Conspiracism American Style: The Daniel Levy Debate

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Daniel_Levy.jpgAnyone who has spent considerable time in the Arab Middle East will soon run into the fact that conspiracy theories are part of the currency of communication and social networking. During my trips to the region, I have been dumbfounded and really shocked by some of the stories that are spun about American intentions in the world, or Jewish control of media and finance, or just completely fabricated nonsense that doesn’t stand up to reason.
I have been witness to efforts by some in the Middle East to twist and distort comments made by American policymakers, Israeli leaders, and others in order to reify their fantastic but unreal constructs explaining some international event or accident or decision.
The “real” positions expressed by political leaders on all sides of the Middle East mess should be good enough to trigger actual, serious, and ultimately constructive debate without fabricating false stories or assigning motives to people that are demonstrably untrue.
But what is true in the Middle East churning of lies, false stories, and conspiracies is becoming true in America.


Our own debates — whether about the causes and drivers of global terrorism, or what to do in the Israel-Palestine standoff, or whether China should be blamed or not for America’s inattention and mismanagement of its economic interest, or what strategies would be best to either lure or force Iran on an alternative nuclear course, these debates and more — are increasingly being commandeered by those who want to defame or twist or create guilt by association attacks on earnest, thoughtful commentators on public policy.
The one I see a lot in the press are references to George Soros — someone I am proud to have a relationship with and a person I think had the markers right for a much smarter economic policy and banking/finance strategy than Lawrence Summers, Timothy Geithner, and President Obama finally elected to embrace. But Soros and all who he knows or funds are subjected to increasing attacks, while the merit or lack thereof of some argument is ignored by these anti-Soros shock squads.
I recently came across a similar kind of attack on Daniel Levy who do-directs the Middle East Task Force for the New America Foundation and who was instrumental in setting up the J Street organization.
In this case, Omri Ceren writes a piece based on a transcript from the 5th Annual Al Jazeera Forum attacking Daniel Levy for a statement roughly stating that the 1948 creation of Israel was wrong. Ceren anticipates someone like me pushing back and saying “out of context don’t you think?” by claiming to provide the full paragraph of Levy’s statement (actually Ceren edits it in important ways, but I will get to that) but here’s the part of the transcript Ceren posted:

One can be a utilitarian two-stater, in other words think that the practical pragmatic way forward is two states. This is my understanding of the current Hamas position. One can be an ideological two-stater, someone who believes in exclusively the Palestinian self-determination and in Zionism; I don’t believe that it’s impossible to have a progressive Zionism. Or one can be a one-stater. But in either of those outcomes we’re going to live next door to each other or in a one state disposition. And that means wrapping one’s head around the humanity of both sides. I believe the way Jewish history was in 1948 excused – for me, it was good enough for me – an act that was wrong. I don’t expect Palestinians to think that. I have no reason – there’s no reason a Palestinian should think there was justice in the creation of Israel.

The transcript is correct in offering a horizontal picture of what Levy said. But like most things of this sort, there’s some critical topography missing. I don’t fault Ceren at all for reacting to a transcript if that is what he had in hand (he doesn’t offer a full transcript or link to one) — but given Levy’s stature on this issue and long standing profile in Israel, I’m surprised he didn’t go beyond this.
Having been there, been in the hall, been on the panel, and seen the impact of Levy’s remarks, I find the attacks particularly strange and out of place. Levy was principally making a very effective appeal to recognize the humanity of both sides – and in this case, the humanity that was not being recognized was that of the Jews and Israelis, so that was the point he was clearly driving at and he appeared to effectively wrong-foot a particularly unsympathetic and hard-line question.
Reading transcripts is what we all do. I’ve done the same with Ambassador John Bolton frequently — but beyond just reading his remarks, I try to listen to Bolton who despite some of his harshness is occasionally being flippant, or humorous, or answering complex questions in a roundabout way — and that is what I feel Levy did in this case. I was there in the room with Levy and know that he was in no way arguing or suggesting what he is accused of.
What Ceren doesn’t report is the question Levy was responding to — and in my view, it was a loaded, obnoxious question challenging the humanity of Jews.
The question was:

Q: Hi- Mr. Daniel Levy, you spoke about “progressive Zionists”–and my God, that’s an astonishing phrase. It’s a contradiction in terms and seems to reconcile the irreconcilable, puts opposites together. It’s just like putting cat with mouse and wolf with lamb. It’s just like saying there are progressive Nazis or progressive fascists. The truth is that Zionism is a racist ideology founded on the theft of another people’s land. There can’t be progressive Zionists. Zionism can only be racist, regressive and antidemocratic. And by the way the project you endorsed has already failed. It is the project espoused by Mahmoud Abbas and even by Yasser Arafat and the reason is that when it comes to Palestinian issue, the difference between the Israeli right and the Israeli left is one of a few degrees, not one of different nature.

I have also found the Al Jazeera broadcast of the session which is regrettably dubbed in Arabic. (OK — just found the English language version of the YouTube posted clip). But even watching and listening to Levy’s background English in this case, I think it’s clear that rather than questioning Israel’s essence, founding, right to exist and the humanity of Jews — Levy is — though stopping and starting mid-thought too much in his response — affirming the humanity of both sides.
His full response, provided untopographically by me, was:

DL: I think you have to get your head around the idea that the Jewish community in Israel is not going back to Poland or Germany or Morocco or Iraq. One can be a utilitarian two-stater. In other words think that the practical, pragmatic way forward is two states. This is my understanding of the current Hamas position. One can be an ideological two-stater as someone who believes in exclusively Palestinian self-determination or in Zionism. I don’t believe that it’s impossible to have a progressive Zionism. Or one can be a one-stater. But in either of those outcomes, we’re going to live next-door to each other or in a one state disposition.
And that means wrapping ones head around the humanity of both sides. I believe that where Jewish history was in 1948 excused, for me – it was good enough for me – an act that was wrong. I don’t expect Palestinians to think that. I have no reason – there is no reason – that Palestinians should think there was justice in the creation of Israel. But if we’re going to live as neighbors or in one state, one has to begin to develop an understanding and a respect for who the other is. And to compare a Zionist to a Nazi doesn’t really get you very far down that road.
[*italicized selections above did not make it into the cut that Ceren provided but which are contextually significant.]

I think that Levy’s critic, who did not link to a transcript or the video, heard or was directed to a moment in an exchange that was lifted from its context — and in which Levy not only defended Israel but made a broader claim for the importance of acknowledging the humanity of Israelis to someone whose bias was opposed.
But Levy is a former Israeli government official and a citizen of Israel. He’s in love with Israel — but believes that a two-state arrangement with Palestine is essential to Israel’s survival and long term stability and interests. I agree with him.
But Levy is quoted all over the place — and speaks and writes prolifically — and yet none of these other comments that are clearly about creating a more just and stable Israel-Palestine situation that avoids the illusion of false choices is mentioned.
In his remarks, Levy says yes, there can be a progressive Zionism and that he supports Israel’s creation – that the place the Jews were in in 1948 justified that for him. He also understands why Palestinians would likely not feel the same way, which all seems to me perfectly reasonable and probably a good thing to acknowledge if this conflict is ever going to be resolved.
Levy was not saying that Israel’s creation was wrong; he is in fact saying that he supports it, a position I have also heard him espouse consistently over the years we have worked together. I know that he also believes, and have had this confirmed by him, that things that went on during Israel’s creation, especially in relation to the creation of the Palestinian refugee community, did include wrongdoing. And that while he thinks it was crucial for Israel to be established, and that he personally identifies with Israel and the need for an Israel in the context of Jewish history, he can understand why Palestinians – including those ready to accept two states, recognize Israel, and live alongside Israel – would still be unable to embrace or legitimize the events of 1948.
In his statement, Levy goes after the question in a withering critique that had a powerful effect in the room, seeing this Jewish, Israeli, Zionist guy telling the audience – deal with it.
Levy ends with a clear call to end the 1967 occupation – for two states. And attempts to establish the two-state option as a common denominator for an audience not particular sympathetic to two states.
Levy’s formulation is no different than that I have heard from the very highest levels of the Israeli government and among a wide variety of factions in the Knesset.
But what really gets me — beyond the misreading of Levy — is the conspiracism running rampant without challenge. We have lots of other blogs running with the innuendo-intoxicated and false conspiracy framework asserting that since Soros funds J Street and Soros hates Israel (wrong by the way!) that Daniel Levy has finally shown his stripes as an Israel-hater too.
This is just ridiculous — and diverts attention from the merit of the arguments at hand.
I don’t expect this kind of behavior to go away soon. Pamela Geller, who describes herself as a `racist-Islamophobic-anti-Muslim-bigot’ got a lot of air time in the New York Times — and this kind of conspiracist blogging and journalism drives readership and earns rewards at some level.
But there is the challenge of getting policy right — and Daniel Levy is a key part of that debate, just like John Bolton, or Robert Kagan, or George Mitchell, or Aaron David Miller. And for that debate to happen, those who are key commentators should reach further and deeper to report what is real — rather than what is contrived, or incomplete.
Middle East conspiracism is here in America now — but our own political factions are now engaged in many of the same troubling patterns that drive some to unacceptable forms of violence.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

102 comments on “Conspiracism American Style: The Daniel Levy Debate

  1. spider says:

    So, Kansan, I’m attacking mother’s milk and apple pie, and all that’s holy. Fuck ’em.

    Reply

  2. nadine says:

    “One reservation I have, though, is attributing the Tory move to “ideology”. Europeans and Americans should be re-learning the old lesson that during times of economic stress and contraction, people are drawn together into classes that act in solidarity to advance their own class interests. Parties like the Tories exist to serve the interests of great and established wealth. They are not doing what they are doing because they have a deep and abiding philosophical or ideological conviction that the interests of such abstractions as “the nation” or “the community” are best served by austerity policies. They are just moving in for the kill to advance their own interests. If “the nation” sinks while they swim, what is it to them?” (Dan Kervick)
    Ah, yes, and all the misguided working class teabagger types who support the Tories or their Republican American counterparts are betraying “false consciousness” in supporting interests opposed to their mooted “class interests.” That’s alright, Dan, we know the drill. But it would really be an aid to conversation if you just admit that you are a Marxist, as these statements make abundantly clear.

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  3. DakotabornKansan says:

    Liberalism is a discipline too difficult and complex to take firm root for Spider.

    Reply

  4. spider says:

    Zhabotinsky said the same thing in 1923 about the founding of the Jewish state. Paraphrasing;
    We took their land so – since they are a people and not a rabble – the Arabs will continue to fight to get it back until they can fight no more.
    The difference is that Zhabotinsky was honest and Levy – like most liberals – is a disgusting, cowardly, mealy-mouthed wimp. He wants us to believe that the Arabs will give up their fight to right a wrong – he admits that there’s no reason for Arabs to believe Israel is anything but illegitimate – because they recognize our common humanity. He never seems to realize that the Arabs can do so while driving all Jews into exile…or ovens.
    Come on, Clemons, open your eyes. Look at how many anti-semites love what you and the other leftie assholes publish.

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  5. Dan Kervick says:

    “Why is the British government doing this? The real reason has a lot to do with ideology: the Tories are using the deficit as an excuse to downsize the welfare state. But the official rationale is that there is no alternative.”
    Well, this is almost exactly right in my view, Paul. During recessions, people are susceptible to demagoguery of all kinds. Because their own household budgets are in the red, and they draw mistaken analogies between household and national budgets, they think that the very rational household austerity they are practicing should be carried over to the national level. But this is generally the opposite of the truth.
    To be fair, Europe also has a different challenge than the United States. They are part of an economic union in which some countries are indeed facing sovereign debt crises. To hold the union together around a common economic approach while at the same time attacking these debt crises, the EU members need a coordinated economic policy. There is probably some sense that other countries, including surplus countries, need to set an example for Greece, Spain and Ireland by practicing the fiscal austerity they preach, even though that austerity is decidedly not in their own people’s best interests.
    Some Europeans might think that they can hitch a ride on exports to the American economy, and practice their own austerity on their side of the ocean as the US stimulates its way to growth on this side. I hope they are paying attention to the continued record unemployment and profound sluggishness of the American economy. The fearful and insecure American consumer is in no position to start whipping out credit cards again.
    And notice that in this case Krugman, a persistent administration critic, and Treasury Secretary Geithner are both sending the Europeans the same message.
    One reservation I have, though, is attributing the Tory move to “ideology”. Europeans and Americans should be re-learning the old lesson that during times of economic stress and contraction, people are drawn together into classes that act in solidarity to advance their own class interests. Parties like the Tories exist to serve the interests of great and established wealth. They are not doing what they are doing because they have a deep and abiding philosophical or ideological conviction that the interests of such abstractions as “the nation” or “the community” are best served by austerity policies. They are just moving in for the kill to advance their own interests. If “the nation” sinks while they swim, what is it to them?
    We should all reflect on whether progressive, democratic societies are sustainable when they allow huge income disparities to grow, and allow small pockets of ultra-wealthy individuals to become the society’s effective owners. The growths in inequality we have tolerated bring with them shifts in power. By permitting gross inequality, we have opened ourselves up to a predatory assault on social welfare. Now our societies’ owners are acting in a concerted manner, through the financial markets, to destroy the public programs that depend on their tax dollars.

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  6. Paul Norheim says:

    Apropos Dan and Nadine’s discussion above, and my two
    comments responding to that, here is Krugman today in his
    NYT op-ed:
    “Both the new British budget announced on Wednesday and the
    rhetoric that accompanied the announcement might have come
    straight from the desk of Andrew Mellon, the Treasury
    secretary who told President Herbert Hoover to fight the
    Depression by liquidating the farmers, liquidating the workers,
    and driving down wages. Or if you prefer more British
    precedents, it echoes the Snowden budget of 1931, which tried
    to restore confidence but ended up deepening the economic
    crisis.”
    (My comment:) The same approach is taken in Ireland, with
    additional pressure from the EU. And one could add Greece,
    Spain, Portugal etc as variations of the same anti-keynesian,
    tea-party-like approach.
    Krugman continues:
    “The British government

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  7. Paul Norheim says:

    And Dan, I guess the paradox I mentioned above is something
    the Democrats could utilize during the remaining weeks before
    midterm elections: They can go on the offense – preferably on
    Fox News – and make the convincing polemical argument that
    it’s not the Dem’s, but the Tea Party Movement and parts of the
    GOP that now suggest a change that is in line with what the
    demonized Europeans are actually doing.
    While Obama and the Dems want to stimulate the economy and
    reduce unemployment, The Tea Party just wants to emulate Old
    Tired Europe!

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  8. Paul Norheim says:

    “Well if they do then that they are as nutty as they look” (Dan
    kervick)
    The striking paradox, Dan and Nadine, is that the Europeans
    right now seem to do exactly what you, Dan, fear that the tea
    partiers will do: cut spending, reduce the deficit!
    All in all, America under Obama has taken a moderate
    keynesian approach, while the Europeans have been obsessed
    with debt reduction and cuts in spending – perfectly in line
    with the recommendations of the tea partiers…
    This means – surprisingly – that Nadine’s position is closer to
    the approach of the European “socialist countries” during this
    recession than to the current approach of “capitalist” America.
    It must be a truly weird surprise for the teabaggers, when they
    suddenly find themselves in bed with the the Europeans on the
    other side of the pond. Time will show if it’s just a one night
    stand or something more.

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  9. Dan Kervick says:

    “They won’t cut taxes, they will just refuse to hike taxes as Obama wants. They will cut spending sharply or the Tea Party will go third party and throw them out.”
    Well if they do then that they are as nutty as they look. If they are going to cut spending then they should at least cut taxes along with the spending cuts. Do tea partiers honestly believe that paying down the deficit in the middle of an extremely severe recession – with an economy already groaning under record unemployment, stagnant wages and paralyzing household debt – is smart economic policy? If so, then they are the descendants of the medieval quacks who thought the best way to fight disease was to bleed the patient of his blood supply.
    The purely partisan devil in me is inclined to say, “Go right ahead; it’s your funeral.” But of course, its our funeral too.

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  10. nadine says:

    “Those social democracies are holding their broad consensus together quite nicely, even during very challenging times. Their political debates are mainly over modest adjustments – e.g. retirement at 62 or retirement at 60 – and are leaving intact a durable political and economic model that remains substantially to the left of the United States model, and is revealing itself to be more sustainable and more successful than the society-neglecting and perverse go-go capitalism practiced on the extremist American plan.” (Dan Kervick)
    Oh, yes, the civilized discussion about reverting to a sustainable model is going just swimmingly in France, I hear. The European states, whose populations are poor compared to ours because of their socialist track record (check per capita GDP figures), are now turning sharply right trying to change course before their unsustainable models go over the cliff a la Greece. England just fired 500,000 government workers. In Germany, Merkel just admitted multiculturalism doesn’t work. Netherlands has a center-right government. The PIGS look like they will have to go over the cliff and hit bottom first before they acknowledge reality.
    It’s ironic that Europe is turning right just as Obama decided to lurch to the left.
    “That experiment and its substitution of unregulated Ponzi schemes and flim-flams for sound investment”
    The chief Ponzi scheme is called Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. That wasn’t enough for Obama, he yanked half a trillion from Medicare to fund Obamacare.
    “the trend of national rhetoric in the past month has moved in a noticeably leftward direction.”
    You must have been listening to some other election, not the US one. The US rhetoric has moved in a libertarian direction: limited government, less corruption, less crony capitalism, more free markets, more freedom.
    “Here’s my prediction: Congressional Republicans will quite suddenly and firmly reverse their demagogic deficit hysteria the very next morning after election night, and will in fact start looking immediately to lead the Congressional charge to author a second round of deficit-boosting fiscal stimulus with more tax cuts AND more spending”
    They won’t cut taxes, they will just refuse to hike taxes as Obama wants. They will cut spending sharply or the Tea Party will go third party and throw them out.

    Reply

  11. DonS says:

    Thanks Paul for publishing that link on Uganda, which I had seen yesterday. Here’s another story on it:
    http://jonathanturley.org/2010/10/20/ugandan-newspaper-publishes-pictures-of-homosexuals-and-calls-for-them-to-be-hanged/
    Wigwag adds insult to injury above by making even more excuses for her newfound fundie friends:
    “Let me mention one other thing. The nature of evangelism and missionary activity has changed considerably in the past several decades. ”
    Well it may have ‘changed’, but the heady state of evangelicals in this country is out of control. It’s ‘changed’ so much that the wife of a Supreme Court justice has the gall to invade the privacy of Anita Hill, a young woman intern who Thomas sexually harasssed (among many others, including others now coming forward). Dear Mrs Thomas asked Anita to “pray over it” (her demanded ‘apology’) and ended with ‘have a nice day’. How quaint.
    Evangelicals have ‘changed’ so much that an indoctrinated high school girl can be put up before a political meeting and harangue a gay candidate “do you not know that the wicked will go to hell?”
    Yeah, it’s ‘changing’ alright. And maybe in a direction that please the wigwags (a rising fundie ‘christian’ tide to counter a rising Muslim tide as wigwag predicts), but it’s still a bunch of mainly ignorant yahoos fueled by hate even as they sway to the music and profess their actual love. They love us sinners, even as they call us evil. Wigwag’s new found fundie friends probably thinks its just fine for the Israelis to fry innocent heathen Gazans with white phosporous; probably think they had it coming. (It’s just a coincidence, of course, that Wigwag is the AIPAC rep to the fundie community in his/her area))
    Now if we’d all only come to Jesus everything would be right. Maybe wigwag’s getting ready?
    Wigwag decries an extreme Muslim ideology and seeks to lump progressives in with all things evil, explicitly, not even by implication. While she fist bumps with the ignorants of the fundie world. We see what ‘integrity’ means in that world.

    Reply

  12. Paul Norheim says:

    A little glimpse into the work of WigWag’s “extraordinarily
    progressive” new friends in Africa:
    “Anti-gay bigots plunge Africa into new era of hate crimes
    Uganda is likely to pass a law within months that will make
    homosexuality a capital offence, joining 37 other countries in
    the continent where American evangelical Christian groups are
    increasingly spreading bigotry”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/13/death-
    penalty-uganda-homosexuals
    That was almost a year ago. But progress didn’t stop with anti-
    gay laws. Here is the latest from Uganda:
    “Ugandan paper calls for gay people to be hanged.
    Gay people named in article face violence and abuse after
    newspaper claims they are recruiting children.
    Human rights activists have warned that the lives of gay people
    in Uganda are in danger aftera newspaper published a story
    featuring the names and photographs of 100 homosexuals
    under the headline: “Hang Them”.
    The article appeared earlier this month in the Rolling Stone
    newspaper, a new weekly title started by journalism graduates.
    Its publication came just days before the first anniversary of the
    introduction to parliament of a controversial anti-
    homosexuality bill that calls for the death penalty for those
    convicted of repeated same-sex relations, and life
    imprisonment for others.
    Inspired at least in part by a group of US evangelicals with close
    links to Uganda, the bill was heavily promoted by a few
    preachers and politicians.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/21/ugandan-
    paper-gay-people-hanged

    Reply

  13. David Billington says:

    Wigwag – The Amazon page you give for “The Coming Global Christianity” has the
    following quote from Library Journal:
    “As [the author] explains it, Christianity, the religion of the West, is rapidly
    expanding south into Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and he predicts that by the
    year 2050, only about one-fifth of the world’s three billion Christians will be non-
    Hispanic Caucasian. By numbers alone, they will be able to overwhelm the present
    political secular nation- and city-states and replace them with theocracies, similar
    to the Islamic Arab nations.”
    I hope this forecast of theocracy is not a future to which you look forward. The
    other book by Eliza Griswold (with an endorsement incidently by Steve Clemons’
    colleague Steve Coll) appears to be more nuanced and hopeful and looks well
    worth reading – thanks for bringing it to my attention.
    As for your observation that evangelicals rarely mention Israel as a sign of the end
    times with its conversion of Jews, I agree that evangelical support for Israel is
    more than this. But if it is true that evangelicals do not look forward to the
    permanent future of Israel as a Jewish state, then (however rarely evangelicals
    affirm this view) their support for Israel has to be seen in a more contingent sense
    than the support of those who think that Israel ought to be the kind of state that
    Jews themselves want to endure.
    Regarding peace, the more important event to me is the recent controversy in
    Israel over Israeli identity, which does not address the real question. This is
    whether Palestinians returning to Israel should be citizens of Israel or a Palestinian
    state. Both sides need to be pressed for an explicit answer on this point.

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  14. Dan Kervick says:

    “I suppose since you are a socialist, it is not surprising that you think the socialist bloc at the UN has moral authority, but I beg to disagree…”
    “BTW Walter Russell Mead has an excellent post on how as a radical kid he became disillusioned with socialism by going to Eastern Europe…”
    This is pretty lame stuff, Nadine. As you know, I’m a social democrat. I look to the proven and demonstratively prosperous social democracies of contemporary Europe as a model, not the miserable communist failures of the past. Those social democracies are holding their broad consensus together quite nicely, even during very challenging times. Their political debates are mainly over modest adjustments – e.g. retirement at 62 or retirement at 60 – and are leaving intact a durable political and economic model that remains substantially to the left of the United States model, and is revealing itself to be more sustainable and more successful than the society-neglecting and perverse go-go capitalism practiced on the extremist American plan.
    I also look to the old New Deal Democratic Party for inspiration – the vanished party that engineered the Rooseveltian economic order that brought spectacular growth and sustained prosperity to the United States in the postwar era, empowered labor and built the American middle class, whose real wages and share of national income rose during the period. This middle-of-the-road, mixed economy common sense only looks like socialism to the crazy Randian and anti-social laissez faire extremists and market fundamentalists of post-Reagan America. The latter are the engineers of our more recent ignoble experiment in society-destroying individualism, grotesque anti-democratic inequality and unvarnished greed. That experiment and its substitution of unregulated Ponzi schemes and flim-flams for sound investment, and every man for himself social flailing for forward-looking and energetic progressive government, has failed. It crashed belly up and burned in the fall of 2008, plunging us into some historically deep doldrums.
    I’m struck by the fact that even though many voters are turned off by the Democrats as a party, the trend of national rhetoric in the past month has moved in a noticeably leftward direction. The shockingly shameless and brazen auctioning off of our elections to secret cabals of wealthy donors and PACs; the revelation of a national conspiracy to cheat and dispossess struggling homeowners out of their remaining assets; the idiotic fiscal paralysis and austerity-mongering of the bootlicking national political and media class in the face catastrophic unemployment, strangled demand and an ominous second dip on the horizon, with Washington gearing up to sell out most of America and consign us all to a modern-day debtors prison in order to protect the interests of a few – these outrages are beginning to have a striking political effect. One can now read all sorts of calls for straightforwardly redistributive policies and renewed fiscal activism from mainstream media venues and middle-of the road economists, folks that were until recently stalwarts of the neoliberal Washington consensus.
    The most striking sign of our collective insanity and fatalistic confusion is that in periodicals from the left to the center-right you read frequent statements such as “Everybody knows we need a renewed fiscal attack on unemployment and sagging demand; but everybody knows this is politically impossible.” I would say that a society in which “everybody knows” that they can’t do what they in fact have to do is a society that has flipped its lid.
    Here’s my prediction: Congressional Republicans will quite suddenly and firmly reverse their demagogic deficit hysteria the very next morning after election night, and will in fact start looking immediately to lead the Congressional charge to author a second round of deficit-boosting fiscal stimulus with more tax cuts AND more spending. The moment they realize that they and their party actually have to govern, and that they are on the hook in 2012 for an economy that is dangling perilously over the precipice of a second follow-up collapse, Republicans will abandon their ridiculous ostrich do-nothingism and austerity-program idiocy, and start getting real about unemployment, middle-class debt and vanished wealth.
    I also predict that a second recession would have dramatic effects, and produce a spirited global run on the American brand as the last vapors of global confidence in American prudence, leadership and economic common sense are dissipated in smoke, gone with the wind of Republicans’ insane rebel selfishness, bitterness, anti-intellectualism and hatred. But ultimately, I doubt that even Republicans will persist in their stubborn program of cutting off their noses to spite their faces. They are going to find themselves forced to pass the very same emergency jobs programs, relief programs and redistribution programs they profess to hate – or else face a rout in 2012.

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  15. DonS says:

    Correction above, the entire first paragraph of wigwag’s should be in quotes.

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  16. DonS says:

    Considering the history of Christian anti-Semitism in Europe that prevailed for much more than a thousand years (and ultimately resulted in the near extinction of European Jewry) and considering the anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism that characterizes much of the secular European and American left today, it seems to me that the simple faith professed by what we routinely (but mistakenly) call

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  17. WigWag says:

    “But I don’t think belief in the end times and in the correlative necessity of Jewish conversion should be the measure of intensity of support for Israel. What should matter are shared values and commitments.” (David Billington)
    I agree that what should matter are shared values and commitments. If you meet Christian Zionists (and I have met hundreds) when talking about their support for Israel they almost never mention the “end times.” Instead, they all refer to the same section of scripture, Genesis 12:3. It says (King James version)
    “And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”
    Considering the history of Christian anti-Semitism in Europe that prevailed for much more than a thousand years (and ultimately resulted in the near extinction of European Jewry) and considering the anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism that characterizes much of the secular European and American left today, it seems to me that the simple faith professed by what we routinely (but mistakenly) call

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  18. David Billington says:

    Wigwag –
    The Pew charts are useful although I don’t see where they map change over
    time. However, it isn’t really in dispute that the evangelical churches increased
    their membership in the late twentieth century while the mainline churches
    declined. The only caveat is that the absolute numbers on the evangelical side
    have to be treated with some caution if they include television ministries, as the
    same people often sent money to multiple televangelists who then counted
    them as members. The article I cite suggests that the number of unreligious
    people may increase, not that people are moving from one side of the religious
    spectrum to the other.
    But the article I cited also notes the reason why the young people surveyed have
    become disaffected from conservative religion, namely the overtly political
    obsessions of the clergy. To be fair, one should say that much of the loss in
    mainline church membership was also a consequence of the political positions
    taken by clergy, on the opposite side of the spectrum. What is happening now
    is that younger people are reacting against the political commitments of right-
    wing clergy.
    It is true that people tend to become more religious as they grow older but this
    is almost always for religious reasons. Also, when people have children they
    often decide that having or recovering some religious anchorage for the family is
    a good idea. Some people embrace or change religious affiliation for political
    reasons as they age, but I don’t think this is as commonly associated with aging
    as returning to one’s original faith after a period of absence for religious (not
    political) reasons.
    On Israel, lay people in the mainline churches are closer to the view of most
    Americans than clergy and national church leaders. But I don’t think belief in the
    end times and in the correlative necessity of Jewish conversion should be the
    measure of intensity of support for Israel. What should matter are shared values
    and commitments.

    Reply

  19. WigWag says:

    “At the same time, hostility to Islam is likely to increase.” (WigWag)
    To wit,
    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/berger/2010/10/20/germany-and-its-muslims/

    Reply

  20. questions says:

    Yarg. nadine. honestly. occasionally something you or W/W links to from Mead sounds good. This one is over the top on the overdone side of things.
    Many issues are conflated, big time.
    When a nation forms boundaries and doesn’t form human loyalties and doesn’t form legitimacy regarding its allocation of goods, services and power, when a nation doesn’t have authority, bad things happen.
    When a completely legitimate, elected, power-separated nation forms boundaries and all the people love it, bad things can still happen.
    There are different sets of bad things, but bad things nonetheless.
    On its way to making itself, the US has had plenty of dissolute and unwilling police, soldiers, and sheriffs.
    On its way to making itself, the US has fought plenty of wars in which plenty have died.
    That’s the political stuff.
    On the economic side, take a walk in any city in the US and find homelessness, deep deep poverty, malnutrition, kids left so far behind they’ll never catch up.
    There are lots of vacant lots, downtrodden masses, rural disasters, environmental nightmares, early deaths, horrific diseases, and general ugliness all across the US.
    The glories of capitalism leave people behind all over the place. It’s not a kind or other-directed set up, and it only works for some, ever. It’s not structured to work for everyone.
    But please keep the capitalism issues separate from the political development issues.
    Greater government regulation guarantees equal information, cuts down on prisoners dilemmas, and makes commerce possible.
    A total lack of regulation is completely unworkable.
    The real fight is just when and where to regulate. As far as I’m concerned, the THING — the mortgage mess, the foreclosure mess, the fraud in the securities market, the fact that investors in MBS are now suing the very banks that issued the damned securities in the first place — all of this suggests a need for regulation.
    Not sure if your region has any foreclosures, but mine does. Each foreclosure is a family or a person who doesn’t live there anymore.
    The system was allowed by a lack of decent regulation decently enforced.
    That’s capitalism for ya!
    And where there is significant regulation in the US, I’m not seeing endless downtrodden souls from it, or massacres of millions. Hey, how many people are dead cuz the gov’t says food packages have to have nutrition labels? Wow, look at that train station and those police who don’t want to be there — all because of food labels!
    No, the misery of humankind isn’t caused by government regulation. It’s caused by ethnic rivalries and resource fights. It’s caused by the overuse of resources, the denial of support to many to enrich the few. It’s caused by a lack of cooperation, not by too much cooperation.

    Reply

  21. nadine says:

    “While the United States has made it very plain that it supports the second kind of rule, outlawing terrorism, it is a shame that our country has waffled on the first kind, and refused to take a clear stand against blatantly aggressive territorial expansion by Israel. There is nothing in the least deficient about the rules here, only the enforcement is lacking.” (Dan Kervick)
    Dan, in both 1948 and 1967 the Arabs started a war designed to annihilate Israel; and by the end of both wars Israel had expanded its territory. In 1949 the truce lines were accepted (by most of the UN, if not by the Arabs) as the new border; in 1967 they were not. The circumstances were practically identical. What had changed was the composition of the UN, which was now dominated by the Soviet and Arab bloc. This is the revision of the rules which you find morally compelling.
    I suppose since you are a socialist, it is not surprising that you think the socialist bloc at the UN has moral authority, but I beg to disagree.
    BTW Walter Russell Mead has an excellent post on how as a radical kid he became disillusioned with socialism by going to Eastern Europe. When he discusses the stuff he believed as a kid, he sounds just like half the posters at TWN:
    Blogging Through Georgia
    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2010/10/19/blogging-through-georgia/

    Reply

  22. WigWag says:

    “My source for conservative religion losing its appeal to American young people is an article in the Los Angeles Times from October 17, 2010 by Robert Putnam and David Campbell” (David Billington)
    I’ve selected two charts that I thought you might enjoy looking at; the first provides a summary of age distributions by religious tradition and the second provides a summary of the percentage of the population comprised by each religious tradition.
    http://religions.pewforum.org/comparisons#
    http://religions.pewforum.org/affiliations
    Two points come to point: (1)while young people tend to be less religious than then middle aged and older people, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the view of religion one has when one is young carries over into later life. In fact, I think that there is significant evidence that people become more religious as they age. (2)Evangelical churches in the United States now have more adherents than main line Protestant churches or even the Roman Catholic Church. The pews are overflowing in the evangelical churches while they are increasingly empty in the mainline churches (the Roman Catholic church is benefiting from an increase in the Hispanic population in the United States but increasingly evangelical churches are as well).
    Of course there is no way to predict with certainty what, if any, consequences this will have on how Americans view Israel, Zionism or anything else. But it is fair to say that a significant percentage of evangelicals and the evangelical clergy is staunchly pro-Israel; while church-going people in the mainline denominations and their clergy tend to be less pro-Israel (to the extent that they think about it at all).
    As evangelical churches continue to win the demographic battle and as mainline Protestant churches in the United States limp towards extinction, its reasonable to guess that the United States public opinion is likely to grow even more pro-Israel over time.
    Of course, only time will tell.

    Reply

  23. Dan Kervick says:

    “… explains why you are content to go with the flow of international opinion, even if reverses its judgment of similar situations from one decade to the next.”
    If the rules are not sensible, I am happy to support new and revised ones. But in this case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the rules, decisions and resolutions in question reflect perfectly civilized standards proscribing the acquisition of territory by force and the use of violence against non-combatants.
    While the United States has made it very plain that it supports the second kind of rule, outlawing terrorism, it is a shame that our country has waffled on the first kind, and refused to take a clear stand against blatantly aggressive territorial expansion by Israel. There is nothing in the least deficient about the rules here, only the enforcement is lacking.

    Reply

  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Heres a list of bills the Knesset is slated to consider. As every month passes, the terms “racist” and “anti-democratic” become more and more apropos in describing Israel.
    http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2010/10/18/the-israeli-knessets-anti-democratic-agenda/

    Reply

  25. David Billington says:

    Sorry the entire link in my last post didn’t underline. If you want to
    reach the article, copy and paste the whole link into your browser
    search field.

    Reply

  26. David Billington says:

    “By the way, I disagree with your statement that ‘given the
    declining appeal of conservative religion to young people in the
    United States, Israel may not benefit from conservative religious
    support in the future.’ Actually various charismatic forms of
    Protestantism and Pentecostalism are the fastest growing
    religious movements not only in the United States but around
    the world.” (Wigwag)
    My source for conservative religion losing its appeal to American
    young people is an article in the Los Angeles Times from
    October 17, 2010 by Robert Putnam and David Campbell:
    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-
    1017-putnam-religion-20101017,0,6283320.story
    You may be right about the appeal of Pentacostalism and other
    forms of Protestantism in Latin America and Africa but I don’t
    see any benefit if religious rivalries intensify as a result.
    America and Israel both need a world in which there is less
    religious tension.

    Reply

  27. nadine says:

    “I don’t believe the law need derive its prestige and respectability from any antecedent moral law, divine law or from natural law. People are rule-making animals. ” (Dan Kervick)
    True. Rule-breaking animals too. But even little children show a longing for justice.
    Perhaps your declared lack of any need for transcendent explains why you are content to go with the flow of international opinion, even if reverses its judgment of similar situations from one decade to the next.

    Reply

  28. Dan Kervick says:

    “That’s one way of conceding the point about J Streets habitual lying. But not a very gracious one.”
    How does one move logically from “I don’t want to get involved in that argument” to “I am taking one side in that argument?”
    “An odd objection. If “the rules the world tries to establish and live by” are not a moral authority, what are they? If they have no moral authority, why should anyone obey them?”
    I believe in the rule of law, and in the practical human wisdom embodied therein. I don’t believe the law need derive its prestige and respectability from any antecedent moral law, divine law or from natural law. People are rule-making animals. We have a practical need to organize our lives and find ways of cooperating and coexisting with other human beings for our common benefit, and so we develop rules to live by. Even children spontaneously create and adjudicate rules to govern the games they invent.
    Supporting and sustaining useful rules of order is as rational as supporting and preserving the cities and houses people have built. Our common human needs and our appreciation for practical solutions to practical problems of social coordination and social preservation provide all the warrant we need for respecting and upholding the law.

    Reply

  29. Sand says:

    OT: but thought some of you might be interested. Hedges view is not particularly optimistic — but what is nowadays.
    Video: Chris Hedges on

    Reply

  30. Sand says:

    And as for ‘Ackerman’ — oh no conspiracy there… on his ‘dual’ political life.
    Clemons: “…During my trips to the region, I have been dumbfounded and really shocked by some of the stories that are spun about American intentions in the world, or Jewish control of media and finance, or just completely fabricated nonsense that doesn’t stand up to reason…”
    Nah, I bet the Middle East don’t read our newspapers.
    New Yorker: “…At a conference last fall in Israel, Saban described his formula. His

    Reply

  31. Sand says:

    For “J, Oct 19 2010, 2:41PM” on Schumer’s ‘dual’ political life:
    “….However, the voice of New York

    Reply

  32. WigWag says:

    “First, a handful of individual ministers called for Jewish restoration to Palestine in the 17th and 19th centuries, so there is certainly precedent for Zionism in American Christian thought, but in no sense was this a major aim of Protestant Christianity.” (David Billington)
    The history of Christian Zionism and Restorationism in both the United States and Great Britain is interesting. There is no question that restoring the Jewish people to their historic homeland in Palestine was a Christian idea (at least in modern times) far more than it was a Jewish idea. From the 18th century forward the recreation of the Jewish homeland in Palestine became an abiding preoccupation of a variety of Christian sects in both the United States and Great Britain; the idea was viewed with anything but hostility by the Ottoman Turks who enjoyed an excellent relationship with their Jewish subjects. Actually the Ottoman’s had a far better relationship with the Jews than they had with the Arabs who they generally considered to be barbarians.
    In the United States, from the 1850s, the various dispensationalist movements began to gather strength and there may currently be as many as 40-50 million Protestants in the United States who practice forms of Protestantism sympathetic to Zionism. As attendance at mainline churches in the United States has plummeted, attendance at Churches sympathetic to the Christian Zionist movement has literally exploded. Some people mistakenly date the rapid growth of Christian Zionism to the release of the movie and novel, “The Late, Great Planet Earth” in 1970 and suggest that Christian Zionism has reached its greatest point with the publication of the “Left Behind” series. I think this is exaggerated; Christian Zionism has been expanding in the United States for the better part of 150 years.
    Interestingly, the negative reaction to Christian Zionism that we see from mainline churches today was also present in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 19th century, American missionaries built a series of universities and hospitals throughout the Arab lands of the Ottoman Empire. These missionaries were not what we think of when we think of missionaries today; they weren’t southern evangelicals or Mormons from Utah, they were white, upper middle class and wealthy Wasps mostly from the Northeast and mostly from what today we call the mainline churches. Remember that most of the Ivy League Schools including Harvard and Yale had strong missionary traditions. These missionary organizations opposed returning Jews to Palestine because they opposed anything that would stir up the religious passions of the region’s Muslims; they favored a communal non-religious identity for the Arabs because they believed that in the long run, this would make it easier for them to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and convert the Muslims to what they thought was the true faith.
    By the way, I disagree with your statement that “given the declining appeal of conservative religion to young people in the United States, Israel may not benefit from conservative religious support in the future.” Actually various charismatic forms of Protestantism and Pentecostalism are the fastest growing religious movements not only in the United States but around the world. In the global south, the growth of Pentecostal churches dwarfs the growth of Islam. In these nations, Islam is growing because of the fecundity of Islamic populations but there is relatively little growth by conversion. In the global south, Christian fecundity equals Muslim fecundity but Christianity is gaining converts at a rate not seen in more than a thousand years. Many if not most of these churches have a dispensationalist bent; they are enthusiastic about Zionism and Israel and they have a deeply problematic and violent relationship to Islam. In my view, these are trends that make it likely that both Zionism and Israel will be growing increasingly popular in both the United States and what we used to call the third world. At the same time, hostility to Islam is likely to increase.

    Reply

  33. nadine says:

    “No one is saying that Jews have no historical connection to Jerusalem.” (MarkL)
    Actually, many people are saying just that, chiefly the Palestinians, who literally deny that there was ever a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount, or any Jewish history in Palestine at all. The Left is adapting their views.
    “-and we all know that ethnic cleansing was an anticipated and essential element of Zionism even in the 19th century. ”
    Why, no, why would anybody have thought any ethnic cleansing was necessary? 19th century Palestine was so underpopulated – Jerusalem with only 20,000 was its largest town – that the early Zionists regarded their project as repopulating an empty land. Those few Arabs who were there were welcome to stay. Remember, there had been no Arab political control of any part of the then dying Ottoman empire since about 1500. Nobody even thought of Arabs and politics in the same sentence.
    If you want to get an accurate picture, it is super important to read primary materials from contemporary sources.

    Reply

  34. DakotabornKansan says:
  35. MarkL says:

    Nadine,
    No one is saying that Jews have no historical connection to Jerusalem.
    However, there’s a long stretch between having a connection and having a right to invade, occupy and ethnically cleanse a region—and we all know that ethnic cleansing was an anticipated and essential element of Zionism even in the 19th century.

    Reply

  36. John Waring says:

    I think this contribution by Jerome Slater is timely. Please read:
    http://www.jeromeslater.com/2010/10/benny-morris-former-historian.html

    Reply

  37. nadine says:

    “I keep my Irish heritage in mind every time I hear someone speak with hatred toward our fellow human beings. Today, we hear similar mythologies, stereotypes, and half-truths about Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims that alarmingly and tragically shape our views about them.”
    Dakota, one set of stereotypes neither validates nor invalidates another, nor does weakness automatically convey virtue. May I suggest you dig for some facts instead of musing on romaticized visions of your Irish ancestors?

    Reply

  38. nadine says:

    “Nadine, I really have no interest in getting involved in any purely intra-Jewish discussions about intra-Jewish organizations and affairs. ” (Dan Kervick)
    That’s one way of conceding the point about J Streets habitual lying. But not a very gracious one.
    “But I would say that a strong focus on discrediting and attacking individual enemies, whether the attacks have merit in themselves or don’t, is a pronounced trait of US pro-Israel advocacy.”
    Considering how ready the anti-Israel advocates have been to wave the hoary tropes of dual loyalty and Jewish cabals, this is a remarkable instance of projection – accusing your opponents of doing what you do.

    Reply

  39. nadine says:

    “Nadine,
    are you really arguing that the historical population patterns of Palestine for the last 200 years are the basis for the Jewish claim to land, or are you saying that Jews should get Jerusalem and nothing else?”
    Neither. I’m countering the ahistorical argument that the Zionists seized Israel based on no connection to the land but 3000 year old Biblical claims.
    “By the way, when one speaks of the historical population of Jerusalem, do those figures represent the population of the same area over time?”
    I don’t understand what you mean by this. The figures represent the city of Jerusalem, which was only about 20,000 in the mid 19th century, but is about 800,000 today.

    Reply

  40. nadine says:

    “And none of this has to do with appealing to “moral authority”. These are the the rules the world tries to establish and live by, not some abstract transcendent law.”
    An odd objection. If “the rules the world tries to establish and live by” are not a moral authority, what are they? If they have no moral authority, why should anyone obey them?
    “And there is now something fairly close to a global consensus, expressed through numerous independent states and regional organizations, that the colonies and additions Israel has attempted to make since 1967 are not acceptable, and ought not be accepted. Among the world’s most powerful nations, only the US really waffles on this question.”
    But the independent states you speak of comprise the UN and follow its rulings closely. Can you think of an example where the UN has definitely sided with one side of an international dispute, but your “numerous independent states and regional organizations” have taken the other side? I cannot, can you?

    Reply

  41. MarkL says:

    Nadine,
    are you really arguing that the historical population patterns of Palestine for the last 200 years are the basis for the Jewish claim to land, or are you saying that Jews should get Jerusalem and nothing else? By the way, when one speaks of the historical population of Jerusalem, do those figures represent the population of the same area over time?

    Reply

  42. DakotabornKansan says:
  43. Dan Kervick says:

    Nadine, I really have no interest in getting involved in any purely intra-Jewish discussions about intra-Jewish organizations and affairs. My main point was that since this issue has already received a great deal of publicity and attention within the Jewish community, one does not have to appeal to covert organized agitation to explain why some people already have a lot of knowledge of the debate. It is an existing bandwagon that anyone can jump on.
    But I would say that a strong focus on discrediting and attacking individual enemies, whether the attacks have merit in themselves or don’t, is a pronounced trait of US pro-Israel advocacy.

    Reply

  44. Dan Kervick says:

    “So the UN is your ultimate moral authority? Would you agree with that statement?”
    No, the international community is more than than the UN, and the community speaks and establishes standards, norms and precedents in many ways, not just through UN resolutions. What gave legitimacy to Israel’s declaration of a state in 1947 was the sheer number of states that recognized that new state, and the additional number that have recognized it in the years sense. That form of legitimation would exist even if there were no UN.
    And there is now something fairly close to a global consensus, expressed through numerous independent states and regional organizations, that the colonies and additions Israel has attempted to make since 1967 are not acceptable, and ought not be accepted. Among the world’s most powerful nations, only the US really waffles on this question.
    And none of this has to do with appealing to “moral authority”. These are the the rules the world tries to establish and live by, not some abstract transcendent law.

    Reply

  45. David Billington says:

    Wigwag – In the post by Walter Russell Mead to which you link,
    Meads writes as follows:
    “Support for the construction of a Jewish state in the Holy Land
    has been an important part of American Christian and political
    thought going back to colonial times. The ideas of Jewish
    exceptionalism and American exceptionalism have been bound
    together in the American mind for more than two hundred
    years. During the Cold War, Americans gradually got into the
    habit of considering Israel one of our most valuable and reliable
    allies. In recent years this longstanding association has been
    substantially strengthened by the widespread public belief that
    the same people who most hate Israel and want to bring it down
    are the bitter enemies of the United States and will stop at
    nothing to kill as many American civilians as they possibly can.”
    Professor Mead is trying to make a case for Israel but his points
    are problematical to me for four reasons.
    First, a handful of individual ministers called for Jewish
    restoration to Palestine in the 17th and 19th centuries, so there
    is certainly precedent for Zionism in American Christian
    thought, but in no sense was this a major aim of Protestant
    Christianity.
    Second, the ties between conservative Christians and Israelis
    today are ambivalent. There is genuine sympathy for Israel on
    one side and genuine gratitude for friendship in a hostile world
    on the other. But it cannot be denied that each side has
    incompatible reasons for extending or accepting support. Given
    the declining appeal of conservative religion to young people in
    the United States, Israel may not benefit from conservative
    religious support in the future.
    Third, Mead appears to identify the ethos of modern Zionism
    with the ethos of early white settlement in America. Historically
    this is not true: Jews were returning to a land that was their
    home, while Puritans settling in New England were not. But
    more to the point, if pro-Israel sentiment in the United States
    becomes equated to a white American identity, then support for
    Israel will decline as the percentage of white Americans
    declines. Support for Israel should have to do with shared
    principles that any nation or people could hold.
    Finally, regarding common enemies today, it is true that al-
    Qaida and Iran are hostile to America and Israel, but America
    has the option of withdrawing from the Middle East while Israel
    does not. Israel doesn’t want to lose American support, but for
    its longer-term future it needs to have viable options besides
    dependence on the United States.

    Reply

  46. nadine says:

    “The “Soros flap” has been a cause celebre in the US pro-Israel Jewish press for a couple of weeks now. And it is business as usual for Jewish-American zionists to attack individuals on the basis of allegations about their associations and character, rather than stick to arguments.”
    We are sticking to arguments, Dan Kervick: the argument is that J Street lied about its funding and its purposes. It is not the pro-Israel group it claims to be. It is an anti-Israel pro-Iran group flying under false colors. George Soros does not fund pro-Israel groups. Why else did Jeremy Ben-Ami feel the need to lie about his support?

    Reply

  47. nadine says:

    “”So what is the essential difference that makes you regard the truce lines of 1948 as legitimate, but the truce lines of 1967 as illegitimate?”
    The statements and decisions of the international community.” (Dan Kervick)
    So the UN is your ultimate moral authority? Would you agree with that statement?

    Reply

  48. nadine says:

    Paul, what the Palestinians have got is a prosperous life on international welfare (for the ruling elites and their whole apparat, perhaps one third of the population), a very successful propaganda campaign, as demonstrated by your counter-factual descriptions of Israel “theft”, and a sense that they are sitting pretty while they wait for their delegitimization campaign to bear fruit.
    This ties into the strain of thought among Arabs that Jews are too cowardly to manage a state, so Israel will dissolve some time or other.
    And all they need to do while waiting is periodically whine about how oppressed they are. There’s an entire industry of NGOs, funded (here’s the beauty part) by European governments and leftist philanthropists, which will act as the megaphone for any such report, no questions asked. Tell me, did your Bergen papers report that a settler had run down two boys in Silwan/East Jerusalem and driven away?

    Reply

  49. nadine says:

    MarkL, I said Jews were a majority of Jerusalem for the last 200 years, not 2000. That is correct.

    Reply

  50. J says:

    Youve called Nir Rosen a middle east expert and had him write on your blog numerous times. Currently Nir Rosen is calling for a third intifada (via twitter) and hoping that this time it will include Arab citizens of Israel. His twitter Icon shows an AK47 over all of Israel/Palestine.
    Youve called Max Blumenthal a great journalist and linked to many of his videos. Max has repeatedly used the word Zionist as a perjorative and is facebook friends with Gilad Atzmon – who describes himself as an anti-Jew and like the questioner in the video – said a liberal Zionist is like saying liberal Nazi.
    So after all of this you are going to whine about conspiracy theorists twisting the words of your friend who really really loves Israel? Thats like me letting Trent Lott write on my blog, calling David Duke a brilliant social commentator – and then complain that my good Republican friend gets called a racist when he really is just a humanist who wants everyone to be understood.

    Reply

  51. J says:

    And when you imply that a Jewish Senator – Chuck Schumer, should be serving in the Knesset rather than the Senate (that post by the way garnered hundreds of comments on the supposed dual-loyalty of American Jews) – you don’t think you are the one fanning the flames of conspiracy theory? How would you describe your behavior when you think anyone with an opinion on Israel not to your liking is less of an American?
    The only conspiracy theory is the one espoused about the “Israel Lobby” which your friends like MJ Rosenberg and Juan Cole use to call journalists like Jeff Goldberg “not an American” and as part of some vast foreign conspiracy instead of a fellow American who has a different opinion than yours. No one cares about some no name blogger Omri – but thousands of people read Juan Cole and yourself tell us that American politicians should be in the Knesset because they dont agree with you. Look in the mirror Steve.

    Reply

  52. Carroll says:

    Well…I demand apology for this.
    And oh yeah, I also want an apology from the other Rabbi who wrote the book about how killing gentiles and their babies was justified.
    http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=191782
    Yosef: Gentiles exist only to serve Jews
    By JONAH MANDEL
    10/18/2010 05:13
    Major rabbi says non-Jews are donkeys, created to serve Jews
    A major Jewish religious figure in Israel has likened non-Jews to donkeys and beasts of burden, saying the main reason for their very existence is to serve Jews.
    Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual mentor of the religious fundamentalist party, Shas, which represents Middle Eastern Jews, reportedly said during a Sabbath homily earlier this week that “the sole purpose of non-Jews is to serve Jews.” Yosef is considered a major religious leader in Israel who enjoys the allegiance of hundreds of thousands of followers.
    Shas is a chief coalition partner in the current Israeli government,
    Yosef, also a former Chief Rabbi of Israel, was quoted by the right-wing newspaper, the Jerusalem Post, as saying that the basic function of a goy, a derogatory word for a gentile, was to serve Jews.
    “Non-Jews were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world-only to serve the People of Israel,” Yosef said in his weekly Saturday night sermon which was devoted to laws regarding actions non-Jews are permitted to perform on the Sabbath.
    Yosef also reportedly said that the lives of non-Jews in Israel are preserved by God in order to prevent losses to Jews.
    Yosef, widely considered a prominent Torah sage and authority on the interpretation of Talmud, a basic Jewish scripture, held a comparison between animals of burden and non-Jews.
    “In Israel, death has no dominion over them.With gentiles, it will be like any person-They need to die, but God will give them longevity. Why? Imagine that one’s donkey would die, they’d lose their money.
    “This is his servant.That’s why he gets a long life, to work well for this Jew.”
    Yosef further elucidated his ideas about the servitude of gentiles to Jews, asking “why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap; and we will sit like an effendi and eat.”
    “That is why gentiles were created.”

    Reply

  53. Carroll says:

    Well…I demand apology for this.
    And oh yeah, I also want an apology from the other Rabbi who wrote the book about how killing gentiles and their babies was justified.
    http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=191782
    Yosef: Gentiles exist only to serve Jews
    By JONAH MANDEL
    10/18/2010 05:13
    Major rabbi says non-Jews are donkeys, created to serve Jews
    A major Jewish religious figure in Israel has likened non-Jews to donkeys and beasts of burden, saying the main reason for their very existence is to serve Jews.
    Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual mentor of the religious fundamentalist party, Shas, which represents Middle Eastern Jews, reportedly said during a Sabbath homily earlier this week that “the sole purpose of non-Jews is to serve Jews.” Yosef is considered a major religious leader in Israel who enjoys the allegiance of hundreds of thousands of followers.
    Shas is a chief coalition partner in the current Israeli government,
    Yosef, also a former Chief Rabbi of Israel, was quoted by the right-wing newspaper, the Jerusalem Post, as saying that the basic function of a goy, a derogatory word for a gentile, was to serve Jews.
    “Non-Jews were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world-only to serve the People of Israel,” Yosef said in his weekly Saturday night sermon which was devoted to laws regarding actions non-Jews are permitted to perform on the Sabbath.
    Yosef also reportedly said that the lives of non-Jews in Israel are preserved by God in order to prevent losses to Jews.
    Yosef, widely considered a prominent Torah sage and authority on the interpretation of Talmud, a basic Jewish scripture, held a comparison between animals of burden and non-Jews.
    “In Israel, death has no dominion over them.With gentiles, it will be like any person-They need to die, but God will give them longevity. Why? Imagine that one’s donkey would die, they’d lose their money.
    “This is his servant.That’s why he gets a long life, to work well for this Jew.”
    Yosef further elucidated his ideas about the servitude of gentiles to Jews, asking “why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap; and we will sit like an effendi and eat.”
    “That is why gentiles were created.”

    Reply

  54. Carroll says:

    Well…I demand apology for this.
    And oh yeah, I also want an apology from the other Rabbi who wrote the book about how killing gentiles and their babies was justified.
    http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=191782
    Yosef: Gentiles exist only to serve Jews
    By JONAH MANDEL
    10/18/2010 05:13
    Major rabbi says non-Jews are donkeys, created to serve Jews
    A major Jewish religious figure in Israel has likened non-Jews to donkeys and beasts of burden, saying the main reason for their very existence is to serve Jews.
    Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual mentor of the religious fundamentalist party, Shas, which represents Middle Eastern Jews, reportedly said during a Sabbath homily earlier this week that “the sole purpose of non-Jews is to serve Jews.” Yosef is considered a major religious leader in Israel who enjoys the allegiance of hundreds of thousands of followers.
    Shas is a chief coalition partner in the current Israeli government,
    Yosef, also a former Chief Rabbi of Israel, was quoted by the right-wing newspaper, the Jerusalem Post, as saying that the basic function of a goy, a derogatory word for a gentile, was to serve Jews.
    “Non-Jews were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world-only to serve the People of Israel,” Yosef said in his weekly Saturday night sermon which was devoted to laws regarding actions non-Jews are permitted to perform on the Sabbath.
    Yosef also reportedly said that the lives of non-Jews in Israel are preserved by God in order to prevent losses to Jews.
    Yosef, widely considered a prominent Torah sage and authority on the interpretation of Talmud, a basic Jewish scripture, held a comparison between animals of burden and non-Jews.
    “In Israel, death has no dominion over them.With gentiles, it will be like any person-They need to die, but God will give them longevity. Why? Imagine that one’s donkey would die, they’d lose their money.
    “This is his servant.That’s why he gets a long life, to work well for this Jew.”
    Yosef further elucidated his ideas about the servitude of gentiles to Jews, asking “why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap; and we will sit like an effendi and eat.”
    “That is why gentiles were created.”

    Reply

  55. WigWag says:

    By the way, if Daniel Levy would like to learn about the fallacy of the J-Street approach, he should read the critique of J-Street currently featured on Walter Russell Mead’s blog. Mead’s critique is devastating.
    Mead’s post, entitled “The Problem with J-Street” can be found here,
    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/

    Reply

  56. WigWag says:

    What’s interesting is that Jeremy Ben Ami has apologized for his deliberate attempts to mislead J-Street donors, the press and the public, while the J-Street Board, which was complicit in J-Streets misinformation campaign, has remained mum.
    Ben-Ami said,
    “I accept responsibility personally for being less than clear about Mr. Soros

    Reply

  57. DakotabornKansan says:
  58. MarkL says:

    Nadine claims that Jews were a majority of the population of Jerusalem for most of the last 2000 years. A cursory search shows this to be completely ludicrous—to say nothing of using some common sense.
    So, Nadine,
    Please give a breakdown of the population in Jerusalem in each of the 10th through 15th centuries. I have read that the Jewish contingent was in the low hundreds in this period, which must have been a small fraction of the population. What are your numbers, and what non Joan Peters source do you have for them?

    Reply

  59. Paul Norheim says:

    Well Don, why don’t we put it this way: She rents a flat in a large
    building, waits for the right moment, and throws feces on her
    host. Then she starts shouting that he should “come clean”!

    Reply

  60. Dan Kervick says:

    The “Soros flap” has been a cause celebre in the US pro-Israel Jewish press for a couple of weeks now. And it is business as usual for Jewish-American zionists to attack individuals on the basis of allegations about their associations and character, rather than stick to arguments. Targeting fellow Jews who step out of line is a particularly popular pastime. It doesn’t take any special inside connections or inside knowledge to get involved in this game. It doesn’t take explicit instructions or marching orders. The traditional pro-Israel community frequently acts with a great deal of spontaneous solidarity and also responds to signals from prominent figures and organizations. They read the same magazines, newspapers and missives, and spread the word of their own accord. Anyone who keeps up with this branch of the media knows the issues and targets of the week, and can act accordingly.
    And the attacks are completely predictable. We’ve all seen the rapid and ever-evolving changes on these monthly shit lists. Identifying enemies and targeting them is SOP for the pro-Israel community, just as it is customary to reward compliant behavior by disseminating and promoting flattering stories. That’s just the way they roll. For example, the ADL just released an enemies list a couple of weeks ago. And one can take a stroll through the internet any day to find list upon list of “self-hating Jews” and other sundry enemies of Israel. Part of the uptick right now is probably due to a drive to stanch the flow of money and speech during the election campaign, and to fire abundant warning shots that give candidates the willies about associations deemed dangerous by the Friends of Israel.

    Reply

  61. DonS says:

    “What we’re seeing is just a blog commenter’s attempt to
    discredit his host – a WigWag speciality. “(Paul N)
    Given Wigwag’s rhetorical approach, I would say more ‘intimidation’ than only ‘discredit’.

    Reply

  62. Dan Kervick says:

    “So what is the essential difference that makes you regard the truce lines of 1948 as legitimate, but the truce lines of 1967 as illegitimate?”
    The statements and decisions of the international community.

    Reply

  63. Paul Norheim says:

    “And so the game of getting everything through piece-by-
    piece concessions goes on.”
    What have they got so far?
    The only thing we (and by “we” I mean the whole world) notice
    right now is the Israelis TAKING everything through piece-by-
    piece land grabs, and the Palestinians finding the theft of their
    land intolerable.
    Your partisan loyalty deserves a more nobel case, Nadine.
    You’re defending gangsters. And although what Mussolini did
    when he attacked Ethiopia in 1936 is in no way comparable to
    the Israel/Palestine situation, the reaction of the world
    community is certainly comparable. The Italian gangsters
    attacked a defenseless nation in 1936, and the League of
    Nations just watched. Right now some gangsters in the Middle
    East are grabbing land belonging to others, stealing it piece-
    by-piece, right in front of our eyes, and the United Nations is
    just watching.
    Well, except for the United States of America, of course, who
    rewards the gangsters by sending them money and the latest
    high-tech weapons, while in public asking the gangsters to
    take a pause in their activities. What a farce.
    And again: I think your fighting spirit deserves a nobler cause
    than defending thieves 24/7. What a shame.

    Reply

  64. nadine says:

    Paul, I merely see Wigwag acquainting herself with the background and connections of TWN and other bloggers, which makes eminent sense when dealing with DC lobbying groups like J Street or think tanks like New America Foundation. To make the best sense of what they write, you need to figure out who is funding them, for what purpose, who staffs them, and what their background, connections and probable aspirations are. If she sees something to criticize, naturally this background info will come into play. I don’t see that as ‘discrediting’ so much as informed criticism.
    As for Daniel Levy’s attitude, let me just ask you this: why is he apologizing for “an act that was wrong” and understanding why the Palestinians think there is “no justice” in the creation of Israel WITHOUT demanding a reciprocal understanding from the Palestinians? He talks about mutual understanding but we never see any; he never demands a quid pro quo.
    Levy, like most of his far-left ilk, lays Israel open (whether wittingly or unwittingly) to the tyranny of the unreasonable man over the reasonable one: the Israelis say “sorry, sorry, our existence is wrong, have some concessions, please accept our existence” and the Palestinians keep repeating “you are thieves who deserve to die, and you just admitted as much. You must give everything back.” And so the game of getting everything through piece-by-piece concessions goes on.

    Reply

  65. Paul Norheim says:

    As for the topic of this thread, I’ll restrict myself to expressing
    my admiration for Daniel Levy’s attempt to acknowledge the fact
    that we’re dealing with two incompatible narratives here – and
    his suggested practical and pragmatic approach to this:
    “And that means wrapping ones head around the humanity of
    both sides. I believe that where Jewish history was in 1948
    excused, for me – it was good enough for me – an act that was
    wrong. I don’t expect Palestinians to think that. I have no reason
    – there is no reason – that Palestinians should think there was
    justice in the creation of Israel. But if we’re going to live as
    neighbors or in one state, one has to begin to develop an
    understanding and a respect for who the other is.”

    Reply

  66. Paul Norheim says:

    Nadine, what concerns me in this debate is the systematic
    pattern behind WigWag’s latest attack – a pattern of
    establishing herself as a commenter on blogs hosted by
    high profile people whom she disagrees with on Israel;
    and then, when she sees an opportunity, fiercely attack
    their moral character and credibility based on empty
    speculations (as in this case); research on their
    connections (Clemons/Leverett) and funding (Walt); as well
    as unproved allegations from other sources (Leverett).
    I randomly stumbled upon these attempts to discredit the
    hosts; and who knows – maybe this is just the tip of the
    iceberg? The three examples I mentioned above are,
    however, sufficient to clearly show that there is a pattern
    behind WigWag’s latest ad hominem attack, and a political
    motive behind his modus operandi.
    I’m sure you, of all the commenters here, know what I’m
    talking about?

    Reply

  67. nadine says:

    Paul, as far as I can see it’s not so much that Daniel Levy lied himself, but that he covered for Jeremy Ben-Ami, who lied repeatedly about J Street’s actions and funding.
    Ben-Ami denied that J Street worked with NIAC to help block Iran sanctions; that Daniel Levy had worked to introduce Richard Goldstone on the hill; that George Soros was funding J Street; that Collette Avitail had told a Washington Times reporter that she was distancing herself from J Street because of these activities.
    Jeremy Ben-Ami is a serial liar and a not a bright one; he tells lies that are easily exposed. I suppose he’s confident that the MSM won’t make much of the story because he’s a fellow ‘progressive’, which indeed they have not.
    Daniel Levy definitely knew that some of Ben Ami’s lies were lies – he knew that he had escorted Goldstone to Congress even as Ben Ami denied it. But he went along with it. So it’s a charge, not an insinuation.

    Reply

  68. Carroll says:

    OT, but if anyone here follows Ken Silverstein at Washington Babylon like I do…bad news, he’s leaving…good newes, he’ll be doing investigations.
    September 29, 11:37 AM
    Signing Out
    This is my last post here at Washington Babylon and I

    Reply

  69. Paul Norheim says:

    Correction: “If this fact implies that he’s seen all the
    skeletons in their closets, he should have been behind bars
    years ago.”

    Reply

  70. Paul Norheim says:

    “Wigwag does seem to have particular back channel info
    that is damning to anything that would promote peace.”
    (NeoControl)
    Well, everyone knows that Steve Clemons and Daniel Levy
    know each other – they both work for the NAF. I don’t
    possess any “particular back channel info”; but even I
    knew years ago that Steve knows George Soros – I think I
    read it in the Financial Times. Or perhaps at The
    Washington Note.
    Back channel info? No, the thing is that the usually polite
    WigWag is also passionately devoted to one of her many
    hobbies: insinuations. It works like this: She starts
    commenting on a blog hosted by someone who disagrees
    with her views on Israel. She starts studying their
    background, their connections, the funding of their
    profession etc. And after a while, she attacks them of
    being dishonest, of hiding certain circumstances.
    As a commenter on Steve Walt’s blog, for example, and
    also Flynt Leverett’s blog, she’s been tirelessly insinuating
    stuff against them – fiercely attacking one of being a liar
    about his alleged connections to the Iranian government,
    the other of not being open about who is funding him at
    Harvard, and thus being a hypocrite and so forth.
    So here we go again. It’s public knowledge that Steve
    Clemons knows Soros and Levy – and now WigWag thinks
    it’s time to insinuate that Steve is implied in “the scandal”:
    he knows them, ergo he’s been hiding the fact that J-
    Street “lied”.
    Based on what? Just empty speculations, of course. Steve
    Clemons happens to know many people, and many of
    them are very powerful people. If this fact implies that he’s
    seen all the skeletons in their closets, he’d certainly be in
    jail many years ago.
    WigWag says: “My advice to Daniel Levy, Steve Clemons
    and George Soros would be to stop obfuscating and come
    clean.”
    What we’re seeing is just a blog commenter’s attempt to
    discredit his host – a WigWag speciality. And there is a
    pattern here: a blogger devoted to attempts to discredit
    critics of Israel’s current policies, and critics of Israel’s
    American defenders.
    My advise to WigWag is that she should stop obfuscating,
    and to admit that her comments above are parts of a clear
    pattern: a systematic attempt to damage the reputation of
    the hosts of blogs where she establish herself as a
    commenter. She tries to push her respective hosts in the
    gutter, and then she ask them to “come clean.”
    Of course, there is no reason for Steve to respond in
    public to this.

    Reply

  71. nadine says:

    “But even though Israel conquered most of Palestine in 1948 war, and the area of Haifa was more than 95% Arab in the early 20th century, I don’t think the Israelis should have to give Haifa back to the Arabs.”
    They conquered all of Palestine in the 1967 war, plus the Golan and the Sinai. Their Arab neighbors recognized neither result. So what is the essential difference that makes you regard the truce lines of 1948 as legitimate, but the truce lines of 1967 as illegitimate?

    Reply

  72. Dan Kervick says:

    “Yes, but how did it become a Polish city and when? Hint: in 1939 it was a German-speaking city in Germany called Danzig.”
    Ah, I see.
    But even though Israel conquered most of Palestine in 1948 war, and the area of Haifa was more than 95% Arab in the early 20th century, I don’t think the Israelis should have to give Haifa back to the Arabs.

    Reply

  73. nadine says:

    “Gdansk is in Poland, right? Poland has borders. Those borders are recognized. It’s a Polish city.”
    Yes, but how did it become a Polish city and when? Hint: in 1939 it was a German-speaking city in Germany called Danzig.

    Reply

  74. Dan Kervick says:

    “Gdansk a Polish city or a German one, and by rights, which ought it to be?”
    Gdansk is in Poland, right? Poland has borders. Those borders are recognized. It’s a Polish city.
    The West Bank isn’t in Israel.

    Reply

  75. DonS says:

    “Since then, there has been a systematic campaign – which Soros has been a major funder of, while we’re on the subject of Soros – to delegitimize the idea of a Jewish state and even to deny the existence of Jews as a people or Jewish history as fact.” (nadine)
    Surely, nadine, you’re remotely familiar with the law of libel?
    “He (Levy) said that J Street would be happy to take money from Soros while deliberately leaving the impression that it never had.” (wigwag)
    So, the assertion that J Street is on board with receiving money from Soros Foundation is somehow translated into a denial that J Street is receptive to Soros money?
    Something about double negatives Wigwag? Or the absence of something being equivalent to the resence of something else? Hardly rises to the positive assertion of “lying” you so readily hurl. Maybe you haven’t heard of libel law?

    Reply

  76. WigWag says:

    “But what really gets me — beyond the misreading of Levy — is the conspiracism running rampant without challenge. We have lots of other blogs running with the innuendo-intoxicated and false conspiracy framework asserting that since Soros funds J Street and Soros hates Israel (wrong by the way!) that Daniel Levy has finally shown his stripes as an Israel-hater too.” (Steve Clemons)
    Steve’s plea for an end to “conspiracism” is really little more than a plea to allow Levy to escape from the consequences of his own lies. Even assuming ad arguendo that everything Steve says in his post is true, Levy’s reputation isn’t salvaged; in fact it

    Reply

  77. nadine says:

    Dakota, Israel has seen the last 20 years of negotiation used as the launching pad for a campaign for the total delegitimization of the Jewish state, in any boundaries. Remember, when the UN Partition created Israel, it was created as “the Jewish state” – Palestine was to be partitioned between a Jewish and an Arab state. There was no pussyfooting back then about whether “Jewish” was an illegitimate national designation.
    Since then, there has been a systematic campaign – which Soros has been a major funder of, while we’re on the subject of Soros – to delegitimize the idea of a Jewish state and even to deny the existence of Jews as a people or Jewish history as fact.
    The Israelis need to know that a peace treaty will bring peace, not an Hamas controlled staging ground in the West Bank preparing for all-out war. Demanding recognition of Israel as the Jewish state is shorthand for it. If the Palestinians are not willing to recognize the Jewish state – you can see they are not – what are the chances they would be content to live next door to it in peace?

    Reply

  78. DakotabornKansan says:

    The outrage [and there is a lot of it; example post by WigWag] about Daniel Levy reminds me of Tony Judt, who was also a target of similar ferocious attacks seven years ago.
    Was Judt right about the Middle East peace process being finished?

    Reply

  79. PissedOffAmerican says:

    But, uh hey, Nadine, as you are obviously online and posting, how do you feel about people that will dump raw sewage on their neighbors? Does that fall under the heading of “right to protect themselves”?

    Reply

  80. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Don’t you know we’re everywhere, POA?”
    No, really, if that was true I’d wear taller boots.

    Reply

  81. Neo Controll says:

    Wigwag reappears, somewhat blasphemously, Nadine becomes energized in her neocon finery.
    Wigwag does seem to have particular back channel info that is damning to anything that would promote peace.

    Reply

  82. nadine says:

    Ooh, now POA find Wigwag’s depth of knowledge suspicious too. Splendid! Don’t you know we’re everywhere, POA? And if you’re really nice to us, maybe we’ll let you continue to post.

    Reply

  83. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “We don’t even know the circumstances of the remote ancestors of contemporary Jews. Many Jews in the Roman diaspora left Palestine before the revolt, simply to seek their fortune elsewhere in the cosmopolitan Roman empire. No effort has ever been made to distinguish those whose ancestors left willingly from those whose ancestors were expelled. But even to venture into such arcane areas of speculative demographics and genetics as an approach to live political problems, and to attempt to found usable and rational standards of international order on competitions of biblical archaeologists and paleogeneticists, is as dotty as it would be to make rules implementing the endangered species act on the basis of studies of woolly mammoth DNA.”
    Gads Dan, a whole paragraph that can be summarized by your comment on another thread that utilized the word “absurd”, and only required one sentence of few words. The above paragraph has a degree of redundancy that is unneccesary given the ease and simplicity with which one can describe an argument founded on blather. “Absurd” fits the bill rather nicely.
    (It just occurred to me, upon reading this comment, that I too am injecting a degree of blather into the debate. Oops.)

    Reply

  84. nadine says:

    “What is the

    Reply

  85. PissedOffAmerican says:

    It seems Wig-wag has an extensive and specific argument that, on its face, seems to imply a deep knowledge of the issue. Quite remarkable for a Florida retiree unconnected to any organized effort to control or affect the narrative.
    I find it ironic that J-Street is portrayed as anti-Israel, when in fact it is the policies of Israel, marketed, defended, and condoned by AIPAC that will be Israel’s downfall.

    Reply

  86. nadine says:

    One more question, Dan: Is Gdansk a Polish city or a German one, and by rights, which ought it to be?

    Reply

  87. nadine says:

    Dan, nobody was expelled on the basis of Biblical claims. The Zionists bought the the land to build their Jewish homeland; the numbers of Arabs in direct proximity to the Zionist project did not decrease in the years 1880-1948; on the contrary, they rose fivefold or more.
    The Arab refugee crisis of 1948 was the child of the Arab war of attempted ethnic cleansing and genocide, as was the corresponding Jewish refugee crisis. The same Arab states who started and lost the war (and succeeding wars) have deliberately perpetuated the Arab refugee crisis for the last 60 years. Those are also facts which cannot be airbrushed out of “mature reflection”.
    “The horrors of the holocaust, the practical impossibility of replacing all the milk that has been already spilled, and the international recognitions and rules that have already been established, mean that we can’t go back and start again 1n 1918”
    The problem with this statement is the Hamas holds very different notions from you about what is or is not a practical impossibility. Destroying Israel and killing or driving out all its Jews seems very practical to them; if they can’t do it at the moment, they are sure Allah will provide the means to the faithful Real Soon Now. You are assuming certain moral impediments to action (like not killing several million Jews) that are no impediment at all to Hamas, Hizbullah, et. al.
    The other ideological problem is that is that Israel, like every other country on the globe, needs more than mere possession of its territory; its right to exist must be acknowledged, or it will continue to be undermined. “Gee, we ought to go back to 1918 but unfortunately it’s not practical” is not a right to exist. It’s tolerance of of wrong – a sense of wrongful existence which is extended to no nation on earth, not even murderous basket cases like North Korea or Zimbabwe.

    Reply

  88. Dan Kervick says:

    For about 1500 years, Jews were a small minority in Palestine. The very notion that such a minority and its dispersed global cousins a remote kin should have been permitted to lay claim to the vast swathe of that territory Israelis now control, and to expel the current residents from that territory, on the basis of long-ago events from the biblical age when some of their ancestors were inhabitants of Palestine, is utterly insane. The credibility and currency lent to that insane and childishly unrealistic notion by cynical and opportunistic western diplomats and statesmen in the 20th century, allowing sheer goofiness to creep into our international discourse and acquire the status of quasi-legitimate considerations, is a threat to global order. The threat is not just a theory; its reality has been proven through the blood and destabilization that has accompanied the zionist colonization movement and the predictable reaction to that movement.
    We don’t even know the circumstances of the remote ancestors of contemporary Jews. Many Jews in the Roman diaspora left Palestine before the revolt, simply to seek their fortune elsewhere in the cosmopolitan Roman empire. No effort has ever been made to distinguish those whose ancestors left willingly from those whose ancestors were expelled. But even to venture into such arcane areas of speculative demographics and genetics as an approach to live political problems, and to attempt to found usable and rational standards of international order on competitions of biblical archaeologists and paleogeneticists, is as dotty as it would be to make rules implementing the endangered species act on the basis of studies of woolly mammoth DNA.
    The horrors of the holocaust, the practical impossibility of replacing all the milk that has been already spilled, and the international recognitions and rules that have already been established, mean that we can’t go back and start again 1n 1918. But that doesn’t mean we should continue to get lost in the crazed, crank obsessions and antiquarian pedantry that pass for mature reflection where this conflict is concerned.

    Reply

  89. nadine says:

    “Speaking of Jerusalem, did anyone see the 60 Minutes story last night about the controversial Israeli archeological dig site, called the “City of David”?”
    No, but thanks for mentioning it, I’ll have to look it up. Silwan is a messy case; for starters, 30 years ago it was a park, and is still zoned for open land. The Jerusalem authorities looked the other way as it was built up illegally. (Would that make the Arabs of Silwan settlers? Just asking) The Palestinians are now deliberately creating incidents at Silwan to counter the City of David discoveries and make it more Palestinian, as part of their national campaign of denying Jewish history.
    Yaacov Lozowick has the background on Silwan with aerial views http://yaacovlozowick.blogspot.com/2010/10/jerusalems-municipality-dereliction-in.html
    Barry Rubin talks about how the latest incident, sold to the media as an Israeli settler running down two boys in Silwan, was carefully prepared and created, with the cameras set up beforehand and recording the action from all angles: http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2010/10/news-being-manufactured-graphic-example.html
    “However, the implicit message of the Israelis is that because David conquered the city for the Jews way back then, Jerusalem belongs to the Jews today.”
    Not just back then — Jerusalem has been the capital of a Jewish state or province for most of the intervening 3000 years, and has always been the most sacred city to Jews. Seriously, do you think Jerusalem was an Arab city 100 years ago, or 200? No, it was mostly Jews, and Christians came second in population, Muslims third.
    The only periods when there have been no Jews in Jerusalem is when the occupying power slaughtered them and forbade them to come back: in Rome after the suppression of the 2nd Jewish rebellion in the second century CE, and during the Crusader kingdom. So the Israelis are hardly just coming back after a 3000 year holiday. If they look to history to strengthen their claim, don’t countries all over the globe do the same when they hold contested cities?

    Reply

  90. nadine says:

    Hi Steve,
    Nice try but this defense won’t cut the mustard.
    The plain reading of Daniel Levy’s answer was that he did not push back against the questioner’s anti-Semitic declaration of Zionism as racism (I use the word “anti-Semitic” advisedly), but only pleaded special circumstances for the “act that was wrong” of Israel’s creation, and urged a two state solution on utilitarian grounds. Israel exists, so Daniel Levy doesn’t want to destroy it.
    This is not a pro-Israel position. You cannot say or implicitly agree that, of all the nation-states and national movements for self-determination on earth, only Jewish nationalism is unacceptable racism, and leave the Israeli state with any foundational right to exist. Especially when it is surrounded by enemies who openly declare that they DO want to destroy it. I understand that Daniel Levy would disagree, but most supporters of Israel believe he is deluding himself on this point.
    Now, people have a right to hold anti-Israel positions; that is not Daniel Levy’s problem. Daniel Levy’s problem is that he is a cofounder of J Street, an organization that claimed to be pro-Israel, but holds more pro-Iran than pro-Israel positions.
    J Street’s problems have been compounded by Jeremy Ben Ami’s lying about the sources of its funding. Everybody knows that George Soros funds left-wing, anti-Israel organizations — there’s no “conspiracy” about it, Soros doesn’t deny what he does, why should he? and how could one man be a conspiracy? — so everybody understands that an organization which Soros funds is most unlikely to be pro-Israel. Which is precisely why Ben Ami felt compelled to lie about it. Now that the lie has been exposed, J Street does not look good, nor those most connected with it.
    Further, when it became known that J Street championed Richard Goldstone on the hill, who is toxic in Israel across the whole political spectrum, J Street looked downright anti-Israel.
    The basic problem is that J Street has been lying about its purpose and its funding. You’re not going to be able fix that by claiming that Omri Cern took Daniel Levy’s words out of context. But I do give you credit for noticing the conspiracism of the Middle East. However, it is the Left in Europe and America, who have declared themselves allies of Middle Eastern conspiracy-mongers, and have caught the disease the worst.

    Reply

  91. Cee says:

    Another conspiracy
    Feds Confirm Mumbai Plotter Trained With Terrorists While Working for DEA
    by Sebastian Rotella
    ProPublica, Oct. 16, 2010, 11:04 p.m.
    Feds Confirm Mumbai Plotter Trained With Terrorists While Working for DEA [1]
    U.S. Embassy Didn

    Reply

  92. Carroll says:

    “Conspiracism”….?
    Wow!
    Are you going to send Levy a bill for this everything but the kitchen sink thrown in defense…LOL. You should.

    Reply

  93. DonS says:

    I truly appreciate Steve Clemons’ efforts to bring rationality to all sides of debate. When it comes to looking at American-based conspiracy, fear, xenophobia, thuggery, it’s hard to deny that the right wing flag wavers have it all over the rest. It is they who appropriate the mantle of patriot which, while it might not get slavishly repeated in the media, does not garner the barely civilized reportage of those who would favor inclusiveness. For example, the NY mosque brouhaha.
    I second too, contempt for the barely disguised calumny hurled Soros’ direction while the scurrilous John Bolton receives prime time as a respected elder statesman. Recognizing ‘conspiracism’ of all stripes is fine; recognizing it in a lopsided way is not so fine. Correcting the slanted perception of David Levy’s presentation is right and fine. But we should not kid ourselves that, overall, there is anything resembling a level playing field, primarily in the American media, when it comes to representing Israeli vs Palestinian matters. We are barely disguised cheerleaders for Israel while it’s as easy as falling off a log to rile up anti-Muslim fervor. Which is not to make excuses for any bad behavior, but what is lost is exactly the ability of “getting policy right” that Steve begs for.
    To my mind, there is a wide gulf between rational policy work and policy positions and outcomes driven by emotional fearmongering and lying. I have no more reason to trust the John Boltons and Pamela Gellers of this world in their myopic crusading fervor that the Israelis have to trust the Palestinians, or the Palestinians have to trust the Israelis. I don’t think they, the crusading right, are operating in good faith but on uncompromising victory or nothing mentality. It may be a sincerely held obsession, but it’s a one sided obsession none the less.

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  94. DakotabornKansan says:

    Speaking of Jerusalem, did anyone see the 60 Minutes story last night about the controversial Israeli archeological dig site, called the “City of David”?
    Remember President Clinton

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  95. DakotabornKansan says:

    Recall the words of candidate Obama,

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  96. questions says:

    Steve,
    Thank you for this post.
    People can have very significant differences of opinion, belief, and value based on their particular perspective. They can advocate widely different courses of action, think that responses to situations should be one thing or another WITHOUT being paid propagandists.
    Ain’t it amazing?

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  97. DakotabornKansan says:

    “But what really gets me — beyond the misreading of Levy — is the conspiracism running rampant without challenge. We have lots of other blogs running with the innuendo-intoxicated and false conspiracy framework asserting that since Soros funds J Street and Soros hates Israel (wrong by the way!) that Daniel Levy has finally shown his stripes as an Israel-hater too.”
    We seem to have a blind spot when it comes to Israel. Even the thought of possible worthy alternatives to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is heresy to so many. And why is this?

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  98. JohnH says:

    No conspiracy? How do you explain neocons and their bizarre brand of foreign policy, based largely on deception and support for the schemes of a certain foreign government?

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  99. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “During my trips to the region, I have been dumbfounded and really shocked by some of the stories that are spun about American intentions in the world, or Jewish control of media and finance, or just completely fabricated nonsense that doesn’t stand up to reason”
    I dislike the general use of “conspiracy theory” to explain away events or narratives that are uncomfortable to examine specifically, particularly when actual debate threatens an official narrative. 9/11 is a good example, as no matter where you stand in your opinion of the so-called “truther” movement, there are very real and pressing questions about the event that were swept under the rug by “The Commission”, and those questions go unanswered under the strategy of labeling them “conspiracy theory”.
    “….or Jewish control of media and finance….”
    As one career journalist after another falls from grace, has their career destroyed, for criticizing Israel.
    Seen Emily on the mainstream news?
    http://thirstypixels.blogspot.com/
    Film of an American citizen being executed while lying prone and helpless on the deck of a ship? Seen Maddow or Olberman touch the Isr/Pal issue in any substantive, honest, or informative manner?
    Actually, often times, the “conspiracy” is the act of labeling the possible or actual truth about an event as mere “conspiracy theory”. I had someone tell me the other day that saying Israel attacked an American warship was a “conspiracy theory”, that it didn’t really happen. Apparently, as Steve well knows, branding the honest depiction of events as “conspiracy theory” is often quite successful at discrediting the truth.
    And now, as we see Netanyahu’s actions and policies, is it a “conspiracy theory” to state that he is purposely derailing any hopes for constructive “direct talks”?? Or is it “conspiracy theory” to question the “humanity” of a community that floods the property of their Palestinian neighbors with raw sewage, or sets fire to their olive groves?

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  100. John Waring says:

    I view Daniel Levy as a voice of sanity on these issues. Everything he writes I read. I wish we had several thousand more of him.

    Reply

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