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Fallows: A free society must reckon with Blumenthal’s book, as it did with ‘Grapes of Wrath’ and ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’

Israel/Palestine
on 89 Comments

Video streaming by UstreamLast week in a breakthrough, Max Blumenthal spoke at the New America Foundation, and Jim Fallows was there and has published surely the most important piece on Blumenthal’s book yet, inasmuch as he has broken the mainstream taboo on Goliath and called it out in doing so. He says the book must be reckoned with if we call ourselves a free society, in the same way that other polemics have been granted a mainstream audience, from The Shame of the Cities to The Jungle to The Grapes of Wrath to Gentleman’s Agreement to The Autobiography of Malcolm X to Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Good company, huh? 

Fallows is leery of endorsing Blumenthal’s outlook entirely, but he seems to know that Blumenthal is right: “ I can say that Blumenthal has made a sobering prima facie case that there are extreme forces to be aware of, and reckoned with more fully [than the] American discourse usually does.”

Here are some excerpts of Fallows’s comments:

I wasn’t involved in inviting Max Blumenthal, but having read his book before the session and now having heard him speak, I am glad that New America and its president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, stood by their invitation. That was the right call on general free-speech principles, and also because this book should be discussed and read…

The case against Goliath, summarized here, is that it is so anti-Israel as to represent not journalism or reasonable critique but bigoted propaganda; plus, that in being so anti-Israel it is effectively anti-Semitic. With a few seconds of online search, you can track down the now-extensive back and forth. The furor has certainly helped publicize the book, but to me those claims about it seem flat mischaracterizations. Goliath is a particular kind of exposé-minded, documentary-broadside journalism whose place we generally recognize and respect.

The purpose of this book is not to provide some judicious “Zionism at the crossroads” overview of the pluses and minuses of modern Israel. That is not the kind of writer Max Blumenthal is. His previous book, Republican Gomorrah, was about the rise of the Tea Party and related extremist sentiment within the GOP. In that book he wasn’t interested in weighing the conservative critique of big government or teachers’ unions or Medicaid. That’s Brookings’s job.

…His ambition in Goliath is similar. He has found a group of people he identifies as extremists in Israel—extreme in their belief that Arabs have no place in their society, extreme in their hostility especially to recent non-Jewish African refugees, extreme in their seeming rejection of the liberal-democratic vision of Israel’s future. He says: These people are coming, and they’re taking Israeli politics with them. As he put it in a recent interview with Salon, the book is “an unvarnished view of Israel at its most extreme.” Again, the power of his book is not that Blumenthal disagrees with these groups. Obviously he does. It comes from what he shows.

To see for yourself, just watch a few minutes of the video Blumenthal and his associates made a few months ago, about recent anti-African-immigration movements. The narration obviously disapproves of the anti-immigrant activists, but that doesn’t matter. The power of the video comes from letting these people talk, starting a minute or so in…

Someone other than me can put in perspective all the offsetting forces within Israel’s current political-social dynamics. But I can say that Blumenthal has made a sobering prima facie case that there are extreme forces to be aware of, and reckoned with more fully that American discourse usually does. And, very importantly, his doing so is no more “anti-Israel,” let alone anti-Semitic, than The Shame of the Cities and The Jungle and The Grapes of Wrath were anti-American for pointing out extremes and abuses in American society.

Or Death At Any Early Age or The Octopus or Black Like Me or Gentleman’s Agreement or An American Dilemma or The Other America or The Autobiography of Malcolm X or Mississippi Burning or Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee or any other documentary/dramatized polemic about American injustice. Or any more than David Simon’s magnificent The Wire saga was anti-American in portraying a society that, from top to bottom and in ways big and small, was violent and predatory and corrupt…. Free societies need this kind of cleansing discussion, and they need to be able to tolerate and hear it even when it’s “unbalanced” or “goes too far.”..

Maybe Blumenthal’s perspective and case are wrong. But he is documenting things that need attention; no one has suggested that he is making up these interviews or falsifying what he’s shown on screen. If he is wrong, his case should be addressed in specific rather than ruled out of respectable consideration. If he’s right, we should absorb the implications.

I’d add that I made a very similar argument re The Israel Lobby, back in 2007, that it was an American polemic like The Silent Sea, the Jungle, and Unsafe at Any Speed — “journalism whose place we generally recognize and respect,” per Fallows. And why is it that that place is not recognized and respected here? And there is much more diversity in Israel? Because of the Israel lobby’s role as gatekeeper inside the U.S. discourse.

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89 Responses

  1. Citizen
    Citizen
    December 9, 2013, 12:29 pm

    Kerry spoke on saturday last , repeated on CPAN now. He says (at Zionist Saban forum), only diplomacy lives up to standards. Israel will be safer the day his plan is implemented re Iran.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      December 9, 2013, 1:30 pm

      “Israel will be safer the day his plan is implemented re Iran.”

      How disgusting that the US secretary of state has to try to sell a plan that is objectively good for the US, while in the US, by talking about an alien state. Get money out of politics so that America will be run for the sake of Americans, again.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 9, 2013, 3:55 pm

        I agree with you regarding Israel. I wish that it was treated proportional to its size and so the world thought about Israel as little as they do about Guinea, the Dominican Republic or Belarus. I think the excessive focus is bad and frankly anti-Semetic.

        But given the excessive focus I don’t think what Kerry is doing is disgusting. Neoconservatives are firmly of the opinion that war with Iran is objectively good for the USA and peace with Iran objectively bad. One of the primary arguments being raised by neo-conservatives so as to influence other conservatives is that the Iranian agreement is anti-Israel. There are people in the United States that are not naturally in favor of USA imperialism but do see Israel as a vital natural interest, and are influenceable by neo-conservatives most especially Christian Zionists. I think it is Kerry’s job to counter such arguments. That’s democracy to debate the issues. Support for Israel is not a property of corruption it is a deeply held value.

        Moreover if one doesn’t believe Americans should care about the welfare of alien peoples then who cares what the Israelis do the Palestinians? That counter argument undermines most of the topic here. The whole reason there is a Palestinian question as an international question is because people do care about the goings on in that alien state.

      • piotr
        piotr
        December 9, 2013, 5:57 pm

        I would not go overboard. Israel has the population, national income etc. roughly at par with Belgium. I am sorry to say but in the international food section of my supermarket there is nothing from Belgium (but there is something in chocolate section). It would be really nice to hear Senate discussions if some of the policies either proposed in the chamber or by the Administration are sufficiently aligned with the wishes of Belgian government or Belgian-American Political Action Committee (while not widely known, BAPAC is also accepting membership from Belorus-Americans, Belizians etc.)

        Strangely enough, I-countries seem to be most problematic. The British get troubles with the Irish and Icelanders (my sympathies follow letter B, but confusingly, the British are listed under “U”), China with India, and of course the famous disagreement between Israel and Iran. At least Iran-Iraq war is over.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        December 9, 2013, 6:48 pm

        “I think the excessive focus is bad and frankly anti-Semetic.”

        Oh, what a load of victim-mongering crap. If Guinea, Dominican or Belarus was a European colonial project, like israel, and if they ran an ethno-religious apartheid state and held millions as virtual serfs for three generations, the world would focus on them, too.

        “But given the excessive focus I don’t think what Kerry is doing is disgusting.”

        Then you have a stronger stomach than I do.

        “One of the primary arguments being raised by neo-conservatives so as to influence other conservatives is that the Iranian agreement is anti-Israel.”

        And Kerry’s job should be explaining and persuading them why the neocons are wrong in this approach; that they should be caring about the USA, not this alien state.

        “There are people in the United States that are not naturally in favor of USA imperialism but do see Israel as a vital natural interest”

        Yes, these are people who give allegiance to a foreign state, sometimes even above that they give to the US. We should, as a country and as a people, be working to cut those people out of political power, not empowering them or appeasing them.

        “Support for Israel is not a property of corruption it is a deeply held value. ”

        Whose support? The support by US politicians is significantly bought and paid for. Most Americans want the US to treat the israelis and Palestinians in a way which does not favor either side; the US politicians support everything the israelis do. “corruption” is a pretty tame way of describing that situation.

        “Moreover if one doesn’t believe Americans should care about the welfare of alien peoples ”

        I didn’t say that. I said they should care about this alien STATE (i.e., this Judep-supremacist apartheid state). The US should do everything in its power to ensure the liberation of the Palestinian people and to further the equality in every way, and the full political and human rights of everyone in Palestine, regardless of their ethnicity or religion. It is the wicked ideology of zionism which is the evil that must be destroyed. To its shame, the US helps that wicked ideology.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 10, 2013, 10:29 am

        @Piotr

        That does happen. All the time in commerce or defense there are discussion about aligning with the EU/NATO. For the EU in particular the term is “Brussels” which happens to be in Belgium. :)

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 10, 2013, 10:57 am

        @Woody

        Whose support? The support by US politicians is significantly bought and paid for. Most Americans want the US to treat the israelis and Palestinians in a way which does not favor either side; the US politicians support everything the israelis do. “corruption” is a pretty tame way of describing that situation.

        Do you have any evidence that most Americans want a US policy of neutrality? The statistics I’ve seen show pretty strong support for Israel broadly in the public. Among them huge chunks of the public want Israel to take an even more violent position towards the Palestinians. A similarly sized chunk wants the USA to be mostly indifferent and uninvolved. I see almost no support in the USA population for your position that the USA should threaten a close ally with a nuclear arsenal a first class intelligence service on an issue they consider core to their well being because the UN wants us to. So where is your evidence that the US public supports that? I’ve never seen it.

        As for peoples vs. states I don’t know what you are talking about. I can see a moral basis based on nationalism for not allowing affinities to foreign states/peoples. I can see a moral basis based on humanism for allowing affinities to foreign states/peoples. I can’t see any moral basis for despising affection for foreign states while adoring affection for foreign peoples. The way governments interact with foreign peoples institutionally is through their states. There may be cultural or interpersonal interactions that occur at non-state levels but the governments engage those by either encouraging or discouraging those interactions.

        If Guinea, Dominican or Belarus was a European colonial project, like israel

        Belarus is of course a European colonial project, just like all of Europe. The Bandkeramik cultures were weakened by Asian invaders and so the first the Baltic peoples then the Slavs pushed the natives out and moved in. That’s who lives there now.

        The Dominican Republic is quite literally where Columbus setup his colony. The native population died from European diseases and the population that lives there are all from the European colonial project of the triangle trade (slave trade) that the island of Hispaniola focused its economy on. Of course the Dominican Republican is a European colonial project! As is just about every country on the entire continent it is a part of.

        As for Guinea, it was a Fulani colonial project not a European one. I’m not sure why that matters, but evidently you think it does. OK but since these aren’t Europeans let’s look at this state, one you are likely to be less emotional about. So given you are opposed to migrations, what should happen to the population of Guinea? They did destroy the society, language, religion and culture of the indigenous population. The Berber states (where the Fulani originated) no longer exists but Algeria does. Should they be forcibly moved back to Algeria? What do we do with the current inhabitants of Algeria that they would displace?

        More generally how would doing this be a good thing? Why should I be opposed to the population of Guinea when every country, every society on this planet is the result of mass migrations what you want to call colonialism? Why not just accept that peoples are not stable and they migrate around the masses of this planet trying to build homes. Certainly some societies rise and others fall as a result. But that’s the cycle of life.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 11, 2013, 2:23 pm

        @JeffB
        It’s not a mere matter of who cares what the Israelis do to the Palestinians, but that US taxpayers enable Israel to do it, and US veto in UNSC immunize Israel from any accountability for what it does to the Palestinians.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 11, 2013, 5:46 pm

        @Citizen —

        It’s not a mere matter of who cares what the Israelis do to the Palestinians, but that US taxpayers enable Israel to do it, and US veto in UNSC immunize Israel from any accountability for what it does to the Palestinians.

        Let me hit both of those briefly.

        On subsidies… they aren’t really that high anymore. Mostly what helps Israel is technology transfers and the general feeling of support they get from knowing the US Army has their back. Israel’s natural interests and the USA’s natural interests are very dissimilar. What the USA is buying is Israel doing what we want on issues on which it would otherwise naturally have very different policy. We also avoid Israel freelancing in search of weapons suppliers. However dangerous Israel is now to world peace, imagine if it were a free agent: proliferating weapons including nuclear technology to win friends and get natural resources, pursuing its natural interests in support non-Arabic / non-Muslim Middle Eastern people’s in gaining independence, and trading intelligence as it saw fit. That’s one alternative. Another alternative is that Israel immediately finds another sponsor like Russia, China or India and starts aggressively supporting their aims for the region against US / European interests. Etc…

        I’d ask you in what way is our military relationship with Israel different than say our relationship with Japan? Japan and Israel are both vassals of the United States. Japan and Israel are both rather racist in their legal policies. In the case of Israel there is a huge lobby that complains in the Japan no one questions the right of the Japanese to reject anyone but their own ethnicity settling long term on their island.

        ___

        Now in terms of the UN. You tell me. Assume the USA doesn’t use its veto but doesn’t change its military relationship nor is it willing to enforce sanctions. How do they get enforced? The very basics. Who is going to put a navy in the Mediterranean Sea capable of handling IDF air attacks (and the IDF’s air capacity is no joke) and capable of stopping or even monitoring shipping to and from Israel?

        The UN hates Israel. If having the UN say mean things about you had consequences Israel would be barren radioactive crater where nothing could grow for millions of years. The only thing the UN can do is authorize people with real armies to do stuff. What country with a real army is ready to take on the IDF? If the answer is none, then there is nothing the UN can do but send Israel really hurtful letters.

        Don’t get me wrong. Israel is sensitive and the UN seems capable of hurting their feelings quite a bit which is why the Palestinians like this weapon. But in the end, the UN issue is stupid. If anyone wanted to take on Israel they have plenty of UN authorization to do it. What the US is doing is not letting the Security Council become like the General Assembly or the Human Rights Commission with routine anti-Semitism with no pretense to being implemented being discussed as if it were meaningful policy. The USA is saving the Security Council from just becoming another debating society that likes to debate how much Jews suck.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        December 11, 2013, 8:12 pm

        “Why not just accept that peoples are not stable and they migrate around the masses of this planet trying to build homes.”

        When these things are accompanied by such evils as dispossession and ethnic cleansing, we should not accept them. And that is what is happening right now. Israel is driving people out of their homes and off their land.

        “Certainly some societies rise and others fall as a result.”

        The rise and fall of societies is neither here not there. It is the suffering of human beings that is the important point.

        “But that’s the cycle of life.”

        And if Israel collapses and the Jews are pushed out, well, hakuna matata.

      • Ecru
        Ecru
        December 12, 2013, 12:32 am

        Belarus is of course a European colonial project, just like all of Europe. The Bandkeramik cultures were weakened by Asian invaders and so the first the Baltic peoples then the Slavs pushed the natives out and moved in. That’s who lives there now.

        My gods! You’d have the entire planet a “colonial enterprise” to get Israel off the hook wouldn’t you. What a joke. Got any proof the Bandkeramik were expelled/replaced or are you just assuming cultural change relies upon the out of date and seriously discredited school of migration theory?

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 12, 2013, 12:49 pm

        @Ecru

        You’d have the entire planet a “colonial enterprise” to get Israel off the hook wouldn’t you.

        Why does everything have to be motivated by Israel. Why can’t it be that having read history I’m overwhelmed by migrations and the rise and fall of societies. That having seen that I find this dialogue about “colonialism” and “oppression” which depends on view the world as static and societies as eternally fixed to be completely inconsistent with history.

        I disbelieved the dialogue completely independently of my love for Israel. There are many things I wish weren’t true about Israel but am forced to believe. I would much rather that the IDF never engaged in petty cruelty and certainly not vandalism. That strikes me as more like schoolyard bullying than the behavior of a great nation. I wish that Israeli culture were more polite. I would much rather that Israelis didn’t support the idea of a state religion and that legalized discrimination against Reformed Judaism were an unpopular / unacceptable position to them, but that ain’t so.

        I believe the facts wherever the facts take me. And this colonial dialogue is an attempt to hold Israel to a standard that no other country has to face.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 12, 2013, 1:03 pm

        Why not just accept that peoples are not stable and they migrate around the masses of this planet trying to build homes.

        Because we have a comment policy here against forms of hate speech that are intended to deny, condone, or trivialize serious historical crimes that targeted the victims on the basis of the Palestinian or Jewish ethnicity. There’s no allowance for either Nakba or Holocaust denial.

        The problem with your proposition is that Israel adopted a genocidal policy to drive Palestinians from their homes. It pillaged Arab residences that it considered suitable and gave them to Jews from other countries. It plundered, dynamited, or leveled the rest and planted mines and booby traps in the rubble to prevent the inhabitants from coming back in search of their meager possessions.

        The US government was aware of all of that. The declassified documentary history has long-since been published and made part of the public record. But here are some salient facts you should add to your narrative:

        In brief, the Mediator takes the firm position that a very large proportion of the 330,000 Arabs who fled from their homes in Jewish Palestine to other areas should return to those homes. A very large percentage of these refugees consists of children, women and aged
        who under no stretch of the imagination could be regarded as a security threat against Israel.
        As set forth in the memo to the President, the condition of the Arab refugees is appalling. They exist in terms of utmost destitution and if adequate relief is not forthcoming or they are not returned to their homes a large proportion will die before the end of winter.

        — Memorandum by the Director of the Office of United Nations Affairs (Rusk) to the Under Secretary of State (Lovett) August 20, 1948 http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/FRUS/FRUS-idx?type=goto&id=FRUS.FRUS1948v05p2&isize=M&submit=Go+to+page&page=1331

        Here is the official response of the State of Israel. Notice what it originally said about all of those Jewish Zionists from Arab countries that it had been working feverishly to bring to Palestine:

        With reference refugees Bernadotte said condition 300,000 to 400,000 Arab refugees without food, clothing and shelter was appalling. He hoped various welfare organizations could be induced take interest but basic problem was their eventual return to their home. In this connection Bernadotte said PGI [Provisional Government of Israel] was “showing signs of swelled-head”. Shertok to whom he had put this most pressing and urgent problem had indicated politically PGI could not admit Arab refugees as they would constitute fifth column. Economically PGI had no room for Arabs since their space was needed for Jewish immigrants. Shertok when pressed had replied nothing could be done until peace was made. In any event government reserved right to replace them with Jews from Arab countries who had expressed desire to
        come to Palestine.
        Bernadotte commented that it seemed anomaly for Jews to base demand for Jewish state on need to find home Jewish refugees and that they should demand migration to Palestine of Jewish DP’s when they refused to recognize problem of Arab refugees which they had created.

        In regard to property Arab refugees he said apparently most had been seized for use by Jews. He had seen Haganah organizing and supervising removal contents Arab houses in Ramle which he understood was being distributed among newly arrived Jewish immigrants. He was putting problem before SC [Security Council] but was not counting on its assistance.

        — The Charge in Egypt (Patterson) to the Secretary of State August 7, 1948, http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/FRUS/FRUS-idx?type=goto&id=FRUS.FRUS1948v05p2&isize=M&submit=Go+to+page&page=1295

      • Ecru
        Ecru
        December 12, 2013, 3:42 pm

        …having read history I’m overwhelmed by migrations and the rise and fall of societies.

        So, let’s say Israel’s invaded by an army of Muslims and every single Jew is wiped out. Men, women, children the whole lot. Even their pets. You’d just sit back and say “historical process of migration and invasion” would you? Like bollocks you would.

        As for the “reading history” all I can say is you must be VERY selective of your reading material to fit in with your obvious “Ubermensch” leanings, since migration as the main engine of the “rise and fall of societies” was thrown off the bus years ago with the advent of Processual Archaeology. Unfriendly hint – read something published in the last 50 years.

        “That having seen that I find this dialogue about “colonialism” and “oppression” which depends on view the world as static and societies as eternally fixed to be completely inconsistent with history. “

        Again – so no problems about Hitler trying to annihilate “non-static” European Jewish society from the face of the planet then?

        Except of course that when we talk of “oppression” we’re talking not just of a society but of the INDIVIDUALS that make up that society (not heard of Activity or Actor-Network Theory? No of course not you’re still reading Ahnenerbe publications). Or when a Jew is killed by a Palestinian do you just shrug your shoulders and say “oh well, people getting killed happened all the time in history.” Yes of course you do.

        As for Israel being held to a higher standard. BOLLOCKS! The difference between Israel and other Colonial powers is that the other powers have stopped doing it. The Judenreich, like it’s mid-20th Century model hasn’t; instead jokers like you come out with these ridiculous a-historical “arguments” that make no bloody sense to anyone who’s not already a died in the wool bigot. An example of your quite revolting bigotry – the WaffenIDF “vandalises.” You call mass murder, theft, rapine and collective punishment “vandalism?” What was WWII? A tiff?

        Basically your views boil down to be indistinguishable from those of Nazi “Historians” who like you thought might was all there is and justified everything.

        And I noticed btw that you didn’t provide ANY evidence of your claim that the Bandkeramik cultures were physically replaced by new peoples instead of just new ideas. If your going to make claims like that you might want to try and back them up with something beyond your own “wish it were so, so I could excuse Israel’s current violent and xenophobic colonialism by showing there was colonialism far away in another part of the planet thousands of years ago which anyone with a brain connected to reality would say was so long ago as to be irrelevant.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        December 13, 2013, 5:34 am

        JeffB:

        “I believe the facts wherever the facts take me”.

        Do you think “facts” alone can lead you to moral judgments? Do you think you can derive an “ought” from an “is”? If you wish to say there are only “facts”—relations of power etc.—and that there is no morality, no right and wrong, only winners and losers—if that is your position, then fine—but it means you have no ability whatsoever to provide a *moral* justification for Zionism and Israeli policy, and no ability to morally condemn any oppression anywhere, now or in the past.

        And this colonial dialogue is an attempt to hold Israel to a standard that no other country has to face.

        Your argument has a fatal flaw. The world is not static, and the norms by which nations are judged are not eternally fixed. Standards have changed. What was once widely considered normal and acceptable is no longer so considered.

        You cite from history the birth of nations, expulsions, migrations, wars of expansion, genocides etc. and suggest that Israel should be judged by the historical norm of past centuries. But that is NO LONGER the norm. In the 20th century a new system of international norms emerged, based on the values of liberal democracy and universal human rights, in which imperialism, colonialism, ethnic cleansing, militaristic expansion, apartheid, genocide etc. are no longer morally or legally acceptable.

        Your appeal to a now widely rejected Social Darwinism /nihilistic power-politics only further reinforces the view that Israeli expansionism/ethnic-cleansing/apartheid are morally indefensible anachronisms.

        So, if we put aside aside your misguided and untenable moral nihilism, a valid way to pose the question would be: is Israel being held to a double standard when it comes to contemporary international law and human rights norms? And the answer is a clear “no”. If anything, Israel is being let off easy.

      • talknic
        talknic
        December 13, 2013, 7:13 am

        @ JeffB
        ” this colonial dialogue is an attempt to hold Israel to a standard that no other country has to face”

        Save the red heifer crap … Name another country given HUNDREDS of UNSC reminders of its obligation to adhere to the UN Charter and International law.

        For example: UNSC res 252 has EIGHT reminders, none of which would have been necessary had Israel adhered to its legal obligations

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 13, 2013, 7:32 am

        Let me hit both of those briefly.

        On subsidies… they aren’t really that high anymore.

        Your pretty unintelligent. I’ve pointed out many times that we supply Israel with over $3 billion in direct subsidies every year – much of which must be sourced to items purchased from Israeli suppliers who compete against the US in international markets. I’ve also pointed out that our federal government refused to underwrite the costs of pensions for municipal retirees in Detroit after the city declared bankruptcy, because it claimed we couldn’t afford the one time cost of $3 billion. Almost all of those pensioners would have spent their money right here at home.

      • talknic
        talknic
        December 13, 2013, 9:32 am

        @ JeffB ” However dangerous Israel is now to world peace, imagine if it were a free agent: proliferating weapons including nuclear technology to win friends and get natural resources”

        It is a free agent employs nuclear weapons to get natural resources of the Palestinians. No one has dared hold Israel to account over its illegal use of non-Israeli resources in the territories it occupies, because having nukes is a threat to use them. Otherwise there’s no point in having them.

        “Who is going to put a navy in the Mediterranean Sea capable of handling IDF air attacks (and the IDF’s air capacity is no joke) and capable of stopping or even monitoring shipping to and from Israel?”

        They have to leave ports before getting sailing on the Mediterranean to Israel.. Dock workers are notorious for enforcing BDS type actions

        “The UN hates Israel”

        Strange, it is the only country in the world to have been given HUNDREDS of UNSC resolutions reminding it of its legal obligations to the Law and the UN Charter without there EVER being any consequences for not adhering to its legal obligations.

        The rest of your post dripped with typically arrogant ‘might is right’ drool

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 13, 2013, 9:43 am

        “Who is going to put a navy in the Mediterranean Sea capable of handling IDF air attacks (and the IDF’s air capacity is no joke) and capable of stopping or even monitoring shipping to and from Israel?”

        Where have you been? The much vaunted IDF air attacks depend upon your opponents not having anti-aircraft missiles. That didn’t even work with the Egyptians back in the era of the Yom Kippur war. it never was applicable to the Russian fleet.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 13, 2013, 11:53 am

        @ jeffB
        Please give me the proof that the USA gives Japan 20% of all US foreign aid (including direct aid to Israel, and direct aid to Egypt, but only on condition it supports it supports Israel). And please count the US UN SC vetos that immunize Israel from UN accountability for its conduct and policies.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 13, 2013, 1:54 pm

        @Sibiriak

        First off let me thank you for a polite challenging response. You handled your disagreement in a way that is classy (I’m not being sarcastic here at all I mean what I’m saying). So thanks for that.

        Do you think “facts” alone can lead you to moral judgments? Do you think you can derive an “ought” from an “is”?

        No I don’t. However what’s being debated have been “is” questions. There have been assertions that what Israel did in its process of state formation was uniquely bad. That this state went through a creation process totally unlike other states. That’s an “is” question not an “ought” question.

        The ought question that acknowledges that Israel follows the usual pattern of state formation but that people would prefer a different system be followed is going to be a lot more measured. So if we can move past the “is” to discuss the “ought” I think that’s real progress.

        In terms of ought, we are in a more complex issue because we get right to heart of how human societies should be organized and what is the nature of proper government. I don’t agree with the UN’s positions on this. I think their positions are often poorly thought out, create perverse incentives and undermine many of the objectives I’d want for human societies. Their “ought” is not terrible, but it is significantly flawed. So, I have problems with the “ought” of the UN’s position as well as the “is”.

        no ability whatsoever to provide a *moral* justification for Zionism and Israeli policy

        The moral justification for Zionism is rather simple: Once the Jews of Israel thought of themselves as a nation, formed a culture and language they became a nation. Israel has the right to admit immigrants who want to live there the same as any other state and thus the right to admit Jews and thus further expand the nation. People occupying a territory have the right self determination and thus the right to a Jewish state.

        There is no moral justification for putting that Jewish state on top of the Palestinians, a different location would have been better And that was a great moral issue in the 1890s-1930s. After the 1930s it ceases to be a moral issue and just becomes a historical fact. At that point it just becomes a classic tribal war and each tribe is morally obliged to either make reasonable peace or to win.

        As for Israeli policy, Israeli policy can be evaluated morally on the basis of middle state formation. I have no problems with rational evaluations of Israeli policy. There are things about Israeli policy I don’t like. But I think an evaluation that starts with the notion that state formation is inherently immoral isn’t an evaluation of Israeli policy it’s just pure hatred independent of the underlying acts.

        I’ll respond to the 2nd half in my next post.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 13, 2013, 4:40 pm

        @Sibraik —

        part 2:

        Your argument has a fatal flaw. The world is not static, and the norms by which nations are judged are not eternally fixed. Standards have changed. What was once widely considered normal and acceptable is no longer so considered….

        You understand those are “is” claims not “ought” claims? They are simply not true. Through all the history we have the process of national formation horrified people who witnessed because it was so disruptive. The process was one of the arguments for colonization that colonial administrators could prevent the bloodshed. The argument before that was the argument for Christendom and the Church’s right and duty to regulate wars between Christian kings and how peoples were governed. Before that there were various Gothic assemblies, which were mostly unsuccessful in stopping all out tribal wars. Before that this was the core moral argument for the Roman Empire. Before that the argument for the alliance of states under the various leaders of the Roman Republic. There is nothing new about these objections.

        Now there is another side of your argument, though. You could argue that while attempts to stop this process have existed in the past, this time we really mean it. In which case we would expect to look at the modern processes of national formation and not see the age old process in effect. So for example we have the 3 main ethnic groups in the mid Africa: Abatutsi (Tutsi), Bantu (Hutu), and Twa fighting to determine borders and layout of populations. Were this no longer the norm we would expect this process in Burundi, Rwanda and Congo to be democratic, humane with a high degree of respect for human rights. Is that what you see?

        I’m not sure if you are willing to count these countries since they started their nation formation process a generation and a half earlier but if you are willing to count Israel’s neighbors you can also see the process playing out. From the humane way the Muslims and Christians resolve their problems directly to Israel’s north is Lebanon, to the democratic process we see evident in Syria to the respect for human rights in Arabia one is awed by the effectiveness of the new standards. Even in Europe we had we had the Serbians, Croatians, Macedonians and Albanians going at it in Yugoslavia. So my question is: how can you possibly say what Israel is doing is not the norm?

        I’ll stop being tongue in cheek. Certainly there are examples like Czechoslovakia being peacefully dissolved and I could point to examples from two hundred years ago as well of peaceful state formation. But that happens rarely and seems to be caused circumstances leading to lack of conflict and inclinations of the peoples to avoid conflict much more than any change in norms.

        So, if we put aside aside your misguided and untenable moral nihilism, a valid way to pose the question would be: is Israel being held to a double standard when it comes to contemporary international law and human rights norms? And the answer is a clear “no”.

        No the answer is a clear yes. And that’s the problem. No one questions that the Hutus should remain in the region even though they don’t get along with the Tutsi in Rwanda. The UN doesn’t even want to extend further jurisdiction over the issue. There are no constant resolution every year about how Hutus suck and they should be nicer to Tutsi.

        The attitude of the world is: stuff happens, toss 2 dozen people in jail and move on.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 13, 2013, 4:49 pm

        @Hostage —

        Where have you been? The much vaunted IDF air attacks depend upon your opponents not having anti-aircraft missiles. That didn’t even work with the Egyptians back in the era of the Yom Kippur war. it never was applicable to the Russian fleet.

        The US has overcome anti-aircraft batteries. In Serbia and in Iraq. If you are saying the Russian fleet is willing to deploy to the Mediterranean they would be likely be capable of enforcing a sanctions or a blockade against Israel. My primary question is what would cause the Russians to do such a thing? Of course the USA would have to permit it.

        The Soviet Union was much more hostile to Israel during much of the 60s and 70s than Russia is today though they never went this far. Russia has not indicated anywhere near that level hostility to Israel. In 2010 they signed a long term military agreement ( http://rt.com/news/israel-barak-military-serdyukov/ ) and the first contract has been Israeli Aerospace Industries is Russia’s supplier for UAVs (drones), locating a factory there.

        I’d say your Russia scenario is unlikely. The Palestinians don’t have good drone technology to sell.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        December 9, 2013, 11:16 pm

        Woody Tanaka:

        Get money out of politics so that America will be run for the sake of Americans, again.

        “Again”? When was the time when America was run for “the sake of Americans”, not a power elite?

        In any case, I think its unrealistic to talk about “getting money out of politics”. Progressives et al. need to find ways to tame and *counteract* the influence of Big Money (promote “countervailing popular forces”), not hope to eliminate it, imo. But perhaps I’m wrong.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 11, 2013, 2:26 pm

        @ Sibiriak
        The US campaign finance system favors special interests domestically. That’s one thing when it’s domestic entities, industries, etc..quite another when it’s a foreign state. Israel is the number one beneficiary of total US foreign aid in all US history.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 13, 2013, 12:13 pm

        @ Sibiriak
        Congress critters vote to favor big donations from wealthy special interests in their elective domestic region in the USA, and to favor big donations from those with foreign regional agenda, e.g, Cuba, Israel. No reason except that’s where the big donation money is.

  2. DaBakr
    DaBakr
    December 9, 2013, 12:38 pm

    here is what I read into Fallows piece on ‘Goliath’:

    to paraphrase, ‘i’m good friends with max blumethals parents (and probably knew the kid since he was a little pischer). what he wrote in ‘Goliath’ is no different then the type of broadside ‘expose’ that our society has come to accept in other works like Michael Moore’s assorted diatribes post ‘Roger’. Or even the opposing right wing one-sided tomes put our by the likes of Ann Coulter or Bill Riley. He admits that Blumenthals ‘Goliath’ makes no attempt at journalistic approach and that he has picked a side and in Goliaths case has no intention of presenting an opposing view -or- a balanced approach. ‘ Fallows even says that this was not Blumethals intent and that these type of literary polemics have come to be excepted in our society as bombastic exposé and the expected negative publicity all part of the plan to push paper.

    It is of note that he did not say that he thought Blumethal was wrong or that he lied. He did not and while I expected his supporters would jump on the comparisons to ‘Grapes of Wraith’ and ‘Asphalt Jungle” but those were written in a time when sensationalistic exposes on Israel (or anywhere else) were not the norm. But still, while not an all out endorsement-the fact that Fallows accepts Goliath as a book worthy of discussion is a victory for Blumenthal.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      December 9, 2013, 2:36 pm

      DaBakr here is what I read into Fallows piece on ‘Goliath’: to paraphrase,

      You obviously need to slow down an re-read the article again for comprehension. Your comment is a good example of the principle that it is always better to blockquote a source than to ignorantly paraphrase or summarize it.

    • annie
      annie
      December 9, 2013, 3:18 pm

      broadside ‘expose’ that our society has come to accept in other works like Michael Moore’s assorted diatribes post ‘Roger’. Or even the opposing right wing one-sided tomes put our by the likes of Ann Coulter or Bill Riley.

      it’s quite telling you chose to ‘paraphrase’ using examples completely outside the realm of any character examples fallows uses. don’t you wish he’d used them tho? then maybe your ‘point’ would have some muscle. instead, it just sounds like jealous resentment. argh.

      from your bio: I expect ALL parties to say what they mean and mean what they say.

      too bad you don’t hold yourself to these same standards. tsk tsk.

  3. Citizen
    Citizen
    December 9, 2013, 12:39 pm

    Kerry went on to say, re Israeli’s demographic problem is to establish an independent Palestinian state AND an independent and recognized Israel state recognized as a Jewish state by the Palestinians. Imagine what a 2 state solution would mean as an economic powerhouse for both Israelis and Palestinians.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      December 9, 2013, 1:26 pm

      If the zios are hell bent on destroying Palestinians (and have for 70+ years) why would anyone think that this would not continue after this 2 state solution? I’ve no doubts that on day 1 after signing the agreement, the zios will continue to try to figure out ways, abetted by their allies and puppets in the west, to further harm the Palestinians, including the Palestinian economy.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 11, 2013, 2:31 pm

        @ Woody
        Yes, exactly.

  4. Citizen
    Citizen
    December 9, 2013, 12:43 pm

    Kerry selling a new order to be established with newly independent PALESTINE accompanied by great economic benefit for Israel. He quotes the Israeli declaration of independence for vision.

  5. Citizen
    Citizen
    December 9, 2013, 12:46 pm

    Kerry says he speaks on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Diplomacy doesn’t happen without peace and Israel is blooming out of the desert, is negotiating out of a position of strength. Mandela hated hate. Remove beyond the past.

  6. Krauss
    Krauss
    December 9, 2013, 12:50 pm

    At this point I’m more interested in the endgame of people like Abe Foxman. What’s their thinking?

    Am I being too triumphalist to declare the whole thing over? American academic organization after organization is endorsing BDS. It’s mainstream. Max is being defended by mainstream publications like Atlantic, he’s been given a complete victory by the Nation’s readers (the people who actually matter, not Alterman), Salon did a very positive interview, he’s being invited to the New American Foundation, the National Press Club and so on.

    People like Matt Yglesias and Dave Weigel have essentially branded the campaign to smear him a total disaster. Even folks like Dan Drezner, who was early out of the gates to bash The Israel Lobby has defended him.

    In addition, the whole “Yair Lapid shows that Israel changed” meme died very fast. It was always desperate. So at this point, the view of Israel will only accelerate towards Max’s position as I can’t see any Great White Hope that Yair played to save J Street, Alterman and JJ Goldberg from being forced to deal with the fact that the American liberal establishment has moved on without them.

    How many will believe that the Labor party’s new leader will rule Israel?

    So I return: What is the endgame of people like Abe Foxman or Jeff Goldberg? I mean, aside from spewing hatred and accusing everyone who advocates for ending Apartheid for “trying to destroy Israel”.

    BICOM, the UK-based Israel Lobby has essentially given up trying to influence public opinion, or at least that’s the message that Asa Winstanley, the EI’s UK-based correspondant has come to understand:

    http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/israel-lobby-uk-quitting-battle-public-opinion

    I’ve read the document he is linking to, and it is, I think, a fascinating document. Basically BICOM are admitting that they have lost the public and they are completely terminal with the left, but they still hold significant influence within the political party elites, donor networks and among various media barons(like Rupert Murdoch).

    I think it is a blueprint for America too, going forward. At least for the Democratic party, which, thanks to demographics, will be ruling party for possibly many generations.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      December 9, 2013, 2:48 pm

      At this point I’m more interested in the endgame of people like Abe Foxman. What’s their thinking?

      I’m pretty certain that Abe works for the overlords at the B’nai Brith International and that they would simply replace him if he ever started thinking.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 11, 2013, 2:39 pm

        @ Hostage
        Yep. The hard line Zionists will never give an inch; the fight will continue, which is why Phil Weiss and MW is so important even though 99% of Americans have never heard of it, and if someone told them (like me), they would never follow up. Americans in general care more about, say the welfare of dogs and cats than the welfare of Palestinian humans. I know, this absurdity is in my own family.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 11, 2013, 4:41 pm

        @ Hostage . . . Yep. The hard line Zionists will never give an inch; the fight will continue

        I don’t that describes all of the people we are talking about. They moved to the West Bank for cheaper housing and endured their service in the IDF, in part, because of the social and economic fringe benefits. Many would simply leave if the going got bad. If they are given equal rights and a path to legal citizenship that doesn’t cost them arm and a leg, then they just might stay.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 13, 2013, 4:57 pm

        @ Hostage
        Possibly, maybe even probability, since those Zionists you refer to are tiny ones driven by practical government entitlements (like lots of those enlisted in the US democrat party–“I want my Obama money check”), but I mean by “hard line Zionists” the Murdochs and Bill Krystols. Big donors and media influencers in the USA who are pure Zionists since they can afford to be so–I don’t seem than as less than impervious to attacks on the status quo. Murdoch’s billions speak for themselves, and Krystol is a popular invitee on USA cable news and/or infotainment cable TV on all cable news channels, and this despite he’s an arch neocon-zionist. Are you suggesting Phil Weiss or Max may some day soon be on such channels to give Dick and Jane the scoop?
        If not, what do you mean?

    • JeffB
      JeffB
      December 9, 2013, 3:05 pm

      @Krauss

      Put American on a scale from 1-7 with 1 being liberals, 3 being blue dogs and 7 being Tea Party. The entire debate about BDS is happening within the 1s. From 2-7 the only positions one sees is isolationism or strong support for Israel.

      So for example if we restrict to self identified Democrats the most liberal 1/3rd of the population
      59% think current US policy on Israel / Palestine is the right balance
      25% have no idea and/or don’t care
      16% are split 9/7 either wanting a more Pro-Palestinian or Pro-Israeli policy.

      which is to say there is a roughly even debate among the liberal 1/3rd, but note the very high level of satisfaction with the current poolicy. Go right and you don’t see this at all. If we look at Republicans, the most conservative 1/3rd,
      Republicans are split differently
      39% want a more pro-Israeli policy
      30% don’t know or don’t care
      24% think current policy is right
      6% want a more Pro-Palestinian policy

      there the debate is a large minority that want a more pro-Israel position against a larger but less idealogical group that things the current policy is appropriate.

      If you look at Americans as a whole:
      47% of Americans like the Israelis
      40% of Americans don’t care
      13% of Americans like the Palestinians.

      The entire BDS discussion takes place on liberal terms. In the BDS debate:
      Culture / governments exist to serve their populations never the reverse
      People from all over the planet together struggle against common enemies like capital and racism. You never hear much blatant nationalism or religious identity.
      Anti-colonialism is taken as a given
      etc…

      That’s not what you see in a mainstream political argument. Get outside the liberal sphere and that entire paradigm starts to collapse because people don’t share your presuppositions about the nature of the good. Moderates evaluate Israel based on criteria they care about: are Israel’s interests compatible with US interests, does Israel support US multinational interest, are Israel’s enemies mostly US enemies, can Israel be made to work within the US system…? Or going further right does Israel advance the interests of the west against the other hostile cultures which aim to eliminate or undermine the west?

      Even among the 1s, the most liberals you have a problem that Zionist Jews are often a huge percentage of the supporters for most liberal causes. Many 1s do not consider foreign policy their dominant concern. What percentage of Americans whose number one charity is: PETA, the Sierra Club or Gay Rights do you think are pro-Palestinian? Would those groups risk losing 1/5th-1/3rd of the activists and donations to support BDS, a cause that even if they support they consider tertiary to the causes they really care about? The next time the Sierra Club is protesting logging or drilling would they want credible mainstream liberal Democrats identifying them as an anti-Semitic hate group and advising other Democrats not to listen to them? It would be devastating to other liberal causes not so much because of the loss of liberals but because of the loss of activists and donations if Jews in America shifted right, fleeing anti-Zionism. Look at French Jews what had this problem, and imagine the effect on liberalism if American Jews became a conservative voting block.

      Foxman isn’t in the endgame he’s doing fine holding the line. Americans broadly support the policy he advocates. It may not seem that way though if you are selective in your reading.

      • annie
        annie
        December 9, 2013, 3:32 pm

        could you link to your statistics please? thanks

      • piotr
        piotr
        December 9, 2013, 6:15 pm

        The majority of the population has a very dim idea on the matters in Israel-Palestine conflict, so you can get vastly different percentages if you ask questions more concretely.

        Most recent example: Israel, and a large portion of Congress-creatures (including Senators and Senatoresses) complains a lot about negotiating with Iran, while the majority of the population finds the idea just fine. It could be interested to have a follow-up poll: How would your opinion about the recent agreement with Iran would change if you were informed that the Prime Minister of Israel called it the worst error since Munich agreement in 1938 (or perhaps even worse).

        (a) improve my opinion, our Administration has guts etc.

        (b) decrease my opinion, I doubt that Israeli guy (what’s his name?) would make such a claim without a very good reason

        (c) I would not care.

        An older example: people were actually polled if Israel should expand settlements and confiscate Palestinian lands. Even the majority of Republicans were against. It is really hard to explain ordinary Americans that it is OK.

        As long as “sympathy” means telling that I would prefer to park my car next to someone from such an adorable country rather then some savage, Israel wins in spades. But on such central issue like settlements Israel has hardly any support. Instead, pro-Israeli commentators etc. switch the topic and claim “this is not the issue here”. Just check how pro-Israeli message was garbled by T-party members at various occasion, like Florida legislative demanding “equal rights for all between Jordan and the sea” (they got explained that those nasty Palestinians want to discriminate against Jews, but what they wrote was purely 1SS).

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 9, 2013, 6:25 pm

        link to people-press.org

        You are citing a poll from last March before the public vetoed Obama’s efforts to drum up support for military strikes against Syria and Iran. The most recent polls show that the public is overwhelmingly opposed to that and support the interim agreements on Syria and Iran. http://aufc.3cdn.net/fc17d12faadccc86f2_grm6b0abf.pdf

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 9, 2013, 8:36 pm

        @Piotr —

        Let me start off by saying there is a huge range between:
        a) I like country X so much I’m willing to fight a war because they think it is a good idea.
        b) I dislike country X so much that even know I know there are a nuclear power I’m going to risk destabilization and possibly war to pressure them into a policy they despise.

        My argument is that a tiny fraction of Americans are anywhere close to (b), or persuadable to move to option (b) regardless of what bad stuff they hear about the Israelis doing to the Palestinians. (a) OTOH is a level of support we don’t extend even to governors of states much less leaders of foreign countries. Canada is the country that Americans are most affectionate towards and we didn’t back their play over fishing with Spain. Nor do we care that Canada also hates the Iranian agreement.

        I think most people who follow politics even slightly are aware that Israel wants war with Iran and particularly want the USA to be in a war with Iran. They are aware that Iran hates Israel, sponsors terrorism against them and Israel considers them an enemy. They aren’t going to find it shocking that Israel wouldn’t be happy about the USA reaching an agreement with Iran. They fully understand that war is likely much more in Israel’s interest than the USA’s. So sure they understand and they don’t care, your option (c) but I wouldn’t read too much into that.

        As long as “sympathy” means telling that I would prefer to park my car next to someone from such an adorable country rather then some savage, Israel wins in spades.

        Exactly.

        But on such central issue like settlements Israel has hardly any support.

        I don’t think that’s true. At this point 55% of American Christians believe the land of Israel was given to the Jews by God\, 64% among Protestants only, 82% among evangelicals only: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/10/03/8-fascinating-trends-in-how-american-jews-think-about-israel/).

        If you ask questions about the settlements you get weird results. So for example most Americans seem to regard East Jerusalem construction by Israel as legitimate. I haven’t seen much data that involves non-Jewish Americans but I’m think we are getting garbage data when you talk public polls from people who don’t understand the question. Your point about Florida T-party being a wonderful example.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 9, 2013, 8:38 pm

        @Hostage —

        See my response to piotr. I agree the public supports Obama’s peace making. There is a long way from that and Krauss’s original point about public support for American anti-Israeli actions.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        December 9, 2013, 10:07 pm

        piotr:

        But on such central issue like settlements Israel has hardly any support. Instead, pro-Israeli commentators etc. switch the topic and claim “this is not the issue here”

        Very true.

      • bilal a
        bilal a
        December 10, 2013, 3:06 am

        Profit comes before public opinion , Israel’s right wing shift is a cash cow to the defense aerospace-surveillance industry, here, and in Israel: No one is going to beat their engineers and programmers into plow shares any time soon.

        Despite The Economic Slowdown, Israel’s Top 3 Defense Companies Sold $7 Billion in 2012
        http://defense-update.com/20130321_despite-the-economic-slowdown-israels-top-3-defense-companies-sold-6-5-billion-in-2012.html

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 10, 2013, 11:45 am

        There is a long way from that and Krauss’s original point about public support for American anti-Israeli actions.

        I think most Americans oppose illegal Israeli settlements. The delegates to the last Democratic Convention presented you and everyone else with a spectacle, when they voted-down the proposition of adding a platform plank to recognize Jerusalem as a city in Israel.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 10, 2013, 12:40 pm

        @Hostage

        It is hard to find a worse representative population of Americans than the delegates to the Democratic Convention.

        #1 they are uniformally Democrats. Moreover they are way more liberal than average Americans. Being a democrat and being a liberal correlate negatively with support for Israel.

        #2 they are politically enthusiastic. After all most of them spent something like 2 years deferring their careers to work for political campaigns or they are planning on going into politics. Which means they tend to believe strongly in the political process as a way to resolve problems as opposed to say using economic forces, culture, religion…. They are much more likely to support the UN peace process and its parameters than the average American.

        #3 they are disproportionately young. Which also correlates negatively with support for Israel and positively with support for Palestine.

        I’m going to rely on broader polls, and elections to gauge public opinion.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 10, 2013, 1:19 pm

        @Hostage It is hard to find a worse representative population of Americans than the delegates to the Democratic Convention.

        Sorry, but you and I both know that isn’t so. In any event, Israel relies on these politically active people for its support, not on couch potatoes.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 10, 2013, 1:52 pm

        @Hostage —

        No, I don’t know it isn’t so. I don’t think the American population is split between people who think like delegates to the Democratic convention and “couch potatoes”. For example, there are delegates to the Republican convention who are young and active but have very different political opinions. There are people whose are issue focused not party focused and thus play an important role in our political system but not in party machinery. And there are many many people who are interested voters that follow the news and have strong political opinions but for whom politics is a secondary or tertiary concern and that group is many many times the size of delegates.

        The Northwestern Mutual World Challenge golf tournament was this weekend. Golf fans probably are representative of many of the donor class in American. They have influence on politics. I could poll them on Jerusalem and it would be an equally unrepresentative sample.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        December 9, 2013, 11:34 pm

        JeffB :

        self identified Democrats the most liberal 1/3rd of the population
        59% think current US policy on Israel / Palestine is the right balance

        But what do that 59% think US policy on Israel actually IS? (This poll result was not in your link, I believe).

        It’s quite likely they believe the U.S. is trying to get the Israelis and Palestinians to agree to a genuine Two-State-Solution. They likely believe that the U.S. is pretty much an “honest broker”; they likely see the Palestinians as stubborn and prone violence-prone (thanks to, among other things, the brilliant propagation of the “Myth of the Generous Offer Rejected by Arafat”); they also likely oppose expansion of settlements in the West Bank; and so on.

        In other words, they buy into the whole “peace process” charade.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 10, 2013, 11:33 am

        @Sibiriak —

        But what do that 59% think US policy on Israel actually IS? (This poll result was not in your link, I believe).

        I’d assume most liberals in the USA are rather ignorant about what our policy is. For example if I were asked the question about whether the USA should in the PRC/ROC disputes: lean more towards People’s Republic of China (China proper), lean towards the Republic of China (Taiwan), leave things alone or don’t know…. I in my ignorance would probably say that the policy seems pretty good and I should know a lot more before advocating a shift and thus leave it alone. OTOH if I were a virulent anti-Communist with the same level of ignorance I might very well side on a pro-Taiwan position. If on the other hand I though war was likely with China, even with my level of ignorance I’d throw Taiwan overboard and side with the PRC.

        I’m freely admitting I don’t understand the dispute. But that sort of ignorance is the nature of public opinion. This is what you find on any question of public policy.

        “What would public opinion be if the public were broadly informed on the issues?” is a very different question than “what is current public opinion”. Because there would have to be a context to inform the public broadly. Say for example if Hamas were to hit the USA with a chemical or nuclear weapon in retaliation for US support. Or if we were about to go to war with Israel to save the Palestinians. Then I think we’d get a more informed public opinion. On the other hand we’d also be having a much more emotional debate so YMMV.

        They likely believe that the U.S. is pretty much an “honest broker”

        “Honest broker” sounds nice. Rephrase that to “indifferent to the outcome of negotiations, just focusing on the process” or “completely neutral” and you would get a lower percentage. Ultimately if you strip away the language issues, why would Americans believe we were being neutral / fair? Everyone knows we like Israel a lot and trust them. They also know we don’t like the Palestinians much. Older people remember 70s Palestinian terrorism direct against Americans. Why would they expect us to be an honest broker?

        (thanks to, among other things, the brilliant propagation of the “Myth of the Generous Offer Rejected by Arafat”

        Let me just point out, I am pretty knowledgeable near the top of what people who don’t focus on this as their primary issue know and I don’t it is a myth. I happen to completely believe that given the situation as it existed it was a very generous offer, near the best that Arafat could have hoped for and he should have accepted the Camp David offer. I would have in his place. Moreover, I think Arafat might very well have put the Palestinian people on a road to unavoidable destruction when he rejected the Clinton Parameters. The election of Arial Sharon was something a smart leader would have worked very hard to avoid.

        So, I’m an example of someone who believes this. When we talk public opinion it can be hard but don’t confuse “doesn’t know the facts” with “doesn’t agree with me”.

        they also likely oppose expansion of settlements in the West Bank

        We know that’s not true. Huge percentages of Americans support equal housing laws. You may be to young to remember when people of different ethnicities couldn’t safely move into neighborhoods but many Americans aren’t and even if they don’t remember directly they oppose the idea. Many view the Palestinian demands on settlements this very similarly to the Klan’s position in many southern locations that Jews shouldn’t be allowed to move into White Christian neighborhoods.

        Again picking myself as an example of someone who isn’t ignorant… I want peace in Israel,. For that to happen there needs to be lots and lots of 1/2 Palestinian 1/2 Jewish babies. People need to live near one another for that to happen. So I’m all in favor of intermixing the populations. Putting an end to settler on Palestinian violence as well as Palestinian on Israeli violence is key to that. And key to putting an end to the violence is people stopping caring about internal borders as if they mattered.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 11, 2013, 2:46 pm

        @ JeffB

        In my experience and reading, you are right. In my own family, nobody but me gives a crap about Palestinians, but a number exert great effort in behalf dogs and cats.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 13, 2013, 5:16 pm

        @ JeffB
        I don’t see how anyone can disagree with your assessment, if I understand it correctly, that nearly the entire debate re I-P in the USA exists as between, Pelosi’s Demos and GOP’s Ron Paul types, with the majority/usual GOP standing with Pelosi’s Demos regarding Israel. This means, effectively, that Dick and Jane seldom hear the specifics uttered by, e.g., MW or Max B on any mainstream media news channel, broadcast or cable. The result is as you conclude. Foxman is doing fine holding that line.

        The situation makes me think that nobody is discussing nonintervention as distinguished from isolationism–nobody sees Ron Paul’s distinction, not even the GOP which took over his grass roots campaign and turned it into plastic. This is especially true regarding Israel, and our continued financial and diplomatic support of it.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 14, 2013, 10:10 am

        @Citizen —

        Yes absolutely. The mainstream media’s job is mostly to cover the mainstream political debate. The mainstream policy debate is the debate between politicians. Ideas that don’t yet have viable political support are too immature to be discussed by the mainstream.

        Which if you think about it makes sense. If on policy area X there are 100 ideas it makes sense to let the specialists narrow that down to 3 before it goes to the interested. The interested then group and classify these foreign policies into cohesive packages of policy and those packages go to the mainstream which then decide between those packages.

        Neoconservatism is a package. The Realist school of foreign policy (think Bush-41 or Eisenhower) is a package. Wilsonian Idealism is a package. Isolationism is a package…. Those are very complex discussions even at that level of generality. Which is why the interested, i.e. the parties select packages to be represented by their policy choices.

        There are ways to bypass this process with things like protests. But ultimately the protests at best get you an audience with the policy makers. They still have to decide the idea is acceptable otherwise protest just becomes crime.

        There is a concept called the Overton window that talks about high ideas filter:

        Unthinkable
        Radical
        Acceptable
        Sensible
        Popular
        Policy

        The American people aren’t doing anything with I-P that they don’t do on 1000 other issues when they say “if you on the far left can’t even convince Nancy Pelosi, why is your idea worth me thinking about?”

    • Sibiriak
      Sibiriak
      December 9, 2013, 10:01 pm

      Krauss says:

      http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/israel-lobby-uk-quitting-battle-public-opinion

      I’ve read the document he is linking to, and it is, I think, a fascinating document.

      Interesting links, definitely. Thanks.

      BICOM is bankrolled by Poju Zabludowicz, a Finnish billionaire with important links to Israel. Zabludowicz is BICOM’s chairperson and main funder.

      (At the launch event, Spinwatch’s David Miller said that since this report went to press, BICOM has stated it is funded by the Jewish Leadership Council – another group Zabludowicz is involved with.)

      As the report explains in some detail, Zabludowicz’s father Shlomo was an Israeli arms dealer, who “made his millions through the state-led internationalization of the Israeli arms industry.”

      The son’s businesses are of a different character, yet still highly linked to Israel:

      Poju Zabludowicz himself made billions from the state-led property booms, privatizations, mergers and tech-bubbles of the neoliberal period

      BICOM, the report explains, is a way for Zabludowicz and his allies to promote the Israeli state, and retain the stability benefits to his businesses of a “peace process” – while at the same time impeding any genuine moves towards peace with the Palestinians.

      All Israel has to do is make some small genuine moves toward peace, and the PR situation will turn around.

  7. tombishop
    tombishop
    December 9, 2013, 1:19 pm

    Don’t agree that the Democratic party “will be ruling party for possibly many generations.” The Democratic party has sold out to neo-liberalism. They are as tied to Zionism and the 1% as the Republicans. It is inevitable that a new party will develop which has a program for the 99%.

    • Sibiriak
      Sibiriak
      December 9, 2013, 11:43 pm

      tombishop:

      The Democratic party has sold out to neo-liberalism. They are as tied to Zionism and the 1% as the Republicans. It is inevitable that a new party will develop which has a program for the 99%

      1)The Democratic Party embraced neoliberalism in the early 90’s or earlier (the latter part of Carter’s term, the Volcker appointment, etc.). That’s decades ago and no sign of a new party. The system won’t allow it. And if one did emerge, it would just weaken the Democratic Party, not replace it.

      2) The 1% (.o1%) rule in alliance with another 20-30% of the population who benefit from the neoliberal economy (transnational capitalism). “1% vs 99% ” is a great slogan, but does not reflect socio-political reality.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 11, 2013, 2:56 pm

        @ Sibiriak
        Yep, and 3rd parties in USA go nowhere.

      • Keith
        Keith
        December 11, 2013, 4:00 pm

        CITIZEN- “Yep, and 3rd parties in USA go nowhere.”

        Quite true, but the question is why? One cannot even attempt to change the political economy unless this phenomenon is understood, at least on a preliminary basis in general terms.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        December 11, 2013, 5:10 pm

        “Quite true, but the question is why? One cannot even attempt to change the political economy unless this phenomenon is understood, at least on a preliminary basis in general terms.”

        It is because the American system is mathematically stable with only 2 parties or more than three (or more likely four) parties which are roughly equally popular (and even then I don’t think it could last for long).

        Here’s the problem with three parties. Right now you have a roughly equal division, 50/50… So, where is the third party going to come from?

        If it’s from one of the extremes of the two parties, then they reduce the power of that end of the political spectrum. That results in the opposite wing winning the election, even if the other wing has fewer total voters. (Teddy Roosevelt bolts the Republican party to form the Bull Moose party and the Democrat Wilson wins, even though he only had about 40% of the vote.) Those who broke away then figure, “winning is better than being independent” and that political wing which had broken apart mends their ways and we return to a two-party set up. (Or, there is a restructuring of the set up, as when the Dixiecrat wing of Democratic party in the late 60s merged with the Republicans [with some Republicans {especially in the North East} going the other way] in order to strengthen the power of their ideology by joining with the Western politicians and business interests.)

        If it’s from the center (or some non-partisan basis, such as region) and affects both parties, then there are two potential problems to sustaining three parties. First, if it doesn’t win, then those who disfavored the winning side bolt back to their original party. So if the fact that there is a third party permits, say, the Republicans to win, then the Dems who went third party will bolt from the center so as to prevent the Republicans from winning (“better a Democrat I disagree with than a Republican I REALLY disagree with…”) Second, if the third party DOES win, and begins to drift one way or the other, the same thing can happen.

        Because of the winner take all system, third parties will almost always fail because there is usually always a greater incentive for someone to go back to two parties than there is to stay with three.

      • Keith
        Keith
        December 13, 2013, 12:20 pm

        WOODY TANAKA- “better a Democrat I disagree with than a Republican I REALLY disagree with…”

        Ah, the ‘lesser of two evils’ rationale. But what if the lesser evil is demonstrably the more effective evil? More importantly, how bad does a corporate flack have to be before you won’t vote for him/her? Won’t provide electoral legitimacy for anti-environmental, neoliberal war-mongering policies?

        Right now our elections occur within a system of capitalist democracy in which one dollar is roughly equivalent to one vote. An oligarchy where money rules and elections are marketing extravaganzas where a couple of well funded corporate candidates hire Madison Avenue marketeers to scare the electorate into voting against their opponent. Not a rational citizenry voting their best interests, but the manufacturing of consent within the electoral market. People voting for someone who will work to disempower them, yet feeling good about it because they think that they have staved off a worse disaster. Our ‘winner take all’ system erroneously blamed for a phenomenon which occurs as frequently in a parliamentary system. Look at Tony Blair. Look at Stephen Harper.

        So my comment to Citizen is meant to question the deeper significance concerning the possibility of progressive change in a capitalist democracy where the citizenry is easily deceived and manipulated and eager to go along with elite control of the political economy. I have given the matter considerable thought and am deeply pessimistic.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 13, 2013, 5:36 pm

        @ Keith
        Pretty simple ostensibly. All the built-in advantages of the two party system steered past the US Constitution over the couple of centuries by congress (anybody want to list them?) go against the chances of a 3rd party going anywhere. The effect is well commented by Woody.

  8. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    December 9, 2013, 1:43 pm

    Fallows wrote : ” Yet Blumenthal had an illustration of its odd effect. In its English version, the Jewish Daily Forward excoriated his book: “Max Blumenthal’s Goliath Is Anti-Israel Book That Makes Even Anti-Zionists Blush.” Whereas the Yiddish edition of the Forward has a review that (I am assured by someone who can understand it) is quite respectful of the book and the importance of such criticism.”

    I don’t know who are the presumed English and Yiddish readers of the Forward, but Yiddish is NOT the language of Israel, but rather of elderly America Jews. So I don’t know and would like to know why in Yiddish the Forward says (as the quote suggests) that Blumenthal’s a mensch whereas in English the same publication excoriates him and Goliath.

    Can anyone help here. This looks quite significant. after all, we’vew been hearing a lot about YOUNG Jews being disenchanted with Israel and Yiddish aims (I believe) at elderly Jews. Maybe the Yiddish is aime at those folks who ACTUALLY EXPERIENCED the holocaust and might have sympathy for Palestinians?

    • tree
      tree
      December 9, 2013, 3:34 pm

      Pabelmont, maybe its just a case of what one can say within the group versus what one is allowed to say “in public” so to speak. Presumably 99.99% of those reading the Yiddish version are Jews whereas the English version has a wider audience that includes gentiles. It could be similar to the differences between the English version of Haaretz and the Hebrew version, built on the assumption that there are certain negative things about Israel that should not be talked about when among gentiles.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 13, 2013, 5:41 pm

        @ tree
        Don’t wash dirty laundry in public. Tribal rule number one.

    • Shmuel
      Shmuel
      December 9, 2013, 4:12 pm

      Interesting. The Yiddish review (by Adi Mehalel) is actually quite glowing. My guess is that the editing is less strict in Yiddish (much smaller readership, fewer competent writers, etc.), and maybe even the more controversial the better. There are only two comments — one a factual correction, and the other an attack on Blumenthal as an “anti-Semitic Jew” and an “informer”. Had anything like this been published in English, they would have been flooded with (mostly) hostile comments.

      Here’s the link (Yiddish): http://yiddish.forward.com/articles/173882/israel-the-goliath-in-a-new-book/

      • tree
        tree
        December 9, 2013, 4:53 pm

        There are only two comments — one a factual correction, and the other an attack on Blumenthal as an “anti-Semitic Jew” and an “informer”.

        The second comment you mentioned dovetails with the idea that speaking the truth about Israel to non-Jews is seen as a wrongful act.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        December 9, 2013, 5:04 pm

        The second comment you mentioned dovetails with the idea that speaking the truth about Israel to non-Jews is seen as a wrongful act.

        Absolutely, and the word used — “malshin” — is filled with religious, historical and cultural significance. To further drive home his point (with all its connotations), the commenter cites from the daily prayers: “May the informers have no hope”.

      • PeaceThroughJustice
        PeaceThroughJustice
        December 9, 2013, 5:38 pm

        Jews pray daily “May the informers have no hope”?

        If only NPR had told us.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        December 10, 2013, 2:01 am

        Jews pray daily “May the informers have no hope”?

        Orthodox Jews anyway. Other denominations have changed or eliminated this “blessing” (the 19th blessing, added to the original 18 blessings of the Amidah prayer, supposedly to force heretics to reveal themselves in the synagogue). In its current form, in most Orthodox traditions, it is a general prayer against enemies and ill-wishers – not a trivial problem for Jews at various times in history.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 11, 2013, 3:02 pm

        @ tree
        Yep. See tree’s comment above. It’s all about airing dirty Jewish laundry in public (in sight of the goy). Some things never change. Light, transparency, is a disinfectant but many influential jews apply this wisdom only to goy activity or not. Double standard. Given the nuclear armed stated of Israel, backed by the world’s only superpower, and funded by it, and kept immune from accountability in the UN by it, it’s time to kill the jewish double standard, eh?

    • piotr
      piotr
      December 9, 2013, 6:23 pm

      Quite possibly, the percentage of Zionist among Yidish speakers is much lower than among the “general American Jewish public”, between the actual Leftists and non-Zionist Orthodox. Between that and the fact that there is little pressure to proselite Israeli cause in Yidish, the book was simply reviewed by someone who was interested in the book. Which is kind of normal.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        December 10, 2013, 2:10 am

        Quite possibly, the percentage of Zionist among Yidish speakers is much lower than among the “general American Jewish public”, between the actual Leftists and non-Zionist Orthodox.

        I doubt there are many of the original Yiddish-speaking leftists around (and in its later years as a daily, the Forverts had become pro-Israel), although I presume it is still considered “secular rubbish” among the ultra-Orthodox, who have their own Yiddish press.

        Between that and the fact that there is little pressure to proselite Israeli cause in Yidish, the book was simply reviewed by someone who was interested in the book. Which is kind of normal.

        There is little pressure to do anything in Yiddish, beyond trying to preserve some semblance of a half-living culture (the subjects of the Yiddish articles in the Forverts try very hard – maybe a little too hard – to be “contemporary”).

        the book was simply reviewed by someone who was interested in the book. Which is kind of normal.

        That is exactly what this review is all about. The author writes a little about Max and his previous book, summarises the content of this one, asks Max a couple of honest questions, recognises the fact that it’s a sensitive topic, and commends Max for his writing and integrity. Very simple. Very “normal”.

  9. amigo
    amigo
    December 9, 2013, 3:26 pm

    ” U.K. government warns British citizens against doing business in Israeli settlements
    Recommendations released by British government warn citizens of potential ‘reputational implications’ of getting financially involved in Israeli settlements in West Bank.”Haaretz,

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.562532

    The noose is tightening further.Slowly but surely.Increase the pressure until the zionist project is squeezed out of existence.

  10. Sibiriak
    Sibiriak
    December 9, 2013, 11:52 pm

    [Fallows:] He has found a group of people he identifies as extremists in Israel…

    —-
    […]his doing so is no more “anti-Israel,” let alone anti-Semitic, than The Shame of the Cities and The Jungle and The Grapes of Wrath were anti-American for pointing out extremes and abuses in American society.

    It seems to me that Fallows is taking a quintessentially Liberal Zionist position:

    Israel, like America, is fundamentally a good country based on good principles; the problem is a threat from extremists who don’t represent mainstream Zionist values (just as the problem in America is the threat from the extremist Tea Party types.)

    • piotr
      piotr
      December 10, 2013, 8:23 am

      Good catch. It reminds me a story that a journalist decided to investigate a factoid that 95% of high school students in Minnesota are fishing, so he asked a teacher for explanation. “I have no idea what is wrong with that 5%”, replied the teacher.

      However, I grew up under Communism when one expects certain things to be presented with a code. For example, you could write that it is not anti-X to observe that the majority of X-sians are raving lunatics if you indeed document your findings. And if in the process you exhibit some animus against raving lunatics, it does not follow that you are guilty of anti-X-sianism. This is a mildly uncontroversial position of Fallows, and the mildness comes from eschewing the majority angle, which is irrelevant to some degree. Namely, irrelevant in the judgement of the immortal soul of Max Blumenthal — to the Hell with him or not?

      There is also a policy angle, how to deal with nations, states etc. that operate under mass delusions or other deviations. I would say that the first step is to recognize the scope of the phenomenon, starting with ourselves. For example, the sentiments towards Arabs in Israel are not particularly unique if compared with other nation embroiled in bloody conflict: check what Azeris and Armenians have to say about each other. (The other day I was extolling the virtues of countries that start with B as opposed to I, so it would be better if our Congress would be beholden to BAPAC, while AAPAC clearly does offer a safer solution.)

    • American
      American
      December 11, 2013, 3:57 pm

      ”Israel, like America, is fundamentally a good country based on good principles; the problem is a threat from extremists who don’t represent mainstream Zionist values (just as the problem in America is the threat from the extremist Tea Party types.)”>>>>

      Nonsense, as usual. America and Israel were based on totally Opposite principles.
      American did not ‘select’ it’s immigrants or settlers by religion or ethnic .
      Israel’s only principle is Jews—no one else.
      We all would agree that America didnt/ and that it took it a long time to live up to some of it’s principles and some are still in the works.
      But based on the same principles as Israel?….more hasbara.

    • Ecru
      Ecru
      December 12, 2013, 12:41 am

      @ Sibiriak

      Please explain how ethnic cleansing can be the very first act of a “fundamentally good country” and how endemic and systemic bigotry is a “good principle.”

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        December 12, 2013, 3:10 am

        @Ecru: I was giving my interpretation of a “Liberal Zionist” position, not my own position.

      • Ecru
        Ecru
        December 13, 2013, 9:29 am

        OK fair enough. Sorry.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 12, 2013, 2:05 pm

        Please explain how ethnic cleansing can be the very first act of a “fundamentally good country” and how endemic and systemic bigotry is a “good principle.”

        Ethnic cleansing is not an adequate description. You can easily find documents in the UN, US and British government archives which show that the Haganah and other militias deliberately drove Arab people from their homes and then systematically plundered and pillaged them for the private use of Jews. When the Government of Israel was told that many of the refugee children, women, and elderly (who posed no security threat to Israel) would die by the end of winter if they weren’t allow to return to their homes, it carried on destroying or plundering Arab villages and refused to allow them to return. It also reserved the right to replace them with Jews from Arab countries who had expressed a desire to come to Palestine. The statements made by government spokesmen are flagrant examples of genocidal intent.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      December 13, 2013, 6:05 pm

      @ Sibiriak
      Sorry, Israel is not a good county based on good principles, the problem is that Israel’s founded and continued ethics is totally contrary to American values.

  11. Citizen
    Citizen
    December 11, 2013, 3:17 pm

    RE: “Israel, like America, is fundamentally a good country based on good principles; the problem is a threat from extremists who don’t represent mainstream Zionist values (just as the problem in America is the threat from the extremist Tea Party types.)”

    The American Tea Party originated as a dissent against the US government taxing Americans for an agenda not agreed, and taxing them so much it was counter-productive economically. If that is extremist, than the origin of the USA is extremist.
    Note the self-label “Tea Party.” The American Tea Party movement is not extremist, given the history of the USA’s origin, The Zionists movement is a colonial movement, the Tea Party is an anti-colonial movement.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      December 11, 2013, 4:34 pm

      “The American Tea Party originated as a dissent against the US government taxing Americans for an agenda not agreed,”

      Nonsense. The Tea Party is an astroturf creation aimed at making life easier in the US for corporations to reap insane profits, while being free of regulations that protect everyone else.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 13, 2013, 6:08 pm

        @ Woody Tanaka
        No, the Tea Party is not an astroturf creation. I was an early Ron Paul advocate. I agree that it was taken over by big corporate interests. Let’s distinguish the original motives and agenda of what became the Tea party from what it became when GOP money changed it.

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