My Celebrity Against Your Celebrity in the Gaza Stand-off

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250px-Rafael_Nadal_by_toga.jpgI’m sympathetic to the Obama administration’s view that Israel’s blockade of Gaza in order to keep weapons from Hamas does not equate to starving and punishing the Gazan people.
Israel is relaxing some parts of its grip on the blockade — and making some openings in the roster of banned items, but this is going to be a battle fought by public relations agents on each side for a while.
What I worry about is the tendency to escalate assaults on the blockade through celebrities. This report suggests that even Wimbledon champion and Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal may be considering joining Freedom Flotilla 2.
With all due respect to those celebrities who want to put themselves on the line for various global justice causes, this doesn’t really change people’s minds about the Gaza mess. This kind of antic tends to make people scream more loudly views that they already hold.
That is not progress — and not a constructive use of a celebrity’s ‘celebrity’.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

63 comments on “My Celebrity Against Your Celebrity in the Gaza Stand-off

  1. questions says:

    It’s a shame, JohnH, that you don’t have a parodist’s skill. Paul Norheim nailed me a couple of years ago and did a skillful job. The above remark doesn’t cut it.

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  2. JohnH says:

    The author’s recommendations deal with matters too complex and too full off hidden consequences to merit serious attention. Whatever the author suggests cannot possibly happen, so why bother? (spoken like questions.)

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  3. questions says:

    http://www.realisticdove.org/buy-the-book/
    It deserves a second mention.
    Not that I’ve read it yet.

    Reply

  4. JohnH says:

    Have fun wrapping yourself around the axel!

    Reply

  5. questions says:

    JohnH,
    Just give me a break already. Your role in the universe is that of deciderator. Fine. Go make some decisions. I’m sure the country will follow your lead, as you are clearly in charge of decidings. Decidedly. Good.
    But since I’m NOT in charge of decision-making, I have the luxury of thinking about ramifications of decisions. And I have the lovely luxury of typing away at them between other tasks in my life.
    And I would guess actually that much of what I am concerned about regarding foreign policy issues actually is pretty standard fare for the field. I don’t think I bring in points from outer space, or wherever. It’s pretty standard policy thinking.
    Do you really think that the foreign policy establishment doesn’t think through contingency plans, alternates, concerns for what to do should things go wrong, understandings of local history and politics… in many many directions?
    They run through contingencies and the hope is that they do it well. Given the findings on how little effect facts have on ideological commitment, however, it seems clear that the contingency planning is insufficient for the job.
    OR, to go back over the same material in a different way, wouldn’t your preference have been that the Bush admin actually thought through the ramifications of the war??! Maybe even BEFORE they launched it??!
    Of course you want careful thinking. You want planning. You want contingencies. You want ruminations. You want the cud-chewing, bullshit watching.
    But you only want it when you have already come to your conclusion and the current policy choice isn’t one you’d have picked.
    But once you’ve made up YOUR mind, you’re happy. So you already know what we should do about Af/Pak, I/P, the Gulf oil leak or whatever. No more thinking needed as the deciderator hath decided.
    BUT, man oh man would you have preferred a whole lot more thinking on Bush/Cheney’s part before the war and on Obama’s part during the campaign.
    So please stop with the rhetorical line that questions uses too many words, or questions was a 4-legged ruminant in a previous life, or questions…..
    The thinking through and around the wide range of consequences is crucial.
    The understanding of institutional pressures and structures is crucial.
    Trying to figure out just what kinds of unintended consequences we might bump into is utterly necessary for any and all courses of action.
    Economic analysis is pretty important.
    Shifting international alliances is fraught with risk and needs to be approached carefully.
    Energy issues are central to the economy. Wait til gas spikes to 6 bucks a gallon and then listen to, say, POA complain about what it does to his line of work…. He was flipping out at 4 bucks a gallon. To the extent that these wars may help with keeping energy prices down, we all benefit at the expense of someone else’s misery. Gotta think it through. It sucks, but there you go.
    Re-election calculations matter. The whole political apparatus has to be thought through.
    We would have loved to have had BP do far better risk analysis. Umm, ANALYSIS. Not action.
    So please, again, chill out with the impatience. It’s such a fake emotion on a blog. No one is doing anything because of what’s posted here. No one is actually a deciderator around here. It’s fine to take time, worry an issue, apply some basic IR theory to it and so on.
    It’s really ok. Regardless of all the decisions you’ve ever deciderated.
    (And yes, all of this applies across many fields including immigration and the environment and the economy. Funny how there are some basic thought processes that apply broadly. Wow. Some things are related to each other and it isn’t actually 10th grade, kindergarten, or little red schoolhousey to see the patterns. But, maybe it is as pattern recognition is something they try to teach to pre-schoolers using 3 kinds of noodles and some glue. “Macaroni, shell, spaghetti, macaroni, shell, spaghetti….”)
    So I think I will spend the day burping up some methane and working on a single blade of grass.
    And you, JohnH, will clearly spend the day fixing what ails us. Thank you for that.

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  6. nadine says:

    Since nail bombs have long been a Hamas speciality, and they routinely blame Israel every time they have a “work accident”, you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t take the word of the Palestinian authorities (=Hamas) for the origin of this Beit Hanoun bomb.
    Remember the family tragically killed on the Gaza beach, who were originally reported as being shelled by the Israeli Navy? later even Hamas had to admit the family had stepped on a Hamas mine.

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  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hurt at West Bank Protest, U.S. Student Fights Fees
    By ISABEL KERSHNER
    Published: July 27, 2010
    JERUSALEM

    Reply

  8. JohnH says:

    questions, in a prior life I think you must have been a ruminant, chewing your cud, regurgitating some more, and chewing on that. It’s the life of a ruminant.
    I spent my career analyzing data, identifying trends, recommending action, and selling my conclusions to get funding. Where I worked, constant rumination, over analysis, and second guessing got you fired.

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  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gaza children shelled by flechette bombs
    Adie Mormech writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 27 July 2010

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  10. questions says:

    JohnH,
    I guess you have a significant policy-making position and you post here to, ummm, well, why do you post here?
    For me, I learn stuff, I read more, I have fun. If I have a good idea, that’s a bonus.
    But you really do miss the point of analysis if you think that the alternatives are sitting in silos/ivory towers and ACTING (without analysis, I guess.)
    I offer what I offer. If you hate it that much or think it’s that pointless, don’t read it or implore Steve to ask me to stop wasting bandwidth.

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  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Who said anything about “banning” you? If anyone should be banned, I’m a far more eligible candidate than you are.
    Its not that I don’t think you should be posting here, or don’t have a right to. Its just that I’m sick of your shit.
    Counter what “points”??? You couldn’t offer a “point” if your life depended on it, other than your point that there ain’t no point.
    Kinda like how I feel about reading your ceaseless crap.
    On another note…..
    Israel demolishes Bedouin village
    Forty-five Bedoiun villages are not recognised
    by Israeli authorities [Gallo/Getty]
    Israeli authorities have demolished the homes of about 300 Bedouins in a village in the southern Negev desert.
    The entire village of al-Arakib was bulldozed on Tuesday, with many of the former residents’ cattle, trees and belongings lost.
    Al-Arakib, which had about 40 homes, is one of 45 Bedouin villages not recognised by Israeli authorities.
    Haia Noach, director of the Negev Co-existence Forum, was present at al-Arakib during the demolition and said that at least five Israeli bulldozers arrived around 5:30am (0230GMT).
    Israeli police used megaphones to order the village residents to evacuate, and the demolishing process lasted around three hours, he said.
    Speaking from a town near Beersheba, Noach said that many of the residents had moved to a nearby graveyard to find shade.
    Evacuation notice
    He said Israeli authorities had first given residents of al-Arakib a notice to evacaute on June 15, but that no action had followed, so the residents began to doubt that the demolition would occur.
    But this morning, Israeli police arrived and forced residents to leave their homes within minutes, Noach said.
    The demolition team destroyed water tanks and removed generators.
    “It’s like a declaration of war. They don’t want you here,” Noach said. “It’s unthinkable.”
    The residents are now waiting for aid and will probably set up makeshift tents and facilities on the scene, Noach said.
    According to the Negev Co-existence Forum,around half of the 155,000 Bedouins in the Negev – all of whom are Israeli citizens – live in villages that are unrecognised by the government.
    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/07/201072774211397266.html
    Hmmm, I don’t see the Jewish State bulldozing any Jewish settlements of consequence, do you? Must mean they “recognize” them, eh? Funny how that works, isn’t it?
    These fuckin’ racists put a bunch of kids out on the “street”, (the desert actually, no dumpster diving for these kids). But hey, God forbid any celebs get involved. A mainstream media outlet might actually make a squeek or two about it.
    Nothing to see here, folks, move along. Just another instance of Jews being victimized and being forced to “defend” themselves. After all, there was a holocaust, you know. It was terrible. Did you know about the holocaust??? Yep, Jews were forced out of their homes, oppressed, killed, discriminated against. Haven’t you heard? Its the Jews that are the victims. Always the Jews.

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  12. JohnH says:

    questions said, “since I don’t set foreign policy for the US, I don’t feel it incumbent upon me to come up with definite policy prescriptions.”
    So what’s the point of all your analysis-paralysis–to sit in your little ivory tower and feel smug about your comprehensive understanding about all facets of all problems?
    Do you remember the poem “first they came for the …s”? Lots of people sat in their little silos back then (and still are).
    Oh, I know, it could not be prevented, so why bother? Some might call that position appeasement.

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  13. questions says:

    Hey, POA, take it up with Steve! Give him a call or a private e-mail and ask him either to ban me or to ask me to stop posting. He asks, I’ll stop. Otherwise, cope.
    And if you think reading is generally acceptable, then maybe you shouldn’t post things about how bad reading is. Hmmm. There’s an idea.
    And if I knew how to import images, I’d put in some little red schoolhouses right here!
    Oh, and a sentence following another sentence seems to me to be a better writing style than, say, an expletive following another expletive!
    (For example, POA writes:
    “Screw you.
    Truth is, questions, I doubt you can wipe your own ass with engaging in some sort of internal decision making process that inevitably ends up with five people waiting in line ouside the door.”) (I think that’s “screw” and asswipe, one after the other. Nice technique!)
    But we all have our own writing styles….
    Feel free by the way to take any one of my posts and do a point-by-point analysis of the lack of content. Quote a sentence of mine and explain how it says nothing at all, and then go on to the next.
    I’m looking forward to the dialogue!
    (By the way, aren’t all library cards bar coded or rfi/proximity cards at this point?)

    Reply

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “The book reading thing, by the way, is a reference to POA’s dismay that anyone ever reads books or refers to them”
    Screw you.
    Truth is, questions, I doubt you can wipe your own ass with engaging in some sort of internal decision making process that inevitably ends up with five people waiting in line ouside the door.
    I read, and enjoy it. But the decisions I make on a day to day basis are more a result of my life experience than they are of the amount of stamps on my library card.
    Frankly questions, I find you to be an intellectually pretentious asshole. I have yet to read something from you that I would even consider astute, much less usable. Its mostly just self stroking mental masturbation, and is rarely even particularly well written, clever, or thought out. One sentence after another, that I can only assume you pull out of your ass immediately after hitting the period key ending your last sentence.
    Its a real shame you can’t find a blog whose comment boxes are little pictures of schoolhouse blackboards, with cute little apple smileycons being awarded to whomever can chalk the least amount of useful information into the most amount of sentences.

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  15. questions says:

    Umm, JohnH,
    Nope.
    There’s no “don’t worry be happy” about me.
    And there’s no “turning a blind eye to great injustice”, either. See, that’s why I can get upset about the immigration issue from many sides, and others can only see one side — their own.
    There is a big step between analysis and policy. Policy has to do a bunch of stuff — it has to be physically possible (of course), it has to be politically possible (which many posters here in their zeal to DO THINGS miss out on), and it really shouldn’t make things worse than the status quo.
    I honestly don’t see what’s so “blind eye”ish about this or what’s so paralysis from analysis-y about it either.
    In fact, it’s the way policy needs to be set, and it’s actually the set of issues we should always be running through.
    In terms of not making things worse, there is a couple thousand years worth of really smart people who have analyzed all sorts of things about political situations and human behavior. These people are worth reading as we try to balance our concerns. Machiavelli is one smart dude. Nothing paralyzing about knowing some.
    In terms of figuring out what we as a society should be doing for each other and for ourselves, there are all sorts of other people whose writings are utterly worth consulting. Plato isn’t a bad guy to start with on this count.
    Carroll loves her some Geo. Washington and some Constitution — but these figures are in intellectual contexts and it actually helps to know the contexts. Like, for real.
    So, yeah, Kant gives a beautiful reading of the justification for the separation of executive and legislative functions in government. Why not look it over as we decide how strong an executive we want or are getting stuck with….
    At any rate, it’s sort of bizarre to have to defend reading and analyzing — or maybe not given a range of trends in this country…..
    The answer isn’t “And even if you did, you’ll only make things worse.” The real answer is to structure reforms so that they minimize the chances of making things worse. To get anywhere near that point, you have to do, ummm, analysis.
    Since I don’t set foreign policy for the US, I don’t feel it incumbent upon me to come up with definite policy prescriptions. But since Carroll does seem to be in charge of things, and I guess you, too JohnH, it’s good you all don’t need any analytic thinking at all. I like the fact that my nation’s top blog posters already know it all!

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  16. JohnH says:

    questions suffers from what’s known as analysis paralysis: “Things is complicated. They is complicated all over the place. Ther’s this thing thats called UNintended consequences. There is UNintended consequences in lots and lots of situations.”
    Therefore, we’re all better off turning a blind eye to great injustice–“Don’t worry. Be happy. You have no effect. And even if you did, you’ll only make things worse.”
    I wonder why no one bothered to tell Herzl and Zabotinsky? Almost all of us would be better off if they suffered from questions’ analysis-paralysis.

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  17. questions says:

    Here’s a little Kant just for your reading pleasure! It’s from the beginning of Perpetual Peace, and it should make some sense to you.
    http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/kant/kant1.htm
    “1. “No Treaty of Peace Shall Be Held Valid in Which There Is Tacitly Reserved Matter for a Future War”
    Otherwise a treaty would be only a truce, a suspension of hostilities but not peace, which means the end of all hostilities–so much so that even to attach the word “perpetual” to it is a dubious pleonasm. The causes for making future wars (which are perhaps unknown to the contracting parties) are without exception annihilated by the treaty of peace, even if they should be dug out of dusty documents by acute sleuthing. When one or both parties to a treaty of peace, being too exhausted to continue warring with each other, make a tacit reservation (reservatio mentalis) in regard to old claims to be elaborated only at some more favorable opportunity in the future, the treaty is made in bad faith, and we have an artifice worthy of the casuistry of a Jesuit. Considered by itself, it is beneath the dignity of a sovereign, just as the readiness to indulge in this kind of reasoning is unworthy of the dignity of his minister.
    But if, in consequence of enlightened concepts of statecraft, the glory of the state is placed in its continual aggrandizement by whatever means, my conclusion will appear merely academic and pedantic.
    2. “No Independent States, Large or Small, Shall Come under the Dominion of Another State by Inheritance, Exchange, Purchase, or Donation”
    A state is not, like the ground which it occupies, a piece of property (patrimonium). It is a society of men whom no one else has any right to command or to dispose except the state itself. It is a trunk with its own roots. But to incorporate it into another state, like a graft, is to destroy its existence as a moral person, reducing it to a thing; such incorporation thus contradicts the idea of the original contract without which no right over a people can be conceived.1
    Everyone knows to what dangers Europe, the only part of the world where this manner of acquisition is known, has been brought, even down to the most recent times, by the presumption that states could espouse one another; it is in part a new kind of industry for gaining ascendancy by means of family alliances and without expenditure of forces, and in part a way of extending one’s domain. Also the hiring-out of troops by one state to another, so that they can be used against an enemy not common to both, is to be counted under this principle; for in this manner the subjects, as though they were things to be manipulated at pleasure, are used and also used up.
    3. “Standing Armies (miles perpetuus) Shall in Time Be Totally Abolished”
    For they incessantly menace other states by their readiness to appear at all times prepared for war; they incite them to compete with each other in the number of armed men, and there is no limit to this. For this reason, the cost of peace finally becomes more oppressive than that of a short war, and consequently a standing army is itself a cause of offensive war waged in order to relieve the state of this burden. Add to this that to pay men to kill or to be killed seems to entail using them as mere machines and tools in the hand of another (the state), and this is hardly compatible with the rights of mankind in our own person. But the periodic and voluntary military exercises of citizens who thereby secure themselves and their country against foreign aggression are entirely different.
    The accumulation of treasure would have the same effect, for, of the three powers–the power of armies, of alliances, and of money–the third is perhaps the most dependable weapon. Such accumulation of treasure is regarded by other states as a threat of war, and if it were not for the difficulties in learning the amount, it would force the other state to make an early attack.
    4. “National Debts Shall Not Be Contracted with a View to the External Friction of States”
    This expedient of seeking aid within or without the state is above suspicion when the purpose is domestic economy (e.g., the improvement of roads, new settlements, establishment of stores against unfruitful years, etc.). But as an opposing machine in the antagonism of powers, a credit system which grows beyond sight and which is yet a safe debt for the present requirements–because all the creditors do not require payment at one time–constitutes a dangerous money power. This ingenious invention of a commercial people [England] in this century is dangerous because it is a war treasure which exceeds the treasures of all other states; it cannot be exhausted except by default of taxes (which is inevitable), though it can be long delayed by the stimulus to trade which occurs through the reaction of credit on industry and commerce. This facility in making war, together with the inclination to do so on the part of rulers–an inclination which seems inborn in human nature–is thus a great hindrance to perpetual peace. Therefore, to forbid this credit system must be a preliminary article of perpetual peace all the more because it must eventually entangle many innocent states in the inevitable bankruptcy and openly harm them. They are therefore justified in allying themselves against such a state and its measures.”
    **********
    Lots more where this came from…..

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  18. questions says:

    Ummm,
    Carroll,
    wrong again.
    Really really wrong.
    But that’s ok.
    Type away…comment is free!!!!!
    Kant isn’t an existentialist, nor am I. Haven’t read Sartre, actually. One day I might get around to it.
    For now, I’m working on some other books.
    “the symbolism from humans existing in human existence and so on and so forth” actually doesn’t make much sense, in case you were wondering.
    And no, not “free association” either.
    But that’s ok.

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  19. Carroll says:

    Posted by questions, Jul 27 2010, 2:44PM – Link
    “and read for meaning and symbolism instead of for plot”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    LOL…I get it now…TWN is your type pad for sort of free association thought and working out the confusion of existentialist thought and Kant and the meaning of the world and the symbolism from humans existing in human existence and so on and so forth.
    O.K., most of us left all that slobbering over the meaning of the world and it’s symbolisms behind in college.
    So basically you have no practical value to
    to the issues under discussion.
    But type away..comment is free.

    Reply

  20. questions says:

    And regarding your eyes — maybe it’s time to visit an ophthalmologist?

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  21. questions says:

    By the way, Kant is German, not Greek. And if you know so little about Plato that you don’t see the relation between Platonic thinking and current political issues, then maybe you should attend the kindergarten I went to!
    Sometimes it actually helps to realize that a contemporary political situation is not dissimilar to something someone noticed a couple thousand or a couple hundred years ago.
    The book reading thing, by the way, is a reference to POA’s dismay that anyone ever reads books or refers to them. Far better to refer to blog postings apparently. For they have stood the test of time! (If the link still works, that is….)

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  22. questions says:

    Carroll, think about it this way.
    Things is complicated.
    They is complicated all over the place.
    Ther’s this thing thats called UNintended consequences.
    There is UNintended consequences in lots and lots of situations.
    There is UNintended environmental stuff and unintended consequences in immigration reform and in education reform.
    People die from unintended consequences.
    They die when we think we’re saving them. Kinda fucked up, ain’t it.
    Is that really that hard to understand?
    The theme is UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES.
    Now I know that abstract thinking and finding likenesses across events is higher order and isn’t exactly literal, but if you work on it for a while you might get past that literal thing and read for meaning and symbolism instead of for plot. That’s most of what I learned in my kindergarten!

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  23. Carroll says:

    Posted by questions, Jul 27 2010, 5:26AM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Maybe you do need an evaluation after all questions.
    Your approach to every subject, especially Israel, is like an exploding bag of pop corn…all over the place.
    Opposition to and/or understanding of Israel is connected to world pollution, not reading enough books, Mexican immigration, school reform,Greek philosophers, universal unknowables,US domestic inequities,neighborhood development designs,the impossibility of conclusions due to a trillion pixiles of brain farts circulating in the universe and so on.
    I really don’t like picking on you but your ramblings make my eyes cross.
    Why don’t you try a mental exercise…take I/P, do an outline on what the conflict is about, leave aside all esoteric divining of motives that don’t apply to the actual reality which is that settling the conflict is about division and /or return of land and resources confiscated and colonized by Israel.
    Apply three real world standards…international law and justice, and sovereign rights both Israel and Palestine as a state are entitled to.
    See if you can just stick to addressing this specific issue and come up any objective absolutes.
    That I would like to read.

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  24. questions says:

    nadine,
    It’s fine to say it’s not starvation. Assuming the NYT or WaPo piece is accurate. Not having actually been there myself, I dunno, but I’ll grant it.
    The very same piece noted the lack of future, the overwhelmingly young and stressed population, the crowding, the lack of opportunity. The society-wide depression.
    It’s not a great place to live.
    There’s a huge elite/masses divide at this point as well.
    People feel no power over their lives, no way to shape their children’s future.
    The worst that the US offers its own citizens is not miles from what seems to be happening in Gaza. It’s bad here, it’s bad there.
    So don’t tell there’s no “plight,” please.
    And don’t tell me Israel can do nothing at all. I’m not where you are on the continuum, and I’m not at all where Carroll/POA are. I have a fine sense of the impossibilities, ironies, and tragedies of the situation. A fine sense of how people end up caught up in historical situations that make their private lives very difficult to live.
    And through all of this, I’m guessing there are some steps Israel can take to encourage somewhat better options for Gazans, even if some of the belligerence is justifiable.
    So, no, I’m not where you are. I don’t think that every decision, and every decision-making process, in Israel regarding the Palestinians and the Gazans specifically is smart, good, or even really self-serving in the right way.
    I think Israel’s responses, troop training, land use patterns, domestic politics, settler programs, currying of the far far religious right — all of this is problematic.
    It’s the kind of problem that lends itself to generational shifts, not sudden shifts, and to GOOD politicians rather than politicians whose main goal is to excite the base. They don’t need more rounds of Gingrich-style campaigners who push the buttons of the fear crowd. What goes for common sense on the right side of the spectrum in Israel, just like what goes for common sense in the Repub/Tea side of things here isn’t very sensible. But it does help with the election equation. At great cost to good policy outcomes, though.
    I am not a conservative, I do not have conservative keep-my-stuff-for-me, maximize my profits for me, what’s in it for me attitudes.
    So in the same breath that I worry about the Palestinian plight, I can worry about Mexicans who suffer so much that they will cross the border and live undocumented in the US doing our shit work. Sometimes it’s actually not about ME.
    And with all of this, I can see that destabilizing relations between countries or between gangs within a city can lead to a whole bunch of killings.
    DERRION ALBERT is a victim of school reform. He’s dead. POA doesn’t write about him because he’s not a Palestinian or a white guy victim of a Mexican illegal alien from Mars or whatever. You don’t write about him because he’s a victim of the corporatization of the schools, the kind of conservative thinking that closes “bad” schools, worries about test scores, and loses sight of the people involved.
    He wasn’t burned by white phosphorous. He wasn’t a suicide bomber. He was a kid walking home from school, with no school bus service, in a city ruled by “reformers.” He got reformed to death.
    Stupid school reform, stupid IR reform, stupid immigration reform….
    That stuff gets to me.

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  25. nadine says:

    “Because even if we UNDERSTOOD the plight of the Palestinians, we still have a differand situation — we can’t really hold both the Israelis’ plight and that of the the Palestinians in our heads at the same time. There is a choosing, and one undermines the existence of the other.”
    Which plight of the Palestinians are you talking about, questions, the one they tell the West or the one they tell each other? To the West, they are helpless victims of oppression who deserve a state, political support, and lots more money. To themselves, they are the brave resistance who will never compromise and make a deal but will endure forever until Israel vanishes. And then the West wonders why urging negotiations never gets anywhere. The stupid people conclude it must be entirely Israel’s fault because weakness is virtuous.

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  26. questions says:

    Yarg.
    No my point isn’t that change is impossible.
    Of course people don’t want to “go back”.
    BUT, there isn’t an easy 1-2 punch that will fix everything, either. Not in I/P, not in US race relations, not in any human relationship.
    And if you ask the parents of a kid who was shot by a random bullet what world they’d like to occupy, chances are it isn’t the world in which they currently live.
    And if you ask a family who has to choose between the electric bill and the school supplies which world they’d prefer, again it might not be this one, even though of course it’s not “that” one either.
    We haven’t made a paradise, we haven’t figured out which interventions work and which don’t. We might be pretty sure that what we’ve done is an improvement at some level, but maybe, just maybe, we could have done much much better had we been a little more careful.
    I’m not sure why it’s so hard to see that seeming world change isn’t necessarily world change, that taking bold steps is sometimes dumbfuck, that what soothes your current turmoil may simply introduce future horror.
    These are actually pretty basic notions and it’s actually not that hard to understand.
    We live in multiple, complex, interractive and interrelated systems. We fuck with one thing and the ripples form and travel throughout.
    There are so many examples of behavior that adhere to this basic point that I can’t quite see why you don’t quite see it.
    You have to do broad analysis to see what makes sense when you start fucking with people’s lives. We design entire lives on a current set of structures and when the structures are altered by well-meaning idiots, we pay.
    I was just reading about tall smoke stacks and scrubbers — turns out that these two environmental leaps forward are a major cause of acid rain. Turns out that though it seemed like a good idea at the time, cleansing industrial by-products of the large particles also cleansing same by-product of acid-neutralization.
    So you fix one problem and create a new one. One with international repercussions, by the way.
    The student loan program has enabled many many people to go to college. It also has opened the door to insane tuition hikes.
    Seat belts and anti-lock breaks make cars a lot safer. Then people drive in more risky ways and much of that safety is eaten up in new deaths and new kinds of injury.
    We have seemingly solved a range of food problems at the level of caloric intake and storage, and now we have an insane obesity epidemic.
    Every action has repercussions the likes of which we actually do need to wrestle with. And to that end, I wrestle with many of the overly simplistic “cures” people around here seem to toss out. Just pull out, just leave, just remove, just stop worrying — well, maybe not.
    Far better to know in advance some of the pitfalls and see if we can intervene before we fall into a new pit.
    And POA, the level of violence in your rhetoric should perhaps make you pause. I honestly don’t know how you square your sense of yourself as some profoundly deep humanitarian and the stuff you spew here. Persona? I doubt it. You disparage reading, thinking, puzzling in the name of some simplistic and foolish “morality” that is blinded by your own prejudices that you even deny you have because you are so self-certain that you already know everything there is to know. It’s pretty amazing, actually.
    There’s some good news for you, though. There’s a new study that shows that fewer people in the US are getting college degrees! We’re slipping down in international rankings now regarding college degrees. Think about the impact on reading books! You should be all warm and giggly at the thought!!!!!!!

    Reply

  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I see questions is offering his usual blablablah bag of fluff.
    I wonder, if he ever wanders off campus to a faculty party, does it usually end with someone smacking him in the mouth? Or are the guests generally better behaved than that, content in choosing to turn and walk away while questions is in mid-sentence?

    Reply

  28. JohnH says:

    BS, questions. Ask any black if he would prefer to live under Jim Crow racism. Ask any South African black if he wants to return to apartheid. Ask any women if she wants to return to the period before suffrage.
    The changes were palpable and significant. The elites gave something up. Most importantly, they chose to swallow their pride.
    Did the changes bring full equality? No. But the achievements were a lot more than your unduly pessimistic view of the world chooses to acknowledge.
    You seem stuck in the groove, “Change is impossible. Why bother?” Either you hope that is true for Israel’s sake, or that is your outlook on life. If so, I’m amazed that you summon the energy every day to get out of bed and post here. Life without hope is a bitch.

    Reply

  29. questions says:

    Not quite, JohnH.
    In fact, “we” “gave” rights to lots of people who don’t really have the rights “we” “gave” them because the giving wasn’t a particularly generous giving.
    Pay some attention to US demographics, urban poverty and the racialization of same, the immigration “debate,” the Sherrod affair and my oh my do you see that it’s not just the elites who have issues.
    Race issues in the US are far more settled than they are in Israel, but our border is heating up and we ought to be a little less judgmental about what “we” would do in Israel’s situation.
    Fact is, if things are ever going to be settled in I/P-land, they’re going to be settled by generational change on both sides, by the Palestinians’ giving up a fantasy of domination, by some third party force in between the two peoples, by some kind of major alliance shift that we might not like very much.
    No Love Boat flotilla with a bunch of rock stars is going to make the difference.
    Madonna’s adoptions are made fun of, Oprah’s involvements are often mocked as well. Star power is designed to further the star’s career, not to bring careful and serious attention to good solutions to real problems.
    And, besides, the solutions take a lot longer to take hold than people here seem to realize.
    The best to hope for regarding I/P is slow shifts in attitudes.

    Reply

  30. Dan Kervick says:

    “With all due respect to those celebrities who want to put themselves on the line for various global justice causes, this doesn’t really change people’s minds about the Gaza mess.”
    Maybe this is true; maybe it isn’t. But I don’t really understand what it is about this particular issue that would make it any less amenable to celebrity intervention than some other political issue. Maybe celebrities should have stayed out of Darfur, AIDS, debt relief, Bosnia and DADT as well. But in general, there seems to be some feeling that celebrity involvement in a cause can sometimes help attract attention to that cause in a constructive way, and Steve seems to have had no problem with other cases of celebrity political involvement. When Ben Afleck wanted to get involved in Middle East issues, Steve thought it was a great idea.
    If I had to bet, I would bet on the side of Nadal’s involvement having an overall positive effect in attracting more attention to, and sympathy for, Palestinian conditions in Gaza: Not really in America, mind you, but at in some other countries. American media wouldn’t cover Gaza if Jesus Christ and King David descended on a golden staircase from the heavens to join a freedom flotilla. But Nadal’s intervention might work somewhere else. Maybe at least a few thousand young tennis groupies will ask, “Mommy, where is Gaza?”
    As for the issue of dangerous emotions, well yes of course raising the emotional pitch on some issue could always lead to things spinning out of control in one direction or another. But hardly any major political change of note has occurred without engaging the passions and emotions of a great many people. History doesn’t progress by arguments. Arguments have an impact on opinion leaders, but mass change usually occurs through less cool and rational means.
    Nadal stands to lose a fair bit of money if he gets involved; so I’d at give him credit for putting his principles above his wallet if he goes through with this.

    Reply

  31. rc says:

    questions 12:12 — “Celebrities and their sexy-time emotions are great attention grabbers, …”
    Actually the celebrities are not the point — it is the millions of otherwise sleep walkers in the Matrix that may wake up for a second or two and ask some real questions of the magicians.
    And on from there down the posts, I’m afraid all this concern about ‘losing control’ is just the point — control stinks when it produces systems and processes that deliver these obnoxious outcomes. It needs to fail so that change can happen. That is what democracy is about. But it seems hard to see it as normal and having value when living in the fascist bubble.
    In some cases it is better that the system fails than a human dies. (verses the other way round which usually leads to crucifixion)
    The desired opposite of control is not chaos — it is change.

    Reply

  32. JohnH says:

    “The relationship is pathological, the denials of one another’s positions is central to each one’s identity.” This is another dead end.
    But the party in the dominant position can exercise what is called “strategic restraint.” We have the examples of the US Congress giving rights to blacks, Afrikaners giving rights to blacks, etc. What can’t Israel’s leaders do the same?
    The problem lies not with the emotions of the masses. The problem is the psychopathology of leaders like Shamir, Sharon, and Netanyahu, who chose to fuel the hatred of their followers instead of pursuing a path that would foster greater prosperity for all.

    Reply

  33. questions says:

    The point of a differend (typo above, sorry) is that neither side can logically legitimate the other side. The example Lyotard uses (which I’ve posted on previously around here) is that of a holocaust denier and a holocaust survivor — neither can accept the legitimacy of the other because each position is the negation of the other.
    When you have two positions that negate, or in Lyotard’s terms, annihilate, each other, it’s not like they’re going to come together and be BFFs suddenly. They cannot recognize one another and still be what they are. They would seem not to be able to resolve their differences into a new relationship or to occupy one another’s shoes or the like.
    The relationship is pathological, the denials of one another’s positions is central to each one’s identity.
    There isn’t a simple “ok, be done with the stupidity” thing that will resolve the tension. The two sides cannot admit the legitimacy of the other.
    I don’t think I/P is far from something like this in many instances, though there probably are plenty of individual exceptions.
    But I wonder what the basic conditions of THE most liberal Israelis would be. Would they accept Palestinian return? Palestinian military? Palestinian nukes? And what is THE most liberal position of the Palestinians? How little and how much would the extremes tolerate for peace? And I think even these most liberal people might have some issues.
    If anyone knows what the standard ultra lefty Israeli position is, toss in a link.

    Reply

  34. Don Bacon says:

    Emotionalism is a symptom, not a cause, an induced symptom in a quest for power and profit.
    “Why, of course the people don’t want war . . . But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship . . . Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country..” —Hermann Goering, 1946

    Reply

  35. JohnH says:

    questions–it is that “zero sum quality” that traps Israelis–either the Israelis get it all, or the Palestinians get it all. When people like Nadine argue, that is their point.
    Frankly, I’m sick and tired of zero sum games. Israelis would be much better off if they did not have to waste an enormous part of their GDP on making sure that the Palestinians don’t get any of their booty. Both Israelis and Palestinians could be put to more productive pursuits, raising the living standards of everyone.
    But IMHO Jewish Supremacists, which includes the Israeli government, would rather have a wog to flog than have a peace where everyone could prosper.

    Reply

  36. questions says:

    By the way, the translation issue is really interesting, but I wonder about mediation sometimes. I’m not sure that it’s always neutral, for the best, or what actually works.
    The stuff I’ve read about trust in multi-ethnic situations, the line Fallows had about how all these people in China were convinced he was George Bush (lack of cross-ethnic facial recognition) — it kind of makes me wonder if translation is the thing or not.
    Because even if we UNDERSTOOD the plight of the Palestinians, we still have a differand situation — we can’t really hold both the Israelis’ plight and that of the the Palestinians in our heads at the same time. There is a choosing, and one undermines the existence of the other.
    What we really want is not translation, then, perhaps, but transcendence. Or resolution of some dialectic or other into some new synthesis.
    But I kinda think that it’s up to the Palestinians and Israelis to work on the synthesis thing.
    There’s a piece floating around the web about the generational shift in US demographics. I meant to link to it here, but I never did. The basic point is that young people here are turning browner, but old people are unbelievably WHITE. All those white people (the boomers and older) are super super white (I think it’s 4/5) and the young people are super super brown.
    Old people don’t fund schools, old people are conservative and dumbfuck (ok, it IS a bit of a generalization!) The younger people are very different, though.
    We’re going to have an intergenerational culture war over values (gay marriage), and over values (money for schools or money for pensions).
    And probably over a bunch of other values, too. Where do kids get to play, where do we build nursing homes, how do we design city scapes and the like. It’ll be a long time before all the old white people actually die off.
    Can we translate brown youth into white age? How many old white people listen to hip hop? Wear their pants below their boxers, understand sending 5000 texts a month, spell “you” as “u” and so on? How many brown youth will tone it down when there are old white people around?
    They don’t just need translation, they need to become some new synthesis, some new unit. But I don’t know if the relation can be resolved so easily. The interests are really objectively different, and there is a zero sum quality here.
    (Kindergarten really was a busy year!!!!)

    Reply

  37. questions says:

    Paul,
    Nice reading of it all.
    The symbolism issue is certainly there and it both serves and is served by the calculative.
    But I’m guessing this is the case in every single human and national interaction.
    Everything is laden as well as calculative. In which case, there is a lot of room to pick and choose which side to emphasize at any moment.
    Somehow, I think though that star power so lacks the calculative moment and so misplaces much of the emotion that I’d just as soon they hung out doing something else.
    There’s a movie out called Get Him to the Greek which I think at some level hits on this theme. The “him” is a washed up star whose last album was profoundly offensive, but he didn’t quite understand how offensive it was. “The Greek” is a theater where he’s supposed to revive his career in order to help save a record label. “Get him to” is the buddy flick/travelogue side of things.
    I’m not sure that the aging rock star is the ideal character to have as our savior.
    The motives of stars are always already suspect — career, ignorance, career, and umm, career. Not quite what you want running things.
    I have significantly more respect for the insiders than some of the posters here, and I think that, given the structures involved in setting any kind of policy, people do a pretty decent job all in all.
    Somehow, I’d be very afraid if POA or Carroll were put in charge……

    Reply

  38. Paul Norheim says:

    Questions said: “The problem is that things will spin out of
    control when foreign policy is left to the emotions rather than
    to some reasonable calculation.
    I think it’s called realism, actually.”
    ————————————-
    Questions, you’re right. But my point above was that the I/P
    conflict is a priori also symbolic and emotional; it is to a large
    extent a symbolic warfare, even when the means are military.
    The israelis are, a priori – due to the Holocaust background –
    not realists, but emotionalists. And they use their emotional
    and symbolic capital all the time (look at Netanyahu’s
    speeches). And so do the Palestinians.
    You can’t easily separate realism and reasonable calculation
    from emotionalism in this conflict. Judaism is a huge part of
    “reality” here, and so is Islam. I tend to believe that what we
    Western secularists may call the real problems are entangled in
    religious and symbolic narratives and emotions that are
    impossible to separate from “realities”. If this is correct, and if
    both sides of the conflict have legitimate issues, bot sides
    deserve translators.
    The close Israeli ties with USA (emotional AND military) are
    among other things based on the fact that the Israeli symbols
    are easy to translate into the American culture; while the
    Palestinian symbols and emotions are very difficult to translate,
    and thus often seen as alien and threatening.
    Sure, Israel has the de facto monopoly on nuclear weapons, as
    well as superiority with regard to conventional weapons. But
    they also try to defend a monopoly on the symbolic level – i.e.
    Holocaust, giving them a moral high ground. Their actual
    military superiority is obvious vis a vis the Palestinians, but in
    the region, it is guaranteed by US support, which is basically
    achieved via symbolic arguments, that is converted to military
    security.
    Who are we to deny the Palestinians even the means of
    symbolic and emotional warfare? If terrorism is a desperate act,
    why deny them the symbolic weapons confronted with an
    enemy that is superior on all the other levels?
    And in that context, celebs function as translators to the
    American or international audience. I think the Palestinians
    deserve translators.

    Reply

  39. Matthew says:

    Steve, this is a truly disappointing column.
    Most disappointing is this stunningly erroneous statement: “I’m sympathetic to the Obama administration’s view that Israel’s blockade of Gaza in order to keep weapons from Hamas does not equate to starving and punishing the Gazan people.”
    Do you really believe this? If so, then any time you spent with Mr. Barghouti was clearly wasted.

    Reply

  40. JohnH says:

    Nadine’s best gem yet: she wonders “how to keep Hamas from gaining and using Iranian long-range missiles.”
    No need to worry, Nadine. Hamas won’t be getting Iranian missiles anytime soon.
    How can I be so sure? Most of the good targets in Israel are within 50 miles of Gaza.
    After gems like this one, it makes you wonder why Nadine’s handlers continue to employ her. I’d love to see her performance review!

    Reply

  41. JohnH says:

    questions nails it: “things will spin out of control when foreign policy is left to the emotions.”
    On this issue Steve seems to be trapped inside the Washington bubble that dares not inform or include the public in any decision.
    Effectively calling attention to Israel’s daily atrocities would doubtlessly arouse emotions and force action. Washington and Tel Aviv could no longer simply do their nasty deals behind closed doors, leaving the American people to be spun unconscious.
    Empowering the public is the greatest single threat to the national security mob and foreign policy “experts.”

    Reply

  42. erichwwk says:

    The Forgotten American
    By ROGER COHEN
    Published by NYT: July 26, 2010
    “O.K., enough said, that

    Reply

  43. questions says:

    Hey Carroll,
    Thanks for the promotion! 10th grade! Wow! Last graduation I remember was kindergarten! Who knew how much I’ve advanced since then!
    Woohoo! Diploma here I come (in another 20 or 30 years, I guess.)
    erichwwk,
    No, we haven’t lost our friggin’ minds. There are two separate realms you’re conflating (I learned that word in kindergarten, too!).
    There’s the moral side that values every life — for Kant, we have dignity, not price, and the not so moral side in which everything has price, not dignity. (Not Kantian, though.)
    When you do long term strategic planning of the power politics sort, your lost lives have dignity and not price (hence we do any and everything to avenge the 3000), and the other lives have price and not dignity.
    I get the feeling that no one has actually figured out a way to bridge the gap and ensure human dignity rather than human price.
    Kant’s Perpetual Peace (which I read in kindergarten!!) deals with these issues politically as they have come up in the Groundwork (which I also read in kindergarten — it was a busy year!)
    Perpetual Peace recognizes, even as the Groundwork does, that the “dear self” will always arise as a motivator, that we won’t follow the 5 or 6 easy steps to gaining perpetual peace and therefore we’re kind of stuck with the unfolding of a fairly cunning nature.
    That is, war will make us scatter, scattering will make us trade, trading will make us declare peace. We’re clearly not at the finish line here.
    The hope is to get some kind of good behavior out of the notion of selfish motivations because non-selfish motivations aren’t very, umm, motivational.
    Rawls does this following Kant (the original position and veil of ignorance figures are designed to get us to think about ourselves abstractly), Kant does this through the universal notion of the moral law (we give ourselves the law, but it’s a universal law), and my guess is that most religious ethical systems also focus on what happens to an individual who either behaves or doesn’t.
    The sad truth is that there isn’t anything to MAKE us good unless we choose an overarching good. And our choice fails to bind the choices of others.
    Here you suddenly see nadine’s basic point. Israel, in nadine’s sense at any rate, basically attempts to choose the good to the extent it can, but its choice doesn’t at all bind the choices of its adversaries, so there’s only so much good Israel is going to try to choose.
    Others here assume, to the contrary, that Israel simply chooses evil because it is simply, foundationally, evil and corrupt in its very being (a “Jewish” state, and in its leadership, Netanyahu).
    But if you step back a bit and think systemically, the way I learned in kindergarten, you start to see less evil and more choice architecture and structure.
    If we ever find a way to bind all of us to the good (this is the exit from the prisoners dilemma (which I read about in kindergarten as well)), then Israel doesn’t have to continue on its path.
    Around here, though, the coin of the realm is that there is this evil nation that must be destroyed….

    Reply

  44. erichwwk says:

    Anatol. Here’s what I wonder:
    I wonder why some Americans (former Sect of State Madame Albright and Governor Bill Richardson of NM) have no problem publicly proclaiming on National television that they have the right to kill 500,000 Iraqi children, but become outraged when a retaliation results in 3,000 American lives?
    Have we lost our friggin minds?????
    Genocide by Sanctions:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5487979130261522145#
    The British and Americans terrorists used planes to kill over 12,000 of my neighbors on Sept 11, with nary a word of protest or war crime prosecution.
    200 deaths. ONE violent death is a crime,and is not to be condoned but on the scale of state sponsored terrorism by the US and UK, 200 deaths are NOTHING. GET REAL.

    Reply

  45. Carroll says:

    I would like to know what Steve thinks a constructive use of celebrities celebrity would be and what issues it should be applied to.
    Maybe he will explain further.
    Oddly enough I just finished reading a fiction novel whose plot was about how a hired assassin was duped by some major arms and munitions suppliers into causing the accident that killed Princes Diana because her activism on land mines was a potential threat to their business profit in providing land mines to various governments.
    But maybe what we’re talking about here is celebrities being a threat to the “conventional influencers”. You know…the ‘very serious people’ of self perpetuating and never ending ‘processes’ like I/P.
    So if some celebrities become the ordinary people’s think tankers I say go for it…we could view it as finally having some political representation and spokespeople that can use our restricted media to reach the public.

    Reply

  46. sanitychecker says:

    anatol: Your stultifying ignorance about the I/P conflict wins you this thread hands-down.
    steve: would you rather have nadal comment on TWN?!
    Because *that* is effective!

    Reply

  47. anatol says:

    I wonder if relatives of any of the 200 people killed by al-Qaeda in Madrid train bombings will be joining Nadal. I wonder also what Nadal had to say at the time of that atrocity, and if he sees any links between the bombings and the blockade of Gaza.

    Reply

  48. Carroll says:

    Posted by questions, Jul 26 2010, 1:30PM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>
    You don’t require a psych evaluation.
    It’s just that your efforts are 10th grade level and therefore hard not to ridicule on serious subjects.
    I certainly don’t want you banned. You’re too good an example of the failure of our educational system to teach students to actually think and discern objectively..i.e…honestly.. instead of accepting and mimicking whatever their emotional feelings lead them to borrow and try to make fit their already formed position and goal on any subject.

    Reply

  49. nadine says:

    Say, Paul, if you have any brilliant ideas about how to keep Hamas from gaining and using Iranian long-range missiles, without hindering the Gazans in the least, now would be the time to share it.
    Last time I asked you for ideas, you said Israel should withdraw. Well Israel withdrew from Gaza five years ago, and it didn’t bring peace. Any other ideas?

    Reply

  50. questions says:

    Hey Carroll,
    Why not ask your psychiatric sister about the ethics involved in diagnosing people from a distance?! Or talk to Bill Frist about it, since he’s a doctor, too.
    You’re decidedly on a diagnosis kick cuz you read a book and talked to your sister.
    First year med students do this sort of thing too. The diseases they find!
    If you’re having so much difficulty with my presence on this site, feel free to beg Mr. Clemons to ban me. Maybe he has problems with me, too, and would LOVE to have an excuse to kick me off.
    Come to think of it, go ahead and do the following: start a petition for the banning of questions, AND see if you can get a celeb to support you. Maybe there’s a soccer player who would also like me gone! Maybe you could line up some rubber duckies in your bathtub, each carrying the name of a famous duck (Donald comes to mind, and the mommy duck in Make Way for Ducklings, I guess) and they could all present their name to Mr. Clemons!
    It’s a beautiful sight! You could put it up on YouTube!

    Reply

  51. Carroll says:

    Posted by questions, Jul 26 2010, 12:23PM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>
    I was going to comment on your pseudo realism, convoluted intellectual pretense and typically transparent deceitful use of so called ‘real world politic’ to cover your own emotionally childish ..’please admire me for the way I turn my own political emotions into what I want to portray as grown up’s logic cause this is how I’ve seen the very serious people get away with it’
    But I trust other posters have already seen thru it.

    Reply

  52. questions says:

    And of course, given POA’s rants against books, reading, studying anything, it would make sense for him to love this!
    It’s not about trying to “ignore” celebrity (after the fact) deaths and serious injuries. It’s actually about scope. Every death and maiming is a local tragedy, for sure. But if these incidents and our responses add up to a major destabilization of world order on a scale seldom seen, the individual death and injuries will pale in comparison.
    Maybe there’s a reason not to push Emily and Tristan and Rachel and any and all of the others whose lives have been ended or fucked beyond all recognition.
    It’s utilitarian and immoral for sure. Not Kantian in the least, for sure. But the level of sacrifice one engenders by being Kantian in a utilitarian world might be fine for oneself, but not so good for the one’s whose good you’re trading off in the name of not trading off anyone’s good.
    Bloody mess, it is.

    Reply

  53. questions says:

    Can you imagine some future round of FP talks on whatever issue and part of the calculation is what some Hollywood star will think about it!
    They could actually play dueling stars, my star is bigger than yours, my star can beat your star’s but, my star’s big brother is bigger than your star’s big brother!
    And then we can outsource the whole thing to Bollywood!
    (Which would indeed make Pakistan feel threatened….)

    Reply

  54. questions says:

    I kinda think Steve understands a lot here!
    The problem is that things will spin out of control when foreign policy is left to the emotions rather than to some reasonable calculation.
    I think it’s called realism, actually.
    And, indeed, he’s probably right on this one. It’s not that celebrification is ineffective, it’s that it’s mis-effective. There are consequences of any action we take, and the consequences in the ME seem to be a little extra-charged.
    Celebrities and their sexy-time emotions are great attention grabbers, but how many of these people have sat through hours of IR seminars, hours of history seminars, hours spent on weapons technology, trade relations, gamesmanship, game theory, and so on…. All of this stuff is what comes together in something like foreign policy coherence.
    The celebs are great at tugging the heartstrings of emotion-directed people. They can fake tears and laughter as that is their trade. They can sound smart when they don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about, as well.
    I don’t think that’s the stuff of sound foreign policy, necessarily.
    On the other hand, if we turn FP over to the democratic process, this, I guess, is what we get.
    Oh, and we get all the more push by the feds in charge to keep secrets. Just to keep Bono from knowing anything — or whomever.
    What an interesting set of concerns to balance, and maybe all the more reason to keep a kind of status quo until we actually know what to do. The guessing games and destabilizations that Steve has advocated in quiet ways in his corner of the intertubes is comin’ home to roost.
    At least in my sense of things.

    Reply

  55. oogede says:

    yeah Steve, all those pesky celebs campaigning against evils like desegregation, apartheid, darfur, and tibet had no effect at all apart from polarising opinion.
    and no your post doesn’t display blatant double standards at all.

    Reply

  56. Carroll says:

    Couldn’t disagree more.
    Your championing of Iran’s Green revolution against their oppression and acceptance of Israel’s occupation and collective punishment of Palestine doesn’t even make sense unless you’re suffering from multiple personalities.
    Furthermore, if Hamas and others hadn’t violently resisted Israel’s occupation and land theft Palestine would have been totally taken over by Israel long ago.
    And if private citizens of conscience hadn’t taken action on their own as with the blockade busting Gaza flotillas Israel would not be relaxing their blockade.
    What you should be writing about is the 180 degrees between what normal people see as fair and humane and the immorality and self interest of politicians and governments.
    I’am for the celebrities. They are showing the courage of their convictions and have as much or more to lose as all the others who have been smeared and attacked for standing up against this injustice.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Posted by erichwwk, Jul 26 2010, 9:43AM – Link
    “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”-MLK
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Excellent quote.
    Here’s another one.
    “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”.

    Reply

  57. JohnH says:

    Yes, it’s amazing that Steve does not understand the basics of non-violent political change.
    The point here is to call the world’s attention to an unjust situation–over and over and over again. The second point is to force the oppressor to take action that will embarrass it.
    The Mavi Marmara flotilla succeeded brilliantly, because Israel behaved in a predictable, excessively violent way. Subsequent flotillas have not succeeded, because Israel has behaved atypically, did not killed unarmed activists, and managed to bury the story.
    Celebrities up the ante. They serve to focus the spotlight on the situation and increase public awareness of the plight of Palestinians. If Israel acts violently, that will increase awareness dramatically. If not, then let’s hope that the flotilla leaders have plans to force Israel to make decisions that will publicly embarrass it and receive widespread publicity.
    The Zionist entity continues its brutal behavior largely because of its successful public relations and intimidation of the media to bury the constant stream of brutal actions. Events such as celebrity flotillas tend to break through these media barriers.
    Israel’s biggest problem is its daily treatment of Palestinians. Once this is exposed for all to see, Israel loses its moral high ground and will be forced to change or collapse.

    Reply

  58. Tony C. says:

    Steve, I believe you are missing an important point. There
    are (too) many people who pay no attention whatsoever to
    crucial issues such as this, and if a high-profile celebrity
    like Nadal helps to focus attract the attention of a subset of
    that group, it is a positive step forward.
    By way of analogy, the recent Wikileaks disclosure may not
    change the views of those who seriously follow the war in
    Afghanistan, but it will help to wake up many who have been
    entranced by the mainstream media narrative.

    Reply

  59. erichwwk says:

    POA,I’m a bit puzzled by Steve’s take here as well.
    I’ll have an opportunity to meet with Ann Wright, who was part of the flotilla later this week.
    It seems to be that rational discussion is often ineffective, and it is ONLY civil disobedience that produces real world results. And because celebrities by definition are better known, their “antics” tend to have a larger impact, and while folks initially scream their efforts hurt (Hanoi Jane), I view their involvement as quite positive.
    While Sophia and Hans Scholl were put to death and during their lifetime there were Germans who saw their behavior as “non-constructive” (they were executed) today is a different story. From
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Rose
    “In an extended German national TV competition held in the autumn of 2003 to choose “the ten greatest Germans of all time” (ZDF TV), Germans under the age of 40 placed Hans and Sophie Scholl in fourth place, selecting them over Bach, Goethe, Gutenberg, Willy Brandt, Bismarck, and Albert Einstein. Not long before, women readers of the mass-circulation magazine “Brigitte” had voted Sophie Scholl as “the greatest woman of the twentieth century”.
    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win” -Gandhi
    “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”-MLK

    Reply

  60. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Too bad Steve feels this way. But after all, the fewer celebrities going over, the less chance people like Steve will be in the uncomfortable position of trying to ignore deaths that are less than ignorable. Its easy to ignore someone like Tristan Anderson or Emily Henochowicz. Most people have never heard of them, and our media, and blogs like this one, do their best to keep it that way. But should one of these celebs be murdered on the high seas, or shot in the head with a tear gas cannister, it ain’t gonna be so easy to push it under the rug, is it?
    http://thirstypixels.blogspot.com/
    Nothing to see here folks, move on, look over there….
    Gee, is that Neda I see??? Oh my, those nasty Iranee anti-semites! How can they treat those poor protesters that way?
    The interesting thing about Steve’s essay is that he writes it as if the only Israeli policy being protested is the blockade, which he claims, or insinuates, is morally and etrhically just because it is designed to stop Hamas from arming itself. Never mind the ridiculous nature of the list of items that have been banned from entry. Never mind the IDF’s willfull targeting of fishermen and farmers whose only crime is attempting to provide sustenance to thier families and communities. Never mind the separation fence that is internationally recognized as ILLEGAL, and is routed in such a manner NOT to provide security as much as it is routed to STEAL LAND and oppress, demoralize, and displace entire Palestinian communities. Never mind Israel’s treatment of Palestinian and international peace activists, who are treated at least as brutally as the Iranian forces treat Iranian protesters, and often MORE brutally.
    No. There is far more to protest here than the mere blockade. Its really a crying shame that BOATLOADS of celebrities aren’t on the way to Gaza at this very moment. And if we were what we claimed to be, Israel would be thinking twice about committing international crimes, piracy, kidnapping, and murder on the high seas. We would be SUPPORTING these peace activists and human rights champions, instead of pouring money into the coffers of the murderous fascists and racists whose policies merit such protest and activism.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/09/AR2010060906126.html
    U.S. student pays devastating physical price to protest Israel’s actions
    By Robert McCartney
    Thursday, June 10, 2010
    Emily Henochowicz wasn’t thinking about protests or Palestinians or tear gas canisters when she went to Israel in February for a one-semester college exchange program.
    The 21-year-old art student from Montgomery County wanted to study animation, and Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy had a good program.
    It was a plus to spend time in Israel. Henochowicz grew up in an observant Jewish household and had her bat mitzvah at Potomac’s Har Shalom synagogue. Her father was born in Tel Aviv, and his parents are Polish Holocaust survivors.
    But Henochowicz became critical of Israel in the spring, after accompanying a friend to a demonstration in East Jerusalem against the eviction of Palestinian families. Very quickly, she began participating regularly in protests against Israeli policies, especially the expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank.
    “I decided that I was not just going to talk about this. I’m going to do something about it,” she said.
    Henochowicz prided herself on being nonviolent, but she knew the protests were risky. One was “like a war zone, it was so scary,” she said.
    The dangers caught up with her on May 31. During a demonstration at the West Bank checkpoint at Qalandia, Henochowicz was struck in the face by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli security forces. She lost her left eye, and her jaw and cheekbone were fractured.
    As a result, somewhat to her family’s dismay, Henochowicz has become a minor celebrity and martyr among Palestinian supporters. Timing had something to do with it. She was injured just as controversy erupted over the Israeli commando raid on a Turkish ship full of international activists trying to break the Gaza blockade. The Qalandia protest was a response to that assault.
    Now home in Potomac, Henochowicz declined to talk about the incident because her family is planning to sue Israel over it. But in her first interview since the injury, she discussed the experiences that led her to the protest and her feelings about it now.
    Remarkably, Henochowicz says she “absolutely” would do it all again. Although “it’s a little strange” for a visual artist to give up an eye, she said she gained tremendous understanding of Israel, the Palestinians and herself.
    “It sucks that I lost my eye. But I’m so happy that I did what I did,” Henochowicz said. “I love the time I spent there. It felt really amazing to be part of something like that. I don’t regret it. I felt that it’s what I had to do.”
    Henochowicz emphasized that her affection for Israel is strong even though she opposes many of its policies.
    continues…….
    And YES, Steve, it DOES “change minds”, because it draws the issue to the forefront, and exposes Israel’s crimes for what they are. What are you afraid of? A change in the narrative? A death or maiming that can’t be ignored, that pushes Israel’s crimes onto the front pages of our media outlets??
    The shame here is that people like Tristan or Emily do not recieve the same celebrity status as this tennis player, BECAUSE PEOPLE LIKE TRISTAN AND EMILY ARE THE VERY BEST WE HAVE TO OFFER, AND THEY DESERVE OUR RECOGNITION, OUR RESPECT, AND OUR SUPPORT.

    Reply

  61. Paul Norheim says:

    Steve, I think I understand your way of reasoning, but I
    disagree with both premises.
    First of all: The Gaza blockade, just like the
    bombardments one and a half years ago, were both also
    intended as a collective punishment and a clear message:
    “This is what happens if you Palestinians support Hamas”.
    Several actions in the past (by Sharon and others) have
    shown clearly that collective punishment is something that
    the Israeli government is endorsing (like punishing
    relatives and family members of the real target).
    Secondly: Although I am, generally speaking, highly
    sceptical of sport, rock, and film stars having too much
    influence on politics, this is already a symbolic war,
    probably to a larger extent than it is a military war.
    I agree that the flotilla events may develop in potentially
    unpredictable and dangerous ways. The unpredictable
    moment arrives when “innocent” celebrities AND not-so-
    innocent states coordinate these flotilla actions, the former
    mainly for humanitarian reasons, the latter with motives
    that may be dubious or perhaps interpreted as dubious or
    hostile – and things may escalate in unpredictable ways.
    I would suggest that you focus more, and specifically, on
    the countries actively supporting the flotillas, and their
    possible motives, and less on the celebrities that may be
    used by these actors, because it is the Israeli interpretation
    of the motives of foreign states, as well as their their own
    respective motives, that may escalate the conflict, and not
    the celebrities as such.
    There is probably no conflict in the world that is more
    symbolically charged than the Israel/Palestine conflict
    today. Yesterday it was Vietnam. Today one would expect
    that it would be Afghanistan. But no, it is Israel/Palestine.
    And the biggest arsenals on both sides on this conflict are
    the symbols.

    Reply

  62. rc says:

    I disagree — only variety will control variety (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Ross_Ashby).
    Although not my personal preference, music and film celebrities from Jane Fonda through to Geldof’s Live Aid have done good things to expose systemic corruption, and chronic need for charity.
    It is just too bad that Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu cannot get on a boat and join the next Gaza Buster convoy. Just what would the Zionist apartheid system in Israel do with that scenario?
    1,000s of small boats would be better than a few large ones — variety wins!

    Reply

  63. samuelburke says:

    good for Nadal, his conscience doesn’t respond to the political
    pressures that those in the american political scene are subjected
    to.
    what do you prefer, only israeli approved methods of resistance?
    steve, look at how far progress has gotten the palestinians thus far,
    if they had to get israeli permission for everything they wanted
    they’d be living in a open air prison called gaza with an foreign
    army indiscriminately abusing them at will.
    oh wait, they are living under those conditions.

    Reply

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