Depressing news from Israel:
"Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday convicted Ramon, 56, for forcibly embracing and kissing a female soldier in July. "
This, only a few days after Israel's President stepped down, in the midst of a sex scandal involving charges of rape, no less.
"JERUSALEM: Israel's attorney general has told President Moshe Katsav to move out of his official residence in Jerusalem while he takes a leave of absence to fight off accusations that he committed rape and other crimes, media reported Wednesday."
For what it is worth, I can't pretend to be too surprised or shocked. None of these persons had ever inspired the least bit of respect . Their ascendancy through the political echelons has never been a mystery. Politics appears to be, to a large extent, a dumping ground for ethically and intellectually challenged persons who nevertheless suffer from great ambition. A most unfortunate combination.
As for these two, they seem to have been so shielded from recognizing what is and is not allowed in civilized society that they thought they could actually get away with these deeds. Or they were deluded by the lure of their own high office to imagine that their great status alone would safeguard them from the consequences of their rampant lasciviousness. And just at a time when it is crucial for Israel's future that the best and finest should consider serving the people in politics, these cases will surely present yet another reason why not take that road.
I've spoken to my friends and family in Israel who are beyond depressed at these revelations and scenes. Israelis are reselient and forebearing when they come under terrorist attacks and wars but they appear completely demoralized and shamed when they witness corruption and criminality in their leaders.
The Contentious Centrist
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Depressing news from Israel:
Monday, January 29, 2007
Engage posted this article:
What makes an anti-Semite?
By Dina Porat
In January 2005, an international working definition of anti-Semitism was accepted for the first time since the term was coined in the late 19th century. This definition, approved in June 2005 at a conference in Cordoba, Spain, is the result of a joint effort on the part of two institutions - a center established in Vienna by the European Union to monitor racism and xenophobia, and a center set up in Warsaw by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to strengthen the institutions of democracy and human rights among its 55 member countries.
And this is the essence of the international working definition of anti-Semitism: "Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities." However, why was a new, international, practical definition needed, and why did non-Jewish organizations invest ongoing efforts in discussions on its formulation? After all, there has been no shortage of different definitions of anti-Semitism ever since the term was first coined 125 years ago in Germany and they can be found in encyclopedia and lexica, reflecting both temporal and geographic circumstances.
A long list of personalities and institutions sought to define the anti-Semite and the Jew he so hates: Jean-Paul Sartre, who sarcastically defined an anti-Semite, blaming the Jews for every tragedy, as a man who fears not Jews, but himself and the need to accept his responsibility; Encyclopedia Britannica, which as early as 1966 defined opposition to Zionism as anti-Semitism, but whose dictionary still features to "Jew Down" as a verb meaning to insist on haggling and deception; the Jewish Encyclopedia, published in the United States about one hundred years ago, includes a description of Jews as being perceived by others as greedy people, who are tribal in nature, devoid of tact and patriotism, and evade hard work; or the definition of Prof. Jacob Toury, of Tel Aviv University, who in the 1970s described anti-Semitism as a manipulation of sentiments directed against an unrealistic figure for political purposes.
However, our focus here is not on the definitions of learned people, but on international bodies and their perception of anti-Semitism as a problem that needs fixing...
The working definition of anti-Semitism
The purpose of this document is to provide a practical guide for identifying incidents, collecting data, and supporting the implementation and enforcement of legislation dealing with anti-Semitism.
The practical definition of the phenomenon: "Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities."
In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collective... Contemporary examples of anti-Semitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
* Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion
* Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or about the power of Jews as a collective - including, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a global Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions
* Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoings committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews
* Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters during World War II (Holocaust denial)
* Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust
* Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations. Examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel include:
* Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor
* Applying double standards by requiring Israel to behave in a manner not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation
* Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis
* Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis
* Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel
I think the general working definition and the more itemized list correspond quite accurately with the experience of Jews, Israel-advocates and decent-minded thinkers and people who are rightly concerned with the phenomenon.
There are, in my view, several orders of antisemitism.
The first order is the eliminationist antisemitism, the kind that the Nazis practiced and organizations like Hamas and Hizzbulla preach.
The second order is the types of antisemitism which the list above covers, characterized by a malicious will to harm Jews, disrupt their peace of mind and defame them by imputing to them a criminal pathology.
The third order is what I ironically call the "affectionate" antisemitism, usually applies to people who brag about their Jewish friends or experience. These are the people who both extol secular or assimilating Jews as they make fun of Jews who eat pork, for example. Those are the ones who tell antisemitic jokes by way of demonstrating how comfortable and familiar they are in and with Jewish culture (a culture notorious for its jocular self-deprecation). They are the ones who belittle and jeer at Jewish public figures. The sneering ridicule, when a consistency of targeting Jews is perceived and recorded, is quite puzzling, and can perhaps be explained by a somewhat unconscious animus towards Jews. These types of antisemites are quite harmless on their own. It is when they are joined by antisemites of the second order, who are much more serious about their antisemitism, that they serve the latter as their enablers. That's where such marshmallow soft antisemitism becomes complicit in the de-facto propagation of antisemitic tropes and sentiments.
The third order of antisemitism can be further described and nuanced. Some other time.
Palestinian cognitive dissonance:
Following a suicide bombing today in an Eilat bakery, responsibility for the heroic deed was quickly taken by "Two Palestinian militant groups, Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade" who " have claimed joint responsibility for the attack, saying... the bombing was carried out to show Palestinians they should attack Israel instead of each other. Palestinian infighting has claimed more than 60 lives, during the past month. "
However, Hamas, the peace loving proponent of the religion of peace in Palestine, put the glorious military operation in its proper context:
"A spokesman for Hamas, which controls the Palestinian government, called the bombing a natural response to Israel's policies. "
But let's not lose heart, folks: For while "One of the groups claiming responsibility for the bombing -- the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade - is affiliated with Palestinian President Mahoud Abbes' Fatah movement .. a spokesman for Fatah condemned the attack. "
So there we have it: three Israelis who went to buy some foccaccias or croissants at a bakery in Eilat were shredded to pieces, because Palestinians are killing each other in droves. While it is all, of course, Israel's fault, the leader of of the group that co-sponsored the carnage condemns the carnage.
Makes perfect sense.
The so-called Left appears to be short of role models. What other reason could there be for the lionization of Hizzbulla in different parts of the democratic world, such as Canada and Britain?
(Hat tip: Normblog)
Dissent magazine features Eugene Goodheart's scathing critique of an LRB article by Charles Glass, which glorifies the Hizzballa in a manner that, as Norm says, borders on the scandalous.
Eugene Goodheart is a Professor of Humanities Brandeis University. Here is his short summary of Glass's article, highlighting the choicest parts. I had to read twice in order to make sure I read it correctly:
"In an article by Charles Glass, Lebanon’s Hezbollah is eulogized for its capacity to learn from mistakes, its decency in treating prisoners, “its refusal to murder collaborators,” its intelligent use of “car bombs, ambushes, small rockets and suicide bombers.” Glass speaks of Hezbollah’s uncompromising political program, of which he apparently approves, without mentioning that at its core is the destruction of Israel. Any two-state solution requires a capacity and willingness to compromise, but compromise is anathema to Hezbollah. He claims that the movement had “jettisoned its early rhetoric about making Lebanon an Islamic republic, and [now] spoke of Christians, Muslims and Druze living in harmony.” Missing from this article (in the August 17, 2006, issue) is any reference to its anti-Semitism. "
Brandeis University brings instantly to mind President Carter's dog and pony show there just last week. But even without this sorry event having taken place, I would have been instantly reminded of Carter's thesis, which mirrors Glass's in its bathetic sentiment as well as its skewed morality.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
On the qusetion of multiculturalism and how far it has strayed from its original, good-willed, intention, here are two essays:
"Modern liberal societies have weak collective identities. Postmodern elites, especially in Europe, feel that they have evolved beyond identities defined by religion and nation. But if our societies cannot assert positive liberal values, they may be challenged by migrants who are more sure of who they are
Modern identity politics springs from a hole in the political theory underlying liberal democracy. That hole is liberalism's silence about the place and significance of groups. The line of modern political theory that begins with Machiavelli and continues through Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and the American founding fathers understands the issue of political freedom as one that pits the state against individuals rather than groups."
"Two things, in my experience, disable many liberals at the onset of this conversation. First, they cannot shake their subliminal identification of the Muslim religion with the wretched of the earth: the black- and brown-skinned denizens of what we once called the “Third World.” You can see this identification in the way that the Palestinians (about 20 percent of whom were Christian until their numbers began to decline) have become an “Islamic” cause and in the amazing ignorance that most leftists display about India, a multiethnic secular democracy under attack from al-Qaida and its surrogates long before the United States was. And you can see it, too, in the stupid neologism “Islamophobia,” which aims to promote criticism of Islam to the gallery of special offenses associated with racism."
I have come to harbour deep distrust of "multiculturalism". It is, in my opinion, a coded word for tolerated antisemitism, anti-Americanism, as well as a legitimizing mask for few a other "isms" like post-colonialism, anti-globalization, anti-Israelism...
The diversity that was supposed to replace white, middle-class polite bigoted smugness rapidly became a shoving match among minorities jousting for more entitlements, more accomodations. It is no longer about different cultures being granted their dignity. It is now about different people insisting on being treated differently, shown greater respect, given privileges while insisting on their apartness, on imported values being applied into their life here.
On the close relation between Multiculturalism and antisemitism:
"Among other things, the Sassoon conference dealt with the paradox of multicultural openness and acceptance of "the Other" from the perspective of the antisemitic obsession. "There is something distorted in present day multiculturalism, which is so fashionable not only in North America, but also in Europe and in other parts of the world," says Professor Wistrich. "It is remarkable that open Western societies embracing pluralist values, which are supposed to be good for Jews – have in effect produced in the past thirty years some virulent new strains of antisemitism. Partly this grows out of an almost demented glorification of the Palestinians, which has nothing to do with reality. But the 'pluralist' attitude has also been problematic since it tends to marginalize Jews in the West as part of the oppressive ruling elites. On the other hand, Muslim immigrants in Europe today are seen as victims; they are therefore always right and should be appeased. The Jews are no longer perceived as victims. They are rich, powerful, exploitative, and aggressive. This is not merely untrue but also an antisemitic stereotype."
Mick Hartley has an interesting post on Turkishness. I'll have one or two things to say about it tomorrow.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Norm Geras has a few posts today in reference to the Holocaust Memorial Day that will be observed in Britain tomorrow.
This post made me twist my lips in wry cynicism, considering the present use of "Right" and "Left" in the media.
This post boosted my cynical mood this morning, as British Muslims are debating whether it is useful to recognize the Holocaust Memorial Day in serving their PR and propaganda purposes:
"The MCB has stood back because it says the event should focus on all acts of "genocide". It wants a generic approach which would also highlight other issues, such as the treatment of the Palestinians by Israel."
In other words, vitiate the meaning of Holocaust, whether universal or Jewish, in favour of the Palestinian "cause" (a double entendre here, considering what the Palestinian "cause" de-facto entails...)
This post, reminding me that we never did have that long discussion we had planned on the Charlie Rose Message Board about Claude Lantzmann's "Shoah". I wonder if the way it was neglected, or by-passed is somewhat symptomatic to the prevailing culture of resentment against Holocaust memory (recently best examplified in Carter's book which all but leaped over that event in its historical "review", thus making common cause with the likes of the MCB mentioned above).
And this post which quotes the story of a mother holding her child, standing on the cusp of a killing pit:
A German walked up to the woman and asked: "Whom shall I shoot first?" When she did not answer, he tore her daughter from her hands. The child cried out and was killed.
I thought it was a fine example of Nazi compassion, considering that the mother might want to be killed first so as to spare her the anguish of seeing her child killed.
Yes, I'm in a mighty cynical mood today. 60 years after the event, new promises for a second Jewish genocide and Jews are still mocked for being over sensitive to antisemites and their appeasers.
Indifference is the opposite of "good". I believe Elie Wiesel said this, when he wanted to make the case that competing with the evil of the Nazis was the mass indifference that characterized the "civilized world" at the time before, during and after the Holocaust. Of course we are now particularly shocked with the malicious indifference that pours out of the Arab and Muslim world.
However, the greatness of human compassion is still measured by the courage of individual persons, who cannot remain passive and smug, looking for very good reasons not to interefere when evil is perpetrated. This is one such example:
Holocaust honour for Arab who saved Jews from Nazis
It's a sad omen that too few Arabs take any pride and solace in the transcendant morality of Khaled Abdelwahhab.
Dr Satloff, who flew to Israel to meet Yad Vashem officials yesterday, said: “These stories are only coming to light now because we haven’t looked too hard before at the Holocaust experience in Arab countries. But another reason is that Arabs who did save Jews didn’t want to be found. They are reluctant to admit that they saved Jews.”
And somewhat related:
Khatami slams controversial Holocaust conference
Really? Yes. No. Maybe?
And a few hours later: OOPS...
Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami denied having talked to an Israeli newspaper which quoted him as criticising a recent conference in Tehran casting doubt on the Holocaust.
"I never gave any interview to any Israeli newspaper and the comments attributed to me have been made up," Khatemi's spokesman Mohammad Ali Abtahi quoted the former president as saying.
Israel's mass-selling Yediot Aharonot published on Friday what it said was "a rare interview" with Khatemi, quoting him as saying: "I strongly condemn the holding of this conference."
"The Holocaust against the Jewish people was one of the most grave acts against humanity in our time. There is no doubt that it happened," he was quoted as saying.
"I suggest to all of us to separate the Holocaust from Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab discussions... It is without precedent and cannot be compared to anything else."
Yediot Aharonot said Khatemi had given the interview on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Abtahi told AFP in Tehran that Khatemi considered the article to be nothing more than "machinations by the Israeli media".
The story reminded me of another story involving the very same Iranian personality, a reported conciliatory gesture towards Israel followed by a strong denial.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Christopher Hitchens reviews Nick Cohen's book :
“I wanted anything associated with Tony Blair to fail, because that would allow me to return to the easy life of attacking him.”
It is this sentence, and its implications, that make his book an exceptional and necessary one. Cohen has no problem with those who are upset about state-sponsored exaggerations of the causes of war, or furious about the bungled occupation of Iraq that has ensued. People who think this is the problem are not his problem. Here’s his problem: the people who would die before they would applaud the squaddies and grunts who removed hideous regimes from Afghanistan and Iraq, yet who happily describe Islamist video-butchers and suicide-murderers as a “resistance”. Those who do this are not “anti-war” at all, but are shadily taking the other side in a conflict where the moral and civilisational stakes are extremely high.
...It’s all here: from the pseudo-radicals who said there was nothing to choose between Nazi imperialism in Europe and British rule in India, through the supporters of the Hitler-Stalin pact, all the way to those who defended Slobodan Milosevic as a socialist and those who took, quite literally took, money from the bloody hands of Saddam Hussein. Just in the past decade or so, had this “anti-war” rabble had its way, we would have seen Kuwait stay part of Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo cleansed and annexed by “Greater” Serbia, and the Taliban retaining control of Afghanistan. You might think that such a record would lead its adherents to be dismissed as a silly and sinister fringe, but instead it is they who pose as the principled radicals and their opponents who are treated with unconcealed disdain in the universities and on the BBC.
Funny. I remember a semi-jocular competition for inventing a hard hitting term by which to designate these "pseudo-radicals" Hitchens is talking about. Among the suggestions:
Indecent left, Far Left, Radical Left, Pretend Left, Pseudo-Left, and my favourite, the "Rococo Left".
Norm Geras, one of the redactors of the Euston Manifesto is asking here:
... not sure why 1938 gets the privilege here for the wink-wink, nudge-nudge treatment, 'we all know what happened'. Because of Kristallnacht maybe. The writer might have picked 1942 instead, when some half of all the Jewish victims of Nazi barbarism, 2.7 million of them, were done to death in one way and another. No matter. It's clear enough what historical experience he or she is referring to. But why make light of it? And of the existential threat Israel has indeed faced since 1948?
I hardly have any rationally-sound answer to this puzzlement. I recognize the sentiment expressed in it from similar instances encountered in the past of impatience with and jeering at Jewish insecurities when debating issues of antisemitism in the Arab and Muslim world or the place occupied by Holocaust memorialization in the West.
Two examples from past experience:
When the Muslim instruction about Jews being the descendants of pigs and apes was introduced into a discussion, one poster saw fit to pooh-pooh it away with what she considered a witty and charming reference to Darwinism: so what, aren't we all descendants of apes, suggesting Jews were ridiculously oversensitive.
To add insult to injury, someone else suggested that even citing such a quotation was a symptom of Islamophobia.
In another discussion, which involved the memory of the Holocaust, one poster took severe exception to Jewish emphasis on its 6 million victims. Such emphasis, she alleged, was akin to dismissing the many other victims of Hitler, including the American soldiers who sacrificed their life to rescue Jews from the gas chambers. When such an opinion was challenged vehemently and angrily, same poster responded that Jews have only themselves to blame if their precious Holocaust is not revered as they would wish it to be. Jews, she said (I paraphrase from memory here) present their behind to the American people and ask them to kiss it. They should not be surprised if instead, they get mightily kicked in the butt.
I think such people get a kick out of such articles as Norm Geras is quoting.
It's as though the event, the industrial genocide of 6 million Jews, is a tiresome footnote, manipulatively magnified by Jews to prevent the comfortable post-colonialist (aka anti-globalization) narrative, so beloved of the Pretend Left, to run smoothly in the case of Israel. So much easier to denounce Israel and question its legitimacy without this vexatious detail interfering with its (ir)relevance.
Isn't this one of the tactics used by president Carter in his book?
A guiding principle of Israel is that never again will persecuted Jews be left with no place to go. Israel's ideal of Jewish refuge is enshrined in laws that grant immediate citizenship to any Jew who requests it. A Jew, for purposes of this law, is anyone who, had that person lived in Nazi Germany, would have been stripped of citizenship by the Nuremberg Laws.
.. by almost ignoring the Holocaust, Carter gives inadvertent comfort to those who deny its importance or even its historical reality, in part because it helps them deny Israel's right to exist.
It's no coincidence that the very same people who like to depreciate from the tremendum of the Holocaust, or the outrage of the Holocaust Denial Conference in Iran, or the extent and depth of institutionalized antisemism in Arab and Muslim, are the very same people who applaud Carter for his "courage" in taking on the Jewish community, no less!, and who express great compassion for those who criminalize the Jewish state.
Here's the way such "courage" should be to be viewed:
"... In my country there's a lot of brave talk about 'I'm going to speak out against Israel although I risk being silenced'. In the main, it's a kind of political posturing by people who don't expose themselves to any real danger, but are attracted to the glamour, the reputation at any rate, of being freedom fighters risking their lives in a noble cause. It's trivial, inconsequential stuff, the material really of vanity and self-regard, and nothing more than that."
Jimmy Carter's book has largely achieved what it set out to do: It has impeached Israel' image as a beleauguered state surrounded by enemies and laid the entire responsibility for the Israeli-palestinian conflict at Israel's feet. A side product is the buttressing of Arab sense of historical grievance against Israel and its greatest ally, the USA.
This achievement was calculated to weaken moral support for Israel's existence. Considering Carter's statement that Israeli abuses of Palestinians is worse than South African Apartheid, or the Rwandan genocide, Carter's de-facto intimation is that Americans must not be too heart- broken were Israel to be wiped off the map. What American in his right mind would support such a genocidal criminal state?
I hope he is happy with these results. When the next suicide bomber kills Israeli kids, he can have pride of place in the public indifference that his book has engendered.
Here's Kenneth Stein's patient, detailed, and thoughtful consideration of Carter's book.
The Roots of Carter's Anger
Carter's grievance list against Israel is long: He believes the Israeli government's failure to withdraw fully from the West Bank is illegal and immoral; he condemns settlement construction; and he lambastes its current human rights abuse in the West Bank, which he labels "one of the worst examples of human rights abuse I know." From the time he was president, he has criticized Israel's confiscation of Palestinian land, usurpation of water rights, and retaliatory bulldozing of Palestinian houses. Such policies, he has argued, are responsible for the moribund Palestinian economy. Carter holds particular animus toward the security barrier, first proposed by the late prime minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Yitzhak Rabin, as the latest example of what he believes to be a policy of de facto annexation of the West Bank.
Carter sees the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the root of both U.S. unpopularity in the region and the wider problem of Middle East instability. Once the historic injustice done to the Palestinians is resolved, he believes, other issues plaguing U.S. foreign policy will dissipate, if not disappear.
Carter believes the conflict's resolution to be simple: After the Israeli government agrees in principle to withdraw fully from the West Bank, a dedicated negotiator like himself can usher in an independent, peaceful Palestinian state. That this has not happened is, in Carter's view, primarily due to the legacy of late Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, not the fault of poor Palestinian decision-making or the Palestinian embrace of terrorism. The intransigence of Begin and his successors, Carter believes, was compounded by a failure of U.S. political leaders to pressure the Israeli government to correct its policy. Washington's failure to lead, he believes, is heavily due to the failure of American supporters of Israel to criticize the Jewish state.
Carter believes that if the U.S. government reduces or stops its support for Israel, then the Jewish state will be weakened and become more malleable in negotiations. His underlying logic is based upon an imperial rationality that assumes Washington to have the answer to myriad issues besetting Middle Eastern societies. This plays into the notion in Arab societies that the cause of their problems lies with Western powers and other outsiders. Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid will feed that belief.
In the book, Carter does not mention the counterproductive judgments made by Palestinian leaders or their embrace of terrorism over the last many years. While nineteenth- and twentieth-century European, Ottoman, Arab, and Zionist leaders all sought at various times to stifle Palestinian self-determination, the claim that the establishment of a Palestinian state rests only in the hands of Jerusalem and Washington is rubbish. By adopting so completely the Palestinian historical narrative, Carter may hamper diplomatic efforts enshrined in the "Road Map" and elsewhere that attempt to compel the Palestinian leadership to accept accountability for its actions. In pursuing this path, Carter violates the advice he gave eighty Palestinian business, religious, and political leaders on March 16, 1983, when, speaking to a gathering at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, he said, "Unless you take your own destiny into your own hands and stop relying on others," you will not have a state.
Carter's distrust of the U.S. Jewish community and other supporters of Israel runs deep. According to former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, "Carter's feelings on Israel were always ambivalent. On the one hand, he felt Israel was being intransigent; on the other, he genuinely had an attachment to the country as the ‘land of the Bible.'"
In a 1991 research interview with Carter for my book Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter, Begin and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace, Carter recollected that:
[Vice president] Fritz Mondale was much more deeply immersed in the Jewish organization leadership than I was. That was an alien world to me. They [American Jews] didn't support me during the presidential campaign [that] had been predicated greatly upon Jewish money ... Almost all of them were supportive of Scoop Jackson—Scoop Jackson was their spokesman … their hero. So I was looked upon as an alien challenger to their own candidate. You know, I don't mean unanimously but ... overwhelmingly. So I didn't feel obligated to them or to labor unions and so forth. Fritz … was committed to Israel … It was an act just like breathing to him—it wasn't like breathing to me. So I was willing to break the shell more than he was.
The gap between many American Jews and Carter grew during his presidency as Carter increased pressure on Jerusalem. In the 1980 general election, Carter received a lower proportion of Jewish votes than any Democratic presidential candidate since 1920.
From: My Problem with Jimmy Carter's Book
by Kenneth W. Stein
Middle East Quarterly
Linda Young of The Y Files makes some additional pertinent points (the second paragraph is a deadpan satirical hit):
I don't think Carter is an anti-Semite. However, I think that his book is a very skewed treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that some of his rhetoric is disturbing -- such as a passage that draws a parallel between the Pharisees of the New Testament and modern-day Israeli authorities. And I agree with historian Deborah Lipstadt's charge that in defending his book, "Carter has repeatedly fallen back -- possibly unconsciously -- on traditional anti-Semitic canards"; for instance, he has equated criticism from Jewish commentators who write for mainstream publications such as The New Yorker or The New York Times with criticism from "Jewish organizations."
Incidentally, social liberals might be startled to learn that in the book, Carter chronicles the fact that on a trip to Israel in the 1970s he remonstrated with then-Prime Minister Golda Meir for the overly secular nature of the Labor government. He even took it upon him to lecture Meir about the fact that in the Bible, "a common historical pattern was that Israel was punished whenever the leaders turned away from devout worship of God." (Paging Pat Robertson?) But I digress.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
A staged debate at Brandeis university
This editorial claims that "Carter succeeded in bringing to Brandeis a productive, civil debate."
The same editorial that insouciantly itemizes earlier the terms under which Carter agreed to appear:
1. "He did not want to debate Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz."
2. "He would not answer random questions from a general audience."
In other words, Carter made absolutely certain that he would have a free stage from which to deliver his version of the Israel/Palestinian conflict, unhindered by the trenchantly relevant critique of Dershowitz or challenged by any hardball questions from the students.
It is my perception that Carter's highly regimented appearance at Brandeis was done for the sake of saving face, having clumsily rejected an earlier invitation to debate with Dershowitz.
In other words, he used the pomp and circumstance of his status of a former president to control tightly the "debate", the same way a monarch would when addressing "the people", or the way a third world authoritarian ruler would speak to his "fellow citizens".
The question is not why the editorial appears to endorse wholeheartedly these questionable terms of a public debate, but rather why Carter goes to such lengths to avoid a bona-fide debate. If a person believes the 'truth" of his thesis, the way Carter insists he does in his book, why fear the challenges? Why not welcome the opportunity to explain and demonstrate how he reached the conclusions articulated in that book?
And btw, it was reported that Carter got a "standing ovation" from the audience. This show of overawed deference is quite disturbing. Certainly a polite round of a welcome applause would have been quite sufficient under the circumstances. Why the need to demonstrate such gratitude to a public figure who had claimed he was being silenced by a campaign of intimidation from Jewish-controlled media and organizations? Who went on record in al-Jazeera making excuses for terrorists who kill Israeli Jews? Carter's condescending to appear before Jewish students on his terms (excluding Dershowitz, excluding hard-hitting questions) should have earned him from the student body at Brandeis no more and no less than the amount of respect confered upon a former president.
There was no dignity for the audience at that moment, only fear expressing itself in the over-ingratiating gesture.
Michael B. Oren, a Princeton PhD graduate, who wrote the definitive book to date about the Six-Day War, gives an acute analysis of Carter's muddled emotions with regards to the Jewish state. It's almost one month old. I missed it before.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
I have just returned from a little tour of my favourite websites and group discussions. I am always amazed at the way persons who cannot contain their bile carry on disjointedly, irrelevantly and smugly. And they are completely unaware how .. inelegant they appear when attempting to curl their lip sneeringly, in the archaic manner of British aristocrats straight out of a Georgette Heyer regency romance.
James Lileks, a favourite of mine, who leads an enviably interesting life as a househusband in charge of a six-year old girl, while his wife goes out to work everyday, gets it just about right in this piece here. He has "some rules for being an idiot on the Internet. Clip 'n' save":
The good news is that you, too, can ... rant as you please in unmoderated comment sections. But you have to ask yourself, punk: Do you have the chops to truly make a fool of yourself to disinterested observers? Well, do you?
Make Up Funny Names. If a right-wing figure's name starts with K, like Kate, by all means call her KKKate. Everyone on the right probably shares the values of the Klan, anyway.
Swear angrily. Not just the classics, but the ones relating to excretion and genitalia. Nothing shows you're a serious thinker like a torrent of obscenities.
Hyperbolize everything. Granted, everyone punches a little too hard sometimes; everyone throws too deep. Feisty debate is energizing.
Stepping Back from the precipice?
Apparently, President Carter's public speech last night at Brandeis University was an attempt to step away from the chasm of hostility and distrust that his book had opened up between himself and the Jewish community. He clarified a few things, apologized for some, denied other allegations. Alan Dershowitz, who followed him with a rebuttal, was also quite conciliatory but not conceding a few issues which were not properly addressed by the former president.
Here's an account of the event.
I agree with Derscowitz about the double Carter.
I am very glad that he seems to realize what he was saying in a sentence " in which he seemed to suggest that Palestinians would not have to end their suicide bombings and acts of terrorism until Israel withdraws from the territories “was worded in a completely improper and stupid way,” adding: “I have written my publisher to change that sentence immediately. I apologize to you personally, to everyone here.”
However, if the sentence was a poorly-worded statement, that hardly explains why he repeated the very same idea in a recent Al-Jazeera interview, about which I wrote here.
If he did not mean to suggest that the Palestinian condition was worse than the Rwandan genocide, why did he say it on television here:
So the persecution of the Palestinians now, under the occupying territories—under the occupation forces—is one of the worst examples of human rights deprivation that I know. And I think it‘s—
SHUSTER: Even worse, though, than a place like Rwanda?
CARTER: Yes. I think—yes. You mean, now?
Last night, Carter said: "Responding to one of the criticisms of him, he said: “I have never claimed or believed that American Jews control the news media. That is ridiculous to claim.”
Well, it's a recorded fact that Carter did say it:
Earlier today, though, he says that U.S. politicians, the news media are intimidated by the Israel lobby in the United States and they really don't speak out forcefully on the Palestinian question. Listen precisely to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER: There's a tremendous intimidation in this country that has silenced our people, and it's not just individuals, it's not just folks that are running for office. It's the news media as well. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What do you say to that charge, that's a very serious charge.
ROSS: Well, has it silenced him at this point or did it silence him up until now? Are we to presume that everything he has said up until today was a function of intimidation and now he's not intimidated?
Looks like President Carter is a sort of chameleon, taking on Al-jazeera's Arab sensibilities when there, denying what said there when faced with a crowd of savvy Jewish students. His performance last night proved what I have long suspected; that he is a shallow, suggestible thinker, and therefore an irresponsible and unreliable one.
The type of thinker who would casually claim that his version of Camp DavidII is more reliable and correct than President Cinton's who was there as as a witness and an active participant.
I can't see how Carter's speech at Brandeis night clarified matters in any credible way. In my humble opinion, he only muddied the discussion even further by creating these new incongruities between what he said in the past and what he denied having said last night.
Some blogs that feature the story this morning:
One-Sided Post Mortems on Carter's Brandeis Speech
Carter's Brandeis Rope-a-Dope
Pre-Selected Questions Cause Students To Question Open Dialogue
BREAKING NEWS: Carter defends book, outlines vision for Middle East
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
It's not just semantics, or is it?
Militant, terrorist... Media Outlets like to avoid the use of the term "terrorist" in describing suicide-bombers, Jihadist beheaders, etc.
Here are two examples where exceptions are made:
Associated Press Discovers a Terrorist
Associated Press Discovers Terror .
However, this story seems to contradict LGF's claims:
or does it?
The quoted AP report says:
"RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) -- In a new round of factional fighting, assailants targeted three senior Hamas officials in the West Bank, kidnapping one, torching the car of a second and shooting in the air as a third emerged from a mosque, security officials said yesterday. "
It's hard to know whether this is the originally worded report, as described in the HonestReporting blog, or a later-edited version.
Ah, well. If you read my comment on HonestReporting, you'll see that I tend to give the average reader much greater credit for intelligence and independent thinking than any of these news organizations seem to.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Here is an apocalyptic scenario which is sure to please Arabs and other antisemites:
Benny Morris: The second Holocaust will not be like the first
"Benny Morries believes that the Iranian regime will annihilate Israel withnuclear weapons, and nobody will stop it in doing so. Morris used to have thereputation of being an Anti-Zionist, but he rejects the accusation that hequestions Israel's right of existence. In this article written for DIE WELT,Morris explains why he is convinced that sometime in the future millions ofIsraelis will be murdered." (DIE WELT, translated by Ursula Duba)
And somewhat related:
The presidential apologist for terrorism:
Josef Farah, is definitely not reading between the lines here, when he furnishes a few paraphrased versions of the following statement in Jimmy Carter's book:
"It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel."
Terrorists, according to Jimmy Carter, will be under a moral obligation to stop their suicide attacks on helpless, innocent civilians, including women and children, only when Israel takes certain political steps.
Stated another way, Arab and Muslim terrorists are justified in continuing their terrorist attacks as long as Israel doesn't take certain political steps.
Stated another way, Arab and Muslim terrorists are under no moral obligation to stop the bloodshed until Israel yields to its pressure.
Stated another way, Israel's behavior and actions are the real cause of the terror.
Stated another way, Israel remains the principal obstacle to peace in the Middle East.
Let's face it, all of these statements mean essentially the same thing.
This is what Jimmy Carter believes.
.... Melvin Konner.. an anthropology professor at Emory University who was asked to be part of an academic group advising the former president and the Carter Center on how to respond to criticism of the book.
Konner: "I cannot find any way to read this sentence that does not condone the murder of Jews until such time as Israel unilaterally follows President Carter's prescription for peace. The sentence, simply put, makes President Carter an apologist for terrorists and places my children, along with all Jews everywhere, in greater danger."
It is conceivable, of course, that Farah was overcooking his chicken. Maybe he was too eager to read into Carter's statement an intent that acquits Palestinian terrorism. Let's see how Carter clarifies the misunderstanding in a recent interview to Al-Jazeera:
"Well, I don’t really consider, I wasn’t equating the Palestinian missiles with terrorism. But when the Palestinians commit terrorist acts, and I mean when a person blows himself up within a bus full of civilians, or when the target of the operation is women and children – such acts create a rejection of the Palestinians among those who care about them. It turns the world away from sympathy and support for the Palestinian people. That’s why I said that acts of terrorism like I just described are suicidal for the popularity and support for the Palestinian cause. "
So let's see what I understand from these comments:
- that Qassams lobed at the residents of Sderot, or Ashkelon, cities, not military bases, causing damage to houses and killing people as they cross streets, or work , killing and maiming kids playing in backyards, these are not terrorist attacks.
- that he, Carter, only used the term "terrorist" to describe a suicide bomber because this is how such an act is perceived by "the world".
- that he, Carter, does not consider such acts to be profoundly immoral and criminal, but rather counterproductive, because they are not good for the Palestinian image.
Butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.
A strange story :
LONDON — Police said Sunday that a Muslim woman officer had refused to shake hands with London's police chief during a graduation ceremony last month due to her religious beliefs, fanning a debate in Britain over the assimilation of Muslims into society.
The woman — whose identity was not revealed — asked to be excused from the customary handshake with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair during the ceremony, saying her faith prohibited her from touching a man other than her husband or a close relative.
Commissioner Blair immediately questioned the validity of her request, said a Metropolitan Police spokeswoman, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with force policy.
“Ordinarily the (police force) would not tolerate such requests. This request was only granted ... to ensure the smooth running of what is one of the most important events in an officer's career,” the spokeswoman said.
She said the incident was still being looked into by the force, but she declined to say whether the officer could face punishment.
I suspect this story has more to it. Why is the report so skittish? Why doesn't the reporter identify in which "London" this incident is supposed to have occurred?
Particularly puzzling I find how a woman training to be an effective policewoman for the duration of a few months-long preparatory course, avoids touching other trainees? Wouldn't the training involve carefully constructed scenarios that approximate modern policing activity, such as chasing, apprehending and cuffing suspects? What if she is required to give first aid in emergency situations? Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation?
So the question is begged: why would a woman, obviously a devout Muslim, choose a line of work that would inevitably involve physical contact with other men?
The article does not address any of these valid points. The story is too full of missing information. I wonder if it is either made up, exaggereated or deliberately under reported?
A few minutes later:
Some questions answered here:
"The incident happened at Imber Court, Scotland Yard's sports and conference centre at Thames Ditton in South West London, when the 200 recruits attended a passing-out parade having completed their 18 weeks' basic training."
"Some officers argue that her attitude towards men might impede her ability to detain offenders.
However, it is clear that she is happy to come into contact with men, just not shake their hand or kiss them."
Harry's Place has a post about this story.
Lileks' Bleat today includes the following expostulations:
These are the acts of the extreme believers, not the majority, but in the end that’s irrelevant. The extremists are accommodated and the moderates undercut. It buys a day's peace, but it worsens everyone's tomorrows.
... Thus the virtues of tolerance and multiculturalism, intended to construct that gorgeous mosaic in which everyone holds hands and smiles at the common future, ends up codifying a tiered society that imposes the values of the least tolerant on the most. It seems as if the cultural commissars believe there is a magic point at which the culmulative amount of prostration, apologies and accomodations will satisfy the ranters, the plotters, the seethers, the madmen who live to hate and hate that we live. But the extremists won't be happy until the Queen wears a veil - and the next day they'll demand she give up the Corgis. Unclean.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Nick Cohen writes today:
I learned it was one thing being called 'Cohen' if you went along with liberal orthodoxy, quite another when you pointed out liberal betrayals. Your argument could not be debated on its merits. There had to be a malign motive. You had to be in the pay of 'international' tycoons or 'neoconservatives'. You had to have bad blood. You had to be a Jew.
Normblog provides the context.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Martin Amis, whose new book "House of Meetings" has just been releaseed (Jan. 16) is planning a tour in the following dates and locations in the US:
Martin Amis, US Appearances, House of Meetings Tour
January 23, 7:00 pm: Los Angeles Public Library, 630 W. Fifth Street.
January 24, 8:00 pm: Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California Street.
January 25, 7:30 pm: Kepler’s, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA.
January 26, 7:30 pm: Elliott Bay Book Company at Town Hall Seattle, 1119 8th Ave.
January 28, noon: Lookinglass Theater, 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago.
January 29, 8:00 pm: 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., New York. With Norman Rush.
January 31, 6:00 pm: Harvard Bookstore, Brattle Theater, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA.
February 1, 8:00 pm: Philadelphia Free Library, 1901 Vine St. Philadelphia.
The nearest location to me is Cambridge, MA. It's too far. If only he had an appearance at Barnes & Noble in Burlington, Vermont!
And no mention of a Canadian tour! This is one of the times I feel like I live in the boonies, even though I am now back at the hub of the great Metropolin of Montreal. Books are always released a little later here than in the States (sometimes even 6 months later) and I'm always surprised how easier it is to find books by the Canadian poet Anne Carson in Vermont than in Montreal's largest Chapters (just an example of the inscrutability of Canadian literary priorities).
From an interview with Christopher Hitchens, on the "other Iraq":
CH: Well, I went mainly to the north, to Kurdistan, where I encourage everyone to go, by the way. You can take your holiday there. I took my son. A wonderful, open society, there hasn’t been a bomb there since 2004, no coalition soldier has ever even been shot at in the northern provinces, no fighting between Kurds and other minorities, a remarkable achievement. I mean, it is the single greatest achievement of the liberation. I was mainly writing about that, and encouraging people to pay a visit. And if you Google a thing called the Other Iraq, by the way, you can look up how to get there. It’s easy to get, and you can fly direct from Europe now.
HH: Where do you fly into?
CH: Erbil, which is the capitol, it’s where the Kurdish regional government has its headquarters, or Sulaimaniyah, the town of President Talabani, who’s now president of Iraq. You can fly from Austria, direct without going through Baghdad, you can fly from Stockholm, from Amsterdam, a number of other places. It’s really well worth doing.
CH: I’ve been several times, and compared to what it was like when I first saw it in ’91, when the place had just been gassed and bombed and subjected to genocide by Saddam, it’s a night and day difference.
HH: ... My question is, can you compare it to anyplace that would be in the frame of reference of most of our listeners?
CH: No, it’s unique, because what’s happening under the auspices of the coalition, and it’s been happening for a while, because they got out of Saddam’s Iraq in ’91, if you’ll remember, when we put the no-fly zone protective umbrella over Kurdistan. They had a 12 year start on everyone else, and they didn’t have to live with the terrible combination of sanctions plus Saddam that we allowed to go on for far too long for the rest of the country. And of course, they’re ethnically different. They’re not Arabs. They don’t speak Arabic. They’re not Turks, they’re not Persians. They’re a unique national group. They’re the largest national group, actually, in the world who don’t have a state of their own. There are about 24 million of them. They live in the rather unpromising neighborhood where Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq meet. It’s not the place you would want to pitch your tent, perhaps, if you wanted a state of their own, but that’s where they’ve lived for thousands of years. So what’s happening is a new nation is being born. They’re not going to proclaim independence, but it looks and feels much more like an autonomous country, if not yet a state, when you’re there.
HH: In your comment with them, and your conversations with them, are they optimists about the rest of Iraq?
CH: Well, no one is exactly an optimist, but I mean if you talk even to the most skeptical, hostile journalists and experts, they’ll tell you that of the few effective ministers in the Iraqi government, for example, a number, probably the greater number, are Kurdish. I mean, Hoshyar Zubari is universally admitted to be a very effective and decent foreign minister. There’s a very good minister of water resources, whose name I’ve just for the moment forgotten, Lotfi I think is his name, is also Kurdish. And of course, there’s President Jalal Talabani, who was elected by the whole of Iraq’s parliament to be the first elected president, who’s the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. What they tell me is look, if Iraq fails, it won’t be our fault. I mean, these are people who remember, were being gassed by the Iraqi government not very long ago.
Sigh. If America cuts and runs, what will happen to the Kurds?
The Washington Post has this to say about Carter's book.
Jimmy Carter's Jewish Problem
By Deborah Lipstadt
Saturday, January 20, 2007;
It is hard to criticize an icon. Jimmy Carter's humanitarian work has saved countless lives. Yet his life has also been shaped by the Bible, where the Hebrew prophets taught us to speak truth to power. So I write.
Carter's book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," while exceptionally sensitive to Palestinian suffering, ignores a legacy of mistreatment, expulsion and murder committed against Jews. It trivializes the murder of Israelis. Now, facing a storm of criticism, he has relied on anti-Semitic stereotypes in defense.
One cannot ignore the Holocaust's impact on Jewish identity and the history of the Middle East conflict. When an Ahmadinejad or Hamas threatens to destroy Israel, Jews have historical precedent to believe them. Jimmy Carter either does not understand this or considers it irrelevant.
His book, which dwells on the Palestinian refugee experience, makes two fleeting references to the Holocaust. The book contains a detailed chronology of major developments necessary for the reader to understand the current situation in the Middle East. Remarkably, there is nothing listed between 1939 and 1947. Nitpickers might say that the Holocaust did not happen in the region. However, this event sealed in the minds of almost all the world's people then the need for the Jewish people to have a Jewish state in their ancestral homeland. Carter never discusses the Jewish refugees who were prevented from entering Palestine before and after the war. One of Israel's first acts upon declaring statehood was to send ships to take those people "home."
A guiding principle of Israel is that never again will persecuted Jews be left with no place to go. Israel's ideal of Jewish refuge is enshrined in laws that grant immediate citizenship to any Jew who requests it. A Jew, for purposes of this law, is anyone who, had that person lived in Nazi Germany, would have been stripped of citizenship by the Nuremberg Laws.
Compare Carter's approach with that of Rashid Khalidi, head of Columbia University's Middle East Institute and a professor of Arab studies there. His recent book "The Iron Cage" contains more than a dozen references to the seminal place the Holocaust and anti-Semitism hold in the Israeli worldview. This from a Palestinian who does not cast himself as an evenhanded negotiator.
In contrast, by almost ignoring the Holocaust, Carter gives inadvertent comfort to those who deny its importance or even its historical reality, in part because it helps them deny Israel's right to exist. This from the president who signed the legislation creating the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Carter's minimization of the Holocaust is compounded by his recent behavior. On MSNBC in December, he described conditions for Palestinians as "one of the worst examples of human rights deprivation" in the world. When the interviewer asked "Worse than Rwanda?" Carter said that he did not want to discuss the "ancient history" of Rwanda.
To give Carter the benefit of the doubt, let's say that he meant an ongoing crisis. Is the Palestinians' situation equivalent to Darfur, which our own government has branded genocide?
Carter has repeatedly fallen back -- possibly unconsciously -- on traditional anti-Semitic canards. In the Los Angeles Times last month, he declared it "politically suicide" for a politician to advocate a "balanced position" on the crisis. On Al-Jazeera TV, he dismissed the critique of his book by declaring that "most of the condemnations of my book came from Jewish-American organizations." Jeffrey Goldberg, who lambasted the book in The Post last month, writes for the New Yorker. Ethan Bronner, who in the New York Times called the book "a distortion," is the Times' deputy foreign editor. Slate's Michael Kinsley declared it "moronic." Dennis Ross, who was chief negotiator on the conflict in the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, described the book as a rewriting and misrepresentation of history. Alan Dershowitz teaches at Harvard and Ken Stein at Emory. Both have criticized the book. Because of the book's inaccuracies and imbalance and Carter's subsequent behavior, 14 members of the Carter Center's Board of Councilors have resigned -- many in anguish because they so respect Carter's other work. All are Jews. Does that invalidate their criticism -- and mine -- or render us representatives of Jewish organizations?
On CNN, Carter bemoaned the "tremendous intimidation in our country that has silenced" the media. Carter has appeared on C-SPAN, "Larry King Live" and "Meet the Press," among many shows. When a caller to C-SPAN accused Carter of anti-Semitism, the host cut him off. Who's being silenced?
Perhaps unused to being criticized, Carter reflexively fell back on this kind of innuendo about Jewish control of the media and government. Even if unconscious, such stereotyping from a man of his stature is noteworthy. When David Duke spouts it, I yawn. When Jimmy Carter does, I shudder.
Others can enumerate the many factual errors in this book. A man who has done much good and who wants to bring peace has not only failed to move the process forward but has given refuge to scoundrels.
Deborah_Lipstadt's analysis explains in what ways Carter's book is a travesty of justice and truth. Her analysis of what can only be seen as a deliberate Carter omission sheds further light upon the mind of a person who intervened on behalf of a Nazi criminal on the grounds of "humanitarian concerns" .
Of course some people, some self-confessed "Liberals" are heartily fed up with the subject of the Holocaust. It is so démodé! It is a relic from the past the Jews simply refuse to forget. And it really interferes with the smooth selling of the "New Left"s ideological fashions such as criminalizing Israel for its active (checkpoints) or passive (the fence) and vigorous defence against genocidal-minded organizations. Of course, if only the Holocaust could be erased from the history books, in the manner that Carter's book attempts, then delegitimization of Israel's existence (and Jewish criticisms) could proceed in full swing ahead, leading to the desirable result of its eradication.
I hope Carter's presentation of his book at Brandeis University on Tuesday will be followed by some hardball questions from the students who attend this event. It is absolutely imperative to make this man realize the perversion that he has authored.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Camera, corrects one of the most glaring and indecent distortions in Carter's book, namely, his "understanding" of Resolution 242. Frankly, a surprising type of dis-interpretation from a former American leader in search of truth and reconciliation:
On page 215 of his book, for instance, Carter writes that:
[An option for Israel is] withdrawal to the 1967 border specified in UN
Resolution 242 and as promised in the Camp David Accords and the Oslo
Similarly, he writes on p. 57:
The 1949 armistice demarcation lines became the borders of the new nation of
Israel and were accepted by Israel and the United States, and recognized
officially by the United Nations.
These statements are false.
The "1949 armistice" lines did not become the "accepted" borders of Israel.
Nor did Camp David and Oslo specify a withdrawal to these alleged borders.
Moreover, both the language of 242 and its intent, as described by the
resolution's drafters, are clear. Britain's Lord Caradon, who introduced the
resolution on November 22, 1967, after months of discussion in the wake of the
Six Day War, has explicitly emphasized the very opposite of Carter's
In an interview in February 1973 on Israel Radio he said:
We knew that the boundaries of '67 were not drawn as permanent
frontiers; they were a cease-fire line of a couple decades earlier. We did not
say the '67 boundaries must be forever.
In the Beirut Daily Star on June 12, 1974, Caradon
It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions
of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial. After
all, they were just the places where the soldiers of each side happened to be on
the day the fighting stopped in 1948. They were just armistice lines. That's why
we didn't demand that the Israelis return to them.
There is more:
Carter's falsifications are not limited to mangling 242. He charges with regard to the barrier built by Israel in the wake of unprecedented terrorist attacks originating in the West Bank:
The governments of Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert have built the fence and
wall entirely within Palestinian territory, intruding deeply into the West Bank
to encompass Israeli settlement blocs and large areas of other Palestinian
The statement falsely depicts the course of the barrier. According to UN numbers, the path of the barrier under construction adheres to 45% of the "armistice line" and even in some places veers inside pre-1967 Israel. Not surprisingly, Carter neglects to mention the dramatic life-saving effect of the barrier - which has mostly done what was intended in thwarting easy entry by killers into Israel.
Clearly, facts, official language and documented historical milestones do not matter at all to those who seek to endow the former president with an aura of infallibility, as in this article by the aptly named Jihad el-Khazen. Here are his comments on the group of 14 Carter's advisers who resigned in protest over the book. Following Cater's tirade about the "silencing" tactics of Jewish-controlled media, Jihad does not miss a step as he provides this rationale for dismissing the significance of the gesture:
I observed from their names that they are American
Jews, mostly from the region, and some of them worked in the Carter
administration. It seems that they could not put up with a true word against
Israel. They belong to an American Jewish minority that supports Israel whether
right or wrong. (The January 13, 2007 issue of 'The Economist' includes a
lengthy feature about Israel and Jews around the world, urging the Jews to join
the discussion about Israel, and not to defend it no matter what it
Well, at least he out and says it, unlike others who mumble sneeringly under their breath: They have Jewish names, they are Jews! Jews, for God's sakes, so what does it matter that they denounce Carter's lies? Are we to beieve that Jews will be concerned for truth?
Here is what Ophelia Benson, from Butteflies and Wheels, writes about politics and truth, in a subject totally unrelated:
Politics ... got nothing to do with accuracy, evidence, inquiry, critical thinking - it's all mush. Mush-world. Baby world. Coax world. 'Is this okay, will this do?' Who cares; is it right, or not? [etc] But the political way of thinking - at the extreme - is like NASA - and is a kind of magical thinking - if the majority thinks so then it is true, which can even become, if the majority wants it to, it will happen. Like prayer, perhaps - a background idea that our hopes and wishes (and prayers) really do affect rocks and gases - really do protect the shuttle and keep it from exploding.
That's politics at its worst,
I highlighted the part I thought was the most scary: that truth, in politics, never has a sustainability and existence of its own. It is a function of majority will and desire, laziness and moral relaivism, never troubled by facts, numbers, records, declarations, written documents, valid arguments. It's about persuasion, not reality. I am pretty sure that, unlike what his aides are putting forth, Carter was quite astonished at the reception of his book. I have little doubt that he expected his name and presidential stature to suffice in promoting a bunch of lies and distortions. Apparently, the reason for such an opposition could only be due to the power of the Jewish Lobby over the media and academia.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Carter's anti-Israel Book: Act three Where the Palestinians are concerned, Carter keens the same Comment:
I was hoping to have heard the last of the whole fiasco whereby a former American President places his presidential infallible respectability at the services of one side in a complicated conflict. Moreover, delivering those services with a book full of distortions, false claims, omission of historical records, as well as punctuated with sanctimonious pontification.
Carter's response to the vehement criticism leveled against his book from authoritative sources whose opinions should matter to an author seeking to promote truth and peace, was to conjure up a Jewish cabal of silencing. While I could give him the benefit of a doubt with regards to his motivation in writing this book, I fear this knee jerk response, so typical of certain, very repulsive, segments of the American public, exposes him for what he is:
When Colmes began the interview asking “is Jimmy
Carter anti-Semitic,” Berman coolly responded:
No, I wouldn't go that far. But what he has done,
Alan, is he's abandoned his traditional position of honest broker and mediator
in favor he's embraced the position of an advocate, a singular advocate for one
side. We can't abide by that. In good conscience, we resigned, and actually,
it's 15 of us now that have resigned.
I believe Berman is being politically correct here, in the true sense of the word. He deflects the question from being about Carter the man to the book he wrote. (Thank you, NWO)
Well, I think that much as people are trying to avoid this conclusion, it's getting to be like the elephant in the room.
But never mind that now.
Asia Times columinist Spengler analyses and explains the book in terms of Carter's fatal flaw, which is lack of understanding:
What is happening to the Palestinians is horrifying, by
which I mean not simply unpleasant, but subversive of identity, in the sense of
Sigmund Freud's das Unheimliche. It is not nearly as horrifying as what will
happen next, however. Carter could not bring himself to confront Soviet
aggression during the 1970s for the same reason that he cannot abide the
predicament of the Palestinians. As he looked down the river to the end of the
journey, the former president muttered, "The horror! The horror!" By deluding
himself that the Palestinian predicament is something else than it really is,
Carter attempts to keep the horror away.
trope. It is repulsive to think that a people of several millions, honeycombed
with representatives of international organizations, the virtual stepchild of
the United Nations, appears doomed to reduce its national fever by letting
blood. The 700,000 refugees of 1948, hothoused by the UN relief agencies,
prevented from emigrating by other Arab regimes, have turned into a people, but
a test-tube nation incapable of independent national life: four destitute
millions of third-generation refugees in the small and barren territories of
Gaza, Judea and Samaria, which cannot support a fraction of that number.
Where the Palestinians are concerned, Carter keens the same
I've written about the need to pity the Palestinians, because their entire being was warped by the most cruel mind games their leaders and prophets played upon their collective psyche. I think Spengler intuits the same type of pathology.
Here is a metaphor that Carter's religious heart would like: The Palestinians are like the unfortunate Isaac, whose father willingly tied him to the altar, in order to sacrifice him to (what he thought was) an implacable God who would make such ungodly demands upon him.
But this is where the usefulness of the metaphor ends. For where Abraham, the rich and strong chieftain, was prevented, forcibly, from executing his son, and thus ushered in an era of civility and rejection of gratuitous human sacrifice, Palestinians are being fed repeatedly to a hungry, unappeasable God by their own father, the Arab Ummah.
While Abraham accepted his son's redemption joyfully, Arab nations are hard at work nailing Palestinians unto the altar they had created for them.
Will the Palestinians ever come to realize the perversion of their national condition?
Monday, January 15, 2007
On the wonderful quality of true friendship:
Martin Amis's reference to his friend Christopher Hitchens fits a theme I'm pursuing in my investigation into the nature and benefit of friendship. Inspired by Michel de Montaigne's great invocation and valediction of his own profound friendship with La Boétie, I've been trying to analyse this virtue, this moral "goods" as a foundational block in what we call "civil society". From what I've read about the Amis-Hitchens friendship by both of them, I have reason to believe that theirs is a friendship of such like rarity and endurence.
But what triggered this string of thought tonight was a project my seven year old daughter is working on, concerning a hippo, a tortoise and an unimaginable friendship.
It is said in the Talmud there are three circumstances in which a man’s true being is recognized for what it is: money, alcohol and anger.
A C Grayling’s opinion article is written in anger. There is rightful anger and there is righteous
anger. Both kinds of anger are manifest in this article.
Grayling’s is rightfully angry when he speaks most forcefully against those who are actively seeking to forestall the anti-discrimination regulations, on the grounds that “people who run cafes and B&Bs who do not wish to serve gay people ("because it makes them condone gay sex" contrary to the morality devised in the sixth century BC) will be forced to quit their jobs and do something else. Tough. If they do not wish to treat other human beings equally, let them indeed do something else. That is exactly what we would say if they refused to serve black people, women, or Jews. The discrimination is the same, the unacceptability of discrimination is the same, and the contempt one feels for them is the same.”
But Grayling anger becomes righteous when he singles out one group, and one group only, among the anti-anti-discrimination regulations activists. Guess who that group is? Right, the “Jews”.
“And on the subject of Jews: what a disgrace that the stone-agers outside parliament tonight will include a Jewish group. If anyone should be against discrimination of any kind, it is a Jew. Alongside the Jews murdered in Auschwitz were homosexuals, wearing a pink patch where the Jews wore a Star of David. The despairing implication of the fact that Jews are joining Christian and Muslims - the usual standard bearers of intolerance and reaction - in this campaign is that too many people learn too little, never connect the dots, and repeat the ghastly errors of the past, when under the thought-inhibiting influence of such toxins as religious belief.”
It is thoroughly depressing to read Grayling’s self-justification in applying a different, stricter moral yardstick to Jews. What he says is very simple: Jews, by virtue of being the greatest victims in history of prejudice and discrimination, are required, all of them, to a person, to uphold a loftier level of morality, no matter what their actual beliefs are. They are expected to be better, nobler, wiser human beings than all others.
I totally reject Grayling’s monolithic condemnation and I particularly resent that he has put me and other Jewish persons in an untenable position; due to this Jews-only expectation of a higher order of humanity, we feel we have to defend the rights of even Jews to hold anti-liberal ideals.
So instead of pooling in all our energies, regardless of any specific identity we happen to have, into the good fight against discrimination of Gays, we are forced to divert some of them into what is a “bad” and reluctant fight of defending the rights of some, (or quite a few, or many, or a marginal few), Jews to diverge from the stereotype that others expect them to be.
In her article “Individuality, Nationality, and the Jewish Question” Joan Cocks writes about Isiah Berlin:
“Berlin repeatedly represents England as a liberal and tolerant society in which Jews could feel themselves equal to all other citizens. Nevertheless, the realities of English anti-Semitism should make us wonder … Berlin resembles the assimilating Jews he describes in "Jewish Slavery and Emancipation," who for survival's sake had "to make themselves familiar with the habits and modes of behaviour" of Gentile society, to "get this right" and "not miscalculate." … Berlin’s remark, so incongruous with his long and happy existence at the pinnacle of English society, that Marilyn Berger reports in her New York Times obituary for him. "... one has to behave particularly well ... [or] they won't like us." When.. "it was suggested to him that he was surely the exception ... he had an immediate response: 'Nevertheless, I'm not an Englishman, and if I behave badly...'" (my emphasis).
Jews are not allowed to behave badly, or hold illiberal or unpopular opinions. In his article, Grayling encircles a segment in society whose opinions about homosexuality he finds egregious. Within that group, he circumscribes another group, of Jews, as meriting a special opprobrium and an extra intensity of scorn.
What’s a Jewish person to do? How do I compromise my primary ethical inclination to resist intolerance in any shape or form, with my intuitive rejection of Grayling’s particular and sanctimonious assault upon Jews?
Scary thought of the day* (found on the Internet):
If the Democrats or Republicans don't do a better job we are certain to have a viable third party in a few decades.
*Sometimes, as I surf a variety of blogs and message boards (with which I'm somewhat familiar), I get to read some pretty good nuggets of eloquent stupidity. I've decided not to be miserly like Moliere's Harpagon, who kept his gems locked away. I'll try and share my findings with my blog readers.
Tomorrow, I'll bring another example of what, presumably, passes for sharp satirical wit in the commenter's mind.