News Media, Arab Honor-Shame, and Operation Cast Lead: The Failures of Cognitive Egocentrism

A segment from a long essay on the Goldstone Report to appear in MERIA in January, with embedded video.

In some senses, it might be fair to argue that the news media believe that by emphasizing the humanitarian catastrophe, they contribute to peace. By putting pressure on the Israelis, they reason, they can help to stop the bombing. Christiane Amanpour quite un-self-consciously revealed the calculus in a question to Tony Blair:

Amanpour to Blair: “The civilian casualties in Gaza are obviously going to put a big pressure on Israel. How long can Israel withstand this pressure?”

Note that Amanpour asks the question with great confidence – this, she clearly feels, is a good, even shrewd question – unaware of what she reveals about her own thinking. Indeed, from her point of view, this isn’t even advocacy; it’s such a widespread attitude that it has the status of Realpolitik.

Now when such diplomatic dynamics are so obvious to the media, what’s to prevent them from thinking that the more they emphasize the humanitarian catastrophe, the sooner the violence will end?

Aside from the multiple, highly questionable, assumptions that underlie such apparently “self-evident” reasoning, the question also reveals a fundamental position of advocacy or bias – the “solution” will come from pressure on Israel, not on Hamas.

For a fascinating example of the cognitive dissonance that results from confronting Hamas, a journalist asking an Arab spokesman why Hamas doesn’t just stop the fighting, consider this exchange between “rational” BBC interviewer, Karen Ginoni, and the Arab League Ambassador to the UN, Yahya Mahmassani.



“How can those rockets stop when the sky is raining rockets and bombs…?

For some in the world (like Genoni), the damage to ones own people is a reason to stop. For others, it’s a reason to keep going no matter what the cost. Note that Mahmassani he doesn’t pause for a moment. And he uses an intransitive verb, as if the rockets were the actors, a force of nature, a law of nature. This is, for him, a no-brainer.

It’s also a perfect illustration of the Honor-Shame Jihad Paradigm HSJP, recently explored by Ted Belman. There are two dimensions to this decision, both derived from honor-shame concerns, but also mutually contradictory:

    1) “If we stop, we’ve said ‘Uncle!’ to the Jews, and therefore lost face terribly; so even if it’s damaging to our people, we keep going.”
    2) “We do it so we can parade our suffering at the hands of the Jews before the whole world”; even though showing weakness publicly is anathema to honor-shame warriors (imagine Achilles faking injury).

What’s remarkable about this immediate response is the fact that Mahmassani is neither Hamas nor Jihadi. In principle he’s a mainstream and reasonably moderate spokesman for an Arab consensus. And here there’s no question about what’s the right thing to do: If the enemy is doing terrible damage to your people, of course you keep shooting! How can you stop?

Of course, real democracies cannot adopt such strategies. And in so responding, Mahmassani exemplifies the disastrous lack of democratic currents in Arab political culture.

But, as Genoni’s lack of response to this argument makes clear, the Arab discourse doesn’t compute for a Westerner who values every, especially innocent, human life. Who can take issue with such a non-rational (and fundamentally inhumane) response?

So, almost by default, the pressure is on Israel and, I would argue, the MSNM thinks that it contributes to peace, or at least a cessation to the terrible suffering of the Gazans, by emphasizing the humanitarian catastrophe and increasing pressure on Israel to stop.

The ironic result of this news media “peace advocacy” is a remarkable overlap between Hamas’ and the news media’ talking points – humanitarian crisis, civilian casualties, Israeli brutality…

Palestinian suffering, the hell of war brought searingly home to the viewer, and its predictable impact on the surge of support among Palestinians and international protesters for Hamas as defender of the Palestinian people.

News providers like CNN and BBC began each news hour with an update, each starting off with a collage of Palestinian suffering.

In the end, the news media became tools of Hamas propaganda and, like Goldstone Report, ended up encouraging precisely the war-mongering sacrifice of civilians that they, in their best intentions, were trying to halt.

And so, we lose the cognitive war to people whose moral values civil society in the West rejected centuries ago.

They’re so smart cause we’re so stupid.

60 Responses to News Media, Arab Honor-Shame, and Operation Cast Lead: The Failures of Cognitive Egocentrism

  1. Soccer Dad says:

    History Repeats Itself, First As Tragedy, Second As FARC…

    With apologies to Karl Marx.In The FARC and the ‘Peace Community’, Mary O’Grady writes in The Wall Street Journal about how those who claim to work for peace–don’t. In this case, the example is in Colombia, from the Front of the Revoluti…

  2. sshender says:

    Richard, the first embed seems to be wrong!

    Besides that, another dead on observation. But the question remains, what would it take for intelligent people to comprehend this reality?

  3. [...] here to see the original: Augean Stables » News Media, Arab Honor-Shame, and Operation Cast … Share and [...]

  4. Richard says:

    Richard is once again bang on the money.
    It’s interesting reading Barry Rubin as the consensus appears to be established (within this frame of analysis) that the media are an (unwitting) part of the propaganda offensive.
    This also has something to say about the decline of intellectual standards in the West. Media organisations should not be politicised but with the triumph of sentimentalist based reporting, the organisations take sides, though often extremely ill-informed.

  5. E.G. says:

    Extreme events – such as great joys and terrible catastrophes – sell better than more “normal” ones, because they capture more attention. Hence media’s interest in highlighting and promoting the first, often enhancing the event’s exceptional status, so as to keep their audience. All the more so with 7/24 news providers.

    And the Palestinian Arabs very willingly provide a lot of the “juicy” stuff while Israelis, au contraire, mostly provide “duller” images of the calmer sort (the homicide attacks of the 1990′s and 2000′s were “served” courtesy of the Pal-Arabs, and heavily censored too). So emphasising the misery and the plight of the poor innocent civilians is a common interest shared by both the media and the Arab Palestinians.

    The honour-shame feature not having been lost in Western culture, obviously people (broadcasters and viewers) are sensitive, and instinctively empathic, to the humiliating dimensions focussed on by those who present themselves as suffering victims. And the “here and now”/Live feature that is the main media marketing point is often in contradiction with (the journalistic ethical requirement of) bringing in some or enlarging the context. So “here and now” bombs are raining on the Gaza strip, and these destructive bombs are Israeli. What’s more natural and compelling than to claim revenge and redeem the injured and dead’s lost honour? The out-of-sight – out-of-mind causes for the bomb shower (i.e., militant/activist/operative, in current “laundered” terms, attacking Israeli towns and cities – as it’s often put, rather than innocent Israeli civilians), are at best left in the dim background. The most talented pro-Israel spokesperson/expert cannot compete with heartbreaking images of devastation and sorrow (carefully leaving out of frame the building next to the rubble that is untouched, and the smiling crowd around the mourning person).

    I’m far from persuaded that the MSNM have, for the most part, consciously chosen to side with the Palestinian Arabs. There’s a conjunction of interests and mutual exploitation. IOW, who dies and why is less important for a reporter and her editors than the great opportunity to tell a story of people killed/dead.

    The commentary by experts and spokespeople, and the attribution of responsibility for the event is another part of the show. Perhaps media-Blitzing Israel is MSNM’s retaliation for and on behalf of the Palestinian Cause defenders, who have the means, the motives, and the opportunity to harness such enterprises and drive them in their direction. Perhaps there’s also some good measure of “anchors’” own ideology, spontaneously manifesting itself within the new (wider) boundaries of the journalistic profession (read: subjective handling of data), where the profession has become a mission aiming to inform in order to reform.

  6. Paul Halsall says:

    Richard is it entirely impossible to avoid the provocation and sheer bad faith showed by every Israeli government since 1987 on land transfers etc. These in my opinion have produced the actions which Israel is now reaping. To say that is not to justify Hamas actions, but say Israel is an unfair actor also, In Northern Ireland before 1969 the UK sat back and allowed the landed Protestant majority along with a Protestant urban-work force which excluded Catholic workers, to establish a Protestant state, which limited Catholic but not protestant votes to householders only; gerrymandered any still possible seat with a Catholic majority; set up a almost exclusively Protestant police force; established segregated housing and had para-National organizations and newspapers which engaged in continual efforts designed to belittle and the Catholics. [For example efforts to ban Catholic symbols, but to aggressively assert Orange symbols, such as the July Marches past Catholic churches.

    Did any of this justify the 1969 Catholic Civil Rights uprising, or the response of the IRA when the British troops sent it to Ulster fired on Catholic marchers? No. The IRA had no right bomb the center of my home city, should soldiers in British pubs, and set off bombs in Ireland. But the reaction by elements in the Catholic Community can be explained – Protestant Ulster and the larger UK truly reaped what they sowed. I see precise analogies to Israel and its treatment of Palestinians here,

    I would prefer a one-state solution in the area as I think states should recognize all their citizens equally. Clearly that is not desired by almost anyone there (there are too many hatreds), so a just two state solution is the one which good people need to work for. I oppose efforts by Hamas to oppose this, and regret the collapse of FATAH. I oppose all violence by such groups. But I also think Israeli efforts to usurp West Bank land is the primary driver of the efforts of the resistance.

    Israel has had the upper hand since 1967. It has been, under all parties in government, consistent in attempting to grab more and more parts of the West Bank.

    It is true it has a free press, a court system, and a vital internal debate. But that internal debate is very narrow, and seems to have become much darker due to the growth of Haredi politics, religious Zionism, and the peculiarly selfish politics of the Russian immigrants.

    Of course HAMAS firing rockets at Sderot was wrong; of course the use of suicide bombers was wrong; but the seeting violence of Palestinian politics is above all a reaction to Israeli oppression.

  7. Soccer Dad says:

    Christiane Amanpour Demonstrates Zen And The Art Of Diplomatic Effort…

    Once in a while I add captions to images, but then there are other times when the image and the actual caption just go together hand in glove.Here, the picture of Christiane Amanpour of CNN seems to epitomize what the caption calls “diplomatic effort….

  8. E.G. says:

    Paul Halsall,

    You might greatly benefit from reading, and eventually reflecting a bit about the notions specified here:

    http://www.theaugeanstables.com/reflections-from-second-draft/cognitive-egocentrism/

  9. in response to paul h (also left at his blog where he posted this comment as a post):

    then how do you explain the seething rage of “palestinian” (really arab) politics before 1967 and the occupation?

    it’s not about some land, or the 48-67 borders which the arabs never considered real, it’s about the existence of a dhimmi state that’s declared its independence and constitutes a standing loss of face for the muslim and arab world.

    this is a matter of honor and shame for them, not rational western notions like sovereignty (theirs, which they never had and even now don’t want enuf to be willing to share it with an independent sovereign israel), nor about nationhood (a foreign import of limited significance — “arab nationalism” is a generic).

    it’s not about the greenline, it’s about the shoreline.

    this is surely something that you (and i) as medievalists should be attuned to.

    i’d be very interested in your take on my essay The Arab Israeli Conflict and Honor-shame Dynamics.

  10. sshender says:

    A response to Paul:

    You are wrong on almost every count. Historically, expansionism was never Israel’s objective, but the unavoidable result of Arab aggression and increasing threats. You demand good faith from Israel, while ignoring the nature of its “partners” who were not only short on reciprocal gestures but who openly wished (and still do) for the annihilation of it. It takes two to tango, and for almost a century now one of the dancers constantly keeps trying to wrestle the other to the ground. The ’48 partition lines would have become the finite borders if the Arabs had not attacked in 48. And the green line would have remained the border if wasn’t for the ’67 war, launched yet again by our relentlessly intransigent Arab neighbors. The same goes for South Lebanon which, had it been able to enforce its sovereignty over its south and prevent the launching of attacks over the border, would have been spared the ‘terrible’ Israeli presence. And so on and so forth.

    Your one state utopia is a death verdict for Israel. Besides the genocidal enmity of the Arabs towards the Israelis and the understandable antagonism and suspicion with which most Israeli Jews view the Arabs, the influx of Millions of poor, uneducated, and culturally different Arabs into the Israeli economy and social services would upset the already fragile balance beyond the tipping point. Israel would cease to be a Western, free market and pluralistic democratic society and – in the unlikely scenario where all out civil war would be avoided – would become another failing Muslim state with all the defects that we see in the rest of the ME, plus rife with sectarian and religious Balkan-style divisions.

    And this is just the tip of the iceberg. A full analysis on all fronts proves to be disastrous not only for the Israelis but also for the Palestinian refugees and their descendants. And you dare call yourself an historian?

  11. sshender says:

    Not to mention your Grand Fenale paradigm of the seeting violence of Palestinian politics is above all a reaction to Israeli oppression which has by now been discredited by every thinking person.

  12. Ray in Seattle says:

    When I read comments like Paul Halsall’s above I can’t help but shake my head in incredulity. How can any intelligent person possibly compare the Arab/Israeli situation to Ireland’s.

    Protestants ruled the Catholic minority in Ireland for hundreds of years before the “troubles” – which were really a flareup in the ongoing attempts of the natives of Ireland over several centuries to divorce themselves of British rule and gain independence. The modern troubles are just another chapter in that long saga of Britain’s colonialism and its ultimate decline.

    The state of Israel was created by deliberation of the UN, with several of the new Arab states, whose membership included the legal commitment to honor all agreements reached by that body. It concerned the fair assignment of sovereignty of the stateless territory of Palestine – according to majority populations in those areas of the two ethnic / religious groups living there. It was an unheard of attempt by the democracies that won WWII to avoid further war and genocide by legally enforceable deliberation and negotiation of opposing interests.

    One side, the Arab states that had agreed to honor the vote of the UN when they became members of it, responded to the Partition vote by declaring war on the new sovereign state of Israel. They immediately declared their intention to destroy Israel and the Jews who created it. The past sixty years has been a litany of their failed attempts at it – so far.

    In the case of Ireland you had a centuries long religious sectarian struggle for a land unfortunately situated close by the shores of a huge military power whose vast wealth was the product of centuries of colonialism – that was declining. They saw Ireland as an essential bulwark on their eastern shores. Britain’s power and interest has historically been enlisted by the minority Protestants to their advantage against the Catholic majority.

    In the ME case you had Jews migrating to the non-state territory they had been largely, but not completely expelled from, many centuries earlier. They did this not as clients of some state, or even as a stated people, but as individuals motivated one day to establish a state in their ancient homeland where no state had ever existed. By 1947 they were individuals attempting to establish a secular democratic government over that part of the land where they were the numerical majority, leaving the rest for the Arabs. They attempted this not through conquest and terrorism but through peaceful immigration and the legal instrument of the UN. And they did this while both the Arabs and the Brits were using explosives or their military mandatory powers, respectively, to thwart them.

    I remind that the Partition Plan required that no Jew or Arab be removed from their land or property – while both were free to relocate the few miles necessary to end up under Israeli or Arab sovereignty, as they wished.

    Israel occupies the WB as the result of repeated Arab attacks against Israel over the last 60 years. I also remind that the WB and Gaza were both over-run as a result of one of those attacks in 1967 and that Israel has attempted repeatedly to return most of it according to UN Res 242.

    RL seems to know you and consider you an historian. As an academic how can you so easily avoid stepping back and seeing the larger picture around which the conflict swirls. The Arab/Israeli conflict is not about suicide bombs or occupation of “Arab land”. Those are only its effects. It is about the free-world’s attempt to settle issues of sovereignty where two peoples both have some valid claims – peacefully, without killing those on the other side.

    It is about one side’s desire to establish a state for itself in some recognized and fair international process without resorting to war.

    It is about the other side’s fanatical desire to destroy them for “offending their honor”.

    ~

    It seems to me a scholar of medieval history would be able to avoid the pitfalls of cognitive egocentrism at least enough to appreciate some of these over-riding issues.

  13. Ray in Seattle says:

    Ooops, that should have said “Catholic majority” in Ireland . . in para 2 above.

  14. Ray in Seattle says:

    And Ireland has always been situated off England’s Western shore, of course.

  15. E.G. says:

    Ray – hat off.

  16. sshender says:

    Ray, you should consider posting this on his blog as well.

    The most pathetic thing is that this guy considers his rant worthy of a distinct blog post, when it would pass off as little more than a third rate comment material here.

  17. [...] response to one of my posts a medievalist colleague of mine posted a comment here and a thread on his own site in which he [...]

  18. Rich Rostrom says:

    I have seen many bizarre arguments put forward, but today I am, as a Brit would say, gob-smacked! Any nation which is a member of the United Nation thereby implicitly agrees to any declaration by the UN? Including any future declaration? Say what?

    When did the UN become a sovereign? A federal government? This is not something supporters of Israel should argue: because if the UN can give, the UN can take away.

    Besides which, the Partition Resolution is not even binding in its own words: the General Assembly ‘recommends’, ‘requests’, ‘calls upon’, and ‘appeals’.

    Paul Halsall has a point. There have been Israeli actions which could constitute legitimate grievances for Arabs.

    But he overlooks obvious facts: Arab rage against Israel is wildly disproportionate to these grievances; Arabs routinely invent and exaggerate grievances against Israel; Arabs ignore much greater grievances inflicted by their own governments; Arabs inflicted comparable grievances on the Jewish residents of their countries, who became refugees in Israel; and Arabs have acted on their hostility to Israel by trying to kill any and all Israelis through military attack and terrorist violence.

    If Arabs would stop lying, stop howling for blood, and stop attempting mass murder, they could establish an effective case against Israel. But that wouldn’t be fun. Or less flippantly, it wouldn’t be psychologically gratifying.

  19. E.G. says:

    Rich,

    Arabs inflicted comparable grievances on the Jewish residents of their countries, who became refugees in Israel

    Comparable grievances? In the sense that they can/should be the object of comparison or meaning “about the same”?

    And…who became full citizens in Israel, as soon as they arrived.
    They were never considered refugees.

  20. Paul Halsall says:

    Well it’s nice to be attacked personally a people who don’t even use their own names.

    Ray in Seattle misses the point. I was not discussing British policy in Ireland over its history, but it’s specific history in the six counties after partition.

    I think the charge or cognitive egotism is so easily made as to be both meaningless and useless. It pertains certainly to much comment in the Muslim middle east, but equally to much Israeli opinion, and that of neo-cons in the US.

    The basis issue I have, is one that Richard Goldberg expressed in his Atlantic blog. When I began supporting Israel in the 1970s (i.e. as soon as I was aware of the issues), I never expected the children of the shtetl to start acting like Cossacks.

  21. “In the ME case you had Jews migrating to the non-state territory they had been largely, but not completely expelled from, many centuries earlier. They did this not as clients of some state, or even as a stated people, but as individuals motivated one day to establish a state in their ancient homeland where no state had ever existed.”

    Did Jews pre-Israel have a strong sentimental connection to Palestine? Certainly. “Ancient historical rights” to a territory should, I think, take a back seat to the fact that people already live in that specific territory and should have the right to decide what they want their territory’s future to be. This includes having the right to decide whether their territory should be made into someone else’s nation-state.

  22. E.G. says:

    Paul Halsall,

    Posting on a blog has its advantages and inconveniences. And what seems as an advantage for some may be conceived as an inconvenience for others – as in using one’s name or a nickname.
    However, it’s unequivocally not you that’s been attacked. It’s the opinion you posted that’s been refuted, a nuance I’m sure is clear for you.

    I’m much less sure about your conception regarding Cognitive Egocentrism – which is a notion quite different from “egotism” as you put it above.
    But indeed, it’s far from being a Moslem distinctive trait. I recommend a more attentive reading.

    I never expected the children of the shtetl to start acting like Cossacks.

    a. I expect a scholar to use appropriate, accurate language rather than a fortiori inaccurate stereotypical labels that also have offensive connotations. Unless, of course, one intends to add insult to fallacy.

    b. You can continue not expecting, nothing of the kind has happened nor is it going to happen.

  23. E.G. says:

    Randy McDonald,

    I’m glad to remind you that from the Balfour declaration on, all the Intl. recommendations, reports, resolutions etc. did take into account the non-Jewish settlers and inhabitants of Mandate Palestine. And that the Jewish leadership agreed and accepted them all.

  24. Eliyahu says:

    I would point out to Jonathan Jarrett that the UN general assembly partition plan of 29 XI 1947 was a recommendation, as are all GA political resolutions. Hence, the partition plan did not have the force of law but was a mere recommendation, which the Arab side rejected at the time. Hence, the previous legal status of the country remained intact. This prior status was the Jewish National Home enacted or recognized, if you like, by the San Remo Conference [1920], the League of Nations [1922], and maintained and recognized by the UN Charter of 1945 in Article 80. By the principle of the Jewish National Home [JNH], the whole country was recognized as rightfully belonging to the Jews. So Israel is not “occupying” Judea and Samaria [or Gaza up to 2005] since they were all parts of the JNH.

    Even if those areas were “occupied”, Jewish settlements in them were not illegal. Geneva IV Article 49 is often evoked to “prove” an Israeli violation of international law in this context. However, what Art. 49 forbids is “transfer” of population. Transfer is a compulsory action. The Jews who went to live in Judea-Samaria & Gaza went there willingly, not under compulsion. In many places they were settling on Jewish-owned real estate, as in Hebron and the formerly Jordanian-occupied parts of Jerusalem. In other cases, they were settling on state land, in accord with the League of Nations mandate [article 6] granted to the UK on the grounds that it foster development of the JNH.
    The British mandatory govt of the country violated its mandate many times, most egregiously in the 1939 “palestine white paper.” This 1939 UK policy statement severely restricted Jewish immigration to the JNH when the Jews most needed a home. It was found in violation of the mandate given to the UK by the League’s Permanent Mandates Commission.

    Now, JJ, you refer in a general manner to various UN resolutions which you claim Israel was “in breach of.” Indeed. However, any UN GA or SC resolution which did not base itself on previous international law, including the JNH principle, was itself in violation. The UN is not competent to legislate ex post facto, denying rights to the Jewish people and the State of Israel that Jews and Israel were already exercising. Insofar as UN bodies did so, then they were not only violating/vitiating existing international law but were acting in a clearly Judeophobic manner. The UN and its various bodies cannot recognize a right [in this case, Jewish rights to the Land of Israel as embodied in the JNH principle] and later take that right away, after it has been exercised. Of course, I do consider the decisions that you refer to to be illegal under international law, illegitimate, and Judeophobic. The UN is a Judeophobic body and has a negative moral weight. Bear in mind the great weight that Muslim states belonging to the Organization of the Islamic Conference [OIC] have on the UN and its constituent bodies such as the “human rights council,” a body with an Orwellian name. The OIC sponsors the so-called Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, which in fact contradicts and vitiates the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This Cairo Declaration is opposed to human equality and is a clear statement of Muslim superiority. See link:

    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2009/11/muslim-militants-of-organization-of.html

    The UN is not today a legitimate body and decent folk should work to undo it.

  25. Eliyahu says:

    Now Randy MacDonald writes:

    “Ancient historical rights” to a territory should, I think, take a back seat to the fact that people already live in that specific territory and should have the right to decide what they want their territory’s future to be. This includes having the right to decide whether their territory should be made into someone else’s nation-state.

    According to what you write here, Randy, then the Arabs who demand a “right of return” have no case, since “the people [that] already live in that specific territory [Israel]… should have the right to decide… their territory’s future.” Of course, in 1948 600,000 Jews were living in the JNH and were a majority in the part of the area partitioned [as a UN GA recommendation] for a Jewish state. If the principle that you enunciate was validly applied to the Jews pre-1948, then it is validly applied to the Arabs now. Your comment or response is welcome.

  26. Cynic says:

    Randy McDonald,

    “Ancient historical rights” to a territory should, I think, take a back seat to the fact that people already live in that specific territory and should have the right to decide what they want their territory’s future to be.

    As they say the devil is in the details.
    There were virtually no people living “in that specific territory” (read Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad to get an idea), apart from Jerusalem, Safed, Hebron and some other small villages.

    In the late 1880s Jews were the majority in Jerusalem.
    They had been living for centuries in Hebron and other isolated parts of the “Ottoman Empire” where the Turks deposited forced converts to Islam “imported” from “occupied” Eastern Europe to get some tax payers on the ground.

    It was only after the first wave of Jews arrived in the late 1880s and started agriculture, drained swamps, built roads and provided a basis for life that the “people that live there” started arriving to take advantage of the progress.
    During the first part of the 20th century British brought in Arabs to “fairly balance” the mandate they were given by the League of Nations to administer the territory captured from the Turks for a Jewish National Home.

    As it was, all the land that the Jews settled was purchased from the Turks and from absentee landlords.

  27. Ray in Seattle says:

    Randy says, “Did Jews pre-Israel have a strong sentimental connection to Palestine? Certainly. “Ancient historical rights” to a territory should, I think, take a back seat to the fact that people already live in that specific territory and should have the right to decide what they want their territory’s future to be. This includes having the right to decide whether their territory should be made into someone else’s nation-state.”

    You say the people (who) already live there should decide such things. But that makes no sense. Try to read this carefully. It’s been stated many times in almost any discussion on this topic that comes up – including in my post that you criticize.

    The UN Partition Plan allocated sovereignty based on who was living there – the suggested borders were based on the ethnicity of the majority population of each area.

    Assuming you understand that then, which you must, I think you are really saying that the Jews should have been prevented from migrating there and becoming the majority ethnicity in those areas where that was achieved. Note that they were already the majority in several areas of the Mandate, esp. Jerusalem, Hebron, etc. prior to any migration waves caused by WWII.

    It seems then that you are advocating for UN restrictions on immigration into UN administered stateless territories based on ethnicity. You are saying the UN should have encouraged immigration into the stateless land for non-Jews and should have enforced a “no Jews allowed” policy for those areas – or to put it less politely, the League of Nations (or UN) should have adopted an overtly racist policy toward Jews trying to escape the death camps.

    What notions of morality or international law do you call upon for this racist notion? How do you justify locking Jews out of a territory that international laws enacted under humanitarian considerations had designated as the future Jewish homeland – as Eliyahu so carefully explains above?

    It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the Brits simply allowed far too many Jews to escape the ovens for you.

  28. E.G. says:

    Randy McDonald,

    In addition to Cynic’s details, let me mention 2 more:

    1. The very “indigenous” Templar and German colonies (yes, there were Swastika flags flying in Jerusalem in the 1930′s thanks to some of those long-term settlers).

    2. After conquering Syria (which at the time included Palestine) in 1831, Ibrahim Pasha, son of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, brought Egyptian farmers, ex-military, and functionaries, and settled them with their families in “Palestine”, in order to serve as loyal officials and implement the reforms he initiated. He also deported quite a few rebellious Arab Palestinians and razed a few villages.

  29. Cynic says:

    This is where one starts questioning the writers feelings and intent.
    The children of the shtetl – a rather demeaning form of address implying what, that those uppity Jews should know their place in society?

    Acting like Cossacks hmmm, not quite like Nazis hey?

    And this form of discussion comes from the people of Colonialism in Africa and the Far East.
    The scorched earth policies of the British in Southern Africa that saw women and children die in the hundreds in “camps” set in the war against the Boers; the British behaviour in China along with its “apartheid” not permitting Chinese into parks and places occupied by the Europeans which leading apparently to the Boxer Rebellion.

    A chance to get a slap in at those Jews?

  30. Eliyahu says:

    The Jewish majority population in Jerusalem was mentioned above. According to the contemporary French diplomat and historian, Cesar Famin, Jews were the absolute majority in Jerusalem as early as 1853. Karl Marx quoted and paraphrased Famin’s book in his article on the origins of the Crimean War in the New York Tribune, Horace Greeley’s paper, of 15 April 1854. Marx too reports a Jewish majority, paraphrasing Famin. See link:

    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2006/03/jewish-majority-in-jerusalem-in-1853.html

  31. Ray in Seattle says:

    Paul says, “Well it’s nice to be attacked personally (by) a people who don’t even use their own names.”

    I’m not sure how the name I use has any effect on the arguments you put forth. It was your argument I was concerned with.

    Paul says, “Ray in Seattle misses the point. I was not discussing British policy in Ireland over its history, but it’s specific history in the six counties after partition.”

    I got your point . . that Israel reaps the results of its cruel policies just as England has. You said it was not justifiable but understandable. (I’m not sure how much difference there is there.)

    But, I guess you did miss my refutation. Britain’s relationship to Ireland started out and has always been as a colonial power who established that control by military force and still maintains it that way.

    The Jew’s relationship to Israel was never that of colonialism by any stretch of the term. It was a peaceful migration by civilians and an attempt to integrate into the changing demographics of the territory by a legal, UN approved process of statehood applied equally to both sides, and under which Arabs, including those stateless Arabs of Palestine, had a voice.

    Does that now – or did it at any time in the past – bear any resemblance to Britain’s relationship to Ireland? Britain’s military still ensures the lives of the descendants of the Protestants that Britain imported to Ireland to establish and maintain their colonial power there in the 1600′s. By 1703, 90% of Ireland was owned by British colonialists and the Catholics had been forcibly evicted from their own land.

    Israel’s occupation of the WB is the result of existential defensive needs unarguably necessary to prevent violent attacks. Israel has tried to give it back repeatedly. The Arabs there prefer military occupation by Israel for several reasons to their political and practical advantage and therefore refuse all offers to negotiate a withdrawal.

    Has Britain offered to remove the Protestants from Ireland and return their land holdings to the Irish families they were stolen from under overt policies of colonial aggression and theft voted on and affirmed by British administrations over several centuries? I don’t think so.

    Has Israel offered to remove Jews from the WB as they did from Gaza – and compensate Arab families for lost land under the occupation, even though it was defensive occupation, through land trades, etc. and support eventual statehood for the Arabs that would not be a threat to Israel

    Yes, starting in the days immediately after the land was over-run in 1976 in a defensive war by Israel, and many times since then.

    Has Israel ever declared their intention to annex the WB or Gaza or maintain control beyond necessary to defend Israel’s security? No. In fact, Israel repeatedly tries turning more civilian control over to the Palestinians and has even armed the Palestinain police forces.

    Again, you believe that the Israelis are “cruel beasts” who (understandably) deserve rockets being fired at their citizens because they want to subjugate and humiliate Palestinians and take their land. But an objective view of the facts show that simply to be a fantasy narrative supported by leftists in the West to justify Arab intransigence and violence against Jews. It seems to me you have fully bought into this.

    I accept your criticism that (by questioning your scholarly skills I assume) I crossed over into a type of personal attack. I’m sorry if you take it personally but I believe scholars should be exceptionally immune to such emotional politically-driven narratives.

    But you can redeem yourself and earn my apology. You will need to show the facts and logic to support your view – as I have done for mine above. Simply comparing the British colonization of Ireland to Israel’s defensive occupation of the WB doesn’t come close to a worthy argument IMO because of the substantive factors I have listed. So I suggest you abandon that track.

    Can you make a plausible case that Israel has not offered significant and ultimately fair and practical peace proposals that would end the WB occupation and remove significant numbers of settlements – several times over, starting in 1967 immediately after the Six Day War and continuing periodically until just a few months ago?

    Can you offer any logical explanation for the Palestinian’s refusal to accept any past offers or even now to negotiate in good faith – other than that their interest is not in ending the occupation but in ending the Jewish presence in the ME – just as their Hamas and PA leadership repeatedly state in Arabic?

    I’m afraid the evidence is stacked pretty high against you but have another go at it if you wish.

  32. Ray in Seattle says:

    Rich says, “I have seen many bizarre arguments put forward, but today I am, as a Brit would say, gob-smacked! Any nation which is a member of the United Nation thereby implicitly agrees to any declaration by the UN? Including any future declaration? Say what? When did the UN become a sovereign? A federal government? This is not something supporters of Israel should argue: because if the UN can give, the UN can take away. ”

    Yes Rich, When states apply for membership in a body such as the UN and participate in debate and voting on an issue – they are obligated to honor the vote and not attack the other side with their armies.

    Article 2, Para 2, of the UN Charter states:

    All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.

    Article 2, Para 3:

    All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

    **************

    So, it was a violation of their obligations that they accepted as members of the UN to accept the Partition Plan in good faith. It was a violation of those obligations to declare war and attack the new state of Israel.

    This has nothing to do with the UN being “a sovereign”. It’s about agreeing in writing to settle differences according to some peaceful process and then when the peaceful process doesn’t go your way – starting a war to get around it. It’s about the Arabs violating their voluntary agreement to abide by the process in place to prevent war as specified in the UN Charter.

    It causes one to wonder how the interests of world peace are furthered in any way by allowing people who place no importance on such good faith efforts at peace – admitted to the UN to start with. A simple look at the list of racist, genocidal regimes who are currently UN member states in good standing kind of makes my point I think.

  33. Ray in Seattle says:

    And one more thought. Going by the actual UN Charter, which I believe is an amazing document in terms of marking a major leap forward by the world toward peace and a movement away from war in settling conflicts – Israel is probably closer to exemplifying the spirit and words of that Charter – starting with its acceptance of the barely workable Partition Plan that justified its existence through its attempt to follow the guidelines in that Charter in good faith and forbearance through the dozens of genocidal attempts by its Arab neighbors to destroy it – than any other nation in the world.

    Of course, the actions of the UN bear no resemblance at all to the words and spirit of the Charter as the UN is being run today.

  34. [...] makes clear, the Arab discourse doesn’t compute for a Westerner who … Read more here: Augean Stables » News Media, Arab Honor-Shame, and Operation Cast … Share and [...]

  35. Paul Halsall says:

    Ray,

    I did not state, and do not, think Jews’ relationship to Eretz Yisroel is “colonial”.

    I do think Midnat Yisroel’s relationship to Palestinians in thew West Bank (and to a lesser extent in Gaza) is comparable to the UK’s relationship to Northern Irish Catholics.

    I think that comment holds. It is ludicrous to expect a comparison to be totally congruent.

    As top Palestinian actions – I more or less agree with Abba Eben that their political leadership has never missed an opportunity to take the wrong decision. I think many many were anti-Semitic, although the Dhimmi issue is way overplayed here – many Palestinian leaders (George Habash for example) were Christian, and many Arab Christians saw Arab nationalism as a way to simply ignore Dhimmitude.

    I presume you just made a typo in referring to 1976! I don’t think Israel has announced any plan to take over the West Bank. But it has acted as if it wants to. The problem is you cannot simultaneously have a democratic Jewish state and one which includes the West Bank. That is still an issue being worked out.

    Gaza was always less important. After all, as ancient Philistia it hardly even qualifies as the Land (although that is NOT what the Right said in Israel to Rabin or Sharon).

    As to @Cynic, I quoted Jeffery Goldberg, who is not a self hating Jew. The suggestion I am anti-Semitic is absurd. If anything I am massively philo-Semitic.

    If you want my bona fides as a historian search the net. You will find a lot to attack me for, but you will also find for “Jewish History” that Google returns one of my sites as either number 4 or 5, and you will find no history of anti-Semitism.

    In fact, I have been writing things online since 1995, most of the searchable. And you will find no anti-Semitism anywhere.

    It is scurrilous of you to suggest anything else.

  36. Ray in Seattle says:

    Paul said: “I do think Midnat Yisroel’s relationship to Palestinians in thew West Bank (and to a lesser extent in Gaza) is comparable to the UK’s relationship to Northern Irish Catholics.”

    “Relationship” can have many meanings in this context but you do not specify. Do you mean politically? I’ll assume so since. Then you are saying – I assume – that Israel has no intention of ever allowing a sovereign state for Arabs to exist there, at least not one that Israel will not have final say over all their external affairs, certainly anything that pertains to weapons or Israel’s security, and many of their internal ones.

    After 60 years of attempts to destroy Israel militarily and killing the Jews of Israel whenever it had a chance to do so – a situation that continues as we speak – can you think of any possible reason for Israel’s caution on this issue – other than the spurious comparative-with-Ireland/GB one where England itself has never been attacked by Irish Catholics with any intention to destroy it or take it over – and where Catholic Ireland has never claimed any such intention?

    You say Israel “acts like it want to take back the WB”.
    Giving you the benefit of the doubt – although I hope you do explain what point you are trying to make because I am too busy for pointless verbal jousting . .

    Then can you explain why Israel has tried to give back the West Bank many times and did not “take it” in 1967 when it had it – or anytime since then when it has had military control of it?

    Can you explain why Israel has entered high-level negotiations several times now and offered to relinquish control of almost all (over 95%) of the WB in exchange for peace and security?

    Can you explain why Israel would build a multi-billion dollar protective fence/wall between itself and the WB? Is that what a state does when it’s planning to annex the land on the other side?

    Perhaps that is all part of deceitfully clever ploy, one that no-one would ever suspect – to allow Israel to “take back the WB” as you say. But seriously, can you make any case for that? (Still assuming that it is relevant to the discussion.)

    You must realize that your opinion that Israel is “acting like it wants to take it back” – as someone who thinks Israel’s very existence is a mistake that you look forward to seeing corrected – is hardly strong evidence for what you suggest.

    Let’s get serious here. I’d like to see you state your major premise clearly and then make your case for it. So far you have not done so IMO. I don’t think you’ve even given any serious thought to many of these questions.

  37. E.G. says:

    “Midnat Yisroel” is gibberish.
    Neither Yiddish nor Hebrew.

    Medinat Israel is the Hebrew name of the State of Israel in English.

    Only a self-hating historion/hystericon can come up straight-faced with such distortions.

    A PhD is neither a certificate of intelligence, nor of knowledge, nor even of discerning capacity. And it definitely isn’t a licence to utter nonsense.

  38. Eliyahu says:

    Paul,
    I think that many people in the UK –maybe you too– are misled by the lies, distortions, and omissions in the British media, including academic publications. Here is some of my evidence.

    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2009/12/british-press-censors-historical-truth.html

  39. AKUS says:

    “I do think Midnat Yisroel’s relationship ”

    As E.G. pointed out above, this is a gibberish agglomeration of incorrect Hebrew (Medinat, not Midnat) and Yiddish.

    I found it interesting how it resembles the broken Hebrew pronunciation of the disgusting Jewish MP, Gerald Kaufman, who can be heard on a youtube clip, and for somewhat similar reasons.

    There seems to be an attempt made by some commenting on Israeli or Jewish issues to achieve authenticity or authority by various means when the argument itself is weak – thus we get the “as-a-Jew” syndrome, or the “as-the child-of a Holocaust survivor” (in Kaufman’s case,”as-the-grandchild-of my murdered grandmother)or, in the case of Paul Halsman (” an English Historian who just happens to be Gay, Catholic, and a Democratic Socialist.”) – “look – I speak Hebrew – sort of – so my opinion must be valid”.

  40. E.G. says:

    Ray,

    Merry Christmas to you and your dear ones!

    Cordially,

  41. Ray in Seattle says:

    Eliyahu, Thanks for posting that comment which led me to some interesting posts on your website. Earlier this week (Monday and Tuesday) PBS did a 3 hour documentary on Frontline called “The First Christians” which meshed well with many of the points you raise on this topic.

    An interesting bit that I never fully realized before was that for a couple of hundred years CE the first Christians were considered to be a sect of Judaism, even by themselves. They never told me that in Catholic school. It was only well after the synoptic gospels had been written that Christianity split off – and then mostly because the idea of Jesus as the Messiah gradually lost its luster with the larger body of Jews. Apparently such sects with divergent ideas about Messiahs were fairly common in those days – and so it seems that like most new ventures early Christianity suffered from marketing problems.

    The best thing that happened for the Christian label seems to have been the practice of feeding them to the lions at the stadium in Rome. The Romans seem to have been quite impressed to see people willingly go to their death for their God with smiles on their faces – although there weren’t nearly as many Christian martyrs as is taught in Sunday school. But it wasn’t so long after the lion feed that Christianity became well accepted and admired among the Romans.

    The people from that part of the world apparently had little trouble seeing their lives as less important than their ideology – and admiring those who are willing to make that trade. (I use ideology in the psychological sense, not as a put-down of religion.) This included the ancient Jews of Judea who put up an amazing fight for many years against the far more powerful Roman legions as in the Bar Kokhba and Masada resistance. Perhaps it was the tenacity of the Jews for their faith and land and their willingness to die for it that made the Romans see them as a true threat to the hegemonic colonialism of the Empire.

    I’m not sure I’m getting all the history right and I welcome any corrections and especially book suggestions. But I’m learning more history from Richard’s and related web sites such as yours than I ever did in school. Thanks to both of you for taking the time and effort to publish.

  42. Ray in Seattle says:

    And my best wishes this holiday to Richard, EG and all the folks who contribute here. Your thoughtful posts and comments keep me thinking and learning far beyond what any retired person should reasonably come to expect. My life is enriched. Thanks

  43. E.G. says:

    For some reason, Eliyahu’s post made me recall a long-forgotten film. Pimpernel Smith, produced, directed, and played by Leslie Howard, released in 1941.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AnvW9dF9FE

    At 1:35 things are pretty clear.
    (Howard – Leslie Howard Steiner, a British Jew of Hungarian descent – only accepted to play Ashley Wilkes in “Gone With The Wind” in order to earn the money to produce this remake of the Scarlet Pimpernel).

    And then, there’s the short speech he gives towards the end (part 10/11) – it’s “only” 1941…

  44. E.G. says:

    Ray,

    They surely taught you that Jesus was an ordained Rabbi. Yes, there were lots of Jewish sects at his time. But as far (little) as I know, St. Paul (Shaul HaTarsi – Saul of Tarse) did a great marketing job, with some excellent “post-production processing”.

    As for Martyrdom – see: Rabbi Akiva (for example, a Bar Kokhva contemporary). May give some idea of why I’m so revolted by the present deceptive mistranslation of Shahid operations.

  45. E.G. says:

    Paul Halsall

    I quoted Jeffery Goldberg, who is not a self hating Jew.

    (December 23, 2009 @ 4:56 pm)

    Really?
    The only Goldberg you referred to (without quoting nor linking to) was Richard Goldberg (December 22, 2009 @ 5:56 am).

    Here’s for accuracy.
    I was taught, and taught my students to be very careful about citing and quoting. Aside from it being an academic norm, this manner signifies respect due and given to authors. Do you confuse and misquote all and any authors or only the Goldbergs you use as Jewish shields?

  46. Cynic says:

    ToRay and others here good wishes for the holidays, full of the Christmas spirit, and may the new year be a better one.

    Quite funny here today hearing people wishing each other the customary “Peaceful Sabbath” and full of smiles, a happy חַג הַמּוֹלָד (Christmas).

  47. Getting involved in this silly forum was a mistake on my part. My bad!

    ;-)

  48. E.G. says:

    Randy McDonald,

    You post a silly comment – you get some real facts.
    You prefer to stay in your silly, delusional world. Good luck!
    You’re always welcome to the real world here.

    P.S. Did Santa bring you all you asked for?

  49. E.G. says:

    AKUS,

    I hope that some day, the Kingdom of England will find the appropriate way to show its gratefulness for the indispensable service you render to Her very Gracious Majesty’s subjects.
    Perhaps create a new Order with “Honi soit qui mal écrit” as motto?

  50. Paul Halsall says:

    The Times reported that the Israeli government believes it must spend more money on “hasbara,” a Hebrew word that falls somewhere between propaganda and information. It is true that the world media, generally speaking, doesn’t like Israel very much, and stacks the deck against it, but good hasbara starts with not allowing soldiers to vandalize Palestinian homes and shoot Palestinian women. Public relations isn’t a morally relevant category, in any case: The crucial question is, how should a civilized country behave when confronting barbarism? With barbarism? Or with respect for innocent life? Pardon me for saying so, but the Jewish people didn’t struggle for national equality, justice and freedom so that some of its sons could behave like Cossacks. Please don’t get me wrong: I’m not equating the morality of the IDF to that of Hamas. The goal of Hamas is to murder innocent people; the goal of the IDF is to avoid murdering innocent people. But when the IDF fails to achieve its goal, and ends up inflicting needless destruction and suffering, it sullies not only its own name, but the name of the Jewish state. It risks making a just cause — Jewish nationhood — seem unjust, and it ultimately endangers what it is supposed to protect.

  51. Ray in Seattle says:

    @Paul: Goldberg says, “But when the IDF fails to achieve its goal, and ends up inflicting needless destruction and suffering, it sullies not only its own name, but the name of the Jewish state. It risks making a just cause — Jewish nationhood — seem unjust, and it ultimately endangers what it is supposed to protect.”

    Did the IDF fail to achieve that goal, Paul? Or is Goldberg spreading his own unfounded beliefs? Of the thousands of IDF soldiers who had to walk through Gaza under threat of attack, of losing their lives to prevent rockets from raining down on Israel, how many incidents of “needless destruction” did they inflict? Is writing graffiti considered needless destruction? Spitting on pictures? Was this widespread and rampant? Or, was it a few incidents eagerly trumpeted by the media – that Goldberg agrees has it in for Israel and its IDF. How many women did the IDF actually shoot (as in murder as the article implies) Paul?

    On any reasonable scale of conduct considering all such possible acts of disrespect against enemy civilians in war, I think you and Jeff would be at a loss to show that Israel is less than exemplary compared to the militaries of all other Western democracies including the USA. Of course, neither of you will attempt such a real comparison. Why risk exposing your anti-Israel bias when you can just pretend in your articles that you already know the answer?

    It is people like Goldberg and you who don’t like Israel very much and who stack the deck against it. And it is you who suggest that Israel’s reputation is sullied and Israel’s nationhood seems unjust – because it is you who believe that to be true. And so you pretend to be worried about Israel’s reputation while you write articles that crap all over it – or passionately quote them on blogs.

    Israel’s nationhood seem unjust to you, doesn’t it Paul? Wasn’t it you who just said “As it happens, I think 1947 may have worked out: as it is I doubt Israel can survive.”

  52. Ray in Seattle says:

    BTW Paul – Need I point out that the article in Haaretz that Goldberg wrote that you quoted was published March 19, 2009 – shortly after Cast Lead ended.

    How is it that you didn’t mention that Israel conducted a full investigation of the incidents cited shortly after the article was published and found that the testimony of these cadets an soldiers was largely discredited as incidents that they heard about – not incidents they witnessed.

    Is this how you compile accusations against Israel that a few minutes with Google would reveal as groundless. Is that how historians conduct research these days?

    This CAMERA article has a complete report on the follow-up to the incidents mentions by Goldberg:

    http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=4&x_outlet=12&x_article=1647

    Two central incidents that came up in the testimony, which Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-military academy presented to Chief of Staff Gaby Ashkenazi, focus on one infantry brigade. The brigade’s commander today will present to Brigadier General Eyal Eisenberg, commander of the Gaza division, the findings of his personal investigation about the matter which he undertook in the last few days, and after approval, he will present his findings to the head of the Southern Command, Major General Yoav Gallant.

    Regarding the incident in which it was claimed that a sniper fired at a Palestinian woman and her two daughters, the brigade commander’s investigation cites the sniper: “I saw the woman and her daughters and I shot warning shots. The section commander came up to the roof and shouted at me, ‘Why did you shoot at them?’ I explained that I did not shoot at them, but I fired warning shots.”

    Officers from the brigade surmise that fighters that stayed in the bottom floor of the Palestinian house thought that he hit them, and from here the rumor that a sniper killed a mother and her two daughters spread.

    The other alleged incident, the killing by a sniper of an elderly woman, also seems not to have taken place:

    Regarding the second incident, in which it was claimed that soldiers went up to the roof to entertain themselves with firing and killed an elderly Palestinian woman, the brigade commander investigation found that there was no such incident.

    I challenge you to either refute the main elements of this report or retract your accusations.

  53. Lianne says:

    There’s also Danny’s Zamir’s own comments on the international media’s feeding frenzy.
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1238562926523&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
    Self-criticism is important, and rumours need to be checked, but they shouldn’t be mistaken for fact.

  54. E.G. says:

    I never expected a self-respecting history Professor, especially one apparently specialized in Medieval history, to base his judgement on a single piece of “evidence”, in particular one reporting a rumour.

    Such an attitude is analogous to this one:
    To support his argument that there’s no peace partner in Israel, Abbas shows visitors a copy of an article written by journalist Gideon Levy in Haaretz, entitled: “Netanyahu should admit Israel doesn’t want peace.”
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1261364499203&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

  55. E.G. says:

    BTW, in case his professorship has not had the curiosity to get an update as of yet: the case was nothing but hearsay.

    Like the rumour of Orléans. And the many others that were used as pretexts to massacre Jews. Like the Kishinev Pogrom. Go tell the people of the Capital of Moldavia that a hundred years ago it was a Shtetl. You’ll be lucky to get with only a spit in your face from these Cossack descendants.

  56. Richard Landes says:

    sorry, i’m a little slow on the uptake. travel day. response to PH:

    The Times reported that the Israeli government believes it must spend more money on “hasbara,” a Hebrew word that falls somewhere between propaganda and information.

    actually the word falls somewhere between explain and clarify, which your misconceptions make it clear is a very impt activity to engage in.

    as in, explain to people that palestinians are engaged in a war against israel in which the media is a major theater of war, and in which they do not hesitate to lie, stage, and manipulate the news which western journalists, out of a combination of intimidation, advocacy for underdogs, and political correctness, basically ratify and propagate around the world.

    as in clarify that when you get information from a highly self-critical culture you don’t treat it the same way you treat information from a culture that refuses any self-criticism and is addicted to demonizing. as a medieval historian who knows something of interpreting the kind of info we get from homophobe, anti-semitic, misogynists like so many catholic theologians and historians, surely you know something about approaching such sources with a modicum of suspicion. whence, paul, your astonishing credulity?

    or is it that if a jew is foolish enough to buy it, that relieves you of your responsibility to be critical?

    It is true that the world media, generally speaking, doesn’t like Israel very much, and stacks the deck against it, but good hasbara starts with not allowing soldiers to vandalize Palestinian homes and shoot Palestinian women.

    please paul, one concrete example with real evidence of an innocent woman shot deliberately. (i think earlier commenters today have noted the shaky sources you’re depending on.) you would never do medieval history this way. so let me respond to you and to Jeffrey, who’s just a journalist, so what can we expect in the way of hermeneutic sophistication from him? (ps, in medieval terms, ha-aretz is primarily a newspaper of converts [to secular post-zionism] who have it in for their former co-religionists; not all as bad as pablo christiano, but the same psychological dynamic.)

    Public relations isn’t a morally relevant category, in any case: The crucial question is, how should a civilized country behave when confronting barbarism? With barbarism? Or with respect for innocent life?

    i challenge you to find any army that has expended more energy and manpower, and endangered its soldiers and civilians more to protect the lives of their enemies’ civilians, and an enemy that has put more energy and manpower into targeting both their enemy’s civilians and their own in order to make propaganda points. what you don’t seem to understand Paul, is that the MSNM doesn’t just “stack the deck,” it doesn’t just exaggerate, it inverts (as in the “Jenin Massacre”), so that cases of exceptional care and self-sacrifice get rewritten as bloody slaughter.

    Pardon me for saying so, but the Jewish people didn’t struggle for national equality, justice and freedom so that some of its sons could behave like Cossacks.

    so Goldberg is a perfect dupe of palestinian propaganda recycled by the media (including the israeli media). in this case of these soldiers, we’re dealing with hearsay, recycled by jewish soldiers with highly elevated super-egos, who scruple at the kind of deeds (which they didn’t commit, they just “heard about”) that most soldiers would not lose sleep over.

    Please don’t get me wrong: I’m not equating the morality of the IDF to that of Hamas. The goal of Hamas is to murder innocent people; the goal of the IDF is to avoid murdering innocent people. But when the IDF fails to achieve its goal, and ends up inflicting needless destruction and suffering, it sullies not only its own name, but the name of the Jewish state. It risks making a just cause — Jewish nationhood — seem unjust, and it ultimately endangers what it is supposed to protect.

    just the kind of moral cringing that invites aggression not only from palestinians but from malevolent westerners looking for an excuse to scarf down some more moral Schadenfreude. not only did the Israelis achieve their goal — the bombing has largely stopped — but they did it with a minimum of suffering given a) the way hamas embedded itself in their own population, b) the high probability that the civilian casualty rates were one to three combatants rather than, as claimed and repeated by the BBC even today, three to one, and c) in comparison with, eg., how sri lanka handled the same problem of terrorists embedding in their own civilian population (20,000 dead). i don’t hear anyone calling into question sri lankan nationhood, nor calling for attention to the genuinely besieged Sri Lankans still languishing in concentration camps.

    the only country to be called into question is the one with the highest moral standards and “supporters” who can’t help themselves from airing their every scruple in public.

    i’d expect a lot more epistemological sophistication from you paul than recycling this stuff.

    r

  57. E.G. says:

    Paul Halsall,

    It’s totally futile to spend an Agora (which, as you surely know, is the smallest Israeli currency unit) on explanation (that’s Hasbara) for statistically challenged people of your kind. That is, people who reason, at best, like 12th century Norwich populace.

    What point is there in explaining to people like you, who hastily cry “disproportionate!”, that the rate of friend/foe (type I/type II) errors in the IDF is the lowest in the world? You’d always – in that atavistic medieval bad faith – look for the exception to the rule and decry that unfortunate woman who only seemed to wear an explosive belt or hold a grenade in her hand who, despite warnings, continued to advance much too close to harming range. Never paying attention to her many sisters who benefited from IDF protection, Israeli healthcare, Israeli know-how. Ever heard of the Gaza mothers who came under Gazan rockets at the Ashkelon hospital and specifically the maternity ward?

    What did you do on stat 101, sleep? sneak? cheat?

  58. boutique islamique…

    The case was taken to a court in Dubai where the Arab ambassador attempted to re- coup the costs spent on presents for the bride including jewellery, and clothes, and also the cost of the wedding reception which was estimated to be 100,000….

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