuvered shouldn’t just “lie back and enjoy it”. And the only reason they won’t is out of pure animus against Western Civilisation, advanced social concepts like religious supremacy, and strict gender roles, enforced by government, and of course, strict reproductive rules.

      • Mooser on April 6, 2012, 6:43 pm

        You know, I hate to mention it, but I bet you could find all 46 chromosomes in what I flush down the loo every morning.

      • eljay on April 6, 2012, 10:30 pm

        >> According to the basic scientific definition of human life, it seems to be the case then that the fertilized embryo is human. And if it is human life, it deserves to be protected as such.

        Bullshit. A human embryo is not more important than a live animal. Annually, 14 million fetuses are aborted, while 50 BILLION animals are born, raised under mostly horrific conditions, and then slaughtered – often brutally – so that humans can gorge on meat.

      • annie on April 6, 2012, 11:59 pm

        Oh, I would LOVE to tear into those arguments. But talk about going off topic…

        just click on gaza callings name and check his archives. there are an abundance of threadjacks from the past you could chime in on.

      • annie on April 7, 2012, 12:13 am

        I take apart all comers: here and here.

        nothing like someone declaring themselves the winner. he supposes after he equated gay marriage w/rights for pedophilia no one responded cuz his argument slayed all competition. frankly, it was beneath me to carry on at that pt. but have at it team. thread jack 101 is gazacalling’s calling.

        http://mondoweiss.net/2011/07/marriage-equality-are-we-fighting-to-get-into-a-norman-rockwell-painting-or-for-true-liberation.html/comment-page-1#comment-339923

      • RoHa on April 7, 2012, 2:30 am

        “According to the basic scientific definition of human life, it seems to be the case then that the fertilized embryo is human.”

        A scientific definition is not a moral definition, and you need a moral definition in order to claim “And if it is human life, it deserves to be protected as such.”

      • Woody Tanaka on April 7, 2012, 3:45 pm

        “So it seems you agree that abortion is a bad thing, something no one would want. Correct?”

        You are conflating two things — “bad”-ness and desire. That no one does not desire it does not make it bad. Again, no one desires abdominal surgery, but that doesn’t make it “bad.”

        “we agree that abortions should be limited. Again, correct me if I’m wrong. ”

        Well, it depends on exactly what, and how, that limitation would come about. The pro-choice and anti-choice sides have VERY different views on that. That’s why the phrase is “safe, legal and rare,” because “limitation” is not the only (or even the primary) principle involved.

        “So the disagreement is just over whether it should be a legal option or not.”

        No. There are other disagreements, including whether it is anyone’s business to even decide legality other than the woman involved and her doctor.

        “And also your claim that opposition to abortion is based on religious arguments breaks down”

        I don’t think it HAS to be based on religion. But you would have to be a fool that the primary motivation among those opposed to abortion is religion. It is not exclusively such, as there are non-religious people who are opposed to abortion, but most anti-abortion sentiment, and virtually all anti-abortion organizations, are based in part or whole on religion or religious views.

        And your scientific argument is pitifully weak.

        “All 46 human chromosomes are present in a fertilized embryo, but not before. It has multiplying cells, therefore it is alive. According to the basic scientific definition of human life, it seems to be the case then that the fertilized embryo is human.”

        First, if this argument is an attempt at scientific reasoning, it is a fail from the start. The term “fertilized embryo” when speaking of human reproduction, is an unscientific redundancy, like “frozen tundra.” As all tundra is frozen, all human embryos are fertilized, by definition.

        But, further, if all that were required to declare something “human life” is for it to have 46 chromosomes and cell multiplication, then we would call a cancerous tumor — which has both of those elements — “human life.” Further, under that “definition,” a person with Downs Syndrome would not have “human life” because they have 47 chromosomes.

        So this definition is a complete fail. Stupidly bad.

        A “fertilized embryo” is just that, an embryo. That it is a human embryo, rather than, say, a chicken embryo or a dolphin embryo is interesting trivia, but, itself, carries no moral weight.

        “And if it is human life, it deserves to be protected as such. Nothing at all religious about this reasoning. It’s straight-up science.”

        Wrong. There is nothing in the science (even if it were correct, which it isn’t) which would lead to the moral conclusion that you wish to reach. (That moral conclusion need not be religious, but more often than not it is, or at least, it is asserted to be such by its proponents.) Science can describe the facts concerning the makeup of a fetus, for example, but the moral weight of those facts do not necessarily follow from that factual description.

        The fact that a fetus, if not aborted, might result in the birth of a human being does not establish a moral conclusion, but simply describes the context in which the moral conclusion will be reached.

        “No one things an appendix is innocent potential life. Everyone knows that an unborn baby is.”

        Even the terminology you employ demonstrates that what you are doing is making a moral evaluation, and not science. It’s fine to make a moral conclusion but don’t kid yourself into thinking that you are simply being rational, and that your opponents are living in an elitist bubble or whatever silly metaphor-as-excuse-for-thinking you choose to employ. In doing so, you are making the same error that you claim they are making.

        Further, your use of the word “innocent” is a complete non sequitur. Concepts of guilt and innocent are as irrelevant when discussing a fetus as are concepts of humility and pride or knowledge or stupidity. It is as foolish to talk about an “innocent” fetus as it would be to talk about a “boastful” fetus.

        Abortion isn’t a punishment on a fetus, so the use of the word “innocent” is nothing more than an attempt by the speaker to rhetorically short-circuit the rational portions of the listener’s brain and have the other person react with emotion.

        It is no more apt than it would be for someone to say that abortions should be permitted, but only where the fetuses have gestated with honor, earning the right to be born. The whole concept of applying these propositions to fetuses is ludicrous.

        Further, your statement regarding what all people recognize is an “unborn baby,” also puts the rabbit in the hat. While I would say that there comes a point at which a viable fetus can be termed an “unborn baby,” it is nonsensical to call a blastula-stage embryo or a 12-week old fetus with that term. Again, nothing more than an irrational attempt to trigger emotion in place of thought.

        “It’s also the view that unites most Americans, that abortions should be limited.”

        Again, we’ve already dissected your slippery use of the word “limited,” but I would also point out that in the US, there is a constitutional right to abortion. And so whatever view people have, the law must respect that constitutional right.

        “I wish thoughtful liberals would work to support strong families…”

        I think that one of the biggest issues concerning strong families in the country today is the assault on marriage equity by the religious right-wing. Frankly, anyone who would deny hundreds of thousands of families across the country the legal protections that marriage provides, simply because of their bigoted religious views on homosexuality, really have no business complaining about anyone else on this subject. Attend to the beam in your eye before complaining about the mote in somebody else’s.

        “end all discussion of personal and social responsibility when it comes to sexual mores.”

        When one side takes the position is that they should have a say in controlling someone else’s private sexual life, then the only reasonable thing to do is to end the discussion. It’s none of your business, even if your god has an insane preoccupation with genitalia; you don’t get a veto on what consenting adults do to express their sexuality. Hell, you don’t even get a vote.

        But it seems to me that whenever the subject actually approaches real personal and social responsibility concerning sex — such as making sure young people are informed about things such as condom use — it is those who are religiously motivated who don’t want the conversation to go beyond the dangerously insufficient, such as abstinence-only education, or the flat-out creepy, like “purity vows.”

      • gazacalling on April 9, 2012, 6:55 am

        OK, RoHa, great point. So what’s your moral definition?

        Regarding Annie’s comment, I want to emphasize that I have got into a discussion on social issues on two posts prior to this on MW, which I have already linked everyone to in my comment above. The first was a post on MW on gay marriage. The discussion here was (surprise!) about gay marriage. The other was Annie’s participation in the smearing of a social conservative by a bunch of lowlives, here.

        All three of these contributions have the best interests of this site in mind. If there are posts that are indefensible or wrong, or if Phil says something off-base, my comments pointing this out are in order. It only helps this site if it stays on-topic to the Middle East and avoids ridiculous forays into social liberalism. That just turns a lot of people off who might be your allies, thoughtful people who care about the fate of children and the strength of families in our country.

        My comment here was originally responding to a post by Phil here. In that post, Phil says at the end:

        I must quote Joan Walsh of Salon, appearing on Hardball a few weeks ago, during the federal funding for abortions flap: “The choice issue is a very tough issue, especially for those of us raised Catholic.” Beautiful. A transparent statement about religious-political adhesions, on the part of an outspoken liberal. Chris Matthews is also transparent about his Catholic struggle re choice. When can we have anything like this conversation about Jewishness and Zionism?

        Now, as you can see from my last long comment, this idea of Phil’s that Catholics “struggle with dual loyalty” on some issues is out in left field. Abortion is not a “Catholic” issue at all. It’s a human issue, like slavery or I/P. It’s about the dehumanization of a whole class of people, who are clearly biologically human, but the humanity of which liberals want to deny in order to protect that sacrosanct right to adult sex without any consequences. (What a low, ignoble goal this is: sex without love and responsibility! It’s no wonder the tactics of social liberals follow the Annie/Mooser line of personal attacks, jeers, scatological jokes, and stereotyping. Similar to Israel Lobby tactics, but even more base.) It’s about the common good of the whole society we live in. It makes rational arguments defended by evidence. If anything it’s the other side which is protecting its absolutes with religious fervor, such that it can’t even argue its positions effectively.

      • gazacalling on April 9, 2012, 7:33 am

        Awesome, Woody Tanaka, I appreciate this discussion and the time you took to write that.

        You are conflating two things — “bad”-ness and desire. That no one does not desire it does not make it bad. Again, no one desires abdominal surgery, but that doesn’t make it “bad.”

        So you are saying that abortion is not desirable but not “bad.” So you agree it is not desirable, then? You compare it to an appendectomy, which isn’t “bad.” But of course an appendectomy is actually good, right? We want people whose appendix burst to have an appendectomy, everyone agrees that this is a good thing, and the reason of course is that the person will otherwise die, and life is good. But wait a minute — the unborn child would also live unless something is done to take his or her life. Abortion is precisely taking that life, so as it turns out the reason an appendectomy is good is exactly the same reason that an abortion is not good, because a life is either saved or sacrificed.

        You need to pick a new analogy. The appendectomy example is a bit embarrassing.

        Well, it depends on exactly what, and how, that limitation would come about. The pro-choice and anti-choice sides have VERY different views on that. That’s why the phrase is “safe, legal and rare,” because “limitation” is not the only (or even the primary) principle involved.

        Your answer seems to be saying, “yes.” You agree, then, that abortions should be limited, that limiting it is a good thing.

        [Is the disagreement just over legality?] No. There are other disagreements, including whether it is anyone’s business to even decide legality other than the woman involved and her doctor.

        You used the word “legality” again in your answer here, so it’s difficult to discern what the other disagreements here are.

        I don’t think [opposition to abortion] HAS to be based on religion. But you would have to be a fool that the primary motivation among those opposed to abortion is religion. It is not exclusively such, as there are non-religious people who are opposed to abortion, but most anti-abortion sentiment, and virtually all anti-abortion organizations, are based in part or whole on religion or religious views.

        I know I’m calling into question a sacred stereotype of the elite left, who comfort themselves in thinking that all opposition to them is based on religious superstition and prejudice, while they are the keepers of true enlightened rationality. Though widespread, this comforting myth that makes an insulated group feel good about itself is wrong.

        In my experience there have been prejudiced religious people and prejudiced secular people, as well as open-minded religious people and open-minded secular people. The trick is to focus on the actual arguments, and not get caught up in the stereotypes that mock and put down people of religious faith. If you are open to argument, this marks you as open-minded in my book.

        You admit the arguments do not have to be based on religious faith. If it is true what I say, that the arguments are totally rational and independent of any special faith, then it would be the aggressive secular left that — in this instance — would be acting in a more close-minded way and the religious people who are actually more rational. This tacks against a sacred stereotype, but that’s not a problem unless you think that every single stereotype of the elite left just happens to be 100% true.

        But, further, if all that were required to declare something “human life” is for it to have 46 chromosomes and cell multiplication, then we would call a cancerous tumor — which has both of those elements — “human life.” Further, under that “definition,” a person with Downs Syndrome would not have “human life” because they have 47 chromosomes.

        This is really interesting. You point out that the scientific definition of human life I give does not cover people with Down’s Syndrome. This is a really good point! It would be a horrible thing to start killing other people because we had a narrow definition of humanity, a moral definition we crafted ourselves rather than respecting all human life. Once we start crafting definitions of who is and who isn’t human, we can define things to suit our interests and our racism. I was in Pirna in 2010, that’s the city where the Nazis sent all the handicapped and disabled people to kill them. That was the start of the Holocaust; when the dirty job was done, the doctors from Pirna were sent to the first extermination camps.

        It would be a horrible thing for us to declare, based on some definition we made up of what is true humanity, that people with Down’s Syndrome aren’t truly human, and sent them to a modern-day Pirna to be exterminated. We can all agree on this I think.

        But wait! We do that already. Down’s Syndrome babies are killed in the womb 95% percent of the time. As soon as their mothers hear the news, apparently, they think that their baby is no longer worthy to live, and they decide to kill it. Just last month a couple won a multimillion dollar settlement, because the hospital didn’t tell them their baby had Down’s Syndrome, and they would have aborted him! Millions of dollars in settlement, plus lawyer’s fees — I have a much simpler idea. Wouldn’t it just be easier to kill the child? Just throw it in a ditch and walk away, why go through all the hassle of a lawsuit?

        This is point I’m trying to make and which you have yet to grasp: the burden of proof is not on pro-lifers to somehow demonstrate that a person is worthy of life, is somehow truly human. The burden of proof is rather on the pro-abortion side to show that something is definitively not human life. In the case of a tumor or an appendix, the answer is clear. In the case of an unborn child the answer is also clear: it is clearly the case that an unborn child turns into an adult. This is not magic. Everyone knows it. That’s in fact why people want to kill it, because it is known that it will be a free-standing human being, and that’s what they are trying to prevent.
        And the reason they are trying to prevent it is clear: they don’t want the hassle of raising a child. In other words, selfishness and irresponsibility. The vast majority of abortions are for convenience. But if we apply this logic consistently, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t advocate mass killings of disabled people and other undesirables. It would be so convenient to redefine humanity so as to exclude them.

        This is why the pro-abortion side is not rational, because they are inconsistent in their reasoning. Insisting on some separation of “science” from “morality” won’t help you refute this point; at some point you have to acknowledge the consequences of a consistent application of your own principles.

        Further, your use of the word “innocent” is a complete non sequitur. Concepts of guilt and innocent are as irrelevant when discussing a fetus as are concepts of humility and pride or knowledge or stupidity.

        Is it ok to kill a newborn then? Are you in favor of infanticide? What’s the big difference, really, between a baby that’s about to be born and one who is just born?

        To really think that there’s some big magical difference requires religious belief, like that of Judaism that believes that human life begins with first breath.

        You are actually the one who has to rely on religious belief, while all I need is rationality.

      • annie on April 9, 2012, 10:58 am

        you’re nothing if not predictable gc. this is how, according to you, you “take apart all comers”. by spamming 4 day old threads on your favorite topic, liberals and abortion. then in the future you’ll link to them and pretend you ‘won’ only because you outlasted everyone else.

      • Woody Tanaka on April 9, 2012, 11:28 am

        “So you are saying that abortion is not desirable but not ‘bad.’”

        I am saying that you are conflating the two.

        “So you agree it is not desirable, then?”

        No. It is desirable that it be available as an option, in the same way that an appendectomy is available as an option.

        “But of course an appendectomy is actually good, right?”

        It depends on the circumstances. If all you suffer from is a tooth abscess, an appendectomy is absolutely bad.

        “…everyone agrees that this is a good thing…”

        Bad reasoning. Not everyone agrees that an appendectomy is a good thing, even in the face of death. Some people believe that people should rely on god and trust that he will magically heal the person, and that it is a sin to resort to medicine. There are people to throw their own lives away and that of their children every day for these crazed religious beliefs.

        Others believe- again for religious reasons – that one should not cut any portion of the body off; that it would be better to risk death than amputate part of the body. (Bob Marley’s life was cut tragically short for this very reason, based on his religion, of course.)

        So, no, sadly not everyone agrees that this is a good thing.

        “But wait a minute — the unborn child would also live unless something is done to take his or her life.”

        First, scientifically that is not true. Spontaneous abortion is a very natural, common thing.

        But ignoring that point, you’re treating then end result as if it already occurred. At the point the abortion occurred, there has been no birth, no independent human life. A fetus is not a human being. It is a fetus. Especially when you are talking about, say, a first trimester fetus.

        “so as it turns out the reason an appendectomy is good is exactly the same reason that an abortion is not good, because a life is either saved or sacrificed.”

        Bad reasoning. The reason both are “good” is because we want the person who desires to avoid the consequences of not having the procedure to have the medical option available.

        Besides, you mix up the analogy. The analogous person to the one getting the appendectomy is the woman. We desire these procedures, because we want these people to be able to exercise their autonomy. The analogy to the fetus is the infected appendix.

        “You need to pick a new analogy. The appendectomy example is a bit embarrassing.”

        Not really, you want to pretend that a possible, contingent, future event must be morally considered as if it already happened. That’s stupid.

        “Your answer seems to be saying, ‘yes’” You agree, then, that abortions should be limited, that limiting it is a good thing.”

        No, again you are trying to falsely restate my point. I am saying that it would be preferable that abortions were rare, so long as they were safe and legal; by the latter I mean that the rarity was not a result of artificial social and legal compulsion which is the stock-and-trade of the freedom-hating religious right wing. Them being “limited” is good; you and your ilk “limiting” them is bad.

        “You used the word “legality” again in your answer here, so it’s difficult to discern what the other disagreements here are.”

        There are many disagreements over what regulations are legitimate and which are not. The latest attempt is the Orwellian attempt by the anti-choice movement is to abuse the state’s power of regulation to ban abortion providers by making arbitrary changes and evil and insane regulations, such as the recent ultrasound bills, which were nothing short of regulatory rape.

        “I know I’m calling into question a sacred stereotype of the elite left, who comfort themselves in thinking that all opposition to them is based on religious superstition and prejudice, while they are the keepers of true enlightened rationality. Though widespread, this comforting myth that makes an insulated group feel good about itself is wrong.”

        If you don’t believe that most of the opposition in the US to abortion is based on religious beliefs and driven by organizations that are advancing their positions because of their religion, then you are simply living in a fantasy world. Seriously, it’s not like the anti-choice people hide it.

        “The trick is to focus on the actual arguments, and not get caught up in the stereotypes that mock and put down people of religious faith.”

        How about the other people? Is it okay to talk about “sacred stereotype[s]”? The “elite left”? And to suppose that they aren’t actually considering the points but are “comfort[ing] themselves in thinking that all opposition to them is based on religious superstition and prejudice”? Etc. Etc. You mean like that?? Yeah, you shouldn’t do that.

        “You admit the arguments do not have to be based on religious faith.”

        They don’t have to be, but they most usually are.

        “If it is true what I say, …”

        But it is not true what you say, so you can try to draw any conclusion you want, but when your premise is wrong, so is any such conclusion.

        “This tacks against a sacred stereotype”

        Not this nonsense again…

        “You point out that the scientific definition of human life I give does not cover people with Down’s Syndrome. This is a really good point!”

        Yes, because it demonstrates that the alleged “rational” and “scientific” arguments you think you are making are nothing of the sort.

        “It would be a horrible thing to start killing other people because we had a narrow definition of humanity, a moral definition we crafted ourselves rather than respecting all human life.”

        That is bad reasoning. You presume that humans shouldn’t want to kill things we label “human beings” and want to expand that label, regardless of whether that definition fits or not. A fetus is not a human being. It is a fetus. You can call a dog’s tail, “a leg,” but it still only has four legs.

        “Once we start crafting definitions of who is and who isn’t human, we can define things to suit our interests and our racism.”

        Yes, which is exactly what the anti-choice factions attempt to do by asserting that a fetus is a human being. (Or, even more insanely, that a fertilized ovum is, even prior to implantation. Absolute insanity.)

        “It would be a horrible thing for us to declare, based on some definition we made up of what is true humanity, that people with Down’s Syndrome aren’t truly human, and sent them to a modern-day Pirna to be exterminated. We can all agree on this I think.”

        I think that human beings with Downs Syndrome should enjoy the rights of all human beings. My point was that your supposedly “scientific” definition would have termed a cancerous tumor “human life” but not a person with Downs Syndrome, thus demonstrating that your supposed scientific reasoning was nothing of the sort. You seemed to conflate a genetic pattern with a person. Nonsensical.

        “But wait! We do that already.”

        No we don’t.

        “Down’s Syndrome babies are killed in the womb 95% percent of the time.”

        A fetus with trisomy 21 is still just a fetus. It’s not a baby and it’s not a human being. It’s a fetus. You have a definition error here. A fetus does not have the same moral weight as a person, simply because every person was once a fetus.

        “This is point I’m trying to make and which you have yet to grasp: the burden of proof is not on pro-lifers to somehow demonstrate that a person is worthy of life, is somehow truly human. The burden of proof is rather on the pro-abortion side to show that something is definitively not human life.”

        I understand exactly what you are arguing; I also understand that you are wrong. The burden is on the anti-choice side precisely because you wish to impede women from exercise their autonomy over their own bodies. (And I notice that you never seem to get around mentioning the actual human being in the equation – the pregnant woman – but you are all about the contingent, speculative, potential people. What’s up with that? Is that a case of hatred of women, as many religions demonstrate or simply an oversight?)

        The question isn’t about whether it’s “truly human” or “definitely not human life,” it’s whether a fertilized ovum, an embryo, or a fetus has more rights than the woman in whose body these things might be.

        And if there is any burden of proof on the pro-choice side, it’s long been met, as the courts recognize a constitutional right to such procedures.

        “In the case of an unborn child the answer is also clear: it is clearly the case that an unborn child turns into an adult.”

        No, it’s irrelevant. That a fetus might turn into a person doesn’t mean a fetus is a person and doesn’t mean that a fetus has the rights of a person. A hole in the ground is not a building simple because, if the construction isn’t stopped, a building will appear there one day. It’s still just a hole in the ground.

        “In other words, selfishness and irresponsibility.”

        Not true. Indeed, it’s pretty sick of you to call a woman who was raped or a little girl who is the victim of incest “selfish” and “irresponsible.” What is wrong with you?

        And in those cases where the abortion is because the woman is not prepared to raise a child, so what? She doesn’t want to raise a child, no child yet exists, and no child will exist is the procedure is carried out. There is absolutely nothing selfish and irresponsible in that.

        “But if we apply this logic consistently, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t advocate mass killings of disabled people and other undesirables.”

        You believe that there is any “logic” in that mess you spewed?? Really?? You really can’t see the difference between abortion of a twelve-week old embryo and mass murder of actual, real, human beings?

        “This is why the pro-abortion side is not rational, because they are inconsistent in their reasoning.”

        No, they simply do not start with the presumptions you do.

        “Insisting on some separation of ‘science’ from ‘morality’ won’t help you refute this point; at some point you have to acknowledge the consequences of a consistent application of your own principles.”

        Your problem is a gross and repeated logical failure, because you seek to treat a fetus or an embryo as something it is not.

        “Is it ok to kill a newborn then?”

        No. But it is not because the newborn is “innocent.”

        “What’s the big difference, really, between a baby that’s about to be born and one who is just born?”

        That is a different and more interesting question. I believe that the moral conclusions are different when a point of viability is reached. (But only because a fetus at the point of viability is not the same as, say, an embryo.) That does not mean that I think abortion can be rightly outlawed at that point, of course. I believe, however, that the arguments are different.

        “To really think that there’s some big magical difference requires religious belief, like that of Judaism that believes that human life begins with first breath.”

        Then argue that point with someone who holds those beliefs.

        I also noticed that you didn’t respond to my point regarding the fact that the most anti-family initiative in the country today is the effort by the right wing to implement marriage inequity and to punish the children of gay couples by stripping them of the protection which they should enjoy. Can I take if from your silence that you agree?

      • eljay on April 9, 2012, 6:44 pm
      • gazacalling on April 10, 2012, 5:03 pm

        Annie, why don’t you engage, and start making real arguments?

        This is the first time I’ve talked about abortion before on MW, ever, and only because Phil brought it up. Hardly my favorite topic.

        I like discussing things, that’s what being able to comment was all about. I know on social issues liberals prefer an echo chamber where all they hear is their own views.

      • annie on April 10, 2012, 5:07 pm

        if you want to engage what are you doing on a 6 day old thread? look at the front page and try commenting on topic in one of the threads.

        also, since you already linked to the past threads (where you claimed victory over our arguments) it’s not that hard finding reference to abortion which you claim not to have referenced. right here:

        http://mondoweiss.net/2011/07/marriage-equality-are-we-fighting-to-get-into-a-norman-rockwell-painting-or-for-true-liberation.html/comment-page-1#comment-338484

        http://mondoweiss.net/2011/07/marriage-equality-are-we-fighting-to-get-into-a-norman-rockwell-painting-or-for-true-liberation.html/comment-page-1#comment-338833

        http://mondoweiss.net/2011/07/marriage-equality-are-we-fighting-to-get-into-a-norman-rockwell-painting-or-for-true-liberation.html/comment-page-1#comment-339436

      • gazacalling on April 11, 2012, 1:44 pm

        I don’t understand what your comment means, Annie.

      • gazacalling on April 13, 2012, 10:49 am

        I’m really mystified as to why my follow-up comment is being blocked. What policy is it violating? Please advise. I’m not attacking anyone, just answering the arguments provided by Woody Tanaka. Am I permanently banned from this thread? Under what part of the comments policy does this fall under?

        Remember: I would love nothing better than if MW would stick to the Middle East and stop its embarrassing forays into marriage and family issues. I think the best interests of the site are served by staying on topic.

        But once broached, banning me commenting on this topic in the middle of a vigorous back-and-forth seems low. Like you’re afraid of arguments and would rather shut them down then allow them to be aired. That seems really beneath you guys, to do that to a loyal supporter.

      • Woody Tanaka on April 13, 2012, 12:28 pm

        I would rather the conversation continue, as well.

      • gazacalling on April 18, 2012, 4:37 pm

        Woody Tanaka, what’s the difference between “desirable” and “bad” in your view? You’ve been using this distinction but I’m confused by what you mean by it.

        Regarding the appendectomy analogy, answer me this: is saving a life a good thing? Is living good? Is life good? I want to hear your view, not a recitation of what other people think. If life is good, then saving someone from dying by an appendectomy is good. This doesn’t seem like bad reasoning to me, just common sense.

      • gazacalling on April 22, 2012, 1:15 pm

        Well, after having tried and failed for ten days or so to get my (nonoffensive) comment published, I wanted to just mention how down I feel right now about Mondoweiss.

        I suppose I’ll still give money in the future, but to me this episode is really disheartening. If there are defining characteristics of Phil Weiss and Mondoweiss, it’s bold courage. If there is anything that describes a vigorous back-and-forth about abortion taking place on a liberal website, it’s boldness and courage. But stepping in, censoring me and ending this discussion is cowardly, the opposite of everything I thought defined MW.

        I’m saddened because I yearn for bridges to be built across political divisions, to find common ground on issues as important as I/P. If the problem of the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians is going to be solved, it is by reaching out and forming a broad political coalition. There’s no inherent reason why pro-lifers cannot be a part of this coalition. If there is a hearty group of people who are unbowed in the face of stereotypes, jeers and mockery, it is pro-lifers. These are the type of people you want on your side, especially when you are attempting something as difficult as changing public discourse on Israel-Palestine.

        Remaining in a small little liberal cocoon, where one’s feelings about issues are more important than any actual change for the better, is the recipe for zero progress on Israel-Palestine in American politics.

      • Woody Tanaka on June 1, 2012, 6:40 pm

        @gazacalling, I didn’t see your April response…

        I’m using those words in their common meanings: “Desirable” is worth having or advisable. “Bad” is harmful; not good; wicked; evil.

        “Regarding the appendectomy analogy, answer me this: is saving a life a good thing? Is living good? Is life good? I want to hear your view, not a recitation of what other people think.”

        The problem with your question is that you are seeking absolute answers to questions that do not have absolute answers (presumably so that you can draw a conclusion through some sort of inductive reasoning process.) I am trying to explain myself by pointing out the limitations to the questions, because “it depends” would be, I would assume, a fundamentally unsatisfactory answer to you.

        “is saving a life a good thing?”
        It depends. If the person is Stalin or Hitler, no. If the person is dying of an incurable disease that leaves them in excrutating pain 24/7, perhaps saving that person’s life is a bad thing. If the person believes that it is better to die than to get an operation (as a lot of religious people think), not to them.

        “Is living good?”
        It depends. Do you have a crippling disease that makes living moment to moment unbearable? Then maybe it isn’t good.

        “Is life good?”
        It depends. What kind of life are you talking about? The flesh-eating bacteria that disfigured that poor girl in Georgia has life. I would rather all of that life be eradicated. Are you only talking about human life? Sometimes it is, sometimes it is not. More often the former than the latter, but not always.

        The same with an appendectomy. You cannot say that an appendectomy is always good. If one is an undiagnosed hemopheliac who is misdiagnosed with appendecitis, it is a very, very, very bad thing.

        “If life is good, then saving someone from dying by an appendectomy is good.”

        What, then, if that person values adherence to religious dogma which prohibits surgery more than their own life?

  13. Chespirito on April 4, 2012, 12:19 pm

    It’s pathetic, and instructive, to read Dana Goldstein’s usage of the historically freighted oxymoron “deliberate speed” in The Nation. (Goldstein writes that she “support[s] the international community moving with deliberate speed to pressure the Netanyahu administration to end the occupation and create a viable Palestinian state.”)

    “Deliberate speed” comes from the Brown v. Board of Ed decision 58 years ago. The oxymoronic phrasing was ridiculed by progressives then as a euphemism for foot-dragging stasis. But here we have a nice liberal using it without any irony whatsoever, and her editor at the Nation didn’t see a problem with it either. I’m a former Nation intern and feel some attachment to the magazine so I can’t help but wonder, what are they doing publishing “deliberate speed”-freaks like Dana Goldstein and, presumably, Ben Adler on this issue? This is the kind of thing conservative American southerners wrote in the 50s and 60s, it is not remotely liberal or progressive. Ps: Who gives a toss about the “anguish” of middle-class American Zionists? I’m sick of hearing about it. Visit Qalandiya, write about the anguish of a few hundred thousand Palestinians living is refugee camps!

  14. MHughes976 on April 4, 2012, 12:41 pm

    ‘Deliberate speed’ was quoted, consciously I’m sure, from the impressive and famous, perhaps only famous, poem ‘The Hound of Heaven’ by Francis Thompson, published in the 1890s. He was a committed Catholic and an opium addict, perhaps with strange visions. The Hound, seeking to catch, ie save, the soul keeps going at an even pace – divine constancy vs. human flightiness and evasiveness. If Obama could give the impression of overwhelming power, determination and benevolence that might be good. But will he?

    • Chespirito on April 4, 2012, 4:23 pm

      Thank you MHughes976, that is enlightening. I wonder however if Ms. Goldstein is consciously alluding to the Thompson poem or just parroting the verbiage from the Brown decision.

    • American on April 5, 2012, 3:29 pm

      Hounds of Heaven…haven’t thought of it in some time, but always one of my favorites. Does remind me of where Obama, US, world is now.

      ‘I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
      I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
      I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
      Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
      I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
      Up vistaed hopes I sped;
      And shot, precipitated,
      Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
      From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
      But with unhurrying chase,
      And unperturbèd pace,
      Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
      They beat—and a Voice beat
      More instant than the Feet—
      ‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me’

  15. American on April 4, 2012, 12:56 pm

    My latest email from AIPAC. Notice the lie about how Iran threatened to obliterate America, as well as Israel. ..guess they need the American threat to justify the A in AIPAC. lol AIPAC’s effort to recruit non Jews and specifically niches like blacks and Hispanics is one reason why I think the American discussion on Israel must be one on it’s own. There is nothing in support of Israel for blacks or Hispanics…AIPAC might be able to ‘buy’ a few but I don’t think black or Hispanic communities are as naive as AIPAC presumes….they will ask what’s in it for them and realize the answer is ‘nothing’ but maybe a free trip to DC or Israel for a few of them.

    April 4, 2012

    Dear Friend of Israel:

    Throughout the history of Israel and the Jewish people, there have been times
    when we as a people were victims, and times when we were victors.

    In the 1930s we failed the test. We were powerless to change the course of events
    in Europe. The Jewish people were victims.

    In the 1950s we lobbied for bipartisan support of the new Jewish state as well as
    for aid packages that helped Israel absorb Holocaust survivors and grow. We met
    the test. And we have a homeland today as a result.

    But now, that homeland’s position is as precarious as it has ever been.

    The Arab world surrounding Israel is in turmoil, and Islamic extremism is in
    ascent. On Israel’s borders, there are estimated to be more than 200,000 Hamas,
    Hizballah, Syrian and Iranian rockets aimed at Israel’s citizens.

    And in Teheran, Iran’s leaders continue to call for Israel and America’s
    destruction, while rapidly advancing a nuclear weapons program to do so.

    There is still time to change the course of these latest threats…time to ensure
    we are victors, not victims.

    But we need your help to do this.

    YOU can help decide if AIPAC has the resources to do all the work necessary to
    keep America and Israel safe at this critical moment.

    For as successful as AIPAC members have been in working with our leaders in
    Washington, we don’t have enough political activists to engage all the candidates
    who will soon be making decisions in Congress for the very first time.

    As successful as our college program is, the fact is that AIPAC still doesn’t
    have a presence on many of the four year colleges in America.

    As successful as we are in reaching beyond the Jewish community, we have limited
    staff dedicated to helping educate and involve pro-Israel Christian, Hispanic and
    African American communities nationwide. We need many more staff and many more non Jewish leaders engaged in our critical work.

    History is once again calling. How will we answer?

    Your support of AIPAC can help us make the difference. And you can start now with
    a simple click of your mouse.

    Your support is all it takes.

    Your support can help us work with Congress to get tougher Iran sanctions bills passed and implemented.

    Your support can help bring student body Presidents from campuses around the country to Washington.

    Your support, along with others in the pro-Israel community, will ensure that at
    this moment history, America and Israel will win.

    Thank you in advance for your help and support.

    Sincerely,

    Jonathan E. Missner
    Director of National Affairs and Development

    P.S. We don’t serve in the IDF. We don’t live among the rockets that threaten
    Israel’s citizens each day. But here in America, you and I have a way to make a
    difference.

    • Woody Tanaka on April 4, 2012, 2:06 pm

      Once again, the loyalty to this foreign entity by this group is disgusting and put on display:

      “And we have a homeland today as a result.”

      Who’s “we”? I thought AIPAC was supposed to be made up of Americans. Wouldn’t “our” homeland be America?

    • Mayhem on April 5, 2012, 1:26 am

      @American: Don’t get too complacent (unless you have information they’re bluffing) about Iran’s attitude to America – remarks about Iran threatening America are widespread. Most recently an Iranian commander has called openly for America’s destruction. AIPAC are not lying – you as per usual don’t know what you are talking about.

      • American on April 5, 2012, 2:58 pm

        You’re such an funny Mayhem…. lol. You ‘wish’ I didn’t know what I’m talking about. Everyone here knows the same things I know.
        AIPAC always lies. Israel always lies. That is the first thing everyone knows.

  16. maggielorraine on April 4, 2012, 4:38 pm

    “And you can understand the thinking. Israel was a concerted community project in the wake of the Holocaust, in which half of European Jewry was exterminated; and Israel’s protection inside the U.S. power structure is such a crucial part of that project that there is the highest community taboo on any American Jew who would criticize it and give fuel to Israel’s enemies. ”

    This whole sentence annoyed the hell out of me.

    • American on April 5, 2012, 3:08 pm

      “”Israel’s protection inside the U.S. power structure is such a crucial part of that project that there is the highest community taboo on any American Jew who would criticize it and give fuel to Israel’s enemies. ””

      It annoys me too. But it’s mostly true.

  17. lysias on April 4, 2012, 7:21 pm

    M.J. Rosenberg’s Huffington Post piece on Beinart’s book is worth a read: Freedom of Speech Except When It Comes to Israel.

    • American on April 5, 2012, 3:56 pm

      Huum…I have to up my rating of Beinart for this:……

      “Beinart exposes AIPAC as utterly uninterested in any value other than power itself, particularly the power to intimidate Congress. He demonstrates how the Holocaust is blatantly exploited to build support for Netanyahu and the occupation even by organizations (like the American Jewish Committee) which were close to indifferent to anti-Semitism in Europe when it was occurring. It is always shocking to read that the now Holocaust-obsessed organizations like the American Jewish Committee and AIPAC rarely brought up the Holocaust in a political context until after the 1967 Six Day War. As Beinart notes:

      Before 1967, in keeping with their effort to link the struggle against anti-Semitism to the struggle against bigotry more generally, American Jewish groups had more frequently universalized the lessons of the Holocaust. In 1960 when Israel arrested and tried…Adolph Eichmann, the ADL insisted that the trial was not a case of ‘special pleading’ for Jews because ‘what happened to the Jews of Europe…can very well happen to other peoples.’ The American Jewish Committee declared that the trial was aimed at combatting all forms of “hatred and totalitarianism….’ But in the 1970’s American Jewish organizations began hoarding the Holocaust, retelling it as a story of the world’s eternal hatred of Jews and linking it to criticism of Israel…[In 1981], as part of its bid to prevent the Reagan administration from selling AWACS surveillance planes to Saudi Arabia, AIPAC sent a copy of the novel Holocaust to every member of Congress.
      For me, the best part of Beinart’s book is the section I refer to as “Myths & Facts.” He takes every major propaganda point that is used by the right to support the status quo and demonstrates that it is based on distortions, if not out-and-out lies.

      These distortions include the myths:
      •That Israel has “no partner” with whom to negotiate.
      •That Israel has offered the hand of peace to its neighbors since its founding.
      •That Israel needs the West Bank for security purposes.
      •That Israel will not automatically become an apartheid state if its keeps the occupied territories while denying their inhabitants the franchise and equal rights.
      •That Ariel Sharon withdrew from Gaza as a step toward peace rather than as a device to. permanently prevent the creation of a Palestinian state.
      •That Hamas initiated the 2008-09 Gaza war without extreme provocation from Israel.
      •That the Arab states and the Palestinians do not accept Israel’s right to exist when every Arab state and the Palestinians twice agreed to the Arab League Initiative which offers Israel peace, security and the normalization of relations in exchange for ending the occupation of the ’67 lands. (Israel and its American cutouts ignored the offer).
      Beinart is not arguing that the Palestinians are always right. Instead, he proves that Israel isn’t either — and that almost all the information put out by the lobby and the Israeli government is propaganda.

      You doubt that? How many people do you know who believe that Israel offered the Palestinians virtually everything at Camp David in 2000, only to have the Palestinians walk away? As Beinart demonstrates and was proven by Clayton Swisher in The Truth About Camp David, and in a half-dozen other volumes, there was no “generous offer” and the Palestinians didn’t walk away either.”

      Obviously this book was written for mainly Jews. Interestingly, Carter’s book which was also honest was vilified even by Democratic party. W& M were also vilified for the Israel Lobby. I’d say Beinart’s book is the ‘third strike and they’re out’ if US Jews and Israelis don’t heed this one. We’re seeing all the typical vilification—-is there some reaction from average Jews on it yet?
      Who even speaks for average Jews anyway? I have no idea where to look for that.

      • Mooser on April 6, 2012, 6:53 pm

        “Who even speaks for average Jews anyway? I have no idea where to look for that.”

        Why, the “Jewish Community” of course. If you Google it, you can go to jewishcommunity.com and you will find completely objective, disinterested and brutally fair answers to all your questions. Wait a minute, pal, are you laughing and saying “why should I believe them, since they are so obviously subjective, very interested, and obviously unfair” Well, there’s an ugly name for asking that kind question!

  18. dbroncos on April 4, 2012, 11:00 pm

    Excellent article Phil. In listening to Beinart’s interview yesterday I was most impressed by his intelligent strategy:

    1. Forget the rightwingers, they’re a lost cause.

    2. Invite liberal Zionists, with gentle, reassuruing tones, to uncover their eyes and ears and say out loud what they know to be true – the tide is rising against Zionism and its contrdictoriness to liberal democracy.

    Beinart himself is hard to figure. I’m not convinced by his professed commitment to Zionism. His quest reminds me of Descartes setting out to prove the existence of God. In the end his work went along way towards proving the opposite.

  19. Justice Please on April 5, 2012, 5:21 am

    “This is why there’s far more criticism of Israel in Israel than here; we don’t trust the goyim.”

    Thanks for the honesty, Phil. But see, Jews don’t have to fear non-Jews per se. Only racist and criminal Jews have to fear justice-minded people.

  20. piotr on April 6, 2012, 10:51 pm

    “Terry Gross berated Jimmy Carter on Fresh Air.

    She was very respectful toward Beinart yesterday ”

    Some people seem to believe that Jews rule the world. Jimmy Carter? Not so much.

  21. wondering jew on April 7, 2012, 5:46 am

    Americans must have this conversation, granted. But American Jews must have this conversation as well. You object because the American Jewish conversation is taking place on the American airwaves and the American conversation is not taking place and conversation of the A.J. is taking the time and airwaves that should be devoted to the American conversation. Okay, granted.
    I would not label that racism. But you do. You are too free with the term, in my opinion, but political correctness and terminologies are given to semantics and definitions.

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