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Why I Don’t Always Trust Israel

Does Israel resort to war crimes, and then lie about it, to gain its ends? It has in the past. Which is why I have a hard time believing Israel’s claims now that it isn’t targeting schools and hospitals, which are UN-observed civilian refugee sites. That would be a clear and horrific war crime under international law and the Geneva conventions. I also have a hard time believing what they also in the same breath say (see previous link), that they actually are targeting those sites because they are storing rockets for Hamas. (Yes, those two claims directly contradict each other; yes, it’s absurd to think sites observed by UN personnel are storing rockets–in fact, they clear any rockets found at sites set up as refugee centers).

To get up to speed on this, read this and this and this.

Hamas, of course, is evil and insane, if ever those words had meaning. They lie and kill all the time, in vile ways and without any rational sense. They also try to manipulate the public with false claims. But this isn’t a claim coming from Hamas.

There is a difference between responding justly with necessary force to legitimate terror and danger, and using that legitimacy as cover for trying to get away with evils even greater than those achieved by the enemy you are answering. Because of the Christian Armageddon Lobby, Israel does get away with quite a lot, and getting a free pass is a form of power, and power corrupts. If Israel is beyond all criticism, then it can slip in any evil and play the same get-out-of-jail-free card. If they are allowed to get away with anything, then they will in the end do anything. (So do we. Consider Tuskegee.)

Why am I doubtful that Israel is telling the truth this time? Because neutral observers confirm it. And Israel has done this before. In the most appalling way. And I want to share with you the example I mean. You can’t understand the world without it.

As a historian, I wonder at all the things people don’t know about our own history, and yet history repeats itself when we don’t. So let me recount something you probably have never heard about. It will sicken you. Especially the most patriotic, ra-ra, pro-military folk among you. Yes, especially you.

Photograph (black and white) of the USS Liberty limping back to port a day after the attack.

The United States declassifies a lot of stuff after a moratorium of twenty-five to fifty years. Accordingly, in 2007, forty years after the Six Day War of 1967, materials were released confirming that Israel deliberately attempted to sink an unarmed American ship (the USS Liberty) specifically to kill all two hundred aboard and destroy all their electronic surveillance data, evidently to cover up the fact that Israel had launched the first strike causing the war. In doing so Israeli forces committed explicit war crimes, evidently on orders from Israeli command. Thirty four American servicemen were killed. Over 170 more were wounded, crippled or maimed. And the United States government knew about it. And covered it up. Because they didn’t want to embarrass Israel.

Of course, as we have long known, Israel originally claimed that it had been attacked by its neighbors in 1967, as justification for invading and attacking those neighboring nations. But eventually (very shortly after the war had ended) their claim unraveled and they were forced to admit that, yes, they struck first. They then started appealing to a “preemptive war” doctrine as their justification instead. (Remember when Bush did that barely ten years ago? History repeats itself.)

The victims of the Liberty attack (some two hundred survivors as well as the families and friends of those murdered) had been claiming this was a deliberate attack and a war crime since it happened. But the U.S. government fouled the investigation and declared it an accident. Duly buried, there it stood, Israel insisting those accusing it were just angry and upset conspiracy theorists. And gave them money to shut up. Until 2007. Then the classified evidence came out. And it vindicated the accusers. (If you had not heard any of this until now, think about what that tells you about how little you can trust your own media to inform you.)

Now the evidence accumulated is fairly conclusive: Israel intentionally attempted to sink an unarmed US surveillance ship outside the war zone, itself a war crime, and committed additional war crimes in the effort. The only reason we know this, is that Israeli forces botched the job…but not for lack of serious trying. The ship’s own surveillance data, and witnesses aboard, the very things Israel was trying to destroy, survived. (Key data tapes have since “mysteriously” disappeared…but their existence, and disappearance, and eye-witness accounts of their contents, are multiply-confirmed facts.)

In short, this is what happened (everything I report above and below was documented by the Chicago Tribune in 2007, “New Revelations in Attack on American Spy Ship,” by John Crewdson; you can also check out the site set up by veterans of the Liberty attack and their families; as one might expect, the Wikipedia entry combines true facts with fabrications of both the Israeli and American governments, to create something akin to a fundamentalist’s harmony of the Gospels):

An American surveillance ship, the USS Liberty (armed only with a few fifty-calibre machineguns for repelling borders), crewed by some two hundred men, was in the nearby Mediterranean when the Six Day War began, recording all signals data (including all radio comms on all sides, which made it possible for them to know the actual sequence of events in the war, later forcing Israel to concede they actually started it). It was in neutral waters and flying the United States flag prominently.

Israeli fighter jets were dispatched to investigate. They reported back that it was an American ship. They were ordered to sink it. They replied back that it was American, it was flying the American flag. They were ordered to disregard that fact and sink it. Consequently they strafed the ship, with guns and rockets, until they ran out of ammo. It didn’t sink. So fighter-bombers were sent to napalm it. The ship, now engulfed in flames, didn’t sink. (Napalm essentially cannot be extinguished, FYI; its use on personnel is horrific.)

Completely out of all munitions, and bewildered by the fact that the ship was still afloat, albeit still engulfed in flames from the napalm stuck to the whole superstructure, the Israeli combat aircraft had no choice but to return. Israeli command sent three torpedo boats to finish the job. The boats launched all six of their torpedoes. All of them missed. Except one, which struck the Liberty amidships, blowing a near forty foot hole in the side and killing a couple dozen people. The Liberty still didn’t sink.

Out of torpedoes, the torpedo boat crews started machinegunning the men on the deck…as they were queuing to get into and launch their lifeboats. The Israeli boat crews also specifically machinegunned the lifeboats themselves, to prevent any of the crew from abandoning ship. That is, incidentally, a war crime (Geneva conventions; and most famously, and in a sad irony, at the Neuremburg trials).

The torpedo boats ran out of ammunition and returned.

The Liberty still didn’t sink.

With no lifeboats, no rescue operation underway (an Israeli helicopter supposedly sent to effect a rescue, just circled and returned to base), and over 170 men disabled (many with horrific wounds) and over 30 dead, the few able-bodied survivors had no choice but to wait for the napalm to burn out, put out the remaining fires, and get the ship fit to continue afloat, and limp to a friendly port at Malta.

The ensuing investigation was suppressed by the President. The “official” U.S. position is the one Israel lobbied for: that the attack was an accident. All the evidence overwhelmingly refutes that claim.

I’m a naval man, having served at sea in a combat role during peacetime for the United States Coast Guard. So this story is particularly appalling to me. Because I know a lot of what it would have been like to be on the Liberty during these events. As the crew of a ship, these were our nightmares. And the betrayal, intolerable. But as an event in history, it’s also paradigmatic.

This is a rare opportunity: a covered-up war crime for which enough evidence survives to be quite certain what actually happened. Israel initiated a war, without itself having been attacked. It planned to blame its enemies of striking first and starting the war. It discovered an American signals intelligence ship had been listening to everything. And thus had the truth on tape. So they did every damn thing they could to sink that ship and murder everyone on board to prevent the truth coming out. They deliberately attacked their own ally. They deliberately and horrifically attacked an unarmed ship. A ship in international waters. They even committed additional war crimes, destroying the Liberty’s lifeboats and attempting to kill all survivors.

And then they paid everyone they could, including the United States government, to cover it up. And the American government went along with it and endorsed the false story Israel wanted disseminated.

Think about this.

And when you hear the same thing happening…again and again…know what has happened before.

Power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. Never condemning Israel for anything it ever does grants it an absolute power. We’ve seen how they used such a power in the case of the USS Liberty. Will we let them use it again?

Comments

  1. says

    That really is horrific. I know I’d only heard bits before. Enough to sound like Israel, or someone in the military, did try to have the Liberty sunk with the fighters. But not the repeated attacks, the napalming, trying to slaughter the crew, how much our government knew, and so on. Very infuriating.

    And it’s already hard to believe so many attacks on schools and so many civilians killed are accidents while trying hard to avoid such.

  2. danzig says

    Wow. First time I’m hearing (reading) about this. I’m actually surprised that the US would go so far for Israel that they would cover up Israeli war crimes perpetrated against the US. What an utterly screwed up relationship.

  3. keithwerner says

    I’m pretty sure that 2007-1967 is 40, not 50. One reason I’m pretty sure of this is that I was born in 1966 and I’m still not 50 yet, much less was I over 50 in 2007. You’re free to delete this after fixing the article.

    • says

      Aha! Of course you’re right. The moratorium actually varies from 25 to 50 years, and 40 is just a common period often seen, e.g. Pentagon Papers, etc. I’ve corrected the article to reflect this, and get the math right. Thanks.

  4. weatherwax says

    I had a classmate at HSU who was on the Liberty, and he never had any doubts. He said earlier in the day the Israeli planes had been flying by and waving, so they knew it was an American ship.

    After the first missiles knocked out the communications, he’d climbed up the superstructure, under fire, to jury rig an antenna to get a mayday out.

    The nearest US carrier sent out a some fighter jets, but they were brought back on orders from higher up.

    • says

      That guy is famous, BTW. I assume you mean Terry Halbardier. He received a medal for that action…in 2009. And his was the first medal for the Liberty incident that actually mentioned Israel as the aggressor (in the associated paperwork). All previous medals for Liberty veterans don’t mention who the attacker was. So keen was the government on wanting to bury that.

      I’d say small world, only the internet is quite a big world now! Thanks for commenting.

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      The nearest US carrier sent out a some fighter jets, but they were brought back on orders from higher up.

      Like – shouldn’t this qualify as treason? Don’t we still hang people for that? (Not that I’m advocating for the death penalty per se. Just pointing out the severity of this crime.)

    • says

      Of course there is objective reality, and then there is what you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. There were motives stated for the recall of those planes that were not treasonous (just merely inept or heartless). And without a telepathy machine, there is no way to prove those weren’t the actual reasons for the recall. But certainly, if they were recalled for the purpose of helping Israel sink our ship, that’s treason. It’s credible though that they were recalled in a belief that sending them would start a war with Israel, which was contrary to U.S. national security interests (so not in treason, but in defense).

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      Richard, I sadly find some merit in your pedantic legal arguments.

      However, I still wanted to add that your proposed excuses strain credulity. I’m reasonably sure that those planes would not have been recalled had the attacker been almost any other country, including other countries with military forces comparable to Israel’s military. I think you’re being very charitable, too charitable in some sense, when you say “inept or heartless”. This seems to be a case of getting away with murder and treason because the people in power, the administration, had their back. I think I could make a compelling case that there was treasonous intent in a court of law, but I agree it would not be an open-and-shut case.

    • says

      You are still confusing what we know, with what could be the case.

      I hope you are never on a jury. Because that’s a dangerous conflation, the root of a lot of injustice.

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      I never said I would convict if on a jury based on what I know now. I clearly specifically said I could make a compelling case. Perhaps “strong case” would have been better language. I even weakened my stance significantly when I said “it would not be clear cut”.

      I am outraged that this did not go to trial. Based on what I know now, I would not be outraged if found not guilty.

  5. krambc says

    Here’s yet another example of Israel’s war on the UN – this time from the attack against Lebanon in 2006; Summary:
    http://www.cjpmo.org/DisplayDocument.aspx?DocumentID=57
    Board of Inquiry report [66 pages]:
    https://legionmagazine.com/inquiry.pdf
    After the board’s report was published it was subsequently removed from [Canadian] government websites for “security reasons.”

    Maj Paeta Hess-Von Krudener ['Wolf'] wrote in an email to his wife Cynthia:

    “It is disgusting what [the Israelis] are doing here. Yesterday I witnessed an [Israeli] attack helicopter fire missiles at a local school and destroy a brand new hospital. These [guys] are trying to cripple and destroy the infrastructure of Lebanon. What this has to do with the Hezbollah terrorists I have no idea and cannot make the connection. I agree that the [Israelis] have the right to protect themselves, but they are indiscriminately bombing and targeting the civilian population and infrastructure, which is a fucking WAR CRIME under the Geneva Conventions.”

    https://legionmagazine.com/en/2013/01/one-martyr-down-the-untold-story-of-a-canadian-peacekeeper-killed-at-war/

    And the three other UN peacekeepers murdered by IDF at El Khiam:
    Major Hans-Peter Lang, 44, Austria
    Lieutenant Senior Grade Jarno Mäkinen, 29, Finland
    Major (posthumously promoted Lieutenant Colonel) Du Zhaoyu, 34,People’s Republic of China

    • says

      Just FYI to my readers, I have not investigated any of these claims, so I can’t vouch for them. But if they concern you, you can start with the links above and investigate on your own.

  6. says

    Israel’s war crimes like the attack on the USS Liberty are only news to those not paying attention, to those who choose to get their “information” from a complicit media.

    * The bombing of unarmed refugees at the Rafah camp was caught on video, and that wasn’t good enough to raise any eyebrows or air time in the US or other G7 media.

    * The Israel military deliberately killed innocents playing on a beach, and the story was silenced. I’m not referring to the bombing of boys playing soccer in July 2014, I’m referring to the family picnicking on Gaza’s Sudania beach in June 2006, and an Israeli gunboat using them for target practice.

    * The Israeli government claimed the crew of the Rachel Corrie said “Go back to Auschwitz”, which the lapdog US media widely reported. And the same lapdog media widely ignored it when the Israeli government admitted faking the tape by adding “Go back to Auschwitz” themselves, admitted the crew of the Rachel Corrie never said any such thing.

    What really irks me is that people still give the Israeli government the “benefit of the doubt” (benefit of complicity is more like it). When someone you call a friend starts committing one crime, another, then another, it’s time to re-evaluate your friendship. It’s time to start asking what other crimes your “friend” has committed. And it’s time to turn them in for arrest instead of enabling them – you’re no longer a witness, you’re a participant. Brutality like this doesn’t happen just out of the blue, perpetrators build up to it the same way serial killers start out by killing animals.

    • says

      To my readers, same caveat.

      But as this commenter says, don’t just assume they aren’t true because they “can’t” be true. The Liberty incident may well confirm that what you thought was impossible, is very much less so.

      But sometimes the truth is more muddled than either side would have it. For example, in the last case listed above, though Israel admitted to editing the tape (in a very misleading fashion), they did not admit to adding the offensive line. People do still suspect they did (due to remaining discrepancies between what they claim is the unedited tape and the reports of actual radiomen on the scene).

  7. says

    In what appears to be a three-sided conflict, there can never be an alliance between the Jews and Muslims against the Christians, despite the obvious fact that the Christians are the outside instigators, because all three parties believe that Armageddon is necessary. If Christians, American or otherwise, did not exist, the Jews and Muslims would still fight each other. At least the illusion that American Christians are responsible could be used to create a unity in Israel, it just doesn’t happen.

    There are three sides, but they aren’t Jews, Christians, and Muslims, they are the side that wants Armageddon, the side that wants peace at any price, and there are those who feel that any amount of suffering and death is too much to pay for such a worthless overhyped prize. The way this seems always to be resolved in fiction is that the worthless prize is destroyed so that the pointlessness of the conflict is laid bare. You know, like nuking Jerusalem with an especially dirty nuke that will leave the place uninhabitable for a few centuries at least. There you go, enjoy your prize.

    • says

      That’s a false generalization. Most Christians, Jews and Muslims, even in the Middle East, don’t think Armageddon is immanent. Only the extremists think that. And moreover, that isn’t anywhere near the top of the list of causes of conflict there. It may be a cause of comfortable American lobbies supporting the fostering of continuing conflict there from afar (the Armageddon Lobby, as I noted, is an American thing, not a Middle East thing). But that not what you were suggesting.

      Also, it’s not really about Jerusalem. And suggesting we nuke it to solve the problem, as if this were the last gas refinery in Australia and Humungus and his horde would just ride away when it’s gone, is simultaneously disturbing and naive. Check that.

  8. abcxyz says

    Good post, Dr. Carrier. I’ve been aware of the U.S.S. Liberty incident for many years. But it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Are you aware of the following events?

    Lavon Affair
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavon_Affair

    Baghdad Bombings of 1950-51
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1950%E2%80%9351_Baghdad_bombings

    King David Hotel Bombing
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_David_Hotel_bombing

    Semiramis Hotel Bombing
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiramis_Hotel_bombing

  9. says

    Does anyone here listen to the Best of Left Podcast? About a week back, Jay put together a show about the conflict. I immediately called in and left a voicemail about it. I had to redo it a couple days later. If you do listen to BotL, you can hear my voicemail (Nathan from Boca) on the next episode, about Immigration Policy. In short, I basically said that I come from a near-fanatical Pro-Israel family and was so myself until recently. What I didn’t say is this: I kind of hate myself for ever being blind to what’s really going on…

    And now this, too?

    I guess I don’t get it. I had always believed that Israel was set up as the only friendly place Jews could go during and after the Holocaust because literally nowhere else (including the US) wanted them. I don’t see how what Israel is doing is Jewish… at all. I grew up a Jew. I’m still a cultural Jew (despite my antitheism, anti-religionism, and distrust of faith). But I literally don’t get Israel anymore (I’m using the “literally” deliberately, here).

    And if recent votes and statements out of the UN are any indication, basically the entire world is turning against both the US and Israel. At what point do both countries look at this situation and say “maybe it’s us”?

    • says

      To be fair, a huge percentage of the Israeli voting public agrees with you.

      Just like most of the U.S. is neither Tea Party nor even Republican, yet the Tea Party Republicans control our House of Representatives and thus pretty much Congress. The face of America is the Tea Party. And yet they are actually a minority of us, and most of us hate them as much as the world does. Israel’s electorate is in almost a similar state right now.

    • Mark Erickson says

      Whoa, where did you get that? “Israeli polls show overwhelming support for Gaza campaign” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/31/israeli-polls-support-gaza-campaign-media

      Israelis are becoming more right wing. “death to leftists” has joined “death to Arabs”. Read Max Blumenthal’s work.

      “the Tea Party Republicans control our House of Representatives and thus pretty much Congress” That isn’t true either. Name one avowed Tea Partier who chairs even a subcommittee of the House. (not saying GOPers that do control the House aren’t very conservative, they are. Just they aren’t Tea Partiers, who could only be first or second termers)

    • says

      You are confusing “the war is justified” with “the war is being prosecuted humanely.” That’s the trouble with polls. The pollster can get any result they want, by just carefully wording their question.

      Be a better critical thinker. Please. Especially with polls.

      As to the Tea Party, you again are conflating “runs a committee” with “controls what happens.” The Tea Party vote is what is obstructing Congress. Unlike other multi-party coalitions in other countries, the Tea Party forms no block with anyone. Consequently, no one can get a majority vote for anything the Tea Party opposes. That is power far out of proportion to their numbers. But that was precisely my point.

    • pick says

      “maybe it’s us”?

      No shit Sherlock! ;-)
      I think that is truly written in the book of Pogo!
      “We have met the enemy, and they are us!” ;-)

    • Mark Erickson says

      Wha? Where did you get those two options from? What specifically from Nate’s post did you think the Israeli voting public agreed with?

      It’s an example of true power. There are two ways to congressional power, seniority and prime positions for individuals and large numbers for a caucus. The Tea Party has neither. Btw, how many Tea Party MOC do you think there are and who is the most influential individual Tea Partier?

      The Tea Party is not obstructing Congress. The House and Senate controlled by different parties, Senate rules, and the House not wanting Obama to get credit for anything are obstructions. The Tea Party is not a factor.

      The rest of your paragraph seems to think the Tea Party is an actual party and that a parliamentary system has some relevance to the US.

    • says

      The Tea Party is certainly the factor. What news are you watching? How many times has Boehner failed to get legislation passed because the Tea Party members wouldn’t play ball? More times than I have fingers. It’s why we never got an immigration bill. It’s why the government was shut down and Boehner had to try and save face by pretending he agreed with that. Read this and this and this and this and this. And also read this, and research how all those votes would have gone without the Tea Party. Likewise this.

      The Tea Party is indeed acting like a third party, by refusing to vote with Republicans on key issues unless they acquiesce to specific demands (read: create a coalition government). Mainline Republicans themselves, Boehner especially, have openly said this and complained about it repeatedly.

      As to the Israel poll, agreeing Hamas should be stopped does not equal agreeing schools and hospitals should be bombed. The right-wing movement in Israel is a minority, yet is controlling the government and the military (though indeed, by fear-mongering the liberal wing into supporting the war, the same way Bush did to get us into Iraq). 25% of Israeli voters are not even Jewish. 20% are Palestinian Arabs. So when a poll says “90% of Israeli JEWS believe Gaza operation is justified,” notice how you are being scammed (that is not 90% of Israeli voters). But doubly scammed, by not asking specifically about support for bombing schools and hospitals. It’s a bait and switch, cups and balls. And it’s all part of Israel’s propaganda playbook. You need to be more critical.

    • Mark Erickson says

      On Israel, you are confusing the matter. Nate said “I don’t see how what Israel is doing is Jewish” and “I literally don’t get Israel anymore.” I took this as a general condemnation of the current operation from a Jew. He certainly didn’t just single out bombing schools and hospitals. You replied “a huge percentage of the Israeli voting public agrees with you.” Again, what exactly were you saying they agreed with? And as Nate’s comments were explicitly from a Jewish perspective, bringing in Israeli Arabs is a red herring.

      “The right-wing movement in Israel is a minority.” You would have to be more specific to better evaluate this claim (and offer evidence), but in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that is laughable. The current government is commonly called the most right-wing in Israel’s history on the occupation and it does not include Labor, Kadima or the ultra-orthodox parties. Any party worthy of being called left-wing on I-P is Arab and/or marginal. Under 20% in total. And the country is trending significantly right-wing with regard to Israeli Arabs, Palestinians and immigrants. Read Max Blumenthal’s Goliath excerpt. Other good sources are Mondoweiss, The Electronic Intifada, 972 mag and on and on.
      Your Tea Party comments are even more misguided. If Boehner wanted an immigration bill, he would negotiate with the WH and the Senate for a modest reform. He would pick up far more Democrats than Republicans he would lose. But he doesn’t want one. Again, how many Tea Party Representatives are there?

      Your first set of links, especially Theda Skocpol (source for three links), just treats “Tea Party” to mean “conservative Republican” inside and outside Congress. So what do you mean by it? The Think Progress article says the GOP is blocking Dem’s legislation. As in, Republicans have a majority of the House and at least 40 in the Senate. The Tea Party isn’t mentioned there or in the Right Wing Watch article.

      It is bizarre you are still using terms such as “coalition government” as if the US had a parliament. The bottom line is any Rep that could be called a Tea Partier has no power within the House so has nothing to lose by defying GOP leadership. The same goes for the Senate (see Jim DeMint). Withholding your vote in order to get what you want is just politics as practiced by every US politician. You haven’t attempted to show that there is a group in Congress called the “Tea Party.” Or even what political platform the term refers to.

    • says

      Re: Israeli politics: That’s an unsettling development if it’s true. It was not the case ten years ago.

      Re: Tea Party: I’m not sure what you are claiming. That there is no such thing as a Tea Party Caucus? That the House Majority Whip is not a member? That there aren’t currently over 48 members officially and from 88 to 100 supporters in Congress overall and at least 67 now with active Tea Party funding? That that isn’t enough to block legislation and shut down the government? That they don’t use this stonewalling tactic to force concession to their demands? That this isn’t responsible for the failure of this Congress to get almost anything done, even when GOP party leaders keep trying to?

    • Mark Erickson says

      Good to hear you’re updating your views on Israel. It’s only going to get worse unfortunately. Take a look at the BDS movement as something to support. Did you hear about the story of U of Illinois “dehiring” Steve Salaita over his tweets on the latest Gaza War?

      On the Tea Party Caucus, I admit I set a trap for you, but didn’t think you’d go whole hog on the Wikipedia article. I can now chide you for a lack of critical thinking.

      Like much of the Tea Party hype, the Tea Party Caucus is mostly hot air and astroturf. So yes, while it does exist (as a webpage), it is an empty shell. The Caucus never has done much, but it has been especially dormant in the last several years. The “Members” link on the official caucus page has been removed and it has issued one press release in the last two years. (On the IRS targeting conservative groups) It really was just another self-serving media stunt by Michele Bachmann. She “relaunched” it in April 2013 (quote: “To say we haven’t been real active is an understatement. We haven’t done anything,” Texas Republican Rep. Joe L. Barton said) only because someone else tried to take the reins. However, after a brief flurry, hasn’t been “in the news” since.

      Compare it to the Republican Study Committee, a true caucus with power. And while Scalise says he is a Tea Partier like many others, again, it means nothing, his Chairmanship of the RSC up until his election as Whip explains his rise more than anything else. (Darn, I read the whole thing last night on ipad, now it’s paywalled for me. The article explains Scalise and the RSC are coming to terms with power, not opposing the GOP leadership and staying ideologically pure, as Tea Partiers are said to do.)

      I gotta flog this and it proves my point: You actually put the text from Wikipedia “Tea Party Caucus member Steve Scalise of Louisiana was elected as the House Majority Whip” into your hyperlink “is not a member” instead of the article cited, which states “Although Scalise chairs the 170-member Republican Study Committee, some conservatives regarded him as too cozy with Speaker Boehner’s ‘establishment’ leadership team. The Louisianan also was seen as doing little to advance the conservative agenda.” FAIL.

      The immigration issue, including the recent maneuvering before the recess, deserves more in depth treatment. But suffice to say, that Boehner could have passed the 2013 Senate overhaul bill or the recent Senate emergency border funding bill if he brought those to the floor by picking up many more Dem votes than GOP votes he’d lose. His hyper-Hastert rule policy in order to not give Obama anything before the mid-terms is the key factor. In the next Congress, there will be more pressure on him to come to the middle on immigration for the 2016 Presidential run. No guarantees, but some reform is likely, Tea Party be damned.

      In general, the “Tea Party” is just a content-free signifier. Elected Republicans can claim it to establish conservative bona fides without effort or any penalty, so why not? Underdog primary challengers try to use it to defeat their “insider” opponents (btw, they have fared miserably this cycle). For the Dems, it is just a political club to beat up conservatives, much as “socialist” is for the right. And for the press, it has no defined meaning other than very conservative Republican.

    • says

      “Although Scalise chairs the 170-member Republican Study Committee, some conservatives regarded him as too cozy with Speaker Boehner’s ‘establishment’ leadership team. The Louisianan also was seen as doing little to advance the conservative agenda.” FAIL.

      I don’t see how that’s at all logical. That some Tea Party members think he’s too cozy with the establishment doesn’t make him not a Tea Party member or supported by Tea Party votes and money. That would not fly for saying someone isn’t a Republican or isn’t a member of the Women’s Caucus because some Republicans/women thought they were cozying up too much to Democrats/Catholics. That’s fallacious reasoning on your part. And a fallacy is a fail.

      The journalism is pretty solid on this: there is a real Tea Party faction, it’s huge, it has a lot of vocal members, they are even identified by the Republican establishment, by name, as a problem, and are actively fighting them in primaries for control of Congressional seats. Republicans have also identified them as the group responsible for blocking actual GOP legislation (on immigration, budget, and so on). All journalists observing Congress concur. To deny this is even happening is just bizarre.

    • Mark Erickson says

      Well, the fail was more on the Wikipedia text link while the article makes clear the RSC was more important. I wish the WSJ article was available.

      I don’t deny there are very conservative Republicans battling establishment Republicans in and out of Congress. I wish there were leftists that did the same. The Progressive Caucus could take lessons. But the “Tea Party” is not a functioning caucus and certainly not a party. They have some power on some issues because Boehner won’t accept any Dem votes.

      Let’s go back to your original statement: “the Tea Party Republicans control our House of Representatives and thus pretty much Congress” Are you standing by that?

    • says

      They have some power on some issues because Boehner won’t accept any Dem votes.

      I assume you mean Boehner won’t compromise with Democrats. (Otherwise, if the Dems will vote for his bill, they will vote for his bill; he can’t “reject” their votes.)

      Certainly, he could bypass the Tea Party by making his bills more agreeably liberal. So in that sense, he shares blame for gridlocking Congress. But he could get the conservative bills he wants passed without the Democrats…if it weren’t for the Tea Party.

      Moreover, Boehner’s bills have been dragged to the right, and thus further away from the Democrats, by trying to appease enough Tea Party members to win their votes.

      Thus, the government shutdown was the Tea Party. Boehner didn’t want that to happen, yet was powerless to stop it. Tea Party.

      Even Boehner’s immigration bill would have gotten many Democratic votes, but he couldn’t get enough votes from his own party to pass it. Tea Party.

      I have linked to numerous journalistic articles examining case after case like this.

      This is a real thing. It’s really happening.

    • Mark Erickson says

      It is a thing. I agree. Just need to acknowledge that you’ve toned down your claims to: there is a vocal minority of conservative Republicans that are pulling the House to the right. My point is Boehner has allowed them to do it.

      Your second paragraph is just saying Boehner can get legislation passed that has the support of the majority of the House. OK. But the important part of that truism is the fact that there is a Democratic President and a majority Democratic Senate (not the same as filibuster-proof). If he wants a bill to become law, then he has to ignore the far right wing of his own party. (Democratic leadership ignores the far left wing all the time, btw).

    • says

      I’m not sure what any of that matters. No bill can pass without the House. So owning the Senate is meaningless. That Boehner is allowing the rightward pull is not because Boehner secretly agrees with the Tea Partiers who are doing the pulling, it’s because they are forcing him politically to do so in an attempt to get anything done (and, failing that, to get his cronies re-elected, instead of losing to yet more Tea Partiers, thus losing even more power to them).

      For example, Boehner did not want to shut down the government last year. He is a political player and fully knew that was supposed to be a bluff. But the Tea Party wouldn’t play politics and actually shut the government down. Forcing Boehner to save face (he called it a disaster that he was forced to comply with). And this was because he couldn’t get Tea Partiers and their supporters to play ball.

      This is an insane dynamic that did not exist under Clinton. And it’s what has gridlocked this Congress far more than any other Congress in US history. Replace the Tea Party with Boehner cronies, and that would not be so. It wouldn’t be all preaches and cream. But it wouldn’t be this.

    • says

      I do not find that surprising. Sad. But not surprising. What makes it immoral is that in Israel service is mandatory. If soldiers could refuse to serve under that directive, then it would be an acceptable contract of war (those who still volunteer to serve knowing they are under the directive are asking to be killed rather than allowed to be captured).

  10. says

    This is a great article, and I’m afraid that none of it surprises me, given much of what I’ve been reading over the past few days. It’s nice to have a confirmed case of this sort of thing actually happen, rather than just having the sense that something smells distinctly fishy.

    I want to add though, that even in the case of Hamas, there is more nuance than is reaching the public conscience. They have separate factions – some of which rabid, and some of which demonstrate the behaviour of a genuine resistance group. I will not condone terroristic behaviour – but I think it’s important for some facts to get out.

    Rockets firing from Gaza had decreased substantially since a ceasefire agreement between Hamas and the IDF in late 2012, and in 2013 were at their lowest level ever since conflict began. Israeli authorities have confirmed this. Hamas had been actively involved in dismantling all its rocket firing operations, and foiling other militant groups intending to fire rockets. They were also patrolling the borders and controlling crowds with a view to keeping the peace.

    Israel was still blockading Gaza, but it had removed all Israeli settlements – and there was every indication that there would be a slow but sure coasting towards peace, and that both sides were cooperating overall in a gradual reduction of conflict, before this current outburst of aggression, which seems to have spiraled out of recent incidents flaring tensions on either side. (Kidnapping of a Jewish teenager in the West Bank, and the retaliatory murder of a Palestinian.)

    I know you’re probably dying to disbelieve me about Hamas’s peacekeeping and anti – terror operations – but here are the news reports of these facts from Israeli sources.

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-establishes-special-force-to-prevent-rocket-fire/#ixzz37MFA5sKO

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-arrests-terror-cell-responsible-for-rocket-fire-on-israel/#ixzz37MFLhn3Q

    http://972mag.com/head-of-idfs-gaza-command-hamas-is-the-new-policeman-in-gaza/82895/

    These facts make the current gratuitous bombardment of Gaza even more grotesque than it appears even just from dissecting Israel’s explicit propaganda. There has been a much softer, but persistent line of propaganda going out to the effect that Hamas are entirely insane extremist thugs, who can be dismissed wholesale – while the truth is a little more complex than that.

    Please also blog about this. I think it’s important to get these facts out.

  11. abcxyz says

    Hi, Richard. I posted a comment earlier on this article but I think it got caught by your spam filter because it contained multiple Wikipedia links.

    • says

      No worries. It didn’t get spammed. I’m just behind.

      Just FYI to everyone, I apologize, but I am traveling this week so getting to things in the queue is taking days longer than even usual (and even usually it can take a day or two, and longer with the weekend, since I usually don’t work on weekends). See my comments policy for more.

  12. Bob de Jong says

    Is there any government that you “always trust”? Which government always publishes all embarrassing information about itself, in the middle of a war?
    These are rhetorical questions, I hope you understand that. What is not a rhetorical question is, why you single out Israel to illustrate a very general phenomenon, as if there is something very special going on here; and the events that you describe so colourfully – and at length – happened 40 years ago, and were published 7 years ago….. Is that the best you got?

    And a problem of logic: you don’t trust Israel (in general) because Israel was proven to have ‘lied’ 40 years ago. But you trust the UN (actually UNRWA) unconditionally in that there are no weapons in UN schools: while actually weapons were found (at least) once in a UNRWA facility in Gaza, 3 weeks ago!

    • says

      False inference. That I sometimes trust a source does not mean I always do. So you have tripped up on your own logic there.

      The probability that UN sources are conspiring to lie about all this is much lower in this case than the probability Israel is.

      That’s a case by case basis. It is not unconditional.

      Note that I cite the one incident you refer to, and it was not rockets being stored in an active facility, but in a unused one, and as soon as the UN showed up to start using it, they cleared the building of weapons, including those rockets. This is as acknowledged by all journalistic reporting and all sources who were there. It is contradicted by no evidence or eyewitnesses whatever.

      So to use that in the way you did is to play right into the hands of dishonest and manipulative Israeli propaganda. They don’t want you to know the details, so they carefully leave them out. You were duped.

      When we check the details, we find they don’t support what Israel wants you to believe.

      But notice how you also repeated the same contradictory position Israel maintains: no we don’t bomb schools; yes we bomb schools because rockets are in them. Those two statements contradict each other. And the second is so massively disingenuous as to be appalling. Hence, the probability Israel is lying is extremely high in this case. Nothing comparable can be said for all the other sources against it.

      Learn how to be more critical. And check your facts.

  13. says

    (tried and tried to log on with my WordPress account but it wouldn’t let me)

    I don’t know, I take much of this with a grain of salt. There are so many inconsistencies that are just setting off red flags. Richard, are you sure you’re not a conspiracy theorist??

    EVERYBODY’S accounts seem to miss something. If you read them all you start to notice omissions that seem to be based on which side of the debate you stand on. Some reports say that the wind conditions were prime for the US flag to be clearly seen. Others stated that with the slow speed of the ship and the lack of wind at the time, it was quite possible that the flag wasn’t visible even if it was on the pole at the time. Of course, there was also that point when the first flag was no longer visible after the flagpole was destroyed until it was replaced with a new one once the opportunity arose. I believe that by this time the ship was on fire and blowing a lot of smoke, obscuring the flag even further.

    There was also many inconsistencies’ with this presumed communication that presumably happened between the various parties that have apparently been destroyed and everyone is recalling it based on 40 year old memories, each one getting it slightly different. Some saying that they didn’t see the identity markers on the ship, others saying that they saw and reported it to controllers but again everyone has a different recollection of the conversation they “remember” reading. Some say It’s “American” some say they are “U.S.” which is slightly different

    But let me get to comments that Richard said that jumped out at me.

    “yes, it’s absurd to think sites observed by UN personnel are storing rockets–in fact, they clear any rockets found at sites set up as refugee centers).”
    And
    “Yes, those two claims directly contradict each other”

    Yes, your statements directly contradict each other…… First you think it’s absurd to think sites (locations) observed by UN personal are storing rockets THEN you say DO INDEED find them stored on UN sites (but give them back to Hamas). You can’t have it both ways Richard. They are either finding rockets on UN observed sites or they are not. But alas, they are, aren’t they?

    “‘Hamas, of course, is evil and insane, if ever those words had meaning. They lie and kill all the time, in vile ways and without any rational sense. They also try to manipulate the public with false claims.”

    Yes they are…. but then again so are the orthodox Settlers in the West Bank, ‘Nuff said.

    “Because of the Christian Armageddon Lobby, Israel does get away with quite a lot, and getting a free pass is a form of power, and power corrupts”

    To be honest, I didn’t read much of that link but you’ve fallen right into conspiracy theorist territory if you believe this particular Christian nutbar lobby is controlling anything of value. It’s just like the other crazies saying that those “Zionist” control the world. It’s full Illuminati conspiracy mind think there.

    “Why am I doubtful that Israel is telling the truth this time? Because neutral observers confirm it”

    Actually, NO they don’t. This would have been a prime place to have places some of your wonderful links. That would have gone a long way to prove your point. As a matter of fact, the longer this goes on the more that Israel is able to prove their actions to have been warranted. For example (sorry no links, I’m “off the grid” at the moment) IDF has supplied many of their drone videos showing that missiles were indeed fired from the locations that were eventually struck by return fire. There is also an Italian journalist that just had to leave Gaza in order to report that, at one location at least, Hamas rockets fell short and hit the UN location he was at. He reported that Hamas militants came in quickly after the explosion and “cleaned up the area”. IDF also produced drone video of the exact moment a motor struck the one school playground and there was no activity on the grounds showing it was likely vacant at that time and Hamas lied. But of course you’ve already acknowledged that Hamas lies.

    I’m OK with you providing evidence of any time Israel lies. I’m Pro-Israeli but only slightly so, so I am open to any evidence that will change my views. I’d love to see the whole thing ended and a final resolution achieved. To me, that means a independent state for Israel AND an independent state for Palestine, with those motherfucker Settlers all forced back to the WEST side of that wall AND the wall moved back to the Green Line. OR they can start calling themselves “Jewish Palestinians” and become citizens of the new Palestinian state (without IDF protection)

    “materials were released confirming that Israel deliberately attempted to sink an unarmed American ship (the USS Liberty) specifically to kill all two hundred aboard and destroy all their electronic surveillance data, evidently to cover up the fact that Israel had launched the first strike causing the war.”

    Yeah, THAT is what I’m talking about. I’d like you (or anyone else) to link me to this evidence that “confirms” that Israel “deliberately” attempted to sink that ship because it was an “American ship” as well as the evidence that “specifically to kill all 200 on board”. Yes, Israel intended to attack the ship but that’s just semantics. Prove that they “deliberately” did it knowing it was American. Yes, I read all the links but there was no actual “proof” in there, just conjecture and conspiracy theory. Do you even skept?

    “Of course, as we have long known, Israel originally claimed that it had been attacked by its neighbors in 1967….”

    Well….. Not that I recall but I was only 1 at the time. As I’ve always understood it, Historically speaking, was that Nations around them all started amassing their armies at the Israeli boarder and boasting how they were ready to invade. Both Syria and Egypt were both guilty of this and Jordon less so. They readied their armies and the National Newspapers all boasted how they were going to be victorious. THEN Israel organized a the pre-emptive strike, something they’d been practicing for for several years in case it became necessary. Had the neighbours not boasted about destroying their neighbour, this attack might not have been deemed necessary. Maybe you should look into the history of Egypt in 1966-67. He was preparing for war and the people were expecting a glorious victory.

    “The victims of the Liberty attack (some two hundred survivors as well as the families and friends of those murdered) had been claiming this was a deliberate attack and a war crime since it happened.”

    And this makes it true? People have been saying that they’ve been abducted by aliens (or speak to Gawd) Is it then true?

    “But the U.S. government fouled the investigation and declared it an accident. Duly buried….”

    Are you sure? How do you know it was “duly buried” rather than investigated, reported on and the case closed?

    “And gave them money to shut up”

    Again, Are you sure? What is your evidence for this view? Do you have any reason to believe this other than it sounds like a cool story?

    “Until 2007. Then the classified evidence came out. And it vindicated the accusers. ”

    OK. links please. You say that “evidence” is now out there. Please help us find it and post it here so we can be proven I’m wrong yet again.

    “Now the evidence accumulated is fairly conclusive:”

    Good, then it should be easy for you to find and share. You are stating this as ‘fact’ so I hope you have some links that I missed that isn’t just conjecture by people who have a theory. (yes I read the three links you posted. I did not see any “evidence”. I did see some people who ‘believe’ this to be the case but no evidence was provided for their assertions. I think your idea of “fairly conclusive” is quite different than mine ;-)

    skip

    skip

    skip

    skip

    Near the end you say “Think about this.”

    OK, I did. You stated very much in a matter of fact fashion, as if this has all been settled. You spoke as if this was proven fact. It is NOT. What you really should have been saying is “some people think that (this and that) happened and has provided (this) as evidence, yet you stated it as fact. I think as an Historian, you’d be better to hold your own personal judgement until those Historical facts can be presented and proven. Something I hope you can admit hasn’t happened yet.

    Alan d’Eon
    alandeon2

    • says

      You need to analyze evidence critically. When most of it is lies, of course there will be contradictions. You have to look at the accumulation of sources and their motives and make a judgment call. In this case, the evidence is overwhelmingly against the lies told by Israeli sources, and even U.S. “Official Reports.” Overwhelmingly. But yes, those lies remain on the record. They just don’t stand up against the entire body of evidence, a vast body of evidence which would not exist if those lies were the truth. A vastly more improbable conspiracy must be proposed to get around that, than the far simpler conspiracy governments engage in all the time (colluding to sell a story that isn’t true for their mutual political convenience).

      BTW, I don’t understand your request for links. I provided several, including an extensively well-researched newspaper report. Go read them. And think critically about it. Just not so critically your brains fall out. Radical skepticism is foolish. Reasonable skepticism requires reasons.

  14. says

    If you win at history, all your aggressions are brilliant pre-emptive strikes and aggressive defences.

    The funny thing is? This was common knowledge outside of the USA. The war of 1967 was “not” started by the Arabs but by Israel. Hell the same strategy was planned by Pakistan during the Liberation of Bangladesh (Another American Ally if you notice)

    I suggest reading the Blood Telegram

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archer_Blood#The_Blood_telegram

    It’s a common theme in American allies. Israel’s justification at the time was the political situation was going towards war and they merely started something that they think was bound to occur. But considering the land grab? Doesn’t seem all that bound to have occurred anyways. Kind of seems like a sneak attack.

  15. J. says

    It’s surprising that everyone doesn’t already long know about the USS Liberty attack. It’s common knowledge in the circles I run in. I knew about this in the 1980’s.

    Israel is unbelievably evil. Their crimes are extensive and heavily documented. But the idiotic Christian fringe contingent within this kountry refuses to see what bleeds right before their eyes. Instead, they go on funding the slaughter… while claiming this is all the will of God.

    It’s tragic, pathetic, and unbelievably horrific – but it will continue under the fascist rule of the United Slaves of Amerika.

    This is one reason why I reject discourse with Christians as a personal rule. If any subject is “sacred” to Christians, it’s Israel. I’ve met many who claim (exact quote): “I do not care what Israel does. It doesn’t matter. Israel can do anything it wants, whatever it wants. I will still support Israel no matter what they do”.

    It is this sort of staggering stupidity that permeates American politics and the Religious Right. Genocide is perfectly acceptable – as long as it is Israel committing the genocide. No need for any forgiveness either, there’s “nothing to forgive”.

    The crime of permission extends to the American media too, who have steadfastly refused to document, report and challenge Israel and their war crimes.

    In this kountry, if it’s “Israel” or “Israeli” or “Jew” then you can rest assured that distortion, deception, cover-up and lies surround whatever the topic is.

    For a real eye-opener, for those who have yet to do so, read the history on the Balfour Declaration, the “settlement” of Arab lands and the ensuing genocide that took place as the newly minted “Israel” slaughtered tens of thousands of people in the “uninhabited lands” of Palestine.

    Then, if you can stomach it, watch the online videos on “settlers” attacking Arabs, read the court cases, and “rights” afforded to Israelis and the non-rights given to Arabs. Don’t forget to read up on the prisoners too. Watch the bulldozed homes, the effort of Rachel Corrie and her ensuing death and many, many more activist, photographers and foreign journalists who have experienced the backlash of investigating any of Israel’s crimes.

    Unless your brain dead (and frankly, most Christians really are), you cannot absorb all these facts and history and continue to support Israel in any possible way. They are the world’s leading terrorist nation, vying for first place with the United States.

  16. Antonio says

    [quote]They then started appealing to a “preemptive war” doctrine as their justification instead.[/quote]

    A common argument in defense of these preemptive wars is that Israel’s territory is too small to be defended otherwise. The initial momentum of an attacking adversary would be enough to conquer it. I don’t know if that is true, but assuming that it is, it would make a preemptive strike understandable [i]if[/i] there is sufficient evidence of an impending invasion.

    • says

      The problem with that reasoning, is that you can always come up with some tactical geographic advantage your enemy has, that therefore you must deprive them of for your own self-defense. Oil, for example.

    • says

      Hello Antonio,
      There was indeed evidence of an impending attack. Look at my post to Richard. I mention initiatives on the part of Nasser that point to an impending attack. Here they are:
      –Nasser called for full mobilization on May 14, 1964.
      – On May 19 Nasser expelled the UN forces from Gaza and the Sinai peninsula. These forces had acted as a buffer between Egypt and Israel.
      – Nasser declared the Straits of Tiran closed to Israeli shipping four days later. Israel had warned that such a step would constitute a casus belli.
      – Throughout May and during the first days of June Arab leaders made violent radio attacks on Israel, including the prediction made by Ahmed Shukairy, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, on June 1: “Those who survive will remain in Palestine. I estimate that none of them will survive.”
      All this information is easily verifiable. Check the periodicals published in May and June 1967.
      I suggest you take a look at the Wikipedia article on the subject http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-Day_War

  17. Paul Rinzler says

    Richard, thanks much for the information, I never knew this.

    I also appreciate very much your objective approach: you’re not afraid to criticize Israel as well as Hamas, in the same article, when it is called for. Keep calling’ em as you see them and I fairly sure that you’re comfortable with the chips falling where they may.

  18. mira says

    I’m confused. I just read the 2007 Tribune article that you linked to and said was the basis for this post. It seems to be a pretty thorough account, yet I must have missed all the references to Israel’s motivation that you asserted (e.g. covering up a pre-emptive strike). Can you please point them out, since “everything I report above and below was documented by the Chicago Tribune in 2007″ — I’m curious. Thanks.

    • says

      It’s stated in the article you said you read:

      The NSA’s deputy director, Louis Tordella, speculated in a recently declassified memo that the attack “might have been ordered by some senior commander on the Sinai Peninsula who wrongly suspected that the LIBERTY was monitoring his activities.”

      This is in fact the only possible motive, and it fits the timeline and sequence of events perfectly. Once you rule out accident (as all the evidence does), this is what remains. The only alternative with any plausibility was that Israel wanted to drag the U.S. into the war by claiming the Liberty was sunk by Egypt, which indeed may have been their intended cover story, but it is an extremely weak motive for mass murder. And it requires accepting as a coincidence that the Liberty was a signals intelligence ship.

    • Pierce R. Butler says

      Richard Carrier: This is in fact the only possible motive…

      Not necessarily. Consider this scenario from John Loftus and Mark Aarons’s The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People: Purportedly, the Liberty was scooping up all the electronic communications it could, and fowarding them to US military intelligence computers on Cyprus for processing. Analysis of this provided locations, movement, and approximate capabilities of every unit using radio. In this scenario, the British – who had promised aid to “the Arabs” after the Suez debacle – were using their own extensive telecomm facilities on Cyprus to intercept both the Liberty‘s data dump and the digests going to the Pentagon, and passing all this onto Cairo. Learning about this, Tel Aviv had no choice but to act immediately and decisively.

      I mention this not to support this version of events – the whole book reads like an exercise in Mossad disinformation, and can be recommended only as an exercise in bullshit detection – but as a pedantic quibble against declarations such as “only possible motive.” In the funhouse-mirror world of geopolitical espionage, not-quite-impossible scenarios spring up like mushrooms in a wet summer cow pasture.

  19. says

    Richard,
    I took a little more time to write a second draft of my initial reaction to your text about Gaza, which alllowed me to correct a few typos.
    I’ve read several of your texts and listened to your lectures on Youtube with interest and admiration. So I could hardly believe my eyes when I read your text on Gaza. I’ll address only one passage. It would take pages to do justice to all of your text.
    “Of course, as we have long known, Israel originally claimed that it had been attacked by its neighbors in 1967, as justification for invading and attacking those neighboring nations. But eventually (very shortly after the war had ended) their claim unraveled and they were forced to admit that, yes, they struck first. They then started appealing to a “preemptive war” doctrine as their justification instead. (Remember when Bush did that barely ten years ago? History repeats itself).”
    This is utter nonsense.
    Israel never claimed that “it had been attacked by its neighbors in 1967.” Could you indicate your source, by the way ?
    What Israel did claim was that it was threatened. I will not attempt to provide even a brief summary of the tensions between Israel and its neighbors between 1949 and 1956 let alone of the Arab-Israel conflict, but here are the most important immediate reasons for Israel’s preemptive attack:
    –Nasser called for full mobilization on May 14, 1964.
    – On May 19 Nasser expelled the UN forces from Gaza and the Sinai peninsula. These forces had acted as a buffer between Egypt and Israel.
    – Nasser declared the Straits of Tiran closed to Israeli shipping four days later. Israel had warned that such a step would constitute a casus belli.
    – Throughout May and during the first days of June Arab leaders made violent radio attackis on Israel, including the prediction made by Ahmed Shukairy, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, on June 1: “Those who survive will remain in Palestine. I estimate that none of them will survive.”
    All this information is easily verifiable. Check the periodicals published in May and June 1967. So, Richard, can you defend your claim that “Israel originally claimed that it had been attacked by its neighbors” ? Would you again assert that Israel’s justification for a preemptive strike was bogus ?
    Richard, I am looking forward to your response.

    • says

      Wikipedia has all the account and references you need. Maybe you should actually check historical sources and not propaganda sites. Do research. Not just buy what you want to hear.

  20. adstanra says

    Richard —I consider you to be one of the best thinkers around. Just finished “on the historicity of Jesus”—should be a classic, well done.

    I agree that one must not always “trust” Israel as they have much motivation to do all sorts of unethical things ( perhaps similar to the British in both world wars to get American support). No doubt one must not be always trusting of Israel, like any state. your argument about the liberty seems sound.

    On the other hand, you have called Hamas “evil”. I assume based upon their reference group and previous actions. Based upon Bayesian thinking, who do you think is more responsible for the current violence in Gaza. No doubt both deserve some responsibility but I consider Hamas to be more responsible.

    • says

      That Hamas is evil does not mean Israel is good. Causation is not a monopole.

      And as I explicitly point out in this article, if your enemy engages in evil against you, that does not justify your becoming evil. That Al Qaeda saws off the heads of U.S. war prisoners does not justify the U.S. sawing off the heads of Al Qaeda war prisoners. That Al Qaeda topples civilian buildings killing thousands does not justify the U.S. topping civilian buildings killing thousands. That our enemies resort to torture does not justify our resorting to torture.

      And by the same token, that Hamas targets schools does not justify Israel targeting schools. That is not justification, and consequently Hamas cannot be blamed for that. If Israel chooses to become evil, they chose to do that. That’s on them. They could have prosecuted the war according to international standards of just war. They could have done it morally.

      Meanwhile, if you think causation works the way you propose, then it actually goes back to Israel: Hamas is only supported in Gaza because Israel blockades Gaza, preventing all trade and thus destroying the Gaza economy and leaving basic supplies in short demand, and some essential infrastructure supplies completely forbidden. For example, Gaza can’t rebuild bombed schools without concrete, but Israel has blockaded all attempts to deliver building supplies, on the argument that they will be used for evil purposes.

      Imagine if Libya did that to the U.S.: cut off all our trade routes for years on the argument that we only use what we buy to attack them, resulting in 50% unemployment and massive shortages of food and medicine and basic infrastructure supplies, even preventing us from fishing; you might be firing rockets with Hamas.

  21. dutchdelight says

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_fP6mlNSK8
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGOUXS7KPNI

    The point is hardly whether or not ordinance is stored/launched at civilian or UN infrastructure when – as you can see – “freedom fighters” are doing both right next door, and no UN personnel or anybody else is removing anything.

    Maybe you’ll agree your introductory paragraph is mostly an example of hyperskepticism when it comes to your insinuation that the IDF specifically targets civilian and UN infrastructure.

    • says

      By is not in.

      Check your propaganda.

      This is not WWI. Artillery can hit a building across the street from a shelter. So that a rocket is used across the street from a school cannot justify bombing the school.

      Moreover, are you admitting Israel bombs civilian shelters, schools, and hospitals?

      Because that’s what you must be saying. Since you are saying it is justified. You can’t have it both ways. Either it is not happening or it is. If it’s not happening, you don’t need to make excuses for it happening, right? So why are you making excuses for it happening? Really lame excuses?

  22. Slimy Man says

    If you ever get a chance, there is a book by Arthur Koestler called ‘The Thirteenth Tribe’. Well worth reading, as it explores the claim of modern-day Jews to the land of Israel. Not immediately relevant to the crisis in Gaza right now, but well worth a read (you being an historian).

    • says

      Dear Slimy Man, It was quite interesting to read your post. Indeed, Arthur Koestler’s book is used by anti-Israel polemicists to show that modern Jews have no connection with the land of Israel and therefore no claim to it. The New York Review of Books published a critical review decades back (when The 13th Tribe was published), but I unfortunately can’t find a link to the article, but if you’re a subscriber I believe you can access NYRB archives. In any case, The 13th Tribe has been largely discredited, and if you’re seriously interested in the subject I suggest that you start by checking out the Wiki article as it sums up Koestler’s thesis and the objections to it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thirteenth_Tribe I have reservations about the video you can find with this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXFUkvqnk9c because of the credit it gives to the Bible, but the video does present information about genetic studies that tend to disprove the Khazar theory.

    • cutelittlekitten says

      The thesis of “The Thirteenth Tribe” is totally exploded in the era of population genetics. Keep in mind that it only concerned Ashkenazi Jews, as well, while most Israeli Jews are Mizrahi.

      There’s no reason to resort to outdated ‘scholarship’ for these matters.

    • abcxyz says

      The Khazar origin hypothesis for Ashkenazi Jewry has been refuted by modern studies in the fields of genetics and linguistics. There’s almost no scholar today who believes in the Khazar origin hypothesis.

  23. says

    “Wikipedia has all the account and references you need. Maybe you should actually check historical sources and not propaganda sites. Do research. Not just buy what you want to hear.”
    Richard,
    Sorry, but Wikipedia bears out what I claimed !
    Check it out yourself !
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-Day_War
    Please answer my specific points:
    – Did Israel ever, ever once “claim it had been attacked first ” ?
    – Were there good reasons for Israelis to believe they were in danger in June 1967 (see my previous post…and Wikipedia….and any newspaper of the time !)
    – Yes or no, did the head of the PLO promise the demise of Israel ?
    – Did Nasser expel the UN troops from the Sinai peninsula and Gaza ?
    – Did Nasser block the straits of Tiran to Israel shipping ?
    Could you please answer these verifiable factual points ?
    I’m sorry, Richard, you should do a little research yourself.
    Tell me with a straight face that :
    -the Egyptians did not mass troops in the Sinai,
    – the Arab radios did not broadcast inflammatory speeches in May and June 1967,
    – Egypt did not block the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.
    Are all of these things inventions of Israeli propaganda ? Could it be you who “believes what you want to believe”, and won’t bother doing an hour’s Googling to check out the facts ?.

    • says

      Did you not notice what I said about the Wikipedia article?

      I’ll repeat it: “as one might expect, the Wikipedia entry combines true facts with fabrications of both the Israeli and American governments, to create something akin to a fundamentalist’s harmony of the Gospels).”

      I was not saying the Wikipedia article itself is reliable (it wholly isn’t). I was saying that if you check its sources, critically, the true picture of what to trust emerges. But you have to be an objective, logical thinker. Not dogmatically bent on believing only one side of the story.

      Had you done this, on the one issue of Israel originally claiming to be attacked, you would have followed the link here, read it, and then the sources cited there. It decisively shows Israel began by claiming to be responding to an attack. This is thoroughly documented. How do you not know this? Seriously. Ask yourself what is wrong with you, what you are doing wrong as a critical thinker, that prevented you from having found this out by now.

      That’s on you. If you refuse to check the facts critically, I can no longer help you.

  24. dutchdelight says

    Yes, i think if my neighboring state was lobbing missiles at my country, I’d feel justified when my military is firing back at the launch positions and the logistics chain that enables their operation. If my military learned of missiles stashed in a hospital i would also consider that a justified target. You can call it hospital and write it in caps all you want, at that point it becomes part of the war. I’d actually prefer that a neutral party removed and destroyed ordinance there in a reasonable timeframe given the civilians there, but either way, I’d feel justified in acting to prevent those weapons from being used against my country.

    What should i be taking away from the finnish reporter story exactly? It comes across as a non-sequitur, or possibly some baseless insinuation that i’m not aware of any other facts besides locations of launch sites, both equally disappointing attempts at arguments tbh.

    I have no knowledge of the actual weapons used by the IDF or any way to get a reliable idea about their accuracy under the circumstances. You seem pretty sure that you have both accounted for in your judgment, but i have no reason to believe you are privy to the inner workings of the IDF artillery units operating here.

    It seems pretty plausible that when you are selecting targets to shoot at from the list of detected launch sites, there will be mistakes, next to that you will also be selecting targets based on intel of varying quality. Add to that the occasional person having a mental breakdown.

    Any of those are more likely then the IDF purposefully firing at civilian infrastructure with no military significance. I regard the US military similarly, and from where i sit they have been in almost identical situations in other theaters around the globe. Just because you don’t see evidence of why something was targeted, doesn’t mean it wasn’t legitimately considered to be a target when the button was pushed.

    • says

      Try actually paying attention to the facts. No rockets were in any hospital.

      You are off the rails from that remark already. The rest of your screed is just no longer even addressing reality.

      Live in reality. Please. I beg you.

  25. mira says

    It’s stated in the article you said you read:
    The NSA’s deputy director, Louis Tordella, speculated in a recently declassified memo that the attack “might have been ordered by some senior commander on the Sinai Peninsula who wrongly suspected that the LIBERTY was monitoring his activities.”
    This is in fact the only possible motive, and it fits the timeline and sequence of events perfectly. Once you rule out accident (as all the evidence does), this is what remains. The only alternative with any plausibility was that Israel wanted to drag the U.S. into the war by claiming the Liberty was sunk by Egypt, which indeed may have been their intended cover story, but it is an extremely weak motive for mass murder. And it requires accepting as a coincidence that the Liberty was a signals intelligence ship.

    With respect, a single, vague line of speculation (in a 5500+ word count document) about one commander’s potential paranoia is the basis for your entire theory of motivation? That is a leap.

    My point: the actions themselves are damning enough. Why not just present the facts and let people speculate for themselves as to the motivation? Instead, the conclusions drawn about the motivation detract from your credibility because they lack evidence.

    • says

      That’s illogical. The motivation is itself evidence. That’s why “means, motive, and opportunity” are required elements of a crime in court. A prosecution must present a motive. Lack of which is grounds for reasonable doubt. And motive can be proved, and is routinely proved, by circumstantial evidence. Which in this case is in abundance.

  26. Bob de Jong says

    How probable is it that the attack on the USS Liberty was pre-meditated? Let me attempt to estimate using Bayesian Analysis. In order to have quantitative probabilities for this kind of situation, I’ll consider the attack to be either pre-meditated, or a case of ‘friendly fire’. For simplicity, we will call the US a ‘friend’ of Israel, although the US were neutral and not Israel’s ally in the 1967 war.

    According to Bayes’ Theorem (1):
    P(h|e.b) =

    P(h|b) x P(e|h.b)
    __________________________________
    [ P(h|b) x P(e|h.b) ] + [ P(~h|b) x P(e|~h.b) ]

    Where:
    P(h|e.b) is the probability that:
    – the attack was a premeditated (h)
    Given:
    – the specific evidence (e) and
    – our background knowledge (b)

    Lets’ go.
    – P(h|b) is the probability that the attack was premeditated (i.e. not friendly fire), using only background knowledge. Statistics on friendly fire in war situations show that casualties from friendly fire are usually in the range of 15 – 25 % of total casualties (2), say 20%. There was certainly cause for Israel to attack enemy ships: The Egyptian navy outnumbered Israel’s by more than five to one and could call on the support of some seventy Soviet vessels in the vicinity.
    The probability of the a premeditated attack (basis background info only) is 80%.

    – P(e|h.b): the probability that all the evidence we have would exist if the attack was
    premeditated and our background knowledge is true. What is the evidence? Richard refers for all evidence to the Chicago Tribune article in 2007 and the website of Liberty veterans.
    So let’s summarise the evidence (e):

    a) Chicago Tribune (3): The article mentions newly (2007) released documents from the NSA (4) 2 times and reports new interviews:
    1: to cite Liberty’s crewmen stating that the Liberty flew a US flag during the attack
    2: three recordings of Israeli communications made on June 8, 1967. None of the recordings is of the attack itself. These recordings are consistent with a ‘friendly fire’ incident.
    3: The Tribune refers to “Israeli military court of inquiry” without further details. I assume the Tribune refers to the ‘Ram Ron’ investigation of 16 June 1967 (6). This report is consistent with a friendly fire incident.

    b) Chicago Tribune (3) cites (interviewed in 2007) Liberty veterans and others who claim that they have seen NSA transcripts of Israeli communications, which – they claim – demonstrated that the Israeli knew the US identity of the liberty. These NSA transcripts are not available now and their existence is not acknowledged by any official organisation, US or Israeli.

    c) the veteran’s website (5):
    1: All contemporary (1967) documents cited by this website are consistent with a ‘friendly fire’ incident.

    According to the website, a number of Liberty veterans are convinced the attack was deliberate.
    Their main arguments are:
    2: The Liberty flew a US flag, and was hence clearly recognisable (same as Chicago Tribune)
    3: The fierceness and prolonged length of the attack.

    In sum about evidence:
    – all the available contemporary documents are consistent with a friendly fire incident.
    – the release of secret documents by the NSA and the IDF in 2007 paint a consistent picture of the 1967 events as a friendly fire incident.
    – the fierceness of the attack, nor the flying of the flag, are evidence for premeditation of the attack. Note that misidentification (i.c. absence of the flag) is the cause of only a minority of friendly fire incidents (2), there are more important causes..
    – The oral testimony (veterans, website) for a premeditated attack presume a US and Israeli conspiracy to cover up the release of transcripts of Israeli communications.
    It is unlikely that the US and Israel could execute such a wide ranging conspiracy to suppress evidence since the US and Israel were not allies in the 1967 war, and so much time (more than 40 years) has passed without any suppressed document emerging (while they were – allegedly – seen by a number of people around the world).

    P(e|h.b) is low, based on the above. The unlikely hood of a 40 year conspiracy leads me to a value between 1 and 5%. Let’s take 5%.

    P(~h|b) is the probability that the attack was a friendly fire incident, based solely on background knowledge. This is around 20 % (2).

    P(e|~h.b) is the probability that all the evidence we have would exist (or something comparable to it would exist) if the attack was a friendly fire incident, and all our background knowledge is still true. The statements by veterans and others are either done decades after the events and hence questionable, or irrelevant for the hypothesis (e.g. fierceness of the attack and flying of the flag); since all available documents are consistent with friendly fire, and friendly fire incidents are known to occur in war situations, this probability is very high, say 90%.

    This leads to a probability of 18% that the attack on the Liberty was premeditated. Of course, the factors used in Bayes’ Theorem have a confidence range, but even if you vary the numbers considerably, a premeditated attack remains far less likely than a friendly fire incident.

    I’m an amateur in the application of Bayes’ Theorem so if the Master shows mistakes in this analysis, then I’m ready to learn.

    All this takes nothing away from the tragic loss of the victims and the sorrow of their families; it is human nature to always look for causality in traumatic events, but it is not always to be found.

    (1): Richard C. Carrier, Ph.D., The Jesus Project Inaugural Conference, 2008
    (2): Who Goes There: Friend Or Foe? Friendly Fire Casualties, DIANE Publishing, Sep 1, 1993
    (3): http://www.chicagotribune.com/chi-liberty_tuesoct02-story.html#page=1
    (4): http://www.nsa.gov/
    (5): http://www.gtr5.com/evidence/warcrimes.pdf
    (6): http://www.libertyincident.com/docs/israeli/ram-ron-report.pdf

    • says

      You have done the math wrong. The consequent probabilities doom the result in the opposite direction. In short, you are ignoring a ton of evidence that is extremely improbable on the accident thesis. But exactly expected on the intentional thesis. Why you are doing that I cannot speculate (are you so delusional that you literally fail to perceive or notice that evidence? I listed a lot, and yet not even close to all of it).

      But like any logical syllogism (e.g. Kalam Cosmological Argument) if you put bullshit premises in, and leave all the inconvenient facts out, you get bullshit results.

    • Bob de Jong says

      My ‘math wrong’? I ran the numbers through your own Bayesian Calculator on the web [1] and again found 82% probability that the attack was a friendly fire incident.

      “ignoring a ton of evidence that is extremely improbable on the accident thesis”? Regrettably, you don’t give a single example of the evidence I ignored. So I’ll take some examples of the evidence you provided on your blog, and demonstrate that it is NOT improbable on the accident thesis (NB there are many other allegations on the web sites you refer to, but they give no evidence for any of them; grateful if you can give examples of that ‘other’ evidence):

      1): “the USS Liberty (armed only with a few fifty-calibre machineguns for repelling borders)…”
      In fact, these were heavy guns, in wide use against lightly armored vehicles and boats, light fortifications and low-flying aircraft. Much more useful than for just repelling borders. The Liberty fired 2 of these guns at the Israeli torpedo boats, before these torpedo boats had fired a single shot [2]. This reinforces the likelihood that the Israeli boats saw the Liberty as hostile (in combination with Liberty’s refusal to identify itself through light signals).

      2) “{the Liberty} was in the nearby Mediterranean when the Six Day War began”. The Liberty was west of Libya when the Six Day War began, which is hardly ‘nearby’ the war zone. The US never informed Israel that a US ship would be patrolling just miles outside the territorial waters of Israel and Egypt. Hence, Israel had no reason to expect a US ship just off the coast of the war zone.

      3) “recording all signals data (including all radio comms on all sides”. The Liberty had only Arab and Russian interpreters on board, no Hebrew communications were monitored. Furthermore, the ship was sailing too far to the south to be able to intercept the most relevant Israeli communications.
      Hence, that Israeli communications could be monitored was no motive for Israel to destroy the spy ship.

      4) “It was … flying the United States flag prominently.” Just look at the picture you posted yourself: can you identify the flag of the Liberty? Now imagine you are even much further away, flying at high speed……..It is entirely plausible that the Liberty’s flag was not seen or recognised by aircraft, and it happens more often. Just think of the Iraqi jet fighter mistakenly attacking the USS Stark in May 1987 (killing 37 servicemen and injuring 21), at the time when Iraq was a US ally.

      5) “the torpedo boat crews started machinegunning the men on the deck…as they were queuing to get into and launch their lifeboats. The Israeli boat crews also specifically machine gunned the lifeboats themselves, to prevent any of the crew from abandoning ship”. The sworn testimony of Liberty’s crewmen show that this did not happen: “We then filed out to our life rafts which were no longer with us because they had been strafed and most of them were burned, so we knocked most of them over the side… “[3]. So most life boats were already damaged and unusable before the torpedo boats arrived. The captain immediately recalled the order to abandon ship, before crew boarded the remaining lifeboats [2].

      6) “Israeli fighter jets … reported back that it was an American ship.” There is no evidence for this statement. The allegation is based on a conspiracy theory, in which both the US and Israel would have destroyed the communication logs that were allegedly seen by some US officials. It is also inconsistent with details of the attack itself: if the Israeli air force had planned to sink the US ship, why did it attack with weapons that are unsuited to sink ships? The Israeli planes fired machine guns and – allegedly – napalm, both weapons are utterly ineffective to sink war ships.

      7) “an Israeli helicopter supposedly sent to effect a rescue, just circled and returned to base”.
      In fact, the helicopters offered to help the Liberty, but its commander refused this help from Israel [4].

      8) “And then they [Israel] paid everyone they could, including the United States government, to cover it up.” If you are serious about this, then please show some evidence.

      [1]: http://www.richardcarrier.info/bayescalculator.html
      [2]: Sworn testimony before the U.S. Navy’s Court of Inquiry of Cdr. William L. McGonagle, June 14, 1967
      [3]: Sworn testimony before the U.S. Navy’s Court of Inquiry of Lt. Painter, June 14, 1967
      [4]: Sworn testimony before the U.S. Navy’s Court of Inquiry of Chief Communications Technician Harold J. Thompson

    • says

      My ‘math wrong’? I ran the numbers through your own Bayesian Calculator on the web [1] and again found 82% probability that the attack was a friendly fire incident.

      Garbage in, garbage out.

      The correct math entails accounting for the extreme improbability of the conjunction of evidence from multiple witnesses on your theory. You failed to input that. Consequently, you failed to get a mathematically valid result. In the equation, e + b constitute all information. If you leave information out, you are doing the math wrong. If information in b (our knowledge of the world) entails e is improbable, and you don’t account for that, you are doing the math wrong.

      You just repeat the error here, by listing only your biased selection of evidence, and leaving out all the actually damning evidence.

      I am not going to tutor you on this. If you can’t be bothered to even address the evidence, you are not a person with whom a rational conversation can be had.

  27. pick says

    Hello Richard,

    Thanks for posting this. I think the story of the Liberty needs to get out. Also the real story behind the 1947 Zionist invasion of Palestine that created this mess.
    Theres a great documentary on You Tube.
    At 32:20 in this film.
    Ambassador James Akins quotes the Secretary of State, George Boyle, (sp?) in 1967

    “The ultimate lesson of the Liberty attack had far more effect on policy in Israel than in America. Israels leaders concluded that nothing they might do would offend the Americans to the point of reprisal. If America’s leaders did not have the courage to punish Israel for the blatant murder of American citizens, it seemed clear that their American friends would let them get away with almost anything.”

    • says

      Can you please locate the URL of the YouTube video / documentary you are referring to? (Or at least give identifying information, e.g. title of the documentary and year of release.)

  28. Tom Horwat says

    I don’t know if anyone has made this point Richard, but lets say hypothetically that a Hamas fighter got over the border and got into a Jewish settlement house, took the family hostage, then proceeded to shoot at the neighbors, what are the chances that Israel would send in an air-strike to take out the Hamas fighter, thus killing him and all the occupants.. it is inconceivable the IDF would even consider that, the safe return of the occupants would be paramount. Yet they say they do everything to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza, that is total bullshit, for them, any innocent lives that are lost are simply collateral damage, and the stock reply is that it’s Hamas’s fault for using civilians as human shields. No western reporter has seen any evidence of this going on as far as I’m aware. It would appear 1 Jewish civilian life = 1000 Palestinian lives.

  29. says

    The trouble is that if Israel does not respond to threats in no uncertain terms, the Arabs wlll see it as weakness.

    The last time, the Jews did not fight back, and were almost exterminated.

    Now they fight.

    And they have nukes, so if they go down, they won’t be going down alone this time.

    Seriously, if Israel were militarily defeated you would see a Second Holocaust.

  30. Florian Blaschke says

    Letting violence escalate is not the solution, though. This response is excessive. Israel needs to show goodwill and stop treating all Arabs the same; they need to demonstrate that moderate Arabs, i. e., those who are willing to find a peaceful solution, are not their enemies. In short, they need to stop treating all Arabs like shit and keeping shooting themselves in the foot in the process. They need to make the first step. I can’t believe that you seem to argue that everything Israel does is 100% necessary and inevitable to ensure their own survival. That’s just mad. “TINA” is a staple of extremist propaganda, used to justify all kinds of evil.

    No, the Ashkenazi Jews are not Khazar Turks genetically. That’s bullshit. In fact, it seems it’s the other way round: Palestinian Arabs (save for the bedouins of the Negev) are genetically Jews (with very little Arabic admixture) who have become Muslim and Arab-speaking since the Islamic conquest. This hypothesis is promoted by Tsvi Mishinai in Israel and pretty much ignored by the wider public, but from Wikipedia I get the impression that it’s not actually controversial among experts – it’s what actual historians and scientists (outside Israel, that is) consider pretty much to be true and proven by genetic evidence.

    But this highlights the whole problem with Zionism: the biologism, the Blut-und-Boden-style view of history adopted from the völkisch movement in late 19th century/early 20th century Central Europe, the very movement that formed the soil on which the NSDAP grew. Zionists are obsessed with genes and undoing history just as much as the far right in Germany. European Jews going to Palestine and conquering it without regard for the people who actually live there is not one whit better than Germans going to Poland and conquering it just because 2000 (or 100) years ago Poland was settled by Germans or close relatives. Or Greeks conquering Turkey because “it used to be ours and the Turks stole it”. No, Turkey does not belong to the Greeks, not anymore; international law does not recognise claims that refer to events from centuries or millennia back. And that’s because, rightfully or not, there are other people there now and call the place home. If undoing history means violence, oppression and expulsion, it is obviously evil. It does not matter who does it. Irredentism is wrong. Zionists who act in this way are no better than Nazis and other extremists. There is no way to justify what Israel is doing.

    In the same way, of course, Israeli settlers in the West Bank can stay where they live now; I don’t want to pile up injustice. I’m just saying Palestinian Arabs being genetically Jews does not mean that they can be treated as Jews, and is not an argument against a two-state solution. (Just like Ashkenazi Jews being Khazars, even if it were true, has no bearing on the issue of whether they can claim Palestine: they never had that right anyway, but again, I don’t want to pile up injustice and I’m not saying Jews should leave what is now their home.) Nor is it, of course, an argument for forced conversion. People are not just the sum of their genes, and religion or nationality is not determined by genes, after all. You don’t need genes to justify basic humanity.

    Koestler’s thesis only has power because Israelis buy into the irredentist, biologist, racist bullshit their ancestors adopted from their enemies.

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