Two Insights into the Arab-Israeli conflict from Haifa

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.

The Palestinians did it again
Palestinian society remains politically immature, addicted to excuses

Dan Schueftan
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.

The radicals win because the Palestinian public is unwilling to back an ongoing and responsible effort that would ensure a better future for its sons, while the radicals present a vision of violence and self-righteousness that offers fleeting achievements and twisted satisfaction in the immediate and short term.

The decisions are indeed taken by the leaders, but the factors that shape their room for maneuver and forces even the most level-headed among them to adopt irresponsible conduct is a politically immature society. This society becomes addicted time and again to “victimization excuses” regarding its failures, instead of enlisting to the cause of successfully promoting its national enterprise.

Of course it doesn’t help that intellectuals in the West encourage the worst of their tendencies. Like Saïd’s appalling rant at the end of his life, they’re the most ardent defenders of Arab honor, even if they do present themselves as militating for Palestinian “human rights.” What hatred must move people to encourage these deeply destructive, dysfunctional phenomena?

For the first time in generations, the Palestinians have seen the rise of leaders who understand, even if partially, the needs of their countrymen and are willing to enlist to the cause of extracting them from the deep distress created by the Palestinians with their own hands.

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is attempting, for the first time, to utilize the generous foreign aid for constructive aims and build a functioning society. President Abbas and his people realized (belatedly) the gravity of the terror curse and Hamas’ existential threat. Under their political patronage, the United States trained Palestinian security forces (the so-called “Dayton forces”) who are doing well in the fight against terrorism and its infrastructure.

This opened the door for cooperation and security coordination with Israel, allowing for a dramatic improvement in the freedom of movement, economic prosperity, and the creation of a platform for social and political stability in the West Bank. This was followed by the initial buds of a chance to extract Israel and the Palestinians from the “Zero-sum game” characteristics of their relationships, where Palestinian achievements were defined by the level of harm done to Israel.

In other words, the shift from a prime-divider society to a civil polity… the dawn of precisely the kind of person liberal cognitive egocentrists in the West believe characterizes the vast majority of the Palestinian population. So their success should be a major concern to those who want peace.

Should such chance be allowed to develop, it would remove an important obstacle for a more comprehensive agreement that both sides can accept. Expanding and deepening stability and welfare in the West Bank, while suppressing terrorism in Gaza and isolating the terrorists there – and while disregarding the reckless demands of Arab Israeli leaders – are necessary conditions for the success of such deal.

However, this is where the self-destruction mechanism that has been thwarting the Palestinian people since it was formed almost 90 years ago came into action: An irresponsible and belligerent minority turns to violence radical elements promise a zealous public immediate satisfaction via “victimization demagoguery,” and this immediately prompts the responsible elements to assume a defensive posture and be neutralized in the political arena. The essence here is not the violence and demagoguery of the radicals, but rather, the defeatism of the responsible elements.

Note the role of the international news media in strengthening precisely these forces.

The problem has to do with Palestinian society’s political culture. Had Fayyad and Abbas been able to rely on the support of a responsible public for their constructive policy, they could have isolated the radicals and clung to their path. However, they give in to the radicals, because the public becomes addicted to the false message of those who brought generations of destruction, distress, and impasse upon them.

Part II

The radicals take full advantage of the structural flaw within Palestinian society. They know that it is enough to make up a delusional charge as if the Jews are undermining the pillars of the al-Aqsa Mosque in order to topple it and build the Temple on its ruins, in order to grant popular support to the hooligans scheming to stone Jewish worshippers on Sukkot.

Even if they are unable to prompt the masses to riot in the streets, they force the leadership into public solidarity and diplomatic paralysis. And if the Palestinians in the West Bank are fed up with these provocations, we can always count on the Islamic Movement in Israel to enlist the entire Arab Israeli leadership to the cause, ranging from Tibi to the more “moderate” figures, with all of them joining a festival of hatred aimed at “defending themselves” against Jewish schemes. In such atmosphere, Fayyad and Abbas have no chance to engage in fruitful dialogue with Israel, both because their room for maneuver just shrunk, and also because Israel realizes they cannot lead their society to agree to a viable compromise.

And if all this isn’t enough, the Palestinian handling of the Goldstone Report exposed another grave structural weakness. The whole of Palestinian society – in the Strip, in the West Bank, and in Israel – has become addicted to the pose of the ultimate victim, which involves de-legitimization of the Jewish State’s existence.

When the Palestinian anti-Semitic propaganda regarding Israeli “crimes” was granted a tailwind courtesy of a negligent and unfair Jewish judge, who works in the service of a body hostile to Israel, the Palestinians were unable to forego the party. Abbas realized that it would be proper to focus on dialogue with Israel and enlist the help of an American president who convinced himself that resolving the Palestinian issue is crucial for world peace and the interests of the US. American representatives explained to him resolutely that the Goldstone festival will hinder the US effort to bring Israel to accept a desirable Palestinian deal, and he agreed to postpone the UN debate on the matter.Yet the reaction of Palestinian society to the rejection relegated Abbas’ diplomatic considerations to his countrymen’s obsessive need to take the victim’s role on the international stage. The problem is not about Hamas’ attempt to present Abbas as a traitor, or about the inherent irresponsibility of the elected Arab leadership in Israel. Hamas, Tibi, and others indeed have an interest in showing that they reject Israel more than Abbas does, yet they would not have been able to force him to reverse his policy unless they enjoyed wide popular support for their charges.

Abbas realized that his attempt to enlist US support for the Palestinian issue outraged his own people: A person who does not identify with violent hooliganism in Jerusalem and gives up an opportunity to de-legitimize Israel and its war on terror cannot be a Palestinian leader. Abbas indeed realizes that without suppressing Hamas’ terror he has no chance to guarantee a better life for the next generation, yet he cannot but lead the campaign that aims to grant this terrorism immunity vis-à-vis Israel’s countermeasures.

Israel’s problem is not that there’s no Palestinian we can discuss a constructive deal with. The problem is that when a Palestinian who shows indications of political responsibility appears, he cannot speak on behalf of his people.Dr. Dan Schueftan is the director of the National Security Studies Center at the University.

49 Responses to Two Insights into the Arab-Israeli conflict from Haifa

  1. E.G. says:

    From Maan news:

    EU: Police project to help Jerusalem become Palestinian capital

    With the Police under the wing of Europe and the Palestinian security services under the eye of US General Keith Dayton, some Palestinians are wary of the external involvement, saying it interferes with Palestinian internal politics, as well as with the ability of Palestinians to take up violent resistance if they choose that tool in their fight against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

  2. oao says:

    we are currently losing the cognitive war for progressive values, the marriage of pre-modern sadism and post-modern masochism.

    bingo. which is precisely why i think hope is unjustified.

    in fact i would argue that the cognitive war has already been lost. i very much doubt that this can be reversed, particularly in a decaying and decadent civilization.

    in a system where libya and sudan judge israel on human rights violations using a jewish kapo in the process what’s the justification for hoping it will recover?

  3. Eliyahu says:

    Marc Otte’s words at that link to ma`an show the depth of EU hostility to Israel and Jews.

  4. Eliyahu says:

    here’s an interesting, rather scholarly piece. The author argues that Hitler was a socialist. He supplies a lot of references for this argument.

  5. Michelle Schatzman says:

    The Ray article is superficial from the point of view of factts. In french, I would say “il enfonce des portes ouvertes”. Everyone knows that Hitler appealed to (non-jewish) Germans by telling them in the same time that they were the best and that the state would take care of them. And everyone knows that he gave them jobs and extracted Germany out of the economical crisis starting in 1929, or rather that he rode the international trend out of the economic crisis. How did he do that? Road construction and weapon industry. The german workers were not paid terribly well and they worked long hours.

    Beyond that, ordering Hitler or Mussolini or Stalin on a left to right scale is a matter of taste. It would make sense if the author gave a definition of left and right. The only “approximate” definition of leftism that I found in the article is the following:

    That does however raise the question of WHY such thinking is seen as “Rightist” today. And the answer to THAT goes back to the nature of Leftism! The political content of Leftism varies greatly from time to time. The sudden about-turn of the Left on antisemitism in recent times is vivid proof of that. And what the political content of Leftism is depends on the Zeitgeist — the conventional wisdom of the day. Leftists take whatever is commonly believed and push it to extremes in order to draw attention to themselves as being the good guys — the courageous champions of popular causes. So when the superiority of certain races was commonly accepted, Leftists were champions of racism. So when eugenics was commonly accepted as wise, Leftists were champions of eugenics — etc. In recent times they have come to see more righteousness to be had from championing the Palestinian Arabs than from championing the Jews so we have seen their rapid transition from excoriating antisemitism to becoming “Antizionist”.

    The author hates the left and leftists. Fine. But the proper definition of the left that can be inferred from his paper is just the sum of what he hates.

    There have been much better analyses of what was common to totalitarian regimes. But beware of Hannah Arendt: she excludes communist regimes from her analysis.

  6. Michal says:

    Dan Schueftan gives Abbas too much credit.
    Abbas poses for the US to keep the funds coming.
    He is just as “politically immature, addicted to excuses” as the people he represents.

  7. E.G. says:


    Would you like to comment on the link I just posted on the BBC thread?

  8. The Vicissitudes of Rage…

    Primitive anger is often experienced as rage. The desire to not just remove, but destroy, mutilate, and eviscerate one’s enemy is an expression of the primitive rage that lives within each of us. As we become more civilized, ie mature,……

  9. Eliyahu says:

    as you may know I totally reject the notion of a “left-right” political spectrum. It’s what some of the French Commies back in the early 60s called a “mystification.” I would add that those powerful, influential, well-moneyed forces that want to keep the public totally and utterly confused and “mystifie” about political matters and public issues also very assiduously try to maintain the “left-right” notion.

    I thought Ray gathered many interesting tidbits of info. As I said, the whole right-left notion is silly and deliberately misleading. Just think of the Obama administration. Here we have self-avowed Communists and revolutionaries, admirers of Mao Tse Tung [and, I’m sure, of Dear Yasser] happily rubbing shoulders with the likes of General Jim Jones, Zbig B, Chaz Freeman Jr., and other hard-boiled veterans of the National Security establishment. This can be explained in several ways, no doubt. But it must lead to the conclusion that left-right is silly at best.

    by the way, Michelle, Alain Besancon believes that Hitler and the Nazis were socialists.

  10. E.G. says:


    Yasser got the Tora in Soviet and transmitted it to Abbas, who shares it with Fadayin, Fataheen, Shaheedin and Barghuteen.
    I think they all marvelously play the immature and helpless script whenever some responsibility to assume arises.

  11. oao says:

    As I said, the whole right-left notion is silly and deliberately misleading.

    I don’t think it’s silly — after all revolutionaries and mao admirers are, at least by their own definition, left.
    it is true that they associate with the worst enemies of the left and it looks like they lost their progressivity, but there is an explanation for that.

    a prone to leftism must have oppressors and oppressed, that’s their core, their identity. with the fall of communism and the win of the “capitalist democracy” in the west (i use quotes because it’s not exactly either)
    they HAD to find new oppressors and oppressed via which to try to justify themselves and undermine the west.

    the point is that their affinity with the islamists — other than the common hatred of the western system — is due to their frustration and hatred of the west. iow, in their desperate move to undermine the west they have blindly associated themselves with their own anathema.

    that is, they don’t support the jihadists for their latter’s ideology, but rather for their own leftist needs. so, in this sense, the left-right continuum (which is actually a circle, meeting at the extremes — is pertinent.

    now, that does not mean that the phenomenon you describe is not relevant also, but is a separate one.

  12. oao says:

    another means by which leftists are trying to undermine the west is global warming. i don’t have enough knowledge on the subject to judge whether it has substance, but even if it does that’s not what the leftists really care about. they just want to kill the economic system.

  13. oao says:

    Yasser got the Tora in Soviet and transmitted it to Abbas, who shares it with Fadayin, Fataheen, Shaheedin and Barghuteen.

    If you mean by torah techniques of lying, oppression and propaganda, i agree. not the soviet ideology per se. other than being in control and hatred of israel i don’t think they care about much else.

    I think they all marvelously play the immature and helpless script whenever some responsibility to assume arises.

    i am not sure they’re immature. in the arab society what they do is exactly what most arab elites. they know that their “society” is neither sustainable nor governable, so their best bet is to suck as much jiziya from the stupid west and manipulate it to get them the whole of israel.

    and you must admit that it works; in about 60 years they totally reversed the position of the west to the point of delegitimization of israel. would you have said 30-40 years ago that this was going to happen?

  14. oao says:

    imagine a pal state and the elite in charge becoming responsible for governing and the well-being of a bunch of radicalized thugs with guns and without jiziya and without the ability to blame everything on israel.

    would you want the job? in that sense they are quite mature. after all they know they are not a people, just a bunch of indoctrinated arabs.

  15. E.G. says:


    Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter One:
    “Moses received the Torah from Sinai and gave it over to Joshua. Joshua gave it over to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets…”

    Yes, in Hebrew Torah is both Bible/teachings and theory. I was indeed referring to the “art” of subversion.
    And I clearly wrote they were playing the immature and helpless script. Indeed, the show is going on and the public keeps paying higher and higher ticket prices, plus standing ovations and thunderous applauses after each act.
    Without realising that they’re fully participating in the charade.

  16. oao says:

    ok, i missed the “played”. apparently it’s the west that is immature.

  17. Cynic says:


    by the way, Michelle, Alain Besancon believes that Hitler and the Nazis were socialists.

    Would Hitler’s May Day speech in 1927 in which he trashes capitalism serve?

    From John Toland’s book
    “We are Socialists, enemies, mortal enemies of the present capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, with its injustice in wages, with its immoral evaluation of individuals according to wealth and money instead of responsibility and achievement, and we are determined under all circumstances to abolish this system!”

  18. E.G. says:

    Debilitated is more accurate than immature.

  19. Eliyahu says:

    oao, please look at my post # 9 above that was probably posted only today because of the quirks of the software.

    You read it already, I think. But answer why the self-avowed “lefties” in obama’s adminstration are so willing to sit in the same farpisht wading pool with ex-commander Jim Jones, with an admirer or disciple of Zbig [this refers to Obama himself], with chaz freeman Jr, and many others who very much believe in American military power. Let’s not forget Bob Gates here, who was Geo Bush’s sec’y of defense before smoothly sliding into the role of obama’s sec’y of defense. Susan Rice and Obama himself were very frankly talking before the election, in summer 2008, that they intended to send more troops to afghanistan.

    I am not addressing the question of whether it is right or wrong, good policy or bad, to fight a war in afghanistan. The issue is how is it that Jim Jones wades in the same pool with Anita Dunn, the now departed Van Jones, etc. Or, we might ask, why Anita D, Van Jones, so on and so forth sit in the pool with Jim Jones, Bob Gates, etc.

    Your response was to find that “due to their frustration and hatred of the west….in their desperate move to undermine the west,” they ally with Islamists. But jim jones and bob gates and zbig are quite fond of US military power. Don’t jim, et al. belong, ostensibly at least, to that America that you are suggesting that these “leftists” hate?? But Zbig was the guy who helped the Afghan Islamic patriots [yes, you may laugh] to drive the hated Russkis out of their country. And the Russkis were Commies!! And Zbig hated Russkis, not just because they were Commies but because he must hate them as a Polish patriot [am I being too cynical about Zbig?]. So Anita and Van were in the wading pool with jim and chaz and zbig and Bob. Again, if Anita and Van were so anti-American or anti-American foreign policy, against what A-jad calls “global arrogance,” then why are they in that wading pool? Why are they there if they hate America, as much as you say? At least A-jad pretends to be against the Western powers. But Bob Gates embodies Western power and military might. And he served George Bush.

    You also claim that the Islamists “are their anathema.” That is, the anathema of the “Left.” But maybe, as Commie totalitarians, they feel that IslamoTotalitarianism is quite to their taste. Anyway, oao, try to answer please, without supplying previous answers, that I confess, seemed to me to miss the point.

  20. oao says:

    i do have an answer for you: the fact that leftists are against the west does not mean that some on the right dont have their own motivations to ally themselves with islamists.

    some are antisemites, some recognize the loss of US power and put their tails between their legs, some just want to be in power, some have interests in the arab world, etc.

    i recommended here spengler’s analysis of alibama as a sociopath marinated in radical-left with a HIDDEN genda. it may explain why he has chosen to appoint non-leftists in order to fool the public as to his real intentions. this is not farfetched

  21. E.G. says:

    I found that Spengler analysis far fetched.

    Right or Left ideologies are secondary for some power-avid individuals.

  22. oao says:

    I found that Spengler analysis far fetched.

    we’ll live and learn.

    Right or Left ideologies are secondary for some power-avid individuals.

    it is part of what i said.

  23. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Eliyahu, E.G., Cynic:

    there is nothing wrong with saying that Hitler used a socialist rhetoric, because it is historical fact. Whether he was a socialist is a matter of defining what is a socialist. The lack of a definition of “left” in Ray’s article is what prevents it from being scholarly (beyond many repetitions and an analysis restricted to discourse: rhetoric is one, and acts are another thing).

    There is a well-known similarity between the nazi and stalinist empires: in both cases, a group of people was found guilty of everything bad in society. Hitler had the Jews, Stalin had the class enemies of the proletariate.

    Stalin was obviously smarter in his choice of enemies, because he could manipulate it much more easily. There were first the nobles, the capitalists, the priests and their family. Then, there were the kulaks, and in the name of the battle against the kulaks, the stalinist power starved to death millions of ukrainian peasants (good old Khrushchev being the secretary of the party in Ukraine at that time), and then the Chechens, the Germans of the Volga, the Tatars of crimea, and so on and so forth, including the murderers in a white cloak, but these were saved by the clock, i.e. Stalin’s death and freed by Lavrenti Beria.

    If stalinist terror is the definition of the left (or maoist terror, or Khmer rouge terror and so on), the left deserves all possible hate. But how good a definition is that? If I take France, where the concept of Left and Right originated, this is a pretty bad definition. Why should Léon Blum, or Pierre Mendès-France be identified to stalinist terror?

    Yes, I know that the soviet propaganda manipulated the concept of “fascism” and extended it to include every authoritarian or dictatorial regime, which did not sit on the side of USSR. So Franco was a fascist, Salazar was a fascist, the Greek Colonels weree fascists, Pinochet was a fascist, Perón was a fascist, the Argentinian generals were fascists, and so on and so forth. But Nasser was not a fascist, and Boumediene was not a fascist, and Assad the father was not a fascist, God forbid! They were on the side of liberation of the people oppressed by western colonialism!

    Name calling does not substitute for historical and social analysis. This remark holds for KGB-like thought, but it holds also for Ray.

    Nowadays, I agree that the whole concept of left and right is outdated, and is not much helpful for analyzing conflict.

    The alliance between part of extreme-left and the islamists comes from the identification between islam and oppressed people. The extreme-left needs a suffering messiah. Once the proletariate does not fit the part anymore, the third world is getting rich in many parts, and the colonized may have gotten over colonization, whom can we find? We’ll support islam as the rope supports the hanged man, according to leninist fantasy. Methinks that the hanged man is the extreme-left and the executioner is islam, but that is a detail.

    The alliance between part of the right and some islamists comes from exactly the same point of view: let us talk to these people and prove to them that we are in the same boat. They are rich and corrupt and they don’t know how to spend their money, except in huge and wasteful parties. Let us show them how to get richer, how to invest, how to lead a more capitalist way of life. If we are smart enough, we’ll make them more civilized and they will behave.

    Both cases look like cognitive egocentrism.

  24. Eliyahu says:

    Right or Left ideologies are secondary for some power-avid individuals.

    that reminds me of an important work on the absurdity of believing that politicians always believe in their own ostensible ideologies. This is Facundo by the Argentine Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. Nelson, did you ever read it? The author looks at the careers of a few 19th century Argentine warlords, Facundo, Juan Manuel Rosas, etc. He shows how Rosas, for example, sided with one ideological faction and then went over to another, all the while building up his own power, and cutting down the strength of one faction after another.

    Left-right notions cannot comprehend the truth of what Sarmiento wrote. Maybe because it doesn’t easily fit into the left-right framework, it has been neglected in the United States, even in Latin American studies programs, but of course in political science where it would be most important. The first complete English translation was not published until 2003!!! Right there you have a failing in American higher ed that goes back before the “democratic” wrecking reforms of higher ed about 1970. See more about Facundo at the link:

  25. Eliyahu says:

    I do have an answer for you: the fact that leftists are against the west does not mean that some on the right dont have their own motivations to ally themselves with islamists.
    Some are antisemites…

    oao, the question was why jim jones, bob gates and so on, sit and play in the same wading pool with van jones, anita dunn [an admirer of Mao], etc. And why vice versa?
    So both “right” and “left” want to ally with Islamists? OK. So Judeophobes [= “antisemites”] are found on both “right” and “left”? OK.
    But why do those enthusiasts of American military power sit in one wading pool with van jones, anita D, the former congregant at Pastor Wright’s church, and so forth? Or why do the latter sit with the former? Those are the questions.

    Your last answers were that both L and R may want to ally with Islamists and that both L & R may be Judeophobes. OK. But why? And why do these sit and play together in the sandbox? And what does the blatant empirical fact that they wade and play together do for your claim that the Left hates American power, etc??

  26. E.G. says:

    Eliyahu and Michelle,

    What motivates Socialistes and Umpistes and Centristes to sit together in Sarkozy’s govt.?

  27. E.G. says:

    BTW, if I remember correctly, Götz Aly shows how Hitler bought the Germans’ love by distributing to the people some of the goods looted in occupied or collaborating countries.

    The not-very-academic paper has another version of Aly’s thesis.

  28. oao says:

    oao, the question was why jim jones, bob gates and so on, sit and play in the same wading pool with van jones, anita dunn [an admirer of Mao], etc. And why vice versa?

    sometimes the answer, if not explicit, it’s implied.
    if some on the right have the same objectives for different reasons as the left, or if they are interested in power more than in what is being done with it, or they have interests that require them to do it they will join together. it’s a very common tactic.

    But why do those enthusiasts of American military power sit in one wading pool with van jones, anita D, the former congregant at Pastor Wright’s church, and so forth? Or why do the latter sit with the former? Those are the questions.

    my reading is that some of them have begun to realize that america has been losing serious power to the point where it’s no longer possible to project it sufficiently and therefore they adopted a bribing and appeasing policy in the hope that this will save america’s ass.

    some of them may also think that they can influence the others and attenuate the consequences. all this is foolishness, of course, but hey, america is chockful of fools.

    you don’t belabor under the illusion that just because alibama’s association with ayers, wright and jones they will refrain from joining him, do you? some of them just don’t want to be on the losing side when the wright-ayers-jones camp is in power.

  29. Eliyahu says:

    so. oao, now you’re saying that jim jones, bob gates, etc are venal opportunists. Maybe they have their own agenda that obama is supporting. Of course, Judeophobia can be an attractive common ground for “left” and “right”

  30. E.G. says:


    Opportunism (and the appeal of power per se) are very common denominators.

    I have a comment stuck in the filters asking you and Michelle about the right-center-left mix in Sarkozy’s govt.

  31. oao says: oao, now you’re saying that jim jones, bob gates, etc are venal opportunists. Maybe they have their own agenda that obama is supporting. Of course, Judeophobia can be an attractive common ground for “left” and “right”

    anybody who aspires to power is at some level an opportunist. however, this does not mean that he does not have objectives which can be similar or different than the president’s.

    neither does this mean that left-right continuum is entirely irrelevant. some people accept positions from the left and some from the right and I would not say that that does not influence what they say or do.

    i think the leftists are anti-israel because of they are anti-west and the rightists (e.g. buchanan) are anti-semitic because they need to scapegoat america’s collapse and appease the new ovrlord, the islamists.

    here’s steyn on something related:

  32. oao says:

    here is a good example of how the left influences policy and not less than the ME policy:

    if i were a jew or israel i would worry.

  33. Eliyahu says:

    EG, about Sarkozy’s cabinet make up. The “leftists” in Sarko’s cabinet are not raging Maoist admirers, self-avowed Communists, and the like [like van jones & anita dunn], as far as I know. I am sure that I would strongly dislike some of Sarko’s ministers if I knew more about them. But as much as I loathe Kouchner [et je n’aime pas Mme Ockrent non plus], I would not say that he’s as extreme as several of Obama’s star “czars” and other officials. By the way, I don’t judge politicians by their identification as either “right” or “left,” “droite ou gauche.” I don’t believe in the whole nonsense of a “Left-Right political spectrum.” oao would be smart to drop it.

  34. E.G. says:


    Assembling people of different horizons is a current governing trend. It signals open-mindedness, boundary-crossing, a large consensus.
    De facto it (self)serves other, converging (on some points) agendas.

    Governments and governing should come with sub-titles. Unfortunately, Rahm has ballet, not opera experience.

  35. oao says:

    oao would be smart to drop it.

    apparently i am not getting through

  36. Cynic says:

    that jim jones, bob gates, etc are venal opportunists.

    with a latent dislike for Israel. So true to Rambo’s dictum never let a crisis go to waste and stick it in, in the melee of the moment.

  37. Eliyahu says:

    I think that Michelle is getting close to my position, although maybe backing away afterwards. She wrote that the left-right notion is “outdated.” That puts it mildly. I think that interested parties keep it going in order to deceive public opinion, to make sure that it is divided and confused. Just recall that in the 1930s, some of the “rightists” were pacifistic, saying many of the same things that “leftists” say today. Then, “rightists” wanted “peace” with Nazi Germany. Some lefties did too.

    Look at some creatures out of the 1930s. Father Coughlin was against “international bankers” who were –surprise– Jews. Actually, the 1930s had bankers and big capitalists like Andrew Mellon, Rockefellers, Henry Ford, Alfred Sloane, Tom Watson, J P Morgan [did he die before the 1930s?], etc., who were not Jews. This didn’t bother Coughlin anymore than the fact that the UN human rights council does not concern itself with genocide in the Sudan, going on off and on since Sudanese independence in 1956, but cannot be blamed on Israel, whereas Hamas –their current protege– is quite chummy with its fellow Islamists in Khartoum. Whatever happens in Sudan, the UNHRC is against Israel.

    No less a cultural icon than Simone de Beauvoir complained in her biog [one volume of it], La Force de l’Age [Prime of Life?], I think, that France in the 1930s had both a “leftist” peace movement and a “rightist” peace movement, both of which wanted peace with Nazi Germany. This is getting us away from a distinction between “left” and “right.”

    Michelle pointed to similar practices of oppression in Nazi Germany and the USSR. Of course, there were differences but the similarities were strong. And the USSR too oppressed Jews as a nation and as a religious group. The Soviets were successful in almost totally wiping out the Jewish religion and Jewish secular culture in the USSR, plus the Yiddish language and literary creativity. Judaism was treated more harshly than other religions, by the way.

    Michelle is almost at my position but doesn’t want to stay there, it seems to me. She complains that John J Ray doesn’t define “leftism.” But definition is part of the problem. Leftism is a moving target, inconsistent is in its goals and principles, seemingly changing regularly according to some Zeitgeist. Marx and Engels stressed how rational they were. Of course, they weren’t always rational. But today we have a “left” that often openly rejects reason, instead vaunting sentiments, feelings and –prejudices. Marx depicted Islamic society [the Ottoman Empire] in his newspaper articles as an obstacle to social progress. Today, making that assertion would be most definitely viewed as politically incorrect, as “right-wing” in fact.

    So Michelle, maybe “leftism” is more of a mood, a social movement, a manipulated body of public opinion without fixed methods or standards or criteria of analysis, without fixed goals or principles. It can be almost anything that you want it to be. Wasn’t it more a kind of necessary social movement –even a home– for you and your family back in the 50s??

    I forgot to mention that many groups, associations, leagues, that define themselves as “left” are funded by govts, directly and indirectly. That is true of many of the Israeli “leftist” “peace groups,” funded not by Israel’s govt but by EU member states and other Western states. For instance, one Noam used to leave annoying comments here on the Stables. He was active in an outfit called “Breaking Silence.” It has since come out that this group was funded by the British embassy in Israel.

    So let’s drop the whole harmful notion of a “left-right” spectrum, this grotesque “mystification.”

  38. Eliyahu says:

    One bizarre sign of “leftist” convergence with “rightists” is the obama administration. Obama’s national insecurity advisor, Jim jones, is supposed to give the major address to a conclave of the George Soros-funded pro-Arab, pro-Muslim jihadist, pro-PLO lobbying group called J Street. This group was not created by the grass roots of Jews in America, although it does have a following. It was created by Soros’ money [collaborating with the Fenton PR firm] in order to supply public opinion support to Obama’s anti-Israel, pro-Arab, pro-Muslim policies, thereby undermining AIPAC in the process [AIPAC is seen as an obstacle to obama’s policies against Israel].

    Jones was a big general, an advocate of using American military power throughout the world. He is promoting an anti-Israel policy that was earlier promoted by Republicans, by Prez George Bush I in the early 1990s and by John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles in the 1950s.

    Since the Dulles brothers’ time, Israelophobia has successfully rebranded itself as it were, making it a “leftist” cause and a mystique of support for an allegedly ancient people, the “palestinians” previously unknown to history. Most of today’s “left” serves the foreign policy establishment as a cheerleader for what were long ago Republican policies. I could go on and on about the fakery of what today’s Left claims to be.

    Ray from Seattle may be aware [see Vance Packard’s Hidden Persuaders] of how successful such rebranding and reimaging campaigns can be. I remember one of my girl cousins back in the late 1940s, early 1950s, smoking Marlboro cigarettes. The Marlboro package had the name Marlboro written esthetically in a red line of handwriting on a white background, apparently meant to appeal to women who considered themselves elegant if not glamourous, as my cousin saw herself. Then a few years later, Vance Packard describes the process, Marlboro had a new package with the name in straight bold, angular printed capital letters, not the elegant feminine curves in red of a few years before. The smoker of Marlboro was now a real man, a he man, a cowboy riding a horse with cowboy boots on, etc. It was a man’s cigarette. That’s probably how most people today think of Marlboro. And they remember that cowboy riding his horse. I’m sure that few remember, as I do, that it was once meant to be an elegant woman’s cigarette.

    So if a consumer product can change not just its image but its very sex, then the mindbenders must think that they can do anything. Israelophobia is no longer the province of hardboiled Republican friends of Big Oil –as were the Dulles brothers– today it is softboiled and kindhearted. It is “leftist” and is Good for the “Third World.” Even members of the foreign policy establishment and the national security establishment, like walt, mearsheimer, and General jim jones, can be considered friends of the Third World, enemies of Israeli aggression, etc. My feelings aren’t hurt. Nowadays, higher oil prices too are depicted as Good for the Third World, Good for the world’s poor, etc.

    The lion may not yet lie down with the lamb but the uncouth mob of “leftist” Israelophobes can break bread with the exponents of Realist, frankly immoral or amoral foreign policy, which the “leftists” too support de facto, and maybe de jure too. And all this is demonstrated by the upcoming J Street konclave.

  39. oao says:


    you seem to belabor under the fallacy that if leftists and rightists merge in an administration it means that left and right have no significance.

    i and others tried to explain why that is a fallacy but apparently without success.

  40. Eliyahu says:

    so there are too distinct bodies of opinion which nevertheless work toward the same political goals.

    Both bodies of opinion are manipulated, probably by the same forces, although the “left” is much more so.

    But so many of their ideas and opinions are now the same. Are Zbig and jim jones less anti-Israel than Abu Mazen??

    Environmentalism was once a Republican cause under the name conservationism. It used to be “rightists” who accused Jews of being exploiters by nature, although that notion started with “leftists” in the 19th century, and no doubt goes back earlier.

  41. E.G. says:


    People, parties, ideologies etc. evolve. I don’t think that sticking to the right/left label is done to sow confusion but, au contraire, to instill a sense of clarity and loyalty in the electorate’s minds.
    And, you forget Progress. Quite a polysemic notion, isn’t it?

  42. oao says:

    so there are too distinct bodies of opinion which nevertheless work toward the same political goals.

    sometimes, on some issues. if you recall i keep reiterating that the left and right ends meet.

    but not always and all issues, not for the same reasons and often they hope to balance or outwit the other.

    But so many of their ideas and opinions are now the same. Are Zbig and jim jones less anti-Israel than Abu Mazen??

    reread my explanation of the difference in REASONS the left and the right are anti-israel.

    Environmentalism was once a Republican cause under the name conservationism. It used to be “rightists” who accused Jews of being exploiters by nature, although that notion started with “leftists” in the 19th century, and no doubt goes back earlier.

    as e.g. explained and i did too things happen in the real world and force adaptation. the current strategy of the left is to use environmentalism to bring down western economies, something which the right cannot join in.

    and i don’t think that conservatism and environmentalism are exactly the same.

  43. Cynic says:


    Maybe instead of trying to define someone or body as leftist or rightist one should profile their behaviour psychologically.
    A person or body behaving in a fashion that accepts certain traits as positive and others as negative and so fits a certain stereotype (for example: antisemite) can be boxed correctly.
    Those who claim to be X and who act as such display a certain psychology not demonstrated by others suffering from cognitive dissonance.

    By the way about those terrible bankers; living in Brazil in the 70s I came across an ex-Mozambique citizen who was trying to get a loan to set up a coffee plantation.
    He wailed that the Jews were unfair and would not advance him a loan.
    The funny thing was that the only bank he had not tried was the only one owned and run by Jews. All the others, the ones he approached, were the culturally established private, the corporate and the State run banks.

  44. E.G. says:


    Profiling is un-PC.
    But that’s the appropriate thing to do. Provided the criteria are correct.

  45. Cynic says:


    Provided the criteria are correct.

    If it quacks like a duck but walks like a chicken?
    Can we profile, please, pretty please?

    Who is going to okay the criteria? One’s eyes and brain or do we have to call for Goldstone? (The mind boggles as it recollects that song(Calling Dr. Love
    So answer please get on your knees
    There are no bills, there are no fees
    Baby, I know what your problem is
    The first step of the cure is…

    Actually for discussions one should create a linear scale with just degrees of separation for the slight differences in basically the same ideology (Hitler balanced trays with his right hand while Mussolini did so with his left, and Stalin used both hands).

  46. E.G. says:


    Have you too seen the transgender Human Rights/airport security UN report?

    Of course all and any leaders have a “better future for Humanity and our people’s in the first place” discourse. The subtext is “let me do what I think is best, as I think it’ll be best achieved”. And, in fine, totalitarian leaders have a lot in common. That’s why I like Cohen’s title “What’s Left?”.

  47. Eliyahu says:

    oao, in my #42, I wrote conservatIONISM, not conservatism. That was the buzz word in those days. OK, so today’s environmentalism and yesteryear’s conservaTIONISM are not the same. But close enough. The basis idea is the same.

    EG, those who use labels like “left” and “right” may be trying –at least some of them– to clarify the political situation for the ill-informed. But in the long run the left-right spectrum notion only confuses people.

    Cynic, I agree that we, as political scientists, need a new method of political/ideological classification. But we ought to get rid of “left-right” as soon as possible even before developing a new method of classifying.

    now, oao, back to the main speech at the JStreet konklave to be given by Jim jones, ex-Marine Corps commandant, ex-high commander of NATO, etc. What does the fact that Jones, obominable’s national insecurity advisor is to give the main speech at the JStreet Konklave, tell us about the “left-right” spectrum that we didn’t already know from the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939??

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