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Total number of comments: 145 (since 2011-11-11 21:21:17)

G. Seauton

I am a writer and editor dealing mostly with education. I wrote a good deal about myself to Philip Weiss 11/9, although I would not want that information to be made public. I am interested in responding to one or two of the threads for today, 11/11, if possible. Thank you.

Showing comments 100 - 1

  • Jews are smarter, and funnier too
    • Seems it's easy to make lists of comedians by ethnicity. Here's one you're sure to like, Sean:

      Short list of Irish comedians (with emphasis on Americans)

      Kirstie Alley, Art Carney, George Carlin, Jane Curtin, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Farley, Christian Finnegan, Jackie Gleason, Denis Leary, Anne Meara, Bill Murray, Conan O'Brien, Carroll O'Connor, Rosie O'Donnell, Catherine O'Hara, Colin Quinn, Mickey Rooney, Molly Shannon

      I could throw in Bill O'Reilly, but his comedy routines are inadvertent.

      Maybe the Irish are the funniest people in the world?

  • The etymology of anti-Semitism
    • I find it astounding that after Massad’s definitive and scholarly article, that anyone would even think of referring to Palestinians as ‘Semites.’

      I don't think you read the article. If you had, you wouldn't "find it astounding," and you wouldn't have written that comment at all. (Unless, of course, you're simply a propagandist spreading Israeli hasbara -- in which case, your comments are not worth considering for a second.)

  • Documents reveal how US let Israel off the hook over 'execution' of American Furkan Dogan
    • Let us NEVER forget the death of Furkan Dogan nor the deaths of the other victims of the attack on the Mavi Marmara. One of the great values of this website is that we can make sure that these deaths will never be forgotten.

      And when the time comes, we will present the evidence we have gathered (or others will), and the perpetrators of these crimes will fear for their lives or their freedom.

  • Anointed by Kristol, rising Middle East expert Rand Paul lectures Kerry
    • "Rand Paul gives me the creeps." Me too. I'm surprised more people don't agree.

    • "Rand Paul apparently broke with his father’s economic principles before he started whoring for Israel." In what way? I haven't seen anything about that. Please provide links. Also, note that comments from sites such as do not count as evidence unless seriously buttressed with verifiable facts.

      "Libertarians is also the political movement with the highest average IQs and usually have above-average amount of education." Is that so? Are you a libertarian? More to the point, are you a native speaker of English? Because if you are, your sentence contains a subject-verb agreement error ("libertarians is"), which not so long ago would have marked you as having little education and probably a fairly low IQ in the minds of educated speakers of English. I realize, given the Internet and all that, that written English is often muddled these days, but you will admit, I'm sure, that your statement is ironic to say the least. Also, later on, you write, "While I’m always concerned with the GOP neocons we shouldn’t forget that there is plenty of them in the Democratic party too...." Are you sure you want to go out on a limb about libertarian IQ? Or perhaps you're not actually libertarian (see my earlier question)?

  • David Gregory covers up for the Israel lobby (even as he fingers the NRA)
    • Go Phil! This is the kind of critical reporting that makes your blog -- and your commentary -- unique. Excellent.

  • Questions of war crimes remain as Israel shifts explanation on strike that killed 10 people from same family
    • What? The IDF committed a war crime? After all this time? That's amazing, don't you think? This is a testament to the fact that Israel has such precision weapons that can make such surgical strikes, that after all this time, only ONE war crime has been committed. Any other country (and G-d knows there are plenty of other ones) would have committed MANY MORE war crimes already. So we should all be happy that the only existing democracy in the Middle East has committed ONLY ONE war crime, because it could have been a lot worse, you know, given Palestinians and terrorism and anti-Semitism, and all that.

      Go Israel!

  • NYT's Jodi Rudoren responds to criticism of Facebook comments
    • "The bottom line is simple: Jodi Rudoren is shallow — shallow intellectually, shallow emotionally, and shallow in terms of her knowledge of the situation she is trying to report on. One can easily think of dozens of bloggers and writers for alternative media publications who are much more impressive writers and analysts. The editorial standards of the current New York Times are low. This is the same publication that saw fit to publish Judy Miller.

      What is there about the culture of the New York Times that chooses to promote the careers of mediocre writers like Rudoren?"

      I agree. I wanted to shorten your statement, Sean, but there was hardly anything I could cut out that wasn't worth saying -- so let it stand. I have thought the same thing myself many times.

  • Gazans are 'ho-hum' about the deaths of relatives -- NYT's Rudoren
    • I note that Jodi Rudoren, a supposedly literate, well-educated, and well-read person -- a "journalist" even -- doesn't realize that the word is "deep-seated," not "deep-seeded." Really, this comment shouldn't be considered pedantic: her error is clearly not a typo. It's ignorance.

      So it's now even less surprising that she has such ignorant views about Palestinians -- the "Other."

    • "what’s this about israelis being more traumatized by projectile fires, because palestinians, having a culture of martyrdom have less to lose? and the supposed palestinian “ho-hum about the death of loved ones?

      such racist jibberish is so remniscent of what was said about the japanese during ww ii...."

      It's not just racist gibberish -- though it certainly is that, as well; it typifies U.S. journalists' inability to know or understand anything beyond their narrow profession: they know only journalism, according to the current rules in force in America. So many know virtually nothing else.

      You might almost ask how one can even be human and think that the "Other" is less traumatized from being victimized because that "Other" has a less opulent life.

  • 'New Yorker' launches Netanyahu caption contest: 'The ridiculous deserves ridicule'
    • Caption: See this bomb cartoon? That's my mental state. I'm this close to a complete psychotic blowup over not getting my way.

      Caption: See this bomb? That's me. You know Monty Python The Meaning of Life? When I blow up, it will be like the restaurant scene -- not pretty.

  • The conversion of Joel Kovel (Part 2)
    • "Yes, Krauss, all those counter-arguments don’t mean squat when that Askenazi +15IQ is singing...."

      What -- Ashkenazi IQ is +15? Hmm, seems kind of low. I'm guessing you're not Ashkenazi, Mooser. I'm sure your IQ is higher than that.

      Though I guess it could be worse. At least it's a positive number, not negative.

  • The conversion of Joel Kovel (Part 1)
    • "Christianity ... is -not- a stand in for humanism."

      True enough. In fact, Christianity is not humanism per se.

      However, the following sentence is unfortunate:

      "The idea that leaving a particular, even tribal faith, and joining Christianity means giving up 'specialness' and 'joining the human family' is exactly what the Pilgrims thought about the natives, as well as the Belgians who emptied the Congo...."

      The Belgians emptied the Congo? And the Israelis, who are not Christians, are emptying Palestine (of Palestinians). I'm not sure your example was well chosen, Tokobk.

  • My correspondence with NYT's Rudoren
    • "In what other profession in the US or in the Western world could you send a complete neophyte to do such an important job?"

      True enough, journalism in America is in such a seriously degenerate state of affairs that the New York Times, of all papers, could send a neophyte to cover the Middle East. I'm with you here.

      The rationale one gets from journalists -- indoctrinated as many are in the major journalism programs, which, these days, teach their graduates to be brainless stenographers -- is that a veteran journalist has the skills and the experience to be thrown into unfamiliar situations and nonetheless "hit the ground running," i.e., cover the situation brilliantly despite knowing nothing a priori simply because they are trained journalists.

      It's an excuse that's wearing a bit thin, to put it mildly.

  • Settler Marc Zell talks Jewish identity at the King David Hotel
    • "As everyone knows, Yahwe gave the Ten Commandments to the Jews (3500 years ago) and they passed them on to the world … if it weren’t for the Jews, the whole world would be morally lost."

      Of course, the Ten Commandments are largely redundant and can be reduced to only two commandments, as George Carlin demonstrated in this brilliant and incisive philosphical lecture:

  • Krugman's coverup
    • "Remember, this is a guy who was an avid marxist late into his 20s and possibly into his early 30s. He boycotted South Africa in college. And he hung out with prominent Palestinians."

      What makes you think he was an avid Marxist? The fact that he read Saul Alinsky? The two facts you follow this comment with do not demonstrate your point.

  • The crisis of Jewish identity
    • I think it's fine if people don't assimilate. If whole ethnicities or religious groups don't assimilate, fine for them. What's not so cool is the xenophobia some of these groups might develop -- but even that is not such a problem as far as it may go. The biggest problem is the combination of xenophobia with the push to make one's xenophobia (and its resulting agenda) part of the national policy of the country where one is technically a citizen.

    • "I wanted to clear this up. When I wrote about 'millions of other people' I was referring to ethnic nationalists from all groups (including my own) — they all tend to display the same predictable and robotic personality traits and behavioral patterns."

      OK. I didn't think that's what you had in mind.

    • Sean, maybe you didn't read past the intro piece you link to at shakespeare-online. Some of the material is hardly supportive of your point of view. The articles on the whole are not very scholarly

      See if you can find Walter Cohen's article "The Merchant of Venice and the Possibilities of Historical Criticism," ELH, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982. I'm not claiming it comes right out and states that Shakespeare was not an anti-Semite. However, it will give you a sense of how much more complex the issues in The Merchant of Venice are than you seem to think. It is not the simple black-and-white morality play you seem to view it as.

    • Sean: There is too much to say about your comments and too little time to write it all up. I'll content myself with a couple of brief replies for now and probably flesh them out later, in a couple of days, when I have more time.

      You write, "So far you have defined a misleading dichotomy between Antonio (a flawed and sketchy character, to be sure) and Shylock (a character which Shakespeare indeed presents with some nuance and sympathy)."

      I've done nothing of the kind, since I haven't defined any dichotomy whatsoever between the two.

      As for citing critics from other centuries, why would I bother? Most Shakespeare criticism prior to the 20th century is not taken very seriously by contemporary scholars. I'll simply note that the great 19th century actor Edmund Kean first made a name for himself by giving a sympathetic portrayal of Shylock.

      Too many things to say about your comments and too little time. I'll simply make a couple of comments for now

    • "Interestingly, Shakespeare almost certainly never met a real Jew, there being no legally resident Jews in England at the time (assuming that Shakespeare really wrote the plays)."

      Good point. Moreover, the more salient religious conflict at that time in England was between Catholics and Protestants/Church of England. Jews, of whom there existed only a shred of the previous population -- expelled in 1290, if I recall correctly -- played virtually no part in English life. So naturally, the play takes place in Venice. There was a substantial Jewish population in Italy.

    • Furthermore, Elizabethan England was a violent place, a place where aristocrats could murder servants with virtual impunity, people routinely fought duels, and the powerless were especially vulnerable. The Italy of that time was even more violent.

      Viewed against this historical backdrop, Shylock's insistence on lethal revenge against a bitter enemy is not nearly as shocking as it would be in our times. The real shock for the audiences of the time, probably, was that it was a Jew who would demand such revenge, rather than a more powerful person -- a "noble."

    • "Did Shakespeare, on balance, taking into account everything in the play, in all of his works, and in Elizabethan culture in general, take the side of Shylock against the Christian culture of his time? I really don’t think so. The attempt to make that argument seems somewhat propagandistic to me — an argument with a contemporary cultural and even political agenda in mind." [emphasis mine]

      And that's not an argument I make. So let's not have any straw men, please.

    • As an anecdotal postscript, when I first read The Merchant of Venice, in high school, I felt more sympathy for Shylock than for Antonio, although I was glad that Shylock didn't get his pound of flesh. I was 13 years old at the time; these were the feelings the play elicited in me at that age.

    • Sean, I read that link. It contains the following:

      In answer to a question from the audience, Rabbi Weil replied, to laughter, “No one in their right mind would nominate Shakespeare as a ‘righteous gentile.’ To paint him as an anti-Semite would be incorrect as well. He didn’t have the moral character to present a Jew in a positive light, but he did present a Jew in a nuanced light.”

      Barry Edelstein, the director, noted that Shakespeare presented Antonio, the merchant for whom the play is named, as “not a nice guy,” who constantly tormented Shylock over his Jewishness. As Shylock tells him (Act 1 Scene 3), “You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, and spit upon my Jewish gabardine…You did void your rheum upon my beard…Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last -- you spurned me such a day. You called me a dog; and for these courtesies I’ll lend you thus much moneys?” To which Antonio replies, “I am as like to call thee so again, to spit on thee again, to spurn thee too!”

      No, not a nice guy.

      Professor Shapiro added that it is no surprise that Shakespeare “was interested in the Jewish question. Every major writer of the period was interested in the Jewish question.” Which still leaves the question, “Was Shakespeare an anti-Semite?”

      As Rabbi Weil responded about this enigmatic play and the enigmatic genius who wrote it, “We don’t know what was in Shakespeare’s mind.” [emphasis mine]

      So there was a little more context to that bit you quoted (which comes at the end of the block quote I give, above).

      The reality is that yes, there is a debate. No, the matter is not settled. Of course, if you know Shakespeare, you know that there is ambiguity surrounding every major character in all of Shakespeare's greatest plays. The Merchant of Venice is no exception, but nonetheless, as I said earlier, there was no more moving defense of Jews written by a non-Jew before the nineteenth century than Shylock's speech. No one had dared express such sentiments before Shakespeare, and no one dared again for several centuries.

      Critical interpretation of Shakespeare can go in a variety of directions. The simple fact is that the question is hardly clear-cut, but you have casually consigned Shakespeare to the ranks of anti-Semites, even though the "informed debate" you link to features a rabbi saying it would be "incorrect" to call Shakespeare anti-Semitic.

      Let's be a little more rigorous. My original point still stands.

    • "Jews have been affiliated with the organized left for centuries."

      Centuries? Really? How many? One and a half?

    • "So what exactly do you think an artist does?"

      I know what an artist does. What's your point?

    • "I lean to the belief, based on the overall evidence, that it is indeed one of many anti-Jewish works that have been produced by Western (especially European) culture for more than two millennia."

      So you believe Shakespeare was anti-Semitic because he wrote The Merchant of Venice, which, although it is a work of great complexity, you compare with Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, a play that is one-dimensional in comparison, and you believe that The Merchant of Venice is anti-Jewish.

      And yet, probably the most moving defense of Jews ever written by a non-Jew prior to the nineteenth century was put in the mouth of Shylock by the man you would call an anti-Semite:

      He hath disgraced me, and
      hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,
      mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my
      bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
      enemies; and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath
      not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
      dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
      the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
      to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
      warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
      a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
      if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
      us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
      revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
      resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian,
      what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian
      wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by
      Christian example?

      Theaters hardly ever perform The Jew of Malta, but Jewish theater groups will put on The Merchant of Venice.

      Just out of curiosity, would you call Mark Twain a racist because he wrote Huckleberry Finn? Most of your reasoning would similarly apply.

    • "I lean to the belief, based on the overall evidence, that it is indeed one of many anti-Jewish works that have been produced by Western (especially European) culture for more than two millennia."

      So you believe Shakespeare was anti-Semitic because he wrote The Merchant of Venice, which, although it is a work of great complexity, you compare with Marlowe's The Jew of Malta, a play that is one-dimensional in comparison, and you believe that The Merchant of Venice is anti-Jewish.

      And yet, probably the most moving defense of Jews ever written by a non-Jew prior to the nineteenth century was put in the mouth of Shylock by a man you would call anti-Semitic:

      He hath disgraced me, and
      hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,
      mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my
      bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
      enemies; and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath
      not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
      dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
      the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
      to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
      warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
      a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
      if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
      us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
      revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
      resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian,
      what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian
      wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by
      Christian example?

    • American, disregard that message. Having read one of your follow-up posts, I realize you would.

    • "The fact that Chesterton, Eliot, Pound (and Shakespeare, Goethe, Wagner, Jung, etc.) expressed anti-Jewish views doesn’t lessen my admiration for their work in the slightest...."

      You seem to be painting with quite a broad brush, Sean. I'll concede your point with respect to Chesterton, Eliot, Pound, Wagner, and Jung -- and perhaps even Goethe. But Shakespeare? You must be thinking of The Merchant of Venice. That's hardly an expression of anti-Semitic views that can be attributed to Shakespeare himself; rather, it is a dramatization of anti-Semitism, as well as a moving portrait of one of the victims thereof.

      Otherwise, there's not much Shakespeare wrote that attests to his own views on any subject whatsoever.

    • Leon Trotsky? Seriously?

      Have you read Trotsky? I have. It's true he influenced many people, but he was not a great thinker.

    • Sheldonrichman: "You mean Jewish cultureS and traditionS. There is more than one Judaism."

      Interesting comment. That there is more than one Judaism is clear. But I have been waiting to see whether anyone would point out the diversity of Jewish culture(s).

      People so often talk about "the Jewish people" as if there were "a Jewish people" and no more than one. Obviously, there are many "Catholic peoples." But Jews have traditionally laid claim to ethnic unity. And even when distinctions among Jewish ethnic groups are discussed, the implicit assumption is that these distinctions have little real importance; however, the Ashkenazis are clearly distinct from the Sephardim and don't hesitate to say so. Both groups are distinct from the Mizrahi Jews. And then there are the Falashas ...

      Also, among Ashkenazis, there are clear subgroups. The Eastern European Jews are quite distinct from the French and German Jews. Among Eastern European Jews, Hungarian Jews are distinct from Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, and Moldovan Jews.

      In fact, it could be said that the Jewish nationalism that manifests itself as Zionism is something akin to the pan-Arabism of a previous era, except that Zionism has been more successful in uniting quite diverse Jewish peoples under its banner.

    • "I have this exhaustive — and exhausting — history of the Thirty Years War on my bookshelf."
      Colin, could you give a reference for the book?

    • ... holding breath about inevitable implications of above ...

    • Why can't Hophmi admit facts "... as plain as the nose left on your face?"

      Oh, Mooser, that's below the belt.

    • "You are an antisemite, McBride...."

      Ooh, he played the anti-semitism card. So scary!

      "... and you fetishize worrying about my coreligionists."

      What the hell does that even mean? Write something in English.

    • Thinking too much is a contradiction in terms.

    • To be clear, I was responding to Sean's comment that said,
      "We have seen on Mondoweiss many *hundreds* of well-documented examples of raw and virulent racism that is deeply embedded in important strains of ancient Judaism and modern Zionism. You have never rebutted any of that material. We can get into all the interesting details once again, if you wish — all the key quotes from reputable sources are a few keystrokes away on Google."

    • Good comment, Sean. This is much better than your comment above, in which you stated, about Hophmi, "You are a carbon copy of millions of other people who share the same boring and obnoxious agenda." Not wishing to defend Hophmi, I would simply point out that that statement comes close to implicating millions of Jews in the support of Hophmi's agenda. This may or may not be true, but it would need to be proved (or demonstrated statistically). (Or were you thinking of the "Christian Zionists"? The problem there is that they don't really share Hophmi's agenda -- that is, beyond the point of defending Israel's current existence; they want "Apocalypse Now" -- or fairly soon.)

  • Rosenberg gets backup from Plitnick on 'Israel Firster'
    • A final comment: I don't really mean to dump on Germans. It's just that your desire to flee to Germany to escape what you perceive as some sort of future persecution of Jews here in America could not be more ironic -- and obviously inadvertently so.

    • You write, "[Germany] simply has a large and growing Jewish population." According to Wikipedia, Germany has a population of 119,000 Jews out of 81,777,000. That's a considerably lower percentage of the German population than the German Jewish population of the 1930s, which was not very large, compared to that of Eastern Europe.

      Is 119,000 a large population, in your opinion? Even if it is growing? In other words, if there is strength in numbers, is Germany really the place to be?

    • You write, "You seem new here. Do you even know who I am?"

      No, I don't know who you are. Why, should I? Are you somehow very important? Should I watch my tongue? I've read a few of your posts. Does that count? Honestly, what did you have in mind when you wrote that?

      The more important issue is what you wrote in your previous post. Why do you think there is going to be such a backlash in America against Jews that you would have to move to Germany, of all places, which hardly tolerates the Turkish guest workers that were invited into the country? (You're probably unaware of that, I imagine.) Is it just paranoia from your childhood? Were you told by adults that "everybody hates the Jews"?

      If so, you need to get over it. It is extremely unlikely that there will be any backlash against Jews in this country well into the foreseeable future, despite what psychotics on the Zionist right (or the more extreme elements on this site) assert. If you don't feel safe in America, there's nothing anyone can do to calm your fears -- except perhaps to write a prescription for some very potent meds.

    • You're right: I am new here, but not as new as you.

      You write, "it tells me what type of person you are who wants me to not 'survive.' "
      Your comment suggests you have a low reading level. Go back and see what I actually wrote.

      You think there's going to be a backlash against Jews in America so you want to move to Germany? You're just too naive. Not that the Germans are going to attack you for being Jewish; rather, you'll simply find it very difficult to survive there without a large bank account to live on or a good collection of wealthy friends to support you. And they can grow tired of that very quickly.

      Once again, do you speak German? Germans aren't very tolerant of Americans who show up speaking English only.

      However, if it's just a vacation you want, no problem. But that's not what you wrote in your previous comment.

    • " I think I’m going to move to Germany to escape the backlash against Jews that is coming to America."

      Seriously? Where do you think you are -- Nazi Germany? Get over that early-childhood-induced paranoia, kid.

      Or don't. Go off to Germany. The social safety net is so much better there. Do you speak German? Do you think you will fit in? Or do you plan to hang out with an expatriate community of Americans (mostly non-Jews)? Of course, without knowledge of German, you're unlikely to go far there. And why should you? Germany is set up for Germans. You're not German. And don't count on German guilt about the Holocaust making it any easier for you. If you think it will, you're not smart enough to survive there.

      Anyway, good luck. But if you're leaving America because of some phantom menace that hasn't even remotely materialized, you deserve every bit of misfortune you're likely to encounter in Germany.

  • Jewish org's letter warns Presbyterians divestment from occupation 'taps into our deepest fears'
    • "Judaism is like a family where the beloved uncle who is such a feature at the annual family gathering, about whom the older relatives speak with such pride in their voices, is actually a child molester. But nobody wants to make a fuss. And they are kids nobody cares about anyway, mostly from Camden NJ."

      That's a vicious simile (literally and figuratively), but your point is taken. It's horrible, really, to think about the things that are rationalized for the sake of Israel's "right to exist."

      The JCPA letter says, "... were American Christian denominations to indict only Jews and Israel for the conflict with the Palestinians, they would justify the violence perpetrated against Israeli civilians – including children – as the unfortunate result of Israel’s unilateral guilt."

      We indict the ones who are guilty. We indict the Israeli Jewish supporters of this Apartheid, their American enablers, and Zionists in general for all the violence perpetrated against Palestinians by Israel. We will not be kept from speaking out against oppression of the Palestinians by Zionist propaganda organizations that try to claim that Jews, rather than Palestinians, are the victims in this conflict.

  • Another op-ed headline you won't be reading any time soon in the US press
    • "Here’s one guy saying America has reached a tipping point re its support for Israel, and another guy who says the facts don’t really reveal we’re even close as a people to reaching that tipping point...."

      I'd love to think we were at a tipping point, but I haven't seen any polls that confirm it; quite the contrary.

  • High Israeli official hints, We made the Flame virus
    • "The thrust of your statement, however, is that since Israel sometimes does bad things, anything it ever does is bad."

      Not just sometimes, but very often -- virtually every single day.

    • I'll tell you who wasn't elected. George Bush was not elected. Every other U.S. president, with the exception of Jerry Ford, who took office because Nixon resigned under the threat of impeachment, has been elected.

  • 'Hath not a Palestinian eyes?': Protesters disrupt Habima performance at Globe
    • "Shakespeare was writing stuff for the Globe while England was ethnically cleansing Ireland."

      Well, not exactly. England did engage in ethnic cleansing in Ireland, but this didn't begin in any real way before Cromwell. Shakespeare died in 1616, and Cromwell was born in 1599. Cromwell was barely 17 when Shakespeare died. Cromwell led the invasion of Ireland in 1649.

      Of course, there had been conflict between England and Ireland for centuries, and England had tried unsuccessfully to conquer Ireland more or less since the thirteenth century. However, Cromwell was the one who managed to subdue Ireland and really brought serious suffering to that country.

  • Munayyer in the 'NYT': 'For all the talk about shared values between Israel and the United States, democracy is sadly not one of them'
    • Interestingly, the Times ran this op-ed only in its digital edition, if I'm not mistaken. It definitely was not in the print edition I received. Then the article disappeared from the digital edition rather quickly. They didn't want to stick their necks out too far with this one.

  • Passive-aggressive George Bush namechecks neocons for getting us into that mess
    • Robert says, "In addition, even if Gore was elected, the script would have played out similarly."

      Gore would have invaded Iraq? I don't think so.

    • I meant this, which I said:

      "So basically, by equating the 'JINSA crowd' with the 'prime mover,' [do] you ... believe that the 'JINSA crowd' pulled the strings and that Bush and Cheney were mere puppets? Or something along those lines that would be consistent with calling them the 'prime mover'? ... The president and vice president were merely doing the bidding of a lobby because that lobby was all-powerful, or at least, in the context of US politics, all-controlling?"

      I asked because that's what it sounded like to me, so I asked for clarification. I admit I wasn't familiar with the social science theory use of "prime mover."

      You ask, "so G. Seauton, we’re you implying sean was implying powell was implying jinsa was god?"


      I was asking the questions I quote at the top of this post. I wasn't implying or claiming in any way that Sean believed that JINSA was God nor the things I thought maybe he did believe. That's why I asked. In linguistics, this is called "asking for clarification"; it's one way of trying to straighten out misunderstandings. Sean was then free to say, "no, that's not what I meant," just as I am saying now.

      By the way, in the Wikipedia article you cite, directly above the social science theory section, there appears this, as one of the definitions of prime mover:

      "The prime mover, primum movens, an unmoved mover in the philosophy of Aristotle, later used by Saint Thomas Aquinas in his cosmological arguments, as a "first cause" of existence".

      Sean has referred to having been raised Catholic, so ... I sort of imagined the prime mover was a metaphor he was using to imply that the JINSA crowd basically pulled strings (being the puppet masters, so to speak) to make the war happen. (Thomas Aquinas was a medieval Catholic theologian, and the "prime mover" argument was an attempt to prove the existence of God. So many people raised Catholic have attended Jesuit high schools and been heavily indoctrinated in the thinking of Thomas Aquinas that I imagined that might have been the case with Sean.)

      I don't believe the Iraq war was primarily the result of neocon/Zionist pressure. I do believe that the neocons and Zionists were pushing for it and were quite happy to see it happen. I tend to see the U.S. desire (since World War II) to control the oil market as being the major impetus for the war. Now, Sean thinks differently. Since everyone cites so many links to justify everything on this site, I thought he might provide at least one or two so that I could check out a cogent and well-supported argument justifying his point. I am familiar with most of the people he cites, but I hardly have the time to scour all of their writings at this point. Also, I don't give much credence to Pat Buchanan with regard to anything he says.

      However, I see now that I won't have to scour all those writings. What Sean really meant, if I understand correctly, was that the "JINSA crowd" and other Zionist groups were among the special interest groups that had a significant impact on the decision to go to war. I think I basically agree with that.

      Annie and Sean, it seems you've read me all wrong. I don't do hasbara. I'm anti-Zionist, not pro-Zionist. I'm quite far from being a "pro-Israel activist" (Sean's words below). I'm not even pro-Israel. Also, I did not say or even remotely imply that JINSA had "clean hands." I stated that I thought the interests of Bush and Cheney converged with those of the Iraq war cheerleaders, many of whom were JINSA, PNAC, and other assorted pro-Israel types. I thought I had stated that clearly.

      Have I done enough "xplaining" for you? If there are any other questions you'd like me to address (other than personal ones), I'll do my best; otherwise, I'll drop out of the discussion at this point, since it's gotten a little too heated for me (especially with that "DFWU" you launched my way), and I wouldn't want to be accused of trying to provoke you. It really was not my intention to piss you off.

    • Interesting point. You essentially believe that the bureaucracy was more responsible for many of the infamous Bush policies than Bush himself?

      In any case, it's been clear for quite a while that Bush was AWOL for a major part of his presidency and that Cheney was essentially running things.

    • By the way, Sean, you say that Powell says that the "JINSA crowd" was the "prime mover" behind the war in Iraq. "Prime mover" means what? The prime mover argument, as I'm sure you know, is one of the arguments for the existence of God. God is the prime mover, according to this argument. So basically, by equating the "JINSA crowd" with the "prime mover," Powell, and you as well, by validating his argument, believe that the "JINSA crowd" pulled the strings and that Bush and Cheney were mere puppets? Or something along those lines that would be consistent with calling them the "prime mover"? Is this really what you're saying? The president and vice president were merely doing the bidding of a lobby because that lobby was all-powerful, or at least, in the context of US politics, all-controlling? Wouldn't this be hyperbolic, to put it mildly? Please explain what you mean here.

      As for Powell, I can believe he would say something like that. That a well-read and more scholarly person such as you would echo his thinking and even repeat his words is a little surprising.

      Also, I'm not interested in competing on the issue of how many organizations we can each name that belong to JINSA. I'll give you the advantage on that.

    • "There are literally thousands of highly credible reports, articles, books, facts, datapoints, etc. to support his claim."

      OK, fine. If you could cite just one or two of the most credible and conclusive articles or reports that I could read online (not forty or a hundred or a thousand, though), I'll take a look. Maybe it will force me to reevaluate my thinking.

      Right now, I don't believe Powell. I think he's a liar, and he's covering for himself. Plenty of accounts (Susskind, O'Neill, etc.) indicate that Bush and Cheney arrived in office looking for an excuse to go to war with Iraq. As I said earlier, I think their interests converged with those of the neocons, AIPAC, and, as you say, "the JINSA crowd." No one had to drag them into that war. By the way, those same Zionists, PNAC people, and other neocons wanted war with Iraq when Clinton was president, but the war had to wait for the advent of Bush/Cheney.

      So would one of your "highly credible articles, books, ... [and] datapoints" provide convincing evidence that the war idea came from "the JINSA crowd," pressuring an otherwise reluctant new president and his seasoned vice president into war? Just curious.

      Also, I'm curious about what you mean by "datapoints" that support this point. Would these be something like percentages of Zionists, neocons, or PNAC people in the Bush administration? Money flowing from such organizations to Bush and Cheney? Please elaborate.

    • "game on, got links?"

      Oh, Annie, really. Am I to understand that you actually don't believe that? Or that you think it's somehow controversial?

      You're a good writer. You provide a number of excellent articles on this site, and I agree with your general tendency to push people to justify, by links, the statements that they make. But honestly, I'm just too tired and too busy to provide links for something I witnessed first-hand. I lived in America in the 1990s. Didn't you? Could you have forgotten this? Do I really need to justify something that anyone with a memory who has lived in this country and is politically aware would know is true?

      I'm not going to bother. I mean, do you really deny the point I made? Fine. Don't believe it. The real question is, if you don't believe it, what idea does denying it make more plausible?

    • "... the “liberal” and “progressive” wing of the Israel lobby, which was eager to divert attention away from the JINSA crowd that Colin Powell fingered as the main culprits behind the war."

      Sean, Colin Powell has said a lot of things -- many of them clearly false. Remember his UN speech? Was there anything more obviously cooked than the evidence he presented? (I remember laughing as I watched it live. And I remember the immediate reactions of the French and German ambassadors who weren't buying it.) And to this day, he claims to have been taken in by the CIA ...

    • "Jewish nationalists (Jewish Zionists) were the key ringleaders of the Iraq War. This assertion is easy to prove with hard data. ... They left a vast document trail behind them that is ripe for data mining."

      What you say is correct, as far as you go, except for calling them "ringleaders." The word "cheerleaders" would be more appropriate. See my previous comment.

      There is no doubt, as you state, that Jewish nationalists and Zionists, many of them prominent neocons, pushed strongly for the Iraq war. The record is clear. What is not clear is the causal link you seem to be trying to establish between neocon/Zionist desire for war and the Bush/Cheney launch of that war. It is much clearer that their interests simply converged. You, on the other hand -- corrrect me if I'm wrong -- seem to imply that Bush and Cheney were dragged kicking and screaming into a war with Iraq. Clearly, they had no opposition to this war. They were for it from the very beginning, by all accounts.

    • Also, I realize you mention the Israel lobby in the quote I give. I don't think the Israel lobby was pulling strings with Bush and Cheney; they truly wanted to invade Iraq. It really doesn't matter that AIPAC had been pushing for it for years before the war. Everyone else before and since has resisted their warmongering.

      And lest you object about Obama, he's not going to invade Iran either. Nor will he bomb Iran's nuclear facilities.

      It's not that I have any great faith in Obama. I don't. I won't vote for him.

    • "Why do you think that Dick Cheney is as remotely as powerful as the Israel lobby — and especially its neoconservative wing? He’s not."

      Was, though -- much more powerful. Sean, I agree with you overall, but I don't for a minute think that Wolfowitz, Perle, and the other Zionist neocons were more powerful than Cheney. Let's not exaggerate. The real issue is that the neocons weren't really a shadow government; they weren't pulling strings behind the scenes; rather, their interests converged with those of Bush and Cheney. Don't forget the importance of oil. Moreover, Bush announced his desire to invade Iraq as early as 1999, during the early days of the presidential campaign.

      It's easy to forget these days, but back in the mid-90s it was a common refrain among right-wingers and jingoists in general that we needed to finish the job in Iraq that George H. W. Bush had started. And Jews were not more representative of such views than anyone else (among right-wingers). I'm talking about the views of people you might meet on the street, in bowling alleys, or in bars -- average people. You may have forgotten.

      I take your point that the neocons had a particularly pernicious influence at the top of the Bush administration -- but they were pushing in a direction that Bush and Cheney wanted to take. Bush and Cheney balked only when it came to expanding the war to Syria and Iran -- which the neocons also wanted to invade, as they still do.

  • Green Party candidate for President calls for end to Israeli apartheid
    • "I’ll wait and see whether François Hollande let’s his [Judaic] religion prevail over being truthful...."

      Am I missing something? Am I just not getting the joke? Hollande is not Jewish.

  • On the sidewalk in Hamburg-- 'Hier wohnte'
    • "... from my experience, people who are brutalised become brutal when they possibly can, and it is not unknown, all over the world, for people (like Zionists, in case I am becoming abstruse) to take political or cultural advantage of brutal events to achieve their own ends."

      Excellent point, Mooser.

  • Who's the anti-Semite?
    • "- 'Anti-Semitism is the world’s oldest social pathology' – I don’t agree."

      Of course, the idea that anti-Semitism is the "world's oldest pathology" is absurd on the face of it. Before there were Jews, there was no anti-Semitism (in the sense of "Jew-hatred"), but humans displayed plenty of xenophobia, tribal hatred, genocidal impulses, and the whole rest of the gamut of vicious, violent hatred of anyone who was "other." (For this reason alone, if for no other, one would think Jews would avoid using the term "goyim.")

      To suggest that the primal and most important hatred is anti-Semitism is nothing more than self-serving ethnocentrism, giving primary importance to hatred directed against the Jews, over hatred directed towards any other people or group. It implies that the only hatred that deserves condemnation is hatred of the Jews; instead, we hold that hatred or bigotry against any group is equally despicable. That includes, of course, hatred of Arabs.

  • Shmully and guilt
    • "I looked at the link you provided, written by a Chasidic Jew seeking to explain the finer points of his beliefs, and he actually did a good job of pointing out how the true meanings of these beliefs can be easily misunderstood."

      Oh, I have no trouble understanding. That's because I have my own Bible, according to which everyone who is not me has the soul of a satanic earthworm, whereas I have a godly soul. This is prone to misunderstanding, of course, by "others" -- i.e., those who are not me. Naturally, only a serious and highly intelligent scholar, reading the text correctly, can understand that it really means that I am no better or worse than anyone else.

    • Phil, the striking thing about many of these accounts you give us of your encounters with various Jewish audiences is that you so often find them "smart," or "intelligent," or -- as in this case -- "highly intelligent." The question becomes, What would it take for them not to seem intelligent?

      In your story, the great intelligence you impute to your interlocutors is nowhere in evidence, to put it mildly. Consider some of their many statements, as you relate them:

      On why enmity has arisen between Jews and Muslims after 2000 years of harmony:
      "Shmully said that when Esau sold his birthright to Jacob there had been a quarrel. That quarrel was reasserting itself now thousands of years later."
      A tired religious cliché -- repetition of which is evidence of a mediocre intelligence, rather than a "high" intelligence.

      "A young scholar next to me ... [asked] why did I not think that Israel could be struck by a nuclear warhead from Iran soon...."
      Perhaps not such a scholar after all, since by all evidence Iran is nowhere close to being able to produce a nuclear warhead "soon," not to mention the obvious fact that such an attack would be suicidal, in addition to the fact that Iran has not been the aggressor in any war for hundreds of years.

      "Shmully said that I was wrong about the occupation."
      Stupid or lying? The eternal question.

      "That land was bought by Jews. It belonged to us." Clearly misinformed or lying. Hasn't he heard of Benny Morris? But assuming he's just lying, it's not a clever lie. Clearly not the product of any great intelligence.

      "Abraham had bought Hebron to bury Sarah. It’s in the Bible. All of Eretz Israel is the Jews’." I would call this "religious nonsense," but it's even worse. This is about the most primitive argument ever to be made over a land dispute.

      "[Shmully] said that some people were afraid of the idea that Jews have guns now. We didn’t use to have guns. Now we do." Who are these people? White supremacists? Neo-Nazis? Actually, the issue isn't really guns, is it? It's nuclear weapons, white phosphorus, and some of the best weapons American aid can bestow. The very naive image the rabbi evokes is quite silly, given the reality, of which the entire world is well aware.

      "Nothing would change if Jews left the West Bank. We had left Gaza and nothing had changed. There were just rockets." More lies and/or misinformation. What about the siege of Gaza? These are scholars? Such pathetic arguments. You get this kind of thing from Hophmi or eee, OK. But don't call it intelligent.

      "When I spoke of the dispossesson of Palestinians, several members of the group ... said that Palestinians had sold the land. They said that no one was getting pushed off their land." Once again, these are scholars? Can't they come up with better arguments than the mere assertion of utter falsehoods? Pathetic.

      "A big handsome young undergraduate with a shock of dark hair said that I was being narcissistic." Is he an aspiring psychiatrist? It sounds as though he doesn't even know the meaning of the word "narcissistic." Probably a lot more studying will be needed before he can become a certified shrink and can go around labeling people narcissistic a bit more appropriately.

      "Shmully said that if you went around New Haven there were just as stark economic differences between one community and another as there was in Israel and Palestine. Why didn’t I begin my reform efforts in New Haven?" Oh, so the situation in New Haven is as bad as in the occupied territories? Seems we've heard similar variations on this theme before. They're not intended for anyone who is even minimally informed about Palestine; they work best with "low-information" audiences and true believers who wouldn't dare question the official propaganda. But once again, not a sophisticated argument.

      What led you to call this group "highly intelligent"? Stockholm Syndrome? Or is it the doctrinal necessity of believing that Jews are, by nature, highly intelligent?

      It's an interesting story, but your Eliezer group sounds more like an exasperating collection of mediocrities mouthing the usual tired nonsense, rather than a "highly intelligent" group of scholars. You should raise the bar a bit.

  • Israeli celebrity says she enjoyed video of IDF attacking Danish activist because he looked like a Nazi
    • I'm not sure I'm enjoying it. I wish it would just stop.

      When I think about what I would prefer for Israel, I imagine something similar to the one-state solution envisioned by Ali Abunimah, but such a possibility seems so remote as to appear naive even to consider it.

      However ...

      Seventy-five years ago no one would have thought France and Germany could coexist peacefully. Thirty years ago no one would have believed Northern Ireland could have peace. Seemingly intractable problems have actually been solved.

      Obviously, "regime change," as we like to term it in America, is needed in Israel. But the fallacy goes thus: regime change = end of Israel = extermination of the Jews. We must accept the Israeli regime because anything else would amount to "driving the Jews into the sea" -- unfortunate rhetoric, of course, all the more since it more accurately reflects the fate met by Palestinians after 1948 than anything ever likely to happen to Israelis.

      But without a constantly regenerated sense of victimhood, it would be hard to obtain the support of American Jews for Israel's constant military adventures, which, of course, to ordinary American sensibilities, seem horrific. To win support for these large-scale atrocities dressed up as self-defense, a high dose of propaganda is required. Enter the compliant American media ...

      The end game? Israel may indeed follow the Soviet Union down the path of dissolution, but it could take another fifty years or so. Forces are massively aligned against change. True, change can often take a catastrophic turn, quickly and before anyone would expect it. Still, it does seem that Israel is more likely to expel all the Palestinians from their lands well before the Israeli regime suffers any real "existential" crisis.

      Maybe I'm just being pessimistic.

    • "How is that outrageous?"

      If you have to ask, you clearly have no humanitarian sympathies whatsoever.

  • Gutless Leon Wieseltier
    • Phil, could you stop using "goyim," or at least put it in quotes? It sounds to me as "kike" would to you. Seriously. You can justify it all you want, but it is pejorative.

  • Wall Street firm slammed the door on young Warren Buffett for religious reasons
  • Walt and Mearsheimer don't think Israel will attack Iran, and neither will we
    • I've got to hand it to Walt and Mearsheimer. I can't help but agree with them. I've been thinking almost exactly along the same lines for quite a while.

      In fact, it has seemed to me for quite some time that I should just issue a challenge for people on this site to give me odds that there would be a war against Iran within the next year (careful, odds are usually against). I figured, with all the comments I've been reading lately, that I'd get odds of at least 20 to 1 for. I'd bet against and make a killing (so to speak).

  • Why young Palestinians chant the word 'thawra'
    • We ourselves have a "thawra" to fight right here and now. None of our other demands will be met unless we can first come to grips with our fight against the corporatist Wall Street machine.

    • "Indeed, Phil lives in the comfort of the privileged American Jew. ... I honestly don’t think Phil, as morally advanced and brave as he is, can bring himself to accept how deeply corrupt the spirits of the majority of self-identified Jews in this country is."

      I wouldn't indict Phil on this count. It is probably true that he lives "in the comfort of the privileged American Jew," but he does more to examine the nature of Jewishness, the relationship of Jews to the non-Jewish world, and the relationship of Jews (in both America and Israel) to the Palestinians, whom Israel has so viciously dispossessed, than any other (major) Jewish commentator I can think of.

      Does he have his own biases? In other words, is he human? Obviously, yes. Are there any other criticisms of him I can think of? Of course, but they aren't relevant to this discussion.

    • Thank G-d for Mooser. He's still here. I was at the point of despair.

  • A lull on this site
    • Thanks for the heads up, Phil, but you and Adam have provided such a wealth of material in the last couple of weeks that most of us will probably still be looking over the "previous editions."

  • Jabara and Ross thrill a drizzly Brooklyn crowd
    • "I am guessing he has elsewhere expanded on this beauty by pointing out that Israel is based on the forever will be enemies of Jews beliefs in zionism. So there will always be a enemy, always another one up next."

      Yes, exactly. This is the essence of Zionism and, to a very disconcerting extent, the essence of much of Jewish identity: there is always an enemy. The fact that there are no more enemies of Jews than there are of other minorities escapes examination. What about African-Americans? What about Muslims? What about Hispanics? The idea that that Jews are the object of greater numbers of hate crimes -- pseudo-statistics from the ADL notwithstanding -- is ludicrous. By the way, what if we were to speak of hatred of (non-Jewish) white minorities? Such hatred is by no means dead.

      Let's face it: racism and bigotry abound. It's a sad fact.

      In America, Jews are hardly the only targets, or even the most significant ones. They're only the most significant targets in their own mythology.

      Bigotry and racism are horrible. We need to fight the most significant forms of racism and bigotry in the U.S. and the West in general: islamophobia, anti-African racism, anti-Hispanic racism, and general anti-brown racism. These are the kinds of racism we see in U.S. society today. Anti-Semitism exists, of course, but it is so much less significant than most of these other forms of hate that corrode the American body politic today.

      Excuse me for stating the obvious. That's my specialty.

  • Factchecking Marty Peretz
    • Slight correction: transcendentalism was personified especially by Emerson, not Hawthorne, who, although he lived for a time in a transcendentalist community, was not one of the exponents of transcendentalism.

  • Video: Atlanta Jewish Times publisher's tearful anti-apology
    • On the one hand, one is tempted to say, "And the coveted Idiot of the Year Award goes to ... ANDREW ADLER !!! Let's have a big round of applause for our Idiot of the Year, ANDREW ADLER!!!"

      Yet, it is obvious that Zionist and pro-Israel discourse in this country so routinely goes to such extremes, with absolute impunity, that it has known almost no boundaries. But this idiot of the year, Andrew Adler, managed to blunder into one of the very few remaining.

      And since there are almost no boundaries and even the most extremist pro-Israel propaganda can typically be printed with impunity, there's little or nothing to restrain fools such as Adler.

  • 'Washington Post' piece mocks lefties who criticize Israel
    • Phil, do you actually call this satire? I read the article. Here is a (semi-) close reading:

      [TITLE] My son got into Eton and I can’t tell my big fat liberal friends

      "I tell you this not to brag." She's saying she doesn't want to brag, which means she is bragging.
      "I’m under the impression that most Americans don’t really know what Eton is...." meaning, those hillbillies in the Ozarks and the Appalachians haven't heard of Eton, and maybe another 40 percent or more of Americans haven't heard of Eton, but of course, everyone who would ever conceivably read this article has heard of Eton, so I'm safe in assuming everyone reading this article will envy me.
      "Or if they do know what it is, they don't really care." Eton is of no significance to some people. Lord knows who such people could be, but I won't trouble myself with such trivialities.
      "I tell you this only because I can’t tell anyone over here in England, where I live." Clearly a lie. Excuse me. I lived in Europe most of my adult life. I know England well. Her statement is absurd -- which means it's a boast, pure and simple.
      "Because if you hang out in the neo-Socialist circles in which I wander, the only thing worse than telling your friends that your kid just got into Eton ... "
      would be just about anything at all, since probably a fair number of left-wing parents have sons in Eton. And what does "neo-Socialist" mean? If you're "neo-Socialist," you're probably not socialist in any traditional way, so why should a high school your son got into but you can't afford (see end of article) make any difference anyway?

      [What might be worse] "... might be telling them that you don’t outright hate the Israeli government." OK, "hate" is a strong word, but I can imagine it being used in this context in the circles she describes. But saying outright that you "don't hate" the Israeli government actually implies support, which is problematic, naturally, on the left.
      "(I know this because I’ve done that, too.)" The question is why she is hanging out, as she says, with people on the left when she clearly doesn't find much in common with them politically. The obvious answer? They're cool, and she enjoys meeting the kinds of people she meets through them. She just has to be careful not to admit that she's a Zionist, because then that leads to uncomfortable conversations ...
      Honestly, I could go on, but the rest of it is really embarrassing boasting about her son going to Eton, as if it were the only school of its kind (what about Harrow?). She does mention Harrow at the very end of the article, almost as an afterthought.
      What would make this a satire? In my opinion, nothing. Don't forget, satire is essentially realistic (even when grotesque), and it focuses on essential human foibles. What are the foibles in this piece? Her own pride about her son? Obviously not. Her comments are nothing more than the most transparent boasting. She tops it all off with her poor-mouthing about not being able to afford Eton, in order to appear to be sufficiently "proletarian," or at the very least, not so terribly "bourgeois" that she couldn't reasonably be hanging out with the "neo-socialists."
      A piece so dripping with self-congratulation can hardly be considered satire.

  • Today in Pittsburgh, Jesse Lieberfeld, 17, will deliver a hammer blow to American Jewish support for Israel
    • "That they chose to use the one opportunity that young Black people might have to shine, to stand out in their community, to witness pride in 'brainy BLACK young people,' strikes me as insensitive in the extreme."

      Yes, it is, in a sense, insensitive, but it isn't pointless. One could say that the choice of Jesse Lieberfeld's essay on Martin Luther King Day, appropriate as it may have been, actually appropriated a crucial element of African American culture for Jewish cultural purposes. And yet, on the other hand, the point that Jesse Lieberfeld makes becomes especially pointed on Martin Luther King Day. After all, would whites be excluded from the meaning of Martin Luther King's message? Of course not! King's ideal was one of racial harmony in a world free of discrimination and oppression. These words seem so distant now because the 1960s are so distant.

      In essence, there are competing, but not incompatible, messages here. Yes, Black people in Pittsburgh need a boost. But the idea of Richard Land accepting an award on the day of Yom Kippur is simply not analogous. First, it would be a mere coincidence, in the sense that many unrelated things happen on Yom Kippur. Second, Yom Kippur is a Jewish holy day, not the universalist holiday that Martin Luther King Day is. In fact, this universalism is a defining part of Martin Luther King Day. "I have a dream!"

      Ironically, and perhaps especially appropriately, Jesse Lieberfeld's message takes its inspiration from this universalism and therefore most completely finds its voice on Martin Luther King Day.

      Most importantly, Jesse's repudiation of the senseless killing of others -- the Palestinians -- can give us all hope in the ultimate possibility of granting rights and recognition to a people too long dispossessed and ground under the boot of oppression.

  • 'NYT' Travel section features visit to another planet
    • "He is (or pretends to be) ignorant, on purpose. A travel writer, he is not and refuses to be a historian. Imagine him writing about Turkey, Rome — no history! ... And someone must have explained to him that the West Bank was on the opposite side of the wall."

      Exactly, Pabelmont. Unfortunately, this article is symptomatic of a lot of what we find in the Times these days: minimally informed pseudo-journalism. Maybe I shouldn't be so harsh because it's "just" a travel article? Well, the Times has seriously degenerated in recent years -- perhaps going back well over a decade. Israel/Palestine is the issue we deal with here, so the Times' misinformation on this issue is especially obvious to commenters here. But sad to say, the Times blows it on many different topics it reports on these days.

      And the approach to journalism is just as you say: "someone must have explained to him that the West Bank was on the opposite side of the wall." No need to check.

      It amuses me when I see commercials for the Times on TV, with some idiot in a jacket and tie saying, "The best journalists in the world work for the Times, and ... there's no debating that." He has such a silly look on his face. I imagine him immediately sticking his fingers in his ears and saying, "La la la la la la la!"

  • Bombshell: Israeli intelligence posed as CIA to recruit terror group for covert war on Iran
    • The real question, in my opinion, is this: how much is too much? At what point does the U.S. say no to Israel?

      My tentative answer, for the moment, is that the U.S. will not go to war against Iran for Israel. Now, I know that the Paul supporters will instantly call me naive, ignorant, or stupid, but I'm familiar with this ad hominem and couldn't care less about silly name calling. My view is that the U.S. will not go to war with Iran because the U.S. military knows (and will communicate its point of view to the president) that the U.S. military will have great difficulty making war against Iran, both on the ground and in the Strait of Hormuz. No one will call it a "cake walk."

      The U.S. will not do a kamikaze mission for Israel.

      And if you think the contrary about Obama, you would have to imagine that war would begin within the next 10 months. After the election, it no longer matters what Netanyahu wants if Obama is still president. So you have to imagine that Obama will make war on Iran before November. And if you think about it further, in order to avoid electoral chaos, he would really have to think that he needs to make war on Iran at least a couple of months before November, in order to clarify his message and rally the country behind such an adventure; otherwise, he runs the risk that everyone would be so freaked out that they would automatically vote for his opponent. So let's face it: Obama actually has about 8 months to prepare for and launch war on Iran.

      Not that it couldn't be done. But did you hear Panetta's most recent remarks? They don't seem to indicate a war in the offing.

      So a war on Iran would have to come from a Republican president? And that's why you support Ron Paul? Bravo! Keep supporting him, and go all the way! Urge him to run as a third-party candidate! That will definitely ensure that no U.S. war against Iran will ever occur.

      OK, so let's assume for the moment that there will be no war against Iran. At what other point would the U.S. say no to Israel? This is the ultimate question, now that we've put the war issue aside. First, does the question make a case for Zionist Occupied Government? Is the question even relevant? Frankly, I don't think so. "Zionist Occupied Government" is, after all, a metaphor, used for inflammatory and propagandistic purposes (true anti-Semitism). Zionist influenced government is the government we actually have.

      The U.S. will NOT say no to Israel with respect to aid. This much seems clear. George H. W. Bush threatened to cut off aid but never did. No one since has even dared to make such a threat.

      Really, I have no answer to the question. It seems to me that the U.S. will do whatever Israel wants short of making war on Iran. I'm interested in hearing anyone else's answer.

  • Ron Paul's antiwar position is simpleminded
    • "I am indeed a bit jaundiced when it comes to certain Jewish “intellectuals’ (Bernard Strauss Levy comes to mind). "

      I think you mean Bernard-Henri Levy, don't you?

  • Ron Paul challenges liberals on love of 'big finance' and 'big-ass wars'
  • Ron Paul and the left
    • I usually disagree with most of what Richard Witty writes, but your comments, Shingo, are ad hominem. Worse, your ad hominem attacks are typically ironic; for example, before you call someone ignorant, you should at least make sure to spell the word correctly.

      You automatically insult anyone who dares criticize Ron Paul. Unfortunately, many of the criticisms are only too apt. Granted, Paul's positions against war, interventionism, and blind support for Israel are good. But why should we want a racist president of the U.S. all the while that we decry racist governments in Israel?

      Paul supporters trust the man implicitly, but he seems to be attempting to appear reasonable when addressing the mainstream media, while sending explicitly extremist and racist messages to core followers.

      I can't dismiss the charges of racism so casually as many here do. Paul supporters' criticisms of Obama, the Democrats, and the other Republicans are, mostly, valid points; they do not, however, legitimize Paul, whose many other objectionable positions -- even if he is not actually racist -- make him an unacceptable candidate, in my view: for example, his rejection of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, federal student loans, and so on.

      If he is not racist, however, it is hard to explain the vast quantity of racist commentary appearing in his newsletter, not to mention the mailing that bore his signature. And the newsletter was NOT like a blog; controlling commentary on a blog is difficult, whereas controlling a newsletter that bears your name is a matter of mere editorial oversight.

      And so what if the newsletter was published twenty years ago? The so-called disavowal comes a bit too late to make it believable. It seems merely an attempt to appear reasonable to the public.

  • The Ron Paul moment-- bad and good
    • Ron Paul opposes Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. He voted to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. He supported an amendment to the Constitution to allow school prayer, although he considers himself a constitutionalist. He has proposed ending the student loan program. On this last point, he said,

      Q: We are looking at student loan debt that is near $1 trillion. How would you make college more affordable?
      PAUL: Well, I think you proved that the policy of student loans is a total failure. I mean, a trillion dollars of debt? And what have they gotten? A poorer education and costs that have skyrocketed because of inflation, and they don't have jobs. There's nothing more dramatically failing than that program. There's no authority in the Constitution for the federal government to be dealing with education. We should get rid of the loan programs. We should get rid of the Department of Education and give tax credits, if you have to, to help people.
      Q: But how do they pay for it? How do they now pay for college?
      PAUL: The way you pay for cellphones and computers. You have the marketplace there. There's competition. Quality goes up. The price goes down.
      Source: 2011 CNBC GOP Primary debate in Rochester MI , Nov 9, 2011

      Ron Paul believes that the magic of an unregulated market will cure all that ails us. Too bad for the least fortunate among us if the cure doesn't take effect in their lifetimes.

      He's definitely the candidate who most vehemently opposes war and interventionism. For that, bravo. But too many of his other positions are extreme Ayn Randian market fetishism.

  • Ron Paul's stunning antiwar performance: Iran threat recalls Iraq, 'a useless war that killed 1 million Iraqis' and 8000 Americans
    • Also, you say,

      "here is the man who predicted the housing bubble 8 years ago ..."

      You can't predict something that has already occurred. The housing bubble was well underway 8 years ago.

      Maybe you mean he predicted that the bubble would burst? Many economists worried about that, including Krugman. The person most openly pessimistic about a housing crash and resulting crisis was Nouriel Roubini. The debate, in the years before the crisis, was whether there would be a "hard landing" or a "soft landing." Obviously, we got the hard landing -- but the whole question was openly debated well before the bubble burst.

      If Schiff was predicting a crash 8 years ago, I'd be curious to see a link.

    • Oh, I had. I looked into Ron Paul fairly seriously when he first became big news. I don't share your libertarian capitalist politics, so his opposition to crony capitalism hardly overcomes my other objections to him. Consider, for example, his opposition to FEMA and his comments about the hurricane in Galveston, Texas, in 1900:

      The reality of that disaster, which Paul breezily ignores, is that bodies were piled so high that the government paid volunteers in whiskey to get the corpses buried. It was a horrendously dangerous situation -- but to hear Ron Paul tell it, hurricanes were never any real problem. No FEMA help was needed at all.

      I guess under a Ron Paul administration the government would keep a large stock of whiskey on hand to deal with any natural disasters that FEMA would otherwise have had the responsibility to handle.

      Oh, and you're putting Peter Schiff, the CEO of a brokerage, up against Paul Krugman? It's not as if the link you gave provided any substantive refutation. By the way, Euro Pacific Capital, his firm, is betting heavily on a crash of the dollar. That seems to reflect what passes for clever insight these days. However, it's the euro that appears to be on thin ice these days. And note that Schiff says that we need to fix the deficit now because it will only be more difficult later -- although interest rates are at historic lows (negative real rates) and trending lower.

      OK, I don't want to hijack the thread with a discussion of economics, but seriously, the CEO of a brokerage? To rebut Paul Krugman?

    • That said, I agree with Phil that Ron Paul's comments on Iran, Iraq, and U.S. war policy in general are excellent and need to be said. No one else is saying what Paul has been saying for years now. These positions explain why so many progressives flocked to Paul several years ago. Most of them hadn't examined his other positions.

    • "Thanks for that completely ludicrous summation of Paul StopAipac."

      All the Paulist priests on this site should read this column by a Paulist of a different persuasion--Paul Krugman:

    • Capitalism is not dead at all. Late-stage capitalism is capitalism nonetheless. The fact that it tends to manifest itself under authoritarian and even fascistic state cover does not negate its capitalist nature. Nor does the fact that capital has become increasingly concentrated in the hands of large transnational corporations and ultra-rich finance capitalists.

      Nor does the existence of the EU negate the existence of capitalism within EU borders. The EU bureaucrats represent capitalist interests; the fact that the EU manages its interests badly makes no difference. Nothing guarantees that capitalist managers will make perfect decisions. Actually, it's the degenerate state of late-stage capitalism that tends to multiply the weaknesses of the system, which are often compensated for by increasing authoritarianism. We see perfect examples of this tendency in the current economic crisis and the extreme police repression of protestors, most of whom are the victims of the crisis.

  • Israel isn't good for the Jews anymore
    • A propos of reacting to Israeli crimes, Noam Chomsky is usually panned on this site -- mostly, if I'm not mistaken, for his rejection of the Walt and Mearsheimer thesis of AIPAC's role in U.S. policy in the Middle East. I find Walt and Mearsheimer's view more persuasive, but I think Chomsky deserves credit as one of those who condemned Israeli actions at a time when doing so was considered even worse than beyond the pale. He certainly came well before Finkelstein, whom I also admire.

      Phil, your comments about the direction of the Jewish community in America may be a bit ahead of the times. I would like to think you are right but find little confirmation of your points outside of the few -- albeit surprising -- positions taken by otherwise notable Zionists such as Jeffrey Goldberg. Maybe people are keeping their cards close to the vest?

      In any case, I agree that this post is beautiful and inspiring. This is the Jewish spirit we admire--the liberal, universalist, morally focused vision of the world that many Jews have made it their mission to achieve -- a mission that has been stunningly betrayed by the actions of the neocolonialist state of Israel, with its permanent occupation and apartheid regime that dare not speak its name.

    • Of course, American Jews have traditionally been described as liberal because of their majority Democratic Party affiliation--and also because of their majority support (as evidenced by polls) for positions traditionally considered to be liberal: abortion, women's rights, gay rights, and so on.

      However, many prominent American Jews aren't even pretending to be part of this game. I'm thinking of people such as David Brooks, David Horowitz, Bill Kristol, Doug Feith, Ari Fleischer, Richard Perle, etc. Of course, you say, they're neocons. Well, almost all of them are, and they're certainly not liberal.

      But what of the Democrats? You raise an excellent point, Dan. In the U.S., we think of the Democrats as liberal because they stand in opposition, so to speak, to the Republicans. Or used to, anyway. But I'd say it's more accurate to describe the Democrats as a party made up mostly of conservatives. They're certainly not actively seeking any real reforms. They're mostly trying to defend the established order. This was liberal when FDR or Kennedy was president. Not now. And certainly, with Obama's recent actions, it's debatable whether even the word "conservative" applies to supporters of such policies.

      As for the Republicans, well, let's not use any specific labels, but let's just say that they're significantly to the right of what would traditionally have been called conservative.

      So what about the Jews? Maybe they're not as liberal these days as they'd like to think they are. The American political spectrum is so skewed to the right in general, that any discussion of the Left in this country tends to make people who are not American just laugh.

  • 'It’s time to stop the bully': Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn on Occupy Wall Street, the Israel lobby and the New York Times
    • Mooser--probably the most amazing commenter on this site. (Sorry if I wasn't supposed to say that. I don't mean to destroy your carefully crafted image as the village idiot.)

      Oh, but there I go. Can't compliment anyone without insulting everyone. I guess that reveals a bit too much.

  • Revival of Geneva Initiative features divisive figure: Bernard-Henri Levy
    • That's hilarious, but not surprising. The man is pure pretentiousness.

    • Bernard-Henri Levy is the quintessential pseudo-intellectual. Calling him a philosopher is giving him WAY too much credit. I don't dispute the fact that he was trained, so to speak, in that discipline, but he has written NOTHING that breaks any ground in philosophy; moreover, almost all of his work is nothing but fifth-rate political commentary. Even calling it political philosophy is WAY too generous. He is no better than the average U.S. pundit. I would even go so far as to say that David Brooks, with his B.A. in history, has produced more intelligent and better researched commentary. Levy is known for his error-ridden political tracts.

      Also, I may be mistaken, but I'm not really sure his influence extends very far. Levy is known for "parachuting" into border areas far from war zones for photo ops in order to get credit for having been to dangerous places.

  • So you want to be a neoconservative? C'est facile!
    • Wow. That Kagan is so damn SMART. All those foreign words! Not that he had to spell them right or even use them correctly, mind you. That job probably fell to his editor.

      Of course, it's handy to keep a copy of the Oxford Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases around, or some other such reference.

      But anyone can use transliterated ancient Greek in their writing, coughing up such obscurities as thumos in their printed texts. The real trick is to use Greek words in speaking--in the ancient Greek script, with accents, breathings, and all the rest. It's a feat not just anyone can pull off.

      Doing that makes you a neocon's neocon, the smartest of the smart.

  • At Slate, casual racism toward Palestinians (their 'violent, vengeful' culture) and some smart talk about Jews
    • Clearly, the argument that Palestinians have a culture of violence serves to distract from the obviously disproportionate level of Israeli violence against Palestinians. It's an argument that backfires with anyone who has followed the conflict; it obviously is aimed at a less informed audience, specifically (though not exclusively) in America. In this sense, it serves a racist agenda, and although it may not be strictly racist (as Sin Nombre observes above), it is, in effect, racist propaganda.

    • Even given the general comment that observations made about culture are not racist per se, we can find cultural observations that clearly serve a racist agenda. This remark, of course, would seem to contradict the remark I made just above, and I'd say it becomes a fine distinction at a certain point -- and one that is highly subjective. Academically, many cultural observations, although highly negative, are not racist per se. On the other hand, we can consider the history of a variety of supposedly academic disciplines that served a blatantly racist agenda. Eugenics immediately comes to mind.

      Certainly, the views held by many academics of previous eras on the nature of "the savage" and nonwhite peoples display tremendous inherent racism. The intellectual underpinning of these views was fairly thin, of course. So viewed within a historical perspective, we should always be a little suspicious of negative judgments of other cultures, even when these judgments develop from a fairly "emic" process of research.

      I think we are on safer ground when we denounce political orientations, such as Zionism, conservatism, etc.

    • In general, ethnographers, sociologists, and other social scientists make a variety of observations and conclusions about various cultures that, whether right or wrong, may be construed by many as negative comments about those cultures. Such views might even be considered racist by people outside the field. Stating that Jewish culture is violent may be a valid observation given a specific set of data. I haven't seen anything to support such a generalization about American Jews, but Israeli Jews do seem to have quite a violent culture--even as apart from the actions of their government.

      Certain subgroups of American Jews may have quite a violent culture. For example, Jewish friend of mine commented that openly criticizing the Orthodox Jews in his area of New Jersey could lead to attacks on his house.

      In any case, making such observations with respect to culture is by no means racist although they are often denounced as such. However, any controversial observations about the culture of a given group are problematic and liable to be denounced as racist; this is probably the only valid point that can be made by those who cry "political correctness," which is otherwise simply a rightwing bogeyman.

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