As posted here, Bob Bernstein, the original founder of HRW, came out with serious criticism of Ken Roth in the op-ed pages of the NYT. That led to something of a sandstorm, with everyone from Helena (Hullo can you see Florida from here?) Cobban to Roth himself throwing the sand in our eyes. (I haven’t gotten to fisking Roth yet, but it’s ripe for fertilizer.) Now, Ma’ariv asks Bernstein why he did what he did, and he answers. (HT for English version to Gerald Steinberg)
Here are the questions sent to Bernstein by Ma’ariv and below are his answers, in full:
1- Why did you write this op-ed at the TN Times last week? what was the ‘straw that broke the camel back’ from your point of view?
Actually it has been brewing for a long time. I had been trying to do a long piece because many of my views about human rights in the Middle East are different from those being expressed by Human Rights Watch. The Goldstone Report made me feel I should get something out, so I wrote the NY Times op-ed piece.
2- What was your vision when you founded Human Right Watch and does the organization follow your vision in the recent years?
My vision, I should say our vision because it was supported by a wonderful board – was to go into closed societies and try and help people in those societies who wanted free speech. I was a book publisher so that was an especially important principle to me and it’s a key part of the Declaration of Human Rights. But, of course, other basic human rights are also vitally important. – freedom of religion, equal rights for women, to name just two. When governments of closed societies asked us what we were doing about our own country we would explain that the United States had many faults but because we were an open society we had many organizations and other ways to try and bring change. But after a while we decided we would do some work in the United States but try to not replicate what was being done by others.
Ethan Bronner, who probably should think twice before going back to Gaza, has an interesting article in the NYT on feelings in Gaza. According to him, the isolation and devastation that Gazans see around them has led them to rethink their support for Hamas. This goes counter to the “conventional wisdom” of most Western observers, who berate Israel both in principle — collective punishment — and in practice — it backfires.
But ironically, many of those who make that argument are also the people who jump on Hamas’ election as proof of democracy. They thereby offer a magnificent example of the way “progressives” treat Palestinians as children who must, at all costs, be protected from the consequences of their actions. Democracy without responsibility. What an excellent formula for the 21st century!
In the interviews, we get some insights into the way Palestinians — here, largely the professional, middle class — thought about the elections.
Opportunities Fade Amid Sense of Isolation in Gaza
By ETHAN BRONNER
Published: October 26, 2009
GAZA — The bank executive sits in a suit and tie behind his broad empty desk with plenty of time to talk. Almost no loans are being issued or corporate plans made. The Texas-trained engineer closed his firm because nothing is being built. The business student who dreamed of attending an American university — filling a computer file with meticulous hopes and plans — has stopped dreaming. He goes from school to a part-time job to home, where he joins his merchant father who sits unemployed.
Ten months after the Israeli military said it invaded this Palestinian coastal strip to stop the daily rocket fire of its Islamist rulers, there are many ways to measure the misery of Gaza.
Bits of rubble are being cleared, but nothing is going up. Several thousand homes remain destroyed. Several dozen families still live in United Nations tents strung amid their ruined houses. A three-year-old embargo on Hamas imposed by Israel and Egypt keeps nearly all factories shut and supplies away. Eighty percent of the population gets some form of assistance.
At least Bonner is honest enough to admit that the embargo is Egyptian as well as Israeli, something many, including Goldstone, do not concede explicitly. This point will be important, and absent, later on.
Rebecca Abou-Chedid, former director of outreach at the New America Foundation’s Middle East Task Force and former national political director at the Arab American Institute, writes about why she should be able to proudly give to JStreet and JStreet should not be ashamed to take her donations.
What’s not understandable (unless you accept the honor-shame paradigm), is why Arabs and Muslims haven’t formed an A-Street, militating for Arab/Muslim/Palestinian concessions aimed at making peace more likely?
Instead it’s perfectly pitched demopathic discourse about how my supporting Israelis working for peace is my democratic right and who are you to question my motives. Well I do question them. If you want peace, do what the Israelis and Jews do: criticize your own people, demand that they back down from their crazy, hardline positions, denounce immature and unjustified rioting on Haram al Sharif as harmful to the process, and demand that they recognize Israel as a Jewish state just as every Arab state is a Muslim state (except, for the time being, Lebanon).
Or are you afraid that the opposition to your Lobby group will not be as mild as that — for which you show contempt — of people like Lenny David, who merely argue with those he opposes. Or are you afraid you could never get more than a dozen people to openly support you? Or has it not even occurred to you that this is how to help peace?
Nightmare on J Street
Why can’t Arab Americans work for peace, too?
BY REBECCA ABOU-CHEDID | OCTOBER 22, 2009
At last, somebody found me out.
This week, former AIPAC and Israeli embassy official Lenny Ben-David published an article revealing that I had given a donation to the “pro-Israel and pro-peace” organization J Street. Because I am of Lebanese descent, this clearly indicates that my dollars must be intended to advance some pernicious anti-Israel agenda — and that J Street must be the vehicle for those aims.
I would be only too happy to ignore Ben-David’s article as a collection of cheap innuendo and loose associations, but the stakes are too high. With J Street’s inaugural conference less than one week away, opponents are desperate that it fail. The attacks on the organization, its founder Jeremy Ben-Ami, its staff, and their supporters have taken on an all too-familiar form — eschewing substance to malign the motives and associations of those they disagree with. Ben-David and his supporters are now attacking J Street for accepting contributions from Americans of Arab descent. The donations in question are largely symbolic, many of them in amounts between $30-$100, but his point is loud and clear — an organization that receives Arab-American support must, by definition, be suspect.
But why on earth should J Street be ashamed to have the support of Arab-Americans like me? And why should Arab-Americans worry that participating in the political life of their country and exercising their freedom of speech might — simply because of their ethnicity — harm the candidates and causes they hold dear?
Helena Cobban, who to her pacifist credit, expressed deep disapproval of Marc Garlasco’s unsavory hobby, despite the fact that she is on the board of HRW, and shares their attitude towards Israel, here gives us a fine example of how the “human rights” community think. It’s a stunning ride through the wild side of liberal cognitive egocentrism, the epistemological priority of the other, and masochistic omnipotence syndrome weaponized against those who dare defend themselves against sub-altern aggression. An excellent guide to what ails our chattering classes, including their chattering tone of self-confidence.
(Yay! I made the big leagues of this guy’s ‘enemies’ list’! Oops, suppress that childish thought, Helena.)
HT to Richard Silverstein, co-rabbi of our “off-broadway” bloggers’ panel at J Street, next Monday noon-time, for having read Michael Goldfarb’s blog so the rest of us don’t have to…
For those who don’t know, “the rest of us” means, it’s, in Amira Hass’ proud phrasing, the global hamoulah [clan]” of leftists/progressives who know they’re at the cutting edge of global morality, leaders of the fight for a truly just and peaceful world, by identifying with the oppressed. And they’ve gathered, somewhat comically, at the JStreet conference in force.
The Frustrated Wolf, the Lamb with the Black Belt, and Kafka’s Judge (additional or variant text in bold, original from Aesop)
WOLF, meeting with a Lamb astray from the democratic fold, resolved not to lay violent hands on him, but to find some plea to justify to the Lamb the Wolf’s right to eat him. He thus addressed him: “Sirrah, just now you grossly insulted me by trying to pray at my third most sacred site.” “Indeed,” bleated the Lamb in a mournful, apologetic tone of voice, “That was French tourists.” Then said the Wolf, “You starve and impoverish my people.” “No, good sir,” replied the Lamb, “We send them food, but Hamas steals it, and we can’t let them have cement because they use it to build tunnels to smuggle weapons.” Again said the Wolf, “You poison my wells and sell my people shampoo that makes us bald and chewing gum that turns our daughters into sex-pots.” “No,” exclaimed the Lamb, “We actually purify the water and our shampoos and chewing gum do not have secret ingredients.”
Upon which the Wolf, frustrated at his ability to convince the Lamb that he was guilty and deserved to be eaten, and unable to seize him and eat him up, began to snap at him. The Lamb, whose martial arts training was unequaled, fought back and hit the wolf repeatedly. The battered wolf, who repeatedly put his cubs in the path of the lambs blows, responded, saying, “Well! I won’t remain supperless, even though you refute every one of my imputations.” So he turned to Judge Goldstone and said, “Condemn this Lamb for his effrontery and his crimes against my poor victimized brothers.”
And Judge who had not read the fable, but felt strongly that the strong should not beat up on the weak under any circumstance, and who had not read the rabbis warning that he who is merciful to the cruel will be cruel to the merciful, took up the cudgels for the poor wolf and hammered away at the martial-arts lamb. How dare you, sir, attack these poor baby wolf cubs. Have you no decency!
Aesop’s Moral: The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny.
Pomo Moral: When people who believe in “I’m with whoever is right, my side or not” begin to embrace “I’m with the other side, right or wrong,” they destroy justice.
On October 16, in Geneva, Goldstone expressed disappointment and sorrow at the way the UN Resolution had weaponized his report in a one-sided attack on Israel that included matters extraneous to his report.
The next day, he was interviewed by the BBC and offered every opportunity to repeat his reservations. He didn’t.
Did someone give him a call and tell him to back off? Just how subservient is Goldstone willing to be in this process?
Elder of Ziyon posted a link to a link to the website of Islamic Jihad al Quds Brigade endorsing enthusiastically the Goldstone Report. Here’s a translation from an Arabic specialist rather than Google translator:
War Media [Office] – Gaza:
16 / 10 / 2009
Translation: Shammai Fishman
The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine values the great efforts undertaken by the legal institutions and human rights organizations in rallying support and backing for the “Goldstone” report.
The movement stresses in a statement of which the website of the al-Quds Brigades – War Media [Office] – has obtained a copy of, that the adoption of this report should be considered a victory for the Palestinian people’s will, which rejects the Zio-American dictations, as well as a victory for the blood of the martyrs and the suffering of the wounded heroes and a victory for the forces and organizations that stood in the face of attempts to be withdrawn or disabled.
Unpacked, that means, we’re delighted that our strategy of maximizing death among our own people has been handled by the Western journalists, NGOs and Goldstone in such a way as to hold the Israelis responsible, thus making successful those sacrifices in the service of the cause of destroying Israel.
The movement viewed the success of the vote on the report as “proof of the correctness of its positions with regard to the crime of postponing the previous meeting,” emphasizing that no one had any real justification for that postponement.
In other words, the “excuses” of helping negotiations by not attacking the people we’re supposed to negotiate with, are illegitimate. Because we oppose any negotiations, we’re delighted that the weaponized report has now moved to the next stage.
The view of the Islamic Jihad movement is that the condemnation the Zionist entity and its criminalization is an opportunity that must be followed by the isolation of this criminal entity and the activation of the Arab and Islamic decisions of boycott regionally and internationally. The receiving of Zionist war criminals in the Arab and Islamic states and capitals should be stopped, meetings with them should not take place and the work to bring them to the courts should be continued.
Couldn’t ask them to spell it out better. Note the complete congruency between this strategy and that of Richard Falk.
The statement concluded by warning against continuing negotiations and the political and security meetings with the enemy, because they provide him with a lifeline.
AKA, we the forces of war delight in Goldstone’s work. What a fabulously useful infidel.
Meantime Goldstone took the opportunity of an interview with the BBC to backtrack on his objections to the weaponized UNHRC resolution, here so warmly endorsed.
UPDATE: Shammai Fishman, the translator of the above notes:
I wish to add that the official translation of al-I’lam al-Harbi is Military Media – that apparently is the division of the al-Quds Brigades of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad which runs their media website and press releases.
This document is an example of the English translation of the term:
Robert L. Bernstein, the former president and chief executive of Random House, was the chairman of Human Rights Watch from 1978 to 1998. Here, on the op-ed pages of the NYT he comes out on the side of HRW’s nemesis, NGO Monitor. This is big, very big.
Let’s see how HRW responds. They’ve always dismissed NGO Monitor and their other critics as over-zealous Zionists who object to any criticism of Israel. Now they’ve got big trouble and that line won’t work… which doesn’t mean they won’t try it.
AS the founder of Human Rights Watch, its active chairman for 20 years and now founding chairman emeritus, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.
At Human Rights Watch, we always recognized that open, democratic societies have faults and commit abuses. But we saw that they have the ability to correct them — through vigorous public debate, an adversarial press and many other mechanisms that encourage reform.
In other words, there’s a world of difference between self-critical, self-regulating societies, and authoritarian ones who shut down any criticism of their actions.
I recently posted a satirical piece by the Onion on Obama negotiating with a forest fire — we have common interests — which I’ll replicate below. At the time it was part of making fun of Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize. Now we have the tale of his diplomacy with Iran which is unraveling before our eyes. Liberal cognitive egocentrism, politically correct paradigm, dupes of demopaths… you couldn’t write a script more tailored to the follies of the age.
First the satire:
Now, alas, the real live “peace-process” with Iran. From John Hinderaker at Powerline:
This morning, I noted that Iran’s government is telling the Iranian people that the Obama administration has consented to Iranian enrichment of uranium, thereby dismaying our European allies. I linked to, but did not discuss in detail, a Time article that appeared today. The Time article was based on interviews with Obama administration officials and was intended to put a positive spin on the administration’s effort to engage with Iran. Now, news from Vienna, where representatives of Iran, the U.S. and other nations are meeting, allows us to put the whole story together.
The Time article is the best place to start. It breathlessly describes President Obama’s personal involvement in negotiations with Iran, and the genesis of what the administration considered to be a brilliant plan:
President Barack Obama has a personal stake in the outcome of Monday’s meeting in Vienna between Western and Iranian nuclear experts on the future of Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium. That’s because, Administration sources tell TIME, Obama personally weighed in three times during secret, multiparty negotiations with the Iranians over the last four months….
The backroom talks began in June, when Iranian officials told the International Atomic Energy Agency their country was running out of fuel for an aging research reactor built for the Shah in 1967 by American technicians….
“We very quickly saw an opening here,” says a senior Administration official involved in the multiparty negotiations that ensued, speaking on condition of anonymity. The U.S. realized it could arrange for the manufacture of the specialized plates from an unorthodox source: the stash of low-enriched uranium Iran has produced in violation of U.N. Security Council demands at its massive Natanz uranium-enrichment plant over the past several years. The U.S., Israel and others had estimated that the Iranian stockpile was enough — if Iran kicked out inspectors and repurposed its enrichment facilities to enrich uranium to weapons grade — to produce material for a single atom bomb. So, the idea that Iran might agree to send most of it abroad to be turned into harmless plates for the research reactor seemed an opportune way to defuse tensions.
Israel’s Latma TV Comedy deals with the Temple Mount Disturbances by interviewing Palestinian Minister of Uncontrollable Rage, Mr. Tawil Fadiha (fadiha is a disastrously embarrassing mistake). Subtitles available at bottom right of screen. HT/EG
Judge Richard Goldstone continues to try and salvage his reputation and work. Here’s his latest effort. It is so disingenuous — and that’s being generous — that one has to wonder… Only someone with no background knowledge in this affair can find this apologia convincing. Isn’t that the definition of propaganda — manipulating people with either false information or suppressed information to take your side when, were the readers to know the full story, they would not take your side. For someone who’s publicly, volubly in favor of “the right side, mine or not,” he sure does want it to be “my side, right or wrong.” Curious. I wonder if that’s a pattern.
My mission – and motivation
Oct. 18, 2009
Richard Goldstone , THE JERUSALEM POST
Five weeks after the release of the Report of the Fact Finding Mission on Gaza, there has been no attempt by any of its critics to come to grips with its substance.
As one blogger at Understanding the Goldstone Report put it, “what are we, chopped liver?” Apparently. We’re planning to put the entire report up in HTML (not the impenetrable PDF) and welcome a massive fisking. Maybe then he’ll realize… but I doubt it.
It has been fulsomely approved by those whose interests it is thought to serve and rejected by those of the opposite view. Those who attack it do so too often by making personal attacks on its authors’ motives and those who approve it rely on its authors’ reputations.
Probably more the former than the latter. Our position, at least, is ab re [absurdo] usque ad hominem ipsum (from the matter [the absurd report] to the very person who produced it). But that may be hard to follow for someone who wants to believe he’s been treated unfairly.
Israeli government spokesmen and those who support them have attacked it in the harshest terms and, in particular my participation, in a most personal and hurtful way. The time has now come for more sober reflection on what the report means and appropriate Israeli reactions to it.
People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. You can’t play with the nastiest kids on the block, who systematically bully your own people, give them a major weapon against them, and then expect them to treat you with kid gloves. This personal sensitivity is perhaps the single most eloquent expression of the sense of entitlement of people like Richard Goldstone. As long as they are heroes in their own minds — courageous men of integrity and scrupulous fairness (to others) — then how can anyone accuse them of base motives or base actions. And this from a man whose report repeatedly, gratuitously, even illegitimately, accuses Israel of base motives. He’s too old to be a Dr. Spock baby, but he sure shows all the signs of it.
I haven’t written about Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize because it’s too silly for words, but then I just have to put up a couple of pieces that cover the subject quite nicely.
First, Christopher Hitchens, who, TUI, is still sharper by far than any of his MSNBC interlocutors, takes on the topic. Best line: It’s like giving an actor an Oscar in the hopes he’ll make a good movie.
Stephen Kramer, an American-born Israeli, attended the panel we organized at the Institute for Counter-terrorism at the IDC last month. He summarized the panel’s offerings for a Jewish paper in the USA.
Israel’s overwhelming strength and its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza deprived Israel of its favored “underdog” status.
Recently I attended the 9th World Summit on Counter- Terrorism at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT). The Institute is located on the IDC College campus in Herzliya. According to ICT, its international conference has become one of the most influential annual events in the field of counter-terrorism and has achieved international recognition for its exchange of views on best practices among global counter-terror experts, security professionals and leading academic scholars.
“Manipulation of Western Mainstream News Media in Asymmetrical Warfare,” a fancy description for terrorist groups’ propaganda efforts, was the subject of the workshop, one of many presented during the conference. Among the five speakers were a US naval officer, a college professor from Boston, researchers from two NGOs (non-profit organizations), and the chief editor of an Italian TV station.
Lt. Commander Stuart Green, who was quick to announce that he was speaking as a private citizen and not as a U.S. Navy representative, put the subject matter into historical context by describing how the Soviets took active measures to manipulate the conceptions of their target societies (the enemies) during the Cold War period. Their object was to set up a model which softened the enemy’s resistance to communism by persuading significant groups to consider communism as a viable alternative to democracy.
Green pointed out that in modern warfare, the terrorists take control of the intellectual “high ground,” increasing their propaganda as the conflict continues and obscuring the truth. By example, before 1967 Israel enjoyed the favorable status of underdog, but in the ensuing decades after 1967, particularly after the 1982 war, Israel’s overwhelming strength and its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza deprived Israel of its favored “underdog” status. Over time, and with the growing intensity of propaganda, the empirical truth that the Arabs absolutely opposed a Jewish state regardless of its size was replaced by an “acceptable discourse,” the Palestinian narrative. This Muslim-inspired “truth” has become so engrained that the actual cause of Israeli-Palestinian strife has been obscured and almost forgotten.
Green used another example from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, whereby the cause of Palestinian terrorism is attributed to checkpoints and settlements, not the longstanding Palestinian refusal to accept Israel’s existence. He described the media as a “force multiplier,” promoting the message of the underdog/terrorists and geometrically increasing its effect. The media is overwhelmingly democratic, meaning it is anti-army, prounderdog, and universalistic – assigning moral equivalence to democracies and dictatorships. Answering the question about what to do to combat the media manipulation, Green said it’s imperative that the public understand the fact that we’re at war with radical Islamists.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Fredrik Reinfel – Swedish EU Chair
French President Nicolas Sarkozy
I understand you have yet to decide on how to vote on the upcoming resolution on the Goldstone Report. I am a medieval historian, unwillingly drawn into this maelstrom of madness that has seized the world community about Israel (painful parallels with incidents from the Middle Ages and modern times). Since I have put up a website with a detailed critique of the Report — www.goldstonereport.org — I won’t bore you with details. Suffice to say, we’ve found Kafka’s judge.
This charade at the UN, where countries who couldn’t bear a tiny fraction of the scrutiny brought to bear on Israel, mobilize votes to pillory her, will be part of the chronicles of the moral failure of the West in the works of future generations of historians. I know there are “realpolitik” reasons to abstain or even vote for the resolution. But even those are merely short-term advantages and long-term disasters for any country that wants to defend itself against medieval holy warriors. Think of how history will view you.
I urge your government to support peace by voting No to this shameful and (self-) destructive resolution.
Professor Richard Landes, Boston University
Note that the proud “self-hating Jew,” M.J.Rosenberg cites Palestinian statistics with apparently no idea of where they come from or how deeply unreliable they are.
I’ll fess up. I’m an SHJ. I thought the Gaza war was everything Goldstone said it was and more. It’s hard to call it a war actually because the casualty numbers were so unbalanced.
1387 Palestinians killed of whom 320 were children
(773 were not fighting at all)
10 Israeli soldiers killed (3 by friendly fire).
For him it’s an obvious step from MSNM reports to despising Israel. What’s your problem? As Anthony Julius called these folks who don’t even have the decency to inform themselves, so eager are they to plaster their liberal credentials in public: proud to be ashamed to be a Jew. Of course, just because M.J. Goldberg mockingly declares himself a “self-hating Jew” doesn’t mean I’d consider him one. (That would probably mean reading more of him than I really want to do.)
But it also doesn’t mean that “self-hatred” isn’t both an identifiable phenomenon and one that characterizes Jews more than any other identifiable group.
Now Goldstone is not necessarily in this group. Indeed, in an interview with Fareed Zakaria, he responded to the question, “How does this compare with previous cases you’ve studied – Kosovo, Rwanda?” he replied:
I don’t like making comparisons, each situation different. One can’t compare what’s happened here with genocide in former Yugoslavia, nowhere near that situation.
Hezbollah released a video today that they say refutes the IDF aerial footage released two days ago.
Here’s the IDF footage taken shortly after the nighttime explosion:
It’s damning because they are removing the incriminating evidence of their violations of the cease-fire agreement before they let the UNIFIL forces in to inspect.
Here’s the Hizbullah footage.
There are several gaping holes with this argument.
1. The Hizbullah video was shot in broad daylight, whereas the IDF footage was taken at night, shortly after the blast occurred.
2. The position of the truck in the Hizbullah version and the IDF video are not the same. In the Hizbullah version the truck is backed up directly to the loading dock and there are two men shoving the debris into the back of the truck. In the IDF footage, the truck is parked a little bit away and there are at least 5 men carefully carrying the disputed object and loading it onto the truck.
3. In order for the Hizbullah video to disprove the IDF footage, their video has to be of the same event, which is impossible given points 1 and 2.
4. If it is not of the same event, and the Hizbullah video was shot the next day, then that does not disprove anything, since they could have shown up, and started clearing debris while filming themselves. This would also account for the presence of the Lebanese Military and UNIFIL forces since Hezbollah gave them access to the explosion site several hours after the explosion, after they had removed various items.
5. The IDF video shot shortly after the explosion shows Hezbollah cordoning off the area, loading items which could be a missile onto a truck and then driving the trucks 4km away to a known Hizbullah arms depot in another village. After they were done clearing the house, they let UNIFIl and the Lebanese Military enter the area.
The most obvious question that comes to mind is: “Who do they think they’re kidding. Do they take us for imbeciles?”
Not a word on the glaring discrepancies. It’s just “he said… she said.” So I guess the answer to the question about who Hizbullah takes us for is, “fools.” And the evidence is, they’re right.
Final note: Why did they bother to do this cheap and silly fake as “disproof”? Because they do care what we think, and they want to manipulate us. So if we call them on this stuff, we actually do put the squeeze on them.
So the real question is, “what’s wrong with the Beeb and Reuters?”
Mel Brooks has a memorable line in his 2000-year-old man shtick. Carl Reiner asks, “what’s the difference between comedy and tragedy? “Tragedy is if I cut my finger, I’ll cry alot, go into Mount Sinai for a day and a half. Comedy is if you fall in an open manhole and die. What do I care.”
David Brooks recently attended a conference on the latest hot field in psychology: social cognitive neuro-science. There, among the many items he listed, one caught my eye:
Reem Yahya and a team from the University of Haifa studied Arabs and Jews while showing them images of hands and feet in painful situations. The two cultures perceived pain differently. The Arabs perceived higher levels of pain over all while the Jews were more sensitive to pain suffered by members of a group other than their own.
This is an experimental illustration of the current knot in which we find ourselves and in which we are currently losing the cognitive war for progressive values, the marriage of pre-modern sadism and post-modern masochism. On the one hand we have people who exaggerate their own pain. As Charles “Oh-they-do-that-all-the time-it’s-a-cultural-thing” Enderlin said to me to illustrate why he dismissed the faking in Talal’s tapes: “Oh they do that all the time. It’s a cultural thing. They exaggerate. When I was in Egypt during an earth quake people with minimal injuries were shrieking and moaning.”
On the other hand, you have a culture in which concern for the pain of the other has been raised to a matter of principle: “Do not oppress the stranger, for you were strangers in Egypt and you know the heart of the stranger.” And how does the world read the emanations of these two cultures: the Palestinians scream: “They are committing genocide against us; they are like Nazis.” Some Israelis respond: “I hate to say it, but they’re right. We are racist, Israel is apartheid, we are like Nazis.” Others defend the integrity of Israel’s behavior, having the nerve to say Israel – and especially its army – can match any nation’s moral record.
And the world concludes: “The poor Palestinians, why are you Israelis so mean to them.” What is wrong with those boorish, sinister pro-Israel extremists? And is so doing, they foster and fertilize the culture of victimization that pervades Palestinian self-destructivenes. For insights into this last phenomenon, there’s a must read at Ynet by Dan Schueftan – also of the University of Haifa – on the what the latest Palestinian maneuvers reveal about their dysfunctional political culture.
Published: 10.12.09, 18:21 / Israel Opinion
Part 1 of analysis
The recent Temple Mount riots and Mahmoud Abbas’ renewed request for a UN discussion of the Goldstone Report again point to the deep structural failure inherent in the Palestinian political culture.
The Palestinians are proving yet again that even the responsible elements among them cannot act in a constructive manner in order to build society and promote stability, welfare, and an agreement with Israel. They cannot do it because, as it turned out again, at the moment of truth we see the irresponsible, violent, and demagogical radicals who incite and fan the flames gain the upper hand.