Monday, December 13, 2010

Daily Kos Comment of the Day: Stealing Jewish Identity Edition

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Israel (4+ / 0-)

has dispossessed the Palestinian people and forced them into exile. Call it annihilation if you will. Palestinians do not have a homeland, do not have a state, and the majority of them are exiles and refugees. They are the new Jews of the Middle East and the world, thanks to Israel.

That's what I was saying.

by sortalikenathan on Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 06:09:46 PM PST

sortalikenathan is one of my all-time favorite Arab-American Israel-Haters on Daily Kos. Nathan, much like his friend, unspeakable, simply despises Israel and therefore probably despises Jews, as well, according to a recent sociological study by Edward H. Kaplan and Charles A. Small of Yale.

His every word drips contempt, as you can see above.

It's not surprising, really, given the fact that Nathan wants Hezbollah to have nukes.

I advocate Iranian nukes in the hands of Hizballah to neutralize the capacity of Israel to commit its massacres against Arabs.

Good God, what a vicious moron.

Anyway, strictly for the hell of it, let's fisk this thing bit by bit, shall we?

Israel has dispossessed the Palestinian people and forced them into exile.

The first thing to notice, of course, is the total inability of the anti-Israel delegitimizer to give any responsibility for anything to the Palestinians. It's always, and forever, Israel's fault. Whatever it is, Israel done it.

In this case, obviously, he's talking about that little thing that we like to call "the refugee problem." It is true, obviously, that many Arabs of the mandate were displaced and became refugees during the '48 war.  About 700,000, in fact.  What he doesn't tell you is that about an equal number of Jews were likewise displaced from Arab countries and that the Arabs of mandated Palestine launched a genocidal civil war against the Jews directly after UN 181, the partition plan, at the end of November '47, right after the Holocaust.

A war fought, in part, by Jewish women and Holocaust survivors.

I suppose he forgot that part.

Benny Morris, one of the foremost historians of the I-P conflict, cleared this up in his now famous letter to the Irish Times:

ISRAEL-HATERS are fond of citing my work in support of their arguments. Let me offer some corrections. In defiance of the will of the international community, as embodied in the UN General Assembly resolution of November 29, 1947, (Palestinian Arabs) launched hostilities against the Jewish community in Palestine in the hope of aborting the emergence of the Jewish state and perhaps destroying that community. But they lost; and one of the results was the displacement of 700,000 of them from their homes.

Nathan continues with:

Call it annihilation if you will.

I think that I will call it a hot pastrami sandwich, actually.



Palestinians do not have a homeland, do not have a state...

That's right. They do not have a state, now do they?  I wonder why?

Could it be because wild horses couldn't get the Palestinians to actually accept a state for themselves in peace next to the Jewish one if their lives depended on it?... which is why they do not have a state to begin with?

The truth is that  until they are willing to accept a state in peace next to Israel than they will continue to live in self-inflicted poverty, misery, and squalor... except for the ones who don't.

It's entirely up to them.

and the majority of them are exiles and refugees.

They certainly are, but whose fault is that? They launched a civil war, got beat, and then their Arab brothers locked them into camps in Lebanon and Syria and Jordan and, in many places, are keeping them there forever... while blaming the Jews. It's fucking horrendous, actually.

They are the new Jews of the Middle East and the world, thanks to Israel.

And this is why this entire comment grabbed my attention. What interests me about it is that it represents an example of Palestinian appropriation of Jewish identity. The nonsensical, ahistorical gibbering about victimhood is old hat, but more and more we are seeing the denial of Jewish history or the appropriation of that history by Palestinians.

Arafat, for example, claimed that Jesus was a "Palestinian."

{Ho. Ho. Ho.}

A PA official, just the other day, put out a "study," all of five pages long, claiming that Jews have no connection to the Western Wall.

During the Camp David Accords Arafat shocked Bill Clinton by claiming that the Second Temple was not in Jerusalem, the City of David.

According to Gold and Dennis Ross, at the 2000 Camp David Summit, Yasser Arafat insisted that the Jewish Temple existed in Nablus, not on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

This is what former Israeli ambassador, Dore Gold, calls Temple Denial.

It is this very creepy inclination among some Palestinians to either deny Jewish history, for the purpose of severing any Jewish connection to the land of Israel, or to usurp Jewish history and identity for the purpose of claiming that connection for themselves.

The problem is that when they do this kind of thing it draws attention to their own history and identity.

Jewish history and culture, if I may say so, is rich, deep, and old. Along with the ancient Greeks, the Jewish tradition is one of the great pillars of the western tradition.

The West draws its provenance from Athens and Jerusalem.

But whenever I read about Palestinians trying to deny Jewish history, or to appropriate it for themselves, it simply calls to mind Palestinian history... and its many contributions to humanity.

Radical Islam: From Right to Left

When I think about Radical Islam and the chopping off of Daniel Pearl's head and the taking down of the Twin Towers and the various Islamist attacks throughout Europe and India and Israel and throughout the Middle East, I realize that... oh... we have a little problem here.

And then when I think about American and western politics and the various approaches, from Right to Left, taken by westerners toward Radical Islam I realize that the problem becomes even more complex than the problem of Radical Islam, itself.

In a nutshell, both the Right and Left suck when it comes to Radical Islam.

Here's why:

The Right tends to think that the problem is not just Radical Islam, or Islamism, but Islam, if not Muslims, in general. Not everyone on the Right feels that way, but plenty of them do or use language that leans in that direction. For example, this is why Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar stormed off the set of The View when conservative / libertarian political commentator, Bill O'Reilly, claimed that "Muslims killed us on 9/11."

On the one hand, of course, O'Reilly is correct. The people who attacked the World Trade Center were Muslims. Thus it is more or less correct to say that "Muslims killed us on 9/11." Or, really, Muslims attacked us on 9/11.

The problem, obviously, is that by saying "Muslims killed us on 9/11" O'Reilly makes it sound like it was Muslims, as a group, as a whole, who did the killing. As I often say, the vast majority of Muslims, here, there, and everywhere, are simply not in the Jihadi Business. Most Muslims are too busy putting bread on the table to bother themselves with hatin' on Jews and the West.

Therefore, to lay the blame for Islamist violence at the feet of Muslims, in general, or Islam, in its entirety, is not only false, and not only entirely unjust to both Muslims and Islam, but it sets up a situation in which America and the West must be in conflict with 1.5 billion Muslims. Those on the Right who finger Islam, rather than Radical Islam, drag us into a fight that we cannot possibly win and that we should not want to have to begin with.

We cannot fight 1.5 billion Muslims and we shouldn't want to, anyway. Would it be nice if more moderate Muslims came out against Radical Islam? Certainly. Radical Islam's foremost enemies are not westerners, but moderate Muslims. Radical Muslims think of regular Muslims as "hypocrites" or the "near enemy." And it is the near enemy that is the foremost foe of the Islamists.

So, this is primarily a fight within Islam, not between Islam and the West. The solution will come primarily from the Islamic world, because we cannot impose a solution on a problem as massive as this. Or, if we can, no one has yet put forward a practicable way of doing so.

In this way the Right tends to have their heads almost entirely up their asses when it comes to the problem of Radical Islam. The only people on the planet who are even more screwed up when it comes to Radical Islam than the political right-wing in the West is the political left-wing in the West.

If the Right often views the problem as a problem with Islam, the Left tends to go all Ostrich on us, sticking their heads in the sand. The Left sees no evil and it hears no evil. The Left is not whistling past the graveyard, it seems not even to realize that the graveyard actually exists. The Left is even more worthless than the Right when it comes to the problem of Radical Islam because they refuse to really acknowledge that Radical Islam is a genuine problem and then when people who do recognize this problem speak up, the Left starts screaming their heads off about "Racism!" and "Islamophobia!"

Taken as a whole, this is why we cannot even begin to reasonably approach the problem, because the Right tends to misdiagnose and the Left is in denial.

Thus to my friends on the Right, I say:

Calm down. The problem is emphatically NOT 1.5 billion Muslims.

And to my friends on the Left, I say:

Snap out of your coma, your vegetable torpor, and, yes, Wake the Fuck Up.

{That is all.}

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Should Israel Take Out Iranian Nukes?

This is a question that I have gone and back and forth over during the last few years and I very definitely believe that it is a question that people of good will can disagree upon.

If you had asked me this question, say, a year and a half ago, I would have said "No, Israel should not attack the Iranian nuclear program." At the time I probably would have argued that the downside to an attack on Iran would exceed the downside of an Iran with nukes. After all, if Iran has nuclear weaponry there is no way that they would use those nukes any more than the Soviet Union was inclined to use its nukes.

The mullahs may be hard-line, right-wing theocrats but they are neither crazy, nor stupid. Any Iranian nuclear attack on Israel or the West would mean that Tehran gets turned into a parking lot. Despite the horrendous Islamist rhetoric about "loving death" I do not believe for one minute that the mullahs are intent on suicide.

That privilege is strictly for others, not the people in power.

Slowly, slowly, however, I am changing my mind on this matter. It was probably Daniel Gordis, more than anyone else, who gave me pause on the question.

{If you're not familiar with Gordis, you should definitely check him out. He has any number of lectures on Google Video, or his own site, that are very interesting.}

Heck, I'll just post one:

It's lengthy, but well worth it.  Very inspiring.

{And for those of you who would dismiss Gordis as a "right-winger," he voted for Jesse Jackson.  FYI.}

What Gordis argues, although not in the above video, is that if Israel means anything it means freedom from non-Jews deciding the fate of the Jewish people. No longer would Jews live or die according to the whims of non-Jews.

The problem with Iranian nukes, of course, is that it means that Jewish self-determination becomes moot. If Iran gets nuclear weaponry it means that Tehran can take out Israel at a moment's notice. Even if they did not do it, they would always have the option. And while it may be true that Tehran would never commit suicide by attacking Tel Aviv, we can never be fully sure of that. But even if they never used those weapons, the Ayatollahs would still hold the fate of Israel in their palms.

One might argue that other countries, including Pakistan, already have nuclear weaponry and so the fate of Israel is already in the hands of non-Jews. Pakistan, for example, could shoot a weapon at Israel at any time.

While this is true, the difference is that Pakistan is not threatening Israel. Hamas and Hezbollah are not the proxies of Pakistan, but of Iran. Furthermore, if the Jewish people have learned anything in the last half century it is that when the leaders of foreign capitals declare their genocidal animosity toward us, as Ahmadinejad has done, we must assume that they mean every word.

{Oh, and btw, Juan Cole does not get to credibly declare Ahmadinejad's benevolence even as Ahmadinejad, himself, declares his animosity.  Cole can whisper all the sweet nothings that he wants, but no one with a level head is buying it.}

For these reasons, and others, I do not see where Israel is in any position to allow Iranian nukes. The American administration will likely do nothing under Obama to prevent those nukes, so Israel may very well have to do what is necessary.

Also understand, of course, that if Iran goes nuclear the entire balance of power in the Middle East will shift in their direction. The main tension in the Middle East, at least according to analysts such as Barry Rubin, is between nationalist governments and Islamist governments. Essentially, Cairo versus Tehran. If Iran goes nuclear, this will be a huge boon for the Islamist movement. It will mean a strengthened and emboldened Hamas and Hez and will bring Turkey further into the Iranian orbit.

This strengthening of the Islamist regime in Iran would also mean that the chances of the Iranian people overthrowing that regime, as they seem to want to do, would greatly diminish even as the regime's ability to direct terrorism toward the west without consequence would greatly increase.  If Iran has nukes there will be no way of stopping them from directing terrorism in any direction that they wish.

Finally, if the Iranian regime goes nuclear this will touch off a Middle East arms race in which every country in the region will step up efforts to likewise go nuclear.  In short order we will see Cairo and Damascus and Riyadh building arsenals, as well.

So, where does all this leave us?


Israel Should Take Out Iranian Nukes. 

When Israel does so... if it does so... the Arab capitals will breathe a sigh of relief, as we've learned from Wikileaks, even as they condemn the Jewish state and further seek to delegitimize it.  It's a grotesque scenario, but there it is.  Just as the Palestinian Authority egged Israel on with Operation Cast Lead and then condemned the operation at the United Nations, so the Arab governments will egg on an attack against Iran's nuclear program and then turn around and condemn Israel for doing precisely what they asked the United States to do.  The hypocrisy is rank, but this is nothing new.

The western left, of course, will also excoriate Israel, but the left always excoriates Israel.  Whether on the blogs or within the NGOs or in the left press, they will scream to the heavens about Israeli militarism.

And I guess we'll just have to live with that.

{Oh, and for those of you who doubt that Iran will use its nuclear technology to create weaponry, what can I say? You are not living in anything that even remotely resembles a reality-based universe.}

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Back to the 'Ol Drawing Board

Washington looks for new direction in peace process - Jerusalem Post

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Apparently this means that Barack Obama may stop harassing the Jews about where some of us live. I, for one, want to thank Barack for the truly bang-up job he's been doing on the Arab-Israel conflict. Tossing up a roadblock to any possible negotiated settlement by demanding that Jews stop building swimming pools and community centers and day care centers and, yes, second bathrooms in the West Bank was shear brilliance.

It meant that Abbas couldn't negotiate even if he wanted to and there is precious little to suggest that he did, in fact, want to. What Obama basically did was throw a monkey wrench into the gears of the process and then blamed the Israelis for his own unconscionably stupid screw-up.

And so now where are we?

The goal is two-states for two peoples. One people, the Jews, have a thriving country along the Mediterranean. Good for them. The other people, the Palestinians, have no state for themselves and live under a combination of Israeli military rule and non-democratic Hamas / Fatah control.

The only way to actually resolve this miserable situation is for the Palestinians to at-long-last... dear God... accept a state for themselves.

Yet, for some reason they just cannot bring themselves to do so.

According to some of my friends on the left, in fact, peace-loving Jihadis are fully justified in their never ending quest to slaughter the Jews. They were right to try to kill Jews in the 1920s and they were right to try to kill Jews now. {Heck, they were probably right to try to kill the Jews in the early 7th century when Muhammad was so pissed off.}

This is because those Jews are perpetually doing bad things to the indigenous population.

See, it's like this. The racist Jewish imperialists marched out of Eastern Europe en masse in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for the sole purpose of stealing land... the Land of the Sacred Olive Groves, no less... from the innocent Palestinian people and brutalized them strictly for the fun of it.

This is why there were suicide bombings during the second intifada, of course.

This is why there were anti-Jewish riots in Palestine throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

Because the Jews were mean. That's always the reason. Decade after decade. Generation after generation. Century upon century.

Millenia upon millenia.

The Jews are, in fact, still very mean. They are collectively punishing the good people of Gaza merely because Gazans shot a few rockets at them. They weren't even very big rockets. They were "bottle rockets" according to some of the more compassionate humanists on Daily Kos. Why those Jews should get so persnickity merely because Gazans were trying to kill them is anyone's guess.

Same thing on the West Bank. That's where we have all those check points that so inconvenience people. The check points and the security fence... or, really, Apartheid Wall.

{Or why not, say, Racist Apartheid ZioNaziWall?}

And, yet, despite the enormous suffering of the Palestinian people at the hands of the vicious Jews, they simply cannot accept a state for themselves.

They never have, now have they?

And they still don't.

{And who gets the blame?}

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jewish Blood and the Palestinian Narrative

I want to thank an anonymous poster, perhaps a Daily Kos person, for putting forth an excellent example of what we call, 'round these parts, "the Palestinian Narrative." It's pretty fascinating, actually, because it has implications not only for Jews and Palestinians, but for anyone interested in history.

When we talk about the "Palestinian narrative" we mean any discussion of I-P which is framed as a manichean struggle between Good and Evil, in which the Israelis are Evil and the Palestinians are Good.

That's the essence of the narrative.  Israeli, if not Jewish, detestation is almost always the tone.

It's a classic morality play of the Righteous overcoming the Insidious... the Weak overcoming the Strong... the Red Sox overcoming the Yankees... the proletariat overcoming the bourgeoisie... the Palestinians overcoming the Israels.

The Good Guys overcoming Bad Guys.

And the Left thus roots for the Good Guys.  The good Palestinians in opposition to the insidious Zionists.

And my people, the Jews, are (ta-da!) the Bad Guys in this fictional-religious narrative that gets repeated again and again and again.

The notion of narrative, in the sense that we are discussing it, derives from academic post-structuralism. It comes from people like Foucault and Derrida and, naturally, Edward Said, who view knowledge as not having inherent structure, but as a function of power politics. For the field of history, this means that there is no such thing as historical truth, merely political narratives in competition with one another. 

All history, in this way of thinking, is reduced to a political power struggle and truth becomes irrelevant, because it is seen as impossible.

Thus there are no historical truths, only plot lines... only competing narratives... only stories that we tell one another in a rhetorical competition.

{But it still results in real blood.}

Ilan Pappé, one of the central figures within anti-Zionist / anti-Israel historiography, wrote The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

A central work within anti-Zionism.

The problem is that Pappé simply does not care about the truth.

He writes:

Who knows what facts are? We try to convince as many people as we can that our interpretation of the facts is the correct one, and we do it because of ideological reasons, not because we are truthseekers. 

Truth is bullshit, in other words. It's power and politics that count according to people like Pappé and people like Edward Said.

So, in a recent post I asked the following question:

Why is it OK for Muslims to live in Israel, but not OK for Jews to live in a future Palestinian state?

Seems like a pretty straight-forward question to me.

Anonymous, in an amazingly self-righteous way, says this:

Because most of the settlements are built on stolen land acquired through military conflict, in contravention of international law.

It's very easy mr. Karmadipshit. Those settlers are not from the West Bank. They really aren't. They are from Europe. Nobody cares that 2000 years ago they think they may have been there.

"Muslims" in Israel live there because they are Palestinians indigenous to the land. Not just any Muslims live in Israel, Palestinian Muslims and Christians do, because unlike most Jewish israelis, they can actually trace their families being on the land for centuries.

Get it yet?

November 30, 2010 6:31 PM

The reason that I like this comment is that it is a pristine example of "the narrative." It has virtually no truth to it whatsoever, yet I am certain that the writer believes every word.

Let's take it piece by piece.

the settlements are built on stolen land acquired through military conflict

It is true that the West Bank was acquired when Jordan attacked Israel in June of 1967. Is it really necessary for me to link? This is not disputed history. This is fact. Israel begged Jordan not to get into the fight, but they did, anyway.

They attacked the tiny Jewish nation because they were afraid that Egypt would gobble it right up.

{Look it up.}

But they got beat and the Jews took back the West Bank, what religious Jews call Judea and Samaria, as well as the heart of Jerusalem... after 2,000 years.  This can hardly be considered theft unless you believe that Israel's neighbors should be allowed to attack that country at will without fear of reprisal.

in contravention of international law.

Took the land in contravention of international law. Really? What law? UN 242? That was precisely what the Arab League gave its famous 3 Noes to.

No negotiation.

No recognition.

No peace.


Those settlers are not from the West Bank. They really aren't. They are from Europe.

So, anonymous is implying that European Jews are not real Jews and therefore do not belong in Israel. Is that it? Aside from the fact that recent genetic studies have demonstrated that, yes, Ashkenazi Jews are, well, Jews, I am simply dumbfounded that "liberals" feel so free to tell Jews where they may or may not live.  Furthermore, anonymous's comment ignores the fact that many, many Israeli Jews are not European Ashkenazi Jews, but native Middle Easterners.

unlike most Jewish israelis, they can actually trace their families being on the land for centuries.

This is just sad.

There has been a continuous Jewish presence in Israel for... what?... 3,500 years?

We only represent .02 percent of the world population, about 13 million people.

We are a tiny minority and yet this westerner, who knows virtually nothing of our history, wants to deny the Jewish people self-determination and self-defense in our historic homeland.

I honestly believe that this kind of sentiment reflects terribly on the progressive-left.

{We will fight back, dontcha know.}

Jews may be small, but we're wiry!

And we've also been around for a very long time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Left Doesn't Care About Palestinians

{Cross-Posted at My Left Wing.}

A casual reader of the left political blogs, such as Daily Kos or the Huffington Post, might get the idea that the progressive-left cares about the Palestinian people. Such a reader would be wholly mistaken. The last thing in this world that the western progressive-left cares about are universal human rights and that definitely goes for the human rights of the Palestinians.

The western left has no interest in human rights and it certainly has no interest in the human rights of the Palestinian people. This is one of those obvious truths that we are supposed to ignore. I keep stumbling upon more and more of these... more and more obvious truths that the ideologically blinded will not allow themselves to consider.

My assertion is easily demonstrated. It has two parts. The first is that the left cares not about universal human rights. The second assertion, which follows from the first, is that the left does not care about the universal human rights of the Palestinian people. Let's take the first part, my claim that the left doesn't care about universal human rights.

I would suggest that if the left did care about universal human rights than we would see activist members of the progressive-left promoting the human rights of Tibetans and Darfurans and Congolese on the major left-wing political blogs... but we do not. On websites such as Daily Kos and the Huffington Post there is virtual silence on the Chinese occupation of Tibet or the truly brutal genocides in Darfur and the Congo. {The Congo, in particular, is horrifying with some 5.5 million dead over the last decade. 5.5 million.}

That the left is virtually silent on these matters demonstrates their lack of interest in human rights. This should be obvious to anyone who doesn't view politics as a team sport. This should be obvious to anyone who is not blinded by partisanship. And it most certainly should be obvious to anyone who cares about the Jewish people, given the fact that Israel is constantly (and hypocritically) hounded on the left over matters of human rights.

That the western progressive-left cares not a whit about the Palestinians is demonstrated from the fact that they only speak up on behalf of Palestinians when Palestinians are in conflict with Jews, but never when they are in conflict with non-Jews. One would think that among the self-proclaimed western defenders of the Palestinian people, that violations of Palestinian human rights, or civil liberties, would be of interest no matter who is doing that violating. One would be wrong, however. They only speak up when they can paint Jews as the villain. They are almost entirely silent otherwise.

Here is a specific example currently in the press. Some young Palestinian Muslim in the West Bank spoofed the Koran on Facebook and is now very deep in the doo-doo among his fellow Palestinians. They've got him locked up for this heinous crime.

In his hometown, the reaction seems to be one of uniform fury. Many here say that if he does not repent, he should spend the rest of his life in jail.

“Everyone is a Muslim here, so everyone is against what he did,” said Alaa Jarar, 20, who described himself as not particularly pious. “People are mad at him and will not respect the Palestinian Authority if he is released. Maybe he is a Mossad agent working for Israel.”

Sure. He could be Mossad. Why the hell not? But for those of us who live in the reality-based world, we might wonder why it is that the left remains silent on this case and the multitudes of ones like it. Why is that when Iran hangs gay people from cranes the left is almost always silent? Why is it that when Saudi Arabia arrests women for the crime of getting raped, western feminists mainly keep a sock in it? And how is it that western-left advocates for the Palestinian people only care about those people when Jews are involved?

How is that?

I submit that it is because the western progressive-left does not really care about either universal human rights, nor the well-being of the Palestinian people.

And I say this as someone who comes out of the progressive-left.

{Sad, but true.}

The New York Times article notes:

Palestinian human rights groups in the West Bank have so far remained silent about Mr. Hasayin’s arrest.

Of course they are silent. There's nothing here to pin on Israel.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


As my positions on Israel continue to evolve "landmarks" frequently present themselves. One such landmark, for me personally, anyway, was the Mavi Marmara incident. What most caught my attention about the flotilla-thing was that it was clearly a case in which western leftists literally, physically, and economically, joined with actual Jihadis in attacking Jews. That is what we saw. The Mavi Marmara was a Turkish vessel carrying people, as we saw on video, who wished for martyrdom in a violent confrontation with Jews and they were aided and abetted by western secular leftists. It was the first time that I really came to understand there is, in fact, a Left-Jihadi alliance at work. This is not to say that all leftists are part of that alliance, but that there is a segment of the western progressive left that supports Jihadis over Jews.

Strange, but true.

Another landmark has taken place just recently. With the current failure of the peace talks, a failure that anyone with a pulse saw coming many months ago, the left, including much of the Jewish left, blames Israel for that failure. This shows me that Jewish liberals are generally weak in their support for the Jewish state. There are things that Israel can be blamed for and things that Israel cannot be blamed for. One of the things that Israel cannot be blamed for is the failure of current negotiations. The reason that Israel cannot be blamed for the failure of negotiations is because it was not the Israelis who refused to negotiate, but the Palestinians who refused to do so.

When Netanyahu first came into office he called for negotiations without preconditions. The Palestinians refused. As a compromise in order to demonstrate good faith, Israel instituted a ten-month settlement freeze in the hopes of bringing the Palestinians to the table, but the Palestinians still refused to negotiate. Now that the settlement freeze is over they are demanding an extension of the freeze, despite the fact that they would neither negotiate throughout most of the period of the freeze, nor negotiate without the freeze. But the bottom line is that Israel called for negotiations while the Palestinians rejected negotiations.
And, yet, many Jewish "progressives" blame Israel for the failure of those negotiations. Does that make even the least little bit of sense? How can Israel be at fault when it was the Palestinians who refused to negotiate whether there was settlement-building or not?

To the extent that Jewish progressives blame Israel on this question is the extent to which those individuals suffer from what I call Jewish Stockholm Syndrome. Stockholm Syndrome, of course, means taking on the political outlooks of one's captors. Jewish Stockholm Syndrome is when Jewish people, whether supporters of Israel or not, ingest the so-called "Palestinian narrative" and view the I-P conflict, at least in some measure, through that narrative.

At the heart of the Palestinian narrative is perpetual Israeli guilt and perfect Palestinian innocence. When Jewish supporters of Israel blame the failure of negotiations on Israel they are expressing something that is not only irrational, but that fits the Palestinian narrative of never-ending Israeli guilt.

They thus suffer from Jewish Stockholm Syndrome.

As with so much else, it's obvious, but they'll never see it or acknowledge it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Long Arab-Jewish War (1920 to the Present)

One way of looking at the conflict in the Middle East is as a single ongoing war between Arabs and Jews. If we think of it this way we can then break it down into its various overlapping phases and trends. It is, by the way, an Arab-Jewish war. It is not merely an Israeli-Palestinian conflict because the Arab combatants are not limited to the Palestinians. Nor is it merely an Arab-Israeli conflict because neither the combatants, nor the victims, on the Jewish side are limited to Israelis. I thus conceive of it as an Arab-Jewish war, despite the fact that Iran is a combatant and Iran is not an Arab country. In the broader scope of things, however, and until fairly recently, Iran was only a minor combatant. We could call it a Muslim-Jewish War, but that would be too broad a characterization.

The Phases of the Long War:

Phase 1, 1920 - 1947: Riots and Massacres

Phase 2, November 1947 - April 1948: The Civil War in Palestine

Phase 3, 1948 - 1973: Conventional Warfare

Phase 4, 1964 - Present: The Terror War

Phase 5, 1975 - Present: The Delegitimization Effort

This last phase, the delegitimization phase, has overtaken the Terror War as the primary means of combating the Jews of the Middle East. This delegitimization process takes several interconnected forms including the attempts by Palestinians to negate Jewish history in the region (for example, Arafat's claim that the Jews never had their Temple in Jerusalem). The BDS movement seeks to delegitimize Israel in preparation for its eventual dissolution. The "progressive" political blogs, like Daily Kos and the Huffington Post, spread hatred. The United Nations, of course, is united in nothing so much as its efforts to perpetually condemn Israel while ignoring human rights violations the world over. Jewish students are regularly berated as "racist" on American and European college campuses if they dare to speak up for Jewish self-determination. The NGOs use lawfare in an effort to criminalize Jewish self-defense. And let's not forget Pallywood, of course.

So, the Delegitimization Phase is the current phase of this long war. One thing to note is that some western leftists have actually joined in the fight against the Jews of the Middle East. In fact, the western "progressive" component of the Delegitimization Phase is probably more significant even than Arab efforts. People disagree, however, on how effective the Delegitimization Phase will be. The Divest This! blog does an excellent job of tracking BDS efforts and shows that the BDS movement has been rather feeble, thankfully.

In any case, thinking about the conflict as the Long War helps to keep things in context. When we think about the I-P conflict it is absolutely necessary to hold this larger context in mind so that we can better understand the behavior of both sides. For example, the reason that the Palestinians continually refuse to accept a state next to Israel is because a state next to Israel is not their war aim. That much should be obvious by now.

By the way, I date the Delegitimization Phase from 1975 because it was in that year that the UN passed the "Zionism Equals Racism" resolution, which was the opening salvo. It should also be noted, tho I need to look further into this, that it was the Soviets who probably did the most for laying the propaganda groundwork for this latest phase of the war.

And, make no mistake, propaganda (and thus hyperbole) is the poison arrow of delegitimization... a poison arrow aimed at the hearts and minds of the ignorant and the malicious.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Gibberish Never Ends

{Cross-Posted at My Left Wing}

The Palestinians have pulled out of direct negotiations because, or so they say, the Israeli settlement construction freeze in the West Bank has concluded.

“Both the governments of Israel and the Palestinian Authority have asked us to continue these discussions in an effort to establish the conditions under which they can continue direct negotiations," Mitchell wrote in a statement posted on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo's website. "They do not want to stop the talks."

How blinkered must one be not to recognize this gibberish as gibberish? For ten months Israel maintained a moratorium on building in the West Bank, yet until the very last moment the Palestinians refused to negotiate. Now that the moratorium has ended they again refuse to negotiate. And we're supposed to believe that the Palestinians are desperate for a negotiated peace and for a state of their own next to Israel? And George Mitchell tells us that both governments want to continue negotiations?

A less blunt person might refer to this as "dissembling." I prefer to call it what it really is, a lie. When Barack Obama came into office he demanded a settlement freeze as a precondition for negotiations. The Palestinians thus pulled out of negotiations. The Israelis then called for negotiations without preconditions, but the Palestinians refused. The Israelis compromised with the 10 month moratorium on building in the West Bank and still the Palestinians refused to negotiate. And now George Mitchell is telling the world that both sides want to negotiate?

So, we are to believe that the Palestinians really, really want to negotiate despite the fact that they refused negotiations before the settlement freeze, and also during the settlement freeze, if the freeze is extended? Oh, that makes sense.

And we are also to believe that the Palestinians long for a state of their own next to Israel, despite the fact that they perpetually reject a state of their own next to Israel and despite the fact that between 1948 and 1967, when the West Bank was occupied by Jordan and Gaza by Egypt, no Palestinian leadership called for a Palestinian state.

Have I mentioned recently that this is a sucker's game?


It's a sucker's game.

Meanwhile the anti-Zionist left and their Jihadi allies perpetually excoriate Israel. Throughout the Middle East, the Jihadis call literally for the blood of the Jews while the Arab governments continue to incite hatred toward the Jewish state. And even as they do so, the UN writes up resolution after resolution defaming Israel while ignoring atrocious human rights abuses in Darfur and Congo and Chechnya and Iran and Tibet and Saudi Arabia, where they still chop off body parts for the crime of theft. And TIME magazine tells the world that Israelis do not care about peace because they are too busy making money. And on college campuses throughout North American and Europe, Jewish students who support the Jewish state are spat upon and told that they are "racist." And on the liberal blogs, like Daily Kos and the Huffington Post, Israel is perpetually demonized, dehumanized, and demeaned.

And through it all, despite international efforts at Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), Israel continues to crank out microchips and advanced computing software and more and more start-ups, and more and more companies on the Nasdaq, and continues to receive more and more investment capital from abroad.

It's nothing short of remarkable, really.

Good for them.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Liberal Jewish Suckers

I continue to be flabbergasted at how easily so many liberal Jewish supporters of Israel have allowed themselves to be suckered by the Israeli settlement issue. These so-called "settlers," a word which itself has become a pejorative, are merely Jews living in the place that Jews originally came from. They have set up communities in the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria, as they would say, for various reasons. Some do so out of a religious commitment to the land of ancient Israel... Eretz Israel. Others live there because housing is less expensive than in Israel proper. And now we are told that the mere presence of Jews living in the West Bank undermines the peace process.


I personally do not care whether Jews live there or not. I am not in favor of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Nor do I oppose Jewish settlements in the West Bank. For that matter, I also do not oppose Episcopalians living in Skokie, Illinois, nor Rastafarians living in Kathmandu, Nepal, nor Ethiopians living in Walla Walla, Washington. What we are being told, though, is that Jews living, and thus building, in the West Bank is an impediment to the peace process. This is nonsense. How can the mere presence of Jews in the West Bank prevent Mahmoud Abbas from sitting across the table from Benjamin Netanyahu? All they need to do is agree on Israel's final borders, and thus the borders of the forthcoming Palestinian state, and then those Jews who live in the newly formed state of Palestine will be living under Palestinian rule. Presumably many will leave under those conditions because, or so I guess, most would prefer not to live under Palestinian sovereignty. But should that not be up to them?

Why must any future state of Palestine be Judenrein? Israel does not demand that their Palestinian population pack up and move out, yet not only does Abbas and the PA insist upon the dismantling of Jewish settlements in their areas of jurisdiction, but even liberal American Jews do so. This is not only a form of unjust bigotry, it is, itself, an impediment to the peace process. Let me be clear. It is not Jewish settlements in the West Bank that are an impediment to the peace process, but the insistence that Jews must not be allowed to live, and thus build, in the West Bank that is the impediment to the peace process.

What many people refuse to recognize is that when Barack Obama demanded a freeze on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank he threw any possible negotiated agreement out the window. By demanding something that Netanyahu either would not, or could not, give he assured that Mahmoud Abbas could demand nothing less. In this way Obama tossed a monkey wrench into the works right from the beginning. And what's worse is that he continues to do so because now he is demanding an extension of the freeze.

This is a sucker's game.

If the Palestinians want a state next to Israel all they need to do is accept a state next to Israel. Yet they perpetually refuse and the blame is always laid at Jewish feet. Time and again, decade after decade, the Palestinians are offered state-hood and time and again, decade after decade, they refuse those offers. They always have some alleged reason, of course. None of the offers are ever considered good enough. This time around they are refusing because Jews are living in the West Bank. In other words, they are telling the world that out of ethno-religious bigotry against Jews they cannot negotiate a peace agreement. And what is most remarkable about this is that many, many western liberal Jews find this not unreasonable.

I find it not only unreasonable, but absolutely ridiculous. Of course, you really cannot blame Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership. So long as well-meaning westerners, including many Jews, affirm Palestinian intransigence and racism against Jews as consistent with liberal values, than why should Abbas accept a Jewish presence in any future state of Palestine? In this way the issue becomes a ploy by which the Palestinian leadership can avoid an end to the conflict. It's a stupid and dangerous game that no one can win, but it is a game that Barack Obama has set up, himself, and as soon as he put the pieces in place, American Jews started playing, as well.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Harassing the Jews on Daily Kos: An Introduction

{Cross-Posted at the NewsRealBlog.}

Daily Kos is among the largest political blogs in the world. It has well over 200,000 registered users and, whether anyone likes it or not, has some influence within American politics.  In the 2006 midterm, for example, they raised money for 17 netroots candidates, winning eight races: Jim Webb (VA-Sen), Jon Tester (MT-Sen), Tim Walz (MN-01), Joe Sestak (PA-07), Ciro Rodriguez (TX-23), Patrick Murphy (PA-08), Jerry McNerney (CA-11), and Paul Hodes (NH-02).  

Daily Kos helped drive Joe Lieberman from the Democratic party and the mainstream media promotes Daily Kos through Keith Olbermann. It also, of course, helped give Barack Obama the Presidency - an effort that I helped in, myself.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Jews in Oz: How Did We Get Here, Dorothy?

{Cross-Posted at The NewsRealBlog.}

If people had told me a year or two ago that I would be participating on a blog associated with David Horowitz, I would have told them that they were out of their bleeding minds. I’m a liberal, for chrissake. I just spent almost the last ten years hatin’ on the Bush administration, marching against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, phone banking for, donating money to the Gore campaign, the Kerry campaign, the Obama campaign. I am in favor of a woman’s right to choose, in favor of Gay rights, in favor of governmental regulation of polluting industries, and would prefer to see a more equitable distribution of wealth via the tax code. Heck, I even live in the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco, the bluest neighborhood in the bluest city of a dominantly blue state.

And, yet, here I am.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Righteous Few


Anyone who knows anything about my political views understands that I have moved from the liberal-left to a post-ideological view that seeks to emphasize humanity (or, really, humaneness) as the proper core of political expression. Up until fairly recently, I, like many, many others, tended to view politics as a manichean contest between liberals versus conservatives, the left versus the right, Democrats versus Republicans. When I looked out across the field of issues virtually all of my opinions fell on the left side of the political divide. For example, I found myself in favor of a woman's right to choose, in opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in favor of the regulation of polluting industries, in favor of universal health care, as well as in favor of GLBT rights. Taken together my stance on these issues, among others, clearly places me on the political left.

Nonetheless, I no longer consider myself as Left and have no intention of any longer supporting the "progressive" movement. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most important one has to do with the growing realization that many of my (formerly) fellow liberals seem to consider themselves as members of The Righteous Few, the Enlightened Ones, in combat with the delusional and malicious many. Most political activists seem to live in a fantasy world in which they are engaged in an imaginary battle to the death with their conservative opponents who are not merely wrong on this or that issue, but represent an almost transcendent evil that must perpetually be opposed. For people who think like this, which would include a majority of people writing at places like Daily Kos or the Huffington Post, the opposition is something less than, or other than, human and thus something to be ridiculed and hated. They do not merely disagree with the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck, but reduce these individuals to hideous things.

They demean. They dehumanize. And they demonize the political opposition. People like those mentioned above are spoken of as if they are the scum of the earth, war mongers, and the enemies of humanity. The truth is, of course, that people like Limbaugh, Palin, and Beck (not to mention, say, Sean Hannity or Michelle Malkin or Anne Coulter) are people with whom we disagree on core issues and who often present their cases in a manner just as vile and obnoxious as the left does in its opposition to them. In this way left and right mirror one another. Each side views the other not merely as wrong, but as inhuman and worthy of contempt.

Anyone who knows anything about the history of the human species understands that it is precisely this willingness to hate "the other" which has caused untold human misery and war. The Nazis othered Jews and Gays and Gypsies and Socialists, considering them either racially inferior or, in this way or that, as enemies of the German people. American slave-holders, likewise, othered black people, considering them less than human and suggesting that their "blackness" was a symbol of a corrupted nature. The genocide of native peoples, whether in the Americas or Australia or elsewhere was due not merely to competition over land and resources, but because indigenous peoples were viewed as barbaric, inferior, and unworthy. Because these out-groups were looked upon as inferior, it was entirely appropriate to demean them in public discourse. To see liberals, day after day, doing precisely to their political opponents what those opponents do to them, is to see liberals indulging in behavior that goes entirely against the highest ideals of liberalism, itself. This is nothing new, of course. Liberals and progressives have been suggesting that their political opponents are less than human since at least the middle of the 19th century, if not earlier. When Marx divided the world between the hated bourgeoisie and the struggling proletariat, activists in that latter group suggested that working people had nothing whatsoever in common with the dominant political class that needed to be overcome, by violence if necessary. These rich people, these evil capitalists, these elite corporatists and their upwardly mobile middle-class, white-collar enablers and supporters represented a class of people to be hated and overthrown, not merely opposed.

The western left is currently rife with people who view the world in similar terms. It's the Righteous Few in a cosmic death grip with the despised other. This, it should be emphasized, is an essentially religious way of looking at politics. The manichean Us versus Them is at its core no different from the Medieval Catholic view that suggested that the war against the apostate and unbeliever or non-Christian... or the wars within Christianity between Protestants and Catholics... reflected on earth the battle between the Forces of Light and the Forces of Darkness as fought out in Heaven. In this way the battle against conservatism, or the Republican party, becomes a deeply self-serving interior experience of personal superiority. We are right and they are wrong. We have truth, while they have lies. We are good and they are not. We are the Forces of Light and they are the Forces of Darkness.

Needless to say, I am exaggerating a tad, but only a tad. The inclination to demonize the other side is a highly authoritarian political inclination. If the other side is something akin to evil, or if Republicans are really crypto-Fascists, than they deserve whatever they get. If someone is truly worthy of demonization and dehumanization than they are also worthy of whatever punishment can be dished out, including violence. Furthermore, if the other side truly is as horrible as many liberals suggest than to oppose them becomes a moral imperative and anyone failing to bow to this moral imperative is an ethical pygmy that must be harassed into submission. They become the dull and insidious sheeple with no understanding of what is happening around them, the stupid masses who enable a corrupt, war-like, Imperialist, regime, or system. In this way regular Americans, who are merely trying to get by in the world and build something decent for themselves and their family, are portrayed as something grotesque, as sheeple, as, in older terms, "the masses."

The Righteous Few may see themselves as holding aloft the sword of Enlightenment, but what they are really doing is little different from what all authoritarians have done, divide the world into Good People versus Bad People and then seek to destroy, or hold down, the Bad People.

I will have none of it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What the Israelis Have Learned and What the Palestinians Have Not

When it comes to I-P we hear an awful lot about "competing narratives." Narratives in this context have little to do with history and much to do with self-serving propaganda. There is, we are to understand, an Israeli narrative and a Palestinian Arab narrative. The question is not whose narrative is true, or closest to the truth, but whose narrative will prevail in the public imagination.

At the center of these narratives is the '48 war. In the original Israeli narrative the Palestinians fled the fighting at the behest of Arab leaders who assured them that after they drove the Jews into the sea they would be free to return to their homes. In the original Palestinian narrative militaristic Jews ethnically cleansed the Palestinians from their traditional homeland resulting in the Nakba, or "catastrophe," along with the misery, oppression, and poverty of refugee status.

In the never-ending vitriolic I-P debate these two narratives, with all their various permutations and interpretations and historical implications, continue to butt heads. One thing that is often overlooked, however, is that the narratives have not remained static in the last 60 years. In the mid 1980s, Israeli historians such as Benny Morris, among others, the so-called New Historians, began to seriously question the Israeli narrative. In The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem (1988), Morris took aim at the prevailing Israeli narrative and shot it full of holes.

Morris, and the historians that followed him, discovered that the Palestinian refugees did not merely flee the fighting at the behest of Arab leadership, but were often driven from their homes by Jewish military forces, precisely as the Arabs had always claimed. And while some scholars tend to focus more on the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and others focus more on the Palestinian violence that preceded that ethnic cleansing, the Israeli "narrative" has moderated. Most historians of Israel and the I-P conflict now understand that some Palestinians left at the behest of the leadership, some were pushed out by Israeli troops because they were fighting Israeli troops, and some simply fled out of a rational fear of war... an option that the Jews did not have.

It is not only Israeli scholars who have moderated their views, but the Israeli public, as well. If the 1948 war represents one vital crux of the matter, the 6 Day War and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza represents another vital crux. Between 1967 and the First Intifada of the late 1980s, the majority of Israelis considered the idea of a two-state solution to be nothing less than a dagger at the heart of the Jewish state. In 1948, Arab governments, with the full backing of their people, sought to destroy the Jewish state and failed. In 1967, Arab governments again sought to destroy the Jewish state and failed. And in 1973, Arab governments yet again sought to destroy the Jewish state and yet again failed. Israelis were, and for good reason, convinced that a Palestinian state cozied up right next to a Jewish state would be nothing less than a terrorist country intent on violence toward Israel. For this reason the Israeli right-wing encouraged Jewish settlement in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria, as they would say) as a buffer between themselves and a hostile Palestinian population.

The intifada of the late 80s, however, represented a major wake-up call for the Israeli public. It was the violence and the suicide bombings and the chaos of those years that taught most Israelis that the occupation was untenable, unsustainable, and counterproductive. Thus by the 1990s the Israeli consensus became pro-two-state solution. Even hard-line right-wing Likudniks like Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon eventually came around to the idea. The center of Israeli thinking on the subject had shifted in a significant way and the public came to favor Palestinian autonomy in a Palestinian state.

Thus in at least two major ways the Israeli narrative has shifted and moderated itself. The myth of complete Israeli innocence in '48 was busted and the acceptance of a two-state solution became the consensus. Likewise the Palestinian narrative has also shifted. If the Palestinians believed that the militarist Jews unjustly drove them from their homes in '48, they are now even more convinced of the rightness and truthfulness of this simplistic view. If the Palestinians saw themselves as mere victims of the struggle, they are now even more convinced of their own innocence and the righteousness of their cause. In short, while the Israelis have moderated their views, the Palestinians have, year after year, decade after decade, bolstered their original narrative.

The Palestinians still refuse to accept any responsibility for the events of 1948. Missing from their narrative is the historical fact that they launched a civil war against the Jews of the Yishuv in November of 1947, directly after UN Resolution 181, the partition resolution. Directly after the Holocaust the Arabs of the mandate, who had allied themselves with Hitler and the Nazis, sought to slaughter the Jewish population in the traditional homeland of the Jewish people. Furthermore, if the Israelis came to accept the idea of a two-state solution, with a state of Palestine living in peace next to a Jewish state, the Palestinian leadership has never accepted the idea and apparently still has not.

Hamas, of course, remains a genocidal theocratic organization devoted to the violent overthrow of the Israeli government and the replacement of the Jewish state with an Islamist state grounded in Sharia law. Fatah, for its part, has refused offer after offer for a Palestinian state next to Israel. Just as the Arabs refused partition in 1937 under the British Peel Commission and just as they refused a Palestinian state next to Israel with UN 181 in 1947, so Arafat refused a Palestinian state comprised of 100 percent of Gaza, well over 90 percent of the West Bank in a contiguous area, with the Arab sections of eastern Jerusalem for a Palestinian capital in 2000. As recently as 2008, Mahmoud Abbas turned down Ehud Olmert's offer for state claiming that the offer was not good enough, despite the fact that it was an even better deal than what Ehud Barak offered Arafat when Bill Clinton sought to end the conflict.

The bottom line is that the Israelis have shifted their thinking over the years and have been willing to make painful concessions for the purpose of peace while the Palestinians have remained entirely intransigent and continue to refuse a state of their own. The only way the occupation can possibly end is with Palestinian acceptance of Palestinian statehood next to Israel. Until they are ready for that, and until they give up the dream of destroying the Jewish state, than they will continue to live in poverty and under occupation.

It's no longer up to Israel because the Israelis have long ago accepted the principle of two states.

Only when the Palestinians also accept the principle of two states for two peoples, only when they moderate their own narrative, can there be a resolution. Until they do their misery will continue even as the Jewish state thrives.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Israel 1242 - Tibet 18


Daily Kos is the largest political blog in the world and represents the grassroots / netroots of the Democratic party and the progressive movement. These people claim to be interested in human rights, but they are not. Not really. If Daily Kos, as a group, honestly cared about human rights than they would care about the human rights of all peoples. But they do not. Do they care about human rights in Darfur where in recent years over 300,000 people have died and millions more displaced? Not so much. Do they care about the over 5 MILLION dead in the Congo? So, sorry. Not really.

How about Tibet? Surely these self-righteous activists, so committed to peace and universal principles of human rights would care about Tibet. It's Tibet, for chrissake. China is occupying Tibet and denying the Tibetans basic human rights. Surely left-liberal American activists of the kind that write on Daily Kos would care about them. Well, again, not so much really.

A basic tag search of the Daily Kos blog reveals that between Feb 21, 2009 and today there were a grand total of 18 essays on the topic of Tibet. That is a total of 18 essays over the period of about 13 months on a left political blog with over 200,000 registered users. During that exact same period of time, however, there were 1242 diaries on the subject of Israel.

Tag search Israel.

Tag search Tibet.

Whatever else we might make of such numbers it clearly reveals that the denizens of Kos-Land take an exceedingly selective view on the subject of human rights. They care about some people and hardly at all about others.

In truth, these people do not really care about human rights at all for if they did they would care about the human rights of people who do not happen to live in Ramallah or Gaza City. If they honestly cared about human rights they would care about the Tibetans. They would care about Darfur. They would care about Congo and Chechnya.

They don't.

1242 to 18.

The blatant hypocrisy is astounding.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Time for Israel to Take Matters into its Own Hands


(Cross-posted at My Left Wing.)

There are only two possible ways to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict, a negotiated settlement or a unilateral disengagement. Now that Barack Obama has thrown a monkey wrench into any possible negotiated settlement, Israel must go it alone.

Just why Obama has thrown a monkey wrench into the possibility of a negotiated settlement is open to question. That he has done so is not. When Obama demanded "total settlement freeze" as a precondition for negotiations, a requirement that Netanyahu either could not, or would not, meet, it meant that Mahmoud Abbas could require nothing less. The President of the Palestinian Authority, of course, is in no position to be viewed as softer on Israel than the American President. Thus the PA refuses negotiations, even "proximity talks."

Last year, early in Netanyahu's second term, he agreed to a two-state solution, called for negotiations without preconditions, and later agreed to a ten month moratorium on Israeli housing construction in the West Bank. This last being a concession that no other previous Israeli Prime Minister has ever made and that no other PA President has ever demanded as a precondition for talks.

Despite this important concession, the American President is not satisfied. While demanding exactly nothing from the PA, the US administration is allegedly "insulted" at the recent announcement by a functionary in the Israeli Ministry of the Interior that Israel will, some years from now, build housing for Jewish people in a Jewish neighborhood in the northeastern section of the ancient capital of the Jewish state. This terrible affront was "condemned" by US Vice President Joe Biden during his recent visit to Israel and resulted in a series of American gestures toward Israeli leadership that could only have been designed to distance the US from Israel and to thereby undermine any Israeli confidence in the US as a fair interlocutor.

In defiance of anything resembling reasonable diplomatic standards toward a friend and ally, Hillary Clinton gave Netanyahu a 45 minute dressing down for the Israeli crime of building in the Israeli capital, Joe Biden arrived an hour and a half late to dinner with Netanyahu in Israel, and in Washington Barack Obama received Netanyahu to the White House with all the enthusiasm one might usually reserve for the likes of Idi Amin.

Israel therefore faces Palestinian leadership in the Gaza that calls for the slaughter of Jews and a Muslim theocracy from "the river to the sea," a Palestinian leadership in the West Bank that still refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and that refuses any negotiations until all its demands are met, and an American President that has proven himself openly hostile to the Israeli Prime Minister, if not Israel itself.

For these reasons Israel must forget about negotiations and take unilateral measures to end the occupation of the West Bank. The Palestinians have, after all, never favored a state of Palestine alongside Israel and are showing no signs that they favor such a state currently. In 1937, after the Arabs of Palestine took to rioting and murder during the Arab Revolt of the late 1930s, the British offered to divide Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state. The Jews reluctantly accepted, the Arabs did not. In 1947, the UN offered a similar deal to the Arabs and the Jews in Resolution 181, the partition resolution. Again the Jews accepted it and again the Arabs did not, instead preferring to launch first a civil war in Palestine between November 1947 and May 1948 and then a wider war featuring the surrounding Arab states versus the Jews, who were forced to field women and Holocaust survivors in their efforts to fend off the attack.

One would have hoped that during the ensuing years that Palestinian statelessness and refugee status might have inclined them to change their mind and accept a state. This, unfortunately, has proven not to be the case. After the 6 Day War, in 1967, Israel offered to return the West Bank to Jordan and the Gaza to Egypt, in accordance with UN Resolution 242, but was met with the famous "3 Noes" of the Arab League, including its Palestinian contingent, in the Khartoum Resolution:

"No negotiations. No recognition. No peace."

It is interesting to note, furthermore, that in the 19 years between 1948 and 1967, when Egypt occupied Gaza and Jordan occupied the West Bank, that no Palestinian leadership ever called for the creation of a Palestinian state in those lands. In fact, prior to 1967, the great majority of Palestinian Arabs did not even consider themselves "Palestinian," thereby indicating a lack of Palestinian nationalism to begin with.

Nonetheless, between 1967 and 2000, Palestinian nationalism did develop and Palestinian identity firmly established itself. Between 1993 and 2000, the Israelis engaged PLO chief Yassir Arafat in the Oslo Peace Process which culminated in Ehud Barack's offers to Arafat in 2000 and 2001. Israel offered Arafat 100 percent of the Gaza, over 90 percent of the West Bank in a contiguous area, and Arab sections of eastern Jerusalem as a capital. Instead of accepting the offer, Arafat refused to make a counter offer and launched the Second Intifada resulting in the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians. Between 2000 and 2003, the death toll represents the equivalent of an Israeli "9/11" every two weeks, week in and week out, year after year.

Finally, in 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered Abbas a similar deal which was likewise refused. Some critics of Israel like to suggest that these final two offers were refused by the Palestinian leadership because they were not good enough. They claim, echoing the now deceased Arafat, that the West Bank would have been divided into three "Bantustans" in a non-contiguous area. If this is the case than both US President, Bill Clinton, and the chief US negotiator, Dennis Ross, are lying and Arafat was telling the truth. In any case, it should be noted that the partition plan that Israel accepted in 1948 really was comprised of three "Bantustans" without Jerusalem as the capital, as can be seen from the map below where the orange represents the proposed Jewish state.


Thus, currently, the US government is pressuring Israel to accept what Israel has already accepted, while applying no pressure on the Palestinians to accept what they have never accepted, a Palestinian state in peace next to the Jewish state. That being the case, it is time for Israel to take the Palestinian "no" for an answer.

Since the Palestinians refuse to negotiate, and because the US president has proven himself a hostile and untrustworthy interlocutor, Israel must go it alone. Israel should simply declare its final borders, and pull the IDF behind those borders, as it relocates any West Bank Jews who would prefer to live in Israel, rather than in a newly created state of Palestine. Of course, this would mean that the Palestinians would not likely get any part of Jerusalem for their capital, but there's no reason why Ramallah could not serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.

At a certain point one must understand that "No" means "No."

We have arrived at that point.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Why I-P is so Miserable, Toxic, and Just Plain F*****G Stupid

Anyone who knows the least little bit about I-P in the left-liberal political blogs knows that it is, in fact, completely miserable, hideously toxic, and just plain fucking stupid. We all know this, yes? I certainly think so. But what I have often wondered is, why? Why must it be this acrimonious?

At this point, some of you may stop and say, “It’s because of people like you, you antagonistic, dumb motherfucker!"

Well?... You may have a point. Please understand that I do not hold myself innocent in the question of the miserableness, toxicity, and the just plain fucking stupidity of left-liberal I-P discourse.

Well? So? Why is I-P so miserable, toxic, and just plain fucking stupid?

That’s an excellent question.

The answer, in part, is postcolonial theory as applied to I-P.

The people who have traditionally driven the conversation have been the pro-Palestinian advocates... also known as anti-Israel ideologues. The reason that I call them anti-Israel ideologues is because they usually advocate from a position that views the state of Israel as a white, western, racist, colonialist, terribly nasty, European outpost in the Middle East, or some combination of this highly dubious rhetorical gibberish. I recognize, of course, that everybody is different, and has different views, and that there are gradations of thought, and so forth, but this trend, this postcolonial trend, is a major one within left-liberal I-P discourse… mainly on the anti-I side.

I blame Michelle Foucault and Edward Said!

Foucault suggested that scholarly narratives were not so much about “truth,” but about the maintenance of hegemonic systems of power through constructing necessary epistemologies and ontologies, or ways of thinking and being.

Said, following Foucault, claimed that western “Orientalist” scholarship, and thus western views on the Arab world, were about the maintenance of western power over the occupied Middle East.

This particular way of viewing knowledge, as little more than part of the prevailing system of control, dovetails with the postcolonial view that divides the world into occupiers and the occupied, oppressors and their victims. The historical source of this relationship derives from the old racist, European imperial adventures and allegedly continues to this day with the United States representing the foremost oppressor on the world stage. Israel is viewed as a tool of this imperialism, as well as a current example of precisely the kind of thing that western liberals have been fighting against for many, many decades.

Israel must therefore be opposed not merely for this or that policy toward the Palestinians, but because in its essence it, too, is a racist, colonialist, really, really nasty enterprise similar to, say, the British in India or the French in Indo-China. The problem with the British in India was not this or that particular policy toward the indigenous population, but its very presence on someone else’s land. The problem was imperialism, period, and not merely any particular imperial policy. Imperialism was, and is, in its essence unjust and therefore must be opposed.

And who would disagree?

I sure as hell do not.

The problem, of course, is that Israel does not actually fit the postcolonial model and in order to make it fit anti-Israel ideologues, consciously or not, must twist its history in order to cram it into the model and must misinterpret its current behavior in order to suggest that this behavior is not a reaction to real events like, say, Qassam rockets, but is an expression of its ugly, essential nature.

Israel is either a white, western, outpost of imperialism or it is not. Postcolonial theory claims that it is and postcolonial theory is the ghost that hovers behind the conversation, that gives the anti-Israel people their intellectual validation. But how can the movement for Jewish self-determination and self-defense be "imperialist" when we know that the vast majority, virtually the entirety, of European Jews who made aliyah did so to escape late 19th century Russian pogroms and, later, that minor bit of nastiness in early-mid-century Germany?

It makes no sense, whatsoever.

Thus, on its face, the origins of the Jewish state are not imperialist and in order to make it so an inversion is necessary. The Jews who fled Russian pogroms and, later, the Holocaust, must be viewed as the oppressors... rather than the victims that they actually were. The Jewish immigrants did not arrive at the behest of any European power. They did not ride with any army of conquest, nor were they the functionaries of any foreign government seeking domination. They did come as an oppressed people in the hopes of building a Jewish community in the traditional homeland of the Jewish people. The actual history therefore mitigates the theory and renders it useless. The only way to make it work is to start with the presumptions of the theory and then twist the history to conform to, and thus confirm, the theory.

But it doesn't work that way. The irony is that postcolonial theory has Marxist roots, but Marx was not an “idealist,” one who starts with an ideology hovering over the material facts, but just the opposite. Marx acted as a corrective to the German idealist tradition by starting with the material facts of history and drawing his conclusions from those facts, not the other way around, as the current postcolonialists do.

Furthermore, since Israel and Zionism are considered in their very nature corrupt, anything that Israel does is viewed as evidence of that corruption. Let’s take Haiti, for example. Israel was there with, from all reports, an absolutely amazing medical team that saved God knows how many lives, yet there are plenty of people who insist that this was nothing but a cheap PR stunt to take attention away from the Gaza strip. In this way, it doesn't matter what Israel does because it is already condemned in its essence as an evil, racist, imperialist, regime and its behavior, whatever that behavior might be, is conducted not from actual circumstances, but as an expression of its corrupt essence.

Now, I understand, of course, that very few I-P bloggers hold consciously to postcolonial theory and thus intentionally apply that theory to the I-P conflict. But that is not the way ideology normally functions. Ideological predispositions are usually not arrived at through careful analyses of systems of political thought, but through the emotive spread of propagandistic talking-points that creates ideological predispositions within those open to the influence.

Whenever I see anyone using talking-points, in this case anti-Israel talking points, I know immediately that I am dealing with an ideologue who is forcing his or her interpretation of events through the sieve of that ideology.

For example, whenever someone suggests that Israel is an “apartheid state,” I know that I’m dealing with an ideologue.

Whenever someone suggests that the events of 1948 can best be described as “ethnic cleansing,” without reference to the Arab-Jewish civil war, I know that I’m dealing with an ideologue.

Whenever someone claims that “Israel stole the land,” without reference to the fact that the Jews who made aliyah purchased their land, I know that I am dealing with an ideologue.

And this is ultimately what makes I-P so vitriolic. The ideology, by necessity, turns forty percent of the world’s Jews into the enemy.

Almost half the world’s Jews get set up as the enemy.

So, of course, I-P is miserable, and toxic, and just plain fucking stupid.

The prevailing anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, postcolonial ideology rattles the Jewish cage.

So, what would anyone expect?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Settlements are Not the Problem

There are those who still believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Barack Obama was right to call for a total settlement freeze in the West Bank. They argue that Jewish settlement activity undermines the potential for peace and destroys any possibility of future negotiations. It is interesting to note that this position is basically identical to the position of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas refuses to negotiate so long as any settlement activity continues.

I have to wonder what it is about the mere presence of Jews in the West Bank that prevents Mahmoud Abbas from sitting across the table from Benjamin Netanyahu? If these people, these odious “settlers,” were not Jewish would they still represent a reason not to negotiate final borders? What if they were Laotian Buddhists instead of Jews? Would that make a difference?

Now, I understand that some settlers have committed crimes. Some Jews have acted violently and some have, allegedly, uprooted olive trees belonging to their Palestinian neighbors. Well? To the extent that any Jews in the West Bank are committing crimes they should be arrested and prosecuted. I feel reasonably certain, tho, that there are people outside of the West Bank, who happen not to be Jewish, and who sometimes commit crimes, as well. I would even venture to guess that the occasional Palestinian commits a crime. But the mere presence of Jews in the West Bank is not what has undermined the possibility of negotiations.

The settlements are not the problem. They may be a problem, but they were never considered a reason not to negotiate in the past. Yassir Arafat never claimed that he could not negotiate if Jews moved into the West Bank.

What screwed up the possibility of negotiations was Barack Obama’s demand for a total freeze on settlement activity to begin with. By demanding a total freeze on settlements Obama demanded something that Netanyahu could not deliver without bringing down his coalition government. It was thus, in effect, nothing less than a demand that Bibi step down as the Prime Minister of Israel. Needless to say, Netanyahu was never going to comply with such a ridiculous demand from the American president, no head of state would, and the Israeli people backed him to the hilt.

By demanding a total settlement freeze Obama also forced Abbas into a very difficult position. Abbas, like all politicians, has his constituency to think of and given the realities of Palestinian politics he cannot be seen as being softer on Israel than the American president. His own position as chief of the Palestinian Authority is also at stake. To be seen as weaker on Israel than Barack Obama would have been political suicide... if not actual suicide. He couldn't do it, so he did not.

This is not meant to suggest, by the way, that the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank is a good idea. The settlements are the cause of considerable stress within Israeli society and are an appropriation of land meant for a Palestinian state... although it remains entirely unclear why Jews should not be allowed to live in that state and if Jews will be allowed to live in the state of Palestine their current presence there should be irrelevant to the question of talks.

Nonetheless, President Obama fell flat on his face coming directly out of the gate. The demand for total settlement freeze has placed the kabash on negotiations and both sides are hardening their positions. Netanyahu is now demanding the presence of Israeli security forces along the border of Jordan in order to make sure that weaponry is not transported into the West Bank. For his part, Abbas is now claiming that the Palestinians will unilaterally declare a state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

I, for one, do not have a problem with a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood. I very much want to see an autonomous state of Palestine next to Israel. The problem, however, is East Jerusalem. It's one thing for Ehuds Barak and Olmert to offer parts of East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. It's another thing entirely for the Palestinians to attempt seizure of East Jerusalem. Netanyahu would never allow this and he shouldn't allow it.

So, what can Obama do now to get back on track toward a negotiated settlement? Some believe that the US should put further pressure on the Israelis, perhaps economic sanctions, but it is not the Israelis who are refusing to negotiate. It is the Palestinians who refuse to do so. Thus the thing to do is make prodigious use of both carrots and sticks to encourage the Palestinian leadership, sans Hamas, to come to the negotiating table.

Given the fact of occupation, and given the fact of Palestinian poverty, one would think that the Palestinian leadership would be eager for a state and for a normalization of economic relations with Israel. Unfortunately, neither the Palestinian leadership, nor the Arab leadership, has ever agreed to a Palestinian state at any moment when it counted. They have turned down offers of statehood in 1937, in 1947, in 2000, and most recently when Ehud Olmert offered Abbas one hundred percent of the Gaza, over ninety percent of the West Bank (with land swaps) and with parts of East Jerusalem as its capital.

It is difficult to see what more Olmert could have offered Abbas. (Tel Aviv, perhaps?) It makes me wonder if the Palestinian leadership truly want an autonomous state next to Israel? Or do they want the whole shebang? Further, it is unlikely that Netanyahu would be inclined to offer as much as Olmert did. The Palestinians, however, can have a state and should have a state and would get a state if they would simply sit down to negotiations and agree to the final status.

Israelis want peace, but somehow I do not see it happening so long as Obama’s government will not apply sufficient pressures and incentives on the Palestinian Authority. Usually the question is, what must Israel do in order to secure peace? Sometimes we have to ask a different question, though. Sometimes the question really should be, what must the Palestinians do in order to secure a state?

That’s an excellent question, I think... because things are not always and forever up to Israel... and the answer is obvious.

Agree to one.