Comments: Inside The Mind Of Tzipi Livni

Wait a minute, this guy who has the uncanny ability to express your innermost thoughts - it's you? It's good, I like that.

Posted by abb1 at December 11, 2008 05:09 PM


Posted by Mike Meyer at December 11, 2008 06:07 PM

Livni can rot for all I care, but she didn't actually say she was ashamed of the ceasefire (as the Post headline claims), she said she was ashamed to call it one, presumably because she thinks Hamas is constantly in violation of it.

Whereas she probably doesn't have a problem calling it a ceasefire when Hamas ain't firing but Israel's still practicing vicious siege warfare, as John accurately describes it.

Posted by RobWeaver at December 11, 2008 08:13 PM

Rob: Actually I checked multiple sources and never could get an exact sense of what it is that Livni's ashamed of. Calling it a cease fire when it isn't one? Calling it a cease fire when Israel doesn't respond to violations by killing more Palestinians? Calling it a cease fire at all? That last alternative may seem unlikely, but consider this quote:

"When we are faced with a decision to come to some kind of arrangement - like a ceasefire - which may seem in the short time a legitimate interest, we must remember that when Israel gets into these arrangements, they harm us and strengthen Hamas."

So she's unhappy with the idea of a cease fire under any circumstances. Having already spent more time in Livni's mind that I wanted to, I decided just to paraphrase her shameful shame in the most general terms I could and move on.

Rupa: So, hopefully this serves as a warning to the war criminals or gross violators of humanrights that they have no place to go to or hide.

That's one of the things that's always made me the most optimistic about the future: that the mechanisms for the enforcement of international human rights law are only getting stronger, which is making it harder and harder for criminals like Kissinger, Pinochet, or the Israelis you mentioned to escape accountability for their crimes.

Posted by John Caruso at December 11, 2008 09:24 PM

John Caruso,
I posted a comment with two different sources, Israel National News which said the same thing about "feeling ashamed' and Haa'retz ( English edition) which quoted her as saying "embarrassed" but the comment is not posted yet as it went to the moderator!!

And her statement, "We are living in an area where image has meaning, and when the image is weakened, that harms Israel's deterrence capability." says it all. It is all about IMAGE! Is that why they went to war against Lebanon for kidnapping of 2 soldiers ( when Israel has kidnapped hundred or even thousands of lebanese civilians and imprisoned them ) and destroyed the country? Wonder if they have ANY IDEA what kind of image that projected around the world. It certainly was not of any strength, military or moral.

Posted by Rupa Shah at December 11, 2008 10:07 PM

My earlier comment just got posted.
And regarding the war criminals, Bush, Cheney and Rummy will have to enjoy each others company on USA soil. Rummy, almost could not go to germany. He twisted the Belgian govt's arm to change the law by denying it money for the new NATO headquarters. That arm twisting will not work for them after they are out of office.
As I always say, I am an optimist and believe, THERE WILL BE JUSTICE. Sadly, many will pay a very high price.

Posted by Rupa Shah at December 11, 2008 10:19 PM
[O]ne of the worst things about Israel is the corrosive effect it has on those who claim to support it (both Jewish and otherwise). It exerts an irresistible magnetic pull on the moral compass of those who embrace its self-aggrandizing mythology, rendering them capable of depths of ethical blindness or outright malevolence that are all the more repellent for the self-righteousness in which they're so typically couched.

I agree in a sense, but you could say just about this about every country that does the same kind of thing. Self-aggrandizing mythology, ethical blindness, outright malevolence, self-righteousness -- it works the same in the U.S., or Serbia, or the Soviet Union, or South Africa. Etc. The only difference is the propaganda is more accepted here regarding Israel than with the other places (besides the U.S. itself, of course).

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at December 12, 2008 12:12 AM

Agreed; it wasn't meant to be exclusive. There are qualitative differences in the degree and manner in which the different elements are combined and expressed, though. And the "Jewish and otherwise" is important as well—I don't know of another case where there's such a drive to recruit supporters outside of the national/ethnic/religious group in question, with such success.

Posted by John Caruso at December 12, 2008 01:05 AM

The only difference is the propaganda is more accepted here...

More accepted? That's a very mild way to put it. I can't imagine any other case post-WWII where outright Goebbels-style propaganda would fit so comfortably into the mainstream at this scale. For a few years in Serbia - maybe, but clearly not to this extent, not for this long, not at this scale.

I feel that cumulative differences constitute a whole different phenomenon; like, you know, in Hegel's 'transition from quantity to quality'. Which is, I guess, pretty much what John said two comments above.

Posted by abb1 at December 12, 2008 04:02 AM

All that said, I'd also hesitate to conclude the recruitment is that unique. Just off the top of my head, much of Europe's elite has been successfully recruited to the defense of "the West" by the U.S. You could say that's actually based on shared class interests, but then for the most part so is the recruitment for Israel.

But doesn't Europe's elite live in "The West"? I'm not quite sure what you're talking about, but isn't that a bit different from Israel?

Pro-Israel propaganda in the US, it seems to me, is largely devoid of any rationale besides an abstract moral one. That is to say, there's rarely an explanation of how our aid to Israel is in our own material self-interest.

Do people in Europe feel that they should support the USA even when there is no particular reward for them, or direct danger if they don't?

Posted by Christopher at December 12, 2008 05:10 AM
I agree in a sense, but you could say just about this about every country that does the same kind of thing. Self-aggrandizing mythology, ethical blindness, outright malevolence, self-righteousness -- it works the same in the U.S., or Serbia, or the Soviet Union, or South Africa. Etc. The only difference is the propaganda is more accepted here regarding Israel than with the other places (besides the U.S. itself, of course).

Mr Schwarz, the countries you mentioned may indulge in the behaviour mentioned. But Israel and its lobby AIPAC are THE ONLY ONES who are able to set up organizations and magazines like CAMPUS WATCH, Isarel Academia monitor, MEMRI, Front Page magazine, Honest Reporting, David Project etc which have either targeted academics who in turn have been denied a position at a particular institutuion or reported misinformation about that individual or organization allegedly engaging in anti-Israel activity. I could be wrong but as far as I know, NO OTHER COUNTRY and its lobby interferes in that manner and with that clout regarding what goes on in the USA and I beg to differ because it is not only propaganda. These are facts as imho Prof Dershowitz gets all the blame for destroying Prof Finkelstein's career.

And regarding the extreme religious right's ( like Rev Haggee) support for Israel, is it not based on the so called return of the Messiah? ( I am not very knowlegeable about this but this is what I have read and heard him say, on some video clips).

Also, what is surprising is that Israel always claims to speak for ALL jewish people of the world ( and encourages them to migrate to Israel a.k.a. recruitement, to diffuse the so called 'timebomb' of demographic imbalance), in reality, there are not many takers and they do not wish Israel to speak or act IN THEIR NAME!

Pro-Israel propaganda in the US, it seems to me, is largely devoid of any rationale besides an abstract moral one.

At this stage, Israel has lost even its MORAL high ground. It is clearly apprent that the collective conscience of majority of Israeli population is missing and it seems like there is amnesia of their own history. If that was not the case, HOW CAN THEY do what they are doing to another people?

Posted by Rupa Shah at December 12, 2008 09:59 AM

What's interesting about sentiment about Israel among mainstream American liberals of all ethnicities is that most seem more willing to harshly criticize American war crimes than they are Israeli war crimes. Kneejerk jingoism in favor of Israel is greater than it is for America. This is not because they feel that as Americans their first duty is to criticize their own country--they simply don't feel comfortable talking about Israeli actions in very harsh terms. It's socially acceptable to say critical things about Israeli policy, so long as they aren't too critical. So you can say "The occupation is bad" or "Israel has gone off-track since 1967" but if you start talking about the ethnic cleansing of 1948 or Israeli targeting of civilians or talk about apartheid or anti-Arab racism, that's going too far in their minds. But it's fine (in fact, almost obligatory) to talk about anti-semitism in the Muslim world or the barbaric repression in Saudi Arabia--nobody feels the need to pull punches in that department.

Among gentiles I think this is because they've heard so much about past anti-semitic lies about Jews that they've internalized the belief that anyone who is harshly critical of Israel is either an anti-semite or dangerously close to it.
One can often read in the mainstream liberal press how "anti-Israel" the Europeans are, and how they have a problem with anti-semitism too, and how anyone who calls for a boycott against Israel, for instance, must be a total hypocrite and an anti-semite because there are so many other atrocities in the world that are allegedly worse. (And in a handful of cases this is true.)
So I think that's why the bias against the Palestinians persists among ordinary American liberals. It's a separate question why the press feeds them a diet of one-sided crap.

I've got a liberal friend who practically worships the NYT--he used to repeat idiotic statements he'd read in there, such as "I don't think the demolition homes is the moral equivalent of suicide bombing" as though that summarized the worst actions of each side. Based on what he reads, that was a perfectly reasonable POV.

Posted by Donald Johnson at December 12, 2008 10:18 AM

"And regarding the extreme religious right's ( like Rev Haggee) support for Israel, is it not based on the so called return of the Messiah?"

Yep. Among theologically conservative Protestants, there's a widespread (though not universal) belief in a scheme of Biblical interpretation called "dispensationalism". It involves a detailed science fiction-like interpretation of some prophecies in the Bible about the events leading up to the Second Coming and as far as Israel is concerned, it boils down to this--God gave the land to the Jews and anyone who tries to force them to return any of it is on the side of Satan. It never crosses the minds of rightwing Christians that their belief system is one that justifies terrorism.

Posted by Donald Johnson at December 12, 2008 10:25 AM

The Nazis taught US well.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 12, 2008 11:32 AM

I think there's a useful distinction to be made between, on the one hand, countries that behave obnoxiously but are genuinely vulnerable, and, on the other hand, countries that behave obnoxiously but are as secure as can be. The US is a clear example of the latter: its obnoxious behavior cannot be justified in any reasonable way by its actual vulnerability (perhaps its perceived vulnerability but why should collective neuroses matter?) The war on terror was always a sham, etc.

Israel is genuinely vulnerable, however. Not because of terrorism, which is a marginal issue. Not because of Iran, Syria, or Hezbollah, but because of the Palestinian issue, which I believe is no longer solvable. Israel is one of the few nations on earth that may cease to function as a viable entity in a few decades (where "viable" is defined as "distinguishable from an open-air mental asylum for religious crazies). One can say they brought it upon themselves but even then, look, even a man who shoots himself in the foot deserve compassion.

So I think it's important to (1) be as critical of the government of Israel as warranted, call the West Bank what it is, ie, an apartheid society; but also (2) acknowledge the genuine distress of many Israelis whose worries about the future are entirely legitimate and, in my view, deserve empathy.

The charge of anti-Semitism has lost much of its sting. In some ways, Carter and Mearsheimer-Walt put the final nails in that coffin. The Campus Watch thugs who call them anti-Semites are mostly dismissed as cranks and losers. (Which would not have been true 10 years ago.)

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at December 12, 2008 03:26 PM

Nonsense. Israel is not vulnerable because of the Palestinians, Zionism is. Israel could become a garden variety middle-eastern state tomorrow if most of the Europeans had gone home; Israel would've been fine. Israel is not incompatible with the Palestinians, only Zionism is.

And the concerns of Zionists are entirely illegitimate, just like the concerns of American and any other racists who feel (genuinely, without a doubt) victimized by blacks, Mexicans, Arabs, Asians, Jews, Catholics, Muslims or whoever else. What makes Zionists so special?

Posted by abb1 at December 12, 2008 04:14 PM


the US narrative is centered around a massively overdeveloped superiority complex; the United States is the democratic singularity, the very crystallization of all the best of mankind.

Just to be obsessive, I'll point out some of the cross-examples. Before the end of the Cold War we were always being victimized by a monolithic all-powerful communist conspiracy which made us a pitiful, helpless giant. The brief exception was between the fall of the Berlin wall and 9/11, during which time we were victimized by an all-powerful cabal of single black welfare mothers. Meanwhile, Israel has a massively overdeveloped superiority complex, is the democratic singularity in the mideast, etc.


I think there's a useful distinction to be made between, on the one hand, countries that behave obnoxiously but are genuinely vulnerable, and, on the other hand, countries that behave obnoxiously but are as secure as can be.

I've always felt the same way. I've also always believed that NOT making the distinction hindered our types from communicating with some people who might be persuaded on Israel.

This dynamic also makes me angrier at regular people in the US and less so at our leaders, given how easy we make it for them. But it makes me angrier at Israeli leaders, who play upon regular people's reasonable fears and historical anxiety in the most vile way imaginable.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at December 12, 2008 04:46 PM

All in all, I would love for every Jew in Israel to have the option of becoming an American citizen and moving here -- this country could use an infusion of hard-working gun-owning Jews. And then, indeed, Palestine could be united and become another garden-variety middle-eastern state without any oil and with little water -- with all the economic prosperity that that implies. Even better, The US could then save money on all the foreign aid to Israel and Palestine and Egypt -- all of those expenditures go straight to zero. And then all of the Arab states could explain to their populaces why Israel has gone away but nothing has changed.

Posted by Fritz at December 12, 2008 05:53 PM

Jon: Just to be obsessive, I'll point out some of the cross-examples.

Sure, and those are some of the ones I had in mind. But do you agree that the common Israeli/Jewish self-view as history's most persecuted victims (and the way it manifests itself in terms of justifying or defending Israel's actions today) is inherently different from the standard triumphalist self-view of Americans? That's what I'm getting at.

abb1: Israel is not vulnerable because of the Palestinians, Zionism is.

Bingo. Excellent point. And a man who shoots himself in the foot may deserve compassion, but not if it happened while he was machine-gunning a group of schoolkids.

When I was doing talks on my experiences in the West Bank and Gaza I often had chances to speak with supporters of Israel, and I actually made quite a bit of headway. Not by coddling their misdirected fears, though (which do have a very real basis, but which as Jon says have been consciously manipulated), but by confronting those fears head on and showing that they're baseless today and/or how they in no way justify what Israel is doing to the Palestinians. And it was always surprising to me how quickly they'd agree to that, and we could get down to the real issues (though I imagine there's a big difference here between younger and older generations of Israelis).

So I feel very strongly that it's better to address people's concerns honestly and directly and with sensitivity, but without coddling them (which at its worst amounts to condescending to them). That goes for this issue, or talking to Americans about US foreign policy, or really anything.

Posted by John Caruso at December 12, 2008 05:54 PM

APPARENTLY EVERYBODY in the world has an answer to the troubles between them Jew and Arabs in the Holy Land, me included. Stop PAYING them to kill each other and keep OUR bad advice to ourselves. Keep the Condis and the Hillarys with their Foreign Policy Agenda for world conquest away from those folks and let them work it out/or not amongst themselves.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 12, 2008 06:33 PM

BTW, Jon and Bernard, I didn't mean to accuse you of coddling (or coddle-suggesting). Just speaking generally. I'm guessing our way of handling these things isn't really all that different.

Posted by John Caruso at December 12, 2008 06:54 PM

Prof Chazelle, I do acknowledge the genuine distress of many Israelis whose worries about the future are entirely legitimate, because I know, they love their country and do not at all like the direction it has taken and they believe in justice for the Palestinian people and have even gone to jail doing it. And I will support them in any way I can to build a just society ( because the Palestinians in Israel are treated as worse than second class citizens). However, I have NO SYMPATHY for the govt ( always a coaltion so policies do not change much e.g. building settlements, demoliting homes etc ). And as Mr Schwarz said, leaders!!! like Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu ( who is supposed to be leading in the polls and expected to win ) etc certainly are not doing Israel any good. So, unless the Israelis vote in the right leaders to represent them who can genuinely look out for what is right and good for their country, Palestinians and Israelis will suffer ( Palestinians disproportionately so with loss of livelihood, homes and lives ).

Posted by Rupa Shah at December 12, 2008 08:13 PM

Oh Lordy!
John Caruso (well-meaning, fair, thoughtful) writes about "the common Israeli/Jewish self-view as history's most persecuted victims..."
OK, why is it a "self-view?" Do others view the Amish as #1 in the victim category?
You see, the Israeli-Palestine kerfluffle makes everybody look silly.
Mistakes were made, by the lords of Whiteness and the Deities of Zionism. The two sides in this "conflict" were forced into positions of inhumanity, like gods making two flies fight for one piece of a dead worm or spider.
Nobody wanted those big-eyed, skeleton-like survivors in 1947, not the USA, not Canada, not anyone. We gave them deserts and "holy sites" they hadn't been in for centuries, and deprived those who had tended them, even if badly, for that time.
Too late now for progressives to make a cause for one side, for "history's most persecuted victims" for the other. We made both sides victims. So, what else is new?

Posted by donescobar at December 12, 2008 09:08 PM

I don't see the relevance of Zionism at this juncture.

1. The defeat of the 2-state solution would be the ultimate gift for Zionists.
It's Israel that's vulnerable, not Zionism.

2. The issue is much more serious that just Zionism. The issue is not that Israelis' fears are baseless either -- though they may be. It's not that Israelis fear a Palestinian state -- though they may. It's that to find peace Israel must admit defeat. The road to a 2 state solution involves Israel giving away a lot and getting nothing tangible in return (peace is not tangible; land is). That's the fate of countries defeated at war. Except that Israel was not. Israel is caught in a dynamic of colonial power that can only be broken through an acknowledgment of defeat. And how exactly is that going to happen? Many Israelis believe that it won't (though they might in theory support a 2-state solution). So to tell Israelis that their fears of Palestinians are baseless is a complete waste of time. They need to be convinced that self-declared defeat is for them the best outcome. I just don't see how that can happen.
No society surrenders voluntarily. In that sense Zionism is quite irrelevant.

Israel is vulnerable not because people refuse to believe in a two-state solution but because they refuse to believe that their leaders will ever be willing to make them pay the price.

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at December 12, 2008 09:35 PM

donescobar: Quit correct-NOBODY wanted those skeletons. That desert is how the FINAL SOLUTION IS REPLIED.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 12, 2008 09:57 PM

Maybe gays or women might be more historically victimized, depending on your viewpoint and time-scale.

Posted by Save the Oocytes at December 12, 2008 10:22 PM

Question for don (not intended as a criticism of your viewpoint): If post-WWII European Jews needed a country/safe haven, where should it have been located?

Posted by Save the Oocytes at December 12, 2008 10:28 PM

The 2 state solution IS a construct of everyone in the world except the Jews and the Arabs in Israel, each wants it ALL. ITS ARTIFICIAL. WE looked the other way in Rowanda, WE look the other way in Darfor, WE look the other way in Zimbawe, WE look the other way in Iraq, WE look the other way in Afghanistan, the whole world looked the other way during the Holocost.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 12, 2008 10:30 PM

Save the...

Austria. Right size, optimal level of Jew-hatred and killing, and birthplace of Adolf. Ideal. Not Palestine.

Posted by donescobar at December 12, 2008 10:55 PM

I don't know enough about Austria circa late-40s to know, but how do you think it would have responded to the influx? Would you have repatriated?

Posted by Save the Oocytes at December 12, 2008 11:01 PM

donescobar: Identifying someone's "self-view" doesn't imply that that view lacks validity, and the Jews are certainly near the top of the persecution hierarchy (the Amish? no, but how about black Africans, for example?). The reason for describing it as a "self-view" was because the discussion was about national narratives, and I was pointing in particular at the difference between the standard Israeli narrative vs. the standard American narrative. In (gently) mocking the notion that anyone might approach the level of Jewish persecution, though, you illustrate my point.

As much as I sympathize with historic Jewish suffering, I have zero patience now when people try to use that suffering in any way to justify what Israel has done to the Palestinians and continues to do every single day—not 60 years ago, but right now.

Posted by John Caruso at December 12, 2008 11:23 PM

John Caruso: YES, the Palestinians suffer today, as the Afghanis and Iraqis suffer today. ALL three paid for by OUR TAX DOLLARS. U&I PAY to see them suffer, and WE get OUR money's worth.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 13, 2008 12:02 AM

YOU do see the difference? U&I did NOT pay to see the Jew suffer in WWII, neither did OUR fathers(America), they just looked the other way.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 13, 2008 12:09 AM

Maybe gays or women might be more historically victimized...
Setting aside the grotesque and impossible accounting necessary to judge that contest, it's more likely that history's truest victims vanished without a trace, isn't it?
Not even bitter remnants left to make accusation, and, possibly, justify their own mistreatment of others in turn.
Thoroughly victimized, completely gone, even from memory. Nothing left, not even a name. Just the idea, that they were there because they must have been.
Donald Johnson:
...they've internalized the belief that anyone who is harshly critical of Israel is either an anti-semite or dangerously close to it...
Progress, of a kind, but there's still a ways to go. If you had managed to say anything remotely close to that 4 years ago we could have found some common ground, back when it mattered, to me at least, maybe even a little more than it does now.

Posted by roy belmont at December 13, 2008 12:11 AM

in a world without Zionism there is no such thing as "2-state-solution", there is no such thing as "Palestinian state" or "Jewish state". There is no war, nothing to divide. No group get something in exchange for something. No group feels defeated, no group feels triumphant, no group has dangerously has high birth rate.

Because without Zionism there are no groups, Bernard. OK, that maybe a bit too strong, so here: without Zionism ethno-religious groups aren't institutionalized. There would be one state in Palestine, call it 'Israel' or call it something else, doesn't matter, a state of its citizens.

In a world without Zionism nothing you wrote in your last comment makes sense. That is why Zionism is, in fact, the only relevant phenomenon is these discussions.

Posted by abb1 at December 13, 2008 05:24 AM

Roy, I've thought that for a lot longer than 4 years--your viewpoint bugs me (and several other people here) because it goes beyond that, so yeah, from your POV I haven't come far enough.

Anyway, that's a side issue.

As for the most pitiable victim contest, perhaps the Neandertals, though nobody knows for sure how our ancestors treated them. But there's a good chance it wasn't pretty.

Posted by Donald Johnson at December 13, 2008 08:27 AM

1. It is true that many in the American Jewish community translate criticism of Israel into Anti-Semitism. It's convenient and, so far, it has worked for the most part.
2. Now, what does that have to do with the creation and existence of Israel? Some, but that convoluted story does lead us, back not too long ago, into the worldwide and fierce Anti-Sem, from Polish peasants to the Mufti of J and his followers to Father Coughlin and his and the kill the Jews sermons in mosques you can watch on MEMRI.
Can Israel and views of Israel be separated entirely from all that history? Not really.
Must it be, to find a decent existence for the Palestinians? Yes, but who's capable of doing that on both sides, in the USA and EU and in the Muslim world and Israel? Nobody I can think of right away.
So, it seems to me, decades of a 2-state solution, working like Mutually Assured Desctruction did for the USA and USSR is a grim and insane kind of answer.
And even that, no leaders in sight to accomplish.
Homo non sapiens.

Posted by donescobar at December 13, 2008 10:31 AM

A great many thoughtful comments here, but one nitpicking but infuriating exception.
"The charge of anti-Semitism has lost much of its sting," writes Bernard.
When who charges? The PR guy for the Anti-Defamation League? Yeah.
Foxman's letters to the NYT every time a swastika is painted on a Jewish grave? OK
The Jewish kid in France who got beaten up by young Muslims? No. No. No.
If you're going to bring in the A word, be specific and find out who's charging what, and why.

And please, don't cite the mealy-mouthed and self-serving Jimme the Peanut. He has never forgiven Americans for not reelecting him. Bile, covered up by that insane-looking grin. Yikes.

Posted by donescobar at December 13, 2008 10:50 AM

The terrible persecution of the European Jews is exemplified by the horrors inflicted on them by the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto.

The terrible persecution of the Palestinians is exemplified by the horrors inflicted on them by the Israelis in the Gaza Bantustan.

Israelis and their supporters need to recognize that the "two-state solution" is not a solution. What is needed is one man, one vote in a unitary state. If this was good enough for apartheid South Africa then why not for apartheid Israel?

Stop this Holocaust.

Posted by Dan at December 13, 2008 11:12 AM

Donald Johnson:
If you had managed to say anything remotely close to that 4 years ago. Thinking and speaking are two substantially different acts of the mind.
"...anyone who is harshly critical of Israel is either an anti-semite or dangerously close to it..."
Cite one time you spoke that, or anything remotely like that, back then, esp. at Body and Soul.
What happened or didn't happen then is a side issue now, of course it is, because the hour is much later and things have gotten much worse.
But the naked truth is still taboo, whenever it can be seen. As someone once said.
The gangster-bankster mega-trillion scam comes spilling right out from behind that cloud of p.c. timidity you're peering from.
This is upsetting to even suggest to decent folks like yourself. Just as it was upsetting to suggest back when it was being waged full-scale that the Iraq war wasn't about oil primarily, but about Israeli/Jewish interests.
This was perceived as anti-Semitism and consistently treated as if it was. Try being on the receiving end of that shit some time.
But don't even pretend you were out there taking equivalent heat for speaking what you thought was the truth. Honest compassionate denouncing of the treatment of Palestinians by the settlers and the IDF is a good Christian act as far as it goes, but it is not nearly enough and by itself it is a very safe moral position, at least until it produces Rachel Corrie.
Following the trail of blood from her broken body back to the media boardrooms and synagogues of New York City, and raising your voice at what you found. Good. Strong. Brave.
That didn't happen though, did it?
Talking stink about AIPAC four years ago?
I don't think so.

Posted by roy belmont at December 13, 2008 03:55 PM

abb1: Without Zionism we would not have the problem we have. Correct. But the solution to the problem has nothing to do with Zionism. Ie, you could all turn all Israelis into anti-Zionists tomorrow, and the problem would still remain pretty much unchanged. That's because it's morphed into a classical colonial power dynamic. And decolonization never happened because people ceased to believe in the idea. It happened because the costs became too high. SO whether Israelis are Zionist or not is now of secondary importance (except if there were to be a binational state).

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at December 13, 2008 05:34 PM

But the costs have been passed onto U%I. (BLOOD AND TREASURE)

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 13, 2008 05:57 PM

I don't think I agree. The costs became too high. And people ceased to believe in the idea. And not necessarily in this order, it's basically the same thing, two sides of the same coin.

So, Zionists still do believe in the idea, they are bankrolled by the US, and they control the state of Israel. That's the problem.

Posted by abb1 at December 13, 2008 06:09 PM

abbl: And if what roy belmont proposes, that Iraq is a direct function of Israel/Palestine conflict which MANY propose the same, then that price is high indeed. (WE aren't talking just morality and "soul" WE're talking BLOOD and cash)
As far as Zionism, one cannot remove what happened 2000 years ago nor deny what has happened since. Its why Austria, New York, Ft Lauderdale or Hollywood Calif. wont do the stunt.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 13, 2008 07:26 PM

This ain't Basel and it's not 1896. Zionism got what it wanted (sort of) only because Europe's Judeophobia got what it wanted (almost).
The new game containa elements of the old (Jew-hatred embedded in pieces of Islam) and those Jews among us theme Europe already played and played out, now performed in Arabia.
There is no answer. A bi-national state is a joke those Jews don't want played on them, but who would?
It always, really, goes back to the Auden line: "those to whom evil is done do evil to others."
As the World Turns, now it's the turn of the _____ to suffer. Last century's Holocaust, today's genocide, tomorrow's massacre.

Posted by donescobar at December 13, 2008 08:40 PM

FACTS ARE FACTS, ya can't build Solomon's Temple on Pizmo Beach and have it work out.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 13, 2008 11:24 PM


Your statement that without Zionism there would be no institutionalized ethno-religious groupings is much more optimistic than historical. I grew up in Cleveland -- and ethnic living and voting patterns were much in evidence. I do not believe for a minute that Zionism is a precursor to group solidarity.

If a one-state solution can be and is imposed on Israel, then the Jews will leave. Period. The Palestinians will breed themselves into a majority and there is no Arab state with a functioning Jewish population. No Jew with any sense of history will wait for the final election to take place.

Posted by Fritz at December 14, 2008 02:00 AM

No, Fritz, Jews will not leave. Jews lived everywhere in the middle-east before Zionists came and they will live there after Zionists leave. Most of Europeans and Americans will probably leave - as Bernard explains, even Zionists dead-enders will eventually get disappointed in Zionism because it's too costly. And that's good.

Posted by abb1 at December 14, 2008 04:33 AM

As far as your Cleveland experience - these are not institutionalized phenomena. People are entitled to live where they want, congregate with who they want, and vote as they pleased.

That's not to say that there is no institutionalized ethnic/racial division in the US, race-based affirmative action is an example and I'm against it too. Also things like racial profiling, race-based statistics, etc. Nevertheless, in the US it's overwhelmingly a class-based division.

Posted by abb1 at December 14, 2008 07:25 AM

In the attempt split Zionism (ists) from Jews, many refuse to look at the attitude, still strong in much of the world (see the recent surveys on views toward Jews in Europe, ME...): Zionist. Shmionist, a Jew is still a Jew.
Not so different from the view of African-Americans strong in country clubs in suburban St. Louis or bars in Dayton : he/she's still a N.....
Not always in those terms, not always spoken, but you can hear, see and feel it. Ditto for the Jews in a cafe in Spain or Cairo.
As racist as the US is, it is better in that respect than most of Europe.
Now, when it comes to class, we are deaf, dumb and blind.

Posted by donescobar at December 14, 2008 11:51 AM

Roy, IIRC (and I'm not going back to look, since I never liked my posts at B and S that much), I was a third-rate Chomsky imitator, writing mostly about US and Israeli atrocities that got little attention in mainstream press circles. It wasn't a secret then or now that one reason for that lack of attention is that people start screaming hysterically about "anti-Americanism" or "anti-semitism" if you talk about such things. That's how many or most human beings work when it comes to atrocities--they want to focus on what their favorite enemies do, not on what the supposed good guys do--again, something I think I did say something about back then. (I might have mentioned that the sky is blue at one point, on the grounds that nothing is too obvious to be overlooked, but I didn't dwell on it.) There's nothing particularly unusual about Israel's supporters in that regard. The one thing I have learned in the past few years is that there mainstream libs who cheerfully condemn US war crimes under Bush and terrorism by Muslims, but still seem very reluctant to be equally forceful about Israel. I think this is because after centuries of Western anti-semitism and belief in fiendish secretive cabals that control everything behind the scenes, not to mention idiotic stories about sacrifice of Christian children, good Western liberals are scared to death of harsh criticism of Israel because they think it sounds the same as classic anti-semitism. I know people like this in real life.

Now your own contribution several years back was not to say in some forthright manner that critics of US atrocities are called "anti-American" and critics of Israeli atrocities are labeled "anti-semitic", so that's why we typically see very little honest discussion in the mainstream press. No, your contribution was to talk cryptically about secret cabals dictating virtually everything behind the scenes. I don't believe this and I think it gets in the way of exposure of the real kinds of bullshit that does occur, because it gives people an excuse to ignore the real dishonesty about real atrocities, similar to the way the 9/11 Truthers muddy the waters by claiming that Bush or Israel caused 9/11. I don't doubt that powerful people do all kinds of unsavory plotting outside the range of public scrutiny, but I don't believe that any particular ethnic group is manipulating everything--I think it's more like Chomsky says. That is, in any society the elite have some set of dogmas that give moral justification for what they do, and they impose this storyline on society as much as possible, and in our society the people who rise to the top in the field of journalism are (with some strong-minded honorable exceptions) people who internalize those beliefs. And on top of this in foreign policy sometimes one group which cares a lot about some issue can have disproportionate influence--we see that with the Miami Cubans and we see it with AIPAC, whose views on US interests are not the same as those of other people in the foreign policy "community" (like Brezinski, for example). But even AIPAC hardliners don't always get their way, though they've had more of what they wanted under Bush II than is usual. If they did, we'd already be bombing Iran (not that this still couldn't happen.)

And anyone can be part of the ruling elite in America, regardless of ethnicity--it's what makes this country great. All Obama had to do to be a member in good standing was to express shock, shock I tell you, at the anti-American and anti-Israeli things his former friend Rev Wright had been saying, though Obama had only been going to his church for decades.

Posted by Donald Johnson at December 14, 2008 12:27 PM

So what, Don? You have to distinguish institutionalized racism from those 'views' individuals in country clubs in suburban St. Louis hold, allegedly.

It's perfectly acceptable for individuals in their private lives to dislike Jews or gays or, say, confident women; why is it even an issue? Who cares. And Zionism is not a remedy to it, Zionism makes it worse, arguably.

Posted by abb1 at December 14, 2008 12:35 PM

That's the PROBLEM isn't it? U are a JEW no matter what the hell U think about Israel and the whole world wishes that U would leave "their" country and go "back to Israel", anyway, where U belong.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 14, 2008 02:03 PM

That's the REASON the World recognizes the State of Israel in the first place. If the Nazis couldn't get rid of U, then probably nobody can, SO here's a place U can go to so that, hopefully, U will wander that way.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 14, 2008 02:11 PM


Why is Zionism expensive and unacceptable but Muslim exclusion of non-Muslims from power (or even existence) in various countries considered normal and of no concern? Is it only because of numbers and oil?

Posted by Fritz at December 14, 2008 03:34 PM


Fine. But it's really hard to put a vase back together again. No Jew with any sense or interest in survival would stick around in a Muslim-controlled Palestine.

Personally, I want the US out of the whole mess. Stop funding Israel, Egypt, Jordan, the PLO, etc. I would give Israeli Jews carte blanche to immigrate.

Posted by Fritz at December 14, 2008 03:58 PM

Come on, abby1, you understand how what is "privately acceptable" can very easily become social and national practice. Of course, it is perfectly legal to say broads are inferior or Hebes love nothing but money and spics are lazy and receive the customary snickers or nods, but to say "who cares" ignores how quickly and easily such "jokes" appear as policy--manufacturing consent, or doing with a magician's tricks--is old hat, done skillfully on the right or left.
When the air is thick with such remarks, as was the US Army HQ where I was stationed for two years was with Negro (1957-59) cracks, it was just a fast step to railroad every black soldier in court. That's just what happened.
Social History--a relatively new field--has by now demonstrated the connection between social atmosphere and political power and actions, from Weimar Germany to Silent Majority America.
So, who cares? I care.

Posted by donescobar at December 14, 2008 04:26 PM

Look, it's unfortunate that people have these little prejudices and make stupid jokes - and we all do. It's just that it doesn't have anything to do with this topic.

You don't do ethnic cleansing, colonization, military occupation, assassinations, etc, to prevent people from making jokes about your ethnic group being greedy. Nor do you do these things because people make stupid jokes about your ethnic group. So, what is your point?

Posted by abb1 at December 14, 2008 05:41 PM


There is a long step between Palestinian participation in a single state and non-Jewish control of Israel. Initially the Jewish residents of the such a single state would control all sources of power - and the power of non-jewish residents would only gradually increase. All kinds of time to reach accommodations. The Maronite Christians of Lebanon continued in control long after they were a minority and in many ways still are, if not the dominant force, one of the poles of power in Lebanon.

Posted by empty at December 14, 2008 05:57 PM

I wish you had been with me on a trip I made years ago and ended up in Split, Dubrovnik, Belgrade...And if you had heard the "jokes" in those and other places, you might have understood how easily ethnic cleansing followed there, actually was in the air there for decades, centuries.
You miss any point about this if you look at it only through causal relationshipd. Of course, colonization et al isn't done to prevent the attitudes that produce such jokes, nor because of them.
Voltaire first, then Heine: "Where people believe absurdities, they will commit atrocities."
Know any jokes about Injuns that don't portray them as drunk but powerless savages? Human beings don't get placed on reservations.
The jokes are preludes to and enablers for dehumanization, and much of what follows, both symptom and accompaniment.

Posted by donescobar at December 14, 2008 05:59 PM


Lebanon is a fairly ominous model for a future one-state Palestine.

I also don't see why you would predict a gradual power switch rather than a "final election" scenario. Unless you see the army power as separate from the state.

Posted by Fritz at December 14, 2008 06:22 PM

While conceding your point generally:
Lone Ranger and Tonto, being chased by wild savage heathen redskins. Galloping, galloping, come to the edge of a steep cliff with nowhere else to go.
Lone Ranger turns to Tonto and says, "Well, kemo sabe, it's the end, I guess. We're surrounded, and it looks like we're done for."
Tonto says. "What you mean 'we' white man?"

Posted by roy belmont at December 15, 2008 12:17 AM

I still don't see the point. It started when you (donescobar) wrote:

"In the attempt split Zionism (ists) from Jews, many refuse to look at the attitude, still strong in much of the world (see the recent surveys on views toward Jews in Europe, ME...): Zionist. Shmionist, a Jew is still a Jew."

What does it mean, what's the big relevance of it here?

Zionism is an ultra-nationalist political movement. Many (if not most) Zionists aren't even Jews, they are deranged messianic Christians.

Yes, sure, it is sorta relevant, because it's clear that common anti-semitic attitudes help Zionists, they like it, and they broadcast and use every case of it. Still, why shouldn't I "split Zionism (ists) from Jews"?

Posted by abb1 at December 15, 2008 02:40 AM

Because, abby1, there would never have been Zionism if it weren't for what I'm talking about.
As you know, the assimilationist ethos and progress of Jews in Western Europe seemed successful until the Dreyfus trial opened Herzl's eyes to see how thin a reed it really was. And he didn't know just how thin, because France was then more anti-Semitic than Germany, where it was the kind of country-club, exclusionist anti-Sem and envy (Archie Bunker-like) until later.
So, the point is, call Zionism what you will, its twin brother can't be totally separated.
If you don't understand that, talk to what I used to call "professional Jews."
You won't like their views on Israel, but they are rooted in this issue. And from what I've learned in about 50 years, a sliver or fragment remains in the mind of many Jews, whether left or right, pro-or-anti-Zionist.
It's not peripheral. It is a fear or anxiety that has become negligible among American Jews, especially the successful ones (by our standards) in LA, NYC, Shaker Heights and Orange, NJ. But it's there, and even the swagger or arrogance of a Jewish Harvard/Yale Law can't completely do away with. In fact, the striking arrogance and cruelty of the Jewish neo-cons could well be a blanket over it. (Psycho-historians will get to this someday.)

Posted by donescobar at December 15, 2008 12:57 PM

Donescobar--I've been on the sidelines in the argument you're having with abb1, but just came out to say I think you're right--Zionism's roots are in European anti-semitism. This seems kinda self-evident, unless everything I've ever read on the subject is just wrong (not that I've read all that much). Though I don't know if you're right or wrong about the swagger in the neocons. The ideology might have had its original roots in fear of anti-semites, but maybe they've moved way beyond that now, to where the fear of anti-semites is simply a cover for their own form of evil. That's certainly the case with the Christian neocons.

Abb1's notion that individual prejudices don't matter can't possibly correct. Even on the individual level people can make discriminatory decisions on who to hire, for example, or they can assault someone, and on a larger scale, if there's no anti-semitism or no anti-black or anti-Arab hatred, then it's a lot harder to whip up support for state terror.

And for the second time in this thread, I'd also like to point out that the sky is blue, at least on clear days.

Posted by Donald Johnson at December 15, 2008 02:26 PM

Oh, I'm perfectly aware of the rationalizations you're talking about. Everybody is aware, frankly, it's right there in the post and in the comments: "self-righteousness", "narratives of victimization".

But that is not the reason for ultra-nationalism, that's merely the narrative of ultra-nationalism.

One doesn't need the Dreyfus affair to become radicalized this way.

There are many thousands of people in the US who, right now as we speak, grieve for the "white race" being destroyed by the Mexicans, blacks, Jews, and others. That's their narrative. They look into crime statistics, last names of Hollywood executives and bankers - and they get their story of victimization - and it's just as convincing to them as Zionists' story to you.

The Russians are victims as well - Jews and other minorities (but mostly the Jews, of course) killed their czar and their noblemen 90 years ago, destroyed their culture and traditions, plundered the resources (and still do, of course) and so on. If you talk to a Russian nationalist - don't get him started.

Etc, etc, etc.

So what? Do we really have to analyze all this schizophrenic nonsense? If so, fair enough, but then let's give equal time to every group. I mean, why pick one - and the most violent and dangerous one at that, the one with nuclear weapons - and sympathize with them while despising all the rest? That just doesn't make any sense at all.

Posted by abb1 at December 15, 2008 02:44 PM

There's a specificity to "Zionist" that "Jew" lacks utterly.
There's no specificity to "Jew". Talmudic Jew, what's that? Someone whose mother was a Jew. Is that it? Maybe.
Nobody uses that phrase. "Jew" by itself encompasses such a wide swath of people it's practically synonymous with human.
Some guy in Brooklyn whose grandfather was a rabbi. Allen Ginsberg. Sheldon Adelson. Phil Weiss. Alan Dershowitz.
The thing is Roman Abramovich isn't a Zionist in any clear and specific way. But men of his moral configuration are exactly the problem, and Zionism covers up their scams and manipulations with veils of antique bigotry, because of consanguinity and immediate mutual benefit.
The same vague fog that protects those very real and powerful behind the scenes affinities covers up present harm and disguises what endangers the future innocent. Precisely because of that lack of specificity.
So that inaccurate accusations increase as the harm increases.
Which as abb1 is pointing out the Zionists will shriek about to the point of shutting down any real examination of wtf is really happening.
Much the way Christian missionaries destroyed indigenous cultures and paved the way for ensuant non-Christian exploitation, and at the same time responded mightily to any attack on the missionary process as an attack on Jesus and God and heaven itself.
Interesting that the growth of anti-semitism amongst the US hoi-polloi, or the resurgence of it, is being followed by crash after crash and the scary sound of air leaking out the seams of the dome.
The vagueness of the accusation, the lack of accuracy in naming what's happening, is an essential failure here, endangering not just innocent Jews, which is not a redundant phrase, but the muddled mass who are waking up to the fact of their being hoodwinked.

Posted by roy belmont at December 15, 2008 02:51 PM

...and the answer is simple: because supporters of Israel have been extremely successful at pushing the idea that Israel's crimes are excused...

Well that and the fact that half the "traditional" Christmas carols now blatting from speakers everywhere mention "Israel" in proprietary and longing ways.
The fact that the Christianity which is central to the lives of a majority of Americans has at its foundation Jewish autobiography and Jewish claims to centrality and privilege, and unequaled closeness to the Christian deity.
The fact that the culture itself is symbiont through its media with the information/entertainment industry which is primarily a Jewish enterprise.
Jewish presence in the collective unconscious is huge, much larger than the demographic. That brings Jewish issues close to the interior lives of people who are otherwise distant from both Israel itself generally and Jewish daily lives specifically.
As far as Jewish persecution of Palestinians goes, what's Jericho? What's Canaan itself?
Dismissing the biblical story as fiction doesn't change the mythic justifications it carries.
The biblical story is other people having what God's children were promised getting shoved out of the way, with as much as violence as it takes to make it happen.
So at some point rational geo-political arguments against immoral mistreatment become an attack on religious belief. Because in the minds and hearts of the perpetrators religious belief trumps logic and consensus non-theist morality.
The settlers, who are not as marginal as rational observers would like to think, aren't operating from political conviction, they're fulfilling destiny.
And that's the hauptstufe right there.

Posted by roy belmont at December 15, 2008 04:43 PM

Don't EVER look away. WE PAID for the ticket, it is our RIGHT to see the show.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 15, 2008 05:08 PM

roy belmont: IF IT IS fiction then how did the Jew come to live there in the first place and why is there such a thing as a Jew anyhow?

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 15, 2008 05:12 PM

Well that and the fact that half the "traditional" Christmas carols now blatting from speakers everywhere mention "Israel" in proprietary and longing ways.

Yes, it's certainly true that there are reasons why Israel is treated specially by various groups. But I was addressing the specific notion that people need to show some unique sympathy/empathy/compassion/understanding when it comes to criticizing Israel.

Posted by John Caruso at December 15, 2008 05:13 PM

John Caruso:
I did not suggest, and would not, that we should avert our eyes from any crimes or cruelties inflicted by one group on another.
I pointed out the pattern of evil-doing Auden wrote about on that September day in 1939.
Being aware of it does not mean head in the sand or passivity.

abby1 Sorry, but we do have to look at all that "schizophrenic nonsense." If we don't, we can't even begin to cope with it future appearances and harm.

Posted by donescobar at December 15, 2008 06:19 PM

1. Lovely to see so little hate here (either way) when Israel-Palestine---Jew-Zionist are tossed in the ring.
2. But fascinating to see, here and elsewhere, how this topic creates so many contributions.
Why is another question.
So much heat over so few.

So, why not get the lowdown on those quirky Quakers. What's with that obsessively relentless quest for peace? Didn't they ever watch Harry Lime in "The Third Man?" (You remember--500 years of peace, and what have the Swiss produced? The Cuckoo Clock.)
See you in the trenches. Or, the Bunker.

Posted by donescobar at December 15, 2008 06:41 PM

donescobar: I did not suggest, and would not, that we should avert our eyes from any crimes or cruelties inflicted by one group on another.

I'm glad to hear that. The comments of yours I've read here in the past on this issue have all seemed to be directed towards deflecting criticism from Israel or refocusing it on its real or perceived enemies, and would thus fit within the metaphor of "averting our eyes" (as I intended it); in fact the passive voice of "now it's the turn of the _____ to suffer" is about the closest I've seen you come to criticism.

It's your prerogative to defend anyone you want in whatever way you want, of course, but in this case it would be fundamentally at odds with what I was saying.

Posted by John Caruso at December 15, 2008 08:03 PM

I can't speak for others, donescobar, but the I/P conflict interests me for two reasons--first, we Americans have been helping the Israelis oppress the Palestinians, and second, the conflict brings out some really fascinating displays of hypocrisy from mainstream liberals. I've linked to an example from the New Yorker back in 2002--

Lemann decides to compare the I/P conflict to something from American history. The obvious comparison would be to the conflict between white settlers and the Native Americans--you've got land theft, atrocities on both sides, ethnic cleansing, and of course, the whites accuse the Indians of being "savages" (which would be "terrorist" today). But what historical analogy does Lemann make? He compares it to the Northern occupation of the South, and Palestinian violence is compared to the violence of the KKK, and he says that Israel should pull out just as the North pulled out from the South and we can only hope that the Palestinians will eventually become civilized, just as the South eventually did 100 years later. An utterly bizarre analogy, but that's the sort of mindbending contortions American liberals go through when they discuss the I/P conflict. It's hard not to be interested.

Posted by Donald Johnson at December 15, 2008 08:07 PM

John Caruso

Auden's line, from a poem not a political pamphlet, mourns the cycle, it does not celebrate or condone its existence.
My posts, I think, have asked for understanding for Zionism's origins and for the role the forces that created it play(ed) in Palestine-Israel.

Donald Johnson

Afraid the I-P conflict is not Lemann's cup of tea. But then, almost everybody gets contorted when writing about it. And yes, that makes it fascinating and infuriating and you swear off ever getting into it again.
A case where you hope neither side gets what it really wants.

Posted by donescobar at December 15, 2008 08:57 PM

I do it beacuse I'm Jew and really, Quakers rarely cross my mind.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 15, 2008 09:12 PM

Everyone understands the origins. A pale-skin guy in the US reads crime statistics and he sees that people with dark skin attack people with pale skin more often than vice versa. His fireman job is given to a dark-skin guy. He senses that there is a struggle going on between the two groups and his team is losing. He volunteers to fight, the fight goes on. Here, I get it. Now what?

Posted by abb1 at December 16, 2008 03:18 AM

"If only the Jews had an historic ethos built on the memory of collective punishment, so he could also feel ashamed about what he's inflicting on innocent Palestinians in Gaza..."

You know, if only those disgusting Christians had a better ethos, they would all acknowledge their collective responsibility for the actions of the Christian Bush administration.

Your statement, blaming all Jews for the actions of the world's only majority-Jewish country is patent, open racism. Until people like you are ready to face that fact, you have nothing to contribute to this discussion.

Posted by Green Eagle at December 16, 2008 04:09 PM

Green Eagle: The sentence you quoted was a precise analog to Olmert's statement that "We are the children of a people whose historic ethos is built on the memory of pogroms." The point being that Olmert has other highly relevant "historic ethos" he could draw on as well. And note the pronoun, which was consistent throughout.

If you think I was blaming all Jews for the actions of Israel, you've misread what I wrote.

Posted by John Caruso at December 16, 2008 05:51 PM

Although, I must say, DRUIDISM is starting to look appealing, very appealing.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 16, 2008 07:05 PM

ONE DOESN"T see many Druid caused wars, don't come to the door begging TAXES, TITHES, OR BLOOD, I haven' seen any on the corner proslyzing, AND I hear they allow eating pork.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 16, 2008 07:12 PM