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"Why They Deny the Holocaust":

Via Concurring Opinions, a disturbing op-ed explaining why Holocaust denial finds so much of the Islamic world to be fertile ground:

Western leaders today who say they are shocked by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's conference this week denying the Holocaust need to wake up to that reality. For the majority of Muslims in the world, the Holocaust is not a major historical event that they deny. We simply do not know it ever happened because we were never informed of it. . . .

. . . For generations, the leaders of these so-called Muslim countries have been spoon-feeding their populations a constant diet of propaganda similar to the one that generations of Germans (and other Europeans) were fed — that Jews are vermin and should be dealt with as such? In Europe, the logical conclusion was the Holocaust. If Ahmadinejad has his way, he shall not want for compliant Muslims ready to act on his wish.

FantasiaWHT:
I never really understood this... wouldn't Muslims be thrilled with the idea of that many Jews being killed? Or are they just jealous that somebody else got to it first?
12.21.2006 3:05pm
magoo (mail):
Another perspective:

Muslims Mark Solidarity With Jews
Event Held Days After Iranian Meeting That Denied Genocide
By Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 21, 2006; Page B05

Local Muslim leaders lit candles yesterday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to commemorate Jewish suffering under the Nazis, in a ceremony held just days after Iran had a conference denying the genocide.

Around the hexagonal room, candles limmered under the engraved names of the death camps: Chelmno. Auschwitz-Birkenau. Majdanek.

"We stand here with three survivors of the Holocaust and my great Muslim friends to condemn this outrage in Iran," said Sara J. Bloomfield, the museum's director, addressing a bank of TV cameras in the room, known as the Hall of Remembrance.
The museum, she noted, holds "millions of pieces of evidence of this crime."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad organized last week's conference after Western countries protested his comment last year that the slaughter of 6 million Jews was a myth. The two-day meeting drew historical revisionists and such people as David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

Major American Muslim and Arab-American organizations have condemned the Iran conference. The Muslim speakers at yesterday's ceremony did not mention that event but called for recognition of the suffering Jews experienced in the Holocaust and condemned religious hatred. Asked afterward why they did not single out Iran, the Muslim leaders said the problem was broader than the recent conference.
"The issue here is: There might be somebody from X and Y country, a Muslim, saying the same thing," Magid said. If anyone wants to make Holocaust denial an Islamic cause, he said, "we want to say to them: You cannot use our name."
Museum officials said a Muslim delegation had never before made such a public statement at the memorial building.

After the speeches yesterday, Bloomfield invited the visitors to light candles to remember the Holocaust victims and Muslims who rescued some of the besieged Jews. One by one, the guests silently shuffled along the wallside bank of candles: the tall imam in his round Muslim cap, known as a kufi; a woman in a Muslim head scarf; Muslim men in business suits; and three elderly women in pantsuits from the D.C. suburbs, survivors of the genocide.

One of them, Johanna Neumann, recounted at the ceremony how Muslims saved her Jewish family. Members of her family had fled from Germany to Albania, where Muslim families sheltered them and hid their identity during the Nazi occupation.

"Everybody knew who we were. Nobody would even have thought of denouncing us" to the Nazis, said the tiny 76-year-old Silver Spring resident. "These people deserve every respect anybody can give them."

The idea for the ceremony originated with Magid, whose Sterling mosque has been active in interfaith efforts. After hearing radio reports about the Iranian meeting, "I said to myself, 'We have to, as Muslim leaders . . . show solidarity with our fellow Jewish Americans,' " Magid recalled after the speeches.

He contacted Akbar Ahmed, an American University professor active in inter-religious dialogue, who asked the museum to hold the ceremony.

"It's important that the world knows there are Muslims who don't believe in this [Holocaust denial]," Ahmed said after the ceremony. Also in the delegation were representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Bloomfield, the museum director, noted that Magid delayed his trip to Mecca for the annual hajj pilgrimage by a day to attend the ceremony.

"That's a pretty strong statement," she said.

The Holocaust victims expressed gratitude for the gesture by the Muslims.

"We could live together in peace if only more of these things were happening," said Halina Peabody, 74, a native of Poland who lives in Bethesda.
12.21.2006 3:29pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
What is odd is that the second largest Jewish population in the Middle East (next to Israel) is in Iran. The Jews in Iran live relatively well moreover. I think the Iranians distinguish between their Jews and other Jews.
12.21.2006 3:35pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
The Muslims are not particularly happy with the Hindus, or the Sikhs either. With the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947 millions of Sikhs left West Punjab in Muslim Pakistan for East Punjab in the newly formed Indian nation. I have not confirmed this, but I’ve heard that the kirpan (ceremonial small sword that Sikhs must carry) originated from attacks by Muslims. If Israel disappeared, or all Jews for that matter, there would still be serious conflict between Islam and all other religions. For example the problems in Kashmir have nothing to do Israel. The conflict between Christian Greek Cypriots and Muslim Turkish Cypriots also has nothing to do with Israel or the Jews. The Cyprus problem has calmed down a lot since the Muslims migrated north to what is essentially an unrecognized Turkish state, and the Christians migrated south. Perhaps the ultimate solution is simply separation and no immigration.
12.21.2006 3:39pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
“What is odd is that the second largest Jewish population in the Middle East (next to Israel) is in Iran. The Jews in Iran live relatively well moreover.”

Iran has 20,000 Jews which is less than Turkey (30,000) and even less than Brazil (130,000) and much less than even the sparsely populated Canada (371,000).

As to Jews in Iran living relatively well, Arrests hang over Iran's small Jewish community, and they are subject to restrictions—“Iranian Jews are allowed to practice aspects of their religion but are forbidden to teach Hebrew, the liturgical language.”
12.21.2006 3:53pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Iran may have the second-largest Jewish population in the Middle East, after Israel, but that's probably because so few Muslim Middle Eastern countries have any significant number of Jews -- the estimates that I've seen are 11,000, 20,000, and 25,000, which is to say less than 0.05% of the total population.
12.21.2006 3:54pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
I don't argue with Prof. Volokh's point -- all the Jews of the Middle East -- Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, and Lebanon -- were kicked out despite having literally ancient roots on those places. The Iraqi Jewish community was the oldest continuous Jewish community in the world next to Israel (and even that is arguable given that Jews although continuously present in Israel did not have any continuous communities as old as the Iraqi community going back to 500 or so BCE).

As to the claim that Jews are not allowed to teach Hebrew in Iran, I am very dubious of that report. It reminds me of the report that Jews had to wear Yellow Stars in Iran, which was debunked as a fraud. I do not defend Jews' treatment in Iran at all. I am a Jew, a partially-Mizrahi Jew at that. But I was noting the irony of Iran's relative (note relative) tolerance for Jews even after the Ayatollah's rise (they have not been kicked out like they were everywhere else for one thing) with Iran's current adoption of European-style anti-semitism.

One more point: Turkey I have always understood to have less Jews than Iran (maybe that's changed). The comparisons to Brazil and Canada are irrelevant, unless those countries have just moved to the Middle East (in which case, I have not been reading news, or perpahs the liberal MSM is ignoring these geological events in order to focus on the suppsedly "bad news" from Iraq).
12.21.2006 4:17pm
VFBVFB (mail):
Greedy Clerk:

I do not think that how many Jews live in a country is necessarily a reflection of that country’s tolerance towards Jews. Most people do not want to relocate to a new place and leave everything they had behind, even if they face some persecution in their current place. A better indication than the absolute number of Jews living in a place is the percentage change over a recent period of time. The reality is that the percentage of Jews who left Iran after the Islamic revolution is substantial.
12.21.2006 4:27pm
JohnAnnArbor (www):
The larger number (relatively) of Iranian Jews might be because Iran recognized Israel up until 1979. They didn't expel their Jews like many Arab nations did in the late 1940s.
12.21.2006 4:51pm
Michael B (mail):
"Western leaders today who say they are shocked by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's conference this week denying the Holocaust need to wake up to that reality." from the article

Some critical aspects of that reality:

European Roots of Antisemitism in Current Islamic Thinking

Islamic Antisemitism And Its Nazi Roots

National Socialism and Anti-Semitism in the Arab World

Jihadism and Antisemitism

German Silence: Nazis, Jihad, and the Left
12.21.2006 5:03pm
KevinM:
From the article:
"With great conviction, my half-sister cried: 'It's a lie! Jews have a way of blinding people. They were not killed, gassed or massacred. But I pray to Allah that one day all the Jews in the world will be destroyed.'"

This encapsulates for me what I (as a non-Jewish outside observer) have always felt about one of the logical disconnects (one of many) in the world view of Holocaust deniers: i.e., the strange attitude that "It never happened, and I'm glad it did." Your natural reaction would be to think that the deniers would be evading some sort of guilt, either on the part of themselves or others. They're not -- they're glad it happened and would have willingly participated. The denial can be understood mostly in instrumental terms: the deniers want to subvert any moral claims, inflict emotional pain, undermine the legitimacy of Israel, justify their antisemitism by portraying themselves as the true victims (of Jewish lies), etc.
12.21.2006 5:05pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Greedy Clerk:

I gave the Jewish populations of a few non-Middle Eastern countries just to provide some perspective on the smallness the Iranian Jewish community relative to other places in the world where Jews have some minimal presence.

As to the claim that Jews are not allowed to teach Hebrew, your skepticism could be justified. But let’s remember people were skeptical of what has happening to the European Jews at one time. As for being Jewish yourself, I’m afraid that alone carries little weight with me. Some of the worst anti-Semites I know are themselves of Jewish heritage. I’m not saying this applies to you, and I doubt it does.
12.21.2006 5:16pm
poster child (mail):
I suspect that the Iranians treat Persian Jews a little better than the Arab countries treat their native Jews because the Iranians, underneath all of the crazy Khomeinist rhetoric, are a little bit more civilized than the Arabs. Of course, that's what also makes them more dangerous--if the Iranians decide to build a nuclear bomb, there's a good chance that they're competent enough to build one that actually works.
12.21.2006 5:27pm
happylee:

. . . For generations, the leaders of these so-called Muslim countries have been spoon-feeding their populations a constant diet of propaganda similar to the one that generations of Germans (and other Europeans) were fed — that Jews are vermin and should be dealt with as such? In Europe, the logical conclusion was the Holocaust. If Ahmadinejad has his way, he shall not want for compliant Muslims ready to act on his wish.


Not exactly on the thread, but couldn't the same be said of white/anglos/wasps, etc in the US today? What heinous crime against nature is not directly and regularly pinned on the evil white race (especially the affluent and men)? And what sort of "logical conclusion" awaits the anglo devils?

I have to confess to being hooked on the shenanigans at Duke. There, but for my aversion to strippers, go I. Some faculty at Duke appear to have argued that the Duke boys should be convicted for being rich-white-kids (that's one word). That's not nice.

I can almost envision myself at a train station some day, standing in front of some seated, uniformed bureaucrat/soldier/cop. "Name and heritage, please."
"Hmm, so, vanilla face, have you ever owned an SUV?"
"Ah, I see. Global warming not an issue for you. And what did you do for a living?"
"Oh, Mr. Attorney-man. Suckling off the surplus labor of the poor who cannot afford legal representation. Nice."
Turning to burly fellow: Captain! This one goes in the train, boxcar 2. Bye bye."
"Next!"
12.21.2006 5:51pm
Henri LeCompte (mail):
As for anti-semitism in Iran, I can only speak from personal experience. I have had the pleasure of knowing quite a few Iranian ex-pats in my day. Mainly people who fled at the time of the Shah's fall. In fact, my sister is married to a first generation Iranian immigrant.

A more pleasant group of people you would be hard pressed to find, but without exception they absolutely hate Israel and buy into almost any form of anti-Israel propaganda. It is an amazing phenomenon, really. Well educated people who are otherwise hardworking, sensible, well-to-do, you name it. But completely unhinged on the topic of Israel.

I suspect that there many here in the West that have no idea the level of irrationality that exists in the Middle East when it comes to the Jews. (And, yes, the hatred of Israel almost always becomes Jew-hatred.) It is taught in the schools and uniformly steeped into the culture. It is like a secret hand-shake. You will never be "let in" to the life of an Arab (or Persian) these days, unless they know you are "not on their side."

Perhaps there is nothing more intoxicating than having someone to hate; someone upon whom all the problems of the world can be blamed? I shake my head in dismay at the naivete of so many of our politicians when they blather on about "peace talks" and the like. Never going to happen; not with this generation anyway. (And not once Iran gets nuclear weapons. Once that happens (and it will), I suspect that we are irrevocably on a slippery slope to a second holocaust.)
12.21.2006 6:03pm
poster child (mail):

A more pleasant group of people you would be hard pressed to find, but without exception they absolutely hate Israel and buy into almost any form of anti-Israel propaganda. It is an amazing phenomenon, really. Well educated people who are otherwise hardworking, sensible, well-to-do, you name it. But completely unhinged on the topic of Israel.


I've actually known some Persian Bahais. They weren't anti-Israel. In fact, they went there regularly to visit the Bahai Temple in (IIRC) Haifa.
12.21.2006 6:08pm
JohnAnnArbor (www):

Well educated people who are otherwise hardworking, sensible, well-to-do, you name it.

Sounds a tad like many of the citizens of a certain large European nation, say around 1938.
12.21.2006 6:39pm
Michael B (mail):
Western and other leaders, along with the respective polities, might be pressured/lobbied to mount an ideological counter-offensive against the more virulent, irrational, counter-historical and counter-factual forms of anti-Semitism. An inter-generational effort, certainly, also rife with a likelihood of more failures than successes. But without beginning the effort we're unlikely to know where some inroads might be obtained, how to counter failures with new strategies/tactics, etc.

Such an effort would also serve as a prismatic indicator of inroads that might be obtained in terms of broader (beyond the subject of anti-Semitism per se), rationally based forms of cross-cultural dialog, which import, btw, was a primary focus of Benedict's Regensberg address.

Whatever the "answer" is, in terms of a response, it's difficult to believe that merely defensive reactions and a mere acceptance of the status quo amounts to any viable answer whatsoever. As with the effort in Iraq, which reflects a long-term strategic vision (v. Charles Krauthammer), without a strategic, long term, ideological counter-offensive vis-a-vis these more virulent and counter-rational forms of anti-Semitism we'll not likely obtain any inroads whatsoever.
12.21.2006 6:57pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
I appreciate skepticism, and I myself haven't seen definitive evidence that Iran bans the teaching of Hebrew. But an NPR news story from last Sunday does include an interview with an Iranian Jew, and reports:
Among his various activities, Arash teaches the Hebrew language to other Jews. A few months ago, he was called by some government officials who told him to stop teaching Hebrew, so for the time being, he has put his Hebrew classes on hold.
The story also reports,
For a decade before Ahmadinejad's election, though, the atmosphere for Iran's Jews was much better, Arash says. The reformist administration of Ahmadinejad's predecessor, Mohamed Khatami, engaged in a dialogue of civilizations, internationally and domestically, and that included serious interaction with Iran's Jewish community. Since Ahmadinejad's election last year, Arash says, much of that inter-religious dialogue has stopped.
12.21.2006 6:59pm
Michael B (mail):
Realist assessments, while they do exclude utopian imaginings, do not exclude the need to consider long-term strategic assessments, including inter-generational efforts that are not likely to obtain many initial successes and are rife with uncertainties (cf. the Cold War effort). What has been founded and sustained upon deeply rooted, inter-generational efforts reflected in the Muslim Brotherhood, the WWII/Nazi alliance with the Mufti of Jerusalem Amin el-Husseini, etc. won't be undone with the wave of a magic wand. At some level the effort needs to be imagined, envisioned, then given some concrete shape in the real world, the effort more consciously begun.
12.21.2006 7:06pm
Colin (mail):
Western and other leaders, along with the respective polities, might be pressured/lobbied to mount an ideological counter-offensive against the more virulent, irrational, counter-historical and counter-factual forms of anti-Semitism.

Sweet Zombie Jesus, I actually agree with Michael B.* A stronger focus on education and solid historical preservation is a good long-term response to this tragic (and growing?) myopia. In particular, I think that preserved survivors' oral histories and physical evidence should be emphasized, both to help students empathize and to prepare them to rebut the most common lies about the Holocaust.


* Well, not with "the effort in Iraq . . . reflects a long-term strategic vision." But most of the rest of it.
12.21.2006 7:40pm
C Moss (mail):
I think it's simple why people deny the Holocaust. Two reasons:

a) They wish to evade some specific or complicit guilt, eg Germans, those who kept silent, etc.

b) They want to do it again.
12.21.2006 8:05pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Why would Muslims have any saner attitudes toward Jews than, say, toward non-Arab Muslims in Darfur, or Buddhist Thais in Thailand?

It's possible that Iranian Muslim and general Muslim views about Jews and/or Israelis are specially vicious. Wouldn't surprise me a bit, if it could be quantified.

But Muslim attitudes to infidels generally are bad. 250,000 murdered Chinese in Indonesia sort of sets the tone, doesn't it?
12.21.2006 9:06pm
brachiator (mail) (www):
One reason for those eager to see "all the Jews in the world will be destroyed" to deny the Holocaust seems to be that it would deny "the Jews" a claim to being victims. That way, "the Jews" can be oppressed for their supposed sins without a second thought or comparison to what the deniers implicitly recognize were horrors.

If "the Jews" are not victims, as well, then a major philosophical and rhetorical basis for the existence of Israel, especially as a "Jewish State," evaporates. So, too, does the righteousness of Jewish people's efforts against intolerance and racism.

There are good reasons to be angry at the formation of the Israeli state, to oppose its existence beyond the pre-1967 borders and to oppose its existence as a fundamentally apartheid "Jewish State." The notion that the Holocaust didn't happen is not one of those reasons.

The memory of the Holocaust may well have been overused, commodified, cheapened and used by some people to discount other groups' suffering, but that is an easy trade-off to make when the alternative is forgetting or denial.

As it happens, I imagine no one wants to be a Hitler. People only want their god to be a Hitler, and far too many believe that Allah is.

On the other hand, its also a question of education and acculturation. If you've been taught "the Jews" are "evil" and stole land from what Abbas recently referred to as the "Islamic endowment," you are less likely to see them as vulnerable humans like yourself.

Why is it again we are pals with Wahabbist Saudi Arabia?
12.21.2006 9:21pm
Michael B (mail):
Colin,

It's good to see you taking a more rational detour and approach this time.

However, as pertains to Iraq per se, you'd have to disagree with Charles Krauthammer since all I did was ref. his overview, analysis and prescriptive assessment. I don't care to derail the focus of this particular thread, but I'd suggest you and likeminded others need to more thoughtfully examine what Krauthammer has to say - and only thereafter agree or disagree.

Saying that, and again not wanting to derail the focus of this, in my view, equally critical topic (since it forms such an intrinsic aspect of the ideologies needing to be faced), I was referencing Krauthammer's essay/overview as little more than analogy. The most salient and critical aspects that serve as valid analogies are 1) the long-term, inter-generational strategic vision that is germane to both scenarios and 2) the unlikely prospects for simple, short-term successes given the various histories that need to be squarely faced, and overcome.

In both cases we remain at a germinal, not a more advanced, stage.

Too, as Harry Eager's comment serves to suggest, we may need to come to terms with the more intractable nature of some aspects of the conflict - i.e. general war or at least some critical aspects that cannot be resolved without military initiatives.
12.21.2006 9:25pm
Michael B (mail):
The arrogation and sneer concerning the putatively "apartheid" state of Israel can be variously and extensively countered along empirical/historical and rational lines. One such counter as historical corrective is Big Lies (small pdf).
12.21.2006 9:32pm
brachiator (mail) (www):
"Arrogation," Michael B? What am I arrogating to myself?

Not a sneer, but sadness. My use of "apartheid" was inflammatory but broadly correct. Israel manages its demographics and politics along "racial," ethnic and religious criteria.

The Meir-Levy piece was interesting but beside the point. I am amazed that Israeli apologists still argue, "Well, we are better than the Arabs!" Talk about damning with faint praise.
12.21.2006 10:41pm
Jimmy Carter:
I find the commentary that Jews were run out from Iraq amusing and historically confused. Here are some passages, along with my commentary, from "The Gun and the Olive Branch", a history of the Middle East by David Hirst, a journalist reporting on and living in the Middle East for several decades.

Last day of Passover, April, 1950; Baghdad: the oldest Jewish community in the world, dating back to the time of Nebuchadnezzar; 130,000 Iraqi Jews.

A small bomb goes off in the esplanade where 50,000 Jews had gathered. By luck, no one was injured. Nonetheless, it sent fear through the Jewish community. Rumors that Iraqi extremists wanted to kill them spread. The murmur began "It is better to go to Israel".

10,000 Jews registered to emigrate. These were among the poorest Iraqi Jews, with the least to lose. The panic abated and registration to emigrate petered off. Only 120 Jews actually left Iraq.

Another bomb, this time at the US Information Center, where many Jews regularly gathered to read. Again Iraqi extremists were blamed. Again, fortuitously, no one was harmed. Once again, panic and push to emigrate to Israel, though less than before.

The third bomb did claim victims, outside the Mas'uda Shemtov synagogue, which served as an assembly point for emigrants. The bomb went off when the synagogue was full of Kurdish Jews from the northern city of Suleimaniyyah. A Jewish boy outside the synagogue was distributing sweetmeats. He was killed instantly. The man behind him was badly wounded in the eyes. This time the panic was in full force. Better to leave Iraq while there was still time.

Within the year, the oldest Jewish community in the world had gone from 130,000 to 5,000 souls.

It turns out the bombs were actually the work of "The Movement", a Zionist underground in contact with Yigal Allon, chief of Palmach commandos, subsequently a Foreign Minister of Israel.

There were 15 arrests (in Iraq). One, Shalom Salih, broke down during interrogation and took police from synagogue to synagogue showing them Haganah arms caches smuggled in since W.W.II. The prosecution argued at trial that the Zionist underground was trying, through the throwing of bombs, to frighten Iraqi Jews to emigrate to Israel. Two defendants were sentenced to death, the others to long prison terms. One of the imprisoned Jews, given a life sentence but actually freed from Iraqi prison after ten years and himself then emigrating to Israel, broke the Jewish silence on the story during an interview in May 1966 in the Israeli weekly Ha'olam Hazeh.

Perhaps you scoff at the notion of believing the results of an Iraqi trial. But this trial was in the early 1950s, prior to the Islamification of the country, which at that point, until recently under British rule, was quite Western in its courts.

In a story in the "Black Panther" (a publication for Israel's Oriental Jews) in November, 1972, a witness to the trial, an Iraqi lawyer living at the time of the interview in Tel Aviv, said: "the trial was made according to international law. The evidence was just such that it wasn't difficult at all to pronounce such sentences."

One might ask, why was it necessary to frighten Iraqi Jews into moving to Israel? Wouldn't they naturally desire such a move? Not really. Zionism never had as much appeal to Oriental Jews as to European Jews. Prior to 1948, only 10% of Jewish immigrants were from Africa and Asia. The vast majority of Oriental Jews were simply Arab Jews and, historically, they had not suffered anything like the persecution and discrimination as did European Jews under Christendom.

Prejudice against Jews was much less in Iraq than in Europe. One government official in Iraq was quoted (tongue in cheek) as saying "Many of us consider the Jews to be the original inhabitants of this country. We believe, according to the Koran, they are descendants of Abraham and that goes back nearly 4,000 years. Compared to them, therefore, we Muslims are interlopers because we have been here only 1,500 years." At one time Baghdad numbered more Jews than Arab residents. In the 20th century, as an already prosperous, educated community they were particularly well placed to benefit from the rapid development and modernization of the country. They were major players in many national institutions, most of the banks and big shops. The poorest Jews were better off than the average Iraqi. Under the constitution, Jews enjoyed equality with other citizens. They were represented in Parliament, worked in civil service. From 1920 to 1925, the Minister of Finance was Jewish.

Admittedly, Iraq was concerned about Zionism, and this created some pressure on Iraqi Jews, the large majority of whom were not Zionist. In the mid-1940s, Zionist booklets were disseminated in Baghdad entitled "Don't Buy From Moslems". Meanwhile Iraqi Jews, who considered themselves both Arab and Jewish, set up The League for Combating Zionism.

As the Chief Rabbi of Iraq, Sassoon Khedduri, explained in the early 1950s: "The Jews--and the Muslims--in Iraq just took it for granted that Judaism is a religion and Iraqi Jews are Iraqis. The Palestinian problem was remote and there was no question about the Jews of Iraq following the Arab position. By mid-1949 the big propaganda guns were already going off in the United States. American dollars were going to save the Iraqi Jews--whether Iraqi Jews needed saving or not. There were daily 'pogroms'--in the New York Times and under datelines which few noticed were from Tel Aviv. Why didn't someone come to see *us* instead of negotiating with Israel to take Iraqi Jews? Why didn't someone point out that the solid, responsible leadership of Iraqi Jews believed this to be their country--in good times and bad--and we were convinced the trouble would pass."

One might ask, why was Israel making such an effort to ingather Iraqi Jews less than eager to emigrate? It seems they needed the manpower. Most Oriental Jews were recruited into Israel to do menial labor. As one of the Iraqi émigrés told the Black Panther magazine in 1972: One of the most splendid and rich communities [in Iraq] was destroyed, its members reduced to indigents--a community that ruled over most of the resources of Iraq was turned into a ruled group, discriminated against and oppressed in every aspect [in Israel]. A community that prided itself on its scholarship subsequently produced fewer academics, in Israeli universities, than it brought with it from Iraq." The Iraqi émigré, here, is describing the fact that Israel is not a two-tier society, with Jews being treated better than Arab citizens. It is actually a three-tier society, with Oriental Jews looked down upon and discriminated against compared to Jews of European descent.

I believe David Bernstein's uncle was such a displaced Iraqi Jew, although David has referred to his father-in-law's remembrances as fanciful (my recollection of a VC comment of his). Perhaps, though, the old man was right and David is "prejudiced".
12.21.2006 10:58pm
Davide:
"Jimmy Carter's" analysis is, respectfully, daft.

He claims that a "fair" 1950 Iraqi trial "proved" that Jews bombed themselves. He holds up as evidence the "confession" of a tortured Jewish man, Shlomo Salih Shalom.

That's a sick joke.

Shlomo was tortured mercilessly. That's what he said. It's also what the US Ambassador to Iraq, Edward S. Crocker, found.

It's quite revolting that a tortured Jewish man's forced lie is then turned around to damn the Jews whom Iraq tormented. It's even worse when some commenter here, 56 years later, parrots the words of that fatal injustice as some sort of evidence.
12.21.2006 11:21pm
Michael B (mail):
brachiator,

Not "beside the point," rather revealing of some aspects of the critical historical backdrop. It's one piece only, not at all exhaustive of what can be forwarded.

Too, "acknowledging" that holocaust denial is not a valid reason for opposing Israel is a bit like "acknowledging" 1 + 1 = 2 prior to forwarding some type of Lysenkoism. It acknowledges nothing, beyond the obvious, and then leverages that "acknowledgement" to forward an equally vacuous claim. And yes, suggesting Israel is an apartheid state is on roughly equal footing with holocaust denial; the primary difference being the difference in perceptions between an historical scenario (Hitler's holocaust) and a contemporary scenario (Israel's democratic government) that is being subjected to the distortions, the crosscurrents and undertows, of ongoing propaganda, both within the M.E. (e.g., anti-Semitic aggressions, Dar al Islam vs. Dar al harb aggressions) and from the Left and various trans-nationalist orgs such as the E.U. and the U.N.

Carterisms notwithstanding, the "apartheid" assignation reflects far more than benign hyperbole, it reflects Alice-in-Wonderland contortions that serve to reveal, ironically, what Jimmy Carter and similarly corrupted fantasists have to offer: deeply malignant forms of analysis and prescriptions.

In terms of "sadness," we can all claim such emotive, self-affirming forms of "argument," though they're better left in check. And yes, Israel does manage" some of its demographics, but there in nothing inherently wrong with that, given both the post-holocaust founding and given the present dynamics within the M.E., within the dynamics of the trans-nationalist orgs as alluded to above, etc.
12.21.2006 11:28pm
Michael B (mail):
Btw, the Meir-Levy piece (here, again, small pdf) is very much not about "we are better than the Arabs" or anyone else - to the contrary, it's about a warranted, in fact a requisite, historical/empirical corrective of some well promulgated historical corruptions and deceits.
12.21.2006 11:41pm
brachiator (mail) (www):
Michael B,

The Meir-Levi piece is "beside the point" because the history it recites is but excuse, not justification, for improper Israeli action. "Post-Holocaust" founding and Arab opposition justify only so much. At some point, privileging Jewish Israelis and non-Israelis has gone too far. We seem to differ on where that point lies.

For me, gaming the population and political system along 'racial,' ethnic and religious is past the line. You seem to approve of it. It's quite simple.

I don't privilege the state of Israel for being founded after and partially in response to the Holocaust. You seem to. Also simple. In fact, this is corollary to my explanation of why some Judeophobes deny the Holocaust. They want to remove the Holocaust as a justification for Israel. You seem to want to invoke the Holocaust to justify Israeli policies.

It's unnecessary to attribute malignant motives for any of this. It's unnecessary to falsely equate the apartheid epithet with holocaust denial. In fact, your notion that the difference is merely between history and current events cheapens the fact and concept of the Holocaust. You may characterize Israeli policy differently than I do and judge it more charitably, but the facts are not in dispute between us, so far as I can tell.
12.22.2006 12:38am
kerouacbum (www):
As a bit of an aside here, regarding the Jews in Iran. I remember from my class on Modern Iran in college that the Bahais are the most reviled religious group in Iran. They are treated far worse than Jews, for reasons my professor, an Iranian immigrant to the United States, never fully got into.

Here's a quote from wikipedia,


However the Bahá'í Faith, Iran's largest religious minority, is not officially recognized, and has been persecuted during its existence in Iran.



the link to the UN HCHR report is in the WWW above.
12.22.2006 12:49am
Michael B (mail):
brachiator,

Good grief, what a miasma of moral and historical corruptions, together with misrepresentations of my own views.

No one conceded "improper" actions; in that vein your rhetoric belies some basic historical realities along with some contestable issues as well. Scoring rhetorical points is fine, but when attempted in tandem with the denial of basic history it reflects a decidedly "less engaging" quality.

For example, the sui generis aspect of Israel's ethnic/religious demographic makeup is perfectly warranted. Israel undeniably is sui generis in some vital respects and to deny such - within its geographic, ideological, military, political, religious, ethnic, etc. milieu in the M.E. - all in favor of some abstract, PC ideal such as the U.S. and other countries are better positioned for, is to deny reality itself. You speak grandly of "facts" while denying realities containing basic, existential import.

Too, I described the Meir-Levy corrective as providing relevant historical backdrop, not an "excuse," in fact I didn't even allude to "justification," I much more simply and more reservedly stated it served as corrective and backdrop. Ramifications stem from such a corrective, certainly and inevitably, but I'm more than happy to let anyone who cares read it, in whole or in part, and form their own assessments.

For example, a very brief and partial excerpt from the Meir-Levy piece, an excerpt reflecting on the fact there were both Arab refugees coming out of Israel as well as Jewish refugees who were forced to flee Arab countries, emphasis added:

"Some observers have suggested that the dual refugee situation should be understood as a “population exchange” – Arabs fled to Arab countries as Jews fled to the Jewish country, both as a result of the 1948 war, both under conditions which their side regards as forced evacuations. On the other hand, no one on the Arab side has suggested the obvious: if Jewish refugees were resettled on land vacated by fleeing Arabs, why not resettle Arab refugees on the lands of Jews who were forced to flee the Arab countries. One reason no one has suggested this is that no Arab state with the exception of Jordan will even allow Arab refugees to become citizens."

And yet, that's the type of thing you deny relevance to. Too, these types of critical omissions typify not only your own approach, but additionally the approach of journos such as David Hirst, previously referred to by "Jimmy Carter" (or simply Jimmy Carter?) in this thread.

Finally, I did not indiscriminately "equate" holocaust denial with the apartheid assignation, such would devalue the former while placing a disproportionate emphasis upon the latter, at least so in relative terms. What I did say is that your own "acknowledgment" that holocaust denial is not a valid reason for opposing Israel is a bit like "acknowledging" 1 + 1 = 2 prior to forwarding some type of Lysenkoism. I also suggested holocaust denial and the apartheid assignation are "on roughly equal footing" in terms of some basic perceptions, i.e. that they are roughly equivalent in terms of their lack of veracity is not to imply they are equivalent in terms of the tragedies they, differently, reflect. Still, in terms of the lack of veracity per se, they are, again, roughly on equal footing. I.e. suggesting that 1 + 1 = 3 and holocaust denial are roughly on equal footing in terms of their lack of veracity, in the abstract, is not to suggest they "equate" in a general, indiscriminate fashion.

Your wordsmithing, your rhetoric, very much carries a Lysenkoist flavor as it finesses some basic history in order to forward a presumptive, anti-Israel outlook and accompanying ideological intent. Forward such intent if you like, but refrain from doing so in tandem with the denial of relevant history and perspective. Valid histories are requisite, not hagiographies and not distortionist propaganda which serves to deny those histories. And if you're going to talk grandly about "facts" and harrumph about your moral superiority you might actually forward some more specific facts and elucidate relevant moral problems within the full scope of relevant historical and contemporary contexts.

But as you suggest, denial of the holocaust is not a basis for criticizing Israel. For that revelation, for that acknowledgement, the world is duly appreciative.
12.22.2006 5:03am
Jimmy Carter:
Davide thinks torture explains the confession of a teenager named Shalom in Iraq of what is known historically as the ingathering of Iraqi Jews to Israel. He gives to evidence of torture. And he ignores all the well established evidence: More from David Hirst's The Gun and the Olive Branch:

"It was not long before a bombshell of a different kind hit the pathetic remnants of Iraqi Jewry. They learned that the three explosions were the work not of Arab extremists, but of the very people who sought to rescue them; of a clandestine organization called 'The Movement', whose leader, 'commander of the Jewish ghettoes in Iraq', had received this letter from Yigal Allon, chief of the Palmach commandos, and subsequently Foreign Minister of Israel:
"Ramadan my brother.... I was very satisfied in learning that you have succeeded in starting a group and that we were able to transfer at least some of the weapons intended for you. It is depressing to think that Jews may once again be slaughtered, our girls raped, that our nation's honour may again be smirched ... should disturbances break out, you will be able to enlarge the choice of defenders and co-opt Jews who have as yet not been organized as members of the Underground. But be warned lest you do this
prematurely, thereby endangering the security of your units which are, in fact, the only defence against a terrible pogrom." (1)

The astonishing truth-that the bombs which terrorized the Jewish community had been Zionist bombs- was revealed when, in the summer of 1950, an elegantly dressed man entered Uruzdi Beg, the largest general store in Baghdad. One of the salesmen, a Palestinian refugee, turned white when he saw him. He left the counter and ran out into the street, where he told two policemen:'I recognize the face of an Israeli.' He had been a coffee-boy in Acre, and he knew Yehudah Tajjar from there. Arrested, Tajjar confessed that
he was indeed an Israeli, but explained that he had come to Baghdad to marry an Iraqi Jewish girl. His revelations led to more arrests, some fifteen in all. Shalom Salih, a youngster in charge of Haganah arms caches, broke down during interrogation and took the police from synagogue to synagogue, showing them where the weapons, smuggled in since World War II, were hidden.

During the trial, the prosecution charged that the accused were members of the Zionist underground. Their primary aim-to which the throwing of the three bombs had so devastatingly contributed-was to frighten the Jews into emigrating as soon as possible. Two were sentenced to death, the rest to long prison terms. It was Tajjar himself who first broke Jewish silence about this affair. Sentenced by the Baghdad court to life imprisonment, he was released after ten years and found his way to Israel. On 29 May 1966 the campaigning weekly magazine Ha'olam Hazeh published an account of the emigration of Iraqi Jews based on Tajjar's testimony. Then on 9 November 1972, the Black Panther magazine, militant voice of Israel's Oriental Jews, published the full story.

The Black Panther account includes the testimony of two Israeli citizens who were in Baghdad at the time. The first, Kaduri Salim is 49 but looks 60. He is thin, almost hunch-backed, creased-face and with glass-eye: he lost his right eye at the door of the Mas'uda Shemtov synagogue. He recounts: 'I was standing there beside the synagogue door. I had already waived my Iraqi citizenship, and wanted to know what was new. Suddenly, I heard a sound like a gun report. Then a terrible noise. I felt a blow, as if a wall had fallen on me. Everything went black around me'I felt something cold running down my check, I touched it-it was blood. The right eye. I closed my left eye and didn't see a thing. The doctor told me: 'It's better to take it out.' He remained in Iraq for three months after leaving the hospital. Then his turn to leave for Israel arrived. The ex-clerk was sent to an immigration camp. Since then, all his efforts to receive compensations have been in vain. He claimed: 'I was hurt by the bomb. The Court of Law established that the bomb was thrown by "The Movement". The Israel Government has to give me compensations.' But the Israel Government does not recognize its responsibility for the Baghdad bombs and, anyhow, cannot recognize him as hurt in action. 'I am ready to be a victim for the State,' he said, 'but when the situation at home is bad, when my wife wants money and there isn't any, what is the self-sacrifice and goodwill worth?'

The second witness was an Iraqi lawyer, living in Tel Aviv. He told the Black Panther that After the first bomb was thrown at the Dar al-Bayda coffee-house, many rumours started running around about the responsible being communists. But the day after the explosion, at 4:00 am, leaflets were
already being distributed amongst the first worshippers at the synagogue. The leaflets warned of the dangers revealed by the throwing of the bomb and recommended the people to come to Israel. Someone who saw in it something strange was Salman al-Bayyati, Investigating judge for South
Baghdad. He declared that the distribution of the leaflet at such in early hour showed prior knowledge of the bombing. He therefore instructed the police to investigate in this direction, determining at the same time that those who threw the bomb were Jews trying to quicken the emigration. Indeed, two youngsters were arrested. Unexpectedly, the Ministry of Justice intervened. The two boys were set free. The case passed over to the hands of the Investigating Judge Kamal Shahin, from North Baghdad. In other words, at this stage, there was still a willingness not to see. For the whole emigration movement came as results of a willingness not to see-or perhaps even of a more active agreement between the Government, the Court and the Zionist
representatives. But after two more bombs and after the arrest of the Israeli envoy-it was too much. The police started acting, and it was impossible to stop the wheels. There is only one more thing to add: in the objective
conditions of the issue, the trial was made according to international law. The evidence was just such that it wasn't difficult at all to pronounce such sentences. (2)

1. Allon, Yigal, The Making of Israel's Army, Valentine, Mitchell and Co., London, 1970, PP. 233-4
2. Black Panther, (Hebrew journal), 9 November 1972, see Documents from Israel, Ithaca Press, PP. 130-2
12.22.2006 9:42am
Passing thru:
Enter the Jew-haters, disguised with a Jimmy Carter moniker.

The discussion, I would point out, is Iranian Jews, most of whom remained in Iran until 1979 and the Islamic revolution. That point is not addressed by our Jew-hating troll. Neither does he refute the evidence that Jews in Iran are not, indeed, allowed full freedom of religion. In fact, Muslims are in charge of all Hebrew schools, the Jewish Sabbath is not recognized, and Jews have been imprisoned and executed as "spies" for Israel.

Feel free to continue adding nothing to the discussion, Jimmy. Or perhaps you can tell us how Iran does not discriminate against its Jews?
12.22.2006 10:58am
Davide:
"Jimmy Carter,"

After reading so much, you fail to admit the truth.

Let me put it to you bluntly:

The Iraqis captured, tortured, interrogated and then killed a Jewish man, Shlomo Shalom.

Do you deny this?

Do you instead believe that, in 1950, in Iraq, that the "confession" wrenched from this tortured man's lips is truthful?

Next, you claim I ignore "all the well established evidence."

Really?

I noted that the US Ambassador to Iraq at the time, Edward Crocker, believed that Shalom had been tortured.

You did not mention that. Apparently you disagree with him- but that is certainly relevant evidence.

In fact, it is more probative than any of the matter you cite from the Iraqi "justice system."

It is simply revolting to hear such ridiculous commentary trying to defend show trials from Iraq. To do so at the expense of a tortured and then hanged dead man is offensive.
12.22.2006 12:02pm
brachiator (mail) (www):
Good grief, indeed, Michael B!

Misrepresentation: I claimed you agreed with me on only one point, the facts of what Israel does to manage demographics. I did not claim you thought this improper, excuse or justification. I characterized it as apartheid. I did not say you so characterized it.

I disagree that whatever facets of Israel's founding or demographics are sui generis justify certain aspects of its treatment of non-Jews. In your terms, I reject the idea that any "realities containing basic, existential import" justify these aspects of Israeli policy. I'm not and have never been unaware of the "corrective" history and analyses you tout. I simply reject the correction because I find it, well, incorrect.

I found the Meir-Levi "population exchange" passage irrelevant, including your emphasized
One reason no one has suggested this is that no Arab state with the exception of Jordan will even allow Arab refugees to become citizens...
because I don't compare what Israel does to what the Arabs do. This was my point on the faint praise of "We're better than the Arabs!" I don't expect much from the Arabs, so long as they are ruled by despots, tribalism and Islam. Having to condemn the Arabs when discussing Israel is like having to point out the sky is blue everytime one makes reference to the Sun. Israel is supposed to be a liberal Western democracy and I judge it as such, without reference to what the local thugs are up to.

The only point I can see to your historical review, in other words, is to explain, excuse and justify Israeli policy. And I simply don't care as a matter of analysis. I find Israeli policy in many respects too far gone for any explanation or justification. Do I care for historical purposes? Of course. Do I care so as to understand the situation? Certainly – just as I care about the family history of a criminal to understand how he became the way he is.

Let's not play games about the Holocaust or tossing "denial" around as a casual smear. For you to say that by "roughly equal footing" of the apartheid epithet and holocaust denial you meant only rough equivalence "in terms of their lack of veracity" is to say nothing meaningful. It's like saying the schoolyard bully is on roughly equal footing with Attila the Hun "in terms of their lack of compassion." The only point in comparing the two is to tar those who say "apartheid" as ethically and intellectually equivalent to holocaust deniers. If not, you needn't have brought up the Holocaust at all. You could simply have said, "Dude, that apartheid business is crap!"
But as you suggest, denial of the holocaust is not a basis for criticizing Israel. For that revelation, for that acknowledgement, the world is duly appreciative.
This trope of yours is quite tired and tiring. Of course, the obvious purpose is to have a cheap snark. Still, it misses the point.

I wrote that if the Holocaust had not happened, an important philosophical and rhetorical basis for Israel's founding and existence as a "Jewish State" would evaporate. I suspect you will agree with this – the Holocaust is indisputably a "relevant historical and contemporary context."

From this perspective, if the Holocaust didn't happen then the defense of Israel's founding, existence, existence as a "Jewish State" and policies would be significantly weaker. All other things being equal, that is, denial of the Holocaust is "a basis for criticizing Israel." So when I write it is not a reason for criticism, this is certainly not the aggrandizing statement of the obvious you imagine. In fact, considering the role of the Holocaust in understanding Israel, it is counterintuitive.

It is a statement that the Holocaust and its memory are far too important to be brought into the fray between Israel and its opponents. It is a statement to the deniers that Israel either is or isn't doing the right thing regardless whether "the Jews" are victims. It's a claim that "the Jews" and their suffering are bigger than and separate from Israel. It's a statement that regardless of one's politics, one shouldn't deny the slaughter of 20 million.
12.22.2006 12:39pm
Davide:
Brachiator,

Your comments are confused.

Let's try to simplify things, shall we?

You wrote:

There are good reasons to be angry at the formation of the Israeli state...

What are these "good reasons to be angry" ?

Next, you wrote,

My use of "apartheid" [with regard to Israel] was inflammatory but broadly correct. Israel manages its demographics and politics along "racial," ethnic and religious criteria.

Oh, really? What does Israel do than other westernized countries don't do? If you can't distinguish Israel's policies, from, hhm, say, Japan, the US, or Italy, will you readily call those countries practitioners of apartheid?
12.22.2006 2:02pm
brachiator (mail):
Davide,

My comments are confused? Perhaps I should have cited Lysenko...

In any event, you were apparently confused upon reading my comments. Your questions don't bear on the primary point at issue between Michael B and myself, which is perhaps the root of the confusion. That point can be summarized as the relevance of history in evaluating the ethics of Israeli policies.

Good reasons to be angry at the formation of the Israeli state? For one, the upheaval and population displacements it engendered. For another, the formation of a state grounded at least in part in religion. A third is the continued linkage of Jewish identity and culture with the Levant, feeding the notion of Eretz Israel. A fourth is the resulting conflation of Israel with "the Jews." Let's not forget the strong to moderate opposition of many Jews to Zionism and the formation of and Israeli state both before and after the Holocaust. And I'm sure the Arabs involved have many reasons of their own.

What does Israel do tha[t] other westernized countries don't do?My understanding is that Israel manages its demographics in 2 primary ways. It limits the immigration and attainment of citizenship by non-Jews, while at the same time allowing and encouraging nearly unlimited immigration toward citizenship of Jews. This has the secondary effect of gaming the system to keep the political majority Jewish, which is the point of it all. Additionally, of course, Israel militarily occupies a large number of people who are not politically represented at all within the Israeli government.

If you can't distinguish Israel's policies, from, hhm, say, Japan, the US, or Italy, will you readily call those countries practitioners of apartheid?So far as I know, none of the above practice the same policies. Please respond with the policies you consider indistinguishable.

Regardless, Yes, if any of the above maintain indistinguishable or even similar policies I would condemn them. I would also call them "apartheid" policies.

Come to think of it, the US does practice at least one similar policy, although not for similar reasons. Residents of the District of Columbia have no real representation in Congress. It's shameful. It is also probably "apartheid" because its effects are racially-skewed, with Congress predominantly white while the majority of permanent District residents are black.
12.22.2006 6:42pm
Davide:
Brachiator,

The reasons you are "angry" at Israel apply just as well to ANY OTHER COUNTRY ON THE GLOBE. For example, the US, when it was founded, "displaced" Native Americans (maybe you've heard of them???) and it was founded by a group of Europeans looking to practice their religion in a place of security. Native Japanese "displaced" the original, indigenous Ainu, and founded their country on a xenophobic brand of Shintoism that lasted for centuries. Yet you focus all of your ire on Israel. Wonder why????

Your statements about Israel are, politely, stupid. Japan, for example, won't extend citizenship to anyone. Indigenous people who grew up there, who were BORN there, can't be Japanese citizens often times if they're of Korean descent. Yet you say nothing about that: Israel, which allows Arabs to be citizens, is what you're all frothy about. The US cracks down routinely on immigrants of Mexican descent and illegal immigrants of that type but actively solicits qualified science educated immigrants who (often) come from Europe and Asia.

Your ignorance neatly matches you ready determination to attack Israel. One wonders why you froth at the mouth so vehemently about that country while ignorant of, well, the rest of the world.

Italy, though agreements with the Vatican, officially recognizes Sunday as a religious holiday, and gives Roman Catholics special privileges (such as exemption from the military for being priests). Japan basically won't allow anyone not "ethnically" Japanese from becoming a citizen and prevents those who are even BORN there from being citizens. State religions are paid for in many (all?) European countries. Discriminatory immigration are in place in ALL of them.

I suggest, 'brachiator,' that your blinkered view and selective condemnaton suggest an ulterior motive. I await your attack on Japan. No? Just the Jews get your goat? I've heard of this sort of conduct before....
12.22.2006 7:44pm
brachiator (mail) (www):
Davide,

The reasons you are "angry" at Israel... I didn't say I was angry at Israel. I said there were good reasons to be angry about, in this case because it was what you asked, the formation of the State of Israel.

apply just as well to ANY OTHER COUNTRY ON THE GLOBE. Thanks for shouting. So what? The issue at hand is Israel. If you want to canvass the globe we can have that discussion. That's not what we were discussing here.

the US, when it was founded, "displaced" Native Americans (maybe you've heard of them???) Ah, sarcasm. Always helpful. No, the US didn't just "displace" Native Americans, it committed near genocide. That is a good reason to be angry at the colonization of the continent and the formation of what became the US. Do you disagree? If not, what's the use of bringing it up? Israel is justified because the US did it too?

[the US] was founded by a group of Europeans looking to practice their religion in a place of security. Not merely that, but in a place where those Europeans had power to impose their peculiar brand of religion on others. Offensive, isn't it? Is this your defense of Israeli state religion?

Native Japanese "displaced" the original, indigenous Ainu, and founded their country on a xenophobic brand of Shintoism that lasted for centuries. An excellent point I had neglected. Horrible. I condemn it. Do you?

Yet you focus all of your ire on Israel. Wonder why???? This discussion – indeed, practically all of this blog – is devoted to Israel. Israel is the topic because Israel is the topic. Want to get into a discussion of repressive and apartheid Japanese policies? Fine. Let's do it. But which side will you be on? I know I am against them.

Your statements about Israel are, politely, stupid. How are they stupid? "Stupid" is neither polite nor illuminating.

Japan, for example, won't extend citizenship to anyone. Indigenous people who grew up there, who were BORN there, can't be Japanese citizens often times if they're of Korean descent. How does this demonstrate the "stupidity" of my comments on Israel? Japan is as bad or worse than Israel on citizenship policies. Does this make Israel's policies good? Of course not.

Yet you say nothing about that: I said nothing because Japan was not at issue. Israel was. In fact, I was explicitly told by Michael B that justifying Israeli policies on the grounds that other countries' policies are worse was not the point of the discussion. You want to change the subject or scope, fine. But don't get pissy with me because I didn't get the memo.

Israel, which allows Arabs to be citizens, is what you're all frothy about. The discussion was about Israel. I can say it again, but I suspect you heard me twice the first time.

The US cracks down routinely on immigrants of Mexican descent and illegal immigrants of that type but actively solicits qualified science educated immigrants who (often) come from Europe and Asia. So what? The worst aspect of the Japanese and Israeli systems is that they discriminate on the basis of "race," ethnicity and religion for political reasons intimately related to "race," ethnicity and religion – e.g., to assure majority rule by the Chosen People.

US immigration policies are not the same. Illegal immigrants are "cracked down on" officially because they are illegal. Yes, there's implicit classism and racism, but they are not part of the official policy. Neither are they part of the economic and NS-based policies that privilege science and technical experts. To the extent racism and classism are involved, I condemn them. Do you?

As for US "crackdowns" "on immigrants of Mexican descent," to what are you referring? Nutty ICE raids that sweep up legal Latino immigrants as well as illegal? Are you for or against this? Do these justify Israeli policies, perhaps of large-scale military actions that kill civilians as well as "militants"?

Your ignorance neatly matches you ready determination to attack Israel. Cute. Are you available for bar mitzvahs?

Italy, though agreements with the Vatican, officially recognizes Sunday as a religious holiday, and gives Roman Catholics special privileges (such as exemption from the military for being priests).
Sucks to be Italian, then. I'm glad I live in a country that at least tries to keep separate church (well, some people's church) and state. Again, the Italians impose religion on the populace, so Israel is justified?

Japan basically won't allow anyone not "ethnically" Japanese from becoming a citizen and prevents those who are even BORN there from being citizens. State religions are paid for in many (all?) European countries. Discriminatory immigration are in place in ALL of them. I get it. I get it. I heard you twice the first time.

I suggest, 'brachiator,' that your blinkered view and selective condemnaton suggest an ulterior motive. I await your attack on Japan. No? Just the Jews get your goat? I've heard of this sort of conduct before.... Let's see how much of this we can go over again:

- selective condemnation? Check. The topic was Israel, not Japan. Not my fault you came into a discussion about Israel and started hollering for examples of other repressive states.

- attack on Japan? Check. "Japan sucks." I'm down with the burakumin. Also the untouchables (that would be India). And the Uighur (have you ever been to a Chinese "minority park"?). The list goes on. There's no end to the list of oppressed peoples and all oppressors suck. Can we get back to the Palestinians now? The topic was Israel.

- ... an ulterior motive ... Just the Jews get your goat? Well, now we come down to it, don't we? I'm an "anti-semite." Except that won't work because I'm a Jew. Eh, of course, a self-hating Jew.

Except I don't hate myself. I don't hate the Judaism I was raised in. I don't even hate Israel, the self-proclaimed "Jewish State" to which many seem to think I owe some sort of allegiance.

And this is a second, though a very distant second, reason I focus on Israel. The primary reason, again, is that this was a discussion of Israel. But to the extent Israel purports to speak for the Jews, it is necessary to condemn its wrongdoing, in the same way it is incumbent upon "moderate" Muslims to condemn the wrongs of the militant. To the extent Israel reflects badly on the Jews, its important to condemn it. And of course it is important to condemn it as an American citizen, because my government has made common cause with many Israeli wrongs and my tax dollars go to support them.
12.22.2006 9:19pm
Michael B (mail):
Avoiding a more rational/cogent exchange is what you've excelled at brachiator. You're very much taken with your sense of moral superiority, and in that presumptive, insinuating vein, your arguments, such as they are, are founded upon an egoistic, rather than a more cogent/rational approach. One or two examples only, since even numerous examples are unlikely to have an effect on your sense of self.

As previously noted, the Meir-Levy piece provides historical backdrop and corrective. However, without offering anything that can be considered cogent or rational, you simply dismiss it's relevance. Then, when a specific excerpt from Meir-Levy is offered, one that addresses the displacement of peoples, you merely dismiss that as well. So in both instances, first referencing it in general terms, then taking note of a specific excerpt, you fail to offer anything in rational or cogent terms and instead merely dismiss it, tout court.

And yet, when you (finally) get around to offering a set of specific objections (instead of merely offering general statements and accusations), the very first item on your list concerns the issue of displaced peoples. Specifically, you indicated: "For one, the upheaval and population displacements it engendered." Hence, after dismissing the Meir-Levy historical overview and corrective, both in general terms and then a specific excerpt that takes note of displaced populations, the very first item on your list concerns - voila! - displaced populations.

In other words and in summary, my mistake was in attempting to engage you in the first place. You offer virtually nothing that can be considered very rational or cogent, in fact, after simply dismissing the displaced population issue as presented in the Meir-Levy corrective, you thereafter indicate it's the very first item on your own list of concerns. I suspect you're not being insincere, but such a flim-flam, based on nothing more than an egoism or solipcistic approach, obviously has the effect of a decided refusal to engage.

Other examples could be offered, though even several examples would be unlikely to have an effect upon someone who so decidedly avoids a more rationally based exchange. Additionally it's tedious, much as it's so futile to even attempt to engage you more seriously. I suspect you're not even conscious of your egoistic approach and instead are simply impressed with the "rightness" of your sensibilities as the very basis of your approach; but such an unconscious quality is (precisely) why you're so effective in avoiding a more cogent/rational approach. A conscientious self-examination and self-critique do not comprise your forte.

Simply and succinctly put, your approach is common, your approach is you.
12.23.2006 4:07am
Michael B (mail):
Since the Holocaust denial/apartheid assignation comparison was called into question, an excerpt from this Solomonia post on Nadia Abu El Haj whose forte is not Holocaust denial but rather she has chosen to variously confuse/obfuscate scholarly aspects of anthropology and archeology as pertains to the ancient kingdoms of Israel. Excerpt, commenting upon Abu El Haj's deceits:

""“Holocaust deniers seek to plant seeds of questioning and doubt.”[1] Abu El Haj follows a similar methodology. Like Holocaust deniers, she presents a welter of miscellaneous allegations that have the effect of persuading the ignorant that doubt exists on the question of whether the ancient Israelite kingdoms existed."

So again, not at all to cheapen the Holocaust and what it represents, rather to emphasize, in properly qualified and well proportioned terms, other, contemporary settings where primary, potentially pivotal deceits are being attempted. Whether the deceit is in the area of anthropology, forwarded by Abu El Haj, or the deceit is being forwarded by Jimmy Carter and others vis-a-vis the apartheid assignation makes little difference, the potential for ideological/political leveraging is enormous, hence needs to be acknowledged and clarified as such. In the contemporary milieu, the ideological/propaganda wars are absolutely primary; to imagine otherwise is to be self-blinded.

Well proportioned and soundly qualified conceptions, certainly. But imagining no comparisons are warranted, given the contemporary milieu of propaganda wars and primary deceits, is to be naive and susceptible in the extreme. Eyes wide open, not shut.
12.23.2006 8:49am
brachiator (mail) (www):
Michael B, yes, it certainly must be me who is taken by my "sense of moral superiority" and "egoistic." Certainly me. It's obvious.

"Rationality" does not rely solely on accepting the scope you set out for the discussion, or the relevant facts. Nor does cogency. I disagree with you on scope and relevance. I disagree that Israeli policy must be judged not on its own terms but with the "corrective" of past events.

It's not enough that you disagree. It's not enough that you think I am "wrong." No, I must be "irrational." This interests me from a cultural perspective because it seems to be a hallmark of certain apologists for Israel. Differing interpretations of the data are "irrational" and motives are "ulterior."

Rationality includes choosing data sets for principled reasons. If you and I came upon one man beating another man, we'd both likely stop them and ask, "Hey, why are you beating that guy?!" By analogy to this thread on Israeli policy, it seems you'd let the beating continue once the first guy recited a list of wrongs perpetrated by the second guy. ON the other hand, I'd stop the beating – especially if it was taking place in the second guy's front yard. A poor analogy, to be sure, but one that illustrates the simple rational exercise involved.

I don't know how many further ways I can explain it, but the general points are that (1) Israeli policies are unacceptable and (2) no possible history justifies them.

Perhaps the real problem for you is that these are not, ultimately, rational points. Nor are the positions, "Israeli policies are acceptable when viewed in historical light." Reason helps and clarifies and does the heavy lifting, but these are finally ethical judgments and not logical conclusions.

As for your specific points:

the Meir-Levy piece provides historical backdrop and corrective. However, without offering anything that can be considered cogent or rational, you simply dismiss it's relevance. Dismissal on relevance is rational. You may not find it "cogent," but it is rational. It may be a rational dead end, however, based on our differing ethical frameworks. My position is that nothing can justify certain Israeli policies. Your position is that "something" can justify them. But I don't accuse you of "irrationality" for bringing up irrelevant points.


Then, when a specific excerpt from Meir-Levy is offered, one that addresses the displacement of peoples, you merely dismiss that as well. Well, yes. If I dismissed the general I'd be expected to dismiss the specific. What's the complaint here?


yet... the very first item on your list concerns the issue of displaced peoples. My "list" was a list of reasons one might object to the formation of the Israeli state. It was not a list of factors to be considered in evaluating whether Israeli policy was right or wrong. It also didn't have to do with our discussion, but with separate points raised by Davide. In any event, I was not denying you the use of population displacement on our discussion of Israeli policy and then using it myself to prove a point about Israeli policy. So, what's the complaint?

I happen to be neutral on the issue of Israel's founding. It's an ethical morass from which I think no judgment can be extracted. But from the perspective of someone hurt by the event, it would be a bad thing. Does it really surprise you that the flip side of celebrating Israel's founding would be characterization of the event as a "catastrophe" by those who got the short end of the stick?


has the effect of a decided refusal to engage. Perhaps I should have more clearly stated:
(1) I believe that Israeli policies privileging Jews for immigration and citizenship over non-Jews are wrong.

(2) I believe that no historical background is sufficient to justify this treatment.

Please explain why you reach different conclusions.
I had assumed this was implicit, but I seem to have been incorrect. Please accept the above as my formal and explicit engagement.
12.23.2006 11:45am
Michael B (mail):
Actually, the only place in this thread where I used the term "irrational" was in the opening graph of one of my first comments in this thread. A minor point, but true.

Your opening graph is literally nothing more than a sneer, essentially the obverse of your egoism. In your second and third graphs, the following, all of which reflects a fundamental incoherence: 1) you can disagree all you want, I never suggested disagreement per se is tantamount to a lack of cogency or a lack of rationality, 2) likewise I did not suggest that rationality or cogency rely upon accepting the scope I set out for the discussion, 3) I didn't, in any way, suggest relevant history should be used as any type of excuse, I more simply suggested relevant history is: relevant, thus an aspect of the general terms, depending upon the specifics of each discussion topic, certainly. 4) When you sarcastically state "This [your lack of rationality] interests me from a cultural perspective because it seems to be a hallmark of certain apologists for Israel. Differing interpretations of the data are "irrational" and motives are "ulterior"" you again miss the point, which I made vis-a-vis the displacement topic specifically, not via a generalized accusation.

Likewise, your analogy concerning the beating is positively dull witted and additionally reflects your egosim, your solipcistic and self-affirming approach, yet again. I long ago indicated I'm not citing history for purposes of any type of mere excuse making. Additionally, such an analogy has the effect of awarding you a rhetorical victory while disavowing any cogency, yet again.

I.e. add a lack of coherence and intelligibility to that short, but critical and revealing, list.
12.23.2006 2:11pm
brachiator (mail) (www):
Michael B,

Wow. You may not have responded to my propositions, but I can save money by skipping psychoanalysis this month.

Again, those propositions were:
(1) I believe that Israeli policies privileging Jews for immigration and citizenship over non-Jews are wrong.

(2) I believe that no historical background [is sufficient to justify this treatment] [is relevant to determining the moral value of those policies].

Please explain why you reach different conclusions.
Note 1: I expect you will object to the phrase "is sufficient to justify this treatment" in Item 2. Please feel free to replace that with the phrase "is relevant to determinining the moral value of those policies."

Note 2: I think you overvalue or misunderstand "relevance." Something is relevant only because it assists in another determination. Here, I think, the determination is whether Israeli policies are right or wrong? Is that incorrect?

Assuming it is correct, my use of the terms "justify" or "excuse" is appropriate. If you think Israeli policies are "right" you do so for one of two reasons:

(1) You find them morally good or neutral on their own terms. For example: feeding the poor or fixing potholes. OR,

(2) You find them morally bad or questionable on their own terms, but "justified," "excused" or otherwise OK in their context. For example: killing a man – but a man who was attacking you or kidnapping your child.

The second case incorporates "relevant" data. The value is not "relevance," however, but explanation, excuse or justification.

Note 3: "Irrational" means no more than the absence or rationality. Reasoned as the opposite of unreasoned, or frequently reason as the opposite of "emotional." You needn't have appended "Ir" to every place you questioned my "rationality" or remarked my comments were not "rational."

Note 4: It's my understanding that after a day or two these Volokh threads expire and no further comments are permitted. If that occurs, I invite you to respond here, on my site.
12.23.2006 4:35pm
Michael B (mail):
Re, "irrationality," I overtly and unambiguously indicated it was a minor point being made. (You begin to lose me entirely when I have to address such asides, at least I have my Dylan - "Oh Mercy" and "Infidels" - to listen to and a couple of good b-ball games to watch while dealing with such inconsequentials.)

However, when you state the following in order to supposedly "engage," you're not at all "engaging" as you're not explicating anything, you're simply stating your beliefs:
(1) I believe that Israeli policies privileging Jews for immigration and citizenship over non-Jews are wrong.

(2) I believe that no historical background is sufficient to justify this treatment.

Please explain why you reach different conclusions.
Ya see, you haven't "explained" anything yourself, you've merely stated your beliefs. If I were to retort that I believe otherwise, would you consider that sufficient? Presumably not, yet for you, again reflecting your foundational solipcistic approach, in lieu of any more serious engagement, merely stating your beliefs is suppose to serve as "engagement". However, it doesn't.

You also continue to use generalizations when it would be far more helpful to address specifics - and therein, once again, actually engage, rather than merely offering sweeping statements and preachments.

And that's why I didn't respond. You continue to be stuck in this mode where you arrogate the ability to merely forward assertions and state your beliefs, while I, as the opposition herein, am required to "explain why [I] reach different conclusions." That's not the way a more genuine and substantial engagement works. We're on equal footing here.

Also, for a sense of how even something like the security barrier can be transmogrified, via various and sundry sources of propaganda, into an allegation signifying "oppression," see here, though such reflects but one prominent example only leveraged within the english speaking world. That's an example, btw, which makes no use of the previously noted historical corrective.
12.23.2006 6:01pm
brachiator (mail) (www):
I'm afraid I can give you only so much rope, Michael B. I restate my propositions in a manner that may satisfy your insistence that this proceed on your terms:
(1) Israeli policies privileging Jews for immigration and citizenship over non-Jews are wrong, because:

(a) discrimination solely on the basis of ethnic, "racial" or religious criteria is itself immoral, undemocratic and intolerant, and

(b) that discrimination is practiced to prevent people of the disfavored "races," ethnicities and religions from gaining political power, another crime against democracy and freedom.

(2) Historical contexts are irrelevant to assessment of the above, because democratic participation is an absolute good and gaming the system is an absolute wrong.

Please explain why you disagree.
Stating your beliefs would in fact be a good starting point. Getting premises on the table is essential.

For example, do you disagree that democratic participation is an absolute good? Do you agree that it is a good at all? What about gaming the system? Justified under some cirumstances? If so, which?

It simply won't do to cite "examples" that consist of directing me to read other matter. You are clearly an articulate chap and should be able to respond in a few short sentences or paragraphs to the above - or, indeed, to any question. I didn't send you off to read Thomas Paine or John Locke, after all.

You also continue to use generalizations when it would be far more helpful to address specifics... What specifics? You point me to articles and other matter. Articulate an example and I will respond to it.

The one "specific" I can see is the concept that there was a "population exchange" on the founding of Israel, that Arab countries have not chosen to resettle Arab refugees on formerly Jewish land and no Arab nation but Jordan allows Arab refugees to become citizens. But what has this to do with Israeli policies, much less their morality?

Again, it's not enough to say merely that it is "relevant." Relevant to what? Is your point that Israel is "more moral" than the Arabs? You say that is not the point.

Is your point that the current Jewish majority in Israel is the result of a voluntary "exchange" rather than displacement and the Arab refugees are entirely the Arab countries' problem? Or that the Jewish majority being initially voluntary it is morally justified to maintain it through immigration and citizenship policies.

Just what is your point? I said this material was irrelevant, meaning not helpful to resolving any point in contention. You claim it is relevant - but to what point and how?

I certainly don't doubt or resist the idea that facts can "be transmogrified, via various and sundry sources of propaganda, into an allegation signifying 'oppression...'" Nor do I doubt that facts can be distorted to serve various ends, which seems a more straightforward way of saying what (I think) you said.

The irony here is that you refer to the wall as "the security barrier." That term is propaganda. It's a wall.

When I read Mr. Williams's comments my first reaction was "why no comment on Palestinian acts against Israeli civilians?" (Another irony!) At least within Israel proper. Attacks on settlement civilians who are effectively occupying forces (or human shields behind which occupation forces hide) are more complex, although I think departing from the general rule against attacks on civilians is too dangerous to permit. Of course, Williams did address "terror," which certainly applies to certain Palestinian actions against Israeli targets, as well as certain Israeli actions against Palestinian targets.

Finally, if you didn't want to parse the word "irrational," why did you bring it up? If by stating it was "minor" you meant only to get the last word, that dog won't hunt...

There are quite a few specific points, reasons and questions above. I hope you respond to them.
12.23.2006 7:17pm
Michael B (mail):
I feel we're at an impasse, arguing more about terms and definitions than anything else and with few if any prospects for a more fruitful discussion. Till next time ...
12.25.2006 11:23pm
brachiator (mail) (www):
Well, that settles it, then.

There's nothing lonelier than an unanswered question, though. It hangs sadly in the ether, awaiting the few sentences that might have fulfilled its destiny and transformed it into a pathway through Impasse. Terms, definitions and premises are usually the loneliest, because most often ignored entirely in the debates for which they would be most useful. Alas, the Semantic Universe is Hobbesian.

Tchau.
12.26.2006 1:42pm