Shit and Curses, and Other Updates on the Steven Salaita Affair (Updated)

by Corey Robin on August 7, 2014

1. Yesterday, University of Nevada professor Gautam Premnath called the University of Illinois to protest the hirefire of Steven Salaita. A giggly employee in the Chancellor’s office told Premnath that Salaita was “dehired.”

2.Within 24 hours, nearly 8000 people have signed a petition calling on the University of Illinois to reinstate Salata. You should too. While you’re at it, please make sure to email the chancellor, Phyllis Wise, at at pmwise@illinois.edu. Please cc Robert Warrior of the American Indian Studies department (rwarrior@illinois.edu) and the department itself: ais@illinois.edu.

3. Personally, I disagree with the notion that anti-Semitism can be explained, justified, or understood in light of Israel’s actions. But if you think an academic should be hiredfired for saying something like that, you would have had to have been prepared, back in 2002, to fire Nathan Glazer for saying just that at a conference at NYU:

Nathan Glazer, the well-known Harvard University sociologist sometimes associated with neoconservatism, suggested that whereas historically antisemitism was rooted in “illusionary” beliefs about Jews, today’s antisemitism is often a reaction to Israeli actions. And he said that such “hostility can be reduced and moderated by [Israel’s] policies.”


Glazer, as I recall, said considerably more than that. Among other things he said that since Israel claims to speak in the name of all Jews across the globe, its defenders should not be  surprised when its enemies apply that claim to all Jews and begin opposing them as Jews.

4. This morning, the Chronicle of Higher Ed has a fuller report on the Salaita affair. Among the new facts revealed: First, it was a tenured position that Salaita was offered. Second, the offer was made last October by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Third, the national AAUP has distanced itself from Cary Nelson, saying he “does not speak for the association.” (In this statement, the AAUP distances itself even further.) And, last, in the faculty’s deliberations on hiring Salaita, his tweets did not come “up as a topic of concern or conversation” on the reasonable ground that they did not deem “social media as being somehow scholarly content.”

5. On December 27, 2013, Chancellor Wise had this to say about academic freedom:

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign opposes the boycott of Israeli academic institutions and endorses the statement made by the AAU. At Illinois, we value academic freedom as one of our core principles and cherish the critical importance of the ability of faculty to pursue learning, discovery and engagement without regard to political considerations.


And just in case anyone was confused about how important the principle was to her, she had this to say on January 30, 2014:

 

Of all places, a university should be home to diverse ideas and differing perspectives, where robust – and even intense – debate and disagreement are welcomed. How do we foster such an atmosphere? Only through an unwavering and unrelenting commitment to building truly diverse communities of students and scholars.


6. The Illinois AAUP Committee A has a very strong statement on the affair:

The AAUP 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure states in reference to extramural utterances: “When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline.” It affirms that “The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.” While Professor’s Salaita’s tweets are construed as controversial, the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure affirms the virtue of controversial speech.



Professor Salaita’s words while strident and vulgar were an impassioned plea to end the violence currently taking place in the Middle East. Issues of life and death during bombardment educes significant emotions and expressions of concern that reflect the tragedy that armed conflict confers on its victims. Speech that is deemed controversial should be challenged with further speech that may abhor and challenge a statement. Yet the University of Illinois cannot cancel an appointment based upon Twitter statements that are protected speech in the United States of America.



Furthermore, there is nothing in the Salaita statements about Israel or Zionism that would raise questions about his fitness to teach. These statements were not made in front of students, are not related to a course that is being taught, and do not reflect in any manner his quality of teaching. What one says out of class rarely, in the absence of peer review of teaching, confirms how one teaches. Passion about a topic even if emotionally expressed through social network does not allow one to draw inferences about teaching that could possibly rise to the voiding or reversal of a job appointment.


One must not conjecture about a link between extramural statements and the quality of classroom teaching, absent an unmistakable link that would raise issues of competence. None exist here. Indeed, we affirm that fitness to teach can be enhanced with conviction, commitment and an engagement with the outside world.


7. Our very own Michael Bérubé also has a strong statement:

While I do not share Professor Salaita’s sentiments with regard to content, and find them to be often intemperate expressions of opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict, I urge you to reconsider your decision. Indeed, I urge you to reconsider precisely because I do not share Professor Salaita’s sentiments. It is a truism that academic freedom is meaningless unless it covers unpopular (and even intemperate) speech; and that, finally, is what is at stake here– the question of whether academic freedom at the University of Illinois will be meaningless.


8. It occurs to me that if tweets are now going to be taken into consideration in academic hires, I want my entire social media presence included in all future considerations of my career. I want the number of tweets and FB posts I do per year to be included in my publication count. I want the number of retweets and “likes” that I get to be included in my citation count. And I want my friend Doug Henwood to be considered for an academic appointment. As he says, “With my Klout score, I’m on my way to an endowed chair.”

9. Glenn Greenwald tweets that there’s “lots more coming on this.” If I were Chancellor Wise, I’d be nervous. Very nervous. If Glenn’s on the story, I have little doubt what the ultimate outcome will be.

10. And last, this report,  from today’s Guardian, on the most moral army in the world:

When Ahmed Owedat returned to his home 18 days after Israeli soldiers took it over in the middle of the night, he was greeted with an overpowering stench.


He picked through the wreckage of his possessions thrown from upstairs windows to find that the departing troops had left a number of messages. One came from piles of faeces on his tiled floors and in wastepaper baskets, and a plastic water bottle filled with urine.


If that was not clear enough, the words “Fuck Hamas” had been carved into a concrete wall in the staircase. “Burn Gaza down” and “Good Arab = dead Arab” were engraved on a coffee table. The star of David was drawn in blue in a bedroom.


It’s a strange universe we live in, where high-minded professors fret more about the “foul-mouthed” tweets of a scholar than the shit and curses soldiers leave in the destroyed homes of civilians.

Update (3:30 pm)

Just received a copy of a very strongly worded letter from the Center for Constitutional Rights. In addition to making all the right arguments re academic freedom and the First Amendment, it contains three factual statements, which I had not read anywhere else

The first:

As you well know, in October 2013, the University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences made an offer to Professor Salaita for an appointment, with tenure, in the College’s American Indian Studies program; he soon after accepted your offer (which the University confirmed in writing) and resigned from his tenured position in the English Department at Virginia Tech University. Your offer letter expressly stressed the University’s adherence to the American Association of University Professors’ Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure….His views (which he has long aired passionately and openly in many forums, including social media) are no doubt considered highly controversial by many in this country, but Professor Salaita could rest assured that his tenured position and the foundational principles of academic freedom and expression would permit him to share his views without fear of censure or reprisal.


That express affirmation in the offer letter of the AAUP principles seems like it could pose a potential problem for the University.

The second:

Nevertheless, despite Professor Salaita’s obvious reliance on the terms of the University’s appointment – by resigning from his tenured position at Virginia Tech, renting his Virginia home and preparing his entire family to move – you summarily terminated his appointment to a tenured position, without notice or any opportunity to be heard or to object. Your August 1, 2014 letter references your Office’s failure to seek or obtain final authorization from the Board of Trustees as the reason for the termination of Professor Salaita; yet, leaving aside the procedural irregularities in your rationale,³…


And then, in the footnote, comes this:

 

Although Professor Salaita’s appointment was effective August 16th, your termination letter stated that his appointment would not be recommended for submission to the Board in September, after his start date.


In other words, even under the best of circumstances, Salaita’s appointment was scheduled to be effective before the Board was scheduled to vote to approve it.

Last, the CCR letter references a letter from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, expressly requesting that the University of Illinois rescind its offer. I wasn’t aware of this letter, but it’s discussed here. The letter states:

We strongly believe that a person… with such aberrational views cannot be trusted to confine his discussions to his area of study. We urge you to reconsider his appointment and look forward to immediately discussing this serious matter with you.


Aberrational views. They used to be the pride and joy of the Jewish people, from Abraham to Kafka and Freud. Now we fire people for having them.

{ 272 comments }

1

Sasha Clarkson 08.07.14 at 9:41 pm

Antisemitism can be explained by many things Corey (usually a combination of ignorance and social conditions) – but NOT excused! :)

2

Sasha Clarkson 08.07.14 at 10:00 pm

…. and surely the antidote to Netanyahu – and all things Likud – is Leo Rosten The Joys of Yiddish. As a non-Jew, I’m proud to have introduced a couple of Jewish friends to it! :)

3

JM 08.07.14 at 10:17 pm

The issue here strikes me as being less one of academic freedom than of collegiality. I happen to disagree with Salaita, but there’s nothing wrong with disagreeing with me. The issue is the tone and frequency of his tweets. I read the first few and thought “okay, we disagree and he’s a bit rude, but that’s life,” but they just keep going… and going… and going. He sounds like an obsessive crank who needs something to do with his time.

And I have to agree with Sasha (posts 1 and 2) that there’s a big difference between Glazer’s claim — that Israel’s actions explain anti-Semitism — and Salaita’s — that Israel’s actions justify it.

Finally: a good rule of thumb in life is that if you think a substantial fraction (perhaps even a majority) of all the people in your society are immoral or stupid because they disagree you with on something that is ultimately a value judgment rather than a matter of fact, the problem might be you, not your society. Many reasonable people think Israel just fought one of the cleanest wars in history, and that it was a war of necessity. They could be all secretly be bad people who like seeing children killed, or it could be that, when they examine the counterfactual, they see worse rights violations occurring. The fact that you don’t see that doesn’t make them stupid or immoral, but if you’re the sort of person who spends hours each day decrying them as such, I’d rather not work with you.

4

astronomer 08.07.14 at 10:23 pm

At my university (and I think this is not uncommon, since it was similarly true at the last two universities at which I worked), the board has expressly NOT delegated its authority to make tenured appointments to any other person or group. Assuming this is true at Illinois, then whatever decision you think Illinois should have made about hiring Prof. Salaita the board can’t — without great future hazard — simply acquiesce to the idea that authority to grant tenure has been implicitly delegated to department chairs or deans and the university will in the future be bound by offers improperly made.

I turned down a position at a well-regarded university many years ago because it could not finalize the tenure portion of the offer until its fall board meeting, which would not occur until after I had begun teaching, while a competing university was more nimble. Boards are important, like it or not.

5

mbw 08.07.14 at 11:10 pm

As an emeritus UIUC prof, I find this issue to be a no-brainer. Dunno shit about Salaita, but this is about as clear an academic freedom issue as we’re likely to see. Does anybody seriously think that if the Board pulls this off the rest of the faculty are safe? I remember when the U admin was very, very unhappy about our anti-SDI activity.
First they came for one type of loudmouth,…

6

roy belmont 08.07.14 at 11:10 pm

He sounds like an obsessive crank who needs something to do with his time
They could be all secretly be bad people who like seeing children killed, or it could be that
In a moment like this the use of hyperbolic exaggeration to make a fatuous and complacent point in an argument where the other side is denied a voice almost everywhere in the forum of public expression is morally nauseating. Aesthetically nauseating.
“They” could also be people who are so gone into their sociopathic delusions that the deaths of children are meaningless to them. Which is not the same as “liking” seeing children killed. Which is the hyperbole I’m referring to.
Though there is quite a bit of real world evidence that many, far from a minority, of the Jews of Israel are quite delighted at the prospect of dying Palestinians, of any and all ages.

7

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 08.07.14 at 11:20 pm

Many reasonable people think Israel just fought one of the cleanest wars in history, and that it was a war of necessity.

So reasonable!
~

8

Barry 08.07.14 at 11:48 pm

JM 08.07.14 at 10:17 pm
“The issue here strikes me as being less one of academic freedom than of collegiality.”

Where ‘collegiality’ means ‘we don’t like your views.

9

derrida derider 08.07.14 at 11:55 pm

” a good rule of thumb in life is that if you think a substantial fraction (perhaps even a majority) of all the people in your society are immoral or stupid because they disagree you with on something that is ultimately a value judgment rather than a matter of fact”

Gee, JM, how good is your rule of thumb when almost every other society has different views than your society? Because that’s the case here – Americans as a rule simply do not realise how different the view they get on Middle East (and quite a few other) issues is from the rest of the world’s. And guess what – that is NOT because the rest of the world is anti-semitic, but because of US-specific political reasons.

10

LFC 08.08.14 at 12:01 am

JM @3

Issues about collegiality shd have been considered *before* the College of Lib. Arts and Sciences formally offered him a job, not “oops sorry rescinding the offer b.c you’re not collegial.”

11

Corey Robin 08.08.14 at 12:15 am

One more point on collegiality. Let’s assume for the sake of the argument that it’s a legitimate issue here, and not a pretext to deny someone a job on the basis of his views. If collegiality is indeed the issue, shouldn’t it be the department that makes that determination rather than the chancellor? They after all are going to be the ones who have to live with this alleged crank, not the chancellor. I’ve been at CUNY for nearly 15 years and never once have I had a conversation with its chancellor(s). In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been in the same room with them. If you want to make collegiality the issue, you’re kind of screwed here because the faculty in Salaita’s future department deemed him to be fine on that score (or at least not worthy of concern).

12

JM 08.08.14 at 12:36 am

@LFC: If the offer is contingent on approval from higher-up, it’s contingent on approval from higher-up, and it’s quite reasonable for higher-up to consider new evidence that’s come to light.

@derrida: Most people in most places just couldn’t care less — India and China together are 30% of the world, and they aren’t exactly rioting over this. (That said, China deals pretty brutally with its own Islamic insurgency and India has similar issues, so my impression — admittedly based on a limited sample — is that citizens of both are at least somewhat sympathetic to Israel.) Among those who do care, the reason for why is usually pretty obvious: Many Americans have strong opinions because they see themselves in the Israelis. Many Muslims have strong opinions because they see themselves in the Palestinians. Many South Americans and academics and some Europeans have strong opinions because they see European colonialists in Israel.

@roy belmont: There should be a version of Godwin’s Law for calling the other side sociopaths. Unless you’re talking about a weird, fringe opinion — which, in the 300,000,000-strong US, being pro-Israel is not — labeling them sociopaths is just a failure to understand their perspective. It’s the anti-Israel equivalent of labeling all your opponents anti-Semitic.
As to your claim that a majority or large minority of Israelis likes to see Palestinian deaths, I’d appreciate it if you’d point me to a poll — anything, really, other than anecdotal evidence — that indicated something along those lines. (I won’t hold my breath.)

@Barry: If you read past what I said about “collegiality,” you’ll notice I said that it wasn’t about the views expressed. If he’d posted something comparable that was pro-Israeli — and posted as frequently — I wouldn’t want to work with him, either. Angry obsessive people aren’t any good to work with no matter what views they have.

@ifthethunder…: the existence of unreasonable individuals with a given view doesn’t invalidate the view itself. Consider the argument the the way around: Hitler is not a Zionist, therefore all anti-Zionists are unreasonable. Dumb, right?

13

PatrickinIowa 08.08.14 at 12:36 am

Done and done.

And in the spirit of collegiality, f#ck those guys.

14

LFC 08.08.14 at 12:45 am

@JM
If the offer is contingent on approval from higher-up, it’s contingent on approval from higher-up, and it’s quite reasonable for higher-up to consider new evidence that’s come to light.

No it isn’t reasonable, not if: (1) the approval from higher-up is generally understood to be a pro forma matter, as seems to be the case here, and (2) the person hired has already resigned from his old job, rented his house, and made plans to move. I’ve already said in the other thread that I wdn’t have tweeted in the way Salaita did (I don’t even have a Twitter account), but the idea that someone has taken significant steps in reliance on a job offer that he’s accepted, and then has that offer rescinded b.c of what he said on social media, is somewhat chilling, in more than one sense.

15

JM 08.08.14 at 12:47 am

@Corey: collegiality goes beyond day-to-day in-person interactions. The administration has an interest in things like the university’s image in the popular press, the environment for students, the kind of faculty/grad students a department will be able to recruit, the focus of future research, etc. And if you make life more difficult for the administration, well… that’s not particularly collegial. That’s not to say you toeing the administration line is always the right thing to do, and that’s what academic freedom is for once you’ve actually been hired, but if I were an administrator and I’m reviewing this guy’s offer and suddenly he starts saying things that might make it harder to recruit (to make up an example) Jewish professors or grad students to other departments at UIUC because they only time they’ve heard of UIUC is when Saliata shoots his mouth off again (and again, and again) calling their cousin/sister/friend in Israel an accessory to murder (or whatever it is this time), that would be a legitimate consideration.

16

JM 08.08.14 at 12:54 am

@LFC: there’s no such thing as “pro forma” in real life. If higher-ups get to have a say, you don’t resign the old job and sell the house until they’ve had their say. And if you do, you have no one to blame but yourself. The hiring process runs by higher-ups just for cases like this, where there is relevant information that for whatever reason has not been incorporated into the faculty’s decision-making.

17

Colin Danby 08.08.14 at 12:56 am

I’m reminded of the kerfuffle some months back when a colleague at another blog called for the NRA President’s “head on a stick” after the Newtown killings, plus maybe some cuss words. I don’t agree with that either, but the deaths of children sometimes makes people lose their shit, to echo Corey’s title.

You then get well-meaning people reminding us that we should all be civil and yes, we should all be civil, but JM’s pearl-clutching is in obvious bad faith.

Salaita’s outspokenness was well known, and as Corey says the collegiality criterion, to the extent that it’s valid at all, was a call for the voting faculty to make.

18

LFC 08.08.14 at 1:02 am

Email to Wise sent.
Length: Two fairly short sentences.
Brevity is the soul of wit. (yikes. plagiarism.)

19

JM 08.08.14 at 1:05 am

@Colin: Is “obvious bad faith” really the best you can do? Again, I specifically said that what distinguishes this from plain-vanilla “I saw something and got mad and posted something dumb” is the volume of material involved. I was pretty sympathetic when I read Corey’s original post on this and thought it sounded like a poor decision by the administration. But then I read his twitter, and changed my mind. Go check his twitter if you doubt the plausibility of this. The tweets for August 1st alone go on for several pages, and almost every one is about Gaza. Ditto for July 31st and 30th, and presumably more beyond that. That is not “outspokenness”; it’s obsession.

20

Corey Robin 08.08.14 at 1:07 am

15: “And if you make life more difficult for the administration, well… that’s not particularly collegial.”

You’ve inadvertently just put your finger on the problem. The only legitimate moral appeal that collegiality has is the notion that you should be a good citizen of the department and the university. That is, you should make your contribution to the collective life the campus, by serving on committees, trying to be helpful and constructive, thoughtful and deliberative, in meeting the legitimate needs of a college environment. But of course what collegiality is often a proxy for is precisely what you illegitimately claim here: namely, how much you are willing to make life easy for the administration and people in power. But since it’s a university, administrators can’t ask for submissiveness, obedience, and quiescence. So they call it collegiality. And, stunningly, hundreds of thousands of people with PhDs totally buy into it. People who are trained to read for hidden meanings and to think critically, suddenly regress to the mindset of kindergarteners.

Never ceases to amaze me.

21

LFC 08.08.14 at 1:12 am

JM:

@LFC: there’s no such thing as “pro forma” in real life. If higher-ups get to have a say, you don’t resign the old job and sell the house until they’ve had their say. And if you do, you have no one to blame but yourself. The hiring process runs by higher-ups just for cases like this, where there is relevant information that for whatever reason has not been incorporated into the faculty’s decision-making.

I’m not employed by an academic institution, because none of the institutions to which I applied saw fit to offer me a job after I finished my degree. In light of that fact, I think I will let others somewhat more familiar with the way such institutions operate ‘from the inside’ answer your slightly condescending mini-lecture about how the “real world” works.

22

Corey Robin 08.08.14 at 1:12 am

JM at 19: “The tweets for August 1st alone go on for several pages, and almost every one is about Gaza. Ditto for July 31st and 30th, and presumably more beyond that. That is not ‘outspokenness'; it’s obsession.”

You amaze me. This is now what the charge against Salaita is? That on July 30 and July 31, he tweeted “almost” exclusively about Gaza? I’d be curious if the job description for his position said “obsessives need not apply.” That would of course exclude almost any academic, who by definition get obsessed with a topic, burrowing into a single archive for years, maniacally devoting themselves to a single theorem over a lifetime.

Anyway, excuse me for being uncollegial, but we’ve now officially descended into the silly season.

23

LFC 08.08.14 at 1:13 am

JM: Sorry, your exact phrase was “real life,” not the “real world.”

24

JM 08.08.14 at 1:15 am

@Corey:
Did you bother to read the next sentence?
“That’s not to say you toeing the administration line is always the right thing to do, and that’s what academic freedom is for once you’ve actually been hired…”

25

JM 08.08.14 at 1:24 am

@Corey #22: Jeez. Again you’re intentionally misreading what I said. “Obsessive” can mean “hard-working” or it can mean “that crazy uncle who sends you birther conspiracy theory spam.” I clearly meant the latter, and I provided some evidence to back it up. Maybe there are lots of normal, friendly people spend all day for days on end angrily ranting on twitter about a faraway conflict, but in my experience that’s not the case.

26

Corey Robin 08.08.14 at 1:28 am

JM: I wouldn’t trust anyone who could write “and if you make life more difficult for the administration, well… that’s not particularly collegial” to know the difference between a worthy administrative objective and an unworthy one. Particularly when that person thinks a line like “that’s not to say you toeing the administration line is always the right thing to do” — which of course assumes that toeing the administrative is at least some of the time the right thing to do (I don’t think our job as academics is to toe anyone’s line, ever) — is somehow exculpatory.

27

poco 08.08.14 at 1:30 am

“Maybe there are lots of normal, friendly people spend all day for days on end angrily ranting on twitter about a faraway conflict, but in my experience that’s not the case.”

Faraway conflict?? FARAWAY CONFLICT??

Salaita is Palestinian. Clearly you have no idea about the issues–e.g. how academic hiring happens. Are you just a troll?

28

Corey Robin 08.08.14 at 1:31 am

JM at 25: “normal, friendly people”? So now that’s in the job description too?

29

Corey Robin 08.08.14 at 1:33 am

poco: JM’s way too earnest to be a troll. He’s probably a deputy dean or something like that.

30

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 08.08.14 at 1:35 am

JM@15, attempting to dismiss those people as “cranks” is dumb. These opinions aren’t coming from some isolated nut like the Unabomber. They’re coming from high-profile individuals, and they’re not being met with condemnation. Not by Israelis.

There’s a huge disconnect between how the U.S. public views Israel and how “our” Congress acts. It’s getting bigger.

I considered looking for a poll of how Israel views Palestinian deaths, and then realized while looking at your responses on this thread that it wasn’t necessary.

So I’ll just leave this link.
~

31

Ani 08.08.14 at 1:35 am

@Corey:

I’ve found your commentary on this enlightening, and mean this question to be genuine — not trying to be amazing(ly obtuse). You draw the following distinction:
“The only legitimate moral appeal that collegiality has is the notion that you should be a good citizen of the department and the university. . . .But of course what collegiality is often a proxy for is precisely what you illegitimately claim here: namely, how much you are willing to make life easy for the administration and people in power.”

Is there room in your understanding of collegiality/citizenship for behavior that makes life easier (or less so) for administrators, thus freeing energy for the remainder of the faculty and staff? Take, for instance, someone who devoted all of his time to insulting or harassing (legally) town residents or state legislators, which then forced administrators to spend all their time placating same or developing strategies for circumventing their ire. Perhaps the university has to lump it. But I see a difference between that case, which to me really does touch on citizenship and the communal good in positive and negative externalities, and one in which the concern is just whether administrators are personally pleased or not.

32

Corey Robin 08.08.14 at 1:45 am

Ani at 31: In my experience anyone who is merely making him or herself a nuisance in the way you stipulate is not actually causing a headache for the administration. They’d be roundly ignored and if they got to be un-ignorable, it would be a matter for the police. Perhaps it’s because I live in New York where I think we have a higher tolerance for these sorts of things — and simply go about our business ignoring cranks of this kind — I find it hard to imagine the scenario you’re talking about. When our faculty do something that leads politicians to get involved and to start making life difficult for administrators, it’s not because they are “insulting or harassing (legally) town residents or state legislators”; it’s because they are speaking out on matters that politicians and powerful elites wish to impose some sort of orthodoxy on. Like the Israel/Palestine issue.

33

JM 08.08.14 at 1:49 am

@poco: And yet the various Israelis and Palestinians I know don’t seem to spend all day on twitter ranting about this.

@Corey: “deputy dean.” Lol. I’m pretty much the opposite of an administrator. I’m a lowly intern at a big software company who spends most of the day churning out code. I would imagine you have access to my email address so you can probably look me up on LinkedIn and verify that if you feel like it. (I’d appreciate you not revealing my identity, though.)
As to “normal, friendly people”: I do software, as I said. My definitions of “normal” and “friendly” are VERY loose. Keep the body odor to a minimum, don’t distract me when I’m focused, don’t pick fights with coworkers unless you have to, tabs are 4 spaces not 2, etc.

34

William Timberman 08.08.14 at 1:58 am

He does software. Why am I not surprised?

35

poco 08.08.14 at 2:03 am

‘And yet the various Israelis and Palestinians “I know” don’t seem to spend all day on twitter ranting about this’.

Pay attention to the “I know.”

And here is the real problem–this statement combined with the requirement for “collegiality” is precisely the problem with diversity in academia. And when any attempt is made to diversify, as with the Salaita hire, there come the calls: “He is not one of us;” “None of the people I know behave in this way,” ad nauseam.

36

JM 08.08.14 at 2:06 am

@William: good question. I’m genuinely curious now: why weren’t you surprised? I was under the impression the SDE stereotype is slightly autistic and coding-obsessed, rather than reading blogs by humanities academics. Also, SDEs are really disproportionately Indian and Chinese first or second generation immigrants, so presumably there wouldn’t be all that much interest in Israel/Palestine.

37

JM 08.08.14 at 2:12 am

@poco: You could make the same argument about a lot of things. “No one I know pees in a cup at their desk instead of using the toilet, and when we try to diversify…”
Try actually naming a virtue of incessant twitter ranting that would make anyone want to diversify into the area of twitter ranters.

38

christian_h 08.08.14 at 2:25 am

Over the past three and a half hours, JM, you have submitted 10 and counting comments on a thread of 37 and counting – several of them explaining that a person tweeting about an ongoing massacre of civilians (sorry, I meant ongoing most moral war in history) qualifies as “obsessed”. Just an observation.

39

Mike Schilling 08.08.14 at 2:26 am

He does software. Why am I not surprised?

Good point: what would someone who spends all day working with complex but ultimately logical and well-defined systems know about academia?

40

Corey Robin 08.08.14 at 2:27 am

christian_h at 38: Exactly.

41

William Timberman 08.08.14 at 2:41 am

JM @ 36

Thinking that I must be making my judgment on the basis of a (cheap) stereotype is where you go wrong, Going wrong in that way is in fact exactly the way you’ve gone wrong in all of your comments here so far.

You dismiss as irrelevant every experience which you aren’t familiar with, leading me to believe that your idea of relevance is administrative, i.e. task-based. You make assumptions about what other people should think based on ends which you’ve already defined, and you restrict your definition of those ends to those attainable by the means available to you, and ignore those means which might available to to others. You aren’t the slightest bit curious about the limits of your own reasoning.

These habits of mind are common in code monkeys, but are of limited use elsewhere, and almost everywhere else is elsewhere, including here — hence my lack of surprise.

42

Donald Johnson 08.08.14 at 2:42 am

“a good rule of thumb in life is that if you think a substantial fraction (perhaps even a majority) of all the people in your society are immoral or stupid because they disagree you with on something that is ultimately a value judgment rather than a matter of fact, the problem might be you, not your society.”

It’s a good idea to think carefully before concluding that a substantial fraction or perhaps a majority of all the people in your society are immoral or stupid because they disagree with you on something that is ultimately a value judgment. Having done that, one may still come to that conclusion. I grew up in the immediate post Jim Crow South. I concluded that a substantial fraction or perhaps a majority of all the white people in my surroundings were immoral or stupid on one particular subject. The problem was not me, but the society. I suspect most societies have practices or beliefs which are immoral or stupid. Certainly that’s been true of America throughout its history. Wouldn’t it be amazing if this suddenly stopped being the case?

As for Israel, they obviously used indiscriminate firepower in an urban area. Some of their artillery pieces were inherently inaccurate. So it’s an open and shut case that they committed war crimes. It’s also consistent with their brutality in previous wars, and also in peacetime.

I wrote my email in support of Salaita, by the way. I think some of his tweets were stupid or offensive, but that’s not a reason for firing him or dehiring him or whatever it was that was done.

43

Corey Robin 08.08.14 at 2:45 am

39: “What would someone who spends all day working with complex but ultimately logical and well-defined systems know about academia?”

Actually, very little. As anyone with more than a passing acquaintance with an academic institution would know.

44

T 08.08.14 at 2:45 am

JM; LFC

I don’t know the procedures for hiring at UIUC but the tenure process typically ends with the university president or the board of chancellors. There are a bunch of famous and not so famous examples of the denial of tenure at that final stage even after the department and college have voted for tenure. Litigation sometime ensued. This is not at all unprecedented in the context of tenure. And anyone going through the tenure process is nervous until the last t is crossed.

Also, for those unfamiliar with the university hiring process, it’s a pretty political affair and this appears to be no different. The UIUC American Indian Studies Program has 7 faculty. The director of the program is Robert Warrior, a well known scholar in the area and former and founding president of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA). Warrior was on Salaita’s dissertation committee. Warrior has been extremely active in the BDS movement as has Salaita. He pushed for NAISA to endorse BDS which it has. And Warrior said of Salaita:

“Steven is an innovative scholar who works from a rigorous training in Native American studies in doing a broad range of critical work, including what we were most interested in for this search, his work in comparative American Indian-Palestinian-Arab American studies.”

Not to sure how many folks are writing in “comparative American Indian-Palestinian-Arab American studies” so, if the quote is correct, that certainly helped Salaita’s chances.

This is slightly off point, but it does give some context. All politics is local.

45

Joshua W. Burton 08.08.14 at 3:29 am

He does software. Why am I not surprised?

Was Neal Stephenson (in Anathem) the first to make an explicit pun out of the Japanese Eta (burakumin) and the latter-day IT caste? Software users who, without any apparent trace of apology or self-deprecating irony, eat the beef and despise the butcher have always reminded me of Tokugawa Japan, so Stephenson’s “Ita” were already an idea in gestation, but somehow I never spotted the clever wordplay to bring it home.

46

JM 08.08.14 at 3:38 am

@christian_h: If I were here screaming about how you’re all evil because I disagree with you, you might have a point. But I’m not. I’m trying to be polite, because I’ve read CT for a while and I always thought the commenters are thoughtful so I’m trying to respond reasonably quickly as a matter of politeness.

@Donald: I’m curious if any other war that involved any urban warfare has been conducted in a cleaner fashion than this one? I can’t think of any, but that might be a lack of historical knowledge on my part, so I’d be interested in any examples.

@William: I’ll just point out that these two sentences both appeared in your post:
1: “Thinking that I must be making my judgment on the basis of a (cheap) stereotype is where you go wrong…”
2: “These habits of mind are common in code monkeys…”

47

js. 08.08.14 at 4:12 am

there’s no such thing as “pro forma” in real life.

I’m just wondering if it’s the ‘pro forma’ part or the ‘real life’ bit you’re confused about. Having been in academia for a bit, I can promise you that there are lots of things that can be extremely well-described at ‘pro-forma’. They often involve boards, even!

The thing is, LFC’s obviously quite right here. Or else, it would make no fucking sense to have a planned starting date prior to the scheduled board approval. Though this kind of thing happens, and it tends to be described as ‘pro forma’, for reasons I’m sure you can understand.

48

jonnybutter 08.08.14 at 4:13 am

I’m curious if any other war that involved any urban warfare has been conducted in a cleaner fashion than this one?

Is that the pertinent question JM?

49

roy belmont 08.08.14 at 4:32 am

<>@Dnld: ’m crs f ny thr wr tht nvlvd ny rbn wrfr hs bn cndctd n clnr fshn thn ths n?

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Wh crs bt trmnlgy.

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s f Jws dn’t hv th mrcn pblc n vrtl nfrmtn lckdwn. Th dsprty btwn th rst f th wrld’s pnns f th cnnng nhmnty f srl nd mrcn spprt fr th crng s bcs mrcns d nt knw wht’s hppnng. Thy d nt knw.
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Cntmpt. Th cntmpt f th sdst fr hs vctms.
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Tht’s wr th wy Jws fght wr.
Y crvn sshl.
Crvn lyng scks f sht.

50

JM 08.08.14 at 4:44 am

@js: Pro forma is really just another of way of saying “used in exceptional circumstances only, so it might look like a sure thing even thought it isn’t.” And apparently they felt this was exceptional.

@jonnybutter:
It is a pertinent question. For an action in pursuit of a legitimate military goal to be a war crime there usually has to be an alternative way of achieving a military end of comparable value that doesn’t involve the war crime. The only really compelling argument that such an alternative exists — i.e. the only argument that doesn’t amount to being an armchair general — is if someone has actually used it or seriously proposed using it. However you feel about Israel, killing members of Hamas and destroying its rockets is an obviously legitimate military goal, and it clearly requires some form of urban warfare. So, given a legitimate military goal requiring urban warfare, has anyone ever exercised more restraint than Israel has now? Note that that’s a question, not an assertion, because I don’t know the answer.

51

Joeff 08.08.14 at 4:44 am

I am not an academic but am related to a shitload thereof. So much for qualifications. The dog that did not bark, so far in this symposium, is the almost inevitable role of what academics Mearsheimer and Walt dubbed the Israel Lobby in the appointment revocation. Look no further for your “collegiality.”

52

JM 08.08.14 at 4:49 am

@roy:
“As if Jews don’t have the American public in virtual information lockdown.”
It’s claims like that that’ll open you up to charges of anti-Semitism. And, honestly, in this case I think anyone who said that would be justified.

53

ZM 08.08.14 at 4:58 am

JM,
” I’m curious if any other war that involved any urban warfare has been conducted in a cleaner fashion than this one?”

Someone was telling me of the engineering/technical feat of designing special vans that would be driven around so the war fighters would pick up poor victims and put them inside the van and gas them to death – this was more clean – but I do not think that is a virtue.

54

Joeff 08.08.14 at 5:00 am

Here’s the problem: Israel claims to speak/act for world Jewry. Not many Jews speak out against Israeli atrocities. The result is a conflation of Jews with Israel.

55

godoggo 08.08.14 at 5:04 am

Oh, poop, lots of Jews do.

56

JM 08.08.14 at 5:05 am

@ZM: I’m not sure I get either the idea or why it would work (was it a real proposal or a hypothetical like Star Trek’s “A Taste of Armageddon”?). Is it fighters or civilians the vans are picking up, and what’s to stop someone using IEDs, land mines or RPGs to destroy them?

57

JM 08.08.14 at 5:12 am

@Joeff: If you can’t find Jews critical of Israel, you’re not looking very hard. Heck, there’s a whole ultra-Orthodox sect that’s rabidly anti-Zionist, and they felt that way _before_ anyone said anything about war crimes.

58

Joeff 08.08.14 at 5:21 am

@JM. A whole ultra Orthodox sect. How could I have forgotten? You really got me there.

59

ZM 08.08.14 at 5:22 am

Gas vans were not just hypotheticals or proposed – they were used. They were invented in Soviet Russia for purges and were used by Nazi’s in WW2 – Wikipedia says mostly to kill Jewish victims.
Less clean methods like firebombing are not virtuous either. And nor are nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, or robotic methods like drones or mechanical armor. War is a great evil vice whether it be clean or not.

60

mbw 08.08.14 at 5:26 am

@belmont

So far as I know Salaita has crossed no red lines, but you sure as hell have.

61

godoggo 08.08.14 at 5:27 am

Joeff, the point is, you must be living in a cave to say something like that.

62

roy belmont 08.08.14 at 5:29 am

Good thing Salaita’s not opened up “to charges of anti-Semitism”.
He’d probably lose his position at UI.
Oh, wait

63

godoggo 08.08.14 at 5:36 am

Goodbye.

64

JM 08.08.14 at 5:37 am

@Joeff: You could be snarky about it, or you could take this as an opportunity to learn that there’s actually a pretty wide range of Jewish opinion varying within and between a wide range of Jewish subgroups that really don’t have much in common with each other except that people who aren’t that familiar with Judaism lump them all together. Some ultra-Orthodox sects are hell-bent on colonizing all of the West Bank but refuse to serve in the army that secures those settlements and others detest both Israel and its army and colonize upstate New York instead. Younger Reform Jews are somewhat religious and broadly critical of Israel while older Reform Jews are generally very secular but much more supportive of Israel. There are further subdivisions by profession (academics usually seem to be the most critical of Israel, while doctors seem to me to be the least). And that’s before you get into Conservative and Orthodox Jews or the increasing number of mixed marriages where the pro-Israeli kids self-identify as Jewish and the anti-Israeli kids self-identify as non-Jewish or a “Jewish atheist” (i.e. ethnically Jewish but with no emotional connection to the religion or the land some of its adherents claim).

65

JM 08.08.14 at 5:39 am

@ZM:
I’m not sure how Nazi gas vans are relevant. Killing Jews was never anything that could pass for a legitimate military objective, so while the result is certainly a sterile war in some sense — no mess — it is not at all clean in the sense I was using the word.

66

ZM 08.08.14 at 5:46 am

“Killing Jews was never anything that could pass for a legitimate military objective,”

I presume you have noticed that people are saying the same about killing Palestinians, right?

I do not understand what sense of the word ‘clean’ you mean.

67

JM 08.08.14 at 5:52 am

@ZM: Killing Hamas militants, of whom there are thought to be about 20,000, is a legitimate military objective, as is destroying their rockets. Both are located in urban areas. So, again, my question: what strategies for avoiding civilian deaths have been used or seriously proposed by other countries facing similar conditions? As I said, I don’t know the answer, but I’m curious to know what it is.

68

Joeff 08.08.14 at 6:04 am

@JM. Look, I am an American Jew, born before 1960. I am a bar mitzvah. And I am well aware of the intense social and cultural pressure that keeps many American Jews silent about what Israel has become, if it wasn’t always. Likewise it is clear that dissent is becoming more and more marginal and risky in Israel. I can’t speak so much for European Jews or others. Thanks for your instruction just the same.

69

William Timberman 08.08.14 at 6:11 am

JM @ 46

Common because they’re essential to the task. The problem arises when you try to deploy them outside the scope of that task. It’s not written anywhere that coders more than members of any other intellectual sub-species have to be seduced by their own expertise in this way, but it’s a fact that many are.

As for JWB’s witticism about eating the beef while despising the butcher, I plead nolo contendere. There’s definitely room in my pantheon for heroically elegant logic, and for the coders who embed it in our modern prostheses physical as well as physical. It isn’t JM’s logic that I’m faulting here, but the premises it’s based on, and the hardly coincidental arrogance with which he neglects to mention those premises to himself or to any of the rest of us — as though they hardly matter at all.

70

William Timberman 08.08.14 at 6:14 am

Physical as well as intellectual. I plead nolo contendere haere as well, and throw myself on the mercy of the court.

71

Joeff 08.08.14 at 6:16 am

PS to @JM 64: when the good folk of Kiryas Joel demonstrate against Israel’s high tech pogrom in Gaza, do drop a line.

72

Emma in Sydney 08.08.14 at 6:22 am

JM, the IRA had militants, and weapons in urban areas, and striking power both in Northern Ireland and Britain. The British, vile as their actions were , did not wall all the Catholics in N. Ireland in, destroy their economy, deprive their children of food and education, blockade them for years, and periodically shell and bomb them with huge civilian casualties. Even when the IRA bombed the Conservative Party conference and killed a few Tories. This does seem to be an alternative way of dealing with a difficult situation.

73

ZM 08.08.14 at 6:24 am

JM,
Genuinely engaging in proper peace negotiations and reconciliation and agreeing on how to share agricultural land and water etc fairly with and share access to the sea etc with Palestinians since now they are all living in the land together is what is legitimate. The Israeli authorities are not doing this.

War just leads to more and more war. The only alternatives to continuous warfare or reconciliation would be to eliminate Palestinians all together, make Palestinians emigrate en masse like many Jewish people left Europe, or turn all Palestinians into hopeless and dehumanised people who can no longer go on:

‘This word ‘Muselmann’, I do not know why, was used by the old ones of the camp to describe the weak, the inept, those doomed to selection.’ (Primo Levi, The Drowned and The Saved).

” The United Nations — which had a lower death toll, 1,814 — said that at least 72 percent were civilians, while two Gaza-based groups put the percentage at 82 (Al Mezan Center for Human Rights) and 84 (the Palestinian Center for Human Rights). The conflict in the Gaza Strip has killed 392 children and injured 2,502, according to a U.N. official.
Israel has a very different assessment. The military says it took the lives of 900 “terrorists,” but it did not provide specifics beyond the 368 cases listed in 28 entries on its blog. Politicians have been saying that 47 percent of the dead were fighters”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/06/world/middleeast/civilian-or-not-new-fight-in-tallying-the-dead-from-the-gaza-conflict.html?_r=0

74

Joeff 08.08.14 at 6:25 am

The Irish Catholics also have a huge diaspora in the US, like the Jews and unlike the Palestinians.

75

JM 08.08.14 at 6:31 am

@William: I’m pretty new to software and actually got my degree in a field that’s in social science, so the coder’s “habits of mind” aren’t all that relevant anyway.

@Joeff #68: If you’re Jewish and you’re well aware that many Jews are vocally critical of Israel, you should also be aware that those who conflate Judaism with support for Netanyahu’s particular policies is out-and-out anti-Semitism.

@Joeff #71: The purpose of a pogrom is, per wikipedia, the “massacre or persecution of an ethnic or religious group.” Is there any actual evidence that either of these is the goal of Israel’s campaign? Presumably you’d need evidence that Israel is being substantially more brutal than is required for the campaign’s legitimate military objectives (Hamas militants, rockets and tunnels) and I’ve asked repeatedly on this thread if anyone knows of examples of legitimate military objectives being pursued under comparable circumstances with less loss of civilian life, and I’ve yet to receive a reply, although I’d be interested if anyone has one.

76

Emma in Sydney 08.08.14 at 6:40 am

JM, I replied. See above.

77

Joeff 08.08.14 at 6:44 am

75/68: if someone claims to act on your behalf and you do nothing to disavow it, you should expect to end up with some shit on your shoes, so to speak.

75/71: persons are generally held to intend the reasonably foreseeable consequences of their actions, protestations of “benign” propose notwithstanding. Also, have you seen the pictures?

78

Joeff 08.08.14 at 6:47 am

PS re 75/71 I think Wikipedia is spot-on on this case.

79

Mike Schilling 08.08.14 at 6:58 am

@ Corey 43:

Yes, exactly what I was saying.

80

JM 08.08.14 at 6:59 am

@Emma: Sorry, I hadn’t seen your post when I submitted that.
There are four important differences: Hamas has far more men than the IRA ever did. Ireland is much less dense than Gaza. The IRA never made a rule of systematically massacring British civilians. Israel does not have the cooperation of the local police force in tracking down terrorists, because the local police force is Hamas.

@Joeff:
– I really don’t think Jews are obligated to publicly list all the specific actions of the Israeli government they disagree with. The fact that different Israeli governments have wildly differing policy positions on many issues should on its own tell any rational individual that they do not speak for all Jews — just for the Israeli citizens who elected them.
– It would be nice to live in a world where military actions are unnecessary, or where they never cause any collateral damage. But that’s not the world we live in, and most people recognize that governments have legitimate interests they sometimes have to pursue by military means.

81

Chris Bertram 08.08.14 at 7:01 am

From our comments policy:

“If your comments are blatantly racist, sexist or homophobic we will delete them and ban you from the site.”

Roy Belmont above has been disemvowelled for blatant anti-semitism. Roy, don’t come back.

82

Emma in Sydney 08.08.14 at 7:18 am

JM, Belfast is pretty dense. I don’t think anyone knows how many fighters the IRA had, and FFS they bombed English pubs. Living in London in the 1980s, it sure felt like they targeted civilians. This is just Israeli exceptionalism. Other countries have found a range of more moderate ways of dealing with difficult problems. Israel apologists keep saying ‘what else can we do?’, but it’s bullshit.

83

Mario 08.08.14 at 7:28 am

Mnwhl, SS s rpng nd slghtrng thsnds f chldrn nd wmn nd cmmttng n nd f trcts. Y wn’t hr blp n tht frm th lks f Slt r Rbn (t mst csl n syng tht f crs t s wrng – bfr rtrnng t thr pthlgc bsssn wth Jws). Ths shws ll y nd t knw bt ths ppl nd thr pnns.

84

JM 08.08.14 at 7:29 am

@Emma: I won’t argue with someone who was actually there about the targeting of civilians — point taken. The most important of the four, however, was local police cooperation. That’s why the West Bank wasn’t getting bombed. (The treatment of the West Bank is still pretty awful, particularly with regards to the settlements, but not getting bombed is a big step up from getting bombed.) The essential issue is this: if you have police cooperation, you can conduct raids and arrest particular people and search homes and cart off weapons. If not, you don’t have many choices besides airstrikes and a full ground invasion.

85

Chris Bertram 08.08.14 at 7:33 am

And commenters who angrily throw around accusations of anti-semitism where doing so isn’t warranted also risk being zapped, Mario.

86

JM 08.08.14 at 7:40 am

@Chris: I think Mario could’ve been referring to the way people who don’t usually care at all about human rights issues suddenly latch onto Israel/Palestine because of the colonizer/colonized narrative. (I have a few of those in my Facebook feed.) I don’t mean to imply that I think that’s the case with either Corey or Saliata, but I don’t think there was an outright accusation of anti-Semitism, although it’s hard to double-check now post-disemvowelling ;)

87

ZM 08.08.14 at 7:42 am

Joeff @74,

Australia has quite a lot of diasporic (?) communities as well, Jewish (112,000 ), Irish (2 million ), Palestinian (9000 ) amongst many others. I was talking to three girls in the city the other day and they were praying for the safety of their family in Gaza.

I was just reading this article about the Jewish community in Carlton.

“THE earliest memories are incongruous . . . the ABC News at seven o’clock and the face of King George VI. What have they to do with my Jewish boyhood? Listening to the
news was as much a ritual as the lighting of the candles on the Sabbath Eve. For the news told us how the war was going.

In much the same way as the war had determined much of the talk about and around the Jews of my early boyhood, the emergence of Israel affected much of my later childhood, I joined Habonim, the first of the Zionist youth movements to be established in Australia.
It was an exciting time to join such a movement. At every meeting there was passionate talk about the events in Palestine, about the coming of independence and about the
realisation of historic dreams. It was quite overwhelming for a boy of nine
and I took it all terribly seriously, as did my friends. Saturday afternoon when we would meet in a crumbling old factory turned into clubrooms at the top of Drummond Street, became the focal point of the week. The blue uniform with its dark blue scarf was
the one item of clothing I cared for through the week and the songs of the
Zionist pioneers crowded out all others.

Nevertheless [my father] was a strong supporter of the “terrorist” liberation movement because, as he said, “God needs sleep sometimes”. The word “terrorist” angered him and
he dismissed the ideas of “self-restraint” I brought home from my youth movement which was ideologically aligned with Ben Gurion’s political party in Israel — the Mapai, ‘opponents of the “terrorists”. In later years I was to join a Zionist youth movement which was fundamentally religious: Habonim was irreligious (rather than anti-religious
although its leadership then included some outspoken Marxists). But in my boyhood Habonim was my first love.” (Sam Lipski, Memories of a Jewish Boyhood)

I think the author of the reminiscences is a leading Zionist in Australia – but he seems also to be involved (via his work as CEO of the Pratt Foundation and its link with the Royal Children’s Hospital) in this healthcare endeavour created after the mother of a young Palestinian girl (Rozana) who fell and was injured insisted she be treated at Hadassah hospital which is the best for children’s care in the area :

“Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have access to improved healthcare thanks to a unique multi-faith partnership created in Australia that has won the endorsement of the Palestinian Authority. Project Rozana brings together the Hadassah Australia Foundation; Anglican Overseas Aid, an overseas relief and development agency of the Anglican Church of Australia; and the world-renowned Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem”

88

JM 08.08.14 at 7:42 am

*Scratch that. I just managed to decipher the bit before the close-paren.

89

Sasha Clarkson 08.08.14 at 8:37 am

“I think Israelis have lost what we can call a “humanitarian sensibility,” the capacity to identify with the suffering of a distant other.” (Eva Illouz Professor of sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.)

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/interview-with-sociologist-eva-illouz-about-gaza-and-israeli-society-a-984536.html

The same is undoubtedly true of many Palestinians: but, surprise surprise, brutality brutalises. What should be clear to the world now is that the “two-state” solution will never work. Indeed, Likud’s policy of settlements was partly designed to undermine any such possibility. Hamas’ militancy paid off in one sense: since 2005 there have been no more Israeli settlements – or perhaps it would be more honest to call them exclaves – in Gaza. The more moderate leadership in the West Bank has no hope of achieving this: their land, water etc are all targets for slow assimilation: West Bank Palestinians are second class citizens in a territory they nominally control – just as was the case in the former South African “homelands”.

Military victories are not making Israel more secure. Gaza reduced to rubble is simply arming the future for more atrocity. A “two-state” solution could only ever work on the basis of equal rights for all residents, and Israel was never going to allow that. But equal rights for all residents and power sharing is the only way the peoples of these lands will ever be able to live in peace. Unrealistically idealistic? Perhaps, but nothing else has worked, or has the prospect of working.

90

Kevin Donoghue 08.08.14 at 8:52 am

So JM would have us believe that the British Army in Northern Ireland had local police cooperation. I suppose Operation Motorman was undertaken just to give the friendly neighborhood cops something to look at.

91

Niall McAuley 08.08.14 at 8:53 am

Ahem – a lot of this seems rather off-topic. Even if Salaita’s tweets were anti-Semitic, he was offered the position with a written letter affirming the AAUP policy. AAUP policy would not allow him to be fired if he tweeted that he was Hitler’s biggest fan.

Israel’s conduct during Operation Protective Fucking Edge is entirely irrelevant.

92

JM 08.08.14 at 9:00 am

@Sasha: Although I think the substance of what you say is about right — Hamas has convinced right-wing Israelis that peace in the form of 2SS isn’t a realistic goal, and the settlements are at least partly an expression of that pessimism about peace — the South Africa comparison isn’t particularly accurate and is also quite inflammatory. Richard Goldstone, who is both the author of the Goldstone Report and one of the individuals who was instrumental in dismantling Apartheid (and thus something of an authority on both Israel and South Africa) had what ought to have been the last word on that 3 years ago: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/opinion/israel-and-the-apartheid-slander.html

93

JM 08.08.14 at 9:06 am

@Kevin: Operation Motorman took one day, occurred only in some neighborhoods, and the IRA basically gave up without a fight. If Israel could mount a one-day, successful ground invasion of Gaza with zero casualties, I’m sure they would. And for the analogy to hold, they’d have to be in control of most of urban Gaza already and retake only a few areas.

@Niall: Isn’t the university’s claim that this was a withdrawal of an offer rather than a firing?

94

vasilis 08.08.14 at 9:21 am

“The treatment of the West Bank is still pretty awful, particularly with regards to the settlements, but not getting bombed is a big step up from getting bombed.¨”

Seriously? One wants props for not bombing civilians?

95

Niall McAuley 08.08.14 at 9:27 am

@JM: Yes, that is their claim. So I’m this black lesbian, and I get a written offer from the University along with a statement that they operate a strict policy of no discrimination against minorities. I say cool, quit my job, rent my home and prepare to settle in. Then the Chancellor gets a letter from Rednecks of America telling her I’m black and gay and unsuitable, so she withdraws the offer.

And the strict no-discrimination policy doesn’t apply until after she approves my hire?

I don’t think so. I think Salaita’s lawyers will be sending a firmly worded letter.

96

JM 08.08.14 at 9:44 am

@vasilis: No one’s asking for props. My point was just that the ability to operate freely on the ground makes it much easier to prevent civilian casualties during urban warfare.

@Niall: anti-discrimination promises apply to the decision to make an offer, whereas academic protections kick in after the hiring process is complete. Very different situations.

97

Niall McAuley 08.08.14 at 9:58 am

I predict the Chancellor climbs down after the lawyer’s letters start, and privately says “Sorry guys, my hands are tied” to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

98

J Thomas 08.08.14 at 10:00 am

The treatment of the West Bank is still pretty awful, particularly with regards to the settlements, but not getting bombed is a big step up from getting bombed.

So, you argue that Israel is right to do all this because of their legitimate military aims?

And their legitimate military aim in Gaza is to kill all 20,000 Hamas members?

Hamas is a divergent group with lots of opposing opinions about what to do about their overwhelming problems, but by becoming a member one becomes complicit in the crimes of any other member?

Well, at least people aren’t born Hamas.

About the tunnels, if Gaza was a sovereign nation they would have the right to dig whatever tunnels they wanted, inside Gaza. When they dig tunnels inside Israel then Israelis might intercept them, collapse them, fill them with poison gas, etc. But maybe that is not practical technologically, and so Israel must inspect all of Gaza and do something about the far end of each tunnel, and the entire tunnel network. We have to be practical about these things.

99

JM 08.08.14 at 10:35 am

@J Thomas:
Hamas is a military organization whose actions and words show a dedication to one goal and one goal only: hurting Israel, regardless of the cost to anyone else. People who join that group know full well what it is and what it stands for, and they are all legitimate military targets for Israel. As it happens, Israel doesn’t want to topple Hamas because it prefers the devil it knows, but if it wanted to it would be well within its rights to kill all 20,000 members of Hamas in the absence of a viable but less bloody strategy.

As to the Gaza-as-a-sovereign question: if Gaza were a sovereign state, the first government-sanctioned (i.e. Hamas-sanctioned) tunnel into Israeli territory to attack and kill Israeli civilians would have represented an act of war, and led to exactly the result we’ve seen these past 3 weeks. And that, as it happens, is why no two-state solution can include Hamas. The moment they have their sovereign territory they’ll use it to launch more attacks on Israel, and a few days later we’re back to the occupation.

100

Brett Bellmore 08.08.14 at 10:43 am

As a general rule, if you make large scale preparations for an invasion of your neighbor, and launch missiles into their territory, they are not required to leave most of your invasion preparations intact when they respond to your attack. They’re allowed to attack ALL your military infrastructure, command bunkers, munitions warehouses.

Essentially, Hamas and Israel are in a state of war. The idea that Israel has to respond to Hamas in a way which preserves as much of Hamas’ military capacity as possible is, I think, somewhat insane.

101

ZM 08.08.14 at 10:51 am

“‘Actually they’re not your prisoners,’ says Elisha. ‘And, look, they’ve been marching for hours, they need food and drink.’ At a stroke Elisha turns the enemies into guests. The king sees this, and switches at once to a different social code, the obligations of hospitality. He knows as much about generosity in hospitality as he does of ruthlessness in war. Honoured guests deserve a banquet, and this is what they get. Richly satisfied, the soldiers are sent home. The text leaves us to imagine what they reported to their king. But the long-running state of war comes to an end. You don’t attack those who treat you as honoured guests.”
http://richardbauckham.co.uk/uploads/Sermons/Elisha.pdf

102

Kevin Donoghue 08.08.14 at 11:04 am

JM, I made no analogy. I responded to to your ridiculous claim that Britain, unlike the IDF, had “local police cooperation” in the areas of Northern Ireland where it operated.

But Niall McAuley is quite right. None of this is remotely relevant to the way Salaita was treated. Even if the IDF’s conduct was impeccable his sounding off on Twitter would in no way justify messing him around like this.

103

J Thomas 08.08.14 at 11:12 am

#99 JM

Hamas is a military organization whose actions and words show a dedication to one goal and one goal only: hurting Israel, regardless of the cost to anyone else.

OK! Now I understand your position. If this was true, it would make sense for Israel to kill them all, regardless of the effect on innocent neutrals. Just like the USA wants to kill every AQ member regardless of innocent muslim casualties in any muslim nation around the world. Obviously if their only intention is to hurt us, we must kill them regardless of collateral damage.

But what I have read about Hamas says you are not right. They have a very active program to help Palestinians. That’s why they have so much support. When they got started, they did more to help Palestinians than the PLO did with a much larger budget, because they were not as corrupt.

Lots of observers claim that they have a “military wing” which tries to organize defenses against Israel, and a “political wing” which tries to help Palestinians. But Israelis claim there is no distinction and does its best to kill both.

It makes some sense for Israel to take this position, because they believe all Palestinians hate them and want nothing more than to hurt Israel, so anybody who feeds Palestinians is harming Israel. If you allow Palestinians food they will find a way to turn it into explosives. Better not to let them have food.

I’m kind of surprised that you would believe the Israeli propaganda about Hamas, but now I see why you take the stand you do.

As to the Gaza-as-a-sovereign question: if Gaza were a sovereign state, the first government-sanctioned (i.e. Hamas-sanctioned) tunnel into Israeli territory to attack and kill Israeli civilians would have represented an act of war, and led to exactly the result we’ve seen these past 3 weeks.

How many Israeli civilians have Gazans killed by going through the tunnels?

Did you know that there are tunnels under the US border with Mexico? But they haven’t particularly been used to kill US citizens. When the USA found the first one, should we have bombed Mexico?

104

Jesús Couto Fandiño 08.08.14 at 11:30 am

#103 … no, it would not make sense, same way the US actions dont “make sense”, same way both sets of actions rise from a mentality that just gets all of us non Israeli/Americans to find Israel/US a murderous bully that sows the same hatred they are supposed to be trying to fight.

The moment you say the lives of innocents dont matter one single bit for your political objectives when fighting some pathetic rabble that cant do to you 1/1000 of the harm you do to the innocents, you are not justified.

105

Louis Proyect 08.08.14 at 12:01 pm

Let’s be very clear about something. If the hiring and firing of professors is based on what opinions they hold extraneous to their scholarly duties, then the wholesale firing of CP professors and their fellow travelers in the 1950s was justified. They supported a government that was having people executed or thrown in prison simply for advocating democracy. They also believed that the USA should follow that path. How could a university employ such people since their views were bound to come across as uncollegial to their colleagues? This is about as simple a case of academic freedom as you are going to run into. If the U. of Illinois is successful in its McCarthyite type behavior, the American academy is going to end up more like those totalitarian societies the CP professors supposedly advocated.

106

J Thomas 08.08.14 at 12:08 pm

The moment you say the lives of innocents dont matter one single bit for your political objectives when fighting some pathetic rabble that cant do to you 1/1000 of the harm you do to the innocents, you are not justified.

Agreed. But what if you believe that the innocents are not in fact innocent?

If you believe that all Palestinians hate Israel and want to hurt Israel more than they want to save their children, and they will hate Israel all their lives and raise their children to hate Israel.

In that case wouldn’t it make sense to kill them all?

But killing all the Palestinians is not acceptable to world opinion, so one must be moderate. Kill only the ones who have actually done something trying to destroy Israel — something like joining Hamas, joining Hamas is an act of terrorism with no possible purpose but to destroy Israel. But if more people who hate Israel but haven’t acted on it yet accidentally get killed too, that’s more a plus than a negative.

And so we get the Israeli propaganda that Palestinians intentionally get their children killed to make Israel look bad. Because it does make Israel look bad, and Zionists think it should not.

Doesn’t the reasoning make sense, once you start with those assumptions?

But of course it does not make sense to people who believe that some Palestinians are innocent, or to people who believe that Palestinians are justified to try to hit back.

107

Jesús Couto Fandiño 08.08.14 at 12:13 pm

#106 There is an obvious Godwin in all of this.

108

J Thomas 08.08.14 at 12:57 pm

There is an obvious Godwin in all of this.

Yes, but it is taboo to say so.

109

Trader Joe 08.08.14 at 1:21 pm

Wow – two disenvowelings in one strand, you don’t see that everyday (fortunately).

Curiously the more ardently some defend Salaita’s dismissal, the more I agree it was wrong.

Even if I were to agree with the word & tone police or think academic freedom has more shades of gray than some might allow – the matter is clearly not so cut and dried that it deserves a vigorous and ardent defense. Giving the Chancellor all of the possible benefits of the doubt, the best I can come up with is that it was a close call to defend the University reputation as a supporter of religious diversity at a not inconsequential reduction to its reputation as place of academic freedom.

If their goal was to simply tone down the rhetoric, there should have been other levers to pull. If their goal was to supress the rhetoric – they’ve done the opposite and are now associated with it regardless.

110

LFC 08.08.14 at 1:27 pm

@Joeff 68

There are several American Jewish groups that are critical of Israeli govt policy and U.S. policy w/r/t the I/P conflict. Jewish Voice for Peace and the U.S. branch of Peace Now, to name two. They don’t have the influence in D.C. that AIPAC does, but you are wrong to imply that there’s little dissent among American Jews about this. There’s in fact a fair amount of dissent.

It’s also interesting to note the reaction of what J. Busby at Duck of Minerva called the “liberal Jewish diaspora” to the Gaza campaign. It’s been quite critical; he collected a bunch of links that indicate this; see link to his post in next box.

111

LFC 08.08.14 at 1:31 pm

Busby link

112

Donald Johnson 08.08.14 at 1:46 pm

“I’m curious if any other war that involved any urban warfare has been conducted in a cleaner fashion than this one? “

There are plenty of other examples where a government used excessive firepower in response to guerillas. I think there are cases where less force was applied. Other people here know much more than I do about how the British fought the IRA, but I don’t think it involved flattening whole neighborhoods. Back during the Vietnam era (setting aside the question of whether the wars should have been fought at all) people used to contrast how the Americans and French fought the communists in Vietnam compared to, I think, how the British handled communists in what is now Malaysia, but I know even less about that. I’m not endorsing any of those campaigns, but I gather the British didn’t flatten villages. The Israelis on a small scale are doing what the US did in Vietnam. There’s this classic article by Neil Sheehan on that, which reminds me a bit of Israel and Gaza in this sense–Sheehan says that for years he was actually a witness to war crimes, but didn’t fully recognize it as such. But the US would destroy villages in response to sniper fire. (Sheehan’s civilian casualty numbers for the war are almost certainly too low.)

Sheehan

The Israelis have the option of only using very precise weapons too, which wasn’t the case in earlier wars. They don’t have to use 155 mm howitzers, for instance, which the NYT wrote about the other day as inherently inaccurate.

113

Donald Johnson 08.08.14 at 1:49 pm

Oh, I see the IRA example was already being thrashed out –should have read the rest of the thread.

114

Eli Rabett 08.08.14 at 1:50 pm

FWIW, the legalities depend on what was in the offer letter. Secondarily, if the offer was made by the Chancellor subject to the approval of the Board it is not clear that the Chancellor can unilaterally withdraw it. The Board, however . . . . does not have to approve.

115

Corey Robin 08.08.14 at 2:06 pm

Though I don’t think this changes the issue of whether or not Salaita should have been dehired, here is my interpretation of that tweet of his that has people most upset: “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948″.

One of the great achievements of the human rights movement of the 20th century is that it made anti-Semitism into a term of universal opprobrium; it was associated with a terrible animus toward Jews, discrimination, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. Kind of like racism, post-Civil Rights Movement in the US.

But today we see three developments: first, Israel and many of its defenders claim that Israel is coterminous with Jewishness — indeed, that Israel exhausts the definition of Jewishness; second, Israel has come to be associated, in the eyes of many, with colonization, racism, occupation, population transfer/ethnic cleansing; and, third, movements against colonization, racism, occupation, and the like are considered to be honorable because those things are thought to be, like anti-Semitism itself, among the great sins of the 20th century.

Because of these three developments, Israel has perversely made anti-Semitism into something honorable: i.e., a discourse that is not about animus toward Jews but rather about opposition to colonization, population transfer, occupation, and the like.

I should say, as I already have in my OP here, that I disagree with this understanding of anti-Semitism today. But I think it’s the only interpretation of that tweet that I can think of that makes sense of Salaita’s overall commitments, which include an opposition to Zionism and an opposition to anti-Semitism.

Admittedly, a mouthful, and considerably longer than a 140-character tweet. But that’s the difference between Twitter and other mediums.

116

Donald Johnson 08.08.14 at 2:24 pm

That’s why one shouldn’t make tweets of that sort. I assumed his message in that tweet was along the lines that Corey just wrote, but if you have to write paragraphs to explain yourself, then don’t tweet it. If this story makes it into the mainstream press, what are the chances that this tweet will be mentioned? Roughly 100 percent. What are the chances that something along the lines of Corey’s interpretation of the remark will make it into the same press stories? Less than 1 percent. Maybe there will be an op ed somewhere.

And in the press the pro-Palestinian movement becomes the movement that supports guys who think anti-Semitism is honorable. I wrote an email supporting him, but his friends should tell him his tweeting habits need to change.

117

William Timberman 08.08.14 at 2:27 pm

Corey Robin @ 115

The difficulty in making the distinction, necessary not only to describe accurately the historical shifts in the meaning of Jewishness, but also to deprive the mass slaughter of Palestinians of each new justification as it arises, is that there never seems to be a shortage of people who hate Jews on general principle, without any necessary reference to the actions of the State of Israel.

The growing threats to the Jewish communities of Europe are both deplorable, and a warning. Saying, well, they deserve it, after all as some in the anti-Israel left seem tempted to do, even knowing what they know about the history of the last 80 years or so, is all the evidence we should need that the distinction is not only worth preserving, but actively defending as well, no matter how many Jewish Community Centers in the U.S. still display little Israeli flags in their anterooms.

118

LFC 08.08.14 at 2:29 pm

D Johnson:
people used to contrast how the Americans and French fought the communists in Vietnam compared to, I think, how the British handled communists in what is now Malaysia

The British counterinsurgency campaign during the ‘Malayan emergency’, as it was somewhat euphemistically called, was a long one and probably none too ‘antiseptic’, though I don’t know a lot about its details. However, the fact that the British were eventually successful in defeating the Malayan Communists (which outcome had at least something to do with ethnic alignments in Malaya at the time) led U.S. strategists in Vietnam to attempt to copy aspects of what the British did in Malaya. (Robert Thompson, credited for the British victory in Malaya, was head of the British Advisory Mission in Vietnam and consulted by the Americans.) This was a major source of inspiration for the ‘strategic hamlet program’ in S. Vietnam, which failed quite disastrously.

If the British didn’t indiscriminately flatten villages in Malaya, it was partly because the particular circumstances allowed them to use somewhat more ‘discriminating’ albeit still coercive methods, like population transfer via the creation of ‘strategic hamlets’. For various reasons having to do w a different context, the effort to transfer that particular method to S. Vietnam did not work.

119

Ani 08.08.14 at 2:39 pm

The medium’s strengths and constraints play an outsize role in all this. Cary Nelson and others argue that by virtue of the overlap with Salaita’s academic interests, they are extramural but part of his public profile or something or other. Some but not all of the tweets become more palatable if they are explained and contextualized, but it is very hard to accomplish that on Twitter, let alone while remaining consistent with the reason for tweeting — getting others to pay attention to you and giving tantalizing or even incendiary glimpses of what you might say in another medium.

Do we accept character limits and tonal norms as a side constraint under which academics have to persevere, such that they may be cited as extenuating circumstances, or do we say proceed entirely at your own risk? All this tempts me to the latter, at least as a prudential matter. So long as universities refrain from promoting the success of their faculty on social media.

120

Niall McAuley 08.08.14 at 2:40 pm

I’m sorry, “strategic hamlet” makes me think “tactical macbeth”.

121

J Thomas 08.08.14 at 2:41 pm

Whew.

Saying that Jews deserve antisemitism because of Israel.
And saying that Gazans deserve to be bombed because they haven’t killed off Hamas themselves.

It’s the same logic mistake really. Just with fewer bombs.

I emailed about Salaita the first hours, for whatever good it does.

At this point anything they do makes University of Illinois look bad. But if they come out against academic freedom, it’s going to be another big controversy the next time somebody pressures them to fire somebody for inadequate “collegiality”. It will go straight to the Chancellor who will have a reputation for bending to such things, and they’ll get irate people on both sides arguing back and forth, and it will make the University look bad all over again.

122

LFC 08.08.14 at 2:53 pm

N McCauley
I’m sorry, “strategic hamlet” makes me think “tactical macbeth”

That’s good. Actually, it was a soothing-sounding name for a coercive program. P.s.: the recent revival of counterinsurgency in U.S. military doctrine, via the ’07 field manual and Petraeus, Nagl et al, also takes the British experience in Malaya as a pt of reference. (My guess is that there aren’t all that many successful counterinsurgency campaigns in modern history, so the ones that were successful get a good deal of attention.)

123

Donald Johnson 08.08.14 at 3:05 pm

LFC–I used to know that, about the connection between the Malayan campaign and the strategic hamlets, but had forgotten the details.

It’s my opinion that the reason that it is hard to find examples of humane urban warfare is that there’s almost never a good reason for it in the first place. WWII, maybe, where if the enemy holes up in a city you go in, and the only justification there is that the other side is worse and maybe you have no choice but to go in and root out the enemy. But Gaza is not WWII–Hamas wasn’t running death camps. Israel provoked the war in both the short term sense (arresting Hamas members in the WB) and in the long term sense (the occupation and blockade). And the IDF has accurate weaponry and didn’t need to blow up homes with children in them or bomb hospitals even if they thought Hamas had a bunker inside, nor did they need to use 155 mm howitzers. It’s sort of ridiculous one even needs to argue this.

124

Barry 08.08.14 at 3:34 pm

JM: “@Corey: collegiality goes beyond day-to-day in-person interactions. The administration has an interest in things like the university’s image in the popular press, the environment for students, the kind of faculty/grad students a department will be able to recruit, the focus of future research, etc. And if you make life more difficult for the administration, well… that’s not particularly collegial. “

I think that you’ve made my point and destroyed your own point. This was 100% partisanly political.

125

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 08.08.14 at 3:34 pm

Brett Bellmore @ 100

Essentially, Hamas and Israel are in a state of war.

How convenient! Israel is at war with the occupants of the vast ghetto it has created in Gaza. And the Palestinians there do not even have an army, let alone one of the more powerful ones on the planet.

What is the standard for the “most moral army in the world? Seems to be a rather low bar.
~

126

Barry 08.08.14 at 3:36 pm

Another: “He does software. Why am I not surprised?”

Joshua W. Burton 08.08.14 at 3:29 am:

“Was Neal Stephenson (in Anathem) the first to make an explicit pun out of the Japanese Eta (burakumin) and the latter-day IT caste? Software users who, without any apparent trace of apology or self-deprecating irony, eat the beef and despise the butcher have always reminded me of Tokugawa Japan, so Stephenson’s “Ita” were already an idea in gestation, but somehow I never spotted the clever wordplay to bring it home.”

That’s a very bad analogy on his part. What people *have* pointed out is that (in general male – strike that, almost exclusively male) programmers frequently exhibit a difficulty dealing with logic, and a strong belief that because they know who to make (some) software, they know how the world works in general.

127

Barry 08.08.14 at 3:39 pm

Brett Bellmore @ 100

“Essentially, Hamas and Israel are in a state of war.”

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n15/mouin-rabbani/israel-mows-the-lawn

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n16/nathan-thrall/hamass-chances

Israel sought this war; Hamas submitted, and Israel backstabbed them and continued the war.

128

Lee A. Arnold 08.08.14 at 3:59 pm

JM #84: “If not, you don’t have many choices besides airstrikes and a full ground invasion.”

This is incorrect. There are two other options:

As I keep trying to point out, Israel would have a lot better policy if it developed a tit-for-tat system that immediately hit the missile site with pinpoint accuracy, within 30-60 seconds, and then did this on a one-for-one basis. Even it it’s a school. Because then, Palestinian parents would tell the jihadists to go site their missiles somewhere else. Because everybody knows everybody. Combine this “sticks” policy, with “carrots” of rebuilding schools and providing jobs, and it would slowly drive a wedge into the Palestinians between those who want peace and those who want war. It might take 30-40 years, but look at the current mess. Israel just drives everyone to the side of the jihadists, and risks losing international support as well.

The second thing to do is to get an international peacekeeping force with total police powers into Gaza, again for 30-40 years, prior to statehood at that later date. And combine it with international guarantees for economic aid. The UN created Israel and it is responsible for this mess.

The fact is that various professors and others get so emotional over this that they do not want to push practical alternatives onto the front burner, and keep pushing hard. It’s always, “Well the Israelis won’t accept this,” “the Palestinians won’t accept that.” Well then the Israelis don’t deserve US military support any longer. I think this US idea is a good one: set up its own solution and putting it on paper, then walk away from this ridiculous horror.

129

Lee A. Arnold 08.08.14 at 4:08 pm

J Thomas #121 — I agree 100%. University of Illinois is making a huge mistake.

130

Ronan(rf) 08.08.14 at 4:15 pm

“As I keep trying to point out, Israel would have a lot better policy if it developed a tit-for-tat system that immediately hit the missile site with pinpoint accuracy, within 30-60 seconds, and then did this on a one-for-one basis. “

This is actually nonsensical; (1) you havent shown that such a policy is possible to implement (2) it probably opens Israel up to war crimes prosecutions (3) you havent even shown it will be effective (either by cutting down on militants or disuading the population from ‘supporting Hamas’, and evidence tends to show Hamas support rises after such responses) (4) you dont even take into consideration the politics involved. Israel is generally willing to live with some rocket fire, and a lot of the time rockets are fired from Gaza(whether by Hamas, IJ or others) it serves a specific purpose politically (or else could be done by someone outside of Hamas control) Your idea would lead to *endless escalation*, which both sides dont want. It’s not even a strategy as it removes all control and decision making from the process, and makes it an instinctive set in stone response.
The most obvious solution(which hopefully Bibi will consider) is extending PA control over Gaza and trying to come to along term ceasefire with Hamas, which they have shown themslves willing to agree to.

“The second thing to do is to get an international peacekeeping force with total police powers into Gaza, again for 30-40 years, prior to statehood at that later date. And combine it with international guarantees for economic aid. The UN created Israel and it is responsible for this mess.”

Which is something Ive also been saying, but it doesnt seem to be politically possible(and I dont even know if it would fall under UN powers)

“The fact is that various professors and others get so emotional over this that they do not want to push practical alternatives onto the front burner”

Lee, your response is always an emotional one. Iraq MUST be torn apart. The Middle East IS lurching towards nuclear war. There isn’t any analysis or weighing of probabilities, or setting in historical perspective(or even developing a realistic response) Sunni’s hate Shiites because of the Koran, Israeli’s and Palestinians will always fight, everything is the end of the world.

” It’s always, “Well the Israelis won’t accept this,” “the Palestinians won’t accept that.” Well then the Israelis don’t deserve US military support any longer. I think this US idea is a good one: set up its own solution and putting it on paper, then walk away from this ridiculous horror.”

Well how do you ‘walk away from’it ? Practically? You wont be, anytime soon, so you’re offering an idea with next to zero chance of implementation as the ‘practical’ response.
You’re three response also compltely contradict eachother, from an Israeli tit for tat war, to long term international engagement, from walking away from the entire mess.

131

Ronan(rf) 08.08.14 at 4:26 pm

on tit for tat, there already is a ‘tit for tat’ war, ie Israel often makes incursions into (the outskirts? of) Gaza. This hasnt ‘worked'(and neither has the siege in general)
Why you would replace this with a policy of ‘a missile for a missile’ is beyond me. Perhaps the mood in Israel is slowly changing from their current course to something *actually* sustainable. We should hope so. But this ‘hit the desert and we’ll hit a school’ schtik is bizzare(and not an example of ‘unemotional logical thinking’)

132

Ronan(rf) 08.08.14 at 4:37 pm

One more thing on the ‘tit for tat and then rebuild’ strategy, and then I’ll go.
You say adopt a carrot and stick approach. The stick (obviously) being the blow up the school part, the carrot being rebuilding the school after. How *do you* actually combine this policy ? Israel have virtually no access to Gaza, if they did(ie reoccupation) this probably wouldnt be as big an issue(though there would be other issues, such as a potential 3rd intifada) So how do you rebuild Gaza after each missile ?

The only way is to go through those who control Gaza(ie Hamas) but then you’re basically funnelling money to Hamas. If you think this policy of ‘a missile for a missile’ could be combined with a UN peacekeeping force and development agencies in Gaza (who would do the rebuilding after each strike) then I think you’re wrong. They wouldnt maintain any level of engagement with such a policy in place.

133

J Thomas 08.08.14 at 4:48 pm

people used to contrast how the Americans and French fought the communists in Vietnam compared to, I think, how the British handled communists in what is now Malaysia

Let me put it this way. When there are two sides that are ready to fight, and neither of them is weak enough to lose easily, then they have a hard fight ahead of them.

When one side is ready to call in foreign troops — which will require payments of various sorts — they are usually the weaker side. Likely they are so weak they will lose when the foreign troops go home, or before.

Malaya involved a fight against Chinese communists. The Chinese communists didn’t have much of a chance, they didn’t have enthusiastic support even from the chinese ethnic group much less any of the others. The Malayans had british help because they hadn’t left the British commonwealth yet. The opposition consisted of maybe 50,000 Chinese communists supporting maybe 8,000 troops who got some sympathy from something like 500,000 people who lived in the jungle. The Chinese communists didn’t do very well at getting additional support, and 350,000 troops (including 40,000 from outside Malaya) were enough to mop them up. It helped that the British could relocate and subsidize a lot of the poor edge-of-jungle farmers that the chinese troops depended on for food and information.

The british announced that the emergency itself was the main thing keeping them there, and after they left the anti-colonial revolt was over. They could probably have ended it a couple of years earlier with a general amnesty and such, but the British wanted an unconditional surrender.

The opposition had no chance to win, but they got a lot of attention for awhile by looking dangerous. If the national government had been in place sooner, it probably could have handled the problem without british troops.

When a foreign government comes in to help the weaker side, usually the foreigners do whatever they can think of until eventually they lose and go home. One possible exception was Greece after WWII. During the war, parallel communist and anti-communist resistance movements got practice at guerrilla war. After the war, the US and British occupation troops supported a new greek government that would shut out the communists entirely. When the communists tried nonviolent protest they were massacred. The communists were probably the weaker side all along, but the government got military aid and troops from Britain and the USA, and also Marshall Plan economic support that would be gone if the communists won. The foreign troops helped slaughter a whole lot of communists who attempted conventional warfare, and when the Russians and the Yugoslavs disagreed about whether to continue supporting the war and then neither did, the Greek communists lost decisively and many more died. Communism has not been a serious threat in Greece since then. Probably the anti-communists would have won without the foreign troops but they would likely have taken more casualties.

In democracies, usually resistance movements can be destroyed by giving them political representation. But when they are communists or palestinians this is not practical.

134

Niall McAuley 08.08.14 at 4:53 pm

Ronan(rf) writes: This hasnt ‘worked’

No? Did the right wing in Israeli politics get more or less popular after Operation Whatever The Fuck?

135

The Temporary Name 08.08.14 at 4:55 pm

please make sure to email the chancellor, Phyllis Wise

I was lazy about this the other day but today it’s done.

136

LFC 08.08.14 at 5:09 pm

Ronan:
it doesnt seem to be politically possible(and I dont even know if it would fall under UN powers)

a tricky question probably, but i wd think (cd be wrong) if the UNSC decided to do it, it wd have the authority under ch.7 of the Charter; as a practical matter wd prob require both Hamas’s and Israel’s agreement. A peacekeeping force wd have to have robust rules of engagement, as the some of the recent ones do, and not simply sit around and basically do nothing (i.e. ‘observing’), which, tho i’m exagerrating slightly, is what the UN force in s.Lebanon seems to do. (sometimes that in itself is useful, but not here, I think). An alternative wd be a force not under UN auspices. In any case it shd not be deployed until after a long-term ceasefire is in place and things have quieted down.

137

Lee A. Arnold 08.08.14 at 5:11 pm

Ronan(rf) #130-132 — The only thing you wrote that makes sense is that funds cannot be routed through Hamas. So, an international force is required.

For the rest of it? Oddly scattershot: All sides are already committing war crimes; support for Hamas is increasing now; immediately hitting the guys who fire the missiles would prevent them from ever firing another thus reducing escalation; the system would be technological and have to be tested; no policy is set in stone and the tactics can be changed; etc. etc.

I wasn’t emotional, either when I predicted that Iraq must break up (and when you said it wouldn’t, or that it wouldn’t be an issue) or now that it is happening.

I think the humanitarian airdrop to the Yezidis is a good idea, and the US should use airstrikes on IS who come after them or the Kurds. I just don’t want US soldiers dragged back onto the ground. I know a few who were there the first time.

As for how it is possible to hand a paper outline of a resolution to the combatants and then walk away? I have no idea why that process isn’t obvious to you. Why don’t you ask the last US ambassador to Israel, who proposed doing just that?

138

Theophylact 08.08.14 at 5:13 pm

Joeff @ #68: My experience is almost exactly yours. Born 1940, Bar Mitzvah 1953, although I was already an atheist. An early supporter of Israel (didn’t know much about all the background until much later, because Hebrew School and Sunday School weren’t exactly teaching about the Stern Gang or the Irgun). Slow disillusionment came after the effective annexation of the West Bank, more rapid after the settlements and the invasion of Lebanon.

My liberal brother is an observant Conservative Jew; his son is a Conservadox rabbi. I believe their positions on the behavior of Israel are much like mine, but I’ll be damned if I’ll risk a family breakup by raising the issue at Passover. I think many American Jews are in similar situations, and there are few Jewish organizations that will take such risks (J Street being one of the rare ones), especially when the major ones accuse them of being self-haters or worse.

But though most American Jews more or less automatically side with Israel ceteris paribus, strangely they seem to find that a Palestinian would do otherwise.

139

Ronan(rf) 08.08.14 at 5:17 pm

LFC – do you know, how would a UN mission work in such a context ? Would they be involved not only for security but economic and political development ? And would they work through existing political organisations (such as Hamas and Fatah) ? Do you know the kind of ‘success’ rates there have been on those kinds of missions (rather than just peacekeeping, ie how long til an area becomes reincorporated into an existing state or sovereignty transferred ?)

140

LFC 08.08.14 at 5:17 pm

@Lee Arnold
The fact is that various professors and others get so emotional over this that they do not want to push practical alternatives onto the front burner, and keep pushing hard.

We all have our pet ideas and proposals (I have mine), but if there were an obvious, easy “practical alternative,” it would have come to the fore by now. Don’t you think the Israeli security establishment has considered your tit-for-tat idea? I’d be surprised if they hadn’t. They prob have considered it and concluded for various reasons that’s not feasible and/or wouldn’t work.

The implication that you have the answer and everyone else is too emotional to realize its merits strains credulity. It could be the case, but I’m skeptical.

I do agree w you on the robust UN force: that might be a good idea, if (big “if”) it got some buy-in from the affected parties.

141

Ronan(rf) 08.08.14 at 5:24 pm

“I wasn’t emotional, either when I predicted that Iraq must break up (and when you said it wouldn’t, or that it wouldn’t be an issue) or now that it is happening. “

No I didnt. I said Sunni areas might get greater autonomy and the Kurds might become fully independent, but we couldnt really predict with the certainty you were; and you wouldnt even deal with the geopolitical realities involved, ie the difficulties in getting countries to officially recognise a divided Iraq, or explain how the security issue becomes resolved with three militarised, sectarian states.
The rest of your comment is pretty non responsive.

142

LFC 08.08.14 at 5:27 pm

Ronan @139

LFC – do you know, how would a UN mission work in such a context ? Would they be involved not only for security but economic and political development ? And would they work through existing political organisations (such as Hamas and Fatah) ? Do you know the kind of ‘success’ rates there have been on those kinds of missions (rather than just peacekeeping, ie how long til an area becomes reincorporated into an existing state or sovereignty transferred ?)

Well, first you’d prob have to get UNRWA, which has some role and jurisdiction now, out of there. That in itself might be difficult, as they’ve been there a long time. (Joshua Burton I’m sure knows more about that than I do, based on his previous glancing comments on UNRWA in these threads.)

As for the rest, my answer is basically: I really don’t know. There is by now a lot of experience with and a big literature on UN missions, the conditions under which they do and don’t tend to work, but whether there has been a mission analogous to what this one would entail, I’m not sure. There have been UN peacekeeping missions that include a governance component, in which the UN basically becomes the govt for a period (e.g. E. Timor [?]), but if you didn’t get Hamas’ and/or the PA’s agreement or cooperation, I wdn’t see it as v. possible.

143

jonnybutter 08.08.14 at 5:45 pm

donald johnson at 123:

It’s my opinion that the reason that it is hard to find examples of humane urban warfare is that there’s almost never a good reason for it in the first place.

Thank you. That was my point way back at 48. I typed it and went to bed assuming that JM wouldn’t be so obtuse as to not get it. Wrong. Intra-thread nostalgia…

144

Lee A. Arnold 08.08.14 at 6:15 pm

LFC #140: “Don’t you think the Israeli security establishment has considered your tit-for-tat idea? I’d be surprised if they hadn’t… The implication that you have the answer…”

I am not so sure whether they have considered it, because they don’t appear able to think through the psychological implications of what they are doing now. If they have considered it, I’m guessing they have decided that they would need advanced drone technology, and, either the US won’t supply it, or they need to develop it themselves.

I am not implying that I have the answer. I just don’t like going around and around. Some writers here are spinning in place, whining that it is intractable or insoluble, not coming up with possible practical solutions, not thinking about long-term psychology or military strategy, and going off on emotional tirades. NOT going to solve anything.

145

Joshua W. Burton 08.08.14 at 6:17 pm

Well, first you’d prob have to get UNRWA, which has some role and jurisdiction now, out of there.

The UNSC could put them in charge of sequestering the weapons.

146

Lee A. Arnold 08.08.14 at 6:19 pm

Ronan(cf) #141: “we couldnt really predict with the certainty you were”

I had simply stated that “Iraq must break up into 3 (Shia, Sunni, Kurd) because now, it has gone to pure tribalism.”

Because then, a month and a half ago, it was already possible to find out that ISIS was militarily formidable and was linking up with forces in Syria.

Your responses were beside the point. You insisted that I “haven’t even defined what you mean by break up”; asked “What makes you think a Sunni state is politically or economically viable? What makes you think it’s domestically wanted…?”; accused me of “imagining that the importance of these sectarian identities at this specific moment are set in stone, and that the order that *you see* now developing is natural”; suggested that “The evidence is that Hizbullah and the Muslim Brotherhood have shown themselves willing to work through political systems that don’t fit your caricature” — means what? that they should therefore be believed? — ; and asserted that “Dealing with ISIS… is far easier [than stabilizing Iraq]”.

Here it is: http://crookedtimber.org/2014/06/19/havingbeenwrong/#comment-537213

I had simply written at comment #114 that “Iraq must break up into 3 (Shia, Sunni, Kurd) because now, it has gone to pure tribalism.”

Which is what still appears to be happening. One thing nobody seems to have expected then was that the Peshmerga would start to lose battles.

147

Ronan(rf) 08.08.14 at 6:27 pm

Afaict, from military analysts (!!!!), the Peshmerga are more than likely concentrated on protecting Kurdish territory, so were not willing to commit to protecting areas outside of ‘Kurdistan.’

148

William Berry 08.08.14 at 6:29 pm

I’ll come right out and say it: I’m sure I don’t much like Professor Salaita. I am too old and too relaxed to associate with folks who are that angry. The anger is justified; the vulgar and hateful style of expression is not. Moreover, the style of expression is likely counter-productive.

But my personal opinion of Professor Salaita is irrelevant. As near as I can tell, his firing/ dis-hiring is an egregious violation of the principles of Academic Freedom (to the extent that I understand the meaning of the term; IANAA).

I have e-mailed the chancellor protesting the university’s actions. Professor Salaita should be re-instated/ re-hired immediately.

149

Ronan(rf) 08.08.14 at 6:29 pm

that’s in relation to Sinjar(which I think? is outside of Kurdish autonomy?) Dont know whats happened today re Erbril.

150

J Thomas 08.08.14 at 6:42 pm

#144

“LFC #140: “Don’t you think the Israeli security establishment has considered your tit-for-tat idea? I’d be surprised if they hadn’t… The implication that you have the answer…””

I am not so sure whether they have considered it, because they don’t appear able to think through the psychological implications of what they are doing now.

Consider the possibility that they have worked all that out, and they have chosen this path because this is the one with the implications they like best.

I’m not sure it’s true, but consider the possibility?

They may have considered tit for tat and decided that the results are not what they want.

151

Ronan(rf) 08.08.14 at 6:46 pm

actually, sorry Lee. Im going to stop being snarky/oppositional at this stage.

152

Lee A. Arnold 08.08.14 at 7:03 pm

Ronan(rf) #147 — I hope you are right. If you saw that report at Col. Pat Lang’s, IS divides their own forces to be less susceptible to air attack, does quick penetration of Peshmerga lines, comes around and wipes them out. IS is being led by Saddam’s old military commanders, who studied hard and have lots of experience. It is looking more dangerous for the Kurds. Now it is reported that IS sympathizers are demonstrating inside Turkey.

153

Lee A. Arnold 08.08.14 at 7:17 pm

J Thomas #150 — It’s also possible the security establishment understands the psychological implications, since that is the impression I got from reading Diskin’s statements. So they haven’t been able to sell it to the civilian leadership, or else Netanyahu hasn’t been able to sell it to his rightwing. The suggestion that Kerry and Netanyahu pretty much see eye-to-eye on a two-state solution, but that Netanyahu is hamstrung by the right, is given in this long-form article on the negotiations:
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118751/how-israel-palestine-peace-deal-died

154

Andrew F. 08.08.14 at 7:48 pm

I’d like to know whether the University’s offer was contingent on additional approval, what the nature of that approval condition was, and whether Salaita knew those things.

The ethical considerations here, imho, depend on the answers to those questions. I frankly don’t see anything wrong with a University taking into account public, self-identified speech by an applicant outside of what he may have published in peer reviewed journals. But depending on the answers to those three above questions, there may be a lot wrong with the University’s actions.

In other words, a lot rests here on how we’re characterizing Salaita’s position vis-a-vis the University. If the University had merely declined to extend an offer in the first place to Salaita, I’m not sure any serious ethical issues would be present.

Lee @128: As I keep trying to point out, Israel would have a lot better policy if it developed a tit-for-tat system that immediately hit the missile site with pinpoint accuracy, within 30-60 seconds, and then did this on a one-for-one basis. Even it it’s a school. Because then, Palestinian parents would tell the jihadists to go site their missiles somewhere else.

Because militants are known for sheepishly heeding the protests of concerned parents regarding the placement of weapons? I seem to recall articles reporting that parents who did so received gunfire, not cooperation, in response.

155

LFC 08.08.14 at 7:49 pm

The UNSC could put them in charge of sequestering the weapons.

I get it, Joshua. Just for the record. Wdn’t want your attempts at levity to go totally unappreciated (just mostly unappreciated).

156

Ze Kraggash 08.08.14 at 7:53 pm

J Thomas: “Consider the possibility that they have worked all that out, and they have chosen this path because this is the one with the implications they like best.”

Exactly right. It’s all designed by professionals a-la George Kennan, who devise optimal plans with various scenarios. Keyboard strategists like ourselves have no idea of their equations, their risks, their objectives, their intrigue.

157

Barry 08.08.14 at 8:00 pm

J Thomas: “In democracies, usually resistance movements can be destroyed by giving them political representation. But when they are communists or palestinians this is not practical.”

What a crock.

158

Lee A. Arnold 08.08.14 at 8:14 pm

Andrew F. #154: “Because militants are known for sheepishly heeding the protests of concerned parents regarding the placement of weapons? I seem to recall articles reporting that parents who did so received gunfire, not cooperation, in response.”

That would mean that Hamas intends to kill all the children in Gaza. And that is exactly the wedge that ought to be driven into the population, on a day-by-day incidental basis. The pro-Israeli response in these comments has been that Israel has tried proportionality before. But as far as I can determine, these older policies of proportionality did NOT have the stimulus and response tied together temporally, in intentionality. The purely logical, “rational” linkage of tit-for-tat is lost in always lost the daily welter of life, emotions, other arguments being concocted, and pressures applied. Instead make it a primary decision of each day.

159

Map Maker 08.08.14 at 8:18 pm

As a non-American I’m somewhat amused by the amount of ink spilled on Palestine-Israel. Less amused about the amount of blood. But that being said I am fascinated by 160,000 Syrians killed in a brutal and inhumane civil war that receives not 1/10th the discussion of a Palestine-Israel conflict that has killed 8,000 Palestinians and 1,200 Israelis in the past FIFTEEN years. I cannot understand why this issue is not of equal or greater importance on American campuses EXCEPT the soft racism of expectations of Syrians/Arabs/Muslims OR the hard racism of expectations on Israelis/Jews/American “allies”

160

Ronan(rf) 08.08.14 at 8:22 pm

Ok, but said in good faith, just to give my impression of what this policy would entail.

If it runs *literally* as described (rocket fired, then one comes back to the exact spot in 30-60 secs) the militants could work around it pretty easily.
Say, Hamas drive up to a spot, fire a rocket, drive away, then a missle returns.
On days that civilian casualties are in Hamas interests, they can fire from a hospital, a rocket comes back, the hospital is destroyed and Israel gets bad PR.
On other days when it’s not in their interests, they fire from an empty space, a rocket comes back and theres no harm done.
They could even get twenty militants together and each fire from one spot, then twenty rockets are sent back to this one spot.
This doesn’t degrade Hamas military capabilities in any way, it’s completly gameable, and (even as imagined) it doesnt seem like it’s technologically feasible.
There’sno strategy to it, because it’s purely rote

161

Ronan(rf) 08.08.14 at 8:28 pm

Andrew F – “I seem to recall” is a nice phrase, a link would be more convincing though ?

162

J Thomas 08.08.14 at 8:34 pm

#157 Barry

J Thomas: “In democracies, usually resistance movements can be destroyed by giving them political representation. But when they are communists or palestinians this is not practical.”

What a crock.

Which part do you disagree with?

Democracies often suborn resistance movements. For example, consider the Zapatistas in Mexico. They went for years wanting things that were guaranteed by the Mexican Constitution, and they asked the government for them, and got completely ignored. They could not win elections even locally because the elections were rigged. So finally they took their guns and declared a revolution.

Then the army came in and killed a bunch of them. They ran away. They managed to arrange a cease-fire and peace negotiations, and during the cease-fire the Mexican army surrounded them and then broke the cease-fire. A lot of them escaped through the Mexican lines.

So they re-created themselves as political and completely nonviolent. They used the news from the fighting to advertise their complaints to the world. A newly elected Mexican government promised to give them their reasonable demands. Then the new government broke its promise, and did something completely different, and it changed the Constitution to eliminate the promises the government did not want to keep. The Zapatistas are still doing politics with essentially no violence, even though they still have won no rigged elections.

There are many other examples.

163

Ronan(rf) 08.08.14 at 8:35 pm

” I seem to recall articles reporting that parents who did so received gunfire, not cooperation, in response”

Actually, I dont really doubt it tbh.

164

Ze Kraggash 08.08.14 at 8:50 pm

Where do you get the idea that they want Hamas NOT to fire rockets? Facts indicate otherwise, or at least can be easily interpreted otherwise. And why would you think they are afraid of bad PR? Keeping tensions/controversies (a-la this one with Salaita) alive will deliver them new immigrants: http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/08/08/dutch-jewish-activist-anti-semitism-a-crisis-interview/

165

T 08.08.14 at 9:53 pm

Corey @115
“Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948″.

The clearest and least tortured interpretation of this statement is that the reasons for anti-Semitism before 1948 were wrong/horrible but that after 1948 they are correct/honorable. At a minimum, he is saying that anti-Semitism is understandable since 1948 because of Zionism.

Well Corey, there are a lot a people that thought anti-Semitism was honorable before 1948 for different reasons than Steven or those Steven is trying to understand. There is always a reason for anti-Semitism or a reason for the good scholar to “understand” why others, not them of course, would be anti-Semitic.

You also have to admire Steven’s take that anti-Semitism became honorable just 3 years after the Holocaust. The man doesn’t pull punches. Clear as a bell.

You can try to parse his statement as much as you want but none of it is good.

166

Joshua W. Burton 08.08.14 at 10:16 pm

Automated counterbattery fire in an urban setting is immoral, mediapathic and pointless, but the reasoning against it doesn’t even have to get that far, because it’s expensive and the countermeasure that defeats it is very cheap.

167

LFC 08.08.14 at 10:53 pm

Ze Kraggash
It’s all designed by professionals a-la George Kennan, who devise optimal plans with various scenarios. Keyboard strategists like ourselves have no idea of their equations, their risks, their objectives, their intrigue.

I think you might have been reaching for the name of a U.S. nuclear strategist of the Cold War era, e.g. Bernard Brodie, Thomas Schelling, Albert Wohlstetter, Herman Kahn, just to name a few of the well-known names — they were all quite different (present tense is appropriate in Schelling’s case, since he’s still alive), but all probably appear in a book like Kaplan’s The Wizards of Armageddon. Kennan does not really fit in this list; that kind of thing was not for the most part what he did (though he no doubt followed the debates).

168

Lee A. Arnold 08.09.14 at 2:03 am

Joshua W. Burton #166: “immoral, mediapathic and pointless…the countermeasure that defeats it”

More immoral and mediapathic than what just went on now? Though I don’t think it would be as pointless.

I don’t think your countermeasure would defeat it, unless Palestinian parents don’t KNOW that a missile has been sited at a school. Or don’t care. The point is to drive a wedge in.

169

J Thomas 08.09.14 at 2:14 am

#165 T

You also have to admire Steven’s take that anti-Semitism became honorable just 3 years after the Holocaust. The man doesn’t pull punches. Clear as a bell.

When you don’t give him the slightest benefit of the doubt, others may treat you similiarly.

For example, you are responding like a zionist. Zionists say it’s OK to kill Palestinian babies provide you are also trying to kill Palestinian adults who support Hamas. If you are a Zionist you are a bad person.

I wouldn’t really say that. But more and more, it looks like antisemites are bad goys and Zionists are bad Jews. And there is more similarity between them than I like.

170

Ze Kraggash 08.09.14 at 8:35 am

What’s the point of analyzing this guy’s tweets? As if it’s not obvious what he and numerous other people are upset about right now. They feel angry and powerless, a bad combination, not exactly conducive to generating a thoughtful discourse. That’s all the analysis you need, really.

171

J Thomas 08.09.14 at 12:46 pm

#166 Joshua Burton

Automated counterbattery fire in an urban setting is immoral, mediapathic and pointless, but the reasoning against it doesn’t even have to get that far, because it’s expensive and the countermeasure that defeats it is very cheap.

In case it wasn’t plain to everybody, your idea was that even if you destroy missile sites immediately, you don’t kill the people who fired the missile because they can arrange to not be nearby when the missile launches.

But Lee Arnold’s idea wasn’t that you kill the people who fire the missile. It was that you kill everybody who lives nearby, and immediately — before they have time to run away unless they knew about it hours ahead of time.

That way you turn people against anybody who wants to fire missiles against Israel. If they fire a missile and don’t tell people ahead of time, people die. Anybody who sees them set up will try to stop them, knowing that they and their families will die otherwise, killed by Hamas.

And if they do tell people ahead of time, with time to escape, people will still want to stop them to keep their personal homes from being destroyed. Also if there are any spies for Israel there, the spies can report it and maybe Israel can attack the site before the missile launches.

As it is, when Israel just blows people up at random, Gazans get mad at Israel and cheer on people who try to hit back. But if they knew that Israel would kill them in a few minutes after a rocket launch, they would be all NIMBY and would blame Hamas for the people Israel killed.

His intention is not particularly to reduce the number or the percentage of innocent civilians killed. It is to make their deaths more *effective* at hurting Hamas and helping Israel. To get Gazans to blame the deaths of innocent people at Israeli hands on Hamas and not on Israel.

172

Ze Kraggash 08.09.14 at 1:19 pm

“As it is, when Israel just blows people up at random, Gazans get mad at Israel and cheer on people who try to hit back. But if they knew that Israel would kill them in a few minutes after a rocket launch, they would be all NIMBY and would blame Hamas for the people Israel killed”

Thanks for exposing the utter racism of it: the cause-effect connection needs to be made more clear to the monkeys.

Not new, though; Alan Dershowitz made a similar proposal over a decade ago:

Following the end of the moratorium, Israel would institute the following new policy if Palestinian terrorism were to resume. It will announce precisely what it will do in response to the next act of terrorism. For example, it could announce the first act of terrorism following the moratorium will result in the destruction of a small village which has been used as a base for terrorist operations. The residents would be given 24 hours to leave, and then troops will come in and bulldoze all of the buildings.

Over time, the Palestinian residents of these villages will place the blame where it should be placed: directly on the Palestinian terrorists who engaged in terrorism against Israel with full knowledge the consequence would be the destruction of their homes. Those villagers whose homes were coming up on the list would have an incentive to pressure the terrorists to desist.

http://archive.today/3xmoI#selection-453.1-453.512

173

Barry 08.09.14 at 2:05 pm

BTW, the idea behind the term ‘making antisemitism honorable’ is rather clear:
Zionists equate opposition to the government of Israel with antisemitism. Since opposition to the government of Israel is frequently honorable, the conclusion follows from simple logic.

174

Lee A. Arnold 08.09.14 at 2:05 pm

Ze Kraggash #172: “Those villagers whose homes were coming up on the list would have an incentive to pressure the terrorists to desist. [quoting Dershowitz]”

Well you have changed my mind. I think a whole village is too much, and 24 hours is too long, and Dershowitz is an idiot, but you are probably right. Why not just let the current situation to go on like it is, with occasional big operations that kill thousands. It’s just working so well!!!

175

Ze Kraggash 08.09.14 at 2:58 pm

Lee, I seem to remember that you felt deterministic about the situation in Iraq; what makes you think that you can affect this situation? Is it that in Iraq you see the situation shaped by blind forces of nature, and here you think you recognize intelligent actors on one side of the border? That’s your mistake. ‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth.

176

T 08.09.14 at 3:30 pm

@173

Barry,

That’s an incredibly tortured reading of Saliaia. There were Zionists before 1948 and according to him that was a period where anti-Semitism was horrible. It was only after the establishment of Israel in 1948 that Salaita said anti-Semitism became honorable. He has plainly equated the establishment of Israel as a reason for anti-Semitism if not for himself than for others. As I mentioned earlier, there have always been “reasons” for anti-Semitism. They’re different for the anti-Semites on the left than the right, but they’re always there.

177

Barry 08.09.14 at 4:28 pm

T: “That’s an incredibly tortured reading of Saliaia. “

To be honest, I wasn’t working off of that; I was working off of the statement itself, and decades of seeing the assertion ‘anti-(government of) Israel=antisemite’.

Once that’s been done for decades, ‘antisemite’ loses its sting.

178

T 08.09.14 at 6:17 pm

Barry @177
Corey
Salaita’s statement pretty much speaks for itself. Corey turned himself into knots to try to make a defense and now your adding on things Salaita didn’t say to try and make sense of the original tweet. It doesn’t work. For starters, Western liberals supported the founding of Israel in 1948 (especially given the Holocaust) and only started having issues with Israel well after the occupation decades after the founding. Salaita’s issues started exactly in 1948 — he says so.

Also notice that you are blaming (certain) Jews for antisemitism by saying that it’s the Zionists own fault. I really don’t think you want to go there.

Throughout the last couple of centuries there were always reasons why the accusation of “antisemitism lost its sting.” In fact, as Corey points out, there wasn’t much sting at all until after WWII. That’s a three year grace period for Salaita before it all starts again in 1948. For some, back to the usual business for different reasons.

179

J Thomas 08.09.14 at 8:20 pm

Corey turned himself into knots to try to make a defense and now your adding on things Salaita didn’t say to try and make sense of the original tweet. It doesn’t work.

There’s an old DC saying that goes “Where you stand depends on where you sit.”

If you’re Jewish and sensitive to antisemitism, then of course that’s what will seem important to you. Anti-semites will naturally latch onto criticism of Israel to try to make Jews look bad.

But if you aren’t Jewish and you start noticing really bad news out of Israel, but if you talk about it people say you are an anti-semite because otherwise you would not ever say anything bad about Israel, after awhile it looks like you don’t actually have to do anything bad to get called anti-semitic.

Here’s how that started for me. I read about the Liberty incident, and I got a copy of the unclassified US Navy report on it. The Israelis attacked a US ship and gave a curt apology saying they mistook it for an Egyptian ship that looked nothing like it. They said they did not see the US flag on the ship, when their initial airstrike included a precision strike on the radio antennas, much much thinner than the flag. They destroyed those antennae, and the Liberty would have had no communication except that the crew improvised a radio by using the ship’s hull as an antenna. The Israeli torpedo boats that came later blasted a great big hole in the ship at fairly close range. The Liberty put out life-rafts on the assumption the Liberty would sink, and the Israeli ships machine-gunned the life-rafts and took them away from the Liberty. That would be a war-crime if they did it to an Egyptian ship, right? The Israeli government said the warriors involved would get reprimands but instead they got medals.

The whole thing did not make sense. It really looked like the Israelis wanted the Liberty to sink without a trace and with no survivors, and they gave up on that after they found out that the mayday message had been sent. Why would they do that? I don’t know. But that torpedo happened to take out the arab-language communications experts the ship was there to support, who also translated hebrew messages being US Jewish communications experts. If they learned something that Israel did not want the USA to know, maybe it’s still classified or maybe they did not get the message off before they died.

It was a puzzle. The US media almost completely ignored it. There were a few very brief mentions like the one that got me to look it up. Eventually there was one report in I think Hustler magazine, an entirely private publication that did not care about looking respectable. People called the Liberty crew anti-semites because they talked about what happened to them.

Later more info got out because of the internet. Whenever I joined an online discussion about it, I got called an anti-semite because I was ready to consider the possibility that Israel did something bad.

In general anybody who was open-minded about Israeli hasbara could expect to get called an anti-semite. After a couple of years of that I stopped taking it at all seriously. It was just something Zionists said.

180

godoggo 08.09.14 at 9:28 pm

Meh, I’m largely sitting this out because obviously anything I say on the subject is because I’m a Jew.

I think it’s very laudable for Corey to help this loon keep his tenured job but I personally won’t be lifting a finger for him.

181

T 08.09.14 at 9:39 pm

@179

This is not hard. Antisemitism is hatred for Jews because they are Jews. You don’t need an Israel and you don’t need Zionism for antisemitism. It has existed for centuries. Just like racism.

Salaita comes along and says hatred is Jews was horrible before Israel but honorable after Israel. He’s conflating his hatred of Zionism with a hatred of Jews. There is almost no other way of reading that. And, as we know, it’s another in the long list of reasons anti-Semites use to hate Jews. Just one he’s comfortable with. Corey, the anti-Zionist Jew, got thrown under the bus by the tweet.

Salaita is an English professor. Makes a living using words. Gotta admit that the tweet is snappy. He thought about it. He owns it.

182

J Thomas 08.09.14 at 10:42 pm

Antisemitism is hatred for Jews because they are Jews.

T, that’s what antisemitism *used* to mean.

Now, antisemitism also has a second meaning: Criticism of actions of the Israeli government or Israeli settlers in the West Bank etc. by goys.

There is almost no other way of reading that.

No, that is not a particularly good reading, and it certainly is not almost the only way to do it. You suffer from some sort of tunnel vision.

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godoggo 08.09.14 at 10:55 pm

The plural of goy is goyim. I see why you’re using that word. Trying to get a rise out of people. Tee hee.

The antisemitism charge gets abused, as I’m sure everyone here is aware. But yes it is a real thing. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/08/nyregion/swastikas-slurs-and-torment-in-towns-schools.html?pagewanted=all

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godoggo 08.09.14 at 11:10 pm

As I say, I don’t think this relatively unimportant in the scheme of things, but when certain people incessant attacks make the reminder necessary it seems.

185

godoggo 08.09.14 at 11:10 pm

sorry, scratch “don’t”

186

godoggo 08.09.14 at 11:11 pm

among other slopinesses

187

J Thomas 08.09.14 at 11:25 pm

among other slopinesses

That was a typo, right, and not racist.

188

godoggo 08.09.14 at 11:25 pm

Yes.

189

Joshua W. Burton 08.10.14 at 2:15 am

J Thomas @179: I read about the Liberty incident

Short version: The photo on the cover was taken from Kursa flight leader’s gun camera on the second strafing pass. The smoke from USS Liberty is going straight up, because she was running at five knots patrol headway in a flat calm. The flag on the main halyard was therefore hanging straight down.

Long version: read the whole book, preferably the expanded edition including the missing radio transcripts that Judge Cristol succeeded after seven years in FOI’ing out of the NSA. Much of the crew will, understandably, go to their graves telling it differently, but this was a fog-of-war tragedy, as every one of the ten or eleven investigations since June 1967 has correctly concluded.

Really long version: I’ve known Judge Cristol for forty years; he was my grandmother’s attorney, he taught me to sail, and his son was best man at my wedding. He and Captain Ernest Castle (the 1967 US naval attaché in Israel) met me for dinner in Tel Aviv on 7 June 1992, the night before they flew themselves, two of the Israeli pilots, and some of the Liberty survivors out to drop 34 pink carnations at the exact site and say kaddish. He’s the real thing, and — well, read the book before you even get this far; the author is his own character reference, beyond my poor ability to add or detract.

190

Lee A. Arnold 08.10.14 at 2:53 am

Ze Kraggash #175: “Lee, I seem to remember that you felt deterministic about the situation in Iraq…in Iraq you see the situation shaped by blind forces of nature”

How did you come to this wrong conclusion? I reported what looked imminent from reading analyses, and it was correct.

A month and a half ago, it was already possible to know: that ISIS is being directed by some of Saddam’s old top military people; that they were already demonstrating good battlefield tactics; that they hadn’t had a loss yet; that they were better than anything Baghdad had; and that they were calling for arms and fighters from other countries.

It was pretty clear that the US would be drawn in, though I wrote that I hoped that Obama would keep us out of it beyond sending advisors. But ISIS is even stronger than I thought, or it would be that the Kurds are weaker.

That is NOT being deterministic. Determinism is supposing it could not happen otherwise. It just didn’t LOOK like it was going to happen otherwise.

Wouldn’t you want to try to think ahead of things, in order to AVOID determinism?

You may say, “Oh no, I shall avoid instrumental rationality, and dwell warm and comfy instead, in the land of mystical contemplation.”

But meanwhile it was clear that ISIS had a plan, and it was going to determine exactly what would happen next, and it did.

191

godoggo 08.10.14 at 4:51 am

Pleeeze come back J Thomas. I will go away and not say mean things to you.

192

Ze Kraggash 08.10.14 at 8:13 am

Lee “How did you come to this wrong conclusion?”

What I meant is that you were certain that Iraq will split into parts regardless of what various actors might attempt to do, because you sensed irreconcilable contradictions inside it (sorry if I misunderstood). And I think the same logic applies here as well, in regards to these bursts of violence, atrocities, massacres, and so on – for as long as Zionists backed by the US control that piece of land there. I believe it’s been going on long enough for pessimism/determinism to settle in.

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J Thomas 08.10.14 at 12:54 pm

#189 Josh Burton

“J Thomas @179: I read about the Liberty incident”

Crystol

Excellent hasbara. He makes it kind of plausible. He is of course an utterly biased source, and his results could not have come out otherwise.

My own best guess is that after Israel told the US Navy to stay out of the eastern mediterranean because it belonged to them now, that the US Navy sent a ship in to prove that the Israelis would not dare to sink it. And the Israelis did dare. But other interpretations are possible.

One of the biggest things I got out of the US Navy report was that after the Israeli ultimatum (they sent messages saying they “could not guarantee the safety of” the Liberty) there were reportedly eight different orders sent to bring the Liberty out of harm’s way, and all of them failed to get through. One was accidentally given low priority and higher-priority traffic delayed it. Another was accidentally sent by way of the Philippines. I find this utterly implausible. At least six of those messages were constructed after the event, by people who wanted to play CYA, to make it look like they did the right thing after they found out that they did not do the right thing.

Partly in response to this incident, the US military got a new multi-billion-dollar communications system that was computerized in a way that was supposed to prevent officers from tampering with the records of previous messages. It was supposed to prevent them from going back and changing the old records to make themselves look better.

Of course I knew that admirals etc would do what they could to make themselves look better, but it was seldom so obvious. I guess I was kind of naive in those days, and that made a big difference to me, bigger than anything about Israel. As a side issue, it showed me that almost any evidence quoted by the report could have been doctored to make somebody look better, and the report itself could have been was doctored to make somebody look better.

My original point here though, was that for years afterward the US media printed nothing at all about the incident except abbreviated bits of hasbara, and anybody who tried to talk about it got called antisemitic. And one result of that was that I did not take accusations of antisemitism nearly as seriously as I had before.

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J Thomas 08.10.14 at 12:55 pm

#191 godoggo

Pleeeze come back J Thomas. I will go away and not say mean things to you.

?? I took a nap. You don’t need to go away.

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J Thomas 08.10.14 at 1:10 pm

#183 godoggo

The plural of goy is goyim.

There’s a reasonable case that in English the plural can be goys.

Similarly, in english we can say meshuganas and not necessarily meshugoyim.

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godoggo 08.10.14 at 2:10 pm

Yes exactly.

197

Layman 08.10.14 at 2:24 pm

“Long version: read the whole book, preferably the expanded edition including the missing radio transcripts that Judge Cristol succeeded after seven years in FOI’ing out of the NSA. “

I don’t think Cristol ever succeeded in getting the NSA transcripts of the actual attack, did he? His FOI request produced transcripts of communications in the immediate aftermath. NSA said it had none from during the attack, though numerous witnesses, including those who made the recordings, disagree with that claim. Cristol’s book hardly settles the matter. And, when you say ‘the author is his own character witness’, you’re not kidding, since your link goes to his own account of his character!

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nogoodboyo71 08.10.14 at 2:32 pm

The crucial point about the so-called most offensive tweet has been completely missed by various commentators here, particularly in T’s laughable statement that we can only reasonably understand it as praising anti-semitism, but also in Corey’s oddly overly-intellectualized account of it, which gave T his/her opening to claim that you had to tie yourself in knots to read it as anything other than racist. This is the simple fact that ‘anti-semitism’ appears in scare quotes, which is a device used to distance the writer from an expression, and indicate that it is somehow problematic, or at least that it is the way someone else wants to describe something, not the writer. I won’t try and paste the link in here for fear of messing up the post, but the Wikipedia ‘Scare Quotes’ page states this quite well, and helpfully adds that writing ‘so-called’ before the expression does the same kind of job. Given this, the obvious interpretation of the tweet is as follows: Actual anti-semitisim is something horrible. But what certain zionists have been calling ‘anti-semitism’, viz. criticism of Israel’s unjustifiable policies, is a) not anti-semitism at all, and b) the right position to take. If Salaita had written that anti-semitism had become honorable then that would have been an endorsement of anti-semitism, but he didn’t, he said that ‘anti-semitism’ was honorable, which in the context of the scare quotes is a completely different thing.

Barry at 173 does a better job, but even he fluffs his lines somewhat by placing the scare quotes around ‘making anti-semitism honorable’, instead of just around ‘anti-semitism’. ‘Honorable’ is Salaita’s own word, he doesn’t want to distance himself from that. It’s the scare quotes placed around ‘anti-semitism’ alone that make it clear that Salaita is not saying that actual anti-semitism is honorable. It follows of course that he is not saying that anti-semitism became okay when Israel was founded, or anything like it, contrary to what T claims. He is saying that zionists have been deliberately conflating criticism of Israel’s unjustifiable action with anti-semitism since the founding of the state.

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Joshua W. Burton 08.10.14 at 4:22 pm

There never were NSA transcripts of the actual attack — as you say, numerous witnesses disagree, but the FOI releases provide substantiating contemporary negative evidence. The FOI’d cover memo, dated 22 June 1967, from NSA to the White House, says: “This activity deals solely with the aftermath of the attack of Israeli jet aircraft and torpedo boats on the USS Liberty (GTR 5). There are no COMINT reflections of the actual attack itself.” The transmissions from the Kirya to the Mirages were UHF line-of-sight, and the American EC-121 apparently didn’t get anything until 1430, about 32 minutes after the attack started. The FOI’d transcripts from that point match the Israeli transcripts released in 1987.

By “his own character reference,” I meant that Cristol’s integrity, patriotism, diligence, training, intelligence and temperament show clearly through in his writing taken as a whole. My own personal character reference on his behalf is as strong as I can make it; there is literally no one on earth whom I know as well and admire so much. But as a bitstream I don’t flatter myself as carrying my own passport to credibility (as he does), so it doesn’t add much that I say so.

The general observation that “eyewitnesses suck” is perhaps even more important than the one that “eyewitnesses lie.” I have a relative who will go to his grave believing that TWA flight 800 was shot down, on the sheer number of civilians who saw lights in the sky and think they know what happened. Sometimes, as with the fabricated Jenin massacre of 2002, there is malice in the air, but more often, as with the Liberty survivor conspiracy theories, it’s just fog. (Notice, however, how J Thomas’s artful juxtaposition of “machine-gunned the life-rafts” with “war-crime” supports the libel, widely repeated but not found in evidence or testimony, that US sailors in the water, not discarded rafts from the firefighting effort, were shot at. While that could just barely have been innocently crafted on Thomas’s part, I would need some convincing to believe it.) The timely moral to take away, if any, is that caution is always needed.

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J Thomas 08.10.14 at 5:13 pm

(Notice, however, how J Thomas’s artful juxtaposition of “machine-gunned the life-rafts” with “war-crime” supports the libel, widely repeated but not found in evidence or testimony, that US sailors in the water, not discarded rafts from the firefighting effort, were shot at.

Did somebody say that it was US sailors on the liferafts getting shot at?

I did not see any implication of that. They did shoot at the US sailors who were launching liferafts, and at the US sailors who were trying to put out fires.

I guess it was a gray area for war crimes. If the ship had been egyptian as the Israelis claimed they assumed without evidence, and if it had sunk and there were survivors of the shipwreck, the Israelis would by Geneva Convention II have been obliged not to kill them but could take them prisoner, and would be obligated to treat the wounded, etc.

Destroying the liferafts before the egyptians could get on them, acting to make sure there would be no shipwrecked survivors, was presumably not a war crime because until the ship sank anybody who was killed was not shipwrecked and could be machine-gunned, napalmed, shelled, torpedoed, etc — all of which they did to the Liberty’s crew.

Whatever ship they thought they were attacking, destroying and removing the liferafts does tend to confirm that they intended there would be no survivors.

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Joshua W. Burton 08.10.14 at 5:50 pm

Whatever ship they thought they were attacking, destroying and removing the liferafts does tend to confirm that they intended there would be no survivors.

Because ordinarily when you strafe a ship at 600 knots, you carefully avoid the rafts?

Testimony of Lt. (jg) Lloyd Painter at U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry: “We then filed out to our life rafts which were no longer with us because they had been strafed and most of them were burned, so we knocked most of them over the side. All during this time in Repair Three, my men were fighting fires and knocking burning life rafts, etc.”

The rafts were damaged from the air, in the initial attack; there is no contemporary testimony that they were ever targeted by the torpedo boats returning .50 fire. MTB 203 picked up one of the discarded rafts at 1503, and, discovering the “US Navy” stencil on it, immediately flashed an offer of assistance. (At 1451, they had read the stern lettering and misidentified the ship as Soviet according to radio intercepts. Fog of war.)

202

Lee A. Arnold 08.10.14 at 5:54 pm

Ze Kraggash #192: “What I meant is that you were certain that Iraq will split into parts regardless of what various actors might attempt to do, because you sensed irreconcilable contradictions inside it (sorry if I misunderstood).”

Because there is a much longer history of expectation that this is the case. Some US military who observed on the ground in Iraq, before the US withdrawal, figured that the differences are irreconcilable, and that Iraq will eventually break up, regardless of what happens. Getting rid of Saddam merely put it into motion. That is one reason why they call it the biggest foreign policy mistake in US history.

203

J Thomas 08.10.14 at 6:39 pm

The rafts were damaged from the air, in the initial attack; there is no contemporary testimony that they were ever targeted by the torpedo boats returning .50 fire.

Yes, some liferafts were damaged earlier. There is no Israeli testimony that they targeted liferafts, but American sailors reported that after they were ordered to abandon ship the Israelis did target the remaining liferafts they tried to launch, and the sailors trying to launch them, and also collected the floating liferafts that the sailors would have tried to reach in the water.

It’s only natural that the Israelis would deny this, since it makes them look very very bad.

It may be a coincidence that Israeli efforts to identify the ship as American and stop firing came after they found that the Liberty had actually gotten an distress call out giving information about the attack. There is no proof that without the message from the Liberty the Israelis would have sunk the ship with no survivors.

But anyway this is all water over the bridge. It happened more than 40 years ago and it hasn’t happened again. The USA is Israel’s best and only ally regardless of the incident. My point is that the US media barely reported it, and reported only the barest hasbara about it, for a long time afterward. In those days the US media was totally biased in favor of Israel.

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Joshua W. Burton 08.10.14 at 6:56 pm

after they were ordered to abandon ship

No such order was ever given, by any testimony.

My point is that the US media barely reported it, and reported only the barest hasbara about it, for a long time afterward.

9 June 1967, page 1.
10 June 1967, lead editorial.
29 June 1967, page 1.

205

Layman 08.10.14 at 8:08 pm

Joshua Burton @ 198

Eyewitnesses do suck, though this case is not a question of describing or recognizing a face. Some people who ought to know claim there were comm intercepts during the attack, and that there were transcripts of those intercepts; while NSA says there were never any such transcripts. Cristol believed the NSA, but I don’t know why. With this kind of discrepancy, either several witnesses are lying, or the NSA is. I don’t particularly trust denials from NSA, for obvious reasons.

I also understand some witnesses report that Johnson, his immediate team, and senior naval officers all believed at the time that the Israelis were deliberately targeting a ship they knew was American, and chose to cover it up in order to protect Israel’s reputation; and those witnesses were similarly in a position to know. It’s possible Johnson, etc, were simply wrong at the time, but if they did decide to cover up their suspicion, that lends credence to the witnesses who claim there is information the NSA hasn’t divulged.

I don’t know what to believe myself. Would Israel target an American spy ship if they thought they had to for some reason vital to their national interest? I’d have to say ‘yes’. Was this in fact the case? It looks that way to me, but I can’t be sure.

206

Joshua W. Burton 08.10.14 at 8:46 pm

Cristol believed the NSA, but I don’t know why.

The NSA cover-note denial purports to be from June 1967, and if genuine but false turns a passive falsehood into an active one with no obvious contemporary motive, incompetently carried out such that the transcripts were seen long after their existence was denied. If forged (that is, non-contemporaneous), it is pretty short-sighted, since it will be verifiable against the received White House copy in the next few years as the Johnson papers age out.

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Layman 08.10.14 at 9:32 pm

“The NSA cover-note denial purports to be from June 1967, and if genuine but false turns a passive falsehood into an active one with no obvious contemporary motive, incompetently carried out such that the transcripts were seen long after their existence was denied. If forged (that is, non-contemporaneous), it is pretty short-sighted, since it will be verifiable against the received White House copy in the next few years as the Johnson papers age out.”

I don’t find this impressive. First of all, the NSA withheld 14 pages of the transcripts they did provide, on the grounds of legitimate national security interest. Second, anything they say they told the White House in June 1967 can be ‘discovered’ to have been wrong and corrected now, with appropriate apology, if and when the need arises. This is true even if they actually made a denial to the White House at the time. Third, it seems to be the case that our intelligence services routinely lie directly about matters of fact, for the purposes of concealing their current or prior bad acts.

The portion of the transcripts actually released does imply some uncertainty about the identity and nationality of the ship. It’s not clear how the missing 14 pages would strengthen or weaken the case.

208

Joshua W. Burton 08.10.14 at 9:43 pm

Also, this commits the NSA and the Kirya to a very slow and intimate two-step, where Fort Meade commits to paper (but does not release) the partial transcripts in 1967, then Tel Aviv, without seeing those, releases falsified full transcripts in 1987 that leave untampered the parts that Cristol will get out of the NSA in 2005. Oh, and there are still NSA and USN bodies awaiting burial while this transatlantic lie is being concocted.

At some point, it becomes easier to believe that OJ voice-acted the whole thing in a sound stage on Mars. With Ron Goldman supplying the Hebrew translations, which would mean . . . oh, crap.

209

Layman 08.10.14 at 10:47 pm

“Also, this commits the NSA and the Kirya to a very slow and intimate two-step, where Fort Meade commits to paper (but does not release) the partial transcripts in 1967, then Tel Aviv, without seeing those, releases falsified full transcripts in 1987 that leave untampered the parts that Cristol will get out of the NSA in 2005. Oh, and there are still NSA and USN bodies awaiting burial while this transatlantic lie is being concocted.”

Not if the transcripts released in 2005 are within their bounds true, but very incomplete. Tel Aviv releases parts of the truth – those parts they find helpful – in 1987, along with lots if other stuff, and the NSA in turn releases partial transcripts in 2005 which don’t contradict Tel Aviv. Neither release requires premeditation in 1967; just a willingness to deceive now.

I don’t really know. I’d like some reasonable explanation as to why people in the know say there were intercepts from during the attacks; and say it was common knowledge at the highest levels that the attack was deliberate; and say the personally witnesses direction to cover it up.

210

Joshua W. Burton 08.10.14 at 11:28 pm

. . . and the NSA in turn releases partial transcripts in 2005 which don’t contradict Tel Aviv.

While purporting to have sent exactly those partial transcripts, as complete, to the White House in 1967. Again, if the NSA memo is contemporary, then Israel would have to coordinate their 1987 forgery with the 1967 NSA version in the blind. If the NSA memo is forged and backdated, then White House records (sealed in January 1969!) will have to be tampered with before (2019?) scheduled release to match the memo sent to the memo received. (You didn’t ask if this was true, by the way, just why Cristol believes it. I think you’re answered.)

common knowledge at the highest levels

Ask John McCain? (He has an endorsing quote on the back of Cristol’s book, by the way.) Seriously, once we’ve reached the point where erecting an NSA lie is more complicated than N cases of faulty memory and mutually reinforcing fabrication in the service of shared understandable rage and paranoia, the charge of black conspiracy in high places comes cheaper than free with the package.

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Layman 08.11.14 at 12:18 am

“Seriously, once we’ve reached the point where erecting an NSA lie is more complicated than N cases of faulty memory and mutually reinforcing fabrication in the service of shared understandable rage and paranoia, the charge of black conspiracy in high places comes cheaper than free with the package.”

Nonsense. There simply has to have been a determination from the beginning not to reveal information demonstrating the Israelis knew the identity of the ship; which was, after all, spying on Israel. Considering the times – the Gulf of Tonkin deception comes to mind – it’s not hard to believe.

As for John McCain, I wouldn’t ask him for the time. He’d certainly get it wrong, and then he’d argue we should invade Switzerland for foisting bad watches on an unsuspecting democratic and peace-loving world. He’s a cretin masquerading as a serious person.

212

J Thomas 08.11.14 at 12:22 am

Assuming that sometime in the future the various claims about radio communications (some of which in fact could have been transmitted by people who were out of the loop) will all match up is kind of — ricketty.

There are various other avenues that could be followed, if somebody had the time and credentials. Israel claimed that Arish was shelled from the sea, so they were looking for the egyptian ship that did it. But they never found any egyptian ships during the war. The egyptian navy having no air support was scared of getting bombed, so they mostly defended Alexandria from a possible Israeli naval attack.
http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/2501/31/Naval-aspects-of-the——War-.aspx

They claimed to patrol as far east as Damietta. (That is, the eastern side of the Nile delta.) And they said they sent some missile ships east of Port Said. (The Suez canal.) Possibly an Egyptian missile ship shelled Arish and got clean away. I have the impression (without seeing it explicitly) that the Egyptian population of Arish had not tried to run away, having nowhere to go, so an Egyptian ship shelling them would be mostly shelling their own civilians. But that sort of thing does happen sometimes. It might be possible to find an Egyptian claim that it happened or that it did not happen.

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Joshua W. Burton 08.11.14 at 1:18 am

Nonsense. There simply has to have been a determination from the beginning not to reveal information demonstrating the Israelis knew the identity of the ship; which was, after all, spying on Israel.

Not to reveal it to whom, Clark Clifford?

214

Collin Street 08.11.14 at 1:36 am

I just want to repeat, the point of hasbara isn’t to make israel look good, it’s to stop people pointing out the things that make israel look bad. Setting a tar-pit/net of pointless distraction issues with endless quibbly details like “how fast was the wind blowing we don’t know maybe they couldn’t see the flag” is a pretty big part of this.

[and a lot of this is done by programming a certain kind of marginalised individual to wander through life sort of like an anti-ship mine, whose role is to float around until they hit a conversation that’s saying nasty things about israel and — literally! — blow up. Or, well, argue “rationally” and “determinedly” and “until everybody just wants them to stfu”, but… well, a lot of the people who do this seem bad at knowing their own emotional state, and I very much doubt that this is an accident.

And note that the chief effect of this is deterrence: people avoid having conversations of israel for fear that they’ll run into one of these people and have to deal with the consequences. And we see this here.]

215

J Thomas 08.11.14 at 1:48 am

The smoke from USS Liberty is going straight up, because she was running at five knots patrol headway in a flat calm. The flag on the main halyard was therefore hanging straight down.

http://www.tallshipwindy.com/extras/flag_wind_speed.aspx
http://www.tallshipwindy.com/extras/beaufort_wind_scale.aspx

They claim a 5×7 flag is easily seen at 1 Bft or 2 Bft. 2 Bft is 4-6 knots. They give moving pictures.

I think it’s possible that whoever told you the flag would be hanging straight down was not lying but only misinformed. Somehow all the misinformation seems to head in the hasbara direction, though.

216

Joshua W. Burton 08.11.14 at 2:16 am

I think it’s possible that whoever told you the flag would be hanging straight down was not lying but only misinformed.

Well, given how many times I’ve sailed (and flown) with him, I hope not. Not to get too technical, but the pointy end in front is called the bow; the relative wind across the deck (which, from the smoke, appears to be Bft 0, suggesting a slight tailwind) will be the vector sum of the true wind and the ship’s way, so flags usually stream sternward. I agree that a 4-6 knot crosswind, had there been one, would have rendered the flag visible (and blown the smoke aside at about a 30 degree angle, where the photo shows it within 5 degrees of vertical.

Thanks again to Collin Street for his tireless hasbara (Heb., “explanation”) of hasbara (BDS jargon, usage apparently as he says).

217

Collin Street 08.11.14 at 2:36 am

Five knots, btw, is nine km/hr: if you were moving at that speed I think you’d call it “running”.

It’s a side-issue. Time spent dismantling bullshit hasbara claims about israeli actions — and “in a five-knot breeze flags hang vertically” is plainly and patently bullshit — is time not spent doing useful stuff: the whole point is to make dealing with israel issues to tooth-pullingly horrible and tedious as to make people not want to engage in criticism of israel.

218

godoggo 08.11.14 at 2:44 am

I’m just a spectator like you, but I don’t think he’s hesitant to criticize Israel at all. Just seems to know a bit about this particular subject.

And of course mind-numbingly tedious argumentation is what CT is all about.

219

godoggo 08.11.14 at 2:48 am

With just a sprinkling of character assassination, care of people like you and me.

220

Joshua W. Burton 08.11.14 at 3:02 am

Actually, I’ve just realized where I have heard an indignant squeak exactly like Collin’s before: it’s the defense cry of the ill-prepared undergrad.

How, in principle, would a person distinguish a minefield of conspiring pedants in league against him from . . . simply being ignorant and annoyingly loud where lots of random people know more than you do?

221

godoggo 08.11.14 at 3:07 am

Anyway, I’m incredibly petty, rarely have anything substantive to say, and I know it, so I shouldn’t get involved.

222

William Berry 08.11.14 at 3:11 am

Joshua W. burton:

At this point, in this particular thread, it has become irrelevant who knows more or who knows less about the Liberty incident.

What has become clear is that you are increasingly behaving like an insufferably arrogant and quarrelsome creep.

223

godoggo 08.11.14 at 3:25 am

But insufferably arrogant and quarrelsome creeps are another thing that CT is all about.

224

godoggo 08.11.14 at 3:32 am

Seriously, there are more than one here.

This drives me nuts, because my profound distaste for a couple of individuals probably makes me seem pro-Zionist of pro-bombing, and I’m really not.

225

J Thomas 08.11.14 at 3:35 am

Not to get too technical, but the pointy end in front is called the bow; the relative wind across the deck (which, from the smoke, appears to be Bft 0, suggesting a slight tailwind) will be the vector sum of the true wind and the ship’s way, so flags usually stream sternward.

Right. You said, 5 knots in flat calm, which gives a vector sum of 5 knots.

You point at a picture in red which you say you can use to tell the windspeed from the angle of the smoke you say you can see, when the picture is taken almost lined up with the ship’s keel.

You are blowing smoke.

I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, but this time I cannot. I can’t explain this by incompetence on your part. You are a baldfaced liar. It is time for you to retire this name and come back with the next name on your list.

226

godoggo 08.11.14 at 3:42 am

chutzpah

227

Joshua W. Burton 08.11.14 at 4:31 am

Finding 2, front page; also, message, 1.C from Adm. McCain to SecNav Nitze. Good people to explain the Beaufort scale to, with mighty Google in your corner.

Hey, but thanks for all the fish.

228

ZM 08.11.14 at 6:02 am

I have been told that the personal animus and built up grudges and dislikes and knowledge about each other’s trickery are one reason why the climate change negotiations always fail. Lots of the negotiators do not get along and do not like to make concessions with one another – so their personal hostilities and distrust ruins the negotiations and they never agree for us to stop climate change because they would rather insult one another and have more climate change. For a public example, an African (President?) negotiator insulted the Australian Prime Minister for not being genuine and hoodwinking the Australian population about his real intentions, and the Australian Prime Minister grievously insulted the Chinese in a crude manner, and no-one agreed for us to stop climate change.

It might be the same with the negotiators who negotiate between Israel and Palestine – replacing the usual negotiators might help – but you would have to find some genuine negotiators instead.

229

Collin Street 08.11.14 at 6:30 am

The real problem, I think, is that the palestinian claims are too modest. Been the same for years: sovereignty, settlements gone or under the palestinian state, ’67 borders and token right of return is [rather less than] what Israel’s obliged to deliver anyway, that or one-state-solution, so any negotiation will end with israel giving the palestinians everything they asked for.

Which israel can’t do, no matter what “everything they asked for” is.

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Minnow 08.11.14 at 12:26 pm

I think it’s very laudable for Corey to help this loon keep his tenured job but I personally won’t be lifting a finger for him.

I kind of agree with this. It may be the right position from a purely abstract point of view, but, like fighting for the honour of a Nick griffin, is it worth the effort?

Is it the general view of Salaita, though, that his tweets should have been disregarded by the University regardless of their content? I mean, if he had been obsessively insisting on Twitter the women who wear provocative clothing are responsible for rape, should we have overlooked that too? Or is it just a Jew thing?

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Lynne 08.11.14 at 12:38 pm

“if he had been obsessively insisting on Twitter the women who wear provocative clothing are responsible for rape, should we have overlooked that too?”

Whoa. Good question.

232

MPAVictoria 08.11.14 at 1:21 pm

“Whoa. Good question.”

Yep.

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MPAVictoria 08.11.14 at 1:22 pm

“Joshua W. burton:

At this point, in this particular thread, it has become irrelevant who knows more or who knows less about the Liberty incident.

What has become clear is that you are increasingly behaving like an insufferably arrogant and quarrelsome creep.”

Really? I think he is demonstrating that he actually knows something about the topic in question….

234

Layman 08.11.14 at 1:36 pm

@ Joshua Burton

I wouldn’t be overly impressed with the findings of an investigation which took just one week and got the number of torpedoes fired wrong. I’m sure you’re aware that there’s some controversy about the shallowness of that investigation…

235

Layman 08.11.14 at 1:39 pm

…and that the message you cite was sent by Liberty only after she was boarded by the Navy board of inquiry…

236

Collin Street 08.11.14 at 1:55 pm

Really? I think he is demonstrating that he actually knows something about the topic in question….

No, it’s mostly just impressive-sounding bullshit. I mean, look here, literally the first random point that grabbed my eye.

Again, if the NSA memo is contemporary, then Israel would have to coordinate their 1987 forgery with the 1967 NSA version in the blind.

Or, “your conspiracy theory would require people to conspire, and that’s just ridiculous!!”. No comment on the plausibility of the conspiracy itself, because I don’t know, but it’s not an argument against the existence of a conspiracy that it would have required surreptitious coordination, surely.

Pretty much everything he writes is like this, held together with tissue paper and wishful thinking.

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J Thomas 08.11.14 at 2:09 pm

I think he is demonstrating that he actually knows something about the topic in question….

He has demonstrated that he knows a lot about the hasbara about the topic.

He has claimed personal knowledge that strongly appears to be flat-out wrong, that he claims proves a point.

His intention is to raise a reasonable doubt that perhaps the Israelis did not know they were attacking a US spy ship.

On the one hand, there was a superbly well-executed attack. In the very first move they destroyed all of the Liberty’s communications, destroying radio towers (and also the flag). Of course they were ready to take out an egyptian supply ship’s advanced communication system, that’s just standard procedure. Then the napalm etc to keep the Liberty crew busy, and the torpedo hit would have sunk the ship except for a lucky accident. They destroyed the liferafts. Whoever they were aiming at, they intended no communications and no survivors. Perhaps by coincidence, they started to worry about going through with it after they found out that the Liberty had gotten a message out and was in continuing communication with the fleet.

To make it be an accident requires a long series of coincidental blunders. They knew the Liberty was there, but they forgot. They got a report about an egyptian ship in the area that turned out to be entirely a mistake. They scanned the Liberty and wrongly measured its speed as way faster than it could actually travel. Etc. A long series of incompetent blunders leading to the superbly-done attack.

Joshua is arguing a subtle point about one of the later minor blunders. They were supposed to check and make sure it was an Egyptian ship. But clearly they didn’t check, they just attacked. It doesn’t really matter whether the flag was drooping or not, because they came at an angle where they wouldn’t see it regardless. Did they not look because they knew who they were attacking or was it that it was just another blunder, a minor one? Who can tell? Someday we might be able to look at their radio communications, but if they said over the radio that they knew what they were doing that would be a *giant* blunder! So that doesn’t tell us anything useful about that question.

So, like typical hasbara, he wants to argue whether the flag was visible in the wind even though that makes no difference. He argues from one blurry picture taken at the wrong angle that he can tell the windspeed, and that the flag was hanging straight down. He argues by authority from a zionist source, and by incorrect reasoning. I don’t believe he would do the reasoning this wrong by accident.

Bad reasoning annoys me, and there’s a lot of it published about the Liberty nowadays. For example, there’s the argument that the Israelis could not have worried about the US spy ship near their operations, because the Liberty’s NSA people were all experts in arabic and none of them knew hebrew. So they had no reason to attack the Liberty. This is like chalk-screeching-on-blackboard for me.

The fundamental conclusion is right anyway. We do not have enough evidence to know whether Israel made that attack deliberately or not, and we probably will not ever get the evidence one way or the other. Unless Israel stops existing while Israeli veterans who were involved are still alive, and they then choose to tell what they experienced.

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MPAVictoria 08.11.14 at 2:10 pm

“Pretty much everything he writes is like this, held together with tissue paper and wishful thinking.”

Well I am a Canadian so what the hell do I know about this issue, however I tend to distrust conspiracy theorists and he doesn’t sound crazy to me as an uniformed outsider. Take from that what you will.

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MPAVictoria 08.11.14 at 2:12 pm

“Bad reasoning annoys me”

hahahahahaah!

240

MPAVictoria 08.11.14 at 2:15 pm

“hahahahahaah!”

Sorry that was immature. My apologies.

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J Thomas 08.11.14 at 2:28 pm

Well I am a Canadian so what the hell do I know about this issue, however I tend to distrust conspiracy theorists and he doesn’t sound crazy to me as an uniformed outsider.

That’s the point of hasbara, to give the impression that their position could be reasonable.

Are you military or police? Somehow from your tone etc I didn’t expect you to be either one.

Sorry that was immature. My apologies.

No problem. We all like to have fun, and you are by no means the only one here who laughs at logic. ;-)

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Minnow 08.11.14 at 2:30 pm

I think ‘uniformed’ was a typo for ‘uninformed’

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J Thomas 08.11.14 at 2:35 pm

I think ‘uniformed’ was a typo for ‘uninformed’

Yes, so do I. I *like* good typos.

It’ snot that I’m immature or anything.

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MPAVictoria 08.11.14 at 2:52 pm

“I think ‘uniformed’ was a typo for ‘uninformed’”

Yep. Oops.

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Minnow 08.11.14 at 2:54 pm

I actually nearly always read ‘uniformed’ as ‘uninformed’ with the effect of rendering many news reports more accurate.

246

MPAVictoria 08.11.14 at 2:55 pm

“I actually nearly always read ‘uniformed’ as ‘uninformed’ with the effect of rendering many news reports more accurate.”

+1!

247

Ze Kraggash 08.11.14 at 5:03 pm

Lee A. Arnold, 202: “…the biggest foreign policy mistake in US history”

Again, as I’m analyzing your thinking, it appears fitting Edward Said’s observations: only the West has agency, the East has none. The US and Israel make foreign policy calculations and miscalculations, while Palestinians and Iraqi tribes do the things that they do, motivated by simple emotions of fear, rage, hatred or whatever (though usually it’s just hatred).

I’m sure from where they sit our actions look just as simple and obvious: always grabbing, blindly and ruthlessly, land, resources, power; more and more, as much as we can swallow. Like a python.

248

Seth Gordon 08.11.14 at 7:09 pm

Just a quick remark on the “tit-for-tat” policy proposal that some people are discussing: even a threat of the form “we will randomly shoot at your civilians if you randomly shoot at ours” is a war crime. (Protocol I, article 51: “Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited…. Attacks against the civilian population or civilians by way of reprisals are prohibited.”)

In the three-thousand-year-plus history of counterinsurgency, the argument “gosh, if we just make the civilians suffer enough in retaliation for the behavior of insurgents in their midst, then they will have an incentive to cooperate with our side” has been employed many, many times—often without success. The logical countermove for the insurgents is to say “we will continue our heroic acts of resistance against the occupier, and by the way we will execute our own vengeance against collaborators”.

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Layman 08.11.14 at 7:51 pm

“In the three-thousand-year-plus history of counterinsurgency, the argument “gosh, if we just make the civilians suffer enough in retaliation for the behavior of insurgents in their midst, then they will have an incentive to cooperate with our side” has been employed many, many times—often without success.”

Indeed, this appears to be Israel’s strategy, both in Gaza and in the West Bank.

250

mjfgates 08.11.14 at 8:35 pm

Seth Gordon@248: Has “gosh, if we just make the civilians suffer enough in retaliation for the behavior of insurgents in their midst, then they will have an incentive to cooperate with our side” EVER worked? Every example I can think of (i) resulted in a sort of constant low-level rebellion, which would grow into a full-scale uprising now and again.

i) Insert “Life of Brian” joke here.

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J Thomas 08.11.14 at 8:43 pm

In the three-thousand-year-plus history of counterinsurgency, the argument “gosh, if we just make the civilians suffer enough in retaliation for the behavior of insurgents in their midst, then they will have an incentive to cooperate with our side” has been employed many, many times—often without success.

It mostly worked for the Germans in occupied France. The french resistance killed german soldiers and also german civilians who participated in the occupation, and the german army threatened to kill innocent french civilians at a ratio of ten to one or a hundred to one, and carried out the threats. The resistance immediately switched to property damage and sabotage. And of course they killed french collaborators, that the germans didn’t bother to retaliate for.

Starting around D-Day they damaged or destroyed many railroad locomotives, bridges, track, etc in France, at a far greater rate than normal, which hindered the german defense. And when it looked like the germans could no longer carry out reprisals they killed a number of germans too.

I think this sort of thing works much better when it is explicit.

Like, for Israel to do it well they should announce that an Israeli soldier has been killed in Gaza so they will do a reprisal. Then they send in helicopters with solders who secure some random area in Gaza and capture say 105 Palestinians and shoot them one by one, for the TV cameras, counting. Then leave the pile of bodies behind with the five random living witnesses.

When they repeated and publicly claim that they are not doing reprisals against civilians at all, then it doesn’t work nearly as well. It makes sense that Gazans ought to make the connection themselves, but when it is publicly denied they are likely to think of it as random destruction.

252

Lee A. Arnold 08.11.14 at 10:04 pm

Ze Kraggash #247: “Again, as I’m analyzing your thinking, it appears fitting Edward Said’s observations: only the West has agency, the East has none.”

I think you should analyze YOUR thinking. This appears to be an illusion inside your head. I just finished writing that ISIS has “agency”.

253

J Thomas 08.11.14 at 10:27 pm

Ze Kraggash #247: “Again, as I’m analyzing your thinking, it appears fitting Edward Said’s observations: only the West has agency, the East has none.”

I think you should analyze YOUR thinking. This appears to be an illusion inside your head. I just finished writing that ISIS has “agency”.

I think this is a false dichotomy.

When you’re thinking about what to do about somebody, then you need to predict what they will do both before and after your own actions. (Unless you intend them to be dead, and then you don’t have to think about what they will do afterward assuming you succeed.) While you are predicting what they do you will tend to figure they do not have free will but respond to stimuli.

When you are negotiating with somebody, then you need to think of him as an agent with free will who makes choices, and pay attention to what he appears to want. If you assume you know what he really wants so you can ignore what he does, the negotiation will probably not go well.

People who think they know what strategy will work on “the arabs” etc, do not grant them agency. If they did, they would not think they knew what strategy would work against them.

But the same people will switch things around when it comes to making agreements. They tend not to be stuck in one mindset unless they are stuck always planning strategies, or always negotiating.

254

Ronan(rf) 08.11.14 at 10:28 pm

Related to some of the above, this is a quite good response to Michael Walzer on I/P

http://www.jeromeslater.com/2014/08/the-walzer-problem.html

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Collin Street 08.12.14 at 12:19 am

Incidentally… is it a war crime to target your own soldiers once captured? It’s hard to frame a prisoner-of-war as a combatant.

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J Thomas 08.12.14 at 12:46 am

Incidentally… is it a war crime to target your own soldiers once captured?

I’m reasonably sure it does not violate the geneva conventions. Maybe some of the others.

The geneva conventions are mostly about what you can do to POWs you capture, and foreign civilians including neutrals, and managing occupied territory, etc. It’s mostly an agreement between nations, particularly between you and your opponent nations. There’s some stuff in it about how to treat insurgents in your own nation, and foreigners who take up arms against you inside their own nations who don’t have uniforms, etc.

What you do to your own soldiers is between you and you.

The only thing I remember it saying about your own citizens is that you aren’t allowed to move them into occupied territory to live.

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godoggo 08.12.14 at 8:56 pm

I would like to clarify my previous statement. There were previously precisely 2 people here whom I viewed with profound distaste. One is gone and one is J Thomas. The reason for my profound distasted is because they are antisemitic as hell.

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J Thomas 08.12.14 at 10:15 pm

There were previously precisely 2 people here whom I viewed with profound distaste. One is gone and one is J Thomas. The reason for my profound distasted is because they are antisemitic as hell.

Godoggo, you are being extremely offensive.

It is crass for you to falsely accuse people of antisemitism.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

259

LFC 08.12.14 at 10:46 pm

Re Slater’s response to Walzer, linked by Ronan @254, that I looked through some of: I’m still inclined, despite the disagreement on this pt expressed by certain commenters upthread, to think the strongest, easiest-to-demonstrate criticism of Israel’s actions in Gaza is along violation-of-proportionality lines. To show a violation of proportionality one has to show what it was “reasonable” for the attacker to anticipate in terms of civilian casualties vs. mil. value of the target, but I don’t think under that analysis it will be difficult to show proportionality violations (to the satisfaction of a majority of observers). Showing proportionality violations will prob. be easier than showing *deliberate* targeting of noncombatants. (I’m thinking in terms of what has to be demonstrated, as opposed to simply asserted.) That’s not to say one couldn’t show deliberate targeting of noncombatants (eg in cases of shelling of a school w nonprecise artillery), just that in many cases it would perhaps prove difficult. The ’06 Lebanon war and maybe some other previous ‘operations’ do seem to have featured deliberate violations of noncombatant immunity, but I can see why Walzer wanted to emphasize the proportionality/exposure-of-own-soldiers-to-risk point in that piece. I think most people (and I include myself) read W’s piece as critical of the IDF (regardless of the somewhat circumspect tone).

Btw, minor errors: in the second graph of Slater’s post he refers to the “Institute for Advanced Studies” — the correct name is Institute for Advanced Study; Slater says Walzer was “a fellow” there — actually, Walzer’s title was professor (now emeritus).

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LFC 08.12.14 at 10:50 pm

p.s. maybe ‘permanent fellow’ is the alternative/interchangeable title — not sure, as I’m not privy to the intricacies of the IAS. anyway, not important.

261

Lee A. Arnold 08.12.14 at 10:57 pm

J Thomas #253: “I think this is a false dichotomy… People who think they know what strategy will work on “the arabs” etc, do not grant them agency. If they did, they would not think they knew what strategy would work against them.”

This is asinine. You can game strategy all the time, believing that others have agency. Stop blathering.

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J Thomas 08.13.14 at 12:09 am

J Thomas #253: “I think this is a false dichotomy… People who think they know what strategy will work on “the arabs” etc, do not grant them agency. If they did, they would not think they knew what strategy would work against them.”

You can game strategy all the time, believing that others have agency.

Lee, does it seem like the civility has declined recently?

Maybe I’m not using the words the way you are. But it seems to me that if you set up a game theory matrix where you look at your actions and the other guy’s actions, and you rate the results of each combination by how good it is for you and by how good it is for the other guy, well to do that you have to assume you know what the other guy wants. And when you make a strategy to get him to do what you want that way, you are assuming you can control him because you know what he wants and what he is willing to do to get it. To me, this means you don’t really think the other guy has agency.

Like, Israelis have been saying for a long time that if they do massively extreme reprisals against Gaza, the Gazans will learn not to do reprisals against Israel. And so far that has never worked. Maybe those Israelis are not granting Gazans agency, but instead assume they they understand all about how Palestinians automatically and instinctively respond, and that it is predictable. Or maybe they actually think something entirely different and only tell us this because they think it will predictably get the best result from us.

When you listen to people say what they want, and you try to make deals with them, you grant them agency. They might actually want whatever-the-hell they want. They might do whatever-the-hell they choose to do.

If they tell you what they want but then they are not interested in deals that involve those goals, maybe they really want something else but there are reasons for them not to say what they want. If you offer them deals involving other goals they might get interested in some of the deals. They have agency. You don’t know what they’ll agree to until they agree to it. You don’t know whether they’ll keep their agreements until you find out.

I remember somebody speculated that Hamas leaders in fact do not want what’s best for the people of Gaza, and they don’t want what’s best for Hamas, instead they want what’s best for their own careers in Hamas. I think this is true for lots of leaders in lots of places so it makes sense it might be true for Hamas too. Of course, Hamas is special because when you get important enough in Hamas then Israel will try specifically to blow up you personally during cease-fires etc. You really know you’ve arrived in Hamas when you and your family get airstriked. It doesn’t seem like a career for people who want to die of old age….

It just seems to me that when we think we know how their minds work, we are not really giving them agency. But you might use the word differently.

Oh, and also people do this not-giving-other-people-agency thing a whole lot. Everybody does it part of the time. It isn’t some giant moral failing, it’s just one of the ways we cope.

263

Lee A. Arnold 08.13.14 at 12:13 am

J Thomas #@62: “you are assuming you can control him”

No you are not. This is thoughtless nonsense to defend previous thoughtless nonsense.

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J Thomas 08.13.14 at 1:15 am

This is thoughtless nonsense to defend previous thoughtless nonsense.

Lee, you appear to be kind of grumpy today. Are you feeling OK? Would you like to take a nap?

265

Lee A. Arnold 08.13.14 at 1:25 am

There is nothing grumpy about it. I am not interested in meandering, train-of-thought speculations and redefinitions. Anybody can write stuff like that.

266

Collin Street 08.13.14 at 1:45 am

I just want to point out that the behaviour exemplified in post 264 is behaviour that noone would tolerate in face-to-face interactions.

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J Thomas 08.13.14 at 2:07 am

Collin, agreed. Lee Arnold had already shown he had no interest whatsoever in toleration. I wanted to respond but did not want to respond in kind. I was feeling tolerant myself.

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Lee A. Arnold 08.13.14 at 2:18 am

I have no interest in toleration of nonsense.

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Ze Kraggash 08.13.14 at 6:06 am

I didn’t mean to upset. Personally, I don’t believe any of these massive categories (US, Israel, Arabs, ISIS) have agency. It’s like this:
http://boboleechronicles.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/2008-11-16.gif?w=655

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godoggo 08.13.14 at 1:49 pm

Whatever I am, I am not crass. I am entirely sincere.

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godoggo 08.13.14 at 1:50 pm

And I’m not buying the idea that “antisemite” is the new “kike.”

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Donald Johnson 08.13.14 at 3:00 pm

Another article on the Hannibal doctrine. link

Which is one more nail in the coffin for the idea that the Israelis try to avoid civilian casualties. I agree with LFC in comment 259 (at the moment anyway) that it is harder to prove deliberate intent on killing civilians (though I think Slater does a good job with the Dahiya doctrine background in making this very plausible), but use of indiscriminate firepower without caring whether civilians die is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

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