Gleanings, 05.04.11

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

David Thompson: There’s No Such Thing as Intelligence?

One feature of academia’s less reputable quarters is the imperative to shun the obvious and prosaic, even when the obvious and prosaic happen to be true. As Theodore Dalrymple noted in his review of Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society,

Intellectuals, like everyone else, live and work in a marketplace. In order to get noticed they must say things which have not been said before, or at least say them in a different manner. No one is likely to obtain many plaudits for the rather obvious, indeed self-evident, thought that a street robber cannot commit street robberies while he is in prison. But an intellectual who first demonstrates that the cause of an increase in street robbery is the increase in the amount of property that law-abiding pedestrians have on them as they walk in the streets is likely to be hailed, at least until the next idea comes along. Thus, while there are no penalties for being foolish, there are severe penalties (at least in career terms) for being obvious.

… It was perhaps inevitable that this contrarianism should dovetail with the left’s rather awkward relationship with intelligence and its unequal distribution – a subject that, for some, is likely to cause unease in ways that the unequal distribution of musical or athletic talent does not. Readers may recall Lani Guinier, a tenured professor at Harvard Law School and advocate of “critical thinking,” whose egalitarian preferences led her to insist that standardized testing is “racist” because “talent is equally distributed among all people.” This equal distribution is simply taken as a given and anything that calls that premise into question is, by her definition, racist.

Moshe Dann: Enough Already: Are Israeli Settlements Actually ‘Illegal’?

Despite all the legally binding treaties, covenants, and agreements that established the Palestine Mandate in 1922 and empowered its British administration to ensure that this area would become “the Jewish National Home,” it’s strange that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) are condemned as “illegitimate,” “illegal,” and “violations of international law.” How did this happen? …

The core legal issue, according to Michael Newton — professor of law at Vanderbilt University and a leading expert in the field — is which nation-state had full sovereignty in this territory when Israel took military and political control. Logically, since Jordan renounced its claim to Judea and Samaria in 1988, and signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, recognizing its current border, the only other possible valid legal claim, defined in the Mandate, is that of Israel; Palestinians have no claim because the area was never a Palestinian state.

According to Professor Newton, “Occupation itself does not change sovereignty, but temporarily displaces it until full sovereignty is either restored or reasserted.”  By extension, Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is legal and legitimate because it did not acquire territory belonging to another state or legal entity.

Stanley Kurtz: Samantha Power’s Power

A member of the president’s National Security Council who shares Noam Chomsky’s foreign-policy goals? An influential presidential adviser whom 1960s revolutionary Tom Hayden treats as a fellow radical? A White House official who wrote a book aiming to turn an anti-American, anti-Israel, Marxist-inspired, world-government-loving United Nations bureaucrat into a popular hero? Samantha Power, senior director of multilateral affairs for the National Security Council and perhaps the principal architect of our current intervention in Libya, is all of these things … Superficially, Power’s chief concern is to put a stop to genocide and “crimes against humanity.” More deeply, her goal is to use our shared horror at the worst that human beings can do in order to institute an ever-broadening regime of redistributive transnational governance … Beyond that, Power embodies a style of pragmatic radicalism that Obama shares. Both Obama and Power are skilled at placing their ultimate ideological goals just out of sight, behind a screen of practical problem-solving.

John Hannah: End of the Dream: Obama and the Middle East

The unhappy results? A pervasive — and corrosive — sense of waning American power. Adversaries emboldened to continue pressing every challenge. Disheartened friends resorting both at home and abroad to short-sighted measures of self-help and self-preservation. And a vital region of the world increasingly brought near the boiling point, poised between revolution, chaos, and civil war; teetering between the malignant ambitions of an aspiring Persian hegemon and the withering resolve of a traditional patron grown uncertain in the rightness of its cause and weary of shouldering the burdens of leadership … Multiple muses seemed responsible for the badly misguided framework that the president brought to office. A worldview heavily shaped by the leftist, anti-Western claptrap that pervades much of what passes for Middle East studies in the American academy. An obsession with distinguishing himself from everything Bush. And a remarkably naive conviction that simply by showing up on the world stage, Obama — by virtue of biography, personality, and charisma — could somehow transcend the immutable laws of an international system dominated by self-interested nation states, several of which happen to be ruled by tyrannical regimes that perceive their very survival as inextricably linked to the humbling of American power, influence, and prestige. The “Obama Factor,” like so much else in the president’s Middle East policy, did not survive first contact with the enemy.

Marty Peretz: Richard Goldstone Recants a Blood Libel

There should be many shamed faces in the crowd. The foreign high priest of the Palestinian cause is Desmond Tutu who, like his rival Jimmy Carter, finds no charge against Israel too preposterous to leave to, well, the gagasphere. But they have neither been heard from on Goldstone nor explained their silence. The Financial Times, which is the most consistent and hyperbolic critic of Israel in the United Kingdom, initially went bananas in praise of the Goldstone Report. It has not been heard from since the jurist’s own mea culpa. The human rights organizations? Ditto. Stephen Walt, Juan Cole, John Esposito, Naomi Klein, Michael Lerner, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, J-Street, which peddled the report door-to-door on Capitol Hill. Here’s my projection: Not a one of them will come clean.

As is the case with the Israeli “peace left.” Not Peace Now, not the New Israel Fund, not B’tselem, not Agudah Lezchuyot Haezrch. And not Ha’aretz, either. They have made pacts with the devil.

John Rosenthal: Libyan Rebel Commander: ‘Cut Gaddafi’s Throat, Then Establish an Islamic State’

While American intelligence experts search for “flickers” of jihadist involvement in the Libyan rebellion, a French reporter on a brief visit to eastern Libya had no problem finding numerous jihadists on the front.

Peter Berkowitz: The Goldstone Mess

Contrary to Tutu, however, even a cursory glance gives reason to believe that the Goldstone Report is more interested in taking sides than discovering the truth. While no side escapes the report’s censure and it does abound in evidence of destruction “of life and property” in Gaza, the report overwhelmingly focuses on allegations of Israeli unlawfulness; the “documented evidence of Israeli misconduct” — as opposed to victims’ testimony and unsubstantiated speculations about Israeli war aims and conduct of the war — is thin; and its urging of Hamas, which respects neither rights nor the rule of law, to undertake investigations of war crimes allegations is a risible indulgence.

13 Responses to Gleanings, 05.04.11

  1. [...] as Intelligence? One feature of academia’s less reputable quarters is the imperative to … Continue reading → /* Source: Israel BlogsPublished: 6 April 2011Site: http://www.theaugeanstables.comSource by Date: [...]

  2. Rich Rostrom says:

    “Despite all the legally binding treaties, covenants, and agreements that established the Palestine Mandate in 1922…” Legally binding on whom? On people who never consented to it, neither by plebiscite nor by representative?

    ” the only other possible valid legal claim, defined in the Mandate, is that of Israel”

    If Israel is the only state that can claim sovereignty over the West Bank, then the West Bank is part of Israel, and Israelis have the right to live in any part of it. And all the people living there are Israelis, and have the right to live in any part of Israel. Correct?

    Israel wants to have it both ways: to wield sovereign authority in the West Bank but not fulfill sovereign obligations there. Until that contradiction is resolved, Israeli actions in the West Bank (other than actions clearly allowed to an occupying military power) have no legal basis.

    • E.G. says:

      If Israel wanted to exert all her rights in all the territories conquered, she would have done so. As it stands, she exerts more obligations (especially in Judea-Samaria) than rights.

  3. E.G. says:

    A “surprising” insight:
    Israel’s left needs to wise up to Middle East reality
    How would the left have reacted had Juliano Mer-Khamis been murdered by Jews?
    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/israel-s-left-needs-to-wise-up-to-middle-east-reality-1.354548

    I don’t know to which of the 2 or 3 eulogies that appeared in Haaretz (others appeared in other news outlets) Shavit refers, but Amira Hate’s one is a manifesto.

    • oao says:

      Well, you know, no matter how detached from reality you are, if you have half a brain, she is bound to impinge on you, no matter how hard you try to avoid it.

      We’ll see for how long it will hold.

      • E.G. says:

        You have to read that AH piece to get the best idea of what she stands/writes for: permanent struggle. And nothing else.

        • oao says:

          I was referring to Shavit.

          I don’t have to read her again to figure out what she’s all about. These people need some cause for personal reasons–they lack self-esteem otherwise– and attention. Permanent struggle provides both.

  4. oao says:

    “Despite all the legally binding treaties, covenants, and agreements that established the Palestine Mandate in 1922…” Legally binding on whom? On people who never consented to it, neither by plebiscite nor by representative?

    So if the Mandate was not legally binding, Israel could have done whatever it wanted, create itself without reliance on any law.

    Israel wants to have it both ways: to wield sovereign authority in the West Bank but not fulfill sovereign obligations there. Until that contradiction is resolved, Israeli actions in the West Bank (other than actions clearly allowed to an occupying military power) have no legal basis.

    No, Israel won that area in a defensive war. It can, therefore, do whatever it wants with it, including annexation and even having it both ways as you put it. However, it is not in its interest to annex all of it. It therefore prefers to negotiate an agreement with the Palestinians (which have never been a nation or country) whereby it will annex only part of the area.

    Until that contradiction is resolved, Israeli actions in the West Bank (other than actions clearly allowed to an occupying military power) have no legal basis.

    Israel is not an occuppying power because that area did not belong to any existing nation and was obtained in a defensive war. The area is hers legally rgardless of what laws she applies or does not apply to whatever parts of it.

    And I would put it to you that it does fulfill its obligations more than anybody, including the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, who are true occupying powers.

    • Cynic says:

      You should remind him that it’s not just the Mandate but also the decisions of the International powers at the time from the League of Nations through the San Remo conference and Sevres to the UNSC Res 242 that defined the constraints which Ban Ki-moon, Europe and Alibama seem determined to renege on.

      • oao says:

        Sure, but his comment implies that he would not consider them binding either.

        And taken to its logical conclusion, his position means that the UNSC or UNGA recognition is not necessary for the Pals (or anybody else) to declare their state and that nothing the UN decides is biding on Israel either.

        I’ve posted a piece by Yoel Meltzer on my blog in which he correctly argues that the UN was created to prevent wars and, by declaring a Pal state will actually trigger one. But hey, it’s nothing different that UNCHR being headed by Libya, Iran heading some panel on women’s rights and an apartheid judge being a human rights somity.

  5. E.G. says:

    Nick Cohen: They missed the story

    The BBC’s Middle East editor is not the only expert whose expertise now looks spurious. The Arab uprising is annihilating the assumptions of foreign ministries, academia and human-rights groups with true revolutionary élan.

    In journalistic language, it is showing they had committed the greatest blunder a reporter can commit: They missed the story. They thought the problems of the Middle East were at root the fault of democratic Israel, or more broadly the democratic West. They did not see, and did not want to see, that while Israelis are certainly the Palestinians’ problem – and vice versa – the problem of the Arab world was the tyranny, cruelty, corruption and inequality Arab dictators enforced.

    PUT STARKLY, it sounds as if the charges of double standards and anti-Semitism habitually directed at liberal Westerners are justified. But liberal prejudice – “antiliberal prejudice” is a more accurate description – is a process as well as an ideology.

    http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=215454

  6. oao says:

    In journalistic language, it is showing they had committed the greatest blunder a reporter can commit: They missed the story. They thought the problems of the Middle East were at root the fault of democratic Israel, or more broadly the democratic West. They did not see, and did not want to see, that while Israelis are certainly the Palestinians’ problem – and vice versa – the problem of the Arab world was the tyranny, cruelty, corruption and inequality Arab dictators enforced.

    That’s how they SHOULD interpret it. But they won’t. They will and already did find ways to continue to make Israel and the conflict THE problem.

    And, as it is already visible and was predictable, the new overnight democrats that seek power still use Israel and the conflict to promote themselves–that’s the surest and easiest way to gain popularity. This will be used to rationalize their argument, rather than accept it as a blunder.

    • Cynic says:

      Because the agenda is to get rid of “that sh**ty little country”.
      It must be plain by now that the façade of caring for the Palestinians is faded and shredded when the lack of attention the Palestinian suffering in Arab countries receives, Lebanon for example, starts oozing through.

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