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Donald Johnson

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

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  • Ocasio-Cortez hedges criticisms of Israel-- 'I may not use the right words'
    • You were saying something about hasbara being dead, I believe? If AOC is feeling the pressure to be PEP, then reports of its death seem greatly exaggerated.

  • The Gaza blockade is illegal-- and so is the use of force to maintain it
    • Yes, I know Finkelstein emphasizes international law and writes about it all the time, including here, and I am not opposed to people arguing that international law favors the Palestinians. But we non lawyers commonly have the impression that the bad guys can also hire lawyers and argue that international law permits them to impose a draconian blockade and ignore the shooting of fishermen and farmers and the refusal to allow most people to enter or leave which makes the blockade an act of collective punishment. The lawyers for the oppressing side can ignore all the violence committed by the oppressors and justify their actions as self defense.

      I think it is better for us common folk to argue that the blockade is cruel and unjust and that the Israelis are the aggressors. Present all the facts and all the history ( which will include terrorist acts by Palestinians) and I think most non bigoted people will see the blockade is morally wrong.

      Hand it over to the lawyers and diplomats and bureaucrats and depending on where their interests lie, anything can happen.

    • The Palmer Commission was four people. I recognized one of the names—Álvaro_Uribe

      Alvaro Uribe is not someone I would pick to evaluate a human rights issue.

      More generally, it is hard not to be a bit cynical about international law. Even when it is clearly on the side of the victims, which is not the case with this commission, it doesn’t seem to make any difference. The powerful invoke it when it gives a supposed justification for something they want to do and they ignore it otherwise.

  • Wah!!! Dershowitz shunned on Martha's Vineyard!
    • I agree his alleged pedophilia is separate from his politics, but pedophilia if acted upon is not his own business.

  • US Jewish leader expresses compassion for refugees at US border-- and contempt for Palestinian refugees
    • So “ full fledged terrorists” vs “ remarkable restraint”. I guess thousands of people shot and over 100 killed isn’t nearly enough for you.

      As for Syria, the Israelis and our wonderful American liberal interventionists and even some leftists have been happy to see the Syrian ( and non Syrian) rebels supported in their attempt to overthrow the government. It never made any sense from a humanitarian viewpoint no matter what one thought of Assad, but it makes perfect sense if the idea was to keep Syria, Iran and Hezbollah bogged down in an endless war and then blame Assad alone for the bloodshed. From Israel’s point of view, so long as no refugees came in large numbers into Israel, it was a win- win.

    • This is all true. The problem with that phrase “ progressive except for Palestine” is that it greatly overestimates how progressive some people are on other issues. It is good that people are mobilizing against Trmp’s immigration policy, but obviously a great many are outraged because it is Trump, just as the Zeese and Flowers piece argues. There was similar Democratic outrage about Bush’s Iraq invasion and the torture issue, but the Democratic antiwar movement evaporated once Obama won, and in 2016 we were constantly told that Clinton, who favors military intervention reflexively and supported the Iraq War, was some sort of foreign policy genius.

      I used to read “ Commentary” and there was no conflict between their stance on Israel and their overall support for US imperialism. They fit together seamlessly. You could imagine cases where the Israeli militarists might have a different POV on some issue compared to that of an American warmonger, but in practice they usually saw eye to eye. The exception would be someone like Pat Buchanan, who they hated, because he was an old fashioned militarist but seen as an antisemitic throwback. So you would see clashes between the neocons and the militarists among the paleocons. But the neocons and neoliberals generally had all the power. Paleocons can be either prowar or antiwar in some cases, but whatever stance they take they just don’t have much political clout.

  • 'A Jew who tried to abuse this fact' -- Israel deports activist for supporting BDS
    • There are different levels of BDS— obviously not everyone agrees on how far to take it. Even you support people boycotting settlements. As for a boycott supporter complaining about blacklists, are you saying it would be appropriate for your own government to blacklist you or maybe expel you from Israel since you support a boycott of the settlements? Your two posts in this thread seem a bit contradictory on that point.

  • 'Al Jazeera' has 'canned' undercover investigation of Israel lobby -- leading pro-Israel operative
  • If I had to live in Israel again, 'it would actually drive me insane' -- Shaul Magid
    • “If my primary political concern was to maintain the racial purity of Palestine and to promote some “authentic” Arab identity, I would be obsessed with fully understanding what my enemy thinks. I would be exquisitely nuanced about Israeli policy (and, if American like me, how that relates to the United States) and how folks will react to various strategic decisions.”

      Very few people here have the goal you suggest they have. There might be a few— if so, they can argue with you. I don’t think it is the goal of front pagers. I agree people should understand Israelis. They are people who like many throughout history are benefiting from settler colonialism and need to be pressured to cease practicing apartheid. And America has been helping them.

      “You didn’t realize that generally speaking Israelis hate the people of Gaza and there are strains within Israel that want to genocide the whole area?”

      Um, preaching to the choir here. And I don’t see how you could spend time at Mondoweiss and misunderstand the viewpoint here this badly unless, of course, you are a troll and are just saying random things to get a rise, as you have with me. Most people here including me see Israel as a place where a significant faction would commit mass slaughter and complete the process of ethnic cleansing if allowed and yes, the US has probably stopped them from going as far as they would like while still allowing them to get away with murder.

      Anyway, you got me to take the bait. Trolls are good at that sort of thing.

    • The bit about the US trying very hard to prevent Israel from genociding Gaza was an interesting new development in AP trolling— just the other day he was talking about how Israel is a liberal democracy but nobody claims it is ( except when he and others do) and now he talks about how all decent people like himself hate Arab nationalism, while he doesn’t seem to mind the country that he says wants to commit genocide.

      Maybe AP has progressed further than I realized, but the random number generator they are using to simulate free will is making it hard for the AP program to pass the Turing test in a convincing way.

  • At our 50th year Israel reunion, I had three minutes to tell my story
    • You are right in the long run, but what has happened in the US is that the Israelis get endless amounts of understanding and context and Palestinians get none. A Palestinian who actually does use terrorism is killed and this is deemed just. Israeli snipers shoot down unarmed Palestinians and the NYT prints four opinion pieces justifying it. Bari Weiss supports it as well, though not on the pages of the NYT.

      This country is so biased in favor of the Zionist “ narrative” that liberal Zionists in the US could have safely ignored the nonZionists and pushed hard for a two state solution during the past few decades. But with a few exceptions, most self proclaimed 2ss supporters were just paying lip service to it and had no interest in putting serious pressure on Israel. It was all about a meaningless peace process and making sure nobody blamed Israel for the lack of results. Liberal Zionism has been represented by hypocrites and I don’t mean the conflict between liberalism and Zionism, but that on their own terms liberal Zionists are largely a bunch of hypocrites, again with a few exceptions like Peter Beinart.

  • 'The Israeli military said,' the New York Times reports
    • AP has swiftly gone from being above the petty human rights concerns of lesser mortals to making silly attacks on Finkelstein. Not sure what comes next. Maybe we should place bets.

    • Not only that, but some say ( well, so far just me) that DARTH VADER IS NORMAN FINKELSTEIN’S FATHER!!!

      The farce is strong with this one.

  • Knesset foils efforts to end Israeli apartheid
    • It is entertaining up to a point. One thing about some trolls is the choice of name. It is usually self aggrandizing in some way. My favorite from another blog or comment section years ago was somebody who called himself “ Objective Observer”. You immediately knew it was going to be someone spewing rightwing propaganda. I think in that case it was Islamophobic. Most people pick a pseudonym which is short or maybe a joke or part of their real name or anyway nothing grandiose, but some people want you to know that their views have some greater significance than those of some random guy on the internet. In this case we are getting the American Perspective.

    • “As an American, it would be just weird to obsess over it, unless I have some other agenda going on. E.g., I hate Israel as a proxy for hating the United States; I love Israel as a proxy for loving my fellow Jews; I hate Israel as a proxy for hating White People; I love Israel as a proxy for loving minorities, etc . . . But that’s just delusional.”

      I just saw this. Note that the idea that people can focus on a particular issue or several different issues for various legitimate reasons isn’t on his list. The idea that we might have an obligation as Americans to care about Palestinians since we help oppress them isn’t there.

      If this guy hangs around you are going to see endless paragraphs of political science arguments all wheeled out to argue that no American should ever give two seconds of thought to Palestinians. There seem to be people attracted to political science so they can make arguments justifying the status quo. Some of them are very verbose.

    • “why don’t we try introducing civil nationalism to our neighbors in Cuba, Mexico and Quebec before we foist it on a small country half-way across the world which belongs to a completely different civilization”

      AP doesn’t mind us throwing our weight around in favor of Israel — he doesn’t mention it. That’s one of many signs that this isn’t a person arguing in good faith. Another is the way he contradicts himself on Israel being a liberal democracy. Instead of Israel running an apartheid system, he began by giving them credit for being a liberal democracy despite “the agitation it faces from a nationalist minority.” That’s a crude rhetorical trick. . Israel, a liberal democracy, is the victim, but maintains its incredibly high standards despite the attacks of a nationalist minority. But then he decides to adopt a different tack, abandons that claim, and goes for “ whataboutism”. The bloodless use of political science terminology to stand above the fray and make “ whataboutery” arguments is a standard pattern with a particular type of troll.

      I don’t think people should waste any more time with him unless you find him unintentionally funny.

  • Netanyahu used 'leadership of American Jewish community' to block Obama policy -- Ben Rhodes
    • Citizen is right. There isn’t much of a snowball effect at all. Russian interference, real or alleged, gets vastly more coverage and outrage than Israel’s or even the Saudis. The Al Jazeera documentary about the Lobby appears to have been successfully suppressed. Imagine the coverage that would get if some documentary about Russian meddling was suppressed. It would be front page news all the time and cable coverage would be nonstop.

      Also, many Americans who are interested in politics filter everything through their need to praise the political party of their choice and condemn the other one. Issues are seen as a means to an end. People of this sort on the Democratic side will only listen to talk about issues if you don’t criticize Obama. I have had this experience on several different issues. I agree with them that Trump is much worse in general, but you can’t talk about any issue very seriously if you aren’t supposed to say anything even slightly critical of any Democrat.

  • Democratic leaders grow fearful that Israel will divide the party
    • It’s ludicrous mentioning the kites in the same list with the actual atrocities committed against Jewish civilians. You do this because it fits the current propaganda need to justify the murder of Palestinian protestors. There isn’t any, so hasbarists pretend the kites are like terrorist attacks on civilians. And you do it with a straight face.

      And anyway, the Zionist side is the aggressor— your list of atrocities is more than matched by atrocities against Palestinians, who are at best seen as embarrassing obstacles to the goal of successful land theft.

    • I am a bit less optimistic. The following article doesn’t mention the Israel Palestine issue, but it does talk about where the Democrats are in general and on economics they are still mostly the same old neoliberal party they have been since the Clinton era. They are pseudo “ woke” on some issues, but not Palestine, or not yet.

  • 'Let's talk about art'-- NPR promotes Israeli claims about Gaza massacre and leaves out medic's killing
  • How to tell when defending Israel is actually racist
    • This is another one of those armchair purist arguments where people shout past each other. It is perfectly possible to work forthe end of the blockade and talk about the right of return at the same time. The first goal is more immediate and also more “ practical” because it means one can work alongside the more honest liberal Zionists. But it is possible to talk about both simultaneously no matter what Finkelstein might say.

    • I agree that calling Finkelstein racist is stupid.

      But here are a few other points. First, it is Palestinians themselves including the Gazans who are demanding the right of return. Second, the practical argument makes sense, but only in a limited way. I mean that yes, we in the West can make more headway, maybe, if we concentrate on lifting the blockade, but that means making common cause with the more liberal portion of the liberal Zionists. I mean people like Beinart. Beinart and others like him recognize that even from their own viewpoint the blockade is gratuitously cruel. Even from the Israeli- centric viewpoint the blockade is far more stringent than it needs to be to keep weapons out. The Israelis are clearly being sadistic, in order to push the Palestinians towards violence. That Sharon advisor whose name I forget said this years ago. The more honest liberal Zionists recognize at least part of this. Being politically practical in an American context means working with liberal Zionists, for better or worse.

      But third, if one is too “ practical” you surrender the basic point, which is that the Zionists had no right to drive the Palestinians out. ( No, Keith, I am not saying you are doing this. Just pointing out pitfalls.). In the US and maybe in other Western countries the Zionists have been allowed to set the framework, so the liberal Zionist view becomes the extreme left. So if people are “ practical” and choose to focus first on the blockade, don’t stop talking about the right of return. It’s a dead end, going too far in the “ practical” direction. The Oslo accords were practical, the Palestinian leadership gave up on the 1ss, and all they got was some goodies for the corrupt leadership and more settlements and no 2ss.

      Fourth, it is unfair to call Finkelstein a racist, but Finkelstein has been pretty harsh in criticizing the BDS movement. If Palestinians are being killed for demanding the right of return, he might want to keep that in mind.

  • Open Letter to Wajahat Ali: Don't undermine the Palestinian struggle
    • It isn’t much of a recommendation. Note that word “ alas”. He is saddened by the thought of a single state with equal rights for all. I think he is pandering to Atlantic editors or readers who are horrified by the thought.

  • Palestinian medic, 21, is killed by Israeli sniper as she tends wounded in Gaza
  • They prayed for Gaza's dead. Now it's time to say the mourner's prayer for Zionism
    • Actually Keith,what I was trying to do was suggest that theorizing so much about any group of people is usually a mistake. I would say the same to people who talk about Christians or Muslims or any other group in a critical way. I have a friend in real life who does this with Christians. We agree on other things, as I agree with you on other things. But not this.

      I’ll drop it, as this conversation isn’t doing any good.

    • Keith, if by gratuitous swipe you meant that I doubt you are an expert on Jewish history, I meant it. I doubt you are an expert. It would require a tremendous amount of reading and your attitude is so critical I think it would get in the way. I would say the same about any group of people one wishes to try to understand. You need to have some degree of empathy unless the group you are studying is pure evil, so to speak, and even then, if one were studying Nazis, for example, you still need to get inside their heads.

      On this subject my impression of antiZionist Jews who strongly identify as Jews is that they value their religion and/ or traditions and think the oppression of the Palestinians is horrible, immoral, and inconsistent with those traditions. That’s good. Could they form some new sort of ideology that will lead to oppression? I suppose, but that is true of everyone. I am going to be flippant about this, which will probably annoy you, but seriously, I am just not that concerned about what seem like a very remote possibility.

    • Thanks for pointing that Nathan paragraph out, Mooser. So he thinks people support Israel because they need something to fill the emptiness of their lives. Maybe Nathan should be a front page poster.

    • Keith, why does any of that matter? I am going to assume for the sake of argument that you have a deep understanding of Jewish history, which I do not. I sort of doubt you do. But lots of people belong to groups with history and traditions of which they are proud— sometimes the history is romanticized or mythical. So long as they don’t claim a license to start violating other people’s rights, why does it matter? In some cases the tradition might even urge people to be compassionate. Then it is a good thing, isn’t it?

    • “Israel apartheid” was my shorthand for all the crimes the Israelis have committed against the Palestinians, beginning with the terrorist campaign— well, no, beginning with the Balfour declaration where Jews were granted more rights by the British than the Palestinians living in their own homeland. Well, actually, even before that.

      By other agendas I mean people who think that a Jew taking pride in their Jewish heritage is a threat to universal human values or whatever. I don’t agree. You can argue about whether there is a universal Jewish heritage or about the value of religion or anything else you want to argue about, but that’s a different ax that is being ground.

    • “This is a pretty harsh comment forum. “

      Pretty much. I wouldn’t worry about it. You oppose Israeli apartheid— that’s the important thing. A handful of people here have various other axes to grind.

  • Gaza killings are rending the Jewish community
    • You are such a discerning guy, broadside. Most people reading this blog would think it was ever so slightly critical of Israel, but you see right to the heart of the matter. Phil is using this blog and his journalistic credentials as an excuse to visit Israel and prop up their economy. It’s probably a Mossad operation.

  • 'NYT' columnist says killing Palestinian civilians is... good for Palestinians
    • There would be no need of a third party for this policy. Nothing stops Israel from imposing a less stringent and less gratuitously cruel blockade. Nothing stops its American supporters from spending more time pushing for this, rather than tone policing Israel’s critics.

    • Here is a careful paragraph by paragraph dismantling of the Rosner piece, way more detailed than ours.

      But our point was slightly different. We took for granted that any decent person could tell that Rosner’s piece was morally awful— the question was why the NYT would publish it and three others almost as bad when they would never publish four pieces defending terror attacks on Israelis right after, say, a bus bombing that killed dozens.

    • Yonah, I think you see the brutality of Israel’s behavior and since everything at this blog drives you nuts, it seems to me that you would do more good making suggestions to ease the blockade to fellow Israel supporters. Proposing it here will immediately make people see the unfairness of treating Gazans as needing to be under a weapons blockade, but not Israel. Personally I would prefer stopping all weapons transfers everywhere. Anyway, your proposal would be a big step away from the current extremely cruel system but proposing it here does nothing. Maybe you do this already, but I would think you would want to be arguing for your proposal with Israelis.

      As for rhetoric and emotionalism, that might be true, but emotionalism on this subject comes with the territory and you display it too. I acknowledged that maybe the criticism of Walsh should have been left out, but once again, the point of the piece is that the NYT published four essays defending the killing of Gazan protestors and it is hard to imagine them publishing a piece defending the deliberate killing of Israelis. I think that as a decent human being you know this.

    • Thanks for clarifying.

    • Also, my own agenda, so to speak, is noninterventionism. I want the US to stop invading and bombing and sanctioning and blockading other countries and I also want us to stop supporting the criminal behavior of our allies. In this case that means we should stop arming the Israelis and stop defending their actions and stop saying they have the right to defend themselves every time they kill Palestinians.

    • Not sure if you meant Rosner’s piece or ours when saying it was a disgusting column, , but on the issue of us being an empire I think you are right. The underlying reason Israel gets so much support for its actions is that America has the same history and still harbors the same attitudes. The Lobby would get nowhere if that were not the case.

    • That was a confusing comment, Yonah, so I will focus your criticism of our mild criticism of the Declan Walsh piece.

      First, I considered it the weakest part and considered deleting it. Overall Declan Walsh’s piece was good and maybe we should have been clearer on that point. But the evidence for our claim of bias is in the article. We aren’t contesting his reporting, just the spin in the last paragraphs. Walsh says “ many” in the hospital “ insist” that the protest was worth it, but he focuses his attention on those who are embittered and quotes one of them. I don’t doubt the reporting, but I think the emphasis on the skeptics fits in with how the NYT tends to cover stories. But, yes, the couple of sentences devoted to that might weaken the piece. It gave you an excuse to ignore the central point, which is the institutional bias at the NYT. They have now published four people ( Bari Weiss would be a fifth, but I think she has only said this elsewhere) who think it was okay for Israel to shoot the protestors. I don’t think it would cross their minds to publish even one piece arguing in favor of terror attacks on Israeli civilians, but arguing for the deliberate killing of Palestinian civilians is within their range of permissible viewpoints.

      It actually disgusts me a little that you focused on the Walsh portion. I think the criticism is reasonable, but you clearly latched onto it as proof of our bias. We are talking about the NYT publishing justifications and endorsements for a massacre of civilians and rather than focus on that, you look for any and every excuse to dodge the issue.

  • Debunking 18 claims justifying this week's Gaza massacre
    • Jackdaw —I don’t think the Israelis have the right to maintain the blockade, but if I go along with your premise than they would use water cannons and non lethal rounds and they wouldn’t be shooting at people far from the fence. Supposing I imagine myself as a liberal Zionist facing this problem of protestors, you don’t gun down unarmed people.

      But that would be advice for some country which had legitimate borders facing mostly unarmed civilians. Israel is running Gaza as a giant prison camp.

    • I don’t think all Israelis are the same, though my impression from thousands of miles away is that most Jewish Israelis have become incapable of acknowledging the brutality of their government. If true, the chances of any sort of just peace are negligible for the foreseeable future.

      From what I have read some Palestinians obviously don’t think it would be a good idea having their children anywhere near the IDF when it is practicing its purity of arms. But it is just a bit obscene for Israel defenders to be making this point. As a citizen of the country that arms Israel it isn’t really my place to talk about it much either. The main point you and I should be focusing on is the fact that Israel fired on very large numbers of clearly unarmed people, including women and medics and some children.

      I have read accusations against Hamas at Tablet. Supposedly they tricked their own civilians into rushing the fence, claiming it was breached when it wasn't and that the IDF was running away. I find that a bit hard to believe, but supposing it was true, then Hamas would bear blame for lying to its own people and getting some of them killed. But even then, this simply doesn’t get Israel off the hook in any way.

      That is what is frustrating and basically racist about the pro Israel reaction. You could have some completely independent outside party (Americans don’t qualify— we are complicit in Israeli crimes) examine exactly who did what and they might find that Hamas had done some such bad thing as was alleged at Tablet. But no objective person would think this means Israel gets to shoot over 1000 people, many nowhere near the fence. And the biggest issue of all is that the blockade is utterly immoral. These people are in a prison and have every right to break out. If they could do it with violence, they would have the right to do so. It’s not practical, but they would have the right. Instead they are supposed to sit quietly like animals in a factory farm.

    • I have no interest in debunking it if it is true, which I can’t judge. So your argument is that Hamas tried to blow holes in a fence, so it was okay for Israel to shoot thousands of people.

      I have read the pro Israel side making its case in various places and if you granted all of it as factual, you still have Israel firing at unarmed people, many of them far from the fence. And Israel maintaining Gaza as a vast prison camp. You guys don’t seem to understand that Hamas’s actions don’t justify what Israel does.

    • Jon66 thinks the actions of a handful of Palestinians means it is okay to make a sweeping and dehumanizing claim about all Palestinians.

      I guess it’s okay to do that to Palestinians in his eyes. I wonder if the principle generalizes to other groups.

    • Claim number 5 is very popular with NYT readers. They don’t seem to realize it applies to people who choose to raise their families on stolen land.

  • 'NYT' writer who claims Zionism and human rights are intertwined ignores Palestinians
    • Loeffler is an unconscious racist. It is necessary to go into the details as you have done to show why, but it boils down to this— Palestinians don’t matter if their rights conflict with liberal Zionist ideals. That is racism and it should be labeled as such.

  • Gaza massacre ends American political oath: Israel support is bipartisan
    • Why the hell would Phil want to meet people in Sderot? We can get plenty of disgusting callous rationalizations from creeps in blog comment sections.

      You are extremely willing to believe Hamas spokespeople when it suits you. Obviously Hamas wants to take credit. What does it look like if children die or have their legs so badly injured they need amputations if Hamas people hang back? Any oh so clever remarks to make about the women and children and medics shot? Well, they are all Hamas anyway, so you are fine with killing or crippling them.

    • You are way too optimistic. If the violence stops or goes back to the usual level where Israel shoots a farmer or fisherman now and then, the issue drops off the front pages very fast and everyone goes back to how evil Russians conspire to control everything. Nobody in mainstream liberal circles wants to talk about this.

      And if you read comments at the NYT, a great many support shooting Palestinians and blaming Hamas. There is another batch who seem blissfully unaware that the US bears any guilt for what is happening— they actually think that we Americans stand above the situation as impartial judges who try to be fair to both sides. It is understandable that they would think this, since virtually ever mainstream press outlet fills their heads with this nonsense.

  • 'Today is one of the most tragic days in the history of the Jewish people': one American Jew's response to the Gaza massacre
  • 'Gaza, Gaza' is chant from Palestinians demonstrating near new US embassy
    • I was wondering if that 5 percent guess of yours is right. Could be. Lots of people in the US still seem very wary of saying anything too critical of Israel.

      I get the impression some liberals are willing to look at this situation and blame Trump’s embassy move, but that is about as far as some will go. Blaming Trump is in their comfort zone. He deserves it, of course. They also blame Hamas for Israel’s bloodbath. This type of liberal is useless.

  • As Israel massacres more Gazans, 'NY Times' continues its distorted coverage -- with one honorable exception
    • The propaganda works, too. I read a few of the comments after the article and many express sympathy for the Palestinians, but put all the blame in Hamas and none of it on the Israelis who are doing the killing. It’s as if the Israelis have no choice and no responsibility. A lot of people blame Trump, which is fine, but it is also superficial partisan point scoring. Trump happens to have done what most Israel wanted. He is their ideal American President.

      But it’s not just the NYT. The commenters wouldn’t be so easily swayed if we weren’t culturally disposed to side with Israelis shooting unarmed Palestinians.

  • The remarkable disappearing act of Israel's car-bombing campaign in Lebanon or: What we (do not) talk about when we talk about 'terrorism'
    • The point, I think, is what it says about the press. Brulin did a lot of work here, demonstrating that even on the narrowest possible definition of terrorism the mainstream press whitewashes Israel. It is valuable having someone willing to do this much work making an overwhelming open and shut case proving press bias.

    • Calling this brilliant is an understatement. It needs to be a book. As a post, it needs a permanent link. It is the finest single piece of media criticism on human rights that I have ever seen.

      Speaking of links, the one to his dissertation at the bottom of the post is broken.

  • The 'fake news' story is fake news
    • I have generally assumed eljay was using “ hate” ironically, because the word is used against people who criticize Israel. I bet Jon 66 understands it the same way, but has decided to play the naïf who takes it literally. Eljay just gave alternative explanations.

      In actuality some Zionists clearly hate non Zionists, including non Zionist Jews, but one reason they conflate Judaism with Zionism is so criticism of one becomes criticism of the other and therefore anyone who criticizes Zionism is therefore an antisemite and guilty of— guess what?— hate. Eljay has been mocking that attitude by turning it against Zionism.

    • That’s called trolling, mooser. Nobody said anything about Russia as a social democracy. The refighting Cold War part is right. The Soviets really were crappy and the Cold Warriors used hysteria about that to justify their own crappiness.

      Anyway, successful troll. I responded.

    • Thanks eljay and cigar god. I obviously agree with your posts too. I could listen to the talk about Russian “ meddling” with some sort of open mind if it was presented with about a hundred times less melodrama and some sense of perspective, but the melodrama is a necessary ingredient.

    • Sorry John if my tone got a little heated in the comments above. I do find the obsession with Russian manipulation bizarre and bordering on paranoid McCarthyism, but I have friends in real life who think like this and it is, well, a bit frustrating given that we are immersed in lies and half truths all the time.

      I don’t completely agree with Phil, btw. In theory we do have access to more info than ever before, but in practice both our time and interest level is limited. We can’t be googling incessantly for all relevant sources of information on every important topic. We can all be manipulated to some degree, especially by a mainstream press that tells us it is objective and alternate sources are Russian sponsored psywar agents.

    • “Some small, manipulable minority of voters were convinced to hate and to act on their hate, to give victory to the rich and right-wing. Maybe voters in the past have been lied to and manipulated, but not like this, not in a democracy, not in a place that’s supposed to care about the truth. ”

      I would have trouble understanding how anyone could type this with a straight face if I hadn’t seen liberals saying this for over a year. Good lord, what country are you living in? Caring about the truth? When was that ever the case? Even sticking to the trivia of election campaigns and leaving out minor peccadillos like the Iraq War, every presidential campaign is conducted with lies morning noon and night. Remember swift boating? Remember how Nixon conspired to wreck Vietnam peace negotiations? Remember Watergate? Heard anything about the October Surprise? And those are the big lies. How about Bush’s humble foreign policy and compassionate conservatism? How about during the Democratic primaries all we heard from the mainstream press was that Sanders was supported by white Berniebros.

      People spent massive amounts of money convincing the American people that our social safety programs were on the brink of collapse and that government could never do anything right on the domestic front while at the very same time we were told that America had a right and a duty to intervene and make war on other countries in order, we were told, to make them democracies. Because we could trust the government to do that in other countries. The contradiction is spectacular, even apart from the catastrophic bloodbaths our interventions actually caused.

      And you think what the Russians did in 2016 was some sort of new horrific level of destructive manipulation of our wonderful democracy? I have seen the claim you make countless times. It’s bizarre. Even granting the premise that the Russians were these manipulative geniuses, which I don’t, the emotional impact of your claim depends on this notion that previously we werent being manipulated constantly by corporations, government officials, mainstream media, and the experts from think tanks they love to cite.

    • It’s the butterfly effect—there were so many factors explaining why Clinton lost by a narrow margin in a few key states you have to assume almost science fiction like powers to the Russians if you think their influence was the critical one. I like the science fiction novels of Iain Banks, where machines with superhuman intelligence try to manipulate other societies for their own good and still screw up ( and no, I don’t advocate intervention in real life— it is a fantasy), causing civil wars that kill billions. But liberals think the Russians had a vastly more sophisticated view of American politics than most professional political operators in America.

      It was dumb luck. I seriously doubt the Russians believed they were changing the election results. The weather causing random changes in turnout might have had more impact. Maybe there were Russian butterflies conspiring to change the weather.

  • The 'One Democratic State Campaign' program for a multicultural democratic state in Palestine/Israel
    • Keith, it is Palestinians themselves who are demanding the right to go back home. They aren’t thinking just short term. It is an artificial distinction— if the Israelis are going to keep their stolen property for themselves then some form of coercion against Palestinians is part of the package. If the coercion stops then what will stop Palestinians from creating their own right of return? The Israelis are thugs, but they are logical thugs. Their state in its present form requires them to treat Gaza as a prison.

      But the solution is for Palestinians to hash out. I think I agree that for Americans our job is to stop our government’s policy of helping the Israelis oppress the Palestinians. But pointing to what the alternative could be is part of this. If you spend any time reading people in “ mainstream” circles, you will see some claiming that the Israelis are just defending themselves. Against what? Well, the terrible threat of having to treat Palestinians as people with the right to live in their own homeland. But they won’t put it like that. It is nice to have articles like this to point to when people start screeching about Israel’s right to exist. It shows that this is not the issue. The pro Israel side wants people to think that Israel is fighting for its life and the alternative they wish people to imagine is a bunch of Palestinians slaughtering Jews. Debunking this false dichotomy is in my opinion part of what is needed to persuade Americans that we are supporting apartheid.

    • “A step forward” suggests that you are stepping forwards towards something.

      I used to think the 2ss was the pragmatic goal, but there is less reason to think so. People like Finkelstein Salk about an international consensus, but that has had no meaning. If Palestinians want to work for a 1ss, then good for them. The “ realistic” alternative is decades more of meaningless negotiating about negotiations. But it isn’t my decision or yours to make in the end.

    • Didn’t listen to Finkelstein yet— no time at the moment, but isn’t he a 2ss supporter? On supposedly pragmatic grounds?

      Also, why can’t people talk about Gaza and long term solutions simultaneously? The Gaza protests are about the right of return, from what I have read.

      On the other hand, my own feeling as an American is that our role should mainly be to stop American interference in other countries, so it is not my job to push for solutions that other people have to live with. I have come to this point watching much of the so called American left neglect to oppose our intervention in Syria because we have our own notions of what Syria should be like. Beware of Americans of any ideology who get too caught up in choosing solutions for others and not focusing on our own crimes.

      I would try to reconcile my first two paragraphs with the one above, but I am not sure it can be done and anyway, now I have to go.

    • And your solution is what?

  • Flaming kites mark fifth Friday of Gaza protests
    • “Have you no intellectual or moral integrity whatsoever? “

      Basically whiny self pitying melodrama is all the hasbarists have, but they soldier on using the rhetorical weapons they possess against overwhelming odds. When you think of it like that, it shows admirable courage to go into comment sections of newspapers and blogs willing to sacrifice every bit of credibility and decency they have to serve the glorious cause.

    • The Israelis are too humane to employ gliding fabrics of mass destruction against the people who oppress them by protesting. So they shoot them, bomb them and blockade them instead.

  • Israel needs Palestinian violence to shift world opinion -- and 'The New York Times' helps out!
  • Las Vegas print shop refuses to print JVP banner over Israel politics
  • Portman's move puts pressure on liberal Zionists to take a stand
    • No time to read your link right now, Yonah, but I have long noticed that there is a very wide range of people who call themselves liberal Zionists. The basic definition is that they say they favor a 2ss. But on one extreme this is just lip service and they wouldn’t lift a finger to inconvenience any Israeli not even the most rabid settler. At the other extreme you have people who condemn Israel’s behavior as harshly as this blog does and who favor boycotts, but still think a 2ss is best so they are still Zionists. And there is everything in between.

      That is just an observation anyone can make whatever one’s own stance happens to be.

    • “There are many in the liberal zionist camp who feel that BDS is a worse threat than the occupation, who see those who hold hands with Omar Barghouti as adversaries and enemies, does a worldview that includes pessimism regarding the utility of alliances with such people, does that mean they can’t be called liberal?”

      They can be called anything. All sorts of people call themselves “ liberal” these days. But if someone actually thinks BDS is a worse threat than the occupation, they obviously have contempt for Palestinian rights. If they can’t condemn the killing of unarmed protestors in sharp terms, then they have no respect for Palestinian lives. But sure, they can call themselves liberal if they want.

  • Neocons and liberal interventionists are back in the saddle again -- though 'nobody wants a big war'!
    • Some of the American left and I include myself here, failed miserably in opposing the American covert war on Syria. It doesn’t matter how bad Assad is— the issue for Americans should have been the same as it was with Iraq in 2003 or Libya in 2011. We had no right to intervene.

      What makes it worse was that the US intervened, pouring billions of dollars of weapons into the hands of “ moderate “ Syrian rebels so they could kill at least 100,000 Syrian soldiers and militia and an unknown number of civilians and keep the war dragging on but just to add a touch of Stalinist mockery to it all, our press and politicians claim that we failed Syria by not intervening.
      So now half a million are dead and now we might start a war with Syria, Iran, and Russia.

      God bless America.

  • Jews and trauma
    • Your reaction is bizarre. Phil has devoted years of his life, out in the open, criticizing Zionism and he is part of the problem? What high standards you supposedly have. I have problems with Phil too sometimes but this is ridiculous.

      As for the Holocaust, I had a Jewish friend ( he died young a few years ago) whose parents were alive, but as I understood it virtually the whole family from two generations back was exterminated. I knew my two grandmothers— the two grandfathers died of natural causes before I was born. It staggers me imagining some alternate universe where they were all murdered by some movement that tried to exterminate all white Protestants. I don’t think the Holocaust was worse than some of the other horrific crimes in history, but it was one of the worst and yes, if you are an immediate descendant of a Holocaust survivor and most of your family was wiped out I would think that would have an effect. It in no way whatsoever justifies the crimes that Israel has committed, but are people going to be traumatized? Hell yes.

  • Israel just lost American Jews
    • You might be right. It has always worked that way in the past. Phil is correct in observing what is happening, but it has happened before, notably during the 82 Lebanon War when Israel was bombing civilians and later that year with the Sabra Shatila massacre. Sometimes Israel defenders realize it is better to lie low and let the storm pass. If violence ends and nothing further happened, based on past experience, the NYT and all the rest will happily forget the shootings and go back to normal.

      However, with Trump possibly about to present a "peace plan" with his good buddy in Saudi Arabia, that might keep the issue alive. Also, we have a still functioning internet and it is harder for the MSM to impose its view on the situation.

      I think things are gradually inching in the pro-Palestinian direction, but in the US this is in part because the Israeli right has zero ability at public relations. A smart person in charge over there would pretend to be interested in peace and then the NYT and the rest would fall over themselves accepting that there was a "peace process" and that would be good enough. The Likudists won't even pretend to give a crap what Palestinians want.

  • Killing Palestinian protesters turns into a PR debacle for Israel
    • The Israelis are doing what they have always done, but modern technology is catching up with them. It's harder to gun people down in cold blood without someone catching it on camera and putting it online. In the old days it would be filtered through the NYT in "he said, she said" fashion and they could claim they were shooting back at terrorist snipers.

  • A brief, unhappy history of Israeli massacres
  • The double standard for 'a peaceful English town' and Gaza
    • I have read the skeptical arguments elsewhere, but don’t feel like I know enough about espionage, chemical weapons, organic chemistry or various other subjects to have a firm view of the matter. That is sort of my general attitude about all situations where intelligence agencies and governments are our main source of information.

      It is fine with me if people want to discuss this in the comments, but I won’t be contributing.

  • Videos of Palestinians shot walking, running and praying appear on social media, but US cables keep mum
  • On the 'double standard' for Israel
    • Good piece as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough. I don’t disagree with what you say about the various nuances and it is useful to point them out. But the fact is that consciously or unconsciously, the people who make these accusations are displaying anti Palestinian racism. We are swamped with this attitude in the West and so I think it goes unnoticed unless we stop to think about it, but the underlying idea is that Palestinians simply don’t matter and no one could possibly think they do. So any criticism of Israel or Zionism simply has to be motivated by antisemitism unless it is extremely mild and accompanied by “ balance”, which in practice tends to mean watering it down so that no serious pressure on Israel can ever be contemplated.

      You say much of this, but you don’t take that last step. The people making these accusations of antisemitism are bigots. It is a remarkable situation where the obvious bigots on an issue are allowed to put their critics in trial.

  • There are only two kinds of Jews, Schumers and Feinsteins
    • I sorta wish you had chosen someone other than Feinstein, but I guess the idea here is that of the big tent. You have people, imperfect as we all are, who at least recognize that there are basic human rights issues at stake and then you have Chuck Schumer and Bari Weiss and AIPAC and millions of rightwing Christian Zionists.

  • 'NYT' free speech advocate Bari Weiss reportedly helped bring down a Columbia dean over 'intellectual heresy'
  • Schumer and Dems outdo Trump at AIPAC-- there's no peace because 'Palestinians don't believe in Torah'
  • Nine reasons Israel is not a 'progressive paradise'
  • 'NYT' writers slam left for intolerance of dissent-- on Israel panel that excludes anti-Zionists and Palestinians
    • " obviously it would be uncommon to find an article that calls for the undoing of Israel. "

      I don't recall, but I imagine the NYT commonly carried articles calling for the "undoing of South Africa" in your sense of the term. That is, calls for one man one vote and the end of apartheid.

  • In propaganda coup for Israel, NYT frontpager ascribes Gaza's misery to Palestinian infighting
    • I hope you are right regarding the deterrence factor. As for “ permission”, that was my way of saying that the NYT is laying the groundwork to justify Israel if it does come to war. And unfortunately I think it works with some readers. You can read the comments underneath this or any NYT story on Palestine. The worst ones are by racists, but there are also some pretty bad ones by people who I think probably mean well, but get their information from the NYT. I can’t necessarily blame them. Nobody can follow every issue. I think propaganda works to some extent or organizations and think tanks and politicians wouldn’t produce so much of it.

    • Part of what they are doing, both in this article and in Friedman’s columns, is giving Israel permission to bomb civilians in Lebanon and Gaza.

      As for the blockade, the NYT basically supports it. They pay as little attention to it as possible. If anything one tenth as severe were imposed on Israel they would treat it as cause for war. But since it is Israel doing it to Palestinians they either don’t care or support it.

  • NYT op-ed describing Israel as a place of refuge is missing the word, Palestinians
  • Israeli diplomat calls on American students 'to restore the honor' of vilified word-- Zionism
    • “Cannot see for the life of me why they are considered somehow more morally abhorrent than say drone attacks or targeted assassinations.”

      The comment came up in passing when we were writing a piece about the fact that Israel murders civilians while the “ liberal” press pretends otherwise. You would have to take it up with apologists for Israeli or American military actions. In other words, the people we were criticizing.

      I guess I have a problem when anyone on any side has trouble using the word “ disgusting” about, say, the killing of children. It shouldn’t matter who is doing it or what cause they claim they are defending. I frankly doubt that any planner of attacks on children whether conducted by plane or by suicide bomber actually had good intentions when they plan such things. People are full of crap and can justify any obscenity.

      This is, btw, the fundamental reason why one should oppose Zionism. It starts out with good intentions— providing Jews with a refuge— but once it became a program for conquering Palestine then it meant, among other things, terrorist attacks on Palestinian civilians. Whatever good intentions might have been present become irrelevant.

    • We wrote that suicide bombing was disgusting, not Palestinian days of rage. And you know it.

  • Thomas Friedman justifies slaughter of Arab civilians by 'crazy' Israel
    • MAD sort of worked in the Cold War, but partly by luck. We humans often think that because some policy worked out that it meant it was wise, but we just have a sample size of one planet and there were times when we came close to nuclear war.

      "MW wishes for Iranian hezbollah violence to force Israel to fold up its tents and disband. "

      I think you are confusing the front page posters with some views that have been expressed in the comments. My impression is that Phil, for instance, favors BDS as the best path forwards towards a democracy with equal rights for everyone, but expects that there is going to be further bloodshed along the way. That isn't a question of favoring it.

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