The Higher Sociopathy

by Corey Robin on July 28, 2014

In the annals of moral casuistry, you’d be hard pressed to find a better example of the perils of moral reasoning than this defense, brought to you by The New Republic, of the slaughter of Palestinian civilians in Gaza:

We can say that there is a principle worth fighting and dying for: Civilians cannot be used to make just wars impossible and morality will not be used as a tool to disarm. And once we have that principle, the proportionality calculation changes. The deaths of innocents are not simply outweighed by Israelis’ right to live without daily rockets and terrorists tunneling into a kibbutz playground; but by the defense of a world in which terrorists cannot use morality to achieve victory over those who try to fight morally. It is the protection of that world, one in which moral soldiers still have a fighting chance, that justifies Israel’s operations against Hamas today. And it is that greater cause that decisively outweighs the terrible toll in innocent life.


That’s the last paragraph of a piece that attempts to confront one of the many challenges of defending the Gaza war: namely, that on a critical principle of just war theory—the proportionality principle, which states that “the military value of a target must outweigh the anticipated harm to civilians”—Israel, as the author acknowledges, “may seem to fail the test.”

 

Can we confidently say that the anticipated harm to innocents is justified by Israel’s expected military gains? The degrading of Hamas’ rocket capabilities, and most of all the destruction of its terrifying network of offensive tunnels (fortified by the limited cement that Israel permitted into Gaza for humanitarian purposes) are valuable military goals. But as the Palestinian death count rises above 500 [editorial note: it’s now over 1000]many of these civilianI find myself bewildered: Are these tunnels really worth the lives of all those children?


A normal person might be drawn up short by such a question. A normal person might answer that maybe, just maybe, the war isn’t worth it. But a normal person is not a philosopher of war.

Rather than confront reality, the philosopher of war resorts to reason. If the problem is the mismatch between the terrible grandeur of the means and the pedestrian poverty of the ends, don’t rethink your means, much less the war; simply inflate the ends.

There is, however, a way out of this paradox. And we find it at the moment we realize that Hamas’ actions have made this war about more than Israel or Palestine; it’s a war about future of morality in armed conflicts. For if Israel declines to fight, we live in a world where terror groups use their own civilians, and twist morality itself, to bind the hands of those who try to fight morally. In this world, cruelty is an advantage, and the moral are powerless in the face of aggression and indiscriminate attack. And make no mistake: The eyes of the world are on Hamas, and terrorist groups worldwide willas they have for generationslearn from the tactics of Gazan terrorists and the world’s reaction. So if Israel allows Hamas’ human shields to defeat it now, we will all reap the results in the years to come.


And that’s how we come to that gruesome last paragraph.

The Gaza war, you see, is not a war over tunnels. It’s not even a war in defense of Israel. It’s a war about…war, a war in defense of just war. Once upon a time, crackpots thought they were fighting a war to end all wars. That was its justice. Now they’re fighting a war in order to make just war possible. That is its justice.

The theory of just war is supposed to impose limits upon the launching and fighting of wars. It’s a condition of, a constraint upon, war. But here it becomes the end—both the aim and the justification—of war. Because that is the aim of Israel’s war, “civilians cannot be used” to make such a war “impossible.” They must instead be used to make it possible.

Hannah Arendt would have had a field day with this kind of reasoning: how it takes an action that it acknowledges to be dirty, puts it through the ideological rinse cycle, and makes it come out clean; and how it turns the manufacture of human corpses into the instrument of a higher law. It’s not, as the idealist would have it, that the law places a condition or constraint on the manufacture of corpses. Nor is it, as the cynic would have it, that the law provides an excuse or justification for the manufacture of corpses. It’s something stranger, more terrible: the law requires the manufacture of corpses.

{ 474 comments }

1

SamChevre 07.28.14 at 6:07 pm

The stated reasoning in the article seems to be closely related to Lincoln’s reasoning in the Order of Retaliation – if you break the laws of war (as we construe them) we will break the laws of war as we both agree them to be.

In that case, it was successful in forcing the South to act according to Lincoln’s interpretation of the laws of war.

2

Corey Robin 07.28.14 at 6:14 pm

Not so. Lincoln never said that the purpose of the Civil War was now transformed into a defense of the laws of war. He never claimed, at least not to my knowledge, that the Civil War was being fought on behalf of the principle that a war should be fought justly. What’s more, notice the very strict eye for an eye that Lincoln observes: you kill a prisoner of war, we do the same; you enslave a prisoner of war, we do the same (or a version thereof). Nowhere does he say: you build tunnels and launch rockets that have a kill rate of about 0%, we kill a lot of your children.

3

phosphorious 07.28.14 at 6:19 pm

“There is, however, a way out of this paradox. . .”

A paradox is a seemingly valid argument that proceeds from acceptable premises to an unacceptable conclusion. The unacceptable conclusion here is. . . peace?

Yikes.

4

TM 07.28.14 at 6:22 pm

Is the New Republic saying that Israel needs to slaughter children in order to defend civilization? Where have we heard that before!? It’s just incredibly sickening.

5

Joshua W. Burton 07.28.14 at 6:27 pm

Nowhere does he say: you build tunnels and launch rockets that have a kill rate of about 0%, we kill a lot of your children.

That formulation takes us all the way back to Aquinas, and the principle of double effect. (Unless, that is, you have a credible citation of IDF intent to kill children propter se?)

6

TM 07.28.14 at 6:29 pm

3: He meant dilemma, not paradox. The dilemma is: the good guys act like they are the bad guys. How can we solve that dilemma? It is almost heartening that TNR does consider this a problem in need of explaining away. The standard approach has been, “Israel is the good guy by definition and no empirical data can ever refute that.”

7

Dan 07.28.14 at 6:30 pm

“What’s more, notice the very strict eye for an eye that Lincoln observes”

So if Israel randomly fired a rocket into Gaza every time Hamas randomly fired one into Israel, that’d be OK?

8

b9n10nt 07.28.14 at 6:38 pm

Dan, under conditions of political equality (i.e. if Israel was likewise a giant slum whose borders were controlled by Palestinian militants who were elsewhere occupying and settling large swathes of Israel), yes.

9

Paul 07.28.14 at 6:40 pm

Eye for an eye (however uneasy it might make us feel) is a good strategy in game theory – the optimum (selfish) strategy is to be retaliatory, but also presumptively nice, non-envious, non-escalatory and forgiving. These latter qualities appear to be lacking in the Israeli strategy.

10

Barry 07.28.14 at 6:46 pm

Joshua W. Burton 07.28.14 at 6:27 pm

” That formulation takes us all the way back to Aquinas, and the principle of double effect. (Unless, that is, you have a credible citation of IDF intent to kill children propter se?)”

One, bullsh*t. Don’t try to pull the principle of double effect to cover evil actions by claiming that they are aimed at goods. Second, the kill rate by now is a credible citation.

11

Nick 07.28.14 at 7:02 pm

Even if we accept the crude assessment of the political situation in Gaza as akin to a hostage scenario, isn’t he rather directly arguing that the just response is to kill both hostage and criminal in defense of justice? What inhumane nonsense.

12

Donald Johnson 07.28.14 at 7:02 pm

“Unless, that is, you have a credible citation of IDF intent to kill children propter se?)”

There is something called the Dahiya doctrine link

I think, though, that Western officials are usually smart enough to avoid being so explicit about their intent to hurt the civilian population.

Tom Friedman isn’t an IDF spokesman, but he’s a useful pundit for glimpsing the sociopathic reasoning of the people in power. People constantly make fun of Tom, but I find him invaluable that way. He praised the IDF strategy as he saw it in a January 14, 2009 column during Cast Lead. He said the idea in the 2006 Lebanon War and possibly in Gaza in 2009 was to punish the civilians–
————————————
“Israel’s counterstrategy was to use its Air Force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future.

Israel’s military was not focused on the morning after the war in Lebanon — when Hezbollah declared victory and the Israeli press declared defeat. It was focused on the morning after the morning after, when all the real business happens in the Middle East. That’s when Lebanese civilians, in anguish, said to Hezbollah: “What were you thinking? Look what destruction you have visited on your own community! For what? For whom?””
——————————-

Friedman column

13

Corey Robin 07.28.14 at 7:09 pm

My claim at #2 is not contingent upon any empirical claim about the IDF deliberately targeting children. It’s a response to the previous claim that tries to invoke Lincoln as precedent for an argument on behalf of the IDF. In order for that precedent to be successfully invoked, you have to invoke the mode of argument in that precedent, which is one of deliberate infliction of harm upon an enemy in response to that enemy’s infliction of harm upon you. The point, in other words, is that that the precedent won’t work for Israel’s defenders.

14

Anarcissie 07.28.14 at 7:18 pm

Doesn’t the irrationality of the TNR article look like evidence of a significant crack in the ostensible ideological foundations of the West? I know Western wars of racial extermination are old hat, but in this case everyone knows and can see what’s going on, and it is the opposite of what they profess to favor. Those who unreservedly support such a war (like the US Senate and House of Representatives) have become parties to the war and the terms on which it is being waged. When an organized group ceases to (pretend to) observe its own professed principles, it no longer has a means of determining its own boundaries and membership. If it is in the violence business, as any state is, the result of this indeterminacy is likely to be civil war sooner or later.

15

Barry 07.28.14 at 7:26 pm

“Doesn’t the irrationality of the TNR article look like evidence of a significant crack in the ostensible ideological foundations of the West? “

Just read back during the day when Peretz was in charge. The New Republic has been that way forty years now.

16

Ben 07.28.14 at 7:36 pm

The appeals to proportionality reveal the pro-genocidal stand of Corey Robin and his fellow critics of Israel. Over the years since the Palestine mandate Israel has been a minority beseiged by neighboring peoples in much larger numbers. They have repeatedly fended off attempts at annihilation and become stronger in the process. The fact that Palestinians still live in these territories is proof of the strong moral asymmetry of the conflict, with Israel maintaining the moral high ground. Israel has succeeded in the past and the Palesinians still live in Palestine. This seems to me to fit the strategy Paul mentions above as being non-escalatory and forgiving. Indeed, the fact that Gaza is in Palestinian hands is proof of the forgiving nature of Israel. What country on earth would face repeated threats to its citizens, attempts specifically to target its civilians, and not attempt to root out the source of that threat? Proportionality is not a viable alternative simply because it is an acceptable, even desired, alternative for those like Hamas continuing to try to annihilate Israel. If Hamas were told that all violence will be met with proportional violence, the war of annihilation of the Jews will continue forever or until the Jews are annihilated. That is why Israel must do whatever it can to demilitarize Gaza. And please tell me what country on the face of the earth has ever engaged in war—and make no mistake, Israel and Hamas are at war—and gone to the extent that Israel has to both try to prevent civilian deaths and document its attempts. Did the Allies send warnings to clear target areas before they bombed Germany? Has any other military anywhere at any time done so?

It is easy to understand why Palestinians, who have since before the founding of Israel wanted Jews out of Palestine, protest against Israeli policy. They wish harm to Israel. Those of you who claim to want peace and call for proportionality are their useful idiots.

17

J Thomas 07.28.14 at 7:57 pm

#5 Joshua Burton

“Nowhere does he say: you build tunnels and launch rockets that have a kill rate of about 0%, we kill a lot of your children.”

That formulation takes us all the way back to Aquinas, and the principle of double effect. (Unless, that is, you have a credible citation of IDF intent to kill children propter se?)

No, it goes back to Lemech.

http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8168/jewish/Chapter-4.htm

24. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then for Lemech it shall be seventy seven fold.”

This is pretty much literal, agreed?

18

TM 07.28.14 at 8:01 pm

Thanks for the quote 12. It should be remembered what happened in the 2006 war against Lebanon: Israel bombed civilian neighborhoods in Beirut in retaliation to a successful Hesbollah action against Israeli soldiers. There was no possible argument at the time that the targets in Beirut had any military justification, and there wasn’t even the usual refrain of “they are terrorists targeting civilians”. The “terrorists” were for once targeting soldiers, and *that* was what made the slaughter of some 1,000 Lebanese civilians “inevitable”. Recall that none of the “Israel has the right to defend itself” crowd saw anything wrong with that.

19

LFC 07.28.14 at 8:33 pm

In my opinion, Corey has missed the central problem with the New Republic’s piece, at least based on the quotes here. The central problem is that the piece, based on the quotes here (yes, I haven’t read the whole thing yet), reaches conclusions about what is one episode in an ongoing conflict without much or any reference to the parties’ actions across the history of the conflict.

So of course the piece misapplies just war theory, because JWT is not meant to be applied in this completely ahistorical way. Corey is right that the piece “inflates the ends” of the war to justify the means, but that’s not the fundamental problem with it. The fundamental problem w the reasoning is that it takes this to be a self-contained war rather than, as I said, one episode in a long-running conflict. You cannot say this is being fought “to make just wars possible” w/o considering whether it needed to be fought in the first place, which in turn requires consideration of the history that led up to it. (While I suppose all or most wars are to some extent episodes in long-running conflicts, there are degrees, and here the situation is such that this ‘war’ cannot be judged in isolation, the way the NR piece apparently does.)

Because Corey has missed the main problem with the piece, he is left with only one real point — the point about the inflation of ends — which is a good point, but does not exhaust the problems. Some of the rest of the OP consists of gratuitous and irrelevant sniping at “reason” and at “the philosopher of war,” who is not a “normal person” but, by implication, some kind of freak whose mind has been warped and whose moral instincts have been eradicated by the fancy philosophical texts she or he has read. This is rather surprising coming from someone whose professional life consists in substantial part of reading and writing about philosophical works (and the bow to Arendt at the end really doesn’t erase the prior sniping). Anyway, the problem w the NR piece is not just-war theory, but the way it is being abused and misapplied.

20

gianni 07.28.14 at 8:34 pm

“Once upon a time, crackpots thought they were fighting a war to end all wars. That was its justice. Now they’re fighting a war in order to make just war possible. That is its justice.”

Thought this was a great line. I’ve seen a bunch of this sort of logic elsewhere as well – its amazing how far some people will contort their logic to fit their desired conclusions. But it is also quite frightening. As the situation on the ground gets worse, we see supporters of political Zionism adopting more extreme ‘principles’ of this sort, to rationalize the existing situation. Their logic is already justifying terrorism (if you understand terrorism primarily defined by its indiscriminate nature, rather than non-state nature; NYU’s Thane Rosenbaum recently did another in this vein). Don’t want to raise the ‘g word’ here, but in the years to come, as the situation only deteriorates further, one had best hold on tight because we are going to be reading some shocking rhetoric.

21

Glen Tomkins 07.28.14 at 8:36 pm

I have two words for Mr. Schwartz. Lidice and Halabjah.

22

Dan R. 07.28.14 at 8:54 pm

Glen,

Why not Tokyo, Hanoi and Dresden ?

23

Glen Tomkins 07.28.14 at 9:04 pm

Ben,

Mein Kampf has as one of its leading points the idea that the German people have been world historical victims, unusual among the nations of the earth in putting up with so much injustice against them, so many attacks by the surrounding nations that so outnumbered them, yet always bending over backwards to be scrupulously fair and restrained in response. It’s not an argument that convinced many outside of Germany, and for many years not many inside of Germany. But eventually it did catch on in Germany, enough Germans gave way to its soothing flatteries to make the Third Reich possible.

This argument you rehearsed for us today, is it what people inside Israel are telling themselves these days? Is that how this atrocity came about, because this line of thinking is dominant in Israel now?

Of course Israel isn’t the Third Reich. But if your line of reasoning and self-justification is what has come to control how Israel sees itself, and how it acts, then Israel is at that point where Germany was when it gave in to becoming the Third Reich. People who urge you to step back from that threshold aren’t the enemies of Israel.

24

Anderson 07.28.14 at 9:09 pm

Israel’s position seems to be “we are going to kill hundreds of people who have nothing at all to do with firing rockets. Because we can.” No rationality about it. Killing isn’t a means to an end, it’s the end itself, because apparently there are too many Palestinians in the world to suit Israel, and the Israeli public likes seeing heavy “enemy” casualties.

Israel is also helping keep Hamas in power, because the Gazans are not going to say “never mind the Israelis who killed my family, it’s Hamas’s cynical policy that’s really to blame.” Just human nature. Israel refuses to be rational; it can scarcely blame Gazans for failing to game out the situation in an objective manner.

25

Glen Tomkins 07.28.14 at 9:14 pm

Dan R,

No objections, none at all, US guilty as charged of unnecessarily killing civilians.

And if anyone steps forward to tell us today that dropping bombs on Dresden and Tokyo was part of the just prosecution of a just war, you will hear from me just as loudly in denunciation of that, as you have heard today of Israel unnecessarily killing civilians, and for the same reason. We can’t bring back the dead of Dresden and Tokyo by acknowledging that it was wrong to bomb those cities, but that acknowledgment is vital to keep us from doing anything similar ever again. We can’t bring back the Gazans Israel has already killed, but we can try to convince them to stop killing more.

26

Lee A. Arnold 07.28.14 at 9:22 pm

Ben #16: “Proportionality is not a viable alternative simply because it is an acceptable, even desired, alternative for those like Hamas continuing to try to annihilate Israel. If Hamas were told that all violence will be met with proportional violence, the war of annihilation of the Jews will continue forever or until the Jews are annihilated. That is why Israel must do whatever it can to demilitarize Gaza… It is easy to understand why Palestinians, who have since before the founding of Israel wanted Jews out of Palestine, protest against Israeli policy. They wish harm to Israel.”

You assume that only some Palestinians want rid of Israel, then you switch gears and assert that all Palestinians want rid of Israel. Choose one or the other, because they lead to different policies.

If it is true that only some Palestinians want rid of Israel, and that others would be willing to live in peace, then “proportional violence” (an eye for an eye) could be part of a policy to drive a wedge between the peacemakers and the warmongers (indeed, on both sides).

27

LFC 07.28.14 at 9:51 pm

Anderson @24
I disagree with your suggestion that Israeli policy in this particular situation is “irrational” (though I think it is probably short-sighted). Rather, Israeli policy over the last several decades has helped produce a situation in which there are no “rational” alternatives in dealing w Hamas — except marginalizing them by reaching a 2-state solution, which Israel has refused to do. Thus it is *overall* Israeli policy that is “irrational.” (Ronan and others have emphasized that Hamas is not monolithic, which is no doubt true, but right now whatever splits in the org. exist are probably in abeyance since the whole org. is under attack.)

Your suggestion, Anderson @24, that Israeli policy is driven by the notion that “there are too many Palestinians in the world to suit Israel, therefore let’s kill them indiscriminately” (paraphrasing you, not quoting directly) seems incorrect. The better view is probably that the IDF is trying to discriminate in its targeting and failing b.c the situation is such that discrimination is difficult (though, e.g., how kids playing soccer on the beach were or could have been mistaken for legitimate targets remains to be explained). People such as myself who don’t know much of anything about the details of weapons and the “real-time” exigencies of fighting are not well placed to pass judgment on what has caused the failure of the attempts to discriminate. The “human shield” thing may well be part of the explanation but not, I am quite sure, the whole of it. But beyond that level of generality I don’t know.

28

LFC 07.28.14 at 10:06 pm

I have now read the Y. Schwartz NR piece in its entirety and I don’t feel a need to revise what I wrote @ 19.

29

Collin Street 07.28.14 at 10:09 pm

The better view is probably that the IDF is trying to discriminate in its targeting and failing b.c the situation is such that discrimination is difficult (though, e.g., how kids playing soccer on the beach were or could have been mistaken for legitimate targets remains to be explained).

Why is this a better view, given that “they want to kill arabs” can explain things like “bombing kids playing soccer” that your “better view” cannot?

30

J Thomas 07.28.14 at 10:22 pm

#16 vBen

The fact that Palestinians still live in these territories is proof of the strong moral asymmetry of the conflict, with Israel maintaining the moral high ground.

No. The fact that the Germans allowed Jews to live in the Warsaw Ghetto until 1942 did not mean that Germany maintained the moral high ground.

If Hamas were told that all violence will be met with proportional violence, the war of annihilation of the Jews will continue forever or until the Jews are annihilated.

I’m afraid you are probably right. The war will continue forever or until Zionist Israel is gone. Israel to survive must make sure that Egypt stays forever too poor to fight them effectively and must make sure that Syria remains too poor to fight them, and Iraq, and Iran. This is a giant moral burden that Israel must carry to survive.

That is why Israel must do whatever it can to demilitarize Gaza.

There was a time when Gaza was pretty much demilitarized. If Israel had created a peace agreement then, maybe it would have worked? But they didn’t consider it. They said that there was no such thing as Palestinians, there were only arab refugees who should be taken in by other arab societies. Now the opportunity is gone, if it ever existed. I’m pretty sure that “demilitarizing” Gaza will not bring it back.

It is easy to understand why Palestinians, who have since before the founding of Israel wanted Jews out of Palestine, protest against Israeli policy. They wish harm to Israel. Those of you who claim to want peace and call for proportionality are their useful idiots.

I can see how it would look that way to you.

The trouble is, your forever war stands to cost the USA more than it could possibly be worth to us. If we don’t intervene looking for peace, what possible excuse do we have to pay those forever costs?

It’s slowly becoming obvious to more and more Americans that we must cut all ties with Israel.

9/11 slowed that recognition a whole lot. It was the best thing that could have happened for Israel, but I don’t think you can depend on getting that response twice.

China will not replace the USA. They will support you a little while to get US military secrets, but as you start to run out of those, how are you useful to them?

It all looks bleak to me.

31

Anarcissie 07.28.14 at 10:26 pm

Barry 07.28.14 at 7:26 pm @ 15 — I wasn’t just speaking of TNR. TNR is one of many. The gatekeepers of mainstream discourse are still pretty much stuck in established mode, but the images and testimonies flowing out of Gaza give quite a different view which the mainstreamers have thus far failed to engage: to wit, genocidal attacks on a civilian population. The Nazis did not have a problem with genocide because it was part of their basic operating theory. But the governments of the United States and Israel and the rest of the West will have a problem with it, because it is not part of their theory, it is the opposite of their theory. If some at a state level adopt an institutional practice of genocide in parallel with a theory of non-genocide, the tension between those of the practice and those of the theory will lead to open and quite possibly violent conflict, not only between states, but within them.

32

J Thomas 07.28.14 at 10:35 pm

#27 KFC

Your suggestion, Anderson @24, that Israeli policy is driven by the notion that “there are too many Palestinians in the world to suit Israel, therefore let’s kill them indiscriminately” (paraphrasing you, not quoting directly) seems incorrect. The better view is probably that the IDF is trying to discriminate in its targeting and failing b.c the situation is such that discrimination is difficult (though, e.g., how kids playing soccer on the beach were or could have been mistaken for legitimate targets remains to be explained).

How about this — the current Israeli ruling coalition in the Knesset gets a support boost whenever they fight arabs, no matter which arabs they fight and no matter why. So when they need a boost from voters they find arabs to fight. It used to be they often fought arabs in Lebanon, but Hisbollah was too strong so now they usually attack Gaza.

There are no real military objectives. The dinky little missiles from Gaza do essentially no damage, there are too many of them to make a dent in them, and they are well hidden. Gaza does not contain any significant military objectives. If they sent infantry in to search for the sort of military stuff they could find, they would take casualties and the “war” is not worth that.

So they blow stuff up until they can get a cease fire and go home, claiming victory. The politicians get their support boost and things settle down until next time.

They need to kill a lot of arabs because that makes them look strong to Israeli voters. If they get a team of Hamas sewer workers, those are Hamas employees so they count, but if they also get some kids who were playing nearby those count as civilians. It’s hard to find Hamas employees who are after all a small fraction of the population. So they’re doing pretty well if a significant minority of the casualties are from the Hamas political wing, or Hamas civil defense trying to get the kids out of the streets, or Hamas food distribution etc.

Looking good to Israeli voters has the unfortunate side effect of looking bad to foreigners.

33

Brad DeLong 07.28.14 at 10:38 pm

I am in trouble. I just claimed at lunchtime that The New Republic published things that were worse when Martin Peretz owned it. “What?” I was asked. Now I am stuck.

Can anybody help?

34

Donald Johnson 07.28.14 at 10:39 pm

“The better view is probably that the IDF is trying to discriminate in its targeting and failing”

Try reading something about Israel’s record in peace and war before you so casually assume that they are trying to avoid civilian casualties. You could start with Human Rights Watch’s study of the war crimes of both sides in the 2006 Lebanon war–

link

The evidence is overwhelmingly clear that Tom Friedman’s quote that I cited above is accurate–Israel often seems to want to punish civilians and at times they’ve been careless enough to admit it.

Then as for the peacetime record, here’s a HRW report from last April, complaining about the killing of 4 and wounding of dozens of Gazan civilians in the first several months of 2014–

Israel stop shooting

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem is also a very good source of information about the violations of both sides.

35

Collin Street 07.28.14 at 10:42 pm

The government of israel doesn’t have a problem with genocide. Israel was founded on genocide, and the architects of the genocide found senior positions in the government of israel and were able &&c&c.

… Recent media statements suggest fairly strongly that israel’s position is that any ceasefire proposal must guarantee that israel’s ability to continue military action for the duration of said ceasefire. That’s the sort of difference of perspective that will make a negotiated peace difficult.

36

Plume 07.28.14 at 11:00 pm

Israel is a nuclear power. It dwarfs the Palestinians in military power, economic power, organization, logistics, supply lines, support and it occupies Palestinian lands and embargoes them.

It is a school of sharks to the Palestinian minnow.

This kind of rationalizing victimhood and underdog status reminds me of those who pushed for war against Iraq. Something in the conservative mind is able to join several impossibilities together at once . . . . that America was under threat from a paper tiger we had already crushed — one that was no threat to us even at the height of its power twelve years previous to the invasion; that America was simultaneously able to crush Iraq in weeks, at no cost to taxpayers, in a cake walk, and with 20% of the recommended numbers of soldiers . . . . and that we were the underdogs in the situation. We were supposedly the lone super power in the world, easily able to destroy Hussein, but needed to destroy him because he was this world-historical villain and threat to us.

So Palestine is simultaneously an existential threat and fodder for Israel, which has now killed roughly 20 civilians for every Israeli soldier killed by Hamas.

Sharks and minnows. Just war indeed.

37

Micheal Lunny 07.28.14 at 11:00 pm

LFC@27

I believe Israel’s civilian to combatants kill ratio is somewhere north of four to one and that the Gaza resistance manages less than one to five. Since Israel is a modern military with precision weapons and the various Gaza militias are badly equipped I feel comfortable in saying that the infliction of civilian casualties is not just a part, but the main part of Israel’s plan of battle (the search for “terror tunnels” and the idea of destroying them is an absurd distraction).

This is all rather sad for Crooked Timber. Were any other country than Israel prosecuting a war in the manner that Israel currently is in Gaza I do not think that there would be one tenth the amount of equivocation about the attacks being state terrorism. The attempts to justify, excuse or mitigate the awfulness of these attacks are, as the OP states, moral casuistry of the highest order. I believe (I hope) that many will live to regret them.

Sadly barring a huge, well reported and undeniably intentional massacre (more than 80 civilians) I do not see Israel stopping the attack on Gaza until more than 1500 people are dead or order collapses in Gaza. Operation Cast Lead killed at least 1450 and Netanyahu will feel the need to top this in one way or another.

38

Corey Robin 07.28.14 at 11:58 pm

LFC at 27: I gather that, for you, some terrible Rubicon has been crossed with this TNR piece because it “reaches conclusions about what is one episode in an ongoing conflict without much or any reference to the parties’ actions across the history of the conflict.”

Whereas for the rest of us who’ve been actually following the apologetics for Israel’s wars, both in Israel and the US, for some time, now the problem you cite is nothing new; it’s the way these arguments are almost always framed. It’s the price of business for anyone entering that market. So that’s why I didn’t dwell on it.

What is new in this piece is the line of reasoning that I did focus on. And that’s why, to my mind, it was worthy of remark.

In the same way that you wish Israel’s defenders would pay more attention to the history of the conflict, beyond the immediate flare-up, so must critics of Israel’s defenders like yourself pay more attention to the history of their defenses, beyond the immediate apologia for the immediate flare-up. While it’s true that my “professional life consists in substantial part of reading and writing about philosophical works,” I also try to make it my business to pay attention to the movements in those works across time, to see what is different in the argument in order to see what may be different in the reality that gives rise to it. Once you’ve spent some more time with these arguments, you might find yourself doing the same thing.

39

Layman 07.28.14 at 11:59 pm

‘People such as myself who don’t know much of anything about the details of weapons and the “real-time” exigencies of fighting are not well placed to pass judgment on what has caused the failure of the attempts to discriminate.’

If only the military (those who know about those details & exigencies) can judge when war crimes have occurred, there will be war crimes, and they will go unpunished. It is the duty of society to pass judgment. I grant that can be hard, but not in this case. Telling your tank crews to ‘fire at anything that moves’ in heavily populated urban area, as has been reported in this case, is not compatible with any attempt to discriminate. If I recall my own training, such orders are war crimes, as is carrying them out.

40

Ronan(rf) 07.29.14 at 12:07 am

The two top posts here

http://stanfordpress.typepad.com/blog/

are worth reading(and short)

41

ben fenster 07.29.14 at 12:20 am

Glen #23,
Your analogy to Nazi Germany is, frankly, too absurd to reflect any sane thought except your own bigotry. There is certainly no parallel between Nazi Germany’s genocide and attempts at world conquest and Israel’s attempts to defeat a bordering enemy who is sworn to its destruction and has repeatedly attacked and is continuing to attack its citizens.

And please spare me your talk about atrocities. War is an atrocity. And Israel is at war with an enemy sworn to its destruction in a war that it did not start. You appear to hold Israel to a standard of warfare that has not even attempted to be met at any time in history by any party. And that, Glen Tomkins, is pure unadulterated racism.

42

LFC 07.29.14 at 12:26 am

Corey:
In the same way that you wish Israel’s defenders would pay more attention to the history of the conflict, beyond the immediate flare-up, so must critics of Israel’s defenders like yourself pay more attention to the history of their defenses, beyond the immediate apologia for the immediate flare-up.

My quick reaction is to say: ok; fair enough. (I may have a further comment on this later on more reflection; then again, I may not.)

43

ben fenster 07.29.14 at 12:32 am

Lee #26 : As a tactical point there is merit in what you say if there is sufficient support for peace. Proportionality could conceivably be an optimal strategy on the part of Israel. But the parameters just don’t seem to point in that direction. Proportionality and even charity has been tried often in the past with little success.

44

Donald Johnson 07.29.14 at 12:35 am

Here, for anyone interested, is the July 22 report of Human Rights Watch on Israel’s “unlawful attacks” in Gaza. They analyze several specific cases.

link

45

LFC 07.29.14 at 12:38 am

Collin Street @29 and others
I am not trying to justify, mitigate etc Israel’s killing of civilians. It eventually gets to the point where the question of intent isn’t that important any more. I do think Israel’s intent is not to kill civilians indiscriminately; but at some point, as I say, intent as an issue fades into the background. (And that is really all I am planning to say on this for now.)

46

bt 07.29.14 at 12:50 am

@ Ben 16:

You fully encapsulate the mindless pro-Israel view. With references to the Moral High Ground. And with no reference to any history that existed prior to 1948. And with no recollection of the many natives who were pushed off their land so that Israelis could live on it. And how the Israelis keep pushing the natives off their land so Israelis can live on it. No mention of how the Natives are often told to just move to Jordan and shut up or something. And how Israel is gifting the Gazans by letting them sit in that Ghetto, rather than what? Pushing them into the sea?

If I was a Palestinian, I’d be pretty pissed off at the Israelis too. I suggest you would be also if the tables were turned and you were a Palestinian. You might even fight to try to get your land back. You might even resort to terrorism, which is a tool only used by the weak against the strong.

But there is something special about your post that catches my eye, and I see it in most triumphalist Israel supporters. It’s the narrative that they keep attacking, and you keep winning and getting stronger. I don’t see it that way. It reminds me of Viet Nam. The way America was always winning the body count and winning every battle and had so much more money and technology, but was loosing the war. And then one day, the Viet Nam war was over and the Vietnamese prevailed. Do you see any parallels?

47

derrida derider 07.29.14 at 12:50 am

Gee, Ben@16. I always resisted people who criticised Likudniks by describing them as fascists preaching race hate out of paranoia. I though that grossly exaggerated and very unhelpful.

But now, after your post, I can see that they are actually right. In your hands the star of David has become a swastika – you really need to take a good long look at yourself.

48

ben fenster 07.29.14 at 12:56 am

JThomas 30: Your reference to the Warsaw Ghetto in the context of Gaza is, frankly, deeply disturbing and a sign of racist historical revisionism. Please discard the Nazi analogies. It signals that you’re an anti-semite. I personally knew people who tunneled out of the Warsaw Ghetto. They certainly weren’t attempting to infiltrate another country to kill their civilians. As someone who has seen Palestinians infiltrate Israel to shoot students at point blank, I can’ t say the same for Hamas.

And Corey#38, this is your blog, so do with it what you will. But it takes a certain type of arrogance to claim that you “wish Israel’s defenders would pay more attention to the history of the conflict.” Many of us are far better aware of the facts than you seem to be. You’re entitled to your opinions, but don’t think that we’re less informed than you are.

49

Ronan(rf) 07.29.14 at 1:15 am

50

ben fenster 07.29.14 at 1:21 am

bt 46: I am well aware of the history before 1948. And much of your narrative is myth and not fact. And there is no parallel between Israel and Viet Nam. The US intervened to avoid democratic elections in Viet Nam because they were afraid of Ho Chi Minh and communism. That fear later led to US involvement in the war. Israel was granted independence by the UN and was then invaded. They have been a target ever since. There has been no attempt to push Palestinians into the sea and there isn’t now. The same cannot be said of the intentions of the other side in this conflict.

Derrida #47: I’m no Likudnik and your comparison of the Star of David and the Swastika means you really need to take a long look at your own racism. However, you are right about one thing. The Likud does have fascist roots. Jabotinsky, the revisionist forebearer of the Likud was, in Mussolini’s own words “a jewish fascist.” (Unfortunately, there appear to be many political movements today, including those on the other side of the Middle East conflict, that have had strong fascist sympathies.)

51

LFC 07.29.14 at 1:28 am

P.s. to Corey @38:
Even if ignoring or omitting the history of the conflict is par for the course most of the time for Israel’s defenders, my feeling is that in this case (in Schwartz’s piece), the omission was especially egregious. The omission is important, probably crucial, in facilitating and enabling Schwartz’s argument — i.e., “this war is necessary to establish that terrorists can’t use civilians to make future just wars against terrorists impossible” — that you find new and noteworthy. So that’s why I think the omission should have been mentioned. (That said, I don’t disagree that one [or in this case, that I] should pay closer attention to the history of the defenders’ arguments.)

52

Corey Robin 07.29.14 at 1:37 am

Ben Fenster at 48: “And Corey#38, this is your blog, so do with it what you will. But it takes a certain type of arrogance to claim that you ‘wish Israel’s defenders would pay more attention to the history of the conflict.’ Many of us are far better aware of the facts than you seem to be. You’re entitled to your opinions, but don’t think that we’re less informed than you are.”

It takes an even greater arrogance (or lack of reading skills) to claim that I said something I didn’t say, when what I said is right there in plain sight for everyone to see. Here’s what I actually said:

“In the same way that you wish Israel’s defenders would pay more attention to the history of the conflict, beyond the immediate flare-up, so must critics of Israel’s defenders like yourself pay more attention to the history of their defenses, beyond the immediate apologia for the immediate flare-up.”

I very clearly never said that I wished Israel’s defenders would pay more attention to the history of the conflict. I said that my interlocutor, the estimable LFC above, was saying that.

53

LFC 07.29.14 at 1:38 am

Ben Fenster @48:
You are somewhat misreading Corey Robin’s remarks @38. Corey didn’t say *he* wished Israel’s defenders would pay more attention to the history of the conflict; he was characterizing my view as wishing that Israel’s defenders would, etc. Corey’s own view seems to be that: (1) Israel’s defenders usually don’t pay much attention to the history of the conflict; and (2) while it might be nice if they did, they probably won’t, and there’s little point in urging or exhorting them to do so. But Corey never said @38: “I wish Israel’s defenders would pay more attention to the history of the conflict.”

54

LFC 07.29.14 at 1:40 am

Sorry, I posted 53 before seeing/reading Corey’s 52.

55

Lee A. Arnold 07.29.14 at 1:45 am

Ben Fenster #43: “But the parameters just don’t seem to point in that direction. Proportionality and even charity has been tried often in the past with little success.”

WELL that would take an historical essay as to exactly Who, on Which Side, torpedoed What, at any When in the long, long narrative. There has been enough murder and retaliation to go around.

The question, again, is how do you design new military policy that tightly links action to reaction, and is proportionate so that there are none of these old mistakes (or less of them), and people of good will on both sides can start to devise paths to separate themselves from the killers.

The current trajectory leads to a dying of the soul. There will be NO justifying the killing of children. There is no life ahead.

56

Layman 07.29.14 at 1:45 am

Ben Fenster, is it possible to criticize Israel and not be a racist?

57

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 07.29.14 at 1:47 am

Brad DeLong @ 33

I can’t name one, I’m not a regular reader. Worth remembering:

My Marty problem — and ours — is just this: By pretending to speak as a liberal but simultaneously endorsing the central crusades of the right, he has enlisted The New Republic in the service of a ruinous neoconservative doctrine, as the magazine sneered at those liberals who stood firm in the face of its insults. He has done so, moreover, in support of a blinkered and narrow view of Israeli security that, again, celebrates hawks and demonizes doves. Had the United States or even Israel followed the policies advocated by those genuine liberals whom TNR routinely slandered, much of the horror of the past four years would have been happily avoided — as most of its editors (but not Peretz) now admit. At the same time, the hard work of coming up with a genuinely liberal alternative to the neoconservative foreign-policy nightmare, an alternative to which TNR might have usefully contributed, remains not merely undone but undermined in the pages of the magazine.
———-
~

58

Collin Street 07.29.14 at 1:58 am

> Ben Fenster, is it possible to criticize Israel and not be a racist?

Seriously, do you think that going down this path is going to help anyone? Ben’s clearly disturbed: he won’t be able to answer the question to anyone’s reasonable satisfaction, and his attempts to do so will just expose the vulnerable parts of his psyche.

It’s not nice. Let the crazy man be.

59

roy belmont 07.29.14 at 2:27 am

Collin Street:

God knows, if anyone should want commenters to “let the crazy man be” that person would be me. But this madness of Mr Fenster’s – it is you know not confined to his little quarter of the social geography.
This is the driving mentation behind current US media “journalism”, whihc is the source of majority American opinion about things, still.
Little Wolf Blitzer is an animated illustration of Fenster’s mind-set. Fenster himself is, I believe, one voice in the chorus of a far greater spirit, one that doesn’t speak human very fluently. That spirit has America under its thumb.
I don’t for a minute believe the sadistic rampage I’m witnessing in Gaza is primarily the work of men like Fenster himself- they enable it to be sure, but they aren’t causing it themselves.
So in that I salute your compassionate, pragmatic advice, to leave him be.
But I’ve got people in Gaza on my twitter TL who say goodbye whenever they go offline, just in case. And some of them don’t come back.
It’s getting worse there, right now, much worse.
While deranged fools like Fenster yap about their precious victimhood.
So I’m conflicted, let’s say.
On the one hand let him yap, on the other – he’s got blood dripping from the corners of his mouth.

60

J Thomas 07.29.14 at 2:44 am

#48 Ben Fenster

JThomas 30: Your reference to the Warsaw Ghetto in the context of Gaza is, frankly, deeply disturbing and a sign of racist historical revisionism. Please discard the Nazi analogies. It signals that you’re an anti-semite. I personally knew people who tunneled out of the Warsaw Ghetto. They certainly weren’t attempting to infiltrate another country to kill their civilians. As someone who has seen Palestinians infiltrate Israel to shoot students at point blank, I can’ t say the same for Hamas.

Ben, there’s a fundamental asymmetry between us. I an an American, and I am interested in world peace, in finding reasonable solutions to problems, and that sort of thing. You are an Israeli, your nation has been at war for its entire history and you feel you are in danger. Our situations are just too different.

It is only natural that you will tell any lie, twist any truth, do whatever it takes to aid your survival and that of your family and your nation. If I was in your place I would do the same. But it leaves you and me without enough common ground for rational discussion.

That aside, of course you want me to discard the Nazi analogies because they make you look bad. Regardless, I think when we compare Israel to the Third Reich quantitatively, Israel comes out looking better than the Nazis. While the Gaza ghetto is much larger than the Warsaw Ghetto ever was, and has lasted much much longer, still there has not been any serious attempt to kill them all yet. So for example Cast Lead killed only 0.1% of the people in Gaza, about one in a thousand. And so far the current effort has killed only about one in a thousand. These little attacks are not enough to overcome the birthrate the year they happen, they are not genocidal at all. So far.

And yet, if somebody killed 0.1% of the USA, about 320,000 Americans, and then six years later they came back and did it again, I think it would take a long time before we were ready to forgive and forget. I can certainly understand the people of Gaza utterly despising you guys, and they’ll probably be looking for ways to kill you back for at least another generation barring some important reason to feel good about making peace.

I wish I could see some good way for Israelis to get out of the bind you’re in, but I just don’t see it. Come to America? No, you aren’t willing to do that. There’s no way out short of changing your point of view, and you refuse.

It’s very sad.

61

The Tragically Flip 07.29.14 at 3:27 am

Rockets that are empirically less deadly than traffic accident fatalities, choking on underchewed food, dropping hair dryers in the bath and backyard pool drownings aren’t just cause for war, they’re an irritation. The British lived with far worse from the IRA for decades without aerial bombing the Irish. None of this demands this kind of response.

62

The Tragically Flip 07.29.14 at 3:29 am

I forget, what was Israel’s nonsense rationalization for treating the Palestinans like subhumans before the rocket attacks started?

63

Tabasco 07.29.14 at 3:29 am

I’m disappointed that after 60 posts, no one has yet been accused of being a self-hating Jew.

Come on, Ben, get with the program.

64

bt 07.29.14 at 3:43 am

@ Ben Fenster 50

Please let us know about Palestine pre-1948. If you are aware of it, help us to understand. You can leave out the bits about Menachem Begin’s (Terrorist (!!!)) bombing campaigns against the British.

I think I hit a soft spot there with the analogy to Viet Nam. Yes, the Vietnamese dug themselves a lot of tunnels.

65

ben fenster 07.29.14 at 3:51 am

Corey 52: I stand corrected on the quote. Careless reading on my part. My apologies.

66

ben fenster 07.29.14 at 4:10 am

Layman 56 and Collin Street 58: Of course it is possible to criticize Israel without being racist. But let’s face it, to compare Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto and Israel to Nazi Germany shows a type of distorted worldview that is very consistent with racism. How many Warsaw Ghetto kids ran at German soldiers in order to throw rocks at them. How many towns and schools did they rocket from the confines of the Warsaw Ghetto. How many times did they sneak across the border of the Ghetto in order to shoot up local schools. If you are of the ludicrous opinion that Israel has been intent on implementing a Final Solution why are there so many reporters on the scene and why has it taken so damn long? Why can’t the Israelis drub up a decent protest in which they call for gassing the Palestinians the way the Palestinians have called for the gassing of Jews in protests in Europe?

67

ben fenster 07.29.14 at 4:32 am

Collin 58 and Roy 59: “Disturbed,” “Deranged fools”, “Doesn’t speak human very fluently.” Come on guys, just because I am well informed and don’t drink the party Kool Aid the way you guys do doesn’t mean I’m deranged. I know it’s very stylish in our quarters to bash Israel these days.

And Tragically Flip, if you don’t know what came before the rockets, then you don’t really know enough about the situation to start talking about people being treated as subhuman. And I suppose your analogy with Northern Ireland is apt. At least Israel left Gaza. They could re-occupy Gaza, as the British occupied Northern Ireland (and maybe that’s what will happen now) Tell me, how would the Brits act now if the IRA were kidnapping civilians and rocketing England?

68

roy belmont 07.29.14 at 4:44 am

It’s like seeing a word-collage of Bill Maher’s face. Smiling. For the cameras.

69

Tabasco 07.29.14 at 4:45 am

“how would the Brits act now if the IRA were kidnapping civilians and rocketing England?”

It’s unlikely they would level Dublin and kill 2500 people (the same proportion as killed in Gaza), but who knows?

A more interesting question is whether we would see, in say the Spectator, the same justification for killing civilians that was published in the NR. Highly unlikely, I would think.

70

Plume 07.29.14 at 4:46 am

Ben,

The “party koolaid” in American media and our two mainstream political parties is decidedly, blindly, reflexively pro-Israel. Neither party has the guts to go against AIPAC here, and you will pretty much never see a candidate running for the presidency who even slightly, even timidly, offers up criticism of Israeli policies.

It’s just not done.

71

Donald Johnson 07.29.14 at 4:56 am

I’ve always thought the Warsaw Ghetto comparisons were wrong–numbers matter. And it’s also wrong because it then gives the defenders of much smaller scale mass murder the opportunity to pose as victims yet again and then we talk about why the comparison is right or wrong and attention is drawn away from Gaza. An overheated comparison just hurts feelings. Israel’s weapons, supplied courtesy of the US, hurt people.

72

ben fenster 07.29.14 at 5:00 am

JThomas 60: Well, where to start. There’s no fundamental asymmetry between us. I am also an American, and I am interested in world peace and in finding reasonable solutions to problems. I am not an Israeli. I am not lying as you claim. I have no family stake in the matter.

And I certainly don’t want you to discard the Nazi analogies because they make me look bad. I want you to discard the Nazi analogies because they make you look bad. They make you look like a racist sleaze.

When you start talking about the percentages of people in a country killed as you do in your post 60 and how that hardens people, it shows that you really don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. People in Gaza despised Israel long before Cast Lead. The Fedayeen were attacking Israeli civilians from Gaza back in the 50s.

Israelis aren’t going anywhere. Maybe what you fail to understand is that the periodic rocketing and uprisings are a long term strategy with the goal of making the State of Israel inviable. It will not and cannot work. Israelis are not like the US in Vietnam. They are there until peace or the bitter end. It is best for all parties involved to understand that as soon as possible.

73

roy belmont 07.29.14 at 5:23 am

“It’s just not done.”
And it’s just not done to publicly examine why it’s just not done.
And it is just barely acceptable, now, but still risky as hell, to point out that it’s not done to publicly examine why it’s not done.

Like it’s some form of antique manners failure, or breached politesse.

74

godoggo 07.29.14 at 5:54 am

See my 2 comments here.
http://louisproyect.org/2014/07/25/the-anti-semitism-canard

That’s all folks.

75

J Thomas 07.29.14 at 5:57 am

#72 Ben Fenster

There’s no fundamental asymmetry between us. I am also an American, and I am interested in world peace and in finding reasonable solutions to problems. I am not an Israeli. I am not lying as you claim. I have no family stake in the matter.

I’m sorry. I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt.

If you are not Israeli, and you do not have family in Israel — then what’s your excuse?

76

ben fenster 07.29.14 at 6:13 am

Tabasco #69: How about the British army’s death squad killings in Northern Ireland?

Plume 70 and Roy 73: You know, if you are American citizens there’s nothing that prevents you from running for office in the US. Feel free to pick whatever platform you choose regarding the Middle East. There is plenty of money in the US working against Israel and I’m sure if you are sufficiently outspoken and make your case more money will follow. After all, its not as if there is lots of competition for anti-Israel funds and there are plenty of wealthy friends of Palestine. If you don’t want to try to make the case to evangelical Christians, you can run in a blue state.

77

ben fenster 07.29.14 at 6:31 am

JThomas 75: “If you are not Israeli, and you do not have family in Israel — then what’s your excuse?”

You don’t have to be Israeli to believe that a state has the right to defend itself, even if it is a Jewish state.

78

Ck 07.29.14 at 10:30 am

Has to be said , there is absolutely no comparison between the actions of the British in Northern Ireland and Israel in Palestine. I was actually at an anti-war rally the other day and one of the speakers was a Northern Sinn Feinner (irony!)who had recently been in Palestine, he actually remarked that bad and all as he thought the Brits were the actions of Israel were on another planet .

If we’re drawing comparison with Northern Ireland the obvious one seems to be between Israel and the Unionists , with the IDF as the UVF.

79

Donald Johnson 07.29.14 at 11:41 am

“The Fedayeen were attacking Israeli civilians from Gaza back in the 50s.”

The Palestinians were driven from their homes in 1948 by the Zionist militias, including Haganah, a process that required some massacres that were inflicted by all the militias. Then during the period during the late 40’s through the early 50’s, Palestinians tried to sneak back home. According to Benny Morris, a small fraction were armed and bent on revenge, but most were not. The Israeli government was panicked–if the refugees returned then it would undo all the good work towards the right demographic balance that had been accomplished by the expulsions. So thousands of Palestinians attempting to cross the border were shot.

Ben talks the way Israel apologists used to, and sometimes still do–as though they are scoring a point by saying that Israel was hated by Palestinians before 67. But the settlement program and the occupation are a natural extension of what had gone on before. It’s the liberal Zionists who are willing to live on what was stolen in 48 and not keep expanding who are breaking with the tradition in that respect.

80

Peter T 07.29.14 at 11:41 am

Ben

There is lots of cross-border violence in the world. Iran loses some hundreds dead each year on the Afghan border. Cambodia suffered regular incursions from Thai-based guerillas (and Laos still does from time to time), shells from Myanmar land in Thailand and so on – and that’s just in SE Asia. I could cite similar issues in Africa or Central Asia.

Israel’s “right to defend itself” first encompassed the dispossession of Palestinians from much of Israel – a process of ethnic cleansing that went on well into the 50s, then expansion into Sinai and the West Bank, then south Lebanon. Israeli gains have been reversed through force, in Sinai and Lebanon (and, arguably, Gaza). This is not a dynamic that bodes well for Israel in the long run. The attitude that Israel is entitled to digest its conquests in peace is not one the conquered can be expected to share.

81

Ronan(rf) 07.29.14 at 11:51 am

As Ck said, the British in Northern Ireland were not comparable to the Israelis (although equally Hamas have been more violent than the PIRA ) The point is though that the British *were* willing to live with a certain amount of violence. Most states with insurgent/terrorist threats make decisions about how much violence they can live with, and how much they will use in response. The British specifically did that in NI.
The Israeli line that *no one would put up with someone shooting rockets across their border* is meaningless if not fleshed out. They might not put up with it in the long term, but there is more than one way to respond.

82

Ronan(rf) 07.29.14 at 11:57 am

..and you have to be serious about what ‘rocket fire’ meant most of the time(especially since the 2012 ceasefire) which was relatively shitty little homemade tin bombs landing in the desert. They were much less leathal than IRA bombs exploding in crowded urban areas.

83

Barry 07.29.14 at 12:28 pm

“How many Warsaw Ghetto kids ran at German soldiers in order to throw rocks at them. “

You mean the Israeli soldier who were occupying their homland, helping settler steal their land, and shooting them whenever they felt like it?

84

Colonel Blimp 07.29.14 at 1:10 pm

If the IRA had shot missiles at Bristol and Liverpool from Dublin, Margaret Thatcher would have leveled the place.

85

novakant 07.29.14 at 1:25 pm

These Nazi comparions are disgusting.

86

Ronan(rf) 07.29.14 at 1:30 pm

Of course she wouldn’t. The Irish govt, who viewed the IRA as an equal if not greater threat than the British viewed them, would have mostly dealt with it. If they’d sent rockets from Belfast she wouldn’t have ‘flattened’ the place either, but the British security services were more deeply embedded in NI than the Israelis are in Gaza and so had more options. The main difference is that the British genuinely just wanted a resolution to the conflict, and were willing to compromise to get it, whereas it’s difficult to see that this is true of the Israelis. Or at least their policy making institutions are so dysfunctional that they can’t develop a meaningful l/t strategy.

87

Darius Jedburg 07.29.14 at 1:41 pm

Colonel, are you American, by any chance? Like most of the remarks here about the IRA, that is completely asinine. The IRA firing missiles from Dublin would be about as likely as Hamas firing missiles from Cairo today. The British made no effort to ‘level’ Catholic Derry, a locus of major terrorist activity against them, including bombs that didn’t merely ‘target’ innocent civilians but actually blew up quite a few of them — sometimes on the British mainland, eg, notoriously, Birmingham. The worst rampage by the occupying British was Bloody Sunday in 1972 in Derry, in which 14 civilians were killed. That has been regarded as an outrage on virtually all sides ever since; but Bloody Sunday would be a very quiet day in Gaza at the moment. The idea of Thatcher ‘levelling’ a foreign European capital is a truly bizarre fantasy.

88

Colonel Blimp 07.29.14 at 1:46 pm

There are no missiles shot from the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority has it own security apparatus, I believe, and the Shin Bet is still active.

Israel withdrew from from Gaza in 2005, and Hamas kicked out the PLO from Gaza in 2007, if I’m not mistaken.

The question is, at this point – would a comprehensive settlement between Israel and the PA be able to include Gaza – and who would enforce it. I doubt the PA would be strong enough to take on Hamas.

89

Ronan(rf) 07.29.14 at 1:56 pm

The opportunity to work with Hamas existed in 2005 (and after) when they showed themselves willing to moderate their past rejectionism, and willing to take part in elections. The fighting in Gaza in 2007 was encouraged by the US and Israel, whereas a more sensible policy would have been to push for Palestinian reconcilliation, incorporation of Hamas into the Palestinian governing institutions and security forces, and a crackdown on other rejectionist parties. (easier said than done, but plausible)
The point about PA security services in the West Bank is that *they are seen* as doing the bidding of the Israelis,(and they do) and the Israelis still maintain a presence and take part in large operations(such as the seach for the killers of the three kids, which should have been left to West Bank security sevices rather than used as an opporunity to weaken Hamas) The Israelis have always undermined West Bank security services, even when they were a help in maintaining order(during the 90s when they were pushed to take on Hamas, which weakened moderates politically, or during the second intifada when they were all but destroyed)

90

TM 07.29.14 at 2:41 pm

“How many Warsaw Ghetto kids ran at German soldiers in order to throw rocks at them.“

I really, really wonder what Ben is trying to say with that: that Warsaw Ghetto kids throwing rocks at German soldiers would have been legitimate military targets? That Palestinians throwing rocks and getting shot in response (which is precisely what happened before they acquired rockets) should expect no sympathy because this is not what a Warsaw Ghetto kid would have done? I’m really at a loss. I agree that the Warsaw Ghetto comparison is unjustified and unhelpful but then these attempts at explaining the difference can also be revealing.

91

mud man 07.29.14 at 2:44 pm

Big oaks grow from little acorns. I am distressed and angry about the destruction of European Jewry, an inexcusable crime. The Jordan in Amsterdam is today a homey neighborhood and a very very sad place. Yet what to do? Today Germany is a cornerstone of the world order, not that I think that’s always a constructive thing but the violence has moved on. That’s the distressing thing. You can trace a line from the Jordan backwards through Versailles and further, as far as you care to go, and forward to the middle east, not just Israel/Palestine but the whole fucked up mess. How will it ever be cut off?

As an Evangelical personally, I and people like me believe that God chose the descendants of Abraham (and Ismael was a son of Abraham, although rejected) to bring something new into the world, to be a blessing to the Nations that they would praise God’s name l’olam va’ed, “forever and ever”. In English we say forward to the future, but I read that the old Hebrew way is that the future is behind, the past is ahead, which is psychologically more apt: we see the past clearly enough, things pop out of the future “as if” unpredictably. Running backwards at high speed, how can we help slamming into trees and each other. The thing needed is to TURN THE FUCK AROUND and look where you’re going.

Theoretically the Israelis are the civilized people: they have the education, the organization, the wealth and every technological advantage. The Gazans don’t even have concrete. Not surprising they have the greatest difficulty acting like a civilized Nation. God permitted the Temple to be destroyed twice because the rulers forgot what they were supposed to be doing. It could happen again, at great loss to us all. I say again, look where you’re going. Repent, “turn around”. Learn to be a blessing to all nations.

… “the philosopher of war,” who is not a “normal person” but, by implication, some kind of freak whose mind has been warped and whose moral instincts have been eradicated.

Well, there you are.

92

LFC 07.29.14 at 2:49 pm

@Ronan
The fighting in Gaza in 2007 was encouraged by the US and Israel, whereas a more sensible policy would have been to push for Palestinian reconciliation, incorporation of Hamas into the Palestinian governing institutions and security forces, and a crackdown on other rejectionist parties. (easier said than done, but plausible)

well, the Israelis prob cdn’t have been expected to do this, but ideally the US shd have tried to encourage reconciliation betw PA and Hamas conditioned on the latter’s moderation of certain stances, then insisted that Israel strike a deal w the resulting unified Palestinian side on pain of facing a cutoff of US aid. Might not have worked but shd have been tried. However, there’s the small problem that no US admin, and certainly not the GWBush admin that was there in ’07, would do anything of the kind.

btw Ignatius has a WaPo column today purporting to describe Kerry’s ‘error’ in trying to push for a cease-fire. (My free WaPo articles have run out so I haven’t read it. But it’s Ignatius so prob one can predict the content.)

93

bianca steele 07.29.14 at 3:06 pm

Re. Ireland, possibly British policy circa 1600 or so is more apt. So all we have to do is wait 350 years or so.

94

bianca steele 07.29.14 at 3:10 pm

And it seems rather likely that the Israeli government feels it would be perfectly happy to grant (sic) Palestine self-government, once it starts acting like the more “responsible” parties among the Irish republicans–and expects this to take, like Ireland, arguably, on the order of centuries, not decades. (I think if LFC remembered what Likud were saying around 2001, as he mentioned on a previous thread, some things would be cleared up.)

95

John Garrett 07.29.14 at 3:13 pm

So after all this blah blah, what is to be done? And who will do it?

JG

96

Colonel Blimp 07.29.14 at 3:18 pm

I personally doubt anything good will happen in the near future.

The Middle East: Lybia, Egypt, Syria,Iraq, Isr/Pal- it has all regressed badly since the 1990s, and Gaza is not going to be an outlier in the other direction.

97

Darius Jedburg 07.29.14 at 3:23 pm

Ronan @86: You beat me to it.

I would like to correct my reference in #87 above to ‘the occupying British’. While the British army was in many ways an occupying force in Catholic Derry and the Falls Road in Belfast (in the sense that most residents did not consent to their presence and many did not recognise the legitimacy, with respect to themselves, of the government whose policies they were enforcing), it could not in general be thought of as an occupying force inasmuch as the majority of the population of Northern Ireland regarded themselves as British.

98

LFC 07.29.14 at 5:35 pm

bianca steele:
I think if LFC remembered what Likud were saying around 2001, as he mentioned on a previous thread, some things would be cleared up.

Too many threads, I guess. Anyway, I find this cryptic; if you want to elaborate, pls do.

99

Jim Buck 07.29.14 at 5:44 pm

If the IRA had shot missiles at Bristol and Liverpool from Dublin, Margaret Thatcher would have leveled the place.

“Pigs” is how Princess Margaret referred to those who blew her uncle Louis Mountbatten to bits. Boston (Mass) went into a frenzy. Imagine the reaction to Colonel Blimp’s far-fetched scenario.

100

Jim Buck 07.29.14 at 5:46 pm

These Nazi comparions are disgusting.

No! It’s the slaughter of innocents that disgusts me.

101

Donald Johnson 07.29.14 at 5:48 pm

“These Nazi comparions are disgusting.”

They are wildly exaggerated. But Israel’s war crimes and the blockade on Gaza are vastly more disgusting than some over-the-top Godwin’s Law examples popping up in an utterly predictable way at a blog. The chief problem with Nazi comparisons (something that people do all the time with every frigging violation of human rights and the world doesn’t collapse) is that they are distracting. People start arguing about how offensive they are or how inoffensive they are. There’s a virtual theology built up around this sort of thing–what, if anything, can be compared to what the Nazis did?

Meanwhile, the US Congress, showing its usual level of moral fiber, is lining up behind Israel, the most moral army ever to kill children.

102

engels 07.29.14 at 5:57 pm

There’s a virtual theology built up around this sort of thing–what, if anything, can be compared to what the Nazis did?

Theological is a good term. It’s as if there is supposed to be something supernatural about Nazism, discontinuous with the rest of human history, treating it otherwise is like denying the existence of Satan.

103

J Thomas 07.29.14 at 6:07 pm

#85 Novakant

These Nazi comparions are disgusting.

Agreed. The fundamental qualitative similarity goes as follows: Both believe they have a special destiny, and that most of the world is against them. That treaties are worth no more than the paper they are written on, that nothing requires their enemies to abide by treaties except sheer Nazi/Israeli force. That they themselves are justified in breaking their word whenever there are short-run gains by doing so. That in a world where they are hated, only their own strength stands between them and extermination, and so they must depend on personal superiority and high technology to overcome a massive imbalance in numbers. And since there cannot be a meaningful peace, they must have defensible borders and lebensraum.

It’s disgusting that the comparison is so apt.

But in a quantitative sense, Israel has done much better than the Nazis so far. Mainly, so far they have made no attempt at genocide. That’s a big deal.

I’m not sure that this should be counted as a moral virtue, though. If somehow the Nazis had been able to get the unconditional support of the USA by avoiding genocide, I think it’s likely they would have avoided genocide. It could be a matter of sheer practicality.

104

Jim Buck 07.29.14 at 6:25 pm

Perhaps there should be more popular focus on the threat, posed to us all, by Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

105

roy belmont 07.29.14 at 8:06 pm

“I personally doubt anything good will happen in the near future. “
Something bad is happening right now. Something really really bad. Trying to step back into the climate-controlled safety of the seminar room, to get away from that, is complicity in it.
-
Donald Johnson, and a multitude of others -
“Meanwhile, the US Congress, showing its usual level of moral fiber, is lining up behind Israel”

This is consistently presented as visible, caused, explicable. Morally repugnant, but simple, really, and easily understood. But no one in my hearing, and I do read quite a bit of stuff where that would be a naturally expected bit of data, no one says it clearly and plainly.
It’s seemingly a tacit, default assumption that
1. They’re all being paid to serve a foreign master, they’re on their knees for money
2. They’re all delusional fundamentalists, or their constituents are, so they’re on their knees for Bible-votes
3. It’s a combination of the two with mega-corp death-manufacturers thrown in for good measure – money, votes, and doom-lobby pressure
4. The inverse, the threat, that crossing the invisible bosses (whoever they are) will mean no money and no votes.
Whatever the immediate causative factors, we’re looking at the Congress of the United States on its knees with its head bowed to a country entirely dependent on American tax money, that wouldn’t even exist without American military and diplomatic protections. That tax money is freely given, just handed over, then it’s used to finance Satanic levels of sadistic inhuman violence.

My question, genuine, sincerely asked, is how the fuck does a puny little nation of delusional racist theocrats get the entire, the entire, the whole entire US Congress on its knees?
How? Bribes? They’re getting their money from us in the first place.
Threats? What? What threat? To do what?
What do you tell yourself to explain that, Donald Johnson? What can you tell me here, publicly and openly, to explain that?
-
The scramble now to keep metastasizing anti-Semitism contained somehow, as the common people put together how thoroughly screwed they’ve been, and the received terminology doesn’t give them an accurate target, so of course they widen the blast radius of their anger – it’s sardonically amusing to someone who’s been attacked for years as an anti-Semite, for asking questions many many more are now asking.
And the answers they’re getting, as usual, are mostly gibberish and violence. Or a home-made truth ungoverned by the sunlight of public discussion.

Rania Khalek, the Jew-counter, is going to be vindicated. For speaking honestly an unspoken truth and getting viciously attacked for it.
That horseshit is over. Done.
No more lies. No more fog of ambiguity sheltering treacherous cowards.

“They hate us because they think we manipulate their information,
so now we’re manipulating their information to make them like us.”

106

Dan R. 07.29.14 at 8:27 pm

So my take from these threads is that the US government should take the lead in forcing Israel not to use tactics that the US military has employed in almost every conflict since Sherman’s march to the sea in 1864.

Heck, it was only a few months ago that Obama was ready to blow up Damascus, and had his momentum stolen at the last moment by the Sergei Lavrov of all people.

Please grow up.

107

Matt 07.29.14 at 8:41 pm

Hey Dan R., did you ever find that mass of people who oppose carnage in Gaza but are fierce hawks when the US military is doing the civilian-killing? Or are you lecturing to straw persons?

108

LFC 07.29.14 at 8:42 pm

Dan R. @106
You seem to be confusing “should” with “will.” To say that the US govt should do X is not to say it will do it.

109

Ze Kraggash 07.29.14 at 8:45 pm

Interesting that any US economic or military assistance to Israel violates the Symington amendment, US own law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symington_Amendment

It’s been violated every year since forever, surely grounds for impeachment of tens of thousands of federal politicians, including all the current ones, and you don’t need to be a precog to know that a whole lot of the future ones too. Where’s all those checks and balances I hear so much about? I wanna say “what a farce”, but no, not really.

110

Donald Johnson 07.29.14 at 8:51 pm

“a puny little nation of delusional racist theocrats get the entire, the entire, the whole entire US Congress on its knees?
How? Bribes? ‘

Legal bribes. AIPAC. They are on their knees for money from the bigots at AIPAC. That’s part of it anyway. Some would undoubtedly support Israel anyway because there’s a strain of racism in American culture against Arabs, but where that’s not the deciding factor then money takes over. Matt Yglesias just wrote about a memo from the Michelle Nunn campaign that touches on this.

one reason congress is so pro israel fundraising

And then there’s the game played where not terribly liberal Zionists act as gatekeepers, where you are only supposed to criticize Israel this far and no farther. So you’re allowed to criticize the settlements or the occupation in bloodless unemotional terms, or better yet as a long term threat to Israel’s survival as a Jewish democracy, so that you show your heart is in the right place, but to imply that Israel might actually be guilty of state terror and the deliberate killing of civilians or at least the use of indiscriminate firepower or to question whether a 2SS is the only possible way to go puts you beyond the pale. No such constraint operates when criticizing Palestinian terrorism. All politicians know the rhetoric they are supposed to use if they want to (ever so gently) criticize the occupation. Obama used it in his 2007 speech to AIPAC (you can find it online, but I won’t look), where he said that Israel was defending itself against an enemy that used civilians as human shields in its Lebanon War, though that HRW report that I linked upthread discredited that accusation and it was known Israel dropped millions of cluster munitions on southern Lebanon. Obama sometimes sympathizes with Israelis under a rain of rockets and imagines how he would feel if his daughters were under that rain. But his administration made damn sure the Goldstone Report went nowhere and he has never (until maybe now) ever implied that Israel might be guilty of excessive force. And that’s from a politician who at least tried to stop settlement expansion. Harry Reid opposed him on that. Why? AIPAC. It for damn sure isn’t because virtually all congresscreatures support not just Israel, but Bibi on the merits. Obama, weirdly enough, is on the extreme pro-Palestinian side of the American political spectrum on this issue, which is why Israel apparently assumed they could kill hundreds of civilians with unquestioned US support. Why not? It’s happened before. On the Republican side you also have the Christian Zionists, but I don’t want to take the easy way out and claim it is all the fault of those damn Christian yahoos, because it’s so easy to call them bigots as opposed to the Jewish bigots who support Israel no matter what. But they play some role in the Republican Party. I also think that there’s some innate racism or cultural bias in many Americans that can be tapped into, which helps explain why so many (not all, but the majority from the polls I’ve seen lately) of Americans think Israel is justified in the force it has used or should even use more. The Israelis are Like Us, and the Palestinians are the Other, or worse, Terrorists.

111

Matt 07.29.14 at 8:59 pm

Interesting comment about the Symington amendment. That might explain why federal officials, while in office and on the record, won’t admit the obvious truth that Israel has nuclear weapons. It parallels how officials carefully avoided calling the Egyptian military coup against Morsi a coup: we’d have legal obligations if this were a coup, so nobody use that word!

112

engels 07.29.14 at 9:08 pm

113

godoggo 07.29.14 at 9:08 pm

Donald Johnson: that sounds about right.

I remember Eric Alterman used to talk about this stuff a lot when he had a blog.

114

roy belmont 07.29.14 at 9:13 pm

Thanks, Donald, for a serious reply.
They are on their knees for money from the bigots at AIPAC.
That means then what? No money greater? AIPAC has more money than anybody else?
In this context.
Okay but then, why is there no resistance to that? At all? On the surface of American public life.
And how does that work with media like FOX and CNN? Are they buying or selling influence?
Where’s the nucleus of the intrigue located? Tel Aviv? The Bahamas? Connecticut?
Asking because I think if we could somehow surgically remove the Zionism from people like Sheldon Adelson, we’d still have a serious problem with people like Sheldon Adelson.

115

roy belmont 07.29.14 at 9:25 pm

Also I’m asking because I’ve started getting physically nauseated at the sight of Jews trying to shift the onus for this shit onto something alien – “Zionists” “Israelis”.
Wolf Blitzer’s personal affinities may include Zionism, but he’s an American Jew. And he’s one of a vastly disproportionate number of Jews in the media, who are exerting a controlling force on the American public’s world-view.
And as I mentioned, Rania Khalek was treated to a tsunami of vicious abuse for pointing out that The Nation‘s masthead was demographically out of whack, tilted heavily toward the Jewish. And positing that this might have something to do with their otherwise Progressive editorial stance being so Islamophobic-friendly.
And the Washington Post we might add, and the New York Times we might add.
And we might go on all evening adding and adding.
And it was, until these last few weeks, an excuse for public shaming as an anti-Semitite to even talk about that. To even mention it. Even though it’s clearly true.
No more horseshit.

Roger Waters – anti-Semite! Fuck you.

A cabal of desperate Jews defending themselves from anti-Semites by living out every cliche of anti-Semitic folklore.
Stop it.

116

Jeff R. 07.29.14 at 9:27 pm

Here’s the thing: if the Palestinian’s terror acts can be in any way understood or justified, that’s the same thing as telling an American that any given Native American on the nearest reservation would be equally justified in shooting their mother in the face. The cases are not easily distinguishable, other then perhaps by time, and if time is all there is then Israel can, morally speaking, run out the clock eventually. (And it wouldn’t take as much time as you might thing, because when you think about the question of when the very latest time that an Indigenous American could have justifiably shot someone’s mother in the face, you’re probably always going to have to go at least as far back as World War I, and quite possibly to the Civil War or beyond.)

117

Bruce Baugh 07.29.14 at 9:33 pm

Jeff R.: Part of being serious about justice is the realization that, frankly, many of us do deserve death as collaborators and rentiers of terrible things done in our name, and that every single day there are a great many moments of mercy required to keep us alive.

118

Donald Johnson 07.29.14 at 9:37 pm

I think AIPAC dominates because nobody else who gives big chunks of money to politicians cares that much about fairness to Palestinians, which is why politicians go to their conferences and pander. That’s generally how lobbies can sometimes maintain a vise-like grip on a particular issue. The members of the lobby on issue X cares a great deal about X, and while others may care, they aren’t single issue donors or voters as the case may be.

I’d be interested in knowing if any other lobby has this much clout on its particular issue, but someone else will have to tell me. AIPAC is definitely the 800 lb gorilla in the room when it comes to our policy towards Israel and Palestine.

119

geo 07.29.14 at 9:39 pm

Donald @110: They are on their knees for money from the bigots at AIPAC. That’s part of it anyway. Some would undoubtedly support Israel anyway because there’s a strain of racism in American culture against Arabs, but where that’s not the deciding factor then money takes over.

That’s true, of course, but does it need to be set in a larger context to explain US policy? Whenever Chomsky is asked about the seeming omnipotence of the Israel lobby, he expresses a certain skepticism and asks his interlocutor: What if, for some reason, the defense lobby or the energy lobby or one of the other truly major players in American politics decided that their interests were seriously threatened by US support for Israeli policy? In that case, he insists, the US would bring Israel to heel instantly.

I’m not sure — is that too schematic, too a priori? On the other hand, there does seem to be an order-of-magnitude difference between the power of the defense or energy industries and that of AIPAC.

120

geo 07.29.14 at 9:41 pm

Donald: I posted #118 before I read your #119. Clearly the same thought has occurred to you.

121

LFC 07.29.14 at 9:46 pm

@roy belmont 115

I don’t know anything about the Rania Khalek matter to which you refer, but you seem to be very seriously confused. Some Jews are Zionists. Some aren’t. (There are also different sorts of Zionists, but that’s not relevant here.) Your comment @115 is offensive (and, yes, blatantly antisemitic).

122

Donald Johnson 07.29.14 at 9:59 pm

“What if, for some reason, the defense lobby or the energy lobby or one of the other truly major players in American politics decided that their interests were seriously threatened by US support for Israeli policy? In that case, he insists, the US would bring Israel to heel instantly.”

I think Chomsky gives as an example the sale of AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia, which went through in the face of opposition from AIPAC. I think. This is from fuzzy memory. But with something more directly involving Israel and its treatment of Palestinians, there doesn’t seem to be any counter-lobby with clout.

123

Jeff R. 07.29.14 at 10:24 pm

Bruce B.: I suspect that an unwillingness to take justice so-defined that seriously is a stronger root cause of the level of support for Israel in America than any number of shadowy lobbyists or Revelations-Obsessed Fundamentalists.

124

etv13 07.29.14 at 10:29 pm

Jeff R: Native Americans are U.S. citizens with full voting rights, and I’ve driven on and off the Navajo Reservation without encountering any checkpoints along the way. However crappy conditions on some reservations may be, they’re not really all that closely analogous to the current situation in Gaza.

125

engels 07.29.14 at 10:31 pm

Where’s the nucleus of the intrigue located?

Short answer:

ABC News, New York: Welcome to the World’s Largest Gold Vault
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=5835433

Long answer:

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin: Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism
http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/

126

Barry 07.29.14 at 10:32 pm

geo: “…I’m not sure — is that too schematic, too a priori? On the other hand, there does seem to be an order-of-magnitude difference between the power of the defense or energy industries and that of AIPAC.”

I think that Israel is helped immensely by the belief in the military-industrial complex that their interests are aligned. Remember, if the Rapturist community ever actually decided that it was Now Time for the Final Battle, Israel would be in a very uncomfortable position.

IMHO, either of those two situations are unlikely.

127

J Thomas 07.29.14 at 11:03 pm

#121 LFC

Some Jews are Zionists. Some aren’t. (There are also different sorts of Zionists, but that’s not relevant here.) Your comment @115 is offensive (and, yes, blatantly antisemitic).

I often have trouble understaind where Roy Belmont’s personal stand is. Pretty often he seems to be thinking about things from some angle that just doesn’t fit my preconceptions. But he is presenting important ideas.

Zionists try to blur the distinction between Zionism and Judaism. They try hard. And to a large extent they are succeeding.

And one result of that is that if someday there’s an effort to call zionists to justice for their crimes, it is likely to affect some or many innocent Jews as well.

If the time comes that the US government decides it’s vitally important that zionists not have US security clearances, it will be far easier to tell whether applicants are jewish than whether they are zionists.

Similarly, there is this big effort to tell people that there is no zionist conspiracy to subvert the US government to act against the best interest of the USA. And anybody who says there is gets called an anti-semite. As it gets increasingly obvious to everybody that there is in fact a zionist conspiracy to subvert the US government, it also gets easier for many Americans to take a simplistic view and decide that anti-semites are right and after all respectable-until-proven-insane. Of course there are millions of Jewish US citizens who are innocent of this conspiracy, but people would tend not to trust them given the Zionist propaganda that Zionism is Judaism.

But of course the path of ongoing history is not certain. If for example 70% of US Jewish citizens make a point of publicly announcing that they are Jewish but oppose Zionism, then it will be clear that there is a big distinction between Zionism and Judaism.

128

Donald Johnson 07.29.14 at 11:15 pm

“And one result of that is that if someday there’s an effort to call zionists to justice for their crimes, it is likely to affect some or many innocent Jews as well.

If the time comes that the US government decides it’s vitally important that zionists not have US security clearances, it will be far easier to tell whether applicants are jewish than whether they are zionists.”

Just stop. This is wrong on so many levels. For one thing, “calling zionists to justice” in practice would mean having some high ranking Israeli officials in front of the ICC for specific war crimes. Which I seriously doubt will ever happen–war crimes trials are not for Westerners. And only totalitarian countries start punishing entire classes of people such as “zionists” for having the “wrong” beliefs. Well,maybe that’s too strong–the US wasn’t totalitarian during the McCarthy era. But anyway, if the US starts denying security clearances on the basis of people being Jewish, either we’ve headed down a very dark path or we’re already at the end of that very dark path. This has absolutely nothing to do with being in favor of Palestinian rights.

129

Donald Johnson 07.29.14 at 11:18 pm

“I suspect that an unwillingness to take justice so-defined that seriously is a stronger root cause of the level of support for Israel in America than any number of shadowy lobbyists or Revelations-Obsessed Fundamentalists.”

First, I agree that much of the support for Israel probably has some cultural connection with the fact that we did the same things only worse to the Native Americans (who, however, were granted citizenship in 1924). But “shadowy lobbyists” is basically a cheap shot, the implication being that people are talking about some conspiracy theory. AIPAC is right out in the open. And so are “Revelation-Obsessed Fundamentalists”.
And it’s Revelation, not Revelations.

130

J Thomas 07.29.14 at 11:35 pm

#128 Donald Johnson

For one thing, “calling zionists to justice” in practice would mean having some high ranking Israeli officials in front of the ICC for specific war crimes. Which I seriously doubt will ever happen–war crimes trials are not for Westerners.

You’re saying that Israel is specially privileged. Well sure it is — today. But then there’s the separate issue of justice for zionists who do espionage, sabotage, and disinformation for a foreign power. That’s mostly considered acceptable for zionists — today.

And only totalitarian countries start punishing entire classes of people such as “zionists” for having the “wrong” beliefs. Well,maybe that’s too strong–the US wasn’t totalitarian during the McCarthy era.

And during WWII we locked up a lot of japanese, and a much smaller number of people of german ancestry. Of course there was a big deal about security clearances for people who might favor unfriendly foreign powers.

At the moment we allow Israel to know pretty much anything we do, despite their own habit of giving security clearances to a lot of first-generation Russian immigrants. It’s crazy, but politics has that kind of result sometimes.

But anyway, if the US starts denying security clearances on the basis of people being Jewish, either we’ve headed down a very dark path or we’re already at the end of that very dark path.

Yes, if we develop a public perception that Zionists have sold out the USA utterly against US interests because they are loyal mostly to a foreign power, it will look like we’ve been on a dark path for decades.

This has absolutely nothing to do with being in favor of Palestinian rights.

Agreed. It isn’t about Palestinians or arabs at all, except to the extent that they influence Israeli policy. It’s primarily about American traitors.

It was not illegal in the USA to sympathize with the Nazis. We didn’t arrest everybody in the Bund. What was illegal was to act on those beliefs against the USA.

131

LFC 07.30.14 at 12:05 am

J Thomas 127
there is in fact a zionist conspiracy to subvert the US government

These comments by Thomas and Belmont are a disgrace. Why don’t you just incorporate by reference the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? I’m done w this thread. Shd have been a while ago.

132

b9n10nt 07.30.14 at 12:21 am

geo @119:

Just wanted to chime in and promulgate another Chomsky take on U.S. support for Israel: namely, that it began as simple Cold War policy. Israel was an ally in a region where Soviets and U.S. competed for influence.

Now though, enabled no doubt by pro-Zionist lobbying (we should never say that the hawks are pro-Israel), support for Israel has metastasized beyond its initial justification. It is more like Culture War politics (except the out-group is hippies and paleocons: people who -there is a vague sense- “just don’t get it”). Support for Israel creates an in-group identity among the Very Serious foreign policy people. More parochial domestic disputes among Democrats and Republicans can be put in a context of unity: elite politicians can take a certain psychological comfort in knowing that, whatever their shallower political concerns, they are unified in being Very Serious about the U.S. project of geopolitical leadership.

And I shouldn’t narrowly identify elite politicians: being pro-Israel is a relevant signifier among the vast swath of careerist NSA/DoD/State Dept/etc… Washington bureaucracies.

This is what we do: create non-rational markers of group identity. It would be far more remarkable if Washington imperialists were somehow evolved strictly logical approaches to geopolitics.

133

b9n10nt 07.30.14 at 12:24 am

change bureaucracies to “careerist Washington bureaucrats”

and then strike “were” from “imperialists evolved strictly logical approaches…”

134

Ronan(rf) 07.30.14 at 12:29 am

Yeah I’d have to agree with LFC. We seem to be getting a little carried away here with the Zionist conspiracy mongering.

135

Ronan(rf) 07.30.14 at 12:37 am

@132 – yeah, I would have thought the Israel lobby was an outgrowth of US strategic policy during the cold war, not the other way around. Then once it developed it locked in a number of benefits(virtual unconditional support on I/P questions, aid, congressional support etc) I don’t think it’s an explain all for policy in the region though.
The specific way the Israel/Palestine conflict has developed into a political/cultural position in the US seems weird from afar though. (It must be somewhat an outgrowth of the rhetoric and posture of identity politics on US campuses ?)

136

J Thomas 07.30.14 at 12:38 am

#131 LFC

“there is in fact a zionist conspiracy to subvert the US government”

These comments by Thomas and Belmont are a disgrace. Why don’t you just incorporate by reference the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? I’m done w this thread.

If you have no argument, displaying offense and leaving is probably your best choice.

It’s hardly plausible to argue that there is no zionist conspiracy.

But you could argue that unconditional support for Israel’s current government is in the best interest of the USA. It might be possible to make a coherent argument along those lines.

Failing that, you could argue that the USA has a moral obligation to bail out Israel even when there’s nothing in it for us. Maybe you could make a plausible argument for that, too.

Sure, it would be difficult to make arguments like that but it isn’t hopeless. On the other hand I can certainly understand if you feel that your best strategy is to just bow out.

137

John Garrett 07.30.14 at 12:59 am

And what if Iran gets involved with arms and men supporting the Palestinians (definitely a possibility), and the violence stops. Do we all feel better?

JG

138

godoggo 07.30.14 at 1:10 am

139

Tabasco 07.30.14 at 1:54 am

“And what if Iran gets involved with arms and men supporting the Palestinians (definitely a possibility), and the violence stops.”

You mean both sides stop killing each other because of the threat of MAD? That’s got to be better than what is happening now.

140

matt w 07.30.14 at 2:12 am

The author of the article to which Corey is responding, and anyone else who is ever one tiny bit inclined to be moved by the “human shields” argument, should do an internet search for the phrases “human shields” and “israeli supreme court.” It casts some doubt on the Likud position that the use of “human shields” is uniquely horrifying and reprehensible to the current Israeli government, let alone that it justifies the killing of children and other civilians.

141

b9n10nt 07.30.14 at 2:52 am

Ronan (rf) 135:

“The specific way the Israel/Palestine conflict has developed into a political/cultural position in the US seems weird from afar though.”

Well, a good explanation will make the weird seem normal. Lemme try:

U.S. foreign policy has to be moralistic (b/c domestic politics) but it can’t be moral (b/c elite interests). Just. Like. White. America. Itself.

Israel is bootstraps, rugged individualism, white. The Arab antagonists are victim-mentality, collectivism, lazy and corrupt, dark. Hypothesis: Everything that white privileged Americans tell themselves about their own worthiness in relationship to black Americans and other oppressed minorities gets projected onto Israelis in relationship to Arabs.

So there’s a whole pre-fabricated discourse that’s going to resonate with (what used to be) the audience for the evening news here.

142

Ze Kraggash 07.30.14 at 7:45 am

Re: AIPAC. It *is* a bit of a mystery. I understand the bribery and the threat to defeat you in the primaries by throwing cash at your opponent. But most pro-Israel votes go 100%, and not every politician is vulnerable. And what about a second term president, what’s his achilles heel? What terrible things would happen to Obama if he, say, declared a no-fly zone over Gaza and shot down a couple IDF planes?

143

Colonel Blimp 07.30.14 at 8:38 am

In the American consciousness, Israel is mostly associated with Gal Gadot, Bar Rafaeli and ‘Startup Nation’.

The Arab world is associated mostly with ISIS, women not driving in Saudi Arabia, Bengazi, suicide bombings, and that Syrian rebel who ate the heart of an enemy.

I doubt there is currently a single Arab country which has a positive image in the US public.

144

J Thomas 07.30.14 at 8:40 am

What terrible things would happen to Obama if he, say, declared a no-fly zone over Gaza and shot down a couple IDF planes?

Wouldn’t he be impeached?

It would kind of look bad for Israel if he was assassinated, although of course only anti-semites would suggest that Israel might do such a thing. But impeachment seems like an obvious and easy response.

145

godoggo 07.30.14 at 8:56 am

Obama caves a lot.

Nasty thread.

146

Ronan(rf) 07.30.14 at 10:30 am

“It casts some doubt on the Likud position that the use of “human shields” is uniquely horrifying and reprehensible to the current Israeli government, let alone that it justifies the killing of children and other civilians.”

Yeah, I mean that really is a brazen bit of rhetoric by the Israelis who have used actual human shields before as policy; during the Lebanon wars(tie a local to the top of the tank so people wouldnt shoot at them) and during the second intifada(grab a local kid and hold him in front while clearing houses.)

147

novakant 07.30.14 at 11:10 am

Nasty thread.

Yeah, “but not as nasty as what Israel is doing in Gaza” so anything goes …

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Donald Johnson 07.30.14 at 12:22 pm

“Yeah, “but not as nasty as what Israel is doing in Gaza” so anything goes …”

One feature of the I/P issue is that in any discussion where more than a few people on both sides participate and there is no moderation, there is always going to be bigotry on both sides. No exceptions that I’ve ever seen. Someone is going to say something that crosses the line into antisemitism, and someone is going to say something that trivializes the harm done to Palestinians or implies that their resentment of Israel is for no good reason. In short, they hate Israel not because they are human beings who hate being thrown out of their homes, but because they are Arabs and that’s what Arabs do. So Ben informs us as though scoring a devastating point that Palestinians in Gaza despised Israel back in the 50’s and Fedayeen used to launch attacks from there in that time period. He forgot to mention that the Palestinians in Gaza are largely refugees expelled from southern Israel.

At New York Times comment threads in the past couple weeks I’ve seen people explicitly deny the Nakba. They let those comments go through. I’m not equating the scale of the two events as the Holocaust was vastly worse, but denying the Nakba is every bit as dishonest as denying the Holocaust and it is motivated by racism just as much as Holocaust denial is motivated by antisemitism.

Anti-Palestinian bigotry is part of the mainstream. Comments of that sort are part of the public debate. No reason to be outraged there. Anything goes.

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Donald Johnson 07.30.14 at 12:35 pm

Incidentally, one reason I like Richard Silverstein’s blog “Tikun Olam” is that he is intensely critical of Israel and its US cheerleading section (which includes Congress), but he has zero tolerance for racist BS on either side. Anti-Jewish comments are deleted. But he also deletes the usual anti-Palestinian racism that would be acceptable at most places. Consequently he blows his top at some of his commenters (and bans some of them) on a fairly regular basis. I sometimes think he goes a bit too far, but have to respect his basic principles.

150

godoggo 07.30.14 at 1:12 pm

But Ben was voicing more-or-less the official justification for Israel’s attacks. If you think it’s worthwhile to debate about Gaza (big if) then the justification needs to be voiced. But I didn’t see any extended rants about the evils of Islam.

151

Donald Johnson 07.30.14 at 1:41 pm

Ben wasn’t just justifying Israel’s current actions–he was telling us that the Gazans despised Israel and launched terrorist attacks all the way back in the 50’s. That’s a common trope–usually in the form that you can tell that the Palestinians are irrational because they hated Israel before X, where X is the beginning of the occupation in 67. In this case X was Cast Lead. But it’s a ridiculous argument that is dismissive of genuine Palestinian grievances. Palestinians are hostile to Israel because their land was taken from them in 1948 and for a lot of very concrete reasons since then. I don’t agree with the notion that you’re not giving bigoted or hateful arguments if you carefully avoid making slams at Islam or Judaism. By the way, the equivalent of this sort of pro-Israel ugliness would be people who excuse, Palestinian terrorism aimed at civilians on the grounds that the oppressed have the right to fight back through any means necessary, or who say that Israelis have no right to be concerned over terrorism at all, because they are the oppressors. That’s dehumanizing on the other side.

More generally, yes, both sides should be heard. But most justifications for Israeli actions involve some sort of dismissal of Palestinian oppression and the claim that their violence stems mainly from irrational Jew hatred. I don’t think such arguments should be banned. People should be given the rope needed to hang themselves. What I object to is the notion that this is somehow not objectionable or ugly and that the thread only becomes ugly when someone makes an anti-semitic remark. Every single extended thread I’ve ever seen on the I/P conflict is ugly. It goes with the territory.

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matt w 07.30.14 at 2:35 pm

Ronan@146: Yes, and a quick Google search yields a story about how the Israeli armed forces continue to use Palestinian children as human shields, apparently in direct contravention to that Supreme Court decision.

And this is the entire Israeli argument for justifying their killing of civilians.

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Jeff R. 07.30.14 at 2:47 pm

Donald@129 (et al): I’m not saying that apocalyptic Christianity doesn’t exist, but the left finds it convenient to grotesquely overstate their numbers and importance. The vast majority of fundamentalists, asked why they support Israel, would answer exactly the same as most other Americans (‘Only democracy’ yadda yadda evil terrorists something something).

And the success of APIAC’s lobbying is best answered with Occam’s razor here: this is a democratic republic, and their position enjoys a large, strong, and largely evenly distributed majority among the populace.

154

Layman 07.30.14 at 3:01 pm

Jeff R @ 153

“Even more significant for this study, over one-third of those Americans who support Israel report that they do so because they believe the Bible teaches that the Jews must possess their own country in the Holy Land before Jesus can return.”

Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/End-Times/On-The-Road-To-Armageddon.aspx#d1a20JaDIz8dbvlU.99

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Anarcissie 07.30.14 at 3:16 pm

‘And the success of APIAC’s lobbying is best answered with Occam’s razor here: this is a democratic republic, and their position enjoys a large, strong, and largely evenly distributed majority among the populace.’ You don’t need a majority if your cause is well-focused and avoids distractions. No legislator wants the tsuris of being targeted — consider the fate of Cynthia McKinney. But having wandered in the outlands a bit, my impression of the opinions of the proles is that they are rather divided on such issues as the goodness of Israel, and that such support as exists, while broad, may be thin, and might dry up suddenly. Meanwhile, the costs in any case are hidden, which allows the racial considerations mentioned by b9n10nt above to prevail.

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J Thomas 07.30.14 at 4:24 pm

Ben wasn’t just justifying Israel’s current actions–he was telling us that the Gazans despised Israel and launched terrorist attacks all the way back in the 50′s. That’s a common trope–usually in the form that you can tell that the Palestinians are irrational because they hated Israel before X, where X is the beginning of the occupation in 67.

I don’t think that is the point of this argument. It’s more like, “These people hate us. They have hated us for a long time. If we try to be nice to them now by (for example) not killing them, they will still hate us. We can’t get them to stop hating us while Zionist Israel continues to exist. So why should we do them any favors at all?”

It isn’t really about convincing you that they are right and Palestinians are wrong. It’s about what they ought to do. Christians and Buddhists say that it’s proper to be nice to your enemies. (So do some strategists. “Treat your enemies as if they will someday be your allies, and your allies as if they will someday be your enemies.”) That isn’t in Judaism or Islam. If Palestinians are still going to be enemies of Israel after Israel does something nice to them like not make reprisals at 100:1 for Palestinian reprisals, why be merciful?

If they let palestinian students learn engineering, the students will learn to build rockets and bombs — or build a palestinian economy that can easier make rockets and bombs. If they let palestinians have concrete, their palestinian enemies will build shelters that make it harder to kill them. If they let palestinians have food then palestinians will have babies they will raise to hate Israel.

If for humanitarian reasons they don’t kill the palestinians, doesn’t it make sense they must keep them as totally powerless as they possibly can? Poor, uneducated, utterly dependent on charity that Israel can blockade. This is mercy, it’s better than killing them all.

If palestinians want more mercy than that, doesn’t it make sense they should first agree that Israel owes them nothing, and they should stop hating Israel, and then beg for mercy?

Why should losers have rights?

I find this logic makes sense. It fits together. Where I have a problem with it is that Israel is going to be at war forever or until they lose. If they want peace they need to kill everybody else in the middle east and live there by themselves. I don’t think the USA should support them in a conflict that is not good for Israelis in the long run and is not good for the USA at all.

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godoggo 07.30.14 at 4:40 pm

The stupid crap about religions does not help the Palestinian cause. Quite the contrary. Which is a reason I won’t get sucked into it, beyond noting my annoyance.

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godoggo 07.30.14 at 4:46 pm

Asshole.

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SamChevre 07.30.14 at 5:15 pm

But it’s a ridiculous argument that is dismissive of genuine Palestinian grievances. Palestinians are hostile to Israel because their land was taken from them in 1948 and for a lot of very concrete reasons since then.

Arab hostility to Jews moving to Palestine didn’t start in 1948. It was already thriving in 1929 (the Hebron massacre). And it wasn’t confined to Palestine, either; the majority of Israeli Jews came from the Middle East (which is not all Arab: I don’t know what the proportion from Iran is).

And the number of Palestinians displaced in 1948 was an order of magnitude smaller than the number of Germans displaced in the historically-German portions of central Europe; for some reason, there aren’t massive Sudetendeutsch refugee camps on the Czech border, nor are there steady violent attacks by Germans on Pomerania.

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Ze Kraggash 07.30.14 at 5:24 pm

“If palestinians want more mercy than that, doesn’t it make sense they should first agree that Israel owes them nothing, and they should stop hating Israel, and then beg for mercy?”

The problem is: it’s not just the Palestinians. Yes, it’s possible to ethnically cleanse a small area out of a few million people, but this small area happens to lie inside the Arab world. Its small well-armed population it seems is united at this point mostly by their hatred for Arabs. They don’t chant “death to Palestinians”, they chant “death to the Arabs”. And yet, to organize any sort of viable society there, they would have to mix with the Arabs; even, to a significant degree, to become Arabs, assimilate. Otherwise, it’s just not feasible; an artificially prolonged aberration, a dead-end.

161

Micheal Lunny 07.30.14 at 6:01 pm

SamChevre@159

And the number of Palestinians displaced in 1948 was an order of magnitude smaller than the number of Germans displaced in the historically-German portions of central Europe; for some reason, there aren’t massive Sudetendeutsch refugee camps on the Czech border, nor are there steady violent attacks by Germans on Pomerania.

I would suggest that if 80% of Germany had been cleared of 80% of native Germans and appropriated by Russian settlers things might have been a little different, even if everyone agreed the Russians had suffered terribly at the hands of the Germans (which is not the case with the Palestinians at all.).

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J Thomas 07.30.14 at 6:27 pm

#160 Ze Kraggash

And yet, to organize any sort of viable society there, they would have to mix with the Arabs; even, to a significant degree, to become Arabs, assimilate.

That needn’t be strictly necessary. Imagine for a moment that there were no Israeli-arabs and no palestinians, and the other nations were no military threat. No cooperation of any sort, but no warfare either, just no interaction.

Israel could get all the oil they needed by sea, they wouldn’t need it smuggled through Jordan. Also they could use the natural gas from the eastern mediterranean which belongs to them and nobody else. They need more water than they have, but they wouldn’t have to take more from Syria and Jordan than they already do, the price of desalination has dropped to the point that it is sometimes less than twice as expensive as fresh water. They could use that.

They would not need to trade with any arab country, they could do all their trade by sea and air. Anyway, as long as the arabs are no military threat they will be economic basket-cases that Israel does not need to trade with, and that situation would probably continue indefinitely.

Israel could simply ignore all the arabs so long as all the arabs leave them alone. They could handle the economic challenges they would have from being a small nation with poor natural resources and with relatively high transportation costs for trade, by a combination of investment in hi-tech, subsidies from the USA, favorable trade deals, creative accounting, and fraud.

They don’t have to mix with arabs if they don’t want to, provided arabs don’t become a threat.
And provided their trade with europe and north america stays profitable enough.

163

Barry 07.30.14 at 6:40 pm

Sam Chevre: “for some reason, there aren’t massive Sudetendeutsch refugee camps on the Czech border, nor are there steady violent attacks by Germans on Pomerania.”

The historical ignorance is amazing.

164

Seth Gordon 07.30.14 at 6:48 pm

The history of Europe and the Near East, even if we exclude what the Nazis did, is rife with ethnic and religious groups shoving one another around. In the 1840s, Hungarian nationalists wanted independence from the Austrian empire at the same time that they wanted to oppress the Romanians, Serbs, and Slovaks within Hungary’s borders. Germany in the late 19th century encouraged ethnic Germans to buy up land from Poles in the east; when Poland became independent again after WW1, they kicked a lot of those Germans back out. In the 1920s, Greece kicked out its Muslim population in exchange for Turkey kicking out its Christians. After WW2, ethnic Germans were kicked out of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary. After Algeria became independent of France in the 1960s, almost a million refugees fled to France. The Yugoslav civil war of the 1990s seems to have been settled, in practice, by letting the Serbs keep everything they took up until the cease-fire.

I don’t expect any Palestinian refugee to say “oh, it’s OK that the Jews took my grandfather’s house—he didn’t really have a right to it”, any more than I expect any Israeli to say “oh, it’s OK that my father was killed by a suicide bomber—that was a war of national liberation against a racist occupier”. But Europeans and Americans of a leftish persuasion who use “Zionist” as a dirty word never seem interested in calling the beneficiaries of these other genocides to account. What British academics are calling for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against them?

Israel is neither a moral exemplar nor a Nazi-scale outlaw. It is a state like every other. Which is exactly what the Zionist movement hoped to create.

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Seth Gordon 07.30.14 at 7:00 pm

Micheal Lunny @ 161:

I would suggest that if 80% of Germany had been cleared of 80% of native Germans and appropriated by Russian settlers things might have been a little different…

Well, it all depends on how you draw the lines, doesn’t it? The Palestinians who were displaced by Israel are a small proportion of the Arab population as a whole, but even in the heyday of Arab nationalism, “let the Arab states assimilate Arab refugees and let the Jewish state assimilate Jewish refugees” was never considered a viable option on the Arab side.

166

Donald Johnson 07.30.14 at 7:10 pm

“Arab hostility to Jews moving to Palestine didn’t start in 1948. It was already thriving in 1929 (the Hebron massacre)”

And Zionist hostility to Palestinians didn’t start in 1929–Ahad Ha’am was writing about it in 1891, denouncing the brutality and contempt of his fellow Zionists towards the Arab peasants. Zionism was a settler colonialist movement, and everything since then has been pretty much what you see with any such movement. It just got a late start. Palestinians knew perfectly well that Zionists were trying to take their land. That doesn’t excuse their violence–all violence against civilians is sickening–but it’s disingenuous (yet again) for someone to try and portray their hostility as simply the product of Arab hatred for Jews. Of course there is antisemitism in the Arab world–no sane person denies it. But trying to pass off the roots of the conflict solely to that is, to put it politely, wrong.

“Israel is neither a moral exemplar nor a Nazi-scale outlaw.”

Now that I agree with. It’s a run-of-the-mill settler colonial state caught in a time warp. Because of the peculiarities of American politics, Israel gets a free pass to kill civilians and practice a form of apartheid on the West Bank, with virtually all American politicians endorsing “their right to defend themselves”.

Personally, not that it matters, I’m fine with a 2SS along the 67 lines. I don’t expect happy little utopias to break out anywhere, certainly not in the Middle East. But one commonly sees idiots claiming that the root of the problem is that those awful Palestinians/Arabs hate Jews no matter what, so what Israel does isn’t important. The reason for bringing up 48, in my case at least, is to push back against that, and of course if someone wants to bring up 1929 (and there was an earlier pogrom against Jews in 1920), then I’ll point out Ahad Ha’am’s observation in 1891.

167

Donald Johnson 07.30.14 at 7:14 pm

Speaking of the pecularities of American politics–

even left wing congressmen can’t quit israel

168

Seth Gordon 07.30.14 at 7:26 pm

I suppose I should also say something about the actual TNR article under discussion. Orwell’s quip about something so stupid that only an intellectual could believe it seems to be apropos here.

Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, Article 57, says that the risk of civilian casualties in a military attack has to be balanced against the “concrete and direct military advantage anticipated” by the attack. I’m sure that the lawyers and diplomats who inserted “concrete and direct” into the text did so precisely because a sufficiently glib partisan can come up with some tenuous chain of cause and effect that begins with blowing up a village (to catch the single foot-soldier hiding within) and ends with worldwide peace and harmony.

169

Ze Kraggash 07.30.14 at 7:34 pm

“Israel could simply ignore all the arabs so long as all the arabs leave them alone.”

Aside from the fact that “subsidies from the USA” still make it nonviable, this wouldn’t work, it’d fall apart without the thrill of danger, the hatred, the unity – without the struggle. Herzl knew it: “for Europe we would constitute a bulwark against Asia down there; we would be the advance post of civilization against barbarism.” He sure got what he wished for, just at the time when this sort of thing had gone out of style.

170

J Thomas 07.30.14 at 7:35 pm

“Arab hostility to Jews moving to Palestine didn’t start in 1948. It was already thriving in 1929 (the Hebron massacre)”

And Zionist hostility to Palestinians didn’t start in 1929–Ahad Ha’am was writing about it in 1891, denouncing the brutality and contempt of his fellow Zionists towards the Arab peasants.

There is no cheese at the end of that tunnel.

If one side says “Arabs have always hated Jews all the way back to Isaac/Ishmael” and the other side says “Jews have always hated and mistreated Arabs right back to Isaac/Ishmael”, it doesn’t get us anything that’s worth having.

The USA needs to either arrange a peace or back off and sanction both sides.

Personally, not that it matters, I’m fine with a 2SS along the 67 lines.

I don’t have any objection to that, but once they get two separate states why won’t Israel promptly claim that Palestine has committed acts of war and then start the bombing and settling again? I don’t see anything about that which looks like a solution.

But one commonly sees idiots claiming that the root of the problem is that those awful Palestinians/Arabs hate Jews no matter what, so what Israel does isn’t important.

Well, yes. And they have a point. Probably Palestinians will keep on being angry at Israel unless Israel concedes more than Israel will ever concede short of military defeat. If Israel is not willing to do what it takes to get friendly relations, doesn’t it make sense that they would do what Israeli voters like in the short run?

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Seth Gordon 07.30.14 at 7:57 pm

Israel currently has peace on its northern border with Lebanon/Hezbollah (he said, making a superstitious gesture to ward off the Evil Eye) and peace on its southern border with Egypt (indeed, Israel and the current Egyptian regime see Hamas as a common enemy). I don’t know exactly how a durable peace with Palestinians in the east and southwest is going to come about, but I don’t see it as fundamentally impossible and I don’t see it as entailing genocide. If Turkey and Greece can both be members of NATO, then anything is possible.

But I don’t have a lot of faith in the US’s ability to broker a peace. US presidents seem less interested in turning down the heat of the conflict than in pressing for epic gestures, in the hope that their name in the history books will be associated with epic success. Usually, they get epic failure instead.

172

Donald Johnson 07.30.14 at 8:20 pm

“US presidents seem less interested in turning down the heat of the conflict than in pressing for epic gestures, in the hope that their name in the history books will be associated with epic success”

Specifics? I think there is some truth to that with Clinton–Camp David was a mistake. (On who gets the blame, everyone to some degree.) I think Clinton wanted his last year in office to be the one where he has an epic success.

Obama actually came in with a good idea–stop expanding settlements. But –who would have ever guessed?–Congress sided with Netanyahu. Harry Reid sided with Netanyahu. Netanyahu is such a persuasive guy.

173

Seth Gordon 07.30.14 at 8:50 pm

I personally think “stop expanding settlements” is a fine idea on the merits, but Netanyahu obviously needs more of an incentive. “Stop expanding settlements and the PA will go back to negotiations” is not a good incentive: it only looks good if you think the negotiations will lead to a final-status arrangement acceptable to Israeli moderates before the Israeli right has a chance to punish Netanyahu for betraying the settler cause. If that could happen, it would be an epic success.

“Stop expanding settlements and the US will give settlers a financial incentive to move back within the Green Line” might have been more effective. Or “Stop expanding settlements and the PA will not object to you replacing civilian settlements, which everybody but you considers a violation of the Geneva Conventions, with military bases, which aren’t”. Or “Stop expanding settlements or else the EU will slap a 10% tariff on all Israeli imports, the proceeds of which will go directly to the PA”.

174

Donald Johnson 07.30.14 at 8:59 pm

I like the last idea (EU tariff) the most. The first idea sticks in my craw–we support Israel and they build settlements and then we pay for them to leave the settlements–but combined with the first it could maybe work. Carrot and stick. The middle one (military bases) I only like as an argument, not as an actual policy. If the Israelis were really concerned solely about their security, then they’d have put soldiers in the WB, but no civilian settlers. Not that the Palestinians would have liked the soldiers, but at least the security argument wouldn’t look like such a transparent excuse for land theft.

175

Layman 07.30.14 at 9:09 pm

Seth Gordon @ 173

This is actually a pretty stunning indictment of Netanyahu, isn’t it? It seems to create a causal link between killing Palestinian non combatants and his own political fortune.

In any event, ISTM that the Israeli position on the settlements is fundamentally irrational. The choice for Israel is either kill (or subjugate) every Palestinian, or create a legitimate Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Assuming Israel rejects genocide, the settlements will be abandoned to create that state. If the settlements must be abandoned later, why kill people to avoid abandoning them now?

As to your other points, why should the US pay illegal settlers to leave? I guess if that were the price, I’d pay it, but why suggest it? And, if the Palestinian state is to be legitimate, embedded Israeli military bases are a non-starter.

176

J Thomas 07.30.14 at 9:10 pm

“Stop expanding settlements and the US will give settlers a financial incentive to move back within the Green Line” might have been more effective.

We have tried that sort of thing repeatedly. The perfectly natural result is the settlers move back within the green line, take their money, and then move back to their settlements and invite us to pay them to leave again.

France tried that to get rid of some of their algerian citizens. They gave them a one-way plane ticket to leave and never come back. The algerians went home and visited relatives, and then sneaked back.

When we give the Israeli government financial rewards for not officially expanding settlements, those are rewards for not expanding settlements *for a few months*. After they get the rewards then in a lump sum they approve all the new settlement building that they delayed for the reward.

I think this general approach might work better with Hamas than it does with the Israeli government or Israel settlers. If the USA gave Hamas 500 hi-tech missiles for every month they don’t launch any missiles at Israel, we could probably get them not to launch missiles at Israel for well over a year, barring another Israeli invasion etc.

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Seth Gordon 07.31.14 at 12:38 am

Layman: Well, yeah, I have a fairly low opinion of Netanyahu, but the US has to deal with the Israeli government that was actually elected, rather than the one that it wishes had been elected. (Likewise Israel w.r.t. the Palestinian government that was actually elected.)

178

LFC 07.31.14 at 12:56 am

Donald Johnson:
Obama actually came in with a good idea–stop expanding settlements. But –who would have ever guessed?–Congress sided with Netanyahu. Harry Reid sided with Netanyahu. Netanyahu is such a persuasive guy.

Remind me (if you wouldn’t mind b.c I don’t remember) of the legislative proposal(s) Obama made w/r/t settlements that Reid shot down.

179

Layman 07.31.14 at 2:02 am

“Layman: Well, yeah, I have a fairly low opinion of Netanyahu, but the US has to deal with the Israeli government that was actually elected, rather than the one that it wishes had been elected. (Likewise Israel w.r.t. the Palestinian government that was actually elected.)”

Yes, of course, but the US is not entirely a victim of the Israeli electorate. If the US took an unequivocal stand on the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, with the condition that all settlements be abandoned; and if the US predicated aid to Israel and UN Security Council support on that position, I doubt we’d be dealing with Netanyahu.

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Donald Johnson 07.31.14 at 2:18 am

It wasn’t legislative proposals. Obama said that the negotiations for the Palestinian state should be based on the 67 borders. Reid took Netanyahu’s side and said that negotiations should go forward with no preconditions, which is the Israeli formulation that means they don’t want to be tied down by the 67 lines and don’t want to give up settlements.

link

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Seth Gordon 07.31.14 at 2:57 am

Officially, the US government has always held that the settlements are illegal. They just usually don’t make a lot of noise about it, and clearly don’t consider pressuring Israel to give up settlements to be a strategic priority.

US aid to Israel, IIRC, is mostly in the form of credits to buy stuff from US military contractors, and it comes with strings attached to prevent Israel from selling the really good stuff to third parties. One could also see the vast amount of aid going to both Israel an Egypt as bribing both countries’ militaries to not go to war with one another—in which case, hey, it’s working!

182

LFC 07.31.14 at 3:36 am

@D Johnson
I remember that now. As I recall, though cd be wrong, it was something Obama said once and didn’t repeat. But he did say it, so I take the pt. (And yes, I did write upthread that I was done w this thread, didn’t I. Habit intervened.)

183

Donald Johnson 07.31.14 at 3:55 am

“Israel an Egypt as bribing both countries’ militaries to not go to war with one another”

Right now they’re both allies against Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Which is not good for the Gazans.

184

PGD 07.31.14 at 5:00 am

185

roy belmont 07.31.14 at 7:38 am

LFC:
I don’t know anything about the Rania Khalek matter to which you refer, but you seem to be very seriously confused. Some Jews are Zionists. Some aren’t.

It’s not perfect but that’s pretty close to a solid example of what’s wrong here.
LFC is in the dark about Khalek, and evidently not interested enough to use his computer to find out anything about her and the incident I’m referring to, but he feels confident enough to label my writing as anti-Semitic, which is currently two clicks away from being illegal in America, and to call me confused.
When what I said was clear and evident.
Here:
“Asking because I think if we could somehow surgically remove the Zionism from people like Sheldon Adelson, we’d still have a serious problem with people like Sheldon Adelson.”
and
” I’m asking because I’ve started getting physically nauseated at the sight of Jews trying to shift the onus for this shit onto something alien – ‘Zionists’ ‘Israelis’.”

I am not confused about this LFC.
The only way you could think that is if you were willfully ignoring what I’m saying.
I am specifically referring to the ambiguous fog between “Zionist” and “Jew”.
A fog I am not responsible for creating, or perpetuating.
-
Talking about “Egypt”, meaning Mr. General Sisi’s playground now, as anything other than an artificial construct placed there by whatever has brought the US government to its knees and kept it there, is specious, or at best naive as hell.
Pay attention now:
Mubarak, toady to Israel, servant of the CIA.
Arab Spring.
Not toadies, not servants. And Islamic.
Violence. More violence.
State violence, coup.
Sisi, toady to Israel, servant of the CIA.

Stop hiding from it.

186

PatrickinIowa 07.31.14 at 8:03 am

“And only totalitarian countries start punishing entire classes of people such as “zionists” for having the “wrong” beliefs. Well,maybe that’s too strong–the US wasn’t totalitarian during the McCarthy era. But anyway, if the US starts denying security clearances on the basis of people being Jewish, either we’ve headed down a very dark path or we’re already at the end of that very dark path.”

I wonder how many members of the Green party or how many pacifists have security clearances, which is what the original comment was about.

Look at the US naturalization application. You can’t have been a Nazi between the late thirties, and you can’t have been a communist ever. (Hmmmm.)

187

PatrickinIowa 07.31.14 at 8:06 am

Whoops, and the original comment was about denying “zionists” security clearances, not Jewish people.

188

godoggo 07.31.14 at 10:10 am

Oh, shit he’s at it again. Someone should surgically remove that Belmont from the internet.

189

godoggo 07.31.14 at 10:36 am

See a fucking shrink.

190

Ronan(rf) 07.31.14 at 11:07 am

If LFC doesnt know who Rania Khalek is, then he’s a very luck man. Imagine the bliss of being unaware of the existence of Jeffrey Goldberg and you have an idea.

191

godoggo 07.31.14 at 11:25 am

Whatever. Responding encourages insane rants.

192

Ronan(rf) 07.31.14 at 11:36 am

That might be true, although Im interested to hear roys opinion of theodor herzl.

193

godoggo 07.31.14 at 11:47 am

Oh for fuck’s sake.

194

Donald Johnson 07.31.14 at 2:01 pm

“Whoops, and the original comment was about denying “zionists” security clearances, not Jewish people.”

He said this–
———————————
“If the time comes that the US government decides it’s vitally important that zionists not have US security clearances, it will be far easier to tell whether applicants are jewish than whether they are zionists. Similarly, there is this big effort to tell people that there is no zionist conspiracy to subvert the US government to act against the best interest of the USA. “
——————————–

I’ll explain why this is wrong. Shouldn’t be necessary, but I guess it is. Before I do, first, I’m not a Zionist. I just erased a paragraph explaining my position in more detail, then realized “who cares?”

So what is wrong with those two sentences? First there is absolutely no way in hell the US government would refuse security clearances to people because they are Jewish without creating a tremendous and entirely justified uproar over this anti-semitic policy.
At this stage people are thoroughly aware of the dangers of antisemitism and if in spite of this such a policy were actually put into place it would suggest deliberate malice and not just extreme bureaucratic stupidity.

Second, if someone is a spy like Pollard, then jail him. But don’t deny people security clearances because of their political and/or religious beliefs unless you have good reason to think that they are going to be exposing secrets. (Though as it happens sometimes I like it when people expose secrets–like Snowden and Manning and Ellsberg did.) Nazis are an exception. I don’t think too many people think we need Nazis in government. Communists are trickier and I’m going to duck it, since then we get into Oppenheimer and Greenglass and the Rosenbergs and Hiss and Spanish Civil War volunteers and premature antifascists and what people knew about Stalin and what they should have known and so forth. And why would a pacifist want a security clearance? To know who the drone assassination program was going after next? Presumably the whole point of a pacifist security clearance would be to see things you could leak to Glenn Greenwald.

Thirdly, who gets to decide the meaning of the phrase “best interest of the USA” ? I think much of our foreign policy is immoral and has been all along in ways that have nothing to do with Israel. There are people pushing foreign policy in a particular (and in my opinion immoral) direction on Israel and the Middle East, and they’ve had amazing success in getting nearly all of Congress to toe the line on Israel, but there’s a lot of people pushing for immoral policies on all sorts of issues. Most of the people in the Israel Lobby probably think that Israel’s interests and America’s interests (again, whatever the hell those phrases mean) are the same.

195

Bruce Wilder 07.31.14 at 2:54 pm

I do not think it implausible to imagine the story arc of Israeli belligerence to bend in a direction that kindles anti-Semitism in the U.S. I am old enough to remember when Israel was the heroic underdog and Zionism was socialist idealism. The impression carried by the consensus of American or Western public opinion is transformed by the images and narratives of relatively recent events, and there’s an open contest for the world’s opinion regarding the designation of good guys and bad guys.

The U.S. policy in the region has been following a story arc of its own, driven by epic corruption and even more epic failure. The turn from that policy, however it comes about, will involve strong feelings of revulsion, resentment and contempt for those associated with its advocacy. It may be that the innocent, victims and bystanders will be blamed — that’s often been the case in history. I am not imagining justice for the perpetrators. I am considering that the cycles of history stop for no cause.

196

J Thomas 07.31.14 at 3:07 pm

First there is absolutely no way in hell the US government would refuse security clearances to people because they are Jewish without creating a tremendous and entirely justified uproar over this anti-semitic policy.

You are correct in this. Obviously everybody has a right to a security clearance unless there is some strong reason not to give them one, and if someone was denied that right merely because they are a zionist who will share any secrets with our ally Israel it would be a tremendous civil rights issue. If it’s somebody who is not known to be more loyal to Israel than to the USA, if it’s only a 50:50 chance, then almost everybody can see they should get the clearance. Suppose the people who do the clearances think it’s only a 5% chance that this person will spy for Israel, surely if they reject him for that it’s only due to antisemitism.

But if at some point the US government did not consider Israel our most solid ally, that logic might not apply. If we weren’t sure we could trust Israel with all our secrets, then we would not want to give security clearances to Israeli spies.

Second, if someone is a spy like Pollard, then jail him. But don’t deny people security clearances because of their political and/or religious beliefs unless you have good reason to think that they are going to be exposing secrets.

You have a point. It makes a certain sense that people’s right to security clearances is more important than actual security, so we should not deny people clearances just because there is reason to think they will share secrets. Then if they are caught exposing secrets we can punish them.

And yet, despite this point, your position is absolutely batshit insane. If Pollard is reborn and spends his next twenty lifetimes in prison it won’t balance out the treason he did to the USA.

The USA went to great expense building a cryptographic system for military communication. Pollard gave most of the details of that system to Israel, enough to listen in on all our radio military communication. From Israel it went to the USSR, and the russians did listen in on our top-secret military communications.

If the russians had chosen to attack that would likely have been catastrophic. Luckily, they did not.

How could this happen? I see two possibilities. One is that the russians had spies in the Israeli system who sent them the info, just like Pollard sent it to Israel. The other is that the Israeli government chose to give it to the USSR in trade for something else.

Several people who had high-level security clearances have told me that the Israeli government gave our secrets to the USSR as part of the deal to allow Russian Jews to emigrate. I have no way to tell whether this is true. The US government does not think I have a need to know.

Either way, Israel did not keep our secrets. I’m sure most Americans don’t mind Israel knowing all our secrets themselves since after all they are our closest ally, closer than Britain or Canada or Australia. But we don’t want those secrets to go to Russia and whoever the Russians share them with.

And now Israel liberally gives their security clearances to Russian Jews. It makes perfect sense that Israelis from Russia would be patriotic and would never do anything to hurt Israel or the USA, Israel’s only ally. Why would they instead be loyal to Russia? It makes perfect sense that our secrets are just as safe with Israel today as they were in Pollard’s day.

And yet I can imagine circumstances could arise in which the USA took national security as a higher priority than the right of zionists to have US security clearances. A question of national security versus civil rights. Of course usually we think civil rights are more important. But occasionally we decide that the secrets are more important….

197

Ze Kraggash 07.31.14 at 3:28 pm

“If LFC doesnt know who Rania Khalek is, then he’s a very luck man. Imagine the bliss of being unaware of the existence of Jeffrey Goldberg and you have an idea.”

Are we talking about this controversy: http://electronicintifada.net/content/does-nation-have-problem-palestinians/13022 ?

It sounds no different (conceptually) to me than the usual protests against white/male domination.

198

PatrickinIowa 07.31.14 at 3:33 pm

I’m more comfortable with pacifists having security clearances than…well, almost anyone, really.

After all, they won’t be giving US secrets to Israel, which is resolutely for (they believe just) war. Or Russia. Or China. Maybe Switzerland?

I like to imagine a United States where Martin Luther King Jr., or a naturalized Ghandi or even Jesus could be elected to high office and get a clearance. You?

A member of Likud, not so much.

199

Seth Gordon 07.31.14 at 5:14 pm

I do not think it implausible to imagine the story arc of Israeli belligerence to bend in a direction that kindles anti-Semitism in the U.S.

I was raised to believe that human beings, even Gentiles, are moral agents with free will; if they are bigots, that bigotry is their choice, rather than something “kindled” by belligerent Jews an ocean away.

200

Jim Buck 07.31.14 at 6:00 pm

Murderous Zionists using Jews as human shields.

201

john in california 07.31.14 at 6:10 pm

202

godoggo 07.31.14 at 6:11 pm

J Thomas, this whole conversation is unbelievably bizarre.

203

godoggo 07.31.14 at 6:13 pm

Apparently this is tied somehow to your Judaism (and Islam, too!) are evil in contradiction to Christianity (and Buddhism!) view, but really who gives a fuck.

204

Donald Johnson 07.31.14 at 6:19 pm

My impression is that Pollard actually did what he did in part for money. Money sometimes motivates treason. Perhaps we should only hire Franciscan monks for jobs requiring security clearances.

This is a little weird, you know. I’m guessing there are a fair number of supporters of Israel , Jewish and non-Jewish, who work for the government and have security clearances. What do you propose to do about it? Nevermind, don’t answer. Reductio ad absurdum, but I’m afraid you might go there.

I sorta think my previous long post on this was an error in judgment.

205

J Thomas 07.31.14 at 6:31 pm

Apparently this is tied somehow to your Judaism (and Islam, too!) are evil in contradiction to Christianity (and Buddhism!) view

Not evil, just different.

Christianity and Buddhism both have the teaching (very often ignored) to return good for evil, to turn the other cheek, etc. Judaism and Islam mostly do not have that teaching. That does not make them evil.

Surely you have noticed zionists argue that it is right to retaliate at a scale of 77:1 or 300:1 or 1000:1. Americans may actually do that, but christian americans don’t usually argue that it’s undeniably right.

It’s just a different culture, and I don’t say that one is right and another is wrong. I want us to get along, and we do that by recognizing and accepting our differences. Christians tend to preach this (though of course they often do not do it).

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J Thomas 07.31.14 at 7:51 pm

#204

My impression is that Pollard actually did what he did in part for money. Money sometimes motivates treason.

It’s traditional to give spies a little money. They are less likely to get cold feet and quit when it’s a job. Usually they don’t get all that much money — one reason is that if they have enough money to visibly spend more than their paycheck it can attract suspicion, and another reason is that it’s easier on the budget. Pollard is a zionist and the Israeli government publicly shows its loyalty to him. Not just a money relationship.

This is a little weird, you know.

Yes, I very much know. It isn’t just the military. Obama can write a speech mentioning Israel and Netanyahu has a copy long before it’s actually read to the media. But Israel is our closest ally and Obama doesn’t need to keep any secrets from them.

I’m guessing there are a fair number of supporters of Israel , Jewish and non-Jewish, who work for the government and have security clearances. What do you propose to do about it?

Nothing, in the short run. Israel is our closest ally, so why should we be allowed to keep secrets from them any more than we allow Britain or Germany to keep secrets from us?

If the time comes that Israel looks like a threat, a lot of those security clearances will probably be withdrawn. Hard times. But that couldn’t happen unless the US media started publishing things critical of Israel, and how could that happen? Almost no matter what Israel does, that sort of crisis is probably beyond the next 5 or 10 years.

207

LFC 07.31.14 at 8:11 pm

J Thomas
Surely you have noticed zionists [sic -- small "z"] argue that it is right [sic] to retaliate at a scale of 77:1 or 300:1 or 1000:1.

Though not a Zionist, I actually haven’t noticed this. Not that your views of the different religions have any bearing on much of anything.

If you knew something about the history of Zionism, you’d know it was largely a secular movement. There were religious Zionists, but they were never the dominant strand of the movement. Orthodox Jews were, for the most part, not Zionists.

So all your going-on about the supposed links between (your view of) the ‘culture’ of Judaism on one hand and Zionism on the other is largely a load of crap. Take a break from the internet and read a decent book on the history of Zionism, even an old work like Walter Laqueur’s. Jesus Christ.

208

J Thomas 07.31.14 at 8:17 pm

#207 LFC

If you knew something about the history of Zionism, you’d know it was largely a secular movement.

If you want to claim that there were such giant cultural barriers that secular Zionists were uninfluenced by Judaism, and that the Israeli government is uninfluenced by Judaism, go ahead. But I refuse to take responsibility for your assumptions.

209

Seth Gordon 07.31.14 at 8:26 pm

Christianity’s “turn the other cheek” teaching didn’t have much influence on the Christians who joined crusades and pogroms, did it?

210

Donald Johnson 07.31.14 at 8:30 pm

My point, JThomas, is that the vast majority of people with Zionist beliefs don’t go leaking info to Israel if they have security clearances and it’s unfair to assume they would. If some particular individual seems likely to do this for some reason, then I think the Pentagon or whoever will get right on it. From what I’ve read, there’s a tremendous bitterness towards Pollard. I’m backing away from this aspect of the issue now.

211

MPAVictoria 07.31.14 at 8:30 pm

” I’m sure most Americans don’t mind Israel knowing all our secrets themselves since after all they are our closest ally, closer than Britain or Canada or Australia”

Well this is just false.

See:
NORAD as but one of many examples.

212

roy belmont 07.31.14 at 8:39 pm

Rona Kenan says she has been subjected to verbal attacks over a false 2012 report that claims she held a moment of silence for Palestinian martyrs.
[...]
Israeli singer-songwriter Rona Kenan canceled a performance that was supposed to take place Thursday evening in Haifa over fears for her life.

From that notoriously anti-Semitic rag of lunatic vile spew Ha’aretz.
Eli Ashkenaz and Ben Shalev | Jul. 31, 2014
-
And from little Mr.”What’s my being a Jew got do with anything”:
Oh, shit he’s at it again. Someone should surgically remove that Belmont from the internet.
This in a context where children are being burnt on the altars of Jewish delusion, and any criticism of that continuing atrocity is first branded as racist bigotry, then as mental illness, then as both.
A social context where if I said exactly precisely the same thing about him it would be seen by many as an overt act of bigotry, and would endanger my safety even more.
The truth is met with lies and threats of violence.
Humane reactions to inhuman acts are treated as contemptible.
It is a risky thing to speak to this shit honestly. The list of those who learned that the hard way is very long, but still mostly invisible above ground in the US.

Fuck anti-Semitism, fuck accusations of anti-Semitism, and fuck the whimpering frightened apologists for its use as suppressant technology.

213

roy belmont 07.31.14 at 10:02 pm

Seth Gordon at 8:26 pm:

Christianity’s history is kind of bizarre. You have the earliest Christians pursued and persecuted unto death, an underground covert thing. And strangely enough, for all the accusations of bigotry, the epistolary Paul, neeSaul, a Jew whose professional work was hunting down Christians, has his Damascus moment, joins the hunted and is hunted in his turn. By Jews.
That’s in the Bible. As one might expect it’s one of my favorite passages in that long and mysterious book.
Acts 9:
21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?
22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:
24 but their laying wait was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.
25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

It’s the basket that’s so endearing.
By the time of the Crusades, institutional Christianity’s running Western Civilization. And persecuting everyone in sight who’s not inside the walls of the holy fort. Albigenisans!
The documental support for that compassionless institution of intolerance is in the Old Testament, not the Gospels. As is the Biblical support for the rabidly intolerant fundamentalist Christians of America today.
Which is what makes the feeble whining rationalizations of supporters of the monstrous carnage of Gaza so stupid. America did this! Hypocrites!
When the Old Testament was the ethical manual for the cultural genocide of New World indigenes.
That same metaphysical disjunct, within the Judaic community, is a serious concern for those Orthodox Jews who adamantly disassociate themselves from the Zionist project. In my view the most vulnerable of all of us.
Subject to the inevitable backlash of real anti-Semitism that flourishes in a discursive environment where the truth of depravity and iniquity is shouted down by frothing-at-the-mouth lying idiots, and at the same time thye’re subject to antagonism and assault by those same idiots, as well as abandonment by them, when the shit hits the fan.

214

Plume 07.31.14 at 10:10 pm

Roy,

You’re forgetting the New Testament’s End of Days narrative. It calls for the total annihilation of all non-Christians, and their eternal torment. As bad as the Old Testament is when it comes to genocides — and they are all too frequent — the god of the Old Testament at least doesn’t add eternal damnation on top of the slaughter. We can applaud Yahweh for his “restraint” there, at least.

215

godoggo 07.31.14 at 10:11 pm

Duplicate comment: Oh for fuck’s sake.

216

godoggo 07.31.14 at 10:28 pm

Haters gonna hate and ranters gonna rant.

217

Seth Gordon 07.31.14 at 10:48 pm

The documental support for that compassionless institution of intolerance is in the Old Testament, not the Gospels. As is the Biblical support for the rabidly intolerant fundamentalist Christians of America today…. [T]he Old Testament was the ethical manual for the cultural genocide of New World indigenes.

In other words, when Christians massacre heretics and Native Americans, it’s the Jews’ fault.

218

bt 07.31.14 at 10:55 pm

@ Seth 217:

Oh honestly. Now commenting on the the Bible (the old and bloody bit) from a Christian perspective is anti-semitism? Is there nothing can be said about any of this which will not result in claims of anti-semitism? Clearly not, I don’t know why I asked.

Let’s go one step further: I am an Atheist –> I have rejected the Bible. –> I must be an anti-semite.

219

J Thomas 07.31.14 at 10:55 pm

#209 Seth Gordon

Christianity’s “turn the other cheek” teaching didn’t have much influence on the Christians who joined crusades and pogroms, did it?

No, it didn’t. Of course we lack a control group, so we don’t know how much worse they might have been without that teaching.

But without the control group this is what we have. Christians have been exposed to some teachings about nonviolence and a lot of them have been pretty violent. People who follow some other religions have not even had the teachings, and they tend to more upfront about their intentions.

220

bt 07.31.14 at 11:03 pm

And on a similar tack: Are atheist able to look at the Israel/Palestine question more clearly? I suspect yes.

We don’t hate the Jews because they killed our Lord. And we don’t have any real interest in the whole line of thinking that God gave Palestine to the Jews, so it’s OK for them to just take that land from the natives. We are immune to some of the more outlandish baseline assumptions.

221

Donald Johnson 07.31.14 at 11:04 pm

Roy, I think it’s better just to give examples and links. For instance, here’s a link to the short speech given by the president of the New York Board of Rabbis near the UN on Monday–

president of NY board of rabbis

Here’s the interesting part, which starts at about 3:12 in the clip at the link above–

“Ladies and gentlemen let me make something very, very, very clear to all of you gathered. If you are wearing jeans and a t-shirt and you are carrying an AK-47, you are not a civilian, you are a combatant.

When you welcome Hamas into your living room and allow them to launch rockets next to your sofa, you are not a civilian you are a combatant.

When you are part of an election process that asks for a terrorist organization which proclaims in word and in deed that their primary objective is to destroy their neighboring country and not to build schools or commerce or jobs, you are complicit and you are not a civilian casualty.

And lastly when you fail to heed the pamphlets, the phone calls, the text messages and the warning shots telling you to evacuate a building, and instead use yourself as a shield and use innocent children as a shield, you are not collateral damage. When you ignore those very moral warnings and align yourself with Hamas, you are a combatant.”

Starts out okay. Guys with guns are combatants. Check. Gets a little weird with the person who has Hamas launching a rocket next to his sofa. In real life families are blown up in their homes. Gets really interesting with part 3. Now if you voted for Hamas, or that’s sure what it sounds like he means, you’re a legitimate target. Does this apply to Israelis who vote for rightwing parties or support the Gaza campaign?
Part 4 is much like part 2. Sounds great to the true believers in the crowd–sounds like gullible apologetics to anyone else.

Now to be fair, later he has some token mourning for the innocent dead on both sides. It’s not clear who those innocent dead would be. Kids, maybe.

Anyway, that’s some fine ethical advice from the good rabbi. It wouldn’t matter so much–who these days is necessarily shocked to find some clergyperson is a moral imbecile?–but some local politicians also showed up for this event and the crowd that cheered him was the crowd they had to pander to. But would it have gotten more attention if some pro-BDS Presbyterian had said the equivalent of point 3 about Israelis? I suspect it would.

222

J Thomas 07.31.14 at 11:15 pm

#211 MPAVictoria

” I’m sure most Americans don’t mind Israel knowing all our secrets themselves since after all they are our closest ally, closer than Britain or Canada or Australia”

Well this is just false.

A whole lot of Americans don’t seem to mind Israel knowing our secrets, I think that’s true.

See: NORAD as but one of many examples.

Ah, I see what you’re talking about.

Looking back, I see I mis-stated it.

I think a lot of Americans think of Canadians as basicly simple people, unspoiled, and when we ask them to do something for us like NORAD they usually do it. And when they ask us for something like stop dumping acid rain on their forests, we tell them to go to hell. Canada is a good ally to the USA.

On the other hand, when Israel asks the USA for things like cluster bomb technology or deep bunker-busting bombs, or hi-tech ECM, we do it. And then when we ask them to do something like stop building Israeli houses in the West Bank while they try to create the appearance that they are negotiating for peace, they tell us to go to hell. The USA is a good ally to Israel.

In both cases it is not a reciprocal relationship. The USA is Israel’s close ally, Israel’s only ally, but Israel is not the USA’s ally.

223

Seth Gordon 07.31.14 at 11:19 pm

I don’t think you can draw a straight line from the sacred text of any religion to the way practitioners of that religion behave hundreds of years later. Texts don’t interpret themselves; the communities that revere them decide exactly what sort of divine authority resides in them, how to resolve ambiguities and internal contradictions, which parts should be read as metaphor or idiom or literal truth and what the hell “literal” means anyway, and so on.

To say “well, the reason that group X is doing Y is because they have this book that says Z” is the kind of facile argument that bigots love. The Quran says one thing to a contemporary Hamas militant, but it said something completely different to the caliph who hired Maimonides to be his doctor, even if it was letter-for-letter the same document.

I would dare say that the whole idea that you can understand a religion from a plain reading of an English translation of its sacred text comes from Protestant Christianity. (And even Protestants who say they believe in the principle of sola scriptura seem to have trouble agreeing among themselves what the plain and literal meaning of their scriptura is. But that’s their problem, not mine.)

224

J Thomas 07.31.14 at 11:54 pm

#223 Seth Gordon

I don’t think you can draw a straight line from the sacred text of any religion to the way practitioners of that religion behave hundreds of years later. Texts don’t interpret themselves; the communities that revere them decide exactly what sort of divine authority resides in them, how to resolve ambiguities and internal contradictions, which parts should be read as metaphor or idiom or literal truth and what the hell “literal” means anyway, and so on.

I think you’re right. It might be possible to draw some conclusions but it isn’t a straight line deductive process.

I think I see a connection but it’s somewhat tenuous. Like, when the US military does what the Israeli military does, it seems like they know it’s wrong and they kind of look guilty when they come up with excuses.

Remember when we were first invading Iraq, and we kept trying to attack Saddam personally with drones and cruise missiles? We’d get a report he was one place and we’d drop a bomb on him and kill 30 people but not get him. Then we’d hear he was somewhere else and we’d hit again and kill 50 people but not get him. And we argued that people who were near Saddam weren’t innocent or they wouldn’t be close to Saddam….

We bragged about our precision missiles that hit their target precisely without much collateral damage. Then one of them landed in an open-air market and killed a bunch of people. We argued that our missiles never did that, but it was clearly our missile. It turned out the Iraqis were jamming our GPS so the missiles were landing kind of randomly. We got really mad at the Russians for giving Iraq GPS jammers, and Saddam published specs for a $50 GPS jammer. We said the civilian casualties were entirely his fault because if he had not done any jamming and let our missiles land where we aimed them, on his supporters, we wouldn’t have killed innocent civilians.

We were concerned that the Iraqi army might use chemical weapons so we had US soldiers wearing full chemical gear (including a rubber suit) in 90-110 degree temperatures. So we announced that if the Iraqis used poison gas on us, we would use nukes on them. What targets were there that could justify a nuke? As near as I can tell, only cities…. But we said that if we used nukes it was Saddam’s fault.

It’s hard for me to argue that the US military was all that much better than the Israeli military. Our explainers looked like they knew they were lying, they knew they were wrong. The Israeli explainers look like they feel completely justified, like they don’t even know it’s wrong. That isn’t a great big difference.

I think I see a cultural difference in all this. It’s possible I’m wrong. If you claim that you know beyond all doubt there’s no difference between US and Israeli attitudes, I won’t take your word for it but I’ll agree you might be right.

225

godoggo 07.31.14 at 11:59 pm

What an weird description of that war.

226

godoggo 08.01.14 at 12:03 am

“If you claim that you know beyond all doubt there’s no difference between US and Israeli attitudes…”

And if not, then Thomas’s incredibly simple-minded summaries of thousands of years of debate are totally valid.

227

godoggo 08.01.14 at 12:04 am

I personally am not willing to make wild generalizations about millions of people, but I know an asshole when I see one.

228

godoggo 08.01.14 at 12:21 am

My vote for the culture with the nicest people based on my experience is Filipino. If only everybody were just like them there would be peace on earth.

229

J Thomas 08.01.14 at 12:22 am

Godoggo, your argument here has been weak from the start and at last you have given up completely. I accept your capulation. Thank you.

230

godoggo 08.01.14 at 12:24 am

I’m not arguing. I’m expressing disgust.

231

Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 12:25 am

I agree with J thomas. I really cant believe anyone is arguing *against* the proposition that the zionist aristocracy are controlling the world through mindrays, and that the old Hebrew bible (genesis 5) predicts the rise of, and the invasion of the land of the two rivers by, zionlord Bush the first. This is basically fact.

232

bianca steele 08.01.14 at 12:29 am

Ronan @ 231

That’s why I basically am very selective about what SF I read. You got it right exactly: anything about mindrays is understood to be straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

233

roy belmont 08.01.14 at 12:31 am

Seth Gordon:
In other words, when Christians massacre heretics and Native Americans, it’s the Jews’ fault.
Geez dude. So glad to be finally past that “in other words” shit, myself. I mean where you take something someone said and then reduce it to a pithy brevity that is not what they said at all.
But it helps a little. I mean when you do it. I mean it gives one a nice hook.
I mean if one is getting that “in other words” treatment.
There was some patronizing bellowing there, for a while, that American criticism of the genocial attacks on Gaza was hypocritical, because Indians.
I’d like to feel I had something to do with knocking that down.
By pointing out that the ethical compass for European colonialism and cultural genocide was the racist exceptionalism of the OT, and not the spiritual instruction toward compassionate regard for suffering humanity which is an element of both Jewish and Christian mystical practice.
In other words, when Christians massacre heretics and Native Americans in the name of the mighty J-h-v-h in direct contravention of the teachings of Jesus, because they’re deriving their moral guidance from the Old Testament, which was written, albeit some time ago, by Jews, for Jews, about Jews… well what is that?
It is not the “fault” of Allen Ginsberg or Julian Schnabel, certainly. But just as certainly it has nothing to do with “Christianity” except as a subset of Judeo-Christianity.
-
Donald Johnson-
I continue in my admiration for your intelligent restraint, your efforts to articulate the volatile nuances of this explosive area of contemporary affairs.
Attempting to follow your advice, here’s Leonardo Boff, Catholic priest:

They are using all sorts of weapons of destruction. They’ve closed Gaza complete, it has been turned into a concentration camp, and they will destroy it. So you have a country that was the victim of Nazism and uses Nazi methods to create victims. This is the great contradiction.

And the United States supports them — Obama and all the presidents are victims of the great Jewish lobby that has two branches: the branch of the big banks and the media branch. They have enormous power over the presidents who don’t want to alienate them and follow whatever these radical extremist Jews united with the Christian religious Right say. This is combined with a president like Obama who hasn’t the least bit of humanitarian feeling, the compassion to say “stop the slaughter.”

I disagree with him completely about Obama’s character, which isn’t publicly visible. Boff calls Obama a victim, then condemns him for it essentially.
The quote’s in an article at Mondoweiss, by Marc Ellis:

Will Boff’s calling out of the Jewish lobby and radical extremist Jews be relegated to the stereotypes of Jewish control of the global economy and media? Or will those who are interested in the suffering of the Palestinian people place themselves in solidarity with Jews of Conscience who are battling the same forces Boff calls out perhaps in a language that needs a deeper encounter.

Ellis wants us to distinguish between Jews of Conscience and something else, which even he can’t pin definitively, beyond using Boff’s “radical extremist”. In a very real way this trivializes a power that is not at all marginal.
Some readers may note my frustration with that ambiguous fog, above.

https://tinyurl.com/nw2wn2o

234

roy belmont 08.01.14 at 12:37 am

Use of italics for quote of Boff should extend to “stop the slaughter.”
But the lovely quirky sui generis html of this site continues to weave its sinister hamperings all through my grammatical intentions.
I’m actually point of fact too anxious to try to post using “blockquote cite” because I’m afraid of the code. I don’t trust it. It is not my friend.

235

roy belmont 08.01.14 at 12:39 am

And I should add I find Ellis’ erudition and moral stance inspiring.

236

bt 08.01.14 at 1:11 am

@ J Thomas 224:

There is one small difference between US-Iraq and Israel-Occupied Territories:

However mightily we shit on Iraq, and we did shit on Iraq, deep down we did not want to take that land from them, occupy it, kill them all / kick them off it and build a bunch of settlements. We even tried to build some schools and stuff. We totally fucked that up too, and pretty much everything else in Iraq, but it’s something.

It’s a pretty low bar, but we can say to ourselves “At least we’re not as bad as the Israeli’s”.

237

godoggo 08.01.14 at 1:11 am

I don’t particularly, but it’s certainly preferable to frothing-at-the-mouth rants.

238

MPAVictoria 08.01.14 at 1:15 am

“It’s a pretty low bar, but we can say to ourselves “At least we’re not as bad as the Israeli’s”.”

Oh I have to disagree. Iraq never actually attacked the US. The US literally invaded for NO reason. Say what you will about the current situation in Gaza but Hamas has been launching missiles at Israeli. Not saying the current response is justified but still.

239

godoggo 08.01.14 at 1:19 am

Can someone recommend another place for me to kill time? I’ve got some blogs, but they’re not particularly active. Thanx!

240

MPAVictoria 08.01.14 at 1:21 am

“My vote for the culture with the nicest people based on my experience is Filipino. If only everybody were just like them there would be peace on earth.”

Having an Aunt from the area I must say I agree.

241

godoggo 08.01.14 at 1:22 am

The 1st sentence was in earnest.

242

MPAVictoria 08.01.14 at 1:24 am

“Can someone recommend another place for me to kill time? I’ve got some blogs, but they’re not particularly active. Thanx!”

Balloon Juice and Lawyers, Guns and Money are both great. Plus Brad Delong and Krugman’s blogs are always interesting.

What are your other interests? If you like cars, good tv or fashion I have some other suggestions.

243

J Thomas 08.01.14 at 1:26 am

#236 bt

There is one small difference between US-Iraq and Israel-Occupied Territories:

There are lots of differences. The similarities bother me. It has been argued that we should not criticize Israel when we have done things just as bad.

I figure we need to clean up our own government’s act, and also we need to get our government to do less to egg Israel on to doing similar evils.

A lot of Israelis feel like they are facing threats that could kill them. They have the strongest army in the middle east with air superiority wherever they want it. They have nukes, nerve gas, and bioweapons. They have training to use tactics far beyond any plausible enemy, they have full use of US satellite reconnaisance, they are about as much ahead militarily as it’s possible to get — but they don’t feel safe. In the long run they are right. In the long run Israel is a desperately unsafe place to be.

So the USA should make sure they are welcome here, when they are ready to emigrate. The USA should not make it easier for them to attack people, which so far has not made them safer and does not much make them feel safer either.

Working toward these goals is something that Americans can do to clean up our own country. It isn’t about which of the Israelis or the Palestinians are wronger. They’re both wrong but that isn’t the point.

244

godoggo 08.01.14 at 1:28 am

Jazz, mainly, but I’m pretty well covered for that, and the jazz blogs don’t really have active comments these days. The action’s mainly on twitter, and unfortunately, mainly on the east coast.

245

godoggo 08.01.14 at 1:29 am

Oh, maybe I should be looking at forums…

246

MPAVictoria 08.01.14 at 1:30 am

Sorry man, I really don’t have much to offer on the jazz front. Any interest in Swedish Cars? Or movies?

:-(

247

MPAVictoria 08.01.14 at 1:33 am

Any interest in food? Serious Eats is always interesting.

248

godoggo 08.01.14 at 1:39 am

Nah.

249

J Thomas 08.01.14 at 1:49 am

#230 godoggo

I’m not arguing. I’m expressing disgust.

I got that. You were unable to make your points and so this is your fallback. No offense taken.

Now I see that some time ago you said The stupid crap about religions does not help the Palestinian cause. and you were probably taking about me!

I certainly was not trying to help the Palestinian cause. This stupid idea that anything which is good for Palestinians is bad for Israelis and vice versa is keeping people stuck.

I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for the Palestinian attempt to win relative to Israel. I’m more interested in what’s good for the USA and also good for everybody else.

250

godoggo 08.01.14 at 1:55 am

OK, you’re a hard right winger. Not particularly interested in you.

As I said, I don’t make wild generalizations about millions of people, but I’m quite happy to dismiss loathsome individuals out of hand.

251

LFC 08.01.14 at 1:57 am

Godoggo:
Can someone recommend another place for me to kill time?

Re blogs and such, here are some (that don’t duplicate MPAV’s previous suggestions), in no special order:
1) Timothy Burke’s blog — link on the CT sidebar
2) Duck of Minerva
3) Smoke & Stir, though I haven’t been by there for more than a second in quite a
long time
4) U.S. Intellectual History blog (usu. serious, often long-ish posts)
5) Thus Blogged Anderson (yes, the Anderson who comments here)
6) PubEditor
7) Best of Both Worlds — link at the CT sidebar
8) GoodMorningAfrika (in French, in case you can do that or sort-of-do-it-get-the-gist-from-the-context, whatever)
9) too modest to link my own blog [cough] not really, it’s just that there’s not too much going on there right now, and prob won’t be for at least a few wks i wd think

252

godoggo 08.01.14 at 1:57 am

Thanks.

253

MPAVictoria 08.01.14 at 2:03 am

Good suggestions LFC. I just thought of another one. Gin and Tacos.

254

bt 08.01.14 at 2:14 am

mpa victoria / 242:

As far as the Israelis responding to rocket fire, I’m one of the people who feel that in the tit for tat world of the Israeli-Palestinian war, the Zionists were the initial aggressors, if you look at this from the very beginning. Way back in the time of “A Land with No People for a People with No Land”. It is important to understand that.

And that the Palestinians keep losing, no matter what they do. Really, at this point, they should throw down their guns, cry uncle, sing “we shall overcome” and immediately demand full Israeli citizenship. Now THAT would freak out the Israeli’s like never before.

255

Donald Johnson 08.01.14 at 2:18 am

Boff lives in Brazil, so he probably doesn’t know the US political scene that well, so he falls back on traditional antisemitic cliches. Yes, there’s a Lobby (and I think they are bigots) and you can see the results in the almost unanimous support Israel gets in Congress when there’s a significant minority of Americans who disagree–you’d usually expect some of that to be loudly reflected in Congress, but not on this. On the other hand, it’s a pretty narrow sort of great power–talking the way Boff does you’d think, well, what antisemites usually think, that Jews control every damn thing. The Israel right or wrong crowd has a hammerlock on Israel policy because there’s nobody else on that particular issue who cares enough and has the money or votes to make a difference. Take me. I really don’t like our Israel policy, as people might have gleaned. But if Elisabeth Warren gets the Democratic nomination for President (no idea if she is interested, of course) I’d vote for her in a heartbeat, though I saw recently a video of her literally running away from someone asking her about Gaza. I’m not a single issue voter (or donor, if I had enough money for that to matter). The Lobby is composed of people who are single issue voters and/or donors. Criticize Israel a little too much and you are dead to them. Politicians don’t need that.

The media is another story. Here my guess is that guilt over antisemitism and the Holocaust have given Israel a mostly free pass, along with people willing to yell antisemite at people who are one bit more critical of Israel than they want to hear. Plus there is the cultural bias–Israelis are seen as like Us and the Palestinians are the Other. I wrote/ranted about that way upthread. Possibly this bias is starting to end–the press in the US has been startling critical of Israel at times in the past couple weeks.

256

MPAVictoria 08.01.14 at 2:36 am

“I’m one of the people who feel that in the tit for tat world of the Israeli-Palestinian war, the Zionists were the initial aggressors”

Debatable to say the least….

257

Donald Johnson 08.01.14 at 3:18 am

“Really, at this point, they should throw down their guns, cry uncle, sing “we shall overcome” and immediately demand full Israeli citizenship”

Exactly what they should do. Even Henry Siegman, who seems to be clinging to his liberal Zionism by his fingertips, said pretty much this on Democracy Now just recently. His point was the Israeli Jews (obviously not the Israeli Palestinian citizens, not that they count) might be so freaked out they’d offer a 2SS . I’m not sure that’s true. But it would be an improvement over the current state of affairs.

link

258

Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 3:23 am

I do hate to say it but it seems a pretty significant amount of the opposition to Israel is just straight out anti semitic at this stage; the dog whistling ‘zionist’, the outrageously nonsensical theories about how much control ‘the lobby’ have over US policy, the endless caricaturing and bringing up religious dogma as if it was in any way relevant.
I’ve always pushed against that idea b/c (1) Israel is primarily in the wrong here IMO and (2) PC is a scourge, but christ almighty a grip needs to be got, I would think.
(and it’s not just implying anti semitic tropes, it’s explicitly selling them as high theory)

259

Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 3:25 am

cross posted with d johnson so not applicable to him, but still stands as a semi generality.

260

Anarcissie 08.01.14 at 3:29 am

Donald Johnson 08.01.14 at 3:18 am
‘ “Really, at this point, they should throw down their guns, cry uncle, sing “we shall overcome” and immediately demand full Israeli citizenship….” ‘

I’ve suggested that in various places and it did not go over too well. It would create a rather interesting problem, given its resonance with the racial structure and history of the U.S. But I think Palestinians would continue to be killed, tortured, locked up, and have their houses blown up, so I suppose they prefer to go on as they are.

261

godoggo 08.01.14 at 3:35 am

“PC is a scourge”

No. PC is not a scourge.

262

Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 3:37 am

I would say the problem in Palestine is a succesion of laws, practices, procedures and policies built up over time, reinforced by succesive policy, locked in by a variety of special interests and completly unsolvable unless the solution is practically forced on the Israelis by an outside power (the US and EU) The idea that the solution can come domestically (through non violence in Palestine or domestic pressure in Israel) is completly contradicted by the history.

263

Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 3:39 am

@261 ok not a scourge

264

roy belmont 08.01.14 at 3:41 am

While we’re waiting for a lengthy post to clear moderation, with quotes in it from B’Tselem and DemocracyNow! among other vile-spewing bastions of anti-Semitism, let me just say that this:
Here my guess is that guilt over antisemitism and the Holocaust have given Israel a mostly free pass
Donald Johnson, is the most Freudian thing of yours I’ve ever read.

265

Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 3:42 am

not sarcasm, scourge was over the top.

266

Anarcissie 08.01.14 at 3:49 am

The point of a non-violent demand for full citizenship with equal legal and political rights in Israel for the Arabs would be precisely to drive a wedge between the rightist/tribalist government and most of their local and American support systems, who claim to espouse other principles. A liberal Israeli government might be able to finesse such a demand with some kind of Bantustan arrangement, but I don’t see how the tribalists can do it, given their constituency and its passions.

267

Kate 08.01.14 at 3:54 am

@Donald Johnson 07.30.14 at 7:14 pm

And now see what Rep. Ellison actually said.

268

Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 3:56 am

@264
Okay, but let’s put it this way. Over the last few days US elites and media have heard from a Syrian defector documenting unimaginable crimes commited by As’ad (which might, I hate to say, need to be treated with a little bit of scepticism, but the general point is true) Why hasnt this been a major story and why arent well known activists protesting outside US immigation to allow in Syrian refugees ?
I think it’s pretty obvious Israel doesnt get a ‘free pass’ in public opinion,while some some Arab regimes do(within Washington and the US media is another story, but any regime allied with the US will get a free pass for obvious reasons)
Why go down this rabbit hole ? This is all pretty explainable with logic and a basic analysis of a countries political economy without resorting to overwrought theorising ?

269

Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 4:00 am

*country’s*

@266 – My opinion? A non-violent demand for equal citizenship will be ignored/shut down.
An actual realisation of the ‘one state solution’ will descend into communal violence.

270

Anarcissie 08.01.14 at 4:01 am

Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

271

godoggo 08.01.14 at 4:28 am

“I do hate to say it but it seems a pretty significant amount of the opposition to Israel is just straight out anti semitic at this stage”

I don’t think it’s really that much. The internet can sometimes be deceptive that way.

I don’t like that the thread has become so much about antisemitism. It really isn’t that important in the scheme of things.

272

Donald Johnson 08.01.14 at 4:32 am

Hm, Roy, embarrassed to say I’m not getting it. If you’re saying I’m describing myself, I think that in the past that’s correct. I’ve left my religion out, as I usually do around here , but I’m a generic sort of Protestant and among some Protestants (and Catholics) there’s an awareness and shame over the long history of Christian antisemitism. I think that must inhibit criticism of Israel. People don’t want to say anything that someone might think is antisemitic. I have a friend many years ago who said in some shock that his brother-in-law actually believed that the US supported Israel as much as it did because of a Lobby. He obviously thought this was an example of his brother-in-law’s antisemitism. Very PC. The irony was that he was a liberal who thought he hated PC thinking. I asked him why he thought we supported Israel and he answered, very confident “Oh, because they are a democracy.” I hemmed about that, but then changed the subject. This sensitivity towards antisemitism is a necessary corrective for previous centuries , but on the I/P conflict it has inadvertently become a cover for anti-Palestinian bias. Then among the evangelicals there’s all that End Times theology where one has to support Israel or God will think very poorly of you. So now I’m dragging religion into it, but I’m talking about my own and what I think I’ve seen and also felt. No idea how one would try to prove or disprove it–probably some clever sociologist or religious studies type could think of something.

Anyway, what I’d like to see, if appointed grand dictator of the discussion of the I/P conflict, is a recognition of the bigotry that underlies most defenses of Israel’s behavior, and how the Israel Lobby has way too much influence on this issue, but I don’t want to extend this into some grander theory of society, where it turns into antisemitism again. On most issues, Adelson is a rich jerk because he’s a rich jerk. On Israel and Iran and the Palestinians, his ethnicity influences the sort of jerk he is and so Chris Christie (another jerk of a different ethnicity) has to apologize for using the term “occupied territories”.

273

J Thomas 08.01.14 at 6:03 am

#256

“I’m one of the people who feel that in the tit for tat world of the Israeli-Palestinian war, the Zionists were the initial aggressors”

Debatable to say the least….

It’s not worth debating. When you have a feedback cycle, where everybody is responding to the last thing the other guy did, arguing about who started it in the first place is completely useless — except for choosing sides. If you want to decide which side to join, so that if enough people join that side they can WIN and end the cycle that way, then I guess maybe it could be useful.

But I don’t see a win here anytime soon.

When it’s a cycle of revenge after awhile it doesn’t really matter which side made the very first corpse. After that corpse is at the bottom of a big enough pile….

The important thing is to find a way to stop the cycle. But there are people who lust after continuing the cycle.

274

roy belmont 08.01.14 at 6:10 am

Well Donald I don’t know. Your explication of not getting it pretty much seems to confirm it. Let’s try a thought problem.
Idi Amin – sociopathic cannibal tyrant, as near as I can tell, never having met the man when he was alive (and believe me I do not want to meet him in he afterlife, no sir I do not).
But I think we agree that the treatment of black Africans by white Europeans has been reprehensibly racist and unjust for centuries. Yet somehow we can find it in our hearts to say harshly critical things about his cannibalistic sociopathy just the same. Without worrying about appearing racist ourselves. And without the mantras attendant on criticism of Jewish behaviors. Without rationalizing his depravity into some back formation of white guilt.
Amin’s disgusting amorality might be defended by some delusional POC, but we’d automatically dismiss that out of hand. It isn’t morally complex, he was a despicable human being, his blackness was an inseparable part of who he was – he was an African “big man” – but the criticism of his character is still easily brought into a public discussion without any guilt or fear of being accused of racism.
You haven’t yet delivered an explanation for the American news blackout, and the parallel total domination of Congress, plus I’d add the public squirming of Kerry and Obama, two man I believe who still possess functioning consciences, who are obviously being leaned on heavily. Obama’s vulnerable to the explanatory cliche of greed, he wants the 7 figure payoffs Clinton and his bride are enjoying, but I don’t think that’s a full enough story.
So reluctantly, without beating around it, I have to say that you’re seeing Jewish power in the US as passive, and psychologically manipulating, because that’s how it works on you. I see it as active covert, criminal, and ruthless.
Little Mr. “What’s my being a Jew got do with anything” says anti-Semitism isn’t important, and I agree. But charges of anti-Semitism?
In a social climate where someone like you is an outlier on what passes for the American left, those charges are enough to break lives, provably, repeatedly. That’s not victimhood playing on guilt, that’s coercion, and it’s disgusting.

275

bt 08.01.14 at 6:18 am

mpa victoria @ 256:

If it’s debatable that the zionists ‘started it’, please proceed. As I understand it, things were sort of OK there, until a bunch of Europeans decided that they wanted a new country, and they wanted in Palestine. The fabled “Land with no people for a people with no land”.

You’d have to convince me that a bunch of Jewish people from Europe have a greater claim to that land than the people living there, and they have a right to take that land from the Natives. It really was a classic colonial enterprise, in the sense that a group of Europeans felt they could just start a new country on land that was – well – already occupied. Because they were superior, and felt they had the means and the power to make it stick.

Unfortunately, the time for this kind of colonization was more or less over, and the ethnic cleansing required to really finish the deal can’t survive modern media scrutiny. America’s mis-treatment of the native Americans wouldn’t have gone over any better in a modern world than Israel’s treatment of the native Palestinians has. Israel can’t just slaughter them like we slaughtered the Indians. So here we are.

———————————–

As for the notion of an exclusive ethnic-religious nation state in an increasingly secular multi-national, multi-ethnic world? I just don’t get it. It sure doesn’t sound like a place I could live in. It’s like the Taliban and Sharia law – it’s not a good idea at all (anti-semitism not required).

276

J Thomas 08.01.14 at 6:34 am

#260

“Really, at this point, they should throw down their guns, cry uncle, sing “we shall overcome” and immediately demand full Israeli citizenship….”

I’ve suggested that in various places and it did not go over too well. It would create a rather interesting problem, given its resonance with the racial structure and history of the U.S. But I think Palestinians would continue to be killed, tortured, locked up, and have their houses blown up, so I suppose they prefer to go on as they are.

I’ve heard that this is being actively debated among some Palestinians. It would take time for them to agree about it, if they ever agree about anything.

Another possibility might be for Palestinians to petition to become a US territory and throw themselves on US mercy. While the obvious choice for us would be to refuse, just stay out of it, suppose we didn’t? How much of the West Bank would we give to Israel if it was ours? If we were responsible for stopping attacks from Palestine on Israel, how much would we tolerate Israeli attacks on our own territory and our own troops? Presumably we would give Israel the right to pump as much water out of the West Bank as they already do, but we might get annoyed if they kept pumping more and more.

And assuming we did refuse, the Palestinians would not lose much of anything by asking.

Some years ago I thought to suggest the possibility to the PA, but their website was consistently down. Google said they had a consulate in the USA, but when I tried to check that it turned out to be run by a Palestinian-American university professor and his website was under continual attack and stayed down. I sent an email to his personal address and quite reasonably got no reply.

They have some functioning websites now.
http://www.pcbs.gov.ps/site/lang__en/628/default.aspx

277

godoggo 08.01.14 at 6:58 am

Oh, well. I’m kind of pissed off, but I shan’t rant about it.

278

godoggo 08.01.14 at 7:05 am

It goes nowhere. It never will go anywhere.

279

godoggo 08.01.14 at 7:06 am

And it doesn’t matter.

280

godoggo 08.01.14 at 7:15 am

Roy: over-the-top rants of pure hate seem to be your default mode. Have been for a long time. There came a point about a month ago where I just said, “Fuck this piece of shit.”

Your turn.

281

J Thomas 08.01.14 at 8:08 am

#274 bt

You’d have to convince me that a bunch of Jewish people from Europe have a greater claim to that land than the people living there, and they have a right to take that land from the Natives. It really was a classic colonial enterprise, in the sense that a group of Europeans felt they could just start a new country on land that was – well – already occupied. Because they were superior, and felt they had the means and the power to make it stick.

Abstract claims are not really the issue here. They themselves believe they are justified, and they have a lot of power. While the USA backs them, nobody can force them to back down — if necessary they can call on the US military to protect them, though so far they have not needed the US military except to provide them with intelligence, satellite photos, advanced military equipment, pilot training, etc.

If they lost US support, they might still have a lot of spies throughout the US government and military. If it came to a fight, say the US Navy tried to blockade their coast, they might have access to the codes and the ECM that would let them sink US aircraft carriers. And they have nukes. We cannot ignore their opinions.

It really does not matter whether they are morally right, unless you can persuade them to follow some other course, or unless they find their current approach untenable but have a better alternative available to them.

But I am an American, and I have to consider who we are. We are not one tribe. If we give up the idea that we are a melting-pot where everybody gives up their tribal identity and becomes mass-culture consumers, then we must be a nation of many tribes that get along.

And that is what we must encourage for other nations too, within reason. We tend to get along well with other nations that are not tribal, where the tribes are not busy fighting each other. Sometimes tribes can do a degree of ethnic cleansing and separate into nations that get along as well as India and Pakistan or Bosnia and Serbia. Other times they do better to try to arrange a democratic government and try to coexist, like Lebanon or Northern Ireland or Libya or the USA.

It isn’t our business to get involved in a foreign tribal conflict and decide which tribe wins unless there’s something in it for us. And that’s what we’re doing in Israel, where there is no possible advantage for the USA.

282

Ze Kraggash 08.01.14 at 8:13 am

There is no “one state solution”, because Israel is “Jewish State”. There is no “two state solution” because Israel is too powerful to compromise, and – this is important – because Israel is “Jewish State”, and so it won’t agree to the right of return of 6 million Palestinian refugees, the main underlying issue. There is no solution as long as Israel is “Jewish State”.

283

Donald Johnson 08.01.14 at 2:14 pm

Roy, you weren’t really listening there. I just wrote a long post and deleted it. I’ve said it all before. Summarizing

1. The Israel lobby is very very successful with politicians
2. Criticizing the Lobby is necessary.
3. Criticizing anti-Palestinian bigotry in the Jewish community (those parts which are guilty of it, the kneejerk Israel supporters) is necessary. They’ve gotten a free pass to accuse others of antisemitism when they are living in a glass house.
4. Extending this to some general theory of Jews controlling everything is wrong in so many ways, but one of them is this–it discredits people trying to make points 1, 2, and 3.
This hurts Palestinians, who are suffering and dying because of the nearly unbreakable support the US gives to their oppressors.

Okay, now I’m done.

284

Anarcissie 08.01.14 at 2:45 pm

Ze Kraggash 08.01.14 at 8:13 am @ 282 — It’s not up to the Palestinians to solve the tribal-state conundrum. A sustained nonviolent demand for equal legal and political rights would resonate strongly with people in Europe and the Americas, and might thereby deprive the present tribalist regime of its support system. It would then have to change in some way. As present conditions are bad (to say the least) the new situation might be better.

I have heard that advocating a non-violent civil rights movement for Arabs in Israel/Palestine is a good way to get killed. If so the idea must have some validity.

285

J Thomas 08.01.14 at 3:09 pm

#283 Donald Johnson

Roy, you weren’t really listening there.

Looking at your clear summary, I think you and Roy pretty much agree about US support for Israel (apart from rhetorical style).

Here my guess is that guilt over antisemitism and the Holocaust have given Israel a mostly free pass
Donald Johnson, is the most Freudian thing of yours I’ve ever read.”

Hm, Roy, embarrassed to say I’m not getting it.

“Well Donald I don’t know. Your explication of not getting it pretty much seems to confirm it.”

I’m not clear what he meant about Freudian. I think when you said you didn’t get it, you were saying that you didn’t understand that line either. And I think he thought you were saying that you didn’t get his point, as if you disagreed with him about something important.

So it turned into this multi-comment misunderstanding about a very minor point, when about the main issue you both were saying just about the same thing.

It’s easy for that to happen.

Your main point of disagreement is that you object to him extending the idea that zionists control US middle east policy, to the idea that US Jews control a whole lot, and one reason is that this makes it harder to help the Jews who have more enlightened ideas about Israel to prevail over the worse ones.

286

MPAVictoria 08.01.14 at 3:17 pm

“Roy, you weren’t really listening there.”

Your first mistake was expecting him to listen….

287

Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 3:42 pm

“Your main point of disagreement is that you object to him extending the idea that zionists control US middle east policy, “

Well this itself is wrong. Zionists *don’t* ‘control’ US Middle East policy. US middle east policy is influenced by a number of factors, one of which might be Israeli lobbying, but really not to the extent that you’re implying. The Israel lobby has significant influence over Israel/Palestine policy for sure, but that’s a more limited claim(and might not even be particularly noteworthy if compared to other similar ethnic/nationalist lobbies; the Cuban lobby, Indian Lobby, perhaps at time Irish etc)

My main problem with roys verbiage isn’t that it’s bigotted(which it is) or even that he’s making the same point as others though badly(he’s not) but that’s it’s wrong, or at least incomprehensible.(as an argument)

anyway, on your sentence:

“Your main point of disagreement is that you object to him extending the idea that zionists control US middle east policy, to the idea that US Jews control a whole lot, and one reason is that this makes it harder to help the Jews who have more enlightened ideas about Israel to prevail over the worse ones.”

Do you not see that there’s a big gap(and huge area for disagreement) between thinking “zionists control US middle east policy” and ” US Jews control a whole lot” ? Do you really not see how someone could hold the first opinion (though I think it’s wrong and simplistic) while finding the second nonsensical ? It’s not a minor disagreement it’s a completly different argument.

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Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 3:55 pm

..anyway, I actually regret wasting my time responding tbh. The thread has gone so far down into nutball territory that there really isn’t any coming back.

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Ze Kraggash 08.01.14 at 3:58 pm

Anarcissie 08.01.14 at 2:45 pm, 284

You should read some critique of the BDS movement. It’s okay to demand an end of the occupation of the WB and East Jerusalem, and of the blockade of Gaza, but threatening the sacred cow of “Jewish State” is, in the current climate, out of the question. It’s a call to destroy Israel. It makes you a gullible or terrible person, or possibly a Nazi. And surprisingly this POV is advocated even by people like Chomsky and Finkelstein, which is weird; I don’t know what to make of it.

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Donald Johnson 08.01.14 at 4:17 pm

“And surprisingly this POV is advocated even by people like Chomsky and Finkelstein, which is weird; I don’t know what to make of it.”

More Finkelstein than Chomsky–Chomsky’s response to the critics of his criticism of BDS was in the most recent Nation, I think. I thought it was conciliatory and not demonizing.

Finkelstein hasn’t said BDS is antisemitic or Nazi-like–he thinks it’s ridiculous or self-defeating or immature to go for a 1SS when in his mind a 2SS is part of the international consensus. But Finkelstein being Finkelstein, he never seems to disagree with anyone without using heated rhetoric. I don’t think he could dial it down if he wanted to.

There’s too much infighting among pro-Palestinian types in the US, from what I can see. Which is absurd, but it’s part of the tradition of the far left to compete in moral purity.

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J Thomas 08.01.14 at 6:09 pm

#287 Ronan(rf)

Do you not see that there’s a big gap(and huge area for disagreement) between thinking “zionists control US middle east policy” and ” US Jews control a whole lot” ?

Sure, but it isn’t a disagreement about US middle-east policy, or about Israel, which is the topic of interest.

Do you really not see how someone could hold the first opinion (though I think it’s wrong and simplistic) while finding the second nonsensical ?

Yes of course I do. I pointed out that Donald disagreed with Roy about this.

For myself, no matter how abhorrent an idea seems, I try to check whether it’s true before I claim it’s false.

Roy claimed that a whole lot of people in the media are Jewish, and that they strongly bias the news. How would I find out whether a whole lot of people in the media are Jewish? It seems silly to for example count the ones that appear to have Jewish names. And it’s such a muddle. It’s usually unambiguous to tell whether somebody is Catholic. But being Jewish — is it a race, or a religion, or an ethnicity? Orthodox Jews say that you can be Jewish based on your ancestry, regardless of what you believe or who raised you. That’s race. But also you can convert if you are persistent enough, that’s religion. You can also be raised Jewish and an atheist from the earliest age you understand the concept, and that makes you Jewish. Ethnicity. I’d feel uncomfortable deciding who’s Jewish if they don’t come out and tell me. As far as I’m concerned they’re Christian if they say they’re Christian, and Jewish if they say they’re Jewish, but a significant number of Jews disagree with that method to decide who’s Jewish.

I’m going to put that aside entirely. Do media figures who are not Jewish display any less public media Zionism than media figures who are Jewish? No. If they work for CBS or the New York Times they don’t decide what slant to put on things. They do their jobs. Their editors or managers tell them what slant to use, and if they don’t do it they get in trouble. And the editors/etc don’t decide, it goes all the way to top management if top management cares. Who’s on top, are they Jewish? I mostly can’t guess at that. There are a few famous influential people like the Koch brothers who have some influence. Are the Koch brothers Jewish? Wikipedia does not mention any religion for them, or any Jewish ancestry, or any Jewish ethnicity. Whether or not they are Jewish, they would be only the most famous and it would say nothing about others. I don’t know how to find out whether being Jewish has any importance in all that. It’s pretty much secret.

What I know is that the rich people who control the media are conservatives. And conservatives are mostly rabid Zionists whether they are Jewish or not.

Anyway there’s no proof that the media influences public opinion. Maybe the media is absurdly pro-Zionist because the public is absurdly pro-Zionist and the media merely tells them what they want to hear. Maybe the media doesn’t really have any influence at all.

Roy seems to think that Jewish bankers are important. It’s true that a lot of Jewish people go into banking. But it’s the same story again, lower-level people who work in banks don’t decide policy. Maybe being Jewish is no benefit if you’re looking for a banking job, maybe people who are Jewish are particularly good at qualifying for those jobs on their merits, and anyway it doesn’t matter. Are the top people Jewish? Some of them are. Do they have a Jewish cabal that influences the economy and sucks money from it? I don’t know how to tell. There are various cabals that do that, that compete. After 2008 the government bailed some of them out and allowed others to fail. It’s plausible to me that each of the cabals might have some Jewish members just because they’re available and competent, and that being Jewish has no more to do with it than which WWE matchup you root for. Just as each professional baseball team will have some Jewish players, but none of them is a Jewish baseball team. I don’t know how to find out whether being Jewish has any importance in all that. It’s secret.

It seems to me that Roy is reasoning from consequences. The people who have power unconditionally support Israel. That makes them Zionists. Many Jewish people are Zionists, and it doesn’t really make sense for anybody else to be Zionists or to unconditionally support Israel. Therefore the powerful people are Jewish. There’s a certain plausibility to it but this sort of reasoning can easily be wrong.

At some time in the future when the US public perceives that Zionism has hurt them, they might easily follow this logic. They might blame Jews for getting them hurt, when really it’s Zionists who did it. They might blame Jews who are in fact innocent. The large majority of Jewish people are not rich and powerful Zionists in a conspiracy to support Israel. But they could get blamed anyway.

Of course, when the media cannot say anything that sounds antisemitic that would do a lot to keep Americans from making that mistake. People trust the media to tell them the truth, right? So if the media doesn’t say anything antisemitic then the public won’t think anything antisemitic. Right?

And people will tend not to jump to conclusions. There’s no evidence whether Jewish conspiracies are important or not, and people won’t assume they are important unless they get solid evidence that they are. Right?

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Harold 08.01.14 at 6:42 pm

Israel is not “a state like any other”. It is not a secular state.

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J Thomas 08.01.14 at 6:56 pm

#292 Harold

Israel is not “a state like any other”. It is not a secular state.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_religion
There are a lot of nations that are not secular states.

You might be looking for something more focused.

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roy belmont 08.01.14 at 7:15 pm

This post was hung in moderation, then disappeared. I took out the links, but the sources should be easy to find
-
Hamas has been launching missiles at Israeli

“I know this because I saw it on a very important news show, with very important graphics, and a live segment featuring a very important journalist who was actually there, actually in Israel, and actually had to run for his life from the missiles, into an actual bomb shelter.”

On the other hand, since this atrocity began on 8 July:
More than 77% of Palestinians killed are civilians, a third of the casualties are women and children. Over 1400 human beings killed. 300 of them children. The injured number over 8,000.
Gazans live in an open-air prison and their houses are being destroyed. They are taking refuge in schools and the schools are being bombed. They are taking their injured to hospitals, and the hospitals are being bombed.

97+% of Israeli deaths are soldiers.
“Since the operation began and until the evening of 31 July 2014 two Israeli civilians, one foreign national and 56 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Israel and the Gaza Strip.”
Two. And one of them was bringing snacks to the military when he was killed.

Israel uses phosphor and flechette weapons, both outlawed by international law, because of their monstrously inhuman effects.
Israel targets hospitals, refugee centers, schools. Then simpers that there were rockets in them. As if that justifies killing children. Then says the children are being used as human shields. As if that justifies killing children.

From B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization
Testimony of an ISM volunteer in Gaza:
We started walking and soon after, we met a young man who lived in the neighborhood. He wanted to reach his home to check on his family.
[...]
He asked us to help him and accompany him. He said he’d been out of the neighborhood when it was bombed and didn’t know if his family had managed to leave it.
[...]
All I could see now was destruction, rubble, like the aftermath of a tornado. Every single house and shop had been hit by at least one shell. There were blood stains everywhere.
[...]
We managed to walk just a few steps more when we heard a single gunshot. The young man fell to the ground. He had been hit in the upper leg. I shouted out to him and asked if he could move, so that he could crawl over to me. He said he couldn’t. I didn’t manage to say anything else before I heard two more shots, and then the young man stopped moving. I guess it was a direct hit to his chest. I heard him recite a prayer and then I think he died.

Huffington Post:
After a United Nations-run school sheltering more than 3,000 Palestinians was shelled early Wednesday, UN official Chris Gunness could not contain his grief while on camera with Al Jazeera Arabic.
“The rights of Palestinians, and even their children, are wholesale denied… and its appalling,” Gunness, spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), told Al Jazeera Arabic from Jerusalem.
The interviewer appears to thank him for appearing, upon which Gunness breaks down and weeps.

DemocracyNow! on the same incident
Sharif Abdel Kouddous:
At least 15 people have been killed, according to the Health Ministry. Up to 20 health officials in the Kamal Adwan Hospital nearby said that it was in fact 20 people had been killed, including at least one child. And many of these people, as I mentioned, had come—they come with nothing, usually just the clothes on their back. A lot of them are very poor, and they come with donkey carts. And outside the school, there was—a lot of the donkeys had been killed. There’s these dead animals outside the school as a result of the shelling.
As you mentioned, the United Nations had given the coordinates of the school to the Israeli military, according to the spokesperson, at least 17 times. And now people don’t know where to go. When you speak to the survivors, they don’t know whether to stay at the school. They think now schools are no longer safe. At least six schools have been targeted since this conflict began. And they don’t know what to do, where to go.
They don’t have—many of them don’t have relatives to go to because entire neighborhoods have been displaced.

Displaced, or bombed into dust.

“At least 17 times”
Israel, the most moral army in the world.
There are Mexican drug cartels with higher ethical standards than the Israeli military.

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Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 7:45 pm

Okay j thomas, Ill leave it there on that.
This is worth reading for anyone interested, particularly on how sterile writing/analysis etc has become on the Middle East, especially when viewed through the prism(only) of Orientalism, zionism, US power, anti colonialism etc or any of the other frames used for the past 5 plus decades.

http://www.thenation.com/article/180663/writers-or-missionaries?page=full#

I think there’s a lot to it:

“Writing about the region, never an easy undertaking, is likely to become still more difficult. I am not sure whether the most influential current of oppositional thinking about the Middle East is equipped to deal with the changes the region is undergoing. I am referring to the critique of Orientalism that Edward Said initiated. This style of thinking was formative for me, but I fear that it has congealed into an orthodoxy; and, as George Orwell wrote, “orthodoxy, of whatever colour, seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style.” That we are now able to have a more open conversation about Palestine, that students are mobilizing against the occupation, is welcome; but Palestine is not the Middle East, and it seems peculiar, if not myopic, to talk about Palestine as if it were insulated from the rest of the region. And while it is understandable that young American students are particularly concerned about their government’s policies in the region, these policies do not wholly determine its shape and direction. America’s power in the Middle East has weakened, though not in favor of forces that most of us would consider progressive. Today, we are witnessing a tacit alliance of Israel, the military regime in Egypt and the Gulf states—particularly Saudi Arabia—against Iran, with which the United States, in conflict with its own regional allies, is seeking rapprochement. The latest Israeli offensive in Gaza is a measure of how marginal Palestine has become to the agenda of Arab states.”

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roy belmont 08.01.14 at 7:51 pm

Of course the horrific numbers are now, a day later, much larger.
1600 dead
8760 injured
9245 houses have been totally destroyed

It is cowardice pure and simple to run away from the fact that without control of the media this carnage would outrage Americans, who are in the main decent, moral people.
Their sources of information are distorted by Jewish chauvinists, who hide their intrigue behind an impenetrable wall of “it’s anti-Semitic to claim that Jews run US media”.
When the slightest research shows that in fact Jews do run US media. Rania Khalek went up against a small venue, the Nation, and was attacked for pointing out the demographic anomaly on its masthead. CNN, FOX, MSNBC remain monolithic and unchallenged.
You don’t want that to be true and you’re enabled in your pretense. Just don’t look and it won’t be there.
The overlap of Zionist partisanship and American Jewish interests in mainstream media isn’t a sliver on some minority Venn diagram, it’s the functional totality of the present situation.

Whimpering explanations that keep the swine who are doing this reduced to permanently violated teddy bears are going to soon be in starkly visible contrast to what’s really happening, and revealed for what they were all along.
Squeaking anxious noise, the complacency of cowards who are personally immune to what’s happening. So far.

Donald Johnson, whatever you tell yourself, you’re fighting for your own comfort levels. Contorting your intellect to maintain a sense of your own active conscience. This would allow you to discount my admiration for Naomi Klein and Max Blumenthal and many others like them. Somehow my blind racist bigory doesn’t exend to them. But you have to bend your mind into a pretzel to pull that off.
This will not last much longer, I can assure you. You’re going to have to start jettisoning the parts of your mind that recognize reality.

Ronan, you’re confusing moral indignation and compassionate outrage for bigotry, and for pretty much the same reason Donald Johnson is. It allows you to continue telling yourself you’re engaged, while you risk nothing, in the face of this inhuman atrocity.

A fog of moral ambiguity around “permissible genocide”. I cannot express the soul-deep disgust that engenders in me.
Saying the assertion of media dominance by Jews is untrue and anti-Semitic is one thing, because the facts are readily available.
Admitting it’s true, and then insisting that talking about it as the reason for American public support of the genocide in Palestine is anti-Semitic, is quite another thing entirely.
Keep running away from it. See how far you get, before you run right into a much harsher, unavoidable truth.

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J Thomas 08.01.14 at 9:07 pm

#296 Roy Belmont

Donald Johnson, whatever you tell yourself, you’re fighting for your own comfort levels. Contorting your intellect to maintain a sense of your own active conscience.

Roy, look at what Donald says.

“1. The Israel lobby is very very successful with politicians
2. Criticizing the Lobby is necessary.
3. Criticizing anti-Palestinian bigotry in the Jewish community (those parts which are guilty of it, the kneejerk Israel supporters) is necessary. They’ve gotten a free pass to accuse others of antisemitism when they are living in a glass house.
….
This hurts Palestinians, who are suffering and dying because of the nearly unbreakable support the US gives to their oppressors.”

He agrees with you on the central issues.

It is cowardice pure and simple to run away from the fact that without control of the media this carnage would outrage Americans, who are in the main decent, moral people.
Their sources of information are distorted by Jewish chauvinists, who hide their intrigue behind an impenetrable wall of “it’s anti-Semitic to claim that Jews run US media”.

No reasonable person would deny that the US media is incredibly biased in favor of Israel. You take it a step farther and claim that it is Jews who do this. And that gets this knee-jerk reaction that you are an anti-semite.

I believe this is a bad tactic for you.

Here is somebody who agrees with you about the Israel lobby. He might be ready to do some good. Then you get him upset about antisemitism when he is not ready to go the whole distance with you.

If you wait for him to pay attention to the media and watch the incredible zionist bias, he can’t help but notice it. Do you really care whether he thinks it’s due to Jews or some other kind of zionist? OK, maybe you do. But he is likely to make quicker progress if you don’t start up the antisemitism angle yourself.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that it is in fact Jews who are censoring our mass media in favor of Israel. If they keep doing it, he will notice and get upset. If they get more moderate, perhaps because they are becoming divided among themselves, that is not a bad thing for Israel/Palestine. It makes it harder for you to prove that it’s a Jewish conspiracy, but is that the most important thing for you? If it is then I would consider you somewhat antisemitic, and then the question is how much you are justified to do that….

Similarly with the original issue about US response to Israel/Palestine. If we have a Jewish conspiracy that leaves the nation unconditionally supporting Israel in bad things, and the conspiracy itself gets moderated, that’s a good thing. Maybe they get Israel to act just enough nicer to tone down the international outrage? That’s still an improvement.

Nobody really wins if Israel gets persuaded to go way out on a limb and then saw it through behind them. Say positions harden to the point that Israel gets so bad they lose all international support, and then they fight and die while killing millions of arabs. That’s a bad thing. If they get so desperate they nuke lots of arabs and then get wiped out themselves, that’s a bad thing. The world is better if we avoid that.

If there *is* a great big successful Jewish conspiracy, we are better off if they help find a way to get peace for Israel, than if they first push the middle east into lots of destruction and then get hunted down themselves. That latter might seem like some sort of justice or karma but it leads to a whole lot of innocents dying.

tl;dr: Option 1: You talk about Israel/Palestine. A lot of reasonable people agree with you because what you say is reasonable. Then you talk about Jewish control of the media and they think you are a antisemitic crackpot and some of them worry that people like you are dangerous.

Option 2: You talk about Israel/Palestine. A lot of reasonable people agree with you because what you say is reasonable. Then gradually they notice that their point of view is mostly censored from the media. They get angry about that, and look for what they can do about it.

Which is likely to work better?

298

Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 9:16 pm

“It allows you to continue telling yourself you’re engaged, while you risk nothing, in the face of this inhuman atrocity.”

What exactly is mouthing anti semitic tropes online ‘risking’ ? (apart from a bit of blowback) Anyway I’m leaving it there as I dont really care so much.

The article I linked above is pretty astute, I think, particularly the last third. The main idea, that Palestine ” is not a matter of anti-Semitism, as Israel supporters claim, so much as it is a reflection of self-absorption: the Palestinians are important to the West because, through their oppression by Israeli Jews, they have become characters in a Western narrative” is pretty much spot on, as is the critique of Orientalism and how its “set of taboos and restrictions” have “inhibited critical thinking” and removed agency from actors in the region. (Prefering instead to put all blame on easy targets, the US and Israel)
If Joshua Burton is reading, I wonder what he thinks?

299

MPAVictoria 08.01.14 at 9:54 pm

Shorter Roy- The JEWS! The JEWS!!!

/on the plus side he is doing better than he normally does on LGTB topics. At least he hasn’t called anyone “hooknose” or “Red Sea pedestrian” yet.

300

Donald Johnson 08.01.14 at 10:09 pm

My interpretation of the Shatz piece is that he thinks the left tends to be the mirror image of the mainstream and ignores other sources of violence in the middle east, but he’s not saying (I don’t think) that the left is wrong about the I/P issue itself.

I had mixed feelings overall–people should read it and take it to heart, but it’s odd to write this just when the pro-Palestinian side is beginning to get a little bit of traction in the mainstream press and when Israel is on the rampage in Gaza. Also, if the Nation wants us to get a wider view of the Arab world, they could print some Arab writers on a regular basis. And Edward Said wasn’t exactly uncritical of the Arab world. Neither is Abu Asad Khalil (The Angry Arab blogger). Rashid Khalidi is very angry at Israel, for good reason, but he has also been critical of Palestinians. So the solution here seems pretty clear, if the Nation wants to do something about it.

301

Donald Johnson 08.01.14 at 10:11 pm

I butchered Asad AbuKhalil’s name. Embarrassing, putting Abu at the beginning. I’m probably still butchering it, but I have to do some offline things in the real world and can’t look it up.

302

Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 10:36 pm

I agree As’ad AbuKhalil is critical, but his criticism is always framed in opposition to the US and Israel. He’s quite obviously knowledgeable and experienced but has also become dogmatic and one note, imo.

303

Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 10:42 pm

I don’t think his critique is directed at people like AbuKhalil and Khalidi, though.

304

Donald Johnson 08.01.14 at 10:52 pm

I think he’s focused on Israel in the past month or two because things have heated up. I mostly agree with his criticism of Israel and the US, though his rhetoric about Israel isn’t the way to persuade Israelis to go for a 1SS (not that this is likely anyway). Normally he takes potshots at almost every government, from Jordan to Saudi Arabia. He condemns both sides in Syria, which seems right. He is sarcastic about Lebanon politics, though I usually can’t follow him on what he is talking about, but I gather he thinks the US press is too gullible about the anti-Hezbollah people.

Anyway, I think that yes, the far left is dogmatic and it’s always been this way–it wasn’t enough to oppose US violence in Southeast Asia, the left in that era had to romanticize the NLF. So what the mainstream supports, we have to oppose and vice versa. But the Orientalism charge seems as valid as always. How many Arab writers do we see in the press? I see a lot of Israelis. So Shatz can score a few valid points about lefties being too narrow in their focus, but where are the regular columns of Arab writers in the mainstream press? And the Nation’s record isn’t all that outstanding either. I think the proper audience for Shatz’s article would be people who think that Chomsky, Finkelstein, Said, and so forth are all they need to read, but are these the people that set US policy, that has us supporting Israel right or wrong and had us going into Iraq? No.

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Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 10:52 pm

It reminds me of bits of this by timothy Burke

http://blogs.swarthmore.edu/burke/blog/2013/12/06/be-nelson-mandela/

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Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 11:08 pm

I wouldn’t say the Orientalism charge doesn’t have validity(and don’t think Shatz is either) but that it has become less useful and at times prevents critical analysis of the regions politics. (The reverse of those who see sectarianism and tribalism everywhere are those who won’t recognise it, or who imagine all signs of societal or economic dysfunction are the result of colonialism, whether in the past or present) Perhaps he’s arguing a bit of a strawman, or at least developing a response to a very specific(and not overly relevant)demographic. I agree with your points about the US(afaict) media, although it’s not as true of the media in the UK and Ireland(which I’d know better) who tend to skew the other way.
To be clear though, I do think the US deserves a significant amount of blame for the regions recent past, (obviously for Iraq)but more often than it was a coherent agent in the regions politics it was dragged in to conflicts and trouble by regional actors.

307

Ronan(rf) 08.01.14 at 11:18 pm

actually sorry, more this article by Burke

http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/59735522/eyes-wide-shut-africanists-moral-problematics-postcolonial-societies

(which you can find a pdf for online)

308

Ze Kraggash 08.02.14 at 8:03 am

Donald Johnson: “I gather he [Asad AbuKhalil] thinks the US press is too gullible about the anti-Hezbollah people. “

He doesn’t think the US press is gullible. Only the gullible would think the US press is gullible.

He writes a lot against Hamas too. He is a well-balanced thinker; no dogmatism whatsoever.

309

godoggo 08.02.14 at 8:55 am

Maxspeak is back, for anybody who hasn’t noticed. I see he’s not on the blogroll.

310

godoggo 08.02.14 at 9:17 am

Or Sandwichman’s blogroll either, oddly enough.

311

J Thomas 08.02.14 at 12:53 pm

#300 Donald Johnson

Also, if the Nation wants us to get a wider view of the Arab world, they could print some Arab writers on a regular basis. And Edward Said wasn’t exactly uncritical of the Arab world. Neither is Abu Asad Khalil (The Angry Arab blogger). Rashid Khalidi is very angry at Israel, for good reason, but he has also been critical of Palestinians. So the solution here seems pretty clear, if the Nation wants to do something about it.

Do you suppose they would actually want that?

Why would they want that? Apart from the oil-rich nations and Israel, the middle east is a poor place with a lot of poor people in it, who mostly don’t have enough water much less other resources, not a great level of education, burdened with Islam. Why would first-world civilians be interested in their politics except as it affects Israel or oil?

Similarly with africa. If you asked me to draw a map of africa and draw in countries, I doubt I could get a dozen of them. Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Ethiopia, Chad, Mauritania, Mali, Somalia, South Africa, I could put Kenya in vaguely the right place on the east and Gabon is somewhere on the west. Ivory Coast has to be on the west. Senegal. I’m lost.

Americans think of Kenya as generally good guys, Ethiopia as the place rastafara came from and used-to-be-good, south africa as sort-of-reformed and mediocre, Somalia is the place they had a famine where there’s no government, Chad is the place a tiny ragtag army beat the Libyans. Uganda had Idi Amin.

Incidentally, if anybody wants a tip to not confuse south american countries from african countries, Guyana, Guiana, and Suriname are all in south america. Three countries with Guinea in their names are in africa. Apart from that, if you aren’t sure then it probably isn’t south america.

If The Nation started publishing reports that criticized various african governments, that was not biased in any particular direction and criticised everybody, who would be interested?

But if the USA started giving billions of dollars of military aid to Togo, and they easily won wars against Ghana, Burkin-Faso, and Benin while staging occasional airstrikes on Nigeria and Mali to keep them from developing nukes, and the dominant Ewe tribe in Togo was badly mistreating the Tchamba people who were trying to develop a resistance movement that the Ewe said were international terrorists, then some of us would probably start paying attention to that corner of africa.

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J Thomas 08.02.14 at 12:57 pm

Another keyword moderation. Which keyword triggered it?

Ivory Coast
ragtag
Idi Amin
rastafara
Ewe
Tchamba

313

J Thomas 08.02.14 at 1:04 pm

OK, it was something in that last attempt. Either the name of a nation that’s a UN member, or

international terrorists
first-world

314

J Thomas 08.02.14 at 1:05 pm

Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Ethiopia, Chad, Mauritania, Mali, Somalia, South Africa

315

J Thomas 08.02.14 at 1:05 pm

Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan,

316

J Thomas 08.02.14 at 1:07 pm

It surely wasn’t South Africa, so it’s one of five african nations.
Ethiopia, Chad, Mauritania,

317

J Thomas 08.02.14 at 1:08 pm

Could it be no one is alowed to say the word Mali?

318

godoggo 08.02.14 at 1:09 pm

I think it’s just something that happens fairly randomly. I recall someone someone saying it was a bug.

319

J Thomas 08.02.14 at 1:10 pm

No, it’s the african nation on the east coast that got in the news for pirates and anarchy,
Scmalia.

320

godoggo 08.02.14 at 1:11 pm

Huh. You’re right.

321

J Thomas 08.02.14 at 1:13 pm

#300 Donald Johnson

Also, if the Nation wants us to get a wider view of the Arab world, they could print some Arab writers on a regular basis. And Edward Said wasn’t exactly uncritical of the Arab world. Neither is Abu Asad Khalil (The Angry Arab blogger). Rashid Khalidi is very angry at Israel, for good reason, but he has also been critical of Palestinians. So the solution here seems pretty clear, if the Nation wants to do something about it.

Do you suppose they would actually want that?

Why would they want that? Apart from the oil-rich nations and Israel, the middle east is a poor place with a lot of poor people in it, who mostly don’t have enough water much less other resources, not a great level of education, burdened with Islam. Why would first-world civilians be interested in their politics except as it affects Israel or oil?

Similarly with africa. If you asked me to draw a map of africa and draw in countries, I doubt I could get a dozen of them. Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Ethiopia, Chad, Mauritania, Mali, Scmalia, South Africa, I could put Kenya in vaguely the right place on the east and Gabon is somewhere on the west. Ivory Coast has to be on the west. Senegal. I’m lost.

Americans think of Kenya as generally good guys, Ethiopia as the place rastafara came from and used-to-be-good, south africa as sort-of-reformed and mediocre, Scmalia is the place they had a famine where there’s no government, Chad is the place a tiny ragtag army beat the Libyans. Uganda had Idi Amin.

Incidentally, if anybody wants a tip to not confuse south american countries from african countries, Guyana, Guiana, and Suriname are all in south america. Three countries with Guinea in their names are in africa. Apart from that, if you aren’t sure then it probably isn’t south america.

If The Nation started publishing reports that criticized various african governments, that was not biased in any particular direction and criticised everybody, who would be interested?

But if the USA started giving billions of dollars of military aid to Togo, and they easily won wars against Ghana, Burkin-Faso, and Benin while staging occasional airstrikes on Nigeria and Mali to keep them from developing nukes, and the dominant Ewe tribe in Togo was badly mistreating the Tchamba people who were trying to develop a resistance movement that the Ewe said were international terrorists, then some of us would probably start paying attention to that corner of africa.

322

Donald Johnson 08.02.14 at 1:29 pm

Okay, Roy, I thought about it and decided to say just what I think about you. You like to think I’m stuck in my comfort zone and can’t face the Truth. No, Roy, I just think you say inexcusably stupid things sometimes.

You are a performance artist who says things to shock the bourgeoisie and then gets upset when people are disgusted by him. You are a male Cassandra, the misunderstood prophet and would rather act out that role than try to change people’s minds. You use the rhetoric of Stormfront, but it’s okay because you like Naomi Klein. You can’t be bothered to make specific charges about specific people and organizations and keep it at that if you can just transgress the boundaries and attribute everything to some monolithic entity known as “The Jews” . I really don’t think you hate Jews–you just likes to express yourself in a way that gets the most attention in the most upsetting and dramatic way possible and if you have to sound like a Nazi to do it, that’s what you’ll do and imagine you’re doing something really brave and important. You are a 13 year old boy who disrupts his sister’s wedding by yelling during the ceremony “Let’s speed this thing up so they can go fuck each other”. The boy then feels upset and misunderstood when everyone is mad at him. He was just trying to keep it real and help his sister out. And maybe draw a little attention to himself. Sometimes he says something clever and other times he’s a jerk, but he’s just 13. How old are you, Roy?

323

Ze Kraggash 08.02.14 at 1:59 pm

Donald Johnson 320, but denunciation of demographic disproportionality is a common form of discourse.
https://www.google.com/search?q=%22dominated+by+white+males%22
I don’t think it necessarily implies that the “white males” (or whatever the demographic is) are a monolithic single-minded entity; what’s implied, rather, is that they are likely to hold unconscious biases; a product of their upbringing, their life experience.

324

Donald Johnson 08.02.14 at 2:11 pm

Oh, bullshit. When someone say “The Jews” it has historical resonances. Roy knows that perfectly well and so do you. If he wants to use the same rhetoric as Nazis and traditional anti-semites, then he shouldn’t be surprised if he is accused of being one and stop his incessant whining. If he wants to make a careful case showing that there’s an Israel Lobby and that it dominates Congressional opinion on this subject, he can do that and I’m with him. If he wants to demonstrate media bias (though that is no worse than it is on other subjects–the Timorese would have loved to have had as much sympathetic coverage as the Palestinians when Indonesia was killing 25 percent of them with America’s help), again, good for him. If he wants to rant about “The Jews” as a monolith, knowing exactly how much that is going to shock people, then the hell with him. He’s a self indulgent jackass.

325

J Thomas 08.02.14 at 2:11 pm

#324 Donald Johnson

That was well done! Effective.

You are a male Cassandra, the misunderstood prophet and would rather act out that role than try to change people’s minds.

Sure. And you are offended at him, maybe partly because he insulted you.

Consider how he might have gotten that way. Maybe he started out as a troll trying to get attention, and that’s all he cared about.

But maybe he started out looking for the truth. And then when he saw people repeating a bunch of lies, and he showed the definitive proof that it was lies, and they clung tight to their lies…. And it happened over and over…. You know that would unbalance a person. Some people would just shut up. The ones who don’t learn to expect certain responses. “Insanity is doing the same things over and expecting different results.”

You could accuse him of enjoying it, just as we could accuse some Israelis of enjoying the attitude that world opinion is biased heavily against them so they might as well not even try to do things world opinion would approve. But what good does it do in either case?

It can be useful having a few people like Roy around. Just as John Quiggen said about Brett Bellmore. If he takes the current consensus and he tries to present it as a tissue of lies, like a reductio ad absurdum, sometimes the result is not absurd. That’s worth paying attention to.

About his idea that there is a Jewish conspiracy that controls the USA, it has become a consensus in some circles that there is a conspiracy of wealthy people that controls the USA. Are they Jewish? Probably some of them are.

I can imagine a conspiracy with its factions. They compete, like the big players in a no-limit poker game would compete. They don’t worry about cleaning out the little guys, they are trying hard to clean out each other. One of them could be a faction that’s specifically Jewish, or not. Most of the Jewish people would not be part of it because very few are that powerful. It doesn’t particularly matter — if there is such a conspiracy then ideally we would like to take its power away regardless who they are, and that looks like a hard thing to do.

Completely independent of the question whether it’s a Jewish conspiracy that controls the USA, if there is a conspiracy that controls the USA we know it must be a Zionist conspiracy. Because the USA unconditionally supports Israel. And if there was a successful conspiracy that was not Zionist, the USA would not unconditionally support Israel.

326

godoggo 08.02.14 at 2:12 pm

Sort of missing the point.

It’s the hate, stupid.

327

godoggo 08.02.14 at 2:13 pm

Oops, I shouldn’t get involved.

328

godoggo 08.02.14 at 2:13 pm

Damn Donald’s fast.

329

J Thomas 08.02.14 at 2:15 pm

Another moderated comment. An obvious guess why, I should have known.

#324 Donald Johnson

That was well done! Effective.

You are a male Cassandra, the misunderstood prophet and would rather act out that role than try to change people’s minds.

Sure. And you are offended at him, maybe partly because he insulted you.

Consider how he might have gotten that way. Maybe he started out as a troll trying to get attention, and that’s all he cared about.

But maybe he started out looking for the truth. And then when he saw people repeating a bunch of lies, and he showed the definitive proof that it was lies, and they clung tight to their lies…. And it happened over and over…. You know that would unbalance a person. Some people would just shut up. The ones who don’t learn to expect certain responses. “Insanity is doing the same things over and expecting different results.”

You could accuse him of enjoying it, just as we could accuse some Israelis of enjoying the attitude that world opinion is biased heavily against them so they might as well not even try to do things world opinion would approve. But what good does it do in either case?

It can be useful having a few people like Roy around. Just as John Quiggen said about Brett Bellmore. If he takes the current consensus and he tries to present it as a tissue of lies, like a reductio ad absurdum, sometimes the result is not absurd. That’s worth paying attention to.

About his idea that there is a Jewish conspiracy that controls the USA, it has become a consensus in some circles that there is a conspiracy of wealthy people that controls the USA. Are they Jewish? Probably some of them are.

I can imagine a conspiracy with its factions. They compete, like the big players in a no-limit pcker game would compete. They don’t worry about cleaning out the little guys, they are trying hard to clean out each other. One of them could be a faction that’s specifically Jewish, or not. Most of the Jewish people would not be part of it because very few are that powerful. It doesn’t particularly matter — if there is such a conspiracy then ideally we would like to take its power away regardless who they are, and that looks like a hard thing to do.

Completely independent of the question whether it’s a Jewish conspiracy that controls the USA, if there is a conspiracy that controls the USA we know it must be a Zionist conspiracy. Because the USA unconditionally supports Israel. And if there was a successful conspiracy that was not Zionist, the USA would not unconditionally support Israel.

330

Ze Kraggash 08.02.14 at 2:57 pm

Donald Johnson 322, you don’t address my point but keep talking about a “monolith”. And now you’re also concerned about people being shocked by some words, even though you appear cold and analytical. But in fact in this discussion it’s Roy who’s been insisting that he’s shocked. And not because of some words on the screen. Between these two, I’d give his shock a priority.

331

godoggo 08.02.14 at 3:19 pm

You forgot to say “Tee hee.”

332

godoggo 08.02.14 at 3:25 pm

Or at least to type it.

333

MPAVictoria 08.02.14 at 5:03 pm

Man it is like the Protocols of the Elder Zion in here.

Well done making a Crooked Timber thread seem like something from Stormfront.

334

Donald Johnson 08.02.14 at 5:04 pm

I did address your point–“The Jews” is a phrase guaranteed to offend, that sounds Nazi-like and everyone knows it, including you. It adds nothing to the conversation except distraction. Again, as I have said repeatedly and demonstrated myself, you can express outrage and cold contempt and disgust with Israel’s actions, the American government, and those organizations and people, Jewish and not Jewish, who are so freaking bigoted they use dehumanizing rhetoric about Palestinians as a justification for war crimes. You can link to a rabbi last Monday who said that Hamas voters are legitimate targets and not civilians. Oh, wait, I did that. And you can do all this without sounding like a freaking Nazi. No, I’m not saying Roy is a freaking Nazi–I’m saying that he deliberately chooses to sound like one for the shock value or to wake people up or to do whatever damn thing he thinks he is doing. If this is too hard a concept to grasp, or you don’t wish to grasp it, I can’t help you. I’m done here.

335

J Thomas 08.02.14 at 6:02 pm

#336

Again, as I have said repeatedly and demonstrated myself, you can express outrage and cold contempt and disgust with Israel’s actions, the American government, and those organizations and people, Jewish and not Jewish, who are so freaking bigoted they use dehumanizing rhetoric about Palestinians as a justification for war crimes. You can link to a rabbi last Monday who said that Hamas voters are legitimate targets and not civilians. Oh, wait, I did that. And you can do all this without sounding like a freaking Nazi.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb_qHP7VaZE

It’s interesting to look at the ratio of indignant posts about Israel, versus the number of indignant posts about Roy.

Israel is blowing people up, and Roy is saying things in a way that sounds impolite.

People who agree with him about Israel/Palestine still take the time to point out how much they disagree with him….

No big issue, it’s par for the course.

336

godoggo 08.02.14 at 6:29 pm

This is true of every thread that Roy has ever participated in. This is what he does.

337

godoggo 08.02.14 at 6:34 pm

However, let it be said that I am indignant about what Israel is doing!

338

godoggo 08.02.14 at 6:35 pm

So indignant!

339

J Thomas 08.02.14 at 6:35 pm

#338

This is true of every thread that Roy has ever participated in. This is what he does.

So he’s the only one involved who has a choice?

It looks consensual to me.

340

godoggo 08.02.14 at 6:36 pm

And about you defending the piece of shit.

341

godoggo 08.02.14 at 6:37 pm

Anyway, I forgot, I really am gone.

342

engels 08.02.14 at 11:08 pm

”The Jews” is a phrase guaranteed to offend, that sounds Nazi-like and everyone knows it, including you.

Not going to weigh in on l’affaire Belmont (haven’t read comments) but I think that’s a bit silly

343

J Thomas 08.02.14 at 11:29 pm

Engels, thank you. Not being Jewish myself, I didn’t feel competent to judge what words are offensive, although it is of course extremely offensive to call somebody antisemitic.

So I’ll leave it to Jewish people like you and Donald Johnson to sort that out.

344

Donald Johnson 08.03.14 at 12:01 am

Out of context, Engels. I was using shorthand. He didn’t simply say “The Jews”. I wondered after I typed that if someone would actually come along and say what you said, and as usual on the internet, someone did. That’s why internet threads that go on too long should be abandoned–every conceivable nitpick gets picked.

345

LFC 08.03.14 at 12:03 am

Donald Johnson @320 (and following posts) is right. I think that’s obvious. I doubt however that it’s worth the time to try to engage R. Belmont in an actual conversation on this particular subject (or, for that matter, certain others.)

346

godoggo 08.03.14 at 12:16 am

Hi! Guess what! I’m still here!

Anyway, ditto to LFC. I just want to say that, personally, I was not shocked, I was pissed off. Because, you know, my mom’s a Jew, my dad’s a Jew and my uncles and aunts and cousins, all Jews except crazy uncle Ernie, and not a cabal member in the lot. So just really pissed off, no more, no less. I can’t do self-righteousness.

347

Ronan(rf) 08.03.14 at 12:22 am

Are you implying uncle Ernie is crazy because he’s a gentile ?

348

godoggo 08.03.14 at 12:23 am

No, as I’ve said before, he met aunt Charlotte in a mental institution.

349

Ronan(rf) 08.03.14 at 12:23 am

ah.

350

ZM 08.03.14 at 12:27 am

This is a cheerful Jewish socialist song if it helps – this version has kids singing so it’s even more cheerful

351

J Thomas 08.03.14 at 12:47 am

Godoggo, my sister is a Jew but I am not shocked or pissed off. I won’t even be shocked or particularly pissed off if it turns out that there is a Jewish cabal after all and she wasn’t invited.

352

godoggo 08.03.14 at 12:57 am

Gimme a break.

353

Ronan(rf) 08.03.14 at 12:59 am

Jewsih Cable would be pretty good.

354

Ronan(rf) 08.03.14 at 1:04 am

J thomas is as mad as a hatter ; )

355

J Thomas 08.03.14 at 1:27 am

Ronan, what, godoggo can tell jokes that are literally true but I cannot?

356

Tyrone Slothrop 08.03.14 at 1:51 am

Youse Jews are crazy!

357

Tyrone Slothrop 08.03.14 at 1:52 am

The above said in Obelix mode, of course…

358

roy belmont 08.03.14 at 3:11 am

Donald Johnson-
you just like to express yourself in a way that gets the most attention in the most upsetting and dramatic way possible

Believe it or not I’m pretty self-analytical, I check my attitude often, throughout the day, and especially when I’m being actively visible in these narrow arenas of complacency and dogma.
Why am I doing this? I ask myself.
And the answer comes, succinctly and calmly: because there is bullshit, because there are lies, because either everything is at stake now or nothing is.
And if nothing is…well I just won’t do that.

People read this stuff and don’t comment on it – they read mine, yours, even little Mr. “Yeah I’m a snarling arrogant shit and I just happen to be a Jew so what?”.
Even J Thomas. People read him too. Even engels, for God’s sake.
Engels!
But they aren’t visible, those readers.
That’s the audience, it’s why I keep coming back for more.

I’m probably at least a decade older than you, judging by the cultural tone of your writing, if it matters and you weren’t just being snotty asking.

What you aren’t seeing, because it’s the absence of a thing, is the restraint I exercise.
I know, I know, but it’s true.
Trying to calibrate how much to put down without just blowing the whole thing up. Not my strong suit, that. I consistently over-estimate both the intelligence and tolerance of active commenters here.
I’ve mentioned before that I got dis-emvowelled at one of the Nielsen-Hayden sites, ten years or so ago, essentially for saying that it looked to me like there was a really strong central driving component in the mad rush to war in Iraq that was Jewish/Zionist, but that that marker of identity was elided, invisible. That Colin Powell and Bush and Condi Rice were in a sense beards.
And then defending myself against the tidal wave of racist anti-racism that immediately rose up to wash away the infidel, me.
Not as controversial now is it? I mean it’s still totally unacceptable to even discuss in the refined atmosphere of a contemporary liberal sort-of-progressive forum, but it’s not nearly as outlandish a claim as it once was.

What you don’t do in your exasperated defensive anger is give out even a glimmer of recognition that if I do believe what I’m saying, that that would be a dark context indeed to write from within, and serious urgency would be called for, even risk.
And I do believe what I’m saying. I promise you, I do.

In the same way you refuse to see that if I’m being honest and genuine, then in my eyes you’re seriously letting me down.

Given a strictly binary choice, which is exactly what you’re offering me, and exactly all you’re offering me, between a liberal/progressive complacency that in my view enables what you can’t bring yourself to admit, and an alliance with some of the more virulent haters at Storm Front, my response, to you or anybody else that tries to jam me into that two-dimensional box, is…
Fuck That.

359

MPAVictoria 08.03.14 at 4:18 am

Well Roy now we know you are a conspiracy theorist anti Semite as well as a bigot….

Can’t say I am shocked.

360

Lee A. Arnold 08.03.14 at 4:24 am

“Given a strictly binary choice, which is exactly what you’re offering me, and exactly all you’re offering me…”

This is absolute nonsense. Stop drinking.

361

Ronan(rf) 08.03.14 at 4:28 am

Shorter roy; just shorter. Please.

362

Ronan(rf) 08.03.14 at 4:29 am

; )

363

Donald Johnson 08.03.14 at 5:28 am

“And I do believe what I’m saying. I promise you, I do.”

I was giving you the benefit of a doubt in assuming it was performance art. It’s all dark hints and deep thoughts and urgings from a guy who is just trying to get us to see the Truth for ourselves, half Matrix and half “All the President’s Men”, though in your mind the level of the revelation at stake is more on the level of understanding that the world is a digital construct rather than something merely petty like a President is corrupt. It’s more than just that the Israel Lobby has a firm grip on the I/P issue in the US, a thesis which can be supported by something we lesser minds call “evidence” . Nah, it’s gotta be bigger, huge, on a scale only people with a post-Singularity level intellect like yours can even begin to see.

I am kinda enjoying writing this crap though. I can see where it could get addictive.

364

roy belmont 08.03.14 at 5:33 am

Like to point out that on another thread where this same dynamic was playing itself out, Lee Arnold and a few others were snarking on about mental illness and meds, in addition to Arnold’s patronizing temperance snuffling, and that that went completely unchallenged by valiant champions of diversity and the oppressed.
Probably because it was being used to effect in a higher cause.
It’s not something I would ever do, it’s weak, cowardly even, and cruel to people who have to deal with medicated states of mind in order to live functionally.

Haven’t had a drop today myself, but you can blow me anytime you want Arnold. Metaphorically of course. In the real world I wouldn’t want your mouth anywhere near my private parts.

Most of the shit that comes at me here seems to originate in an assumption that I’m interested in the opinion of the people delivering them. I’m not. I’ve made that pretty clear I think. Most recently right above this.
I did address Donald Johnson directly, because I respect his civilized demeanor and his philosophical position. Which is close enough to my own that it’s frustrating to see him balk.

On the subject of intentionally insulting behavior, you won’t find one example of me on this site being rude to anyone who wasn’t rude to me first.

365

bt 08.03.14 at 6:16 am

This whole line of comments is starting to become incomprehensible to me. Is anybody actually looking for insight (or a good argument)?

I’m still waiting for Ben Fenster to fill me on in what Palestine was like before 1948. Or preferably start the time clock in around 1850. That would be safely in the pre-zionism / euro-jewish colonization dream-fever era, in the “Land without People” time frame.

This goes to a “debatable” point for MPAvictoria. The who threw the first punch question. I think until there is an objective acknowledgment of the entire history, the Palestinians will never stop wanting to fight the Israeli’s. And you have to start the History of this conflict before 1948, or you will never get to the root of why they are fighting. The Palestinians at the root are not fighting the Israeli’s out of anti-semitism, they have been fighting to get their land back.

And, amazingly, the Israeli’s keep taking more land, and somehow they believe no one will notice or be offended?

On another note, Netanyahu has been a supreme idiot to align Israel with one side of the US political system, the Republicans. He is a short-term thinker. This will bite Israel very hard in the future.

366

godoggo 08.03.14 at 6:29 am

fwiw I’d seen a claim somewhere that the “land without people” quote was apocryphal.

According to Wikipedia, well, maybe, maybe not…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_land_without_a_people_for_a_people_without_a_land

367

Lee A. Arnold 08.03.14 at 2:05 pm

“On the subject of intentionally insulting behavior…”

A mouthful.

368

Anarcissie 08.03.14 at 2:09 pm

roy belmont 08.03.14 at 5:33 am @ 364 –
‘… Most of the shit that comes at me here seems to originate in an assumption that I’m interested in the opinion of the people delivering them. I’m not. …’

While I read your stuff, if and when I do, for the poetry, I have to quibble at the square meaning of those two sentences. Obviously, if you weren’t interested in the opinion, etc., you wouldn’t read it, and you wouldn’t write about it.

369

J Thomas 08.03.14 at 2:55 pm

#367 bt

And, amazingly, the Israeli’s keep taking more land, and somehow they believe no one will notice or be offended?

They believe it’s theirs. And they have a better use for it than grow little withered olive trees that can’t get enough water. They have laws about what land they can take, and when, and they mostly follow those laws. That makes it legal in their opinion.

They’re only taking land from people who hate them, who don’t deserve good treatment for that reason. Also they have security needs. If Palestine ever becomes a nation, they must make sure that nobody else conquers part of Palestine and uses it to attack Israel from. So they must keep military control which requires taking more land. (Kind of like Belgium and France. Germany invaded France through Belgium. Twice. Clearly, before the second time the French should have said that if the Belgians were not going to defend themselves that France would defend them, and should have insisted on the right to extend the Maginot line along the eastern border of Belgium and station as much of the French army in Belgium as they chose to, and perhaps offered the same deal to the Netherlands. The French simply did not have the realistic attitude the Israelis have, and they paid for it.)

On another note, Netanyahu has been a supreme idiot to align Israel with one side of the US political system, the Republicans. He is a short-term thinker. This will bite Israel very hard in the future.

That will probably blow over completely. The Democrats support Netanyahu 100% even though he despises them. He kicks them a little and then makes them lick his boots, and he can hardly respect them after that.

At the very worst, all will be forgiven if Netanyahu is replaced by another more-radical Likud leader who hasn’t personally campaigned for the GOP yet.

370

Ronan(rf) 08.03.14 at 3:26 pm

Im sorry for piling on roy, that comment @364 is a thing of beauty.

371

MPAVictoria 08.03.14 at 4:02 pm

Roy if you don’t want people to be offended by what you write stop writing offensive things.

372

J Thomas 08.03.14 at 4:10 pm

Ronan(rf), my numbering is different from yours, probably because of moderated comments that one of can see and the other cannot. The beautiful comment at #364, is that Roy’s beautiful comment that I have as #360, or is it Donald Johnson’s snark at #365?

373

Jim Buck 08.03.14 at 5:17 pm

Paedocide may be the appropriate term—since so many find the use of the word “genocide” objectionable. http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/blog/letter-from-tel-aviv-hilla-dayan-and-pw-zuidhof

374

bt 08.03.14 at 7:44 pm

to J Thomas 369:

Ok then. Let them take all the land. Then what? Kill the Natives? And you all wonder why opinion is moving so sharply against Israel.

People like you are leading Israel off a cliff to a future that can only have a South Africa ending.

“Because they believe it’s theirs” And they follow some laws (mostly!) when they take the Land. Ridiculous. Truly ridiculous.

You have convinced me that this will be my last post on this one. You have admitted fully what the issue is, and what the Israeli position is. My work is done here. If only we could have a Walter Cronkite moment, and someone of stature somewhere could point out this obvious truth to a grossly mis-informed America Public.

375

J Thomas 08.03.14 at 8:16 pm

#374 bt

Whoops! Did it sound like I was defending the Israelis taking more land?

I did not make my point clear. The Israelis believe they have a right to that land, so they don’t worry all that much about people who disagree with them. Because they truly believe they are right and their critics are wrong.

Also, they believe they have to do it. They need lebensraum. They need defensible borders. You’ve probably heard all that somewhere before.

Supporters of Israel believe that Israel is right so it’s right for them to take the land. After all, they won it fair and square on the field of valor. To the winner belongs the spoils. And these people believe that Israel has a right to exist. So anything they have to do to survive, is justified. If according to the rules of war or something, Israel is required to do something that would result in Israeli casualties, that has to be wrong because it’s wrong for Israelis to die in a war when they are right. It’s right for them to kill everybody they have to kill to win, without taking any casualties themselves, because they are right and their enemies are wrong.

The approach is logical once you realize that they start with the conclusion and work backward. They believe that Israel is right and any opponent is wrong. If your reasoning gives a different conclusion then you must be wrong because you got the wrong answer. They cannot accept any reasoning unless it gives them the conclusion they want, that is the main way they decide which reasoning is sound.

They are very slowly losing ground in the USA, rather more quickly in europe.

376

Jim Buck 08.03.14 at 9:05 pm

Let me declare myself as against any Roycott. Paedocide is what I’m against. Roy may be a drunk but: in vino veritas. “Americans” may be loath to censure Israeli baby- killers (no little Hugh offence meant) because paedocide was a commonplace when Grant was emptying the land of its original inhabitants. As someone up thread said: the Zionists were late getting into the Darwinian extermination of lesser races game. Making a good fist of it though.

377

Ronan(rf) 08.03.14 at 11:13 pm

J Thomas, it’s still on mine as roy at 364(the one where he tells Lee Arnold to blow him etc)

378

J Thomas 08.04.14 at 12:00 am

Ronan, that’s turned into 364 for me now too. I liked 358 better myself, the one about the false dichotomy.

So I think two posts that I had numbered before have been deleted.

379

godoggo 08.04.14 at 12:00 am

Roy: I apologize for calling you a piece of shit. That was bad and wrong.

But I agree with Donald. “Ditto” would have been sufficient.

I’m not interested in having a conversation with you for those reasons.

380

Lee A. Arnold 08.04.14 at 12:09 am

I fully recognize that it is one’s constitutional right to be an emotional drunk. But if you think you are telling us something new about Israeli influence in Washington and in the media, or are hoping to promulgate a grand conspiracy wherein Netanyahu is pulling everybody’s strings, then you have mistaken your own bloviations in search of emotional attention, as new or interesting factual content. Of course you are not required, by law, to write anything we don’t already know, and you don’t even have to be interesting. Certainly Crooked Timber has fallen to the point where most of the commenters cannot tell the difference: they are emotionalists who are happy to glide upon feelings and guesswork, just like the style of the commenters at Tyler Cowen’s Marginal Revolution (though on the other side of the aisle), and likewise, are glad to read other such egotisms as “poetry”. But once you start excreting such grand poetic lines as, “either everything is at stake now or nothing is”, or, “a strictly binary choice, which is exactly what you’re offering me, and exactly all you’re offering me…” you may want to consider that you are starting to pickle too many egotistical brain cells.

381

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 12:33 am

JT, yeah 358 aswell is excellent.

382

godoggo 08.04.14 at 12:38 am

Meh, gliding along isn’t the worst way to spend my time.

383

Lee A. Arnold 08.04.14 at 1:29 am

Sure, but tell us something we DON’T know.

384

godoggo 08.04.14 at 1:32 am

Oh, another thing. You could always get your own blog.

385

Lee A. Arnold 08.04.14 at 1:44 am

Sure. It would be about the dissolution of the Crooked Timber commentariat into triviality and intellectual incompetence. Crooked Twigs

386

godoggo 08.04.14 at 1:56 am

Not you.

387

Tyrone Slothrop 08.04.14 at 2:05 am

I’m experiencing déjà-vu via Lee A. Arnold in #385.

Perhaps from an exchange between you and Plume not too far back?…

388

godoggo 08.04.14 at 2:10 am

Me and Plume or him and Plume?

389

Tyrone Slothrop 08.04.14 at 2:13 am

Him and Plume. Sorry for the confusion.

390

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 2:17 am

” Sure. It would be about the dissolution of the Crooked Timber commentariat into triviality and intellectual incompetence. Crooked Twigs”

Perhaps, but give me a break Arnold. Your schtick is to make grand sweeping statement about topics you know nothing about and then try to sell it as ‘clear eyed analysis.’ (Mainly picked up on some non cited military blog or through a halfassed pseudo theoretical rant about ‘the role of emergence in complex systems’)
Not saying anyone else(self included) is any better, but at least they’re generally less pompous.

391

Lee A. Arnold 08.04.14 at 2:27 am

“Not saying anyone else(self included) is any better, but at least they’re generally less pompous.”

Exactly, this is entirely emotional drivel.

392

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 2:36 am

Not*entirely*, no.

393

godoggo 08.04.14 at 2:37 am

I’ve forgotten what this post was about.

394

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 2:42 am

sociopaths

395

Lee A. Arnold 08.04.14 at 3:00 am

Ronan(rf) #392: “Not *entirely*, no.”

Entirely. My three contributions to this thread were #26, asking Ben #16 about his contradiction regarding the intentions of Palestinians, and comment #55, which questioned Ben Fenster #43’s contention that proportionality has been properly tried by the Israelis in the past (I think those old policies were not closely linked enough). I didn’t jump in again until my comment #360 which points out that Roy Belmont’s reply to Donald Johnson is nonsense, because it avoids the actual complaint. When I cite a blog (unless it’s lots of them) I name it or provide a link, and I haven’t ever mentioned the “role of emergence in complex systems” in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (or in regard to much else, for that matter).

396

Lee A. Arnold 08.04.14 at 3:01 am

Godoggo #393: “I’ve forgotten what this post was about.”

It’s no wonder, considering that this thread has become as senseless and self-serving as the Gaza conflict itself.

The post was about the inanity of using immoral war now, to ensure “moral war” in the future. But it could as well apply to the type of argument that has been going on here.

397

roy belmont 08.04.14 at 3:13 am

Anarcissie at 2:09 pm-
Busted my hyperbole there.
More like not that interested in changing specifically their opinions.
Next comment will cap my efforts.
Two of my favorite elders.

398

roy belmont 08.04.14 at 3:14 am

399

Lee A. Arnold 08.04.14 at 5:16 am

Talking about “another thread where this same dynamic was playing itself out” (#364), this was the precise pattern.

400

roy belmont 08.04.14 at 6:18 am

Geez, it’s almost like a, a, thing or something.
You know something like, like, surreptitious! Yeah.
He’s, he’s, he’s being, uhm, uh, sneaky, or something, I guess.
Like it never occurred to me that last time I got rodent-packed by your clot of carnivorous enzymes I ended my presence on the thread with a video. Or it never occurred to me that it would occur to anyone else. Because I’m a mindless purveyor of mindlessness, lost in the contorted tunnels of bigotry.
But damn, you caught it right away.
Pattern recognition for high-function alien parasites.
You too can behave in a human-like fashion.

Maybe the pattern’s the same because I’m dealing with the same idiotic assholes as before, and I’m still me.
Again, Arnold, you fatuous twit, you can blow me whenever you want.
But remember, that’s purely metaphorical.

401

J Thomas 08.04.14 at 12:26 pm

OK, so the OP was about idiotic defenses of Israeli atrocities.

And we’ve had plenty more of those in comments in this thread.

And finally the discussion gets diverted almost entirely.
The question has become, not whether Israel is justified in killing 1800+ people including many women and children, but whether Roy is justified in talking the way he does. Or maybe the question is more about just how *much* abuse is proper to dish out to Roy.

This is not an accident.

402

Lee A. Arnold 08.04.14 at 3:13 pm

Roy Belmont: “Maybe the pattern’s the same because I’m dealing with the same idiotic assholes as before, and I’m still me.”

Exactly: for you, it always ends up being about you and your emotions.

403

Donald Johnson 08.04.14 at 3:31 pm

“This is not an accident.”

Yes and no. I complained way upthread that people were placing more emphasis on the ugliness of a thread based on a few anti-semitic remarks or exaggerated comments comparing the Warsaw Ghetto with Gaza. The fact is that one can’t defend Israel’s behavior without making remarks that are either openly ugly or imply a contempt for basic human rights for Palestinians. So if one is objective, probably every long thread on this topic where both sides are represented is going to turn ugly on both sides. And yes, very very often people on the pro-Israel side try to turn criticism of Israel into a discussion of anti-Semitism. That isn’t an accident.

That isn’t what happened here. I blew up at Roy because I’m tired of his BS and told him so. A lot of people agree, so the thread is now about him.

404

J Thomas 08.04.14 at 4:02 pm

I blew up at Roy because I’m tired of his BS and told him so. A lot of people agree, so the thread is now about him.

I don’t blame you if you responded instinctively. That happens to everybody. It certainly happens to me. No criticism from me here.

I blew up at Roy because I’m tired of his BS and told him so. A lot of people agree, so the thread is now about him.

Is this the result you want?

405

Lee A. Arnold 08.04.14 at 5:01 pm

Donald Johnson #403: “one can’t defend Israel’s behavior without making remarks that are either openly ugly or imply a contempt for basic human rights for Palestinians. So if one is objective, probably every long thread on this topic where both sides are represented is going to turn ugly on both sides. And yes, very very often people on the pro-Israel side try to turn criticism of Israel into a discussion of anti-Semitism.”

I think that your first sentence is wrong. One can easily defend Israel’s actions tactically, as a battle in a war for short-term gains (basically, the pro-Israeli position, as far as it goes), but also believe AT THE SAME TIME that these actions are strategically wrong and will finally destroy Israel. Part of it is the difference between tactics and strategy.

I am not the only one who holds this position. We can now read that it is shared by Yuval Diskin and other ex-heads of Israeli security and military, as well as Amos Oz, no slouch for the left, and others are moving toward this position in articles available on the US internet, such as Michael Koplow at Business Insider (link at DeLong), Judis at The New Republic, Thrall at London Review of Books, Etehad at Al Jazeera, and Birnbaum and Tibon’s excellent longform reportage at The New Republic on the breakdown of the prior negotiations.

For a very good military blog, see Sic Semper Tyrannis.

Now, certain new tactical policies would be required to prevent Israel’s eventual strategic destruction that are VASTLY different than what we are seeing now, and would require patience, psychology, and technological development. But that is not a conversation that anyone here has responded to, so let’s just forget it.

Because what we have here is an emotional bubble about the harm to children and innocents and the fact that the US sides with Israel, plus outrage based on some assumption that the rest of us are oblivious to the horror and to the politics. Because the rest of us don’t wear our hearts on our sleeves. Yet upon examination, even the pro-Israelis are clearly not oblivious.

And since all the bubbleheads have amply demonstrated that they do not even read to the end of a comment before drawing their conclusions, there also seems to be a reading comprehension problem, which goes along with emotional problems of all sorts.

406

Donald Johnson 08.04.14 at 6:18 pm

“I think that your first sentence is wrong. One can easily defend Israel’s actions tactically, as a battle in a war for short-term gains (basically, the pro-Israeli position, as far as it goes), but also believe AT THE SAME TIME that these actions are strategically wrong and will finally destroy Israel. “

Possibly so. What I’ve seen are people who oppose the settlement policy and blame Netanyahu, but support Israel’s tactics in Gaza, where I think the evidence shows they are using indiscriminate firepower and I suspect deliberately in order to punish the civilian population, as outlined in the Dahiya doctrine. So I think this position requires some degree of moral blindness.

If Israel were clearly making efforts to spare civilian lives, and hadn’t been doing the things we’ve been emotionally denouncing them for doing, I’d be more inclined to give them the benefit of a doubt. I could imagine an Israeli government which sincerely wanted a 2SS along the 67 lines which responded to rocket fire from extremists using only the most precise weapons, and yes, probably some innocent civilians would still be killed. But this situation is not like that.

I’ve read some of the people you mention and will seek out the ones I haven’t. I do read Pat Lang’s blog on a sporadic basis. He recently reprinted a post he wrote back in 2009, claiming that the IDF is undisciplined and doesn’t have career sergeants who can lend their many years of experience to the young officers. I have no idea if that’s a deep insight or not. He also mentioned the time he saw some Israelis opening up with a machine gun at some Palestinian women hanging their laundry, just for fun. I don’t think he said they hit them.

407

Donald Johnson 08.04.14 at 6:23 pm

“Is this the result you want?”

It’s the end of a long thread, which will probably shut down soon. People are arguing about Israel/Palestine at the other one, which I visited yesterday as well. A certain amount of air-clearing isn’t a bad thing.

408

J Thomas 08.04.14 at 7:36 pm

Now, certain new tactical policies would be required to prevent Israel’s eventual strategic destruction that are VASTLY different than what we are seeing now, and would require patience, psychology, and technological development. But that is not a conversation that anyone here has responded to, so let’s just forget it.

Woo! Did you try that and I missed it? I’d be interested in responding to that.

Because what we have here is an emotional bubble about the harm to children and innocents and the fact that the US sides with Israel, plus outrage based on some assumption that the rest of us are oblivious to the horror and to the politics. Because the rest of us don’t wear our hearts on our sleeves.

Hey, not me. My wife claims I’m an aspie, I can stay calm looking at body parts.

To me this looks like an exceptionally stupid chinese fire drill. The politicians wanted the army to kill some arabs to give them a voter boost. The army thought it was time to mow the grass anyway. They spent some months planning and got a couple of things they could use as excuses, and they attacked Gaza. They did a bunch of airstrikes and also they went in on the ground. But then they found out Hamas was doing their level best to capture Israeli troops alive, so they pulled the troops out and went back to just airstrikes. 50 or so dead soldiers was par for the course and they could do a lot of emoting about them and the sacrifices Israel has to make, but POWs or hostages or whatever they get called would be *awful*.

The 50 or so dead soldiers etc were supposed to be necessary to prevent the violence that caused 2 civilian deaths from Hamas rockets. Or maybe it was 3 deaths from a west bank kidnapping. Or — well, of course the point was to kill off Hamas. Not as if Hamas doesn’t get lots of extra volunteers every time Israel kills a bunch of them. Not as if something worse wouldn’t replace Hamas.

Anyway, it doesn’t cost Israel much money. A big part of the dog and pony show is paid for out of the US budget, partly by new appropriations which are almost the only thing the US Congress can agree on.

Hamas strategy? The only thing Israel has responded positively to in the last 10 years was capturing an Israeli soldier, and Israel sent soldiers right into Gaza! That’s probably one of the major purposes of the tunnels into Israel, to sneak in and kidnap an Israeli soldier or two and sneak back out again, and Israel brought a whole lot of juicy targets right there! So it’s mostly kidnap soldiers, kill soldiers, try to survive until it’s over this time. They don’t have a lot of choices.

409

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 7:41 pm

“But that is not a conversation that anyone here has responded to, so let’s just forget it.”

That’s because you haven’t made it, you’ve just spoken in generalities(as in the sentences prior to the one quoted above)

410

geo 08.04.14 at 7:56 pm

Lee @405: One can easily defend Israel’s actions tactically, as a battle in a war for short-term gains (basically, the pro-Israeli position)

Not sure I understand this. Does it mean: “Israel’s actions may be evil, but they will probably achieve its short-term goals”? That’s a perfectly intelligible sentence, but how does it amount to “defending” Israel’s actions, any more than, say, “Bombing Cambodia may be evil, but it will probably boost Nixon’s approval rating before the 1972 elections” amounts to “defending” US policy, or “the Great Purge probably succeeded in preventing leadership challenges from within the Communist Party” amounts to “defending” Stalin?

Please note: I’m not impugning your political morals, for which I have entire respect. Just a quibble about usage.

411

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 7:56 pm

Lee Arnold
The problem with Israeli ‘strategy’ (afaict) is laid out succintly here

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/israels-real-problem-it-has-no-strategy-10907

and in a number of recent books on the topic. Simply,because of the way the state came into existence, the way it perceived threats and the way their national security institutions developed(not to mention larger regional realities of existing in a hostile, volatile region) they (Israeli elites) have often had difficulty developing a coherent domestic and regional strategy.
‘Israel’s’ policy on Gaza seems clear, it doesnt know what to do. They would be happy if the Egyptians would take responsibility for ‘the problem’of their hands , which the Egyptians dont want to do( and why Egypt are generally reluctant to open border crossings without similar concessions from Israel, because they fear the question of what to do with Gaza will become their problem)
The most sensible solution would be a reconcilliation between Hamas and Fatah, Gaza transferred to PA authority, and a start to negotiations on a final settlment. Of course most of this(perhaps all of it, but to varying degrees) is not politically feasible in Israel at the moment, and it also has the difficulty of being implemented because of serious intra Palestinian political divisions.
So Hamas (with very few options) exist to resist, to fight futile wars every few years to negotiate over restrictions to the siege, and Israel mounts these large scale attacks to appease domestic(coalitional probably rather than from the electorate) concerns and to degrade Hamas’s military capability.
I did link to Thrall’s article up above, if you wanted to ‘discuss’ it, you could have just done so.

412

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 7:58 pm

..and, LEE, there has been plenty of ‘non emotional’ analysis on these threads. If you’d wanted you could have just jumped in to one of those discussions. Instead you seemed to just want to settle a grudge and dismiss any oppostion to your perspective as irrational emotion driven nonsense.

413

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 9:25 pm

Lee said – “I think that your first sentence is wrong. One can easily defend Israel’s actions tactically, as a battle in a war for short-term gains (basically, the pro-Israeli position, as far as it goes), but also believe AT THE SAME TIME that these actions are strategically wrong and will finally destroy Israel. Part of it is the difference between tactics and strategy.
I am not the only one who holds this position. We can now read that it is shared by Yuval Diskin and other ex-heads of Israeli security and military”

me- You are confusing things. All of these people support a negotiated solution to the problem(along the lines of two states) and most(possibly all) think that will involve talking to Hamas. Some of them (not Thrall, prob not Koplow, Im not sure about Diskin but plausibly not) *don’t* ‘support’ this war, or similar ones, but see them as counterproductive and the result of an inability or unwillingness to enter serious discussions.
Others, like Amos Oz and possibly Diskin, do support this war because they perceive a threat from Hamas.
Others think that this war could serve a greater ‘strategic’ purpose if the Israeli government used the oppotunity of a (potentially) weakened Hamas to restablish PA control over Gaza and enter into negotiations.
Other think it’s just another run in the cycle.

Lee- ” Now, certain new tactical policies would be required to prevent Israel’s eventual strategic destruction that are VASTLY different than what we are seeing now, and would require patience, psychology, and technological development. But that is not a conversation that anyone here has responded to, so let’s just forget it.”

me- This is basically meaningless. What are these ‘certain tactical policies’? What do you mean by ‘strategic destruction’ ? What are you even talking about here when you talk of tactics and strategy ? You havent defined any of these concepts, so this paragraph doesnt actually say anything. And it speaks to your larger use of ‘tactics’ and ‘strategy’ as soundbites (rather than carefully laying out what you mean)

Lee – “And since all the bubbleheads have amply demonstrated that they do not even read to the end of a comment before drawing their conclusions, there also seems to be a reading comprehension problem, whictactically, as a battle in a war for short-term gains (basically, the pro-Israeli position, as far as it goes), but also believe AT THE SAME TIME that these actions are strategically wrong and will finally destroy Israel.”

Me – Again you have to define your terms. What do you mean by ‘destroy’ Israel ? Why this constant need for hyperbole ?
People *don’t* misunderstand the very basic point you and Amos Oz are making, (in fact this was Joshua Burtons position over the last few threads) that you can support a l/t political solution(which isnt even the position you’re holding, afaict) AND support these wars because of the threat from Hamas.
People are (or at least I am) saying that the conditions exist because of a failure to resolve the Palestinian issue, that the Hamas threat now exists in the specific context of a besieged, impoverished Gaza, and that this weakens the moral case to support Israeli ‘tactics’.
But again, you’re not developing an actual argument, just making very general claims about ‘tactical’ and ‘strategic’ positions that you wont define.

414

Lee A. Arnold 08.04.14 at 9:49 pm

Geo #410 — Exactly so. You cannot defend Israel’s actions in terms of long-term strategy, because some day the Arabs and Muslims will unify, and destroy Israel. But as short-term tactics, supporters of Israel’s action defend it to stop the missiles coming out.

415

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 9:57 pm

“Exactly so. You cannot defend Israel’s actions in terms of long-term strategy, because some day the Arabs and Muslims will unify, and destroy Israel. But as short-term tactics, supporters of Israel’s action defend it to stop the missiles coming out.”

This IS NOT what people like Diskin mean when they talk about an inability to develop a long term strategy. What they mean is an inability to develop some sort of coherent set of alliances regionally, perceive threats sensibly and settle the situation with the Palestinians.
The idea that “the Arabs and Muslims will unify, and destroy Israel” is absolutely nonsensical (and emotional) and not one person you quoted above actually subscribes to that position. (As we can see there are pretty deep divisions within and between Arab countries, let alone within and between ALL Muslim countries.)

416

Lee A. Arnold 08.04.14 at 10:01 pm

Israel’s long-term strategic problem was nicely put by Stratfor:
http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/gaming-israel-and-palestine#axzz38r5V2UJx

417

Lee A. Arnold 08.04.14 at 10:11 pm

And I would imagine that everyone I cited above has it in the back of their minds, too. Certainly Yuval Diskin and Amos Oz have said as much.

People who insist that it will never happen, explain things this way: 1. the other Arab and Muslim countries don’t care about the Palestinians anyway; 2. the Arab world will never get together, and the Muslim faith will never get together; and 3. Israel will always remain militarily ahead.

None of these propositions will survive much examination.

Their last, often unspoken fallback is that, in the future pinch-to-come, the US military will finally be called in, to take care of the longer-range problems.

The Pentagon, however, must be getting the idea that any wider regional fight is going to be a big, big mistake. Note that now, the US is being forced into an alliance with Iran, whose leaders want to destroy Israel, to save the Baghdad government against ISIS, whose leaders want to destroy Israel, all in the unhappy aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, whose leader wanted to destroy Israel.

Further, the Iraq War has chastened them of civilian elite’s pretensions to wisdom, much as Vietnam frightened them of loss of support from the homeland masses.

418

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 10:20 pm

Everything in that stratfor analysis( from the intractability of the 2 state solution, to demographic issues in israel, to what an inability to end the occupation will mean for israel, to the fact that the current war doesnt fit into a larger strategic frame, to the fact that a palestinian state will not be viable) has been noted on this and previous threads and are not original sentiments.
But to go from that to trying to predict 50 years down the line, or imagining Israel’s destruction, is hyperbolic and pointless.

419

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 10:34 pm

Lee – your argument at 417 doesnt show any actual knowledge of regional politics. Iran doesnt *actually* want to destroy Israel, and Diskin(and past Shin Bet leaders you quote) in fact acknowledge that, and want the civilian leadership to develop a more nuanced perspective(at least rhetorically)on Iran.
Israel and Iran had relatively decent relations in the past before the Gulf War upset the regional balance of power and pushed them into more confrontational positions. The Iranian leaderships tone on a number of issues has quite obviously changed over the past few years, and a closer relationship between the US and Iran would imply a weakening of Iranian oppositionism and greater leverage on Iranian behaviour.

Pretty much every relevant Arab state in the region has shown a willingness to enter into meaningful long term peace agreements with Israel. (and many have) YES a succesion of missteps could produce a cataclysmic regional war (I believe that) but it’s very different to acknowledge that threat, than to push the sort of determinstic position you are. (A series of missteps could occur in a variety of other conflicts, such as India/Pakistan, or between Russia and the West in Ukraine, with very serious consequences)
ISIS do not have, and will not get, the capacity to mount a serious threat to Israel,and will probably be tied up for the forseeable future defending what they have.

This:

“People who insist that it will never happen, explain things this way: 1. the other Arab and Muslim countries don’t care about the Palestinians anyway; 2. the Arab world will never get together, and the Muslim faith will never get together; and 3. Israel will always remain militarily ahead.”

is absurd. there are numerous reasons the ‘Muslim world’ wont fight an apocalyptic war on the behalf of Palestine.
Again, you’ve pretty much insulted a lot of people for not paying attention to your insights while seeming to know very little about the situation.

420

Lee A. Arnold 08.04.14 at 10:36 pm

Curious that so many more people would start focusing on the same set of ideas, though they are hyperbolic and pointless. Especially curious that this should be happening in the military, security, and strategic communities.

421

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 10:37 pm

They are NOT pushing the positions you’re claiming they are pushing. They are pushing (different) though considerably more nuanced positions.
Anyway Im done, so Ill leave it.

422

Lee A. Arnold 08.04.14 at 11:20 pm

Before you attempt to escape, you might link to a quote where any Israeli military or security leader has said that the leaders of Iran do not “*actually* want to destroy Israel”, as you wrote. Not when the leaders of Iran have threatened it. Diskin and the others (including some US military people) have actually said something very different, 1. that the Iranians are not simply crazy enough shoot missiles any old time, which should be obvious and was in response to some of the more blatant propagandizing by the Israeli civilian leadership and the US neocons; and 2. that an attack on Iran’s nuclear operations would be incomplete and quite counterproductive. It is hard to believe that you have read considerably more nuanced positions, but I would love to read otherwise.

You also wrote, “Pretty much every relevant Arab state in the region has shown a willingness to enter into meaningful long term peace agreements with Israel,” but again this misinterprets the reality. These agreements have been based upon US sweeteners and US assurances to get the Israeli/Palestinian conflict under control, and to get a state for the Palestinians. Which they need, to sell to their home populations. And of course it isn’t under control. King Abdullah just accused Israel of war crimes a few days ago, and is calling upon the international community to intervene. As well he should. This is one of the reasons why the US keeps trying to get the parties back to the table: to set up diplomatic channels to try to prevent another Six Day War or worse.

Anyway that isn’t the strategic concern here. Because of US diplomatic efforts and muscle, we are not talking about a general war in the near term. But if ISIS builds a state out of part of Syria and Iraq, and Shi’ite Iraq joins with Iran, there is a point at which Jordan and Saudi Arabia will be at risk (in fact they are already) and the US is going to be called upon to get into lots more wars to defend more allies which it won’t even know that it can prop up in the aftermath, as indeed we see with Iraq.

Despite your assurances, I find it hard to believe that military strategists do not worry about this little conflict being the emotional seed of a big regional war that in the end will have little to do with the Palestinians, much like World War I.

423

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 11:24 pm

“Before you attempt to escape, you might link to a quote where any Israeli military or security leader has said that the leaders of Iran do not “*actually* want to destroy Israel””

http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/israeli-leaders-cant-be-trusted-on-iran-says-former-shin-bet-chief

Im sorry if I couldnt find the actual wording, if that’s your get out clause, though the implication is clear. Of course if you knew anything about this you wouldnt need to ask.

424

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 11:26 pm

I dont understand your first paragraph, which seems to accept the claim that the Iranian leadership dont want to destroy Israel ?

425

Seth Gordon 08.04.14 at 11:30 pm

One factor that I haven’t seen discussed here (thought I may have missed it) is that Egypt and Saudi Arabia don’t seem to be as interested in castigating Israel as they have in previous conflicts. Is it simply that they consider Hamas even more of a threat, or have they also made some deals on the side? When the dust from the current conflict settles, are Egyptian and Saudi diplomats, not to mention Fatah, going to tell their Israeli counterparts “you owe us a favor”?

426

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 11:36 pm

The rest of your comment is just changing the goalposts from your previous comments where you were just spouting generalities.
YES the US has been deeply involved in gauranteeing peace agreements and security in the region, this is a function the US fulfils in a number of regions. YES US relative decline or a change in alliances in the region could lead to serious consequences(which I acknowledged in a previous comments) YES a sustainable ISIS state could have numerous effects regionally (including in Saudi Arabia) and would pose a serious problem. Unlikely that Iran and Iraq will ‘join together’as a coherent state, but YES if that happened there could be serious consequences for Jordan and Saudi (and YES both already face serious threats)
AGAIN, I said there could be a serious escalation in the regional conflict, and again this doesnt justify your past rhetoric(though thanks for fleshing it out at least)

427

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 11:38 pm

Seth – Yeah, i think egypt and saudi view Hamas (as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood) as a greater problem than Israel. Both regimes are quite happy with their relationship with israel, afaik.

428

Ronan(rf) 08.04.14 at 11:58 pm

Gregory Gausse wrote an interesting enough report on the evolving regional war

http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2014/07/22-beyond-sectarianism-cold-war-gause

429

Collin Street 08.04.14 at 11:58 pm

When the dust from the current conflict settles, are Egyptian and Saudi diplomats, not to mention Fatah, going to tell their Israeli counterparts “you owe us a favor”?

Noone’s going to extend that sort of credit to israel. It’s what happens when you make a habit of not living up to deals; the US may be guaranteeing things, or paying directly, or egypt and the sauds might be making some sort of immediate/concrete deal with israel, but noone’s going to be accepting future israeli favours for anything.

[thinking of israel as a drunken frat-boy constantly being bailed out by long-suffering daddy US is pretty accurate, at this point. These things generally end badly.]

430

Lee A. Arnold 08.05.14 at 12:20 am

Ronan(rf) #423: “Im sorry if I couldnt find the actual wording, if that’s your get out clause, though the implication is clear.”

Wait a minute, the implication of that article you link to, is exactly what I wrote above.

In the article you linked to, Diskin says, “Actually, many experts say that an Israeli attack would accelerate the Iranian nuclear race. What the Iranians prefer to do today slowly and quietly, they would have the legitimacy to do quickly and in a much shorter time.”

The article also says “[Benny] Gantz said he did not believe Iran’s leadership would decide to build a nuclear bomb and that sanctions and diplomatic efforts were starting to bear fruit.”

But even that does not say that Iran is not antagonistic to Israel, only that Ganz thinks that sanctions and diplomatic efforts might convince them not to build a bomb.

431

Ronan(rf) 08.05.14 at 12:28 am

Yes Lee, precisely. Which is why I was reacting intially to:

“The Pentagon, however, must be getting the idea that any wider regional fight is going to be a big, big mistake. Note that now, the US is being forced into an alliance with Iran, whose leaders want to destroy Israel, to save the Baghdad government against ISIS, whose leaders want to destroy Israel, all in the unhappy aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, whose leader wanted to destroy Israel. “

But now you’ve backed away from(or clarified) that rhetoric. So we agree. Yes, Iran is antagonistic towards Israel, i never said otherwise. I objected to your rhetoric about wanting to ‘destroy’ Israel.

432

J Thomas 08.05.14 at 1:18 am

#425

One factor that I haven’t seen discussed here (thought I may have missed it) is that Egypt and Saudi Arabia don’t seem to be as interested in castigating Israel as they have in previous conflicts.

Let’s review — the egyptian people as a whole threw out Mubarak because they were sick of him. They wanted democracy or anyway something other than a US stooge of a dictator.

They got an election and a majority elected Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood — fanatic? Whatever Morsi was, he wanted to get rid of the remnants of the old government, and in the process he got a lot of people upset. So the military threw him out. The military ran things long enough to set up a new election in which General al-Sisi won 96% of the votes in an election where various opponents said the rules were rigged in his favor. It’s not completely clear whether he is another US stooge of a dictator, but it looks promising.

It’s a little soon to tell what Sisi intends about anything much, and it’s a little soon to tell whether it matters what he intends. It looks like the Egyptian public does not want a US stooge dictator and they probably do not want a Muslim Brotherhood dictator, and it’s dangerous for a third choice to speak out.

Meanwhile pundits are making a big deal over the wording of a message from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. He accused Israel of war crimes and wanted something done about it, but he did not specifically say that Israel was wrong to attack at all. It’s possible to go from his wording to figure that Saudi Arabia is in trouble and needs help from Israel and the USA.

It’s very hard to tell what’s really going on in Saudi Arabia because it is a monarchy with no hint of free speech. People who are dissatisfied can get into serious trouble for saying anything, so if they are dissatisfied they must simmer in silence and get more upset quietly. The monarchy may be in serious trouble or maybe not, it’s hard to tell. If they are in danger there isn’t much the USA or Israel could do to help them. The very idea that they are depending on the USA (or even worse, Israel) to hold onto power would weaken them a whole lot more. I don’t think we should read too much into this message. It probably reveals a lot to people who really know the score, but people like you and me don’t know enough to even tell who really knows and who’s just a poseur.

Saudi Arabia might become an ex-monarchy suddenly, and I have no way to predict when, or what the odds are.

Egypt might have another Arab Spring moment, and possibly the army will cause mass casualties but more likely not.

I have the impression that Jordan is reasonably stable, but if King Abdullah of Jordan falls unexpectedly then suddenly there will be lots of people explaining why and showing that they predicted it all along. They just won’t be particularly noticeable until then.

It’s early to say whether ISIS and Iraqi Sunnis will get along. They might need each other but it’s too soon to tell whether they can tolerate each other.

And it’s early to figure how long Netanyahu and Likud can hold out. This operation was supposed to consolidate their control over Israel, but it will take time to see how many Israelis fell for it.

Two years from now things might look very different. But the one vitally important thing which so far has never changed, is US voter support for Israel. As long as the USA is the only world superpower and the USA unconditionally supports Israel, Israel is reasonably safe.

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Lee A. Arnold 08.05.14 at 1:32 am

Ronan(rf) #431: “I objected to your rhetoric about wanting to ‘destroy’ Israel.”

Both Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are ON RECORD as saying that Israel must be destroyed. They have each said it more than once. Possession of nuclear weapons is a side story.

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john c. halasz 08.05.14 at 1:57 am

@433:

Both were quoting G.A. Khomeini and the correct translation was something to the effect that Israel will or should vanish from the pages of time. Zionist mis-translation and propaganda aside, there was nothing there about destroying Israel, let alone Israeli or Jewish people. It was sheerly a matter of denying the “legitimacy” of an exclusively Jewish state.

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J Thomas 08.05.14 at 2:00 am

Both Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are ON RECORD as saying that Israel must be destroyed.

Are you sure about the translation? Could they have meant that Israel most not be allowed to continue as an officially racist nation?

(Note: Neither Jews nor Aryans are really a race. So neither Nazis nor Zionists are really racist.)

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Lee A. Arnold 08.05.14 at 3:09 am

I don’t think Israel should rely upon interpretations that Iran is merely being rhetorically demonstrative.

As I tried to argue in #405, Israel is doing the wrong thing in Gaza: it buys a little bit of time tactically, but it is just heading into a strategic disaster. That is why I think the derision shown to Israeli supporters here is wrong. It is also a humanitarian disaster, but Israeli supporters come back with justifications that the Palestinians are culpable too, and I think the proper real answer to them is: So what?, this isn’t going to work strategically in the long term.

This is essentially a military argument about the future. What interests me is that a lot more people are coming to the same conclusion — perhaps due to the shake-out from the Iraq War — but people seem to be arriving on the same page here, that this path is strategically bad.

So in regard to Iran, it does not look like Iran is not much of a tactical threat at the moment. But if you are dealing with a country whose supreme religious leader wants to “wipe Israel from the arena of time”, has been arming Hezbollah, and sent out a call last week to arm the Palestinians against the “Zionist rabid dogs”, then I’m not sure how you would argue to anyone concerned about Israel’s strategic future, that these are not threats to destroy Israel. I could be wrong about that, and maybe military people do sit around, splitting semantic hairs about religious interpretations. But I doubt they do.

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Donald Johnson 08.05.14 at 3:28 am

“Note: Neither Jews nor Aryans are really a race. So neither Nazis nor Zionists are really racist.”

This is a non sequitur, unless you think racists are people who base their opinions on a careful analysis of the latest findings of physical anthropologists and population geneticists. You can darn well be a racist against a category that has no biological meaning.

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roy belmont 08.05.14 at 3:50 am

You can be a bad person even if there is no name for what you’re doing.
Even if the name for what you’re doing is so lost in a fog of semantic obscurity it can’t be held still long enough to be uttered.
Even if calling you out on what you’re doing means the person calling you out is a bad person ahead of you and so must be silenced before they say what it is you’re doing.
You can still be a bad person even if no one knows how to accuse you of what you’re doing, because they don’t know how to say it.

Plus you can enable all that by being so afraid of the truth you allow lies to stand in its place.

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Lee A. Arnold 08.05.14 at 3:51 am

I also think Israel should forget about Iran except for their arming of Hezbollah, and instead work on ideas to divide the Palestinian population individually into the peacemakers who want to see their kids grow up, and the warmongers who fire their missiles from schools.

Hit a missile launcher within 30 seconds, no misses. This immediate sort of retaliation may be impossible with current technology, but it should be developed. Then, adopt a strict, immediate tit-for-tat approach to missiles from the Palestinians, and combine it with a policy of schools and jobs. And keep doing it for about 20 years.

Because, if you know your kid’s school is going to get hit 30 seconds after your nitwit cousin fires off a rocket from the courtyard, then you are going to set your own sites on your cousin.

This will effectively allow individual Palestinians the choice NOT to side with these haters, to argue with them, to chase them away. Israeli proportionality policies in the past were not precise enough to present the immediate choice. Action and response have always been divorced in time, and most people do not or cannot follow the thought.

Of course the current Israel policy does not do this; far from it… Israel is dealing instead with the highest level of Palestinian leaders, and blaming them to keep everybody in line. Then the infractions build up and up, finally leading to a response like this one, Operation Murder People, and thus it drives the Palestinians further into the waiting arms of the warmongers.

In addition to being a horror, it could not be more inept.

These new, different tactics would lead to the long-term strategy of helping people in other Arab countries make the same sort of choice. How? Because as it is now, they are all going to be forced into war, or get shot down trying to bring peace. What chance can an Arab peacemaker have in a country whipped up into a total, stupid hate-frenzy against the Jews, without some different facts to point to?

You can’t even get US Republicans to agree on universal healthcare! People everywhere are that stupid! The tactic is, get ‘em on to universal healthcare first, and make the haters explain AFTERWARDS why it cannot work.

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J Thomas 08.05.14 at 4:15 am

“Note: Neither Jews nor Aryans are really a race. So neither Nazis nor Zionists are really racist.”

This is a non sequitur, unless you think racists are people who base their opinions on a careful analysis of the latest findings of physical anthropologists and population geneticists. You can darn well be a racist against a category that has no biological meaning.

OK, then, Nazis and Zionists are racists after all. I’m not picky.

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J Thomas 08.05.14 at 4:31 am

#436 Lee Arnold

As I tried to argue in #405, Israel is doing the wrong thing in Gaza: it buys a little bit of time tactically, but it is just heading into a strategic disaster.

I agree with you. We probably don’t particularly agree about the form of the strategic disaster, but I’m with you on the big picture.

That is why I think the derision shown to Israeli supporters here is wrong.

I don’t see that this makes derision wrong.

It is also a humanitarian disaster, but Israeli supporters come back with justifications that the Palestinians are culpable too, and I think the proper real answer to them is: So what?, this isn’t going to work strategically in the long term.

I agree. Even in the short run, decreasing numbers of people will believe it’s all or mostly the Palestinians’ fault. Though the media keep trying. They can’t exactly write off europe, they need a lot of trade with europe.

So in regard to Iran, it does not look like Iran is not much of a tactical threat at the moment. But if you are dealing with a country whose supreme religious leader wants to “wipe Israel from the arena of time”, has been arming Hezbollah, and sent out a call last week to arm the Palestinians against the “Zionist rabid dogs”, then I’m not sure how you would argue to anyone concerned about Israel’s strategic future, that these are not threats to destroy Israel.

As you said before, so what? The USA went 80 years with the USSR wanting to destroy capitalism and also the USA, and that worked out. What should Israel do if important people in Iran talk like they want to destroy Israel? Should they destroy Iran? I guess that’s one possible way to keep Iranians from wanting to destroy Israel, if all the Iranians are dead they can’t want to destroy Israel. It might be better just to live with it.

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Lee A. Arnold 08.05.14 at 5:04 am

J Thomas #441: “I don’t see that this makes derision wrong…Should they destroy Iran?”

It matters what you think may be gained by engaging a supporter of the current Gaza operation, and possibly changing his or her mind by arguing that the apparent short-term tactical gains are going to be nothing, compared to the long-term strategic disaster that Israel is setting up for itself.

I don’t think Israel or the US should attack Iran. That would finally be as counterproductive as the attack on Gaza.

With the USSR the standoff was symmetrical nuclear MAD + proxy wars around the world in which millions died.

It is arguable that if Iran gained nuclear weapons it would immediately be confronted with the same logic (MAD) and realize that nukes are just a useless money pit, and so nothing would happen except proxy wars.

I think the bigger fear, in that case, is that secret, uncontrolled actors within Iran would proliferate nukes to smaller, third-party terrorists, something I imagine even Putin is concerned about.

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J Thomas 08.05.14 at 6:03 am

J Thomas #441: “I don’t see that this makes derision wrong…Should they destroy Iran?”

It matters what you think may be gained by engaging a supporter of the current Gaza operation, and possibly changing his or her mind by arguing that the apparent short-term tactical gains are going to be nothing, compared to the long-term strategic disaster that Israel is setting up for itself.

That makes sense!

My experience with people who support Israel by arguing on blogs, has been that if I disagree with them about anything then they decide I am the enemy. Then if I talk about what Israel ought to do, they think “He’s an antisemite who wants Israel to be destroyed and all her people genocided. When he talks about what Israel should do to survive he’s lying.”

It is arguable that if Iran gained nuclear weapons it would immediately be confronted with the same logic (MAD) and realize that nukes are just a useless money pit, and so nothing would happen except proxy wars.

Sure. But the point is, if that happened then Israel would not be the only nation in the middle east with nukes. So Israel could not threaten to nuke anybody they wanted and face no reprisal. Israel’s bargaining position would be weakened, and this is the big issue completely apart from the idea that Iran would commit mass suicide by nuking Israel.

I think the bigger fear, in that case, is that secret, uncontrolled actors within Iran would proliferate nukes to smaller, third-party terrorists, something I imagine even Putin is concerned about.

Nobody else lets nukes out of their own control. The tactical nukes the USA gave to NATO were always in US facilities and handled by US troops. We didn’t let the Belgians or the Germans touch them.

There’s another issue, though. In 20 years or so Iran will mostly run out of oil. Already, oil is worth something like $100/barrel and they burn oil in electric power plants. Kind of like burning $100 bills. They want nuclear power plants.

But the USA tells them “We don’t trust you with power plant fuel. So we insist that you sell the uranium you mine to foreigners, and let them process it. Then you buy fuel rods from them. When the fuel rods get old you give them to foreigners who reprocess them and sell them back to you. We won’t let you process your own uranium because we don’t trust you not to make nukes like we do.”

And what we don’t say but everybody is thinking, is that when they have no alternative for electricity except the fuel that foreigners sell them, we can make an embargo on that fuel and really make them suffer.

The obvious choice for them is to build breeder reactors. Then instead of expensive U235-enriched fuel they can turn their U238 into fuel and have lots and lots of it. That’s the obvious way to make nuclear power cheaper. But we tell the world they can’t do that because it makes nuclear bombs cheap.

If we wind up with nuclear power we will probably go with breeder reactors, and we’ll have to give up on denying them to everybody else unless we stay incredibly hypocritical. But Iran only has about 20 years and they need to start building power plants soon. You build one and train the people who will then build two. While you build those, the one that works is used to train the people who will run the next two. Then you build four while you train the people who will run them on the three that work…. It’s slow and they don’t have time for very many of those cycles.

Iranians want their own power plants that use their own uranium that nobody can keep them from having with sanctions. But we’re trying to stop them. Israel will be safe from Iran if we can cut off Iran’s electricity and shut down their economy any time we want to.

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LFC 08.05.14 at 12:14 pm

@Ronan:
I assume that Gause paper you linked at 428 is a little better than the summary makes it sound. I might download it. (I might even read it, who knows. On balance, unlikely, but not impossible.) The summary refers to states that “actually govern.” It wd be interesting to read it just to find out which states in the region he thinks “actually govern”. Does it matter if they “actually govern” oppressively or w attention to a fraction of the citizenry? Or is everything ok if the trains run on time? It’s a Brookings paper so I assume there’s a patina of “of course democracy is important but must not have unrealistic expectations,” “too bad about the coup in Egypt but” tsk tsk tsk… Or am I being unfair to him? (possibly)

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Ronan(rf) 08.05.14 at 12:50 pm

LFC- yes and no. I find a lot of what Gausse has written interesting, but he is a mainstream realist(to generalise) so he values stability over democracy and human rights. (Although not dogmatically) ‘What the US should do’ is really just an add on to the end of the article, whereas most of the rest of it lays out the dynamics of what’s happening now.(more concise version by Curtis Ryan here)

http://www.merip.org/mer/mer262/new-arab-cold-war-struggle-syria

His answer is a ‘realist’ one, that the US should look out for it’s own interests(which he lays out) not become involved in any of the proxy wars, and support states that are in control of their territories; but also should continue the thaw in relations with Iran and support the creation of more ‘representative’ governments, which could weaken sectarian divisons.(Although he doesnt think the US has much influence in that respect)
re Egypt, he thinks the US primary concern should be to engage with Egypt if they continue to follow an FP of cooperation with the US and peace with Israel, though also diplomatically push for political reform and against human rights abuses(though as a secondary interst)
The states he thinks ‘actually govern’are those least affected by the uprisings(Jordan, the Arab Gulf States, Iran)

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LFC 08.05.14 at 2:19 pm

@Ronan
thks, helpful

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Lee A. Arnold 08.05.14 at 5:41 pm

J Thomas #443: “Nobody else lets nukes out of their own control”

Actually we don’t KNOW that. Also, it doesn’t mean there couldn’t be a first time. It is easy to imagine that there are non-state actors who would love to get hold of one.

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J Thomas 08.05.14 at 6:50 pm

#447 Lee Arnold

J Thomas #443: “Nobody else lets nukes out of their own control”

Actually we don’t KNOW that. Also, it doesn’t mean there couldn’t be a first time. It is easy to imagine that there are non-state actors who would love to get hold of one.

My argument is a No True Scotsman one.

I say that if a NGO named A is so fully trusted by a government B that B is wiling to give A nukes — B trusts A’s motives and competence that much — then A is not truly an NGO.

However, it’s possible that a careless government might have nukes stolen from it. A long time ago there were rumors that a considerable amount of plutonium was missing from US military stocks, and there were claims that Israeli sympathizers took it to give Israel’s nuclear program a jump-start. Of course now Israel does not need US nukes or nuclear material; they have plenty of both. And I’m sure our security is good enough to stop anybody else from taking it.

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Lee A. Arnold 08.05.14 at 9:32 pm

Wikipedia defines No True Scotsman as “an informal fallacy, an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion.”

450

Anarcissie 08.05.14 at 10:01 pm

Nuclear weapons are not very easy to deal with. They are very, very expensive to make, and the explosive material deteriorates over time and has to be replaced. The mechanisms which bring the plutonium or U-238 together must do so with extraordinary precision in order to get a good yield, and thus they are big, heavy, complicated, and require the attention of skilled technicians. It would not be utterly impossible for amateurs to get, keep, move, and eventually detonate a nuke, but it would be a real long shot.

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William Berry 08.05.14 at 10:54 pm

Anarcissie @450:

Some of your technical details are not strictly correct.

” . . . the explosive material deteriorates over time and has to be replaced.

The U-235 (most commonly used fissionable material in U.S. warheads) is infused with tritium (hydrogen with one proton and two neutrons in the nucleus), which enormously boosts the yield. H cannot be contained in metal indefinitely; it diffuses through metal matrices over time and escapes. It will even leak gradually from tanks lined with such as Cu or Ag, the materials that contain it best. So, occasionally, the warheads have to be recharged with tritium. When this is done, the weapons are restored to pristine condition and maximal yield.

“The mechanisms which bring the plutonium or U-238 together . . .”

The fissionable isotope used is enriched U-235 (still in a matrix of much less fissionable U-238). The most sophisticated U.S. thermo-nuclear warheads are compact and capable of being MIRVed on such as Trident III SLBMs. They are small, conical devices that weigh only a few hundred pounds each and contain few, if any, moving parts. The old “Little Boy” mechanism you seem to be alluding to is obsolete. The latest weapons achieve critical mass by instantaneous implosive compression of a nearly perfect spheroid rather than by mechanical assembly.

If terrorists could get hold of one of these compact weapons intact, it would retain its potency for quite some time.

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William Berry 08.05.14 at 11:00 pm

Sorry, in above, Ag (silver) should be Au (gold).

Silver is good, but not as good as gold!

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Matt 08.06.14 at 12:55 am

William Berry, that is not quite correct either. Plutonium is the most common fissile material in US nuclear warheads, preferred over uranium because it requires less mass for equal yield. I don’t know if any still-operational weapons use U-235 for the fission primary. The main US military application of highly enriched uranium nowadays is for compact reactors that power submarines and aircraft carriers. Plutonium decays much faster than U-235, and the alpha decay leads to tiny helium gas bubbles trapped in the metal. Figuring out how the plutonium properties change and affect performance as helium builds up, without actually exploding any weapons to determine how they’re responding, is a large part of the USA’s fantastic investment in supercomputer simulation of weapons since live testing ceased in 1992.

I don’t think that the tritium is actually infused into fissile material in US weapons. It is stored in pressurized gas bottles integrated with the warhead until shortly before explosion. The lifetime-limiting factor is not gas diffusion through the container walls but the 12.3 year half life of tritium. The gas bottles need to be regularly serviced, with tritium re-purified and topped up from fresh sources. As the US weapons stockpile has downsized some of the replacement tritium has come from retired weapons, but some brand new material is required as well. The US has to make its own top-up tritium because other nations won’t sell it for use in weapons.

I think that all operational US weapons are at least tritium “boosted”, meaning that they need a deuterium-tritium mixture to provide extra neutrons for fission, even if they don’t go fully thermonuclear with a secondary stage. That means that there isn’t any weapon in the enduring stockpile that you could just warehouse for 10 years without touching it, then pull out for immediate deployment during a crisis.

One might wonder why the US didn’t bother to build any weapons that could be trusted to endure without expensive tritium production, specialized maintenance, and many billions of dollars spent on cutting edge simulation and laboratory testing. The weaponeers’ answer is that weapons built with plutonium and tritium are more powerful, in smaller packages, than uranium weapons without tritium. But I don’t think that any rivals think that it would be a good idea to wage total war on the USA if the Americans could destroy their cities only once over instead of three times over. I think the better explanation is that the Enduring Stockpile program is intended to do double-duty as an Enduring Jobs program. Simpler low-maintenance nuclear weapons would cut jobs in the nuclear weapons sector, and military spending is one area where government jobs programs always have political champions.

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Collin Street 08.06.14 at 1:56 am

One might wonder why the US didn’t bother to build any weapons that could be trusted to endure without expensive tritium production, specialized maintenance, and many billions of dollars spent on cutting edge simulation and laboratory testing.

No, not really. I think it’s pretty obvious why they didn’t:
+ when the weapons were designed, and when they were built, noone expected that they’d have to be kept in service as long as they had: the wind-down in weapons production _proceeded_ the effective moratorium.
+ Maintenance-free doesn’t mean failure-free: things that don’t need maintenance don’t get maintenance. They just sit there until they fail, and get replaced. This doesn’t work for nukes, because a: they don’t make new ones anyway, and b: failure isn’t obvious without maintenance-level inspection.

If there were regular nuclear war,then we’d have low-maintenance nukes. Precisely because we don’t, and therefore don’t have regular turnover of the nuke stockpile and replacement with newly-manufactured newly-designed ones, we run with the high-cost ones or not at all.

In any case, I can’t for the life of me see how reducing the cost of ownership for nukes makes the world a better place.

[bringing it back to topic, and now that it's been raised, I shudder to think what sort of state the israeli nuclear arsenal is in: none of this is stuff the IDF or the israeli government seem to be institutionally good at managing.]

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Matt 08.06.14 at 5:42 am

If there were regular nuclear war,then we’d have low-maintenance nukes. Precisely because we don’t, and therefore don’t have regular turnover of the nuke stockpile and replacement with newly-manufactured newly-designed ones, we run with the high-cost ones or not at all.

It’s if you used up the weapons quickly that shelf life/maintenance wouldn’t matter — during the World Wars it wasn’t a big deal if shells were shelf-stable for only a couple of years, because they were going to be used sooner than that. If you build weapons that are supposed to sit around doing nothing but deterring for decades, and you’re pretty sure that building a second batch isn’t in the cards in the dire event that they are used, then maintenance cost/durability is much more significant. The US once had weapons that didn’t rely on tritium but none of those designs were chosen for the Enduring Stockpile.

In terms of existential risks to civilization it would be better if the US didn’t keep nuclear weapons around at all. In fact the NPT requires the nuclear weapons states to work toward nuclear disarmament, though in practice every member of the nuclear club seems committed to keeping weapons forever or indefinitely, whichever passes first. Should I be upset that the US wastes money on nuclear weapons like on so many other military programs, or happy that the US hasn’t embraced more cost-effective ways to keep mass destruction at the ready? Decisions, decisions…

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J Thomas 08.06.14 at 8:54 am

#449

Wikipedia defines No True Scotsman as “an informal fallacy, an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion.

My use is definitional. If a nation intentionally gives nukes to an NGO, it’s because that nation is willing to bet everything that the NGO will completely follow that nation’s policies.

A nation might give a revolutionary group a bunch of machine guns (when did that name get archaic?) and mortars and shoulder-held anti-aircraft rockets and tell them to have fun and not worry that a few of the rockets might get traded around and be used to shoot down airliners halfway around the world a few years later. That’s just water over the bridge. But if they give them a nuke it’s because they are 100% sure the group will use it precisely as intended.

That the group is a reliable agent of national policy, and not really a third party at all.

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Collin Street 08.06.14 at 8:59 am

If you build weapons that are supposed to sit around doing nothing but deterring for decades, and you’re pretty sure that building a second batch isn’t in the cards in the dire event that they are used, then maintenance cost/durability is much more significant.

It’s not cost, it’s social dynamics. Building institutions that reliably perform preventative maintenance is hard: building institutions that fix broken things is easy.

Maintenance-free nukes cannot be relied on. The nukes will need to be examined to make sure something unexpected hasn’t happened and they’ll detonate reliably, but if all you need to do is check them carefully every ten years you run a solid chance that that won’t happen. If on the other hand every ten years you need to strip them down, change their batteries and put them together, this will be done reliably and you’ll run a pretty solid chance that the unexpected failures will be spotted.

Remember: institutions, not devices.

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J Thomas 08.06.14 at 9:50 am

#439 Lee Arnold

I also think Israel should forget about Iran except for their arming of Hezbollah, and instead work on ideas to divide the Palestinian population individually into the peacemakers who want to see their kids grow up, and the warmongers who fire their missiles from schools.

Israel already does some of this. They try to divide the Palestinian people into those who are ready to surrender and accept whatever crumbs the Israelis give them for being passive and ignored, from those who try to get something more.

Hit a missile launcher within 30 seconds, no misses. This immediate sort of retaliation may be impossible with current technology, but it should be developed.

We already have something close to that for artillery. When an artillery round is fired we can triangulate quickly and tell precisely where it came from, and hit back. This is part of why there is so much emphasis on rockets. With a field gun the gun is expensive and the ammo is cheap, while with rockets the rocket is expensive and the launcher is cheap. If you’re only going to get one shot off before the gun is gone, the rocket is cheaper.

If Israel did that, Palestinians would launch rockets with fuses so they would have time to get away before the site was hit. Israelis would say that would mean the policy failed.

Then, adopt a strict, immediate tit-for-tat approach to missiles from the Palestinians, and combine it with a policy of schools and jobs.

And citizenship. And water rights.

And land ownership. Israel currently has a policy that it is usually illegal to sell land to Israeli-arabs. It would help a lot to let Palestinians buy and sell land. Give them clear Israeli title to their land, including all the land that has been taken from them. Then let them sell it if they want to. Buy it back at high prices with US money. The USA wouldn’t give that money to Palestinians, but we’d give it to Israel.

If Israel gave citizenship and full voting rights to 7 million Palestinians, I think their problem with Palestinian terrorists would soon be over.

These new, different tactics would lead to the long-term strategy of helping people in other Arab countries make the same sort of choice. How? Because as it is now, they are all going to be forced into war, or get shot down trying to bring peace.

Sadat won the 1973 war. He had a force across the Suez, Israel gave their best shot at attacking it and failed. He had SAM sites that neutralized the Israeli air force. By any reasonable standard Israel would retreat to Gidi and Mitla and would have to negotiate some sort of peace. Israel got their nukes ready.

Then the USA stepped in. We did a massive resupply. We replaced the Israeli tanks with better US tanks that previously had been in western europe to stop a USSR invasion. We gave them new planes. We gave them amphibious stuff to cross the Suez. We gave them spy satellite data to tell just what the Egyptians were doing. We figured out ECM to beat the SAMs, and a strategy to put it all together. Then Israel won. And after the victory we required Israel to retreat to Midi and Gitla, and gave them more resupply and money to build new bases to replace those lost in western Sinai.

Sadat said, “I can fight Israel but I can’t fight the USA.” No arab government has ever fought Israel since. They know they can’t fight the USA.

What chance can an Arab peacemaker have in a country whipped up into a total, stupid hate-frenzy against the Jews, without some different facts to point to?

Arabs know they can’t fight the USA. They know the USA unconditionally supports Israel. Various arab nations have proposed reasonable-sounding two-state solutions for Israel and Palestine, and the Arab League has done that. Israel in each case says the proposals are flawed and not an adequate basis to begin negotiation. There must be no preconditions to peace talks, except that Palestinians must agree not to commit violence before or during talks, and must agree to various preconditions. The USA announces we will be an honest broker for peace, and treat both sides fairly, sometimes in the same speech that we say we are totally committed to Israel.

The fundamental argument Israelis have against peace is that they would rather have land than peace. As long as the USA guarantees victory, land is more valuable than peace.

The Arab League has proposed an agreement where Israel has title to everything inside the 1967 borders. Some Israelis say that they would tear up that agreement and keep fighting as soon as Palestine has the West Bank etc, but they have publicly agreed to it. But Israel doesn’t accept that as a basis for negotiation because they think they need to hold onto more of the West Bank. They need to control the border with Jordan to make sure Palestinians don’t smuggle anything into Palestine that Israelis don’t want them to have. They need military installations in the West Bank in case Jordan attacks (or some other nation attacks through Jordan). Israel is too narrow so they need a slice of the West Bank that’s close to the narrow part. And they need safe roads through Palestine that Palestinians can’t get close to. Etc.

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J Thomas 08.06.14 at 1:51 pm

#457 Collin Street

It’s not cost, it’s social dynamics. Building institutions that reliably perform preventative maintenance is hard: building institutions that fix broken things is easy.

Yes! A subtle, beautiful idea!

If we could get our failure rates to be more predictable….

Like if we could design bridges so that they would definitely collapse after 30 years.

It wouldn’t be a matter of inspecting them and deciding whether they’ve become dangerous. When we build a bridge we would be committing ourselves to build a replacement in 30 years or decide not to have one.

And it occurs to me that when we build a bridge it should always be designed so that our military can blow it up in case the nation is invaded and they have to retreat past it. Maybe we should set a particular time for each bridge when it is approaching its end of life, and order the military to blow it up then for practice. We would be committing ourselves to have a new bridge ready by that time….

Instead of letting our infrastructure slowly decay, it could go out with a bang!

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Matt 08.06.14 at 6:11 pm

Collin, I see what you are saying now. Thanks for keeping at it and keeping civil until I understood.

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Lee A. Arnold 08.07.14 at 5:43 am

J Thomas #456 — “My use is definitional.”

How convenient for you!

But, “uncontrolled actors within Iran” (#442), or within any country, are NEVER, by definition, under control (#443). My question (and it is not original) was whether uncontrolled actors could sneak nukes out, and sell them to third parties.

Meanwhile the definition of “NGO” is not what you think it is either.

On another matter, this: “whatever crumbs the Israelis give them for being passive and ignored” (#458), seems beside the point, as a response to an attempt to formulate a constructive approach that would avoid exactly this and other insincerities.

And on another matter — again, I don’t understand the basis of this repeated assurance from so many people that the Arabs will never get together and become militarily stronger in the future. What Sadat said in 1973 has little bearing on future strategic reality in the region. For that, we should probably turn to Clausewitz and van Creveld.

Whatever happens, it is much wiser to expect that Israel’s antagonists will be stronger and more unified.

At this moment for example, ISIS doesn’t appear to fear the US, and they are not going to get weaker, and I am going to take a wild guess that we are looking ahead at 20 years (?) of proxy war to attempt to subdue them.

And those guys are head-choppers.

So again, apart from the despicable humanitarian horror of the Gaza conflict, as if that were not bad enough, Israel has to stop creating more hatred, right now. Because the regional picture could get worse.

An alternate constructive approach would be to offer Palestine statehood in 40 years, if they accept an international force in the interim, which has complete inspection powers. That might obviate the need for Israel to be granted more US technology in targeting launchers.

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J Thomas 08.07.14 at 6:28 pm

#461 Lee Arnold

My question (and it is not original) was whether uncontrolled actors could sneak nukes out, and sell them to third parties.

Ah, a different question. I don’t know the answer. The only way I know to find out is to try it and see.

We should ask this same question of Israel. Could uncontrolled actors sneak Israeli nukes? How would we find out whether they can?

Also Pakistan, India, China, Russia, Britain, and France. And the USA.

Meanwhile the definition of “NGO” is not what you think it is either.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-governmental_organization
“A non-governmental organization (NGO) is an organization that is neither a part of a government nor a conventional for-profit business.”

What do you think it means? Clearly most terrorist groups are NGOs.

I don’t understand the basis of this repeated assurance from so many people that the Arabs will never get together and become militarily stronger in the future. What Sadat said in 1973 has little bearing on future strategic reality in the region.

They might do that. However:

1. Israel and the USA are dedicated to preventing Arabs from getting together. We try our best for example to make Shia muslims look like a bigger threat to Sunni muslims than Israel is. We try to make sure that arab nations are ruled by dictatorships that are just barely strong enough to suppress dissent among their people. So if arabs do unite it will be against the best efforts of Israel and the USA.

2. Arab nations might get militarily stronger. Currently the only ones with any particular strength are Iran, which we have sanctions against intending to weaken, and Turkey, which is our NATO ally, really our only ally in the middle east, which has been excruciatingly diplomatic and careful to give no offense. Iraq had some claim to military strength but we gave them years of intense sanctions and then crushed them. Egypt got enough weapons from the USSR to be a threat at one point, but now they get their weapons from us and we give them just enough to withstand their arab neighbors Libya and Sudan, with an emphasis on crowd-control to handle their own people.

Maybe arab militaries will get stronger. But for the foreseeable future they can’t get strong enough to fight the USA. So Israel is safe. If the USA gets much weaker or much less committed to defending Israel, then arab weapons could matter.

What Sadat said in 1973 has little bearing on future strategic reality in the region.

It still applies today. Someday in the future it will not, someday in the unforeseeable future.

At this moment for example, ISIS doesn’t appear to fear the US, and they are not going to get weaker, and I am going to take a wild guess that we are looking ahead at 20 years (?) of proxy war to attempt to subdue them.

Oh, sure. It isn’t surprising how the chorus changed on that one. First it was “Assad is an evil dictator who hates Israel, he needs to be overthrown!” But with time that turned into “The other guys hate Israel too, we need Assad to stomp on them and keep them suppressed!”

I dunno. Maybe oppression breeds oppressors. Jews got stomped on and then some of them got busy stomping on somebody else. Sunnis in Iraq got stomped on and they’re glad to take their turn. Not to say that Shias in Iraq didn’t get stomped on too. The longer the game goes on, the more people that take their turn in the barrel.

So again, apart from the despicable humanitarian horror of the Gaza conflict, as if that were not bad enough, Israel has to stop creating more hatred, right now. Because the regional picture could get worse.

Well, we’ve seen the alternative proposal — they can create hatred at every opportunity and then try to fish in troubled waters. Likely, the worse the regional picture gets, the more Americans will agree that Israel deserves increased support.

An alternate constructive approach would be to offer Palestine statehood in 40 years, if they accept an international force in the interim, which has complete inspection powers.

That has possibilities. Palestinians would not believe it at first, of course. After all, there was already a plan to offer Palestine statehood in 5 years, and then it didn’t happen in in 2002 the Israeli military took everything back.

But if there were strong international forces stationed in the West Bank that could disarm Palestinians and all Israeli settlers, and allow Palestinians to cross and use the Israel-only roads, and control the border with Jordan in place of Israeli control, that would make a great big difference.

If the international forces could prevent Israeli attacks that would make a tremendous difference. Particularly if they could shoot down Israeli planes that were making airstrikes, and shoot back at Israeli artillery in Israel.

From there if Palestinians were allowed to join the international force, train in that army and eventually help to patrol Palestine as members of that force, I think they would learn to appreciate it a whole lot.

Israel would still need US technology to target launchers in Lebanon and Sinai, though. Also Syria. Israel will always need whatever military technology we’ve got.

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Lee A. Arnold 08.07.14 at 11:09 pm

So far as I know, groups that employ violence and war have never been classified as NGO’s.

“Likely, the worse the regional picture gets, the more Americans will agree that Israel deserves increased support.” — I don’t think Israel can depend upon that, which is one of the reasons it continues such a large public relations and lobbying effort in the US. I think US military rank and file are already questioning Israel’s commitment to make a just and fair resolution of the Palestinian problem in a long-term sense, regardless of the tactical value of the present action. These questions proliferate into the US population.

“If the USA gets much weaker or much less committed to defending Israel” — There is a third possibility, and it has already arrived. The US won’t think a widespread war is manageable or winnable. The lesson is Iraq. So the pressure is going to be placed on Israel to start coming up with better solutions than to keep placating its rightwing nutjobs.

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J Thomas 08.08.14 at 12:19 am

So far as I know, groups that employ violence and war have never been classified as NGO’s.

But they fit the definition. They are not run by governments and they are not for-profit businesses.

“Likely, the worse the regional picture gets, the more Americans will agree that Israel deserves increased support.”

— I don’t think Israel can depend upon that, which is one of the reasons it continues such a large public relations and lobbying effort in the US.

You could easily be right. I look at their unprecedented success at PR and lobbying and think it will keep working, and yet Israelis worry that it won’t.

The US won’t think a widespread war is manageable or winnable.

Well, but if we can supply Israel with large enough quantities of sufficiently hi-tech weapons, they can kill so many people that they don’t “lose”. Then we talk about how many people are slaughtered and how important it is to get a cease-fire, and each time we think we have a cease-fire working Israel kills a bunch more people, and finally they let us declare that the fighting is over. Until next time.

As long as we can and will supply Israel with enough of that stuff, they don’t have to “win” wars. Just kill enough people to get a cease-fire until next time.

But at some point we might become less willing to do that. Not while the politicians are 100% zionist, though.

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Lee A. Arnold 08.08.14 at 1:54 am

J Thomas #464: “But they fit the definition.”

They do not fit the definition. How can you cite the Wikipedia article without reading it all the way through?

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J Thomas 08.08.14 at 3:18 am

Lee Arnold, I am almost certain that you are not a nominalist.

So I will not argue with you about the real meaning of the word.

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Lee A. Arnold 08.08.14 at 3:50 am

Wait a minute. The definition of “NGO” is not a universal, it is a Wittgensteinian family of resemblances that has been tailored and accepted by absolutely everybody in the international relations and social activism community. None of them mistake it. NGO definitely is not applied to a crime gang, or a political party, or a religion, or a non-state terrorist group.

You can do that, if you want to cover up for an error — another “true Scotsman” — but it won’t be found useful by those in NGO’s, and by those who deal with NGO’s. Because it would mean something operationally very different.

Also, you can do that, but doing that it is not the definition of “nominalism”.

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J Thomas 08.08.14 at 11:58 am

I am not going to argue with you about the true meaning of “NGO” or the true meaning of “nominalism”.

Because you are not a nominalist. At least, you don’t act like a nominalist.

Incidentally, there have been arguments about which NGOs are crime gangs and/or terrorist groups. Some Arab-American businessmen were detained indefinitely for contributing to arab charities, for example.

I get the impression you are arguing this because you didn’t like to think about the substantive argument. But you and I mostly agree. Israel should not keep generating more hatred against them. That is a bad approach even if arab nations never become a direct military threat.

The USA will (and should) eventually pressure Israel to come up with solutions, sometime after our politicians stop 100% supporting Netanyahu.

I don’t have a lot of hope about what happens after that. To get something like peace, Israel would have to give up far more than they are currently willing to. Particularly, they currently take the lion’s share of the water out of the West Bank (and also Golan) and they think they need that water. They will not concede enough to get peace, while they think they are the winners. And if they start to think they are not the complete winners that will freak them out because it means they could someday be genocided. Good outcomes just don’t look plausible to me.

But it’s a long ways away, and lots of things are sure to change in the meantime.

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Lee A. Arnold 08.08.14 at 3:26 pm

Your “substantive argument” was that, “if a [non-state actor] named A is so fully trusted by a government B that B is wiling to give A nukes — B trusts A’s motives and competence that much — then A is not truly a [non-state actor.]” (#448, with “NGO” replaced.)

But that needn’t hold true. And my argument was the opposite, that a big fear about nuclear proliferation is that it could become uncontrolled, because unscrupulous people within the new nuclear power might give them to non-state actors (e.g. Hezbollah).

My side point is merely that these sorts of non-state actors are not called NGO’s in common parlance. If you went to the UN and started talking about al Qaeda as an NGO, they would probably say, “Why don’t you learn what NGO means?” You could say that Hezbollah sponsors an NGO, perhaps one that works on local water purification, for example.

The fact that some NGO’s themselves have been caught in criminal activities doesn’t redefine “NGO”, it would more likely change their legitimacy and dry up their funding.

How would a nominalist act in this situation?

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J Thomas 08.08.14 at 5:16 pm

Your “substantive argument” was that, “if a [non-state actor] named A is so fully trusted by a government B that B is wiling to give A nukes — B trusts A’s motives and competence that much — then A is not truly a [non-state actor.]” (#448, with “NGO” replaced.)

Yes.

But that needn’t hold true.

Agreed, it needn’t be true. But it is true.

The US government claims to be able to tell whose nuke has been set off by subtle analysis of the fallout. I believe the theory is that each nation’s purification methods is different, and so the fallout is different in reliable ways. I believe that a nation with considerable hi-tech ability could build bombs that disguise that signature particularly if they have access to nuclear materials from more than one source. One that knew the details of what the US labs test might be able to build a bomb that tested out to be from some other source.

But, say, Pakistan or Iran would not be up to that. If they test a bomb (necessary to show they have one) then the US government can get that signature.

You don’t give away nuclear bombs when they have your name on them. You will be held responsible for how they are used.

Israel, though, has access to nuclear material from various sources, and they know precisely how the USA tests. If Iran got nukes, Israel could build a nuke that appeared to be from Iran. And Israel could set it off in a location that did the most good for Israel and the most harm for Iran.

I can’t think of any other nation that could do that and would want to, both.

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J Thomas 08.08.14 at 5:38 pm

How would a nominalist act in this situation?

Words don’t have meanings that are brought down from on high, they mean different things to different people, and we try to settle on enough overlap to exchange some ideas.

NGO is poorly defined. It’s an organization that is not part of government and not a for-profit business, and people usually think of it as attempting to serve some social good purpose. They tend to think of NGOs as cooperating with governments to accomplish good goals, though some NGOs don’t do that.

It’s already a fuzzy concept. I want to recognize that fuzziness by applying it to things that fit the meaning but that people tend not to think of. Can an organization that supplies medical care to freedom-fighters be considered an NGO? Sure. Medical care and munitions? Sure, why not? And one nation’s terrorist is another nation’s freedom-fighter.

It’s a little jarring to think of an NGO setting off nukes because we think they’re supposed to be good guys, and being good guys ourselves it’s hard to understand nukes as a good thing for anybody. But it’s just bias on our part, to try to wrap that into the meaning of the word. One man’s NGO is somebody else’s evil false-front for terrorists. Based on whether or not they approve of what they think it does.

It’s good to use some flexibility in language to encourage flexibility in thought. If platonists understand but say you aren’t allowed to talk that way, you’re doing fine. But if too many people guess wrong what you mean then you stretched it too far.

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Ze Kraggash 08.08.14 at 8:23 pm

J Thomas: “One man’s NGO is somebody else’s evil false-front for terrorists.”

Yes. Just think of the ‘open society’ NGO credited for bankrolling the ‘colored revolutions’, including the recent one in Ukraine with notable participation of neonazi militants and disastrous consequences all over. Possibly a new cold war, or, god forbids, worse.

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Lee A. Arnold 08.09.14 at 1:59 am

J Thomas #471: “It’s good to use some flexibility in language to encourage flexibility in thought.”

You should apply for a job at the UN while insisting that they categorize terrorist groups as NGO’s, in order to “encourage flexibility in thought”.

And I still don’t see what it has to do with nominalism vs. platonism since the claim that “NGO” already has a useful, operational definition is not the same thing as a claim that “NGO” is an abstract existent.

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Anarcissie 08.09.14 at 3:21 pm

I looked up ‘NGO’ and many groups, called terrorists by some, fulfill the definition given. So it seems there is a hidden part of the definition which needs to be revealed.

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