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More Orientalist insinuations in the New York Times

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on 65 Comments
Steven Erlanger, expert on the Orient

Steven Erlanger, expert on the Orient

Orientalism is more cunning and subtle than just simple prejudice against Arabs and Muslims.  The other day, the New York Times offered another nice specimen of Orientalist technique. A “news analysis” by Steven Erlanger included the following paragraph:

“Unlike Fatah, Hamas claims the whole of the British mandate of Palestine as land granted by Allah, which cannot be ceded. In other words, Israel is illegitimate and its occupants should ‘go home.’ The most any senior Hamas official ever offered was a ‘hudna,’ a cease-fire, which the Prophet Muhammad offered enemies to restore his strength.”

There are several Orientalist gems packed into these short sentences. First, leaving “God” untranslated from the Arabic “Allah” is a standard exoticizing practice. Times articles about French- or Spanish-speaking people do not have them saying “Dieu” or “Dios.” And in Israel/Palestine itself, no Times reporter would be allowed to write, say, “Jews who have settled in the West Bank claim the whole of the British mandate of Palestine as land granted by Yahweh, which cannot be ceded.”

The sentence about a cease-fire reveals even more about Orientalist thinking. There are plenty of instances in world history of cease-fires, including in the recent Middle East, but our reporter is compelled to go back to the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century for his example. This is Orientalism 101. Muslims and Arabs have an unchangeable essence, a core way of being, which is revealed in their ancient texts and in their history.

Our reporter’s sly insinuation is obvious. Nearly 1300 years ago, the first Muslim, the Prophet Muhammad, offered his enemies a truce “to restore his strength.” Therefore, Hamas, who are also Muslims, are duplicitous by their very nature, and you cannot trust them. Just like Muhammad, once their strength is restored they will stab you in the back. (This classic Orientalist view is, probably unconsciously, reinforced by the photograph which accompanies the article, which shows a large group of Muslim men praying inside a damaged mosque in Gaza.)

Imagine if the Times applied this kind of “news analysis” to the Israeli government. What if the newspaper summarized a feature of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policy, and then immediately compared it to one of the villainous characters in ancient Israel who we read about in the Torah?

Hamas and its policy toward Israel is of course a large and legitimate question. Fortunately, we have genuine scholars, like Professor Jerome Slater, who study reality today instead of using the 7th Century as their guide into the Muslim Mind. Professor Slater has written about Hamas and Israel at length; he argues, using one piece of specific, present-day evidence after another, that Hamas is ready to recognize Israel, perhaps grudgingly, but of course as part of a comprehensive settlement that will bring justice to Palestinians.  Professor Slater publishes in scholarly journals, and also makes his findings available to a wider public here. Maybe the next New York Times “news analysis” will include views like his, instead of more Orientalist insinuations?

James North
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65 Responses

  1. David Doppler
    David Doppler
    August 19, 2014, 12:06 pm

    Thank you, James North, for showing why Mondoweiss is essential in an era when our leading newspaper is a propaganda organ for the power that cannot be named. I was offended this week by Peter Baker’s “news analysis” piece, As World Boils, Fingers Point Obama’s Way http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/16/world/middleeast/as-world-boils-fingers-point-obamas-way.html?_r=0, bemoaning the President’s lack of overarching strategy, without so much as acknowledging that the Neocon’s over-arching strategy, as put forth clearly in the Clean Break paper, and in books like Clash of Civilizations, is what created all the problems Obama has been left to try to clean up. “Overarching policy,” in Hillary’s interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic, and in Obama’s “lack of it,” has become code for “will sell soul to Neocons to win elections.”

  2. just
    just
    August 19, 2014, 12:14 pm

    Another bigoted journalist featured in the NYT. Thanks for picking thru his trash, James.

    You’re doing great and important work.

  3. Kay24
    Kay24
    August 19, 2014, 12:21 pm

    It is quite absurd this statement about Arabs claiming “Allah gave them this land”.

    I have heard it often from the zionists, who even quote a Holy book they do not follow, and say it was written in the Bible that this land is theirs (also an attempt to get the zio Christians on their side) How these staunch zionists love to project and lie for their people..

    • MHughes976
      MHughes976
      August 19, 2014, 12:41 pm

      I am sure that all Palestinians think that they have a right which is not dependent on any special divine donation but on generally recognised principles of morality, to be, where they live, enfranchised citizens of a fully sovereign state whose borders are determined by tradition (history of peaceful recognition) or treaty. They’re not wrong.

    • Walid
      Walid
      August 19, 2014, 2:10 pm

      ” Allah gave them (the Arabs) this land”

      That’s a new one; first time I hear of it. If anything, I read the very opposite; in Quran 17, known as the chapter on al-Isra (Night Journey) or Bani Israel (Children of Israel), verses 101 to 104:

      17:101
      And We had certainly given Moses nine evident signs, so ask the Children of Israel [about] when he came to them and Pharaoh said to him, “Indeed I think, O Moses, that you are affected by magic.”

      17:102
      [Moses] said, “You have already known that none has sent down these [signs] except the Lord of the heavens and the earth as evidence, and indeed I think, O Pharaoh, that you are destroyed.”

      17:103
      So he intended to drive them from the land, but We drowned him and those with him all together.

      17:104
      And We said after Pharaoh to the Children of Israel, “Dwell in the land, and when there comes the promise of the Hereafter, We will bring you forth in [one] gathering.”

      So the story goes on to say that after God gave them the land, in due time they screwed up and the property deed was taken away from them.

      • Kay24
        Kay24
        August 19, 2014, 2:17 pm

        It is very bad projection. Unfortunately for the transplants from Europe, the old books are not international laws, and does not hold up in any court of law, except the zio court, which does not exist for the rest of the world.

  4. lysias
    lysias
    August 19, 2014, 12:29 pm

    Why do Jews who think Palestine was promised to them by God not think that Muslims are included among those to whom the land was promised? After all, Muslims believe in one God, they practise circumcision, they observe (or are at least supposed to observe) dietary laws, they have a complicated religious legal code to follow, they honor the prophets, they believe the Hebrew Bible is divine revelation. There are good grounds for believing that the Palestinians, at any rate, are descended from the ancient Hebrews. What is there about them that means they are not recipients of the promise?

    • JeffB
      JeffB
      August 19, 2014, 1:28 pm

      @lysias

      There are good grounds for believing that the Palestinians, at any rate, are descended from the ancient Hebrews.

      Really, which grounds? What evidence does anyone have for this claim? The fact is there are no grounds for believing this claim and plenty of grounds for rejecting it. We have good records regarding the migrations of people’s and cultures and we know they moved in when Roman civilization created a vacuum. Their predecessor culture the Nabataeans lived in what today would be parts of Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia. They speak a form of Arabic descended from the Nabataeans (i.e. a language that evolved in the eastern Arabian peninsula spoken in the trade city of Petra). If they are the original inhabitants and theirs if the original culture of Palestine, where did they pick that language up from? The evidence is fully consistent with believing they migrated west as the Roman empire collapsed during the Muslim conquest. Which means they aren’t descendants of the ancient Hebrews, their predecessor culture didn’t even exist then (not that I believe there were ancient Hebrews but that’s another topic).

      There are no original inhabitants anywhere. Humans are a migratory species. It is one of the reasons you can find us in every climate on this planet.

      • lysias
        lysias
        August 19, 2014, 2:21 pm

        So your alleged evidence boils down to the fact that the Palestinians today speak Arabic. Does that mean that I, a descendant of Gaelic-speaking peasants, must be of Anglo-Saxon descent? Does that mean that Frenchmen speaking a language descended from Latin cannot be the descendants of Gauls?

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        August 20, 2014, 12:29 am

        @lysias

        So your alleged evidence boils down to the fact that the Palestinians today speak Arabic.

        No you had claimed there were grounds and I asked you what grounds. I then gave you one specific. You can reread it, it was not that they spoke Arabic.

        As an aside on your point regarding Gaul:
        a) Gaul is a bit south of what you are thinking it is I suspect
        b) Check out a history of the Merovingian dynasty

      • eljay
        eljay
        August 19, 2014, 2:29 pm

        >> JeffBeee: There are no original inhabitants anywhere.

        Thanks for finally laying to rest the well-worn claim that Palestine is the “homeland of the Jews”.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        Stephen Shenfield
        August 19, 2014, 7:37 pm

        Here is a good video about how Palestinians are descended from Jews:

      • pjdude
        pjdude
        August 20, 2014, 2:24 am

        in other words f the facts I’m gonna make stuff up cause I don’t like admiting the palestinians are actually indigenious.

        your argument is entirely based on linguistics which while can be helpful in the way your using it completely fails. using your logic filopinos are european in ethnicity.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        August 20, 2014, 4:10 am

        It is absurd to think that after the Romans slapped down the Jewish rebellions, all the Jews then left Palestine.

        It is absurd to think that the country was empty when the Muslims arrived.

        It is absurd to believe that none of the people who were there when the Muslims arrived were descendants of the Jews.

        It is wrong to think that language is a sure indicator of ethnic origin. In many places around the world there are black, brown, red, and yellow people who speak English as their first, and often only, language. Very few of them are direct descendants of Lincolnshire farmers.

    • Kris
      Kris
      August 19, 2014, 1:55 pm

      @lysias, I just can’t understand why, if God promised Palestine to the Jews, as the Jews claim, why wouldn’t God have let the Palestinians know this? Most of them are Muslims, and they pray five times a day, asking nothing from God but to submit to His will. If God had told them that they should allow European Jewish colonizers to rob them of everything, probably they would have obeyed His will.

      On the other hand, lots of Jews are atheists or only marginally religious and rarely darken the doors of their synagogues. Their “Judaism” is only cultural, about food, family, and ignorant support of Zionism. Israelis as a whole mock God with their repeated and unrepented violations of the Ten Commandments and their contempt for the words of God’s prophets.

    • eljay
      eljay
      August 19, 2014, 2:50 pm

      >> lysias: Why do Jews who think Palestine was promised to them by God not think that Muslims are included among those to whom the land was promised?

      There’s no reason for Jews to believe that the gawd and the promise they created for themselves would or should apply to a group of people (Muslims):
      – who didn’t exist at the time the god and the promise were created; and
      – whose religion is a mostly an unimaginative but convenient re-hash of Judaism and Christianity.

      Not that this validates either the gawd or the promise.

      • lysias
        lysias
        August 19, 2014, 3:21 pm

        There’s no reason for Jews to believe that the gawd and the promise they created for themselves would or should apply to a group of people (Muslims):
        – who didn’t exist at the time the god and the promise were created

        You’re telling me Rabbinic Judaism existed at that time?

      • eljay
        eljay
        August 19, 2014, 3:46 pm

        >> lysias: You’re telling me Rabbinic Judaism existed at that time?

        Are Rabbinic Jews not Jews?

      • lysias
        lysias
        August 19, 2014, 4:50 pm

        There’s no reason for Jews to believe that the gawd and the promise they created for themselves would or should apply to a group of people (Muslims):
        – who didn’t exist at the time the god and the promise were created

        If what matters is that one should belong to a group of people who existed at the time that the promise was made, Muslims belong to various groups of people that existed at that time, most notably, believers in the one God of Abraham. What’s more, Islam is just as much descended from early Judaism as Rabbinic Judaism is. Why should it matter that in English we happen to use the word “Jew” for one group and not for the other? In what sense is Islam any less genuine a descendant of early Judaism than Rabbinic Judaism is?

        whose religion is a mostly an unimaginative but convenient re-hash of Judaism and Christianity.

        How is that anything other than a subjective judgment of Islam? I take it you don’t like Islam. Why should that matter? Why is it not equally possible to make a similarly negative evaluation of Rabbinic Judaism, or of Christianity, for that matter?

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 19, 2014, 5:22 pm

        lysias, one step at a time, one step at a time. First the breakaway sect (which later becomes a majority) of non-Zionist Jews, and then later, the union with Islam and a religion which is a synthesis of the two. But you just can’t expect everybody to go all that way in one jump. Might take a couple of years.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 19, 2014, 5:30 pm

        “You’re telling me Rabbinic Judaism existed at that time?”

        Judaism has had several make-overs. What’s wrong with that? Changing time and conditions, changing religion. Happens to all of ’em.

      • lysias
        lysias
        August 19, 2014, 5:34 pm

        Judaism has had several make-overs. What’s wrong with that?

        I didn’t say there was anything wrong with it. It doesn’t disqualify Rabbinic Judaism from being a descendant of earlier Judaism, any more than Islam is disqualified just because it made some changes.

      • eljay
        eljay
        August 19, 2014, 6:57 pm

        >> lysias: … In what sense is Islam any less genuine a descendant of early Judaism than Rabbinic Judaism is?

        IMO, Islam is an opportunistic re-hash of Judaism and Christianity. I don’t know if that’s also true of Rabbinic Judaism. I don’t think it is, but I don’t really know.

        >> How is that anything other than a subjective judgment of Islam?

        It’s my opinion so, naturally, it’s a subjective judgement.

        >> I take it you don’t like Islam.

        I think all religions are foolish.

        >> Why should that matter?

        It doesn’t.

        >> Why is it not equally possible to make a similarly negative evaluation of Rabbinic Judaism, or of Christianity, for that matter?

        In my very humblest opinion, Rabbinic Judaism is still Judaism. Christianity, however, is not. Islam, which is further removed and derivative, is even less Judaism than is Christianity.

        If Muslims wanted to be Jews, they would have adopted Judaism and been entitled to partake in the Jewish gawd’s promise to land in Palestine. Instead, they created Islam and claimed it as a successor to Judaism. Just because they claimed Judaism doesn’t make them Jews or entitle them to the promises Jews made to themselves.

        A complete stranger could adopt my family name and my family’s customs, but that wouldn’t make part of my family and it would not entitle him to any share of the large inheritance promised to me and my siblings by my parents.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        August 20, 2014, 5:28 am

        If Mohammed would have continued praying towards Jerusalem and if there had been a major Jewish faction in early Islam, then one might be tempted to focus on the continuity between the faiths and to call Islam a descendant of Judaism. But unlike Christianity which was started by Jews, Islam was not started by a Jew and even if much of its lore and theology and practices were similar to Judaism, it is difficult to consider it a continuation of Judaism. The revelation of Mohammed and the laws of Islam were seen by Islam as replacing the laws of the Torah, that is not continuity. They were never near enough to each other for this to be called secession or innovation. It is related to Judaism and it is difficult to understand Islam and its place in history if one does not recognize the antecedent religion. But the two religions are not identical enough to really consider them one religion.

      • eljay
        eljay
        August 20, 2014, 1:31 pm

        >> aiman: Abraham in legend is the founder of monotheism from which Judaism is derived. Later Christianity and Islam negotiate with that discourse.

        Christianity and Islam can “negotiate with that discourse” all they want, but:
        – neither religion is Judaism;
        – the adherents of either of those religions are not Jews;
        – Judaism is neither of those religions; and
        – the adherents of Judaism are neither Christian nor Muslim.

        >> They are far from opportunistic rehashes as you claim, the same could be said of Judaism for opportunistically reducing the Abrahamic vision for the unity of a particular tribe.

        Sure, Judaism “reduced the Abrahamic vision for the unity of a particular tribe”. Islam, however, didn’t just do that for itself – it also co-opted both Judaism and Christianity as a means of legitimizing itself as a “successor religion” to both of those religions.

      • lysias
        lysias
        August 20, 2014, 2:30 pm

        Judaism, into the time of the Roman Empire, remained a proselytizing religion, like its Christian and Muslim descendants. Then, it ceased to be proselytizing, and made it very difficult for non-Jews to become Jews, so that it became, in theory, at any rate, a religion of one tribe. Isn’t that a more fundamental change than any change that Islam, at least, made to the religion?

      • Walid
        Walid
        August 20, 2014, 3:01 pm

        “Judaism, into the time of the Roman Empire, remained a proselytizing religion, like its Christian and Muslim descendants.”

        A branch of Islam, the Druze sect, a 9th century offshoot of the Shia does not proselytize and doesn’t accept converts.

      • Walid
        Walid
        August 20, 2014, 3:07 pm

        “IMO, Islam is an opportunistic re-hash of Judaism and Christianity. ” (eljay)

        An fair description if you accept that Christianity was itself a re-hash of Judaism. It all goes back to the Jews by whatever name one is to call them.

      • tree
        tree
        August 20, 2014, 4:19 pm

        It all goes back to the Jews by whatever name one is to call them.

        It goes back even farther to Zoroastrianism.

        Interesting trivia: Freddie Mercury, born Farokh Bulsara, was Zoroastrian. I miss his voice and his genius.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        August 20, 2014, 4:53 pm

        Parsi/Zoroastrian food is very tasty

        http://www.amazon.com/My-Bombay-Kitchen-Traditional-Cooking/dp/0520249607

        Zoroastrianism is like Judaism without the military cruelty

      • Bumblebye
        Bumblebye
        August 20, 2014, 7:11 pm

        @tree
        Full agreement re Freddie Mercury. I haven’t heard a voice that matches his. And tho I never went to a Queen concert, when watching videos of them I see a performer who pours himself out to the crowd. The best.

      • Another Steve
        Another Steve
        August 19, 2014, 11:56 pm

        There’s no reason for Jews to believe that the gawd and the promise they created for themselves would or should apply to a group of people (Muslims):
        – who didn’t exist at the time the god and the promise were created;

        Um, actually, Muslims did exist at the time.

        A Muslim is one who submits to God. Abraham was one who submitted to God. (I think even Jews are supposed to believe that.) Therefore, Abraham was a Muslim.

      • eljay
        eljay
        August 20, 2014, 9:26 am

        >> Um, actually, Muslims did exist at the time.

        No they didn’t. Islam didn’t exist before the 7th century. No Islam, no Muslims.

        >> A Muslim is one who submits to God.

        According to Islam, yes. Before Islam, anyone who “submitted to his god” was doing so according to his non-Islamic faith.

        >> Abraham was one who submitted to God.

        As a Jew, yes.

        >> Therefore, Abraham was a Muslim.

        According to Islam, but not according to Judaism. Abraham was a Jew. A Jew is not a Muslim (or a Christian), and a Muslim is not a Jew (or a Christian).

        Islam says Abraham was a Jew because the founders of Islam were attempting to co-opt Judaism and Christianity and wanted to give their new religion some legitimacy.

        Islam can say what it wants about Judaism – or Christianity, for that matter – but that doesn’t make its pronouncements valid.

      • eljay
        eljay
        August 20, 2014, 9:39 am

        And, anyway, you’ve got it backwards. Since Jews were submitting themselves to god long before Islam came around, one who submits himself to god is a Jew, not a Muslim. IOW, all Muslims are really Jews. Time for them to accept the reality and convert.

      • aiman
        aiman
        August 20, 2014, 10:32 am

        “According to Islam, but not according to Judaism. Abraham was a Jew.”

        Abraham preceded Judaism. Judaism is derived from the legend of Abraham, not the other way round.

      • aiman
        aiman
        August 20, 2014, 10:39 am

        Eljay: “And, anyway, you’ve got it backwards. Since Jews were submitting themselves to god long before Islam came around, one who submits himself to god is a Jew, not a Muslim. IOW, all Muslims are really Jews. Time for them to accept the reality and convert.”

        Perhaps you’d like to elaborate. I’ve read the Old Testament. I’ve even spoken to practising Jews, some of who believed that in Judaism God is particular to the tribe and other people may have other gods. In the anthropological sense, Judaism represents a primitive notion of God which is universalised in Christianity and Islam. So a non-member of the tribe can’t logically become one. You are thumping your chest as a form of cultural realisation and pretending to be a rational critic, you are just another new atheist with unacknowledged biases.

      • eljay
        eljay
        August 20, 2014, 11:01 am

        >> aiman: I’ve read the Old Testament.

        That’s nice.

        >> … Judaism represents a primitive notion of God which is universalised in Christianity and Islam. So a non-member of the tribe can’t logically become one.

        And yet by converting to Judaism non-Jews become Jews. Huh.

        >> You are thumping your chest as a form of cultural realisation and pretending to be a rational critic, you are just another new atheist with unacknowledged biases.

        1. I’m not pretending to be anything or anyone other than myself.
        2. Are you saying you agree with Another Steve‘s assertion that Jews are, in fact, Muslims?

      • eljay
        eljay
        August 20, 2014, 11:05 am

        >> aiman: Abraham preceded Judaism. Judaism is derived from the legend of Abraham, not the other way round.

        Judaism 101:

        Abraham, Isaac and Jacob … founded the religion now known as Judaism, and their descendants are the Jewish people. … [T]echnically, it is incorrect to refer to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as Jews … nevertheless, for convenience and in accordance with common practice, I will use these terms.

      • aiman
        aiman
        August 20, 2014, 11:53 am

        Eljay, your quote: “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob … founded the religion now known as Judaism, and their descendants are the Jewish people. … [T]echnically, it is incorrect to refer to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as Jews … nevertheless, for convenience and in accordance with common practice, I will use these terms.”

        Legends of Abraham like Noah preceded Judaism. He had nothing to do with Israel, Biblical or otherwise. The quote you’ve presented is a myth-making claim, not a logical one. It presents three figures from three generations as “founded the religion”. You only need to found something once. Abraham in legend is the founder of monotheism from which Judaism is derived. Later Christianity and Islam negotiate with that discourse. They are far from opportunistic rehashes as you claim, the same could be said of Judaism for opportunistically reducing the Abrahamic vision for the unity of a particular tribe.

      • tree
        tree
        August 20, 2014, 4:40 pm

        Islam can say what it wants about Judaism – or Christianity, for that matter – but that doesn’t make its pronouncements valid.

        As likewise, you can say whatever you want about all 3 religions but it doesn’t make your pronouncements valid. Aiman is right. Abraham preceded the advent of Judaism so he was not Jewish. Judaism views its followers as descendants of Abraham as does Islam though technically Abraham was neither a believer in Judaism nor Islam, as neither existed at the time.

        And Judaism derived much of its practices and beliefs from Zoroastrianism, which was most probably influenced by even earlier religions.

        2. Are you saying you agree with Another Steve‘s assertion that Jews are, in fact, Muslims?

        You are misinterpreting what both are saying. Abraham preceded BOTH religions. Technically he was neither Jewish nor Muslim because NEITHER existed at his time, but he is taken as the spiritual father of both. (Technically, he probably didn’t exist, and may have been derived from Zoroaster, who also may not have existed, Such is the way of religious belief.)

      • Another Steve
        Another Steve
        August 20, 2014, 7:52 pm

        Judah himself wasn’t going to be born for another three generations after Abraham, so it isn’t logical to call Abraham a Jew. Nor would it make sense to identify Abraham as an Israelite, because Israel (Jacob) was still two generations away.

        According to the Biblical narrative, Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob (AKA Israel) and Jacob begat Judah.

        The word “Muslim” is an Arabic and it means “one who submits.” So, if we accept that Abraham submitted to God, we must also conclude that at least in some sense of the word he was a Muslim.

      • eljay
        eljay
        August 20, 2014, 3:16 pm

        >> Walid: An fair description if you accept that Christianity was itself a re-hash of Judaism.

        I’d say Christianity was more of a derivative or an off-shoot of Judaism than a re-hash. But that’s just my “new atheist” (whatever that means) opinion. :-)

        >> It all goes back to the Jews by whatever name one is to call them.

        The only appropriate name I can think of for Jews is Jews, not Muslims.

      • eljay
        eljay
        August 20, 2014, 6:13 pm

        >> tree: As likewise, you can say whatever you want about all 3 religions but it doesn’t make your pronouncements valid.

        Fair enough. I retract all my statements and accept the assertions made that:
        there’s no good reason to exclude Muslims from the promise God made to Jews regarding Palestine; and
        Abraham was a Muslim.

  5. seafoid
    seafoid
    August 19, 2014, 12:32 pm

    Greater Israel is illegitimate. As is the siege. As is apartheid.
    But they always bring it back to Hamas. No discussion ever about basic rights. It’s always spin.

  6. Boomer
    Boomer
    August 19, 2014, 12:38 pm

    Thanks for this analysis. My reaction was similar when I read it, but I didn’t make the effort to write an analysis. Truly, a full analysis of its bias would be a massive task, and a distasteful one. His op-ed (for that is what it is) is filled with examples, right up to the conclusion:

    “After all, it was in Gaza that Samson, calling on God, pulled down a temple on his Philistine enemies, making him an early kind of suicide bomber.”

    A full explication even of that one sentence would take a paragraph, and would tax my patience, so filled is it with the typical inversion of fact deployed by defenders of Israel.

    At least he does, in the second sentence, acknowledge (obliquely, implicitly, not forthrightly) that the problem stems from the forceable “Redemption of the Land,” i.e., ethnic cleansing, in 1948. Ever since, the surviving refugees and their children have been hounded from what homes they could find and otherwise oppressed, with assistance from the United States.

    • John O
      John O
      August 19, 2014, 1:09 pm

      Samson, of course, took some time out to regain his strength after a woman (of course) got him rat-arsed drunk and cut his crowning glory off.

  7. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    August 19, 2014, 12:38 pm

    Both Steve Erlanger (NYT) and James North (Mondoweiss) mentioned that Hamas offered a “hudna”, but NEITHER ONE mentioned that Hamas offered a **TEN YEAR** hudna, in exchange for lifting the blockade of Gaza and freeing Palestinian political prisoners.
    Any Israeli government that really wanted peace would take Hamas up on the offer. During those 10 years, negotiations might be fruitful.
    The truth is that Begin, Sharon, and Netanyahu don’t really want peace, because they gain too much from war.
    I understand why the NYT omits the 10 year length of the hudna. Readers would think “10 years is a very long time in politics. Wonder why Israel doesn’t take them up on the offer?”

    And for those who say, “How do we know the offer from Hamas was sincere?”
    the reply is “if you think Hamas is bluffing, Israel could call their bluff.”

    Israeli leaders felt that they couldn’t afford to call the bluff (if it was a bluff). Israeli leaders prefer war (where Israel has an enormous advantage) to peace and international politics, where nearly the whole world supports the Palestinians.

  8. tokyobk
    tokyobk
    August 19, 2014, 12:56 pm

    Several points work but in fact Hamas uses the term itself for example in 2008:

    “Khaled Mashaal told The Associated Press that he made the offer to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in talks on Saturday. “We have offered a truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, a truce of 10 years as a proof of recognition,” Mashaal said. In his comments Monday, Mashaal used the Arabic word “hudna,” meaning truce, which is more concrete than “tahdiya” — a period of calm — which Hamas often uses to describe a simple cease-fire. “Hudna” implies a recognition of the other party’s existence.”

    And why not? Why would not an Islamic party model itself after the prophet of Islam when after all he is held up rightfully as a successful strategist?

    The problem is the double standard, though I think when Israelis or American leaders like George Bush refer to God and the bible as part of their motivation it is picked up on, at least by critics. References to Amalek etc…

  9. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    August 19, 2014, 1:09 pm

    That is an interesting statement, thanks. I am not quite sure who is stating that the term ‘hudna’ indicates recognition of the other party’s existence, Hamas or Associated Press. I rather think that the Ottoman Empire in its high days operated through a series of ‘truces’ with its Christian neighbours and that the intention to attack Vienna on that famous occasion was indicated by a renewal of the truce with Russia but not with Austria – in later times there were treaties of a more normal nature. Whether this is an encouraging precedent I don’t know.

  10. Dan From Away
    Dan From Away
    August 19, 2014, 1:44 pm

    The definitive Hans Wehr Arabic-English dictionary defines “hudna” this way:

    “hudna – calm(ness), quietness, peace, tranquility, stillness, pause, intermission, cessation; truce, armistice”

    Hans Wehr, p. 1199

  11. adele
    adele
    August 19, 2014, 2:26 pm

    Erlanger’s usage of orientalist tropes is just another form of hostility and prejudice of islamic culture, ergo: islamophobia. He is so enmeshed within this socio/political construct that he is probably not even aware of how offensive his “analysis” and opinion is.

    • Boomer
      Boomer
      August 19, 2014, 3:13 pm

      ” . . . probably not even aware of how offensive his “analysis” and opinion is.”

      That could apply to so many Zionists. See, for example, many things by the R. Cohen or J. Goldberg of your choice.

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      August 19, 2014, 3:14 pm

      The great thing about using Orientalist language is that brown people thus described have no rights whatsoever. They aren’t mature enough for rational thought or agency.

  12. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    August 19, 2014, 3:05 pm

    Assuming that the use of the word Allah for God, in reference to Hamas claims was not based on some literary view of Hamas claims, but rather their specific language which would be used by them to describe their claims, then the hypothetical phrase offered by James North should not be, ““Jews who have settled in the West Bank claim the whole of the British mandate of Palestine as land granted by Yahweh, which cannot be ceded.” but rather “Jews who have settled in the West Bank claim the whole of the British mandate of Palestine as land granted by Hashem, which cannot be ceded”. Most Jews never use the term Yahweh in public or private to refer to God, they use the word, “Hashem” which means “the name”, because the unpronounceable name of God is never used.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      August 19, 2014, 4:14 pm

      “Most Jews never use the term Yahweh in public or private to refer to God, they use the word, “Hashem” which means “the name”, because the unpronounceable name of God is never used.”

      Oh, tell it to the Gentiles, Yonah. I’ve heard some oaths so bloodcurdling you could say they were taking the Lord’s name in vein. And on Shabbos too! We swear just like anybody else.

    • Xpat
      Xpat
      August 19, 2014, 5:09 pm

      Orthodox settlers including the so-called “ideological settlers” would use “Hashem.” The secular ones, along with non-Orthodox politicians, use “Elohim”. “Yahweh”, as Yonah points out, is taboo.
      Settler politicans regularly use “Adonai” (the holy name that is only used in prayers and reading Scripture) to make their claim on Palestine, including the West Bank. They just do so by quoting Scripture. I think rendering “Adonai” – the conventional Jewish representation of Yahweh – as the original “Yahweh” is reasonable.

      Now who is here for the stoning?

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 19, 2014, 5:24 pm

        “Now who is here for the stoning?”

        You know me, I always think we should leave no turn unstoned.

      • DaBakr
        DaBakr
        August 19, 2014, 6:19 pm

        and now you have a problem with terns. typical.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 20, 2014, 7:38 pm

        I got no problem separating the boys from the gulls.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        August 21, 2014, 5:47 am

        But in all the harbours I have seen (and that’s quite a few) the gulls keep going back to the buoys.

  13. adamantine
    adamantine
    August 19, 2014, 4:48 pm

    “In peace we make preparations, and in war we use what we have readied,”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.611398

    steve is correct about the operational and active doctrine of hudna, and other scriptural precedents – it happens. he wasn’t speaking accurately for all hamas members equally, but his point is in itself not orientalist – it’s factual.

    on the other hand, james may be partly correct about steve, if steve’s view is as undifferentiated as the quotes represent. for james to be equally undifferentiated with the orientalist tarbrush isn’t any better though. there are current justifications for the hudna assertion, as the article i have linked to demonstrates. does a hamas member’s drawing on scriptural entitlement and example make him or her orientalist?

    compulsive bias against exclusion/oppression/discrimination of minorities is itself part of the dynamic of this conflict.

    • tear-stained uzi
      tear-stained uzi
      August 20, 2014, 5:34 am

      compulsive bias against exclusion/oppression/discrimination of minorities is itself part of the dynamic of this conflict.

      Shocking that some people would be ‘compulsively biased against’ such trivialities.

      I know I’m weird, but I’m glad they are. If only such ‘compulsives’ could be found in positions of power.

  14. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    August 19, 2014, 7:10 pm

    RE: “The other day, the New York Times offered another nice specimen of Orientalist technique. A “news analysis” by Steven Erlanger included the following paragraph . . . ~ James North

    MY COMMENT: I would love to hear that paragraph read by Bernard Lewis. Only he can truly imbue it with the timeless quality deserving of an Orientalist pontificating during the heyday of the British Empire. When I listen to Bernard discourse on the untamed natives of the British Middle East, I am carried back, as if by magic carpet, to the blissful haunts of my ill-spent youth!

  15. Eva Smagacz
    Eva Smagacz
    August 19, 2014, 8:43 pm

    Hi Dickerson, I quite enjoyed the orientalist treasure trove hidden in your comment, especially black beards of male protagonists, black skin of the servants and whiteness of the skin of odalisques –
    Really, who are we to point finger at Israelis for anti-miscegenation mini riots, and chants “Death to Arabs”! Were we really that much more civilised a mere couple of centuries ago?

  16. JeffB
    JeffB
    August 20, 2014, 1:21 am

    @lysias and Eljay

    FWIW. With the rise of the Hasmonean dynasty in Judea Hasmonean Judaism forms. The previous forms of Judaism that existed are not applicable to the culture that now exists and a legal caste emerges which becomes Pharisaic Judaism. Pharisaic Judaism exists in a world of multiple Jewish sects which in a meaningful sense all die out as forms of Judaism though many of them do have “god fearers” / gentile followers and become non-Jewish religions with Jewish influence. Christianity being the most well known example. Rabbinic Judaism is generally considered to be the Judaism when there are is one sect which also coincides with the completion of the Mishnah.

    Judean Sacrificial cult of the 4th century -> Hasmonean Judaism -> Pharisaic Judaism -> Rabbinic Judaism

    Islam emerges from a variety of sects. The largest contribution is Collyridian Christianity which is a matriarchal Christianity that exists in the Arabian peninsula which came from Tatian’s group of Encratite Christians. Taitan was gentile and was inspired by Jewish literature among many other things, but had no more “Jewish blood” than any other 2nd century Roman empire citizen would have had. The various Encratites who followed him were if they were descended from Jews at all were likely 1/2 or 1/4 Jewish.

    So you would be looking at much longer chains which are intermixing but each chain would be substantially longer something like:
    Judean Sacrificial cult of the 4th century -> Hasmonean Judaism -> Sadducee Judaism -> Tzadok Movement -> Essenic Judaism -> proto-Christian group (like Elkasaites) -> early Logos Roman Christian movement -> Tatian Encratites -> Collyridians -> Islam.

    So Eljay is right. Both biologically and literarily Rabbinic Judaism is closer to 6th century BCE Judaism. I don’t believe “ancient Judaism” in the sense of Abraham ever existed but if it did exist it would be a few steps earlier on both chains.

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