Thursday, December 11, 2008

Shmuel Rosner and dual loyalty

Now, if you said that ardent supporters of Israel often tried to silence criticism of Israel, you'd be written out of the conversation, derided as a crank, and probably accused of anti-Semitism. Any criticism of the pro-Israeli hardline becomes in short order an attack on the person making the criticism, as you can bet with unerring certainty that they will be accused of making that criticism because they are anti-Semitic. As the hardline has cloaked itself in the blanket of righteousness when it comes to defending Israel (regardless of whether or not its favored policies have actually defended the country), and Israel is the home of the Jews, any criticism of the hardline, ipso facto, is a criticism of Jews.

But look what Shmuel Rosner says in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg:
I think that what American Jews can do--the best service they can give as to advance Middle East peace--is to support Israel as much as they can. And by support I do not necessarily mean "give money". In fact, giving money is the easiest way for people to support someone when they do not want to be bothered--but I'd like American Jews to be bothered. I want them coming for visits, I want them caring, I want them lobbying. And no--I do not want them to be criticizing Israel in public and trying to pressure Israel on matters of policy and trying to "save Israel from itself" and all that condescending crap.

Advocating moral action, apparently, being less important than not being condescending. Look, this is a flat-out assertion by Rosner that American Jews have a duty not to criticize Israel. Yet if I were to aver that there is pressure from self-appointed defenders of Israel to silence criticism of Israel, that would be derided as at best foolish and at worst evidence of anti-Semitism. Yet it's right here, in black and white, and invites nary a followup question from Jeff Goldberg. Rosner poses his opinion as a matter of American Jews as outsiders criticizing unhelpfully from afar. But this ignores the most salient aspect of any American criticism of Israel: American support for Israel, when viewed as a combination of the economic, military, diplomatic and intelligence benefits Israel derives from the US, is unprecedented. There is no other country in the world that receives the kind of benefit from American support that Israel does. As long as that is the case, American Jews, like all other American citizens (and taxpayers), have every right to criticize Israeli conduct. Our support makes us investors in the Israeli state; if you don't like American influence, you have to be ready to walk away from American support.

Now, there's another interesting thing about this, which is that both Rosner and Goldberg talk as if American Jews have duties to both America and Israel. Surely, an American Jew, being an American, might criticize Israel out of a sense of obligation to her own country, if she thought Israel's conduct was detrimental to the United States. That's what democracy demands, after all. Yet Rosner suggests that, unlike to any other foreign country, that American Jew has obligations to Israel that she should honor, or be relegated to condescending at best. In other words, Rosner, and presumably Goldberg, thinks that an American Jew has obligations to both America and Israel. When suggested by someone perceived as an enemy of the Israeli project (which simply means anyone not in line with the most radically hawkish Israeli right), that is commonly referred to as "dual loyalty", and suggesting that any Jews whatsoever feel it or have it is a blood libel, demonstrating the shrieking anti-Semitism of the person making the suggestion.

Strange to see two people with impeccable credentials for supporting Israel talking so matter-of-factly about the fact that there are people in America who feel loyalties to both America and Israel! Almost as if such a thing is perfectly common and perfectly understandable. I mean, I have a friend who was born in Brazil who is now making her life in the United States, and she has said that she feels conflicted about whose interests she would like to see best served. I have a friend from Ghana who has said the same. It's almost as if many people have interests in both this country and countries that they have affinity for or history with, and have conflicted emotions about where loyatly lies. Strange then that suggesting that when it comes to Israel is a demonstration of vicious anti-Semitism in a gentile or self-hatred in a Jew.

Of course, really, that's Goldberg's entire shtick. It's all he has, besides embarrassingly fawning praise of the Sopranos. Goldberg makes all of the principled, common-sense criticisms of Israel that you are likely to find in anything approaching the mainstream media; he then turns around and excorciates anyone else who makes the same criticisms. Thus he burnishes his credentials as a free-thinker who isn't afraid to criticize Israel, and at the same time shines his medals as an ardent supporter of Israel, and in general builds his brand as a Very Serious person. I think a lot of people underestimate the degree to which punditry is a matter of brand-building. People find a niche. Christopher Hitchens has one goal in everything he writes; he is creating the persona that is Christopher Hitchens. Mickey Kaus claims moderate Democrat identity and supports conservative Republican positions. Ezra Klein does earnest health care policy and flashes those dreamy eyes. Jeff Goldberg both snarks at the hawkish Israeli hardline, and derides those who make identical critiques of those same hawks.

I can't quite blame him. It's a living.

Update: "Supporting Israel is a responsibility you did not ask for--but it's yours nevertheless." This is a simple statement of dual loyalty. I look forward to reading in Commentary about how Shmuel Rosner is an anti-Semite.

Update II: I should point out, it's better that Goldberg make many of the points he makes that I agree with than not make them. But he seems to have this weird tendency to do so, then turn around and criticize others who make close to identical arguments. I think he suffers from a conflict a lot of people with emotional investment in an issue do, coming to believe that only they themselves have the authority or the requisite attachment to the issue in question to comment.

Update III: Though my larger criticism of Goldberg stands, and I definitely think he has some really noxious tendencies, I shouldn't have said "That's all he has". That's juvenile, and I apologize.

31 comments:

  1. Well a couple thoughts here. First of all, I think it's fine to critique Israel. They have a lot of policies that are just plain bad. They haven't had it easy, of course, and I think there is a great deal to be admired about Israel's achievements, but there are some purely bad policies that are holding them back. American Jews should say as much. The hard-liners in Israel are not helping the situation, nor paving the way to peace. Then again, the terrorists aren't helping much either. We have the hard-liners on both sides causing this inertia in the peace process.

    But on your point of dual loyalty, you are a bit off-base. Israel has the unique policy of admitting any and all Jews that apply for citizenship. Aliyah. This means any American Jew that wanted to could become an Israeli also. It also means that many, many American Jews have friends and relatives with dual citizenship. There's nothing sinister about it. It's just a policy born out of the Holocaust that seeks to bring the Jews back to their historical homeland.

    That said, I think this fact makes it even more imperative on American Jews to be critical of failed Israeli policies...one can still be a supporter of Israel overall, and not like the continued settlement of the West Bank...

    ReplyDelete
  2. There's nothing sinister about it.

    Yes, exactly! Part of my point that there are Brazilian and Ghanaian and Chinese and Russian, etc., people with dual loyalties. I think you don't understand the context of this discussion-- it has been an article of faith within the discussion of Israel that suggesting that any American Jews have feelings of dual loyalty is definitionally anti-Semitic. Here we have someone in Shmuel Rosner who's bona fides for supporting Israel are unquestionable, and he's saying that American Jews have dual loyalty. So which is it? Is it anti-Semitic to assume dual loyalty or not? I don't think Jews have a responsibility to be loyal to Israel, as Rosner explicitly does. I don't think anything like all American Jews have a sense of dual loyalties. But I'm sure some do, just like some Finnish people do, some Jamaican people do.... And saying that, as should be clear, is not saying that they are somehow double agents, or disloyal to America. Yet that is precisely what is asserted by many on the hard-line.

    Then again, the terrorists aren't helping much either.

    Sure. But I defy you to find a single mainstream voice that argues otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Freddie--

    I have many pro-Israel friends, some Jews, and I have not heard this notion of dual-loyalty being anti-Semitic. I have not, for instance, heard Joseph Lieberman derided as anti-Semitic for being obviously loyal to both countries. I have heard Zionist conspiracy theories about such dual loyalty and the fearsome Israel lobby...but perhaps that is another story altogether.

    Regarding your challenge, I would simply submit to you the near-ubiquitous embrace of the late Yasser Arafat by heads of government, much of the international media, etc. If Arafat wasn't a terrorist, than I'm not sure what defines terrorism. No, he was no Osama bin Laden, but then again this sort of wishy-washy pseudo-government, pseudo-terrorism that Arafat practiced is in a way even worse.

    Now, I'm not a hard-liner. I advocate discussion with these groups, with heads of rogue states, etc. But I do think that any critique of Israel needs to be accompanied by a recognition that there are daily terrorist attacks on that country. This often times cripples any moderate proposals in the Knesset. This makes it very difficult to muster the sort of political capital necessary to actually do anything, which is why, I think, you always see the most drastic moves being made by the conservatives there, ironically.

    In any case, I'll have to look into this "dual loyalty anti-semitism" business more...

    ReplyDelete
  4. http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/07/02/israel_iran/index.html?view=print

    ReplyDelete
  5. Regarding your challenge, I would simply submit to you the near-ubiquitous embrace of the late Yasser Arafat by heads of government, much of the international media, etc. If Arafat wasn't a terrorist, than I'm not sure what defines terrorism. No, he was no Osama bin Laden, but then again this sort of wishy-washy pseudo-government, pseudo-terrorism that Arafat practiced is in a way even worse.

    PS Fair point, although it seems to me this was less prevalent than you think. But I could easily be wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  6. So I see you're point. This seems to occur not so much when the question of dual loyalty arises, but when a commentator questions the primary loyalty of a politician and implies that it is to Israel. Then this commentator is labeled as anti-Semitic, which is obviously (usually) absurd.

    Indeed, the Right has used the term as a bludgeon against the anti-war movement on the Right and Left. I completely agree that it is wrong and cheapens the concept. There are anti-Semitic people out there who deserve the label, after all.

    I also agree that Jews should not feel compelled to some sense of loyalty to Israel. Many do not, and that hardly makes them anti-Semitic. The McCarthyesque tactics of shutting down debate over the ME with smears and fear mongering is obviously a shallow, base tactic and should be discouraged.

    That's just not how I read your post, I suppose...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Your snide remarks about Hitchens, et al are embarrassing. Whether you agree with them on not, they've paid their dues and don't write about what other bloggers write about what they write about and vice versa. You should save this kind of stuff for private conversations instead of revealing you small-mindedness to the world.

    Your post lacks a beginning, an end, and a middle. It's a jumble of poorly-understood so-called ideas.

    For example, I have no idea what on earth you can mean by the "Israeli project." Would that be uniting the lands between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates under Jewish domination? Would it be survival in the face of war declared against it by twenty Arab/Muslim countries? Would it be creating a prosperous and democratic state that offers security to Jews anywhere? After all, if the Jews had had an army like they do today, then goys like you wouldn't have been able to persecute them for centuries.

    Israel is our ally. We also have alliances with GB, Australia, and others that can be called "strategic," where "a combination of the economic, military, diplomatic and intelligence benefits" is national policy. Given the threats Israel faces, it's only natural that we give them military aid. Israel's enemies have their own resources in their war to exterminate Israel. Even so, the PLO was the beneficiary of Soviet aid and so was Syria and Nasser's Egypt back in the 50s-60s. This is about a tiny nation whose existence is attacked by the most oil-rich nations on earth. Surely your sense of fair-play would justify helping Israel to level the playing field.

    These contradictions you see in Goldberg and others don't exist. They criticize Israel. They support Israel. Nothing there that needs extensive interpretation by you. You should know that the "dual loyalty" charge is not about people feeling affinity for another country and having conflicted thoughts when these have conflicting policies. It's about the denunciations of the "Israel lobby's" preponderant influence over US policy, and at the more extreme, it's about denouncing the ZOG.

    How, exactly, do "ardent supporters" of Israel silence criticism? If those critics are denouncing the ZOG/"Israel lobby," then they deserve to be derided as cranks and probably accused of anti Semitism. If they don't, then nobody tries to silence them, least of all "ardent supporters" of Israel because, as you note (without really thinking about it) they will have a lot of criticisms and disagreements amongst themselves.

    Anyone can criticize anything—it's a free world. But if the criticisms lack any basis in fact or logic, the the critics deserve what they get: in your case, derision.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Would it be creating a prosperous and democratic state that offers security to Jews anywhere

    Bingo!

    ReplyDelete
  9. E.D. Kain/"Freddie": The hard-liners in Israel are not helping the situation, nor paving the way to peace. Then again, the terrorists aren't helping much either. We have the hard-liners on both sides causing this inertia in the peace process.

    What's a "hard-liner?" The two-state solution is now the "international consensus," which includes Israel and the US as well. But it doesn't include the Arabs. So, to "pave the way to peace" we need the Arab and Muslim states to recognize Israel, etc etc. If fact, the two-state solution has been accepted in theory by the US, Israel, and the UN since the '47 partition. Back then there was no Palestinian people. There were just Arabs. But the the UN partition granted them at least twice as much land as they can ever get now and the Arabs said "no" and invaded Israel to "push it into the sea," as the expression was back then. After the war, what was stopping them for founding a state on the West Bank/Gaza? What was stopping Egypt and Jordan from annexing the land and giving the refugees the security of citizenship, even if it's only Egyptian or Jordanian citizenship.

    Today, "More than half of Palestinians reject a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, reports a poll by An-Najah National University." On the other hand, "74% of Israelis favor a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a recent poll by Market Watch."

    "57.4 % of the Palestinians support the halt of the suicide bombings inside Israel" according to the Palestinian Center For Public Opinion.

    You think it's "imperative on American Jews to be critical of failed Israeli policies." This lowly blog debate is evidence that American Jews' criticisms. But why isn't it also imperative on American Arabs and Muslims to be critical of failed Arab policies, like opposition to Israel's existence and sixty-some-odd years of war and suicide murders that have yielded them nothing but more war.

    ReplyDelete
  10. When suggested by someone perceived as an enemy of the Israeli project (which simply means anyone not in line with the most radically hawkish Israeli right), that is commonly referred to as "dual loyalty", and suggesting that any Jews whatsoever feel it or have it is a blood libel, demonstrating the shrieking anti-Semitism of the person making the suggestion.

    Now you say that the "Israeli project" means "creating a prosperous and democratic state that offers security to Jews anywhere."

    So—explain how this "project" is exclusive of the most hawkish Israeli right etc etc. Explain how would you refer to enemies of this project. If people call them "anti Semites," I'll understand why. Moreover, I wouldn't have any alternative label. Do you?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Exactly. If so many Israelis favor a two-state solution than it must be only the hard-liners who don't. There are problems with the settlements, and denying that is just obsequiousness to a long line of failed policies. Also, critical is not the same as "anti". The best criticism I get is from my peers, not my enemies.

    I believe in the State of Israel, but I also think that continued settlement in the West Bank is a disastrous policy. I don't agree with Freddie's use of the term "Israeli project" in negative terms, however. Israel, as a project, still has my support and admiration.

    ReplyDelete
  12. First of all, Roque, you are allowed to be ass to me, but not to my other commenters, capiche?

    The Zionist project as I understand and support it is a project to build and maintain a homeland for Jews where they can practice their religion and culture free from oppression or violence. As I am a democrat, I believe that the state should not have an explicitly religious character itself, though that's something of a philosophical distinction. I have always supported the Zionist project by this definition, I have been consistent and vocal in that fact, and I feel no particular need to appease you or anyone else on the subject.

    The project is not exclusive of the hawkish right; but I don't think that the prosperity and security of Israel is best supported by the hawkish right. That's just my opinion, one that happens to be shared by many, many Israelis, and as it happens, Shmuel Rosner and Jeff Goldberg.

    As far as whether it's imperative that Arabs criticize failed Arab policies, of course, but let's be clear: not all Arabs are Palestinians, and taking Palestinians to task for the misdeeds of all Arabs is bigoted and wrong. What's more, the fact that Israel is a robust, functioning democracy is precisely why Israeli sentiment matters so much. Israel has the capacity for positive change through debate, in a way that is sadly lacking in many parts of the Arab world.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Freddie:

    Where was I being an ass?


    ED Kain:

    Fine with me. Only hard-liners oppose the two-state solution. Those are a minority in Israel and a majority in the Arab/Muslim world. So Arabs and Muslims are hard-liners. We agree.

    Getting back to "Freddie," the people criticizing the Israeli hard-liners (as you've defined the term) are never derided or excluded from the conversation like he wants us to believe. In fact, they write for Haaretz and TNR.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Freddie:

    The project is not exclusive of the hawkish right; but I don't think that the prosperity and security of Israel is best supported by the hawkish right. That's just my opinion, one that happens to be shared by many, many Israelis, and as it happens, Shmuel Rosner and Jeff Goldberg.

    So you've backed down quite a bit here. Were you taking pot shots at the "hawkish Israeli right" all along and I didn't notice? If so, why is this such a controversial position to take? You even say that millions of Israelis share your opinion.

    First you say that ardent supporters of "the Israeli project" often try to silence criticism of Israel. But then you say that the "project" is a prosperous country etc etc and this is not exclusive to the "hawkish right." Who but a crank or an anti Semite would criticize this "project?" Who is ever derided as a crank, written out of the conversation, or accused of anti Semitism etc etc for criticizing the "hawkish right?" You're not making any sense at all.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sigh.

    So you've backed down quite a bit here. Were you taking pot shots at the "hawkish Israeli right" all along and I didn't notice? If so, why is this such a controversial position to take? You even say that millions of Israelis share your opinion.

    This is an entirely banal point about discussions of Israel: there is far more robust criticism of Israel within Israel than in America. Which you would know, if you actually had any education about this subject at all. The hawkish right on the issue of Israel and I disagree on what the Zionist project entails. I'm disagreeing with their definition of the Zionist project, and with their tactics.

    First you say that ardent supporters of "the Israeli project" often try to silence criticism of Israel. But then you say that the "project" is a prosperous country etc etc and this is not exclusive to the "hawkish right."

    Part of the point here is that those who take on the mantel of ardent supporters of Israel aren't, in fact, doing the country any favors. I'm criticizing them for what they think is the right thing to do for Israel, and for how they go about rhetorically accomplishing that. There's no contradiction whatsoever in doing that and also supporting Israel peace and prosperity.

    Who but a crank or an anti Semite would criticize this "project?

    You can, in fact, disagree with the project of Zionism and not be motivated by anti-Jewish hatred. And, again, it matters what you define the Zionist enterprise to be. If Zionism means a stable and prosperous Israel, I support it. If Zionism means no Palestinians in Palestine whatsoever, as some believe, then I don't. See?

    Who is ever derided as a crank, written out of the conversation, or accused of anti Semitism etc etc for criticizing the "hawkish right?

    This is simple ignorance, and it's made worse by your acting like your ignorance is a stain on someone else's argument. It happens all the time, whether it's Abe Foxman or Leon Wieseltier or Ron Rosenbaum or Alan Dershowitz or the Pollacks or whoever. All the time. Which you would know, if you did even basic reading on the subject. You could read Joe Klein or Mickey Kaus or Matt Yglesias or Glenn Greenwald or any host of people.

    I really think, Roque, that you're a perfect example of "modern American jackassery", someone thinking that they are perfectly qualified to render opinions on a subject they no nothing about. You're lacking even basic understanding about the American conversation on Israel, and accusing me of not making sense. Maybe, just maybe, your wild intuitions and ignorance are the problem, not any confusion on my part?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Not, you know, to be too hard on you.

    ReplyDelete
  17. The main point is that you said that "ardent supporters of Israel often [try] to silence criticism of Israel, write them out of the conversation, deride them as a cranks, and probably accuse them of anti-Semitism. Any criticism of the pro-Israeli hardline becomes in short order an attack on the person making the criticism, as you can bet with unerring certainty that they will be accused of making that criticism because they are anti-Semitic." But you and just about everyone else, aside from a small minority, criticize the "hard-line" Israelis. Even the democratically-elected government of Israel does it—last week they used police power to remove some of the West Bank settlements. Nobody has been derided as a crank or called anti Semitic for criticizing these fanatics.

    The "hawkish right-wing" Israelis are those who deny the Palestinian right to statehood and want to annex the West Bank. You said that their critics are derided as cranks and accused of anti Semitism "all the time, whether it's Abe Foxman or Leon Wieseltier or Ron Rosenbaum or Alan Dershowitz or the Pollacks or whoever."

    OK, Mr Expert on the "American Conversation," give me some examples of the above: people who have been derided etc etc for criticizing the fanatics. Shouldn't be hard for you, as an expert on the American Conversation, especially since this happens "all the time.

    Give some examples of people who believe that" Zionism means no Palestinians in Palestine whatsoever." You won't find anyone serious to promote such an idea, although there may have been a few during the '48-'49 war and again after the "miracle" of the '67 war. But this is long-gone by now. So, again, you're taking a brave stand against people who have already died or retracted. This includes Ariel Sharon, who is still not dead.

    Joe Klein or Mickey Kaus or Matt Yglesias or Glenn Greenwald are not "basic reading" on the Palestine/Israel question. Saying so just reveals your ignorance: that you get what you imagine to be knowledge from people who just retail opinions. They might have worthwhile opinions nevertheless, but reading them is no substitute for acquiring knowledge yourself. Send me an email and I'll be glad to make a reading-list for you.

    Now that you're bringing this down to name-calling (jackass), I want to remind you that you're promoting yourself as an expert, not me. You think you're perfectly qualified to render opinions because you read a bunch of opinions on blogs, not me. You're the one who lacks a basic understanding of this issue, just as you demonstrated when you bloviated about Castro's Cuba.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Here's the link to your Cuba bloviations: http://lhote.blogspot.com/2008/12/what-cuba-can-teach.html

    I defy anyone to read this and/or this stuff about Israel and then conclude that you know anything but what other bloggers say about Cuba, as opposed to "someone thinking that they are perfectly qualified to render opinions on a subject they know nothing about."

    ReplyDelete
  19. What's with the quotes around "Freddie"? Not the first time I've seen it. It's bizarre.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm not making a claim to expertise. Nor am I invoking those journalists because I think they demonstrate expertise. I'm invoking them because you're claiming something doesn't happen, when it's a very simple, banal fact of the discussion. Mainstream journalists and they way they talk about an issue are a pretty good barometer in that regard, wouldn't you say?

    Beyond that-- if you find my position so inimical to intelligent debate, or whatever, why are you here?

    ReplyDelete
  21. 'I think a lot of people underestimate the degree to which punditry is a matter of brand-building. People find a niche. Christopher Hitchens has one goal in everything he writes; he is creating the persona that is Christopher Hitchens. Mickey Kaus claims moderate Democrat identity and supports conservative Republican positions. Ezra Klein does earnest health care policy and flashes those dreamy eyes.'

    Or it might be a result of your seeing writers you read as brands. Any vaguely consistent set of views and enthusiasms can be called a brand; the question is one of intention, which can only be guessed.

    This is too shallow. I might reply that Hitchens is not 'creating the persona' of 'Hitchens': he is Hitchens. Kaus is a liberal with contrarian ideas about specific policy fields (way to build a brand, Kaus!). Klein is a bitesize Yglesias, jazzed rather by health than transport. And they all present nondiffuse personalities in their writing, because they have personalities.

    (Perhaps you are just saying that one feature of successful writing is that it presents consistently such a consistent personality, which may or may not be the writer's. Thereby people get to know a writer, know and trust the hand that threw the bottle with the message inside.)

    But brand-building? If one of them failed day by day to agree with himself, whether out of honesty pedantry or clumsiness, he would just become known as the Contradictory Pundit, the notorious 'guy who can't decide', building cynically his self-revising brand.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Nor am I invoking those journalists because I think they demonstrate expertise.

    You said they were "basic reading." That means "expertise."

    You claim that people who criticize Israel and/or the Israeli "hard liners" are derided as cranks or accused of anti Semitism; I'm saying that that's false. Therefore, it's you who claim "something doesn't happen, when it's a very simple, banal fact of the discussion."

    You claim that Zionism (to the "hard line"?) means no Palestinians in Palestine whatsoever. I said that this was false and asked for some examples of anyone outside the fringe skin-heads who believe that, which you don't give. Again, you're claiming "something doesn't happen, when it's a very simple, banal fact of the discussion."

    You say people are derided as a cranks, written out of the conversation, or accused of anti Semitism etc etc all the time for criticizing the "hawkish right" by people such as "Abe Foxman or Leon Wieseltier or Ron Rosenbaum or Alan Dershowitz or the Pollacks or whoever." I say that's false and asked you for examples, which you can't do. Therefore, once again, you're claiming "something doesn't happen, when it's a very simple, banal fact of the discussion."

    I do not "find [your] position so inimical to intelligent debate, or whatever." I just find you wrong. I'm here because I hate "simple ignorance."

    ReplyDelete
  23. You said they were "basic reading." That means "expertise."

    I see your from that "words have no real meanings" camp.

    ReplyDelete
  24. http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=1293

    http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=1299

    ReplyDelete
  25. basic
    Function:
    adjective
    Text:of or relating to the simplest facts or theories of a subject
    Synonyms: elemental, essential, fundamental, rudimentary, underlying.


    Anyone who can write with authority about the "elemental, essential, fundamental, rudimentary, underlying" history and politics of Palestine/Israel has "expertise."

    I see your from that "words have no real meanings" camp.

    I see "your" from the "apostrophe has no real meaning" camp.

    Why not take a crack at responding to the refutations of your ridiculous canards that I've posted? It might show that you're serious about history and politics. As it stands now, you're just an echo chamber for "Joe Klein or Mickey Kaus or Matt Yglesias or Glenn Greenwald or any host of people."

    While you're at it, explain why you called me an "ass," you silly-billy.

    ReplyDelete
  26. BP:

    Johann Hari says,

    But most of Palestine was not empty. It was already inhabited by people who loved the land, and saw it as theirs. They were completely innocent of the long, hellish crimes against the Jews.

    If he's referring to the nineteenth century, then this is controversial since the demography of the Ottoman Empire has not been described with any accuracy even today. Of course, I'm referring to the places where the Jews settled, which was more or less the land that was allotted to them under the UN partition plan and not the West Bank. On the other hand, before the Jews got there, Palestine was an insalubrious hell-hole. The Jews established the first newspapers, symphony orchestras, theaters, etc etc along with a growing economy. This attracted Arabs from outside Palestine for the opportunities. They were Arabs but not "Palestinian." Indeed, there was no "Palestinian" nationality at all back then—there was hardly an "Arab" nationalism outside the city elites.

    The Arabs were indeed innocent of the crimes committed against Jews in Europeby Christians since the Middle Ages. They had committed their own crimes in the Middle East. Jews could live there, and in many cases thrive, but they were subject to apartheit-like Islamic laws and random persecution. Not as bad as the Christians, but still it was not "innocence."

    In the twentieth century, the situation changed. For example, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem incited riots and massacres against Jews from the 1920s and he lived in Berlin as a protégé of Hitler during WWII as the director of a Nazi radio station beaming anti Semitic propaganda back to the Arab/Muslim world. He was indicted as a war criminal at the Nuremberg trials for organizing death squads to hunt down Jews in Yugoslavia. He escaped to Egypt with the help of the French (figures!), along with many Nazi war criminals, where they were welcomed and given jobs in the government and security services under Nasser.

    When it became clear these Palestinians would not welcome becoming a minority in somebody else’s country, darker plans were drawn up. Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, wrote in 1937: “The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.” So, for when the moment arrived, he helped draw up Plan Dalit. It was – as Israeli historian Ilan Pappe puts it – “a detailed description of the methods to be used to forcibly evict the people: large scale intimidation; and laying siege to and bombarding population centres.” In 1948, before the Arab armies invaded, this began to be implemented: some 800,000 people were ethnically cleansed, and Israel was built on the ruins.

    Calling the Palestinians a "minority in someone else's country" is a fallacy. There were no "Palestinians." There were only "Arabs." The "country" Hari refers to was today's Jordan. Palestine was partitioned from Jordan by the British.

    Ben Gurion was not Prime Minister in 1937. He later recanted the words Hari quotes. These words are always quoted by Palestinians but they're essentially meaningless since they did not represent anything like a policy of the state of Israel, which didn't exist when ben Gurion spoke them. They may show the attitude of the "hard-line" Israelis, but we have already established that this is a minority and in no way do they show the policies of the state of Israel.

    In 1948, before the Arab armies invaded, the Arabs living in the British mandate territories (the Palestinians) began a guerilla war against Jews. It wasn't a peaceful place before the invasion, like Hari implies. It's true that ethnic cleansing did take place, but this does not account for all of the 800 thousand refugees. This is still a controversial topic for historians, but Hari should read Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem. Morris is also a "left-wing" Israeli critic. It's a thousand-page book that can't be summarized easily, least of all by such blithe statements as Hari's.

    There were also 800 thousand Jewish refugees from countries in the Middle East as a result of ethnic cleansing. The Jewish community of Iraq was wiped out. It had been the center of Jewish live for centuries—even before the Islamic conquests.

    The so-called right of return that Hari hypes is probably the only thing that Israelis and Palestinians agree on: it will destroy the Jewish state. There are some five million so-called refugees today, not the three million that Hari says. Israel has seven million people, of whom two million are Arabs.

    Moreover, there is no such thing as the "right of return." There were many millions of refugees in the world in the aftermath of WWII, of whom 800 thousand were Palestinian Arabs and another 800 thousand were Arab Jews. The only group still claiming refugee status after sixty years is the Palestinian Arabs. The rest were absorbed into whatever country they went to without much fanfare. The same could have happened to the Palestinian Arabs if the other Arab nations had wanted to do it. But they didn't because they couldn't and can't accept a state in their midst run by "inferior" Jews.

    None of the relevant UN Resolutions mention anything like a "right of return." They call for a "just solution" for the refugee problem. This was offered to the Palestinians in 2000 in Clinton's Camp David fiasco and it was refused. It included receiving the 300 thousand Palestinian refugees that Hari mentions, plus some kind of reparations for the rest. Like every other right we have today, if the Palestinians want it, they have to fight for it, which is what they're doing. They're still losing. It's not helpful for others to be demanding the right for them, even if they imagine themselves to be humanitarian, like Hari does.

    The analogy Hari makes with England and the Kurds is just silly. It's false. The Jews never sent any armies to Palestine. They went with the permission of the Ottoman authorities, who thought that European Jews would create development in the hell-hole that Palestine had become and they were right about that. They bought the land from its owners, who were feudal landlords living in Beirut and Istanbul. They evicted their ex-serfs, not the Jews. The Israeli army only existed after 1948, although a self-defense force did exist beginning in the 1920s. This was part of the allied forces in WWII.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Freddie,

    You are being uncharitable to Rosner. He doesn't say that American Jews have a duty to publicly support Israel. Rather, he claims that American Jews can best help Israel by publicly supporting her.

    There is nothing wrong with an American Jew wanting to help Israel. There is nothing wrong with her wanting to know how best to do so. Rosner is telling us what he thinks is the best way to help Israel. This does not mean that he thinks that American Jews have a duty to do so. Your ire is wholly unjustified.

    ReplyDelete
  28. First, Sabina's hat, I thought it was clear that my ire wasn't directed at Rosner but at the people who make belief in dual loyalties a mark of, at best, noxious attitudes towards Israel. I was demonstrating that Rosner, someone who I think we can all admit has impeccable credentials when it comes to supporting Israel.

    As far as whether or not Rosner thinks Jews have a duty to be loyal to Israel or not, well, I find that line about it being your duty even if you didn't choose it to be pretty plain English; but I could be wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Freddie,

    Fair enough. I missed that line about it being an unchosen responsibility in an evidently too hurried read of the interview.

    ReplyDelete
  30. David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, told a Zionist Conference in 1937 that any proposed Jewish state would have to "transfer Arab populations out of the area, if possible of their own free will, if not by coercion."[8]Report of the Congress of the World Council of Paole Zion, Zurich, July 29-August 7, 1937, pp. 73-74.

    We were told not to try to speak to Ben Gurion, but when I saw him, I asked why, since Israel is a democracy with a parliament, does it not have a constitution? Ben Gurion said, "Look, boy"-I was 24 at the time-"if we have a constitution, we have to write in it the border of our country. And this is not our border, my dear." I asked, "Then where is the border?" He said, "Wherever the Sahal will come, this is the border." Sahal is the Israeli army. Article by Naim Giladi, author of Ben Gurion's Scandals: How the Haganah & the Mossad Eliminated Jews, http://www.real-debt-elimination.com/real_freedom/Propaganda/false_flag_attacks/false_flag_attacks_on_jews_in_iraq.htm

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.