Monthly Archives: January 2011

John Vause on the Al Jazeera Leaks (with help from Akiva Eldar)

This just up at the Second Draft. Viewing and comments welcome.

NCNN does the Palestinian Leaks 26.01.11

John Vause covers the Al Jazeera PP Leaks from Atlanta. He focuses on the issue of the “right of return” of the Palestinian refugees, numbering some 5 million. He skypes Akiva Eldar to get the Israeli reaction to the document leaks.  This piece has so many things wrong with it, it could be entitled “TV Journalism 101: How not to do it.” Or, “How many mistakes can you find in this one piece of under seven minutes?” Or, “How does our news media manage to be so smart and competent and still get it upside down?” I plan a piece for the VEA on that last theme, dissecting this “story” which I consider emblematic (a thick description) of the Augean Stables. I welcome comment here. Links to good articles very welcome.

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Prometheus Unbound: Astounding… Awesome

H/T: Mark Sherman via Derek Thompson at the Atlantic Monthly

Shanghai 1990-2010

In my book (whose copy-edited version I just sent back to the publishers after two months constant work – and hence neglect of my blog), I analyze an oft-repeated claim by Lenin in the aftermath of his treaty with the Germans in 1918 that Russia was only months away from a complete reorganization and economic power. While some dismissed this claim as a rationalization of the dubious treaty, Trotsky insisted that Lenin meant it.

The reorganization of Russia on the basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the nationalization of the banks and large-scale industry, coupled with exchange of products in kind between the towns and the small-peasant consumers’ societies, is quite feasible economically, provided we are assured a few months in which to work in peace. And such a reorganization will render socialism invincible both in Russia and all over the world, and at the same time will create a solid economic basis for a mighty workers’ and peasants’ Red Army.

I use this passage to describe the warped sense that invades people who have entered “apocalyptic time” in which the body social appears to be infinitely and rapidly protein. (It contributes mightily to the development of totalitarianism, which I define as the effort of apocalyptic believers who, having taken power and becoming impatient with the dismal failure of the millennium to materialize, chose to carve out the perfect society on the body social.)

What the two pictures above illustrate are the marvels of modern technology and the stunning dynamism of Chinese society (economy, technology, planning), and a realistic acceleration of time that, were it not empirically true, would be close to unbelievable. Prometheus unbound, turn of the third millennium.

My Mistake, Jeffrey Goldberg’s too

I just posted a piece that was co-authored with Elisa Vandernoot, who offered to help me with my blog while I am distracted working on my book on millennialism. I did not proof-read carefully enough and published a comment that I would neither have written nor should I have allowed it to get published under my name. My apologies to anyone I offended.

Jeffrey Goldberg, whose name appears in a list of “self-hating Jews” has responded with vehemence. I respond below:

From Richard Landes, in reference to criticism of the Netanyahu government’s settlement policy from, among others, yours truly:

Alas, the majority of liberal Jewish journalists and writers like Thomas Friedman, David Remnick and Jeffrey Goldberg  don’t have the fortitude, conviction and integrity of their elders. Instead of having independent minds, they have shown themselves to be self-hating.

Actually, that’s not in the context of criticism of Netanyahu’s government settlement policy; it’s in the context of using the settlement policy to blame Israel for the breakdown of the talks. You can be as critical as you want of the settlement policy; I have no problem with that. Indeed much of the criticism makes sense.

But to take the step of blaming it for the failure of the peace process when there are so many far greater obstacles coming from the Palestinian side… that strikes me as both intellectually dishonest, and excessively self-critical, bordering on what I call masochistic omnipotence syndrome. Any serious student of the Arab-Israeli conflict who thinks that the settlements are the main block to a resolution, and that if Israel stopped settlements, indeed uprooted all the settlements including East Jerusalem, that would make the Palestinians eager partners in peace, rather than still more intransigent and eager for war strikes me as self-deluding.

This is sickening rhetoric. People like Landes — who conflate support for Israel with support for settlements — are creating conditions that will ultimately lead to Israel’s disappearance.

Remnick joins the ASHamed Jews

This post is a joint effort by RL and Elisa Vandernoot.

‘So how can they be ashamed? How can you be ashamed  of a country that’s not yours?’ Treslove  was truly puzzled.

‘It’s because they’re Jewish.’

‘But you said they’re not ashamed of being Jewish.’

‘Exactly. But they’re ashamed as Jews.’

‘Ashamed as Jews of a country of which they are not citizens…?’

Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question

Last week Ron Radosh wrote an excellent piece entitled: David Remnick Joins the Israeli Haters and the Leftist British Intellectuals . Radosh laments the great writers, the   ‘New York Intellectuals’ of the 1940s and 1950s; writers such as Irving Howe, Irving Kritsol, Mary McCarthy, Lionel Trilling and others. These men and women were giants in their day.

Today, what passes for ‘New York Intellectuals’ are writers paid very well associated with big name publications such as the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books.

Both publications pay their writers well, and their editors and writers on the staff get high salaries, many perks, and have great influence on the culture at large. Both of them, although the NYRB is more similar in its leftism to The Nation, while The New Yorker makes a pretense of being more independent and gives off a pretentious air of would-be objectivity and nuance, runs pieces by people like the discredited Seymour Hersh with regularity, and is outspoken as the single most pro-Obama magazine in existence.

He criticises current editor David Remnick who is both a journalist and writer and the latest, amongst ‘liberal’ thinking Jews to join the fashionable Israeli haters of British Intellectuals. Remnick recently gave an interview to the Hebrew daily Yediot Ahronot about his forthcoming book on Obama and decided to take a nasty swipe at Israeli policy in the process:

A new generation of Jews is growing up in the US. Their relationship with Israel is becoming less patient and more problematic…How long can you expect that they’ll love unconditionally the place called Israel [sic]? You’ve got a problem. You have the status of an occupier since 1967. It’s been happening for so long that even people like me, who understand  that not only one side is responsible for the conflict and that the Palestinians missed an historic opportunity for peace in 2000, can’t take it anymore.