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Total number of comments: 924 (since 2011-04-03 12:15:19)

Retired literary agent now living in southern Spain.

Showing comments 924 - 901

  • After Israel tries to ban Al Jazeera, critics say the country is 'taking its cues from Arab dictators'
  • 'Beholden to AIPAC' -- progressive senators Warren, Murphy, Brown sign letter seeking to limit Obama's actions
    • If there is such a resolution and the US does veto it, it will widen the fracture between the US and the EU. Not that the issues are in anyway connected but a fracture is a fracture.

  • The List: Cuomo's anti-BDS executive order is a first amendment nightmare
  • A brief history of the 'Nakba' in Israel
    • If you want to be ready for the Nakba, to avoid a disaster and save yourselves from an unavoidable catastrophe, you must surrender

      Exactly the same 'argument' the Athenians had with the Melisians in 416 BC before slaughtering all the men and selling the women and children into slavery, impeccably summarised in Wikipedia Was the IDF author familiar with Thucydides?

  • 'New York Times' whitewashes poll showing Israeli support for expelling Palestinians
    • Surely it is common knowledge that some Israeli Jews would like all non Jews, particularly Palestinians. to leave. That has frequently been expressed in interviews recorded on film. The question exposes not the existence of such an attitude but the extent to which it is embedded in Israeli society. I imagine, it appeared 'problematic' to Israeli pollsters for precisely that reason, not for any linguistic ambiguity. It's more like moving an uncovered corpse down a crowded corridor; people know what's on the trolley but they don't want to be so graphically reminded of it.

  • Most Jews want to expel Palestinians -- Pew's ugly portrait of Israel
    • Well, I'm greatly relieved it will prove that easy. I had visions of weeping, wailing, and worse..

    • If the Palestinians are ever to regain their homeland, it is desirable, if not indeed essential, that plans be laid, ideally at a UN level, to determine where the evacuated settlers are to go. It was bad enough for Palestinians themselves but at least they were able to flee to refuge, however primitive, in neighbouring countries. But where would settlers go? I doubt there is a nation on earth would accept them. What are they to do? Invade Jordan? Requisition Lebanon? It's all very well wanting them cleared from stolen land but where are they to go? I have never seen any reason why Jews should not have a land of their own and maintain they own customs in it if that is what they want, but not by ousting indigenous inhabitants. Look at the problems bona fide refugees face, the heart rending scenes and stories, and just imagine the media attention settlers would get. And it would be worse for settlers because refugees drowning in the Aegean are victims whereas it would require a Papal level of humanity to see settlers in that light.

  • Netanyahu responds to Ban Ki-moon's criticism of the Israeli occupation (Update)
    • If Netanyahu really believes the UN has lost it's moral force he should perhaps boycott the organisation, withdraw Israeli funding from it, and sanction its members.

  • Despite global disgust, Netanyahu doubles down on claim that Hitler got idea of Final Solution from a Palestinian
    • When I read that I felt ashamed. Then I thought: Why should I feel ashamed. I'm neither American nor Jewish. What it is though is shame for the Western world and Western self proclaimed 'civilisation'.

  • Video: Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza killing seven
    • I was referencing Russia's intervention in the military efforts against Daesh which are being effected in Syria. Such intervention commands wide media attention and comment, and is providing a cover for renewed attacks on Palestinians. I apologise if this was unclear. I had feared Netanyahu would take the opportunity to unleash exactly what he appears to have unleashed.

    • I feared something like this might happen under cover of the Russian intervention in Syria. It's a well tried Netanyahu tactic; while the world's attention is somewhere else roll up your sleeves and kill some more Palestinians, the puppet press will ignore it or call it self defence and the White House will express concern, appeal for calm, and offer heartfelt prayers for the families.

  • Who running for president is not 'friends' with Benjamin Netanyahu?
    • Hen pecked husbands with authority outside the home often take it out on others. I wonder if Joshua was the same.

  • What's behind Netanyahu's war on stone throwers
    • The way I read it is Netanyahu has been really thrown by Russia, Iran, and China's firm takeover of the Syrian problem. The arrival of a seriously impressive number of Russian aircraft in Latakia has more or less ended Israel's ability to make aggressive flights over Syria, let alone bombing raids. Also I wouldn't be surprised if Netanyahu's recent summons to Moscow was for anything other than to receive a firm warning to keep his nose out of the area. Given that Russia's presence means the US has also lost any ability to institute a no fly zone over Syria and everyone else is standing back with bated breath, Netanyahu must feel singularly isolated. All he has left is to have another go at the Palestinians.; he may even hope he can provoke another 'war', anything to avoid being irrelevant.

  • Riham Dawabshe dies, leaving one survivor of arson attack, Ahmad, 4
  • Debacle for the Israel lobby: Booker jilts Boteach, and Netanyahu sinks AIPAC
    • Maybe, and I suspect we will find the game changer is Russia, in alliance with Iran, Lebanon, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria (with or without Assad long-term), Cairo, and Jordan (when the time is ripe), all gathered together for the ostensible common purpose of first resolving the Syrian mess, followed by defeating ISIS and associated extremists. Once up and running this group will alter the face of the ME, and Israel will find itself truly surrounded by those who demand a blunt solution to the Palestine issue in accordance with UN resolutions and international law, and a nuclear free ME. No threat of any kind to Israel's security which they will all doubtless be happy to join the US in vouching to support.

    • Opponents now find themselves in a position where, if they persist in opposition, they will be opposing the will of their President, over half the US electorate, the Security Council, world opinion, and the global industrial community, which, let's face it, is a pretty heady place to find yourself for the doubtful benefits of having supported Bibi Netanyahu in a fast changing environment.

  • Videos: Brave Tamimi women of Nabi Saleh take down Israeli soldier assaulting injured child
  • Abbas’s resignation from PLO could mean consolidation of power, ouster of rival
  • Palestinians struggle to leave Gaza as Egypt opens Rafah crossing for four days
    • Failed initiatives do more harm than good. I signed the petition but it was a non-starter. You can't arrest a national leader, they all have blanket immunity. Your suggestion would have been a better approach but it's too late. The hope now is that his stay attracts news worthy demonstrations with graphic police response.

  • In latest thrust at Obama, Netanyahu names UN ambassador who trashed him and said Palestinians can have 'Facebook state'
  • Israeli Banks flipping out over looming European boycott
    • The EU move is not really anti anything, not even anti occupation. It's a simple matter of law, and quite apart from the individual sentiments of any politician or business. There has, however, been a much broader awareness of the IP issue since the last Gaza onslaught. An official petition to arrest Netanyahu on his visit to London next month (launched only a couple of days ago) is now at 47,421 and increasing by hundreds an hour . These things make an irreversible cumulative impact and this one will attract considerable publicity whatever the outcome may be.

  • 'They are the terrorists'–-Palestinians mourn a second death from settler arson attack
    • OT...but must share

      The number of Israeli soldiers indicted for drug offenses rose by 50 percent last year compared to the year before, an internal annual army report says.

      According to the report, which was released on Sunday, 629 cases were opened for drug-related crimes committed by Israeli soldiers in 2014 in comparison with 416 cases the previous year. The figures constitute 66 percent of all military investigations in 2014, compared to 50 percent in 2013.

      The indictments included a wide range of crimes like selling, producing and trading drugs, as well as refusals to undergo a drug test.
      Recruiting offenders, clearing their records

      The figures have been revealed following another report published in June by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which said the Israeli military had recruited thousands of soldiers with criminal records, enabling them to request that their records be expunged.

      The crimes committed by the newly-recruited soldiers ranged from drug offenses and theft to more serious crimes, including sex offenses, according to the report.

  • Palestinian forced to strip to underwear before attending briefing at Israeli Embassy in Washington DC
    • What can be done? Gather as large a group as you can, parade in front of the embassy in underwear. Invite press and cameras. You'll go viral and they will be unlikely to try such a ridiculous racist thing again.

    • A homoerotic obsession with Palestinian male underwear? Were it me I might have removed them altogether and let him have them. Poor man.

    • Page: 9
  • Obama tells Americans it is 'abrogation of my constitutional duty' to defer to Israel on Iran Deal
    • One would hope all candidates for office will study this, and even if they still disagree take salutary note where spontaneous applause broke out.

      What's more likely to happen should Congress reject this deal is that Iran would end up with some form of sanctions relief without having to accept any of the constraints or inspections required by this deal. So in that sense, the critics are right. Walk away from this agreement, and you will get a better deal -- for Iran.


      But if we've learned anything from the last decade, it's that wars in general and wars in the Middle East in particular are anything but simple.


      But superpowers should not act impulsively in response to taunts or even provocations that can be addressed short of war. Just because Iranian hardliners chant "Death to America" does not mean that that's what all Iranians believe. In fact, it's those...


      ...In fact, it's those hardliners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It's those hardliners chanting "Death to America" who have been most opposed to the deal. They're making common cause with the Republican Caucus.


      , and as president of the United States it would be an abrogation of my constitutional duty to act against my best judgement simply because it causes temporary friction with a dear friend and ally.

      I do not believe that would be the right thing to do for the United States, I do not believe it would be the right thing to do for Israel.


  • AIPAC taking all but 3 freshmen Congresspeople to Israel in effort to sabotage Iran deal
    • Amigo, It's not up to European members of the P5, or anyone else, to involve themselves in US political shenanigans. The US joined a pre-existing group, which included Iran, already attempting to find a resolution to the issues raised by Iran's nuclear activities. The idea that this was a US initiative is simply wrong.

      Federica Mogherin, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and chief co-ordinator and representative of Common Foreign and Security Policy within the EU, chaired the negotiations after Catherine Ashton's term, and as far as Europeans are concerned it was she who steered the whole thing to its conclusion despite the US dragging its feet. Of course US media doesn't want to broadcast that particular view of the events.

  • Did the BBC cover up the anti-Semitism of Gaza's children?
    • Palestinian Infant Burned to Death in West Bank Arson Attack; IDF Blames 'Jewish Terror'

      was the headline in Haaretz. Anyway, the BBC was simply translating. Translating involves going back from one word to what the user means and bringing that meaning out in another language. It's like squash, you don't hit the ball across to your opponent, you bounce it off the wall. If you said you were going to boil a kettle to a French speaker they would think you were going to put it in a pan like a potato.

  • Palestinian toddler killed in settler price-tag attack
    • To all intents and purposes, this is complicity.(DOS press briefing y'day):

      QUESTION: ...My question: Seeing how there is an uptick now in these settler attacks against Palestinians and their property and so on and with a price tag and all that, I wonder if the Department is looking into any steps it can take to apply U.S. anti-terror laws under its purview to combat these sorts of things. Are you?

      MR TONER: Well, look, as the statement said, we’ve obviously condemned this attack. We welcome the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu did order Israel’s security forces to use all means at their disposal to apprehend the murderers of what he called an act of terrorism and to bring them to justice, and we obviously urge all sides in this moment to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions.

      But Israel is – the Government of Israel is investigating the incident and has expressed its firm commitment to pursuing the perpetrators of this attack, so we’ll let this process play out.

      QUESTION: Do you have confidence in the Israeli Government doing that?

      MR TONER: Certainly.

      QUESTION: Do you have evidence that they have done that in the past? For instance, in the case of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who was burned alive last year, there have been no convictions up to now --

      MR TONER: And we’ve spoken about this before. We have confidence – Israel is a vibrant, strong democracy with strong institutions and a very strong legal system, so yes, we have confidence in it.

  • When a U.S. president demanded inspections of a nuclear facility in the Middle East (and failed)
    • It was not the US that 'negotiated' the recent deal with Iran, it was the members of the Security Council and Germany. Nor was the impetus from the US, it was from France, Germany and the United Kingdom who had been working to limit Iran's nuclear activities since 2003 (the US joined them three years later). The US Congress cannot overthrow the deal, it can only denounce it and maintain its own sanctions.

      Israel doesn't like it, and understandably since Iran is a potential game changer in the ME; Iran can do more to stabilise the area than anyone and that is what worries Netanyahu et al.

      The Iranian Foreign Minister in Baghdad:

      We (ME countries) may have different opinions regarding developments in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, but we stress that the security of each and every country in the region is like our own security and we will work to boost this collective security–Ibrahim-alJaafari-Baghdad

      and then there is the EU etc., Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy who chaired the negotiations clearly regards the agreement as the beginning of something rather than the end.

      It's not difficult to see all this as a prelude to a more coherent and determined effort to tidy up in the ME. With Israel next of the list?

  • It's time for American Jews to recognize they have been duped
    • Mooser, I am compelled to reiterate, 'not liking' is not the same as disliking, and certainly not the same has anything more virulent. This isn't pedantry, it's important because most everyone I know would simply shrug their shoulders if asked do they 'like' Jews. Your innate political rectitude may have deterred you from, '...if a person dislikes Jews' which is quite another matter. You should leave space for most of us in the middle who are indifferent to Jews collectively, or any similar group of human beings, assuming there is such a thing.

  • Greek Syriza-led government makes military deal with Israel that only US has made
    • I wouldn't read too much into it. Greece is in a socially and politically fractured state between the devil and the deep blue, and no one is really in control. Kammenos pursues his own agenda and Tsipras needs him right now while outsiders are sweeping up Greek assets and the populace feels cheated. Should his fragile government fall something frighteningly right wing could take its place. Consider the recent ADL survey indicating 69% take a dim view of Jews.

  • 'If we don't take out Iran,' it will reenact the Holocaust in US and Israel -- Steven Emerson to Times Square rally
  • If Americans support Iran deal, 56-37, what gives Israel the power to 'croak' it?
    • One downside for Israel is it brings the whole 'nuclear weapon free ME' higher up the agenda, where it may well unite all ME nations along with countless others in a supra schismatic manner which even the most dedicated Zionist may find hard to view as antisemitism.

  • Let's help the 'NYT' get an interview with Netanyahu
  • Israel's real fear about the Iran deal: It puts pressure on the occupation
  • 'We should seize it' -- Obama announces Iran deal as 'new direction' for the Middle East
    • The real urgency for such a deal has long been the geopolitical considerations, which some see has having been coming to a head with the recent rapport between Russia and China, and all that BRICS, SCO, Eurasian Economic Union stuff. Specifically, where a persistently sanctioned Iran might head as all that unfolds towards significant economic activities insulated from the petrodollar. None of this has much to do with Israel except in so far as its influence over such concerns is more or less non-existent, and its hitherto symbiotic relationship with US foreign policy wanes towards the parasitical. Netanyahu's response might be seen as that of a seasoned mistress whose lover's interest is straying to pastures new,

  • The case for US government sanctions on Israel
    • A settler with an Israeli passport wishing to travel to Europe does not require a visa. This seems wrong since they are living in areas occupied illegally and many are arguably terrorists and really shouldn't be welcomed. If all holders of Israeli passports were required to apply for a visa then it should be possible to sift out the settlers.

  • Lies, smear, and two-steps -- Why did organizers really cancel the Feis?
    • Perhaps they also feel they have to protect their own people from the truth, after all football is one thing but an Israel Gaelic dance competition is pretty esoteric and if BDS is just as active there as well it somehow looks even worse.

  • A racist country with too much influence over US -- Israel's new image among Democrats
    • I don't think the opinions of the 'elite' mean any more than those of whatever group is deemed to occupy the other end of the scale. It is those in the middle who sway society's actions and it is unwise to be dismissive of them simply because they may not know where Israel is or what BDS means. What they do know is what is right and wrong, and they know that because it is wired into the human condition, and to the extent it remains uncontaminated by elitist or criminal self interest it is unquestioned. A questionnaire of this kind starts off on the wrong foot because it presupposes that being a Democrat or Republican makes any difference to whether Israel's behaviour is supportable. Asked would they vote for a candidate supportive of those who arrest and abuse kids still in short pants, they wouldn't say, No, unless they are Israelis abusing Palestinian kids. Netanyahu claims UNRWA is biased against Israel's behaviour. Of course it is. So am I. I would be ashamed not to be.

  • In rebuke to Israel, State Dep't says it has no objection to BDS aimed at occupation
    • As stated, it is a clarification, rather than a change of policy. What is significant is that it comes at this particular time since Mat Lee and others have been seeking some unequivocal response on the issue for yonks and normally get fobbed off with ambiguous circumlocutions. I would be surprised if progress with the Iran negotiations doesn't have some bearing on the timing. By that I mean that if the negotiations succeed they will herald a significant shift in US/Israeli relations, and the areas most immediately affected will likely be precisely those where the US has hitherto felt obliged to provide logically untenable excuses to avoid condemning illegal Israeli behaviour. Nothing to do with the unbreakable commitment to Israel's security but a real distinction between Israel and the Occupied Territories

  • 'NYT' finally acknowledges that 'growing number of American Jews' support BDS
    • I agree with you absolutely. It's nothing to do with right or wrong. Rather that not unlike Americans they tend to be somewhat more emotional than Arabs and I can only imagine the scenes the media could disseminate, and the effect and historical analogies that could be provoked from the images. Better, to my mind, to anticipate that and get it under wide (UN?) and serious discussion and consideration. That would have the added advantage of 'legitimising' BDS objectives. Netanyahu would have apoplexy.

    • It's encouraging indeed. Nice, too, to hear Annie's voice.

      I see a couple of wisps of cloud on the horizon.

      The first is a likely conflict between the long defined objectives of the official Palestinian BDS movement with its non-Jewish supporters, and those of liberal Jews when It comes to the business of boundaries. Unless Israel retires from all occupied land there will surely be those who regard the objectives as 'not yet achieved', and presumably those on the other side who will think they have been cheated of bits of their promised land. That could lead to a Northern Ireland situation (at best).

      Then, just as no plans were laid for Palestinians ousted from their land and homes, what happens to settlers called upon to move out of illegal settlements? It's scarcely realistic to expect them simply to swap places with those Palestinians in refugee camps. This potential problem is exacerbated by the fact that the settlers appear peculiarly vicious and close-minded. Just imagine the wailing and tearing of hair. the media would have a field day. I've long wondered if they may in fact be some kind of buffer between the Zionist dream and outside world. If their support is withdrawn, won't they become dangerous as disbanded mercenaries? It would be sad indeed if one humanitarian crisis were to morph into another.

  • 'Jewish cow' is udderly superior to all other cows in the world, Netanyahu says
    • A Germanic people who worshipped Mother Earth would take her image hither and yon in a chariot drawn by female cattle. (Tacitus' Germania, XL) Perhaps he has his eye on something like that?

  • Exclusive: Palestine seeks to charge Israel with 'apartheid' and war crimes at The Hague
  • 'NYT' article on UN's Gaza report strains to demonstrate equivalence in suffering
    • Donald, You are doubtless right. The issue is similar to the Catholic concept of sin which baffles so many. Something is either a war crime or it isn't, that's like saying things are 'against the Law' or that they constitute a sin while not implying they are equal in a world where Laws and moral norms establish the progression from the relatively harmless to the death deserving. Parking in a restricted zone is against the law as is murder, and one has to be able to make that point while leaving the value judgement to a more appropriate authority.

    • They probably also imagine they are in line with the DOS statement on the subject a couple of weeks back.

      MR RATHKE: ...the United States strongly opposed the creation of the Gaza commission of inquiry. There is unfortunately a long history of anti-Israeli bias in UN resolutions and mechanisms, including at the Human Rights Council, which persists in an unbalanced focus on Israel by singling it out with a permanent agenda item, for example. So we’ve opposed the commission of inquiry reports – the creation of the commission of the inquiry, excuse me.

      However, it is one thing to oppose the creation of the inquiry and quite another to question its findings. The report is and will be covered extensively elsewhere, particularly in Europe, and few if any media reports are likely to follow the NYT into that particular cul-de-sac.

  • The living martyr, a visit to the Bakr family in Gaza
  • Obama violated US-Israeli understanding by not clearing Cairo speech and Iran talks with Netanyahu --Oren
    • Obama who sets out as a matter of policy and design to degrade the bond intentionally and as a matter of considered policy.

      This claim of Oren's is probably true. I hope it is.

  • UN report catalogs Israeli attacks on Palestinian children, but leaves Israel off child rights abusers 'list of shame'
    • While it is true Israel was left off the 'list of shame', that shouldn't be allowed to obscure the many devastating, detailed and impeccably attributed statistics the report does provide about what has been going on or the significant passages calling on all nations to ensure their businesses are aware of the legal implications of involving themselves in activities associated with the occupied territories. It is also worth reminding ourselves how may nations insist Israel's settlements are totally illegal and its borders remain pre-1967 whatever they do.

  • 'NY Times' helps Israel whitewash the killings of four boys playing soccer on Gaza beach
    • Part of the problem is the use of the umbrella word 'journalism'. Once it Implied the publication of truths, verified as closely as possible and reported with a high degree of objectivity. The stuff Jodi Rudoren files needs the adjectival qualification of 'gonzo'.

      Gonzo journalism involves an approach to accuracy through the reporting of personal experiences and emotions, as compared to traditional journalism, which favors a detached style and relies on facts or quotations that can be verified by third parties. Gonzo journalism disregards the strictly edited product favored by newspaper media and strives for a more personal approach; the personality of a piece is as important as the event the piece is on. Use of sarcasm, humor, exaggeration, and profanity is common.

  • Gaza’s al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades prepares for next Israeli war
  • StandWithUs invests nearly half a million dollars in ongoing anti-BDS lawsuit against Olympia Food Co-Op
    • The principal benefit of such confrontations, as with the FIFA issue, is surely that they bring the I/P debate further into daylight. Having said that, a store will only stock what its customers buy, and if they cease buying them the store will cease stocking them. My view is the origin of all items should be more boldly identified as there are hosts of reasons one might want or not want to buy goods from a particular source. I choose anything from Greece above alternatives because it's a small way to give them a hand. Equally there goods from other sources I won't buy as a matter of principle; I live in Southern Spain and recently a major supermarket was offering oranges from South Africa. I have nothing against South Africa but considering the tribulations suffered by Spanish agriculture as a result of US inspired EU sanctions against Russia, I thought, Screw that! In the end the People have the most compelling influence on moral issues. The Law is double-edged, in this case it sounds like a bunch of Zionists are attempting to use it to thwart the will of Coop members. That's not right.

  • The final straw: The real reason why Palestine wants Israel out of FIFA
    • It's interesting to speculate the effect a new FIFA president might have on this issue, particularly if it is the Jordanian Prince Ali bin al-Hussein. Apparently there was some mention of this on CNN although I haven't been able to locate it. There is also another factor coming in from a flank; whether FIFA should insist on certain human rights standards before awarding venues. The primary current concern here is for Qatar's vast workforce constructing the 22 venue, but once 'Human Rights' becomes and issue it has a tendency take root and spread.

    • It is probably not in Blatter's remit to become embroiled in issues with roots outside the closed area of FIFA, particularly with issues not specifically covered by its regulations. Putting the submission to the Congress itself is another matter and probably as much potential leverage on the situation as possible at this stage. I imagine one Israeli nightmare is they might be drawn to play against their Gaza prisoners.

  • International calls rise for FIFA to suspend Israel
    • I have negative interest in football, I was forced to play as a child and mostly remember getting distressingly covered in mud. The notion of Israel being classified as European for qualifying purposes leaves me gob smacked. Israel is no more European than Yemen. That ought to be rectified for starters, and if the reason really is it doesn't want to 'play against Arab countries with which it is often technically at war' then it should make peace with them. Furthermore, if it seriously thinks itself European it has no business claiming Palestine.

  • Why readers interested in balanced coverage of BDS should avoid the New York Times
    • @ Lysias. The Chinese believe the face is a reflection of the soul which might be one good reason for him to favour a US court.

  • Ilan Pappe on the western awakening and what it means for Israel/Palestine
    • A very impressive exchange. It turns up the light making hitherto isolated observations come together. His bedrock message is the increasing public consciousness of Zionism as a dangerous element in the world despite most media lagging behind, and his exposition of that perception with his own arrival at it mirrors the process itself. A piece in Der Spiegel some days back is in line with it. . Of late I had begun to despair but having read this I feel better. I envy the students who study with him

  • No Palestinians need apply to new Israeli government-- and American liberals don't notice
    • The only way to encourage people to change their behaviour is to demonstrate the benefits of doing so or the disadvantages of not doing so. As far as Israelis are concerned they are advancing nicely without giving two figs what others think, after all they have vastly extended their population and territory, become significant exporters of the produce of one of the most fertile areas on earth, and built a lucrative market for their well tested armaments. Meanwhile they preserve a symbiotic relationship with the world's superpower, maintain a place in the UN whose laws they despise, and participate in international forums, scientific conferences, sporting and entertainment contests while their high profile critics likely find themselves unemployed and ostracised, and lesser critics humiliated, incarcerated or eliminated. It’s up to the rest of the world to turn on the pressure but, apart from bantustans of worthy opposition, the rest of the world remains somnolent, stirred to open an eyelid only for a Muslim adulteress or 5 thieving murderers sentenced in accordance with ancient Islamic laws.

  • Netanyahu appoints Ayelet Shaked—who called for genocide of Palestinians—as Justice Minister in new government
    • One finds these morally challenged attitudes more or less everywhere, but usually in isolation or in insignificant minorities, Israel seems to have concentrated them to the point where they have become the significant majority. This person's appointment demonstrates that the Israeli political system has become something of a pantomime, and that may provoke some who have been turning a blind eye to pay more attention. Germany, which for historical reasons has long been in a delicate position now has a younger population which no longer feels the same sense of personal responsibility for the actions of the fast distancing past. Der Spiegal has an interesting analysis of this related to Netanyahu's election:

      This puts German politicians in a moral dilemma: How should they deal with a country that is constantly pursuing a regime of occupation and whose treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories occasionally resembles apartheid?

      The response to this kind of appointment can only serve to resolve the 'dilemma' for them, and where Germany goes others cannot afford not to follow.

  • Palestine’s moment of truth for the International Criminal Court
    • Law and Justice are quite separate. Law is rules defining the way identifiable groups agree to abide. Justice is an abstract concept differently perceived by different groups and even by sub-groups and individuals. If a law is overwhelmingly regarded as unjust by the group whose behaviour if defines, it can be discarded or modified, many Western laws against homosexuality would be an example. Obviously Israelis do not consider themselves members of the group to which many international laws are deemed to apply, and they are far from alone in that, and therefore they feel no compunction to abide by them. Nor do they share the same concepts of Justice. Most international laws are loosely or less loosely based on Christian values and Israelis are not Christians. Therein lies the rub, less in any malfeasance at the ICC which must follow the letter of the Law rather than the Justice it may reflect but does not automatically enshrine.

  • EU must take stronger action to sanction Israel following high court decision banning boycott
    • You are right. But the roots of BDS are still in the ground. Corporations divest, not because the CEO has suddenly seen a light on the road to Damascus but because it becomes commercially beneficial to do so or potentially damaging not to, nor are sanctions deployed unless electorates demand them or are buttered up sufficiently to go along with them.

    • The EU is not in a position to institute anything like that. It's not that kind of political organization. It's not its job. BDS is a people thing, it has to come from the public. Retailers could do it, and would if enough of their customers demanded it.

  • David Horowitz gets free rein in 'Daily Cal,' which ignores hate campaign against SJP
    • Positing a threat often actually creates it because it invokes a response to it. This has been known since the beginning of demagoguery. The Nazis were masters of it. Gustave Gilbert in Göring's jail cell during the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials (18 April 1946)

      Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

      Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

      Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

      The thought has been nagging me for some time but reading all this I see that those like David Horowitz are creating antisemitism, they are conjuring it where it doesn't exist and calling on a knee jerk response to it. I wonder where he learned how to do that?

  • Understanding the Jewish National Home
    • Let those Jews go to Palestine so we are rid of them That is indeed the attitude that dominated at the time. The notion that anyone 'thought' the Zionists would live in peace with the indigenous inhabitants is as fanciful as the 'thought' itself. The process was not thought, it was the abandonment of thought in favour of peace and quiet from relentless importunity. That is how it earned the definition 'the Jewish problem', the problem was not finding them a home but ending their persistence.

      And I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him because he is a friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

      Luke 11:1

      I am old enough to remember.

  • Netanyahu played 'decisive' role in Senate bill aimed at stymieing Iran deal
    • Hophmi, You may be misreading the basis of these negotiations. Iran has ever made it clear they went into them to get the sanctions lifted. That's like buying a house or whatever. The negotiations are about the price, in this case the nature and amount of assurances the other side requires before agreeing to lift sanctions. Either terms are agreed and the sale is goes through or they are not and it doesn't. As for those who harp on about the harm sanctions are doing to the Iranian economy, which nation's economy is not troubled? While the West in simply losing commercial benefits Iranian ingenuity is opening up a whole new set of economic opportunities, so it is will be a pity for them if the sale doesn't go through but not the end of the world. Besides, Europe will probably lift their sanctions, or just let them fall away, so Peugeot and others will be back in Tehran while US corporations pace the hall, helpless as expectant fathers.

  • Obama got Senate to reject 'two of Netanyahu's demands' on Iran (but the 'NYT' won't touch that angle)
    • Shingo, I agree, no one who actually knew anything about Iran's nuclear activities believed they were developing nuclear weapons, but a lot who didn't know anything or deliberately turned facts on their head were insisting they were, as indeed some persons who command media attention do today. To my mind sanctions have ever been to cut Iran down to size as its influence increased after Iraq was clobbered. Then you had the colourful Ahmadinejad, and Iran's alleged involvement with a variety of questionable groups and activities. A great deal was written, and feared, about Israel having a go at Iran and how the consequences would draw the US into a war. That storm threat has largely passed and Western interests, including commercial interests, are now less well served by continued sanctions while much of the rest of the world is increasingly ignoring them and will do so more when the deal is finalised. That would not good for US prestige.

    • it's worth remembering how much closer Israel was to dragging the US into attacking Iran in those days. Ill advised or not, the sanctions did divert that threat. Imagine where we might be now if those bones had not been thrown to the ravenous Tel Aviv.

    • You are quite right, sanctions are double edged. While it may be highly desirable to buy manufactured goods, it can prove crippling not to be able to sell them. The Chinese benefit most and it's not just the business but the cultural influences that go with it. Here's an interesting analysis of the effect of sanctions on the Iranian car market of which Peugeot used to have 26%.

  • White House 'trolls' Netanyahu by co-opting infamous UN cartoon to sell Iran deal
    • It's neat. However, unless the sanctions are lifted in a manner that only the UN Security Council could reverse the Iranians won't sign it, and cracks are now appearing in that supposition. The EU has just re-imposed a whole bunch of sanctions for another year. So far, although the Iranians support negotiation, they do not trust the US not to say one thing and do another. If they find confirmation the sanctions will not be lifted they may not even stay the course. They thought that's were the deal was going but the things Obama has been saying since the joint announcement last week are giving them second thoughts. Your 47 Congress persons may have nothing to fear after all.

  • Hurt by the Israel lobby, Obama kisses it goodbye
    • There's an old Spanish saying: If you see your enemy up to his waist in water, help him out. If he's up to his neck, push him under.

  • Now Obama needs to 'compensate' Netanyahu -- NYT pipes Israeli propaganda (Update)
    • Bandolero

      Your perspective raises the question how ready the Saudis might be to fall in line. If you pour highly sophisticated weapons into an area for decades you inevitably call into being a significant new social pyramid, a large element of which necessarily includes an elite highly trained and motivated group of younger men to operate them, a group psyched up to look for trouble and respond to it. Something like an unstable Fukushima may have been created in the area and I wonder if the US alone can stabilise it now it has started to rumble.

    • Denis, There will be no win for anyone. The game is timeless. The only end would be the overthrow of the board and there is only one entity to whom that might even occur.

  • 'She speaks the truth:' Palestinian leftist parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar arrested in early-morning Israeli raid
  • DEAL!
    • It seems to be advancing just fine. It should proceed at its own pace. It would be counterproductive to rush it. There's a great deal more being explored here than just Iranian nuclear activities as Netanyahu knows and fears.

  • A pessoptimistic view of the Israeli elections
    • Pessoptimism, indeed! Voltaire must be turning in his grave.

      The treatment of Palestinian Israelis, and the illegal occupation of land that is not legally Israel are two quite separate issues and, except that they may derive in some way from the same Israeli mindset, they have no other connection. Any effort to try to combine them obscures their distinction as if the main problem with the occupation is that occupied Palestinians live in an apartheid situation. It is, of course, nothing of the kind, it is the flagrant disregard for international law that matters first. It is not necessary to have any particular affection or even sympathy for the inhabitants of Gaza to want to see international law respected. BDS may have made some Israelis consider the direction their society is headed but that is Israel's business whereas ending the occupation is an international matter of dispassionate law. I don't imagine much of the world cares what kind of society the majority of Israelis make for themselves so long as it's not so outrageous as grossly to offend humanitarian norms in the manner of South Africa. What is not acceptable is to pick and choose which bits of international law they are prepared to accept, they do not have that right; it would make for a hideously dangerous precedent. They can defy the law, which is what they do, but they cannot change it to suit themselves, and its progress can be inexorable as they should know from the persisting pursuit and prosecution of WWII criminals.

      We come back of course to the US role in all this and that is where the first real weakness will appear: This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. The Europeans have increasingly had enough of Israel's behaviour; it offends ordinary people and also arouses genuine compassion. It is becoming a serious political embarrassment to European leaders. Furthermore Europeans increasingly question other unconnected US actions; the sanctions on Russia which have decimated areas of southern European agriculture and disrupted important northern European commercial interests. No one I know gives two figs if the Crimean people want to join Russia, or some of the Eastern Ukrainians either for that matter. Then we have sanctions on Iran for it's totally unproven pursuit of nuclear weapons, sanctions which have seen massive losses in European trade more than counterbalanced by increasing Iranian trade with the Far East. What is the point of that many are asking. Now, to add insult to injury, we are expected to accept the policy dictates of a renegade bunch of ignorant US legislators. Shortly we are likely to see a resumption of European trade with Russia willy nilly, and a swarm of European CEOs descending on Tehran in their private jets. When that happens, serious sanctions agin Israel will be appear on the agenda,

  • American Jews are taking back their power from Israel
    • The target of BDS is precisely to get the settlements dismantled. BDS is a peaceful movement, it doesn't anticipate driving the settlers away with tanks and bulldozers but by encouraging socio/cultural ostracism and escalating economic incentives. I see no reason why that shouldn't succeed in achieving serious emigration with no immigration. Whatever happens there will remain Jewish migrants but Palestinians are not likely to seek to persecute them or deny them human rights. There is no Palestinian equivalent to Zionism. In fact no civilized people has anything quite like it.

  • Who can save Israel now?
    • This latest confession from Netanyahu about a Palestinian state seems inextricably linked to the Iranian negotiations which, if they succeed, will significantly undermine Israel's quasi-papal role as the US' sole representative in the area.

      PSAKI: Based on the prime minister’s comments, the United States is in a position going forward where we will be evaluating our approach with regard to how best to achieve a two-state solution.

      Oh, and:

      The defeat of the Zionist Union, ostensibly committed to negotiations and a two-state solution, should not, therefore, be read as the defeat of any genuine desire for peace, but as an increasing desire amongst Israelis to abandon the pretence that they seek anything other than permanent violent colonial domination of the indigenous Arabs.

    • Phil hits the nail, this does indeed show the world exactly what Israelis have become. Strange they should demonstrate it so unequivocally when others have lost their livelihoods and more for even hinting at it. For years the truth was obfuscated, now the mask has dropped overnight, just like that. Well, he has earned himself another term, but at what a price, talk about cutting off a nose to spite a face. In a way it's a sad outcome but at least the decks have been cleared, Netanyahu's credibility as a participant on the world stage has vanished, and if Western relations can normalize with Iran the whole thing may even work out to have been for the best.

  • Netanyahu's accomplishment: Consolidating support for negotiations with Iran
    • This untidy politicking makes a bad impression on the rest of the world where it tends to diminish respect for US authority. The appearance of Israeli meddling may also contribute somewhat to loosening restraints that hitherto confined latent antisemitism to its kennel and largely kept BDS related preoccupations off the front boiler. Many 'ordinary' Europeans, particularly those involved in manufacturing and agriculture, are far from happy about the effects of sanctions on Russia, and are already disgusted by Israel's oppressions of Gaza. We'll see as the year unfolds.

  • Over one quarter of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress consisted of applause and standing ovations
    • I found myself transported to a time I took my young nephew to a Christmas pantomime; the orchestrated screams of delirious 6 year olds and adults with faces like Nancy Pelosi.

  • Thanks to Netanyahu, Israel support turns into a political football
    • The ovations Netanyahu evoked during his earlier address and his beaming self-satisfaction can hardly (correct me if I'm wrong) have been welcomed with enthusiasm by the majority of Americans whatever they actually made of the whole business. They certainly raised eyebrows elsewhere. The unfolding of these impending circumstances cannot but link back to that occasion. Either by itself might not have meant that much but cumulatively is enough to attract suspicion particularly when other unconnected recent impressions are mixed in the brew. It reminds me of an erstwhile neighbour who killed her husband. She got away with it in a highly ingenious way but will be unlikely to do so if she tries it again.

  • How two Palestinian Americans plan to PIVOT the world
  • Netanyahu claims to know 'details' of Iran deal -- and State Dep't mocks him
    • Even if he does know, it's another bit of cheek to flaunt it like that.

      Did you notice what strikes me as a note of dismissive irritation in the DOS exchange Phil quotes above.

      QUESTION: Is it more important to get – for the Administration to get a deal with Iran than it is to have good relations with Israel and the prime minister?

      MS. PSAKI: We think it’s important to get a good deal with Iran and with the P5+1, and that will not only make the United States safer; it will make Israel safer.

  • One-state 'fantasy is very dangerous' because it cannot tell us what the military looks like -- Manekin
    • Walid, Owning property and living in it are quite separate; it's perfectly possible to own real estate in some country other than your own; it can be an investment and you are even free to rent it out so long as you pay the appropriate taxes. Were I Abbas, I would start the drafting of a Palestinian constitution, inviting the widest contributions from all over. What a challenge for the human intellect. And what an Israeli thing to do, divert the debate to a totally different subject. Maybe a Palestinian constitution could achieve what we all hoped post-war Israel would do, provide the world with a blueprint for a coherent, peaceful future.

    • An Israeli could well have bought land, but wouldn't whether he or she could live on it be a matter of residential qualification?

    • If one state included an autonomous region for those Jews who for whatever reasons prefer to live in isolation then the remaining mix would probably work itself together in time. But if that is unacceptable to Israelis then they should simply withdraw behind their borders, and the right of return and treatment of their Palestinian citizens can be dealt with piecemeal later. Finding the 'right' solution doesn't seem to me the issue, the issue is that the Israeli occupation, exacerbated by their actions, is illegal and flouts International Law in much the way Netanyahu flouts diplomatic norms. The BDS movement is not concerned with one state or two but with getting Israelis back behind their designated borders. In effect they are squatters and the fact that many have put down roots is no one's fault but their own. The only thing that calls for negotiation is the time scale for withdrawal and other practical matters of an humanitarian and logistical nature, and that planning should start urgently under international supervision since just because they drove people from their homes at gun point doesn't justify doing the same to them. Indeed the more sympathetically their upheaval can be handled the better its legacy will be. But no further time should be wasted dancing around the issue.

      By the way, the Spiegal interview with Isaac Herzog (referenced by Phil) shows perfectly clearly that Israel will never accept international norms whatever the forthcoming electoral result. In fact he comes across more insidious, and therefore more dangerous, than Netanyahu. A real snake in the grass.

  • US and Israel divorce rumors over Iran
    • Kay24, “Have we EVER seen anything like this anywhere in the world?”

      I have long been tantalised by the notion of a parallel between Rhodes/Rome and Israel/US. Rhodes was well sited for Rome strategically, and flourished as a protected ally, the main Mediterranean slave market, and an open trading centre. Polybius describes how after the great earthquake ...not only did they comport themselves in such a way as to receive lavish gifts but the givers themselves felt that a favour was being bestowed on them. However, in the Third Macedonian War Rhodes' absolute loyalty to Rome appeared doubtful and she fell from Roman favour. Unaffected by anything that had passed before, Rome simply encouraged Delos to set up a free port and markets, which pulled the economic carpet from under Rhodes' feet and her revenues dropped over 80%.

  • No one's talking about peace in Israeli election, U.S. liberal Zionists are warned
    • JeffB, Hanin Zoabi addresses this issue in the RT interview linked by Phil above.

      Zoabi: The three main political streams have come together in the United Arab Party. No one has given up their ideology or political platforms. Nationalists in Balad still believe in a state for all of its citizens. The communists still believe in two nation states [for Jews and Arabs] as a solution, which we [in Balad] disagree with. The Islamists still do not believe in gender equality.

      We are facing the hardest right-wing political campaign in Israel's history. The micro-level strategic differences are not the most important issues right now. The situation on the ground is that Israel is confiscating land and demolishing homes; Palestinians are enduring violence and poverty; and Arab Knesset members and political activists are being persecuted.

      In a dire situation we all come together whatever our otherwise differences.

  • Dear Mr. Netanyahu, please don't cancel your speech
    • A legislator at a loss might simply send regrets with an apology, and perhaps a promise not to waste a single minute studying the transcript.

  • Ari Shavit pimps AIPAC in Scarsdale
    • @Walid, Beware of false syllogism – that's all.

      Israel puts me in mind of the unsinkable Titanic with Europe the ice flow breaking away from the US. I live in Spain; Southern Europeans are very unhappy about these Russian sanctions; farmers have had just about enough

    • PS It's already anti-Semitic to be anti-Israel. How long before it becomes anti-Semitic to be anti-US?

    • @Walid, I take mild issue with the notion that because the Shia are 'as a rule anti-Israel' they are 'by extension Anti-US'. There is a lot of anti-US sentiment in the world and it is growing but I doubt much has its roots in US support for Israel. The US supports all sorts of unsavory regimes and practices, Israel is just another of them. The reason I raise this is that it smacks of the tendency insensibly to claim any negative event or action as anti-Semitic; the list is endless but WWII is the most distressing example (to me) and the Charlie Hebdo slaughter is freshest to mind. It reflects an arrogant, totally unsympathetic attitude of which Netanyahu is increasingly the caricature. The danger is people will begin to find it funny and then we are but a step away from Shylock. Anti-Israel and anti-American may well be passengers on the same bus but there is nothing else that unites them.

  • Finkelstein on Joan Peters's legacy (and Dershowitz's legal troubles)
    • As far as I am aware BDS has nothing to do with either one or two states, rather it calls for the ending of Israel's: occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall. Once that is accepted it would, surely, be entirely up to the parties what degree of compromise or mutual cooperation they chose to pursue.

  • Congress invites Netanyahu to rebut Obama on Iran, and White House slams 'breach of protocol'
  • #JeSuisUnJuifBritannique
    • American. These are essentially inter-sectarian Jewish issues, and most non-Jews are really not bothered about them. Does it matter to Europeans if a Jew juggles divided loyalties? What matters is Israel's defiance of international law in regard to its boundaries and actions. It's like having an anti-social neighbour who has gone too far. Israel forces itself on world attention and is a nuisance, people want peace and quiet. Of course the world is full of evil and unpleasantness but most of it runs in the background and there is little to be gained expending emotional energy on things you can't do anything about, you just have to work around them. I don't think most Europeans conflate Zionists and Jews any more than they do Scots pro or anti independence. The problem is that Israel is an irritant and should be sorted out by the authorities; most of us hope it will be with the steps Abbas is taking and accept that in the meanwhile we just have to put up with it. But we don't have to like it and there is not an iota of sympathy for Israel's behaviour whatever nonsense our leaders espouse. Pieces like this, I regret to say, I put in the same inter-sectarian category. There may be more daubing of synagogues and so on but it's from a small group, certainly not representative of the people at large, and it runs along with anti all sorts of other groups. Suggesting it is somehow exclusively anti-Semitic, or looking at it from an predominantly Jewish perspective, obscures the fact that it is one of many symptoms of deeper socioeconomic maiaise, and by diverting attention from the underlying problems it diverts attention from the malaise itself, and the noise it makes doing so is itself an irritant. I understand this is a forum precisely concerned with the Jewish perspective, fair enough, but the issue of equity and peace in Palestine and the desire for the enforcement of international law would be the same were Israelis other than Jews.

    • Few non-Jewish Europeans like Jews collectively and never have, individually is another matter. That doesn't mean they dislike Jews, simply that there is no special nisus of affection which is what it seems people like Netanyahu demand. It's an absence of the positive rather than anything negative. I don't believe it is peculiar to Jews either, nor do I think polls like this do anything useful by forcing people to give opinions on issues they normally don't think about. The question about marrying a Jew is typical since it assumes anyone gives two figs about such things and overlooks the fact that in the real world the response would depend entirely on the individual and the circumstances.

      Thirty years ago most people still saw Israel as an admirable project of healing and renewal for a people broken by the Holocaust

      Not really. Disillusion was evident long before and rife by the early 70s. The majority of British after the war had no such thoughts either, being less concerned about 'healing and renewal for a people broken by the Holocaust' than simply being able to forget about them and relegate what was referred to as 'the Jewish problem' to the past. A smaller group of largely left wing intellectuals were hoping to see a new social structure arise from the ashes of the immediate past, a kind of blue print for a peaceful. postwar future. Most are dead, only a few linger in the estuary, perhaps just as well or the first would feel frustrated and the second would be deeply disappointed.

  • US calls ICC decision to investigate Gaza 'tragic irony'
    • If the ICC determines something should be investigated then obviously it should be. The US/Israel opposition is par for the course and not worth more than a shoulder shrug from most of us. The approach surely has an effect on middle class Israelis and by extension on the upcoming elections. I confess ignorance of Israeli politics but it seems to me likely to strengthen the Netanyahu stance among some while giving considerable pause to others and thereby become seriously polarising. Since all the Palestinians including Hamas apparently accept the ICC it also raises the broader question among observers, What are the Israelis so worried about? Dirty linen?

  • ICC opens war crimes inquiry into Israel over Gaza war as Palestinians prepare another UN resolution
    • Abbas proceeds step by careful step. Meanwhile in the shadow of the patently illogical rejection of the last application to the UN, and Abbas' current preparation of another, the US, EU, UN and Russia are driven to hold a conference on Israel/Palestine later this month For some time I have sensed that Obama is seeking to make the whole thing more an international issue, release sole hold on it. The US is less dependent now on oil imports, Saudi Arabia is heading for a cliff, and many other Persian Gulf states are in the kind of turmoil that cannot simply be rolled back however aggressive their regimes. Day by day Israel offends more of the world arousing askance even from those with no particular interest in Palestine. Impressions are cumulative, babies freezing to death in Gaza...Netanyahu's loutish behaviour before the world's leaders and cameras at the otherwise solemn occasion in Paris. One begins to have a real sense the Zionist days are numbered, precisely what Khomeini predicted when he arrived in Tehran from Paris, “this regime occupying Quds must vanish from the page of time”. One of the most bizarre aspects of this is Netanyahu et al attempting to promote antisemitism in an attempt to justify their actions.

  • Netanyahu crashes Paris unity march, French gov't fumes
    • Thanks, Walid, I suspected it might be just one of those odd things odd people do and quite without further significance.

    • This further demonstration of Netanyahu's ill-manners will do him irrevocable harm in Europe, and it will do so among those don't adopt any particular stance on the problems of the ME. It has probably done more to illuminate the difference between a Jew and a Zionist than all the extrapolations I have ever read anywhere. What civilized European, let alone Jew, could possibly want to relocate somewhere under such a barbarian. Those who complain of a status quo might consider how graphically this event will have changed European perceptions. Those who keep Hollande's ratings down in the 30s still distinguish the man from the role of Head of State which is a national symbol above personality.

    • Walid, I know little about these things but does the perceived offence lie in publishing a picture of a female? If so, removing Merkel could have been little more than not walking under a ladder.

  • Don't let's go to the war of civilizations again
    • I think there may be something going on a bit deeper than civilisation war. The behaviour of invaders has always been bloody and ruthless. Cities were traditionally given over to plunder, rape and pillage, it was a way of 'paying' and otherwise rewarding the soldiery, and was traditional in ancient times, alive and well in the 19th century, going strong in WWII and still evidenced in many places today. Even the victims had no real notion their sufferings were 'wrong' in some abstract moral way, such concepts simply didn't exist. That's why selective passages from Joshua have no relevance today. His has always been human behaviour in war and territorial expansion and still is. What is different today is the imposition of a compassionate humanitarian dimension by outside observers, even enshrined in the Geneva Convention. This is all quite new and may have had its birth in the Nuremberg trials. What it does is split aggression in two, making one half illegal, and by extension open to time consuming debate, while leaving the other free to proceed as before. It's like differentiating between rape with or without a condom. We are more frequently preoccupied by Israeli treatment of Palestinians than their theft of Palestinian land and resources, more desirous of bringing individuals to justice in a remote court than kicking Israelis the hell off Palestinian land. I believe pervasive hypocrisy not only allows the continued oppression of Palestinians, but feeds corresponding acts like the Paris slaughter. Just read the tortuous circumlocutions of Jen Psaki among others responding to almost any question and consider why anyone should feel constrained to adopt abstract moral norms the US clearly eschews.

    • Such a policy is essential, like keeping a cover over honey, else it attracts bugs and spoils.

  • Is Abbas’ war crimes bid against Israel a big bluff?
    • If you might chart global attitudes towards Israel over, say, Obama's term of office would it not show a descending trend approaching the critical?

    • The US, Abbas, and Israel don't have the whole beach to themselves. In fact it's getting crowded and they will be increasingly obliged to pay some attention to others. I sense that Obama has been attempting to relinquish the central role by encouraging Europeans to adopt independent positions. European government debates in favour of recognising the State of Palestine are often described as 'symbolic' but they are part of European parliamentary procedure and an important indication of the way the wind is blowing. Europeans are much less indoctrinated politically and their leaders need to heed them more than may be the case in the US. US inspired sanctions against Russia not only cost Europeans painful sums but they are also destroying important links that took many years to establish. They are not popular.

      Europeans do not like Jews. By this I don't mean they are anti-Semitic, or even that Europeans dislike Jews, simply that they do not have positive feelings about them collectively. I used to think Israel's actions might provoke latent antisemitism in Europe but I now think almost the opposite, that the absence of positive feelings towards Jews makes it easier to focus negativity on Israel, negativity fed, oddly enough, by totally unconnected, burgeoning negativity to the US. It is not necessary to be pro-Palestinian to be anti-American and anti-Israel. I believe Abbas is doing the right thing, proceeding by careful steps in a transparently legal and responsible manner while allowing US/Israeli reactions to be exposed for exactly what they are.

  • How a tweet about Gaza children went viral round the globe
  • State Dep't threatens aid to Palestinians over ICC, but holds out no consequences for Israel's settlements
    • What Psaki would say is 'I am not getting into hypotheticals', which is her standard response to any 'what if' question. The fact is the US does apply double standards in the same way Gadaffi used to break wind vociferously and there is nothing can be done about it. However, blatant hypocrisy is unattractive and it is worth bearing in mind that it is not necessary to be pro-Palestinian to be anti-hypocrisy and by extension its perpetrators. I used to worry that Israel's actions would engender antisemitism but the greater danger is US actions releasing anti-Americanism.

  • Pro-Israel Congress members threaten aid cut-off in response to Palestinian ICC bid
  • Israeli settlers attack US consulate convoy in the West Bank (Updated)
    • Fascinating interpretation. Almost reads as if the US consular officials should be reprimanded for going about their business without settler clearance.

  • 'You are part of the problem, not the solution': Open letter to the editors of The New York Times
    • Having just read Cohen's piece after reading the comments here, and approaching it expecting it would arouse my ire, I found it otherwise. Obviously he spent little time there but his impressions seem basically sympathetic. The statement that Gaza is 'nowhere' is clearly a metaphorical expression, like saying something is 'in the middle of nowhere' obviously he knows it is somewhere as he is writing about visiting it. While having every sympathy for the lucid author here, I feel he may be overreacting. Cohen, like many, believes the situation can be resolved by conscientious effort and negotiation. Personally I don't, I consider his position naive, fanciful. To me the only solution is for the Israelis to be driven out of the occupied territories by escalating isolation and BDS pressure and anything else is a waste of time and a diversion of purpose.

  • Fireworks in Ramallah, as Abbas signs treaty to join International Criminal Court
    • Walid, I agree. But it doesn't matter much. Retribution is not what it's about. Joining the ICC itself strengthens the PA hand and causes grief in Tel Aviv. It's like crossing thin ice, every move, however small, must take you safely in the right direction. BDS is less of an attack, more an effort to weaken Israel within. Furthermore, this move has actually taken Obama somewhat off the hook without precipitating the storm a veto or even abstention would have provoked. He has been actively trying to get the Europeans to pick up the baton and, teleologicaly, this development might even have been a cooked up between him and Abbas.

    • What is surprising is the expression of so much surprise. Abbas has done exactly what he said he would do in the progression in which he said he would do it, and in consequence he appears honourable, straightforward and reasonable. Oranges are not just for doing business with, they can be eaten.

  • Palestinian resolution fails at the Security Council, U.S. votes against 'staged confrontation' at the UN
    • Even had the effort succeeded there is no one to make it happen. Neither Israel nor the US pay any attention to UN resolutions. The big wide world though will look on this as unfair and that will bolster BDS which is the only sure route to justice. Squeeze them till the pips squeak. When saner or more fearful Israelis begin to emigrate the tide will have turned.

      Meanwhile life goes on. Palestine is playing Japan on the 12th. Jordan on the 16th and Iraq on the 20th in the Asia Cup. It doesn't seem to me those matches will be broadcast by ABC.

      but if the team gets through to the quarter finals they will be on:

  • Israel's upcoming elections and the false nostalgia of Liberal Zionism
    • OT. Palestine playing Japan in the Asian cup on Monday, January 12, in Newcastle Australia.

    • It has long seemed to me there are two quite separate issues and conflating them obfuscates both. The first is getting Israel out of the occupied territories, all of them out of all of them. The second is the Israeli treatment of its non Jewish citizens. They should get the hell out of the occupied land, and treat all their citizens equally and I have never understood what there is to negotiate about either. Zionism may well be the motivation for Israel's behaviour but I don't see what motives have to do with it since no motive. not even convinced faith in a flat earth, justifies occupation. Kerry is again rabbiting on about Israel's security, which is absurd as anyone with eyes and ears sees it is the Palestinians' security which is undermined to the point of non-existence.

  • Alumni of the Israel Arts and Science Academy call on others to refuse military service
    • Is there a danger it would lead to an army with a higher level of psychopaths, totally undiluted by even the faintest humanitarian sanity?

  • You're on a roll, Mr. President, so abstain from vetoing the Palestinian bid to the UN Security Council
    • But that is his chosen task. He is President of the United States. No man sits upon a greater throne. Bow before him.

    • It seems to me six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. Whatever Obama does will not be done for the Palestinians or for justice, human rights or any other 'noble' purpose but simply for US interests like everything else. The Cuban manoeuvres are simply a way to abandon the failed sanctions for the recently proven Ukraine regime change route. Looking at the situation in the ME, including the current political frangibility of Jordan, its streets filled with anti-Israel oil deal demonstrators, Obama cannot possibly want to do anything to promote another anti-American Arab state in the ME. On the other hand, the tide is coming in and he can't stop it. He's stuck in the middle, what's known in chess as Zugzwang, a situation where whatever he does will be to his disadvantage. His solution is to seek to void having to make a move at all.

  • Obama took on the Cuba lobby-- when will he take on the Israel lobby?
    • Obama acknowledged that sanctions didn't work, and such honesty seems rare in this world today. They didn't work because they didn't achieve the regime change that was their purpose. By lifting them he obtains greater access to all levels of Cuban life and can better embark on a different strategy to achieve the same end, quite likely the one honed in Ukraine. Watch this space. Dust down La Nuland. It shouldn't cost the US tax payer anything like 5 billion this time.

  • Jordanian-Palestinian resolution to the UN Security Council gives US and Israel wiggle room
    • Citizen, Thanks for that link. Aside from Ali Abunimah's sound reasons, it would surely help the cause to have so much Israeli linen up there on the line for the world to see.

    • If the US does use the veto, I understand Abbas has stated his next step will be the ICC. If he is driven to that he will appear to the world to have bent over backwards to accommodate US and other sensibilities and Netanyahu could well find himself bent over forwards.

  • U.S. seeks to counter Palestinian UN resolution with alternative offer, says French diplomat
    • Right, wrong, legal, illegal, none of these has much to do with the outcome, it's who wields the most muscle that determines such things. The US is weakened and corrupted by politics and war but is still remains the greatest power, its military and economic tentacles reach everywhere and until the US wants the Palestinians to have their land and independence they can only inch their way towards it. At this point I cannot see the US accepting an independent Arab nation in the area whatever the rest of the world may decide. Look what it's doing to Syria.

  • As Kerry and UN press on occupation, Netanyahu sees a 'diplomatic assault'
    • Obama has certainly been sending signals to Europe. For some time the DOS response to questions about Israel's actions has been that the issue is not up to the US alone, that there are many other countries involved. What is that if not a nod and a wink? Of course, Obama can't do anything directly against Israel but he can certainly stand by while others do. It has long been inhibiting pressure on US allies that allowed Israel to act as it has been doing. Once the pressure is released the Europeans become free to respond in their own way and recent Parliamentary votes show clearly what that is. Many call these debates 'symbolic' but they are not symbolic, they are an integral part of European parliamentary systems and date from Roman times when the senate might debate an issue that would be recorded but would not take effect. The process was called auctoritas, the purpose being to declare the will of the senate that something be done.

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