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‘New York Times’ on Palestinians sounds like it’s opining about ‘Negro Problem’

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After Donald Trump’s historic comments at the White House Wednesday about his indifference to a one- or two-state outcome, The New York Times ran an editorial rating the president’s comments as “nonsensical.” The editorial conceded that there may never be a Palestinian state before describing Israel’s “miserable choice.”

The likeliest outcome, given the growth rate of the Arab population, is that Israel would be confronted with a miserable choice: to give up being a Jewish state — or to give up being a democratic state by denying full voting rights to Palestinians.

Adam Shatz in the London Review of Books landed on the Times’s framing:

Notice here that the ‘choice’ belongs exclusively to Israel. Palestinians, as always, are the objects of a decision, and never the decision-makers. That these options – ceasing to be a Jewish state or allowing non-Jews full citizenship rights – are considered equally lamentable is a gift to historians. One day this kind of commentary will be read in much the same way as we now read Times editorials from the 1950s on the ‘Negro Problem’.

Israel made its choice long ago, without much hand-wringing. It is impossible to imagine the Jewish state without bulldozers and settlements, even in the unlikely event of the US government withdrawing its annual $3.8 billion dollars of aid. The real question isn’t the choice that faces Israel, but the choice that faces Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem and the diaspora, as they confront an apartheid regime, and an impending single-state reality, which appears, this week, to have the backing of the White House, and the complicity of America’s Arab allies.

Happily, Shatz’s understanding is now widely shared among Times readers. The newspaper’s initial story on Trump’s comments has 1016 comments. The Times editors (to their credit) chose this one from D. Hall of Canada near the top.

The two state solution has been dead for years – killed by Israel’s policy of massive settlement building in the heart of what could have been a Palestinian state. Much as I detest Trump, the previous policy of ‘let’s pretend’ was a thily veiled policy of allowing Israel to use its military power to do whatever it liked. Nothing Trump can do is going to make that worse.

Israel, and its supporters, will just have to face the alternatives they have created. They can have a single, secular state with equal rights for all people regardless of ethnicity or religion. Or they can have an apartheid state with Palestinian bantulands, until they lack the political and military power to maintain it.

everything else is just spin, smoke and mirrors. And if, as seems likely, Israel and its suporters go with the Apartheid approach, they had best pray for someone of Nelson Mandela to be in charge when that corrupt option dissolves – as it inevitably will.

Many other Times commenters are just as sensible.

But let’s get back to the Times‘s Negro Problem. On Wednesday, Tom Friedman published a column titled, “President Trump, Will You Save the Jews?” which is written from the standpoint of “Jewish history.” If Donald Trump doesn’t curb the Israeli settlement project, Friedman warns, American Jews are going to be at each others’ throats:

As long as the two-state solution was on the table, the debate among Jews on Israel was “right versus left” and “more security versus less security.” Some thought the border should be here; others thought it should be there. But we could mostly all agree that for Israel to remain a Jewish democratic state, it had to securely separate from most of the 2.7 million West Bank Palestinians. That debate could and did go on in every synagogue, Jewish institution and Jewish country club, without tearing them apart.

But if Netanyahu’s weak leadership and the overreach of the settlers in his party end up erasing the two-state solution, the debate within the Jewish community will move from “left versus right” to “right versus wrong.” That debate will not be about which are the best borders to defend the state of Israel, said the Hebrew University philosopher Moshe Halbertal, “but whether the state is worth defending in moral terms.”..

That debate will tear apart virtually every synagogue, Jewish organization and Jewish group on every campus in America, and around the world. Israel will divide world Jewry.

It is hard to imagine a more hermetic attitude to the fate of millions of Palestinians living under apartheid than Tom Friedman’s pieties about Jewish consensus in the United States.

As if the debate about two states among communal American Jews did ANYTHING to help the Palestinians. People who cared about human rights should have torn those communal institutions apart! That might have ended the occupation! It might have disgraced the neoconservatives before they helped start a war. But, no, in order to maintain Friedman’s blessed cohesion, Wolf Blitzer taking leaks from the Israeli embassy helped to destroy Breira as pro-Palestinian back in the 70s, B’nai Jeshurun endlessly hosts neoconservatives at its progressive synagogue; and Peace Now stayed on the board of the rightwing Conference of Presidents; and the big Jewish organizations did their utmost, using the most coercive measures, to make sure our government never put any pressure on Israel to adhere to U.S. policy. The occupation is an American Jewish achievement; it is 50 years old now; thanks to Friedman’s generation not fighting outright. The great thing about the next generation of Jews is that they are actually resisting these communal forces. Some day they may save the Times from the Negro Problem…

Philip Weiss

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

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34 Responses

  1. eljay on February 17, 2017, 1:11 pm

    – do not care about justice and morality in I-P;
    – do care about how much “Jewish State” injustice and immorality they can get away with.

  2. John O on February 17, 2017, 1:56 pm

    The day before the Trump/Netanyahu lovefest, I was thinking, “By the end of tomorrow, Trump will have either ruined America’s relations with Israel, or its relations with every other country between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.”

    I underestimated him: he’s done both. Israeli politicians to the right of Netanyahu (i.e. completely crazy) will see the green light and jump out of the plane, without first checking whether they’ve strapped their parachutes on. They will proclaim a single state from the sea to the Jordan. Then, they will be faced with the dilemma all we Mondoweiss folks know so well – will it be a Jewish apartheid state, which will become a pariah; or will it be a democratic state with a Jewish minority sharing power with a non-Jewish majority?

    Meanwhile, the rulers of several Arab states, which Trump seems to think will form some sort of grand alliance against Shia Islam, will see the threat to their own interests from the US’s new position, and act accordingly.

    If Trump had suggested turning the Al Aqsa Mosque/Wailing Wall into a crazy golf course, he could have hardly f%$*ed things up further.

    • eljay on February 17, 2017, 2:19 pm

      || John O: … If Trump had suggested turning the Al Aqsa Mosque/Wailing Wall into a crazy golf course … ||

      Such a golf course would be a fabulous golf course, probably – and I’m not joking – without a doubt the greatest golf course in the world or the Middle East or anywhere else, trust me.

      • John O on February 17, 2017, 2:38 pm

        @eljay. Trump’s already promised that golf course to the good Scottish folk of Aberdeen. It’s all getting a bit like the plot of “The Producers”.

      • Mooser on February 17, 2017, 3:26 pm

        .” It’s all getting a bit like the plot of “The Producers”.”

        You know it! Where Did He Go Right?”

        “Oh, we knew we couldn’t lose
        Half the audience were Jews!”

    • Sibiriak on February 18, 2017, 3:35 am

      John O: . They will proclaim a single state from the sea to the Jordan

      No they won’t. They are absolutely NOT going to claim Gaza as part of Israel.

      Naftali Bennett, head of Israel’s far-right, pro-settler Jewish Home party, hailed Mr Trump’s remarks as “new ideas” and the start of “a new era”.

      “No need for 3rd Palestinian state beyond Jordan & Gaza.

      And most likely they will not claim some highly populous chunks of the WB.

      Israeli Zionists may be evil, but they are not so stupid as a lot of people are assuming.

  3. AddictionMyth on February 17, 2017, 2:17 pm

    It’s wonderful! Just enshrine equal rights and full freedom of speech and religion into the new Constitution. Everything will be fine I promise. :-)

  4. John O on February 17, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Tom Friedman “President Trump, Will You Save the Jews?”

    Huh? I know Friedman’s an idiot (despite his Pulitzer Prizes), but really. Why should the Goyim have to step in (again)?

    • marc b. on February 17, 2017, 4:59 pm

      He is out of his f*cking tree. And if they are holding themselves hostage, who are ‘we’ supposed to negotiate with?

    • Mooser on February 17, 2017, 5:40 pm

      Friedman is right about one thing. If the Jews of America have to appeal to Donald Trump for saving, we are in deep, deep doo-doo.

      And don’t worry, Tom, we will walk away from Zionism unscathed, and smelling like a rose.

  5. JLewisDickerson on February 17, 2017, 4:48 pm


    Published on Apr 25, 2014
    Transcript –

    …” and so what I’ve testified to ya’, I was in the WATTS riot, I seen the beginning fire and I seen the last fire. What I seen is civil disturbance. People are not happy, people is thinking they did not have their freedom; they didn’t have these things, and they didn’t have them.

    We’ve progressed quite a bit from that day until now, and sure don’t want to go back; we sure don’t want the colored people to go back to that point; we sure don’t want the Mexican people to go back to that point; and we can make a difference right now by taking care of some of these bureaucracies, and do it in a peaceful way.

    Let me tell.. talk to you about the Mexicans, and these are just things I know about the negroes. I want to tell you one more thing I know about the negro.

    When I go, went, go to Las Vegas, North Las Vegas; and I would see these little government houses, and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids…. and there was always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch. They didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for the kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for the young girls to do.

    And because they were basically on government subsidy — so now what do they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never, they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered are they were better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things? Or are they better off under government subsidy?

    You know they didn’t get more freedom, uh they got less freedom — they got less family life, and their happiness -you could see it in their faces- they were not happy sitting on that concrete sidewalk. Down there they was probably growing their turnips — so that’s all government, that’s not freedom.

    Now, let me talk about the Spanish people. You know I understand that they come over here against our constitution and cross our borders. But they’re here and they’re people — and I’ve worked side-by-side a lot of them.

    Don’t tell me they don’t work, and don’t tell me they don’t pay taxes. And don’t tell me they don’t have better family structure than most of us white people. When you see those Mexican families, they’re together, they picnic together, they’re spending their time together, and I’ll tell you in my way of thinking they’re awful nice people.

    And we need to have those people join us and be with us…. not, not come to our party.

    • JLewisDickerson on February 17, 2017, 11:55 pm

      RE: “CLIVEN OWEN” – me (from above)

      CORRECTION: Where the hell did I get ‘Owen’ from? Perhaps I was listening to a podcast at the same time. I meant ‘Bundy’, of course. As in Al Bundy, with his “Big ‘Uns” magazines. ‘Ceptin’ this is his cousin Cliven Bundy!

      • JLewisDickerson on February 18, 2017, 2:49 pm

        RE: “Where the hell did I get ‘Owen’ from?” ~ me (from above)

        ANSWERING MYSELF: From Clive Owen, the actor, you dimwit!

  6. irishmoses on February 17, 2017, 5:09 pm

    Netanyahu looked and sounded kind of nervous to me, like he wasn’t quite sure what he was dealing with. Trump has given him an uncomfortable choice. Find something agreeble with the Palestinians that involves one state or two states. The operative term is “agreeable” to both sides. If the Palestinians say we’ll agree to a single state in which we have all the civil rights declared our right in the Balfour Declaration, how do the Israelis respond? ” No, we can’t agree to equal rights,” what then? That response denies the validity of Balfour and implies Israel can only accept an apartheid state. So the Palestinians say, “OK, we’ll accept the terms of the Arab Peace Plan.” What then? Do the Israelis say, “No, we get to keep and annex all the large settlements.” That’s not going to fly.

    Tough choice, Bibi, your buddy, The Donald, has hoisted you on your own petard. You should be nervous, very nervous. Piss off The Donald and he will get very nasty and very public. I can’t wait for his tweets. “Israel doesn’t believe in equal rights for all. So sad.”

    • Mooser on February 17, 2017, 5:31 pm

      “irishmoses” it might get worse than that! What if Trump tweets “Israel doesn’t believe in equal rights for all. Steve Bannon explained it all to me. So sad.”

    • RoHa on February 18, 2017, 10:06 am

      For Heaven’s sake, don’t they teach anything in schools now?

      “Has hoist you with your own petard.”

      • Mooser on February 18, 2017, 12:13 pm

        “For Heaven’s sake, don’t they teach anything in schools now?”

        I’ll have you know, “RoHa”, that I received an excellent sex education and health education (from a brave, but obviously embarrassed school nurse drafted for the class, bless her) which has stood me in good stead the rest of my life. It’s prevented me from being hoist by my own peter.

      • JLewisDickerson on February 18, 2017, 2:26 pm
      • JLewisDickerson on February 18, 2017, 2:44 pm

        From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia –

        [EXCERPT] A petard is a small bomb used for blowing up gates and walls when breaching fortifications. It is of French origin and dates back to the 16th century.[1] A typical petard was a conical or rectangular metal device containing 2–3 kg (5 or 6 pounds) of gunpowder, with a slow match for a fuse.

        • Etymology
        Pétard comes from the Middle French péter, to break wind, from the root pet, expulsion of intestinal gas, derived from the Latin peditus, past participle of pedere, to break wind. In modern French, a pétard is a firecracker (and it is the basis for the word for firecracker in several other European languages).

        Pétardiers were deployed during sieges of castles or fortified cities. The pétard, a rather primitive and exceedingly dangerous explosive device, comprised a brass or iron bell-shaped device filled with gunpowder and affixed to a wooden base called a madrier. This was attached to a wall or gate using hooks and rings, the fuse lit and, if successful, the resulting explosive force, concentrated at the target point, would blow a hole in the obstruction, allowing assault troops to enter.

        Shakespeare’s phrase, “hoist with his own petard,” is an idiom that means “to be harmed by one’s own plan to harm someone else” or “to fall into one’s own trap”, implying that one could be lifted (blown) upward by one’s own bomb, or in other words, be foiled by one’s own plan. . .

  7. ErsatzYisrael on February 17, 2017, 8:25 pm

    ‘New York Times’ on Palestinians sounds like it’s opining about ‘Negro Problem’

    Chaim Weizman opining to Arthur Ruppin on the Palestinian ‘Negro Problem’:

    “…a comment by [Chaim] Weizmann to Arthur Ruppin, head of the colonisation department of the Jewish Agency, is particularly revealing. When asked by Ruppin about the Palestinian Arabs and how he (Weizmann) obtained the Balfour Declaration in 1917, Weizmann replied: ‘The British told us that there are some hundred thousand negroes [kushim in Hebrew] and for those there is no value’ ([Yosef] Heller[, Bama’vak Lemedinah, Hamediniyut Hatzionit Bashanim 1936–1948 (The Struggle for the State: The Zionist Policy 1936–1948) (Jerusalem:] 1984:[), p.] 140).”

    [Emphasis added]

    The above was quoted from page 5 of 60 years after the Nakba
    by Dr Nur Masalha
    , a PDF copy of which can be downloaded HERE. Also see HERE and from 0:08:32 HERE [NB: Noam Chomsky says that Weizmann used the word “schwartzes”, not “kushim”].

    And from Benny Morris’s Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1998, pp. 45-46:

    “ Though still a small minority, the settlers quickly began to behave like lords and masters, some apparently resorting to the whip at the slightest provocation [my emphasis]. This was a major source of Arab animosity. Some Jewish observers saw it as the “new Jews” compensating for centuries of being at the receiving end of gentile violence. To the Arabs the insult and bewilderment were all the more severe in that the Jews had traditionally been seen as inferior, in terms of legal status and power, and as subservient, dependent, and weak. Explaining an incident in Jaffa in March 1908, the British consul in Jerusalem, Edward Blech, said that some immigrants were “turbulent and aggressive, saturated with socialistic ideas.” Zalman David Levontin said the Jews occasionally walked around town provocatively armed.

    Ahad Ha’Am in 1891 warned that the new settlers must behave “cautiously… [and] act with love and respect” toward Arabs. But the settlers, he wrote, finding themselves in a land “with limitless freedom,” as the Turkish authorities were extremely lax, began to exhibit “a tendency to despotism as happens always when a slave turns into a master.”45 Two years later he wrote: “The attitude of the colonists to their tenants and their families is exactly the same as towards their animals.” The settlers appear to have commonly referred to their laborers as “mules,” an analogy drawn from the Talmudic comparison between asses and Canaanite slaves.

    Attitudes translated into deeds. Ahad Ha’Am wrote, with perhaps a measure of exaggeration, that the Zionist colonists “behave towards the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, trespass without justification, beat them shamefully without sufficient cause and then boast about it.” Rehovot—exceptionally among the colonies—repeatedly issued rulings forbidding the beating of Arabs. In 1898 a settler was fined 39 grush (there were 100 grush to the Turkish pound [TL], which was worth just under £1), about seven days’ pay for a laborer, for beating an Arab who, on the instruction of another settler, drove a cart through his vineyard. The following year a settler was fined TL 4 for “cruelly beating” an Arab. Three-quarters of the fine went to the victim; the settler was also ordered to pay hospital costs. Arabs came so to respect the Rehovot judicial committee that they brought before it complaints against Jewish settlers and at least one dispute among themselves.

    But in most moshavot Arabs were treated like the indigenous peoples in other places colonized by Europeans. When Smilansky informed Ahad Ha’Am of this behavior, the latter wrote: “[If] now [we behave] thus, how will we behave towards the others if we really reach the position, at some point, of rulers of Eretz Yisrael?”50 And besides occasional brutality, some settlers also indulged in a Diaspora practice that had often engendered anti-Semitism in the past—usury. Smilansky charged that some settlers were lending money to Arabs at “30 and 40 per cent interest.” At Rehovot the committee explicitly forbade the practice.”

  8. Marnie on February 18, 2017, 3:15 am

    “The likeliest outcome, given the growth rate of the Arab population, is that Israel would be confronted with a miserable choice: to give up being a Jewish state — or to give up being a democratic state by denying full voting rights to Palestinians.”

    Yeah, the “nits make lice” or the controversy wrt ethiopian jews given depo-provera w/o their informed consent (told they were immunizations).

    ‘israel’ was never a democratic state, never. Why does this flagrant lie continue to go unchallenged? Every time netanyahoo brags about ‘israel’s ‘democracy’ his mic should get cut off and he should be schooled, like tRUMP was at his rehashing of his ‘historic’ electoral college win, which was corrected by the journalist.

    Reporter corrects President Donald Trump over vote count … – YouTube

    Video for youtube – reporter corrects trump about electoral win 0:50

    It never gets old.

  9. Boomer on February 18, 2017, 9:14 am

    “It is hard to imagine a more hermetic attitude . . .”

    That’s a rather genteel way of putting it, a rather gentle way — almost oblique one might say — but certainly true. Nothing new, of course. It’s good of you to point it out, good of you to say it. Even now, there are Americans who don’t adequately understand the reality of Palestine and America’s role there.

    I was one of those Americans until 9/11 prompted me to read and learn. One of the best resources for me was a short course presented by the Palestinian Administration’s office in DC. At that time I still looked to Friedman — and the NYT — for insight and wisdom on this topic. During the discussion it became clear that the instructor did not share this perspective.

    Like you, she was polite, genteel, restrained, but even so I was a bit surprised, even shocked. I considered myself better-read than the average American: after all I had for years read NYT, WSJ and WaPo daily. This in the days before the WWW transformed how we got news. Could my view of the world be so mistaken? It took some time for me understand just how ignorant I had been.

    It’s ironic how Mr. Trump has seemingly elevated the debate on this topic. Not Obama, the thoughtful, cultivated, informed, professorial tool, but Mr. Trump. One honest, off-hand sentence, one “gaffe” in the DC sense of “speaking the truth”, creates a crisis among the Zionists. I suspect they will survive, and the Palestinians won’t, but at least there is a moment of greater clarity.

  10. John Douglas on February 18, 2017, 10:15 am

    I’ve seen a lot of comparisons between Israel and pre-Mandela South Africa. And they are apt. But when whites lost the majority in SA, they didn’t exactly become powerless. The French in Canada are not powerless.

    Has anyone actually produced an argument or prediction about what it would mean to jewish Israelis (at least the ones of good will) if the Arabs (Muslim and Christian) were to reach a population majority?

    • Ellen on February 18, 2017, 2:15 pm

      John, maybe life would be just like it was for the Jews of Palestine before the European Zionists entered the scene to claim the region.

      • Boomer on February 18, 2017, 3:25 pm

        Or maybe they would move to the U.S.

    • Citizen on February 18, 2017, 2:54 pm

      @ john douglas
      I wonder if this is true?

      • John Douglas on February 18, 2017, 6:45 pm

        Citizen, thanks for the reference. I had not seen it or any report of white SA deaths at near those figures. I’ll need to check it out.

  11. Ellen on February 18, 2017, 2:13 pm

    “The occupation is an American Jewish achievement; it is 50 years old now; thanks to Friedman’s generation not fighting outright….”

    Me thinks you give way too much credit to the Jews of the USA. Sure, the US may be the bulwark of the support behind the ongoing occupation of a people, but not alone. The support comes in many ways and with many countries — trade agreements, donation laws, etc.

    There is an entire industry in Europe to leave all or much of your estate to Israel. “Israel als Erbe” which in turn directly supports the occupation industry. For example:

  12. Mooser on February 18, 2017, 4:28 pm

    “There is an entire industry in Europe to leave all or much of your estate to Israel. “Israel als Erbe” which in turn directly supports the occupation industry.”

    Of course there is!
    Should a parent fight a battle of wills with their non-Zionist kids while unarmed? No! Just leave a few of the “Israel als Erbe” brochures around the house, the kids will get the message.

  13. Sulphurdunn on February 18, 2017, 4:44 pm

    If you want to know what a one state solution would look like, look no farther than the present status quo. Consider the legal status of Palestinian and other minority citizens of Israel today. Ask yourself if annexing the West Bank and declaring the Palestinians there citizens of Israel would end the occupation or change the policy of slow population displacement. Israel’s fatal flaw was the Zionist belief that it could reenact the original conquest of Canaan in the 20th century and create a modern, tribal state just for Jews. Today, half the population of Greater Israel is non-Jewish. Soon, Jews will be a minority. The status quo is untenable. According to scripture, creating a Jewish state in 1250 BC required genocide. Perhaps, today it can be done by expelling millions and merely killing thousands. G-d knows, there are plenty of Israeli and American Jews willing to do it rather than suffer an impure, multi-ethnic state with equality under the law.

    • Mooser on February 18, 2017, 7:29 pm

      “there are plenty of Israeli and American Jews willing to do it rather than suffer an impure, multi-ethnic state with equality under the law.”

      Yeah, “plenty!” Why, there must be thousands of American and Israeli Jews who would do that.

  14. James Canning on February 18, 2017, 6:39 pm

    Many people appear to assume that areas with too many illegal Jewish settlers, in the occupied West Bank, must not become part of an independent Palestine. I think the assumption is wrong.

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