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Jul 29 2013

“The ‘peace process’ is whatever the US supports”

Via Juan Cole, I came across this clip from 1990 in which Noam Chomsky talks about how in the propaganda model, words have technical meanings in addition to their normal meanings. In the US media it is the technical meanings that are used because they provide justification for anything that the US government does. What Chomsky said then still holds up, including the examples he gives of this practice, especially as it pertains to the Middle East ‘peace process’ that is back in the news.

You can never have too much of Chomsky. He is always worth listening to but is it any wonder that he suffers from an almost total blackout in US media while third-rate minds can be easily found all over the place all the time talking nonsense?

As a side note, as I predicted, the story of the CIA agent Robert Seldon Lady has quickly disappeared from the US news pages. There seems to be little or no US media interest in following up the whereabouts of this fugitive from justice or how the US government is sheltering an actual convicted criminal from the Italian legal system. This must be because the technical meaning of ‘extradition’ means ‘those whom the US government wants returned to the US’.

47 comments

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  1. 1
    slc1

    I hope that Prof. Singham is sitting down when/if he reads this because I am going to say something positive about Noam Chomsky. Attached is a link to an interview Chomsky gave recently while in Beirut.

    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/113834/noam-chomsky-syria-civil-war-not-americas-fault

    Money excerpt:

    The fact of the matter is, that were the United States and Israel interested in bringing down the Syrian regime there is a whole package of measures they could take before they came to the arms-supply option. All these other options remain available, including, for example, America encouraging Israel to mobilize its forces along the northern border, a move that would not produce any objections from the international community and which would compel the regime to withdraw its forces from a number of frontline positions and relieve the pressure on the opposition. But this has not happened, nor will it, so long as America and Israel remain unwilling to bring down Assad regime.

    Interestingly enough, that’s exactly the position of at least 1 faction of the opposition in Syria. Chomsky doesn’t point this out but the US and Israel have tacitly supported the Assad regime for 40 years because it kept things quiet on the Golan Highths and they are reluctant to upset the applecart there. Given the uncertain makeup of a successor regime to the Assads, one doesn’t know if such a regime would maintain the same quietude. This is a strategy that certainly should have been considered by the US and Israel.

    However, it must be recognized that this game is not without potential peril. The result of such a strategy would be that one would have two large well armed forces facing each other separated by a narrow strip of land. This is inherently a potentially dangerous situation that could explode into full scale war in the event of some damn fool incident in the no-mans land between the forces (apologies to Otto von Bismarck who said sometime in the 1870s that the next European war would start over some damn fool incident in the Balkans; quite a prognosticator was the Iron Chancellor).

  2. 2
    Corvus illustris

    Perhaps “peace press” in the heading should read “peace process”, or am I projecting my nine-thumbs keyboard skills … ?

  3. 3
    Mano Singham

    Thanks for pointing it out. For some reason, typos in headers elude me more than the post.

  4. 4
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    You can never have too much of Chomsky. He is always worth listening to but ..

    Have you read about Chomsky writing an approving preface in a Holocaust deniers book? Did you read and enjoy that part of his writings, Mano?

  5. 5
    left0ver1under

    The only one guilty of historical revisionism is you, chump.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faurisson_affair

    Chomsky never gave permission for the misuse of his words.

  6. 6
    Jeffrey Johnson

    “is it any wonder that he suffers from an almost total blackout in US media while third-rate minds can be easily found all over the place all the time talking nonsense?”

    No, it isn’t any wonder. Chomsky is constantly challenging people’s assumptions and comfortable notions. In a way similar to the fairly consistent “strident atheist” error, it seems Chomsky is seen by many as rude, angry, and cranky, and thus probably not worth listening to. The fact the Chomsky doesn’t get more attention seems to me similar to the phenomenon that the vast majority of people spend several hours on the couch watching TV in their leisure time, rather than reading up on nuclear physics or macroeconomics or major works of philosophy. Most people simply don’t have the brain power to think about the kinds of questions Chomsky raises, nor do they have the desire to disrupt their cocoon-like zone of comfort by troubling themselves with problems that are beyond their control or power. Sadly, this reality about people’s limitations is why having a well functioning democracy is very difficult.

  7. 7
    slc1

    Re StevoR

    The wiki article linked to says that Chomsky signed a petition defending Faurrisson’s freedom of speech. Note that one of the other signers of that petition was none other then Engineering Prof. Arthur Butz of Northwestern, Un. Butz is a notorious Holocaust denier (for yuks, look at the Rate my Professor web site for evaluations of Butz as an instructor; pretty poor). This is the type of individual Chomsky associates with. When one gets into the pen with the pigs, one should not be surprised if one emerges with a coating of mud.

  8. 8
    Jeffrey Johnson

    In watching the Chomsky video embedded above, I was struck by the idea that he could be having a similar discussion about any human being, pointing out the inconsistencies between their ideals and their actual motives and behaviors.

    For example, nobody would be surprised to hear: “Uncle Tom has repeatedly claimed that his New Year’s resolution was to live healthier, and in pursuit of this goal that he would go on a diet, cutting out junk food and overeating, that he would also quit drinking and smoking. But only yesterday he ate a cheeseburger with bacon on it, washed it down with a beer, and had a cigarette afterward. Not only that, he always talks about the importance of protecting and defending the environment. Yet he still drives a mid-sized sedan that only gets 18 miles per gallon in the city, and he does not recycle every single plastic bottle from the orange juice he consumes. At best he only manages to recycle about half of them. And yet he will tell me with a straight face, and really believe it, indicating how totally he has deceived himself, that he cares a great deal about the environment.” And it could go on and on.

    We are all constantly bundles of contradictions, and it’s no wonder that institutions run by people have problems similar to those of people. None of this is to say that people, nations, or other institutions shouldn’t strive to always improve themselves, and to narrow the gap between their ideals and their real behavior. And it’s good that Chomsky helps to reveal the shortcomings. But there is a certain element of “dog bites man” to this story. To expect perfection is to expect too much, but still to encourage improvement is a good thing.

  9. 9
    Rob Grigjanis

    You associate with everyone who signs the same petition as you? Your social life must be very active, slc1 (unless you make a point of not signing petitions).

    Did Chomsky sign the petition before or after Butz? Oh wait. You don’t care.

  10. 10
    slc1

    No I don’t care. If Chomsky were at all concerned about being associated with Butz, he could have asked that his name be removed.

    Just as an example, Richard Dawkins signed a petition being circulated by British academics calling for a boycott of Israeli Universities. After he became aware of who some of his fellow signers were and cogitating on the issue, he asked that his name be removed.

  11. 11
    Jeffrey Johnson

    Just because two people signed the same petition, doesn’t mean they did so with the same motives, and it doesn’t mean that they are pigs mucking about in the same slop.

    Do you have any further evidence of association between Chomsky and Butz? Otherwise you are just using guilt by the most tenuous association to smear Chomsky with Butz’ sins.

    It may be that Butz would sign because he supports denial of the holocaust. On the other hand, it’s quite plausible that Chomsky signed because of his principled and consistent adherence to constitutionally guaranteed rights, rather than a conditional granting of rights only to his friends. The ACLU has defended Ku Klux Klan members in court, and it has nothing to do with the ACLU supporting Klan goals and actions. It is because of a committment to the idea that speech is not a crime. This doesn’t indicate a willingness to excuse people’s actual crimes. I’ve never heard any indication that Chomsky has ever advocated denial of the holocaust, which tends to undermine your insinuation here.

    At some level, this kind of guilt by association boils down to mere tribal loyalties, which is a far too frequent phenomenon in the arguments and debates surrounding the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. What I mean by that is the hair-trigger tendency for people to scream anti-Semitism whenever any opposition to Israeli policies in the West Bank is expressed, regardless of how many objective facts are offered in defense of such critiques.

    It seems to me that the very term “anti-Semitism” is in danger of becoming diluted by overuse and misuse, so that it could even lose its compelling moral power to defend Jews from real anti-Semites. Sometimes the people that criticize you are your well-meaning friends, and the people who whisper sweet things in your ear are your self-interested enemies.

    Do you have any serious accusation of holocaust denial against Chomsky? Because if not, you are engaging in the kind of hyperbolic use of Jewish suffering and persecution that we too often see reflexively wielded to shield Israel from honest scrutiny and criticism of Israel’s actions. And ironically, the formula that opposition to Israel’s actions is assumed to be synonymous with anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism bears a striking similarity to Chomsky’s discussion of the deceptive way in which American interests are treated as synonymous with peace and democracy.

    If I criticize American policies and actions, I’m not anti-American. The same is true regarding China, Iran, or even Israel.

  12. 12
    Rob Grigjanis

    So declaring whether something is right or wrong depends on who agrees with you?

  13. 13
    slc1

    It may be that Butz would sign because he supports denial of the holocaust. On the other hand, it’s quite plausible that Chomsky signed because of his principled and consistent adherence to constitutionally guaranteed rights, rather than a conditional granting of rights only to his friends.

    What the f*ck are you talking about. Faurisson is a Frenchman living in France and subject to French laws. He has no rights there as such guaranteed by the US Constitution. Now it’s perfectly legitimate to question the laws in France as regards free speech but that’s not what you are doing.

    As for association with Butz, all I can say is that if I signed a petition and later found out that someone like him had also signed it, I would be front and center in demanding that my name be removed. And if I had information that Butz was a signer, I would never have signed it in thefirst place.

    Guilt by association is not always illegitimate.

  14. 14
    Jeffrey Johnson

    In case you thought a frantic tone and an epithet might distract me from the fact that you’ve come up with no real evidence of Chomsky being a holocaust denier, you’re wrong.

    Guilt by association, especially when the association is limited to two different people putting their names on a petition, is extremely weak, so weak as to be easily disregarded.

    There is no reason a person can not support universal human rights for free expression, whether it is for people living in France, Somalia or the United States.

    Your response here is nothing but distraction from the real question: do you have even the tiniest shred of evidence that Chomsky is a holocaust denier, or is even sympathetic with holocaust deniers, beyond giving them merely the basic rights that any human being is granted in the Declaration of Independence or the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

  15. 15
    Corvus illustris

    Chomsky has a tendency–not just in this video, but in his writing also–to point out something important that has been unobserved (or neglected or suppressed) and then beat it to death with examples, This is just a defect of his virtues, but it contributes to the “dog bites man” effect.

  16. 16
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Really, left0ver1under? From the wikipedia page you linked :

    Chomsky granted permission for the essay to be used for any purpose. Serge Thion then used it as a preface when publishing a book by Faurisson, without Chomsky’s knowledge.[9] Later Chomsky requested that the essay not be used in this manner, since he believed the French intellectual community was so incapable of understanding freedom of speech that it would only confuse them further, but his request came too late for the book to be changed.[9] Chomsky subsequently said that asking for the preface to be removed is his one regret in the matter.[9]

    Emphasis – bold and italics – added.

    Seems then that Chomsky retracted his retraction and insulted the intelligence of the French people into the bargain.

    So, what did Noam Chomksy himself actually write? His words were :

    Let me add a final remark about Faurisson’s alleged “anti-Semitism.” Note first that even if Faurisson were to be a rabid anti-Semite and fanatic pro-Nazi … (snip -ed) … is it true that Faurisson is an anti-Semite or a neo-Nazi? As noted earlier, I do not know his work very well. But from what I have read — largely as a result of the nature of the attacks on him — I find no evidence to support either conclusion. Nor do I find credible evidence in the material that I have read concerning him, either in the public record or in private correspondence. As far as I can determine, he is a relatively apolitical liberal of some sort.

    Again emphasis added. Note the scare quotes around anti-Semitism.

    And who is this Robert Faurisson? Faurisson according to that same wikipedia article is a Holocaust Denier – convicted of racial hatred under French law – apparently with links to neo-nazi groups.

    That’s why I consider Chomsky to be an anti-Semite or at least an enabler of anti-Semitism and consider his credibility, minimal. That’s why I for one will boycott his works and hold him in contempt.

    Thanks for that very enlightening and informative link though, left0ver1under, and for, well, blowing up your own case there I guess!

  17. 17
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Thanks for that extra info slc1

  18. 18
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    So I take it from this :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/singham/2013/07/30/a-refresher-in-basic-logic/

    That your answer is no and you object to this approach. But you did say, “Chomsky. He is always worth listening to.” Emphasis added.

    Mano Singham, I like your blog and you but I’d really would like to know in more detail your opinion of Chomsky’s support for that notorious anti-Semite neo-nazi Holocaust Denier and how you think it affects Chomsky’s credibility because it seems like terribly poor judgement to me. In fact for me, it totally destroys Chomsky’s credibility on any issues where Jewish people are involved and I refuse to read or view Chomsky’s work as a result of it.

    Sorry if this seems illogical or offensive to you, I’m certainly not claiming to be any sort of genius here but .. well, there’s a pretty big difference I think between noting someone belongs to say Christianity and that colours their worldview (big deal!) versus someone actually supporting and arguing for Holocaust deniers which, yeah, actually does reflect very poorly upon them.

  19. 19
    Jeffrey Johnson

    Here is Chomsky’s defense of his position, in his own words, from the same article you quote. At least let Dr. Chomsky speak for himself:

    A professor of French literature was suspended from teaching on grounds that he could not be protected from violence, after privately printing pamphlets questioning the existence of gas chambers. He was then brought to trial for “falsification of History,” and later condemned for this crime, the first time that a modern Western state openly affirmed the Stalinist-Nazi doctrine that the state will determine historical truth and punish deviation from it. Later he was beaten practically to death by Jewish terrorists. As of now, the European and other intellectuals have not expressed any opposition to these scandals; rather, they have sought to disguise their profound commitment to Stalinist-Nazi doctrine by following the same models, trying to divert attention with a flood of outrageous lies.

    I’m not sure why you would impute motives of anti-Semitism to Chomsky without actually giving fair consideration of Chomsky’s consistent record of being adamantly opposed to abuse of power in any form and for any purpose.

    I think it really doesn’t matter in the slightest to Chomsky’s point if Faurisson’s book were entirely false or not. What matters is the dangerous precedent of state power being marshaled for the purpose of policing what is and is not historical truth. People are mostly pretty good at figuring things out if they are given access to all the available information. Public debate and dialog are the way these questions are best resolved.

    I see no trace of support for the idea of holocaust denial in anything Chomsky has ever said or written. There remains no evidence whatsoever, in anything that you or anyone else has presented here, or anywhere that I’ve ever seen in any of his speeches or writings, that suggests Chomsky, himself Jewish, is anti-Semitic or supports the claims of holocaust deniers. He offers a pretty clear description of his reasons, which haven’t got anything to do with anti-Semitism, and which you for some reason chose to entirely overlook.

    What I see at work regarding Chomsky and the right-wing passionate Israel hawks is more likely anger at a fellow Jew, someone with position, fame, and influence, who refuses to condemn Palestinian claims of rights to land and political self-determination, and refuses to engage in emotional tribalism to uncritically support every burp and fart of the State of Israel. In fact Chomsky goes further, because I believe he is even anti-Zionist. Apparently it is dangerous to the cause of Israel to allow an esteemed intellectual to espouse the view that one can in principle, backed with rational arguments, be an anti-Zionist, be a Jew, and not be an anti-Semite. That simple fact would undermine Israeli state propaganda.

    I’m not an anti-Zionist, but I see a great deal to criticize the actions of Jewish settlers in the West Bank and the state of Israel’s oppressive militaristic and lethal defense of those settlers. Note that I do not blame Jews or Israelis for this, I blame a political faction and groups of religious zealots within Israel. One can reasonably support the idea of a Jewish homeland within pre-1967 borders and not be anti-Zionist, though the right-wing ideological purity that is taking over in this country seems hell bent on stamping out such a possibility. There are many flavors of Zionism, and the most repugnant flavor is Revisionist Zionism, which is primary in the ideological foundation of the Likud party.

    As I see it, the Jewish settlers are largely, but not exclusively, motivated by dogmatic scriptural beliefs that give them a sense of entitlement to land that they have no rights to under the same international law that granted Israel the enormous gift of land and statehood in 1947. If they reject this law, perhaps they should also reject the original creation of the state of Israel, or else they are merely being hypocritical. These settlers, by pushing a Greater Israel policy, are jeopardizing the state of Israel more than any other group on the planet, and I include Hamas in that. Hamas may have the intention to destroy Israel, but they actually create sympathy for Israel while not being an existential threat militarily. The settlers on the other hand create massive hostility toward Israel around the world, and their goals, if accomplished, truly are an existential threat to Israel. Suppose Israel were to annex the entire West Bank tomorrow and declare it permanently a part of the sovereign nation of Israel. What then? Either Israel is no longer a Jewish majority nation, or they need to enforce second class citizenship for Palestinians, or they need to do something worse. Whatever the outcome of such a move, it clearly puts both the democratic and the Jewish nature of Israel under threat, and would invite greater hostility toward Israel for using force to expand its legal territory. Who could want such an outcome for Israel? Apparently only anti-Semites could want to endanger Israel in such a way. Who is a bigger threat to Israel, Faurisson or the some 300,000 West Bank settlers?

  20. 20
    Mano Singham

    In the film Manufacturing Consent he explains why he does this. He says that if you say anything that conforms to elite opinion, you are under no obligation to provide any evidence. It is taken as a given.

    But if you challenge conventional wisdom, it becomes necessary to provide lots of evidence because most people, conditioned as they are to mainstream news, are surprised and even shocked by what you say and will not believe it unless you back it up. So he goes for the overkill, which can be a little tedious for those more aware.

  21. 21
    steffp

    Well, guilt by association was mended out of most judicial processes in developed countries two hundred years ago. Why is it still used to kill the reputation of Noam Chomsky – which is based on decades of influential publishing and analysis? No better argument than silencing him as “antisemitism enabler”?
    Chomsky has made it very clear that he is against the Loi Gayssot , which, among other regulations, makes it an offense in France to deny the Shoa.
    .
    His argument was that the law criminalizes an opinion, thus infringing on the rights of free speech – which, as a surprise for some provincial US-posters, French people have since August 1789 (article 11 of the declaration of human rights). His argument was that, if there is a controversy about the historicity of a fact, a government or parliament is the least qualified party to decide which side is right. It’s a bit like the awkward Indiana Pi Bill. A scientific question can’t be decided by a state. A later attempt of the French Government to make it an offense to deny another, the Armenian Genocide, too, was declared invalid by French Constitutional Court. Different lobbies…
    .
    What has become of the proud “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”? OK, it’s not Voltaire but his biographer who said it, but nevertheless?
    If you defend elementary human rights, you may encounter strange bedfellows. Human rights are for all, both heroes and villains, and both need them. The publications of the KKK – unless they contain offenses like incitement to riot and such – are legal under the 1st amendment. The ACLU defends Christian fundamentalists all the time, if their 1st Amendment rights are infringed upon. Will StevoR and slc 1 now abstain from reading any ACLU publications?
    .
    (Actually, I’m not sure)

  22. 22
    slc1

    I would point out that Holocaust denial is also a criminal offense in Germany and Austria. Given the history, this is entirely understandable. It is not a criminal offense in the US or even a firing offense (e.g. Arthur Butz). I don’t know about Canada.

    Now Chomsky could have protested the law against Holocaust denial in France (as Ed Brayton has done on numerous occasions on his blog) without signing petitions and writing a preface to Faurisson’s book. There is no need to get down into the pen with the pigs and emerge with a coating of mud. He could have written an essay stating his reasons for opposing the French (and German and Austrian) laws without even mentioning Faurisson, just as Brayton has done on his blog on several occasions.

    Just for the record, I would oppose the passage of such a law in the US, which would be unconstitutional anyway.

  23. 23
    Jeffrey Johnson

    Chomsky did protest the law, and he did so by writing an open public letter outlining his opposition to the treatment of Faurisson, and the consequences he suffered under this law.

    That Faurisson chose to take this letter, not penned by Chomsky as a preface to any book, and put it in his book was beyond Chomsky’s control, a step taken without Chomsky’s permission. In fact Chomsky tried to have it withdrawn before publishing but he was too late.

    So it is completely inaccurate to say that he did not protest the law, and that he wrote a preface for Faurisson’s book, even though something written by Chomsky for other reasons appeared in the book.

    That he received so much criticism and slander, that people failed to overcome their primal emotions about the holocause, emotions that are understandable and natural given the horror involved, nonetheless emotions that clouded people’s view of Chomsky and his motives, was frustrating and angering to him. For this reason he expressed later regret that he had allowed himself to become intimidated by the uproar of a mob, and attempted to withdraw the preface.

    I can’t help but think that this attitude toward Chomsky is really hostility because Chomsky is very critical of the government of Israel, just as he is critical of the government of the United States. Chomsky consistently criticizes power that subjugates and oppresses those without power, wherever he sees it, and regardless of who perpetrates it and who the victims are. This is why it is so totally absurd to even consider the idea that Chomsky would be sympathetic to holocaust denial.

    At the risk of appearing insensitive to the long suffering of the Jewish people, and the importance of having a Jewish nation, a homeland, a refuge and safe harbor in this world, which I am not in the least insensitive to, I can’t help but see signs here of the hyper-aggressive use of the term anti-Semitism that has become so prevalent today as a shield to deflect any and all criticism of the actions and policies of the government of Israel. I can’t help but think of the uproar of outrage, and the large supporting chorus in the media of feigned outrage, when President Obama mentioned “daylight between the US and Israel”, and when in a speech completely consistent with US policy toward Israel for four decades he mentioned the phrase “pre-1967 borders with land swaps”. I’m reminded of a US political party staging political events involving the prime minister of Israel and calculated to politically damage the President. The pattern that dominates American politics is that even the slightest hint that the United States is an independent nation that should persue its own interests, and not have its policies dictated by Israel, is met with similar slanderous character assassination in the media. In fact one editor of a Jewish newspaper in Atlanta even suggested that the Mossad ought to assassinate President Obama. (Hello NSA, no I’m not advocating that, I’m criticizing it.)

    None of this is to say that the United States should not remain committed to the support of the ongoing vitality and thriving of the state of Israel and the Jewish people. It is to say that sometimes the United States can differ from Israel in foreign policy decisions without existentialy threatening Israel, which is in fact an unchallenged military powerhouse in the region. The slavish devotion to Israel that members of the US government must demonstrate in order to stay in office (whether they feel it or not) has become shameful and embarrassing. And as far as I can see Israel is becoming something worse than the socialist democracy it once was, it is becoming a right-wing theocracy. So we are aiding and abetting the degeneration of Israel into something terrible. Friends sometimes need to tell friends when they are making mistakes. In fact some of this failure to push back on Israel led to the animosity fueling terrorist actions against the US. I’m not saying that because we were attacked we should abandon Israel, which would be foolish and cowardly. I’m saying that the US Interest in promoting peace in the world, and peace in particular with the world of Islam, depends on showing some tough love and dragging our friend Israel, who occasionally seems to treat us with such arrogant disregard that it strains the bonds of friendship, to a peace agreement that, left to their own devices, might never materialize. And in supporting and advocating a firm approach toward Israel, one that places our friendship side by side with a recognition of the humanity and the rights of the Palestinians, a people deserving of economic and political freedom, autonomy, and self-determination, an approach that indeed places some daylight between the US and Israel, but in no way compromises the comittment to the health and thriving of Israel, I am not in the least being anti-Semitic. I’m trying to help Israel.

  24. 24
    slc1

    Mr. Johnson seems to be a well meaning person who, unfortunately, is rather naive about the Israel/Palestinian issue. I have a flash for you Mr. Johnson. The reason why there has not been a resolution of that conflict is because of the Palestinian demand that Palestinians living in refugee camps be resettled in what is now Israel. There is no way that the Government of Israel will agree to any such thing, which is tantamount to demanding that that government agree to go out of business. This demand has scuttled all previous attempts at a settlement and will inevitably scuttle the current Kerry initiated “negotiations”. Until the Palestinians drop this demand, there is not the slightest chance of a settlement. The fact is that the Abbas “government” is far too weak to even consider dropping this demand, aside from questions as to its legitimacy.

    As Jeffrey Goldberg, among others, has pointed out on numerous occasions, the quaint belief held by the Kerrys and the Indyks of the world that a settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian is essential for Middle East peace is piffle. As I have stated on numerous occasions, if Messrs Netanyahu, Abbas, and Haniyeh signed a peace treaty tomorrow morning, it would not have the slightest effect on the ongoing situations in Egypt, Syria, and, apparently, Iraq.

  25. 25
    slc1

    And in supporting and advocating a firm approach toward Israel, one that places our friendship side by side with a recognition of the humanity and the rights of the Palestinians, a people deserving of economic and political freedom, autonomy, and self-determination, an approach that indeed places some daylight between the US and Israel, but in no way compromises the commitment to the health and thriving of Israel, I am not in the least being anti-Semitic. I’m trying to help Israel.

    This is rather similar to the line propagated by Stephen Walt, who proclaims that he is really the best friend that Israel has in the US and they he’s only trying to save Israel from the predations of the Likud party.

  26. 26
    Jeffrey Johnson

    I agree that right of return is one of the areas where there ought to be compromise, and it should come in the form of generous compensation by Israel of those who have been ousted from their land. Israel has this problem because if its actions in the past (no I’m not blaming Israel for the 1948 war, but for preventing refugees from returning to their homes immediately after the war, and the intentional campaign of terror waged by the Irgun and the Stern gang). Israel has this problem as a cost of the benefits it received in the past, being the beneficiary of 78% of the land in Palestine and of waves of talented immigration from Europe and the US and other parts of the world that has spurred it to a remarkeable prosperity for that region, has an obligation to be the one to settle that morally just demand of right-of-return with a morally just payment for the lands it acquired due to the losses of others. I hate the way pro-Israel propaganda tries to use the economic disparities between Isralis and Palestinians as a justification for arguing that the Palestinians are inferior and undeserving. I see these economic disparities as placing a greater moral burden on Israel, to honor the spirit of Tikkun Olan, and to not commit the Sin of Sodom.

    What has caused suffering to Palestinians has come in the form of a huge beneficial gift from the International community to Israel, and Israel simply doesn’t seem to be appreciative enough of this gift, in my estimation.

    Regardless of the effect a peace agreement on Egypt, Syria, Iraq, or Iran, or any other part of the Islamic world, it’s value to millions of Palestinians directly affected by this unholy standoff would be incalculable. And I suspect you are entirely underestimating the long term value of such an agreement in reducing the hostility toward Israel. But regardless of the overall strategic impact, the simple transformation and enhancement of lives, the future opportunity and freedom for millions of people, is reason enough all on its own to end this charade that Israel includes Judea and Samaria. That is the Torah, which is no guide to modern national boundaries.

    Of course it won’t settle sectarian problems between Sunni and Shia, and it won’t transform Islamic cultures that are hosts to primitive tribal cultures, but it will be a huge step in the right direction that must be taken, or Israel places its own future in jeopardy. What would Israel do with all of those people if it annexed Judea and Samaria? If they are Israelis, the Jewish character of Israel is endangered, and if they are second class citizens the democratic of Israel are damaged beyond recognition. And any other solution, such as deporting them all to Jordan, which I have heard defenders of Israel shamelessly propose, is just a step away from even worse crimes against humanity. So how does Israel propose to proceed? Trying to sustain the current injustices against the Palestinians, or doubling down on the injustices, or making the moral choices to right the imbalances triggered at and immediately after the founding of Israel?

  27. 27
    Jeffrey Johnson

    I would call it the stupididy and blindness of the Likud party.

  28. 28
    slc1

    Re Jeffrey Johnson

    I agree that right of return is one of the areas where there ought to be compromise, and it should come in the form of generous compensation by Israel of those who have been ousted from their land. Israel has this problem because if its actions in the past (no I’m not blaming Israel for the 1948 war, but for preventing refugees from returning to their homes immediately after the war, and the intentional campaign of terror waged by the Irgun and the Stern gang).

    This is all very well but it omits a rather serious issue, namely, what about compensation for the Jews who were, shall we say, encouraged to leave countries like Iraq, Iran, Algeria, Morocco, etc.? Somehow, in discussing the Palestinian refugees, these folks seem to be unpersons.

    The problem with the compensation proposals is that the Palestinians, or at least their leadership, has rejected all such proposals. Their position is, resettlement in Israel or no deal.

    Now as to the fact that Israel ended up with a greater fraction of Palestine then they were allotted by the UN resolution, that’s the result of the Arab side losing the 1948 war. Don’t think so, just ask Germany which lost East Prussia and Pomerania after WW 2 or Mexico which lost the current New Mexico and Arizona after the 1846 US/Mexican war. It’s called winners keepers, losers weepers.

  29. 29
    Jeffrey Johnson

    This is all very well but it omits a rather serious issue, namely, what about compensation for the Jews who were, shall we say, encouraged to leave countries like Iraq, Iran, Algeria, Morocco, etc.? Somehow, in discussing the Palestinian refugees, these folks seem to be unpersons.

    It isn’t legitimate to hold Palestinians responsible for all the Jewish suffering of the past. Israel can take these issues up seperately with those countries, and they would have a better chance of even being listened to after addressing the Palestinian problem. It’s not constructive to engage in a tit-for-tat between all Jews and all Muslims over all time. How about just constructively focusing on the issues with Palestinians, whose troubles were created together with the creation of Israel?

    The problem with the compensation proposals is that the Palestinians, or at least their leadership, has rejected all such proposals. Their position is, resettlement in Israel or no deal.

    I think Palestinians would have to accept the right level of compensation and a compromise on the shared status of Jerusalem, which has been the item Israel has been unwilling to compromise on.

    Now as to the fact that Israel ended up with a greater fraction of Palestine then they were allotted by the UN resolution, that’s the result of the Arab side losing the 1948 war.

    Actually, the UN partition awarded around 57% to Israel. You are correct that additional territory has been gained in wars started by Arabs. I wasn’t saying Israel should give up this land. They need to give up the remaining 22% they took in 1967. The means by which Israel obtained the land doesn’t change the argument about Israel’s extra burden of responsibility because of its enormous military and economic advantage.

    It’s called winners keepers, losers weepers.

    This seems to perfectly capture the bullying belligerent attitude that is common of Israel and its most ardent supporters. Won’t 78%, regardless of how it is won, satisfy Israeli ambition? Or is there no limit to how far Israel intends to push this bullying might-makes-right attitude to expand in the middle east? Given such an attitude, who could wonder that Israel has lots of enemies in the region?

    If Israel could stop this madness and say “enough, we can live with 78%”, and recognize the injustice and suffering of the Palestinians (who should not be blamed en masse for Hamas), it could take a bold step to begin unraveling this knot that was tied when people who had lived for centuries on land under Ottoman and then British rule were displaced by the creation of a new Jewish state by a process completely out of their control. It takes a failure of moral imagination to not see how the same event, the 1947 partition, could be a disaster for a tribal culture long inhabiting a region, while at the same time being a cause for joy and celebration for the people newly migrating from Europe and the Americas wanting to establish a new culture. It somewhat resembles the migration of Europeans displacing the Native Americans in North America. Israel should stop endlessly playing the holocaust card, the anti-Semitism card, and the terrorism card, and recognize that the creation of its state had huge costs that haven’t been paid, and that today Israel has the power, the wealth, and the stability to repay some of the costs associated with its national birth. A failure to recognize and correct this situation on the part of Israel seems like hubris, the kind that can prove to be its undoing in some distant future.

  30. 30
    colnago80

    It isn’t legitimate to hold Palestinians responsible for all the Jewish suffering of the past. Israel can take these issues up seperately with those countries, and they would have a better chance of even being listened to after addressing the Palestinian problem. It’s not constructive to engage in a tit-for-tat between all Jews and all Muslims over all time. How about just constructively focusing on the issues with Palestinians, whose troubles were created together with the creation of Israel?

    Excuse me, these events, 800,000 Palestinians becoming refugees and a similar number of Jews being given the heave ho from various Muslim countries were contemporaneous events and were due to the same event, namely the 1948 Arab/Israeli war. I think it is absolutely legitimate to link those two events and make the same demands on the Arabs that they make on Israel.

    This seems to perfectly capture the bullying belligerent attitude that is common of Israel and its most ardent supporters. Won’t 78%, regardless of how it is won, satisfy Israeli ambition?

    Ah gee, wasn’t it bullying when the US took all of Mexico north of the Rio Grande away and incorporated it into the states of Arizona and New Mexico? Wasn’t it bullying when the allies took Eastern Silesia and Pomerania away from Germany after WW 2 and gave it to Poland? In addition taking the old Prussian capital Koenigsberg away from Germany and giving it to Russia?

  31. 31
    steffp

    “just ask Germany which lost East Prussia and Pomerania after WW 2 (…). It’s called winners keepers, losers weepers.”
    But, strange enough, for 68 years there were no Polish “incursions” into Germany, no rockets, no death squads, no blown up houses, no explosive vests. Because both sides, even during cold war, believed in peaceful measures, and compensation of done injustice. Today both countries are part of the European Union, and hundreds of thousands of Polish people live and work peacefully in Germany…
    But all this could only be reached because the German Government compensated the refugees from Silesia and Pomerania, thus exempting private claims directed at the Polish side. There were mutual excuses, too, and a chancellor kneeling down in Warsaw.
    I don’t see any mutuality in the Middle East, only righteousness and mythical historical claims. And a kind of militarized “might makes right” mindset that is rather disturbing.
    It were fascinating, if it wasn’t such a shame, to see 60 odd years of military action against multiple civilian uprisings described as a successful, as the only viable strategy…

  32. 32
    slc1

    But, strange enough, for 68 years there were no Polish “incursions” into Germany, no rockets, no death squads, no blown up houses, no explosive vests.

    That’s because the Germans weren’t sending homicide bombers into Warsaw to blog up pizza parlors. Having had the crap beat out of them in WW 2, (having dodged the nuclear bullet because Frankenberger’s incompetence led to the loss of the war rather earlier then would have occurred if he had shown some competence and listened to Gudarian, Rommel, and von Rundstedt) they had no stomach for starting trouble. It’s quite interesting the rather peaceable nature of both Germany and Japan after taking their beatings.

  33. 33
    Jeffrey Johnson

    Excuse me, these events, 800,000 Palestinians becoming refugees and a similar number of Jews being given the heave ho from various Muslim countries were contemporaneous events and were due to the same event, namely the 1948 Arab/Israeli war. I think it is absolutely legitimate to link those two events and make the same demands on the Arabs that they make on Israel.

    By contemporaneous events, do you mean they occurred simultaneously and independently? If they were independent events, then they can be resolved independently and the Palestinians should not be blamed. If they were independent events, then Israelis, Iraqis, Egyptians, and others are equally to blame and its a wash.

    If on the other hand they weren’t simultaneous and independent events, then one even led to another. So what’s your view of history: did Arab countries suddenly decide to expel Jews after centuries without provocation, and Jews retaliated by expelling Muslims from the new state of Israel, or was it the other way around?

    Ah gee, wasn’t it bullying when the US took all of Mexico north of the Rio Grande away and incorporated it into the states of Arizona and New Mexico? Wasn’t it bullying when the allies took Eastern Silesia and Pomerania away from Germany after WW 2 and gave it to Poland? In addition taking the old Prussian capital Koenigsberg away from Germany and giving it to Russia?

    Bullies always try to justify their bullying by citing other instances of bullying. There is nothing new here, and it’s an invitation to meet bullying with force.

    If your conscious goal in advance is to never make peace, but to continue fighting until you have absolutely demoralized, deported, killed, or otherwise dispersed with an annoying population so you can realize romanticized dreams based on special status confered to to the chosen race of God, and to fulfill the ancient lore of the destiny of Jewish blood, then your program resembles that of other bullies quite closely, including that of Germany.

    And if ideology and religion means that peace isn’t even to be considered, you can continue to invent justifications forever by comparing your bad behavior to the bad behavior of others. This doesn’t really justify anything; it just turns a country into a dark stain on history and a perpetual enemy of all good people everywhere until they can be vanquished.

    I prefer not to think of Israel that way. I would like to think that it can find a way to stop fighting and pay some of the costs incurred by its messy birth. I like the idea of a democratic, non-theocratic, progressive Israel, not a belligerent right-wing militarized empire at perpetual war with its neighbors.

  34. 34
    Jeffrey Johnson

    I don’t support terrorist bombers, and I think Palestinians would have been more successful with a non-violent protest movement. They definitely undermined their own interests by taking that foolish approach. But I certainly can see that these bombings did not just occur for no reason and without provocation.

    And I’ve lost count, but at one point not too many years back the number of Palestinians killed by Israelis was somewhere between 10-20 times the number of Israelis that have been killed by Palestinians. It’s what you call asymmetric warfare, and Israel is not the downtrodden victim in this conflict, though they love to pretend that’s the case, because suicide bombers in pizza parlors. But killing is killing, and even if you subtract Palestinians who could have been classified as legitimate military targets, as opposed to innocent civilians like the clientelle of a pizza parlor, Israel is still way ahead of Palestinians in the killing department.

    There is plenty of misery, suffering, and blame on all sides here. For anyone to pretend that either side is the innocent victim is absolutely ludicrous. What I have seen is the incredible situation where Israel and its supporters are becoming increasingly emboldened and unashamed to talk about a shameful ultimate solution to the problem called Greater Israel. And I’ve seen the PLA on the West Bank making extraordinary efforts to cooperate with the IDF on anti-terror security operations and receiving no credit for it, while the belligerently stupid Hamas dominates in Gaza. And what did Israel do? They pulled out of Gaza, rewarding bad behavior while continuing to punish good behavior in the West Bank. What does that tell you? It says to me that the current direction of the Israeli government is to hang on to the West Bank forever, which makes Israel an enemy of all decent people forever. Israel would be much wiser to make peace. It’s their only hope for the future.

  35. 35
    slc1

    They were dependent in that the Jews who were encouraged to leave the Muslim countries were so encouraged because of Arab and Muslim dismay over losing the 1948 war.

    By the way, there are over 1 million Arabs currently living in Israel so that they are pretty incompetent ethnic cleansers compared to Iraq et al. In fact, the Government of Syria is doing a pretty good job of ethnically cleansing Sunni Muslims from the areas in Syria that have a large Alawite population. Maybe Bibi should take a page out of the Assads pere and fils playbooks and really give ole Jeffrey something to whine about.

  36. 36
    slc1

    You know, if the Government of Israel behaved like the Assads pere and fils behave in Syria, ole Jeffrey would really have something to whine about. Several months ago, a Knesset member from one of the Arab parties, Hanan Zoabi, was before the Israel Supreme Court complaining that she was being oppressed because some of her privileges were suspended. There was an article in the Ynetnews web site about it. One of the talkbacks came from someone in Syria who suggested that she consider relocating to Damascus where she would find out what oppression really was.

  37. 37
    Jeffrey Johnson

    This is ridiculous. Totally irrelevent to the arguments I made for why Israel should stop its West Bank occupation and compromise on peace. This is mere distraction that justifies nothing Israel is doing.

  38. 38
    Jeffrey Johnson

    They were dependent in that the Jews who were encouraged to leave the Muslim countries were so encouraged because of Arab and Muslim dismay over losing the 1948 war.

    Right. So the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries was in response to the loss of tribal autonomy in over 70% of Palestine, mostly because the UN gave it away, and additionally because they failed to win it back in a war, plus the forcible expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, plus terrorist attacks on innocent civilians in villages around Jerusalem, and mortar attacks on Arab neighborhoods in Jaffa and the Galilee. Nothing to get too angry about. After all, it was a glorious celebration for Zionism, the birth of Israel. Why didn’t the Arabs get it? Try using your imagination. Try reversing the situation and imagine if Israel has lost the same amount of Jewish land to a new Arab nation.

    By the way, there are over 1 million Arabs currently living in Israel so that they are pretty incompetent ethnic cleansers compared to Iraq et al. In fact, the Government of Syria is doing a pretty good job of ethnically cleansing Sunni Muslims from the areas in Syria that have a large Alawite population. Maybe Bibi should take a page out of the Assads pere and fils playbooks and really give ole Jeffrey something to whine about.

    Israel compared to Iraq or Syria is irrelevant. Like I said, it’s a common tactic of bullies to justify themselves with comparisons to other bullies.

    Just because someone else may be worse than Israel does not justify Israel’s actions. You are not responding to any of the arguments in favor of peace, just tossing out more anti-Arab BS as if it licenses disregard for the rights of Palestinians, as if it’s okay to smear all Arabs with the same brush, even though anti-Semitism is intolerable. You are out of arguments and reduced to pure desperation.

  39. 39
    colnago80

    Ole Jeffrey sounds like a broken record. He says that Israel should compromise on peace. Unfortunately, the only compromise that the Palestinians will accept is an agreement from the Government of Israel to go out of business. Until the Palestinian leadership agrees to drop the resettle Palestinian refugees in Israel demand, there is no compromise possible. The Palestinian complaint about occupation of the West Bank is a smoke screen. The Palestinians consider that all of Palestine is under occupation by the “Zionist Entity”. Let’s hear from some other players in the area.

    Ayatollah Khamenei:http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-02/ayatollah-takes-to-twitter-whiny-anti-semitic-paranoia-ensues.html

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/hezbollah-leader-rallies-shiites-with-highly-sectarian-speech/

  40. 40
    Jeffrey Johnson

    Brilliant. Let’s hold 3.5 men, women, and children hostage because (cue scary music) THE AYATOLLAH and HEZBOLLAH!!!!11!1!!

    Here are some scary links:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/9688134/Ariel-Sharons-son-Gilad-calls-on-Israel-to-flatten-Gaza.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/27/naama-margolese_n_1170655.html

    But this is not an argument to punish all Jews any more than your scary links are an argument that Israel should punish all Palestinians. You haven’t given a shred of evidence for your claim that creating a Palestinian state would “put the Government of Israel out of business”. You merely assert it, so I can merely dismiss it as tribalistic hyperbolic ranting. Do you have anything that might convince a rational person?

  41. 41
    slc1

    Dear Jeffrey, we are now just talking past each other. Let me make my position perfectly clear so that there be no misunderstanding. It is my contention that the Palestinian leadership will not, at least up to this point, accept any solution that does not entail resettling Palestinians currently living in refugee camps in Israel. If the Government of Israel agreed to any such demand, that would be tantamount to their agreeing to go out of business. A two state solution with Palestinians living in refugee camps being resettled in other Arab states and/or in the new state of Palestine would not entail the Government of Israel going out of business. The problem is that the Palestinian leadership won’t accept such a proposal. Ole Jeff seem to be having trouble understanding this.

    As for the fulminations of Khamenei and Nasrallah, any Palestinian leader who accepted a two state solution would be in dire peril of assassination by minions of one or both of those thugs. We see the evil of these two thugs in their intervention in Syria on the side of the genocidal Assad dictatorship.

    By the way, to compare Gilad Sharon who holds no position in the Israeli Government past or present with the likes of Khamenei and Nasrallah, the first of whom is the absolute ruler of Iran and the second the leader of the strongest faction in Lebanon is complete balderdash. That has to be the worst argument on this thread.

  42. 42
    Jeffrey Johnson

    That has to be the worst argument on this thread

    Exactly. That was the point. It was meant to mirror your argument, so I’m glad you understood the point. Besides being bad arguments, ithey were was noise irrelevent to the question of a two state peace accord.

    It is my contention that the Palestinian leadership will not, at least up to this point, accept any solution that does not entail resettling Palestinians currently living in refugee camps in Israel.

    Okay, I agree it would be an insurmountable barrier to peace, if your contention remains true. But why isn’t the government of Israel effectively out of business for the same reasons if it holds onto the West Bank? If Israel claims this land, it takes on a larger number of Arabs than it would if it were to honor the right of return. How do you respond to this dilemma?

    For the sake of argument lets say a way around this is found via some combination of land swaps and financial compensation. What then? Now you can’t frame this as if only the Palestinians are at fault. You need to look at the status of Jerusalem. Should Israel continue to insist that 100% of Jerusalem is in Israel, even though Jerusalem was not part of Israel at its founding, but was established as an international zone to be shared between the Israeli and Palestinian states? Israel opportunistically siezed it in a preemptive strike in 1967. How do you justify Israel’s inflexible deal breaking position on Jerusalem? How would you see this if you happened to be a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem?

  43. 43
    slc1

    Re Jeffrey

    A minor correction, the Western part of Jerusalem was annexed by Israel after the 1948 war. It was the Eastern part, including the walled Old City, that was annexed after the 1967 war.

    I would agree with Jeff that Israel annexing the West Bank, effectively endorsing a 1 state solution would be a disaster. That’s why I favor a 2 state solution. However, the Palestinian leadership in the person of Yasir Arafat, rejected the two state solution proposed by Clinton and Miller at the Taba conference in 2000. As it is said, the Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. And the reason that Arafat rejected the Cinton/Miller proposal was because he would have had to give up the resettlement of Palestinians living in refugee camps demand. This he was not prepared to do. And, IMHO, Mahmoud Abbas isn’t prepared to give it up either. This is the same iceberg upon which all previous “peace” negotiations have foundered. Because of this, I agree with Jeffrey Goldberg that Kerry’s “peace” negotiations are an exercise in futility. We’ve been there before and and I see nothing on the horizon to give us optimism that something will be different this time around. As Albert Einstein once famously said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

  44. 44
    Jeffrey Johnson

    I don’t think your description contains major inaccuracies, but it seems dishonest to pretend that Israel has been willing to be reasonable and cooperative while it’s just the Palestinians that are being unreasonable. This is a convenient cop out that every uncritical Israel supporter uses: it’s all their fault. In fact there are important issues Israel is not forthcoming with compromises on, such as an agreement to share Jerusalem, or the dismantling of the settlements. After all, if right of return is intolerable to Israel, then Jewish settlements being intolerable to Palestinians is a symmetric principle. If Israel wants to maintain settlements, then they should likewise grant right of return.

    My understanding is that Ehud Olmert does not confirm this standard story that “It’s the Palestinians who won’t compromise”. He stated in interviews that in principle Abbas was willing to entertain compromises on all the important sticking points that were in principle acceptable to both sides. The two seemed inches from an agreement, and it appears that internal politics in both Israel and Palestine delayed completion, until the election of Netanyahu ended that possibility. Abbas has stated several times in the last few years he’s ready to proceed on the basis of his tentative agreements with Olmert. Abbas never walked away from the plan, never said no, but for reasons that aren’t clear, perhaps because efforts to get Hamas agreement stalled, the time window passed. It’s a mattter of Israeli politics that the window closed. Why did that deal go away before Abbas had a chance to reach a final agreement? Why did that window slam shut?

    http://m.upi.com/story/UPI-85711369409545/?fms=1

  45. 45
    slc1

    At this point, I think that we are just talking past each other and may I respectively suggest that we agree to disagree, hopefully not disagreeably. I know that there are some who comment here who take great exception to that statement but who cares about them.

  46. 46
    Jeffrey Johnson

    Of course we can, as they say, amicably disagree.

    If I may just respond to your characterization of “talking past each other”, I would put it a bit differently.

    As I see it, I have admitted that faults exist on both sides of this conflict, and I’ve acknowledged that Israel is deserving of a state that exists in peace. On the other hand, I’ve seen no such admission on your part that any fault can be assigned to Israel, nor that the Palestinians are deserving of a state that exists in peace beside Israel. It seems you have engaged in nothing but defense of all of Israel’s actions at any cost, usually by finding some negative fact about Arabs that neither directly absolves Israel of fault nor directly implicates the actual residents of the West Bank, and you represent the current standoff as one in which only Palestinians are unreasonable, but the Israelis are perfectly justified and reasonable.

    If that’s what you call “talking past each other”, then I guess that’s what’s happening.

  47. 47
    Jeffrey Johnson

    Here is a great example of the US Congress kowtowing to AIPAC

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