Author Archives: Richard Landes

Suicidal Mainstream News Media: Outsourcing Anti-Semitism to European Jihadis

The following is a (long version) of the paper I present at the European Union Studies Association, meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Boston, on Friday, March 5, 2015.

Suicidal Mainstream News Media:

Outsourcing Anti-Semitism to European Jihadis

An alarming development occurred this last summer, at least from the point of view of people who believe in the post-Holocaust consensus about human rights and free societies in a peaceful global community, for those who believe that Nie Wieder would the madness that generated World War II return to invade European culture. This summer, throughout Western Europe and Scandinavia, gangs of crudely armed rioters ran through the streets shouting “Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the Gas!…”; “Death to Jews! Slit Jews Throats!” This proliferation of sometimes deadly attacks on Jews has convinced some observers that at current rates of open hostility, Europe will have no more Jews in little more than a generation.

In 2000, when the European Union looked forward to a new period of global prominence – one book title read Why Europe will run the 21st centuryif you had told the leaders of the French, or any other Western European democracy, that in the opening decades of the 21st century, increasingly unrestrained Muslim Jew-hatred would drive Jews from Western Europe, they would have mocked your alarmism. Unthinkable! Impossible! Ridiculous. Islamophobic.

How did this happen? And what does it portend?

I can give you the five minute version and you can leave if you wish:

Fatal Attraction: The Shared Antichrist of the Global Progressive Left and Jihad

Fatal Attraction:

The shared antichrist of the Global Progressive Left and Jihad

Richard Landes, Boston University, History Department

From: The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, edited by Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm (2014), chap. 20.

(available in Kindle)

Abstract: In the aughts, the “global, progressive, left” (GPL), adopted a secular version of the Jihadi apocalyptic scapegoating narrative in which Israel and the US are the “great and little Satan” (or vice-versa). This overlap between two ostensibly completely different value systems has served as the basis for mobilizing a common struggle against the US and Israel over the last decade or so. In so doing, the Left has welcomed within its “anti-imperialist” mobilization, one of the most ferociously imperialist movements in the long and dark history of mankind, one which opposes not merely Israeli and American “imperialism,” but also targets the very culture of progressive values – human rights, peace, tolerance for diversity, human freedom – that GPL champions. BDS is a flagship (and symptom) of this self-destructive disorientation wherein progressives join forces with their worst enemies.


This essay is not written to persuade the reader that BDS is a movement unworthy of support by anyone committed to progressive principles. Anyone who compares Israel’s human right’s record – even the Palestinian version! – with the behavioral norms of Arab political culture, could not possibly take as sincere, the Arab insistence that Israel be put on the global docket for human rights violations. This is all the more true, when one scrutinizes the list of accusations made against Israel, and realizes how many accusations are not only false, but in some cases, indicate the exact opposite of their claims.[i] This essay is written rather to explain to those who want to understand how such an absurd inversion of moral and empirical reality could have made so much headway in the Western public sphere.

I write this essay as a scholar of millennialism who has been studying the emergence in the last fifteen years, of an active, cataclysmic, apocalyptic movement (the most dangerous kind). I also write it as a Jew who began his academic career believing in a self-sustaining, self-critical democratic public sphere and assuming the fundamental maturity and commitment of its participants. I write in defense of that sphere: for the maturity (and now, courage) of the academic community and, not coincidentally, in defense of my people who are being (successfully) slandered by hypocrites and war mongers. To those who believe they should listen to the “other,” I formally request an audience. My tale is not pretty.

Imagine all the people…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one… (John Lennon, 1971)

And now,

Imagine there are no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Something to kill and die for
And one religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life under our peace… (Jihadi Joe, 2015)

Welcome, Woodstockers, to the 21st century.

The Jihadi Apocalyptic Narrative: World Conquest and the Great and Little Satan


Imagine all the people…

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one… (John Lennon, 1971)


And now:


Imagine there are no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Something to kill and die for

And one religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life under our peace…

You may say, we’re dreamers

But we’re not the only ones… (Jihadi Joe, 2015)


Welcome to the 21st century.

William Keylor: Anti-Semitism in France (January 2015)

My colleague at BU, William Keylor drew my attention to this essay he wrote in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo affair this last January (about which, I wrote here). He has given me permission to post it here, where it can be tweeted and facebooked.

JANUARY 14, 2015

As a non-Jewish historian of France with several dear Jewish friends in that country, I read with great dismay the recent news articles suggesting that many French Jews are considering emigrating to Israel to escape the rising tide of anti-Semitism most recently demonstrated in the brutal attack in a Paris kosher market that left four Jewish patrons dead on the eve of the Jewish Shabbat last week.

Of course, Jews in any country have a perfect right to make aliyah to Israel any time they choose to do so, and, as Prime Minister Netanyahu declared last week, they will be welcomed there with open arms. What causes the feeling of dismay and regret in this longtime student of French history is not Israel’s potential gain but France’s potential loss.

I think of the extraordinary contributions that Jews in France have made to the vibrant intellectual life of that country:  The list would include, among too many others to include here, the names of Raymond Aron, Julien Benda, Marc Bloch, Jacques Derrida, Emile Durkheim, Claude Levi-Strauss, Darius Milhaud, and Marcel Proust.

In addition to such path-breaking pioneers in philosophy, sociology, anthropology, history, and literary criticism, hundreds of thousands of ordinary French Jews have played a productive and integral role in their country’s social and political life.  As France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls (who was born in Spain to a Spanish-Catalan father) has put it so bluntly: “If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France.”

The modern history of France’s relationship to its Jewish population is marked by high points and low points: In 1791 it was the first country in the world to grant civil equality to Jews. A low point came in the second half of the 1890s, when the unjust treason conviction and imprisonment of a Jewish army officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, for leaking military secrets to Germany precipitated a wave of anti-Semitism on the extreme right.

One of the observers of Dreyfus’s condemnation and of the cries of “Death to the Jews” that reverberated throughout the streets of Paris was the Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl. He subsequently founded the movement of political Zionism in part because the outburst of anti-Semitism during the Dreyfus Affair  in the most democratic, liberal, tolerant country in Europe persuaded him of the impossibility of assimilation and the necessity for a Jewish state to serve as a safe haven for threatened Jews everywhere.

A high point came when Dreyfus was eventually exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French army. The forces of liberal democracy, humanism, and tolerance triumphed over the forces of extreme nationalism, religious prejudice, and intolerance, which enabled most French Jews to feel secure in the secular French Republic.

Then the fall of France in 1940, the Nazi German occupation of the northern part of the country, and the advent of the collaborationist Vichy regime in the southern part ushered in another low point in the fortunes of Jews in France. Anti-Semitic laws enacted by the Vichy government severely restricted their rights. French authorities rounded up and deported some 76,000 Jews to the death camps of the Third Reich, of whom less than 2,500 survived.

In the decades since the dark days of 1940-1945, the Jewish community in France has thrived and prospered. Its 500,000 members represent the third largest Jewish community in the world (after Israel and the United States).  France has had five prime ministers of Jewish heritage, more than any other country save Israel.

The ever-present scourge of anti-Semitism was confined to the ideological extremes, from the right-wing Front National of Jean-Marie Le Pen to the proponents of Islamic terrorism such as that recently witnessed in Paris. (In recent years Le Pen’s daughter and political heir, Marine Le Pen, has replaced the anti-Semitism of her father with a virulent nativist rhetoric focusing on the threat to the French way of life posed by Islamic immigration from France’s former colonies in North Africa.).

Indeed, the principal source of anti-Semitism in France is no longer to be found in the old extreme right groups that had targeted Jews from the Dreyfus Affair to Vichy. It now emanates from the impoverished suburbs surrounding major French cities, where a small minority of unemployed, restless youth in immigrant families from North Africa and sub-Sahara Africa are attracted to the siren song of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State and are willing to commit terrorist acts to promote the cause.

More than 7,000 of France’s half a million Jewish citizens emigrated in 2014. Some predict that that number will double this year. Others forecast that half the population of French Jews will be gone by the end of the decade.

As the Jewish citizens of France contemplate the choice or emigration or the maintenance of their religious and/or cultural identity within France, the French government must leave no stone unturned in the process of protecting one of that country’s most precious resources. If it fails, to repeat the plaintive observation of Prime Minister Valls, France will no longer be France.

Citing the Quran to Infidels: The Dangers of Liberal Cognitive Egocentrism

[A Polish translation of this essay, “Liberalny egocentryzm poznawczy” is available at Listy z nas zego sadu].

The highly controversial White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism ventured into still more risky territory with a prayer (apparently the only one) offered at the proceedings. It was from an Imam and, at least the way it was interpreted by yet another, supported the principle contention of the Summit and more broadly the Obama administration, that Islam is a religion of peace.

Imam Sheikh Sa’ad Musse Roble, president of the World Peace Organization in Minneapolis, Minn., recited a “verse from the Quran” [Surah 5:32] following remarks by Obama administration officials and Democratic members of Congress.

Imam Abdisalam Adam, of the Islamic Civil Society of America, explained the verse.

In translation those verses of the Quran mean “Whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption in the land, it’s as if he has slain mankind entirely, and whoever saves one life, it’s as if he has saved mankind entirely.”

Note that President Obama used this passage in his Cairo Speech with precisely this meaning of peacefulness and prohibition on killing, as do many apologists for Islam. And we Westerners, born and bred in a civil society where such pacific sentiments are honored, are only too eager to believe what we are told. Indeed, here is a Muslim student, Sarah Aly, using this passage to attack quite forcefully people who quote the Quran out of context to promote hate.

sarah aly quran quote

Despite Sarah’s demand that we not take the Quran out of context, she not only misquotes the passage (“self-defense” is not in the passage), but precisely takes it out of context. Of course it’s in the service, allegedly, of stopping the spread of hatred, even as the context she eliminates gives sanction to both hatred and violence.

This passage is actually deeply troubling on multiple levels.

Brian Williams and the Reliability of the News Media

I’ve been watching the Brian Williams fiasco with a certain wry detachment. All this media hype about how Williams may have made up a story that misled his public, when the story is relatively anodine (self-promotion), strikes me as a displacement. Sort of like screaming about Israeli intimidation of the media when the topic is Palestinian intimidation. Makes you look like you care about accuracy even as you do nothing to i the real problems.

Now we have a story that illustrates in almost every detail the kind of accusation that Matti Friedman has made about the deceptive and dis-informing modus operandi of the media when it comes to Israel, and this time specifically with Brian Williams in the lead. Somehow, I’m guessing, when the hounddogs for truth sift through Williams work, this will either not get their attention at all, or, if it does, they will not find it worthy to pass on to their audience in the USA.

Note how both in the program, and in his subsequent excuse, Williams uses self-critical Jews to do his dirty work. Heaven forbid the public in the West should even be exposed to the idea that the settlements are not the core of the problem. (HT/ES)

How Brian Williams (and Tom Brokaw) betrayed my family

 February 9, 2015

Many people were surprised or shocked over the recent revelations that NBC anchor Brian Williams lied about his experiences on a helicopter in Iraq. I was not. The nature of TV news is to stage drama. It’s got to look and sound good on the screen for better ratings. Williams got caught up in his own fantasy: too many years, perhaps, of reporting the news.

When Williams interviewed my family in our home, he similarly staged a false drama in order to sell a story. And in that process, he betrayed us and his viewers.

Brian Williams interviewed our family in the late of summer 2004 about our sonKoby’s murder. We sat on the nubby sofas in our sunroom in Tekoa, in the West Bank, and he told us that he had been in the neighborhood — in Greece for the summer Olympics — and that is how he came to be in Israel. I looked at his pressed pants, his shiny black shoes, his clean shirt: impeccable.

Tom Brokaw was still the anchor of NBC news but I knew that Williams was set to take over in the following months. I asked Mr. Williams: “Do you have any special education about this part of the world?”

“No,” he said, to his credit. “I wish I did have more knowledge.”

I wasn’t surprised. After my son’s murder, I felt sure that journalists who interviewed us would be specialists in some way, experts in the history and cultures and religions of this region. But that was rarely the case. Knowledge was certainly not a prerequisite for an interviewer.

After talking about how we came to Israel, we told Mr. Williams that Koby and Yosef had been eighth-grade boys who cut school, went hiking in the canyon behind our home in 2001, and were murdered by Palestinians terrorists, beaten with rocks.

He sympathized and then asked whether Seth had a gun. Seth said yes—he had one locked in a safe upstairs in the bedroom.

“Would you mind going upstairs and getting the gun so we can film you with it?” his producer asked Seth.

Seth said no. We both realized that they wanted to stage a scene – to reinforce a stereotype, a visual of the angry rifle-toting, trigger-happy settler.

Brian Williams interviewed us for about a half an hour. We told him how Koby was not to blame, that the Palestinians had incited violence. We were told that the story would appear on NBC news sometime in the next week.

A few days later, we saw the interview on the Internet. I was furious. I wasn’t upset by what Seth and I had said. We were distraught about the way our story was framed. To open the segment, NBC interviewed an Israeli – an English speaker from Tel Aviv – about her views on the intifada. She sat on the couch in her Tel Aviv apartment and said: The settlers are a cancer on today’s society. They are the reason for all of the problems in Israel.

Then the newscaster said: And here is an example of the people she is talking about: Seth and Sherri Mandell. Settlers from Tekoa. And the camera panned to show us sitting on our couch in our sunroom.

Of course I knew the station wanted to use us to ignite emotion in its viewers. I knew that the media was about conflict, drama and ratings. But how could they malign and betray us like that? How could they mislead us into thinking that they were going to tell our story, our story alone? Nobody had informed us that my son’s murder would be folded into a specious debate about the settlements.

The next morning I wrote to Brian Williams and Tom Brokaw. I sent them an email that said that the way they had framed the broadcast was outrageous, and that they had done us—and the memory of our son Koby — an injustice. They had let the woman from Tel Aviv attack us without giving us a chance to defend ourselves. It was as if she and they had personally called us a cancer.

Tom Brokaw emailed me back. He wrote that the night the program had aired, he had been out to dinner with a Jewish couple, friends of his who had seen the broadcast and thought that it was just fine. A lovely Jewish couple who he had dined with had found the broadcast unobjectionable. Indeed they had felt that we, the settlers, were portrayed very positively.

This was his answer? That was his logic? That a Jewish couple he knew thought that the segment was a wonderful example of journalism. His defense seemed pathetic: no evidence other than an unrepresentative couple who were his friends. This is how the anchor of major network news supported his opinions, garnered his evidence?

I never heard back from Brian Williams. But I have learned this about some TV journalists: in order to create drama, they may omit and manipulate in order to heighten the story.

Certainly we should be saddened by this practice. But not shocked. Its just part of the business.

JBS will air discussion of New Anti-Semitism with Phyllis Chesler and me

Watch:  EMET’s panel on the new Anti-Semitism


When: Monday, January 26th, at 8pm EST on the Jewish Broadcasting Service (JBS) Channel. 


Featuring: Author Phyllis Chesler and Professor Richard Landes 


The program will also be streaming live at:


Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter. You may also support EMET by clicking here  

JeSuisCharlie? Reflections from Paris January 11, 2015

Reflections from Paris January 11, 2015

Is today the day that France woke up?

An edited version of this essay will go up shortly at Los Angeles Review of Books.

Le tout Paris is talking about it. Everywhere in Paris this week, we hear the voices of horror and astonishment and, now, pride. 2 million in Paris, 3 million throughout France; an Italian newspaper runs the headline, an Oceano Pacifico. A day of national unity in which everyone, whatever their other identities, was French: “We are all Charlie Hebdo. We are all Police. We are all Jews. We are all Free.” It was a magnificent show of solidarity; a collective reassertion of the social contract. It brought out all the best kinds of things that France is made of, that has made her a symbol of liberty and courage so great that even people who find the French, well, difficult, are nonetheless Francophiles. A news anchor notes, “Yesterday, Paris was, bel et bien, the capital of the world.” Or in the words of President Hollande, “la France est toujours le point du rassemblement du monde quand la liberté est en jeu” (France is still the place where the world gathers when liberty is at stake).

And what brought France, capital of the world, together in this show of unity? Saying no to the incredible — some say senseless — slaying of 12 cartoonists. A massive and emphatic statement of refus — refusal to “bend the knee,” to “be silent,” to tolerate the violence of the sword against the pen, to endure this assault on France’s core values in silence. In the words of the martyr in chief, “Charb,” taken up as the manif’s motto: “Better to die standing than live on one’s knees.”

All around one hears shock, astonishment. “Mais, where does this madness come from?” How could this happen in France?!?Draped across the grand monument, Place de la République: POURQUOI?


But some of us, however moved by the events in Paris, find it difficult to take unalloyed pleasure in this wave of communal solidarity. For fifteen years now, there has been a consistent stream of powerful evidence for all the trends that now, in this latest jihadi assault, so rudely shocked all of France:

#JeSuisCharlie? Réflexions de Paris, dimanche 11 Janvier 2015

Réflexions de Paris, dimanche 11 Janvier 2015

traduite de l’anglais par Isabelle Sfez.

Est-ce aujourd’hui que la France se réveille ?

Le Tout Paris en parle. Partout cette semaine, nous entendons des voix horrifiées et étonnées, et aujourd’hui, fières. Presque quatre millions de français se sont manifestés en un « Oceano pacifico ». Un jour d’unité nationale où chacun, indépendamment de son identité, est Français. « Nous sommes tous Charlie Hebdo. Nous sommes tous policiers. Nous sommes tous juifs. Nous sommes tous libres. ». C’est une magnifique démonstration de solidarité, une réaffirmation collective du contrat social de la République. Cela a révélé toutes les meilleures choses qui font la France, qui en font un symbole de liberté et de courage si grand que même les gens qui trouvent les français, disons … « difficiles », sont néanmoins francophiles. Un présentateur des actualités télévisées note : « Hier, Paris était bel et bien la capitale du monde ». Ou, selon les mots du président Hollande « la France est toujours le point de rassemblement du monde quand la liberté est en danger ».

Et qu’est-ce qui a amené la France à devenir capitale du monde, dans cette démonstration d’unité ? C’est de dire non à l’incroyable – certains disent insensé – meurtre de 12 dessinateurs. Une déclaration massive, catégorique de refus – refus de mettre genou à terre, refus de se taire, refus de tolérer la violence de l’épée contre la plume, refus de supporter cet assaut contre les valeurs de la France sans réagir. Selon les mots du « martyr en chef » Charb, mots qui servent de devise à cette manifestation : « Plutôt mourir debout que vivre à genoux ». (1)

Partout alentours on entend le choc, l’étonnement. «  Mais d’où vient cette folie? », « Comment cela peut-il arriver en France ?!? ». Suspendues sur le grand monument, place de la République les lettres : « POURQUOI ? »


Mais certains d’entre nous, bien qu’émus par les événements de Paris, sont sceptiques, devant cette vague de solidarité communautaire.

Quand la Ligne Maginot culturel s’écroula: Cours de rattrapage pour le debut du 21e siecle

Propos pour un cours de rattrapage au sujet des problèmes qui menacent un futur civil et pacifique en France.


Place de la République, 10 janvier, 2015


Il existe en effet une abondante littérature qui s’adresse aux forces djihadistes qui se sont si pauvrement faites sentir par le grand public français. Lorsqu’elle est apparue, la réaction des voix dominantes des milieux les plus variés des médias, de l’information, fut de les rejeter, de les attaquer en tant qu’islamophobie et communautarisme. Donc il y a un grand corpus d’informations et analyses auxquels aurait pu se référer le public français et républicain dans les années zéro (00s), au moment où le djihadisme se répandait en Europe et au sein des autres cultures démocratiques.

Mais parce que les professionnels de l’information, les journalistes, les universitaires, les intellectuels, dans une quasi unanimité, ont refusé de les discuter, le grand public français l’ignore – un corpus de la plus grande importance pour tout penseur qui essaie de comprendre ce qui se passe maintenant. Et même si ces textes ne répondent pas définitivement à la question « pourquoi ? » , au moins l’acte de relire cette abondante littérature permet de lancer finalement une conversation qui aurait due être ouverte il y a quinze ans.

Shmuel Trigano, Quinze ans de solitude: Les Juifs de France, 2000-2015

Nidra Poller, Notes from a Simple Citizen, 2000-2005

Martin Kramer, Ivory Towers in Sand (2001)

Emmanuel Brenner, Territoires perdus de la Republique (2002)

Pierre-Andre Taguieff, La nouvelle judéophobie (2002)

Ivan Rioufol, Chroniques d’une résistance : (Bloc-notes des années 2003 et 2004)

Jacques Tarnero, Decryptage (2004)

Bat-Yeor, Eurabia (2005)

Guy Millière, Qui a peur de l’Islam? (2005)

On the Corruption of the Media: Attkisson’s Testimony Helps Understand Mideast Coverage

If Matti Friedman tore off the veil from the AP’s modus operandi in covering the Arab-Israel conflict, then apparently, Sharyl Attkisson has done it for CBS’s modus operandi when it came to the White House over the past two decades. Apparently, Attkisson’s book is an update on Bernie Goldberg’s chronicling of a media militating for Obama with their coverage (A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media2009).

It’s still not out, but the following article by Kyle Smith offers some extensive examples of partisan corruption of the mainstream news media that we in Israel know intimately. Below I draw some (of many) parallels, in order to highlight the way the mainstream news media’s Augean Stables of encrusted bad practices has become a transnational phenomenon.

(H/T Amos Ben-Harav)

Ex-CBS reporter’s book reveals how liberal media protects Obama

Sharyl Attkisson is an unreasonable woman. Important people have told her so.

When the longtime CBS reporter asked for details about reinforcements sent to the Benghazi compound during the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack, White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor replied, “I give up, Sharyl . . . I’ll work with more reasonable folks that follow up, I guess.”

Modal Trigger

Another White House flack, Eric Schultz, didn’t like being pressed for answers about the Fast and Furious scandal in which American agents directed guns into the arms of Mexican drug lords. “Goddammit, Sharyl!” he screamed at her. “The Washington Post is reasonable, the LA Times is reasonable, The New York Times is reasonable. You’re the only one who’s not reasonable!”

It’s natural for any stakeholder (political, corporate, personal) to want to protect itself from revelations that embarrass it. Anybody who can (i.e., has power), threatens with loss of access, hence access journalism. Nobody who can does not favor favorable journalists, and punish with exclusion (at the least) those who tend to reveal unpleasant information. The question is, how far will they go? How does the naturally self-protective agent respond to the failure of access journalism to control the situation?

The role of the journalists in a democracy is to fight against this disadvantage for reporters who need access, to resist the kinds of pressures that powerful and influential people can exercise. The remark by White House deputy press secretary Eric Shultz, enumerates some of the more prominent of the submissive journals: Wapo, LATimes, the Grey Lady. They all play nice (reasonable).

Sharyl, on the other hand, is doing her job as a professional journalist with a code. Her kind of journalist was once the pride of the profession. She has, however, become “unreasonable.” “Reasonable” here means someone who knows that, in order to stay in the game (that of access journalism, not real journalism), they will submit their work to a self-imposed censure.

For those trying to understand the Middle East conflict, if mere partisanship (liberal vs. conservative) in the West could produce such damage to the screens upon which we observe our world, imagine what kind of an impact the implicit, constant threat of sudden death, has on reporters working in Palestinian territories.

Fisking Peter Beinart’s Compulsive “Blame Israel” Approach

Guest post fisking Beinart from Saadia Eisenberg. Beinart’s original article is actually deeply disturbing, evidence of a systematic need to indict Israel, based on a gratuitous hypothesis of Israeli ill will and desire to dominate the poor Palestinians. Full of the, “of course Israel has a right to defend herself against this inexcusable behavior, but… she really needs to make major concessions to the Palestinian good cops.

Among his many moves, Beinart argues a counterfactual designed to establish a fair marker.

If Abbas had declared that because of the Gaza War he no longer supports two states, American Jewish groups would have screamed with fury.

Instead, it further skews the sample, not only because it’s a faulty analogy (see below), but because it distracts from the real imbalance, Beinart’s own systematic use of a hermeneutic of suspicion against Israel (Netanyahu), never even remotely applied to Palestinian leaders and their negotiating strategies.

If Beinart were to apply to his analysis of Abbas (or any other Palestinian leader) the same principles of suspicion of bad faith, which he systematically applies to Netanyahu, this analysis would short-circuit in a flash. 

Where’s the bad faith here, Peter?

By Peter Beinart               |   Jul. 16, 2014 | 4:34 PM

What is Israel fighting for?

Most Jews think the answer is clear: Israel is fighting to keep its people safe from rockets. Most Palestinians think the answer is clear too: Israel is fighting to maintain its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (According to the United States government, Israel still occupies Gaza despite withdrawing its settlers because it controls access to Gaza from air, sea, and—along with Egypt—land. If the United States controlled whether boats could dock, and planes could land, in Canada, we’d be occupying it even if no Americans lived there.)

I don’t know what Peter’s source for the Palestinian viewpoint is, but Israel didn’t start fighting before Hamas shot their rockets. In fact, Israel accepted numerous ceasefires which Hamas rejected throughout this conflict.

Moreover, how does this escalation support Israel’s ‘occupation’ of the West Bank?

A tremendous amount rides on how one views Israeli intentions. If Israel is only seeking to protect its people, then Hamas’ rocket fire really is – as Israeli spokespeople insist – the equivalent of Canada shelling the United States. Even if you acknowledge that the Canada-U.S. analogy is flawed because Israel occupies the West Bank and Gaza while America doesn’t occupy Quebec, it’s still possible to justify Israel’s behavior if you believe Israel wants that occupation to end.

First of all, let’s leave the West Bank out of this. There are no rockets being fired out of it. Or into it. For the time being.

Moreover, Israel was not actually occupying — if you want to call it it that — the Gaza Strip from the disengagement until Hamas rose to power there. Granted, it was a short time, but even if Israel wants the occupation to end theoretically, how can they completely relinquish the terrain to a terror state?

If, on the other hand, you believe that Israel desires permanent dominion over territories whose non-Jewish residents lack basic rights, then Israel’s behavior doesn’t look all that defensive. That doesn’t justify launching rockets into Israel. Hamas’ attempted murder of civilians is wrong, period, irrespective of Israel’s intentions. It is even more egregious because Hamas rejected a cease-fire, which Israel embraced. But as appalling as Hamas’ behavior has been, it’s hard to endorse Israel’s response if it is aimed not just at safeguarding its own people but at controlling another people as well.

Again, if we’re talking about Gaza, the non-Jewish residents — who constitute the only residents, by the way; Gaza is Judenrein — lack basic rights because of their elected leadership, and on many levels. Their right to freedom of speech and petition is directly taken by their government, and the normal lives they deserve are taken indirectly, as their government forces Israel into occupying and blockading Gaza. And no, almost nobody in Israel views this as ideal.

Which is why Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments last Friday were so important. “There cannot be a situation, under any agreement,” he declared, “in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.” With those words, explained Times of Israel editor David Horovitz, a Netanyahu sympathizer, the Prime Minister was “insisting upon ongoing Israeli security oversight inside and at the borders of the West Bank. That sentence, quite simply, spells the end to the notion of Netanyahu consenting to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Publicly, at least, this is an earthquake. Until last Friday, Netanyahu was on record as supporting a Palestinian state. For five years, in fact, American Jewish leaders have insisted that he sincerely desires one. So what has changed on the ground to make Netanyahu change his mind? Nothing.

No, Peter. Everything.

Back in mid-July, before Peter (or any other analyst, for that matter) knew this, Israel had been in the midst of a quiet operation against Hamas in the West Bank.

Hamas had planned a military takeover of the West Bank, reminiscent of the takeover in Gaza after Israel gave it up. The PA was not stopping this; Israel was.

Now, had the Palestinians been more independent, and had Israel not got involved, they would have another ‘Hamastan’ terror state overlooking the coast.

This is very possibly what Netanyahu had in mind when he said in mid July that in no agreement could Israel relinquish more land.

Peter was unaware of these developments, but Netanyahu was.

Netanyahu now says he cannot relinquish control of the West Bank because Hamas could use it as a base from which to shell Israel, as it is now doing from Gaza. But that danger didn’t arise last week.

But we saw how tangible and imminent it was last week.

Hamas has been shelling Israel, and refusing to recognize its right to exist, for a long time. The argument for the two state solution—which most top former Israeli security officials endorse – has always been that once Palestinians gained the rights and dignity that came with a state, their government would have a strong incentive to keep Hamas and other militants from imperiling that state by using it as a launching pad for attacks on Israel, as the governments of Egypt and Jordan have done in the decades since they signed peace deals.

But thanks to Hamas’s popularity and power, this ‘government’ may be run by Hamas itself, who would have no reason to stop themselves from attacking Israel. As is proven time and time again, Hamas does not care as much for the Palestinians and they would like to claim.

One can dispute this logic. But it is no less persuasive this week than it was last week. And last week, Netanyahu publicly supported a Palestinian state.

First of all, it is far less persuasive than it was last week.

Second of all, a Palestinian state could be in the PA-controlled territories. Why must Israel give over land for a Palestinian state? There are ways of working out the contiguity problem, such as tunnels and bridges.

In reality, what has changed are not Netanyahu’s views but his willingness to publicly acknowledge them. Bibi is a man, after all, who in A Durable Peace, his major book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, reissued in 2000, repeatedly compares a Palestinian state to the Nazi takeover of the Sudetenland.

Some background: the year 2000, Second Intifada. The PA is headed by Yasser Arafat, who funds and supports terrorists. If even the legitimate, ‘moderate’ head is supporting terror, which wants to eventually take over all of Israel, who is to say this isn’t true?

When elected prime minister in early 2009, he still publicly opposed a Palestinian state. And even when he supposedly embraced Palestinian statehood that June in a speech at Bar Ilan University, his own father told Israel television it was a ruse: “He doesn’t support [a Palestinian state]. He would support it under terms they [the Palestinians] would never accept.”

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t support it. It means that the Palestinains won’t accept his terms. Again, Peter, this must be Israel’s fault, even if we’re not sure how.

Netanyahu has made no effort to get his Likud Party to endorse Palestinian statehood nor did he try to prevent it from running a parliamentary slate in 2013 dominated by avowed two state opponents.

The Likud slate was chosen by the Likud members, not by Netanyahu himself. Netanyahu tried to promote his own political allies, with partial success.

He’s doubled funding for settlements.  And according to the best reporting on John Kerry’s now-aborted peace effort, Netanyahu adamantly refused to discuss the boundaries of a Palestinian state while insisting, according to U.S. negotiators, that Israel’s “control of the West Bank would continue forever.”

What constitutes the ‘best reports’, Peter? The one that makes Israel look the worst?

Even Abbas recognizes that Israel will always control some of the West Bank (in mutually agreed upon swaps). Netanyahu himself said — to Israel’s public — that Israel would have to relinquish some territories, so these American officials could not have meant all of the West Bank either. So what is so bad about that?

All of which is to say that Netanyahu’s statement last Friday, as Horovitz correctly observes, did not represent “a new, dramatic change of stance by the prime minister. It was a new, dramatic exposition of his long-held stance.”

No, it is different from what he told the israelis during the negotiations. There were new circumstances, and his position shifted accordingly.

Why is Netanyahu coming clean now?

Because he saw the imminent Hamas plan to take over the West Bank, which Israel was forced to stop by itself, given the proven impotence of the PA to resist Hamas violence.

 Because he can do so without risking a confrontation with the Obama administration, which has given up trying to broker a two state deal. For all those on the American Jewish right who claimed that Netanyahu would grow more willing to compromise once America ceased its diplomatic meddling and simply offered its unconditional support, the results are now in. Without American meddling, Netanyahu feels free to broadcast his rejection of the two-state solution to the world.

Again, he still isn’t rejecting the two-state solution. He’s saying, justly, that Israel cannot give up land. Again, Israel cannot afford a larger, stronger, and more strategically placed ‘Hamastan’.

He’s also free to do so because he knows that the American Jewish establishment will not publicly challenge him. It’s extraordinary, when you think about it. Had Mahmoud Abbas declared that because of this week’s Gaza War he no longer supports the two state solution, American Jewish groups would have screamed with fury. But when Netanyahu does the same thing, they say nothing. As of Monday afternoon, in fact, not a single major American Jewish group had even commented on Netanyahu’s about-face.

Because unlike you, Peter, they recognize that they know less than Netanyahu does.

Moreover, one cannot compare Netanyahu’s statement to Abbas’s theoretical statement. Netanyahu continues to support a smaller Palestinian state but recognizes that he cannot give them too much land. Had Abbas not recognized Israel at all, this would be much more serious.

Netanyahu’s statement could be compared to Abbas saying he would not relinquish any land from the West Bank, not to Abbas rejecting the two-state solution. Indeed, by reading the matter as you do, Peter, you essentially take PA intransigence as a given, and identify Israeli concerns for their condition after an alleged

What this silence proves is that for major American Jewish organizations, publicly supporting the two-state solution has little to do with actually achieving it. For the American Jewish mainstream, the real purpose of claiming to support Palestinian statehood is two-fold. First, it maintains the fiction that Israel’s almost half-century long control of the West Bank and Gaza is temporary, which allows American Jewish leaders to praise Israeli democracy without grappling with the fact that Israel controls millions of people who cannot vote for the state that dominates their lives.

Should the USA have let Iraqis vote in American elections when they occupied Iraq?

They can vote in Palestinian elections. And had they not supported Hamas, the temporarily of the occupation would be much less of a fiction.

Second, it serves as a cudgel to wield against Palestinians. After all, were American Jewish groups to admit that neither they, nor Netanyahu, really support the two state solution, they would find it harder to brand Palestinian activists as anti-Semitic because they oppose the two-state solution too.

American Jewish groups do support the two state solution, as does Netanyahu, (as Netanyahu was also recorded saying secretly). They just feel it is impossible given the current conditions. (RL: Peter, your formula is actually pernicious: the very incitement to genocidal hatred that makes giving back the land no matter how much we might want to becomes the whiny complaint of people who don’t want to give the Palestinians their freedom, i.e., to destroy us.)

I’m not a pacifist. Although the images of Gaza’s dead sicken me, I could support this war if I believed it was aimed merely at safeguarding the right of Israelis to live free of terror. That’s why I found it easier to justify Ehud Olmert’s Gaza War in 2008. Because back then Israel had a prime minister who genuinely wanted to end its unjust, undemocratic dominion over millions of Palestinians.

Leaving aside Peter’s neglect of the fact that Abbas rejected Olmert’s offer of virtually 100% of the lands Abbas demanded, we must make note of the fact that he has called the occupation ‘unjust’. He is forgetting that Israel conquered the West Bank in a defensive war from Jordan, and has tried to give up the land multiple times.

So by ‘dominion’, does Peter mean the security fence? Because that has saved tens of thousands of lives.

The electricity and water? Oh, right, Israel gives that to the Palestinians, who don’t pay their bills, or produce their own, for that matter.

Today, by contrast, Israel’s prime minister wants to make that control permanent. And that means Israel’s missiles are instruments not only of self-defense, but also of conquest.

In that case, why is the escalation only happening now? And why is Israel accepting so many ceasefires? And why, oh why, are virtually no Israeli officials supporting retaking Gaza and staying there?

How on earth is fighting hamas in gaza bolstering the occupation of the West Bank? Because it attacks Hamas?

And what does Israel have to gain from its ‘occupation’ or blockade of Gaza that aren’t security needs? There are no settlers in Gaza!

Netanyahu has now said as much himself. Even if our leaders won’t, American Jews must be prepared to listen.

Prelude to a fisking: Biblio of Responses to Maher-Affleck dustup

I am preparing a post (response to Fareed Zakaria) on the Maher-Harris-Affleck-Kristof dust-up on Maher’s show.

I think the issues raised there and in subsequent discussion, deserve close scrutiny, because, better understanding and weighing the evidence and arguments, could represent the point at which the conversation changes, and people start talking about real problems, realistically. We cannot afford to operate in this denial based community that continues to lose a cognitive war with global Jihad that we should be winning handily, a war whose loss would be catastrophic for civil society and progressive principles the world over.

Below is a preliminary bibliography of subsequent discussions of the exchange, crudely divided into pro and con. I welcome other suggestions of material and categories, as well as comments on the various pieces. Interested in pieces that analyze Affleck’s electric response (and performance). He is, I think, a good example of that form of Islamophobia that is afraid to criticize Islam. Indeed, he’s an enforcer.

In favor of Affleck:

H.A. Goodman, “Why Ben Affleck Is Right, Bill Maher Is Wrong, And Sam Harris Is Jaded About Islam,” Huffington Post, October 6, 2014.

Nicholas Kristoff, “The Diversity of Islam,” NYT, October 8, 2014

Peter Beinart, “Bill Maher’s Dangerous Critique of Islam,” Atlantic, October 9, 2014

Ben Child, “Ben Affleck: Sam Harris and Bill Maher ‘racist’ and ‘gross’ in views of Islam,” Guardian, October 7. 2014.

Reza Aslan, “Bill Maher Isn’t the Only One Who Misunderstands Religion,” NYT, October 8, 2014


In favor of Maher/Harris


Jerry Coyne, “Maher, Harris, Kristof, Steele, and Affleck squabble about Islam,” Why Evolution is True, October 4, 2014

Mark Tapson, “Maher and Harris Educate Affleck about Islam,” FrontPage, October 6, 2014.

Adam Corolla, “Carolla Defends Maher In Brawl Over Islam: Affleck Not Used To Sitting There And Eating It,” RealClearPolitics, October 7, 2014

Sam Harris, “Can Liberalism be Saved from Itself?,” Sam Harris Blog, October 7, 2014

Andrew Bostom, “From Obscenity to Clarity: A Factual Understanding of the Maher-Affleck Islam ‘Debate’,” Dr. Andrew Bostom, October 10, 2014

Robert Spence, “Five Ways Bill Maher Is Right and Reza Aslan Wrong About Islam,” PJ Media, October 17,;

Peace When: Ten Reasons why a Palestinian State (now) is Bad for the World

In (dis)honor of the Swedish and British initiatives to recognize a Palestinian state right away, and Meir Javedanfar’s announcement of a blogpost on the topic:

I write the following counter-list: 10 reasons why a Palestinian State (right now) is a bad idea for everyone.

Please note: I do think a Palestinian state is by far the most desirable outcome for everyone (except the jihadis), if we’re talking about a state that behaves the way European Union nations behave: they disagree, but understand they’re on the same side. If however, as is every person with power in Palestinian culture right now, they are bent on our destruction, then trying to make a state with them will weaken us and strengthen them (good for no one but the jihadis). I am a member of Peace When, not Peace Now.

  1. There is no serious evidence that the Palestinian leadership both “secular” (Fatah) and religious (Hamas) want a state of their own that will live in peace with an Israeli state. There is, on the contrary, ample evidence that they will treat anything they get as a staging ground for further attacks.
  2. The Palestinians have, for all their opportunities, never been able to set up the infrastructure of a responsible state. The miserable career of Fayyad illustrates how far from a transparent governance, a fair juridical system, a competent administration they are. Why create a sure failure?
  3. This likelihood is all the greater if they get their concessions by means that involve going around the backs of the Israelis and having things forced on the Israelis. In honor-shame cultures, any time a foe is forced to make concessions it’s a sign of weakness, and an occasion to make further (violent) claims.
  4. As the withdrawal from Gaza showed, Hamas will eat Fatah within months of any power vacuum. Thus it is a near certainty that a Palestinian state will become a militant Jihadi state. Indeed, Daesh (ISIS) would probably eat Hamas as quickly as Hamas eats Fatah.
  5. With 51 Muslim majority states in the world, 22 Arab states, all of them either failures or worse, none of them solid democracies, most of them consistently belligerent to neighbors whether Arab or Muslim or not, why on earth would the world community want yet another guaranteed failed, bellicose, fascist, Jihadi state? Giving the current Palestinian leadership a state is like giving a crack-addicted teenager the keys to a fully-armed tank.
  6. There are people with a much greater claim on the world community’s values to have a state, peoples with their own language, in some cases their own religion, their own (real) history: Kurds, Berbers, Tibetans, Tamils, Chechens, etc. To give a state to a group with the same language, religion, and (until a generation ago) the same identity, as 22 other Arab ones sets a terrible precedent.
  7. The West faces an implacable enemy in global Jihad. It would be nothing short of reckless to create another major opening for Jihadi forces to take root and use state privileges to expand operations (e.g. diplomatic immunity).
  8. Israel represents the only civilizational ally the West has in the Middle East (pace Obama’s delusions about Turkey and his BFF Erdogan). To undermine her in a battle for her existence by empowering a genocidal movement with state power would be little short of insanely self-destructive. Without Israel, no Jordan, no Lebanon (however dysfunctional). No intelligence, no counter-weight to Jihadi impetus.
  9. To give in to the tyranny of a democracy of tyrannies in the UN is to undermine the very principles of international democracy.
  10. At this time, with an incompetent if not malevolent Palestinian leadership, with global Jihad the “strong horse,” and a Western world falling ill to the disease of anti-semitism and the outbreak of an aggressive Muslim “street,” it would be suicidal to press so foolish a policy.

Le plus grand gagnant de l’opération perdante-perdante “Bordure Protectrice”

Le plus grand gagnant de l’opération perdante-perdante “Bordure Protectrice”

Dans l’univers à l’envers de la politique du Moyen-Orient, rien ne réussit comme un échec sur le champ de bataille et rien n’échoue comme un succès militaire. Alors, qui a gagné la guerre de Gaza ?

Traduction par Isabelle Sfez de l’article publié par American Interest le 04 septembre 2014

Une traduction polonaise par Malgorzata Koraszewska est aussi disponible.

Après des semaines passées à suivre les combats dans la bande de Gaza, les experts se posent maintenant la question : «Qui a gagné?”. Le Hamas revendique des points juste pour survivre, malgré le pilonnage massif que son leadership et ses structures ont subi, et certains experts disent qu’Israël (1), quels que soient ses gains sur le champ de bataille, a sérieusement perdu la “guerre cognitive”. Dans l’univers à l’envers de la politique du Moyen-Orient, rien ne réussit comme l’échec sur le champ de bataille et rien n’échoue comme le succès militaire.

Parmi les joueurs auxiliaires, il ya des perdants partout. La crédibilité de journalistes a été dangereusement endommagée. Le Conseil des droits de l’homme et les ONG des « droits de l’homme » ont été honteusement partisans; le secrétaire d’Etat des Etats-Unis John Kerry et le président Obama, étonnamment naïfs et maladroits; la gauche intellectuelle, honteusement d’extrême-droite (2), dans son adoption du discours antisémite. De nombreux analystes s’accordent pour dire que l’opération Bordure Protectrice (OPE) n’a produit que des perdants, et parmi eux de grands perdants (3).

Pourtant, un groupe sort gagnant de l’Opération Bordure Protectrice : les djihadistes européens. Pendant qu’Israël pilonnait un ennemi qui se cachait derrière des civils, des manifestants ont occasionné de graves débordements dans les rues, en Occident et des villes musulmanes dans le monde entier pour protester contre le “génocide des Palestiniens par Israël,” (4), ils ont même crié « Mort aux Juifs ! ” et “Juifs aux fours ! ” et utilisé sur Twitter le hashtag #Hitlerwasright. Des magasins juifs ont été saccagés, et il a été refusé des soins médicaux à des juifs (5), ils ont été agressés lors d’émeutes (6). Les commerces juifs ont été boycottés (7). En Allemagne, le cri se fit entendre : “Hamas! Hamas! Juifs au gaz! ” (8). En France, c’était “Mort aux Juifs! Égorgez les Juifs!” (9) Alors que les médias minimisent la violence et la haine, que la police et la justice résistent mollement, les Juifs européens font leurs valises (10).

Air Guitar Foreign Policy

air guitar foreign policy


Lookin good (in the mirror) H/T Human Rights Voices



The Biggest Winner in the Lose-Lose “Operation Protective Edge”

The Biggest Winner in the Lose-Lose “Operation Protective Edge”

A shorter version (edited for tone and length) is up at American Interest. If you leave comments here, I recommend you also leave them there.

After weeks of combat in Gaza, pundits sort out “Who won?” The weak side (Hamas) claims points for just surviving, despite the massive hammering its leadership and its constituents endured, while the strong side (Israel), whatever its battle-field gains, lost the “cognitive war” — big time. In the topsy-turvy universe of Middle East politics, nothing succeeds like failure on the battlefield and nothing fails like military success.

As for the ancillary players, more losers all around: journalists’ credibility dangerously damaged; UNHRC and UNRWA behavior, embarrassingly partisan; Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama, astonishingly clueless and blundering; intellectual left shamefully right-wing in its embrace of anti-Semitic discourse. Consensus assessment of many analysts: Operation Protective Edge (OPE) has produced only losers and bigger losers.

Only one group emerged from OPE a grand winner: European Jihadis. During the weeks of Israel pounding Hamas while Hamas hid behind civilians, demonstrators spilled out into the streets of Western and Muslim cities the world over to protest “Israeli genocide of the Palestinians,” even as they shouted “Death to Jews!” #Hitlerwasright, “Jews to the ovens!” Shops ransacked, Jews refused medical services, attacked in riots, Jewish businesses boycotted. For Jihadis, OPE offered a whole new, and possibly permanent, level of public violence. In Germany: “Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the Gas!”; in France, “Death to Jews! Slit Jews Throats!” This time, the chant has become a battle cry for bands of “youths,” armed with metal bars, running after Jews. And European Jews are packing their bags.

In the Jewish diaspora community and Israel, the alarm was palpable. “Time to go?” asked Shmuel Trigano rhetorically about France. Why? Not only because once again, people killed and sought to kill Jews in the streets of Europe, but because the news media continually played down the amplitude of the violence and hatred, and the authorities, both police and judiciary, resisted it half-heartedly. In France, as in England, anti-Semites no longer hide; unafraid of police, they roam the streets like the brown shirts of yore. Is this the “beginning of the end” of a two-millennia-long Jewish presence in Europe?

Jihadis, of course, delight in these new levels of both hatred and violence. For them, it’s a quadruple win: 1) depict Israel as the Dajjal (Antichrist) to Western audiences; 2) roam through the streets of Western cities yelling Jihadi slogans; 3) accelerate the expulsion of Jews from Europe as preparation for its conquest; and 4) keep the Europeans thinking this violence only targets Jews, and only because of Israel. For Jihadis, these past weeks confirm what they have long believed: that this is the Muslim century in which, among others, Europe joins Dar al Islam.

How did this happen? How did it get so bad before we noticed it? Are we observing changes of civilizational magnitude?

Global Consequences of Lethal Journalism: The Muslim Street

Rudoren, Intimidation, and the Horror of Affirming the Israeli Narrative

During Operation Protective Edge, Hamas’ strategy of endangering their own population and threatening reporters to blame Israel, became so crude, the façade began to crack. Indeed, the Foreign Press Association of Israel and Palestine released an unwonted condemnation:

The FPA protests in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month.

In response to the FPA statement, NYT correspondent Jodi Rudoren tweeted:

In a subsequent email exchange with the FPA, Rudoren called their statement “dangerous.” Lest some consider that further proof of journalists’ fears of the unmentionable, she clarified to Matthew Kalman:

I found the wording of the statement overly broad, and, especially given the narrative playing out in some social media circles regarding foreign correspondents being taken in by the Hamas narrative and not reporting on the war fully or fairly, I was concerned that it undermined what I consider to have been brave and excellent work by very talented people,” she said.

Note Rudoren’s ubiquitous focus on “narratives.” The FPA, in confirming pervasive intimidation, adopts the “Israeli narrative,” and confirms the “narrative playing out in some social media circles [i.e. what Anschel Pfeffer abusively calls the Jewish Jihadis].” That, in turn, undermines the “journalists’ narrative” which itself is under criticism for its remarkable similarity to the “Hamas narrative.” How can we let evidence undermine “talented, brave, excellent” reporters, and, not coincidentally, arouse the ire of those many players who insist on the value of the “Palestinian Narrative.”

The board was aware that any statement might feed into a pro-Israel propaganda campaign [sic] about the accuracy of reporting from Gaza that has angered many FPA members, but that did not deter them, any more than they had been prevented from issuing previous criticisms of Israel or the Palestinian Authority for fear they would be interpreted as anti-Israel or anti-PA.

Note the ease with which the FPA refers to Israel’s [strongly supported] contention about the inaccuracy of Palestinian claims as “propaganda” even as they have a long history of recycling Palestinian propaganda as news. I think this may relate to the most fundamental rule in the Hamas/Palestinian Media Protocols. Journalists may pass on any given piece of Pallywood staging or lethal narrative, but they cannot reveal the staging; they may demur in denouncing Israel for an own-goal Hamas-caused Palestinian tragedy, but they cannot reveal Hamas’ responsibility.

Above all, the most important principle at work here: do not undermine the Palestinian narrative; do not support the Israeli one. That, above all, is the “danger” Rudoren worries about. Far more candid than Rudoren, Matti Friedman puts it bluntly:

Our narrative was that the Palestinians were moderate and the Israelis recalcitrant and increasingly extreme. Reporting the Olmert offer—like delving too deeply into the subject of Hamas—would make that narrative look like nonsense. And so we were instructed to ignore it, and did, for more than a year and a half.

Purely as a tale of a journalistic lapse in informing their audience of writing under persecution, as a case study of the dilemmas facing journalists covering an asymmetrical war where the weak side does not hesitate to use violence while the strong adheres to democratic standards, respecting a free press no matter how hostile, this issue deserves a curriculum of its own in journalism school, and a literature in journalistic ethics.

The Dilemma of the 21st Century Liberal

A friend sent me the following.



This is our dilemma. We face an implacable enemy who wants to destroy and subject us. The enemy openly proclaims his beliefs, even acts savagely on those beliefs, and we don’t want to know that we have enemies like that. Surely, as people say so often to the Israelis, if you sat down with Hamas, I’m sure you could work something out.

We want to be nice; we don’t want to be mean. And we end up being nice to the mean and mean to the nice. If we understand that we face an apocalyptic enemy who views the “other,” the infidel, as evil that must be destroyed, then we can’t keep telling ourselves that money and economic programs will solve the problem.

As a colleague said to me once about Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, “I wouldn’t have that on my shelf.” She was a candidate for membership in “Historians against War along with the colleague who told me that if the Palestinians did suicide bombing, it’s because “what choice did they have.” In theory, an end to war is a messianic fantasy, not a scholarly discipline; in practice it means activists mistake the worst imperialists for allies an anti-imperial movement.

denver al sadr

It takes effort to get this stupid.


Anshel Pfeffer Loses Himself in His Navel, Denounces “Jewish Jihadis”

It’s hard when a journalist that you mostly respect, loses it, especially under pressure. Anshel Pfeffer’s article needs to be understood in the context of Jodi Rudoren’s remark explaining why she dismissed the FPA’s denunciation of Hamas intimidation of journalists during Operation Protective Edge as “nonsense.”

I found the wording of the statement overly broad, and, especially given the narrative playing out in some social media circles regarding foreign correspondents being taken in by the Hamas narrative and not reporting on the war fully or fairly, I was concerned that it undermined what I consider to have been brave and excellent work by very talented people,” she said.

Anshel is picking up the relay for Jodi in this effort to marginalize these “social media circles.” Ironically, one of the certain denizens of these “social circles,” Honest Reporting, has just come out with a discussion of the Top Five Major Media Fails of Operation Protective Edge, which corroborate precisely the claim that has Jodi (and Anshel) so exercised: 5 media fails = Hamas narrative.

Stop listening to the Jewish jihadis

Those who say Israel is always right and the world is out to get us are causing long-term damage to Israel.

By  Aug. 14, 2014 | 5:28 PM | 3A reception for new immigrants organized by Nefesh B'Nefesh at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
A group of arriving immigrants from North America at Ben-Gurion Inter Comments (3)

There is another type of Jewish jihadi, the online one.

Now I have a problem with this. It reminds me of the point at which I stopped watching the well-done if ideologically problematic TV show The Newsroom. The absurd premise (that the protagonist was a Republican and an equal opportunity critic, when the show was solely committed to making the Republicans look like a**holes) had worn pretty thin. But the point at which the protagonist (whose name I happily forget), finally gets the courage to defy the owners and go after the Tea Party, which he calls the “American Taliban” made turning the show off pretty easy. Tea Partiers don’t throw acid in the face of women whose behavior they find offensive; nor do pro-Israel Jews online slit people’s throats or rip them in pieces and drive their body parts through the streets. (Nor do they defend people who do do that.)

You want to call us Jewish cogwarriors, fine. Jihadis? you just show how little you understand about the enemy (or how little you understand about people who are on your side, even if you’re embarrassed by them in front of your “progressive” friends).

For the last few weeks they have had one mission – get on Twitter and be a constant thorn in the side of journalists covering this conflict, especially those reporting on the ground in Gaza. Some are actual employees of “pro-Israel” NGOs funded by Diaspora billionaires and coordinated at various discreet levels with official government hasbara departments. Most are self-appointed defenders of Israel who believe that by spending their days and nights online they are ensuring the survival of the Jewish State.

It turns out, they are on the front lines. The combination lethal narratives from Hamas (and other Palestinians) turned into news by the lethal journalists who, either under orders from Hamas, or out of some bizarre underdogma-driven advocacy, has endangered not just Israel and the Palestinians, but the rest of the world as well.

Together they have stoked an ongoing debate on journalistic ethics, a field they know nothing about.

Wow! Shades of Enderlin and associates insisting that civilian critics know nothing about real journalism and therefore have no right to criticize real journalists, that they’re merely meddling where they don’t belong, and that their criticism is a form of infringement on the free press.

The media is not above reproach, and the question of to what degree interference and pressure by Hamas affected the coverage is a legitimate one. Many seasoned correspondents in Gaza insist they experienced no effective censorship, while others have said they were subject to intimidation. A statement by the Foreign Press Association denouncing these Hamas actions is currently dividing the foreign press corps, many of whom feel that denunciation has undermined their credibility.

Indeed it has and should. But Anshel stands with Jodi on the denial side (ie the credibility of the journos): Foreign press: Hamas didn’t censor us in Gaza, they were nowhere to be found.