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I'm retired after teaching philosophy for some decades. I am a secular Christian, very interested in biblical scholarship, with decent Greek but must learn some Hebrew. Rather obsessed with ancient multiculturalism and belief that Palestine was always multicultural and multiracial, while Jewish cultural influence in the wider ancient world was greater than is supposed.

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  • Ocasio-Cortez hedges criticisms of Israel-- 'I may not use the right words'
  • After long opposing divestment, Episcopal Church acts to end complicity 'in injustice in Holy Land'
    • It will be a long time before we in the Church of England catch up with our American spiritual cousins

  • Hasbara is dead
    • Corbyn decided from the beginning of his leadership not to give priority to the Palestine issue and has gone along with the anti-anti-Semitism campaign. There may have been some unpleasant abuse of Jewish people which was properly censured but some of the campaign has been excessive. I’m not a great Ken Livingstone admirer but I think he’s been unfairly crushed, not being anti-Semitic even under the famous ‘international definition’. Years ago I wrote to a newspaper defending KL against Oliver Kamm, a journalist (happening to be Jewish) campaigning against him. Kamm has recently to his credit expressed dismay at the criminal conviction of Alison Chabloz which seems to bring ‘giving offence’ (in respect of holocaust denial) unequivocally into the purview of our laws.

  • Speaker at Israeli gov't conference promotes genocide against Arabs and non-Jews
    • He’s saying that it’s no longer necessary to kill ‘Arabs’ literally because an equivalent result can be obtained by ‘killing’ their political influence through settlement building. There’s moderation for you. It is important to recognise that ‘Arabs in mutuality’, preferably grateful ‘Arabs’, have always been part of the Zionist programme from the days of Altneuland. It’s not genicidal in the ‘Hitler’ mode, it’s a tender mercy with that cruel element.

  • The Gaza blockade is illegal-- and so is the use of force to maintain it
    • The proposition that ‘Israel is a Jewish state’ can enter the conversation with many different intended impacts, not always - and perhaps quite rarely - simply descriptive. The most important difference, though by no means the only one, is between drawing attention to certain facts about the relationship of the Israeli state to people who are Jewish and conveying a value judgement about that relationship. As one might say that ‘London is an English city’ without thought of EU immigrants or with much thought about them and what happens to Englishness in their presence. This difference can be manifested by surrounding words or by the speaker’s tone and manner of utterance.

    • There seem to be two main types of refugee, those in danger at home but much attracted to another place, like many of the Central Americans drawing Trunp’s ire. To them return, immediate or even medium term, is a denial of their hopes. Then there are refugees who have been excluded and are angry. To them return is, at least at first, a central objective. Their exclusion was justified or not. It is very hard to think of any action or status which would in fact justify exclusion from wherever one was a legitimate permanent resident with no citizenship elsewhere.
      If refugees were excluded without justification then it seems impossible to think of them without a right of return, otherwise there is no thought of negating a wrong done, which can be nothing but a further wrong, surely. You may say that most rights can be renounced in some circumstances, perhaps for compensation. But to say that is to accept that the right exists. The idea of ‘unjustly excluded’ and ‘having a right of return’ seem morally inseparable to me.

    • It isn’t an international border but an internal perimeter used to inflict a punitive blockade, contrary to the duty to exercise sovereign power for the general good of those subject to it and contrary to the duty to act with moral discrimination, not to inflict persistently any form of harm on all of a group regardless of what individuals have done. How else can sovereign power be conceived? Even international borders are supposed to offer a reasonable freedom to cross and to provide for orderly means of doing so. They are not supposed to be means of imprisonment, which results legitimately only from other legal processes. They are not supposed to be expressions of hostility to all on the other side, something which erodes the distinction between peace and war.

  • Jewish allies must understand that solidarity entails a loss of privilege
    • See S. Weitzman, The Origin of the Jews, for a detailed and up to date, though rather inconclusive, presentation of the genetic and other considerations. I think it quite likely that X and Y, both being Jewish, have a bit more in common genetically with each other than with me but I think it certain that what we do have in common is far more than what they have and I don’t. What degree of ‘not in common’ amounts to genetic distinctiveness and is that degree determined by scientific criteria rather than ideological ones? I wish to affirm my common humanity with people who are Jewish. Is there any scientific reason why I shouldn’t?

    • Page: 44
    • We have to recognise that Zionism, originally a rather eccentric idea, went through a process of normalisation and is now thoroughly normal in the West. It is we who are out of the mainstream round here. People like Gold are trying to normalise not Z but anti-Z within the loyally Jewish community. But it is true that things may get a bit paradoxical for her.

    • I’ve been a bit critical of those who want boycotts but not the cost of boycotts. However, I think that the effort to make the case in the West for Palestinian rights is highly dependent on Jewish participation, without which the accusation of anti-Semitism that already troubles us so much would have almost overwhelming force in the public arena. The Jewish people who support Palestinian rights need their own bulwarks against that accusation, of which clinging to Jewish culture in its current and powerful form is one. But how far from at least cultural Z can they then stand?

  • Wah!!! Dershowitz shunned on Martha's Vineyard!
    • For us it must be significant that these leading lights of high society did not boycott D until he seemed to be defending Trump. They didn’t react that way when he was defending Zionism in its questionable theory and undeniably harsh practice.

  • US Jewish leader expresses compassion for refugees at US border-- and contempt for Palestinian refugees
    • There’s a difference between refugees seeking a new status, like asylum seekers, and refugees seeking their old or former status, like those demanding a right of return. If the Palestinians had responded to Israeli aggression by scattering around the world, demaniding refuge and a path to local citizenship wherever they arrived, from Norway to Peru, I rather think that Israel and its sympathetisers would be supporting them vociferously. ‘Just because they had no right to be in Palestine they do not deserve continuing suffering and exclusion: if Peru won’t offer new status and citizenship to them, thay’s racism!’ we would hear. If the Central Americans now snoyimg Trump were claiming their old status and a right of return permitting them to outvote the supporters of the current regime in Honduras Trump souls be right behind them, thunderously proclaiming that it was shocking that so many people should have been driven out for political reasons and that Honduran democracy was a sham.

  • Slouching toward Gilead (or how Zionism collapses into anti-feminism)
    • I’m not sure I’d use the term ‘crybaby’ for a storming, killing regional superpower violent in word and deed, never seriously called to account. The fickle conscience of the West forgets atrocities pretty quickly.

  • Liberal Zionists say that Israel and the U.S. are in the same struggle against rightwing forces
    • I think he might have a flourishing career in the Sweden of today. The seemingly awful Sweden Democrats had 28% in the last opinion poll I saw, with the Social Democrats, who created the prosperous and liberal Sweden that we thought we knew, fully 6 points behind.

  • Israeli activists respond to Palestinian call, hang photos of fallen protesters along Gaza fence
    • To me ‘activist’ currently means one who devotes a lot of time and effort, in a way which draws some attention, to a cause and ‘advocate’ one who raises arguments and whose voice is heard, at least a little. So I’d think of advocacy, at least if continued, as a form of activism. Going on demonstrations and donating money would be activism, so would displaying posters, particularly when there was personal risk, but not exactly advocacy unless one is drawn into argument. If you called me an activist in or an advocate for a good cause I’d be quite honoured.

  • The pathetic caving of Nickolay Mladenov
    • Not sure ir’s all that pathetic. The Jerusalem Post (June 26) has a report of a Netanyahu-Mladenov conversation ‘talking Gaza’ and the emphasis was not on angry exchanges or accusations of anti-Semitism but on a proposal to increase Gaza’s commerce by means of a special link to Cyprus - which may or may not make a practical difference. But I have the impression that Mladenov has drawn a little blood and that the Israelis are being forced to consider some at least minor concessions. That is not a triumph of justice or an adequate response to an awful situation - but as far as it goes, remembering that M has a diplomatic mission and has to produce some ‘balance’ in his rhetoric he may have delivered a small push in the right direction. He didn’t seem to apologise or withdraw or to say that he might have seen no problem in the first place had Israel only explained things - the Goldstone manoeuvre.

  • NY insurgent who said 'Dems can't be silent anymore' about Palestine clips AIPAC poodle in primary shocker
    • Maybe you can vote for Cynthia Nixon for Governor of NY? She seems to be another pea from the same rather appealing (though it must have a liberal Z stripe somewhere) pod.
      Meanwhile in the UK Donald McIntyre has an article in today’s Independent about our ever growing closeness to Israel following the Brexit vote. Prince William is doing the rounds in Israel at the moment and visiting poor old Abbas. McI argues that we will withdraw from the anti-settlement terms of the EU-Israel trade deal. If you can strike a better note in NY, please do.

  • Gay Liberation Network declares 'We Stand With Palestine' during Chicago's Gay Pride Parade
    • She seems to be the candidate of JVP. Her friend Cynthia Nixon now has renewed hopes of the Governorship.

  • Dear Isaac Herzog, American intermarriage is a reflection of progress
    • ‘In Praise of Intermarriage’ by Ofri Ilani, Haaretz November 3 2017 is interesting but a little depressing.

  • Democrats are losing their fear of AIPAC and Haim Saban
    • Something is indeed stirring, as the much analysed Pew and Gallup polls on support for Israel showed. But it still looks to me like an extremely uphill struggle for the stirrers, with no significant gains within the political class as yet. In the UK Corbyn is setting very severe limits on critique of Israel from his part of the spectrum.

  • 'Ali is on the grill!' Israeli settlers celebrate burning of Palestinian baby
    • To be opposed to something that many Xs are doing is to be opposed to many Xs in the extension of the term. It is not necessarily to be opposed to Xs in the intension of the term, ie to believe that there is something wrong about being an X. But I suppose that the question ‘Is there something about Xs that makes them do this?’ Is likely to start nagging. The most quietening answer is that X culture has taken an inauthentic form from which it can well redeem itself.
      I am not sure about the rationality of judges.

    • The propositions that there was once s sovereign state corresponding exactly to our Palestine and that there was once a sovereign state including our Palestine are different, but of equal relevance.
      I tend to think that the Kingdom of Palestine was founded about 1150:BCE, covering the southern provinces of the old Hittite Empire and expanding southwards at some expense to Egypt. This was before the likeliest dates for the Kingdom of David and Solomon, whose name we do not know. The name of Palestine constantly reasserted itself, presumably because it was constantly in common use, as various political experiments, notability the Omrid Kingdom, came, flourished and failed.

    • It would be great if some of those who profess Z so strongly turned out to be merely faking it.

    • It may be that the Palestinians consider that they are traditionally and should now be part of a larger sovereign unit going beyond Palestine. That would be just as legitimate as wishing to be themselves alone. The normal human right is surely to be an enfranchised citizen of a sovereign state, large or small, very localised or with many provinces.

  • Roger Waters plays Munich despite mayor's effort to stop concert over his support for BDS
    • I see that Mr. Waters will perform in the Circus Maximus shortly. A joint statement with the Pope?

  • Mr. Lansman comes to Tel Aviv: Jeremy Corbyn's senior ally wants to restrict free speech on Israel
    • I suppose that it is possible to be a socialist, one who believes in public control of the means of production, and a nationalist who has a restrictive view of who qualifies as a member of the public for that purpose.

  • Organizer of the Great March of Return says protests in Gaza 'must go on'
    • But let these Irish sports personalities beware! Look what happened to Argentina - a mere draw against Iceland and a penalty messed up by Messi. Those who boycott Israel may, it seems, lose the support of the hand of God.

    • I too very much question it, Annie, but I think that it’s a short term demand that is just within the bounds of practicality. And it seems to me to be the logical response when people tell us that the Palestinians have a better way, if they would only choose. What is it? If not the present situation for ever, then what? If there is an answer only from private individuals or unofficial groups it’s just hot air. We need to hear from Israel officially.

    • Civilisation has existed continuously in all those places. They have changed their religion since ancient times, though some elements of their ancient culture, competing in antiquity with the antiquities of the Jews, are still recognisably there. Jewish culture too has changed from its ancient form because it has become quite open to atheism. Cultures survive to some extent by changing.

    • If there does exist a way for Palestinians to live peaceably with Israel with reasonable mutual benefit and all that it would be good to have that way outlined so that reasonable people can start to work towards it. So Israel should state for all to see what it thinks a fair and final situation would look like. If that statement were not to propose anything that looked the least bit fair or mutually beneficial then world opinion might finally begin to press for some change. If it were to hold out something worth having then who knows what might be agreed. If there continues to be no proposal at all or more of the nonsense of negotiations without agenda then there is no reason for the Palestinians to expect anything more than the status quo indefinitely. Can anyone be expected to learn to live with that?

    • I found the remarks of Ms.Gdaniec - who is a senior member of the Cambridgeshire archaeology service - rather odd, since according to the reports of this discovery the bodies come from the late Roman or early ‘Saxon’ period. So they reflect conditions at a time when the prosperity and rule of law that had, up to a debatable point of course, come with imperial rule were being replaced with conditions dominated by mercenary bands, factional and religious conflict and lack of any recognised legitimate authority. The consequences of the fall of empires can be terrible.

  • If I had to live in Israel again, 'it would actually drive me insane' -- Shaul Magid
  • 'Let them eat candy' – Israel’s ideological war against incendiary kites from Gaza
    • A. Roberts, ‘Resistance to Military Occupation: an Enduring Problem’ (Cambridge Core, 2017) talks of the complexities and makes much reference to Palestine. It seems that international law makes little distinction between occupation in good faith, ie manifestly temporary, protecting the occupied people against further depredations etc., and one that lacks these qualities and is a mask for conquest - that distinction would be important for me.

  • Israeli lawmaker: 'Jewish race is the greatest human capital, the smartest'
    • You could count on Einstein to make peace and goodwill remarks but he was full of ambivalence, perhaps of worse. His remark to Lilienthal has to be set beside his letter to Nehru in June 47 where he gives a very string impression of being a Zionist. This was a very high profile political intervention.

    • He wasn’t speaking with a wry, self-deprecating smile. I suppose?

  • Imagine the KKK doing a biopic of MLK and you get... 'Fauda'
    • MLK was discreet in ME matters but when it came to the point he always told the Zionists what they wanted to hear. His correspondence around the 1967 New Politics Conference shows this, though I think it has a strained and embarrassed tone. Lenni Brenner has written interestingly about the matter and he is convinced that K was converging with the anti-Z Carmichael. But I’m not sure. Almost all the members of K’s inner circle, Parks, Rustin, Belafonte, many more, signed the rather awful advertisement/manifesto published in the NYT of November 23, 1975 sponsored by Basic, Black Americans Supporting Israel Committee. K was not ignorant of the matter - he wasn’t a naive Americentric and had actually visited Jerusalem when under Jordan’s control and he had Carmichael, with whom he did not wish to break, to remind him of important things.

  • The dangers of conflating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism
    • Much of what I’ve read about I-sectionalism is along the lines of pointing out that people who face different forms of oppression all have something in common and that the difference in form is no reason to withhold solidarity. I don’t really see what else the basic meaning could be. The idea seems to develop in different ways and to encounter quite a few problems, certainly much acrimonious debate.

    • I’d think that there is an idealist form of identity-based intersectionalism (O mi God,, all these long words!) which suggests that there is a clear end-state more or less desired by all oppressed or endangered groups now and expected to be acceptable to all of them when it comes. But there are very great differences of interests and ideologies between all human groups which don’t necessarily vanish with the experience of oppression. I was suggesting that the story of Jewish oppression and Zionism illustrates this point, as does the way in which movements apparently of liberation can split after success, the latest example being South Sudan.
      There’s I-sect of a temporary, instrumental nature against a common danger, as with the anti-fascist alliance of WW2. This may sometimes be the only way to go but it is a bit desperate and may be pregnant with future terrors like the Cold War.
      There’s the I-sect of MLK’s ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’, which was said before the rise of our identity politics. This is true and important but still raises problems - no one can fight every battle.

    • The term ‘finding fault’ often suggests carping, rather petty determination to emphasise what is negative and that is why U-Sargon (not Nevel) introduces it. It is to this comparatively mild critique, addressed face to face to real Jews, not to wildly excessive language against imaginary ‘Jewish’ caricatures (which she does not think or does not say that she is facing) that she objects.
      I don’t see how you can weaken the force of Nevel’s reply by suggesting that she should have introduced a stronger term than ‘fault-finding’ for a form of anti-Jewish language which U-S does not mention: U-S is specifically saying that even the comparatively petty identity-related talk that she does encounter is unacceptable. Nevel is saying that this talk is not anti-Jewish, though it may distress some Jews - it may also come from Jews, of course. It is simply anti-Zionist and Zionism is not her view - Mr. Halevi thinks otherwise - of the essence of being Jewish.

    • I understand Zionism as the belief that people who are Jewish, and they only, have an inherent right, now commonly called birthright, to a share of sovereignty over the Holy Land, others having a share only by the grace and generosity of the true heirs. This belief is very much identity-affirming and rights-denying. It makes rights depend upon - and clearly sometimes lapse because of - considerations of identity, whose criteria relate to ancestry and religion. Which illustrates how the form of intersectionalism which calls for all identity -based causes to be melded into one coherent cause or programme is really a demand for the impossible.

  • 'The Israeli military said,' the New York Times reports
    • I think that an event or campaign in such terrible circumstances calls for organisation with the intention of making it serve a rational purpose, in this case that of weakening the blockade. If Hamas is running Gaza it had a duty to attempt this to whatever extent people, who may think that have nothing to lose, listen to its instructions or advice. Whether the blockade was to any significant extent weakened or further discredited we shall see.

    • A good many Christians are inclined at least to give the Zionists the benefit of any doubt they can muster. The political and religious leadership of the Western world has expressed critical views of the Gaza horrors in muted terms at best. They are not, as far as I can see, being notably chastised by their constituents and followers because of this.

  • Don't expect Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris to be critical of Israel
    • The United States is an ally supporting Israel in almost all the ways a devoted ally might. Israel in return gives mainly support not so much to the United States but to the United States’ political class. We know of and regret the money aspect of this support. But the heart of the matter is a moral idea, the idea that anti-Semitism is the worst thing in the world as far as the world is under human control. This idea is interpreted to mean that validation from authentic Jewish sources is the most credible of guarantees that you are a just and humane person.

  • 'Why Ahed slapped the soldier' --an interview with Bassem Tamimi
    • Annie gives Herodotus’ Greek, so clearly doesn’t think he wrote in English. A translated name, rather than a name equivalent in application, is a rather unusual thing. We put Herodotus’ name into the Roman alphabet, transliterate it, but we do not usually translate it, ie say ‘GiftofHera tells us that some Syrians live in Palestine’. We do not always know the meaning of names, in the sense of the descriptive term which gives rise to it. The beautiful name ‘Palestine’ is of debated meaning - I like to think it means ‘Land of Hearth and Home’, from an equivalent to the Greek hestia = hearth but maybe that’s wishful thinking. There is also debate over what meaning may underlie ‘Canaan’ and indeed ‘Israel’, which I rather think (presumptuously think. maybe) is a theological term deliberately conveying ambiguity = ‘one who struggles for God’/‘one who struggles with God’, corresponding to the story of the ambiguous hero Jacob and indeed to the role of the children of Israel throughout the historical Biblical narratives.
      English did adopt ‘Palestine’ as the name for Palestine for secular purposes, as in the Palestine Exploration Society founded by Queen Victoria, though for many centuries ‘the Holy Land’ has been in use also. But the meaning underlying the name ‘Palestine’, whether or not it is about hearth and home, is certainly not about Israel. The only English translation of ‘Eretz Israel’ is ‘Land of Israel’.

    • Herodotus’ detailed testimony (with Aristotle on the Dead Sea as ‘in Palestine’ backing him up) means that Palestine is the only fully attested pre-Roman name for Palestine, since Canaan was rather vague in application and became increasingly associated with our Lebanon - Beirut was claiming to be Mother in Canaan around 170 BCE. Not that everything Canaanite vanished in short order: Isaiah refers to the language in which he writes as ’of Canaan’. There is almost no pre-Roman authority in any language for Land of Israel. The Bible’s theological view is that there is no land of Israel in the normal sense, only a donation by God made outside the normal rules to Israel, but in the land of Canaan. Palestine was the name that had, by Herodotus’ time, reasserted itself as other names faded away. But it is centuries older than Herodotus, found for instance in the inscription of the Assyrian King Adad-nirari about 800 BCE.

  • The beautiful game: a history of whitewashing international crimes 
    • I wrote cautiously because Higuain’s statement seemed to be the only one at the time I looked that wias unambiguous - good for him - and in prop persona.

    • The idea that the Argentinian team were terrorised is being proclaimed loudly by Israel but it isn’t the whole story since one of the leading players, Gonzalo Higuain, is clearly supporting the decision on BDS-type grounds. He can’t be entirely alone.

  • Literary hero Yossi Klein Halevi says anti-Zionist Jews aren't Jewish
    • The historical existence of Hillel deserves at least as much scepticism as that of Jesus.

  • 'I'm targeted by the Israeli army,' Razan al-Najjar said before she was killed
    • If we had a statement from the Israeli government defining its idea of a fair and final settlement and if it included the sort of statement about the untenability of the status quo which you quote here then the situation would be much clarified and serious negotiations might at last become possible. Not with guaranteed success, but possible. However, one of the respected commentators on these matters, Nathan Thrall, has been arguing that the s quo is much more advantageous to Israel than any alternative so far glimpsed.

  • 'Israel has no choice' -- 'NY Times' columnists largely line up behind Gaza massacre
    • Both are true, I think. Let’s wound their consciences.

    • There is, for all the sneering at the Palestinians, quite a lot here for the likes of us to work on. If the Nakba was a historic wrong whose effect continues then in the end something must be done by the heirs of the wrongdoers to put it right. Sometime the prevarication has to end. I say this with little hope that it will end quickly.

  • Netanyahu used 'leadership of American Jewish community' to block Obama policy -- Ben Rhodes
    • We know the basic outlines of the story and we discover more details but still there is a mystery. Some of it seems to make sense only on the understanding that Obama thought, in his heart of hearts, that Zionsism is a good moral principle and a just cause and saw himself only as gently suggesting gentler versions of it. But Netanyahu surely saw something more disturbing than this. Perhaps Obama is a Hamlet and never knew his own mind. Perhaps he was all talk. Perhaps his memoirs will tell us more. Somehow I doubt it.

  • Israeli forces shoot and kill Izz al-Din Tamimi in Nabi Saleh
    • Our courts in the UK have just given a helping hand by overturning on appeal the legal attempt to prohibit BDS by local authorities. All roads lead uphill.

  • How to tell when defending Israel is actually racist
    • I think it consistent to argue that international law primarily and rightly requires the situation in Palestine to change in the Palestinians’ favour and that BDS is a reasonable means to achieve change and so to conclude that should be supported. This holds true even if I cannot make up my mind on which form of change I want or if I consider that there is a conflict between law favouring 2ss and morality favouring something else. International law does not require individuals to hold to certain ideas, only to take certain actions. So it is not inconsistency or hypocrisy or a mistake to support BDS without a settled mind about 2ss but it is a mistake to hold back from BDS because the question of 2ss is unsettled. So I think Finkekstein is mistaken. It’s true that if any change were to arrive clearly within the bounds of practically that would be a serious reason to support it - but to my mind that point has nowhere near been reached.
      I haven’t been questioning F’s premises but I do think that his suggestion that 1ss is absolutely - presumably even if negotiated and agreed in some more enlightened time - illegal is far too strong.

    • Thanks to echino for kind word above, sorry for the ugly ‘transfornatimg’ in my post. Don’t know how that got there.

    • I think that there is a style of discussion - and I think that it is in effect dominant among our Western politicians - whereby solicitude for Israel is so overwhelming and concern for the Palestinians so secondary that it deserves to be called extremely prejudiced in favour of one group defined in part by ancestry, racist really. Often enough inverted racism based on fear of being considered anti-Semitic, ie racist in another way.
      However, it’s not racist to point out that there exist disparities of power which affect what we can hope to achieve or that in most situations a lesser, though still significant, concession is easier to achieve than a greater, transformating one. Mind you, in this
      case I’m not so sure of that. No significant concession, not even the lifting of the blockade, seems clearly within grasp. Perhaps Israel is in the position of being unable to give an inch without giving a mile.

  • Open Letter to Wajahat Ali: Don't undermine the Palestinian struggle
    • The displacements after WW2 don’t seem to me to have yielded any situation parallel to the Palestine situation now. The wrong of the situation is in the suffering and injustice inherent in it, not in the identity of those responsible. However, the importance of events can lie not only in their right or wrong but in the way they are discussed, a way of spreading good and evil beyond its existing places, and it can be both important and distressing that the prevailing discussion is dominated by bad arguments. I too think that the Palestinians have a legitimate grievance. To redress which, I think that it should be an important short term aim for all of us to get all concerned - I would say particularly Israel, by far the most powerful participant - to state what they would consider a fair and final settlement to be.

    • I object to what is going on in Palestine - I bitterly condemn it - because so many people have been excluded from their homes and so many people have been denied the normal right to exist as enfranchised citizens of a sovereign state. I see no other parallel situation. If there were such it would be just as wrong. The ethnicity of those responsible makes no difference to anything.

  • Heralded by Palestinians as 'angel' and 'merciful martyr,' Razan Al-Najjar is an afterthought in western press
    • The BBC did follow the report you mention on the ‘health crisis’ - a rather odd way to put it; not a word we use of the Blitz - on May 31 with a more specific report about Razzn el Najjar on June 1. They treated the funeral, rather than the death, as the occasion for the report. I suppose every word has to be scrutinised by the Israeli press attaché before publication.

  • 'Disappearing Palestine' maps must spotlight Jaffa
    • I am sure that if anyone was a father of many children in the ME c.2000 BCE that person was one of my ancestors and one of the ancestors of anyone now considered to be Palestinian. So if being descended from Jacob, considered to be one such patriarch, defines an ethnicity I and many, many others belomg to it. It is hard to claim rights that are exclusive for a group that includes almost everyone.
      If one says that the status of Patriarch is theological rather than biological, that a Patriarch is one who is not just a prolific parent but a person with a commission from God, then rights derived from patriarchal status do depend on reloious belief..

  • How an anti-Semitic US law helped bring about Israel's creation
  • Conflicting dreams and realities: Amos Oz in Rochester
    • As to Yonah’s line in the sand, I agree that it’s legitimate to defend some of them in some circumstances by lethal force. Among these circumstances are the status of the line as an international boundary where permission to cross is not refused unreasonably. What we have here is not an international boundary but a perimeter used to enforce a ferocious blockade - and it seems very difficult to treat the moral authority of the line’s existence, since it has so little of that, as justification for its violent defence.
      I’m not totally despairing about deals if done with the proverbial eyes of the world firm,y upon them. Just let Israel put an idea on the table and we’ll see.

    • I think it certain that most of the people who died in the recent horrible events agreed with Hamas about the illegitimacy of Israel and the immoral nature of the blockade. Some may have received military training from Hamas or paid money into its meagre coffers. None of this comes close to meaning that it was legitimate to kill them as if they were members of an attacking military force, since they never had and no one could have thought that they had a single weapon between them which could rationally be expected in any moment of encounter to inflict even a bruise or a scratch on a single Israeli.
      I admit that resisting civilians may sometimes, given enough time, have a lucky moment in which they do cause some damage but this does not make them into a military force or make it rational to fear them or the damage they may do, still less to claim that they are terrorising you. Moreover, the fact that someone has Hamas style ideas, or any ideas, in his head does not make it fair to blow his brains out.

    • So true, LH, so horrible

  • Tom Friedman has advice for Palestinians: Embrace Zionism
    • I would regard a non-religious expression of any historic culture as any activity, including works of literature, art or music, which involves no explicit call for respect for the authority of a divine being or a sacred text but which calls attention to the traditions of a community or family, including religious traditions, to which the creator of the work belongs or belonged. One does not have to look far such.

    • It seems to me that on Naftush’s analysis Jewish nationhood did not exist during the centuries when that one component was absent, just as (say) gunpowder would not exist wherever saltpetre was absent. Yet Judaism, non-religious expressions of Jewish culture and the people identifying themselves via this culture did exist, just as they exist in many places outside Israel now. I would like to ask whether there is no way of retaining all these things in a situation where the human rights of the Palestinians are restored?

    • A very good question, echino. I’m not cherishing much hope but I think that success in getting Israel to show its true objectives is somewhere just within the outer bounds of possibility. Just.

    • If it’s a sacrifice then who are the priests doing the immolation? Even on this showing ‘Hamas’ is, even if the worst is said of it, only in the position of those bringing the victim to the altar. But a sacrifice cannot be completed except by the one who wields the deadly weapon in what (s)he thinks is a sacred cause. If the cause is not so sacred then something demonic is afoot.

    • Is Jewish nationhood to be considered as a reality throughout the ages or only since the establishment of modern Israel? If the former, it cannot be eradicated simply by some new dispensation in Palestine. If the latter, does it imply that Palestinians have fewer human rights than the rest of us? If so, then there must be some moral case for its eradication, or at least for its major transformation. If not, then its eradication may not at all be necessary for Liz Rose to be satisfied with the outcome.

    • And like Singapore - like medieval Hamburg, like Gaza in 1000 BCE - they are very advantageously placed for international trade. But this is all coming out of thin air at the moment - and for ever, I thiink. If Israel chose to offer a Singaporean future to Gaza the offer might seem, not that I can speak for anyone there, to present a better way forward than the current situation of blockade and defiance. But Singapore has independence and sovereignty, as is normal for areas receiving international investment. I would reverse the call attributed to Friedman: it’s not so much that the Palestinians should embrace Zionism as that the Israelis should embrace the legitimacy at very least of the claims of the Palestinians to be rightfully in Palestine and to have no less right than others to be enfranchised citizens of a sovereign state. But I think that they can’t do that: or that only the liberals who compromise their Zionism can.
      If Friedman had said Hong Kong that might have been a better analogy, since sovereignty is lacking, for what he has in mind. But the essentially temporary nature of HK’s situation makes it too a poor model for a settlement or a solution.

    • An idea based on idle imagination, surely. It is the Israeli position of maintaining the status quo, making no proposal of anything different, which gives Palestinians no options except exchanging idle and imaginary ideas with liberal Zionists or engaging in desperate protests. If there are to be other options in the near future, while the present balances of power exist, the first step has to be for Israel, the greater power, to say what its idea of a fair and final settlement would be,

  • They prayed for Gaza's dead. Now it's time to say the mourner's prayer for Zionism
    • I think that there is a body of opinion very strong among people who are customarily called Jewish which is very effective in supporting the oppression of Palestinians. I’m hardcore to the extent of thinking that the most important thing here is that the oppression be ended. The reformation of Jewish opinion is both much to be desired in itself and in its probable consequence, that the liberation of Palestine would come nearer, but it is less importance, of course, than the liberation itself. I might see some Judaeocentrism if this order of importance were reversed.
      I agree that there is something a bit arbitrary about the application of the term ‘Jewish’ in common usage but that does not stop me finding the idea of ‘reforming Jewish opinion’ meaningful or of being very glad at any hope that this can be done. I don’t cherish much hope but there is a bit more hope if the effort comes from ‘within’. I admire the efforts of Phil Weiss and of you, Robert, in this regard.

  • Gaza killings are rending the Jewish community
    • There’s an article by Ronni Shaked in Ynet News for April 9, which seems like a long time ago in these things, called ‘For now, the Palestinians are winning the battle for public opinion’ but it doesn’t cite any opinion polls and is very like others, going back many years, to the same effect. The Great Change keeps on being announced by people who can’t believe it’s not happening, since there is every reason for it to happen in a rational world. You can certainly see a change, perhaps even a great change, in the Comment Sections. But without political leadership wider public interest fades. And we are still locked in the world where voting by politicians for Israel recycled money and favours - by a process which surely isn’t just donations by individuals - to the politicians themselves and perhaps even more importantly in a world where critique of Israel and its methods is always considered to be anti-Semitism.

  • Documenting Palestinian invisibility for 40 years -- an interview with James Zogby
    • As to ancient Palestine I think, from the evidence collected by Mark Weeden, ‘After the Hittites’ SOAS Research Online 2013, that the first to use the title ‘King of Palestine’ was Taita I, based in Aleppo,, c. 1050 BCE. That Palestine was the surviving portion of the great Hittite empire, it even being possible that ‘Palestinian’ had always been the name used by the Hittites for themselves, which is not entirely certain. ‘Palestine’ clearly, but in ways hard to trace, began to expand or transfer its activities further south. The outcome or cultural impact was that ‘Palestine’ became the only clearly attested name for the river-to-sea peninsula from pre-Roman times, ‘Canaan’ being somewhat vague in application and somewhat archaic, as I argued in Ann essay here, June 23 2013.

  • 'NYT' columnist says killing Palestinian civilians is... good for Palestinians
  • Israel detains Palestinian teen with severe head injury, again
    • I think we have to set his letter to Nehru in 47, where he gives a very strong impression of being a Zionist - though there are clauses which almost give him a get out, because he asserts that Arab interests could be protected - against his reported statement to A. Lilienthal in 52 that he had never been a Zionist. There was a strong element of ambivalence which reflected a desire to do good to all but which in the end isn’t that wonderful. The pattern of giving much public encouragement to the Z cause whilst expressing much reservation about Begin then, Netanyahu now, is a rather regrettable one in the intellectual class, Jewish and other.

  • 'Likudism' invades the academy: continued Zionist attacks on activism and scholarship at SFSU
    • If there was some way of turning the tables against these frivolous litigants that would make a great difference!

    • There is some very interesting stuff there, Dan, thank you. However, we have to recognise that the purpose of litigation is not always to win, but sometimes on,y to harass, moreover that the Fraser case, which concerned the union to which I still belong in retirement, the Universities and Colleges Union, won the ‘Fraser Case’ in part because it has always acted on legal advice that regards BDS as illegal, so the case against it, for allegedly taking an anti-Semitic stance, was very weak. But the legal advice in question has been and remains a major inhibition on all UK BDS activities for more than a decade.
      Ken Livingstone, recently so full of defiance against accusations of anti-S, has decided to resign from the Labour Party which was about to expel him. He had been threatening legal action but fell back. The purportedly anti-anti-Semitism political campaign has drawn more blood and there was no legal redress.

  • Protesting is not enough
    • Hamas as terrorist organisation is a very important part of Israeli propaganda. Just to mention an article in the Washington Post ‘Stop Demonising Israel’ by the odious Ron Dermer. It is receiving lots of pushback. For a euphoric moment I let myself believe that public opinion is changing.

  • Debunking 18 claims justifying this week's Gaza massacre
    • A Palestinian version of Vimy Ridge.! Not too credible with their resources.

    • That was mere abuse, hardly even a personal attack but somewhere on a lower level.

    • I thought that the npr article was quite good in that explained the events from the Hamas point of view as a rationally conceived attempt to force Israel, presumably through the pressure of world opinion, to alleviate the plight of Gaza. This was said to reflect the experience of hunger strikers in getting concessions from a position in which they started as much the weaker party. That is not to say that the plan will meet with success or that it will not be wrecked on the usual rock of American political opinion. The angry young man too was of interest. It is surely the case that anger against suffering and injustice can, under enough sustained provocation, burst some restraints and become racist. But there is much greater importance and greater wrong in the relentless suffering and the sentiments sustaining it.

    • As to the Jewish state ‘at the expense of Palestinians’ - it is true that there was the Altneuland streak and the Daniel Deronds streak in Zionism from the beginning, either asserting or assuming that the Palestinians would benefit too. Most Zionists now believe - article of faith and all that - that the sufferings of the Palestinians have been due to not to Z but to their rejection of Z. People like Annie and me - hope not putting words in her mouth - consider this belief to be preposterous. Surely it cannot be doubted that Israel exists at the objective, if not the intended, expense of the Palestinians and that even the intention must have been and must still be the ruthless one of exacting any expense that was or is necessary to serve the imperative that the Jewish State must be founded or must continue.. There could never have been a form of Z lacking at least some of the objective effect, since the arrival of an immigrant group claiming ‘this land is ours’ imposes detriments in itself and implies more disruptions. There could never have been a form of Z lacking the ruthless intention because that would be to make the prime imperative of Z secondary.

    • I don’t find it that hard to imagine living family life under so much economic and political pressure that you can’t, at least at some intense moments, give your children what seems, to them or to you, a good reason for staying out of the combat zone or even out of the combat.

  • Israeli government minister justifies Gaza massacre by calling Palestinians 'Nazis'
    • ‘Nazi’ casualty rates, if they can be identified, may be evidence used, balance against other evidence, in the interpretation of the events of 1918-45. How could anyone think otherwise? Gaza casualty rates are the same. Taken on balance with other evidence it is an indication of intense injustice and considerable determination and courage. I hope that the Israelis do not will absolutely the deaths of Palestinians, though it’s clear enough that they will their deaths conditionally on those deaths being necessary for the enforcement of Israel’s policies and choices.

  • Live Blog: Massacre in Gaza as US and Israel celebrate embassy move to Jerusalem
    • It will be grimly interesting to see how the accusations of Labour Party anti-S are used in response to these remarks. The most encouraging UK reaction this morning comes from of all places the Daily Mail, whose headline is simply ‘Bloodbath’. Perhaps the claims I expect, that Corbyn and Thornberry ‘have finally come out in their true anti-Semitic colours’ will stick in throats for a bit. And Thornberry’s record of pro-Israelism may function as a useful shield. Mind you the mountain of pro-Israel prejudice is still so massive in public and political opinion that even in these circumstances of scandal and outrage hope has to be muted.

    • This is not simply a demonstration of opinion, though it is that too, but an expression of the will of people in Gaza to cross the perimeter line even in the face of abundant lethal force and even when they lack the means to inflict even a bruise or a scratch on the people confining them. So it is a demonstration of what Cicero called ‘contempt for the swords’ of the other side. I agree that you might say that there is a kind of threat involved in this contempt, so that the term ‘non- violent’ does not fully apply. Some people are very anxious to emphasise this
      point but if they are against violence then they can hardly admire what the Israelis are doing. If you say that the Israelis are using legitimate violence then everything hangs on the legitimacy of the blockade. The nature of the blockade is to deprive people in Gaza on an indefinite basis of their normal right to be enfranchised citizens of a sovereign state and to deprive them of much economic opportunity, which it does not suggest its legitimacy.
      If you look into the idea of ‘demonstration’ with more than half an eye you see how appropriate it is in application to the Palestinians.

  • 'Superpowers will not give us freedom so we will take it with our own hands': scenes from Gaza's final Friday protest at the border
    • If this event was indeed a Hamas stunt rather than a spontaneous action by some angry individuals then I would still think that it was an understandable expression of frustration and dismay. But in any event the creation of at least a significant degree of distress,even long-term misery, in Gaza is quite manifestly the policy of the Israeli government as long as Gaza is led by Hamas with its traditional policy and rhetoric. Whatever Hamas says or does there is a sustained action from the Israeli side with sustained effects, including frustration and dismay, and Israel is responsible for that.

    • Well, Jon, the tenor of the article was the hopelessness and desperation of the situation in Gaza. Are you drawing attention to the damage done at the crossing in order to suggest that it’s more a question of stupidity or irrationality in their minds rather than of a terrible physical situation and lack of rights? These actions are, if they are what they seem, a form of biting the hand that feeds you or at least of brushing it aside when it is offering the latest grudging rations. But if that hand is also the hand the slaps you around unrelentingly and exercises a pretty harsh, to put it mildly, form of control over you, giving you almost no opportunity to develop or progress, there are surely some reasons to bite it or take a swipe at it. Accusations of sheer stupidity, silliness or irrationality would be rather imperceptive or arrogant.
      Of course it may well be that this is a minority view in Gaza but it would not be a view beyond understanding or sympathy. Maybe it’s even a false flag operation designed to sow dissension, who knows? But even false flag operations need something to make them plausible. In this case the underlying fact is that the people of Gaza suffer injustice and misery.

  • Ending seventy years of exile for Palestinian refugees
    • You hit that nail squarely on the head, Q. But the exhausting mental gymnastics win applause

    • The right not to be excluded from home and country of legitimate residence is eternal.

    • What can a refugee be except a) someone rightly exclude from home and country b) someone who was wrongfully excluded and who, since wrong does not create or destroy right, has a right to return hme? The first category is almost certainly empty, therefore all refugeees have a right of return. It doesn’t need a committee to meet and recognise this. Refugees status can be laid down if citizenship elsewhere is taken up. But where the status does continue so must the rights that the status logicslly brings with it,

  • Mahmoud Abbas seals his intellectually impoverished legacy
    • I sometimes wonder why the Zionists so dislike the Khazar hypothesis - maybe it just shows that Israel has the right to another province, this time by the Volga, it being quite likely that rabbinic Judaism was practised there for a long time and that there was a violent expulsion. I think that the answer is that despite the trappings of science, genetics and all that, that it wears Zionism, Christian Z most obviously, is really about a theological demand for Palestine based on the biblical claims about a divine mandate.

    • See RW Dorin ‘Banishing Usury’ Harvard 2015 - it’s a complicated story indeed. Current thinking, apparently, is that Jews were not as fully excluded from other occupations as had been supposed but they were provided with an opportunity to meet the needs of an expanding mercantile society because of the readiness of some secular rulers to ‘protect’ them and their banking businesses as a source of taxation, ie I suppose to offer them a monopoly. They were not directly subject to the Bishops’ courts. This is the situation commended by Thomas Aquinas’ ‘Letter to the Duchess of Brabant’ of around 1270. But that was not to be how things settled down. In 1274 a Church Council called for the expulsion from every Christian state of foreign moneylenders and the Jews were increasingly caught up in the consequences of this. It’s quite hard to support the Abbas idea, if it is fairly attributed to him, that Jews were expelled because they were a genuinely negative economic force in Christian society.

  • By wrecking Iran deal, Trump politicized Israel
    • We have to a bit sceptical about ‘rockets, all intercepted, fired at Golan’. Similar statements about Gaza were unreliable. Not necessarily incredulous, but sceptical. It’s all been well planned, I think. Israel is politicised, ie is influencing Trump in a manner hard to conceal. But the outbreak of military action will surely result in the usual stampede among political leaders to declare their suppprt, probably in near the same breath as some voice their hugely ineffectual regrets about the abandoned Iranian deal,

    • Koheleth rather than Solomon, who was more of a believer in divine progress

  • Kovel's 'Overcoming Zionism' was ahead of its time
    • Brian Stalder ‘Palestinian Christians and the Old Testament’ (2015) p.11 tells us that the phrase ‘a land without and people and a people without a land’ first occurs in a Scottish review of ‘Land of Israel’ by the Scottish missionary Alexander Keith in the early 1840s. It was taken up by many influential people. The words appeared at that point but they were really a Christian rather than a Jewish invention and with a few variations a basic idea of Christian Zionism, 2 centuries old before Keith’s time. I think it’s a little harsh to say that the Jewish Zionists, when they came on the scene, did not generally think that they could achieve a situation of mutual benefit with the Palestinians - that is the idea behind Herzl’s Altneuland. That was a natural idea in the age of imperialism. It was deeply self-deceptive, of course, as the Revisionists were to point out.

  • Philadelphia Jewish groups try to stop publication of article critical of Israel, insist on BDS training for Inquirer editors
    • Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of my great to the power n grandparents lived in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, another in Tunis/Carthage, another in Toledo, another in Stockholm, then a small, cold collection of wooden huts. The biological specifics of the claims made to Israelite descent are very hard to grasp.

    • At least you face your - our - existential frustrations, Catalan, and state how they arise. I had a look at Baron-Baer’s remarks but could not see where this famous complexity arises for her. It seems that not everything is Israel’s fault but she doesn’t make any attempt to apportion blame or to say what each side has done wrong, which would be necessary for a reasonable decision on whether cultural exchange is likely to help. And what cultural exchange between Philadelphians and Palestinians might even cross her mind? She doesn’t seem able, amid her slightly ritualised invocations of complexity and cultural exchange, to fit these concepts to the facts of the matter.

  • Umm Al Hiran is ethnically cleansed 'voluntarily'
    • There was a war zone and many people chose to leave it, as was entirely rational and entirely within their rights. The who,e difference between a home and a prison is that you can come and go without permission. The crucial thing was that they were prevented from returning and called, very wickedly, ‘infiltrators’.

  • Remembering Joel Kovel, a restless explorer
    • A great and magnanimous Anglican! I wish the rest of our communion were not so cowardly and thoughtless on the Palestine question.

  • Rightwing video says New Israel Fund supports 'foreign agents' who persecute Israeli soldiers
    • As to invented countries, I’m just back from Germany, described by Jean Giraudoux in his 1928 play ‘Siegfried’ as ‘pas une creation sociale et humaine, c’est une conjuration poetique et demoniaque’. You know what he meant. We stopped by the Holocaust and Roma/Sinti memorials with their sense of something still wrong. But what the poets conjured up has become real.

  • The struggle of Palestinians is the struggle of Native Americans
    • This thread has got a bit a detached from Rebecca Miles’ concerns and that is partly my fault. I know that there has been an American Indian Movement for some decades, though I am very Ill informed about its progress or setbacks. Is there any idea corresponding to a 2ss - the number of different groups is far higher than 2, of course. But is there any claim for sovereignty in some areas of the United States and Canada?

    • It is clearly possible for more than one group to be ‘identified with a country’ if that means ‘ be generally regarded as normal inhabitants there and to have strong cultural traditions concerning the place’. That is true of the Japanese and the Ainu, though the ‘general regard’ is stronger with the Japanese, even though their ancestors were invaders. The English are identified in this sense with England, though the Welsh were here first. The Jews are unusual in having an ideology which emphasises that they were in a place in ancient time without indigenous status or rights but because God had given them a right which overrode all others ‘not for their merit’ but for his greater plan.
      It is very hard, without an idea of divine mandate, to think of being indigenous is a source of rights if one can claim indigenous status by killing or driving out others who have not done you any harm. Meanwhile, the criteria for inheritance from ancient times seem to me to vary from biological to cultural, in most presentations, almost from sentence to sentence. But I think that if you scratch the surface the idea of divine mandate is always there just below.

    • The other Labour setbacks were in Midlands towns like Nuneaton where there is an insistence on Brexit. I too doubt if the anti-Semitism issue was very weighty there or in South areas like mine where the anti-Brexit Liberal Dems had a rather pallid revival. A little sense among middle class people that Labour, bombarded by press and BBC, are not necessarily the good guys perhaps.
      But the London effect was significant. Some London boroughs are long standing testimonies to the success of Thatcher in creating a strong inner city Conservative presence - Wandsworth most of all. This time the overall London polling indicated a big movement to Labour and there were unwisely unmanaged expectations about Wandsworth and Barnet, the latter because Labour was nearly in charge already, with 30:31 councillors. But the result in Barnet was a damaging 20% (I’ve read) swing to the Conservatives, a big movement. The Labour vote went up but the Conservative vote went up much more.
      I’ve also read that Barnet is 15% Jewish and home to all of 20% of UK Jewish people, putting Jewish people in a good position to influence their liberal-minded neighbours. This had to be the result of the anti-anti-Semitism campaign, gaining a win where it was most targeted. I am told that this proves nothing much about the overall future of British politics, which is true. But I think it plain that the frequent expectation among us on Mondoweiss that charges of anti-Semitism, especially when supported by strongly emotional statements by prominent Jewish people with a progressive reputation, are becoming stale with repetition gets no support from these troubling events. On the contrary. they have drawn blood and will be used again, very much with the effect of minimising pro-Palestinian sentiments. All this unfolded beside the Gaza crisis, which sadly and rather scandalously touched no public nerve.
      The Battle of Barnet in 1471 seemed to settle the future of the Kingdom and by the end of the year most of the Lancastrian leaders were dead or in exile. But the fanatical Lancastrian Edward de Vere survived Barnet and some 15 years later led his side to really final victory at Bosworth and Stoke. Things can change.

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