STREAMING LIVE TODAY: Walter Russell Mead on a Pro-Israel Plan That Delivers On Palestine

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Mead_webready.jpgToday, 12:15 – 1:45 pm EST, I will chairing an interesting session with WALTER RUSSELL MEAD and DANIEL LEVY that will run live on The Washington Note and also run LIVE on C-Span.
Mead, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has written an important new essay that has just been issued in the latest edition of Foreign Affairs magazine titled “Change They Can Believe In: To Make Israel Safe, Give Palestinians Their Due.”
This article is a major piece by Walter Russell Mead, outlining a proposal for Palestine that may appeal to many who have been dragging their feet and souls on the subject.
Mead is also author of the acclaimed books God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World as well as Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How it Changed the World.
Daniel Levy, my colleague at the New America Foundation co-directing our new Middle East Task Force, will offer comments. Levy also writes the blog, Prospects for Peace. (I keep telling Levy that I no longer really believe in peace — just equilibrium).
If you can join us in person in Washington or watch the exchange of ideas live on this blog or C-Span.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

57 comments on “STREAMING LIVE TODAY: Walter Russell Mead on a Pro-Israel Plan That Delivers On Palestine

  1. N Khalil says:

    To Walter Russell Mead for his FA article of Dec: Jews thrived in Muslim countries in harmony uptill the creation of Israel, and many did not leave till the late sisxties, and many of choice. Israel few years back honoured Ben Gurion-dispatched Israeli agents who perpetrated bomb attacks against prosperous Egyptian Jews in Alexandria the early fifties.

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  2. rich says:

    “But it is a historical fact that the Europeans are the greatest ethnic cleansers in the history of the world. In fact 19th and 20th century European history is a non stop orgy of forced or coerced population movements based largely on ethnicity. In light of this, their lack of “humility” as you call it is hypocritical but not surprising.
    And as I stated somewhere along the line, we have more than history to judge the Europeans by; we also have current events.”
    No, you don’t.
    Not when you completely overgeneralize about an entire continent. Wholly mischaracterizing the contemporary policies of 27 nations to smear a diverse and complex continent isn’t just laughable, its propagandistic. And the only thing more apparently hypocritical than the European maturity in opposing ethnic cleansing in Palesine — is Israel’s embrace of the tools of state and culture that victimized Jews for 2000+ years. Good luck with that.
    Again, it is precisely Europe’s post-WWII contemplation of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism in general that demands they not turn a blind eye to Israel’s transgressions. Had
    Europeans shut up like good germans, as you insist, they’d’ve learned no lesson at all.
    Look, I’m the last person to defend the festering boil of Old Europe’s political-military record. Plenty of pacifist Germans fled the insanity of the mid-1800s Franco-Prussian bloodletting. And you’re right that the damage was hardly internal: the cultural conflict and nonstop bloody wars created such internal pressure that the self-lanced pustule spattered disease and death across the western hemisphere and beyond. Yet Europe is light years ahead of America and Israel in confronting its inner demons while being fair enough to itself to demand moderation from immigrants. From Vang Pao to Luis Posada Carriles, Col. Nicolas Carranza, to various Cuban exiles, to Israeli partisans, America has hardly demanded its immigrants moderate their views or adopt core American values. None on the above list did; some just used ‘freedom’ as a fig leaf to exploit a convenient American base to launch extremist, violent projects in pursuit of lost, unjust causes. And America has been shortchanged in the process.
    wigwag’s anti-factual statement that
    “Their treatment of their Muslim immigrants demonstrates that like it is in the United States, racism is still pervasive.”
    Racism is and will always be endemic in any society. And full civil rights and cultural acceptance for Turkish guestworkers or Muslim immigrants doesn’t happen overnight. But Europe is light-years further along than wigwag will say (either b/c s/he’s in full-fledged denial or simply dishonest). Many Turks were acculturated and gaining acceptance in the mid-80s in Germany — and Steve noted recently that “Cem Oezdemir who has been elected co-chairman of the German Green Party. It’s the party’s top political post. His victory makes him the highest-ranking German politician of Turkish descent.”
    In France, couscous has become the national dish, the default francophone hamburger-of-choice. No one defends discriminatory practices, but let’s keep firmly in mind that it is the bigoted right-wing — the LePens and Berlusconis that push these policies — not the open-minded progressives who demand higher standards of Israel and a just resolution to residents of Palestine. Kind of a problem for your thesis, isn’t it? France has long opened opportunity for Algerian nationals, and it’s entirely reasonable to require Muslims embrace the secular state that guarantees their religious liberty. It’s a balance, wigwag, and you can’t tell us oppression comes in the form of banning headscarves, given the radicalism of some Muslims.
    You should know by now that it takes a little work. Contents: Multi-Ethnic Society. Batteries not included. Some assimilation required.
    Seriously, you’re broad-brushing a continent whose ethnic roots runs from the Angles to the Visigoths. To you, they’re all the same. I can’t say lumping the Vandals and the Huns together will win you points for nuance, but hey, there it is. Basically, we’re to believe the Swedes are the same as the Serbs. That the French Resistance was as culpable as the capitulation of those who ‘led’ Vichy France. That socialist Danes are as benighted as the neo-fascist Berlusconi. Or that libertine, secular Amsterdam is the same as muslim, fundamentalist Tuzla, Bosnia — or the Vatican, for that matter. Even within one country (say, Germany), great differences contradict your thesis.
    Your assertion that ‘things are still the same’ in Europe is hardly honest. It’s nothing more than a propaganda point designed to allow the continuation of Israel’s self-inflicted vulnerability: policies and military strikes that start at ghetto-ization, proceed with ethnic cleansing, and add up to genocide. Even Haaretz says it’s true.
    Here’s wigwag’s pivotal lie: s/he assigns liberal Europeans blame for the right-wing’s historical crimes. Progressive Europeans have consistently fought the bloody wars and ethnic cleansing pushed by fascist politics and cultural anti-Semitism. Yet wigwag perversely assigns liberals who support humane treatment of Palestinians with contemporary responsibility for the bigoted right-wing — the LePens and Berlusconis — that push anti-immigrant policies. The European voices demanding justice in Palestine are not the same forces discriminating against Muslims or Jews.
    So for wigwag to say that when “we look at a present where Europe can’t seem to tolerate communing with non-Christians .. in a serious way; relying on Europe to do the right thing seems like a fool’s errand” — just isn’t a plausible or responsible or possible conclusion. It is, of course, a Big Lie, designed to deflect attention from the issue at hand, and from Israel’s responsibility for the ongoing war against the continued existence of Palestinians in general.
    wigwag:
    “This makes me suspicious that the Jewish State will ever be welcomed by the European nations into NATO or into a stronger economic partnership with Europe.”
    I disagree that NATO or the EU should be extended beyond the North Atlantic or beyond Europe. It’s not in the interests of any member nations. It’s an expansionist move, not intended to improve anyone’s security or well-being, but designed to seize political ground and economic resources at the expense of Russia, Asian and mid-Eastern blocs. Retraction is our only viable course going forward, and some long-overdue housecleaning is in order.
    “And we also have the example of Europe’s reaction to Turkey’s membership in the European Union.” Turks consider themselves Europeans and are hardly outside the historical scope of Europe. Very different from Israel. More important and more on-point, though, is that it’s perfectly reasonable to insist prospecive members adopt the democratic, economic and human rights standars of the organizations they seek to join. Turkey is making that effort and will become an EU member state, once integration is further along. Israel has made no such effort. And Mead is off-base to think there’s some benefit. Have Israel join NAFTA; makes just as much sense. Why is Mead’s suggestion even interesting? Or useful?

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  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    170 some odd Palestinians killed so far this morning, once again, “rocket attacks” being used as a justification. Of course, dead Palestinians never count as justification for the rocket attacks, do they? Never mind the disproportionate amount of deaths when Palestinian casualties are compared with Israeli casualties.
    And yes Paul, my views on this issue are rather simplistic. Frankly, I don’t give a fuck about all the banter about european history and anti-semitism, nor do I have much respect for those that choose to cloud the issue with such masturbatory rhetoric. In truth, all this unmittigated crap is the fodder of the very “intellectuals” that man the conference tables in the myriad of “think tanks” that have brought the planet to the current abyss we are about to fall into.
    Israel is undoubtedly “more” than just its policies towards the Palestinans. But so what? Do you think an orphaned or hungry Palestinan child gives a shit about Israeli cultural attributes?
    Israel is defined in the Arab world by its treatment of the Palestinians, be it the complete definition, or not. And as long as Israel is defined in that manner, it will provide the justification for further regional destablization, and perpetual war. Israel holds all the cards in the peace process. They are militarily superior to ALL their neighbors, and are to Hamas like a bear is to a rabbit.
    No, it doesn’t matter one single bit what Israel is aside from an epic abuser of human rights and a nation exercising the collective punishment of an entire people. Should a mass murderer be acquited because he plays the piano? What exactly is Israel that excuses raining millions of cluster bomblets on a civilian population of non-combatants?

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  4. S. Amiel says:

    wigwag:
    Your assessment of European history is right but you have it all wrong about present day Europe. The anti-Israel Europe you describe is the Europe of 5 years ago not today.
    In today’s Europe, support for the Palestinians has evaporated and support for Israel is on the rise. Just look at Europe’s muted reaction to today’s massive Israeli air strikes on Gaza to see what I mean. And remember, though he was reviled in Europe, all European nations adopted the Bush policy and placed Hamas on their terrorism lists and they have all frozen relations with Hamas; just as the Israelis and Americans wanted them to.
    There is not a country in Europe today where support for Palestinians is strong. I lived in the north of England for 14 years before returning to the United States recently. I heard the remark more than once from my colleagues that if Hamas didn’t stop sending missiles into Israel that Israel should do to Hamas what the RAF did to Dresden.
    The general feeling in Europe today is that Fatah is inept and corrupt and that Hamas is a terrorist organization little better than Al Qaeda.
    Two years ago the leadership of the trade union representing university faculty imposed a policy requiring British faculty to boycott faculty from Israeli universities. The policy was widely ignored, it was denounced by all the parties in Parliament and the union officials who adopted it were thrown out of office. The new union leadership eliminated the boycott.
    Since the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London, support for the Palestinians has taken a nose dive. Although I was not there during the Mumbai attacks, I would be willing to bet that since then support for the Palestinians has fallen still further.
    In France, President Sarkozy is the most pro-Israel President in French history and he recently addressed the Israeli Knesset. In Italy, Silvio Berlusconi openly expresses his admiration of the Israelis and his contempt for the Palestinians.
    In Spain, Queen Sofia recently made some pro-Palestinian remarks that were very controversial but her husband, King Juan Carlos is considered very pro-Israel. The Spanish, who regularly suffer terrorist attacks from ETA and remember the Al Qaeda inspired train attacks in March, 2004 have little sympathy for the Palestinians and are amongst the sharpest critics of Hamas.
    The Dutch have provided a haven for the Jews of Europe throughout history and they have a strong relationship with Israel. The Dutch are strongly secular and they have developed an intense dislike for fundamentalist Islam. They are also increasingly anti-immigrant. They have no use for the Palestinians. The Dutch press is fiercely anti-Hamas.
    As Mr. Norheim mentioned, Germans feel a special kinship with the Jews and with Israel because of their history. Thousands of German teenagers have spent summers in Israel through a variety of exchange programs and the ties between Germany and Israel are very close. Chancellor Angela Merkel, unlike her predecessor, expresses little to no concern about the plight of the Palestinians.
    Similarly, there is a revival of interest in all things Jewish taking place in Poland. The Jewish quarter in Cracow is thriving and Polish youth are increasingly fascinated with Jews and Israel. As with Germany, thousands of Polish teenagers spend their summers in Israel through various exchange programs with Moshavs and Kibbutzim. Much to the chagrin of the Church it has become a trend amongst Polish teenagers to actually convert to Judaism. The interest in all things Jewish has become so strong in Poland that the Polish President, Lech Kaczynski who was always thought to be an old line anti-Semite, recently spent the first night of Chanukah in a Cracow Synagogue. The Palestinians find little to no sympathy in Poland.
    The part of Europe that was always the most pro-Palestinian was Scandinavia, but even that is changing. Swedish difficulties with the integration of Muslim refugees from Iraq may be responsible for the reduction in Swedish sympathy for the Palestinian cause. Denmark was always the most pro-Palestinian country in Europe. But the Danes were traumatized by the cartoon incident and they didn’t fail to notice that some of the largest and angriest anti-Danish demonstrations took place in Gaza and the West Bank. Enthusiasm for the Palestinian cause is noticeably reduced in Denmark.
    Given all of this, I think there is a real opportunity to move forward on the recommendations made by Walter Mead. I think Europe would welcome closer relations with Israel and would seriously consider letting them join NATO. The problem that I have with Mead is that given the current antipathy in Europe towards the Palestinians, it is hard to believe that Europe will be willing to come up with the money Mead thinks is needed to compensate all the Palestinian refugees who lost their homes.

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  5. Paul Norheim says:

    “Israel needs to stop its inhumane treatment of the Palestinians.
    Period. And until it does, it doesn’t matter “what else” it is.” (POA)
    I disagree.
    What matters above all, is exactly “what else” Israel is.
    What Israel is, beyond its conflict with the Palestinians.
    Just like America. What matters most, is “what else” America is,
    beyond Bush and Washington DC.

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  6. Paul Norheim says:

    And by the way, POA: in this thread, Sweetness contributed a bit
    more than you, related to the issues.
    Your contribution?
    Explaining that you sometimes agree, sometimes do not agree
    with your fellow commentators here, including the host. And
    that you think that everything said here is horseshit.
    If you read the comments above, rich and I have in most of our
    posts related to the fact that “Israel needs to stop its inhumane
    treatment of the Palestinians. Period”.
    But when you aggressively and magically say: “Horseshit!”, as a
    characterization of all the commentators, you have somehow
    raised yourself above the crap?
    No, it dont`t come as easy as that.

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  7. Paul Norheim says:

    POA,
    do you really think that you and Sweetness contribute to anything
    by telling each other to screw yourself, or arguing who
    (Sweetness, Arthur, POA or WigWag?) may be an “honest broker”?
    Thank you very much for your plain insights and contributions to
    this thread.

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  8. Paul Norheim says:

    Posted by PissedOffAmerican Dec 26, 10:11PM – Link
    Gads, what a bunch of pompous horseshit, from all sides.
    Yeah, horseshit from all sides. So please tell me where you added
    anything else than horseshit?

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  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gads, what a bunch of pompous horseshit, from all sides. When you all get done jerking each other off, you might consider planting yourselves back in the here and now.
    Israel needs to stop its inhumane treatment of the Palestinians. Period. And until it does, it doesn’t matter “what else” it is.

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  10. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag said, in a reply to me: “No, not just when Israel destroys
    the familial homes of suspected terrorist; Europeans should be
    contemplating their collective guilt, at all times.”
    “rich” replied: “And it is that very contemplation that demands
    Europeans not turn a blind eye to Israel’s transgressions. Had
    Europeans shut up like good germans, as you demand, they’d’ve
    learned no lesson at all.”
    Exactly, rich.
    ————
    However, WigWags extremely biased description of Europe has,
    as some commentators have mentioned, highlighted a certain
    biased description of Israel from some of us who are opposed
    to the occupation of Palestinian territory.
    What do I mean by “biased”?
    When you say once or twice that Israel should stop harassing
    the Palestinians, you`re correct. But saying this fifty or hundred
    times, without adding that Israelis are more than “those who
    abuse Palestinians”, then this truth slowly transforms in to
    something like propaganda, advertising, in short: a biased lie,
    by assuming that this is all that is to be said about the Israelis
    and the state of Israel.
    This is largely due to current events. But still, I think that in the
    long run (and even in the middle of a heated conflict), we who
    oppose the abuses of the Palestinians owe both the Israelis and
    the Palestinians not to regard them solely as attackers and
    victims in a dramatic conflict, but as entities that contain
    mentalities, cultures, experiences, opinions and tendencies
    beyond the actual conflict.

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  11. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag, nobody here have argued that Europe`s past is
    glorious. But as you know, or should know: “Europe” is not, and
    has never been a homogenous entity.
    Europe is a continent.
    America is a continent.
    Asia is a continent.
    Africa is a continent.
    (Even) Australia is a continent.
    To be anti-European, anti-American, or anti-Asian, is foolish,
    and doesn`t make sense. (nor, by the way, on a smaller scale,
    to be anti-Israel, anti-France, anti-Iran)
    To make categorical statements about entities on such a huge
    scale like continents is almost like making statements about the
    world. You may say that this or that continent is “bad”, and
    prove it by tons of evidence. But you may also claim that this or
    that continent is “good”, and “prove” it by plenty of statistics
    and examples.
    Is American racism still a big issue? Yes indeed. But American
    anti-racism, American tolerance and generosity is also a strong
    force in USA today. America killed most of the native population
    on the continent. AND America has been a force for democracy
    for centuries. America is Nixon and Kissinger and Rockefeller,
    but America is also Malcolm X, Stevie Wonder, Louis Armstrong,
    Emma Goldman, Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway, James
    Brown, Seymour Hearsh, Bob Woodward, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan
    and Eartha Kitt. So what is America?
    What is Europe?
    Is Europe Auschwitz or Firenze? The Spanish inquisition and
    Savonarola, or Diderot. Voltaire, Kant and The Enlightenment? Is
    Europe Adam Smith and capitalism, or is it socialism and Karl
    Marx? Is Europe anti-Semitism, or is it the humanism of
    Erasmus Rotterdamus? Is it nationalism or universal human
    rights?
    You can make up anything and provide evidence that “this is
    “Europe””, and then someone else can say that Europe is exactly
    the opposite. You can argue that communism is a European
    dream, dreamt by Marx, and realized in Russia, China and
    Vietnam. You could say that the capitalism in USA, as well as its
    constitution, has its roots in European ideas from Adam Smith
    and European science, as well as in Montesquieu and the ideas
    of the French Revolution. You could say that Europe colonized
    Africa and parts of Asia, but also that the nationalism that led to
    independence in Africa had its roots in the ideas of Herder. And
    if you combine Herder and socialism, you have some of the
    roots of Zionism that Herzl built up against rampant anti-
    Semitism.
    So what is Europe?
    And you argue as if “Europe” not only were, but still is a
    monolithic entity. The harassments of muslims in Holland and
    France, the division regarding Turkish membership in EU
    “proves” that Europe was, and still is a racist continent – and not
    the opposite as well. But you know that a lot of Europeans are
    against the harassment of Muslims, and do want Turkey to
    become a member of Europe, don`t you? Even my country, not
    a member of EU, has for a long time resisted EU membership,
    divided in two big groups (like 45 % against 55%). Do you
    conclude that Norway is anti-Europe or pro-Europe? You can
    make anything you want out of those statistics, but it will not
    tell the whole truth about the Norwegian attitude towards EU
    membership, nor about Europe.
    Europe is, and has always been in conflict with itself, and its
    combined heritage of Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Greek
    influences, in religion, art, and philosophy. No continent have
    been more brutal through history. And no continent have
    provided more inspiring AND dangerous thoughts and
    ideologies up till now.
    You know this, WigWag. So there is no excuse for you acting as
    if Europe is only a force of evil, who should be a paria in the
    international community. In the context of this thread, that
    would only serve the right wing Greater-Israel hawks in Israely
    politics. People like Netanyahu, who likely will become the next
    prime minister of Israel.
    As “rich” said above: “I will adamantly defend Israel’s right to
    exist; I’ll just as adamantly insist Israel be held to the same
    standard of behavior as every other nation.”
    And I think Europe could play a constructive role in this.
    P.S.

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  12. WigWag says:

    “Let’s agree that the future is unknowable, so your arguments are suggestive and worth making, but hardly definitive in the way a mathematical proof might be.”
    While I’ve pointed out that the Europeans don’t come to the debate with “clean hands,” I don’t think I’ve ever suggested that history provides a basis for predicting the future with mathematical certainty.
    But it is a historical fact that the Europeans are the greatest ethnic cleansers in the history of the world. In fact 19th and 20th century European history is a non stop orgy of forced or coerced population movements based largely on ethnicity. In light of this, their lack of “humility” as you call it is hypocritical but not surprising.
    And as I stated somewhere along the line, we have more than history to judge the Europeans by; we also have current events. Their treatment of their Muslim immigrants demonstrates that like it is in the United States, racism is still pervasive. This makes me suspicious that the Jewish State will ever be welcomed by the European nations into NATO or into a stronger economic partnership with Europe. And we also have the example of Europe’s reaction to Turkey’s membership in the European Union. The Turks have taken almost every step the Europeans could possibly want but still EU membership is no where in sight.
    If the Europeans won’t welcome the Muslim (but largely secular) Turks into the greater Europe, why should we assume that they will take Mead up on his suggestion that they set out the welcome mat for the Israelis?
    So whether we look at a history replete with violence based on ethnicity or we look at a present where Europe can’t seem to tolerate communing with non-Christians (which is ironic given how secular they have become) in a serious way; relying on Europe to do the right thing seems like a fool’s errand.
    At least to me.

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  13. Sweetness says:

    It’s a very Jewish idea.

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  14. Sweetness says:

    Wig writes: “…no one who has referred to my comments on this
    thread has been able to refute my argument that the Europeans
    can’t be expected to play a positive role. In fact, no one has even
    tried.”
    A few things about this: Yes, you’ve made the argument, and
    your facts about the PAST are sound, but can we use them as a
    way to predict the future? Let’s agree that the future is
    unknowable, so your arguments are suggestive and worth
    making, but hardly definitive in the way a mathematical proof
    might be. Can Europe play a constructive role given their past,
    well-laid out by you? No one knows for sure. No one can deny
    that Europe is, in almost all respects, very different from what it
    was during the earlier decades of the last century.
    How can you ignore that fact in your prognostications?
    Sometimes those who’ve done the worst things and confronted
    them are in the best position to move forward. I think Paul
    makes the point that Germany has done a LOT FOR Israel and
    continues to be largely pro-Israel. In Germany, it’s a crime to
    deny the Holocaust, something our first amendment might
    disallow. I believe there’s a similar law in France, and perhaps in
    other European capitals as well. So while there is a resurgence
    of anti-Semitism in Europe–and there ARE some Jews left
    there–the Europeans may be MORE on guard against its evils
    than we are here. Witness Paul’s bringing to our attention
    decco’s foul little commentaries and the obliviousness of the
    Americans on this score.
    Similarly, much of white America (not all, but a lot) is highly
    sensitive to the wrongs it’s committed against our black
    citizens. You hardly find white critics of the failings of the black
    community that I can see, so it falls to Bill Crosby and Juan
    Williams and Barack Obama to state the obvious, and they are
    taking a lot of flak from their own people for doing so.
    So I think Paul’s nuanced view of the various currents within the
    European community are interesting and worth re-reading and
    considering. It’s silly to suggest that an Italian European is the
    same as a Norwegian European, don’t you think? Hardly a
    nuanced view. And if decco is representative of “Canadians,” I’d
    hardly want him in the judgement seat.
    So I have to agree with Rich that Europe hasn’t “forfeited” a right
    to criticize Israel or anyone else. What would that even mean?
    That said, I would agree with your less obvious point that, given
    the Europeans’ hand in creating this problem (and many others),
    they should sally forth with more than a little humility about
    their ability to “fix things.”
    And you’re right that Europe–even countries known for their
    liberal views–continue to have trouble accepting the “other”
    within their midst despite all the talk about the death of
    nationalism and the supercession of ethnicity as an organizing
    principle. So when Europeans (and Americans for that matter)
    ask Israel to make peace with Arabs and Muslims, they should
    make the same demands of themselves–and show some
    humility. But all that said…
    …if the Europeans can help, why not? In fact, it’s one of Mead’s
    points that Europeans have an OBLIGATION to try, given their
    contribution to the mess. I wish them well and will thank them
    for any success their achieve. Be skeptical if you must, but be
    prepared for success. Sharansky tells that that is how he
    survived the gulag: He gave up all hope of being liberated, but
    was prepared to leave at any moment. It’s a very Jewi

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  15. rich says:

    “Isn´t this brilliant? Every time Israel makes dozens of Palestinian relatives of a suspected terrorist collectively guilty, bombing their houses in the middle of the night, every single European (living in Denmark, Spain, Germany, or Iceland) should shut up and contemplate our collective guilt.”
    wigwag:
    “No, not just when Israel destroys the familial homes of suspected terrorist; Europeans should be contemplating their collective guilt, at all times.”
    And it is that very contemplation that demands Europeans not turn a blind eye to Israel’s transgressions. Had Europeans shut up like good germans, as you demand, they’d’ve learned no lesson at all. Such is not the case.
    The German Army and SS routinely meted out collective punishment in the villages it occupied (French or Polish or whichever) — this was one global outrage: that whenever one German officer was killed, ten (or more) villagers would be summarily executed. Civilians. Bystanders, members of the resistance, or innocent villagers that fed or covered for the resistance whenever they could because the cause was just. That was the justification for taking German infrastructure and manufacturing and civilian support apart. Israel doesn’t have that reasoning available. Israel adopted the German tactic, assigning collective guilt to innocent civilians who merely supported those who fought for their homes, their families, their survival.
    The question is, what kind of world is either/any nation or culture building today?
    When every Israeli contemplates their collective guilt, at all times, for learning the wrong lesson despite the sea-change in attitudes post-1945, then you’ll be in a position to change the subject or widen the subject.
    Racism persists in every nation, and we’re all free to talk about it and criticize. It’s a mixed record, of course, but Europeans done fairly well in handling an influx of immigrants — it’s not too much to ask for some assimilation and moderation. And acceptance, as recent German elections show, is growing.

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  16. Sweetness says:

    POA: “I agree with Arthur sometimes, sometimes I don’t. Truth
    is, I can say that about all the posters here, and can say the
    same about our host. Now, you dissembling jackass, perhaps
    you will point out to us where it is that I have agreed with any
    statements from Arthur, or anyone else, that are “anti-semitic”.
    Problem is POA, arthur’s statements are way beyond the pale.
    You said, and continue to say, nothing about them or him. I’m
    sure you recall that these statements, long and extended, said
    nothing about Israel, the Palestinians, Zionists…or any of the
    so-called “approved” topics for disagreement. Nor have you
    said anything about his clear insinuations that Jews are the “dark
    forces” behind this or that. They appear here quite regularly on
    these threads. Nevertheless, based on your encounter with “the
    Aryan Nation” you account yourself as knowing something about
    anti-Semitism. Yes, “something,” but not very much.
    I’m hardly an “eternal victimhood” person–nor is my family,
    largely non-Zionist. But I recognize anti-Semitism when I see
    it–and arthur displays it in spades. Ask Norheim: He was the
    one who brought it to my attention. Does arthur occasionally
    say something of merit? Sure, just like a broken clock.

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  17. rich says:

    wigwag:
    “And of course we have no way of knowing how Europeans would treat their Jewish citizens today; there aren’t any. They’ve murdered them all. But there are some surrogate markers we can look at. We can look at how they treat the one Jewish state in the world. They treat it with every bit the lack of nuance that you accuse me of treating the Europeans with.”
    So fact-based criticism of Israel is just a continuation of the Holocaust? Is that it? On the contrary, both European and American leaders insist that there must be a state of Israel and not only adamantly defend its right to exist, but subsidize its military and economic viability to the tune of tens of billions of dollars each and every year. We coordinate our own military and strategic actions to guarantee Israel’s existence and our own interests.
    A “lack of nuance” is somehow a threat to the state of Israel? If “they treat the one Jewish state in the world” without nuance, then somehow they would murder every Jewish citizen, if they had any? Is that it? They’re still set for some ethnic cleansing?
    That’s some equation you’ve set up. Divorced from reality, inverting whose behavior is at issue, substituting the nonexistent behavior of others for the very real political cause generated by Israel’s chosen tools of state, visited not on Jews this time, but on Palestinians.
    Let’s keep our eye on the ball. We defend the state of Israel, insist on its continued existence. But the cycle of violence has to end. Re-creating a set of near-genocidal wrongs against another nation, ethnicity or people is precisely what is threatening the security and continued existence of the state of Israel. There is no military solution for that. There is no way around substantively addressing, and finally resolving, that problem. And presuming to forbid any discussion of it by any interested party is completely unacceptable. This is simply not a struggle Israel can ‘win’, militarily or rhetorically, and the cost in terms of integrity, let alone everything that’s been accomplished since 1945, is too steep.

    Reply

  18. haystack says:

    Wag, you are great, You should get your own blog. I would be willing to pay to subscribe. You’re hillarious.
    Don’t you people understand irony when you see it? Wag has turned the Europeans into Israelis and he has turned everyone who has posted here into Israelis. He has told the truth about Europe but he has told only half the story and he knows it. Just like European criticism of Israel is based on real facts but only half of the story.
    Of course people who have committed genocide would rather focus on other folks bad behavior instead of their own. Just like people living on land stolen from Native Americans and Mexicans would rather spend much more effort blaming Jews than focusing on how they enjoy the fruits of those crimes.
    Wag, you have pointed out the hypocracy of those who support the Palestinians. They will never admit it though. They are too blind and they are too dumb.
    You are the master, Wag!

    Reply

  19. rich says:

    Running away from your excuses, wigwag, won’t wash.
    “your comments are not relevant to anything I’ve said. You criticize me not for what I did say but for what I didn’t say.”
    On the contrary, what I wrote goes straight to the heart of your rhetorical tactic. You presume to forbid Europeans or Americans from criticizing Israel, as though past (or even current mistakes) preclude offering accurate assessments and a politically effective agenda that preserves Israel’s national security while calling it on policies that are pronounced, costly gaffes.
    In point of fact, to deflect attention from Israeli colonialism, you said Europeans should basically shut up because of their record of colonialism. You said Europeans should have no voice, due to a historical record of anti-Semitism — none of which clears or addresses the current Israeli record of race-based human rights abuses. Your attempt to put Israeli behavior off limits on these grounds does indeed use that history to justify refusing any accountability for Israeli policies–allowing Israeli abuses to go forward without any discussion or penalty. It shows no integrity.
    wigwag wrote:
    “The simple reality is that the Europeans come to this debate with unclean hands. Through their behavior they have forfeited the right to be taken seriously when they comment on the situation in the Middle East. In light of their history it’s perfectly reasonable to question whether they’re more a part of the problem than of the solution.”
    Ah. Current Israeli policy is the fault of Western Europeans, you see. To you, that past justifies ignoring European attempts to resolve the conflict, justifies pointing the finger, justifies ignoring the root cause of the Palistinian just political cause. Did you literally say the wrongs done to Jewish people justifies the wrongs Israel is doing to the Palestinians? You didn’t have to. Did I say that you did? I didn’t have to. It’s not just plain as day — you’ll attack the truth-tellers, and others will make the debasing claim you left unsaid.
    “Earth to Rich . . . but it makes all the difference in the world about what we can expect the Israeli and European relationship to be.” My reference was to the bankruptcy of your argument: that history doesn’t absolve Israel of its responsiblities. Reading comprehension, wigwag.
    “I think it was you who explained one of my comments by referencing animal psychology (baboons in particular).” Not so. I referenced a William S. Burroughs metaphor that explained human behavior in clear primate terms. It’s a human trait. A common and wholly human tendency to seat your faults in others, cover your weaknesses by attacking the weakest available opponent, seating your responsiblity in others to evade accountability.
    The subject has been and will be what Israel will do to come to terms with its own mistakes, the unjust and abusive policies that’ve damaged its security, and find a path to a resolution of the Palestinian just political cause by integrating citizens fully, returning land and/or establishing a viable homeland. The expansionims of NATO is mistake, and re Israel is a side issue and will have to come after the primary business at hand. No way around it.

    Reply

  20. WigWag says:

    Sorry Rich, your comments are not relevant to anything I’ve said. You criticize me not for what I did say but for what I didn’t say. In none of my comments on this thread have I ever said that Europe’s treatment of its Jews justifies or excuses its behavior towards the Palestinians. And by the way, I never said that Europe’s treatment of its Muslim population justifies the Palestinian treatment of Israel. I simply never addressed how Europe’s treatment of its Jewish or Arab populations affects the relationship between the two parties to this dispute.
    My comments addressed Walter Russell Mead’s argument that Europe could play a constructive role; I merely expressed skepticism about that. And my skepticism is well founded.
    You say “but the really lousy arguments you’ve been putting out here, wigwag, are just offensive. And they are damning. You point to Western Europe and the annals of history as though that makes even the slightest difference.” Earth to Rich, it may not make a difference in how the Israelis and the Palestinians treat each other but it makes all the difference in the world about what we can expect the Israeli and European relationship to be. It is highly relevant to whether Europe will embrace Israel as Walter Russell Mead suggests they do or whether they will acquiesce to letting Israel into NATO.
    But I will say, Rich that your knowledge of psychology continues to impress me. Just the other day on another thread, I think it was you who explained one of my comments by referencing animal psychology (baboons in particular). Today you say, “–is that it is so shatteringly and simultaneously irrational and amoral. The tactic refuses all responsibility, like a child on the playground, caught red-handed, shouting: But he did it too!” First it’s animal psychology and then its child psychology. All I can say is wow! I can’t wait to see what comes next.
    And Paul, your response to me contradicts itself. You say, “No, WigWag did not go off topic. Her criticism of Europe was a direct response to Mead’s article. This criticism was, however, so extreme that it could be classified as deionization of Europeans as such…” It’s mysterious how you could claim my comments were “so extreme” and than acknowledge that my recitation of the history is largely accurate.
    Then you accuse me of claiming that “Europeans (all Europeans) today share the exact same mentality as those who committed crimes against the Jews 70, 100 and 1000 years ago – nothing has changed…”
    But I never said that either. I said that because of their history, Europeans suffer from a legacy of Anit-Semitism that is reminiscent of the legacy of slavery that pervades the United States today. It’s funny how Europeans are so willing to note the legacy of slavery in the United States but so averse to acknowledging the way that their Anti-Semitic brutality might have echoes today.
    And of course we have no way of knowing how Europeans would treat their Jewish citizens today; there aren’t any. They’ve murdered them all. But there are some surrogate markers we can look at. We can look at how they treat the one Jewish state in the world. They treat it with every bit the lack of nuance that you accuse me of treating the Europeans with. And we can look at how they treat other minority groups in their midst, like lets say, their Muslim minority. On that score things don’t look to good for the Europeans either.
    Oh, and as long as you mentioned Barack Obama; the Israelis should be ready for a massive invasion of Gaza to stop the rocket fire around the time of his inauguration. In fact, the Arab press is widely reporting that the Egyptians have encouraged the Israelis to teach Hamas a lesson. Mubarak took the unprecedented step of holding a warm meeting with Foreign Minister (and Prime Minister Candidate) Livni at just the time he knows an invasion is being planned. It is also widely assumed that Abbas and Fatah are egging the Israeli’s to invade.
    What’s your guess, Paul, about how President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are going to react when and if Israel launches a massive air assault against Gaza and then invades?
    During the Campaign I stated over and over again that Obama wasn’t nearly as left-wing as his supporters supposed.
    Want to bet that the faux-leftists (like Rich) are about to be skunked again?

    Reply

  21. Paul Norheim says:

    “None of this”, WigWag assures us, “means that Israel’s behavior
    is always good or beyond criticism. It’s not.”
    Funny, isn`t it?
    What`s the exact meaning of this admission, if not one of those
    outside Israel who actually do criticize Israel has the “moral right”
    to do so?
    Of course WigWag welcomes criticism from the Mongols, the
    Ethiopians, even the Chinese -who on principle never criticize any
    country in matters they regard as “internal affairs”.
    Thus China has every “right” to criticize Israel.

    Reply

  22. rich says:

    The problem, wigwag, with your litany:
    “Some may think that after a thousand year history of exiling their Jews, murdering them while on the way to kill Muslims in the Holy Land, converting them at pain of death, allowing pogroms to continue unabated and finally extinguishing their entire Jewish population that somehow, as if by magic, Europeans have gotten over their thousand year history of bigotry and hatred in a mere 70 years. Forgive my skepticism. What better proof can there be that European Anti-Semitism still flourishes than the fact that their sympathy for Palestinians and antipathy towards Israel is largely based on the shame Europeans feel about their own brutal history of colonialism.”
    –is that it is so shatteringly and simultaneously irrational and amoral. The tactic refuses all responsibility, like a child on the playground, caught red-handed, shouting: “But he did it too!” It scapegoats another group (Western Europe) for Israel’s apartheid or colonialism or call it what you will, inexorable genocide. Scapegoats.
    The colonialism of England or France can never justify the colonialism of Israel. Never. I will adamantly defend Israel’s right to exist; I’ll just as adamantly insist Israel be held to the same standard of behavior as every other nation. Never Again will never imply an exceptionalism that enables great crimes to be committed by Israel against the Palestinian people, day in and day out.
    There’s no doubt racist individuals exist in every nation and ethnic group. Israel’s no exception. There’s no question that Western History was one pogrom after another, culminating in the Holocaust. Germany’s confronted that past more sincerely and substantively than France or England.
    Nothing can atone for that history or compensate for the past — but then, nothing can justify turning around and repeating the same identity-based ghetto-izing policies and enforcement techniques that were visited upon Jewish people, this time applying them against the Palestinian people. Nothing. No one will threaten Israel’s continued existence, not from within and not from without, but continuing those policies will give Israel’s enemies the excuse they need to up the ante, exploit the injustices, and continue the verbal and violent attacks. Anyone with eyes can see Israel’s policies have badly undermined its national security. But an eye-for-an-eye policy hasn’t left Israel with 20-20 vision, either.
    It is not somebody else’s fault. The root cause is Israel’s policies and behavior. And nothing about Iran’s or Russia’s or England’s crimes alters Israel’s responsbility for its own actions. Right now Israel coddles a metastasizing cadre of radical right-wing terrorist settlers, who’re state proxies and a cancer on the body politic. Yet without a leader who has the integrity to move to fully integrated citizenship for Palestinians or a separate, fully fledged state, Israel gives its enemies all the reason anyone needs to pursue justice, criticizing or confronting Israel as necessary.
    Sorry, wigwag, there’s no merit to the notion Israel is somehow above criticism; or pure or blameless; or above any law or moral code; or that it’s all the other guy’s fault. Neither the pages of history, nor a sense of victimhood, nor a converse aggressiveness, nor the foolish vanity that Jews were chosen by God any more than the Ojibwe–can relieve Israel of the same obligations every other nation’s got.
    Funny how joining the community of nations brings with it certain . . . responsibilities.
    I have no doubt Israel will defend itself effectively — as well it should. But that doesn’t mean overstepping the bounds of what is acceptable or lawful or humane will somehow improve rather than damage Israel’s national security. It’ll just continue to exacerbate the problem.
    But the really lousy arguments you’ve been putting out here, wigwag, are just offensive. And they are damning. You point to Western Europe and the annals of history as though that makes even the slightest difference. It’s a stupid argument. And you’re hardly alone: the United States carried out proxy wars and used death squads and torture in El Salvador and Iran and Vietnam to do it — and finger-pointed at those horrible and evil ol’ Soviet Communists to ‘justify’ it. Didn’t work for us; won’t work for you.
    I realize criticism may offend your delicate sensibilities, wigwag, but free speech can be offensive speech. Deal. Not only has Israel’s domestic mistakes destabilized the entire region, but it’s overreached to actively destabilize the wider region. We may be complicit in that, but either way, it’s our business.

    Reply

  23. Paul Norheim says:

    No, WigWag did not go off topic. Her criticism of Europe was a
    direct response to Mead`s article.
    This criticism was, however, so extreme that it could be
    classified as demonization of Europeans as such, claiming that
    Europeans (all Europeans) today share the exact same mentality
    as those who committed crimes against the Jews 70, 100 and
    1000 years ago – nothing has changed. And because of that,
    Europe should not play any role in world affairs today, especially
    not in issues concerning the Middle East.
    And although I agree that Europe through history has
    committed more evil than any continent or civilization so far, I
    disagreed strongly with WigWag`s analysis of Europe today, and
    if the thread went off topic, it did so from there.
    If Wigwag wanted to analyze some of those European motives
    she mentioned, instead of using flawed logics and deliberately
    mixing everything together, this is approximately what she
    could have said:
    Colonization and occupation is not the same as anti-Semitism:
    they are two different diseases that some times have gone hand
    in hand, some times not. Europe`s history is full of both
    diseases.
    After WWII, generations grew up in Western Europe that felt
    shame on behalf of its imperial and colonial past – expressed
    especially on the left side of the political axis. And the more
    they saw of the Israeli policy and actions against the
    Palestinians after 1967, the more it reminded them of their own
    past as colonialists.
    The Germans did not have such grand scale horror stories of a
    long lasting colonial and imperial past as the British, the French,
    the Belgians, or people from the Iberian peninsula, at least not
    compared to their biggest horror story: Holocaust.
    And this may be one reason why they did not react as strongly
    against Israeli occupation and colonization as their neighbors on
    the left; this may be one reason why there are much more
    Germans today on the left that actually sympathize with Israel
    (one prominent example, member of the “European elites”
    WigWag referred to, is Joschka Fisher). I was in Berlin recently,
    and the main sentiment among young people there on the left,
    was definitely pro Israel.
    What WigWag could have done, was to interpret both choices as
    European expressions of shame and distance to their past,
    against the actions and mentalities of their grandparents and
    beyond. For the young Germans of today, the most urgent thing
    would be to secure the Israeli state, a country for the Jews, to
    avoid history from repeating itself. For young French, British or
    Spanish leftists, the important thing would be to avoid that
    Israel does the same against the Palestinians as their own
    grandparents and beyond did against Palestinians, Arabs in
    general and the world beyond that region.
    But though this thought must have crossed WigWags mind, she
    did not chose to interpret it that way, because it would not fit
    into her general demonization of Europe.
    Thus she claims that the shame Europeans in 2008 feel about
    their colonial past, the shame that make them favor the
    Palestinians, is somehow the ultimate proof of their eternal
    anti-Semitism.
    This is not logical thinking, this is blind and stubborn
    demonization – just as stubborn as WigWags good old
    resentment against Barrack Obama and those Americans on the
    left who drink cafe latte and drive a Prius.
    And this stubbornness, these phobias and flawed arguments
    supported by correct historical facts, is what we are seeing
    again. It`s a pity, because, as I`ve said before, Wigwag is
    capable of nuanced arguments when she is not in the grip of
    her phobias.
    (And don`t waste your time arguing that Germans also did
    horrible things during their short stunt as colonialists –
    especially in Namibia. Their crimes as anti-Semites are still
    bigger than their crimes as colonialists. And yes, I am well
    aware of the fact that anti-semitism was rampant all over
    Europe; that it`s not a German speciality)

    Reply

  24. WigWag says:

    “And Wig-wag? Here on this thread, which was about Israel/Palestine, we see him offering the same old shit of portraying the Jews as eternal victims, this time at the hands of those ‘ol nasty anti-semitic Europeans. In Wigwag’s surreal world of justification, obfuscations, false rationales, and disingenuous poppycock, all one need do to acquit the Israeli leadership of MODERN DAY crimes against humanity is open the history books and travel back a few decades, centuries, or eons, and all is forgiven, the Israelis are justified in their treatment of the Palestinians. Or, if not justified, at the very least acting in an “understandable” manner, considering their history.”
    No, you have it wrong. The post was not merely about Israel-Palestine, it was about Walter Russell Mead and his article and the lecture he gave at the New America Foundation. My comment didn’t defend Israel’s behavior or compliment Israel’s behavior. My comment referred to my skepticism about the argument made by Walter Russell Mead in the article that Steve linked to, suggesting that if Israel made sacrifices for peace, they might be rewarded by an invitation to join NATO and with a qualititatively different relationship with Europe. It was completely on topic to point out that given the brutal history of Europe in both the distant past and the very recent past that expecting them to play a positive role was naive. And for all the hemming and hawing about how severely I’ve criticized the Europeans, no one who has referred to my comments on this thread has been able to refute my argument that the Europeans can’t be expected to play a positive role. In fact, no one has even tried. It’s a good thing, because trying to make a case that Europe might actually contribute something positive is a very hard case to make indeed.
    If you have read Mead’s piece, you know that it wasn’t about how bad Israel’s behavior is or about how bad the Palestinian’s behavior is. Dan Kervick and POA and Arthur and Paul may want to talk about how awful they think the Israelis are, but Mead doesn’t even refer to that in his article. The article is about new and creative strategies to reinvigorate enthusiasm about the peace process, especially on the Palestinian side. The central tenet of Mead’s argument is that if the Obama Administration shows real empathy to the plight and history of the Palestinian refugees, that this will facilitate peace between Israel and Palestine. In fact, Mead argues that the international community is far more responsible for the tragedy that befell the Palestinian exiles than the Israelis are, so the international community should bear the brunt of the cost of recompensing the Palestinian refugees for losing their homes and property. By the way, Mead also suggests that the international community should recompense Israelis who migrated to Israel from Arab countries who experienced confiscation of their property at the hands of the Iraqis, the Syrians, the Lebanese, the Iranians and other Muslim countries.
    Mead also suggests that the United States could provide a major inducement to Israel by working to get them admitted to NATO and get them more integrated with Europe. In light of the importance that Mead places on the role Europe might play, it is entirely in keeping with the spirit of Mead’s argument for me to raise the history of the relationship between Europe and its Jews.
    I will not speculate on the motivations of commenters who think that every Steve Clemon’s post about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is an excuse to rant about how bad Israeli behavior is. I don’t know their motivations or what’s in their hearts so I won’t pretend to try. But the same arguments don’t become more persuasive or more interesting just because they’ve been made one hundred and one times instead of one hundred times.
    One of the great things about Walter Russell Mead is that he is attempting to get beyond the same old tired arguments that don’t change anyone’s mind. And he’s suggesting concrete steps to get beyond the blame game that might actually make things better.
    I’m certainly no expert; I’m just a dilettante like alot of the folks who comment here. In my humble opinion, Mead’s suggestions are interesting. I just think that if they’re going to succeed they will have to succeed without alot of help from the Europeans.
    The Europeans have created many of the problems the world is facing today and they have solved very few. They also have longstanding and enduring problems with Jews. I think by ignoring this, Mead’s argument is somewhat weakened

    Reply

  25. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I agree with Arthur sometimes, sometimes I don’t. Truth is, I can say that about all the posters here, and can say the same about our host.
    Now, you dissembling jackass, perhaps you will point out to us where it is that I have agreed with any statements from Arthur, or anyone else, that are “anti-semitic”.
    Now, because there are occassions that I agree with Arthur, I’m “antisemitic”, or “don’t understand anti-semitism”?
    Look, heres the deal. Your eternal victimhood doesn’t work with me, and as far as I’m concerned, you can shove your accusations, your bullshit “guilt by association” insinuations, and your “you need to read a book” horseshit.
    Israel is committing crimes against humanity, what they are doing in Gaza is despicable and evil, and there isn’t a book written that will change, negate, or erase that fact. And all your slimey dissembling and timeworn excuses don’t alter one aspect of what Israel is doing to the Palestinians.
    Truth is, I find you to be loathsome in your constant excuses and justificationsm, all couched in some pseudo-intellectual pretense of “greater knowledge”.
    Like I said, go screw yourself.

    Reply

  26. Sweetness says:

    “Amazing, ain’t it? I shared a story here a while back about a
    jewish restaraunt owner in Hayden Lake Idaho who was forced
    out of town by Reverend Butler and his “church”, the “Aryan
    Nation”. So whats this asshole Sweetness do? Use the story I
    shared to insult me. Why, because I am a vocal critic of Israel’s
    policies towards the Palestinians.”
    As usual, you don’t read. Are you able? The point of your story
    was that you understood what anti-Semitism was all about. The
    point of my post is…you don’t. Or, put it this way…your
    understanding is severely limited. Case in point, arthurdecco
    has been outed several times here for spreading the worst sort
    of anti-Semitic views. They’ve been reprinted here word for
    word. They are overt and they are ugly.
    Here on this blog, he regularly slimes around in this territory,
    but in more underhanded ways, see his post on Caroline
    Kennedy and Michael Bloomberg for a recent example.
    Yet, you, seemingly, are pleased to have him as a fellow traveler.
    Then again, maybe you just missed all those posts. Must have
    been on that half a day you take off from posting on this blog.
    Here’s a little advice I’m sure you’ll ignore: Your much vaunted
    common sense will only take you so far; reading a book or two
    will take you a LOT further.
    As far as your being a vocal critic of Israel, I couldn’t care less.

    Reply

  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Amazing, ain’t it? I shared a story here a while back about a jewish restaraunt owner in Hayden Lake Idaho who was forced out of town by Reverend Butler and his “church”, the “Aryan Nation”. So whats this asshole Sweetness do? Use the story I shared to insult me. Why, because I am a vocal critic of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. So in this jackass Sweetness’ twisted little tunnel of assholishness, a story I shared about true, real, and blatant anti-semitism means I don’t understand the nuanced and subtler forms of anti-semitism that is cited by Wig-Wag and Sweetness as an excuse and justification everytime they want to divert attention fronm Israel’s inhumanity towards the Palestinians.
    And Wig-wag? Here on this thread, which was about Israel/Palestine, we see him offering the same old shit of portraying the jews as eternal victims, this time at the hands of those ‘ol nasty anti-semitic europeans. In Wigwag’s surreal world of justification, obsfucations, false rationales, and disingenuos poppycock, all one need do to acquit the Israeli leadership of MODERN DAY crimes against humanity is open the history books and travel back a few decades, centuries, or eons, and all is forgiven, the Israelis are justified in their treatment of the Palestinians. Or, if not justified, at the very least acting in an “understandable” manner, considering their history.
    What horseshit. And then the braying apologist for genocide manages to slip in an insinuation that I am somehow less than “honest”. That applies to this thread, how? And, uhm, where is the dishonesty on my part? Perhaps he’ll explain that one to us.
    Or not.

    Reply

  28. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Go screw yourself, Sweetness.

    Reply

  29. WigWag says:

    “Isn´t this brilliant? Every time Israel make dozens of Palestinian relatives of a suspected terrorist collectively guilty, bombing their houses in the middle of the night, every single European (living in Denmark, Spain, Germany, or Iceland) should shut up and contemplate our collective guilt.”
    No, not just when Israel destroys the familial homes of suspected terrorist; Europeans should be contemplating their collective guilt, at all times. Let me ask you, Paul, why do you think Europeans are so focused on the misdeeds of Israel when their own misdeeds are so dramatically worse? You do think they’re far worse, don’t you?
    And by the way, while Jews have been Europe’s most longstanding target, they are not the only target. Look at how Muslim immigrants are treated in Europe and look at European attitudes about Turkey joining the EU. Europe has an even bigger racism problem than the United States does.
    “And by extension: every time some European, Arab or Chinese member of a mob harasses an African, every single American should keep silent and contemplate their collective guilt. And no living American from the Mexican to the Canadian border is allowed to open their mouth against slavery and racism in certain Arab countries; only the Chinese (who won’t criticize them anyway) can do so.”
    No, you have it backwards; Americans should refrain from criticizing Native Americans or the descendants of African slaves. There’s no problem with Americans criticizing the oppressors of those groups. They should just think twice before they criticize descendants of people they’ve killed or enslaved.
    I find it mind boggling why anyone would think that’s so controversial.
    The simple reality is that Europe has a problem with Jews; they have for a thousand years and to a lesser extent they still do. That you can’t see that this might color how they view Israel’s role in the Middle East is just obfuscation.
    And by the way, none of this means that Israel’s behavior is always good or beyond criticism. It’s not. But the section in my original comment that you found so objectionable was my skepticism with Walter Russell Mead’s suggestion that Europe had a positive role to play. Given their past behavior, I think my skepticism is well founded.
    To be frank about it, if you look at the trouble spots in the world today, some of them have American finger prints on them (e.g. Iran, Cuba) but far more have European finger prints on them (Iraq and the rest of the Arab world, India, Pakistan, most of Africa).
    Is it really so outrageous to ask that given their destructive role in world affairs over so many years, that the Europeans be a little more self-reflective and a little more circumspect in dispensing advice or criticism to others?
    Many commentators at the Washington Note, including some of the people who have posted comments on this thread, point out with great regularity the destructive role that American foreign policy has played all over the globe. In light of this, I can’t imagine why anyone would object to my pointing out that European behavior has been far worse for far longer. As bad as George W. Bush has been, his failures and the destruction they have wrought pale in comparison to what the Europeans have imposed on the world.
    Isn’t this just obvious?

    Reply

  30. Sweetness says:

    Wig, I think anyone has a right to criticize anyone and have their
    arguments judged on the basis of their merits. This should go
    without saying.
    OTOH, Paul, as MLK said, the truth in the mouth of liars is a lie.
    Thus, we have arthurdecco, who openly espouses anti-Semitic
    views that have NOTHING to do with Israel and the Palestinians,
    adding his voice to what would otherwise be a “reasonable
    argument.”
    And POA, who CLAIMS to understand anti-Semitism because he
    once knew a small restaurateur who was run out of town by
    some skinheads, is more than willing to overlook arthur’s views,
    join his voice to his and thereby condone his more than dubious
    outlook.
    So it becomes tricky, Dan K, because one is forced to judge, not
    just the arguments, but the underlying motives of those words
    and arguments. And when there is a LONG history of self-
    serving anti-Semitism within a certain community, e.g., broad
    swaths of Europe, one needs to take a second or third look.
    Wig is right, and I think we’d all agree: Americans are hardly free
    of racism. What makes us think that Europe is free of anti-
    Semitism? All that said, Wig, I think it’s silly and illegitimate to
    simply exclude Europe: One just has to look at what they say,
    how they say it, and their motivations for saying it.

    Reply

  31. Paul Norheim says:

    Just one more thing.
    WigWag said: “If you think the Europeans can be trusted, why
    don’t you travel to Israel and ask the thousands of people still
    alive who have numbers tattooed on their arms what they think?

    Victims still alive with numbers tattooed on their arms, is one
    thing. The crimes of the State of Israel against Palestinians is an
    entirely different thing.
    Why should the Europeans shut up in the Israel/Palestine
    conflict, and instead contemplate their collective guilt, their
    thousand years of anti-Semitism?
    The answer is very simple: The opinion of the Europeans has
    some weight in the “international community” – meaning: if
    Washington and US media start listening to European criticism
    of Israeli actions, tactics and strategies, it may change the way
    Americans look at the conflict, resulting in some serious,
    coordinated pressure on Israel.
    This is what I meant with “trivializing” anti-Semitism. It secures
    the “equilibrium”, the horrible status quo that WigWag has been
    defending during the last weeks.

    Reply

  32. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag asks Dan Kervick: “I would be curious about which part
    of my recitation of European history you find incorrect.”
    I can`t answer for Dan K, but personally I have absolutely no
    problem with your recitation, it`s your arguments, your
    conclusions that are extreme, megalomanic, and dubious. No
    European have the right to criticize Israel, not one of them, both
    because they are collectively responsible for the crimes
    committed against the Jews through history, and because their
    criticism is anti-Semitic.
    But then, perhaps you didn`t mean to say so. Now, you seem to
    say that perhaps some Europeans actually have the right to
    criticize Israel – perhaps some people from Denmark, Holland,
    even Germany.
    Then again, perhaps not. Your mood seem to change between
    posts, and even within one comment, leading to a change of
    mind in drastic ways. Because after mentioning these historical
    exceptions, you conclude: “The only people excluded are those
    who live on a continent that committed genocide within the life
    times of hundreds of thousands of people still alive.”
    Isn´t this brilliant? Every time Israel make dozens of Palestinian
    relatives of a suspected terrorist collectively guilty, bombing
    their houses in the middle of the night, every single European
    (living in Denmark, Spain, Germany, or Iceland) should shut up
    and contemplate our collective guilt.
    And by extension: every time some European, Arab or Chinese
    member of a mob harass an African, every single American
    should keep silent and contemplate their collective guilt.
    And no living American from the Mexican to the Canadian
    border are allowed to open their mouth against slavery and
    racism in certain Arab countries; only the Chinese (who won`t
    criticize them anyway) can do so.
    Those who live on a continent… Ever been in Europe, WigWag?
    Had conversations with Europeans (except with people like me
    on a blog)?
    I know you`re capable of very nuanced statements and valid
    arguments, WigWag – when it suits you; when you`re in the
    mood to make them. But I can`t remember last time I read
    comments at TWN containing such extreme generalizations and
    weird arguments as your rants above on this thread.
    Those who live on this continent are permitted to say… while
    those who live on that continent are not allowed to… Who are
    you to sit somewhere in Florida and deliver such megalomanic
    decrees on behalf of history and mankind?
    Ridiculous.

    Reply

  33. WigWag says:

    Paul Norheim asks, “Who has the “right” to criticize Israeli occupation and colonization?”
    The answer is simple; any nation or national group who didn’t participate in the reign of terror against Jews. And by the way, while some Scandinavian countries, especially Denmark, played a heroic role during World War II, nationals of European countries who aspire to be part of greater Europe share the responsibility in the same way that Americans who arrived in the United States after slavery ended, still share in the responsibility owed to the descendants of African slaves. So who can criticize Israel? The Chinese, the Indians, the Canadians, the various South American nations; in short the list is very long. The only people excluded are those who live on a continent that committed genocide within the life times of hundreds of thousands of people still alive.
    Paul Norheim also says,”Doesn`t this sound alarmingly similar to anti-Semitic conspiracy-theory turned upside down?” No. But it does sound remarkably similar to the claim that white Americans still owe a debt to the descendants of African slaves because we still suffer from the legacy of slavery. It’s funny how many Europeans believe that America suffers from a legacy of slavery but won’t consider the possibility that they suffer from a legacy of Anti-Semitism. Those who make that claim about Americans are right. Of course, Europe murdered its entire Jewish population almost 70 years after slavery in the United States ended. If this type of legacy pervades the United States, it certainly pervades Europe.
    Dan Kervick says, “You are engaging is some very uncharacteristically sleazy forms of fallacious argument, WigWag.” I would be curious about which part of my recitation of European history you find incorrect. There is nothing “sleazy” about being historically accurate. You and others may find it uncomfortable to be presented with the reality of European history but that doesn’t make the truth sleazy.
    Dan Kervick also says, “Criticisms of Israel by Europeans are rebutted by pointing out that some earlier Europeans did some very evil things to Jews?” Are you kidding? “Some earlier Europeans?” The millennium long Jihad against the Jews occurred in the biggest and strongest countries in Europe. It was a European enterprise for which Europeans bear collective responsibility. A few European countries had no Jews, and a few behaved in exemplary ways on some occasions (e.g. Denmark and The Netherlands and even France during the period of Napoleon). But Jews were being attacked, tortured and tormented somewhere in Europe almost constituently for a thousand years. Diminishing this behavior by attributing it to “a few Europeans” is, to use your word, sleazy.
    I understand completely that Israel’s behavior is worthy of criticism but the crimes of Europe have been far greater; they are very recent and with a few exceptions (e.g. the Germans) they have been largely ignored. In an earlier comment, Paul Norheim, accused me of lacking a “nuanced view” of the Europeans. This is precisely the critique that Israelis make when they’re criticized by Europeans. The Israelis are entirely correct.
    Arthur Decco says, “Wig Wag is not an honest broker when the subject is Israel. He/She will do or say anything to protect the myth of Israel as a beacon of democracy and reason in the shifting sands of the barren and belligerent Middle East. On this subject, Wig Wag cannot be depended on to tell the truth.
    POA says, “Arthur nails it. If you’re gonna have a debate or discussion about Israel and the Palestinians, talking to Wigwag is just like pissin’ in the wind.”
    Arthur and POA can be relied on to be “honest brokers?” Are we really supposed to believe that?
    On a happier note, for those who celebrate them, Happy Holdays everone!

    Reply

  34. Dan Kervick says:

    “Now what’s so hard to understand about that?”
    It’s understandable, but disappointing. You are engaging is some very uncharacteristically sleazy forms of fallacious argument, WigWag.
    The charge that Israelis are taking what does not belong to them in Palestine is rebutted by claiming that the charge reminds you of earlier antisemitic criticisms of Jews for “occupying” Poland?
    The charge that Israelis are responsible for evil thing X is rebutted by arguing that evil thing X is not as evil as evil thing Y which was done to Israelis and their ancestors?
    Criticisms of Israel by Europeans are rebutted by pointing out that some earlier Europeans did some very evil things to Jews?
    I think we can stipulate ahead of time that just about any criticisms of Israel, no matter how just and accurate, (i) will be reminiscent in certain ways of earlier unjust antisemitic criticisms, (ii) will be charges of kinds of Israeli wrongdoing that are not as evil as the Holocaust, and (iii) will be made by people who are from nations, or whose ancestors hail from nations, in which many people committed crimes against Jews.
    It seems like you want to build out of these facts a kind of permanent moral permission slip for Israelis to do whatever they want yo Palestinians.

    Reply

  35. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Arthur nails it. If you’re gonna have a debate or discussion about Israel and the Palestinians, talking to Wigwag is just like pissin’ in the wind.

    Reply

  36. Paul Norheim says:

    “And I’m sure you do see proof about how bad the Israelis are on
    European TV screens several times a week; but of course, that
    only proves my point. Like the rest of Europe, the European press
    is so imbued with the legacy of Anti-Semitism that they happily
    focus on both the misdeeds and faux-misdeeds of the Israel
    while ignoring the other side of the story.” (WigWag)
    Doesn`t this sound alarmingly similar to anti-Semitic conspiracy-
    theory turned upside down?
    Change the pronouns in that last sentence, and you`ll get this:
    “Like the rest of America, the American press is so imbued with
    Jewishness that they happily focus on both the misdeeds and
    faux-misdeeds of the Palestinians while ignoring the other side of
    the story.”

    Reply

  37. Paul Norheim says:

    Arthur, as I see it, nothing has changed. My simple point has
    always been that it`s important to distinguish between legitimate
    critique of Israel on one side, and anti-Semitism on the other.
    This goes for those who criticize, as well as the criticized part.
    And as you saw above, WigWag blurred that line deliberately, and
    in an extreme manner.

    Reply

  38. arthurdecco says:

    ‘And if Israel and its defenders continue to blur that line, alluding to Holocaust every time someone criticize them after a bomb raid killing dozens of civilians, don`t act as if you`re surprised if more people may lend an ear to demagogues like David Irving.”
    What’s changed, Mr. Norheim? Is it the fact that this time Wig Wag shamelessly slurred Europeans while lying once again in support of Israel?
    Wig Wag is not an honest broker when the subject is Israel. He/She will do or say anything to protect the myth of Israel as a beacon of democracy and reason in the shifting sands of the barren and belligerent Middle East.
    On this subject, Wig Wag cannot be depended on to tell the truth.
    You, on the other hand, have delivered a post that I honestly didn’t think you had in you with: Posted by Paul Norheim Dec 23, 2:42AM.
    You have regained my respect with it.

    Reply

  39. Paul Norheim says:

    By continuing to blur that line, WigWag, you`re just proving my
    point above, in a surprisingly extreme manner.
    Who has the “right” to criticize Israeli occupation and
    colonization?
    The Mongols? The Ethiopians? People from the Fiji Islands?
    Or if they did so, that would prove that they are infected by
    European anti-Semitism, wouldn`t it?

    Reply

  40. haypops says:

    WigWag points out that things are rarely as they seem. Why is that so hard to believe.

    Reply

  41. WigWag says:

    “Wow. This is really scurrilous WigWag. You really don’t see any difference between concerns about colonization and brutal dispossession in militarily occupied territories and anti-Semitic concerns about peaceful and legal Jewish cultural influence?”
    What’s scurrilous, Dan, is the last thousand years of European history. Nothing that either the Israelis (or the Arabs) have done even comes close.
    There are plenty of reasons to be critical of Israel (and of the Arab States and Palestinians too). But given the blood on their hands, the Europeans should be circumspect before they criticize anyone; especially a state made up in large part of people whose forebears they murdered.
    I respect Walter Russell Mead, but I am skeptical of his position that we can expect Europe to play a positive role in the search for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. If you think the Europeans can be trusted, why don’t you travel to Israel and ask the thousands of people still alive who have numbers tattooed on their arms what they think?
    Now what’s so hard to understand about that?

    Reply

  42. JohnH says:

    If there is a truly just peace accord, why wouldn’t NATO admit Palestine along with Israel? They could even include Iraq and Afghanistan for good measure! Or maybe they should just become the 51st-54th states.

    Reply

  43. Dan Kervick says:

    It’s interesting how most Europeans have known that since 1967 that Israelis have occupied territories that belong to the Palestinians. It’s reminiscent of how most Poles knew in the 1930’s how their country was owned and occupied by Jews.
    Wow. This is really scurrilous WigWag. You really don’t see any difference between concerns about colonization and brutal dispossession in militarily occupied territories and antisemitic concerns about peaceful and legal Jewish cultural influence?

    Reply

  44. WigWag says:

    The thrust of my point, Paul was that as smart and creative as Walter Russell Mead is, there are aspects to his proposal that are unrealistic. In his Foreign Affairs article he says “the prospect of a just settlement for the Palestinians and an end to the occupation would also open the door to a new age in European-Israeli relations…The United States should press its NATO allies for conditional assurances that an Israeli-Palestinian agreement would open the alliance’s doors to the Jewish state…” I am simply suggesting that the legacy of Anti-Semitism that pervades European elites on both the left and the right makes me highly skeptical that the Europeans can play a valuable role.
    As to your specific points, you say “most Europeans happen to know that the Israelis since 1967 have occupied territories that belong to the Palestinians, that they have denied them their most basic rights. Several times a week they see proof of this on European TV screens. Doesn’t this ever strike you as a plausible cause for European “antipathy towards Israel and sympathy for the Palestinians?”
    It’s interesting how most Europeans have known that since 1967 that Israelis have occupied territories that belong to the Palestinians. It’s reminiscent of how most Poles knew in the 1930’s how their country was owned and occupied by Jews. It also brings to mind how utterly convinced the Germans were between World War I and World War II that the Jews controlled all the levers of power in Germany. And we all know about how the French handled their Jewish problem; they happily rid their country of its Jewish “occupiers” by assiduously aiding the Nazis in shipping them off to extermination camps.
    And I’m sure you do see proof about how bad the Israelis are on European TV screens several times a week; but of course, that only proves my point. Like the rest of Europe, the European press is so imbued with the legacy of Anti-Semitism that they happily focus on both the misdeeds and faux-misdeeds of the Israel while ignoring the other side of the story. It’s just a little too convenient, isn’t it, that the European press is so much more focused on the conflict in Israel/Palestine than on ethnic and religious conflicts throughout the rest of the world? But this shouldn’t be surprising. After all, one of the parties to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is a group of people that Europe has made a habit of terrorizing in word and in deed for a millennium. And of course, there are no Jews left in Europe to give the Israeli side of the story. The Europeans insured that by murdering them all.
    And you say “by deliberately blurring that line, you contribute to the trivialization of Holocaust and the real anti-Semitism floating around today -transforming the whole issue to pure political tactics.” But of course, it’s not just the Holocaust. That was only the culmination of a thousand year Jihad that Europeans inflicted on their Jewish population. If you don’t like me mentioning the Holocaust, maybe you prefer my allusion to the behavior of the crusaders towards the Jews on their way to the Holy Land. Or maybe you prefer me to mention the expulsions from England and France and later from Spain and Portugal. Or maybe it would be better of me to bring up forced conversions at the hands of the pope and his mignons or the squalid ghettoes that existed in almost every major city in Europe. Or perhaps it would be more appropriate to mention the pogroms in Russia, the Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Am I trivializing the Holocaust by bringing up that history too, Paul?
    The simple reality is that the Europeans come to this debate with unclean hands. Through their behavior they have forfeited the right to be taken seriously when they comment on the situation in the Middle East. In light of their history it’s perfectly reasonable to question whether they’re more a part of the problem than of the solution. European support for the Palestinians is no more worthy of respect than American support of white South Africans in the 1980s. When a country (or in Europe’s case a continent) takes sides in a conflict against a party it has tormented for hundreds of years it is hard to attribute any sense of equity or objectivity to their point of view.
    You’re “fed-up” with my lack of nuance when criticizing the Europeans? Somehow I think that might be how the Israelis feel about the European criticism of them.
    “Fed-up” is as good a word as any.

    Reply

  45. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://desertpeace.wordpress.com/2008/12/23/raising-a-child-under-the-siege/
    RAISING A CHILD UNDER THE SIEGE
    December 23, 2008 at 6:54 am
    ‘In Gaza, all dreams and hope have gone’
    Ameera Ahmad, 25, gave birth to daughter Layan six months ago. Here, she tells of life under siege and of her struggle to bring up a child after 18 months of Israeli blockade
    During the months of the blockade, everything in my life has changed. Before, I would wake up and hope that tomorrow would be better than today. But it never happened. The reason is simple. It is because I live in Gaza, where all dreams and hope vanish because of the situation we live in.
    Even the most basic things are really hard to find. My daughter, Layan, is six months old. Things are so tough here that even when I needed to buy baby formula for her, I can’t find it. All the money that my husband Fady and I had saved up we have spent during the last three months. I never imagined that my children would grow up like this, in this awful predicament. Poor and always threatened.
    My husband is a television cameraman and sound man. But he has not received any salary during the last three months. The problem is that he works for a Palestinian company, but because this company is Palestinian there is very little work, and even then he has to wait until they decide they can afford to pay him. He can’t even get insurance for his life because his work here is dangerous, covering the internal fighting or Israeli incursions.
    Everything here that you need to survive is hard to find. There can be no electricity for hours and hours. Some days we only have power for six hours a day. Recently we had a period when we had no power at all for two whole days.
    Another big challenge is getting gas for cooking. We are still unable to find bottled gas at the moment, which means I can’t boil the water to prepare Layan’s milk. You can get it in Gaza sometimes, but it costs a lot of money because it is smuggled through the tunnels from Egypt. In fact, the tunnels from Egypt control and define our whole lives. There are a lot of them. It is how the flour that I buy comes into Gaza.
    But everything that comes under the border that way comes at a really high price. Before we had to rely on the tunnels and goods were still coming through from Israel – before Israel’s economic blockade – one bottle of water cost just one shekel. Now it costs more than five shekels. In fact, these tunnels increase our suffering. The Hamas government even taxes the owners of these tunnels.
    And there are other things I just cannot find. Bread is a really big problem at the moment and sometimes we go for days on end without having any bread. And meat is an even bigger problem. It is so expensive. Recently there have been times when we have gone without meat for long periods because of the cost and because what money my husband does receive, when he gets it, is needed for the most important things of all – like finding baby formula for Layan.
    I used to work as well, as a translator here in Gaza. But because of the siege and the difficult conditions I haven’t had the chance to work for many months.
    It is strange. When you walk around Gaza and talk to people in the streets you think that people look happy and normal, getting on with their lives. It is only when you look into their eyes that you see the fear.
    Before Layan was born, my husband and I used to talk a lot about whether we should try to leave. Whether it would be better if she was not born here. We still think about leaving Gaza, but we can’t get out because of the siege.
    The Israelis only let out some people who are really ill and a few people with special passes. The rest of us are trapped. Even then, it is hard to find someone to offer you an invitation from outside which might make it possible to leave.

    Reply

  46. Paul Norheim says:

    I`m fed up with this deliberate lack of nuance from WigWag.
    Claiming that when Europeans criticize Israel, they do it because
    they hate the Jews, is nothing more than cheap psychoanalysis
    and convenient tactics used to avoid criticism, practiced by the
    Israeli state and its defenders for decades.
    If many Europeans feel sympathy for Palestinians and antipathy
    towards Israel “largely based on the shame (they) feel about
    their own brutal history of colonialism” – well, then this may be
    proof of their shame for their colonial past.
    Why is this such an excellent proof of anti-Semitism still
    flourishing in Europe?
    Most Europeans happen to know that the Israelis since 1967
    have occupied territories that belong to the Palestinians, that
    they have denied them their most basic rights. Several times a
    week they see proof of this on European TV screens. Doesn`t
    this ever strike you as a plausible cause for European “antipathy
    towards Israel and sympathy for the Palestinians”?
    When you don`t distinguish between legitimate critique of the
    State of Israel and anti-Semitic hate, how can you expect that
    those who criticize Israel should worry about that distinction?
    By deliberately blurring that line, you contribute to the
    trivialization of Holocaust and the real anti-Semitism floating
    around today – transforming the whole issue to pure political
    tactics. And if Israel and its defenders continue to blur that line,
    alluding to Holocaust every time someone criticize them after a
    bomb raid killing dozens of civilians, don`t act as if you`re
    surprised if more people may lend an ear to demagogues like
    David Irving.

    Reply

  47. JohnH says:

    Mead makes good old fashioned common sense, which probably means that he will be ridiculed and ignored for all the reasons that Wigwag elaborates. Basically, Israelis are unlikely to give up any land, air or water to get marginally more security, particularly when there is a hoard of armed zealots eagerly waiting to take out any wannabe Rabin.
    The real question therefore is how the West can convince itself to make Israel an offer it can’t refuse in return for providing the West more security and better relations with the Muslim world. Bush didn’t think the West needed more security with the Arab world. In fact, a policy that created a few terrorists also served to justify GWOT, which in turn provided satisfactory cover for American geopolitical ambitions in the energy rich Muslim world.
    Have American geopolitical ambitions diminished with the arrival of Obama? If not, does the foreign policy/national “security” mob have new ways to justify and communicate its imperial ambitions? If not, I see nothing but more of the same, both in the Levant and in oil-rich Muslim states.

    Reply

  48. dwg says:

    I agree that POA says it well here. I don’t agree that America should put only its own interests ahead of any other.
    Wars inspired by Patriotism is simply another flavor of nationalism, holy-war or “ethnic strife.” Another term for it is “exceptionalism.” OR you could simply call it terminal uniqueness.
    When the citizens of the US take on their responsibilities as as members of a universe – human, animal, plant and mineral – and reject the role of “super-power” or ubermenschen, the universe will be a better place.
    I have ordered Avraham Burg’s book cited above. The reviews are fascinating and I’m very much looking forward to it.

    Reply

  49. Gerald says:

    Well said, PissedOffAmerican. Furthermore, it’s time to put US interests ahead of those of Israel’s. Any American patriot would have to agree to that. No more American blood for Israel, or any other country for that matter. That’s if you believe the two are indeed different countries. Many people view Israel as an extension of the US, although saying that phrase the other way round might be a little more accurate.

    Reply

  50. WigWag says:

    Walter Russell Mead is a smart and thoughtful commentator on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Of even greater interest than the article that Steve sites is an essay that Mead wrote for the July/August, 2008 issue of Foreign Affairs entitled “The New Israel and the Old: Why Gentile Americans Back the Jewish State.” The purpose of that essay was to demolish the Mearsheimer/Walt thesis. It’s a mission that Mead accomplished with alacrity. In the debate between them, Mearsheimer and Walt come out looking disheveled and small. Anyone who wants to understand why the vast majority of American’s provide the Zionist enterprise with unstinting support while holding the Palestinians and other Arabs in disdain (unfairly in my opinion) should read it.
    In his new essay in Foreign Affairs, Mead attempts to take a fresh look at the etiology of the conflict. And he makes some concrete recommendations that on the face of it make sense. I’ve never seen a better or more accurate description of the underlying psychological motivations and insecurities of the parties. While his recommendation to the incoming Obama Administration to demonstrate that it understands and empathizes with the tragedy of the Palestinian refuges could only help, Mead’s suggestion that the problem of the refugees be viewed as the core issue is, unfortunately, a fool’s errand.
    Peace is not possible as long as neither side is particularly invested in achieving it. Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are going to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve peace just because it will make the lives of the Americans and Europeans less complicated. And despite the posturing, peace with the Palestinians is not the central preoccupation of the Israelis and peace with the Israelis is not the central preoccupation of the Palestinians. Two years ago, the Palestinians elected Hamas; in a few months the Israelis are likely to vote for a government that will be formed by Likud. The results of neither election suggest that Israelis or Palestinians are particularly interested in a negotiated settlement. If they were, their most recalcitrant political parties would not have been victorious.
    To the Israelis, the Palestinians are little more than a nuisance. They’re like the ETA to Spain or like the Tibetans to the Chinese. Their rockets keep hitting the Negev, but rarely does anyone get hurt. If Hamas starts developing longer range rockets, the Israelis will invade Gaza, bomb the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt and eliminate the problem. And surreptitiously the Egyptians will help Israel in this venture because they hate Hamas even more than the Israelis do. Yes, it will only work for a year or two, but the Israelis can keep doing this until the end of time. Israel’s real strategic concerns are with Hezbollah and Iran. Making peace with the Palestinians does nothing to address these strategic issues. What could address Israel’s “Shiite” problem is peace with Syria. When he was alive, Yasser Arafat always understood that peace between Israel and Syria was the biggest threat to Palestinian aspirations. If Israel and Syria (with the assistance of the Turks) do reach an agreement, the prospect of peace between Israel and Palestine fades even further into the background.
    And peace with Israelis is not the central preoccupation of the Palestinians either. I laugh when Steve Clemons and others suggest that the United States, Europe and even Israel should try to help Hamas and Fatah reach a rapprochement. The dispute between Hamas and Fatah is not about how hard a line to take on negotiations with Israel and it’s not about whether to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Their dispute is the same dispute that’s going on between coreligionists all over the Muslim world; it’s a dispute between a secular vision and a theocratic vision. From Iran to Saudi Arabia to Pakistan to Chechnya to Somalia, theocratic and secular forces are fighting for control of the Muslim world. There will be unity between Hamas and Fatah when there’s unity between the Mubarak Government and the Muslim Brotherhood or when Turkey solves its head scarf imbroglio or when the Karzai Government and the Taliban form a coalition or when there’s peace in Kashmir. For Hamas, its fight with Israel is as much about rallying support from Palestinians in the fight against Fatah as it is about confronting the Israelis. With peace with Israel or without it, Palestinians would still be engaged in the same civil war. Mead’s recommendation for the peace process might still be relevant when this fight between Hamas and Fatah is over, but judging by what’s happening in the rest of the Muslim world, that could be a very long time in the future.
    And some of Mead’s specific suggestions seem particularly unrealistic. Speaking of the costs associated with compensating (bribing) the Palestinian refugees, he says “The expense will be significant; according to the Aix Group, an economic forum comprising Israeli, Palestinian, and international economists and policymakers, the total potential costs of compensation to Palestinian refugees can be estimated at $55-$85 billion…. Under this program, the United States would make the largest contribution of any single country..” Has Mead looked out of the window lately, or should I say has he turned on CNBC recently?
    And even more unlikely is his suggestion that if Israel makes a peace deal, the U.S. should pressure the Europeans to let Israel into NATO. This would require NATO to defend Israel if it was ever attacked.
    Europeans will never acquiesce to letting Israel into NATO if, for no other reason, than the fact that Europeans are far more Anti-Semitic than they care to admit (of course they have animosity to all Semitic people; that would include Arabs as well as Jews). Some may think that after a thousand year history of exiling their Jews, murdering them while on the way to kill Muslims in the Holy Land, converting them at pain of death, allowing pogroms to continue unabated and finally extinguishing their entire Jewish population that somehow, as if by magic, Europeans have gotten over their thousand year history of bigotry and hatred in a mere 70 years. Forgive my skepticism. What better proof can there be that European Anti-Semitism still flourishes than the fact that their sympathy for Palestinians and antipathy towards Israel is largely based on the shame Europeans feel about their own brutal history of colonialism. What better way to exorcise that guilt than by beating up on a country made up of people you hate so much that you killed a large percentage of their family members?
    As a condition of peace, Europe will let Israel join NATO at just about the same time they let Turkey into the European Union.
    When will that be you wonder?
    When hell freezes over.

    Reply

  51. carol says:

    There will never be any peace in the Middle East until we stop backing up Israel at every turn.
    The US have always taken sides over this conflict in the favour of Israel…..I just don’t get it, they have a large army with high tech gear, planes and tanks etc and yet we have to back them up and what do the Palestinian people have as regards weaponry…very little!!!
    This on going love for Israel by us is what kills any peace talks as far as I’m concerned….how can we be an honest broker in this when we favour one side no matter what??

    Reply

  52. alan says:

    I don’t want to sound churlish. But how many of these discussions/symposia/policy reviews have we had over several decades? And how effective have they been? All that comes out of the Israel-Palestine “question” is a series of meetings, exchanges, conferences – call it what you will – which provide employment for a coterie of members of the FP establishment. The practical results: unrealistic appraisals of Israel-Palestine issues which come up against the facts on the ground again and again.
    In one of those unhappily dark moments one says: the illegal settlers and Hamas help each other. The one cannot not exist without the other.

    Reply

  53. Dan Kervick says:

    Both peace and equilibrium are out of the question right now. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in a disequilibrium state, and has been for decades. The facts on the ground continue to evolve over time, as the colonization movement continues its gradual, but inexorable march toward the elimination of the Palestinian Arab community as a viable political entity. This is not equilibrium. The only question is at what point this dynamic disequilibrium will tip into an accelerating and even more violent and chaotic process of change.
    I just gave the Mead piece a quick read, and will try to give it a closer look tonight. My initial impression is that its call for deeper US diplomatic engagement with the Palestinians, and more public acknowledgment of their history and the injustices they have endured, are very welcome. Mead’s hope seems to be that by developing a stronger relationship with the Palestinians, and building trust, the US can get more unequivocal buy-in from all major Palestinian factions for a two-state solution. With this commitment in hand, peace negotiators have something to take to the Israeli’s that they can accept with confidence.
    This assumes that a majority of Israelis both sincerely want peace in the shape of a two-state solution, and are prepared to act against their own colonists in the West Bank to make that solution happen. I wonder if this assumption really accords with the size and momentum of the situation in the colonized territories.
    Bernard Avishai has an informative post up at TPM Cafe about the actual situation in Hebron. Read it and then reflect: How is it that Mead proposes those colonists can ever be removed?
    A vital step in the process, it seems to me, would require that the entire global community, including the United States, signs off once and for all on a formal and unequivocal declaration that the Israeli colonies in the territories occupied in the 1967 war are one and all illegal, and the colonists living in those colonies are international outlaws. Otherwise, we are back on the same futile, dead-end path based on silly hopes that negotiations between the prosperous, militarized and nuclear-armed Israeli state and the miserable, rock-and-rocket armed stateless Palestinians can result in a viable and mutually acceptable resolution. It can’t.
    And unless the world speaks with a clear voice to Israel the demand that those outlaw colonists must be removed, the waffling and conflicted Israeli center will never find the strength to join with the left to undertake the extraction process – which will likely prove violent.

    Reply

  54. WigWag says:

    “I keep telling Levy that I no longer really believe in peace — just equilibrium.”
    Respectfully, Steve, you’re the one who has written on more than one post in the last couple of months that we need to put the “peace business” out of business. It’s sounds like you’re contradicting yourself here. After all, the “business” of the “peace business” as practiced by Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk and others is not peace; it’s equilibrium. That’s what you told your colleage, Mr. Levy, is all you now believe is possible. It sounds like you are a card carrying member of the “peace business” yourself.

    Reply

  55. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Steve, perhaps you will provide us with a short essay outling all the wonderful things that the CFR has done to improve our foreign policies, promote world piece, or, thus far, improve the lot of the Palestinians.”
    “Steve, perhaps you will provide us with a short essay outlining all the wonderful things that the CFR has done to improve our foreign policies, promote world peace, or, thus far, improve the lot of the Palestinians”
    Jeez, yeah, I know. God willin’, it ain’t early onset senility.

    Reply

  56. sdemetri says:

    This diavlog is worth a look: Avrum Burg, former speaker of the
    Israeli Knesset, since abandoned politics to write. His latest book,
    “The Holocaust is over; We must rise from its ashes” is an
    exhortation for Israel to grow up and get over the victim mindset
    that perpetuates the “us versus them” basis for too many of its
    policies.
    http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/16423

    Reply

  57. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Steve, perhaps you will provide us with a short essay outling all the wonderful things that the CFR has done to improve our foreign policies, promote world piece, or, thus far, improve the lot of the Palestinians.
    In honesty, Steve, I find membership in the leading think tanks, councils, and commissions a reason NOT to listen to a person’s musings. One need only pick up a newspaper, surf the net, or turn on the TV to find ample evidence of the incompetence, corruption, and megolamaniacal ideological pursuits that seem to drive our policies, all spearheaded by the very people you tell us to tune in to.
    Israel needs to stop stealing land, stop killing Palestinians, and stop collectively punishing an entire population of men, women, and children. Its nothing more that a slow form of genocide. And it doesn’t take some yahoo with a Harvard degree and membership in some elitist clan of Washington insiders to come to that conclusion. Screw this “pro-Isreal” horseshit. Its time to stop abetting, excusing, and justifying the actions of the Israelis. And more, its time to stop subsidizing them.

    Reply

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