Category Archives: black hearts

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.

Hangin’ on rekaB Street: The Stupefaction of the West

I’d like to introduce a new term: rekaB Street. That’s Baker Street spelled backwards, and it represents the opposite of Sherlock Holmes’ approach: rather than notice the anomalies and detect evidence of criminal or shameful activity that people have deliberately tried to conceal, residents of rekaB Street systematically ignore any clues that violate the expectations/demands of their preconceived narrative, sweeping aside the anomalies and highlighting precisely what has been created to mislead. It is, in a sense, a process of auto-stupefaction.

RekaB Street exists in many fields.

In a sense, Thomas Kuhn’s book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, focuses on the problem, in particular, on the resistance to anomalies that contradict the paradigm. He cites a study by Bruner and Postman about how the resistance to anomalies that violate expectations can be so strong that people can literally not see that a deck has some playing cards with red spades and black hearts. The authors note the psychological discomfort felt by people confronting these anomalies (which their minds literally do not want to see).

In my own chosen field of medieval history, I have found precisely this kind of resistance. My early (and now current) work focused on a substantial trail of evidence indicating that for over half a millennium, Latin Christians had been tracking the advent of the year 6000 from the Creation (at which point the millennial kingdom would begin), but that as the date approached, the clergy (our unique source for documentation) dropped the dating system and adopted another that pushed off the apocalyptic date. Among the many events of note that coincided with the advent of these disappeared dates was the coronation of Charlemagne, held on the first day of the year 6000 according to the most widely accepted count, but dated by observers as AD 801.

I argued this “silence,” on something so critical reflected not indifference, but deep anxiety. Like Conan Doyle’s “Silver Blaze,” the main clue was the dog who did not bark. In response, I found that medievalists clung to their view of Charlemagne as someone with his feet firmly planted on the ground, who would never be moved by such silliness. As a result they handled the evidence in ways that resembled the work of clean-up and construction crews rather than that of detectives and archeologists.

Since 2000, the reigning approach for understanding the Middle East conflict between Israel and her neighbors has focused narrowly on the what’s called the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” The resulting (or founding) paradigm for such an approach is what I’ve called either PCP 1 (politically-correct paradigm) or PCP 2 (post-colonial paradigm). In both cases, the framing conceit is the Israeli Goliath and the Palestinian David. And so powerful is the underdogma that governs this view that all evidence to the contrary gets swept aside. So insistent are the demands to support the underdog, that the cost of ignoring empirical reality seem a small price to pay.

What results, is a process of determined, deliberate stupefaction, in which we must inhabit rekaB Street, we must ignore critical evidence, bow down to ghoulish idols, literally render ourselves stupid. We must not talk about honor-shame culture much less adopt a paradigmatic view that privileges such concerns in understanding the Arab/Muslim hatred of an independent Jewish state in Dar al Islam. We should not discuss Islam’s triumphalist obsession with dominating and humiliating non-believers. We cannot discuss anti-Semitism or the Holocaust without equating it with Islamophobia, lest we offend people we might identify as agents of a new blood-dimmed tide. We cannot discuss the repeated evidence that our humanity is being systematically abused to benefit people who literally embody everything that we progressive, democratically-minded people abhor.

And as a result, we are fully misinformed by our media and our academics, who think that “attacking the most powerful” is a sign of courage regardless of who’s right, who prefer to preen about their moral superiority even at the direct cost of empowering those holding their morality in contempt, who attack their critics savagely even as they embrace their enemies; who can’t tell parody from reality because the procrustean beds they impose on the evidence have led them to invert empirical reality.

Thus babies killed by Hamas become the occasion of cries for sympathy for Gazans assaulted by Israel. And terrorists who disguise themselves as journalists become the occasion for accusing Israel of deliberately killing journalists.  An army which undergoes a disastrous defeat, gets handed laurels of victory for their performance. The world’s army with (by far) the best record when it comes to reducing civilian casualties on the other side in urban warfare get’s painted at the world’s most brutal army. And people who target civilians at any cost, including suicide, get painted as heroes of resistance.

The inhabitants of rekaB Street will not break step with the parade of the naked emperor no matter what that reveals about their own stupidity.

Of course were this merely a children’s tale for adults, the tailors merely financial tricksters, the emperor merely vain, and the court merely foolish and frightened of losing face, it might be alright (don’t want to impose too high standards here). But when the tailors are malevolent agents of a ruthless cognitive war of aggression, when the “new clothes” are icons of hatred designed to arouse genocidal fury against the very people witnessing the parade, and when the courtiers are aggressively dishonest, some alarm bells should be going off. We – the Western intelligentsia in particular – are in the running for a Darwin Award.

If we do survive this challenge, there will arise an entire field of scholarly research dedicated to exploring the tendencies of intellectuals to commit civilizational suicide.

Humiliating Slip in Hamas’ Cannibalistic Cognitive War Strategy: Haniyah and Kandil Kiss Baby Hamas Killed

Humiliating Slip in Hamas’ Cannibalistic Cognitive War Strategy: Haniyah and Kandil Kiss Baby Hamas Killed

Here’s a classic. Let’s start with the ghoulish display of sorrow over the body of a dead boy, allegedly killed by Israeli bombing. It’s aimed right at the heart of a someone like Annie Lennox who, upon seeing bombs falling on Gaza immediately imagines Palestinian babies on the receiving end, rather than Hamas militants targeting Israeli babies. And, of course, the news media snatch up the photo-op.

Haniya and Egyptian PM Kandil mugging for the cameras Remember this from Kafr Qana, Lebanon, July 30, 2006: Green Helmet Guy with dusty baby and clean baby toy clip, July 30, 2006. And, of course, the media run with the story. It’s all so obvious. Boy dead from explosion, Israelis bombing Gaza. As the Palestinian “general” in charge of the investigation of Al Durah’s death put it, “there’s no need to investigate when we know who did it. But wait, what about the evidence, asks Elder of Baker Street?

The Dead Baby War: Fisking Max Fisher

The Dead Baby War:

Reflections on Palestinian Thanatography and Western Stupefication

Max Fisher, formerly of the Atlantic Monthly, now the WaPo’s “foreign policy advisor,”  just posted a reflection on the war of images in the current Gaza operation. In it he makes every effort to be “even-handed.” And in the end, comes up empty-handed. A remarkable example of how intelligent people can look carefully at evidence and learn nothing. If I didn’t know better (which I don’t), I might think he was doing some “damage control,” if not for Hamas (in which case, presumably it would be unconscious), then for the paradigm that permits him not to acknowledge Hamas’ character.

The Israeli-Palestinian politics of a bloodied child’s photo

Posted by Max Fisher on November 16, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Left, a journalist for BBC Arabic holds his son’s body. Center, an emergency worker carries an Israeli infant from the site of a rocket strike. Right, Egypt’s prime minister and a Hamas official bend over a young boy’s body. (AP, Reuters, Reuters)

Wars are often defined by their images, and the renewed fighting between Israel and Gaza-based Hamas has already produced three such photographs in as many days. In the first, displayed on the front page of Thursday’s Washington Post, BBC journalist Jihad Misharawi carries the body of his 11-month-old son, killed when a munition landed on his Gaza home. An almost parallel image shows an emergency worker carrying an Israeli infant, bloody but alive, from the scene of a rocket attack that had killed three adults. The third, from Friday, captures Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, in his visit to a Gazan hospital, resting his hand on the head of a boy killed in an airstrike.

Each tells a similar story: a child’s body, struck by a heartless enemy, held by those who must go on. It’s a narrative that speaks to the pain of a grieving people, to the anger at those responsible, and to a determination for the world to bear witness. But the conversations around these photos, and around the stories that they tell, are themselves a microcosm of the distrust and feelings of victimhood that have long plagued the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Studiously even-handed. One of my favorite memes: “both sides…”

The old arguments of the Middle East are so entrenched that the photos, for all their emotional power, were almost immediately pressed into the service of one side or another.

Actually, there’s a huge difference between the sides. Israel has, over the years, shown enormous reluctance to use the photos of their dead and wounded to appeal for public sympathy; whereas Palestinians have actually created victims in order to parade their suffering in front of the public. Indeed, Palestinian TV revels in pictures of the dead (so much so, that when my daughter wanted to help me with some logging of PLO TV footage, I had to decline lest she be brutalized by the material). They systematically use the media to both arouse sympathy from an “empathic” West, and to arouse hatred and a desire for revenge among Arabs and Muslims. Nothing uglier.

Israel, on the other hand, studiously avoids pictures of the dead, and only a shocking incident like Ramallah can break those taboos. They were so reluctant to exploit these images that, even at the height of the suicide campaign (2002-3) they refused to release pictures of the dead victims. The two cultures could not be more different on this score, and yet, Fisher has no problem finding his symmetry.

To obfuscate this fundamental difference with a pleasing even-handedness symbolizes the literal stupefication of our culture that necessarily accompanies the politically correct paradigm (PCP1), founded on a dogmatic cognitive egocentrism. It forces one not to see critical information. It’s as if we were under orders to not notice everything that a good detective should pick up on, as if we were required to assist the clean-up crews that want to frame the story to their advantage. In such a world, the protagonists of the Mentalist, Lie to Me, Elementary, CSI, House, are not merely unwelcome, they are banished.

Response to Ron Radosh: The Demotic vs. the Self-Destructivist Left

Dear Ron Radosh,

In a column on Judith Butler and the anti-Semitic left, you put out a challenge to those of us who would still like to consider ourselves “on the left” but don’t have Israel Derangement Disorder.

The logic of the left is the same logic its ancestors used to defend Stalinism in its heyday — the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and the enemy of the left is Western democracy, as it exists in both the United States and Israel. Butler’s anti-Americanism and anti-Israel posturing defines the left.

Isn’t it time for good men like Landes and Geras to face reality, and to stop trying to get the left to change its tune? The fight to defend Israel must henceforth include the effort to fight the left, whose agenda, as always has been the case, leads to horrendous ends.

I’d like make a distinction between a “demotic” left and revolutionary left, and then address why the sharp differences between those two styles of “being left” have been lost in the last decade(s).

First, everything that you describe as “left” is actually “revolutionary left.” They are the ones who served as useful idiots for the Stalinists back then, and who, today, as Dan Pipes chronicles, serve as useful infidels for the Islamist Jihadis. They in fact pursue – like Marx – a profoundly apocalyptic millennial agenda that wants to radically transform/perfect society and the world now. So while they derive their ideology from demotic leftist principles – egalitarianism, anti-imperialism, dignity of manual labor, un-coerced cooperation and sharing – their impatience draws them into a whirlwind of emotions that end up compromising the very principles they began with. Marx made some very fine distinctions between crude (rohe) Communism, based on “universalizing envy” of others, and (presumably) the real thing (based on generosity?).

I’d like to define demotic principles (which are also “liberal” principles) as the behavior of free people, entering with personal dignity into uncoerced relations with others (Die Würde freiwilliger menschlicher Interaktion). This means the renunciation of coerced, domineering relations at multiple levels in social and political interaction. These are the basic principles that underlie fundamental demotic values like the dignity of manual labor (rather than stigmatizing laborers), equality before the law (rather than legal privilege, apartheid), and the value of every human life (rather than the sacrifice of the well-being of the many for the pleasure of the few). These are the basic cultural building-blocks of successful democracies, that is societies of abundance in which commoners are empowered. Carl Schorske argued that there’s no Liberal Party in England is because the liberals won: both the Tories and Labor were liberal (in comparison with real authoritarians).

No Cheers for Stanley Fish’s Tribal “leftism”

Last month, Stanley Fish wrote a piece on the Limbaugh “slut” controversy for the NYT column called “Campaign Stops: Strong Opinions on the 2012 Elections.” It’s, at least to my mind, a deeply disturbing piece, that reveals a political agenda people like Stephen Hicks have long argued lay behind the pseudo-relativism of post-modern thinkers.

Two Cheers for Double Standards

By STANLEY FISH

What is a double standard? It’s a double standard when you condemn an opponent for doing or saying something you would approve or excuse if it were said or done by one of your buddies. The double standard that is in the news these days concerns Rush Limbaugh, who called Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown, a “slut” and “prostitute” because she told Congress that her university’s health plan should cover the cost of contraceptives.

Limbaugh has not had many defenders (Mitt Romney said weakly that he wouldn’t have used that language), but some on the conservative side of the aisle have cried “double standard” because Ed Schultz was only mildly criticized (and suspended for a week) for characterizing Laura Ingraham as a “right-wing slut,” and Bill Maher emerged relatively unscathed after he referred to Michele Bachmann as a “bimbo” and labeled Sarah Palin with words I can’t mention in this newspaper. If you are going to get on your high horse when Limbaugh says something inappropriate, shouldn’t you also mount the steed when commentators on your team say the same kind of thing? Isn’t what’s good for the goose good for the gander?

These questions come naturally to those who have been schooled in the political philosophy of enlightenment liberalism. The key move in that philosophy is to shift the emphasis from substantive judgment — is what has been said good and true? — to a requirement of procedural reciprocity — you must treat speakers equally even if you can’t abide what some of them stand for. Basically this is the transposition into the political realm of the Golden Rule: do unto others what you would have them do unto you. Don’t give your friends a pass you wouldn’t give to your enemies.

So if you come down hard on Limbaugh because he has crossed a line, you must come down hard on Schultz and Maher because they have crossed the same line; and you should do this despite the fact that in general — that is, on all the important issues — you think Schultz and Maher are right and Limbaugh is horribly and maliciously wrong.

These are not so much judgments based on content so much as attributions of venal motives. Limbaugh is “malicious” – i.e., it’s not that he’s wrong, he’s bad. For Fish not to note the shift from content to character, from substance to ad hominem, seems rather sloppy. Presumably he knows the difference.

(Some left-wing commentators have argued that there is a principled way of slamming Limbaugh while letting the other two off the hook, because he went after a private citizen while they were defaming public figures. Won’t wash.)

Interesting that he waves away this option, which is the preferred rationalization among many. I am not particularly impressed with the distinction (everyone’s a public figure here in the sense that they’re weighing in about public policy in the public sphere).

The idea is that in the public sphere (as opposed to the private sphere in which you can have and vent your prejudices) you should not privilege your own views to the extent that they justify treating those with opposing views unequally and unfairly. (Fairness is the great liberal virtue.) This idea is concisely captured by the philosopher Thomas Nagel when he says that in political life we should regard our most cherished beliefs, “whether moral or religious … simply as someone’s beliefs rather than as truths.” In short, back away from or relax your strongest convictions about what is right and wrong and act in a manner that grants legitimacy, at least of a formal kind, to the convictions of others, even of others you despise.

It’s quite striking how often the gut emotions appear here – “despise…” “malicious…” “can’t abide…” Are political disagreements so visceral for Fish?

But there is an alternative way of looking at the matter and it is represented in a scene (which I have discussed previously in “The Trouble With Principle”) from the classic western movie “The Wild Bunch.” Two outlaws, played by William Holden and Ernest Borgnine, are talking about the gang of railroad detectives pursuing them. What rankles is that at the head of the gang is one of their old comrades. Borgnine’s character is dismayed at what he takes to be the treachery of a former colleague. Holden’s character explains that he gave his word to the railroad. Borgnine’s character shoots back, “That ain’t what counts! It’s who you give your word to.” What counts is who your friends and allies are. You keep your word to them and not just to anybody. Your loyalty is to particular people and not to an abstraction.

This is the classic notion of asabiyya described by Ibn Khaldoun as the highest moral principle: “my side right or wrong.” It is, by modern, civilized standards, a primitive notion associated with tribal warriors, self-help cultures (like the mafia), and patriotism (Gott mit uns). It’s precisely what people so often condemn among Zionists (communautarisme, “Israel-firsters,” “Israel right-or-wrong crowd”). That Fish would invoke it in a moral discussion in a culture based on “whoever is right, my side or not,” is rather astonishing.

Norway tries to deal with a wave of Muslims raping Norwegian Infidels

NB: I have received several comments and a letter from a Norwegian journalist questioning the validity of this report. We are checking into it, but as of now, there is no corroboration of the account that Yehuda Bello gives. Will update as soon as I know. (I have added the comments from the journalist below in the comments section.)

UPDATE: Ursula Duba, a writer of great integrity and courage has posted the following.

“The sentence “Norway’s justice minister blames Israel for Muslim rape wave” which is posted on Robert Spencer’s wall on FB (the link has been removed in the meantime, even though the headline  is still on Robert Spencer’s wall) and is also quoted on Professor Richard Landes website The Augean Stables should be considered a lie. The statement by Norway’s justice minister was allegedly quoted in a headline in ARUTZ SHEVA by Gil Ronen. From there it spread around the globe like wildfire. I never saw that headline in Arutz Sheva of Dec 5, 2011. As of yesterday or even earlier, the statement attributed to Norway’s justice minister is nowhere to be found in Arutz Sheva, nor does Gil Ronen offer an explanation as to why he altered the headline to “Muslim ‘Rape Wave’ Reported in Oslo” at http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/150378#.TuQadvKa8qM. Without proof as to when and where the alleged statement by Norway’s justice minister was made, the statement itself should be considered as untrue and as slander.
We owe Norway an apology. I herewith apologize to Norway for this slander. I hope that all decent people will join me in a) apologizing to Norway and b) will make sure that any such statements are in fact TRUE. Quoting a sixth or seventh blog as a source is totally unreliable. This is how lies and defamation run amok on the internet. I will have none of it.”

After more than a week of waiting for the people involved in this story to get back to me about what the real sources are, I have come to the conclusion that this is the most appropriate position to take. I apologize to Norway for running this unverifiable approach, and hope that they show the courage necessary to tackle this grave problem of rape.


Not “Self-”Hating Jews, but Jewish Scourges of Jews

Adam Levick of CiFWatch has a meditation on the problem of what I’ve called “hyper-self critical Jews.” Since I’m about to participate in a panel at the YIISA Conference on global anti-Semitism at Yale University later this month, I would like to encourage readers to comment so I can incorporate some of their ideas in my presentation.

The Guardian’s anti-Israel Jews, and a letter to my teenage nephew
August 11, 2010 in Uncategorized | Tags: Antisemitism, Antony Lerman, Comment is Free, Guardian, Hamas, Hezbollah, Nazi Analogies, Neve Gordon, Richard Silverstein, Seth Freedman, Theobald Jew | by Adam Levick

CiF’s Jewish Israel defamers

When joining the team here at CiF Watch, and attempting to understand why Jewish writers for the Guardian are often among the most vociferous in expressing their contempt for Israel, and so willing to demonize the state’s Jewish supporters, I had to get up to speed on the term “Theobald Jew.”

I soon learned that:

    According to the Benedictine monk Thomas of Monmouth in his The Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich (1173), it was an apostate Jew, a certain Theobald, who, swore that Jews had killed twelve-year old William, a tanner’s apprentice, to fulfill their “Passover blood ritual” in the fateful year of 1144—the first recorded such episode in a long line of murderous defamations.

The CiF contributors I refer to include Naomi Klein, Neve Gordon, Richard Silverstein, Antony Lerman, Seth Freedman, Tony Greenstein, among others. These Jewish writers don’t merely critique Israeli policy, but routinely engage in hyperbole, vitriol, and gross distortions. Their rhetoric is often spewed with hate towards the Jewish state, all but ignoring the behavior of her enemies – the terrorist and reactionary movements who openly seek her annihilation. Such commentators often infer that the democratic Jewish state (the most progressive nation, by far, in the region) is almost always in the wrong, is usually motivated by a hideous malevolence, and represents a national movement which they, as Jews, are ashamed to be associated with.

Freedman, for instance, has suggested that Israel is a theocracy – one which is on moral par with Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda. Gordon has on several occasions accused Israel of ethnic cleansing – once advancing such an ugly calumny in the radical anti-Zionist magazine, Counterpunch. Tony Greenstein has ardently defended the ugly comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, typically advanced by extremists. Richard Silverstein has called the behavior of Israelis serving in the IDF “subhuman“, and has defended Hamas from “charges” that they are an extremist movement. Naomi Klein actually accused Israel of being so cruel and sadistic as to “bury children alive in their homes.”

While, for the Guardian, employing the services of Theobald Jews serves to inoculate them from charges of anti-Semitism, such Jewish writers, in return, receive the progressive and universalist credentials they so eagerly seek.

The Misnomer of the “Self-Hating Jew”

Just How Crazy Have Europeans Become? Insights into the Flotilla Madness

Hopefully one of the benefits of the Flotilla Madness, in which a deeply morally compromised state (Turkey, with its record from Armenian genocide to the current Kurdish situation) got to set the international agenda with high moral dudgeon, is the number of people at last willing to look at whether the Emperor’s New Clothes are real or not.

In any epistemological crisis, as the anomalies become both abundant and painful to those who must cling to their paradigm of reality, there emerge almost comic moments, moments when the absurdity of this kind of dance of denial becomes laughable.

This happened recently in Europe – more specifically in Luxembourg. For 15 years, the French philosopher Robert Redeker has published a weekly book review for the Tageblatt, even after he ran afoul of radical Muslims who threatened his and his family’s life and drove him into hiding. And just last week, without any warning, they fired him.

This happened, not because of his “Islamophobic” remarks, but because of his choice of book to review – and to review favorably. The book? The latest study of the European descent into anti-Semitic madness in the 21st century by Pierre-André Taguieff, La nouvelle propagande antijuive. The journal not only rejected the review, but ended any association with Redeker.

But perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the story is the reason the editor gave for rejecting the review:

The readers would not understand that someone might be favorable to Israel.

In an irony that only the sane can appreciate, Taguieff had written specifically about the mentality the editor articulated. As Redeker noted in his review:

The blanket demonization of Israel is the daily bread of the media. That Israel is Evil seems to be self-evident. And yet, these opinions, that mutate into passions, are ideological constructions disseminated by a clever work of propaganda which Taguieff examines exhaustively. They recyle the old – the traditional Anti-Jewish stereotypes – in new forms.

Apparently, in reading those lines, the editor found not a description of her own mentality, but an assertion so absurd she could not allow it to be published. (Alternatively, this was just an excuse not to admit the real source of her anxiety, namely the fear that a favorable review of a book that tore the mask off of the Jihadi-Leftist hatefest might alienate the wrong people.)

As Kofi Anan said in 2002 about Jenin, echoing what Ehad Ha-am said in 1892 about the pogroms: “Is it possible that the whole world is wrong and the Jews/Israelis are right?” Don’t be ridiculous.

Robert Redeker, interdit d’écrire du bien d’un livre

lundi 14 juin 2010, par Emmanuel Lemieux

Le supplément littéraire du quotidien luxembourgeois Tageblatt a refusé la critique favorable du livre de Pierre-André Taguieff, La nouvelle Propagande antijuive (PUF), mettant également un terme à une collaboration de 15 ans avec l’auteur de l’article, l’écrivain Robert Redeker menacé de mort par des islamistes.

Robert Redeker, agrégé de philosophie, écrivain et ancien chroniqueur du supplément littéraire du Tageblatt.

    “J’avais ma page dans le supplément littéraire du Tageblatt depuis 15 ans, je n’ai manqué aucun numéro. C’était l’analyse d’un livre, généralement de philosophie. Pour le numéro de juin, j’avais choisi d’écrire sur le dernier livre de Taguieff. J’ai écrit un texte favorable à ce livre. C’est ce texte qui m’a valu d’être censuré. La directrice de ce supplément m’a écrit : “notre collaboration s’arrête là”.

Sec ! Viré ! confie Robert Redeker. D’après la rédaction en chef, les lecteurs ne comprendraient pas qu’on fût favorable à Israël ! ”

The Contempt of the “Right-Thinking” Peacock Rhinos: J-Street goes after Wiesel.

HT/David Winick

Elie Wiesel published a major ad, “For Jerusalem,” in several US newspapers, prompting President Obama to meet hastily with him and reassure him that he understands the importance of Jerusalem to the Jews. Jeremy Ben-Ami of J-Street responded with his own ad featuring a counter-attack by Yossi Sarid, one of the unrepentant architects of the Oslo process, that dismissed Weisel as misinformed, misled, deceived, and, worst of all, “imbuing our current conflict with messianic hues.”

This last accusation is particularly significant. Any religious affection for Jerusalem on the part of Jews appears on J-Street’s radar as messianic attachment, and since, by J-Street’s analysis, compromise on Jerusalem is a sine qua non of achieving peace, such feelings are impediments to reaching a “rational” solution.

Now one of my greater gripes with J-Street concerns the inconsistency with which they apply their principle that pressure should be put “on both sides.” When in doubt, their motto seems to run, squeeze Israel. I am open to correction, but I am unaware of one formal position that they have taken in which Palestinian concessions are the principle target of their actions or declamations.

So here, the fact that the Muslim claim to Jerusalem is not only historically weak, but filled with messianic overtones, indeed Jihadi messianic ones, at the core of an unrestrained apocalyptic struggle, has no bearing for him.

Only the Jews should be restrained from messianic urgings; indeed they should restrain their messianic yearnings to make room for those of the Muslims. Then we’ll have peace.

Barry Rubin, in a brilliant study of Assimilation and its Discontents, pointed out how Jews, eager to succeed in the modern world, found their talent for self-denial one of their most valuable tools, and, for example, would champion any people’s liberation cause but that of their own people. J-Street steps right into the mold, and in so doing, reveals just what levels of contempt it feels for anyone whose sensibility gets in the way of their own sure-fire recipe for peace.

And what if… what if such a strategy of self-denial and sacrifice for the sake of peace ends up backfiring? The fact that J-Street would have Israel carve up its capital to make Palestinians happy, without any attention to the religious stakes for Palestinians, speaks eloquently for a perspective I think as cruel to Jews as it is unwise.

For J-Street, Palestinians need not compromise on Jerusalem as their “capital,” despite the fact that when it lay in Arab hands, Palestinians showed no interest in making it their capital. It matters not that their attachment is part and parcel of a violent and irredentist demand for Palestine from the “river to the sea” for both Fatah and Hamas. It matters not that, in their demand for control of the sacred precincts of their “third most holy city,” Muslims treat Jewish claims with dismissive contempt.

Question for Jeremy and Yossi Sarid, and all the other believers that unilateral compromise will bring peace: What if Israel’s agreement to share Jerusalem, pressured by the Obama administration, produces the opposite effect on Palestinians? What if, rather than empower the moderates to produce matching Palestinian concessions, as you seem to fervently believe, it strengthens the position of the irredentists who argue “East Jerusalem today, Palestine from the River to the Sea” tomorrow?

J-Street: Is there a plan B here?

The Coke-Lite of International Law: Goldstone Speaks at Yale

Judge Richard Goldstone spoke yesterday at Yale in the framework of the George Herbert Walker Bush Jr. Lecture in International Relations. Obviously a most prestigious platform for someone of stature, but inappropriate for a figure who is not only highly controversial, but has done much to marginalize himself, as Noah Pollak and Adam Yoffie pointed out the previous day in the Yale Daily.

The talk did not directly address the “Gaza Fact-finding Mission Report” as Goldstone referred to it, but it did tackle the subject of “Accountability for War Crimes,” and Goldstone brought in Israel on occasion as an example of the issues he raised.

Perhaps the single most striking feature of the talk was its staggering superficiality. Goldstone might have a reputation (at least among those familiar with his report) for being biased, but not for being a lightweight. And yet in the less than forty minutes of his formal lecture, at no point did one get the impression that one was listening to a trained legal mind, much less a brilliant one. Most of the lecture could have been written by an undergraduate who combined entries at Wikipedia on International Law, Nuremberg Trials, Geneva Convention, and Rome Treaty, with a warmed over version of “war is not the answer,” and “why can’t we all just get along and follow the law?”

In the world of academia, where presumably we have high standards, such a mediocre performance – especially when widely praised – attests to a distinct deterioration in academic discourse. That people, like Phillip Weiss (below), can find Goldstone’s presentation “brilliant” and “wise” suggests that we are (once again) in an age of misapplied superlatives, grade inflation, and partisan judgments.

Goldstone’s initial discussion sounded quite reasonable: in order for “universal jurisdiction” to work in a court like the ICC, they have to deal specifically with “grave breaches.” The court has to have credibility, it must be trusted for its fairness, in order for it to work. And in order to gain that kind of credibility, it needs to focus on deeds that are “so shocking to the minds of people that they constitute crimes against humanity.” Proportionality is a matter of judgment, and in such cases, great leeway is given to commanders in the “fog of war” in making such judgments.

So far so good, although I confess I couldn’t figure out from these remarks why he ever took on the Gaza Mission. Could that letter to the Times from Amnesty International signed by three of the four future members of the Gaza Mission, including Goldstone, be a clue? After all, the signatories had expressed how the recent events (not the previous eight years of suicide bombings and rockets aimed at civilians), “have shocked us to the core.” Nothing similar appeared from these signatories at the death of some 20,000 civilians in Sri Lanka only months later, nothing about the millions in Congo. But the Israeli attacks on Gaza, in which, even by the most hostile Palestinian counts, fewer than a thousand civilians were killed, that “shocks to the core.”

I kept thinking to myself, “how could he, with these principles and concerns in mind, have accused Israel of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity”?

That impression was further confirmed when he began his most “interesting” discussion, of the principle of “equality.” Initially, the discussion seemed to reinforce my puzzlement. Equality relates intimately to human dignity: [below is a paraphrase taken from notes, the lecture will be available online in about a week]

…if some are given greater rights, the greater the inequality the greater the indignity… Most if all human rights violations are the product of such indignities… Without dehumanization people don’t commit crimes against humanity; the people who engage in genocide have already dehumanized their targets.

Isn’t this precisely what Elihu Richter and Maurice Ostroff had warned Goldstone about in their memos about the way Hamas operates. How could the man who says this have gone to Gaza and come out without a word about the industry of hatred and dehumanization that rules the public sphere there? Worse yet, how could this man say these things when his own report had allowed and highlighted a Palestinian “witness” accusing Israel of this execrable practice.

Ben Wedeman trying to undermine Israel on its Aid to Gaza: But even he has to admit…

Here’s Ben Wedeman in the second week of the war commenting on Israel’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, by supplying Gazans with aid.

This is a particular gem of MSNM moral and intellectual confusion since his overall thrust is that Israel’s aid is a) just PR for show, b) pretty pathetic given that “ironically, their actually bombing the place,” and c) that no one’s impressed in Gaza since Israel’s to blame for the blockade in the first place. In the process of dismissing Israel’s effort, he makes an error which forces him to correct himself in mid-stream, which then leads him in another direction. The result: a revealing piece of euphemistic nonsense well worth savoring.

Well Israel has allowed a steady number of trucks coming with humanitarian goods uh into Gaza. This rather ironically as they’re actually bombing the place they’re sending food in as well. My understanding is 66 trucks went in today, so they do want to be at least seen as, as uh caring or providing or allowing others to provide humanitarian relief to the civilian population. Uh, but that sort of thing doesn’t necessarily go down very well, because it’s only Israel that controls the crossings, uh, into Gaza, with the exception of the one in Egypt and uh so, therefore if Israel were to cut off the supply altogether, uh, they would depend on Egypt and that’s not a good, uh, place to depend on.

Let’s take this piece apart:

The Folly of Egocentric Empathy: Derfner does it again

I have a friend who thinks the JPost keeps Derfner on as a columnist is because they satifsy two needs at once: they get a “left-wing” columnist and comic relief. I admit that Derfner’s writing provides a fair amount of amusement, and I’ve long ceased to take him seriously. (He did do a good piece on a Druze honor-killing in 2005.) Now he surpasses himself in combining the lamest kind of cognitive egocentrism which he then presents as a courageous challenge to the meanest taboos of Israeli society. (HT:ALG)

Rattling the Cage: A taboo question for Israelis
By LARRY DERFNER
Dec 30, 2009 21:26 | Updated Dec 31, 2009 14:01

There’s a question we Israelis won’t ask ourselves about the Palestinians, especially not about Gaza. The question is taboo. Not only won’t anyone ask it out loud, but very, very few people will dare ask it in the privacy of their own minds.

However, I think it’s time we start asking it, privately and in public. If we don’t, I think there’s going to be Operation Cast Lead II, then Operation Cast Lead III, and each one is going to be worse than the last, and the consequences for Palestinians and Israelis are going to be unimaginable.

The question we have to ask ourselves is this: If anybody treated us like we’re treating the people in Gaza, what would we do?

We don’t want to go there, do we? And because we don’t, we make it our business not to see, hear or think about how, indeed, we are treating the people in Gaza.

I’ll let either masochists or humorists continue to read his article at the JPost site. I just have two major comments to make on his premise.

1) If we behaved towards other people the way that the Palestinians under the benighted leadership of Hamas and Fatah have behaved towards us, there would be no end to the Israelis — Derfner included — who would say we were getting what we deserved. (They say it anyway.)

(The idea that Israeli treatment is the cause of the Palestinians’ behavior, that somehow we need to understand their hatred and violence as a direct function of our deeds [rather than mere existence], is a nice illustration of masochistic omnipotence syndrome. We can change it all by changing our behavior.)

2) We know how Jews have behaved with those who treat them badly. Without sovereignty they were largely meek and mild; and when they did fight back (e.g., the Warsaw Ghetto) against things far more vicious than anything Israel has ever done to the Palestinians, they never targeted German civilians no matter how weak and desperate they were. Even Sharon, from a position of overwhelming superiority of force, when he took over at the onset of the second intifada and its staggering wave of suicide attacks on civilians, waited two years before striking back.

To make this comparison is already to misunderstand profoundly. To think it’s a brave and penetrating mental exercise suggests that my friend’s theory may well be right: the man is a (bad) joke… and one that doesn’t begin to fathom his own people, even himself. (As commenter 417 put it: “You can be compassionate without being stupid.”) Where’s the still-living Palestinian Derfner? Too smart to open his or her mouth?

Haiku on Arab Exports

It’s now the anniversary of my father’s stroke, and for a while there it looked like he’d checked out. The doctors didn’t help with their extremely cautious prognoses. But he’s improved consistently, and although we knew he followed conversations and “got” what was being said — mostly because he’d laugh in the right places — his articulation was limited. Today he gave me the punch line to this haiku:

    do arabs export
    more oil or hate? and
    which do people value more?

Christiane Amanpour interviews Goldstone: Fisking a Dysfunctional MSNM

Christiane Amanpour has a reputation for serious journalism. She certainly didn’t burnish her credentials with this interview. I’ll be doing a “Dialogue with the Media” on this next week.

TRANSCRIPT (HT/DS)

CA: Even some Israelis who feel that unless they investigate they’re going to get an international investigation. In the Jerusalem Post shortly after the report was made public one writer wrote that the kind of report that came out closed down what could be or should be a vital debate even before it got started because of the heightened nature of this precise report. He said, for instance a debate about, when does negligence become recklessness, when does recklessness slip into wanton callousness, and then into deliberate disregard for innocent human life.

This Israeli writer basically said that this is an area of legitimate debate, but because of the heightened feelings it’s probably not going to happen.

She’s talking about David Landau, famous for his “Oh Condi, it’s been my wet dream to tell you to rape Israel into making concessions to the Palestinians” remark, whose reflections on the Goldstone report I fisked here.

The point that both he and now Jessica Montell made is that, no matter how critical they are of the Israeli army, the notion that the IDF targets civilians is beyond the pale. Not for Goldstone though (see below).

RG: Well, you know, it seems now at least of the prospect of it happening and certainly there has been an active debate, if one reads, and I have been trying to keep up with to the best of my ability with the Israeli media, the report has opened a huge debate within Israel, and that’s a very good thing, and I think its opened a debate internationally and its certainly my hope that the effect of the report will have consequences in the future for the protection of innocent civilians in many places of the world.

On the contrary, the reaction in Israel — even on the Left — is almost across the boards sense that Goldstone blew it by going so far over the top. As for the international scene, only the far-far-left (i.e., someone who thinks the NYT is a warmongering paper) sees what Goldstone sees.

Even supportive editorials (no substance here) are published in marginal places (Mary Robinson in the Daily Times of Pakistan, Richard Falk in Electronic Intifada).

Contrary to his pious wishes, as a number of people have pointed out, the report stands every chance of making things much worse. But Goldstone, as shown in the report he produced, and somewhat like his epigone, Gideon Levy, has a prodigious ability to hear only what he wants to hear.

Goldstone: High Priest of Human Rights, Demopath’s Lethal Weapon

Melanie Phillips has a must-read analysis of the problem with the human rights community as it now stands. In so doing she has an interesting (and probably controversial thesis about both the biblical origins of human rights and the reasons why today’s “human rights advocates” have made Israel a major target.

I don’t have time to comment now, but will in the coming days. Meantime, I leave it to my readers to comment.

The ‘human rights’ witch-hunt
FRIDAY, 25TH SEPTEMBER 2009

As readers may know, I have had my differences with the American civil liberties lawyer Alan Dershowitz – specifically, over how American Jews can continue to support Barack Obama given his acute hostility towards Israel and appeasement of the Arab and Islamic world. Nonetheless, all credit to Dershowitz for mounting a devastating onslaught upon Richard Goldstone and his shocking travesty of justice masquerading as judicious analysis for the UN Human Rights Commission on Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. In this piece, Dershowitz accuses Goldstone of conducting a ‘kangaroo court’ in which he

    abandoned all principles of objectivity and neutral human rights.

And in this terrific piece he excoriates Goldstone’s ‘wilful and deliberate’ refusal to hear the other side of the story – Israel’s side: the most elementary precondition of justice and fairness. As I wrote here, the mandate Goldstone was given by the UN required him to be thus one-sided and unjust, singling out Israel alone for investigation and thus merely collecting the evidence to uphold the prior verdict of guilt – an utter negation of legal and ethical principles which he sought to conceal by presenting a dubiously revised version of his mandate which bestowed a veneer of even-handedness, while delivering precisely the rigged verdict that the UN had required of him. Dershowitz tears him to shreds by showing how he refused to take evidence from Col Richard Kemp, Britain’s former commander in Afghanistan who had previously stated that during Cast Lead Israel had behaved with globally unprecedented ethical care to avoid killing Palestinian civilians — evidence which would have holed below the water-line the blood-libel Goldstone was assembling from overwhelmingly partisan sources that Israel had deliberately targeted civilians.

Dershowitz has written countless powerful articles and books attacking the Israel-bashers. Yet his onslaught upon Goldstone has a different quality. It is a cry of anguish. He has clearly set out not just to destroy Goldstone’s report but to destroy Goldstone. Thus he states:

    His name will forever be linked in infamy with such distorters of history and truth as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and Jimmy Carter.

The reason for this all-out attack is surely that Goldstone personally embodies the two most nightmarish, perplexing and agonising aspects of the witch-hunt against Israel: that a malevolent campaign based on bigotry, falsehoods and injustice marches mind-bendingly under the banner of ‘human rights’; and that so many of its leading proponents are Jews.

Anatomy of (Self-)Contempt: Gideon Levy on Netanyahu’s UN Speech

Gideon Levy wrote a piece filled with contempt for Netanyahu’s UN Speech, which I posted last week. Now, having heard and read the speech, I’m amazed at what Levy says, since it barely even accords with the speech. In a sense what Levy has done is illustrate the famous Gary Larson cartoon.

what dogs hear
I tried to find the one with the wife yelling at her husband: “You are impossible. If you don’t make the bed right now, I’ll go crazy.” And he hears: “You…me…bed…now…crazy.”

What Bibi said; what Levy heard:


Netanyahu’s speech / Cheapening the Holocaust

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cheapened the memory of the Holocaust in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday. He did so twice. Once, when he brandished proof of the very existence of the Holocaust, as if it needed any, and again when he compared Hamas to the Nazis.

If Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust, Netanyahu cheapens it. Is there a need of proof, 60 years later? Or, the world might think, is the denier right?

Apparently Levy lives in a universe where Holocaust denial is a mere pecadillo of the extreme loony right. He seems unaware of the growing encroachment of denial — especially among his people’s enemies — or the increasing mainstream credibilty it now receives in places like Spain. Cheapen? Many of the people in that room (a lone Palestinian delegate was still there) think it’s a serious debate, and all who left think the Jews made most of this up.

This purist claim that trying to refute Holocaust denial should be considered cheapening the Holocaust is doubly revolting coming from someone who surely would have no truck with those who make the Holocaust a sacred issue, and on the contrary, whose work is especially appreciated by people who belittle the Holocaust. Indeed, Norman Finkelstein, who regularly dismsses Holocaust-mongering, and compares Israel to the Nazis — something Levy would never do — loves Levy’s column. (One might argue that Finkelstein is to Levy, what Levy is to Netanyahu in the Gary Larson cartoon.)

George Bisharat on Goldstone: Not a Shred of Self-Criticism

George Bisharat, Palestinian-American professor of Law, has yet another attack on Israel — his last one was an eager recycling of the hearsay from Israeli soldiers that Ethan Bronner so accommodatingly offered up to the NYT readership.

This time using the Goldstone Commission as the prompter, he again goes on the attack. What’s astonishing — at least to an informed liberal who appreciates self-criticism — is how utterly void of any ability to examine the conflict from any but the totalistic Palestinian victim narrative in which Israel is a) guilty, b) responsible, and c) should engage in soul-searching as a result of the report.

Goldstone report: Israel’s failings
A U.N. report finds war crimes in last winter’s fighting; now Israel must be held accountable.

By George Bisharat
September 18, 2009

Will Israel’s decades-long impunity from international law finally come to an end? That is the question facing the international community in the aftermath of the just-released Goldstone report.

Richard Goldstone, formerly a supreme court justice in South Africa and chief prosecutor in the international tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia, headed a four-person United Nations mission investigating both Israel and Hamas for possible war crimes during Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip last winter. The mission conducted 188 interviews and reviewed more than 300 reports, 10,000 pages of documents, 30 videos and 1,200 photographs. The Israeli government barred the group from entering Israel or the Gaza Strip (it reached Gaza, ultimately, through Egypt). By contrast, Palestinian authorities, both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, cooperated with the mission. The 575-page report concluded that both sides committed war crimes before, during and after the intense fighting in December-January.

This is a fascinating account. No one reading it would know the following:

  • The mission was stacked against Israel both in mandate and in composition of the “judges”
  • the hundreds of reports were from ideologically committed NGOs
  • the videos somehow managed to exclude the extensive footage of Hamas using civilians as shields
  • the Israelis were inhospitable because of the corruption that hung like original sin around the commission
  • and the Palestinians, especially Hamas, were hospitable because the commission would relay every claim, no matter how ludicrous and self-contradictory, to the rest of the world.

Leveling the Playing Field and the Retreat into Stupidity: george on Peretz on Goldstone

Marty Peretz has a short post at The Spine on how dangerous the Goldstone Commission’s Report is for the ability of democracies to defend themselves against enemies who attack from the midst of civilian populations. It elicited a hostile comment from a reader who signs as george walton, which, I think, offers a fine insight into the workings of a peculiar kind of mindset that I’d like to label according to the meme “their side right or wrong.”

george starts by quoting Peretz:

MP:The fact is that the Taliban do not fight by the rules of modern warfare which try to limit the exposure of non-combatants.

george:
Here’s what the Taliban should do. They should strike a deal with the coalition forces. If the coalition forces will agree to scale back on military hardware that is at least a thousand times more sophisticated and lethal than the terrorist’s arsenal, the Taliban will agree to back off from the civilians.

At first read, it’s hard to know if this is an Onion imitation, or serious sarcasm. The reader will forgive me for interpreting it as the latter (evidence below). Essentially, if I understand the sarcasm here, the Taliban has the right to hide among civilians because it’s the only way to fight against an oppressive external invader (who happens to be the allied forces).

Now I don’t know if george has any criteria for what constitutes legitimate resistance that is then allowed to sacrifice its own civilians for the cause, and what the chances that resistance movements that adapt such tactics might turn into “occupiers” of their own “liberated” populations, were they to succeed. Certainly the Taliban before the alliied invasion, with their policies towards women — acid in the face for not wearing the veil in public, a practice they continue even as “insurgents” — could hardly be called a liberating force. But that “sin,” however oppressive seems to be washed away as a result of the Taliban’s war against the US: their side right or wrong.

george continues: