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Thank God, liberal, New York Times-reading Americans are immune to propaganda

Media Analysis
on 29 Comments

The media have been carrying breathless new reports about the extent of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.  I am willing to believe every word and still think these people are behaving like hysterical McCarthyite morons.

Let me be the skunk at the garden party and say that this sounds like a huge load of melodrama. Nothing the Russians did even comes remotely close to the lies and misinformation and deceptive reporting that Americans inflict on each other. The Russians aren’t the ones who persuaded many Americans that global warming is a hoax, just to pick one extremely important example.

And the Russians aren’t dividing our society. This sounds like something  white racists used to say about the Civil Rights movement. We have been divided into various political tribes for decades now. Anyone who has ever listened to talk radio or watched the hideous cable news channels would know this.

I have seen a number of New York Times readers react with shock to the US supported Saudi war crimes in Yemen.  They seem to have just learned about this.  How is this possible?  What sort of democracy do we have when our government is complicit in crimes against humanity since 2015 and most Americans only learn about it now? (And the Times’s expert on Yemen rationalizes the paper’s indifference to the story).

Are we supposed to blame the Russians for our immense societal stupidity? The Russian lies are a drop in the ocean of American generated duplicity.

Michelle Goldberg gives exactly my argument for why Russian meddling shouldn’t be seen as so cosmic in significance– though she thinks she is giving an argument for its significance.

“In an election decided by a rounding error — fewer than 80,000 voters spread over three states — Russian trolling easily could have made the difference.”

Samantha Power makes the same argument about Moscow’s interference:

Many people saying Trump wd have won anyway: very unlikely! Hillary lost by 10,704 votes in Michigan (0.2%), 46,765 in Pennsylvania (0.7%) & 22,177 (0.8%) in Wisconsin. Out of 137.5 MILLION votes cast, just 40,000 Trump votes switching to Hillary across 3 states flips election.

They don’t seem to understand that with the scale of propagandistic bullshit in this country, what Russia did was small and its effect might only have mattered if by chance a few states were decided by a small number of votes. Which might have happened. But a zillion other things also determined the vote.

Anyone with half a brain would feel at least a little skepticism about all the melodrama. Anyone looking at Goldberg’s column or Powers’s tweet should be asking how the numbers they cite compare with other numbers. How does Russian propaganda compare in scale to our own?  Is there truly anything new in these numbers?  I think some are the same numbers we keep seeing– in November for instance. How many Russian messages were actually about the election?

How does it compare to homegrown propaganda? We are speaking about 137 million actors/voters; and expenditures by American partisan groups that far outstrip Russia’s. The Russians spent a paltry $1.2 million a month reportedly. That’s dwarfed by Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion.  Even Nate Silver has said that Russian influence was not in the top 100 of influencers of the election. Silver points out that smart people ascribe power to 5,000 Russian tweets– when there are 500 million tweets a day.

If you wrote out a list of the most important factors in the 2016 election, I’m not sure that Russian social media memes would be among the top 100. The scale was quite small and there’s not much evidence that they were effective.

It’s far more likely that the Russians were just throwing a bunch of shit at the wall and seeing what stuck and that basing it on Cambridge Analytica data wouldn’t have been meaningfully more effective than doing it at random.

Which countries actually have an effect on our system?  Has anyone in the mainstream press said one word about the Al Jazeera documentary on the Israel lobby that was suppressed by Qatar apparently to make friends in Washington?

And why do so many Americans believe so many falsehoods about so many issues? Shouldn’t that concern people more than having one extra player in the business? E.g., corporations tell us for decades that we have to cut Social Security, can’t have decent health care, global warming is a hoax, we murder poor people in Yemen and Gaza and most Americans don’t even know, the politicians alongside the New York Times lied us into the Iraq– and liberals still fall for this shit about how our wonderful pristine democracy is being corrupted by Russia!

Chomsky wrote about this a lot: educated liberal people are in some ways the easiest people to fool with propaganda. And even if you accept everything the NYT claims about Russia, it is still trivial compared to all the other propaganda and disinformation in the system. If they just acknowledged this I wouldn’t be angry about the Russian meddling assertions, but they are doing their level best to propagandize and make it seem of cosmic importance.

If you buy into their story line then there is no point in bothering with even pointing this out. Let everyone believe what makes them happy.

The corporation that gave us the information about the Russian interference is called New Knowledge. As Michael Tracey observes:

Of course the new report being blared across the media to fuel yet another round of panic over Russian memes was produced by a “cybersecurity startup” raising boatloads of VC money to suppress “fake news” on behalf of corporate clients. And the founder is former NSA official.

Do you think producing a major report about Russian trolls on behalf of the Senate will help “New Knowledge” obtain new, lucrative clients, especially those doing business with the government? Yeah, probably. Do you think that will be disclosed anywhere in the media reports…?

Note: A (small) portion of this post appeared in a comment by Johnson on the New York Times site. 


Donald Johnson

Donald Johnson is a regular commenter on this site, as "Donald."

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29 Responses

  1. annie on December 20, 2018, 3:55 pm

    i totally agree. i was musing about this very topic yesterday reading what i considered a really good article in newsweek titled (sorry for the all caps i am copy pasting) “TRUMP-RUSSIA: HERE ARE THE TWO MEETINGS THE NEW CONGRESS MUST INVESTIGATE FIRST | OPINION” by seth abramson

    and while i totally agree the new congress should investigate both these meetings let’s look at the 2nd one he discusses:

    A second area of inquiry involves spring 2018 reporting from the New York Times that on August 3, 2016, Donald Trump Jr. met in Trump Tower with George Nader, an emissary from the Crown Princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; Erik Prince, a Trump national security adviser and later an envoy from Trump to a top Russian oligarch; and Joel Zamel, an Israeli business intelligence expert with ties to both Russian oligarchs and Israeli intelligence officers. At the meeting, both Nader and Zamel offered collusive assistance to Trump’s campaign; according to the Times, Trump Jr. reacted favorably to both offers. Zamel, who had in the past attempted to recruit Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn into his intelligence-gathering outfit, offered Trump Jr. a clandestine propaganda and domestic disinformation campaign that mirrored the one Russian trolls ultimately delivered in the final three months of the general election.

    The fact that Zamel would, immediately after Election Day, strike a business partnership with Trump’s campaign data-firm—the Steve Bannon-founded Cambridge Analytica—underscores that this August 3, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower must be investigated every bit as robustly as the infamous June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting Trump Jr. also attended. Notably, Jared Kushner not only attended the latter meeting but also meetings during the presidential transition that were intended as follow-ups to the former. These meetings, attended by Bannon as well as Flynn, suggest an even broader collusive agreement among powerful interests in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Israel, and Qatar. If the Steele dossier and relevant reporting since its January 2017 publication are to be believed, Kushner personally benefited from this collusion in the form of hundreds of millions in Qatari Investment Authority-backed loans. This means that not only Trump’s historically pro-Russia foreign policy, but also certain policy decisions Trump made in 2017 and 2018 that were favorable to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Israel must be investigated.

    so let’s look at this “offered Trump Jr. a clandestine propaganda and domestic disinformation campaign that mirrored the one Russian trolls ultimately delivered in the final three months of the general election.”

    bannon’s company cambridge analytical along w/joel zamel’s psygroup, armed with data from 100’s of millions of FB users, hired by the trump campaign and several other gop candidates, and it “mirrors” what russian trolls did? i mean please! this is the epitome of election influence and yet somehow you mention russia and russia becomes the bigger culprit? i just find this startling. it begs the question why “TRUMP-RUSSIA” is in the headline.

    • RoHa on December 20, 2018, 6:48 pm

      Can’t get over it, can they?

      There was a sort of election thingy.

      The candidates were an Oompa-Loompa and a zombie.

      The Oompa-Loompa won.

      And the zombie supporters refuse to accept that voters get put off by a candidate who wants to eat their brains.

    • Donald on December 20, 2018, 7:52 pm

      Thanks. We are a weird country. I wrote the piece before Trump announced his Syrian pullout. Whatever his reasons, practically all the Trump critics just take for granted our right to have troops in Syria. I’d be curious to know at what point in American history we got the impression we own the entire planet. Maybe it was the Monroe Doctrine. No idea really, but whenever it started, people here just seem to assume it subconsciously.

      • Misterioso on December 21, 2018, 10:06 am

        @Donald, et al

        Haaretz, Dec. 21/18

        Editorial: “Trump’s Withdrawal From Syria Is a Slap in the Face to Netanyahu”

        “Trump gave Netanyahu reward and gestures that cost him nothing. In exchange, the president received an obedient prime minister who is no longer capable of opposing a move that is potentially disastrous for Israel.

        “President Donald Trump’s order to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria ought to worry Israel. Even though the American presence did not have a decisive role in Israel’s direct campaign against Iran in Syria, the United States was an important counterweight to the Russians in establishing the rules of the game in the region. Its involvement in northern Syria helped in keeping Iranian forces away from Israel’s border in the Golan Heights.

        “Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement on Thursday that Israel ‘will continue to take very strong action against Iran’s attempts to entrench itself in Syria’ should not be allowed to muffle the resounding slap in the face to the prime minister’s fawning policy toward the Trump administration. Netanyahu deliberately put all his eggs in the basket of an American president who is capricious, devoid of sentiment and concerned solely with his own interests. And now, Israel is paying for that.

        “The withdrawal of American forces from Syria sends a clear message to Israel, as well as to other U.S. allies in the region: Work things out for yourselves, because we’re looking out only for our own direct interests. Netanyahu can continue telling Israelis that today’s Washington is inhabited by a friendly president, unlike his predecessor. But in practice, declarations of support that aren’t backed by actions on the ground are worthless.

        “Netanyahu seems to have been blinded by the gestures, some of them merely symbolic, that Trump lavished on Israel, from withdrawing America from the Iranian nuclear deal and stepping up sanctions on Iran through moving the embassy to Jerusalem to humiliating Israel’s Palestinian partner and making it irrelevant. Trump gave Netanyahu reward and gestures that cost him nothing. In exchange, the president received a grateful, obedient prime minister who is no longer capable even of criticizing, much less opposing, a move that is potentially disastrous for Israel.

        “Writing on Twitter Thursday, Netanyahu said that we do not ‘intend to lessen our efforts; we will intensify them, and I know that we do so with the full support and backing of the US.’ We can only hope the prime minister doesn’t use the period between Trump’s announcement and the actual withdrawal of American forces to embark on a military adventure up north. He must not try to conceal his diplomatic failure with Trump behind the smoke screen of battle.”

      • Donald on December 21, 2018, 11:52 am

        Yeah, I am confused by Trump at the moment. Up until now he has clearly been in the pockets of Israel and the Saudis and despite the American hysteria, he has continued policies which Putin hated. This Syria withdrawal is the first time he has actually done something Putin wanted and the Israelis hated.

      • annie on December 21, 2018, 5:12 pm

        donald, i don’t really understand how trump thinks but when i 1st heard the troop withdrawal news i thought to myself the timing suggested it was related to either the mueller investigation or the law suit(s) in NY. here’s how my thinking goes. let’s assume most of the stuff trump said about ME wars during the run up to the election is true. iraq was a mistake, he’s more of an isolationist etc etc. he doesn’t really care what happens in the ME as long as he’s making money. when he came into office he turned the ME profile to others. in return for all the money adelson et all gave him he fulfilled a bunch of their wishes. he said a few times he wanted to get out of syria but never really did anything about it.

        so what changed over the last week or so? the investigations. he’s getting backed into a corner. he’s pushing back. then my friend russ alerted me to this article, news that happened almost simultaneously with the announcement of the troop withdrawal, just a day or so before. from the 18th:

        “A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered a mystery corporation owned by a foreign country to comply with a subpoena that appears to be from special counsel Robert Mueller.”

        The three-page opinion released by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is the latest twist in an opaque dispute that POLITICO and other media outlets have tied to Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The ruling offers the intriguing detail that the entity fighting the Mueller subpoena is a foreign government-owned company, not a specific individual, as many experts had speculated.

        But the ruling also still leaves many important aspects of the fight shielded from public view, including the kind of work done by the company, the name of the country that owns the firm and just what information is being sought. The order also offers no direct confirmation that the matter involves Mueller’s team.

        so, as it pertains to syria, what country might be most alarmed by our troop withdrawal? there is a country who is blocking info from mueller or ny investigators that might land trump in jail? the exposure of that country or the company at least partially owned by that government, at least that is what the government is claiming (is that government protecting the company or trump?).

        In the opinion, Judges David Tatel, Thomas Griffith and Stephen Williams unanimously sided with a lower federal district court in Washington, which had rejected the company’s attempts to quash the subpoena.

        The appellate judges dismissed the company’s arguments that it’s immune from enforcement of the subpoena under a 1977 law that limits the ability of foreign nations to be sued in U.S. courts, as well as a separate argument that complying with the subpoena would violate the foreign country’s domestic laws.

        so this country is claiming they have domestic laws that prevent it from disclosing certain information.

        if the country is russia one might claim trump is pulling troops as a back door bribe to keep them silent. but if the country is israel, what if that country doesn’t want to get sued in an american court or have one or more of their nationals in an american jail. what if trump found out they might leak or comply? might he use the troops as leverage to keep the silence of this country? or what if this countries disclosure would help trump? what if, instead of russian interference, it was israeli interference that impacted the election and he is pressuring israel to come forward and not squash the subpoena? and this window of 60-100 days, if israel came forward, then he would keep the troops there.

        it’s just a thought. but i bet this is related to the investigation in some way. because i think that’s what trump cares most about. not only for himself, but for trump jr and ivanka (kushner). just a hunch he could be protecting his family. what if the company was black cube? or what if the country is qatar and related to kushner? hmm.

        it just seems a little coincidental that at the exact time the very big news of these investigations closing in trump up and decides the pull the troops. i’d be shocked if they were not related.

      • eljay on December 21, 2018, 12:09 pm

        || Donald: … Whatever his reasons, practically all the Trump critics just take for granted our right to have troops in Syria. … ||

        Trump critics aren’t the only ones who think the U.S. has a right to be wherever it wants to be.

        || … Up until now he has clearly been in the pockets of Israel and the Saudis … This Syria withdrawal is the first time he has actually done something Putin wanted and the Israelis hated. ||

        Doesn’t mean he’s suddenly become his own man or altruistic:

        US Withdrawal from Syria Was Not Unplanned

        Related article: An End Game for Syria- Full Public Plan

      • Donald on December 21, 2018, 12:26 pm

        I just found something that might explain Trump’s motives. I haven’t read or watched it yet.

        Have to read eljay’s links too.

      • Donald on December 21, 2018, 12:43 pm

        I read the links— it is about Turkey and Trump still wants to confront Iran.

        “Doesn’t mean he’s suddenly become his own man or altruistic”

        I wouldn’t ever make that assumption about Trump.

      • eljay on December 21, 2018, 12:49 pm

        || … “Doesn’t mean he’s suddenly become his own man or altruistic”

        I wouldn’t ever make that assumption about Trump. ||

        Didn’t think you would.  :-)

        BTW, there was a problem with the hyperlink to the “Related article” in my previous post. This link works:

        An End Game for Syria- Full Public Plan

      • Donald on December 21, 2018, 5:20 pm

        Annie, it wouldn’t surprise me if Trump has a corrupt personal motive for the withdrawal, though others say there was actually some thought behind it, related to Turkey. Not that Trump himself did much of the thinking.

        But it could be multiple things— corruption, Turkey and possibly even fulfilling a campaign promise to pull out of dumb wars. Though that last one seems unlikely.

      • Mooser on December 21, 2018, 5:45 pm

        ” though others say there was actually some thought behind it, related to Turkey.”

        Well, you sorta could say that.

      • annie on December 21, 2018, 10:12 pm

        mooser, i read that article here, with good analysis.

        and this is very thorough on turkey

        donald, it could very well be fulfilling a campaign promise as he’s always wanted to leave syria. it’s hard to know what makes him tic. but i am relieved. maybe he was just tired of being pressured by everyone and wanted to go his own way. i watched about an hour of msm coverage yesterday and it was appalling.

      • Donald on December 22, 2018, 12:48 am

        The NYT has been unbelievably bad. Here is an example—

        Scads of silly quotes about how gleeful Russia is that Trump is doing just what they want and then way down near the end they acknowledge that on arms control and the Ukraine, the latter very important to Russia and arms control important to all of us, they admit that Trump has made the Russians unhappy.

        So he is doing their bidding except on some of the most important issues. I think there has been a squabble over pipelines as well. It interferes with the storyline, so they stick it in at the end.

        The Paper of Record.

      • Mooser on December 22, 2018, 2:04 pm

        ” but i am relieved.”

        See how long that lasts. Even Erdogan is afraid of what a sudden US withdrawal may portend.

        BTW, aren’t there usually 3-5+ times the number of contractors for each US soldier in a situation like this?

      • Mooser on December 22, 2018, 3:52 pm

        “The NYT has been unbelievably bad. Here is an example—”

        Don’t worry about it. The NYTs doesn’t understand a stable genius who knows all about tech (more than anybody!) and is a great negotiator doesn’t have to govern in a conventional way.

        And now he’s earning a new accolade: “The Trump Who Stole Christmas”!

      • Mooser on December 22, 2018, 4:15 pm

        ” it’s hard to know what makes him tic.”

        And he’s so damn demented, there’s no way of making him tock sensibly

      • pgtl10 on December 24, 2018, 2:10 pm

        The country was founded on ethnically cleansing and stealing the indigenous inhabitants and owning black people. Owning the world is not much of a stretch for the US thought.

  2. James Canning on December 21, 2018, 10:45 am

    I too have regarded all the noise about Russia’s so-called interference in the US 2016 presidential contest as borderline hooey.

    • Mooser on December 21, 2018, 2:31 pm

      “as borderline hooey.”

      Expecting all the “guilty” pleas to be reversed?

      • Donald on December 21, 2018, 4:56 pm

        The guilty pleas are about various things, not necessarily Russian collusion. Investigate Trump and the people around him and you are going to find all kinds of dirt. Michael Cohen wasn’t paying off Putin.

        It might also include Russian collusion.

        Aaron Mate is the person to follow if you want to read the anti collusion case.

  3. John O on December 21, 2018, 12:28 pm

    Perhaps people have been looking down the wrong end of the telescope. You can argue till the cows come home about whether Russian interference had an effect on the 2016 presidential election (and, for those of us in the UK, the Brexit referendum). What is not in doubt – but is obscured by these arguments – is that they tried to do so.

    • Mooser on December 21, 2018, 2:29 pm

      “What is not in doubt – but is obscured by these arguments – is that they tried to do so.”

      Apart from anything the Russians, Saudis, or Israelis have done, does Trump have any obligation to follow American law?
      Trump will not be convicted for anything the Russians have done, or tried under Russian law He will be judged and convicted under American law for the things he has done.

      Unless, of course, the benefits he is bestowing upon the US puts him above it.

    • lysias on December 25, 2018, 5:16 pm

      So what if the Russians did try to influence our election? What obliged them not to? The U.S. has certainly exhibited no reluctance to influence the elections of other countries, including Russia.

      • Mooser on December 26, 2018, 1:02 pm

        “So what if the Russians did try to influence our election? What obliged them not to?”

        Exactly right. And that is why the US has it’s own election (and financial) law.
        Are Trump and the Republicans exempted from US law because the Russians don’t follow it and are willing to help them?
        Russian law has nothing to do with it.

  4. Ossinev on December 21, 2018, 1:46 pm

    “Yeah, I am confused by Trump at the moment”
    Well petulant me me me me 2 year olds tend to confuse.

  5. genesto on December 21, 2018, 2:16 pm

    80,000 votes? BFD!! I read that something like 5,000,000+ fewer Democratic voters came out to vote for HRC than did for Obama because they, like me, couldn’t stomach her! THAT, along with her sabotaging Bernie’s campaign and shining on the Rust Belt, is what lost the election for dear Hillary!

  6. Misterioso on December 21, 2018, 2:17 pm

    More grist for the mill from Professor Lawrence Davidson:

    “Argument and Counter-Argument—An Analysis” (22 December 2018) by Prof. Lawrence Davidson

    Part I—A Lack of Originality

    One thing that characterizes dogmatists is a lack of originality. You buy into the dogma and that’s it. Your worldview is complete—and so are your rationalizations, defensive pronouncements and complaints.

    I have been an opponent of the Zionist dogma for almost fifty years (wow!) because it (1) denies Palestinians their civil and communal rights; (2) corrupts many Jews with a siren song of racially based nationalism; (3) undermines the concepts of international law and human rights and (4) seduces the U.S. government into supporting Zionist ethnic nationalist ambitions.

    During the last twenty years I have noticed that the arguments used by the Zionists to defend their policies and practices have been quite consistent. This can’t be because they are convincing, since they are clearly losing the battle for public opinion. It may be that being a dogmatist simply robs you of any originality and flexibility.

    Recently I was again struck by this consistency when I read a brief piece published on 12 December 2018 in the New York Times (NYT) by David Harris, chief executive officer of American Jewish Committee. The piece, entitled “Why Anti-Zionism Is Malign” (“malign” here meaning malevolent) was written in reaction to an earlier (7 December 2018) NYT editorial column by Michelle Goldberg entitled “Anti-Zionism Is Not Anti-Semitism”.

    The Harris piece lays out some of the basic Zionist arguments in defense of Israel and their complaints about opposition positions. That being so, I thought it presented a good opportunity to briefly run through these points and, not for the first time or the last, debunk each in turn. So here goes.

    Part II—Arguments and Counter-Arguments

    Argument One: Anti-Zionists are really anti-Semites.

    For anyone with an accurate historical view of anti-Zionism and an accurate definition of historical anti-Semitism, Harris’s assertion is hard to understand. From the historical perspective it is comparing apples and oranges. The only way to merge the two is by realigning reality.

    Zionism is a political dogma that insists on an exclusively Jewish state in Palestine. It operates like a political party line. Anti-Semitism is the age-old prejudice against Jews as Jews. The way the Zionists attempt to realign the world so that the two different concepts merge is by making the false claim that the State of Israel represents every Jew on the planet. If you buy into that claim, it seems to follow that anyone who is critical of Israel must also be critical of Jews per se.

    In her December 7 column Michelle Goldberg called this proposition into question when she noted that “There’s a long history of Jewish anti-Zionism or non-Zionism, both secular and religious,” and this testifies to the fact that “it’s entirely possible to oppose Jewish ethno-nationalism without being a bigot.” Harris and his “committee” claimed to be “outraged” by this fact-based claim.

    And what are we to make of the following point, also noted by Ms. Goldberg? If many Jews do not support Zionism or Israel, there are a number of anti-Semites who do. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is courting them as potential allies. The case may be that to take up the cause of ethnic nationalism you have to be a bigot.

    Argument Two: “To deny the Jewish people, of all the peoples on earth, the right to self-determination surely is discriminatory.”

    One big problem here: many anti-Zionists do not actually deny Jews of the “right of self-determination.” What they really stipulate is that the Jews (or any other people) should not realize self-determination through racist policies, that in this case, deny another people (the Palestinians) of self-determination. This is one of the Zionists’ moral blind spots — the inability to see, or care about, the real consequences of their actions and ends. The use of the phrase “of all peoples on earth” implies a sense of exceptionalism that (as in so many other cases past and present) excuses all manner of crimes through the process of special pleading.

    Argument Three: “To single out Israel, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, for demonization and isolation, while ignoring egregious human rights violators aplenty, once again smacks of anti-Jewish hatred.”

    There are three parts to this claim: (1) that Israel is “the only liberal democracy in the Middle East”; (2) that it is being singled out for demonization and isolation while others are ignored; and (3) this process must be an expression of “anti-Jewish hatred.” Basically, there is a lot of whining going on here.

    Alas, Israel is not a liberal democracy. It has always been the case that its ideologically driven aim is to give full political and civil rights to Israeli Jews only, and to this end it has used democratic facades to hide the truth. As a consequence, Israel has worked itself into an apartheid state status—an apartheid is a crime against humanity under international law.

    The belated realization of this fact by “liberal Zionists” has created a lot of angst. If liberal Jews are increasingly alienated by Israeli behavior, just how liberal can that country be?

    As to the use of the term “demonization”: it simply does not apply. The bases for criticizing Israel are drawn from the standards of International law and the universal declaration of human rights. There is no wild mud slinging here. The charges of Israeli racism are fact based.

    To complain that those critical of Israel aren’t equally critical of others reminds one of the little kid who, when caught being really bad says, ‘Hey, what about those other guys’? As if catching him in the act, while not simultaneously chasing after others, somehow taints the accusation that the kid is a delinquent.

    There is also the fact that if anti-Zionists appear to treat Israel differently, it is because the Zionist state has earned its special place of blame. How so? Agents of the Zionist state have worked for decades, and all too successfully, to arrange U.S. and other Western support of racist and illegal expansionist Israeli policies and practices. As Michelle Goldberg again suggests, the result is the corruption of “fundamental American [and other Western] values” and, one might add, the waste of billions of dollars in tax-payer money. That being the case, the Zionists deserve “special scrutiny”.

    Argument Four: The Israelis have always wanted peace. However, their “efforts to forge a peace deal with the Palestinians” have been “spurned time and again” for over 70 years.”

    This is an ideologically skewed version of the “peace process.” It is, of course, true that both parties have made repeated peace proposals. However, those made by Israel would have always resulted in an unsustainable Palestinian mini-state, essentially disarmed, economically under the thumb of Israel, and open to incursions by its powerful and paranoid neighbor. This might appear to Zionists such as David Harris as a good faith effort at peace—his questionable view of reality could make it seem that way—but no Palestinian could agree to what would be a surrender of their national rights.

    Part III—Conclusion

    Zionist presentations of their case, at least to the general public, almost always come in the form of knee-jerk reactions to various forms of criticism. This was certainly the case of David Harris’s presentation, written out of “outrage” at the rather mild criticism of Zionist positions offered by Michelle Goldberg (herself Jewish).

    Harris offers no new ideas, no compromises, and certainly no mea culpa. Under the circumstances the confused and uncertain reader might approach the seeming impasse of argument and counter-argument this way: it is perhaps not an issue of what is “real.” Dogmatists of every sort have a hard time assessing objective reality. It is more a question of what sort of a world do we want to be “real”? Are the notions of international law and human rights a better or worst basis for our world than ethnocentric nationalism and religious exclusivity? We know the Zionist answer to this question and just how sensitive they are to any challenges. What then is your preference?

    Lawrence Davidson
    [email protected]


  7. Citizen on December 21, 2018, 2:29 pm

    POLL: What It Takes to Be a ‘Real American’ : “Treating People Equally & Being Responsible For One’s Actions/Ommissions”:

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