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Director of the Interfaith Freedom Foundation, a civil rights and public interest organization that advocates religious liberty for all. Most of our advocacy is for Sikhs and Muslims. In 2008, we took a position supporting peace between Palestinians and Israeli Jews, since we believe there will always be tension between American Jews and Muslims until there is a settlement in Israel/Palestine. We identify the Netanyahu government as the main obstacle to a settlement. I was in union politics (Postal Workers) for ten years, was San Francisco VP during postal strike in 1970. Since then was journalist in Europe and Latin America. Have both Jewish and Muslim daughters, Jewish daughter formerly involved in Reconstructionism and Muslim daughter involved in SJP and BDS at Brown University. Did psycho-social rehab as counselor for 25 years, now retired. Consider myself to be a "progressive/heretical" Christian.. Author of 3 novels and trilogy of nonfiction books outlining my secular theory of aggression and evil; Trauma Bond: An Inquiry into the Nature of Evil in be published in March, 2013, by Psyche books.

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  • Elie Wiesel is Dead
    • Wiesel was complicit in the crimes against Palestinians not in spite of the Holocaust, but because of it. He internalized its evil and acted it out against the indigenous people of Palestine. He also used the Holocaust to advance his own reputation as an author, and as a fraudulent spokesperson for human rights. He precisely embodies the kind of cultural figure whose message we must learn to distrust and despise.

  • Anti-WASP tropes in the 'NYT'
    • This takes us into complex and extremely interesting areas of personality, power and unconscious attitudes. But I don't think you can ever compare antisemitic jokes to jokes about WASPs. Antisemitism is never trivial, because it is about the dark and sadistic side of Christianity that went unchecked for a millennium, culminating in the Holocaust. Anti-WASP jokes are simply an entertainment, greatly enjoyed by many WASPs themselves, myself included.

      That doesn't mean that people can't make jokes about Jews, Jewishness and Judaism, in their own circle of close friends. But the difference all comes down to the aggression at the core of the joke. All jokes are about aggression, in one way or another. A joke about Jews that is filled with loathing or self-loathing is probably going to be antisemitic. A joke about Jews that gently pokes fun at some perceived characteristic probably won't be.

      What makes such jokes extremely edgy is that in real life there is no "they," not really--there are only individuals with feelings, aspirations and reactions of their own. It is when we create a "they" to attack an entire group that the whole thing starts to feel dangerous, and can quickly become extremely negative.

      But even generalized jokes can also be extremely helpful. I lived for twenty years with a German Jew who made one joke after another about WASPs, and I simply loved the dynamism of it, and the hilarity. (Because, folks, WASPs really ARE funny, and the nicer they are the funnier they can be.) The other great partner in my life was a Muslim woman who constantly made jokes about white Americans...again, I loved it, for the very same reason that I loved the Jewish worldview--because it was being lived out in a very real place, as a response to attitudes that weren't even completely understood by the people who acted them out.

      Say what you will about them, jokes about ethnicity and religion are real, at least for the people who are to some extent involved in them. Can we see such jokes as narratives that illuminate our lives without hurting, and being hurt?

  • Jewish community is Humpty Dumpty-- it won't come back together again, and shouldn't
    • One aspect people can't seem to get their heads around is the fact that people in Congress are getting money from AIPAC to vote as Mr. Netanyahu wants them to. Yes, they may have divided loyalties, but what about the money they're getting? Both play a role, but people shy away from discussing the money. It's corruption, pure and simple, and the corruption is coming from the Israel Lobby and from Netanyahu.

      Schumer's defection is a case in point. The guy has been receiving money for years to tell lies about what's really going on in I/P, and to vote as his boss Netayahu wants him to. If activists in the Democratic Party don't do something about his betrayal, no Democratic President in the future will be able to make independent foreign policy. My concern is not so much about what's going on in the Jewish community, but what this corruption is doing to our country and whatever is left of its democratic institutions.

  • Roundtable on the Palestinian solidarity movement and Alison Weir
    • MW is to be congratulated for having this forum. No other website seemed willing to do so.

      I have reluctantly come to the conclusion, finally, that it was necessary to put some distance between Alison Weir and the rest of the Palestinian solidarity movement. After all, JVP, SJP and the entire BDS movement are facing extremely powerful opposition on US campuses this autumn, and perhaps even violence.

      What bothers me most about Weir is this:

      1. When people from a coalition she belonged to approached her, she was unable to make any changes, or acknowledge that any of their points might have validity. You have to be flexible to work in coalition politics.

      2. She demonstrates an extreme lack of sensitivity to the kind of rhetoric that will be most effective in winning people--especially progressives--to our point of view.

      3. You can't allow yourself to be interviewed on the radio by extremists and racists. Simply by appearing on the air with them, you tend to validate their ideas.

      Having said that, I do not agree with the idea, sometimes heard from JVP, that the Israel Lobby is just an extension of American empire. It is en extension of empire, to be sure, but it goes far beyond that, and is especially destructive to American democracy. It seeks to undermine America's best values, split the Democratic Party, and split American Jews; and it will consistently be in alliance with the most irrational and pathological elements of Republican Party extremism. It will never rest until it--and the Republican chicken-hawks--drag the US into war with Iran. That makes it more malevolent than even the gun lobby, and Big Pharma.

      We see the special dangers very clearly in Chuck Schumer's disgusting betrayal of the Iran nuclear deal.

  • Episcopal Church rejects BDS resolutions citing fears divestment would hamper church in Jerusalem
    • "Isn't it wonderful that so many people are leaving the church, and going back to God?"

      Lenny Bruce

      Damn, where is Lenny when we need him?

  • Support Palestinian human rights with the 'fierce urgency of now': An open letter to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
    • I have a bad feeling about this. There is what appears to be an approaching genocide against gay people in central Africa, and Canterbury (and the Archbishop thereof) are feeling appropriately pressured by it. They can't oppose homophobia in Africa too overtly, they feel, or Anglicanism will become the target of mob violence. Furthermore, Canterbury feels that US Episcopalians have been pushing the envelope on marriage equality and gay rights way too enthusiastically, again adding to their institutional worries, because it pisses off homophobes in the African governments. (In the process threatening the future of Anglicanism on that continent.)

      My own sense is that the institutional Episcopalian Church in the US is about to do Canterbury a big mitzvah by orchestrating some kind of pathetic "reconciliation" with the famous (and famously corrupt) organized US Jewish community, whose leaders are today mainly fanatical religious nationalists and neocons in all but name. By doing so, the hierarchy in the US hopes to make up for all the headaches American Episcopalians have given Canterbury. They may try to accomplish this, I'm afraid, by bowing down to the Israel Lobby, whilst saying, "See, we're not all that radical." Canterbury will frame it as "reconciliation" with Judaism, whereas their abandonment of the Palestinian people will be simply one more examples of institutional religious complicity with systemic evil.

      On one level there's a huge class angle to this, wherein Episcopalian leaders went to the wall on an upper middle-class white issue (marriage equality and gay rights in the US) but are about to turn their backs on issues involving non-whites (Palestinians and African gays) in the developing world. The right way for a church to handles these things would be to stop balancing issues off against each other, and stand for universal human rights for everybody, all the time. Don't hold your breath.

  • The U.S. is at last facing the neocon captivity
    • Chris Matthews was instrumental in having Phil Donahue fired from NBC. Phil had a profound base among American women and was putting out the antiwar message in a way they liked. Chris, in those days, was attacking liberals for being insufficiently patriotic. Yes, it's good Chris is angry at the neo-cons today, but a great deal of that anger is actually aimed at himself. He knows what actually went down, and the people he hurt. Like so many of these big-time machers on that network, he is a low-rent, bust-out, ratchet-mouth back-stabber.

    • I knew some neo-cons, and was regularly subjected to neo-con arguments regarding the Middle East, when I was on the left. The future neo-cons were active in a caucus within the Socialist Party, then in the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, which was led by Michael Harrington. At the same time many of them were active in caucuses within one or more of the Trotskyist organizations. It was quite fashionable at that time to assume that one could be both a Zionist and a socialist. A fair amount has been written about the neo-cons who were in Trotskyist organizations, but they apparently didn't consider themselves Zionists until later.

      I first became aware of how racist they were while listening to a conversation among several of them about the manner in which Israel was about to create "facts" on the ground with settlements. (Actually, Israel was at that time already engaged in doing so.) One of the women in this group had converted to Judaism because of all the excitement connected with the 1967 war, and the settlement project. She was engaged to a Jewish Zionist who was extremely right wing. They considered themselves socialists, and were supporters of the Labor Party in Israel, but the real emotional orientation was toward an intense and seemingly criminal kind of religious nationalism. I will never forget the look in this woman's eyes when she talked about displacing Palestinians.

      They both went to the right rather quickly, and became part of the neo-con stampede into the Republican Party and its new ideological foundations.

      One analysis that always made sense to me was that becoming a neo-con was part of a process of assimilation by people who found it painful to be Jews. They became good Americans by becoming Republicans, and good Israelis by becoming Likudnik--that is, Revisionist--Zionists. But they left their Jewishness behind, in their mad rush to respectability.

  • Sanders is leftwing on economic issues, but sees Israel as up against ISIS
    • I was in the organized Left in the old Democratic Socialists Organizing Committee as a trade unionist in the 1960s and 1970s, and just a couple of years ago rejoined the Democratic Socialists of America. (In other words, Sanders and I belong to the same organization.) Yes, I know Sanders helped to organize the Progressive Caucus in Congress. But I won't work for Sanders, and I won't contribute a goddamn penny to his campaign. It's always been the same old story, going on almost fifty years now--we have to agree not to talk about Palestinians, and the cultural influence of Zionism and 'the Lobby' in the Democratic Party, because of the donors, and because "one has to make compromises."

      Yes, indeed you do have to make compromises, and my compromise is that I won't do a damn thing for Sanders, because he won't do a damn thing in the most important struggle of our time. The struggle against the constant efforts of a right-wing Israeli state to drag the US into war, the daily fight for Palestinian human rights, and most of all, the struggle for an American foreign policy free of the bribes and corruption of AIPAC dollars--those are THE big moral and political issues of our time.

      Sanders' time is past. And if social democracy can't assert itself on behalf of Palestinians, and against Israeli manipulation, maybe its time is past too.

  • David Horowitz to OSU: 'Jews didn't expel the Arabs in 1948' and 'the occupation is a huge lie'
    • Horowitz was a classic red-diaper baby, his parents being Communist Party members active in many struggles. Like Red Radosh, he became an extremist on the other side of the political spectrum. But there were some special circumstances. Apparently Horowitz introduced a friend, who was an book-keeper, to some individuals who were at the periphery of the Black Panthers. This friend's murdered body was later found in the Bay.

      Horowitz has written at length about the trauma he believed he sustained as a result of this betrayal. Over the years he struggled with it, but evidently the only way he could resolve this issues was to become an extremist of the right--to become the reverse, in his mind, of what he had been before.

      Incidentally, Horowitz is not a conservative. You could call him a representative of the hard political right, but because of his gutter racism and Islamophobia it would be more accurate to call him a neo-fascist.

  • Forgiving the anti-Semites
    • We should never forget what the murderers did, and forgiveness should only enter the picture if it is important to the wronged individual as a part of his recovery. What is important is for individuals and societies to deconstruct the aggression that was internalized during the traumatizing events, or during the frequent political use of those events. If the internalized aggression is not deconstructed, the victim will act it out against new victims, or against himself. And it tends to grow stronger with time, especially if the society supports it.

      The victim-aggressor will systematically use past trauma as the excuse for acting out his internalized aggression. This is called 'traumatic privilege.' If traumatic privilege is institutionalized in a society, it becomes a form of 'destructive entitlement.' Israel is already at this last stage.

      So how does one deconstruct internalized aggression secondary to past trauma?

      There is a new book coming out soon that deals with this very phenomenon. I won't give away the title, because that is still under discussion. But the title, roughly paraphrased, goes something like this: HOW TO BREAK THE TRAUMA BOND, AND BEAT THE HOLOCAUST: TRAUMATIC MEMORY AND THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SYSTEMIC EVIL.

      Stay tuned.

  • In defense of Cornel West's prophetic voice
    • Will always vote for the lesser evil in presidential races because the Republican Party is racist and insane. That, and the fact that the corporate upper class has very successfully used the Federalist Society to pack our courts, and would like to take democracy away from us using the Supreme Court. But electing a Democratic president doesn't change the real juxtaposition of social forces in the society at large, outside of the courts--that kind of change must almost always come from below. Electing a Democrat president simply makes it slightly easier for those who are involved in real movements for change.

      Hate and love of individual leaders has nothing to do with anything, except in the feverish imaginations of various activists. The reality is, regarding the issue that we care most about, electoral politics are not the focus...public opinion is the focus. Israel/Palestine and the religious nationalism that has taken over the political class in Israel, as well as most of the US Jewish leadership, will tear apart the Democratic Party, it will tear apart Judaism, and it will tear apart America, and all the love and hate of presidential candidates won't make a damn bit of difference one way or the other. Deal with it.

  • 'American Sniper' is an antiwar movie
    • I wish this website would have the courage to carry Chris Hedges' review of this toxic and loathsome film. Although I liked the honesty in Phil's take on it, the way he saw it is not the way a great many other people have experienced it.

      You saw it as an antiwar film, Phil, because you're an intellectual. But literally hundreds of thousands of working-class and rural white men will see it as the acting-out of the highest and most noble thing a man can do. What these men love is the precision of the gun itself, and the act of killing someone. The fact that insurgents (and Arabic-speaking people generally) are represented in dialogue as "dirt" makes it morally neutral, but the true enjoyment for many viewers--even those in Iraq, I've heard--is in the killing.

      The American men who see this film--and the Americans that lined the road to honor this man's last trip to the bone-orchard after his pathetic death--tend to see this film as a validation of a growing and dangerous idea in America, the idea that killing Muslims is the highest good to which any real man can aspire. All that angst--the loss of the soul that Phil refers to--simply makes it more authentic, and therefore all the more transcendent. This film is to American gun culture what Triumphe des Willens was to Nazi propaganda, the latter of which was also "just a movie," but one with a highly calibrated purpose. The main difference between the two is that Eastwood's incitement is to some extent unconscious, but like Riefenstahl his films are almost always highly profitable.

  • A place where Palestine doesn't exist (Notes from a Zionist education)
    • Absolutely one of the best things published on this website in some time. The entire issue of political indoctrination of young people is extremely important. For those interested in my account of indoctrination in a "progressive" Hebrew school in the 1960s, see this at the following link:

      The one big difference is that the kids in the Hebrew school in which my children were enrolled objected strenuously--despite the fact that they were quite young--to the anti-Arab racism that they were being indoctrinated with...that, and the fact that in our situation in San Francisco the Holocaust was used very aggressively to justify racism in the Hebrew-language instructional materials.

  • The Minds of Others: An interview with Max Blumenthal
    • Max Blumenthal is one of the most brilliant young intellectuals on the planet. If some good comes out of the horror in Israel, it may be that it brought forth such a good and true voice for justice.

      His riff on whiteness is brilliant. As a couple of people have already noticed, it's not a color, it is a kind of emotional totalitarianism that the whitest people are unfortunately unaware of. (And it's funny as hell--Lenny Bruce would have loved that whole riff.)

      I've lived in Germany--my impression was that the weight of German history was almost impossible for young people to bear. The younger they were, the more conscious they were of the way it was affecting their behavior, thoughts and emotions. I had hoped that would have changed by now. Apparently not.

      The Holocaust still haunts us, and will continue to haunt us. But it is also used by people to get things they want, including those who are bonded to Holocaust trauma as an emotional system as well as a worldview. Sadly, those who find meaning within some traumatic memory, especially those who seek some kind of victim status because of it, have usually internalized the aggression involved in the original trauma and are busily perpetuating the cycle of violence.

      Zionists internalized the anti-Jewish violence of Europe, and are now acting it out against the Palestinians.

      To see one person's understanding of how the US Israel Lobby uses the traumatic memory of the Holocaust in America, see "Traumatic Memory and the Israel Lobby."

  • What is the vision of Jews who want to replace Al Aqsa mosque with temple?
    • These interviews are absolutely first-rate journalism. Thanks to Phil and his crew for producing this incontrovertible evidence of the religious fanaticism that threatens the world.

      Gideon Levy at Haaretz: "Anyone who wants to track the progress Israel has made on the steep slope toward fanaticism, religiosity and backwardness must examine its relationship to the Temple Mount. Anyone who insists on labeling Israel a modern Western country can’t ignore the extraordinary change that has taken place in recent years. And anyone who still thinks this is a nonreligious society must heed the dark and insane forces that motivate it."

      Dark and insane forces...

      The other half of this loathsome equation is the secular nationalists who are promoting these fanatics for their own political reasons. The fundamental orientation that unites the secular and religious extremists is a sadistic desire to harm Palestinians in particular, and Muslims in general. Likud thinks they can "control" the religious extremists...but I'm sorry, once the fire is out of control, you cannot escape, you become part of it.

      I quote again from the website of the Temple Mount Faithful: "Our goal...the building of the Third Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in our lifetime in accordance with the word of G-d and all the Hebrew prophets, and the liberation of the Temple Mount from Arab/Islamic occupation so that it may become consecrated to the name of G-d."

      That's a pretty explicit political goal for a bunch of religious fanatics, don't you think? Let's face it--for this moment in history, both secular and religious fanatics in Israel want the same thing, the same worldwide war, the same disaster for themselves and for the world. They both have the same goal--maximum destruction.

      Can they be stopped?

  • Root cause of current crisis is Israeli government effort since 1967 to transform East Jerusalem into a Jewish city
    • The above interview is informative, but doesn't really deal with the crisis of religious fanaticism that is taking over the mindset of the Israeli political class. What one sees in this interview is the familiar process, forever reiterated by US liberals, of trying to reduce delusional behavior to simple political terms with which the average US liberal can identify. But delusional behavior is not amenable to political and geopolitical language.

      Mondoweiss still refuses to try to get inside the minds of the fanatics who are trying to destroy the Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock Mosques. Electric Intifada is doing so, however, by the simple expedient of interviewing people on the ground.

      Charles Kimball's book WHEN RELIGION BECOMES EVIL gives five warning signs that present themselves when a religious tendency becomes evil. There's more truth in Kimball's psychological and religious analysis that all the political analysis of the above interview.

  • After deadly attack Netanyahu vows ‘iron fist’ as clashes and closures rock Jerusalem
    • Terrific piece in Electronic Intifada by Rana Khalek and Don Cohen on the assaults on Al Aqsa Mosque. They're interviewing people and asking about their intentions, whether they would like to see Al Aqsa destroyed or not, and getting an affirmative quite often.

    • I don't think it is quite accurate to say that the Temple Mount is the site of "two destroyed synagogues." To the Temple Mount activists, it is the former site of the Second Temple. According to all historical sources, the Temple Mount remained undeveloped for seven centuries after the destruction of the Second Temple until the building of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosques in the seventh century. Both are beautiful structures that should belong to all of humankind, as a stunning architectural record of the Abrahamic idea.

      Those leaders of the organized groups that are willing to go on the record agree, Allison, that the endgame after establishing Jewish "sovereignty" on Temple Mount is the destruction of both Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock so that a 'Third Temple' can be built there. Many individuals, of course, may come there simply to pray, as the young fellow you interviewed claims. But the leaders of the organized groups have an agenda that far exceeds sharing the esplanade with Muslims. By now their goals have been widely disseminated among both Jews and Palestinians in Israel/Palestine.

      Here's a statement from the website of the Temple Mount Faithful: "Our goal is the building of the Third Temple on the Temple Mount of Jerusalem in our lifetime in accordance with the word of G-d and all the Hebrew prophets, and the liberation of the Temple Mount Arab/Islamic occupation so that it will be consecrated to the Name of God."

      That's pretty clear, isn't it?

      Therefore, the correct question to people who say they come there "only to pray," would be as follows:

      1. Do you think that the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock should be destroyed so that a Third Temple can be built?

      2. Do you think that this will cause a religious war in the Middle East, and in the world's 50 or so Muslim-majority countries, since Al Aqsa is the third-most holy site in Islam?

      3. How would you respond to a religious war?

      I don't see journalists posing these questions. Without getting them to talk about the endgame, you're engaging in a kind of journalistic shadow-boxing.

      An accurate English account of all the Jewish groups in involved can be accessed in this article by Dr. Saleh Al-Naami at the following website:

      First, to my knowledge ALL of the groups in this article above believe that the so-called 'Third Temple' should be built on the ruins of Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock. Secondly, the Temple Mount Faithful, although it is the oldest of the groups agitating for the destruction of Al Aqsa, has been heavily infiltrated by far-right Christian evangelical groups, and is supported financially by them. They have anticipated the probability of religious war, and welcome it, since the Christian evangelicals believe it will lead to the Second Coming of Christ.

      Many of the Jewish groups acknowledge that there will be a religious war after the destruction of the Al Aqsa Mosque, and are eagerly anticipating it. Others decline to talk about it, perhaps because they don't want people to know their end-game. In the meantime, going to the Temple Mount and pushing one's way into Al Aqsa is the latest craze of the political class in Israel. Lieberman is furious because everybody is getting into the act, and in the process outflanking him on the political right. Look for the Jewish Home people to adopt "sovereignty" over Temple Mount as a major goal, and the entire national-religious crowd.

      What the majority of the leaders of this movement want is the sadistic pleasure of humiliating and causing pain to Muslims everywhere. There are, as I've said before, profoundly destructive and self-destructive emotional orientations at work here.

  • Is Israel the wallpaper in US culture?
    • Netanyahu's behavior is more consistent with Borderline Personality Disorder than Asperger's Syndrome. Borderline folks constantly create crises at critical junctures, in order to check out everybody's reaction to it. Deliberately creating crises or challenging people around them is the way they take everybody's emotional temperature. It also gives them an idea how far they can go before somebody takes action against them. Not that different from Moshe Dayan's idea that Israel should be a "biting beast" that destabilizes the Middle East every so often to get everybody's attention.

  • 'We are in a violent fight with extreme Islam' -- Feiglin leads rightists to pray at al-Aqsa Mosque
    • "However, authorities had difficulty putting a lid on Israeli-rightists attempting to enter the Haram al-Sharif, the location of sites holy to two religions, for Jews the Temple Mount, for Muslims the al-Aqsa Mosque."

      I think the above is not quite accurate--somebody correct me if I'm wrong. The Noble Sanctuary (Haram al-Sharif) contains two structures that are holy to Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. There is another small structure called the Dome of the Chain, and there are some Herodian walls which probably date back to the Byzantine period, but they have no particular value to anyone except a few archeologists.

      My point is that there are two main structures (two 7th-century Mosques) on the esplanade of the Noble Sanctuary. The Al Aqsa Mosque is the third-most holy site in Islam. Jews call the area the Temple Mount, but I don't think there are any Jewish structures there. Not far away is the Wailing Wall, which is a Jewish structure, and there are many other Jewish structures in Jerusalem.

      After the destruction of the Second Temple, the Temple Mount area remained undeveloped for six centuries, after which the two Islamic Mosques mentioned above were built.

      The special significance of the Temple Mount to Jews rests on what many Jews believe once happened there (that the ruins of the Second Temple are buried there), and what they think will someday happen there--that is, they dream of destroying Al Aqsa and building a 'Third Temple' in its place, which they believe will bring about the end of human history and the end of the world. Increasingly various groups of national-religious Jews believe that they have the right to established "sovereignty" over the existing Mosques on the Noble Sanctuary for this reason.

      Since 2010 groups of right-wing settlers have been regularly trying to push their way inside Al Aqsa to perform certain rituals, and in the last two years it has become a crisis. The right-wing settlers have succeeded in getting inside the Mosque on several occasions.

      The real goal of this movement among right-wing Jews, which they have copiously documented on the internet and in books, is to impose "sovereignty" over the Noble Sanctuary, and then blow up, or burn down, the Al-Aqsa Mosque so that they can build a 'Third Temple' on its ruins. They are well aware, of course, the Al Aqsa is the third-most holy site in Islam. which is why they focus so much attention on the area. Their real motivation is to kick off a worldwide religious war between Islam and the West, which they think will end human history, redeeming an evil world in the process. The hideous Christian evangelicals who are helping them think that the resulting chaos will cause the Second Coming of Jesus.

      Furthermore, these same Christian fundies and evangelicals believe that when Jesus returns to earth, he will force all the Jews to convert to their brand of Christianity, but then--wait for it--he will whack out all the Jews that decline to convert to their unattractive and aggressively backward form of Christianity, so that in that manner Jesus will finish the murderous job that the Nazis began at the Wannsee Conference.

      Netanyahu needs the national-religious Jews and the Jewish Home party to win elections. He probably thinks he can "control" the fanatics. The problem is, they have absolute impunity in everything they do, as does Netanyahu himself. Obama apparently knows all about what is going on, but since the press in Israel has imposed a semi-blackout on what is happening, US daily journalism and the entire political class in the US follows suit, so nobody is allowed to talk about it and it never really gets into the news columns.

      This is the nightmare hour for the Abrahamic idea.

  • Al Aqsa mosque is closed off for first time in 47 years as tensions flare
    • It is very hard to make liberals and progressives understand the total danger of the attacks on the Noble Sanctuary (Harim al-Sharif) including both the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Most people in the West don't even know about it. It has been building since 2010, at some times consisting of almost daily attacks by settlers on Al-Aqsa. The intent, of course, is to establish "sovereignty" over the esplanade, and then to destroy Al-Aqsa, setting off a worldwide religious war for the rest of the century.

      Progressives can't take is seriously for the same reason they couldn't take the rise of neo-fascist AM Hate Radio in the US seriously, and the Tutsi intellectuals in Rwanda couldn't take the Hutu Power fascists seriously. Progressives live in a completely different mental universe than the fanatics that do such things. But AM Hate Radio morphed into Fox News, and the Hutu Power rantings on the radio turned into a genocide. The religious-nationalist settlers in Israel are aiming at an even more horrific outcome...but people in the US simply can't believe that it's happening.

      Of course, that is partly because there has been a press blackout on it in Israel, and the New York Times and Washington Post followed suit. Getting information out about this has been impossible. Good people react like robots, apparently thinking that there's nothing anybody can do to stop this grisly invocation of pure religious hatred from playing out.

      The intent by the extremists is to create the maximum anxiety, pain and humiliation for the world's Muslims: Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third-most holy site in Islam. The national-religious settlers say they want to build a 'Third Temple' on its ruins. But the real reason, of course, is that they are hoping to kick off a worldwide religious war between Islam and the West.

      Religious war is the scourge of humanity. It is the ultimate nightmare for me, since I have both a Jewish daughter and a Muslim daughter. The fact that Israelis would ignite such a disaster for humankind suggests profound destructive and self-destructive forces at work. It seems that among some of these fanatics there is an unconscious desire to punish the world for letting the Holocaust happen. Indeed, religious war would be the Holocaust by other means, in which all people of the world would suffer.

  • Andrew Sullivan should stop giving a pass to Sam Harris and Bill Maher's bigotry
    • Islamophobia is no small matter to the Muslims of Oklahoma. The estimated 40,000 Muslims of that great state are currently being attacked by a very organized group in the Republican Party. John Bennett, a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, says that all Muslims in Oklahoma are "just as bad as ISIS," and that Islam is a "cancer that needs to be cut out of America." He has started to hint that there might be mass violence against Muslims unless they convert to Bennett's religion. There is a so-called Counter-Terrorism Caucus in the Oklahoma legislature that was working the anti-Sharia Law angle, and is now promoting the idea that there is a clear and present danger arising from the very existence of innocent Muslim families living in the state.

      The state Republican leadership has given the go-ahead to a full-throttle Islamophobia campaign, and the national RNC is allowing this to go forward. It appears to be a trial balloon effort by the Republican Party to re-brand itself as a neo-fascist, Islamophobic party in the mid-south (Tennessee and Oklahoma mainly at present) in election years especially.
      They had a big meeting at a church a couple of days ago at which Frank Gaffney was the main speaker. Bennett and the other Republican Islamophobes from the Oklahoma legislature were there cheering him on.

      Fox News contributed to the crisis by doing an interview with a mentally disturbed man who claims that a certain Mosque in Oklahoma was teaching terrorism. Everything he said was bogus. Do you think the law enforcement group that paid him to "infiltrate" that Mosque in 2011 will admit that he is making up everything he said? Not likely, not if the law enforcement is local. That Fox News interview was the lowest thing I've seen yet from Fox. It, along with the harangues of the Republicans in state government, are putting lives at risk in a state with a lot of ignorance, a lot of good old boys, a lot of economic misery, and very little organization on the part of progressives.

      Most of the people spewing the increasingly violent rhetoric against these innocent Muslims families are right-wing evangelicals. It's very hard to get a platform to make the case for religious liberty, because daily journalism is hard right Republican, and there is a total of one alternative weekly in the whole state, and it is backing away from the whole controversy. NPR is unreliable since they sold out to the Koch Brothers, and there is a very active right-wing talk show "host" who is promoting a violent hard line against Muslims. So how do progressives organize to make the case for religious liberty, and the basic human rights of the beleaguered Muslim community in the state of Oklahoma?

      If you have ideas about progressive individuals, media or organizations in Oklahoma that might help oppose these blatant calls for violence against innocent Muslim families, please write to the Interfaith Freedom Foundation with any ideas you may have.

      Write to [email protected] or [email protected].

  • Tablet types Rev. Shipman as elite, anti-semitic WASP
  • Read the genocidal sermon a notable Atlanta rabbi gave this Rosh Hashanah
    • Yes, this is incitement, and in endless wordy variations thereof...Lewis appears to be a kind of verbose Thomas Wolfe of religious bigotry. And he's only the beginning in the incitement department. CHARISMA, a magazine for Pentecostal Christians, has pretty much been taken over by the far right, and has just published an appeal for a holy war against Islam.

      In Oklahoma, a young evangelical Christian politician named John Bennett in the OK House of Representatives has just declared Islam "a cancer that has to be cut out of America," adding that each of the 40,000 Muslims in Oklahoma as "just as bad as ISIS." In his latest speech he also pointed out that there was a Mosque "just three miles down this road," adding helpfully that of course he "wasn't advocating violence, but..."

      I noticed that as soon as I read Lewis' sermon in its entirety I looked again at the photograph of his face, and was shocked that I felt an overwhelming nausea, fear and loathing. Was that perhaps part of Lewis' intent, to inspire disgust? Or is it just that I have both Jews and Muslims in my extended family, and as infuriated for all the obvious reasons? I struggled with a rising anger as I read Lewis' sermon, at least partly because his murderous, self-congratulatory ramblings are technically well-written, overall. I keep thinking that I should have a better emotional response, but there it is. I hope these toxic feelings pass.

      One thing I noticed about Lewis's lengthy sermon was that to him it was perfectly self-evident that everything wrong in the world was somebody else's fault. He is in his own mind a perfectly-idealized victim-aggressor, and because he's so incredibly perfect has no need for introspection of any kind, whether personal or regarding the sins of those in his own community. He doesn't need to make any changes, or do anything. He's already arrived in the nirvana of the victim-aggressor, which in his case, apparently, consists of the opportunity to preach eternal incitement against the Other.

      Rep. John Lewis in Oklahoma, on the other hand, is an ex-Marine who is quite candid about his PRSD, nightmares and other after-effects of combat. But not to worry. While driving alone on a recent road trip, God whispered in his ear that he should run for office. Now he incites an unspecified but unpleasant-sounding violence on all Muslims in the state of Oklahoma. And the state Republican organization, and the Republican National Committee, say absolute nothing about his dangerous hate-mongering. It feels like a Republican trial balloon for re-branding in the mid-south as an openly neo-fascist party.

      Incitement to religious war does not affect my rather heretical faith one way or the other, but it does make my disgust with institutional religion so powerful I can taste it. Damn, what's happening to us? Am I the only one who feels a certain level of despair about this?

      Rep. John Bennett, the young man who called for

  • Freed by Gaza, Spiegelman calls Israel out as a batterer
    • Glad to see that Seafroid mentions Jerusalem Syndrome. "The best known, although not the most prevalent, manifestation of Jerusalem Syndrome is the phenomenon whereby a person who seems previously balanced and devoid of any signs of psychopathology becomes psychotic after arriving in Jerusalem. The psychosis is characterized by an intense religious theme and typically resolves to full recovery after a few weeks or after being removed from the area."

      According to an article in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2000, Christian evangelicals are by far most likely to develop symptoms. Usually what happens is that an intensely religious Christian tourist arrives in Jerusalem, and soon afterwards begins to manifest the psychotic conviction that he is either Jesus, or one of Jesus' disciples. I find it highly significant that treatment could involve being "removed from the area."

      Jerusalem syndrome was first observed in Jerusalem in the 1930s by a local psychiatrist named Heinz Herman. It was sometimes described as "Jerusalem Squabble Poison" (I'm not making this up) and "Jerusalem Fever."

      Someone in my extended family is a psychiatrist in Bangladesh. She reports that Bangladeshis that succumb to psychotic religious delusions often start to think of themselves as "the next Prophet after Muhammad."

      God save us all from the Squabble Poison of institutional religion.

  • Three-sentence letter to the 'NYT' results in Yale chaplain's resignation
    • Of course, there's always been a baseline form of antisemitism in Europe and the US, and it would be there regardless of whether Israel existed or not. But the anger at Israeli apartheid that is being felt here in the US is completely justified, because it is the result of systemic evil practiced by a state--one that we are forced to support with our tax dollars. And all the "leaders" that have gotten power in the organized Jewish community, most of whom are neo-cons in all but name, tend to uncritically support the slaughter in Gaza.

      It is natural, then, that people are starting to get angry at the Jewish organizations, especially AIPAC, and the billionaire donors that have a certain veto power over our politics. And since not everybody has a degree in comparative religion, it is natural that some of that dislike will spill over and end up being directed at ordinary Jews that have nothing to do with public advocacy, or whose beliefs are progressive.

      The unwillingness of Zionists in the US to understand that there is a relationship between what they do and say, and the behavior and attitudes of others, is pathological. What they are really saying is that they are beyond good and evil, and are always right, and everybody that opposes them are wrong and should be driven from their jobs. This is the classic pose of the sociopath, who is never at fault, who is always a victim, whereas everybody else is wrong.

  • Propaganda on Palestine: All-Knowing White Man & Angry Black Woman conjure good Jews and evil Arabs
    • Check out Chloe's website at "Calgary United with Israel" (CUWI). Professionally designed, the writing clearly done by professionals, and a great deal of the research probably coming from Israel. Very, very impressive propaganda for people who don't usually follow international affairs. She's receiving money and other assistance from Stand with US, CAMERA, and the Clarion Fund. Bills herself as a Christian Zionist. This latest letter of Chloe's was carefully staged with Chloe standing in front of what looked like a campus, fist raised in power salute and yelling like hell at all the anti-Semites in Students for Justice in Palestine that are trying to use and co-opt the history of "her people," as she likes to call them.

      The propaganda itself is easily dismissed by anybody with any grasp of the facts, but most Christian Zionists aren't about facts. Most of them tend to assume that sooner or later there will be a religious war. And they're waiting for it, not with great anticipation but assuming that sooner or later it will come. This kind of propaganda is in part aimed at them, preparing them for the day when they will be participants or close Republican supporters of it. There's not as much Islamophobia as I expected on the CUWI website, but astounding amounts of anti-Arab racism.

      There are some things on her blog that reflect a lot of research, as I say, almost surely directly from Israel. A lot of work has gone into it--easily the best pro-Israel blog I've yet seen, partly because it is so clearly aimed at people who usually don't care about such things. She has a great career ahead of her, but the extremely professional, very self-assured tone adopted by this website demonstrates the tough battle we have ahead of us. What neo-Zionism is doing is simply to corrupt everything--religion, civil discourse, politics, everything. Chloe's website is basically one rather silly lie or half-truth after another, but the kind of lies that the low-information voter is likely to believe.

      Usually most liberals tread water a bit when confronted with this kind of effective propaganda. The proper response by progressives is to amp up the resistance to the pro-Palestinian struggle. The best line at present to take is to oppose the loss of American sovereignty in the area of foreign policy. AIPAC controls foreign policy in the Middle East by giving money to elected Congresspersons so they will vote as Mr. Netanyahu wants them to. That's bribery, albeit legal bribery! That's corruption of democracy! And that should be the line taken by American progressives, in my opinion...

  • Berkeley rabbi mounts a soapbox in my living room
    • Nobody seems to understand that this whole round of mass murder didn't start with Hamas shooting rockets at Israel. It started with the arrest of about a thousand Palestinians in the West Bank, which Netanyahu himself admitted was about destroying the new unity initiatives of Abbas and Hamas. Rough interrogation for the kids (yes, a lot of kids were thrown into endless detention), torture for the adults. And four hundred Palestinians were arrested in Israel proper, inside the green line, on trumped-up charges having to do with demonstrating--same deal, rough interrogation for the kids, torture for the adults.

      That's fascism. If you're a Palestinian, Netanyahu's government is fascist.

      Then there were a couple of military operations in Gaza by Israelis, and then--and only then--did Hamas unleash the mainly ineffectual rockets. The Israelis responded with mass murder. My guess is that so many young people in Gaza can't live one more day under the blockade, and for that reason they'll fight to the death. They did it in the Warsaw Ghetto. They'll do it is Gaza. You can push people only so far.

      The opposition in the West Bank will remain mainly nonviolent, but the Israeli sharp-shooters will once against start picking people off. Again, that's fascism. If Israeli Jews want a Jewish state, they have to give the Palestinians one too, or one-vote, one-person. Otherwise the Israeli government must be isolated by the rest of the world as a rogue state, until it becomes a failed state. The world BDS movement must keep making that point, over and and over.

      By the way, if most people at this website haven't yet figured it out, this is going to tear American liberalism right down the middle, and Judaism as well. You simply can't avoid the fact that our politicians are corrupt when you see them voting a hundred to one to support Israeli mass murder. (Even Bernie Sanders, our one elected socialist, voted for the latest pro-Likud resolution.) And it's hard to pretend you're part of a religion when everybody in that religion is worshiping the state of Israel, with its vast system of proxies in the US, its IDF, its weapons of mass destruction, its interrogation centers where torture is practiced on a mass basis, its enslavement of Palestinians and its brutalization of children.

      But I think that such organizations as Jewish Voice for People are designing a new kind of Judaism, in both the religious and cultural sense, one that stands on the right side of social justice, the right side of history. And they are practical enough to make it work. You get the same feeling on this website. It's a time of utter destruction, but it's also a time of hope. When the enemy shows his complete moral degradation, that's the time you start devising an alternative culture.

  • On ‘Death to Arabs’ in Jerusalem & Tel Aviv
    • Jabotinsky modeled his version of Zionism on Italian fascism, even sending some of his people there to study how fascism works. Now we see the rise of far-right gangs of hooligans in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Isn't that how fascism won in Europe? Penetration of the central government with fascist ideas and personnel, with fighters on the street demoralizing the people, so those on the inside could seize power?

      Zionism is not the opposite of fascism, but the outcome of fascism experienced by the Zionist founders, who then internalized its emotional orientations. Ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is not the opposite of the Holocaust, but a continuation of it by other means. If the lunatic Israeli religious parties succeed in causing a worldwide religious war by blowing up the Al Aqsa Mosque, there will be many more than six million dead this time around.

      "The abused child grows up to be an abuser." The victim of secular fascism grows up to be a religious fascist--having internalized antisemitism, they practice it against the Palestinians. It's dialectical, all right, but the people involved aren't conscious of their own motives. Systemic evil is typically acted out not by conspirators, but by sleepwalkers.

  • The heart of the problem with Israel: The mass expulsion of the Palestinian people
    • I think many of us have refrained from referencing this historical reality because we didn't want to get in an argument over "Zionism," whatever that may man now. (Mostly the current uncritical supporters of Israel are what I would call 'neo-Zionists.') But what the Jewish settlers did to the Palestinians, including the very methodical destruction of the 500-600 or so Palestinian villages, is the key to the entire problem. Everything is a continuation of the war of 1948, and the ethnic cleansing that both motivated and accompanied it.

      The Zionists told the world that Jews needed a "refuge" from the world's antisemitism, and then proceeded to create a Jewish state in such a way that it made permanent war inevitable. (Ten wars at the last count, although this current Gaza horror makes it eleven, I guess.) The sheer self-defeating, contradictory nature of Zionist claims are glaringly obvious. Jews needed power to defend themselves, but it was the evil genius of the Zionists to create a state based entirely on the wrong kind of power, a kind of systemic evil that operates like an addiction.

      Christians are often afraid of openly and freely opposing Israeli brutality because they don't want to examine their own antisemitism, which drove Jews from Europe. To examine that might reveal that Christianity is, by its own standards, a failure. Instead they desperately throw money at Israel, hoping they can buy redemption from their own past cruelties in that manner, contributing directly to the corruption of the entire American democracy. The Israel Lobby owns foreign policy in the Middle East, as well as the entire legislative branch of US government.

      But the tide is turning. BDS is the best chance for a break in the right direction. The political class in Israel is rife with neo-fascist and Likudnik ideas; therefore the only way they will ever give the Palestinians a state, or human rights, will be if their own state is threatened. The choice the world should give them is simple: Want a Jewish state? Fine, but to have one, you must give the Palestinians their own state, or human rights with one-person, one vote.

  • Kerry's cowardly apology on 'apartheid' is giant blunder for Israel's propagandists
    • I'm surprised that MW, which has witnessed this so many times, would not know or understand the "two-step" as performed by John Kerry. You float the semantic trial balloon, you wait for 'the Lobby' to go crazy, you make an apology or non-apology, all the while attempting to continue the debate and hopefully creating space for your initiative. Kerry knew what he was doing. He no doubt wrote the non-apology before launching the trial balloon. MW is right that it is a victory for human rights, however--every time the Israel Lobby goes off, it's like a flash of lighting exposing the real distribution of power in the American panorama.

      Please note also the skill with which the non-apology was framed. Kerry specifically said that Israel wasn't an Apartheid state, and that it didn't want to become one, but that it might become one anyway. That's about as far as any American official can go at present, and Kerry did well to take it that far. In the meantime, we all need to support BDS, because under the Likudniks Israel will never give the Palestinians a state, never, until their own state is threatened. Real change will happen because of popular pressure around the world, led by Palestinian civil society and to some extent executed by Europeans who now have Netanyahu's number.

  • Snowden revealed a world of conspiracies I once would have scoffed at-- Bryan Burrough
    • Terry Gross is a propagandist, and a particularly vulgar one. I'll not soon forget her asking Phillip Roth whether he was wearing diapers after his prostate surgery, and whether he was still having sex. She's smart about popular art but is very canny about working the big issues, always taking the conservative side and demanding that her interviewee either agree or disagree with her pet theories. (I've noticed the young people at MSNBC doing the same thing.) That's not interviewing, but auditioning cultural talent to check out their political correctness, especially on Israel/Palestine and the total surveillance state.

      I no longer give money to either public TV or public radio. Let them get it from the Koch brothers, who have already given them millions. MSNBC can be helpful in the struggle against voter suppression in the red states, but we still haven't come close to breaking into popular media with the story about Palestinian suffering, not to mention the mind-boggling extremism of the Likudniks and the neo-cons and the religious war they're dragging the US into.

  • Stephen Walt: publishing 'Israel lobby' ended any thought of serving in US gov't
    • To help readers with this Orwellian dilemma, I offer these “12 Commandments of the Israel Lobby,” to be memorized if possible in a venue featuring the theme song of “The Twilight Zone” in the background.

      1. The Israel Lobby does not exist. In those cases where it does exist, its conclusions cannot be questioned.

      2. All criticisms of Israel are false. They are invented by anti-Semites, self-hating Jews, and terrorists. Also by crypto-Nazis, apostates and liars.

      3. All critics of Israel must be punished by extracting a public apology. Some offenders may be required to apologize more than once, if they do not grovel sufficiently the first time around.

      4. Those who criticize Israel and do not publicly apologize must be endlessly harassed, and fired from their jobs if possible. In academia they must be denied tenure.

      5. Any Arab or Muslim that criticizes Israel is a terrorist, and deserves to die.

      6. To praise anybody who ever criticized Israel is the same thing as criticizing Israel. Just as all things Israeli are good, anybody that criticizes Israel is bad.

      7. In any conflict involving Israelis and Palestinians, the Israelis are always the victims. If an Israeli hurts a Palestinian, the Israeli is still the victim because the Palestinian is trying to make the Israeli feel bad.

      8. Israel/Palestine is never debated. That implies another side to the issue, and there is only one side. Therefore debate is suppressed or disrupted.

      9. The United Nations, the World Court, the various UN agencies, every human rights organization and non-governmental organization in the world that isn’t approved by the NGO Monitor [an Israeli screening operation] is anti-Semitic. That is because these organizations are likely to criticize Israel’s human rights record—and as any fool knows, that means they’re anti-Semitic.

      10. The interests of the US are exactly the same as the interests of Israel. If they aren’t, the interests of Israel take precedence.

      11. Any war that the US is likely to be involved in must be evaluated from the point of view of its helpfulness to the current government of Israel.

      12. Anybody who threatens to make sense while criticizing Israel must be immediately shouted down. If shouting doesn’t work, screaming and crying are recommended. As a last resort, one must declare that criticisms of Israel are making one feel “unsafe.”

  • Why are two Republican congressmen doing a walkabout on the Temple Mount?
    • I've had exactly the same problem as Colin in trying to explain the dangers of right-wing evangelical Christians in the Republican party. The attitude of many activist Jews is that the Israel Lobby is entirely Jewish, and we're just kidding ourselves to worry about the evangelicals. What they don't understand is the deadly nature of evangelical Christian support for Israel--the evangelicals really want a religious war, because they either think that it will trigger Armageddon, thereby bringing about the return of Jesus, or simply think that religious war against Islam is the major task of evangelical Christians today. Their support for these insane ideas doesn't express itself through advocacy--to them it's simply self-evident that Christians should be killing Muslims, especially Palestinian ones, so it doesn't require advocacy--but through electoral politics.

      The first thing Republicans elected to office in Wash DC do is to start getting bundled money from AIPAC, after which they will vote for anything AIPAC tells them to, thereupon posturing themselves as great friends of that mysterious entity known as "the Jews." There's a lot more of them eager to grovel for the Likud handout than there are pro-Likud Jews in the legislative branch of government. For the evangelicals it's win-win, because they get votes AND money. Again, there's many, many more of them in the legislative branch than Jews.

      Forget the horse manure about the Religious Right being dead. It's the most dynamic part of the coalition that supports the Republican party in the heartland, and will be for a long time. Uncritical support for the Likudniks is a big part of their program, with all the implicit and explicit Islamophobia that position implies.

      And there's another angle that activists, whether Jews or non-Jews, simply don't get at all. That is the assault on the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock (al-haram ash Sharif) and the whole Temple Mount area. Groups of rightwing settlers have been staging mass incursions and various kinds of walk-abouts in growing numbers for the last two years, along with closing down or attacking many Mosques in the occupied Palestinian territories. The rightwing fanatics say they want the right to pray on the Temple Mount, but what they really want is to have control of it, after which they wish to tear it down and build the Jewish Second Temple. (They have a whole truckload of crazy beliefs about why they wish to do this, and I'm leaving out most of the crazy details, but the point is, they want to tear down the Al Aqsa Mosque for religious reasons.)

      They're dead serious about this, and are willing to give their lives to get it done. The Europeans are well aware of the dangers of this insane and fanatical plan, which is why it was the centerpiece of a recent secret report circulated in Europe. Netanyahu won't stop it because he needs the support of the national-religious Jews and other rightwing elements.

      Activists generally don't understand the incredible danger of the assault on Al Aqsa because they tend to be rationalists who aren't particularly religious, and who find it very difficult to take religious fanaticism seriously. They don't think that way, and find it very hard to imagine how religious fanatics could possible have these ideas. They should try a little harder, and so should Mondoweiss. Think about it: tearing down Al Aqsa Mosque will be the quickest way to get to what the Likudniks and the neo-cons have always wanted, which is religious war throughout the 21st century, and the concomitant growth of an unapologetic and very open US "counter-terrorist" strategy--i.e., a very open, very self-righteous, very violent form of US imperialism in which collateral damage against civilians will be rationalized by many Americans as part of God's plan.

      When I say religious war, I mean widespread terrorism directed against American Embassies and other targets, and eventually attacks on targets on US soil; but it could also take the form of land wars which will seem territorial in nature, but which--like the Wars of Spanish Succession in the 18th and 19th centuries--really have a religious meaning and are driven by religious ideas and emotions.

      The right-wing fanatics in Israel keep harping on the idea that the Temple Mount is the most holy place in Judaism. All Muslim scholars agree that Al Aqsa is the third most holy site in Islam. That's the detonator, all ready to go, ready to create religious war. It should be obvious that religious war, even low-intensity religious war, is a scourge of mankind. But that's what the neo-cons have always wanted, and the Likudniks are looking carefully at ways they can improve their position by going along with it.

      Israel is driven by religious nationalism at present. The whole point of religious nationalism is to humiliate and torment perceived enemies. The fanatics in Israel have found a way to cause the maximum amount of pain, frustration and horror among the world's Muslims, who would be forced to watch helplessly while their holy site is torn down. The Israeli fanatics seek control of the Temple Mount area first, then they will mainstream the idea of tearing Al Aqsa down, destroying it to build the Second Temple. Then, if there are no countervailing forces that can stop them, they will keep trying to do it until they succeed. The US will make excuses at every point, and even support it financially.

      And their main support for this madness will come from our very own US Congress, and all those nice Republicans with evangelical Christians in their districts. If you don't believe that, just try going to my home state of Kansas, where I was raised; get out of the college towns and talk to the people in the heartland, especially the Republicans, of which there are a great many. You will find that a solid majority among them--not a plurality, but a majority--are ready for religious war, especially because so many of them think it will bring about the Second Coming of Jesus. The national-religious fanatics are trying to hijack Judaism in Jerusalem, but evangelical Christianity in the US heartland has already been hijacked by religious fanatics.

  • Does Israel Have a Right to Exist as a Jewish State?: An excerpt from Ali Abunimah's 'The Battle for Justice in Palestine'
    • The political class of Israel will never allow a Palestinian state until they are threatened with the loss of their own state. Period. End of story. We all know it's true, so let's stop kidding each other.

  • The self-hating goy
    • Love the story by Jon S.

      I have long said that the last stage of Christian antisemitism is the inability to criticize Jews when they make mistakes, or adopt bad policies. We're now seeing many examples of this seemingly paradoxical situation. You could call it philo-Semitism, but it's really just a form of spiritual laziness. Christians are terrified of being called antisemitic, because Christianity historically was antisemitic, and Christians never really tried to figure out why. So out of guilt they are terrified of having anything even remotely resembling a candid conversation.

      You will know that Christian antisemitism is finally dying when a Christian can look at all things Jewish and disagree with those things that seem bad to him, and support things that seem good, without caring what the cultural vigilantes of the Israel Lobby say about it. We can get there, if we learn to stop looking at each other as stand-ins for past trauma.

  • A Jewish Christmas message to the unsaved world
  • Grumpy Biden, Grumpy Cat weigh in on Syria speech
    • I can only shake my head at the utter irrelevance of so many progressives, who seem to spend most of their time shrieking about non-existent monsters, when they’re not engaging in the various kinds of odd but self-congratulatory posturing that thinkers seem to excel at. Maybe it comes from having so many ideas about how the world should be, but having little power, and hence very little responsibility; and therefore not much common sense. Intellectuals of conscience especially excel at false equivalencies, the entire function of which is to escape from the moral responsibilities of the present moment.

      I suggest these realities to my “progressive” friends:

      1. Iraq was a near-genocidal disaster. Bush should be tried as a war criminal, but he won’t be, because many of our fellow Americans think he’s wonderful. But Iraq didn’t happen because of a failure of intelligence, it was a failure of an imperial president who would only listen to intelligence that told him what he wanted to hear. Syria is not Iraq. It is a completely different situation. If you view Syria through the lens of Iraq, you’re stuck in the past and are allowing yourself to be manipulated by the Iraq trauma.

      2. Yes, the Israel Lobby wants a military strike on Syria for its own corrupt reasons. So what? If the people in the Israel Lobby drink water, should you stop drinking water? Grow UP, for cat sakes.

      3. Yes, the neo-cons want a military strike. See number “2″ above.

      4. Yes, Iran supports Hezbollah, and Hezbollah fighters are now fighting on the side of Assad. This makes a solution harder, but it has the advantage of completely discrediting Hezbollah, who until very recently were folk heroes. Every horror has a silver lining, and that may be a big one.

      5. Yes, the Likudnik war criminals killed 1400 people in Gaza, 400 of them children. Only an American progressive would believe that this justifies 1400 dead Syrians. We couldn't do anything about Cast Lead because the Israel Lobby's control of media and political parties in America. Would you save people in Gaza? Then you must contemplate doing the same for Syrians, where something real can actually be accomplished.

      6. Yes, there are extremists among the rebels, but not that many yet, and besides that’s an argument for intervention, not against it. We need to stop talking about arming the Free Syrian Army, and start doing so.

      So what’s the real issue, as opposed to all the ghosts and phantoms that liberals and progressives are getting their knickers in a bunch over? The reality is this. Sarin gas is a game-changer. Despite what anti-intervention people are saying, killing with sarin gas isn’t the same as killing with automatic weapons. Sarin gas kills many more people, and it kills them much faster. Because it can kill 1400 civilians in a single night, and it does so in a way military units cannot defend against, it creates a complete asymmetry of power. The Free Syrian Army knows that it can’t defend against it. Assad will use it again, and if the world blinks, he will use the power that arises out of his use of mass murder. Sarin gas used for military purposes has one endgame, and that endgame is genocide.

      The world has both the right and the responsibility to “deter and degrade” the Syrian military. Naturally, any chance for a cease-fire should be pursued, and also a regional peace conference, but the military option will almost surely be necessary. If nobody else will do it, the Americans must, simply because they have the capability. Furthermore, the US–and its allies–have to find a way to dismantle and make safe the rather large stores of sarin gas that Assad has been collecting for decades. It simply has to be done--there's no way to wriggle out of it. Will there be a response by Assad to the American strike? Yes, and it will most likely include a massive cyber-attack on the US. But we have to go ahead. It involves real-world risk. Deal with it.

      Remember the words of Dr. King: “What is bad is not the evil people, but the good people that do nothing.”

  • British government forced Guardian to smash hard drives with Snowden files
    • Rusbridger would have to be crazy not to have made multiple copies of the flash drives and stored them in various places in Britain, as well as encrypted much of the information and storied it electronically in various modalities, and in various places. GCHQ would be crazy not to know that. So why the charade of smashing a single set of flash drives?

      Clearly the Brits are under pressure from the Americans, who at this point are absolutely barking. So the Brits are forced to do something, and make some gesture that seems decisive, for the sake of the cowboy Americans who are demanding action. So again, why the smashing of flash drives? I think it is because of the violence involved, the actual act of smashing, which sends a threatening message. "Defy us, and we'll smash you"--that's the message. You can feel the contempt with which the intelligence people regard mere dissenting journalists, in the way the GCHQ guy laid down the law to Rusbridger: "You've had your debate, you don't need to write about it anymore."

      Forcing an editor to smash a flash drive while the government representatives watch isn't only about violence. It's a particular kind of violence, a symbolic act of violence against the free exchange of information, by forcing a left-wing journalist to smash the medium of his dangerous information. It has some of the same feelings associated with the horror of book-burning--it's a way of forcing people to internalize the worthlessness of free ideas and opinions, as well as their personal worthlessness, when compared to the violent powers of the total surveillance state.

      Incidentally, Glenn Greenwald is supposedly booked to speak at a convention organized by the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR) in a couple of months. CAIR is a wonderful and very effective civil rights organization, but for his own sake I hope Mr. Greenwald speaks from Brazil and resists the temptation to travel to the US. If he comes to America, he will probably be arrested, and once in prison he may never get out alive.

  • Mubarak is released while the Obama administration second guesses its second guess
    • The rhetoric coming out of the Salvation Front, among others in the pro-coup Provisional Government, is horrifying. Clearly these “liberals” are absolutely barking, working themselves up into a rage appropriate to public executions or possible concentration camps. There is also a fair amount of lying going on, along with media suppression and 24/7 media demonizing of the MB. Most interesting is the charge, rather common now among pro-coup Egyptians, that the West (especially its journalism) is secretly in league with the Muslim Brothers. Equally interesting is the pro-coup’s demand for the ouster of AJ.

      Most Islamophobes in the USA believe that all US Muslim organizations are simply fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood. If the Egyptian MB is in fact crushed, who or what will the American anti-Muslim bigots blame in their campaign against American Islam?

      Irony aside, its very hard not to conclude that the Arab Spring is now over, not just because of Black Wednesday but also because of the incredible lying, the psychotic propaganda campaign, and outright hysterical denial that the interim government has made, or ever could make, any mistakes.

      The two power centers were the MB and the military. Their goals were incompatible, but they balanced each other out. There is now nothing to stop the military for seizing power in the form of a military dictatorship, especially since Saudi money is about to replace US dollars. If you doubt that, just think ahead a bit to the “next elections.” Does anyone seriously think that they’ll allow anyone from the MB to run? And if they don’t, how can anybody claim that the election is representative?

      That being the case, the military will probably decide not to bother about elections at all. Then when the “liberals” complain, the military can say, “Well, we’re very sorry, but you see if we have elections the MB will only use that as an excuse to win power back. You wouldn’t want that, would you?”

  • Why the coup determination is now irrelevant to the question of US aid to Egypt
    • Political Islam must have a way to participate in elections, or it will go underground. Once that happens, it will stay underground for a long time, it will probably pick up the gun, and the Arabic-speaking Middle East will become one big insurgency/counter-insurgency. Let's hope that pragmatists within political Islam will adopt the Turkish model, and run as Muslim candidates in a secular state. Once the violent underground alternative is chosen, it will probably last for at least a generation.

  • The power of Edward Snowden
    • Tablet ran a story smearing Greenwald, first, because he criticizes Israel, and secondly, because he defied specific individuals in the national security establishment, and the surveillance state generally. Tablet went out of its way to point out that loyalty to Israel means loyalty to whatever the US national security establishment says, since the two are now joined at the hip. I see Glenn Greenwald as a fundamentally prophetic type, and with legal training yet! This is the biggest scoop in modern journalism, and Snowden/Greenwald have given every step in breaking it a great deal of thought.

      I agree with Phil that this incredible series of events is deeply troubling to a great many American liberals, because of the egregious manner in which it violates the Fourth Amendment--and liberal values generally. That tends to explain the hysteria at MSNBC, whose main audience are liberal Democrats. Lawrence O'Donnell hates Snowden and never misses a chance to smear him. I will always be partial to Alex Wagner, the best news analyst and commentator I've seen in a long time, but I'm getting sick and tired of O'Donnell shutting people down, especially women, when they express mild disagreement with his position on Snowden. O'Donnell exhibits the same mounting fury, the same tantrums, the same controlling behavior, as Bill O'Reilly. In fact, I have O'Donnell pegged as a social-democratic version of Bill O'Reilly, because they're both selling the same rancid product, which is rampant patriarchy.

      And now, Lavabit is being put out of business. The worst thing about Lavabit Email being shut down is that the courageous owner, who threw away ten years of hard work building up his business, is prohibited by the government from talking or writing about why it all happened. Now we're getting into the soup, people...when the government can tell you what you can or can't talk about, and it's all going down on American soil, we're in real trouble.

  • Was James Gandolfini sucked into Tony Soprano's fierce dream?
    • Loved everything about this post. Agree also with KeithS about Mondoweiss playing the role of the truth-telling prophet. So can we all, if we make the choice.

      "You saw people painfully getting sucked into a vortex of Tony's mendacious murderous Mafia behavior and the money that came from that. They all try in their own little ways, but they are not able to get out. In the end they were all in Tony's dream, which was the fiercest and most powerful dream, and this thwarted them."

      I argue that this dream of aggression, power and evil is so difficult to escape because one has usually been victimized by it, or lived in daily fear of being victimized by it. (With Tony it was his mother, who tried to have him whacked because he knew too much.) The victim internalizes the aggression because it is the only way the self can survive it, and later acts it out. This is the way aggression and evil are disseminated in the world. The former victim becomes an aggressor, who makes new victims. In my book I refer to this process as trauma bonding, but once in place it also has many of the characteristics of an addiction.

      When used by ruthless governments, it can bond people to its vision of a transcendent violence. Hitler put it this way: "The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it."

      If one interprets "The Sopranos" as an analog to American life, and the language of its violent characters as metaphors for the soul-destroying violence of Empire, most of us--most Americans, I mean--are playing out the role of Carmella, who is either an enabler of, or an accomplice to, Tony's murders. But there is a way out, as Krakower tells her, which is to leave Tony and start speaking truth to the kids, while there's still a chance they can choose a different way. I'm not talking about internal exile. I'm talking about being a radical truth-teller.

  • NPR's Bob Garfield blasts Snowden for Russian asylum: 'the height of hypocrisy'
    • I don't think it's true, as Krauss speculates, that most people in the Democratic party don't care about this NSA creation of a total surveillance state, simply because there's a Democrat in the White House. Or if they did, they're beginning to change their minds, thanks to the brilliant Snowden/Greenwald strategy of rolling out the bad news a little at a time. Remember that the Democratic party is the only political game in town for many people. Black people in this country will be occupied with winning back the right to vote for at least a generation, because the Republican party has committed itself totally to voter suppression. It will be a very difficult fight, in which large masses of people will be in action on the street, and may even result in loss of life. This will happen at the same time that the economy--and the corporate upper class--continues to push middle class and working people down into a new suburban/urban peasantry.

      But the Democratic party consists of a Rooseveltian coalition of labor, minorities and liberals. Many liberals I talk to are astonished and upset at the way the media figures have gone after Snowden, trying to silence criticism of the NSA in the same way that they silence criticism of Israel. The role of the progressive in the Democratic party is to tell liberals this is a make-or-break situation: they've got to take a stand, or the surveillance state will win. Progressives in the Democratic party now need to explain to their coalition partners the danger they're in from the total surveillance state, but they have to speak out fearlessly on their own, regardless of what the others think or say. Think of Cornel West: he's a left-socialist, has been active in the Democratic party, and is even a friend of Obama, but criticizes him regularly on drones and surveillance.

      Now might be a time for liberals to read a little Gramsci. He understood the implacable operation of economics on everything else, but also insisted that to influence others, you have to have an attractive, powerful idea about the world and the good life. Our job as progressives is to convince others--especially the libertarian-influenced young people--that they cannot keep what they win politically until we confront the nature of this new form of systemic evil. I think the Snowden/Greenwald strategy creates an opportunity to do that.

      In the meantime, don't give money to NPR, and tell them why you won't.

  • Exclusive: Al Jazeera English’s online US broadcast to end with the launch of Al Jazeera America
    • Exactly who are these "cable operators" and which organizations are behind them? No single group of people should have veto power over the free dissemination of information, in America or anywhere else. I would like to see more investigative journalists prying into the exact manner in which these "cable operators" have been given such power over what we see and hear. Something isn't right here.

      I'm still reeling over the way a clear political line has been imposed on the very smart young people at MSNBC. They remain a good source for domestic news from a progressive point of view, but clearly it has been decided that the most important national security issues of our time cannot be examined from a liberal, left or even remotely libertarian point of view. That's a catastrophe, since it is precisely the national security establishment that is the deep state in America.

      And now this news about AJAM. There have been several intimations that something like this has been in the works, but this kind of capitulation would be devastating.

      MSNBC ratings last month are down, but their execs seem blissfully aware of why it happened. (AJAM, take note.) The reason, quite simply, is that MSNBC tried to copy CNN's crime coverage, and failed miserably; and because of the MSNBC commentators' disgraceful attacks on Edward Snowden. The MSNBC crew didn't even wait until Snowden was completely down before they started kicking him...and the reasons they gave sounded very much like a political line that had been rehearsed and shaped with great care. It will be a long time before I forget how stomach-turning it was to watch Lawrence O'Donnell interrogating Snowden's former girlfriend on Snowden's narcissism and general ill-repute. (When the deep state needs a cop, they will always turn to an insecure progressive.) It hurt all the more because O'Donnell is one of the few people on network TV who will admit that he's a "European-style socialist."

      Again: I want to know who these "cable operators" are, how they exercise their power, their motive for doing so, and why they are able to decide what Americans watch. It would be better to get the story out sooner rather than later, while it can still be given a nuanced presentation, and while journalists are still willing to search for the organizational presence behind the operators involved--and you can be sure there is such an organizational presence. Max, are you available for such an assignment?

  • Set off a Roman candle for 'the anti-authoritarian instinct' -- and Edward Snowden!
    • I've gotten used to watching commentaries at MSNBC, and am a great fan of Alex Wagner and Joy Reid, and many others: they to some extent struck me as a group of extremely bright young progressives, restoring to some extent my faith in young liberals. But as soon as the Snowden thing broke, you could see them all pulling back. They are clearly parsing their words very carefully, because they're all at the start of their careers, and getting fired from MSNBC (accompanied by some kind of public legal fight) would be a career-breaker. If you got fired from MSNBC you'd have to go to satellite radio, and in a year or two nobody would remember your name.

      Some at MSNBC, like Lawrence O'Donnell, went after Snowden very aggressively, using the most idiotic kind of classism and personal attacks. (For example, he constantly reiterated the fact that Snowden was a high school dropout, making me proud that I am a middle school dropout). Joy Reid also seemed to perceive Snowden's revelations as an attack on the Obama administration. Rachel Maddow, as always, was very clever about not taking any kind of overt position. One doesn't know if MSNBC President Phil Griffin has actually sent the memo, but everybody seems to be tiptoeing around the real issues involved very carefully. Only Chris Hayes and a couple of other guests were able to deal with the issues, although I think perhaps Glenn Greenwald may have been asked in as a guest a few times.

      MSNBC is really missing the presence of Phil Donahue and Keith Olbermann, because they were authentic progressives--which is precisely why they were fired. Both came from an authentic and powerful constituency. Donahue spoke for the liberal antiwar constituency with a solid base among women, and Keith Olbermann was simply funny as hell taking potshots at authority figures, and was especially good at making fun of the kind of feckless patriarchy represented by Bill O'Reilly. Both were real, both spoke with a real voice, and both saw and hated the growing authoritarianism in our country.

      I wish AJ America would hire them, but it will probably be too busy establishing its bona fides as the news agency that will someday send CNN out of business. AJ may decide to shy away from commentary because of the incredible anti-Arabism that prevails in this country.

      Conclusion: there's probably a better way to express and tap into the deep vein of anti-authoritarianism that has always existed in the US, but we haven't found it yet. One point that really needs to be made more often, something that the Snowden episode reveals very clearly, is the desperation of the US elite to kill or bag Snowden, and the utter contempt with which they treat leaders in Latin America. Also encouraging is the manner in which the best minds in Latin America now realize the necessity of strategically and publicly opposing Tio Sam and his greed-blinded corporate upper class, when it is necessary to do so. I hope Equador takes Snowden in. Phil Agee would be proud.

  • Egypt's continuing revolution makes a mockery of Huntington's 'clash of civilizations'
    • The Obama administration was surprised by Morsi's lack of pragmatism, and I have to admit, so was I. This astonishing lack of flexibility, combined with the economic situation, led to the MB's ouster. This is all so unprecedented that nobody can tell what comes next, but I'm with those who wish to focus on the horrific economic situation; the call for economic technocrats is usually a cover for autocracy of one form or another, but in this case I think it's the right way to go.

      I just hope that the West can understand what this says about Islam and the Egyptian people. Every country is different, but the amazing thing in this instance is that it was Muslims in Egypt who overwhelmingly saw that the MB was not going to give them the kind of society they wanted, or the kind of non-governmental approach to Islam and Christianity that they longed for. Egyptian Muslims and Christians working together supplied the pragmatism that the MB was unable to provide. That was truly inspiring, and I hope that good people in the West can see that, and emulate it in their own societies.

  • Review: The Girl Who Stole My Holocaust
    • I have just ordered this book, and will encourage friends and associates to do so as well. I hesitate to comment at all, because I don't speak Hebrew and haven't read it yet, but from Jimmy Johnson's excellent review I would just like to say that this book may encompass a big part of the breakthrough vision we've been waiting for. Traumatic memory of the Holocaust--and the centuries of European antisemitism that preceded it--is the fuel that drives hatred of Palestinians, fear of the world as a giant anti-Jewish conspiracy, and much Jewish and Christian Islamophobia. It is interesting that apparently the author, as a soldier entering a Palestinian village, almost immediately made the connection between the fear in the Palestinians girl's eyes and the Nazi Holocaust. I believe that this happened because a great deal of the aggression Israeli Jews feel toward Palestinians (and their covert admiration of 'Arabs') comes from internalized aggression of their European tormenters, carefully kept alive by the Likudniks. The rightwing Likudniks are careful to keep that traumatic memory alive--remember how Netanyahu always brings up the Holocaust when lecturing the UN?--because that is their main political capital.

      But you cannot keep using traumatic memory forever, because sooner or later individuals tend to wake up and see that they're being used. As Brecht said (or something like this), you can call out a tank against the people, but you can't control what the driver of that tank is thinking. Sooner or later one of those soldiers is going to write a book, and then the secret is out.

      For some thoughts on how traumatic memory of the Holocaust is used by the US Israel Lobby against both Christians and Jews, see:

  • 'Scoop Israel' -- Stand With Us markets propaganda with Waugh's cachet
    • "Conflict sensitive journalists choose their words carefully." My God.

      There's a sensational comic novel there! Who, who will be the modern Waugh, sans prejudice and snobbery, to give the Israel Lobby the full satiric treatment? I can think of so many titles, of which STONED BY US and SENSITIVE CONFLICTS IN THE PROMISED LAND are only two...

  • Exile and the Prophetic: Judith Butler marks the end (and beginning) of the Jewish ethical tradition
    • Marc's idea of a prophetic voice arriving simultaneously on time and too late reminds me of Kafka's formulation of the Messiah. The Messiah will come, he wrote, only when "the graves will open themselves." He reiterates this thought in the following manner: "The Messiah will come only when he is no longer necessary; he will come only on the day after his arrival; he will come, not on the last day, but on the very last."

      Like it or not, every human with the ability to think and feel is stuck with the responsibility of working out an informed moral code with which to deconstruct the world's injustices. That's both curse and privilege, but one has the freedom to embrace it. For that, I thank God, the Goddess, or 'Whom it May Concern.'

  • Video: Naftali Bennett stands by party member who raised idea of destroying the Dome of the Rock
    • Christian Zionists have invested a great deal of emotion around blowing up the Dome of the Rock, because they think that's what will start the big religious war that will bring Jesus back to earth. Intellectuals tend to miss this sort of thing, because it's so totally irrational--that is, so totally off the liberal radar. But extremists know that it's an effective way of focusing all that hate and aggression around a single act, one that changes the world, and brings about the maximum destruction that Late Zionism and right-wing Christian evangelicalism long for.

      It's not just the religious nuts, sadly. There's another reason that lays deep beneath the religious reasons given by the theocratic and rhetorical madmen. It's that through a single act extremists can cause maximum anguish to the world's Muslims, that through it they can inflict enormous pain, because once the destruction of this profoundly religious site begins Muslims will be helpless to stop it.

      Why do the Israelis support the desecration of Mamilla Cemetery, and the opening of ancient Muslim graves and the removal of remains? Because it is a way of showing utter contempt, and inflicting maximum pain. The sadness of this is that Mamilla and the Dome of the Rock (Masjid Qubbat As-Sakhrah) should be the proud possession of all Israelis, and of all humanity, because they are cultural treasures that reflect humanity's search for spiritual truth. But the harsh religious nationalism that drives the current Israeli government does not seek to integrate Israel into the Middle East, but to dominate and insult it.

      Religious nationalism always seeks the same thing: maximum infliction of humiliation and distress on the identified enemy, then maximum destruction of friend and foe alike.

  • Israel lobby doesn't want Al Jazeera coming into 'millions of American homes'
    • Fantastic news. My respect for Al Gore has just gone way, way up. Of course, a lot depends on how they play their new possession. AJ English is already a very good operation. Wouldn't it be great if AJ kept Current TV as a competitor to MSNBC, with a social justice slant and youth-oriented talking heads, but started allowing commentators to actually talk about the Israel Lobby when it's relevant to do so??

  • 'Atlantic' writer provides no evidence for allegation that Harvard professor is anti-Semitic
    • The moral and psychological core of Goldberg's religious McCarthyism is in this observation: "Jews are unpopular when they're powerless. They're unpopular when they're powerful. We might as well be powerful, no?" As a rationalization for evil this reminds me of an exchange that is supposed to have happened between Peres and Sharon, as the latter was planning some new murderous outrage.

      "If we do this, the world will hate us," Peres is supposed to have said.

      "The world will hate us anyway."

      "Well," replies Peres, "maybe we should leave the world."

      If by that Peres meant we should learn to imagine a better world, I'm with him. Too bad he didn't have more backbone.

      This can't be said enough: it's good for Jews to have power, considering what has happened to them in the past. The problem with Israeli power is that it comes from a form of systemic evil driven by religious nationalism, and it is kept in place with all the oppression, torture and murder that colonialism requires. To see that is not antisemitism. Neither is the perception that the US Israel Lobby often prefers to attack the person rather than debate the issues.

      I think what Sullivan (see Phil's comments on Sullivan's new column) is doing is something most of us have gone through, or will. At a certain point you simply have to say, "To hell with it, I'm going to tell the truth as I see it no matter what, these so-called leaders are nothing but the two percent of American Jewry, and their smears and gutter tactics are harming civil society and making a sane Middle East policy impossible." Sullivan has had to face down his own doubts, anger and sorrows concerning the pedophile coverup within Catholicism, and I think it's made him a better and more spiritual person. We need truth-tellers, and I think he's already one of the best.

  • Exile and the Prophetic: A Christmas tree at Auschwitz
    • Marc's series "Exile and the Prophetic" is beautiful for many reasons, not least of which is that they go together: attempt the prophetic, and you find yourself a pariah in exile from all the Promised Lands, willingly or otherwise. But as a heretical Christian I can't agree with Marc that Christianity has reformed itself, because it hasn't yet come to terms with the explosive belief that arguably drives Christians to make scapegoats, the belief in blood atonement: that the torture and murder of Jesus was God's plan to save the world, which generates salvation for the believer.

      That idea sends a powerful message that violence is redemptive. The result is too often a profound and very toxic Christian identification with aggression (all exceptions happily granted), which I believe drove the growth of Christian antisemitism.

      For one progressive/heretical Christian's idea about the manner in which Christianity might rid itself of this dangerous addiction to redemptive violence can be found at the following link:

  • Regurgitating Israeli talking points, Amanpour lectures Meshal that 'int'l agreements' bar right of return
    • Obviously, she's been given 'the talk' in which the facts of life were explained to her. Now they'll have to have the 'second talk,' in which they remind her not to go too far. It's all a matter of nuance. You can't be too screamingly racist, too insulting or too obviously patronizing toward Palestinians--that might suggest defensiveness, which in turn suggest the fundamental malignancy of the American and Israeli positions. The ambitious media professional has to be a bit more subtle when invoking the West's irritation toward the Palestinians, whose ultimate crime is that they simply don't know their place. I'm sure Ms. Amanpour will understand the constraints involved, since it involves her career. At the end of the day, broadcast news is all about empire, celebrity culture in the service of political murder.

  • Norr responds to Ash: Who is trying to get the solidarity movement back on track and who is merely fanning the flames of division?
    • The people involved with the Estelle may very well have good reasons, including some safety considerations, which caused them to "dis-invite" Ann Wright. But there's no doubt that the reason she was asked to step down was because of her association with Greta Berlin. Therefore, however necessary that may have been, the motive for it was guilt by association--Ann's association with Greta, and the fact that she likes Greta and wants to continue working with her. We might as well be honest about that.

      I believe that for Gabriel Ash and some people in his group, the entire controversy really is about Gilad Atzmon. Greta Berlin liked Atzmon's book, and Ann Wright likes Greta and is willing to work with her, so Ann Wright is the enemy, to him. So her modest statement about what happened becomes words of anathema to Mr. Ash, and anybody who defends her, such as Mr. Orr, likewise become spawn of the devil. For people who want to know more about Gilad Atzmon, and why so many nominally sane people are barking mad about him, you might want to read my long essay on same, to wit:

      Of course, Atzmon is a complete madman, but he's been effectively exiled from any political position of leadership, so he's not a threat to anybody anymore. Sadly, however, Mr. Ash has what in my opinion amounts to an obsession concerning Atzmon. Mr. Ash's circle in Britain has engaged in, among other things, an attempt to launch a boycott against his publishers; letter-writing to newspapers demanding that they not review his CDs and musical performances without discussing his politics; and they spend a lot of time and energy engaged in hating Atzmon and doing other things that strike me as both self-defeating and unnecessary.

      That's why Mr. Ash's statement is so full of anger--it's the old curse of sectarian political activists. Being unable to influence events in the real world, they can only vent their rage at each other. I hope we can rise above that. What were missing were some kind words about Ann's worth, both as a human being and as an extremely courageous campaigner for human rights and human decency. But you don't get that from sectarian types, because they are too busy trying to figure out the right response to their enemies.

  • No room for racism in a movement working for equality and freedom
    • Phil and Adam,

      No need to apologize for waiting on the Greta Berlin controversy--you need time to gather evidence and try to figure out what's happening. But many of your readers aren't aware of what you're found in your investigation. You need to present what you've found, and then make your case. Until then, people won't know why you have taken this position.

      This Greta Berlin controversy bears a strong family resemblance to the Gilad Atzmon mess. What it boils down to is that some people have, or develop, problematical ideas that can hurt the movement for justice in Israel/Palestine. Sometimes it's simply out of ignorance, and you try to work with those people when possible. But when their ideas are antisemitic, or appear to have hardcore, repeated antisemitic content, they are especially destructive, because it was the antisemitism of European Christians that in many ways led to the current tragedy in Israel/Palestine. Antisemitism can completely discredit organizations devoted to justice in Israel/Palestine, as the Palestinians are acutely aware, so if a person doesn't understand the dangers of antisemitism, he or she isn't qualified to be a leader in this particular struggle. That can sometimes be a hard call, but we need to deal with it, and I congratulate the people at Mondoweiss for doing their best with it.

      On the other hand, I think the civil rights of such people as Greta and Atzmon must be defended in the larger society. I say that partly because I am a civil libertarian, and partly because I know that the inquisitorial temperament is particularly strong on the Left. There are people who demonize musicians because they once played a gig with Gilad Atmon, or think that jazz clubs should prevent him from playing his music. So we need to be clear that we're supporting the rights of all people in civil society, whatever their beliefs are, even if we can't allow them to lead our organizations. I personally believe that discourse around Israel/Palestine has become deeply pathological in certain respects, and that as a result we can learn a lot from the mad ones among us, like Atzmon, about how the mind in crisis operates.

      Those interested in this subject matter may wish to read my long essay on Gilad Atzmon on my website, "Israel/Palestine in the Mind of America."

      The issue of antisemitism has become extremely important for two reasons:

      There is no doubt in my mind that the religious nationalism upon which Zionism so often rests is affecting the quality of Judaism in the US. Does that make one antisemitic to document this? It depends on how you do it. If you make your analysis with sensitivity, you should be okay, but there are many who will wish to denounce you for antisemitism nonetheless. Yet anybody who cares two hoots for the quality of discourse in this country knows that Jewish leadership has gone rapidly downhill since the death of Abraham Joshua Heschel, and that toxic neo-con ideas have been embraced by many leaders. The key to documenting this is being specific and avoiding generalizations when possible.

      Secondly, although Mondoweiss has done a great job of opening up the justice issues surrounding Israeli apartheid, there is hanging over all of us a difficult sovereignty issue. Today an actual majority of people in Congress receive money from, or on behalf of, the state of Israel, through AIPAC. When elected officials receive money from a foreign country to vote in a certain way, that's a profound violation of American sovereignty. That's true on its face, but especially if it can be shown that Netanyahu's extremist values are not the consensus values of most Americans.

      Raising the sovereignty issue, and the betrayal of American values, will be a difficult tightrope to walk. On the one hand, it will bring out the real Anti-Semites, who will have to be denounced. On the other hand, the major Jewish leaders will accuse us of antisemitism, no matter how thoughtfully we try to raise this issue. But it won't be antisemitic, if we do it with sensitivity and intelligence--and in the end, that care will be rewarded by those we are trying to reach. To that end, we need to keep up this discussion about antisemitism, but by being specific and steering clear of hearsay, and defending everybody's right of speech in the larger society no matter what their ideas are.

  • Vicious Friday attacks on Al Aqsa
    • The attacks on Islamic holy sites, particularly Al-Aqsa, are provocation. Palestinians and Arab leaders know this. Netanyahu is looking for a chance to ethnically cleanse Palestinians, almost surely linking it in some way to a military threat/confrontation with Iran. That's why everybody is keeping a low profile, they don't want to take the bait. What's amazing, and so dispiriting, is that here in the US, where we run no real risk whatsoever except insults from the Lobby, nobody is talking about this. This is the preparation for the series of events that could lead to the religious war the neo-cons have been wanting. Yet people are paralyzed, or simply don't want to think about it.

      Oppressive regimes generally have a passive-aggressive fighting style, accusing others of doing exactly what they do, or intend to do. Moshe Ya'along, VP and Minister of Strategic Affairs, is quoted in a New Yorker article that a nuclear Iran would use a bomb "as a nuclear umbrella to intensify its rogue activities" in the region. That's exactly what Israel is doing. If nuclear bombs are weapons in search of a policy, we now know what that policy is: It is a gun that holds the world hostage, while the gunmen calmly and with great deliberation detonate the religious war we have all been working to avoid.

  • Ninny Middleton doesn't understand the job description
    • Utterly delightful writing. When power and sexuality overlap, the wives usually have the best insights, I've found.

  • Confronting anti-semitic discourses head on: How to avoid self-silencing
    • The Moroccans may be doing terrible things to people in the Western Sahara, but so far the Moroccans haven't been able to organize an American lobby strong enough to pay a majority of elected American legislators to vote the way they tell them to, or drive people from their jobs, to lobby incessantly to get the US to attack another country, or try to pass laws that outlaw free speech. If that last example seems extreme, just look at the latest attempt by the Israel Lobby to pass a law that would prevent people on California State University campuses from saying anything critical of the Israeli state.

      I became alarmed at the activities of the Israel Lobby not just because of the plight of the Palestinians, which is bad enough, but because of its malevolent attempts to limit free speech and association in American politics and culture, and to create influence by calling everybody who opposes them anti-Semites. There is a clear and present danger of a resurgence of antisemitism, to be sure, but the danger originates with the reckless activities of the Israel Lobby and its neo-con leaders, who seek to hijack Judaism in the name of religious nationalism and Likudnik aggression. They, along with their Christian evangelical allies, will not be satisfied until they have gotten us into a worldwide religious war that the US cannot afford and cannot win. That's why Late Zionism is, and sh0uld be, of more concern to progressive and patriotic Americans than anything done in Morocco.

  • Police officer kicks 9-year-old boy, and Israeli commenters cheer him on
    • Note: When I referred to "certain commentators" in my last post, I refer, of course, to the commentators at the Israeli Channel 2 Facebook venue, not to any commentators on this website.

    • The identification with the Nazis on the part of certain commentators seems rather clear here. So when the next Middle Eastern war comes, as it will, what will stop the Israeli political class from "deciding," after decades of carefully painting themselves into some kind of existential corner, that six million dead Arabs might redeem six million dead Jews? That's been the subtext of Jabotinsky Zionism right from the gate--the Christians do terrible things, so we will too. The Israelis are faithfully replicating all the excesses of racism, militarism and empire that caused the first Holocaust.

      But that might be only a down payment on the next one, directed this time against the Arabic-speaking people, whose main crime, most of them, is simply knowing the truth. For that they must be kicked, and ultimately slaughtered.

  • Presbyterian activist in conservative Pbg paper says 'we will not shrink' when Jewish leaders threaten break in interfaith relations
    • The threats made to both Methodist and Presbyterian denominations with withholding or abruptly stopping "Jewish-Christian" interfaith relations is a joke.

      What interfaith relations? They haven't existed in this country for a long time. There was always a subtext to such relations--"Don't say anything critical about Israel." Then it became, "If you say anything critical about Israel we will publicly denounce you as an anti-Semite and all in your denomination as anti-Semites." That kind of interfaith relationship is based on emotional blackmail, not mutual benefit.

      The only place where I see real interfaith relationships based on mutual respect and mutual benefit is occurring among the Christians, Jews and Muslims who are fighting to bring down Israeli apartheid. In fact, that may be one of the most welcome aspects of the Palestinian solidarity movement--the fact that Jews, Muslims and Christians get a chance to know each other on a respectful basis, because they are actually able to speak their minds and relate to each other as people, rather than victims of various kinds of threats and denunciations.

      We owe a debt of gratitude to all who are able to speak up for justice against institutional threats aimed at silencing truth-tellers.

      For information about one of the most stalwart Jewish intellectuals fighting for justice in Israel/Palestine, and the astonishing pressures he is facing by those who want to run him out of academia in America, Google "Ken Starr's Pogrom," which appeared two weeks ago in 'Counterpunch.'

  • Jewish org's letter warns Presbyterians divestment from occupation 'taps into our deepest fears'
    • I am impressed by the fact that the letter against selective divestment approaches actual incoherence. We will see more of that kind of Orwellian doubletalk.

      As I have been saying for some time, and continue to say, the situation regarding Israel and its proxies is not about politics, or even of geopolitics. It is about pathology. Until we have a moral psychology that can grapple with the problem of evil, the madness will continue to accelerate.

  • A debate about the two-state-solution with Norman Finkelstein
    • The power of these two passionate minds is incredible, and the very existence of this dialogue demonstrates the usefulness of this website. We owe both people involved a debt we cannot repay. But is the dialogue about attitudes, or about what Israel will do? The problem is that Israel's political class and its proxies in the US may not want to think rationally, do not want solutions, do not want a settlement. Because the Israeli state has kept the trauma of the Holocaust alive, mentioning it and invoking it on an almost daily basis, the people simply cannot think straight anymore. They have internalized so much of the toxic aggression dealt out by Likud Zionism that what they really want is destruction, I'm afraid. Historically, such things have happened before.

      The real question is not what good people like Finkelstein and Phil want, and the enormous mental energy they exert to imagine their noble objectives. The brave young people of the Arab Spring are going to make it their lives' work to get justice for Palestinians. Why? Because they see their brutal persecution every night on TV. They see the gratuitous Israel desecration of Muslim holy sites. Israel/Palestine is holy to three Abrahamic faiths, not just one. There will be another war in the Middle East, and maybe a glimmer of a chance for a settlement at some point, but not a very big window. More likely there will be ongoing military activity against Israel.
      Then Israeli leaders will make the decision about what to do with their nuclear weapons.

      Will those leaders be amenable to solutions, or will they be more invested in acting out to completion the destructive aggression that drives them?

  • 'Death of a Salesman' came out of an intermarriage
    • Phil's writing is getting better, and the social commentary alone is becoming a real strength at this website. Death of a Salesman is a masterpiece. I thought the part where where Miller has the son catch the father cheating was a cheap shot, however, because the degradation of their relationship had much deeper roots. But Phil is spot-on right about the play being about the Greek tragedy that is at the heart of American capitalism. It isn't just that people work themselves into the ground, but the fact that in America the marketplace is experienced by so many people as a religion--and it never delivers, because the marketplace isn't set up to deliver the same emotional product as a religion. (Maybe most established religions can't deliver what we want them to, either, but that's a separate issue.)

      Willy Loman is a failure by his own standards, and his son Biff can't help him, because Bill is also a failure--by Willy's standards. I'm not sure what Miller meant in his autobiography about trying to explain Jewish thoughts and feelings to the rest of America, at least in this play, because Willy's failure is universal. But I understand what Miller meant when he talked about being terrified of the growth of fascism in Europe, and wanting to explain that to the Americans. He saw what so many on the Left then saw--but what we don't see today--which is that fascism isn't just a set of pathological attitudes and behaviors, but also decisions made by a corporate upper class about the citizens of their country.

      Don't look now, but that's what we're faced with again, in slightly different way. We have an absolutely brutal new corporate upper class that clearly wishes to reduce the American people to a kind of urbanized peasantry, robbing us of all the gains we've made in eighty years. The big question is whether enough Americans will get over their disappointment at capitalism's failure as the True Church of America. They'll have to, in order to fight back for some level of decency. Right now I think a lot of them are at the trauma stage. What follows is anybody's guess.

      Linda's cry of anguish at the end of the play sticks in the mind. Poor Willy is dead, but they made their last payment on the refrigerator. "We're free! We're free and clear!"

  • 1200 rabbis threaten an end to interfaith harmony if Methodists support divestment
    • Christians also used interfaith connections for their own corrupt purposes. As Peter Novick convincingly demonstrates in The Holocaust in American Life, Catholic leaders used interfaith connections to try to suppress the American production of The Deputy, asking “their Jewish dialogue partners to put pressure on the Jewish producer and director to cancel the play, or at least to join them in denouncing it.” The Deputy (a play that questioned Pope Pius’ unwillingness to speak out against the Nazi Holocaust) had been produced at a time of “tense politicking at Vatican Council II in Rome over a declaration repudiating anti-Semitism and absolving Jews of culpability in the death of Jesus.” According to Novick, the American Jewish Committee “did its best, albeit unsuccessfully, to prevent the play from going on—and made sure that church officials knew that it had tried.” The national tour was canceled, probably as a direct result of combined Catholic/Jewish pressure to do away with it.

      Needless to say, a play should never be closed down because it criticizes organized religion, any religion; and using it as a poker chip in such backstage tummeling is another example of how the Nazi Holocaust corrupts everything. If American Catholics and Jews had to suppress a play about the Holocaust to get the Pope to stop blaming Jews for the death of Jesus, the entire project of reconciliation had, certainly for the people involved in the suppression, no meaning whatsoever. Similarly, the postponement of candid discussion about Israel was both stupid and tragic, because as time went on the elephant in the parlor got bigger and bigger; and in the total absence of tough love from American Jews, the political class in Israel kept moving to the right until it had completely embraced the neo-fascist Jabotinsky form of Zionism. And the liberal mainstream Protestant groups have been completely swamped by evangelical Christians, who--along with conservative Catholics--now constitute the vast majority of Christians in the US.

      And what did we get out of it? The grisly deceit called Judeo-Christian values, which are nothing but a particularly brutal form of imperialism compounded with religious fanaticism--and every day takes us closer to the religious war that we all seek to avoid. The lesson is simple: we have to speak up, no matter how much the fanatics yell and scream. The Screamers are always with us, but the important question is whether we'll speak up anyway. Here's hoping the Methodists have the internal fortitude to stick by their position, which is extremely simple and just. But the fanatical distortions that have entered American Judaism, based almost entirely on religious nationalism as defined by a foreign state, are breath-taking and terrifying. Christians must take some of the responsibility for this, because we did not speak up when we should have.

  • Episcopalian twit (a review of JFK's former mistress's memoir)
    • The thing that caught my eye was that Mimi was from Miss Porter's school, founded by Sarah Porter in 1843. A very progressive institution for woman's education, in its time, but unfortunately it could not prepare Mimi for what transpired in the White House.

      Fundamentally, what happened was a rape, carefully set up by everyone around JFK. When the thing started to go down, the poor kid probably started to dissociate--in fact, in the single interview by her that I've read she talks about it as though it happened to someone else. Now, however, it seems that she's made sense out of it--and interestingly, she used her closeted and completely weird experience with JFK to make sense of her frigid marriage. Yes, it was something that belonged to a certain time and place, but in addition to that it was part of a particular psychopathology JFK managed to set up--that is, the secret service men, his assistants, even the other women around him, all had guilty knowledge of his affairs, his philandering, and his generalized abuse of women.

      What's interesting to me is the way Mimi unfroze and unpacked the experience over the years, and used it as a standard for aggression generally. That's shows courage. But it's also a cautionary tale. Celebrities and people with power can be absolutely deadly, once they learn how to manipulate people around them to satisfy their needs. That's why physicians are well-advised to go in teams into the houses of drug-seeking celebrities. You get taken in by their talent, and their charisma, and before you know it you're giving them Xanex, or whatever the hell the latest thing is. They're oozing with charm, but they're death on overdrive.

      There is one reading of JFK's behavior with women as revenge for the way the Boston Protestants treated his father, and Irish Catholics generally. And it is well know that Joseph Kennedy's goal was always to revenge himself on the Episcopalian establishment by making Joe, then Jack, the first Catholic Brahmin. But I think the whole thing is a lot more simple that that. I have JFK made as a classic narcissist with a premonition of death, because of his illness, and a bit of a sociopath. A lot of charm made him even deadlier. There is no excuse for his abuse of women, which were often not only manipulate but criminal by any standard. Still, when I think of him I still remember the pull of his idealism--or rather, the idealism that was generated as a result of his charm. That stuff is deadly, or can be, if you're not ready for the aggression that also lies within.

  • Wall Street firm slammed the door on young Warren Buffett for religious reasons
    • Buffett and Graham, heard a garbled version of this story once, but I'm delighted to read the real story and seen the great documentation provided here. Healing is possible; strong-willed people who have tangible goals and a reasonable chance of reaching them won't let religion get in the way. They'd be foolish if they did. The more I hear about Buffett, the more I like him.

      He came out of Presbyterian stock, I think, but wrote once that his faith had flown the coop. He's continued as a kind of cultural Presbyterian, following a strong moral code in business and personal life. It may not be any accident that the PC (Presbyterian Church) has led the way with divestment. What a story about Graham and Buffett. That's pure Americana...

      So are Mooser's S&H Green Stamps, come to think of it. I always got a chuckle out of the fact that you didn't cash the damn things in, you got them 'redeemed.' More evidence of our Protestant origins. Who was it that said the US passed from Protestantism to depravity without ever passing through civilization?? Think I got that quote wrong.

  • Netanyahu says, You also refused to bomb Auschwitz
    • Victimology is a psychological continuum that arises when people build their emotional and communal lives around victim status. It is the dominant psychological system in Israel and is likewise promoted by US proxies, and is reinforced by the Israeli state through constant reiteration of the Holocaust, as well as not-so-subtle hints that a new Holocaust might happen. People under its influence talk like true believers, but their motivation is emotional rather than ideological. Victimology usually begins as a method for handling trauma, but evolves into a highly dysfunctional system in both the human personality and the culture of a nation; as a national phenomenon it is likely to lead to endless, reckless military and diplomatic adventures and ultimately national and personal implosion.

      So Serbian nationalists were able to use victim status in the service of the Bosnian genocide, so the IRA was able to use to it murder innocent victims of terrorism, and so Likudnik Zionism will use it to kick off another war in the Middle East, and perhaps finally the worldwide religious war the neo-cons have always advocated.

      People driven by victimology provoke or invent conflict, not to win the conflict but rather to lose it, thereby proving to the world their enduring victim status. Being defeated does not stop such people, since they define success as remaining a victim while creating as much violence and aggression as possible. Losing a conflict simply renews that person’s connection to victim status as they wait for the next opportunity to generate conflict.

  • Group responsible for Muslim grave desecration gives advice on bigotry to the White House
    • Good catch, Alex. Here's some info about the SWC:

      The Simon Wiesenthal Center is an extreme rightwing Jewish organization, tinged by neo-fascism and with many of the characteristics of a hate organization. It is based almost completely on a vulgarized, pervasive form of religious nationalism. Its vision for Israel is consistent with the neo-fascist Jabotinsky tendency within Zionism that was modeled on Italian fascism, and it also promotes the Likudnik doctrine that Judaism itself has no practical or demographic existence separate from Israel. The SWC supports the neo-con belief in permanent war in the Middle East, and it engages in the vigorous dissemination of religious bigotry against Muslims in the US.

      It portrays anti-Semitism as worse than it is, partly for fund-raising purposes and partly to establish an imagined victim status. It similarly uses the Holocaust both to discourage criticism of Israel and to justify Israel’s own violence, aggressively insisting that every criticism of Israel is really aimed at destroying the Jewish people. Above all, the SWC is a dangerous cultural force that seeks religious war as the standard for religious authenticity.

      The Wiesenthal Center’s exaggerations and fabrications regarding anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli attitudes are well-known. The SWC claimed that the 2002 World Social Forum in Mumbai was ‘hi-jacked by anti-Israel and anti-American forces.’ This was completely untrue, as Jewish peace activist Cecilie Surasky, who was in attendance, later testified. (The SWC also claimed in the Jerusalem Post to be ‘the only Jewish NGO’ at Mumbai, whereas in reality there were several, including Jewish Voice for Peace, with which Surasky is affiliated.)

      The Wiesenthal Center also engaged off a strenuous campaign to portray Hugo Chavez as an anti-Semite, which they attempted to do by strategically doctoring a quote by Chavez. This interventionist gambit shouldn’t surprise us—the Wiesenthal Center once presented Jeanne Kilpatrick, a US diplomatic defender of the murderous Pinochet regime in Chile, with its Humanitarian of the Year Award. (The SWC also honored such noted humanitarians as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Robert Murdoch.)

      The Wiesenthal Center also has the unenviable distinction of involvement in one of the worst journalistic blunders of modern times. In the late spring of 2006, Douglas Kelly, editor of the National Post, a Canadian newspaper, became aware of an item in a column by Iranian exile Amir Taheri, indicating that the Iranian Parliament might require Jews to wear yellow stars. A Post editor contacted the Simon Wiesenthal Center, thinking it was a legitimate human rights agency. Both Rabbi Marvin Hier and Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the SWC excitedly insisted to anybody that would listen, both verbally and in an email to the Post, that the tale was “absolutely true.” The Post went ahead with the story on Page One, but Taheri was a neo-con plant, and the story was a fabrication.

      Within days, Post editor Kelly was obliged to make a long and detailed apology to his readers. He referred directly to the Post’s contact with both Cooper and Hier at the Wiesenthal Center, mentioning pointedly that they had both, on separate occasions, confirmed the story. The implication of having been consciously betrayed by the Wiesenthal Center was quite clear. For Hier and Cooper, however, it was a big victory—they’d been able to place a great piece of propaganda on Page One of a large daily newspaper, while managing to make the connection between Nazis and Iranians, a staple theme of the SWC.

      The Wiesenthal Center is silent on the rise of fascism in Israel in 2010-2011, probably because the Center’s own tactics are borrowed from classical fascism, such as their tireless dissemination of religious bigotry. Their more overt activity in this area involves their promotion and showing of the violently anti-Muslim film "The Third Jihad," which was a project of the Clarion Fund, a shadowy rightwing Zionist operation that produced the Islamophobic film "Obsession: Radical Islam’s War with the West." According to investigative reporting by Pam Martens appearing in Counterpunch, the Clarion Fund’s main financial supporters—Donor Capital Fund and Donors Trust—are managed by people who have a long association with Charles G. Koch, billionaire patron of the Tea Party.

  • Trivializing the Holocaust charge
    • The rightwing leaders and political class of Israel have followed a policy of constant reiteration of the Nazi Holocaust for political reasons, to make good soldiers. Even more tragic is that they want young Jews to base their identity on “the worst trauma in human experience,” because they want to use that trauma—that is why these trips to Auschwitz are encouraged so intensively in Israel’s schools. Adolescents hardly able to comprehend their own bodies, much less the rise of fascism in Europe, are the subjects of the indoctrination—because they are so young, they are far more likely to be traumatized by the Holocaust if they are forced to think about it, which means the state can use their disorientation to indoctrinate them.

      There are plenty of government apparatchiks present on these little jaunts to Auschwitz, to show the teenagers how to make sense of Auschwitz. And what they tell them is that Auschwitz could very well happen again, if they aren’t willing to join the army and do what the state tells them to do. The only way to live in a world with Auschwitz is to become a loyal, unquestioning citizen-soldier of Israel. Otherwise you are a traitor to the tribe as defined by Likudnik Zionism. The aggression of religious nationalism is multiplied exponentially by identification with past trauma.

      Israel will reiterate the trauma of the Holocaust to insist, repeatedly and insistently, that the world hates them because they are Jews, that Jews can trust nobody, and that anyone that criticize Israel is an anti-Semite. To survive, they must defeat Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular, whom the Liked government portrays as simple continuations of the Nazi menace without any kind of self-interest or intentionality whatsoever—they are evil golem that exist solely to hate Jews. (Pity the poor Palestinians that must go through check-points manned by teenage soldiers indoctrinated at Auschwitz on these little all-expense-paid expeditions to the European heart of darkness.)

      These kids are not just being conditioned for war. They are being conditioned for something much worse. By constantly reiterating a the past trauma, the Israeli political class has created a trauma bond to the past. This causes young people to identify with the violence of the Holocaust, and to internalize it. And this kind of aggression operates out of a victimology so powerful that a person indoctrinated in this way will feel like the victim while hurting others--the essential posture of the sociopath, who always feels like he is the victim despite the manner in which his crimes devastate other human lives.

  • The gift of the Jews
    • One of Phil's best.

      Although I am nominally Christian, I was married for 20 years to a German-Jewish women, with whom I raised two children in the 1960s and 1970s. We sent them to a progressive school where Hebrew was taught, the idea being that they could get a modicum of Jewish education in a progressive milieu. They problem was the Hebrew teaching materials: they were filled with anti-Arab racism and propaganda. The reason my wife and I became aware of this was because our kids, and all their friends, were raising hell about the Hebrew instructional materials. Why, they wanted to know, were they being given books with pictures of hook-nosed Arabs throwing bombs into the United Nations? Wasn’t that racism?

      The people who ran this school gave us nothing but excuses. They also couldn’t explain why they didn’t teach the kids Yiddish, along with Hebrew. The literature in Yiddish seemed a lot funnier and more nuanced to me, and in many other ways better than the stuff available in Hebrew, and I felt like it had more to say about modern life. But the powers-that-were wouldn’t cop to us, couldn’t give us a straight answer. I began to feel complicit in something bad. Sadly, we didn’t take our kids out right away, even though my wife thought we should. I should have listened to her. Eventually, however, we took the kids out of the school.

      My wife's family had deep roots in the German Left and was an expert on Weimer culture. She explained at length how dangerous religious nationalism was, and how it was going to hijack American Judaism. I didn’t believe her then, but I do now. It was a tremendous gift, probably the best one I ever received, though she has been dead these many years. She even saw how Islam was going to be attacked by the West, and how right-wing Christians and Jews would work together against Arabs and Muslims. That, too, helped me, when in another time and place I became the father of a Muslim child. Then once again I saw the truth of everything my first wife had taught me, this time from the other side of the looking-glass.

  • Who's on top in VF piece-- 'Tom Buchanan' Winkelvosses or 'lifelong elite' Zuckerberg?
    • There's a fabulous comic novel in this, which I'd like very much to write, except the shadow of Israel/Palestine falls over all of it, and it's a very dark shadow. But I still cherish many of these comments, particularly MRW's saga about the Stock Market. If we can get through this Israel/Palestine thing without a major religious war, that comic novel will someday be written.

      As per the phantom "never-had yet somehow-lost" fortune of the Winklevosses (or Winkelvii, as some would have it), it reminds me of what my mother always used to say about threadbare gentility and the Old Money/New Money thing. "We're old money, my dear, really very old--so old, in fact, that we lost it a long time ago."

      How's THAT for the moral high ground? No money-grubbing in that picture!

  • Leading progressive magazine gives Palestinian solidarity the Swastika stamp
    • This is an important discussion, and it occurs to me that there are few other venues where such exchanges could take place. If for only this reason, Mondoweiss is a blessing to all, one that is changing American political culture simply by existing.

      Anybody involved in Palestinian solidarity work will inevitably have a particular, unpleasant, recurring experience. Everybody know about this, although it occurs in different ways to different people. One publicly criticizes the Israeli state, and is accused of anti-Semitism. One then says, "No, I am criticizing American support for a military occupation, which is what the Palestinians are being subjected to in the OPT. I couldn't care less whether the oppressors are Sikhs or atheists or card-carrying vegetarians, what they're doing is wrong, and the US is their main paymaster and facilitator."

      To which one's interlocutor replies, "Yes, you say you are, and you may even believe you are; but in reality you are saying these things because you hate Jews. How do I know this? Because I feel it so strongly."

      Why do they do this? First, nobody wants to admit that their dream has gradually corroded, and has finally turned into a nightmare. It's just not something that people do easily. But there's another, more complicated reason. I think those people that insist that you are victimizing them really, on some level, want a kind of victim status, at least temporarily. They want victim status just long enough to fend off all doubts about the holiness of the Israeli state, and then they want to step out of that victim status and suddenly become protagonists. But you can't go in and out that easily. The result is a highly conflicted emotional orientation that eventually becomes a situational pathology.

      Victim status is a kind of long-lost Eden for people who were once oppressed, in which the victim is always right, and nobody ever has to make any changes or do anything. People will literally kill to maintain that victim status, which is why the victim-aggressor is such a dominant type in patriarchy. In his pure state, the victim-aggressor will feel like a victim even as he tortures or kills an innocent Palestinian civilian. Victim status carries with it the purest and highest form of impunity. There's no ambiguity, no moral're the victim, right? Don't you have the right to defend yourself??

      One reason people keep comparing Israel to Weimer has nothing to do with Nazism, which was based on secular pan-German nationalism and was quite unlike the religious nationalism upon which Zionist is predicated. People make references to Weimer because Germans in the 20s were so much like the Israeli Jews in the way they're so invested in their own victimhood--that, combined with a non-stop and only partially repressed sense of inferiority. Modern Israel is Weimer to a "T" in that respect.

      It's not hard to see where the mixture of victimology and religious nationalism came from. Sixteen hundred years of Christian anti-Semitism culminating in the Holocaust, then a mere four years after Auschwitz was liberated, the founding of a Jewish state. The displacement of the Palestinians made war inevitable--ten of them in sixty years--and that's another trauma. And then came the worst trauma of all, the one so many Jews don't want to see, which is that they were, and are, just as capable of evil as the Christians.

      These things were so traumatizing, and resulted in such emotional dislocations, that many Jews could only retreat back into victimhood. Victim status was familiar, it was something they'd often heard about, and it offered protection against the rigors of adult emotional responsibility. But that kind of victimology is dangerous. In adopting victim status as a form of Jewish identity--something encouraged by the Israeli state and its proxies--the Jewish leadership in America has bought into apocalyptic tropes that endanger the existence of both Israel and Palestine, and clearly seem capable of starting the kind of disastrous worldwide religious war the neo-cons have always wanted.

      So simply by engaging in Palestinian solidarity, one is in effect criticizing certain distortions that have entered into American Judaism itself, considered in the broadest sense both as a religion and a culture. Ironically, this has created a powerful opportunity for the new rabbinical councils being organized, especially the one associated with A Jewish Voice for Peace. And it provides the opportunity for a new Jewish culture based on universal human rights, such as one finds in Students for Justice in Palestine. Tactically, Palestinian solidarity can best be expressed as support for such organizations as JVP, and for this website. I'm afraid there's no easy way here, in the sense that there's no way to avoid the name-calling. Look at what Finkelstein went through, and Phil as well, not to mention Mearsheimer and Walt.

      They are our true culture heroes. We should consider ourselves lucky to follow in their footsteps. It's not easy, but what's the alternative?

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