pageok
pageok
pageok
A Few Challenges to Harvard Professor J. Lorand Matory:

Prof. Matory wrote an extremely tendentious piece for the Harvard Crimson complaining about alleged suppression of anti-Israel viewpoints.

Here are the challenges:

(1) Professor Matory writes: "Israel has now withdrawn from Gaza, an action that [former Harvard President Larry] Summers slammed Harvard and MIT professors as anti-Semitic for even contemplating." Prof. Matory, exactly when, where, and in with what words did Summers "slam" Harvard and MIT professors for "contemplating" Israeli withdrawal from Gaza? I do recall Summers slamming some professors at these schools for calling for divestment from companies with Israeli holdings (but not from any other countries with much worse human rights records). But calling for divestment from Israel bears only the most tenuous resemblance to "contemplating Israeli withdrawal from Gaza." To try to find a tenuous relationship, can you name even one divestment supporter who changed his or her mind when Israel withdrew from Gaza?

(2) Professor Matory also writes: "If Israel's defenders convince the world that all legitimately Jewish people are Zionists and that Jewish people are uniform in their opinions about Israel and its policies, then the convinced will conclude that condemning Israel or its policies requires them to hate Jewish people." Prof. Matory, if all Jews did have uniform pro-Israel views, do you really mean to suggest that this would justify people who "condemn Israel or its policies" hating Jewish people? And while Jewish people don't by any means have uniform opinions about Israel, doesn't what you wrote suggest that those who "condemn Israel or its policies" are justified in hating the Jewish people who DO support Israel (or its policies)? And doesn't that contradict your thesis that its unfair to conflate anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism? If being anti-Israel (or its policies?) logically leads to the hatred of Jewish people who are pro-Israel, it hardly seems a stretch to associate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, does it? Or is "hating only Jewish people who support Israel" sufficiently distinct from anti-Semitism in your mind?

(3) Finally, Professor Matory writes: "My aim here is not to preach but to insist upon my right, and others', to a conversation full of respect and free of intimidation, one that presumes no monopolies on suffering, one in which all racism and anti-Semitism-whether against Semitic Jews, Semitic Christians, Semitic Druzes or Semitic Muslims-is equally impermissible." Everyone knows, or (certainly if they are a distinguished Harvard professor writing about anti-Semitism) should know, that anti-Semitism is a phrase with roots in German racist theories of the 19th century that unfavorably compared Jewish "Semites" with German aryans, and that anti-Semitism specifically means prejudice against Jews. Intentionally misusing the phrase in this way is a cheap rhetorical trick designed to make Jews look self-absorbed and heartless by claiming that they have somehow appropriated all "anti-Semitic" prejudice to their own cause, neglecting prejudice faced by Arabs and other "Semites". Are you completely unaware of this dynamic? If not, is this your way of expressing your good will toward Jews (so long as they are not "Zionists")? And with regard to "intimidation," I suppose there is no "intimidation" involved in suggesting that Jews who support Israel logically deserve whatever hatred they get (see number (2)), nor is it at all disrespectful?

Professor Matory says that "what follows is the most important question for the health of the academic and moral community that we share here at Harvard: How can one engage in a critical and nonetheless loving conversation about Zionism with a community as gravely traumatized as the Jewish people?" I don't know the answer, but personally I'm not feeling the love. [How about starting by not completely misrepresenting what Summers said, not suggesting that people critical of Israel logically hate pro-Israel Jews, and not playing silly rhetorical games with the phrase 'anti-Semitism'"?]

UPDATE: This is apparently not the first time Matory has been, ahem, creative, in describing Summers' remarks. And Matory was one of the leaders of the anti-Summers movement, providing further evidence of what a great moment it was in the history of the American academy when Summers was forced out by a majority of the Harvard faculty.

Benjamin R. George:
Would "hating only American people who support the BCRA"* be equivalent to anti-Americanism? I'm pretty sure it wouldn't even be close (although it might still be a morally reprehensible position). Why, then, is "hating only Jewish people who support Israel" considered nearly the same as antisemitism?

*or, for that matter "hating only American people who support Israel" - or substitute Taiwan for Israel.
9.15.2007 10:29pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Here's the "right wing" version: "If Jews don't support real Americans by condemning their co-religionists who are destroying American values through their control of Hollywood and the ACLU, then those who oppose the Hollywood/ACLU agenda would be justified in deciding that they need to hate all Jews." Mind you, "I'm not anti-Semitic, I don't hate those Jews who do, in fact, condemnt the Hollywood/ACLU agenda."
9.15.2007 10:38pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
So, yes, assuming that Jews are obligated to have any particular position, or any variety of positions, on any given issue, including Zionism, or the ACLU, lest they be justifiably hated, smacks of anti-Semitism. And frankly, the idea that Jews should be hated for being Zionists, i.e., which means no more than Jews should have a homeland, which in the modern context means no more than believing that the existing State of Israel shouldn't be destroyed, is itself evidence of severe kookiness. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if Prof. Matory, on further reflection, doesn't mean what he clearly implied.
9.15.2007 10:44pm
Benjamin R. George:
I suspect I don't like where Matory is going with point (2), but as an empirical rather than a normative claim I think what you quote him as saying may in large part be correct. I think that many defenders of Israel do present the pro-Israel attitude as the opinion of all legitimate Jews, and that a lot of people with hostility towards Israel take them at their word and infer that the bad acts and ideas they attribute to Israel are in fact bad ideas and practices that can be attributed to the Jewish community at large. This is, of course, a fundamentally bad inferencer, but loud pro-Israel Jews working very hard to give the impression that all Jews are pro-Israel 100% sure as hell aren't helping matters.

As a Jew who thinks Israel seems like a reasonably decent nation-state, but who isn't too attached to it personally, I'm more than a little annoyed at large parts of the pro-Israel movement for perpetuating an untrue idea that causes a lot of people to hate me for the actions of a nation-state with which I have no real ties of the kind that would make me in any way morally or ideologically accountable for or associated with its actions.
9.15.2007 10:47pm
Sonja (mail):
[deleted for invective]
9.15.2007 10:49pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Benjamin, you sound like the Jewish socialists of a bygone era complaining that only if the Jewish businessmen didn't give all Jews a bad name, Jews wouldn't face such prejudice, and the Jewish businessmen of the same era saying if only the Jewish socialists didn't give al Jews a bad name...

Then there were the religious Jews accusing the secularist, assimilationist Jews of giving all Jews a bad name, and vice versa.

So now we have non-Zionist Jews accusing the pro-Israel Jews of giving all Jews a bad name...
9.15.2007 10:53pm
pedro (mail):
"I don't know the answer, but personally I'm not feeling the love."

Yeah. Let us simply presume bad faith on the part of Prof. Matory. Incidentally, 'the answer,' implicit in Prof. Bernstein's (whiny) response, is very simple: "don't say that." Which is also the answer to Tony Judt, Matthew Yglesias, and a sizable list of Jewish intellectuals.

I have nothing but admiration for Jewish culture myself, and I actually wish I were Jewish. But I wouldn't expect Prof. Bernstein to feel the love. After all, I disagree with Israel's policies, and I happen to believe that people like Prof. Matory are quite right in decrying the celerity with which criticisms of Israel are met with impugnation of personal character and presumption of bad faith.
9.15.2007 10:54pm
Benjamin R. George:
Sonja:

Professors are harassed for criticizing Israel. They're also harassed for supporting Israel. Being a professor with public opinions about a contentious political issue carries with it a certain risk of harassment.
9.15.2007 10:54pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Pedro, none of my challenges to Prof. Matory express any opinion whatsoever regarding his views on Israel. If I told you, Pedro, I want to have a loving conversation with you about your disagreement with Israel's policies, but by the way all pro-Israel people (including me) would logically conclude that they should hate you because you disagree with Israel's policies, would you feel the love?

Again, I wouldn't be surprised if on reflection Prof. Matory would think better of what he wrote. But I also suspect that if it weren't "open season on 'Zionists'" in certain circles to begin with, he wouldn't have written in to begin with.
9.15.2007 11:01pm
Benjamin R. George:
David:

I don't have much against pro-Israel Jews who speak for themselves. I'm aware that their doing so contributes to the reinforcement of certain stereotypes about all Jews being Zionists, but this isn't their fault or their problem. They're entitled to speak their minds.

I have a great deal against pro-Israel Jews who speak for Israel and purport to be doing so on behalf of the Jewish population at large. A recurring message in the Zionist movement (which I stress is not common to all Zionists) has been that Israel does what it does on behalf of the Jewish people at large. I have a general tendency to object to people doing stuff in my name when I had no part whatsoever in the decision-making process leading up to the actions in question.
9.15.2007 11:01pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Benjamin, I see your point, but I also see a logical fallacy. Quite clearly, doing something on what someone sees as on your behalf is not the same as doing it in your name. For example, the Bush Administration argued that a major reason to support the war in Iraq was to free the Iraqi people from Saddam's harsh rule. Thus, the invasion was in part, at least publicly, on behalf of the Iraqi people, but no one sensible would argue that this was done in "their name."
9.15.2007 11:16pm
Benjamin R. George:
The first sentence of the second paragraph of my comment immediately above was mangled in editing and has connotations that weren't intended.

"I have a great deal against pro-Israel Jews who speak in favor of Israel and purport to be doing so on behalf of the Jewish population at large."

Obviously, pro-Israel Jews don't speak for Israel as a whole any more than they speak for the Jewish community as a whole, and I'm sorry if my inept phrasing implied otherwise.
9.15.2007 11:19pm
pedro (mail):
David: Instead of asking for a loving conversation, I would simply settle for the recognition that some people may and do have opinions like those held by Tony Judt, Mearsheimer and Walt, etc., without having an iota of antisemitism in their hearts. If it weren't so fashionable (in certain circles) to stigmatize Jewish critics of the American pro-Israeli right, I wouldn't feel there is as much merit to said stigmatized Jewish critics' criticisms.
9.15.2007 11:23pm
Benjamin R. George:
That wasn't the sense of "on behalf of" I meant. Let me try again.

There exist Jewish Zionists who claim, or at least do their very best to imply, that they are speaking for all Jews - not merely to be advocating a policy that they think will benefit all Jews, but actually to be presenting the collective views of the Jewish people.

I think that it is massively inappropriate for them to do this.
9.15.2007 11:26pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Pedro, back in April I wrote: As I've noted before, friends of Israel sometimes use overwrought charges of anti-Semitism to try to silence critics of Israel. That's undeniable, and regrettable.

Equally undeniable, and regrettable, is when a friend of Israel criticizes critics of Israel, and then gets accused of calling everyone who criticizes Israel anti-Semitic, even when the author never mentioned anti-Semitism, and even, oddly enough, when the author has explicitly disclaimed any intention of suggesting that the individual he criticized is anti-Semitic. I've lost count of how many times commenters on this blog have written something along the lines of "there goes Bernstein again, claiming that legitimate criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism," when accusations of anti-Semitism were never leveled, and even when they were explicitly disclaimed.

Consider how Matthew Yglesias (note: who, for the record, I think is neither anti-Semitic, nor even "anti-Israel", but is far too kind to those who are, perhaps under the "an enemy of my enemy [Bush foreign policy] is my friend" theory) portrays the recent AJC study on leftist Israel-hating Jews, who, according to the study, are playing into the hands of growing genocidal anti-Semitism in the Muslim world by engaging in highly inflammatory rhetoric criticizing Israel in terms normally reserved for brutal dictatorships. Yglesias sums it up as "AJC's 'Jews who have different political opinions from ours are anti-semities' [sic] essay."

A commenter responded:

Yeah, except that isn't what the essay says.

Just as when you said Abe Foxman branded Wesley Clark an anti-semite, only except for where Abe Foxman expressly stated he wasn't.

Just as when you criticized Leon Wieseltier for calling Tony Judt an anti-semite, only except for that part where he explicitly wrote "Tony Judt is not an anti-semite." You know, for someone in the midst of a crusade against rhetorical sophistry re: Israel &anti-semitism, &someone who defended Clark's inartful expression against accusations of anti-semitic conspiracy theory, you seem to have a nasty habit of misrepresenting other's views re: Israel/Jews. In the Matthew Yglesias equation, the rules are turned completely on their head; anyone who criticizes another commentator for treating the subject of Israel &the Jews in a manner, to quote Wieseltier "Icily lacking in decency" is accused of anti-semitism baiting.

Unfortunately, Yglesias is hardly alone.

So on the one hand, we have friends of Israel who are too quick to label others anti-Semitic, though I believe that this phenomenon is declining, as it has received increasing scrutiny and criticism. On the other hand, we have critics of Israel who try to portray anyone who defends Israel as a hysteric who sees anti-Semitism everywhere. This seems to be on the rise. And the most vociferous critics of the former phenomenon tend to be the most egregious participants in the latter.

In short, Pedro, neither side has clean hands on this issue, and we can only try to judge the arguments on their merits (while still recognzing that there are some hysterics on one side, and some real anti-Semites on the other).
9.15.2007 11:29pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
"There exist Jewish Zionists who claim, or at least do their very best to imply, that they are speaking for all Jews - not merely to be advocating a policy that they think will benefit all Jews, but actually to be presenting the collective views of the Jewish people."

This strikes me as a myth. Can you give me a concrete example? No one remotely active in Jewish circles could possibly believe there is such a thing as the collective view of the Jewish people, and everyone knows the old saw about "two Jews, three opinions."
9.15.2007 11:30pm
V:
Prof. Bernstein starts off "Prof. Matory wrote an extremely whiny and tendentious piece for the Harvard Crimson complaining about alleged suppression of anti-Israel viewpoints."

And David is an expert at whiny and tendentious, so I read on...

Apparently David finds no logic in a claim of the form, "If x, a subset of X, makes claims for all of X, people who oppose these claims may feel they oppose X rather than simply x". He says, "Professor Matory also writes: "If Israel's defenders convince the world that all legitimately Jewish people are Zionists and that Jewish people are uniform in their opinions about Israel and its policies, then the convinced will conclude that condemning Israel or its policies requires them to hate Jewish people." Prof. Matory, if all Jews did have uniform pro-Israel views, do you really mean to suggest that this would justify people who "condemn Israel or its policies" hating Jewish people? "

If all white people, not merely slaveholders, found black chattel slavery acceptable, had a uniform opinion of it, never deviated from support of that peculiar institution, would David have trouble understanding why some might hate whites in general for the institution of slavery?

Sadly, David, it is not a logical fallacy to make this inference, and that is the Professor's point. That the social/psychological/cultural compulsion to not disagree with Israel if you're a Jew that speaks in public runs a risk of growing anti-semitism, and to the extent that Israel's policies are wrong (and can't all nation states have policies that are wrong?), this form of anti-semitism is, to a degree, understandable.

To the extent, David, that this doesn't come to pass, it will be due to Jews like me, not to Jews like you. It will be due to Jews who speak out against attrocities, whether committed on Jews or by Jews, especially when committed in our name. It will not be due to those who, as thousands of civilians died, worried that a photo has been tampered with.
9.15.2007 11:36pm
Benjamin R. George:
I don't have a citation, alas. This was certainly the impression the people into whose hands my early Jewish education was entrusted tried to give. The goodness of Israel was presented as an unquestionable dogma - the notion that there might be some Jews who were a little less certain about it was not seriously entertained. This isn't, of course, a perfect example.*

You're quite right that anybody who actually knows anything about Jews would see anybody's claim to be speaking for the Jewish people as a whole as aburd. The absurdity of the lie is one of the things that makes it so offensive.

*I do think, though, that it may help to explain higher rates of hostility and indifference to Israel among Jews of younger generations - many of us were told through their childhoods to think of Israel as some kind of utopia, and during our political awakenings we couldn't help noticing that it in fact has a lot of policies that, were they happening in any country we actually lived in, we'd regard as depressingly bad jokes.
9.15.2007 11:38pm
Benjamin R. George:
Would you accept anecdotal reports from Jews who've criticized Israel and had their legitimacy as Jews in good standing called into question in response?
9.15.2007 11:51pm
pedro (mail):
David: I didn't parse the sentence of Prof. Matory's that you quoted in item 2 of your post in quite the same way you did (and my guess, judging from his writings here, is that neither did Benjamin R. George). But if one parses it as a universally quantified logical implication, like you did, then it is certainly an unfortunate statement.

Wieseltier's impugnation of Judt's character may not be an accusation of anti-Semitism, but it is quite distasteful to me. That said, I appreciate your responding to my comments. I imagine that, just as I am particularly attuned to accusations of bad faith thrown at critics of the pro-Israel right, you are finely attuned to accusations of generalized hysteria and anti-Semitism baiting. Fair enough.
9.15.2007 11:52pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
V, I didn't say it's illogical for Matory to conclude that some people who hate Israel may hate Jews who support Israel. But the way Matory expressed his argument, he suggest that anyone who condemns Israel or its policies is not only in practice may hate Jews (and apparently only Jews, and not other people who like Israel or its policies) who don't is justified in doing so.

If Matory wants to defend the view that being pro-Israel is so evil that it justifies hating people who have that viewpoint, he's welcome to do so. And if he wants to defend the position that Jews in particular have some sort of obligation not to agree on Israel, at least not in a pro-Israel way, lest they be hated, he's also welcome to do so. I suspect though, that if asked he would decline to do either. If I'm wrong, though, I wouldn't accuse him of a logical fallacy, just of being a fool.

[And btw, "thousands," didn't die in Lebanon, hundreds did, and most of them were likely Hezbollah, not civilians . Maybe YOU should worry more about things like tampered photos, because clearly your own view of the conflict isn't exactly accurate.]
9.15.2007 11:55pm
Sonja (mail):
Benjamin, don't bother trying to convince anyone that you risk the same treatment for supporting Israel as you do for criticizing it. for example, is there a federal government program that creates a website encouraging students to send in names of professors who are pro-Israel as there is for professors (or students) who make "demonizing statements" about Israel? whatever "demonizing" means.

we're not THAT gullible.
9.15.2007 11:56pm
HBD:
Oh look - it's another person (an academic!) suggesting that his views on Israel cannot get a full and free airing.

I wonder how many more anti-zionist people get to air their views while claiming inability to do so before one of them decides to give up on the Pavlovian tick of decrying that they lack freedom of speech at the same time that they exercise it.
9.15.2007 11:56pm
Sonja (mail):
And since my earlier message was deleted for expletive, i will restate what i said - which is that anyone who doubts that professors are harassed for critizing Israel needs to speak to Finkelstein, Larudee, Abu-El Haj, possibly Chemerinsky, Rashid Khalidi, (the late) Edward Said. The list is long ...
9.15.2007 11:58pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
B, that's not quite the same thing as what you talked about earlier. Nevertheless, I agree that that's wrong. The countervailing situation is raised by none other than Tikkun editor Michael Lerner, in his piece in the recent Tikkun on the Israel Lobby. He acknowledges that there are some Jews who never identify as Jews except when they criticize Israel. I can't blame mainstream Jewish activists for getting extremely annoyed at people like that, but that's no excuse for assuming that a Jewish critic of Israel is in that camp.
9.15.2007 11:59pm
Benjamin R. George:
Sonja:

No, no you don't get the same treatment. You just get demonized by large parts of your academic community (which, in the social sciences and humanities, contains no shortage of very adamant anti-Zionists) and harassed by whiny campus leftists of all stripes. It's different, but it's still trouble. Yes expressing different opinions will make you different enemies, but I never said that exactly the same kind and degree of hostility would be involved.
9.16.2007 12:00am
Sonja (mail):
"I wonder how many more anti-zionist people get to air their views while claiming inability to do so"

Oh, you can do so. But you will suffer by doing so - being labelled anti-Semitic just for starters. harassed by Campus Watch. your name sent to a federal database. risk losing tenure. the list goes on and on.
9.16.2007 12:04am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Sonja, are you claiming that Campus Watch is both funded by the U.S. government, and that it's website function as a "federal database?" If so, what's your documentation? If not, what the heck are you talking about?
9.16.2007 12:23am
Sonja (mail):
David:
http://www.eusccr.com/

I suggest reading the (Alice-in-Wonderland) findings in the "findings" in the link below; they are actually quite entertaining. My favorite line of reasoning was that we need more government oversight (of Middle East Studies programs) to ensure a diversity of viewpoints. In other words, we need to regulate speech to ensure free speech.

http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/081506campusantibrief07.pdf
9.16.2007 12:29am
HBD:
I'm not aware of a single professor who lost tenure owing to anti-zionist views / comments. Since as a lifelong learner I'm all in favor of being edified, please let me know which tenured professor lost his/her position.

And to preempt what might be the obvious response, no fair claiming Norman Finkelstein since he didn't lose tenure so much as not get it.
9.16.2007 12:47am
Tony Tutins (mail):
Professor Matory has expressed the bleeding-heart liberal viewpoint very well: that the founding of Israel as recompense for the Holocaust caused Arabs to suffer, thereby robbing Peter (the Arabs) to pay Paul (the Jews). So anything that Israel does to ensure its continued existence is just pouring salt on the dispossessed Arabs' wounds. Because they don't hate Jews per se, but only the suffering-causing Israelis and their supporters, they don't want to be considered anti-Semitic.

I don't see what will satisfy these liberals, other than Israel having a going-out-of-business sale. So, don't look to liberals for support.
9.16.2007 12:51am
Elliot123 (mail):
Sonja,

What do you mean when you say professors are harassed? Specifics?
9.16.2007 12:51am
commentor2 (mail):
I'm not racist, I just hate blacks who support affirmative action, because I'm really against affirmative action.

I'm not against old people, I just hate old people who support social security...

I'm not anti-Catholic, I just hate Catholics who like the Pope...

I'm not anti-Muslim, I just hate Muslims who think Mohammed was a prophet...

I'm not anti-Cuban American, I just hate the ones who don't like Castro...
9.16.2007 12:59am
Sonja (mail):
Here's a specific example of harassment, one perpetrated by Daniel Pipes, no doubt. Professor As'ad Abu-Khalil at Cal State linked to an article in Harper's on his blog noting that Giuliani had hired Daniel Pipes for his campaign. While normally quite irreverant, Professor Abu-Khalil actually made no comment about Pipes himself. The next day a writer named Candice De Russy had written on the National Review Online that Professor Abu-Khalil had called Rudy Giuliani "Jewliani" on his blog - a blatant lie. After he demanded a retraction, she gave a lame "retraction" which she titled "Update." I believe the correct term would be "correction."

This blog wouldn't let me post the link to the National Review, but here is what she said:


Khalil's Hateful Website [Candace de Russy]

It's no-holds-barred at the "Angry Arab" website of California State University professor of politics As`ad Abu Khalil. One commentator foams at the mouth on being informed by Khalil that Rudy Giuliani -- whom the angry academic labels "Jewliani" -- has asked Daniel Pipes, a leading critic of Middle East Studies, to serve as an adviser in his presidential campaign. Anti-Semitic and other bigoted ravings are on display for all to see.

UPDATE: My citing of the hateful "Jewliani" item on Khalil's website might have been misinterpreted. By way of clarification, my reference was to a posting by a commentator on that site, not to a posting by Khalil himself.
9.16.2007 1:03am
Sonja (mail):
My goodness, HBD, how clever you are. You must be very happy with your post. Yes, I should have said tenure battle, not tenure.
9.16.2007 1:05am
HBD:
Sonja,

I appeciate the compliment re: my cleverness and happily consider it to be sincere. I'm sorry that I did not realize that Finkelstein had some God-given right to tenure that was taken away because of his exercise of free speech.

Of course, as a non-academic forced to wade through the corporate world, the idea that behaving in a particularly rude and abrasive manner can have negative consequences doesn't sound quite so quaint.

What a precious world it is in which our anti-zionist academics live! They are always happy to dish out the invective but it becomes harassment and free speech is chilled when they are criticized.

It's instructive to consider David Bernstein's post as the jumping off point here. My friend Sonja gets all exercised about the awful "harassment" experienced by a professor who was mistakenly labeled as calling Giuliani "Jewliani." How did we get to the point of referencing this awful "harassment"? Indeed, how have we defined "harassment" down to such a sorry level (a column on the internet? someone get the smelling salts ready because I'm starting to swoon here)? Why, golly, it was in commenting on the remarks of Professor Matori who badly and dishonestly mischaracterized what Larry Summers has said in the past. I guess I should await Sonja's howls of protest at the awful harassment to which Summers has been subjected also.

I won't hold my breath though because I suspect I'll be a'waiting for a long time.
9.16.2007 2:10am
Sonja (mail):
Well, you know there are repercussions for the type of harassment Abu-Khalil suffered. It's called a libel suit. The law takes damage to people's reputations more seriously than you do i'm afraid.
9.16.2007 2:42am
Sonja (mail):
"I don't see what will satisfy these liberals, other than Israel having a going-out-of-business sale."

I suspect what will satisfy them is to grant the same right of return to those who were exiled 60 years ago as Israelis claim for their own 'exile' two millenia ago, the latter being a far far more spurious right than the former.
9.16.2007 2:47am
Tony Tutins (mail):
Although the right of return may sound like a just solution, that would likely make Israel a minority Jewish state. And, outside of the US and Canada, Jews have not historically thrived as a minority population. I mean, they do well for a while, until the king decides to expel them on the spurious ground that they kidnapped a Christian boy and baked him into matzoth, or until the Panzer tanks roll in and 90% of the Jewish population goes up the chimney. So I see the necessity of a majority Jewish state.

I have an idea. Maybe the displaced Arabs could be resettled in Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Czechia, Hungary, Austria, etc. etc.
9.16.2007 2:54am
FC:
Stop Slavic imperialism! Free East Prussia!
9.16.2007 2:59am
Sonja (mail):
So you think a Jewish state is a solution. But choosing someone else's home to create this Jewish home hasn't exactly worked out well has it? Unless you think getting blown up now and then is a solution. In fact, I can't think of another country these days that is more dangerous for Jews to live in than Israel.
9.16.2007 3:14am
neurodoc:
If present day Jews were all of one mind where Israel is concerned, and as unwavering in their support of Israel as some of Israel's enemies would have it, then maybe it would be advisable for some to split off from the pack in order to create an illusion of non-unanimity. But it is so much not the case that Jews are all of one mind in that regard, let alone unwavering in their support of Israel, that those who maintain it are either incredibly ill-informed or disingenuous.

Sometimes I read that which will give me an idea of what the other side is saying and keep my blood pressure from falling too low, e.g., the loathsome Alec Cockburn of The Nation and Counterpunch. It is trivially easy to come upon the rantings of those, almost invariably on the Left, who loudly identify themselves as Jews before flailing away at Israel. For them, Israel is rarely, if ever, in the right vis-a-vis Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, or indeed the World. Here for example is a blogger (The Magnes Zionist) who serves up "Self-Criticism from an Israeli, American, and Orthodox Jewish Perspective." On the occasion of Judiasm's High Holidays, he wrote this week:
Even if you have no problems with the Jewish state as founded in 1948 you have to realize that it is guilty of massive human violations at every instant of every day. I cannot look in the mirror and say, "This is the price to pay for a Jewish state."
Bernard R. George (BRG), if you need more examples of "dissenting" Jews to relieve your concern about being seen as part of a group that suppresses and punishes "apostates" harshly, we could come up with endless lists of them for you, as well as the "Jewish" organizations they have formed, their publications, their public declarations, their fundraising efforts, their political endorsements, their websites, etc.

A quick look at a pro-Palestinian website (Filasteen) linking to one of those "Jewish" websites identifies a number of them: Antony Loewenstein; Norman G. Finkelstein;
The Heathlander; Tikun Olam; Mondoweiss; Muzzle Watch;
Prospects for Peace; Rootless Cosmopolitan; Semitism.net
Jews sans frontieres; The Third Way; Jews On First!; Desert Peace; Joel Kovel; Jewish Conscience.org; Jon the Anti-Zionist Jew.

RBG: "Would you accept anecdotal reports from Jews who've criticized Israel and had their legitimacy as Jews in good standing called into question in response?" Sure, we'll accept them, but as proof of what? Do they signify something very different from, for example, the emotional reactions of many African-Americans to Ward Connerly or Bill Cosby, even the reactions of some to Barack Obama? Is it imaginable that Jews would not react to other Jews that way, and bi-directionally, as has been the case? (See the vituperation directed at Daniel Pipes, Charles Jacobs, Steven Emerson, Abe Foxman, etc. by Jews.)

DB made passing mention above of Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of the Leftist Jewish magazine Tikun. He didn't note that in this month's edition James Moran, a D Congressman from Northern Virginia, once more accused wealthy Jews of pushing this country into a war with Iraq. Antisemitism purveyed by a "Jewish" publication?
9.16.2007 3:23am
neurodoc:
Sonja, since you think it so unfair that Finkelstein was denied tenure at DePaul, a school this tenure-seeker openly derided as a "third-rate Catholic" one, would you be so good as to identify a single scholarly article that Finkelstein ever published in a peer-review journal. (He says he has never published any.) And would you tell us which, if any, of his books present original research of the sort routinely required of those up for tenure, not highly polemical "critiques" of what others have written or said? If you would, then we might see for ourselves what sort of "scholar" DePaul rejected. I have read some of what Finkelstein has written and none of it seems to me what gets one tenure in a self-respecting university, but I would be glad to consider any substantive evidence you might bring forward.
9.16.2007 3:34am
Sonja (mail):
neurodoc: yes, mercifully, Jews are not of one mind when it comes to Israel.

but neither Prospects for Peace (Daniel Levy only disagrees because Israeli actions are "bad for Israel") nor Tikkun (Rabbi Lerner is one of those "I'm-a-nice-Zionists" a la Uri Avnery or Gideon Levy) are pro-Palestinian.
9.16.2007 3:34am
Sonja (mail):
Perhaps you can enlighten me on why you consider your own (or my) view of his work to be superior to that of his own peers who voted in favor of tenure?
9.16.2007 3:37am
neurodoc:
Sonja, I didn't ask what you thought of Finkelstein's scholarly accomplishments, nor suggest that anyone should rely on my impressions of them. I asked you to identify for us if you could his most substantial scholarship, since I really don't know what that might be, since all I have seen appear to be no more than polemical tracts. And it is surely extraordinary, if not unheard of, for someone seeking tenure in a political science department never to have published in a peer-reviewed professional journal. ("Endorsements" or acclaim as a "public intellectual" by Finkelstein's fans will not substitute for evidence of scholarship.) Can you or anyone else say what bespeaks scholarly accomplishment worthy of tenure?

I mentioned Michael Lerner because he is a Jew publishing a falsehood of classic antisemitic type (the US wouldn't have gone to war with Iraq but for wealthy American Jews).

And Sonja, mercifully not all Muslims are of the same mind as the Wahabbi/Salafi/Islamofascists.

But let's try to get back on topic here.
9.16.2007 4:32am
DG:
The ultimate disconnect here is that some folks criticize Israel and other think Israel does not have a right to exist. One viewpoint is not anti-Semitic, and the other is. Sometimes you have to read between the lines, as some of the no-right-to-exist folks talk in code: they can't straight out advocate genocide, its just an unfortunate thing that will have to happen to allow the Palestinians to have self-determination. So, we get codewords like "anti-zionist"

But lets be frank - zionism is nothing other than the belief that Jews, one of the most oppressed people in history, deserve a nation-state on the site of their ancient homeland. That's it, nothing else. With the exceptions of the US and India, Jews have been systematically persecuted in every other nation-state where they have lived in even moderate numbers.

Why is partition ok for Pakistan and India, but not Israel? Why self-determination for Kosovo or East Timor, but not the Jews (or, for that matter, the Kurds?). Why are Jews a nation or race when it comes time to kill them, but not when they want to live in peace?

Some opinions are objectively pro-genocide, even if the person offering that opinion does not think so. The Chinese policy towards Darfur is objectively pro-genocide, even though the Chinese government has no particular desire for genocide. So it is with anti-zionism. You may not hate jews, but your viewpoint, if carried to its ultimate extension, will lead to their deaths.
9.16.2007 4:45am
Benjamin R. George:
DB - As evidence of my earlier claims I present Neurodoc's reply to me above. Neurodoc consistently puts scare quotes around thw word "Jewish" when referring to counter-Zionist Jewish groups and publications. The intended message is, I think quite clearly, that Jews who oppose Zionism are not "real" Jews. The statement "All counter-Zionist Jews are not real Jews" is, as it happens, logically equivalent to "No real Jews are counter-Zionist Jews", and in turn to "All real Jews are non-counter-Zionist Jews" i.e. that all real Jews are either Zionists or more-or-less indifferent to Zionism. this is pretty close to claiming the Zionists speak, perhaps not for all the Jews, but for all the Jews who count as legitimate Jews and who have opinions on the matter.
9.16.2007 5:32am
Benjamin R. George:
TT -

Quite an excellent point. I presume you favor the prompt creation of a Roma (Gypsy) nation-state for the same reason? Preferably one located in South Asia, where, according to our best linguistic evidence, the Romani people originated.
9.16.2007 5:41am
Lonetown (mail):
I've always considered Summers treatment as a cautionary example of the results of pandering to leftists.
9.16.2007 6:58am
Gerg:
"My aim here is not to preach but to insist upon my right, and others', to a conversation full of respect and free of intimidation..."

What he's really asking for is the right to make his argument free of criticism. He doesn't like that opponents can say he's wrong.
9.16.2007 8:01am
Guest232 (mail):
Sonja,

Do you usually use the name "Yasmin" when you post to "irreverant" Prof. Abukahlil's blog (which he dubs the "Angry Arab News Service").


Do you really think "irreverent" is the word that captures his sentiment towards supporters of Israel?
9.16.2007 8:42am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
There really are racists and there really are anti-Semites.

But the bogus accusation of either--and other labels--has been used to poison debate for years, or decades. It forces self-censorship. It distracts the accused from the point he was making, one of the roles the bogus accusation fulfills when the point being made is unassailable in a legitimate fashion.

I suggest that the bogus nature of a bogus accusation is so obvious as to not need refutation or attention. Party A, accused by Party B, need not worry that Party C (which may be a very large audience) will believe the bogus accusation for an instant. There is no need for any response to the accusation, since its falsity is as obvious to the listener (Parties B and C) as to the accuser.

BTW. Going on forty years ago, I worked with one of the leaders of the anti-Summers movement at Harvard. There is no surprise here. Dishonesty, no sense of reciprocity, of freedom of speech except for oneself. Perfectly predictable.
9.16.2007 9:46am
MDJD2B (mail):

I presume you favor the prompt creation of a Roma (Gypsy) nation-state for the same reason? Preferably one located in South Asia, where, according to our best linguistic evidence, the Romani people originated.


There are several differences.

1. Israel exists, and has been in existence for 60 years. Most of its inhabitantsw were born there and have no other home. We are not talking about a hypothetical state here

2. Israel's founding was accompanied by a large population shift both ways. Approximately equal numbers of Jeish refugees from Arab and other Islamic countries came to Israel as Moslems left Israel. This tends to equalize any moral balance.

3. Unlike the Roms in Asia, Jews have continuously inhabited Israel since Biblical times, though they have not always been a majority there. There has always been a physical nexus between Jews and their homeland.

4. The viewpoint that the descendants of the founders of Israel are responsible for any bad acts that those founders may have committed during the Arab attack on Israel immediately following its declaration of independence does border on anti-Semitism. Since when do we attribute guilt to nations as a whole in this manner? And where else do we hear remedies proposed that are so drastic that they threaten the survival of that national group, ans a massive Arab influx into Israel would threaten its Jews with. Do those of you who are arguing for a Palestinian right of return feel the same way about a German right of return to territories from which they were expelled after WWII, or of Hindus and Sikhs to return to those areas of Pakistan from which they were expelled? And if these events came about, it would not threaten Poles or Pakistanies they way an influx of Hamas and Hezbollah supporters would threaten the survival of Israeli Jews. The "right of return" is a code phrase for a solution that would revoke the national identity of Israeli Jews and threaten them with genocide.
9.16.2007 10:03am
R. Richard Schweitzer (mail):
How few seem to have awakened to the processes of the New Totalitarians (now rising in our midst demanding absolute conformities)to impugn, not debate.
9.16.2007 10:26am
R. Richard Schweitzer (mail):
How few seem to have awakened to the processes of the New Totalitarians (now rising in our midst demanding absolute conformities)to impugn, not debate.

R.R.Schweitzer
s24rrs@aol.com
9.16.2007 10:26am
R. Richard Schweitzer (mail):
How few seem to have awakened to the processes of the New Totalitarians (now rising in our midst demanding absolute conformities)to impugn, not debate.

R.R.Schweitzer
s24rrs@aol.com
9.16.2007 10:26am
DavidBernstein (mail):
This thread has gotten way off track, I assume because no one wants to defend Prof. Matory's indefensible article.
9.16.2007 10:46am
Humble Law Student (mail):
From Dershowitz's Huffington Post post,


Indeed when I confronted Matory after his television show and offered $1000 to his favorite charity if he could prove that Summers had ever said that people who insisted that Palestinians have rights should be quiet, he began shouting at me that I was a terrible professor and suggesting that I was not qualified to teach at Harvard.


Hahaha, an "African-American studies" professor telling Dershowitz he isn't qualified to be at Harvard. Matory is so fast and loose with the facts, he should thank the heavens that he teaches in a bs field. Of course, that may be the problem. He is not used to dealing with them, hence his constant problems in presenting them accurately.
9.16.2007 10:47am
Sonja (mail):
Wow. Some of the arguments here are completely out of touch with reality. Allowing the Palestinians to return will result in genocide? Objecting to human rights violations by a state formed through ethnic cleansing is anti-Semitic? Also, the history of that land is far more complex than merely "the historic Jewish homeland" (the Kingdom of Solomon lasting a mere 60 years). And if your argument is God gave it to us, I think you would have to agree that if another religion claimed the land was promised to them by God, Israelis would not willingly leave.

I will also note there no matter how urgent a State's or a people's claims of past victimization, no State or people is exempt from judgment if it/they practice starvation, torture, forced transfer of populations, discrimination on the basis of religion, humiliation, extrajudicial political assassination, land expropriation, and home demolitions to name only a few of Israel's regular punishments for Palestinians. And no people can be singled out as exceptions to liability for abrogating these basic human rights.
9.16.2007 12:53pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
no one wants to defend Prof. Matory's indefensible article.

Prof. Matory makes two points that seem to have some merit to me. One can criticize certain specific Israeli tactics without being anti-Semitic: I didn't see the necessity for dropping cluster bombs in Lebanon, for example. And bombing orphanages is always a bad PR move (Cana). I'd prefer not routing the wall between Israelis and Palestinians so that it cuts off a farmer from his field.

Further, that Jews have a lot in common with their Arab neighbors. They are indeed ethnically similar -- genetics testing has shown that. They are both stubborn. They share several religious and cultural practices -- methods of animal slaughter, avoiding pork, women covering their hair, separation of the sexes at worship, etc. Although, shared ethnic, religious, and cultural factors did not prevent strife in Northern Ireland.

The Roma's story is partly similar to the Jews' and partly different. Neither group was part of Europe's feudalist structure, so both groups had to find ways to survive that didn't involve either farming or landowning. Jews kept their religion, Roma adopted the religion of their local countries. Jews emphasized education, and Roma did not. Neither group really assimilated, so both groups were often despised by the majority.
9.16.2007 1:02pm
Sonja (mail):
I should have attributed my second paragraph to Edward Said, not that it matters here.
9.16.2007 1:09pm
Montie (mail):

Also, the history of that land is far more complex than merely "the historic Jewish homeland" (the Kingdom of Solomon lasting a mere 60 years).


Hmmm...someone doesn't know her history.


I will also note there no matter how urgent a State's or a people's claims of past victimization, no State or people is exempt from judgment if it/they practice starvation, torture, forced transfer of populations, discrimination on the basis of religion, humiliation, extrajudicial political assassination, land expropriation, and home demolitions to name only a few of Israel's regular punishments for Palestinians. And no people can be singled out as exceptions to liability for abrogating these basic human rights.


Do you apply that statement to anyone beyond Jews and Americans?
9.16.2007 2:01pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Sonja: "<i>But choosing someone else's home to create this Jewish home hasn't exactly worked out well has it"</i>

Like it or not, that's how people have operated for thousands of years, not just Jews, but everyone. History demonstrates that the guys who can take and hold the land get to have it. If the Gypsies can take and hold some of South Asia, it will be theirs. If the Eskimos can take and hold Jerusalem, it will be their, too.

We may not approve of this practice, and may claim all sorts of injustice, but that's how the world has always worked, and it's still working that way.
9.16.2007 2:56pm
Sonja (mail):
How well has it worked for Israel and for the world, Elliot? Israel looks more like a military for than a nation. And according to recent polls, 25% of Israelis want to leave.
9.16.2007 3:39pm
Sonja (mail):
Well if you want to include both King David and Solomon together, they ruled a whopping 100 years.
9.16.2007 3:50pm
MDJD2B (mail):

I will also note there no matter how urgent a State's or a people's claims of past victimization, no State or people is exempt from judgment if it/they practice starvation, torture, forced transfer of populations, discrimination on the basis of religion, humiliation, extrajudicial political assassination, land expropriation, and home demolitions to name only a few of Israel's regular punishments for Palestinians. And no people can be singled out as exceptions to liability for abrogating these basic human rights.


This sounds like what has happened to Jews in Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
9.16.2007 3:57pm
Yankev (mail):

Allowing the Palestinians to return will result in genocide?

Allowing them to overwhelm the people that they have sworn to exterminate (see the Hamas charter, among other documents) and have made numerous past attempts to exterminate may well have that affect. The history of Arab and Muslim violence against Jews did not begin in 1948, nor even with the beginning of the Zionist movement.


Objecting to human rights violations by a state formed through ethnic cleansing is anti-Semitic?

I assume you are referring to the ethnic cleansing by the Arab states, who expelled their Jewish populations in 1947 and 1948 and confiscated their homes and goods, after centuries of persecuting them and denying them legal rights that Israel guaranties its Arab population? As I recall, about half of the present-day Jewish population of Israel is composed of those refugees or their descendants.
9.16.2007 4:01pm
Yankev (mail):

Well if you want to include both King David and Solomon together, they ruled a whopping 100 years.

And if you add the rule of the Northern Kingdom after Solomon's death? And rule of the Souther Kingdom from his death until the Babylonian exile? How about the Second Commonwealth, from about 70 years after the Babylonian Exile until the Roman Exile some 500 years later? How about the almost continuous Jewish presence even between the periods of self-rule?

When was there ever a Palestininan polity there before
Israel agreed to the establishment of one in 1994 under Oslo? For that matter, when was there a significant Muslim or Arab population there from the time the Mamelukes deforested the land and destroyed the agriculture until 19th century Jewish immigrants, joining other Jews who had lived there for centuries, made the land arable again by reforesting it?
9.16.2007 4:07pm
Yankev (mail):

This sounds like what has happened to Jews in Syria, Iraq, and Iran.

And Saudi Arabia (the last time they were allowed to live there, some centuries ago) and Jordan (the last time they were allowed to live there, before 1948). And Egypt. And to a lesser degree Morocco. And Yemen. And Andalus/Spain. And Palestine when it was part of the Ottoman Empire (or part of the British Mandate for that matter.)
9.16.2007 4:12pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Sonja: "How well has it worked for Israel and for the world, Elliot? Israel looks more like a military for than a nation. And according to recent polls, 25% of Israelis want to leave."

It has worked very well for those who can take and hold the territory. That's obvious. The Jews have taken the land. There was a fight and they won. The nation looks well fortified because now it is holding it. The fighting continues, and the Jews continue to win and hold the land. I imagine those who want to leave will leave, and those who want to stay will stay. That's how it has always worked.
9.16.2007 4:56pm
Benjamin R. George:
MDJD2B -

I don't have a major objection to your main points. TT was apprently claiming that the Jews have an inherent right to a majority Jewish state. I think this is bullshit. As a pragmatic matter, turning Israel into a minority Jewish state would right now have genocidal consequences, and genocide is generally bad, so this state of affairs is, at least for the present and the foreseeable future, to be avoided, but that's because, as you say, there are a lot of human beings who were born there and don't deserve to be murdered or displaced. It's not because of some abstract right of the Jewish people.
9.16.2007 4:59pm
Benjamin R. George:
MDJD2B -

You ask "Since when do we attribute guilt to nations as a whole in this manner?"

One doesn't have to go very far in back in the comments on DBs earlier posts to find large people attributing guilt to the entire Palestinian nation in a strikingly similar manner. Both attributions of collective guilt are ridiculous for basically the same reasons (there are presumably some differences in degree of absurdity, if one cares to look, but I don't think they're likely to matter).

I quite agree that the question of whether the creation of Israel was a good idea at the time is water under the bridge. Whatever the answer, the much more salient fact is that the Israeli people are there now and don't collectively deserve to be massacred. However, to the extent that Israel's policies are justified on the basis of the inherent goodness of there being a majority-Jewish state, I'm going to call that inherent goodness into question.
9.16.2007 5:09pm
Sonja (mail):
Hm. Should I waste my Sunday refuting Zionist revisionist history to people who will not hear it anyway? Maybe later.
9.16.2007 5:29pm
Sonja (mail):
Do you think it is "obvious" to the families of those killed in suicide bombings? of Gilad Shalit? Or those killed in Lebanon, or the OT? I think it was Hannah Arendt who said it is impossible to gain power through violence - and I think Israel has demonstrated throughout the decades.
9.16.2007 5:48pm
Yankev (mail):

Do you think it is "obvious" to the families of those killed in suicide bombings? of Gilad Shalit? Or those killed in Lebanon, or the OT?

Sonja, would they have been better off if they had been like the pre-adolescent Jewish girls who were gang raped and tortured to death by Arabs during the 1929 massacres? The Jews who were hung from lamp posts in Iraq before and during WWII? The Jews who had to endure routine beatings, robbery, murder and rape at the hands of their Muslim neighbors throughout the middle east, both before and after there was a Zionist movement, and both before and after Israel became a state?
9.16.2007 6:08pm
MDJD2B (mail):

One doesn't have to go very far in back in the comments on DBs earlier posts to find large people attributing guilt to the entire Palestinian nation in a strikingly similar manner. Both attributions of collective guilt are ridiculous for basically the same reasons (there are presumably some differences in degree of absurdity, if one cares to look, but I don't think they're likely to matter).



I don't know that Prof. Bernstein said that any Arab state deserves to be taken out of existense because of its ations in 1948-9. I was referring in my post to the idea that supposed Jewish atrocities at that time fatally impaired the legitimacy of the State of Israel and its right to exist.

If a nation is guilty of something (morally? legally?) there must be some sort of process of adjudication, and some sort of remedy for the victims and/or punishment for the nation. Jordan (for example), which had not been involved in the 1973 war, attacked Israel at Egypt's behest, was defeated, and lost control over the West Bank territiries it previously had administered. Germany lost some territory in Poland in WWII, and had to pay reparations after WWI. Right or wrong, these losses affected the government and the people who had waged war, and who, in each case, had initiated aggression.

My point is that it would be wrong to hold nations responsible for what their governments or people did a long time ago. If India were to ask for reparations for Pakistan because of atrocities committed by Pakistan or Pakistanis during partition, this would be inappropriate.

I think we agree on this.

But you also said or emplied that you don't like a lot of what Israel is doing now. Without getting ito the merits of Israel's actions, the same question comes up regarding what price Israel should pay if it is doing something wrong. (The same point can be made with regard to Palestinian entities that send suicide bombers and rockets into Israel, of course. And that goes for nations that trian and finance them.) Clearly, even if the worst things that anyone sane says about Israel are true, loss of national indipendence would be excessive.
9.16.2007 6:14pm
Unclothed:
The Norwegian people have no right to a nation. They have no right to have a sovereign government. It is racist for people of Norwegian descent to have a preferential right to enter Norway and become citizens. The country of Norway should not be allowed to exist. By the way, I'm not anti-Norwegian!

;)
9.16.2007 6:31pm
Cenrand:
Sonja sure makes some excellent points responding to Yankev's posts...
9.16.2007 7:19pm
neurodoc:
Richard B. Gregory, you keep telling us of your concern that Zionists purport to speak for all "real" Jews, you differ with Zionists, and thus you may be burdened with making clear to others that you differ with Zionists and/or that you are indeed a "real" Jew. Rest easy, the problem that pre-occupies you is no problem at all, save in your own head.

I tried to alleviate your concern by calling to your attention what is so evident and undeniable, namely that many who consider themselves Jews freely and loudly criticize Israel, even revile the Jewish state, in a way that they criticize no other nation, even wishing that it never came into being or that it would cease to exist forthwith. But no matter how many such examples I might bring forward, you are not relieved of that singular pre-occupying concern of yours, which will never be dispelled because Jews who advocate for Israel do so on behalf of Jews and see no reason, nor any way, to caveat every one of their utterances with a disclaimer that those utterances should not be understood to represent the views of Richard B. George.

When the NAACP speaks, do they not purport to represent the views of African-Americans and fail to say anything about African-Americans who may disagree with positions taken by the NAACP? And haven't a substantial number of African-Americans been greatly exercised by those who dissented from their community's consensus views (e.g., Ward Connerly, Judge Thomas, Bill Cosby, Thomas Sowell, etc.) Ever heard one of those dissenters referred to as "race-traitors"? You understand why such passions might be aroused among African-Americans, but not among Jews, many who worry about the survival of the Jewish state and the physical safety of their co-religionists as Hezbollah and Hamas rain missiles on them, Iran intimates a nuclear threat, the Left champions Israel's sworn, implacable enemies, etc.?

Where/when did I say/suggest that Jews who do not support Israel are not "real" Jews? I did refer to them as "apostates," putting that in scare quotes so it would not appear that I was calling them "apostates" or not "real" (the word you keep returning to) Jews. Yes, I have no affection for these people, but it is you, not I, who is pushing the "not real Jews" theme so as to make an argument where there is none. ("No real Jew would fail to support Israel" is an obvious example of the "no true Scotsman" fallacy, and my case isn't the manifestly fallacious one here.)

[BTW, as for "real" Jews, which I presume means those born of Jewish mothers or converted according to halacha, there is Christopher Hitchens. Since his matrilineal line is Jewish, to say nothing of his fondness for his bubbe, he can be counted a "real" Jew. Does that matter a whit when he has something to say about Israel and/or Jews generally?]
9.16.2007 8:44pm
neurodoc:
RBG: I have a great deal against pro-Israel Jews who speak for Israel and purport to be doing so on behalf of the Jewish population at large...
I have a great deal against Jews who emigrated from the Former Soviet Union (e.g., Ukraine) circa 1978, when they and their families probably would not have been able to leave were it not for the considerable efforts of the Jewish community outside the FSU on their behalf, who now do not identify in any way as Jews except when they speak up to make a case against Israel or provide cover for others who do so. I think that unseemly at best.
9.16.2007 9:04pm
neurodoc:
And more J. Lorand Matory on Larry Summers and Cornel West:
Better publicized was Summers' spat with world-renowned African-American philosopher Cornel R. West '74, who, as a University Professor, occupied the most selective rank of tenured professorship. Summers, according to West, instructed West to change his writings, discontinue his support of certain political candidates, and make regular compliance reports to Summers. When West complained, Summers reportedly made unsubstantiated insinuations about West's personal life at a New York Times editorial board meeting, according to Richard Bradley's "Harvard Rules."
Imagine, Larry Summers, that racist oppressor (and misogynist), had the effrontery to tell the likes of "world-renowned African-American philosopher Cornel R. West '74, who, as a University Professor, occupied the most selective rank of tenured professorship" that he ought to stick around Cambridge and devote himself a bit more to teaching and scholarship! Professor Matory was outraged that his colleague would be so disrespected by the likes of Summers and thinks others should be too. What is inconsistent with his latest Leftist ranting?
9.16.2007 9:18pm
Sonja (mail):
Ok, let's take up Yandev's points:

1. "How about the almost continuous Jewish presence even between the periods of self-rule?" "When was there ever a Palestininan polity"

Well, your first sentence is kind of inconsistent with your second one, the latter implying that since there was never a Palestinian polity, the Arabs who lived there (as an overwhelming majority for hundreds of years from the seventh century on) have no right to the land - i.e. their mere presence is insufficient. So if that is your position, then the Jewish mere presence (as a minority) also must be irrelevant.

2. "And if you add the rule of the Northern Kingdom after Solomon's death? And rule of the Souther Kingdom from his death until the Babylonian exile? How about the Second Commonwealth".

Well, what about the land's other tenants? Canaanites, Moabites, Jebusites, and Philistines in ancient times, and Romans, Ottomans, Byzantines, and Crusaders in the modern ages? And as I said earlier, the duration of a Jewish state in Palestine before 1948 was a mere 60 years.

3. "Israel agreed to [establishment of a Palestinian state] in Oslo"

This is truly funny. Israel has been saying this for decades now, and what does the picture look like? Taking Oslo alone, the building of settlements didn't just continue during that period, they accelerated to a frantic pace, despite Rabin's insincere promises of withdrawal (for which, ironically, he was assassinated - they needn't have bothered). Actions speak louder than words. Oslo was never meant to achieve peace, only to buy time until the settlement of the West Bank became facts on the ground that make a two-state solution impossible - as it now is.

4. I won't spend long on the Zionist revisionist narrative that Jews suffered in the Middle East - the truth is that they thrived there at a time when they were being persecuted throughout all of Europe. In Palestine in particular, they lived in peace and harmony for hundreds of years.
9.16.2007 9:19pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I assume you are referring to the ethnic cleansing by the Arab states, who expelled their Jewish populations in 1947 and 1948 and confiscated their homes and goods, after centuries of persecuting them and denying them legal rights that Israel guaranties its Arab population? As I recall, about half of the present-day Jewish population of Israel is composed of those refugees or their descendants.
I think she was referring to the ethnic cleansing of the Jews from Gaza a few years ago. (Jews are the only people in the world for whom the left claims that ethnic cleansing is mandated by international law.)
9.16.2007 9:26pm
Richard Nieporent (mail):
Some people seem to be concerned about how "evil" Israel is being by refusing to allow Palestinians the right of return. Could there be some reason for this attitude on the part of the Israelis? What do other Arab countries think about the advisability of having Palestinians living within their midst? It would appear that the Jordanians have no brotherly love for their fellow Arabs. I seem to remember that they defeated and expelled the Palestinians from Jordan just because they tried to overthrow the Jordanian government. Okay, so things didn't go so well for the Palestinians in Jordan. How about in Kuwait? It seems that they also were expelled from Kuwait after the first Gulf war just because they were supporting the Iraqis. Okay, anyone can make a mistake (or two). Surely the Lebanese would be different. I guess not. I do believe the Lebanese just finished bombing and slaughtering the Palestinians living in the Palestinian refugee camps just because the Palestinians were attacking them.

It would appear that the Palestinians have a problem living with their fellow Arabs, yet some of the people posting here expect that the Israelis should take them in with open arms. I guess they think that just because the Palestinians have sworn to destroy Israel is no reason for Israelis to not allowing them to live in their country. If I were as cynical as some of the people posting here I would say that the Israelis should let them enter the country and then treat them exactly as the other Arab countries did. After all then it would be an internal affair and therefore there would be no protests by the UN.
9.16.2007 9:31pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Sonja: "Do you think it is "obvious" to the families of those killed in suicide bombings? of Gilad Shalit? Or those killed in Lebanon, or the OT?"

It's obvious to any thinking person that taking and holding the land has worked well for those who have done it. Anyone can examine history and see this. The families of those killed in the fighting are in no way impeded in observing history. Yes, it's obvious to them, too. It's so obvious that many of them are trying to take and hold land for themselves.
9.16.2007 9:35pm
Benjamin R. George:
MDJD2B -

I said:

"One doesn't have to go very far in back in the comments on DBs earlier posts to find large people attributing guilt to the entire Palestinian nation in a strikingly similar manner. Both attributions of collective guilt are ridiculous for basically the same reasons (there are presumably some differences in degree of absurdity, if one cares to look, but I don't think they're likely to matter)."

then you said:

"I don't know that Prof. Bernstein said that any Arab state deserves to be taken out of existense because of its ations in 1948-9."

I said "the comments on DB's earlier posts" I did not attribute any view to Prof. Bernstein himself. Not comments in his posts. Comments on his posts. Like the comments we're leaving now. Furthermore, the question at hand was not a policy action (taking states out of existence) but a matter of ethical evaluation (attaching blame), so I didn't attribute the views you express to much of anybody.

You are attributing to me slanders which I have never spoken.

You also say things to suggest that you think that I think Israel should lose its national independence. I don't recall expressing this view anywhere above. I don't think nations have a particular right to national independence, but, since I cannot see any major benefit to depriving Israel of its independence, and I can see several quite likely very bad consequences (in particular the oft-mentioned genocide) I'm pretty squarely against any proposal that undermines Israel's independence.
9.16.2007 9:53pm
Benjamin R. George:
neurodoc: you yourself have taken every opportunity to put the adjective "Jewish" in scare quotes when applying it to anybody hostile to Israel in any way. I think I was justified in inferring that you questioned the authenticity of our Judaism. The fact that some of us don't go around loudly publicizing our Jewishness unless it's actually relevant to the political topic at hand doesn't strike me as any great problem. I'm a quiet person. I bring things up when they become relevant, but I don't go around offering tangential biographical or theological information about myself to strangers unless it's relevant to a point I'm trying to make.
9.16.2007 10:01pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Sonja clearly never heard of the Hasmoneans, who ruled Judea for quite a while. I'd say not knowing about the Hasmoneans pretty disqualifies anyone as an expert in Jewish history.
9.16.2007 10:16pm
Benjamin R. George:
Richard Nieporent - Is every Palestinian culpable for the actions you cite, or are Palestinians perhaps entitled to be considered as individuals.

MDJD2B - See RN's comments above for an example of somebody holding all Palestinians culpable for the actions of some Palestinians. This sort of attachment of national guilt is lamentably common. The Israeli people often have to deal with it, and they don't deserve it, but it is hardly an injustice that they alone are confronted with.

There are a lot of reasons why the "Palestinian Right of Return" policies currently on the table are terrible, terrible ideas, of course but "a significant number of Palestinians have been bad news in the past, so we should consider to hold all of them responsible" is a crude and rather offensive one.
9.16.2007 10:19pm
Sonja (mail):
A Jewish state, David. That's the question, since you all seem to agree that mere presence on the land is insufficient. How long was the Jewish state in existence prior to 1948? The answer is 60 years, and you don't need to be an expert in Jewish history to answer that.
9.16.2007 10:19pm
Sonja (mail):
Elliot said: "It's obvious to any thinking person that taking and holding the land has worked well for those who have done it."

I believe your claim was that Israel was needed to provide a safe haven for Jews, and I believe it's obvious this purpose has not been met, considering the number of Israeli dead in terrorist attacks and Arab-Israeli wars.
9.16.2007 10:26pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Please explain how the Hasmonean dynasty (have you heard of it? if not, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasmonean) was not a "Jewish state." Not that I'm conceding that Israelite and Judean rule wasn't "Jewish" for these purposes, but I'm even more curious about how the Hasmoneans weren't.
9.16.2007 10:31pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Sonja: "I believe your claim was that Israel was needed to provide a safe haven for Jews, and I believe it's obvious this purpose has not been met, considering the number of Israeli dead in terrorist attacks and Arab-Israeli wars."

Sorry. I made no such claim. I suspect you are confusing me with someone else.
9.16.2007 10:32pm
MDJD2B (mail):

I said "the comments on DB's earlier posts" I did not attribute any view to Prof. Bernstein himself. Not comments in his posts. Comments on his posts. Like the comments we're leaving now. Furthermore, the question at hand was not a policy action (taking states out of existence) but a matter of ethical evaluation (attaching blame), so I didn't attribute the views you express to much of anybody.

You are attributing to me slanders which I have never spoken.


I wasn't attributing these views to you-- I was commenting on your reference to these points. and you are right-- Prof Bernstein did notsay the things you alluded to. Some of his commentators may have.

My point, however, is that assignment of blame is an exercise that inherently carries either consequences, and explicit call for consequences, or an implicit call for consequences. If not, why assign blame-- to make onelf feel good? Unless there is a consequence of blame, blamefinding is a gratutous, malicious,and perhaps mischievous activity. So if one says, for example, "Israel did something wrong," or, "that physician in law school did something wrong," this leads to the next question-- "And so?..?"

My main concern is the "And so...?" Folks like "Sonja" seem to say, "And so the Jews in israel should be thrown to the tender mercies of Hamas or Hezbollah." As far as I can tell, you have not addressed the question.

Someone (I forget who) said that criticism of Israel (one could generalize to other countries) crosses the line when it engages in the three "D's" of demonization, delegitimization, and a double standard. Demonization occurs, for example, with inappropriate use of Nazi or apartheid analogies. Deligitimization says that Israel's "crimes" deprive it of the right to exist. and a double standard applies a higher standard to Israel than the speaker applies to other nations. We have seen the last two of these on this thread-- notfrom you. It is this sort of advocacy that I oppose.
9.16.2007 10:55pm
Richard Nieporent (mail):
Richard Nieporent - Is every Palestinian culpable for the actions you cite, or are Palestinians perhaps entitled to be considered as individuals.

It doesn't appear that you give the same consideration to the Israelis, now does it?

MDJD2B - See RN's comments above for an example of somebody holding all Palestinians culpable for the actions of some Palestinians.

No I have not BRG. I have simply stated a set of historical facts that make you very uncomfortable. It is you that has interpreted it to mean all Palestinians. As for me it is the ones that are trying to kill me that I worry about which as far as the Israelis are concerned seem to be all of the Palestinians that are in power such as Fatah and Hamas.
9.16.2007 10:55pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
A Jewish state, David. That's the question, since you all seem to agree that mere presence on the land is insufficient. How long was the Jewish state in existence prior to 1948? The answer is 60 years, and you don't need to be an expert in Jewish history to answer that.
True. You need to be completely ignorant of history (Jewish and otherwise) to answer that.

You originally referred to the Kingdom of Solomon lasting 60 years, and then conceded a few posts later that it was 100 years; now you're back to 60. Why is that? And why are you ignoring Jewish rule before David and after Solomon?
9.16.2007 11:00pm
MDJD2B (mail):

I believe your claim was that Israel was needed to provide a safe haven for Jews, and I believe it's obvious this purpose has not been met, considering the number of Israeli dead in terrorist attacks and Arab-Israeli wars.


Sonja,

Jews in Israel are a lot safer than are their counterparts in most Islamic lands (Morocco and Turkey, inter alia, excepted). they are a lot safer than were European Jews in the 1930's and 1940's. It is impossible to say what would have hapened had the State of Israel not come into existence in 1948, but it is likely that more Jews whould have died or been persecuted than was the case withthe existence of a Jewish state.
9.16.2007 11:00pm
Sonja (mail):
David: with all due respect, if I had to choose between wikipedia and Edward Said ... well enough said.
9.16.2007 11:03pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
In other words, Sonja, you don't actually know anything about the subject other than what you've read in Prof. Said's scholarship propaganda. You are aware that he was an English professor, not a historian, right? The existence of the Hasmonean dynasty is a historical fact, not a matter of dispute. If Edward Said said that Julius Ceasar didn't exist, would you believe that, too? By the way, I'm sure Said was too clever and concerned about his reputation to do something as foolish as denying the existence of the Hasmonean dynasty, so I'm sure if he were around to ask, he'd have a convoluted explanation as to why his 60 years figure (if that's what he really said) doens't include the Hasmoneans, who were sufficiently "Jewish" that they, in one of the more embarassing moments in Jewish history, forced the Idumeans they conqured to convert (and from whom was descended Herod the Great).
9.16.2007 11:10pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
You are aware that he was an English professor, not a historian, right?
And a dishonest one, who pretended he grew up in Jerusalem when he actually grew up in Cairo.
9.16.2007 11:18pm
Sonja (mail):
David:
From all I have heard and read, the Zionists base their claims to Palestine on the Kingdoms of David and Solomon. (i.e. not the Hashamoan dynasty). 100 years is the number everyone seems to throw around, but at the end of the day, not being a historian myself, i have to choose whom to rely on. So I choose to ignore the 100 number and go with a scholar who has studied this issue, Edward Said, who states clearly in the Question of Palestine, that the jewish state that existed before 1948 lasted a mere 60 years.

by the way, how much time do the Hashamoans add on anyway? we're talking about thousands of years of history.
9.16.2007 11:54pm
Sonja (mail):
David:
I read his autobiography (have you?) He describes clearly his childhood in Cairo, I can assure you. He was, however, born in Jerusalem, his family came from there, and he states quite honestly he went there during the summers for vacation to visit his extended family. Does this make him less Palestinian? After all, you claim the right to citizenship in Israel and you have never lived there, i'm assuming.
9.16.2007 11:59pm
Montie (mail):

You originally referred to the Kingdom of Solomon lasting 60 years, and then conceded a few posts later that it was 100 years; now you're back to 60. Why is that? And why are you ignoring Jewish rule before David and after Solomon?


I suspect that Sonja had the unfortunate experience that she realized how woefully incorrect she is. The truth is that the Israel has been homeland of the Jewish people for millenia. Jews and their home in Israel are referred to by numerous third party historical sources.

Speaking of which:


David: with all due respect, if I had to choose between wikipedia and Edward Said ... well enough said.


Sonja, I do not know what Edward Said says. However, the Roman historian Tacitus says the following:

The greater part of the [Jewish] population live in scattered villages, but they also have towns. Jerusalem is the Jewish capital, and contained the temple, which was enormously wealthy. A first line of fortifications guarded the city, another the palace, and an innermost line enclosed the temple. None but a Jew was allowed as far as the doors: none but the priests might cross the threshold. When the East was in the hands of the Assyrians, Medes and Persians, they regarded the Jews as the meanest of their slaves. During the Macedonian ascendancy King Antiochus endeavoured to abolish their superstitions and to introduce Greek manners and customs. But Arsaces at that moment rebelled, and the Parthian war prevented him from effecting any improvement in the character of this grim people. Then, when Macedon waned, as the Parthian power was not yet ripe and Rome was still far away, they took kings of their own. The mob were fickle and drove them out. However, they recovered their throne by force; banished their countrymen, sacked cities, slew their brothers, wives, and parents, and committed all the usual kingly crimes. But this only fostered the hold of the Jewish religion, since the kings had strengthened their authority by assuming the priesthood.

Cnaeus Pompeius was the first Roman to subdue the Jews and set foot in their temple by right of conquest.

(Emphasis added)

In other words, Tacitus is referring to the Hasmonean dynasty.
9.17.2007 12:06am
Sonja (mail):
Well, so far you've established I was not aware of the Hasmonean dynasty as an indispensable basis to the Zionists' territorial claims. Can you explain that for me?
9.17.2007 12:14am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Sonja, seriously, and this is not meant disrespectfully: you need to read works from the "other side." They may not change your mind, but even if not, you can at least argue from the pro-Palestinian side from the position of some actual knowledge of both sides' view, and the actual history, rather than what you've picked up from reading a few texts by Said and others.

For example, you say that "the Zionists base their claims to Palestine on the Kingdoms of David and Solomon." First of all, if you are talking about current "Zionists", they base their claim to "Palestine" on the fact that 6 million Jews and 1.2 million others live within Israel's border in a democratic, liberal, internationally recognized state. They know more have to justify the existence of Israel than any other nation, especially liberal democratic nations, have to justify their existence.

But if you're talking about the more general, historical, Jewish claim to "Palestine" (known always in Jewish sources as either Eretz Yisroel or Tzeyon, if yo don't know what these means its further evidence that you need to study up) is that this is the land that had two sovereign Jewish kingdoms, the land that the Jewish holy books said God promised to the Jews (note that one doesn't have to believe that God actually did this to recognzie that this is what the holy books say, adn therefore it's part of Jewish history and culture), the land that Jews were exiled from during Roman times, leading to disaster for two thousand years, the land in which there was always a Jewish presence, and the land to which Jews consistently prayed to be returned to for 2 thousand years. Unlike Christianity, Judaism is a tribal religion, based on peoplehood, and the homeland of the Jewish people has always been thought to be the Land of Israel

You can reject any or all of these bases as plausible grounds for reestablishing a Jewish homeland in Mandatory Palestine in the 20th century, and I don't think any of them are especially relevant given the "facts on the ground," but you should understand that what you've heard, that Jews somehow randomly decided to go back to "Palestine" to get compensation for the Holocaust after only having a kingdom there for 60 years three thousand years ago, is wildly incomplete and inacurrate to the point it's laughable.
9.17.2007 12:17am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Oh, and not to be mention the two Jewish temples, the epicenter of Jewish biblical religious practice until the second was destroyed by the Romans, was housed in Jerusalem.

Personally, I find a lot of value in reading the Palestinian narrive of the conflict. It doesn't change my mind overall, except with regard to specific nuances, but I have come to understand much better the way they see the world, not the way my side describes the way they see the world, and it makes me a much more informed commentator.
9.17.2007 12:21am
Sonja (mail):
David:
Yes, but the two sovereign jewish kingdoms added up to decades! not millenia! and yes it is laughable!
9.17.2007 12:28am
Richard Nieporent (mail):
This thread has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. It is not necessary to prove to Sonja that the Land of Israel is synonymous with the Jewish people. If she wants to ignore history and all of the religious texts - the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Koran - that is her problem, not yours. The better question is what claim do the Palestinians have to the Land of Israel. The answer is none. The have never ruled it now have they? Even their fellow Arabs refused to recognize their claim to the Land of Israel. When the Gaza strip and the West Bank were in the hands of the Egyptians and the Jordanians respectively, from 1948 to 1967, the Palestinians were not allowed to rule.
9.17.2007 1:01am
Benjamin R. George:
RN -

I said: "Is every Palestinian culpable for the actions you cite, or are Palestinians perhaps entitled to be considered as individuals."

I should have put a "?" at the end. I apologize for the typo.

In reply, you said: "It doesn't appear that you give the same consideration to the Israelis, now does it?"

When did I indicate that I am opposed to giving the same consideration to Israelis? If I gave that impression, I certainly didn't intend to, but I don't think I said anything that a reasonable person would draw this conclusion from. What I have said is that I think Palestinians are entitled to be judged as individuals and I also think Israelis are entitled to be judged as individuals, and that the tendency of advocates on each side to treat the other side as a monolithic nation where all are culpable for the crimes of all is deeply unfortunate.

And I assure you your historical facts don't make me especially uncomfortable. I think they're unfortunate and depressing, in the way that I think all needless violence is unfortunate and depressing.

Perhaps you have me confused with somebody else?
9.17.2007 10:44pm
Benjamin R. George:
to Unclothed:

"The Norwegian people have no right to a nation. They have no right to have a sovereign government."

Assuming that here "nation" means "nation-state", I believe this, just like I belive it about the Jewish people and about every other people the doctrine that every people has a right to a nation-state is dangerous and ridiculously impractical, given the degree to which the number of peoples in the world vastly outstrips the number of nation-states that it can reasonably support under present technological and economic circumstances. I think I have to say that no people has this right, because any alternative between all having this right and none having this right seems incredibly racist.

"It is racist for people of Norwegian descent to have a preferential right to enter Norway and become citizens."

Yeah, yeah it is, especially if even extremely distant Norwegian descent qualifies.

"The country of Norway should not be allowed to exist."

I don't believe this about Norway, or about Israel, or really about any other country. I think the current governments of some countries shouldn't be allowed to exist (although neither Norway nor Israel is on that list), and I think that the existence of certain countries as independent entities might be more trouble than it's worth, but there's no country I can think of for which there's a really clear moral imperative to retract is sovereignty.

Speaking for myself, what I want is to see Israel judged and criticized by the same standards used to judge and criticize every other sovereign state in the world. The funny thing is that, when I make suggestions based on the standards of just governance that I think every sovereign state ought to be held to (like my comment about the merits of treating Palestinians as individuals with rights, which I think every state is obligated to do with marginalized populations over whose territory it exerts control), I'm accused of singling out Israel in particular. I really do make the same complaints about other countries, when they come up, but I encounter many fewer active advocates for the wonderfulness of most other countries.

I think there are a lot of people like me out there, and it would appear that, whenever I try to engage with people on either side of the debate, I am slandered and accused of believing a wide variety of deeply offensive things which I do not believe and which I never said.
9.17.2007 11:03pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
BRG brings up some excellent points. It is racist for people of Norwegian descent to have a preferential right to enter Norway and become citizens....Yeah, yeah it is, especially if even extremely distant Norwegian descent qualifies But, that was exactly the situation in Germany until quite recently. Having ethnic German ancestry, I could have become a German citizen far more easily than a third generation Turk living in Germany.

the doctrine that every people has a right to a nation-state is dangerous and ridiculously impractical But that's exactly the current trend. Yugoslavia shattered after Tito died, and even the placid Slovaks decided they could no longer put up with their laidback Czech neighbors, and vice versa. Czechs and Slovaks share a religion, a language, and a culture. In Iraq, separating the ethnically different Kurds from Arabs, and the sectarian different Shiites from Sunnis, is beginning to look like a damn good idea.

Moreover, as long as I've been alive, Quebec has threatened to split off from English Canada. But their status as net recipient of federal funds has stopped them, among other reasons. So, yeah, nationalism is rampant in today's world.
9.18.2007 12:47am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Assuming that here "nation" means "nation-state", I believe this, just like I belive it about the Jewish people and about every other people the doctrine that every people has a right to a nation-state is dangerous and ridiculously impractical, given the degree to which the number of peoples in the world vastly outstrips the number of nation-states that it can reasonably support under present technological and economic circumstances. I think I have to say that no people has this right, because any alternative between all having this right and none having this right seems incredibly racist.
How about this compromise: every people has the right to either have its own state or live in a state in which the rights of minority peoples are protected?

"It is racist for people of Norwegian descent to have a preferential right to enter Norway and become citizens."

Yeah, yeah it is, especially if even extremely distant Norwegian descent qualifies.
I think this is a rather odd definition of "racist."
9.18.2007 1:07am
Mac (mail):
"Speaking for myself, what I want is to see Israel judged and criticized by the same standards used to judge and criticize every other sovereign state in the world."

Oh, Mr.George, we could only wish for that to be true.

And as for judging the Palestinians as individuals, if you want to get into the truly depressing, a recent pole indicated that fully 90% of them support the destruction of Irael. There must be some reason they elect groups who are 100% in favor of destroying Israel and are active in trying to do just that.


Ask yourself, what would happen to the Palestinians if they laid down their arms and said they wanted to live in peace?
Nothing,
What would happen if Israel said it wanted to live in peace and laid down their arms?
They would be exterminated, to the last man, woman and child.
9.18.2007 1:21am
Mac (mail):
Sonja,

You do realize that by your reasoning, the American Indian has no right to live on reservations considered sovereign nations since they have merely lived here and have not ruled for, oh, 300 years or so? We should, as rulers, insist on the right of return to our native lands that they now occupy.
9.18.2007 1:36am
Benjamin R. George:
TT-

Re Germany - congratulations, you've just identified one of the many objectionable policies adopted by Germany in recent memory. There are plenty of more objectionable ones that have rightly gotten a lot more attention, of course.

Re the "one people, one state" theory - Nigeria has just over 500 languages. It is likely that most of those linguistic groups could reasonably consider themselves people, and that there are several cases of more than one self-identified people sharing the same language. (Using languages to count peoples is admittedly a crude measure, but for purposes of a back-of-the-envelope calculation it should suffice.) Do you think a partition of Nigeria into around nation states is a remotely good idea? I suspect it would end in massive regional instability and a lot of violence, and I don't think it'd do much good.
9.18.2007 2:02am
Benjamin R. George:
DMN - I will of course acknowledge everybody is entitled to live in a country where the basic rights of minority demographics are respected. I think this is a basic criterion for qualifying as a decent country.

And you're right, it isn't, by ordinary usage, racist. Just bigoted and immoral in exactly the same way that racism is and for exactly the same reasons.
9.18.2007 2:06am
Mac (mail):
Mr. George,

Are you saying that Israel is a racist, bigoted state?
9.18.2007 2:12am
Benjamin R. George:
Mac -

Your claims all sound about right, but I'm not sure where they get us. Let's put aside that most Palestinian's genocidal inclinations, while incredibly dangerous, are an unsurprising result of their circumstances and the dogmas they've been fed by their leaders. Let's just focus on your 90% figure. Let's go further. Let us say there is one - exactly one - Palestinian who values peace and justice.

Then she still has rights.

Doctrines like freedom and due process may require gambles and statistical determinations - but they're not statistical. The fact that nine out of ten - or ninety-nine out of a hundred - people "like you" are guilty doesn't make it any more justifiable to deny you your freedom.

I'm willing to accept a fair amount of pragmatism. I realize that sometimes you just have to grit your teeth, accept that the situation sucks, and, say, build a wall. That's life. You do what you have to do. But you don't pretend that it's only the bad guys on the other side of the wall, and you don't pretend that the outcome is anything better than the least awful from among a number of horribly unjust alternatives. In the political domain, we make compromises. But blame is a moral concept, and there people are individuals.
9.18.2007 2:18am
Benjamin R. George:
Mac -

The "racist" was something I forgot to amend in a quote from somebody else that I was referring to. But bigoted? Most certainly. Most states are, to one degree or another, and Israel is better than quite a few of them (and in particular is orders of magnitude less bigoted than any Palestinian state we'd be likely to see anytime in the foreseeable future), but that doesn't make it any less true in this particular case.
9.18.2007 2:22am
Benjamin R. George:
Of course, its immigration policies are hardly the most bigoted thing about Israel. The absurdity of its legal institutions of marriage strikes me as a much better example. When they had this kind of foolishness in Virginia, most people took it as good evidence that Virginia was bigoted or at least had a bigoted government. If they had this kind of foolishness in Canada or the Netherlands or any other supposed liberal democracy, we'd be appalled (it wouldn't be enough to deny a country its status as a liberal democracy, but it certainly wouldn't count in its favor).

I've met a number of American Jews who knew nothing about this until I brought it up, including, I believe, one or two who are in the habit of giving Israel monetary support. I think that, in light of this, my tendency to vocally criticize Israel is perhaps more understandable.
9.18.2007 2:38am
Mac (mail):
Mr. George,

In the first place, a "she" in Palestine has no rights including the right to life if she is accused of looking at another man by any male, for instance. I brought up the poll as an example of the extreme situation that exists there and the near unanimnity of their point of view.

As to your other point, I think you forget that while Israel is a democracy, it is a religious state. It really can not be compared to western democracies in many ways because of that. However, she does have a constituion and abides by it and her people are protected and have legal rights including Arabs who are in heer legislature, by the way.

Also, the first one to kill the Palestinian who believes that Israel has the right to exist will not be an Israli, it will be her fellow Palestinians if she has the temerity to utter such a statement.

You are judging a nation from the comfort of your very safe home in this country. I imagine that a few bombs lobbed into your living room might have a way of making you a bit less idealistic and noble.
9.18.2007 3:12am
Benjamin R. George:
Mac -

I don't forget that Israel is a religious state. I just don't especially like it. I'm willing to tolerate state religions when they're relatively detached and impotent (as in, say, the UK), but I think Paine was close to the mark when he wrote that "[a]ll national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit." (Although I do lament the antiquated and somewhat offensive details of his terminology.)

I'm not one of those damn left-wing multiculturalists. There are better and worse ways to run a state, and liberal democracy is about the best one that's been tried on any large scale so far, and I won't hesitate to point out the ways in which particular non-liberal-democratic states fail to measure up.
9.18.2007 3:22am
Mac (mail):
Mr. George,


But all that is your opinion. No one is in Israel unless they want to be. They are free to leave or to change their country, if they so desire. No one is going to cut off their heads or throw them in prison for objecting to the government. Where is it written that we must all live under the western liberal democratic formula and you can't have a religious component which is, I think, a better way to describe Israel. I could be wrong, but it seems rather secular to me especially for a religious liberal democracy. I think that your bias toward religion is showing rather than any evil that exists in the Israeli Parlament. (Other than the normal polictical corruption etc, that plagues all coumtries , even secular liberal democracies.)
9.18.2007 3:51am