Category Archives: Demopaths and Dupes

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, 2014.is;

People have rights. Ideas do not have Rights.

HT: Jeffrey Bale who notes:

It should go without saying that in a truly free society, no ideas, beliefs, and ideologies have a “right” not to be criticized, just as no individual has a “right” not to be offended by criticism of his or her ideas. It’s sad that one nowadays feels compelled to state this obvious point, over and over again, in a world in which so many people apparently feel that their beliefs should be immune from criticism or that no one else has a right to offend them.

 

This problem is about to reach epic proportions if the European Parliament enacts a well-intentioned but misconceived legislation against “intolerance” (which protects an undefined “Islamophobia“). All of this effort to legislate tolerance and mutual respect stems from the appalling inability of the progressive intellectual elite to speak out against the grotesque abuse of free speech by Muslims who revile Israel with Nazi-like hate speech.

If they did (rather than defend it as “free speech” – as if free speech should not be criticized), we wouldn’t need legislation that is just waiting to be exploited by demopaths. The response to intolerance is courageous criticism, not legislation.

 

 

 

 

Pallywood in Egypt: What does this tell us about what “they” think of “us”?

First consider the following photograph:

behind the factory 1

This was taken at Netzarim Junction on September 30, 2000. The day that Al Durah was shot on film by Talal Abu Rahma. The picture was made public by AP. I use it in lectures to introduce Pallywood.

The closer you look, the less the picture makes sense. Who are these people and what are they doing? Running from what? Ducking from what? Fire? From where? What kind? And why aren’t the people behind them ducking or running?

And what happens when you realize that the building in the upper left shields this entire area from Israeli fire which could only come from their position behind that building, and which they never left that day?

001-netzarim up diagonal include twin

 

The scene we’re looking at takes place along the road to the bottom left. The building we see in the background is labeled in Hebrew in red (“the factory”), and the Israeli position is behind it, labeled in blue (Magan 3).

In other words, the entire scene is staged, and all these figures are playing for the camera. Indeed, one might phrase it that they are reacting to camera fire.

Now none of that really makes sense to us in the West. When I show this to audiences, people try hard to read the picture as real, not staged. It can’t be that an entire street full of people are involved in such stuff. (James Fallows fall back on al Durah being staged is that it couldn’t happen without someone leaking the story, as if Palestinian culture were identical to ours in these matters of dissent.)

It’s precisely our desire not to believe that Palestinians or Arabs would be so blatantly deceptive that makes us so gullible to a major element of their cogwar against us, namely the manipulation of the (inexcusably) credulous Western news media to create sympathy among the (excusably, if stupidly) empathic Western public, eager to side with the (perceived) underdog.

So now we have serious, comic evidence of Pallywood at work in the Morsi camp in Egypt.

And here’s more of the same, although (a tiny bit) less obvious, from Syria.

What does this tell us about what they think of us, that such patent fakes could conceivably move Western public opinion (note the English signs), and, say, help convince the US government that it should cut off aid to Egypt in reprisal for the behavior of the current ruling group?

That we’re stupid? Unquestionably. The sad thing is, they may well be right. After all, our policy-makers seem to have their major offices on rekaB Street.

American Vanity and Ambition Plays the Fool in Middle East Political Culture

I’ve posted some items on the upcoming “negotiations.” Here I just want to draw your attention to three recent analyses on key American players in this charade of negotiations: Kerry and Indyk, both of whom consider messing with the only relatively stable situation in the Middle East an extremely short-sighted career “win.” Talk about making others pay for your fifteen minutes of fame.

Indyk: Noah Pollak, “What does Martin Indyk Believe

Between 2006 and 2009, no relevant facts on the ground in the Middle East had changed: Iran was still pursuing nuclear weapons, Bashar al-Assad was still the dictator of Syria, and Hezbollah was still entrenched in Lebanon. Only one fact had changed, and it was a Washington fact: Barack Obama had become the president, and he had made “engagement” with Syria a pillar of his Middle East policy. Indyk dutifully discarded his previous objections to the idea.

Give him his due: His shameless positioning and audacious reversals have been successful where they were intended to count – not in making “the cause of peace his life mission,” as Kerry said about him yesterday, but in advancing his career. Step one was showing his loyalty to Obama after betting on the wrong candidate in 2008; step two was burnishing his image as a tough-minded veteran of the Middle East who understands why things went wrong in Obama’s first term and can be counted on to get it right in his second term. On the substance, it’s been an awful, tawdry display. But as a matter of Washington careerism, Indyk’s press conference yesterday, where he was introduced and praised by the secretary of state, is inarguable proof of success.

Kerry: Lee Smith, “Requiem for the Peace Process

The peace process has entered its mannerist phase—it is nothing but a series of empty elegant formalisms. Does Martin Indyk, Kerry’s newly named Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, really need to add a sequel to his memoirs of the peace process, Innocent Abroad—Again?

The Media’s “Take” on Negotiations: How Palestinian Cogwar has Checkmated Israel in Western Public Opinion

My friend Avi Bell sent me the following. While exaggerated for effect, it’s a recognizable Catch 22 for Israel and a “get-out-of-responsibility-free card” for the Palestinians. Heads we lose, tails, they win.

It’s a good example of a complete cogwar victory for the Palestinians. It shows that and how (but not why) our current herd of independent journalists so extensively plays voluntary dhimmi to the Palestinian cause. When Riccardo Cristiano told Yasser Arafat that his network always reported according to “the procedures for reporting from the Palestinian territories,” he meant, among many other things, this:

If Israel refuses to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it refuses to negotiate.

If the Palestinians refuse to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see negotiations with Israel are pointless.

If Israel makes preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it is trying to avoid negotiations.

If the Palestinians make preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians have to force Israel to be serious in the negotiations.

If Israel makes no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace.

If the Palestinians make no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see that making offers of peace with Israel are pointless.

If Israel makes an offer of peace and the Palestinians reject it, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because Israel is not willing to make the kind of offer the Palestinians would accept.

There are variations on this, e.g.,:

If Arabs make war, but offer to end it, that proves that Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because the Arabs offered peace. (Thomas Friedman/Arab “peace” initative)

If Israel makes war, but offers to end it, that proves that Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel made war. (Defensive Pillar, Lebanon II, etc.)

If Arabs attack, that proves Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel provoked the Arabs to attack.

If Israel attacks, that proves Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel attacked.

If Palestinians carry out acts of terrorism, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because the Palestinians feel they have no choice but to carry out acts of terrorism.

If Palestinians try to carry out acts of terrorism, but Israel foils them, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because Israel is carrying out anti-terror actions against the Palestinians even while there is no terrorism.

If Palestinians don’t try to carry out acts of terrorism, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because the Palestinians are good and innocent and Israel uses terrorism as an excuse to mistreat Palestinians.

Now why the intelligentsia would want to double handicap the Israelis and double empower the Palestinians may strike a sound and sober reader as not only unfair, but pretty stupid, given the kinds of voices that dominate the Palestinian public sphere. But to people inebriated by their power to “level the playing field” by giving the weak “underdog” a break, it’s something virtually no one in the news media would question.

Suicidal intelligentsia’s anyone?

War, the Sport of Kings, the bane of Democracies and Obama’s Dilemma in Syria

The New Yorker has a great cartoon that is at once funny, sad, true (especially to people like medievalists who study pre-modern cultures), and paralyzingly foolish. (HT: The Fosters)


we right they wrong

It is, alas, true that most wars are fought on something approximating this principle. A pre-Islamic poem expresses the fearful symmetry of the phenomenon poignantly:

Then we, no doubt, are meat for the sword
And, doubtless, sometimes
we feed it meat.
By foe bent on vengeance, we are attacked,
Our fall his cure; or we, vengeance-bent,
Attack the foe.
Thus have we divided time in two,
Between us and our foe,
Till not a day goes by but we’re
In one half or the other.

Al-Marzuqi, Hamasah 2: 825-27, cited in Steykevych, Mute Stones Speak, p. 63.

Study on the link between financial woes and sensationalist anti-Israel coverage at Ha-aretz

There are some papers which, as much by their literary standards, as by their journalistic standards, stand out as the paper favored by the intellectual elite: The Guardian in England, Le Monde in France, The New York Times in the USA, and Ha-aretz in Israel. If only for their cultural material they are much prized. And, perhaps not surprisingly (but, I think, we should be “surprised” by everything these days), they have a “leftist,” progressive slant. Much has been written about the decline of the NYT’s coverage of the Middle East, not to mention its tendency to reject or heavily edit editorials from the “right,” and run without any editing, editorials from the flakey leftThe Guardian is so bad, it has a website dedicated exclusively to exposing its delirious tendencies towards anti-Semitism. In 2003, a devastating study came out chronicling the collapse of journalistic ethics (in French déontologie) of Le Monde. And now, a new study, traces the decline of standards and the rise of politicized, radical “left” slant in Israel’s Ha-aretz.

Note that all of the critiques have emerged in the last decade, the period of time in which, we argue at The Al Durah Project, the mainstream news media (MSNM), were taken over, at least in their coverage of the Middle East, by a school of “lethal journalists” who systematically injected Palestinian lethal narratives into the information systems of the West as news. It’s hard to exaggerate the role of Ha-aretz in this process. Foreign correspondents read its English edition religulously as their source of information.

NB: this is not because it’s their only access to an English translation. I once asked a journalist if she had read Khaled abu Toameh.

“Who’s he?”

“He writes for the Jerusalem Post.”

“Oh, I don’t read that right wing rag.”

Instead the international press corps prefer a “left”-wing rag. When I presented the al Durah material to my students, one of them, commenting on Ha-aretz’s relentless denunciation and mockery of any effort to exculpate Israel, asked,

“Isn’t Ha-aretz an Israeli paper?”

“Yes,” I replied, “why do you ask?”

“Because it sounds like a Palestinian one.”

As one critic wrote to Ha-aretz in response to a subscription request, “If I want to read a Palestinian paper, I prefer to read it in Arabic.”

Now, after a series of grotesque cases of anti-Israel coverage that violated all the principles of accurate journalism, a study has come out detailing the indictment of the paper’s radical direction.

Headquarters of Haaretz, Israel's once-venerable newpaper. Photo: The Tower/Aviram Valdman

Downfall of a Great Newspaper

Erez Tadmor

Political editor at Mida Magazine.

Slashed budgets, plummeting standards, and political radicalization have turned Israel’s most respected newspaper into a case study in the collapse of modern journalism.

In early April of this year, the controversial Haaretz reporter Amira Hass, whose coverage of Palestinian violence over the last decade has often prompted accusations of bias, caused a major stir when she published a column called “The Internal Syntax of the Occupation.” Most provocative was her claim that “throwing stones is the hereditary right and duty of someone under a foreign power”—words that appeared only a few days after Adele Biton, a 3-year old Israeli girl, was critically injured when a Palestinian threw a rock at the car her mother was driving, causing it to slam into a commercial truck.

In a Sunday interview with journalist Kalman Libskind of the radio station Galei Yisrael, Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken set out to defend Hass’s article. Growing flustered, however, Schocken ended up saying that moving to a settlement was a form of deliberately endangering the welfare of one’s children, something that in another context would trigger the intervention of social services. As for Hass’s sympathy for rock-throwers, Schocken refused to distance himself. “Sometimes,” he concluded, “you have to fight violence with violence.”

The method Amos Schocken chose to defend Hass’s article, and his defense of editor-in-chief Aluf Benn’s decision to publish the piece in full, sheds some light on the recent changes at the once-venerable Israeli daily. In a series of interviews conducted with current and former Haaretz employees, some of whom held high-level positions at the paper and most of whom still hold it close to their hearts, a consensus emerged to the effect that the paper is undergoing a process of major change that has led to a dramatic reduction in staff, a precipitous decline in journalistic standards, and a willful radicalization of its politics in pursuit of Internet traffic.

Veteran Haaretz reporter Amira Hass. Photo: Yossi Zamir/Flash90

Radicalizing. Veteran Haaretz reporter Amira Hass. Photo: Yossi Zamir/Flash90

As Israel’s longstanding newspaper of record, these developments have raised important questions about the future of print journalism, especially in a country where a free and dynamic press has always been at the center of Israel’s democratic discourse.

Are we waking up? Maher calls it “liberal bullshit”

Bill Maher hosted Brian Levin, professor at CSU-San Bernardino, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. The exchange is most illuminating, primarily for what it shows about the kind of “therapeutic” scholarship that dominates the academy. HT: Jeff Poor at Daily Caller). Comments interspersed in the transcipt below.

BM: I’m always interested to know how people like the people we caught today up in Boston can have two minds going at the same time. I mean if you read what the older brother wrote on the internet, he said his world view “Islam” personal priorities, “Career and Money.” And we see this a lot. I mean the 9-111 hijackers went to strip clubs the night they got on the plane.”

BL: Could I just interject. Look, it’s not like people who are Muslim who do wacky things have a monopoly on it. We have hypocrites across faiths… Jewish, Christian who say they’re out for God and they end up…

Levin immediately takes Maher to refer to the hypocrisy of it all, when (particularly as a scholar) he might have addressed the issue of cognitive dissonance, and the kind of “doubling” that Robert Jay Lifton analyzes in Nazi DoctorsBut instead he immediately reaches for the “we too…” meme of moral equivalence.

BM: You know what, yeah, yeah, You know what — that’s liberal bullshit right there … I mean yes there … all faiths…

BL: There are no Christian hypocrites? You made a career on that!

Levin is very confident here, thinking that with Maher, producer of Religulous, he has a like-minded interlocutor. 

Suicidal Auto-stupefaction from a Belgian Deputy

People’s Party” Belgian deputé, Laurent Louis, espouses conspiracy theory (HT: Jean-Philippe Desmet):
Les attentats de Boston ou comment en quelques instants stigmatiser la Russie et les Musulmans… Encore un beau coup médiatique des sionistes ! Quelles seront les conséquences de ce pseudo attentat ? Une nouvelle limitation des libertés fondamentales ? Une nouvelle attaque contre les pays musulmans ? L’invasion de la Syrie ou pourquoi pas la déstabilisation de la Russie ? Il ne s’agit peut-être aussi que d’un coup de poker politique d’Obama pour justifier une reprise de la mobilisation militaire américaine dans le monde… Un prix Nobel de la Paix, ça ne peut pas partir en guerre pour une broutille… Les frères Tsarnaev, ça me fait penser au cas de Mohamed Merah, ce jeune pion utilisé par Sarkozy pour créer un vent de panique en France et espérer assurer sa ré-élection… Ah, que de manipulations !!!”The Boston attacks, or how in a few moments one can stigmatize Russia and the Muslims… Another great media coup of the Zionists. What will be the consequences of this pseudo-attack? A new limitation of fundamental liberties [e.g., the right to stay unbelievably stupid things - rl]? A new attack against Muslimc ountries? The invasion of Syria or why not the destablilization of Russia? It may just be a political poker move of Obama to justify un renewal of the american military mobilization in the world… A Nobel Peace Prize winner, can’t just go to war for nothing… The Tsarnaev brothers makes me think of Mohamed Merah, that young pawn used by Sarkozy to creat a wind of panic in France in the hopes of reassuring his re-election… Ah, what manipulations!!!
Nothing can penetrate the conspiratorial mind bent on self-destruction.

Le nouveau livre d’Enderlin: Syndrome d’omnipotence masochiste

Dans un de ses commentaires sur l’affaire al Durah, Enderlin insiste que les gens qui lui critiquent au sujet de son emission du 30 septembre, 2000, le font parce qu’ils s’opposent à sa politique.


“C’est un procès de diffamation contre moi [sic - c'est lui qui fait le procès de diffamation contre Karsenty]… c’est une campagne de calomnie par des gens qui rejettent mes diffusions, mes documentaires et mes livres.”

Avec son dernier livre, on commence à comprendre: il manipule la vérité à tout occasion. L’affaire al Durah n’est pas une bavure isolé, mais plutôt une méthode de travail. J’avais déjà l’occasion de voir cette méthode a Harvard. C’est ce que j’appelle “Masochistic omnipotence syndrome” – c’est tout de notre faute, et si on était meilleur, on pourrait tout résoudre.

Voici un compte rendu de son nouveau livre par un bloggeur français remarquable, Victor Perez.

DIMANCHE 21 AVRIL 2013

Le dernier livre de Charles Enderlin

Si l’on avait le moindre doute quant au refus israélien d’une ‘’juste solution’’ pour le conflit proche-oriental, grâce aux bons soins du ‘’professionnel’’ (avec guillemets) Charles Enderlin, le public en est informé. Il suffit de lire le tout début des articles publicisant son dernier livre, voire seulement leurs titres, pour connaître le nom du coupable, du fauteur de paix. Des papiers, favorables au livre, repris, évidemment, par les alliés idéologiques de celui-ci tel Palestine Solidarité qui se targue d’être un « Site d’information sur la Palestine, le Moyen-Orient… » (Sic).
Ne dit-on pas qui se ressemble s’assemble?
Un livre dans lequel, assure le JDD, « Défilent (…) des portraits de rabbins enflammés, de colons armés, de dirigeants politiques pris au piège et, en creux, les contours d’unepopulation israélienne otage de ses extrémismes ».
Un livre qui garantit que depuis la guerre des six jours de 1967 « la mouvance des colons est devenue une force dominante dans la société israélienne, avec un discours théologique eschatologique » dixit le ‘’journaliste’’ (avec guillemets) de France 2.
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Dominante ? Sur quoi s’appuie l’auteur pour affirmer cette ‘’vérité’’ sinon sur sa seule doctrine voyant en l’Israélien le fauteur de paix ? Doctrine que l’on aperçoit déjà sur la quatrième de couverture de son livre intitulé « Au nom du Temple » et qui installe l’israélien comme « colon » du lieu le plus saint du Judaïsme.
La présentation de l’éditeur, faite bien sûr avec l’accord de l’auteur, assure que « Plongeant ses sources dans la haute antiquité biblique, le fondamentalisme messianique juif a pris son essor en juin 1967, après la conquête de la Cisjordanie et, surtout, du Haram Al-Sharif, le troisième lieu saint de l’Islam – là où se trouvent aussi les ruines du Temple d’Hérode, là où le patriarche Abraham avait prétendu sacrifier son fils Isaac ».

The Arab-Israeli Conflict for Dummies: Barry Rubin explains why Kerry’s “peace” push is bad for peace

For many of us who understand how political cultures driven by honor-shame imperatives operate, the Sisyphean tendency of well-intentioned “peace makers” to “restart” the Oslo Process after its explosion into the Oslo Intifada in 2000, serves as a apt illustration of the (mis-)attributed quote of “Einstein’s” - the definition of insanity is trying the same thing and expecting a different result. (So un-Einsteinian: you can never try “the same thing.”)

So when someone like John Kerry takes over at State and goes on a tour of the area looking for how he can jump-start the peace process based on the principles of the Politically-correct paradigm in which we are all positive-sum players and if only we sweeten the pot for the Palestinians, they’ll join in, many of us roll our eyes and know he’s doomed to failure.

What few people consider is what Rubin analyzes here: not only is Kerry’s approach not going to work, if it did, it would make things worse. Not just, one step forward, two backward, but, as in 2000, blowback in our face. Consider Rubin’s analysis.

Why “Progress” Toward Israel-Palestinian “Peace” Is More Likely to Bring Regional Instability

April 10th, 2013 – 7:13 am 

Secretary of State John Kerry has what-should-be-discredited cliché about the Middle East firmly ensconced in his head. Of course, he is not alone. I just briefed a European diplomat who came up with the exact formulation I’m going to deal with in a moment. What is disconcerting—though long familiar—is that Western policymakers hold so many ideas that are totally out of touch with reality.

They do not allow these assumptions to be questioned. On the contrary, it is astonishing to find how often individuals in elite positions have never heard counter-arguments to these beliefs. It is easy to prove that many of these ideas simply don’t make sense, but it is nearly impossible to get elite intellectuals, officials, and politicians to open their minds to these explanations.

This is a fascinating point. The PCP has literally eclipsed all other approaches in the minds of the Western elites. It becomes unthinkable to view the situation otherwise.

Yet we can’t just believe what we want to believe, what we’d like to see happen, what we hope for. Reality must be faced or things will be worse. Having uunexamined utopian ideas dominate this topic does not serve anyone’s interests.

Well, it does serve the interests of the demopaths, who keep pushing all our liberal buttons as a way to have things go worse. But we fine Westerners don’t even want to admit that there are enemies, much less ones that use our values to destroy us.

Let me give a single example. Here are Kerry’s observations after touring the Middle East:

“I am intensely focused on this issue and the region because it is vital really to American interests and regional interests to try and advance the peace process and because this festering absence of peace is used by groups everywhere to recruit and encourage extremism.”

Supposedly, then, the reason that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is so important and urgent to solve is that otherwise it is a powerful force in encouraging extremism. Of course, steps toward easing Israel-Palestinian tensions and stabilizing the situation are good but have no positive effect on the region.

Let’s stipulate that it would be a very good thing if this conflict would be resolved in a stable and compromise way. Let’s further stipulate that this isn’t going to happen.

But there is another point which sounds counter-intuitive and yet makes perfect sense:

Resolving the conflict in some way will encourage even more extremism and regional instability. How can I say that? Very simple.

Islamist groups and governments, along with radical Arab nationalists, Iran, and others, are determined to prevent any resolution of the issue. Anything other than Israel’s extinction they hold to be treason. If—and this isn’t going to happen—Israel and the Palestinian Authority made a comprehensive peace treaty those forces would double and triple their efforts to subvert it.

The folly of “linkage” is precisely the misunderstanding of what drives the conflict. If, as Obama and his advisors wanted to do at the beginning of his first administration, we “solve” the Arab-Israeli conflict, then, with the Arabs happy, we go after Iran. The only problem is that even if some (how many?) Arab leaders might be “happy” with a resolution that still left an Israeli state present and autonomous in the heart of Dar al Islam, far more would find that utterly unacceptable. Not only is linkage a Rube Goldberg machine, but it’s one that strewn with landmines just waiting to explode.

The government of Palestine would face determined domestic opposition, including assassination attempts on the “traitors” who made peace. Palestinian factions would claim to be more militant than their rivals and would seek to use the new state as a basis for attacking Israel in order to prove their credentials and advance their political fortunes.

What would the government of Palestine do once cross-border attacks inevitably began against Israel? It is highly likely it would disclaim responsibility and say they cannot find those responsible or even proclaim that these people are heroes.

Of course, the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip would not accept the deal, thus ensuring that it could not be implemented. That last factor, which is a huge and impassable barrier is simply ignored by the “peacemakers.” Israel would have to make major territorial concessions and take heightened risks in advance that would bring zero benefits from a Hamas government that would increase its attacks on Israel. Hamas forces on the West Bank, perhaps in partnership with Fatah radicals, would seek to overthrow Palestine’s government.

There would be attempts to carry out atrocities against Israeli civilians to break the deal, just as happened by Hamas alone during the 1993-2000 “Oslo peace process” period. Hizballah from Lebanon would also increase attacks on Israel to prove that the treasonous peace could not hold.

The ruling Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria would do everything possible to help Hamas. There would be outrage in large sectors of public opinion and especially among the armed Islamist militias who would try to lever their countries into war, stage cross-border attacks against Israel, and back Palestinian insurgents.

Of course, the fact that they understand all of the points made above is one of the main reasons why the Palestinian Authority’s leadership isn’t interested in making a peace deal with Israel, and not even negotiating seriously toward that end.

Ironically, then, the recruiting and encouragement of extremism would be at far higher levels than it is now.

Which is why, ironically, like Penelope, Odysseus’ wife, we need to continue weaving a peace process that must not come to fruition.

But that’s not all. Who would be identified as the architects of this terrible setback for Islam and Arab nationalism? The United States and the West, of course. Imagine the increase of anti-American terrorism for having permanently “stolen” Palestine, perpetuated “injustice,” and so powerfully entrenching the “Zionist entity.”

Kerry, no doubt, thinks that the Egyptians, Syrians, Lebanese, and Iranians would applaud the wonderful U.S. achievement. This is sheerest nonsense, especially at a time when Islamists feel they are riding the crest of a tidal wave of victory.

Is Kerry that foolish? I’d like to think not, but I’m forever astonished at how foolish smart people can be in our day and age.

While the parallels are inexact, some aspects of such a situation remind me of what happened at the end of World War One. Many people in Germany were convinced that their country was not defeated but merely suffered a “stab in the back” by its foreign enemies and the Jews at home. Out of this soil arose the Nazi movement, to avenge this betrayal and defeat. You can make of that parallel what you will.

Remember, too, that the 1990s “peace process” effort came at a time when Arab regimes were weak, repeatedly defeated by Israel, having lost their Soviet superpower ally, been riven by the Iran-Iraq and Kuwait wars, and with a bankrupt PLO. Now we are in a new era when, for example, the most important single Arab pillar for peace—the Husni Mubarak regime in Egypt—has been driven out to the cheers of those Westerners who also claim to recognize the value of an Arab-Israel peace.

Whether or not I’ve convinced you, I assume that you must understand that a serious case can be made for the argument stated above. Yet none of these points will appear in the mass media or the high-level debate. The assumption is, as Kerry stated, that Israel-Palestinian peace will make things better and no idea will be considered that contradicts this notion.

Let me again emphasize that I am not making an “anti-peace” argument here. If it was possible to secure a lasting, stable compromise peace between Israel and the Palestinians, that would be a great achievement. That might be possible some day but, dangerous wishful thinking aside, that isn’t true now.

And wishing it so makes it worse. Until we look at the cultural issues involved in making peace, and begin to prepare the Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims a generation or two down the pike to shift gears, none of our liberal fantasies will do any good.

Read the rest.

 

Bangladesh and the West: The Problem of News Media Silence

Nick Cohen has an excellent article in today’s Observer (HT/ES). In his discussion he goes into (ancient history) about the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in the 1970s and the  massacres carried out by Pakistani troops and their Islamist allies. He does not mention the even greater massacres perpetrated by a previous generation of Muslims against the Hindus who happened to inhabit Western Bengal (which went to East Pakistan [later Bangladesh] in the aftermath of the partition of Bengal at the creation of India and Pakistan in 1949: according to one study, over half a million Hindus were murdered, and 3-5 million of them fled to India.

The agonies of Bangladesh come to London
Shahbag protests in Dhaka are reflected in the demonstrations in London

Nick Cohen

The Observer, Saturday 16 February 2013

Three men stand in Bangladeshi national colours in Shahbag square. Photograph: Kazi Sudipto/ Demotix/Corbis

The Shahbag junction in Dhaka has become Bangladesh’s Tahrir Square. Hundreds of thousands of young protesters are occupying it and raging against radical Islamists. Even sympathetic politicians cannot control the movement. The protesters damn them as appeasers, who have compromised with unconscionable men.

Theirs is a grassroots uprising for the most essential and neglected values of our age: secularism, the protection of minorities from persecution and the removal of theocratic thugs from the private lives and public arguments of 21st-century citizens.

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?

Muhammad Cartoons Seven Years On: Demopaths on the Warpath against Hatred

Muslim Students at UNC: Demopaths on the Warpath against “Hatred”

February 22, 2006

Little Green Footballs posted this:

Daily Tar Heel Now Targeted for Cartoon Jihad

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel is now embroiled in a Krazy Kartoon Kontroversy of their own, after publishing an original cartoon showing a politically correct, balanced and non-violent Mohammed denouncing both Denmark and Islamic protesters: Cartoon for February 9 – Opinion.

Muhammad even handed

The Muslim Students Association is seething.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The Muslim Students Association at the University of North Carolina on Friday asked the campus’ student newspaper to apologize for publishing an original cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

“The intention of bigotry was clear,” the association wrote in a letter to The Daily Tar Heel. “One must question the DTH’s ethics in advancing a widely protested issue to cause a riot of their own. The MSA not only found this cartoon derogatory but is also shocked at the editor’s allowance of its publication — one that incites hate in the current political and social context.”

Note the aggressive tone of injury: “intention of bigotry clear,” “advancing a widely protested issue to cause a riot of its own… derogatory… incites hate in the current political and social context.”

So let me get this straight. Muslims throw a temper tantrum (“current political and social context”); accuse others of “inciting hate” when they themselves revel in it; and express shock that anyone be allowed to trample their sense of honor and dignity. This is a definitional example of demopathy, or the use of civic/liberal values to which you do not adhere to attack those who do adhere to them. Imagine if the newspaper were to produce a savage denunciation of the Israelis. Can one imagine the Muslim students shouting for its removal, or rather praising its courage?

And the cartoon is really quite gentle. (Indeed it reflects the same sense that most Westerners who believe that Islam is a religion of peace feel about Muhammad: that he can’t possibly have been as immature, hyper-sensitive, and insecure as the Muslims who rampage at the slightest slight.

cartoon #3

UPDATE at 2/22/06 12:45:40 pm:

Last year, the Muslim Students Association at UNC-CH succeeded in getting Daily Tar Heel columnist Jillian Bandes fired: lgf: Thoughtcrime at UNC-Chapel Hill.

In other words, demopathy works. Intimidate people with your moral outrage, and you can continue to badger them with impunity.

The sad thing is, these are battles that can be won without weapons, merely by pointing out — gently – the unacceptable hypocrisy of the outrage.

Laor (anti-Zionist) defends Butler (anti-Zionist) in the pages of Ha’aretz (anti-Zionist?)

Yitzhak Laor has come to the spirited defense of Judith Butler in – surprise! – the pages of Ha-aretz. If one thinks of this whole affair as an Emperor’s New Clothes, then think of Laor as a courtier who intervenes after the crowd starts grumbling about Butler’s naked performativity, who rushes in to hold the invisible mantle high.

Before tackling his argument, allow me to give some background on Laor’s attitude towards Israel and Zionism. It will help explain his position in the Butler case.

In 2011, Laor wrote the following:

Get rid of Zionism:

“The “Land of Israel” is a phantasm. Withdrawing from “parts of it” is presented as a “concession” even by supporters of the move. But the only concession we needed to make, even back in 1967, was giving up the messianic claim that this is our land, from the Bible, and therefore we have a right to it. In comparison with this claim, the Serbs, with their preoccupation over the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, are rational, secular people.

Now that he’s made the invidious comparison at his own expense (no “my side even when it’s right” for this fellow), where can he put Hamas and Hizbullah on this scale of secular-rational and religious zealot? But of course, for the self-destructivist left, the madness of the Islamists cannot even be spoken.

Life is in no need of “ancestral rights.” Most of us were born here. That has no connection with the Bible, which for the most part is a very nice book. It has no connection with the prayers of the religious. We don’t need religion, either as a menu in a restaurant or as a strategic analysis.

The only  way that Yitzhak was born here (the year of the war of Independence), was because of the biblical attachment of his ancestors to the land. The lack of acknowledgment of the role biblical beliefs play in history is not only massively uninformed, it shows a complete misunderstanding of the role of religion in history (including why this area has so many Arab Muslims). Like so many “secular, rational” folks, Laor doesn’t have a clue. And he’s a poet, to boot.

Had masses of Israelis had the sense to say that on the morning after the occupation, instead of choosing that of all moments – with the help of professors, poets and writers – to “discover our undivided country,” we would be in a different situation today.

This is an especially nice example of how the other side has no moral responsibility. In fact the Israelis after the Six-day war had precisely the attitude he calls for, and got the “Three no’s.” What can one make of someone who can only find fault among his own people, and doesn’t (dare?) express disapproval of his own people’s sworn enemies?

Liberation from Zionism is not a dirty word. In any case, what lies behind Zionism nowadays are interests related to water, real estate, strategic relations with the U.S. and a huge army hungering to justify its existence.

If our fathers erred in their use of myth, we should part from it, for the sake of our sons and daughters. We don’t have to leave this place or give up our lives. But for their sake, we have to get rid of Zionism.

In other words, we enlightened Israelis, should cast aside the faulty “myths” of our ancestors and live peaceably in the land, where (I, Yitzhak Laor know) the other inhabitants will leave with us. Again, note the lack of any mention of the myths circulating among the other inhabitants of the land. Laor, like “Noa”, is a classic lost, solipsistic soul, wandering the landscape, performing nobly, leading himself and his children into catastrophe.

Here’s his take on Judith Butler.

In the spirit of Hannah Arendt

The witch hunt against U.S. Jewish academic Judith Butler, who is being awarded the prestigious Adorno prize, originates in a dangerous strand of American Jewry that has been assaulting freedom of expression even in U.S. universities.

These are classic tropes of the destructivist left: “We are the innocent victims, hounded by mean people who – gasp! – criticize us.” It’s fascinating to see how they can turn a disagreement into an assault on freedom of expression. Enderlin and his buddies at the Nouvel Obs did the same thing: what? we can be criticized for not doing our job by outsiders? What happened to freedom of the press?

By Yitzhak Laor | 03:22 11.09.12 |  0

Today, the birthday of the sociologist Theodor Adorno, philosopher Judith Butler will be in Frankfurt to receive a prize named after him. The prize has been given every three years since 1977 to an outstanding intellectual or artist. Its winners include sociologists Norbert Elias and Zygmunt Bauman, philosophers Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida, composers Gyorgy Ligeti and Pierre Boulez, and film directors Alexander Kluge and Jean-Luc Godard.

Red Hot Chili Peppers Elicit Evidence of the Massive Gap Between Pro-Palestinian Israelis and Anti-Zionist Arabs

Elder of Zion has an amazing transcript of a facebook exchange between a radical, pro-Palestinian Israeli activist, Noa, and various Arab exponents of BDS (in this case, refusing to allow Red Hot Chili Peppers to come to Beirut because they plan to play in Israel).

“We’re not against Jews. We’re against non-Arab Israeli citizens”

972mag’s Noam Sheizaf brings us a fantastic example of how Arabs will never accept the existence of Jews as equals in the Middle East.A Jordanian “anti-normalization” group put out a notice to ban all “Zionists” from traveling to Jordan to attend an after-party with a popular Lebanese band called Mashrou Leila (that recently canceled a gig opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Beirut because the RHCP are playing in Israel.) Apparently, many anti-Zionist Israelis are big fans of the band.Well, that’s not quite true. The “anti-normalization” letter says it intends to ban all Zionists, but its definition of Zionist is interesting:

Finally, we would like to inform you clearly that despite your confirmation and that of your associates here in Amman, that the event you’re organizing will not host any Zionists (to be clear we take this stand against all Israeli nationality holders that are non Arab) we are still taking certain measures to ensure that you will abide by your word on this matter, fully realizing and taking into consideration the continuous arguments and justifications in favor of accompanying Zionists to the event here in Amman. We simply reject all Zionists’ irrelevant of their race, political or religious orientations or beliefs.

We are very vigilant to all cultural events in Amman and we will have narrow to the ground during Mashrou Leila, so we urge you to keep your word and promise to keep our events and country zionist-free.

Now, a number of vehemently anti-Israel Jewish citizens of Israel – people who completely share the Arab desire to destroy Israel and create a single “Palestine” from the river to the sea – were offended by this letter. Here is a dialogue between “Noa” and Jordanians who make it quite clear that if she is a true anti-Zionist, she should leave the country she was born in because she is Jewish:
Noa: (Israeli) Can I ask a question?

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).

Gitlin comes to the Defense of Butler’s Diasporic Non-Violence: Red Meat for the Vegan Crowd

The Butler controversy continues. For some reason Todd Gitlin, whom even people who disagree with him consider “nuanced,” comes out with a defense of his colleague at Columbia, Judith Butler. Despite the obvious daylight between him and Judith, he frames this as part of a schoolyard fight where he’s defending his friend, and is just one stage before, “I’m rubber and your glue…”

Not what I’d call a serious contribution to the issues at hand.

The Trouble With Judith Butler—and Her Critics

September 4, 2012, 2:24 pm

By Todd Gitlin

Whatever one wants to say about the philosopher Judith Butler’s contribution to contemporary thought, I suspect that not even her most devoted disciple would call her a lucid writer. In her introduction to an early book, Gender Trouble, she writes:

  • There is a new venue for theory, necessarily impure, where it emerges in and as the very event of cultural translation. This is not the displacement of theory by historicism, nor a simple historicization of theory that exposes the contingent limits of its more generalizable claims. It is, rather, the emergence of theory at the site where cultural horizons meet, where the demand for translation is acute and its promise of success, uncertain.

What we have here, and throughout Butler’s writings, are not so much [sic?] sentences that carry propositions as a whiff of the burning of incense before an idol called “theory.” There are some in the academy who find this practice “emancipating.” I do not.

I agree (nice image), although this is hardly the most impenetrable of her smoke columns. It actually brushes close to comprehensibility.

Be that as it may, the author of those unilluminating sentences is soon to receive the City of Frankfurt’s triennial Theodor W. Adorno Prize, named for the brilliant, prolific, vastly complex, often tangled, so-called Frankfurt School German-Jewish thinker genius who was himself given to wild overstatement of the sort that Butler, in fact, quotes in the epigraph to another one of her books: “The value of thought is measured by its distance from the continuity of the familiar.” A moment’s reflection shows this to be nonsense. Adorno had bad days, too.

Actually it’s one of the unspoken goals of most academics who want to make an original contribution: the counter-intuitive truth. Who wants to spend a lifetime regurgitating Vérités de la Palice?

The politics of “theory” and prize committees would be interesting subjects on their own, but the focus of vehement attack by The Jerusalem Post and organizations devoted to My-Israel-Right-or-Wrong politics is a more specific claim.

This is an interesting trope that one runs across often: “my Israel right or wrong” or the “Israel firsters.” It’s an effort to dismiss as some kind of primitive incarnation of an “us-them” mentality, people who defend Israel against calumnies. Most people identified as Israel-firsters are not. They are capable of both recognizing legitimate criticism and even articulating it.

But we draw lines between constructive criticism and destructive, between criticizing policies soberly and demonizing, between concerned tochachah and existential hatred. Most people who dismiss defenders of Israel as Israel-firsters, on the other hand, are “Israel is wrong firsters,” who, like Judith Butler, have no trouble finding their full-throated voices when criticizing Israel in no uncertain terms and based on highly uncertain sources, but somehow mumble and fumble when it comes to denouncing her ferocious enemies.

In the context of a battle with an enemy that has one of the most regressive “my side right or wrong” attitudes – “love my side and hate everyone else” – which is constantly being reinforced by the opposite “progressive” meme of “your side right or wrong” that must accept the epistemological priority of the subaltern “Other” (as does Helena Cobban), it’s a pretty ugly accusation. It goes hand in hand with the common trope, “any criticism of Israel is considered anti-Semitic,” which Butler and her convulsively anti-Israel colleagues uses constantly as a smokescreen for vicious criticism.

In the words of the Post’s Benjamin Weinthal, Butler “advocates a sweeping boycott of ties with Israel’s cultural and academic establishment and has defended Hezbollah and Hamas as progressive organizations.”

This slovenly slash-and-burn propaganda, masquerading as journalism, has occasioned a crisp reply by Butler:

Wow. This is pretty amazing. Weinthal’s piece is slash and burn propaganda, while her long, rambling, and insubstantial reply is “crisp”? Surely a scholar of nuance, like Todd Gitlin can do better. This is red-meat language for the carnivore “progressive” choir.

Judith Butler, the Adorno Prize, and the Moral State of the “Global Left”

The following is a long version of a response to Judith Butler that will appear in various forms at other sites, including SPME. This version is here either for those who enjoy my overwrought prose, of those who find that the logic of edited versions elsewhere is interrupted by the cuts.

Judith Butler’s feelings are hurt because some professors who claim they’re for “peace in the Middle East,” have criticized her and openly called on the Adorno Committee to withdraw the Prize that they have announced would be offered to her this year, on Adorno’s birthday, 9-11. Stung by the criticism, Butler responded at the site of the notoriously anti-Israel Jewish blog, Mondoweiss. in her defense. The defense illustrates every aspect of the problem with Butler’s approach to the criticism of her work, including the folly of German intellectuals to raise her up as a heroic example.

The criticism of her receiving the Adorno prize involves the following three points: 1) Her criticism of Israel for violations of (her) moral standards is exceptionally harsh, even though she has very little to say about exceptionally harsh violations among Israel’s enemies. 2) She has taken this moral imbalance from mere rhetoric to determined action, supporting extensive and punishing academic boycotts of Israel (e.g., Kafka archive should not go to Hebrew University). And 3) she enables and encourages virulent anti-Semitism both in this participation in BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), and in identifying some of the worst offenders where that ancient hatred is concerned (Hamas and Hizbullah) as part of the “progressive, global, Left.”

Her response was a long, rambling, self-defense (2000 words) in which she systematically misrepresents the critique, and shields herself by claiming the status of a suffering victim of a vicious attack that deeply hurt her feelings.