Why Is Ireland Such A Bastion of Anti-Israel Hatred?

by Henry on June 27, 2011

Asks Jeffrey Goldberg, in a blogpost that relies in its entirety on a column by Irish opinionator Kevin Myers. A cogent question, to be sure. But only one of a number of such questions which have been investigated by the indefatigable Mr. Myers. I look forward to future Myers-inspired Jeffrey Goldberg posts, asking the hard questions about why we give aid to Africa, when Africa has given nothing to anyone – except for AIDS. After all, the “wide-eyed boy-child we saved, 20 years or so ago, is now a priapic, Kalashnikov-bearing hearty, siring children whenever the whim takes him.” Myers is indeed quite emphatic about the threat of African priapism, warning us about “violent, Kalashnikov-toting, khat-chewing, girl-circumcising, permanently tumescent layabouts,” and “an entire continent of sexually hyperactive indigents,” where politicians indulge in “voodoo idiocy” about “the efficacy of a little tap water on the post-coital penis as a sure preventative against infection.” And this is not even to mention the threat on the home front of a welfare state which encourages teenage girls to “consciously embark upon a career of mothering bastards because it seems a good way of getting money and accommodation from the State.” I’m looking forward to Goldberg’s in-depth investigation of the “cash-crop whelping” scandal in a forthcoming issue of the Atlantic Monthly. Very likely, the Israel hating, handwringing politically correct liberals who have targeted Myers in the past will start to target Goldberg too. But I’ve no doubt whatsoever that he has the moral courage to withstand them.

{ 220 comments }

1

dsquared 06.27.11 at 4:09 pm

Throughout the decades of Saddam Hussein, whose regime caused the deaths of well over a million people, there wasn’t a breath of liberal protest against him. Gassing the Kurds? Not a whimper. Invading Kuwait? Not one single angry placard-bearing European liberal outside an Iraqi embassy.

This one needs to be added to the catechism of “clock struck fourteen” moments – ie, statements that are not only false, but indicative that any other information coming from the same source is also likely to be false.

2

Alex 06.27.11 at 4:25 pm

Now I see why people were surprised when I recommended his 1970s Norn Iron memoir. He really is quite the fuckstick.

3

James Kroeger 06.27.11 at 4:41 pm

Why? Well, to the extent that it might be true, I suppose it could have something to do with Ireland’s historical opposition to British-inspired colonialism.

Northern Ireland is, of course, a British colony carved out of the land of the indigenous people living there. Israel is a Jewish colony—inspired by Britain—carved out the the land of the indigenous people (Palestinians) living there. I suppose that could be the basis of any anti-Israel sentiments that may be common in Ireland today.

4

Ben 06.27.11 at 4:51 pm

“Northern Ireland is, of course, a British colony carved out of the land of the indigenous people living there.”

Well, of course, in the same way that England is a Norman colony carved out of the land of the Celts and Saxons, and Ireland is a Celtic colony carved out of the land of the Picts, and ……

How many generations does it take before the invaders become the indigenous people? Or is it a matter of picking a period which is politically convenient?

No need to answer that.

5

Jim Demintia 06.27.11 at 5:04 pm

“How many generations does it take before the invaders become the indigenous people? Or is it a matter of picking a period which is politically convenient?

No need to answer that.”

I’ll answer it anyway. My guess is that that happens right around the time that the invaders no longer systematically discriminate against a subject people on the basis of their indigeneity.

6

P O'Neill 06.27.11 at 5:06 pm

Another low point:

The suicide bombers of London two years ago hadn’t been born when this chapter opened in 1979: and such has been the utterly cretinous disregard across Europe for the huge cultural differences between the Islamic and the secular/Christian worlds, that the Continent has since then blithely continued to admit hundreds of thousands of Muslims.

However, true pride of place in the European imbecility stakes must surely go to Ireland, which now has some 60,000 Muslims officially living here, though the figure is probably more like 100,000, the vast majority having arrived since 9/11. Now, just how stupid is that?

7

P O'Neill 06.27.11 at 5:06 pm

Note both paragraphs above are Myers (the usual CT block paragraph problem)

8

bert 06.27.11 at 5:10 pm

I’m going to take a wild guess and suggest that neither James Kroeger nor Jim DeMintia are from Northern Ireland. Crazy stab in the dark, I know.

9

Chris Bertram 06.27.11 at 5:15 pm

_My guess is that that happens right around the time that the invaders no longer systematically discriminate against a subject people on the basis of their indigeneity._

I’m all for keeping dsquared in his place.

10

James Kroeger 06.27.11 at 5:25 pm

Ben, 4:

How many generations does it take before the invaders become the indigenous people? Or is it a matter of picking a period which is politically convenient?

My reference to “indigenous people” is useful in explaining only the emotions and the feelings of injustice that are current within a population of dispossessed people.

On your point, it may be true now that a majority of Israel’s citizens were born on the land of Israel/Palestine, but that detail is largely irrelevant in light of the fact that the dispossessed population involved (1) is equal to or greater than the population of the conquerors, (2) is fairly-well educated, and (3) well-connected to a billion sympathetic “cousins” who are not without resources.

11

bert 06.27.11 at 5:51 pm

A few too many bong hits in front of Braveheart, and there’s a link in your mind between the vile English and the despicable Jew.
Future attempts at amateur psychology will be better off without it.
Irish Catholic Kevin Myers was born in England, by the way.

12

Eamonn 06.27.11 at 6:10 pm

Myers views on some subjects are repugnant therefore his views on the subject of interest to Goldberg must be wrong. Hmmm….

It should also be recalled that no one has done more than Myers to rescue the memory of those Irishmen who fought against the German empire in WWI and against Nazism in WWII, and very few did more to prick the conscience of the public in Ireland with regard to the nature and practises of the Provos

13

Henry 06.27.11 at 6:26 pm

bq. very few did more to prick the conscience

With the emphasis, quite emphatically, being on the word ‘prick.’ I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d done more harm than good – his public demeanour is not one calculated to win doubters over.

More generally, I’m quite familiar with Myers’ journalistic output, and indeed rather more familiar than I might wish to be in the best of all possible worlds. He has a quite cohesive and tightly-bound together set of claims concerning Africa, Islam, immigration of horrid foreigners who worship strange gods, and the suicidal wishy-washiness of European liberals with respect to all of the above. About the best that can be said of him is that his pieces are not as consistently loony as those of Ruth Dudley Edwards. Although in fairness to Dudley Edwards, she has not to my knowledge written a column warning of the political dangers of African men’s massive boners.

14

candle 06.27.11 at 6:38 pm

Damn, I just bought Watching the Door (the Norn Iron memoir referenced by Alex above) because I’d heard it was quite good, but I never read the Independent so didn’t have much context for Myers. Is it worth reading anyway? Also, is there a large dollop of fantasy in it, do we think, as the review in the UK Indie seems to imply?

This does explain, however, why the guy in the secondhand bookshop was mildly sarcastic about my choice of book. I thought it was just my being English.

15

Martin Bento 06.27.11 at 7:04 pm

How extensively must one investigate African penises to conclude that they are permanently tumescent? Did he spend all day in the showers at the gym examining them? Did he spend his summer vacation videoing them? Did he keep grabbing and batting them trying to get the blood out and failing?

16

Ben 06.27.11 at 7:43 pm

@Jim Dimintia:

I’ll answer it anyway. My guess is that that happens right around the time that the invaders no longer systematically discriminate against a subject people on the basis of their indigeneity.

Conclusory, circular, and subjective, all at once. Nice!

You can basically pick and choose whichever side you like then.

@James Kroeger

On your point, it may be true now that a majority of Israel’s citizens were born on the land of Israel/Palestine, but that detail is largely irrelevant

It’s nice to know you don’t consider it a morally relevant fact.

At no point should anyone just accept their grandparents lost the war, and go and do something productive with their lives. No, far better to nurse wounds forever. What was the Schleswig-Holstein question again? Surely we can make some mileage out of that.

Somewhere I hear a starling saying “Mortimer”.

17

bert 06.27.11 at 8:02 pm

James,
It’s possible you’ve retired hurt. But if you’re still around, I should apologise. In making fun of you I’ve imputed views I’m sure you don’t hold.
Your stated views are enough. While you were still clearing your throat at #3, you offered this: “Well, to the extent it might be true …”
Clearly unaware that you had just holed whatever followed below the waterline.
There is a large industry, of which Goldberg is a relatively unexceptionable part, dedicated to worrying about European antisemitism. It ranges in tone from beard-stroking to spleen. And it extends beyond America: Steyn is Canadian, Mad Mel is British.
Ireland is an unusual focus. France is a favourite. And woe betide any German who foolishly blunders into the minefield.
To the extent that their concerns might be true (and that is shall we say open to question) your explanation falls feebly short.

18

Henri Vieuxtemps 06.27.11 at 8:02 pm

Um, their grandparents didn’t lose any war.

The British controlled India for 200 years, and that wasn’t long enough.

19

geo 06.27.11 at 8:23 pm

ben @ 16: just … go and do something productive with their lives

An excellent prescription for all dispossessed and/or disadvantaged people.

20

Ed Marshall 06.27.11 at 8:31 pm

@Ben
Bonus points for managing to support a maximum, nationalist, Zionist outcome in the Levant while posing as some sort of world weary figure (What a world! Nothing anyone can do about it! Sucks, but this is how things go!). Usually you only see this stage of argument after the accusations of anti-semitism, an attempt at a dubious history lesson, etc.. I appreciate your brevity.

21

Ed Marshall 06.27.11 at 8:34 pm

Although Myers beat you to the less than credible accusations of wild-eyed Judenhass in the guise of Palestinian sympathy, and while he picked an odd time frame to butcher historical facts (the near past), I guess he still sort of had that covered first anyway.

22

Eamonn 06.27.11 at 8:48 pm

@bert, 17 isn’t fooled. He can see through the maneuvers and tricks of the Jews and their hirelings, who try to draw attention from their crimes by bleating about “antisemitism”. And not only that, he’s brave enough to speak out. What terrible revenge do the Jews and their lackeys have in store for Bert?

23

J. Otto Pohl 06.27.11 at 8:49 pm

Meyers has a very distorted view of Africa no doubt. It is a diverse continent. So obviously there are some places with problems. But, where I live in Legon, Ghana it is very nice. Accra itself reminds me of Los Angeles without the gangs and violent crime. In fact it is a lot safer here in Ghana than many parts of the US or Europe. Police here still do not generally carry guns due to the low level of violent crime. The population is generally quite religious, most people are devout Christians, so displays of overt sexuality are much rarer here than in the US or Europe. As far as health care is concerned it is pretty good. There is socialized medicine here and an active campaign to try and stop the spread of diseases like HIV. I have never seen an HIV prevention PSA here mention tap water. Usually they mention abstinence, monogamy, and condoms in that order.

Why the Irish might be critical of Israel is pretty easy to figure out. There were pretty close ties between the IRA, PLO and ANC during the 1970s and 80s. These ties were based upon a feeling of solidarity between people that rightly considered themselves the victims of ethnic/racial (ethnicity is really just race minus the biology) discrimination. So I think that people with any sympathy towards the plight of Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland would probably likely also sympathize with the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. It should be noted that of the three situations, N. Ireland, S. Africa and Palestine that only the Palestinians remain today victims of systematic discrimination. What is strange is that American liberals who were so strongly opposed to apartheid in South Africa would be such consistently strong supporters of apartheid in Palestine. Even American “radicals” generally oppose the type of boycotts of Israel that helped end apartheid in South Africa.

24

daniel waweru 06.27.11 at 8:49 pm

At no point should anyone just accept their grandparents lost the war, and go and do something productive with their lives.

Isn’t this a self-defeating thing for a Zionist to say? (Also: Jan van Riebeeck turned up in the 1650s.)

25

Henry 06.27.11 at 8:50 pm

Ed – Ben says nothing that even faintly approximates to “less than credible accusations of wild-eyed _Judenhass_ in the guise of Palestinian sympathy,” and suggesting that he would have argued this, had Myers not beaten him to the punch, is at best shoddy argument, and at worst quite offensive. I’ll thank you to stick to disagreeing with things that other commenters actually say, rather than things that you imagine (without any specific evidence whatsoever) that they believe.

26

bjk 06.27.11 at 8:50 pm

I don’t know how I missed this Kevin Myers before. Just some headlines which make a ton of sense: Arab Christians don’t see events in Middle East as liberating, Strauss-Kahn is one of those politicians who serve only power and their own craving for it, Wind is a waste of capital — but at least it makes the Greens feel good, and my favorite: Instead of sporting heroes we have witless slobs.

27

Henry 06.27.11 at 8:55 pm

Eamonn – please see criticisms above of Ed above, reverse their polarity, and apply them to yourself quadruple-fold. Accusing other commenters of being anti-Semites, without good evidence of same, is liable to get you banned in a hurry.

28

Eamonn 06.27.11 at 9:01 pm

@Henry I stand by my comment and refer you to Bert’s by way of evidence.

29

Henry 06.27.11 at 9:01 pm

And more generally – if the quality of discussion does not improve rapidly and markedly, I’m going to re-institute my old rule of not allowing any discussion of Israel/Palestine issues in comments to my posts. Actual dialogue is impossible unless people are prepared to attribute a minimum of good faith (in the absence of strong evidence to the contrary) to those whom they disagree with.

30

Henry 06.27.11 at 9:11 pm

Eamonn – there is no evidence whatsoever in Bert’s comment that he believes (to quote your exact words) that the “Jews and their hirelings” are “trying to “draw attention from their crimes by bleating about “antisemitism”,” or that he believes that they will try to extract some “terrible revenge” on him. The suggestion that he does believe these things is an extremely offensive one. Since you wish to stand by the claim that he does believe these things, rather than retract this claim, you have demonstrated your unwillingness to abide by the minimal standards that we seek to maintain. Any further comments I see will be deleted.

31

Henry 06.27.11 at 9:23 pm

And I’ve decided that as per#29, I am blocking all further discussion of the merits of the Israel/Palestine question on this post. The nastiness that such discussion leads to is unpleasant to witness and has to my knowledge led to several valued commenters leaving CT in disgust, while producing little in the way of useful argument. Any further comments that don’t comply will be deleted.

32

bert 06.27.11 at 9:24 pm

I assumed he was being sarcastic.
It’s an assumption I’m happy to stick to.

33

bert 06.27.11 at 9:28 pm

Mind you, I saw for a moment one you just deleted.
Does this happen every time the subject comes up? Blimey.

34

skippy 06.27.11 at 9:31 pm

@14 candle
yes its definitely worth reading. As we seen myers is an idiot most of the time, but he’s pretty good on the north. Did anyone read “banks of green willow”? I thought it was really readable. i mean the fecker can write!

35

J. Otto Pohl 06.27.11 at 9:47 pm

Dear Dr. Farrell:

Given that Israel is in the blog post title is not banning all comments on Israel and Palestine basically ending discussion on the OP?

36

Ed Marshall 06.27.11 at 10:05 pm

Sorry, Henry, I didn’t know the backstory, but I could have assumed it. I’ve been to the rodeo a time or two before.

37

bert 06.27.11 at 10:06 pm

Dear Eamonn McDonagh,
I have been assined a paper. Discuss the Yeats poem ‘The Second Coming’ is it’s title.
The poem is full of words. And the book is kind of heavy.
I can pay cash.

38

Paddy Matthews 06.27.11 at 10:24 pm

Although in fairness to Dudley Edwards, she has not to my knowledge written a column warning of the political dangers of African men’s massive boners.

We could, I suppose, speculate on the rationale behind the respective attitudes of Myers and Dudley Edwards towards massive African boners, but I would hate to drag down the tone of this site…

39

ejh 06.27.11 at 10:38 pm

deleted as per comment above.

40

Salient 06.27.11 at 10:46 pm

Why is The Atlantic such a bastion of toxic nonsense?^1^

…and while we’re at it, why is the word ‘bastion’ such a bastion of poorly/inaptly kludged metaphor? I think JG may have meant ‘hotbed’ there, which is also somewhat a kludge but at least a semi-coherent one. My favorite self-hypothesized substitutions are ‘festering wound’ or ‘rotting compost heap.’ Or maybe ‘festering compost heap.’

^1^I went back and forth between the sinceresque ‘toxic nonsense’ and the facetious parallel ‘journalistic integrity’ and can’t decide which is the better well-someone’s-got-to-say-it riposte. For what it’s worth.

41

iolanthe 06.28.11 at 12:53 am

Not sure whether this falls within the deletion policy or not (guess I’ll find out) but as a matter of historical interest, the Stern Gang in a certain unnamed British Mandate in the Middle East was sufficiently enamoured of the IRA that Yitzhak Shamir adopted “Mikhail” as his nomme de terrorist in tribute to Michael Collins and of course both the Stern Gang and the IRA tried to ally themselves with the Nazis in World War 2, the IRA successfully. It may well be that this admiration was one sided.

42

Mrs Tilton 06.28.11 at 12:54 am

Though Eamonn is gone now (ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann, or so at least we may hope), he does have a bit of a point in one of his tangential observations, that Myers spent a lot of ink on Irishmen who volunteered service in a foreign army because they couldn’t fight Hitler in their own nation’s uniform. (But Eamonn a mhic, despite the absence of conscription in Ireland during WWI, the army Irishmen served in was not, at the time, foreign.)

That bit of ob-fairness out of the way, I have not read anything by Myers lo these 15 years at least, and hence didn’t know he’d become such a dick. No; he was always a bit of a dick, so I should rephrase that. I didn’t realise he’d become such a cartoon caricature of a dick.

As for Dudley Edwards, she carried out her own anthropological field-work among a people different in many ways to the improbably-endowed Nubian brutes that so beguile Myers’s dreams. Though she is distinctly better-disposed to her subjects than Myers to his, I’m not certain her appalling condescension is preferable to Myers’s desperate imitation of what he imagines a post-UDI Rhodesian planter must have been like.

43

soullite 06.28.11 at 11:26 am

deleted

44

Shay Begorrah 06.28.11 at 12:37 pm

The none-too bright Goldberg approvingly quoting the not at all sane Colonel Myers. Spiffing.

Myers, along with much bigger intellects (Conor Cruise O’Brien being the classic example) has been driven quite mad by the cognitive dissonance involved in trying to integrate opposing anything that an imaginary “Irish Republican fellow traveller” might support (FARC, Castro, feminism, anti-apartheid, socialism, Nazism, decolonization, the deposing of Arab dictators, the support of some other Arab dictators, atheism, Catholicism, and so on) while also having a coherent world view that follows from some essential moral and political principles (rather than being reactionary particularism).

This is not an easy task and the stress of venerating/opposing war has warped him into the cartoon figure of grandiloquent prejudice that he now is. Imagine the unbearable mental stress involved in upbraiding Islamists (or whoever the current “other” is) for their cult of martyrdom and then whining about insufficient attention being paid to the Irish heroes of the Battle of the Somme. Painkillers and drink would not be enough.

Goldberg, by comparison, has it easy. He can apply discretion as to whether something he writes or quotes helps or hinders his particular flavour of right wing tribalism and can recant at will, since he believes in the particular and not the universal. Kevin Myers however has the sad psychological compulsion of the Irish revisionist, he imagines he believes in something while having no cause except opposition and no future but the past.

45

J. Otto Pohl 06.28.11 at 12:45 pm

Dr. Farrell’s ban seems to me a part of a growing trend in the blogosphere towards less debate and the creation of more echo chamber blogs in the name of promoting civility. In many ways this is a good thing. But, even though the blogosphere was a lot nastier back in 2005-2006 it was also a lot more livelier, dynamic, and interesting. For one thing the new civility seems to have led to a complete death of commenting on my own blog. At any rate I have a blog post up there now on the evolution of the blogosphere into one favorable to echo chambers and hostile to commenting. It seems a shame that some topics are completely off limits on some of the bigger blogs like Crooked Timber.

46

Henri Vieuxtemps 06.28.11 at 1:01 pm

J, you may want to try to configure your blog to allow commenting without having to log in.

47

David Moles 06.28.11 at 1:24 pm

Henry, you missed one at 42.

48

J. Otto Pohl 06.28.11 at 1:53 pm

Henri,

I go by Otto. I tried not needing a log in to comment and was inundated with commercial spam left by bots. That is something much, much worse than uncivil comments.

49

Caleb D'Anvers 06.28.11 at 1:59 pm

Of course, the other issue is why anyone continues take Goldberg seriously after the inexcusable series of “OMG! I know where Saddam’s WMDS are! We must invade now!” propaganda articles he wrote for the New Yorker in 2002 and 2003. Why anyone who’s so demonstrably wrong, so often still manages to find work outside of an investment bank is an interesting question in itself.

50

bigcitylib 06.28.11 at 2:12 pm

“He has a quite cohesive and tightly-bound together set of claims concerning Africa, Islam, immigration of horrid foreigners who worship strange gods, and the suicidal wishy-washiness of European liberals with respect to all of the above…”

Given how much this sounds like Mark Steyn, is it possible all these people are THE SAME GUY writing under a 100 different pseuds?

51

Shay Begorrah 06.28.11 at 2:22 pm

J. Otto Pohl

Dr. Farrell’s ban seems to me a part of a growing trend in the blogosphere towards less debate and the creation of more echo chamber blogs in the name of promoting civility.

“Dr” Henry Farrell is a real bastard that way, let me tell you.

The owners of a blog get to set the tone and Henry, Dr Q and all the other contributors at CT are people in public life with genuine concerns about how the content of the blog might affect their reputations and careers. You might fight the paternalism annoying and suffocating but I rather enjoy being her on sufferance – it makes every posting a treat.

As for allegations of anti-semitism, it has been the most effective tool for shutting down argument on I/P (and anti-colonialism in general) since well before the Internet, though I suspect that the time is approaching where it will simply be ignored, even when true. Some victory that will be.

52

Substance McGravitas 06.28.11 at 2:34 pm

I can tell America is angry when I read this man’s columns.

53

Walt 06.28.11 at 2:36 pm

Otto: I think it’s because from long experience I/P discussions here are always tremendously shitty. You’re not missing much, and whatever argument you’re dying to make I’m sure we’ve all heard 100,000 times.

54

J. Otto Pohl 06.28.11 at 2:45 pm

Walt:

I am not dying to make any argument. But, I find it strange that somebody puts up a post on a subject and then shuts down debate on it. Why put up the original post at all? But, its Dr. Farrell’s blog and he can do what he wants.

55

Ray 06.28.11 at 2:59 pm

The subject of the original post is Myers, surely, not I/P?

Is Myers more than usually crazy at the moment because the liberal powers that be prevented the Queen from thanking him personally for his hard work on behalf of her troops during her recent visit?

56

Uncle Kvetch 06.28.11 at 2:59 pm

I think it’s because from long experience I/P discussions here are always tremendously shitty.

Why “here” in particular? If there’s a blog where they aren’t always tremendously shitty, I’m not aware of it.

57

William Timberman 06.28.11 at 3:11 pm

J. Otto Pohl @ 34, 44, 53

It does seem odd on the face of it, but offering a wry comment on the general madness is not the same thing as playing host to that madness, particularly when it’s light you’re after — or hope you are — rather than heat. I’m a (very) late comer to CT, and probably don’t fit the profile of its intended audience very well, but I like it here largely because the posters are interested in a wide variety of subjects and often have insightful, and — even better — original things to say about them. Even the libertarians who fuss about fractional reserve banking seem more erudite and less cranky in this clean, well-lighted place.

That said, the commenters sent packing on occasion are not the same ones I would choose to ban, and sometimes I don’t understand the nature of the offense that provokes the double yellow, or the straight red. Then again, I don’t run the world, which, on reflection, seems even to me to be for the best.

58

soullite 06.28.11 at 3:23 pm

#53, to slander people and pretend that it’s an ‘academic’ exercise. The same reason why ‘Hatred’ was chosen for the title rather than ‘opinion’. Because anti-Israel hatred is clearly an invocation of antisemitism, while anti-Israel opinion indicates a difference in political opinion. Choosing that term, and indeed writing this entire post, allows them to cast dispersions on people they don’t like without ever actually having to take responsibility for it. Issuing a blanket ‘I’ll delete any post that talks about anything other than what horrible bigots the people I don’t like are!’ is just a way to prevent being called out for this behavior.

All other responses to you appear to be attempt to avoid answering this question, or even thinking about it.

59

Daragh McDowell 06.28.11 at 3:38 pm

While Myers is, as Dsquared points out at #1, unworthy even of debunking at this point, there is a very, very slight grain of truth in the gist of his article. On the I/P debate I am, as most Irish people are, on the P side, which I think is fair enough. Our current Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter is on the I side which is also fair enough. Mr. Shatter is also the only Jewish member of Dail Eireann. A number of Irish people on the P side, such as the Phoenix (thing an Irish version of Private Eye just nowhere near as good) and even former TD Chris Andrews have been blowing pretty hard on the dog whistle as a result. I don’t like Shatter politically. Hell (like most of his constituents) I don’t even like him that much as a person. But he’s facing real, and unsettlingly strong anti-semitism from his opponents, which is something I think any progressive worth their salt should condemn.

60

P O'Neill 06.28.11 at 3:45 pm

It might be time to rummage through Atlantic blogger approving links to Johann Hari ….

61

bert 06.28.11 at 3:55 pm

Daragh, the following is so obvious it should be uncontroversial.
There is a widely-followed rote procedure for dealing with criticisms of Israel (and, specifically, criticisms of the Likud line on Israel). If the critic is Jewish, accuse them of self-hatred. If the critic is not, of antisemitism.
None of this is to say that antisemitism does not exist, is not vile, and is not a serious problem. But, for what little it’s worth, my own view is that scattershot accusations of antisemitism make confronting the genuine article harder, not easier.

62

Henry 06.28.11 at 4:02 pm

Otto – The larger part of the reason is, as stated above, because it doesn’t result in useful conversation. I had hoped that things might have improved after a couple of years, given that some of the most prominent pains-in-the-arse on these topics have taken themselves elsewhere, but unfortunately not. Hence, my reinstatement of this policy (on a purely personal basis – other CTers may have different levels of tolerance). The other reason is that I frankly don’t have time to moderate a discussion as actively as I would need to to prevent it descending into the usual morass. As it is – dealing with dimwitted slurs like the one above from ‘soullite’ takes up more of my life than I really care to devote to it.

And turning to which – soullite – you suggest above that I have “chosen” ‘Hatred’ rather than ‘opinion’ for the title of this post because

bq. anti-Israel hatred is clearly an invocation of antisemitism, while anti-Israel opinion indicates a difference in political opinion. Choosing that term, and indeed writing this entire post, allows them to cast dispersions on people they don’t like without ever actually having to take responsibility for it.

Let me agree with you that referring to ‘anti-Israel hatred’ can indeed be ‘clearly an invocation of antisemitism.’ Sadly, however, I did not deliberately choose the term in a cunningly thought out plan to cast ‘dispersions’ (?!?) on poor ickle Jeffrey Goldberg and other people I don’t like. Instead, I’m using the term because it is the one that Jeffrey Goldberg himself uses when he tells us that “Kevin Myers reports on the depth of anti-Israel hatred in Ireland.” I wouldn’t have thought that this was too hard to spot myself – it’s actually the only sentence original to Goldberg in the post (and is conveniently located right below the post’s title).

Which means, I believe, that you are hoist on your own petard. By your very own argument, Jeffrey Goldberg’s words are a lightly coded way of telling us that Kevin Myers is telling us that Ireland is a bastion of anti-Semitism. This is a rather extreme claim to be making on the sole basis of the personal impressions of an opinion columnist. And when that opinion columnist is someone with mutually reinforcing obsessions about Muslims, the dangers of the filthy tide of immigrants, and lazy sex-obsessedAfricans (also Muslim – see the girl-circumcizing bit) with perpetual raging erections who take our money, give us AIDS and breed too much, then I rather think that Goldberg’s post constitutes actual journalistic malpractice. If he wrote a public apology disassociating himself from Myers, I’d think better of him for it. I doubt (although I hope I’m wrong) that he has any intention of so doing.

63

bert 06.28.11 at 4:05 pm

Soullite, it was “anti-Israel feeling”, wasn’t it? Which suggests something other than a difference in political opinion.
“Hatred” is a stronger term, though, you’re right about that.
I like “cast dispersions”. I may use that myself.

64

Daragh McDowell 06.28.11 at 4:06 pm

Bert @61 – I 100% agree with your last paragraph. However I’d invite you to read the Phoenix’s commentary on Shatter, especially since the election (unfortunately not available online.) It runs the gamut from claims that the decision to fold the Justice and Defence portfolios into one is an attempt to use Ireland’s (puny, SAR focused) military to establish a military Junta to articles that seem to have no point but to subtly remind the readership that Shatter is Jewish. Over and over again. Playing the man, not the ball as we say seems disturbingly acceptable to a big chunk of the Irish pro-Palestine left (I’m thinking Sinn Fein and the SF-lite section of FF, not Greens/Lab/SWP BTW) in the case of Alan Shatter. And it’s wrong.

65

Daragh McDowell 06.28.11 at 4:08 pm

Bert and Henry – coesn’t ‘cast dispersions’ give you a 15pt. HP bump and a black magic buffer?

66

bert 06.28.11 at 4:23 pm

Haven’t seen Phoenix, Daragh.
I should admit to my own prejudice. A general aversion to organised religion tends to edge into outright contempt when faced with the more ridiculous aspects of the Catholic church. I think it comes from early exposure to the history of Cardinal Pacelli. It’s something I try to overcome, but it’s superego versus id, as a great Jew would have put it.

67

Natilo Paennim 06.28.11 at 4:29 pm

Can we just unpack this World Historical Individual “the European liberal” a bit? I always hear that they are suicidal, and yet, since the Existentialists, they don’t seem to actually commit suicide very often. I also hear that they have an irrational desire to accommodate Islam, and yet, virtually every piece of news I hear from Europe concerning the practice of Islam within its borders gives exactly the opposite impression — banning veils in France and minarets in Switzerland, huge demonstrations of the far right against Muslims, ever-stricter immigration laws in every country. I hear they are refusing to breed, and yet there is still a strong discourse against young working-class women who decide to have children. Who is this “European liberal”? Can he or she explain him or herself?

68

EWI 06.28.11 at 4:58 pm

Mr. Shatter is also the only Jewish member of Dail Eireann. A number of Irish people on the P side, such as the Phoenix (thing an Irish version of Private Eye just nowhere near as good) and even former TD Chris Andrews have been blowing pretty hard on the dog whistle as a result.

This doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. There have been other Jewish deputies with the recent past (various Briscoes, and a Labour party member?) and no-one is seriously going to claim (I hope) that they were subjected to anti-Semitism. What’s different about Shatter? He is *very* partisan towards Israel, notably in scandalous efforts to foul up or delay Dáil business concerning Palestine. And his appointing Tom Cooney, another Humphreys-like loo-laa from UCD, as his “special advisor” in the Dept. was a clear signal of intent.

By the way, the Phoenix’s point about the desirability in a democracy to keep the military and police function separate is a very good point, and one which in the original articles in no way suggested any particular connection to Shatter or any other particular minister, good bad or indifferent.

69

EWI 06.28.11 at 5:08 pm

@ Ray

Is Myers more than usually crazy at the moment because the liberal powers that be prevented the Queen from thanking him personally for his hard work on behalf of her troops during her recent visit?

Myers’ whining in his column for some weeks about this earned him an invite from the Royal British Legion (no doubt in gratitude of his tireless recruiting efforts for HM Forces) , who smuggled him into their line-up for handshakes at Islandbridge. I understand that the Irish public were honoured with a large photo the next day in the Indo of the occasion.

Half of the stories about Myers can’t be told in public, more’s the pity.

70

Lemuel Pitkin 06.28.11 at 5:18 pm

Dr. Farrell’s ban seems to me a part of a growing trend in the blogosphere towards less debate and the creation of more echo chamber blogs in the name of promoting civility. In many ways this is a good thing. But, even though the blogosphere was a lot nastier back in 2005-2006 it was also a lot more livelier, dynamic, and interesting. For one thing the new civility seems to have led to a complete death of commenting on my own blog.

Anybody remember the conservative professor in Frederick Crew’s Postmodern Pooh whose blistering denunciation of literary theory culminates with the complaint that no one has remembered his birthday? (“We were not expecting any presents anyway.”) This is funny like that.

And for the record, Crooked Timber has one of the best comments sections around, in large part — I’m sure — because it is firmly moderated.

71

Lemuel Pitkin 06.28.11 at 5:19 pm

(Oops, first paragraph is a quote from J. Otto Pohl. Plenty of comments on my own blog!)

72

Hidari 06.28.11 at 5:31 pm

Did someone mention Johann Hari?

73

dsquared 06.28.11 at 5:52 pm

in large part—I’m sure—because it is firmly moderated.

You’d be surprised. There is really no iceberg of deleted complaints that you never see and there are less than a dozen people banned (many of whom are only banned from one individual poster’s threads). The main work of technical moderation is in freeing comments from the spam trap; nearly all the rest of the moderation at CT takes the form of comments like Henry’s above, politely (or if warranted, less politely) asking people to either knock it off or to avoid subjects.

Perhaps one day I’ll write about this, but I really don’t agree with Teresa Nielsen Hayden and all the other people who claim or imply that there’s something inevitable about comments sections getting overwhelmed with abusive trolling, and that only massive effort can prevent it. In my opinion, the basic precepts of comments section moderation are 1) blogs in many cases get the comments sections they want to have; the tone is always set by the blog, not its comments. And 2) comments sections are always better for the participation of the main page posters. Most comments page trolls (and I am on reasonably friendly terms with quite a few people who have been characterised as such, including more than one person who is permanently banned from CT[1]) are not actually bad people, and if they happen to be young, housebound, or living in their parents’ basement, this is also not in itself a reason to despise them. In general they behave badly because they want someone to listen to them, and so you can massively cut down your hassle as a blog proprietor by providing the impression that you are doing so. Even in the olden days of CT, before I grew up a bit, when I used to intentionally pick fights with the commentors, this probably had an emollient rather than astringent effect on the comments section, just because people didn’t think they were being ignored.

[1] This is not an appeal for any reinstatements; every rule has exceptions, and sometimes it is necessary to wield the draconian ban hammer, in which case everyone including me needs to stand behind the collective decision.

74

mor 06.28.11 at 5:57 pm

What hasn’t been mentioned in relation to Irish anti-Israeli sentiment is the part played by sound information coming from soldiers and ex-soldiers that have served on peace keeping missions in the Lebanon. The Irish army were there for 23 years. They have seen at first hand the depredations caused by the Israelis there. Yesterday’s Irish Times article on the new force being sent out after a hiatus was by Ray Murphy who served with Unifil. It is critical of Israel. Other media commentators in Ireland have similar military background. The ordinary brutal and licentious don’t like Israel much either, you tend to develop negative feelings towards those that have shelled you.

75

Lemuel Pitkin 06.28.11 at 6:19 pm

comments sections are always better for the participation of the main page posters

Yes. I should have said, Because the posters (is there a better word for this?) actively participate in comments. Moderation qua moderation is only a small part of this.

73 is pretty much the last word on this question, as far as I am concerned. The part about commenters not feeling ignored is really crucial — the desire for recognition from the site owners is a really powerful motivation, probably the strongest tool you’ve got to encourage productive comments.

OT but while you’re not-ignoring me, is there any chance we could make One of the Best Comments Sections on The Internet even better by (1) changing the comment-numbering system so that posts don’t get renumbered when stuff comes out of the spam trap, and (2) eliminating the -strikethrough- tag, which in 99 cases out of 100 was intended to be dashes, and doesn’t even show up in preview?

76

Paddy Matthews 06.28.11 at 7:09 pm

@EWI:
Myers’ whining in his column for some weeks about this earned him an invite from the Royal British Legion (no doubt in gratitude of his tireless recruiting efforts for HM Forces) , who smuggled him into their line-up for handshakes at Islandbridge. I understand that the Irish public were honoured with a large photo the next day in the Indo of the occasion.

There was a truly epic whinge by the Sindo the Sunday before HM arrived as to why Myers, RDE and Eoghan “Incitatus” Harris weren’t being suitably honoured.

It worked. For any owners of depressed felines, this should do the trick.

77

Henry 06.28.11 at 8:36 pm

bq. OT but while you’re not-ignoring me, is there any chance we could make One of the Best Comments Sections on The Internet even better by (1) changing the comment-numbering system so that posts don’t get renumbered when stuff comes out of the spam trap, and (2) eliminating the strikethrough tag, which in 99 cases out of 100 was intended to be dashes, and doesn’t even show up in preview?

Unfortunately both of those are pretty well baked in the cake – we would have to undertake a pretty major overhaul of the site’s internal workings to change either of these. For what it is worth though, the second of these goes together with a little-known feature of CT – you can use Textile markup to format comments – e.g. putting bq. at the start of a paragraph will blockquote the whole thing, having underscores around text will italicize it etc, etc.

78

ejh 06.28.11 at 8:46 pm

And for the record, Crooked Timber has one of the best comments sections around

Mmm. I’d offer a few caveats, which would include

a. that’s not a very high standard in the first place
b. it’s sometimes true, but often not, and on some subjects it’s never true
c. it would more true if you could somehow produce an edited highlights comments box. As it is, there’s still a lot of frogs you have to kiss.

79

nick s 06.28.11 at 8:55 pm

you can use Textile markup to format comments

But that requires a fully-functional preview, either live or via a button, because trying to use Textile and messing it up looks even more half-arsed than inadvertently using it.

80

roy belmont 06.28.11 at 9:34 pm

What do Ireland, Iceland, and Greece have in common? Besides relative geo-political tininess, I mean.

81

bobbyp 06.29.11 at 4:37 am

What do Ireland, Iceland, and Greece have in common? Besides relative geo-political tininess, I mean.

The letter “e”.

82

Kaveh 06.29.11 at 8:30 am

Looking at how this thread has progressed since Henry’s ban on I-P comments, I think the ban was a success, since rehashing the history of the conflict is a very unhelpful distraction, and there have been some good on-topic comments (e.g. 67, 68, 74). But at the risk of being tendentious, I feel obliged to point out that such a policy of threatening shutdowns when comments get too nasty gives highly partisan people a great incentive to drop in and make nasty comments, or make nastier comments than they otherwise would, since shutting down discussion harms the different sides very unequally in the larger political/intellectual context.

83

rf 06.29.11 at 9:34 am

I really can’t understand what’s wrong with Myers. I would have thought four decades of living through and writing about a series of world events (Northern Ireland, Lebanon, The Balkans) might have led to a certain amount of learning or at least humility. Yet despite this, and being a decade older than my parents, he still writes like a precocious but shallow undergrad.

I didn’t live through the Troubles and can’t relate to it as the defining event it’s become for large tracts of our media commentators, and so I’m willing to make allowances for that. Perhaps Myers took some incredibly brave stance in the 1970s. I don’t know, but I doubt it. Perhaps he has post traumatic stress. But throughout the past decade he’s been little more than a pompous asinine little bully.

He’s unable to judge any case on its merits and instead creates some caricatured other (an anti war feminist lesbian communist Muslim) which can then stand in for his political opponents to be torn apart, in his own mind, with his flowery overwrought prose. No issue is approached with even an ounce of intellectual curiosity. His articles on Muslim immigration and radicalisation, for example, are little more than a regurgitation of Mark Steyn’s horses$$t, with no attempt to deal with, or perhaps knowledge of, the vast amount of literature that deals with the phenomenon in a complex and nuanced way. One day he came across Dead Aid and that was it, Africa was home solely to violent rapists and all aid and developmental projects must be stopped immediately.

Perhaps to the people on this site who are moving into the ‘comfortable’ part of their lives, or so I hope, (moving up in their careers, having children and so on) the likes of Myers and Harris and the whole collection of imbeciles that make up our countries ‘public intellectuals’ are little more than an insignificant pain in the a$$. But for someone that actually had to live with them on and off for the past decade I’ve come to blame them (undoubtedly more than I should) for being in a large part responsible for what happened to our country. They didn’t even attempt to do their jobs properly. They have lent their names to policies and rhetoric that led to hundreds of thousands dead in the Middle East, has made life more difficult than it needs to be for foreigners living and working in Ireland and have left a significant minority of my generation seemingly on the verge of never working again. Nice one Kev.

As for the case of Ireland being anti Israeli, i mean who really cares?

84

Henri Vieuxtemps 06.29.11 at 9:51 am

May I ask (and I apologize if it’s too controversial): this sudden (if it is sudden) burst of activity by Myers and Goldberg, is it some sort of a preemptive attack in anticipation of the imminent Zionist action of self-defense against the new Gaza flotilla? In that case, it’s probably simply a part of a campaign initiated by the Ministry of Love there.

85

Andrew F. 06.29.11 at 11:12 am

Does anyone have any polling data on Irish views towards Israel and the Palestinians?

86

Empty inbox 06.29.11 at 11:14 am

Very grateful for the link to Mr Myers’s work. I shall make a point of following him in future: I see him as the great Dada-ist of the age.
This is what the internet is for:

How does one address The Daily Llama?

“Christ, weren’t you here yesterday? And the day before if I’m not mistaken.”

87

rf 06.29.11 at 1:31 pm

I was going to offer an opinion based purely on speculation such as our perception of our own history (although that’s hardly left a strong pro terror lobby); being a small neutral country that doesn’t have a militaristic foreign policy and so has generally been opposed to explicit shows of force; a left that concerned itself in large part with international issues for the past decade, primarily in Palestine, rather than domestic ones.
Anecdotally Myers has a point, Irish ‘opinion’ would seem to be more pro Palestinian even if most people, I would imagine, are generally indiffernt. (Although why we pay disproportionate attention to Israel can be seen from a number of perspectives and not just ones hostile to Israel) Anyway I’m done speculating and I’d advise you to ignore the above, this would probably be of more use.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/06/23/why_the_irish_support_palestine

Or most things written by Rory Miller

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/artshums/depts/mems/people/staff/academic/miller/research.aspx

88

Shay Begorrah 06.29.11 at 1:47 pm

May I humbly suggest that the next time someone on Crooked Timber levels charges of anti-semitism at a random passer where the only justification seems to be long distance interrogation by psychic powers by (a la Eamonn@22) that, Spartacus style, every subsequent poster inserts an

crypto-zionist@xx

No, I am antisemite!

at the end of their posting? It might have a salutary effect on blog content around I/P and it has the broken syntax that Internet memes are made of.

No, there is nothing ironic whatsoever in me saying this dsquared. Nothing. Whatsoever.

89

Watson Ladd 06.29.11 at 2:24 pm

I’ve heard people joke about putting a wall around I/P due to the complete failure of anyone to say anything sensible about it. As for Goldberg’s sources, it is true that the European left has been vehemently anti-Israel since 1967: Moishe Postone at Chicago has said the exact same thing. I’m sure I can dig up video of people chanting “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea” at the ISO conference. Left anti-Semetism exists, and I am not talking about people who call for a 1967 boundary with land swaps, but rather those who want nothing less then the expulsion of the Jews from Israel. This is not some right-wing smear, although Goldberg wants it to be, but a real expression of how much the left has degenerated.

90

Walt 06.29.11 at 2:40 pm

That God Watson Ladd showed up to illustrate the wisdom of Henry’s policy.

91

Walt 06.29.11 at 2:55 pm

“Thank God”, I mean. I intended no assignment of divinity.

92

Martin Bento 06.29.11 at 5:04 pm

On the question of I/P discussion, I would like to point out this thread, which did indeed start to veer off into the weeds of vitriol, but was pulled back, and a long and, I think, reasonable discussion ensued. We can do it, and we have to be able to discuss these issues. If we can’t have a reasonable discussion of I/P on a site like this, where can we have it? What I think it took was for other commenters, and not just the hosts, to insist on civility.

On the meta questions, any possibility of getting the site search capability to index comments as well as posts? It’s hard to track down old threads using Google, as the old threads show up with “Recent Comments” boxes reflecting newer, sometimes much newer, threads. I guess that when an old page is retrieved, the new “Recent Comments” box is stuffed in, and this is, at least sometimes, cached by Gooogle.

93

Martin Bento 06.29.11 at 6:49 pm

Looking bacvk over that thread, it was a little more heated than I remembered it (I was actually trying to find another one), but not so much that it had to be killed, and some of the heated ones grew calmer over time.

94

Tim Wilkinson 06.29.11 at 7:14 pm

MB, re: Google – I’ve only found that to be a problem when looking for comments by a particular person (e.g. oneself) – they keep cropping up in pages they didn’t contribute to because of the ‘recent comments’ phenomenon you mention, which is presumably due to Google revisiting and reindexing pages periodically. The comments themselves are, however, searchable via Google.

You can exclude the too-recent comments by using the last term (mut. mut.) in this sample search predicate:

site:crookedtimber.org "antisemitism" "Martin Bento" -"Martin Bento on"

This is not perfect: it will exclude all pages in which “Martin Bento on” occurs – even if that is in the comment text itself, and probably more problematically, if the person appears in the recent comments in Google’s current version of the page you are actually looking for. I suppose trying both with and without that term would increase your chances of finding the page you’re after without having to trawl through too many unwanted results.

Generally I find Google’s search facilities very poor – both in documentation and in the features available. Considering this is Google’s main function, one would wish (though I would not even hope, let alone expect) it would have honed its capabilities to provide much richer search functionality. (I suppose the market types would claim that people don’t want it – in fact they would have to claim that making it available to those who do want it, like me, is not worth the social cost of doing the minor development entailed. Which I’m pretty sure is balls.)

Maybe that would interfere with its sponsored links, possibly silently selling privileged search status etc., dunno. Maybe just the general trend shared in particular by MS of infantilising users by using opaque fuzzy algorithms that ‘predict’ what they are looking for. Maybe that is even a conscious strategy – keep em docile and needy, try to avoid being pinned down to meeting any fixed standard. There’sd also the more legit. point that allowing open-ended search terms with ands and ors could lead to some rather costly queries. But that could easily be avoided, and is mostly irrelevant to the kind of things I’d like to see, such as, e.g., searching the target address of links.

BTW and a bit more on topic: as predicted, Malhotra and Margalit have still shown no sign of presenting their findings from that Boston Review piece in an academic paper.

95

EWI 06.29.11 at 7:50 pm

@ bigcitylib

Curiously enough, Steyn was introduced as a regular columnist (as was Krauthammer) during Madam Editor’s just-ended reign in the Irish Times. I understand that at least two of the three exited from the fallout over having had particularly offensive pieces spiked.

@ iolanthe

Those are “IRA’s” from two distinct eras, though. The Irish Republican Army of Collins’ time (which had itself evolved from the Irish Volunteers and before that the Fenians/IRB) was a very different beast from the one in existence during the Emergency/WWII (de Valera was hanging IRA men, for one). The IRA has continued to evolve and split over the past century – one offshoot is the modern Irish Defence Forces.

@ Henri Vieuxtemps

I suspect you’re on to something there.

@ rf

Kevin’s ‘adventures’ in Belfast are somewhat well-known in that town and elsewhere, as is the cause of his sudden exit.

96

EWI 06.29.11 at 7:57 pm

@ Mrs Tilton

As for Dudley Edwards, she carried out her own anthropological field-work among a people different in many ways to the improbably-endowed Nubian brutes that so beguile Myers’s dreams.

You forget her infinite regret at having to push the line as self-proclaimed Pearse’s “biographer” that he was a unknowing gay paederast.

97

puss wallgreen 06.29.11 at 8:21 pm

“Left anti-Semetism exists, and I am not talking about people who call for a 1967 boundary with land swaps, but rather those who want nothing less then the expulsion of the Jews from Israel”
Really? Can you provide links to representative leftwing thinkers or groups who demand such an expulsion?

98

puss wallgreen 06.29.11 at 8:23 pm

And incidentally, I am intrigued by your suggestion that “people who call for a 1967 boundary with land swaps” might at least conceivably provide an example of “Left anti-Semetism”.

99

Lemuel Pitkin 06.29.11 at 11:54 pm

Malhotra and Margalit have still shown no sign of presenting their findings from that Boston Review piece

Oh, yes. Good memory. Aggressive followup is strongly indicated. Any CT main-posters want to str the pot?

100

maidhc 06.30.11 at 6:35 am

I’m reminded of the story of a friend of mine who went to Israel and wound up in a bar having a conversation with a couple of Israelis who spoke fluent Irish. Although they wouldn’t say how they came to speak Irish, they dropped enough hints that he gathered they worked for Israeli intelligence. Apparently the Irish peacekeeping forces in Lebanon used to talk as Gaeilge over the radio, assuming that no one would be able to understand them.

101

ajay 06.30.11 at 8:16 am

Apparently the Irish peacekeeping forces in Lebanon used to talk as Gaeilge over the radio, assuming that no one would be able to understand them.

Hmm, yes. I suppose you can either spend lots and lots of time and money encouraging your indigenous language, funding broadcasts in it, teaching it in schools, printing official documents in it, promoting its literature worldwide and putting it on roadsigns, or you can get your military codetalkers to use it. But not both.

102

Major Alfonso 06.30.11 at 9:56 am

Myers must be delighted to be sanctified by Goldberg and the Atlantic. You can be sure he squeed with delight at that, particularly given the difficult job he had avoiding facts or aknowledging anything other than his own prejudices. Goldberg! He helps make the arguments for bombing places! Yes there is more attention given to the Middle East’s largest open sore in Ireland than many other regional, or international intractable situations. Sri Lanka say. And of course there’s an interesting debate to be had about that sure Myers isn’t the one to do that. Given that Irish interest in matters Near Eastern, Myers’ logic dictates identifying something that seperates it from other similar situations, finds Judaism and he presto, it means those concerning themselves with the issue are anti-semites. By a similar logic the Dunnes Stores workers who campaigned against the apartheid regime in South Africa would be anti-white (and/or sympathetic to militant crazies in league with cannibals, and probably in thrall to previously mentioned tumescent priapic black African manhood). Yes the his style of writing is to choose descriptions that delegitimise anything at all his cultural enemies might try to say. And yes in Myer’s world they are all cultural enemies, because he has chosen his moral hinterland in the past and finds it beset on all sides by, you know, some conspiracy of fey sickly European liberalism that will see the gains of a (surely!) superior culture thwarted by dark, threatening Other.

And so we get language like “hysterical” used to describe anyone critical of the current Israeli government’s stance on the occupied territories and the ex-peace process, and efforts depict them as mad and absolutely beyond engaging with rationally. Olivia O’Leary even gets the brush off in the article for ‘sniffing’ about illegal settler construction. Why don’t you just stick a knife in a rabbi Olivia.

And yet no where in his article is there any mention of an aid convoy being sent to Libya from Ireland, or any mention of his putting his hands in his pocket to support it, or of the Elsaftys who were in the first land convoy to Gaza having organised demonstrations and campaigns in support of Tahrir Sq and Libya here. Or the recent pressure being put on the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland over it’s relations with Bahrain or the work that Frontline have been doing all over the Middle East. But there’s no point bringing anything like that up because unless you landed in IDF ribs at Latakia and trekked to Damascus and killed Assad with your own bare hands, you’re a duplicitous anti-semite if you mention Gaza.

Is this connected wth the flotilla? I happen to get forwarded emails with press clippings from the Israeli Embassy in Dublin and yes, alongside items on how the IHH/Mavi Marmara crew were Islamists associated with Hamas bent on the destruction of Israel and were armed on the boat, with attached photos of the IDF soldiers being assaulted with iron bars (they brought scaffolding on the boat! It must be premediatated attempt to murder IDF soldiers.) the Embassy has being delighted to forward Myers rantings. He is also happy to act as a cog in their machine, taking their assertions about the flotilla at face value. Meanwhile the Irish vessel MV Saoirse appears to have been sabotaged.

For Myers this sort of article is really the simplest thing in the world: decry your enemies irrationality; leaven with some woe-is-me amidst such intellectual lilliputians keening; throw in a few moral pronuncements on the charcter of what you’re defending as a proxy for yourself thus egotistically making it a vehicle for your own ineffable moral superiority; stalk off with would-be Cassadra like pronouncements of the impending collapse of moral order that your opponents are engineering. It’s nearly like a thought experiment for a certain elite of commentators on either side of the I/P issue, some people find it a happy hook to hang old moth eaten rags, some people find it a broad stage with large audience to tread to and for and give a performance their biggest, bestest diva-esque warbling, even if they cannot hit a note.

103

Shay Begorrah 06.30.11 at 11:25 am

Henry jokingly asks:

Why Is Ireland Such A Bastion of Anti-Israel Hatred?

History almost immediately responds in all seriousness:

Irish Ship to Gaza SABOTAGED by Israeli agents

As regards the Irish speaking skills of Israeli intelligence radio operators I rather suspect that the poor dears had to also learn Khmer, Bengali and all the other languages used by elements of UNIFIL.

104

bert 06.30.11 at 11:34 am

bq.get your military codetalkers to use it
Empathy with the Navajo explains the widespread and worrying prevalence of anti-americanism among the Irish.

105

bert 06.30.11 at 11:35 am

textile? shmextile.

106

dsquared 06.30.11 at 11:45 am

Whether the Irish troops believed themselves to be codetalking or not, you would still have had to learn Gaelic in order to eavesdrop on them.

107

CMK 06.30.11 at 1:21 pm

I would have thought that Irish military communications would be a bit more sophisticated and secure than just speaking Irish over radio links. Since the Congo deployment in early 1960’s they must have been, or should have been, an awareness that, given the extent of the Irish diaspora, there might be somebody, somewhere out there would might be able to decipher Gaeilge. At the ‘Battle of Jadotville’ in, I think, 1961, surrounded and outnumbered Irish UN troops used Irish to keep UN HQ informed. All the while their Belgian/French mercenary opponents had recruited Irish speaking mine workers from neighbouring ‘Rhodesia’ to eavesdrop. It’s a story recounted in several of the books written about Jadotville but it sounded a bit far-fetched. However, if there are Irish speaking Israeli intelligence agents out then, then it’s probably not that outlandish.

108

roac 06.30.11 at 1:45 pm

The US military used to, and surely still does, run a school that provides intensive year-long courses in the language of every country that has an army and/or navy worth mentioning, specifically to train people to eavesdrop on military communications. It’s in Monterey. I once spent an evening in a bar with two guys who were learning Bulgarian there, and could look forward to two years of sitting all day every day in a room somewhere (in Turkey, I would think), listening to bored Bulgarian sergeants talk about their girlfriends. A tedious existence, but way better than getting your butt shot off in Vietnam.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to learn that that is where the IDF guys referred to @100 learned Irish. Outsourcing the training would surely be much cheaper than setting up your own school.

109

The Modesto Kid 06.30.11 at 2:20 pm

Always worth while linking to this video of Yu Ming learning Gaeilge.

110

The Modesto Kid 06.30.11 at 3:28 pm

Even better when the link does not come through properly. Let’s try again: Yu Ming is ainm dom
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qA0a62wmd1A

111

Watson Ladd 06.30.11 at 3:33 pm

http://www.ijsn.net/673/ Here you go. The return of Israeli land to Palestine (all of it) is tantamount to expelling the Jews.

112

Lemuel Pitkin 06.30.11 at 4:08 pm

The return of Israeli land to Palestine (all of it) is tantamount to expelling the Jews.

It’s interesting to compare statements like the to similar language used about the US South in the 19th century. Here’s Tocqueville:

As soon as it is admitted that the whites and the emancipated blacks are placed upon the same territory in the situation of two foreign communities, it will readily be understood that there are but two chances for the future: the Negroes and the whites must either wholly part or wholly mingle. I have already expressed my conviction as to the latter event. I do not believe that the white and black races will ever live in any country upon an equal footing. But I believe the difficulty to be still greater in the United States than elsewhere. …

If, on the one hand, it be admitted ( and the fact is unquestionable) that the colored population perpetually accumulate in the extreme South and increase more rapidly than the whites; and if, on the other hand, it be allowed that it is impossible to foresee a time at which the whites and the blacks will be so intermingled as to derive the same benefits from society, must it not be inferred that the blacks and the whites will, sooner or later, come to open strife in the Southern states? …

If the white citizens of North America remain united, it is difficult to believe that the Negroes will escape the destruction which menaces them; they must be subdued by want or by the sword. But the black population accumulated along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico have a chance of success if the American Union should be dissolved when the struggle between the two races begins…. the whites of the South, even if they are abandoned to their own resources, will enter the lists with an immense superiority of knowledge and the means of warfare; but the blacks will have numerical strength and the energy of despair upon their side, and these are powerful resources to men who have taken up arms. The fate of the white population of the Southern states will perhaps be similar to that of the Moors in Spain. After having occupied the land for centuries, it will perhaps retire by degrees to the country whence its ancestors came and abandon to the Negroes the possession

For Tocqueville, abolishing slavery and allowing blacks to become full citizens of the US, was very possibly tantamount to expelling whites from the South. Are the equivalent fears about “a state of its citizens” in Israel-Palestine any better grounded?

113

Lemuel Pitkin 06.30.11 at 4:11 pm

Source.)

114

Kaveh 06.30.11 at 4:31 pm

@110 Watson Ladd: So, your example of “Left Anti-Semitism” is the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network?

Also, you left some context out of that quote: “We organize to expose and dismantle Zionist institutions such as the Jewish National Fund (JNF) – an organization founded in 1901 to acquire land in Palestine for Jewish-only settlement and use. We are part of an international campaign to discredit and abolish the JNF and for the return of land and property to its rightful owners – the Palestinians.” (emphasis added)

Looking at this in the full context, it seems that IJAN’s main intent is to reverse expulsion of Palestinians from their land by/for Jews, not to expel all Jews from Israel+Palestine. At most you could accuse them of not clearly thinking through the full implications of their stated position, and of course there are such thing as Palestinian Jews, so even the most uncharitable reading doesn’t have them calling for removal of all Jews from Palestine.

Is a joke, or did you just expect many readers would not follow the link and just assume you had evidence backing your claim? Or do you have evidence that most people in IJAN aren’t actually Jewish? Or do you believe in “self-hating Jews”? What’s the deal here?

115

Kaveh 06.30.11 at 4:44 pm

s/b “are, or were, such thing as Palestinian Jews.” Jews living in British Mandate Palestine or Ottoman Palestine were Jewish Palestinians, by definition. I don’t know if many Jews in Israel or Palestine today would call themselves that, but I see know reason why IJAN’s “Palestinians” should exclude Palestinian Jews.

116

james 06.30.11 at 4:50 pm

puss wallgreen @97:

Does Helen Thomas meet your requirements? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Thomas

117

Martin Bento 06.30.11 at 5:18 pm

Since Malhotra dn Margalit have come up again the issues concerning peer review and academic reputation seem worthy of discussion here, if not in this thread, perhaps in another as Lemuel suggests. After all, it has been two years, and Margalit has already mumblingly disavowed the claims, so it seems safe to say that this is a study that either did not withstand or was never subjected to peer review. For those who don’t remember or were not here for the relevant thread, here it is, following up on one here. Here is a quick summary:

Malhotra and Margalit, a professor and grad student, respectively, at Stanford, published in the Boston Review a piece claiming that Democrats were more antisemitic than Republicans. This was based on survey research they had conducted. In the thread here (linked above), a number of methodological concerns were raised in discussion with Malhotra. He left without answering most of them. The article was based on research that had never been peer-reviewed, and Malhotra suggested that the open review of the Internet might be making peer review obsolete. However, when asked to show his data, Malhotra refused on the basis that it had not yet been peer-reviewed. Malhotra admitted that he had not applied some quality control mechanisms he would normally have to apply to peer-reviewed research. The article did not mention that the study had not been peer reviewed, and Malhotra said he expected the public to assume that it had not and to understand the significance of this. Probably at least partly based on the critique presented by commenters here, some prominent sources have refused to endorse the study, notably the ADL. Margalit later stated that the statistical claims made by the study “should not be taken literally”. Statistical claims that are not literal are meaningless. It now seems likely, as Tim Wilkinson predicted at the time, that there will never will be a peer-reviewed version of this study.

Are Malhotra and Margalit guilty of abusing the reputation of Stanford University? It seems unlikely a study like this would have been published by a source like the Boston Review without Stanford’s implicit imprimatur. Is this the sort of thing that should come up in tenure reviews? If this constitutes abuse of academic authority, what is the proper recourse for such a thing? Shouldn’t academics be protective of the (mis)use of academic authority as part of their general professional interest?

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Adrian Kelleher 06.30.11 at 5:19 pm

This video of the O’Carolan tune Lord Inchiquin (highly recommended) by some Israeli musicians (Gali Glickman and Shay Tochner) indicates that the idea of Israeli soldiers speaking Irish mightn’t be as far fetched as it might seem.

The titular Lord Inchiquin throws a bit of a spanner into the Myers/Dudley Edwards world view as well, as well as that of the IRA. The 1st Baron Inchiquin was Murrough O’Brien, a local Gaelic monarch of Thomond in Clare/Limerick which had succeeded in maintaining independence between 1172 and Tudor times. He accepted a British peerage and converted to what is today called Anglicanism, as did numerous other Irish rulers in a brief window of opportunity to go the Scottish route of preserving cultural distinction at the expense of political independence.

The 6th Baron earned a bit of a bad rep fighting first for Cromwell and then Charles II during the general depravity of the English Civil war’s Irish arm, though he and the Earl of Ormonde nonetheless needed no protection when left virtual refugees in the (Catholic) Confederation of Kilkenny after defeat at the Parliamentarians. He was nonetheless proud of his Gaelic heritage and the O’Carolan air dedicated to a later Baron shows the respect was mutual.

The current Baron, a former British army officer, has returned to Clare although there’s no sign as of yet that the heir of Brian Boruma might be restored to the High Kingship.

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puss wallgreen 06.30.11 at 5:44 pm

James: “Does Helen Thomas meet your requirements?”
No, since she is not a “representative leftwing thinker or group” and didn’t call for anybody’s expulsion.
Watson Ladd: “The return of Israeli land to Palestine (all of it) is tantamount to expelling the Jews.”
No it isn’t, as Lemuel and Kevah explain. So please provide me with examples of these leftwingers who actually demand the expulsion of Jews from Palestine, rather than making demands for justice and equality for Palestinians which in your crazed noddle are “tantamount” to such expulsion.

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Watson Ladd 06.30.11 at 5:50 pm

@Lemuel Pitkin: No, I don’t think that’s what Torquiville is saying. He’s saying that unless society treats whites and blacks equally there will be open conflict between them. Either they part ways or they mingle. Israel exists because cohabitation in the Palestinian mandate was increasingly impossible. As for the JNF, the land the JNF purchased in the 1910’s and 1900’s was bought fee simple. Then it underwent a shift in national sovereignty without a change in ownership. Calling for the return of this land to its rightful owners is demanding its return to the JNF. I don’t agree with the JNF’s racist policy in rental, but what’s being asked for is not the equality of Israeli Arabs, but the return of Palestinian sovereignty.

121

Alastair McKinstry 06.30.11 at 7:17 pm

Re: code-talking, yes, the Irish army does have crypto equipment, and presumably uses it; they have been the subject to intelligence campaigns by the IRA over the years, and would need to protect from them at least.

But my understanding (from talking to serving officers) is that UN peacekeeping rules forbid “secret” communications, on the theory that the UN doesn’t keep secrets from its members, presumably. So when they needed to communicate in private, Irish (Gaeilge) had a great tactical value.

122

james 06.30.11 at 7:33 pm

puss wallgreen @117

It is up to you whether you view an influential US newspaper reporter qualifies.
Helen Tomas most defiantly called for the expulsion of Israel. She was fired for this.

123

puss wallgreen 06.30.11 at 8:17 pm

James
“It is up to you whether you view an influential US newspaper reporter qualifies”
I have no idea how influential Ms Thomas is, but she is not, in any meaningful sense I am aware of, a leftwinger, nor does she represent anybody (I realise you may be using the term “left wing” in its Zionist sense as referring to anybody who supports Palestinian human rights)
“Helen Tomas most defiantly called for the expulsion of Israel”
No, she said that Israeli Jews of European origins should return to Europe. She didn’t say they should be forced to do so.
Watson Ladd
“As for the JNF, the land the JNF purchased in the 1910’s and 1900’s was bought fee simple. Then it underwent a shift in national sovereignty without a change in ownership. “
But the vast majority of the land the JNF controls was not purchased in the 1910s and 1900s, it was simply stolen after the “shift in national sovereignty” from its rightful Palestinian owners who had been forcibly expelled from their homes. Demanding justice for those people is neither anti-semitic nor “tantamount” to calling for the expulsion of Jews. And can you please provide some actual examples of the latter?

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puss wallgreen 06.30.11 at 8:17 pm

James
“It is up to you whether you view an influential US newspaper reporter qualifies”
I have no idea how influential Ms Thomas is, but she is not, in any meaningful sense I am aware of, a leftwinger, nor does she represent anybody (I realise you may be using the term “left wing” in its Zionist sense as referring to anybody who supports Palestinian human rights)
“Helen Tomas most defiantly called for the expulsion of Israel”
No, she said that Israeli Jews of European origins should return to Europe. She didn’t say they should be forced to do so.
Watson Ladd
“As for the JNF, the land the JNF purchased in the 1910’s and 1900’s was bought fee simple. Then it underwent a shift in national sovereignty without a change in ownership. “
But the vast majority of the land the JNF controls was not purchased in the 1910s and 1900s, it was simply stolen after the “shift in national sovereignty” from its rightful Palestinian owners who had been forcibly expelled from their homes. Demanding justice for those people is neither anti-semitic nor “tantamount” to calling for the expulsion of Jews. And can you please provide some actual examples of the latter?

125

Gene O'Grady 06.30.11 at 8:29 pm

I am hardly the most loyal son of Stanford, where for better or worse I spent about half my adult life in one capacity or another, but Martin Bento’s ideas about Stanford’s “implicit imprimatur” are bizarre, however misguided the piece he criticizes may be.

And Schockley never had Stanford’s “implicit imprimatur” either.

126

Watson Ladd 06.30.11 at 8:44 pm

George Galloway endorsing the shelling of Israeli civilians. http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/article.php?article_id=9334

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puss wallgreen 06.30.11 at 8:53 pm

“George Galloway endorsing the shelling of Israeli civilians.”
He neither endorses, nor mentions, the shelling of Israeli civilians in the article you link to. Nor would endorsing the shelling of Israeli civilians in a war situation when Israel is bombing Lebanese civilians amount to a call for the mass expulsion of Jews from Israel/Palestine. You really can’t grasp the distinction between what you would like people to have said and what they have actually said, can you?

128

Dee 06.30.11 at 8:54 pm

@118: I’m not sure what “Palestinian sovereignty” would mean. To my knowledge, the only sovereignty there has only been over this territory – counting backwards over the last millennium – was exercised by Israel, (possibly Jordan and Egypt, over the West Bank and Gaza, respectively, between 1948 and 1967), Britain, the Ottomans, Mamluks and Crusaders. Though it could be argued that the Palestinian Authority currently exercises (some) sovereignty over Areas A and B of the West Bank, pursuant to the Oslo Agreements.

@117: I would prefer a secular one-state solution for Israel/Palestine but one would have to be a deaf-and-blind visitor from Mars not to understand that such a solution is a) utterly impossible in current Middle-Eastern circumstances (especially in light of the sectarian, religious and intranational carnage now occurring across the region), and b) would surely entail either the expulsion of the Jews (most of whom were previously expelled from other Arab/Muslim countries in the Middle East) or a repeat of the 1948 war. As for Helen Thomas, I believe she’s of Lebanese descent, so would be very unlikely to meet your “no true Scotsman” test.

129

Dee 06.30.11 at 8:59 pm

… there has “ever” been (not “only”)

130

geo 06.30.11 at 9:00 pm

A question and a reference:

How representative of leftist opinion are George Galloway’s opinions? If significantly, then we on the left have a problem. If not, then Watson should perhaps look for a better example.

A very good book that argues strongly against Watson’s capsule history @118 is Michael Neumann, The Case Against Israel (Counterpunch).

131

Watson Ladd 06.30.11 at 9:04 pm

No, I can grasp the distinction. At the moment George Galloway said those words Hezbollah and Hamas were firing hundreds of unguided rockets at Israel. This is not an act of terrorism, nor an act of war according to George Galloway. It doesn’t mention any attention! But he supports those who did it. Then there is also http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=9308 where we have a direct assault on the right of Jews to live in Israel. If they have no right to live there, then I presume they must leave. Granted, that conclusion is not drawn, but it is the only reasonable one.

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Martin Bento 06.30.11 at 9:17 pm

Gene, I don’t mean that Stanford necessarily endorses whatever it Professors say, of course. What I mean is, if two unknown people with no University associations had made sensationalistic claims based on data they had not and would not share, would the Boston Review have published them? I don’t think so. I don’t mean could they have been published by someone. BR is a pretty reputable publication. If they had associations with Jerry Falwell’s outfit, an accredited University, would BR have published them? I don’t think so. I imagine the fact that they are associated with a highly prestigious University had something to do with the acceptance of this article. I suppose the way to determine whether this is true would be to open a dialog with the BR asking why they did publish this, which might be a worthwhile thing to do, though I don’t know that I would get much of a response, and a private correspondence would be of limited value anyway, as satisfying my personal curiosity is not of much consequence. What might be of consequence is whether Stanford feels its reputation is being well-served by professors that who invoke open review by the Internet to avoid peer review, invoke peer review to avoid open review by the Internet, and publish highly sensational deliberately provocative non-peer reviewed material without revealing this.

133

Tim Wilkinson 06.30.11 at 9:24 pm

Yes – and that imprimatur (or aegis) was claimed in the much-disseminated graphical precis that accompanied the original article. It includes the caption ‘Source: Neil Malhotra and Yotam Margalit, Stanford University’.

Like puss wallgreen, I’m having trouble tracing the statements reported by W Ladd back to the sources supplied. The latest one seems to be short to the tune of one (1) statement that Jews have no right to live in Israel (the geographical area).

134

Henri Vieuxtemps 06.30.11 at 9:32 pm

What is problematic in that Galloway’s piece, geo? It seems rather unremarkable and uncontroversial, except for the last para that’s a bit silly.

135

Watson Ladd 06.30.11 at 9:37 pm

But it does have a statement that they do not have a legitimate claim to statehood. To paraphrase Postone, there is a strain of thought in which all minorities save the Jews have a right to self-determination. Socialist Worker does that. Why the Jews? Because they are essentially rootless and cosmopolitan and so have no real attachement to Israel. That’s definitely anti-semitic, regardless of whether they want to throw the Jews into the sea or simply delegitimize their right to self-determination.

136

mor 06.30.11 at 10:09 pm

There’s not a huge population of Irish Jews, 1000 + I think but more than enough to supply the needs of Israeli intelligence for Irish speakers. Obviously no conflict of loyalties when viewed as a UN/Israeli thing.

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Dee 06.30.11 at 10:20 pm

In case anyone was reading my comment @128…

…due to the moderation delay, my references to @117 and @118 should now read @119 (Puss Walgreen) and @120 (Watson Ladd).

138

BBA 06.30.11 at 10:28 pm

This post is missing the context that in America, the Prime Minister of Israel can give a speech before Congress criticizing the President of the United States, to standing ovations on both sides of the aisle. Nobody sees anything unusual about any of this. Jeffrey Goldberg, for pointing out that Obama hasn’t actually changed America’s position at all, is labeled a far-left Israel hater.

In that environment, Tel Aviv looks like a bastion of anti-Israel hatred, never mind Ireland.

139

Watson Ladd 06.30.11 at 10:34 pm

Galloway argues Hizbollah is not a terrorist organization and never has been. They were responsible for hijacking an airplane carrying civilians. They also bombed a Jewish community center in Argentina, and an Israeli embassy in Argentina. That makes Galloway wrong. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TWA_Flight_847 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMIA_Bombing

140

Salient 06.30.11 at 10:47 pm

But it does have a statement that they do not have a legitimate claim to statehood.

Hang on, Watson, let’s stop there for a minute and evaluate. It’s hard to take you seriously when your response to “you spoke falsely and misleadingly about the contents of this webpage” is “but that webpage contains something else!” You claimed that, in a linked webpage, there is a direct assault on the right of Jews to live in Israel. That was not a true statement, as Tim was kind enough to point out mildly and respectfully. At this point I’m feeling inclined to consider it an intentional lie (or if you prefer, an instance of Frankfurtian bullshit) — you’ve had several people call to your attention the falsehood of your false claims, and you show no evidence of acknowledging and accommodating them.

If you are attempting to fix your false statement(s), let me suggest some improvements to your strategy — you should be careful to include two things: (1) an acknowledgement that you spoke falsely, and (2) an apology for doing so (perhaps with a caveat that you hadn’t intended to mislead, if you can say so sincerely). On the other hand, if you don’t mean to fix your statement and you intend to contest its truth/falsehood, then you should explicitly stand by it instead of deflecting to some other claim. Repeatedly doing neither (and continuing to make new provocative statements that are, shall we say, seem unsupported by your references to quite a lot of us) just puts more and more evidence in the “Henry’s completely in the right to quash this stuff” bin.

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bert 07.01.11 at 12:03 am

In answer to geo’s question, Galloway is a pariah and a joke. If you go looking for the nastier type of antisemitism among British muslims, any honest observer will concede that you’ll likely find it if you look hard enough, and it was at the bottom of this pool that Galloway went fishing. I’d say the constituency for this on the left, which was always small and utterly marginal, is next to nonexistent now that Iraq is out of the headlines and Richard Perle no longer baiting people via satellite feed. And I guarantee that if you stop someone on the street and ask them about Galloway, if they remember him at all, it’ll be for this.

142

Kaveh 07.01.11 at 12:08 am

#135, I’m afraid the clock’s struck 14 a few too many times for me to bother looking for a statement by the Socialist Worker that actually expresses the view Watson Ladd attributes to them. The fact that some people think Israel should never have been created does not amount to a “strain of thought” that Jews are uniquely not entitled to a nation state.

143

Watson Ladd 07.01.11 at 12:27 am

I would argue that for Jews to live in Israel means living in Israel, not some Greater Palestine. That webpage clearly argues that the Israeli right to self determination is not legitimate. If you think that this means that they get to live in the geographic region called Israel then anti-Zionism does not mean a negation of the right to live in Israel. I apologize for my sloppy wording and failure to distinguish between Israel the state and Israel the land constituting the territory of that state. George Galloway does not endorse the shelling of Israeli civilians in that article. He endorsed a terrorist organization that has repeatedly attacked civilians and was at the time shelling wide areas of northern Israel, claiming it was not a terrorist organization but the legitimate resistance to Israeli occupation. I did not mean to mislead, and one may question whether his endorsement of Hezbollah was an endorsement of their tactics. I believe that Galloway would have not issued that endorsement if he had a problem with their tactics, but it always possible he has fewer principles then I think he does. My response to Tim pointed out that the article was an attack on the statehood of Israel, and that he had taken me to be meaning an attack on the right of the Jews to reside in the area they now occupy. Now, could a one state supporter not be anti-semitic? Only if they don’t endorse the principle of self-determination in other cases, or place restrictions upon it that would not cause it to apply in the case of Israel that are not special pleading.

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geo 07.01.11 at 2:10 am

Henri @134: I hadn’t read Galloway’s piece at that point; I was assuming, for the sake of argument, that Galloway’s opinions were as obnoxious as Watson (and Christopher Hitchens, Nick Cohen, et al) have claimed, and then asking what that would prove. My sense is that, whatever one thinks of Galloway’s opinions, they’re not representative of more than a tiny sliver of the left.

Having now read the piece, I agree with you that it’s mostly unobjectionable, apart from the absurd ending. For what it’s worth, I think rocket attacks on Israeli civilians are morally repellent and strategically obtuse. But the best discussion of terrorism I’ve seen is in the book I recommended earlier: The Case Against Israel by Michael Neumann. It leaves the conventional wisdom about Zionism and terrorism in tatters.

145

LFC 07.01.11 at 3:45 am

If J. Otto Pohl is still around — I left a comment on your blog, on the ‘sources for early modern Europe’ post. (Hasn’t been released from moderation yet.)

146

puss wallgreen 07.01.11 at 5:39 am

142 /”he had taken me to be meaning an attack on the right of the Jews to reside in the area they now occupy”
Yes, because, guess what, when you say “I am not talking about people who call for a 1967 boundary with land swaps, but rather those who want nothing less then the expulsion of the Jews from Israel” most people would take that as referring to an attack on the right of Jews to reside in the area they now occupy. It seems that in fact that your reference is to those who call for a solution which would involve state recognition of full legal equality between Jews and non-Jews, and the possibility of such a state having a non-Jewish majority. This, you believe, is tantamount to calling for the expulsion of the Jews. So perhaps we should discuss that equation, rather than the somewhat irrelevant question of whether Hezbollah practices terrorism.
“Now, could a one state supporter not be anti-semitic? Only if they don’t endorse the principle of self-determination in other cases, or place restrictions upon it that would not cause it to apply in the case of Israel that are not special pleading.”
I must say if I wanted to discuss this question I would like to do it with somebody who was capable of writing more coherently than your good self, but for your information there are literally hundreds of claims for self-determination and statehood made around the world that I wouldn’t support, and I am sure that is true of all of us. You presumably know how this works, since the Israeli state you support has persistently denied the right to self-determination and a state to the Palestinian people. Are you implying that the Israeli state is racist? As to “restrictions that would not cause it to apply in the case of Israel that are not special pleading”, whatever that means, you would have to point to other states that were founded on the expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of people, the theft of their property and the refusal of their right to return, combined with the legal embodiment of systematic privileges intended to favour one ethnic grouping over others, and see whether the “left” treated them differently. But all of this is rather tedious, and if your point is simply that Trotskyists are not very keen on Zionism, let me tell you this has always been the case, so it would not be indicative of any degeneration on “the left” since 1967.

147

Chris Bertram 07.01.11 at 8:33 am

I see that we’ve now reached the point of recycling the usual stupid talking-points, including the incredibly offensive suggestion that the onus is on supporters of a single-state solution to demonstrate that they are not anti-semitic.

The flaw in the argument that takes a universal right of nations to self-determination as a premise is, of course, that most people don’t actually support such a right. What they support is the view that it is a desideratum that statehood and nationhood coincide, a desideratum easily outweighed by competing considerations of justice. I wouldn’t even go that far, myself, since nationally-based states are nearly always oppressive to those people who nominally form part of the demos but don’t partake of the ethnos (to use Michael Mann’s terms). Sometimes, though, nationally-based states may be the lesser evil but it is far from evident that such is the case here.

148

Walt 07.01.11 at 9:37 am

Something I don’t understand is _why_ are I/P discussions so terrible? Why are they so much worse than any other argument? Watson Ladd’s performance on this is typical of the sheer level of bullshit that you get. (Ethnic self-determination? Really? Has anyone after about 1922 supported this position?) And I’ve seen equally large amounts of bullshit from the other side of the argument, though mercifully not on this thread. I would understand if someone in the argument was Israeli or Palestinian, but usually these arguments involve people who are pretty far removed from the issue. (Or maybe it’s _because_ we’re so far removed from the issue?)

149

Niall McAuley 07.01.11 at 9:46 am

While Mann’s “Manhunter” was a worthy effort, I still don’t think anyone has captured the creepiness of Harris’s best serial killer novel, “Red Dragon”. I thought Edward Norton was particularly feeble in the eponymous adaptation.

150

ejh 07.01.11 at 9:57 am

Another view would be that Manhunter was flashy and nasty and thus typical of Mann’s output.

151

Niall McAuley 07.01.11 at 9:57 am

Walt, there are plenty of terrible arguments about the Irish Question too, some of which have been going on for 800 years ~of~ ~oppression~.

152

bert 07.01.11 at 10:09 am

While we’re taking a breather, Chris you were right about Barcelona. As contrition, I’ll be cheering Nadal this afternoon.

153

Adrian Kelleher 07.01.11 at 10:40 am

There are a couple of things about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that tend to outrage the left, arguably disproportionately but for reasons that are equally arguably defensible nonetheless.

The first is the conservative western interpretation of history that sees the whole of history as a series of victories of the goodies over the baddies, with Berlin ’45 and ’89 being the highlights. Adherents of this view tend to gloss over things like the coups in Chile and Guatemala, the subsequent genocide in that country, the terror tactics in Algeria or Kenya during the independence wars and so on. They believe there’s a legitimate power in the world — the USA and NATO etc today — and other illegitimate ones, and Israel is always legitimate in this view.

In this light, it’s possible to interpret anti-Israeli (or anti-US) sentiment as an attempt by the left to rescue US legitimacy — to create a goodie in a world of tarnished ideals; we have no enemies save the ones we love and, as the USSR or Maoist China were lost causes, during the cold war the moderate left had no alternative but to try and work on the USA.

A second more practical concern is that as an inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflict, the Israel/Palestine struggle has potential to spill over into a much wider conflict. The truth of this is hard to argue with as anyone with knowledge of the colonial history of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq in particular, not to mention Israel, can attest.

Something I think the pro-Israel lobby seldom considers is the effect their campaigns have on domestic Israeli politics. Their unquestioning support of all Israel’s actions is not neutral in the context of that country’s internal politics. The effect has been to shift power from the old Tel Aviv elites to new elites in Jerusalem and the settlements.

I’d encourage anyone who wishes the best for Israel to take the whole issue out of it’s context: replace Jews with, say, Russians and Palestinians with Spaniards and so on and try and examine things objectively. How is Israel going to move forward?

Israel must either make peace now, at some future date or never. Nobody suggests the final option is a good one, which leaves now or in the future as the remaining options. Peace in the future will be attainable at terms that are either the same, better or worse than those that might be attained now. Again, if future terms are worse or no better than today then waiting would constitute nothing more than a waste of resources. Attaining better terms requires us to imagine future victories for Israel, and it’s not clear how this will be possible; historic cases involving occupations on this scale (meaning the size of the Palestinian population relative to that of Israel) aren’t replete with encouraging examples.

Something quite decisive in recent Israeli history was Ariel Sharon’s repeated and deliberate employment of the word ‘occupation’ in relation to the West Bank and Gaza strip in the months prior to his stroke. This major legal move went almost unnoticed. I suggest that as a PM with greater political strength than any of his near-contemoraries except for Rabin, Sharon understood that the best time to make peace is when you’re winning. His acceptance that Israel was an occupying power wasn’t a concession in the normal sense; his victory over the intifada could hardly have been more complete. It was rather a declaration of serious intent.

By contrast, Israel’s subsequent wars reflect it’s leaders’ political weakness as much as the strength of its state. The coalitions are fractious and diverse and their components’ irreconcilable political objectives can be made compatible only by immense ambiguity about aims and means. As is the general pattern in systems using proportional representation, minor parties suffer at the polls when in coalition. The only antidote to the electoral poison is a well timed exit, something minor coalition parties have done again and again in recent years. Each time this happens, the PM is left with only one reasonable choice for a new dance partner; he or she must go to the other end of the coalition’s political spectrum from the newly departed party, as leap-frogging the party that’s just dropped out because its minimum aims were not being met presents obvious problems.

This leaves each Israeli PM in a very weak position relative to the splinter parties relied upon for support, and the introspection subsequent to the Lebanon and Gaza conflicts reflect this weakness. These were wars of national self-confidence that belied political weakness.

The danger for Israel is then that its supporters abroad, by moral attacks on their political adversaries and by offering no encouragement for restraint, risk manoeuvring Israel into a position where it can move neither forwards or back: where the settlements lobby is too powerful for peace to be achievable but where victory is not achievable either, whether in terms of domestic politics or international law. What Israel’s backers need to do is exercise independent political judgement, remember that politicians are human and prone to making self-interested decisions under pressure, and act as protectors of the true and long-term interests of the country instead of as PR reps for each and every initiative by each government of whatever character.

That ‘legitimate’ power block has one great and consistent strand to it that’s worth mentioning: it’s consistent interpretation of international law as regards territorial disputes. The West Bank occupation cannot be legitimated without administering the kiss of death to Tibet (etc.), and this will never happen. One time Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon gave a famous interview (transcript) back in 2002 where he denounced the Israeli right as wanting “war forever” and said that “no one is in touch with reality” in the country. What Israel’s backers need to bear in mind is that, by encouraging the belief that all steps taken are just and reasonable and that all gains can be secured, their support may inadvertantly make Ayalon’s fear a reality — that it may undermine Israel rather than buttressing it in other words.

PS I’m a bit embarrassed now at having drawn those musicians into yet another tedious ethno-religious brawl on the conflict. The original intent was simply to illustrate that generalisations about peoples and cultures are never absolute.

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Andrew F. 07.01.11 at 10:44 am

151 comments in, and still no polling data about Irish attitudes towards Israel. I couldn’t find any in a quick search either.

Based on anecdotal evidence, then, there does seem to be a significant proportion of the Irish who are vigorously anti-Israeli (as there are in many other countries). Myers’s execrable musings about Africa notwithstanding, the question he raises is a fair one: why, among that proportion, is so much energy being devoted to Israel, and so little to Syria or Iran?

And beyond the empirical question, is this focus of energy on Israel justified morally if there are a great many other more grievous injustices in the world which are in need of attention?

155

ejh 07.01.11 at 11:04 am

the question he raises is a fair one: why,

It would be, if it were ever asked in good faith, which it never has been and it never will be.

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Walt 07.01.11 at 11:11 am

Let’s cut the crap, Andrew F. Israel is a modern democracy established by Westerners, while Syria and Iran are a fucked-up kleptocracy and a fucked-up Islamic theocracy. People expect better out of Israel for the same reason they hold Winston Churchill to a higher standard than they do Genghis Khan.

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Adrian Kelleher 07.01.11 at 11:14 am

@Walt

I’ll try to match your concision in future.

158

NomadUK 07.01.11 at 11:38 am

Syria and Iran are a fucked-up kleptocracy and a fucked-up Islamic theocracy

Which we Westerners had a significant hand in fucking up. Seems we do a lot of that.

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puss wallgreen 07.01.11 at 11:42 am

“Based on anecdotal evidence, then, there does seem to be a significant proportion of the Irish who are vigorously anti-Israeli (as there are in many other countries). Myers’s execrable musings about Africa notwithstanding, the question he raises is a fair one: why, among that proportion, is so much energy being devoted to Israel, and so little to Syria or Iran?”
So let me get this straight – your question is, why, according to anecdotal evidence you don’t cite, Ireland appears to have a proportion of vigorously anti-Israeli people which is about the same as many other countries? And why does this vigorously anti-Israeli proportion devote so much energy to being vigorously anti-Israeli? Thanks for that, it certainly is one to be raised at the graduate seminar.

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Shay Begorrah 07.01.11 at 11:44 am

Amfref@151

Based on anecdotal evidence, then, there does seem to be a significant proportion of the Irish who are vigorously anti-Israeli (as there are in many other countries).

Some would say that the Irish opposition to Israel boils down to an ingrained and atavistic prejudice against colonialism, despite all the benefits it has brought to the world.

Amazingly it was the same with apartheid South Africa, despite the existence of so many worse dictatorships in Africa at the time Irish people just kept on whining about the lack of rights accorded to the relatively not too badly off black south Africans, even if the black population did have to suffer some discomfort due to security considerations (The RSA was surrounded by enemies, many of them hostile to the western way of life).

And of course the similarities go further, why should the Boers in Africa be uniquely denied a country of their own? What kind of leftist bigotry is that? Where did this hatred for Dutch speaking people come from?

We can all only hope that Israel does not end destroyed and riven by civil war as South Africa has been post unification and that the Irish people come to their senses and get behind the fight against communism/Islamism/antisemitism as appropriate.

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Dee 07.01.11 at 11:51 am

Walt @155:

Thoroughly agree. Unfortunately, to judge by some of the rhetoric in the I/P debate, your assignment of models often seems to be reversed.

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Shay Begorrah 07.01.11 at 11:54 am

Weird. My posting at 159 was adressed to “Andrew F@153”

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bert 07.01.11 at 11:59 am

bq. still no polling data about Irish attitudes towards Israel

This, written up for a Jewish audience here .
I think there are plenty of others on this thread who’ll have a better take than me on the local context.

Ireland was part of the sample for the poll reported here . The analysis that follows has much to be said for it. Curious though, given the date, that Iraq isn’t mentioned once. As for how things have changed since then, this seems a reasonable guide (Ireland not included in this one).

Three quick points about the study here (pdf):
* The antisemitic responses on page 57 should be read alongside the antimuslim responses on page 61.
* The eye-opening figures are for the two former eastern bloc countries. But the rhetoric in this debate tends to focus on western Europe.
* Poll figures are one thing. How they’re reported is another.

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Ben 07.01.11 at 12:05 pm

Adrian has given us an interesting essay there. Thanks.

I’m no expert but it seems to my laypersons eye that there are two major observations missing here.

The first is that Israel is not going anywhere, and cannot be made to sign up to anything they don’t want to. No amount of international pressure can either destroy them or make them do anything they are sufficiently determined not to do. This will be so as long as they possess the hammer of the gods. I believe this is obvious.

The second is that the actions of Hamas firing rockets and sending adultresses and other condemned people as human bombs, cannot be seen as a genuine attempt to destroy Israel. The war against Israel legitimises the repression at home, since desperate times call for desperate measures. The repression at home supports the power of Hamas. It is difficult to avoid the impression that the purpose of the war is to maintain that power, and that Hamas could only suffer by making peace.

I am certain there is a large constituency within Israel which does not see any reason to make peace. I believe there is a larger one which simply does not see any opportunity to do so.

From 50,000 feet, Israel’s strategy looks like they are willing to make peace tomorrow, should there be an opportunity, but while they are waiting, they are going to take the west bank one hectare at a time. That might be thought unscrupulous, but it isn’t daft.

Notice I haven’t said anything about the legal, theoretical, political or theological legitimacy of Israel. They aren’t going anywhere. So what does it matter?

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Niall McAuley 07.01.11 at 12:06 pm

30 years ago, lots of the most vocally anti-British pro-IRA kids I knew wore PLO scarves with their combat jackets.

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Tim Wilkinson 07.01.11 at 12:17 pm

For a discussion of the elusive fatal flaw that puts George Galloway outside the pale, try here. For one reason to be well-disposed toward him, try this.

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bert 07.01.11 at 1:22 pm

bq. For one reason to be well-disposed toward him, try this
Franken 08!

Hitchens since 9/11 is hard to take. But I think his root diagnosis of Galloway is correct. The man tried to build a coalition, under the Respect banner, between antiwar progressives and antiwestern conservatives. In 2005, with the right constituency, the right opponent, and the right international context, he caught a moment. That it has fallen apart since was baked into the cake at the start.

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bert 07.01.11 at 1:23 pm

Again, textile screws up.
Back to markup.

169

mor 07.01.11 at 2:26 pm

The Magnes Zionist blog seems to me to make consistent sense on the I/P question.

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Adrian Kelleher 07.01.11 at 2:38 pm

@Ben

[…] Israel is not going anywhere, and cannot be made to sign up to anything they don’t want to. No amount of international pressure can either destroy them or make them do anything they are sufficiently determined not to do. This will be so as long as they possess the hammer of the gods. I believe this is obvious.

This is most probably correct but omits one possibility: that of severe internal turmoil. This is what brought down the USSR after all, and that was a similarly unassailable empire.

In the media and on the blogs it’s all Israel this and Palestine that but these are not monoliths. Certain factions in Israel encourage people to believe all sorts of crazy things while their adversaries are no less trenchant.

The second is that the actions of Hamas firing rockets and sending adultresses and other condemned people as human bombs, cannot be seen as a genuine attempt to destroy Israel.

This observation is surprisingly rare but certainly correct. Nonetheless, just as Israeli politics isn’t some anomaly where the laws of history are somehow changed, so too Palestine. Hamas wasn’t always in the ascendant. Israel, as the dominant political and military force, should consider why things have taken the turn they have.

I am certain there is a large constituency within Israel which does not see any reason to make peace. I believe there is a larger one which simply does not see any opportunity to do so.

The same point about Israel’s role made above applies here as well. More below.

From 50,000 feet, Israel’s strategy looks like they are willing to make peace tomorrow, should there be an opportunity, but while they are waiting, they are going to take the west bank one hectare at a time. That might be thought unscrupulous, but it isn’t daft.

Hmmm… That depends on what you mean by daft. There was one observation I forgot in my little essay: that peace has to be enforced. There’s a classic post-colonial pattern of civil war following immediately after independence. The outcome has varied from case to case, ranging from decisive victory for the peacemaking faction (e.g. Ireland) to indecisive or bloody outcomes (India — 2m dead in 6 weeks in spite of Gandhi’s pleas for calm; conflict still ongoing between the now nuclear armed adversaries in Kashmir).

The prostrate condition of the Palestinian factions begs the question: who’s going to enforce peace?

Note that further advances into the West Bank make any future Palestinian peacemaker’s task more rather than less difficult. Things are at the point where no conceivable peace partner may prove able to enforce a settlement.

Ehud Barak’s foreign minister Shlomo Ben Ami characterised the PA as a quisling government — as a Bantustan. According to him, the sole motivation for Arafat’s return to the West Bank was fear that he was losing control of the resistance movement, and that the original (unarmed, 1987-ca.1991) intifada had nothing to do with Fatah can hardly be disputed.

The 2nd Intifada can be characterised in a similar vein: an attempt by Arafat to bolster his position once more by surfing the tides of opinion on that famous ‘Arab Street’, that’s to say to prevent his own overthrow by forces hostile to his collaboration.

If Arafat didn’t feel able to restrain ongoing violence, how can it be expected that any future PA leader will be able to enforce a peace that’s certain to disappoint the extremists?

Viewed from this point of view, things are drifting away from Israel’s control. A deal that would have been readily deliverable on both sides in the 70s or 80s is no longer possible. Either vast numbers of settlers would need to be uprooted or the PA would need to win, without a decisive technical or numerical advantage, an intense turf war against internal enemies.

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Adrian Kelleher 07.01.11 at 2:51 pm

Rather than “that was a similarly unassailable empire” I should have typed “that empire was similarly unassailable”.

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Kaveh 07.01.11 at 2:59 pm

Here’s something interesting related to the question of the left and attitudes towards Israel.

http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/1764/algerias-impact-on-french-philosophy_between-posts

The thing that stands out to me is how many on the left, and not just the middling left, really saw Israel through rose-colored glasses, really wanted to believe in it.

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Henri Vieuxtemps 07.01.11 at 3:03 pm

…looks like they are willing to make peace tomorrow…

In this context “to make peace” is a combination of words that doesn’t mean anything at all.

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Watson Ladd 07.01.11 at 3:30 pm

@Chris: If you don’t believe in the nation state as a norm, then yes you can argue for a one-state solution without being antisemitic. The problem is when the Israelis do not have a right to self-determination but other groups do. Yes, self-determination is out of style, but it is still believed in by the Left in general. (the hard left, if the capital L didn’t make it obvious). Is the Belgian state really that oppressive to its German-speaking minority? Or the Dutch state to its Frisian minority? Every national state in Europe has regional minorities, most of which have been integrated. (Yes, I know about ETA).

As for the South Africa comparison that others have made, if the Boers were attempting to make a state out of Cape Town and the Transvaal in majority white areas with their own separate history, then it would be a much better comparison. But that was not the plan: the whites wanted dominance over all of South Africa, and ultimately, thanks to Nelson Mandala giving up on calls for revenge as well as the more moderate whites being able to argue the crazy ones into acceptance, a one state solution was possible. The ANC was not all-black: A lot of its early leadership and membership was Jewish. Again, there are no influential cross-boundary political organizations in I/P. Israel does not exert national sovereignty over all of the Territories, unlike South Africa. South Africans were part of a racist state structure, while Israel does not consider the Territories part of its state.

The Cubans, Tanzanians, Angolans, and others could not have brought about this solution through military force. In I/P a two-state solution was the driving goal, as the territories were never thought of as belonging to Israel. The PLO wanted an independent Palestinian state, and ultimately succeeded in splitting Israeli/Palestinian issues from Israeli-Arab issues. Politics matters: a one state solution which doesn’t turn into an excuse for revenge isn’t politically achievable because there aren’t the forces capable of making an acceptable political settlement. Saying Israel should never have been founded doesn’t solve the problem: we can’t roll back the clock without exiling lots of people.

The PLO bases its argument on ethnic self-determination, Hamas on religious self-determination. Self-determination is accepted by everyone in the room, which makes the failure to reach a peace agreement much more likely to be caused by political factors as Adrian and Ben have ably pointed out. Why these political factors? Because there do not exist movements to change these factors to make peace possible.

I understand this post is drifting into territory that we are barred from, but let’s look at the way in which the comparisons to Northern Ireland and South Africa function. Neither of these is a very good model: Northern Ireland still has peace walls up around Catholic villages, and South Africa has a distinct political history as I’ve pointed out. These comparisons become ways to argue I/P in terms of rights, which presupposes that those on both sides of the line are members of what is in some sense the same community. This just isn’t the perception that either the Palestinians or the Israelis have.

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Henri Vieuxtemps 07.01.11 at 3:55 pm

‘Self-determination’ is an attribute of the entire population of a territorial unit. There can be ethnic discrimination, but there’s no such thing as ethnic or religious self-determination; that’s just playing with words.

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PHB 07.01.11 at 4:56 pm

Comment removed as per guidelines set out above

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Lemuel Pitkin 07.01.11 at 5:15 pm

Israel must either make peace now, at some future date or never. Nobody suggests the final option is a good one,

One often hears this sort of thing, especially from American liberals, but is it true? It’s my impression that a substantial fraction of the Israeli political class sees never making peace very much as a good option, ie sees the desired – and likely – outcome of the conflict as some form of “transfer.” There seems to be almost a conspiracy not to mention this possibility in the US. That’s understandable in the sense that one would like it to be morally beyond the pale, but I think it may create a certain lack of realism in these discussions. In particular people may overestimate what can be achieved by appeals to Israel’s (perceived) self-interest. If what you’re hoping for is the forcible expulsion of Palestinians from some or all of the West Bank (and perhaps of Israeli Arabs as well), then the failure to move toward a two-state solution is not a problem.

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Adrian Kelleher 07.01.11 at 5:26 pm

@Lemuel Pitkin

Well I don’t know what goes on inside people’s heads, but I do remember reports of discussions between leftist Palestinians and Israelis around 2001-2, with each group being understandably dispirited at the time, stating that they were resignedly taking the view that current circumstances would make the 1-state solution inevitable in the end.

The sort of plan you mention could suffer a surprising disaster: Hamas and the PA could lay down their arms and throw themselves at Israel’s mercy. Then the numbers of the Chomskys and Finklesteins and Henochowiczs would multiply rapidly, not something the right would anticipate with relish.

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Shay Begorrah 07.01.11 at 5:29 pm

Watson Ladd@172

The ANC was not all-black: A lot of its early leadership and membership was Jewish.

It is a remarkable testament to the tradition of Jewish social radicalism and progressive politics that two of the most significant white figures in the struggle against Apartheid in the RSA, Joe Slovo and Ronnie Kasrils, were Jewish.

It almost goes without saying that both of these figures were also on the far reaches of the political left and firmly anti-Zionist, Ronnie Kasril’s is still with us and advocated prosecuting South African soldiers who served in the Israeli army during Operation Cast Lead.

South Africans were part of a racist state structure, while Israel does not consider the Territories part of its state.

That is a fascinating mental distinction you have there Mr Ladd, I feel however that a Palestinian making their way at gunpoint through the West banks interminable check points while looking at the settlers in Ariel zipping to and from Israel proper on new highways might not feel the same way about Israel’s lack of racist state structures.

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Watson Ladd 07.01.11 at 9:03 pm

Israel is not a state including the Territories! The Territories are Occupied Territories, not part of the Israeli state. A one-state solution is not equal rights in Palestine, but rather the abandonment of Palestinian Nationalism as well as Zionism.

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geo 07.01.11 at 9:30 pm

Watson @174: The problem is when the Israelis do not have a right to self-determination but other groups do

Self-determination is a territorially-based right. If the inhabitants of a defined area want to constitute themselves a political community, then they are claiming a right of self-determination. But historic Zionism claimed the right of self-determination not for the inhabitants of the area that is now Israel — a large majority of those inhabitants were Palestinian Arabs. They claimed that the Jewish inhabitants of that area had the right, because of their connection with it 2000 years before, to constitute themselves a political community there which would be Jewish not in marginal or symbolic ways but in central ways, which would disadvantage non-Jews. In other words, they claimed the right to a “Jewish state” in which a substantial proportion of the population would be non-Jews. If this is what you mean, Watson, when you say that “Jews should have a right of national self-determination,” then you ought to explain why a Jewish state is any more legitimate than a Christian state or a Muslim state or a Han Chinese state or a Berber state or any other ethnically- or religiously-based state.

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Adrian Kelleher 07.01.11 at 10:12 pm

I’ve no problem with Israel as an exception to principles about self determination and ethnicity. Antisemitism is (almost) uniquely virulent and broad as a form of prejudice and the most extreme expressions of violent racism were directed at Jews within living memory. There are a few comparable types of racism, but each falls short in extremity in one way or another, and most in a quite a few.

Only Chinese (IMO — although it’s seldom remembered today) were subject to anything directly comparable and that did not in actuality lead to brutality as extensive or to racist ideology as deeply rooted as antisemitism.

I wouldn’t excuse the de-jure discrimination within the state of Israel, but this (meaning specifically the de-jure discrimination) is in any case mild AFAIK. On the other hand, I wouldn’t regard the one state solution as ideal. Time to make peace because otherwise things risk taking on a momentum of their own. The major issue today is in any case water rather than land or rights of return.

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geo 07.01.11 at 10:14 pm

Sorry, Watson, you didn’t actually say that “Jews should have a right of national self-determination.” That’s what a lot of other people say, though. Do you agree with them?

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StevenAttewell 07.01.11 at 10:35 pm

geo at 181 – Without taking a position one way or the other, does the territory argument hold for all cases? After all, Native American groups haven’t been geographically located on the land they claim in a couple hundred years, etc.

185

PHB 07.01.11 at 10:54 pm

Well I don’t see why you raised the issue if you didn’t want to actually discuss it.

I note that the pro-Zionist in the thread was not censored.

Ironic that I was actually on topic and that my point was that the reason why Goldberg and co write what they do is that they are in the grip of an ideology that does not allow them to see any contradictory information.

Seems that you have the same problem as the Conservatives.

186

geo 07.02.11 at 12:46 am

Interesting question, Steven. Are the Native Americans you mention seeking the return of formerly occupied lands or political sovereignty over the (reservation) lands they now occupy?

187

bianca steele 07.02.11 at 12:59 am

geo @ 181
You can kind of be fairer to the early Zionists at least, and acknowledge that they didn’t envision dispossessing the current inhabitants, they didn’t mention the current inhabitants at all. Which points to a blind spot but not to the intention of murdering people or driving them from their homes in a cruel and unusual manner.

Another point, as already alluded to, is that some Germans, for example, were talking about doing the same thing to places like Denmark and maybe even France, and did not appear to be in the mood to grant special rights to non-Teutonic minorities. IIRC your Bernard Shaw had believed such a thing to be inevitable. Incidentally, how this would be accomplished may well point to another blind spot, unless it was believed that Denmark was as similar to Bavaria as the Rhineland was to Prussia.

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StevenAttewell 07.02.11 at 1:16 am

geo – depends on the group, but both have been known to occur.

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geo 07.02.11 at 1:18 am

bianca: Yes, sorry, I didn’t mean to be unkind to the early Zionists. They were in a tough spot, especially after 1933. But there is currently, I gather, a lively scholarly debate over whether, and to what extent, they did indeed intend to dispossess the Arab inhabitants of Palestine. And of course there’s no debating the fact that, once the rest of the Mandate territory came into their hands in 1948, they never had any intention of restoring those lands to those who had fled (or been driven) from them. Nor is there any doubt that neither Labor nor any other party ever intended to give back the lands conquered in 1967, at least without keeping the most desirable areas and carving up the rest into bantustans.

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bianca steele 07.02.11 at 2:10 am

Well, you could be fairer again and compare the Jewish state’s approach to ethnicity and religion with that in European countries like England and Germany. It should have been obvious that it couldn’t work (it was inferior to the US approach to religious freedom for one thing), and was as unfair to non-Jews as the European system had been to Jews, even if it had been carried out as fairly as possible, which it wasn’t (though most people in the US didn’t know it). Everybody got their own chief whatever, got to marry and be buried and be taught according to their personal religion. It matches one (misguided) ideal of a multicultural state pretty well.

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puss wallgreen 07.02.11 at 6:52 am

Watson: “The problem is when the Israelis do not have a right to self-determination but other groups do.”
Look, can you just drop this fallacious reasoning? Unless every Zionist also supports Basque self-determination, Scottish independence, myriad secessionist movements in Africa, or the Black Panther Party’s proposal for a UN-supervised referendum on self-determination for black people in the US. und sie weiter, they would be guilty of the same contradiction of supporting self-determination for one “people” and not another (not to mention, of course, the fact that most Zionists deny any effective Palestinian right to self-determination). One could contest “the Jewish people’s right to self-determination” on any number of grounds (not least by contesting the existence of a “Jewish people”) or support it any number of grounds (unique historical experience etc). But whichever side you took, you would be looking at an indivdual very specific case which is not generalisable or vulnerable to the objection that “that’s not what you say about Manx nationalism”.
“the whites wanted dominance over all of South Africa”
Ever heard of Bantustans?
“Israel is not a state including the Territories”
Israel annexed the “greater Jerusalem” area, comprising about one third of the West Bank, immediately after the 1967 war. It has made it clear that under any conceivable peace settlement it will annex all the major settlement blocs as well as the Jordan valley, while maintaining control of airspace and water resources in the areas it withdraws its military from, and ensuring any Palestinian entity that emerges is unarmed. Jews living anywhere in the West Bank enjoy the full rights and protections of Israeli citizens. That sounds a lot like sovereignty to me, although of course Israel doesn’t have any borders and no Israeli government has ever indicated where it would like its borders to be under a final settlement (though apparently they have informed you).
It’s good at least to see that you appear to have dropped your claim that substantial portions of “the left” call for the expulsion of Jews from Israel/Palestine, as well as your risible attempts to support this claim through links which prove nothing of the sort.

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rf 07.02.11 at 12:35 pm

I long for the Pat Kenny has Lou Gehrigs disease Late Late show special where Bibi Netanhyahu and Watson Ladd debate Twink and a plastic bag over the role that anti semitism played in Alan Shatters failure to get 17 amendments to the Sexual Predators Act passed

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Andrew F. 07.02.11 at 3:08 pm

Walt @156: Israel is a modern democracy established by Westerners, while Syria and Iran are a fucked-up kleptocracy and a fucked-up Islamic theocracy. People expect better out of Israel for the same reason they hold Winston Churchill to a higher standard than they do Genghis Khan.

So your thesis is that the energy directed at Israeli policy is caused by the degree to which those policies miss expectations of Israeli policy? If so, does that justify, morally, the expenditure of such energy on Israel when there are nations that do much worse, and sometimes with inadequate public attention from the populations of the West?

puss @159: So let me get this straight – your question is, why, according to anecdotal evidence you don’t cite, Ireland appears to have a proportion of vigorously anti-Israeli people which is about the same as many other countries? And why does this vigorously anti-Israeli proportion devote so much energy to being vigorously anti-Israeli? Thanks for that, it certainly is one to be raised at the graduate seminar.

I asked two questions: (1) What causes a certain proportion of people in Ireland, and elsewhere, to focus so much attention on the Israel/Palestine problem? (2) Is this attention justified when it diminishes the energy given to much worse problems? You’ll find that your sarcasm will make more sense, and questions raised in graduate seminars will become more interesting, when you read more carefully beforehand.

Shay @160: Some would say that the Irish opposition to Israel boils down to an ingrained and atavistic prejudice against colonialism, despite all the benefits it has brought to the world.

Leaving aside whether the analogy you draw later in your comment to South Africa is really appropriate, and assuming that the attention Israel draws from a certain proportion of the Irish is due to the colonial history of the Irish, do you think this attention to be morally justified if it diminishes the attention given to other problems?

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Substance McGravitas 07.02.11 at 3:32 pm

If so, does that justify, morally, the expenditure of such energy on Israel when there are nations that do much worse, and sometimes with inadequate public attention from the populations of the West?

Well, if you’re American you might wonder why you’re sending it around three billion a year to continue invading territory while people are trying to abolish your social security.

195

Shay Begorrah 07.02.11 at 4:42 pm

Andrew@193

Leaving aside whether the analogy you draw later in your comment to South Africa is really appropriate,

<Chokes on mint tea>Leaving aside my main point about the close similarities between the colonial ideology and policies that underlay both Apartheid South Africa and the Zionist project, a linkage that the two countries accepted to the extent that there was extensive military and foreign policy cooperation between them, including nuclear proliferation? Why exactly would I leave aside my main point?

The portion of the Irish for whom colonialism still represents an evil are naturally opposed to Israel , as they were to Apartheid South Africa. That is the answer to Henry’s initial question/joke.

and assuming that the attention Israel draws from a certain proportion of the Irish is due to the colonial history of the Irish, do you think this attention to be morally justified if it diminishes the attention given to other problems?

It is morally vital, unless you believe we (The West[tm]) are engaged in some global clash for civilizational supremacy in which we have to accept that Israel can subvert, displace, murder and extend with impunity because they are somehow on our side against the “real” bad guys. You could also believe that the history of European anti-semitism means we need to keep our mouths shut, two wrongs make a right and all that but that seems even more weak minded,

On a related not it is sad to see that the Greek government did Israel’s dirty work for them by interdicting the Gaza flotilla. I wonder what Mossad had on George Papandreou.

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Shay Begorrah 07.02.11 at 4:48 pm

The last post looked fine in preview. Lets try it again.

Andrew@193

Leaving aside whether the analogy you draw later in your comment to South Africa is really appropriate,

< Chokes on mint tea >
Leaving aside my main point about the close similarities between the colonial ideology and policies that underlay both Apartheid South Africa and the Zionist project, a linkage that the two countries accepted to the extent that there was extensive military and foreign policy cooperation between them, including nuclear proliferation? Why exactly would I leave aside my main point?

The portion of the Irish for whom colonialism still represents an evil are naturally opposed to Israel , as they were to Apartheid South Africa. That is the answer to Henry’s initial question/joke.

and assuming that the attention Israel draws from a certain proportion of the Irish is due to the colonial history of the Irish, do you think this attention to be morally justified if it diminishes the attention given to other problems?

It is morally vital, unless you believe we (The West[tm]) are engaged in some global clash for civilizational supremacy in which we have to accept that Israel can subvert, displace, murder and extend with impunity because they are somehow on our side against the “real” bad guys. You could also believe that the history of European anti-semitism means we need to keep our mouths shut, two wrongs make a right and all that but that seems even more weak minded,

On a related not it is sad to see that the Greek government did Israel’s dirty work for them by interdicting the Gaza flotilla. I wonder what Mossad had on George Papandreou.

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Shay Begorrah 07.02.11 at 4:53 pm

I have destroyed the thread formatting somehow by using overly complex markup (possibly the <anger style=”righteous”> tag) and also possibly the thread. It was going nowhere but I still feel bad.

Sorry Crooked Timber. I now ban myself.

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PHB 07.02.11 at 5:05 pm

@Substance 194

Cost of the GM, Chrysler bailout $14 billion
Cost of air conditioning for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, $20 billion PER YEAR.

Guess which one the Republican party thinks was an unconscionable waste of public money?

The answer to why the West should make pressuring Israel to obey the requirements of modern civilized society is quite simple: While there are regimes that are more oppressive than Israel, none of those regimes are susceptible to Western pressure. Saudi Arabia has unlimited cash, North Korea is propped up by the Chinese to provide a buffer zone and attempts to bring down Iran and Cuba have been uniformly counterproductive.

Israel is clearly concerned when people in the West state that they consider the foundation of their state to be less than perfect. They are concerned for their security. But they also want to be seen as a legitimate state.

As Jews disown Israel in increasing numbers, the foundation of Israel as a Jewish state crumbles.

But that is one of the facts that Henry does not want us to be talking about here. Can’t let facts that might change people’s minds enter the conversation. They are rather too dangerous.

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Dee 07.02.11 at 5:12 pm

Substance @194

What is rarely noted is that the 3 billion to Israel is in aid to buy American arms and technology, thus little more than a government subsidy to these US industries and their workers (aka voters). Many Israelis, mostly from the right, argue that Israel should decline the money and develop homegrown substitutes which they could then sell to other countries (which they do in so many other areas) not to mention that they could then more effectively resist American diplomatic pressures.

Andrew @193

Re Genghis Khan vs Churchill, there is a small bit of merit in this argument, but not much. Clearly Israel is held to a different standard than, say Assad’s Syria, and is susceptible to foreign diplomatic and moral pressure, especially when it comes from governments or institutions they see as friendly or at the very least neutral. But I can’t think that Israelis are wrong to be wary of foreigners who loudly proclaim Israel to be not the Churchill of the Middle East, not even the Genghis Khan, but the new Hitler… with all that resonance of that name to most inhabitants of their country.

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Substance McGravitas 07.02.11 at 5:19 pm

What is rarely noted is that the 3 billion to Israel is in aid to buy American arms and technology, thus little more than a government subsidy to these US industries and their workers (aka voters).

“Little more” is understating the effect, I think, given that they actually receive the military aid, which amounts to something. The Israeli budget is about 60 billion a year. But yes, it’s a pretty cynical sort of foreign aid.

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Andrew F. 07.02.11 at 6:02 pm

>

Shay @196:

I said “leaving aside” your analogy because I did – and do not – not want to engage in a discussion about the merits of the Israel-Palestine problem. For the sake of discussion I simply assumed your hypothesis as to the causal element of Irish attention (history of colonialism) to be correct.

As to the moral necessity of focusing on the Israel-Palestine problem, my point is not that a European history of anti-Semitism requires silence. Rather I wonder whether the resources devoted to popular protests and aid might better be spent on other, far more severe, problems. Underlying the particular question about attention to the Israel-Palestine problem is a much broader question about how, and why, various causes attract popular attention.

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Henri Vieuxtemps 07.02.11 at 6:09 pm

Well, I suspect it probably attracts attention because several million people have been living under military occupation for 45 years, their only crime being their ethnicity.

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Dee 07.02.11 at 6:25 pm

Substance @200,

In fact it’s even more complicated (cynical?), because the $3 billion is subsidized contingent on Israel buying even more US arms and insuring that the US companies retain all rights to the technology, thus keeping Israeli companies from competing in certain segments of the lucrative international arms market. This is just to say that the impetus for the 3 billion is less political (in the narrow, diplomatic sense) than economic, with the big US arms manufacturers – and perhaps their district Congress members – providing the push.

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ajay 07.02.11 at 6:34 pm

Something I don’t understand is why are I/P discussions so terrible? Why are they so much worse than any other argument?

Longevity, I should think. There aren’t many unresolved territorial disputes that have been going on both that long and that bloodily. There are longer-running ones, sure, but it’s not as though (frex) the Argentinians are shelling Port Stanley every other week, or the Germans are blowing up policemen in Kaliningrad over the loss of their ancestral homeland of East Prussia. Most other territorial disputes have been resolved through force or argument or through one side simply giving up.
And it also helps, from the point of view of getting attention, that Israel’s easy to reach and not actually that dangerous, compared to, say, the Great Congo War.

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Substance McGravitas 07.02.11 at 7:00 pm

This is just to say that the impetus for the 3 billion is less political (in the narrow, diplomatic sense) than economic, with the big US arms manufacturers – and perhaps their district Congress members – providing the push.

I was under the impression that this – and similar provisions for the Egyptian military – were still part of a treaty obligation. Maybe Congress can defund that somehow, but I was not aware of a specific yearly push to keep the money flowing.

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Dee 07.02.11 at 7:16 pm

Substance @205,

Perhaps someone else could clarify this, but my sense was that the arms aid was not a formal part of any treaty but simply an indefinite “understanding” (or some similar term). There were periodic murmurs about abrogating these subsidies, a few this year after Mubarak’s overthrow, but, given the arms manufacturers’ (and their Congress members’) clout, I doubt that would happen.

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Lemuel Pitkin 07.02.11 at 7:24 pm

I wonder whether the resources devoted to popular protests and aid might better be spent on other, far more severe, problems.

Well, however far down the plight of the Palestinians falls on the Great Chain of Wrongs, European concern about Palestinians must fall much lower. So you’re being much more immoral by caring about that.

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Dee 07.02.11 at 7:26 pm

Substance @205,

And further to my previous reply… If the aid was halted, either to Egypt or Israel, or both, for politico-diplomatic reasons, I’m sure the arms manufacturers would find other ways to have their exports subsidized. That industry exists on government largesse.

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Shay Begorrah 07.02.11 at 7:49 pm

Lemuel Pitkin@207

Well, however far down the plight of the Palestinians falls on the Great Chain of Wrongs, European concern about Palestinians must fall much lower. So you’re being much more immoral by caring about that.

A subversive and decisive thread winner I think. Very nice.

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Walt 07.02.11 at 9:07 pm

Substance, my impression (and I don’t know where I formed it) is that 2 billion of the 3 billion is part of the Egypt-Israel peace agreement, so the other 1 billion is more discretionary.

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Adrian Kelleher 07.02.11 at 9:33 pm

IIRC, aid to Israel and Egypt must be given in fixed proportions of 2:1 but if there’s any minimum level, it’s very low and it could be zero.

The surveys bert (#163) links to above are shocking and quite frightening. Ireland played Israel home and away in soccer around 8 years ago and I remember there was a quick 2-way media campaign aimed at cultural understanding before each match; it may have been a wise precaution even though the Israeli soccer team has always had many Arab players.

If anyone in the public sphere suggests that Israel’s behaviour spurs antisemitism or that Israel exploits antisemitism politically, they get denounced(*). Nonetheless, evidence of each of these phenomena exists, suggesting that some Israeli politicians have done their country a huge disservice for momentary political advantage, as the antisemitism accusation has lost a lot of force.

(* even if only from a small constituency; the media’s default “he said, she said” style of reporting for difficult issues that stems from laziness and lack of moral courage tends to elevate fringe voices on either side to undeserved prominence)

Add to these the facts that much of Israel’s US support comes from literalist Christians who interpret the very existence of Israel as a sign of the end times and the severe internal divisions that its external conflicts tend to obscure and Israel’s internal foundations begin to look scarily fallible.

The origins of the religious Christian support are directly and ideologically antisemitic — it’s based on the Christian bible after all, and the role of the Jews in Revelations is basically that of stooges. The fervour of those who see the foundation of Israel as a sign of the end times may begin to dim as the time since that event grows ever larger. It may be that some event in future could wholly or partially transform that support abruptly into opposition, and religious antisemitism has never been pretty.

I’m surprised there isn’t a little bit more understanding for the position of the Israeli “man in the street”. Many are 1st or second generation immigrants from Arab countries who were either “encouraged” to leave or actually expelled under very unequal circumstances exactly like the Arabs were in 1948. The country also lacks strategic depth, and I’m sure every Israeli who has driven from the edge of the West Bank to the sea in just a few minutes at the waist of the country must have made a calculation at one point or other about how long that would take by tank. That’s without even getting into the holocaust.

The intensity of the hatred directed at the country combined with the unquestioning, almost adulatory, support it receives are making the country progressively more introverted. Reading the comments threads on Haaretz etc. it becomes apparent that many there have given up on trying to make sense of others’ perceptions of them and instead reject reflexively all foreign interpretations.

This holds no dangers for Europeans or Americans, modest dangers for Arabs in the vicinity of Israel and severe dangers for Israel itself. Debate is not as robust as it was, or at least not as general. Rather public discourse proceeds along quite narrow lines, with certain ambiguities and feats of clever phraseology serving to paper over internal divisions. For example, by selective quotation one could make Bibi Netanyahu seem as conciliatory as Nelson Mandela. This can be denounced as hypocrisy but what’s forgotten is that Israelis need to believe their leaders are making genuine efforts to find peace. Coteret.com gives a good indication of the true fissures within the country, and of the possible consequences were those hopes to be disappointed.

This is all IMO, natch. However I do try to interpret Israeli politics and history as I would anywhere else and to see their reactions as universal and human rather than particular or ethnic. On the face of it, it’s odd that Irish and Israelis find it so easy to dismiss each others experiences; there are a lot of parallels even if Ireland’s are a little more remote.

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Substance McGravitas 07.02.11 at 9:49 pm

Attempted a link to a PDF, now in moderation. The aid, it appears to me, is not some standing obligation but general yearly practice; Dee’s supposition that military aid would go on anyway without the obligation I believed existed seems to be, in fact, the case.

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Andrew F 07.03.11 at 12:29 am

Lemuel @207: But I’m merely commenting on a blog, not organizing ships to break a blockade, not organizing protests, and generally not spending any significant resources on this particular cause.

I think Ajay’s point about the accessibility of the Israel-Palestine problem is closer to the mark. I’d also guess that in certain circles one’s views of the Israel-Palestine problem also function as a kind of signal about one’s other moral views, so that to communicate a view about the I/P problem becomes a deliberate communication about one’s larger moral perspective – which may be why so many I/P discussions devolve into interlocutors passionately repeating themselves. So perhaps, for some of the Irish, to be focused on the I/P problem is to express one’s identification with a set of narratives about Irish history and culture.

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bianca steele 07.03.11 at 12:48 am

The fervour of those who see the foundation of Israel as a sign of the end times may begin to dim as the time since that event grows ever larger.

After all most religious prophecies have failed leaving the sect’s adherents disillusioned and determined to abandon their messianic hopes and focus relentlessly on the practical world.

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Henri Vieuxtemps 07.03.11 at 6:58 am

@Adrian Kelleher:

I’m surprised there isn’t a little bit more understanding for the position of the Israeli “man in the street”. Many are 1st or second generation immigrants from Arab countries who were either “encouraged” to leave or actually expelled under very unequal circumstances exactly like the Arabs were in 1948.

So, with this in mind, what’s the most rational (understandable) position of the “man in the street”: that ethnic discrimination, ethnic violence, and ethnic cleansing are wrong – or the opposite?

The country also lacks strategic depth, and I’m sure every Israeli who has driven from the edge of the West Bank to the sea in just a few minutes at the waist of the country must have made a calculation at one point or other about how long that would take by tank.

Living in Liechtenstein must be even more dangerous. So, under these circumstances, what do you think would be the most rational way to deal with the folks across the border?

That’s without even getting into the holocaust.

What do you think the main lesson of the holocaust is, to a rational person? I’m really curious about this one.

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Ben 07.03.11 at 8:54 am

So, with this in mind, what’s the most rational (understandable) position of the “man in the street”: that ethnic discrimination, ethnic violence, and ethnic cleansing are wrong – or the opposite?

Shit happens? We have to look after ourselves because nobody else will? Blood is thicker than water? Put your trust in what is, not what you wish for?

Surely in a world where unjust violence is rife, the first priority is to make sure it doesn’t happen to you and yours. Only once you have done that will you worry about others. I do not think there is anything immoral about that.

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Henri Vieuxtemps 07.03.11 at 9:14 am

We have to look after ourselves because nobody else will?

So, ‘you have to look after yourself by doing unto others as you wouldn’t have them do unto you’ – what is it, the ‘shit rule’? – and that’s the position of the “man in the street” I’m supposed to sympathize with, according to Adrian Kelleher, 211?

And with this position:
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3381978,00.html

Over half of the Jewish population in Israel believes the marriage of a Jewish woman to an Arab man is equal to national treason, according to a recent survey by the Geocartography Institute.

The survey, which was conducted for the Center Against Racism, also found that over 75 percent of participants did not approve of apartment buildings being shared between Arabs and Jews. Sixty percent of participants said they would not allow an Arab to visit their home.

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Adrian Kelleher 07.03.11 at 9:50 am

@Henri Vieuxtemps

The appeal was for understanding, not political endorsement. The left and the peace movement there were much stronger a decade ago, then the country suffered more than a thousand dead in the 2nd intifada and they suffered political reverses. That several senior labour leaders treated the party as a vehicle for personal ambition didn’t help either. Nonetheless the significance of the fact that its support was much higher in the recent past can hardly be dismissed.

Let’s be honest and say that a lot of countries historically have reacted much more severely when in Israel’s position. In the cold war, the scope for actually getting away with it was much higher. Compare Arab losses in the 6-day war-War of Attrition-Yom Kippur War period with those suffered by North Vietnam (vs USA) or Afghanistan (vs USSR) or the rebel regions of Ethiopia.

The F-4, a cold war stalwart, could carry 8 tonnes of bombs — as much as a WWII heavy bomber. Israel could have sustained 100 sorties a day with these aircraft indefinitely and if the last 60 years of world history is any guide, the list of ‘military’ targets is endless.

Extreme antisemitism quite out of character with the regions history has been the legacy of colonial rule. Just as it favoured Muslims in India, and always favoured minorities as their very minority position made them vulnerable, the British favoured Jews in the middle east.

Sadat and Nasser were both imprisoned in WWII as the Germans approached Alexandria; thus it was a very particular sort of revolutionary leader that was granted credibility. Colonial rule in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria was especially and purposefully divisive.

The legacy has been one of extreme attitudes, attitudes that Israel’s actions since 1982 — a period when it has enjoyed relative security — have sadly only aggravated. The integrity of organisations like MEMRI has been called into question but enough of their output has been independently authenticated to alarm anyone. This is not the case with Liechtenstein.

I never characterised the reactions of the Israeli public as rational, however it’s not difficult to exaggerate the role of rationality in human affairs anywhere.

Israel has neither been as unrestrained nor as restrained as it might have been. It’s policy over the last decade seems to be to generate the maximum of ill will for the of political advantage, and this (as I’ve tried to demonstrate) has been very much a function of the specific political structures in the country.

I’ve made an effort to interpret Israel as a political entity and now invite you to do the same. If you give examples of countries that have exercised more or less restraint, or have made peace or war over recent decades, and provide your interpretations of their actions then we can begin to examine whether Israel’s actions are similar or whether some special rules apply in Israel’s case. My claim is that cultural interpretations, other than generic interpretations of particular circumstances, or special pleading are not productive and that Israel’s history isn’t especially awkward to interpret compared with anywhere else.

You might want to reflect on the fact that the stuff I’ve written would in other places receive a much more emphatic reaction than yours from pro-Israel commentators. My statements were primarily aimed at that country, a reasonable course I think given that nothing can change without Israeli consent.

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Henri Vieuxtemps 07.03.11 at 10:44 am

Adrian, as far as the ‘appeal for understanding’, I don’t think a lot of people have a problem understanding the psychology of it. It’s not that complicated. It’s just that I don’t think it helps you in your quest for moderation (or whatever it is): everything has an explanation, but that doesn’t make certain phenomena any less objectionable.

As for the rest:

My claim is that cultural interpretations, other than generic interpretations of particular circumstances, or special pleading are not productive and that Israel’s history isn’t especially awkward to interpret compared with anywhere else.

…of course it’s not unique, but it all depends on where and when this “anywhere else” is. Jimmy Carter, for example, interprets is as an equivalent of apartheid-era South Africa; you probably have something else in mind.

But I’ve commented too much in this thread already.

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bianca steele 07.03.11 at 3:08 pm

Jimmy Carter, for example, interprets is as an equivalent of apartheid-era South Africa

Certainly a commonplace of left demonstrations against South Africa and racism within recent memory (e.g. “Apartheid=Jim Crow=Homelessness”) and not especially surprising.

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