Eric Alterman v. Max Blumenthal

by Corey Robin on October 19, 2013

Over the years, Eric Alterman has written many articles I’ve disagreed with. I’ve never commented on them publicly because he’s a colleague at Brooklyn College. But in the current issue of the Nation Alterman devotes a column—and then a blog post—to a critique of Max Blumenthal’s new book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel.

Even if you haven’t read Blumenthal’s book, it’s not hard to see that Alterman is writing out of an animus he can’t get a hold of. His prose gives him away.

Alterman writes, for example, “And its [Goliath’s] larding of virtually every sentence with pointless adjectives designed to demonstrate the author’s distaste for his subject is as amateurish as it is ineffective.” A writer more in control would have seen that it’s not possible for an adjective to be both “pointless” and “designed to demonstrate the author’s distaste for his subject.” Also, that it’s not wise to lambast the use of adjectives with a sentence deploying three of them—and then to follow that up with a sentence using two more.

As it happens, however, I have written about Max’s book on my blog, and Alterman’s portrait bears little resemblance to the book I read.

Where Alterman finds only “juvenile faux-cleverness,” a “case against the Jewish state” that is “carelessly constructed,” reporting that is “technically accurate [!], but often deliberately deceptive,” arguments that are “simplistic and one-sided,” and “a profoundly unreliable narrator” who “nastily and condescendingly mocks” other reporters—more cowbell, baby!—I found a trove of patient and persuasive on-the-ground reporting (Blumenthal spent a year in Israel and Palestine and several additional months in the region), almost all of which Alterman ignores. Had he allotted less space to those adjectives and more to an engagement with the book, Alterman might have come up with a credible critique.

But it was this final passage in Alterman’s column that really made me wonder if we had read the same book:

The most bizarre episode in the book occurs when Blumenthal is granted a rare interview with the deeply admired left-wing Israeli author David Grossman, who lost his son in the 2006 Lebanon war. Grossman rejects Blumenthal’s proposal for “the transformation of Israel from an ethnically exclusive Jewish state into a multiethnic democracy,” not for the obvious reasons—that it is a pipe dream, given the hatred between the two sides—but because of his understanding of 2,000 years of Jewish history, in which restrictions have kept Jews from fully participating in the life of the societies in which they’ve lived. This inspires Blumenthal to lecture him that his own personal experience as the son of a White House “insider”—Clinton adviser and former journalist Sidney Blumenthal—and the experience of other “insider” Jews in the United States leads him to “have a hard time taking [Grossman’s] justification seriously.” The Israeli author and champion of its peace movement soon thereafter ends the interview and asks Blumenthal to please tear up his phone number. Here, our author attributes the response he receives, yet again, to Israeli myopia and lack of understanding of the way the world really works.

In my post, I had singled out that chapter on Grossman for special praise. And because I quoted Blumenthal’s treatment of Grossman at such length, I think it’s useful to reproduce that post here. Readers can judge for themselves whether or not I get Blumenthal right, but I hope it’s clear just how small Alterman has made things. Not only for himself but also his readers. An opportunity for deep moral reflection—about the abyss between Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora, about the power and status Jews have attained throughout the world, about violence and vision—has been missed. We can now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Here’s an edited and revised version of what I wrote.

• • • • •

One chapter, in particular—”The Insiders”—has gotten into my head these past few weeks. It’s a portrait of David Grossman, the Israeli writer who’s often treated in the US as something of secular saint. Less arresting (and affected) than Amos Oz, the lefty Grossman was to Jews of my generation a revelatory voice, particularly during the First Intifada. But in the last decade, his brand of liberal Zionism has come to seem more of a problem than a solution.

I’ll admit I was skeptical when I first started reading the chapter because Grossman is not a typical subject for Max. He’s cagey, elusive. Max knows how to fell Goliath, I thought to myself, but can he get inside David? Turns out, he can.

Max begins his treatment of Grossman by articulating the conundrum of many lefty Israelis: like other liberal Zionists, Grossman thinks Israel’s original sin is 1967, when the state seized the West Bank and Gaza and the Occupation officially began. But that position ignores 1948, when Jewish settlers, fighters, and officials killed Palestinians or expelled from their homes (the Nakba) in order to create the State of Israel itself.

But Max sets the table in an unexpected way. Instead of directly confronting Grossman with the standard anti-Zionist line, Max allows the voices of the Israeli right to speak instead. It makes for a fascinating conversation of difficult contrapuntal voices.

Despite his outrage at the misdeeds committed after 1967, Grossman excised the Nakba from his frame of analysis. Of course, he knew the story of Israel’s foundation, warts and all. But the Nakba was the legacy also of the Zionist left, as were the mass expulsions committed in its wake, and the suite of discriminatory laws passed through the Knesset to legalize the confiscation of Palestinian property. Were these the acts of an “enlightened nation?” By singling out the settlement movement as the source of Israel’s crisis, Grossman and liberal Zionists elided the question altogether, starting the history at 1967.

Though the Zionist left kept the past tucked behind the narrative of the Green Line, veterans of the Jabotinskyite right-wing were unashamed. In September 2010, when sixty actors and artists staged a boycott of a new cultural center in the West Bank–based mega-settlement of Ariel, earning a public endorsement from Grossman, who cast the boycott as a desperate measure to save the Zionist future from the settlers, they were angrily rebuked by Knesset chairman Reuven Rivlin.

A supporter of Greater Israel from the Likud Party, Rivlin was also a fluent Arabic speaker who rejected the Labor Zionist vision of total separation from the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. (He appeared earlier in this book to defend Hanin Zoabi’s right to denounce Israel’s lethal raid of the Mavi Marmara against dozens of frothing members of Knesset.) Contradicting the official Israeli Foreign Ministry version of the Nakba, which falsely asserted that Palestinians “abandoned their homes…at the request of Arab leaders,” Rivlin reminded the liberal Zionists boycotting Ariel of their own history. Those who bore the legacy of the Nakba, Rivlin claimed, had stolen more than the settlers ever intended to take.

“I say to those who want to boycott—Deer Balkum [“beware” in Arabic]. Those who expelled Arabs from En-Karem, from Jaffa, and from Katamon [in 1948] lost the moral right to boycott Ariel,” Rivlin told Maariv. Assailing the boycotters for a “lack of intellectual honesty,” Rivlin reminded them that the economic settlers of Ariel were sent across the Green Line “due to the orders of society, and some might say—due to the orders of Zionism.”

Greater Israel had become the reality while the Green Line Israel had become the fantasy. But with the election of Barack Obama, a figure the Zionist left considered their great hope, figures like David Grossman believed that they would soon be released from their despair.

That line about Rivlin being a fluent Arabic speaker is a nice touch. But that line “those who bore the legacy of the Nakba, Rivlin claimed, had stolen more than the settlers ever intended to take” hits hard.

Max managed to get an interview with Grossman in 2009 at a difficult moment in Grossman’s life. Grossman’s son had been killed in the 2006 invasion of Lebanon, and he wasn’t giving interviews. But Max got one. He opens his account of that interview on a sympathetic note:

Grossman had told me in advance that he would agree to speak only off the record. But when I arrived at our meeting famished and soaked in sweat after a journey from Tel Aviv, he suddenly changed his mind. “Since you have come such a long way, I will offer you an interview,” he said. But he issued two conditions. First, “You must order some food. I cannot sit here and watch you starve.” And second, “No questions about my son, okay?”

Grossman was a small man with a shock of sandy brown hair and intense eyes. He spoke in a soft, low tone tinged with indignation, choosing his words carefully as though he were constructing prose. Though his Hebrew accent was strongly pronounced, his English was superior to most American writers I had interviewed, enabling him to reduce complex insights into impressively economical soundbites.

Max then moves the interview to politics, and you can feel his frustration with Grossman slowly mounting.

At the time, Grossman was brimming with optimism about Barack Obama’s presidency. Though the Israeli right loathed Obama, joining extreme rightists in the campaign to demonize him as a crypto-Muslim, a foreigner, and a black radical, liberal Zionists believed they had one of their own in the White House. Indulging their speculation, some looked to Obama’s friendship in Chicago with Arnold Jacob Wolf, a left-wing Reform rabbi who had crusaded for a two state solution during the 1970s before it was a mainstream position. If only Obama could apply appropriate pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu, still widely regarded as a blustering pushover, Israel could embark again on the march to the Promised Land, with the peace camp leading the tribe.

“This is the moment when Israel needs to see Likud come into contact with reality,” Grossman told me. “For years they have played the role of this hallucinating child who wants everything and asks for more and more. Now they are confronted with a harsh counterpoint by Mr. Obama, and they have to decide if they cooperate with what Obama says—a two-state solution—or continue to ask for everything.”

Grossman seemed confident that Obama was willing to confront Netanyahu, and that he would emerge victorious. “A clash with a strong and popular president is not possible for Israel. Israel can never, ever subjugate an American president,” he claimed. “I see Netanyahu reluctantly accepting the demands of Obama to enter into a two-state solution. [Netanyahu] will pretend to be serious about it, but he will do everything he can to keep the negotiations from becoming concrete. He will drag his feet, blame the Palestinians, and rely on the most extreme elements among the Palestinians to lash out in order to stop negotiations. My hope is that there is a regime in America that recognizes immediately the manipulation of the Likud government and that they won’t be misled.”

By the time Max poses a question about the US flexing its muscles to change Israeli policy, you know what Grossman is going to say, and the combination of naïveté and cynicism on display is exasperating.

I asked Grossman if Obama should threaten Netanyahu with the withholding of loan guarantees in order to loosen his intransigent stance, as President George H. W. Bush had done to force Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir (Netanyahu’s former boss) to the negotiating table. He rejected this idea out of hand. “I hope it shall be settled between friends,” Grossman responded. “The pressure Obama applies should be put in a sensitive way because of Israeli anxieties and our feeling that we’re living on the edge of an abyss. The reactions of Israelis are very unpredictable. It will take simple and delicate pressure for the United States to produce the results they are looking for. But whenever American presidents even hinted they were going to pressure Israel, they got what they wanted. Netanyahu is very ideological, but he is also realistic and he is intelligent, after all. He will recognize the reality he is in.”

Max doesn’t say anything, but you can see his eyes rolling in frustration and impatience (mine certainly were). Now he’s ready to get personal, to zoom in on the empty silence at the heart of Grossman’s position.

For Grossman and liberal Zionists like him, the transformation of Israel from an ethnically exclusive Jewish state into a multiethnic democracy was not an option. “For two thousand years,” Grossman told me when I asked why he believed the preservation of Zionism was necessary, “we have been kept out, we have been excluded. And so for our whole history we were outsiders. Because of Zionism, we finally have the chance to be insiders.”

I told Grossman that my father [Sidney Blumenthal] had been a kind of insider. He had served as a senior aide to Bill Clinton, the president of the United States, the leader of the free world, working alongside other proud Jews like Rahm Emanuel and Sandy Berger. I told him that I was a kind of insider, and that my ambitions had never been obstructed by anti-Semitism. “Honestly, I have a hard time taking this kind of justification seriously,” I told him. “I mean, Jews are enjoying a golden age in the United States.”

It was here that Grossman, the quintessential man of words, found himself at a loss. He looked at me with a quizzical look. Very few Israelis understand American Jews as Americans but instead as belonging to the Diaspora. But very few American Jews think of themselves that way, especially in my generation, and that, too, is something very few Israelis grasp. Grossman’s silence made me uncomfortable, as though I had behaved with impudence, and I quickly shifted the subject from philosophy to politics. Before long, we said goodbye, parting cordially, but not warmly. On my way out of the café, Grossman, apparently wishing to preserve his privacy, requested that I throw my record of his phone number away.

Like Blumenthal, you leave the interview feeling uncomfortable. Both at that anguished and abject confession that Jews “finally have the chance to be insiders”—This is what all that brutality against the Palestinians was for? This is what Jews killed and were killed for? To be insiders?—and at Blumenthal’s reply that Jews outside Israel are insiders too. If being an insider is the best defense of Israel Grossman can come up with, what happens to that defense when it confronts the fact that Jews can be insiders outside of Israel? That’s the question that Max is asking and that Grossman doesn’t answer.

With this exchange, Max reveals the chasm between Israeli and American Jews and the surprising provincialism of some of Israel’s most prominent writers (as a piece by Laura Brahm earlier this year suggests, that provincialism may be more endemic among liberal Israelis than we realize). But he also exposes the deeper impasse of the eternal outsider—from whom the most ancient cries of justice, justice were heard—come in from the cold. Whether in Israel or at the highest levels of American power, Jews have become insiders. Whether we’re in Israel or without, that’s what Zionism means for us: we’re on the inside. The people of exile, the wandering Jew, has come home.

I’ve been sitting with that bleak exchange for days.

{ 317 comments }

1

Mao Cheng Ji 10.19.13 at 7:27 am

You call it ‘provincialism’, and it clearly is, but it seems to me the main characteristic of “for our whole history we were outsiders” is not provincialism but a victim mentality.

2

Phil 10.19.13 at 10:50 am

I’m flashing back to Hannah Arendt’s observation that tribes and nations throughout history have always been both predators and prey, oppressors and oppressed, so that it would be rather singular if the Jewish people had only ever been innocent victims.

3

Ronan(rf) 10.19.13 at 11:01 am

Though if, as per Blumenthal, Israelis don’t understand Amerian Jews (particularly of his generation) the reverse is also certainly true (that American Jews don’t understand Israelis, particularly of Blumenthal’s generation)
I havent read Blumenthal’s book, (and guess I will at some stage), but concentrating on the likes of Grossman or these arguments about liberal Zionisms original sin is itself parochial, and a very specific conception of what Israel is (to the politically active of a certain generation and heritage, to those who still feel an attachment to Israel- as Blumenthal clearly does – in the ‘diaspora’)
But what does it say about how most people live their lives in Israel now (right or wrong), and does Blumenthal capture that? Its a romantic notion

4

Hektor Bim 10.19.13 at 12:41 pm

I agree with Ronan. For a rich New York Jewish top 3 percenter to lecture the son of a bus driver about myopia in Israel is a little much. Is there any reason to read this book if one isn’t a privileged Jewish New Yorker?

Of course Blumenthal doesn’t empathize with Grossman’s position. He’s been a rt ich insider all his life, has American citizenship, and the ultimate fate of Israel isn’t much skin off his back even if things go badly. On the other hand, if you are a lower class Israeli who knows what happened the last time Jews tried to emigrate to safe haven in large numbers when things started going south, you are much less likely to indulge poorly thought out ideas about multiethnic democracies that have terrible historic track records.

5

Ronan(rf) 10.19.13 at 12:58 pm

Just to clarrify how ‘most people live their lives in Israel’ isnt meant to be a defence of Israeli rhetoric about ‘existential threats’ and ‘Palestinian terrorism’ and all other types of nonsense that sustain Israeli victime culture (no offense Hektor : ) )
Its just meant to wonder is Blumenthal’s book the mirror image of this hyperbolic narrative, with the same old cast of characters (extremist Rabbis, racist rightwingers, liberal Zionists unable to reconcile the contradictions of their positions etc)

If so I dont see how it’s any different than any number of US journalists who went to Arab countries and made a living from interviewing radical Imams and terrorists as if thats all there was (Michael Totten, anyone?), and then tried to draw a reasonable analysis from that

Though the reviews seem positive, from generally thoughtful experts. So what do I know?

6

SoU 10.19.13 at 1:06 pm

@4

I don’t think that boiling this down to a debate over who is more or less myopic is really that productive. I think the point that both the OP and the author are trying to make is that there exists a somewhat common argument for Israel that is premised on this notion that before Israel, Jews were a people without a home, but so long as Israel exists this is no longer the case. The counter is that regardless of the existence of Israel, that Jews have a home in America, where they can be ‘insiders’ in all the same ways (that matter).

Moreover, I think there is an implicit point somewhere linking the trouble Grossman has with this proposition (that a multi-ethnic democracy like America could be a true home for the Jewish people) and the trouble that Grossman has with thinking that a post-Zionist state could serve as such a home.

7

Ronan(rf) 10.19.13 at 1:09 pm

I do agree with Hektor though that the idea a multiethnic state is feasible is very naive on Blumenthal’s part

8

William Timberman 10.19.13 at 2:43 pm

No matter what position you take, it seems clear that the situation in Israel/Palestine is — at least in the foreseeable future — beyond a resolution which does some sort of justice to everyone. The Zionist complaint against the Palestinian Arabs, indeed the complaint of many Jews who are Zionists only in the sense of sharing an attenuated cultural reflex, seems to be that Palestinians refuse to understand that they’re a conquered people. I would argue that there are enough Palestinians to make such a refusal a viable option, especially when you consider how many near-tribal allies — other Arabs, and Muslims in general — are willing to give them aid and comfort. There’s no end to the conflict in sight precisely because, in demographic terms, if not presently in military terms, the sides are so evenly matched.

Not being a direct party to the conflict, I could happily avoid having an opinion about it, or at least avoid expressing any such opinion publicly. The reason I bother is that the world is as awash as ever in such conflicts, and those of us fortunate enough to have escaped compelling tribal impulses, if only by an accident of birth, can’t escape being dragged into them at some point. Both sides in the Israel/Palestine conflict say that we can’t understand the depths of their agony until we’ve walked a mile in their shoes. This is certainly true, but like the so-called one-state or two-state solutions being bandied about these days, it doesn’t seem to me like a solution to anything.

9

Mao Cheng Ji 10.19.13 at 3:36 pm

“The reason I bother is that the world is as awash as ever in such conflicts”

Actually, at least in one sense it isn’t. The era of European colonialism had ended, somewhere around 1960. It has been universally condemned; not too many apologists left. Hardly anyone (of the reputable variety) is agonizing over the fate of the post 1994 Afrikaners.

10

William Timberman 10.19.13 at 3:58 pm

Mao Cheng Ji @ 9

The Han and the Tibetans, the Han and the Uighurs, Kashmir and other assorted Hindu/Muslim conflicts on the subcontinent, Shi’a and Sunni sectarianism, the Kurds and the Turks, the Serbs and the Croats, etc. No one plants bombs for the Scythians, the Goths, or the Inca any more, true, and the indigenous tribes of North America apparently lack the numbers to engage in an irredentism dangerous to the status quo, but tribal conflicts still have the power to reshape the world in significant ways. Viewed in that light, European colonialism in its original configurations may be a spent force, but it still casts a long shadow over present events, and not just in the Middle East.

11

Andrew Burday 10.19.13 at 4:08 pm

You and Alterman read the same book. Alterman uses a kind of argument from civility to dismiss Blumenthal’s point, presumably because he has no substantive response. But the substance he reports is exactly the same as what you report. His point is that a pissant like Blumenthal had no right to challenge the Suffering Great Man’s premise, regardless of whether the premise was true. It’s worth observing that liberals will use that kind of argument, which is more often associated with conservative culture warriors (who explicitly use the word “civility”).

In light of Alterman’s criticisms of Blumenthal’s language (the ones you quote at the top of your post), it’s worth noting how hard he’s spinning in the paragraph about Blumenthal and Grossman: “deeply admired”, “lecture”, “champion of its peace movement”, and so on. The language certainly does “demonstrate the author’s distaste for his subject”.

12

L2P 10.19.13 at 4:21 pm

Tibet is an example of European imperialism?

In any event, Israel/Palestine is if not the last conflict of its kind, certainly the last major one. Where else do you have Western powers helping Western immigrants control land taken from non-western peoples?

13

William Timberman 10.19.13 at 4:47 pm

L2P @ 12

No, Tibet isn’t, but my original point wasn’t about European colonialism per se, it was about tribal conflicts in general. Since the origin of the Israeli/Palestininian conflict is a bit of both, the two tend to get stirred together, as Mao Cheng Ji seems to have done in his comment following mine. In my opinion, his …in one sense it isn’t… overlooks the much more important sense in which it is. Apologies if that wasn’t clear in what I wrote in response to him.

14

Jacques Distler 10.19.13 at 5:01 pm

Where else do you have Western powers helping Western immigrants control land taken from non-western peoples?

The majority of Israeli Jews are not “Western immigrants”, but Jews from Arabia and (mostly Moslem countries of) Asia (50.2%). Another 2.2% are from Ethiopia. “Western immigrants” are now (and have been for many decades) a minority (47.5%)

15

Jim Harrison 10.19.13 at 5:03 pm

Israel’s problem, which Grossman’s discomfort exemplifies, is not that it originated in violence. Very few nations originated in any other way, after all. States are like dynasties: a king is legitimate precisely because he can trace his line back in unbroken succession to an original act of usurpation. The state of Israel similarly insists that it stole Palestine from the Arabs fair and square in ’47 just as God almighty, i.e. military force, had stolen it from the Canaanites at the end of the Bronze Age. None of which would be particularly problematic except that the Israelis also want to claim to be democratic in some sense and base the existence of the state on the consent of its inhabitants and its international standing on the recognition of its rights by neighboring countries. Neither goal is going to be achieved so long as the country defines itself ethnically both because there are too many non-Jewish Israelis and because the surrounding nations are too much like Israel—they also define themselves religiously.

16

Bruce Wilder 10.19.13 at 5:38 pm

Liberal democracy and nationalist self-determination were accepted as an natural pairing for a century and a half after the French Revolution. It was a notion, which underlay many anti-colonial, anti-imperialism movements.

If you do not have a political solidarity based on some fiction of common ethnicity, religion, language, ideology, what basis is there for organizing a democratic state? What is such a state for? What is its politics about?

17

Bruce Webb 10.19.13 at 6:25 pm

Echoing Wilder

It is worth remembering that America as a ‘nation of immigrants’ is not put forth as a ‘stew pot’ full of an abundance of tasty ingrediants side by side by instead a ‘melting pot’ that will forge out of all those disparate foreign ores a new truly American alloy, unique and as we are told over and over ‘exceptional’.

It is only an apparnent tautology to say that what Americans have in common is Americanism. And it is hard to claim that it is any more, or any less real than that other forging two thousand years ago. That is even the Apostle Paul when put the the test was said to have claimed ‘Civis romanus sum’. Roman citizenship like American citizenship was for native and adoptee alike something over and above previous national or ethnic identity. And itself an identity and not an amalgam.

18

Hektor Bim 10.19.13 at 6:29 pm

Jews don’t have a home in America in general. It is extremely unlikely that America would welcome up to 6 million Israeli Jewish refugees if Israel collapsed. That’s part of Grossman’s point, as far as I can tell. It’s fine for a rich, privileged American Jew to lecture Grossman on the “right thing to do”, but it’s not like Blumenthal has the political power to offer all Israeli Jews a safe haven in America.

19

William Timberman 10.19.13 at 7:19 pm

My answer to the Bruces above would be not civis romanus sum, but homo sum. Easy to declare, of course, when nobody’s trying to take your stuff. Not an answer in the short run, in other words, but in the long run it’s probably the only answer.

20

Stephen 10.19.13 at 7:33 pm

Bruce Wilder @16: “If you do not have a political solidarity based on some fiction of common ethnicity, religion, language, ideology, what basis is there for organizing a democratic state?”

Hmmm. If you apply that argument to Muslim immigration into Europe, you might have a problem. I still hope a democratic solution may be possible.

Leave alone Belgium, Switzerland, Northern Ireland …

21

Hektor Bim 10.19.13 at 8:04 pm

Stephen,

Switzerland has a common ideology forged in opposition to the surrounding powers. Northern Ireland was expressively not conceived of as a true democracy, but as a herrenvolk state where the large minority would be denied political power. As the minority in NI transitions to becoming a plurality or a majority, the justification for Northern Ireland is diminishing.

Similarly, Belgium was conceived of as a buffer state between France, the German states and Protestant Holland, populated by Catholics. It was dominated by a rich Francophone elite. As that elite has faded and the majority Flemish have gained power, the attraction of Belgium has faded and the state may split.

Canada is sorting into Quebec and non-Quebec. New Brunswick is doing its best, but English is dominant. The large Francophone minorities in Ontario and Manitoba are fading as are the Anglophones in Quebec.

There are very few examples of stable binational states lacking a common ideology.

22

Stephen 10.19.13 at 8:30 pm

Hector

OK, Switzerland, common ideology trumps all else.

NI: last opinion poll I saw, 18% want a United Ireland. Not sure if that counts as common ideology. And the initial alternative, UI in the 1920s, equally “a herrenvolk state where the large minority would be denied political power”.

Belgium, been stable for 77% of the lifetime of the USA.

Hmmm.

Second thoughts: Hispanic immigration into USA. Common ethnicity, no. Common religion, hardly. Common language, no lo creo. Ideology, well …

But I still hope for a democratic outcome. Likewise for the much more problematic case of European Muslims, on which you did not comment.

23

PGD 10.19.13 at 8:34 pm

I think it’s Blumenthal (and perhaps Corey?) who are more provincial here regarding Jewish history. Or at least they completely miss Grossman’s point. Jews were certainly insiders in Weimar Germany, key members of governments (the drafter of the Weimar constitution was Jewish). That was certainly not the first time Jews had been insiders in European governments. There has still never been a Jewish American politician as prominent as e.g. Leon Blum in France or Disraeli in England. Being a minority group with major representation the corridors of power is nothing new for Jews and it is not at all the kind of ‘insidership’ Grossman is talking about. Jews are ‘insiders’ in Israel in a way that is completely unprecedented in Jewish history since the Roman destruction of Jerusalem two thousand years — they are the majority, dominant ethnic group in an explicitly Jewish state. The fear coming out of Jewish history is not that a Jew can’t rise to be chief of staff to the head of state, it’s that a Jewish minority in a non-Jewish country will always be vulnerable to massacre and exile no matter how high individual may Jews rise in ‘insider’ circles.

Now, I’m an American Jew and sympathetic with Blumenthal’s perspective. I feel that America is ‘different’ and also that Zionist actions in 1948 and since clearly violate liberal principles foundational in the U.S.. However, you have to take seriously the kind of tribal ethnic politics that have appeared over and over again in Jewish history, motivated the violence of 1948, and motivated Zionism. Certainly ethnic civil war seems like a very real possibility in any attempt to create a genuinely multiethnic Israel that incorporates the entire Palestinian population as full citizens. Indeed, just such a civil war — brutal, with regular massacres on both sides — occurred in 1948.

Also, as Corey and Blumenthal do point out, those who support Israel as a Jewish state do not deny this. See for example the recent New Yorker article on the 1948 massacre in Lydda , which ends with the author’s endorsement of Zionism despite his clear understanding of the circumstances of Israel’s founding.

24

Ed Shain 10.19.13 at 9:08 pm

Probably presumptious to write anything, since I’ve only read Corey Robin’s post, but I think he’s (i.e. Robin) captured something powerful we’re seeing flaring in the Red vs. Blue fierceness that’s overwhelming our own government.

It may be possibe to escape tribalism transiently, but it’s difficult over the longer run. Liberalism (and I use the term proudly), however, reflects indulgent principles precisely because it exalts ideas which are tacitly supported by raw power, but which will evaporate swiftly when put against existential threats (or even less potent vectors).

We’re seeing that here in spades. We’ve always taken a peaceful transfer of power for granted. That may be less and less certain as we go forward. As wealth concentrates in smaller and smaller numbers, and as it’s able to wield increasingly disproportionate power, the subsequent howls are being articulated tribally.

25

Kien 10.19.13 at 9:17 pm

Hi, Corey. Read a number of your posts with interest. My understanding based in a historical reading of the bible is that the Jewish identity was forged in exile in Babylon, Persia and even the word “Hebrew” has connotations of being an outsider. My guess is that the Hebrews were immigrants into Palestine from Egypt and Mesopotamia, and forged an identity around some stories about Abraham and Moses. It seems to me that being an “outsider” is a very common experience not unique to Jews. I myself am a “overseas Chinese” living in a Muslim country that gives privileges to the “sons of the soil”. My Chinese ancestors are Hakka, and referred to as the “guest people”. I am sure being an outsider is a common experience for many ethnic groups. Many such outsiders probably suffer atrocities comparable to those experienced by the Jews but the world does not notice let alone record these atrocities.

I wonder if the Jewish-Palestinian conflict is so intractable because for some reason the rest of the world pays so much attention to it. The Huttu-Tutsi conflict is very bad, but the world doesn’t notice or care unless there is mass killing or starvation.

The Jews in Israel should recall that they were once outsiders and be kind to the outsiders in their midst. That demonstration of kindness may be the long term solution to the Jewish experience as outsiders in other parts of the world.

26

christian_h 10.19.13 at 9:37 pm

I find this argument that Israel should be supported because Jewish people have historically faced exclusion in societies they lived in quite strange – or rather, fundamentally ahistorical. It posits a kind of “eternal antisemitism” that can never be overcome – only kept at bay by an armed settlement. This would be somewhat easier to take seriously if those espousing the argument did endorse separatist theories of liberation more generally – but somehow I can’t see Alterman support, say, separatist kinds of radical feminism (despite the undeniable fact that women have faced oppression since before there even was such a thing as Judaism, and still do practically everywhere) or for that matter black nationalism – again despite the reality of strong arguments that there is an African American nation within the US state, a nation that has faced racism, exclusion and repression throughout its existence.

27

Kaveh 10.19.13 at 9:39 pm

@7 Ronan(rf) “I do agree with Hektor though that the idea a multiethnic state is feasible is very naive on Blumenthal’s part

Ronan(rf) and others seem to assume that breakdown of Jewish political supremacy in Israel would inevitably result in Israeli Jews basically being run out on a rail. Why? Jewish Israelis would retain massive financial superiority, a great deal of institutional superiority, and they would still be if not a majority than close to a majority of the population. They seem to be highly attached to their homeland and relatively militarized (even militaristic). Wouldn’t a much more reasonable fear be that a single multi-ethnic democracy doesn’t guarantee Palestinians’ rights?

William Timberman @8 “ The Zionist complaint against the Palestinian Arabs… seems to be that Palestinians refuse to understand that they’re a conquered people. I would argue that there are enough Palestinians to make such a refusal a viable option

How exactly is a conquered people supposed to act? Like Tibetans and Uighurs? Like Bahraini Shi’is? East Germany? Maybe if the Palestinians were given a Marshall Plan along with a resolution to the refugee crisis they would act more like a conquered people?

Hektor Bim @21 What about Lebanon? The more peaceful, prosperous binational states are probably less good comparisons to a hypothetical binational Israel, because they are in geopolitical environments where the consequences of division are very minimal–especially Belgium, being in the EU. I don’t know much about Belgium, and I’m a little skeptical that Canada is splitting up in the near future, but even if it did, I don’t think anyone expects Lebanon to split up anytime soon. Or Iraq, for that matter.

You might object that Lebanon relatively recently suffered a civil war, but then so did Israel not that much earlier, and it continues to inflict severe hardship on occupied Palestinians. The current situation is not a civil war but it could certainly lead to ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and if Palestinians are really so well supported by Muslims and Arabs outside Palestine, as William @8 says, I don’t see why continued deterioration of the Palestinians’ situation is any less dangerous for Israel than giving Palestinians citizenship (this is key) as part of a final resolution of the occupation and refugee crisis.

28

Doctor Science 10.19.13 at 9:40 pm

Like Kien, I have argued that not all Jews who wander are lost — a post I made in response to Corey’s High Holy Days post here.

From my POV, Zionism is a *spiritual* failure: it’s helped create an Israel in which Jews can be selfishly irreligious or rigidly fundamentalist, but where we cannot practice Judaism as most of us in the Diaspora believe we should. Israel offers false security, politically but (even more important) spiritually.

29

Doctor Science 10.19.13 at 9:51 pm

I’ll also say that I am a-gape at those saying you can’t have a multiethnic state. Maybe it’s because I’m in NJ, which hasn’t had a religious majority since 1600 CE, but I look around me and ethnic & religious unity don’t seem to have much to do with political functioning.

And the only ideology you really need is “these are the rules we all agree to follow”. E Plebnista, y’know.

30

William Timberman 10.19.13 at 10:00 pm

kaveh @ 25

How exactly is a conquered people supposed to act?

How they act isn’t the relevant factor; what becomes of them as a political force is, and that is as much a matter of factors like their numbers, and their resistance to emigration and assimilation as it is to the power available to their would-be conquerors.

Israelis — some of them anyway — would no doubt like the Palestinian Arabs to go away, presumably in the same way that the Visigoths or the Aztecs went away. Calling them Jordanians and expelling them isn’t likely to do the trick; neither is treating them the way Jim Crow treated former African slaves.

31

Jerry Vinokurov 10.19.13 at 10:31 pm

selfishly irreligious

What exactly is this supposed to mean?

32

Kaveh 10.19.13 at 10:39 pm

@28 I see what you mean–Palestinians aren’t going to be wiped off the map, as the kids say, anytime soon. But I actually think this could happen, at least partially (i.e. to many of them), and current Israeli policy seems to be betting on it happening incrementally, but if it ever does it would involve massive suffering and loss of life for Palestinians, and possible retaliation against Israel. And either a one- or two-state solution would be so much better than this. That is why people see this as an urgent issue (that, and the effect of this ongoing conflict on US political culture, with strongly ‘pro-Israel’ folks actively or passively promoting islamophobia and, indirectly, militarism).

33

Ebenezer Scrooge 10.19.13 at 11:10 pm

I can’t understand why the Laborite’s complicity in the nakba has anything to do with the price of tea. Political misconduct is a shared social construct. I can see (albeit barely) a shared social construct among Israelis and Palestinians that dates Israel’s sins back to 1967. I can’t see such a construct that casts Israelis as sinners in 1948. It’s tantamount to: “Jew go home.” This may comport with some ideas of political morality. It does not comport with any shared anything in Palestine.

One analogy is America and its native peoples. If we can’t agree to forget the horrors of the 19th century, the only alternative is never-ending violence. If we can move the delicts up to the 20th century, there is some hope of reparations. Or Ireland. Or the Balkans. Selective amnesia is necessary. Not too much, or no wrong ever goes repaired. But not too little, or the hatred and violence never ends.

34

Ronan(rf) 10.19.13 at 11:12 pm

@25

Whoa
I cant get into it now, but whether its desirable isnt here nor there
I dont think it’s feasible

35

Ronan(rf) 10.19.13 at 11:41 pm

Stephen
What do Muslims have to do with anything (let alone whats going on in Belgium)
Why are Muslims so much more difficult to integrate than any other group?
Your comment has no sense behind it

36

christian_h 10.19.13 at 11:45 pm

Ebenezer (11:10); “selective amnesia is necessary”

How very convenient for the colonizers. Of course this amnesia only serves further colonization – whether of Native American lands in the US and Canada, or Palestinian lands in Palestine, or aboriginal lands in Australia. As in ‘look the trail of tears/ nakba/… is water under the bridge’ now let’s frack that gas on your reservation/ build those houses on the First Nations reserve/ develop that ski resort on Navajo and Hopi land/ farm the Jordan valley after ethnically cleansing it.

37

Ronan(rf) 10.19.13 at 11:52 pm

Doctor Science
You can have a multiethnic state, afaics, in a world willing to enforce that
Where the major powers are willing/able (by use of diplomatic and military power) to push, and regulate, that resolution
But it’s not going to happen.
In Israel, in Palestine, at the UN, in Washington..afaics, anywhere
Not in the forseeable future

This is what happens when you raise an everyday ethnic conflict to the level of existential ideologial struggle.
There is no resolution (although there, probably, rarely is)
)

38

Ronan(rf) 10.19.13 at 11:57 pm

Can I just add, for no reason in particular, that I really enjoy christian H’s comments
And dont want that to be seen as a hostile response (in any way)

39

Hektor Bim 10.20.13 at 12:17 am

New Jersey is a subnational unit and is dominated by English I speaking white Americans who share a common national conception. I fail to see how this comports with a binational state with two roughly equal groups who do not agree on religion, language, national conception, and whose historical understanding is diametrically opposed.

Many, though not all of those who propose the one state anti-Zionist position expect Jews to be a minority and count on political power devolving to an Arab majority. As seen on this thread, they consider the area to be “naturally” Arab and consider the Jewish presence to be European colonization. Let’s not kid ourselves on this.

Christian H,
You do realize that the Arabs came to the area as colonizers and imperialists who subjugated the native population? It’s not like the Arabic language sprang from the earth in Ramala.

40

Ronan(rf) 10.20.13 at 12:25 am

I cant think of a logical reason for a Jewish state in Palestine, (none), except that it’s there.
There is no logical excuse for the Jrewish appropriation of Palestinian land, except that it happened
Here we are

41

christian_h 10.20.13 at 12:34 am

Uhm no Hektor, I do not realize any such thing – because it isn’t true. The Arab tribes who conquered the Middle East, much of India and parts of Europe were no more imperialists in the modern sense than the Alexander the Great, and certainly not colonial settlers. They did not drive out the indigenous population, nor did they (as the Europeans in the Americas) decimate it – they merely installed a new class of feudal rulers and religious institutions on top of existing society. Words have meaning, whatever Humpty Dumpty or apologists for empire claim.

I am by the way surprised that South Africa has not been mentioned. The impossibility of reconciliation, proved by indigenous terror (e.g. against Boer farmers) as a reason for continued apartheid is an argument I well remember from the 80ies (and I was a kid, I imagine those active in the solidarity movement then could present any number of examples). You would think the Israeli elite would take their cue and manage a transition by co-opting small indigenous elites while preserving most of the structural and economic concentration of power, as in post-apartheid South Africa.

42

godoggo 10.20.13 at 1:36 am

Yeah, I remember how all you’d ever hear about the ANC was necktying. To support them seemed really radical.

43

christian_h 10.20.13 at 1:40 am

Yeah. My 8th grade protestant “religion” teacher (no separation of church and state in Germany) liked to bring it up. In between telling us how many nukes and divisions the Soviets had. Turned me into a life-long radical leftist…

44

LFC 10.20.13 at 1:45 am

Re multiethnic states: Of the roughly 200 member states of the UN today, most are multiethnic; relatively few are single-ethnicity states (Japan basically is, and there are some others, but they are a minority of the 200). The fact that most states are multiethnic in itself has no particular bearing on the tangled circumstances of the I-P conflict, however. The 2-state option is now the one most clearly ‘on the table’, insofar as anything is.

Re Bruce Webb @17: the ideal of the ‘melting pot’ is coming under some strain these days, I think it’s fair to say, though the U.S.’s identity as a ‘country of immigrants’ will probably help it handle the coming transition to a country in which European-descended whites are no longer the majority of the pop.

45

LFC 10.20.13 at 1:52 am

godoggo:
I think the press (in the U.S., at any rate) referred to it as ‘necklacing’ — not that it matters.

46

godoggo 10.20.13 at 2:00 am

It’s been a while.

47

Doctor Science 10.20.13 at 2:43 am

Hektor @37:

The point I was trying to make is that all they need to agree on is a constitution. As LFC points out, *most* states are multi-ethnic.

Ronon(rf) @ 35:
Most states are multi-ethnic, outside pressure is not required to keep them together.

Historically, states ruled by Mammon (trade or finance) have tended to have a comparatively good record for multi-ethnic cooperation. Since Mammon is default ruler of the world today, it’s not surprising that multi-ethnic states can be cohesive without the need for outside pressure.

I could argue that the I/P problem is due to religion interfering with Mammon’s natural tendency to dissolve ethnic differences. The religious loading on Jerusalem and its surroundings is, alas, so high (and comes from so many directions) that it may well be that a secular state *can’t* endure there, too many people don’t want one. But that has nothing to do with tolerance for multi-ethnic states in general.

48

Doctor Science 10.20.13 at 2:55 am

Jerry @27:

By “selfishly irreligious” I mean that secular Israeli Jews haven’t made a commitment to any moral political principles other than “the Jews are for the Jews”. There are quite a few American Jews who are atheists but still moderately observant, because being Jewish is less about who you are or what you believe than what you *do*. And what we try to do is pursue justice.

49

Ronan(rf) 10.20.13 at 3:07 am

Why bother going into it, if there won’t be a reply, but B’thal isnt brave and Israel isnt a war zone
So meh to this useless book

50

Ronan(rf) 10.20.13 at 3:24 am

Doctor Science

But LFC also said

“the fact that most states are multiethnic in itself has no particular bearing on the tangled circumstances of the I-P conflict, however. ”

And I generally agree with LFC

Aside from that, I think if people want to use these venues to promote their mates books then they should at least defend them – beyond a meaningless review (a ‘shrewd and sophisticated mode of intelligence’ or with ‘laser precision’ or ‘ Max remains unflappable’)
But there’s no chance of that, really

51

Ronan(rf) 10.20.13 at 3:27 am

Or is this an extended blurb?

52

MPAVictoria 10.20.13 at 4:00 am

Christian-h:
Was what the British did in India imperialism or colonialism? If so your definition doesn’t seem to work….

53

Nine 10.20.13 at 4:01 am

christian_h@39 – “The Arab tribes who conquered the Middle East, much of India and parts of Europe were no more imperialists in the modern sense than the Alexander the Great, and certainly not colonial settlers.”

By this highly original definition of imperialism and colonialism, neither were the British or the French in most of their empire.

54

Zora 10.20.13 at 4:06 am

I should probably write the book first but … how about throwing out nationalism completely? How about a world of watersheds as territorial units, crosscut by bunds (tribes) defined however people want to define and organize them? By DNA, religion, language, favorite baseball team. Like the multi-ethnic empires of old, in which various groups spread over the whole empire. Those empires had dominant ethnicities and religions, but territorial units don’t have to be ruled that way. They could be completely secular.

That is, rather than the Jews taking up nationalism to protect themselves in a fortress territorial state, how about we give ALL give up on nationalism and take up rootless cosmopolitanism? Like Jews, Parsis, overseas Chinese, etc. Impossible to do before we had present day transport and communication, but possible NOW.

I’ve been thinking about this for years, but procrastinating on writing it down. I’ve discovered that when I talk to people about this, a few people see the point and most are infuriated. Challenging nationalism is like dissing motherhood.

55

Nine 10.20.13 at 4:10 am

Whoops, crossed wires with MPAVictoria there, but yeah it sounds like christian_h is trying to define away all problems with his theory which, i imagine, wants to cast Jews as the original sinners in the conflict. The notion that Alexander was not an empire builder would probably be surprising to the great man.

56

Donald Johnson 10.20.13 at 4:21 am

“You do realize that the Arabs came to the area as colonizers and imperialists who subjugated the native population?”

Does anyone seriously think that whatever human rights violations occurred in the seventh century somehow justifies treating their alleged descendants the same way 1300 years later? I say “alleged descendants”, because modern day Palestinians are most likely descended from many groups, including, perhaps, Jews who at some point converted to Islam or Christianity.

57

Ronan(rf) 10.20.13 at 4:25 am

Yeah, I agree with Donald
Hektor’s was just bog standard Zionist mumfunkinism

58

Zora 10.20.13 at 4:28 am

59

Zora 10.20.13 at 5:30 am

I should perhaps add that the above link goes to an extremely short film by Nina Paley, who made the awesome Sita Sings the Blues.

60

Suzanne 10.20.13 at 5:36 am

@32: “Palestinians aren’t going to be wiped off the map, as the kids say, anytime soon. But I actually think this could happen, at least partially (i.e. to many of them), and current Israeli policy seems to be betting on it happening incrementally,”

Indeed:

http://www.juancole.com/2012/10/creepy-israeli-planning-for-palestinian-food-insecurity-in-gaza-revealed.html

“In any case, there are other ways to starve out the people of Gaza than bluntly preventing food from coming in. Nobel-prize-winning economist Amartya Sen showed that the real cause of famines is not lack of food but that the price of the food rises above the ability of people to pay for it. By keeping Gaza on the edge of economic collapse, the Likud government has continued the food blockade by other means.”

61

christian_h 10.20.13 at 6:31 am

Nine & MPAVictoria: I did not of course give any definition of imperialism at all. I merely pointed out that while the word “empire” may be ancient, imperialism is a modern phenomenon and terminology. I also discussed (settler) colonialism, which is a modern phenomenon as well and involves ethnic cleansing and genocide. The attempt to classify history as basically static (Alexander the Great, the Arab conquest, the Inka and Atzek Empires, the British Empire and its descendants… all the same – so who’s to judge?) is really a rather tiresome affectation of cynicism designed to defend the actions of the powerful of today. Merely a different variant of Ebenezer’s “history happens, let’s move on already” argument, also based in deep cynicism.

62

Asteele 10.20.13 at 6:35 am

@christian h. When they say its necessary, they mean necessary for them to get what they want.

63

Mao Cheng Ji 10.20.13 at 6:54 am

@14 “The majority of Israeli Jews are not “Western immigrants”, but Jews from Arabia”

I see this puzzling comment almost every time in these threads.

So, does it mean that you agree with the late Helen Thomas that the Europeans and Americans need to get the fuck out of there, back to their European and American motherlands? And let the Arabs of Muslim, Christian, and Judaic persuasions who live there figure it out for themselves? Is that the point you’re making? I hope so.

64

Jacques Distler 10.20.13 at 7:25 am

@14 “The majority of Israeli Jews are not “Western immigrants”, but Jews from Arabia”
I see this puzzling comment almost every time in these threads.
So, does it mean that you agree with the late Helen Thomas that the Europeans and Americans need to get the fuck out of there, back to their European and American motherlands? And let the Arabs of Muslim, Christian, and Judaic persuasions who live there figure it out for themselves? Is that the point you’re making? I hope so.

No. Not in the slightest.

Since you snipped the context of the comment, let me remind you that I was responding to:

Where else do you have Western powers helping Western immigrants control land taken from non-western peoples?

Even if we, for the sake of argument, accept the premise that Israel is an essentially colonialist enterprise, it is simply incorrect to assert that it is a Western colonialist enterprise.

That was the point I was making.

The same data raises an obvious point about the “proposal” to replace Israel with a multi-ethnic state with an Palestinian-Arab majority. The plurality of Israeli Jews, who (or, at least, whose parents) have experience living as a Jewish minority in an Arab-majority country, might have something relevant to say about that idea, no?

65

Mao Cheng Ji 10.20.13 at 8:02 am

“it is simply incorrect to assert that it is a Western colonialist enterprise”

Why is it incorrect? I don’t get it. The fact that the European settler-colonizers imported some cheap labor/cannon fodder from the neighborhood, and gave them a relatively privileged status is neither unusual nor significant, IMO. And the numbers, those percentage points you cited, they seem utterly irrelevant, and meaningless, for several reasons.

“The same data raises an obvious point…”

I don’t think it raises any points at all. In the post-WWII world, the indigenous populations have the right to self-determination; and that’s the only point there is.

66

Eli Rabett 10.20.13 at 11:31 am

If you want an historical analogy think Yugoslavia and the successor states. Ethnic cleansing on a grand scale.

67

Hektor Bim 10.20.13 at 12:57 pm

Who said anything about justifying anything? The response was just to clarify that claims based on historical claims aren’t somehow ironclad. No people has an immaculate history and they are all stuck with each other there now. They are all indigenous now. It is too late to unmix the stew.

That’s also why Lebanon isn’t a particularly good example of a multiethnic democracy. It has ridiculously gerrymandered districts, restricts positions to specific religions, refuses to grant citizenship to large numbers of people who in some cases are 3rd generation Lebanese (Palestinians). It isn’t a full democracy. This isn’t even getting into the prevalence of militias that tend to kill each other and that the state is powerless to stop. The influx of massive numbers of Sunni Syrian refugees is going to make things a lot worse. I don’t think it is a good model.

68

Ronan(rf) 10.20.13 at 1:04 pm

Doctor Science @47

Sorry for the short response above, was using a kindle (which atre difficult to write on)
I just dont see where the one state solution is going to come from. The Israelis dont want it, the major powers arent going to force it on them and any calls for it from the Palestinian side seem to be of the ‘we’ll wait it out and eventually be the majority’ variety
So there’s no real good faith involved, afaics
I agree that the Israeli’s arent going to cede anything approaching a feasible Palestinian state, so perhaps in the long run its inevitable (as the US/Israel relationship frays, as the region becomes less geopolitically important, as the Jewish part of being an Israeli becomes less pronounced) But, if you’re lucky, you end up with something comparable to in the Balkans or Northern Ireland, always unstable demanding constant attention etc
I couldnt see it as a solution, personally

69

chris 10.20.13 at 1:51 pm

Does anyone seriously think that whatever human rights violations occurred in the seventh century somehow justifies treating their alleged descendants the same way 1300 years later?

Hm, maybe the people who base their own claim to the same land on the fact that their alleged ancestors conquered it thousands of years ago and ruled until they were driven out by some other set of conquerors?

Accepting the jus soli for all members of both sides born since 1948 would immediately force you into accepting a multiethnic state; so ISTM that on some level the only alternative is squabbling over whose ancestors did what to whom, or talking past one another about what God wills (a question that can never be resolved by argument).

If you don’t accept indigenousness as a property of *individual* human beings then you can’t hope to ever get past tribal conflicts. The jus soli is the foundation of a multiethnic state — it allows a national identity to be renewed in each generation and allows the people to define the nation.

Moreover, I think there is an implicit point somewhere linking the trouble Grossman has with this proposition (that a multi-ethnic democracy like America could be a true home for the Jewish people) and the trouble that Grossman has with thinking that a post-Zionist state could serve as such a home.

I think this is the key point. If you don’t believe that a multiethnic state can really exist and respect the rights of minorities, then the only possibilities are to be the oppressors or the oppressed; in that case it is clearly better for the Jews if the Jews have the upper hand in at least one state, and Israel is that state.

Indeed, this viewpoint, mutatis mutandis, is not without adherents in the US as well; but we generally don’t consider such ethnic supremacy very respectable. Blumenthal’s attitude just goes to show how American he really is.

America isn’t a home for the Jewish people. It’s a home for the American people. But those sets need not be disjoint. Blumenthal knows this because he is living proof.

70

Mao Cheng Ji 10.20.13 at 2:02 pm

A society where people don’t look exactly the same, don’t speak exactly the same dialect, or don’t say exactly the same prayer is a society that demagogues will try to split, at one point or another.

That else is new?

Since there are currently no societies on this planet made of identical clones of the same individual, this applies to all of them.

The solution is not to atomize, but to confront the demagogues.

71

Kaveh 10.20.13 at 2:31 pm

Jacques @64 & Hektor @39 “The plurality of Israeli Jews, who (or, at least, whose parents) have experience living as a Jewish minority in an Arab-majority country, might have something relevant to say about that idea, no?”

You’re not seriously comparing being part of a 45% “minority” in a state where the group has a history of political and economic dominance to being part of a 5% (or whatever) minority in an Arab-majority country where they were historically excluded from the ruling class, are you? What is really utopian here is this assumption that the 55% or whatever of non-Jewish Israelis are going to come together in perfect harmony–Muslims, Christians, Druze, whether very religious or very securalist–to oppose the 45% of the population that is Jewish. If only the Egyptians, Syrians, and Iraqis could learn their secret… (hell, if only Palestinians could learn their secret…)

“… and any calls for [one state] from the Palestinian side seem to be of the ‘we’ll wait it out and eventually be the majority’ variety”

Who says this? I know I’ve heard Palestinians use this as a threat–i.e. that if Israel keeps taking over Palestinian land, unless it kills or ethnically cleanses a lot of Palestinians, it’s soon going to be a Jewish state ruling over a non-Jewish majority–but that is not a call for a single state.

72

Cranky Observer 10.20.13 at 2:48 pm

= = = The counter is that regardless of the existence of Israel, that Jews have a home in America, where they can be ‘insiders’ in all the same ways (that matter). = = =

I can’t see any long-term outcome of the I-P situation that doesn’t end in large scale tragedy.

I haven’t worked in the New England states for long enough periods for people to drop their guards and let slip their somewhat inner thoughts, so perhaps in that region the residents are truly building respectful multi-ethnic/multi-racial societies where everyone just gets along. Certainly I’ve seen evidence of that in NYC and some areas of Los Angeles (along with evidence of the opposite, but at least enough to say it is possible) [1].

However I have to report that that is not the case in the Midwest. I’ve heard casual expressions of anti-Semitism and outright hatred from people who as far as I can tell don’t live near, work with, or interact with any significant number of Jews and who may not have met a Jewish person in their entire lives. The ugly sentiments of Henry Ford and Father Coughlin are still very much alive out here in flyover country, and if I were subject to them across a wide swath of a nation I’d be very very skeptical that I could take refuge in that nation if worse came to worst.

And IMHO that complicates things quite a bit.

Cranky

[1] In response to Mao Cheng Ji’s 2:02 PM I’ll refer back to what we’ve discussed here before: that was one of the great achievements of the universal public school system. Once the 17-year-olds start dating each other (in direct defiance of dad and grandma’s wishes) and the 18 y.o.s get married (with or without benefit of the shotgun) those differences disappear fairly quickly. Of course we are now engaged in destroying our public school systems, so…

73

christian_h 10.20.13 at 3:43 pm

Hektor (67.): in case this “claims” business is somehow aimed at some comment of mine, where do I speak of anyone having a claim on anything? That, to me, is not the question. Zionism aims to move the struggle onto the terrain of territorial claims, because the language of territorial claims is what the great powers used when Zionism came into existence. The Palestinian liberation movement on the other hand is a matter of justice – for individual Palestinians (both refugees and those currently living under the ethnic regime that is Israel – you might say the claims that matter here are those of the family from Jaffa to their home seized under the absentee property law, not some mythical claims of any nation to the soil), and for the collective that is the Palestinian nation.

When I insist the Israeli state is recognized as a colonial settler state, this is partly a matter of justice (which is not possible if the truth is either denied or made subject to Ebenezer’s “selective amnesia” – the history of colonization is always very present to the colonized), but more importantly the concept has explanatory power as to the ongoing project of colonizing Palestinian lands as well as to the structure of Israeli society, economics and politics. It is not a demand that those in Palestine who are Jewish should leave.

(Similar thoughts apply to the American state, for example – this is not advocating sending the white man home to where we belong, but illuminating the continuity of ongoing racism and colonization of Native Americans in the US.)

74

Jacques Distler 10.20.13 at 3:54 pm

You’re not seriously comparing being part of a 45% “minority” in a state where the group has a history of political and economic dominance to being part of a 5% (or whatever) minority in an Arab-majority country where they were historically excluded from the ruling class, are you?

It really doesn’t matter what I think, now does it? It’s not my life on the line.

The Moslem Brotherhood won a plurality in the first free election in Egypt; their local offshoot, Hamas would (judging by the opinion polls) win a plurality in the first free election in a “unified” IsraelPalestine. Is there any reason not to take them at their word, as to their program going forward?

I ask this, fully cognizant that the status-quo bears more than a passing resemblance to apartheid South Africa. Indeed, the latter case was raised (@41) as an example of the peaceful transition to a democratic multi-ethnic state. If one wants to make that argument, one has to grapple with the example of Rhodesia, which made the same transition, at about the same time, and ended up rather differently. The reason, AFAICT, is that South Africa had a Nelson Mandela, and Zimbabwe didn’t.

So who’s the Palestinian Nelson Mandela?

75

Ronan(rf) 10.20.13 at 4:01 pm

What is it you think Hamas would do, if given the opportunity?

76

SoU 10.20.13 at 4:12 pm

@ 74:

” Is there any reason not to take them at their word, as to their program going forward?”
All of the same reasons why one shouldn’t take a political party/group at their word in general apply here. Also, the fact that “their word” is not a singular, definite thing, but instead an amalgam of different voices.

“So who’s the Palestinian Nelson Mandela?”
All probable candidates are currently in Israeli jail cells, from what I can tell. Does it really surprise you that potential leaders of a Palestinian resistance have been detained and silenced by the Israeli government, or are you so blinkered that you have trouble believing that a Mandela – type could come out of Palestine?

77

Ronan(rf) 10.20.13 at 4:15 pm

I’m not sure what Jacques was trying to get at with that Mandela comment

But there’s a well known long history of non violence in the Palestinian National liberation movement

http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/3078/new-texts-out-now_wendy-pearlman-violence-nonviole

Perhaps he meant Mandela single handedly ended apartheid?

78

adam.smith 10.20.13 at 4:26 pm

@75 – I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect Jews to treat stuff like this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamas#Antisemitism_and_anti-Zionism
as mere hyperbolic rhetoric less than 70 years after the Holocaust. I don’t really think this necessarily implies any particular policy, but I do think that discounting Jewish existential concerns is not really legitimate (and as a German, I find it particularly rich when other Germans like christian_h think it’s their job to explain to the survivors of the Holocaust that no one is out to get them).

79

Hektor Bim 10.20.13 at 4:30 pm

Christian H,

It’s interesting that you bring up property rights and compensation claims. After all, the 10 million Eastern European Germans forced out at the end of World War 2 got nothing and the Benes decrees are still in legal force through a loophole that ignores EU human rights law. Is the Czech Republic or Kaliningrad a colonialist settler state to you? How about western Poland?

In general, refugees don’t get anything and don’t get to go home unless their side wins the war.

80

Kaveh 10.20.13 at 4:32 pm

@74 “The Moslem Brotherhood won a plurality in the first free election in Egypt; their local offshoot, Hamas would (judging by the opinion polls) win a plurality in the first free election in a “unified” IsraelPalestine. Is there any reason not to take them at their word, as to their program going forward?”

I’d like to hear a little more about how you see this scenario playing out. Hamas/the MB won majorities among Sunni Arabs in two elections.[1] This was in a situation where people were mainly voting against extremely unpopular, corrupt and totally coopted incumbents, and in both cases their popularity crashed (especially in Egypt, where the MB’s victory was rather narrow in the first place) right after they took office. What polls are you talking about that would have Hamas winning a plurality of votes in an election in a unified Israel-Palestine? Why should a unified Israel-Palestine even have a first-past-the-post system? (that seems like a horrible idea–ranked preferences would make a lot more sense here)

“It really doesn’t matter what I think, now does it? It’s not my life on the line.”

Aren’t people’s lives “on the line,” or in fact actually being lost, under the status quo? This question of whether Blumenthal’s criticisms of Grossman are appropriate because of who lives in Israel and who doesn’t frames the whole discussion around Israeli Jewish lives, as if they are the only ones that are threatened. Should Grossman be any more trusted to care about Palestinian lives than Blumenthal about Israeli lives?

81

christian_h 10.20.13 at 4:44 pm

Hektor (79.); And here we go. The end result of all the liberal mumbling about human rights, the truth behind the hand wringing about two states – telling people they have no rights because they “lost the war”. That, to be clear, is the logic of fascism. It’s straight out of Carl Schmidt. The fact that in defense of Israel this logic is applied by otherwise reasonable people who would never ever consider it a feasible argument anywhere else is in itself reason enough to “single Israel out” (i.e., emphasize Palestinian liberation as a [note: not “the”, of course – “a”] central task in the face of all the other injustices in the world).

You know Hektor, the shoe might end up on the other foot at some point. And then I’ll still defend the rights of the defeated, while you will presumably just have discovered they have some, after all.

82

Ronan(rf) 10.20.13 at 4:46 pm

@78

I don’t know, I’ve generally found the average Israeli to be more concerned with the cost of living than the existential threat posed by Hamas
The Hamas charter seems to primarily concern only a dwindling band of ideologues (on both sides)

83

Scott P. 10.20.13 at 4:48 pm

My answer to the Bruces above would be not civis romanus sum, but homo sum.

Nec metas rerum nec tempora pono, imperium sine fine dedi.

84

SoU 10.20.13 at 5:01 pm

@ 81:

“…logic is applied by otherwise reasonable people who would never ever consider it a feasible argument anywhere else…”

just wanted to zero in on this, b/c it is a crucial tell and is rampant in these discussions. the whole ‘its just the way the world works, oh its shit but we can’t change it’ is such a tired formulation that i would imagine all thinking people today use it as a proxy for locating mendacity and/or rationalization. perhaps it once had some traction, in the midst of the 20th century when the response to the accompanying list of historical atrocities was mostly grim acknowledgement, but these days we all see how the logic is complicit in the atrocities that are supposed to serve as its proof.

85

William Timberman 10.20.13 at 5:31 pm

Scott P. @ 83

Which is no doubt why not only the forum Romanum, but the temples of Jupiter himself, rex deorum, though he might once have been, have succumbed to Shelley’s lone and level sands.

86

Nine 10.20.13 at 6:02 pm

christian_h@61 – “the attempt to classify history as basically static (Alexander the Great, the Arab conquest, the Inka and Atzek Empires, the British Empire and its descendants… all the same – so who’s to judge?) is really a rather tiresome affectation of blah blah blah”

Way more tiresome are attempts to not just completely redefine words but to reread history itself so as to arrive at results that help ones momentary political hobby. Sorry, but imperialism and colonialism remain what they always were even if it inconveniences your current argument.
BTW, is the story about arab imperialism not “really” being imperialism a meme on the anti-israeli left ? I once saw the brit leftist Tariq Ali make a similar argument about how the moors had merely displaced already rotten ancien regimes and so on – he didn’t go so far as to claim that they were greeted by cheering iraqis cheering natives.

87

Kaveh 10.20.13 at 6:20 pm

@86 To hopefully nip this in the bud, no I don’t think anybody here doubts that the Arabs built an empire in the 600s & 700s, the salient point here is that they did not replace the native inhabitants the way Europeans replaced North Americans in the 1700s & 1800s, and that -much-most of the population of Palestine was converted Jews, Christians, and others. So, one might ask, did Jews forfeit their descendants’ right to live there when they converted to Christianity or Islam?

I would agree that making too much of the differences between pre-modern and modern empire, beyond this, is a distraction, so let’s not make straw men…

88

Donald Johnson 10.20.13 at 6:22 pm

“Sorry, but imperialism and colonialism remain what they always were even if it inconveniences your current argument.”

What is your argument? It seems to be that the anti-Zionist left “is trying to define away all problems with his theory which, i imagine, wants to cast Jews as the original sinners in the conflict. The notion that Alexander was not an empire builder would probably be surprising to the great man.”

Well, for my part I am quite willing to concede that Alexander the Great was an imperialist, and will let scholars debate the details of how his self-image differed from that of the British in the 19th century. I really don’t think it matters in this context. I also don’t think there is anything very unusual in what the Zionists did–they saw some land already owned by other people and stole it. It has a familiar ring to those of us who are Americans.

What I’m wondering is where you are going with this. So again, is the idea that what the Israelis did in 1948 justifiable because some of the ancestors of the Palestinians might have done something terrible in 700? Or is the whole point about the terrible things done thousands of years ago simply a way of distracting attention from more recent events? That would make sense, in a way. Run out the clock. It won’t be too many decades before the last survivors of the Nakba are dead–in about another century arguments about it will seem as relevant to most people as an argument concerning the crimes of Alexander the Great.

89

Nine 10.20.13 at 6:38 pm

Kaveh And Donald Johnson – I’m not going anywhere with the argument at least as regards the I-P conflict, in fact, I haven’t said one single thing about the I- palestinian conflict.

Although –
” the salient point here is that they did not replace the native inhabitants the way Europeans” etc

I confess to being am sorely tempted to keep the argument going …

90

Hektor Bim 10.20.13 at 7:04 pm

Christian H,

Why would people have no rights in the two state solution? Do the descendants of German refugees from the end of World War 2 have no rights in contemporary Germany? A state of Palestine would presumably grant citizenship to refugees and their descendants and Israel might even pay restitution.

Pure justice in the Israel/Palestine issue is impossible, since both groups are descendents of stateless peoples with no homeland to return too. There is no benefit in my mind expelling poor Israelis from a house in Israel abd making them homeless so that a poor Palestinian living in a refugee camp in Lebanon can come back to a house his grandfather owned but he has never seen. We need fewer refugees, not trading old ones for new ones.

With a two state solution, everybody gets something and people can get on with their lives. Absent a horrific war and more defeated people for you to support, I don’t see how you compel a 1 state solution on people who don’t want it.

91

Hektor Bim 10.20.13 at 7:09 pm

Christian,

It is not only the defeated who have human rights. Everyone does. How would you implement a strict right of return for example? In the European context, the Germans had to sign it away for there to be normal relations between Germany and Poland.

I’d still like to know how you view the Czech Republic and Kaliningrad.

92

Kaveh 10.20.13 at 7:10 pm

@90 The whole point of most 1-state arguments now is that so many Israeli settlers are in Palestinian land that there is not enough (and not contiguous enough) land to make a viable state. Do you kick out hundreds of thousands of settlers? So a two-state solution would mean lots of Jewish refugees, or just people sent back to Israel, whereas a 1-state solution would not require people to move.

93

Hektor Bim 10.20.13 at 7:16 pm

Kaveh,

How do you know there wasn’t a mass movement of people into Palestine after the Arab conquest, or that conversions weren’t forced? My understanding is that historical records of the time are pretty lousy.

94

Hektor Bim 10.20.13 at 7:19 pm

Kaveh,

There is a simple solution to that. If the settlers are willing to live in a future Palestine they can stay and if they aren’t they can move. Tekoa’s settlers are planning to stay for example. Why should Israel be the only state with an ethnic minority?

95

adam.smith 10.20.13 at 7:31 pm

I don’t know, I’ve generally found the average Israeli to be more concerned with the cost of living than the existential threat posed by Hamas

Probably right, but that wasn’t the case, say, 20 years ago. It’s the result of the relative sense of security in Israel proper that’s probably due in large part to the fence and repressive Israeli policies in the occupied territories. As I allude to above, I don’t have strong policy views on I-P, I just don’t know enough, but that the status quo in the occupied territories is an enormous human rights violation and needs to end (definitely on moral grounds, likely also on policy grounds) seems pretty clear.

96

Kaveh 10.20.13 at 7:36 pm

@93 They’re not that lousy, what is known for certain is that most conversion to Islam was not forced, and took place gradually over the course of 4+ centuries after the conquests, although there were certainly material incentives to convert (so in a sense there was coercion). (What would it change though, for present purposes, if some conversion had been forced?) As for massive migration into the territories, I’m not aware of evidence for that, it’s the kind of thing that might be hard to measure, but you would at least see some evidence of it in historical writing (e.g. empires often settle loyal subjects in newly-conquered territory, this tends to be recorded in histories), and I would be amazed if there were such evidence and it hadn’t become part of the Israeli national myth by now (I don’t have time to look this up ATM…) Certainly some Arabs settled in Palestine, but I’d be really, really amazed if they displaced most of the existing population, and there was little to no conversion, and yet there was no evidence for that.

@94 Personally I don’t have a strong opinion re one state vs two states (or any personal stake in the matter). The problem is that if so much of Palestine is settled by Israeli Jews, then letting Palestinians have a viable (contiguous) state may mean denying these settlers or (more problematic) their descendants a right to self-determination (they will want to be part of Israel). This may seem unproblematic for settlements closer to the River Jordan, but for all of those right outside Jerusalem it might be a big problem. Otherwise, I think you’re right, just give people the choice and ideally use the 1967 boundary or something close as the border… this may be hard to implement though.

97

lurker 10.20.13 at 7:42 pm

@93 (Hektor Bim)
Initially, the there was no mass migration. The Arabs were just garrison troops living well apart from the natives. And conquered populations had to pay the jizya tax, they were not allowed to escape that by just converting.

98

Ebenezer Scrooge 10.20.13 at 7:52 pm

Christian @ 36:
I don’t know where your ancestors came from, but I assume you are devoting your entire life to reparation to whomever they murdered, raped, enslaved, or dispossessed. You’re not? Selective amnesia, baby!

99

Collin Street 10.20.13 at 9:26 pm

may mean denying these settlers or (more problematic) their descendants a right to self-determination

They don’t have a meaningful right to self-determination.

If they’re military then they’ve been posted to the west bank and they can be posted back to tel aviv, and if they’re civilian then they’re criminals and they can live whereever they’re told. This is on account of very specific details of the legal framework and the facts-on-the-ground-situation, but in general the israelis’ penchant for equivocation means that legally they get the worst of all possible worlds.

100

MPAVictoria 10.20.13 at 9:46 pm

“and as a German, I find it particularly rich when other Germans like christian_h think it’s their job to explain to the survivors of the Holocaust that no one is out to get them).”

Glad someone else said this so I didn’t have to.

101

ezra abrams 10.20.13 at 9:47 pm

c 1965
Israeli consulate in Boston
My parents are inquiring about emigrating to Israel; the consular officer explains the right of return – when they step foot on Israeli soil, they become citizens.
My dad says, aren’t you worried about nonjews emigrating and claiming to be jews to gain citizen ship ?
The consular official just looks at my parents.
who stop and think: who would want to be a jew.

102

christian_h 10.20.13 at 10:07 pm

Awesome level of argument from adam.smith and MPAVictoria right there. I don’t usually argue “as a German”. I argue as me. In fact arguing “as a German” is a German habit I do not miss at all.

103

adam.smith 10.20.13 at 10:16 pm

so christian_h let me get this straight: For other people history matters, they aren’t allowed to have “selective amnesia” or argue in an “ahistorial” way. But you are your own man. You don’t have a history. You can conveniently ignore that our grandparents (or at least their generation) murdered or were complicit in the murder of large parts of European Jewry – with many of the survivors then deciding they may want to have a country of their own after all. OK. Glad that’s sorted out.

104

Ronan(rf) 10.20.13 at 10:21 pm

Yeah I’m surprised that adam smith would resort to meaningles rhetoric like:

“and as a German, I find it particularly rich when other Germans like christian_h think it’s their job to explain to the survivors of the Holocaust that no one is out to get them).”

not only because his comments are generally thoughtful and dispassionate, but because it makes no god damn sense. Leave alone that there’s enough variety of opinion among survivors of the Holocaust about what threats Israel faces, we’re talking about a state, with a political system and national security institutions and how they judge/respond to threats (which can be measured and quantified in any number of ways)

For one example look at Zeez Maoz’s (an Israeli Jew) ‘Defending the Holy Land’ for an insight into how dysfunctional Israeli national security policy making institutions can be
There are no existential military threats to Israel. This isn’t something that can be dreamed and allowed to pass as fact. Every state has the right to respond to threats, and every state should be judged for how they do it

105

adam.smith 10.20.13 at 10:25 pm

btw. the idea that folks from other European countries and their allies should maybe pause a bit before lecturing Holocaust survivors about feeling threatened certainly applies to Germans above all (I don’t think there would be any harm done if Germans just refrained from lecturing Israelis for a couple more generations), but also to the other European countries who either collaborated in the Holocaust or refused to shelter Jewish fugitives as well as to the US and the UK who mostly ignored the pleas of Jews to do something about the ongoing genocide (and weren’t all that excited about Jewish fugitives, either. That doesn’t mean everyone should just shut up about I-P, but if you’re making historical arguments, starting history in 1948 is just awfully convenient, isn’t it?

106

christian_h 10.20.13 at 10:27 pm

It should be unnecessary to point this out, but of course I do not hold any of the opinions that adam.smith imputes to me. In fact he makes a number of obvious category errors in his effort to erect straw people.

107

adam.smith 10.20.13 at 10:32 pm

his comments are generally thoughtful and dispassionate

but that’s my point. This isn’t a dispassionate topic. You can’t just ignore that Israel was founded because people tried to wipe out the Jews living among them. That’s just not a dispassionate topic and I think it’s unreasonable to expect it to be.

108

MPAVictoria 10.20.13 at 11:02 pm

“It should be unnecessary to point this out, but of course I do not hold any of the opinions that adam.smith imputes to me. In fact he makes a number of obvious category errors in his effort to erect straw people.”

And which opinions would those be? I am very confused by your posts.

109

roy belmont 10.21.13 at 2:16 am

There’s something here that’s also in CR’s post about the BART strike. But I’m not sure what exactly it is.
A kind of zero point. Meritocracy that begins in the midst of depraved treacheries and scammy rewrites of existing conditions, centuries of befuddled groping through rigged systems and power relations that were nothing but brutality codified.
Historical moral definitions that begin at arbitrary moments in a continuum that stretches back to the pre-mammalian.
We’re here. Things before this were very bad for some, okay for others. The Spanish conquistadors made lampshades (oil lamps) out of skinned indigenous in Mexico, God knows what insane inhumanities were committed on the unrecorded victims of…virtually every state, race, and people now in existence.
Let’s move on.
But the ghosts can’t, of course. And memory and conscience, fully engaged and informed, won’t let us. But then we’re fucked. Unless we can disinherit ourselves.
So pretend. Pretend Jews are the only innocent people on earth, pure victims and in desperate need of whatever protections they decide they need.
Forgive the victims for the behaviors that when done by others made them victims in the first place.
Pretend we’re all not heirs to the unspeakable. It’s easier.

110

Donald Johnson 10.21.13 at 3:28 am

“I’m not going anywhere with the argument at least as regards the I-P conflict, in fact, I haven’t said one single thing about the I- palestinian conflict.”

Which is odd, considering that the OP is about the I/P conflict. But you seem to think there’s some meme on the anti-Israeli left about the crimes of Alexander and that christian h is somehow trying to make Jews the original sinners in the conflict, a conflict which in your mind apparently goes back thousands of years and involves Macedonians and anyone else who ever conquered some portion of Israel/Palestine.

111

Collin Street 10.21.13 at 4:23 am

You can’t just ignore that Israel was founded because people tried to wipe out the Jews living among them

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lehi_Ribbon.svg

112

js. 10.21.13 at 4:47 am

Just as a sidenote:

The Brits in India were indeed colonialists, bit they were most definitely not _settler colonialists_. And the problems that attach to the latter sort are indeed unique and extraordinary, because they more or less necessarily involve grievous and mortal harm to the native population. To put it more bluntly, you kinda gotta sorta wipe ’em out, one way or another. The histories of the US and Australia, just for example, are great primers. (Which is _not at all_ to excuse the crimes of non-settler colonialism—for all my anglophilia, I still hail from the subcontinent after all.)

113

Nine 10.21.13 at 5:08 am

Donald Johnson@110-“Which is odd, considering”

christian_h brought the macedonians into the discussion, take it up with him. Although i can understand why this seems “odd” to a fanatic.

114

Kaveh 10.21.13 at 5:18 am

adam.smith @105 “btw. the idea that folks from other European countries and their allies should maybe pause a bit before lecturing Holocaust survivors about feeling threatened certainly applies to Germans above all”

And again, this has nothing to do with most of the people whose lives are actually being lost right now, but I guess a meta-conversation about one or two people’s right to participate in the conversation is more important than bothersome details about people actually directly involved in the conflict…

115

Kaveh 10.21.13 at 5:23 am

That is, no matter how small the objections to Blumenthal’s or christian_h’s degree of legitimacy in talking about the threats posed to Israeli Jews, those arguments apply would ten-fold to whatever Israelis or Zionists say about Palestinians, but this is matters not the least because the people who raise these objections aren’t even trying to talk about Palestinians.

116

js. 10.21.13 at 5:27 am

Nine,

So you’re honestly and truly just concerned about the semantics of “imperialism” and “colonialism”, and not about Israel/Palestine at all? Which would indeed be odd. Because look, if my last comment—which doesn’t mention anything about the middle east at all—isn’t about Israel/Palestine, then, umm, “Sympathy for the Devil” isn’t about the devil.

I mean there are things you can look at to see how modern imperialism is categorically different from pre-modern empire formations. (Say, the categories according to which subjected populations were levied special taxes; rules of citizenship and ability to travel to metropoles; etc.)

But if you really think that Alexander’s failed conquest of the northwest of the subcontinent has anything at all to do with what the Brits wrought, this is probably entirely hopeless.

117

js. 10.21.13 at 5:30 am

Also, christian_h’s and Kaveh’s comments on this thread are indispensable. (Okay, yeah, I’m getting my coat.)

118

Nine 10.21.13 at 6:07 am

“So you’re honestly and truly just concerned about the semantics of “imperialism” and “colonialism”, and not about Israel/Palestine at all?”

Yes. Any more questions ?

119

js. 10.21.13 at 6:15 am

Any more questions ?

Yes. What are your views on the settler colonialist enterprise that’s been going on west of the Jordan river?

120

Nine 10.21.13 at 6:21 am

That it is a settler-colonialist enterprise ?
Weren’t you getting you coat ?

121

GiT 10.21.13 at 6:30 am

“Even if we, for the sake of argument, accept the premise that Israel is an essentially colonialist enterprise, it is simply incorrect to assert that it is a Western colonialist enterprise.”

It seems odd to me that a country created out of a British occupation of a remnant of the Ottoman Empire would not be a part of the Western colonialist enterprise. But then I have a sort of tick about both the ’67 and ’48 dates which are always trotted out, when British assumption of the Palestinian Mandate and its sovereign control over migration from 1918 until ’48 coincide with a sevenfold or so increase in the Jewish population of mandatory Palestine. That looks like Western colonialism by the dominant Western colonial power all the way through – to me at least.

But hey, I guess the UN (nothing Western or imperialist about that!) decided something in 1947, so that’s where it all starts.

122

Hector_St_Clare 10.21.13 at 6:38 am

Cranky Observer,

You must be joking. Jews in America have a wildly disproportionate share of money, power, cultural influence and representation in elite circles and academic institutions. The proof is that our entire foreign policy seems to consist of being Israel’s water boy. I find your whining about ‘anti semitism’ is tasteless at best.

123

Mao Cheng Ji 10.21.13 at 7:14 am

Was someone in this thread ordered to shut up, by two commenters speaking somberly and righteously, because of his ethnic background? Wow. Never thought I’d see it here, but here it is.

124

tony lynch 10.21.13 at 7:45 am

This hasn’t been pretty.

125

godoggo 10.21.13 at 9:48 am

You’re arguing about Israel on the Internet. I’m with Nine.

126

godoggo 10.21.13 at 9:54 am

Not about Donald being a fanatic. It’s nice that he cares. And I actually care too. I’m caring right now.

127

Squarely Rooted 10.21.13 at 11:58 am

Something I think about a lot…does the position of the Jews in America to some extent implicitly rely on Israel? Blumenthal asserts that the current status of American Jews is a lesson for Israel, but what if the relationship between Israel and American Jews is symbiotic, where the achievements and status of each are to some extent dependent on the achievements of the other?

That is, could Israel exist without a wealthy, powerful client with a wealthy, powerful Jewish population? And could American Jewry be so openly and vigorously engaged in mainstream society while still being openly and proudly Jewish without the unprecedented security of an armed Jewish state as refuge?

128

chris 10.21.13 at 12:27 pm

@127: If Israel is dependent on American support for its continued existence, I don’t see how it could also be an effective refuge against hypothetical future American anti-Semitism (pervasive enough to set policy, I mean; obviously there are SOME anti-Semites in America, but not enough to take control of policy and deprive American Jews of the protections of law).

129

Hal 10.21.13 at 12:49 pm

I mean; obviously there are SOME anti-Semites in America, but not enough to take control of policy and deprive American Jews of the protections of law

“A strong German nationalist, Rathenau was a leading proponent of a policy of assimilation for German Jews; he argued that Jews should oppose both Zionism and socialism and fully integrate themselves into mainstream German society. This, he said, would lead to the eventual disappearance of antisemitism.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walther_Rathenau

130

Kaveh 10.21.13 at 1:14 pm

@129 I’m not sure how to take this cryptic quotation other than as a comparison between the 21st c. US and Weimar Germany.

131

Kaveh 10.21.13 at 1:16 pm

Or are you saying Rathenau had the right idea, it only took longer than he thought for this to work?

132

Jacques Distler 10.21.13 at 2:14 pm

It seems odd to me that a country created out of a British occupation of a remnant of the Ottoman Empire would not be a part of the Western colonialist enterprise. But then I have a sort of tick about both the ’67 and ’48 dates which are always trotted out, when British assumption of the Palestinian Mandate and its sovereign control over migration from 1918 …

Why start the clock in 1918? (Modern) Jewish immigration to Israel/Palestine started in the 1880s. I’ll grant you that the rate of immigration grew somewhat after 1918, but it didn’t really take off until 1933 (as many arrived in 1933-39 as had arrived in the previous 5 decades, and that number doubled again from the end of WWII to 1948).

I’m sure the uptick had something to do with British imperialist designs, no?

133

Hal 10.21.13 at 2:27 pm

It didn’t work for Rathenau, Kaveh. The Jews of Germany were thoroughly assimilated (whenever they were allowed) and their contribution to German culture and science was probably even greater than that of American Jews to their host country.

In 1938 Léon Blum was Prime Minister of France. Five years later the French government deported him to Buchenwald.

And the pattern was repeated throughout Europe.

And beyond: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Iraq http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13610702

134

Ronan(rf) 10.21.13 at 2:33 pm

I’m not sure why there’s this hostility to the idea that Israel is a settler colonial enterprise (or whatever)
A lot of this type of imperialism (if you want to use that term) is reactive and contingent and dependant on a complex interplay between the actions of independent actors, major powers and historical forces beyond control
I dont see why the moniker matters.
It did involve the dispossession of the lands of the people actually living in the area at the time. That much is unarguable

135

Ronan(rf) 10.21.13 at 2:36 pm

From my laymans reading of US history it is primarily Native and African Americans who have been disenfranhised in the US not the Jews
These things play out differently in diffferent contexts.
Why would the assumption be that Jewish people cant assimilate into the US? That seems ludicrous, and wrong

136

Mao Cheng Ji 10.21.13 at 3:05 pm

“In 1938 Léon Blum was Prime Minister of France. Five years later the French government deported him to Buchenwald.”

What are you trying to say, exactly? Spell it out. Am I supposed to have an epiphany now and realize that the Jews are special, and no matter how well they assimilate they are destined to be persecuted by the rest of the world, unless they ethnically cleanse Palestine, build a wall around it, and move there? Does this sound about right?

137

Bruce Wilder 10.21.13 at 3:06 pm

I believe the “assumption” (actually, a generalization from historical experience) would be that Jews cannot remain assimilated. Sooner or later, their distinctive identity and prominence will make anti-Semitism politically profitable for some group, and they will be attacked and ejected from the body politic. Always a minority, usually a small minority, their interests as a group can always be sacrificed by the majority or by a demagogue representing the majority, and, eventually, that will happen.

I don’t think it is so implausible to imagine that the American Christian Right — so enthusiastic about Israel for all kinds of bizarre reasons — could turn. I don’t think it is so implausible that AIPAC’s corruption of Congress could provoke a popular backlash.

I don’t think it is implausible at all that Israel will lead the U.S. into a world-historical debacle in the Middle East — Israel has pressed hard for years for a war with Iran over Iran’s nuclear program. It is not as if an Iranian Empire has never before in history advanced into the region of Palestine.

I read Grossman’s comments — and Blumenthal’s — as expressing a great deal of poignancy for a idealistic nationalist cause lost to the ugliness of authoritarianism and racism. They are just not very far apart — nationalism and racism — and, yet, the politics of the rights of man rests on the status and duties of a citizen as a member of some exclusive and inclusive club. It is a paradox of human sociability underlying politics, which isn’t so easily dismissed with a wave of the hand and mumblings about a multi-ethnic society. And, in the wrong hands, it is a dangerous explosive.

138

Hal 10.21.13 at 3:10 pm

You have it backwards, Ronan. American Jews can and have assimilated. In Germany so was Rathenau (and Einstein et al). As was Freud in Austria. And Blum in France. And many others in Iraq and Morocco and Egypt… But given their history, I’ll forgive the Jews for thinking that assimilation is unreliable insurance against antisemitism and that it would be nice to have one place in the world where they aren’t at the fickle mercy of their hosts.

139

Ronan(rf) 10.21.13 at 3:23 pm

Well, whatever the rights or wrongs of Zionism or the desire for a Jewish national home, I dont know
I’m not well enough read in the arguments, and it’s frankly too morally complicated for me (personally) to come to any firm conclusions.
But it exists and it’s not going anywhere, which is probably a good thing in a lot of ways, but clearly not in some quite obvious ways
Whether or not Jews can ever truly assimilate into countries where they’re a minority, I dont know. Thats an intra-Jewish discussion and people can come to the conclusions they do
I dont, though, see what any of this has to do with the very specific problems that exist in Israel/Palestine at the minute, and I certainly dont see the point of making policy/decisions based on worst case, apocalyptic forecasts, or see what use hyperbole is?

140

Ronan(rf) 10.21.13 at 3:28 pm

btw, I do see what point you were making, Hal. I just dont think that saying Jews were as assimilated into pre war German society as they are in the US says anything (Is that even true? I dont know any German history and the only book Ive read on the topic was Amos Elons The Pity of it All, but my impression was that anti semitism was always quite strong in Germany in ways it isnt in the US)

141

Harold 10.21.13 at 3:36 pm

If Jews were assimilated in free-thinking Berlin, that doesn’t mean they were assimilated in Catholic Bavaria.

Furthermore, even in Berlin, they were assimilated if they were wealthy and educated and it helped if they also converted to Christianity and intermarried with Christians.

Even in the US, prewar, Jews could not register at hotels or rent or buy houses in many neighborhoods. Quotas kept them out of elite universities, and those who succeeded in getting degrees were barred from teaching in English departments or being employed as administrators. Hell, Harvard was exceptional in accepting their money.

142

Alex 10.21.13 at 3:38 pm

If Israel is dependent on American support for its continued existence, I don’t see how it could also be an effective refuge against hypothetical future American anti-Semitism

Yes. Yes. This really doesn’t make sense.

143

Mao Cheng Ji 10.21.13 at 3:40 pm

“the fickle mercy of their hosts”

Once you assimilated, you’ve become the host.

“I don’t think it is so implausible that AIPAC’s corruption of Congress could provoke a popular backlash.”

That’s not a part of the “assumption”. The “assumption” is of a fully metaphysical, quasi-religious nature, whether those who espouse it realize it or not. It’s supposed to be accompanied by a sad, slow shaking of one’s head.

144

Bloix 10.21.13 at 3:59 pm

“I’m sure the uptick had something to do with British imperialist designs, no?”

No. British imperialist designs in the former Ottoman territories were implemented by the installation of friendly Arab royal houses, not by establishment of settler colonies.

In Iraq and Transjordan, the British transplanted royal descendants of the Hashemite tribe from Arabia, who had been pushed out of the Arabian Penninsula by the Saudis. Although the Hashemite king of Iraq was deposed in 1958, the Hashemites remain on the throne of what is now Jordan and have been faithful Western allies for ninety years.

The original mandatory area of Palestine that was carved out of Ottoman lands after WWI was on both sides of the Jordan. Like the other territories, it had no historic or geographical integrity. The area was the southern part of the Ottoman province of Syria – the French got northern part (what is now Syria and Lebanon.) The British cut their piece in two and installed a Hashemite ruler on the eastern half. This “emirate” – it wasn’t a kingdom yet – was given the clumsy name of “Transjordan.” It was still part of the Mandatory Territory of Palestine and remained a British protectorate. On the west side, from the Med to the Jordan, the British administered the territory directly.

Why didn’t they let Emir Abdullah have the whole thing? Because when the British accepted the Mandate from the League of Nations in 1992, the internationally sanctioned commission that made British rule legal required the “recognition” of the Jews’ right to “reconstitute” their “National Home” in Palestine. This was a recognition that the British had acknowledged in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and remained part of the post-war legal regime.

But why did the British acknowledge a Jewish right to a “National Home” in a territory they didn’t control in 1917? Because, when the British Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann asked them to, the very stupid anti-Semites in the Foreign Office, who truly believed in a powerful world Jewish conspiracy, thought: (1) that it would please the Americans and encourage their entry into the war, because Wilson had Jewish advisors; (2) that it might keep Russia in the war, because they thought of the Bolsheviks as a Jewish cabal; and (3) that it would lead to disaffection with the war effort among the Jews of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey.

So the decision to acknowledge a Jewish right to a “home” (not by any means a state) in Palestine had nothing to do with post-war imperialist designs.

The rump of Palestine that hadn’t been given to Abdullah was a useless little strip of territory – it had no oil and it controlled or threatened no important transportation routes, Suez being safely out of reach. The British gained nothing by administering it directly. And during the 20’s it caused no end of conflict – riots, strikes, political unrest – among the Arabs, requiring the British to spend money on the occupation and political capital in keeping their Arab client kingdoms happy. It was a hindrance, not a help, to British imperial designs.

With their focus on their Arab client states, the British never took their recognition of a Jewish “National Home” seriously. Beginning in 1920, they put a quota on Jewish immigration, limiting it to 16,500 heads of household per year. In 1939, they imposed a quota of 75,000 for the following five years – and they enforced it.

So, throughout the Mandate, British soldiers in Palestine spent their time rounding up and deport during WWII and for years thereafter, when Britain was fighting for its existence, British naval vessels were occupied in blockading the Palestine coast against Jewish refugee ships, and interning them in Cyprus. After the war, the British undertook to repress Jewish immigration entirely as part of their world-wide effort to re-consolidate the post-war empire. The “uptick” you see in Jewish immigration in the 1930’s and then after the Holocaust in the early 1940’s was entirely illegal immigration.

This history, which forms a part of every Israeli’s knowledge from childhood, is either not known or ignored by people who contend that Israel is a colonial state planted by the British.

In the Israeli view, the British effectively collaborated with the Nazis to assure that the Jews would be contained within Europe and exterminated there. After the war, the British did their best to frustrate the emergence of a Jewish state in order to placate their Arab allies. The Jews threw the British out by force of arms (including a fair amount of terrorism) – and as they were leaving, the British did what they could to assure a victory by the British client states of Transjordan and Iraq, whose armies were British-trained and British-armed.

Given this view of history, you can see why Israelis don’t have much time for people who contend that their country is a colonial enterprise or that the Jewish presence in Palestine results from British colonial designs.

145

Josh G. 10.21.13 at 4:12 pm

Squarely Rooted @ 127: “Something I think about a lot…does the position of the Jews in America to some extent implicitly rely on Israel? Blumenthal asserts that the current status of American Jews is a lesson for Israel, but what if the relationship between Israel and American Jews is symbiotic, where the achievements and status of each are to some extent dependent on the achievements of the other?

Jews were doing just fine in America prior to 1948. There has never been a substantial amount of deep-rooted anti-Semitism in the United States. The right of Jews to religious freedom was recognized all the way back as the presidency of George Washington. What were the worst anti-Semitic incidents in U.S. history? There really aren’t that many to pick from. Grant’s ‘General Order No. 11’ during the Civil War was quickly overruled by President Lincoln, and Grant himself never engaged in any anti-Semitic acts during his subsequent two terms as President. The Leo Frank case? A flagrant violation of the rule of law, to be sure, but we’re still talking about one man – there were probably more Italians and Irish lynched in the Old South than Jews, and of course African-Americans had it far worse than anyone else. The Crown Heights Riots? Virtually no one on the national political stage defended that, and obviously the presence of Israel did nothing to stop it.

For most of U.S. history, Jews weren’t paranoid about anti-Semitism, because they didn’t have any particular reason to be. This really changed after the 1967 War; Peter Novick’s The Holocaust in American Life shows how the paranoid belief that Jews are always and endlessly persecuted everywhere dates back to the aftermath of that conflict, and not back to the Holocaust itself.

146

Josh G. 10.21.13 at 4:17 pm

Hektor Bim @ 94: “There is a simple solution to that. If the settlers are willing to live in a future Palestine they can stay and if they aren’t they can move. Tekoa’s settlers are planning to stay for example. Why should Israel be the only state with an ethnic minority?

The problem is that the settlers monopolize the majority of good land in the territory, plus most of the water supply. Under those circumstances, a meaningful two-state solution requires that the settlers be required to disgorge their ill-gotten gains. Letting them keep it would reduce Palestinian sovereignty to a chimera.

147

Bruce Baugh 10.21.13 at 4:18 pm

I dunno if it’s something in the air or what, but wow have CT comment threads been particularly dysfunctional lately.

148

LFC 10.21.13 at 4:18 pm

@Bloix
a couple of corrections
Because when the British accepted the Mandate from the League of Nations in 1992
s/b 1922 (I assume)

The “uptick” you see in Jewish immigration in the 1930′s and then after the Holocaust in the early 1940′s was entirely illegal immigration.
Not “after the Holocaust in the early 1940’s,” as the early 1940’s is when the Holocaust got underway.

149

Hal 10.21.13 at 4:26 pm

Ronan, full-blown, ghetto-and-pogrom level antisemitism was largely a Christian/European phenomenon, but the notion that the Jews in Arab and Muslim countries were unaffected is a myth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_under_Muslim_rule

For what it’s worth, I think that the I/P problem is not nearly as intractable as some pessimists imagine. It would be helpful if the Israeli government could overcome its political reliance on the right, corral the settlers, and make some concrete moves to help the establishment of a Palestinian state, but – in light of the comments above on antisemitism – it would also be immensely helpful if the PA (Hamas, unfortunately, is a more difficult case) could rein in the virulent eliminationism that pervades the Palestinian and, by extension, much of Arab, media.

150

Jerry Vinokurov 10.21.13 at 4:34 pm

If Israel is dependent on American support for its continued existence, I don’t see how it could also be an effective refuge against hypothetical future American anti-Semitism

Yes. Yes. This really doesn’t make sense.

Thirded. This idea that somehow Israel would remain a refuge for Jews in the event of the US transforming into a genocidally anti-Semitic regime is a complete fantasy.

151

godoggo 10.21.13 at 4:35 pm

Bruce: “something in the air,” that’s the ticket.

152

Kaveh 10.21.13 at 4:48 pm

I asked about comparing Weimar Germany & the modern US because Hal (& maybe others, unintentionally) is conflating assimilation of individual Jews into German & French society with Germans’ and French people’s attitudes towards Jews. There was a book that came out several years ago, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, which I believe falsifies any claim that Jews had successfully assimilated into German society–it reveals a great deal of Antisemitism at all levels of German society, which is not incompatible with some individual Jews rising to high office or completely conforming to German cultural norms and being accepted in a particular community or social circle.

153

Watson Ladd 10.21.13 at 4:51 pm

Josh G: How about the quota system in the 20th century? Westchester country club was only desegregated postwar, and we are talking about Westchester! Antisemitism does not mean pogroms and dogs, any more than anti-black racism consists entirely of lynching.

Jerry: No one would dare attack Israel knowing the result to be annihilation of entire cities. The US does not secure Israel: nuclear weapons do.

154

Kaveh 10.21.13 at 4:52 pm

Hal @149, I don’t follow that much Arabic-language media recently but from what I have seen, there is a lot of work to be done in fighting Antisemitic attitudes and encouraging people to see Israel as a future neighbor/partner. Although this is not something the PA is in much of a position to do anything about, and you mention Antisemitism in the PA’s media–is it really so bad there, or at any rate worse than Egyptian & other media? My very rough impression is that Palestinians are a lot more practical & realistic in their attitudes towards their Jewish neighbors & what they say about them (e.g. survey responses to ‘would you like to live alongside Jews?’) than people elsewhere in the Arab world.

155

bianca steele 10.21.13 at 5:06 pm

there were probably more Italians and Irish lynched in the Old South than Jews

That’s the plot of Gone With the Wind, isn’t it?

156

bianca steele 10.21.13 at 5:13 pm

@144
I wonder what the British got from shifting the center of gravity of the Zionist movement from the Continent, though it probably has no implications for the topic of this thread, and only shows that I know both too much about Max Nordau and not enough.

157

Hal 10.21.13 at 5:23 pm

Jerry @ 150,

There’s a lot of distance between what the US was to Israel in 1947 (mildly favourable but largely hands off), what it is today (strongly supportive, an “ally”), and what it might be under be under an “antisemitic” (“genocidal” is a stretch) regime. In 1941 the Jews of Europe (or even Iraq [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farhud ] would have gladly have had Israel available under any of these scenarios.

And, btw, Israel fought the 1948 and 1967 wars without US military (or even political) assistance.

Kaveh @ 154,

Your’re probably right that there is crazier (religious) antisemitism in the Egyptian, Saudi or even Iranian press than in the Palestinian media. But the idea that, in the long run, Israel will eventually be conquered and eliminated is very strong in some segments of Palestinian media, and not just under Hamas. Unfortunately, that sort of thing encourages the right wing rejectionists in Israel upon whom the Israeli government depends for political support.

158

LFC 10.21.13 at 5:28 pm

P.s. to my 148 on bloix’s: I now see that the second sentence can be read two ways, so doesn’t need ‘correction’. Sorry.

159

Harold 10.21.13 at 5:34 pm

Josh G.:
It is quite a statement to say that US Jews were doing “just fine” in the USA prior to 1948 — and even after 1948, since it can be argued that only after 1960 did the tide begin to turn. The SAT tests, which is supposed to measure an indefinable quality called “aptitude”, was openly devised as a way to keep Jews out of college, banking, and the professions, as Jews were not considered “gentlemen” (they studied, which was cheating and showed they were not “rounded”). In a speech, Leon Botstein recounted that at least some on the board of Columbia university were loath to hire him as President of Bard College because of his ethnicity. It was considered a big breakthrough when they did, and that was not too long ago (Bard was founded by Columbia University as n Episcopalian school). Wall Street and top corporate law firms had similar attitudes.

The practice of restrictive covenants was widespread, almost the norm in fact. Wikipedia notes a few examples of US communities that had restrictive covenants — typically stipulating that property could not be sold to Jews, Catholics, or Negroes (note, this list doesn’t include the entire town of Garden City Long Island, which was notorious for being restricted):

Forest Hills Gardens, Queens, New York – covenants forbade the sale of real property to blacks, Jews and working-class people.
Jackson Heights, Queens, New York – covenants employed to restrict occupancy to white, non-immigrant Protestants [23]
Washington Park Subdivision, Chicago, Illinois – restrictive covenants used to exclude African-Americans.
Palos Verdes, Los Angeles, California – covenants forbade an owner to sell or rent a house to anyone not of white or Caucasian race and to not permit African-Americans on their property with the exception of chauffeurs, gardeners and domestic servants.[18]:15
Guilford, Baltimore, Maryland – covenants provided for exclusion against negroes or persons of negro extraction.[18]:65

160

LFC 10.21.13 at 5:39 pm

@bianca steele:

@144 I wonder what the British got from shifting the center of gravity of the Zionist movement from the Continent

That’s a weird thing to take away from bloix’s comment at 144. The gist or thrust of bloix’s comment is to argue that the British govt was never really committed to the Zionist mvt, that the Balfour Decl. was pure realpolitik on the Br govt’s part, that they did everything poss. to limit immigration of Jews into Palestine during the Mandate, etc., etc. How in the world do you get from there to “the Br. shifted the center of gravity of the Zionist mvt from the Continent”??? It might have so shifted b/c of Weizmann but it wasn’t the Br actively/wittingly shifting it. That’s how I read bloix’s comment, at any rate.

Btw, Wm Roger Louis’s bk Imperialism at Bay: the U.S. and the Decolonization of the Br Empire, 1941-1945, wh i happened to be glancing at recently, prob quite relevant to parts of this discussion.

161

Bloix 10.21.13 at 5:41 pm

LFC- thanks – those are both proof-reading errors. I’m not quite as bad as Yglesias but I come close.

162

LFC 10.21.13 at 5:42 pm

Harold @159:

The SAT test, which is supposed to measure an indefinable quality called “aptitude”, was openly devised as a way to keep Jews out of college, banking, and the professions

This particular statement sounds quite wrong; at any rate, I think it needs a citation.

163

MPAVictoria 10.21.13 at 5:43 pm

“It would be helpful if the Israeli government could overcome its political reliance on the right, corral the settlers, and make some concrete moves to help the establishment of a Palestinian state, but – in light of the comments above on antisemitism – it would also be immensely helpful if the PA (Hamas, unfortunately, is a more difficult case) could rein in the virulent eliminationism that pervades the Palestinian and, by extension, much of Arab, media.”

I would say this is exactly right. Israel needs to reign in the Settlers and get them off Palestinian land. There is room for a deal to be made here if both sides can actually bargain in good faith.

164

Jerry Vinokurov 10.21.13 at 5:44 pm

There’s a lot of distance between what the US was to Israel in 1947 (mildly favourable but largely hands off), what it is today (strongly supportive, an “ally”), and what it might be under be under an “antisemitic” (“genocidal” is a stretch) regime. In 1941 the Jews of Europe (or even Iraq [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farhud ] would have gladly have had Israel available under any of these scenarios.

People sure love to draw historical parallels between entirely different periods in history with entirely different geopolitical issues in play. The story always goes like this: Israel needs to exist because we can never let the Holocaust happen again. But the Holocaust was not just the product of an “anti-Semitic regime,” because that term accurately describes virtually every political regime in Europe at the time, all but one of which did not actually exterminate its Jewish population; it was the product of a specifically implemented program of genocide. So even the (already fantastical) transformation of the US into an anti-Semitic regime doesn’t do the work needed for the historical analogy to even make sense; the regime has to be explicitly genocidal to match up with the atrocities of the Holocaust. And in that case, the notion that the existence of Israel is going to save anyone is absurd.

And, btw, Israel fought the 1948 and 1967 wars without US military (or even political) assistance.

I don’t know what this has to do with anything. I’m not sure how you’re interpreting what I said, but the above paragraph should make it clear that in the event of the US somehow becoming Nazi Germany 2.0 everything would be so deeply fucked that Israel’s existence wouldn’t matter.

165

Jerry Vinokurov 10.21.13 at 5:46 pm

Antisemitism does not mean pogroms and dogs, any more than anti-black racism consists entirely of lynching.

Holy lack of a sense of gradation, Batman!

166

Ronan(rf) 10.21.13 at 5:53 pm

Bloix
I think you’re offering an overly rosy picture of British intentions in the Middle East/Palestine
The Balfour declaration is one thing (and although I think you’re overstating the role anti semitism played in it, it was certainly the result of a complex set of cirumstances and priorities – ie no grand design)
But British designs on Palestine were ‘imperial’.
Zionisms role in that is complex, but there’s no reason it cant be two things at once, a ‘national liberation movement’ for the Jews and an act of colonialism for those in Palestine at the time

167

Hektor Bim 10.21.13 at 5:59 pm

Josh G,

The settlers would be citizens of a Palestinian state. Equal citizens. That means their land claims and water use would not be legally and illegally priviliged over that of other citizens. As I say, some settlers are very attached to the land and have decent relationships with their neighbors. Others will have to make accomodations.

168

bianca steele 10.21.13 at 6:00 pm

LFC,
That wasn’t so much a takeaway from what Bloix said, and on second thought is maybe partly answered by Bloix’s comment. From what I remember, Herzl and Nordau had been negotiating with France and Turkey, on the assumption that Palestine would go to France after the war. When Britain got Palestine in the war settlement, Weizmann became the key player and the leadership shifted.

There seems to be an error on the Wikipedia page History of Zionism FWIW, “Nathan Birnbaum” should be “Max Nordau,” I think, the footnote given there is to a non-existent page.

169

chris 10.21.13 at 6:06 pm

I believe the “assumption” (actually, a generalization from historical experience) would be that Jews cannot remain assimilated. Sooner or later, their distinctive identity and prominence will make anti-Semitism politically profitable for some group, and they will be attacked and ejected from the body politic.

ISTM if they still have a distinctive identity then they haven’t actually assimilated in the first place. Indeed, it’s remarkable how unassimilated Jews remained in so many places after centuries of living among other populations — when other populations were often merging to the point that you had to be a really dedicated genealogist to sort them out after a few centuries.

But I think this is no more than a restatement of the assumption that pluralistic societies aren’t serious about being pluralistic, or can’t exist at all. Jewish-Americans may be a minority, but attacking minorities is repugnant to a large number of Americans, regardless of the identity of the specific minority or why it is being attacked.

Furthermore, if Israel is really dependent on US military aid, then it can’t provide a second line of defense anyway — there just aren’t enough Jews in the world to defend themselves without allies if enough other people become sufficiently determined to attack them.

I dunno if it’s something in the air or what, but wow have CT comment threads been particularly dysfunctional lately.

Threads about Israel are often pretty dysfunctional wherever they occur. This is not as bad as some.

170

Hektor Bim 10.21.13 at 6:11 pm

Suppose I try to channel the liberal Zionist justification for Israel.

Jews have tried to assimilate in countries all over the world, but it is at best partially successful and tenuous. Jews are accepted only to the extent they convert, and some times even then.

When Jews do get into trouble, other countries will not accept them in large numbers as refugees. Israel exists as a safe haven for Jews who will be persecuted elsewhere.

This justification, right or wrong as it may be, doesn’t rely on all other countries being deeply antisemitic. It just relies on other countries not being willing to take in Jewish refugees in large numbers. It also means Israel must be protected, because the 6 million Israeli Jews will have no where to go.

171

Hal 10.21.13 at 6:15 pm

Jerry @ 164,

because that term accurately describes virtually every political regime in Europe at the time, all but one of which did not actually exterminate its Jewish population

I assume by “one” you are referring to Germany itself. But that’s slippery. There were massacres and pogroms in several European countries, not to mention mass deportations to the death camps (albeit under fascist or collaborationist governments). So perhaps not strictly “genocidal”, but I don’t think that was much of a consolation to a Hungarian Jew in Auschwitz or a Croatian Jew in Jasenovac.

172

GiT 10.21.13 at 6:18 pm

@Bloix (and LFCs summary, which seem right to me, @160) – I don’t dispute any of the historical facts about the British occupation. But I also don’t see how Britain’s meager and often hostile efforts w/r/t the territory somehow make its involvement not part of “Western Imperialism.” If Arabs (and the recent immigrants of yhe 1st and 2nd aaliyah) had had sovereign control over that segment of the middle-east, where would we be, and where would many Jewish people be and have been? This isn’t a matter of what would have been better or worse, right or wrong, but just whether or not Western usurpation of popular/local determination is an integral part of Israel’s formation. The motives behind Balfour are irrelevant. The brute fact of British ministers making decisions about territorial organization in the middle east, however…

173

Trader Joe 10.21.13 at 6:26 pm

@169 and @170
These points sound suspiciously like its the Jews fault for their own persecution throughout Europe

Something akin to:
We’re happy to have blacks in our neighborhood as long as they act like we do.
There’s nothing wrong with gays as long as they aren’t too flamboyant
She asked for it dressing like that

Could it maybe be something as simple as a Jews have been called a “problem” for +2000 years so all “solutions” begin with minimization and enclosure rather than acceptance and inclusion?

etc.

174

AJ 10.21.13 at 6:29 pm

> Kashmir and other assorted Hindu/Muslim conflicts on the subcontinent
You could also cite black-white conflicts in Oakland and East L.A. Yes, tribalism is everywhere, but the Kashmir problem is more similar to East L.A. than to the Middle East. India is fortunate in having a large land area unlike Israel. So people can – and do – move out of Kashmir. The same as Oakland.

175

Jerry Vinokurov 10.21.13 at 6:34 pm

I assume by “one” you are referring to Germany itself. But that’s slippery. There were massacres and pogroms in several European countries, not to mention mass deportations to the death camps (albeit under fascist or collaborationist governments). So perhaps not strictly “genocidal”, but I don’t think that was much of a consolation to a Hungarian Jew in Auschwitz or a Croatian Jew in Jasenovac.

I’m counting collaborationist government under the umbrella of Germany for the simple reason that absent the mass extermination program there would have been no death camps to deport to. Of course pogroms took place and were horrible and devastating, but the point remains that the Holocaust, as a purposefully engineered program of mass extermination, was totally sui generis even taking into account the long and sordid history of European anti-semitism. Coming back to my original point, this devalues the use of historical analogy to cast Israel as a safe haven for Jews in the case of the US somehow transforming into a genocidal anti-Semitic state. It just won’t work because in that counterfactual world, everything is already so terrible that the existence of Israel makes no difference.

None of this is an argument about whether Israel “should” exist or not; it’s a point about the uselessness of historical analogues that don’t match up to do the work people want them to do, and about fantastical projections into counterfactual futures. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is not resolvable by reference to the history of the Holocaust or speculation about what would happen if we somehow careened into dystopia, and continually bringing up those things clouds the real issues.

176

Seth Gordon 10.21.13 at 6:35 pm

Hektor: Why would the settlers be equal citizens of a Palestinian state? The Palestinians don’t want a state in which those settlers are equal citizens. They want a state in which those settlers are absent.

The African National Congress, from the time of its founding, made it clear that its goal was to create a multi-ethnic democracy in South Africa, rather than to send the white settlers back to their ancestral homes in Britain and the Netherlands. If the movement for Palestinian self-determination had started from the same premise, we would be having a very different conversation now.

177

Harold 10.21.13 at 7:07 pm

LFC@162, you are correct. I plead guilty to a rhetorical overstatement made while somewhat carried away by indignation. I should have said to keep Jews out of more selective colleges, not to keep Jews out of the professions (though, since those colleges are the gateway to the professions, it is much the same thing). Or, more accurately, to restrict the number of Jewish admissions to the more selective and prestigious colleges, since obviously some were in fact allowed to attend.

I don’t think that is inaccurate, or even controversial. The SAT is not based on what students have studied, rather it is designed to identify the essentialist “elect”.

For a citation, quickly found at random, here is Bob Shaeffer interviewed on PBS’s Frontline:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/sats/interviews/schaeffer.html

>It [the SAT] does correlate extremely highly with an IQ test. It was developed from the army IQ test…

>That’s part of the seedy underside of the SAT. The SAT was originally developed by straight out racists, eugenicists, people who thought my forbearers [i.e., Jews] –not just people of color–were imbeciles and shouldn’t be allowed in their country because they didn’t know the language and couldn’t score high on their test. I wouldn’t suggest the current people who run those companies share those kinds of ugly views. But it’s a self reinforcing notion of defining intelligence as that which whatever the dominant group in society has. Ends up giving that group higher scores and lower scores. The fact that test scores correlate with test scores is rather meaningless. The tests are measuring the same set of factors. What’s more important is whether the test accurately predicts how well you’re going to do.

>Would you say that we are the only country in the world that administers a national IQ test?

>Well, despite the efforts of the Educational Testing Service– which is a global corporation with nearly about half a billion dollars in total revenues–the US still is the [only] major country that administers a test like this across the board to college bound seniors. If you take the SAT and its competitor, the ACT–which about 80 percent as many kids take– the vast majority of college bound kids take those tests. And yes, the SAT in particular has its roots in IQ testing. Which is, are at best controversial and, at worst, quite, quite poor predictors of anything of value.

178

AJ 10.21.13 at 7:25 pm

> the continuity of ongoing racism and colonization of Native Americans in the US
To clarify American intentions in America- there is no ongoing colonization of Native Americans in the United States. Colonization as an American policy has not extended into the 21st century.

To clarify American intentions in the Middle East over the 20th century- despite numerous accusations from Hollywood stars, America did not get involved in the Middle East in order to “prop up dictatorships”. It went there to provide oil technology to the countries there.

The “democratic” leadership in these countries is still not disposed to kindly look at the democratic aspirations of people in other parts of the world. Democracy for me but no democracy for you. A time will come when there will be a true “Arab Spring” wherein the leadership in the countries in question will actually want Democracy with a capital D – not just for themselves but also for other nations. That time has not yet come. That time, unfortunately, is not now.

179

Harold 10.21.13 at 7:41 pm

Here is something else touching Harvard’s James Conant, one of those responsible for the SAT test: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2005/5/2/an-anti-semitic-history-a-different-interpretation/

180

Ronan(rf) 10.21.13 at 7:46 pm

“The African National Congress, from the time of its founding, made it clear that its goal was to create a multi-ethnic democracy in South Africa, rather than to send the white settlers back to their ancestral homes in Britain and the Netherlands. If the movement for Palestinian self-determination had started from the same premise, we would be having a very different conversation now.”

??

I dont know enough about SA but even on this reading the context is completly different. Israel was set up to be *a home for the Jews*, do you think there was any real support for a bi national state since independence in Israel?

181

Ronan(rf) 10.21.13 at 7:52 pm

Didnt the PLO push for a one state solution a number of decades ago, as well?

182

Harold 10.21.13 at 7:56 pm

Moreover, I am old enough to remember that after 1948, it was absolutely taboo to talk about the Holocaust. I was a child when my parents took me to visit the Night and Fog museum in Paris, and when I came back to the states and told my friends, I was met with disbelief, and in one case the children were forbidden ever to speak to me again by their parents (of German extraction), who worked for the US military.

When, during the 1950s. Raul Hillberg decided to write a history of the Holocaust as his Ph.D. dissertation, he had the support of his chief advisor, obviously, but I remember reading in Michael R Marrus’s book that the history faculty at Columbia was in the main dead against the project (presumably, since the Germans were now our allies in the war against atheistic Communism). Moreover, Hillberg was warned that if he persisted in his inconvenient choice, he would be finished. He would never be offered a job in academia. The difficulty he had in getting it published in book form (as The Destruction of European Jews, which was finally issued by a small, independent press in 1961, after having been rejected by all the major ones) reflects the atmosphere of the times. Hannah Arendt’s work changed all that, whatever people may now say about her.

183

Seth Gordon 10.21.13 at 7:59 pm

My point is that the ANC countered the apartheid “South Africa for whites” ideal with a “South Africa for all of its residents regardless of ethnicity” ideal. Nobody with any clout on the Palestinian side seems to be touting a “Palestine for all of its residents regardless of religion” ideal. Heck, even “Lebanon for all its residents regardless of religion” has been a tough sell.

184

Harold 10.21.13 at 8:03 pm

Aargh. Hilberg.

185

Hal 10.21.13 at 8:04 pm

Jerry @ 175,

It just won’t work because in that counterfactual world, everything is already so terrible that the existence of Israel makes no difference.

Do you seriously expect to convince many people (Jews especially) with that argument?

And, btw, I purposely added Jasenovac to my comment because it was an entirely homegrown extermination camp (unlike, e.g., Sajmište). The most you can argue is that it was “inspired” by Auschwitz and that what was happening elsewhere gave it some cover. It was operated by local fascists.

186

Ronan(rf) 10.21.13 at 8:08 pm

“Nobody with any clout on the Palestinian side seems to be touting a “Palestine for all of its residents regardless of religion” ideal. ”

I dont know, I havent read it yet but flicking through Paul Chamberlains The Global Offensive, it says this:

“In October of that same year, Salah Khalaf announced Fatah’s plan to transform a liberated Palestine into a nonsectarian, democratic society where Muslims, Christians, and Jews would enjoy equal rights. Fatah reiterated this plan in January 1969 in a press statement calling for the “restoration of an independent and democratic Palestinian state in which all citizens, of whatever religion, will enjoy equal rights.” The fifth Palestinian National Council, held the following month, codified this objective as official PLO policy”

How genuine they were about it I dont know, but it seems to have been a pretty prominent policy prescription in the 60s
Anyway, it was never going to happen

187

Ronan(rf) 10.21.13 at 8:11 pm

..or at least from 68/9 – early 70s ?

188

Collin Street 10.21.13 at 8:27 pm

It also means Israel must be protected, because the 6 million Israeli Jews will have no where to go.

Then maybe they should have arranged it in such a way that the existence of “israel” was unimpeachable, by not building the settlements &c. It’s not like they weren’t warned or anything.

189

Hal 10.21.13 at 8:39 pm

@188

“israel”

I think you could have reduced your comment to this single, scare-quoted word.

190

Barry Freed 10.21.13 at 8:44 pm

Moreover, I am old enough to remember that after 1948, it was absolutely taboo to talk about the Holocaust.

I am old enough to remember when it was absolutely taboo to mention Palestine or Palestinians.

191

Barry Freed 10.21.13 at 8:45 pm

But 189 and others indicate to me it isn’t long before this thread is closed. Too bad.

192

Jerry Vinokurov 10.21.13 at 8:46 pm

Do you seriously expect to convince many people (Jews especially) with that argument?

It may interest you to know that a Jew is making this argument. And yes, I do expect to convince people with it, although you still seem confused about what it is that I’m trying to convince them of. “Israel is always going to be a place of refuge for Jews” is a total fantasy propagated by people who haven’t stopped to think what a world in which Jews need refuge from virtually ever place that isn’t Israel would look like. It’s wishful thinking, nothing more.

193

lurker 10.21.13 at 8:47 pm

‘It was operated by local fascists.’ (Hal, 185)
Who did not amount to squat on their own.
Romanian holocaust was a genuinely homegrown thing, and accordingly could be halted when it became clear that the Germans were losing.

194

Kaveh 10.21.13 at 8:48 pm

The problem is that if Palestinians call for a single state for all citizens regardless of religion, it just means they are trying to wipe Israel off the map by demographic, democratic means, and if they want their own state alongside Israel, it means they’re unwilling to live alongside Jews.

195

tony lynch 10.21.13 at 9:00 pm

Now I better understand the “logic” of exceptionalism.

196

Seth Gordon 10.21.13 at 9:07 pm

Collin, why did “the existence of ‘israel’” need to be “unimpeachable”? Out of the 193 member states of the United Nations, is there a single one that is not, in some sense or another, born in sin?

I’m all for a peaceful resolution to the I/P conflict and I’m all for recognizing that the Israeli side of 1948 was not blameless. But it amazes me how the question of whether or not Israel “should” exist or not is considered a fit subject for polite discussion in leftish circles, while the existence of, say, the Serbian and Czech Republics never get this kind of interrogation.

197

Bloix 10.21.13 at 9:12 pm

#166 – Ronan(rf) – of course the British intentions in Palestine were imperial. But the Jewish community was not part of the British imperial plan. The British had no interest in a settler state in Palestine – and certainly not one filled up with grubby and unreliable Jews (probably communists) from suspect places in Eastern Europe. When you think of British imperialism in the Middle East, think of Britain in Egypt or Persia, not in Africa.

The first thing the British did after they got control was to cut Palestine in half and set up a client state in the eastern half – confining the Jewish community to the western half, much to the Jews’ dismay. (The Jordan River has never been a natural border and both sides were part of the historic Land of Israel.)

Then they restricted immigration of Jews into the western half to prevent it from growing larger than the Arab population. Immigration controls were imposed from 1920. The White Paper of May 1939 (as adopted by the House of Commons) foresaw the end of Jewish immigration: it became official British policy that Jews should never exceed 1/3 of the population. Jewish immigration would be limited to 75,000 over five years, and then would cease altogether.

The White Paper stated, “His Majesty’s Government therefore now declare unequivocally that it is not part of their policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State.”

Instead, the goal was the “establishment within 10 years of an independent Palestine State in such treaty relations with the United Kingdom as will provide satisfactorily for the commercial and strategic requirements of both countries” – a client state that would be majority Arab. (I use the word “Arab” in line with contemporary usage – during the mandatory period “Palestinian” referred to all residents of Palestine, Arab and Jewish).

So in May 1939, the British declared that it had had enough of the Jewish National Home. They needed Arab support to secure the oil fields. They didn’t need any more riots in Palestine. So they made a public declaration that if the Arabs would just be patient and help out with this Hitler business, Palestine would eventually be an Arab state.

The implications of the White Paper were well understood. The Guardian called it “a death sentence on tens of thousands of Central European Jews” – which is erroneous only in that it was an understatement by two orders of magnitude.

And after the war the British really thought that they would be able to maintain their empire and they were planning to set up another client state in the chain from Egypt all the way to India. The Jews weren’t part of their plans – they were an irritant. The independence of Israel, as seen at the time, wasn’t a triumph of imperialism. It was part of its post-war collapse.

I’m not saying that Israel hasn’t functioned since then as a Western client state – it clearly did in the 1956 war, for example – although nowadays it’s an odd client state in that the US doesn’t get very much from being its sponsor.

All I’m saying is that Israel was not planted in the Middle East as a colonial outpost. There are middle eastern states that were established for colonial purposes and some of them still survive with their foreign-imposed regimes – Jordan and Kuwait, for example. Israel isn’t one of them. And you can see why Israelis get annoyed when people claim that they were put there in order to be puppets of the British.

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Collin Street 10.21.13 at 9:25 pm

Collin, why did “the existence of ‘israel’” need to be “unimpeachable”? Out of the 193 member states of the United Nations, is there a single one that is not, in some sense or another, born in sin?

It doesn’t, as far as I’m concerned. I mean, I’m australian, before every important ceremony we remind ourselves that the land we’re on is stolen. But if it’s not, then it’s vulnerable to conceptual attack/”delegitimisation” and it won’t do what the zionists want. Can’t have a secure refuge on shaky foundations.

The zionists claim that they need an absolutely-secure israel for the safety of all the world’s jews. And maybe they do: I’m not convinced myself, but I see how reasonable people could be. But the fact that they need an absolutely secure israel doesn’t make the actually-existing israel actually absolutely secure, is the problem. If you need X, and you have Y-that-resembles-X, you don’t have X and you don’t have that which you need X for either.

An israel that isn’t on a sound moral basis is essentially useless for the task of being a refuge for the jews of the world, and thus can’t be justified on the basis of there being a need for a refuge for the jews of the world. The zionists need israel to be better than most other countries because the zionists are trying to make israel israel do/be something most other countries aren’t.

199

adam.smith 10.21.13 at 9:28 pm

Re: SAT – I think the history is considerably more nuanced than Harold (and Bob Schaeffer – whose purpose it is to discredit the SAT) make it out to be. Here’s a different PBS interview:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/sats/interviews/lemann.html
with a very different perspective:

You said Carl Brigham wrote the SAT. Was he a racist?
Brigham was a reformed racist, basically. (…) Brigham wrote a book in 1923 called A Study of American Intelligence. This was based on his work on the Army Alpha Test. He analyzed the test results by race and found–as people who do that have always found–that people of color, Jews, Mediterraneans, anybody who wasn’t a kind of what he would call a Nordic, was inherently intellectually inferior. And that the country was in big trouble because two many of these people were coming into the country. So this book is a kind of very ripe, racist book by today’s standards, typical of establishment thinking of the time, although Brigham, you know, bothered to write it down. And it just stands up very well as an offensive piece of writing. Now, Brigham renounced it within about five years. To his great credit, he specifically disowned the book. He changed his mind, he broke with the eugenics movement and by the end of his life, was really one of the leading critics, of the eugenics movement. So he came around and deserves a lot of credit for that.

and on Conant

Conant had this kind of idealistic belief in creating a classless society. He was very, very tied to the idea of not favoring people who had been born into a privileged class, which is highly ironic today. (…) So in his meetings with Chauncey about the SAT he would say over and over again, according to Chauncey, “Now are you sure this isn’t an achievement test? Are you sure this is a pure aptitude test, pure intelligence? That’s what I want to measure, because that is the way I think we can give poor boys the best chance and take away the advantage of rich boys.”

I don’t know enough about the history to evaluate the partly contradictory claims, but I find the Lemann version more plausible (even if I agree with Schaeffer that getting rid of the SAT would probably be a good idea).

200

Hal 10.21.13 at 9:40 pm

Jerry @ 192,

“Israel is always going to be a place of refuge for Jews” is a total fantasy propagated by people who haven’t stopped to think what a world in which Jews need refuge from virtually ever place that isn’t Israel would look like. It’s wishful thinking, nothing more.

I think it is far more wishful to expect that after praying “next year in Jerusalem” for 2000 years, and barely 70 years after the Holocaust, that the Jews will suddenly abandon Israel in favour of a new political paradise on earth.

And yes, I know that you are Jewish (from a previous thread), but perhaps a bit overly optimistic… or is that just pessimism so full that it has come full circle?

201

Harold 10.21.13 at 9:41 pm

Perhaps somewhat overstated, but not very. The fact remains that the test was designed to measure an innate ability (nature) for which there is little evidence and to completely discount environmental factors (nurture).

The test was designed to replace prep-school preparation, which had hitherto been deemed sufficient, and thus simply reinforced the idea that those who had attended the prep schools were innately superior.

N.B. The whole notion of a meritocracy is quite repugnant to me (given the difficulty of assessing merit in the very short term), as is the idea of a nation state based on religion.

202

Ronan(rf) 10.21.13 at 9:49 pm

Bloix
But, without disputing the argument you’re making, my impression is that a lot of the white settlements in Africa functioned in much the same way ie private interests with their own agenda battling for the support of respective powers – without it happening in a concerted, planned way. Israel might have some unique charateristics, but there’s certainly some crossover with other examples of what we would call ‘settler colonialism’
I agree that the specific form western control took at that time in the Middle East doesn’t (in general) look like this, but the reality is still that Zionism is deeply tied up in British control of Palestine (even if the picture is more complex than titles like ‘settler colonialism’ would allow)
I wouldnt personally use the term because, I agree, it’s loaded. But I think it’s defensible. I think you can find moments that the British favoured each group, to a greater or lesser extent, and build some sort of narrative from there. And I think that Israeli’s should recognise that for some it’s going to be seen as a colonial project, even if it’s not for them

203

Bruce Wilder 10.21.13 at 9:53 pm

The Zionist project developed in the 19th century, when multi-ethnic Empires, ruled by hereditary aristocracies, dominated international politics, and nation-states and republics were mostly aspirational, if not utopian. The Ottoman imperial politics of Palestine revolved around whether Russian would “protect” the Ottoman Empire’s Orthodox Christians and sponsor Orthodox control of Christian shrines, or whether the French would “protect” Catholic control of Christian shrines. Aside from the realpolitiks of a Russian warm-water port, that was what the Crimean War was about — a clash between the French and Russian Emperors, over who would claim the prestige of being the Protector of Christian Holy Places, acknowledged by the Sultan (not to mention the patronage opportunities associated with being able to intervene in various church hierarchies). It wasn’t uncommon for various ethnic and religious minority groups to be granted divisive privileges, as part of an imperial policy of divisa et impera, aimed at partially satisfying nationalist aspirations or wholly subverting them; while, internationally, liberal groups, as well as brethren of oppressed minorities, often sought a champion to protest ill-treatment or press for protection and privilege. It wasn’t uncommon for the U.S., U.K. or France, for example, to protest a pogrom to the Czar; the Russians, then as now, would protect the Serbs, no matter how ill-mannered — a habit that sparked World War I.

Anyway, the point is that Israel was conceived to be a useful champion for Jews, as a “nationality”, resolving what had been their ambiguous status in the rising liberal nationalisms — and decaying imperialisms — of Europe. It wasn’t a crazy idea, in that world. And, the example of the holocaust was not yet available, even as hyperbole, let alone as a horrible precedent or proof that anti-Semitism was a particular evil uniquely without limits.

Liberal nationalism, back in the day, seldom worried much about the risk of creating an undemocratic ethnocracy. The Left still have an ambiguous taboo associated with acknowledging the problem, which is hardly limited to Israel and Palestine.

204

Asteele 10.21.13 at 9:56 pm

If the Czech Republic had 10 million displaced polish refugees inside and outside the territory it controls, and claimed it couldn’t let them become citizins because it would destroy the Czech nature of the country. People we would totally be talking about if it should continue to exsist in its current form.

205

Bruce Wilder 10.21.13 at 10:01 pm

Collin Street @ 198

“absolutely-secure” is not reasonable, pretty much by definition of “reasonable”. Some might consider the unreason involved revelatory of a self-destructive dynamic at work.

206

Ronan(rf) 10.21.13 at 10:01 pm

..I dont know enough about the history of Zionism or the Mandate period etc though.

Was there ever a moment in the years before the 48 war when a bi national state looked feasible? Did Zionism morph into something different (more violent, less inclusive?) after the mandate years?

207

Bruce Wilder 10.21.13 at 10:07 pm

Asteele @ 204

You have heard of Sudety?

208

Bloix 10.21.13 at 10:31 pm

Ronan – see the sarcastic comment of GiT at 121 –

“when British assumption of the Palestinian Mandate and its sovereign control over migration from 1918 until ’48 coincide with a sevenfold or so increase in the Jewish population of mandatory Palestine. That looks like Western colonialism by the dominant Western colonial power all the way through … But hey, I guess the UN (nothing Western or imperialist about that!) decided something in 1947, so that’s where it all starts.”

Or Jacques Distler in #132, which is where I got started.

There are a lot of people who believe that Zionism was a British colonial project and that the British actively encouraged Jewish immigration to mandatory Palestine, as they encouraged immigration to, say, New Zealand.

This is simply not true, and it’s profoundly offensive to Israelis who grew up on stories of their Holocaust survivor grandparents being interned in camps on Cyprus after the war, of the sinking of the Struma- a refugee ship from Romania – in the Black Sea in 1942, and similar stories. The struggle against the British – particularly through illegal immigration – during the mandate is central to the founding story of the Israeli state.

When people claim that of course Israel is a colonial settler state that was sponsored by the British, Israelis and supporters of Israel tend to shut down. They feel they are talking to people who can’t be reasoned with and they take strong personal offense at being called puppets of a nation they view as an enemy that betrayed them, and that they then fought and defeated.

209

Harold 10.21.13 at 10:52 pm

http://www.amazon.com/Personal-History-Vincent-Sheean/dp/0395081866

New York University’s Journalism Department named James Vincent Sheean’s 1935 book one of the 100 best works of twentieth-century American journalism.

“Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum”

210

godoggo 10.21.13 at 11:20 pm

I think the main organization calling for a binational state was Brit Shalom, but I think there were never enough supporters for it to be plausible. I think you can find quotes by people like Ben Gurion saying the plan was to expel most of the Arabs fairly early on. I think. They didn’t expect them to be in refugee camps 60 years later though.

211

godoggo 10.21.13 at 11:27 pm

I’m going by my memory of some liberry books I read a long time ago. However, I do have this book on Jewish Life in the Middle Ages that I got at the thrift store here, so if anyone wants to know about that, shoot.

212

Ronan(rf) 10.21.13 at 11:31 pm

What was Jewish life like in the Middle Ages?

213

godoggo 10.21.13 at 11:34 pm

A lot of tsuris.

214

Hektor Bim 10.21.13 at 11:45 pm

Colin,

Liberal Zionists in general, as far as I can tell, don’t support the settlements. They just aren’t in power right now and haven’t been for a long time. I’m thinking here of Grossman or Amos Oz as examples.

215

Hektor Bim 10.22.13 at 12:04 am

To expand on the Czech Republic question, Czechoslovakia expelled its German population after the war through a series of brutal actions. Unlike the Israelis, they were supported and encouraged in this by the Great Powers of the time. In total several million ethnic Germans were expelled, a comparable number to the Palestinians. The Czechs were more efficient than the Israelis and essentially destroyed the sizable German minority. To this day, at the insistence of the Czech government, the Benes decrees authorizing collective punishment and expulsion are on the books and legally in force, despite being in fragrant contradiction with EU human rights law. It could be a major future problem for the EU allowing mass deportation of undesirables.

So the main difference between the Czech and Israeli cases are

1. The Israelis weren’t as comprehensive in their forced deportation
2. The German and Austrian governments did not maintain refugee camps for the refugees and make them and their descendants stateless, unlike the surrounding Arab countries except Jordan did to the Palestinians.

Until 1967, the Israelis look better than the Czechs in the comparison.

With the occupation of the West Bank, things look bad for Israel.

If Germany and Austria had forced the German refugees to be stateless, we would be talking about the Sudeten German refugee problem today.

216

Ronan(rf) 10.22.13 at 12:55 am

Although Tom Segev, in One Palestine Complete, seems to dispute the specifics of the story told above by Bloix?
I havent read it, anyone know more about what role the British played during the Mandate..

217

LFC 10.22.13 at 12:56 am

Unfortunately have not been able today to keep up w/ and absorb all this, but:

@bianca 168: if you determine to yr satisfaction that that Wiki page is in error there, change it. That’s what Wikipedia is supposed to be all about.

@kaveh 194: “if they [Palestinians] want their own state alongside Israel, it means they’re unwilling to live alongside Jews”
No. Both the PA and the Israeli govt support the idea of 2 states. The problem is they haven’t been able to agree on the details of what that wd mean, and part — not all, but part — of the reason they haven’t is that the I/P conflict comes encrusted or caparisoned with a huge amt of bitter history on all sides, as this thread itself makes rather clear. Israel made a bad mistake — moral, legal, and otherwise — when it occupied the WB after ’67 and then encouraged settlement. Now things are where they are, as others have said, and the two sides just have to try to find a reasonable solution. In theory, it shd not be that difficult — a Martian looking at most of the outstanding issues prob wd be puzzled at why an agreement has not been reached yrs ago — but in practice it hasn’t happened. And now they’re trying again, and one of the best hopes for an agreement now is that John Kerry wants to go down in history as the Sec of State who catalyzed an end to the most intractable conflict
of his era. Whether that will help, or be enough, remains to be seen.

218

Hal 10.22.13 at 1:03 am

A correction, Hektor. The number of Palestinian Arabs displaced (fled or expelled after the Israeli declaration of statehood) is estimated at 711,000: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_refugee
Ethnic Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after 1945 [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudeten_Germans ] are estimated at 3 million. (The number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries is estimated at between 800,000 and 1 million : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_exodus_from_Arab_and_Muslim_countries )

The other difference is that the Palestinians remain officially “refugees” in perpetuity and they are the only group whose descendants also, automatically, become “refugees” according to UN rules, and have their own UN refugee agency (UNRWA). On the other hand (actually, “on the same hand” would be more accurate) they are forbidden citizenship in most Arab countries or even work permits in some (e.g. Lebanon). Thus the injustice committed by Israel in 1948 continues to be compounded against the Palestinians so as to use them, perversely, as a cudgel against Israel. The I/P conflict is exceptional in many ways!

219

Ronan(rf) 10.22.13 at 1:11 am

Hal – It’s commonly accepted that the Arab regimes havent (generally) dealt with the Palestinian refugees crisis well and often used the Palestinian situation for their own domestic gain etc
But it’s very difficult to deal with those sorts of population transfers, particularly in Lebanon, where it caused significant trouble

220

Ronan(rf) 10.22.13 at 1:15 am

Also not sure what the ethnic cleansing of Germans in post war Europe has to do with it, in general?

221

LFC 10.22.13 at 1:26 am

Hektor @215
If Germany and Austria had forced the German refugees to be stateless, we would be talking about the Sudeten German refugee problem today.

You need to answer this question, Hektor, to make your argument convincing, at least to me: If Egypt and Syria and other Arab countries had offered to take in all the Palestinians displaced from their homes as a result of the ’48 war (for which displacement I think there’s blame to go around for all sides), would the Palestinians have gone, or wd they have said: No, we don’t want to go to Egypt or Syria or even Jordan, b/c those are not our countries.

When I was growing up (in the 60s/70s), I repeatedly heard the argument that the Arab states created the Palestinian refugee issue/’problem’ by refusing to take them in. They wanted the refugees to exist as refugees (i.e, as stateless) to use them as a weapon, in propaganda and other senses, against Israel — so the argument ran. And I always wanted to say in response: What about asking the Palestinians what they want? Have you ever thought of that? But I often didn’t, b/c I was afraid of causing dissension and being told to shut up or whatever. There were lots of political disagreements one cd have, but there were some lines that one (or that I) thought twice about crossing, at least as a kid.

Ok, this has nothing much to do w anything, just yr comment triggered some memories of long-ago conversations, etc…

222

Kaveh 10.22.13 at 2:03 am

LFC @217 That comment was meant to be snarky, to point out how enough (confirmation & other) bias can make anything Palestinians do look unreasonable.

@219 & 221 I’ve heard (I don’t know how well this is verified, but it makes sense) that one reason Arab states didn’t give citizenship to Palestinian refugees, at least in the 50s-70s, was that they were afraid that Israel had grand, expansionist designs, and that accepting refugees would just encourage Israel to kick out more Palestinians. It’s not just that they would absorb hundreds of thousands of refugees, but that doing so would guarantee they would absorb even more later, and make Israel more powerful. Given that Israel is still trying to expand throughout the West Bank, their fears weren’t totally unfounded. So it’s not wrong that they were perpetuating Palestinians’ statelessness as a weapon against Israel, but this strategy was perhaps not as cynical as it sounds.

223

Asteele 10.22.13 at 2:07 am

I’m fully aware of what happened of what took place after WWII, but German refugees are not an ongoing concern. Also as both countries are EU members, their descendants can travel and work freely in the Czech Republic. If that were the case in I/P no one would be talking about how Israel can’t continue in its current form.

224

LFC 10.22.13 at 2:46 am

Kaveh: oh, ok; my snark detector wasn’t working.

225

Hector_St_Clare 10.22.13 at 4:25 am

The apologists for the rogue state of Israel are really out in force tonight, I see.

226

js. 10.22.13 at 4:35 am

Let’s say I accept everything that Bloix says. It just shows that Israel wasn’t and isn’t a settler colonialist state that was established/promoted by the British. It doesn’t show that it’s not a settler colonialist state. Or at least I don’t see how it does.

More importantly though, obviously Israel “should exist” just as much as the US should or Australia should (in quotes only because it’s a bizarre phrase/idea that I’d prefer not to use and am using only in reference to other commenters’ use of it). The question is just the form it can exist in while continuing to legitimately call itself a democratic state. I guess I think that if it wants to be a democratic state then it should be a properly secular-democratic state where members of the population get equal citizenship rights regardless of religion or ethnicity. This could surely be combined with special immigration rights for non-Israeli Jews (as exist now)—tho I could see how this could cause problems with regard to other groups being denied such rights. Anyway, I don’t see why it need be an insurmountable business—you could surely have some jus sanguinis-ish thing combined with a fully secular democracy.

227

js. 10.22.13 at 4:42 am

Finally, there seems to be this idea that the two-state solution is, well what—more realististic? more feasible? more something or other?* Whereas the one-state solution is somehow pipe-dreamy. Which… seems exactly backwards? Maybe it was more feasible in the 70s or such (for some value of “feasible”), but if you look at how the settlements are connected to Israel proper, the land-use and road systems, etc., and how well-established the infrastructure is, it just seems a bizarre idea that you could uproot all these communities and infrastructure to create a new state that the people who are to be your future resident-citizens would be furiously opposed to.

*Where I’d exclude more just. That’s an argument I’d disagree with, but at least it makes sense.

228

Josh G. 10.22.13 at 5:54 am

Watson Ladd @ 153: “How about the quota system in the 20th century? Westchester country club was only desegregated postwar, and we are talking about Westchester!

How relevant was any of this to ordinary, middle-class Jewish Americans? If the worst examples of U.S. anti-Jewish prejudice you can come up with are that a handful of elite Jews had trouble getting into the best country clubs and most exclusive colleges, then that’s pretty weak sauce. And there is absolutely no reason to think that the end of these forms of discrimination were due to Israel. It was, instead, a result of racism being discredited among right-thinking people by WWII, as well as the more general decline of the old-line WASP establishment in that same time period.

Harold @ 159: “It is quite a statement to say that US Jews were doing ‘just fine’ in the USA prior to 1948 — and even after 1948, since it can be argued that only after 1960 did the tide begin to turn. The SAT tests, which is supposed to measure an indefinable quality called ‘aptitude’, was openly devised as a way to keep Jews out of college, banking, and the professions, as Jews were not considered ‘gentlemen’ (they studied, which was cheating and showed they were not ’rounded’).

Huh? This is almost exactly backward. In the period where the top Ivies had quotas on Jews, this was usually enforced by making the admissions criteria more fuzzy and “holistic”. For instance, according to Wikipedia, “Yale [in the 1920s] had begun to incorporate such amorphous criteria as ‘character’ and ‘solidity’, as well as ‘physical characteristics’, into its admissions process as an excuse for screening out Jewish students”. In contrast, using the SAT as an admissions tool was advocated by those who wanted a strict meritocracy and to end bias against Jews in college admissions. Throughout most of the 20th century, Jewish American scores on the SAT averaged considerably higher than those of most other ethnic groups.

Incidentally, there is a substantial amount of evidence that top U.S. universities today discriminate in favor of Jews and against Asian-American applicants.

229

adam.smith 10.22.13 at 6:06 am

Josh G. – no, Unz’s evidence for pro-Jewish discrimination in college admission is very much not substantial, see e.g. http://andrewgelman.com/2013/02/12/that-claim-that-harvard-admissions-discriminate-in-favor-of-jews-after-checking-the-statistics-maybe-not/
the other side of his claim – the oft cited “Asians are the new Jews” (in College admissions) – seems much better supported.
Not that this matters much for the question at hand, but I think it’s always worthwhile to link to debunking of shoddy statistical work.

230

MPAVictoria 10.22.13 at 12:55 pm

“The apologists for the rogue state of Israel are really out in force tonight”
Is China a rogue state? Is Pakistan? Is India?

231

Seth Gordon 10.22.13 at 1:25 pm

An israel that isn’t on a sound moral basis is essentially useless for the task of being a refuge for the jews of the world, and thus can’t be justified on the basis of there being a need for a refuge for the jews of the world.

Before Israel was a sovereign state, the question of whether a national homeland for the Jews should exist, and under what conditions, was a moral question for the entire world (or at least, for the Great Powers of the world). Now that it is has been founded, Israel, like any other sovereign state, has the right to invite or refuse immigrants on any basis, and as long as it continues to exist as a sovereign state, the rest of the world is free to stop caring about the whole refuge-for-the-Jews issue. When Israel deported the Jewish mobster Meyer Lansky to the US, Lansky didn’t go to the United Nations and say “hey, Israel is supposed to be a refuge for the Jews, and I’m a Jew, and they’re not giving me refuge”.

The only thing that stands between “Israel is a Jewish state” and “Israel is a Buddhist state” is sixty-one votes in the Knesset.

232

Mao Cheng Ji 10.22.13 at 3:05 pm

“Is China a rogue state? Is Pakistan? Is India?”

China, Pakistan, and India are now controlled by their native populations. Palestine is still controlled by Europeans, and most of the native population is expelled or deprived of all political rights and citizenship. They are stateless. That’s a very particular situation, for the 21st century. I don’t think the words “rogue” and “state” describe it well.

233

MPAVictoria 10.22.13 at 3:13 pm

“China, Pakistan, and India are now controlled by their native populations.”

*Cough Tibet Cough

234

Ronan(rf) 10.22.13 at 3:16 pm

Israel’s human rights record is no better than China, India and Pakistan

Sure. I’ll go with that

235

MPAVictoria 10.22.13 at 3:22 pm

“Israel’s human rights record is no better than China, India and Pakistan”

This could be true but we spend much more time talking about Israel.

236

Ronan(rf) 10.22.13 at 3:25 pm

But next to nobody mounts defences of China, India and Pakistan on their human rights records the way Israel’s supporters do
And the oversized presence Israel has in the ‘publi discourse’ (or whatever) is as much to do with Israel’s boosters and it’s unrelenting PR machine as it is Israel critics

237

MPAVictoria 10.22.13 at 3:31 pm

“And the oversized presence Israel has in the ‘publi discourse’ (or whatever) is as much to do with Israel’s boosters and it’s unrelenting PR machine as it is Israel critics”

I am less sure of this than you are. I would classify China’s record on human rights to be beyond appalling and yet there is no high profile campaign to boycott Chinese Academics.

238

Niall McAuley 10.22.13 at 3:34 pm

Mao writes:Palestine is still controlled by Europeans

Interesting, what are their names?

239

Mao Cheng Ji 10.22.13 at 3:47 pm

“Cough Tibet Cough”

Tibet Cough what? People of Tibet are full-fledged citizens of China. They have not been made stateless and kept behind the wall, or expelled – for being goys.

240

Ronan(rf) 10.22.13 at 3:52 pm

@237

But why does that matter?
Equally, the US govt is still more likely (at this moment) to criticise China or Pakistan (maybe not India) for human rights abuses than it is Israel.
These things dont really happen with any moral consistency, and I guess are dependant on any number of factors specific to the context (relationships between western activists and those in Palestine, a history of US involvement in the region, less of a language/cultural barrier, more explicitly pro Israel figures openly in the US media/congress, ties between the Jewish diaspora and Israeli’s..etc)
Why does it matter if one thing gets spoken about more often than another? It doesnt say anything about the situation itself

241

MPAVictoria 10.22.13 at 4:04 pm

“But why does that matter?
Equally, the US govt is still more likely (at this moment) to criticise China or Pakistan (maybe not India) for human rights abuses than it is Israel.
These things dont really happen with any moral consistency, and I guess are dependant on any number of factors specific to the context (relationships between western activists and those in Palestine, a history of US involvement in the region, less of a language/cultural barrier, more explicitly pro Israel figures openly in the US media/congress, ties between the Jewish diaspora and Israeli’s..etc)
Why does it matter if one thing gets spoken about more often than another? It doesnt say anything about the situation itself”

You are right it doesn’t really matter. I just find it interesting and am curious as to why.

242

MPAVictoria 10.22.13 at 4:05 pm

“People of Tibet are full-fledged citizens of China.”

You crack me up.

243

Mao Cheng Ji 10.22.13 at 4:19 pm

Care to elaborate?

244

Hal 10.22.13 at 4:36 pm

Ronan @236,

And the oversized presence Israel has in the ‘publi discourse’ (or whatever) is as much to do with Israel’s boosters and it’s unrelenting PR machine as it is Israel critics

Chicken and egg.

I suspect that Israel’s defenders would gladly refrain from coming on threads like this to stanch the stream of calumnies that emanate from the bien-pensants (let’s not even mention the mal-pensants… at least one clearly evident above) these days. In fact we would probably prefer if Israel were less mentioned than, say, Switzerland, and only on the inside pages. But you’ve got to credit the Palestinians for a remarkable campaign to keep their cause (a cause I strongly support in principle, in case it wasn’t clear) on the front pages. Of course, it helps when Middle Eastern tyrants find the Palestinian cause useful in deflecting attention from their own actions, though in light of the wars, massacres and slaughter across North Africa, the Middle East and all the way into Pakistan, the argument that absent Israel there would be peace on earth seems to have lost its force. As for why it ever had any, I think you can probably deduce my thoughts from this and previous comments.

245

MPAVictoria 10.22.13 at 4:44 pm

“Care to elaborate?”

Are you serious? I mean there is this thing called the internet….

/Start here: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43399&Cr=China&Cr1

246

Ronan(rf) 10.22.13 at 4:45 pm

Hal – The Israeli state spends a huge amount of money lobbying foreign governments, selling PR, influencing newspapers and opinion formers etc
Im not talking about pro Israeli internet commentators but public officials, newspaper columnists, talking heads who take the bulls**t peddled by the Israeli PR machine at face value
This didnt happen with Saddam. Doesnt happen with Assad. Mubarak was seen as a neccessary evil. Ahmadinejad as the root of all evil
Who the hell is stiking up for other dictators in the region?

247

Ronan(rf) 10.22.13 at 4:45 pm

..skip the *other*.. Who the hell is stiking up for the dictators in the region?

248

Mao Cheng Ji 10.22.13 at 5:11 pm

MPAVictoria, I don’t need your links about allegations. Are you insisting that people of Tibet are not Chinese citizens?

Almost every state on Earth has separatist movements, and China is not an exception. In fact, since you seem so concerned, the Uyghur separatism is probably more serious than the Tibetan one. But I don’t know any other post-WWII story (and perhaps since the colonization of the Americas) similar to the story of Palestine.

Or is this for you a case of “nothing can seem foul to those that win”? That’s fine with me, I’d prefer it this way. Clarity. It’s the liberal Zionists that annoy me. I mean, a bit of hypocrisy or self-delusion (whatever it is) is okay, but there has to be a limit.

249

Ronan(rf) 10.22.13 at 5:15 pm

“But I don’t know any other post-WWII story (and perhaps since the colonization of the Americas) similar to the story of Palestine”

What about Pakistan

http://twocircles.net/2013sep12/book_review_muslim_zion_pakistan_political_idea.html

250

Hal 10.22.13 at 5:29 pm

Ronan, Israel probably finds it necessary to engage in the public forum for the same reason it finds it necessary to spend such a large portion of its budget on certain things. It’s called defence. I suspect that they would prefer to spend the time and money on more productive matters, but some people would like to see Israel (to borrow the familiar Iranian slogan) “wiped from the map”. And, having learned a hard lesson from some 70 years ago, the Jews are no longer willing to cooperate.

251

MPAVictoria 10.22.13 at 5:29 pm

“I don’t need your links about allegations.”

Allegations? If Tibetans were actually considered Chinese citizens by the Chinese Government they would not be treated the way they are being treated.

252

Mao Cheng Ji 10.22.13 at 5:36 pm

I don’t know much about Pakistan, but wasn’t it an internal conflict? It’s not like a group of people came from faraway places and declared it their exclusive ethno-religious club, the locals need not apply.

253

Mao Cheng Ji 10.22.13 at 5:38 pm

Tibetans are treated just like any other Chinese citizens. Tibetan separatists are treated like separatists.

254

MPAVictoria 10.22.13 at 5:41 pm

“Tibetans are treated just like any other Chinese citizens.”

This is a lie. Whats more you know it is a lie.

255

Ronan(rf) 10.22.13 at 5:43 pm

@252

I dont know either, it was more a question (forgot the ?) than a statement

Afaik people came from places further away and as culturally distinct as the early Zionist settlers. And the state was built primarily around religious identification rather than any homogenous ethnicity
Im not sure though

256

js. 10.22.13 at 5:49 pm

Ronan,

Perry Anderson had a series of _very long_ articles on the subcontinent/partition/etc. in the LRB a year or so ago (I think). His take is, let’s say, not the standard one, but they’re well worth reading. (Anyway, talking about the Muslim League in isolation from what was going on with the Congress leadership and the overall shape of the independence movement is at least a bit odd.)

(Sorry, bit OT.)

257

lurker 10.22.13 at 5:53 pm

@Ronan, 255
You mean these people: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhajir_people

258

Ronan(rf) 10.22.13 at 6:25 pm

js, lurker
Thanks.re Perry Anderson, Yeah I read the first one but not the others yet. I’m going to start into them now.
I really dont know anything about the history and am just badly recollecting this Faisal Devji talk (there’s a book conneted to it as well I havent read)

259

Hector_St_Clare 10.22.13 at 6:29 pm

Re: It’s not like a group of people came from faraway places and declared it their exclusive ethno-religious club, the locals need not apply.

Uh, lots of Pakistanis did come from faraway places (and plenty of locals ended up leaving). Muhammed Ali Jinnah and Pervez Musharraf were both born outside Pakistan, to take two semi-famous examples, as were quite a lot of the Pakistani elites. It’s true that they aren’t the majority, of course (though it’s also true that at this point, most Israelis have been there for a couple generations).

260

Hector_St_Clare 10.22.13 at 6:32 pm

Ronan,

Ethnicity in South Asia is a slippery concept, since it maps partly onto language and partly onto caste (and in the case of Muslims, maybe onto religion as well), but you’re right that Pakistan was in no way ethnically homogeneous (neither, of course, is India).

261

Mao Cheng Ji 10.22.13 at 8:30 pm

Musharraf, wikipedia tells me, was born in Delhi. The same country, up to the time of the partition. In other words, an internal Indian matter. I don’t see how this is similar to Polish, German, and American Judaism followers conquering and colonizing Palestine and establishing a regime that excludes a vast majority of the local population.

262

LFC 10.22.13 at 8:57 pm

@Mao C.J.:
Your remarks about Tibet are deliberately obtuse. There’s no other way to explain them. A glance at the link provided by MPAVictoria @245 shows that the “allegations” are in fact more than allegations; the word in this context is polite UN-speak covering, inter alia, rights violations that have indeed occurred.

All separatist movements are not exactly the same. There are different contexts, histories, etc. So your claim that Tibet is just another separatist mvt, which nearly all states have, is flimsy at best. The PRC invaded and “incorporated” Tibet in 1950, but the ‘incorporation’ has never fully taken for a variety of reasons and the PRC has engaged in continual rights violations and the transfer of significant numbers of Han Chinese to the region. (Ok, now you can get back to the rather fruitless, ISTM, I/P discussion.)

263

Hector_St_Clare 10.22.13 at 9:07 pm

Re: Your remarks about Tibet are deliberately obtuse

His remarks about India-Pakistan are pretty obtuse as well (and I’m not an expert on that part of the world by any means, but I know more about it than either China or Israel/Palestine).

Of course, the big difference between Israel and China is that while China may be a rogue, 1) they’re too big of a rogue for outside criticism to have much effect on them, and 2) I tend to expect better things from the State of Israel than I do from China, given that a lot of modern Euro-American morality (including about the conduct of war, etc,) has roots in Jewish culture and religion (as it does in other cultures like the Greeks).

264

Asteele 10.22.13 at 9:20 pm

Tibet is part of china. Tibetans are Chinese citizins. They have the same rights as other Chinese citizins. None of this is true for Palestinians their aren’t millions of Stateless Tibetan refugees.

265

Hector_St_Clare 10.22.13 at 9:33 pm

Arguments about China aside, the issue here is that the Israeli occupation has reduced the Palestinian population to a standard of living comparable to Sub-Saharan Africa (in what used to be known as one of the more advanced parts of the Arab world).

India, Pakistan and China all have lots of people living in abysmal conditions, many of them much worse off than the average Palestinian, but none of them is a First World country with a large minority of their population living under Fourth World conditions.

266

Mao Cheng Ji 10.22.13 at 9:56 pm

@LFC,
My remarks about Tibet are just fine, as you pretty much admit in your comment. A Tibetan individual is a full-fledged Chinese citizen, all the issues rising from historical underdevelopment, religious fanaticism, and separatism notwithstanding. May I suggest that perhaps my comments give you the impression of being obtuse because you may be, perhaps, slightly brainwashed?

267

Mao Cheng Ji 10.22.13 at 9:58 pm

“His remarks about India-Pakistan are pretty obtuse as well ”

Care to elaborate?

268

Kaveh 10.23.13 at 12:03 am

This follow-up to the subject of the OP might be of interest: One gets the sense that Alterman is being not just really unfair to Blumenthal, but flat-out dishonest.

269

Hektor Bim 10.23.13 at 12:03 am

Asteele,

“I’m fully aware of what happened of what took place after WWII, but German refugees are not an ongoing concern.” Which was precisely my point. But this wasn’t due to any actions on the part of the Czech government. They were not going to accept the Sudeten Germans back. Had Arab countries surrounding Israel made the same calculation, we wouldn’t have an international Palestinian refugee problem. Don’t blame me on this one, you are the one who brought up the Czechs.

270

Hektor Bim 10.23.13 at 12:05 am

Kaveh,

I’m going to call you a bit on your defense of Arab countries’ motives. Keeping them stateless and shoving their care onto the the UN also meant that they didn’t have to pay or support them as citizens of their country. In the case of Lebanon, it also meant that the largely Sunni Palestinians would not upset the religious balance.

How do you explain the actions of Jordan, which did grant them citizenship, then?

271

Kaveh 10.23.13 at 12:09 am

@270 I agree, & I wasn’t saying the motives were totally pure (I doubt they were), or that those other motives I mentioned were the only ones, I just wanted to add some more context.

272

Asteele 10.23.13 at 12:17 am

Yes Hektor if things were different in 1948, they’d be different now.

273

Ronan(rf) 10.23.13 at 1:12 am

I’m not sure I’ve seen a review of Blumenthal’s book that isnt just stressing how brave he is or how idiotic his interlocutor’s are. Doesnt speak very highly of it. It seems to be 76 odd chapters as well, which is bizzarre

Hector St Clare
How central was/is Islam to the Pakistani state, do you know? Did it funtion in ways similar to that of Judaism in Israel, or is it just an outgrowth of the break from India and the need for a unifying identity?

js
There’s atually a review of P Anderson’s new book in the Foreign Affairs that Henry’s article is in, although it’s behind a paywall (if you want it and dont have access leave me know and I can email it on)

274

MPAVictoria 10.23.13 at 1:15 am

“Tibet is part of china”

No it isn’t. At least not under international law. Tibet was an independent country occupied by force by a foreign power.

“They have the same rights as other Chinese citizins.”

No they most certainly do not.
Did you and Mao even read the link? Is the Chinese government paying you or something?

275

Kaveh 10.23.13 at 1:41 am

Ronan @273 I posted that link b/c I thought it illustrative of the state of discussion, and as more evidence of the huge Palestine blindspot among the left. That total demolition of Alterman’s review would be uninteresting if Alterman weren’t otherwise excellent; Weiss’ critiques of Terry Gross are interesting in the same way. But it would be nice to read a really informative review of the actual book!

276

LFC 10.23.13 at 3:01 am

Mao Cheng Ji @266
all the issues rising from historical underdevelopment, religious fanaticism, and separatism notwithstanding

I love the phrase “religious fanaticism” here. In your view, all religious belief is fanaticism; therefore Tibetan Buddhists are necessarily religious fanatics. QED.

Btw, how do you feel about the Naxalite separatists in India? Bit hard there to charge “religious fanaticism” against Maoists, eh?

277

godoggo 10.23.13 at 3:13 am

I seem to recall someone posting somewhere about how irritating he found it when people talked about “how good Alterman is.”

278

anon 10.23.13 at 3:16 am

Why hasn’t anyone brought up the fact that JORDAN is over 70% ethnic Palestinian? Are you all fans of King Abdullah and think that he should remain in power because the UK put his granpa on the throne there?

Why hasn’t anyone mentioned that the Saudis threw out the Hashemites and took over THEIR land?

And when you guys bring up ethnic cleansing in America and Australia why don’t you mention Canada and New Zealand?

Yup … it sure is a shame that Lebanon and Syria and Jordan won’t let their Palestinian refugees be citizens there. And it is certainly understandable why the Palestinians would much rather be Israelis than any of them.

Just think what the Palestinians could have built if Arafat didn’t walk away from the table back in the late 1990’s! My guess it is folks like you, who think the Israelis are just going to pack up and go home to America, that encourage them to ‘fight for justice’. How well has THAT worked out?

I know, any day now the Israelis will crack. Or the US will stop supporting them. Or something. You folks have been believing that for years. Do you really think it is going to happen? I guess you do.

So do me a big favor. When you are all on your death beds, surrounded by your loved ones seriously freaking out because in a few moment you won’t be around, don’t tell them how much you love them all … instead curse the Israelis with your final breath.

That certainly did wonders for Iain Banks. His dying wish was that Israel somehow be removed from reality. It turns out, as best as I can tell, that Israel still exists. And Iain Banks doesn’t.

279

Substance McGravitas 10.23.13 at 3:38 am

So do me a big favor.

How could I not when asked with such sweetness?

280

js. 10.23.13 at 3:59 am

Let us grant that China is a far worse violator of human rights vis-a-vis Tibetans than Israel is with regard to Palestinians. Indeed, it is hereby granted! What follows? You want to say then that we (for some value of “we”) are wrong to criticize Israel for its crimes? That argument is structurally identical to this one: “How dare you go on and on about misogyny in North America? Look, they stone women to death in Afghanistan!” Is _that_ the form of argument you seriously want to forward? (Oh, and Hector: just stay out of this one, please.)

It makes a hell of a lot of sense as an American citizen to focus one’s energies on Israel rather than China because the former and only the former relies heavily on US support for its international clout (like, e.g., de facto veto power in the UNSC). And the idea that AIPAC* and it has helped work is purely a consequence of PLO’s awesome PR campaign would be laughable if the consequences weren’t so dire.

ps. Kaveh @268: That Mondoweiss piece is damning. It also seems exceptionally dishonest because it’s a blog post, so hey, no Nation sub is going go over this, so let me just wildly misquote, misattribute quotes, and fail to provide and context!

*This is just synecdoche here. And to avoid further misunderstanding, I’m not positing some sort of weird conspiracy. The respective lobbies and institutions operate completely openly and with fairly explicit agendas. Their respective pulls are also entirely out in the open.

281

js. 10.23.13 at 4:10 am

…the idea that AIPAC and _what_ it has helped work…. (sorry).

Ronan,

Yeah, that would be great. How do I get you my email address? I mean I guess I can just post it here but I kinda like the sorta-pseudonymous thing I’ve got going on here.

Also, yeah, Pakistan was pretty much conceived of as a—indeed, _the_—state for Muslims in the independent subcontinent. In at least some quarters, the blame* for this is mostly assigned to Jinnah/the Muslim League. What’s striking, and somewhat jarring, about Anderson’s take is that he lays the blame on Gandhi for conceptualizing (the future) India in such a way that Muslims had no place in it essentially if they held on to their Muslim identity. I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that for the mainstream Indian left, this is beyond anathema—it’s sacrilege levels. (They’re happy to blame other elements in Congress tho.)

*Obviously, for many quarters, “blame” is not an issue that arises in this context.

282

Hector_St_Clare 10.23.13 at 5:13 am

JS,

Gandhi was an odd duck in lots of different ways, and it’s hard to figure our what exactly his vision for India was, and what role Muslims would play in it. There’s no denying that there were *other* forces in India in the 1930s and 1940s however, that dreamed of an explicitly Hindu state, drew inspiration to some degree from European Fascism, and viewed Muslims as foreign interlopers at best. If Savarkar and the Hindu nationalists has never come on the scene, maybe Jinnah’s Two Nation theory would never have gotten off the ground.

283

Hector_St_Clare 10.23.13 at 5:17 am

Ronan,

Jinnah himself was a non practicing Muslim, who liked pork and alcohol, who was thoroughly westernized and apparently had to give his inauguration speech in English because he wasn’t fluent in Urdu. I don’t think he planned Pakistan to be a Muslim state at all, rather he expected it would be a state *for Muslims*. In the event, it turned out to be a disaster, but I don’t know that it was foreseeable on advance.

284

luc 10.23.13 at 5:20 am

The Tibet issue is again a useless distraction. As for the status of Tibet vs Palestine,

China (and the rest of the world) think Tibet is part of China, Israel (and again the rest of the world) consider (large parts of) Palestine not part of Israel.

Consistent with IL, and for example the position of a random country:

“The United States recognizes the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan autonomous prefectures and counties in other provinces to be a part of the People’s Republic of China.”

285

js. 10.23.13 at 5:23 am

Dude, Hector, it’s not like I don’t know the history of the RSS, Mahasabha, etc. You might want to check out the Anderson before giving me Hindu Nationalism 101.

286

Collin Street 10.23.13 at 5:41 am

Incidentally, a litany of crimes committed against tibetans by the chinese government doesn’t show that tibetans are second-class citizens in china.

It’s perfectly possible, for example, that all chinese citizens get treated like that, Han and manchu and what-have-you alike.

287

Mao Cheng Ji 10.23.13 at 7:05 am

MPAVictoria, perhaps you misunderstand the point being made here. Tibet was annexed. Legally or not – it’s irrelevant to my point. Let’s say: totally illegal. It’s population has been made citizens of China. They are not considered undesirable; the Chinese government is not trying to get rid of them because of their ethnicity. On the contrary: it is trying to make them Chinese, to accept being Chinese, to assimilate. Something quite common in the world. Again, let’s assume it’s totally illegitimate; Tibetans should get their theocratic feudalism back. I can sympathize with this view.

Let us, however, compare this with Palestine. West Bank has not been annexed, it’s been under military occupation for 46 years. The population there has been stateless. Why? Because they are goys. Their maternal grandmothers ate a cheeseburger. For that reason Zionists want the land (and keep building Jews-only towns and roads on it), but not the population.

Do you see the difference between these two models? Do you realize why your attempt – Hey, look over there – Tibet!!! – is totally unconvincing? And you think I’m being paid – what about you?

288

lurker 10.23.13 at 9:15 am

‘At least not under international law. Tibet was an independent country occupied by force by a foreign power.’ (MPA Victoria, 274)
Was it? Doesn’t that take international recognition? Mongolia got it, thanks to Soviet backing, and is now not a part of China. Tibet had no backers.

289

Ronan(rf) 10.23.13 at 9:44 am

Kaveh @275
Sorry, that really wasnt meant to be a dig at your link! (just in general) Thats prob the most informative review Ive read yet

js
I meant to include my email adresss (ronanfitz@gmail.com) you an ontat me through that

290

MPAVictoria 10.23.13 at 10:15 am

” They are not considered undesirable; the Chinese government is not trying to get rid of them because of their ethnicity. ”

This is where you are wrong. The Chinese government IS trying to get rid of the Tibetan people by destroying their identity and culture. Like I said did you even read the link I posted?

/By the way I completely grant that what China is doing in Tibet has nothing to do with the I&P issue. I just find it interesting that we seem to focus more on one than the other. Plus I just got sucked into this by Mao&Co’s ridiculous comments on the issue.

291

Hektor Bim 10.23.13 at 10:51 am

Js,

The relevant counter-example is Saudi Arabia and the gulf states. The US and Britain do heavily support them (economically and militarily for longer than Israel) and their human rights records are atrocious, but no one talks of divesting or boycotting them.

I agree that this doesn’t really affect the I/P issue.

292

Ronan(rf) 10.23.13 at 11:06 am

anon
Is Jordan really over 70% Palestinian? That doesnt seem right. Someone did bring up New Zealand, and I think Canada falls under ‘the colonisation of the America’s’. Still what an odd thing to take umbrage at!
Jordan has allowed most Palestinians become citizens (afaik) In Lebanon, among other things, granting them citizenship will upset the confessional balance and is politically difficult to get done. Whatever the rights or wrongs of that you really cant ignore it, and I dont know why you seem to assume the Lebanese have all this responsibility and the Israeli’s/international community none

re
Saudi Arabia
FFS. This is really who Israel’s supporters see as a regional role model? Good to know!

293

MPAVictoria 10.23.13 at 11:09 am

“granting them citizenship will upset the confessional balance and is politically difficult to get done.”
Ummm…. Wouldn’t the same argument apply to Israel?

294

Ronan(rf) 10.23.13 at 11:19 am

Yeah, it’s pretty much the same argument. The reply would be that it’s the Israeli’s responsibility not Lebanon’s (Its interesting that Israeli supporters – im saying in general,not you – make largely the same demographic based arguments vis a vis the return of refugees to Israel and then get on their high horse about the Arab states not creating a Utopian resolution post 48)
Personally, I dont think any significant return of refugees is ever going to happen so an international solution removed from regional politics is probably the best outcome

295

Ronan(rf) 10.23.13 at 11:36 am

The Saudi Arabia thing is ridiculous beause there really is no widespread public support (ideologially) for the House of Saud in the US apart from a selection of paid propagandists. The Saudi alliance is geopolitial not of this type of pseudo spiritual nonsense that pervades the Israeli relationship (where is Christian Wahhabism?, the Saudi Tom Friedman?)
No one is under any illusions about the House of Saud not even, I would guess, the ruling elite and their acolytes
Perhaps boycotting Israel *only* is hypocrtical (Id agree it is on an individual level) but if it wasnt that it’d be something else (Why arent you supporting the Catalans right to self rule?! .. or whatever)

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Mao Cheng Ji 10.23.13 at 1:32 pm

“The Chinese government IS trying to get rid of the Tibetan people by destroying their identity and culture.”

Right. In the same way as the Yanks were destroying the Southern culture and the way of life. I can find some links for you on that.

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MPAVictoria 10.23.13 at 2:01 pm

“Right. In the same way as the Yanks were destroying the Southern culture and the way of life. I can find some links for you on that.”

Wow….

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Ronan(rf) 10.23.13 at 9:05 pm

Just to point out, finally (as it seems this thread is dead), what the actual position of Palestinian negotiators on ‘The Right to Return’ actually is

http://www.jeromeslater.com/search?updated-max=2013-09-10T10:42:00-04:00&max-results=3

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novakant 10.23.13 at 10:40 pm

Is China a rogue state?

Well, the US human rights record is much worse, they just oppress the people of other nations, rather than their own. It always amazes me how people are capable of simply ignoring this fact.

But by all means: boycott the terrible rogue regime of China – oh wait, you can’t … the US would be broke tomorrow and the shelves in Walmart empty.

300

godoggo 10.24.13 at 12:20 am

Unless you pronounce it thrayeed.

301

Mao Cheng Ji 10.24.13 at 8:18 am

Yes, MPAVictoria. When a conflict between the central government and a province comes to head, there is choice: to let the province secede, or to reform and keep it. Letting it go is dangerous (the whole country may fall apart, as the USSR), so it rarely happens. And reforming can be bloody: ~1 mil casualties in the American civil war, tens or hundreds thousands in Chechnya recently. Sometimes it’s slow burning, often is still violent.

Again, this is a very common phenomenon in the modern world, an unfortunate feature of the current international system of nation-states. It is commonly and trivially accepted that states preserve their territorial integrity, and impose control over their territory.

Settler colonialism, on the other hand, is a thing of the past. Been tried, rejected, and condemned. So, “look over there – Tibet!” doesn’t really work. Show me another place, recently, where people from faraway countries come, conquer a territory, and settle there, expelling/excluding the local population. And “wow…” is not really an answer.

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MPAVictoria 10.24.13 at 3:17 pm

Like I said Mao, read the actual link I posted.

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walt kovacs 10.24.13 at 3:44 pm

amazing that this thread went totally off topic

what i would like to know is this

why do max and his thralls, care so much about what alterman has to say about the book?

and why is max not worried that his juvenile behavior, regarding one review, has now made it impossible for any other legit source to review this book

304

Jacques Distler 10.24.13 at 4:03 pm

Show me another place, recently, where people from faraway countries come, conquer a territory, and settle there, expelling/excluding the local population.

In light of your patently absurd take on the human rights travesty in Tibet, this hardly merits a response.

But, as emphasized previously (@14), the majority of Israel’s Jewish population didn’t come from “faraway”. They (or their parents) were expelled from neighbouring Arab countries. In fact, these refugees (from Morocco, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, …) outnumber the Palestinians displaced in 1948.

That’s not to minimize the plight of Palestinian refugees. But it does (or ought to) make clear that the story is considerably more complicated than you pretend.

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Mao Cheng Ji 10.24.13 at 4:28 pm

Zionist colonization of Palestine is a distinctly European enterprise that is a hundred years old.

“They (or their parents) were expelled from neighbouring Arab countries.”

This is not true. A minority was expelled, post-1948 and as a result of Zionist conquest (and in some cases, apparently, with a direct involvement of Mossad), but most (certainly those from Morocco) chose to emigrate. They moved in without a consent of the native population, and immediately assumed a privileged position (albeit of the second-class citizens), compared to that of the native population.

Incidentally, Morocco is not that close, you know. About as far as Germany, I’d say.

306

MPAVictoria 10.24.13 at 5:28 pm

“They moved in without a consent of the native population”

Mao, just admit you don’t know a damn thing about Tibet. It would be less embarrassing for all concerned.

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Jacques Distler 10.24.13 at 7:22 pm

A minority was expelled, post-1948 and as a result of Zionist conquest (and in some cases, apparently, with a direct involvement of Mossad), but most (certainly those from Morocco) chose to emigrate.

A statement which fits perfectly with your equally fanciful picture of happy, smiling Tibetans.

308

Bloix 10.24.13 at 11:12 pm

#216 – re Tom Segev – it’s a matter of emphasis.

Without the British administration, there would be no Israel. If the British had put the Arabian sheik Abdullah on the throne of all of mandatory Palestine instead of just the eastern part, then no Jewish organized community could have survived in the 20’s and 30’s. The Jews might have gotten along as a tolerated minority (until the early 30’s, they did more or less okay in Baghdad under a similar monarch), or they might have been expelled, but the institutions of civil society that were ready to step into place in 1948 wouldn’t have developed. Those institutions could grow only because the British administration recognized them and worked with them. The most important of these was the Jewish Agency for Palestine, which the British accepted and dealt with as a sort of communal government of Jewish settlement.

But the British didn’t bring Jewish civil society in Palestine into existence. They had an uneasy relationship with it during the Mandate, and wound up fighting against it in the end.

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Mao Cheng Ji 10.25.13 at 6:21 am

@305, 306: common you guys. Pull it together. I know you can do it.

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Collin Street 10.25.13 at 6:59 am

Like I said Mao, read the actual link I posted.

Between 1933 and 1945 the german government killed tens, probably hundreds of thousands of left-handers. Shot them, rounded them up and gassed them, burnt their shops down and stole their stuff. Horrible, horrible things.

… this is the mistake you’re making, see.

311

lurker 10.25.13 at 8:41 am

‘the girl was persecuted NOT for being Tibetan’ (Mao Cheng Ji)
Not specifically for being Tibetan, since members of other non-Chinese nations are entitled to the same treatment. But for not being Chinese, yes.

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Mao Cheng Ji 10.25.13 at 10:03 am

She is not a Chinese national? Does Not Compute. All right, I guess we’ll just have to disagree. Cheers.

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lurker 10.25.13 at 12:26 pm

@MCJ
She is not Chinese, she’s Tibetan. Not that hard to grasp, unless you’re intentionally obtuse.

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Ronan(rf) 10.25.13 at 12:48 pm

Ah right Bloix, thanks
I actually got his book out today so will see what it’s like

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Mao Cheng Ji 10.25.13 at 12:53 pm

Thanks for the clarification, lurker, but I really do prefer my obtuseness to your sharpness.

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DD 10.25.13 at 1:19 pm

Is this thread being monitored?

It is now. I’ve deleted the comment to which you refer – JQ

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Collin Street 10.25.13 at 1:20 pm

Not specifically for being Tibetan, since members of other non-Chinese nations are entitled to the same treatment. But for not being Chinese, yes.

Claims of racial discrimination are claims that treatment of race X and race Y are different: it should not be — but evidently is — necessary to point out that demonstrating that treatment of race X and race Y are different requires looking at treatment of both race X and race Y.

No?

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