Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Guardian's Shameful Descent into Fascist* Apologetics

A few blogs noticed:

@ Normblog:

The revelations in detail... of the intransigent greed, the escape from decency, of Israeli governments in negotiation with our selected leaders of the Palestinians, serve one purpose among others. They provide a further part of what is now an overwhelming argument for a certain proposition. It is that the Palestinians have a moral right to their terrorism within historic Palestine against neo-Zionism.

Since, as is not in dispute, terrorism in this context means the random blowing up of Israelis on buses, in bars and in other public places, what we have here is a well-known philosopher justifying the killing of, among other people, Israeli children .. . But terrorism against Israeli civilians, that is something else - a now accepted current of left-liberal opinion.

@ Fat Man on a Keyboard:

"Adolph Hitler
The Guardian, 21 July 1944

Now thanks to the Guardian we know the truth. The latest leaks show that the illegal war launched by the war criminal Neville Chamberlain did not simply aim at the defence of Poland but at regime change, here in Germany!

As if that were not enough it has now emerged that the assassination plot that mercifully failed yesterday took place after covert contacts with sinister forces in the Western alliance. As early as 1938 secret talks took place between the German military elite and the arch-imperialist, oppressor of India the so-called Lord Halifax about the overthrow of the legitimately elected(ish) Government of the Democratic Third Reich.

After all, who elected Stauffenberg? Who did he and his fellow plotters represent? The only mandate given them was the one emanating from the US-led world order that has always conspired against our people and sided with our oppressors.

You couldn't make it up if you tried.... (The rest here)

This passage from Orwell's "Inside the Whale" has something to say about the likes of Honderich and the Guardian editors who find his ideas worthy of being published:

" ... a day in the life of a 'good party man'. In the morning a couple of political murders, a ten-minutes' interlude to stifle 'bourgeois' remorse, and then a hurried luncheon and a busy afternoon and evening chalking walls and distributing leaflets. All very edifying. But notice the phrase 'necessary murder'. It could only be written by a person to whom murder is at most a word. Personally I would not speak so lightly of murder. It so happens that I have seen the bodies of numbers of murdered men—I don't mean killed in battle, I mean murdered. Therefore I have some conception of what murder means—the terror, the hatred, the howling relatives, the post-mortems, the blood, the smells. To me, murder is something to be avoided. So it is to any ordinary person. The Hitlers and Stalins find murder necessary, but they don't advertise their callousness, and they don't speak of it as murder; it is 'liquidation', 'elimination', or some other soothing phrase. Mr Auden's brand of amoralism is only possible, if you are the kind of person who is always somewhere else when the trigger is pulled. So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don't even know that fire is hot. The warmongering to which the English intelligentsia gave themselves up in the period 1935-9 was largely based on a sense of personal immunity. The attitude was very different in France, where the military service is hard to dodge and even literary men know the weight of a pack."

Like Hitler and Stalin, Honedirch does not speak of murder, plain and simple. He buries it in the rather shallow grave of the term "terrorism". And just like Stalin's and Hitler's alternative terms "liquidation', 'elimination', Honderich's resort to "terrorism" is supported by an appeal to utter and exclusive Palestinian self-pity, the time-honoured motivation of the would be genocider.


* Not sure whether "fascist" is the correct descriptor here. In both examples the Guardian makes its pages available to writers who make very serious cases for murdering Israeli Jews. It's just that I was afraid that "genocidal apologetics" might be grounds to the accusation that I cheaply use the antisemitic card to besmirch a respectable paper. "Genocide" is about annihilating Jews qua Jews. Therefore when the murder extolled refers to Israeli Jews then "genocide" is obviously the wrong name for it (the murder). So I looked for a term that might mitigate from the charge. Fascism might be regarded as the stage when preparation of the warrant for genocide takes place. So it will have to do, for now.

I have to wonder at what point this kind of freedom of the press turns into an open hate speech.


Update: Here

Update II: Here

Sunday, January 23, 2011

More comments trailed:

Egypt's riots

Palin and the blood libel

On the vileness of Counterpunch and why some people are still moved to defend the indefensible

Hating Palin

@ Bob from Brockley: Bob, beloved of all...

On Lieberman (another Lieberman), the unloved

More on Lieberman (the other one) : How they love to hate Lieberman!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jonathan Pollack,

anarchist dissenter, was convicted by the Israeli government, so tells us Todd Gitlin, on TNR,

I left this comment:

"Previous to the formation of "Anarchists Against the Wall" Pollak lived for some time in a squatter community at Amsterdam and participated in sometimes wild demonstrations against globalization and against the Dutch Royal Family - which eventually resulted in his being arrested and deported from the Netherlands."

"Jonathan was arrested dozens of times and convicted together with 10 others for blocking a road in front of the Israeli Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv on the day the International Court of Justice in The Hague began its proceeding on the legality of the wall. He was also acquitted of a rioting charge together with another AAW activist, Kobi Snitz. They were both arrested at a demonstration against the wall in the village of Budrus.[2]"

"Pollak is son to acclaimed Israeli actor Yossi Pollak, and brother to TV actor Avshalom Pollak and film director Shai Carmely Pollak. Shai recently won the Wolgin Award at the Jerusalem Film Festival for his Movie Bil'in Habibti.[3] The film depicts the story of the struggle against the wall in the village of Bil'in and briefly features Jonathan. Pollak was part of the Israeli hardcore punk scene as a teenager and remains straight edge.[4]

In 2005 Pollak toured the United States with Ayed Morrar, a Palestinian organizer from the West Bank village of Budrus, as part of a fundraising tour for the ISM.

In July 2009, Pollak gave evidence to the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict headed by Justice Richard Goldstone. Pollak, together with Mohamed Srour, a Palestinian from the village of Ni'lin in the West Bank, spoke to the Mission about the killing that they witnessed of Arafat and Mohamed Khawaja, during a demonstration against the Israeli assault on Gaza by Palestinians and Israeli and international solidarity activists in Ni'lin on 28 December 2008.

On December 28, 2010, Pollak was sentenced[5] to three months imprisonment and a fine of 1,500 shekels for taking part in a Critical Mass bicycle demonstration against the blockade of Gaza in Tel Aviv in January, 2008."


Pollack was arrested dozens of times; once he was convicted for blocking a road in front of the Israeli Ministry of Defense; another time he was acquitted of a rioting charge. Now he was again convicted.

This does not draw an outline that would support Gitlin's presumption of human rights abuses. Gitlin talks about the "government of Israel" depriving Pollack of his rights. But it was not the government that convicted him. He was convicted in a court of law.

Is Gitlin making the accusation that Israel's courts are obedient to Government's wishes? Does he mean that in Israel, there is no separation of powers and that the executive and Judicial branches are in cahoots with each other to silence anarchist dissenters?

I also have to wonder whether Pollack's famous family connections had something to do with Gitlin's special interest in his case.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Comments trail:

@ Pajama media: Defending Marty Peretz? I'm not so sure anymore. His latest post on the Spine reeks too much of reckless, self-indulgent, undemocratic sentiments

@ The Spine: Peretz's beef: too many ultra orthodox Jews in Israel
Page 2 Page 3

@ Mick's: More Islamic Science, this time the connection between breast cancer, American women and the number of sexual partners (200-300 before graduating college)

@ The Spine: Peretz undecided: How to Lieberman without Liebermanning?
Page 2
Page 3

@ Terry Glavin's: In partial defence of Peretz

@ Bob's: Unsatisfactory conclusion of the One State solution kerfuffle

@ The Spine: Once again: Yosef Ovadia's End of time fantasy irks some people Page 2

Why is it that Jewish end of times fantasies bother people so? Why is there an attendant suspicion that the fantasy is just a precedent of some action? And why is such suspicion taken with such serious agitation of the spirit?

@ Pyramidion: The Egyptian blogger is a doctor with a deep interest in history, a penchant for TS Eliot's poetry which he quotes as his guiding light: " “We shall not cease from exploration".

His blog is an interesting demonstration of Egyptian intellectual classes, a strange mixture of nationalist pride, reverse-Orientalism and conspiracy theories, all served in a sauce of anti-Zionist jargon to boot.

A thoroughly depressing blog.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

"Words that taint language"

"Islamophobia was invented to silence those Muslims who question the Koran and who demand equality of the sexes. By Pascal Bruckner"

"On a global scale, we are abetting the construction of a new thought crime, one which is strongly reminiscent of the way the Soviet Union dealt with the "enemies of the people". And our media and politicians are giving it their blessing. Did not the French president himself, never one to miss a blunder - not compare Islamophobia with Antisemitism? A tragic error. Racism attacks people for what they are: black, Arab, Jewish, white. The critical mind on the other hand undermines revealed truths and subjects the scriptures to exegesis and transformation. To confuse the two is to shift religious questions from an intellectual to a judicial level. Every objection, every joke becomes a crime.

The desecration of graves or of places of worship is naturally a matter for the courts. In France, for the most part it is Christian graveyards or churches that are affected. Let us not forget that today, of all the monotheist religions, Christianity is the most persecuted – particularly in Islamic countries such Algeria, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey or Egypt. It is easier to be a Muslim in London, New York or Paris than a Protestant or Catholic in the Middle East or North Africa. But the term "Christianophobia" does not function – and that's a good thing. There are words which taint language, which obscure meaning. "Islamophobia" is one of the words that we urgently need to delete from our vocabulary."

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Comments Trail:

Katzav - and Israel as a decent society

Death at Bilin: A timely death is too good to waste in order to demonize the IDF...

@The Propagandist: One Angry Arab, lies and other posturings

January First 2011: terror and religion in Egypt

@Enagage: Same old

Some of my comments do not make it through the moderators (who, I daresay, share my interlocutor's diagnosis of my defence of Israel as "Israeli chauvinism") and I lose them. * So I'm going to keep a log of the comments I submit at Engage.

1. Noga Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Obviously, Sacha, you are incapable of speaking in anything but Rococo Left cliches: Israeli chauvinist, internationalist. I’m left pretty cold by these tired sentimental outbursts with their anachronistic tabulations.

There can be no comparability between the place hatred for Israel as the core of Palestinian nationhood and Israelis’ hatred of Palestinians which is the more “normal” type of hatred towards an enemy that openly and daily declares his aim is to destroy and annihilate you.

Israel underwent its paradigm shift when Ben Gurion accepted 1947 UN Partition resolution. Re-affirmed in 1967, with 242. Again, with Oslo Accords. Again, in Camp David II. again, with Olmert’s proposals.

From the Palestinians we get reverberating “NO”s, campaigns of terror, low-intensity terror, and threats of terror. There are other possibilities. Palestinians can be taught, told for a change, that “compromise” is not a dirty word and often is the only ethical solution to be had from a pretty meagre selection of solutions.

2. Noga Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

“…but that doesn’t excuse an attack on the terminology and the person.”

Terminology provides the backbone of any account or argument. Once you cede to Sacha’s penchant for applying colonialist vocabulary to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, you accept his premises about the denouement of Israel’s history, that is, you accept Palestinian narrative. My problem with Sacha is that he holds a hammer in his hand and thinks he can knock any nail into the frame of his own ideology. So from Israel the colonialist state flow immediately such pearls as “Israeli chauvinist” and “internationalist” and a mean-spirited tone, all for disagreeing with his rigid and unworkable solution.

Language matters awfully. If one decides to refer to women as tramps and to men as rapists, there is no way you can discuss gender relationships but through the prisms offered by these terms.

Sacha knows it. That’s why he keeps piling it on.

* Update: Surprise! The comment shows.

Saturday, January 01, 2011


Le Chat
Guillaume Apollinaire

Je souhaite dans ma maison:
Une femme ayant sa raison,
Un chat passant parmi les livres,
Des amis en toute saison
Sans lesquels je ne peux pas vivre.


In my home I wish to have
A woman sensible and suave
A cat traipsing among the books
Friends in weather foul or fair
If not for them how would I fare

Bob From Brockley, tagged me for a meme game, a challenge I decided to pick up, despite our more recent exchange over his more robust embrace of the ONE STATE SOLUTION.

I say "despite" because I usually tend to dismiss all one-staters as fundamentally militating for an antisemitic resolution to Israel's conflict with the Palestinians. Bob is a very obvious exception. Why so is hard to fully figure out, at least for me. Because I never ever felt in any of Bob's posts and articles that his and my basic sensibilities were at odds. Quite the contrary. Yet here he is putting a great deal of faith and hope in a solution that no rational person would advocate for the 6 million Jews of Israel. My only explanation is that he considers this solution not necessarily a prescription for action, but more in the nature of a horizon of possibility. If I am correct, then it might explain why Bob and I share a sensibility even when we stand on totally opposite sides on this issue. And horizon, BTW, is a rather illusive boundary. One always keeps the same distance from the horizon, even as one walks towards it.

A horizon is not an end. The word comes from the Greek "ὁρίζων κύκλος" (horizōn kyklos), "separating circle",[1] from the verb "ὁρίζω" (horizō), "to divide, to separate", and that from "ὅρος" (oros), "boundary, landmark". And that boundary is always aloof and unreachable. Or else, it wouldn't be a horizon but a border. Which is what I would like to have between Israel and Palestine, a very solid and unmistakable border.

Anyway, enough with this futile thoughts on the first day of the year 2011. Here is my list of the five most interesting, inspiring, or just plain thought-provoking books I read in 2010:


1. Short Talks, by (Canadian poet) Anne Carson.

A slim volume with mini-essays/meditations on each page doing in prose form what poems do in rhyme.

Here is one example:

Short talk On The Mona Lisa

Every day he poured his question into her, as you pour water from one vessel into another, and it poured back. Don't tell me he was painting his mother, lust, etc. There is a moment when the water is not in one vessel nor in the other - what a thirst it was, and he supposed that when the canvas became empty he would stop. But women are strong. She knew vessels, she knew water, she knew mortal thirst.

2. The uses of Pessimism/ Roger Scruton

This article in Dissent drew my attention to Scruton and I decided to order the book. It was a relief to read his analysis of hope as a deceiver and obstructor of proper action. I am always made to feel that my own profound distrust in the redemptive power of Hope is freakish.

3. Hitch 22, by Christopher Hitchens, about which I wrote here.

4. From Spanish Court to Italian Ghetto,
by Yosef Yerushalmi

is a study in Seventeenth century Marannism and Jewish apologetics. It's a second reading of the book in which I discovered the interesting detail that after the mass conversion of the Jews in the 15th century and expulsion of the rest of the Jews from Spain, Europeans developed a certain linguistic way of clarifying things to themselves. Thus a converted Jew was a "Jew" and an unbaptized Jew was a "Hebrew".

5. Left in Dark Times, by Bernard-Henri Levy.

Well, it's BHL, so one can expect verbosity and some French gesticulations, but otherwise interesting and timely.


1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,
Stieg Larsson,

It's an addictive kind of novel. Having read the whole trilogy, I find that the first novel is the best and the other two can be skipped without missing out on anything.

2. Glass, Irony and God, by Anne Carson.

A book of poems by my favourite poet. When I read her poems it's as if she has looked into my own heart and mind.

3. Poets on the edge, an anthology of contemporary Hebrew Poets, selected and translated by Tsipi Keller.

A worthy effort at translating Hebrew poetry.

Here is one poem:

A Linguistic Problem/ Dan Pagis

The maiden we call Hebrew

Is the youngest born in a very good family

Her problem, though, she messes around.

Every day it’s another story

You can’t rely on her,

Her word carries no weight.

She’s not even pretty:

She’s got acne, large feet,

Is loud and stubborn as a mule

And what’s worse:

She won’t give in to those

Who want to stifle her unruly voice

And bury her, respectfully,

In the ancestral tomb.

4. Black Dogs, Ian MacEwan

2010 is the year I finally discovered Ian McEwan, an author I had avoided before because I could not bear some of the very poignant sadness in which his novels are enveloped.

5. Amsterdam, Ian McEwan

I read this novel first. It's a blackish, roguish kind of satire whose ironies remind me strongly of Jane Austen. Having read it, I decided to flout my initial balking at McEwan's novels.

Here are some examples where I found very familiar echoes of Austen in his writing:

"Invigorated by this jolt of misanthropy..."

"He was widely known as a man without edges, without faults or virtues, as a man who did not fully exist".

'He turned the conversation towards Garmony's politics and the two passed an agreeable half-hour exploring a shared contempt"

Books to be skipped:

I already mentioned the Millennium trilogy's superfluous two later books but since I read them all I feel it is a bit pretentious of me to say: skip them. One can always learn something from a book, especially when it is a translation from a Swedish culture, about which I know little. What I do know, that it is a culture suffused with anti-Israeli loathing, is not really contradicted in these books where Jewish characters, more decent and virtuous than others, are present in the narrative in what seems an arbitrary selection. Just to have some Jews in the novels.

May 2011 be a year of much reading and much learning. Reading and learning are the antidote not only to ignorance and brutality. It can heal social sickness and cultural malaise. I learned this from my friend Roberta, a 90-year old Canadian woman whose wit and wisdom remain sharp and on topic, even as her hearing and sight grow dimmer. She learned this truth in the aftermath of WWII.