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Announcing the “Fleshies”: awards for the best responses to anti-Semitism on the Web

It is hard to convey the amount of bile and reductionist, blame-the-Jews-for-every-sin rhetoric that has taken over much of the blogosphere. Phil Weiss’s blog generally attracts some of the most articulate Jew-bashers, so I tune into the comments from time to time in order to gauge the level of hatred.

I just noticed some great comments by “Teddy,” one of our most valued contributors whose only fault is that he is smarter and generally more articulate than I am. I hereby award him the first “Fleshie,” which will be bestowed periodically on the best response to anti-Semitism or ignorant anti-Israelism on the Web. He veers farther to the left than I would, but this is the kind of respondent who has a chance to get the attention of the people who are reading these blogs and still trying to make up their minds about whether to hold the Jews responsible for the world’s problems…Stay with this. It is a bit scary in places. And Teddy’s initial response refers to an earlier comment and requires some patience. But, in the end, he richly deserves his Fleshie:

1-{The original provocation by “Cogit 8}”Phil, after observing how ‘your people’ operate for lo a half century, I rather doubt that anything close to a candid discussion about The Jews (or their lobby) will ever occur. The Russerts and Wolf Blitzers are drooling in wait for Obama, who hasn’t inspired much hope to the majority of Americans who want us out of Iraq.

What will happen instead is that Hillary will demagogue the issue into one of “Do you support our little ally Israel, or don’t you? Pulling out of Iraq will leave poor little Israel all alone, etc etc etc.”

If you want a foretaste of the sophistry to come, merely observe how the recent killing of 120 Palestinians by a sophisticated war-machine has not produced even a ripple of empathy in America, whereas the death of one Jew by a crudely made rocket is trumpeted about the mother-land. Proof indeed of The Jewing of America – because most of ‘your people’ really don’t give a rip about other human life.”

2-{Teddy’s response}: “most of ‘your people’ really don’t give a rip about other human life.”

What follows is an excerpt from a comment that closed off a thread a few days ago. I wrote it in response to a predictable claim from MM that Zionism was NOTHING except colonialism and racism, nothing else. I include the first part so you will understand the context of my concluding comment. Some of you are unwittingly doing a wonderful job of promoting Zionism and confirming the suspicions of the most paranoid Jews:

And there was nothing else to Zionism? No other reason for it? Just colonialism and imperialism? No pogroms and raw discrimination that made Eastern and Central European Jew believe assimilation was impossible? No desparation in the 1930s and ’40s because the gates of the world were closed (and don’t give me the infernal, conspiratorial line that somehow the Zionists caused the Holocaust or were glad that it happened, which I used to read all the time on Phil’s blog)?…

That said, many of the Zionist pioneers were racist, and orientalist, and the entire saga does not resemble the golden myths American Jews learned in their childhood about the founding of Israel. But let me tell ya, MM and all your compadres, much of the bile on this blog is reminiscent of the attitudes that convinced Jews in the late 19th century that Zionism was the only solution available to them.

So keep it up, as someone else wrote awhile ago. You’re doing AIPAC’s work for it!

Posted by: Teddy | March 06, 2008 at 12:19 PM

3-{Another county heard from}: Even if one accepts everything Teddy says about the pogroms Jews faced in Europe — what does that have to do with the U.S.?

Like the Palestinians, Americans wonder why we have to pay and pay and pay for sins committed by Europeans decades ago. We even have to pay $35 million a year for the Holocaust Museum, to explain what one group of Europeans did to another group of Europeans. Why?

Now there IS a zionist state, which enjoys a southern European standard of living. So WHY, again, is the U.S. obliged to spend billions a year, and distort its entire foreign policy — in perpetuity — to help this exclusively Jewish project along?

Is this like Catholic indulgences or carbon credits, where paying $5 billion a year will earn us “philosemitic credits” and expiate our eternal liberal guilt? It takes a lot of chutzpah to think that the Shoah can continue to milked for this purpose, in the seventh decade after it happened.

Give it a rest, man! Find a new hustle that actually adds some value to peoples’ lives, rather than just shaking them down and denouncing them as antisemites if they dare to object to having their pockets picked. Some of us are getting rather tired of being abused, after generously contributing all our lives via income tax. Some gratitude, huh!

Posted by: Jim Haygood | March 06, 2008 at 12:46 PM

4- {Teddy’s response}You don’t seem to get it, Jim. I wasn’t defending all that the Zionists did or justifying blind U.S. support for Israel. I was pointing out that the rhetoric on this site, or some of it, blames THE JOOS as a people for all sorts of nefarious crimes, and refuses to make a distinction between right wing Zionists and everyone else who calls himself or herself a Jew. Anti-Zionism and blunt, angry criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism. “Most of ‘your people’ don’t really give a rip about human life’ is anti-Semitic according to any reasonable definition of the word. If you and yours would denounce grotesque generalizations about the Jewish people and focus on AIPAC, the ZOA and the groups that I, as Jew, also despise, you might attract reasonable people to your arguments

Posted by: Teddy | March 06, 2008 at 01:08 PM

5-{A second provocation by “Cogit8”} Teddy, I regret that you limited your critique to just a few of my words, because I’m talking about a much larger issue (its the same issue that Phil is pondering also, and that is the question of Jewish culpability in the disaster which is Iraq).

If the Dreyfus Affair can be called “one of the greatest iniquities of the last century” and it only concerned one individual, pray tell what will Iraq and Lebanon be called some day? In addition, what will the ethnic cleansing of over 700,000 Palestinians be called?

So yes, “J’Accuse!” is where I’m coming from, and I accuse “most of ‘your people'” of having committed or supported major war-crimes against humanity.

Posted by: cogit8 | March 06, 2008 at 10:43 PM

6 {Teddy’s award- winning response} The Dreyfus Affair was your entry in the compare-whose-pain-is-greater debate, not mine.

You have a Star Wars, black and white vision of the conflict and, apparently, the universe. I learned a long time ago that it is useless to try to explain the complexities and nuances of the ongoing tragedy to people like you. But just a few notes and then I need to return to the world where people understand there are two sides to most stories and neither has a monopoly on truth or goodness.

I don’t believe Israel and its lobbyists were a decisive factor in the Bushies decision to get us into Iraq. But even if they were, what about the high percentage of American Jews who opposed the invasion and the higher percentage that turned agains the war? Are they part of the “people” who should be blamed for Iraq? Weren’t American Jews prominent leaders of the anti-war movement (e.g., Leslie Cagan)?

I don’t believe what happened in 1948 (or the 30s) can be reduced to the single, fashionable phrase of “ethnic cleansing,” unless that phrase is applied to both sides of the conflict. There was a war between two national movements and atrocities were commmited by both sides. What do you think were the intentions of the Arab armies that invaded in ’48? The entire area would have been Judenrein if they had gotten their way. But even if your Star Wars vision is correct, an entire “people” did not “support” ethnic cleansing. Most Jews who followed the conflict believed in the propaganda they were fed about why the Palestinians left. Only in the last few decades have the revisionist historians showed that there was another side of the story. You can’t blame an entire “people” for supporting ethnic cleansing if they did not believe that is what happened.

For that matter, even if you think the Zionists were the scum of the earth from the very start, realize that they were a minority movement among Jews around the world even in the early 1930s. An entire “people” did not support them. For most Jews. the need for the Jewish homeland only sunk during the Second World and its immediate aftermath.

As for Lebanon and Gaza, I am outraged at the passivity of most American Jewish organizations in the face of Israel’s disproportionate response. But one of the reasons for the passivity among moderate Jews who are horrified by the deaths of Palestinian children is utter despair and hopelessness; they don’t have a practical answer that will help both sides escape from this nightmare. So, as usual, those with the easy, extreme answers –targeted assasinations—win the day. That’s no excuse. I share your anger at what is happening and so do the organizations I support, like Brit Tzedek v’Shalom. So, where does that put me in your cartography of the Jewish people?

Posted by: Teddy | March 07, 2008 at 05:24 AM

Again, Teddy’s answer won’t make the mainstream Jewish establishment happy, because he feels no compulsion to defend what he believes to be indefensible. Some of what he says make me uncomfortable and is too harsh on the Zionists. But standard “hasbara” has no chance to succeed in that digital world. It gets rejected immediately. Teddy and his ilk do have a chance. Please send other nominations to

45 thoughts on “Announcing the “Fleshies”: awards for the best responses to anti-Semitism on the Web

  1. I am honored. I want to thank my bubby, my zayde, all the folks at Heschel in NYC and of course, my wife and daughters, who make everything possible..

  2. “Blame-the-Jews-for-every-sin”?

    I never blamed Jews, in the abstract, but I believe this is a rhetorical tactic and not your honest impression. I hope so.

    I blamed the implementation of a dangerous hybrid of manifest destiny-like tribal nationalist ideology–Zionism–for leading to a genocide.

    Zionist Jews have a difficult task ahead of them, realizing the extent to which their project committed in their name and with their direct or indirect participation, in the end has compelled them to commit genocide.

    The media defrauds the American people under whose license it controls the airwaves by using the euphemism “conflict” for what is happening in Palestine. It is genocide.

    Simultaneously, testing the universe’s capacity for irony, we have to hear Zionist Jewish organizations clamoring on about Darfur, while U.N. Aid agencies complain that they are using inciteful rhetoric and being generally unhelpful. We have to hear Colin Powell, an African-American, call Darfur a genocide, and listen to poisonous, race-baiting and hateful simplifications like “Arabs are killing Blacks” in our increasingly loathesome, irresponsible talk media.

    Palestine is a genocide.

    The definition of genocide given by Raphael Lemkin (1900–1959), a Polish-Jewish legal scholar, who coined the term in 1943:

    Generally speaking, genocide does NOT NECESSARILY MEAN THE IMMEDIATE DESTRUCTION of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify A COORDINATED PLAN OF DIFFERENT ACTIONS AIMING AT THE DESTRUCTION OF ESSENTIAL FOUNDATIONS OF THE LIFE OF NATIONAL GROUPS, WITH THE AIM OF ANNIHILATING THE GROUPS THEMSELVES. The objectives of such a plan would be the DISINTEGRATION OF THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS, of culture, language, NATIONAL FEELINGS, religion, and the ECONOMIC EXISTENCE of national groups, and the DESTRUCTION OF THE PERSONAL SECURITY, LIBERTY, HEALTH, DIGNITY, and even THE LIVES OF THE INDIVIDUALS belonging to such groups.

    I eagerly await Teddy’s award winning response! You too, Mr. Flesher–but you’ll have to do it on Phil’s blog, because he’s doing real journalism about the lobby, about the neo-cons, about Zionism as it really exists, not the dreamland some “progressive” Zionists seem to cling to.

  3. “””I believe this is a rhetorical tactic and not your honest impression.”””

    Pretending that one’s opponents are insincere is itself a rhetorical tactic. I-am-sincere-and-you-are-not is as old as the hills.

    “””Zionist Jews have a difficult task”””

    If this individual’s complaint is not with Jews then why does he label the object of his complaint as “Jews”?

    “””we have to hear Zionist Jewish organizations clamoring”””

    Again, the object of the ire is labeled as “Jewish.”

    “””You too, Mr. Flesher–but you’ll have to do it on Phil’s blog,”””

    Another rhetorical device, this time the hit-and-run. The attacker makes a statement, and then announces that he won’t be reading any responses because he doesn’t read the forum he is posting in.

    Which is great in this particular instance, because I don’t like anti-Semites posting here.

  4. MM,

    Too tired to write a 300 page response, which is what is required. Like Teddy, I look at this as a conflict between two national movements, but to call one of those movements “genocidal” is not accurate.

    I will take the trouble to excerpt my response to a similar assertion made by one of our regular visitors here, “Kevin.” He wrote something about ethnic cleansing that is not much different than the one you made about genocide. So here is his assertion, followed by my (partial) response, all of it related to what happened in the first half of the 20th century. The second half, and what the region is experiencing now, requires another tome. The references to “Laqueur” refer to the “History of Zionism” by Walter Laqueur, which used a lot of primary sources to convey the many different positions, pipe dreams and plans of the Zionists prior to the Arab Revolt of the 1930s.
    Kevin says:

    “…The term `ethnic cleansing’ is an accurate description of what the dominant forces in the Zionist project intended to carry out before 1948, and what they in fact did carry out during 1948. To reiterate, there’s no hope for resolving the conflict until Zionists of left and right come to acknowledge this and account for it in their historical understanding of Israel. I mean, we’ve done this in the US – no one doubts that the European Americans had designs to ethnically cleanse native Americans from most of their lands. We now recognize it as a key aspect to the American narrative. Same for slavery. So what is so sacred about Zionism that should make you Zionists run screaming as Isseroff has when someone says the words “ethnic cleansing”?
    Then, Dan Fleshler says:

    Kevin…I can’t possibly address our “challenge” adequately without writing a whole chapter or a whole book, and that’s not something I can or will do. But you ask very good questions and I have been trying, to the best of my ability, to look at them honestly over the last few years. As I keep saying, I am not a trained historian. Maybe I have been sold a bill of goods all of these years and I am prepared to be shown that this is the case. But, with the understanding that there will be 30 important points omitted from the following, I’ll give it a shot:

    o–The Jews who settled in Palestine beginning in the early 20th century were a motley crew with all kinds of ideas about the nature of an ideal society. Many were die-hard socialists. Some hoped to build a worker’s paradise in which Arab and Jewish workers would unite and throw off the yoke of feudal landowners. Their form of Orientalism and noblesse oblige was that Jewish colonists would be “good for the Arabs” because it would develop class consciousness. Others believed, in the manner of many western colonialists, that they were bringing the benefits of modern technology and modern thinking to the Arabs. Some apparently believed they would be welcomed by the Arabs of Palestine. Many more believed that they should have been welcomed.

    Most just didn’t give this whole question much thought. They were too busy with other matters, like creating an entirely new Jew, free of the ghetto’s shackles.

    The notion that most of them –or most of their leaders– set out to Palestine with the intention of kicking out Palestinian Arabs is simply not true. As Laqueur described the early Zionists: “The idea that it might be impossible to establish a state without bloodshed seems never to have occurred to them.”

    o—Many of the Zionists’ ideas about relations with Palestinian Arabs kept evolving, morphing, mostly in response to the absolute refusal of all but a few Palestinian Arabs to consider any compromise. Some changed their minds several times. Some, like Ben Gurion, often seemed to be of two minds on the same issue. One can prove that he was a “population transfer” advocate with one quote or action and also find another quote to show that he wanted the two peoples to somehow co-exist peacefully.

    In 1918, according to Laqueur, he wrote a piece in a Hebrew newspaper that emphatically rejected population transfer as an option. For one thing, he said, “even if Jews were given the right to evict Arabs, they would never make use of it,” (Laqueur’s paraphrase), That could give fodder to those who want to show he secretly believed it was the best option. But, in the same piece, he also called it morally reprehensible. “He said Zionism did not have the right to harm one single Arab child even if it could realize all of its aspirations at that price.”

    Again, if you haven’t read Laqueur, I urge you to do so. His chapter on “The Unseen Question” is a pretty good summary.

    o—Throughout the 1920s, there were a host of plans, proposals, half-baked ideas proferred by some Zionist leaders for sharing the territory of Mandatory Palestine. It wasn’t just people like Jerry Haber’s hero, Judah Magnes and his idealistic friends. Haim Weitzmann called many times and in many ways for a bi-national state, and for a legislative body in which Arabs and Jews would have parity. In 1922, Eliahu Golumb, one of the founders and leaders of the Hagana, met with a British official to discuss the possibility of resolving the conflict through some kind of Arab confederation, of which Palestine would form a part. There are many other examples.

    There are also examples of harsh rhetoric about the impossibility of solving the conflict without separating from the Arabs.

    None of the idealistic plans and proposals got anywhere. They ran smack dab into a Palestinian nationalist movement that had grown quickly in response to the Zionists –both to their behavior, which was sometimes reprehensible, and to their mere presence.. Before the riots in the 20’s in Jerusalem and Jaffa, most of the Jews in Palestine either completely misunderstood, preferred to ignore or dismissed this nationalist movement. But gradually, painfully, it became clear to more and more of them that the conflict could not be resolved through federal schemes or bi-national parliaments or other idealistic proposals, even if they kept presenting them to the British and to Palestinian Arabs in a half-hearted manner. [I am not saying the Arabs of Palestine should have accepted any of those schemes and proposals. That’s another question for another thread.]

    The Arab Revolt in the mid-1930s, coupled with the Zionists’ sense of the growing emergency of Jews in Europe, confirmed a growing conviction that only a violent confrontation was going to resolve this issue. The seizure of Palestinian land without paying for it became more common. Attitudes hardened. The differences between Ben Gurion and Jabotinsky on what to do about the Palestinian Arabs gradually diminished.

    Nevertheless, the Jews did begrudgingly accept the Peel Commission proposal in 1937, which would have restricted their state to the coastal plain between Tel Aviv and Haifa. The Arabs didn’t. The Arab leadership, with very few exceptions, clearly wanted to rid all of Mandatory Palestine of the Zionist interlopers. They showed the same sentiments when they rejected the UN partition plan of 1947. I think it would accurate to say that the Zionists were in favor of ethnic exclusion, and the ability to carve out their own destiny in their own territory. But I think that it was the Arabs who advocated “ethnic cleansing,” if that term means the forced expulsion of an entire population from one distinct territory.

    In many ways, the thesis that the Zionists as a whole deliberately intended to kick out the Arabs of Palestine was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Arabs did everything in their power to make their prophecy come true by choosing the road of armed resistance, and losing.”

  5. Oh yeah, here is the address for the original post and commentary. The quotes above were part of a discussion sparked by a reference to Ilan Pappe, whose book on ethnic cleansing is popular on the far left. MM, you’ll note that the post was actually trying to skewer the myth that a united Jerusalem has always been some kind of sacred cow to the Zionist movement.

    Good night.

  6. Dan, I must say, that is probably the most cogent and convincing summary of the entire tragedy that I have ever read. Give yourself a Fleshie.

  7. Well it’s thoughtfully written, but typically, there are these assertions that the actions of Nazi Germany provided some kind of a justification for a violent landgrab, and that the Arabs got what they had coming, and there’s not even any grappling with the injustice/immorality of foreign peoples undertaking a nationalist movement on land that was entirely someone else’s. (That is a peculiar form of nationalism, that conjures a homeland out of religious myth, thousands of miles away from where the people constituting its majority had actually developed their culture and lived.)

    I respect that you are looking for a peaceful alternative to the reality of Zionism, but I feel that hiding behind euphemisms like “ethnic exclusion” and the myths of necessary militarism will not lead to addressing the injustice of an ethnic nationalism imposed from without and exclusionary toward 98% of the indigenous population. The violent and supremacist vision of Zionism was articulated early enough for indigenous Palestinians to have every right to reject it outright, meaning that Palestinian recalcitrance is justified, and you are dishonest to try to portray it as a merely racist impulse for “ethnic cleansing”.

    Why not get back to the “Zionism” of the more enlightened nationalist Jews, via rejecting the militarist expansionist exclusionary juggernaut that bears ultimate responsibility for the “cycle of violence” and currently claims sovereignty over Palestine?

  8. The problem as I see it is that MM repeatedly expresses hostility towards a group which he calls “Zionist Jews,” as in “we have to hear Zionist Jewish organizations clamoring”

    “Jews” is an ethnic reference, and therefore “Zionist Jews” is also an ethnic reference.

    MM could have left out the word “Jewish” in describing the object of his antagonism, but he chose not to.

  9. Like genes or bacteria, there are ALWAYS a billion (or more or less) outcomes/programs that may be stimulated and occur, depending on the set of conditions at the time.

    In Israel/Palestine, prior to 1930 there were articulations of taking over all of the land, and mostly legal efforts to accomplish that by purchasing selected tracts of land, and with strategic location to model the Begin era settlement program (which tail continues to wag).

    And, at the same time, the conditions by which that would occur were not in place. The Jewish population of Israel/Palestine was small. (Ethnic cleansing of Jews from areas they had resided in for millenia, had occurred in cases, but very very little of what you could describe the other way.)

    That ethnic cleansing was stimulated by fomented fears, as most are. What “they” will do to us.

    Even though there was still ongoing persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe particularly, they did not migrate en-masse to Palestine (not all that hospitable a place: objective physical conditions and social).

    While some stated the fantasy to take over all of the land, that’s what it remained at that point, a fantasy, without much prospect of occurring except in very small regions.

    Not as justification, but as description, the condition that changed that was the holocaust.

    The holocaust represented two big things to European Jewry. One was that in lands that Jews were already persecuted, that that would continue and only get worse. (In Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Baltics, Ukraine, Russia, the majority of locals often joined the Nazis in persecutions and turned them in to be genocided. And, following the war, they continued to harrass and kill Jews that did return to their former villages.)

    The second was that the holocaust represented that even in societies in which Jews were largely assimilated, enlightened, progressive countries like Germany and France to a lesser extent, Jews were scapegoated for their internal woes, and persecuted and killed.

    The places that Jews felt safe at all were few and far between.

    The objective condition for Jews was that they had to leave Europe. And, at the time, the US “generously” increased its quota of Eastern European immigration from paltry to insignificant (that was an increase). Similarly for Great Britain and colonies, and it was successfully enforced.

    The ONLY place that functionally facilitated the prospect of safety and self-determination was Israel. Although immigration was illegal to Palestine, it was functionally possible (with great travail). After 1948, it was more possible.

    The OBJECTIVE conditions created the need for mass settlement of Jewish refugees, and in the only place that it was possible at the time.

    If you want to argue that a form of “post-Zionism” is now possible, that Jews are permanently not going to be persecuted in the US, Europe, Russia, Palestine, that there is no longer a need for a haven, then the OBJECTIVE condition might not be a need.

    I think you would be hard-pressed to accurately describe that condition, given the OBJECTIVE setting in the Arab world (dual with much urging of acceptance, and much hatred and violence towards Jews), and the degree of anti-semitic sentiment expressed in the west including among “enlightened” progressives.

    Even if the need for haven were relaxed, the desire for self-governance probably would not. Israel IS a nation now. Even if prior it was an amalgam, it IS a nation.

    The prospect of a negotiated peace between Israel and Palestine, is that the objective conditions of peace and acceptance can occur that might lead to the objective conditions that facilitate even the utopian single-state democracy.

    It would also lead to the first time on the planet, a sovereign Palestine, self-governing and haven.

  10. Witty, once again, the Holocaust just doesn’t justify your landgrab, your nationalism-on-someone-else’s-land, and it WAS, and IS, someone else’s land, and your “history” trying to allege ethnic cleansing of Jews in Palestine pre-Zionism is certainly phony and clearly ideologically pre-determined.

    Many Jews converted to Islam and Christianity in that region, now hundreds of years later to find themselves underneath the Zionist jackboot. And under your bizarre logic, they got what they had coming, because they were not welcoming to their intruders.

    The “two state solution” is a euphemism for treading water until all the Palestinians have drowned or swam to other country’s shores. Note after the recent bloodshed both Israeli and Palestinian officials saying the peace process was right on track. They aren’t lying–this is the peace process. Zionits PR comes up with some truly incredible euphemisms.

    Richard, I’m afraid you will never be able to come to terms with the genocidal implications of Zionism, that has been abundantly clear in our dialog, but I hope, for the love of humanity, that your sons and their generation will. All signs indicate that they slowly are.

    How do you feel about the exodus of thousands of 20-something IDF veterans fleeing to hippie havens in the third world? Is that a symptom of anything?

  11. MM,

    The idea that what I wrote implies that “the Palestinians had it coming to them” or the implication that I am saying they deserved what happened to them is based on a misunderstanding.

    You claimed the entire Zionist enterprise was “genocidal” at its core and by its very nature. I was refuting that claim. I am among those who believe the Israelis should apologize for their role in the displacement of Palestinians in ’48 and own up to the atrocious behavor that some of the Zionists exhibited. You are apparently among those who feel that no one else had any culpability for what happened. This gap can’t be bridged. As Teddy said, you have a “Star Wars” vision of reality.

    We have both inherited a set of circumstances and would like to change them. If you take some time to read many of the posts and exchanges on this blog, you will see that much of it is devoted to finding workable tactics to help the process of –in your words–“rejecting the militarist expansionist exclusionary juggernaut that bears ultimate responsibility for the “cycle of violence” and currently claims sovereignty over Palestine”

    But, when trying to assess how we got here, I look at what happened and try to understand it from the POV of both sides. Both peoples were products of their time and of their historical circumstances. The Zionists came to Palestine at a time when colonial powers claimed the right to own “other people’s land” and then, after World War 1, claimed the right to divide up other people’s land as they saw fit. They were also the product of a time when nationalism and national self-determination were deemed by many people as progressive. And the fact that the Jews had a continuous historical presence in Palestine and the central role of The Land in Jewish identity made it seem reasonable to them that the best answer to their ongoing emergency was to settle there. It certainly seemed reasonable to the League of Nations. That doesn’t “justify” everything that they did or the racism and Orientalism that was inherent in the worldview most of them had –a racism and Orientalism that were also part of the historical landscape at the time.

    But if you exhibit historical “presentism” and judge their behavior based on current, post nationalist Western standards, then you should judge the behavior of Palestinian Arabs and neighboring states by the same standards. They were characterized by an abject hostility to “The Other” that was equally racist, and by a refusal to accept any form of compromise whatsoever, and by the inability or refusal to understand that the Zionists were not, in fact, traditional colonialists but something else, something that was sui generis…The Palestinian Arabs and their neighbors were also products of their time. And one result of their worldview was that some of them saw nothing wrong with murdering the “indigenous” Jewish populations in Jerusalem and Hebron, many of whose families had lived there for generations. That isn’t some kind of contrived post ’48 myth. Those massacres happened.

    The difference between you and me is that you hold only one party responsible for the catastrophe that befell the Palestinian people, whereas I hold all of them responsible.

    I am going to apologize in advance if you respond to this and I don’t add any more comments. This could go on forever…

  12. Again I would like to point out MMs hostile ethnic references to Jews, as in “we have to hear Zionist Jewish organizations clamoring on about Darfur”

    “Jewish” is an ethnic reference, so “Zionist Jewish” is also an ethnic reference.

    Hopefully MM will go away.

  13. He may be welcome, but he is obnoxious.

    “””Zionist Jews have a difficult task ahead of them, realizing the extent to which their project committed in their name and with their direct or indirect participation, in the end has compelled them to commit genocide.”””

  14. MM.

    You didn’t refute Dan’s refutation. If the whole thing was “genocidal” and meant to exlude “98 percent” of the “indigenous population,” then why did they accept the Peel Commission’s recommendation and the UN partition? Why were at least some of their leaders –not just dreamy idealists, but important figures in the Zionist movement–searching for and offering solutions to share the land? You could claim, as some do, that those gestures and plans were just a ruse that hid their true intentions, which were to take over control of Mandatory Palestine. But even if that were true, it is a far cry from favoring and planning genocide. Why throw around inflammatory words like that?

  15. Splitting hairs is time-consuming and a luxury that only those advocating for the Zionist side really enjoy. If it walks like a duck… well, the conditions on the ground, the last century, looks an awful lot like the definition of genocide I provided.

    Dan’s insistence on a shared responsibility is a flimsy argument meant I believe to equivocate about Zionism’s being the prime factor of the Palestinian dispossession and genocide.

    It’s like saying the Nazis were not the only ones responsible for all the civilians they killed, because a few of those civilians tried to fight back, and Zionist agencies didn’t do much to get limits of Jewish emigration to the U.S. and Britian relaxed. To me, that would be ridiculous, the responsibility is still obviously the Nazis, the motives and reactions of others notwithstanding.

    It is good to see a more conscientious Zionism developing though, I just tend to look at the accomplishments of the Israeli and American “left” in the last 20-30 years as rather damning evidence of their irrelevance.

  16. 20-30 years.

    Oslo, Wye River, Taba, recognition of the PLO/recognition of Israel, treaties with Egypt and Jordan, limited sovereignty for the first time that ANY entity was self-governed under the name “Palestine”.

    Only a rejectionist would describe that as “damning evidence”.

  17. “””It’s like saying the Nazis were”””

    First this individual makes derogatory ethnic references to “Jewish Zionists.”

    Now he drops the ethnic component, but compares the Zionists to the Nazis.

    Ignoring the above and addressing whatever other points this person makes is not likely to be productive.

    Is anyone really that desperate to have someone to talk to? There are more moderate supporters of the Palestinians around, if we look.

  18. Don’t have time to say more, but the Zionists (unlike their leadership, e.g. Weizmann) did not accept the Peel plan. This is an often seen error.

  19. I have some recommendations as well, MM.

    Have you read Benny Morris? Baruch Kimmerling? Even Ilan Pappe? on the history of modern Palestine.

    Each describe the Palestinians as experiencing the same global changes that all in the modern world have.

    1. Titling of all land (squatter’s rights renounced)
    2. Industrialization
    3. Globalization of all products (particularly agricultural commodities)
    4. The height and decline of colonialism
    5. Global wars (WW1, WW2, cold war)

    Those factors are independant of Zionism, in the displacement of many individual Palestinian families.

    Of the five, Zionism, a significant factor only in the wake of WW2, and secondarily the cold war.

    It would be useful for you to study.

  20. I think I will pass on someone’s suggestion to visit the following website:

    Again we are dealing with generalized aspersions on Jews, or in this case Israelis. Note the “Leninology” website’s title, “Roots of Israeli barbarism.”

    No good can come from debating the merits of propositions such as “Members of Nationality X are barbaric.”

    It would be interesting to know whether “Leninology” is a far-right website dedicated to exposing the alleged Jewish nature of communism, or a far-left website that reveres Lenin.

    However, I won’t visit the site because sketchy sites like this often give visitors’ computers viruses.

  21. In the site, “lenin” sites mostly Betselem statistics, describing the current environment of harsh and often routinely indiscrimminate treatment of Palestinian civilians, especially during periods of paranoia (heightened security status).

    The site though then goes on to evoke the exageration (the big lies) of “Zionist collaboration with the Nazis” on Jewish emigration out of Europe.

    And, in that, described itself as the left/right anti-semitic thesis pretending to be “historical”.

  22. Yes, Richard, of course those factors were present, and they would have been difficult enough for Palestinians to negotiate without a bunch European interlopers coming in and violently expelling masses of people and carving up the land for themselves, and then visiting Nazi-like horrors on the indigenous resistance.

    Speaking of Ilan Pappe, Richard, did you see his recent article of yesterday:

    A note to Zionist peace activists in general:

    It destroys every shread of credibility one might have had as a “peace activist” when in the last 8 years of Israeli “unilateralism”, the portion of the West Bank under Israeli colonization has grown to 50% of its entirety, and one’s principal concern is minding anti-Zionist activists’ tone.

    Some are obviously interested in painting a picture of Hamas as impossible to negotiate with, though evidence points to the contrary. This is to cover for Israeli violence and rejectionism toward the peace process.

    Some Zionist peace activists have even partaken in the demonization of Iran, trying to spread hysteria about Iranian nuclear weapons that even worst case scenario predictions (and Tipzi Livni, off the record) hold wouldn’t amount the slightest threat to the enormous undeclared Israeli arsenal (which is a raised middle finger to international law and non-proliferation, yet again most Zionist peace activists don’t seem to mind).

  23. The book of Pappe’s that is interesting, actual history (from a Marxist perspective) at least until near the present, where he grows more polemical, is “The History of the Palestinian People”, siting many of the same references as Baruch Kimmerling.

    “Ironically”, the two describe a 20th century upheaval in Palestinian life, both socially and politically, that is radical in the scope of the change that Palestinians (everyone in the world really), experienced.

    Certainly, the nakba occurred. Palestinians were dispossessed. And, certainly, there is the appearance of the nakba continuing in the form of continuing expansion of the settlements.

    Even the bombing of the Jerusalem yeshiva is a cruel irony for Palestinians, with nearly inevitably unintended consequences of sympathy for the yeshiva students extending to sympathy for the ideology of the particular yeshiva (the theological center of the Gush Enumin movement).

    What evidence do you have that Hamas is reliable in its negotiation and adherence? Many advocate dialog with Hamas. Few advocate trust of Hamas.

    During the last Hudna, Hamas refrained from shelling Sderot in its own name, but was reported to have assisted Islamic Jihad shelling with materials provided by Hamas groups.

    Consider the ambiguity of responsibility for the Jerusalem massacre. Hamas didn’t know if it had undertaken the murders themselves or not. They first denied responsibility (while blessing it), then assumed responsibility, now says that they don’t know.

    Is that discipline with the prospect of accountability in your mind?

  24. “””visiting Nazi-like horrors”””

    In this type of invective, the Nazi rhetoric and/or the ethnic references to Jews are the payload. The argumentation surrounding it is just the delivery system.

    Attempting to respond to the accompanying argumentation is pointless. You will just get another salvo containing the payload.

    You might as well argue with the people firing rockets from Gaza.

  25. MM,

    I am very curious. These are sincere questions, not rhetorical ones meant to be used as debate tactics. Please keep in mind that I completely agree with you (I think) that the Israeli responses in both Gaza and Lebanon were inexcusable, and the dismissal of civilian deaths as inevitable collateral damage is shameful. Most mainstream American Jews, including the APN types, want nothing to do with me. But I am often befuddled by people with your perspective, so I would like to know:

    1) In your opinion, is there anything the Palestinians have done since the Zionists arrived or since the State was founded that was not justifiable in your mind? For example, the Mufti of Jerusalem openly collaborated with Hitler. There were all the bus bombings and other terrorist acts in 1996 and ’97 at a time when at least some people thought there was still a chance for the Oslo process to succeed. Were they justified?

    Is there any action they could take in the future that would not be justifable?

    2) Given current realities, in the absence of productive negotiations or a peace process that offers much hope, is there anything the Israelis could do to protect themselves against suicide bombers that would be justifiable and reasonable to you? That is, are there any security measures, as opposed to diplomatic acts?

  26. MM,
    Yes, Israel was guilty of ethnic cleansing in 1948; but it was not the type of cleansing that occurred in the Balkans in the 1990s. Rather, it was the type that occurred only two-three years earlier in Central Europe where the local populations cleansed ethnic Germans out of their countries as a form of revenge and a security measure. As Hitler had used ethnic mobilization of the ethnic German majority in Austria and the ethnic German minorities in Czechoslovakia and Poland (Danzig and the surrounding area)these states and others like Hungary and Yugoslavia did not want to take any chance in future conflicts. So the governments and populations forced ethnic Germans out of Vojvodina, Yugoslavia, out of western Poland, Hungary, and out of the Sudetenland. Many of these same people committing the ethnic cleansing had also done the same to the Jews of Central Europe.

    The United States also ethnically cleansed the Creek Indian population out of much of Alabama following the Creek War that occurred during the War of 1812. The United States cleansed the Seminole Indians out of northern Florida once it purchased the territory from Spain in 1821.

    The Arabs cleansed Jews from the Etzion bloc of settlements near Bethlehem and from the Old City of Jerusalem in 1948, and had plans to cleanse them from many other areas in Palestine in 1948.

  27. Richard, the spokesperson for Hamas recently gave an interview to al-Jazeera, which can be watched here:

    I highly suggest that you read the “About this Video” provided on the right side of that link.

    Will you denounce American and Israeli meddling in Palestinian elections?

    Another question: Do you think peace with Hamas is achievable through violence and sabotage?


    To go into a discussion of Palestinian tactics in response to Zionist imposition is a deflection tactic, whether you realize it or not.

    Of course if the Palestinians were to, say, lay siege to Israel and bomb its infrastructure and kills hundreds of civilians in days, or arresting and torturing several thousand civilians per year, then yes, that would be unjustifiable. I find attempts to focus on the current qassam rockets or Jerusalem shooting spree to again be part of a deflection away from the fact that the Palestinians’ dispossession occurred, grows on a nearly daily basis, and they have never been compensated for it.

    The nonsense about the Mufti of Jerusalem I find equally irrelevant to what Zionism is and what has been done in its course. It is however a convenient way of trying to paint the Palestinians as Nazi sympathizers, because one happened to be.

    As for security measures, regarding the qassams, I don’t know maybe Israel could buy a few less F-16s and take that several hundred million dollars and relocate the people of Sderot to more secure locations? Suicide bombers are a more difficult proposition, but imagine how much more economic opportunity there would be in Palestine if, say, half of Israel’s defense budget were put towards investment in the territories, or if, say, there were a Nakba survivors welfare fund such as the Holocaust survivors check that Germany still cuts every year. (That of course wouldn’t line any military industrial pockets, however.)

  28. Teddy asked someone “””In your opinion, is there anything the Palestinians have done since the Zionists arrived or since the State was founded that was not justifiable in your mind?”””

    I knew that the individual Teddy questioned would refuse to answer. Attempts to engage this individual in a Socratic exchange of views in which people make points, ask questions and other people respond has failed.

  29. “””Attempts to engage this individual in a Socratic exchange of views in which people make points, ask questions and other people respond has failed.”””

    I meant, “have failed.”

  30. Thanks, MM. I guess the answer is no. I figured there is no behavior by any Palestinian Arab in the last 100 years that you object to. Say hello to Luke Skywalker for me.

  31. Teddy, bizarre obsession, in the midst of genocide, you have with the conduct of the victims.

    Let me ask you, just to drive the point home, was there anything that European Jews did wrong up to and including the time of the Holocaust?

    (Isn’t that a pretty perverse question?)

  32. MM,
    The signficance of the questions are that you pose that Zionists are victimizers and Palestinians are victims.

    That Palestinians suffer rings true, and that Israel is a large component of that suffering continuing, rings true.

    But, the conclusion that a peace-seeker derives from that observation is what practically can be done? (not in hopelessness, but in actual effort).

    And, in that inquiry, the hope is that by Israelis and supporters acknowledging x condition that could be made different, and Palestinians and supporters acknowledging y condition could be made different, the various parties can collaborate in change.

    If the conflict is in fact a conflict and not solely an oppression, then anything less than mutual reflection results in no change.

    From my studies, I observe that the conflict is a conflict, a cycle of violence, and NOT as Meshal portrayed solely an oppression.

    Frankly, that you refer to the current and historical condition as solely an oppression, indicates to me that you are gullible (or intentionally blameful), rather than thoughtful, and rather than committed.

  33. Okay, since Luke Skywalker’s friend keeps deflecting questions about Hamas’ guilt by referring to the Nazis, let’s talk about the real-life Nazis 70 years ago:

    “Civil servants played an equally key role in the “atonement payment” (Judenbusse) of one billion reichsmarks that Hermann Goring, in a fit of anti-Semitic fervor, ordered Jews to pay in 1938. The Finance Ministry translated this demand into a 20 percent levy on personal assets, to be paid in four installments over the course of a year. In the end, the money raised significantly exceeded Goring’s original figure.”–Hitler’s Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War and the Nazi Welfare State by Gotz Aly, pg, 18, 2006.

    Clearly the Nazis, even before they killed Jews en masse, believed in the Jews’ collective guilt.

    A reasonable person might conclude that, just to take two examples, the massive shelling of Sderot and Ashkelon, and the murders in the Jerusalem rabbinical seminary, indicate that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, et al believe in the collective guilt of the Israeli Jews.

    As do the supporters of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, et al.

    As the Nazis believed in the collective guilt of the European Jews.

  34. Richard, if you are earnest, and I do have my doubts that peace is more valuable to you than the maintenance of the exclusively Jewish state and its “special relationship” with the United States military empire, then this post by lenin, which examines carefully the real prospects for peace, should be of interest to you:

    Aside from your contention that “conflict” in the region did NOT arise out of oppression, but somehow independently of it (am I getting that right?), I think you will find that lenin is realistic and fair toward the two-state side, and critical of the one-state idea, those he states outright his personal sympathies for the latter.

    Both ideas seem exceedingly unrealistic, downright impossible.

    It is wrong and ultimately dishonest for you to try to contend that Palestinians have equal responsibility in the resolution of this conflict, which I and many others feel is a direct outgrowth of their initial dispossession.

    If you prefer not to read the post, I would like to know what you make of this statement in particular:

    “Let us suppose the increasingly improbable anyway. Suppose that with a two-state settlement in mind, based on UN resolutions 242 and 338 (both formulated when there was much more chance of their being successful), the Palestinian movement acquired reserves of strength and clout hitherto denied it. Let us say it acquired the ability to force an Israeli retreat from the West Bank, and end to the occupation of Gaza, the creation of a unified state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and some kind of settlement for the refugees. Such, the two-state argument says, is eminently possible, though most of its advocates acknowledge that it would not be justice. I agree that it is possible, at least, and that it would represent an improvement in the condition of Palestinians. It would go some small way to meeting the claims of justice, and by ending the war, it could undermine some of the key expansionist agents in Israeli society. It could even open up new possibilities for critical and post-Zionist thought to emerge in Israel, although there is no evidence from past partitions that this is likely to be the case. On the contrary, it would seem to bolster the logic of Zionism and potentially lead to the expulsion of Israeli Arabs who are already in an embattled position. And so long as the United States wished for a strong Israel, the latter would have the resources to defensively recuperate its military position. It would still have its nuclear weapons, a string of bought Arab regimes, a powerful intelligence service and an aggressive posture toward the region as a whole. It could easily formulate or provoke a pretext for re-invasion and annexation. Statehood is no protection from Israeli aggression as surrounding states have discovered. After all, the basis for present-day Palestine in the two-stare vision is territory taken from Jordanian and Egyptian occupation in 1967. And should Israel embroil itself in any regional war that could threaten its own existence, it is sworn to massive retalitatory attacks possibly using its nuclear weapons – the crazy Samson Option. So, the question is, without fundamentally altering the Zionist polity, would a two-state settlement be the basis for peace and stability, even if not for justice, that it is claimed to be? On the basis of the foregoing adumbrations it seems dubious.”

  35. Luke Skywalker’s friend refuses to answer the question put to him several times, namely, have Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, PFLP, take your pick, every committed any injustices against Israelis?

    Teddy, after fruitlessly getting stonewalled by Luke Skywalker’s friend, concluded:

    “””Thanks, MM. I guess the answer is no. I figured there is no behavior by any Palestinian Arab in the last 100 years that you object to. Say hello to Luke Skywalker for me.”””

  36. MM,

    The choice for both Israelis and Palestinians is a deeply flawed two-state solution that probably won’t work and may well end up in the scenario noted above, but at least has a chance to yield a new and different power dynamic between the two peoples and…

    An even more deeply flawed single-state solution that cannot possibly work and, more importantly, that polls show most Israelis as well as Palestinians want no part of. So there is no credible way to reach that solution, no political part from A to B. There is only the violent path of Palestinian rejectionists and their co-equals among Israelis, the transfer advocates.

    In the meantime, Palestinians are suffering. That is a horrible situation. If you want to end their suffering, as I do, the occupation must end. The only feasible way to end it is with two separate polities that are agreed upon in some kind of negotiated framework, perhaps under an international umbrella. That is a long shot, perhaps a pipe dream. But it is not beyond the realm of the possible. ANY other solution is.

  37. The word “rejectionism” applies much more to the Zionist side, Dan, and I think it is dishonest for you to suggest otherwise. Can you point me to your research that reveals Palestinians wouldn’t want to live in a bi-national state? You seem very convinced.

    Perhaps your response to Jonathan Cook’s article in counterpunch, where he addresses several of your arguments, would make a good blog post:

  38. As I was pointing out before, the Nazis believed strongly in the collective guilt of the European Jews. They therefore believed that all acts of violence against European Jews were justified.

    I mention it because Luke Skywalker’s friend, who posted above me, believes in the collective guilt of Israeli Jews, and the justice of violence intentionally directed at Israeli Jewish civilians.

    Teddy wisely asked Luke Skywalker’s friend whether there were ANY acts of violence by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah against Israelis which were not justified, and this individual repeatedly refused to answer.

    Teddy then responded ““””Thanks, MM. I guess the answer is no. I figured there is no behavior by any Palestinian Arab in the last 100 years that you object to. Say hello to Luke Skywalker for me.””””

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