What is Propaganda? Questions to JeffB

In my effort to explain the virulent anti-Zionism of the “Left,” I suggested that it was a matter of moral envy and competitiveness, since Israel, under conditions of existential threat, behaved far more humanely towards its enemies, and more democratically towards its own people than, say, the brutal totalitarians Lenin/Stalin and Mao, who between them are responsible for over 100 million deaths of their own people. To this JeffB responded with a particularly categorical dismissal of the notion that the Israelis had ever been or are now the object of an existential threat on the part of Palestinians and other Arabs.

I quoted this comment in an subsequent post on Krauthammer’s brief history of the prelude to the Six-Day War. Jeff B’s response — that Krauthammer’s piece is “typical propaganda” — offers us an opportunity to consider the entire issue of what differences there may be between propaganda and history, one of the more significant boundaries which post-modern approaches have problematized.

I quote JeffB’s initial response to my claim that Israel was under existential threat:

What existential threat? The notion that the Arabs want to literally exterminate the Jews is a self-serving paranoid delusion unsupported by any evidence. Did Arab armies in 1948 or 1967 or any other time massacre Israelis or otherwise display any genocidal intent or action? No. Were the Jewish populations in Arab countries after 1948 ever subjected to any organized genocidal efforts? No. There were riots in which people were killed, but there were no death squads, no concentration camps, no planned or organized efforts to threaten the existence of Jews.

Now I would personally describe this as an excellent example of propaganda. Jeff, who admits that he is not particularly knowledgeable about the history of this conflict, makes a statement that is so categorical — “no… no… no… no… etc.” that in order to reflect a careful assessment of the historical material, would necessitate a great deal of research. (It’s always hard for an historian to assert categorically that nothing of the sort ever happened, since first he must go through all the evidence, but also consider the periods and places for which there is no evidence, before reaching so bold a conclusion.) In this case, Jeff has to have at least looked at the evidence put forward by historians — and neatly collected by Zionists eager to make the point — that the Arabs have indeed expressed their desire to commit genocide, and when they could, indeed carried out massacres. (A number of commentators have suggested an extensive reading list for Jeff.)

Jeff B has apparently not done anything of the sort. (Correct me please if I’m wrong.) So where did he get the “information,” and what gave him the assurance to assert it so boldly. (He could have written, “as far as I know…” or even asked the question, “what evidence…?”) But he did not. He spoke as either a seasoned historian speaking aggressively about a topic he has mastered, or as someone quoting a position he has heard and accepted as his own.

I have wondered, even at the blog, about whether JeffB is a troll: is he here just to yank our chain, not really interested in debate, but only in drawing us into a discussion so he can assert his anti-Zionist political credo. There were points — this post prominent among them — when I tended towards yes; but others — his recent comment on paradigms — when I felt he was really engaged in substantive discussion. So, with your permission and participation, Jeff, let me ask you some questions.

(And to the other, often excellent commenters at the site who take on Jeff, let’s leave off the name-calling. I’m not sure it helps anyone to dismiss “leftists” as a bunch of idiots, even were it true. If you want to make a point about how problematic “leftist” thinking, a highly valid point as far as I’m concerned, make it substantive. otherwise, let’s stick to the issues.)

First, who is your source for the statement above in bold/italic? Is this from your research? From a friend whose reliability you trust enough to make it openly in a forum where you are subject to serious challenge?

Second, what if it turns out you are wrong? What evidence would you accept as probative (rather than mere propaganda — see below)? What importance does this assertion of “no evidence” have for your view of the conflict?

Third, how do you decide what makes something propaganda, and what makes it “true”? You posted this categorical dismissal of assertions above in a manner that makes me strongly suspect you’ve been listening to Palestinian propagandists whose “narrative” systematically dismisses any Israeli claims that the Palestinians/Arabs bear responsibility in this conflict.

(Indeed, what makes the Palestinian narrative so striking, particularly in that it has become a favorite of many post-modernists, is that it is above all totalistic, and excludes other (e.g., Israeli) narratives in ways that not only fly in the face of the evidence, but also the post-modern imperative of abandoning “grand narratives” and listening to many narratives.)

And yet, when offered some evidence of Arab genocidal intentions, you dismiss it as “typical propaganda”:

As for Krauthammer’s text, it’s typical propoganda that conveniently ignores Israel’s misdeeds and the valid enmity they produce to wrongly portray Israel as the innocent victim of Arab malice.

I infer certain things from your response. Please correct me if my inferences err. The key element here is not the factual basis of Krauthammer’s assertions. For that you’d have to read Michael Oren’s book, Six Days of War, upon which Krauthammer based his essay. Instead, you seem to dismiss his comments as propaganda because they [are intended to] “conveniently ignore Israel’s misdeeds and the valid enmity they produce to wrongly portray Israel as the innocent victim of Arab malice.” This suggest that you identify propaganda by its effects, not its accuracy (although presumably, to call something propaganda is to assert its inaccuracy and possibly dishonesty).

But in your brief comment you make two things clear about your own thinking: 1) Israel’s misdeeds have produced legitimate Arab enmity, and 2) (therefore) the Israelis are not the innocent victims of Arab malice. Let’s call these two points your “moral conclusion” about the conflict (what I would call PCP2). Thus anything that might lead towards the conclusion that Arab hatred may not be justifiable, and that Israelis are the victims of excessive enmity cannot be admitted as historical evidence, but rather automatically becomes propaganda lest your moral position lose its grounding. So you conveniently dismiss as propaganda anything you don’t like.

I’d go one step further. The idea that to present the evidence as he did means that Krauthammer wants to present Israel as innocent (rather than, in this case, the aggressed) strikes me as a serious over-simplification. I know few Zionists who don’t agree with the statement that this is a morally complicated problem with rights and wrongs on both sides. It’s the Palestinians and Arabs who insist on their innocence, on their “legitimate” anger and hatred, on the total guilt of the Israelis. As a result, any attempt to undermine this totalistic “moral” discourse, registers as an effort to reverse it. It reminds me of people who, when criticized, say, “Oh, so it’s all my fault.” That may be a good rhetorical move, putting the critic on the defensive, but it’s above all an avoidance mechanism for facing responsibility.

Now this may strike you as a reductio ad absurdum, but then I’d argue that to summarize Krauthammer the way you did, is also a huge oversimplification. But if I’ve done you an injustice, please explain under what conditions something that challenges your moral conclusion can make it past your propaganda “radar screen.” Similarly, what kind of skeptical filters do you apply to the Palestinian position: under what conditions are you willing to consider that some of their assertions represent not historically valid assertions but propaganda designed to “conveniently ignore the Arabs’ misdeeds and the valid enmity they produce to wrongly portray the Palestinians as the innocent victim of Israeli malice.“?

I will be posting a number of pieces that address this issue of “existential threat,” (as have and will the other commenters at this site). I think this issue lies at the heart of this conflict, and I’d like to hear from you about them. But I’d also like you to reflect on what the relationship between your moral commitments/conclusions and your consideration of historical evidence, and what kind of evidence you need before you will admit something that challenges your (awfully simplistic) moral vision of this conflict.

In your comment on paradigms you write:

Well-intentioned physicists can agree to analyze data within both paradigms and see which gives results best comporting with “truth”. At best they can come to agreement, at worst they can accurately delimit points that can benefit from further research/discussion and points on which opponents respectfully agree to disagree.

How about trying on both paradigms rather than clinging so ferociously to one that you dismiss as propaganda whatever historical evidence contradicts it, and you accept as historical “fact” whatever the proponents from “your” side assert, however much those assertions might be historically unfounded “propaganda”?

63 Responses to What is Propaganda? Questions to JeffB

  1. This is an edit and repost of a comment I left on the last JeefB thread-
    The simple fact is that “existence” is always threatened for everyone. National continuity is never guaranteed. The the world stage is not for the weak and failed. Jews have the right to the land by any historical accounting but owning it and holding it are two different things. It is oil money that keeps the failed Caliphate culture alive and capable of threatening Israel.
    For anyone interested in a real attempt to cope with the Indian/Palestinian conundrum and the larger issues of cultural survival, I have addressed it in a 2 part analysis on my blog Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.

    rl note: i strongly recommend these essays as a way of continuing the discussion since they do address among other things the inconsistent by passionate mindset of the self-styled progressive.

    as for the point about no one’s existence guaranteed, that is esp impt to remember as a three-century old civil society (western democracies) faces the challenges of a millennial-old prime-divider society badly in part because — imbued with a sense of total moral superiority (which permits it to play the condescending game of moral equivalence) — cultures like the european act like teenagers who think they’re immortal, as if we could take every risk imaginable and survive anyway.

  2. The problem with trying to argue with JeffB, is simple, JeffB is not interested in rational discourse. He is in Eric Hoffer’s language, “a true believer,” who compenstes for his inner emptiness by his hate for Israel. It has been quite obvious to me for some time that anti-sionists are not interested in facts. One needs only to look at the recent controversy over Jimmy Carter’s book to see that. Critics of Carter pointed to numerous errors and mistatements of facts – in some cases Carter misrepresented what had happened during events he was apart of. Carter’s defenders ignore Carter’s fast and loose treaqtment of facts, and charged that the critics were trying to silence Carter. Carter himself steadfastly refused to correct his own factual errors.

    Anti-Zionists repeat the same repeat the same factual errors over and over. Were they truely interested in facts anti-Zionist would ammend their accounts to eliminate the erronious assertions. This simply does not happen. JeffB is no more interested in facts than the followers of Stalin or Hitler were.

    rl note: i think i agree with much of what you say, but not the categorical way you put it. hoffer’s analysis of the “true believers” is enormously relevant now in understanding the self-destructiveness of the left, but i wd not apply it with a thick brush. similarly Jeff may hold the “facts” (your word not mine) as secondary to the conclusions he wants (needs) to embrace, but i don’t think i’d compare him to stalin and hitler. on the contrary, they had no illusions about who they were and what they were doing. i think jeffb actually thinks he’s a good, moral person who really cares about matters of justice.

    ultimately our ability to distinguish between the jeffs (if i’m right) and the stalins, is the ability to distinguish between demopaths and dupes. dupes, in principle, will wake up. i would not be surprised if, in times to come, as the temperature of global jihad warming rises, as the pervasive genocidal and imperialistic language that pervades its ethos becomes clearer, that people like jeffb will begin to reconsider. indeed, the hope of western democracies to survive lies in the ability of people living in a civic dream that is rapidly turning into a nightmare to wake up and realize they need to think new thoughts and find new solutions.

  3. Eliyahu says:

    Jeff, there were massacres of Jews in Arab countries in the Nazi period, most notably in Baghdad in 1941. This massacre, called the Farhud, killed 600 Jews by one estimate or 180 by another. There were other, smaller massacres in various Arab countries during the war and especially in the two years afterwards, before there was a state of Israel.

    After the Six Day War of 1967, the Egyptian regime put several thousand Jews in prison camps, or perhaps we can call them concentration camps.

    When Haj Amin el-Husseini met Hitler in late 1941, they agreed that the Jews in the Arab countries should be mass murdered. Hitler promised that “when the German troops cross the Caucasus, then will strike the hour of Arab liberation.” The German occupation of the Middle East would also mean extermination of the Jews there, he told the Mufti. For the Mufti Husseini’s chat with Hitler, see Walter Z Laqueur’s book of documents [the later edition of this book was compiled with the help of Barry Rubin]. Also see Lukasz Hirszowicz, The Third Reich and the Arab East.

    rl note: i believe there are even plans for the gas chambers in arabic that the mufti planned to build if the germans won in n. africa. but the real issue here is not the evidence of intention, but jeffb’s airy dismissal of the rhetoric of genocide as “locker-room talk.” i don’t think he’d tolerate that kind of language from american racists about various racial and ethnic minorities. the real issues, as many of you have pointed out, are not about evidence but about conclusions.

  4. fp says:

    RL,

    I’m afraid that charles has an accurate justification for why debating with the Jeffs of the world is useless. attempts to force them to acquire knowledge and apply critical faculties will not lead to him doing so. that’s due both to the reason you state and to lazyness (in fact, an important function of ideology is to relieve a person from such efforts).

    i used to try what you are doing here for many years in my own field of expertise and at some point I had to accept the fact that it is a waste of time. the objective of the jeffs is to make themselves heard and to project an image of their own moral superiority, which comes, as you suggest, out of moral insecurity.

    when i realized that I stopped elaborating and just called a spade a spade. I’m gonna try to locate some pieces I wrote about this issue (even though in another field) and post the links.

    i’d be very interested. as i mentioned in my remarks to charles, this is a problem that has many elements, evidentiary being possibly tertiary. people like beliefs about the past and present that a) make them feel good about themselves (you’re okay, i’m okay), b) that make them feel empowered (poverty is the source of terrorism and we know how to make societies richer), c) avoid really unpleasant self-criticism (it’s someone else’s fault, i’m part of the solution). only when these illusions begin to break down will most people pay closer attention to evidence and not make silly remarks like “no evidence of genocidal…”

    we need to keep our eyes on what’s a realist and moral approach to these problems, not sacrifice one part of life for the other. eventually (i’d say sooner rather than later), people wake up. we need to be there to both help them wake up and to give them constructive ways of dealing with the world of the red pill.

  5. fp says:

    There is nothing more dangerous than an incompetent failed politician who desperately clings to power:

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/016529.php

  6. fp says:

    Speaking of propaganda, this is probably where Jeff gets his information:

  7. fp says:

    but then if members of uk parliament, us politicians and such are fooled so utterly, why not jeff?

    rl note: this is an amazing piece, and i esp like the extroardinarily aggressive tone with which he lays out his anti-american silliness. shades of bush looking into putin’s eyes.

  8. Eliyahu says:

    fp, I read about that British lord who found Ismail Haniyah to be a “moderate.” He was able to deduce that piece of wisdom without the tedious bother of reading the Hamas charter. His perspicacity and penetrating wisdom leave me flabbergasted. I assume that he’s not the same “wealthy and titled English lord” who married Our Gal Sunday. It reminds me of the definition of Phudnik. A phudnik is a nudnik with a PhD. By the same token, a Lord can be a jackass or maybe a mule wearing blinders who walks straight off a cliff without perceiving that there is nothing under his feet.

  9. One of the first serious books I read as a teenager was Eric Hoffer’s “True Believer.” It has turned out to be a book of lasting value. I recently paid tribute to Hoffer in my blog.

  10. fp says:

    charles,

    Hoffer’s book is on my page of recommended books that I provided for jeff, which i knew he would not bother with.

    Faith/dogma is wonderful life simplifier for the incapable or lazy to acquire knowledge and reason. intellectual effort is real hard, you know.

  11. fp says:

    elyahu,

    that’s the tragedy of the west which will bury it: ignorance and inability to reason. it’s not that islam will win, it’s that the west will lose.

    why are you flabbergasted? the ovewhelming majority in the west — public and elite — know zilch about the ME and islam; couple this with the takiyya that the islamists bombard the west with and the lord’s position is the logical conclusion.

    what worries me that the israeli elite is falling into the same trap. in order to recover from their incompetence they strive to appease the enemy, which is suicidal:

    the problem is that i don’t see any saviour, they’re all nefalim.

    rl note: i’m not sure it’s ignorance of the past that will be to blame for the collapse of europe before the islamist challenge. the arabs are profoundly ignorant of the past and they are the projected victor in this scenario. it’s an inability to see the what’s happening in the present (which, unquestionably, knowledge of the past helps). statements like jeffb’s are perfect illustrations of how we make ourselves stupid.

    as for the dhimmiwatch article, altho i agree that too often the israelis appease, this one’s not about appeasing by supporting one side over the other. israel’s btw a rock and hard place on this one.

  12. Joanne says:

    Yeah, we should avoid name-calling, although I’ve sometimes been pretty sharp in my criticism. I don’t appreciate anyone calling leftists “idiots” since everyone on one half of the political spectrum cannot be an idiot. I am on the left myself, though I don’t follow all the typical left-wing views in lockstep.’

    there’s a whole world of people who are really “left” in the sense of progressive and concerned for the welfare of others less fortunate than they, who have either been exiled or left the fold. my personal feeling is that we need such people to think about the problems that face us because, as jeff has illustrated so well for us, the “loyal” left is pretty much incapable of responding to the disturbing evidence (unless it’s of bush’s involvement in 9-11), despite it’s calling itself the “reality based community.”

    In any case, maybe we ought to end this long saga of JeffB. It’s generated a fair amount of interesting reading on this site, but enough is enough. I think that Jeff and those of us who have tried to answer him have said about all we can say here.

    We have failed to modify Jeff’s views on anything. It may not be not so much a belief that we’re dealing with here, but rather a *desire* to believe. A straigtforward belief in something can be countered by compelling arguments and evidence. But the desire to believe in something comes from a different, perhaps deeper place, and no one here knows how to reach it.

    I’d be a little less pessimistic. i’ve noted elsewhere in these responses to comments that this is a function not just a matter of psychological needs, but also how bad the feedback. as a friend of mine says, “when does Pharaoh listen? when it hurts.” It’s going to hurt a lot.

    I am not so sure that we have successfully countered Jeff’s views regarding the Jews’ right to the land, though no one was swayed by his position either. But other points raised by Jeff were much easier to rebut, even without a detailed knowledge of Middle Eastern history. His view, for instance, that the Arabs never wanted to commit genocide against the Jews is easily dismissable. Yet even when convincing arguments were raised, Jeff didn’t budge or even offer to reconsider. We gave it our best shot, and now what?

    Maybe we ought to say goodbye to this point-counterpoint with JeffB. Let’s just agree to disagree, and be done with it. There is nothing more to be gained here, by us or by JeffB. Unless he just enjoys getting under our skin. If that’s true, then that’s even more of a reason not to keep on debating him.

    i think it’s enormously impt not to let people get under your skin. a lot of that on the internet, even tho the internet is an ideal circumstance for cooling off before responding. i think part of the reason the case for israel has been so hard to make in the last decade is that the anti-zionists say something morally sadistic — like Israel = Nazis — and we get so tongue-tied that we don’t know where to begin. can’t afford that.

  13. fp says:

    joanne,

    several comments:

    1. desire to believe is called faith (the left is not unknown for that — it’s been termed secular religion and we’ve seen what it did in USSR). this is exactly what RL was trying to flush out, whether evidence and reason would work. apparently they don’t, which is what faith means.

    2. if push come to shove, i would have labeled myself left of center; however what used to be left has become so lunatic and inconsistent with what used to be its values, that any resemblance to left is purely coincidental; RL has given a convincing explanation why; the loss of the socioeconomic battle has generated enough hatred of the west to ally with genocidal islamism.

    3. i dk why you think we did not do a good job of justifying israel’s rights to the land. i pointed to sources which do a pretty good job at it, but he refused to bother. there were briefer explanations by others. there was no reason to do more because, as i predicted, NO evidence and reasoning works with faith.

    4. aside from informational value for readers I just suggested what you do: stop giving jeff any more platform.

  14. Cynic says:

    #11 fp,
    In relation to your link maybe you should update it with this latest:
    Israel was named as a potential supplier of arms to the Fatah terrorists to aid them in their battle against Hamas. We now know why
    :-)

    #12

    In any case, maybe we ought to end this long saga of JeffB. It’s generated a fair amount of interesting reading on this site, but enough is enough. I think that Jeff and those of us who have tried to answer him have said about all we can say here.

    Joanne,
    We cannot just leave as in a debate and then go off to tea, for the way I see it if there are enough Jeffs they are going to drag the rest of us down with them because it is a lot more serious for the whole Western World and not just the existence of its Israeli corner that is at stake.
    I get the feeling that maybe what we are experiencing in this saga is just a little of what Churchill maybe felt when having to try and overcome the Stanley Baldwins and the half of 1930s Britain.

  15. I think Joanne is honing in on the truth about JeffB. I am reposting this here because I don’t know who might see it on the older thread…

    fp,

    I see your point and while I agree with you on all the particulars, it ignores the basis of JeffB’s inability to see the inner contraditions in his view. He simply does not want to. As I stated in #16 above, it is clear to me that he is playing a rather silly and transparent game with us. He started with a patently false anti-Israel assertion and then fell back on a series of lines of defense consisting of resonable sounding requests for more information each of which were really accusations in disguise. When his last line of defense is breached he simply goes back to the beginning and asserts some naive and obviously uninformed anti-Israel slogan.

    The effect of this tactic is a “no lose” situation for the Israel basher because even while he knows that, if we know what we are talking about, he will be disproven on every point he has put us on the defensive while engaging us and wasting our time in the futility of “educating the ineducacable”. On the off chance that one of his insipid “requests for information” stumps us, he wins the whole table without having risked anything.

    Playing his game is a no-win for us.

    That is why I wrote to him, “My conclusion is that you not as dumb as you seem to want us to believe nor as smart as you think you are. You are, rather, a garden variety, Israel bashing, Jew hating leftist with a penchant for transparent disguises.”

  16. Joanne says:

    I agree with YBM. The Western world is not at stake here. We’re not presenting our arguments to a big audience, but to just one person. We’ve expended a lot of time and effort on this one lone person. And this person isn’t even serious about our discussions; he simply wants to thrust and parry with us for his own amusement.

    It’s not a question of quitting and going to have tea. We wouldn’t be quitting anything prematurely. We’ve made our arguments already.

    Anyway, I cannot see the parallel with WC, who was arguing with top men in the British government, at a vital time in British history, with so much at stake. There is nothing at stake here. Maybe there would’ve been if we were reaching a mass audience.

    OK, maybe lots of interested people are reading these threads, but, even then, that’s no reason to continue. They’ve already seen what we have to say, and there is no point in going around in circles. If we do, they’ll just get bored. The same threads that may have heightened readership of this Web site will then serve to drive people away, as we get repetitive and boring.

  17. fp says:

    joanne,

    that was exactly my point: we made the effort, i just wanted to summarize for the benefit of lurkers.

    it would have been better for RL not to feed them, but given that he did, we did our best.

    the end.

  18. JeffB says:

    RL 05-21-07a

    Perhaps my (professed) ignorance has been overstated:

    “Jeff, who admits that he is not particularly knowledgeable about the history of this conflict”

    I admit that I am not an historian, nor have I engaged in an academic historical analysis of middle eastern or Palestinian history. In comparing my expertise to that of a professional historian (RL) I would certainly say that it is limited. However, I infer from the fact that I have not heard any facts or arguments that I hadn’t read many times before that my knowledge is comparable to that of other participants.

    Regarding my denial of an existential threat to Israel:

    “So where did he [Jeff B] get the “information,” and what gave him the assurance to assert it so boldly. (He could have written, “as far as I know…” or even asked the question, “what evidence…?”)

    You’re absolutely correct that this statement should have been qualified and supported with evidence. I can only plead that I was posing a somewhat off-the-cuff challenge to a claim of existential threat that was similarly unqualified and unsupported.

    “First, who is your source for the statement above in bold/italic? Is this from your research?”

    The source of the statement is my own reading and “common sense” – I’ve been in enough fights know that “I’m going to kill you” is seldom an accurate indication of intent, read enough war propoganda to know that claims such as “we will bury you/drive you into the sea/wipe you out” are generally vastly exaggerated, read enough history to know that genocidal wars are very rare. I’m also assuming that physical evidence of actual or attempted genocide would be made widely known.

    “Second, what if it turns out you are wrong? What evidence would you accept as probative (rather than mere propaganda — see below)?

    If I’m wrong I guess I’ll have to sheepishly admit my error. I would accept physical evidence of plans or actions aimed at genocide rather than war, i.e. killing the enemy population rather than achieving military/political control. I’ve mentioned two instances where genocidal intent would likely be manifest in actions, and the lack (to my knowledge) of any such action.

    “What importance does this assertion of “no evidence” have for your view of the conflict?”

    I don’t understand the question.

    ‘Third, how do you decide what makes something propaganda, and what makes it “true”?’
    “I infer certain things from your response… The key element here is not the factual basis of Krauthammer’s assertions. … Instead, you seem to dismiss his comments as propaganda because they [are intended to] “conveniently ignore Israel’s misdeeds and the valid enmity they produce to wrongly portray Israel as the innocent victim of Arab malice.” This suggest that you identify propaganda by its effects, not its accuracy.

    I identify propoganda by its intent to deceive. WWI posters portraying the Germans as “The Hun” raping, burning and pillaging Europe were no doubt based on actual occurances. They were propoganda because their intention was to falsely attributed this aberrant behavior to the German Army in general. Krauthammer’s essay is factually correct, but incomplete. When Krauthammer calls Egyptian actions a “reckless provocation” because “Israel [was] in possession of no occupied territories whatsoever”, his intent (in my view) is to falsely portray Israel as the victim of unprovoked aggression. He makes no mention of Israel’s attack on Egypt 11 years before, or the fact that only US intervention prevented Israel (or its allies) from permanently occupying the Sinai and the Suez Canal.

    I also view as propoganda the typical Zionist description of the 1948 war that simply begins with Arab armies attacking Jews. While factually true, the intent of this narrative is to portray the nascent Israel as the victim of unprovoked aggression, ignoring or dismissing any legitimate grievances that the arrival of 600,000 Europeans in a tiny country created.

    There surely is Arab propoganda. Little or none appears in the papers I read, however.

    “But in your brief comment you make two things clear about your own thinking: 1) Israel’s misdeeds have produced legitimate Arab enmity, and 2) (therefore) the Israelis are not the innocent victims of Arab malice. Let’s call these two points your “moral conclusion” about the conflict.

    Correct.

    “Thus anything that might lead towards the conclusion that Arab hatred may not be justifiable, and that Israelis are the victims of excessive enmity cannot be admitted as historical evidence, but rather automatically becomes propaganda lest your moral position lose its grounding. So you conveniently dismiss as propaganda anything you don’t like.”

    Incorrect, and insulting.

    “I know few Zionists who don’t agree with the statement that this is a morally complicated problem with rights and wrongs on both sides. It’s the Palestinians and Arabs who insist on their innocence, on their “legitimate” anger and hatred, on the total guilt of the Israelis. “

    Unfortunately, I haven’t see any admission of Zionist wrongdoing on this site. That would go a long way for me. I am pretty willing to forgive and forget (or at least move on) when someone admits that they’ve made a mistake and tries to rectify it. But it infuriates me when someone insists that they’ve done nothing wrong, especially when they treat me like an idiot with transparently misleading denials, rationalizations, and blame-shifting.

    “How about trying on both paradigms rather than clinging so ferociously to one that you dismiss as propaganda whatever historical evidence contradicts it, and you accept as historical “fact” whatever the proponents from “your” side assert, however much those assertions might be historically unfounded “propaganda”?”

    My sentiments exactly. As mentioned elsewhere, I held pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian views for many years. But those views didn’t hold water.

  19. Sophia says:

    Jeff B cites “common sense” as his reason for believing that Israel wasn’t REALLY at risk in 1948 and I gather in 1967.

    Really, Jeff B?

    Would “common sense” have predicted the Holocaust only a few years earlier, at the hands and often with the assistance of sophisticated, “civilized” Germany and other European states?

    Would “common sense” have predicted the dreadful treatment of refugees from Europe as they tried to flee Europe, even at the hands of Britain and America?

    Would “common sense” have predicted the way the Holocaust survivors were treated in Europe after the liberation of the camps? There were pogroms and many were killed in Poland, conditions were generally miserable and the Bevin government did everything it could to keep the devastated remnants of European Jewry locked up in the graveyard of Europe.

    If you haven’t read about these things please do. As for the latter in particular, archives have just been opened which detail some of what confronted the survivors in Europe. There’s a book published in Hebrew and English called Ha Bricha – the flight – which speaks of the desperate attempts of the survivors to flee Europe. Of course refugee ships were fired upon people sent back to what were essentially concentration camps.

    The situation confronting the Yishuv was indeed dire. Again please read about the years of the civil war and the war against Israel 1947-48, the seige of Jerusalem, which was starving and under fire, its 100,000 Jewish residents cut off – they were rescued only by the heroic efforts of “an army of schmendricks” as Mickey Marcus called them – read Karsh, read the REAL story and not “If America Knew”, which portrays the Israeli army as a heavily armed, first world, battle-tested force of 100,000 confronting poor little third world people. That is historically incorrect to say the least.

    In fact many “soldiers” were rushed into the Israeli lines practically off the boat from the concentration camps. The British had seen to it that the Jews were disarmed. Only the most desperate and ingenious tactics saved the Yishuv and the young state, in the end, paid a heavy price – the destruction of its fields, the death of 1% of its population.

    Maybe your “common sense” doesn’t think Israel faced an existential threat. Did your “common sense” tell you that al Husseini and Hitler were just kidding? Did your “common sense” tell you that the pogroms against Jewish communities throughout the Middle East were just love taps? Was Heykal Pasha lying when he said in 1947 that the proposed UN Partition would endanger the 1,000,000 Jews living throughout the Arab world, and result in antisemitism worse than the Nazis’?

    He wasn’t lying. And the Middle East is now practically judenfrei outside of Israel.

    No. Common sense would never have predicted such an outcome. And I suggest, please, that you do some more reading.

  20. In he latest comment, JeffB makes statementrs of his personal moral judgements and announces how much he holds in disdain the views of other commenters. I find no statement of facts which justify JeffB’s judgements. In other words JeffB rants, rather than engaging in thoughtful and rational discourse. I for one refuse to play JeffB’s game.

  21. Cynic says:

    #16 Joanne,
    While JeffB is just one person please bear in mind that there are those who reading the comments have learned something from them and I have the satisfaction of hearing two of them I introduced to this blog saying, “Oh, I didn’t know that” and going out to read up on the links posted here and taking the effort to fill in the gaps.
    All your posts have served for something positive.

  22. fp says:

    cynic,

    this was exactly my point to joanne.

    however, one should not give too much of a platform to an ignoramus lacking intellect like jeffb. so there must be a balance between educating others and elevating jeff to a level of publicity he does not deserve.

    since we have specified quite a few sources, from this point on lurkers can educate themselves.

  23. Terminator X says:

    Robert Jan Van Pelt writes in his book, ‘The Case for Auschwitz,’ about the Holocaust denier Richard Faurisson’s trial. He quotes Jean-Francois Lyotard’s summary of Faurisson’s point, which seems to me elegantly stated, and particularly applicable here: “‘His argument is: in order for a place to be identified as a gas chamber, the only eyewitnesses I will accept would be a victim of this gas chamber; now, according to my opponent, there is no victim that is not dead; otherwise, this gas chamber would not be what he or she claims it to be. There is, therefore, no gas chamber.’”

    Similarly: The evidence JeffB wants (“physical evidence of plans or actions aimed at genocide rather than war, i.e. killing the enemy population rather than achieving military/political control”) is impossible to proffer. Dead bodies are physical evidence, rhetoric is not. Either JeffB is wrong and we’re all dead, or we remain alive and have to address JeffB’s allegations.

    JeffB doesn’t believe the sincerity of Arab calls to genocide; therefore, Israeli action against Arabs/Palestinians is not justified. ‘Rabanan,’ on the other hand, feel that the evidence is so overwhelming, JeffB must be nothing short of all the bad things he’s been called here, to dismiss it. Furthermore, it is only because of Israel’s bravery (and perhaps the grace of God) that have kept the plans just plans.

    I personally think there is ample evidence to conclude that Arab/Muslim calls for genocide are sincere. I agree that such calls are historically not always sincere, but in the case of the Jews, they have been, so JeffB’s comparisons with other cases (been in enough fights, read enough war propaganda, etc), while valid, don’t apply to Jewish history. In that case, words have often become actions. Pogroms aren’t all talk. This seems self-evident to the regulars, hence their impatience.

    However, JeffB can’t be convinced with these arguments, and that doesn’t make him an idiot or a Stalin or an anti-Semite. He would need the success of calls for genocide to be convinced, and as long as Arab plans have failed to come off, he’s completely right that it’s all rhetoric.

    My conclusion is this: if we are to pursue or support the policies that we believe will ensure our survival (i.e, frustrating the genocidal intentions of the Arabs), we have to concede the validity of JeffB’s argument that those intentions were never meant to be serious. JeffB’s perspective is the cost of having the beliefs that we do about the nature of the conflict. It’s not a matter of making him ‘see the light.’ It’s saying, to JeffB, ‘you might be right, but we’re taking a calculated risk here, based on what we believe to be convincing evidence. We can’t afford to prove you wrong at the potential cost of Israel’s existence.’

    Finally, the tone of the regulars at this site has been particularly disappointing. It’s not often that someone at this site makes a real effort to engage in a meaningful discussion; usually people are just patting each other on the back, and making snide, self-satisfied remarks about how everyone is else is blind and only we know what’s ‘really going on’.

    Now, when a person comes with a different view, everyone suddenly feels very threatened. When people feel threatened in their territory, they often behave like children. After seeing that the usual repertoire of arguments and citations isn’t working, the regulars conclude that he must be this or that: ‘leftist’, ‘jew-hater’, ‘incapable of reason,’ etc. It’s your obligation to adjust your argument to JeffB’s criticism, not dismiss him. You don’t just give someone a syllabus and wait for him wave the white flag.

  24. fp says:

    This is for the benefit of readers with respect to the methodology of argument and how, if you’re not aware of it, you may not see through empty rhetoric without substance.

    JB>I admit that I am not an historian, nor have I engaged in an academic historical analysis of middle eastern or Palestinian history … the fact that I have not heard any facts or arguments that I hadn’t read many times before.

    False. JB was referred to historical sources (somebody already did the research for him), but he won’t bother.

    JB>He makes no mention of Israel’s attack on Egypt 11 years before, or the fact that only US intervention prevented Israel (or its allies) from permanently occupying the Sinai and the Suez Canal.

    Does JB offer any evidence that Nasser’s move was **in response to 1956**? Is there any evidence that the refusal to grant israel existence precedes 1956 (say, 1948 and earlier) and nasser’s actions were rooted in that? There are sources that say no to the former question, yes to the latter. But JB refuses to look at such sources, so he’s blowing hot air.

    JB>the intent of this narrative is to portray the nascent Israel as the victim of unprovoked aggression, ignoring or dismissing any legitimate grievances that the arrival of 600,000 Europeans in a tiny country created.

    False on many counts. 2nd, jb refused to accept the explicit claim that complexity means there are grievances **on both sides**; by dismissing complexity he implies **without any evidence** that only palestinian grievances are valid. 3rd, he obscures the complexity with “the arrival of 600,000 Europeans in a tiny country” — iow he does exactly what he accuses others of — superficiality, incompleteness and falsehoods intended to deceive(e.g. there was no **country**). Doesn’t that sound like propaganda?

    JB>There surely is Arab propaganda. Little or none appears in the papers I read, however.

    To know there is deception — whether intentional or not — one must know the complete true facts and it is already established that jb does not know those and does not care to study them (how does he choose his papers, a sufficiently representative random sample? Uhuh.) Ah, yes, “common sense”.

    JB>Incorrect, and insulting.

    Accurate. JB is self-insulting by arguing the way he does. See previous.

    JB>Unfortunately, I haven’t see any admission of Zionist wrongdoing on this site. That would go a long way for me. I am pretty willing to forgive and forget (or at least move on) when someone admits that they’ve made a mistake and tries to rectify it. But it infuriates me when someone insists that they’ve done nothing wrong, especially when they treat me like an idiot with transparently misleading denials, rationalizations, and blame-shifting.

    Again, if he does not see it it does not exist; and when he is referred to it, he does not bother.

    It infuriates him only when israel makes “mistakes” (such as establishing a state). when palestinians make murderous “mistakes” one after another, he’s not infuriated at all. since only they have grievances, they’re entitled. not complex at all, you see?

    Note that it is JB who treats himself like an idiot, by swallowing lock stock and barrel the falsehoods by arab propaganda and the press and ignores any counter evidence for deniability (“I have not seen it”).

    JB>As mentioned elsewhere, I held pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian views for many years. But those views didn’t hold water.

    So if they didn’t hold water, why did jb hold pro-israeli views? and why do the pro-palestinian views hold water now? jb does not say or ground either position. it’s just a matter of trusting his uneducated “common sense”.

    As to his moral superiority, we have seen his cavalier attitude towards himself doing exactly what the israelis have done.

    Unfortunately, jb’s sense is indeed all too common. We have a saying in my native country: when god distributed feeblemindedness in the world, some people stood several times in line. Let’s not confuse empty polemics with substance.

  25. RL says:

    Eliyahu had trouble posting, so here’s his post via email to me:

    Joanne,
    Maybe we ought to get away from the notion of a political spectrum, of a right-left division. Many “Leftists” today sound like some of the Christian Socialists and National Socialists of the 1930s, who would probably be called “rightists” today, especially in regard to positions regarding the Jews but not only that. Does anyone recall that the ecology or environmentalist movement in the USA used to be called the conservation movement and was considered politically conservative or “right-wing”? Isn’t it just too peculiar that these ideas have jumped around on the supposed political spectrum, as if playing musical chairs? Doesn’t anyone think in terms of small-group organizing, psychological warfare, or indoctrination practiced by well-funded interests?

    By the way, I’m glad that Cynic was not so cynical when he said that our posts may have taught folks something.

  26. RL says:

    Thank you JeffB for your extensive response to my questions. Unlike some of the people commenting here, and like some others, I don’t think your half as stupid as you seem. Nor do I consider arguing with you a waste of time, even if I don’t change your mind even one bit. As I put it in another comment, it’s only when things begin to hurt that people reconsider the things they like to believe. I do have some more questions based on your responses, and I hope you’ll answer them.

    My initial comments in italics, yours in regular type, my latest responses in bold italics.

    RL 05-21-07a

    Perhaps my (professed) ignorance has been overstated:

    “Jeff, who admits that he is not particularly knowledgeable about the history of this conflict”

    I admit that I am not an historian, nor have I engaged in an academic historical analysis of middle eastern or Palestinian history. In comparing my expertise to that of a professional historian (RL) I would certainly say that it is limited. However, I infer from the fact that I have not heard any facts or arguments that I hadn’t read many times before that my knowledge is comparable to that of other participants.

    Regarding my denial of an existential threat to Israel:

    “So where did he [Jeff B] get the “information,” and what gave him the assurance to assert it so boldly. (He could have written, “as far as I know…” or even asked the question, “what evidence…?”)

    You’re absolutely correct that this statement should have been qualified and supported with evidence. I can only plead that I was posing a somewhat off-the-cuff challenge to a claim of existential threat that was similarly unqualified and unsupported.

    thanks for your correction. i do think that if you want to understand why some people might find you offensive (if that concerns you rather than pleases you), you might consider that for those who are aware of and afraid of Arab genocidal intentions, your “off-the-cuff” remark seems about pretty thoughtless.

    “First, who is your source for the statement above in bold/italic? Is this from your research?”

    The source of the statement is my own reading and “common sense” – I’ve been in enough fights know that “I’m going to kill you” is seldom an accurate indication of intent, read enough war propoganda to know that claims such as “we will bury you/drive you into the sea/wipe you out” are generally vastly exaggerated, read enough history to know that genocidal wars are very rare. I’m also assuming that physical evidence of actual or attempted genocide would be made widely known.

    Sophia has already challenged you on your “common sense.” I must say, it’s one of the less intelligent comments you’ve made in this debate. It’s a perfect illustration of “liberal cognitive egocentrism” — they’re like us… we exaggerate but don’t really mean it (e.g., locker room, or “Life of Brian” “you call me big nose once more and i’ll thump you i will…”) — so why should they mean it? And why shouldn’t the Jews, who had just lost 6 million to just such a “loud mouth” who told everyone what he intended to do and did it, take them seriously.

    What if, among the braggarts full of hot air, there’s a sociopath who really means it? How are you going to distinguish?

    “Second, what if it turns out you are wrong? What evidence would you accept as probative (rather than mere propaganda — see below)?

    If I’m wrong I guess I’ll have to sheepishly admit my error. I would accept physical evidence of plans or actions aimed at genocide rather than war, i.e. killing the enemy population rather than achieving military/political control. I’ve mentioned two instances where genocidal intent would likely be manifest in actions, and the lack (to my knowledge) of any such action.

    I’m sorry. That’s a little like having a kid commit suicide in your class, and saying, “well, lots of people threaten suicide, how was i to know he meant it?” i think your sheepish apology, after insisting that there’s no threat and heaping criticism on israel for its imperialism as a result, would be a lot too little and way too late. I think you owe it to your own integrity and to the world you live in to consider far more carefully what’s going on here, since you seem to be quite free in your heavily weighted moral conclusions. As for the instances of clear genocidal intent, what do you think suicide bombing is, if not frustrated genocidal intent?

    “What importance does this assertion of “no evidence” have for your view of the conflict?”

    I don’t understand the question.

    As far as I can make out it’s critical. If the Israelis are under genocidal threat, if the Palestinians don’t want a state but want to wipe out the humiliation of an independent Jewish state, then much of your attribution of fault aimed at Jewish imperialism and colonialism would be mitigated, no? Or is the “original sin” of coming home to a place with less than a million people, but now, after modernization, supporting about ten million, so outrageous that no amount of Palestinian viciousness is blameworthy?

    ‘Third, how do you decide what makes something propaganda, and what makes it “true”?’

    “I infer certain things from your response… The key element here is not the factual basis of Krauthammer’s assertions. … Instead, you seem to dismiss his comments as propaganda because they [are intended to] “conveniently ignore Israel’s misdeeds and the valid enmity they produce to wrongly portray Israel as the innocent victim of Arab malice.” This suggest that you identify propaganda by its effects, not its accuracy.

    I identify propoganda by its intent to deceive. WWI posters portraying the Germans as “The Hun” raping, burning and pillaging Europe were no doubt based on actual occurances. They were propoganda because their intention was to falsely attributed this aberrant behavior to the German Army in general. Krauthammer’s essay is factually correct, but incomplete. When Krauthammer calls Egyptian actions a “reckless provocation” because “Israel [was] in possession of no occupied territories whatsoever”, his intent (in my view) is to falsely portray Israel as the victim of unprovoked aggression. He makes no mention of Israel’s attack on Egypt 11 years before, or the fact that only US intervention prevented Israel (or its allies) from permanently occupying the Sinai and the Suez Canal.

    And if, as fp mentioned, Nasser never made any mention of 1956 in his war rhetoric, and no evidence of this previous incident as a key factor in Nasser’s behavior, would that mean that you are manufacturing material for your own “spin”? After all, you make no mention of Nasser’s behavior in 1956, nor of his (initially surprising) anti-Zionist rhetoric which spilled out from him as his own (phoney) socialist reforms failed to make a difference and he wanted to shift attention from his failures to a scapegoat in the period after 1954.

    History is too complicated for you to decide that you know better what’s honest and what’s false on so little knowledge, and then accuse someone else of being a propagandist based on your (very tenuous) judgments. Why not save the term propaganda (especially “pure propaganda” for really dishonest stuff rather than valid historical arguments you disagree with.

    I also view as propoganda the typical Zionist description of the 1948 war that simply begins with Arab armies attacking Jews. While factually true, the intent of this narrative is to portray the nascent Israel as the victim of unprovoked aggression, ignoring or dismissing any legitimate grievances that the arrival of 600,000 Europeans in a tiny country created.

    There surely is Arab propoganda. Little or none appears in the papers I read, however.

    My guess is that you don’t recognize most Arab propaganda. You consistently channel it.

    “But in your brief comment you make two things clear about your own thinking: 1) Israel’s misdeeds have produced legitimate Arab enmity, and 2) (therefore) the Israelis are not the innocent victims of Arab malice. Let’s call these two points your “moral conclusion” about the conflict.

    Correct.

    “Thus anything that might lead towards the conclusion that Arab hatred may not be justifiable, and that Israelis are the victims of excessive enmity cannot be admitted as historical evidence, but rather automatically becomes propaganda lest your moral position lose its grounding. So you conveniently dismiss as propaganda anything you don’t like.”

    Incorrect, and insulting.

    i’m neither sure why that’s incorrect, nor is it fair for you to say “insulting.” if you disagree with a criticism, address the criticism, don’t act wounded.

    “I know few Zionists who don’t agree with the statement that this is a morally complicated problem with rights and wrongs on both sides. It’s the Palestinians and Arabs who insist on their innocence, on their “legitimate” anger and hatred, on the total guilt of the Israelis. “

    Unfortunately, I haven’t see any admission of Zionist wrongdoing on this site. That would go a long way for me. I am pretty willing to forgive and forget (or at least move on) when someone admits that they’ve made a mistake and tries to rectify it. But it infuriates me when someone insists that they’ve done nothing wrong, especially when they treat me like an idiot with transparently misleading denials, rationalizations, and blame-shifting.

    Your protestations aside, the sincerity of your comment seems highly dubious. “… it infuriates me when someone insists they’ve done nothing wrong… etc.” You should be frothing at the mouth at how the Palestinians refuse any blame, engage in no self-criticism, and then feed you misleading denials, rationalizations and blame-shifting. And yet… you side with them. How can you expect us to take you seriously when you’re so inconsistent in your indignation?

    “How about trying on both paradigms rather than clinging so ferociously to one that you dismiss as propaganda whatever historical evidence contradicts it, and you accept as historical “fact” whatever the proponents from “your” side assert, however much those assertions might be historically unfounded “propaganda”?”

    My sentiments exactly. As mentioned elsewhere, I held pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian views for many years. But those views didn’t hold water.

    Now this last line fascinates me. Please, tell me when you were pro-Israel, and when and what brought you to the realization that those views didn’t hold water. I will happily post it (if you want) as a guest post (and insist on comments being written with respect, even edit, any criticism that gets insulting. I am especially interested in the timing and the key events that led to your change of mind.

    Thank you for your time and patience.

  27. fp says:

    elyahu,

    there is no continuum, but a circle. the closer to what a continuum would have been, the more the distinction between left and right is blurred.

    hitler and stalin were not that much different where it counts, where they?

  28. fp says:

    RL,

    you’ve just repeated in nicer style what I said.

    i predict you will get the exactly same kind of reply as before to your comments and invitation. as long as he succeeds in being lazy and extract attention from people, he will continue.

    we must agree to disagree on his intelligence: if he were, he would not insist on remaining uninformed, yet continue to opine on what he admits he does not have a good knowledge of.

  29. Joanne says:

    “After seeing that the usual repertoire of arguments and citations isn’t working, the regulars conclude that he must be this or that: ‘leftist’, ‘jew-hater’, ‘incapable of reason,’ etc. It’s your obligation to adjust your argument to JeffB’s criticism, not dismiss him. You don’t just give someone a syllabus and wait for him wave the white flag.” [Terminator X]

    Agreed. And when people resort to terms like “leftist” (which shouldn’t be an insult, by the way), or “Jew-hater,” it’s only an embarrassment.

    Let’s be fair, however. Many of us did not throw invectives at JeffB. We are ready to give up simply because we feel that the debate was starting to go around in circles. We were all starting to repeat ourselves to no avail.

    As far as adjusting our argument to his criticism is concerned: I’m sorry, but I thought that’s precisely what most us were doing. There are over 100 comments on these related threads (which started with the post on Finkielkraut), and most of them are by no means devoted to crass insults.

    We did our best to address JeffB’s points, but he wasn’t impressed with what we had to say. OK, that’s his right. But it’s also our right not to want to continue butting our heads against the wall. Also, there is nothing wrong with giving JeffB a “syllabus.” He did ask for evidence, and he did claim a few times that his knowledge wasn’t that deep, so you can’t blame people for trying to give him references. And no one was waiting for a white flag. That’s just not fair to say.

    For my part, I found that JeffB was strongest when addressing the Jews’ right to a land in which they had been a minority for 1,400 years. And I referred to that a couple of times. Although I’m not sure I agree with him, I’m not sure I don’t. But on his other points his arguments do seem superficial and one-sided. And, quite frankly, I’m tired of dealing with them.

    All hail to Dr. Landes. His last post was very eloquent and forceful. It did show that there is more that can be said to JeffB, and Landes did it very well.

    However, I’m tired of arguing with someone whose mind is well set. Unlike Dr. Landes, I don’t have enough knowledge or patience to make things begin to “hurt” enough for JeffB. I can only challenge him so far, and I’ve already gone that far. I’ll be glad to leave the rest to others who are better equipped to continue.

    I don’t have the feeling that–on this thread–we’re doing the work of Heracles. It feels more like the work of Sisyphus to me. You know, that’s the guy whose punishment was to roll a boulder with great effort to the top of a hill only to see it roll back down, forcing him to start all over again…ad infinitum.

  30. Joanne says:

    Sorry, Eliyahu, I didn’t see your comment at first. I think you’re right that the term “left” has become fuzzier. I think it still has meaning, but the meaning has gotten fuzzier, especially as Marxism is less of a factor and the left now seems to focus on gender and identity issues.

  31. fp says:

    jeff probably never visited the MEMRI site. and I doubt that he will, because he then will have to face the mothers of propaganda, so blatant, murderous and stupid, that even he would have to accept it as a fact. and then he would have to recognize that there is nothing like it by israelis or the west.

    here’s one sample of hundreds:

    http://switch5.castup.net/frames/20041020_MemriTV_Popup/video_480x360.asp?ai=214&ar=1454wmv&ak=null

    i have a guess that he may respond in a certain way to this, if at all. if he does i’ll let you know.

  32. Jeff B says:

    RL 05-22-07

    I don’t think your half as stupid as you seem.

    Allow me to return the compliment! ;-)

    “if you want to understand why some people might find you offensive (if that concerns you rather than pleases you), you might consider that for those who are aware of and afraid of Arab genocidal intentions, your “off-the-cuff” remark seems about pretty thoughtless.”

    Being offensive is not my aim and certainly concerns me. I do intend to challenge your views, even cherished and widely held ones, but without impugning anyone’s intelligence or integrity. Unfortunately every aspect of this conflict involves sensitive issues, and it’s impossible to discuss them without pushing some buttons.

    What if, among the braggarts full of hot air, there’s a sociopath who really means it? How are you going to distinguish?

    You can’t. You need to be on guard but not obsessed. During the cold war the US faced the threat of nuclear annihilation by the USSR, and that threat shaped our entire foreign policy and outlook on the world, often in negative ways. Russia still has enough nukes to wipe us out, but we’ve changed our outlook considerably. We haven’t eliminated our nuclear arsenal, but neither do we base our view of the world on obsessive fear of imminent destruction.

    Whatever threats Israel has faced, 34 years have passed since the last war, and experience has shown the Arabs to be paper tigers. Israel has the 6th (4th?) strongest military in the world. I’m not saying that Israel should throw down her arms and assume everyone is going to play nice, just stop basing attitudes and policies on outdated fears of imminent destruction.

    “As for the instances of clear genocidal intent, what do you think suicide bombing is, if not frustrated genocidal intent?”

    Suicide bombing is a terror tactic used in assymetrical warfare. It was used by the Vietnamese against the US, and it’s being used against the US and others now. It is no more or less genocidal in intent than any other tactic.

    If the Israelis are under genocidal threat, if the Palestinians don’t want a state but want to wipe out the humiliation of an independent Jewish state, then much of your attribution of fault aimed at Jewish imperialism and colonialism would be mitigated, no? Or is the “original sin” of coming home to a place with less than a million people, but now, after modernization, supporting about ten million, so outrageous that no amount of Palestinian viciousness is blameworthy?

    I don’t think this comparison of misbehavior, despite its wide appeal, is a useful way to look at issues. It’s moral relativism – bad behavior by one party can be justified by the situation, i.e. the other party’s bad behavior. And it reminds me (unfavorably) of my kid’s perpetual attempt to evade reponsibility – “He did it first!”. The actions of each party have to be evaluated independently.

    RL: “So you conveniently dismiss as propaganda anything you don’t like.”
    JB: “Incorrect, and insulting.”
    RL: “i’m neither sure why that’s incorrect, nor is it fair for you to say “insulting.” if you disagree with a criticism, address the criticism, don’t act wounded.”

    I disagree.

    and if, as fp mentioned, Nasser never made any mention of 1956 in his war rhetoric, and no evidence of this previous incident as a key factor in Nasser’s behavior, would that mean that you are manufacturing material for your own “spin”?

    I call the connection between Israel’s attack in 1956 and Egypt’s rejoinder in 1967 logical inference, not “manufacturing material”. I don’t think the British made a point of announcing that we kicked their butt in the Revolution, but you can bet it had a lot to do with the War of 1812. If Cuba attacked the US and occupied Florida before being asked to leave by the Russians, I’m pretty sure we’d try to return the favor. And I’m pretty sure our public announcements would be all about Cuba’s current transgressions, not about our humiliating defeat.

    Why not save the term propaganda (especially “pure propaganda” for really dishonest stuff rather than valid historical arguments you disagree with.

    Really dishonest stuff gets detected readily. It’s the mostly true but incomplete material that is dangerous. If Krauthammer had mentioned the Sinai attack and rejected it as unimportant in motivating Egyptian behavior, then we would have a disagreement over a valid historical argument. But when he specifically mentioned that Israel was attacked “even though” it occupied no territory, while omitting the recent history of invasion, it seemed to me that he was being deliberately deceptive.

    “You should be frothing at the mouth at how the Palestinians refuse any blame, engage in no self-criticism, and then feed you misleading denials, rationalizations and blame-shifting. And yet… you side with them. How can you expect us to take you seriously when you’re so inconsistent in your indignation?”

    Again, I think in general that comparison of misbehavior and insistence that an individual denounce one party’s behavior before he can validly criticize the other is not useful or ethically sound. In this particular case, I am operating from a very different paradigm than you, a paradigm which leads me to the conclusion that the Palestinians have responded fairly rationally and ethically to the situation. I don’t attribute much blame to them, and consequently see little denial or rationalization.

  33. Jeff B says:

    “Now this last line fascinates me. Please, tell me when you were pro-Israel, and when and what brought you to the realization that those views didn’t hold water … I am especially interested in the timing and the key events that led to your change of mind.

    Nothing very dramatic, or clearly remembered. As a kid I think I first became aware of Israel during the 1967 war, and like everyone else sympathized with Israel as the underdog. “Exodus” provided the standard narrative and generated a lot of support. I remember having to take a position against Israel in Model UN (Byelorussia), but I maintained a pro-Israel stance until about 10 years ago. I was preparing for my first trip to Israel (scientific), and started to read up on the country. I encountered the standard works that confirmed my earlier views, but also Benny Morris’ books and a few pro-Palestinian articles. The latter two made a lot more sense to me. I also had an Arab-Israeli post-doc work with me for a few months about that time. Although he didn’t really talk much, I gathered that he was somewhat disaffected and discriminated against, and I wanted to learn more about that situation. My visit to Israel was actually not that informative – I was too concerned about offending my hosts to get into in-depth discussions. Two other experiences were probably subconsciously formative. I spent a year as a 12 year old in a county in rural Florida that was one of the last in the US to integrate – there was an incredible amount of hostility toward northerners (me) and toward the blacks who were going to enter the schools the following year. The kids I was in school with were perfectly normal, kind, decent, intelligent – and racist to the core. I also spent time in Alaska before and during the Pipeline (mid 70s). I got to see the effects of a rapid influx of large numbers of wealthy (relative to the natives) people into a fairly isolated, low population region. Prices for everything shot up, the newcomers bought up all the good land, then most of the lousy land. Many “natives” (people who had lived there a year before the pipeline) struggled financially and to cope with the rapid changes, and they were angry and resentful toward their fellow Americans who happened to be up there temporarily for a high-paying job. At the same time, I was viewing the late stages of the much longer-scale invasion of Alaska by whites and the impact on the true Native Alaskans. I got some inkling of what the Palestinians might have experienced when strangers from another continent and culture arrived by the hundreds of thousands in land they felt was theirs.

  34. fp says:

    i stopped reading jeff’s reply after a few paragraphs, when he compared palestinian suicidal bombings to north vietnamese tactics. that was enough for me. anybody who does not see the difference, nor the one
    between the USSR-US conflict and the arab-israeli conflict is not worthy of attention.

    the rest of the reply is the usual obfuscation and avoidance to address the issues. the dismissal of moral relativism when it is exactly what he does, and the notion of “his logical inference” when the evidence is contrary are most galling.

    i stand behind my previous position that any exchange is a waste of time.

  35. Cynic says:

    I encountered the standard works that confirmed my earlier views, but also Benny Morris’ books…

    Ah, yes. The revisionist historian is one for the facts no doubt.

    Benny Morris and the Reign of Error
    By Ephraim Karsh
    …….
    Morris repeatedly omits key words or even sentences from his quotations, thus distorting their meaning; or he places the quotes out of context; or he portrays them in false light. At times he even omits entire passages, then has the nerve to castigate the speaker or writer for the absence of these very passages!

    I hope this will be accepted because although Efraim Karsh is professor of Mediterranean studies at King’s College, University of London, and editor of Israel Affairs., he comes from the wrong side going by prvious phrases JeffB used in this ongoing discussion.

    … I got some inkling of what the Palestinians might have experienced when strangers from another continent and culture arrived by the hundreds of thousands in land they felt was theirs.

    So much so that they have been fruitful and multiplied and have profited in a myriad of ways from the industrious manner in which those strangers tackled the swamps, desert, rock and rubble, cleared out Malaria, glaucoma and other diseases ….This has all been mentioned before so what’s the point?

  36. fp says:

    heh, heh, morris and the “new historians”. i missed that part because i stopped reading.

    i guess jeff’s “common sense” that he depends on so much could not detect the systematic errors and falsifications in morris’ work (as it obviously could not detect most of the propaganda that he channels). and he never bothered to read reviews of his work to make sure he’s not fooled).

    karsh is a MUST READ on the conflict. note that two karsh items which address the very errors jeff is infused with were among the list of sources i recommended for jeff, which he as usual ignored.

    what jeff does not know (and does not want to, apparently) is that ARABS from the surrounding west-created countries came to the area in order to take advantage of the development that the jews initiated.
    they were doing the same thing before they started the intifada. arafat gave all that up to continue his phased plan. karsh is the source for that too:

    http://www.meforum.org/article/605
    http://www.canadiancoalition.com/forum/messages/10056.shtml
    http://www.meforum.org/article/581

  37. fp says:

    btw, morris comes from the wrong side too, but he apparently was accepted.

    it should be obvious that RL was right when he explained how selective jeff’s “common sense” is.

  38. fp says:

    For those who interested in the truth about the a-i conflict and do not rely on just their “common sense”, efraim karsh is a must read.

    Several of his books are avilable via my recommended readings page
    http://www.dbdebunk.com/page/page/4304773.htm

    Rethinking the Middle East
    Islamic Imperialism
    The Arab-Israeli Conflict
    Fabricating Israeli History

    Here are his contribution to MEQ:
    http://www.meforum.org/docs/author/Efraim+Karsh

    And here you can find about his other voluminous writings:

    http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/humanities/med/who/karsh/

  39. Jeff B says:

    fp

    Other than former IDF Major Karsh, is there an independent source of criticism of the new historians? Perhaps someone from a different academic background? Or is this a one-man rebuttal of at least four independent Israeli historians?

  40. Jeff B says:

    Sophia 05-24-07
    You raise some interesting questions. I’ve been a little hesitant to reply to for fear of appearing insensitive or anti-Judaic, but here goes.
    ‘Would “common sense” have predicted the Holocaust only a few years earlier, at the hands and often with the assistance of sophisticated, “civilized” Germany and other European states?’
    No.
    ‘Would “common sense” have predicted the dreadful treatment of refugees from Europe as they tried to flee Europe, even at the hands of Britain and America?’
    Yes. The reluctance of both countries to accept millions of immigrants in a very short period of time during a world-wide depression was rational, particularly since no one predicted the horrible outcome of this decision.
    ‘Would “common sense” have predicted the way the Holocaust survivors were treated in Europe after the liberation of the camps? There were pogroms and many were killed in Poland, conditions were generally miserable and the Bevin government did everything it could to keep the devastated remnants of European Jewry locked up in the graveyard of Europe.’
    Yes. Given the vast level of Polish collaboration with the Nazis, it’s not surprising that Holocaust survivors were treated badly when they returned.
    ‘There’s a book … which speaks of the desperate attempts of the survivors to flee Europe. Of course refugee ships were fired upon people sent back to what were essentially concentration camps.’.
    As much as one sympathizes with the plight of European Jews and abhors the intolerance of their neighbors, the problem of Jewish-Christian relations in Europe should have been addressed at its source. One doesn’t solve the Balkan crisis by shipping all the Croats to Argentina. One doesn’t solve the problem of race relations in the US by shipping all African-Americans to Australia. One solves the problem at its source by protecting the rights of the minority and perhaps by small, local relocations (e.g moving Jews out of rabidly racist areas of Poland). In my view, Bevin’s reluctance to go for a quick fix that let Europeans off the hook while creating a crisis in the Mideast was reasonable and far-sighted.
    ‘The situation confronting the Yishuv was indeed dire. ‘
    No argument with that. But sieges and closely fought battles occur in every war – they do not imply that genocide is the outcome if one side loses.
    “Was Heykal Pasha lying when he said in 1947 that the proposed UN Partition would endanger the 1,000,000 Jews living throughout the Arab world, and result in antisemitism worse than the Nazis’? ….. He wasn’t lying. And the Middle East is now practically judenfrei outside of Israel. “
    To label Arab hostility toward Zionists and their supporters as anti-Judaism (a fair substitute for “antisemitism”?) is as wrong as labeling French hostility toward the Germans and their supporters as anti-Christianism. The hostility is based on specific harmful actions of European settlers who happen to be Jewish.
    Do you agree that there was a direct cause/effect relationship between the expulsion of the Palestinians from what became Israel and the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries, where they had lived in peace for years (centuries, millenia)? Didn’t one gross injustice result in another? Is the Arab world judenfrei because of intrinsic Arab prejudice or because of an understandable (though childish and unjust) tit-for-tat response to the actions of the Zionists? If so, then put the bulk of the blame where it belongs, on the European Zionists who seized the land and homes of 600,000 Palestinians and left them refugees.

  41. JeffB says:

    fp

    “i stopped reading jeff’s reply after a few paragraphs, when he compared palestinian suicidal bombings to north vietnamese tactics. that was enough for me. anybody who does not see the difference … is not worthy of attention.”

    Please consider that I am the product of an educational “system [that] does not inculcate knowledge and ability to reason, but is rather based on a cookbook approach, where the burden of thinking is minimized to the max”. Could you please list a few facts that differentiate Palestinian suicide bombers from others?

  42. fp says:

    that’s exactly right jeff. which is also the reason why I won’t. because when I did, you ignored it and continued to stick to arguments demonstrated to be wrong.

    it’s now clear that you switched your position on the conflict based on falsehoods and you validated my point that your valiant so-called “common sense” is incapable of detecting propaganda.

    several people here explained that exchanges on the net are not the proper mean for education. it is precisely the faulty education system which makes you think that “common sense” and net exchanges are all that’s needed to know, understand and opine intelligently, and makes you strive for oversimplicication.

    if you want to be taken seriously, here’s the deal (and this is against my better judgment): (1) read the sources to which I referred you, and particularly “Morris Reign of Error” to which you were also referred (2) defend your position based on that evidence. then I will consider replying to your question, which may entail other references.

    until you do, you’re a waste of time. to reiterate: it is your responsibility to educate yourself when you’re shown to be wrong, not anybody else’s.

  43. fp says:

    here’s another example that demonstrates you’re not just ignorant, but also not very intelligent.

    it’s something that was predictable, as somebody else did, and which I pointed to: it was OK for you to accept israeli Morris’ butchered evidence and logic as correct, but Karsh’s correct scholarly work you don’t because he was an “army major”. this demonstrates, first, that you know zilch about the nature of the israeli army; and second that your “common sense” is actually taking as true what fits your uninformed preconceptions. as a result you are quite gullible and prone to channel real propaganda, and deem truth to be propaganda.

    and this makes you unworthy of anybody’s time.

    incidentally, I did not send you ONLY karsh items, including a link to a full page of books. but as I predicted, you would never go there, because your mind is already set and you are not prepared to change it, no matter what.

  44. Michael B says:

    Melanie Phillips with a couple of informative posts, here and here, with additionally informative links.

    The latter of the two highlights information pertinent to international law, post WWI and Britain’s Palestinian Mandate. The former contains more historical detail as well as summary, for example a gloss on Hebron that belies the oft-repeated settler oriented line and dismissiveness:

    “Jews lived there continuously for some 38 centuries — Abraham settled there some 1800 years before Christ – until they were driven out by an Arab pogrom. In 1929, Palestinian Arabs committed a massacre in Hebron in which more than 60 Jews were murdered. … The atrocity was so severe that the surviving Jews were evacuated, although some later returned and lived there until the Arab riots in 1936 finally ethnically cleansed this sacred place of its Jews.”

    The ellipsis serves to omit some of the more egregious aspects of the atrocity. The story also serves to point out the fact the Jerusalem, Hebron, other towns as well, had majority Jewish populations for millenia. In terms of the broader geography, the following:

    “Even under the Mandate, the Arabs in Palestine did not regard themselves as a people seeking nationhood at all. Very few were there before the Jews arrived. The Palestine Royal Commission reported in 1913 that on the road from Gaza to the north, ‘no orange groves orchards or vineyards were to be seen until one reached Yabna [a Jewish village]… the western part towards the sea was almost a desert… The villages in this area were few and thinly populated’. Sherif Hussein, the guardian of holy places in Arabia, wrote: ‘The resources if the country are still virgin soil and will be developed by the Jewish immigrants’.”

    All the above, again, is further underscored by the fact that Jordan was created out of 80% of Britain’s Palestinian Mandate.

    Both of Phillips’ posts are worth a thorough and attentive read.

  45. Michael B says:

    I didn’t intend to indicate Hebron has had a majority Jewish population in more recent centuries.

  46. fp says:

    here’s some analysis on the jewish rights to the territories claimed to be plaestinian and occupied by israel:

    http://www.aijac.org.au/resources/reports/international_law.pdf

    http://www.mythsandfacts.com/Conflict/mandate_for_palestine/Mandate_for_Palestine.pdf

    Do you want to bet that jeff won’t check them out either?

  47. This (and JeffB) all remind me of Yul Brynner. When I was a kid I remember seeing him on one of the old “talk shows”. I never had the patience for those shows- Merv Griffen, Dick Cavett etc.. My parents were watching and I was floating through the room and the raw charisma of Brynner held me for a little while. The host, whoever he was asked Brynner why he never seemed to get drawn into hollywood squabbles. Brynner said that he had been given a bit of advice as a young man- (I wish I could remember who had told him this and the exact words) It went something like this: “Never fight with an idiot. When you fight with an idiot, he can’t rise to your level so you have to sink to his level. At his level he will beat you every time!”

  48. fp says:

    quite right. i have a term for jeff and his ilk: vociferous ignoramus.

    for those for whom the analyses above are too much of effort, here are the “executive summaries”:

    http://www.melaniephillips.com/diary/?p=1528
    http://www.melaniephillips.com/diary/?p=1527

  49. fp says:

    i empahsize the following, from the horse’s mouth:

    “Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leaders have frankly disavowed distinct Palestine identity. On March 3, 1977, for example, the head of the PLO Military Operations Department, Zuhair Muhsin, told the Netherlands paper Trouw that there are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese:

    ‘We are one people. Only for political reasons do we carefully underline our Palestinian identity. For it is of national interest for the Arabs to encourage the existence of the Palestinians against Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestine identity is there only for tactical reasons. The establishment of a Palestinian State is a new expedient to continue the fight against Zionism and for Arab unity.’…

  50. JeffB says:

    Michael B. 05-25-07

    Melanie Phillips writes:

    “Israel was the nation state of the Jews centuries before the Arabs took it by force, and an unbroken Jewish presence remained in Jerusalem and other cities, some of which, indeed, had a Jewish majority.”

    I take it you agree with this statement, and the implicit justification for re-establishment of the nation-state of Israel 2000 years after its last conquest. I just don’t follow your logic.

    The Jews acquired control of the land by conquering the Canaanites, attacking their cities without provocation, and killing every man, woman, child, and animal.

    After a series of conquests and repatriations, the Jews were conquered by the Romans and eventually driven out of the land. The Romans controlled the area for 700 years until they were conquered in turn by the Arabs, who controlled the area for 1300 years before the arrival of European Zionists.

    What logical and consistent justification is there for asserting Jewish “ownership”, a right to unlimited immigration, and a right to establish a Jewish State 2000 years after the Roman conquest?

    If former control of an area centuries in the past is all that’s required, then the world would be in chaos. If every ethnic group that has ever been conquered or displaced in the past 2000 years were to assert a right to return to its original home and create its own nation, we would live in a state of perpetual worldwide warfare.

    If a majority in a major town or city is all that is required then we would also have a troubling precedent. A Mormon majority in a major US city would justify unlimited immigration of Mormons from throughout the world and creation of a Mormon State within the US. An Hispanic majority in a major US city would justify unlimited immigration of Hispanics from throughout the world and creation of a Catholic State. Again, widespread chaos and bloodshed would result.

    As a side note, why is so much venom directed towards the Arabs/Palestinians rather than the Romans/Italians? It was the Romans who destroyed the Temple, razed Jerusalem, and exiled the Jews. The Arabs conquered and displaced the Romans, not the Jews.

  51. fp says:

    mike,

    several predictable and predicted points to be aware of:

    1. jeff requires evidence from others. when sources are offered he ignores them.

    2. his “common sense” did not save him from forming his positions on falsehoods.

    3.when his ignorance and gullibility is demonstrated, he does not address it, but instead picks up on others and starts the whole shabang again.

    4. despite the pretensions of his moral high horse, he was proven a hypocrite.

    Giving him any more attention is a wast of time.

  52. pst314 says:

    Eliyahu rightly points out that there were numerous Arab massacres of Jews during WWII, but it would be worth noting that there were also massacres that preceded the war, and indeed that KKK-like anti-Jewish violence long preceded Zionism.

    Furthermore, a major or perhaps the chief reason for Arab resentment of European colonial power was interference in the traditional mistreatment of Jews. (This is from the mouths of Arabs, long before they learned to play the liberal-guilt card.)

    The claim that Arab hatred and violence is a result of Zionism is utterly false. It would, however, be accurate to say that it is in part a reaction to successful Jewish resistance, just as a significant part of KKK rage is caused by the fact that African-Americans are no longer submissive chattel.

  53. pst314 says:

    “The Arabs conquered and displaced the Romans, not the Jews.”

    As a matter of fact, there were still plenty of Jews living in the region at the time of the jihads. The largest religous group was Christians, followed by Jews and several other religions. (IIRC, you can probably find the statistics in historian Bat Ye’or’s books.) The jihads implemented ethnic cleansing, forced conversions, murder, enslavement, sexual enslavement of women and girls, appropriation of land, poverty-creating levels of taxation, discrimination and oppression. All these policies were designed to enrich the muslim rulers and eradicate all other religions. Compared to the muslims, the Romans, whose primary interest was civil order, were a bunch of Rotarians.

  54. Michael B says:

    JeffB,

    As with your response to the “complexity” factor (in this thread, my reply following) wherein the Ptolemy/Copernicus analogy was invoked and as with so many other comments, an utter failure to seriously engage along discernibly cogent lines, along empirical/historical and reasonable/rational lines and along lines wherein you require as much of yourself, wherein you demand of yourself, as much as you would require of others. One or two examples only.

    To my statement:

    “Israel was the nation state of the Jews centuries before the Arabs took it by force, and an unbroken Jewish presence remained in Jerusalem and other cities, some of which, indeed, had a Jewish majority.”

    You reply as follows:

    “I take it you agree with this statement, and the implicit justification for re-establishment of the nation-state of Israel 2000 years after its last conquest. I just don’t follow your logic.”

    First of, do you agree with the statement? If not, why not, as explained with recourse to a rational and historical basis? Or if so, at least state as much so we can at least begin to understand where we agree and where we disagree. In order to carry on an exchange along rational/empirical lines you cannot perpetually utilize discontinuities in the line of thought for the sake of rhetorical and presumptive purposes. It’s a rather basic tenet of cogent discourse and exchanges.

    Secondly, while I am not invoking that statement as the line of reasoning, as a single line of reasoning I’m using, I nonetheless am invoking that statement as one of many pieces of the puzzle, one of many pieces of the historical, cultural, socio-political tapestry, as an entirely relevant piece of that tapestry and broad framework. Hence, again, and despite your continual misapprehension of what is being suggested, the relevant complexities as replied to in the above link are precisely that, relevant and an indicator of the overall framework and socio-political, cultural, historical, etc. tapestry.

    Put differently, your presentation of what you presume to be my “logic” is incorrect, it is a straw man reductio ad absurdum characterization of what I stated. But again, for the sake of congency and continuity, you don’t so much as indicate whether you agree with the statement or not.

    Next you invoke the Canaanites.

  55. Michael B says:

    I see I linked to my comment rather than yours in the link provided (the one with the Ptolemy/Copernicus analogy), but you get the idea.

  56. JeffB says:

    Michael B 05-29-07b

    “First of, do you agree with the statement? If not, why not, as explained with recourse to a rational and historical basis?”

    I agree with the first clause conditionally, and with the second completely.

    “Israel was the nation state of the Jews centuries before the Arabs took it by force

    I agree that Israel was the nation state of the Jews until it was conquered first by the Romans and 7 centuries later by the Arabs.

    “and an unbroken Jewish presence remained in Jerusalem and other cities, some of which, indeed, had a Jewish majority.”

    Agreed.

    Sorry to be difficult. I’m trying to get a clear idea of the “canonical” logic or framework of premises justifying creation of the modern state of Israel. Phillips seemed to state this logic very succinctly in the quote above.

    Her premises seem easily countered, which is why I don’t understand her logic, and yours by (perhaps unfair/inappropriate) extension.

    It would probably be better to simply ask you to sketch out the framework as you see it, so I can understand or ask for clarification.

    Complexity is … being high-lighted as a critical factor, one which will illuminate … it’s the need to comprehend critical aspects of cultural and historical information, the need to plumb to proper and representative depths”

    Very well stated. The trick is distinguishing between distracting and illuminating complexity.

  57. RL says:

    to JeffB:
    I still await some substantive criticism of my discussion of the two paradigms — PCP vs HJP. in the meantime, let’s go with your analysis of the helio- vs. geo-centric paradigms. in order to explain muslim violence against infidels the world over with PCP rather than HJP, you end up needing to defend an Israelo-centric universe in which Israeli behavior (justifiably) provokes Muslim reactions. The immensely complicated Rube Goldberg machine necessary to sustain such an analysis strikes me as good evidence we need to look elsewhere for our primum mobile. Even if we just stay on topic — how do we understand the lack of any serious effort to “state-build” during the Oslo Process (1994-2000) or after being left alone with their democracy in Gaza (2005-?) on the part of the Palestinians.
    HJP explains this as the natural outcome of the Palestinians not having interest in their own state-building, but in the dismantling of another state (hence the hollowness of their claims to be motivated by a desire to be free and autonomous).
    how do you explain it?

  58. Jeff B says:

    RL 05-30-07

    I still await some substantive criticism of my discussion of the two paradigms — PCP vs HJP.”

    Jeff B vs. alia #5 was a criticism. As noted there, PCP and HJP are not paradigms – sets of postulates – but complex frameworks of presumed beliefs, motives, morality, interpretations, and specific views. Too complex to be very useful in my view. The lack of a Zionist framework to compare to the PCP framework further weakens the construction.

    Nor do I see much use in trying to explain or predict large group behavior with psychological/sociological notions like honor-shame or positive-sum outcomes. Honor-shame is a useful idea to explain, say, Japanese social mores or the best ways to negotiate with a Japanese individual. It is of little use in explaining or predicting twentieth century Japanese military/political behavior, particularly in a changing environment where other cultures are involved.

  59. Michael B says:

    JeffB,

    Likely my final response. I haven’t found your comments difficult, I have found them opaque and lacking cogency, lacking empirical/rational appeal. (Not to limit everything to a stale empiricism and rationalism, but that framework is nonetheless a prerequisite in support of the overall analysis.)

    Firstly, I cannot outline the entirety of the scaffolding or framework I would present, that would take a volume or two. Instead I’ll reemphasize the three essential aspects (of that framework) made in my 5/24, 6:08pm comment above, also adding RL’s most recent comment to it along with an adumbration to his paradigm comment, which I regard as entirely germane, even pivotal.

    The three points previously made are:

    1) The important of international law, which I merely linked to, here, and which Phillips has since adumbrated with an additional post, here. But once again, I won’t summarize or comment further, beyond supplying the links on the subject of international law.

    2) The excerpt from another link at Melanie Phillips’ site:

    “Jews lived there continuously for some 38 centuries — Abraham settled there some 1800 years before Christ – until they were driven out by an Arab pogrom. In 1929, Palestinian Arabs committed a massacre in Hebron in which more than 60 Jews were murdered. … The atrocity was so severe that the surviving Jews were evacuated, although some later returned and lived there until the Arab riots in 1936 finally ethnically cleansed this sacred place of its Jews.”

    And again, my representation of this excerpt (in contrast to your characterization) – which I suspect is similar to Phillips’ usage – “as one of many pieces of the puzzle … as an entirely relevant piece of that tapestry and broad framework.” A relevant piece of the scaffolding is precisely that, relevant and perhaps even requisite, not exhaustive.

    3) The note that the above “is further underscored by the fact that Jordan was created out of 80% of Britain’s Palestinian Mandate.” Which implicitly indicates things like 3a) Israel was created out of less than 20% of that mandate (initially, only 10% of the Mandate), 3b) Jordan’s Jews were themselves expelled from Jordan, 3c) as were a total of appx. 900,000 Jews variously expelled from other neighboring Arab and Persain states, 3d) more generally, some other factors as well such as what resulted from the Six-Day War.

    4) Again, RL’s recent point concerning, imo, relevant paradigms, together with the following adumbration and emphasis from this lengthy Paul Berman composition, an extended excerpt taken appx. 2/3 the way into the piece where he’s describing, in turn, a passage from a book authored by Tariq Ramadan’s:

    “So there is an exception [to Ramadan's conception of Dawa and Islam's militant advance]. It is violence against Zionists–against the plans of all Zionists and not just the Zionist extreme right wing, the Irgun (who were in fact terrorists, just as al-Banna says). But the peculiar note in that passage emanates from a single word, “incumbent”–a word suggesting that anti-Zionist violence is obligatory. A duty, not just a tactic. Moreover a duty linked with prayer … A religious duty.”

    [...]

    “There is something else in that word “incumbent,” together with the forehead bowed in prayer. Tactics speak to a given circumstance, but religious duties address the universe. The notion of a religiously mandated violence, an obligatory violence, therefore opens a door, and it is hard to see what could prevent ever wilder yet equally pious obligations from ultimately pushing their way through the open space. Qutb’s contribution to the notion of religious violence consisted largely of determining that Muslim “hypocrites,” quite as much as Zionists or any other outright enemy of Islam, merited a violent resistance.”

    So yes, RL’s question is very much an aspect of the scaffolding as well, another dimension, and the excerpt from Berman’s piece serves to highlight one poignant aspect of that fact. (Though to be fair to Berman and the point being made the entirety of Berman’s admittedly lengthy piece would need to be more fully appreciated.)

    There’s another reason I chose that excerpt, an excerpt from Tariq Ramadan and not, it needs to be emphasized, Hamas or Hizbollah or Ahmadinejad or Assad or Arafat or Saddam or any number of other players, all of whom take a decidedly more aggressive stance than Ramadan seemingly takes. But that other reason risk’s being lengthy itself, so enough for now.

  60. fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ says:

    michael,

    it was made very clear that jeffb (a) has admitted to a paradigm based on faulty information which he insists on holding on to (b)he is morally inconsistent (c) he criticizes his opponents without serious evidence (d) he never addresses criticism of his own position (e) he demands evidence, but when offered he refuses to study it.

    so i must ask again: what is the purpose and value of paying him any attention?

  61. Michael B says:

    I substantially agree but had my reasons, wanting to satisfy myself about some particulars pertinent to that lack of substance and rigor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>