Poisoning the Western Public Sphere: The Roths on the Tamimis and the NYT that Romanticizes Them

When I saw the cover story on the NYT Magazine yesterday, my stomach sank. It didn’t take more than a few moments to know what kind of a fluff piece for the Palestinians and hit-job against the Israelis it would be… part of a systematic campaign against Israel that the NYT is engaged in, documented by CAMERA, illustrated only recently by a cruel piece by Joseph Levine (soon to be fisked here), and again today with a piece by Jodi Rudoren predicated on the principle that the Palestinians should and must have a piece of Jerusalem for their own, and therefore anything the Jews do to jeopardize that outcome is hostile to peace.

Fortunately someone – a man I greatly admire for his work on these painful issues – Arnold Roth and his wife Frimet, took up the cudgels and critiqued yet another example of the sickness of self-loathing and the romanticization of hatred that so characterizes the NYT coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Please read it all.

17-Mar-13: A little village in the hills, and the monsters it spawns

If you want to affect how people think about an issue, putting your case onto the cover of the New York Times Magazine must be one of the most effective things you can do. And, given the intense competition, one of the hardest.

So if the editors of the NYT (108 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other news organization; 30 million unique visitors per month to its website; the largest local metropolitan newspaper in the United States – according to Wikipedia) give you the cover of the prestigious Magazine, it’s a massive vote of confidence, a huge privilege, a platform of the most effective kind that (probably) can’t be bought for money.
Friends have pointed us to this week’s NYT Magazine cover story, published today. It’s devoted to a Palestinian Arab village set in the hills a few kilometers north of where we live in Jerusalem. It’s a place the author calls “spirited”, where “on warm summer evenings, life… could feel almost idyllic. Everyone knows everyone.” He says “a pilgrimage”to this magical place “has achieved a measure of cachet among young European activists, the way a stint with the Zapatistas did in Mexico in the 1990s”.
Read the rest.

13 Responses to Poisoning the Western Public Sphere: The Roths on the Tamimis and the NYT that Romanticizes Them

  1. w.w.wygart says:

    ” a platform of the most effective kind that (probably) can’t be bought for money.”

    Probably true and the editors of the NYT seem to be willing to maintain their editorial POV clear to bankruptcy.


  2. w.w.wygart says:

    Levine and Rudoren make quite a pair, the duplicity [in the more archaic sense of ‘doubleness’] is astonishing.

    On the one hand Levine seems to argue that Israel as a “Jewish” state is inherently anti-democratic – and thus maybe not legitimate in some sense of the word – because it necessarily violates Israeli non-Jews [meaning Palestinian] rights as “peoples” and citizens. Thus Levine seems to argue strongly against the legitimacy of the concept of an Israeli ethnic/religious state – fine, if you want to return to first principles – but when he makes statements like:

    My view is that one really ought to question Israel’s right to exist and that doing so does not manifest anti-Semitism.

    and then fails to even hint that this intellectual approach should be applied to all sides equally, or explain why it should not, it strikes me as particularly disingenuous.

    Levine labors his point entirely within an intellectual vacuum without the slightest attempt to cast his argument into a wider perspective, for instance the points he is making about Israel could also be applied to the states surrounding Israel or almost any other heterogeneous society for that matter. If you take Levine’s thesis to its logical conclusion it would require that you question a great many other states’ right to exist. Keeping ‘on topic’ – fine – but it is noticeable when you carry on this way, it may lead one to wonder whether you are engaging in a fallacy of exclusion of some sort.

    There is also a point to be made about Levine’s thesis, maybe I will elaborate later, that in a larger ‘international’ context “Palestinians” [meaning Arabs] trade places with ‘Jews’ as minority in the [not so] civil society of nations, where in the [so called] United Nations, Israel is out voted, what is it?, twenty two to one by Arab League states? Thought of this way Israel and its Jews [as well as its non-Jews] suddenly become a minority that that is in some real danger of being voted out of existence by its Arab enemy neighbors and their allies.

    Some Jews just don’t seem to get it. Less has changed internationally since the Shoah, or even 1948, than one might hope – if you happen to be Jewish.

    There is the internal Israeli issue of how secular vs how religious its government should be, which isn’t particularly anyone’s business outside of Israel – unless you happen to count Israel’s Arab population as being more rightly ‘owned’ by Arab people’s outside of Israel – and the international issue of Israel’s right to exist as a political entity. Nobody is arguing the right of any of the Arab League states’ right to exist as states because they are officially Muslim states – nobody that I have ever heard of anyway. Why is it that Levine seems to conflate the two issues, the internal and the international, with Israel and no one else?

    Well, if what’s good for the goose…

    On the other hand Rudoren argues the exact opposite tact on the issue of “Arab” East Jerusalem:

    Maalot David is not a typical Israeli settlement, a planned community in the hills, surrounded by gates and guards, where Jews live separate and apart from nearby Palestinian villages. It is a new apartment block sandwiched into the very fabric of Arab East Jerusalem, a construction many say fundamentally undermines the idea that the area could ever serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.

    For Rudoren, apparently, it is a “people’s” [Palestinian people’s] necessity to maintain a complete hegemony over their ethnic minorities [or have them evicted completely?] in order to have a the ethnic/religious state of their dreams.

    Can’t wait to read these two properly “fisked”, or as I would say, “Fiskared” [as in scissors].


    P.S. – If you are going to for the sake of argument grant a point as Levine did, that Jews do actually constitute a people, then come back to that point two or three more times in passing you do so at grave risk of seeming disingenuous – like you really didn’t mean it the first time you said it.

    P.P.S – What I find particularly odious about Rudoren on the other hand is the polarity in the language she uses between the Jews moving into or ‘settling’ in “Arab” East Jerusalem. One the one hand there are the sort of Jews “many of them ultra-Orthodox extremists” who, “…seize individual homes and raise Israeli flags on them,” and lead “…efforts to establish Jewish beachheads in the area.” both very militaristic terms. And, on the other hand there are the kind of Jews: “where a few Jewish families have quietly taken up residence”; or have “…apartments tucked into existing Palestinian neighborhoods”; or where “…a few Jewish families have quietly taken up residence in newly renovated apartments with prime views of Jerusalem’s Old City”. It seems that to Ms. Rudoren that Jews living as ‘dhimmi’ in Jerusalem is peaceful, and Jews not living as ‘dhimmi’ is waging war against the Palestinians. Uck!

  3. akmofo says:

    Seems to me what we have here with Joseph Levine is yet another self- created echo chamber. Another self- created holographic sonographic Jew baiting troll by professional Jew baiter trolls to keep this idiotic plot going for yet another round of wars and weapons sales, another round of headline “news” for newspaper radio and TV ad sales, another round of diversions from what matters, another round of eugenic “Darwinstic” genicidal population control, another round of central bank government mafia fascist/ commie centralization, another round of divide & conquer machination, another round of Vatican/ CIA propaganda. In other words, the same broken record of the last 100 years.

  4. dcdoc says:

    To properly “appreciate” that Ehreneich cover story that the NYT published this past Sunday and the NYT’s choice of Ehrenreich to report it, one should read the Ehrenreich piece that the LA Times published in 2009. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-ehrenreich15-2009mar15,0,6684861.story In that one, Ehrenreich, who intimates that he is fractionally a Jew himself (Marxist Jewish paternal grandparents who “tended to see Zionism, and all nationalisms, as a distraction from the more essential struggle between classes”), and thus can write “as a Jew” (AAJ), denies Israel’s legitimacy as a sovereignty recognized as such by the UN for more than 60 years at that point.

    Quite remarkable a choice by the NYT, no? How much different would it be if the NYT Sunday cover story were to be a piece about African-American issues today written by Pat Buchanan, who writes well and has much to say about those issues?

    • w.w.wygart says:

      DcDoc’s 2009 Ehreneich piece was a fascinating read, it comes across as positively even handed in comparison to Levine, he only maintained the “intellectual vacuum” for the first eight paragraphs of the article.

      I find it endlessly fascinating [and several other emotions] that ‘anti-zionist’ ‘as-a-Jews’ seem to feel that the only way to maintain their intellectual position is to completely ignore the other half of the issue, namely the Palestinians, their territorial/political claims, rhetoric, and behavior. Once they admit that there is more than one side to the story then their arguments start to come apart. Eventually Ehreneich admitted:

      The obstacles are, of course, enormous. They include not just a powerful Israeli attachment to the idea of an exclusively Jewish state, but its Palestinian analogue: Hamas’ ideal of Islamic rule. Both sides would have to find assurance that their security was guaranteed.

      Does anything else really need to be written after this? Probably not except that Ehreneich immediately descends into a fallacy of wishful thinking:

      What precise shape such a state would take… …would involve years of painful negotiation, *wiser leaders than now exist and an uncompromising commitment from the rest of the world*, particularly from the United States.

      Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the subject of wishful thinking:

      In addition to being a cognitive bias and a poor way of making decisions, wishful thinking is commonly held to be a specific informal fallacy in an argument when it is assumed that because we wish something to be true or false, it is actually true or false. This fallacy has the form “I wish that P is true/false, therefore P is true/false.” Wishful thinking, if this were true, would rely upon appeals to emotion, and would also be a red herring.

      Wishful thinking may cause blindness to unintended consequences.

      Well maybe someday after “years of painful negotiation” “wiser leaders than now exist” will come up with a solution that requires Israelis and Arabs to act equally in creating a peaceful solution.


  5. My response to Obama’s speech (after minute 24, in took Kramer’s suggestion. Italics are Obama’s gems:

    For young Israelis, I know that these issues of security are rooted in an experience that is even more fundamental than the pressing threat of the day. You live in a neighborhood where many of your neighbors have rejected your right to exist. Your grandparents had to risk their lives and all they had to make a place for themselves in this world. Your parents lived through war after war to ensure the survival of the Jewish state. Your children grow up knowing that people they have never met hate them because of who they are, in a region that is changing underneath your feet. So that is what I think about when Israel is faced with these challenges – that sense of an Israel that is surrounded by many in this region who reject it, and many in the world who refuse to accept it. That is why the security of the Jewish people in Israel is so important – because it can never be taken for granted. But make no mistake: those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist might as well reject the earth beneath them and the sky above, because Israel is not going anywhere. Today, I want to tell you – particularly the young people – that so long as there is a United States of America, Ah-tem lo lah-vahd.

    Not if Iran is allowed to get the bomb, then it won’t be certain that “Israel isn’t going anywhere”.

    But let us rejoice, Obama has given his word that he will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons – his word should count for something.

    The question, then, is what kind of future Israel will look forward to. And that brings me to the subject of peace.
    I know Israel has taken risks for peace. Brave leaders – Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin –reached treaties with two of your neighbors. You made credible proposals to the Palestinians at Annapolis. You withdrew from Gaza and Lebanon, and then faced terror and rockets. Across the region, you have extended a hand of friendship, and too often have been confronted with the ugly reality of anti-Semitism. So I believe that the Israeli people do want peace, and you have every right to be skeptical that it can be achieved.

    Who in her right mind wouldn’t be skeptical? When after all those Israeli concessions that were met with hostility (not even indifference) it has become abundantly clear that the Palestinians are not interested in peace, but in bringing down Israel so as to assuage their hurt pride from having been defeated from the very people that they viewed as inferiors – the Jews?

    But today, Israel is at a crossroads. It can be tempting to put aside the frustrations and sacrifices that come with the pursuit of peace – particularly when an Iron Dome repels rockets, barriers keep out suicide bombers, and so many other pressing issues demand your attention. And I know that only Israelis can make the fundamental decisions about your country’s future.

    The Israelis tried the sacrifice avenue during Oslo. It didn’t work, rockets keep on falling, actually the number of rockets against Israeli civilians increased after the Gaza disengagement, so the President’s presenting Israelis as complacent with regards to the peace process, as somehow contented with the status-quo, is a gross misrepresentation of the Israeli attitude.

    But, thank God, Obama recognizes the Israelis’ right to decide for themselves the future of their country.

    I also know that not everyone in this hall will agree with what I have to say about peace. I recognize that there are those who are not simply skeptical about peace, but question its underlying premise, and that’s a part of democracy and the discourse between our two countries.

    Well then, Mr President, why didn’t you speak at the Knesset and, instead, chose to deliver your speech in front of a selected student audience?

    Isn’t the democracy you appeal to based on a willingness to take criticism from those “in this hall that will not agree” with what you said? But I guess you needed to be assured of a minimum of applause.

    But it is important to be open and honest with one another.

    That’s what the Israelis want from you, and have been afraid that you won’t deliver, hence your very low popularity in Israel.

    Politically, given the strong bipartisan support for Israel in America, the easiest thing for me to do would be to put this issue aside, and express unconditional support for whatever Israel decides to do. But I want you to know that I speak to you as a friend who is deeply concerned and committed to your future, and I ask you to consider three points.

    The more cynic among us, pro-Israel lads, would be tempted to think that the fact that you ignore the wishes of the majority of the American public, who insist on placing the pressure on the Palestinians and not on the Israelis, is due not to your friendly feelings towards Israel, but on narcissistic concerns about your legacy after you leave office – “here is the man that did not capitulate to the powerful Israel lobby”, isn’t this the boogeyman you want yourself to be seen as fighting against?

    First, peace is necessary. Indeed, it is the only path to true security. You can be the generation that permanently secures the Zionist dream, or you can face a growing challenge to its future. Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine.

    Actually, the demographics are such that, even if Israel intended to annex the whole of the West Bank, there wouldn’t be much of a threat: the fertility rates of both Israelis and Palestinians have converged, but the Israeli one is trending upwards, whereas the Palestinian one downwards.

    Given the frustration in the international community, Israel must reverse an undertow of isolation.

    Reverse, how? By committing suicide and conceding the settlements too? Are you going to fly in your spacesuit and stop the rockets from the West bank reaching the Israeli airport, or are you going to let the Israeli economy be destroyed as a result of the expected terrorism from West Bank hilltops?

    There is something that you, Mr President, can do if you want to stop the isolation of Israel: use your prestige and make a statement about how biased the western journalism is in its treatment of Israel. In this way, the media might feel the need to stop misinforming their audience so as not to lose them as customers – and if the truth about the conflict is learned, then the isolation of Israel will collapse on its own because of the increasing public awareness of the pertinent facts that show who is responsible for the stalemate (and these are the intransigent Palestinians, who will be intransigent so long as they see that they can dupe the media into reporting their side of the story and hope that they will finally be able to make the West force Israel to capitulate to what the Palestinians want).

    And given the march of technology, the only way to truly protect the Israeli people is through the absence of war – because no wall is high enough, and no Iron Dome is strong enough, to stop every enemy from inflicting harm.

    How about asking the Palestinian Authority to stop glorifying terrorism? Would that have an effect on Israel’s security? If yes, why don’t you tell them so? – I mean, tell the Palestinians, not the Israelis.

    This truth is more pronounced given the changes sweeping the Arab World. I recognize that with the uncertainty in the region – people in the streets, changes in leadership, the rise of non-secular parties in politics –it is tempting to turn inward. But this is precisely the time to respond to the wave of revolution with a resolve for peace.

    This is precisely the time NOT to respond to the wave of “revolution” with a resolve for peace: in case you haven’t noticed, the revolutions are hijacked by the Islamist elements, who are openly anti-Semitic – you can’t have missed Morsi’s evaluations of the Jews’ DNA and character.
    Are you seriously suggesting that this environment should make the Israelis more risk-loving towards peace, instead of more risk-averse? Do you consider the hostile to Israel regime of Egypt to represent an opportunity for peace with the Palestinians? Hasn’t it crossed your mind that the ascendance of Islamism all around Israel will make the Palestinians even more determined in their goal of the complete obliteration of Israel, because they will feel that they will have more active support in their endavors?

    As more governments respond to popular will, the days when Israel could seek peace with a handful of autocratic leaders are over. Peace must be made among peoples, not just governments. No one step can change overnight what lies in the hearts and minds of millions. But progress with the Palestinians is a powerful way to begin, while sidelining extremists who thrive on conflict and division.

    And how can you sideline Hamas, who is more popular than the Palestinian Authority?

    Second, peace is just. There is no question that Israel has faced Palestinian factions who turned to terror, and leaders who missed historic opportunities. That is why security must be at the center of any agreement. And there is no question that the only path to peace is through negotiation. That is why, despite the criticism we’ve received, the United States will oppose unilateral efforts to bypass negotiations through the United Nations.

    No one disagrees with the principles you stated. But who is the one who undermined negotiations? Wasn’t it you who, out of the blue, demanded of Israel something that no US President has ever demanded before as a precondition of negotiations, namely a halt to Israeli construction in the West bank and East Jerusalem? And how could Abbas not stick to your suggestion, and refuse to negotiate with the Israelis, given that if he did negotiate he would be seen by the Arab street as more capitulating to Israel even compared to the US President who had brought up the issue of halting construction as a condition for negotiations?

    Abbas is merely following your lead, Mr President.

    But the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and justice must also be recognized. Put yourself in their shoes – look at the world through their eyes.

    That’s kind of hard: empathizing with such violent sexism and homophobia is almost unattainable for many westerners.

    It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day.

    It is the Palestinian kid’s parents that made the presence of the Israeli Army necessary with their terrorist rockets and the slaughters of such families as the Fogels.

    And, please, stop bringing up the issue of the time delays at the checkpoints, it sounds ridiculous when the Israeli alternative is to let the Palestinians cross them unchecked and later have to deal with the murders that some unchecked Palestinian terrorists will perpetrate.

    It is not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished. It is not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; to restrict a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or to displace Palestinian families from their home. Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer.

    Excuse me, are you blaming on Israel the rare acts of settler violence? Does this mean that you consider the US accountable for the murder of any foreigner on US soil by some US citizens?

    As for displacement or expulsion of Palestinians, nothing of the sort occurs unless they are terrorists, or they don’t have building permits. So what exactly are you talking about? Have you been influenced too much from the lies of the New York Times, lies that have been debunked again and again by media watchdogs?

    Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.

    Yes the Palestinians have this right, but not the right to annihilate Israel, and it seems that they want the latter more than they want the former – if they didn’t, they would have taken either the 2000 or the 2008 Israeli peace offer and run, before the Zionists changed their (generous) minds.

    Only you can determine what kind of democracy you will have. But remember that as you make these decisions, you will define not simply the future of your relationship with the Palestinians – you will define the future of Israel as well. As Ariel Sharon said, “It is impossible to have a Jewish, democratic state and at the same time to control all of Eretz Israel. If we insist on fulfilling the dream in its entirety, we are liable to lose it all.” Or, from a different perspective, think of what David Grossman said shortly after losing his son, as he described the necessity of peace – “a peace of no choice” he said, “must be approached with the same determination and creativity as one approaches a war of no choice.”

    It is not an either/ or, as you put it: Israel can just sit and wait, especially now that the Palestinians are obviously uninterested in negotiations, and the Arab Winter is proliferating Islamic regimes hostile to Israel throughout the region. So why the rush?

    Afraid that you are going to be out of office before scoring in the Middle East terrain?

    Of course, Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with anyone who is dedicated to its destruction. But while I know you have had differences with the Palestinian Authority, I believe that you do have a true partner in President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad.

    Obama just felt like making a joke. He knows that the Palestinian Authority, led by Abbas, glorifies terrorism almost every day, and Abbas himself has honored terrorists and pays the salaries of terrorists incarcerated in Israeli jails. So Obama’s point, I am guessing, was just banter.

    Over the last few years, they have built institutions and maintained security on the West Bank in ways that few would have imagined a decade ago. So many Palestinians – including young people – have rejected violence as a means of achieving their aspirations.

    If after all the anti-Israel brainwashing they receive from the Palestinian Authority many Palestinians have rejected violence, it must be because they await the West to do the dirty job for them and force Israel to accept the millions of fake refugees as part of a peace agreement – thus hoping to annihilate the Jewishness of the state demographically.

    The real tragedy is that there must be Palestinians who have not been affected by Abbas’ brainwashing and just want a solution that will allow them to have a state and true peace with Israel, with no posterior aspirations. These Palestinians are Abbas’ victims, not Israel’s.

    Mr President, I suggest you concentrate on how Palestinian aspirations are formed, Media watchdog “Palestinian Media Watch” will set you straight on whether Abbas is a partner for peace.

    Which leads to my third point: peace is possible. I know it doesn’t seem that way. There will always be a reason to avoid risk, and there’s a cost for failure. There will always be extremists who provide an excuse to not act. And there is something exhausting about endless talks about talks; the daily controversies, and grinding status quo.

    Mr President, peace right now is not possible because Palestinians right now don’t want it. Are you asking the Israelis to attempt to make peace with people that don’t want peace?

    And why are you repeating the mantra of “extremists of both sides” as responsible for the stalemate? The Palestinians are unwilling even to come back at the negotiating table, so why are you pressuring Israel and not the Palestinians? – not to mention that assigning a kind of moral equivalence between terrorists and a small number of hot-headed settlers is misleading.

    Negotiations will be necessary, but there is little secret about where they must lead – two states for two peoples. There will be differences about how to get there, and hard choices along the way. Arab States must adapt to a world that has changed. The days when they could condemn Israel to distract their people from a lack of opportunity are over. Now is the time for the Arab World to take steps toward normalized relations with Israel.

    The Arab states will not heed your advice as long as you pander them with economic aid and F16s and political support. You would be better off if you were supporting the truly moderate Arabs and not the Islamists – even though I am willing to grant you that the number of the real moderates is prohibitingly small for them to be able to play any role in politics, in which case you should just stay silent instead of engaging in wishful thinking that Islamists will miraculously change their honor-shame mindset and decide to go for the win-win solution of peace with Israel.

    Meanwhile, Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state, and that Israelis have the right to insist upon their security. Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace, and that an independent Palestine must be viable– that real borders will have to be drawn.

    Mr President, you make it sound as if the borders that Israel had offered in the past peace proposals were not “real” borders. Wasn’t 97% of the West Bank real enough for the Palestinians to take it and set up their state?

    As for the settlements being an impediment to peace I think you are joking – again.

    Time and again the Palestinians have engaged in negotiations while settlement construction was going on. If they are reluctant to do so now, it is because YOU made it so, by your thoughtless 2009 suggestion to Netanyahu to freeze construction activity as a precondition for peace talks.

    I’ve suggested principles on territory and security that I believe can be the basis for talks. But for the moment, put aside the plans and process. I ask you, instead, to think about what can be done to build trust between people.

    At last, you touched upon a reason that peace is not forthcoming. Israelis cannot anymore trust the Palestinians.

    Four years ago, I stood in Cairo in front of an audience of young people. Politically, religiously, they must seem a world away. But the things they want – they’re not so different from you.

    Oh, they ARE different Mr President! The majority of Israelis don’t hate the Palestinians, whereas the majority of Palestinians hate the Israelis.

    The ability to make their own decisions; to get an education and a good job; to worship God in their own way; to get married and have a family. The same is true of the young Palestinians that I met in Ramallah this morning, and of young Palestinians who yearn for a better life in Gaza.

    Mafia operatives have the same aspirations that you mentioned, aspirations that they share with normal people. But the overlapping of aspirations does not mean that they are even remotely similar to normal persons. I suggest that many Palestinians (especially those that vote for Hamas or are Hamas sympathizers) are as different from the Israelis as are the mafia operatives from normal people – this honor-shame mindset I have been mentioning?

    That is where peace begins – not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people; not just in a carefully designed process, but in the daily connections that take place among those who live together in this land, and in this sacred city of Jerusalem. Speaking as a politician, I can promise you this: political leaders will not take risks if the people do not demand that they do. You must create the change that you want to see.

    I agree. So these are the words that you must be addressing to the Palestinians – because the Israelis have already demonstrated their willingness to compromise if peace is to be achieved, and they got paid back in terror from Gaza and the Intifada, so now they are justifiably mistrustful unless they see that the Palestinians are truly willing to engage in self-criticism and pursue peace without ambitions of annihilating Israel in the far future.

    I know this is possible. Look to the bridges being built in business and civil society by some of you here today. Look at young people who have not yet learned a reason to mistrust, and those who have learned to overcome a legacy of mistrust that they inherited from their parents because of the simple recognition that we hold more hopes in common than the fear that drives us apart.

    If you are inviting them to not be mistrustful under the specific circumstances, you are asking them to commit suicide.

    Your voices must be louder than the extremists who would drown them out. Your hopes must light the way forward. Look to a future in which Jews, Muslims and Christians can all live in peace and greater prosperity in this Holy Land.

    The Israelis already do look to such a future. It is the Muslims that cannot swallow living as equals with the Jews and the Christians – especially the Jews, who have been their former dhimis.

    Look to the future that you want for your own children – a future in which a Jewish, democratic state is protected and accepted, for this time and for all time. There will be many voices that say this change is not possible. But remember this: Israel is the most powerful country in this region. Israel has the unshakeable support of the most powerful country in the world. Israel has the wisdom to see the world as it is, but also the courage to see the world as it should be. Ben Gurion once said, “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.” Sometimes, the greatest miracle is recognizing that the world can change. After all, that is a lesson that the world learned from the Jewish people.

    That was treacherous: Israel is stronger, so Israel can establish peace if she wants, so if peace is not established then it is Israel’s fault.

    Well, you got it wrong Mr President, peace is a game played by two, if the Palestinians don’t want peace, peace will not come.

    That brings me to the final area I will focus on: prosperity, and Israel’s broader role in the world. I know that all the talk about security and peace can seem distant from other concerns that you have in your daily lives. And every day, even amidst the threats you face, Israelis are defining themselves by the opportunities you create.
    Through talent and hard work, Israelis have put this small country at the forefront of the global economy. Israelis understand the value of education, and have produced 10 Nobel laureates. Israelis understand the power of invention, and your universities educate engineers and inventors. That spirit has led to economic growth and human progress: solar power and electric cars; bandages and prosthetic limbs that save lives; stem cell research and new drugs that treat disease; cell phones and computer technology that change the way we live. If people want to see the future of the world economy, they should look at Tel Aviv: home to hundreds of start-ups and research centers.

    This is also part of the reason that the Palestinians and the Arabs are so hostile to Israel: they are jealous of her miraculous adaptation to modernity which is evidenced by her economic success.

    And Israelis are so active on social media that every day seemed to bring a different Facebook campaign about where I should give this speech.

    It just seemed strange that you chose an audience of your liking instead of addressing the Knesset which is representative of the Israeli people.

    That innovation is just as important to the relationship between the United States and Israel as our security cooperation. Our first free trade agreement in the world was reached with Israel nearly three decades ago, and today the trade between our two countries is at 40 billion dollars each year. More importantly, that partnership is creating new products and medical treatments, and pushing new frontiers of science and exploration. That is the kind of relationship that Israel should have – and could have – with every country in the world. Already, we see how that innovation could reshape this region. One program here in Jerusalem brings together young Israelis and Palestinians to learn vital skills in technology and business. An Israeli and Palestinian have started a venture capital fund to finance Palestinian start-ups. Over 100 high-tech companies have found a home on the West Bank, which speaks to the talent and entrepreneurial spirit of the Palestinian people.

    It only speaks of the talent and entrepreneurial spirit of the SPECIFIC Palestinians. A lot more instances of successful Palestinians are required if we are to affirm that Palestinian culture is not an obstacle to the very qualities that you admire, Mr President.

    One of the great ironies of what is happening in the broader region is that so much of what people are yearning for – education and entrepreneurship; the ability to start a business without paying a bribe, to connect to the global economy – those things can be found in Israel. This should be a hub for thriving regional trade, and an engine of opportunity. And this is already a center for innovation that helps power the global economy. I believe that all of that potential for prosperity can be enhanced with greater security, and a lasting peace.

    Therefore, all you need to do is to persuade the Palestinians that, if they really yearn for education and entrepreneurship, making peace with Israel is the way.

    I wish you good luck in your endeavor.

    Here, in this small strip of land that has been the center of so much tragedy and triumph, Israelis have built something that few could imagine sixty-five years ago. Tomorrow, I will pay tribute to that history – at the grave of Herzl, a man who had the foresight to see that the future of the Jewish people had to be reconnected to their past; at the grave of Rabin, who understood that Israel’s victories in war had to be followed by battles for peace; and at Yad Vashem, where the world is reminded of the cloud of evil that can descend on the Jewish people and all of humanity if we fail to remain ever vigilant. We bear that history on our shoulders, and we carry it in our hearts. Today, as we face the twilight of Israel’s founding generation, you – the young people of Israel – must now claim the future. It falls to you to write the next chapter in the story of this great nation.

    As far as peace is concerned, it falls upon the Palestinians to make up their minds if they want it.

    Speaking to Israelis as if they haven’t conclusively proved their bona fides with regards to peace is at least inappropriate – and suspect at worst.

    As the President of a country that you can count on as your greatest friend, I am confident that you can help us find the promise in the days that lie ahead. And as a man who has been inspired in my own life by that timeless calling within the Jewish experience – tikkun olam – I am hopeful that we can draw upon what’s best in ourselves to meet the challenges that will come; to win the battles for peace in the wake of so much war; and to do the work of repairing this world. May God bless you, and may God bless Israel and the United States of America. Toda raba.

    Tikkun olam, is that how you plan to guilt-trip the Israelis to commit suicide through more concessions to the Palestinians?

  6. @ Dr Landes

    Dr Landes, i left a very big comment with my response to Obama’s speech, but it got spammed.

  7. My response to Joseph Levine’s argument on Israel’s right to exist. Italics his.

    I was raised in a religious Jewish environment,

    Translation: I am speaking as a Jew, so those of you who are Gentiles should 1) take me as knowledgable on Jewish matters 2) take my anti-Israel writings as a gift to your anti-Israel agenda because they add legitimacy to your narrative (“even Jews are denouncing Israel’s right to exist”) 3) offer me in return the recognition and the pat in the back I am craving for. Yes, I am a moral narcissist, so I am also writing just to show off my open-mindedness that reaches so far as to make me badmouth my own people if I think they deserve it, but I also need your Gentilean approval because deep down it makes me feel safe: if you come to appreciate how moral I intend to be, so moral as to judge even my own people’s immorality, maybe you will come to like me and stop looking at me, the Jew, as a threat to you. Yes, my fear of you has led me to such extremes, it has led me to experience something similar to what Dr Landes calls “masochistic omnipotence syndrome”, which in my case means that by granting you everything I think you expect of me I come to feel powerful in that you are not going to hurt me – that’s all the powerfulness I am asking for, not to be physically harmed. Well, if you also were to appreciate my high moral standing so as to satisfy my narcissism, that would be even better (but it’s not required, for I would hate to see my expectations for moral recognition shattered in case you just view me as a useful treacherous scum).

    and though we were not strongly Zionist, I always took it to be self-evident that “Israel has a right to exist.”

    Translation: by this I mean that I have taken the pains to question the Jewish mindset I developed through my upbringing and socialization, and I came to reject parts of it (the Zionism, at least).

    Therefore, you should value my stance even more – it wasn’t easy, I had to redefine myself, and this takes courage and honesty, so please don’t be frugal in your expressions of sympathy and admiration towards me.

    Now anyone who has debated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have encountered this phrase often.

    Translation: i have engaged in such debates many times, whatever proves my bona fides to the Gentile world is a must, all the more so if it is so extravagant as the denial of Israel’s right to exist – gets the attention that I am looking for, too.

    Defenders of Israeli policies routinely accuse Israel’s critics of denying her right to exist, while the critics (outside of a small group on the left, where I now find myself) bend over backward to insist that, despite their criticisms, of course they affirm it. The general mainstream consensus seems to be that to deny Israel’s right to exist is a clear indication of anti-Semitism (a charge Jews like myself are not immune to), and therefore not an option for people of conscience.

    Jews like you are not accused of anti-Semitism, but for enabling anti-Semites.

    Yes, denying Israel’s right to exist is not the sort of thing that people with conscience would do – I mean, saying the same things with Hamas and the neo-Nazis?

    Over the years I came to question this consensus and to see that the general fealty to it has seriously constrained open debate on the issue, one of vital importance not just to the people directly involved — Israelis and Palestinians

    Do rapists have the right to rape? The consensus is that anyone seriously trying to grant such a right to rapists is morally deranged. The general fealty to this consensus has seriously constrained open debate on the issue of the right to rape, one of vital importance to the people directly involved – rapists and their victims (potential and actual), but, still, the world hasn’t been impoverished as a result of the lack of debate on the self-evident truth that rapists don’t have a right to rape. In other words, not all topics deserve attention, and exposing the motives of some of those who wish to engage in debating such topics is a useful social practice.

    So, what’s your point?

    but to the conduct of our own foreign policy

    You mean that Walt and Mearsheimer are right in seeing Israel as a liability for the US, in that Israel is the source of the anti-American Muslim sentiment through her role in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

    Disregarding your moral depravity, which seems to be blind to the fact that, if the US dumps a friend just because it is the expedient thing to do, then the US will have acted immorally, I would rather stick to the absurdity of your implied claim: the Muslim world does not hate the US because of its “help” to Israel, it has independent reasons for that, namely the fear of modernity that the Muslim world evinces, a fear that is exacerbated by a globalization that brings right into Muslim homes ideas that are seen to be deleterious, especially for females. What if the Muslim girls, getting ideas of independence in their mind through the US TV series, start to fight back the alpha-male Muslim oppression? The macho Mohammeds cannot have that, so they hate globalization, and consequently they hate its proliferator, Uncle Sam.

    Even if Israel goes down the drain, the Muslim world will still hate America.

    I strongly recommend you read Dr Landes’ animadversions on honor-shame cultures. Maybe then you will come to realize that you are talking about cultures that you don’t have the slightest idea about how they think and, most importantly, feel – hey, I thought you radical leftists were all for empathy.

    and, more important, to the safety of the world at large.

    I see, the instability of the Middle East is due to the Israel-Palestine conflict, the “linkage” theory.

    Kindly explain why the instability in Syria is not due to conflict between Alawites and Sunnis but, rather, is due to Israel. Or why Iraq and Pakistan and Afganistan are unstable because of Israel, and not because of their own inner strife. Or why Egypt is in turmoil and on the edge of bankruptcy due to Israel’s actions, and not due to the Egyptian people’s internal disagreements.

    Nothing of the above would be resolved if Israel ceased to exist.

    My view is that one really ought to question Israel’s right to exist and that doing so does not manifest anti-Semitism. The first step in questioning the principle, however, is to figure out what it means.

    Your view is that Israel should cease to exist, and that you should be able to say so with social impunity. Well, you can stick to your views, but don’t expect people to just sit down and take it without talking about what really makes you say it – my first paragraph was devoted precisely to that, and it is very clear that your motives have nothing to do with YOUR anti-Semitism – they are just accommodating the anti-Semitism of Gentiles.

    One problem with talking about this question calmly and rationally is that the phrase “right to exist” sounds awfully close to “right to life,” so denying Israel its right to exist sounds awfully close to permitting the extermination of its people.

    It sounds awfully close because it IS awfully close to extermination. If the Israeli Jews are left without a Jewish state, sooner or later they will be persecuted.

    In light of the history of Jewish persecution, and the fact that Israel was created immediately after and largely as a consequence of the Holocaust, it isn’t surprising that the phrase “Israel’s right to exist” should have this emotional impact.

    The Holocaust was the culmination of global anti-Semitism, but the persecution was present for 2,000 years. It is this timeless persecution, and the associated justified fears that are evoked in the persecuted one, that give the Jews of the world the right to have a state of their own, where they will be able to practice their religion and culture without fear.

    The emotional impact on Jews that you talk about is the natural consequence of what the world has been doing to the Jews for millennia – emotional impact to you, too, you just don’t realize how you ultimately managed to cope with those fears, namely by internalizing everything that you thought might make you look less threatening to the possible anti-Semites that might come for you. The enjoyment of it through your narcissism came later, I suppose, it was an extra layer upon your fears.

    You ended up giving too much, if I may say.

    But as even those who insist on the principle will admit, they aren’t claiming merely the impermissibility of exterminating Israelis. So what is this “right” that many uphold as so basic that to question it reflects anti-Semitism and yet is one that I claim ought to be questioned? The key to the interpretation is found in the crucial four words that are often tacked on to the phrase “Israel’s right to exist” — namely, “… as a Jewish state.” As I understand it, the principle that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state has three parts: first, that Jews, as a collective, constitute a people in the sense that they possess a right to self-determination; second, that a people’s right to self-determination entails the right to erect a state of their own, a state that is their particular people’s state; and finally, that for the Jewish people the geographical area of the former Mandatory Palestine, their ancestral homeland, is the proper place for them to exercise this right to self-determination.

    One could reply to you that Israel’s right to exist cuts deeper, and that it is justified upon the need of the Jews to have a place of their own to feel safe.

    This safe house didn’t have to be in their ancestral homeland, ANY place would have done, but that’s the one that the international community thought of allocating to the Jews, the place that was once named “Palestine”.

    The claim then is that anyone who denies Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is guilty of anti-Semitism because they are refusing to grant Jews the same rights as other peoples possess. If indeed this were true, if Jews were being singled out in the way many allege, I would agree that it manifests anti-Jewish bias. But the charge that denying Jews a right to a Jewish state amounts to treating the Jewish people differently from other peoples cannot be sustained.

    Have you ever heard the people who deny Israel’s right to exist denying any other state’s right to exist? Has any of them ever denied Tyrkey’s right to exist, on account of Turkish oppression of the Kurds? If this isn’t treating the Jews differently from other peoples, then what is?

    To begin, since the principle has three parts, it follows that it can be challenged in (at least) three different ways: either deny that Jews constitute “a people” in the relevant sense, deny that the right to self-determination really involves what advocates of the principle claim it does, or deny that Jews have the requisite claim on the geographical area in question.

    For the record, my own version of Israel’s right to exist is based on their emotional need to overcome their justified fears of anti-Semitic persecution, and on the high likelihood that without a state they will be victimized again in the future. It is what I stated a few paragraphs above. But I am willing to play along with your straw-man version of Israel’s right to exist, until the point that it becomes clear that you have missed the morally important dimension of Jewish fears.

    In fact, I think there is a basis to challenge all three, but for present purposes I will focus on the question of whether a people’s right to self-determination entails their right to a state of their own, and set aside whether Jews count as a people and whether Jews have a claim on that particular land. I do so partly for reasons of space, but mainly because these questions have largely (though not completely) lost their importance.

    Denying Jewish peoplehood would be laughable on account of their willingness to identify themselves as part of the collective named “Jews”.

    The fact is that today millions of Jews live in Israel and, ancestral homeland or not, this is their home now. As for whether Jews constitute a people, this is a vexed question given the lack of consensus in general about what it takes for any particular group of people to count as “a people.” The notion of “a people” can be interpreted in different ways, with different consequences for the rights that they possess. My point is that even if we grant Jews their peoplehood and their right to live in that land, there is still no consequent right to a Jewish state.

    Of course they have a right to a Jewish state. That’s the whole point of their justified fears: they are afraid that, if they participate freely in their culture and their religion, the anti-Semites will sooner or later attempt to oppress them, as it has happened time and again throughout history. So they feel they need a state in order to protect themselves from hostiles.

    The alternative would be to cripple themselves emotionally, so as not to feel the need to exercise their culture and religion and, hence, not attract Gentile hostility.

    But, Joseph, not many Jews are willing to undergo the surgical amputation that you inflicted upon your psyche – by “psyche” I mean your mind, ultimately your brain. You see, i am a physicalist (and obviously atheist).

    However, I do think that it’s worth noting the historical irony in insisting that it is anti-Semitic to deny that Jews constitute a people. The 18th and 19th centuries were the period of Jewish “emancipation” in Western Europe, when the ghetto walls were torn down and Jews were granted the full rights of citizenship in the states within which they resided. The anti-Semitic forces in those days, those opposing emancipation, were associated not with denying Jewish peoplehood but with emphatically insisting on it! The idea was that since Jews constituted a nation of their own, they could not be loyal citizens of any European state. The liberals who strongly opposed anti-Semitism insisted that Jews could both practice their religion and uphold their cultural traditions while maintaining full citizenship in the various nation-states in which they resided.

    I fail to see the irony you talk about. Anti-Semitism can take many forms. People eager to morally downgrade the Jews would have gladly seized the opportunity to accuse Israel for homophobia , in case she treated gays oppressively. But Israel treats them open-mindedly for western standards, so the anti-Semites (or their enablers) now accuse her of using her liberal treatment of gays to whitewash perceived Israeli atrocities. Whatever the Jews do, their detractors will find a pretext to blame them – blame either Jews or Israel for having done A or not-A.

    The only irony I see is that some Jews who have experienced this Gentile absurdity are more than eager to internalize it and proliferate it.

    But, as I said, let’s grant that Jews are a people. Well, if they are, and if with the status of a people comes the right to self-determination, why wouldn’t they have a right to live under a Jewish state in their homeland? The simple answer is because many non-Jews (rightfully) live there too. But this needs unpacking.

    Before you unpack, let me state that in Israel the Israeli Arabs have exactly the same rights with Israeli Jews. And that the West bank Palestinians have no right to demand full voting rights, even in the extreme case of annexation, because it is clear that they intend to misuse any voting rights they are given so as to bring the Jews to the place they want them to be, i.e. below Muslims.

    First, it’s important to note, as mentioned above, that the term “a people” can be used in different ways, and sometimes they get confused. In particular, there is a distinction to be made between a people in the ethnic sense and a people in the civic sense. Though there is no general consensus on this, a group counts as a people in the ethnic sense by virtue of common language, common culture, common history and attachment to a common territory. One can easily see why Jews, scattered across the globe, speaking many different languages and defined largely by religion, present a difficult case. But, as I said above, for my purposes it doesn’t really matter, and I will just assume the Jewish people qualify.

    The major determinant as to whether a group of persons can be considered to constitute a people (or, alternatively put, an ethnic group) is if they SEE THEMSELVES AS constituting a people. If they do, they ARE a people.

    I thought you radical lefties had more sympathy with such mental states that demand of oneself to see her in a particular way – but you are not as tolerant after all, you ask for common languages, and lots of other common things, as necessary conditions for peoplehood, whereas all you had to do was ask the Jews (or any other group you might be interested in) if they are a people.

    The other sense is the civic one, which applies to a people by virtue of their common citizenship in a nation-state or, alternatively, by virtue of their common residence within relatively defined geographic borders. So whereas there is both an ethnic and a civic sense to be made of the term “French people,” the term “Jewish people” has only an ethnic sense. This can easily be seen by noting that the Jewish people is not the same group as the Israeli people. About 20 percent of Israeli citizens are non-Jewish Palestinians, while the vast majority of the Jewish people are not citizens of Israel and do not live within any particular geographic area. “Israeli people,” on the other hand, has only a civic sense. (Of course often the term “Israelis” is used as if it applies only to Jewish Israelis, but this is part of the problem. More on this below.)

    I don’t really follow.
    Some French, too, are nationals of other countries. They are ethnically French but also have the nationality of whichever country they happen to live in. The Diaspora Jews are ethnically Jewish but have the nationality of their respective countries. They are like the French that live abroad and have an additional foreign nationality but still see themselves as French. And the Jews of Israel are like the French of France, they are both ethnically Jewish and nationals of the Jewish state . French there are, in your civic sense, that don’t identify with the French ethnicity – I refer to some Muslim French. Nationals of the Jewish state there are that don’t identify with the Jewish ethnicity – I refer to some Israeli Muslims.

    Seeing that you brought in percentages, let me remind you that soon France will be in the same situation as Israel, i.e. 20% of the French population will not see themselves as ethnically French – the number of Muslim French is increasing. Will this mean that the term “French” will have only an ethnic sense, as you seem to imply? That’s reduction ad absurdum of your claim, obviously the term “French” will also refer to the nationals of the state, be it people who identify with Frenchhood (whatever this means for you) or not.

    So, when we consider whether or not a people has a right to a state of their own, are we speaking of a people in the ethnic sense or the civic one?

    In the ethnic sense, of course. All the questions about people’s right to a state, such as the Kurdish, take for granted that we talk about ethnicities, not nationalities – how could it be different, there is no Kurdish state yet for us to inquire if we may be referring to citizens of the putative Kurdish state.

    And, more importantly, when we ask about Israel’s right to exist we are in effect asking: should the Jews of the world, the Israeli Jews a fortiori on account of their already living in Israel, have a Jewish state of their own, so that they can run there in case the world goes mad again, like Europe did?

    I contend that insofar as the principle that all peoples have the right to self-determination entails the right to a state of their own, it can apply to peoples only in the civic sense.

    You contend so because you are looking for a definition that will allow you to deny Israel’s right to exist – this Gentile quasi-bulling that you must have experienced, it really made a dent on you.

    After all, what is it for a people to have a state “of their own”? Here’s a rough characterization: the formal institutions and legal framework of the state serves to express, encourage and favor that people’s identity. The distinctive position of that people would be manifested in a number of ways, from the largely symbolic to the more substantive: for example, it would be reflected in the name of the state, the nature of its flag and other symbols, its national holidays, its education system, its immigration rules, the extent to which membership in the people in question is a factor in official planning, how resources are distributed, etc. If the people being favored in this way are just the state’s citizens, it is not a problem.

    So, according to your reasoning, France should legalize sharia, so as not to unjustly impose on the French Islamists the French culture of less vulgar treatment of women, gays, criminals etc.?

    (Of course those who are supercosmopolitan, denying any legitimacy to the borders of nation-states, will disagree. But they aren’t a party to this debate.)

    I AM supercosmopolitan (and probably became so due to emotional needs not unlike the ones that motivated you to hate Israel) and I do deny the wisdom of forming distinct states (at least in case all people of the Earth happened to be equally and highly mature at the same point in time), and yet I still recognize Israel’s right to exist, ONLY Israel’s right to exist, because it is only the Jews that really need a state of their own, because they are the only ones liable to be persecuted, as history teaches us.

    Some of us, supercosmopolitans, are not blind, you see.

    But if the people who “own” the state in question are an ethnic sub-group of the citizenry, even if the vast majority, it constitutes a serious problem indeed, and this is precisely the situation of Israel as the Jewish state. Far from being a natural expression of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, it is in fact a violation of the right to self-determination of its non-Jewish (mainly Palestinian) citizens. It is a violation of a people’s right to self-determination to exclude them — whether by virtue of their ethnic membership, or for any other reason — from full political participation in the state under whose sovereignty they fall. Of course Jews have a right to self-determination in this sense as well — this is what emancipation was all about. But so do non-Jewish peoples living in the same state.

    Let’s help you untangle your argument.
    The French, the French who identify as French in the ethnic sense I mean, are already imposing their culture on those Muslim French that stick to their own culture: no sharia is allowed – not yet at least. Does this mean that they are violating the French Muslims’ right to self determination? You are liable to answer yes, given what you just said about the Israeli Jews. Reductio ad absurdum?

    As for the full political participation you mentioned, you are mixing apples with oranges. The Israeli Arabs DO have equal political rights. They can vote and be elected. You are referring to the Palestinians of the West Bank. But Israel has not annexed the West Bank. So why should she grant voting rights to people that are not her citizens? And even if she does annex, there is still moral justification for not granting voting rights to people that are determined to eliminate the Israeli Jews, or are determined to make Jews second-class dhimmis once again.

    Does your emotional corruption make you so blind as not to be able to see the clear moral claim that the Jews have to protect their physical well-being and exercise of identity from people who are unjustifiably hostile to them?

    Any state that “belongs” to one ethnic group within it violates the core democratic principle of equality, and the self-determination rights of the non-members of that group.

    As we have already said, the same goes with France, the ethnically French violate the self-determination rights of the Islamist French. So what? Should we grant legitimacy to sharia so as to be thought of as respecting the principle of equality? In other words, are you suggesting that we should treat gays and women in violation of the principle of equality (that’s what sharia demands, among other things) so as to be thought of as treating the Islamists in adherence to the principle of equality? Yet, that’s what your reasoning leads us to conclude. Reductio ad absurdum?

    If the institutions of a state favor one ethnic group among its citizenry in this way, then only the members of that group will feel themselves fully a part of the life of the state.

    That’s why many Muslims riot at cartoons (or blow themselves), because they can’t swallow the western irreverence to ANY totems and taboos, Muslim or otherwise. We, westerners, we like to tease each other. Islamists can’t swallow it. And here comes you, bringing arguments that suggest we should accommodate them by censoring one of the chief glories of our civilization, our sense of humor.

    True equality, therefore, is only realizable in a state that is based on civic peoplehood.

    There is no such thing in the western world, all states do include minorities that have to live under the dominant culture of the majority. What is morally significant is that those minorities don’t get unjustly harmed (either physically or emotionally) by the majority. Anything else goes.

    As formulated by both Jewish- and Palestinian-Israeli activists on this issue, a truly democratic state that fully respects the self-determination rights of everyone under its sovereignty must be a “state of all its citizens.”

    If your argument is that we should acquiesce to the moral and/or intellectual authority of activists (especially the pro-Palestinian ones) then I’d rather pass.

    They are very sick people, you know, emotionally speaking.

    This fundamental point exposes the fallacy behind the common analogy, drawn by defenders of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, between Israel’s right to be Jewish and France’s right to be French. The appropriate analogy would instead be between France’s right to be French (in the civic sense) and Israel’s right to be Israeli.

    Since your fundamental point has missed the fact that Israel is a state for all her citizens (on account of their being equals before the Law, irrespective of whether they are Arab or Jewish), then I hope you now understand that there is no fallacy in the analogy of France’s right to exist as a French state and Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state – in fact, Israel has more of this right, on account of the likely future persecution of the Jews and the ensuing justified Jewish fears.

    The real conceptual problem arises when the minority in question, say the Muslim one in France, becomes a majority. Should they then be given voting rights, if it is certain that they will misuse them to impose an oppressive culture?

    Anyway, such concerns are irrelevant to Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

    I conclude, then, that the very idea of a Jewish state is undemocratic, a violation of the self-determination rights of its non-Jewish citizens, and therefore morally problematic.

    I hope I have shown that there is nothing morally problematic with Israel existing as a Jewish state.

    But the harm doesn’t stop with the inherently undemocratic character of the state. For if an ethnic national state is established in a territory that contains a significant number of non-members of that ethnic group, it will inevitably face resistance from the land’s other inhabitants.

    Your complaints should be directed to the international community that allocated this particular land to the Jews.

    And why do you find the right to terrorism (“resistance”, you call it) so justified? Haven’t the Jews been treated throughout their history a thousand times worse than the Palestinians? Did they resort to terrorism? Or, instead, did they try to adapt and keep on peacefully with their lives?

    Do you feel an uneasiness with current Israeli power? Have you internalized to that degree the anti-Semites’ perceptions?

    This will force the ethnic nation controlling the state to resort to further undemocratic means to maintain their hegemony. Three strategies to deal with resistance are common: expulsion, occupation and institutional marginalization. Interestingly, all three strategies have been employed by the Zionist movement: expulsion in 1948 (and, to a lesser extent, in 1967)

    The Palestinians could have taken the state offered to them in 1947. But they wanted it all – including the extermination of all Jews. The fact that you fail to mention it is proof enough for the presence of anti-Israel bile in you.

    occupation of the territories conquered in 1967

    You mean the territories that the Palestinian themselves did not view as occupied when they were under Jordan’s occupation?

    and institution of a complex web of laws that prevent Israel’s Palestinian citizens from mounting an internal challenge to the Jewish character of the state. (The recent outrage in Israel over a proposed exclusion of ultra-Orthodox parties from the governing coalition, for example, failed to note that no Arab political party has ever been invited to join the government.) In other words, the wrong of ethnic hegemony within the state leads to the further wrong of repression against the Other within its midst.

    Not calling Arab political parties to join government coalitions in Israel is prudence, not repression. In case you haven’t realized it, Israel is being fought by Hamas whose covenant calls for the elimination of Israel, and for a Palestinian state from the river to the sea. Should the Israelis oblige by letting the Arab political parties rule? Should we welcome a substitution of what you consider Israeli-Arab repression for an Israeli-Jew repression implemented by the macho guys of Hamas?

    The only “other” that I see repressed is your inner Jew – and it is you who effects the repression.

    There is an unavoidable conflict between being a Jewish state and a democratic state.

    And yet, the Israelis have managed to elect an Israeli-Arab in the Supreme Court.

    I want to emphasize that there’s nothing anti-Semitic in pointing this out, and it’s time the question was discussed openly on its merits, without the charge of anti-Semitism hovering in the background.

    The anti-Semitism depends on who’s saying that Israel has no right to exist. If it is the leader of the neo-Nazi party in my country, Greece, then I can assure you it is anti-Semitic.

    If it comes from you, it’s not. It just enables the anti-Semites the world over.

    Well done, Joseph, now you may stop being afraid of the anti-Semites that much, you have proved yourself to be as compliant as they want you to be.

  8. akmofo says:

    “The anti-Semitism depends on who’s saying that Israel has no right to exist. If it is the leader of the neo-Nazi party in my country, Greece, then I can assure you it is anti-Semitic.”

    Anti-Semitism depends on propoganda programming, money, and political support. And that comes from the Vatican/CIA and their subsidiaries.

  9. From Israel Hayom:

    Yariv Horowitz, director of film critical of Israeli occupation, is beaten by Arab youths in France. Horowitz receives medical treatment and returns to be awarded jury prize for Best Picture.

    The Arab youths (and older ones, i am sure) don’t seem to care for the as-a-Jew credentials of Israel bashers. A Jew is a Jew to their mind, and therefore a legitimate target, even if she plays the role of the useful infidel.

    They won’t spare Mr Levine either, i assume.


    I just read a piece by Mr Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss, and since i cannot comment there because i have been unjustifiably banned (it is not advisable to speak the truth there, no amount of civility in your writings will persuade them not to ban you) i will leave a larger response here. Italics his.


    Palestinians still aren’t human beings

    Edith Windsor, 83, is the charismatic plaintiff in the Defense of Marriage Act case. This is from the New York Times’ profile of her the other day:

    But there was one question that she heard immediately. Why are more people beginning to accept gay marriage?
    “As we increasingly came out, people saw that we didn’t have horns. People learned that, O.K., we were their kids and their cousins” and their friends, she said. “It just grew to where we were human beings like everybody else.”

    This is plainly true, oppression of gays retreated as more and more people saw them both on TV and the movies and in real life.

    And what does such an observation mean for a person, like Mr Weiss, who is obsessed with bringing Israel down? He immediately draws an analogy between how gays managed to be treated more humanely and how the PR pro-Palestinian machine should try to humanize the Palestinians:

    Human beings like everybody else! We all know Windsor is right; I experienced a complete change of attitude in myself.

    And I immediately associate it with my learning curve about Arabs and Palestinians. The more of them I’ve gotten to know, the more ordinary they seem to me. Nowadays I can say that I have a wide circle of Palestinian friends and associates, some of whom I adore, some who I can’t stand, etc. And as these people have become normal to me, I have seen their demands for the restoration of their property and rights as utterly normal too, even draped in an exotic keffiyeh.

    Most Palestinians, according to Mr Weiss, are more or less people like you and me. They are normal people, whatever Mr Weiss means by the term “normal”.

    But, here is the rub, do normal people commit acts of terrorism, such as Hamas does? Do normal people vote for a terrorist organization, like the Palestinians did for Hamas? Do normal people sympathize with terrorist organizations, as the majority of the West Bank Palestinians do, something evidenced from polls on the acceptance of Hamas tactics against Israeli civilians?

    Mr Weiss seems to be making the point that Palestinians look alien to some westerners on account of their “exotic keffiyeh”, as he puts it.

    But i am one of those westerners that can’t see those Palestinians who sympathize with Hamas as normal people, and my perceptions have nothing to do with keffiyeh, but all to do with rockets fired at Israeli children.

    Not to mention that the keffiyeh has acquired cult status in my country, Greece, where sons and daughters of some of the richest and most powerful families have been photographed donning keffiyeh in one of their late-night expeditions to night clubs.

    In fact, whenever I hear people praising Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad and the economic growth in the West Bank, I think, Palestinians who reject these ideas are absolutely no different from my American political ancestors who cried, Taxation without representation is tyranny! Really, what’s the difference?

    Now, that’s Mr Weiss’ attempt to address the problem he anticipated from people who would point to Palestinian extremism and backwardness: he suggests that there are extremists in every society, therefore we should not, on account of the Palestinians having their fair share of extremists, see them as being worse from westerners, culturally speaking.

    But he does not address the main point about Palestinian terrorism: do many westerners acquiesce to the use of terrorism as a means to resolve their own purportedly justified grievances? No. But the Palestinians, with their support of Hamas, certainly do.

    So, Mr Weiss’ analogy fails, in the same way that some Hamas rockets fail to reach Israel and land inadvertently in Gaza and kill Palestinian children. In the latter case, the Palestinians know the trick: they blame the accidental deaths on the Israeli Army, and they know their claims will be met with credulity by the western media.

    Is this where Mr Weiss is going to blame his failed analogy, on Israel? Why not, it’s been tried and it works.

    But my experience is unusual: and the demonization of Arabs and Palestinians as jihadists in weird head coverings has been a key component of the “war on terror,” and of neoconservative dreams of tailoring new polities to help out their beloved Arab friends, whose civilization is so backward that they are not ready for the full exercise of self-determination, etc.

    For demonization to obtain, the claim that the Palestinians are supporting the Jihadis must be false. Otherwise, it is not demonization, but merely a true assessment of Palestinian attitudes. Well, if the Palestinians do not crave for jihadism, can Mr Weiss explain why the president of the PA, Abbas, glorifies terrorists personally?

    This demonization is really what we’re up against. But as soon as Americans get to know Arabs and see them as human beings, they’ll understand that notwithstanding different cultures, they’re just ordinary people clamoring for what people get in democracies. This is why Chris Hayes’s work has been so huge. He’s held MSNBC panels made up of both Zionists and Palestinians. He’s let Americans hear from Rashid Khalidi and Noura Erakat and judge for themselves.

    What Mr Weiss is up against is not the demonization of the Palestinians, as he thinks, but a Palestinian abysmal hatred for the Jews. It is this hatred that leads them to committing atrocities against Israeli civilians (e.g. the slaughter of Israeli infants in the Fogels case) and it is these atrocious acts that make some westerners abhor Palestinian culture.

    Of course, the majority of westerners have not come to see the majority of Palestinians as the jihadis that they are indeed. And this is so because, in total discord with the mawkish lamenting of Mr Weiss about the forces that purportedly demonize the Palestinians, the western public is fed by the mass media a diet of anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian lies, lies that dehumanize the Israelis and romanticize the Palestinians (the New York Times and the Guardian being the master chefs in this respect).

    What actually happens in the western media are consistent attempts not to call the terrorists “terrorists” but “fighters” instead, to present Israeli self defense that inadvertently might lead to civilian fatalities as morally equivalent with the Palestinian terrorists deliberate targeting of civilians, and in general to present the Palestinians as a poor persecuted David facing off a heartless and inhuman Israeli Goliath – in my country, the best selling daily newspaper referred to a Palestinian pregnant woman that was inadvertently killed by the IDF (due to Hamas’ tactic of using human shields) as a victim of Israeli intentional aggression, whereas at the same time it did not mention that the very same day an Israeli pregnant woman was killed by a Hamas rocket. Israelis cannot be allowed to be presented as human as the Palestinians.

    But Hayes is very singular. And this is what breaks my heart about seeing Edith Windsor. She has gotten an opening, culturally and politically, to make her case to Americans, and she’s a hero.
    And yes I think there’s a Jewish piece to this. The Jewish liberal leadership is now firmly in the same-sex marriage corner. When people speak of the liberal wing of the Supreme Court, they are referring to a block of four justices, three of whom are the Jewish members of the Court. Years ago The New York Times crushed homosexuals who worked on staff, but many of those brave staffers led the newspaper to become a beacon of progress; and it has been celebratory of same sex marriage, lately comparing the lawyer Mary Bonauto to Thurgood Marshall.
    Imagine for one minute if this liberal east coast political and cultural power were unleashed in behalf of another oppressed group; many Americans would be brought to feel sympathy for Palestinians, not contempt.

    The real question, that seems to evade Mr Weiss, is why the “liberal East Coast political and cultural power” should attempt to create sympathy for the Palestinians, like it purportedly did for gays.

    Gay people do not represent a threat to anyone, gays don’t kill people when they are frustrated in case their demands are not met. Palestinians, on the other hand, just can’t restrain themselves in promoting their goals, they terrorize in order to advance those goals. Isn’t this difference enough for the “powers” that Mr Weiss wants to “unleash” (really belligerent vocabulary by Mr Weiss!) to start having second thoughts about what sort of monster they would be unleashing if they fed Palestinian jihadism through romanticizing it? Shouldn’t those cultural western powers take into account the one million Israelis of the South, and especially the southern Israeli kids that exhibit symptoms of post traumatic stress due to the constant rocket fire by the democratically elected (and therefore accepted by the majority of Palestinians) Hamas?

    In case jihadism is not enough of a consideration for Mr Weiss, should we remind him the treatment that gays and women receive from Palestinian culture? Does he like honor killings and female genital mutilation? Do these oppressed groups (women and gays) play any role in Mr Weiss’ moral calculus? Or is the “as-a-Jew” moral narcissism a disease that turns into terminal moral blindness?

    (And yes, some day it will happen.)[the Americans will be brought to feel sympathy for Palestinians]

    Disregarding the paternalism that Mr Weiss’ choice of wording suggests (Americans “brought to” feel sympathy, as if Americans cannot decide for themselves if they know all pertinent facts), i fear that his prediction is accurate. The mass media are poisoning the western dicourse on the Israel-Palestine conflict through the dissemination of the Palestinians narrative, a narrative full of lies and out-of-context reporting the media accept at face value just because they have been habituated into seeing the Palestinians as the underdog that deserves the media’s sympathy. It is a narrative that perpetuates the conflict (through feeding Palestinian intransigence to negotiate in good faith) thus resulting in more Israeli and Palestinian blood and suffering, and also in the continuation of the oppression of gays and women in the Palestinian territories – for who is going to address this oppression as long as the Israel- Palestine conflict is not resolved? How can the Palestinian activists who might really care about women and gays come up with effective resistance to the backwards Palestinian culture without being accused as pawns of the West?

    Not that Mr Weiss is concerned the slightest about Palestinian women or gays. But it seems that the same is true for our mass media.

    PS: Mr Weiss, don’t tell the Palestinians that the West should treat them like western gays, they are bound to misinterpret both it and your good intentions, and you never know how violent they may become if their alpha-male honor is hurt – oh, and don’t tell them that you are a Jew, didn’t you see what happened to that Israeli film director who was advocating for the Palestinians?

  11. Here are the normal Palestinians that Mr Weiss wants to create sympathy for: the website Miftah.


    I quote from the link:

    Miftah describes itself this way:

    “Established in Jerusalem in December 1998, with Hanan Ashrawi as its Secretary-General, MIFTAH seeks to promote the principles of democracy and good governance within various components of Palestinian society; it further seeks to engage local and international public opinion and official circles on the Palestinian cause. To that end, MIFTAH adopts the mechanisms of an active and in-depth dialogue, the free flow of information and ideas, as well as local and international networking”.

    Hanan Ashrawi, a darling in the Western media, remains the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Miftah.

    In Miftah’s Arabic edition there is an article railing against President Obama’s speech to Israeli students. But one part of the speech particularly raised the ire of the author, Nawaf al-Zaru.

    The Miftah speaks in accordance with the demands of the human rights jargon: democracy, dialogue, free flow of information etc.

    But what did the particular article include? A blood-libel against the Jews, an old-style one:

    Much of the chatter and gossip about historical Jewish blood rituals in Europe are real and not fake as they claim; the Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover …

    These are the normal Palestinians, the “moderate” ones. In a sense, they are indeed normal: all demopaths are like this, they talk the human rights talk, but they occasionally slip when they speak in Arabic – hate is as uncontainable as Iran, one might observe.

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