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Total number of comments: 39 (since 2011-03-31 19:22:59)

Localist, decentralist, ordered liberty advocate, Christian, defender of Western Civ, invested in classical liberalism but also a critic, anti-imperialist, anti-wars of choice, anti death penalty, vegetarian for moral reasons, interested in distributism, worker-owned businesses, and communitarianism, supporter of co-ops and bottom-up economics, believer in "small is beautiful" approaches to living. If I were a conservative I would be a "crunchy conservative". More interested in GK Chesterton, Russell Kirk, Alasdair MacIntyre, Jane Jacobs, Jacques Barzun and Ron Paul then "left vs. right".

Showing comments 39 - 1

  • Understanding Hamas
    • Djinn: No struggle for liberation has ever been won on kumbayas alone.

      Fortunately, our gay brothers and sisters have taken the kumbaya route. As have countless others. As we speak, left-wing Israelis and Palestinians are planning demonstrations against anti-Arab racism and the occupation and for equality. There's nothing weak about challenging injustice with non-violent means; it is rather, a subtle form of strength that works it's way through history.

      While in prison, Mandela read deeply into history and analyzed the tragedies that inevitably ensue after violence is used to achieve justice. To the dismay of some of his impatient and maximalist comrades, when released, as a leader of his country he chose the path of messy compromises, politics, meetings, reconciliation, and so forth. Much of the world thought South Africa was a tinderbox in 1990 that could only end badly, but the power of non-violence as the means to resist racism and injustice was too strong.

    • Taxi: Hamas is a legitimate Palestinian resistance group.

      The idea that lobbing rockets indiscriminately into populated areas full of civilians is a legitimate form of resistance makes me shudder. How can you believe such an awful, inhumane thing? It is one thing to attack military personnel and installations, but civilians are supposed to be off limits. Nor do I accept the argument of apologists for the US military or Zionists or others that collateral damage of civilians is acceptable. I'm not quite a Quaker, but I refuse to accept rationalizations for attacking civilians. Now, when civilians are involved in working in war industries and similar activities, they are complicit in violence, and therefore violence against them becomes more morally complex, but there is a difference between attacking a factory involved in war, and attacking random individuals).

      Taxi: Historically, violence has been a necessary tool for liberation.

      I can't really disagree with this idea at the abstract level, as I am not a pacifist, and believe in self-defense and just wars. It's true that sometimes violence is the only way to preserve life. But I agree with Pope Francis that war is always a defeat for humanity.

      I don't think justice for the Palestinians will be accomplished through Hamas lobbing rockets indiscriminately into areas where families live. Were they only to attack military personnel, they would of course be defeated, but their current tactics must be regarded by those who love peace and justice with horror.

      I note that Jewish Voice for Peace recently issued a statement including these statements:

      "In just the last few days, scores of Palestinians--with no place to hide--have been killed, while the entire population of Gaza experiences the terror of widespread bombing. Israelis have had to endure the fear of never knowing when or where the next rocket will fall."

      "None of this should be happening. As we mourn all who have died, we also reaffirm that all Israelis and Palestinians deserve security, justice, and equality."

      "End the bombing. End the occupation"

    • One can hope the more pragmatic elements of Hamas eventually triumph. I got the impression Jimmy Carter felt like there were substantive exchanges with some Hamas officials. But let's keep the big picture in mind: they act in utterly anti-liberal and anti-humane ways.

      Their clear bias towards violence and intolerance is what moral giants like Gandhi and Mandela and MLK tried to liberate us from.

  • BDS leaders say Palestinian human rights are compatible with Israeli Jewish future
    • Shingo: What you fear will happen is that the Palestinians would treat the Jews the way Israeli Jews have treated them.

      This is definitely to be feared, yes. If history is any guide, such a tragedy would quite likely not end there.

      Shingo: There’s only one justice. That which involved addressing the injustices that have been perpetrated, and only Israel has done that.

      It would be a perverse justice if the Israeli Jews' human rights are not respected in a post-BDS, post-Zionist scenario. That's not the only consideration of course. But it is a real issue. A failure to think about preventable tragedies of the future is not going to right the wrongs of the past. I hope you are not implying all the injustice is on one side.

      Shingo: Typical Zionist demands that the Palestinians prove their intentions in advance while refusing to do the same.

      I already said I'm not Zionist. I am a critic of Zionism (though I admit my views tend to be pretty close to those of Peter Beinart's). It seems a true observation even if Zionists use this as a talking point.

      What institutions among the Israelis that can be plausibly said to be preparing for the burdens and responsibilities of occupation?

      Fair point.

      Shingo: You hasbrats had your chance – many chances in fact – and you blew it.

      So those of us who have been advocating for a Palestinian state for many years now, and criticizing the Occupation, as well as the US Empire and imperialism more generally, are doing hasbara now? Doesn't that stretch the meaning of "hasbara" to the point of meaninglessness?

      I'm just a person who broods over history and is disturbed by it's tragic dimension.

      Shingo: It’s just that unlike you Israeli firsters and Zionists, Israeli Jews are not front and centre of the concerns of one state BDSers – something you probably find hard to believe.

      I certainly don't expect Palestinians to base their politics solely on keeping Zionists feeling secure or anything like that. Yet the issue of the viability of Jewish rights and physical security in an Arab majority is a real issue. You can't wish it away. It has to be dealt with front and center. Any post BDS dispensation is probably a deal killer unless some case is made for why Israeli Jews should believe in it. Your righteous indignation against injustice isn't substituting for that case.

      And look, I too am slowly losing faith and hope in the Two State Solution. I still find the more compelling arguments to be from people like Ibish, Chomsky and Finkelstein. They seem to be more rigorous in pointing out the really serious difficulties with the One State/Arab majority scenario. Maybe we're wrong. History has a way of passing ideas by. Long term, maybe Jewish Israelis could thrive in an Arab majority state. In all sincerity, point me to the best essay making the case for this (in an analytically rigorous way, hopefully)

      Overall, I think for Americans such as myself, who are neither Jewish nor Arab or Zionist/anto-Zionist, especially those influenced by the social justice tradition of our churches, we look at this situation and mostly just want all the Palestinians and Israelis to avoid more tragedies.

    • Meant to write " But what if secular One State post-Zionist type aspirations fail, and the hard men with the guns take over the Arab majority Israel-istan", not minority.

      And to clarify, by writing "Better to cling to hope for Two States, with a territorially viable Palestine forging it’s own prosperous path next to an Israel where all citizens are equal under the law" I mean having actually equal rights de facto, not just on paper or de jure.

    • I really don't understand how Israeli Jews are supposed to feel confident that their rights would be respected in whatever dispensation results after the changes these BDS activists advocate.

      Yes, I'm aware that the feelings of Zionists shouldn't get a veto on justice being done.

      But whose ideas of justice are going to prevail? Are there institutions among the Palestinians that can be plausibly said to be preparing for the burdens and responsibilities that a post-Zionist Arab-majority Israel would entail?

      Sure, there is the South Africa model. And Northern Ireland/ Maybe skeptics like myself need to use our moral imaginations more expansively, given these real-world examples. Mandela of course did overcome the dangerously fraught ethnic divides by rising to the historical moment, renouncing violence, setting a great example by endorsing the national rugby team, approving of the work of the Reconciliation committees, and overall doing yeoman's work reassuring the white South Africans that being a minority population would not mean having less rights.

      But violent crime has gone up there since the end of the Apartheid wickedness, rather severely I think. The prospect of a post-Zionist Israel-stan becoming like South Africa will likely generate not necessarily irrational fears of what comes after.

      Hearing Max Blumenthal on CSPAN recently talk about his sense of the utter improbability of a Two State Solution ever happening (what I have long advocated) is making me really worried. I fear that moment may have indeed passed with the Oslo years.

      But even though I'm not a Zionist (my views are more in the anti-imperialist/pro-peace vein of Ron Paul) I can't wrap my mind around an optimistic take of what One State comes after the end of Zionism, given the tragic histories and the violence since 1929. Maybe, in the longer term, there could be some sort of edifying pan-Semitic or Abrahamic/Ibrahamic national myths that could serve to bring a One State country together? But what if secular One State post-Zionist type aspirations fail, and the hard men with the guns take over the Arab-minority Israel-istan?

      One State BDSers seem to me to be amazingly optimistic about how it all is supposed to work out for the Israeli Jews. I have to agree with Norman Finkelstein here: a post-Zionist One State with an Arab majority is a bridge too far. Better to cling to hope for Two States, with a territorially viable Palestine forging it's own prosperous path next to an Israel where all citizens are equal under the law, ethnicity and religion nonwithstanding.

  • US intermarriage rivals Iran as a 'grave' threat to Israel -- says NYT columnist
    • US of A.

    • This strikes me as one of the more thought-provoking posts I have encountered on this site. I think identity is going to cohere around some combination or other of elements: ethnicity, tribe, faith, class, culture, sub-group, outsider vs. insider, etc.

      I'm not Jewish or Zionist, but I sense that something important would be lost in the world if the bland homogenizing forces of "liberal" culture and postmodern capitalism turned today's Jews into only somewhat vaguely differentiated urban consumers.

      In a free society, true love will have it's way, which crosses barriers the purists may try to impose. It is a beautiful thing to see happy mixed-ethnicity babies on the bus with their proud mamas. On an optimistic day I fantasize that my country can overcome our bitter history of racism and ethnocentrism because more and more of us can bring home our lover who is "other" to our families and find acceptance. The younger folks these days seem to be there already, and I notice some coffee-colored kids who have way less hang-ups then people my age would about "crossing the color line". Yes and yes.

      But all the same, people, there is nothing wrong with romantically preferring your own kind, and nothing wrong with a parent wishing that their child fall in love with someone of their own tribe. True liberal progress would involve welcoming those that cross the lines as well as those that embrace difference and ethnic particularities.

      It takes all kinds.....does it not?

  • What Comes Next: The Jewish/Palestinian Diaspora
    • There is no doubt in my mind that any resolution of the Israel/Palestine imbroglio will involve Israel as a state and a Jewish one at that – whatever that means beyond a Jewish majority or empowered minority within the boundaries of Israel.

      I’m not saying such a resolution is right or just. Still, the search for a way out of a “Jewish” state is misguided. Put simply, it’s a waste of time.

      This idea that a just solution is compatible with a Jewish majority seems a good place for justice-seekers and critics of the occupation to start from. It is grounded in what seems to more than a few of us to be a prudent, realistic take on a tragic situation. Given all the history of violence on both sides, the idea of an empowered minority however strikes me as unwise. Let's move on especially from the more extreme ideas of some BDSers who insist a Jewish minority in a one state solution is incompatible with social justice in the region.

      For what it's worth, I remain a two-stater, but admit to increasing doubts about it's viability, especially after reading some of the challenging critiques of post-Zionists and others I have encountered here and elsewhere. I'm no expert, but overall, my reading of history leads me to agree with Norman Finkelstein's rejection of a one-state solution scenario with a Jewish minority as a utopian and very impractical suggestion.

  • Following Rand Paul's historic filibuster there is room for common cause in challenging killer drones
    • Along with alot of other antiwar liberty movement people, the Hagel hearings had me on the verge of dismissing Rand Paul as a neocon-symp. But he has changed my opinion with his fillibuster. In particular, Paul's focus on the death of Anwar Awlaki’s son is most encouraging. Now, I am a Christian with an anti-death-penalty bias, so I don't agree with everything Paul says below, but this excerpt I got from is worth pondering:

      "One particularly admirable aspect of Sen. Paul’s remarks is his raising the question of how and why Anwar Awlaki’s son was murdered in cold blood by the drone lords of Washington. Here was a 16-year-old American citizen, sitting in a café somewhere in Yemen, turned into a pile of scorched bones at Obama’s command. Sen. Paul cited the remark by presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs that Abdulrahman al-Awlaki “should have a far more responsible father." What kind of country are we living in, asked Paul, that the President’s spokesman can evince such a "flippant" attitude toward human life, and such a young human life at that?

      "There was a man named [Anwar] al-Awlaki. He was a bad guy, by all evidence available to the public that I’ve read, he was treasonous. I have no sympathy for his death. I still would have tried him in a federal court for treason and I think you could have been executed. But his son was 16 years old, had missed his dad, gone for two years. His son sneaks out of the house and goes to Yemen. His son is then killed by a drone strike. They won’t tell us if he was targeted.

      "But here’s the real problem: When the President’s spokesman was asked about al-Awlaki’s son, you know what his response was? This I find particularly callous and particularly troubling. The President’s response to the killing of al-Awlaki’s son, he said he should have chosen more responsible father….

      "You know, it’s kind of hard to choose who your parents are. That’s sort of like saying to someone whose father is a thief or a murderer or a rapist, which is obviously a bad thing, but does that mean it’s okay to kill their children think of the standard we would have if our standard for killing people overseas is, you should have chosen a more responsible parent."

  • Hundreds of New Yorkers come out to denounce Israeli aggression on Gaza
    • No, the context is not complex.

      What I am trying to say by context being complex is the whole history of the region in the modern period, and not starting with Zionism, particularly. Palestinian national consciousness relative to Arab national consciousness co-develop over the Ottoman period, influenced by ideas coming from various places. The fellahin as well as the elites had varying understandings of their identity as Palestinian Arabs responding to Ottomans. Then they are forced to respond to Zionism, and there are competing nascent nationalisms: "Arab" with the possibility of a regional or even pan-Arab national dispensation, or "Palestinian". These processes, to me anyway, are anything but simple. Then Zionists of varying stripes come and pose a challenge and to some extent goad the inchoate Palestinian Arab national consciousness into a more defined form via an oppositional dialectic. My sense of all this is that it involves very complex contingent and context-sensitive historical processes. Because I have a largely non-deterministic read on history (that nonetheless allows for some determinacy) to me all this could have very well gone some other way, and the Palestinians could have a had a state in 1948, or some other national arrangement could and should have occurred that would have expressed their national consciousness and self-determination.

      That is because the relationship – the LOGISTICAL/PHYSICAL/TANGIBLE relationship – between Israeli and Palestinian is that of master and slave.

      I wouldn't characterize it that way, though there are elements of a chattel/lord system of domination in place, and lots of Palestinians are just in survival-mode, even before this latest violence. Certainly there is an unequal power arrangement. Maybe this is the difference between looking at things like an activist vs, looking at things like an academic (which I am). As a professor I am sort of trained to emphasize nuance and contradiction.

      This is a colonial conflict

      Yes, I agree.

      For what it's worth, I am an avowed opponent of colonialism and imperialism, having a very recent family history involving terrible suffering at the hands of the British Empire.

      You are writing a whole wall-of-text full of contrite claptrap b.s. when you should stick to the standard Zionist one-liner equivocations


      I'm not a Zionist. Zionists consider me a naive, tofu-smoking peace bear who doesn't understand the threat of Islamo-fascism etc. (I am actually pretty close to the libertarians who are anti-war, but I really dislike Ayn Rand).

      Often trolls like you say we (anti-Zionists) put Israel on a pedestal while other conflicts are more bloody.

      I haven't written anything like this as I don't think like that at all. There are more categories in the world than "pro-zionist" and "anti". I'm not trolling, I am sincerely trying to understand this stuff, but think differently, OK?

      This is oppression – not war, although war is a part of it. That should guide your activism. Not some academic, disconnected and transparently partisan (Peter Beinhart is a Zionist Jew and Norman Finkelstein is anti-BDS and pro-going-nowhere).

      To me, the type of compromise that can still hopefully take place will reflect much more the type of thinking of those gentlemen. I heard Finkelstein talk not long ago and thought he was pretty persuasive on the limits of what the Zionists are going to accept.

      But you smoked me out. I am an academic, I have a PhD, I read from as many different perspectives as I have time for, and thus emphasize nuance, complexity, paradox, and epistemological uncertainty. I tend to rub true believers the wrong way. I do show up at the anti-death penalty or anti-war marches and do my part, but even there I make a serious effort to treat my opponents as fellow citizens with whom I disagree on an issue, but who might have insights and with whom I might stand to listen to, as I know I have blind spots.

      You might consider trying out that way of thinking sometime.

      I can't see that I am transparently partisan though, there is not much of a side to be on when you think like I do. I just seek out truth, brother. I don't claim to possess it, particularly, but am willing to hear people out.

      Through my readings and through listening to people on as many sides as possible, I have come to the opinion that the Palestinians are the victims of a massive historical injustice, but I don't believe that killing Israeli civilians is the answer.

    • This is a big letdown for me. I have to think about what this means. I am hoping he moved past this, but it was only a couple years ago. Big disappointment.

    • I'm not affiliated with J Street. My beliefs are my own. At first I was pretty encouraged by them, and I still have hopes for them, but lately they seem too mainstream-Zionist compared to my views. Nonetheless, I think they have opened up space for criticism of Zionism.

      While I think their type of positioning is more likely to result in the kind of grand compromise that might result in actual progress on the ground for the Palestinians, I worry that they are operating from a framework that when push comes to shove will relegate Palestinian rights to a secondary consideration.

    • That would be the same Beinart who admitted that when it comes to Israel, he is willing to check his liberal values at the door right?

      Where did he say that? Was he referring to how he used to think, not how he thinks now?

    • Curious: Are you…
      - pro-Israel (a secular, democratic and egalitarian state of and for all Israelis, equally); or
      - pro-”‘Jewish State’ of Israel” (a supremacist “democracy” essentially and primarily of and for Jews)?

      The former.

      As an American, the tragic and evil history of racism in this country makes me wish no country every repeats our mistakes, and privileges one ethnic or racial group over another. I can only hope humanity expunges this poison with as little accompanying trauma and violence as possible.

      But look, America still has quite a ways to go in this regard, do we not? I may judge the Israelis harshly for the lack of equality for all their citizens, but those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Having said that, noone who openly espouses racial or ethnic superiority can be elected to a national office in this country, not sure that is true of Israel.

      I could be naive, but I persist in thinking that Zionism can reform itself, and that Jewish tikkun ideals can help overcome the marked tendencies towards ethnocentrism.

      Could Israel evolve to grant de facto and de jure equal rights to it's Arab citizens, while still remaining a Zionist state in some fashion and still retaining a Jewish majority? Maybe. Israel's Declaration of Independence states that Israel "will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture".

      Maybe after all these years of suffering and violence, Arab and Jewish Israelis will look to that document, aspire to the fulfillment of those words, and forge a new dispensation. I'm not giving up hope yet.

    • Yes, because a zio-troll is precisely who would use weazle words like “dangerously reckles” as opposed to saying like it is – which is criminal.

      "Dangerously reckless" is weasel-words? Wow. I think of such wording as pretty harsh, actually.

      Has any zionist, anywhere, tried to defend Israel that way? I doubt it.

      I remain unconvinced the IDF and political higher-ups in Israel think it is in their self interest to kill innocents deliberately. Rather, I think what is going on is more like what the US is doing in Afghanistan with drone strikes. Maybe killing innocents through reckless use of violence constitutes war crimes, I don't know. As an American and Christian, I truly hate the thought that innocent families are dying in Afghanistan and Gaza, and my tax dollars are involved in both. This is one of the many reasons I am a Ron Paul supporter.

    • Then you are anti-war and pro-fantasy. There is simply no way to harmonize being pro-israel and wanting peace “for all”, an end of western imperialism, and just solution for “everyone” (which, by definition includes the Palestinians), especially one where the Palestinians actually (in fact, not in rhetoric about the future) have their own real state.

      It is possible you are correct.

      I remain clinging on to a two-state solution. A Palestinian-American explained to me the other day why I am wrong, and I admit I might be hoping for the impossible at this point.

      You can’t separate israel from its judeo-supremacist ideology because 70 years have demonstrated that it is, in fact, nothing other than that hateful ideology.

      That is too reductionistic to be accurate. Israel should not be reduced to it's worst elements, that is not fair. There is more to Israel than it's militarism and the belief among some, I hope a minority, that Arabs are inferior or in any event undeserving of equal rights. There are scientific, artistic, industrial, medical and humanitarian energies at work in Israel that have to be recognized as well.

      There is no solution, in my mind, other than being pro-peace, anti-israel, and pro-a replacement state in which the civil, political and human rights of all respected on a basis of freedom, justice, compensation & reconciliation for past wrongs and absolute equality.

      I guess I am with Norman Finkelstein and Peter Beinart on this one. I just don't see that the Zionists are going to vote themselves into a minority and/or let the state of Israel be dissolved. I persist in thinking there must be a way to carve out a viable Palestine with part of Jerusalem/Al Quds as the capital, and for equal rights under the law for Arab Israelis. Maybe I'm wrong, but I still think that is the most practical arrangement.

    • Which proves my point. Tex Tradd is talking to wall.

      Abe Foxman may not notice. But people like Peter Beinart, Andrew Sullivan, Joe Klein, maybe even Jeff Goldberg and Tom Friedman may. If so, this heightens the contradictions between influential liberal Zionists and liberal critics of Zionism with right-wing Zionism.

      Look, I understand, people are dying right now, and these distinctions about something that might happen in the future don't matter when your 1 year old is dead. But there is a big difference between Noam Chomsky making a point about the need for justice for Palestinians that 100,000 people read and Tom Friedman making a similar point that 10,000,000 people read.

    • What I mean by the peace I advocate is certainly not a status quo where the Palestinians are denied self-determination and basic human rights. So merely stopping the current round of fighting is not peace. People must have the opportunity for flourishing and lives of dignity and justice for there to be real peace.

      The US will not tolerate a Palestinian state. What sort of “peace” is possible given this fact?

      I actually believe the US will tolerate a Palestinian state, but whether the most the US will accept is less than the least the Palestinians will accept on the status of East Jerusalem/Al Quds, water, and right of return remains to be determined. At some point the realpolitik may change, whee the cost the US is paying may prove to great for the US to thwart a viable Palestinian state.

    • If the violence is disproportionate, then so must the affirmation you speak of.

      I think that is right. Disproportionate violence is disproportionately a violation of human dignity.

      However, there is a major difference between intentional violence against civilians and accidental violence against civilians, such as that which occurs when a policeman confronted with a hostage situation kills a hostage along with a hostage-taking gunman.

      Is what the IDF is doing in Gaza, where innocents are destroyed, in the same category?

      Zionist-activist assure us that it is, and too often make accusations of dark motives if this is questioned . Anti-zionist activists are quite convinced that the IDF is deliberately killing innocents.

      I don't claim to know the real truth here. At the very least it seems to me the IDF is being dangerously reckless. I find it baffling that they might consider it in Israel's interest to deliberately kill innocents. I do recall the sickening t-shirts from a few years back that said "one shot two kills", which makes me wonder if soldiers currently in the IDF are indeed worse than dangerously reckless and are committing war crimes.

      Yet it seems to me that the higher-ups in Israel and the IDF must realize that deliberately killing civilians would make Israel look terrible and evil, so why would they do it? Maybe I have a blind spot here, but it seems a simpler explanation is that they are dangerously reckless in their use of force, as is the US with our drone strikes.

      Of course, for a family trying to live, hearing bombs falling and fearing a horrible death, these distinctions are of no use. Yet it is the role of the peace and antiwar movements to try to get at the truth. I don't agree with the US Government's policy in Afghanistan or Israel's policy in Gaza, and while I hope in both cases there is a sincere effort to truly minimize civilian death, I fear this is not the case.

    • I think you are misguided. The issue here is not merely the use of violence, but the oppression by the israelis of all Palestininans, every day, nonstop for 70 years.

      Fair point. The underlying context is however very complex, while the current situation where civilians are dying demands a clear outcry.

      Not all pro-peace and antiwar people think the same way about the meaing of what has happened in the region over the last several generations. There is ongoing injustice and dispossesion, but this does not admit a simple explanation where only the Zionists are unjust. Rather the unjust situation for the Palestinians is rooted in a cluster of historical actions and decisions, claims about justice and counterclaims, violence and reprisals, with a lot of blame to go around for the Western powers as well as the principals. I don't accept the arguments of people like Netanyahu and Liberman about the meaning of Zionism and the origins of the Palestinian situation any more than the idea that European settlers fleeing from religious persecution in England had a right to take Native American's land. Nor do I accept what Hamas says. Maximalist narratives are part of the problem, not the solution.

      You can be pro-peace and anti-Hamas, but above all, you must be anti-Israel.

      Nope, I am pro Israel (even though I don't accept much of the Zionist historiography) and pro Palestinian. I want peace for all, and an end to the imperialism of the Western powers. I want a just solution for everyone, with either a fair two state solution or a workable one-state (I don't know how that would actually work, and the violence of recent days makes me doubt the viability of it all the more, but I had a Palestinian-American activist explain the logic behind the one-state solution to me in person the other day and I admit I am having more doubts about the two-state solution than ever. But I still think the Zionists are not going to vote themselves into a minority status, nor should they).

      My analysis is pretty much like Peter Beinart's on what the practical implications are at this point, given what has happened. I also take seriously what Jimmy Carter and Norman Finkelstein say about what the most practical and just solution is likely to be. I don't think that makes me anti-Israel and anti-Palestinian, but pro both.

    • I don’t really disagree with what you say here–I think it’s great that JVP is being morally consistent. I’m just suggesting not being too judgmental of people who don’t quite live up to those standards in the current circumstances.

      Think about why so many people are blind to the dispossesion of the Palestinians, and so quick to dismiss the criticism of Zionism by social-justice and peace movement people. They think we don't believe the lives of Israelis matter, or worse.

      Their accusation is "you're not pro justice or pro peace, your real motivation is that you hate Israel and single it out for criticism and want to destroy it."

      By making sure we don't accept what Hamas is doing as just, but in fact condemn it as unjust and reprehensible, we counteract that effectively. They can't paint us as inconsistent in our desire for justice and peace. We take away the argument they use over and over again.

      True, they can always distort what pro-peace/antiwar people are saying, but when we state plainly that we are against Hamas targeting of civilians, we are against the IDF's killing of civilians, we are against all killing of civilians, we take away the argument they depend on the most.

      Jewish Voice for Peace has this figured out. Their can't be dismissed as Israel-haters now. Their statement that JVP opposes all attacks on civilians, and urges the end of rocket attacks from Gaza into civilian communities in Israel is clear and totally necessary. Let the rest of the pro-peace/antiwar community follow their lead.

    • The Jewish Voice for Peace statement reads: JVP opposes all attacks on civilians, and urges the end of rocket attacks from Gaza into civilian communities in Israel, which only serve to derail efforts for a just resolution to the conflict.

      Yes! JVP gets it. They are being quite clear here, and while I am sure there will be efforts to paint them as stooges for Hamas, anyone who looks at this statement will see they are pro-peace, not pro-Hamas.

    • I’d cut pro-Palestinian protestors some slack, because the press is full of the usual “Israel is just defending itself” blather.

      The uncritical acceptance of the Israeli government's stated rationale by people in the MSM is precisely why protestors should be clear and unambiguous about condemnimg Hamas also. That way, a clear and consistent pro-peace and anti-violence message is less likely to be distorted or ignored.

      We can't be less concerned about innocent people on one side or the other. We have to oppose all violence against non-combatants, full stop.

      I am heartened if the people in Jewish Voice for Peace are making that clear, it's alot harder to take pro-peace messages out of context or distort them as being pro-Hamas that way. JVP people include some peace-movement veterans who have learned from experience about messaging.

      Look, those of us in the peace movement have to be extra-vigilant here, because there is alot of bias towards depicting us as useful idiots for the evil intentions of Hamas. We can be pro-peace and anti-Hamas, but we have to take the extra step and make it clear Israeli civilians are of equal worth as Palestinian civilians (and all civilians everywhere).


      Alasdair MacIntyre is pretty fascinating, and in my opinion one of the thinkers who has truly transcended the left vs. right dualism. He seems to have synthesized elements of Marxism and Aristotelianism to make a pro-worker, pro-cooperative association ethos that I can only hope catches on:

      'If MacIntyre’s ethics of finance raises more questions than it settles, he still beguiles with his illustrations from history. For example, he entertained his listeners with the story of the founding of a diesel engine factory in which an investor and engineer came together to create an ideal small-scale business for their mutual benefit and that of the local community. Later, demonstrating the ways in which globalised “bad character” can be resisted by “virtuous risk taking,” he cited four narratives: the 18th-century Guaraní Indians (depicted in the film The Mission) who chose a collectivised future under “proto-Leninist” Jesuits rather than slavery; the early founders of the kibbutzim at odds with competing visions of collectivisation; the Kerala leaders of the Marxist Communist party of India in 1957, who placated landowners and government while helping the poor; and the small farmers of Donegal in the 1960s who chose to establish a co-operative that sustained their Gaelic-speaking community rather than emigrate.

      Apologists for globalisation, he argues, treat it as a source of benefits, and only accidentally and incidentally a source of harms. Hence, the view that “to be for or against globalisation is in some ways like being for or against the weather.” '

    • Would a zio-troll oppose what the IDF is doing to civilians and fear the IDF is being dangerously reckless, or worse?

      Actually, I am not a Zionist, but a critic of Zionism. I just try to be consistent. It should be possible for justice-seekers to affirm the dignity and humanity of all non-combatants who are victims, full stop.

      I am well aware of the disproportionate violence towards Palestinians in this unfolding tragedy. I know there is a pattern here, rooted in who has power and who does not. But civilians are civilians.

      Calling out Hamas for targeting civilians does not undermine my desire for long-denied justice for Palestinians.

    • Are these protestors also protesting Hamas firing rockets at population centers?

      I oppose what the IDF is doing to non-combatants, and for the same reason oppose what Hamas is doing.

      I suspect Hamas is deliberately targeting civilians, and fear the IDF is being dangerously reckless or worse. Yet people of conscience should all oppose attacks against all civilians, whether in Gaza, Tel Aviv, Afghanistan, or anywhere.

      “War is always a failure for humanity”-John Paul II

  • Exile and the Prophetic: The interfaith ecumenical deal is dead
    • Oh, I see! They “may reflect the deepest aspirations and most passionate commitments of people wrestling with difficult challenges”, but they are inexplicable (or even repellent) to outsiders. Sure, that makes sense, if you consider how spirutually degreaded the “outsiders” are, completely unable to grasp “the deepest aspirations and most passionate commitments of people wrestling with difficult challenges”.

      A good resource for you when thinking about these kinds of controversies might be the work of the anthropologist Clifford Geertz, especially "The Interpretation of Cultures". What he advocates is a sort of phenomenological method when dealing with customs and beliefs that seem strange or meaningless. The point is that people in one cultural space will use language that is very salient and even emotionally resonant to them, yet this can seem pointless to those of another belief system. Communities will produce collective works of great internal meaning that are opaque to outsiders, who can easily be unaware of experiential microworlds of richness and depth. There really is no "fact of the matter" to be disputed when this kind of cultural-hermeneutical distance comes up, but it is easier to build coalitions for justice when diverse groups cut each other some slack on this kind of thing.

      Consider as a case study the success of the pro-life movement, regardless of your personal feelings on reproductive rights. Rural Protestant Evangelicals and urban Catholics had layers of mistrust and misunderstanding, with no track record of working together but plenty of animosity, with theological distances almost too great to overcome. It is hard to overstate the depth of cultural differences, class markers, and mutual suspicions surrounding the early phases of this movement. There was much annoyance at some of the language in each side's God-talk. Yet the groups overcame their differences to construct a powerful coalition.

      Probably a similar process of mutual respect for what can seem to be strange or meaningless internal customs or language may yet need to be developed among those of very different backgrounds who long for justice for the Palestinians.

    • It is striking in a variety of ways, not the least in its attention to political detail and its modest employment of the typical theological fluff that so often dominates Church declarations.

      "Typical theological fluff" strikes me as uncharitable.

      What to an outsider might appear excessive spiritual verbosity and vacuous God-talk, can be of the greatest meaning to people within that community. This is not to excuse a lack of action when action is needed. Yet theological statements may reflect the deepest aspirations and most passionate commitments of people wrestling with difficult challenges.

      Of course, activists care mostly about what is useful to the cause, whereas theological reflections on history, justice, repentance and responsibility often depict a complex world where multiple parties suffer and cause suffering. This kind of nuance is often of little use to activists.

      That said, the focus of the Presbyterians on action reflects an urgency and thirst for justice in this world, not the next.

  • Did you see the location for the presidential debate on foreign policy? Help!
    • "He represents a deeply problematic side of liberal Zionism which tries to stop harsh critics from being able to keep their day jobs"

      This is poorly worded. I meant to say, his labeling of critics as anti-semites might potentially have the effect of people losing writing jobs as a journalist, but I don't want to accuse him of trying to get people fired. I don't think that is what he tries to do.

    • Jeffrey Goldberg has his antenna too finely tuned to anti-semitic frequencies, but his NYTimes piece is the work of a serious analyst. He should get credit for exploring and musing on the attitudes of various Zionists the way that he does. He is gently but firmly bringing ideas into circulation that challenge the Likudnik ethos. True, he can morph into a tribalist ideologue when he senses certain boundaries are crossed, leading him into embarrassing screeds against Andrew Sullivan, Maureen Dowd, and who knows who else. All of us have our ideological tripwires and passionate complexes though, perhaps tribal, perhaps religious, perhaps something else: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8).

      I am not meaning to cut him too much slack. The accusation of anti-semitism is a very serious business. It is irresponsible of Goldberg, an educated man who is quite aware of the complexity of the world and who should know better before hurling such accusations unfairly.

      Still, Goldberg should get more credit from Mondoweiss posters for his writings that challenge Zionism from within. He does not live in a black and white universe. He drew complex and nuanced portraits of the Palestinians he encountered. He is trying in his own flawed way to save Zionism from it's worst excesses. He represents a deeply problematic side of liberal Zionism which tries to stop harsh critics from being able to keep their day jobs. Yet I trust his judgment on how to get to a viable two state solution far more than I do those anti-Zionist BDS activists rightly called out by Norman Finkelstein for desiring Israel to not exist at all.

  • Liberal Zionists' vision of religious segregation puts them to the right of western neo-fascists -- Max Blumenthal
    • Mr. Weiss, I have never been to Israel, but I have pored over history and human nature for decades. Likely the best we should hope for would be an enlightened Israeli network to come to power with the sort of moral imagination that seizes the historical moment.

      Such a group would have to think expansively within Zionism to rescue Zionism (shades of Burke!) and to change the current dispensation to include rather than exclude, to share Jerusalem, and to live up to the highest humanistic aspirations of the early exemplars of the movement.

      Perhaps by forging a pan-Semitic mythopoesis that references and appeals to partially shared ancestry, language, and spirituality, bold leaders could seize the moment and push Zionism to evolve in ways that the Arab Israelis could relate to. I think many Palestinians and Arab Israelis believe they have Jewish ancestry, and this could help shore up a resonant and powerful new basis for inclusion.

      Having said that, I don't see why the Jewish Israelis should be willing to become a minority in the country. For all it's serious flaws, Israel has recognizably robust liberal and democratic institutions and culture that I am unaware has viable counterparts among the Palestinians at this time. I just don't think Jewish Israelis should or would have faith that their rights would be respected in a post or anti-Zionist dispensation.

      Frankly, the experience of white South Africans in recent years does not make for an altogether happy tale either. J.M Coetzee had spoken out against apartheid but I believe had to leave South Africa after his novel Disgrace shed an unflattering light on conditions there. I might expect the situation of dissident Zionist intellectuals to be not altogether dissimilar in a post or anti-Zionist Israel.

      True, over the long term, the demographics may be in favor of Arab Israelis anyway. Forward thinking Zionists should be working hard to prepare for this eventuality.

      Perhaps I am thinking too narrowly about the possibilities of Israeli Zionists to recognize and respond to the valid claims of the indigenous Arabs. Maybe there is a Palestinian Mandela and an Israeli DeKlerk. Yet I suspect Norman Finkelstein is right when he argues by way of analogy that while true justice might in theory entail allowing homeless people to move in to our houses, what people will actually do for the homeless is rather less than this.

    • Well I am neither a liberal nor a Zionist, yet I think liberal Zionism in Peter Beinart's formulation holds the best chance of a workable resolution for Israel and Palestine. I don't know the specifics of what solution Beinart might have proposed, but generally speaking it seems to me that liberal Zionism allows for a recognition of the rights of Arabs, but also that the Jewish Israelis have needs and rights that have to be respected in any just solution, and they have valid reasons for thinking this would not be the case if they are a minority.

      Let's say you are a Jewish Israeli who wants justice and peace for everyone, not just Israeli Jews. You do the work to understand multiple perspectives on Zionism, including the most trenchant critiques. You force yourself to learn various histories of how the land has come to be yours, and you don't shy away from taking seriously the most cogent arguments undermining the moral legitimacy of how the country was established. In short, you do the work to truly understand the perspectives of anti-Zionists and post-Zionists, and the case they make for a new dispensation that would replace Zionism with an eventual Arab majority via the right of return.

      What then? Would you feel confident that this new dispensation would support dissenting views on how to manage the inevitable problems? Would you expect free speech and a freewheeling press and a relatively independent judiciary to be supported and nurtured in the new post- (or anti-) Zionist situation? Or would you shudder at thinking for your and your children's prospects in such a situation?

      If it is true that Palestinians who have been involved in actual terrorism against civilians are celebrated as heroes by many in the West Bank, to the point where streets are named after them, why should liberal Zionists trust the Palestinians and Arab Israelis who might come to have majoritarian power in the new post-Zionist or anti-Zionist country? Isn't there are good chance a post or anti-Zionist country turns into an Arab majority via the right of return?

      I guess I am one of the remaining people who still hope for a two state solution, with probably some of East Jerusalem or Al Quds as the capital of Palestine, next to an Israel where Zionism evolves to recognize the need for Arab Israelis to be full participants in the country, with equal rights de facto and not just de jure. I see liberal Zionism, or something like it under another label, as the likeliest way to achieve this.

      We have to recognize that whatever our sincere beliefs about the injustices done by Zionists, the solution has to come via compromise with Zionism. Zionists are not going to vote themselves into a situation where they are a minority in a country run by people with weak liberal traditions and institutions, who view Zionism as the major source of evil in the region, if not the world.

  • 4 arrested for 'correcting... poisonous ad'
    • There is plenty of talk about the "real problem" but you are not going to convince Middle Americans to come over and support your cause if your tactics seem antithetical to our ideals. Freeway banners may get you a ticket but they don't attempt to silence debate. If there is an acceptance of communist or black-bloc intolerant tactics in the anti-zionist movement, it will forever remain politically impotent and marginal in this country, and the Palestinian suffering will continue.

      I rather suspect that there are quite a number of rightwing Zionists out there who have very similar non-liberal ideas about free speech as do some of the posters here!

    • Free speech that prevents other free speech doesn't really count as respecting free speech, does it?

      If much of this website was covered with anti-mondoweiss pop-ups that won't go away, and that prevents people from reading the posts, would that be free speech?

      Or are you saying, free speech for me, but not for thee?

    • The more I think about it, the more the "worse is better" idea seems appropriate here.

      The Geller and Adelson wing of Zionism has a tendency to reveal some attitudes about Arabs that Middle Americans find pretty shocking and repulsive. To the extent their statements are publicized, more U.S citizens may question wonder just what we are spending our money on over there.

    • I'm not a Zionist (though I agree with about everything Peter Beinart has written so far) but I will bleat about vandalism nonetheless. The Zionists are right to do so.

      People, this sort of behavior sets back the cause of critiquing Zionism. The AIPACers and Greater Israel types and hasbara trolls use this kind of thing to bring back questioning doubters into the fold, or to convince idealistic college students and liberals that anti-Zionism is extreme and anti-liberal. Anyone have any doubt they will make hay out of this?

      You either let your opponents have their say or you abandon liberal ideals.

      "If you're really in favor of free speech, then you're in favor of freedom of speech for precisely for views you despise."

    • But when you censor ideologues like Geller, you allow them to claim victimhood and claim the moral high ground. Then someone like Limbaugh or Hannity runs with it and they push the "liberal fascism" meme or "leftists act like Nazis" line. What a gift to the Islamaphobes!

    • What he said.

  • 'Savage' NY subway ads get a make-over-- revealing their true character
    • Anyone can obscure the message of another via this method.

      Ideologically righteous hackers could obstruct this blog with a huge "racist" banner, and feel justified.

      I am opposed to both, being influenced by liberal ideals, which some on the Left still defend. As Chomsky put it: "if you're in favor of freedom of speech, that means you're in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise."

      Better to argue with Pamela Geller and her ilk then to stop them from getting their point across. Let them have their say, then find the weak points and attack those.

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